Monday, October 20, 2014

We're Not Doomed, It's Always Just Darkest Before The Dawn

There's an old adage, "It's always darkest before the dawn", which has a lot of wisdom in it. Many times, perhaps most times, things do get their worse before they get better.

I've seen the same thing in my life. When times were hardest, once I got through them, times got a lot better. Sometimes just because it feels much better, sometimes because you worked so hard to get out of your bad situation, you overshoot when things start to turn for the better. Or you put out calls and some finally pay off, sometimes after you no longer need them. Not always the case surely, but many times it is true and frequently for some of the worst times.

This certainly isn't news to me but for some, they seem completely ignorant of it and that brews up anger and bitterness in them; sometimes in ways to work against themselves.

I was recetnly listening to Fareed Zararia's Sunday morning news show as I always do on the weekend: Real Time With Bill Maher on Saturday mornings for a lighthearted view of what's going on in the world and Fareed on Sundays for a more serious orientation, as I prep my next Monday blog.

I realized something about how bad things have been at times and questioning, where's the relief, where's the end? It occurred to me it may be closer than I thought.

The US Congressional Republican's stupidity these past years, the stupidity of China's leaders, the insanity in the Middle East, perhaps all this is their death knell and good times are soon to be upon us? News networks like Fox News who push rational issues to the point of media manipulation and sensationalism purely for the purpose of ratings and money, greed. It's dislikeable, disagreeable and stupid.

Rational people dislike types such as Bill O'Reilly who are a part of the hiding in plain sight, conservative anti-intelligentsia...the "Intelligent Stupid Elite", who exist under the transparent media "rocks" of the anti-liberal wingnut.

People dislike national leaders such as Vlady Putin in Russia, an ex-KGB punk, grown just a bit bigger than tiny. Wait, punks are cool now, let's say, chump, instead then. Look, I'd say thug but I don't want to disdain the good name of thugs everywhere.

Putin who dresses (IN a dress? Hey, who knows in private, right?) when he doesn't have his shirt off, to try to satiate his bloated ego and girlishly sensitive self-esteem. He's like the self-esteem insufficient bully in the elementary schoolyard who picks on poor little Ukraine who was minding their own business and only wanted to talk to the cool kids in the west, and so he steals their Crimea while everybody is looking, then dares anyone to do anything about it. This isn't very impressive for everyone else, by the way.

Putin who takes up a sport like judo (or wrestling for that matter). Unless you are looking to get up close and personal, rubbing up against sweaty skin with other men. Look, there's nothing wrong with either Judo or wresting, But it's different when you are leader of a nation. Things, count for more than the seem to and they should.

When wouldn't he take a really good Martial Art like Aikido, unless he feels that is too peacenik-like so then he could go for, Krag Maga. What does it say about Russia's leader that instead of taking up an excellent home grown Martial Art like Systema, he takes on a Japanese one and not even an Martial Art but Japan's venerable and national sport? Is this a brave Russian Bear of a man?

If he's a real man, if he wants to prove to the world how powerful he really is, let's see him produce a television cartoon making fun of the Prophet Mohammad.

Now THAT, wold take a real man.

People also dislike his similar counterpart in more extreme North Korea's Kim Jong-Un whose carnal and culinary satiations have gotten so far out of hand his ankles rebelled and broke. Or the too thin right up through to the brain, Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.

Or the pathetic movements of ISIS\ISIL, with their sad abuses in allowing juvenile desires to run rampant and free with weapons aimed and fired at who many innocent people? This is a group whose single obvious goal apparently is to get Iran talking with the Great Satan!

Yes, lots of things going on around the world today.

These are sad individuals all, whose sense of self importance trumps that of the abused citizens in their care.

But these are all tiny despots including Putin in massive and still mighty Russia, whose people will one day wake up and kick his abusive ass out of office and take out his cronies and backers as well. Putin who is still just a tiny man in control of a large nation on their way out of this ever modernizing world if Putin remains in power.

Enough of these concerns about these tiny egotisticals.

Consider the slow engagement of governments to clamp down on issues like ebola. An issue which drastically points out how not helping poorer nations, can truly affect those who think, "this isn't our issue".

Because, it is. It's all our issue.

Sometimes it takes things getting to their worst, to gather the attention of everyone, before there is a strong enough and cohesive enough of a reaction in order for real positive change to come to fruition.

Perhaps, just perhaps, we're finally almost there.

Of course, many times things go on seemingly forever. Sometimes bad things fizzle out and suddenly there is a newer, better arrangement and things simply evolve into being better, without an Arab Uprising, a Tienanmen Square, or a Civil War.

But the current issue with ISIS/ISIL is pretty bad, pretty ridiculous, pretty offensive; not only to the world, to the west, but to the Arab and Islamic world, too.

We may be viewing the death knell of much bad in the world. It doesn't look or seem like it. But when it happens we will look back over it and only then see how it was obvious at some point after the fact; when it seems like it should have been obvious during the fact; and yet, we couldn't see it. Why?

Just ask your self, why, and look around you, try to see what isn't obvious. Of course you have to cut through the media's skewing things for sensationalism and their lies depending on what compromised news network you listen to (that is Fox News as opposed to Al Jezeera, maybe), and the spin doctors and publicist's manipulations.

If that is the case, if things are about to get better, let's at least consider it now, when we most need to see the light of a new day and not the sunset of an old one. To be aware of the possibility of an upswing, so that later you can say, I saw it coming and not, I really had no idea and I did unnecessary harm to myself and others in my professing "the sky is falling", which seems to be so much anymore about life in our modern times.

Just... be, aware, be, hopeful. And act toward making things better.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What exactly is, Big Horror by JZ Murdock? Well, I'll tell you.

Big Horror, huh? What in the world is that, you might ask?

I've had a few catch phrases since I started marketing my horror writings.
  • Big Horror
  • Author of the Macabre
  • Making my nightmares your reality
  • Epic Horror on a Galactic Scale (This refers to my book, Death of Heaven)

Epic Horror means it's very large, in this case lasting through a great deal if time; Galactic scale is merely punctuating that and with Death of Heaven, it really couldn't be more correct.

As an Author of the Macabre - I grew up loving horror and the classics. Scary tales told in stories, books and films from the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, most especially. The original Twilight Zone show affected me as a very young child in the late 1950s, early 60s.

Macabre is defined generally as: disturbing and horrifying because of involvement with or depiction of death and injury. Fear of whatever in a weird, unusual, or unexpected way. 

I like what feels fresh, what comes at you from odd angles. I've been told I do that very well and so I've earned the title.

In Making my nightmares your reality, I am obviously referring to taking horror stories from my imagination (and yes in some cases dreams and nightmares I've had) and putting them into a format that you can experience.

In my writings, which include screenplays, who knows what the future might bring. There is an interesting crossover between my screen and fiction writing. Sometimes you can see in writing a screenplay what you can't see in a prosaic story, and vice versa.

"Big Horror" simply put, means it's big.

Kind of self explanatory there, but I thought I'd explain my personal thought processes on this. Big, to me means either big in scope, or big in how it affects the character, and also hopefully, the reader.

Here's a few examples.
Cover by Marvin Hayes
In my short story, In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear (a standalone ebook, also in Anthology of Evil), a world renowned doctor tries to help his long time missing son's best friend from his childhood and college days. In that endeavor he ends up creating something that alters America and the world and not necessarily in a good way. It's a big concept that grows from a small thing involving a single individual or two.

It is big or epic in that it encompasses the world and also, at the end, is very personal and big to the reader and the character. Whether it serves its purpose in what I had intended, I leave that up to the reader. I've had responses from people to that story that go from yawns to people being very disturbed by it. In one case, a new acquaintance (sadly, unfamiliar with the world of horror fiction) read it and never talked to me again after that. Well, to each his (or her) own.

I believe the assumption was made that I thought how the main character though in the end of the story. A mistake people can make and one that actors especially go through in their careers when their acting skill makes a character so real to the public, that some start to think that actor and character are one in the same. It's the mark of a good or great actor (or a well played, very well written character) and I think, the sign of a very good, or great writer.

My book, Death of Heaven (video book trailer) is certainly epic in scope (and I will attempt to leave that to discovery through reading) because of what it encompasses in time, distance and story. It is the biggest thing I have ever written and possibly the biggest story (again regarding time and distance) that I may have ever read.

Because of that I have revised and re-released it this year (August 30th, 2014) after it's initial release in 2012. It is now a better read with the help of my editor (a new writing partnership at the time of starting the revision in 2013). It flows better now (a good editor is a great thing, you know), and it's even more intense. Some areas that needed "fleshing out" have now been fully realized.

That book is big or epic in scope but also because of the prequel that was written several decades ago. Andrew was a story that left my University Fiction Writing 101 class stunned and they all became fans that day. That was when I first started to realize I was onto something in my writing fiction and perhaps psychology (my major) was the wrong career direction.

That Professor in my first fiction writing class, sent me to the Theatre department for that next school quarter, to better my dialog skills in taking playwriting. That class led to my being asked to join a year long screenwriting class in a team environment of eight writers also carefully chosen from that playwriting class. An experience I enjoyed wholeheartedly and will simply never forget. And wouldn't mind repeating, albeit in a more compensated and professional fashion.

My editor and I are finally starting to revise that story that got the ball rolling, both on my writing career and on my book Death of Heaven. That short story has also grown into a novella over the years in tinkering with it. That is now dovetailed into the sequel to my screenplay Gray and Lover The Hearth Tales Incident (Semi-Finalist in the Circus Road Films Screenplay Contest, winner announced on December 1st), where both my book and the screenplay characters will meet up in a third, more tropical location.

If you want to read the original novella as it is now, it is the novella at the end of my collection of short stories, Anthology of Evil and is available as a standalone ebook. I am currently compiling a second collection of my short story (Anthology of Evil II, obviously), that I hope to put out perhaps next year. You can also see all my works available on my Amazon Author page.

Another story I see as Big or Epic is my "Poor Lord Ritchie" story (see Anthology of Evil; which I can now refer to as the Lord Ritchie stories as there is a new prequel version contained within an anthology I am included in along with other authors, called, Giant Tales - World of Pirates. It is a short story titled, Breaking On Cave Island.

I am also going to be showcased in another anthology soon called, Final Ships. It has my story, In The Shade. That is a story from Death of Heaven that is not included in that book. It is the story of a man in Florida who experiences what happens toward the end of Death of Heaven but has no idea what is going on. There are a few of those stories in the book, but I wrote the one especially for this anthology, after my book had been released. So you get a slightly different perspective on the events that unfold in my book.

I hope you will consider giving Death of Heaven, a try, as well as some of my other writings. I've read a lot of fiction in my life, and I've never seen anything myself, quite like it.

Also, please drop by to check out my writings on Wattpad. I have several finished on there and one now that I am writing and you can read as I write it, called, The Unwritten ("Life is what it seems. If you can just see where the seams are.").

This is a write and publish it now, kind of site. Then later I can go back over it and work on it some more. You can actually see how my mind thinks in writing a story; you can also see what I can do with a first draft (which I'm told is not bad and I'm from the school of NEVER show ANYONE  your first drafts). So this is a first. It has been unsettling to me, but also invigorating. And you can watch a book being written as it develops.

I got this idea from another author on Facebook, Louis Shalako. Drop by and check out his writings too. Who knows, maybe you'll pick up a few new good authors, and you can read there for free. Just download their app, read it on your phone from anywhere, and it will notify you when a new story part is published.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Isn't it all about the journey and not the destination?

Isn't it all about the journey and not simply the destination?

If nothing else it just makes sense, because we spend so much more time getting somewhere, than being somewhere. If you see what I mean. And if that's so, then why, WHY, do I work so hard to achieve a destination, just to...get there, to be there?

Why do I work so hard on things I don't want to work on, simply in order to achieve a destination?

I do things that I find difficult, things that force me to learn new things. Though I do love to learn, I find myself learning about things I really couldn't care less about. Like, marketing, since I'm a writer, when I really just want to write. But then understanding marketing, understanding your audience can actually enhance sales. Does it really enhance the quality of your writing, though?

Maybe. Maybe, not.

I don't really know why, why I do that.

I mean if it's all about the journey, if Life is about the moments and not the end point, the achievements, then why do it?

What am I doing, why am I doing this to myself?

Perhaps it's just that I'm looking at it all wrong? Perhaps, I'm simply incorrect?

So, what IS correct then? What SHOULD I be doing? Where AM I going and WHY am I going there?

I suspect it is because if life is really all about the journey, then that journey will select your destination for you, anyway. If you select the right journey, then you are selecting the destination you want to begin with. You just need desperately to want it, you need to be passionate about it.

Otherwise, why bother? Right?

I suspect that when you feel like you ARE trying to live the journey and yet, you feel you are only working on the destination, then IF you TRULY are working on the journey, what may be happening, what hopefully IS happening, is that you are "changing cars", "changing modes of transportation".

Look. If you go on a journey for a vacation, the entire thing is really about the journey. Even if you get to your destination and you only then begin that journey, then you are still on the journey. You do however have to realize that the journey in getting to the destination, where the journey is to begin, really is also a journey.

If you don't realize that, or see that this is indeed the case, then you are cutting half (or at the very least, a third) of the overall experience completely out of your available bank of possibilities.

Experience happens. It just, happens. You can't stop and start it, it is always just, occurring, all around you.

So why not enjoy it? Why not utilize that journey-that-isn't-the-journey before the destination, when the journey is actually only then supposed to begin?

Let's say you agree and decide to do that and yet, you realize that you are still dealing with the journey as if only the destination mattered.

Why is that? I mean, why do that?

I submit to you that this is the changing of cars, of modes of transportation.

When you go on that vacation, say you take a boat to Italy, you get your things packed at home. Then, let's say you take a taxi to the boat. You then load onto the boat, across a bridge, up a gangplank, whatever; you board the boat.

Then you ride the boat for days to your destination. You eventually depart the boat and head to your hotel. You unpack.

Finally, you are beginning your journey at your destination.

In taking that initial taxi to the boat, you are wondering to yourself, did I forget anything, do I have my tickets, wallet, credit cards, whatever? Because I don't want to get on that boat and have it drop its connections with the land and only then realize, I am going to be lost without that thing that I needed or wanted to bring along.

On that taxi ride I might ignore the driver. I might ignore the garbage truck we pass on the street, I might ignore the truck load of incredible oddities that drives by us. The beautiful park with the strange little parade will go unnoticed. The child who looks up at an adult on the sidewalk, the one who is being a complete ass who gets a childlike look that says it all about what an ass that adult is being. A look I might click to see a video of it on YouTube, or would even pay to see as it's just so damn funny. And I could have seen in in real life...for real...really.

The world is filled with these marvelous and amazing moments of life lessons and entertainment, with educational moments, with creative, with cathartic and artistic moments.

All these things you can miss, if you don't remember that when the journey to the destination begins, your destination is already there on the way to the journey's destination's journey.

So in the end and after all, it really is all about the journey. Right?

Now, to completely change the subject....
There is a signed horror book giveaway on the Horror Writers Association's Selfies site. There will be a lot of authors offering a free signed book.

Like Peter Straub's "A Dark Matter", for one.

And my own, "Death of Heaven", for another.

Best of luck! Cheers!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Quality in Life

Aside from the primary elements of this article, this touches on something we don't talk about much and I don't think about it half as much as I used to, when I was younger. I used to be much more concerned with the topic of quality in life, art and action.

It is now more intrinsic in my life and in my writing so I don't have the need to think much about it now than I did before, as I've come to some conclusions about it over time.

Things like, well... life, family, kids, bills, surviving, keeping one's head above water, These all replaced those seemingly more esoteric concerns of what Life is, what Perfection is, and just what is Quality? Where do they fit in the mired functionalism of living, as opposed to being, "alive"?

Or, Living as opposed to surviving, or merely existing.

Getting along, eating, paying bills to live (home, expenses, insurances, healthcare, licenses, permits, even vehicle license tabs, etc.), these all seemed to take over.

For me, the military (eventually making me more sensitive to the degree of their control over my life), and then after that the government in general, became very important in order to avoid falling under their heels.

Especially because of the culture I grew up and and lived through in my late teens, twenties and early thirty. College dampened those concerns for me about authority in my life for four years as I was living in its closeted and protected environment. Then later eventually, when I was making it as an individual, as a citizen, a husband and father, these things in my life took over.

Idealism seems to be one of the first victims of adulthood for many of us. Partially because it needs it's place and need not be the end all, be all of life, for us to survive. Idealism in some views is merely foolishness and an immature view of Life.

But in reality, not completely and it does after all and in the end, have its place. A very important place.

One does find a need to compromise in life, in order to make it. It is those who do not compromise, who we hear of, who we hold in highest esteem. Some of us have lost it completely, as life can crush you underfoot.

We do not have to compromise in some areas and music is one of those elementary forces in our lives where we simply don't have to compromise. We can be as elitist as we see fit, or necessary. Art and Literature are yet others. Cinema, is yet another.

And yet, does music mean as much to you now as it may once have as a teenager, or during your early twenties? Did you even truly understand Quality back then?

It is good to consider the smallest unit of things as times. The tiny, minuscule, the moments that "don't matter", the things that "aren't important". Moments, not minutes. A sound played just right, over that of a song. A look, over that of a time shared. To appreciate the look within the time shared and not just the over all time that was shared. "Sensate focus", over lovemaking.

We tend to see the macro over the micro, when many times it is the micro that is so important to us and we completely miss what is the wonder in an experience.

Much in life is about the journey, not the destination.

If you've lost those tiny things, they are still there for you to reclaim them. It is up to us to re-evaluate our lives from time to time and consider where we've been, where we are, and where we want to be heading in all aspects of our lives. Especially, in those we have full control over.

Here is one example: Jazz music. I know, I may have just lost many of you. Certainly those who dislike Jazz music. Still in Richard Brody's article (see link below), he talks of these things I mentioned above and I do believe they apply not just to Jazz, not just to music, or the arts, literature, or the cinema. But to life itself and, our very lives.

It's something to think about.

Richard Brody Lists His Perfect Jazz Recordings....

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.


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