Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Be Prepared

So says the Boy Scout motto (note, I was one once).

The other day (like Monday), a drive-by reader who must've found my blog either through the "next blog" button or from a comment that I'd made on YA oriented blog, made a rather lengthy comment before leaving.

Among the thing that she'd mentioned was that I'd won a book award and that she also wanted to do an interview.

Naturally curious, I clicked on her profile and found a link to her very popular (about 750 followers) blog. After briefly perusing the front page (this person was a writer of MG Fantasy and an illustrator), I decided to take her up on her offer.

So I sent her an e-mail and a few hours later, I had gotten a response. I scanned the questions and I was about to print them out for future use, when one particular question caught my eye, which in turn caused me to reconsider and turn down her offer.

The question said: "When did you come up for the idea of your book Cedar's Mountain?"

My friends, no matter what you do for a primary job that pays the bills, puts food on the table and clothes on your back, or what you do for a worthwhile secondary pursuit, you will agree with me that you should always be prepared to answer any question or swerve that you may come across.

You always want to make sure that you go into a given situation at the top of your game.

Clearly, this person did not have her "A" game, because if she was on her "A" game, she would've realized thirty seconds after either reading the front page or the about page, that Cedar's Mountain was a blog.

Not a book.

Now I totally understand the concept of networking and driving traffic to one's blog. But if you're gonna network and link up to other blogs, make damn sure that all of your info is spot on.

In my particular case, calling my blog a book is the fastest way of me completely ignoring your blog and writing a post that is critical of your research abilities. I would also like to point out that you should make sure that the blog you want to link up with is appropriate for your readership.

In other words, if you write MG or YA stuff, chances are that hooking up with a blog that is maintained by a writer who writes adult oriented fiction with leanings towards semi to completely graphic sexual situations would be in anyone's best interests.

Anyways, I'm hoping that this person responds to my last e-mail. Why? Because in her response to my turning down her offer, she said that this was the information that she'd gleaned from googling my name.

Why she would be googling my name in the first place is something that is somewhat troubling to me, since my full name isn't exactly well known in the blogging or writing community. About the only place that you'll find my full name is in two e-zines and my book blog.

Perhaps I just answered my own question with that last sentence.

In any event, the moral of this post is that no matter what you do in life for work or pleasure, make sure you don't come off looking like this.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Hi gang!

Small problem. I'm not sure if I have an original thought provoking and possibly entertaining post for you today. This is due to the fact that not only did I spend last week playing catchup at work (which is why the posts of 6/20 thru 6/24 were written two weeks ago) but last week also featured the following escapades:

1} Stitches removed this week.
2} Son's graduation on Thursday.
3} Son's graduation party on Saturday.
4} Family friend celebrating her 80th birthday with a monster picnic blowout at the other town park called Churchill Park on Sunday

So naturally, I chose not to write any new blog posts last week for this week, which is why you didn't see anything at Shooting Suburbia this past weekend. Which left me with the predicament of what to do for Monday, since I'm well known for not skipping posting days just for the hell of it. While I was sitting at my computer two Saturdays ago (18th) feeling very blue (long private story that will stay just that), I tried to think of something that was somewhat upbeat and non-aggravating to write about.

Problem was, I couldn't think of anything really upbeat and non-aggravating to write about. The only thing that I did come up with was the scintillating idea of what I mentally write in my head while I'm out walking on Saturdays to do my morning errands. Which really wouldn't amount to much, so that idea quickly fell by the wayside.


Back to the drawing board I went, and unfortunately, spent the rest of that afternoon shooting blanks. Which brings us back to the problem of what to write for Wednesday, because in all seriousness, this post has turned into one big steaming pile of festering goo.

Oh well, I'll think of something to write for Wednesday. Not sure what it'll be, because this week my attention will be greatly diverted to the act of house sitting/animal sitting/teenager sitting. Why?

Because wife, mother and child are going to Sturbridge for a dance competition that will occupy their time right through the July 4th weekend.


Friday, June 24, 2011

God On Lawn Care

God said, "Fran, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles."

St. Francis answered, "It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass."

"Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?"

"Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn."

"The spring rains and warm weather probably makes grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy."

"Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week."

"They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?"

"Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags."

"They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?"

"No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away."

"Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?"

"Yes, Sir."

"These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work."

"You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hose and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

"What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life."

"You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away."

"No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?"

"After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves."

"And where do they get this mulch?"

"They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch."

"Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie do you have scheduled for us tonight?"

"'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a story about..."

"Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Ears Are Bleeding! Whoops, Those Darn Rose Colored Glasses Are At It Again

Yup, it's the return of the ungodly and unwieldy post title. I'm still recovering from the events of last week, so this post will be light on the snarkiness and heavy on whatever zero tolerance that we all go through on a daily basis in our lives that can often manifest itself, at least in my case, with run-on sentences and a short fuse.

Trust me gang, a bald 46 year old guy with a short fuse and an empty computer screen is something that you do not want to experience if you're in a tolerable mood.

Okay, now that we got that pesky little whatever out of the way, let's get on to the purpose of this post.


Or rather, the complete lack of writing.

It's Wednesday, which means a post about writing is in order. However, the real world made its presence known and felt not only this past week, but this week as well. Since I'm really in a pissed off mood about my lack of writing and lack of submissions and I don't want to turn this post into one big fat ginormous whine, let's move on to a lighter subject.


Last week, in order to take my mind off of the current issue at hand, I decided to do a little online shopping and use the Amazon gift cards that I got for my b'day. So the first thing that I'd did when I got to the website was to log in. So I clicked on "new customer" and immediately got an error message once I popped in my e-mail addy. Seems that all of the Amazon websites both here and abroad co-ordinate their info, so when I'd used the UK version some two+ years ago to buy a Jack Martin book, it kept my e-mail addy.

So after fixing that particular issue (creating a new password because I completely forgot what the old one was), I did my shopping. When I'd finished, I had 9 C.D.'s, mixing the used with the new, so of course I had to use my C/C for the shipping. The 9 got whittled down to 8 when Amazon sent me an updated e-mail saying one of the CD's was no longer available so it was being eliminated from my order.

In no particular order of importance, here is what I'd ordered for music, along with a factoid or two as to why I chose that particular c.d.

1} Aurora Gory Alice by Letters To Cleo: This is replacement for a cassette that I'd played to death. I originally bought the tape for the song "Here And Now" (theme song to some type of late 90's nighttime soap), but the entire album rocks. One of Conan O'Briens favorite cult bands out of Boston.

2} Presidents of the United States by Presidents of the United States of America: funky not flash in the pan novelty rock band who had a monster hit with "Lump" (which was covered by Weird Al, so when that happens, you know that you've made the big time). Still around making good rock music.

3} Centerfield by Jon Fogerty: Again, this is a replacement for a cassette I'd played to death. Originally bought for the song "Centerfield", I got this used because quite frankly, I couldn't see myself spending $30 for a re-mastered anniversary edition.

4} Eric Gales Band by Eric Gales: Again, this is a replacement for a cassette that I'd played to death. Hot debut (1991) of a good blues artist, the one song that got any airplay on rock radio was "Sign of the Storm". Eric was 15 when this album originally came out.

5} Saturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits by various artists: Again, this is a replacement for a cassette that I'd played to death. Lest you think that this tape features a bunch of nobodies, it features artists as diverse as Mary Lou Lord, Liz Phair, The Ramones and the Reverend Horton Heat. One of the few kiddie oriented compilations that I listen to with any kind of regularity.

6} Powertrip by Monster Magnet: Not a replacement for anything, but the song "Space Lord" is what got me hooked. The casino where this video was shot in Las Vegas took some offense to the content, because they thought it was very inappropriate. Judge for yourself.

7} High-Low by Nada Surf: A decent rock band, the main reason as to why I'm purchasing this c.d. is exactly the same as the previous one. The song "Popular" is what hooked me. The high school where this video was shot took serious issue with the content afterwards as they thought it put their school in a bad light. The band is still around, recording and releasing their music on their own private label.

8} Backatown by Trombone Shorty: I first found out about this New Orleans based jazz/funk band through a 30 second promo clip on the only MTV channel that still plays videos called MTVU (college/university). They had this thing called "Ahead Of The Curve" which showcased new and upcoming bands. Anyways, I thought the clip was pretty cool, but didn't think much of it until I heard some of his music on a local college radio station. Click on the title for an idea on who Trombone Shorty is.

And that my friends, is what I did for an hour or so to take my mind of the events of the past week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Scrapple. The Meat Market's Ultimate Revenge

No, no meat oriented post today. I leave that to the professional. Scrapple is the meat market's equivalent of a random musings post, which is what this post will contain.

Scrapple for the brain. Scrapple for the soul.

1} When the doctor says that the pungent smell is simply the end result of cauterization, he neglects to remind you that not only does the smell stay with you for the rest of the day, but it makes eating food a bit of an adventure as well.

2} One of the things that irritate me about most websites is when videos, be it for a story (i.e. ESPN) or a product, automatically starts up when you go to the website or story and happen to move your mouse over the video in question.

3} However, they've gotten more insidious, because if you think that not using your mouse will stop it, it don't. You can be using your up and down and left and right arrows and those annoying videos will still pop up and play.

4} Bullying is everywhere and it's not limited to just children, teens or people who are gay. Take politics for example. Our esteemed guv'nor is trying to apply the bullying tactics that he used on the local level (former mayor he is) at the state level. He says that if we (as in rank and file) don't approve the concession package, he will lay off 7,500 employees. Union says that if we make any kind of comment on our ballot (we are voting this month on concessions) in addition to our vote, our vote will become null and void. My friends, if you remember all the crap that has gone on since 2009 on the national level because the president and senate majority are of the same party, the exact same kind of stuff (pushing through any and all kinds of legislation because the majority party doesn't have to include the minority party in order to get things accomplished) is going on in our state. Did I mention that the SEBAC coalition has filed a lawsuit against the Yankee Institute (a conservative think tank), claiming that they were behind an alleged smear campaign to get the rank and file to reject the concessions package?

5} If you remember from last week, I had bitched about this experience with Sprint. Last Wednesday (6/15), I got a phone call from Sprint stating that I should be getting a refund check for $10 in about two weeks. Hooray, customer service isn't quite dead after all, it's merely comatose.

6} It's been about three weeks since I've given up on using my Google reader to read all the blogs that I follow (105+) and I couldn't be happier. Between subscribing to your blog with your RSS feed and the e-mail, I've had an absolute blast in not having Google drive me insane whenever I attempt to read your blogs. Who would've thunk that Microsoft, Hotmail and Yahoo would make certain things in my online life so much easier to handle. I'll still keep my blog on Blogger, because as much as I like reading blogs on WordPress, I really don't want to change where I excise my demons three to four times a week.

7} Three of the four books that I'd ordered from B&N have come in: Blood Hunter by Sidney Williams; The Devil At Large Erica Jong on Henry Miller; and Beat To A Pulp, Round 1 edited by David Cranmer and Elaine Ash. The fourth one, Night Brothers by Sidney Williams, has not come it yet. Whereas the preceding three arrived within a week of ordering, the fourth is reaching for the back end of the estimated 4 to 14 business days for delivery (item was shipped/mailed on 6/7). Should be interesting to see if it shows up this week, and it should be interesting to see if I have to make contact with the seller over this lack of arrival.

8} Well, there originally was gonna be a eighth, in the form of what music I'd finally ordered from Amazon, but since it wound up being a bit of an adventure in ordering my stuff and I'd started remembering all kinds of interesting factoids about the c.d.'s in question, I'd figure it would be best to make it a stand alone post for later in the week.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Picture Me.....Pictured

I'm not here (am I ever here? good philosophical question to discuss amongst yourselves), I'm over at Shooting Suburbia today.


Happy Father's Day to my dad.

You are missed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A City

Many thanks for the warm thoughts that were given by everyone this past Wednesday. I am truly blessed to have such good friends in the cyber world

Having spent the better part of the past 15 years working in the capitol of our lovely state and having to deal with all the bullshit and the dreaded disease of Action Speaks Louder Than Words has for the most part blinded me to the fact that not all cities, both big and medium sized, in this lovely state are mismanaged like our fair capitol.

This particular fact was driven home this past week as the personal family issue that I've had to deal with has caused me to make numerous trips to New Britain, CT. Making these trips during all hours of the day has allowed me to take a good look at what New Britain is doing and accomplishing with not only their downtown area but on the outskirts as well.

For instance, New Britain is performing a minor rebuild of the downtown area, which when completed, should make it more pliable for businesses and schools be located in the center of the city. They've managed to rehab a notorious street that empties into the downtown so as to make it viable for people to live there as well.

And unlike the garbage dump that surrounds the Hartford Hospital complex, the area that surrounds The Hospital of Central CT (aka New Britain General) is decidedly middle class suburbia at its finest. In addition to the well preserved neighborhoods and lively local businesses, it also boasts of a large park area that Hartford always aspires to but never really has. Large enough to have both baseball/softball games and road races (running that is), it's small enough to have a large outdoor band shell for musical concerts.

Additionally, the free parking area that is located directly across from the hospital, contains a very small park as well which is peppered with all kinds of flowers (mostly roses) and of which the city garden club holds walking tours of during the summer.

One more thing that I would like to mention. Unlike Hartford, which holds absolutely no memories for me whatsoever, New Britain holds a lot of memories for me. For the longest time, New Britain was like my second home, in that I spent quite a bit of time traveling through various parts of the city, due to either visiting family friends, medical appointments, going to church or visiting the campus of CCSU (father taught there, so I basically grew up on the campus, so to speak). So spending time this week in New Britain was like tripping down memory lane, in that I remembered all of the old while admiring the new (example: the church that I got married in, closed due to declining membership and after they gave their outstanding property to a Congregational church across the street, sold the building to the city, which turned it into a thriving theater and cultural arts center) and appreciating the fact that even though New Britain has more than their fair share of monetary woes, they've managed to do something right with what little they got to work with.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yesterday Went Well


Just a quickie.

As the title says, my outpatient surgery went well. Spent most of the day in a drug induced haze, so more likely than not, I'll have no real memory of typing out this post using only two fingers. By the time you read this I should be elsewhere taking care of the other issue on my agenda. Apologies in advance for not responding to your heartfelt comments, but I shall read and appreciate every single one before I publish them.

For those of you who want to perhaps have a little insight into my state of mind for the week, I leave you with one of my favorite Kinks songs:

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Not To Write, Or Do Anything Else That Requires Concentration

As I mentioned last week, I have some personal business that has to be taken care of this week, so I am seriously considering making this my one and only post for the week.

Long title, eh?

The changing of the seasonal weather from cold spring-winter type days to warm springish summer days usually means for me a refreshing change of scenery and a new attitude.

Gone are the long cabin fever type of days in which my writing goes to pot as I struggle to string coherent sentences, paragraphs and plot structure in a linear and chronologically satisfying manner. In their place are the coherent sentences, paragraphs and plot structures that are created when one's butt is transplanted outside and begins to absorb Mother Nature in all of its wondrous glory.

Translation: Inspiration is fed from that big mound of dirt that this blog is named after.

However, that big old mound of dirt and rock has added an unnecessary swerve to me trying to accomplish anything of note.

Think I'm kidding?

Well, to quote Fire Marshal Bill, "Let me tell you something!"

Tell me if this hasn't happened to you.

It's a fantastic late spring/early summer day, and your intention is to get a little writing (or anything else for that matter) done in between bouts of relaxation. So you gather up all of your implements of destruction, which in my case are paper, pen, clipboard and a copy of my latest project, and step outside.

You walk over to your favorite spot, which for me is my driveway, and set up shop. To your right, the big old mound of dirt with various sound emitting from it. Behind you, wind chimes and other assorted noise. In front of you, all kinds of birds piggin' out on three feeders and a birdbath.

You begin to refresh your memory by reading what you've already wrote. You begin to relax as your environment slowly weaves its magic into your very soul.

Suddenly a noise snaps you back to alertness. You take out your cell phone to check the time and discover that you'd just spent that past hour or so not writing, but inspecting your eyelids.

That's right boys and girls, you were spending your time frivolously pursuing whatever memory your brain decided to explore.

And not, repeat, not doing what you'd originally set out to do.

In fact, you managed to do this not once, not twice, not even three times, but four time over two consecutive weekends. Whatever contact you were having with Mother Nature, Father Nature, Doctor Dolittle, Grizzly Adams, or Euell Gibbons was causing you not to be inspired with your creativity.

No sir (or ma'am), it was causing you to become one with Norman Rockwell's America.

You know: a hammock, a warm day, a cool breeze. The three things that combined causes the deadliest thing know to man, woman or teenager....


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Picture This Randomly

"I'm feeling mighty low."

As said by a construction worker to Bugs Bunny, after Bugs had turned him into chopped liver.
Yeah, this weekend is shaping up to be just that bad.

How bad?


Today's post over at Shooting Suburbia is beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the worst posts I've created for that blog in the past 57 weeks. Read it if you dare and afterwards, say to yourself, "I agree, a 2nd grader could've done a better job.


Got my Sprint phone bill a few weeks ago and saw much to my consternation that Sprint cashed my check for the wrong amount. Went to the bank yesterday to confirm that in spite of the fact that I printed the dollar amount out (been doing this since 1997) on the check, they cashed it for $10 more. And gave me the credit on my bill. So being the pleasant sort of fellow who can make any and all customer service reps look like a first grader with bad comprehension skills, I called up and spent 35 minutes talking to three different people about wanting my $10 back. End result? An investigation was opened and maybe I'll get my $10 redeposited into my checking account. Maybe. But they were willing to offer me a $10 credit on my account, which I politely told them to shove it between their collective cheeks, and I'm not talking about the ones located on the face.

However, not all was doom and gloom, although I'm setting the bar down to the height of a grasshopper in order to find a small ray of sunshine. Two of the four books that I'd ordered from B&N came in last week:

Blood Hunter by Sidney Williams
The Devil At Large: Erica Jong on Henry Miller

Still waiting for the other Sidney Williams book "Night Brothers" and of course, the supersized collection edited by the talented David Cranmer.

So far, I have to say that I'm very impressed with the customer service not only from B&N but from the sub-vendors that I'd bought the used books from: Wayne's World of Books Arizona (Blood Hunter) and Wonder Book (Erica Jong). If you can't afford new, check these out for used and hard to find.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Your Unofficial Guide To Home Tutoring (5)

I is next door today. Please join me, will you?

Warning: The content of today's post may make your stomach just a tad more queasy than normal. Eating while reading this strong discouraged.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Cried Uncle Elizabeth Last Weekend!

Uncle Elizabeth was the name of a cat from this movie.

A new twist on a tired phrase. You know, when you finally give up because either you're over matched, under trained, outwitted, outfoxed or just simply banging two bricks on your head in a futile attempt at making music. I suppose I could say, "I cry Auntie!" but really, does it mean the same thing? Does it have the same oomph as Uncle?

I think not.

Memorial Day weekend. I decided to spend some quality time in catching up on my writing. So I did. Problem was that the further along I got with my writing, the more I realized that the passion/motivation/spark simply wasn't there anymore for my current project, Dandelion Tears. So after I got done transcribing 8 handwritten pages to my computer, I reluctantly took the floppy (yes, I still use those things) out of the driver and put it away. I took the hard copy (all 90+ pages) and stuck it in my purple bin of trunk novels.

After I made everything all whitey tighty, I was left with the sticky problem of what to work on next. I mean, everything else that I had scattered about was in various stages of decompostion: a couple of novels, a few novellas, a longish short story, and three or four short stories.

So after giving it a lot of thought, I took out the incomplete full length version of Betrayed! to work on. I dusted off the floppy, checked the date the last time that I'd actually worked on it (2009) and made preparations to retype all 11 chapters, and possibly find a way to use the chapbook as an outline to finish the novel.

However, after shutting down my computer for the early evening break (I use my computer in two hour spurts), I thought about the task that lay ahead of me: lots and lots of rewriting and eventually trying to find a way to incorporate the chapbook into the final version of the novel without making the novel look like I was simply phoning the last part in.

Conclusion? No f'n way did I want to go through that aggravation at this particular point in my writing adventure.

So back to the purple den of inequity went the novel. To replace that novel, I took out the novel that I'd originally put aside in January 2010 when the spark of Line 21 hit me.

A Lascivious Limbo

I spent Memorial Day enjoying the hot steamy weather re-familiarizing myself with the book. I did some general editing, a tiny bit of brainstorming for a character name change, and believe it or not, I found myself becoming quite interested in seeing what was going to happen next.

To refresh your memory on what this book is all about, please click here.

In any event, I got a new project to work on. Well, not really new since I put the thing aside almost a year and a half ago, but it's something that looks like I'll be motivated to work on again. The best part is that its about three-quarters finished, so all I got to do is write a couple of key scenes and tidy up a few loose ends.

Sometimes writing what you need, instead of writing what you want, isn't the be all to end all. If you write what you want, you'll find that your stress and aggravation levels will have one less thing to feed off of.

Now if I only could get motivated in reformatting Line 21......

Monday, June 6, 2011

Writing That Isn't Written Rotten, Just Misunderstood....Sometimes

I am basically a Johnny Come Extremely Lately when it comes to reading e-zines. Lets face it, I really didn't know what an e-zine was until I started blogging in 2008 (hell, I didn't even know what a blog was until I started blogging). Having said that, I now read two e-zines and two e-zine style blogs on a pretty consistent basis, and because I've managed to retain my personal quirk of being a floater among the many things that I like, I can look at things with a more critical eye and greater detachment than most people.

Like the content of the aforementioned zines/blogs.

To save everyone a bit of confusion on just exactly who and what I'm talking about, here are the zines/blogs in question that I read on a daily/weekly basis (depending on their publishing frequency).

Beat To A Pulp
The Flash Fiction Offensive
Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers
The Cynic Magazine

How I came to read them is pretty straightforward: Beat To A Pulp was the first publisher anywhere to take a chance on a story of mine; The Flash Fiction Offensive featured a story by Edward Grainger and I stayed afterwards; Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers was recommended by so many people that I had to check it out; and Cynic is the second publisher that decided to take a chance on me.

For the most part, when I read those e-zines, I usually don't go beyond that. Not because of some deep rooted need to be the ever popular Anonymous, but simply because if I were to offer my honest opinion/feedback on a story, I'm not quite sure how it would be received. I do know that the few times I've left comments on stories (mostly at BTAP, only one at TKC and FFO, and Cynic doesn't allow), I got the distinct feeling that I was either intruding or showing my ignorance to everyone.

So I basically show up, read the stories, wonder why people make the comments that they make on those stories, and move along without offering an opinion, because honestly, as much as I like to be different, being the only sour fish in a pool of positivity is not how I want to make an impression in a particular part of the Cyber World (and yes, this means I've even stopped using the word "interesting" as a comment to describe my displeasure with a story).

Writers are very unique and exceptional creatures of habit. I've found over the past couple of years that most writers are very gung ho about other writers who write in the same genre that they write in. Whether it be YA, romance, mystery, crime, western, what have you, my observations has been pretty spot on. While I'm not saying that's a bad thing, because a writer should support a fellow writer when the need arises, sometimes being perpetually gung ho about a genre can turn off the casual or drive-by reader from delving deeper into that genre.

Now I consider myself, as it applies to fiction of any type and/or length, to be one of those casual readers. I never really got into fiction while I was younger. Probably when I first developed a true appreciation for reading, which was around my daughter's age (10), I naturally migrated towards one main genre: non fiction.

Being both the naturally inquisitive and somewhat intelligent sort of person that I was, I found non-fiction to be the be all to end all in my reading horizons. To be honest with everyone, I very rarely touched fiction. How rare? Prior to blogging (2008), the amount of fiction novels that I've read probably numbered around 60, the bulk of which were pulpish westerns that my grandfather had that I enjoyed reading (once I got done thumbing through his issues of Playboy) and the rest scattered historical fiction serials/fantasy serials of various lengths. And yes, this covers about thirty years of reading.

Fast forward to now. Now is reading the various e-zines and the well written stories contained within and asking myself, "Am I missing something here?"

I read the story and I appreciate the fact that it's well written, but that's about all I can appreciate. I don't get the same feeling that the rest of the commenters get in that the stories simply don't resonate or touch me in the same way; and sometimes, the story can fly so far over my head in some particular way that I'm simply turned off by it. As a matter of fact, there are a quite a few stories in which people have made a wicked fuss over, so after checking them out to see what all that fuss was, I wind up sitting there scratching my head and asking myself that question in the preceding paragraph.

So let me ask everyone a question: in order to truly appreciate the type of stories that are often found in the first three e-zines listed (the last seems to be more in tune to my particular wavelength of fiction) does it help that one writes in that type of genre extensively? Because I don't write in any of the genres that are contained in those e-zines, and there are some stories out there that in my opinion do not live up to the hype given to them.

I would like to point out that in keeping with my personal rule of not specifically criticizing a particular writer's hard work (although I was very tempted to offer specific examples), I've only made general observations of what I'd read in the past three years, so this post is really about a casual reader's general observations on what he pursues for reading material and nothing else.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Random Pictorial Musings


After a one week hiatus, I'm back with a new pictorial series at Shooting Suburbia called "Is Autumn Winter?" Please check it out.

In other news, keeping on the subject of Shooting Suburbia, I'm thinking about taking a break from it for a while. This current picture series will carry on for the next five weeks, which will bring us to the July 4th weekend. By that weekend, I should have a definite decision. It's not so much as being burned out doing it as the motivation for doing it has greatly diminished to the point of know return. I have another picture disc stored on the computer plus one more that needs to be developed, but who knows when or if that will happen. In any event, I will keep everyone posted on what the fate of that blog will be.

In other other news, I spent my $25 B&N gift card. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions. I managed to buy the following books new/used. The gift card paid for the books, the c/c paid for the shipping.

1} Beat To Pulp: Round One (new)
2} Night Brothers by Sidney Williams (used)
3} The Devil At Large: Erica Jong on Henry Miller (used)
4} Blood Hunter by Sidney Williams (used)

I'll probably get to work on the Amazon cards sometime next week when I'll be on a personal leave of absence from work (no, I'm not in trouble again. I've been a good little worker bee for the past two months and things are slowly getting back to my version of normal) and will have time to kill. Feel free to make your musical suggestions either here or there.

Speaking of that personal leave of absence, I haven't decided whether or not to take a break from blogging as well. I do have two things going on next week that require my attention, but taking frequent breaks from doing those will be an absolute necessity, so I will be giving that a lot of thought.

One of the two things will be a removal of this particular medical malady from the back of my neck. The other is of family nature (that doesn't directly involve me) that I don't wish to share here, but will require some TLC on my part just the same.

Hope your weekend has been a goody for ya! And if you need a little escapism, visit my short story "Red Stripe" at Cynic Magazine!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Gooooduh, The Brad, And The Plug Ugly

The Gooooduh

As promised, here is the link to my second published short story called Red Stripe. The story itself is about a day in the life of a punk rock singer called Krystal. It clocks in just under 5K words and its one of the quirkier stories that I've written.

The inspirations for the story were from the following sources: Beer, a young lady dressed up for Halloween, punk music, speed metal music and a cassette sampler of classical guitar music.

Also, I managed to accomplish another rarity in my writing career: I wrote a clean story. Exactly one swear word is used in the entire story.


The Brad

Much like everyone else in the corroded cyber world that is Google/Blogger, I have finally lost patience with a particular aspect of my blogging life. Namely, my Google Reader. While I was going through a serious amount of aggravation in trying to get a particular link to work (note, unless you're complaining about your blog to Google, customer service is notoriously spotty for their other features) in my recently involuntarily upgraded Google Reader, I decided after I got the problem fixed (note, it really wasn't the reader, but a glitch in my computer that the Norton service tech smartly pointed out early Wednesday morning) that I would never use that feature again.

I've spent the better part of Wednesday and Thursday recalibrating some 80 blogs that I read with some regularity. If you haven't seen me commenting lately, its because I've been busy setting up subscriptions to your blogs, either with your RSS/Atom feed, Hotmail, Yahoo (addy 1), Yahoo (addy 2), on Facebook's Networked Blog app or just simply when some of you are thoughtful enough to post a link to your blog via your wall feed on Facebook.

I still like certain things about Google, which is mostly their e-mail and their search engine. Beyond that though, the jury is now on the fence deliberating with great vigor on the remaining features.

psssst...if you click on the above link, you'll find out about one my favorite early 60's impersonators, of which I have two original copies of his album.

The Plug Ugly

I'm not really sure what to write for this particular part, simply because the only reason why I picked out this phrase was that it was an mid 19th century Baltimore street gang/political club. And if you click on the link, you'll find an interesting sub article in the listing that pretty much dismisses the book "The Gangs Of New York" of which was turned into a film by Martin Scorsese. Well, that plus I like the name.

So there you have it, my version of the wonderful spaghetti western, of which I have the soundtrack to (only soundtrack I actually own on CD). Hope your weekend is a goody for ya!

Oh and one more thing: I'm still looking for suggestions on what kind of music and/or books to get. If you need a refresher, please check out last Sunday's post.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Your Unofficial Guide To Home Tutoring (4)

Yapple dapple.

I'm not here today, as the physical portion of me is busy checking out the sights and sounds of my local Cyber World, which I hope to share with you on Friday.

However, the mental portion did come through to leave you with a piece of humor, so if you mosey a couple doors down, past that stage where all kinds of crazy peoples are listening to mind altering music and doing very strange things with the other crazy peoples, you'll find the latest installment of Dean Davis's Your Unofficial Guide To Home Tutoring.

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) 2008-17 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