August 13: At the West Linn Book Festival I met some great writers. One of them is Rosanna Mattingly, a scientist and former beekeeper, who has written the definitive book on bees. If you have even the slightest interest, you will be amazed by Honey-Maker: How the Honey Bee Does Her Work. Today she said of bees, “We will never know all there is to know about them.”
Another great writer I met is Sharon Streeter, currently writing under a pen name I dare not reveal. Here she is looking through Sisyphus Shrugged before buying The Recovery and Mister Negative and Other Stories. I really loved these two sweet ladies.
July 18: I will be appearing at the West Linn Book Festival on August 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 21890 Willamette Drive, West Linn, OR 97068. Come by, see what local authors are writing, and have a great time!
June: I had a great time at the June 3 author fair and even sold some books! Thanks to all who came and supported local authors. A photo of me at the fair is now one of the site backgrounds.
April: APPEARANCE ANNOUNCEMENT: I will be appearing at the Oregon City Public Library’s 2017 Local Author Fair, sitting at a table, selling and signing books! Please join me if you are in the area!
The Fair will take place on June 3, 2017, in the Oregon City Public Library’s Community Room:
Oregon City Public Library
606 John Adams
Oregon City OR 97045
The Fair will begin at 12:00 p.m. and end at 3:00 p.m.
Money’s Men is still under publisher review. I hope for release soon!
December: final edits are being made on Money’s Men, which will be released soon after almost 4 years of work!
September 23: a university professor is considering teaching Sisyphus Shrugged. He may decide against, but it is an honor just to be nominated. It really is!
August 30: Spent the day creating covers for my next two books!
August 22: Learned the West Linn Library now has three of my books on its shelves: The Recovery, Mister Negative and Other Stories, and Sisyphus Shrugged. Two of them on the shelf:
Thanks to librarian and author Cheryl Hill for her support.
August 22: Took character photos of Silke Schäuble for Money’s Men. My favorite result:
June 1: Finished and sent to beta readers with an August 1 deadline. Boy, it feels great after three years! Final edits after they make suggestions.
May 27: Money’s Men editing is up to page 500! Only 10 more pages of the story to go!
May 21: Money’s Men editing is up to page 491.
May 14: Money’s Men editing is up to page 480. Feeling better. Now it’s just the move slowing me down.
May 6: Money’s Men editing is up to page 471. It’s been slow going due to illness and my family moving.
April 24: Money’s Men editing is up to page 467.
April 22: saw Heather Nova at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, California.
April 17: Money’s Men editing is up to page 461.
April 15: saw Heather Nova at the Alberta Rose Theater in Portland, Oregon.
Gave her Mister Negative and Other Stories.
April 6: Money’s Men editing is up to page 442.
March 30: Money’s Men editing is up to page 428.
March 21: Money’s Men editing is up to page 407.
March 13: Money’s Men editing is up to page 373.
March 6: Money’s Men editing is up to page 351.
February 26: Money’s Men editing is up to page 335.
February 22: Money’s Men editing is up to page 316. In the home stretch now!
February 15: Money’s Men editing is up to page 297.
February 7: Money’s Men editing is up to page 285.
January 31: Money’s Men editing is up to page 270.
January 26: Money’s Men editing is up to page 257.
January 24: I wish to announce that I have an official editor, for the first time in my life. Jena Demerly is that rare person who both pays attention and understands my work, catching and pointing out things that even my wonderful wife, Robin, missed when reading it. Jena is spectacular for me, and I am deeply grateful she has agreed to help me help my own work. As an editor myself, I understand the value of editing, and I appreciate finding someone I can trust to do for me what I try to do for others. Thanks, Jena. I hope to work with you for many years.
January 14: last night our eight-year-old daughter appeared for the first time in William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker, as Perkins Girl Sarah, with these five lines: “Don’t go, Annie, away.” “Don’t go, Annie, where the Sun is fierce.” “Don’t go, Annie, to her.” “But then why are you going?” “What?” She did this in front of dozens of adults at the Artists’ Repertory Theater, downtown Portland.
She was wonderful. Pride doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction. I feel lucky to know such an amazing being.
It was the first play to make me cry. The lead actress, the stage manager, the production assistant, and two other actors in the play said Claire was great. I already knew she was, but they were kind to say it. The experience highlighted the powers of writing and performing. What a dream, to have something one creates move others so deeply!
December 27: Money’s Men editing is up to page 222. The finished product will exceed 450 pages, so I’m just about half finished! I am very excited to share this story with the World, after having worked on it for almost three years!
December 26: this week I saw The Force Awakens. I liked it, though it was my least favorite of the Star Wars movies. But there are things to criticize about it. It was mostly action and nostalgia without a compelling new story, and the parts that were compelling (the main characters’ histories) were barely touched on. What we did get was good as far as it went, but I primarily want depth, psychology, and philosophy, not chases, fighting, and explosions. (I know, I’m a weirdo.) Hopefully we’ll get more substance in the next movie.
The lightsaber duel, however, was my favorite in all the Star Wars movies, because it contained both action, emotion, and spontaneity–everything I wanted in one scene.
November 18: as of this week I am on page 170 of editing Money’s Men. I am grateful both for the interest in my sequel to Sisyphus Shrugged and for the patience my readers have shown!
October 9: Apparently at least two different quotation websites are now quoting me. I had nothing to do with this, am surprised by it, and do not mind at all. This is one of the two. Thank you!
August 31: New release! On Writing, which features my first poem, my first story, my two favorite memoir pieces, and my advice for writer’s block. I have set the ebook and paper prices as low as they are allowed to be ($0.99 for ebook and $5.38 for paper). I am very proud of this little release.
However, yesterday I learned that my childhood friend April Doscher, about whom the first of the two memoir pieces was written, passed away earlier this year at the untimely age of 44. I learned this when I tried to contact her to tell her she was in my new book. My joy over my new release was immediately changed to shock and heartbreak. My heart goes out to her loved ones and friends, and now I hope my writing about April will in some way serve as a memorial to her.
July 22: my review of Go Set a Watchman on Amazon.
July 15: released Chapter 1 of Money’s Men, the sequel to Sisyphus Shrugged, on this page: MM Ch. 1
With Bob Cone, inventor of photographic emulsion Liquid Light, used on the World’s largest photograph, who praised Sisyphus Shrugged thus:
“Robert, reading Sisyphus Shrugged and enjoying it greatly, though it scares the hell out of me. Every day, politics gets closer to the reality you project.”
June 9: What is writing? Is it a waste of time? What does it mean to be a writer? What does a writer do?
What is the importance of setting off into the unknown and documenting one’s hesitation, uncertainty, and ignorance? How does this help others? What is aimlessness? Are we doomed to pick directions whether we wish to pick or not?
Do writers deserve any respect whatever? Why would they choose to do this except for some great need? What is that need? Is it universal or individual? Why do I write for readers I will never meet?
Me reading “Neighbors” at Plew’s Brews in North Portland.
Top two photos by Kate Carroll De Gutes.
Bottom photo by Nena Rawdah of St. Johns Booksellers.
“That was demented! I want to get to know some of your other realities.”–Rustin Wright
“Your story was hilarious.”
“You read! Thank you.”
It was a good evening.
“Your reading was funny and creepy at the same time.”–Sylvia Allen
“Your story was funny and timely and creepy, speaking right to some of my greatest frustrations as a parent.”–Nena Rawdah
Two of my books on display at the reading (thanks, Nena!).
May 29: St. Johns Booksellers is a treasure of the Portland independent books and arts community. Sadly the building where the bookstore is housed has suffered some structural damage and the city has closed the store until it is dealt with. Every day that Néna Rawdah is unable to open and sell books is a day the overall life of the store is in jeopardy. Please join us on Friday May 29th at Plew’s Brews (8409 N Lombard St, Portland, OR 97203) for an offbeat evening of experimental music and readings by local authors to support the store.
Evening Performance Schedule:
7-10 PM Readings by Sylvia Allen, Nathan Tompkins, Robert Peate, Martha Shelley, Tommy Gaffney, Julia Laxer, Kate Carroll de Gutes, Josh Lubin, Ross Blanchard, and Brenda Taulbee!
10 PM Reading with Music by the Mighty Jennifer Robin https://myspace.com/writingsofjenniferrobin/music/songs
10:30 PM Dead Air Fresheners https://myspace.com/deadairfresheners/music/songs
11 PM Jeremy C. Long https://jeremylong.bandcamp.com/
11:30 PM Von Helwig https://youtu.be/VPPnystMp8I
Midnight ENJIL https://soundcloud.com/enjil
$5-10 suggested donation, but nobody will be turned away as moral and spiritual support are also gladly accepted. Due to the alcohol for sale at Plew’s, we must require 21+ for attendance.
If you are unable to attend, but would still like to support St. Johns Booksellers, please visit our Go Fund Me campaign: http://www.gofundme.com/stjohnsbooksellers
May 24: I will be reading my short story “Neighbors” at this event on May 29, to benefit St. Johns Booksellers. If you are in Portland, please come to save the best independent bookstore in Portland.
April 12, 2015: I am delighted by this review of my novel Sisyphus Shrugged, posted today by Beverly Garside, author of Randian dystopia I and You:
Wow, what a journey. Many years ago I read Atlas Shrugged and found it fascinating–not because I bought its ideas but simply because I had never been exposed to that point of view before. Some decades later, after suffering the effects of that viewpoint inflicted upon us in reality, I saw all the huge cracks in Rand’s theories. And then comes Sisyphus Shrugged, a sequel to the story written in so much the same style that it seems like it could have been written by Rand herself (if not for the contrary editorial slant).
Sisyphus Shrugged may, according to other criteria, be criticized for its style: a preponderance of philosophy and politics over plot, with shop-keepers and factory workers spouting dissertations on the nature of commerce, freedom, and morality. But this is exactly the style used by Rand in Atlas Shrugged, and as a fan of philosophy, I like it. It’s not only a ‘reality with a grain of salt’ narration that fits perfectly with a near-future dystopia–it’s like its own genre and deserves to be recognized as such.
My favorite discovery with Sisyphus Shrugged is the very philosophy it advocates, a refutation of the rule of free-market capitalism that doesn’t retreat automatically into communism. In my mind, both are just opposite sides of the same evil coin. Peate doesn’t take the easy route of painting the world exclusively in black and white with an either-or choice as to which extremist side is which color. He takes the much more difficult road of sifting through the shades of grey and rainbow colors that make up the real world, and challenges us to assemble our own coin in a way that works best. Not perfectly, but better than the simplistic formulas that characterize so much of the political Right and Left.
Also refreshing is Peate’s nuanced and realistic exploration of the role of force and violence in revolutions and social change. Rather than automatically retreating to the white robe of pacifism, he incorporates the violence that is inevitably committed by the adherents of both sides, and explores the difficult path of situational ethics in the midst of activism. It’s this very lack of self-righteousness and simplistic prescriptions in the story that distinguishes it from Rand’s opus. People run the gamut from heroes to flawed and misguided humans to psychopathic monsters and don’t always stay neatly in a single category. In the personal as well as the political, Peate’s characters’ task is to move from a dystopian status quo without falling into the opposite extreme, to create traction on the slippery slopes and find compromise and middle ground. And while the result is a location definitely left-of-center, it avoids simplistic solutions and paper-doll worlds that too often characterize political fiction.
It is for these reasons that I believe the Left, just as much as the Right, needs to read Sisyphus Shrugged.
December 21, 2014: “North Korea has banned Robert’s books and threatens death to anyone who dares to buy and read them,” reader Larry Parrish jests. “EVERYONE better NOT DARE oppose North Korea’s order!” David Moyer, on the other hand, thinks North Korea likes my “commie tome” and submitted this photograph as evidence:
What about you? Do you think Kim Jong Un would like or dislike my pro-worker story?
December 10: video brainstorming Money’s Men, shot by author Dan Marshall:
I had just remarked that imagination and intelligence could be seen as obstacles to getting through daily life. They are certainly more than is required to work and pay bills. After this lunch meeting, I wrote the scene in Money’s Men in which Preston Pennington and a scientist discuss plans to neutralize independent thought in workers.
November: after six months in Alaska working and researching material for future stories, I have returned to Oregon. It feels good to be back home.
October 16: Gulliver’s Books in Fairbanks, Alaska, put its three copies of Sisyphus Shrugged out on shelves this week! If you’re in Fairbanks, stop into their great book store and tell them I sent you!
July: That moment when, after writing fiction since 1981, you walk into a Barnes & Noble to find your novel on the shelf for sale. Sisyphus Shrugged by Peate is about ten feet away from Atlas Shrugged by Rand. Thank you, Fairbanks B&N!
June 21: as of May 13, I am now living in Alaska, gathering material for as yet undetermined future projects!
April 25: When I write, I write for friends I’ll never meet.
My Writing Process
Sam Snoek-Brown was kind enough to invite me to participate in this “My Writing Process Tour” thing. “It’s a fun project, I think,” Sam said, “because it gives us all a bit of insight into each other’s writing lives, and it helps introduce each other to other writers.” He posted and answered the following questions. Here are my answers, for those who are interested.
What am I working on?
Right now I am writing my first science-fiction novel, entitled The Sun Children. I am also writing my sequel to Sisyphus Shrugged (itself a sequel to Atlas Shrugged), entitled Money’s Men.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
It’s better. Just kidding! Well, my stuff is deep, true, and at times heavy. Recently I read Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, and what struck me about it was that Card tells the truth. My stuff is like that too. It makes one think.
Why do I write what I do?
I like to pick a societal problem and use it as a prompt, exploring its every facet and handing my work back to society as if to say, “Here. This is what I did to address your problem. I hope it helps.”
How does my writing process work?
I get an inspiration, I write it down, I read it again later and improve it.
April 12: Reading and writing make up one big conversation through human history. We each participate and contribute in our own way.
April 5: My writing is designed to make my reader think. It is not comedy, though there is amusement within. My writing is medicine for Society’s ailments.
Sisyphus Shrugged on the shelf at the Oregon City Public Library this week:
March 19: On a lark, I looked to see if I was in the catalogue yet. I am. One of my books is in a public library in America. I might not be able to find a teaching job, but at least someone thinks I have something of value to contribute to Society. Thank you, Oregon City Public Library.
The book, Gentle Tara and the Butter-Fly Ride, is listed on this page.
February 7: two big items since my last post! I have been picked up by Portland micropublisher Prose City Books! My self-publishing days, as good as they were, are over. My titles will stay available on Amazon until everything is set up there, to make sure there is no interruption in availability. Prose City can offer me more formats, wider distribution, marketing, higher royalties, and even hard covers! It made the most sense for me at this point in my career.
And the Oregon City library said it would like to stock my books on its shelves! This is a dream come true. I let them know the Prose City situation, so once new copies are available, I will deliver those to the library. Amazing.
December 24: It’s been too long since I’ve updated this page! For the past few months I’ve been working on an anti-theocracy dystopian science-fiction novel entitled The Sun Children. It has its own site, here. I am very excited about this project. Give it a look! I hope for a spring 2014 release.
July 21: I don’t have any other readings scheduled and, truth be told, I am not sure I feel like scheduling any more immediately. Friday night’s reading was great, but I feel like pondering everything that has already happened for a while, to consider my next move carefully. I don’t want to rush headlong into another bookstore. I want to research bookstores carefully. Happily, there are a couple websites listing bookstores that host readings. Wish me luck!
In the mean time, there are still two days left to enter to win a free copy of Sisyphus Shrugged, here.
July 20: Attended Heather Arndt Anderson’s reading for Breakfast: a History. My review of her work on Amazon says it all:
“Ms. Anderson presents a history of ‘the most important meal of the day’ from antiquity to the present, highlighting the interesting stories behind what we do and what we no longer do. Did you know the ancient Greeks ate donuts? Do you know what they dipped them in? It wasn’t coffee or tea. Ms. Anderson seasons her history with the perfect mixture of facts, quotations, and witticisms designed to keep the reader both educated and entertained. I cannot imagine a better book on the topic. Foodies will rejoice to devour this delectable discovery!”
Her food blog, featuring creative recipes and articles, is at VoodooandSauce.com.
July 19: Tonight’s reading went well. We had five strangers and sold four books. The best surprise of the night was Cynthia L. Moyer attending with her daughters! The Q&A after the reading was as great as the reading itself.
July 16: Article by Raymond Rendleman!
July 13: Here is the flyer for my 7/19 reading at St. Johns Booksellers, in PDF form (will open in new window): sisyphus
July 9: Tonight my friend Dan Marshall will be giving his first reading from The Lightcap, his first novel. As his friend, I will be there. As his editor, I would like to invite you to come to hear excerpts of this magnificent science-fiction work if you are in town and if you like science fiction.
That’s the Record Room, 8 NE Killingsworth, Portland, OR 97211 tonight at 7:00 p.m.
July 3: This morning Lisa Loving of KBOO-FM was kind enough to interview me about my latest novel.
The full audio is here, and I am very pleased with how it went. Thanks, Lisa!
July 2: My radio appearance on 90.7 KBOO-FM Portland has been rescheduled to TOMORROW!
From 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. PST!
Please listen in if you can!
Podcast file to follow.
June 30: Tonight Robin and I went to see the Portland Actors Ensemble production of The Merchant of Venice in plaza downtown Portland.
The Merchant of Venice is Shakespeare’s indictment of the anti-Semitism rampant in his day. From before the play opens, the Jews are persecuted and oppressed. Shylock recounts this. Antonio represents the establishment. He persecutes Shylock until, in his need but also with his privilege, he thinks he can use Shylock. Shylock notes the irony and injustice of this. Antonio also thinks he can easily win forgiveness of his loan with an appeal to the mercy he never showed a minority.
“I will have my bond!” Shylock repeats pathetically, clinging to all he has left after suffering torment after torment. Shylock is abused from all quarters, including from within his own home, when his daughter betrays him and steals his dead wife’s ring. Shakespeare does these things to engender sympathy for Shylock; that companies did not depict him sympathetically for almost three hundred years after the play was written is testament both to the anti-Semitism and the ignorance the play depicts. In the play, the entire society is anti-Semitic. That Antonio, victorious, does not give Shylock back the money he won shows Antonio’s monstrous sense of entitlement. That Shylock is ordered to convert to Christianity is the worst evil in the play. Shakespeare indicts the anti-Semitism by depicting it in its total tyranny.
Everyone in tonight’s production did a great job. We left heartbroken and reeling with the shock of the horror depicted. That the play continued beyond the trial to show the uselessness and corruption of the husbands, that Shakespeare’s heroines are feminist milestones (both smarter and more moral than their husbands), seems anticlimactic. To call the play a comedy, as the First Folio did, is to demean its moral lesson. Yes, there is amusement, but it is dystopian social commentary of the highest order.
Bravo, PAE. I congratulate you on your magnificent performance.