Brave As They Come

First draft, hand written at age 15 15073331_10211207317488678_8552780541089342823_n  Literature 9 | Mrs. Tucker | March 2, 1972


 “Brave As They Come”bJulie Benning

Gina Carr opened her eyes slowly and gasped from the smelling salts. She had just been told that her daughter, her only child, had leukemia. It was a dream, a horrible nightmare.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Carr. I tried to tell you as best I could.” Dr Johns helped her to her feet. “Will you be all right?”

“I–I think so. Doctor, are you sure you haven’t made a mistake? Is there really nothing you can do for George?”

“I only wish there was something I could do.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “I know that if there was a way to help, you’d find it. Two years, when she’s just begun to live! It’s so unfair!”

“Cancer doesn’t play fair.”

“Don’t tell her Doctor, please!”

“She’ll have to be told sometime, you know. The sooner the better.”

“I know. Goodbye. Thank you for all you’ve done.”

“I’m truly sorry, Gina,” he said, walking her to the door.

* * *

George Melissa Carr looked up thoughtfully from her book. She was a lot like this girl. They both had red hair, brown eyes, and a silly name. Wonder what Dr. Johns will say’s the matter with me? Probably nothing. Mom’s such a worrier anyway. There she was now.

“Hi Mom,” she called, sliding down the banister. “Nothing wrong with me, I’ll bet.”

How Gina longed to say no! Instead she said, “Well, nothing really serious. Just something about your blood not having enough red cells. You’ll have to be treated about every three weeks.”

“Will it keep me from sports?” One of George’s main interests was sports. “I have to be in that swim meet Sunday.”

“No, but you’ll have to take it easy a while.” Gina felt terrible telling these lies, but how could she mar George’s happiness?

George looked relieved. “As long as I can stay in sports that’s not too bad really. Mom? Are you okay?”

Mrs. Carr looked rather pale.

“Just a little headache.” She pointed at George’s jacket. “Put this away, will you?”

“Sure. Hey! I have to go uptown. All right with you?”

“Go right ahead, dear.”

George flew down the street and to the police station. She sat down and quickly combed her long, curly locks. As far as she could tell, she’d passed.

“Captain Williams will see George Carr now.” A young officer smiled over her, then looked surprised as she got up. “You’re George Carr?” I thought–”

“I know. My name is just plain George, not short for Georgette or Georgia, either. My father wanted a boy and got stuck with me. Okay?”

He grinned sheepishly. “George.” He shook his head. “Silly name for a girl.”

When she walked into the captain’s office she had to tell the same story.

“Well, well,” the captain said with a chuckle. “About your application. Sure you want to take it? It’s very dangerous most of the time. You could be murdered, even.”

“I could be murdered when I walk out of here. New York isn’t the friendliest city I’ve seen. I really want this job.”

“I’m willing to take you on. What have your parents to say?”

“I haven’t told them, but they won’t stop me. Anyway, I’m past eighteen.”

“Come in tomorrow at eight.” He stood up and shook her hand. “Welcome to the force, Miss Carr.”

“Thank you, sir.” Her voice trilled with excitement.

Wow! She thought, walking home. Me, George Carr, undercover agent for the New York Police, Precinct 950. If the kids could see me now!

As it happened, Mr. and Mrs. Carr were far from thrilled. In fact, they disapproved. Highly.

At least they consented. After all, what could they really do? She was old enough to know her own mind.

* * *

George was really happy these days. The guys at the station all loved her. She made everyone feel good with her silliness. She had an apartment all her own, to used when needed “on the wrong side of the tracks.” It wasn’t a very trustworthy part of town.

Already she had helped bring five nationally wanted criminals, numerous junkies, and petty thieves to justice. Her days had barely a moment free. Also, she had been attending Dr. Johns for treatment. Somehow, she knew she wasn’t being told everything.

The Carrs could never bring themselves to mar her happiness. They had decided they would never tell.

But today was different. George was tired of the sorrowful glances on people’s faces when they looked at her. Her mother’s eyes were often red. Bluntly she said, “Dr. Johns, what’s really wrong with me? I want the truth. Now.”

Dr. Johns looked away a moment and replied. “Your mother asked me not to tell. She said she’d do it herself.”

“Well, she hasn’t.”

He turned and faced her. “This may sound blunt, but there’s no kind way to say it. George, you have leukemia.”

“What!” Her voice was a barely audible gasp. The office reeled, and she caught the chair arm. “Leukemia? How can it be?”

“Nobody really knows.” He laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Don’t hold it against your parents for not telling you. They just couldn’t.”

A feeling of love for her parents suddenly filled her. Always, they thought of her happiness.

“I — won’t.” George was remarkably calm outside, but inside she felt choked. “How — how long have I got left?”

“A year, maybe two.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” She ran from the office and blindly to her apartment. She quite thoroughly cried herself to sleep.

* * *

The next morning, George smiled gaily as she walked into the office. She called hi to all the boys and walked into Captain Williams’ office. “Sir, are you sorry you took me on?”

He looked astounded. “Why of course not! You’re one of the most valuable people on this force. We never could have caught Scraggs without you, or half of the others. What kind of silly question is that?”

“Do you know I have leukemia?”

His eyes widened in sympathy. For once, his booming voice was gentled. “No lassie. I’m so sorry.”

“Will you release me now that you know?”

“Do you want me to?”

She shook her head.

“Then of course not. The reason I asked you int today was to ask if you could take on this case.” Carefully, he outlined a scheme to capture one of America’s most wanted men. They had a lead that he was in the city. He had a weakness for night clubs, alcohol, and women. This would be George’s most dangerous mission.

“What do you think?” the captain asked.

“I’ll do it.”

“If you slip up, it could be tragic.”

“I know, and I’ll do it.”

* * *

George was dressed in a slinky black gown that evening and looked very alluring. In her purse was a picture of Thomas Jenks, though he wasn’t hard to find. You don’t see such an ugly man often, she thought.

She walked over to his table. “Saved for anyone?”

“For you, beautiful,” he answered. Mr. Jenks was getting quite drunk. With each drink he became more talkative, and it wasn’t long before the condemning evidence was on tape.

George glanced at Howard the bartender, then nodded slightly. Surreptitiously, he slipped back to a phone. In minutes, the police were everywhere.

Jenks grabbed her arm. “Fools! You can’t get me, or I’ll kill her,” he slurred, drunkenly backing toward the door. He tripped on a chair leg and the gun went off.

With a groan, George slipped to the floor.

Jenks was handcuffed, and George remembered leaving on a stretcher.

* * *

When she awoke, her mother was bending over her, tears streaming down her face.

“Did we get him?”

“Yes. Yes, George, you did. Oh, darling, everything will be all right, and you’ll quit this job immediately.”

“No. Everything won’t be all right. I won’t have to quit, Mama. I’m going to die soon. I know about the leukemia. Thank you for, though, for trying not to spoil my happiness. It didn’t. Not really.”

She had rarely spoken of religion. “I’m not really dying, I’m just going to my father in Heaven, where there’s no pain or death. I’ll wait for you both there. I love you both so much. Please — give the boys my best. Goodbye Mama, Papa.”

A beatific smile crossed her face, and her eyes closed.

“Brave as they come,” Mr. Carr murmured, and they bent their heads in grief.


Teacher’s note: “An excellent story. Kept the reader’s interest every minute.” Grade: A


Julie sharply criticized not just the death penalty, but life imprisonment. In a May 8, 1975, high school newspaper editorial, she wrote:

“Murder is a horrible crime to commit and, of course the offender must be punished, but does that mean he should rot in prison until he dies? I don’t think so . . . nor do I think any person has the right to say someone should never be let out of prison, or give them the death penalty.” She urged her readers to “Put yourself in their shoes — the convicts are still humans, too. I hope people will be willing to help them and lend support in convicts’ efforts to rehabilitate themselves.”

Six months later, the “opinionated,” outspoken, and often censored teenager was murdered, three weeks before her 19th birthday. Drug traffickers in small-town Waverly, IA, are the primary suspects. Local police officers launched a smear campaign loaded with red herrings, rumors, character assassinations, and cover-ups.

6-member strike force to aid agencies in rural drug-busting By David Yepsen and Paul Leavitt  Oct. 12, 1975  5A

Saying “all indications are that there is an increasing drug problem, especially in the rural areas” of Iowa, the state director of narcotics and drug enforcement announced last week the formation of a six-member “strike force” to aid local  law enforcement agencies in rural drug-busting efforts. The agents will work out of offices in six Iowa cities: Sioux City, Council Bluffs. Des Moines, Mason City, Burlington and Davenport to provide, them easy access to rural areas. G. Hank Mayer, the director of the narcotics unit, said the agency recently obtained a $225,000 grant from the Iowa Crime Commission to finance the force.

Julie Benning with boulder-sized rock Iowa Cold Cases Jody Ewing says December 13, 2014 at 12:54 am   Julie was such a beautiful and talented young woman, and I’m certain there are still people out there who know exactly who’s responsible. They may hide (sometimes in plain sight), but at least we can serve as a regular reminder that these victims’ lives will not be forgotten and their unsolved cases won’t eventually just “quietly go away.” For many of these killers, the day will come when they get that dreaded knock on the door. I like to think of the wall plaque that hung on Warden Norton’s office wall (from Shawshank Redemption) proclaiming, “His judgment cometh, and that right soon.” The one(s) who “cometh,” however, will be bearing handcuffs and an arrest warrant. 

For more details click on Jody Ewing’s “Iowa Cold Cases” website. Thousands of unpaid hours of volunteer work on hundreds of unsolved Iowa murders have kept Jody too busy to get her own novels polished and published, but watch out – Jody is a writer of immense talent, passion, and story telling skill. Give her time, and Jody will deliver the sad, sordid truth hidden in these mysterious tragedies, all in the guise of fiction.
14955970_10211213833251568_6709528471570821599_nSome of Julie’s favorites – she was an avid reader and writer

1743699_10203349826176306_1226420212_n  222895_1927515181741_3251896_n[1]

Case # 76-00382 – Homicide

Julia “Julie” Ann Benning age 18
Disappeared From: Waverly, IA | Bremer County | Body Found in: Shell Rock, IA
Butler County
Investigating Agencies: Federal Bureau of Investigation and
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
Date of Death: November 28, 1975 | Body Recovered: March 18, 1976

Like roadside trash, her body was disposed of in a culvert, under a gravel road like the one shown here, a mere six miles from home. Spring rains washed her out into a ditch, where a road grader operator spotted a muddy body stripped of all clothing and all dignity.1393501_10202177797116312_397306530_nHere, a gravel road Julie walked; here, the lone nephew and three of the seven nieces she never met. Life goes on. Julie lives on in our memories but it’s like the epitaph for a WWI soldier at the cemetery where Julie is buried:

 A loved one from us has gone,

A voice we loved is stilled;

An empty place is in our homes

That never can be filled.




HOW YOU CAN HELP: Anyone with information about Julia Benning’s unsolved murder is asked to contact contact Special Agent Jon Moeller at the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 712-258-1920. “Gone Cold,” a series of stories exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders, the Des Moines Register


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Flood, Famine, Mystery and “Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilizations” by Roger G. Kennedy

Most people do not know that for 5000 years, until as recently as the 18th century, the Ohio and Mississippi valleys were home to well organized, highly advanced civilizations.

Massive Mississippi Floods may have contributed to the ultimate downfall of the Cahokia civilization near St. Louis. Pictured: This is a modeled map of Cahokia and present-day St. Louis after the historic 1844 flood of the Mississippi River.  Sediment samples beneath two lakes in the Mississippi floodplain, Horseshoe Lake and Grassy Lake, show at least eight major flood events in the central Mississippi River valley. This may finally help explain the mysterious decline of Cahokia, near present-day St. Louis.The city rose to fame during a relatively arid and flood-free period and flourished in the years before a major flood in 1200, according to the study. But just 200 years later, Cahokia was completely abandoned.

American Indians built huge geometrical structures to precisely related dimensions across distances of hundreds of miles. They lived in cities such as Balbansha, near present-day New Orleans, that were filled with carefully planned buildings, plazas, and streets. And they walked on highways like the Great Hope Road, a causeway for religious pilgrims that was begun in the 13th century.  In describing their discovery by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers, this book holds a mirror to distant and recent ancestors, as well as to deeply ingrained misconceptions about the past of the American continent. Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilizations by Roger G. Kennedy  Publisher: Free Press; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (July 1, 1994)

From Library Journal

Kennedy, an architectural historian and director of the National Park Service, examines how certain of the Founding Fathers-particularly Washington, Jefferson, and Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin-set out to create a nation free from the prejudices and superstitions of Europe and how they became aware that they missed a great opportunity in the West. He uses their reactions to the mound architecture of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys as the filter for their views on the status of Native Americans and blacks. He also reviews the rationales others used in explaining away the mounds and considers why the mounds were built in the first place. Solidly grounded in archaeological and historical sources, this book requires some effort on the part of the reader to follow Kennedy’s argument; it will be most useful to those already well versed in early American history and archaeology. Recom-mended for specialists.
Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Kennedy, director of the National Park Service, does better in exposing the prejudices of whites who came across the monuments of prehistoric America than in elucidating the mysteries embodied in these New World Stonehenges. An estimated 30 million Native Americans died of European or African diseases during the century following the conquistadors’ appearance in the Western Hemisphere. They left behind significant traces of sophisticated cities, roads, and burial grounds in Memphis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and elsewhere in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. Later explorers and soldiers beheld these relics–which included bits of antiquities, earthen mounds and various geometrical shapes carved into the landscape–with wonder, confusion, and obtuseness. Kennedy (Rediscovering America, 1990, etc.) perceptively analyzes how attempts to preserve and interpret Native American arts and architecture often foundered on the ingrained prejudices of even supposedly enlightened whites. (Thomas Jefferson, for example, was slow to shed his belief that Indians were incapable of architectural achievement.) Jeffersonians and Jacksonians found it easier to deprive Native Americans of land if they could deny that the Indians had a culture worth saving. They failed to follow the lead of such respectful figures as Jefferson’s Treasury secretary, Albert Gallatin, described by Kennedy as “the first American statesman to employ the evidence of ancient American architecture to justify exertions to redeem the Republic from racial prejudice.” The American mania for development, combined with dismissive scholarship that credited Indian achievements to fair-skinned “Welshmen” who supposedly discovered North America in the Middle Ages, led to a cavalier attitude toward Native American artifacts. By 1948, 90% of the earthen Indian architecture noted in a Smithsonian report 100 years earlier had been lost. Best read as an exploration of colliding cultures rather than an examination of the riddles left behind by Native American builders. — Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Being hateful in the name of combating hate is not effective ~ Craig A. Hart

Who said it best, when everyone was saying what they thought of the 2016 Presidential election?  0bhbad0-_400x400 A novelist, of course!

Craig Hart posted today on Facebook:

Hillary supporters –

Listen. I support you, okay? I understand your pain, your fear, your bitter disappointment. But we need to have a talk. You need to stop pretending that everyone who opposed you is a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, or any of the other insulting labels you lob indiscriminately. Parading under the banner of tolerance does not give you the right to be intolerant. If you think everyone who voted for Trump is a bigot or an idiot, you live in an echo chamber of dangerously massive proportions. This is the same echo chamber that made you think Clinton was going to win over 400 electoral votes and 60% of the popular vote (which was never a real possibility). This is the same echo chamber that made you believe all bad things about your political opponent and dismiss all the bad things about your chosen candidate (they are both deeply flawed). This is the same echo chamber that is giving rise to the democratically illegitimate push to overthrow the Electoral College. And it is the same echo chamber that will lead to more defeat if you don’t…just…stop it.

Trump did not win the election because half of the country hates blacks, women, and gays. Trump won because a huge portion of the country felt ignored and left behind. They felt—and are feeling—real pain. Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have large populations of people who have experienced real pain over the last twenty-five years. I’m from Michigan; I saw it happen. When my parents first moved to Michigan, it was still booming. Then began the Great Decline. Michael Moore’s film Roger & Me does an excellent job laying this out. And similar things happened throughout the Rust Belt. So tell me: did Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin—all of which voted for Obama twice—suddenly become full of racists and bigots? You know they didn’t. What they are full of, however, are lower-middle class people who are fucking tired of being ignored by Washington, D.C., and having elite politicians make destructive rules from which they themselves are exempt. It’s why Bernie Sanders won Michigan in a stunning primary victory. Clinton should have seen this coming, being one of these elites.

Are there unsavory people who voted for Trump? Certainly. And there are scary people who voted for Clinton. Bad, violent people are doing bad, violent things on both sides. There are reports of Trump supporters harassing gays and blacks. There are reports of Clinton supporters beating up Trump supporters. It Must Stop. However, exit polling data supports the fact that the vast majority of people who voted for either candidate just want their country to be a better place for themselves and their children. So, please: go ahead and disagree and exercise your rights. But don’t think that being hateful in the name of combating hate is an effective or excusable strategy. You are certainly welcome to continue opposing Trump. (Although I personally think it would be better to just begin the healing process.) But stop shaming the people. Okay? Just stop it. You’re embarrassing me.

– Your loving buddy

Bravo! Well said, Craig!

Craig and I met via Twitter…

#Writer, stay-at-home dad, author of the Shelby Alexander #Thriller Series #BookReviewer

…then face to face at a book signing. He’s even sweeter in person.(Yes, ironically, it’s possible for the author of a brutal crime thriller to be sweet.)

Check out his author page:

The Girl Who Read Hemingway is a collection of ten short fiction pieces. 51fa2sk6zwl In “The Diner,” it is a dark, rainy night and a strange man lingers at a cafe. “Route 9” introduces us to an aging writer with one last shot at success, while “Motel” tells the tale of a couple hiding in an abandoned motel. “A Paragraph on Love” relates the desperate thoughts of a lonely man reflecting on his obsession with a woman, and two lifelong friends go fishing in “The Lake” for the last time. These and other stories explore the bleaker side of humanity and take an unflinching look at the darkness hiding inside of us all.

Serenity (The Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Book 1) by Craig A. Hart

“Serenity” is anything but serene, as small towns and novels go. I had to man up and get past the young woman dying in the cold, in the opening pages:

A woman dies in his arms…a drug dealer offers him $10,000…a gunman is determined to kill him. And then everything goes to hell.

Shelby Alexander is an aging ex-boxer and retired fixer, whose activities often flirted with the wrong side of the law. Looking for a little peace and a slower pace of life, he moved to Serenity, the small Michigan town where he grew up. But trouble follows men like Shelby, and he finds himself embroiled in an underworld of drugs and violence that may prove to be his undoing. The first book in the new Shelby Alexander Thriller Series, Serenity is an action-packed read with a lovingly rendered cast, witty dialogue, and a main character who doesn’t know when to quit.

Even in a small town called Serenity, a “fixer” can’t escape his calling to tackle crime VINE VOICE on October 25, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition

“Serenity” opens with a woman lying in the snow like a pile of old rags, quite the morning surprise for Alexander Shelby, a 60-year-old former boxer and “fixer” who finds Jenny Ellis dying on his property. She dies before anyone can get her to talk – not that the local law enforcement would have questioned her, anyway. Jenny was “mental.” She wandered off, got lost, and froze to death. Case closed.

Not for Jenny’s brother Harlan, one of many Ellis family members, who are at once a fixture of the community and a sort of community menace. Harlan offers Shelby $10,000 to play private eye and find out what really happened to Jenny. Shelby gets shot at by a would-be assassin who can’t hit a target. Bullets continue to fly and more people die before Jenny’s story is uncovered.

Disclaimer: I’ve never been a fan of this genre. When authors ask me to read their thrillers, I warn them I make no promises of getting past chapter one, given my squeamishness about crime fiction. Most people do not know my sister was murdered in 1975 at almost-19, and a less than a year later, a journalism major (same town) was murdered, and all these years later, both cases are as cold as the bodies left like roadside trash.

Hart’s story is compelling, and even if it should seem like the same old, same old, it’s like Willa Cather said: “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

If you love whodunnits and crime fiction, “Serenity” will not disappoint.

Becoming Moon by Craig A. Hart  Becoming Moon  “Written in a direct, cut-to-the-bone style, Becoming Moon drills deep into the turbulent mind of the writer at the center of the story as he grapples with a conservative upbringing, a successful career on the decline, and the very threat of facing his own existence. Hart exposes raw human emotion in all its glory, cringe-worthy and unsettling, which is a rare virtue today.” – Alex Schumacher, writer

  • Featured on NPR affiliate WNIJ’s Winter Book Series
  • Kindle Scout Winner
  • Readers’ Choice 5 Star Award Winner
  • Selected as Best Novel by Pinnacle Book Awards 

    From the Author

    Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
    A. I knew I wanted to be a writer from an early age. When I was in my early teens, my mother would pay me five dollars for every little book I hammered out on our old word processor.
    Q. Why do you write?
    A. It is an addiction for which I have never sought treatment. I cannot imagine life without writing, in fact, and losing that ability has been my worst fear for the past twenty years.
    Q. What draws you to this genre?
    A. Literary fiction tends to go deeper into the human psyche than many genres. It examines character and grapples with the human condition like few others.
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New Bookcafe in Chicago: Entrepreneurial Sisters Are Living a Dream @volumesbooks

Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park is impossible for me to walk by.Though carrying groceries (raw chicken!) I had to pop in.

14992010_10211079528774040_4672625725727456933_nI reviewed an ARC of Hag-Seed for NetGalley before it hit the bookstores. Cool to see it on display!

Postcards, handwritten and signed by employees, give a quick synopsis of new books. What a concept! 14956652_10211080202950894_7964835073065737691_nIt’s the personal touch that makes Indie book stores so much fun. Add coffee and baked goods, and I could stay all day. Better yet, I’d start my own book cafe. For years I’d thought of doing it myself, but the perfect venue flunked the Location Location Location test. I’m no business entrepreneur, but a lot of young people are, these days.

Two sisters, having lived in Chicago neighborhoods for years, dreamed of creating a store that would complement existing niche bookstores. Rebecca and Kimberly had book-related careers in academia but dreamed of bringing their passion for learning and reading into the community at large. Now they’re living the dream.

nanowrimopicecca   Erin

They’re even hosting NaNoWriMo: Every day a new writer and a new chapter! Check back daily for the newest installment! Once the month is over, look forward to a printed copy and a party in the new year!

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

If my sister Julie were still here (she’d be sixty this year, not frozen in time at almost 19), she’d have been my writer-reader soul mate. Ah, Julie! Maybe there’s such a thing as life after death, and spirits guiding the living, and maybe you led me to this book cafe.


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Joseph Green is “Running Wild” after his NASA career–and still writing SciFi

14702476_10210826879017954_4758305608141592723_nA 37-year veteran of the American space program, retired from NASA at age 66, Joseph “Joe” Green wrote five novels, with a sixth on the way. More than 70 of his short stories and nonfiction essays have been published in iconic and long-running magazines such as Analog: Science Fiction Fact and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF). Prices on those vintage magazines range from $3 online to more than $2,000 each. Few of us have access to Green’s stories in their original format, but fifteen stories from that era are now within easy reach thanks to “Running Wild,” 51gs-ggvetl-_uy250_available as a $3 ebook or a $15 paperback. Here’s the link:  Running Wild: Unfettered Stories of Imagination .

I’m amazed at the variety of stories (seventy and still counting) Joseph Green has written over the years – so much richness, world building and character development, it almost seems to be squandered on a mere short story when whole novels and series of books could spring from these wildly exotic, far-flung settings.

Most of the stories in “Running Wild” were first published in single issues of Analog or F&SF, but “I sometimes felt the urge to write something not really wanted at either,” Green writes in the Introduction. “These more daring or unconventional stories usually appeared in smaller (and often short-lived) magazines, whose editors were eager to make an impact on the field. Stories like An Alien Conception or The Seventh Floor could not have been published in the larger circulation (and much better paying) magazines.”

One perk of publishing in these magazines is that editors such as John W. Campbell (1910-1971) were so astute at scouting new talent and launching careers. By 1939, Campbell had discovered Isaac Asimov, Lester del Rey, andn Robert A Heinlein. Theodore Sturgeon and A E van Vogt had been publishing for some time in other genres, but Campbell got their name into the annals of science fiction. L Sprague de Camp, L Ron Hubbard, Murray Leinster, Clifford D Simak and Jack Williamson, already established writers,  became part of Campbell’s “stable”. Henry Kuttner and C L Moore were regular contributors. With Joseph Green, these authors starred in Campbell’s “Golden Age of Science Fiction” (roughly, the WWII era), a time when Astounding dominated the genre.  220px-johnwcampbell1965 Campbell had a “profound influence” on many careers, with countless classics that originated in ideas he had suggested. I love a detail that leaped out at me in Green’s Intro to “One Man Game” – that Campbell said if he provided the same idea to four different writers, “they’d all come up with such different treatments and finished stories, he could buy all of them.” (I’ve seen proof of this in calls for submissions for contests.)

**Bonus** Green has written a new introduction to all fifteen stories selected from across the years. We learn more about his occasional co-author, Patrice Green, an avid genealogist and a web site designer (see Greenhouse Scribes).

Also worth noting: since 2012, Joseph Green has written science articles and half a dozen short stories exclusively for Perihelion Science Fiction, an ezine you can read for free (donations are welcome, of course, to keep fresh, original cover art, comics, stories, reviews, and nonfiction articles coming). My review will go live in the 12-November-2016 issue of Perihelion. This review is merely a sneak preview, with bonus images and quotes from emails that have graced my inbox from the legend himself. {Shameless. Yes. I am.} Thanks to Sam Bellotto Jr, another living legend, I’ve had the honor, and pleasure, of corresponding with the best of the best in this business.

Born during the Great Depression (1931), Joe Green grew up in a tiny town in the Deep South (fewer than 500 people, mostly rural), with first grade through twelfth in the same building, no kindergarten, and no special classes for the talented and gifted. Only in America does a farm boy become a rocket scientist and a legendary author, right? His work has been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, Polish and Dutch. His novel Gold the Man, also known as The Mind Behind the Eye (1971), may be his most famous. Joe is a charter member of the Science Fiction Writers of America,  he’s rubbed elbows with superstars of the Golden Age, and is himself one of those legends–but the closest he’ll come to boasting is an understated  I ‘spose I am a member of the SF ‘establishment.’

“I’ve been around a long time,” Joe says.

Much has changed since his childhood in the segregated South, “before the racial integration that has tremendously improved our society,” he writes in his Introduction to “The Seventh Floor.” However, “we still have a long way to go… I took in prejudice with my mother’s milk, not learning better until about age 14, when I read a book on anthropology and discovered all humans are basically equal. For many older people of that time, such deep-seated beliefs can’t be expunged, which helps explain why major societal change seems to occur by generations.” Only a few manage to shed old fallacies along the way–“though not without trauma, trouble and strife.”

This is the hallmark of science fiction. More than the iconic little green Martians, rocket ships, and busty babes wielding laser guns, Green expresses the best of humanity and the worst. Sensitivity, insight, and progress are forever challenged by selfishness, greed, and resistance to change.

He joined The Boeing Company in 1959, then five years later accepted a job at the Kennedy Space Center, where he worked for 31 years. He served for six years as document specialist and member of the launch team on the Atlas-Centaur program. He supported the Apollo Program from beginning to end, including (with then-wife Juanita) providing pre-launch parties for the science fiction community on all moon landing missions. He also supported the Space Shuttle program from its beginning until he retired from NASA (as Deputy Chief, Education Office) at the end of 1996.

Green has rubbed elbows, so to say, with Fred Pohl, Heinlein, Poul and Karen Anderson, Gordon Dickson, John Campbell, and “it goes on. I’ve been around a long time,” Joe writes. “I was active in convention circles in the 70s and 80s, served in several positions in SFWA . . . in short, I ‘spose I am a member of the SF ‘establishment.’

“Running Wild” is worth the price of admission just for Joe’s personal introduction to all fifteen stories.Not being as humble as the accomplished Joe Green, I will gleefully tell you how fun and awesome it is to have some of these stories in my house, in the original analogs, which I bought a few years ago at ICON (Iowa’s annual Science Fiction Convention).  51zfgex8xxl-_sx373_bo1204203200_   $2,101.99  + $3.99 S&H

For $3, this ebook is a bargain. Look at the prices of those vintage issues of analog at amazon – most start at $4 plus S&H, but some command as much as $2,101.99 + $3.99 S&H for a single issue of one 5 x 7.5 softcover magazine with 178 pages. Namely, that would be analog, Vol. LXXXIX, No. 6. Green’s story, Three-Tour Man, is on page 112. There’s the world debut of “The Pritcher Mass” (part I of III) by Gordon R. Dickson. A novelette: Nanda, by Gary Alan Ruse. Short Stories: Budnip; Power to the People; and Long Shot, by Vernor Vinge. Oh, and there’s “Science fact: The Computer Was a Fish,” a nonfiction article by some young upstart named George R.R. Martin, “a recent graduate of Northwestern University” – today his bio includes “Game of Thrones.”

In “The Fourth Generation,” humans leave Earth in search of a new world to colonize, only to crash-land on a hostile planet where “Uglies” sometimes kidnap humans. Green delivers two heroes, the big handsome hunter and the brainiac, both of them good men, both worthy of the esteemed Redhead. When “the Redhead” is taken by the Uglies, these two men compete to be the hero who saves (and therefore wins) her.

I’d read a whole novel set in their world. Tell me this is not the only story featuring big, handsome, husky Grant Johns, an exulted hunter, versus Andy, the guy with “the dullest and most prosaic job in the community, that of Keeper of Records.” There’s a freshness to this story that reminds me of all that I love about science fiction and the timeless theme of brave pioneers. I’d also love to read more stories based on Green’s time as “a millhand, welder’s helper and construction worker” in his twenties, when he was “pretty muscular,” as Green writes in the intro to this story. His pet peeve is “too many stories that equate big muscles and physical bravery with arrogance and ego.” With”The Fourth Generation,” he cleverly flips that old trope.

Strange, fascinating aliens in exotic settings: there’s no end of them in this one man’s imagination. In “At the Court of the Chrysoprase King,” a mysterious creature known as the Chrysoprase King is the last of his race, and even his home is doomed, the lone planet Destry, which is falling toward its sun. Rather than allow all the attainments of his people to die out, he summons two very different races to visit his doomed planet and compete for “dibs” on his legacy. One race is human, aka “The Lone Ones,” individual males and females. The other race is as “disgusting” to the humans as the Lone Ones are to the Dash’Ilka: “Deceptively like us outwardly, at least the human half is, but with that damnable snake parasite wrapped around each person’s body, and that long tail reaching from the anus all the way up inside to the small intestine.” The parasite’s head, about the size and shape of an orange, perches beside the “human” head and whispers into its master’s ear. “Dependent, those people are, terrible dependent on their smart little Companions,” one of the humans sneers.

The throne of this mysterious, nearly dead king is ornately carved from a single block of chalcedony. The rest of the tale is vividly described, with characters who are impossible to forget. The ending is one of those clever surprises that are the hallmark of Golden Age gems.

At the Court of the Chrysoprase King 51yzc8btsql-_sx376_bo1204203200_ Rigel #7 Spring 1983

To See the Stars That Blind is the first story co-authored with his wife, “the first of many joint efforts,” Joe writes, “and in my not-so-humble opinion, still the best.” It is indeed splendidly written, taut and suspenseful, opening with a bride on her honeymoon suffering strange changes in her eyesight. (It takes more time to talk about these stories than it does to read them. I need to come back to this one and do it justice.)

  • “A Star is Born”, Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1974.

51xf9ccsdzl-_sx321_bo1204203200_ Analog, March 1974

The Seventh Floor  sounds vaguely autobiographical. The hero, John, “had been blind for a week as a child–an acute case of a type of granular conjunctivitis, endemic in the Northwest Florida sand hills where he was born–and suffered from poor vision throughout adolescence.” Medication and glasses “had gotten him past the army physical.”  Now he was 28, “the first member of his large family ever to attend college.”


…And Be Lost Like Me

A Custom of the Children of Life

A Star Is Born

Last of the Chauvinists

Wrong Attitude

An Alien Conception

One-Man Game  515dwujfncl-_sx354_bo1204203200_1 February 1972. Cover art by John Schoenherr illustrating “Fido” by William J. Frogge. ALSO: Robert F. Young, Joseph Green, Henry Sauter and more. Editor: Ben Bova.

Gentle Into That Good Night  51meq5uvpzl-_sx337_bo1204203200_

Walk Barefoot on the Glass 41qitlpro-l-_sx248_bo1204203200_ March 1974 $20.00 + $3.99 shipping; New York; The Condé Nast Publications, Inc.; 1st Edition; Cover art by Frank Kelly Freas.

This was one of the last issues of Analog Science Fiction Science Fact edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. In this issue Campbell’s editorial is about the Big Bang. 14695387_10210955394470760_1935660701152719661_n    14721608_10210955394430759_8014716240185372598_n

51pxgu5clpl-_sx345_bo1204203200_“Manufacturing in Space”, Analog, December 1970 14671071_10210955492793218_1613765522279787574_n 14681728_10210955492833219_4884323567447668728_n

51ivzfxpgal-_sx340_bo1204203200_ “The Crier of Crystal”, Analog, October 1971. 14670719_10210955398830869_7093909439220593176_n

  • “Talus Slope”, Perihelion Science Fiction, February 2013 fullcover004
  • “Curfew Tolls the Parting Day”, (with Shelby Vick) 1305Perihelion Science Fiction, May 2013
  • “Mortality, Eternity”,1401 Perihelion Science Fiction, January 2014
  • “Their Trailing Skies For Vestment”, 13041 (with Shelby Vick) Perihelion Science Fiction, April 2014″Stolen Dreams”, (with R-M Lillian) 1505Perihelion Science Fiction, May 2015

Not so “Astounding,” that a retired NASA scientist and Golden Age contemporary of Asimov and Heinlein should be so prolific and accomplished. I look forward to more from this living legend. (How about more of Andy the brainiac, John the Handsome Hunter, the Redhead and the Uglies, hint hint?)


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Sam Bellotto Jr: “I want to be a cyborg”

.1402  “I want to be a cyborg.” –Sam Bellotto  Jr  (cover art by Peter Saga for 12-Feb-2014 Perihelion Science Fiction) #GottaLove Robots byPeterSaga!

Me too! We all do, Sam – certainly, all we who feel the effects of gravity on our aging bodies, the toll of living on a planet that doesn’t yet have E.T.’s magic fingertip healing all our injuries and ills. (More on that in a minute.)

“IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS, I am going to turn 70,” Sam wrote in his 12-Sept-2016 editorial While My Left Wrist Heals at Perihelion Science Fiction. “I’m quite healthy for an old geezer. One of the front liners of the Baby Boom generation. I like to flip the Grim Reaper the bird.” b47b2940d256b3c6235bd673a0bcf09c Alas, Sam, hubris (not to  mention mere optimism) never goes unpunished.

“I realized that my left hand hurt like a sonofabitch,” Sam continued. “It wasn’t swollen, or discolored. But I couldn’t use it. Even tying my shoes was incredibly painful. I saw my doctor. X-rays were taken. Nothing of any great concern showed up on the radiography. Meds prescribed…I should take the pain medication as directed and get plenty of rest.”

samnew1 On the bright side, all work on the 12-SEPT-2016 issue of “Perihelion” was done, except for the Editorial. “I have no more desire to type one-handed,” he said, so he posted excerpts from a golden age of editorials, including this:

February, 2014. “A Cyborg’s Life for Me.”

When I get out of bed, my knees hurt. My toes hurt, too. Lack of cartilage in the joints. The bones rub against each other, and this is painful. My mother suffered from osteoarthritis for a good chunk of her life. She had a number of surgeries to alleviate the condition. But I don’t want the doctors to replace bone with the equivalent in titanium. I want to be a cyborg. Cyborg, cyborg man, I gotta be a cyborg man!

 1309  D. Strologo, 9-12-2013 Perihelion cover

Sam continued typing one-handed, noticed his swollen knee getting even more swollen, and figured it was nothing he couldn’t handle. Until the pain was more than he can handle. He summoned an ambulance, got neighbors to watch over his Labrador Retriever, and nearly died before Emergency Room could lance his knee, drain a nasty infection, get him on antibiotics and painkillers, and fight to keep Sam’s heart from being the next stop on that evil staphylococcus bug’s tour of Sam’s body.

It was a dark and scary time. Thanks to all who sent their wishes for a speedy recovery. Sam has several weeks of emails to catch up on, but at least he can type well enough to get the November issue out (just not to reply to everything in his inbox).

The October 2016 Perihelion was delayed a month. Sam could only be administered so much pain medication, so it took some time in physical therapy before Sam was finally sent home. (Yes, his dog is overjoyed.) Founded in 1967 by Sam Bellotto and Eric Jones as college students who published Dean Koontz before anyone else did, and scoring interviews with Asimov and others, Perihelion resumed publication in November, 2012. Fitting that after the October near-death incident, Perihelion will resume in November, 2016, with an all-new issue full of fresh, original stories, reviews, comics, articles, and artwork by Peter Saga, one of my personal favorites. A little bird told me PENGUINS find their way onto the November cover. #Ican’tWait!

A review of Joseph Green’s anthology will go live the twelfth of November. Yes, *the* Joseph Green, a peer of Asimov, Clarke, and all those golden-agers, is still writing! He has a new novel coming down the pike, and he’ll anthologize half a dozen short stories written in recent years as Perihelion exclusives. #GottaLoveJoeGreen!

51tlstqgdyl-_ux250_  51gs-ggvetl-_uy250_ Wildside Press (4-Sept-2016)

The amazing Chet Gottfried, novelist, short story writer and contributor to Perihelion, will share some of his secrets for capturing incredible, gorgeous, and amazing images of bugs (not the staph kind, but spidery and insecty bugs). #This I gotta see!

d5156a-chet-tshirt-small  cncp9frwcaeccx3

Also coming in November or December, a new cartoon from Betsy Streeter to go with a just-for-fun exploration on How to Destroy the Earth from various Perihelion authors – and an article on UFOs from Preston Dennett. No spoilers from me on what’s in it, but I’m hoping Dennett has more evidence of UFO Healings: True Accounts of People Healed by Extraterrestrials .  51dffuqv2bol-_sx322_bo1204203200_1 You can also see and hear Dennett via his video at youtube:  Extraterrestrials Healing Humans. Now, to get these ETs to visit Sam and cure him of his arthritis, if not grant his wish and make a cyborg out of him.

Back to that 2014 editorial. Sam wrote:

I don’t want to see my original leg with a lengthy scar over the knee. I want to see a glistening metal leg that makes a faint whirring noise when it moves, powered by an internal pencil-point-sized nuclear reactor. The advantages are numerous; aside from being impervious to mosquito bites, the cybernetic leg would never tire. I could stand on it for hours. It would also contain a programmable GPS system that I could set for a specific route or destination, and let the leg do all the walking. Okay, my other real leg would still be required, primarily for balance, but that’s significantly less work than it does right now. Using a cyborg leg would be almost like driving a car. I could relax, enjoy the scenery, maybe even grab a short snooze while the leg gets me to my destination, on the right.

Let’s not stop there. I’ve a bit of arthritis in my elbows and wrists, too. My arms have never been all that strong. During my 30s when I was probably in the best physical shape I ever was, I jogged three miles per day, but could only manage twenty pull-ups (pronated grip). I’m right-handed, so I am looking to replace my right arm assembly. In addition to the benefits of no more pain and extra strength, I would like to weaponize that arm. Legally licensed, of course. I’m thinking small arms, something in a 9mm automatic that fires from the wrist. I wouldn’t want to replace the hand itself. Four fingers and an opposable thumb are still one of the greatest inventions of the Cenozoic Era. With programmable digits that can fly across the keyboard at lightning speed, however, I’d be able to write, typo-free, and simultaneously use my left hand for drinking coffee.

I approve. Sign me up, too!

“I can put cataract surgery in my Amazon Wish List for my eightieth birthday,” Sam wrote in his September 2016 editorial, before he had any inkling he’d wind up at death’s door before his seventieth birthday. “Contributions are welcome.”

Unless, of course, Dennett dispatches those miracle-healer ETs before then…

I’m one of many wishing you a belated Happy Birthday (!) and a complete recovery, Sam!

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Men in Kilts, Ghosts of Culloden inspired Diana Gabaldon’s #Outlander – and saved my marriage

NOTE: Scroll to the end if it’s ghosts you want to read about.

Never thought I’d become a stark, raving Outlander fan, but thanks to novelist Diane Ryan (aka Rhonda Kay), I’ve joined the legions of Droughtlanders (in the purgatory of awaiting Season 3 of the Starz TV series). Meanwhile, I read about Outlander every day via Twitter or Facebook. (I know. I know. Get a life!) Note: Years ago, early in our marriage, my husband said “reading fiction would be a waste of my time.” My #1 pastime is writing fiction. I’d already vowed to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until death us do part, so what to do? Find some Historical Fiction adapted to a TV show with sex, nudity, military battles, blood and gore, AND exceptional acting, costuming, setting, and cinematography:

outlander The Outlander book series has sold more than 27 million copies worldwide, and it served as the basis for the popular Starz television show of the same name.outlander_claire_randall_jamie_fraser

Fan Magic is not escapism. No one “escapes” the reality of daily life by following a celebrity on Twitter who follows them back. No one “escapes” the horrors of modern society by becoming part of a Facebook subculture. No one “escapes” the bad news by hearing only the good news. But having fun with other human beings, sharing each others’ sorrows and concerns, rallying behind a working professional whose portfolio and social outreach into his own community is fast becoming legendary…well, those things sure help strike a balance. And they offer hope.  -Diane Ryan, Fan Magic” (September 23, 2016)

Before I go on (Scott Kyle, we love you as Ross and demand that you return in Season 3), I have to make a pitch for the entire cast, consummate actors, all, and the one who steals my heart: Angus Mhor  (actor Stephen Walters). Angus is the anglicized form of Aonghas, which possibly means “unique strength” derived from Irish óen “one” and gus “force, strength, energy”. Mhor comes from the Gaelic mòr, which means “big, great, large”. On the TV show, he is physically dwarfed by Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughen), but Angus/Stpehen’s personality is outsized by no one:

f8cce9b3ca3cb0662375a085d313d16d  fhd004lyc_stephen_walters_002 Stephen Walters

Now, back to the Ghosts of Culloden.

How many fans know that Jamie was inspired by the “true story of a group of Jacobites who sought shelter in a croft and were all subsequently killed – except one whose surname was Fraser”-?  Or that “Over the years, creepy stories about the ghosts at Culloden Moor have been told again and again”-? culloden-moor-memorial-cairn-plaque-c2a9-2006-scotiana

A force of 4,500 Catholic Highlanders loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie died on Culloden Moor, 16th April, 1746. It was the last battle fought on British soil for the House of Stuart.Only twelve British soldiers were killed in a battle which lasted little more than an hour. The dead rebel Highlanders were buried on the site. All that marks the spot now is a giant cairn of stones. To this day, visitors claim to see the dim form of a battle-weary Highlander at dusk, near the cairn; this dark-haired warrior, said to wear the red Stuart tartan, has also be seen lying on the stones of the cairn, as if resting.

On Drumossie Moor the sad echoes of Culloden battle…

Every April 16th, the locals tense, knowing what they will hear.  Someone in the vicinity will discern the yells, and weapons clashing; the drummers beating a tattoo, until they suddenly stop. 

And somehow that’s worse.  When it stops.  When it’s over.

It’s said that every year, without fail, the battle happens again upon Drummossie Moor.  For the most part it’s sounds, a clairaudient cacophony filling the air.  But then there’s the wandering highlander too.

Nobody knows who he is.  He seems lost, heading shell-shocked, stopping, staring, moving on a step, then stopping again.  There’s never anyone close enough to speak with him. They just watch his dazed progress from a distance. 

Then, as they draw near, he’s gone.  That’s April 16th too.  Every year. 

… Archaeologists have found many items here – hacked musket parts, pistol balls and ripped-off buttons. All these are clear evidence of a desperate close-range fight.

Diane Ryan, the next part is especially for you, in light of Tania’s paranormal investigations in Talking To Luke: Haunting Gets Personal  (Free! Download @amazon)

Temperatures Fluctuate Around the Cairns

Andrea Byrne of Scottish Paranormal took a team of investigators onto Drummossie Moor. They interviewed the staff of the tourist center, who said that they frequently hear reports from visitors, who have seen something strange or heard the sounds of battle.

Using dowsing rods, they discerned an energy line between Cumberland’s Stone and St Mary’s Well.

 The most dramatic readings came from their temperature monitor. As they crossed the moor, all seemed well. But not at the graves. There temperature and humidity rose and fell with each step they took between the cairns.

“I’ve walked a lot of battlefields. Most are not haunted – that one is.”-Diana Gabaldon

outlander-700x315 The Battle of Culloden marked the end of the Jacobite rebellion in April of 1746. It was a short, bloody battle, but it lives on in Gabaldon’s “Outlander” and in ghost sightings.

When Gabaldon  visited Culloden Moor, “she actually experienced the haunted feeling as she walked through the scene of bloody battles past”–and “almost breaks down in tears when talking about the ghosts she feels at Culloden”(speaking to Cathy MacDonald for the BBC’s Gaelic Alba channel). Culloden and famous bloody battle features prominently in the Outlander series. “Most tales seem to involve the spirits of Highlanders lost on the battle field. Experiences range from sightings of a tall, desolate Highland warrior wandering the fields to those of bodies of the fallen soldiers lying quietly on the ground beneath the cover of tartan.” Gabaldon “possesses a keen knack for describing the horrors of the battlefield while maintaining an empathetic, compassionate voice.”  READ MORE Daily Record UK


Men in Kilts – Another bit of Outlander trivia:

“I didn’t know anything about Scotland, but the image of the men in kilts stayed in my head,”Gabaldon says f7fd9e90ba8437abdbb59e0d558bbc69 in an interview with BBC Alba … the American author reveals that she didn’t know much about Scotland when she began writing Outlander (see here for her research process).


Historical Fiction with Time Travel: Why did she include Past vs Present?

“As I started writing the character of Claire Randall, she just wouldn’t speak like an 18th Century English woman at all. She was speaking in a modern tone of voice,” Gabaldon says. After “wrestling” with these inconsistencies for a while, she decided to embrace them: she made Claire a modern woman who accidentally travels back in time to 1743, where she meets and marries Jamie Fraser. Their tale spans eight novels, and a ninth book — Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone— is currently in the works.

The Horses of Outlander –


Barbara Schnell of Germany owns some of the horses of Outlander. She also translates the books from English to German. Schnell bought her first Friesian, a mare she still owns, named Ronja, with her proceeds from her first Gabaldon translation. To further the connection, Schnell’s lovely gelding Talisker is the son of the REAL Lucas, the Friesian who was the direct inspiration for the fictional Phillip Wylie’s gorgeous horse, a stallion we meet in The Fiery Cross. For Schnell it was love at first sight. “The first time I saw a Friesian (the original Lucas), I couldn’t believe that something this majestic and beautiful actually existed,” she said. “The chance to breed Ronja to him was a wonderful gift.”

Schnell (which is German for “quick”) met Diana Gabaldon in spring 1992 from a random online encounter. Google’s German-to-English translator leaves much to be desired: “Since I set up the camera with passion always on horses – and when the opportunities to travel to Scotland, have become increasingly rare, as the photographic and personal encounters with wonderful four-legged friends and their dedicated bipeds are the best compensation… Welcome and enjoy browsing these pages.”

Outlander #FanMagic inspired Diane Ryan’s blog with its “wee mention” of Scott Kyle @scottjkyle1  – and Diana Gabaldon herself publicly thanked Diane for it (how cool is that?):
Very honored, Diane! Fan Magic is that amazing surge of creativity and social bonding that seems to come out of nowhere.



Excerpts from Diane Ryan’s blog:

Author Diana Gabaldon recently coined a phrase,“Fan Magic,” to describe the outpouring of genuine warmth and support from people who love her Outlander books and the TV series …“Magic” is not too colorful a word in this case. It almost makes you wonder who’s done all the praying for this to happen.

…What’s so important about fandom, and celebrity, and making some sort of connection—real or imagined—with people you’ve never met? Especially when the world is burning to the ground all around us? Five minutes of any news broadcast will leave no doubt that innocents are dying and idiots are looting and psychopaths are committing genocide in far-flung regions of the world…

This morning I woke to learn my words from a previous blog post had been quoted, with attribution, in a Scottish newspaper. The Rutherglen Reformer has done a series of features on one of their native sons, none other than the highly popular and well-loved Scott Kyle of unexpected Outlander fame. Media in his hometown has picked up on the fact that people all over the world are drawing positive energy from and becoming inspired by the real-life example Kyle sets every day for benevolence and mutual respect.

I’ve witnessed this real-life example myself, up close and personal, from a front row seat o
n Twitter, and now on Facebook. I’m a card-carrying member of the Kylander Army, which is one of the most benevolent and mutually respectful groups of people I have ever met in my life. There’s always a cheery good morning, check-ins on members who may be going through a rough patch, and some seriously funny humor (“WTF-o-meter”…folks, you will see that phrase again. Maybe as soon as the sequel to my current novel is published.) Like begets like, and the seeds of Kyle’s social media crop of kindness are starting to bear fruit.

41b3tjfjczl-_uy250_  54552744_1392321215  I am Southern, and my characters are, too. Even more, Luke is 19th century Southern. Fascinating stuff. ~DianeRyan

From @DianeRyanRK on Twitter:

— Bawling like a fool in Walmart parking lot. Thank you for doing this to me Carol. Thanks a lot. LOL “I do want to know more about this…JamieFraser” Jamie & Claire – There you’ll be via

— OL fandom IS special. I’ve never seen anything like it and am forever changed as a human being for having witnessed it. @DianeRyanRK, via Twitter
Diane, we all feel that way. Thank you for turning me (and my husband!) into an Outlander addict. We may have been “unequally yoked,” but over time, he’s been forced to concede that fiction is more than escapism, and it is not a waste of time.
On that note, here’s a bit more history for my husband:

They used to call it Drumossie Moor – a bleak stretch of boggy, heather-clad upland moor above Culloden House, south-east of Inverness, overlooking the broad waters of the Moray Firth. This was where the last pitched battle on British soil was fought, on 16 April 1746.

Culloden is now one of the flagship possessions of the National Trust for Scotland. The moor had become unrecognisable as a battle-site. In 1835 a road had been driven right through the graveyards of the fallen clansmen. Much of the land was shrouded under a blanket plantation of sitka spruce, making it impossible to visualise the true setting of the battle. In 1980 the NTS purchased from the Forestry Commission 180 acres of land which had been planted with conifers. The mature trees were felled and the road realigned. At last it was possible to see again the moor as it had been when the encounter took place. The field has been marked with the positions of the kilted Highland clans and the red-coated Hanoverian regiments which took part in the battle.  (Scotland – The Story of a Nation – Magnus Magnusson 2000)

Culloden Anniversary Ghosts: Ghosts who return on the 16 April to relive the battle and their deaths “make themselves heard by the cries of battle. Some witnesses have heard the clash of steel on steel as if of broadsword and sword fighting. One legend of Culloden Moor is that birds do not sing at the exact site of the battle or at the graves of the slaughtered Jacobites. Other local legends at Culloden Moor is that heather which grows nearby will never grow over the graves of the Jacobites.”

“It was never over” – Haunted Battlefields: The Ghosts of Culloden –

Electricity cannot be destroyed, it can only be transformed; and the events of that day play on and on, like a recording on a loop.

…most of psychics agree that the ghosts aren’t really there. It’s residual energy, replaying events, as a haunting.

So much emotion was felt on the moor that day, and during the endless, horrific night which followed.  These were men who knew that the cost of losing was everything. Not just for themselves, but for their families, their clan, their language, their culture, their history and their land.

There were horrors enough in the heat of battle.  Highlanders bogged down in the mud, the momentum of their charge expended before they even got close.  The English employed a new musket manoeuvre, with all the effect of a modern day machine gun.  The group of clansmen, who fled for shelter in a barn, only for the English to burn it down; and them still trapped inside.

There were rules in battle, which didn’t apply that day.  At the end of the fighting, all should be allowed to tend their sick and wounded in safety.  The surviving Scots could not. The English shot them down.

So men lay throughout the night, knowing the worst, fearing the future, in the most dreadful pain. Then came the dawn and the improbably slow waiting for death to come at the end of a bayonet.

Against all precedent and war etiquette, the English fanned out across the moor and stabbed to death any Highlander still alive.  Any who hadn’t perished in that cold April night.  And those further up could see the English coming. They knew what they were doing and they could not move away.

Too injured to move away.

It’s the high emotion of this, neurons flashing with hopeless adrenaline, trapped forever in that terrible atmosphere, which haunts Drummossie Moor.  Those with the right kind of eyes still see them there, awaiting an English bayonet and the loss of it all.

But there’s absolutely nothing to be done to help them. They are not there. Except maybe at St Mary’s Well.

I stood in the heather, bright sunshine and tourists all about me. It didn’t matter. They couldn’t see what I was seeing. No-one there, or since, saw that. And to this day, I’m not sure who believes that I saw it too. But I did; and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I fled the battlefield and stood in the gift shop, consoling myself with plastic things to bring me back to my century. The chill remains.

On April 16th 1746, the last pitched battle on British land took place on Drummossie Moor. Up to 2000 Jacobites lay dead, or injured and dying, in the heather. It was never over.

Culloden: 1746 by Stuart Reid
In this concise account Stuart Reid, the leading authority on Culloden, sets out in a graphic and easily understood way the movements and deployments of the opposing armies and describes in detail the close and deadly combat that followed. His account incorporates the results of the latest documentary and archaeological research and he provides a full tour of the battlefield so that visitors can explore for themselves the historic ground on which this momentous event took place. 51qarjsbqfl-_ac_us240_fmwebp_ql65_ via @amazon


Images: Starz


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