Thinking Upon a Mockingbird

8ySkdLike most folks, I was pretty damn surprised when I read about Harper Lee releasing a new book.  It’s not the kind of thing I’d given thought to in more than 15 years; I’d pretty much decided Ms. Lee had only the one in her (a totally bizarre concept to a guy like me, with a whole playground full of characters screaming for attention each time I lift the lid off the creative aether), and that was that.  If you’re going all-in, you could do a lot worse than To Kill a Mockingbird.  

Giddiness set in once the shock wore off.  The very same kind I felt last year when I learned about the forthcoming J.D. Salinger books.  I mean, not one but two of the most known 20th-century literary figures with more to give?  It’s candy to a creative mind, even if it’s a flavor you dislike…and me, I like both Salinger and Lee.

Next came what I always think of as pop-culture wariness.  I distrust the tidal surges of current sentiment as a rule, and this new book’s release is already getting comparisons as a literary event to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  That kind of hype turns me off, and I didn’t want to be turned off to what could potentially be a fun read.

Finally an unsettling question popped up: am I remembering Harper Lee’s work from the standpoint of experience, or is it the thrust of our culture influencing me, suggesting I “should” like To Kill a Mockingbird because everybody else does?  The answer there is I’m not sure.  The last time I read that book I was in high school.  I remember it being more accessible than a lot of the novels we read, but I recall absolutely nothing of the language, the structure, and the rest of the little things writers often read for as much as a good story.

I’ve decided I need to:

(A) Find out what’s what.  I’ll do this by rereading TKaM before the new book’s release, and decide how I feel about the work as a whole.
(2) Keep an open mind.  I’m going to look on the sunny side and hope for a well-written, entertaining story, not an earth-shatting-holy-shit-why-didn’t-she-write-more? book.  Chances are, TKaM is too culturally ascended for popular comparison.

And that’s what I’m going to do.  Make up my own mind about the whole thing.  I hope you will, too.  Please don’t compare a trans-generational-classic to Go Set a Watchman.  Read it as its own entity, whole and complete by itself.  Allow it to surprise, thrill, entertain, annoy, irritate, or bore you honestly, based only on its merits.  To do else is injustice toward an honest piece of hard work.

Nik

P.S. for my grammarian friends, the A-and-2 was intentional, and for you.

Thoughts on the Eve of Publication

Thong Sized Stories Full CoverIt’s fun to look on Amazon and know that something I’ve created will be available to all my friends and readers come the stroke of midnight.  I’ve been waiting for this day ever since I put the finishing touches on Thong Sized Stories about six weeks ago.  Part of me is also nervous; I’m releasing ten of my ideas into the wild, calling them “done” and letting everybody make of them what they will.

The greater part of me is glad they’re ready for you.  Some of these tales are over a decade old, and until I discovered the flash fiction form, I had no idea what to do what them.  Making a collection of fully realized, separate “moments” of story is not only a fun way to entertain my audience, it’s also an artistic statement for myself.

I’m usually known for my longer work.  Even my short stories often stretch over 20 pages.  One I’m working on now is damn near 50.  The creative challenge of flash fiction appealed to the part of me which wants to break out, be weird, do something different.  Combine that with the community of writers I’ve discovered via Waterline Writers and the Fox Valley Writers’ Group, and I’ve had a lot of exposure to the very short form over the last year and a half.  And since I’m never satisfied to do the same thing over and over, I took up the challenge of this form.  Looking at the finished product, I think I’ve succeeded, too.  I think there will be a sequel, eventually, to this collection, too, considering that more than half of these tales came out of the prompts in my writers’ group.  Those are a standard activity, and I’m sure I’ll write some more fun thong sized stories as I go along.

Check back tomorrow, 9/3 for all the details on how you can order your own paper or Kindle copy of Thong Sized Stories.  You can also get a freebie from the collection here.  If you like what you read, please let your friends know, or better yet, spend a couple bucks and get them a copy.  It’s a nice, cheap gift for the reader on your gift lists, and hey, the holidays are coming…

Big thanks go to my wonderful wife Margie for her work formatting and designing the cover.  If you’re a writer or poet looking for top-notch design for your upcoming book, check out Margie’s Mark to see what she can do for you.

Enough for now, except to say that I’ve been busy in the time since I finished this collection.  I’m cooking up a batch of more traditional short stories, plus a novel, plus whatever else shows up on my own imaginary playground.  Enjoy the book, and thanks for reading!

RELEASE DATE: Thong Sized Stories

ThongSizedStoriesCoverI’m excited to announce the release date for Thong Sized Stories print and digital editions has been set for Tuesday, September 3rd.  You’ll be able to order paperback copies and/or download to your Kindle and Nook readers!

Keep an eye out here on the Imaginary Playground for more info and direct links closer to the date, plus some supplemental material similar to the extras on movies.

Can’t wait? Have a free story from the collection right now!

Thanks to all of you for your support.  I’m looking forward to sharing new tales with you.