Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No Purple Prose From My Pen Today

Words.

The dictionary defines the word "word" as: noun-a meaningful sound or combination of sounds that is a unit of language or its representation in a text.

Sounds pretty basic, right?

And we all know that words fall under four basic groupings: nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. And we have dozens of sub-groups for each of those four basic groupings.

No, I'm not gonna get all intellectual on you. I'll leave that for the professionals

And we definitely know that trying to string those various words together to form sentences and paragraphs, lyrics and chorus, rhyme and meters can often lead to things like this:


Such is the case of yours truly. Yours truly has been spending the past month frantically milking a story idea like the Italian cinema used to do with certain movie genres, before the twin titans of doom (lack of enthusiasm and lack of verbiage) makes their required appearance in my life.

As of last Wednesday, I was working on the second story of a planned trilogy that was both in and out of my comfort zone for preferred genres. The story itself revolves around a backpack that a man was delivering to a client. In my comfort zone, it contained a few familiar topics of choice: sex, beautiful women and fantasy/paranormal. Out of my comfort zone, it contained a few topics that I normally don't touch upon: violence, dead bodies and violence against women.

As of today, I managed to finish the second story, which because of the hurricane/tropical storm Irene that hit and coupled with the fact that I basically stayed offline that past weekend, gave me enough alone time to complete the story.

The interesting (or annoying, take your pick) thing about this trilogy so far is that I had to introduce a couple of plot swerves in order to have the stories make sense. If you remember from last week, I had posted the final paragraph in the first story that basically forced me to write the second story. Well with the second story, I had about six and a half pages written before I realized that I needed to explain that last paragraph. Ain't nothing worse that mentioning something in a story, and in fact basing the continuation of that story on that issue, then completely forgetting to refer to it.

So I had to do a major swerve in order to get the second story to properly continue the first story. The beauty of the genres that I seem to be having the most fun with (fantasy and paranormal) is that it allows certain lapses in judgement to be forgiven, so long as you more than adequately explain those lapses in judgement.

In this particular instance, I had to flesh out the reason as to why one of the protagonists said the word, "sucker" at the end of the first story. Not fleshing it out would've basically meant that I was writing a 5K word story with no coherency and no continuity.

In any event, this is what I got working for me so far:

1} A man who is a "soul catcher" but who is part human as well (a hybrid), who has to make a delivery of a  backpack that he was entrusted to keep.
2} A father who is a renegade hybrid (enjoys feasting on both humans and hybrids).
3} A daughter who is also a renegade hybrid, who is adept at playing both a pseudo-eighteen year old slut and her chronological age, and who has somehow developed a conscience, because...
4} Her father was forced to arrange a hit on the soul catcher and of which she was initially forced to participate in.

So far, the story titles are:

1} The Backpack: which is about the soul catcher retrieving his backpack. This story basically sets the tone for the amount of violence that the rest of the trilogy will have.
2} The Journey: which is about the journey to deliver the backpack. This is where I had to do most of the plot swerves in order for the story to make sense.

Not sure what I'm going to call story number three, but I'm leaning towards "The Delivery" as a working title. In any event, story three won't be started until I get enough time to sit and map it out with any familia interruptus.

And that sums up the non-purple prose from my pen this week. Tune in next week because I might just have purple tinted prose to share with everyone.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Something.....


Delectable that was created by Mother Nature: The view outside my alternative office in Middletown, Connecticut that I visit at least twice a month. The rolling hills coupled with the lazy Mattabesset River offer a breathtaking view that rivals only my blog's namesake for caressing the spirit, relaxing the soul and washing away the stresses and aggravations of the day.

Delectable that was created by God: A young lady in her mid twenties walking down the sidewalk to a church in Cromwell, Connecticut. She was fashionably dressed in a tastefully mid thigh length black skirt with a black blouse that had blue, purple and yellow flames splashed across the front and side. With a pair of black sunglasses on her face, a fashionable pair of comfortable heels and the breeze catching her black hair just so, she was a welcome diversion, however brief, on a hot hazy late August afternoon drive home from work.

Incredibly ugly and a bad first impression: A large burnt orange/burnt red color fish tattoo on a woman's upper arm. My friends, while I truly admire a well drawn tattoo, be it on a male or female, certain types of tattoos should not be visible. If you wish to put a large animal on your body, please put it somewhere so that in order to see it, you actually have to remove a part of clothing.

That was a very pleasant surprise: My wonderful wife read one of my short stories last weekend and her opinion of it was thus, "I liked the story because it was about the four seasons on the mountain, the mountain itself and life on the mountain." I am hoping that she will read my other short story soon.

That wasn't entirely unexpected: A rejection of my short story "The Right Thing", which was featured in the early spring of 2010 at my closed short story blog. I tweaked and tightened the content to make it flow smoother. But I am not worried, for I will eventually find a home for it somewhere. A light hearted romance is always good for the soul.

That I really didn't want to do, but I can't afford an extra $100 a month out of my paycheck/$350 per person deductible increase in my health insurance: I had to sign up for ObamaCare at work last week. This was one of the more revolting pieces of chicanery that was foisted upon the rank & file here in Connecticut. In order not to face that increase, I had to opt in. However, because I have one of six pre-existing conditions (diabetes), I had no choice but to opt in. Sucks moose testicles.

That I really enjoy 100% of the time: You.

So keep yourself safe, keep yourself sane and most importantly, keep doing what makes you you.

For my friends who live on the east coast, I sincerely hope that you made it through Hurricane Irene with minimal damage done to your belongings and zero damage done to you.

For my friends who live elsewhere, don't let nothing stop you from enjoying life.

For everyone, as a dear Facebook friend of mine is very fond of saying and believing, cherish your loved ones.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The 16th Century Absolutely Rocks!

The next time you're washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be in the 16th century.

Yes, you heard correctly. The. 16th. Century.

For instance, did you know that most people got married in June? Why? Because they took their yearly bath in May and still had a decent aroma when June rolled around. However, to be on the safe side (and to keep their stomach settled) the brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide that growing ripeness.

As for bathing, that was truly an adventure. Baths consisted of a big ass tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water. He was followed by his sons and then by the rest of the men, then the women, then finally the children, with the babies dragging up the rear (figuratively). By then the water looked, smelled and probably felt so nasty that you could actually lose someone in it, hence the saying "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

Let me tell you about the living habitat. Most houses had thatched roofs with thick straw piled very high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for the animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice and bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained, it became slippery and sometimes the animals would drop down uninvited, hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."

One side effect of this kind of roof was that there wasn't really any good way to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a major problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up not only your nice clean bed, but whatever extracurricular activities you might be partaking in. Thus, a bed with big posts and a large sheet was the best idea that someone came up with, and viola! the canopy bed was born.

The floor was dirt. Grimy, smelly, disgusting, creepy and gross. Only the wealthy (like anyone who probably made more than five pounds a year) had something other than dirt, hence the saying, "dirt poor". The wealthy had slate floors which would get slippery in the winter, so they would spread fresh thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way, hence, a "thresh hold".

In them days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big ass kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables (they weren't vegetarians by choice you know) and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving the leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight (yum!) and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while, hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

Sometimes though, they were able to get their hands on a good piece of pork, which really pumped up their ego and self-esteem. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man "could bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with the guests and would sit around and "chew the fat".

Those with money (like about 5% of the population) had plates of pewter. Food with a high acid contest caused some of the lead to leach onto the food (extra yummy for the tummy!), causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Most people though (like the remaining 95% of the population) did not have pewter plates, but instead had trenchers, which was a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Often trenches were made from stale bread which was so old and hard that they could be used for quite some time. Trenchers were never washed (OMG!) and a lot of times worms and mold got into the wood and old bread (extra flavoring and seasoning is da bomb!). After eating off of wormy, moldy trenchers, one would get "trench mouth".

Bread was divided according to status (class warfare at its best). Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper crust". Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days (fried brain cells are da best!). Someone bopping down the road would take them for dead (dead body? robbery!) and prepare them for burial (the maggot motel!). They were laid out on the kitchen table (mommy, I can't eat my porridge 'cause daddy is laying in it!) for a couple of days and the family would gather around and party hearty and wait to see if the "deceased" would wake up, hence the custom of holding a "wake".

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury their loved and unloved ones. So they would dig up the coffins and take the bones (yeech!) to a "bone house" and reuse the grave (recycling!). When reopening the coffins, 1 out 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized that they had been burying people alive (ALIVE!!!!). So they thought they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer".

And that's the god honest 100% unfiltered, unadulterated truth about a few of things in the ultra modern age of the 16th century.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Writing That Ain't Written Rotten

Here we go gathering flakes in May, leaves in May, buds in May. Here we go gathering paper in May so early in the evening.

Mmmmmm.....doobies.....

Not necessarily stoned, but mutated.

Anyways, not much to report on the home front for writing, but since this is Writing Wednesday, and not Wasted Wednesday, we will dispense of the drug related humor that was sponsored by the following: A children's nursery rhyme, Homer Simpson and Devo, and instead commence with the following random tidbits of minutia that will culminate at the end with a very FREE (seriously) offer.

1} Short story trilogy. This past week I began work on my second story of a planned trilogy. Originally I didn't plan to write a trilogy, but because I had ended my story with the following paragraph:

Her father closed the door, took out his cell and punched in a number. Seconds later, he said, "He's on his way. Can't miss him as Charla is driving the minivan. Are we good then? Great. Pleasure doing business with you. Goodbye."

Closing the phone, he shook his head and said, "Sucker."

It left me really with no other choice but to pen at least one more story to compliment the first one. And since I was playing with a self imposed limit of 5,500 words, that meant a third (at the very least) would also be in order.

And like normal, I'm having more progress with this planned trilogy via longhand than I am with the computer. Also, whereas the title of the first story is called "The Backpack", the current title of the second story is called "The Delivery". I'm toying with calling the third story "Acceptance" but it's not quite concrete yet.

2} Novel "A Lascivious Limbo". As I mentioned previously, my current project has been shelved until I get this short story out of my system. I haven't done any work on it since the end of July, but I'm shooting for September to get back into the swing of things. Still got a funeral, wake and a suicide to write, but at least I got the basic foundation for those items written.

3} Novel "Line 21". Not much to report on this front. I'm still waiting for a response from the publisher that I had submitted to back in early July. Once I get that response, I'll figure where to go from there. Been doing some research in the way of other publishers via Duotrope, so hopefully I'll find some that will pan out for me.

4} FREE STUFF!. That's right, you heard correctly. I gots free stuff, or to be more precise, a free item. The other day, I got my non-complimentary subscription to one of the literary journals that had sponsored a story contest last year in which I had entered a story (no, not Red Stripe, although it would be ironic if it was for that). Usually when I get those journals, they get the briefest of glances from me, then find a home in the recycling barrel. However, because this thing is a rare hardcover (most journals are soft covers), I thought I would do something better with it.

Namely, offer it to the first reader who wants, free of charge. The literary journal in question is the Tampa Review, volume #41, published by The University of Tampa. If you're interested in this fine literary journal, let me know in the comment section or shoot me an e-mail with the particulars and I will mail it to you free of charge. If I have more than one reader interested, I will have a random drawing to decide who gets this nifty volume.

In addition to getting this fine literary journal in your mailbox, I will also send to you a copy of my self-pubbed chapbook "Betrayed!" This book remains one of my better attempts at writing a medium length short story. It has action, it has sex (although not as graphic as what I wrote for Line 21 nor what I was writing for Dandelion Tears) and it has drama.

For those of you who may be interested in taking another look at my writing, especially since I got a few published stories under my belt, I'm offering "Betrayed!" for the low price of $5 (which is more than 30% off my list price). I'll pick up not only the sales tax, but the shipping and handling as well. For more details, please check out my book blog.

Monday, August 22, 2011

T.V. Viewing, Made A Reader Out Of Me!

Apologies to Sir Paul for tweaking a chorus from his song "Ballroom Dancing"

Actually, it helped make a reader out of my wife.

They say what makes a truly successful relationship, or in this case a marriage, is the ability to not to nitpick about certain things that the other doesn't do. Take reading for example. I'm a voracious reader. Always have been and always will be. My wife, on the other hand, is a voracious non-reader. Seriously. The only items I've ever seen her read in the past 24 years of togetherness has been the cook book, the occasional crocheting magazine, the teen & tween magazines and very recently, the newspaper.

Books on the other hand, are like the equivalent of a Democrat advocating small government and less taxes. In other words, a pipe dream fantasy of mine that will not come true with any degree of consistency.

But there is hope (hence the title of the post) and actual glimpses of that hope do pop up from time to time. When they do, I do my damnedest to help in any way that I humanly can. But the glimpses that do pop, are always without exception, facilitated by something my lovely wife has seen on television. So this post is going to be about the half dozen or so books that my wife has read in the past 20 years that have originated from something that she watched on television.

1} All Creatures Great And Small, All Things Bright And Beautiful, All Things Wise And Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot. I was the original culprit for this four pack of books, as I had gotten hooked on the BBC series back in the late 80's when it was being shown on PBS (which I had first learned about via an audio book of selected shorts). I introduced my wife to the series and she enjoyed it immensely. When the opportunity arose to buy a special paperback collection of his books, my wife bought them and has over the past two decades read them from cover to cover.

2} The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network And Cable TV Shows, 1946 to the present (1994). This bad boy was the only normal book that she bought in the 90's. This particular book covers every t.v. show that was created for the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox), the cable networks and even the Dumont network. She still reads it from time to time when she needs an answer to a particular t.v. question.

3} The Sports Encyclopedia of Baseball, various editions. This is actually my book, which is one of about six editions that I possess. If you want a book that has a summary of every season, plus stats from 1901 to the present (the present being whenever the book is updated, which is about every two or three years), this book is for you. This book is not for timid. My wife started goofing with this book because about five years ago, she started following the Boston Red Sox. She's not what you call a diehard, but she's currently about three levels up from where I'm currently at (casual observer), so she used this book to create little stats things (plus scrapbooks) for herself as it pertains to the Red Sox. As an offshoot, she now reads the paper (usually the sports section) with a greater degree of frequency.

4} Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe. This one was a source of endless amusement for me and was actually the genesis of not only this post but a status update as well. My wife is a fan of the television series "Ghost Whisperers" (I am not a fan of network t.v. of any kind) so she set off last week to the public library in search of a book based on this show. She didn't have any luck, but she was directed to the Young Adult section of the library where she found this particular book. And from the periodic updates she gives me, she is really enjoying the book and has said that she will finish it this week.

I have made it crystal clear on this blog what my opinion of YA is. However, I have not stated this opinion to my wife, as the fact that she is actually reading a book of fiction far outweighs my feelings about YA, so you know damn well I'm gonna be supportive in whatever genre she chooses to partake in.

One interesting thing has sprouted from this current emphasis on reading. As a rule, I do not share any of my writing with any of my family, simply because they wouldn't get what I write and I sure as hell don't want to explain to them why I write what I write. But after seeing my wife really enjoy this book, it gave me enough of a confidence boost to where I asked her if she would be interested in reading my published short stories.

She said she would be interested in reading them. I am, as a matter of record, happy as a pig in a festering pit of garbage. I am, also as a matter of record, scared shitless that she would be interested in reading them.

So my friends, t.v. doesn't necessarily rot your brain from the inside out all the time. Sometimes, it actually makes you use just enough of those brain cells to make you trip down to the library to find a book to read on a topic you enjoy watching.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Picture Me Annoyed That People Think Reading And Comprehension Are Mutually Exclusive

Over at Shooting Suburbia we have part 2 of Yello's Bear hostile blog takeover. A must read if you have to have a must read.

Over here, we have G on his soapbox venting about the shoe size IQ of an ungodly section of the general public.

Ahem!

Reading and comprehension are not mutually exclusive goals. They are two necessary components that keep you out of harm's way in your day-to-day activities.

For example, here in Newington, we have a wickedly busy and extremely bloated secondary highway informally called the Berlin Turnpike. It is the major connector for people who live in Newington/Wethersfield and all points directly west and east of those two towns, and it's a major dumping ground for those who need to avoid I-91, either by choice or not. Half of the exit and entrance ramps are configured so that you cannot safely make a left turn to use them, thus there are large signs saying "No Left Turn" plastered all over the place.

As soon as you come of the exit ramp in Wethersfield for route 175 Newington/New Britain, the first sign you see after the stop sign is a "No Left Turn". That is because the overall road in front of you is four lanes, while the the part closest to you is both a non-stopping thru lane on the left and a non-stopping right turn only lane (when you're approaching from Wethersfield and need to go southbound on the turnpike). Thus, you cannot make a left turn to go to Wethersfield.

If you need to go towards Wethersfield, the first thing that you should've done was read the signs on the highway that CLEARLY STATED that route 175 Wethersfield was the next exit. That my friends, is the only way to SAFELY MAKE A LEFT TURN ON ROUTE 175. By the same token, if you're coming from Wethersfield and you need to head southbound on the turnpike, you cannot make a left turn on the entrance ramp that is on the opposite side of the road.

Why?

Because the entrance ramp that you have to take should you want to go southbound on the turnpike from Newington is designed in such a way that you should you be stupid or foolhardy enough to make that left turn, you literally have to make a u-turn in order to take that entrance ramp. Thus, there is a sign that says "NO LEFT TURN" posted directly opposite the entrance.

Failure to head that warning cause an unnecessary traffic jam on both sides and traffic accidents because that particular entrance ramp is located just over the crest of the hill that the opposing traffic has to climb every day. Because of that crest, one does not see traffic on the opposite side until they're at the top of the hill driving down.

So as you can see, reading and comprehension are not mutually exclusive. Unlike a "no right turn on red" sign, which is usually thrown up with the explicit intent of causing unnecessary traffic jams and bad traffic flow, a "no left turn" sign is thrown up with the explicit intent of keeping you undamaged and unharmed.

Reading and comprehension.

Not to do so brands you as a dolt whose has an attention span shorter than a toddler, and lets face it, do you really want to be known as someone who isn't smarter than a toddler?

Friday, August 19, 2011

A New Scientific Element Has Been Discovered!


LOCATED HIGH ATOP A BUSH PINE TREE COMES THIS NEWS FLASH FROM OUR CRACK CORRESPONDENT PUZZLED BEAR ABOUT A NEW REVOLUTIONARY SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY!!!!

Investigators at a major research institution recently discovered the heaviest element know to science and have tentatively named it Administratium, with the chemical symbol Ad. Administratium has no protons or electrons, thus having an atomic number of 0.

However, it does have:

1 neutron,
125 assistant neutrons,
75 vice neutrons, and
111 assistant vice neutrons.

This gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons. The morons are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically, as it impedes every action with which it comes into contact. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of Administratium caused one action to take four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than one second.

Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not actually decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons, and assistant vice neutrons exchange places. In fact, Administratium's mass will actually increase over time, since with each reorganization, some of the morons inevitably become neutrons, forming new isotopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion has led some scientists to speculate that Administratium is spontaneously formed whenever moron concentration reaches a certain level. This hypothetical quality is referred to as the Critical-Morass.

Research at other laboratories indicates that Administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations and universities, and can usually be found in the newest, best appointed and best maintained buildings.

Scientists point out that Administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how Administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

AND THAT'S THE NEWS THAT I, PUZZLED BEAR, ARMED WITH MY TINY LITTLE CONFUSED BRAIN, WAS ABLE TO FIND AND PRESENT TO YOU.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tie Me To The Length Of That And Gag Me With Excessive Verbiage

Yes, I know the title is longer than the attention span of a politician listening to a constituent that isn't waving a bunch of Benjamins in their face, but unfortunately, it's a new phase that doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.

Last week, I asked a question of everyone who dabbled in the written word what was less aggravating to write, a short story or a novel, or other types of the written word that one would dabble in. While I got a few answers in the comments, I held off on offering my own opinion on this particular question until today.

Over the past five and a half years, I've written (and attempted to write) both novels and short stories. Not at the same time mind you, for if you chart out my writing path, it went something like this:

'05 thru early '06, novel; early '06 thru late '09, short stories ranging from 5K to 30K words; mid '09 thru present, novels; and mid '11 to present, short stories.

Even though I have spent a total of four plus years writing short stories, up until the beginning of this year, I still thought that writing novels were on the whole, less aggravating to write that short stories. After all, a short story was basically this:

1} a snapshot of a place in time.
2} a limited word count, usually 5 to 7K words.
3} and you had to create a good beginning, a decent middle and a satisfying end in that same word count.

So anything that had that kind of restriction in place must be seriously aggravating to write.

Yes, I really had that kind of mindset.

Whereas a novel was basically this:

1} a movie of a place in time.
2} no limit for a word count, but informally about 75K to 90K words.
3} and you had to create a good beginning, a decent middle and a satisfying end in the same word count.

So to me, that meant it was easier to write because there were really no restrictions on what you could do.

However, beginning in the Spring of this year, that mindset of mine flipped 100%. I now find that writing a novel is a hell of lot more aggravating writing than writing a short story.

With a novel, you start of with a basic idea or premise, say having a woman late with her payments to her uncle the loan shark*. Then you have to create a path for that premise, in this case she has a week to get all caught up. Then you have to create a vehicle in order to successfully travel and arrive at the destination, which in this case she decides that the only way that she can get the money needed is to work in adult movies. Then you have to fill in the various gaps with different characters (a dimwitted bodyguard and a conniving boyfriend), throw a story long swerve (has a symbiont for a sister), and create a few subplots (conniving boyfriend wants to rob girlfriend, sister wants to become a real person, main character wants to reconcile her values with having public sex) along the way. And don't forget that you have to juggle all of these things at once and make sure that they ALL HAVE A SATISFACTORY RESOLUTION AT THE END.

It's more than enough to make you want to take your beverage of choice and pour it all over your computer keyboard, fry out the computer and become a telvised talking head.

Now with a short story, the parts are pretty much the same as a novel, but you have less stuff to juggle. Just like with a novel, you start with a premise, say, a day in the life of a musician**. In this case, the premise is the story, so you fill in the gaps, by showing the musician getting ready for the show, and then the show itself. Perhaps you throw in just a tiny bit of a background so that you can tie all the characters together in one fell swoop. And depending on what kind of story you're writing, lengthwise, you can constrict or expand as you see fit. So you can wind up with a story that clocks in under 1500 words*** or a story that can clock in under 22K, depending on what the plot idea might be and the detail involved.

So after completing two novels (one self-pubbed) and struggling to complete a hybrid/human fantasy and a normal fantasy, as well as writing a total of approximately 70 short stories (with two published normally and the bulk published on a closed blog), I can safely say with confidence that writing a short story is hell of lot less aggravating to write than it is to write a novel. Think I'm kidding?

Last example: I had mentioned that I got an idea about three weeks ago for a short story. From seed to completion, it took me exactly twelve days to write. It also spawned an idea for a second (got about three pages written already) and a third that will hopefully turn out to be a smartly written trilogy. If this idea was for a novel, I doubt I would've gotten 5K words written in one month, let alone twelve days. It would've taken me twelve days just to come up with a usable outline, let alone accomplish any actual writing.

*Line 21 is the novel that I'm currently shopping around, this time for a publisher instead of an agent. **Red Stripe is my second published short story, link can be found on the front page. ***Cedar Mountain is my first published short story, which the link can also be found on the front page.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Really? Honest And For True?

Feedback.

We all desire to have feedback in our lives, whether its for work or for pleasure. We crave it at work, for without feedback, constructive or otherwise, how would we know that we were doing a good job, a mediocre job, or a bad job. Same applies for stuff that we do for pleasure.

Like blogging and/or writing.

Out of the two items listed, blogging to me, seems to be the toughest item to get any kind of feedback on. With writing, its a little bit easier, because you can see tangible results from what you write, be it increased traffic to the blog that you write, the e-zines that your stuff appears in or increased sales of your product.

Blogging on the other hand, its very hard to see any kind of tangible results beyond an uptick in traffic to your blog, and the only way you can see that is if you have some kind of widget that feeds your mania for stats (like I have with Sitemeter). Other than that, how do you know that you're actually doing a good job with your blog?

Fortunately, if you're a stats junkie like me, that "Stats" link that Blogger threw up on the dashboard is blessing in disguise. I don't pay attention to most of what it gives me for information, because frankly, it puts me to sleep. What I do pay attention to is the top ten list of most popular posts that it generates. Why? Well, to be honest with everyone, while I've had about 18K visitors to my blog, I really have no idea where the majority came from in order to arrive here from my blog, or even why they came here. But I am curious as to what they read when they do get here.

I'm so curious about what they read, that I put up a nifty little widget that shows the four most popular posts at any given time for the month. However, what I'm about to show everyone, is the ten most popular posts of all time (May 2009 thru today) of Cedar's Mountain, complete with link (save one) and a short explanation for each one.

10} Connecticut Barbie, post date 1/23/11, 35 page views:  This was basically an e-mail that I got some eight years ago from an ex-friend of mine. Barbie has always generated a lot of humor over the past five decades (even a song by the band Aqua) and this particular e-mail was typical of the regionalized flavor of it.

9} Thou Art A Hypocrite, post date 9/20/2010, 37 page views: This was one of the few national political posts that I wrote, and it had to deal with the hypocrisy of the Democratic party and the national media over the Tea Party movement that was sweeping the country back then.

8} Read What I See, post date 7/11/2011, 49 page views: This was basically a multi-book review of some of the books that I bought earlier this year with the gift cards that I received for my b'day.

7} I Can Conversate With You, post date 4/14/2009, 52 page views: This post was basically about how I experienced twice, a rare occurrence in the blog world, which was having a normal conversation with two of my fellow bloggers, one that took place here and one that took place at theirs. Interesting factoid about this post is that someone tried to spam it last week.

6} Life Is Tough, But It's Tougher When You're Stupid, post date 11/14/2010, 60 page views: More bad e-mail humor. You know, it doesn't really surprise me that two of my most popular posts were based on very old e-mails. Go figure.

5} Won't You Please Paint Me With The Widest Brush You Got?, post date 7/26/10, 61 page views: This post was in response to someone who called me a racist and that I suffered from white anger on Facebook because I happen to think that the Huffington Post wasn't a real news site.

4} Diatribe About The Hazards Of Being A Pedestrian, post date 4/24/2010, 71 page views: I walk a lot, and this was a rare Saturday post about me almost getting taken out by pickup truck that chose to make a right on red (which is very legal and very abused in Connecticut) while I had the right of way in the crosswalk.

3} All Points Bulletin, post date 2/14/2010, 455 page views: This post, in my opinion, is one of my absolute favorites. It features a song from Hee-Haw, and poignant lyrics from Bruce Hornsby, Al Stewart and Planet P, and what I feel is the best piece of flash fiction that I've ever written. For the life of me, I still have no idea on why this post has had so many views to stay consistently in my top five posts of all time.

2}Pictorial Post, post date 1/9/2011; 1,252 page views: For the life of me, I have absolutely no clue as to why this is here. All it is, is one of my famous short posts announcing a new post at my picture blog. Even the comments were turned off on the post. It also was my first and only attempt at writing a 55 word post for fellow blogger G-Man's perpetual meme.

And finally,

1} I Done Do'od It! My 200th Post, post date 1/2/2009; 1,305 page views: Again, I have no concrete proof (only circumstantial and conjecture) as to why this one shot up to number one, because up until this year, this post wasn't even in the top ten. I originally had three chat room friends contribute something to this post. However, after deciding to completely and permanently vacate the chat room scene, I chose to purge the original content and rewrite the post. I still have the original post printed and stashed, but for all intents and purposes, this post is no more.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Picture Me Lollygagging Around With Only My Imagination To Keep Me Company

Good Lord, if you thought the post titles from last week were long, then this one will blow you away.

Anyways, got a two-fer special for you today.

The Blue Light Special in aisle 1 is the return of the short story over at Shooting Suburbia. While yes, I did open the blog some one and a half years ago with a short story, by no means will I be closing it out with a short story. This new series should see us thru Labor Day, with one more camera left to be developed. After that particular roll gets posted, in all likelihood, the blog will go on hiatus until I decide what direction I want to go with it.

The Blue Light Special in aisle 2 is an excerpt from my latest novel project, A Lascivious Limbo that I wanted to share with everyone. I think its a pretty good piece of writing and I would like your honest opinion on it.

A little background: This small excerpt actually ends the first two thirds of the novel, which was Alexandra narrating the last four days of her life on Earth for a DVD that was to be submitted to the examining board, which would determine whether or not she would move on (if this sounds confusing, think of the Albert Brooks movie "Defending Your Life") from Limbo.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Strange Brew...Grows What's Inside Me

I often brag about my strange sense of humor, usually on this blog and in the comment sections of your blogs.

But did you know that I have a type of humor that only appears on Facebook and nowhere else? Prolly not, otherwise I wouldn't have a topic to write about.

People (like me) bash Facebook for lots of things, like excessive amount of games, mindless updates, annoying product updates, and new security features that require you to opt in to use, just to name a few. However, for people like me, Facebook is a gold mine for an endless supply of straight lines and nasty word foreplay that is only limited by one's imagination.

Case in point: Last Sunday, I posted a status update of myself, in which I commented about the fact that I went to a local farmer's market. What you're about to read is what was posted word for word, sans any actual names of the other people commenting (however, those who are my friends both here on the blog and on Facebook, will prolly recognize themselves).


G: Okay peeps, don't laugh at me for this, but for the first time ever, I'm cooking two fresh ears of corn that I got at the Farmer's Market yesterday...while I always enjoy fresh corn, never once in my entire life did I actually peel and cook fresh corn...

#1: Cool! (New Jersey has the BEST sweet corn at the end of the summer, so back when I lived there, I cooked it about a million times) I'm not a big fan of frozen or canned corn, but the fresh stuff is so good!

#2: Ha ha ha lol

#3: So-how did you cook it, and how did it turn out?

G: #1, I do like fresh corn, but I've never found the time or the money to stop by one of those small farmstands, even though Newington has about several peppered around the town. The local market in the center was something that started a couple of years ago, so I decided to make a stop there. Not only did I pick up corn, but for the wife I picked up fresh lettuce, green peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, tomato and nectarines. #2, Yes, you may laugh at me, but I'm one of the few guys from my generation who can actually cook, I've just never cooked fresh corn. #3, I boiled it in water and it came out pretty damn good. Not a big fan of butter on it, so I just used a little salt to accentuate the flavor.

#4: Ah, a corn virgin. (Man, that sounded dirty...)

G: #4, Now that's funny...:D

#3: Aren't most virgins kind of corny?

G: #3, Most virgins are of the creamy corn variety...

#1: This thread is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, "shucking the corn"....

#3: LOL!

G: #1, Touche'! I couldn't put any better myself...:D. #3, shouldn't it be LMAO?

#3: I stand corrected! :)

#1: Hehehe... :)

G: #3, anytime...:D. #1, as you can see, my sense of humor is a lot more twisted on Facebook than it ever was on my blog...this is the side of me that I rarely show on the blog...my friends get the very best of me here..:D


I really do have a lot of fun on Facebook because most of my friends there have a sense of humor that is not for the faint of heart.

So if you ever want to experience a part of me that never really shows itself here, give some serious thought about friending me on Facebook, that is if you're on Facebook to begin with. If you want to take that step, let me know and I'll show you how to find me there.

Plus, you'll be able to take comfort in the knowledge that I follow these simple rules for my Facebook experience: I don't do games (thus I will not clutter your wall with that kind of stuff); I make a minimum of four status updates per week (blog is fed through my wall); and my off blog status updates (if I choose to do them) usually take place on the weekends.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To Make A Short Story Sandwich, You Need Two Novels For Bread

Ya know, it's getting mighty hard to come up with a short title for a blog post. Pretty soon my titles will wind up like, "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On The Bedpost Overnight)".

Pretty sad, eh?

Anyways, since I didn't really give anything of a writing update beyond showing you a video last week, I thought I would give you an update of what I've been able to accomplish (or not accomplish) this month.

First off, we will tackle the interior part of the short story sandwich, which is mainly the short story.

Short story entitled The Backpack: As I'd mentioned a few weeks ago, I got the seed of a story idea from one of the vignettes that I created during my morning walks. I took the idea and managed to crank out a ten page/5,315 word story. There's not much of a plot to it, and the genre could be considered either paranormal; supernatural; fantasy; or a combination of all three (I'm kind of in the midst of a multi-year stretch of where my writing touches on either of those three themes, in spite of what I've gotten published, which was new age and quirky).

The story is basically this: A guy retrieves a backpack that he was entrusted to care for and is trying to give it back to the person who gave it to him. It contains elements of ultra violence (four people are killed right off the bat); unmitigated violence as dictated by the paranormal/supernatural/fantasy element (two more perish); and PG-13ish sex (yah, I know, hard to believe). That is the entire story in a nutshell.

However, because this blog is about me and my adventures in writing, I have a request to make of my friends who are either writers or dabble in writing: would any of you be interested in critiquing my short story for me? I really want to tighten this up and make it flow smoother, and a few more pairs of eyes would be helpful for me. Especially since this is the first original short story I've written in about year and a half, and I want to make it as good as possible. If you have the time and feel up to it, let me know in the comments.

The bottom slice of bread, otherwise known as Line 21: Not much to report on that particular front. The publisher in question has a turnaround policy of sixty days and does not like simultaneous submissions, and since I had e-mailed it in early July, I should expect an answer by early September. Until then, about the only real time I spend on it is to either tweak the synopsis or the query letter. By "tweaking" I mean tightening up the grammar, the sentence structure, etc. etc. etc.

I've also had to spend some time coming up with a pen name. While I didn't mind putting my full name to my first self-pubbed book nor to either of my short stories, it probably would make sense to attach one to this. While I am proud of my writing, there's still something of a residual aftertaste in everyone's collective mouth when it comes to reconciling G the writer with either G the blogger or G the person. Thus, I'm looking for a new pen name, as somehow, calling myself Georgie B, while good for the time that I spent in the chat rooms, doesn't sound adult enough for a writer (surprised? you shouldn't be).

The top slice of bread, otherwise known as A Lascivious Limbo: I know that I said that I was going to fluctuate between doing the short story and this novel, but things changed over this past weekend. I didn't count on the story really writing itself nor consuming a good chunk of my time (the story itself took me exactly twelve days to write), but it did.

So now that I got that short story out of the way, I believe I can return to this novel with a better outlook and a better idea on how to go about executing what I need to do. To refresh everyone's memory, including mine, I said that I still had to write a wake, a funeral and a suicide, and I also had to tidy up all the loose ends. Well, I did manage to get something of an outline written in the story for the suicide (not tasteless, I assure you. suicide is one of a select group of topics that I try not to go overboard with) before I temporarily shelved the novel, so I got that out of the way.

That about sums up my major writing projects to date. And of course, you know I'm not gonna let you escape without a writing related question, so here it is.

For those of you who write both short stories and novels, or any other combination of the written word, what do you find less aggravating to write? Let me know what your opinion is, and I'll let you know what mine is for next Wednesday.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Psycho Puppy Dogs!

Because I'm still partaking in a well deserved long weekend (like, until late Tuesday morning), I decided to be lazy today and post a four pack of videos (clocking in under a total of four and a half minutes) featuring my daughter Jenelle and four little chihuahuas: Chi-Chi, Ryder, Oreo and Hershey.

Hopefully this will be the perfect antidote to your Monday.

Enjoy!

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Picture Me Humorless

Hard to believe that there might be a post on this blog where I would be 100% humorless.

"Shocking!" some might say.

"Say it isn't so!" others would definitely say.

"May you be downwind of a spitting camel that just finished eating fifty pounds of fetid slop." Carnac might say upon hearing that I would be humorless today.

I know, it's really hard to believe that I'm humorless today. But dang it, the doctor said that my humors needed to be drained because they were affecting my health, vitality, and most importantly, my sense of right and wrong. But after spending a half hour having all kinds of impure blood drained from my veins, I feel remarkably better.

Except for that pale white skin with the blue tinge that my body turned into.

Anyways, while I'm trying to figure out how to accentuate that blue tinge and white skin (I think that the gothic look might be coming back), please enjoy this final installment of "Now That's Winter!" over at Shooting Suburbia today.

Friday, August 5, 2011

He Tapped His Temple Thrice

Not really much on tap for Friday, as my brain is still somewhat jumbled from the adventure of paying the house tax on Monday, having to do tedious but necessary research on Wednesday, grocery shopping on Tuesday and trying my hand at Fussbudgeting on Thursday.

See? See? See? If I can't even get the days of the week in the proper sequential order for this post, what makes you think I'm gonna get the proper p.s.i for today's post?

Pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft.

And here it is, George Phblat's new movie, "Benji Saves The Universe!"*

Anyways, I got to think about things over the weekend, and after thinking and thinking and thinking, I thunk some more and came up with this little gem:

Why do you need 3,000 friends on Facebook? I mean, really, WTF? I can understand if you're doing the network thing because you're a writer, a business professional, or someone who is trying to build a brand, but if you're retired or just an average person, what the hell are you gonna do with 3,000 friends on Facebook? For those of you who can't quite understand what I'm saying, let me put it in blog terms: it's the equivalent of having 2,000 followers to your blog. If you've hit that plateau, chances are that you're a professional blogger making some kind of schwag and what not from your blog.

Working with the opposite sex can be dangerous to your health. I'm not sure if I've made this clear over the past three years, but about 95% of my co-workers in my unit are female. Which means that for better or worse, I have to tiptoe through multiple cliques in order to do my job properly. Over the past few weeks, I've stepped out of my cubicle, either to head home or to ask a question of my supervisor, and inadvertently walked into couple of, for lack of a cleaner phrase, "shitstorms". Mind you, none of this was directly related to me, thus I became major collateral damage for each incident. I'm just about recovered, but man oh man, us guys don't have nothing on the womenfolks when it comes to playing mean.

Being told to do one thing and then finding out something completely different when you get there. I mentioned at the top of the post that on Monday I had to pay the house tax. Technically, I pay about half every January and July, and this time was no exception. I got $1000 (because I was told that this was my share) out of two bank accounts, came in on Monday and told my boss that I had to go to the town hall to pay my taxes. I get to the town hall, go to the window, and find out, "Oh Mr. G, the remaining balance isn't $1000. The remaining balance is $1080.07."

My friends, you can probably guess what my internal response was to this statement. However, being as I was dealing with a guv'ment agency that I really, really, really, really, really needed to stay on the good side of, I paid the K, called the wife and had her write me check for the remainder, which I drove home to pick up and go back to the town hall and pay the remaining balance with.

The more I learn about my union, the more I hate it. In a nutshell, I consider myself an anti-union union member (had someone actually shake my hand on this). However, what the state agency SEBAC (yes, you read correctly) has done to the union rank and file is pretty despicable. In order to get the outcome that they and the guv'nor wants, they made a blatant power play and disenfranchised the rank and file. This was after they made a complaint to the State Attorney General's office about a conservative think tank breaking into the state e-mail system to persuade the rank and file to vote no (the A.G. determined that the complaint had no merit) on the concession agreement. Now they're doing their damnedest to get this thing to pass by any means necessary, be it hijacking the bylaws after the guv'nor suggested quid pro quo or holding a revote WHILE THE RANK AND FILE WERE/ARE ON VACATION. In a nutshell, they're doing what labor has always accused businesss of doing for the past fifty years: lying, cheating, threatening, and intimidation.

I bet you thought I had one more thing to whine about, didn't you?

Well, you were wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! Boy were you wrong. You couldn't be more wrong if you said that the President will be reelected in 2012.

Instead, I got this nifty little explanation of the asterisk.

*George Phblat was a movie director from the Bloom County comic strip that Opus wrote a review about his stunningly bad film called "Benji Saves The Universe.":

George Phblat's new film 'Benji Saves The Universe', has brought the word "BAD" to new levels of badness. Bad acting. Bad effects. Bad everything. This bad film just oozed rottenness from every bad scene...simply bad beyond all infinite dimensions of possible badness."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

That Boy Just Ain't Normal

Or as an author recently scribbled inside a book of his that I bought, "dysfunctional is the new normal."

No real need to tie that quote into this post. I thought it was a nifty quote and was looking for a spot to use it.

Then again, aren't all writers (or anyone else who pursues a creative endeavor with a passion unmatched by anything else) deep down just a little bit dysfunctional? I mean, we have to be in order to what we enjoy doing, especially if we want to do it successfully. Right?

Anyways, if ya'll remember my post from two weeks ago, I lamented (or bitched, your choice) about the fact that I might not get any original writing done for this year. That in fact, the only writing that was done by me, was the tweaking and tightening of a few old stories that I had sitting around on my computer. And that the only thing that I had to look forward to was writing a book review for a friend (which I accomplished, thank you very much), and perhaps that book review might jump start my writing.

Well, it's my sad duty to inform everyone that the book review, while it was a joy and a pleasure to write, did not jump start my writing to the degree that I thought it would. While technically, I managed to actually get some writing done last weekend (wrote three pages of a new chapter), it wasn't the book review that did it for me. It was more along the lines of finally taking advantage of the family (except for the wife) not being home, which gave me just enough quiet time to put words to paper then to screen.

I will tell you what actually jump started my writing and made me post a video a week ago: walking. Last Monday, I took a vacation day, and like most days that I decide to take a vacation day, it was gloomy and overcast. Not surprisingly, it put me in a bummer of a mood. I walked to the center that morning, went to the bank and then went to Starbucks (I don't do any of those fancy schmancy drinks and I'm boycotting my local D&D) for a small coffee and a croissant.

I took a seat outside, inhaled some of my coffee, some of the car exhaust and the entire croissant, before continuing on my walk home.

I have mentioned before that I do a lot of thinking when I walk, and that day was no exception. However, what I think about as of late has taken a major turn of the strange. Instead of thinking about a story or a blog post or something like that, I think of short little movie style vignettes featuring me in all kinds of strange unreal life scenarios.

Most of the time, after I get done with my walk, those little vignettes disappear from my conscience the nano-second I open the door and walk into the house. However, this time was a little different, in that the vignette stayed with me, not only after I'd walked into the house, but for the next two days as well. I managed to squeeze out one short paragraph on my afternoon break at work before putting it aside to work on it later at home.

Unfortunately, in my eagerness to get home, I left my file folder of paper with the opening paragraph in it. But I persevered and restarted it again later that evening. I would love to tell you what that little vignette was all about that inspired me to write again, but I think that more than a few people would misinterpret and misread the content if I did. However, I will tell you that its somewhat of a crime drama of sorts, without much of a plot, but in the same vein whenever the e-zine "Thrillers, Chillers & Killers" decides to post a story that has zero plot and zero coherency but people fawn over it just the same.

What makes this latest exercise different from all the rest, is that I'm actually writing this at the same time I'm attempting to complete A Lascivious Limbo. As most of you probably know from reading this blog, I have a tendency not only to write linear but also to write one thing at a time until I'm finished with it, no matter how long it takes me to complete.

Speaking of the aforementioned novel, I believe it will be easier for me to work on and complete, simply because the basic content of this new short story, which I titled "Intravenous", somewhat parallels the main crux of what I have to write for my trunk novel (wake/funeral/suicide). In a strange way, I think the short story and the novel will feed off of each other and hopefully will allow me to finish both.

In any event, its fun to have a story grab my temporal lobes and probe my inner most thoughts and feelings again. I haven't felt that way since I completed Line 21 almost a year ago.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Do The Math

I originally received this e-mail back in 2002, but I think it's still relevant


Teaching Math in 1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970: A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money. The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M". The set "C", the cost of production contains 20 fewer points then set "M". Represent the set "C" as a subset of set "M" and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits?

Teaching Math in 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels "feel" as the logger cut down the trees? There are no wrong answers.

Teaching Math in 2002: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $120. How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60?

Teaching Math in 2010: El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. La cuesta de production es.....

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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