JUST AN UPDATE…

I know I have been lax with this blog lately but life and manuscripts seemed to have gotten in the way over the past few weeks.

Briefly…I just finished a word by word read-through of “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” and was quite shocked at the number of tiny mistakes I found. These were mostly missing words, a few missing dialogue tags, and one major continuity error. I’m relatively confident I’ve corrected everything but there’s still a part of me that wonders if I missed anything this time around. I have to trust that after three careful read-throughs by myself and some other people that I’m ready to take that next step.

I have had requests for hard copy editions (which I intend to publish down the road) but I’m going to check out all the options for e-publishing as an independent author first. A quick search tells me there’s a lot of work ahead to decide which way to go. I would appreciate any suggestions from anyone who has gone this route. It appears that Amazon has a package for folks like me. Has anyone had experience with this?

Anyway to all my American friends…have a happy Fourth. To all my Canadian friends…hope you had a happy First.

Cheers to all!

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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:

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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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BIRTHDAY

As of February 26 I am 24,820 days old…or about 595,680 hours if you prefer. That’s approximately 35,740,800 minutes or 2,144,448,000 seconds. Suddenly 68 years doesn’t seem so bad. My heart has beaten 3,800,000,000 times (give or take a million or two) and I`ve inhaled/exhaled roughly 714,816,000 times. No wonder I’m tired.

I touch on age often in my books. In White Wolf Moon Evan is explaining to Jenn how the years don’t disappear…they remain inside you:

“Sure I’m physically sixty.” He touched his chest. “But in here it doesn’t count for much. When I turned sixty, fifty-nine didn’t disappear. It’ll always be part of who I am. Every year I’ve lived is buried somewhere in this battered old body which means I’m still fifty-nine, and forty and thirty and twenty…”

Yes that svelte and dapper young man still abides in some secret hidden part of this old body. Occasionally he manages to crawl up and out but he finds that the landscape has changed. The lines and weight that 68 years have wrought is alien terrain. Jeans that once required that fashionable Carnaby Street belt now hang in there without any support whatsoever. There’s nothing in the world that can bring back the percentage of human dignity surrendered when your wife tells you to tuck it in and you’ve already tucked. Time is a cruel master.

In the sequel to White Wolf Moon I describe it this way:

Evan leaned against the bathroom sink, listening as the mirror told his tale. The problem is that mirrors don’t write fiction. He could easily forgive the mirror a smidgeon of artistic license; perhaps a little fib or two, even an outright lie…but mirrors don’t do fiction. He stared silently into the realization that the disheveled sixty-something creature staring back at him was indeed sixty-something. His eyes were dark, the laugh-lines of yesterday were annoyingly apparent today, and his hair had become most unreliable. He ran his fingers through the grey shock, placed it carefully then softly sighed as it slipped back down over his forehead.

“Nowadays when I wake up feeling like crap,” he said, “I stare into the mirror and I look like crap. In the old days it didn’t matter how I felt I at least looked good. Sure, I can psyche myself up…tell myself I’m feeling great and do a little yahoo dance on the way to the bathroom but the mirror always shows and tells. It could lie but does it? Oh no…whatcha see is whatcha get Morris. Damn mirrors.”

And he explains it to his wife Marie this way:

“It took sixty years to get this way and it’ll take sixty more to fix it. Hardly seems worth the effort.”

A lot has happened in the last 6.8 decades and I was there. More importantly I paid attention. Through simple osmosis I’ve sucked up a wealth of seemingly unimportant trivia, from housecleaning to simple mechanics to…whatever. I suppose that makes me wise in an offhanded kind of way…the senior. The last time I held this title I was in high school and I really wasn’t very good at it. I didn’t ask to be a senior…it just sort of happened. All of a sudden I had this responsibility to set a good example for all those junior kids, some of which were older than I but obviously not wiser.

That’s how you get to be a senior in high school. Passing. That’s all there is to it. All you have to do to be a senior in life is survive. It’s pretty simple actually.

There’s only one problem with this system of seniority by age. For every wise village elder there is a village idiot. Through the simple act of survival the village idiot could eventually become the village elder. Throughout history many societies have fallen due to an old village idiot.

But I digress and I’m running out of space.

I don’t have a problem with being nearly 10 in dog years, in fact I don’t normally think about it. I can watch quiz shows and answer the history questions not because I studied but because I was there when these things were happening. I’ve gone from one channel on a fuzzy b&w television to a kazillion choices on a big flat screen. I’ve been to drive-in movies perched in the bed of a pickup truck and I’ve watched some of the same movies on Blue Ray whilst parked on my couch. I’ve marveled at so many changes over the years with a sense of wonderment and appreciation that people born in the past twenty years can’t understand. They’ve grown up with the technology and gadgets designed to make life easier. They have no idea what it’s like to head out to the pump to bring in a bucket of water and heat it on the wood stove to take a bath. Times have changed and will forever change but the learning stays the same. Not just book learning but good old fashioned life learning. It’s that basic knowledge and common sense that surrounds us all but so few seem to grasp yet, according to Evan in the sequel to White Wolf Moon, it really isn’t all that difficult:

“It’s no big secret…just pay attention. Eyes, ears, and mind open…mouth shut. Nobody ever learned anything by talking.” Evan squinted and shook his index finger at her. “Listening…that’s the teacher.”

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ART, MUSIC, LIFE, RHYTHM…

How curious is Mother Nature. To create within a single world this multitude of perfectly shaped trees, flowers and grasses then simply toss them about with reckless abandon.

Rocks and boulders, each grained and weathered with intricate care are strewn helter-skelter across the landscape with little consideration of overall impression. Does she not understand the basic concepts of balance in form and texture, function and structure?

Or could this chaotic representation be the work of the quintessential artist?

It might be a still life with wind-swept grasses cascading down hills like waterfalls frozen in time, charred trees boldly standing as ancient sentinels on a field of muddied ash, a reminder of the fires of summer. Portraits of perfection posed before a scattered backdrop.

Is it abstract, impressionistic or a subtle blend of both? Simply put it is the finest example of interpretive natural art and it is how you see and feel it.

Nature may not always be perfect yet within these imperfections there lies a sense of purpose. Straight lines do not grace her masterpiece yet within her seemingly disheveled display there is order…and rhythm.

Everything natural exists for a reason and everything runs to a beat. It’s the cycle of life. Left to her own devices Mother Nature the artist becomes Mother Nature the composer, her natural sweet symphony the soundtrack of this world.

It is only when mankind chooses to ignore the rhythm that this symphony is silenced.

While Mother Nature is perfect in her imperfections mankind is simply imperfect, failing to understand how much a bit of harmony could improve life’s song for everyone and everything on this planet.

This not-so-veiled call for everyone to stop and think before we lose what we can’t replace was predicated by the BC wolf cull. I am almost ashamed to admit that I live in this province they call ‘beautiful’ on television ads and license plates. Public and scientific opposition to this ‘cull’ is massive yet the government doesn’t want to listen. Oddly enough the B.C. Ministry of Lands refuses comment on how many wolves have been ‘harvested’ and won’t provide a representative to explain the ‘science’ behind their decisions. My guess is…there is none.

Blaming predators (wolves in particular) is the cowardly way out. It’s easier to face a backlash from ‘tree-huggers’ than the wrath of forestry, ranching, and mining corporations. It’s easier to take to the air and gun down animals that are simply trying to survive in a wilderness growing smaller every day than impose restrictions on development, fracking, and overgrazing livestock. The caribou herds are in decline but for God’s sake’s let’s not suggest that man has had anything to do with it.

Okay, off my soapbox but on the same topic…

The Go Go’s had the beat, as do we all. Everyone has that certain song stuck in their head and that song goes a long way toward how we feel about our day. Regardless of religion, race, sex, or socio-economic lot in life…music is the common denominator. Happy music puts a spring in your step and makes everything just a little bit better. Those odd people, those skippers and shakers you see every day swaying along the sidewalk…you know the reason they’re odd don’t you? They’re marching to their own drum and while it may seem that some have their own damned orchestra it’s all part of the rhythm of life.

I’m on the first major tweak of the manuscript for my second book and never has the need for rhythm been so obvious. This book has been written in pieces over two years, which is my failing. These pieces didn’t necessarily follow each other during the writing and while the rhythm within each scene is strong the combination of scenes doesn’t flow as well as it should. It’s almost like this was a group effort, different people writing different parts of the same book. Readers need a beat whether in narrative or dialogue and while it’s not a major re-write it is a necessary step to smoothing the flow of the story.

It’s simple. I’ve just gotta stick with the beat and follow that rhythm in my head in writing…and in life.

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https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/captain-paul-watson-on-b-c-wolf-kill/

 

OF WOLVES AND SUCH….

This blog is not really about wolves but it is a subject in which I consider myself to have above average (although by no means expert) knowledge so it’s easier to make my point. From witnessing my first wolf pack in the wild on our farm in Ontario in the 1950s to having a much more recent encounter with (fenced) wolves at a Christmas Light Celebration at the BC Wildlife Park outside Kamloops, wolves have always played some sort of minor role in my life.

When I was beginning work on the sequel to White Wolf Moon I decided to research this animal so I could present my canine character with more authenticity. It was then I discovered the ugly truth about the internet.

It seems anyone who can type has an opinion these days and that opinion doesn’t have to be based on anything concrete or valid. It’s just an opinion. Having an opinion is fine (everyone should have one or two) but for a reader to blindly accept these opinions without question simply confirms what I feel is one of those things wrong with the world today.

I’m not a follower, nor am I a leader. I feel that comments made by people on both sides of any issue should be checked out but it appears most people don’t want to hear the truth. They just want someone to confirm that what they already believe is the truth. Just tell them what they want to hear and the ‘likes’ will come. One of these anti-wolf pages is currently on the “historic” bandwagon posting unverified newspaper stories and illustrations from days gone by. They claim that these unsubstantiated hackneyed articles from the 1700s complete with woodcuts and etchings are the factual journalism of the times and they prove “that modern wolf science is pure fiction”. By the way through minimal research I discovered that one of their latest “fact” illustrations is from The Red Fairy Book (published1890). No need to tell you what fairy-tale we’re talking about.

We live in an age where credible information is out there but a lot of people have neither the comprehension nor the time or patience to learn what is real and what isn’t. It’s easier for them to take the lazy way out, much preferring to have some narrow-visioned snake-oil salesman with a pocket-full of agendas and videos to sell tell them what to think rather than form their own educated opinion.

A side note: I generally steer away from commenting on American politics because I really don’t understand the workings and, as a Canadian, it really isn’t my place but…

I watched the SOTU address (which reaffirmed why I like Obama) but I just couldn’t take my eyes off John Boehner. Am I the only one that thought he looked like the ‘before’ picture in a Preparation-H ad? With millions of people watching him this man didn’t possess the self-pride to at least appear interested in anything. It’s clear that he and Obama aren’t after-school buddies but there should be at least minimal respect for the office, if not the man. I’m not a fan of our Mr. Harper but I respect the position he holds.

Respect, or the lack of it, is one of the big issues in our world today. Respect for others and respect for oneself seems to have disappeared. We, as a people, show little respect for our environment. Politicians are trying to force through “safe” pipelines on fragile landscapes while, coincidently, the waterways in Yellowstone National Park have just been polluted with 50,000 gallons of crude from a leak. Our BC Government was (perhaps still is) considering opening up our Provincial Parks for oil and gas exploration. Oddly enough the fact that big business, politicians, and money mongers have no respect for anything doesn’t surprise me. It’s the little guy that types “sweet” on his social media page under the story of two RCMP officers being shot in Alberta. What the hell is wrong with these people?

Perhaps this lack of respect is a sign of the times. In the old days before the internet if you chose to call somebody down you’d best not walk past the schoolyard after dark but there’s safety in the anonymity of social media today. You can sound big and tough while living in your parent’s basement smokin’ dope and free from the fear of retribution. Perhaps the lack of respect has been here all along but I don’t think so. I also don’t think it’s as widespread as it appears, at least I hope it isn’t. It’s just that with today’s technology it’s easier for these people to be heard…but that doesn’t mean we have to listen.

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