“It felt like an ordinary day on campus when the bridge appeared out of nowhere.”

So starts the message from Elizabeth’s dead boyfriend.

He was a victim, caught in the crossfire between two artificial intelligences that learned to perform sorcery and magic. Elizabeth wants to escape the crossfire. But she–and the world’s survivors–may have no way out. Or at least, no ordinary way out.

My science fiction story, The Bridge Between, is available now on Kindle Vella. Read it here.

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Kindle Vella—stories told one short episode at a time—is  a new reader experience from Amazon.com. The first few episodes of every story are always free. After that, purchase Tokens and redeem them to unlock episodes. To get you started, Amazon gives 200 tokens free with your first Vella experience.

I’m proud to be one of the hundreds of authors published on Kindle Vella. You can find every genre: romance, fantasy, thriller, science fiction and more. So consider checking it out.

You can read all six episodes of The Bridge Between by clicking here. Thanks—and if you like it, please remember to give the story a thumbs up so other readers can find it too.

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Kindle Vella–a new reader experience for serial fiction.

Amazon.com’s Kindle Vella is launching to the public in July. It features serialized fiction (i.e., read on the subway or whenever you have a short break). Many genres, many authors. And, don’t forget to look for my new sci-fi mystery.

An Interview With Ted

…plus information about writing that goes back to ancient Greece: Ekphrasis.

Possibly the oldest form of writing about art is known as ekphrasis. I am excited and pleased that The Ekphrastic Review published an interview with me about my book, Vincent, Theo and the Fox, which is inspired by the paintings of Vincent van Gogh.

You can read the interview here.

Carol Scheina, the interviewer, is a marvelous writer. You can find links to her imaginative and delightful stories here.

If you want to find excellent ekphrastic poems and stories (as well as podcasts and writing challenges), consider subscribing to The Ekphrastic Review.

For people interested in the craft of writing, you can’t go wrong reading The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art-Influenced Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction by Janée J. Baugher.

Professor Marjorie Munsterberg created a website, Writing About Art, for her course of the same name at The City College of New York. You can read what she writes about ekphrasis here.

I’m sure your favorite search engine will reveal more. But first, if you haven’t already done so, please read the interview (it is about me, after all).

Thanks.

Ted

Georgia on my mind

Here is a wonderful little video of Georgia O’Keefe’s work.

Thanks to The Ekphrastic Review for alerting me to this video.

I came to really appreciate her paintings about six years ago when visiting the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

Thirty is never enough, so here are three more of her paintings that are among my favorites:

Book Holiday

No, not a break from books, but holiday gifts for the book lovers in your life.

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You know it’s going to happen. You’re at a party or meeting with one or more writers and someone will have a literary-themed tee shirt or tote. Not just any tee or tote but a really cool item. Like me, you may have a frisson of jealousy. 

Here’s an opportunity to be better than that. Obvious State is one of the companies where you can buy these really cool objects of identity. They’re not paying me — I stumbled on their website and said to myself, “Ted, you have to share.” The image above is theirs. 

Here are two more examples from the firm’s website: a poster for the Shakespeare lovers among us (with a quote about fools) and a tote for those who wish to accessorize with Jane Austen.

Obvious State has a lot of items book lovers might like.  

Having stumbled across one company, I quickly figured there had to be other firms like them. (Us writers are smart, know how to research things. Right?)  

Sure enough, searching for “literary gifts” on the world’s most ubiquitous search engine revealed… The Literary Gift Company. (Did you ever have that brought-down-to-earth feeling? What did Shakespeare say about fools?) 

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The Literary Gift Company is not paying me and is also cool. One of my favorite categories on their website is socks.  If you love Sherlock Holmes or The Little Prince, go for it.

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Keep someone’s feet warm. And Happy Holidays.

Ted Macaluso writes books for kids that make art more fun. His book, Vincent, Theo and the Fox, is a fictional adventure about the young Vincent van Gogh that teaches about growing up and learning from failure (for ages 4 – 10). He lives in Reston, Virginia with his wife, son, and kind hearted dog. Find out more at tedmacaluso.com.

Text © 2018 by Ted Macaluso.

Know Your Spaceships — But Think Big

Science fiction has generated lots of spaceships. Whether you’re primarily an author or fan, it helps to know them.

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Elizabeth Howell, writing at Space.com, put together a list entitled The 25 Greatest Spaceships of Science Fiction. It has the can’t-do-without classics, such as the Millennium Falcon, the USS Enterprise series, Doctor Who’s TARDIS, the Battlestar Galactica, and–my personal favorite– the Rocinante.

It’s a great list. But it stops with star ships, which are really quite small. The biggest ship on her list is the mothership from the movie Independence Day, which comes in at over 300 miles long.

51zn0RcEtnL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_Two masters of science fiction, Gregory Benford and Larry Niven, think way way bigger. In their book, Bowl of Heaven, and its sequel, ShipStar, they envision a species that turns a star into a ship to travel through the universe. Humans on an interstellar voyage encounter a bowl-shaped artifact that half envelopes a star. Mysteriously, the star is heading toward the humans’ destination. The bowl has a habitable area bigger than a million earths. The humans land and…OMG.51gcohxevul-_sx304_bo1204203200_

 

Can’t think bigger than that! The books are great reads and an essential addition to your list of space ships

 

Full disclosure: if you click on a book and then decide to buy it, Amazon gives me a few pennies. Your cost is the same whether you buy here or some other way. (This is why Jeff Bezos is as rich as a shipstar is big.)

 

Text © 2018 by Ted Macaluso.

The Harvest and The Story

Vincent van Gogh’s The Harvest at La Crau is the painting that inspired Vincent, Theo and the Fox. Here we learn more about the painting and how it led to a children’s tale about growing up.

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During the time he lived in Provence, van Gogh braved the heat of the day and went out numerous times to paint the glorious countryside. He  completed The Harvest at La Crau, with Montmajour in the Background in June of 1888.

If ever a painting captured the beauty of a summer day in the country, this one is it. The color scheme is particularly appropriate, with a blue sky, blue carts, and blue sides of barns  encircled by the orange of the foreground, the wheat stack and the roofs of houses. These elements highlight the almost luminescent gold of the wheat that dominates the image. The brilliant red wagon wheels in the middle right of the picture draw the eye on a line leading back to the white Abbey of Montmajour in the far background of the upper left. Van Gogh was fascinated with the Abbey, visiting it at least 50 times.

Wheat fields are a subject for many of van Gogh’s paintings and can be seen as metaphors for humanity’s cycles of life. Which brings us to children and growing up. How did this painting inspire Vincent, Theo and the Fox? Here is the story behind the story.

To get my son to go on exercise walks with me I would tell him stories. They were simple action tales: Suddenly, a monster…Bam, a hero…Wham another monster. And then one day a real monster struck: Mark had a series of lung infections and several times a day had to sit still for twenty minutes breathing through a nebulizer. Not what an active 5 year old boy wants to do! Just before one of these episodes his grandmother was visiting and we had all gone to the National Gallery of Art to see an exhibit of van Gogh’s paintings. She bought the exhibit catalog, Van Gogh’s Van Goghs: Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam by Richard Kendall with contributions by John Leighton and Sjraar van Heugten. One afternoon when Mark was being nebulized, he asked me to tell a story. I did not have it in me. He pointed to the catalog saying, “Read me the story.” I tried to explain, “It’s not a story.” Neither he nor Grandma would let me off easy. I had to “read” the catalog to him.

What to do? An art catalog is not a wham, bam action tale. I opened it at random and it showed The Harvest at La Crau. I thought to myself, “OK, Vincent has to be a boy to make this interesting…but what is he doing?” I surprised myself by saying, “One day, when he was a boy, Vincent van Gogh and his brother, Theo, were looking at the harvest when they saw a fox sneak into the cart.” That picture and that idea became the start of Vincent, Theo and the Fox. Vincent and Theo chased the fox through a bunch of van Gogh’s paintings until the nebulizer was done. At that point, the fox got away and the boys went home.

The tale kept Mark engaged but it was not really a story yet. I knew it needed more. I asked myself, “What do boys do?” The answer, of course, is that they grow up. And while they grow up they wonder what they will become. We all know that van Gogh became a painter, but he didn’t go there directly, trying a number of different jobs first. So as a boy in a story there is wonder and mystery when Vincent thinks about growing up. I came up with the idea that the fox was young too—he was also trying to grow up and find his way in the world. And that, I believe, is what makes Vincent, Theo and the Fox a delightful tale. We have two boys and a fox thinking about growing up and through their actions teaching each other about life. The writer, Susan Sontag, writes that “art is not only about something, it is something.” By this, she means that art isn’t like science or history, it doesn’t teach you facts you should know. Rather, literature gives readers an experience from which they learn and take their own lessons. I like to think that Vincent, Theo and the Fox achieves this: it does not teach about growing up, it lets readers learn about it.

Because the art is beautiful and chase tales are exciting, young readers don’t “get” what they are experiencing until it is over. But my hope is that the story stays with children and they learn while they process the experience of the story. Because the book gives a biography of van Gogh in an epilogue, children learn about van Gogh while processing the experience of the story. I think this really engages them in van Gogh’s art and gives the story more depth.

What do you think about the story? What do your children get from it? If you want to leave comments I will read them with interest.

Thanks, Ted Macaluso

Ted Macaluso writes books for kids that make art more fun. His book, Vincent, Theo and the Fox, is a fictional adventure about the young Vincent van Gogh that teaches about growing up and learning from failure (for ages 4 – 10). He lives in Reston, Virginia with his wife, son, and kind hearted dog. Find out more at tedmacaluso.com.

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© 2016 by Ted Macaluso. All Rights Reserved.