A RANT…or something like it.

Excuse me while I gently let off a little steam….

People who know me know that it takes a lot for me to lose my temper. It does happen but not often enough to consider it a character flaw. When someone spouts a silly comment my way I normally resort to the Dude’s (The Big Lebowski) philosophy: “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man” and move on. But it’s time I set one, no…let’s make that two things straight. These two naggy little things pop up every so often and I need to put them to rest. I appreciate that I might be preaching to the choir on the second reason but I have to say it.

Number one reason for the rant: Retirement. Ah yes…retirement. I sit around all day with a box of bon-bons, a few glasses of wine, and a good sci-fi flick in the dvd player. That’s how many people see me in my retirement. Of course these are people who aren’t retired. I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten a bon-bon, I might have an occasional beer after mowing the lawn and unless there’s a major news story breaking my television sleeps during the day. My wife is a realtor and she spends many long hours away from the house so the daily upkeep falls on me. I actually enjoy the housekeeping chores but it can be a lot of work, not necessarily difficult labor but definitely time-consuming. There’s also that sense of accomplishment when you’ve finished scrubbing down the kitchen and polishing all that stainless steel. That would be the time for a congratulatory glass of wine.

Just because I’m retired doesn’t mean I’m not busy which leads me into reason number two…discipline.

I write, therefore I am. Okay that was cheesy but in a way true. I made a comment about how long it takes to properly maintain a blog (I admit I’m not all that good at it) and someone “inferred” that I need “discipline”. While it was just an off-hand comment it really got the hackles up. Most of the people that follow this blog are writers, thus the “preaching to the choir” comment. They know how much work and discipline it takes to write an average of 1800 words a day or edit that 115,000 word manuscript down to 85,000 words.

Everyone who works from home has to have discipline but those pursuing the creative arts (of any kind) have to have an extra measure. It would be so easy to turn on that television, cruise the internet, or simply take a nap. Y’know…just to recharge the creative energy. I would also suggest that many of you are like me and also fall into the category of writer and housewife/husband. We play out our lives jumping between the real world of dirty dishes, plugged toilets, and runny noses and our fantasy realm where we live vicariously through characters who exist only because we do what we do. I admit that I’d like to spend some time with some of my fictional characters…perhaps offer them a bon-bon or two and a glass of wine. Maybe we could curl up on the couch and catch a movie…but the dryer has stopped. Time to fold and file the underwear.

Those outside our world have no appreciation for the juggling acts that we sometimes have to perform. The conclusion of the workday is whatever time we finish doing what needs doing and sometimes that goes on well into the night. In the end we accomplish something that most of these naysayers will never accomplish. Whether through writing, art, or photography we have taken our thoughts, dreams and yes, the occasional nightmare from the abstract into a physical form that we share with anyone willing to join us.

If you don’t think that takes discipline…yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

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POT POURRI…3 Rs & a PS…

RECOGNITION: The other day a cute young girl was checking me out. I’d love to leave it at that but…she was behind a till and was actually checking out my groceries and no, “groceries” is not a euphemism. The woman in line behind me really was checking me out though. She stared at me for a minute or so then asked me if I was the guy who wrote that book about hippies. I thought it was pretty cool that she even recognized me let alone commented. I told her that I had written it and we ended up in a sweet little discussion about how much she enjoyed the story and in particular how much she loved Evan Morris, the lead character. She even has a copy of the newspaper article that was done for the launch that she keeps folded in the book. She bought her copy at the signing (which is probably why she kept the clipping) and has read it twice with the intention of reading it a third time. Even more cool was hearing her tell a couple of other people in line (and the cashier) what it was all about and how much she liked it. I, of course, just let her go on but I also made sure everyone in that line-up had one of my publishing cards. This is one of those little things that sometimes happen that really means a lot. Ah, the price of fame…warm fuzzies for me!!!

RETIREMENT: This was to be the subject of a previous blog but, like life, something else came up. It baffles me how I managed to get everything done around the house plus write White Wolf Moon while I was working. When I retired I figured that writing the new book and getting all the household chores done would be a breeze time-wise and I’d be able to spend a good deal of my life this way:DOIN

Not so. It seems the more time I have the less I get done. The house has reached an age where there are all kinds of niggly bits that need attention, much like me. Right now I’m learning how to patch and seal a deteriorating concrete pad in my back yard and even though eventually I’ll probably build a wooden deck to go over it, it still needs to be repaired. My first lesson learned…bags of cement are heavy. Yes I could pay someone to come in and do it all but I’m much like Evan Morris in this respect. I’d rather do it myself.

RECREATION: For a little diversion I like to rip my Twin Hammers RC truck over the rock pile and around the yard, usually while I’m waiting for the kitchen floor to dry. I went through at least thirty photos before I got the one below. All I wanted was to have the custom wolf motif in focus but the entire truck body being sharp and clear was a bonus.HAMM

P.S.: Finally a quick touch on the wolf issue, not as much the issue as the people involved. I have on a few occasions given my opinion of those not-so-nice anti-wolf folks and it’s time that I recognize the other side. My side.

Pro wolf people are generally some of the nicest people I have met, as much as you can meet people on-line. They are well-spoken and educated about their passion. Some are artists, poets, song-writers or photographers and are pretty damn creative when it comes to their work. They all seem to be down-home folks who are totally unique individually but as one in their love of nature. Oddly enough the traits and attitudes they possess oft times mirror those of the characters in White Wolf Moon so I suppose it’s no surprise that I identify with each of them in some way.

So to all my on-line wolf-luvvin’ buds…thank you. If you’re ever near Kamloops B.C. let’s do lunch…and maybe haul a little cement?

TITLE ME THIS….

I’ve had more than enough delays in getting this new manuscript together and just when I’m down to the last few pages before editing I find myself with another setback.

With “White Wolf Moon” I learned a lot of things. One of these was the problem with titles and/or author names when it comes to online searching. There’s a Michael Grant that writes a lot of books, mostly young adult, so I elected to go with “Mike Grant”. It’s still an issue when it comes to searches but a minor one that I can live with (as if I had a choice). But it’s surprising how many titles contain “White Wolf” or “Wolf Moon”.

My working title for the current project was “Of Old Men and Wolves”. Considering the content and the depth to which I dig into lifelong friends, relationships and wolves it seemed apropos. Today however I stumbled across “Of Wolves and Men” (which sounds like a great book BTW) by Barry Lopez and the hunt for a title is back on.

I don’t want the same search issues I had with “White Wolf Moon” which is why I’ve been steering away from the logical sequel titles that contain elements linked to the first book.

The title is obviously one of the most important parts of the process and while not many caught the double meaning of “White Wolf Moon” it did say what I wanted it to say. I also used a photograph for the cover that stood out as well. It is a morning river scene taken behind my house that was originally greens and earth tones but it was colorized blue to create a moonlit riverbank. I hope to use the unaltered original photo as the cover for the second book which would provide a not-so-subtle tie-in to the first.

RIVER02

But what text will adorn this cover? That’s the big question…again.

As I am the only one to know what this new book contains I should have a handle on what to call it. I thought I did. From the time I came up with “Of Old Men and Wolves” I loved the title and it made this book different from the other. Even though I’m using the same characters this manuscript felt new and different but thinking of it as the “sequel” again is tough. I think I’ll still call it “Of Old Men and Wolves” for now. I know there’s another perhaps more fitting series of words bouncing around in my head but I think I need to concentrate on finishing the inside pages first. I’m sure another title will come to me…hopefully sooner rather than later.

 

My Friend Flicker…

flick02After my stumbling block last week I’m finally back on track with some new writing but I promised Mary Ann I would post the above photo. I woke up one morning last summer to the most irritating sound of this critter pecking at the aluminum vent above my head. The photo is pretty much as it was taken, yes…the sky was that blue. Other than a slight crop and auto-level nothing has been done to it. Camera is a Fujifilm Finepix S1000.

Okay…back to work.

AUTHOR PHOTOGRAPH

For me one of the toughest things related to the publication of White Wolf Moon was the author photograph. In years past I had my own darkroom and studio and I still dabble in some experimental self-portraiture for the profile shots on my personal facebook page so I decided I should do my own shot for the book.

Takb

My author photograph (above) ended up being a more typical presentation than I would normally accept as a portrait but everything I had done previously just didn’t feel right.

I believe an author shot should also tie in with the content of the book. As my lead character is an ex-folksinger/writer from the sixties, I felt that the author photo should reflect this in some way. A lot of it is simply pose, attitude or location. The photograph can still be studio-done but with a bit of a flair that conveys the leaning of the book it represents. Nora Roberts is a pretty good example. As Nora her author photos lean toward the romantic with soft tones and simple backgrounds but as J.D. Robb she’s dressed in detective black against a cityscape of train stations and the like.

The photograph below is the one that I favored as capturing more of the ‘feel’ of Evan Morris but it didn’t translate well to black & white and the smaller size.

Taka

From a personal standpoint I still prefer this one but it’s not as “commercial” as the one I eventually used. Which one sells my character (or me) better? I don’t know. I have been strongly identified with Evan, most people saying that they see a lot of me in the character; that, in fact, I am Evan…but the character is based on someone else. Someone I knew in those days. Back then people used to say we were much alike. Neither of us could understand it but after writing (and especially reading) White Wolf Moon, I can now see the similarities. I also think he would have preferred the second photograph but he’d also acknowledge that the more commercial pose is still best for an author portrait, especially the first time around.

Like I said at the outset this was one of the toughest parts of the process but, based on the reaction and comments the photo has garnered, I’m almost sure I made the right decision.

Almost….

Paths….

Paths

Life’s journey.

Paths that lead to Evermore

Paths that twist and turn

Then not so surprisingly

Twist and turn some more.

The above photograph was taken in 2010 along the North Thompson River in Kamloops. This part of British Columbia was engulfed in forest fire smoke. The thick acrid blanket lay heavy everywhere but the light of the filtered morning sun created quite an ethereal scene. I didn’t think the little camera I take on my walks would be able to accurately capture the mood of the moment but it came pretty close. The air was warm and still, there was little noise, and the world was orange…it was like walking through an old master’s painting.

(Text from White Wolf Moon)  

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