NOO SHOOS/AULD FEATS

Shoe shopping is probably my least favorite activity. I’m a casual sneaker-type guy and in the old days my only decision was black or white. Now they have shoes for walking, running, climbing, gardening, cooking chili, washing dogs…but I have already digressed. That’s the problem with not writing a blog for months. I’ve been on a bit of a sabbatical although I’m not really sure why. Life is good, cluttered and confusing but good. Maybe I just needed to step back and appreciate the clutter and confusion. That’s as good an excuse as any I suppose. Yup…I’ll go with that.

Back to my shoes. When I needed to replace my usually beaten-to-a-pulp footwear I’d go and stand in front of the racks hoping that a pair would jump out at me (yes they have jumping shoes too). The type of shoe that has never jumped out at me is the kind I bought a few weeks ago. Whenever I saw this style I used to think ‘oh, old guy shoes’ and passed them over but this time I thought ‘gee, they’re neat’ and bought them. The fact that I thought they were ‘neat’ kind of spells out where I’m going with this.

I bought ‘old guy’ shoes because I’m ringing the doorbell on 70 Sunset Lane. I’m an old guy.

I still don’t put a lot of stock in age although lately it’s been on my mind a little more. The underlying theme of ‘White Wolf Moon’ was a man trying to rekindle his youth on the premise that within his sixty-plus body lived every age from birth until now. I still believe that’s true although some of my teen years have thankfully found a good hiding spot (down by my spleen I think…but I shan’t go looking). It’s all about attitude. ‘You’re as young as you feel’ comes to mind but it’s more than that.

Physically there’s no going back. Too much water under the bridge or, in my case, beer under the belt. Lines of life, scars of experience, and pounds of Papa burgers gift wrap the essence of my being.

Mentally, however, one can take a break and look at life the way one looked at life ‘back then’. It’s not all that difficult but it’s also a bit of an education. Remembering times before computers and zillion channel television packages can be both funny and frightening but with the right outlook you can put things into perspective. Looking at today through the same eyes I had as a twenty-year-old I realize I haven’t really changed but everything around me has. Technology is a long, straight endless highway but life is a traffic circle.

The most damning evidence of my circle? Yup…the shoes.

At twenty I wore moccasins a lot. Leather moccasins laced together with a bow on top.

What goes around….

Mike Grant has two published books: White Wolf Moon and Barking at Yesterday’s Moon. Both available on Amazon.

 

COVER UP…..

….actually the insides are up too…finally! ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’ is now available on Amazon as a trade paperback.

It’s been a learning experience but I’ve figured out what NOT to do the next time around. I’ve learned that the most important three words in writing are proof, proof, proof. When I got the initial download I immediately checked for those nagging formatting errors and found quite a few. Pages containing only two words, justified lines with far too much space between the words or blank pages where the ‘page-breaks’ were too close to the bottom of the previous page…fun stuff like that. While going through this process I discovered a few errors not related to the formatting and changed those. The second time through I was looking for those little mistakes and found three, one of which made me shudder. It was the use of “your” instead of “you’re” which is one of those things that drive me nuts, like “their” and “they’re”. Such simple mistakes but such unallowable mistakes. I found nothing on the third proofing but did a fourth anyway. The lesson to me was to do the proofing in a different format than the full page Word document. Switching the text to the format in which it will appear gives a different perspective and it’s surprising what it reveals. While I still have to select a portion of ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’ to use as a preview I consider the final upload to Amazon a bit of an accomplishment.

With this part behind me I’ve returned to a manuscript I worked with for a few months, one I really wasn’t fussy about originally. Perhaps it was the time I spent away from it while putting this one to bed but I’m feeling better about it now. I can see so many possibilities and directions and I’m looking forward to diving back into it.

For now though I’m getting caught up on blogs and facebook…and maybe a little yardwork.

STOP THE WORLD….

Time to clear the air….
I’m not responding to a lot of facebook posts anymore. Simply because…
I’m tired of conspiracy theorists.
I’m tired of hearing how Canada as we know it is doomed under Trudeau. Let’s get real here. It wouldn’t have mattered who got elected the gloom and doom crowd would have been tossing their uneducated prophecies ad nauseum anyway.
I’m tired of fifteen year old photographs/stories showing up as current fact even though they have been proven to be hoaxes for at least a decade. Check the facts before you post.
I’m tired of the assumption that if I respond negatively to a story then I’m anti-something. Other than Macaulay Culkin and aforementioned conspiracy theorists I don’t dislike anyone. If I choose to not ‘like’ your comments it has nothing to do with your religion, social status, sexual preferences or race. It’s simply because I don’t agree with your comment. If you have a problem with me not falling in line behind you then…like I said, it’s your problem.
I recently ‘unfriended’ someone because of our different views regarding one of his posts. It was regarding recruitment to form a march on the Alberta Legislature to protest the NDP Government. Let me tell you up front I’m a child of the Sixties and I am all for peaceful protest and, if I felt strongly enough about an issue, I would join the sit-in, signs and all. In this case, for me, there was a lot to be wary of. First the photograph of a flag-waving man atop an excavator posed rebelliously against a bright blue sky. Then comes the text containing a list of “I love my:”s…everything from oil sands to farming, guns to freedom. The way I see it trying to encourage a ‘peaceful’ demonstration yet feeling the need to throw ‘guns’ in there is somewhat counter-productive but it is the ‘freedom’ part that really sticks with me. The fact that we have the freedom to gather on the government’s doorstep and protest is a freedom not granted in many countries around this world. You HAVE your freedom and it was that freedom you expressed when you voted that party into office. You also have the freedom to vote them out and if you want to peacefully protest everything they do until you can kick them to the curb then go for it. When I read the original post I went back through the comments from the Bundy camp in Oregon and everything from content to presentation was eerily similar and I stated that in my response. I did receive the expected pro-Bundy style responses but then my comment was deleted. It appears the poster didn’t like being compared to the home grown terrorists on the other side of the border. The original post remained however so I have to assume he supports this type of thing. I don’t support it so I ‘unfriended’ someone for the first time in all the years I have been on facebook.
In the old days (yes I hate those words too but in this case it fits) if anyone managed to get a public forum it was through recognized media and they were required to adhere to certain standards but thanks to the internet anyone can now have their moment in the spotlight. Generally this is a good thing but as this forum also provides a stage for the wack-a-doos it is up to the reader to investigate what you see and read.
A couple of years back a fellow by the name of Bill Schoel posted on a wildlife site regarding the BC government’s policy of aerial-gunning down wolves and how it was a necessity because (according to the writer) a friend of his had seen his dogs torn apart by a pack of wolves in downtown Kamloops, BC. Coincidentally I live in Kamloops and I’m pretty sure I would have heard about this incident. Further investigation revealed that Bill lives in Maryland and continually posts idiotic comments to stir the flames. There are a lot of people like Bill who post under false names or simply anonymously to fill some sort of void in their lives but it’s when you see the responses these posts get you realize how easily unthinking people get wrapped up in stuff like this. If I remember correctly a dozen or so hunters responded that they were ready to camp out in Kamloops to gun down those vermin. A simple search of the local news outlets online would have proven the story false and they wouldn’t have looked like the idiots they most certainly are.
Memes falsely accredited to famous people, altered photographs, misleading headlines, totally laughable conspiracy theories, sponsored comments, and outright fiction is flooding social media and it now becomes the responsibility of the reader to validate everything before accepting anything these days.
If you believe that the government is spraying chemicals in the air to ‘dumb-down’ the public then fine. I think it’s simply that through social media the dumbed-down segment of the public that has always been there now has an unfiltered voice and a built-in audience that, back in the days of responsible journalism, would have remained silent.
Off my soapbox now.
I have been scarce on both this blog and the facebook pages lately due to a few things but mostly I’m working on a third book (which isn’t going as well as the first two) and the finalizing of the second book. I’m on the third read-through of the print-proof of ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’ and it should be uploaded in a few days. It is available as an ebook on Amazon.
To those whose blogs I usually follow on a regular basis I apologize for my absence but hopefully I can get back into the rhythm soon…although as Evan Morris says in “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”:
“Things change and the sooner you realize that life isn’t perfect…that everything isn’t going to magically fall into place when you get all those ducks in a row the better off you’ll be. Every step we take in life has its own trials and tribulations. After we get those sorted out we take that next step and…more wandering ducks.”

 

RENOVATIONS….

I had decided that it was time to make some changes in this blog, beginning with a new name. This was the worst place to start. I’ve spent hours playing with ideas and trying to come up with that ‘just right’ title but “White Wolf Moon” has been a part of me for so long I feel like a traitor even considering anything else. It has meant so much to me over the last four years. So many highlights of my life have been rooted in this book and so many fond memories. Book signings and media interviews fed this aging ego somewhat as did the first time I googled the title and my name then found both mentioned all across the globe. The arrival of those hard copies and the excitement of opening that first box was another highlight. Add to this the fact that the book was a semi-biographical novel based on real people and some real events of my earlier days and the decision became easy. So many warm memories live on those pages and so much pleasure has been brought to me by the book itself that I just can’t bring myself to replace it as the title for this blog. So I won’t.

I’m approaching this as if I was renovating an old house. The exterior is fine and simply needs a tweak or two but the interior will be upgraded and changed to suit my needs.

Originally this page was meant only to promote my books and it has served me well in that regard. As time goes by it becomes more difficult to come up with posts about these books and I want to expand the content. As you probably know I occasionally write about the wolf issue or just ramble on about odds and ends, mostly because I feel the need to post something after an extended absence. I intend to broaden the scope to include a more diverse content and share the ideas of the people I follow. So many writers, artists, photographers, wildlife supporters, collectors…the list goes on. I have also been remiss in supporting those that follow and support me and for that I apologize.

Some have been with me since the beginning, others only recently. These people have encouraged me and taught me so much and I am grateful. Some have re-blogged my posts and promoted my work or offered much needed advice and understanding when things weren’t going quite the way they should. Again, I am grateful.

I have never really explored the power of the blog and it may take some time to get all of this worked out but then what’s life without a challenge or two?

This time around I’d like to introduce you to a couple of special ladies who have encouraged and supported me from the start…

https://jpmclean1.wordpress.com/

https://redclayandroses1.wordpress.com/

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BARKING AT YESTERDAY’S MOON

We all do it. In moments of quiet reflection our thoughts drift to a time when life wasn’t quite so complicated and we were younger. It doesn’t take much to rekindle the flame. An old song or perhaps something as subtle as a scent can send the mind wandering. Sometimes it’s just a flash thought, an image of someone we used to know. They appear in our mind then just as quickly disappear leaving us to wonder “whatever became of…”. Our wondering returns us to that place so long away and so far ago. We can visit and view through rose-colored specs but that’s about all. We can wonder “what if” until the proverbial cows come home but we can’t do anything about it. Besides “what is” will trump “what if” all life long and with all its ups and downs “what is” is always going to be what will be.

“The sooner we realize that life isn’t perfect…that everything isn’t going to magically fall into place after we get all those ducks in a row the better off we are. Every step we take in life has its own trials and tribulations. When we’ve finally sorted them through we take that next step and…more scattered ducks.”

The above is a quote from the sequel to “White Wolf Moon”, a sequel that finally has a title and a rough cover design:

sbarkingcvr2

Like “White Wolf Moon” the title for the sequel jumped out at me while reading something I had already written. I’d included the line in a conversation between two of the characters months ago:

Danny put his hands behind his head, stretched his legs over Ginn and stared into the darkness. “You remember when we used to do this up at the ranch?”

“No more Danny, I’ve wasted far too much time barking at yesterday’s moon.”

“That sounds like the start of a great lyric.”

“It does doesn’t it?” Evan took a deliberate, thoughtful draw on the pipe then let the smoke drift lazily from his lips. “Although I think Ozzy might have something to say about it.”

As soon as I read that line I knew it suited the overall content perfectly. It encompasses the ‘feel’ of the story as Evan visits old thoughts and dreams emotionally as well as old neighborhoods and environments physically. The “moon” reference in both titles ties them together and the cover uses the same photograph minus the blue tint that I used on White Wolf Moon. Perfect for a sequel!

There’s also an inherent problem with writing a sequel. For those who have read “White Wolf Moon” there is little need to introduce the characters or their past/current relationships or adventures. These readers would accept references to the first book without confusion but I also have to be mindful that there might be people who assume that “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” could be a stand-alone. This has been one of the major stumbling blocks as I have had to make many minor changes to ensure that all these references are explained without being repetitive to those who have read the first book.

“Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” wraps up the stories of the characters and ties up a few loose ends but it’s also more fictional than the semi-biographical “White Wolf Moon”. From a rifle-toting backwoods adversary to a light brush with the Edmonton City Police Service, Evan gets himself into a few escapades that were not part of my life. What “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” does is answer the questions that readers of “White Wolf Moon” have asked me. They wanted to know more about Ginn, the white wolf-cross and her relationship with Evan. They wanted to get to know different characters better and to explore the friendship between Danny and Evan. I believe I have now answered all of their questions.

With all the changes I have had to make recently I am still a little behind but I’m nearly ready to run some hard copies to distribute to a few people that I trust to be upfront and honest about what I have written. Their opinions and critique will be the final step before publication.

Then the adventure begins.

HELLO BLOG….

Well hello Blog…my, it’s been a long, long time.

Me? Not much really. Life has been kinda getting in the way lately but mostly it’s because I haven’t had much to say. Even now I’m waiting for the sun to warm the back garden patch so I can get out there and clean up the weeds and winter residue. It seems there’s always something to be done.

Hillary’s running for Prez. I don’t know why but I feel good about that. Actually I do know why…it’s because I’ve been following some of the Republican candidates and, well, as the old saying goes “if you can’t say nuthin’ nice” y’know? Plus it really isn’t my place to comment on American politics…we’ve got enough on our plate with the Canadian supreme leaders.

Mia got tossed (by public vote) from The Voice. That does bother me but it also indicates the unsavvyness of those who do vote. Yes Blog I am aware there’s no such word as “unsavvyness”…no need to drop the squiggly red under it. Carly Rae Jepsen was “voted” off Canadian Idol a few years back. I wonder if she ever thinks about that. I wonder if she used her dismissal by the Canadian public to inspire her even more…sitting in front of her mirror saying “I’ll show you Canada”. I wonder who actually won that year? Can’t say as I remember the name. Sure I could google it but really, I don’t care. I also wonder how far Bob Dylan would have gone on American Idol…would he have even passed the auditions? I doubt it. In fact of the thirteen American Idol winners how many are household names? Four, perhaps five?

What’s up with all the Zombies? There’s a plethora of them crawling around on my television lately and I don’t know why. Of course I don’t know why a lot of shows are on my television. Obviously some people watch them or they wouldn’t be there. When I bought my big-screen I didn’t realize I was getting a digital version of the National Enquirer. I really don’t care to see how Kim can balance a champagne glass on her derriere but I gather some people do. A television critic surmises that it’s because people like to identify with reality actors. I’m sorry but if you can identify with the Kardashians then what the hell are you doing watching television? I’m also amazed that I didn’t get a spelling squiggly on “Kardashians”. Forget for a moment that “reality actors” is a bit of an oxymoron and consider that there are people out there “identifying” with these well-paid frauds. You’re not peeking into anyone’s secret life…just the life they get paid to show you. Name any reality show, whether “Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, or Storage Wars…they get paid to act real.

Sorry Blog, I don’t mean to rant. It’s just that when I sat down to write this I had no clear goal in mind, much the same as a lot of the politicians I mentioned earlier. I just wanted to touch bases, to let you know I’m still around.

I’m still writing my second book. I thought I was almost done but I’ve uncovered so many things I want to change and some more I want to add. Maybe it’s just a general funk I’m in right now but I actually considered scrapping the whole thing at one point. I can’t do that…my characters need me to resolve some issues. On my re-read I realized I left room to expand a particular scene and I hadn’t returned to fill out the details. I’m finishing that up now and it has become more of a pivotal part than I thought it would be and I’m really pleased with how it developed. Maybe taking a break was the solution to my frustration. It might just be a coincidence that prior to writing the new material I finally came up with a title I’m pleased with. After calling it “the sequel” for so long it now has an identity of its own. With that pressure off things seem much better now.

Okay Blog, side note: I decided to warm up a slice of left-over pizza to enjoy while I re-read this entry. Long story short…the plate was hot and slippery. Result: one piece of pizza and forty pieces of plate on the tiled kitchen floor.

Life happens.

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TIME TRAVEL & TRUTHS

“No…I wouldn’t want to go back. You can’t change just one thing, it’s all intertwined…one thing causes another and so on. Take away that first thing and a whole branch of your life tree could disappear and who knows where I’d have ended up. I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you if I could’ve gone back and changed something.”

So says Danny in a deleted scene from my current manuscript. It is the obvious theory of time travel and actually makes a lot of sense.

Time travel is easy when writing a manuscript but the same theory applies. When I began this story I decided to keep writing as the ideas flowed and I’d go back and organize it later. At one point I was reading what I had written and decided one scene would work better in a later part of the story so I used a bit of fictional time travel and relocated it. It was only during what I hoped would be my final read-through that I realized what I had done.

As this is a sequel to “White Wolf Moon” I have to keep in mind the people that might not have read the original story so all the little “in” references have to be introduced. One of the major references was to the place that all the characters gathered on weekends simply called “The Ranch”. Using internal narrative I had Evan (the main character) reminisce about the pioneer property with an introductory description of the geography and the activities they had experienced back in the 60s. That narrative (and a few other mentions) was in the scene that I had moved. Anyone who hadn’t read “White Wolf Moon” would have had no idea what the characters were talking about in the current manuscript.

Another flaw in the time travel was a new character calling an original character by her first name. Their introduction was also in the scene that I had moved so there was no way he would have known this woman’s name as he hadn’t met her yet. That might work for a psychological horror story but not in mine.

Lack of continuity aside I’m surprised at the number of little things I’m finding that need to be tweaked or totally redone. It tends to make me wonder what kind of head space I was in when I wrote it.

Another topic, still in keeping with the fictional flow of this blog…truth on the internet. If I’m to believe everything I’ve read then Shania Twain has died not once but twice over the past few years; Michelle Obama is really a man; Sandy Hook was a Government plot to outlaw assault-type weapons (no children were harmed apparently, they were just “actors”); Malaysia Flight 370 was hijacked by ISIS and is buried in the sand in Syria awaiting another 911 fiasco; President Obama doesn’t know what a cattle guard is, and of course the re-occurring chestnut…Paul is dead.

What got me started on this was a post to a BC Wolf Hunt petition by a man named Bill Schoel whom I don’t mind mentioning because I apparently embarrassed him into hiding. He claimed that a “friend” of his had his dog killed by a pack of wolves that frequent downtown Kamloops, British Columbia. I’m not sure why he chose to name Kamloops as the setting for this piece of fiction but I’m glad he did. I have lived in the city for many years now and I don’t recall any wolf sightings…bears and cougars yes, but no wolves. I’m pretty sure a wolf pack patrolling downtown would make the news. I took him to task and he withdrew into wherever people like that go but not before he had multiple “likes” and confirming comments about his post. It is those people I question. Do they not check out these comments to ascertain the validity before jumping on the Fool Express? I find it amazing that in this easily accessed information age so many people are so misinformed. Perhaps they’re just lazy and would rather mindlessly buy into the flavor of the day than expend what minimal energy it takes to check the facts. Bill should have googled his ludicrous story prior to writing his comment and he wouldn’t look like an idiot trying to spread something that wasn’t true.

One comment I received was questioning whether I thought I was smarter than the rest of the world. My response was “It has nothing to do with being “smarter” it’s simply using your head and presenting verifiable facts (preferably with links). You don’t have to be a genius…just someone who wants to do a little digging and get it right before you comment.”

Alas I fear it’s easier to look the fool.

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