Short Stories – Free Download

May 28, 2010

Sirhan Sirhan - Did he change history in 1968?

Several of my writings are now posted at  iWriteit available for free download.  If you do check them out, honest, constructive criticism would be appreciated. Here are the links to the stories,   No Mercy  Full Count,  Arachnophobia   Backyard Visitor  Ballot and Bullets: Violence in Presidential Politics


Fiction Writing – Excerpt

August 7, 2009

After reading some writing books, I’ve started making an effort to write at least one page a day. So far I’ve been pretty successful. Once I start writing usually I end up with a short story in draft form. Here is the introductory paragraph from a short story called, Arachnophobia, that I completed a couple of days ago. Now for the editing and submission process. Word count on this one is 980.

tarantula“Bobby Drux was afraid of spiders. Ever since he remembered this was part of his psyche. Other kids found out and teased him. Whenever they caught one, it was put in his desk at school or his backpack. They laughed as he ran screaming at the sight of the little creatures. That was then, but now even though he was an adult, the fear remained.”

excerpt from “Arachnophobia” by Steve B. Davis

Book Review: The Writer’s Little Helper

July 31, 2009

LittleWritingBookCoverThe Writer’s Little Helper is the best reference on writing I’ve found. It’s the one book I carry everywhere with me. 

The author James V. Smith, Jr.has published more than a dozen novels. His more recent material is published under the pen name John Harriman.  His objective in the book is to give the technical aspects of writing fiction to readers wanting to write a bestseller. In his words he wants to inspire, answer technical questions, and provide tools to assist the writer. 

The size of the book makes it easy to tote along. It’s 5 x 7 1/2″ and about an inch thick. 

By the way the subtitle is, “Everything you need to know to write better and get published”. There is no doubt in my mind I’m a better writer for reading and using this book. It can be read start to finish or just to focus on areas for improvement in your writing. The reading is easy and straight to the point. He uses excellent examples to illustrate. The book is an easy read. I hate books that use long-winded verbage to illustrate a simple point. 

The entire spectrum of writing is covered from ideas to publishing. Some examples include character, point of view, plot, editing, dialogue, creativity, beginnings and ends, and everything related. If you read this book you will learn something, be inspired, and have fun writing. I highly recommend it. 

The books publishing details are: 

The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr., F+W Publications, Inc. (Writer’s Digest Books), 2006, ISBN 13: 978-158297-422-4

“Oxymoron” for Writers

June 17, 2009

oxymoron-799173Definition of “Oxymoron” 

A figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear side by side.



Some of my favorite examples:

open secret                           pretty ugly
free love                                 military intelligence
extinct life                             working holiday
freezer burn                           silent scream
near miss                                crash landing
taped live                               peacekeeper missile
old news                                 original copies

The following quote is one of the most famous usages of oxymorons of all time to writers. At the very least it’s an excellent illustration of how this device can be used in prose.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . .,”

 Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

Time is on My Side

June 5, 2009
Symbol of Time - Clock

Symbol of Time - Clock

Time slips by far too quickly it seems. Why is it as you age it passes faster than when you were young? Likely just an illusion, but still my perception.

Last evening I made a resolution. I just have to find more time for writing. Family time is so important, and of course full time employment keeps the wolves from the door. Somewhere between the two I intend to spend an hour or two writing and querying magazines about the finished articles I have.

Finding time to read is also a problem. As a writer one must read. I read on the train to and from work. Before bed I read. Television is a time waster, but for a writer of nonfiction, the news and the History Channel are useful.

Jim Croce wrote a song called “Time in a Bottle” about wishing to be able to put it in a bottle and keep it. Nice thought, but time is non-renewable. Once it’s gone its gone. The secret is to manage it to your advantage. Easier said than done.

First Feature Article Published

March 11, 2009

Saltscapes, Mar/Apr 2009

A bit of a brag today. I just had my first feature article published in a mainstream magazine. I’m previously published in hobby magazines, but this is the first non-philatelic article published for me. It’s very satisfying to see one’s hard work in print. I say hard work, but in actuality it was fun for me.

The magazine is Saltscapes, March/April 2009 Issue. This is a lifestyle magazine published in Bedford, Nova Scotia. The photo is of the cover of the current issue. The editor, Heather White, was fantastic to work with. She really believed in the article. The title of the article and it’s description is,

“The Invisible Immigrants: One Home Child’s Story”

“Like many immigrants, home children came to Canada to bave a better life. They left a legacy, but not necessarily a history. Here is one home child’s story.”

The magazine’s website is,

So now it’s back to work on the writing to have more articles published. Thank goodness I seem to have lots of ideas.

Used Book Sales: Idea Mines For Writers

June 9, 2008

Over the last month or so here in Calgary there have been two monster used book sales for charity. Both of these were held in large tents. As a result of these sales I have more books on American and World history, reference, and science than ever. As an example, at the most recent sale I picked up ten hardcovers and many trade paperbacks for less than $30. At the previous sale I got around 15 hardcovers and spent only $20. What were some of the titles you are wondering? At least I hope you are curious. Well here are just a few examples,

– A Thousand Days by Theodore Sorenson
– Encyclopedia of American Prisons
– New York Times Desk Reference to Science
– Harry Truman by Margaret Truman
– Monster Book of Trivia
– FBI Agent Inside the Clinton Presidency
– Alberta Place Names
– Canadian Justice System: A Primer

I highly recommend these types of sales to writers. There are a myriad of ideas just waiting to be gleaned from the books I purchased, plus factual references for my history articles. Sure the Internet is a wonderful place to get information, but there is nothing like paging through a book, yes a real book, finding interesting tidbits and enjoying reading at the same time. For nonfiction writers like me it is a must to read in the area you’re interested in. Not only do you find out things, but you see the style used by other writers. Best of all you can get some excellent books at fantastic prices. I estimate I obtained around $400 worth of books for about $40 between the two sales. My wife thinks I’m a little crazy, but at least she knows where I am – in my home office reading used history books.

When reading a nonfiction book I do a couple of things before I actually starting reading the main part of the book,

1. Read the Table of Contents for key chapters I might want to concentrate on. An example here is the chapter in A Thousand Days on Kennedy’s time as president-elect from the general election in November 1960, until his inauguration on January 20, 1961. This to me is an interesting period in the successful candidate’s life. He knows he will president, but is not officially yet. Must be a frustrating time for many of them. Again more ideas for articles and blogs.

2. Scan the Endnotes and/or References at the back of the book. These usually give me other sources to look at and tell me where the author looked.

3. Scan the Index for key facts. For example in the Harry Truman book, I was interested on his daughter’s take on the assassination attempt of 1950. By searching the index, I found very quickly several pages related to it and more on some other threats the Secret Service had received. I was unaware of the latter. Now I have some ideas for future blogs or articles.

4. Take lots of notes.

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