Just Have to Share

Readers of this blog know I’m opinionated, have high writing standards (for myself at least and in what I read). So it is particularly gratifying when an astute reader of one of my works takes the time to write a thoughtful review.

For my latest opus, “Twilight’s Indian Princess” I’ve been fortunate to have received some very insightful appreciative reviews. I don’t buy or solicit reviews as the majority of authors do today, a common practice, and publishers do too (and perhaps that’s stupid on my part, but the very thought of it turns my stomach). So at least my reviews are genuine.

I also don’t check my book sales every day or prowl constantly for praise in reviews (I got over that a long time ago). I’m not a good self-promoter; I write the best honest books I can and just put them out there.

But I was surprised and gratified to find a surprise when I checked in on the languishing “Twilight’s Indian Princess,” the first installment in a series. It’s literary, involved and has a difficult main character. Three strikes against it.  I just assume readers of Gone, Girl or Game of Thrones would pass over it in a heartbeat, because it deals with deeper matters, what really goes on inside the character’s head that influences behavior and relationships. Those other books are only superficially interested in such things. They don’t want to make you think too hard. And who needs another headache, right?

But today I stumbled over this latest review on Amazon of “Twilight’s Indian Princess” and was, well, gratified. If I touch only a few thoughtful readers, I consider myself a greater success than bestselling writers.


4.0 out of 5 stars Dreams of horses, August 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Twilight’s Indian Princess: Book I (Kindle Edition)
MargaretLangstaff clearly has a series in mind for Sarah SloanMcCorkle, our protagonist in “Twilight’s Indian Princess.” After reading “Book I,” I can foresee almost anything for this hurricane of a character, from catharsis to state prison. Who knows whatLangstaff has on the drawing board?Oddly enough, the bulk of this short piece takes place in the mind of Sarah as she flits around in her memory and imagination. Not many writers can get away with so much interior “action” (a paradox the author seems to have purposely tackled here), but Langstaff’s prose is energetic, ornate, blunt, frilly, challenging at times, and always satisfying. There are moments when it might go a tad too far (“It would cap the day nicely, even if only circumstantially, to find the launching pad of what it was that nailed her, pow, right between the eyes, and initiated all this reckless relentless wondering about wonderments.”), but it reflects the state of mind of the character, and the patient reader will sit back and let the words go where they want to without objection.

With her two kids away at camp and her rough-around-the-edges husband bugging her with his fish smells and his overuse of ain’t, Sarah is another “woman on the verge” and she’s volatile. Funny, but volatile.

Everyone, or most people, anyway, reach a point when they look up and wonder (a la David Byrne), “How did I get here?” Sarah’s just beginning her inner investigation.

By the way, the title doesn’t refer to Sarah. It’s a horse she had when she was a kid.

That detail alone told me, when it hit home, that this would be a special story.

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“How to Write a Sentence” from the New Yorker (seriously)


Well, here you are, looking at this, trying, hoping, floundering, scrabbling, wishing, dying to find out the mystery of “how to” write a sentence. Or possibly you have tried write sentence and failed utterly.

Never mind and never fear. I am an, thankfully, expert of sentences. Read on and be disbelieving! There is much to have taught you, and little time, so very, very little and small time.

Where shall/should you/one start/begin? At the start/beginning, of course! You ought always, and in everything you do, to begin a sentence at the beginning. It is simply no good to start in the middle and work your way out. I guarantee that you will become confused and have to sit down, or lie down if you’re already sitting, and perhaps turn off the lights and do some breathing.

Ideally, you’ll aim to begin on the left (in this case, with the word “ideally”), head right (through the middle of the sentence), and stop at the far end of the sentence (in this case, right here).

Sentences have been around since the dawn of paragraphs, and indeed since before that, for sentences are essentially the building blobs of a paragraph. Right here, if you’re looking closely enough, you may notice that what you are now reading in fact is a sentence. But also—some will have noticed even more well—what you are reading is a paragraph. And I could go further than that, even, to declare that you are also reading words, letters, and indeed this entire page. Nobody thought you could do it, but here we are now and aren’t you having a good time?

…. read the rest, study, absorb, practice, practice, practice! HOW TO WRITE A SENTENCE  :)

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Mystery Book Blog Tour – Look Out!

Some of you may be aware that I am not simply a dull over-educated literati, but also have a wild frivolous side to my writing and writing tastes.

This “side” of me has produced to date two crazy funny Florida mysteries (a la Carl Hiassen but with more lipstick and purses).  They are MARLIN, DARLIN’ and THE DEVIL, THE DIVA AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA (most easily available on Amazon).


They have gotten great reviews but I’m a lackadaisical marketer and self-promoter so sometimes they just sit there and are ignored (because I’m ignoring them with my nose in the air about more literary things).

I’m actually quite proud of them, they are highly entertaining, off-the-wall and surprising.  The plots are Gordian knots and the heroine, Garnet Sullivan, a reporter for a small town FL newspaper with a Joan of Arc complex, is somewhat of a send-up of my younger more zealous (zealot?) self.

Anywhooo, a Book Mother Angel occasionally swoops in and rescues these books from oblivion (I don’t know where these sainted people come from or what motivates them, but they have saved my butt more than once).

Rosie Amber, a UK book blogger, is the latest Fairy Godmother to take note of my worthy orphan mystery books and has invited me to take part in her “Mystery Blog Tour” in November on her blog http://rosieamber.wordpress.com. She is a doll, dogged and has a heart for writers.  She has a legion of fierce book reviewers at her beck and call and they don’t miss a beat.

I’m “on stage” Nov. 10th with the first book in the series, MARLIN, DARLIN’, and I’m asking you to please just show up that day if only to applaud Rosie for her generosity, selflessness and heart for writers.  She is truly a gem.

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Forever Rare Books

falling-bookReaders of this blog will be aware of my chronic whining about having too many books and too little space for them. They will be familiar with the angst I’m experiencing over which to part with (and probably tired of it too).

To help remedy some of the glut of great collectible books, I have on and off tried selling some of the more valuable and just superbly written titles on Amazon.

This has been an on and off effort, desultory if you will.  I make a stab at it, then quit in disgust, then go back to it again. (I’m choking on books! I daren’t buy anymore or my walls will fall in and I will appropriately be “buried” in them–a fitting end for me).

Well, I’ve started up again, grinding my teeth all the while at Amazon’s strictures and rating systems/policies.

While I was away, since I did this last there, I find I lost some rating points for not providing “tracking” info on USPS shipments (all of which had been received by buyers on time and in good order). Not one of my shipments has ever been lost!  And when did they decide you had to provide photos for listings? Particularly if your copy matched the one they already had on their site? Points off retroactively! Makes no sense to me. They changed their policy while I was away reading and writing and planting winter kale.

I am somewhat policy and systems averse, I guess.

At any rate I thought some of you might be interested in knowing about some of them and so I’m starting a page for a handful of special copies, real gems, with links to its Amazon page in case you’re interested.

This pains me, but is necessary and I must be more organized and systematic about it!

Keep your eyes peeled for the new page. Will be up soon.  Thanks. Take good care of my babies if you acquire any of them, OK?

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Fictive Things Wink as They Will

Needed some sere severe poetic discourse (to replace one headache with another).  Don’t fret over what seems obscure here but relish the nuggets that hit you where you live. The bold type is my emendation. For all his pompous learning, Stevens was a prankster and a tease.  Bold type is mine, not the poet’s, to repeat repeatedly.

      “A High-Toned Old Christian Woman”

By Wallace Stevens

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That’s clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began. Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk, [love this]
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.
[Um...Sooo...the point is that there is no point except the pointless point we posit just for the heck-fun of it? Okeedokey. Fine. Where's my old rosary?]
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The Personal Library

library nyrThis week’s New Yorker. 

If only I were that composed and organized!!!

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Survivors and Connivers

Boccaccio wrote the Decameron, the paradigm Chaucer followed for the Canterbury Tales,  Canterbury_TalesB some years after the Italian’s opus, during the darkest days of the Black Plague in Europe.

The Black Plague decimated Europe while it raged. It was spread by a virus carried by rats (yuk, yes). The nobility and anyone with two cents worth of sense fled to the countryside to ride it out for it seemed to be most virulent in the cities, Rome, Venice, Florence and so on.
In the idyll of the beautiful Italian countryside these favored few gathered in small communities, idealized the pastoral life, indulged and amused themselves while the poor and less fortunate (generally “dirtier”) perished by the millions, and– according to the mighty story teller Boccaccio– entertained one another endlessly by telling stories and tales.


As it comes down to us the Decameron is obviously no extemporaneous half-baked amateurish series of tales for Boccaccio was one of the first major popular Italian stem-winders who actually wrote in the language of the common man (e.g., not Latin).

“The Decameron (Italian: Decamerone), subtitled Prince Galehaut (Italian: Prencipe Galeotto), is a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375). The book is structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city. Boccaccio probably conceived the Decameron after the epidemic of 1348, and completed it by 1353. The various tales of love in The Decameron range from the erotic to the tragic. Tales of wit, practical jokes, and life lessons contribute to the mosaic. In addition to its literary value and widespread influence (for example on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales), it provides a document of life at the time. Written in the vernacular of the Florentine language, it is considered a masterpiece of classical early Italian prose.” (Wikipedia)


“The Black Death arrived in Europe by sea in October 1347 when 12 Genoese trading ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina after a long journey through the Black Sea. The people who gathered on the docks to greet the ships were met with a horrifying surprise: Most of the sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those who were still alive were gravely ill. They were overcome with fever, unable to keep food down and delirious from pain. Strangest of all, they were covered in mysterious black boils that oozed blood and pus and gave their illness its name: the “Black Death.” The Sicilian authorities hastily ordered the fleet of “death ships” out of the harbor, but it was too late: Over the next five years, the mysterious Black Death would kill more than 20 million people in Europe–almost one-third of the continent’s population.” http://www.history.com/topics/black-deathengland black death

Recent events have reminded me of the origin of these masterpieces: when unaccountable plague ravaged Europe, still the human impetus toward creativity in the darkest times persists and produces lasting beauty and inspiration.

My fav in the Canterbury Tales? “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” but they are all worthy.



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