Monday, September 22, 2014

IS there a New Guard coming into the NRA? Finally?

If this silly article weren't so Tea Party-ish, biased and sad, it would be quite laughable.

"Why the “New NRA” Terrifies the Political Left."

Seriously? What a pathetic attempt to draw attention to oneself.

Be not afraid, embrace this New Guard NRA (if they really exist), as they send off the Old Guard (finally) to their retirement homes, their delusional, senile care facilities. That is if they haven't died of gunshot, yet.

I just don't see that the political left is going to be terrified (or even slightly fearful) in the least by this article or what it espouses.

If there is truly a new, younger contingent of Americans who are into firearms and the "sport" of shooting, good. Though I don't see standing around shooting as a sport; soccer is a sport, fencing, sport, tennis, skiing, a sport. I think we're counting too many things as sports when really, their not. If you are overweight and out of shape and can still do your "sport", then it's not a sport.

This new guard is what we've been needing to replace the old guard, the moronic likes of the current NRA leaders we've all seen in the news this past decade or two, and as well been embarrassed (and horrified at times) by, as a nation.

I own guns. Ever since I was a child, actually. I was also in the military. I've done the whole macho sports routine. Although, I couldn't really care less about team sports, for the most part. I mean, I love when the home team (Mariners or Seahawks or, Sounders, etc.) win. But if you want to push it, in my mind the truly "manly" sports (if you'll excuse that kind of ridiculous orientation) aren't team sports at all, where you have protection from others on a team, or where you wear hyper protection suits as in American Football (Rugby maybe, those guys are nuts).

I've always appreciated individual sports of one, against all of nature, or simply another opponent. One on one. It always seemed...cleaner, to me, somehow. But then it's harder to make money off many of those individual sports, for the most part.

After all, we're all about making money off of what we love to watch (and not do).

Then there's UFC style fighting, now that's nuts, that's spectacle, and something I can appreciate. One against one. I like a sport where I can tell who the guy is on the field without having to read his name on his football jersey over all his protective gear. Head injuries? Yeah, well whatever. That's a sport that will look different in ten years or less.

I was told when younger that you shouldn't compare yourself to others as much as yourself, and your own limitations. You are the challenge you need to excel over, not some other guy who may be genetically predisposed to kick your ass regardless. YOU.

Nothing wrong with team sports, I've just always been into gauging my capabilities against my own standards and pushing beyond my own limits. Many times in the end, those turned out to be limits that exceeded those of others. I've usually done quite well, actually, when put then into a team environment. It just wasn't my thing is all. I had wanted to join the football team in junior high, but my mother was afraid I'd get hurt. That was after her having taken me down to a Karate dojo where I had about five fights a night and then fought in tournaments. All one on one.

Not to mention, in non-team sports (like racquetball, and how I played, it wasn't a gentle sport; tennis, full contact fighting, etc.), there simply IS no one else to "fumble the ball" but yourself; no one else to blame, but you. Sports don't have to have a "winner", just someone knowing they have exceeded their own demands, and surviving a situation where they could have been hurt, or died.

But sports don't have to be like that, as in tennis, or shooting sports, other than ones involving killing.

From very young I was into things like climbing, cliff surfing (where you leap off cliffs to land on loose soil and small rocks and "surf" down along a steeply inclined, loose surface), firearms (not hunting), martial arts including full contact later on, backpacking, SCUBA diving (usually alone, but I don't recommend that for others), sky diving, car racing, and so on; then into darker pursuits.

Anyway getting back to the article, the best thing that could happen to these young gun lovers, as well as for the rest of America, IS for a younger generation to take over, One MORE intelligent to replace those moronic dinosaurs running the NRA these past couple of decades or so.

Unless these younger sportspeople are brainwashed by that old guard and continue to push their nonsense, this is all good! It's great! Though, I just don't see it happening, their being brainwashed that is; and surely hope it doesn't. And it most likely won't as they are mostly more intelligent than those they will be replacing. Or so one can only hope, anyway.

I mean seriously, the NRA suggest if there are guns killing people in mass shootings in schools, more guns are the answer? Remember the Cold War and MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction)? Yeah, that was a Great Idea. Pouring gas onto a fire is a great way to put out a fire, right? Maybe in a Bizarro world (see old Superman comics). Yes, MAD worked for what it's worth but really, we're not talking about a limited nation state situation, but millions of individuals, without controls and checks and balances between them and their pulling a trigger.

So like I said, NO ONE is terrified of a New NRA.

I suspect, they may actually just be a saving grace in the end.

So let's welcome them!

We may just finally be seeing the end of the OLD NRA!

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Birthday in Bellingham, WA and the awesomely amazing band, Breaking the Spell

In August 2014, I had a couple of weeks off from work for my birthday. Actually, I just wanted to do a blog this week on something fun.

There is so much distressing stuff going on in the world, I just thought a little Me time was needed. That is, Us time, you and me time; that is to say, you time.

You'll see what I mean in a moment. I just want to share a few ideas with you about birthdays, as well as what my birthday was all about this year on my 59th birthday. Good grief, how'd I ever last this long? Considering my life overall, it's a little bit amazing. I don't feel like I'm 59, just my body does.

Anyway....

I always take my birthday off. I do this because at some point in my life I had realized that up to that point, I never yet had worked on my birthday. This year for my birthday, I drove my daughter (22, stage name, Gosling) and I up to her home in Bellingham. She had stayed a few days with her mother and I stayed a few days up there with her.

You can read about her travels over at her blog on Tiny Bird Travels. I'll also be mentioning two bands below in this blog today, Skitnik (her new band) and Breaking the Spell (friends of hers and now mine),
Our faithful German Shepherd, 12 today!
I have awesome kids and I couldn't be more proud of them. My son (26) is working doing IT work in Portland and is very good at math and physics (I'm not) and is planning starting a new business soon, and has many ideas for a variety of interesting projects. He also taught himself keyboards. Both of my kids are talented in art and music.

I lived in Bellingham when I was at Western Washington University. I didn't want to leave after I graduated, but I wanted to eat. I had a degree and no job and couldn't find a reasonable job in Bellingham. It's a small community and after graduation time, all of the jobs (degree related) are usually long gone. So I ended up going back to my old job in Tacoma at Tower. They had just started Tower Video and my old boss and friend from our Tower Records days, hired me back.

We then transferred to Seattle, got an apartment and managed that Tower Video store. I worked with Jeff Ament, bass player for Pearl Jam (Green River at the time, pre Mother Love Bone). In fact he turned his job as media buyer (I had been the media buyer at the Tacoma store) over to me when he quit to try and be a "real musician" as he put it. Such a n ice guy and so talented himself! He did well, I think.

Getting back to it, my daughter and I partied on my birthday and had a great deal of fun.

On that day, August 30th, we had drinks at a great establishment with her friends, so many flavors there in their drinks and infused alcohols. We went elsewhere for some delicious foods and more drinks and saw Breaking the Spell, a very talented band at their CD release party. I'm listening to their CD now as I write this, a gift from the band to me on my birthday.

It was one of my best birthdays in more than a month of Sundays. Well, in nearly a decades anyway.
But, I'll get to that in a moment....

My never having worked on my birthday, was something to speak of. In considering how impossible that was in my life, it was a truly markedly amazing thing. When I was in the Air Force, they had told me we (the guys in the Survival Equipment Shop, I was a Parachute Rigger) could have off either our birthday or our wedding anniversary (as I was married). I chose my anniversary, but also got my birthday off every year. Just luck I guess. But then I was in many ways their golden boy.

So when I decided years later about this, to simply make a thing of it in for rest of my life, as could be possible depending on things, I would just try never to work on my birthday. And it's lasted this long.

My family, my mother actually, always thought you should celebrate your birthday. Considering how life can be, the one day you can guarantee for yourself is, your birthday. Christmas is nice, but that's about everybody. Your birthday, is about you and only you. Well, except for me. You see, my mother was born on my birthday. Yes, on my birthday.

Anyway, even if no one else celebrates it, you can. You simply have to just do it. On our birthdays as kids we had to do no chores and we were treated like kings (or my sister or mother, as queens). No picking on the Birthday Kid on their day!

And so I've always tried to celebrate the birthday of others in just such a way. But I've been surprised by the push back on that from some people through my life. Still, in my house on your birthday, you are King or Queen for a day.

At some point I decided to start taking time off beyond and before my birthday. Since Labor Day is near to my birthday, it just made sense to attach my birthday holiday to a real holiday and in doing so, save on my vacation time from work.

As my birthday is on August 30th (and my mother's having been born on my birthday perhaps having something to do with my feelings about celebrating it), I can put my vacation days together and turn a three day Labor Day holiday into a full week off for only an additional four, not five days.

Eventually, I ended up taking off two weeks. It just kind of evolved that way over the years. Update, because of the weather around here lately, I may stop that long vacation thing and back it up in the summer so I have more consistently nice days so I can ride my Harley more. Climate change, sucks.

I remember at times when I was looking for a new job, one of my make or break issues in taking the job actually was, if they wouldn't guarantee for me to take my birthday off. I simply wouldn't take the job if I would have to work on my birthday. Hey, it just turned into a "thing" with me, what can I say. Luckily, that never came to be an issue.

At some point in my life, after I had kids mostly, I took on the idea of giving to others closest to me on my birthday. I figured that if it is my birthday, whether anyone gave to me or not, really mattered little, as long as I got to do what I liked. Which was to give to those I loved most, celebrating my appreciation for their being there in my life and helping to make my special day, special.

So this year, during my two weeks off, I had wanted to ride my Harley on a trip somewhere.

Alas, weather and timing didn't work out well for me. As it turned out, my daughter needed a ride home back to Bellingham. So we worked it out that I would pick her up at her mother's and drive her home the couple of hours it would take driving north, and bring my dog, and stay few a few days.

She told me later that her mother said (as we're divorced now some twelve years) that I think my birthday is a national holiday. Quite, and it should be. Everybody party!

So we got up to Bellingham to her home. This was the second time I saw it. The first time was a month ago when I helped her move into it from her huge house on Lake Samish with its view of the mountain across the lake.

On my birthday, we rode our bicycles (I brought mine up with me on the bike rack on the back of my 1994 Volvo 850 Turbo. We rode the couple of miles into downtown to meet with her boss at the record store where she works. She has several jobs, kayaking and teaching it, giving tours and recently got hired as an art teacher at a school.
Redligh bar, Bellingham WA
They are known for providing fine, carefully made cocktails. I loved this place.
Inside Redlight bar, Bellingham WA
We hung out with a few of her friends.
Temple Bar, Bellingham WA
Sorry for the blurriness of some of these photos but they were kind of a spur of the moment after many drinks kind of effort. After a while we got hungry so we walked our bikes over to the Temple Bar on the other side of town, along with her boss. We had more drinks and tasty samplings of their food.
Looking out from the Temple Bar
At one point, after so many drinks (it wasn't ridiculous over the time we took, along with hydrating with glasses of water and food, but it was more drinks in a night then I am used to anymore) I needed to take a walk outside on such a beautiful night. We were having a great time. I just wanted to burn off some of he alcohol. So I walked to the end of the block. The night was so beautiful I had to take a few shots.
Down the street from the Temple Bar
End of the block from the Temple Bar
After a while it was time to head out. On our bicycles. I hadn't ridding that buzzed in a long, long time. But we returned home without incident. Then we decided to go to her friend's CD release party for their band, Breaking the Spell. They also have a Facebook page. You can listen to their music and buy their CD here.

A word about my daughter on music. She has traveled Europe twice, starting in Iceland, with her accordion. The first time she traveled alone for nine months paying her way by playing music. She's been in several bands and recently was just accepted into the band, Skitnik, a Bavarian kind of fun music band, and right up her alley. She can really get a room up and moving and laughing and basically just having a great time with her music.

Sadly we got to the release party just a bit late and only caught the last two songs in the set. But it was enough to be able to appreciate the awesome talent of this band.
Breaking the Spell
The party was at the Circus Guild building.


The first thing I saw entering the building were these mermaid sculptures. It is a big space where there is plenty of room for circus type stuff to happen. A winter home for a circus venue or a place where those types of talents can be performed. They also rent out their space for things just like, a CD release party.

The music coming off the stage was amazing and I do love a good sax. After the show the band were signing CDs and I definitely wanted one. But in being good friends of my daughter's and knowing it was my birthday, they wouldn't let me pay them for a CD or autographs. But they gave me both.

We talked to them for a while and then headed home. I for one, was exhausted. So much so that I headed home with my dog, the next day. But it was an amazing time and one that I will never forget, for the rest of my life!

Take the time to make your birthday your own special day. Break out of the mold. Go do something, extraordinary. All the best to you! This birthday is going to be a hard one to beat in the future. But sometimes it's not about what's bigger or better, but more beautiful, more relaxed, more pleasing in enjoying things, like a beautiful night, a good drink, or time with loved ones.

Cheers to you, and a happy birthday to you when your birthday arrives!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Should you publish whatever you write?

There was a recent Indies Unlimited article titled,

"I encourage YOU to write, but even more importantly, to publish."

Well, sort of. But not really. There is another side to that which I'll briefly explore below and yet another side explored briefly in this article, "One Size Does Not Fit All For Self-Publishing".

I actually have the opposite argument to everyone writing and publishing. I've read not a few writings by "writers" who everyone would wish not to publish. Then there are those who are quite fearful of publishing who I wish I could convince to take the time and effort to publish.

I encourage everyone interested in writing to write but Please, don't just then publish. Not as a defacto event following writing, anyway. Publish only with thought and consideration for others.

First let me say that although posting online is a form of "publishing", I define "publishing" as not just putting your writings online, but actual publishing in the somewhat traditional sense as in a book, ebook or audiobook format. There is shall we say, publishing as a verb, and publishing as a noun.

My overall point being, there is already enough junk writing out there as it is.

Writing should come easy, rewriting, editing and publishing should come harder.

To suggest people publish easily, frequently, is to flood the market. If you want to publish, there are blogs, there is Wattpad.

So please, don't publish; unless you have a good piece of writing that you have worked on, over and over, perfecting it until it is worthy to be published.

A Professor of mine once told us in class that to show your first draft to some one is on par with showing your own shit to others (his words, to shock us, to make the point, and it worked). As that is something few would do, don't do it.

Many would argue that they wouldn't show their first draft off but some are actually good enough to do that; many others have a multi-draft pieces that appear only to be of a first draft level of quality due to their lack of knowledge, practice, skill or expertise.

The point is here, unless you have put the actual thought and effort into producing a readable piece, don't publish. Not unless you have first crafted a piece with a level of quality that deserves to be read by others.

That is your decision of course, when it is actually ready, and the decision of your beta readers. You do have the control. But control indicates thought and effort and a decision. To simply write and publish is almost offensive, unless it is truly worthy of others who do not know you to take their time to acquire, perhaps pay for it, and read it.

A writer should be qualified to publish, but also compassionate in not wishing to put into the public reading sphere, works that are worthy of others spending their hard earned time and money, to read them. All you are doing otherwise is to flood the market with poor writing, as has been done now for some time.

We used to value our good writers. Now a days there is much talk about how bad some published books are. We need to change that, to turn things around.

There are certainly good writings out there by amateurs and that's great; that IS wonderful. Just be sure what you are pushing out into the world deserves to be out there. Put effort into it, have it vetted, read by others first, then publish it. And understand that what many think is "effort" to publish a book, many times now a days isn't really effort. It seems to them to be effort. But there is a big effort in putting out a good book. I've been doing this for years now and it still seems like more effort than I remember from the last time, every time I do it.

So get get help, get an editor if you can, join a writers group, barter for skills of others, do whatever you can to not put poorly written works out into the readers' domain.

Because in the end, everyone will thank you for it and you will get so much further for those efforts.

That all being said, I'd like to also mention another important issue that has been crippling our nation: Education... and our chastisement of those young (and old) who wish to achieve an educational level higher than that of High School, which really now is not to high. Why is our nation so stupid as to do so much harm to ourselves and our future. Check out the link to see what I'm talking about.

#authors #writers #education

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day! Now, about that....

First, remember that I'm still celebrating the re-release of my book, Death of Heaven. Check out my Blog from this weekend, if you haven't already seen it. Today is the last day my ebooks are up for free during this even. After today, my free short story ebooks are back to their normal .99 price, but I have lowered the price of the print version to $4.99 from now on.

Now, about labor....

I've been saying for years how the American worker is being abused by corporations, management and, our Government, who are heavily swayed by business interests, big money, conservatives and lately for some reason, religious factions.

I've been saying for decades that we should be working toward fewer hours, fewer days per week per worker. We hear complaints about there being not enough jobs and yet, workers are working more hours, rather than fewer (for the same pay) and more days; taking fewer vacations days, many times out of fear of losing a job. Where there could be jobs for others, the current workers (in the jargon of conservative and Republican types), are "STEALING jobs" from the unemployed.

How is all this not obvious?

On Fareed Zakaria this weekend Fareed had a piece on just this topic. It was rewarding to hear it finally being discussed on a national show.

Did you know that American workers are the only advanced economy country of workers in the world not guaranteed paid vacation days? As many as 23% of Americans get no paid holidays or vacation.Americans who do get paid time off take only about half of it on average according to one survey.

In contrast Europeans see a need for a work/life balance.

Why don't we? I do. I have worked for a health insurance company for years in their IT department on their web sites, for, well, April 1st, 2015 will be nineteen years. Nine months proceeding that I actually started as a contractor. So really, September 9th will be nineteen years, but it doesn't country toward benefits as I was a contractor and not a hired employee, yet.

My point in mentioning this company is they are a good company to work for. They want people to take vacation time as a relaxed and refreshed employee is happier, makes fewer mistakes and in general leads to a more functional workplace. They have also found that allowing remote workers was a plus for everyone involved. Since I work on web servers that are located in datacenters in Utah, Oregon and Washington, there's no real need for me to be in the office in Seattle.

So I have been able to work full time from home now for a couple of years. A big benefit for me as my commute is two hours long one way, twice a day, in driving to the park and ride, waiting and taking the bus, waiting and taking the ferry (which can be awesome in Puget Sound), and then walking. In the afternoon I'm reversing that. It's great for the exercise and reading time it allows, but it's four hours out of my day for no good reason, not to mention, it adds a burden on our state infrastructure and pollution levels. That's four hours I now have back for writing, or personal issues, which enhances the overall quality of my life.

Getting back to it....

German workers work 600 hours less than their Greek counterparts, but German productivity is 70% higher. There are many examples of this around the world which shoots a hole in the argument that more hours means more productivity. What corporations and government don't account for in expecting us to work more hours is the overall amount of money that is made and where it goes. There is no reason we cannot be working toward a four day work week.

If you ever bring up a four day work week to companies today the standard response is one of two. Either they say no, outright, or they smile and say yes, four work days a week is acceptable, of course you'd be then doing ten hour days to make up for it. But why shouldn't we by now in his most advanced country in the world be working four day weeks and six hour days? Then money is actually there for this and that would allow many more workers to make a living, to get off the government assistance in many cases, lead to a far happier worker and more money into the marketplace when workers have more time off and money to spend.

Adding those extra days and hours to workers lives can also allow them the choice, the leisure time to delve more into personal pursuits, family, the arts, entertainment; it could be a boon to the economy. There is a (and conservatives and Republicans will love this term) "trickle down" effect. According to a study commissioned by the US Travel Association (by Oxford Economics) shows that if Americans just used all their currently allotted time off, there would be an additional $160 billion in sales, not just in travel related businesses but across several sectors. That would generate an additional $52 billion dollars in earned income and 1.2 million additional jobs.

So if you are getting vacation time... take it! "Take it," as Fareed Zakaria said today, "as your patriotic duty."

And yet, big money pushes government to allow them to extract the money from the workers, to continue to burden the workers with extra hours, and therefore, fewer workers to do the job.

The accounting firm of Ernst & Young did a study on their own employees and they found that for every additional ten hours taken as vacation time the company saw their profits go up by 8% in improvement ratings.

This is not just a fantasy I've dreamed up. There are hard cold facts involved here. The things I'm proposing, these things I've been proposing for decades, are doable.

Consider also if you are salaried, if you are required as I am to work 38.75 hours per week, if you work on minute longer, you have just lost that salaried amount be a degree. Let's say you work one week double hours at 77.5 hours. How does that not mean your pay has literally been cut in half? So every minute you work longer than your baseline expected hours, is actually taking money from your bank account. Or your retirement.

Corporations put a major spin on this of course. Just ask them about that and see what they say. They have a very good and practiced argument for it. But don't let them fool you. The problem with most managers is that they cannot see the bigger picture either.

But, the bigger picture is indeed there.

Labor Day is a celebration of the worker, the laborer. Let's not just celebrate them, us, but let's dig deep and find out we can all step into the future, into a better future for everyone and not just those at the top, or the very rich and truly appreciate those who Labor Day is really about.

Wouldn't you like to be able to afford to take time off, go on vacation and enjoy a better life with more and not less, freedom?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Death of Heaven - re-release on my birthday Saturday 8/30/2014

Happy birthday to me! Well, tomorrow actually.

I like giving on my birthday, so in that frame of mind....


I'm letting you know that tomorrow is the official re-release date my book, Death of Heaven (coupon code AE78W ) and I am offering it for free through this weekend. That is the downloadable ebook version; here, is the print version of, Death of Heaven on Amazon. I have also lowered the ebook price on Death of Heaven, from Monday on to $4.99.

Death of Heaven has been put through a rigorous re-editing and was getting good reviews even before that. 

Also starting today through the weekend, you can get ebooks versions of most of my ebooks for free. Check them out, I hope you find something you like.

Also, a short short sci fi story of mine on Wattpad, To End All War.

See also this week's past blog on all this. Enjoy my birthday tomorrow!
And, have a great weekend!

Cheers!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Free ebooks, Death of Heaven, and The Rules of Writing

Free ebooks? Yes, there's a wealth of reading materiel coming to you here, today. First, though....

My birthday is Saturday, August 30th, but more about that later. Starting Friday, August 29th, 2014, I will be offering my catalog of ebooks for free for a few days in celebration of my birthday, which will be available thought Tuesday, 9/2/2014.

Right now however, you can get a free ebook copy of Death of Heaven right now (see below toward the end of this blog for details).

That all being said, now let's continue....

There are several rules of writing that you're not supposed to break. Rules that sometimes, I find irritating. Some are reasonable, some necessary, some are just marketing issues infecting the publishing industry and therefore, the writer's domain.

Some rules as I indicated, are just common sense and necessary, but some... some I feel just hamper the creative process and the artistic endeavor.

Again, take my book, Death of Heaven.


Over all, I've gotten pretty good comments on it. Like this one from Author and Reviewer, Michael Brookes:

"[Death of Heaven] ... has a Books of Blood vibe [referring to Clive Barker's seminal book series], which really works well. It's in these tales that the author's writing ability shines. He demonstrates a lovely turn of phrase and some of the writing is almost poetic in its beauty."

Original cover of Books of Blood Vol. 1
I kind of like that. 

There was one comment about the storyline that I was expecting and that finally happened. The comment was that the two main protagonists didn't really do, anything.

I beg to differ. SPOILERS here, but mild ones.

First of all, the protagonists referred to ARE doing something. They are documenting for all humankind, what is about to happen. Things that have forever been hidden and are completely missing from humankind's understanding of their entire existence, their world, and their universe.

These documentors are striving to stay alive. They have enough to deal with in simply staying alive and handling their task, to document, to pass it all on to others, should the earth survive. Then there is book two, yet to be written, where perhaps they do have a chance to "do", something. After an entire book of being trapped in their own existence, how could they not be wanting to do something, once and for all?
EarVu a short ebook sci fi horror story
The typical comment from editors and publishers on something like this (and in film, producers, studios, etc.), is to add in something for them to do besides what they are doing. Things like, make a conflict with local government or secret government agency, or a secret society. Hollywood and publishers always want more, bigger, betterer! But that is pure sensationalism and if you put too much into it, you get overload. Like sugar is good so diabetes is better?

And there you have it, this mode of entertainment building can and has led to "entertainment diabetes". Avoid it. It's fine to build on something to go bigger and better, but at some point, if you have a brain cell left, you'll recognize that you need to pull back, start over, reset, so that what had been immense turns into little, and if you revert to the beginning, you can again make the little immense; make a tiny bit simply seem like so much more.

Still, I can understand how one might feel a "hole" in the protagonists' situation.

That however, was my intent. For that feeling to exist. It exists, for a reason.

There are some things in life where you literally can do nothing, where there is no where to hide, nothing to do, but survive; where you should feel a "hole" in the story. That's not very interesting reading though, is it? I mean, that's the argument, right? But these protagonists serve their function, they move things along, they acquire and bring us along with them as they acquire, knowledge.

They had been friends since childhood. One who suffered serious damage through his espionage work (among other things); the other damaged with emotional issues from a childhood trauma that they both amazingly survived. Neither is finding getting through their daily life, easy; for both it is a challenge within itself. And actually, that's okay.

When I was in college in my first fiction writing class, one of the editors of our University magazine said that he didn't understand why he liked my writings, because I broke rules, but for some reason, no matter how hard he tried, he enjoyed my stories. Good stories are written by good authors who follow the rules; great stories are written by great authors who set out to break those rules. It's not for me to say what kind of an author I am, but I will guarantee you one thing, I do have an interesting and at times unique perspective in all of my writings.

As for others who wish to be writers, write. Write and learn rules, so that you can creatively break them, or try to do so, to make your own way, to set your own path so that possibly others, may follow you.
Audio book version of The Conqueror Worm, first full chapter of Death of Heaven
Still there is another issue, however.

Are these two actually the main protagonists? And if not, who is? Because there are others who are doing something and who in the end, absolutely do something. But they too mostly sit and wait, acquiring information, growing in knowledge and strength, much like the other two mentioned above; but also, damaging bits and pieces of human history.

This is a book in some ways, of very little happening, actually.

There is a tension building right from the beginning of the book's story, even many years before the opening of the main story, where that builds and builds until finally it all comes to a head in the final battle for the life of all on earth, and others. There is a lot going on between the lines.
Quantum History short sci fi comedy ebook
If I were to use some of those rules to add in elements to the story, it would be due to marketing reasons, not reasons of story or necessity. Because what is necessity in writing? To tell the story, to keep the reader's attention, to entertain and enlighten, to leave the audience wanting more at the close and to leave them with a feeling of time well spent.

It is not all about the end however, but the journey. The journey in Death of Heaven is long and diverse. There are turns and massive jumps but it is all tied together by only a few elements, a few lives. You come to know those lives. You come to wonder about them, where did they come from? How did they come to be here, and now?

Some of those questions are answered in a novella that came out before Death of Heaven, titled, Andrew, which is also included at the end of another book of mine, Anthology of Evil. Questions like, where did these powerful beings come from in the first place?


I don't like stories with easy answers.

I don't like books I can read in thirty seconds. I like the kind of book you can take your time with, think about a little bit and where you really don't mind that it's taking longer than many books do. It's all about the journey. Who cares if you zip through to the end, just to get to a great ending?

If I really enjoy a book, I will savor it, draw it out. I don't WANT it to read easy and fast. I want it to read like it will tear my guts out, affect me, even change me possibly; make me remember it. When I first read Lord of the Rings in high school, I limited my reading per day. I wanted it to last as long as possible. I could have read it in a day or two, but I made it last a couple of weeks so I could ruminate about it, think of it as I was falling asleep and even when I woke up.

I'm kind of like that though. It's how I like my beer, when I bite into it, I like it to bite back a little. I want something with full body, full flavor, a full body experience; Thai food at five stars of heat, using Thai tea to cut the heat when I can't take it anymore.

And that's what I try to deliver. More than the usual, something different; a little unique, or a lot.

On August 30th, 2014 I am officially re-releasing my book published in 2012, Death of Heaven (2014 print and ebook versions).

I have always liked giving gifts to those closest to me on my birthday, so it seems an obvious day to celebrate this new release. It has several new sections, has been re-edited and I believe it is an even more powerful read than before.

Check out the reviews it was given before the re-edit on its web page at, DeathofHeaven.com.

You can get an ebook copy right now if you like from Smashwords, just use the coupon - WC22Z . The coupon expires on September 2nd, so get it now.

I will also offer my collection of short stories, Anthology of Evil on Smashwords, use the coupon, DV57HOver this next few months into next year I will be working on a re-edit of this book as I have done with, Death of Heaven. Anthology of Evil has two important stories, In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear, my first published short story and, Andrew, the novella that Death of Heaven is based upon.

While you're at it, don't forget this free, little two page story of mine on Wattpad, To End All War.

If you want a quick and easy read there are plenty of authors out there for you. Some of them I highly respect and read myself. Others, not so much.

Mr. Pakoo's Spice a short zombie tale ebook
Rules are pretty much mandatory for new authors, they are okay if you want to simply sell a lot of books, that is, if your goal is only to make money. But if you want to write (or read) a good book that challenges you, ignores rules at times for the sake of entertainment, just understand... that is what I am always striving for.

To offer you the reader, something... different; something, provoking; something you won't soon forget.

For now, here's a few freebie short stories:
  • Another experimental debacle, in a two page horror sci fi story titled, To End All War, on Wattpad. 
  • My rather well liked sci fi romance tale, Simon's Beautiful Thought on Smashwords.
  • Free this weekend - A return to my exploring scientific research as in my horror sci fi EarVu and,
  • Free this weekend - A humorous experimental debacle Quantum History (see covers above). 
  • Along with these all my other ebook short stories will also be free through the weekend.
Note: Due to an oversight the last two stories above were not marked free as planned, but will be this weekend.

Check them out and have fun. It's what this is all about.
Cheers!

Monday, August 18, 2014

On Creating Great Story Titles

Properly titling a story is extremely important to me. In thinking about creating titles for stories, I thought I would share what my process can be. For at least one type of story title, anyway.

I believe that a good title can contain half of a story's meaning, in theory. It's something to shoot for anyway. By changing a title it can alter the entire meaning of the story. It can twist a story's meaning in unforeseen and  interesting ways.

Sometimes I write a story, from a short story to a novel, based upon a title I came up with first as inspiration. Sometimes that title lasts all the way through to publish. At times once I finish the story, another title becomes apparent.

Sometimes the title comes last once I discover what the story is through discovery as I write it. When that happens, I try really hard to come up with the right title. I try to find the title in the story. I'm not always successful to the degree I want, but it's usually worth the effort.

A good title can make a world of difference in reader perception as well as story meaning. One of my best titles came out of this story:



Nikolas Hayes as "Simon" on the cover of one of my free ebooks
Simon's Beautiful Thought
Having a story where the title pulls things all together at the end, can be very pleasurable. It's good to be careful however about taking a string of words from within a story as the title, as it can come off as cliche or in the worst case, simply annoying.

For our purposes here, I'll just use a story of someone I know, Nikolas Hayes. This is from his first published short-short story on Wattpad.  It's a cool little horror sci fi tale, a dystopic that worked on his first draft. It's a good title. Not quite the kind that alters a story outside of its obvious meaning or intent, but a good title nonetheless.

Wattpad, if you don't already know, is a site where you can find a lot of interesting and free writings. In some cases, authors are writing entire books online there that you can follow along with as they are written, chapter by chapter. You can comment on them, sometimes affecting how the book develops. Many of these stories are first drafts, written on Wattpad and published without a second draft attempt. Many find that interesting. 

I heard a well known writer once say that you CAN make a living as a short story writer, you just have to be able to write a first draft, send it off and have it bought by a publisher, every single day. Not a lot of people can produce a finished, polished purchasable story in one draft. 

Some people have even gotten book deals in publishing like this on Wattpad.

Here is one of my latest stories on my Wattpad, titled: "To End All War". It's about a scientist who misuses an experiment he and his coworker are working on, in order to affect the entire world to his agenda. He's finally had it and felt that he had to do something; something, to stop the madness. Hopefully in the end, it will work out for everyone for the better. 

Or perhaps, he's just sadly deluded as so many seem to be now a days. Yet, I wonder....

One last thing before I get to the point of today's blog....


Death of Heaven by JZ Murdock
A few years ago before I published my currently re-released epic book, Death of Heaven (you know, I don't use "epic" lightly either, the book IS epic in scope, there's simply no debating that...read it, you'll see what I mean), it still had no title as I approached the final edit prior to publishing.

Years before, Nik had produced a music CD of his original music on keyboards and there was one song titled, "The Death of Heaven" ( the link is to the video book trailer for the book using Nik's song so you can actually hear it). 

You can also see the web page for my book here, Death of Heaven.

In my search for a title for a book I scan a lot of art and music for ideas, to tweak to my own purposes. So at some point, I ended up looking over his song titles. I was starting to worry that I wouldn't find a title worthy of this book.

I loved that title when I saw it again. Perhaps I subconsciously directed myself to look at those songs again, songs I had 
previously listened to more than once. Although it wasn't quite how I was thinking of titling my book, over that next week, the more I thought about it, I just couldn't get it out of my head.

It started to make total sense to me. It fit the book the more I thought about it. So, I asked him and he allowed me to use that title. I dropped the leading "The" in the original title, as that isn't a great idea to use in book titles, but over all, the title was his.

In supplying Nik now with the title to his first short story published online, I've finally been able to pay him back in some small way for using one of his titles. I'm not saying that title doesn't exist elsewhere in the world, just that he came up with it independently on HIS own. 

Anyway, back to Nik's story and my method for devising a title, that would go something like this....

In his story there is mention of air, breathing, freshness and stars. These seem to be primary elements of the story, so good to focus on. 

Immediately I think:
star air
or 
air star

But that’s boring, right? 

It has the gist but not the cadence or pizzazz needed, especially in a short-short story. So I go and look things up in an online thesaurus. 

Maybe I’d keep "star", as it’s so immediate and recognizable. 

That leaves, "air".

So I enter into my browser URL field:
air syn

for 
air synonym

I pick a good site from the search results. This time it’s one on top:
thesaurus.com/browse/air

From there I get:
breath breeze wind blast draft heavens ozone puff sky stratosphere troposphere ventilation waft whiff zephyr

So 
zephyr 
seems cool to me. I like that word. 

Star Zephyr?

Except, now "star" seems boring and doesn't really match up well.

So maybe not "zephyr" after all.

Maybe:
star breeze?

Waft and whiff are both wrong; more silly than useful and this is in no way a comedy.

star wind?
That isn't too bad, but they don’t fit the story very well in my mind. 

So maybe "star" just won’t work.
star breath?

I like that, but it feels backward to me somehow. Maybe not "star" but "starlight"?
breathing starlight?

That just might work!

But not quite. It's too obvious, too straightforward, and I need something less obvious, with a twist somehow, something minor.

So if not breathing? Another sense? Feeling? Smelling? Tasting? Or maybe, drinking?

Drinking Starlight!

Drinking indicates thirst and that is a strong feeling. So is breathing but drinking twists things on its head and that's usually good.

So that’s it then. 

And that is pretty much how I go about creating my titles. Usually, anyway. 

I mean, that and other ways.

So check out Nik's cool little dystopian sci fi tale, Drinking Starlight, published just last week on Wattpad. I hope to see many more from him over the years as he has a unique vision on our world, our human condition and for that matter, our universe.

Drinking Starlight by Nikolas Hayes on Wattpad
Enjoy the free stories and as always... 

Cheers!