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.”

 

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FINALLY!

It’s been a learning exercise but finally “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” is online at Amazon.

The delays have been my fault. From writing the manuscript in the wrong (old, really old) Word program to not having all my ducks in a row when it came to actually uploading, I’ve made a few mistakes. I’ve successfully stumbled through them all and now I know better for the next time.

The process is actually quite easy and with this first step out of the way I’m looking forward to getting involved in the other Amazon programs but for now I’m taking a bit of a break and enjoying seeing that second title on my Author page. There’s an excitement surrounding me that I haven’t felt since I first googled “White Wolf Moon” and saw it listed around the world or since I opened that first box of hardcovers delivered to my front door.

So much has been learned but there’s so much more to go before I finish this journey.

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0143TGT58?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

In 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 his 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 oft times 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, a musician’s life on the road, and wolfdogs. 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 work to stand alone. The chapter “Jenn’s Story” briefly recounts the contents of the first novel and any references to that first book have been clarified in the narrative or dialogue.

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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MORE FRAGMENTS OF A RECEDING MINDLINE…

Fragment One: Jeff Bridges. I’ve always liked Jeff Bridges and he is, without question, that one living famous person I’d love to have a beer with. As well as being a great actor, a pretty good songwriter/musician/singer, and devout family man he dedicates much of his life to giving back. His primary cause is No Kid Hungry! It’s a program designed to put food in front of the estimated 16,000,000 children who live in American households that are unable to provide the necessary food these kids need. That’s one in five kids. He has been the spokesman at charity events for this cause for some time but not only does he speak out he does something about it. ALL proceeds from his new cd “Sleeping Tapes” go toward No Kid Hungry! and in a few short weeks he has raised over a million meals.

Fragment Two: Matthew McConaughey and “Canned Hunting” debacle. For those who don’t know the story Mr. McConaughey has been linked (as an owner) to a ranch in Texas that offers hunters the opportunity to “harvest” deer that are fenced in on their property. I could write a wordy blog on how I feel about this practice but I’ll leave that for another time. Since this story broke the public outcry in the form of blogs and petitions has spread like the proverbial Texas wildfire. Now his photograph and all references to him have been removed from the ranch’s website and Matthew’s camp is in damage control mode, saying that he is not an owner and hasn’t been associated with the ranch since 2011. A quick search of his bios on line still reveals he owns a ranch in Texas although they don’t disclose the name of this ranch. I’m prepared to give anybody the benefit of the doubt so I’ll remain neutral on this but those that are inferring that, if true, this will destroy his career better think again. He’s a big player and the world loves big players. The list of actors, recording artists, and politicians that have had their indiscretions buried by money and influence is long and will only get longer.

Fragment Three: No Comment. I’ve had a few of my on-line wolf friends question my absence on those “anti-wolf” comment pages since last year. Other than a few of the media public comment sites I no longer get involved with the anti-wolf crowd. I set out some ground rules for myself when it came to responding to their idiocy. One…I would no longer deal with anyone who uses a fake name/facebook page. Two…I would not respond to anyone who hasn’t a basic grasp of spelling and grammar. Three…I wouldn’t respond to anyone who starts out a comment with name-calling or threats and four…I’d refrain from commenting on any post that didn’t contain proven facts with appropriate links. These self-imposed rules pretty much meant I could no longer comment period. It also makes it much easier to “leave the kiddies alone” when they won’t let me play by banning me from most, if not all, of their pages.

Fragment Four: Politically Correct. First, and this is something I never do, I wish to apologize to anyone who might be offended by what you’re about to read. Recently, in an off-hand conversation, I referred to our native people as “Indians” and I was told that it was wrong. They are “First Nations”. As most of you know I worked for At Second Glance Books here in Kamloops and while books about First Nations people were shelved under “Indigenous Peoples” some of the titles of those books contained the word “Indian” and a lot of these books were written by talented First Nation authors. I had many customers come in and ask me where the books on Indians were and many of them were First Nations people, one building a library of First Nations literature for a tourist center. They weren’t offended by a book on “The Western Plains Indians” and really, why should they be? One of my customers went by the name of “Ace” and he was one that asked where the Indian books were. I showed him a lot and sold him a few. We actually became casually close and tossed jibes back and forth on many occasions. One day he came into the store with a couple of friends, also First Nations, and leaned on the counter. He asked if I served Indians here. My glib response was “Sure…you want fries with that?” He and his friends broke into hysterics. After I had a chance to think about what I said I felt I should apologize. “Hell no man,” Ace said, “that was funny. You white people take everything far too seriously.” With that I bit the bullet and asked if he was offended by the term “Indian” and all three of them said no, that they were proud of their Indian heritage (yes, they used the word). I’m not sure if Ace and the boys are indicative of the general feelings amongst First Nations people and certainly I find myself using “First Nations” just in case, but I have to wonder how much of an issue it is. I also wonder who decided that it was politically incorrect to begin with. Really, it’s just a word. I would think the manner or the environment in which it’s used would have a bearing on how it’s taken but then it really isn’t the word that becomes offensive is it? It’s the person using it.

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THANK YOU JOE SOUTH!

I love it when I have one of those ‘out-of-the-blue’ and ‘ain’t-that-weird’ moments.

I’m in the process of tweaking a scene where my main character Evan Morris goes back to Edmonton, Alberta…the city he called home before he moved to Kamloops. I started off by walking him down a once-familiar street but then I hit a bit of a block and found myself wondering where I was going to take the internal narrative. I resorted to one of my usual distractions.

When I stumble with writing I’ll sometimes pick up a guitar and just strum random chords and stare at the screen. Normally it doesn’t take long to come up with something but today I found myself listening more to the chords I was playing and I realized that they weren’t all that random.

It took me a while to figure out the melody but when I did my ‘ain’t-that-weird’ moment arrived.

Oldguitar

It was a song I learned back in 1969 titled “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” written by Joe South. This is a song I haven’t really thought about for thirty or so years but it came back so easily and quickly. Of all the random chords or songs that those chords could have represented this was the one that I needed it to be. As I played it and recalled the lyrics I stared at my computer screen and everything started to come together.

Inspiration sometimes comes from the damnedest places doesn’t it?

http://www.joesouth.com/

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

When I worked for At Second Glance Books in Kamloops I would occasionally receive a complimentary copy of a book from an up and coming local or regional author. The purpose was simply for me to read it so I could speak with some knowledge of the product if anyone asked. Fortunately with some titles nobody asked.

Last week while organizing my library I stumbled on a few of these self-published works. After shelving the other books into a somewhat systematized array I sat in my chair and did some selective reading and, of the three I scanned, I quickly discovered something they all had in common. The characters all spoke in much the same ‘voice’. The same patterns, rhythms, and sentence structure was used regardless of which character was involved in the dialogue. As much as I respect and congratulate people who self-publish we all have to be held to a certain standard and something this simple is actually easy to correct.

I’ve learned to distinguish voice patterns by eaves-dropping in public. If you listen carefully you’ll soon pick out the little oddities that make some people unique. Shorter sentences, a proliferation of ‘ums’, variance in pitch and pattern, a bit of a stutter…it’s all subtle yet obvious when you listen.

I picked up a copy of White Wolf Moon and did the same selective reading and breathed a sigh of relief. Mostly I had managed to create individual voices for my characters but there were a few areas that I could see readers having trouble following the dialogue especially with some of the longer conversations between Evan and Danny. The real life voices of these two men are surprisingly similar but there are subtleties that I didn’t manage to get across throughout the book. Without regular name tags I could see confusion.

The wonderful thing about publishing a first book is what you learn from it. Not just the whole publishing process but the mistakes you made in creating the book, the actual writing. Overall I’m pleased with the way White Wolf Moon turned out but there are some things I’m not anxious to repeat in the second book.

When I discovered the confusion in voice I started (once again) from the beginning of the new book and within three pages found areas where the dialogue needed clarification. As the writer you know what it’s supposed to say but the reader doesn’t know where the conversation is going until they get there. It’s important to make the journey as easy and stress-free as possible so I’ve made some minor clean-up changes.

I have some unique characters this time around. They speak in a specific dialect using colloquialisms and bad grammar. Those are easy to depict but the subtle differences between Danny and Evan need more work to convey. Mostly I believe it’s in the rhythm and sentence length. Evan is a bit of a thinker and his words are generally more deliberate while Danny talks off the top of his head in shorter, choppier sentences. As I said the differences are subtle but they have to be made obvious in order for the reader to hear which character is speaking. Yes I still need character name tags but I don’t want them every seventh or eighth line unless there’s an action involved.

Now comes the part where I digress.

As most of you know I am pro-wolf. I used to visit the anti-wolf pages just to get a laugh, mostly at the impressive lack of grasp of the English language that many of these folks possess. For a year or so I copied some of the more idiotic comments into a file simply called “Stupid Comments”. It is interesting to read these comments as a single unit. They reveal a mentality and attitude that borders on total “nutso” and I would think they could provide an in-depth study into some rather twisted psychological traits if analyzed but I’ll leave that for someone who’s interested in such things.

When I was creating a backwoods, less-than-educated character for the new book I wanted to use some of these comments as they are genuine and grass roots. Two things happened as I was reviewing these little treasures. One…I gave my character Fergus a couple of these lines and it sounded like a Saturday Night Live satirical skit. The words and dialect were actually too unbelievable for a fictional character. My people have to be real and poor ol’ Fergus…wasn’t. The second thing that happened was that I quickly realized the similarity in many of the comments especially the aforementioned speech patterns and rhythms. After grouping these comments I noticed that, even with different names, some are virtually identical. The same words were misspelled, the same lack of punctuation, and the same catch phrases. Some comments were completely identical even down to the placement of the same text shortcuts (lmao, lol etc.). There is no question that at least four of these “individuals” is the same person and is also an administrator on two different pages. One other individual is behind at least three pseudonyms and even has some interesting conversations with himself. Of course there are many other people on these pages who proudly display their shortcomings when it comes to communication skills. That’s pretty sad…especially when you read a comment like: “Its always a good hunting season just as long as your in the hills right, and my bad i didnt mean that bad really i giess i thought you did but now i know ypu wernt sorry.”. The sad (and shocking) part? If you click on his name it takes you to this man’s fb page where you discover that he is a professor at Idaho State University.

I’m not sure what to draw from this experience. These people can’t write and, judging by many of the comments, aren’t all that interested in reading either. Has this computer generation just become lazy or is the education system failing big time? I admit that this is a small segment of the population but it still amazes me that there’s even a segment that managed to fall through the cracks this badly. There’s probably a bigger social issue at play here but again I’ll leave that to someone who enjoys exploring that sort of thing.

I don’t frequent anti-wolf pages any more, it’s far too depressing. When I read the dialogue between Fergus and Evan I feel good. Fergus is fictional but real to me. When I gave him dialogue written by real people that I assumed would be of a similar character he became unreal, a caricature. Perhaps it’s like the old saying “Truth is stranger than fiction” and in this case I think I’ll stick with fiction.

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I FEEL A RANT COMING ON….

What the hell is wrong with people these days?

I finished up my grocery shopping and stood behind a young lady with a cart who was between ten and twelve feet away from the checkout. She had sent her little brother down the length of the store to see if any of the other tills were less busy. After probably fifteen seconds I saw someone else step into the line so I also stepped in front of her. Another ten or so seconds went by and I was solidly punched on the shoulder from behind, a man’s voice telling me that they were in line and that I had butted in. I turned and this apple-cheeked very clean little-but-chunky “gentleman”, probably about my age and a foot shorter, was glaring at me.

I suggested they weren’t in line…that they were almost to the other side of the aisle. He called me an old man without manners. I told him I didn’t waste my manners on insipid little cretins then I saw the look on, what I assume, was his granddaughter’s face. She was embarrassed, no question. She had her head down and was looking away. I also saw the young lady in the next checkout unlock the till so I grabbed my basket and gave up my spot third back in line and took first spot at the next checkout. Another man with a basket followed and got behind me. He congratulated me on my self-restraint. He’d seen the whole thing and said that the old man was lucky that he hadn’t punched him as he would have punched back. That thought had crossed my mind.

I was through the till and heading for the door when I gave a little nod and wave to my adversary who had not yet managed to start unloading his cart. He glared at me again and tossed a finger my way. I won, he lost.

It was a shallow victory as, and I hate to admit this, my gut feeling was still to circle around behind this jerk and give him a solid punch on the shoulder but the look on the girl’s face somehow washed that all away. And I don’t know why.

In my mind I was clearly in the right but even if I hadn’t been I object to anyone thinking they are entitled to punch me without some sort of retribution. I now find myself angry that I didn’t lash out at him, give back a little of what he gave me but this is, and always has been, against my nature. Of course the fact that other than a couple of incidents in my old school days nobody has ever actually punched me makes it easy for me to make this claim.

And so this apple-cheeked, squeaky-clean little bully got away with one…or did he? I keep thinking of the girl pushing the cart and how she probably knew they weren’t really in the line-up as such. She saw her kindly grandfather punch someone then give them the finger. Was this a shattering of his image or was this something she was used to seeing? I think of how my kids or grandkids would react if I had been in his position and done what he had done. It would be so out of character for ‘Grandpa’ that I think it would shock them and perhaps taint the impression they have of me. I wouldn’t want them to see me assault another human being no matter how minimal the aggression was.

On the other hand if I was the one being assaulted I’m pretty sure that all my kids would have thumped the guy before I’d had a chance to turn around. Of course whichever one of them had done it would definitely receive a stern lecture on kindness and peaceful co-existence from me…over a celebratory drink or two.SIGN25