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.

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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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WELL HELLO THERE….

…my it’s been a long, long time.

With due credit to Willie…ain’t it funny how time slips away? It’s frightening to think that eight months have passed since my last blog entry. It just doesn’t seem that long. Politically a lot has happened…North Korea, Iran, Border controversy and all but I try to stay away from politics unless it’s Canadian. There’s not much to write about on that front these days. Seems everybody dislikes the current Prime Minister about as much as they disliked the previous dude-in-charge but that is and will always be the case. You just can’t please anybody these days.

Most of my time since my last post has been taken up with my new novel.cover ebook3

‘Fergus’ is a definite departure from the first two books although he is a side-line character in ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’. I wanted to understand how he got the way he is and that’s why this book took a lot longer than 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. My research revealed that, while the rest of his brain might function normally, personality disorders can arise due to the frustration brought about by the inability to communicate succinctly.

Fergus also suffers vivid ‘false awakenings’ (dreaming you are awake but are still asleep) and sometimes the confusion of not knowing what is a dream and what isn’t becomes overwhelming.

Other issues involve suddenly not belonging in his school social circle, an uncle urging him to ‘man up’ from the time he was six, and his brother Lucas telling him horrific bedtime stories (The Jimmyman). Fergus’s fertile imagination and his delicate psychological balance sometimes combine to blur the line between fact and those bedtime tales.

It all goes together to create what appears to be a simple sympathetic personality but in reality is deep and dangerous.

And there we have it…my return to blogdom with a little shameless book promotion, which is kind of what it’s all about.

Here’s the link to my Amazon Author page:

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

 

 

 

FOUR CHARACTERS & VANILLA PUDDING

I’ve been working on a manuscript for nearly a year. It’s been a troubling experience and I don’t know why it’s proving so difficult although I have a couple of thoughts. One…it’s so different than anything I have ever written. I like light writing. Both previous books have been light with a just a pinch of serious seasoning. The one I’m trying to complete is precisely the opposite. Overall I’m happy but it is so dark in places that I sometimes don’t want to go there. I read the words but they don’t sound like me and although I think I did well I’m not comfortable with how it sounds. This is, I think, my second reason for having so much difficulty. I’m not me and a Snickers ain’t gonna help.

So, to take respite from my woeful endeavors, I opened up a few of my old starter files and discovered a whole new world, most of which I’d forgotten. The people that inhabit this place are just as new but they feel like old friends. The story-lines are interesting but undeveloped.

That’s where the four characters come in. They’re of the new but familiar kind of people and totally unrelated to my main writing project. They’re fresh and eager to be drawn out and I sense some gold just below the surface.

As I roughed out a bit of an introduction and an opening scene to this new project I found myself enjoying writing more than I have in months. It’s been almost a chore to sit at the keyboard as my lack of blog posting indicates. With each of these characters I can draw on my life’s experiences from my days in radio broadcasting to bookselling and everything in-between. I guess it goes back to writing what you know.

I’m not done with my current manuscript and it will be completed but I think it’s time for a vacation with four new friends that will let my imagination run wild.

I see a part of me in each of them and I’m anxious to throw them into situations that will bring out the best in them and hopefully serve up some old time philosophies and humor to boot. I’m intending this to be more like the first two books with different characters and perhaps a little mystery-solving thrown in to give them the stage.

A quick tease, which apparently I’m supposed to include in a blog, is vanilla pudding. It’s the first befuddlement of Ned, the personality I most identify with. He and I both feel that vanilla is the boring aunt of the pudding family, the smelly one you put up with because she’s rich and makes good cookies. It’s nice (and serves the purpose somewhat) but given their choice most people would move on to chocolate or butterscotch pudding. In the annals of dessert warfare vanilla is always the pudding left behind. Vanilla would say ‘You go on without me and save yourselves’ and the other puddings would go on without him and save themselves because vanilla was…well, vanilla.

Ah yes…there’s a certain comfort in writing about vanilla pudding.

SPACE

It’s all around us. There’s nothing in it or to it and, if left uninterrupted, it goes on forever. That’s why they call it space. You can’t see it of course but if you go straight up until you get past the birds and the blue and arrive at nothing…that’s it. The final frontier.

Space on terra firma has become a rather intimate thing. Everybody has their own space and some folks can get a tad cranky if they feel that you have somehow trespassed on their space. The problem is that it’s not exactly clear to me how far this space extends from the body. A foot, two feet…or is it metric space? Is it like a big round invisible bubble or is it a concise shape cut parallel to my dimensions? Does it follow the contours of my ins and outs (mostly outs these days) or does it plot a random course around my 70 year old celestial body? Do bigger people get more space than little people? If so then I don’t think that’s fair. We’re all created equal (or so I’ve heard) so we should each get the same amount of space. If some people want to fill it up with more of themselves then that’s their business.

So many, many questions…

If it’s a really hot day does my space expand? On a cold day does it shrivel up and become inner-space? When I lie down where does the behind me space go? Does it compress or just sort of squirt out the sides? If I go into a really small room does all of my space fit in there with me or is some of it still outside the door? If I sit in a movie theatre does my space and the space of the guy beside me overlap and intermingle? Actually that’s a rather disgusting thought.

Of course back in the sixties I was in a different space. It was a groovy space. It replaced my neato space of the fifties and paved the path for my polyester space of the seventies. The eighties saw the downsizing of my space due to kids arriving on the scene. It’s amazing how tiny creatures such as newborns can fill up what was once a vast space. But as a new parent I didn’t have any real space to call my own…except in the bathroom. That’s the last bastion of solitude for a dad. Nobody messed with my space when I took it into the bathroom.

That was so long ago. Now they’ve all gone on to their own universes and I have my space back.

It’s funny though…it doesn’t feel the same. The space continuum has been disturbed. Of course there are times when the kids and grandkids come by and play space invaders and that’s fine. Unlike the guy next to me in the theatre these space cadets are welcomed. I also know they’ve booked a return flight. Their mission ends at bedtime. That’s when I can return to my own space. Everybody needs someone in their space but everybody needs a little space to themselves sometimes.

It’s all about balance.

TRUMP….(sorry, I just have to)

I give up.

I generally avoid discussing politics either here or on social media but this time around I decided to test my toe in that turbulent torrent of turbidity. There’s an obvious target of course but writing about Donald Trump is akin to composing an unfinished symphony. I have drafted three posts but before I get them to the polishing stage Mr. Trump throws another sack of fodder into the trough. Honestly, it’s just too damn repetitive, silly, and depressing to pursue with any amount of enthusiasm. Add ‘easy’ to that list.

Coupled with President T’s confusing rhetoric is the influx of ‘fake’ news sites. These digital Enquirers pander to those who don’t have the wherewithal to spend a few moments researching real news. If you go by what you hear, even from some members of your own online circle, every news organization is fake or politically motivated. Even here in Canada news outlets from the CBC and CTV/ATV to my local paper present fake news or are bought and paid for by political parties…according to my catalogue of online friends. After careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that if the media doesn’t mate with your narrative then it is the media that is wrong.

Opinions are fine. I love opinions. That’s what this blog is. An opinion.

Opinions, however, are not always totally factual. An op-ed may be based on black and white fact but can easily be colored by the simple inclusion of the author’s opinion and sometimes separating the two can be difficult. That’s why we have to research.

As far as Mr. Trump is concerned I have to resort to my first line…I give up.

Following is the original blog I started two weeks ago. It’s a bit of a rant but I haven’t done that for a while so….

I tend to judge stories and comments based on presentation as much as content. If someone makes a point clearly and it sounds like they know what they’re talking about I’ll pay attention and often research what they have said. When it comes to Trump I usually don’t waste the time checking. When he uses phrases like “The CIA ‘are’…” I can forgive him. Fundamental English doesn’t build golden vanity towers I guess. When my grandchildren can spell better than he…well, I suppose I could blame the education system although I suspect he just didn’t pay attention. When he points to his head and says “Believe me, I’m really smart”…who is he trying to convince? If he was smart he would hire a communications secretary to look after his social media and try to keep him on track (or quiet) when there are cameras around. When he has to tweet that he is in charge…again, who is he trying to convince?

He has had many opportunities to correct the impression he made during the campaign. Instead he has taken every opportunity to show the world how self-obsessed he is. At a wall commemorating CIA members who gave the ultimate sacrifice once again he managed to make it all about himself. In his own words on video or Twitter he likened the same agency to Nazis yet it was ‘the enemy’, that ‘corrupt media’, that twisted his words. You said it Donald…on the internet and on camera. It doesn’t disappear because you delete or refute it.

When he can make a statement in a live, uncut interview then turn around and deny saying it, blaming the ‘dishonest media’ for taking something out of context or misinterpreting what he had to say, I know it’s only bull residue. When he can ‘tweet’ in the morning then six hours later unequivocally state that he never said it then, to my mind, there is a problem.

But, like it or not, Trump is the president. It’s as simple as that. I respect the position as I respect the position of Prime Minister of Canada. It’s unfortunate that the office and the person holding that office become one and the same. I’ve distantly dabbled in American politics since Eisenhower (yes, I’m that old) and I can’t recall any president disrespecting the position as much as Trump has. I’m sure presidents from JFK to Obama (and especially Nixon) dropped a few f-bombs in the privacy of the White House but they never did it live on national television.

Yet he was elected. What does this say about those who voted for him? That’s a question I won’t even try to answer. I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next four years and all those people tossing their comments around don’t know either. We can speculate but all the speculation in the world won’t alter what destiny has in store for not only America but the world.

He and his family all proudly state that Trump is the voice of the ‘common man’, Donald Jr. even commenting that his father was more blue-collar than the ‘average’ man. They’ve stepped on enough common men on their way up that I suppose they know what they’re talking about. Trump Sr. also declares that he’s building a cabinet of folks who understand ‘the common man’. Uh huh. Other than Mad Dog I’m not sure any of these people have ever experienced a ‘common’ lifestyle. To paraphrase…he drained the swamp and now he’s up to his ass in new alligators.

Some say ‘give him a chance…it’s early’. To a degree I agree although he was elected in November 2016. He’s had enough time to start acting presidential…to show respect for the office and the people. He’s had plenty of time to take off the campaign mask and show the kind of president he will be but he hasn’t…or has he?

If Trump can set up a government as transparent as he is then it could be an interesting four years but I doubt this will happen. He’s already backtracking on his promises. That bright light across America that you can see from space is the lightbulb coming on in the collective mind of his supporters.

 

MIND CLUTTER…..

My last blog referenced ‘mind clutter’ and this seems to be a good place to start.

It’s been three months since I posted and much of that time has been spent trying to figure out what to post. The purpose of this blog was to promote my books (both of which are still selling…thank you) but in researching reaction to my previous blogs there’s really no distinct pattern favoring any individual topic. My ramblings on wolves, books, music, renovations or shoes all seem to gather the same amount of interest which, in itself, is interesting.

So, with a quick reminder to check out my books on Amazon, let’s do some rambling and perhaps de-clutter a little.

I have a third book, perhaps three-quarters finished. I love everything about the story and the characters but I can’t seem to find the drive to finish it. Unlike the first two books which were loosely based on personal experience this one is total fiction and slips into areas requiring me to forsake my comfortable place and explore the inner thoughts and external emotions of characters with which I have trouble identifying.

Once I sit down and open the file I’m okay. I consider it a challenge to see a life, albeit fictional, through different eyes. I re-read what I have written and I like what I have done so far. I pick up where I left off and new words come easily but while I know where I want the story to go I have trouble driving it there. It seems every sentence or line of dialog I type takes me into a different direction, usually away from the intended conclusion.

There have been many times I’ve relegated this manuscript to the back burner and worked on a couple of different ideas but I’ve gone so far with this one that I feel the need to finish it. I suppose I have put undue pressure on myself as I made the mistake of hinting at the final outcome of the story in the first chapter. Eliminating that subtle spoiler at the beginning is a possibility but with 51,444 words already laid down the idea of going back through them all to correct any references to the original ending only serves up more pressure.

An unfinished story is a ghost that will never be set free until that final ‘save’. It just lies in wait somewhere in the furthest reaches of your mind, taunting and teasing until it commands your undivided attention. You could be sitting in a food court sipping a coffee when you realize that the person at the next table looks like your main character or you’ll hear someone talking and you’ll think ‘hey that’s something Corbin Wessler would say’. That’s the story beckoning, its spirit reaching through the mush and mayhem of conscious thought demanding to be noticed, insistent on the peace that only completion will bring.

Thank you for bearing with my venting. Oddly enough it has served to make me realize that I have to accept my self-declared challenge and buckle down to exorcise this demon.