Friday, December 16, 2011

Up for a potential sh*t storm.

It’s 5:45 in the morning, and I’m up. Boo. It didn’t mean to, but Chickerdoodles decided that she would be awake. This doesn’t happen very often, and I suppose that I should be grateful for that, but not at the moment.

Usually, I’d just let her fuss away until she settled herself down, but she has been getting her second-year molars, and she’s been fussy and fevery. Not a big deal, but she’s also been filling her diapers with Gusto! Oh yeah, changing her just won’t do; she’s had to be showered. Last Tuesday, “it” made its way down to her foot. I should really be sharing this story at high schools – “Now do you want to wear condoms?” One morning, she got up and she had been in such a condition for a while, and had a diaper rash that looked like a burn. It was down-graded to ‘red’ by the next day, but it was pretty awful for her.

Mostly though, all is well with her. She’s still too young to understand what’s going on with Christmas, but she’ll be pretty excited to unwrap presents, I think. I’ll keep you posted on that. I think that it’s only going to get better as we get to enjoy Christmas through her eyes. Right now though, we’re just re-decorating the tree as she pulls off the ‘treasures’ to run around the house with, and we repair and re-hang them. We usually put up the tree on the first Saturday of December, but it may change to the Monday before Christmas for a few years, since it’s getting maddening. Oh well, in ten days, it will all just be a fridge full of memories.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Another Triumph!

That’s right; I snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and got my 50 000 words for NaNoWriMo. On Sunday the 27th, I was already behind, and had had a particularly rough day at work. (It was my own fault – I let my energy get sapped by being pissed off at a co-worker.) I got a modest 1000 words that day. I was nearly ready to throw in the towel.

So, on Monday, I really knuckled-down after work and did a record-breaking 2700 words. Then, I had a couple glasses of wine (a writer’s vice if there ever was one), and thought, ‘I’m going to set-up my next scene,’ and got another 450 words done. It was starting to look like something that could be saved!

Tuesday, I usually have Daddy-Daughter-Day, but through the miracle of wife-taking-the-day-off-for-a-doctors-appointment, I was able to get a solid hour of writing in the morning, plus two-hour space between dinner and Bath/Bed procedure, in addition to nap-time, and after Chickerdoodles went to bed, I got a barn-burning, Rip-Snorting, Record-Breaking 4200 words in a day! By Wednesday the 30th, I only had 660 words, and, well, the story kinda tells itself after that.

I really owe this victory to my wife. Not only was she so understanding about the countless hours I stayed up late and got my word count in. She was also my biggest cheer-leader when I wasn’t keeping up, and kept my spirits up when I was feeling defeated by the size of the task.
I’m looking forward to getting back to Blogging now, and getting re-acquainted with you all. Thanks for your patience in my absence.

Before I finish, I have to share a Proud Papa moment. I was sitting on the couch, watching TV with Chickerdoodles on my lap, and I did something kinda loud and rude, as men are wont to do in their homes. She said “Puba!” (Toddler-ese for ‘Kuma’). That’s right, she blamed the dog! It was one of those moments that I dreamed of when I first learned that I was going to be a dad. I spent the next day at work, telling everyone who would listen, and many who wouldn’t. Then, about a week later, she farted, then blamed the dog. It was just as funny the second time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review of Melody Hill, by Jessica Bell

As I mentioned last week, I got Jessica Bell’s album, Melody Hill; On the Other side. I was excited about this project long before I heard the album. Part of my interest was because Jessica is such a delightful & supportive Blogger (find her at The Alliterative Allomorph), but I was especially intrigued that she released an album as a soundtrack to her book. As I said last week: How cool is that!?

One of my pet-peeves is when I ask someone about a band, and they say “They’re good.” Well, The Beatles are good, and Rage Against The Machine are good, so you really haven’t told me anything. I really enjoyed Melody Hill, and I will try to give a more detailed review than “it’s really good.”

Having said that, it’s a really good album, but I am having one problem with this. I enjoy this type of acoustic-based singer/songwriter music with female vocals, but it’s been years since I’ve listened to it, so please forgive me if my comparisons are somewhat dated.

This music could easily be played in the same concert with Jewel or Alanis Morisette (being a little more rock-based than the former). I should think that either would be pleased to open for Jessica Bell. It also reminds me a little of Sinead O’Conner’s first album, The Lion and The Cobra, if anyone remembers that. I believe that I’m also hearing a hint of Portishead in there. Her voice alternates from wine-glass-sweet to a rich purr, with an indefinable accent occasionally teasing its way through.

While the music on Melody Hill seems to have been written with a one-person-with-acoustic-guitar in mind, (see: coffee house), it has been beautifully augmented with keyboards, drums, bass, and tasteful electric guitar. Some songs are more introspective and slow, like “If You Were Me,” or the lullaby-like “Selfish Heartbreak.” Then, we’re treated to the more upbeat and expressive “Don’t Break Me,” or “Love is a Bitch of a Wine (Whine).” “Famous,” featured on her book trailer, is simply haunting, and I’ve had to return to her Blog to hear it again after it ran through my head all day before Melody Hill was available.

Much of the lyrics are filled with longing and conflict, and if I didn’t know that this was a soundtrack, I’d be concerned for the artist’s marriage. There is no shortage of clever lyrics, and it’s clear that Jessica is a diligent student of the craft. I really enjoyed the phrasing of “I wanna wake to see you, pleased to see me” in “Wash Me Away” The pause in the singing gave it a surprising quality that printed word wouldn’t allow.

My only problem with this album is the order of the first two songs. Melody Hill starts with a six-minute introspective that escalates towards the end, and the second is more of an up-beat rock song. Typically, an album starts with the song that the artist would start a concert with; a Here-we-are-let’s-go! song. I haven’t read the book yet, so I don’t know how this song-order serves the soundtrack function, but I would have reversed this order.

I’d really recommend Melody Hill: On the Other Side, and I look forward to listening to it as I write for NaNowriMo (I use the future tense because I’m posting this eight days into NaNo, so I’m writing this on Halloween). Don’t forget about the Amazon Rush on October 11.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group

I’ll bet that I’m not the first to use the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blogfest to write about NaNoWriMo. The obvious concern is that I won’t finish, but if I park my arse in the chair for 25 days out of the thirty, that’s 25 days I haven’t written yet, and thousands of words that aren’t on the page yet. On the other hand, I’ve told several people that I’m doing this, so I certainly don’t want to go back to them with my tail between my legs.
But I also want to use this time to let you know that I won’t be around much. I’m sure that you understand that most of my extra minutes will be spent writing. I’ve been trying to get up early to have Bloffee time before Chickerdoodles gets up. I have a feeling that I won’t be too creative in my first minutes of the day, so NaNo-writing may not work. I may feel that getting inspiration from my Blogging Buddies will serve me better, but no promises. I’ll also be staying up late to write, so I could forfeit that early time.
There will be two exceptions to the November NaNo Blogging Sabbatical. This is the first (that I’m writing on Saturday), and the other is a review of a project that I think is just brilliant.
Many of you know Jessica Bell, of The Alliterative Allomorph fame. On November 11th, she will be releasing her book String Bridge on Amazon. On October 24, she released the album “Melody Hill; On the Other Side” as a soundtrack for the book. How cool is that!? Many artists I know have a “major” and a “minor;” like musicians who write, or sculptors who draw, but I haven’t heard of this before. On Oct 8th, I will be posting a review of this album, now available on ITunes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NaNoWriMo, year two.

I’ve been on the fence this year as to whether or not to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I did it last year; I didn’t finish my story, but I got to 50, 000 words. I had the greatest feeling of triumph as I danced around, listening to Aerosmith’s “Roadrunner,” singing “I finished NaNo, I finished NaNo…” on November 30th.

A couple of days later, it snowed. It occurred to me that if it had of snowed in November, the shoveling would have knocked me out for the night, and making my 1,667 words for the day would not have been possible. And wouldn’t you know it; someone told me that the Farmer’s Almanac had forecast snow for November.

When I shared these sentiments with my beautiful wife, she said “Why not? I mean how much could it snow in November?” By ph’kr, she’s right! It certainly could snow like a mofo, but more likely, we’ll get a couple inches, here and there.

When I decided to throw my hat in the ring, I got excited. Talk about following your gut; mine’s saying “buckle up, brother.” The thought of staying up for an extra few hours, with my music and my Starbucks – my buckle-down brew – it just seems like a great time!

But would it be cheating if I used the opportunity to finish my stalled work? Last NaNo, I wrote a prequel that has occupied the rest of my year. Now the original work has sat neglected for…well,long enough that a fresh approach will hold some surprises for me. I’m OK with it, since it’s a no-prize competition. The point of it being to inspire and build community.

Who else is doing NaNoWriMo this year? You can Buddy me as Will Burke93.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Breakthrough, by Steven Tremp.

Say what you will about Dan Brown, he does give us a nice point-of-reference when describing stories. When I say that a story is a Dan Brown style mix of science and murder-mystery action story, I can give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Recently, I had the opportunity and joy to read Steven Tremp’s “Breakthrough,” and it can easily appeal to the same audience.

The protagonist is drawn into a murder-charge of the scientist who discovers how to create a stable wormhole, making him able to get in and out of a place without the inconvenience of vehicles or doors. With this discovery comes the conflict of whether this will be used by benevolent forces, like candy-grams, or by the highest-bidder delivering bombs to crowded stadiums.

Immediately, I was impressed with the action. Mr. Tremp was able to portray a detailed fight without stalling the action. He plainly did some study of martial arts to deliver this really well.

For those of us who have been reading Breakthrough Blogs, the affinity for science is no surprise. This was also included in the story without losing the reader in jargon. Whether or not you have an interest in the science of the time-space continuum, the part of the story that relies on it will be interesting.

The protagonist, Chase Manhattan, has a history of CIA-style missions, but what he’s done and who he worked for isn’t spelled out. While I hope this is revealed in later books, it isn’t necessary to the story, and gives a backstory-texture to the work, without the dreaded ‘info dump.’

Chase also relies on the help of his friends more than the average hero. This added some colorful characters to the story, andI liked the ‘team’ feel.

I highly recommend this book for any fan of a good action-and-intrigue story. It spans audiences, and in the end, it’s a good story, well told. I really look forward to the next installment of the Chase Manhattan series.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Woman's Wrath.

This is a very amusing and somewhat frightening story about my niece, Emma. It begins eight years ago, when she was five. She was at my parents place, just her and Papa. After she went to the bathroom, she wanted Papa to wipe her bum. This is a boundary that Papa just won’t cross.

She was stubborn, but so was he. In an act of compassion, he brought her a small table with a coloring book and crayons. Nana came home (I think it was four hours later) to find her asleep on the toilet, sprawled over her coloring.

Flash-forward eight years. Papa’s routine involves going straight to the can after getting home from work. You guessed it – there was no toilet paper. Eight years later, Emma finally got her revenge. As an act of compassion, she left him a coloring book. For the coup de gras, it was open to a picture of a donkey.

Tune in Friday, when I’ll have a review of Steven Tremp’s novel “Breakthrough.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This weekend, in Canada, it’s Thanksgiving. I think that we’re a month earlier than the US because of our earlier harvest season, but that’s just a guess. And why England doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving is beyond me – if getting rid of boatloads of religious Fundamentalists isn’t cause for a national holiday…

It’s pretty easy to remember to be grateful when I’m getting two turkey dinners. One was here, so I can be grateful now that the house is so clean, but it was a busy week to get it into this shape. With Saturday being “Showtime,” it was especially busy, and we were in bed by 8:45. That’s right, we’re hardcore.

With a family like mine, it’s easy to be thankful. On the nights when I’m home at 6:30, I’m greeted by a super-happy dog, and a little girl saying “Daddy!” She’s really more interested in playing with my travel mug, but she’s happy to start playing with my eventually. My beautiful wife will also have coffee ready for me. For many people, this is a nice gesture. For us writerly types, it’s more like communion.

Andrea and I realized years ago that it was important to show our gratitude on a regular basis, especially for the small things. “Thanks for putting laundry on.” “Thank you for doing the dishes.” And the all-important “Thanks for getting up with Chickerdoodles this morning.”

About twenty years ago, when I was going through a particularly religious phase, I heard a song by the Christian band Petra called “Grateful Heart.” At that time, I prayed for a such a sense of gratitude, and I’ve been lucky to sustain that since then. Not always, but often enough to keep from getting all Goth and self-destructive.

I’m glad that we have Thanksgiving. Though most of us have lost touch with the farming cycles that birthed the holiday, it’s very beneficial to remember to count our blessings every now and then. It’s quant and a little hokey, but the truth is that an attitude of thankfulness can balance out some rough times. What’s the alternative; complaining? That just makes me miserable and unattractive.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"...but don't look like you're trying to write well...Idon't know; just write casual."

How sad is this; I knew what I wanted to write for my second Insecure Writers Support Group post about three days after I posted the first one.

In a Podcast, I heard this discussed, and someone asked if writers were a particularly insecure bunch. The interviewee said “I don’t think so; writers just seem to have more of a license to express it” (I’d love to give credit, but I listen to so many, I’ve lost the details).

Since, in reality, all stories have already been told, the key to writers’ success is “a good story, well told.” I have a TON to learn about story-telling, and I’m OK with that, but it’s the Good Writing that concerns me.
Sometimes, it’s obvious that writers are trying too hard to do Good Writing Adjectives abound, and it seems that at least three thesauruses were harmed in the making of the book. I once read part of a self-published philosophical booklet by a local proprietor of a used CD shop. No lie, it sent me to the dictionary about five times per page. I don’t think I got more than 15 pages into it. I like it when a book introduces me to a new word or two throughout the story, and I like it best when I can get the gist of it from the context of its use.

So, I worry about is writing well, without looking like I’m trying to write well. There certainly is a place for literary fiction, and I enjoy it every now and then, but that’s not what I aspire to. Like any other writer, I love words, and like any other insecure person, I cover it with my vast intellect (my IQ is at least in the triple digits). So, it’s going to be a game of trying hard to get out of the story’s way. Does anyone else worry about trying too hard?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Toddler Adventure Continues...

This week, our little Snookerdoodles had her second Birthday. “Where did the time go”; it’s a cliché for a reason. When we first brought her home, I remember reading and commenting on Blogs with her sleeping in the crook of my left arm. Major life change, to be sure, but in hind sight, it was so easy then. Except for her winding-up and crying for 4-5 hours, starting at about 8:30 PM.

Now, she has words. She can actually converse, and it can be mind-blowing, after nearly two years of interpreting the pitch of her wails. The rude awakening came when we were driving somewhere, and speaking with Andrea, I referred to another driver as a ‘douche.’ From the back seat, I heard “Doos.”

We had her party last Saturday, with a ton of family and friends over. It went off without a hitch, after a week of cleaning and other preparation. Beforehand, however, we tried to put her down for a nap (a futile effort that day), and we were eating subs, discussing who would shower first, and we were interrupted with a THUMP! We got upstairs so fast, it was like we had been raptured there, and we found her out of her crib, on her hands and knees, and not too dazed to greet us: “Hi…”

She hasn’t escaped again since, but we’ll have her in a toddler bed really soon, believe you me. We also need to make up the other bedroom for her. And the projects march on.

A few days later, I had a pretty rude awakening. I her effort to master her environment, Chickerdoodles was climbing on the couch, and fell off. The bump on the head and the startling had her in tears, and I was doing the standard Daddy thing; cuddling, with the “Aw, Sweety…” I got the brainstorm to call the dog onto the couch, in the hope of making her feel better. I gotta admit, it kinda hurt my feelings when she preferred cuddling up to the dog in her grief.

This made me think; I’ve gotten into the habit of letting the TV occupy her while I get things done. This can be pretty handy, but I’ve got to put in the time with her too. So on my last day off, We played together more than we have been. We had a great day, and when it was time to put her to bed, she cuddled into me instead of just sitting on my lap for her bottle.

I’ve always known in theory that it’s the time invested that makes a good parent, but I forgot that in my daily routine. I’m sure I will again. But this week, I read the signs, and corrected myself, and hopefully, I can continue being aware of things like that in my home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

As the big studios are trying to crank-out several Blockbuster Extravaganza’s per year, they are increasingly mining the past. This has often worked well, as was the case with Transformers and even The A Team.

Much of the audience approached these movies with a sense of hopeful nostalgia, and they weren’t disappointed. Well, I’m sure that many were disappointed; nerds are notorious for poo-poo-ing any efforts to revitalize a classic franchise, but that’s neither here nor there.

Which brings me to the colossal disappointment that was the G.I. Joe movie. To be fair, what did they do right? Well, I enjoyed the emphasis on Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. And, there was some nice eye-candy. I also liked the origins-of-Cobra-Commander part.

How about the classic character of Scarlet? Known and loved for decades, they spent minutes on the character, and her “I-don’t-believe-in-emotions-because-they-aren’t-tangible” speech nearly made me throw my TV out the window. Really? I’m sure that only the most damaged High-Schoolers are buying into that bullshit dichotomy.

And how about those power-suits that the new recruits enjoyed? NOT NECESSARY! The GI Joe lore has quite enough to fill a movie, and make it exciting. I’m not 100% sure that there weren’t these Power Suits, but it just came off like a visual gimmick. Granted, it did work as such, but it would have been better in another movie.

And WTF with the Baroness turn-coating at the end? They were plainly setting up a series (or a sequel, at the very least). Having a primary antagonist switching sides at the end just did NOT make sense!

Like a lot of people my age, I have a soft spot for G.I. Joe, and I was very disappointed in this movie. Did they even test-screen it with an appropriate age group? It seems that they were thumbing their noses at us, and trying out some new special effects tricks. If that was the case, good for them, but please, do NOT tack a well-established name on it.

And that’s my spleen-venting for the week. Thanks for hanging in there.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spreading Yourself -- When Is Another Blog A Good Idea?

What a turn out for the Insecure Writers Blog Hop! Great idea, Alex. I already know what I want to write about for October; just goes to show what a rich vein of inspiration our insecurities can be :P

I had a bunch of people start following me that I was already following from the Crusader Challenge in January, so if you aren’t seeing me pop-up as a new follower, that’s why. On the same note, check to see if you may be double-following me. (I’ve done that. No sense in having more in the Blog Roll than you need, eh?)

When I go to visit commenters, I click on the name on the comment and go through the Profile. I’ve noticed that several of you have more than one Blog. How do you decide to start another platform? And, where do you find the time? I’ve played with this idea from time to time, but budgeting the time would be tricky. Lately though, I’ve been getting up an hour before Chickerdoodles a few days a week, and this works well for Bloffee time. I’m really not in a writing headspace at this time of day (6:30-7:30), but it’s prime for visiting.

I also get more ambitious at this time of year. I love autumn, and in September, I still get this back-to-school, time-to-buckle-down feeling. Time to ride this wave, eh?

So do you have a second (or more) Blog? Why, and how?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pissing People Off

For the Insecure Writers post, our fearless Ninja Leader Alex wrote a thoughtful piece on alienating people, and fear of losing friends.

I recently finished George Carlin’s memoir, “Last Words.” A major theme was how he broke away from the conformity of the status quo. He is abrasive, and proud of it, and he made a good living at it. There are plenty of Blogs that also get abrasive and offensive, and are very popular.

In the Blogging circles I frequent, however, we’re pretty nice. Even when asked, I find it hard to be critical of other Bloggers’ writing. But there have been instances where I’ve read posts where political opinions just rub me the wrong way. In such cases, I’ll put my two cents in, but respectfully. I am figuratively in their house, after all.

On the other hand, in my own space, I’m tempted to go-off on some political stuff sometimes. That wasn’t the purpose I had on setting up the Blog, so I usually don’t, but I sometimes think that something is important enough to bring up. This could get offensive, and of course, I want people to like me. But I think that people (and Society at large) can grow from needing to face difficult questions. Half a century ago, some difficult questions were being raised about Civil Rights, and a LOT of people were upset by this. Many died in this struggle, but now, there a are a lot fewer people against these rights, and there have been generations who treat Blacks, Hispanics, Homosexuals and Women the same as themselves. We have a long way to go, but celebrating the progress helps us progress further.

The big take-away message from the George Carlin book, for me, was how important it is to be genuine. Is it more important for me to be genuinely provocative, or supportive? Honestly, I think that unity should be the end-game, but without provocation, we tend to stagnate. I guess that it’s all about time-and-place. I’m thinking that I should keep this yardstick handy, and to keep in mind that being phony will make me miserable.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pea Issues

I just had such a clever moment, I had to put it on the Internet. As Chickerdoodles was eating her lunch, I excused myself to the washroom. Since she’s nearly two, I keep my ears open, and do what I gotta do, but rarely for more than a minute. When I returned, I found that she had gotten a pea up her nose. I mean, really up there. An average sized pea looked like a small pea, as much of it was around a corner.

I had a similar problem with half a Cheerio, but it wasn’t nearly so far up; it was barely out of reach. I covered her mouth and other nostril, and the cereal just floated out on a wave of air and snot. Problem solved.

I tried this with the pea, but it was clearly futile; the larger item wouldn’t simply float out. Plus, she was looking at me fearfully, and I decided that covering her airways for an extended period of time could cause quite the emotional trauma.

Needing another plan, I tried to get her to mimic me, blowing aggressively through my nose. She found this quite amusing, but not very helpful. I sneeze would have been great, but inducing one would be tricky.
The next best thing was laughing. My next plan was to take her to the living room and tickle her. That got it! After about a minute, the offending vegetable was safely on the floor! Yay, Me!

Have you ever had to get something out of a child’s nose or ear? I’d love to hear your stories, just in case tickle-therapy doesn’t work next time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How DidThey Cope Without Pee Wands?

In this wonderful age, it isn’t difficult to find out if a woman is “in a family way.” These lovely bathroom wands will clear up the question right quick.

But how did they determine pregnancy in previous generations? Did they wait three month, and if there was still no “cycle,” they figured they knew their condition? That’s one option. I understand that there was a procedure involving a rabbit (from what I’ve pieced together from an Aerosmith song and an episode of M*A*S*H*, the poor fellow didn’t survive the procedure). But since not everyone had access to a rabbit, or had to keep their rabbits for breeding and stew, some of our clever ancestors had to develop another method.

If a man suspected that his wife (or other “Lady Friend”) was expecting, he would eat a clove of garlic. After an hour, he would return home. If he opened the door to find the lady in question had a disgusted/mortified look on her face (the look usually reserved for when one farts at her parent’s dinner table, or in Church). If the man was greeted with “Sweet Mother of GOD, You STINK!” the mystery was solved. Time to build, or dust off, the cradle.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Hating Game

Ya know how people always say “I wouldn’t be caught dead reading that kind of book,” or “I wouldn’t touch that kind of movie with a ten foot pole.” For my wife, it’s western movies. I don’t mind, because she enjoys comic book movies with me (which I prefer over westerns, anyway.) I know, I’m a lucky, lucky man.

For me, it’s obvious; I don’t have much time for romances. I don’t like the obvious formulas, the shuddering caresses and trembling limbs…pu-lease! No disrespect to the authors who do this, but I’ve never been able to elicit such reactions from the ladies (I was more often the “Special Friend.” Ladies, do us a favor and retire this term), so it all seems pretty far-fetched to me. Give me a space ship or a magic ring any day.

Twice this year, I ventured into this strange territory. I recently finished Blog Master Tali Roland’s “The Hating Game.” Honestly, I quite liked it. The premise is that the protagonist, Matti Johns, winds up on a dating-based reality show when she finds herself in financial trouble.

I found that this hard-as-nails business woman was revealed gradually, as the depth and layers of this ball-busting bitch are fleshed-out through the story. Against the background of an awkward and uncomfortable television setting, she is pitted against production staff with varying degrees of ethics, and struggles to hold her own during the twists that we’ve come to expect in reality shows.

While a bitter protagonist can be hard to like, she is nicely tempered by her more sensitive best friend, Jess. I also found that the failed fling described in the first chapter was so amusing that I could relate to her ill-feelings towards any romantic involvement. The garlic farmer was also a well thought-out character, and well-placed in the story.

Being set in London, there were a few references to stores or neighborhoods that I was not familiar with. However, the context of the comments gave me the gist of the type of places she was referring to, so it wasn’t very different than the fictional locales I’m used to.

While the romantic elements are dominant, I found that the story was strong, and it was easy to stay interested. I’m happy for the chance to support my Blogger buddies, but I’m happier still when I’m enjoying a good story in the process. I’d highly recommend this book, even if you’re like me and do not naturally gravitate towards romantic stories. Cheers, Tali, on a job well done.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cassastar -- Well Worth the Read

I finally got to read Cassastar by Alex Cavenaugh. It’s kind of A Top-Gun-meets-Star-Wars story, and I really enjoyed it. I found it to be a well-written story, and when it seemed ready to wrap-up, it took another turn and carried on. The characters were well-developed and three-dimensional, but there wasn’t much time spent on the enemies. The focus of the conflict was internal to the characters, and between them within the flight school.

Personally, the only real disappointment was that the invading aliens weren’t introduced until about half way through the book. I can understand that there’s still military training in peace time, but I would have liked an idea of their political climate earlier in the book. However, I liked how the protagonist’s (Byron) special skill was revealed later in the book, making it a colourful surprise.

The ending could be a tidy wrap-up for a stand-alone book, or it could lead to a series, and I would like to see that universe expand.

All in all, most of us love and support Alex because he’s a great Blogger who supports the community, but set that aside. Cassastar is a great book, and I’d recommend it on its own merit. If I didn’y like it, I wouldn’t have even mentioned that I’d read it. “If you don’t have something nice to say…” and all that rot.

A Quick Word To The Published Bloggers

I find that reading a book from a fellow Blogger is different than other books. With my Blogger buddies, I’m used to reading their thoughts on the craft, so when I read their books, I’m much more aware of what’s going into the book. So far, I’ve read two books from be colleagues, and both have been very enjoyable.

Unfortunately, when I posted my review of Alex Cavenaugh’s “Cassastar,” I was having issues getting my new computer to play well with Blogger, so it wasn’t possible for people to leave comments, so I’m going to re-post that one tomorrow (Tuesday, the 23rd). Then, on Friday, I’ll tell you what I thought of Tali Roland’s “The Hating Game.”

If you have something available on Kobo, let me know. I’m happy to support the publishing Bloggers, but I won’t say if I got it or not, because I want to publish honest reviews, but I don’t want to get on here and say that I didn’t like someone’s work. If we were a thick-skinned lot, we’d be in movies, eh?

Monday, August 15, 2011

How Much "Like"-ing is too much?

I've noticed that when I'm on my Facebook homepage, the right side features suggestions on things you can “Like.” I'm wondering how liberal I should be with my Likes.

For example, some of my friends Like “Movies.” Not any particular movie, just movies in general. One of these friends has ambitions to be a professional video editor, so her choice makes sense. Or, if Alex, who regularly reviews movies had such a Like, it makes sense. But the other day, Led Zeppelin was suggested. Of course, I like Led Zeppelin, who doesn't? (Well, I can imagine that there are those who aren't too fond of Robert Plant's voice. His “passion” can get a little shrill.) But they aren't in my top 5, or even my top 10.

I think that my discretion is based on a conversation with a friend of mine. I was checking out his band's page on MySpace, and among his “Friends” was Metallica and Marilyn Manson. When I asked him about his “Friends”, he said that it has more to do with illustrating your influences. “Aaah...” (cue: light bulb) From there, I figured that I should pick my associations sparingly.

I'm not sure if anyone checks those things, but I'll bet that my friends occasionally get messages saying that “Will Likes Family Guy, would you like to become a fan?” Hey, no problem. But if I Liked Weezer because it popped up, and I had just been grooving on Buddy Holly, my friends might think that I was into garage band college music, and this simply isn't the case. Seriously, if you're not gonna turn it up and call it Rock, great! Or, lighten it up and call it Jazz. Either option is great, but the middle ground loses what's great about both. But I digress...

Many Bloggers have Facebook page that we can Like, and well, that’s just sharing the love. Still, it’s genuine, and for some reason I didn’t want to be associated with the Blog on Facebook, I wouldn’t. Fortunately, it hasn’t come up.

What do you think? Am I being miserly, or is it better to be freer with my affections?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Another Fashion Tragedy

As parents, we often fear that we’re doing irreparable damage to our kids (Thank you, Freud!). It seems that most parents have fits of grief over how brutal a job they have done, especially when their kids are older (as in, adult).

Kids rarely feel this way. I mean, I can certainly look back at things that my folks could have done better, but the actual hang-ups that I inherited are few and far between. Asides from real abuse, kids rarely grow up to grieve their parents’ shoddy parenting.

I recently encountered such “damage” in a friend. Like much of the continent, we have had some brutal heat this summer. It was so hot, our immigrant friends from India were getting uncomfortable. The aforementioned friend (not an immigrant from an Equatorial region) was wearing jeans.

I had to ask, because she isn’t the type to be self-conscience about her body – she’s a part time model. As it happens, when she was a wee lass, her mom made her wear purple corduroy capris. Now, whenever she wears capris, she still gets that cringing feeling. OK, that makes sense, and we all grieved for her misfortune.

I haven’t had any such fashion tragedies, how about you?

Monday, August 1, 2011

What do you think..?

Many of you will have heard of the “Slut Walk.” It started in Toronto when a rape victim was told by a police officer that she could have avoided it if she had been dressed more modestly. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this was the wrong thing to say, mostly due to its insensitivity. Enough women took umbrage with this that they started the Slut Walk, kind of like a civil rights march, or a Pride Parade, but for women who want to dress as provocatively as they please without judgement.

I’ve got mixed feelings on this. I think that women have every right to present themselves as they like, and that men should be gentlemanly and respectful. However, expecting all men to be so respectful is a pipe dream, and women should not be naïve to that.

Last night, we had one Andrea’s friends over for drinks on the patio, so I took the opportunity to get their opinions. It got lively. “It’s like they want the power without taking responsibility for the reactions they elicit.” Well, yeah.

Another point was that the sexual triggers for men are obvious. However, there’s a mystery to feminine sexuality. Even in our candid conversation, the best I could get from them was “it depends on our mood.” So when men see a display of sexuality that is familiar, our immediate association is that they displayer is aroused, and trying to be arousing.

Or let’s look at it from another angle: Would you wear a jersey from a Swedish football team? It sends a very clear message, and anyone who is familiar with the team would approach you, wanting to discuss the players, coaches, and recent games. Or how about a BB King T-shirt? People would approach with their stories of seeing him in ’82, and the hipsters with their “I mostly like his older stuff.” These are graphic examples of how one’s clothes elicit reactions.

On the flip side, women’s attire does not create a rapist. You’re not going to hear about a man who left his house, thinking of nothing deeper than an episode of Cheers, until he saw a woman wearing handkerchief-sized shorts and displaying three inches of cleavage, then thought, “Well, I was just gonna pick up some Fritos and smokes, but I think I’ll rape her first.” Rapists are predators, and they target the isolated and the infirm. If a woman is radiating power in any sense, a predator will be discouraged, but a woman huddling into herself and separated from the crowd may be a more likely target, whether she’s wearing club wear, or slacks and a hoodie.

As always, I’m eager to hear what others think on the topic, so don’t be shy! Display your naked opinions in all of their God-given glory.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Is This Thing On?

Just a quick check to see if this is up -- can you click through from your Reader? Can you comment?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

AAARG! My comments still aren’t working! My “Publish” button isn’t working, and the only way I get the post up is to go to my “Saved Drafts” page and “publish” the checked selections. When I go the regular “Publish” button, I get a little window in the bottom left that says "Javascript:void(0)" What does that mean?!? If anyone knows, could you email me at I think that it's related to my Comments issues. Thanks a heap!

Vacation; The Awful First Week

We just had our annual vacation to celebrate our anniversary (4 years), and it was great, as usual. It didn’t start out that way though. A week beforehand, Andrea got a drive-through burger, and by the next day, had such an atrocious pain in her middle, she was wondering if her gall-bladder had really come out! She was afraid that she may be having a heart attack. When she finally did go to the Emergency Room, she stayed long enough to have her blood taken, but a bunch of ambulances showed up, and she got fed-up and went home. I mean, how many times have we waited for 5-6 hours to get trained instruction on the proper use of Tylonol & Advil!

About an hour later, the hospital called to say that the blood-work showed a serious problem with her liver function. As it happened, at the last minute before her all-bladder surgery(about three weeks before), a stone escaped into her bile duct, causing inflammation, etc. Andrea said that the pain was worse than child-birth. A friend at work – Jen – has also had the procedure, and said that she would rather have ten more kids than to go through that again.

Jen is an assistant manager in my department, and someone who I have a solid report with. I was really glad when I got ahold of her when I called to ask for the time off. I had a week of vacation that I hadn’t booked, and she was able to give me the time right then to be with Andrea in the hospital, while taking up the slack with Chickerdoodles.

Andrea is well now, and we were able to enjoy our time at Little Banff RV Park with our dearest friends. More on that soon, because my word count is already getting up there, so ‘Toodles’ for now!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My first book review

I finally got to read Cassastar by Alex Cavenaugh. It’s kind of A Top-Gun-meets-Star-Wars story, and I really enjoyed it. I found it to be a well-written story, and when it seemed ready to wrap-up, it took another turn and carried on. The characters were well-developed and three-dimensional, but there wasn’t much time spent on the enemies. The focus of the conflict was internal to the characters, and between them within the flight school.

Personally, the only real disappointment was that the invading aliens weren’t introduced until about half way through the book. I can understand that there’s still military training in peace time, but I would have liked an idea of their political climate earlier in the book. However, I liked how the protagonist’s (Byron) special skill was revealed later in the book, making it a colourful surprise.

The ending could be a tidy wrap-up for a stand-alone book, or it could lead to a series, and I would like to see that universe expand.

All in all, most of us love and support Alex because he’s a great Blogger who supports the community, but set that aside. Cassastar is a great book, and I’d recommend it on its own merit. If I didn’y like it, I wouldn’t have even mentioned that I’d read it. “If you don’t have something nice to say…” and all that rot.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Week off, but not really.

I'm at the hospital. Not for me, but I'm waiting for my wife to be discharged from gallbladder surgery. It's just a day surgery, and I was supposed to wait at home for them to call and let me know that she was ready, but I got impatient. Well, that's not entirely true; I got a call, and when I tried to pull the phone off of my belt, it slipped and the battery pack fell off. In a panic, I ran upstairs to the other extension, but missed the call. I got the number that called, but it wouldn't connect to anyone (what I reached sounded like dialing. Odd...) So I called the hospital, and the person I spoke to didn't think that the phone number was theirs. That wasn't a certain enough answer for me, so I packed up a few things (my netbook, Ipod, and three books) and came down.
She's not ready. Fortunately, Chickerdoodles is with Gramma, so I don't have to co-ordinate her and a thoroughly anesthetized wife.
That's how far I got before the volunteer told me that she was ready. By “ready”, they meant awake but waiting for the doctor to officially discharge her. While the nurses and volunteers at our local hospital were as delightful and efficient as always, the doctors are stretched too thin, so waiting for them to come and sign-off can be like waiting for a long weekend on Thursday. They're doing their best, but there seriously needs to be something done about the availability of doctors in Ontario. But I digress.
Andrea is recovering well. I thought that she'd be a mess, but she bounced back like the trooper she is. Of course, with four small incisions in her abdomen, there will be no lifting, including said Chickerdoodles. Fortunately, I was able to book the week off, so I can do the lifting, and the nursing. Also fortunately, she is twenty months old, so I only have to nurse my wife. Try and shake that visual – you're welcome. Hopefully I can get some other things done with my week off, but honestly, my standards are set pretty low.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The worst part about having toddlers...

There are a few things that I've noticed since the toddler TV shows have taken residence in our home. The first may very well be the worst part about having kids. The jingly theme songs have a way of sticking in one's head. Now that I'm working in the parking lot, I don't have the distractions to keep them at bay, so I can be tormented for an unreasonable amount of time.

Barney isn't half as annoying as I've been led to believe. Of course, the first episode I saw had him saying how much he loved books. That fellow's alright with me.

My opinion of Bert & Ernie is the same as it was when I was five. What else could one infer from a pair of guys who share a room and argue a lot? They act like brothers. That's it. So if those who see otherwise could please retire the homophobic bullocks now, that would be super.

But those guys in the tights? They are certainly wearing cups. That shape is just to regular to be naturally occurring, no matter how much they avoid manscaping.

There's something I found really exciting. The Cat In The Hat is voiced by Martin Short. Said Cat was also played by Mike Meyers (that move was great, by the by). Jim Carrey played Horton (who heard a Who) and the Grinch. Have you spotted the pattern? It takes a Canadian to properly portray Dr Seuss. Does that make up for our action-hero shortage? Well, we make up for it in our “Love Scenes.” Those are hard to beat, this side of the Atlantic, anyway.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is This How We Got Here?

I'm reading an interesting book right now, but I'm not sure what to make of it. It's “The 12th Planet” by Zecheriah Sitchen. I've been wanting to read it for years, but there was always other books; you know how it goes.

It's the first in a series, and it's researched from translations of the Sumerian tablets. He interprets the tales of the gods as alien settlers in prehistory. Don't laugh, it really is a viable theory. The problem is, he is really sold on his interpretation of the tablets. He is always using phrases like “It's obvious that this means...” or “There can be no doubt..,” and not just a few times. Such phrases appear every couple of pages. I'm not sure why this bothers me, but I would have liked to see a healthy dose of cautious skepticism.

This is a little harsh to say, but it really looks like he is reading the Sumarian texts in such a way as to make them fit his theories. This is like calling a Believer a “Heretic,” but that's how it reads. I did kinda pick up this book hoping to verify what I wanted to believe, so it made me that much more skeptical, guarding myself against being swept away into a pet theory. I'm hoping that one of you has read more of his work, and if you could set me straight, that would be fabulous.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm Not As Clever As I Thought, But There Is Good News

As for the update on the Victoria Sinclair interview, she is a very busy lady. Asides from being a news anchor, she has another side business, and tax time has proved to be more trouble than anticipated. We will have an interview up as soon as possible.

As for “X,” I thought I was really clever in making up a word. Honestly, I still think that it's clever, but nut as original as I'd thought. I also made up the word “Bibliophile” – book lover. I wasn't the first on that either.

The word I created for “X” was “Xenophile.” A xenophobe is one who fears outsiders, so “Xenophile” is meant to be a love of outsiders; I'd rather talk to someone from a different part of the world than hear yet another local bitch about the weather and the Maple Leafs. (the hockey team, not the foliage.) I find it fascinating how growing up in a different part of the world will flavor someone's perspective. I like talking to first-generation Canadians, because they have one foot on the Old World, but are familiar enough with my frame of reference to communicate the differences and similarities.

Then I was watching a Harry Potter “Extra” introducing the new characters. Remember Luna Lovegood, the quirky blonde with the dreamy voice? Guess what her dad's name is. Oh yeah, Xenophilious. Since I've read the books and seen the movie, the word must have taken root and re-emerged, making me think of how very clever I was.

On a more positive note, Andrea was home with Chickerdoodles last night, and the wee'un started playing with the front of her pants. The following conversation ensued:

A: Do you have to pee-pee?
C: Pee-pee.
A: Do you want to use the potty?
C: Yeah.

Note: she says “yeah” to anything you ask her, that's how I know that she's a Soundgarden fan. But, lo and behold, she has now left her first little puddle in the potty! A new day has dawned.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Frightfully Sorry

Hey Folks! I know that I promised you an interveiw today, but we seem to be having a hard time connecting. It will be up here as soon as I can get ahold of Victoria.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Read A Romance.

Harlequin has begun a new imprint that mixes Romance with Reality (have they exhausted their expansive repertoire?) Called “True Vous.” They take people's real-life romance and from an extensive questionnaire, they novelize it. So, if you're involved in a stellar romance relationship with an intriguing back-story, you may have an avenue to get your story told.

That's just what a friend of mine did. Her story of how she met her husband and their whirlwind romance spanning several years and half of Southern Ontario.

I read it, and honestly, it's a romance. The first I've ever read, so I have no frame of reference. After the first 50 pages or so, I was able to get into the story since it got past the trembling-caresses-and-voices-husky-with-desire part. Then there were the actual “love scenes.” I skimmed over those. They are friends of mine, and there are certain visuals that I just don't need. I got especially interested when Andrea & I were mentioned. That's right, your truly has a cameo in this book. Andrea has been friends with her for years, and she and her husband have become dear friends of mine as well.

I's called “Victoria's Got A Secret.” If I tell you what the secret is, it won't be much of a spoiler, since it's on the back-cover blurb. She is Victoria Sinclair, the first anchor of the Naked News. This isn't your average internet undressing affair; it's a classy, intelligent program. On Tuesday, as part of the A-Z Blogfest, I will be having an interveiw with Victoria Sinclair right here, so be sure to tune in!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The New Focus

Yesterday, I posted about how the Occultism of a hundred and twenty years ago reflected psychology. Modern books and documentaries reflect the new science of our day, and I'll bet that you know just what I'm talking about.

Have you seen “The Secret”? For those who haven't, it relies on the Hermetic “Law of Attraction” to make the point that we all attract our situations to ourselves through our thoughts and moods. Honestly, it doesn't serve as more than a conversation starter. It's a gateway to esoteric topics. A much better movie along those lines is “What The Bleep Do We Know?” staring Marley Matlin. There's a lot more focus on the science.

Quantum theories of the last 50 years have focused on the connectivity of all things, with experiments on split atoms and how one will react to the stimulus of the other, even over a significant distance. There is also the phenomenon how the smallest units of matter that are observable will be either a particle (matter) or a wave (energy). The crazy part is that it becomes matter when it's directly observed, making it merely an energy pattern when it isn't observed, like the tree falling in the forest that no one hears.

How this relates to Occultism is that we can alter reality with our focus. Therefore, by being aware and deliberate in our focus, we can be better able to influence our circumstances. But here's the rub: it takes a lot of work to be that aware. One method I've heard is to choose a daily activity and just be present. For example, when I'm shaving and brushing my teeth, I focus on the feel of the razor, the smell of the shave gel, how the temperature of my skin changes when I splash the water on my face, etc. After doing this for awhile, I'll notice throughout my day how random thoughts pop up, and spot patterns, both helpful and detrimental.

This has already gone on longer than I meant to, so I'll go post now. Tomorrow, I have an announcement about my first interview, and whether you know her or not, I have no doubt that many of you will be interested!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Early Psychology, or Much Older?

Like many religious/spiritual movements, Occultism manifested as a reflection of it's time.

The Occult movement of the late 1800's and early 1900's borrowed heavily from psychology. When they wrote of learning astrology, it was with the understanding that planetary associations were models of psychological traits and states. Indeed, everything that they studied – qaballa, alchemy, or tarot was understood through this filter.

One of the primary aspirations of the rituals was knowledge and conversation of your holy guardian angel. This was interpreted as coming into contact with one's inner genius, or higher self.

At the time of the Spiritualist trend, psychology was a new discipline, and like all things new, it was attractive to intellectuals. At the time, many of the British educated class found a lot charm in Occultism. It related to the Spiritualist trend, without the stigma of the mediums and palm-readers. The latter would have been seen as soothsayers to the superstitious, whereas occultism was seen as a self-driven act of psychic ascension.

Since the Occult sciences fit so well into the psychological models, it's easy to believe that earlier practitioners really had an understanding of the human mind, and the manipulation of it. But this is what I want to believe, so I'm inclined to be extra-critical, so as not to get emotionally swept away by facts that may or may not fit the beliefs. At the end of the day, Alistair Crowley said it best: “The truth of the myth is not so important as the affect the story has on the believer.”

Another Scary Word.

At the beginning of the A-Z Challenge, I wrote of a commonly misunderstood word, “cult.” (Special thanks to Dark Mother Goddess for the extra clarification) Even more misunderstood is the term “occult.”

It means “Hidden.” It really wasn't meant to be any more than that. In the late 1800's and the early 1900's, the “occult sciences” came into vogue with all kinds of “Spiritism.” These things included seances, near-death stories, and all kinds of related things. Most of the seances were faked with table-shaking and helpers that created effects. Oddly, the most famous whistle-blower on these charlatans was Harry Houdini. Really, who better to sniff-out such tricks?

The trend did allow for some great books to be published by the likes of Dion Fortune and Israel Regargie. Much of the Mystery School tradition was laid bare and the rituals became known, and their purposes. Much of the Masonic-based ritual that was exposed was shown to be solid methods of self-improvement. With the use of ritual, the conscience mind – the part that's always chattering away – is by-passed, and the goals of surpassing your base nature is ingrained into the deeper parts of the initiates mind.

This is the nature of Occultism. To condition your mind with what you choose, and not what's dictated by your native culture.

Occultism has been misused for mind control through isolation and sleep-deprivation by all kinds of dangerous cults. If anyone you know is in a group that encourages late nights, early mornings, and a lack of communication with family, STRANGER DANGER!!! There are bad guys that use occultism, but they also use electricity and toasters.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dark side of the coin

Yesterday, I was discussing with my wife and our friend Michelle how I had to do “N,” and I was a little tapped for ideas. In unison, they said “Narcissistic.” Time for some soul-searching, methinks.

But enough about me (See! They don't know what they're talking about). One of the most important things to get right in fiction is the nemesis. If the hero isn't sufficiently challenged, they aren't very heroic, are they.
Let's take the Joker. I've heard his motives described as chaos for chaos' sake – pretty two-dimensional, but he's such an eccentric and unpredictable character that we like to see him succeed from time to time.

One of my favorite's was Magnito from the X-Men. He was friendly with a protagonist, Xavier, and his motives were understandable. (having seen his parents hauled-off by Nazis, he was deeply suspicious of the government's treatment of Mutants, and fostered an uprising. The villains weren't bad for the sake of being bad, they were scared and defensive, and who can't relate to that?)

Of course, if I didn't mention Darth Vader, you may think that this was plagiarized or guest-hosted. In the first movie, he pretty-much got by with being a big, dark, raspy robot/monster. His motives of “retrieving those plans” served the episode, but not the character, but he mirrors the hero in his access to magic (there aren't many Force-users in their world) and magical weapons (there seems to be three people in existence with Light Sabers; two by the end of the movie).

Who are your favorite Nemesis', and why?

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Asides from the cold weather and bi-annual elections, this is something we Canadians need to put up with. I'm curious as to whether other cultures and countries find this as well.

In the two instances where The Simpsons portrayed Canada, they drew from the encyclopedia of cliches. (for the younger readers, and encyclopedia is a collection of books that served as an Internet version 0.5) But that's a cartoon, and it supposed to be ridiculous.

If you caught the last episode of Bones, you may have seen the Canadian forensic podiatrist. True to form, he was mild-mannered and non-confrontational. Now, I am much the same, until I can argue in an academic way among friends, but my wife was nearly crawling through the screen to set those producers straight. There are plenty of Canadians who will pick a fight, and I went to high school with way too many of them.

My least favorite, however would have to be Rodney McKay from Stargate Atlantis. Always sulking and complaining, all with a Canadian flag on his uniform. What really frosts me about this is that the show is produced in Canada.

How about you? Are there national stereotypes that piss you off?

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Legacy

This one will be a little easier, more of an opinion than research.

It's only natural to consider one's legacy. When I was younger, I wanted to inspire people to consider the big questions. What is the nature of belief and our Creator? What are our leaders really up to (I read a LOT of conspiracy books)? And my personal favorite, What happened before our recorded history? I figured that if I made people consider these things, that my presence mattered.

I'll bet that you can guess how that worked out. Some people may occasionally like to bounce these ideas around, maybe over a few beers, but most liked their comfort zones for their day-to-day lives. Even the “free thinking” crowd (those who pass on de left hand side) could talk in circles for hours, but wound up back at their video games before long.

That's one reason I turned to writing. I can address these things in a fictionalized context, and either people respond, or they just enjoy a story. Either way, I've enjoyed presenting the ideas, and if I've entertained some people, well, there's something of a legacy.

In my day to day life, I deal with hundreds of people a day. Most of those interactions are pleasant, and if I can make someone laugh, I've spread a little joy in the world, and what more could I ask for than that?

As a parent, I don't consider it my childrens' responsibility to live out my dreams. I expect that they will find what's important to them, and live out their ambitions. I may feel differently when they're older, but today, I fully expect them to grow up to be autonomous. That's how I was raised, and my generation, and a few that preceded us, think that way in the Western World.

What do you consider to be your legacy?


Now, here's a tricky one. There is so much to Kaballah that it's hard to sum it up.
Firstly, there are two main branches: the orthodox Jewish version focusing on their holy books (which is popular with the California crowd) and the more English version In 1888, some London Freemasons formed the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Much of their work was based on the French researcher from thirty years previous, Eliphas Levi. They associated the Sepherot (“Emanations.” the circles) with the classical planets and numbered cards of the Tarot, and the Pathe between them with the mystical meanings of the Hebrew alphabet, and the Trump Cards of the Tarot.

The top sphere is the primordial energy – everything before it's anything. The bottom sphere is the manifest world; all that is perceived with the five senses. The remaining eight are the steps it takes to get form and definition.

The right side is the active “Male” side, and the left, the passive “Female” side. I effect, this can be seen as a complicated Yin Yang. In practice, I see this as an idea going through the stages of testing that it takes to become a useful product. For example, when writing, the right side is the brainstorming and being inspired (Force), while the left is the actual writing (Form).

In Blogging, it would be the posts that are the active/productive side, and reading and commenting are the receptive part. The more I participate in the community, the more visits I get, and the more inspired I am.

It took me months to get my head around these ideas, and that was with a basic beginners book, but I hope that I got the general ideas out there

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jam Tart

I was stuck on “J,” but when it came to me, it was so obvious.

My dad introduced me to the phrase “Jam Tart.” While they aren't my favorite pastry, it's such an apt phrase for how I'm doing on this Challenge. It means to drop the ball, or not live up to commitments. I must apologize to you all for not visiting more often. I could go on about how busy my toddler keeps me (I swear, I say “On you bum” to the little monkey dozens of times a day) on top of working full time, and the usual domestic duties, but I've said it all before. Oddly, it's busier on my days off, when it's just the two of us, but in the coming years, I'll be so glad that I invested the time. On the flip side, plenty of people have started and maintained writing careers while raising children, so so that tells me what I can do with my excuses.

A theme that comes up in several of the Podcasts that I enjoy is to treat your writing like a job. Don't jam-tart because you're tired, or you have crap on your mind – stuff that you wouldn't pull on your day-job. I'm inspired by this, but the first step of applying-seat-of-pants-to-seat-of-chair is the tricky one. Well, tricky may not be the right word (I obviously need the practice), but once I park it, I can get on a roll pretty easily.

In the mean time, if you're following and I haven't returned the courtesy, please leave me a comment. Sometimes, the link doesn't pop up when I click on the picture. See ya soon!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How Do You Avoid Stepping In This Mess?

There are a few taboos in fiction writing, but you hear a lot about how you should avoid the dreaded Info-Dump (and adjectives. I hate them so much!)

It's handled well, and it's handled pretty poorly. A popular method is the ignorant outsider. In the one Jim Butcher book I read, )Small Favor, from the Dresdon Files), I thought that the explain-it-to-the-outsider scene came off very well. However, when I read several Sherlock Holmes stories in a row, I got a little tired of Dr. Watson saying “Why Holmes, however did you figure it out?” It seemed to be his only function.

Another instance I enjoyed was (you guessed it) from The Empire Strikes Back. Early on, Han Solo mentions that he had to leave because of a bounty hunter he had run into. A colorful history is alluded to linking the first movie to the second, with a single line.

Another good example is in Tombstone, the Wyatt Earp movie with Kurt Russell. Arriving in a new town, the local law enforcement tries to recruit him (showing his well-regarded reputation) and he quickly and flatly declines, showing how tired he is of law enforcement.

How have you seen info dumps done well? How about not so well?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Thrice-Great

1.Tis true without lying, certain most true.
2.That which is below is like that which is above that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing.
3.And as all things have been arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
4.The Sun is its father, the moon its mother,
5.the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth its nurse.
6.The father of all perfection in the whole world is here.
7.Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great industry.
8.It ascends from the earth to the heaven again it descends to the earth and receives the force of things superior and inferior.
9.By this means ye shall have the glory of the whole world thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
10.Its force is above all force. for it vanquishes every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing.
So was the world created.
11.From this are and do come admirable adaptations whereof the means (Or process) is here in this.
12.Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world.
13.That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished and ended.

Here' another one that I didn't want to rush, but again, the days escape me pretty quickly.

Hermeticism stems from a document from the Middle Ages. It was attributed to an Egyptian priest, Hermes Trismegistus. The surname means “Thrice-Great,” implying that he was either the third incarnation of the god Thoth (or Tahuti), or because he was the greatest of all philosophers, the greatest of all priests, and the greatest of all kings. He is credited with teaching man the arts and sciences of medicine, chemistry, law, art, astrology, music, rhetoric, magic, philosophy, geography, mathematics and geometry, anatomy and oratory. Such tall claims make me think that one of two things happened; either they were referring to a composite character, giving one man credit for the accomplishments of many men, or that Hermes came from a more sophisticated civilization to share all of this with an undeveloped Egypt in antiquity.

Hermes Trisegistus is best known through a document that circulated in the 1100's that claimed to be translated from an Emerald Tablet that had been translated from it's original that was held by Persian Alchemists. It's alchemical instructions seized the imaginations of Europe's thinkers, and an early quote is still quoted by esoteric philosophers: “That which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above.” The idea that Heaven and Earth reflected each other opened lines of reasoning that inspires mystical reflections from then until now, as well as the admonishment to “separate the subtle from the gross.” He is widely recognized as the prime forerunner by Magi and Freemasons, and all manner of esoteric thinkers.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Do You Know About That

I'm a little late with this one. On Thursday, I worked until 10, then back at 9 on Friday (Thurs. before work, I had domestic duties. The home must go on...). I did not want to rush this too much.

Gnosis is a Greek word, meaning 'to know.' The Gnostic movement was named in early Christian history as a heresy, but it pre-dates the Church by many centuries. The basic premise is that God can be best known through direct mystical experience, and not through dogmas or institutions.

Allow me to present a parallel. Some of you may remember that I was going to audition for a metal band about a month ago. (they have since disbanded). I downloaded their album, and was familiar with their songs. (like a dogma). My friend – Kyle, the singer – provided the music for me to learn three of their songs. After I had learned them, I knew them; the notes, the structure, and the instrumental interactions that made the songs work. Knowing the music on this level was such a deeper understanding than merely listening and grooving- out. It was an intimacy.

In the Old Testament, “Know” was synonymous with sex, as in “Adam knew Eve, and they beget Cain and Abel.” I can't speak for everyone, but I've found that when I'm physically intimate, it deepens my understanding of a person. Even in my marriage, we have a more tangible comfort level when we're 'active.'

Much of the Gnostic literature speaks in parallels like the ones above. This is because until one has experienced a knowledge of the Divine through mystical experience, there is no way of communicating it. Likewise, once one has had a Gnostic experience, there is no word to describe it, only hints and inadequate parables. I have had some pretty vivid spiritual experiences, both within a religious institutional setting, and beyond it, but I don't claim to have achieved a Gnosis. To learn more, I can't help you, but it requires a lot of devotion and time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Force, Form, and the Sacred Feminine

The Sacred Feminine was all but lost for much of recorded history. It's a little embarrassing, as a man, how phallus-centric the world has been. As a friend said when we were speaking of cultural subjection of women, “if God made anything better (than women), He kept it for himself.”

Now, while I'm happy to say how wonderful women are, the point of the Divine Feminine has more to do with the abstract qualities. This can be easily understood from the agricultural perspective. The earth was represented by the Feminine, taking the seed (an obvious masculine element) and keeping it in the darkness to germinate until it's ready to face the world outside. There is an obvious parallel to an embryo when I say it like that.

I found this illustrated really well by the Chinese Yin Yang. Yin is the black, feminine half, and Yank is the white, masculine half (I remember this because “Yang” rhymes with “Wang.” Sometimes, it's helpful to be painfully juvenile.) I once knew someone who thought that this symbol originated with the American Civil Rights movement, but it has nothing to do with race. It also doesn't relate to the Western Black-Bad-White-Good that we see in cinema. White reflects the active like light. White isn't really a reflected colour, but the reflection of all colours. Likewise, Black isn't a colour, but the reflection of no light – absorbing it all.

This can be seen in how form is put to any desire. When I left High School, I had a desire for a career, so I went to college. I bet that many of you will relate that I was absorbed into the institution and groomed.

Likewise, when I want to write a story, it begins with a desire and a loose idea. Actually writing it develops it into a form that is recognizable as a story.

This is just how I'm wired, but I like to see things in this Force and Form perspective. It's more philosophic than religious, and it's an important element of the Mystery School tradition.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Essenes

I had a totally different plan for “E,” but when I went to look up it's literal definition in a Dictionary, I stumbled upon a better Idea.

Precious little was known about the Essenes until the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947, and that was from the Jewish historian Josephus. They were a Judean sect that were disgruntled with how the their faith was being practiced by the majority of their contemporaries. About 200 years before Jesus, they left their society and eventually began a community in Qumran by (you guessed it) the Dead Sea. They were convinced that the Messiah would arrive soon and smite their enemies.

It is theorized that Jesus' missing years were spent among the Essenes, and that they were deliberately not mentioned in the Gospels to protect their privacy. It is also theorized that the Freemasons emerged from the Essenes. Both Jesus and the Freemasons draw heavily from the Old Testament, so these theorists are bound to see connections. This as important point, that where information is lacking, people will project their own pet-theories onto whatever will validate them, especially historic groups.

Among the many scrolls that were found were several copies of the Book of Isaiah. This supports the theory they were early Kabbalists concerned primarily with mystic visions of the Divine Chariot, four heads (a man, an eagle, a bull, and a lion), and a wheel within a wheel. However, the Book of Isaiah also features many prophesies of a coming age of righteousness, which could just as easily explain the multiple copies of the Book.

What we know for sure is that they were an ultra-conservative group, escaping the taint of society. It is possible that they influenced Jesus or the Freemason's, but we must not mistake a good story for history.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Death and Rebirth

This is where it begins and ends. With the primitive cultures, they saw death and rebirth in the seasons. For the cultures of the Agricultural age, it was all about the crops. The death of their plants produced the seeds, fruits and vegetables that sustained them for another season.

The Egyptians were obsessed with the afterlife. A Pharaoh would spend his life making tombs and monuments to please the gods and ensure his posterity. A thirty foot tall statue would certainly make future generations remember them, until a succeeding Pharaoh disagreed with his policies and struck his name from all the official records.

In the Mystery School traditions, this is a very present principle. It's not about what may happen in an afterlife, or what could happen to the food supply. It's about what happens through the course of anybody's life. When a young person takes their first steps into a career or higher education, much of what that person was comes to an end. Much of the personality remains, but it has to mature, and grow into a state that's appropriate to an adults life.

When I became a parent, I had to lose a lot of my selfishness. Nothing obnoxious, but I would spend my days eating donuts and watching Next Generation and playing a computer game. Maybe throwing a little writing or guitar playing into the day. Now, I do diapers and pony-tails and play “Gonna-Get-You!” (it's really simple. She runs until I grab her up, then she giggles. I'm sure our games will get more sophisticated with time.)

It's not about what's occurred in history, it's about what's happened in our own lives every few years. We have to end former versions of ourselves, and begin anew. Grasping this philosophy can make the “death” phases easier to bear, knowing that a job loss or empty nest (or just a deep funk that doesn't seem to have any real cause) is a necessary part of the cycle.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Where Do You Belong?

Does anyone else get irritated with speeches or articles that begin with a Dictionary definition? It seems lazy and predictable; and I hate predictable. However, I believe that this word is in dire need of some clarification.
Cult: (from Latin 'cultus,' care)1. A system of religious worship. 2. devoted attachment to a person, principle, etc. 3. a sect.

Now, when the media mentions a cult leader, what comes to mind? Exactly what I'd think, I'll bet; polygamy and spiked Kool-Aid. But I'll bet that you're the member of a cult.

Do you believe in Democracy? Would you even say that you have a devoted attachment to the ideal? Busted.
How about the Yankees or the Raiders? Consider that, and compare it to someone painting their face and hollering in devotion to Krishna. Ring a bell?
Ever lost time in a hypnotic state on the Xbox?

And what are my cults of choice? The first one that comes to mind is George Lucas – he is a master of re-telling the classics, and he turned a raging success into an overhaul of the industry. If you've ever sat through the credits of a movie, or TV show, you're likely to see “Industrial Light & Magic” or “Skywalker Sound.” I would say that I admire his ideals, severely.

I also have a devotional belief in philosophical alchemy, metaphorically turning lead into gold. I fail miserably more than I care to admit, but I try.
Now, could Blogging be considered a cult? We're certainly devoted.

On a house-keeping note, there are a few new Followers here who A can't find through the link on my page (as in, I click on your picture, and there's no link). So if I haven't re-followed or even visited, please leave a link in my Comments, and I'll stop by shortly!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Here is yet another new idea that many are sick of hearing about. I first heard about Branding as a marketing term a couple years ago.

Here's how I understand it: It's how you want to be seen by the buying public, what you have to offer, and the style in which you're offering it.

It's not phoney, but more of a catered portrayal. One Podcast I listened to likened a writer's online Brand to how we would present ourselves at a cocktail party. We would be putting our best foot forward, and not whine about our bosses and hemorrhoids.

A few years ago, I was reading a book on Yoga philosophy. (stay with me here, there's a point to this)Coming from a Hindu perspective, it spoke of transmigration, or the soul's journey from one life to another. The point was something that all spiritual traditions agree on; that we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. The person that we think we are is merely a vessel that we use to interact with this time-space reality. It's like we're playing a character for a lifetime. That's what Branding reminds me of, playing a character for our public interactions.

A less esoteric example would be a rock star. Off-stage, Alice Cooper likes to play golf, and just be normal, but when performing, he's sincerely expressing and aspect of himself. How about a less extreme example would be no less appropriate. I'm not sure what The Edge from U2 does with his time, but it probably isn't typical Rock Star behavior. And Marilyn Manson? Well, he's a bit of a question...

How do you understand Branding? If a writer wants to write in different genres, should they adopt another pen-name like Nora Roberts/JD Robb?

Friday, April 1, 2011


Like last year, I'm going to use the opportunity of the A-Z challenge to write about some things dear to me, but don't fit into my parenting-and-writing motif. Many of these things are firmly in the category of Alternative Spirituality (Alternative to the mainstream beliefs, that is).

A prominent feature of the Mystery School Traditions is alchemy. What the classic alchemists endeavored to was the changing of lead into gold – this is the part that's familiar to most people. This was done by heating lead in special stoves that may have functioned like pressure cookers. Records of their success is spotty, and since the alchemists were sponsored by nobility, we can't be certain if they propagated for the reputations of the mobility in mind.

More importantly, it's been commonly interpreted that this is to be meant as a metaphor. The lead is said to represent our base nature, and gold illustrates our spiritual potential. Through the furnace (trials and hardship), we are able to turn our self-centerdness into something loftier.

Another function of the alchemists was tinctures. Loosely defined, a tincture is a solution developed by taking a plant and distilling it to it's essential elements. This was the birth of pharmacy. In this way, the alchemists also developed chemistry.

They are often remembered as crack-pots, but lets not forget their contribution to the world. Either way, the spiritual nature of alchemy is worth keeping in mind. I try to keep this in mind (with varying degrees of success) when things get tough.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Goldfish Experiment.

For those who are unfamiliar with with the Bloggers Crusade, this challenge is a flash fiction piece, where we all start with the same four words. After the first pass, I had to cut 18 words, and I'll tell ya, it was a great exercise in editing! So without further adieu...

The goldfish bowl teetered on the rail of the ship, and Peasolbottom the goldfish tasted freedom. The expanse called, and Peasolbottom dreamed of the freedom of the sea. But again, the person who put him on the rail caught the bowl before it launched Peasolbottom to his fate. The person laughed; he knew damn well that he was teasing him!
But then the miracle happened! Rope caught the man's ankle. As Peasolbottom met the sea, he realized that the water was different: salty. As his body rejected the environment, he heard “The captain's gonna kill me for losing Peasolbottom!”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Good news, and some absolutely gawd-awful crap news.

Well, there's good news, and there's bad news.
The good news is that I've already started on the A-Z challenge. Last year, it was a lot to do every night, and getting ahead of the game seems to be a good idea.

Sadly, the bad news abounded last week. After two visits to the hospital last Monday, Andrea miscarried. I guess that's why it's often said that one shouldn't announce a pregnancy until the three-month mark, but I'm sure you get how I was excited to share the news. The bigger problem is that I shared it a lot at work. When the pregnancy ended, I wasn't in a mood to discuss it, so I only told a few close friends. I just wasn't in the mood for a lot of “there, there”'s and platitudes. I only got those from one person. God love her, she was only trying to help. It got a little awkward when people would ask how it was going, and I had to tell them.

Something came into sharp focus – something I had no9ticed before, but had forgotten. People who complain a lot tend to have irritations. When I'm in traffic, I cuss and carry on like I'd lost my car in a game of poker. A serious problem tends to put it all in perspective. If a customer wants to be a dick because I'm in the service industry and they can get away with it through the holy rite of spending money, it still bugs me, but it's a lot easier to brush off now.

Has anyone else noticed that some serious shit has been happening lately? Asides from the REALLY serious shit in Egypt, Libya and Japan, a lot of large-caliber issues seem to be happening in the lives of individuals. Or is it just my imagination...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where I've Been...

It's been awhile. I wish I had a dollar for every post that started like that. I wish I could say that I was finishing a manuscript, but I've hardly done any writing at all.

Some of you remember me talking about the local band Breach & Entry. They have recently re-united, and they were in need of a bassist. I've been trying to throw my hat into that ring for awhile, but they were finally giving me some music to learn do a try out. (out of desperation, I think. I am a balding 36 year old, and they had tried three other bassists.) After a week of practicing, they decided to add their original bassist to the reunion. Honestly, it stings a little, but the singer is a friend, and I wish them well. That's where all of my free time went, and at this moment, I was supposed to be trying-out, but I'm writing.

I think it's better this way. I can write whenever it's convenient for me and my family, and I don't need to co-ordinate my creative time with other artists. Not to mention the creative vision – is it any wonder that most bands don't last very long?

This also frees me up to take a different position at work, since my current one lets me finish early on Fridays. (the rational being that I'd need to be free to play shows on Fridays) I have been working the cash registers for three years, but there's a chance to out to buggy's full-time. Yup, it's just what it sounds like: spending my days in the parking lot, bringing the shopping carts back into the building. It sounds horribly pedestrian, doesn't it? Like a job that a 17-year-old would have. But, I get a long leash, in that my every movement isn't directed by the supervisors, and most importantly, I get my head to myself. On cash, I need to be engaged in what I'm doing, or I make costly mistakes. In the lot, I can work on plot-lines, or just flake out! I hope I get it, it would take a load off my mind, and the exercise would be good for me.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pee and Lies.

Like a lot of parents, we thrive on routine. Bath time is at seven, then bottle & bed. As we're filling the tub, we get the humidifier filled, get the towel, and undress Chickerdoodles.

Like a lot of toddlers, she delights in running around in the buff. She jogs about, chasing the dog with all the glory of her freedom. But occasionally, the sound of running water affects her as it does the rest of us. Sometimes, she feels the need to squat and piddle.

Since her functions are usually (thankfully) confined to the diaper, she can get fascinated with her product. On Friday night, she left a puddle on the hall carpet, and was fiddling with it. Ew. I grabbed a towel from the laundry to deal with it, and Andrea said, “she gets upset when you interrupt her.” Ladies and gentlemen, my offspring. She did walk away, but she returned with a facecloth and wiped the carpet right along with me. That. Was. Precious!

Awhile ago, she peed on the linoleum in the bathroom. It wasn't funny, until she slipped in it. Even then, it wasn't until she was trying to get up and continued to slip, getting frustrated as only a toddler can, that I was truly laughing. OK, it isn't funny in theory, but honestly, she was minutes from a bath, so no harm done.
For many of you, this is a first, second or third impression of my site. Well, urine luck.

It took awhile – about a week – but I finally got to Following all of the Crusaders. I fear that I still only have a limited amount of time to surf, so my apologies if I'm not by as often as I like. But a HUGE thank you to everyone who came by to Follow me! You're all more awesome than bacon-wrapped scallops, and I think that whoever invented those should get a Nobel Prize!

For the First Crusader Challenge, I had to do a Search on “Bloviate” and “Fuliguline,” as neither were in my Dictionary (the 3D, certifiably dead tree variety). I found “Fuliguline” to be a Sea Duck, so I told of when I proposed, there were ducks nesting at the waterfront – all true. But my city's waterfront is on a lake, not a sea, so that was my lie. Not the Bon Jovi part;I really do have a soft spot for them, though I can't listen to that many ballads in one sitting. I was more interested in astrology a few years ago, but it's still at the back of my mind when I learn someone's Birthday. So, like a lot of you, my “lie” was an insignificant detail in the true tale.

Monday, February 21, 2011

First Crusader Challenge

For your reading pleasure, I present the first Crusader Challenge. My word count is running a little long, so I'll jump right into it.

-I've got a soft spot for Bon Jovi. I don't listen to them much, but when I first heard “You give love a bad name,” I'd only listened to Top 40, like most 12-year-olds. I thought “This is metal! But it's pretty good!” It opened up a whole world to me, and much of what I listen to now is on the heavier side.

-When I proposed, it was at my town's waterfront, and it was quite appropriate to find a family of nesting fuliguline by the pier.

-If I can, I interact with people with their astrological associations in mind. The night before my first date with the woman who would become my wife, I looked up the attributes of Pisces and her Chinese attribute, Rabbit.

-In many social situations, I can be pretty quiet, but when I get a little polluted, I tend to bloviate like there's no tomorrow! When I've had a third beer, those who know me (see: Wife) just settle in for the twenty minute rant.

-I asked my wife about a “Best Character trait,” because I'm not sure what's a great trait, and what's irritating. She mentioned my thoughtfulness. Well, I am a “Karma Junky;” “doing unto others..,” and all that. At work, I move like a rabbit on Red Bull, 'cause others are waiting, and I want to keep the flow of customers moving.

-One of my favorite things in the whole world is religion. I find it to be a fascinating way to relate to a culture, to see how they relate to the eternal and the Divine. The variety of perspectives can give endless insights into the human condition, though I resent how dogmas have been spread with force and blades.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Sweetness.

JC Martin at The Fighter Writer has kindly awarded me with the Irresistibly Sweet Award. The rules are

1. Thank the one who gave you the award (Thanks JC, that's awesome!)
2.Award five Bloggers that you've recently discovered. Sadly, I've recently discovered over 200 through Rachel Harrie's Bloggers' Crusade, and I have LOTS more to Follow, so it's taking up a lot of my computer time. I'm afraid I'll have to pass on the nominations until I have more hours in the day.
3.List seven things about yourself.

Alright, here goes. First, my wife has recently acquired a Super Sniffer, and with her new enhanced sense, I need to shower TWICE a week!
Second, Rach's Crusade has me Following more Blogs than I can regularly Comment on, so please forgive my sporadic appearances, but really, 200+? That's a pretty tall order.
Third, I have a designated driver for the summer, but if I abuse it, I'll wind up with a black eye and a limp.
Fourth, I may be joining a local Metal band soon, but at the moment, it's a big “We'll see...”
Fifth, There will be a lot more Decaf coffee in the house, and a lot less pop, due to a short-term caffeine intolerance.
Sixth, We will be preparing a new room for Snookerdoodles over the summer.
And Seventh, just in case you haven't put the clues together:


We found out EXACTLY two years after we found out about the first, Feb 4th. (Cool, eh?), and we're pretty excited. We've been trying for a few months (and a couple times since we found out, just to be sure), so it's quite a relief. Doing this with a 2-year-old in the house will be quite the challenge, but millions have done it before, and if (did I really say “if”?) it gets overwhelming, well, that's why God gave us grandparents!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Have a Lovely Day.

Happy Valentine's Day, one and all! But is it happy for you all? I remember just how miserable it can be for single people. If you're having a miserable day, for God's sake, find someone to talk to about it! If you need a night to get wasted and vent about how awful the other gender is, so be it. And let me apologize on behalf of Western Culture for rubbing all this sweet stuff in your face. If it's any consolation, there will be tons of cheap chocolate available tomorrow.

We're not doing much today, 'cause we're both working. So I made a special dinner last week to surprise her on Wednesday. Ta-Daa! Including chocolates, and all the trimmings. The only snag was that the Lemon Garlic Lamb wasn't ready until 45 mins after the potatoes and veggies. Oops! Fortunately, I also has a pretty spiffy cake, so that made it all better. Then on Sunday night when I got home, Sweety had chocolates, a card, and a bag of Starbucks Beans – MY FAVORITE! And a wonderful Chicken Pot Pie to boot! We decided not to exchange gifts, because we both have Birthdays in March. We're not even doing much for those, since we're putting a new floor in our living room and dining room this weekend. Well, me, my dad and a couple buddies are, Andrea's taking Chickerdoodles to best friend's house, so we can work. I'll bet you know how kids are when there's a parent available who isn't really available; it's all they can think about, am I right?

We did have our night out, though. We went to a local place called Crazy Fox Bistro. If you're local, I'd highly recommend it! Then we went to see Just Go With It. Usually it's the kind of movie that makes me say “I'm sure that you and Michelle will really enjoy that!” But hey, it's Valentine's Day, and it's an Adam Sandler movie, so it was pretty good.

Hope that ya'll are having a great day! Spread some love, in whatever kind of relationship you're in!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How do you handle your drafts?

Wow, look at us go! Did you have any idea that this Crusade would have such an impact? Well, some of you did this last year, so I'd imagine that you did, but I'm surprised. I've got 11 new followers in half a week, and I've found some great Blogs.

So, since there are so many writers here, I've got a revision question. Here's how I understand the process:
First Draft: Get it all out there, considering only the main points. “Letting the children out to play.”
Then you shelf it for a while, I've heard two weeks to six months.
Second Draft: Plot considerations. Making all of the Plot Arcs and Character Arcs make sense and co-ordinate. “Sending the kids to school.”
Third Draft: making the writing good. “If you meet an adjective on the side of the road, kill him.” Trading good word choices for perfect ones, etc.

After that, it's time to take it to critique groups and Beta Readers, and eventually, agents.

That's how I've come to understand it from the hints and partial revelations from more successful authors who Blog. How do you understand the process?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bloggers' Crusade

One of the Podcasts that I subscribe to – Adventures In SciFi Publishing – has a quote at the beginning of each episode; something like “you should not begin a new project unless it scares you a little.” There's a wisdom to this. I learned from public speaking that if you're nervous, it shows that you care about what you're doing, and that will be obvious to the audience. When someone speaks to an audience without such fear and concern, it will show, and the audience won't be any more interested than the speaker is. Zzzz...

So what's scaring me now? A Crusade. Rachel Harrie over at Rachel Writes is hosting a Blogger Networking event. Best of all, contributors will be categorized by genre. Is this a good thing? That depends. I like to see what others in my genre are doing, because it's good for honing my craft, and networking. It also familiarizes my with the publishers and agents that are more likely to represent the kind of work I'm producing.

On the other hand, most writing has something I need to learn. I'm not writing romance, but if there isn't any in my books, I'm neglecting a big part of the human experience. I'm not writing mysteries, but I have a lot to learn about suspense, and making the reader want to keep turning those pages.

The scary part is the time involved. We're all following a lot of Blogs, and finding the time to read & comment can be daunting, especially with the rest of life calling for attention. I often remember something Donald Trump wrote in Think Big and Kick Ass (it got re-named to “Think Big” when the sales were disappointing) If you really believe in what you're doing, then you should have no problem finding at least two hours a day to contribute to it.

We all still have a lot to learn. And many of us would like to continue using our platforms to network. Rachael has provided a great opportunity for us, so if you're so inclined, swing on by and join the Crusade!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Small Print Piranhas

The other day, I was listening to my favorite Podcast, “I Should Be Writing,” and the host, Mur Lafferty was talking about something really scary. Naturally, I said, “*gasp* I need towarn the masses!” By “The Masses,” I'm referring to the dozens of you who stop by here regularly ;)

She spoke of a contest that's preying on writers. In the fine print, it's stated that by submitting your work, you forfeit your copyright to the work. So if you don't win, they can still use your story in whatever fashion they so choose. AND, if you sell it elsewhere, they can sue you for the profit, as the rightful copyright owners. SINNERS!

And, just in case your ass isn't hurting enough from this deal, there's a submission fee for the contest. Can you believe the gall of these bastards? Legitimate publishers don't even ask for such fees! Legitimate contests might ask for submission fees, but they aren't requiring your copyrights!

I kinda wish that she had named these perpetrators, so I could metaphorically drag their asses through the streets.

So read all the boring fine print. It's painfully dull, but it could save you a lot of grief.

On a lighter note, I'd like to share a conversation that I had with my wife. She said something about the book she was reading, a vampire romance (not THAT one. She's already read the Glitter thing.)

ME: I thought that it was just a standard romance.
ANDREA: It's called “Blood Born”
ME: I didn't see that. I was distracted by the guy's pects.
ANDREA: wide-eyed, laughing in disbelief
ME: Well, they're damn near boobs!
ANDREA: I don't know who that's homo-erotic for, you or me!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fact, Belief, and a NaNo update.

I have a new friend. Well, he's a guy from work, and we've been chatting casually for about a year now, always with the closing statement, “we've gotta get together sometime.” But, as it happened, 'sometime' was a long time coming, because 1) I'm naturally introverted, so on my days off, I tend to close the curtains and screen my calls, and 2) me growing family leaves me with my hands full.

Twice this year, though, Thomas and I finally got together. He plays guitar, so I brought my bass over, and we played with some of the stuff that he's been recording. The second time, we went to visit my drummer buddy, and THAT was a rip-snorting good time!

We have also read a lot of the same conspiracy books, so we'll go off on those tangents for awhile. Eight or ten years ago, I was chin-deep in that stuff, not so much the moon-landing-and-Roswell stuff, but more of how the few controlled the many through pyramid structures. For example, if a dozen people in the banking industry and the National Treasury's are all in the same clubs (like the Bilderberg Group), then they can have a wide-reaching influence on how the world's financial future will go.

There is tons of evidence that points to this, but it's mostly circumstantial, and sketchy testimonies. This all makes sense, because if there's a conspiracy, then they'll cover their tracks and intimidate witnesses. If there isn't one, then there will be nothing to find.

This led me to learn to separate facts from speculation. FACT: We have less than
10 000 years of recorded history. FACT Multiple civilizations show that they knew more about astronomy and engineering (ie, many Egyptian structures) than their primitive contemporaries. SPECULATION: Atlantis, or possibly alien astronauts, or both influenced the course of history.

The conclusion that I've come to is that I'll probably never know for sure what happened in pre-history. When I made my peace with that, it was extremely liberating. I can believe whatever I want, knowing full well that I don't need to prove it to be The Truth.

Which brings me to my WiP. I'm writing a novelization of some of these theories, and Julie asked me in the comments of my last post how my NaNo project went. Well, I hit the 50 000 words on time, but it was far from done, so I'm still plugging away at it. Yesterday was my best day this year so far: 838 words. I just may make my goal this week. Most of my reading is on writing (Blogs, magazines, and a great book by Chris Vogler), not to mention my beloved Podcasts, so I've really got a fire in my belly to get this happening.

Wow, that was a lot of tangent to answer that question!