Best-Selling Author

Here I am…the best-selling author of ‘White Wolf Moon’, ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’, and ‘Fergus’ struggling to come up with a topic for this blog posting.

Wait…‘best-selling author’? Yup, I can say that…if you take the sales pitch at face value. It’s simple. I am the best-selling author of those titles because nobody else has sold any other books with those titles…therefore I am the best-selling author (of those books).

This is one of those instances where the statement is actually true but deceivingly inaccurate. It’s all about interpretation isn’t it?

I can’t claim to be a best-selling author. That would just be wrong. But isn’t it just as wrong to include the three titles thereby justifying my claim? I think so. Knowing that most people would react to only the ‘best-selling’ part, makes me think about how little thought or research some people put into their reading. We’re in an age where we can instantly online search any item that pops up on our social media feeds but many folks choose to go with whatever they’ve been told. Is it too much work to verify that Hillary give birth to an alien baby on her secret state visit to Mexico? Okay, I made that up but if you take the word ‘alien’ out of that headline I’d bet the story would have gone viral in nanoseconds, which is how Mork from Ork would have described it.

I guess that’s the topic for this post. Research…check stuff out…do your homework.

That’s it, I’m done. I’m nothing if not succinct…and look at all the space I have left. How about a photo of a rose??

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Mike Grant is the author of three novels. “White Wolf Moon”, “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”, and “Fergus”. Visit his Amazon page to find out more.

And On the First Day…

After writing three books I’m familiar with the process of creating characters and controlling every move they make. I dictate every word they say and I decide if they live alone or are romantically involved. I choose their friends and pick out their wardrobe, their diet, and the car they drive. I also decide if they live or die. It’s a tremendous responsibility and one I try not to take too lightly but I have to admit that every so often I find myself muttering ‘without me you’d be nothing’ at the screen.

Characters are one thing, or a bunch of things I guess, but with this fourth book I’m not only creating characters but the place in which they live. The previous books were set in actual locations I know well, have visited, or could research easily. I decided this time I would create a fictional setting, a make-believe hamlet in central British Columbia that won’t require hours of fact-finding. That should be easy.

Not so fast Mister Gonzales.

The idea for the story was one of those ‘What if?’ moments. I had watched a nature show about snakes in swamps (no political undertones implied) and a few things piqued my interest, mostly the moody environment that the landscape presented. I decided that with a few modifications it would be a good setting for a tale but I had to find out if such a place could be located in British Columbia. That answer was easy…yes. There are quite a few areas that fall into the parameters but they were all further south than I wanted and creating a fictional world near an actual swamp also wasn’t what I wanted. So where did I want it to be? I found a spot that had all the geographical elements I needed but it would require a major natural event to create the geological base. After a little more research I discovered that such an event took place nearby in the early 1900s, about the time my little hamlet originally came into existence. Sometimes you just get lucky.

I already had a rough storyline so after confirming fault lines, geological data regarding rocks and minerals, possibility of railroad/lumber/mining activity, groundwater levels and a legitimate road/highway access I was ready to go.

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I’m 8,000 words into it and my original rough storyline, although serving me well over the first 3,500 words, has gone from dark and moody to a more light-hearted character-driven general fiction story. I’m actually okay with that (it’s my comfort zone) but I have challenged myself to stick with my original concept and blend two (or more) genres into one story.

It kind of like when Jenn McAvoy asked Evan Morris (White Wolf Moon) about a book he was writing:

“Are you thinking mystery, romance, horror, fantasy?”

“All of the above and with horses, pirates, intergalactic cruisers…I’m not genre-phobic.”

Hmmnnn…that sounds about right. Except for the pirates.

Mike Grant is the author of three novels. “White Wolf Moon”, “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”, and “Fergus”. Visit his Amazon page to find out more.

 

Catch You Later Pasta…

An item came across my facebook newsfeed a few months ago. I don’t remember who posted it and I must admit I didn’t give it much thought at the time. I’m thinking about it now.

I’ll have to paraphrase because I can’t remember exactly how it went but it suggested that when we pass on, and if you believe we go to heaven, the first greeters will be all the pets you shared a life with. I’d really like to believe that.

In my case it would be a pretty big crowd. From a mouse (not-too-creatively named ‘Mouse’) to a Boxer named ‘Mitzi’ to a Bunny named ‘Pasta’. Another rabbit…a big white Flemish Giant called (again, not-too-creatively) ‘Whitey’. Other dogs called ‘Lucky’, ‘Happy’, ‘Schultz’ and a couple and can’t remember. Cats…‘Hogan’, ‘Klink’, ‘Louie’, ‘Sunshine’, ‘Nicholas Thomas’ and again many names I can’t remember but I’m sure they’ll come back to me should I see them again. A Salamander who remained unnamed, hamsters, guinea pigs, and fish. So many.

I wish they’d all lived longer than me but we’d need a much bigger house.

I’m an emotional basket case when it comes to saying goodbye to pets. To those who say “it’s only a cat…or a rabbit”…well, I feel sorry for you. A pet, indeed any animal, is a life. Life is precious and special no matter what shape or form it is. To share that spark is also special. Pets don’t care if you’re funny-looking or overweight or in a bad mood or sad. They just want to be part of your life, to do what they do best. To make you feel good…and loved. And what do they want in return? Pretty much the same thing plus a full food dish.

It’s never easy losing a pet. Pasta initially went to live with my grandson on his birthday. Her name came when he asked my daughter to pass the bunny. Pasta bunny. Then their landlord decided that rabbits weren’t allowed in the building and she needed a new home. I would have nothing to do with her going to a stranger so she came into our lives. She has provided so much love and spark over the last nine years. She would sit with me and watch movies or hockey games, all the time snuggling against me and licking my hand. I grew incredibly fond of the furball.

Pasta 2013 001.jpgShe was the first pet that passed on in my arms. I felt the end was near and I picked her up and sat on the couch stroking her and chatting like we always did. She burrowed deep into my arms and after a few minutes I felt her twitch. She gave three last defiant kicks then lay still. At that instant it was like the life had gone out of me as well. I can’t explain the feeling. Sharing that last moment with her felt somehow right yet my eyes filled and my body trembled. I wonder how she felt. Did my being there holding her make it easier? I like to think it did. She was where she loved to be.

She had a good life. She received and gave so much love. But it’s still not easy. Feeding the two cats but not seeing Pasta run to me for her suppertime sprig of parsley feels so wrong. Hearing her at her water bottle in the middle of the night or having her come for her evening yogurt treat are little things that I will miss for a long time. I will miss the softness of her fur and the warmth of her against me and the little chatter noises she made when I skritched behind her ears.

For such a little furball she’s left a helluva big empty space here.

Mike Grant is the author of three novels. “White Wolf Moon”, “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”, and “Fergus”. Visit his Amazon page to find out more.

NEW WAVE?

I wrote the following nearly forty years ago. I’m not sure where I was going with it but like most of my writing from those olden times I must have had a premonition that one day I would look back and wonder. It is what made me look back that interests me.

I wish I could remember what blog I was reading recently that referred to the “new wave” of young indie-authors for I would certainly provide a link. It was one of those writings that, like jalapeno peppers, comes back and bites you long after consumption. I appreciate it when something that someone has created can do that. They plant a little seed in your mind and after sufficient germination the message blossoms and you realize that what was written has become a part of your thoughts. I would however hasten to add the word “current” to the term “new wave” because as far back as I can remember there has always been a new wave of sorts, whether in music, art, or writing. It also applies to science, technology and life in general. What was “cutting edge” a few years ago has long been forgotten, replaced by new ideas and products from new wave thinkers and designers.

Waves are like that. There’s always another one on the way.

The writer of the blog questioned why there seemed to be more of these new creative voices today than ever before. While I was surprised he didn’t provide the simple answer I considered that this might have been his way of making me think about the question. The internet has provided a platform and for good or bad anyone can now publish their message. Everyone has a voice and everyone has something to say.

All you have to do is listen.

I’m pleased to be a part of this community and who knows…one of my books might just be the one to ride it to shore. Like Brian Wilson said…catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.

Unicorn

Within the shadows, without the light, unicorns prance while pan-pipes lay a bed of hushed harmony.  Fragile butterflies flutter between stone turrets resting only briefly amid rich ivy as they flit their way across sunlit castle walls.

Within the light, without the shadows, there is honesty and truth. It is called ‘reality’.

Some say it needs no creative process to survive. Simply put, all that is experienced is all that there is. There are no unicorns.

Between realms there lies a better world. A delicate blend of truth and dreams where fabled creatures, when called upon, may exist. A mixture of warm imagination and cold reality. Sprinkles of hope and guidance spiced with seasoned knowledge and understanding. Gently stirred and mixed yet somehow keeping separate the shadow and the light. This delicate blend of truth and fantasy…of realists and dreamers. Each needs what is unique to the other. Reality requires the elasticity of imagination to stretch boundaries and expand horizons. Creativity needs reality to temper dreams into possibility. Without the other, each suffer.

Where once they sailed the ocean blue, today they sail through darkened space, one daring to dream and one daring to try. Together they have reached the stars.

Reality lasts a lifetime.

Unicorns…forever.

Mike Grant is the author of three novels. “White Wolf Moon”, “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”, and “Fergus”. Visit his Amazon page to find out more.

Londontoys…

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Pictured above is one of the most interesting pieces in my collection. Londontoy diecasts were produced in, where else, London Ontario between 1940 and 1949. During and immediately after World War Two these toy vehicles were manufactured with pressed paper wheels (due to the rubber shortage). I suspect this pick-up is a later model as it does have rubber wheels. That’s about as brief a history as I can pass along…the point is that this little truck is about as old as I am.

I found it sticking out of a pile of dirt beside a dumpster about fifteen years ago on one of my daily walks. After a quick clean-up (which included brushing out the bed of what appeared to be the same fowl residue we used to have on the floor of our chicken coop back when I lived on a farm) it took an honored space on my shelves. I had considered doing a repaint but there’s something about the wear-and-tear that says “don’t even think about it”. It has character and a story. The well-worn wheels lean and wobble and don’t roll much anymore. In that aspect they’re much like me. There are also what appear to be seven BB dents in the bed and cab but without a ballistics analysis I can’t be 100% certain what caused them.

As far as monetary value goes it isn’t worth much but, as some folks say, it ain’t about the money. In its own way this little beaten-up truck is a part of history. If not the history of a nation certainly the history of the individuals who have owned it since the 1940s.

I look at it and wonder where it has been and who has held it. Was it a cherished Christmas present when it was new and straight from the factory with that glistening bright orange paint? Odds are you only received one or two presents back then so this little truck would have been pretty special. Toys in those days were far more valued than they are today.

Was it handed down to a sibling or given to a friend? How many young lads have played with this truck? Where did they live? Where are they now? Do they ever wonder what happened to the little orange truck they had when they were a kid?

I sometimes wonder what happened to my old toys.

My dad was in the army and we lived in Warminster, England when I was about six or seven. I used to get the Dinky military vehicles for presents and I’d save my pocket money to buy any others that I could. The last time I saw them they were in a sandbox beside the path in our back yard. I’m managing to find some replacements for them now but it isn’t the same. How many pairs of hands have played with those toys since I had them? Did they look after them like I did? I like to think that they ended up on the shelves of an appreciative collector somewhere…much the same as this little orange truck.

ltoy05s.jpgMike Grant is the author of three novels. Visit his Amazon page to find out more.

The Stories Thus Far:

WHITE WOLF MOON:

smallwwm180“White Wolf Moon” is a character-driven story set in Kamloops, British Columbia. Seen through the eyes of a twenty-year-old journalism student (Jennifer MacAvoy) and a sixty-something poet/songwriter (Evan Morris) it takes a lighthearted approach to the philosophies and realities of the Sixties through serious interviews and wonderfully off-the-wall dialogue.

Evan had departed the music scene almost as quickly as he had arrived and now lives a reclusive life with his wife Marie and Ginn, his white wolfdog. Jennifer wanted to find out why. At first terrified by his gruff demeanor she gradually peels away the façade. By sifting through his philosophical banter she unravels his story to discover that she is unwittingly a part of his secret. With her research now overshadowed by a more personal journey Jenn copes with the unnerving realization that she herself has been drawn into his world and heart.

A get-together involving friends from Evan’s past (including his now-wife meeting his then-girlfriend) sets the scene and proves that sixty-something, like the Sixties, is just a state of mind.

As a side note some scenes depicted in this novel are based on personal experiences from those bygone days. I shall, however, leave up to the reader to decide which ones they might be.

 

BARKING AT YESTERDAY’S MOON:

smallbark180In this sequel* to “White Wolf Moon” the usual suspects are at it again. Evan Morris and Danny Mann feature prominently in one misadventure after another. Evan’s confrontation with a rifle-toting hillbilly while researching the background of Ginn, his white wolfdog, sets off a week packed with uncharacteristic behavior for the sixty-something ex-folk singer, from vandalizing a teen-ager’s car to a brush with the law in Edmonton, Alberta. These needed and often comedic contrasts to his staid life are overshadowed by the death of another former band member from the Sixties.

At the celebration of life “muck-up” Evan grapples with thoughts of a life that might have been and treads a trail of rediscovery with more questions than answers.

“Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” is about relationships and friendships that last forever, old rock and roll bands and a musician’s life on the road. It’s about finding that balance between what was and what is and realizing that it’s what we’ve done that makes us what we are.

*Every effort has been made to allow this novel to stand alone. The chapter ‘Jenn’s Story’ briefly recounts the contents of “White Wolf Moon” and any references to that first book have been clarified in the narrative or dialogue.

 

FERGUS:

smallfergus180“Fergus” is a definite dark departure from the first two books although he is a character in “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”. I wanted to pursue how he got the way he is and that’s why this book took a lot longer than I expected. The research was the tough part.

Due to a bus accident Fergus suffered damage to the Broca (speech) area of the brain causing communication difficulties. While the rest of his brain seemed to function normally his inability to communicate his thoughts succinctly coupled with the frustration of always being misjudged gave Fergus the outward appearance of a boy burdened with much greater challenges.

Fergus also suffers vivid ‘false awakenings’ and is occasionally overwhelmed by the confusion of not knowing what is dream and what is reality. Other issues include his brother telling him horrific bedtime stories (the shovel-wielding murderous Jimmyman), no longer being accepted in his school social circle, and people insisting that the creative introvert ‘man up’ from the time he was six.

As an adult he tries to find peace within memories of a younger Fergus. Thoughts of his sister Annalee and his mother Hannah soothe the conflict in his mind but a deeper darkness remains inside. Sometimes Fergus’s fertile imagination and delicate psychological balance combine to blur the line between reality and bedtime tales and sometimes the Jimmyman crosses that line.

My Amazon Author page

Naïve? Me? Okay….

More important than what the writer puts into the words is what the reader takes out of those words. I’m paraphrasing something I said to one of my English teachers oh so long ago. She congratulated me on an astute observation and I must confess I’m also pretty impressed at my insight at that age although I’m not sure if I came up with it or I read it somewhere.

I suppose it doesn’t matter. The point is valid. A writer can spend months putting together a manuscript, tweaking and doctoring every word, but if the reader doesn’t ‘get it’ then it’s all for nought.

I read sci-fi, in particular the ‘Alien’ and ‘Predator’ novels. I have two bookshelves full of the stories and mostly I find them easy, enjoyable, and well-written. There are a couple of authors however that try to take them to a higher literary level and while I basically have no problem with this I find that having to consult a dictionary to understand some of the words takes away from my enjoyment of the story. Know your market folks.

When I released my first novel ‘White Wolf Moon’ I sold a copy to one of the regular customers of the bookshop where I was employed at the time. She came back a few days later and commented that the book was funny and entertaining which is really all I could ask for. Then she smiled and said that there aren’t many ‘naïve’ authors that can put a story together that flows that well. I can’t remember my response but I imagine it was a slightly sarcastic ‘gee thanks!’

I later found the same reference to Richard Brautigan and I no longer felt insulted.

Like naïve artists, naïve writers are the naturals of their craft. They understand their world and are able to translate that world into an understandable concrete form, creating their visions while appearing innocent of the rules and mechanics.

Basically they either don’t know the rules or they do know them and break them.

When it comes to writing I must confess I don’t know all the rules but I do know a lot of them. Yes I am aware I break some of them and I will also admit there are probably a few I unwittingly break. But…

Wait…let’s talk about ‘but’ for a moment. It used to be that you never started a sentence with the word ‘but’.

But it’s accepted these days…as a conjunction used to coordinate two independent clauses.

But enough about ‘but’.

Unfortunately I’ve forgotten what my second independent clause was going to be which is just as well. It’s time to refresh everything I’m doing (starting with the header pic above) so I shall end this now and get back to working on some changes for this blog and my facebook pages.

Until next time…happy trails.

https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B0143ZI4W8?ref_=pe_1724030_132998070&redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

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