Book Review: A Princess of Mars

Book Name: A Princess of Mars
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
First Published: 1912
Original Title: Under the Moons of Mars

In 1911, thirty-five year old Edgar Rice Burroughs suffered a dilemma. His business ventures had failed miserably and he needed more income to support his wife and two children. Being a fan of serial novels, he often told himself that he could write a better story than what he saw published in those pages. As he worked at his brother’s stationery company, he penned a novel on the company pads during his off-hours, telling no one but his wife about it. In the end, he was too embarrassed by the tale to put his name on the manuscript.

The All-Story magazine bought his first story as a six part serial in 1912 and named it Under the Moons of Mars. Due to the typesetter believing that the author’s pen name “Normal Bean” was a typo, the author was listed as “Norman Bean”. The humble serial would become the inspiration of a new sub-genre in science fantasy, the planetary romance. Stories by Burroughs became popular with the public quickly and by 1914 two of his serials were re-printed as novels. His Tarzan of the Apes series was novelized first, followed by his first serial, renamed A Princess of Mars. The Barsoom series featuring John Carter of Mars was born. The novels have since not been out of print for the last 100 years.

A Princess of Mars is the fictional travelogue of Captain John Carter, a Confederate soldier who prospects for gold in the American Southwest after the civil war. After an attack by Apaches, he is mysterious transported to the planet Mars. There on Barsoom, as the planet is known to the natives, he shows great physical prowess as the lighter gravity of the red planet allows him to leap about to the amazement of the four-armed, and tusked men known as Thrak. His skills in battle become renown to all Barsoomians as he gradually battles his way to the top of their society. Driving John Carter to fight is his love for the beautiful princess, Dejah Thoris. The captain spends much of the novel in pursuit of and in rescuing the princess as she is captured by various lustful villains.

I first discovered A Princess of Mars during my early teens at the public library. It was a well-worn, earmarked copy with a four-armed green giant battling a smaller, sword wielding man on the cover. Despite the novel having been written at least half a century before I was born, I was pulled in by the myriad of battling cultures, the intriguing scientific imaginings, and the emergence of love and friendship overcoming the hatred that drove all these different colored people of Mars.

John Carter is a charming narrator in this tale filled with anti-gravity cars, majestic city-states, giant riding thoats, and barbarians of many races. A southern gentleman of the old school, I found his way of offering the hand of friendship to the Barsoomians, a pleasant contrast to the way men are often portrayed in present day. He did not shirk from the violence around him and had the fighting skills to hold his own, yet through it all there was a sense of knowing that things did not need to be this way. His spreading of the concept of peace to the Barsoomians put me to mind of how people must have felt during the First World War, which started the same year that this novel became popular, when their world had gone insane with unheard of violence and war on a scale previously unknown, similar to the fighting that was protrayed on Barsoom. The voice of reason in John Carter was a counterpoint to those feelings that the First World War must have created and struck a chord with readers of his day.

I found the feisty, far from helpless, Dejah Thoris to be intriguing. Women from that era of writing normally did not have such spunk and did not look at the hero with equality as she did. While she does spend much of the novel being captured by powerful villains, she shows herself to be a woman of principle, every bit as much a creature to duty and honor as the hero. I can understand why Dejah Thoris has captured the hearts of so many generations of young men.

I hope you’ll consider reading A Princess of Mars and the rest of the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. You can find the ebook version for free at Project Gutenberg, or check it out at your local library.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

Another Monday is upon us and so I offer up a number of writing related links for your perusal. From using notebook paper to copywriting resources, there is much to take in this week.


Notebook Paper: How to Spot High-Quality Paper

How to Effectively Market with Memes

85+ Copywriting Resources

Applications Where Paper Beats Software, And Where Software Beats Paper

10 Evergreen Strategies To Boost Your Freelance Writing Career

7 Excuses To Stay In Touch With Editors And Clients

Scaling Your Work Mountain: It’s All in the Approach

Rubber Meets The Highway

There is something about the movement through space and the speed of the car on the open road that nourishes my soul. I would have never guessed it judging by the tepid reaction to my first car, an old off-red Datsun station wagon. It got me to high school and back home so I didn’t have to keep bumming rides after band practice. It was also a free gift from my parents. Since I could not afford to buy a car at that time, it was gratefully accepted. Once I had the car for a while, I began to realize the freedom that it offered me. I could go to the mall when I wished. I explored country roads. I took my guitar to the local winery to play music among the grape vines. I used it to help deliver newspapers on my paper route.

The first car I bought for myself was a little white Geo Metro Convertible. I was a sophomore in college with a new job and money in my pocket. I got the car new off the lot. It was love at first sight. My family and friends all told me that they could not picture me in a convertible. I was a sensible, hard-working girl, not to mention short and overweight. Convertibles were for fun, popular and tall blondes, not a geek like me. At those words, nothing could hold me back from purchasing that little car. Driving with the top down in Southern California was a pleasure that I relished. My favorite drive was Pacific Coast Highway where I could cruise at a comfortable clip with the wetlands and green rolling hills on one side and the white sand beaches on the other. Driving on that road, the problems of my life would float away as the wind blew through my hair. I held onto that car for a long time and when I finally had to accept a new vehicle, I mourned.

My current vehicle does not have the style of my former little convertible, but it is far more practical for me. It is a Honda CR-V SUV. I love the radio system, the air conditioning and that it has a moon roof. I can open up that moon roof and get a little of the sensation that I used to feel with my convertible, but now I have the capacity to haul the inventory for my business to where it needs to go. I drive to venues to sell my wares on a regular basis. The SUV can handle it. I often drive the highways of the southwest desert, heading to Las Vegas, Phoenix or Tucson. I like driving in the desert. The land is stark, but has a beauty all its own.

The heat outside the vehicle is intense during the day and gives the road a rippling look as you drive. I’m more aware of my surroundings when I travel in the desert. It can be dangerous to be caught without water if you car breaks down and when I’m the only car in sight on a desert road, I worry for my safety. Still, I do not let fear keep me from driving the desert. I keep my triple A card handy, not to mention a good jug of water. That is all I need.

When I write about how my characters feel when they travel, I like to draw on my own experiences of the rubber meeting the highway. The characters could be in a 19th century sailing ship, flying on a dragon, drifting through the asteroid belt in a spaceship, moving in a myriad of ways to travel toward that distant horizon of discovery. Translating these feelings from reality into our stories is what makes us writers.

What ideas do you take from your life and spin into stories?

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

It’s time for the Monday roundup of interesting posts that relate to the art of writing or the wiz-bang methods of selling your writing. I hope you’ll take a few moments to start out your week with these links. Enjoy!


10 Social Media Tips for Bloggers

Typing for Output. Handwriting for Recall.

What Dr. John H. Watson Can Teach About Writing

30 Archaic Adjectives and Adverbs

Content Writing Can Be Real Writing

Great Social Media Sites For Author Platforms

Giving Voice to the Voiceless

Why great writing takes great sacrifice

Blog Smarter: Don’t Just End Up Trading Hours for Dollars

Have You Been Watching Kickstarter Lately? You Should

The Everyday Carry Obsession for Writers

A year or two ago, I had taken my key ring out of my purse. It was a jumble of extra rings, keys that I had no idea what they opened, and a heavy fob that was given to me when I purchased my car years ago and had been worn smooth until it was just a hunk of metal. I decided that I was going to update my keyring and make it more functional.

After I had removed the extra keys and rings that I no longer used, I decided to research to see if I could find ideas on how to organize my keys better. What I discovered is a new fad called “everyday carry” or EDC. This is a hobby where people take being prepared for life’s little needs to a new level. I was intrigued as I scanned photos of what other people carried in their pockets and read about their ideas of preparedness. Some were survivalists that were preparing for the next nuclear war, but there were many others like myself who simply wanted to function in an urban environment more comfortably.

So what makes a basic EDC? It turns out that there are a couple of basics that most people keep in their pockets. A phone, a keyring, a wallet, a flashlight, a pen, a multi-tool, and a knife. The phone and wallet seemed normal enough to me, but the rest I sort of scratched my head at.

My first purchase was a leather key fob with a clip that I could attach to my purse and a sturdy ring for my keys. I put my car keys and regular keys on the new ring. It had a flower concho on it for decoration and I was pleased with the look and the inexpensive price tag.

I discovered a tiny keychain sized flashlight called a Streamlight Nano. I found that having a flashlight on your person all the time was a godsend. No more having to fumble with my key when I came home at night because my husband had forgotten to turn on the porch light. It helped me feel safer when going to my car after the end of a night class. After a few weeks of using the flashlight on my keyring, I was convinced that developing a useful EDC was the right way to go.

My next purchase was a Fox40 safety whistle. It is quite loud, lightweight and sturdy. Because it is pealess, it will not freeze up in cold weather. I wanted a whistle since I’m alone at night on campus or when I’m out in the park walking my dog. I never used it at school in the end, but I did use it once for an emergency. I had fallen in our garage and injured myself. I tried to call out for my husband on the other side of the property, but he could not hear me. I had my keys and the whistle with me. I blew on the whistle and this brought my husband to me. I will always keep a whistle on my keyring for now on.

The whistle, flashlight and keys are all I keep on my main keyring. It can go through the airport security or into any building without any problem with these items and the tools give me a little added help with my day to day life. However, there were the other recommended items, the multi-tool, the knife and the pen.

For my pen, I purchased a Fisher Trekker Space Pen. It came with a lightweight carabiner and that little black clip became the main holder of my “tool keyring”. The Trekker has a ring on the pen cap so my space pen hangs in my purse in a place that is easy to get to. Now I always have a good quality pen where ever I go. I added a small moleskine notebook in my purse to go with the pen. When I go to seminars or have a writing idea, I can capture ideas on the fly and go back to it later when I’m home on my computer. I highly recommend carrying a pen and a moleskine to all writers. It really makes a difference.

I did not have much trouble deciding on the multi-tool. I bought a little $20 Leatherman Micra for the job. Its main tool are a good pair of scissors, but it has a nail file, nail cleaner, a bottle opener and a flathead/philips head screwdriver along with a small flat head screwdriver. It also has a tiny blade, but I seldom use it. The multi-tool is barely 2″ long and takes up little room. I find that I use it quite often, especially when I travel or when I’m in a class or workshop.

The knife was a difficult decision for me. I had never carried a dedicated folder before. Women of my generation were not encouraged to do so, although I’ve been discovering that younger women think nothing of it. The state I live in has stricter knife laws than other places, so in the end I chose a sub 2″ blade from Spyderco called a ladybug. It helped that the scales came in many color choices, including purple! The blade is super sharp, of a high grade of steel and it locks for added safety when using it. It slices through packages like butter, will cut a sandwich in a hotel room without sweat and in general is an excellent beater blade. Its been my main pocket knife for two years and still looks like new.

I have purchased a few more EDC items since then, but these items I’ve listed are my core and go with me everywhere. By adding tools to my everyday carry and learning how to use them in my daily life, I feel more confident in the way that I tackle the world and live a little more comfortably in the process.

When was the last time you updated YOUR keyring? :)