Friday, September 30, 2016

Author Spotlight on Michael Cantin

October will mark the release of Blackbirds Third Flight, which features 10 authors and poets sharing dark, twisty, and exciting stories and poems. Here's a bit of info about one of our authors.

Michael Cantin is a poet and sloth fanatic residing somewhere in the wilds of Orange County, California. He writes fitfully between bouts of madness and periods of lucid concern. You can find him in dark corners where weird fiction and stiff drinks are most readily available. His poetry has appeared both in print and online publications. You can find his work in The East Jasmine Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, 50 Haiku, several anthologies, and other venues.

Read his poems "Tooth Fairy" and "Carcosian Love Poem" in Blackbirds Third Flight, now available exclusively from Lulu.com for a limited time. Click here to purchase!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Author Spotlight on Heath Stallcup

October will mark the release of Blackbirds Third Flight, which features 10 authors and poets sharing dark, twisty, and exciting works. Here's a bit of info about one of our authors.

Heath Stallcup was born in Salinas, California, and relocated to Oklahoma in his teen years. He joined the US Navy and was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, and Bangor, Washington, shortly after junior college. After his second tour, he attended East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma, where he obtained Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Chemistry. He then served ten years with the State of Oklahoma as a Compliance and Enforcement Officer while moonlighting nights and weekends with the local sheriff’s office. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife and three of his seven children. His books include Whispers, Caldera, Forneus Corson, and the continuing Monster Squad series: Return of the Phoenix, Full Moon Rising, Coalition of the Damned, Blood Apocalypse, Homecoming, Wayward Son, Obsessions, and Specters. Visit his website at https://heathstallcup.com.

Look for his haunting short story "Rats In The Attic" in Blackbirds Third Flight coming soon!


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Author Spotlight on Kathy Akins

October will mark the release of Blackbirds Third Flight, which features 10 authors and poets sharing dark, twisty, and exciting works. Here's a bit of info about one of our authors.

Kathy Akins began writing “for real” when she retired from a 30-year career with the United States Postal Service. She has won several awards with her poetry, devotionals, and short fiction. A love for history, family, and animals touches her everyday life and inspires her story ideas and characters. She lives in Oklahoma and shares her home with miniature long-haired dachshunds and a rescued Catahoula. Her dachshunds assist her when she presents dog-related educational programs for children in her capacity as an American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Ambassador. She is a member of Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

Read Kathy's story "Peril on Thunder Mountain" in Blackbirds Third Flight coming soon!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

If you love me

If you love me, if I love you...stop smoking.

Just stop.

I know it's your right to do so. I know you enjoy it. I know you think a cigar or cigarette or whatever won't hurt you. Or that you'll proudly take the risk, because you are free. But listen. Listen to me. LISTEN.

It's breaking my heart to watch my friends drag oxygen bottles around and to listen to you--you who once sang in choirs and shouted at football games--to listen to you struggle to draw a breath as emphysema and COPD steal the light from your life. I have watched too many friends die by cancer or heart disease. I have stood by too many coffins.

Don't leave me. Stay. Let's decide right now to stay here as long as we can. Let's live long enough to be a burden on society.

So stop. Stop now. Use enough patches to make yourself look like a quilted doll, sign up for every stop smoking program, use electroshock if you have to, I don't care what you have to do. Just stop.

And if I don't love you, do what you want. It's your life. But I bet you, too, have someone who loves you and you're going to break their heart.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Today was my birthday, and for me, it's the start of a new year of life. I like that my birthday is about halfway through the year. It gives me a chance to restart my New Year's Resolutions. They're, of course, the same as they were at the start of the year:

1. Lose weight.
2. Write more.
3. Pray more.
4. Meditate more.
5. Just be better.

The usual, in other words. Been reading various books about changing habits and using the Miracle Morning program, but so far, I haven't found my groove. For some people, they say, it takes longer to set good habits. I guess I'm one of those.

Not surprising considering the years I've spent enforcing and living bad habits. The ruts in my subconscious must be deep. Canyons by now. Got to continue filling them up with new better habits.

This coming month will be spent on Blackbirds Third Flight. Time to put the book together. I need to make significant progress next week. I may have to shelf the Today in Art project on Facebook I've been doing until BTF is in the place it should be. Priorities, you know.

Otherwise, it's the usual chores, doctors' visits, and life. What's going on for you?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

To-Do

A friend has been calling from Barbados to brag about his amazing vacation. But today, I had to tell him that his house had been vandalized.

Really sad.

Must be sure to remember to go and do that later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Goober

So I was terribly, terribly hungry and wolfed down my supper. It was hard to stop to give the food time to settle.

"Why am I so hungry?" I wondered. 

"Because you only had two cups of coffee for breakfast and no lunch, you goober," I answered back. 

"No need to get insulting; I was busy, and sometimes I forget to eat even though I know diabetics are healthier with keeping a meal schedule," I replied to me. 

"That's why I called me a goober, you goober," I said. 

Sometimes I'm just not a pleasant person.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Needs a sountrack

Watching the sunrise. Hmm. It's okay.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Help Wanted

I need a maid! And someone to clean my house, too.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Important question

Why is my coffee cup so empty? WHY? It's enough to make me doubt the good will of the universe.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Yikes

"I do have a set of lovely blue eyes. I keep them in a jar in the fridge." -- Bad first date

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Judge not less...

Just finished reading 142 writing contest entries. I'm supposed to be encouraging, but some of them need to be stopped. ‪#‎forthegoodofhumanity #grammar #spelling #storyflow #ohIamgivingup‬

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It's Time

Sometimes you just have to stand up to people and tell them to their face, "Despite everything, you're still loved." ‪#‎standourground‬

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rant 413

Rant start.

Just read a blog post in which the author said women who are overweight were "not motivated" to lose weight and would rather watch TV than exercise.

Ahem.

Since I can't punch the author in the throat, let me instead praise women with a bit of heft.

I know many larger women who raise children, who work jobs, who sing in their church and teach Sunday school, who enjoy life and laugh a lot, who volunteer at shelters and soup kitchens and food pantries, who write poems and books and songs, and who can cook a casserole that will break any diet. They worry about their appearance and they walk and they diet and they do their best, but here's the thing: None of us are going to get out of this life alive.

So if they choose to have that cupcake, they don't need their fellow women attacking them. They already have a society that's trying to say they have to be perfect, and it's almost more than they can bear.

If you can't support them, then get off their back.

Rant end.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The devil's correspondence

Dear Ex-girlfriend,
When you say you still love me after all the lying, stealing, and general badness, that means a lot...a lot of what, I don't know, but it's a lot of it.
Sincerely,
Me

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Often true

A rule of thumb that I have found often true: The phrase "I am not a racist, but..." is almost never followed by something I could imagine Jesus saying.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Not booking passage

In the new Star Trek trailer, they destroy the Enterprise...again. Is that three or four times now? That poor ship. Why would anyone sail on it? It's like the Titanic of space.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Wish List

I think I would like a self-driving car. It would be nice to be able to read or nap or watch a movie. People get upset when I do that now while driving.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Slow murder

Pinterest has been doing NOTHING except sending me diabetic UNfriendly recipes. Massively unfriendly.

I think Pinterest is trying to kill me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Plain speak

Well, a news organization has announced it was laying people off as part of an "expansion plan." Huh. If they expand more, they may not have anyone working for them. And that isn't called expansion; it's called "closing the doors."

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Query

And how be ye today?

Good?

Bad?

Upset that someone filled your house with happy chickens when you really wanted sad llamas?

Well, make do with your chickens. There are worse beasts in the world.

And they taste good fried!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Once in a yellow moon

I took this picture a while back with an old autofocus camera. Somehow, for a brief moment, it focused. Didn't do it in any of the other 30 shots. Go figure.


Sunday, June 05, 2016

Another scan of flowers


Saturday, June 04, 2016

A scan by any other name

This is actually a scan of a flower with the background (poorly) removed. I do like it, though.


Friday, June 03, 2016

Undying

Let me promote something here: Gail Henderson and I wrote a book of poetry last year. Gail is an incredible poet with a sharp eye for detail and imagery and a sharper grasp on language. I am honored to have poems appear beside hers. Here's the link to the book on Amazon: Undying


Thursday, June 02, 2016

GoT

I'm not sure I qualify for my GEEK membership anymore: I've never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones. I do play World of Warcraft though; perhaps that will allow me to keep my GEEK card.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Amazing Times

In lighter news: Amazon just sent me an email titled "Never Run Out of Toilet Paper Again." Apparently, I can have an Amazon Dash Button that I can press and they will ship toilet paper direct to my house. Hmm. Doesn't say if it will be delivered immediately or not. Maybe a drone would drop the shipment by, but who's going to bring it to my outstretched hand?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Frustrating

Struggling with my health and all my projects wear me down. I know I'm not exercising enough. But I stay too tired to do much. And I often lack the will. The results seem so far off. I truly need to find a local exercise buddy, but the people I know either are much fitter than me or have no interest in fitness at all. Still, buddy or not, I need to be exercising no matter how bad I feel. Easy to type, but hard to do. The story of my life.

If things go according to plan--and we know what happens to the best laid plans--I should publish Floozy Comes Back in July of this year. That's what I'm aiming for. We'll see if I have enough material for the book. Without a weekly deadline, I have not produced as much humor as I have in years past. Something about a deadline--and a paycheck--kept me pounding away at the keyboard. While some of the columns produced during that time weren't that funny, many were.

My problem is willpower or lack thereof. No surprise there. Hard to whip myself or reward myself enough to keep me at the keyboard. That's getting better, but I'm not where I should be.

In other news, I've been looking around for software to ultimately replace Windows and Word. The latest version of Ubuntu has many good qualities, and perhaps if I spent a few weeks with it, I would become accustomed to its quirks and abilities. Right now, I don't have time or the desire to do so. Particularly with all these projects going on. Today was frustrating because I messed with Ubuntu for several hours and could never accomplish what I needed it to do. I'm sure it's possible, but I don't have the hours to spend. My energy is limited right now, and I can't spend it on what doesn't deliver, even though it might in the future.

Eventually, Microsoft will make me mad enough to change over. Their policy of "change for the sake of change" is endlessly annoying. They have design people, though, whose jobs depend on them making changes, even if those changes are necessarily productive or useful. The changes will keep coming. You'd think they would have learned from Windows 8, but the lessons don't seem to have stuck.

This week:
More chores. There are always chores to be done. Always.
More dieting. Low carb. Never craved bread as much as I do now.
More writing. Floozy Comes Back and Murder by the Mile are the two projects that are commanding my time and attention. And both deserve all I can give them.
More editing. I'm trying to edit a story for a friend. It's too long, but I don't want to cut the "flavor" of the piece.

Hope you have a great week! Talk to you soon.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tech can only take you so far

In years past, I coveted the newest tech, particularly writing programs and faster computers. The idea I had was that "if only I had that writing program (faster computer, larger hard drive, etc.) I would be a successful author." Or certainly more productive.

And some of that turned out to be true. Word processing programs (WordPerfect and Wordstar--remember them?) allowed me to write two of my books (Murder by Dewey Decimal and Murder by the Acre) faster and with less errors than my Smith-Corona electric typewriter. And as those programs added spelling checkers and formatting, they became even more useful. Eventually, Microsoft Word out-marketed them, and I switched and never looked back.

However, eventually you come to the realization that tech has done all it can do. Oh, there are some writing programs out there that offer options for writing in various forms, but they help you only be more productive if you're writing in the first place. They automate tasks that writers do more often than other people, like creating table of contents, indexes, etc. They don't write the book or screenplay or play. Tech only take you so far; ultimately, your success in writing--or in life--is up to you.

This realization was hard for me. For one, it took away my justification for the latest and greatest computer--I had always enjoyed upgrading for the speed and sheer geekiness of it. The second reason it was hard because it placed the onus for my success--or lack of--only on me. It was...painful.

Lately, I have been reading and re-reading Your Own Worst Enemy by Dr. Kenneth W. Christian. The book has the subtitle on the cover: "Breaking the Habit of Adult Under-Achievement." As I've worked my way through the book, I've seen myself in so many chapters. It's like he wrote the book for me; I wish I had read it in my twenties. Over the years, I've read dozens of self-help and self-improvement books, but none of them spoke to me the way this book has. I cannot recommend it highly enough for any creative person who is frustrated by how they sabotage their creative efforts.

While doing the exercises the book recommends, I've also been working on three writing projects. I will publish at least one book of my own this year and hope to do two. Your Own Worst Enemy has allowed me to push aside fears and self-limiting behavior. I hope it--or something else--can do the same for you when you're stalled in life.

And besides chores and doctors' visits, that's my life right now. I hope life is treating you well. It not...make it do so!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Publishing news

It's been a long frustrating day, but many things were accomplished, some of which probably shouldn't have been, but there you go. In good news, much planning has been going on for the anthology Blackbirds Third Flight. So far, we have authors Heath Stallcup, Wendy Blanton, Jean Schara, Gail Henderson, and myself in place. We are "wooing" three others who will add new perspectives to the annual anthology. I don't know how people produce a monthly magazine, though. Just getting this out yearly takes a lot of effort!

In personal news, I also wanted to tell you Floozy Comes Back is also on track for publication this year. Yes, another collection of my mishaps and adventures for people to enjoy. It's good to know my bruises and pain are a funny thing for people. But in a loving way, I'm sure. Sort of sure.

And just because I'm sharing writing news: The first five chapters of Murder by the Mile are being proofed. I haven't scheduled that book for publication this year, but it looks increasingly likely that this will be the year of three books for me. Can't promise it, but it looks that way.

Otherwise, I spend too much time at the doctor's office. I don't exercise enough, but I'm trying. Don't eat right, but I'm trying. Don't accomplish enough, but by golly and by dingo, I'm trying.

How are you doing?