David Holt and Southern Folk Music

David Holt’s State of Music: 30s promo for UNC-TV from Will & Deni Films on Vimeo.

From David Holt TV:

David Holt has spent his life learning and performing traditional American music. It has taken him from the most remote coves of southern Appalachia to the bright lights of TV studios and the Grand Old Opry stage. In this show, David introduces viewers to modern masters of traditional music in the Southern mountains and remembers the legends who taught him.

Mark your calendar for Thursday, January 29. David Holt will host this personal tour of traditional Southern folk music on public TV. This should be good!

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Best fiction and writing blogs

Ezra

The best fiction and writing blogs, compiled by il miglior fabbro

It’s time to plan for the new year, so let’s focus on how to improve our writing. Here are the best resources I discovered in the past year. 2014 was a pretty good writing year for me. I hope these pointers will work for you, too. Enjoy!

Write on the River: 16 Thoughts for Authors/Publishing for 2015 [Wow! Don’t miss this]
Amina Gautier: Joy of Revision
A Writer’s Path: Writer’s Toolbox [More like the super-writer’s utility belt! See for yourself.}
Hugh Hart: 8 Tips For Creating Great Stories From George R.R. Martin
Jordan Dane: Five Key Ways to Make Your Characters Memorable
Jodie Renner: Get into Your Protagonist’s Head 
Chuck Palahniuk: Eliminate “Thought” from your writing! [The single best pointer of the year for me]
Steven James: Pump Up Your Creativity

The Call of Lovecraft

Now this is fun! Take an armchair tour of Providence, Rhode Island, where H.P. Lovecraft lived most of his life. It’s eerie to see the actual sites from Lovecraft’s home town that made their way into so much of his fiction. The accompanying text shows real understanding of this tortured but gifted author’s work and vision.

Be careful, though — the Old Ones are always near. And Cthulhu doesn’t like to have his dreams interrupted.

The Writer’s First Commandment

Cameron

The Writer’s First Commandment is: Read. Write. Repeat. Read everything you can get your hands on, because you never know where story ideas will come from.

For example, one of Aesop’s fables provided the inspiration for my flash fiction piece Cameron Obscura:

AN ASTRONOMER used to go out at night to observe the stars. One evening, as he wandered through the suburbs with his whole attention fixed on the sky, he fell accidentally into a deep well. While he lamented and bewailed his sores and bruises, and cried loudly for help, a neighbor ran to the well, and learning what had happened said: “Hark ye, old fellow, why, in striving to pry into what is in heaven, do you not manage to see what is on earth?”

That got me to thinking about a TV news story I’d seen years earlier about two boys who had to be rescued from a well they got stuck in while trying to see stars during the day. They learned two valuable lessons: You can’t see stars from the bottom of a well when the sun’s shining. And it’s easier to get into a deep hole than to get out of it.

The character I imagined getting into such a situation was based on the brother of a college girlfriend. He was autistic, and took things very literally. It fascinated me how this very sweet, kind-hearted young man could tell you all about his impressive insect collection, but couldn’t fix a meal for himself.

The final element came from an article I’d recently read. I’ve always been a science buff, and faithfully keep up with Dr. Daniel Caton, an astronomer who writes a regular column for the Charlotte Observer. In that article, Caton counseled amateur astronomers not to regret their decision to pack up their equipment when bad weather interferes with their stargazing. Yes, the sky might clear up hours later, but it’s better to live with your choice and return later, fully rested.

These various elements came together nicely into my story, and Fabula Argentea accepted it. It occurred to me that I should let Dr. Caton know his column had inspired it. He was pleased to hear this:

Mike,

I loved the story! I’m glad that adding the “never look back” made the difference in getting it published. I liked the title, too–a clever play on words.

And, thanks for the kind words on my column. May I Tweet/FB the link to the story?

Dr. Daniel B. Caton, Ph.D.

He tweeted my story to his followers, and another astronomer re-tweeted it.

I think C.P. Snow would have approved.

Have a Merry Cowboy Christmas!

RockinK

On Sunday, I attended the annual Christmas present giveaway for Lumbee and Choctaw children at the Rockin K Ranch in Huntersville, North Carolina. The kids got bikes, tons of candy, and clothes.

The little buckboard above that’s all gussied up for Christmas sat in a corner of the dance hall. I loved it and the Wild West paraphernalia around it. Click on the image to enlarge, and be sure to check out the Lone Ranger movie poster on the wall. I figured I had to share it with you.

Merry Christmas one and all!