Monday, July 30, 2012

I Is Geezer!

Once upon a time, I used to watch this new fangled thing called Music Television. They played these things called "music videos" and let me tell you, it was the coolest thing to come along in ages. Not only was it cool, it me me hipper than hip at school. It made me "with it". Know what I mean?

The muse is not amused and lets our intrepid writer/blogger know it. She grabs his laptop, closes it, picks it up and slaps him upside the head with it. Satisfied at a job well done, she pushes him off the chair, sets it back up and blows a short sharp whistle. A few seconds later, a tall muscular hottie walks on, delivers a fist bump and sits down in the chair.

Hi there! If you remember watching this with great frequency, then you are what we call "A Geezer".






The modern definition of a geezer is someone who remembers when the world didn't quite revolve around the Internet, a personal computer was a major monstrosity that used a cassette to load programs and 5 1/4 inch floppy discs, and videotape ruled the world (VHS that is).

The owner of this blog qualifies as a geezer, 'cause when he was a teenager, the following statements were true.

1} He knew life when gas all had lead, and you could fill your tank on $15.

2} Music came in 8-track, vinyl and cassette.

3} Laser discs were an epic fail.

4} Beta was an epic fail.

5} Music that you now hear on the various oldies formats was actually fresh and current back then.

6} Boy bands were still in diapers.

7} T.V. was NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS.

8} The networks actually used to spend a week promoing new cartoons for the season.

9} And Steve Martin was God.


Anyways, my job here is finished. All there is left for me to do is ask you a question and all that you're required to do is answer in the most interesting way possible.

"Is there anything that you remember and enjoyed while growing up that now either gets you vacant looks from your kids when you mention it, or depresses the crap out of you when you find out it's still being produced/performed?"

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Can't Watch This!

Last month I wrote about my favorite movies that I love to watch ad infinitum. I thought that for today, I would visit the anti-redundancy and talk about the movies that I absolutely despise and never, never watch again.

Surprisingly enough, most of these detestable movies originate from my childhood.

Now I don't know about you, but back when I was my daughter's age, I was sometimes forced to go to movies that I did not like, simply because my mother had something to do that required me not be around. Or, I was forced to see movie as part of a school trip.

So in no particular order of importance, other than how I remember them, here is my short list of movies I can't stand, sans links.

First up, the movie that inspired this post. Why inspired? Because TCM showed it on the 4th and I had the unfortunate experience of seeing a few seconds while channel surfing.

1} 1776: I first saw this movie on school-wide field trip that coincidentally took place in 1976. No child should be exposed to a musical at such a tender age. You can scar them for life. Anyways, I don't remember much about this movie beyond William Daniels singing about saltpeter.

2} Benji: How can anyone not like a movie series about an adorable dog that saves everyone and everything and make everyone feel all cuddly warm and toasterific inside???

Even at that age I thoroughly hated G-rated movies. Still hate them to this day and I hate movies about adorable itty bitty dogs.

Scary fact: The son of the original trainer is looking to restart the franchise, and thus is scouring the animal shelters looking for a new Benji.

3} Disney documentaries: I used to watch a lot of these things while growing up and to this day, I cannot stomach the sugary sweetness that is white bread bland Americana that Disney passes off as wholesome entertainment.

4} Any kind of live action Disney films. Anything from the 50's thru today. You name it, I hate it. Classic animation, I hate. Pixar, hit or miss.

5} James Bond: Yes, I detest James Bond films with a passion. There are a myriad of reasons why, from not enough sex to not enough violence and everything else in between, but the main reason why is that I was dragged to quite a few of them when I was a kid. My dad was a huge James Bod fan, and I detest being dragged to a movie that my parents like.

However, I do like the music for the Bond flicks, which for me were the ones that featured Roger Moor.

6} Modern drama: With very few exceptions, most modern drama films, in my opinion, suck major moose testicles. Way too much dialogue combined with very little action equals wanting to be tortured by listening to the entire pre-Super Bowl gabfests with eyes propped open like the main character in "Clockwork Orange".

So how 'bout you? Got any films that you absolutely cannot stand to watch or even be in the same room with?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Music In Fiction: Why Ain't There Any?

Today's topic du jour was suggested by Carl Brush, who boldly stepped up to the plate and answered my cattle call for blog ideas. Want a blog linky for yourself? Just suggest a topic that I can use on my blog.

I've read quite a few short stories and novels in my time, and while every conceivable plot line was used, very few used music as a main base of operations. Peripheral? Absolutely. A lot of stories have music playing in the background or use it as a very minor transitional tool.

Note: Guilty on the transitional tool. My upcoming novel uses 70's Chicago soul and Bluegrass as a transitional tool to jump between a few scenes.

But there has been very few stories that use music as a lead platform, at least that I've seen or heard about. From my personal perspective and not counting my short story, I've found four that use music as a key platform for a story.

The first was a short story I read in a literary journal some six years ago that deconstructed a concert performed by a local band at a small club. The second was a story called "Underground Wonder Bar" featured in a good anthology called Noir @ The Bar (please see my review here), that takes place at an underground club. The third, also featured in the same anthology, was called "Outside Lou's" and the setting is a jazz club. The fourth was a story called "The Pickle", written by Chris LaTray, that was about a band whose instruments were stolen.

In case you're wondering, my story "Red Stripe" revolves around a punk rock singer and takes place at a punk rock club.

Other than those, I really haven't seen or read anything that features music as a key platform.

Why is that?

Is writing a story that revolves around music harder than writing one that features, say, a spaceship?

I know a lot of writers say they enjoy writing or editing while listening to music, but does it transcend to the story itself? If music can inspire you to write (and I'm guilty on that account), why can't it become a basis for a short story?

There is nothing more universal for inspiration than music. Music helps us create, helps pump us up, mellows us out and soothes our troubled spirits. Why can't we use it as a basis for a story? Why must it always be relegated to the status of a transitional tool or even worse, background noise?

Monday, July 23, 2012

For A Refreshing Change Of Pace, I Was Tagged!

My very good blogger friend Uncle Joey (just kidding about the uncle part, although if you should ever need an extra tax deduction, I'm your man) tagged me with an award the other day, and I'm just tickled pink about it. It isn't often that I'm tagged with an award (last tagged about two years ago or so), so I'm really thrilled that someone really really really likes me.

Anywho, he has but two questions that go with the award, so I thought I would take a crack at answering them today.

Question #1 is: Why did I decide to start a blog?

I've covered this so many times from so many different angles over the past 4 years that I often forget what the real reason was as to why I had decide to start a blog.

First and foremost, there was no one main reason as to why I started blogging, but a bunch a little ones. As most of you are aware of, I used to be heavily involved with the chat rooms. Although the time frame that had the heaviest amount of usage was February '07 thru mid '08, I was involved with the chat rooms for a total of about three and a half years, 2007 thru early 2011. I won't bore you with the excruciating details, but if you are interested please check out years 2008 & 2009 of this blog, of what I did there, but I will say that the one of the reasons as to why I started blogging would have to be censorship.

It was established very early on that the company that owned the chat rooms website where I was hanging out was very selectively enforcing their Terms of Service doctrines. Some people got hammered and some people didn't. If you were friends with the moderators, you didn't get hammered. If you weren't, you got hammered. So when my good cyber friend Gumby The Cat suggested that I move my act over to the blog world, I spent about two days thinking about it, then did it. And I haven't looked back.

In blogging, I found a way to creatively pass the time without getting into trouble, to practice my writing without getting mocked and most importantly, to become a writer. And I believe I have succeeded on all three counts: I managed to creatively make the past 4+ years go by with five blogs (one closed) and a combined 1000+ posts; I managed to perpetually practice my writing to the point where I have two short stories published, a self-pubbed chapbook and a commercial debut novel coming out later this year; and I have become a writer.

Question #2 is: What do I find is the hardest aspect of blogging?

That one is a toughie, as there are three aspects that I consider to be the hardest. The first aspect that I would to be the hardest is keeping to a schedule. As most of you have probably figured out over the past four years, I am a bit anal about things. Scratch, I am anal about things. And one of the things that I'm anal about is following through on a project or whim that I've started. Many has been the time that I've been super gung-ho about doing something only to have it fizzle out days/weeks/months later.

When I'd started blogging back in 2008, I was determined to create a schedule for myself and stick to it, come hell or high water. For those of you who have been with me since 2008, what I'm about to say next is redundant, but those of you who have been with me since 2010, this will probably come as a shock to you.

I have not always blogged three to four days a week. I used to have the following kind of publishing schedules:

1} Twice a day, every other day. Did that for about six months.
2} Eventually cut down to once a day, every other day. Did that for about two  years.
3} Eventually cut down to a M-W-F schedule with the occasional Sunday post. Been doing this since 2010.

The second aspect ties into the first, in that I hate to disappoint people. One thing that I vowed to in my blogging was to never disappoint someone. I have spent too many years of my life dealing with disappointment from friends, family and co-workers, so when I decided to blog, I wanted to be the one dependable person that someone could always count on to be there. And I made damn sure that if I wasn't going to publish a post, I would let everyone know why I wasn't going to be here.

And just to show you my durability in sticking to a schedule, from May 24, 2008 to the present, I have missed a grand total of two weeks from blogging. Half of which took place in 2008 when I took a real vacation, and the other half has been spread throughout the remaining years.

Finally, the third aspect of blogging that I find the hardest is something that all of us have suffered through from time to time, and that is, writing fresh material. Somehow, out of the 1000+ posts I have written, only three have been repeated. I say that is a pretty phenomenal success rate of fresh material.

It hasn't been easy for the past four years to come up with fresh material, and while I'm always worried about running out of fresh material and thus ending this blog, I know that so long as I have someone stopping by to read, I will always be inspired to write something new. And if I can't write something new, I'll always have very old e-mails to fall back on until I do get inspired.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to tag anyone else with this award, but if you feel up to it, by all means, borrow this award and use it to spice up your blog. You'll be glad that you did.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Don't Like Spam!

And I'm not talking about the edible kind, which I do enjoy from time to time, I'm talking about the verbal kind, which pollutes the blogs and causes an unbelievable amount of grief and aggravation.

Some time ago, a plethora of bloggers got spanked by that ninny who doesn't like American women, and more than a few of us were briefly at a loss in how to deal with it. Now, I'm pretty sure that this was a one-shot thing, simply because the guy has nothing left in the tank. I believe that his blog was yanked so the only way he can post his infantile rants is as an "Anon" poster.

However, there are ways to knock down the amount of spammers that you get on your blog, and none of them are as drastic as closing your blog, although there is one option that comes pretty close.

1} Get rid of the ability for people to post anonymously. Now this is one of the easiest ways for spammer to post, and by getting rid of that option you've instantly eliminated about 33% of your spam. This blog is the only one of my blogs that people can comment anonymously on.

2} Moderate. If you don't want to do option one, then option two is your best bet. This allows you the ability not only to mark out a comment as spam, but it actually activates the Blogger spam blocker. Blogger maintains a huge database of spam ISP's and about 97% of the time will effectively screen out the spam before it actually shows up on your dashboard.

Before I move on to the other drastic options that you can do in order to cut down on the spam, I would like to take this opportunity to offer a few of my readers an apology.

Shortly after that particular spammer made his rounds, I decided to check my spam comments (all 350) to see what kind of spam I had in there since early 2011, which is when Blogger really started doing this kind of minutia. Imagine the dismay that I felt when I saw four of my regular readers's comments labeled as "spam".

The only reason that can think off for that happening, is that my computer can get incredibly wonky at times. By "wonky" I mean that my cursor will go off on its own, whether I'm using the mouse or not, and highlight a link that I had no intention of clicking on to begin with. This is apparently what had happened here, and believe, I did fix the problem by not labeling them as "spam" and thus they got published to where they were supposed to be.

So I would like to offer an apology to the following bloggers for inadvertently labeling one of your comments as spam:

Lynn
Charles Gramlich
Nurse Myra
Bea

To continue: There are two very drastic options that you can pursue in order to cut down on the number of spammers touching your blog.

3} Make a post a draft. Blogger has a feature called "Stats", in which not only can you tell how many pageviews a given post has but where the referrals were coming from.

Across the top of the screen you'll see buttons labeled "now/day/week/month/all time". Clicking on "all time" will show you short list that you can expand showing you the top posts on your blog with the most pageviews.

If you think that a post has way too many pageviews for the topic of choice (which means more than 150) and you've been able to eliminate any and all reasonable explanations for the high pageviews, means that your post is being hit by spammers.

Solution: Tune that post to a draft. Doing so instantly eliminates the url that spammers use as a referral and thus cuts down on the amount of spammers visiting your blog. I have only two pots that meet the criteria (each has over 750 pageviews) and only one post has been reverted to draft. The other has not because its one that I specifically wrote for Valentine's Day 2010 and contains my best piece of flash fiction that I've ever written.

4} Nuke the post. This is the option of last resort. If you have a post that has an unbelievable amount of hits that is out of proportion to the content of the post, then the only way to cut down on the spam is to get rid of the post. I had a post that had gotten up to almost 1800 pageviews and without knowing at the time that I could do option #3, I first wiped out all of the content to see if that would cure the problem. I waited about a week, then nuked the post.

So my friends, these are the four options that I've use with moderate success in the past four years to contend with the amount of spam/spammers that visit my blog on a daily basis. By sharing these with everyone, I hope that I can help others who may be experiencing the same thing from getting completely annoyed and aggravated.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shot From The Lip, But The Lip Is Shot

Time now, for a bi-weekly (?) round-up of all things devoted to moi. So let's begin at the beginning instead at the ending, for if we begin at the ending, then we're simply participating in a Daffy Duck/Bugs Bunny celluloid production.

On the writing front, we have a whole bunch to bloviate about. After a pleasant two week wait, my wonderful editor Leslie Fish dropped the hammer and e-mailed my new and improved manuscript late Monday evening. So thus, the rest of my week will be spent, after tramping over to Staples to use their computer (for a fee) to access my e-mail so that I can print out (for a large fee) my new and improved manuscript, in order to carefully peruse all 120+ pages to see what kind of outstanding editing job was done it. And yes, there is no sarcasm in this particular paragraph, as I am truly psyched to be another step closer to publication.

While I was waiting, I made some progress on my crime fiction story "Time To Go". I've been writing it from a first person point of view, so it's been an interesting battle to make everything present tense, including the dialogue tags. And remarkably enough (or depressingly enough), the words have been flowing from my pen with an ease I haven't seen in a couple of years. And yes, I said 'pen'. It seems with this story, I've been able to flesh out the story with a greater degree of comfort and clarity than if I had simply wrote out the entire story on the computer, instead of the first page and a quarter. Not sure what that means, and at this point, I don't really want to know what it means.

I'm also giving some serious thought to entering a couple of contests by the end of the month. Both are to literary journals, but I'm hoping to get at least an honorable mention for one of them. Which I know is a long shot, but both of these stories seem to be a perfect fit. One is the quirky little horror story that I been having a world of issues in trying to get published for the past several months, and the other is a new and improved version of a summer romance called "The Right Thing". That's the story that uses Newington's annual Extravaganza, which strangely enough, is going on this weekend, as the main setting. And, I will make an attempt at getting some video of the festival for the picture blog.

On the blogging front, one thing of note has happened that makes me mentally do cartwheels, is that I cracked 100 followers for my blog. I know for some of you it probably isn't that big of a deal, but someone like me whose had to battle over the years to get noticed for my writing, it really means a lot. So I am really psyched up over this as well.

The other thing of note is that I got a bunch of posts pre-written. I originally wrote them because I thought I would be doing some serious editing work on my novel and thus would've needed to have some stuff at the ready, but as I mentioned earlier, that will not be the case. In any event, the upcoming topics are as follows:

1} Not the edible Spam.

2} Music in fiction

3} Bad movies.

4} Humor. Be very afraid.

5} A day in the life.

6} Music that I hate.

7} Facebook.

8} Hot button topics, which might turn into a two-parter.

So that my friends, is what is new for moi as it applies to the wonderful world of grammar. And speaking of grammar, here is one of my favorite grammar oriented videos.

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's The Simplest Things That Often Gives Us The Greatest Pleasure

Laundry day.

Every two weeks I do my laundry and for the majority of either one Saturday or one Sunday, that day is pretty much shot to pieces. Being tied to a washing machine and dryer is not my idea of fun, especially when there are things that I really want to do on my day off.

But if I get the opportunity to actually enjoy doing my laundry, I grab it and slog my way to the end zone. Last Saturday was one such day.

It was a beautiful day and the sun beat down. There was a cool breeze alternating from the mountain and from the town blowing through my backyard, the family was pretty much gone for the weekend, so I decided to take full advantage of the stars alignment for that day.

Right off the bat, I decided to go semi-green by hanging my laundry outside. I used to do this for many years while living in East Hartford, so I decided to take full advantage of the street's orientation to the sun. In other words, the backyard was in the east, thus the sun rose and hammered the backyard with enough sunlight to make a blade of grass sweat until it died.

So after hanging a small batch of laundry on the line, I took a seat under one of the few remaining trees in my backyard, inhale the sound of a few birds chirping and the leaves rustling in the breeze until my soul was drenched, check out scenery such as this:


and write.

Periodically, I would look up and check on the two dogs that I was babysitting that weekend to see how they were doing. Each one was laying down in the shade, chillin' out and enjoying the afternoon breeze that was blowing through the yard. After making sure that they were okay, I returned to my writing.

About twenty-five minutes after I had sat down, I got up and retrieved the next batch of laundry and repeat the process again.

After doing this three or four times, I pretty much lost track of time. I never took out my phone to check what the time was, but instead, would glance at the time whenever I would go inside to retrieve another load of laundry.

And thus, my Saturday went pretty much like a lazy summer afternoon, in which the only thing I really had to worry about was having to move the chair so that I wouldn't get a sunburn.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Channeling A Parental Spirit

Ever have one of those moments, when you're simply doing something mundane with the family or watching a family member do something special, and life is simply chugging along in the same rockin' vein like this:




When all of a sudden, a strange feeling comes over you and a dreadful spirit steps into your soul, grabs your spirit by the shirt color and says:



That's right guys and gals (I'm a modern man here), the spirit of Al Bundy has taken over a small part of your parental being and you're stuck with him for the next umpteen years.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!

I came across this realization the other day when I was watching a video of my daughter perform at the Nutmeg State Games. Yes, this is the only way I can really watch my daughter perform because I don't have deep pockets. And for those of you who aren't on Facebook, she medalled in all three events that she'd performed in, and thus won herself an invite to Hershey, Pennsylvania next year. Anyways, I had this epiphany while watching my daughter skate.

My daughter Jenelle is 11 years old going on 22, and after I had finished watching the video, Al Bundy stepped in to take up residence for the next decade or so to help me with a little extra special parenting. For those of you who aren't familiar with Al Bundy's special technique, whenever he happens to meet Kelly's new boyfriend, he escorts him out of the house by first walking him into the door frame, before kicking him out of the house.

My friends, the Al Bundy spirit is an equal opportunity spirit. Doesn't matter whether you're a father or mother, uncle or aunt, he helps out all. Trust me, when your daughter/niece gets older and starts getting serious about boys, you're gonna need all the help you can possibly get so that you can successfully keep the wolf pack away from your humble abode.

Best of all, the Al Bundy spirit sees all and knows all. When you least expect it, there he is.

Remember, everyone has a little Al Bundy in them, all dormant and snug as a bug in a bed of roses. It's just the matter of when you come to that realization that your life is about to change for the worse, BAM!!! Al Bundy comes a-callin'.

Al Bundy is your fiend in need. Remember that, and life will be good for you. Not for your daughter or niece though, 'cause they'll hate you for interfering with their love life. But what do you care? In the end, you'll be singing the theme song to Al Bundy's favorite t.v.show, Psycho Dad.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

People Who Did Me Right

Some good news on the writing front to speak of today. No, it's not about the story I spoke about last week, which is tentatively titled "Time To Go" and of which I'm depressingly making good progress on. It's about my upcoming novel.

Line 21
 I'm getting ready to enter the phase that most, if not all, professional and semi-professional writers absolutely dread, but find absolutely necessary: editing.

Specifically, the editing which must be done after the editor that you're working with gets done reading it and making detailed notes about, which in my case, the target date is the end of this week, and thus next week will begin the-pulling-out-my-hair-follicles-with-a-razor-sharp-tweezers phase of this incredible journey to publication.

However, this post isn't about that, this post is about people who did me right. Specifically, the people who have helped me the most in shaping my nascent writing career in the past five years. I shared parts of this particular document with a few of the people already, as I wanted to let them how much they have meant to me, so without further ado, I would like to share with everyone here, the first draft of my acknowledgement page for my upcoming novel.

In no particular order of importance, they are listed as follows, but please note, a few of the people mentioned you know publicly by their pseudonyms, and for the sake of that continuity, I will use those names in this post. However, their real names will be used in the book.

1} Nik Morton: who decided to take a chance on a newbie writer who had exactly two short stories published under his belt, and was gracious enough with his time and advice to make a difference.

2} Elaine Ash: a well known writer and editor, who saw something in my first short story that I'd submitted for a contest and suggested to a fellow writer/editor that it would make a good addition to his e-zine.

3} David Cranmer: another well known writer and editor, who gave me my first big break by publishing my short story "Cedar Mountain" in his well known e-zine Beat To A Pulp back in 2009. That is something that I will always be grateful for.

4} Charles Gramlich: a fine writer and teacher, whose helpful advice and writing tips featured in his blog and his books, helped me in more ways that anyone could possibly imagine.

5} My wife Joanne: even though she suffered through my bouts of aggravation that my writing has caused throughout the years, she has nevertheless been one of my biggest supporters of me trying to be somebody.

6} Riot Kitty: a respected friend and former journalist, who is open minded enough to allow me the rare opportunity to pick her brain about certain aspects of this book, and offered her brutal honesty and editing critique through multiple drafts as well.

7} Gumby The Cat: a friend in the truest sense of the word, was the one individual that got me to take the necessary detour on this journey of writing by offering a heartfelt comment and introducing me to the wonderful world of blogging.

8} Current and former co-workers, other family members and friends: The fact that you thought enough of me over the years to offer your generous opinion of my writing really means a lot to me. I'm glad I was able to leave such a lasting impression on your collective spirit.

8} My blog friends, blog readers and other cyber friends: without your colorful commentary and challenging critique of my writing, I don't think I would be at the point in my writing life that I am now. The fact that you've managed to stick with me for so long speaks volumes about my ability to keep your attention.

9} Finally, to all the naysayers who said I couldn't string more than two words together without screwing up: I managed to string more than two words together without screwing up.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Organization Is Not My Friend" by Penny Estelle


Penny Estelle
 Today, we have fellow Solstice author Penny Estelle, who will enlighten us about how sometimes our organizational skills can fall by the wayside. Take it away Penny!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Organization is not my friend!

I was a secretary for an elementary school for 21 years. The school had over 1100 students. Programs in every grade level, monthly award ceremonies, payroll, taking care of all my principal's issues, and a hundred and one other activities needed to be handled on any given day. I used to pride myself on my organizational skills.

Now I am retired and am proud to say, an author, which I can actually say out loud without lying, and apparently those once finely tuned skills have gone by the wayside!

Seriously, how how hard can it be to check your e-mails (sometimes more than 50 and more than one account), look at 20-something blogs because you know certain authors who are being interviewed and you want to comment and be supportive, try to find somebody who might do a review for you and check Amazon because there just might be a new review that has been posted, not to mention reading and writing up a review of a book you might be reading for someone who reviewed your book. Then if you are hosting an author on your blog, you need to have that ready to go, or get your post done because someone is kind enough to host you.

Then there is Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and a host of other sites you should be a part of but you can't figure out how they should work or you pull your hair out because you just can add one more thin to your schedule.

Then there is always that pesky little part about actual writing. After all, this is what it's all about!

I see many authors out there that are on e-mail and doing blogs on a daily basis--AND turning out books like crazy--Do they not sleep? I get crabby when I don't sleep!

I know this sounds like I'm whining, but I'm not--well maybe I am--okay, I am. How could I have been so organized at one point in my life and now the word is no longer in my dictionary!

Now, all this being said, I know the answer here--scheduling. I need something-maybe better pep talks to myself. Thanks for listening to me vent...shew, I feel better now.

Have a great day everybody--I need to check my e-mail!



**********

Penny writes for the MG/tween group. She has three stories out, with two more coming soon.

Hike Up Devil's Mountain: Recommended summer reading for MG/tweens from Examiner.com

An abandoned house, a magic stick, and the school bully, is all it takes to turn the lives of three boys upside down. Their only hope lives on top of Devil's Mountain. The question is, will they survive the hike.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and Create Space.

Billy Cooper's Awesome Nightmare

Billy Cooper's seventh grade class has been given a last minute, weekend assignment. An oral book report is due on Monday on some stupid historical figure, he draws from a box. Billy's weekend is way too full to worry about some legend--that is, until he meets him face to face!
Available at Muse It Publishing and Amazon.

A Float Down The Canal

Twelve year old Pam Simpson gets dumped on when her mother is called into work. She must cancel her plans for the mall to babysit her younger brother and his friend and take them to the public pool. To make matters worse her cousin, Candy, is also coming over for the day. She doesn't even like Candy!

Much to Candy's dismay, transportation to the pool is on inner tubes, floating down the canal. One thing leads to another and it is Pam who, once again, must save the day.

When things couldn't seem worse, the day takes a drastic turn for the better and it is Candy, and the float down the canal, that makes this the best day of Pam's life!
Available at Smashwords, B&N and Bibliocracy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Is Saved! By A Guest Blogger! Tomorrow!

I tell ya, it definitely pays when someone sends you an unexpected e-mail that innocently reminds of a day that you long completely forgot about.

Such was the case for tomorrow (7/9) as due to two distinct personal issues (one that is continuation from Easter and one that tragically popped up on Friday) took precedence over writing a blog post. I had nothing on tap and was completely preoccupied with the upcoming Monday thru Friday week from Hell, when fellow Solstice writer Penny Estelle sent me an e-mail containing a couple of pics and a blog post, asking me if it was too late to submit something for tomorrow.

I immediately replied that she was my savior because I had completely forgotten about her guest post and I was in a complete quandary as to what to write about on Monday, and by sending the e-mail, she managed to save my butt.

So tomorrow, please make it a point to stop by and say 'hi' to fellow Solstice writer Penny Estelle, as she will be a guest blogger on Cedar's Mountain. I'm not sure what her post is about, but I'm sure it will be a good one.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Ethical Quandary Of My Own Choosing

This post is a bit unusual, in that it'll be a part writing update and part ethical quandary.

First, the writing update: I've been doing a speed edit of my revamped novella A Shadow Warrior's Redemption and I'm about two thirds of the way down. I say "speed edit" because I thought that since I was seventh in line to be assigned an editor, I would have the time to do both what was asked of me last week (bio/dedication/acknowledgment/blurb) and get a leisurely round of editing in at the same time.

However, there is no such luck as in a continuing run of good news, I was actually assigned an editor last week. I figured I got about two week window or so to play with before having to get down to the pulling-my-hair-out-with-tweezers editing job on Line 21. Thus, we are speed editing.

Now at the same time we're speed editing the novella, I somehow managed to latch onto a seed of idea for a new short story last weekend while I was busy doing my morning toiletries. This is where the ethical quandary comes into play.

For those who were around here last year, in mid-October I wrote about what I thought was the increasing amount of depravity being passed off as crime fiction. I had a rather lively discussion on my blog with two crime fiction writers, Sue H and David Barber, about the overall state of crime fiction. Respect and civility was observed and afterwards, we continued to be the best of acquaintances.

So like I said, this past Sunday I latched onto a seed of an idea for a new story, and before I had to leave for grocery shopping, I got about a page and a half written in about a half hour or so. The quandary is this: The story itself is exactly what I'd railed about back in October. Extremely violent, wickedly nasty and very disturbing. And yes, before you ask, I intend to see this story all the way to the bitter end. I have no other choice, since this story is fast becoming like a few others of mine, in that even though I haven't written another word yet, I'm still mentally outlining the entire story.

As you can see, I found myself hip deep in an ethical quandary: I railed against this exact kind of story and yet, here I am writing this exact kind of story. So naturally, I posted the question on my Facebook page, and I got a response from David Barber about it. We had a pleasant little conversation about it, but afterwards, I still found myself with the same quandary.

How do I reconcile the fact that I'm writing a story in the same vein that I railed about nine months ago, and still feel strongly about to this day, without making myself look like a complete hypocrite? Is there a way to do that without looking like I'm waffling?

This quandary is really doing a number on my head as the minute I get around to reopening the document, the guilt trip that I was getting while writing this will start back up again.

Sometimes, it really does suck to be a writer, because you're damned if you do (write a good story in a genre that you don't like certain aspects of) and damned if you don't (give up on a good story because it's in a genre that you don't like certian aspects of).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th Of July On A Hump Day?

Ahhhhh, I can just hear the moaning and groaning and grumbling at work. "What the? I can't take a long weekend for the holiday? I actually have to come to work the next day? This is so unfair!"

Yeah, sometimes life is truly unfair. Pure baby snookums, you have celebrate the holiday on Prince Spaghetti day and have to come to work the next day sans hangover. If you think you got it bad, think about those overseas having to put up with celebrating the 4th not at home, not with family and certainly not with the peace of mind they so richly deserve. And if that doesn't stop your grumbling, think about those who didn't come back from overseas to celebrate the 4th with their loved ones.


Thus, we proudly salute those who aren't here with their loved ones today in the physical sense of the word.



Happy 4th July to everyone and happy 239th birthday to the great U. S. of A.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bi-Sy-Kling On A Busy Street? YOLO!

I've been enjoying riding my bike this summer. However, its safe to say that I'm not a hardcore enthusiast like some of the people I've met in the blog world.

Like Mr. R.K., who is the funniest person that I know of that really needs to return to blogging again (Mrs. R. K. please pass that plea on to him. I'll even grovel if need be). Or Darth Weasel, who is another funny guy whose blogging exploits have a tendency to really make you think. And can't forget classical music composer/intrusment builder Lane Savant.

All of these people can put me to shame when it comes to bicycling, simply because they do anywhere from 20 to 40 miles at a clip. Me, on a good day, I can do about 10. The last time I've even remotely approached what these fine gentlemen do on a bicycle, was back in the late 90's when I used to live in East Hartford. I used to do these monster bike rides from my home near the Coca-Cola plant and bike ride to Buckland Mall. Mapquest says the official road distance via the highway is 7.52 miles. However, if you do it the way I did it, which is picking up a bike path on the East Hartford/Manchester border, you can easily tack on an extra five to seven miles, since you have to take a few back roads to get there.

And even a couple of times, I've road my bike from East Hartford to Vernon, which according to Mapquest, the official road distance via the highway is 11.48 miles. But again, taking the back roads adds on an extra 10 miles or so.

However, I digress, or blogress as Joey would often say.

Now when I got bicycling, I often look at scenery like the picture you see on the left there. There happens to be a lot of tiger lilies in full bloom now, and looking a them often bring a small piece of contentment to my weary and tired spirit.

To see these tiger lilies requires one to go bicylcing down the multitude of side streets that pepper the town, and to fully appreciate not only these flowers, but all of the fantastic landscaping that the neighborhoods often requires riding down the middle of the road.


Fortunately on the weekends, most secondary roads in my town are often like this picture: dead and empty. So I can pretty much get away with bicyling down the middle of the road without being run over by a car.

Anyways, most of my trips take me all over the town, be it the library, the post office or the local ballfield.

But my two favorite places to go, which coincidentally are places where I haven't been bothered by overzealous parents and the cops.


Elizabeth Green Elementary School
 At these two places, I can be myself and not have to worry about someone making a complaint against me or trying to run me over.

So tell me, when you go out on bike ride or on a walk, where is your favorite destination and why?


Mill Pond Waterfalls


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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