Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Anatomy Of A Decision

In my 43 years I have been many things to many people, but the recurring theme has been disappointment. It all boils down to a lack of faith in myself and a fear of failure that leads to self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. I see my failures all too clearly, and while they sometimes keep me awake, it's the sight of the next one coming down the road that really keeps the sandman at bay.

Through it all, I have written, sometimes well, but more often than not with a passion fueled by vitriol and pain; a misguided use of a "talent" that could have made me something much more than what I have turned out to be. While that may sound like the words spoken by an arrogant man, they are actually uttered by a fellow who has discovered himself with a not so gentle push in the back by a pair of loving hands.

A few months ago, my Penny received a well earned promotion, but one that meant she would be on the road from Mon.- Fri every week. Faced with the prospect of too much time alone, I turned once more to writing, and posted an ad on a site, expecting very little. The results have been nothing short of incredible, and in that short time I have written over 200 articles, and received a number of outside offers which left my writing cup running over. Ten hour work days quickly turned to twenty, with my body begging for submission.

Something had to give, and it did, but again with those loving hands steering the way forward. A little over 2 weeks ago, Penny and i decided that I should write on a full-time permanent basis, and although the prospect worries me somewhat, I am actually confident that I will succeed.

I now see my world through her eyes, and disappointment is nowhere to be found; it's all pride and love and a trust that, for once, I will do something right. I want that view to extend to all who see me, for them all to see a man long gone from view, more through his own faults than a misguided perception from those on the outside looking in.

Sure, failure is an option, but if I want that vision to remain crystal clear, I can't let it be.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Little Bit Of Scottish

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but I have been extremely busy writing (more news to come on that in a future post), but I thought I'd take a moment to share a little thing I wrote for our favorite bar/restaurant, The Local Republic who are having a Scottish dinner this evening. Of course, busy as I am right now, I was unable to attend, but being Scottish and someone who dabbles in the flowing pen, the owners kindly asked me to write a wee bit for the header of the menu. This is what I came up with...

Scotland is a land of glaring contradictions; a country alive with color and beauty, all set against a grey, rain soaked canvas. A place where the rough tongued brogue assaults the ears in a verbal barrage, yet those self-same words are penned in a lyrical literary tone by the likes of Burns and Sir Walter Scott, writers who hear the beauty beneath the gruff exterior.
And then there is the food; a hidden treasure in the culinary world, yet one that will be revealed by our fine chefs here at Local Republic. So enjoy the feast that will be laid before you, and perhaps as you sip from your amber ale, you may taste the happy tears of those long lost Scottish poets. For them, and all that carved the history of Scotland, we ask you to raise your glass and say…..slainte.

 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Taste Of Bangers & Mash

The daily grind of writing for money has hampered my writing for the love of it, but Bangers & Mash will never die, they are just going to take a little longer to make it to the virtual page. As a wee treat, here is a glimpse into their world; this is a small excerpt from chapter 3, shortly after the first murdered butcher has been discovered....enjoy.


Without another word, detectives Bangers and Mash stepped inside the shop, and into a world that made them tick. The first thing that hit them, even before they saw the body, was the stench.
“What is that smell?” Mash asked, resisting the urge to gag by systematically breathing through his mouth.
“It smells like a wet, dirty sweater,” Bangers replied.
Mash pointed to the wall where a chalkboard, which usually displayed goods and prices, had been smeared clean and overwritten with a new message, MUTTON. HURT ANIMALS.
Both men were acutely aware of the body laid out on the counter top, but they knew that key evidence could be found by checking out the entire scene first. And so they pored over every small detail; pieces of seeming meaningless debris on the floor were placed in evidence bags, the handle of the open back door dusted for prints by Bangers, and any other item, no matter how tiny, jotted down in Mash’s notepad. With the painstaking detail work done, the detectives set about examining the body of Chuck Wolfe.
The butcher lay face down on the wooden counter. His head had been shoddily shaved, large clumps of hair sprouting up like follicle islands on his otherwise bare scalp. A big, bloody knot stood out near the crown of his head, obviously the place where the killer blow had been struck. Knitting needles had been jammed in each ear and bent upwards, giving Wolfe a horned appearance.
“Let’s roll him over,” Mash said quietly.
Bangers slid his hands under the butchers’ neck, raising the head, and Mash, tugging on the shoulders, started to pull the body over. As soon as the corpse moved, a static blast of white noise echoed around the small shop. The detectives both jumped backwards, letting go of the body, but momentum carried it forward, and Wolfe ended up laying on his back, mouth wide open as though in shock.
The hissing stopped almost as quickly as it had begun, but it was replaced by the sound of a single voice, faint, yet clear enough to be heard.
“Where’s that coming from?” Bangers asked.
Mash didn’t reply, instead he stepped back towards the body and placed his right ear against the butchers’ open mouth.
“It’s coming from him,” Mash said finally.
“What’s he saying? Is he telling you who the killer is?”
“He’s quite dead Richard, but I do recognize the voice. Come listen, tell me what you think.”
Mash stepped aside, allowing Bangers to listen, “Is that who I think it is?” he asked.
“If you think it’s Reggie Beevers, resident DJ at WLEY FM, then you would be correct my friend.”
“But how can he be talking through a dead man’s body? Is he one of them psycho fellas?”
“Psychic, Richard, psychic, and no, I believe the knitting needles are acting like an antenna and picking up the broadcast, watch.”
Mash maneuvered the body into a couple of different poses until the voice of Beevers came out loud and clear.
“….is a long distance dedication for Marie from London. Marie met her boyfriend, Thomas, while attending Oxford University. Before they could be wed, Thomas was shipped off to the Falkland Islands to fight for his country. They lost touch, Marie believing the love of her life had perished at war. Years later, walking the streets of London, she came across a legless war veteran begging for money. It was Thomas, and they instantly rekindled the love that had never died. So for Thomas and Marie, here is Kenny Loggins with Footloose…..”
Bangers and Mash were so engrossed in the strangeness, they failed to notice the woman enter the shop behind them until she cleared her throat. They jumped at the sound like a synchronized scared team.
“I didn’t mean to startle you both, sorry,” she said in a voice as smooth as silk.
Mash was the first to regain his composure. “That’s fine, Miss Loonie, glad to have you here. We hope you can shed some light on all of this,” he said, using his head to motion around the shop.
“I hope so too, I’m very scared.”
Feeling he should console the poor girl, Mash started to lower the re-position the dead body to a more normal state of lifelessness.
“STOP!!,” Bangers roared.
“What is it Richard, did you spot a piece of evidence?”
“No, not at all. I just love this song. Tis a classic don’t you know.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spreading The Words

Not so very long ago, I was quite content to hammer out a few lines of nonsense here, mostly as a distraction from the serious business of fiction writing. It would be serious if I really thought I was good enough to actually get anywhere, but alas I don't. OOOOOOPPS!!

Turns out there is a whole other world of writing available if you are prepared to make the step. I did, and am actually very glad to have done so. Almost all of my free time is now taken up writing SEO articles on a variety of subjects, from granite to kitty detectives. What strikes me as odd about the whole thing though is the secrecy, if that's the word, involved in the whole process. By that I mean, I write the piece, send it off to the buyer, and then never find out where it ends up. It's an odd thing to spend time writing something, only to have it completely disappear with the click of a mouse. There are some folks though who are quite happy to show off your work, and let you in on the details. Here are just some of the articles I've done in the past 2 weeks....

Crime Kittehs is my favorite recurring gig, and involves me writing as a feline detective named Harry Meowahan. I write about real cold cases from a Dirty Harry cat perspective....fun, fun, fun.

I've also been taken on as the resident blogger for a website called Party Cafe, and my job there is to do recaps of this seasons Hell's Kitchen, episode by episode. I may eventually be called upon to provide other food related articles, which should be easy given that my wife is a chef.

I've also done a couple of kitchen design gig for a customer in Australia. The difficulty in those was that I was required to put an Aussie spin on what I wrote. The customer was pleased and you can read the results here and here.

There is also another gig that could turn into something big, but I can't really talk about it until all the details fall into place.....very exciting though. I've never really been ambitious or craved money, but it really is nice to be making some dough doing what I love the most......long may it continue, as will the fiction writing, if I ever find the time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rollercoaster Of Love

This has been one long, strange week and it's only Wednesday. I'm really not sure if my poor old, fragile heart can take any more. Monday saw my wife Penny start her new job, a gig that will take her away from home most Monday through Fridays. It's really the first time we have been apart in our 3 years together, and I don't care for it at all. The mood was lightened somewhat on Tuesday when my kids got home from a one month vacation up in Canada. It was great to see them again, and we got to hang out and eat some ice-cream. I had survived my first rollercoaster drop on Monday, and was cresting again by last night.......and then all hell broke loose....
but first, let's pause for some music......



Spurred on by my lovely day, I managed to crank out 5 articles for my customers, cutting my backlog in half. I had a little text chat with Penny and then headed for bed. As the sandman was just about to sprinkle some of his happy midnight dust on my tender forehead, it started; the yowling and howling of cats engaged in the sort of sexual debauchery normally only reserved for Free Love Night At The Playboy Mansion. It went on, and on, and on to the point where I started to get a little envious, but then, mercifully, it stopped. Only to be replaced by the sound of a low flying jet heading for our local municipal airport....at 2 in the morning. REALLY? 2 in the morning, nothing is open in this area after 10 except for bail bondsmen and laundromats. At 3, the sandman tiptoed back in and put me under his magical spell......until my alarm went off at 5.30 for work......
Another musical interlude....



I stumbled out of bed, engaged in my morning cleaning ritual, and headed for the car (Penny's, not mine....she is using my more reliable auto for work) only to find that i had not one, but two flat tires. Unable to cope, and on the brink of a complete nervous breakdown, I called out sick, went back inside and drank an entire pot of coffee, straight from the coffee maker via a bendy straw and an IV tube.. Back out to the car, only to find that the spare is bolted in, the threads rusted a glorious shade of orange. 6 hours, and a gallon of CLR, later, the spare was out and ready to be put on....the jack though, was not prepared to co-operate; all rusted and bent, it held long enough to get the really bad flat off (I could drive on the other just long enough to get to the gas station), before giving up. Called my friend who brought a spare jack, popped on the baby tire, lowered the car, and discovered the spare was almost flat......AAAAAAARRRRGGGHHH!! Fortunately there is a gas station about 1 minute up the street.....Both tires now inflated and ready to roll....me, totally deflated; hands up, here comes the next big drop.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bangers & Mash Update

I thought that this week off work would mean a big chunk of Bangers & Mash being written, but actual paying writing gigs have stalled the process, with only about 200 words of chapter 4 getting onto paper (well, memory stick). The coast looks clear today though, so I am going to try and crank out 2 more chapters which will take me to about one third done.....I have also started writing, in my head of course, their second adventure, The Wind Demon Of Wisteria, featuring the evil villain, Heinz Bacchus Benz.
Other than the writing, there has been some progress made on the B&M front, with the book cover done, and a little teaser video set up....check them both out and let me know what you think...

video

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wanted : Personal Assistant

This would be a fairly straightforward gig for the successful applicant. All that is required is to answer the messages I receive at fiverr.com, and make sure I take my medication....simple.

I kid, I kid, but this little writing gig has exploded more than I ever thought it would. I have pumped out 13 articles in the past 24 hours, and now have a head full of useless information (to me at least), that won't go away. It's very rewarding to get that $5 cha-ching sound with every finished blurb, but the stress of having to deal with the customers is terrible (interaction is not my strong suit), and waiting to see if they actually liked what I wrote is unbearable.

Before you know it, I'll be hiring myself to write about high blood pressure and stomach ulcers. Truth be told, I am actually enjoying this whole thing. It feels good to be writing on a daily basis, and, thus far at least, everyone seems pleased with my output. Writing daily can only help improve my craft (God that sounds pretentious), and will help me get better in the long run.

So, for those of you visiting from fiverr, contemplating using my services, bring it on. I'll be right here waiting, pepto bismol and blood pressure cuff in hand.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Anything For A Buck........Or 5

In these tough economic times, it seems that people will do just about anything for a couple of extra dollars. They will scream your name, over and over and over, make little woolen baby chicks wearing a hat, or write your name on their belly and do a hula dance while singing the national anthem of your country. I am of course referring to a magnificent little website called fiverr.com.

The gist of the site is simple; you post an ad stating what you will do for $5. As you can see there is no limit to the personal torment that people will put themselves through in pursuit of the almighty dollar. I had stumbled across this site numerous times, but finally decided to offer my writing services last night. My initial idea was to write 500 words while spraying canola oil over my supine body, but turn out my laptop keyboard does not react well to corn.....so, I just stuck with the 500 word articles for a finn.

Given the amount of ads over there, I fully expected to be quickly lost in the shuffle, but, much to my surprise and delight, I had an order waiting for me this morning. Not exactly a glamor piece, but paid work nonetheless. No matter the content, I find this sort of writing challenge more than a little exciting. it's fun to do a little research and try to coherently write about a subject you know little or nothing about. The first draft is done and sent, and now I anxiously wait and see if I have pulled it off. A little thumbs up and positive feedback could lead to more work....fingers crossed.

If you'd like to check out my ad, or perhaps even chuck a little work my way, you can do so by visiting my fiverr page by clicking here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vacation Time

Sundays have always been something of a good/bad thing for me. Good in that it is another day off, bad in that work looms large on the horizon. Despite the fact that next week is vacation time for me, this Sunday still rings a little hollow.

A good chunk of that off time will be spent alone. My kids are still up in Canada, vacationing with their family, and Penny will have to work most of the week she was supposed to be off. She will have to train the new chef and get prepared for her new position, regional chef, which starts next Monday. All of this combined has left me a little cranky this week, snapping at the slightest little thing, and generally being a major, unsmiling, pain in the ass........well, more so than usual some would say.

This, I fear, will be nothing compared to what is coming next Sunday, the day before my Penny flies the friendly skies en route to her new career. It is both an exciting and mind-numbingly scary time. It's an amazing opportunity for her, yet we are so attached at the hip, I fear I may fall over when she goes. On the bright side, we do have a little experience with this. When I was forced to go on second shift at work, our quality time became early morning cups of coffee together, and Saturdays where I struggled to stay awake, courtesy of my messed up schedule. We came through that unscathed, and will do the same with this.....the force is strong in this relationship.

So, what to do with all this free time? Reading and writing will occupy the biggest part of it. I have already finished 2 books on my NOOK, and am systematically cutting a swath through the literary backlog. I will also be looking to hammer out a large chunk of Bangers And Mash (my young adult novel currently in the works) in an attempt to get a large percentage complete before my kids get back. The book is, more than anything, a labor of love being written for them, combining characters and places that I used in the bedtime stories I would weave for them when they were little......I miss them so much.

I'm also going to try and get some sleep, although that seems a lot less likely than anything else attempted in the next week. 3 or 4 hours slumber is a good night for me, no matter how tired.....I am rambling now, let's put it down to sleep deprivation. For now, it's beer and soccer time ( A perfect combination that never gets old), while I wait for Pen to get home from work and, much like booze and footy, we are a combination that will never get old......Love you baby.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Half Price Summer Sale

As a Scotsman, it galls me to have to part with money in any way, shape, or form, but I have made an exception for all the lovely folks that take the time to visit my blog. I have included my collection of short horror fiction, Behind These Eyes Of Sleep, in the Smashwords Summer Sale. You can now have it for the low, low price of $1...... get it while you can, and please don't worry that the price is so ridiculously low that any profits I make from the sales will do nothing to help feed my family......sigh!!

I kid, of course. There are some great writers over at Smashwords, and the prices are great. Just follow this link to be taken to my book page where you will find the download link and half-price code....enjoy.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Bleak Outlook

My wife Penny received some fantastic news this week, an exciting turn of events that has this household a little giddy. She received a major promotion and will now be regional chef for her current company. The new position will have her in charge of 13 properties, across 4 states. The downside is that she will most likely be on the road 5 days a week. Given our current work schedules, our quality time will not alter that much, but it will also mean that I will be left alone for large periods of time.....never a good thing, just me and my head.

In these sorts of situations, scientist love to come up with forecast models and scenarios on how this will change the world. I'm no scientist, obviously, but thought it would be interesting to look at 3 major life changes that may take place while Penny is out of town....so here goes..

#1 EATING HABITS
 As previously mentioned, I am married to a chef, a great one at that, and I eat well. Penny is happy with my sticky out belly, which means I am too, but left alone, food will become a rather unnecessary priority. I never think to eat when I am alone, my mind is far too busy living in some other fantasy world for such mundane tasks as chowing down....the one week forecast is not pretty...


#2 APPEARANCE
I don't think of myself as a particularly natty dresser. I am very comfortable in cargo shorts, skull t-shirt and sandals, but I do try to make the effort to maintain a tidy appearance so that my wife will not be appalled by my penchant for scruffiness. Shaving and underwear changing will be the first to go, followed by water avoidance and soap deprivation.....the forecast is again not too great....

#3 Skin Tone

I am from Scotland and have the skin tone of an albino on crack. Anything more than 5 minutes in the sun will cause me too blister, crack and peel in spectacularly quick fashion. This, combined with my natural shut-in tendencies, has done little for my color over the years, but Penny has forced me outside and the hot rays of the Atlanta sun have turned me a nice shade of melba toast with a thin smearing of philly cream cheese over the past 3 years. Left alone, the indoors will once again become my friend and there is the distinct possibility that I will revert to my natural pale blue skin shade......here is the outlook....
I do not fear these changes, as it will simply be a case of my body sliding back to it's natural, pre 30's state. With all this going on, perhaps my hair will decide to start growing in places other than my ears, nose and ass. Maybe the future is not so bleak after all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Scary Stuff

For as long as I can recall, I have been a fan of all things spooky. Friday nights were spent with my Mum, both of us in front of the TV, soaking up the late night double feature of Hammer Horror. Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee were my heroes, but as much as I loved those blood-soaked flicks, the possibility of real-life ghosts and goblins, and things that go bump in the night, seemed highly unlikely. Part of the allure of those movies, was that you could be scared witless for 90 minutes, but realize that you were safe and sound the whole time.

That viewpoint changed forever, the moment I set foot into my new home; a basement suite tucked into the middle of an ordinary looking subdivision in Calgary, Canada. The weirdness began almost immediately, with items falling off shelves, my clock radio mysteriously changing stations during the night, cold spots, and an unnerving feeling of being watched all the time. My friends thought me mad, not to mention a little boozy, but I knew better. The pinnacle of the events came when I, and  2 friends, saw a man, fully transparent, walk up my hallway and through a wall. My interest was peaked, and my underpants full, all at the same time.

I became somewhat obsessed with the paranormal world, reading everything I could and even joining a ghost hunting group for as bit (an odd bunch that couldn't decide on a direction, unfortunately). That interest cooled a little, but always stayed in the back of my mind, just waiting to be peaked. That came recently, when strange events started taking place in our condo....mostly door-slamming, bangs and strange voices (I have a great recording of one that I will try to get online).

With all that in mind, I have started a new blog where I will post creepy videos, horror movie trailers, and perhaps some of my old horror tales. If you want to give it a looksee, you can do so by visiting, The Daily Scare.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Mind Is Willing

It's another glorious Tuesday here in the ATL. The sun is shining, soccer is on TV, and I am enjoying my day off work. It is a much needed day given my ever increasing list of aches and pains, all work related. The most recent of these ailment is a dodgy lower back, not ridiculously painful, but enough to have me scrambling for some Advil. It's no real surprise given the rigorous lifting nature of my job, as well as my advancing years.

A lot of these issues are in my head. Don't get me wrong, i don't mean that I am imagining some sort of phantom pain, but inside that twisted little noggin of mine lies the belief that I am still in my 20's. A simple turn of thought can place a flowing mane of mullet-styled locks on my bald head, can shave 30lbs off my expanding waistline, and can remove my, ever so trendy, eyeglasses with 20/20 vision. One glance in the mirror brings the reality rushing back, which is why all reflective surfaces have been removed from our house.

Rather than try to combat the ravages of time by the normal route; eating properly, exercising, and getting 8 hours sleep per night, I shun these practices, choosing instead the life of fast food, sloth and insomnia. My efforts at counteracting the aging process include, but are not limited to, covering my wrinkles with tattoos, dressing like a goth pirate, and getting my wife drunk enough that her vision will be impaired enough to see me as Johnny Depp rather than Johnny Goodman......so far, so good.

I really do believe that age is just a number, but it seems that when that number creeps over 40, the body goes into full deniability and attempts to crush that belief into dust. I'm sticking with it though, and I will bet than when my frame does give it up and renders me incapable of doing my current job, I will become a fully inked Wal-Mart greeter welcoming you to the store with a hearty, "AHOY!!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jose Can You See?

This coming Saturday night represents a big day in my life as a soccer fan. For those not in the loop, it is the Gold Cup Final between the US and Mexico, as well as the chance for me to complete the soccer brainwashing of my wife. It will represent something of a coming together, Penny embracing soccer, and me cheering for the US in a sporting capacity.

I can still remember when the World Cup was handed to the American back in 1994. Soccer purists, such as myself, were appalled when they landed the holy grail of the round ball world. I vowed never to lend my backing to a country that didn't appreciate the sport the way it is meant to be. That all changed when I fell in love with an American woman with an affinity for beer and sports. It also helped that the US were drawn against England (shower of bastards) the 2010 World Cup Finals. I was introduced, via alcohol, to a little pocket of rabid fans who loved their country, and understood the beauty of the game.....I became a  US soccer fan.

Now, don't' get me wrong, if the Yanks had to play Scotland in any sort of competitive arena, it's be off with the knickers, on with the kilt, and full foul-mouthed Celt in effect. Until such times, I will throw my support behind the bald eagle crowd, and their hordes of adoring fans.


I mean, look at that picture up there...the pride, the color, the pageantry. It is all that is good about US soccer. take a moment and drink in that image, and then look below and compare it with the average, Scottish soccer fan.....do you notice the difference?



I don't care that I bear a more striking resemblance to the poor lad in the video up there, this Saturday I will be lending my voice to the nation of apple pie and freedom, where names like Donovan, Bradley, and Dempsey will etch their names into my heart.........plus, if they win, I'll be able to collect a boatload of cash and corona's from the Mexican dudes at work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Crazy Georgia

It's the first day of summer, and we Georgia residents are being treated to yet another day in the mid 90's. That's all well and good for lifetime residents of the state, but pasty Scottish types like myself, are forced to stay indoors for fear that we may explode in the blistering heat, or, worse yet, risk looking like that shiny vampire dude should we ever dare remove our shirts.

It's really hard to complain about the weather here, it's that good, but there are other things, strange laws, that make Georgia living a little kooky. I am a man who is strictly blue collar, and I enjoy the less finer things in life, such as beer, gambling, tattoos, and public nudity (I have to show off my less visible body art). Lawmakers here don't make it easy to do the fun stuff. There are no Sunday beer sales allowed, that is unless you go to a bar. So, to be clear, I can walk to my local liquor store, only to find it closed, but pop into the bar situated next door, and get completely pantsed.....makes sense. Sports gambling is illegal, yet I can play at least one lottery every day of the week here. I kinda understand that these two laws are in place to protect family values and the sanctity of biblical life here in the South, but as an atheist, shouldn't I be able to take my hard earned cash down to the booze shop, polish off a 24 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon, then place a 10 dollar bet on the Raiders to win the Super Bowl? (actually when I read that out loud, those do seem like poor life choices)

There are some stranger, less known laws on the books in Georgia though. All sex toys are banned. WOW!! How is the average male supposed to please his lady without using his ass blaster 3000? It should be noted that this law has not been enforced since 1968, and is now deemed archaic. (I was born in 67. Coincidence? I think not). It is illegal to use profanity in front of a dead body. I know myself well, and if I am out for a Sunday stroll (to the bar) and I stumble across a dead body, I am not going to say, "Gee whizz, a decomposing corpse is in my way. What should I do? I am at my wit's end." It is more likely to be, "Je$%s H. fuc***g Ch#^$t on a flying fuc*ly broomstick, it's a bas***d dead body, I think I just s**t myself." This outburst has nothing to do with poor breeding or a small vocabulary, I curse when I get scared, or happy, or sad, or.....I curse a lot, you get the picture. It is also against the law to keep a donkey in a bathtub.....I have no words for this, not even foul ones, it's just that weird.

On the bright side, it is looking more and more as though Sunday booze sales may eventually be legal here, with a number of cities voting on it shortly. I complain, but I rarely drink on Sundays as I am usually hungover from Saturday, and I just stick, literally, to the couch, trying to remember where I was and why I swallowed a mouthful of cotton.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Blues

Before I start on today's little bout of self pity, I'd like to send out a couple of long distance dedications. Happy birthday wishes to my sister, Jean, up in Canada, and my wee cousin Stephen back in Scotland. Also, Happy Father's Day to my old man, and all you other proud pops out there.

Rollin' through these hills I've known I'd be comin'
Ain't a man alive that likes to be alone?
.......Ray Lamontagne, For The Summer

I've never been one to buy into those "holidays" that seem to serve no purpose other than lining the pockets of the greetings car makers. Mother and Fathers Day, administrative assistants day, finally free from herpes day, and all the rest. With today being Father's Day, I figured I would be free from the hype that surrounds it, but with my kids away on vacation, and my wife working, I am left alone with my thoughts (always dangerous), and have found that I am a little on the down side.

It has nothing so much to do with the day, but rather the absence of the ones I love. I don't need a card, or a horribly mismatched tie and handkerchief set to validate my Fatherdom. My kids owe me nothing, yet they give me their love every day. There is no match for that, nothing any amount of money could ever buy. It is all the more remarkable given the fact that I feel like I am a failure on a daily basis, that I am letting those around me down. A combination of modern medicine and positive affirmation from my loved ones, tells me that my feelings about myself are wrong, yet they persist. It's just the way my mind works (or doesn't).

Messages from my kids and my wife, left for me to wake up to on Facebook, brighten my day, but the clouds persist somewhat. When that happens, I try to escape by losing myself in writing and music. So when I finish this, I am off to start work on a story I promised my wee ones. It will be a distant departure from my usual work, but a labor of love nonetheless. My kids will be in my head and heart as I write, and as long as they are there, I will never be alone.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bangers And Mash Are Born

It has been an insanely creative 36 hours inside my head. Yesterday I posted an article about character development and mention a pair of detectives named, Bangers and Mash, as a duo that I am thinking of building upon. Well that building is well and truly underway with 8 pages of scribbled notes, town maps, character names, shop names, and much more. I even went as far as to write the opening of the story, a monologue type dealio that I wanted to sound like  Twilight Zone opening. The story is complete in my head, and it's gonna be a long one for me, as I have it broken down into about 12 major scenes. On top of all that, I have the ideas for about 5 or 6 more stories involving these 2, all based on the ridiculous stories I made up for my kids when they were younger. Instead of going the hard boiled detective route, I decided to keep it more kid friendly and as ridiculous as possible....the character names are completely absurd, but made me giggle nonetheless. Writing begins tonight, and I have decided to share the opening which will, most likely, be tweaked a little.

In the heart of England's countryside, hidden below the verdant grass and towering oaks, hide the ley lines. For centuries scholars and scientists have spoken of their power. Truth seekers and mystic have walked their paths in search of enlightenment. The lines yield nothing but rumors and old wives tales, but ask the occupants of the twin towns of Wisteria and Barbignol, and they will tell you of the hum. You see, they believe the lines sing out every once in a while, and when they do, strange events occur. When the humming starts, the townsfolk know they can count on their brave protectors to save the day, their heroes, Detectives Bangers and Mash.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Character Development

I have been scanning through my previous posts and realized that I don't really do much talking about writing or the process involved. This blog has become an exercise in trying to make my wife have a little giggle or two after a hard day's work, that's how much I love her. I thought I would get away from that, just a little, today, and actually write about how I develop characters. The truth is, I do very little in that department. The story outline always comes first, and the characters just kinda flesh out as I write them.

Procrastination has actually helped me get better at development....let me explain. Every time I finish a story, I always believe, "that's it". I simply cannot imagine that another idea will ever pass through my head again, and that my story making days have officially ended. With that in mind, i always keep a couple of ideas in reserve, never knowing of they will ever get written, just keeping them lock inside my twisted mind....a writer's block insurance policy if you will. In doing so, I have actually built up those stories, as well as the characters within, to a point where they actually might be pretty decent.....let's take a peek.

Edwin Grime, AKA The Grime Reaper....a former military man, broken in mind, who hears demonic voices and acts on the instructions they send his way. An all around nasty piece of work who ultimately comes to believe that killing 4 specifically chosen individuals by air, fire, earth and water, will allow Satan to appear on earth....this one has been percolating for over a decade, and Edwin has actually showed up in an unfinished short called, "Echoes".
The Hood....an updated version of Little Red Riding Hood...wolf killer and sociopath. She has been built up to the point where the story is pretty much done in my head, and the book cover designed. This one will get written, it's just that messed up.
Bonesaw....I've always wanted to do a superhero type story, and Bonesaw, though not really superhero, is my foray into that genre. A gifted surgeon whose family is slaughtered before his eyes, his right hand cut off in the melee. He fuses a bonesaw to the nub and sets out hell bent on revenge. The saw is triggered by anger, wiring that would glow a neon blue, running through his skin, attached to his brain. This will never see the light of day as the amount of research into surgery and brain activity etc. is just a wee bit too much for my lazy ass to handle.
Bangers And Mash....This duo was born this morning after a breakfast conversation with my kids. We were talking about bands with food names, and my daughter thought that bangers and mash would be a cool name for a band, and I replied that I thought it would be a fantastic name for a pair of detectives.....the light came on. The story is now in full head development and will most likely be written for my kids. They got all giggly at the idea.

So there you have it.....The reaper, the hood and bangers and mash will escape from my head, but Bonesaw will stay there, locked in development hell, or until such times as I can afford an assistant to do my research for me....yes, I am just that lazy.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

You Wanna Bet?

Call me a degenerate if you must, but I have always had a love for gambling. I'm not much for poker, blackjack, or any other casino games for that matter, but sports, particularly the ponies, have always held a real fascination for me. My love of horse racing came early on. The sports section in the Scottish newspapers list all the races for that day, accompanied by a whole host of numbers, previous stats that looked like a code just waiting to be cracked. Math always came easy to me, so these numbers seemed like a challenge that was right up my alley. I would pore over these digits, make my picks, then watch for the results. Turns out I developed a knack for it. Too bad I was only 12 years old and betting shops were a no-go zone for impressionable little poppets like myself. Cue my dad who recognized my "studying" and let me make out a betting slip every Saturday. My choice was a yankee, which was choosing 4 horses from all the races that day and watching as the winnings accumulated with each win (doubles, trebles etc). The winnings weren't much for a 10 pence stake, but it was fun nonetheless.

My love affair with the ponies cooled over time, but was re-ignited when I moved to Calgary, Canada, a city that had live horse racing every spring. My mom and I would go every second Friday, and it was back on again. I started my own website, posting my selections and ended up with a pretty large following. I made money for a lot of those followers, but every time I played seemed to coincide with a losing streak (I am not the luckiest person in the world). The inability to actually bet here in Georgia, once again waned my interest, but, thanks to those usually annoying facebook ads, I found a couple of alternatives that would let me get my daily betting groove on and not cost me a penny in the process. Both sites offer free money to play with (only 10 cents to start), but you can rack it up pretty quickly, plus they give you another 10 cents to play if you lose. All great fun, and the perfect tonic for the casual gambler who would like to keep their shirt. You can check out both sites here...Centsports and FreeSportsBet ......I have also set up a blog, posting my selections most every day, check it out here ......I had a solid month in May, but I am in the crapper this month. Just figured that letting other people know might just turn my luck around.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Breakfast On A Budget

On a day off from work, it would be easy to get up, put the coffee pot on, and pop some bread into the toaster. Easy, but not what the rules of dayoffdom dictate. After a number of 12-14 hour shifts, it's time to let someone else make my breakfast for me, but money is tight, so where to eat?

IHOP is great, but a little on the pricey side for the breakfast budgeted, plus it only stays inside me for about 30 minutes before making a hasty exit (I'll leave the gory details to you imagination). Burger King has been permanently stricken from my list after deciding to eliminate the enormous omelet sandwich from their menu. The was a gloriously meaty grease bomb that came complete with its own defibrillator. McDonalds has enough dollar items to satisfy the money scrimping eater, but getting that means buying an extra hashbrown for my dog, who will sit and stare at me with lustful desire, tongue hanging out, saliva dripping, until she is given her morsel. It's the kind of look you normally only see on the face of a sex-starved man at a free brothel. Krystal's little sunriser sandwiches are yummy and cheap, but their coffee blows, and I MUST have coffee.

let me explain my coffee thing. I love that stuff, need it to get started for the day, but have a penchant for cheap. Dunkin Donuts good, Krispy Kreme, blech. McDonald coffee is fine, but I usually go with a vanilla latte which is a touch too expensive. QT gas station latte, cheap and good, but breakfast items are foul. The best, by far, is Tim Horton's, a Canadian coffee shop chain that make java to die for. Penny and I import it by the ton, and so my decision is made, a compromise if you will. I will start a pot of Timmy's, then head to Krystal's for 4 sunrisers, and a bag of hashbrowns for the dog.....$5, not bad.

As with any budget, there are unforseen incidents that blow it out of the water. Today is a Starbucks meetup with my daughter, which will, more likely than not, order a venti mocha frap, served in a gold encrusted chalice, with a topping of whipped cream made from the milk of a 2 horned narwhal. My venti vanilla latte will bring the total order to around $48. Oh well, at least the dog isn't coming.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Far From Home

Time has a funny way of slipping by unnoticed. Your waistline spreads and your hair recedes, leaving you looking very different from how you feel on the inside. My head says 25, my body screams 40 something. Even stranger to me is that I have now spent more years living in other countries (Canada and USA) than I did in my homeland of Scotland. The upside of living abroad is that you come off looking and sounding far more exotic than you actually are. The negatives tend to be a little more grating on the nerves.

Number one on the downside is the complete inability of some people to understand a single word you say, this despite the fact you are both speaking English. People have difficulty understanding simple words like bird, butter, and Constantinople, not to mention thinking my name is Joe rather than John. I avoid the telephone like the plague as the simple task of ordering a medium cheese pizza turn into a marathon conversation that screams for the Rosetta Stone, or UN intervention. It's when people say, "speak English", that makes me really bristle. Before you utter this little gem, pause for as moment and think about how old my country is compared to yours......who was speaking English first? I am doing it properly, it is you who are the marble mouth, pox-marked jolthead.

Living far from your native land also brings on a cokehead like craving for food and drink from home. More than once I have found myself face down on the floor of the nearby British shop, covered in delicious sweeties, trembling furiously and hollering, "give me what I need daddy." Sure, you can find some of your favorites, but there is always that elusive thing or two that you can never have. A decent serving of fish and chips ranks highest on my list. There is nothing like a grease soaked bag of chips, a soggy piece of cheap ass fish, wrapped in newspaper and served with a bottle of Irn-Bru (Scottish soda) to wash it all down. I swear if perfume makers sold a white vinegar fragrance, I'd be on it in a shot. Beer also doesn't quite live up to expectations, and I would sooner drink my own urine than swallow a single gulp of Budweiser. Why do you think Bear Grylls is so keen to gulp down his piss during his exotic adventures?

I am not saying that it's been all bad. My kids are Canadian, and the beer up there came close. The weather here is fantastic, and my wife represents all that is good about the US. Still, there are those moments, few and far between now, when I wanna slap on my red slippers, click my heels, and exclaim that there is no place like home.........even if it is just a 10 minute trip back to get a fish supper.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Sound Of Silence

There is nothing like a nice, quiet long weekend,,,,this one has been nothing like it. On the plus side, I have my kids staying over for 5 days, but the negative side is that they have commandeered our TV, inflicting upon us a series of insanely loud kids programming.

It didn't start that way though. We started out with a couple of live soccer games, although my screaming during these events must have been pretty grating to the wee ones. From there we switched to watching a 10 episode marathon of Band Of Brothers. Great stuff, but I went to bed last night believing my ear had been nicked by a piece of flying shrapnel. It was so bad, the gentle swooshing of the page turn son my NOOK, sounded like an incoming tsunami.

Today is the worst, to the point of being unbearable. My daughter has the remote and I have been spoon fed a steady diet of Teen Nicks shows, all of which I have seen (ok, mostly heard) over the past few months. They all seem the same to me, a host of chattering teens who seem to think that comedy involves yelling, screaming, and flailing around like a zombie in a blender. I can hear it all even when I am a vacuuming, and can't take it anymore. All of this despite the fact the kids have a lovely TV in their room, upstairs and away from the delicate ears of their curmudgeonly father. Yet it is I who am forced upstairs with my laptop. Funny thing is, i can't even hear the sound of the keys tapping, instead I am forced to listen to the high pitched ringing in my ears, identical to the sound you get when you lay down and close your eyes after a night of heavy boozing. The room may not be spinning, but the call of beer is now breaking through the din.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

100th Post

What a big day this is turning out to be. It's the European Cup Final (I refuse to call it by it's new name), featuring Manchester United and Barcelona, and now I have just noticed that this will represent a century of useless posts on this blog. How to celebrate such a momentous occasion? By begging for more help of course.

I have 2 requests today. The first is to ask you all to help promote my posts a viewshound (a new site I have started writing for). You can find my stuff by clicking here

The second comes with a prize (woohoo). Download my short story, The Tweener (it's free) and leave a review. The best review (good or bad, be honest) will receive a copy of my collection of shorts, Behind These Eyes Of Sleep. Of course, if you think the short sucked, you may not want that prize.....oops. You can download the short by clicking here.

Thank you all who take the time to read the stuff I post here, looking forward to posting the next 100.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Download Here!!

Get it now with Paypal. The ideal Christmas gift in May....

Sixty Seconds - The Umbrella

I love doing this blog, but it has kinda gotten away from what I initially intended. The idea was to have this a place to post story ideas, snippets, and such, but it has become more of a humor blog with rants about boozing and public restrooms. Those will not go away, as they are fun to do, but I also want to get back to my storytelling roots as it were. With that in mind, I am going to start doing some of the creative prompts form the Sixty Second Writer blog . The challenge I am giving myself is to write a piece relevant to the challenge, but to do so without any real thought after my initial idea. I am just going to let my fingers roll and see what comes.....no edits, no tweaking, just pure stream of consciousness writing.....that has always been the style I have used in the past. Without any further rambling, here is today's effort, inspired by this challenge.


Under That Umbrella
The irony hung heavier than the storm clouds that threatened to wash away the assembly of mourners. It appeared to me an act of God's sick humor that the boy should go into the ground in the same sort of weather that had contributed to his death. It could be argued that alcohol played a bigger part than the rain slicked roads, but that is one that will be decided by the courts, rather than the big man upstairs.
The sound of the falling rain acts as a mute button to the cries and wails of the family, but I can still feel their sorrow. It is a force that penetrates to the marrow, tearing at flesh and battering through the makeshift shield of my gaudily colored umbrella, a splash of bright that appears in sharp contrast to the funereal black.
I hang my head and pray, not just for the boy, but for forgiveness for the crime of ending his life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Around The World In 80 Beers - Saturday

Saturday heralded in another scorching Georgia day, and we welcomed the sunshine by getting up at the crack of 11. It was a quick clean up as we were keen to get our drink on before the 6PM apocalypse. First stop though was a cool little diner for breakfast. I hammered back more pig than is good for the heart, washing it down with a vat of coffee and some french toast. As we left, Penny could not stop staring at the delicious looking cakes they had on display, a fascination that almost sent her toppling of the little step of the exit.

Taco Mac - Our first stop of the day after an energy sapping 30 second walk up main street. We did also stop at a chef equipment store where Penny had a look at some of the high quality knives on display. The high speed slicing and dicing maneuvers just reinforced the fact that I will never stray to the arms of another woman, lest I piss her off. We had a couple of wobbly pops here, an IPA called Widmer Nelson that almost made me weep, so delicious was it's travel down my throat.

The Marlay House - My new favorite place in Decatur. They bill themselves as, "a bit of Dublin in Decatur", and I have to say the description is apt, as that place added a wee bit of color to my Celtic roots. The food was spectacular (risotto balls and sausage rolls), but not enough time to sample all the stuff we wanted. Service great, and the customers were fantastic too. met a great guy from South Africa and we had a real laugh. We decided at this point that a coffee might be in order before we ate, so we hit a little java spot, then a book store (new Anthony Bourdain book for Pen), before deciding on sushi (a major surprise that I agreed).

Cafe Lily - Not the sushi place, but a needed stopping off point as the coffee and beer decided to leave my body from all emergency exits, except my mouth. The duck walk was back in full effect as we searched for a place for me to start evacuation proceedings. Funnily enough, the duck walk was accompanied by my yelling, "AFLAC", or something very similar. We stopped for a drink after I rendered their washrooms uninhabitable. I had a beer and a rye called RI....very nice. Penny opted for some fruity vodka concoction that tasted like Carmen Miranda's hat.

From there we headed to the sushi place, the name of which I can't remember. Service was terrible, food mediocre at best, and the Sapporo premium beer was premium piss. Unwilling to let the weekend end on such a sour note, we stopped of at a place called, the Blue Ribbon Grill. This was the spot where we would hang out when we first started dating. It is also the place where we both realized, at the same time funnily enough, that we were in love. sappy yes, but it still warms me to sit there with my lady. You will notice there is no link to that location, that's because it's ours and I'd like to keep it that way, thank you.

All in all, a great weekend, and one that I don't think either of us will ever forget.

Around The World In 80 Beers - Friday

The famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns, once said, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley." Simply put, it means that no matter how well we plan things out, they seldom go as we wished them to. On occasion though, plan B often ends up way better than what we had set out to do in the first place. Such was the case this weekend when Penny and I had decided to take in the Atlanta Silverbacks pro soccer game on Friday night. Much to our dismay, the game was cancelled, but a better plan formed over a couple of beers at our local. We decided to head to our favorite metro Atlanta spot, Decatur, grab a hotel for the night, and hit the great little bar scene that thrives down there.....here is how it went, with links to the hotspots.

Raging Burrito - We started out in their awesome little garden patio. A cozy, dimly lit spot with a fantastic beer collection. We had a couple of brews and split a quesadilla, which Penny managed to mispronounce twice in classic Napoleon Dynamite style.

Mac Mcgee - Our favorite bar in Decatur, or so we thought. I switched to Kilkenny, a deliciously creamy Irish beer, and Penny moved on to Weinstepahner, a heffe, cloudier than a Scottish winter day. Tiredness hit me hard there (rough day at work), and I got quickly pantsed (shitfaced).That did not stop us from another, 2am pub stop.

The Brick Store Pub - Probably the most pretentious spot in town, but the beer selection is unequaled, especially in their upstairs Belgian bar. We sat outside, Penny enjoying the Georgia warmth, me working on my moon tan. I ordered an absolutely unpronounceable Belgian craft beer, but in truth, just saying Bud Light would have been a challenge at this point.

From there we jumped a cab for the 2 block ride home. As I had mentioned earlier, I had a long, hard day at work in a stiflingly hot environment which had left me somewhat chaffed in a few rather precious spots. I could have walked, but would have just ended up looking like a duck with rickets, as well as adding to the tenderness.

Saturdays events coming up shortly.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The End Is Nigh

Writing this blog has been way more fun than I ever imagined. I started it as a bit of a writing exercise, hoping to jump start some ideas for the short fiction pieces that fuel my creative fire. All good things must come to an end though, and this blog, along with the rest of the world will cease to exist as of 6 PM on Saturday, May 21st.

In case you missed it, Harold Camping (a certified lunatic IMHO) has revealed that a massive earthquake will start at 6PM in every location around the world (starting in New Zealand, as they are the first spot to hit 6PM), destroying our planet in a mighty, biblical meltdown. I'd be terrified were it nor for the fact the Mr Camping first stated this would happen back in 1994, but had to re-adjust the date after he realized that he had somehow miscalculated his bible readouts. It would seem that his Commodore 64 was not up to handling his Armageddon App, but Windows 7 handled it nicely. All this hooha has religious folks around the world getting right with God, and preparing for the rapture by hitting their local Piggly Wiggly, and stocking up on beef jerky.

This whole thing kinda reminds me of the Y2K frenzy, a time when people believed all the computers would crash, sending us back to the technological stone age. We were told there would be chaos, anarchy in the streets, murder and mayhem. Even Wal-Mart couldn't handle the crush as ordinary folks loaded up on new world essentials such as water, bread, milk, ground to air missiles, and toilet paper. It was somewhat refreshing to think that, amid the madness, people were still concerned with the freshness of their bowels.

I have a feeling that Saturday will pass in much the same way as the last day of 1999 did....with a whimper. If the worst should happen, and the world starts coming apart at the seams, then I will kiss my wife, hug my kids, tell them I love them.....then probably open a 24 pack of Guinness, roll a big fatty and listen to this golden oldie.......

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hair Of The Dog

We all have those childhood moments that we try to erase from our memories, so that we may recall our formative years as being free of any kind of torment. My worst moment was brought back in stunning detail when, just last week, a friend of mine had a rather nasty chunk of ass bitten into by a roaming street thug puppy.

I must have been around 11 or 12 years old, in the midst of a dreary Scottish winter (let's be honest, all seasons in Scotland are dreary). We had just been hit with a fair dump of snow, a fairly rare occurrence in my neck of the woods, and we had constructed a fantastic slide on the sidewalk of our street. To make said slide, we had to tramp down the snow, whilst carefully applying cold water to make a long, deathly slippery patch of ice where we could demonstrate our sliding skills. The goal here was not a triple toe loop, or a full twisting sukahara. Oh No!! It was, "THE WEE MAN". The idea was to take a long run up, hit the slide at full speed, then crouch down, arms spread with arse as close to the ground as possible. This was not an easy task for me as i was a spindly, long legged beanpole of a lad, but I am proud to announce that I tore the rear out of more than 1 pair of trousers, such was my proximity to the street on my wee man runs.

A bunch of us were out on the street, honing our skills, when a neighborhood dog, and well known biter, pounced on us like an out of control jungle cat. We scattered in all directions, the flame eyed, slobber-toothed hellhound (or whippet to give it it's proper name), making a beeline for one of my friends. I pounded the pavement, only a short distance to the safety of my house. The bastard pooch, unable to catch my friend, turned to me, and quickly ran me down. He proceeded to sink his teeth into my arm, before turning to my pants, trying to get a grip that would bring me to the ground. I screamed like an overzealous porn star, desperately trying to keep my drawers up so as my pathetic little pee pistol (I was 11 people, there has been some personal growth in that area since then) would not be exposed to the world.

No-one came to help. Not even my sister who was across the street babysitting for friends. She heard the screams, the calls to Mummy, and the pleas to God and baby Jesus for a life saving bolt of lightning, but she chose that moment to find some serious humor in my predicament (tears of joy still spring to her eyes when we recall the event). I finally made it to the front door, and with a Herculean effort I freed the jaws of Anubis from my arm.

That's not where the horror ends I'm afraid. A quick phone call to my working Mum, and then a cab ride to hospital was where the true indignity of the day began. I was examined by a burly nurse who exclaimed that the skin had been broken and a tetanus shot would be required. She spayed a cold, soothing anesthetic on my wound and said she would return with the shot in a moment. The pain quickly receded, and I began to feel somewhat better. Better that is until she returned with a phalanx of assistants, all needed to hoist the massive spear looking needle into the waiting room. My sphincter tightened at the sight, something that must have been clearly visible to the entire health team when my pants were dropped for the injection. As the needle pierced my right buttock, I wondered aloud why my arm had been frozen and not my tender, virgin buttocks. No reason was ever given, but I am sure that shower of bastards probably had a good laugh at my discomfort over their lunch break.

The next week to 10 days was agony, as the simple act of walking or climbing stairs became agony. I had a bruise that resembled the map of the Lost World Of Atlantis on my ass cheek, and 1 week after my attack, another kid was bitten and the dog finally put to sleep. It's a funny thing that when I recall that evening, it's not the howling, growling or teeth gnashing that set my skin crawling, rather it's the witch like cackling of my sister as she witnessed my impending demise that keeps me awake. She is here visiting now, and I am sure I will get to hear that cruel laugh one more time as she reads this, then it's back to blotting out the memory.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Getting Hot In Here

It's that time of year when sun worshipers rejoice, and the needle on the thermometer starts creeping into the 90's. The ATL is currently living up to its Hotlanta nickname, and I am in misery. I do not do well in the sun, especially that sticky, muggy, rancid kind that is usually only found in the Amazon jungle or Charlie Sheen's underpants. The sun's brilliant rays play havoc with my delicate Scottish skin, an organ so fair as to be almost pale blue in hue. Any direct sunlight illuminates my milky flesh to the point where I look like dude from Twilight, minus the floppy hair and brooding good looks of course.

It's bad enough that it's blistering outside, but now my employers have decided that air conditioning is a terrible invention, and we are forced to work in temperatures that would rival the surface of the sun. My clothes end up drenched, I have body parts sticking to other parts that should never ordinarily be in direct contact, and when I sit down, the area under my gloriously thatched chest, and above my ample belly looks like a tropical glade in Narnia....I swear I have heard Liam Neeson's voice coming from my nipple, more than once.

I guess I"ll have to just suck it up, even though doing so means gulping in scorched air that will fry my tonsils, as it's a long Summer here in the South. Gotta look on the bright side though, as this will be terrific practice for the eternity I am doomed to spend in Hell....there could be worse places to end up, Charlie Sheen's underpants for one.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's Kentucky Derby Day

There's nothing like the smell of horse manure and mint juleps to get the hearts of horse racing fans all aflutter. I count myself in that group, but have to confess that the past few years have seen a bit of the shine come off the day. It has nothing to do with the race or the sports itself, rather the lack of company that has brought about the change.

Spring and Summer Friday nights (every second week) were when my Mum and I would head on down to Stampede park in Calgary to catch the live races and lose some of our hard earned money. We would always reserve box seats, chow down on some overpriced food, and throw back the booze as we played. It was our special time, and my Mum would visibly bristle when anyone else in the family tagged along. The only day when "outsiders" were welcomed was Derby Day. It was an all day party event that usually consisted of a large number of family and friends, all having a great time and debating which horse was going to win it all. As i was the resident horse racing expert, I was normally looked upon to provide the winners, a task I greatly enjoyed.

Those great times came to an end when my Mum was diagnosed with cancer, eventually losing her brave battle a decade ago. With each passing year, my interest in the day has dwindled from mild excitement to almost complete apathy. It's just not the same without her, mispronouncing the horse names, the only standard she used for picking her winners. Her crazy logic in picking based on name was always a source of great humor for me, and I can still look at a race card today and KNOW exactly which horse she would choose in any given race....she would have had a bit of decision to make today with Archarcharch (she would probably say arkaharkharton, always adding letters that didn't exist in the original) or Mucho Macho Man. I think the latter would win out given her penchant for horses with the Boy, Lad or Man in the name.

It is an odd little coincidence that the Derby and Mother's day come back to back this weekend, and it is perhaps that which has roused my interest in today's race again. I don't believe in any sort of God, Heaven or Hell, but her's was an energy in life that doesn't just go away in death. I feel her around often, and "talk" to her on a daily basis. Today I feel her STRONGLY, and despite the fact that I have picked Shackleford to win, I will be quietly rooting for Mucho Macho Man, and will most likely have a pretty good sized lump in my throat if he does. It would be a perfect Mothers Day gift for us both, one that would enhance the strength of our bond, one that has never weakened despite the years she has been gone.

I miss you and love you......Happy Mother's Day Mum.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Probing Investigation

Tuesdays have a way of stripping away my will to live, and leaving me bored beyond all comprehension. You'd think that time away from the chores of work would revitalize me, but too much time alone puts me a little too deep inside my own head. What's a man to do when confronted with such tedium, you ask? Simple!! Spend countless hours hitting the stumbleupon button, visiting websites that are usually of no great interest. Occasionally though, I will hit one that gets the old noggin switched back on, and the gears grinding into action.

Yesterday, I came across an article about Travis Walton. His story took place back in the mid 70's when, as a logger working in the woods, he was allegedly beamed on board an alien craft, where he spent several days being scrutinized, before being dropped home, pretty much none the worse for wear.

It got me thinking whether or not I would like to travel into space. As cool as it may be to see our world from above, the idea of being cannonballed into orbit inside a glorified campbell's soup can, doesn't appeal. The last time I was jettisoned that quickly from an elongated object was as a sperm, but the details are a little fuzzy, so I can't really say whether or not I enjoyed the experience.

What if I wasn't given the choice though, but rather, like Walton, was beamed onto the mothership by a visiting race of ET's? Not much better, given their seeming penchant for anal probing, as recounted in almost all abduction cases. I am sexually liberated, but the idea of a sphincter loving, galactic space traveler tickling my dung funnel with a cattle prod is not my idea of jolly time. Perhaps we as a race are missing the point of the whole probing idea. Maybe these super race of aliens long ago realized that the mysteries of the universe have somehow become embedded into the DNA of our colons. In fact, the more I say it out loud, the more barium enema sounds like some distant galaxy beyond the reaches of our inferior craft.

For now, I am quite happy to keep my feet on terra firma, spending time exploring the vast space between my ears.

It's Freebie Time

For one week only, get a hold of my short story collection, "Behind These Eyes Of Sleep", for FREE!! The coupon code is FR82Z, and the book can be downloaded as PDF, HTML, or for any of the popular e-readers (NOOK, Kindle etc).
Click here to get yours

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Potty Mouth

Perhaps it is because I grew up in a time and place where outdoor toilets were commonplace, that I feel no real trepidation or sense of disgust when setting foot inside a public restroom. In recent times though, that comfort has turned south, and the reason is because of a complete lack of decorum from my fellow porcelain patrons. The cell phone has turned human waste disposal into an exercise in stealth, trying to hide the echo of the bathroom walls or the Skylab like splashdown as your McDonalds sausage burrito decides it's time to leave (usually no more than 7-9 minutes after ingesting it). Why people can't talk to their lawyers outside the toilet is a mystery to me.

Having to hold an Iphone in one hand, toilet paper at the ready in the other, means that the courtesy flush has become something of a lost art. More than once I have been forced to hold my breath longer than David Blaine in some ghastly underwater TV special, simply because the foul individual, who just so happened to choose the stall directly beside mine, despite the 15 other empties, couldn't use a free appendage to speed away their last meal which smells like roadkill marinaded in Aqua Velva. I can't even pinch my nose during such moments, because dude who was in there before me obviously has a penis that dispenses urine at the velocity of a firehose given the amount of yellow liquid dripping down the commode, walls and overhead fluorescent lights, meaning I have to precariously balance myself over the toilet in a maneuver that could land me in the next Olympic pommel horse squad.

You really shouldn't be that exhausted after completing a task a simple as emptying your bowels. It's this level of tiredness that makes the act of hand waving for water and a paper towel so frustrating. If you ever walk into a public washroom and see a fellow bent over the sink, crying uncontrollably, that'll be me. I will be weeping for the days of faucets that turned by hand, and a roll of paper that you could simply tug on to get the next piece. I shouldn't have to flail around like a epileptic magician, just to receive some sanitary satisfaction.

And so my distaste has now grown to proportions where I am now trying to program my body to take care of it's messy business during home hours. Sure, there may be an accident or 2 along the way, but what's a couple of pair of soiled knickers for a little peace of mind?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You Are What You Read

It is time to confess, after 43 years on this Earth, that I have something of a book problem. Combine that with the attention span of a hyperactive puppy in a squirrel ranch, and the problem escalates. Purchasing a NOOK has only made it worse, as now I have 2 mediums that cater to my issues. Here is a breakdown, by location, of my current books in progress.

Downstairs :
Under The Dome by Stephen King - waited for my wife to finish before I started
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - borrowed, has to be finished in 14 days
Speaks The Nightbird by Robert McCammon - Enjoying this immensely, so reading deliberately slow

Upstairs :
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - my bedtime book, usually 2-3 pages before heavy lids take over

Car : (yes I am a traffic light reader....this is Atlanta, traffic sucks)
Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz - actually started reading the sequel first, didn't realize, came back to this one
Abarat Book 1 by Clive Barker - always take my time with Barker books

NOOK :
Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh - Love free NOOK book Friday, this looks promising
Horror Shorts by Drew Brown - FREE from Smashwords, a writer with a style similar to my own...check him out.
The Adventures Of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus And His Traveling Circus by Clive Barker - see Barker above
The Scream by John Skipp and Craig Spector - Rock n roll horror, again from Smashwords


So, as you can see, I have a bit of a full dance card, but realize that the borrowed book has to be tackled first. It is not an easy read though, and given my penchant......SQUIRREL.......for distractions, it's not going to be easy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Wizard Of ATL

I should have recognized the signs; the multiple storm warnings, coupled with the free pair of bright red house slippers I received in my Avon gift basket. I am Dorothy and my little border collie, Suzy, will be, from this point forward, known as Toto. Yes folks, the Atlanta weather is once more refusing to behave and we are on the brink of being hit by, not one, but three storms in the coming hours. There are tornado warnings popping up left, right , and center, and the clouds are currently blacker than a silverbacks bollocks.

To get a real idea of the extent of this storm though, you only have to switch to any of the local TV channels here in the Metro Atlanta area. All of them have their entire meteorological staff in the studio, taking shifts mind you, and all the weathermen have their suit jackets off, ties loosened, and sleeves rolled up. It's almost as if they want us to believe that they hefted their sophisticated Doppler radar gear up several flights of stairs, and onto the roof of the station all on their own. They certainly do a magnificent job of making a simple weather system sound like the end of days.

Perhaps they are right though, and by mornings bright light, I may find myself safely tucked up in bed, albeit in the Wal-Mart parking lot, half a mile up the road. I've lived through enough of these storms to realize that most of the TV sensationalism is just that, and I will sleep just fine, that is until the tornado sirens go off, then I'll be tapping those red slippers together, yelling, "there's no place like an interior, unwindowed room in the the lowest level of my home.....there's no place like an interior, unwindowed room in the the lowest level of my home.....there's no place like an interior, unwindowed room in the the lowest level of my home.....there's no place like an interior, unwindowed room in the the lowest level of my home....."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Confessions Of A Dope Fiend

It has been several days since my last post, and in that time I have emerged from the rocky seas of anxiety and depression, stepping onto a calm, dry land named Lexapro. It is certainly a comfort to myself and my family that I am now back among the land of the fully functioning, but it came at a bit of a self imposed cost. In my haste to be rid of my mental scourge, I popped my first little white pill on Tuesday, my 2nd on Wednesday, unleashing a slew of sweats, stomach upsets, and general twitchy madness. I had forgotten that the pills were supposed to be cut in half and consumed as such for the first week, in essence a weaning on period. I was double dosing and going a little spastic, but in a very calm, out of body type manner.......normality has now been reached and I feel good.

The downside comes on a creative level. I have always written my best stuff when I am at my worst, but it seems I may have found a way around this little problem. Let me first explain how I set about writing fiction. I usually see or hear something, often in dreams, that plants a little seed in my head. From there I start having internal conversations with the main players in the story, their characteristics fleshed out during those interactions. From there, the details start to fill in, everything from plot to settings and all points in between. When it is done in my head, I start typing and it all comes out in a sort of stream of consciousness type blurb. That tends to diminish when I am medicated, making it difficult for me to build in my head. So, this week I made a flow chart, a goddam flow chart coming from the most unorganized man on the planet, setting up my next piece.....it worked, and the juices started flowing. I actually scribbled a piece of dialogue on the back of my Taco Mac beer list last night (my wife has grown accustomed to such scribblings and stores them all away for posterity).

The story is a messed up Little Red Riding Hood tale, and here is what I scribbled, spoken by the Woodsman...

"Certainly, my axe could cleave a limb from your body with just a single, well aimed swipe, but it is far too cumbersome a tool to flay the flesh from the dead. No, that is the work of teeth. Savage instruments honed to razor pure on the bones of the frail and infirm."

It is my plan to try and get the whole thing out tomorrow, stay tuned.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dark Red Book Cover

Despite the horrendous showing of my first 2 efforts on Smashwords.com, I am plowing ahead and writing another short to stick up there. To date, The Tweener has garnered 19 downloads (it's free, so that may account for the gaudy number...LOL). Behind These Eyes Of Sleep has achieved 1 sale and 5 sample downloads. Basically, what that means is that 4 people read the sample and deemed the rest of the work unworthy.....not a great turnover rate.

Anyways, my next little blurb will be a rather nasty, psychological take on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. I can't imagine that any little girl that was privy to a wolf attack on a loved one would turn out completely well adjusted in adulthood....I am promising blood and mental torment as selling points (even though it will be free) on this one. Here is the working cover, with some work to be done on the text.....I was fairly adept at Photoshop, but can't find my disk, so am stuck using Paint for now, and struggling with layers at the moment....here you go

Failure IS An Option

Art, in all its numerous forms, is the personification of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. The sad fact is that even the most successful of artists will still find that more people than not don't care for their work. With that said, it's easy to understand why so many fail to achieve their goals and dreams, giving up before their careers really get going. It can be argued that perseverance is the key to success, honing your craft while ignoring the naysayers. There is proof that such a path actually works, and a great example of such can be found here http://ladaisi.blogspot.com/2011/04/meagan-of-illustrators-wife.html.

My "writing career" hasn't suffered many setbacks, if only for the fact that I have seldom submitted anything I write for possible publication. I am currently 1 for 2, having received a horribly disheartening rejection letter years ago, when, admittedly upon reflection, the piece I submitted deserved the shellacking it received. My second attempt came over a decade later and, much to my surprise, I had a short story accepted for publication in an obscure, now defunct, Canadian magazine. Shortly after that, I had another piece published in an anthology of pieces by undiscovered writers, but I refuse to count that as the book was put together by writers I knew from a writers group I was part of....rejection there wasn't really on the cards.

For me, the plan is to continue writing and not linger too long on failure or success. When I read back through the years I can plainly hear how my voice has changed for the better, developing a timbre and maturity sadly lacking in my early attempts. Perhaps by the time I hit my golden years, I will be ready to unleash my superior writing skills upon an eager audience. Until then, I'll just keep on keeping on.

Here is another great look at how a fellow writer finds the time to hit the keys, on top of managing their family time http://pavarti.com/2011/04/overwhelmed-8-ways-to-handle-chaos.html

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Dark Man

I'm coming at this post with more than a little trepidation. It's not easy to talk about your own problems or ailments, especially when it's something that is not entirely visible or obvious to everyone, except those closest to you. Before you all start thinking I have some nasty STD, I should probably explain that I suffer from depression and anxiety. Medicated with Lexapro, all is well, but when I decide I am fine and no longer in need of a prescribed pick-me-up, the dark man arrives.

The dark man is the unpleasant fellow that lives inside my head, and makes an appearance roughly 2-3 months after I come off the meds. He turns me into a short-tempered, agitated, nervous wreck that has a difficult time getting his feet out of bed and onto the floor in the morning. This past little stretch of 6-7 months is the longest I have been medicine free (other than the years before being diagnosed of course), and also marks the best I have felt in recent memory. In the past couple of weeks though I have felt the crash coming, and yesterday, it did......HARD!!

There are a few good people at work who know about all this, and they were able to help me get through the day without having a complete emotional crash. It's an odd feeling to be opening boxes of shoes or cosmetics (I work for Avon), and fighting back the urge to burst into tears and head for the hills. I am getting back on the Lexapro next week, and normal service will re returned then. As much as I despise that vanilla, neither up nor down feeling, I owe it to those who care about me to get back to that point.

I have gotten to know a lot of writers over the past decade or so, and am constantly surprised by how many suffer from the same bouts of depression as I do, as well as a host of social and mental disorders. It makes me wonder if that is somehow the key to creativity, if being a little off somehow fuels the creative process. I know that some of my best writing comes when down, and the lack of ideas comes when mellowed out on medicine. It's a delicate balance, but my family life is more important than any story or world I can create in my mind, no matter how compelling.

Thank you Penny, I love you!!

The Mafia Gets Whacked

I am normally the type of person who is quick to embrace new technology and web innovations, but, I must confess, I was one of the last one's on board when the social networking boom hit. I am not that social in real life, so the prospect of having all of my "friends" know what I am eating for breakfast, or how "epic" my trip to the mall was, seemed somehow distasteful.

What changed everything for me, was the ability to keep up with the obscure bands I follow, simply by liking them on Facebook. As cool as that was, there had to be a way to kill the time between each of their posts. The answer was games. Before I knew it I was a city building, Mafia henchman with a penchant for farming. I became somewhat hooked on these trivial little games that involved very little but time and the occasional begging for a plank of wood to build my mansion. Time though became the reason I grew tired, as the need to build a Mafia, plant strawberries etc, took me away from writing and eating regularly.

It would appear that I am not alone in my flight from these types of games as Zynga, the maker of FB's most popular pastimes, has experienced a dramatic drop in player numbers in the past year. There are a number of theories as to why this is happening, but it poses a problem for FB as it relies heavily on these types of apps for its income.

I understand my reasons for giving up on them all, but for a clearer look at the numbers, as well as a poll that invites users to vote on their annoyances, you should all read this great article at The Facebook And Zynga Blog by clicking http://fbzyngablog.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/the-players-have-spoken-the-numbers-dont-lie-plus-a-mafia-wars-poll/

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

News And Reviews

Those of you who are regular visitors to these pages may have noticed a subtle style shift in my last couple of posts. Let me explain. I love the whole blogging idea, but the hardest part is finding something to write about on a daily or semi-daily basis. It may be simple enough if you have a niche blog, but for someone like me, an ordinary lad that likes to waffle on about nothing in particular, it can become frustrating.

I may just have found my lifeline at a website called seededbuzz. The gist of the site is that bloggers set up a discussion based on one of their posts (planting a seed), and other bloggers write their take on the discussion (buzz) on their own site, referencing your blurb in their post, in other words, making your post go viral. It looks like a winner to me, and you guys can help by clicking the links to the other blogs within my posts...thanks.

That's the news part, now for the review. I have received the first feedback on my latest book, "Behind Theses Eyes Of Sleep", and it's a doozie. Here is what it says.....

"Be Prepared to be Scared!

That's what you might think after reading John Watson's 29 tales of horror, terror, and things that do not necessarily go bump in the night. Watson taps into a vein of fear and horror which might have you sleeping with the lights on for a while. If the Bogeyman were a writer, the stories in this collection just might very well be the kind of ones he would write.


Bravo Mr. Watson for giving me a good scare and a good read."


The best part, for me at least, is that it comes from a writer, Jeffrey Miller, whom I very much respect. I actually just finished his childhood memoir, "Invaders From Mars", and it was fantastic. Thank you Jeffrey fro the very kind words.

Reading And Writing

I have been told, on more than one occasion, that in order to write well, you must read a lot.I can see why people would feel that way, especially if you stick to the genre that you write in. The main problem, for me at least, with that whole idea is that it becomes easy to be influenced in a negative way by the writer's you enjoy. Seeing what works for them may very well lead you down the path of trying to hard to emulate that style, all the while losing your own distinct writing voice.

I have read thousands of books over the years, but don't feel it has made me any better as a writer. If that were the case, I would be a major success by now, or at the very least someone who is widely published. For me, writing often is the best way to sharpen my skills. I do that by blogging regularly, scribbling down small ideas with an eye to expanding later, and just basically trying to write a little every day.

Reading will always be a major part of my life, and now that I have my NOOK, it will also be easier to jump between books (something I have always done), but I will always try to not let those other, far more successful authors, change who I am as a writer.

This may not work for everyone, and some will claim that taking the time to read will help them be better in the long run. This point is very well made in a recent blog post by Amy Romine, who is trying to balance the time spent between writing and reading authors that inspire here. I encourage those of you who are looking for that same thing to read her article by clicking here http://www.amyromine.com/archives/2603

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Taste For Blood

I just read an interesting article over at Stefanie Soehnchen's blog about a German man who goes under the name, Anubis, and claims to be a real vampire. By all accounts, this fellow lives his life as a bloodsucker and drinks the crimson liquid at several blood clubs that are dotted around the country. Of course, there is no biting or actual sucking involved, but the "vampires" can choose their drinks from willing donors, and sup it up while it is still warm.

Listen, I am obsessed with the supernatural, as well as counter-culture types, but this just seems to me to be a bunch of emo, goth, Eurotrash types trying to be somehow cool and trendy. Let's face it, with the current book and movie trend slanting towards the glorification of these ancient, fanged creatures of the night, it does seem like a decent way to become a bit of a hit with the ladies.

These types of trends are cyclical though, always have been, and soon enough zombies, or some other horror icon will become de rigeur, meaning the nightcrawler types will have to lose the capes and filed down teeth, and start peeling off skin and popping in milky white contact lenses. Me, I'll stick to having horror images featuring all the old faves tattooed on my arms. Anyways, I much prefer a nice warm pint of Guinness over a hot copper bodyshot.

That's just my 2 cents, if you want another opinion, take a peek at Amy Romine's feelings about vampires.