“Incense Summer”

A Short Story

Incense Summer
J Guenther

Julia doesn’t talk about it, but she still thinks of that summer as “when I learned about incense.” Many things happened between June and September that year at Benison College, but she remembers the incense most of all.

Julia wanted extra spending money for her sophomore year, so she worked in town that summer, Monday through Saturday, at “Wooten’s Card Shop.” Wooten’s, known to students as “the Woo-Woo store,” sold goods ranging from greeting cards and posters, to crystals, candles, tarot decks, and Zigzag cigarette papers.

One afternoon during Julia’s first week, an elderly man visited Wooten’s. He wandered about for twenty minutes, then approached the counter with a tiny box of “Dr. Gupta’s Assorted Meditation Incense Cones,” one of the least expensive items in the store. “Just this, Julia,” he said.

“How’d you know my name?” she asked, tilting her head as she rang up the incense. Continue reading

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A True Map of the City – Copyright Filed

I filed the copyright application for my latest book, A True Map of the City, today. It took from 11:07 a.m. to 11:35 a.m. Practice makes it go faster. Next step: create ARCs (advanced reviewer copies) for reviewers.

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Cover Poll – True Map of the City

Map Cover

Cover #1

Cover #2

Which cover do you think is most likely to make you want to open the book? (Note: ignore the red border on  Cover #1).

What do you think it’s about?

Any suggestions are most welcome.









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Book Review: My Father’s Keeper by Norbert Lebert

My Father’s Keeper (2001) is the story of the children of upper echelon Nazis, the sons and daughters of Himmler, Hess, Goering, and others. German journalists Stephan Lebert and his son Norbert conducted their interviews in 1959 and 2000, respectively.

The subjects’ coping mechanisms were largely unsuccessful. The most strategically useful approach (I won’t call it ‘successful’) was perhaps that of Martin Bormann, Jr. Continue reading

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Our Yardstick is Bent: the NYT Best Sellers List

The NYT once testified that their best selling book list is editorial content, not news content. In other words, it’s not an objective measure of books’ worth OR popularity.

In 1983, author William Peter Blatty sued The New York Times for $6 million, claiming that his latest book, Legion (filmed as The Exorcist III), had not been included in the list due to either negligence or intentional falsehood, saying it should have been included due to high sales.[4] The Times countered that the list was not mathematically objective but rather was editorial content and thus protected under the Constitution as free speech.

Continue reading

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“Needs Tightening”

These two dread words, when found without further explanation in a critique, signal oncoming angst for the writer. We all know what ‘tightening’ means in theory. In practice, it can include anything from removing a few words here and there, to taking out entire scenes.

It’s a fact that good material becomes less effective when Continue reading

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The Awful Truth About Writing & Writers

I was at lunch with a group of writers the other day, and something I said resonated with the group. I summarized it in the meme I’ve created, below. I’ve posted this on Twitter and Facebook; might as well put it here, too. There is an awful truth about writing that many unsuspecting authors don’t know until it’s too late. Continue reading

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“The Universal Plot”

Neptune Plotting

Take a trip back to the 80’s and see what was known then as The Universal Plot. Its origins are obscure, but I suspect that it was generated by someone in Southwest Manuscripters back around 1980. My copy shows no copyright and I can’t find it on the Internerd, so I’ll assume it’s public domain. Kudos to whoever first compiled it. Here goes: Continue reading

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Book Review: Blitzed, by Norman Ohler

Norman Ohler’s Blitzed is an extensively researched book that provides another view of Hitler’s Germany. Despite Der Fuehrer’s official (and hypocritical) pretence of abstemiousness, he did eat meat, and he did drink, and he did have a mistress. We can add drug use to that list, not just by Hitler, but on a national scale all the way down to ordinary German soldiers, hopped up on Pervitin (methamphetamine) tablets during the invasions of Poland, France, and Russia. Continue reading

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Beta Readers Wanted

I’ve slated another book for release this year. It’s currently in third draft, an enrichment draft where details will be fleshed out and the character’s arc enhanced. The current word count is 21,000, well into novella* territory, with about 80 pages of text, not counting front and back matter. The book has been workshop tested in first draft.

Synopsis: A timorous traveller finds himself in a strange and treacherous city without a map. He also discovers that his language school has instructed him in the wrong dialect for this city.

The tentative cover: Continue reading

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