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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Monday, September 2, 2013

JoAnna Senger - Guest Blog

What Writing Means To Me
Around the age of four, I fell in love with the letters of the alphabet. Following the philosophy of the day, my parents would not teach me to read but spent dutiful hours reading to me. The letter “y” and the “w” with all its syllables sounded so exotic.  I would hear my parents spell out words (y-e-s spells “yes”), but I didn’t know which of the squiggles in my books was a “y” or a “w.”  Fascinating and frustrating. 
Then…school!  I remember being so surprised at the appearance of a “y.”  What a disappointing letter!  It was squat and had an appendage hanging down below the line.  I thought it should look more like a “b” or a “d.” As time went on, I got used to its appearance and forgave the “y” for laying down on the job, so to speak.  I learned all my letters.  Letters began to make words, words became stories, and then teachers were asking me to write! 
         Was I a big girl or what?!
         Since those grade school days, I have written skits, essays, stories, policies and procedures, legal documents, books, anything else assigned to me, and other stuff just for fun. 
         Writing is so self-indulgent that I often wonder why everyone doesn’t spend their free time with a pen in hand (or a keyboard at their fingers).  Don’t like someone?  Bump them off.  Someone is a pompous jerk?  Hold them up to ridicule.  Spouse is an affront to the human race?  Take a lover…between the pages.
         Finally, serious fiction called to me.  At least, I was serious about writing it, primarily mysteries and horror.  Distinct genres in the bookstores, they are just slants on real life as far as I am concerned.  Mysteries have entertained me all my reading life, so I try to return the favor.  The analyst in me loves the precision of mystery plot development, clues appearing all along the way but in a manner to elude or mislead the reader.  The clues have to be there, the author must play fair.  Without the clues, the book becomes crime detection, another entertaining genre but not a mystery.  I particularly like mysteries in which the reader figures out “who dun it” but the characters don’t, plodding on in dull ignorance of the carnage all around them.
         Like garlic, horror is a strong flavor best introduced slowly until the reader is saturated with its odor.  Of all the literary genres, horror has the most difficulty in achieving respectability, yet its power is the least diminished over time.  Only the romance is as enduring.  The fear of darkness, the sinking despair of betrayal, the panic of confinement and torture, the irresistible urge to open the locked door, these are all horror literary devices and still effective when done skillfully. 
I prefer horror which is just one step outside of daily life, a small but jarring detail only slightly out of place, like a piece of glass in your ice cream cone.  Oh well, remove it and keep on eating.  Licking.  Enjoying all that creamy coldness until you find another piece of glass, and this one cuts.  You look around and everyone in the ice cream parlor is looking at you, and all of them are bleeding from the mouth.  And smiling.
         You get the idea.
         Regardless of what we write or how we write it, those words on paper are our ticket to the grand show: the unbroken human story-telling tradition that began on cave walls, got chiseled into stone tablets, engraved and painted on pyramid chambers, copied laboriously by armies of scribes and monks, and now flies through the ether according to physical principles that most of us poorly understand if we understand them at all.
         Why do we do it?  Paid or not, published or not, successful or not, we just want to tell a story.  It’s the story that matters, not the method or the language or even the writer. 
And we all know it.
JoAnna Senger

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