Friday, March 2, 2018

Outta Snow-Where and Feeling Better

A couple of days ago I mentioned how I felt low and wanted to shake things up.  I haven't really shaken much up aside from deleting and logging out of many of my social media platforms.  But internally there is a maelstrom of change that will affect me in a big way.  That, I can clearly see even when everything else feels obscured.  I am at a critical juncture in my life after all, with only a few dollars to my name and a need, a dire need to change the direction my life has been headed in for the last three years.

That said, I've had a good last few days and that has sorted me out a little bit.  Some intimate time with a lady friend and hanging with my closest friends for a few days, simply riffing and playing some games with my four non-blood brothers.  I often forget to enjoy such simple pleasures in pursuit of whatever I'm pursuing, but these euphoric couple of days has instilled within me just how important true friendship and intimacy can be.  I won't soon forget that.

It all culminated in a wicked snowstorm that broke out just as I contemplated returning home.  Needless to say, my trip back was adventurous.  The scene above shows the conditions I walked home in.  Those 3-4 inches of snow you see were very wet, as it began as rain and shifted into the biggest snowflakes I'd ever seen in only a few hours time.  Despite being happy and beyond that, grateful, I felt that the sudden storm captured my inner turmoil perfectly.  Those same two friends I was hanging out with, I was letting down.  We'd had a plan to move out together and buy a house, but I could not keep my end of the bargain.  My recent book sales were simply too paltry to do so and now I didn't even feel that Detroit was the proper place to foster the growth that I so desperately needed.  But honestly, none of that mattered.

The old me would bask in that negativity brewing within, but now it was a simple passenger.  I had no desire to complicate things.  I felt good, my feet were cold, and it was time to go home.  That's all.

Schizophrenic Michigan weather only a few seconds after the first photo

There's a lot on the horizon now in my life.  I'm ready to let some things go and to embrace some aspects of the "real" world that I've been refusing for as long as I can remember.  For me, it's literally sink or swim, so I have to choose my next move carefully.  Absolutely one thing is certain.  It is time to embrace the real, what can be truly felt, even if it brings overwhelming hardship.  That is infinitely better than a daily dose of illusory panacea.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Liandra and the Dream Reader is now on the blog

Just added the first chapter and will have all up by the end of the week.  This is the original version of the story with those unique dialogue attributions that I previously mentioned.

Liandra is a young girl from Lebanon who suffers from debilitating night terrors.  In her desperation to rid herself of her nightly suffering, she turns to a strange man versed in the supernatural, a dream reader.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Shaking things up a little bit

Sometimes it's just time for a change.  Wouldn't you agree?

I'm quickly approaching 30, horribly lonely, constantly feel inadequate, poor, and oh so much more.  Because of that and my constant glaring failures, I feel the need to change some things in my life.  I don't know what, but maybe this blog is a good place to start.

I think it'll be more personal ...


Unorthodox Writing Style

Quite a few writers have them. Cormac McCarthy for one. He doesn't use dialogue attributions and that's exactly what I'm here to talk about today. To better connect with readers, I've been changing up my writing style for the last few years and frankly I'm dissatisfied with that. The main difference between my style and what's considered mainstream is my dialogue style. Instead of the standard dialogue attributions of he said and she said dominating my pages, I like to simply list the speaking character's name similar to a script.

Belart: "It goes a little something like this. It's easy to follow and we always know who's speaking. I find it to be simple and effective."
To me, it eliminates the repetition inherent in the use of normal attributions. It also clears up the occasional confusion that crops up when trying to figure out who's talking. Sure, a good writer can remove such confusion but this method does so effortlessly. The other problem it clears up is the need for me to be so annoyingly creative with my placement of normal attributions. I'm always thinking, "Should I place it here, so close to the last one?" "Pronoun or proper noun?" "Do I even need it at all or is it clear who's speaking." Why hassle myself like that or readers? I feel as if once you get accustomed to the style that the simple nameplate dialogue attribution will be will eventually become less intrusive than even a typical he said/she said attribution.

Anyways, since this blog is for me, my stories, and anyone happening to stop by, I plan on writing most of my stories here in the dialogue styles that I like. My next story here, will be the one I feel most confident about and it uses the dialogue style I've mentioned. I can't wait to show it off. Stay tuned for Liandra and the Dream Reader!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Kindle Book Preview: Average Joe and the Extraordinaires

Fun at the Game

The day was hot and the crowd rowdy and rambunctious.  Everyone was getting riled up for tonight’s statewide collegiate football match where the state favorites, the Sunshine City Fowlers, would take on the underdogs, the Orangetown Pickers.  Joe and his girlfriend Kate, along with her little brother, Mod, had predicted a bloodbath tonight between the two rival teams and their rabid fans. 

Joe: “This line is way too long.”

The three teens were here to support their hometown team, the Pickers.  Joe and Kate were set on going to Orangetown University.  Neither had even considered the alternatives.  Joe himself didn't have any bright prospects when it came to choosing his college, but Kate on the other hand had many schools to choose from.  In the end she chose with her heart and decided to stay with Joe.

The line had finally started to move, but everyone was still pretty antsy.  The game was set to start in only thirty minutes.

Mod: “Hey, guys, I brought some game boosters.”

Mod smiled a devilish smile that lasted longer than it should.  He opened his bright red insulated cooler and showed its contents to his shocked sister.

Kate: “How did you get that?”

Kate looked at her younger brother with alarmed blue eyes. His smile still hadn’t faded, so she knew he had something planned. She waited for his explanation of some half-brained scheme.

Mod: “The how is unimportant, dear sister, at least when it comes to the where.  A different how should be asked.”

Mod smiled over towards where Joe was absentmindedly standing, and repeated himself a bit louder after delivering an elbow to Joe’s side.  Joe snapped to attention and responded.

Joe: “As in how we’re going to get it in there with all that security.”

Mod: “And the answer to that, my dear sister, is you.”

Kate: “Why do I feel as if this i­s going to make me feel so stupid?”

The crowd started to move forward faster, the group’s shady acts cleverly hidden from the security staff.  No one could really see what they were doing with all the secrecy.  Mod took what looked like an albino baby seal from his backpack and placed the cooler in it. He attached it to Kate and hid it under a sweater that he told her to wear. 

It wasn't really an albino baby seal, as that would be a ridiculous and smelly thing to attach to someone, even more ridiculous than a regularly pigmented seal. He had attached a fake pregnancy belly to his sister.

Mod: “Okay now act natural, sis.”

Kate scoffed at the notion.

Kate: “Act as if I’m pregnant?  You jerk, that’s not even funny.”

Mod: “With the rate at which you and Joe have been going, I will be able to say that with a straight face a few months from now.”

Kate and Joe both blushed.

Kate: “You’re lucky I don’t slap you.”

Uncomfortable conversations aside, the line was moving full speed ahead and Joe’s group was finally nearing the front doors of the stadium.  The closer they got to security, the more nervous they all became.  It was difficult to tell if Kate’s sea of sweat had formed because of her nervousness or the hot fake belly and sweatshirt that she now had to wear.

At the front of the line, Joe went towards the doors, but was pushed back by a large man the size of a pro-wrestler, wearing a red t-shirt.  Kate looked at him with rising fear in her eyes and a growing knot in her stomach.  The large man might’ve been a wrestler, but he had the words UNIVERSITY SECURITY on his shirt.  He approached the group and looked right at Kate and Joe.

Security: “Is this woman with you?”

Kate and Joe looked at each other, and then back at the security officer.  Joe nodded his head and Kate sweated even more, to the point of drenching her socks.

Security: “Where’s your head at, kid?  Let the lady go first.  She’s with child.” 

He looked right at her and smiled, which Kate guessed was meant to be inviting, but didn’t make her feel any more comfortable.

Security: “Go on through, miss.”

Kate gulped down her previous fear and strolled past the man, while the other two followed close behind.  Joe got the stink-eye from the security guy.  Sensing DDTs and power-bombs in his future, he decided to hasten his pace towards the ticket taker, who then took their tickets.

Inside, they all had a powwow about where to go and if they would get snacks. Eventually, they got it all together and found their seats. The game began with the singing of the national anthem, which got everyone riled up and patriotic. The players on both teams took to the field in a frenzy, to everyone’s delight.  You could feel the high levels of energy throughout the stadium.  The pops that the players took created audible “pops” throughout the audience.

The hometown team was losing in the first quarter, to the chagrin of Joe and the gang.  Mod had pulled the thermos from Kate’s baby belly when he was sure no one was looking. Kate hastily ripped off the hot sweater and fake belly and threw them underneath her seat.

Kate: "Did you get this sweater from Grandma?"

Mod: "Nah, it's one of Dad's old sweaters."

Mod pulled a couple cans of Double Dog Brew for himself and handed another to Joe and then to Kate.  Joe sipped his beer while the other two downed theirs like old pros and argued over who had finished first.  Kate and Mod grabbed more beers and shared stories of the time Mod had accidently soiled his underwear during a camping trip.  Mod tried not to laugh but couldn’t help himself.

Mod: “You guys are poop-heads.”

Kate: “Great choice of words, little bro.  You might want to rethink what comes out of your potty mouth.”

When the second round picked up, they poured their hearts into cheering the Pickers, while pouring more beers into their mouths. You would’ve thought the Fowlers had murdered the families of their rivals from the jeers they got.  Joe, Mod, Kate, and the rest that sat in their row, screamed expletives at the rival team, and a few death threats as well.  Mod and Joe had made friends with the group sitting next to them and even shared some of their beers. 

Neighboring Fan: “Yeah, they’re selling beers at the concession for about seven flippin’ dollars.  If I didn’t think security would be so tight I would’ve brought me some cans too.”

Mod: “Yeah I always come prepared, man. Otherwise I’d blow all of my allowance—er paycheck, on these drinks.”

Kate elbowed Mod in the ribs and the friendly fan merely laughed.  Towards the end of the second round the group started smelling something weird.

Joe: “Do you guys smell that?”

Kate: “What is it?”

Joe: “Smells like something is burning or something.”

They all smelled it, but it was so faint that no one paid it any major attention.  The Pickers were still down and so the group cheered louder than ever.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kindle Book Preview: Average Joe and the Extraordinaires

The Dating Game

Joe’s meeting with Principal Patrias had gone much worse than expected.  He was now the principal’s target, and the principal wanted him gone.  One good thing was accomplished because of the meeting though.  It had taken up so much time that Joe’s English class had ended and it was now time for lunch, or rather Fleez and Dozz happy hour.  He didn’t think he could stomach whatever cruel game they had planned for today.  He wanted to skip lunch altogether, but he was hungry, and if he was going to stay awake in class he’d need a lot more energy.  Most of all, he needed to be there for Mod.

Once he grabbed his lunch and strolled to his usual seat, he saw no sign of Mod.  That’s mighty smart of him, thought Joe.  No sign of Fleez and Dozz either, and that lifted the weight from the pit of Joe’s stomach.  He was able to eat half his lunch of ravioli and steamed buttery broccoli, which wasn’t half as bad as it looked.

Fleez and Dozz walked in theatrically about twenty minutes later.  They looked sad and sullen, but in an overacted sort of way.  They joined Joe near his mostly empty table and gave him more of their sad and piteous looks.  Joe tried, but failed to ignore them.  Mod isn’t here, so what will they do? he wondered.  There were a few other kids to pick on at the table, but Joe couldn’t really call them his friends.  Maybe Fleez and Dozz would actually direct their wrath towards him.  Joe would welcome it, since he was the one deserving of it anyway.  Maybe I should just join their stupid club, he thought.

Fleez: “Excuse me, all, if I could get your attention!  Womenfolk and gentler men, all eyes over here!”

It was another performance and it made Joe uneasy.

Fleez: “Well, it seems that even though we put on a great show yesterday, our red-headed guest wants no part in the joy that we bring to the masses, to our loving fans and subjects.  We have been searching for him since this lunch hour—which is also his lunch hour—began.”

Again, they poured on the fake sadness.

Dozz: “Unfortunately, the show for today is cancelled…”

Boos echoed throughout the lunchroom.

Fleez: “Is what Dozz would’ve said if I didn’t have our loyal minion, Byron rox-yer-sox, marching Mod to this very lunchroom.”

Cheers rang out louder than the boos this time.  Mr. Serano was nowhere in sight to even keep the noise level in check.  Fleez smiled like a madman and took a bow.  He rose and took another one on his other side.

Mod was brought in and didn’t seem to be offering any resistance to his captor, the humanoid gorilla, Byron.  Byron was roughly the size of three Mods put together, not in height, but in stone weight.  He was taller than Mod, but one really couldn’t say he had anything but average height.  His arms, legs, head, and belly were all wide.  He had a head full of dark brown hair that had likely not come into contact with a comb in some time.  His black eyes were small and beady, but looked even smaller hidden behind the excess of his fleshy cheeks and brow.  He escorted Mod to where Fleez and Dozz were standing.  Once they arrived, the kids cheered louder.

Fleez: “Now that the gang’s here, how about a bit of history, kids?  We can actually thank good old Joe for all this fun.  These great lunchroom games are a direct cause of him deciding not to join team Badd Azz.  Let’s have a big round of applause for Joe.  I think he likes this more than all of us.”

The kids of the lunchroom applauded and Fleez savored the moment.  He grinned and motioned for Byron to bring Mod over.

Fleez: “Hiya, Modrick!  Sorry for your loss.”

Mod: “What loss?”

Fleez: “The loss of your dignity yesterday.  That must’ve stung the ol’ ego, aye?  It got a little out of hand, I’ll admit, and the mess we caused was catastrophic.  How long did it take you to clean all that pukeball crud up?”

Joe noticed that Mod looked like he was suppressing a grin.  Fleez noticed as well, and seemed surprised by it.

Mod: “Not long.  As you can see I’m looking and smelling very clean today.”

Fleez: “That’s good.  Yesterday Dozz and I were just having a bit of fun.  Today is serious business though.  You see, Modrick, we want to help you.”

Mod's near grin was replaced by shock and confusion.  Something about the way Fleez said that made Mod uneasy.  Fleez turned his attention from Mod to the crowd.

Fleez: “We’re here today to help this poor soul find happiness.”

Neither Mod nor Joe knew what the heck to expect next.

Fleez: “So, Mod, let’s take a little time to get to know you.  Sure, we bonded a bunch yesterday, but we still need to learn the particulars.  Now, I’ve been told that your parents are from a land called Limeyville, where they have Lobsterbacks”

Mod: “Yeah, but I was born in the States”

Fleez: “Tsk tsk tsk, Modrick.  Mind your manners now.  You should never interrupt a man when he’s talking.  Haven’t your Limey parents taught you that?  Now, you’ve been in Orangetown a while, but no one knows who you are.  That’s pretty sad, pal.”

The crowd reacted with an audible round of “Awww,” as if they were the audience in some nineties’ sitcom.  That stung at Mod a bit, Joe could tell.

Fleez: “That’s okay, though.  That’s why Dozz and I are here — oh, and Byron too — sorry Byron!  We’re gonna hook you up, man.  Big time.  Aint that right, boys?”

Dozz and Byron nodded their heads.  Both were smirking and clearly enjoying the spectacle.

Fleez: “Now, Dozz, would you care to explain the rules of our hook-up challenge?”

Dozz: “Certainly, Fleez.  You see there’s a science and an art to hooking up.  The theory is that men and women attract studs and studesses that are as hot and rich as themselves.  We call this a person’s ‘league.’”

He used air quotes every time he said the word “league.”

Dozz: “Whenever you fellas see a girl too hot for you and you walk away: that’s you recognizing that she’s out of your ‘league’ and you walk away to protect yourself from soul-crushing rejection.  So, with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of Mod’s traits and have calculated which girls are in his ‘league.’  I’m happy to say that we’ve found a match.”

Fleez: “Yes, indeed we have, folks, but we can’t have our bachelor seeing her before he gets to know her.  We here at Badd Azz Hook-ups pride ourselves on helping others find deeper connections that go beyond physical attraction.  And so ... we will blindfold our bachelor as he and our bachelorette get to know one another.  So bachelorette number one, MBH, please come on down.”

As she rose from her seat, Joe recognized MBH as Meribeth Hilday.  She was a freshman like Mod, but Joe knew her from middle school and elementary school.  She used to be very spirited and rambunctious and full of jokes, but had mellowed over the years into the quiet and timid girl that she was now.  As she walked over to team Badd Azz, she was visibly nervous.  They pulled chairs for both of them and sat her back-to-back with Mod.  She looked at Fleez sheepishly, and waited for whatever he had planned for her.  Fleez himself flashed her a big grin and winked at her.  The crowd laughed when she sat down, and that seemed to make her more self-conscious. 

She wasn’t what you’d call a small girl, but Joe thought it was wrong to call her fat, not morally wrong but logically wrong.  She was reasonably tall, just under Kate, but had a much thicker waistline, thicker arms and legs, along with wider hips.  She had a squat sort of shape to her, which made her look much bigger than what she was, along with a humongous set of breasts and a big round butt.  Her sandy blonde hair was always tied into a knot or a ponytail, she had a large hooked nose on her face, and her eyes a dark brown look to them.  Though she wasn’t the standard type of “beautiful girl” that the region was known for, Joe still found her to be attractive.  The only major turn-off that he could find was the outbreak of acne that pocked her face with a multitude of tiny red dots.  She was cute elsewise.

Joe was confused as to why she was humoring these two.  Is it something as simple as fear, he wondered.

Fleez: “Now we shall help the love birds get to know one another.  Mod’s gonna be in for a HUGE surprise.”

The crowd laughed at that, and Meribeth flushed red.

Fleez: “Now, Dozz, take it away with the introductions.”

Dozz: “Will do, Fleez!  First we have our very lovely bachelorette here who loves moonlit walks to KFC and Dairy Queen, except without the walking.  Her favorite place to shop is the dollar menu, and not because she likes to save money — no, it’s because she lives by the motto: “Quantity over quality.”  Her favorite physical activity is something exotic called no-nay.  Whoops, sorry!  I believe I have mispronounced that, her favorite physical activity is actually “none.” Yes, none, folks.  Dislikes for her include cooking — because there’s a wait involved — and not being loved.  Her favorite date spot is the drive-in, which is pretty romantic — whoops again!  I misread that.  It looks like her favorite date spot is actually the drive thru.  It doesn’t specify which one, so I assume that means any and possibly all drive thrus.  What a catch!  She doesn’t discriminate and is easy to please.  On Saturday nights she likes to splash around wearing the bikini that she bought for that special day when she’d make some friends and they could all hang out by the pool.  Hey, we all have our dreams. Stop laughing!  She also spends most of Saturday pretending to play slurpy-face with rad boys, especially ones with rad red hair.  What a catch, aye guys?”

Hoots, laughs, and whistles came from the crowd, along with a bit of foot stamping and there was still no sign of Mr. Serano or even Mr. Zero Tolerance Patrias.  The faculty picked the wrong time to decide not to do their jobs.  Joe had seen enough.  He walked up to Fleez and asked him to end it.

Fleez: “It’s out of my hands, Joe-bro.  This is Dozz’s show now.”

Dozz was too busy reveling in this spectacle to notice Joe.

Dozz: “Now for the man of the hour.  The down-on-his-luck bachelor, Modicum Malington.”

Cheers erupted from the crowd, and Joe could swear that he saw the beginnings of a smile cross Mod’s face.  Joe himself was feeling embarrassed, and he wasn’t the one being humiliated.  How could Mod even slightly enjoy this?

Dozz: “Now Modicum’s likes include pretending to be Ronald Weasley, wishing he was Fleez and Dozz and sometimes Byron, girls he can’t have, and an unreachable popularity status.  His dislikes include himself, life, not feasting on souls, you, his haircut, his evil soulless ginger body, and having friends that won’t join team Badd Azz.  His favorite date spot is his mom and dad’s room cuz that’s where all the magic happens.  On his Saturday nights, he likes to make out with his elbows, which is a talent really.  You ever try that?  It’s very difficult to do.  He also builds Taylor Swift idols with his Lego collection, prays for popularity, and watches whole seasons of Glee that he’s personally recorded and sings to.  What insane girl here doesn’t want to friend-zone that?”

A roar of laughter went up from around the lunchroom.  That was it, Joe had to get him out of there.  He left Fleez where he stood laughing and walked towards Mod’s chair.  He looked to his right and saw Kate stomping towards the scene just like yesterday, except this time much angrier.  She looked at Joe with murder in her eyes, shook her head, and grabbed her brother by the arm, pulling him from the chair.

Kate: “What are you doing?  Get up!”

Dozz: “Hey, chicky!  We were in the middle of a hook-up here.”

Kate: “You two can do that just fine without my brother.  Let’s go, Mod!”

She pulled and he followed.  Joe ran after them this time.  Boos reverberated around the lunchroom as they dashed towards the exit.

Fleez: “It looks like big sister red didn’t approve of you, Meribeth, and if she doesn’t approve then we don’t approve.  Sorry, Meribeth, but it looks like you’ve been dumped before you even got to go on a date.  Harsh.”

“Awwww,” offered the crowd.

Fleez: “Now that was…”

Fleez and Dozz: “Off the hook!”

Joe looked back just in time to see Meribeth Hilday break down into tears.