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.”

 

COMFORT ZONE….

“Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” is online. Another chapter in my writing life has closed and it’s time to start anew. While there is still a lot of work to do with getting some exposure and working a bit of marketing I can’t bring myself to not have a Word document open. I have to be working on something and my read-through of the Kindle version of “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” provided me with another storyline. It involves some of the ‘walk-on’ characters from one of the scenes.

Being ‘walk-ons’ in no way diminished their importance to the storyline. The roles they played, while not central figures, provided insight into the main characters and created some interesting scenes. One character in particular made his appearance early in the book, created a little havoc then disappeared. The more I thought about this man the more I realized there is a story behind who and what he is and how he got there. I decided to flesh out his story and it came surprisingly easy.

Unless you have read “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” the name Fergus Lloyd would mean nothing. If you have read it then you already have an opinion of Fergus and what he is all about. As in reality and with real people an opinion based on first impression is often wrong. The well-spoken, well-dressed banker might have some questionable material on his computer and that street person might have a heart of gold. You just never know what’s behind their public faces. Fergus wasn’t always the Fergus that confronted Evan and exploring his life has provided some interesting research and excitingly addictive writing.

From the outset of the first draft I had to expand my comfort zone. I prefer to write light and with a sometimes questionable sense of humor and while there are some lighter moments in this story there is also an underlying darkness. This was a challenge for me and a welcome brain-teaser. Then came the scene that I believed would be the pivotal point of the story. Without getting into detail the young boy discovers something horrific in the woods and all his childhood nightmares come back and…never mind. I’ve already said too much.

Suffice to say that this scene completely ripped me out of my comfort zone and threw me headfirst into the horror/psychological terror genre, one that I’ve never explored. Blood, gore, and childhood nightmares wreak havoc with my usual style of writing and way of thinking. After I wrote it I would wake at night and think about it. Each time I rehashed it in my mind I became less impressed. It sounded forced, manipulative, and not at all like me. A week later I wrote an alternate scene where someone else stumbles on the terror and relays it second hand in a more sterile manner. I was more at ease with the revision and I sentenced the original storyline to life in my ‘not used’ folder and continued writing.

One of the elements of writing a story based on a previously introduced character is maintaining continuity with the original. That wasn’t all that difficult in this case but as the new story progressed I realized that I was missing something. The emotional development (or destruction) of this character wasn’t strong enough to result in the character traits featured in “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”. The crisis, real or imagined, that set him on my created path hadn’t occurred. I opened up my ‘not used’ file, read the original scene and knew that it had to be included. I also learned the value of putting something aside and revisiting it later. I actually like what I wrote back then and with a little work it will become that pivotal scene. It just goes to show the value of never throwing anything away.

On a side note: My age is showing…I welcomed my seventh grandchild into this world on September 3, 2015. Mum and son are doing well.

Shameless self-promotion side note: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0143ZI4W8?ref_=pe_1724030_132998070

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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.

I’M JUST RAMBLIN’ ROSE…

Two old ladies in my driveway, a fresh case of Grolsch, and a new bag of spicy Nacho chips…I may not make it to Heaven so I brought a little of it home this afternoon.The ladies on my driveway…not sure about them. They’re probably trying to decide whether or not to knock on my door and tell me that I’m on the wrong path…that my attitudes and beliefs, like my spine, need an adjustment. Maybe not. One of them is pretty hot for an old lady which is okay because I’m a luke-warm old man so I feel I’m qualified to judge. The other lady looks Italian. She has Italian skin, eyes, and bearing. She looks very much like my Grade seven art teacher who told us that she was Italian which is why I drew the comparison.  Please don’t misunderstand…I’m not insulting Italians. Some of my best friends are Italian. That’s a lie. I don’t have any Italian friends, best or worst…although one of my best friends is Bulgarian which is closer to Italy than Kamloops is so I think that counts. I could have an Italian best friend but nobody answered my ad in the personals. I guess asking for an elderly Italian to be my BFF is a little creepy.

Okay I made all that up…there isn’t an Italian lady on my driveway. There isn’t a hot older lady on my driveway either but that’s okay. I have one in my house and I’ve been living with her for forty-five years and I really don’t want another one. There’s really only so much of me to go around.

I do have the Grolsch and the chips though. It might be a sad testament but that’s my idea of Heaven at the moment. I’ve spent a good part of the day digging in the garden and a cool Grolsch or two is my reward. They’re celebrating their 400th Anniversary this year. I only wish I’d discovered it years ago. It was my doctor who recommended Grolsch as a healthy beer and that I should have one a day. I like my doctor. Sometimes I forget for four or five days (luke-warm old age again) but come Friday night I fill the prescription and have four or five. Grolsch is my best friend from Holland. Not that I’m hinting but if someone from Grolsch wants to thank me in product for this plug…pm me.

Thanks…

Mike

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AT LAST A STEP FORWARD…

Finally the proofing print-outs for “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” are done. After nearly two weeks of re-formatting, rewriting, and tweaking it’s ready for that annoying hard-copy proofing that always seems to uncover a multitude of little things that for whatever reason don’t show up on the computer screen!03

It has taken far longer to get to this stage than I anticipated. It seems that every week I tell everybody that I’ve got it together and then I run into more setbacks and more delays. Originally I hadn’t planned on writing a sequel to “White Wolf Moon” but, according to readers, I left many answered questions. They wanted to know more about wolf-dogs or the relationships between some of the characters. ‘Okay’, I thought, this should be easy. I had a lot of material left over from the first book…I’ll just put it into a second. I didn’t realize how little I’d held back. There wasn’t really enough for a short story let alone a follow-up novel. It ended up being more of the same and actually a little boring as far as I was concerned. I wanted to add a little excitement so I introduced some new characters that ended up creating a little mild gunplay, fisticuffs and…I’ve already revealed too much. I’ve opened up the characters, showing different sides of the human and non-human inhabitants of my little world. I’ve explored and hopefully answered all the questions of those people who enjoyed “White Wolf Moon” and done it while maintaining the original light-hearted style.

I was happy with what I had done all those months ago. Then I read it from the beginning to…about page twelve. If I had not read or been familiar with the first book I would have no idea what was going on. I hadn’t really introduced the characters and I had referenced many things that happened in the original story that simply wouldn’t make sense to someone reading “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” as a stand-alone. That is why it has taken so long. It seems every time I read it I find something else that should be clarified or even deleted. I have restarted this long journey countless times and I’m still not sure it’s over. I’ve realized that writing a sequel is tougher than starting anew with different characters and a fresh story-line. This is opposite to what I had originally thought.

One more thing that I’ve noticed. This sequel is now finished and, with no intention of making this a trilogy, I find my world seems a little empty now. I sense withdrawal anxiety after only three days of not having Evan, Danny, Marie or Ginn gracing my laptop. I am going to miss them.

“Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” is now in new hands and will be read by a different set of eyes. I can’t help but be a little nervous about this stage but it’s also exciting. What will come of this critique…I don’t know. Perhaps all will be well…perhaps there will be additional tweaking. Either way it is a step forward.

The next step is the process of learning how to become an independent author.

I suspect that’s where the real work will begin.