Lorna Landvik's Blog

August 27, 2012

This is the prologue of my newly-published book, MAYOR OF THE UNIVERSE. It's a book filled with wonder and mystery, hope and laughs. And there may be a few unexpected characters from unexpected places. I hope it tantalizes you to read more (it's available on Amazon.com).

Prologue

In the desolation of a South Dakota field whose shorn wheat stubble poked through a lather of new snow, a boy in a maroon corduroy jacket danced. A bitter wind snatched at the music playing on the
transistor radio held in his mittened hand, but still the boy shook his shoulders and swiveled his hips; a trillion stars his nightclub ceiling, the full moon his spotlight.
“Ladies, ladies, please, no fighting,” he said, his boots raising tiny white clouds. “You’ll all get your chance.”
With studied cool, he flicked up his matted fake shearling collar and jumped into the air, bouncing to the ground in a half-split. He was James Brown then, urging his hordes of fans to “tighten up!” while his furious footwork generated heat that scorched the snow. He was Elvis Presley, whose teasing pelvic thrusts and wobbly knees caused multiple swooning. He was — his mitten rode up and he saw the face of his watch glint in the moonlight — he was Fletcher Weschel, and he was late.
“Ladies, please!” he said, batting away the keys and underpants and love notes thrown at him as he ran toward the Ford Galaxy he had just that day been licensed to drive. Before opening the door of the idling car, he tipped the brim of his plaid wool hat and pointed to a lovely redhead. “Now you, Ann Margret — I’ll see you in Vegas.”
Even though the roads were empty in all directions, he turned on his blinker to indicate his merge into traffic and cautiously steered the car back toward town, and where there had once been music and danc- ing and adoration and sexual conquest, there was now only the wind blowing across a winter wheat field, and underneath its cold whistle, laughter.
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Published on August 27, 2012 23:16 • 345 views

August 1, 2012

Although this reporter loves the thrills and chills of competition, she always enjoys stepping away to interview the Writer Olympic’s biggest fans.
Larry Norby, a tool-and-die maker from Akron, Ohio has been coming to the games since he graduated high school in 1976.
“Which by the way, was a big thing for me,” he said, as we enjoyed a pint of Guinness at The Scribe, a cozy little pub near Hyde Park. “They didn’t expect much from kids raised in St. Dudley’s Home for Wayward Boys.”
“You were wayward?”
Larry tipped back his head and let loose a laugh that trembled the tin chandelier.
“I prefer the word ‘ingenious.’ I was attracted to cars I didn’t have the title to. Oops – there I go, ending a sentence with a preposition – that would have been worth an early disqualification in today’s grammar heat!”
“You know, there are other Olympic games going on just a few miles from here -- how’d you come to be such a fan of the writer ones?”
“Dickens was my Michael Phelps!” said the burly tool-and-die man. “Flannery O’Conner was my Misty May-Treanor! The people who inspired me in that miserable reformatory were the people who wrote ‘A Tale of Two Cities! ‘Wise Blood!’ ‘Mrs. Mike!’”
“’Mrs. Mike?’”
“It was my social worker’s favorite book and when I read it –“ here a glint of tears appeared in Larry’s eyes – “I was a Royal Canadian Mountie riding a horse across the provinces. I was a firefighter! Whatever trouble was thrown at me, I wrestled it back!”
We raised our pints in a toast to all that books can be.
Then a raucous group including J.K. Rowling and David Sedaris tumbled into the pub and another party was started.
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Published on August 01, 2012 09:21 • 101 views

July 31, 2012

The only event that requires a modicum of athleticism, ‘Poetry in Motion’ is always a hot ticket item. Rules are simple: judges select (always oddly, sometimes perversely) a sport and opponent for the participating poet. While in the throes of competition, the poet is then required to recite one of his/her poems. Points are given for fluidity of words matching movement, as well as not passing out.
Who can forget the 1960 spectacle of Alan Ginsburg shouting his ‘Howl!’ while locked in a brutal game of table tennis against Mamie Eisenhower? And why didn’t anyone think to film the beautifully tortured event that occurred four years later, when the 82-year-old Carl Sandburg got into the boxing ring with Mohammad Ali and recited a ‘A Father to His Son’ between bolo punches and right jabs?
The gold medal today went to Maya Angelou, for her stunning recitation of ‘Phenomenal Woman,’ while synchronize-diving with Justin Bieber. The judges agreed that Mr. Bieber’s belly flops added a compelling, yet wistful percussion to the booming voice of Ms. Angelou echoing through the aquatic center.
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Published on July 31, 2012 08:42 • 73 views

July 30, 2012

The arena today was standing-room-only for the ever-popular ‘Mixed Genre Writing,’ which pairs disparate writers who must write the first sentence of a book encompassing their merged genres.
Chef and writer Anthony Bourdain joined forces with Sophie Kinsella to create a genre they called ‘Chick Food.’ Their first sentence ‘Sure, seeds aren’t the first thing a girl has on her shopping list, but trust me, roasted pumpkin seeds scattered throughout an arugula salad garnishing a flank steak will be sure to snare your man,” was a valiant effort but did not put them in medal contention.
What did however, was the combined effort of science writer Stephen Hawking, who partnered with children’s book writer, Jeff Kinney. Their genre: ‘Cartoon Science’ drew scattered applause as did their book title, ‘A Brief History of a Wimpy Kid.’ It was their first sentence, however, combined with a stick-figure drawing that upped their score: “Becky Johnson, who’s only the cutest girl that ever lived, looked at me like I had originated from primordial ooze, which I suppose, if I was carbon-tested or something, I was.”
In the end, the gold was won by ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ author E. L. James and Beverly Lewis, whose romance books are set in Lancaster County. They quickly named their new category ‘Amish Erotica’ and got a hearty round of applause as their first sentence appeared on the Jumbotron: “The buggy rocked.”
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Published on July 30, 2012 09:32 • 71 views

July 29, 2012

In the ‘First Line of A Crime Thriller’ challenge, competitors were given the words ‘cinnamon bun,’ ‘acne medicine’ and ‘stub.’ This event is judged on both speed and artistic expression and as expected, American Carl Hiaasen finished first, composing the following sentence in just 20.4 seconds:
'Stub injected the acne medicine – as lethal to the respiratory system as it was to pimples – into the warm cinnamon bun he was about to bring up to his invalid brother, Stump.'
At 25.9 seconds, Norwegian Karin Fossum brought in this entry, which was applauded by Judge Elmore Leonard for its ‘tease and foreboding.’
'The finger stub, a bleeding candle stuck in the center of the cinnamon bun, caused the pockmarked Inspector to take a swig of his acne medicine, liberally laced with aquavit.'
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Published on July 29, 2012 11:20 • 84 views

July 28, 2012

In the first day of the Writing Olympics, Stephen King is favored to win the gold in the Word Count Sprint, already having written 13 pages in a quarter of an hour. After a struggle with the treacherous 'Seven Page Hump,' James Patterson looks to be closing in on a silver medal. Nora Roberts appears to have sprinted too quickly through her first thousand words and was rushed off her keyboard and treated for blistered fingertips.

Oh, the drama, the glory, the pageantry of competitive literature!
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Published on July 28, 2012 16:10 • 96 views

July 19, 2012

I am not the sort of disciplined writer who has a specific time set aside to write. The day that I’m at my computer as soon as I wake up is a day that hasn’t come. Many writers seize the day when it’s still in its infancy; I seize it mid-afternoon, when it’s a teenager, or late at night, when it’s a senior citizen looking for its slippers.
But this is one thing I’ve learned as a writer: whatever works for you works for you. The compulsion to tell a story needs no rules other than the rules that help get the story told. Some writers play mood music. Some like to chant affirmations: “Today I will work on my novel that will win the Nobel prize and sell 3 billion copies – in hardcover.” Some program their coffee maker to produce a pot of Bolivian dark roast at dawn. Others open their freezer, where they’ve been chilling a bottle of gin.
But if none of those rituals get you to that computer or legal pad or embossed journal, find your own. Sing “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones, or “Happy Trails” by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Rub your palms together until they’re hot. Stand in ‘Tree Pose.’ Sit outside a bakery and inhale. Walk your dog. Then tell the story you want to tell.
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Published on July 19, 2012 21:36 • 91 views

July 15, 2012

When I was twenty-three and living in Hollywood, I went to a fortune-teller for the first and only time. I was waiting for her to confirm a big show-biz career as my right and natural destiny, but as she squinted at the topography of my palm, she asked, “Are you a writer?”
I considered myself as much a writer as performer, but as long as I was in Hollywood, I figured I might as well concentrate on giving Meryl Streep a run for her money.
“Well, yes, but I also act and I was wondering --
-- “Let me tell you this. If I could, I’d lock you in a closet and force you to write. You are going to have a very successful career as a writer. A huge career writing . . . in science fiction.”
“Science fiction! I hardly ever even read science fiction.”
She gave me a look that combined scorn with pity. “I’m not saying you have to read it. I’m seeing that you’ll write it.”
And maybe I have, seeing that Fletcher Weschel, the hero of my novel, MAYOR OF THE UNIVERSE, happens to have a little run-in with aliens. Not those from across borders of land or oceans, but alien aliens, from across borders of time and space. But if I were In charge of categorizing this book, I’d say it’s a story about the ordinary meeting the extra-ordinary, and how often the two really are indistinguishable from one another.
The book will be available at Amazon and you can also order it at your local bookstore; it will also be sold as an E-book.
I’m really excited...and a wee bit petrified.
P.S. You can read more about how MAYOR OF THE UNIVERSE came into beinG on my blog at LornaLandvik.com.
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Published on July 15, 2012 15:53 • 281 views

July 5, 2012

Despite reading and re-reading the article in today’s paper about the ‘God Particle,’ I’m still left wondering, ‘huh?’
“The Higgs boson is a hypothesized elementary particle that, if confirmed, would provide the mechanism by which the other elementary particles in the universe have mass. “ Okay…
At the Science Fair, I’m the kid who’d earn the ‘Thanks for Participating’ ribbon. I understand quirks, not quarks; pronouns, not protons. When I hear the word ‘particle,’ I think of lint. I avoid Repulsive Gravity by not looking in mirrors.
But even though my comprehension of physics might not register on any measurable scale, I’m still excited. Excited that there are minds that can make the kinds of discoveries that utterly and absolutely baffle my own.
My new novel, MAYOR OF THE UNIVERSE is about the mysteries that can’t be explained, but can be felt.
It’ll be available as an E-book next week and later you can order a print version. Fasten your seatbelts.
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Published on July 05, 2012 10:15 • 294 views

June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury, who died today, once said, "What I have always been is a hybrid author. I am completely in love with movies, and I am completely in love with theater, and I am completely in love with libraries."
His great curiosity, expansiveness and playfulness
informed a great body of work. RIP, Mr. Bradbury.
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Published on June 06, 2012 09:11 • 68 views