To all my readers and followers, please keep in mind that I have now moved over to my new blog, Father Nature's Corner, so Cedar's Mountain is now on a semi-permanent hiatus.

If you're looking for the wit and wisdom that Cedar's Mountain is known for, please click on the link up above or to the right, and I promise you that you won't be disappointed.

Friday, December 30, 2011

What Is The Word That I'm Looking For?

What is the word that I'm looking for? It's.....right there, not quite on the tip of my tongue, but definitely right there at the tip of my frontal lobe. Wait a minute....wait a minute...let me just pick up this two by four and...now for my best interpretation of a t.v. character, may I present to you.....drum roll please....

Colonel Flagg!

WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!

There we go, a nice juicy hole that I can stick my finger in....just need to dig around for a moment with this pair of tweezers...aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnndddd....viola!

Empty.

Not so much in the physical or emotional sense, although I am going through a little bit of each at the moment, but more in the mental sense.

What I mean by "mental" is that after 774 posts spanning from Memorial Day weekend 2008 through the 364th day of 2011, I find myself in the unenviable position of having absolutely nothing to blog about. In other words, empty.

Through the course of 774 posts I managed to talk about all kinds of things that sprung from three basic topics: writing, my life, and work. You name it, I blogged about it.

Writing? Sure 'nuff. Even started a short story blog that ran for a little over a year that featured short stories. Getting published? Absolutely. Even created a page to showcase the trials and tribulations of trying to land either a publisher or an agent. Self-publishing? You betcha. Even wrote a story serial about publishing my chapbook.

My life? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. You name it, I shared about 95% of my life on this blog, with the remaining 5% safely tucked away to be shared behind the scenes with family and friends. I wrote about makes me tick, my health, what I like to read, what I like to listen to for music, my friends and work. Good lord, did I ever write about work in those early years. However, as things got progressively strained at work, discretion became the operative word of the day and gradually I stopped writing about work.

Even wrote about my adventures with the Internet. Mostly wrote about the chat rooms, in which what you see now was partially shaped and nurtured by the ultimate 9 circles of private hell that I consider the chat rooms now to be. Did write about other things related to the 'net, like Facebook (being banned from a business page and eventually dropping out due to privacy concerns) and e-mail (oh man, did I ever write a classic about Hotmail customer service) and blogs.

Blogs. Man did I ever go to town writing about all kinds of blogs. You name it, I probably blogged about it. From censorship to blogs on life support/pushing up the daisies and everything else in between.

Sigh.

I think that I can safely assume that I'm at a crossroad with my blogging. Over the years, I managed to tweak the frequency of my blog posts, from twice a day every other day, to once a day every other day, to simply three times a week. This was done strictly for the purpose of preventing blogging burnout, and for the most part it worked. Until now.

Now is wondering what I should do next? I enjoy blogging, but coming up with original material is becoming increasingly difficult to accomplish. Should I cut down on the frequency of posting, say from three times a week to twice? I don't think that would work. As most of you know, I've spent a good chunk of time trying to build this blog into something that people would like to continuously read on a weekly basis, and the thought of cutting down on my posting bothers me, simply because I don't like to disappoint people. Or, should I convert this blog into something that I personally abhor, which is posting no original material of any consequence and simply post articles from news websites (please note that I am not including those blogs in which the blogger is using it as an effective and user friendly marketing tool for their work)?

For the first time as a blogger, I am genuinely unsure on what to do with my blog. So for this long holiday weekend, I will be spending a good portion of my down time trying to answer the question: what should I do next?

Hopefully, I'll come up with an answer that not only solves my problem, but one that I and everyone else can live with.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Most Refreshing Bath Was Had By All

Boy was that an overly long soak. Five days spent in the bathtub and I is the pruniest prune that you'd even seen.

Anyways, it was a most refreshing break from the blogging world and since I need to fill up this space with excess verbiage, to quote Ralph Kiner, let's go to the happy recrap.

Christmas was interesting simply because I didn't get any clothes this year. What I did get was the following:

1} A ream of paper.
2} A webcam for my computer, which I'll probably have to wait on installing/using until I buy more memory for my computer.
3} A mini DVD player. This was the only thing that I'd specifically asked for Christmas, simply because long story short, I lost the ability to play DVD's on my computer.
4} The traditional roll of sausage.
5} A homemade bookmark that my daughter gave me that says "To My Writer Dad" and has a picture of a scroll and a quill pen on it.
6} A gift card from B&N and various music magazines, along with a Neil Diamond album.

I also got the usual sugar free candy in my Christmas stocking (you can never outgrow a Christmas stocking) as well.

On the blogging front, I spent the entire break lurking on your blogs. No commenting to speak of, but I did enjoy what everyone has written on their blogs since Saturday.

On the real world front, I spent a few hours at my aunts and got caught up on things with that side of the family. Talked to my cousin and inquired on how her husband's novel (military fantasy) was coming along. She said it's been released as an e-book (self-pubbed) and they're just wrapping up the audio version of it. So as a good relative and fellow newbie writer, I am more than happy to give it a little plug here:


On the writing front, which was the main reason for the break to begin with, I dragged my muse kicking and screaming back from her well extended vacation and plopped her down on the floor next to the computer. I then plied her with drinks, food, good music, and anything else that she may have wanted/desired in order to stroke/pump up her ego.

It sort of worked as in between getting all of the last minute holiday stuff done and the residual stress of waiting for a potentially positive outcome of something, I managed to write another two pages of story. I know it sounds like squat and it might be to some of you, but for me, it does represent progress. I'm at the very end of the story and trying not only to write the final confrontation but write what I feel would be the proper ending is incredibly problematic.

Unlike the last novel I wrote, in which the main plot and subplots made sense from day one and I was able to complete the final chapter in about a week, this one is giving me one major league migraine. After writing the first chapter with relative ease, the remaining chapters have been like sitting in the dentist chair having multiple root canals.

I'm not sure if everyone else has experienced this issue from time to time while writing, but it's incredibly frustrating to have to perpetually re-read what you wrote to make sure that what you wrote is not only making sense but it's consistent as well.

Anyways, because I'm having such problems writing this schtuff, I decided to take a minor detour and start applying the 56 pages worth of editing notes to the book.

So with that being said, the update about what I did during my break is now complete and I leave you with this nifty little video of the song that was blasting through my headphones as I typed the last two paragraphs of this post.


Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Cuervo Time!

It is rare that I complain about a plethora of things all in one shot.

Usually I complain about one thing at a time on this blog, then move on.

However, this week has been, to put it bluntly, a bitch. Between being on pins and needles about waiting for a positive result from something I did last week and dealing with the fruition of Monday's post (Monday thru Wednesday I answered about 75 e-mails and 60+ phone calls, with each phone call lasting on the average 8 minutes and each e-mail averaging about 2 pages) and the fact that it's the week before Christmas, I am seriously considering going off on a binge of major proportions and not waking up until Christmas morning.

The fact that I am even considering going off on a drinking binge should give you an idea on how crappy my week has been. However, as much as this week has sucked major moose testicles, I have tried in my own unique way to put something of a smiley face on the week.

For instance, I've been wearing a Santa hat at work this past week, which is my only concession to celebrating Christmas in public this year. When people ask me if I'm getting into the Christmas spirit, I tell them that this year I am channeling the spirit of Billy Bob.

They invariably ask, "Who?"

I answer, "Billy Bob. You know...."



To all of my good friends who happen to read this blog, the regulars, the lurkers and my fellow bloggers, yours truly is taking a well deserved break from the blogging world to spend some time with the family and on a few personal projects that have taken a back seat in my life for the past month.

I shall see you all back here on December 28th.


M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S  E V E R Y O N E !

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Longer A Newbie, But He's Making Strides

Betrayed!

A few weeks ago, I brought a dozen copies of my self-pubbed chapbook to work so that I could kick off a new sales/marketing campaign for the new year and thus sell a few copies. There are two reasons as to why I'm doing this: 1) enough time has gone by and I believe that most people have forgotten about my first self-pubbed book, and 2) I'm slowly re-tooling and re-loading my writing career. I no longer consider myself a newbie and in fact, I believe that I'm making some decent strides with my writing.

One thing that I plan on doing this coming January is hand out free custom designed bookmarks. The bookmark themselves will contain this nice picture:


What better way to get to know the real me?


A link to this blog and the caption that you see on the front side. On the back side will be a general link to my short story Cedar Mountain (Beat To A Pulp)* and my short story Red Stripe (The Cynic Magazine), along with a short note saying that both stories can be found under my full name in the archives.

By handing out these bookmarks, I want to give people the opportunity to get to know both the real me and the quirky fiction that I write before they decide to buy the book. I figure if they like what I write for fiction or my blog, then they would be amenable to purchasing my book.

On a related note, a co-worker of mine saw my mini-display of books and started asking a couple of questions about the name on the book (Georgie B). We had an animated discussion about it (I told her that there was a rapper by that name and that early on in my writing career I was trying to establish a brand using that name) and about ten minutes later, she created this nifty little ditty that I want to share with everyone.

My name is Georgie B and I'm known as Gee, together we rock the industry. I'm smooth, I'm cool, I'm an awesome dude, beta recognize and don't be cruel. I wrote BETRAYED! so stand in line, it's only going for $7.99. YOU HEARD!!!!

While the book indeed is for sale, the going rate is $7.50 (higher at Author House and Amazon) and I'll pick up both the 6.35% sales tax and the shipping and handling to anywhere in the good old U.S.A.

So if you liked my short stories Cedar Mountain and Red Stripe, give some thought to picking up this nifty little chapbook. It's entertaining, it's a fast read and it's a great compliment to what you read here on a daily/weekly basis.

*Unfortunately, the link to the story is temporarily out of order until February '12

Monday, December 19, 2011

Y times Z times 1 1/2 equals 0

No, this isn't some new math formula pulled from one of my daughter's homework assignments.

This is a math formula that was pulled from this year's state budget.

For those of you who are unfortunate enough to live in Connecticut, what I'm about to say is depressingly familiar, so please bear with me as I bring everyone else up to speed.

This year we elected a Democratic guv'nor who promised that he would find a way to balance a budget that was dripping 3 billion dollars in red ink. He did it with very modest spending cuts (big surprise there) and very heavy tax increases (no surprise there).

One of the taxes that he decided to increase was the state income tax, which he made effective this past July 1st. He also decided to that since we were bleeding so much red ink that the new rate should be retroactively applied back to January 1st.

You can probably guess what the unintended consequences are, but for the sake of this post, not only will I elaborate but I will make your jaws collectively drop to the floor with a large thud. I will also concentrate my explanation on the public sector, because not only was the pain harshly inflicted there, but the math formula that this post is called became frightening clear.

Because the guv'nor decided that the new income tax rate should be retroactively applied, people started having extra taken out of their paychecks, which created a myriad of problems. There were a lot of glaring glitches involved the retroactive application of the new income tax rate, but none were more glaring that the highly abnormal amount of tax taken out if you did anything out of the ordinary.

In other words, if you worked just your standard schedule, you either had too little (like me) or the proper amount of taxes taken out. But if you work above and beyond that standard schedule, like overtime, the system burped and took too much out.

Confusing? Absolutely!

What the system did was this: it looked at your gross wages for the pay period (bi-weekly), projected a new annual salary for you and bumped you up to a higher tax bracket if need be. In other words, if you did say 10 hours of overtime, it would project a new annual salary based on those 10 hours and tax you accordingly.

Using those 10 hours as an example, let me show you how this would be applied using the new math formula.

Y is the amount of hours worked, which equals 10.
Z is the regular hourly amount, which equals $23.76.
You then multiply that dollar amount ($237.60) by 1 1/2, which gives you what you actually earned for working those hours of overtime ($356.40).

0 is what you wind up with after the new tax rate is applied.

That's right boys and girls, because of this monumental glitch, you worked 10 hours of overtime for free.

I repeat, you worked for free. Your hard earned dollars went towards fulfilling your tax debt, whether you have one or not, instead of going into your pocket.

And the only way that you might see that money, is after you file your income tax return on April 15th, which is the excuse that the Office of State Comptroller's, who knew about the glitch and chose to do nothing about it, gave when they were getting questions about it.

So in the end, an improbable formula of Y x Z x 1 1/2 = 0 is the harsh reality for not only the bulk of the people who work in Connecticut's public sector, but probably for those who work in the private sector as well.

Of course, this particular glitch is supposed to be gone by the time January rolls around.

Yah.

Welcom to the modern version of taxation without representation, which is practiced in this state with an almost orgasmic glee by the Democrats. And remember gang, a case of good quality beer is cheaper than three packs of cigarettes. At least in this state.

D'OH!!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Question

Yup, it's a rare Saturday post. Well, not so much a post as simply a question for you the reader.

I've been thinking about developing the very last disposable camera that I used for Shooting Suburbia and posting it. However, there are a couple of things that you should know.

1} I have no clue what's on it.
2} The pictures were shot sometime when the temperatures were between 60 and 90 degrees.
3} The developed disc would have a maximum of 27 pictures on it.

So my question to you is this: Would this be something that you would be interested in seeing, and if so, how many posts should I try to squeeze out of this disc?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Daddy?

"Daddy?"
"Yes, sweetie. What's Up?"
"Can I ask you a question?"
He pauses for a moment, then says, "Sure."

"Why did that driver give you the finger?"
"What driver was that?"
"The one that you cut off when you were pulling out of the parking lot."

"Sweetie, I didn't cut anyone off."
"You didn't?"
"No. I was simply going around another car who was undecided on which way to go."
"So why did she give you the finger if you didn't cut her off?"

He thought about for a minute, then said, "Daddy needs to concentrate on the road. How 'bout you put your headphones back on?"

After not getting an answer for several seconds, he reached behind the seat and tapped her ankle a couple of times.

She uncrossed her arms and whined, "What?"
"Did you hear what I'd just said?"
"Yes, I heard you."
"And?"
"Duh!!!"

He looked in the rear view mirror and saw that she had her headphones on.

Smiling, he said, "That's my girl."

He turned his attention back to the road, but before settling down for the long drive home, he took out a small piece of tinfoil from his shirt pocket. Unfolding it, he took out the item and wiped it clean.

He turned it over a couple of times and gave it a sniff to make sure it was still fresh. Scrunching his nose, he said, "I really do hate dark meat." before popping the finger into his mouth.

(c) 2011 by GBMJr. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is Self-Publishing Right For You?

Unless you've been hiding in a cave living like a hermit, then you know that a lot of people have been talking/perusing/embracing the concept of self publishing. If you're a writer, you've naturally asked yourself this particular question in one form or another numerous times.

As someone who has been an active participant and a very interested bystander/purchaser of the product for the past four years, and with the value of hindsight and present sight, I would like to say this:

Yes, but only if you meet a particular set of criteria.

I'm sure there are more than a few of you sitting out there asking the computer screen, "What on earth could there possibly be any criteria for self-publishing a book?"

Believe it or not, from what I've observed in the past two years, to give your novel/novella/short story collection the best chance of success, you really need to have these two necessary components.

1} A solid body of work.
2} A solid reputation in your chosen field of genre.

Without these two important pieces, you're basically swimming against the riptide. No matter how well written your prose is, unless you have something out there to prove to the reader that not only do you have talent but that talent has been looked upon in positive terms, you're just throwing your hard earned dollars away.

But if you do have those two important pieces, then you're giving yourself the best possible chance to succeed. And I know that unless I provide solid evidence to prove my theory, you're gonna ignore this entire post. So for those of you who want proof, here are five writers that I know of who have those two important pieces and links to them.

David Cranmer. Of all the writers that I've gotten to know over the years, David has had the most success self-publishing his work. Not only has he built a solid body of work but he is well respect in his chosen genre not only as a writer, but as an editor as well. Check out his blog and website for further details on what he has out there.

Charles Gramlich. Charles is well known and respected in his chosen genres of horror and fantasy, and has also come out with a few self-pubbed e-books that are excellent starting points to explore those two genres.

Travis Erwin. In addition to his body of short stories and a impressive debut novel, he has also self-published a wonderful trio of non-fiction short stories for the Nook/Kindle.

Joanne DeMaio. She writes both fiction and non-fiction and has coming out in March 2012 a wonderful novel called "Whole Latte Life".

Elanie Ash. She is an accomplished award winning short story writer and freelance editor who has an excellent crime noir/horror short story collection out on the Kindle.

To reiterate, the one common thread that all of these writers have is that they built a solid body of work before deciding to take the plunge into the world of self-publishing. This group of writers have all put out first class pieces of work and thus have proven that self-publishing is something that shouldn't be looked down upon, but to be embraced as an excellent addition to one's arsenal of writing weapons.

If you want to self-publish, please look at both sides of the issue. The pro can be found at the above links while a combination of the pro & con can be found here and at this blog (please check out my short series on self publishing: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th). While I'm only giving you my informed opinion based on my personal experience, in the end, the question of self-publishing being right for you can only be answered by you and no one else.

Make sure that it's an answer that you can comfortably live with.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Miles To Little Ridge" by Heath Lowrence

Last Thursday, I got a tiny little e-mail from David Cranmer asking if I would be interested in reading a nifty little novella western and offering my opinions of same. Pleased about the fact that David genuinely values my opinion on something and getting free goodies (who wouldn't want free goodies, eh?), I thanked him for the novella and said I would be more than happy to offer my opinion on it.

After printing it out (David was thoughtful enough to send it as PDF file for me) and briefly glancing at it, I brought to work with the intent of reading it at break time. Imagine my surprise when I sat down at break time and saw that the author of this fantastic little novella was not Edward Grainger but Heath Lowrence.

To be honest with everyone, the first thing that popped into my head was, "Uh-oh." Why? From my past encounters with the written word, whenever a well known writer has someone else write stories based on a character of theirs, it usually means that 1) they're too tired to continue writing the character or 2) they've run out of gas with the character or 3) they need the money. However, such was not the case with David.

As he eloquently stated in a recent blog post, he had several well respected writers come up to him and ask if they could write stories featuring his two soon-to-be iconic characters Gideon Miles and Cash Laramie. Such was the case with Heath Lowrence and this current novella "Miles To Little Ridge".

Anyways, I sat down in the lobby during my break and started reading the story. To say it kept my interest all the way to the end would be an distinct understatement. One little known fact about me when it comes to reading is that if a story, be it a short story, novella or novel, grabs my interest, I have a tendency to do a weird thing at work that I like to call "walk and read".

"Walk and read" is simply me reading the story and walking back to my cubicle. Lest you think that's easy, it's not. I read while walking from the lobby to the elevator, on the elevator, and walking off the elevator back to my cubicle on the 8th floor.

The novella itself is only 23 pages in length and even though the plot was pretty basic with a slight swerve (Gideon going after a wanted man and two others coming after him) and a very quick read (for me about 20 minutes), it kept my attention to the very end and frustratingly enough, the ending was written in such a way that I was actually disappointed that it did end. Only a couple of stories that I've ever read in the past six years have left me in that state of being, and I'm proud to say that this story is one of them.

Heath Lowrance does a masterful job of not only nailing the Gideon Miles character to a T but keeping the same historical background nuances relevant but not overpowering. "Miles To Little Ridge" is a excellent compliment to Edward Grainger's Gideon Miles and Cash Laramie series and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the western genre.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Is Friday? Then Brain Vacancy Here!

Howdy.

Today's post is a gonna be a bit of a ramble, in that I don't really have much in the way of a singular topic, but for a change of pace, instead of numbering my bullet points, I thought I would try to write this post as a story/essay. Because let's face it, I am wickedly rusty when it comes to writing non-business related non-fiction, so what better place to inflict my torturous attempts at writing non-fiction than this blog, eh?

Google has finally "improved" the last major application in their tidy little empire of free applications and suffice to say, it bites. They "improved" their Gmail, so now there's no escaping the fact that no matter where you go with Google, you will get aggravated by the non-user friendly applications in their empire.

The good thing about Gmail is that I don't use it anymore. I guess it came full circle for me, in that when I decided to set up a Gmail account (initially for chat room purposes) some three years ago, I decided to make my Yahoo and Hotmail accounts junk mail accounts at the same time. Now in 2011 the roles are reversed, in that Gmail and Yahoo are my junk mail accounts and Hotmail is my primary account (go figure on that one) for contact with the human race.

Speaking of the (cyber) human race, I did some house cleaning on my blog subscriptions/followings the other day. Apparently I do have a finite end when it comes to subscribing/reading blogs that haven't been updated in a while, which also happens to coincide with shooting from the lip whenever I feel like I'm getting disrespected. Anyways, I did a little blog surfing over the past few weeks and picked up a dozen new blogs to read and follow while discarding those that haven't been touched in several months (I still have one that haven't been updated in a year, but I think that has to do with the blogger being in the military). A few of those blogs have been added to my profile, so if you find yourself with a little bit of time on your hands, check out my profile.

About those new blogs: One thing that I've found while surfing is that the bloggers on WordPress have a tendency to push the envelope to the very far reaches of what is considered acceptable, more so than what I've seen here in Blogger. I'm not talking about things that would be considered offensive to most folks (what I consider to be offensive to most folks would be something along the lines of this), but simply things that you would see broadcast late at night on HBO, Cinemax or Showtime, that some people would find either morally offensive or incredibly intriguing.

In any event, the one thing that I find impressive about WordPress is that they treat their bloggers like adults. In other words, if the blog contains objectionable content, you won't find a page popping up before the main page asking you if you want to proceed to the blog. In other other words, if you don't like, you don't have to read it.

Let's see, what else do I need to cover...oh yes, since I have the tags "Genre Writing" and "The Muse" tacked onto this post, I might as well talk about them. I decided to lump what I write about under the tag "Genre Writing" simply because I have no freakin' idea what the actual genre is that I write in. I have a tendency to wander all over the place with my writing, so it's kind of difficult to precisely nail down what it is that I exactly write. What do I write? Good question, which deserves a good answer. However, since brain cells are in short supply with this post, we'll defer answering that question until a later date when the brain cells are plentiful (not Good 'n Plenty).

As for the Muse, it seems that she's taken a siesta for the moment....or living vicariously through Charla the lynx, which would be slashing and devouring or grinding and pounding herself silly, or a combination of both, your guess is as good as mine. In any event, she is not here occupying my brain at the moment, which is both a blessing and a curse. A curse in that I now have to actually think for myself as it applies to my writing.

A blessing in that if she was around, I would probably be thinking of ways to use her in my latest concoction, description-wise.

Like this:

In the few seconds that it took her to move from the darkness to the light, Charla had switched back to her slut persona. She had on a super tight bloody orange tank top and half bra that helped overly emphasize her naturals; glammed out jheri curls; cut-offs that were unbuttoned and the top and held in place by a small chain and key lock; retro b-ball sneakers with horizontal striped knee-hi's; small hoop earrings, along with a diamond nose sud and a glistening bloody pentagram.

But, since she isn't here, I'm left to fend for myself and fending for myself can sometimes lead to really bizarre things written down on paper. Or on a Word document. Or on a blog.

In summation, the little parts are joined together in strange ways so as to give the large part cohesion. Or balance. Or clarity.

Clarity.

Some day I may have that in my life, but until then, I leave you with this video of a song that is rambling through my noggin at the moment.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Canadian Midwest

A week ago, I ran a rather lengthy and dry post about what I was doing with a few of my short stories. At the beginning of the post, I offered to write a post about the first two people who were able to identify the lyrical snippet and/or group that the post title was connected to.

Suffice to say, I had two winners who correctly identified the song title, "Words", and the name of the group, Missing Persons: Bearman and Sparkling Red.

So without further ado, here is a post about two of my readers who happen to write a couple of blogs that I've been reading for the better part of two years.

Bearman

Bearman is a self-proclaimed "hack" cartoonist who hails from Cincinnati and who can be found at his blog Bearman Cartoons, skewering most things related to pop culture, local culture, national culture and everything else in between. For those of you who peruse Facebook, Twitter or Google+, he can be found there as well.

I'm not really sure how came about to be reading his blog back in 2009, but if I should hazard a guess, I probably found him via another WordPress blog that I happened to be reading one day. I do remember the post that I commented on when I'd first visited his blog, which was about the lack of black superheros in the movies (I think I got the post right), and after spending about a week or so reading his blog, I decided to stick around for the duration.

What is unusual about this particular blog, at least as it applies to me, as it remains the only cartoon oriented blog that I consistently read/subscribe to on a daily/weekly basis. Which says a lot about me, since I have some 115 blogs that I subscribe to, and out of those 115, there are only two devoted to cartoons and cartoonists that I read. The cartoon is Bearman's, which I can honestly relate to, since he often reminds me of our local editorial cartoonist here in Connecticut, Bob Englehart. The cartoonist is a blog hosted by John K, of Ren & Stimpy and Mighty Mouse fame.

So if you like your cartoons home grown, down to earth and actually relevant to the day's events, along with a lively discussion for each one, check out Bearman Cartoons. You'll be glad that you did.

Sparkling Red

Sparkling Red hails from Canada and writes a very interesting slice of life blog called Adventures In Sparkland. I'm not quite sure how I stumbled across her blog but if I was to hazard a guess, I probably found her while exploring a few profiles one day.

When I say "exploring profiles", that means that I decided to click onto the comment portion of a blog post and check out the various commenter's profiles. I will admit that I am very shallow when it comes to checking blogger profiles, in that if the avatar that a person uses is interesting, then I'll check out the profile. Dull avatar means that I skip over the profile.

Anyways, Sparkling Red's profile pic intrigued me, so I decided to click on it to see what was what. What was what, was a very fascinating slice-of-life blog.

Now what I mean by "slice-of-life" blog, is that the person had chosen to write about certain aspects of their personal life, either semi-censored (like mine) or relatively open, like hers. Sparkling Red's blog is what I considered to be a relatively open slice-of-life blog that seldom leaves any stone about herself unturned. I won't say it's a religious blog, but it's more in the way of a spiritual blog. A journey of self-discovery, one might say (at least that's the impression I get from it).

If you enjoy learning about things from another country, or simply learning how deal with life's little problems, or even relating to the trials and tribulations of someone who is successfully dealing with life's little inconveniences, then give Adventures in Sparkland a whirl. You'll be glad that you did.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hard To Accept But It's Easy To Ignore

The world "no".

The American Century Dictionary defines the word "no" thusly: Indicating a negative, refusal or denial.

The antiquated response of yore (that is, what you and I would typically do) would be to accept the answer and continue doing whatever it was that we were doing when we asked the question in the first place.

The typical response of the modern day toddler (age range 4-7 and 16 until 35) is to throw a temper tantrum.

However, the temper tantrum thrown is not uniformly the same.

If you're a teenager, the temper tantrum is to basically destroy a few inanimate objects until a spineless adult gives in.

If you're a member of generation stupid (age range 20 to 27), then the temper tantrum is based in part on the fact that you're a narcissistic ingrate who decides to pursue his or her chosen career path in spite of the facxt that there ain't no jobs. So you do stupid protests and mooch off the guv'ment at the same time.

If you're a member of generation crybaby (age range 28 to 35), then your tantrum is based on the fact that after years of doing something the wrong way, you're now being forced to do it the right way.

So you fill out a complaint with either upper management or your union and while that's going on, you still continue to do it your way and thumb your nose at it as well.

Special note: If you're a member of the guv'ment, then you file a complaint with the union charging discrimination/harassment plus go to the media as well, to complain about being forced to do your job.

Other special note: If you're not a member of the guv'ment but just a normal person of society who happens to wallow in "victimhood", then you complain to the media and drop the ever popular "R" world, which would be racist; the ever popular "b" word, which would be bigot; and if you happen to be a militant member of the homosexual community who believes that no one is entitled to a differing opinion than yours, you throw out the "h" word, which in this case would be homophobe.

Yes indeed, the word "no" conjures up images of devastating proportions, hypocrisy up the wazoo, and pre-politically correct behavior and speech.

Who would've thunk that a simple two letter word could change the course of human history in such a way that it could ultimately change an entire country (U.S.A.) or an entire continent (Europe) into a race of snot nosed whiny little brats.

Ain't life grand?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Is The Cure Worse Than The Ailment?

I very rarely talk about my health issues on this blog, simply because I try not to let them define me as a individual. I would rather define myself as a unique individual who happens to blessed with a genetic malady and the world's cheapest disease to have: diabetes.

I say cheapest, because if you have diabetes, the insurance companies have to cover your prescriptions (if you have insurance that is) and thus, your co-payments are usually zippo. That means, if you take pills, the co-payment on a $180 prescription is $0. Same goes for about any other expensive diabetic medication that you might have to take. Think I'm fooling? I have a prescription that if I had to pay retail, it would cost me about $400.

Anyways, for the most part, I stumble through my day-to-day activities with my diabetes well under control. I watch what I eat, test my sugars when I feel off and adjust accordingly, and when I am off, I let my supervisors know that if I'm hibernating in my cube it's because my sugars are out of whack and I don't want to inflict a messed up me on anyone else.

Last week, I experienced such a messed up me that when all was said and done, it made me truly wonder if the cure was really worth putting my body through the ringer.

I have, for better and worse (yeah, it is possible), a very wonky left shoulder. To whit, I had surgery on it back in 2001 for tendinitis. Over the course of the next ten years, the durability of said shoulder has ebbed and flowed with an ever escalating degree of annoyance and irritability, until by the late summer of 2011, it was really interfering with my ability to function like a normal person.

From the late summer to about now (mid November), the shoulder got to the point where it was becoming extremely uncomfortable to do anything that would be considered normal (driving, typing, writing, eating, etc., etc., etc.). So I called up my doctor and set up an appointment to have my shoulder checked out. After taking a few X-rays and diagnosing another mild case of tendinitis plus rotator cuff issues, he suggested a cortisone shot and some inflammatories (Advil) as the first step in curing the problem.

Since the second and third steps would be incredibly difficult for me to deal with (rehab & surgery), I said go for it.

One important fact that you should realize when you take either cortisone or steroids: it can temporarily jack up your blood sugar. Normally not an issue when you're not a diabetic, it becomes a major issue when you're a diabetic. Especially if you take medication on a daily basis.

My friends, not only did my body take a proverbial beat down with this cortisone shot (which I might add, is working out very fine so far), but I had to tweak my medications for the entire week, which of course left me in a most irritable frame of mind.

How irritable?

Consider this fact: My fasting sugars are usually around 115 and the day is usually spent functioning anywhere between that number and 150. Last week, I started Tuesday at 315 and I didn't drift down below 150 until Saturday morning.

Not only was I functioning with a stubbornly high blood sugar, but I also had to deal with vicious mood swings (my hot flashes would make yours feel like the end result of sticking your forearm in the oven while taking a tray out), frequent trips to the porcelain gods, brutal acid indigestion and hiccups.

Yes, you heard correctly, hiccups. I spent four and a half days suffering from a severe case of the hiccups. How bad was it? Ever try carrying on a semi-important phone conversation and apologizing every five seconds for hiccuping?

By Saturday, I was back down to my usual abnormal self, but to be honest with you, the next time that I'm offered a cortisone shot to ease the pain of a particular body part, I will definitely think twice about subjecting myself to that kind of torture again.

So my good friends, my question to you is this: Ever have a procedure done where in order to achieve long term relief for your particular problem, you had to suffer through a week's worth of rotten side effects in order to achieve that goal of long term relief for the problem at hand?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Are Words For?

The first two people who can either identify the song or the group, without using the Internet, that this blog title is connected to, will have a very nice blog post written about them.

With that being said, what are words for? Kind of a philosophical question but really, what are words for? When you string a bunch of them together, you form sentences and paragraphs, which in turn conveys an intelligent message (hopefully) to the people who may peruse them during a moment of free time. But really, what kind of message are you trying to convey with these words that you have chosen to string together to make sentences and paragraphs?

If you're like me, you're trying to create an interesting story that will resonate with someone, preferably an editor, and make them say, "Hey! That's a purty durn gud story!"

With that in mind, let's take a short look at the various stories that I've created in the past year to see what, if anything, is going on with them.

1} Short Story #1! One of the short stories that I wrote about a year and a half ago, which was originally called "A Day At The Office" and originally posted on my closed story blog, is currently being submitted to a couple of e-zines. However, I did tweak and tighten the story a little before I decided to submit it. It's worth noting that I did make sure that the e-zines I'd submitted had ambiguous guidelines as it specifically applied to previously published short stories, so hopefully if it does get rejected, it will be rejected on it's own merits and not because it was previously published on my blog.

2} Short Story #2! Another short story that I wrote almost two years ago, which was originally featured as a serial on my short story blog, is also making the rounds. Originally titled "The Right Thing", it was also submitted to a couple of e-zines with ambiguous guidelines, after it was re-written and tightened to bring it under 5K words.

3} Short Story #3 & #4 & #5! These are three short stories that I'm debating on submitting, simply because they were also previously posted on my blog. #3 was originally written between one and two years ago and was originally featured as a fractured serial on my closed short story blog. I did some extensive re-writing and successfully joined all the parts together and gave it the title of "Singularly Married". #4 was the story that I posted last month on Partially Yours called "Patience Is A Sin". I liked the re-written version so much that I'm willing to wait about six or several months before making the rounds with it. #5 is the original story that was the opening salvo of my current writing project, which is simply titled "The Backpack". I think that it has enough oomph for it to be a very nice stand alone story somewhere.

The one common theme that all of these stories (save #5) have is that they were originally published here. Hopefully that won't be a deterrent in the long run, especially since I decided to tweak and tighten the content of those stories.

4} Line 21! Not much going on with this one. I'm still waiting for a final response from a submission back in July and the subsequent follow-up e-mail back in October from one particular publisher, and I'd just sent off a query to an agent (which you'll find the particulars on the Line 21 page) that was featured in the blog Novel Spaces about a couple of weeks ago. I do have one question connected with this update: is six months the normal wait time for a response from a publisher?

5} Blackness In The White Sand! I'm making slow and steady progress with this novella, especially since I decide a couple of weeks ago to make an effort to schedule blocks of writing time for myself. Internet withdrawal has been difficult at times, but I am getting better at dealing with no online surfing. I just completed chapter five and started on chapter six over the weekend, with probably one more chapter to write before I consider this particular story to be done. Still haven't decided on whether I should have a definite ending to it, or something a little more ambiguous. The reason as to why I'm undecided is that I have another story called "A Troubled Conscience" already written and so far I've been unable to find a home for it, so I was thinking about using that in this particular novella, sort of like a part two to a planned trilogy of sorts.

6} The Unknown Story! Well, not really unknown, as the story has already been published, but I got to designing a nifty little bookmark for it last week. Hopefully I'll have something to show everyone in the coming weeks, but just the same, that particular story is still available for purchase from me, for the low price of $7, and I'll pick up not only the sales tax, but the S&H as well.

And that's all the writing news that this moderate Republican sees fit to commit to computer screen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Baby By Any Other Name Is Still Your Baby

note: Blogger is being notoriously difficult in directly uploading anything longer than two minutes. Overall, it took me about an hour to upload this to YouTube, and yes, Google also "improved" YouTube just like they "improved" Blogger, which is why it took me about an hour to upload.




This video is the end result of having to make an appearance at a family function and trying to keep occupied while keeping the mind out of the gutter at the same time. This is my brother's dog Baby, and this video was shot at my brother's house in Thomaston, Connecticut on Thanksgiving afternoon. And no, no football was watched because all the t.v.'s were occupied by little children's and very old adults.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I's A Little Bit Country Americana

I have from time to time, expounded on my various and eclectic tastes in music. My tastes have run the gamut over the past four decades of my life, from t.v. pop (The Brady Bunch) to 50's & 60's pop, to BMJ pop (before Michael Jackson) and the variously wonderful offshoots of Rock (you name it, I've probably listened to it) and the other interesting stuff that they play on college radio these days.

However, all of these varied musical influences can be traced back to what I originally grew up listening to: twangy country from the time period of the mid 60's thru early 70's (what is now called Americana) and folk from the mid-60's.

Today's post will cover the twangy country/Americana that still makes up the solid starting point of what I listen to today.

The other day, as I'm want to do when I'm extremely bored, I went surfing on YouTube. I don't go surfing it to find the latest viral video or other nonsense like that, but I surf it to find songs that get stuck in my head from time to time (like last week's post that featured The Beat Farmers). This time I surfed it to find videos to two songs by The Statler Brothers.

The first one that I went searching for was this:



Don't let the opening image disgust you, as this was the way it was shown to me in the menu. The song in question is "Do You Remember These?"

The main reason why I went searching for this song was that as of late, it has become one of my favorite sing-a-long songs during my alone time (shower, at work, driving, etc.). I have pretty decent range in the country genre and this fits it perfectly.

The second one that I went looking for was also another Statler Brothers song:


"Flowers On The Wall" is great country song that was featured in the movie Pulp Fiction. In case you haven't been able to figure it out, The Statler Brothers are one of my favorite country artists, and I have quite a few albums and a boxed set of their music to listen to.

I do enjoy that time period of country music, as well as folk, and even though for a time I drifted away from listening to that music, as I got older I learned to embrace it once again, and that allowed me to explore and appreciate other types of genres, like bluegrass and Americana.

However, I do know that some of you may not totally appreciate the previous videos, so I have one here feature cars. "Hot Rod Lincoln" by Commander Cody.



And finally, one of my favorite covers of a Jimmy Rodgers tune, "Waiting For A Train" by Boz Scaggs featuring Duane Allman, which I first heard on "Duane Allman, An Anthology Vol II"


Hope these videos get you into a fantastic frame of mind for the weekend, and I hope you enjoy this little slice of what kind of music makes me tick.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guidelines Are Rules Designed To Test Your Limits Of Groveling

Submission guidelines were created with the express purpose of seeing how far you're willing to grovel in order to get your short story published.
Probably said by a multitude of writers but for the purposes of this post was originally stated by me around 2007.

Four years and countless submissions later, I now say this:

Submission guidelines were created with the express purpose of weeding out people who are incapable of following simple instructions, thus leaving those who can follow instructions with a major degree of accuracy an open, honest and level playing field.

For the purpose of this post, I'm going to concentrate on short story submissions, since those publishers have the type of guidelines that don't have a lot of caveats to them and thus make it reasonably easy to submit a story.

I've found over the years that all publishers usually fall into two major categories with their submission guidelines:

New material only!

All publishers are looking for new material to publish in their e-zines, magazines and/or literary journals. However, while some have made it beyond crystal clear in their guidelines about it, others are slightly more ambiguous. While they say they want new material, they don't specifically state that the new material has to be previously unpublished. This in turn creates a small conundrum in that if you have a good story that was say, previously published on a blog in a different form and then you decided to tighten/re-write the story, does it make a new story or a previously published story? Of course, one way the conundrum can be easily solved by e-mailing the editor with that very question. Doing that, I believe, actually gives the impression that you know how to ask for clarification on a particular part of the submission guideline.

The other way to solve the conundrum is to simply e-mail the submission and specifically state in the query that the story was previously published elsewhere (like a personal short story blog for example) under a different title. That way, the story can either be accepted or rejected based either on the merits of the story or on the fact that you're submitting a previously published story.

Personally though, I think it might be easier if publishers made the distinction clearer as it pertains to a story being previously published. As I see it, simply stating that if a story popped up anywhere on the Internet, it's considered published, is overly broad and overly punishing. If a story was previously published in an e-zine, then yes I can see where that's cut and dried. But what if you published the story on your own personal blog? If you still own the rights to the story and you have the ability to pull the story down if need be, how does that count as previously published?

Previously published material accepted!

Some publishers clearly state in their guidelines that reprints are accepted, which I think is a good thing in that these publishers are recognizing the fact that some e-zines/magazines don't last a very long time and sometimes it's good to find another home for a well written story. Some also state while reprints are accepted, the story itself had to originally appear in a magazine with a circulation of less than 5,000.

Still others, while they may clearly state that new material is accepted, they are open to reprints depending on how well known the writer or well respected the writer is, or even with the reverse of how well known and well respected the e-zine/magazine is.

However, the one consistent point that all of these publishers/editors agree on is word count. Unless you're specializing in flash fiction or micro-flash fiction, most publishers/editors want stories that clock in under 5K words. This is by far the easiest part of any submission guideline to meet, and if you can't meet that (like I couldn't for quite a years), then perhaps you should take a class on creative writing (like I should've back in the day).

To sum it up, submission guidelines, while on the surface seem to be nothing more than a sadistic ploy to make sure that you never get published unless you grovel and boot lick, are there to really prove one salient fact: That you can follow directions.

If you can't follow directions to something as simple as submitting a well written short story to a publisher, then really, what's that say about you?

Well?

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Blonde's Common Sense?

I know I'm gonna get crucified for this but as I'm fond of saying when I get a blinding case of the obvious, I had no brain cells over the weekend to write something original

Blonde #1

As a Boston trucker stops for a red light, a blond driver jumps out of the car behind him, runs up to his truck and knocks on the door. The trucker lowers the window, and she says, "Hi, my name is Stephanie, and you are losing some of your load!" The trucker ignores her and proceeds down the street. When they stop for the next red light, she does the same thing and again at the third red light. But this time, when the light turns green, the trucker revs up and races to the next light. After he stops, he hurriedly gets out of his truck and runs back to the blonde's car, knocks on her window, and as she is lowering it, says, "Hi, my name is Ken, it's winter here in Boston, and I'm driving the SALT TRUCK!"

Blonde #2

A blonde decided she needed something new and different for a winter hobby. She went to the bookstore and bought every book she could find on ice fishing.

For weeks she read and studied every book, hoping to become an expert in the field. Finally she decided she knew enough, and out she went for her first ice fishing trip.

She carefully gathered up and packed all the tools and equipment needed for the excursion. Each piece of equipment had its own special place in her kit.

When she got to the ice, she found a quiet little area, placed her padded stool, and carefully laid out her tools. Just as she was about to make her first cut into the ice, a booming voice from the sky bellowed, "There are no fish under the ice!"

Startled, the blonde grabbed up all her belongings, moved further along the ice, poured some hot chocolate from her thermos, and started to cut a new hole. Again the voice from above bellowed, "There are no fish under the ice!"

Amazed, the blonde wasn't quite sure what to do, as this certainly wasn't covered in any of her books. She packed up her gear and moved to the far side of the ice. Once there, she stopped for a few moments to regain her calm. Then she was extremely careful to set everything up perfectly--tools in the right place, chair positioned just so, everything.

Just as she was about to cut this new hole, the voice came again, "There are no fish under the ice!"

Petrified, the blonde looked skyward and asked, "Is that you Lord?"

The voice boomed back, "No, this is the manager of the skating rink!"

Blonde #3

A blonde, wanting to earn some extra money, decided to hire herself out as a "handy-woman" and started canvassing a nearby well-to-do neighborhood. She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any odd jobs for her to do.

"Well, I guess I could use somebody to paint my porch," he said. "How much will you charge me?"

The blonde quickly responded, "How about $50?"

The man agreed and told her that the paint and everything she would need were in the garage. The man's wife, hearing the conversation, said to her husband, "Does she realize that our porch goes all the way around the house?"

He responded, "That's a bit cynical, isn't it?"

The wife replied, "You're right. I guess I'm starting to believe all those 'dumb blonde' jokes we've been getting by e-mail lately."

A short time later, the blonde came to the door to collect her money.

"You're finished already?" the husband asked.

"Yes," the blonde replied. "And I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats."

Impressed, the man reached into his pocket for the $50 and handed it to her.

"And by the way," the blonde added. "It's not a Porsche, it's a Lexus."

Blonde #4

Dear Diary,

Last year, I replaced all the windows in my house with those expensive double-pane energy efficient kind...but this week I got a call from the contractor complaining that his work had been completed a whole year ago and I had yet to pay for them...boy oh boy, did we go around!!

Just because I'm blonde doesn't mean that I am automatically stupid.

So I proceeded to tell him just what his fast talking sales guy had told me last year...that in one year the window would pay for themselves.

There was silence on the other end of the line, so I just hung up and I have not heard back...guess I won that stupid argument....

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm A Walkin' That-A-Way!

I'm a walkin' that-a-way and this-a-way and I's windin' up at the rootin' tootin' rock'em sock'em niftiest blog this side of the Thames (New London) River, Shooting Suburbia, and I'm carrying with me a slew of homemade non-fattening cheesy videos.

Won't you join me?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Which Way Did He Go?

There are times where I truly feel like the old Far Side cartoon called "How To Blow A Fisherman's Mind", in which you have a fisherman paralyzed with inaction 'cause the eternal question "Fish or cut bait?" is racing through his head.

Well, if you substitute fisherman with writer and add one more item to the equation, you pretty much get the dilemma I currently find myself in.

"Write, or submit short story? Write or submit novel?"

Considering that I'm pretty good at multi-tasking, this should be ridiculously simple for me to execute, right?

Riiiiiiiiiight.

1}Write! This should be a no-brainer as the current project that I'm working on, I actually like working on because I'm seeing a wealth of possibilities not only with this story (of which I have about 25K words written), but possibly connecting another story with it as well. So even though I'm gung ho about working on it, I can't help but feel a little guilty about working on it.

I mean, as I'm writing it, I have this little nagging doubt in the back of my head that I really should be concentrating more on submitting my work for publication and less on writing even though most people say you should keep on writing while you're waiting to hear back on your submissions. So I frequently stop my writing to work on my submissions.

2}Short Story Submission! Okay, this one is also a no-brainer in that the more stories I can get published, the more writing credits I can show when I query my novel. However the problem now becomes trying to find a proper home for my short stories. Why is this a problem?

Well, it's a problem simply because most of my short stories defy easy classification and instead get lumped into the catch-all genre called "Quirky" (see the links for both of my published short stories as prime examples of this quirkiness).

Now if you take the fact that most of my remaining completed short stories fall into the "Quirky" label and couple that with the fact that I loathe doing research for appropriate markets, you can easily see why this is turning into a problem. Eventually I put this aside and turn my attention to the next thorny problem.

3}Novel Submission! This one should also be a no-brainer, but as I've mentioned over the years on this blog, I have a problem with the glacial response of the publishing industry as it pertains to queries. I also have the underlying problem of trying to properly define exactly what genre my current novel falls under. The initial classification I thought it fell under (Erotica), turned out to be an erroneous assumption. So thus I have to re-tool the query process by refocusing on what kind of publisher and/or agents I should tackler.

This also raises the question of how many queries should I have out there to begin with. I mean, how many is too many? Eventually I do stop working on this issue simply because I find it to be rather large hill that I'm too tired to climb anymore and thus I revert back to working on question #1.

However, working on writing does conveniently neglect and push to the side the issue of become a bigger success than I already am. On the surface, I'm overjoyed about the fact that I have two short stories published and that I'm a moderately successful blogger.

But then I'm always asking myself, "Do I want more?"

And the problem is that my answer winds up being the ultimate waffle.

"Do I continue to write for the pure pleasure of it or do I submit in order to better myself?"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Be A Professional Today!

I was having a hard time in coming up with a topic to bloviate about when I suddenly (or inadvertently) remembered about an involuntary class that I had to take last week. Presto! Instant subject to bloviate about!

For the second time in my storied and illustrious state career...I should say for the second time during the second phase of my storied and illustrious state career....I had to take a class on professionalism with 22 of my co-workers. The first time I had this bad boy by the gonads was back in 2007, when I got fed up with an 1199 union member asking me the same question over and over, so I RESPONDED TO HIS E-MAIL IN CAPS AND FINISHED WITH THE TAG LINE "DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR, CRYSTAL OR OTHERWISE?"

Suffice to say that behavior learned in the chat rooms does not necessarily go over well in the business world.

Anywho, the idea behind this latest incarnation (I think) is that we (as in my whole dept.) should treat the people we are in contact with on a daily basis with professionalism, regardless of the fact that it doesn't flow both ways. Are we treated with professionalism by others?

F no!

We get dumped on, jumped on, grumped on, thumped on, disrespected, criticized, marginalized, ostracized and cannibalized. And yet we all take this abuse with a grain of salt, a pinch of saltpeter and a glop of cynicism.

I think what bothers me the most about having to take this class is that we have to take this class. Having us take this class, to me, is tantamount to saying that we're not taking all of the excrement that's being shoveled our way with the proper Stepford wife mentality.

Suffice to say no one is happy about going to a training class for seven hours to learn how to suck up to idiots who are incapable of behaving in an intelligent and rational manner.There is no way on God's green hectare that you can make a class on professionalism interesting, especially since people would rather spend the day getting a jump on their work load for the next week then sit around listening to someone lecture them on professionalism.

Anywho, that's how I spent the day before Columbus day at work, listening to three very nice people talk about professionalism in the work place. The usual topics were covered: e-mail etiquette, phone etiquette, people etiquette (aka respect) and an hour lecture on proper attire and fashion.

Yup, you read correctly, I said "fashion". Now for the other two guys that were in the class with me, it was pure hell on earth for them to listen to someone talking about what you can or can't wear in an office setting, a field setting, or even a courtroom setting (gotta remember, my agency is about 85% female to 15% men). As for me, I tried to make the best of a very sleep inducing lecture. Considering that I'm a writer and a blogger in my spare time, I spent that hour approaching the subject from that point of view.

And for about twenty minutes, I was able to pick up some useful tips on clothing and accessories, and I was even able to contribute to the conversation by explaining why I was asking certain questions in the first place (I write my stories with a lot of female characters and I need to make them as accurate as possible with the confines of the story). However, the remaining forty-five minutes were spent doodling and coming up with song titles/t.v. titles that would match up with either what the lecture was all about (Fashion, Sharp Dressed Man), or how I was feeling (Why Me?, Mr. Bill) at the time.

When all was said and done, I came away not with a refreshed purpose of self, but with a feeling of deja vu. By deja vu, I mean that all the warm fuzzies that we got would all disappear in a day, simply because the class never really addressed the underlying issues that are collectively felt by our unit each and every day.

So the question for you the reader is: Ever had to take a mandatory class on something that either really didn't pertain to you or glossed over the underlying issues that caused you to have to take the class in the first place?

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Modern Day Sayings Of Zen

Feeling mighty unoriginal today, so I found this old e-mail from 2004 that I thought I would share with everyone. You know, a funny so that you can enter the weekend with a smile on your face.

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.

2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire.

3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.

4. Sex is like air. It's not important unless you aren't getting any.

5. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

6. No one is listening until you fart.

7. Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.

8. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

9. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

10. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

11. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

13. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

14. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

15. Some days you are the bug; some days you are a windshield.

16. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.

17. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

18. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

19. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

20. Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

21. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

22. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.

23. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

24. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

25. We are born naked, wet, and hungry, and get slapped on our ass...then things get worse.

26. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

27. There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

28. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

29. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday...around age 11.

30. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.............

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Well, That Was Interesting

Now be honest, did you not have a refreshing break from reading repetitive updates about my writing during the latter part of October? Fess up, you know that reading a few short stories as well as a companion post about me getting my comeuppance yet again AND watching a video or two, was better than me blathering on and on about what I've been writing, or been submitting, or having rejected.

Of course it was!

And now that you've had your brain cells rejuvenated, it's time to return to that wonderful slop that you've come to like about as much as scrapple, called "Writing Wednesday". And as you know, the main feature of "Writing Wednesday" is me blathering about all things related to my (mis)adventures in writing. So without further ado, let's begin at the beginning.

1} REJECTED!I received what had to be the quickest rejection I've ever experienced for a story last weekend. I submitted Line 21 to Ellora's Cave and according to their guidelines, the initial response time is two days to four weeks. For me, it was two days. I submitted it on October 29th and received my rejection on October 31st. That rejection actually got me to thinking about what Line 21 isn't, and what it is, so a small readjustment in stratergy will be taking place in the coming weeks, mostly in the form of what publisher I should be submitting my manuscript to.

For those who were wondering what the second fastest rejection of a story was, it was one week, back in 2009.

2} LATEST WRITING PROJECT! Due to the ongoing aggravation that is my real life coupled with the remnants of Storm Alfred this past week, I managed to accomplish very little in the way of adding excess verbiage to "Blackness In The White Sand". However, that isn't to say that things haven't been totally quiet on that particular front, because it hasn't. To refresh your memory about my writing habits, one of the things that I like to do is to print out what I write so that whenever I have some down time, I can do a little judicious editing/note taking/outlining/etc. etc. etc. before going back to writing.

Anyways, I got to thinking about the content of this particular project and how to reconcile that to my personal opinion about crime fiction (click here for a refresher). The main reason as to why I got to thinking about it is that the last thing that I want to do is sound like hypocrite, you know, complaining about a particular genre and then kind of/sort of writing something similar with my current project.

I know I mentioned early on that I was upping the level of violence in this current project simply because I thought that the basic plot required a level of violence that I've tried to stay away from for the past five years or so.

So I would like to solicit your opinion on this particular point if I may. Earlier in the year, I posted an excerpt from the original version of "Blackness In The White Sand" because I wanted to give everyone a basic idea on where I wanted to go with the new version. This time, I'm posting an updated version of that previous snippet, and I would like to know if I'm making too much about the "Do as I say, not do as I do" angle with this.

Warning: The excerpt that you're about to read is extremely heavy on graphic sex and heavy on violence. Reader discretion is strongly advised.

Also, before you even think about apologizing for not reading it, please don't. Over the years, I think I've gotten know everyone's personal tastes and values pretty well, so I will not be offended if you choose not to read my excerpt. I try to respect everyone's personal tastes and values, which is why I always put up a disclaimer/warning to let people know that something might run counter to their personal tastes/values.

And for those of you out there who might be using this blog as a pit stop before continuing on your journey, I don't consider this to be censorship. I consider this to be simply looking out for my fellow blog readers who might not be comfortable with what I write about from time to time. I write what I write because I enjoy what I write, but I also understand that what I write is not necessarily everyone's cup of coffee, which is why I have another blog that was created with the express purpose of having a home for some of my more salacious postings.

With that being said, I now present to you another excerpt from my latest writing project entitled "Blackness In The White Sand".

Monday, November 7, 2011

Statistic Shmatistic, What I Want To Know Is...Why?



The video has absolutely no connection with this post, but I'd just recently heard it for the first tim in about 16 years so I thought I would share with all of you on this bright cheerful Monday

The other day, I got to exploring the various components of the new dashboard. There were a couple of reasons as to why I did this: one, because I had too much time on my hands and two, it was trying me absolutely buggy that a particularly old post had so many F'n page views.

1,945 to be exact.

I repeat, one thousand nine hundred forty five page views to a two year old post that I eventually edited down to an explanation as to why it wasn't there anymore earlier this year.

So I got to exploring the statistical part of the dashboard that contains a wealth of information for those who are serious about blogging and know how to use. Fortunately, I ain't one of those individuals. I just wanted to have an answer to the question that is part of this post title.

Why?

Why would a post have over 1,900 page views and continue to average 85 page views a month even after I had edited the crap out of the post. So the first thing I looked at, or tried to look at, was the page views on the post part of the dashboard. It's that little envelope symbol next to a given post on your dashboard next to the number of comments for a given post. The reason I say "tried" is that the little icon wouldn't highlight for me, which was probably due to not having Google Analytics embedded in my blog.

Stymied, I went to search in the traffic source section of the stats page, but the only that stood out was a relatively new search engine that is in the same vein as Digg or Reddit. I checked out the link, but the about page wasn't too helpful beyond telling me it was a forum that was heavily moderated.

Again stymied, I wandered back to my blog and to the post to see if there were any back links connected to it, but nothing blatant stood out.

By this point, I was really getting annoyed about this particular post. Why? Well, besides it having so many page views, the fact that a two year old post from a part of my cyber life that I choose not to participate in anymore was sticking out like a sore thumb by being a constant reminder of that particular part of my life.

Because of those factors (a chapter in my life that is permanently closed, an old post that has way too many page views for the content it contained), I decided to do something that I've only done once this year and really none since 2009: nuke a previously published post.

There was one interesting side effect to the nuking of that post besides it vanishing from my top ten list: the new number one in my top ten list has almost as many page views (1,726) as the nuked post. However, I'm kind of loathe to nuke that one too, simply because it contains a link to a picture post on Shooting Suburbia and that post has about 100 page views itself. For the record, the all time second on the list is "All Points Bulletin" with 518 page views.

I did make a small visual change to the top four list though. If you take peek to your left, you'll see that the four links in question now have snippet previews. Pretty neat, don't you think?

I guess a good way to finish up this post is to ask all of you this: Have you spotted anything out of the ordinary with your blog, specifically the abnormal amount of hits that a particular post of yours has gotten?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Patience Is A Virtue Of The Vindictive

The writer stepped outside on the back porch early one morning and marvled on how purplish the morning sky was. Yawning and stretching, he casually walked down the steps and strolled over to the hammock that was calling out ever so faintly, "It's fresh and cool under these shady elms."

"Well, who could resist such an enticing invite as that," he said out loud.

He carefully sat down and swung his legs over. After spending a couple of minutes getting himself situated, he gave the hammock a small push and within a few minutes drifted off to sleep.

However, his quiet state of slumber did not last for very long as a distant rumbling started to violent shake the trees. As the rumbling grew closer and stronger, it threw the writer from the hammock and started a wild stampede of small animals and birds.

The writer tried to protect himself the best that he could but was simply no match for the multitude of irritants that pounded his body unmercifully.

When it finally subsided, the writer slowly and painfully stretched out his body, before rolling onto his back and passing out. When he came to some several minutes later, he found himself in the middle of a solar eclipse.

"What the?" said the writer as he started to crawl away from the solar eclipse's painful sun rays.

Suddenly the eclipse stepped closer and grabbed his ankles, before leaning in to give the writer a clearer picture. Much to the writer's embarrassment, it was his muse that had a firm grip on his ankles and not a solar eclipse.

She slapped his face a couple of times and said, "I'm back from my little sojourn at the other side of the valley. Got anything new for me to experience?"

"What? No hello, how are you, how's it going, did you miss me?"

"Okay. Hello, how are you, how's it going, did you miss me?"

"Cute."

She leaned in and kissed his forehead. Beeping his nose, she said, "I always am. So do you have anything for cute little me?"

"You beat everything," said the writer as he stuck out his hand.

"Yup. That's why you like me so much," said the muse as she grabbed his hand and yanked him to his feet. Hanging onto his hand, she added, "So where is it?"

"What, the story?"

"Yes."

The writer suddenly pulled her closed and whispered in her ear, "If you look over my shoulder, you'll see a pimped out Tonka 4x4 gleaming in the morning sun. In the front seat is your story. However, make sure you start the engine, because this song will be the key that unlocks your latest adventure in time."



The muse looked over his shoulder and squealed with delight. She threw the writer down and ran over to the pimped out Tonka 4x4 and dove through the open window. She started the engine and as the opening chords grew louder in intensity, the 4x4 took off and transported our mercurial muse to a world where Patience Is A Sin.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Good Thing About Storm Alfred

Got a two part post for ya today. Part one starts here while part two takes place at Shooting Suburbia.

On October 29, 2011, Connecticut got smacked with a rare snowstorm.

The video that you're about to watch shows the lighter side of the snowstorm called "Storm Alfred". Please pay special attention to what you see in the background of the video because the companion video on Shooting Suburbia will show you the end result of some of that background after "Storm Alfred" dropped its one foot of heavy sticky snow in my town.

In the meantime, please enjoy this frolicking video highlighting the good thing about "Storm Alfred".


And now, if you walk this way (and no, not like Roger Rees in Men In Tights), I will meet you at Shooting Suburbia for the not-so-good thing of "Storm Alfred".

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloweenie!

Yes, it's time for one of the few holidays in which adults can act like the kiddies, and the kiddies can act like themselves. It's also one of my favorite holidays too. Not because of all the candy that is available for consumption, which I used to enjoy when I was my two little juvenile delinquent's ages but if I tried to eat and enjoy today, I would probably do this:


No, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays not only because of the fact that its the one time of the year that people can dress up in any kind of costume that their warped imagination can think of and not get into too much trouble with, but because of the fact that those same costumes can and do, invite people like to drop their imagination into overdrive.

In my case, since I write and blog, my imagination looks at all the potential "what ifs" for story ideas. And two years ago, Halloween week brought a plethora of "what ifs" for story ideas, and one of those story ideas stayed in my head long enough for me to flesh it out and write a nifty story.

The basis of the idea was pretty simple. I went grocery shopping at a now defunct (for Connecticut that is) grocery store and saw a female cashier dressed up as a cat, complete with whiskers, ears and a tail. The image stuck when I got home, so I decided to sit down and write a story based on that image. Four days later, I finished up the story while I was manning the door at our house for Halloween.

I proceeded to spend the next year and a half (2009 thru early 2011), tweaking and entering the story in the various writing contests I happened to come across. Eventually I changed tactics and started submitting it to a few magazines, partially for the idea of trying to build up some publishing credits while I was submitting Line 21, and partially to see if I could find someone else besides the fantastic e-zine Beat To A Pulp to publish a story of mine.

Success came for the story in June of this year when The Cynic Magazine agreed to publish my story entitled "Red Stripe", of which the link can be found near the top of the front page of this blog.

So this is why Halloween is my favorite holiday: from the simple observation of a young lady dressed up like a cat, came a story about a day in the life of a punk rock singer, which in turn became my second commercially published short story.

However, for those of you who might want a better visual for Halloween, give this video a shot.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Retooling Has Begun?

Unlike last Sunday's post, in which it really was much ado about nothing much (Facebook and an upcoming preview for Monday and Wednesday's posts), this one is actually relevant to the part of my life that all of you have come to appreciate and enjoy.

Blogging.

To whit, I decided to drop a fifty cent piece in that rare creature called a payphone and persuade my one my vacationing blogs to grace us with their presence again.

So the unfortunate blog that happened to answer that unwanted phone call was Shooting Suburbia. After much gentle persuasion (which consisted of me threatening to tweak its template into something horribly disgusting), it decided to come back from its vacation spot of downtown Frostbite Falls and grace us with a guest appearance.

So if you could, please take a walk with me over to Shooting Suburbia to experience and critique my attempt at shooting a video.

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-16 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at georgebjr2006@gmail.com