Monday, July 16, 2007

Anna makes my day!

A reader named Anna dropped by and made a very kind comment about my Impromptu Poem. In gratitude here is a poem for Anna...


By Barry Yelton

In the early morning,
from a gilded dream,
where sunlight sparkles in the watchful air,
walks Anna
bringing light into the gloom
and joy into the heart.
Walk hopefully, Anna,
through this blessed day,
and may peace
be your nearest companion.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Friends at Amazon

I have recently communicated with some people on one of Amazon's discussion boards about self published novels. One of the people, Dianne Salerni, was kind enough to add a mention of Scarecrow in Gray to her web page, so I herewith return the favor. Here is what she says about her book:

"My name is Dianne K. Salerni, and I have recently published a novel for young adults and (ahem) not-so-young adults about the Fox Sisters. Maggie and Kate Fox were two teenagers who accidentally founded the Spiritualist Movement in the 1850's when they claimed to be spirit mediums with the ability to contact the dead. My novel follows the story of Maggie Fox's life as she first learns to make a living as a fraud, then becomes a national celebrity, and finally falls in love with a man who tries to extricate her from a life of deception.I am published with iUniverse. My book is High Spirits: A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance. It is listed here with Amazon and also with B&N. I have a website:"

We self published authors have to help each other in order to get noticed and hopefully sell some books. If you are self-published, please contact me here by posting a reply and I will be happy to give you a mention. Surely can't hurt.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Civil War Novel

My first book, a Civil War novel, Scarecrow in Gray, was an exercise in patience, diligence, and fidelity. Patience came into play when I struggled with the elements of the story. I knew the basic outline from the beginning, since the story is based on the Civil War service of my great-grandfather, Francis Marion Yelton. However, writing the book and putting together believable and consistent episodes was a challenge.

I wrote at night. I have a demanding day job. As a consequence of this part time approach, I found myself at the keyboard many nights at 11 PM struggling the make the story make sense. Patience, my child, as my kindly muse might say, if I had had one. Patience is not a virtue of mine and I had to learn a lot of it during the nine years or so I struggled to write my book.

Diligence was even tougher. Consistently writing, then re-writing and then editing (since my book is self published and therefore bereft of the noble talents of an editor). I had to grind it out many nights when tired, distracted, unmotivated, etc. Diligence may be a more valuable trait than Patience.

Finally, fidelity must be acknowledged as a guiding principle for any work of historical fiction. You must be true to the period, the cultural background, and (in my case) the military facts including troop movements, battlefield locations, weaponry, equipment, and the mindset of the troops.

For a 218 page book, I probably took longer than a Doctorow, Hemingway, or Faulkner would take to write 500 pages. Forget about Asimov. He could write 218 pages a day (without too much exaggeration on my part). Anyway, perhaps this gives you some sense of the process and how we authors suffer for our art (that's supposed to be funny).

I am in the raw beginnings of doing it again. Look for the sequel for Scarecrow sometime about 2020 AD.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Humility, by Barry Yelton

The politicians and the pundits are forever declaiming as to what America needs - more healthcare, immigration reform, a new strategy in Iraq, etc. I would propose that of all the things America needs, corporately and individually, the greatest is good old fashioned humility.
Humility is so important as to be the very key to reaching a solution for the many ills that afflict our nation and our world, if we can but see the obvious. I am not speaking of that sort of humility equated with an inferiority complex or false modesty, rather the kind of humility referred to in the Bible, which implies a modest unpretentiousness.
I believe the achievement of personal humility to be the result of true emotional maturity. Humility’s opposite arrogance and its cousin pride are on the other hand indicative of a kind of emotional immaturity. This sort of arrogance is vividly on display daily in the mugging, preening videos of popular musicians of virtually every type. They possess the emotional maturity of two year olds who have successfully gone to the potty.
As musicians and celebrities mug for the camera, they declare, “Look at me. I am the greatest thing since sliced bread.” Likewise, some of the demonstrations performed in the end zone after a touchdown are equally absurd, arrogant, and juvenile.
The examples are numerous and they do not end with popular music and sports, though in the areas of serious endeavor, they are both more subtle and more troubling. Politicians, for example, universally believe they have all the answers, while their opponents are hopelessly misguided or malicious. The fast trackers in the business world look down on the plodders, wielding their Wharton MBA’s like avatars. The rich often disdain the poor.
Arrogance is often seen as a virtue in modern America, a sort of autocratic platform from which to view the world. When and where this came to be, I am not sure. I am sure it is in simply the preening of the emotionally immature.
Humility, on the other hand, practiced by such luminaries as Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Robert E. Lee, and most dramatically, Jesus Christ, has an amazing palliative effect on relationships among individuals as well as groups. Humble people do not push and prod, but instead accommodate and defer. Humility offers a “soft answer which turns away wrath.”
I believe possessing an unassuming attitude while achieving great things may well be the single highest attainment of which human kind is capable. At the very least, it is clearly one of the most endearing qualities a person can possess and something to be highly valued.