The Writing Desk

Rudyard Kipling's writing desk

Rudyard Kipling’s writing desk


(12 Dec 2015) The third Romulus Buckle book, Luminiferous Aether, releases on December 22nd. I’ll be finishing up the manuscript of my WW2 Russian trilogy (historical fiction) for my agent to take out to publishers at the beginning of 2016.

The League of the Sphinx

The League of the Sphinx

(9 Feb 2013) With the 3rd book in the Romulus Buckle series on a sort of temporary hold, and the first book in my new MG/YA series The League of the Sphinx going out to publishers, I am about to re-start an epic novel that I’ve been working on intermittently for about ten years.





Wonderbook-coverWonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer (illustrated by Jeremy Zerfoss).  “Often exhilarating and a delight, our imagination is also deeply strange, perverse, disturbing, and, at times, frightening. Yet we shouldn’t shy away from the darker parts of our creativity.” (Full website interactive support at

9780062006851_p0_v1_s260x420How to Write a Sentence (and How to Read One) by Stanley Fish (HarperCollins, 2011).  “What is it we do when we make a sentence out of a random collection of words?  What is it we that we add to those words that causes them to form something we recognize as a sentence?  The answer can be given in a single word, and that word is ‘relationships.’”

The War of Art

The War of Art

The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield (Warner Books, 2004).  “The writer is an infantryman.  He knows that progress is measured in yards of dirt extracted from the enemy one day, one hour, one minute at a time and paid for in blood … The muse favors working stiffs.”




Letters to a Young PoetLetters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (Random House, trans. Stephen Mitchell, 1984: 1903-1904).  “Everything is gestation and then birthing.  To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, in the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.”

Quotes on Writing and Life

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” (George Bernard Shaw)
“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” (Ayn Rand)
“Next time I’ll be braver/I’ll be my own savior.” (Adele, Turning Tables.)
“What’s a novelist anyway but a little god in pajamas?”  (Terry Bisson)
“The road from intensity to greatness passes through sacrifice.”  (Rudolph Kassner)
“For somewhere there is an ancient enmity between our daily life and the great work.”  (Rainer Maria Rilke)
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” (Leo Tolstoy)

   Two Poems on the Great Cats in Captivity

The Jaguar
by Ted Hughes

The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun.
The parrots shriek as if they were on fire, or strut
Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.
Fatigued with indolence, tiger and lion

Lie still as the sun.  The boa-constrictor’s coil
Is a fossil.  Cage after cage seems empty, or
Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw.
It might be painted on a nursery wall.

But who runs from the rest past these arrives
At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, mesmerized,
As a child at a dream, at a jaguar hurrying enraged
Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes

On a short fierce fuse.  Not in boredom –
The eye satisfied to be blind in fire
By the bang of blood in the brain deaf the ear –
he spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him

More than to the visionary his cell:
His stride is wildernesses of freedom:
The world rolls under the long thrust of his heel.
Over the cage floor the horizons come.


     The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke
(in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris)

His vision, from the constantly passing bars
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else.  It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will is paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils,
lifts, quietly –.  An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.