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Cafe Okay John T. Cullen San DiegoWelcome to Café Okay. I've been active online as an author and publisher since 1996. This is my reading room, which I've dreamed of creating for all my books and other writings since 1996.

Curating. I found it surprising how difficult it is to optimally sort through a lifetime's work in so many areas (nonfiction on many topics; and several genres or tropes of fiction. In a few cases I've left a title or cluster of titles in two different places, always for a reason. For example, 27duet combines my youthful poetry (Cymbalist Poems, 67 selected from among 400+ mostly finished in my teens) with my age 27 retrospective love story (a novel: On Saint Ronan Street). The protagonist of the novel (written in a U.S. Army barracks in Germany) is a struggling young poet (Charles Egeny) who is trying to peddle the poems in the other book (Cymbalist Poems) that he/I wrote.

Another example is Coronado Mystery, in which I am the first to offer a plausible solution to the 1892 true crime enigma and ghost legend at the Hotel del Coronado near San Diego. Coronado Mystery is another duet: Dead Move: Kate Morgan and the Haunting Mystery of Coronado (nonfiction; scholarly analysis based on known history and vetted documents) plus the noir 1892 gaslight suspense thriller I wrote, based closely on my research, titled Lethal Journey. In various cases like these, I found it virtually impossible to decide where to place an item; so I opted for two places in those few instances.

Pseudonyms: Rules of Thumb

Jean-Thomas Cullen—my actual birth name, which I have only recently begun using for fiction and poetry.

John T. Cullen—my English name, to avoid confusing people in the U.S. where Jean is a woman's name. In Luxembourg, my other country where I spent my childhood, it's a French name meaning John. I write nonfiction and thrillers under this name. I'm an Active Member of International Thriller Writers (ITW). Funny story: I was once rejected at a college for being female, despite my deep voice, brawny build, and heavy beard. I applied to Wesleyan University in the 1960s, and got a letter back saying "We're sorry because you are very qualified to be a student here, but we don't accept girls." When I informed them of my gender, they quickly put me on a waiting list, but nobody conceled so I went to the University of Connecticut instead. Oh well. Such is life. I feel strangely at home in Quebec or Paris, not to mention Luxembourg.

John Argo—my Internet writing and publishing handle. I was the first person in human history to publish an entire (not partial), proprietary (not public domain; therefore Gutenberg irrelevant), novel on the Web in HTML, designed to be read online and not on portable media (CD-ROM, floppies, etc). I started releasing serial chapters, one a week, of my suspense thriller Neon Blue online in May 1996 through a website built for us by my brilliant friend Brian Callahan, titled Neon Blue Fiction. In July 1996 we followed with a second novel in the same manner, a SF novel titled Heartbreaker, which I retitled This Shoal of Space in 1998. I'll have more to say about all this on the Clocktower Books Museum site in this webplex. Argo was the ship of myth and legend on which the argonauts (Argo-Sailors) sailed across the Aegean to fabulous adventures in the hot fiction of nearly 3,000 years ago. I felt such a sense of wonder about the Internet that I felt I should write under the pseudonym Argo.

Venti and Penti Story Forms

Venti, Penti—Venti in Italian can mean either 'winds' or 'twenty'; I chose the latter because I am crafting a new form of intermediate-length novel that I think will suit many modern readers. It's short, sweet, and to the point. Gone is the long narrative ramble of centuries past. But note: Some of the best work of the most famous authors lies in their shortest works. Think of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, or (rising to a unique level of artfulness) Ernest Hemingway's Garden of Eden. There are many other famous examples, so it's been a vibrant form. Lengths tend to be mechanically dictated by production technologies, so what we have traditionally called the "novel" (very long, usually) is the most economical application for offset press publishers; while short stories have their origin in magazine forms (Charles Dickens got his start in magazines, as did Edgar Allan Poe and many others like Henry James writing for Cornhill in London). With digital technologies rising to the top, despite all the usual Luddites, we're due for a wonderful new story form. I call it the Venti, for Twenty (several of my novels are between twenty and thirty thousand words). At the same time, since digital allows us to market even shorter work, I've adopted the term Penti (from Five) for shorter stories between 5/20k.


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