Saturday, December 21, 2013


Dear Friends and fellow writers,

This blog, The Joy of Story, is taking the rest of the year off. I'll be back Saturday, January 4. Until then…

I wish you all a Happy Solstice, welcoming back the warming sun.

May you all have a Merry Yuletide, however you choose to celebrate.

And may your New Year's Resolutions include a promise to keep writing as much and as well as you can. That way you'll surely find pleasure and success in the joyful art of storytelling.

John M. Daniel

Saturday, December 14, 2013

James R. Callan Finds Joy in Writing

This week I am especially pleased to have as my guest James R. Callan, a talented and successful writer who, as you’ll read below, takes great joy in his writing. He also takes pleasure in supporting other writers, a whole posse of them, acting as coordinator and host for spreading news and views via email and blog posts. Let’s hear what Jim has to say about the joy of writing.

The joy of writing for me is twofold. 

When I write a paragraph or scene that can bring tears to my eyes or cause me to laugh out loud, even when I read it for the tenth or fifteenth time, then I not only know why I sit and write, but I know the true joy of writing.  I can know I have created a work of art.  No, it’s not a painting.  It’s not a sculpture, nor a piece of music.  But it is art as surely as a Monet is, or a variation by Rachmaninoff is.  It has stirred an emotion which is greater than the actual piece itself.

It brings to mind a quote from a play by Edmond Rostand, written in 1897.  The play is Cyrano de Bergerac.  The play is based on a real Cyrano de Bergerac. In the play, Cyrano is a character bigger than life.  He is an incredible swordsman, soldier, friend, and writer.  In the play, the Count De Guiche’s tells Cyrano he could garner the favor of some higher official and profit financially from his writing. Cyrano replies, “When I have made a line that sings itself, so that I love the sound of it, I pay myself a hundred times.” Cyrano knew the joy of writing.

The finished written word should be the real joy of writing.

The second part is the satisfaction of creating a plot and characters that work together, that blend smoothly, that give the reader great satisfaction when finished with the book. It is not sufficient to have a great plot or to have great characters.  You need those two parts to fit so well that a reader will not be able to think of one without the other.  You have created a project that is as smooth and finished as Michelangelo’s statue of David.

Neither of these two parts is easy to achieve.  But then, the struggle to produce the paragraph, the scene, the polished book makes the joy of success even more intense.  And when I achieve one or both of these, I have found the true joy of writing and I do, indeed, pay myself a hundred times.

I have no doubt that James R. Callan took great joy from the writing of his newest success:

A Ton of Gold
A contemporary suspense novel

Can long forgotten, old folk tales affect the lives of people today? In A Ton of Gold, one certainly affected young, brilliant Crystal Moore.  Two people are killed, others threatened, a house burned and an office fire-bombed – all because of an old folk tale, greed and ignorance. 

On top of that, the man who nearly destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back.  This time he can put an end to her career.  She’ll need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, her streetwise housemate and her feisty 76-year-old grandmother.

That sounds great, doesn’t it? Check out this excerpt:

Chapter 2

Crystal Moore’s eyes shot wide open and she sat bolt upright. Disconnected pictures, all bleak, flashed in Crystal’s mind, as a chill descended over her. “Tried to kill you!” Her voice almost failed her. Her chest felt like something was crushing it. She could feel her blood pulsing in her veins. “Are you Okay?”
“I’m fine.”
“Where are you?”
“Home. Where else would I be?”
In the hospital. “What happened?”
“Some fool tried to run me off the road.”
Crystal’s back relaxed slightly. "Nana, I don’t think he was trying to kill you."
"Were you here?"
Crystal reminded herself that this was her grandmother, her only living relative. "Okay. Tell me what happened."
"Well, I was going to town. And some redneck tried to run me off the road. Clear as could be. Meant to kill me!"
Crystal rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. She worried about her grandmother driving, or living alone, for that matter. At seventy-six, reactions slowed. Maybe her grandmother shouldn't be driving at all.
"Every week somebody tries to run me off the road while I'm driving to work. He just wasn't paying attention, that's all."
"That dog won't hunt! I was paying attention. I saw him. He looked right at me, then pulled over in my lane. I could see it in his eyes. He intended to run me right off the road—or hit me head-on. He cotton-pickin' meant to kill me."
"Did you call the police?"
"What for? They'd give me the same routine you are."
Crystal took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "What do you want me to do, Nana?"
"Nothing. Nothing you can do."
Crystal struggled to keep her voice as neutral as possible. She dearly loved her grandmother but Nana could be difficult sometimes. She saw the world very clearly, with seldom a doubt on how to interpret it. "Then why did you call me? Just to worry me?"
"No.” Crystal detected a trace of hurt feelings in her grandmother’s voice. "Because I wanted you to know somebody's trying to kill me. And if I die under questionable circumstances, I want you to tell the police it was murder. And make sure they do something. You know how old Billy Goat is. If you don't stick his nose in it, he can't find—"
"Nana!” Crystal cut her off. "Bill Glothe's been the sheriff for ten years——and your friend a lot longer than that."
"Ugly truck. One of those, ah, what-cha-ma-callits. Ah, four-by-fours. Big as a dump truck. Puce."
"Puce? They don't make puce-colored cars."
"Well, maybe he painted it, I don't know. Looked puce to me."
"Are you Okay? Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Yes and no. I'm fine and there's nothing you can do. Just remember what I told you. Anything happens, get Billy Goat on it."

A Ton of Gold
By James R. Callan
From Oak Tree Press,  2013

On Amazon, in paperback, at: 
Or the Kindle edition at:           
Or from Oak Tree Press at: 

Brief Bio of James R. Callan

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mysteries, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.

Blog site:        
Book website:        
Amazon Author page:
Twitter:                           @jamesrcallan

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Greetings, readers and writers! And Happy New Year! May auld acquaintance be remembered and turned into great stories.
This week, as I do on each first Saturday of the month, I present 99-word stories sent to me by writers from all over. That includes you, I hope. All writers are welcome, and all submissions will be accepted (unless I find a story offensive, but I’m broad-minded.) There are a few rules to follow, and they’re presented at the end of this post.
This month’s theme is “The Gift,” and I urged contributors to include irony in their stories. I received three stories answering the challenge, and they’re presented below.

Because there are only three stories this month, I have some extra space to fill, and so I’m going to insert here a commercial!

Looking for an entertaining book to put on your New Year’s reading list? I not-so-humbly recommend Hooperman:A Bookstore Mystery. Yes, I wrote it, and yes, you’ll like it! Publishers Weekly says (in a starred review!): “Pleasant and unusually good-natured, this novel from Daniel harkens back to a time when printed books mattered.” For more information about Hooperman:A Bookstore Mystery, see

And now, as promised, here are three stories contributed by writers of the 99 Society.


by Jerry Giammatteo

It was our annual Holiday grab bag at the office. Three items remained when my name was picked. I selected the largest package and opened it.
I stared at it. What was it? It looked like an ugly bed quilt with a pocket. Obviously, a re-gift or something buried deep in someone’s closet.
“What is it?” somebody shouted out. I shrugged.
I brought it home. My wife asked what it was. I shrugged again
The ratty thing is long gone, but we found a use for it as a beach blanket. It was hideous, yet it served a purpose.


by Joseph M. Bonelli

Christmas Eve dinner was tradition at my paternal grandparent’s home.
Grandpa was thought to have more wealth than people knew.
He hinted about gifts to Dad, who alerted his three sons.
Mom said, “Don’t expect too much.”
After dinner Grandpa passed an envelope to each of us and wanted my father to open his first. A penny was taped inside Dad’s Christmas card.
I had two pennies; the middle grandchild had three, and the youngest, four cents.
My grandfather left the room and returned with a bowed hanger, bearing a new fur coat for Mom, his daughter-in-law.
“Merry Christmas.”


by Christine Viscuso

Dr. Berman removed his mask as he stepped from the operating theatre. “Detective. What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for you. How is he?”
“He’ll live.”
“It took you fifteen hours to save that crumb’s life. You gave him life for Christmas. He killed twenty-five kids, plus ten adults. He killed a cop before trying to end his miserable life. We’ll take it back; bet on it.”
The doctor shrugged. “It’s not for me to decide. I took an oath.”
“To you, making people whole is a challenge. Were you aware that your son died in that carnage?”


Attention all writers—
Next month’s prompt: “They’re Gone!” What do I mean by those two words? You tell me. No. You show me in a story. I insist that your story be fiction, and you show me that you have a wild imagination!

Here are the rules:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot, characters, and conflict.
4. The deadline: the first of the month.
5. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to:

One more request. This time, whether or not you send me a story, please send me one (1) word. Any word. I’m collecting words, your words, for next month’s assignment.