Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodbye Old Man, Hello Baby!

I thought that I would refer to my post from a few days ago regarding art and my total lack of skill or even having a thimble-full of knowledge of anything resembling art. Years ago Bob Ross's program The Joy of Painting was very popular on the PBS stations (who knows, perhaps he still
lives on in syndication). I have, however, painted my share of door and window trims with a brush about the size of what he holds in his hand...my meagre contribution to the arts. And to answer your question. No. I have never had a 'fro' like Mr. Ross. Back in the day, I did have hair down past my shoulders but never permish.

The year is winding up and it seems somewhat appropriate to finish the year with my 100th post (not that I pay attention to milestones...) I have little to report regarding my writing progress for the year. This has been a time of learning about online networking and the places for one to go to peddle their stories. I started this blog in May of this year and have connected with many fantastic and knowledgeable writers with big hearts. I had some early success with a couple of short stories at 'those sites' that publish pretty much everything that appears in their in boxes.

My goal for 2010 is to focus more on a regular schedule of writing in order to crank out more stories (which, of course, will in the long run make me a better writer). I was pleased to have a flash story accepted at 52 Stitches as part of their 2010 line up. This was my first acceptance at a publication that actually pays its writers. This year I shall try to send out more stories to similar paying markets, some of which turned me down this year.

I shall keep practicing and continue to drink in knowledge of 'the craft'. I wish all of you success in your continuing endeavours for the upcoming year and look forward to reading your stories.

Thanks for all you kind words and support this year. I send a toast in your general direction!

Cheers, Alan

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas (to absent friends and family)


I thought that I would sneak out one more post before Christmas. We've got a lot of vacuuming, cleaning, etc. to do today. Having visitors is, of course, a good motivator to get one to clean one's living space (nod, if you agree).

We are pretty sure that all gifts are accounted for (except for the ones that Santa brings...). They are even wrapped this year. The Christmas eve tradition in our house has usually been to take turns in a secluded room to wrap your presents. That was not fun, but a single malt usually made the task bearable. My wife is ahead of the game this year with everything wrapped on behalf of everyone. This was to allow us to spend time with my parents who are driving to town this afternoon.

Danielle Ferries had a great pre-Christmas post at her blog From the Attic where she posted a festive photo of herself as a little girl. I think we should start that as a small, online tradition. I present to you at the left a photo of me and my mother exactly 40 years ago (now I feel really old) when we lived in Sidney, B.C. That's the best that I can come up with as mum would have all the good stuff in her album (me naked in the tub, etc.)

I wish you all a great holiday in whatever format you are celebrating. So...have a Merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a memorable Eid, a jolly Kwanzaa, or perhaps just an eggnog or glass of wine while watching the snow gently fall on the lawn (for those in the northern hemisphere). Cheers! ~Alan

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Chuckle

I have been frequenting the blog Some Days it's Not Worth Chewing Through the Leather Straps for a few weeks. Skylersdad really has a keen way of poking fun at as all in all our strange and quirky glory.

Today he had a link to a YouTube video. It's the current Christmas offering from Jib Jab. Perhaps you've seen it, perhaps you haven't.

The short video reminds me of the story currently to be found at 52 Stitches called The Bump in the Night, by Bill West. I may never look at Santa quite the same again.

You can find the YouTube video here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In The Eye of the Beholder

Yet again, this post may be sub-titled "aimless rambling of that guy on the east coast" or "Al should stay away from the hard stuff".

About a month ago there was a national news story here about an oil painting--correction, an oil sketch--that sold in auction for about $3.5 million Canadian. You can link to the full CBC story here or you can go to the auction house information about the paintings for sale here. The sketch in question was called "The Old Stump, Lake Superior" by Group of Seven Artist Lawren Harris (shown above). They were a group of Canadian landscape artists, primarily from the 1920's, heavily influenced by European Impressionism that held a strong desire to depict nature in their own unique way.

I will be up front about my total lack of background in art. If my knowledge could be measured, it would half-fill a shot glass and I would spill the contents down the front of myself trying to drink it. One only has to look at the stick-men drawings my son does by way of art at school to know what side of the family his abilities came from. I was trained as a draftsman in school, back in the days when pencils, rulers and drafting boards were used. I find comfort in the linear and orderly words and lines on the page. I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the foreign world of technology and AutoCad. Art is even more abstract and foreign to me.

The story caught my eye because of Lawren Harris. Many years ago, while living in London, Ontario, I spent a weekend in Toronto and took a side trip north to the village of Kleinburg. There you will find the McMichael Canadian Art Collection that displays contemporary art, First Nations Art, Inuit Art and most of the works of the Group of Seven. If you find yourself about the Toronto area, I recommend a side trip to the McMichael.

Anyhow...at the McMichael I saw Mt. Lefroy, by Lawren Harris and was mesmerized by it (shown right). My lack of art education shows when I can't even explain why I liked it so much...I just 'did'. I suppose that if I had a few million of disposable income lying about I may be inclined to buy that piece of art, or something similar by Harris.

I recall a story a few years back about the federal government buying a painting from a Canadian artist for a large sum of money. That's fine, I suppose, except that it was three vertical stripes. I wish that I could remember the name of the artist or painting and I would attach it here. The three stripes thing just doesn't inspire me the way that mountain does. Then again, I guess that it's up to a person's individual tastes.

I know that a couple of you that read my blog have some art training and are much better qualified to discuss a topic like this. What do all of you consider art? Have you a favourite?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Madness

It's now been two weeks since completing the NaNo for this year and I'm yet to revisit the story. I simply stopped after achieving my goal, even though it requires at least another 15-20K to finish.

I believe that I'm using the holiday madness season as an excuse not to get back to it again. We got the last batch of cards out today; the ones to points in North America. The cards to my family in Britain, Australia and New Zealand went out a week ago.

We also got the holiday Christmas tree up yesterday. Up, but yet to be decorated. It's one of those tall ones from Costco with about 1000 small lights wound within its branches. That would be different than the 'Thousand points of light' once mentioned by you-know-who (personally, I liked it better when Dana Carvey said it...).

Yeah, back to the writing thing...I've had a couple of short story ideas over the past couple of weeks and jotted down a few notes to gather dust in the idea file. As of the 24th, I'll be off for 11 days so I hope, between stuffing my face with turkey and chocolate, to get some writing done.

I'll leave off with a picture of the boy and the dog. Jet looks smart in his Christmas attire (I will note here that it was not my idea) although somewhat demonic with his glowing eyes. And Sean is almost cracking a smile. It's the photo that was attached to Ginny's annual Christmas letter. Again, this is just the photo, I wouldn't want to bore you all with the family schtuff.

Friday, December 11, 2009

On Writing and Korean Movies

I kind of figured that if nothing else, the title would catch Natalie's attention...

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a week since I last posted a blog. I guess that it's a combination of the push to stay on track with work and a certain amount of apathy towards writing since the NaNo ended 11 days ago. I have spent evenings either moving snow or watching episodes of Criminal Minds or CSI that were taped for me the past month.

I have also been reading Stephen King's 'On Writing' that was strongly recommended by some of you. I must say that I haven't been disappointed. He speaks with such honesty and candor that you can't help but think that it's directed right at you. His analogy of a writer honing their skills and keeping them handy as a carpenter keeps and maintains his toolbox in working order is bang on.

I really enjoy how he bluntly gets his point across with humour and a certain homey vulgarity. For example, this passage both made an important point and made me laugh...

Make yourself a solemn promise right now that you'll never use "emolument" when you mean "tip" and you'll never say John stopped long enough to perform an act of excretion when you mean John stopped long enough to take a shit.

I was flipping through the channels earlier this evening when I caught a bit of a couple of Canadian film reviewers talking about a movie that was released a couple of years ago. The movie is called 'The Host' (aka Gwoemul) and is a horror feature from South Korea. I looked it up at IMDB and at Rotten Tomatoes, where it had an impressive 92% approval rate. Sadly, it didn't get much play in North America and had only 2 million at the box office.
It's apparently a great mix of horror, drama and comedy and set records as South Korea's all-time box office leader. It is about a mutant creature living in the Han River that was apparently created by an intentional formaldehyde spill. The creature begins hunting humans along the banks of the river and abducts a young girl. The full plot can be found at the Wikipedia article here. I know that I'll be looking for this one at the video store soon.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Height of Laziness

Whatever happened to the idea of people doing a bit of walking? I remember an ad campaign when I was a kid promoting walking and we should all 'walk a block' each day.

The thing that drives me absolutely crazy are the people who park at the curb in front of the supermarket so that they don't have to walk that extra 50 feet or so to their vehicles. They sort of ignore the 'No Parking' signs and the marked yellow crosswalk so that people pushing their carts out of the store have to run a gauntlet of vehicles. The parking issue becomes even more challenging with a couple inches of snow on the ground as even more cars are parked in the way and the carts are harder to push through the slush. This is not unique to the grocery store. The same can be found at the liquor store (next door to the grocery), in front of the banks and other locations about town.

I was picking up my son this afternoon in Bay Roberts, a small community about an hour drive from here and about 45 minutes from my parents, where he had been for a couple of days during a school break. The Tim Horton's donut shop (got them in your area yet? A chain started by, of course, a long deceased hockey player) has a drive through and the line was over 20 cars long. Using my advanced math skills, at a good pace they will serve one in 45 seconds therefore the last guy will take at least 15 minutes to get to the front. There was parking in front of the building, wouldn't it be faster to park, walk in, get your coffee and dognut and leave? The laziness that people demonstrate never ceases to amaze me and I bet that it's a global phenomenon (at least to the fat and lazy western world).

I'm not the most athletic guy, but I do appreciate the cardio benefits of a bit of walking. We have a 4 level split house, so the regular hiking of stairs helps a bit (until I fall one day and break a hip bone).
My sister sent me another video that shows how Stockholm is doing their bit to encourage people to get a bit of exercise by ignoring the escalator and using the stairs. I think that this is a great commercial, you have to look past the VW advertising, and demonstrates that a bit of imagination can make exercising fun and perhaps we can all get just a tiny bit healthier...my rant is now over. Get yourself a big old Boston Cream, or Danish, or whatever and watch the attached clip.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Morality Tale

My boss emailed this to me today. Not sure if there was an underlying message I was to get from it, but I thought that I would pass it on to you. Apologies if this has already made the Internet rounds and missed it, or am just living in a bubble...

MORAL LESSON FOR TODAY

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to every one's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

*****

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.

Live simply and appreciate what you have.

Give more.

Expect less.

NOW ....... Enough of that crap.

The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him.
The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

MORAL FROM TODAY'S LESSON:

When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Limping Across the Line

The month of November seems to have come and gone in a flash. Well...that NaNo business was a real treat (in a masochistic sort of way). I'm now going to have to retrain myself in being more concise.

That was a real learning experience for me. It is nice to know that when my back is against a wall (yes, that was a cliche) I can produce a novel length bit of fluffage. And I think my WPM count at typing improved.

I limped across the finish line, yesterday, with about 5 hours to spare. I'm pleased that it's done, but not really pleased with the story. While outlining the story in October, I had a page written up with a list of messages I wanted to convey. Very little of that was accomplished. I've decided that I had too many characters. Some where fleshed out very well, others I only scraped the surface of. I do realize that all of that can be added/altered during edits 1 thru 13...

The story is still in progress and probably needs another 10k words to bring it to an end. I want a break for a few days, but I fear if I delay too long I may never return to the seedy underbelly of Metropolis.

Many thanks to those of you who dropped by my blog during the month and endured my endless whining. I would have packed in the project the first week of November had it not been for those cool inspirational pep talks the NaNo people email to the participants. But, more importantly, the advice, the kind words and the frantic shaking of the pom poms by my Internet writing friends was the real reason I completed NaNo. Congratulations, also, to those of you who completed your novels and to those of you who didn't, but bust a gut trying (oops, my cliche is showing again).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Light at the End of...


I won't bore you with any more of my NaNo whining.

The current numbers are 42,800 words with 2 days left. That leaves 3600 words for each of those days. My best day this month was 3260 words so the gauntlet has been thrown down.

Someone whose blog I read (see Townie Bastard on side panel. He lives in, and blogs from, Iqaluit int he Canadian territory of Nunavut) had a trailer for a new TV show being put out by the CBC in the new year. It's called 'Republic of Doyle' and is set here in St. John's, so if you're curious about the place check out the attached link to the YouTube trailer.

It's about a private investigator and all the shady dealings of his life and family. He seems to get beat up a lot, very reminiscent of the Rockford Files. Townie Bastard noted that it was amusing the amount of gunfire in the trailer. We don't get much of that here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving...the Sequel

It's Thanksgiving Day for my American friends to the south and west of me. I'd like to send out a big 'Happy Thanksgiving' to you all. I hope that you dig into your turkey, or ham, or roast, or tofu substance with relish (and a bit of mustard, too). I hope that you have a great long week end and for my fellow NaNo-ites, I hope that the writing doesn't take you away from family for too long...or the other way around--Note that Canada celebrated Thanksgiving on the more 'NaNo friendly' October 12.

I am at 38,375 words (83 pages, single spaced) and am preparing for the big push to the finish over the week end.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Update

I'm sitting at 34,725 words at the moment and figure that I'll need about 2200 words a day until the end to get this done. I'm happy that I have booked Friday and Monday off work. Unfortunately Friday is earmarked (cool word) for Ginny and I to do our annual Christmas shopping spree. Hear that...it's the sound of me cheering with happiness. Luckily it's not the Thanksgiving weekend here, as it is for my US friends. Don't get me wrong. The Thanksgiving notion is excellent, it's just inconveniently placed in November for the Americans.

Newfoundland novelist Tina Chaulk (listed with other local authors on my sidebar) posted a video by Kristina Horner. A cute look at the NaNoWriMo dilemma. Or was it a conundrum...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhs-yodZJcw

I typed some real shite at 6:30 this morning in an effort to pad the word count. I shall attach an excerpt from that for your reading *cough* enjoyment. Please don't think any less of me...

Anatoly was even more dejected than the previous night. He left the radio station, having barely spoken to Big Ben Murphy. He caught the number 17 bus downtown, to work another four hour shift at the diner.

His shift went well, as the harbour seemed quiet tonight and there weren’t many sailors or longshoremen dropping in for their gourmet offerings. They had enough time for Donovan to show him how to make ‘Toad in the Hole’. They fried up some sausages and wrapped them in bacon strips and then poured on the mixture of flour, milk and eggs. They baked this in the oven and could cut it up into eight portions. They reworked some of the thick, brown gravy made earlier in the day for hot turkey sandwiches by scraping off the hardened skin and adding chopped onions to the mix.

Donovan noted that they used to eat this back in England. Except that it came in a Yorkshire Pudding format where the sausage stuck out of the muffin like a greasy, brown phallus. Miller wanted these added to the breakfast menu to try to bring in some new customers.

Donovan also showed Anatoly something his mother used to make for him when he was a boy. He called it the ‘Golden Eye’ and it was very simply a slice of bread fried in oil with an egg in a pan. All he had to do was cut a hole in the centre of the bread and drop the egg into it space and let them fry up together, flipping it once to cook the other side. He would have to make this for David at breakfast time one day.

They sat down at a booth and ate their creations, getting up occasionally to collect money at the cash register or to pour more coffee for customers.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fluff and Nonsense

The word count for the the NaNo story is now at 29,300 but the going is slow. I am not meeting my week day quotas as I am beyond anything I outlined before the month started. So progress is slow.

We're off to visit my parents late this afternoon to take them out to dinner and then to a Senior Men's hockey game in the nearby town of Harbour Grace (the home of Dan Cleary of the Detroit Red Wings, for anyone hockey inclined). It's their birthday today so nothing says Happy Birthday in Canada more than dinner out and hockey. Yes, you read that correctly...both of them celebrate their birthday today. Dad is 68 and mum is 65. True pensioners now, the pair of them.

The next chance I'll have to type up anything into Word will be tomorrow night. So I'll have to rely on the old fashioned pen-to-paper for any progress for a while. I don't quite know, at the current rate of progress, how I'm going to squeeze out 20K words in just 8 days...yikes, let the crap flow (which is sort of a local joke regarding the state of the harbour at times). There's not enough character description going on, not enough conflict, almost no symbolism and generally not enough exposition. So I should be serving up a lot of fluff and nonsense for the next few days...thanks all, for the continued kind words of support (and yet you still return to endure my whining!)

As I look back on the post I notice that I have uses a lot of brackets. Apologies for that (it's kind of how my brain has been working the past 21 days)...and a lot of those dot thingies as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Monkey See...

Yep, another NaNo update...blah, blah blah.

I have passed the 25K hump *high fives all around* and begin the downhill slope to the end. I haven't a clue how it's supposed to end. Or how to get there.

I have enlisted the help of my three friends, below, because the say if you put enough monkeys in a room with keyboards, one will produce a Shakespeare work (and I mention the bard in my NaNo story). I think the smart money should be bet on monkey #1, he's showing a good dramatic element and he's following the NaNo mantra about never using the backspace key. Well done, Bubbles!
The whole monkey thing has got me thinking about a humorous email that was going about work regarding why certain policies were in place that nobody knew why those policies were in place...I'll attach it below...you'll get the idea. And if you were the author of that fine logic, take a bow. Or have a banana (and hurry up and finish my NaNo story for me!)


Why Can’t We Change Our Process?A Unique Look at ‘Why Things are Done the Way they Are’
Start with a cage containing five monkeys... Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.
After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Midlands

I am approaching the half way mark on the NaNo word count for Metropolis. It's amazing how much "shtuff" pops into your head, and out of your fingers while working on it. My outline accounts for only a small proportion of the word count, which I'm glad about, as I've still got some notes to use to help in the second half. I still worry that I'm going to hit a brick wall where I won't know where to go with the story line or how to eventually end it.

To cheer myself up over the weekend I broke out the plastic to order a couple of books from our Amazon friends. The books were only about $18, but the shipping was an additional $12 something. That sucked, but I'm sort of used to it now due to the fact we live on an island. I recall that when we ordered a couple of love seats shortly after moving into the house, we had to wait over 2 months for manufacturing and shipping. I could understand that if they were like hand crafted by the Amish, or the fabric had golden strands woven into it...

...sorry, back to the books. I have been wanting a copy of Stephen King's "On Writing" for some time, after it was highly recommended by all of you kind folk. My second pick was anthology of fine horror stories by the fine authors of 52 Stitches. I am looking forward to the arrival of volume one any time now.

My current word count is 23,400. That is 51 pages, single spaced (I opted for the single space as it would speed up the scrolling back that I knew that I would have to do to refer to facts that I were already 'out there'. God forbid I should contradict myself.
video
My sister emailed me a video (which is kind of odd considering that she's living with us at the moment) that I found hilarious. It's for a product called Kiwi Bacon...and I apologise (I am Canadian, after all) to any vegetarians or New Zealanders I may have offended.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cracking the Other Whip

I was going to call this post "Cracking the Whip" but noticed that I had used "Cracking the WIP" before. I hate being repetitive.

Perhaps I should be wearing my reading glasses. The object at Indie's feet looks like a brown paper lunch back as opposed to a golden idol. I must be something mighty tasty for him to be protecting it with a whip and revolver.

My posting and commenting at the blogs of others has declined since NaNo started. My work is absorbing my day time. My spare time seems to go towards tapping out a few words here and there. I don't like that kind of writing: where I'm just typing out all of the wordy, repetitive shite that pops randomly into my head. I am constantly wanting to go back and correct what I have written, knowing full well that it all helps towards the final word count...even those sentences seem long and convoluted. Crap! I can't get it out of my system.

As of this present moment now, my word count is 16550. The half way mark is end of day Sunday, so I'll need some divine inspiration to spew out 8500 words this weekend. My thanks, especially, go out to Cate and Aaron for their daily inspirational posts to the muddy NaNo-ites hidden deep in the trenches.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stuff and Stuff

The NaNo thing is going to start to get challenging. The basic premise of the story revolves around a scavenger hunt. I have done the 'set up' stuff to get me to the hunting part. Now I have to figure out what it is people are looking for. I have a number of scenes that I would like to incorporate into the story but have to figure out how to get from A to B to C, etc.

The word count, as of now, is 13660. I'd like to get another 5oo done before going to bed. It's after 10pm here, so bed will be soon as I'll be getting up at 5:45am to start it again. I'm really impressed at some of my 'buddies' word counts...they set a challenging pace. I bet that Danielle Ferries, in particular, will have this thing rapped up with a bow by the 25th of the month!

In other news...I'm please to announce that my flash story "Thor's Hammer" has been accepted at 52 Stitches as part of this year's line up. It's I thrill to be presented with talented writers such as: Catherine Gardner, Mercedes M. Yardley, Brenton Tomlinson and Laura Eno. If you haven't done so before, drop in to 52 Stitches for a tasty, dark story each Sunday. With Aaron Polson carefully applying the stitches, you know you won't be dissappointed...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kelley Armstrong Q & A

I present to you, this morning, the questions you sent me and the responses from New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong. She is the author of the Nadia Stafford mystery series and the Otherworld series of novels. Frostbitten, the 10th book of the Otherworld series is available now. Her YA urban fantasy novel The Reckoning, third in the Darkest Powers Trilogy, will be available May 2010. For a little more background on Kelley, and my request for questions last month, you can link to my previous post here.



The cover illustrations of your books, especially the latest, Frostbitten, are beautiful. I'd like to know if you have any input into their design or are given a choice of covers. Or is it out of your hands?

I don't choose the art. In fact, with most of the covers, I don't see them until they're done. This is common with the "big" publishers. It's only with small publishers (or really big names) that the author gets a significant say in the cover art. It's a marketing decision, and I leave it to the pros.


Was there any commercial reason to start writing conventional crime fiction, as opposed to your established modern fantasy books? Did you pull your existing fans along to the new series or have you had to establish a new fan base?

I started Exit Strategy after my third Otherworld book was written and there was some concern because the first two hadn't sold as well as the publisher hoped. I was about halfway done the book when I sold Dime Store Magic and everything took off. A few years ago, my agent asked if I wanted to finish Exit Strategy, and I did. I read a lot of crime thrillers, so it would be my second choice of genre to write in and makes a nice change of pace.


I would like to know how easy it was for you to find a publisher for your werewolf series. Were you already published when you wrote them?

In my twenties I started working on novels, and would sporadically send out query letters and sample chapters, but never got anything more than a form letter rejection. So I gave up and concentrated on improving.

When I finished Bitten, I had an instructor look at it, to see how well I was progressing. He offered to recommend an agent, and things happened very quickly from there. Within a couple of months I went from being unpublished to having multiple book contracts. So it was a long empty road, with a very quick stop at the end!


What techniques do you use as an adult to capture the teen mind when writing YA fiction such as the Darkest Power Trilogy?

I don't simplify the story lines or the characterizations at all. I think that's important. Teens understand and enjoy complex characters, dark themes, etc. I do tweak the language, not for the audience, but to suit the younger narrators. In my first trilogy, there's no sexual content. Again, though, that's a reflection of the main character, who hasn't even dated yet, so it's not an issue. In short, then, to write for young adults, I just use a young adult main character and make sure she really is a teen--in her language, in her way of thinking, in the issues that concern her and the tools she has at her disposal.

The biggest challenge was that I'm a whole lot older than my main character. As a teen, I hated it when adults tried to write in a teen voice and it was painfully obvious that they were on the wrong side of thirty. Having a daughter in the right age group made that easier--I had a living subject to study and a built-in focus group.


When you were doing your degrees, were you writing? What did you put in place to give you the time to write?

Growing up, I never thought 'writer' was a valid career choice, probably because my parents didn't. They fully supported it as a hobby, but didn't think it was something you should plan to make a living at. So I went to university for psychology. As I was preparing for graduate school, though, I realized I was heading into a career that would leave me no time to pursue a dream of publication. So I switched gears and went into computer programming, which gave me a 9-to-5 job that paid the bills while I took writing courses, joined writing groups, and worked at improving my craft. I sold my first novel in 1999 (it came out in 2001) and started full-time writing in 2002.


Everyone talks about needing to have a web presence as an emerging writer. It seems to me that the most successful writers worked on their writing, got the book deal, and then worried about a web presence. What do you think?

For promotion, I'd urge them to find what they enjoy and do that, rather than taking everyone's advice on "what works" and spending a lot of money. Other than having a decent website (which is always worth the cost) nothing has been proven to absolutely increase your sales. So you do what you enjoy. Most of all, though, you work on the next novel. That's what will advance your career far more than any promotional efforts.


I would like to thank Kelley for taking time away from her busy schedule to provide in-depth answer to some really insightful questions. For more information about Kelley Armstrong, or her novels, please visit her website here. If you're interested in reading a PDF version of her Fall, 2009 newsletter available on her website, you can click here.



Friday, November 6, 2009

NaNo Week and Reminder

Week 1 of NaNo is nearing an end. Word count is about 6900, after this morning's flurry of activity. I'm still about 1200 words behind based on my self-imposed formula of 900 words on week days (21 in Nov.) and 3500 on weekend days (9 in Nov.) Basically, to stay on schedule with this venture I need to be at 15,000 words by Sunday night. Yikes!

I will make a valiant effort to get caught up by Sunday night. I find that 5:45am rising is taking it's toll. And I'm a bit groggy later in the afternoon. At least a bit more than what's normal for me. I'm nearing the end of the leftover 5lb bag of Rockets from halloween (we won't discuss the chips and tiny chocolate bars). When the sugar rush wears off on Sunday and I crash for a bit, I hope the stuff will be out of my system for good. I'll start going to bed earlier next week to end the groggies.

A reminder to every one that I am going to post the interview with fantasy/mystery/horror author Kelley Armstrong tomorrow (Saturday) morning, so I hope you all can return for that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Q and A and Stuff

Just a couple of little items to throw out there this morning...
  • Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in St. John's Monday afternoon to begin their cross-Canada tour. Sadly, I missed the official welcome as I was playing basketball with the geezers. And my invite to dine with them must have gotten lost in the mail.

  • NaNo is going well. I've fallen behind a bit as I haven't met my daily quota I set for myself on weekdays. I'm sure that I'll have some catching up to do this weekend. With the few words from this morning, I'm at 4265 words. It's sure slow going at the start as most of it has been conversation setting things up. I'll be glad when it moves along and 'stuff' happens.


  • I'd like to officially announce that I will be posting the Q & A with author Kelley Armstrong this Saturday morning (November 7) for those who want to read her insights. For those new to my blog, I posted here requesting questions from my readers to send on to Kelley, author of more than a dozen books of horror, YA urban fantasy and mystery.

    Frostbitten, the 10th book in her Women of the Otherworld series is now available. Please invite others who may be interested to drop in Saturday and hear from Ms. Armstrong.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Reality Check

I just thought that I would shift gears away from NaNo for this post. I hope that it's not too much of a downer. And I warn you that this may again fall into that elusive 'probably of no interest to anyone but Alan' category. But I will jump up on my soapbox again...

I notice in the news yesterday that the 133rd Canadian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan arrived home yesterday. I think that it's really nice that the government offices here still lower the flags to half-mast in remembrance. That may be what has got me on this line of thought today. I donated my bit of money and picked up my poppy yesterday. Remembrance/Veteran's Day is only 9 days away...

I also read in the news today that another suicide bomber attacked a bank in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. It's believed that 35 died there. This follows the attack on October 28 in Peshawar, Pakistan where about 100 died. And the 6 who died in Islamabad on October 20. The article mentioned the last large scale attack in Pakistan was in October 20007 in Karachi when Islamic militants killed about 135 people. I think, though, that in North America and perhaps Europe they would be referred to as Domestic Terrorists. I think, also, what has caught my attention is that I travelled through all of those places back in the fall of 1990.

I don't doubt that there have been hundreds of news stories and blogs on these occurrences debating the issue of whether or not our military should be over there. I think that debate should be left to greater minds than I...

I've probably brought it up on my blog before, or perhaps on the blogs of others, that I was in Pakistan for three weeks back in 1990 as part of an overland trek from London, England to Kathmandu, Nepal (16 weeks in total). It was a wonderful time and I would highly recommend that sort of travel to anybody (as long as you like riding in the back of an old Bedford truck and camping every night). I will attach a few photos below to give you some views of Pakistan in more peaceful, happier times.


At the Rohtas Fort, about 16km NW of Jhelum, Pakistan.

The Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan can accommodate 300,000 worshipers

Market along the main street in Murree, Pakistan (one of the locations in the book "A Thousand Splendid Suns," by Khaled Hosseini)

Along the Grand Trunk Road en route to Peshawar, Pakistan.

A little girl in the Jhelum Market. Her father motioned to me while we were driving slowly through the market and wanted me to take her photo. So I did.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Starting (cow) Bell

The little ghouls and goblins seem to have gone to bed now. A lean year for us with only 17 kids coming to the door. And we live in the suburbs. It wasn't a bad night out, relatively speaking. The temperature was about 8C (that would be about 46F for my American friends) and no rain. Just a bit of wind. Perhaps the H1N1 business has scared off a few tonight? That's a whole other story with the supply here having run out today...




Anyhow, it's now midnight and time for the NaNoWriMo to begin for this year. I'm too tired to be pumped. I think I will start this with a whimper and go to bed now and get up early for the attack. I notice, though, that my computer clock says that it's 11pm, so has it really started yet? I am ringing the starters bell...cow bell, that is. You all know what that means. Click here for what I think is one of SNL's funniest skits. Welcome to all Saint's Day and happy NaNo to all participating.

Friday, October 30, 2009

All Dressed Up...

My wife has the day off and will be spending some of this afternoon trying to get Sean's halloween costume together for their cadet dance tonight. I think he could care less about the costume and would show up in his 'civvies', but I'm encouraging him to participate and not be flaky like I was at that age.

I believe that we have the workings for a Hannibal Lecter costume. He has a quality to his voice (Sean) when he delivers the infamous line about Chianti and fava beans...

I haven't done the 'dress-up for halloween thing' since I was a kid. I did dress up in a white paint suit from work for the Santa Claus parade a few years ago. You know the scene: walk along with the float and hand-out candy to the kids (this, of course, differs from my childhood when they pitched the candy at the kids waiting along the sidewalk.) Oh, and there was the time in school that I dressed up in a full body cat outfit in the gym...but that's another story.

I present to you the top 5 costumes that I would wear, in no particular order, should I ever participate in this special time of year.

Yep, Captain Jack Sparrow. What's not to love about the dreds and cool beard!


Ahh, the aforementioned Lecter. My son might have the voice down, but not the glassy-eyed look indicative of folks partying too long.



Sometimes the original is the best. I think that I could pull this off as I've done the shaved-head thing before.

Our friend Pee Wee...OK, so that's a little weird. Don't worry, I won't touch that one...


So what guy that grew up in the '70's didn't want to be the Fonz? Except in Canada, he would be ending his sentences in Eh?

What costumes would you pick? Feel free to throw your picks up on your blogs...

Have a great halloween tomorrow night. Watch out for creepy people.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Strange Days

I always find that this is a strange time of year. Strange in the way that time seems to elapse more quickly. I've just noticed that five days have passed since my last post. There always seems to be so much on the go when you get into the halloween to Christmas corridor.

I have been polishing up a story for 52 Stitches, who will be re-opening for submissions on October 31. I've also been compiling notes for the NaNo this year. Yikes! A mere 4 days away. As a practice for this, I have been getting up at 6:15am each morning to get together my notes that I have scattered all over the place. The early start also gives me extra time to read the fine blogs of others. As a result, I have found a couple of things to bring to your attention.

First, Erin Cole has been hosting some amazing horror stories at her blog Listen to the Voices. The 13 Days of Horror has been a great lead-up to halloween with writers such as Michael J. Solender, Laurita Miller, Barry J. Northern, and Paul D. Brazill. I know what you're thinking...that's a lot of initials talent. Most of you are probably familiar with today's guest writer, Angel Zapata. Do yourself a favour and check out Erin's blog for some halloween horrors...if you dare!

Most of you are also familiar with Brenton Tomlinson over at Musings of an Aussie Writer. He will be editing the first anthology for Blade Red Press: Blade Red Dark Pages, Volume 1. This sounds like a high quality publication and, with BT at the helm, you know that they will print only the best. You can check out thier submission guidlines here, but keep in mind that submissions close on November 30.


I will now get to my paid work. I realize that I have been pimping a lot this morning but fear not...I will have a hot shower and give myself a good scrubbing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Am Not Plugging This Product


I thought that I'd post a link to a commercial on YouTube. The link is here because I still haven't figured out how to embed the damn things in my blog.

I'm not a fan of Johnnie Walker Scotch but I am a fan of Robert Carlyle. I've followed the Scottish actor since his work in the TV series Hamish Macbeth, but he is better known for movies such as The Full Monty, Trainspotting, Angela's Ashes and Ravenous. Some may remember him as the villian Renard in the Bond movie The World is Not Enough. Someone sent us a link to a commercial. It's called "The Man Who Walked Around the World" and was shot earlier this year. I think that it's a great piece of work, obviously shot in one take and gives you a quick history of the Johnnie Walker dynasty. I like Carlyle because he takes on challenging, often despicable, characters. They are often crude, violent, and say all the things that we would like to but are too polite to do so.

It's over 6 minutes long, but the last minute is just rolling credits. If nothing else, watch it for a great view of the Scottish countryside (I believe that it was shot around Perth).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Renaissance Man


The most appropriate definition I could find on this was..."a present-day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field."


I would like to think that this would also apply to women. Have you ever met somebody that has inspired you in some way? I don't mean the team coach that gives the inspirational pep-talk. It goes far beyond that. Something intangible.

I registered for a night-school class at King's College (London, Ont) back in Oct. 1996. It was called 'The End of the Millennium-Psychological Perspectives.' It was taught by Dr. Jaroslav Havelka, a psychology professor originally from Czechoslovakia via Italy, who came to Canada in 1951. The first lecture opened with "What is the report card for our civilization? The last millennium people were dying with the name of Messiah on their lips...but they were better off than us as we are rotten morally." He attributed this to something he called 'Scientific Materialism' and the fact that we are much more 'ego bound' than our ancestors. And so began the eight lecture series...

As is my custom, I tend to get places early and sit with a cup of coffee. I waited prior to class on a couch in the large entry hall of the building when Dr. Havelka wandered along. He recognized me as one of his students and sat and began chatting with me. How was I enjoying the class, what did I do for my work, etc. I was a bit surprised at first, not accustomed to professors chatting socially with me showing interest in my life. I wish that I had taken more advantage of that to pick his brain a bit.

In the fall of '97 there was a story in the paper about a popular university professor having passed away. He died of cancer only 12 days after being diagnosed. It wasn't until a few years later that I began to learn more about his incedible life journey.

His wife, Jane Vincent-Havelka, was the keynote speaker at the 50th anniversary of the college, who were establishing a permanent collection of his art work. I have the 9 page speech that I printed from the Internet a few years ago, and am now unable to find it online. The best link I could find was to the information poster of it here. I'll list in point form some of the events that occurred in his life.

  • born in Moravia, Czechoslovakia in 1922
  • area was occupied by the Nazi Reich in 1938
  • his was involved, with his father, with the partisan against the Nazis
  • he was sent to work in a tank factory in Vienna (where he attended evening classes at the university) and had access to music, museums and theatre
  • he returned to Czech after the war, attending classes at the university
  • the Soviets cracked down on intellectuals, and he secretly fled to Milan to attend university on a scholarship. He was unable to tell his parents, and he never saw them again
  • he obtained a Ph.D. in 1950
  • immigrated to Montreal in 1951 and began studying psychology and physiology at McGill. He became a research assistant and studied brain functions under famed neurologist Dr. Wilder Penfield.
  • had no formal art training, but was a prolific artist producing woodcarvings, drawings (his self-portrait is above, 1993) and painting
    he wrote plays and essays and his novel, Pelynek, won an international prize. His final books, Variations and Musings of an Inquisitive Mind, were psycho-philosophical essays.
  • established the department of Psychology at King's College in 1969
  • is fluent in six languages
  • had a special interest in thanatology, the study of death, and was an active participant in the King's College Centre for Education about Death and Bereavement. For 30 years he studied Eastern Religions, particularly Buddhism, and the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and the Tibetan Book of the Dead were constant companions.

I could continue on with more points, but I would be beating it to death. It's difficult to put into words the aura that a person like this emanates in a crowd. Yes, he was a charismatic and engaging speaker with some truly amazing ideas. But one got a sense of well-being from him and you couldn't help leaving his lectures with a desire to learn more. To push yourself beyond your comfort zone...

Anyway, I've prattled on too long. I realize that this post is probably of little interest to anyone but myself. And I would be surprised if any of you has read on long enough to get to this point.

In October of 2001, an exhibit of 350 pieces of his art work was exhibited in a church in London. About half of these were on sale. I saw a number of pieces that depicted either Christian or Buddhist themes but I couldn't afford to put out the money at the time. I now have two things to regret about that period of time. I should have engaged Dr. Havelka more in conversation and I should have purchased a piece of his art to remember him by. If you happen upon a person who touches your instincts in such a way, act on them and learn more. I may live another 47 years...perhaps I'll get a second chance to learn more.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cracking the WIP




We have had a real potpourri of weather today--from overcast to pouring rain and then hail and then wet snow. The winds have been gusting to 140km/h.

Hello winter.

I seem to have had a recurrence of the plague-like symptoms of 3 weeks ago, with the addition of a bit of breathlessness. I hate going to see doctors, but a couple more days of this should have me motivated.

I haven't really had a writing project on the go for a number of weeks. A series of rejections really took the wind out of my sails. I have dusted off a semi-complete short story in hopes of finishing it before the start of NaNo. I'd like to submit it to Fifty-Two Stitches when their submissions reopen, appropriately, on Halloween. It will be a challenge cutting down what should be a 2000 word story to about 750 words or so. Aside from that, I'm still jotting notes and ideas into three separate notebooks (in different locations) in an attempt to better outline Metropolis, my NaNo story.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thanksgiving...and a bit more pimpage


It's the long weekend in Canada. We will be celebrating Thanksgiving on Monday. My wife, son, the big black dog and myself are off to spend a couple of days at my parent's house 'round the bay. A pity the weather isn't cooperating more. At least it's not snowing yet. Yes, I said the 'S' word!

You may recall, a couple of months ago, I mentioned in a post about searching for a cottage. We were very interested about a chunk of land with a small house on blocks. We emailed the couple with no fixed price, but asked for a property survey or some legal document showing the amount of land and its boundaries. They got back to us after about a month with a hand-drawn sketch of the property. Not quite what I had in mind. The property had a well, but it kept running dry in the summer so he had it filled in for safety reasons. There were too many "iffy" factors for our liking and, despite the stunning view, it wasn't worth the risk. We had decided, during the month we waited for a reply, that we were going to put the money the bank had approved us for into renovating the kitchen/living room of our house (a four level back split). If anything is left over after that, the siding could use re-done as well. I guess at some point sanity kicked in for us and we had to make the more rational choice of upgrading what we had instead of over-extending ourselves for a week end getaway place that would also require some TLC...even if the view was to die for.


That provides a nice little segway into a bit more pimpage I'll throw at you. While attending the night school classes in creative writing in 2007/08 I met a woman called Debbie (who is one of my NaNo buddies this year). Her husband is a talented landscape photographer by the name of Terry Adey. I would recommend you check out his website for some stunning and haunting images of the Newfoundland coastal regions. The attached photo is from his web page.

Have a great week end everyone!

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Odds and More Ends


When I was typing out the 'More Ends' in my title, I began to giggle. I got to thinking about Natalie Sin's profile picture...now that's a lot of ends. My copy of Necrotic Tissue 8 arrived yesterday. My wife commented that they even ship it protected in bubble wrap. Yes they do, indeed...to protect the evil that lurks within. Between the glossy covers of this issue you can find "The Hoarder" by Natalie L. Sin. I'll be getting to that one right away.


My thanks to those of you who submitted questions per my last couple of posts (you know who you are ;) They are now forwarded to Kelley Armstrong to answer. Watch for the Q & A in the near future.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Odds and Ends and NaNo

Just a quick post to bring up some random issues.


  • A reminder to everyone that I am still looking for questions to pass on to Kelley Armstrong (see previous post). You've got until the end of the day tomorrow in your time zone to get questions to me at awdavidson.nl@gmail.com. Every question is greatly appreciated folks (at the moment, including my own question, I have two....

  • I have finally considered myself 'certified' insane and signed myself up for the 2009 installment for NaNoWriMo. I am a NaNo virgin and will need a lot of prodding and a friendly shoulder to cry on. Seriously. I mean it. I need all the friends I can get, so if you want to buddy me you can find me here.

  • Katey Taylor had a great post last week about Banned Books week, with links to the Most Challenged list for last year and Frequently Challenged or Banned Classics. You can link to her blog here. This is, of course, a debate that has been society for almost as long as there have been books in print. It's by no means just a problem in the US. Please link to an article I read yesterday at Canoe.ca about the Toronto District School Board considering removing "To Kill a Mockingbird" from its system because of a complaint from a single parent. Wow! I wish that I weilded that sort of power *sighs and shakes head*.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Have a Secret...

In my last post, I referred to a writer's group I procrastinated in was involved with from about 1991-96. Anonymous Writers of London were a group of people--mothers, fathers, students, retirees and day-job workers--who gathered on a bi-weekly basis to share and critique their work in progress and learn from one another. There were a few talented 'up-and-comers' in the group. One woman in particular, in my humble opinion, displayed a tremendous work ethic and regularly demonstrated a writing style and voice that proved she was ready to make the leap to the elusive 'next level'. The young lady? Her name was Kelley Armstrong.


For the benefit of those who may not have heard of Ms. Armstrong, she is the New York Times bestselling author of the Nadia Stafford mystery series and the Otherworld series of novels. The 10th book in the series, Frostbitten, is now available. Her second Otherworld anthology for charity, Tales of the Otherworld, will be out in April 2010 and The Reckoning (third book in the Darkest Powers Trilogy, a YA urban fantasy) will be available May 2010. More on Kelley's background and her books can be found at Wikipedia here.

Lori Titus at Flashes in the Dark did a great interview with Kelley Armstrong last Sunday in her regular 'Sunday Special' feature. For those of you who may have missed it I have the link here. I have known of Kelley's success as a writer of horror, fantasy, and crime fiction for years but have never contacted her since our AWOL days...until last week. I emailed her assistant, Alison, who kindly passed along my message to Kelley, who has been in Montreal this past week end as 'Author Guest of Honour' at the Con*Cept convention. She graciously took time out of her busy schedule to get back to me and agreed to a 'Questions and Answers' session here on my blog.

I invite all of my online friends--writers of horror, fantasy, mystery, crime fiction, etc.--to submit questions for Kelley Armstrong to answer. I also ask you to pass on my request to your readers in hopes of getting a great pool of questions. I will collect the questions and pass them on to Kelley. She will return her responses and I will post the questions and answers on my blog in the near future.

Some points that I would like to make about this Q & A session:

  • I will send all questions to Kelley but, depending on the number of questions and time constraints, she may not get to them all.

  • I will post the questions and answers, but not the names of the people that wrote the question (to protect the 'shy', or in the event that not all are answered or there are duplicates of questions).

  • I am confident there will be some creative 'thinking outside the box' sorts of questions. There are some regularly asked Q & A at her website here, so I would advise checking it out to avoid asking her questions she frequently receives. Actually, check out her website anyway as there's a tremendous amount of information to be found there.

  • Rather than posting your questions in the comments section, I ask that you please email them to me at awdavidson.nl@gmail.com (I'll give until end of the day Wednesday the 7th).


    I think that Kelley Armstrong is affording us a unique opportunity to 'pick her brain' about all things horror and fantasy. She is a creator of otherworlds with vampires and werewolves, with witches and demons. Kelley has had experience with online fiction, short stories in anthologies, E-serials and episodic novels with continuing plot lines. She even noted in her email that she has participated in NaNoWriMo and hosts a group on her site to encourage others. I look forward to reading your submitted questions. Thanks!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

Since beginning blogging, and paying a bit more attention to writing related issues, I have been hunting for a box that contained old high school and university papers. I even paid my son to search the crawl space on my behalf. He could not find it but, in Quasimodo fashion, I searched the smelly little space until I found pay dirt. Not only did I find the papers, but also 3 short stories that I wrote in the early '90's while meeting with our creative writing group in London. That was called AWOL--Anonymous Writers of London, not to be confused with the other AWOL in town, Adventurous Womyn of London.

To the right is the first of 4 papers I wrote for my first year English professor. It was regarding the Captain's double in Conrad's short story "The Secret Sharer." The words written by the instructor (whose name I have stricken from the top of the page) are probably not very clear. But his sentiment is. My writing skills were lacking somewhat in September 1980, just shy of my 18th birthday. Being a sporting chap, he gave me a chance to re-write the paper for the next class. I won't bother posting it here, but the amount of red on the page indicated he was again down a pint of blood.

The semester played out pretty much the same for each of the papers and their re-writes I completed for Dr. xxxxx. They had to do with scenes in such classic novels as "In The Penal Colony" (Kafka), "The Turn of the Screw" (James) and "The Sun Also Rises" (Hemmingway). I was trashed and drowned in a sea of red with each paper and re-write I completed attempting to improve my writing (and grade). Keep in mind that I attended school to study sciences, not English. and had classes in chemistry, biology, physics, geology, calculus and of course English. I also had to attend 3 hour lab sessions weekly in chemistry and biology.

I'm surprised that I maintained my sanity during the first year. A 5th paper and subsequent re-write may have prompted me to the clock tower, sniping at bearded, tweed-coated academics that bore a resemblance to Dr. xxxxx. After the final exam, I was presented with my 48.5% grade; good for a chance to enjoy his class another semester. I did, however, discover that I could take the other first year English class. I wrote my papers for Dr. yyyyy and was given a C+ grade. Perhaps this English shtick wasn't so bad after all? I'm hoping that the first semester professor wasn't biased against me because his ex-wife was my English teacher in high school.
The bottom line? I deserved a poor grade for that ill-fated English class because my written skills probably did suck back in 1980. They still leave a lot to be desired as I'm the first to admit that I have difficulty telling the difference between a preposition and a proposition...and I'm constantly reminding myself: use the active voice dumb ass! I just tend to go with what sounds good and flows. Grammar be damned.
I wish he could have used a bit more compassion at conveying his criticisms. Offered more encouragement. Or at least less discouragement. I think my love of horror began that year as I imagined evil ways of dispatching Dr. xxxxx with his own red marker. But I suppose that I really shouldn't judge him until I've walked a mile in his shoes (yep, I do know what a cliche is).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Great Pretender

I figured that I will do my small part in getting the word out about somebody plagiarizing stories in our on-line community. Most of you will know this already but perhaps some have not.

Mercedes Yardley last night posted on her blog about a person by the name of 'Richard Ridyard' who attempted to pass off a story as his own, but was actually written by the horror master Stephen King. Fortunately, the people at Shock Totem recognized it for what it was and called him up on it. You can read her full story here. She also mentions that horror writer Angel Zapata has had one of his stories plagiarized. I read this morning that our own Aaron Polson has also had his story "Communion" plagiarized by this person. You can read his comments about this at his blog here.

Angel does an amazing job of building a case against this fraud on his most recent post. Do yourself a favour and read his well-researched story exposing this person here. There are numerous comments from folks at his blog, updating information on the story.

There's not more I can add to what others have said about this person. When on-line publishers accept stories there is a certain amount of trust assumed. I somehow doubt this was done for money because, as we all know, there isn't a lot to be had by publishing short stories on e-zines. I think that it's more of a sick joke by someone who has carefully placed stories for some time, knowing that eventually they would be discovered. I also think that this person is getting off on the amount of attention they are receiving. Sort of their '15 minutes of fame.'

There will always be people who try to scam the system, but it is comforting that when a person like that is exposed for what they are the rest this community can rally together. In a matter of hours people all over the world have gathered and shared information on this fraud in an attempt to expose him/her more quickly the next time. I have no doubt that Richard Ridyard will surface again in another persona, but at least everyone will be watching.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Mob Rules

I saw something odd today. Or perhaps I'm out of step with the times and 'odd' is the wrong word to use.

I was getting lunch together in the kitchen when I noticed a group of teens in the park behind us. It's not unusual to see a few there eating their lunch away from the Jr. High school. More kids used to hang out there, but the large wooden play structure they sat on was set on fire at 4am one morning about a year ago and the city never replace it. Good idea.

Anyway, there was a large group of kids milling about and more showing up every minute. There seemed to me something menacing about the group, so I kept watch. I estimated about 50 to 60 in number and they all moved en mass into the parking lot of the plaza just out of my view. I switched windows to the front of the house and saw them moving towards the creek. Cars started showing up and parking, and many more older teens got out of the vehicles and joined the crowd. All of a sudden many of the group started to run back in the direction of the park where they had started. Some cut through the opening int he fence and came in groups down our street. A police car drove up our street and many headed back through the fence into the plaza. Two more police cars showed up in the plaza and the kids began to scatter in all directions.

My son returned to school and reported later that the group had heard that two boys were going to meet in the park for a fight. Perhaps I'm a bit stunned to think that 50 to 60 kids, boys and girls, want to see two guys beat the crap out of each other in a public park. The mob mentality really is a powerful thing. Also, if the junior hockey team had had that sort of support from its spectators, it wouldn't have folded a couple of years ago leaving us with no team playing in our 7000 seat arena. It was a new sort of thing to witness, but I suppose it happens all over the place...it does, doesn't it?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bring on the Bloodsport

Yes, fair readers, it's that time of year again. When all Canadian work places (and some American) begin to pour over lists of hockey player names in hopes of putting together that winning squad...the team that will win you a crap-load of money give you lots of fun and possible glory among your hockey-worshiping co-workers. And remember, friends, that gambling is illegal in most countries and we should not partake ;)

Instead of putting together characters and scenes for my NaNo story, I will be pouring over pages of statistics trying to decide who is worthy of my selection. Shall it be Ovechkin over Crosby (note that I had opportunity to watch Sid the Kid play in the Memorial Cup tournament in London in 2005, and he is well worth the price of admission should he be appearing in a metropolis near you) or shall I select Zetterberg over Thornton. The choices are endless.

As noted on other blogs, it's Natalie Sin's birthday today. In her honour I hold up a cup and toast her greatness. The attached photo below, which was indeed from Slap Shot (as were the Hanson's above), will have to suffice as I scoured the Internet for the video footage of his strip tease to no avail.