Monday, January 8, 2018

Social Conscience and the Written Word

Some years ago I wrote an article that was published by GUMSHOE REVIEW. It was entitled “Social Conscience in Modern Mystery Fiction” and remains in the archives. At the time I observed: “Many of today's mystery and crime fiction authors display significant elements of social conscience and/or awareness in their writing.”

I would now like to amend and expand my statement to observe that earlier mystery writers, particularly those who wrote noir, also demonstrated social conscience. To demonstrate this point, I recently read a review of a newly discovered Raymond Chandler story written not long before his death. The story, “It’s All Right: He Only Died,” appears in THE STRAND MAGAZINE’s holiday edition. In true Chandler style, the story is in the hard-boiled tradition. It condemns a doctor at a hospital who doesn’t want to care for a patient he believes to be indigent.

Writing stories that make a significant point is a worthy effort. Mystery writers often act as a moral conscience to society—as do writers in general.

My last work, THE BURNING, is not a mystery, more of a thriller, but it is meaningful. It’s about a family surviving an environmental disaster. It deals with matters that need to concern everyone living on our planet.

Have you read or written any stories or novels that you consider socially relevant? Your thoughts and comments welcome.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Let’s Start the New Year Right!

January 1st will mark a new beginning and a fresh start for us. I am planning what I intend to do during the new year, but my new year resolutions have only slightly changed for 2018.

First comes family needs and concerns.

Second, seeing to health matters.

After that I resolve to continue my writing. This I do faithfully beginning early each morning.

I will also continue to send my work out to various publishers and publications regardless of acceptances. Most writers meet with a lot more rejection than acceptance. In that respect, I am typical. But if writing is something you feel compelled to do—like me—than you work at it regardless.

One of my continuing resolutions is striving to improve the quality of my work. With that in mind, I pay attention to editorial and reader comments. The year 2017 brought publication of my novella THE BURNING which I intend to continue to publicize because I feel it’s a meaningful work worthy of being read.

There were also short stories published in a variety of genres. Two novels are scheduled for publication in 2018 as well as a number of short stories and some nonfiction.

I also intend to continue reading diverse books and writing reviews of those I truly enjoy.

I resolve to do more landscape painting. I’ve let that go of late.

I confess housework comes dead last—but it does and will get done, as does shopping and cooking. All of life’s necessities.

What are some of your plans or resolutions for the year ahead? Are they the same as last year or have they changed?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Reflections on Holiday Shopping Revisited

Holiday shopping is in high gear. Today is the first day of Chanukah. It will soon be followed by Christmas, all of which brings a flurry of shopping.

The where and how of holiday shopping plagues many of us. Nothing can quite compare with the yearly ritual of holiday shopping, which theoretically begins on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. However, in actuality it begins much earlier, of late right after Halloween. In fact, the way things are going, pretty soon the stores will start putting up tinsel on the 4th of July.

 The frenetic pace of mall madness increases unabated throughout December. The shopping itself takes on such dimensions that with many people the material overwhelms the spiritual aspect of the holidays.

But before the shopping can even begin, there is the business of finding parking at The Mall. Holiday shoppers know when they are nearing this location because traffic becomes as thick as an ant colony, and jockeying for position starts in earnest. Inevitably, a type "A" personality loses patience and aggressively pulls out on the shoulder of the road, speeds ahead, then forces his/her way into the regular stream of traffic. This individual manages to gain perhaps four or five car lengths to ultimately beat the traffic light, forcing other drivers to slam on their brakes and come to an abrupt halt. A cacophony of horns proceeds to announce the general agitation.

Arriving at the mall, one is treated to a breathtaking sight—an unending sea of automobiles. There is quite literally not a parking spot to spare. And so begins the art of cruising for a space. This can be compared to the choreography of a ballet. Automobiles pirouette and arabesque around the lot.

Inevitably, there is a car waiting in each aisle for someone to pull out. Often there are two vehicles set to swoop down like vultures. The poor driver who must pull out of the spot has a serious dilemma: which way to go? One or the other of the waiting drivers must be disappointed, only to drive off angrily, perhaps offering the middle finger salute. Definitely not showing proper holiday spirit! (More like the gunfight at Okay Corral)Drivers keep cruising, ready to dive like kamikaze pilots when they find a likely target--barely avoiding fender benders--a holiday miracle in itself. No matter how many spaces exist, there are never enough.

Another technique involves following those who are leaving. Sometimes these shoppers are merely putting away their packages and return to the Mall for further exploration. Then there is the individual, fully aware someone is waiting for his/her parking spot, who decides this is a good time to sit and light up a cigarette, fiddle with the car radio, or begin a philosophical discussion on the meaning of life with someone they've conjured on a cell phone.

Most amazing of all are those who decide to grab the closest parking spot. I'm talking here about nabbing the spaces set aside for the handicapped. These artists fall into several categories. First are those who have no physical impediment whatsoever but park illegally because they don't want to continue cruising. We have no trouble spotting them as they run out when the police start ticketing. The second category: those who somehow obtained handicapped stickers yet can move like gazelles, either had some impediment but are over it and kept their stickers, or obtained them illegally in the first place. There seem to be a growing number of these talented artists who we may refer to as prima donnas.

With so many people claiming the right to place handicapped stickers in their automobiles, I am waiting for the time when non-handicapped signs will be issued instead.

After managing to obtain a parking spot and reaching the Promised Land of the Mall, we are greeted by a chorus of Hallelujah from the sound system. Unfortunately, by this time, we are almost too weary to shop.

When Chanukah and Christmas come and all the gifts are finally handed out, matters are not in the least resolved, as a good portion of those gifts will end up being returned soon after. (The heaviest shopping day of the entire year is December 26th) So just when we think our holiday shopping is finally done, it's only just begun!

Then there's the matter of re-gifting. That's the most bizarre ritual of all. This refers to presents that don't come with any clue as to where they were purchased. Even Sherlock Holmes would scratch his head in perplexity.

These are gifts that no one in their right mind would want to keep: purple plaid socks, perfume that would make a skunk turn up its tail in disgust. Well, you get the picture! So what does one do with such odious presents? Naturally, we save them and give them to those who have given us their re-gifts. You know you've gone full cycle when one of your re-gifts is gifted back to you.

So how do we avoid mall madness? More people than ever are turning to online shopping. A good friend told me the other day that she has neither the time nor the health to shop other than via the internet. So what are good gifts that won’t put you in hock for the rest of the year and can be purchased conveniently?

I would like to suggest that books are excellent gifts to give. You don’t have to run around. You can make your selections in comfort. And you don’t have to spend your life savings. There’s a perfect book for everyone, whether a bestseller or something from an unknown author. There are a multitude of useful nonfiction titles: perhaps a cookbook, a book on home repairs, or history. Fiction provides many choices such as romance, mystery, or thriller. Children’s books are more appealing than ever.

Naturally I’m going to recommend my backlist as well as my current book THE BURNING which I believe is a good choice for both male and female readers. It combines fiction with nonfiction and is available in both print and ALL e-book formats. 

You can check it out here:

What are your feelings regarding holiday shopping? Do you shop online or prefer to shop in person?  Do you give books as gifts? Do you consider books good gifts? What books would you like to recommend, either your own or those of others? Thoughts and comments most welcome!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Is Our Love Affair With Digital Over?

In a recent Opinion piece in The New York Times Sunday edition, David Sax wrote that “Our Love Affair With Digital Is Over”. He goes on to observe that: “Sales of old-fashioned print books 
are up for three years in a row, according to the Association of American Book Publishers, while ebook sales have been 

Angela Hoy, publisher of, made a similar observation in a recent newsletter but concluded:
“Authors need to offer both electronic and print editions 
to their readers to attract the largest readership.” 
Sax ends his Times article by acknowledging that 
we do not have to make a simple choice between 
digital and analog but rather need to balance the two. 
I personally prefer reading print books. However, I read many digital books as well. As a writer, I am not happy unless my work appears both in print and digital editions.

Purchasing hardcover books can be expensive. These days, I generally borrow them from the library. One of the benefits of digital books is that they are so much lower in cost. Also, they are convenient to use on devices.

In addition, there’s the matter of space. Unless you have a large house, bookcases can become overcrowded and your living space becomes cluttered with print editions. When we downsized from a house to an apartment, I was forced to give away several thousand print books. It was painful.

As a writer, I am pleased that many of my more recent books are also available as e-books that are low in price. Current example: THE BURNING which is available both in print and all e-book formats.

What is your opinion? Do you prefer print over digital books? Do you like them equally well? Which are you inclined to purchase?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway for THE BURNING by Jacqueline Seewald

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. I look forward to
spending time with my family, children and grandchildren.
In the spirit of the holiday, my publisher is offering a gift.

Annorlunda Books is sponsoring a giveaway of a print copy of my latest work, THE BURNING, on Goodreads. (The giveaway ends on November 25th.)

You can register for it at:

This novella is a perfect choice for holiday reading and is available in print and all e-book formats.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And now it’s time for me to start my shopping for the holiday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book Giveaway Winners Announced

Last week, I offered a free copy of my novella THE BURNING in celebration of this new publication. Today I’m announcing that two readers have been selected as winners. They are:

Betty Gordon

Susan Coryell

Good news for readers! The publisher, Annorlunda Books, will soon be offering a giveaway of THE BURNING via Goodreads beginning at the end of this week.

You can check out reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

THE BURNING: Publication Announcement and Giveaway

It gives me great pleasure to announce that today, November 8th 2017, THE BURNING is officially published by Annorlunda Books. To celebrate, I’ll be giving away a print or digital copy of this new release as preferred.

Drop a comment here if you want to be entered for a copy, and include an e-mail address for contact. A giveaway winner will be chosen at random in one week.

The Burning is based on a play I wrote that won the Playhouse 22 Playwrights Award (in the late 1980’s) and was performed on stage.

THE BURNING is faction--part fact, part fiction, about what happens to a family in Pennsylvania as the result of a coal fire burning under the town. Members of the Ferris family face his or her personal hell, barely coming through it alive, forced to acknowledge painful truths. It’s based on real events that occurred in Centralia. Unfortunately, such problems continue to plague coal-mining communities in different places. And there are no easy answers.

The publisher has provided this novella with the following blurb:

George Ferris has worked hard to make a good life for himself and his family without going into the coal mines that shortened his father’s life. Now, a slow-moving catastrophe is threatening to take it all away. How far will he go to protect everything he has worked for? And will he realize what really matters before it is too late? Inspired by true events.
Here is a brief excerpt from the novella:

George drove home on autopilot, detached, barely aware of his surroundings. The talk with Baines kept turning over in his head. He’d worked so hard for so many years to provide a good life for his family. Was that going to end now? The whole thing seemed crazy. Could some underground fire wreck his life and that of his family? He shook his head, refusing to accept this as inevitable.
The living room of George Ferris’s house usually offered a refuge, but he didn’t want to walk inside yet. Instead he stood in the front hallway praying for composure while silently lurking. He could see Amy was sitting on the sofa attentively reading a book, feet tucked under her.
Every so often, she coughed. Liz came into the room. She was dressed in brown slacks and a casual cream-colored blouse. He admired how beautiful his wife was. With her natural good looks, she wore very little make-up and didn’t need it. George was reminded of how much he loved her. Liz was the real deal. What would this news do to her? She deserved so much better in life. For a few minutes, he watched Liz straightening up the room, but then she stopped to listen to Amy’s recurring cough.

THE BURNING is now available both in print and as an e-book. Check out the details from the publisher at: 


Thanks for dropping by! Comments welcome.