Sunday, December 26, 2010

in excess

Oh wow, I’ve just been having a blast the last couple of days.

This Christmas season has touched off all the right nerves in me I guess. My daughter also mentioned that this was her best Christmas too.

But, I’ve also eaten too much despite my iron will to stuff in less than one metric tonne of treats per day . . . I’ve failed there.

And last night was the crowing touch on consumption. We had a couple of our long time and just plain awesome friends over for dinner. I made (with our guests copious help) my famous (well, in my mind anyhow) perogies complete with crisp bacon, savory onions, salty salt pork and masses of sour cream.

What can I say except . . . jeans do not stretch nearly enough . . . bring back the eighties and spandex pants, please. There were tasty greens as well in the form of a salad our guest brought with an incredibly tasty dressing.

Dessert . . . um, not so much.

This is not to say there was not a lot to choose from, more to say that most of us were so stuffed from perogies and greens that the thought of eating dessert was just silly . . . even if some of them were wafer thin. I did notice a few hands reaching into the Popycock crock later on, but they were not my hands.

Afterwards we played a few games of Pandemic . . . and had our diseased butts handed to us in a Petrie dish, every time. Is this game supposed to be winnable?

So, since yesterday was taken up with food prep and guests I never really got a chance to goof around with my Christmas presents which include Music Maker 16, my new music creation tool.

Yeah, today I’ll be grooving with the new computer toy, and reading the new books I received, and hanging my Harry Potter calendar up . . .what? . . . Emma is Hot! . . .

Since this is the last post of 2010 I must conclude that I did not reach my writing potential in 2010, but I did finish off the short story I was working on last week and it’s in the final stages of massage. As a matter of honour I will have it sent off before 2011 to find a magazine to live in.

And next year should see me getting a move on more shorts and maybe I’ll have some publishing credits to share with you, just like in the old days. My plan still holds at one short story and one tune per month . . . though this month, with the learning curve on the new music creation toy, I may not produce a musical creation.

Well I have so much fun stuff to get to I’ll just leave off now and proceed to indulge in my hedonistic orgy.

I must be careful not to get too excited though for fear of a heart attack . . . yeah, I’m getting to that age and last night’s feast blew the roof clean off consuming safe levels of cholesterol, fat and calories.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, December 19, 2010

crazy time

Yup, Christmas is just around the corner and things are swinging into high, crazy, gear.

The shopping is mostly done, but the baking remains and I’m doing daily exercises to get in shape for the huge batch of perogies I’ll be whipping up for ourselves and guests on Christmas Day.

I believe there will be quantities of bacon, onions and salt pork involved as well as many dollops of sour cream . . . oh man, I should have died from a coronary years ago . . . but Yum!

So, with all the preparations and Holiday rush, my writing has taken a beating, but I managed to do some quality editing on the short story this week. And I will be sending it out to find a home in some magazine before the end of the month, so don’t’ worry.

I got to thinking that I should be creating a song a month too. So, I still have another to do for December and I may even be able to do it with the new software if family obligations don’t suck away too many days post Christmas.

I’m putting together enough songs to make an album. It’s called “Under the See” and will feature aquatic named instrumental tunes. So far “Whale Dance” is it. There may be a Dolphin Disco, a Squid Shuffle . . . okay, I’ll stop before you hurl.

Anyhow, as this year winds down I find myself thinking ahead to 2011 and what I want to accomplish with my time.

The high level plan consists of producing one story (which will be sent out for publication) and one song (made for fun not profit) per month. That in itself will be a huge load of work. Also, I want to keep transforming the interior of our house into something adults live in and not a collection of odds and sods you would find in a university student’s apartment.

Yes, this will mean many more trips to the auctions to find those great (and inexpensive) treasures to help make our house into a real adult home. And soon (next Spring) we will be ditching our two vehicles and going to one.

The one will likely be a van . . .I know, I swore I would never get one. I also swore I would never have kids, get married or sing in the shower . . . my word is mud.

As the years go by, and times change, I find that a lot of the things I said in my youth come back to laugh in my face, complete with a fine spray of spittle . . .

Funny how, at my advanced age, I still find myself feeling like a twenty year old . . . at least in my head. The body has other ideas though. Bad, bad body.

However, my change of lifestyle has me finding myself in far better physical shape than ever before, so the twenty-year-old analogy isn’t too far wrong.

Well, since I slept in this morning (I really hate that) I’m behind on the day’s self-appointed assignments and need to rush off and get to them.

Lastly, isn’t 2010 supposed to be the year we make contact, with aliens? . . . I did encounter a few Mexicans in town this year during strawberry picking season . . . maybe that counts?

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, December 12, 2010

snow big deal

Well I woke up this morning expecting the outside weather conditions (based on ominous and persistent forecasts) to resemble a white out happening in the Himalayas . . . what I saw was light drizzle/snow and the square root of not much in the way of accumulation.

Yeah, okay then.

I’m sure a ton more is on the way . . . yawn.

So, reading night with our writing group was a success last night. There were plenty of high calorie and surgery goodness snacks and the stories I heard were up to the high standards I’m really getting used to hearing from our group.

My own story seemed to go over pretty well though I thought I projected and possibly gave away the ending a bit too much. Not so, said the listeners. Huh, said I. But that response from them was a good one and means I won’t need to agonize to much in subsequent re-writes before sending it off to be published.

The only recurring criticism, and I do take criticism well don’t get me wrong, was that I need to use pronouns more and lay off the given names a bit. It makes sense since the story only has two characters and they are of opposite sex. SO, a more liberal use of he and she will not produce any ambiguity.

Looking forward to tidying it up and sending it on its way this month.

And I need to say a few words about my LCD television. It has a built in DVD player which has a built in USB plug. I received a few episodes of a TV show via a thumb drive from a friend. They were in hi-def avi format.

Eagerly wanting to see these episodes I plugged the thumb drive into my computer and opened up Media Player. I got great sound, and absolutely no picture. It would seem the codec for avi was not loaded. I screwed around for a while (I’m on dial-up) and soon gave up the idea of a quick fix due to limited time.

Then I recalled that my TV has a USB plug in it. Hmm, I wondered and proceeded to plug the thumb drive directly into the TV’s USB port. In astonishment the TV read the thumb drive and displayed the video files for selection. I played the first episode and it came out crystal clear (since they were hi-def files) on my TV looking as good as any DVD I own.

Yes, I really am from the stone age since this technological magic had me mentally fist pumping the air and praising the age I live in.

Of course my daughter's reaction was, “ho hum, yeah Dad, like what’s the big deal?”

I had to give her the “in my day” speech again, but it was lost to her. She is definitely growing up in an age of wonders.

Well, back to the writing board and some needed revisions to my story.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, December 05, 2010

I am finished

That is it.

Absolutely done . . .

. . . with writing my latest short story!

WooHoo for me, and all that rot.

It’s been like seven years I think . . . well, okay, maybe seven months since I last finished a short story.

You see what trying to re-write a novel does for you when your heart and soul belong to the short story gods? So, now that I have it all written down, and have it partially edited, I’m raring to get down to the nitty gritty polishing, then send it on its way to a publishing house.

And how can I get so excited and all worked up without a master plan? . . .

. . . I know, I know, I’m always coming up with “another or revised” master plan long before the old one has gathered dust. Still, new master plans get me motivated, and so a new master plan it is.

My new master plan is simple. Write and send out one short story per month, starting this month, and running right through to the end of next year. Yup, that would be a total of 13 short stories which just happens to be the perfect amount for a short story collection . . .

But where does the music making fit in then? I’m sure you are asking that right about now . . .

. . . or, maybe you were thinking something else . . . like why doesn’t he stop changing his damn plans and just get something done . . .

Ahem, well then, about the music . . .

The music creation is more a noodling around fun thing for me to do and comes after my writing sessions are complete each day. When I get a new tune assembled I’ll post it up on the site and let you listen to it, share it, even send it off to the Pope, you know, if you so desire. Hell, he may even like it.

On the family fun front, today is put up the tree day. My daughter always loves this part of the year, even more than the presents. Go figure. It is fun though, I must admit. We usually play the Charlie Brown, Elvis and Bing Christmas CDs while we do it.

Well, there is much for me to get done this morning, thne I’m off to visit a sick friend this afternoon to try and make him feel a little better . . . by bringing over my board game “Pandemic” for us to play, of course.

Somehow I find this funny . . . maybe he won’t.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ctrl Alt Delete

Procrastination [Cental] (running)

(End Task)!

(Switch to)! . . . Short Story Writing.

This week has been a good one for me with regards to the production of the written word. I’m a scalp hair away from finishing a short story, one I started a while ago and one I really like.

I’ve been diligently spending every morning this week working at it and I don’t see stopping until it’s done and in the mail to some paying market.

It’s titled “Above the Crowd” and that’s all my mind will allow me to tell you about it right now. Let’s hope I can direct you soon to the magazine it will be in, if it can manage to find a home in one.

That said, I took a bit of a break from music making since last week. I dabbled a bit with the old music creation program but I know the new program is only a few weeks away so messing with the old cumbersome program has left me kind of waiting for the new one . . .

. . . if you follow me.

So, I’ve successfully managed to recharge my writing batteries by surfacing from the depths like a world war two U boat breaking the North Atlantic's surface and firing up its diesels . . .

. . . Er, um, okay, I admit it. The last dozen books I’ve read have been World War 2 history. You see, I got this entire Time Life Third Reich series at an auction a couple weeks ago, and well, I’m sort of addicted to reading them.

The series comprises 21 books chronicling the entire rise and fall of the Third Reich. Fascinating stuff . . . if you like that kind of thing.

And with regards to reading, I’m working on book number 60 right now for this year. Yeah, I know what you are thinking . . . more writing, less reading.

But I can’t help it, reading-like-a-lunatic is in my blood. Every so often I get into an uncontrollable reading frenzy and my mind must be fueled with words or grind to a halt.

On an aside, I’ve been having issues with the whole “novel” thing. I am, by my very nature, a short story creator and thrive emotionally and practically in that medium. So, that’s where, I’ve pretty much decided, I’m going to be spending my writing time.

I should have known the novel was not really for me, at least not right now anyhow. I’ve written two before the current one I'm bogged down in, and started, I think, four others before that. They all fizzle out and die eventually. Whereas my short story collection (finished I might add) hovers above the 100 mark and continues to grow.

And there is nothing wrong with creating and selling short story collections . . . is there?

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, November 21, 2010

dances with whales

Well, I’ve had an entire week since the last post to dive deep into my creative pool and see if there are any pearl laden oysters on the bottom, or just a leaking oil well . . .

Seems there may be one oyster down there still.

Yes, I composed an electronic tune this week.

Why?

Well, as much as I like a great creepy story or twisted TV show, I also am very, very fond of electronic dance trance type music in all it’s variations. So, what could I do except compose one for your listening pleasure?

Here it is just to get it out of the way so you don’t have to read any longer but can immediately sample the fruits of my labours.

It’s called Whale Dance . . . you know, dance music intended for what else . . . whales.

It’s about 5 MB and runs just over 5 minutes and is an MP3.

Whale Dance



Now some explanations.

This tune was composed on the cheapest, oldest, music composition program I think in existence: The MTV MucicGenerator circa 2000?

It’s limited in riffs but very easy to use. Surprisingly loaded with options and functions if you spend the time to learn all the ins and outs of the program . . . which I didn’t. Still, you can hear from Whale Dance that it’s not all bad.

And I have it on good authority that a much better program may be in production this very minute in Santa’s workshop . . . I am very excited about that!

So, what this all means is, as well as intermittently crawling along on my writing projects, I’ll also be conjuring up tunes to satisfy my inner creative being.

Hope you enjoy the Whale Dance . . . I’m sure there will be more to come in the future.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

deconstruction of reconstruction

When you are trying to remake yourself it’s vitally important to have a some type of a plan.

I’m very fond of plans.

Then again, so was Hitler . . . and we know how that ended for him, now don’t we.

It is said - I forget who said it though - that the only way to succeed is to fail as quickly as possible at something and then move on.

I’ve been so much less stressed the past year it’s hard to not sit back and smile at every opportunity and not strive to fail.

Like right now, behind the screen of my machine as I type away for my readership of two.

But what is success through failure anyhow, and how does one really achieve it?

Well, this ability is part of the inner you, or at least I think so. If you can look in the mirror and say to yourself, truthfully I might add, that you are doing well, then who else is around to contradict you? Who else really has the right, or knows your inner you better than your inner you after all?

Far too often we give in to peer pressures or the opinions of others when we should only be listening to what is going on inside our own skulls.

If you’ve had any kind of “normal” - yeah, bad choice or words but fitting - upbringing then you likely have a good grasp of identifying right from wrong and how to behave in a civilized society.

I’ve always put my immediate family first when it comes to any sort of priority scale. In this I have succeeded wonderfully. In fact, my no-longer-cube-squatting is a direct result of that choice. I always believed, and still do, that if you are going to have children, then you damn well better look after them and not pawn the job off to others.

Maybe I’m a control freak then?

You know who else was . . . um, never mind.

Let’s just say for the next while, with family first, I’m going to be exploring some creative options and see what comes of it.

Not painting though.

Just don’t do well with that.

Audio, video and written works are much more up my alley.

So, watch me go as I learn to fail faster than a speeding bullet, leaping tall things and moving mountains . . . or something.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, November 07, 2010

fixed and facts

Fact - I’ve not done much in the way of writing this week.

Fact - the negative charge on the electron remains constant.

Fixed - the link to my audio version of Kaylie’s Smile.

I’m most happy about that last one. You see, a long time ago there was this experimental book review site called Reader’s Den and it was the host of my audio version of Kaylie’s Smile.

That site died, oh, about a year and half ago. I didn’t get around to fixing the link until two days ago . . .

Um, yeah, a bit late. But hey, it’s now operational once more so if you want to hear me read my story then, well, you can. I may even be inspired to read another of mine and post it . . .

But don’t hold your breath, unless you can hold it for about a year and a half.

Oh, the link if on the right side bar under Kaylie’s Smile (audio version), you know just in case you felt like checking it out.

A quick psychology check here to see just why I remain reluctant to dive into the old writing thing with vigor. Let’s see. I am no longer tortured by an annoying, crippling, cube-squatting day job since, well, about a year and a half now.

What this has done upstairs for me is relieve the pressures of needing to vent in the form of fiction. Writing, I think, used to be a way to cope with the stress and annoyance of cube squatting in a dumb company manned by dumb executives. With that horrible mind-numbing lifestyle gone, I’m not in need of much venting anymore.

That’s how I see it anyhow. Of course, there may be a much simpler explanation. Laziness. But, I say in defense of that accusation, I spent four hours yesterday helping grade six kids with a bottle drive which raised over two grand, and working like a slave I might add. So, the conclusion then is that I can’t really say I’m lazy.

Unmotivated is what it is.

What does this all mean? Not sure at this point. I’m still, very slowly, working my way through the third draft of my novel and, very slowly, plugging away at the current short story I’m crafting.

Not sure when, or if, I’ll get the old inspiration back what with my new awesome lifestyle of NOT cube-squatting. I’ve certainly not stopped reading though. I just hit the 50 book’s read mark yesterday for the year with almost two months left to pile up a dozen or so more.

And hey, I’ve not missed posting each week this entire year yet either so . . . um . . . yeah . . . whatever . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 31, 2010

tricks

Holy crap, doesn’t NaNoWriMo start tomorrow?

I’m going to be participating this year, but not like everybody else. Instead of shooting for 50,000 words, I’m only shooting to make sure that each and every day I spend my quality morning time writing.

Yes, it does sound a lot like my regular routine. But I need the NaNoWriMo bamboo shoot up the chute to get back into the routine of writing every day. Seems I’ve been goofing off more than writing these past months, and that behaviour has got to stop.

I’m over half-way done a new short story and NaNoWriMo should push it to finished and then out the door to seek a home in permanent ink.

It would appear that this summer, with the whole family home, screwed up my writing routine. Nine weeks of trying to stay to form while the weather was nice and the family was all home was pretty much a bust.

But it’s getting cold out now, the deciduous trees are almost bare, and I know I’ll be getting out the snow shovel soon (groan) so I need to get back to producing copy.

It’s what it’s all about.

Oh, and happy halloween . . .

Did you hear the enthusiasm there? I didn’t either. I’m just not in the Trick or Treat mood this year at all. My daughter is pumped though and we are going over to a friend’s house tonight and walking the streets with the kids. Should be, um, cold.

I bought a new toque though which is very warm. I’ll break out my winter coat and mitts as well. I may even get out my long underwear.

Wimpy? Yes. But when you spend two or three hours standing on the sidewalk at zero degrees and ninety percent humidity (like just about every day of winter around here) the cold settles right down to the marrow of your bones.

And no, I will not be dressed up as anything except a trying to stay warm old guy street walker. Maybe that passes as a costume?

Anyhow, starting tomorrow I’ll be running with the NaNoWriMo pack once more, but for entirely different reasons than cranking out another novel.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

recovering and reloading

Well, am I glad that is almost all over now.

The cold-from-hell, that is.

It’s been a while since my body was infected by such a nasty bug. Hope it only happens once a decade or two.

Even today, after fighting the damn thing off all week, I’m still hacking up stuff and blowing my nose on occasion.

And, after cleaning out my drug cabinet, I found the cold medications I was taking had all expired about two years ago. Hmm, maybe that’s why they were not very effective in staving off the worst of the symptoms I suffered.

Anyhow, suffice to say little, as in no, writing happened this week except for an email or two.

I did manage to fire up some computer games though in between sufferings and did a lot of Wasteland searching in Fallout 3. I visited a good friend two days ago, I was ambulatory by then if just barely, and we managed a game of Arkham Horror.

We lost.

We played against the Ancient One: Shudde M’ell and were a bit hazy on the end game rules so kind of winged it. We had one character devoured right before the final showdown. Not a good situation to find oneself in. Despite our best efforts using dynamite, elephant guns and fists, we had the world come crashing down around our ears - literally - as Shudde M’ell is the giant Uber-Dhole.

Um, okay then.

Seems I could have managed some writing, but with a cloudy head and out of date drugs not doing what they should I just didn’t. Bad, bad me.

I promise to do better this upcoming week.

Oh, as a family, we did watch some more Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Hmm, the more I watch, the more I like. I must be weird. Fallout 3 and Sabrina . . . not really a matching pair of distractions, but there you have it.

Well, here’s hoping that next week I’ll have a short story update, as in I finished the first draft and am now polishing it.

But the same friend lent me his Orange Box . . . you know, Half-Life 2 and Portal . . . hmm . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 17, 2010

not at my best

I’m not going to complain . . . much.

Two days ago the plague-from-hell decided to take up residence in my body. Yeah, you know the one. Every time you swallow it’s like razor blades and rusty nails scraping down your windpipe.

And then, when you think you can’t stand it anymore, it mutates. Gone is the agonizing pain every time you swallow and you are somewhat releaved, but then comes the mucus.

Bucket loads. A house full of tissues can’t compete with your bodily production. So you resort to drugs - the stronger the better.

But all that manages to do is make you dizzy and dopey and want nothing more than to sleep. But you can’t sleep because every time you lie horizontal you are deathly afraid that mucus will envelope your entire body much like a cocoon scene from Aliens.

The worst is past though, for me. I only blow my nose once every five minute now instead of constantly. I’ve had very little sleep, and I’m cranky as all hell.

Best keep off my lawn today, unless you are there to rake leaves into compost bags.

See, the complaining is done.

But my short story isn’t. Turns out that, as it always does, it’s taking me longer to get it right despite knowing where it’s going and how it’s going to end.

And the worst part about this sudden damn affliction - I had to miss our monthly reading night which I was really looking forward to.

There was homemade pizza, lasagne and fresh-brewed coffee and well, just everything, or so I gleamed from the emails. One of our group finished his long short story and I really wanted to hear the conclusion. Virus’s suck.

Well, I’m able to function today at about fifty percent, so I’ll get to doing some work on my story and leave you to wander the web in search of real content.

And if you can help it, please try to remain virus free.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

turkey shorts

Seemed like the right blog post heading for today since, here in Canada, it’s time to gorge ourselves on turkey and stuffing once again.

Yes, I will be eating too much of it, but it’s only once a year . . . okay, twice for me since we celebrated it early with friends last weekend too and will be doing so once again today with relatives . . .

Anyhow, as I was walking to the bank (no, not to rob it, though the idea did cross my mind) I was struck by a lightening solution to the short story I’m currently working. Okay, maybe lightening is a bit of an exaggeration. It was more like when you wear a wool sweater and drag your socked feet across the carpet and then touch a doorknob . . . you get the idea.

So there I was working out some of the plot in my head, strolling along the sidewalk, and suddenly the solution popped right into my skull. If it wasn’t daylight you may have been able to see the lightbulb flash over my head . . .

Yeah, I was that excited about it. I am, by nature, a short story artist at heart. I’ve written so many of them (like over a hundred so far) and really love when a good one comes along. I think I’ve mentioned it before but the novel is like a huge slog-fest for me that never seems to end. Yes, I’m still plugging away at mine, but I’m more excited about this current short story for the moment and so . . .

And, once I properly polish it and then read it for our reading group for feedback, I’m going to try and get it published. I go through these bouts of sending my stuff out like crazy for about a year and then end up running out of steam and eventually stop. I know, Heinlein would not be impressed. It’s a lot of work to keep your stuff in circulation and let’s face it, once a story gets rejected many a time you do start to wonder about it.

Still, three published so far and that was really only from two bouts of sending out. Time for me to start a third round. No time like the present.

As for auctions, well, last night I picked up a wall clock for 5 bucks . . . It works too . . . most of the time. I may have to take it in and get it cleaned and oiled or something, but it looks cool, sounds cool and even chimes on the half hour and at the hour with the appropriate number of chimes.

Yes, I get excited over the little things.

Well, there is a story to polish, and books to read, and family to consider, and cooking to do . . . but the damn lawn is cut for the last time for 2010 . . . see, it really is the little things that make me smile.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, October 03, 2010

er um yeah

Seems that when I used to post a blog once-a-day I had more to relate than this once-a-week gig . . .

So, as I scrape the bottom of my cranium barrel for something, I’ll just start with the obvious - my writing.

Been doing it consistently now for over a week after the long lapse, and I’m going to make damn sure I do it every day for the entire month of October. Been flirting with the idea of doing NaNoWriMo again this year . . . but if I do it will be a limited thing, like just making sure I produce something every day for the month of November without the pressure of cranking out 50,000 new words. I know I can do that if I want, as I’ve done it twice before - it’s not a pleasant experience though and does lead to a bit of burnout come December.

As far a reading goes I’ve been chewing through books like crazy. I’ve passed the 45 mark already and don’t look to be slowing down much with three months left to go.

Reading is good for the writing. Don’t believe me? Just ask Stephen King and he’ll set you straight.

I am going to mention that at my age (somewhere between infancy and dotage) I’m slowly losing touch with what is happening on this globe. With dial-up internet and no TV hookup I get a very limited view of the big picture.

Not sure it that is a good thing or a bad thing. Likely better for me than not. Keeps my blood pressure regular.

Notice how I’ve avoided telling you anything about how my novel’s third draft is coming along . . . er, I have started a new short story though, and it should be ready for a read through come this October’s reading night.

So, the air is getting chilly in this part of the world and the furnace is actually running now as I type this, yes, before the sun rises.

I was hoping, against all hope of course, that my damn lawn would not grow six inches in the last three weeks with the cooling temperatures - but alas, it is not to be. I need to get out there, likely today, and chop the damn stuff down once more. This will definitely be the last mow of 2010 though - I don’t care what it does after today until next spring.

And I’ve gone to a few auction previews but have just not seen anything worth my time in the evening to stick around for.

Maybe next week’s auctions will be better. Still trying to find that 1937 Bakelite telephone . . .

And this ends the letter to my parents . . . geez, doesn’t it sound like it though . . . barf . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 26, 2010

trek to track

Well, that was one hell of an extensive pause from writing let me tell you.

So yes, I’m back at it once more with the intention of writing each day and not stopping again until Christmas this year . . .

That is the plan anyway.

And as we all know the best laid . . . yada yada . . . yawn.

You don’t need to hear me rambling, so let me just tell you a little bit about the PC game, Dragon Age Origins, my reward after writing each day. I need incentive to keep at it and an engrossing computer game fits the bill nicely.

Feel free to tune out during the next paragraph as I give a mini-review of Bioware’s awesome newish fantasy game.

Ahem then - Dragon Age is a mix of Baldur’s Gate 2 and Neverwinter Nights. Now this may horrify some and titillate others, but let me just say it is the best of both of those games done absolutely right. Very cool story-driven game with eye-popping graphics for the almost seemingly endless cut-scenes, complete with the best voice acting I’ve encountered in a game to date. There, nuff said. If you like epic fantasy games then this is the one for you.

Okay, I’m back . . . hello? . . . ello . . .llo . . . lo. . . o . . .

Um, so, with the shifting of my mental gears towards writing once more I find I need a bit of a plan to proceed.

Looking back at my old plan I seem to have tasked myself with writing twenty new short stories based on my detective series and my superherorine series . . . er, a very tall order by any stretch and one I am sure not to achieve this year.

The other master plan was to complete my novel and get it in circulation . . . er, well, I’m still working on it, and it will see a completion of its 3rd draft this year. I do take mental notes during our reading nights and these will help me for the 4th draft . . . which will likely proceed next year . . .

. . . novels are such unwieldy beasts . . . why does anybody torture themselves by writing them?

Well, enough from me this week as I get back into the swing of things. I think to start I will conjure up a new short story or two for October’s reading night. Afterwards I will proceed along the original flight path and hope there are no tall trees or mountain tops in the way.

At least I can see the track again as my lengthy trek through the void concludes.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 19, 2010

approaching the fall

Well, I’ve tried to kick my own butt several times this month, but I’m just not that flexible.

Seems I should be doing something called writing, but every time I sit down to try I, well, don’t.

I’m giving my rebelling muse until the autumnal equinox to smarten up, then it’s going to be toothpicks under its fingernails and flaming alcohol applied to its back . . .

Somehow the vacation I took at the end of August has slid far into September. The inspiration to write has sort of left me for the moment. I still have a hundred story ideas floating around my skull, but they are trapped there in limbo for the moment.

I suspect a day will come soon when the dam bursts and I spill out ten short stories in a couple of days . . . but for immediate now it’s just not happening.

I think there have been a few changes recently in my life which have caused me to get sidetracked. My wife has started a new job and my little girl is walking to school on her own and back and my parents visited for a week and I’ve started attending the odd auction to find cool old goods - all of this has made writing take a back seat.

Bad, very bad. But this week I did scoop a great manual coffee grinder . . .

I know, I should just buckle down and write every day, like Trollope instructs us writers to do from the grave.

I need to figure out how to reset the habit button, and unstick the snooze one, on my inner clock . . .

Never fear, I will get this thing sorted and my inner writer will get back on track soon.

And I do know that all this doing it stuff comes from the inner you. Nobody can make you do anything. The choice to do something comes from inside. Others can inspire, cajole, prod and poke, but never can they do it for you.

So I’ll keep that in mind as the sands pass through the hourglass and the time of the fall approaches.

The leaves are changing colour around here.

Change is inevitable.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 12, 2010

rehab and rehash

Well, the past week was pretty much a write-off.

Yup, not a word written, but hundreds, nay, thousands, perhaps even millions of them directed in and endless stream at my inner ear.

My folks were up for the week and I spend every day visiting them, and listening to them . . . rehash everything they said the year before and the year before that.

I do love them, and I thought I was a broken record, but wow, do they have deeply ingrained thoughts that just never change as the years roll by.

Funny how parents and kids drive us crazy . . . and to think, we are parents and kids as well and most likely driving our kids and parents crazy in equal measure.

So, this coming week is going to be all about rehab. Taking time to detox from the endless audio barrage, read some good books and ease back into the real world again.

Think I’ll take in a couple of auctions, maybe go out for breakfast with my wife, play a game of Monopoly with my daughter, fire up a computer game.

And to think, all of this will eventually come to and end . . . and then tears, and likely regrets . . .

Sometimes I think it would be easier to have no emotions at all . . . or just be a dirty rotten heartless scoundrel . . .

Hey, I heard that!

I may take offense to some baggy-panted teen moron crossing indiscriminately across my lawn, and want nothing more than to see the earth open up and swallow him whole, but I still have a small spark of compassion deep down inside.

I think I would have stuck it to Gollum though . . . that would have changed the end of that book now, wouldn't it have?

Well, as always, the damn lawn needs a mow and the house needs cleaning and . . . screw it, I’m letting it all slide for another day or two.

It’s always been about me.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, September 05, 2010

got conned

Well, as you know from my previous post I was off to FanExpo last weekend and pumped . . .

What a frack’n debacle and let down!

I really was looking forward to the visit a lot. I’ve had great times at all the conventions I’ve attended in the past. This one, or so I thought, would be more of the same.

Boy, was I dead wrong.

First off was the wait. And when I say wait, I mean WAIT - to the tune of just over one a half million yea. . . er . . . hours. Hard for me to even make a joke about it, because it was just so very wrong.

So, after suffering the cattle chute from hell we finally got to the box office to pay exorbitant prices for ourselves and our daughters . . . I know, why did we bring the kids? Um, because it was supposed to be fun and they may get a chance to see Captain Kirk in the flesh . . .

Boy, were we dead wrong.

Shatner was nowhere to be seen and the place was packed worse than processed meat in a peel top tin.

In fact you had to line up (no, not again!) just to buy a ticket so you could line up to see Shatner later in the day . . . WTF!

So, okay then, skip that noise we will check out some of the other stars there.

Off we went, at a quarter mile per hour because of the unbelievable amount of people sandwiched into the place, and finally got over to the signing area.

I was getting more hopeful as I saw Summer Glau, Felicia Day, James Marsters and even Ernest Borgnine . . . and that was about the extent of it. I saw them, from sixty feet away, and I wasn’t even wearing my glasses. They could have been cardboard cutouts, or Jim Henson puppets.

We chose a line that was not busy . . . okay, nobody was in it. It was for that guy that wore the suit for Chewbaca in Star Wars. What an ass! Sorry, but no other descriptor seems to fit. We smiled at him, said it was nice to meet him and our girls had just started watching the Star Wars movies and liked Chewbaca a lot. What we got was no return smile, a positively sour look and an aren’t-you-interested-in-buying-my-picture scowl. For twenty five bucks - you have got to be kidding me x-furball!

I was thinking, you know what Mister wore-a-suit-and-didn’t-even-say-one-line - screw you! And all the stars autographs ranged from 25 bucks up to 50 bucks. Give me a break!

Next Michael Dorn sitting there looking cool and smiling. A friendly guy. I told my daughter to go over and just say hi and that you liked him as Worf in Next Generation. She wouldn’t go . . . okay then, why again did I bring you?

We’re hungry was what I started hearing a lot of . . . kids, sometimes you wonder why you ever had them.

Let’s just wait in line for a few minutes and talk to James Marsters, Spike from Buffy. Wouldn’t you know it, just when we get near the front of the line, he up and leaves. WTF!

So, off to the food area with no seating and prices to rival the star’s autographs. Holy crap - five bucks for a watery hot dog in a rubbery bun! But, when you are with a kid crying out for food you have two choices. Shell out the dough so they clam up and stop irritating you for food, or have them work on you in child grumpiness tones for the rest of the day.

Out went the cash.

At this point, while the kids were chewing down food I went over to see Felicia Day, the only person I was remotely willing to pay for an autograph because as a fellow writer I was hoping she would sign her picture - keep writing - and I would be happy with that.

Guess what? - she had just left a few minutes before and was not returning because of work she had scheduled in Vancouver. Now this is no fault of Felicia’s, but didn’t I just endure over an hour and a half line-up?

That was about the extent of things and we left the star signing area. There was supposed to be the Batmobile and the DeLorien from Back to the Future there. So downstairs we went to at least salvage something of the day.

We asked a security guy where the cars were - he told us that they were through the glass doors yesterday, but looks like they are gone today.

We left - in disgust.

I renamed the event FanExploit since we, the fans, paid a ton of cash and go pretty much nothing out of the event . . .

The kids will likely never want to go to a convention again as long as they live - and I can’t blame them, I may not either.

Well, enough rehashing old miseries.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Caaaaaaaaawwn!

Today's title should be spelled Con, but if I wrote it out as Cooooooooooon, um yeah, you get it. See, phonics really doesn’t work so well for everything Alex.

So, today is my day to hit FanExpo in Toronto with my good and long time friend Joe, and get a chance to photograph and meet some really cool people.

Let’s check out a small list to see of whom I speak . . . is that proper English, do I care and why is it Special K anyhow?

Leslie Nielsen . . . I picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue!

William F’n Shatner . . . a legend that just keeps growing . . . bigger.

Felicia Day . . . fantastic actress and script writer and hence a real inspiration . . . okay, sorta freckley cute too.

James Marsters . . . Spike . . . do I really need to say more?

Michelle Forbes . . . Ensign Rho . . . Oh, and that Battlestar Commander bitch as well . . .

Bruce Boxleitner . . . Sheridan . . . Love me my B5.

Summer Glau . . . River from Firefly . . . I wonder how many hearts she’s terminated so far?

Michael Dorn . . . I am not a Merry Man! . . . Classic Worf.

Ernest Borgnine . . . it's frik'n Ernest BORGNINE! . . .

Okay, so I’ve spewed enough names to assure you it’s worth the trip into the big city to shmooze with the greats past, present and future.

So, with preparation still in it’s infancy, I must get ready to head out. I’m sure to do a Con retrospective next Sunday complete with photos and stories.

On Twitter I’ll probably put a few up tonight from the Con if you want to get a sneak peak.

Well, I’m excited . . . how about you?

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

home reno month

Well, since my writing efforts this month seem to have walked out the door, crossed into the middle of a busy freeway and been hit by a bus - I’m declaring August “home reno month” instead.

Works for me since I’m already in the middle of redoing my daughter’s bedroom in Banana Yellow paint. I’ve already put in new lights and finished the painting part yesterday which leaves the rest of today to install the baseboard trim.

What’s nice is that you can buy white PVC trim - which means no painting the stuff after installation. Sweet!

But, as I’ve worked the last four days on home renovations . . .that damn green stuff outside has been growing like a Brazilian rainforest . . .

Don’t worry though, home reno month is only going to last another week or so and then it’s back to writing and getting that novel done.

On a side note, I got a quote to re-upholster our old chair - can you say 600 bucks!

So, with that horrible quote, I’m going to do it myself. The material will only come to about 150 bucks or so and the rest is just manual labour. That leaves me 450 bucks or so to get tools, which will only be about 150 me thinks.

So, for only half the quoted price I will have a newly upholstered chair and a project to keep me out of trouble this fall.

I’m looking forward to doing it in fact and may collect and do other projects as time goes by. If I get good enough at it I may be able to make a buck or two . . . at least that is what I tell myself and it helps justify the buying of tools.

Well, the lawn and bedroom trim needs cutting, and time marches on heedless of my manipulations of the Chronos stone . . .

So, with that I’ll toss some fuel in my belly and get at it then.

Until next Sunday . . .

Monday, August 16, 2010

a weak week

I know, I know . . .

. . . missed it by that much.

So, it’s Monday and your were wondering if I died or left the country or just became too damn lazy to post yesterday.

Well, the truth of the matter is every spare moment I had yesterday seemed to be interrupted by a major thunderstorm, and I don’t like being online when Zeus is in one of his moods.

And so, today is post day instead of . . .

. . . okay, then, I think you got it . . .

As the post title suggests, this week was not stellar for my writing. In fact, I did absolutely no writing at all. My percentage for this month is going to bite like a rabid rottweiler.

I am a bad, bad man . . . but you already knew that.

Since I had such a bad start to the week, I decided to declare the entire past week a vacation week - and so it was.

I did manage to go to two auctions though and acquired one pure awesome piece of history. I can’t reveal what it is for a few weeks, but let me just say I scooped it for very little and the cheapest one I’ve seen for sale since was selling for six times what I paid - and mine is in near mint condition, better than the other ones I’ve seen.

Don’t you just love when I get all cryptic? I’ll just say it’s bigger than a breadbox and smaller than my house . . .

. . . hey, calling me that hurts my feelings . . . what, I do have feelings . . .

I can tell you though that I picked up a coffee table for 10 bucks. Yeah, 10 bucks. It’s a queen Anne style dense particle board walnut veneer unit which looks very cool and fits in perfectly with our queen Anne style chair. Today I’ll be reconditioning its wood veneer and making it look like a 100 dollar coffee table.

How dumb I’ve been these past twenty years buying anything at a department store to furnish the house. Dumb, dumb, purebred Dumb Dumb.

Now, before you think I’ve totally lost it and have become hopelessly addicted to the whole auction thing, let me assure you I have some very specific items I am collecting to turn the family room into a 1940s lounge.

As for doing this auction thing for profit . . . that will come a bit later, once I learn how to properly recondition old stuff and do a good job of upholstery. Hey, a guy can only write so much every day before he needs to get physical . . . er, you know what I mean.

Well, I’ll try not to fake you out next Sunday, but as much as I’d like to, I have no control over the weather.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, August 08, 2010

have a seat

Well, yesterday we found the chair we were looking for to help transform our family room into the 1940s decor we desire.

And yes, we found it at a yard sale.

Before you think I’m becoming a junk collector (I already have a book collecting problem) I’ll just say that, er, well, um . . .

. . . okay, maybe I’m heading down that road.

All I really need is dirtier clothes, a bric and brac loaded shopping cart and to start mumbling to myself in public to complete the picture.

But, back to the chair.

I can’t quite date it exactly. It has a solid wood (oak I think) frame and butt-ugly upholstery.

We are going to have it re-upholstered. Beside’s the gross and worn current covering, the chair is solid as a rock and very comfortable. I think it was built sometime around the 1930s. I have to do some more checking on it’s date, but so far finding it's match on the intertubes is a bust. The seller told me it’s 75 years old, which would put it right about the time frame I suspect though.

Whatever the actual manufacturer date we all like it (well, except my daughter who thinks it looks like a piece of scrap) and it’s style, in my eyes, just looks great. I just need to clean the exposed wood parts a bit and, like I said, change it’s diapers (so to speak) and it will be a jewel in our slowly transforming family room.

I’m off to a flea sale today to see if I can’t find myself a 1937 Bakelite phone, or a 30s desk fan, or an old floor model 30s radio I can fix up . . .

I know, I’m getting sicker, but this obsession is likely to wain at some point . . . I think they call it death.

Wish me luck as I gather goods, and be kind to that smelly, dirty junkman as he mumbles and passes you by on the sidewalk looking into the gutters for even more treasures to add to his ever growing collection . . .

. . . you never know, it might just be me.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Barbies 3

Yeah, I wrote Barbies, as in those dolls which have been around long before I was born even.

I seem to be the proud owner of three Hallmark Collector Edition ones in unopened boxes . . .

Er, how did this happen you say?

You would think it’s because my daughter begged me to get them, right?

Well, um, not exactly.

We checked out a few yard sales around the burbs yesterday and found a few items we needed. I got an angle cutter thingy (forgot the name) for making 45 degree angle cuts in wood - great for doing indoor trim of which I have some to do - for a dollar. Good deal I think. My wife picked up a ton of piano music (like 50 booklets) for a few bucks.

And at one yard sale there were these 3 Barbies on a table.

You see, the Barbies were sort of really cheap, new and in unopened boxes, and I sort of just bought all of them. They are Hallmark Collector Edition ones from 1995 and 1996. Yeah, you really needed to know that.

Now, I’m trying to resell them and make a couple bucks to offset the remodeling of our family room. I’m looking right now at trying to find an old bakelite phone circa 1940s, and old fan of the same era and I just saw a typewriter from 1949 for fifteen bucks I may go look at. These three items would be for decorative purposes and don’t have to work, but I do want a functioning mantel clock though from the period.

We did go and check out an auction in the local area but didn’t really see too much of interest. They did have an assortment of mantel clocks that may have been nice after a bit of work and repair, but we didn’t snap at any of them as none of them were precisely what we were looking for.

But I’ll keep looking and sooner or later I’m sure I’ll find just what I want for little money.

Oh, and as to the percentages, I hit 83% for July on my writing goal. Much better than the 69% of June, but still not 100%, which is the target.

I said it last month, and I’ll repeat it again this month. Next month I’m going to hit 100% . . .

. . . yeah.

Well, I should get back to my Barbies and finish up my writing for today so I can go check out that vintage typewriter and see if it’s salvageable as a display model, or not.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 25, 2010

getting conned

With all the excitement - well, maybe just for us Geeks - swirling around Comicon in California this weekend, I’m starting to itch rather badly to attend a Con myself . . . and soon.

Which is great because in a little over a month Toronto will once again be putting on FanExpo where tons of great geek attractions will be assembled for adoring Geeks. This ensemble will include some of my favourite geek actors and actresses too.

There are so many actors/actresses to list, I’ll just leave you to check the site out if you really need/want/must know who they are.

I’m taking my daughter this year. Should be a lot of fun, if she doesn’t complain too much about getting tired and mingling with the hordes and having to hang around Dad for a spell in public while I get my geek on . . .

. . . hmm, maybe I should leave her at home.

But, in the mean time, if you want to gear yourself up for attending an event then go over to Twitter, do a search on Comicon, and check out all the pictures being displayed by fans and actors and see if it doesn’t sway you to attend a con yourself.

Okay, so I said you could look up the FanExpo guests yourself, but I’m looking at the list now and getting pumped to say a quick hello, I like your work, and here is some chocolate because, well, it’s what I do for con guests, . . . . um . . . . just the females though, sorry guys . . .

So, the female guests I’ll likely be plying with chocolates this year will be: Summer Glau, Michelle Forbes, Felicia Day, and Joan Collins.

And the male guests I will not be plying with chocolate will be: William F’n Shatner, James Marsters, Leslie Nielson, and can you believe this - Ernest Borgnine!

I only go one day of this event, the Saturday. I get there early, spend the entire day sucking up the vibes, then I gather my digital pics and memories and head back home. And yes, the Sunday after you will be treated to my review of the event including pictures.

Well, other writing duties beckon, and I must attend to them now.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 18, 2010

anti-bore decor

Well, we are making the attempt . . . again.

Interior decorating, that is.

Something we admit to sucking at, but we are going to try following a suggestion from friends we talked with over the past week. It’s called going with what interests you and building a room around said interest.

So, we are picking one room of our house (our Family room) and trying to be more creative than just plopping down random on-sale crap from Ikea or Sears.

Yes, it’s a lot of work . . . but we have a cunning plan, one so cunning you could cut it with a knife . . .

. . . um, okay then.

The plan for the first room is to go with something of an interest to me.

1939 - 1945.

World War Two years, for those unfamiliar with those dates.

It all started with my Birthday present which was the famous (okay, maybe only to war buffs) painting by Clarke of a Spitfire. It’s a huge print measuring twenty four by forty inches and, if I may say so, it looks damn cool.

It will be the centerpiece which will sit above out fireplace mantle once it’s all plaqued. Plaqued means laminated to a piece of 1/4 inch thick particle board with a non glare coating.

I also got another print (twenty by twenty four inches) of three spitfires patrolling the skies above London . . . England, not Ontario.

Next I went to our local war book reservoir, which has literally thousands for sale, and found a Robert Taylor picture book. He’s painted many World War Two plane pictures covering every aspect of the air war during that period. All the prints in the book are eleven by fourteen inches and look great in plain black frames.

The frames all came from Michaels, and we got 55% off of them all which made the cost of framing pretty damn inexpensive.

Grant total so far is thirteen framed or plaqued pictures - it's kind of money we don’t really have, but the room will look so much better for it.

Other ideas for the room include collecting antiques (cheap auction ones) like an old 1940s phone, fan and mantle clock, plus a period sofa, chair and bookshelf.

Maybe we are nuts, but it just may be that we are on to something. So far all our decorating ideas have been a total bust. Our house looks like a warehouse sale collection of functional, and generally not very interesting, stuff.

Those making it to our next reading night will get to see the pictures at least and tell us if we are nuts . . . if I get ambitious I may even take some pictures of the finished walls and post them.

Oh, and my 1/32 tank model (a German Panther) sits on the mantle now too . . . my wife thinks it looks “cute.” Huh, a panther tank referred to as cute . . . may be the first time in history one was ever called such.

Anyway, my next 1/32 model project (I’m working on it right now) is a Spitfire MK 1a.

I like the theme and as long as my wife finds things “cute” we may have a winner for decorating that room. She gets to pick the theme for the next room after this one is done . . . I think it will be flowers . . . maybe poppies?

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 11, 2010

a little alliteration

say that blog title ten times fast.

So, um, here is a thingy I cooked up - part story, part flash fiction, and alliteration . . . maybe too much of it, but you be the judge.

Here goes!

.....................................................................

With the setting of the sun the last piercing cries of the murder died across the gravestones. In a hollow, amidst unkempt bushes and scrub grass, a lone grave, its shattered vitreous urn sitting askew atop an age worn headstone, kept silent vigil on a dank depression. This abandoned site, a long forgotten memory in the minds of men, was visited only by a few brave black birds, but one thin child kept watch nonetheless.

This lone figure, all humor long since purged from the depths of her sole, glided back and forth before the shattered urn, the contents of which had long since scattered and soaked into the sodden earth before the small leaning headstone. The breeze, scanty and feeble, could never hope to displace the cold, or dampness, or sorrow from this place.

Time lost all meaning in that hollow, and the moon came and went as it had throughout the seasons. The mists forever rose and swirled uneasily there. But not all mist is merely moisture. Throughout the long dark night figure and fog danced macabre while the moon watched with pale face and indifference.

Just before sunrise, this forlorn figure, weeping though never sleeping, studied the name on the gravestone nearly worn away now by the passage of time: Ellen Shale. It was a pretty name, her grandmother’s name and her own, for now and forever.

As the first rays of the stirring sun fell upon the cemetery, and the murder of crows were roused back to raucous life, Ellen silently faded away to once more await the morrow’s midnight moon.

.................................................................

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 04, 2010

month in month out

I figure, with the USA blasting their country to smithereens with firework displays today, it’s about time I gave a review and celebrate what I managed to accomplish in the month of June with regards to my writing.

Don’t expect fireworks though.

Maybe a fizzle, or two . . . or, most likely, a deafening silence.

Now, as you may or may not know, I endeavor to work at my writing every single day. I have two distinct writing sessions scheduled for each and every day, including weekends and holidays with the rare exception of my birthday which I do take completely off. This is background information to understand the number I’m going to post.

So, to keep track of how successful (in my mind) I was at keeping on task (grade school lingo) I have devised a quick and ugly formula to indicate how I did.

I simply take the number of sessions I actually managed to write and divide it by the number of sessions I was scheduled to write . . . and voila!

My number for June was . . . 69%.

Yeah, not exactly 100%, now is it?

What this means is of all the sessions I planned on doing, I managed to actually work only 69% of them . . . which means other things took the place of my writing the other 31% of the time.

I could come up with several excuses, but I’m not going to bore you with them.

Let’s just say that for July I’m at 100%, and hope (key word here) to stay at 100% for the month.

How I do for July will be revealed the first post in August.

Again, with the no fireworks.

In closing (don’t you like to know this is over?) I will say my reading is way, way ahead of schedule. I’ve just finished chapter 8 of 18 (may grow to more chapters yet) on my novel's third draft and I have one short story in revision soon to find a home at some lucky publisher . . .

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, June 27, 2010

persistency

So far during this revision of my novel I've added approximately eleven thousand new words taking it up over the 83,000 word mark. I’m almost at the half-way point, so this is good progress - as far as proper word count goes.

But it seems to be taking so gosh dang long to get finished. I work at it every day (well, almost every day). It’s such a different animal than the short stories I seem capable of banging out in about two hours, plus the necessary few days afterwards for revision and clean-up.

The novel seems to be like working on thirty linked short stories at the same time. Way more work and concentration needed to deal with that amount of prose.

Still, I’m getting excited about the prospect of doing a polishing draft or three after I finally nail down this, the third draft. I’m really hoping to have this novel polished and have ready for a buyer sometime this fall.

Then, it will be on to a bunch of half-formed short stories swirling around inside my noggin. I have one I’m polishing right now destined for Asimovs, but with the novel taking precedence, it’s more like tacking on another chapter to revise and hence not going quickly either.

I’ve come to the conclusion that writing and trying to sell your prose may be the hardest job on earth - even harder than scrubbing latrines with toothbrushes - and it seems slower.

Now, back to the trenches for me.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, June 20, 2010

day of the dad

It only happens once a year . . .

. . . no, not Christmas, or an 8.4 Richter scale quake, or some generous Bunny hiding chocolates . . .

I talk of Father’s Day.

And it’s here again.

Yes, I am a Father.

How do I like it?

Well, there is nothing like it in this world. It’s both the most rewarding experience of my life and also has created the most stressful situations in my life.

Both, extremely good for me as a writer, I’m sure.

Having a child forces you live life in a different way, a much less self-oriented way. I’m not arguing for, or against, having kids today here at the Emporium. I’m only saying the experience, for me, has been, and continues to be, absolutely fantastic.

There is something amazing watching your own child emerge from the womb, learn to crawl, laugh, talk . . . then talk back . . .

It’s all wonderful, trust me . . . well, maybe not so much the talking back part, but pretty much everything else. Still, the talking back part is only this little person you helped create coming into their own, gaining confidence, developing into the soon-to-be-adult they are meant to be and not necessarily the person you, as Dad, want them to be.

I always try to remember that for my daughter I’m coach, self-esteem promoter, helper, guide, disciplinarian, and most of all, unconditional love giver . . . In other words, Dad.

I wouldn’t change a single thing.

So, happy Father’s Day to all those men out there who have children.

I hope you have a good one . . . day that is, not child . . .

*shutting up now before I offend*

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, June 13, 2010

idiot

Well,

seems somebody doesn’t like the image of Bruce Lee on my outside light.

Last night, some idiot, took it upon himself, or herself, to toss and egg at my light, missing of course. It splattered on the outside bricks beside my front door, making, as you would expect, a mess.

Thanks . . .

Seems to me no matter what man, or woman, does there are always idiots out there who just have to try and make a mess of things.

I know, it’s the nature of idiots, but it still rankles.

Now, if I were to be annoyed by Bruce on a light outside somebody’s house, I would get much more creative than tossing an egg. How about drawing a mustache on with a permanent marker, or hanging a black belt across the light or any number of less destructive activities to make your point . . . if there was a point, other than advertising that you are and idiot.

Oh, it’s because idiots take the easiest, most destructive way being less than intelligent enough to think of something clever.

Probably the person that did it is also one of the ones responsible for toppling over gravestones in our town . . .

*Sigh*

On the bright side of today, we had a fun reading night again last night. The regulars were out and we got to hear more excellent works of fiction from all.

So, while some idiot was out plotting the egging of Bruce Lee, more intelligent people were indoors sharing their creativity with others.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, June 06, 2010

in the lee of the light

I’ve been waging a fierce battle all week - and it took Bruce Lee to help me prevail . . .

. . . um, maybe a bit cryptic?

Let me explain.

You see, our front porch has an outside light next to the door. It’s one of those look-like-an-ancient-torch deals, and it seems, it is the perfect place for a robin to build a nest in and lay eggs.

Now, you know I'm not cruel, but having a robin making a nest on my porch light is just not really a good idea . . . for the robin.

I like the bird, I really do. So cute, so red-breasted. But, um, we also have three big maple trees in our yard and our neighborhood is oldish with many a mature tree just crying out for a robin to nest in.

After three days of tearing down the nesting material (like every hour or so except at night when the robin slept) I knew where the saying, “bird-brained” came from. But, as a writer, I had to admire this robin’s focus, determination and drive.

But I knew I couldn’t spend the next week or so knocking down nesting material ten times a day, so I went into a quasi-zen state to puzzle out a solution . . . and after a few minutes, the answer was obvious!

Bruce Lee would know how to handle this.

It just so happens that we have a Bruce Lee calendar, and one of his images was from “Enter The Dragon” . . . three trademark cuts on his face in the room of mirrors. He is looking menacing and not to be trifled with. By the way, what a classic movie - go see it again!

Now I know the robin had never seen the movie (okay, I was assuming here), but that image of Bruce looking all scary should keep the persistent nester at bay.

All I needed to do was cut out the image, tape it up on the light and voila - robin took a hike, never to return.

Bruce Lee had saved me from a lot of future cleaning work.

The only down side, with Bruce Lee taped up on our porch light, is that our house now looks like it is lived in by a mental case . . .

. . . hey, wait . . .

Oh, nevermind, you were already thinking that anyway, weren’t you.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, May 30, 2010

two more flashes

How about another two short flash fiction pieces this Sunday?

Written from word prompts . . . I'll let you guess which words were prompt words and which weren't.

In other words, I'm too lazy to do it for you on this sunny, summer-ish Sunday.

Enjoy!

.........................................................................

I own this dog that thinks he’s a cat. Aloof, he struts by, head held high, nails clicking regally across the worn linoleum surface without paying me any attention, unless he’s hungry. Then I rate a passing glance and a possible side show.

He’s the master of inveigling treats when, preternaturally sensing my moments of weakness, he rises up, gives me that practiced too-cute tilted-head look, his little paws in the air. But he’s just playing me, the cad, and you would think I’d be on to his obvious tricks by now.

I swear he was an Emperor in his last life, Napoleon or Tito. The way he carries himself you would think his drab grey-brown coat was made of ermine, and that silly little tuft of hair which never sits straight on the top of his head, a crown.

And he never, ever wants to snuggle unless he initiates it. It’s completely beneath him to give in to my will. I almost think that if he could open the dog food cans himself, I would be deleted from his mind like so many excess words.

You see, I own this dog that thinks he’s a cat.

But I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

.......................................................................

When I eat chicken pot pie, my Mommy says the crust is optional. But she makes sure I eat the insides to give me horsepower, whatever that is. I tell her I’m a girl not a horse when she tucks me into bed. She laughs and kisses my cheek. The blinds are open and in through the window shines a moonbeam leaving patchwork shadows on my quilt. It’s the one grandma made for my bed, heavy as grandpa’s leather coat and soft as velvet. My Mommy pulls it right up to my chin and tells me that I’m as cozy as a bug in a rug.

My cheek feels cool where my Mommy kissed it, and the nighttime world folds around me like melted marshmallows on a bed of chocolate cake. I wonder if the moon really is made of cheese as my Mommy closes my bedroom door while the one to dreamland opens.

......................................................................

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

another fictional flash

Our writer's group got together earlier this week and we had to do a challenge. Here is mine, whipped off in short order, as usual with these types of exercises.

You had to complete the line, "Maybe it was my imagination, but yesterday I looked through the library window and I thought I saw . . ."

...............................................................

Maybe it was my imagination, but yesterday I looked through the library window and I thought I saw a flash of lightening.

I ignored it, of course, and so did the other three with me who were seated, as I was, in retractable foam chairs. I reasoned that the flash must have been something else. It had to be a vehicle of some sort reflecting the early evening sunlight, or an automated welding unit fixing some structural support beam or other.

I mean it couldn’t be lightening. And there wasn’t any thunder, well at least not any I could hear over the constant hum of the air recirculating units. I called up the novel I was looking for and downloaded it onto my data chip, left the library, took the subterranean tram back to my neighborhood and didn’t give it another thought . . .

. . . until just a few minutes ago.

I turned from the recycler to the meal dispenser when through my unit’s small window there it was, plain as a red day, a streak of lightening. I leaned closer to the triple-pained plasteel window and stared up into the pinkish sky, waiting. And I was not disappointed. The sky lit up like a digicam flash and I saw an actual bolt amid the clouds. When the faint roll of thunder vibrated the walls of my unit, I was shaking with excitement. I noticed that old Henry was outside. He was playing with the oxygen breather strapped to his face, lifting it free then setting in back in place again. He was looking at the sky too.

I got on the linkup quick, and called Alice.

“Hello,” came her almost instant reply. Her unit was even smaller than mine.

“Alice,” I said, excitement bubbling up from within me.

“What, what?” she replied catching my enthusiasm.

Another flash lit the sky, “Oh my god, did you see it? Did you see it?,” I talked quickly staring at the sky in amazement.

“Wow,” came Alice’s pleasantly startled reply. I could see Henry pointing now toward the gathering reddish clouds to some of the neighbors who had joined him outside. Old Henry was as excited as a child. I could tell by the way he was carrying on. I would have joined them myself if I wasn’t currently on the wireless with Alice.

“Do you know what this means?” I asked, knowing full well that Alice knew as well as I.

“No more crease marks around my face!” Alice said, and we both laughed with joy.

Six years since we moved to Mars and always the Terraformers kept promising us that one day soon we could walk outside without breathers. For the first time since settling here, watching more flashes of lightening and the thickening clouds, I began to believe it.

Some day soon was arriving and I couldn’t wait to stroll over the surface of Mars and feel the distant sun on my exposed face.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

because it is Sunday

Why else would this post appear?

Oh . . .

. . . you were thinking that I may have something interesting to write about?

Um . . . well . . . er . . . not really.

I can tell you that our search for a canine companion has come up empty, though one prospect is in the works . . . I think. However, the animal protection society we are looking to get him from is entirely volunteer and hence, very, very slow to reply. This is not a criticism, only a statement of fact. These people do incredible work and without them many more pets would be pushing up daisies instead of entertaining new owners.

On the writing front, I’m battling through chapter four right now in third draft. It’s another chapter (like the first two) that I believe is going to mutate into two chapters from sheer length. Which is all good since I still need about 1000 words to hit the magic 80,000 mark.

I will reach that point without any difficulty as I still have twelve more chapters to revise. And it’s just damn slow work . . . or perhaps I need to work more on it every day?

For those thinking of a writing career, let me set a few things down about that. Writing is a solitary pursuit and only you, the writer, can make a career out of it. It pays about two cents an hour over the life of your career. Also, nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, gives a rat’s ass whether you make it as a writer or not. The only person that cares is you, the writer. So, keeping that in mind, go to it, become the next Rowling - but please, please don’t think anybody else in the universe will get you there except yourself.

I’m not bitter about the whole process, though I sure sound like it now, don’t I? What I’m trying to say is writing is a damn lot of excruciatingly hard, predominantly unrewarding work that nobody will really appreciate. So, as a career writer - you must learn to deal with that.

Told you I had nothing much to say today.

And griping does not count as something to say. In fact those same people that don’t give a rat’s ass also don’t want to here you gripe, or whine, or bitch, or moan. So don’t - another piece of free advice.

On the exercise front, I’m doing quite well. With the weather getting nicer I’m able to go for a one hour walk almost every day. Two days a week I do weights to fight off the old-man-saggy-muscle look (okay, I’m not quite at that stage yet) but I do own some polyester pants . . . and they are starting to smell . . . kidding!

Well, I’m quite sure you have other things to entertain you on the intertubes, and this post has probably overstayed its welcome.

I will say that within a couple of weeks I’ll be submitting a short story with hopes of it appearing in print.

You see, I care to get published again even if the universe and all its other creations don’t.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, May 09, 2010

earning and burning

Happy Mother’s Day . . .

There, that’s out of the way.

Ahem.

So, what would another week going by be without me reinventing myself again?

Stagnant, I assume.

With that in mind I’ve come up with a stellar way to keep myself writing while still finding the time to enjoy the things I like to do for fun.

Cryptic enough? Let me explain.

I really, really enjoy watching DVD shows, playing computer games and reading.

But, if I did those things while ignoring the writing - well, disaster would be the consequence.

So, I’ve instituted a method to keep the two parts of my life in balance. I call it earning and burning - credits.

What are credits? Well, they are actually 20 sided dice . . .

. . . I see the look. The 20 sided dice (I seem to have, um a few) are placeholders for credits earned. How I earn a credit is by doing a session of writing or exercising. Every time I complete one session I put one 20 sided dice into a plastic cup. It is now a credit earned. Credits are roughly 45 minute blocks of time.

When I get the urge to play a computer game, read a great book or watch a DVD show I need to have a credit in the cup to burn. No credit earned = no credit burned, and no fun stuff until I earn one.

Has it worked?

Yes, in fact it has. I started it May 1st and so far it’s been a great system. The credits go in and out pretty quickly, but so far I’ve always had credits to burn when I want to goof off. The danger of running out of credits keeps me earning them at a pretty continuous pace.

So there, until another better system of checks and balances comes along I’ll be using this one.

And yes, it did snow last night. Not much, but enough to coat the grass and cars with a white frosty coating - and not like the good kind you find on the top of cupcakes either. The plus side of all this weird weather has been much needed precipitation. Our rain meter cup outside has run over - a good sign for the local plant life.

Well, my time is up and I have to go exercise soon and then call my Mommy.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, May 02, 2010

dogs and rain

Now, I absolutely hate mowing the lawn, but this lack of spring rain is getting a bit silly.

Our lawn resembles a checkerboard of brown and green hard tack. The green is clover - how I love clover.

If you have ever read anything here at the Twisted Mind before about me and the great outdoors, then you know my love of clover and my hatred of damnable grass.

Nuff said.

So, the past two weeks or so we have been looking into getting a four-legged pet for the house. No, not a cat. I may be a writer, but I don’t want a cat. My allergies can’t suffer one of those.

And, after having had four rats already - been there, done that. We were all allergic to them too.

Next on the list. No, not a pig, goat or lama - all of them would be cool, but not very practical.

So, it’s going to be a dog then.

We are looking into several of the local shelter programs and really like one in particular. It’s called TAGS (forget what it means) and looks really good. How it works is rescued dogs spend time at a foster home first, so the foster parents get a good idea how the pet is.

Does it eat furniture, attack men on sight, play with kids, pee on the floor, steal the car and go for joy rides? - you get the picture.

Very good information to know when you want to bring a four-legged friend into your own home. There is an application process because they don’t want goombas getting dogs and then abusing them. We will have an interview soon to see if we are goombas . . . I don’t think we are, but I’m looking at things from inside the asylum, so who knows.

If we pass the goomba test, we can meet a dog we like in the park for an hour to see if we get along. If that works they come for a home visit for a few hours to see how that works. It that’s a go, then the dog comes and stays for 3 to 5 days. If that works out we can adopt. If the process breaks down at any point, the dog goes back to foster parents and hopes for owners who are less like goombas in his eyes.

Don’t know how long it will be before we get a canine of our own because we are being particular. We only want smallish dogs (15-35 lbs) that aren’t prone to causing allergies. Oh, and no Chihuahuas or poodles - so we are pretty limited to certain types of terrier.

I hope this is not a recipe for future disaster. If it works out, then at least I won’t be at home all day writing alone - I’ll have a hair ball to keep me company and help edit my works.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, April 25, 2010

retreat

No, not me - I’m still deep in the trenches duking it out with my muse and distractions.

Actually it’s my wife - she is off for the weekend leaving myself and my daughter to our own devices.

Call it a Daddy-Daughter weekend extravaganza. And yes, so far it’s been grand.

We spent Friday night ordering take-out pizza with fresh garlic, pineapple, ham, red onion and green peppers. Yeah, I do have one of those kids that eats pretty much anything.

Either that or she starves - guess that long term strategy paid off!

We went out and got a movie to watch as well. Don’t remember what it was called (one of them young girl things) but it starred Alyson Stoner - who, by the way, looks uncannily like Alyson Hannigan used to. Guess the human gene pool is only so big.

Slept in Saturday morning and then we played a couple rounds of Carcassonne. I won both games, but there was no tears. My daughter is not like that - she just likes to play, I hope. Wouldn’t want this to scare her for life - kidding, I hope.

Then, to top up the our bellies with more nutritious treats we went to Mr. Sub, for, you guessed it - Subs.

Next stop, the dollar store so my daughter could pick up a new notebook to record her daily thougths - I just use my mind for that - of course after a few days go by, I have no recollection of what took place - still, that method works for me.

Then, her friend called her and came over for some Daughter-Daughter’s Friend fun. They are pretty much two peas in a pod. - same age, same temperament, same body shape, same zany sense of humour. Both are rough and tumble and silly.

They had a great time since I took them to the candy store where I let them load up on sugar treats. Man, but I don’t recall that much Diabetes inducing selection when I was a kid. I do remember Poppie cigarettes though with paper wrapping and powdered flour on the inside so you could simulate real smoke with them. Guess those are no more - sends a bad message - but they were way cool. Double Bubble was a penny a piece back then too and had a cartoon strip in it.

Now I feel old.

Anyhow, after the sugar kicked in I took them to the park by the lake for two hours - ran there energy tanks down to about half.

I made them spaghetti for supper. They played outside afterwards and then it was time for her friend to go home.

Once my daughter and I were alone again we played a computer game for a bit.

Then it got late and bedtime beckoned.

This morning we had waffles and are hanging around together waiting for her mother (my wife) to come home.

Damn it was a fun time - I’m sure when she is a teenager (which will be too damn soon I’m afraid) weekends like this will no longer take place. She will be out with her cool friends and I’ll be left at home to wash laundry and scrub toilets.

Anyhow, I hope this weekend was as much fun for her as it was for me - only time will tell. Maybe she will recall our times together fondly when she gets to be my age.

Well, even if she can't remember, she can always consult her daily journal.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, April 18, 2010

into the fire

Been reading way too much on how-to-write.

Now it’s time to stop that diversionary tactic and start getting the job done.

Just over a year ago I tossed in the cube-squatting, mind-numbing job to pursue a career of fiction writing.

And yes, I have been writing quite a lot.

But that alone does not and income make.

For an actual income you need to have your current written works circulating and selling and always be working on producing more - and I’ve none at the moment in that cycle - not good, not good at all.

And I’ll take a moment here to bitch a wee bit about the new boss - he’s a bit too wimpy and not nearly the slave driver I thought he would be. It’s time he smartened up, strapped on those Kodiak steel-toed boots and gave my rear a good hard thumping.

It’s what I expect from him starting - right now!

I’ve been spending the better part of a year revising and rewriting my novel, which is coming along, albeit slowly, but should it find a publisher (he said with hope) it will still likely be a year or more before it sells let alone shows up in a printed form you can buy at the bookstore.

What I’m trying to say is, I think I’ve missed writing short stories and sending them out for publication. It’s been like forever since I’ve seen my short work in print - and I’m hoping to start seeing it again soon.

I have told myself this past while (likely as a subconscious excuse) that I can’t write short stories and novels at the same time.

What a crock of crap with a cherry on top!

Professionals do it all the time, and I’m supposed to be one of those now, aren’t I?

Now, don’t get me wrong, this does not mean my novel will grind to a halt while I crank out new short fiction. It means I’ll be spending even more time writing (sorry house keeping) with short story production getting some much needed attention on top of the hours I already spend revising my novel.

So enough brooding and sniveling and avoiding - it’s time to start my engines and get those short works written and in circulation again. Nothing is more exciting than getting that SASE back with an acceptance - well almost nothing.

So it’s ass in chair, flying fingers and word production like there is no tomorrow because, well, without any new writing in circulation, I can’t rightly call myself a full-time writer, now can I.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, April 11, 2010

delightfully depressing

I was given a great book on the practical aspects of fiction writing, and read the whole thing in a couple of days.

I absolutely loved it . . . and it depressed the hell out of me.

Why?

Well, the author held nothing back and had so much practical advice on exactly how to write, and what needs to be in your writing to make is sell. So, what did I do with this newfound knowledge? - I looked over the start of my novel, of course.

And therein lay the problem.

I found, in just the first two paragraphs, about everything that he had pointed out in logical reasonable detail as the failings of dull writing. I had pretty much made every gaffe you could, and by all accounts, and in his words, my novel beginning had “the kiss of death” stamped all over it.

I suddenly found myself driving in a large city, looking for the library (or any place) without a map, just letting my feelings and intuition guide me along until I would happen upon it.

Stupid method to find someplace, don’t you think? Oh, you would eventually end up there after a tank of gas and several days aimless driving, but so much simpler to have map to follow don’t you think?

This book lays out the map for fiction writing, which is what I need for doing revisions of my novel. It will be so much better now because of this book, but how depressing to think that before I read it I thought I knew what I was doing - fact of the matter - not really.

What does all this mean, besides depressing the hell out of me? Well, as a writer you never, ever know it all and never will, that’s what. It also illustrated to me that there is help out there in many forms, pieces of the puzzle a writer must collect and put together if he wants to move forward and grow and above all, sell.

Love of writing may get it done for you, eventually. But for me, I don’t have thirty more years to figure it all out myself through trial and error.

I figure this book will save me many years of fumbling in the dark, reworking things until they seem correct.

It’s called, “Techniques of the Selling Writer” by Swain, and it’s damn good practical advice - best book on the subject I’ve read with regards to the nuts and bolts of good fiction construction. If you have aspirations of becoming a paid writer, you need to read, understand and assimilate the contents of this book.

With that in mind, I’ll need to re-read it a few times to totally understand it, but I figure every minute spent going over it will save me and hour in the long run.

Now, to get back to my novel and all the necessary revisions that it needs.

In reality, I will need to do at least three more drafts, but they will be far smarter drafts now that I have a clear and detailed roadmap to follow.

Until next Sunday . . .

Monday, April 05, 2010

pause for the bunny

I’ve decided that the weather and my family outweigh the need for me to crank away on my novel for the next couple days.

I know - I’m a slacker and “real” writers don’t do such things. I recall reading about Asimov on a cruise ship once spending his entire “vacation” in the cabin typing away . . . Sorry, much as I like to write and create fiction, I’m just not that sort of obsessive about it. I do intend to keep steadily at it, but not at the exclusion of everything else in my life.

And sometimes I think it’s healthy to relax and enjoy your life, family and friends and temporarily set the work aside. I mean if you can’t do that what is the point of working so hard in the first place?

This mini-break comes at a good time. I’ve just completed the third draft of my second of sixteen chapters Friday. It was a good Friday . . .

And there is much excitement in the house this morning as the Easter Bunny paid our daughter a visit. She is scrambling around the house following clues to find out just what the Bunny has left behind for her. I mean write, or watch this family event unfolding in real time? No contest.

Sorry, not locking myself in the cabin with a typewriter today.

I can talk about the writing though and the fact that I’ve added about 2,000 words per each chapter so far. If I keep this up through to the end my third draft will be around 104,000, a hair above the ideal (in my mind) novel length.

That length can easily be revised down to somewhere between 90,000 and 100,000 after that for the forth draft. I’m hoping the fifth draft will pretty much be it and then it is off to submission land. I planning for a late fall submission schedule, then on to my next novel creation.

Which brings me to the length of time this whole process is all taking. Would you believe I’ve been out of the cubicle for 363 days - that’s right - almost a whole year.

Mind you, the first several months were spent detoxing from cubicle hell, and I’ve been easing into my new career at a slow and gradual build-up ever since, but I feel this year things are accelerating and will continue to do so in future.

So, with all that said, look for my published works to start hitting the shelves (or the fan?) sometime in the 2011 - 2012 time frame.

Well, I can smell chocolate being unearthed - and I want me some!

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, March 28, 2010

the secretions of success

What are they?

Why, blood, sweat and tears, of course.

Just ask any “successful” person how they got where they are, and likely as not they will tell you it was because of an inordinate amount of bleeding, sweating and tears along the way - but they all got there in the end because they never gave up even after all that secreting.

But even when you think you arrive at the endpoint, you realize that the journey is never over, that the learning begins anew each and every day.

Those are the secretions of success.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

When I was much younger, and quite naive, I really thought talent accounted for so very much, never truly understanding, until much later in life, that talent is but a small part of achieving ultimate success - quite small in fact.

It’s the phenomena, call it teen know-it-all-ism, which had me hearing the words of experienced elders, but not registering them because, well, I knew it all back then, didn’t I.

If we would only listen to our elders when we are young we could save so much pain and suffering later on.

But what would be the fun in that?

So, end of lectures - if you’re young you are paying it no attention, and if you’re old you already know it.

Anyhow, I’ve been reading like a fiend this year and so am increasing my target number of pages/year from 12,000 to 20,000. Yup, 20,000. And the way I’ve been going I should reach it, no sweat.

And the third draft of my novel is coming along. I’ve added almost 3,000 words so far - and that’s only in the first chapter. I need a grand total of 8,000 - 28,000 new words added to make it a true-novel-length work, and it looks like that will also be, no sweat.

I’m sounding all contradictory aren’t I with my “no sweat” remarks. Truth is, there has been much sweating going on the past few weeks to achieve those extra words, and it’s far from over. But I’m feeling much better about the whole project now that I’m getting through the third draft.

And as I approach my one year anniversary of cube-squatting release, I can say I made the right choice, but a very hard one.

And now, if I’m to succeed in my new career, I best get back to the bleeding, sweating and shedding of more tears.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, March 21, 2010

lead me not into

I normally have only a single cup of strong coffee in the morning - but today I feel like having two.

And yes, when I finish the second cup I’ll pay the price of being on the verge of vibrating-hyperactivity for the next few hours with my eyes darting back and forth in their sockets looking for things at the corner of my vision that aren’t really there . . .

. . . but, it’s fresh ground, and it’s so damn good, and today I just can’t resist. Well, if I really wanted to I could resist, but I obviously don’t really want to.

Which brings me to the point of my post today - giving into temptations.

We all have them . . . and we all break down on occasion and go for them when we know damn well that we shouldn’t. It’s like an addictive drug and once the pleasure centers of your brain are activated by it and you receive the cheap thrill of giving in, it’s damn hard to walk away from the experience and never do it again.

And of course, being a full-time writer now, this directly relates to my job - that of writing vs. reading, watching shows or playing computer games or (choose a distraction). Being your own boss is a double-edged blessing, both grand and dangerous.

I can, without hesitation, tell you that if I gave into my daily temptations, then I would get absolutely no writing done. There is always something else more pleasurable I feel I would rather do, a normal human mechanism I think for avoiding any hard work (and believe me writing is hard work). So, every day it’s a mental struggle to avoid temptations and buckle down to my job of fiction writing.

First off I write every single day that I can. I don't beat myself up though for missing a day here or there for important family obligations. But every day I can write, I do write. Even so, the temptations still sit there like gargoyles perched on my shoulders.

Well then, what to do about it?

I employ two strategies to make sure my writing stays on track. The first is thinking of the consequences of not writing. One of which is confronting my wife when she comes home from a hideous day at work and asks me how my writing went. If I’ve goofed off the entire day (it has happened), then I feel this horrible guilt and realize that I have wasted a great opportunity to hone my craft and head my family towards a better future - and that feeling sucks big time.

Call strategy one the feel-like-crap-demotivator. The end result of not writing is far worse than that of writing, and so my rational mind (for it is a rational mind, at least to me) compels me two spend the allotted time each day actually writing and not goofing off. And in reality, once I’m in the act of writing the time flies by, I find myself enjoying the process of creation and see the results of my labours taking shape in the written word. The result is happiness and a feeling of accomplishment that day for making the effort and not goofing off. Feeling good about my writing accomplishments of the day far outweigh the slight transitory pleasures I get from goofing off.

And that leads me into strategy number two - the long distance outlook. I like to keep the end vision of my efforts out there for me to fantasize about. It’s a giant carrot and it will be the ultimate prize for the long term pain leading to long term gain. When I hear about some authors getting 600,000 dollar advances on their next novels I think, ‘hey, if they can do it, why not me?’, and the carrot gleams like a priceless jewel.

I’m not there yet, but one day I will be. I’m convinced of it and the ultimate reward will be allowing us to live anywhere we wish and do pretty much anything we want - when I’m not writing like a possessed fiend that is.

I must admit though that I am currently enjoying my second cup of coffee, but I know the price I’m going to pay for it. But, I will be working on my writing today even though it’s the weekend.

Until next Sunday . . .