Writing travel or short stories: pay attention to this!

A  friend just wrote this and thought I’d share it with you.  Her site’s mdaviswrites.wordpress.com.  She’s blogged up international travel, with plenty of pics from a world — esp. Nepal — that doesn’t exist in the same form.


Hands-on help: Short & travel stories (So This is why Willa Cather lived in New York)


D.H. Lawrence:  “A writer needs a home.”

True words from one of the best. But there are gale-force winds and hellish adjustments that I must make, every minute, just to survive.

Online dictionaries , especially the city-wise ones, tell you more than Lawrence ever did about sex.  But you can learn how to write, to a large extent, by  following  authors like Lawrence.  Read his plays, travel stories and essays, too.

Lawrence makes language suit the story he’s writing.  The Man from San Francisco was written by Russian I B  Butin and edited or translated by several people, including Lawrence. (Also Virginia Woolfe.)  The best version I’ve unearthed is from a university library, Stories from The Dial (Dial Press, 1924).


I’m in Nebraska this month.  I came here to enjoy the winter, though my first thought was “So This is why Willa Cather lived in New York after she got famous!”


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Jet-lag and culture shock have been doing their worst to me.  Yet I’m feeling myself return to life.

I can even look back at all those ‘lost years’ and be glad they happened, and glad that I’m back.

Writing in the US is more competitive than it was 20 years ago. And interruptions are more frequent.  I think that most people know how to cope with those things, but I’m still a gosling, half-reeling and stunned.


Best to you all.  More tomorrow.  (time to hit the bike trails! American sunsets are magnificent, aren’t they?)  Julie


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Feed a homeless person on Earth Day 2017

Homelessness exists even on Earth Day. Homeless shelters are regularly full & they must turn people away.

Please remember to give to facilities that give meals to homeless people. Don’t shame these homeless people: just get some food to them. Counter any cut-backs in your area by giving food to homeless free cafes. That will directly help!

Go downtown & you’ll see plenty. Try not to be judgmental: just get them a meal, as outlined above. Thank you.IMG_0587

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What Happened to Your Self-Respect?

Push with the energy that comes at you

Taichi master nanchangIMG_0050
T’ai Chi Grand Master, Shijiazhuang, China

We’ve been through a lot over the last few months, haven’t we?

But Now Is For You!  Walk away from what troubles you.  Be the person you’ve always wanted to be. 

  1. Walk away from what slows you down.  Turn your back on people who don’t believe in you.

It’s that easy.  

Remember that other people, even your oldest friends, are also confused now.  Give them their privacy and space. 

2. Notice how You feel.  

Give yourself your peace of mind.

3. Remember your ‘inner life.’   Remember ‘Me Time’.

Pay attention to this and respect yourself.

4.  It’s spring!  Be curious again!   Remember?  You matter.  

(Forget Washington and New York; forget local gossip. Forget ‘the experts.’)

5. Notice when you feel threatened or nervous.

Take a slow, deep breath, relax your neck and shoulders. Close your eyes and be peaceful.


  1. Gentle Hatha Yoga taught by an experienced teacher.  Stick with something basic and simple for now.

      2.  T’ai Qi Qi Gong or Qi Gong is perfect if you need more.  I have a lot of energy, too.  (I brought DVD’s from the Orient.  Sometimes ‘qi’ is written ‘chi’.)

T’ai Qi Qi Gong and Qi Gong are soothing and dance-like. They don’t demand perfection and ‘corrections.’

These are done all over Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand, in parks,  the grassy areas around art museums, and in Taipei, large classes are held outside and above the subways.

And for right now,  they’re perfect for easing you out of tension.

3. Don’t commit to something that you don’t understand


Find an authentic form of Gentle Hatha Yoga and these gentle Qi systems.   If there are words in the class title you don’t understand, ask the instructor. Sometimes the watered-down versions are speeded up, too.   Maybe you can ask for a demo or to sit in a few minutes of class.

There are DVD’s (look around some of the martial arts/yoga/massage  sites). Keep your eyes open for Free University classes in real time and online.

4. Avoid extremes!

We’re in no shape for more surprises.  But it’s time to wake up and stop being passive!

Turn to yourself. Healing starts from within.

5. Life is more than disappointments, shocking politics, credit cards, angry words and confusing economies.

6. Take care of yourself during all this. You’ll feel better, sleep better, eat less and make better choices.

7. The first step is recovering your self-worth. I know you’ll find it by looking inside.

Lately we’ve all had to be extroverts.  Maybe it’s time to slow down and be quiet for awhile, too.


My travels in Asia can’t be duplicated (see the photo above; I was right there, with a Chinese man handing me a fencing pole the size of a telephone pole).

Frankly I miss all the adventures and challenges, the unusual studies (like pole fencing on the Mainland and  T’ai Chi and fan-dancing in Taiwan, with all the lunges, swooping and snaps).  I miss surprises like platoons of people doing sword dancing that looked like battles.

But now I have new challenges and adventures.  I’ve returned to the States, perhaps for good.

Like many other authors,  I couldn’t write for months.  But I’m back. I’m even teaching again. I’d love to get a note from my readers, too.


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Winter reading for free

Hello from stormy western Nebraska.  An hour ago I was going to ride my bicycle to the library. Now the wind’s ripping through the trees & the sky’s black. And so, here are places you can get free digital reads.

Hathi Trust is one place for interesting books of all kinds. http://www.hathitrust.org.  I’m fond of fiction, so I read a long-neglected Scots author, Susan Ferrier.  I read all her novels, but my favorite is Marriage.  It’s not difficult and it’s fun (at least I thought so, but you might like more action-packed stories). From a writer’s point of view, it was interesting how she created love between opposites and made the explanations really entertaining.  Hathi Trust is worth it.  Far beyond the other services in terms of actual books, not just ancient farm manuals or mail records.  If you have trouble, use the help features and get a human. They’ll get you where you need to go. You don’t need to be part of a college or library, either.

I found some history there I needed for a book I’m slowly writing — and on Google Play. (About the tourists who visited the Scots highlands in the early 1800’s.)  You could focus on what you like.

I also use Open Library. It’s much easier than Internet Archives, which I think means well but wastes a lot of time & doesn’t give you the books they really have. Open Library’s pretty straightforward. Hathi, Google Play and Open Library are, of course, free.  They have services that charge you, but it’s clearly marked and avoided.

Burgomeister’s my old stand-by, but sometimes it disappears for a little while.  That seems to be the case right now, but I’ll keep sending the ‘owner’ email.  Sometimes using a vpn/proxy works, sometimes not.

Libraries now have free downloads for kindles and other reading devices, so you can stay out of the cold. I need to take advantage of the kindle set up; but I had some trouble with Amazon,  got lazy & stopped at 2 free downloads.  Libraries have lists of newspapers, books and magazines and several ways of getting them. Just phone or email your library. If you don’t have  a card, you can probably do that online, too.

I tried to stay ‘informed’ last fall & ended up being one more lied-to American. The New Yorker’s cartoons seemed to understand what we were going through. But they were manipulating us, just like everybody else.

So many things have turned out to be untrue, others might be worse.  I refuse to get involved again.   However, I’m going to be optimistic and more of an individual than ever.  And I will NOT read ‘the news.’  If things get really bad, I’m not afraid to leave.  It’s primitive & lonely away from the States, but not impossible…

Mind-readers among you, don’t be shocked at my language…

Keep in touch.  Remember, I live in a deeply conservative area right now & appreciate every gentle reminder of friendship.

Julia Bates

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Cody:  Everybody says how sexy the Thai women are & just how they treat a handsome man like you.  Why didn’t you stay there?

Titus:  Well, sure, the women were beautiful & gosh, Cody. I can’t say they didn’t do everything they could to tempt a man.

<Captured by that memory, looking back is written all over his face:  his half-shut eyes, parted lips, rapid gasping breath.>

<Suddenly snaps out of it. Shakes himself, dazed wild look in his eyes.> Where am I?  Oh yeah.

Sure, uh,  Hi, Cody.

<Embarrassed.  Clears his throat.>  A-hem.  

<Resumes their conversation> Those tropical paradise places sure are easy. There was plenty of oil work off shore, too.  And I could’ve consulted from there…

Cody: Then what made you come back to Oklahoma?

Titus:  You recall TS Eliot’s “The Lotus Eaters….”

Cody:  You know, he didn’t write that. It was Alfred Lord Tennyson did.  “The Lotos-Eaters.”

Titus:  You know, you’re right.  I remember that now.  Well.  I stand corrected!

Cody:  I fell into that same mistake.  I wish Eliot had written more directly on that theme, “The Lotus Eaters.”  Certainly many people did write about it.  If you look even at The Time Machine and the Eloi, they were of that same complaisant temperament.  And just what did that MEAN?

But frankly, I stopped reading Tennyson after the tenth volume.  Never got to the real stuff with him, I’m afraid.

Titus: Well then let’s skip back to the Odyssey itself and the island where Odysseus and his men were besieged by these women with their lotus-fruit…

Cody:  By the way. I feel the best translations, hands down, are Richard Lattimore’s, for the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Titus:  I agree.  I read Lattimore’s translations of other Greek poems, too.  But I do wish a more truly musical treatment were on the market for Homer’s epics.

Cody:  Whom would you think?  Burton Watson?  <She snuggled against his chest.>

Titus:  My Cody, you’re awfully beautiful tonight.  <His fingers drifted down her neck>  Who was it now translated Ikkyu?

Cody:  Who? … Oh, Ikkyu…Titus, what are you doing there?…  I don’t … know about…   Ikkyu….  Was he the real sexy one?

Titus:  Mmmm. You bet.  <Feeling the soft skin between her thighs…>


To be continued

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Blood Up to the Horse’s Bit: An Oklahoma Love Story

Hello, Gentle Readers,

Have any of you all written flash romance fiction? I read about an editor whose father was a ‘traveling minister.’ In Oklahoma mountain-speak, that means a revival/tent preacher. I was at the keyboard immediately and just 4 days later, I sent it in to a Flash F house.


This was another story about the deep south of Oklahoma. It’s about the Book of Revelations’ creating a runaway marriage. In 1,000 words.

I don’t think it’s my normal editors’ dream submission. Might be too … weird. What do you think?


After thinking it over I submitted it as Mainstream Flash Fiction, for a similar reason.  Although it did have a happy ending, the Book of Revelations and an Oklahoma Tent Revival aren’t the near-slapstick fare that sometimes hits the Romance shelf these days.  Not much snappy dialogue, either, because people talk very slowly down there, especially the folks below the poverty line who go to revivals.



Plenty of accurate dialogue and local color went into this 4-page story. Grit and realism…


Technique-wise, I wrote in Close/Limited Omniscience, 3rd person.  I broke the pov into two scenes, making the heroine start the story.  I made sure to use her name in the first sentence, too, to avoid any reader confusion.  The girl, Liddie, was talking from her world.


Next section was ‘his.’  It clearly began with his name, immediately, and his masculine country voice was doing the talking.


Romance novelist Christie Craig emphasizes that characters should sound whatever sex you’ve written them to be.  This was easy, because the action/plot had clarified that he was financially stable and she wasn’t.  That he was a farmer and she was a preacher’s daughter.  And so on (as my Chinese students said).


The hero’s section was more cheerful, too, and easier to write; I’d gone through all their tribulations already.  SPOILER FOLLOWS.

Now the happy couple was just sailing along together.


This was actually hard work.  I didn’t have to do much research, but it called for remembering things I wanted to just forget — like the harshness and narrow-minded people we all run across.


Therefore,  I’ll be glad to write a flippant, cheery Regency romance now!



Best!  Julie



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