Author Archives: caldavis

Men Needed! Lots of Them and Quickly!

HELP!

I’m at the RWA (Romance Writers of America) Convention in NYC with my wife. The sneaky woman mentioned there would be romance writers from all over the country here. She just failed to mention it would be upwards of 2500 women…and me. I feel like I’m in a beehive of buzzing, pushing, shoving, giggling, phone obsessed ladies. There are ten elevators and each one is packed–ALL the time.

Signing

I need some male companionship.

We’ve been to the Penguin Random House Offices several times since my wife writes for them. I got to listen to new trends in romances that shattered my opinions of women being angelic creatures forever. I heard words I didn’t know women knew, much less spoke. Yet they seemed so lovely and cordial.

I have noticed a trend in women authors meeting after long spans of time from not seeing each other. Both participants eyeball each other. Each pops from her seat like a cork from a bottle of champagne. This is followed by a duo of ear piercing screeches. Both scream, “Ohhhhhh my God!” They rush toward each other, locking arms around each other in what in the wrestling profession is called a “bear hug.” In this position, they grapple trying for the takedown. But after a few seconds they declare it a draw and kiss, followed by more squeals and “OMG’s.”

Men would simply shake hands.

***Calvin Davis is the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris

3 Comments

Filed under books

Don’t Hold Your Breath by Calvin Davis

You work on your novel like a person possessed. It haunts you.

writer2You lie awake at night speaking to the characters. They talk to you as if they are made of flesh and blood and not the stuff of dreams and fantasies. One may haunt you that, nagging he is not satisfied with how you’ve portrayed him, that he deserves a more sympathetic treatment. He mumbles that another character, a minor one, had taken over the novel. He berets you for being an unfair author. Heavens, he even claims you, the writer, is guilty of gender discrimination.

Finally, he stomps his phantom foot and declares he wishes you’d never created him. He wants to leave the novel completely–and now!

At that point, the writer pulls rank and announces the he or she, not the character, is the boss and this character must stay within the confines of the plot–like it or not.

Such disputes between writer and his created children are endless, but finally after a thousand headaches and almost as many sleepless nights, the novel is finished. Your child is born, edited and reborn stronger. It is published in ebook format.

images (1).jpghackerThen, your troubles.begin. Some scoundrel hacks a website and steals the book you have sweat blood to produce. Guess what? He is giving it away. Giving. It. Away! Your labor is free to anyone who goes to this thief’s website. Often, these hackers gain the free-loaders confidential information in the process making a lot via identity theft.

You console yourself when you learn that the same thing has happened to most every author, even the great sellers, those with the letters after their names. NYT or USA Best Selling Author. A few years ago, Nora Roberts went before a senate committee to ask for protection against these hackers. Congress passed no new laws to protect authors.

So, what is the answer? I wish I knew. Maybe writers should hire platoons of lobbyists. Then, maybe Congress would listen. Maybe. Maybe not. My advice? Don’t hold your breath.

2 Comments

Filed under writing

Memorial Day Over the Years by Calvin Davis

In Flanders Fields

Flanders Poppy on the First World War battlefields.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Inspiration for “In Flanders Fields”

Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery. (1)
Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery (source: A Crown of Life)

During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2ndMay, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. An exploding German artillery shell landed near him. He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.

As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.

The Story Behind the Remembrance Poppy

One of the first material poppies sold in aid of The Haig Fund .
Haig Fund Poppy

Also known as “The Poppy Lady” find out how this poem inspired the American teacher, Moina Belle Michael, to write a poem in response to “In Flanders Fields”. Discover how she and Frenchwoman Madame Anna Guérin, known as “The French Poppy Lady”, encouraged people to use the red Flanders poppy as a way of remembering those who had suffered in war, and how the Flanders Poppy became the symbol of remembrance that we know so well today:

THANK YOU TO ALL THE SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SACRIFICE SO MUCH AND, IN MANY CASES, NEVER HEAL FROM THE HELLS OF WAR. 

2 Comments

Filed under writing

TIME by Calvin Davis

clockWhere does it go? Time. From where does it come? Time. This visitor lurking in the shadows of night and moving with the lightness of feathers in morning. And always when it comes, it opens its ledger and pours over the figures therein. After doing so, it demands the latest payment of your lifetime installment plan. And when you make the last payment, you receive a receipt stamped “Final payment made. You owe no more. You are no more.”

Time. When is my final payment due? And yours? Banks often give extensions on loans. Time never does. Not one of its borrowers has ever been in default.  Not one.

Calvin Davis is also the author of THE PHANTM LADY OF PARIS. plopfront-148x223

Leave a comment

Filed under writing

A Teachable Moment Sadly Lost by Calvin Davis

It happened so quickly I didn’t realize it was there before it vanished, never to return, at least not with the same person. Where did it happen? In our doctor’s office. I accompanied my spouse for her regular appointment. The physician suggested that Vonnie should take a test that would require her to stay in a hospital overnight. Hearing that, she frowned as if she had just downed a gallon of vinegar.

“Oh, no, I can’t do that. I would have to be separated from my husband for a night. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.” Judging from the stunned expression on the medical man’s face, he was befuddled by her response. Why, he no doubt wondered, can’t you spend one night away from your spouse? After all, I’m not suggesting you two get a divorce.

wedding bandsI sat there listening in silence. Later I hated myself for not explaining to the doctor what my wife meant when she said she didn’t want to spend a night away from her husband.

I should have said the following: “Doctor, my wife and I are inseparable. We do everything together. Each night we go to sleep in each other’s arms. We laugh at the same jokes. Cry when watching the same movies. And have learned to communicate with each other without saying a word. A glance is enough. A sigh. A movement of the shoulders. An eloquent touching of the chin with a finger. A smile. A wink. A laugh. And let’s not forget her coming to me, complaining that she hasn’t had a hug all day for the fifteenth time. It’s a guaranteed laugh maker.

But I said none of these things. Also I didn’t tell him that occasionally Vonnieholding hands and I read an article about some couple that has been married for forty or fifty years, and that they die on the same day, almost the same hour. If my wife and I departed this life at almost the same time, we would have no fear of dying. We’d exit with a smile, aware that neither would be left behind to pine the death of the other. If we died on the same day, we would have no fear of death. We would see death not as a terminator, but as a unifier, joining Vonnie and me for all eternity. We would never have to separated again…not even for a night.

Calvin Davis is also the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

2 Comments

Filed under writing

THE EVENING NEWS

A mini-course (four points) for watching network evening news. Pay attention because each point is essential in order to wisely view newscasts. Ignore any one item and you will be greatly misinformed. Not only misinformed but  badly informed. It was Thomas Jefferson who said that in order to have a democracy you need an informed electorate. So, pay attention —

NEWS

RULE ONE: Never believe the first report. Why? Because the reporter, rushing to beat the competition and/or the deadline, has probably gotten the facts wrong. After the dust has settled is the time to put credence in the “late breaking news headline.” How long? May take several days, or as long as a month.

RULE TWO: If a reporter rattles off about a thousand words per second, gasping for air as he spews syllables like a machine gun, turn to another channel immediately. Such a news dispenser is attempting to take an ordinary story – say, of Widow Smith’s cat that is stuck a tree and won’t come down — into a piece deserving the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. Be warned, the world is not going to end because that silly feline won’t descend from the tree.

RULE THREE: The more shocking the headline, the less you should believe it. TV news business is based on ratings and demographics. Increase the viewership and you increase the bottom line. News networks have learned that “shock and awe” is money in the bank. Without a doubt, The National Inquirer proved that the public loves gore – the redder, the better. So, this above all, give them gore.

RULE FOUR: Never conclude after watching the evening news that “this is the way the world.” It isn’t. The report you viewed gives a glimpse of how the bad part of the world is. The good part is usually ignored.  Examples: the story about the mother in Virginia who goes without several meals so her daughter in college can buy the book she needs for her English class. Or the father in Ohio who works three jobs in order that his son can stay in college. The only way either of the mentioned parents can get on the evening news is to plunge an icepick in their children’s brains. If the two become murderers, they will be mobbed by reporters. Sad but true.

Summary: the next time you view a network news report, take it with a grain of salt. No, a box of salt (iodized or un-iodized, doesn’t matter). Better still, a mountain of salt. And oh, yes…a smile and a sense of humor.  Otherwise you’ll end up ranting like reporters that” the sky is falling and that life as we know it will end at any moment –‘ but not before this commercial for Uncle George’s Magic Foot Lotion Rub, a miracle in a bottle’”

CALVIN DAVIS IS ALSO THE AUTHOR OF THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under writing

CROSSING THE BRIDGE by Calvin Davis

bridgeImagine the year is 1965. The place is Selma. You are among those who have assembled at the now infamous bridge. You are there to protest being dehumanized all your life, being made to feel you are less than a dog. But how can you show your disdain for the indignities you have suffered? You are not a lawyer celebrated for your eloquence. You are not a statesman whose mere name can open the gates to the White House. No, you are none of these. Instead, you are a butler, or a maid, or a janitor, or a shoeshine boy – a nobody. In spite of your status, there is one thing you can do. You can walk, be a presence, be visible.

The dangers are many. You might be killed, bludgeoned to death, trampled by the hooves of horses, or sickened by clouds of gas. But you reason that subjected to the whiplash of discrimination, you are not really living anyway. In fact, barely existing. Better, you say to yourself, to live standing than to die on your knees, knowing that you are robbed of your dignity. So you are there on the bridge.

crowd

The clash begins. You hear the thud of nightsticks cracking skulls. You hear the shrill shriek of women. You hear them calling out. “Sweet Jesus, save me.” “Don’t let me die, Lord. Don’t let me die.” You see mounds of humans struggling to their feet, only to be hammered back to the pavement. Then you hear an inner voice whisper, “Today you will die.” You see flashes of Jim Crow signs: “Colored to the rear.” “White drinking fountain.” You see yourself denied a Coke at a café. And again you hear the voice sighing, “Today you will die.”

The irony is you are one who believes in the nation’s credo: all men are created equal. Those with the clubs, tear gas and dogs make a mockery of the belief. You have come to the bridge because of your faith in that belief, to even lay down your life if need be for that credo.

As you read this, you are probably saying, “But I was not on that bridge.” To you I say, “You are wrong. You were on that bridge on that historic day.” We all were on the bridge. On there with the patriots who were clubbed. None of us will ever leave that bridge in Selma. Ever.

Leave a comment

Filed under writing

The Tastes, Smells and Sounds of Christmases Past by Calvin Davis

I watch my wife in the grocery store. She picks up a tangerine, presses it to her nose and inhales, her eyes closed. tangerines“Christmas,” she says, a childhood expression lighting her face. “We only ever bought them at Christmastime,” she tells me for the umpteenth time.  Back in the early ’50’s in the farming country of southern Pennsylvania, produce was often limited. A bowl of walnuts was also a treat. For me, growing up in south-central Virginia, our treats were licorice sticks, candy canes and homemade pound cakes–and country ham. My mother could make the best, soaking them for days to get out the excess salt. Christmas carols were played on the radio the week before Christmas, not the week after Halloween. And the best gift of all was the coming together of extended family for laughter and story telling late into the night–with a little moonshine to loosen the tongues.

Christmas starTimes and traditions change. We all have our own little memories. Smells. tastes and sounds that bring back their sweetness and comfort. But the true reason of the season never changes. I wish you all a family-filled Christmas wrapped in hope and love and peace.

candy canes

2 Comments

Filed under writing

HOW TO DISCOVER WHAT A GOOD WRITER YOU ARE!

plopfront-148x223Horrible. Disgusting. Did I write those lines? How could I have?  What got into me? Was I drunk when I penned that paragraph? And the next one is even worse. These are questions and assertions that sprang to mind whenever I reviewed the first chapter of my novel The Phantom Lady of Paris.

I don’t know about you but I’m the greatest critic of anything I write. And I’m convinced most creative persons are the same way. Examples: I expect if you exhumed Picasso and put one of his paintings before him, he would want to change it in some way. “A little more orange here. A darker hue there.” Etc., etc. The same could probably be said of Leonardo da Vince when it comes to his Mon Lisa. “Don’t you think her eyes are too inexpressive?” Or “I failed to put a maternal softness to her lips. “The irony is that the world sees nothing wrong with the works of these great masters. The great masters see many flaws in their works.

When doing a book signing, I’m often asked to read a portion of my novel. I don’t want to do that. Why? Because every time I read from my book, I silently edit as I read. I am plagued by critical questions within my mind, similar to the following: “Why did I use that word there? Another word is much better. Why not use a more graphic and visceral term?” And on and on and on. The queries do not stop.

Recently I had quite an educational and enriching experience. For once, I liked what I had written. How could that possibly happen when I’ve been so critical of my lines and for so long. The answer is simple. A publisher of audio books has agreed to turn The Phantom Lady of Paris into an audio book. The publisher sent me a sample of the audio volume. I play it, sat and listened. I heard my lines and I did not mentally edit the material. I let the word spoken by the professional narrator draw me into the tale.

stock-footage-man-talking-into-a-professional-condenser-microphoneListening, I had a revelation. The enlightenment was this. As long I read what I have written, I will forever be critical of it. But…when a professional narrator reads the same lines, I become detached from them. And the words sound fresh and new and good. I liked what I heard. No, I loved what I heard.

Maybe there is a lesson in all of this. I won’t tell you what it is. I’m sure you can figure it out for yourself. Anyway, happy listening. And HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

1 Comment

Filed under writing

A NEW FORM; A NEW FACE

plopfront-148x223

I like it. What, you ask? The new audio cover for my Second Wind print novel. Let me explain. Recently a company that produces audio books agreed to turn my novel The Phantom Lady of Paris into an audio book. It will shortly be available. The novel’s narrator has completed his work, and I have been sent an image of what the work’s cover will look like. Someone with a lot of imagination and a great deal of artistic knowledge has created a cover with a Parisian motif that is done in an impressionistic style. The style is similar to that of Edgar Degas.

The same story. A new face. A new media form.

securedownload

3 Comments

Filed under writing