A Writer's Wiring

I don't suppose to speak for all who bear this tribal mark of being a 'writer.'  The kinship of those troubled and tortured souls.  No, in this forum I merely seek to speak of my own troubled and tortured soul. To lay bare for you some of the reasons that I turn to the written word to find a solace that your 'real world' cannot give me. A solace it has never been able to provide.

Failed relationships. Failed marriages. Strained and abandoned friendships. All fall out from this otherworldly possession.

I don't blame the writing for the failure. Quite the opposite. I praise it for giving me release. Relief. A purpose. A method to the madness. The words soothe. The worlds created are many times more real than the menagerie I drift through on a daily basis. You see a person. Living. Doing his job. Doing what normal people do.  I assure you, my life is anything but.   It is a duality that only makes sense when I am in front of the keyboard. Or my journal. Pen in hand. Fingers dancing across the keyboard in some untaught, yet completely familiar pattern. A meter and timbre heard only to me. And to others of my tribe.


This dual existence isn't limited to just writers. I know musicians, photographers, filmmakers, all manner of creative types that feel this. Feel as though there is some higher purpose. Bringing something beautiful or different or unique in to this plane of existence.

But matter can neither be created nor destroyed. So for us to create, something has to die.

For me it was the notion that I was 'normal.' That I was ever going to live a 'normal' life.  What the fuck is normal about a 45 year old man, twice divorced living in an apartment among neighbors that know only that he is a deep dude. Weird. But he always has beer in his fridge and is mostly ok to hang out with because he makes people laugh.

That may be normal. I tend to think that it isn't.

The part of me that dies every time I create is the part that I'm quite sure I never had.   When I was a child, I would not ask my mother to peel (or unpeel) an orange. I would instead ask her to 'wrap one off for me.'  I would not ask for the light to be turned on. I would ask her to turn off the dark.

The dark was my unit of measure. It still is, in many cases.  The light has no defining feature for me without the shadows.  

Trust me, that is but the tip of the iceberg that is my inner sanctum.

This weekend, it is particularly at the front of my noggin. For a couple of reasons. 

I was getting out of my car Thursday morning at work and heard a snippet of a radio interview with someone who I could only assume was a consultant on a criminal show, a police procedural of some sort. And he said that the single underlying thread connecting almost all homocides was emotion. In almost all instances, the emotion of the perpetrator was at such an elevated level that it prevented them from actually thinking the action through to its natural conclusion. To where the consequences were not even a factor. The anger or other emotion (usually anger) was so high that it bypassed that pre-thought and went straight to action without thought of consequence.

So. That seed is there in the soil of my fertile imagination. Will it take root? Who knows? But it's there.

Add to that, the 24 hour day. After leaving work Thursday evening, i was called back in to work and was there until about 5-5:30 in the morning.  It was a 24 hour day in which 17 of those hours were spent at work.   It was a long day and I was tired.

Having already scheduled a 1/2 day of PTO Friday, my boss graciously told me to sleep and report to to work bright and smiley on Monday.

Friday afternoon was a time I had scheduled my car's oil change. Elliot, my car, was a bit overdue and she was getting a little cranky. Not to mention there was some recall regarding a key chime warning.  The visit could take at least two hours I was told.

I had planned to do some writing, but the impromptu full day off meant that I would be using my down time in the service center waiting room to dial in and work on emails for work. Fine. No biggie.

The visit went quickly. Too quickly. I had specifically asked about the tire pressure.  It was supposed to be 35PSI. They always set it to 32 and reprogrammed my tire pressure monitors so any attempt to put the correct pressure mucked with the sensors.  The paperwork said they put the tire pressure at 32. I went back in. They assured me it's 35 (I'm still betting when I check, it will be 32). 

So, fine. It's 35PSI.  I'm heading home from Marion and get a call from work. I need to dial in and work on some things post haste. The wi-fi at the service center sucked so I settled on a BW3's.  I did what I needed to do for work. I ate some wings. I drank a beer. And I started to head home.

I got in the car. All of my presets for the sound system had been wiped. To be expected. I was annoyed, but whatever. I figured the firmware update for this key chime bullshit would cause that. Again, annoyed, but I could deal with it.  

I threw the car in reverse and checked the screen for the backup camera image.

There was none.

The backup camera was not working.

I could find no setting to engage it.

The update had horked it up.

I drove back to the service center. It was 10 minutes to 6. They closed at 6. I know this. But I also had to express my frustration.

The reply I got was, "Huh. Well. We've never had it do that, but yeah. It makes sense that the update did that since the camera is part of the radio'"


I could feel the ire rising.  I should NOT have to tell him what I expected, and yet that was the look I was getting. "Yup. We broke it. It was part of the update. It's never done that before. What do you expect us to do about it?"

I said, fighting the urge to shout like a crazy person, "well. Are you going to fix it?"

"We have no techs. They've all gone home. We close in 5 minutes. You're going to have to come back Monday. I'm sorry." 

And it was the 'customer service sorry.'  It loosely translates to "look...I'm sorry that you're a dumbass and didn't check this earlier when we could actually do something about it, but it's about quitting time so fuck off."

I was livid. Like beyond rationally livid. I swore a blue streak on the way to my car. Slammed the door and proceeded to shout at the top of my lungs as I drove off. Luckily the windows were up.

I hit the main drag in Marion on the way to 23 and was shouting. Red faced, spittle flying shouting.

And I knew rage.

It was the stupidest fucking thing. Seriously.

The seed from the interview took ground. And I understood.  I wasn't thinking of consequence. I wasn't thinking of how stupid it was.  And I wasn't at all thinking of how irrational my reaction was compared to the situation that spurred it on.

In short, it was crazy.

I felt, for those moments, like a crazy person. A person possessed and capable of some real nasty shit.

And here is where the writer in me took over.

After the initial outburst, The rest of the ride home was spent analyzing the situation. Not for the cause, but for how it could actually be written about and used in any upcoming works. I dissected it and studied it and cataloged it. In the instance that I need to know how to write an irrational trigger for rage, I've got that in my back pocket.

And maybe that's my wiring. You recall I have always felt that I'm wired differently. I have spoken to a great many writers, some of whom I am blessed to count as friends, and to a one it's a similar tale. I don't think I'm the only one wired this way among my peers.  I take situations that occur in my life. People that I meet. Places that I go. And they become fodder for stories.

I don't think I would have really hurt that clerk giving me the vapid 30 yard stare, but I will in a story. Not him exactly, but someone in a story who makes one of my characters feel the way I felt staring at him Friday.

There are many iterations of a saying that essentially boils down to the following. Be careful how you cross a writer, for you may wind up in one of their stories.

For me, though, it's all a story. Everything in this life is a story. Some of it I'm writing. Some I'm co-authoring. And some of this life I am merely reading. Turning the page to see what happens next.

I wondered what a 'normal' person would have done had they felt that rage? I shudder to think.  There are times when I am very grateful for this affliction, for it gives me a chance to bleed out the bad stuff in my brain to some crazy narrative on the page that some find enjoyable. It is a bloodletting of the soul that I feel allows me to truly be alive in this world with its dull patina of half truths.

That is the weird wiring. To be truly alive only when the words are flowing. I suppose that is the gift and the curse. To know what it truly feels like to be alive, but to only feel that when I am completely isolated from everything and everyone in this world.

The true irony is the fact that I am still thankful for that curse. Each and every time I sit down to write.



Anatomy of the Lunchtime Bloggy Blog

I know. Sometimes I, too, am in awe of the fact that I'm still doing the lunchtime bloggy blogs.  In addition to the joy I know (I hope) it brings you, it fulfills a vital role in my life as a writer--it cleans the crap out of my brain and lets the other ideas for the other stories I'm working on flow more freely.

No. I did not just say that this blog is like a cerebral septic system. I'm sure that was just a miscommunication somewhere along the way. OK. It totally is. But it's the fun kind of poop-thought poop!

Nope. I can't even take that one any further past the line I'm sure I've crossed with some of you. If you're still with me, well done you! You have built up a tolerance to the shenanigans that will somehow make it to the page long before my brain has had a chance to process it and say, "Whoa! Holy Rage Bacon Fatman!! We can't write THAT?!?"

Some of you might be wondering how I come up with the lunchtime bloggy blogs. Others might be wondering why. We'll address the how for now.

Usually it works a bit like this.  On a good day where I can actually take my full hour for lunch, If I'm not going out anywhere to get food, I spend the first 15 minutes or so actually eating the food I have for lunch.

If I do have to go get food, all bets are off. I may or may not have time to get any blogging done before I have to be back at my desk doing what they pay more.

Pro Tip #1: Plan ahead. If I know I want to write, I make sure I have a lunch packed.

Now that the food has been consumed, I start the writing. There is one important aspect to this.  Even though I have largely finished my food, I still leave some around, as well as a napkin that I can use to wipe my mouth. This ensures that to the world, I'm still in the process of eating my lunch, or haven't quite finished it as the case may be.   This is important for people who want you to shorten your lunch to work on something for them right away that actually isn't an emergency, they just want to cross it off their list.

Pro Tip #2: Set the environment.  It should look like your'e at lunch the whole time, even if you're really writing for 3/4 of the time.

Another key item is the headphones. It is a social forcefield. People will think twice about interrupting you if you have headphones on/earbuds in.  They don't have to actually be playing anything, they just need to be on your ears. This is key because the headphones also give you permission to ignore someone that walks up and just starts talking to you. If you expose one ear after about 3 minutes in to their spiel and let them know you missed what they were saying, it's about 50/50 that they'll realize they're cutting in to your lunch time and feck off.

Pro Tip #3: Headphones are a social Force Field.  Use them. Even if there is no music playing.

Once the base elements are in place, I start writing. The topics vary and can be influenced by anything from something that happened on the drive in, a weird dream, odd food....really just about anything.

I learned a new term this weekend. Discovery Writing.  It's a nice way to say someone is a pantser.  A discovery writer discovers the story as they are writing it. As the characters reveal themselves and the story. Very little, if any, planning goes in to discovery writing. It sounds much fancier than saying 'I'm a pantser.'  Not to mention it sounds much less like something that would cause my name to end up on some kind of state registry, so there's that.

One thing I've found in this blogging journey is that some things will resonate with you, the 13 readers that normally hit this page, and some things won't. And the irony of it is, the things that I think are the throwaway-get-this-shit-off-my-mind posts are usually the ones that strike some kind of chord with you, the readers.  And the things I really feel passionate about or feel like you should want to read them, just sometimes fall flat.

And the key to the lunchtime blogging....the absolute number one key--you have to write like it doesn't matter who (or if anyone) actually reads it.

Pro Tip #4: Your Blog is for you.  If people read it and like it, cool. But ultimately, it is, at least for me, a way to clear my head. And in the end, the person doing the blog has to want to do the blog.

For me, I have to just get things out. There are some cobwebs that I clear out only in a paper journal either because they are too personal or too polarizing.

The point dear reader, that I'm trying to make, is that it's about writing.  I don't really have a system that I follow when I'm writing this blog. I wrote a post yesterday morning that didn't follow any of my pro-tips. But I wrote.

I write to discover. Sometimes I discover my pants. Sometimes I discover things in my heart that haven't yet healed. Sometimes I discover things that have healed and it's finally time to write about them.

It's a journey.  And I'm glad you're here for the ride. To be fair, I'd write anyway, but it's better with a traveling buddy.




Coming Back Down To Earth

It's the second Sunday in a row that I've been up before 8. The difference is, this weekend I crashed at about 9:30 last night and just slept. Part of that was because I was tired. Part of it was because I have a huge list of stuff to do that I just really didn't want to deal with. And part of it was because I'm a little down at the moment.

Through recent posts, you may have ascertained that I went to a writer's retreat.  Which is a fancy way to say that fifteen people with a common passion spent one crazy-awesome weekend in a secluded cabin with absolutely no filters. Well...mostly no filters.

I look at some of the posts and if you substitute 'writer's retreat' for 'first hit of crack cocaine,' it probably fits. The hyperbole and intense emotions are probably fitting for either scenario. I'm not sure--I've never done crack cocaine. And, sidebar, I think you can tell someone's general age by whether or not they call it "crack" or "crack cocaine."

Point being, it was very much like a drug-addled mega trip for me.  Centers of my brain that hadn't been active in years (decades?) were firing on all cylinders.  The passion for writing was rekindled in such a supportive, incredible, and ultimately unsustainable way.

The love and support of friends (both old and newfound) is a drug. Pure and simple. It goes straight to the brain and heart and makes an expressway between both that allows all the feels to just flood the system.  And that's what the weekend was for me. An amazing rush. I felt myself getting the support of people following this same crazy calling of being a writer.

And it is insane if you think about it. I mean, most of the people in the world have a hard enough time dealing with the actual real world that they are facing. Finding their roles in this crazy life difficult enough to play. So what do writers do? We make up new worlds, with new characters who also basically find themselves going bananas trying to make things work.  It's a crazy affliction. And I hope to god they never find a cure for it, because there are days when going in to that world is the only thing that makes it possible for me to deal with this one.

This drug. This amazing, amazing #BREEISLOVE/Rage Bacon/Love Pancakes drug had a pretty good long high.

Somewhere about Wednesday, though, it hit me.   I wasn't there. The safety of the retreat was now a memory. I had to re-engage the filters. I was again interacting with people who didn't understand that when I talked about killing someone, it was for plot advancement-not because I was a raging lunatic (I mean, I may be crazy--but there's no evidence of that yet). Or that my theories of governments being controlled by large international multi-conglomerates was actually for a story and not some bonkers conspiracy theory roaming around in my head (I mean it actually IS that, but it's much easier to bury that in a fictional story at this point).

I'm not going to apologize for the over the top posts. If there was too much saccharine narrative for you, then I hope your medical benefits include Dental. Those posts were fueled by emotion and love for these people that I call a family. But I know now that I was still high from the weekend as I posted them. The reality of the world around me has again dulled the brilliant colors and the sheen of bullshit that surrounds this plane has again taken its place. Like most addictions, it has left me wanting more. More of that. I have already marked on my calendar when the next Retreat is.  I definitely won't be missing it, good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

I'm not sad because I think that the meaning and depth of  all of the interactions and events of the weekend were imagined or over-glorified in my slightly obsessive brain bucket. No, I'm sad because I  am back to feeling slightly isolated. Granted, most of it is self-imposed--I own that. Most days I just don't want to actually physically want to be around people (and yet, I crave that connection--how fucked up is that?).

I went up to Ashland yesterday for another meeting/workshop of the North Central Ohio Writers group.  I gained some valuable tips on publishing, editors, agents, and how not to screw shit up when I actually do finish one of the 3 books that are on my works-in-progess list.  So that part was cool. I do feel included when I'm there. I feel accepted now, and not so much like the weird guy that comes up from Columbus that I felt like at first.   There are times, though, when I see how strong their group is and it clicked for me why the Writer's Retreat was so intense.

Because they truly ARE family. They plan their weeks around getting together and hanging out.  And I'm a bit envious of that.  As much as I feel a part of the meetings and events, I know that geography will prevent me from being a part of the family to that extent. And maybe they're breathing a sigh of relief. I have my moments of weirdness--although I'm sure I'm not going to ever hit the level of creepy that a couple of the attendees to some of the workshops have hit. The 80 minute one-way drive makes things like meeting up at Panera after work a little impossible or at least highly improbable. So, forging those deeper bonds are by proxy more difficult. That's probably another thing that made the weekend so special. Geography was taken out of the mix.

I mean, I get it. Writing is a very intensely personal act in itself.  And at this point in my life, maybe it's a means to escape. I don't really know how I want my 'real world' life to be right now, if I'm being honest. I'm still very much trying to sort that shit out. I have my routine of work...binge watch a series on Netflix..make poor dietary decisions on a regular basis...hang out with friends every now and then.

I guess that's what made the weekend (and the times I've gone to Ashland for workshops) so good--I didn't have to acknowledge that reality.  I could paint the picture of how great things were and how, because I didn't have a spouse, or a young child, or any other commitments like that, that I had ALL this time to myself to write.

It's a weird headspace that I'm in right now (I keep typing "write now" when I mean to type "right now"--pretty sure my subconscious is trying to send me a message).  I apologize for the dose of melancholia this early on a Sunday, but it's stuff that was floating in my head and I knew I needed to purge it. Sometimes, if I'm being honest, this blog is really not about you or for you at all. It's for me to do a brain dump of the good, bad, and the ugly floating around in my noggin. I have to keep the pipes clear for when the Muse decides to fires up the pneumatic vacuum tubes and shoot me something to write about with a hearty >FWOOMP<.

And with that, I need to go write now right now.



Starships Were Meant To Fly

Sitting in a Wal Mart vision center while my daughter gets new glasses, I am struck by something. How amazing it is that I have so many people in my life who are willing to help me reach my dreams of being a world-class, award-winning, best-selling author (there's no point in going at the dream half-assed now is there?).  It's really kind of cool.

And as I get to know these people better, these authors and writers that are fast becoming friends, I am realizing the concept of the rising tide that we've talked about.

Basically, in our collective of writers (both in the Columbus group I'm part of and the Ashland group that I'm becoming more of a part of (I think I'm probably part of the group, at least by proxy, by this point)), we are both the tide and the ship in equal parts. When we are the tides, we raise the ships of our compatriots up--helping them grow and improve and getting ever closer to their goals, whatever they may be.

When we are the ships, in turn, focused on our dreams and hopes and goals, the tide of those around us lift us up and get us closer to reaching our dreams.

It's a simple concept.  The thought that for any of us to win, we ALL need to win. And the more successful we become in making our dreams come true, the more we are in a position to help make the dreams of others come true.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if success was not measured in what you personally "got," but instead was measured in how much you helped others get that which they needed?

It's a sobering concept to think that even if you hit every milestone you have set for yourself as a success-none of it matters if you don't help someone else reach their dreams.

I used to feel guilty, or like I didn't quite belong when I was around these groups. It took me a while before I felt comfortable in my own skin, to the point where I was ok with saying that I WAS a writer (I AM a writer). And even longer still before I felt like I had something to contribute--come new insight that maybe they hadn't thought of. But I know I am and I do. And I know that being a part of these groups, helping each other reach our dreams is going to propel me quicker than anything I could do on my own.

Definitely a rising tide scenario. So to CMC and NCOW, I say...thank you for welcoming me and let's do this thing!

#2 Random Train of Thought
This is the third or fourth post I've done now on the NEO2. It's taking a bit of getting used to, but overall, I'm still digging it. It's definitely giving me the distraction free writing experience that I've really been looking for.

And the fact that I can just pull this thing out, grab some space on a table or my lap and start typing is the bomb.

Alright, my baby girl has her glasses ordered now. Time to get back to work.

Peace out inter webs,


Some Lunchtime Randomness

Sitting here in the break room at work. I have a handful of really amazing prompts that are glued in to the journal I started at the NCOW writer's retreat, but I don't want them to be some haphazard 30 minute appetizer. I feel that they are the main course.  I know that the people that wrote the prompts specifically had me in mind when they wrote them and I feel that a little time a care should go in to how I use the prompts.  It might sound a bit silly, but that's the way my brain works. Always has.

I have a bit of exciting news that, by the time this is posted, should have panned out.  I found a FAQ on the inter webs that gave step by step instructions on how to redirect my domain (twistedzen.com) to my main blog (this tasty morsel you are reading here).  The good news about that is, I can keep and continue to use the domain. I have to check my business cards (one of the last things that CS Graphics made) and see if they say "TwistedZen Photography" or "TwistedZen Productions"...I honestly can't remember at this point. In any event, I am happy I can keep the domain. I like it. I feel it's a domain that fits me.  I mean, I strive for a zen in my life...even if it is a little bit twisted.

Story of my life. Seriously. I mean, sure, some things actually went in a straight line, but if I look back on how I got to here....brah, that shit is twisted as fuck.

And you know what? I'm ok with that.  I wouldn't change a thing. I mean I might have changed the 3 near death and 1 on the operating table being kept alive by a machine for 5 hours moments, but even those shaped me in to the twisted dude you see before you.

And now. This point in my life, I feel like the people in my life are the exact people that need to be in my life. It's crazy. I sat in my apartment last night and just laughed. I mean, seriously all out belly laughs. And each time I saw #BreeIsLove on a comment or post, I laughed even harder. I can't put in to words how amazing the weekend really was. And that's not easy for a writer to admit. That I experienced something that was so otherworldly that I can't adequately describe it.

So...it looks like lunch is over. I need to grab a USB cable and transfer this over to a computer so I can upload it to the blogger site. Because, you know....low-fi writing in the hizzous.

Have a wonderful rage-bacon kind of day my friends.


*UPDATE* I giggled with glee as I hit SEND on the NEO2 and watched the words appear on the screen as if typing themselves by magic. True joy at the simple things. That's what it's all about.


Obsolete Distractions

I have been looking for a perfect combo. But to be fair, there are a few things I seek to attain the 'perfect' version of. And to be fair, when I say perfect, I mean perfect for me.

The perfect messenger bag (pretty sure I have it). The perfect back pack. I have 2. One for every day/work and one for travel. Still not sure I've found the perfect iPad case or not, not sure I will. That's not really one of the ones on the quest. 

I have found a nearly perfect digital note-taking solution for my needs (although to be fair, it's actually leading me back to paper...which is ironic and cool at the same time--I'm sure I'll have more to add on that in the future). 

Long time fans of this blog might have picked up on the fact that as I write a blog post, first draft, whatever-I do what writers call "pantsing."  Pantsing is where you sit down with no outline or plan, often with little more than just a prompt and start writing. As a pantser (there was another name that my friend Carma called it, but I can't remember that at the moment), but as a pantser, the key is to get in to the moment. To just let the words flow with as little distraction as possible. To that end, I had been on a quest for the perfect distraction free writing tool/software package.

Pen and paper is the obvious choice, but my handwriting speed and my typing speed are vastly different and by the time my hands catch up to my brain, many of the words and thoughts are lost or at least edited prior to me putting them down on paper (which is not something that I want out of the first draft).

Many word processing/desktop publishing applications have a 'distraction free' mode. And for the most part, that works. 

There is a great application for Mac and iOS called "OmmWriter." I don't know if there is a windows version or not, but it's damn near the most amazing distraction free application I've used to date. I wrote 25,000 words of my NaNo project on it and it was amazing. There are no bells and whistles, you just type.

I thought that having a typewriter would accomplish the same thing--and I think that it will, once I get those bad boys up and running.  I think that they will be awesome as a home writing tool, not sure how portable they will be. Hopefully, I'll figure that out and get them all cleaned up and working over the winter.

Enter the NCOW Writing Retreat. My friend Monica had a device that looked like some fucked up LeapFrog/V-tech looking thing. I had no idea what it was, but it had this cool translucent blue case and it was basically a keyboard with a little LCD screen. 

I asked her about it later and she told me it was the AlphaSmart 3000 (or maybe it was the 2000, not sure).  I looked it up and was pretty much gobsmacked.

It's a keyboard. With built in memory. The display shows you what you're typing. When you are ready to transfer it over to a computer for editing, you open up a word processing app and connect the device to your computer's USB port, choose your file, and hit "SEND."  From there, it basically pushes everything you've typed in to the open document as though you were typing it--really quickly. 

Like this:

It sounded awesome. But they don't make them any more. They stopped making them in 2013.

I figured that trying to find one used would be a nightmare, but I figured I'd give it a shot.

Turns out Amazon had them. Many of the models. I settled on the last model made by the company (or the company that acquired the original company), the NEO2.

It just came today. 

I'm at Panera right now, writing this blog post on it.

Holy shit does it kick ass.  It will last hundreds of hours on 2AA batteries. If you turn it off, as soon as you power it back on, it goes write to where you left off.

The keyboard is not anywhere near as squishy as a laptop keyboard. It's not quite mechanical, but the keys have some beef to them. They don't feel cheap. 

In looking at the PDF of the 278 pg. User Manual, they really designed this thing with elementary school students in mind. The keyboard is about the size of the standard Apple keyboard and very responsive, but still requiring a decent amount of pressure. 
It's actually kind of fun to type on if I'm being honest (and why wouldn't I be honest on my own freaking blog?!?).

The best part is that it's just meant for typing. I mean, the NEO2 does have some applets that can be loaded, but for the most part it just exists to by typed on. 

And I'm so cool with that. I can easily see just throwing this in my bag or a laptop sleeve and going somewhere to write (kind of like I did tonight).  Not tied to wi-fi. Not tied to power. If it got dark, I suspect I would need some kind of back-light (anyone got an old Kindle light?) but other than that, it's probably the most well made distraction free tool I've ever written on (short of the typewriter). 

Thank you Monica for continuing to shoe me crazy shit to write with. I'm going to stay away from the perfect pencil quest. I have a feeling if I got hooked on Blackwings, it would be all over. LOL.

It's funny. It's been probably 15+ years since I sat in a restaurant and just typed something out. At that time, it was on an old ass PowerBook (with the trackball at the front). It was a Denny's. And the book was a sort of stream-of-consciousness 'autobiography' of the first 29 years of my life. What I didn't know was that stream of consciousness style was really kind of my voice.

So, just a couple days after the retreat, it feels like I've come full circle. When I wrote that book all those years ago, I knew in my heart of hearts that if I was nothing else in this world, I knew I was a writer. And then life happened. And doubt crept in. But I found some really good friends (also writers) and I feel I've grown so much. 

It's kind of kick ass and I'm thankful that Chris was kind of pushy in getting me to my first Creative Minds Columbus meeting. And through them I met the awesome writing group in Ashland that just hosted the retreat that was amazing. 

You know, looking back, those milestone moments. Those moments when you can say that things changed forever on that day.

That was what the weekend was for me. It was a moment that changed me forever. 

Sorry..where was I? Guess I got distracted there for a second ;-)

Have a wonderful evening my friends!


More From the Retreat--Prompt and Circumstance

There are so many things to reflect upon from the weekend. So many things that are truly gifts. I could easily say that I can't repay Carma or my fellow authors for the gifts I got this weekend, but that's bullshit. I know I totally can repay them. I can repay them by bursting from this chrysalis and continue the evolution of my growth as a writer. 

The weekend was about writing and one of the things that helps writers is to have a writing prompt. There are books of prompts. There are web sites of prompts. There are countless rabbit holes in the warren that is Pinterest of writing prompts. There are no shortage of places from which to pull prompts. 

One of the cool things that happened this weekend, though was that each of us got our own set of personalized prompts. Carma had created prompts based on what she knew of us (and I have to say she was fairly insightful with mine). I can easily see using this again and again.
One of my 'personalized' prompts was to use this as the first line:
"I'm only telling you this because you won't be able to tell anyone else."

I didn't know where to take this, to be completely honest. The great thing about being a pantser, though, is that if there is a spark, my brain tends to start the movie in my mind before too long. If there isn't a spark, it moves on to the next movie or to a previous work in progress.

This one didn't take long. It's rough. And it's unfinished. It has yet to be titled, but it is something that came from the retreat. I'll file it away and work on it at some point. There are many elements and it's a story that it quite out of my normal oeuvre. So, we'll have to see how it pans out.


Chapter 1

"I'm only telling you this because you won't be able to tell anyone else."

I don't know what the look on my face conveyed, but her smile told me all I needed to know. It was the reaction she was hoping for. Although at this point, I don't know if it was the words she said softly in my ear as she held me close or the blade that was at this moment slicing a burning path of destruction somewhere just above what I could only assuwas my spleen.

I gasped. A rookie mistake. Although to be fair, I have never been stabbed before.  The tightness in my chest felt as though a cinder block was crushing my rib cage. I realized with the difficulty I was having with the whole breathing thing, that it was less likely my spleen that the blade had met. My left lung, perforated and bleeding tried to eject the metal intruder with little effect.

"Shhhh, my pet," she cooed softly. I could feel her hot breath on my cheek as the words left her all too perfect lips. Tears welled in my eyes as I remembered kissing them not moments before.

"You see," she continued, "it's all part of the plan. Not killing you, that was a happy bonus. You were originally supposed to live to deliver the message. I convinced the council that you could still be used to deliver the message. Well, not so much you as your blood."

With this she looked down at the chalice she held just below my wound. I tried to look down. The ornate handle of the dagger was all I could see without changing positions, a feat quite impossible at the moment.

"The world is ending," her hand still on the blade. "Well, your world at any rate.  Our daughter is the key. The key to unlocking the prophecy. All this time under our noses."

I knew that I had, at best, another minute before the pain caused the heavy black curtain of consciousness to fall. I had to act fast, if it wasn't too late.

I could tell she was still talking. Telling me of some secret. I knew I should be listening--it was important, it was about Coriander. But if I didn't act quickly, none of it would matter.

I moved my free hand up to the amulet around my neck. This time it was Lexaria's eyes that widened as she realized what I was attempting to do.

My hand clutched the talisman tightly as I closed my eyes. I could hear her screaming as I whispered one word.


And the world went black.
Chapter 2

I woke in my bed chambers. So as not to awaken my wife, I gently slid out of bed. Donning slippers, I padded down the hall to the nursery.

Coriander made noises of satisfaction as she slept. To say she was mewing would not be overly dramatic, it was the peaceful sleep of an innocent soul that knew nothing of the evil into which she had been born.

Heading back toward my bedroom, I paused at the study. There was no blood on the rich Persian rug. At least, not yet.

I stepped in and pulled my quill and a parchment from the desk that had been a fixture in this castle since before my great grandfather was, himself, a newborn in the nursery.

"We have a problem.  The timetable has advanced. The Council acts tomorrow."

I set the quill back in the inkwell. The parchment glowed a dull orange, briefly pulsing before disappearing.

I looked up to see Lexaria standing in the doorway.

"Problems dear?" she asked coldly, feigning what I could only assume she thought passed for the cute sleepiness I fell in love with years ago.

I smiled at her warmly.

"Not at all, Love. A last minute item I need Cedric to bring back with him that simply cannot wait for his next passage to the lower territories."  

I stood and came around the desk. Leaning down to kiss her on the cheek I gently, but firmly, guided her by her elbow back to our bed chambers.  My fingers worked a subtle protection spell much like the one I had just cast over our daughter. It would not do for Lexaria to get ambitious and decide to strike before dawn. I had less than twenty-three hours left and I would need all of them to stop her and the Council from what they had planned.

We both lay back in bed, but I know for my part I was not sleeping. I can only assume my wife was fighting similar demons of insomnia in the short hours before daybreak.

I struggled to remember details of an event that yet to happen. Everything was critical at this point--life and death.

My mind flashed back to the dagger. I normally have no reason for a personal protection spell walking among these inner chambers. The dagger was not one that normally resides in the castle. I could tell by the jewels that they wouldn't have any issues going through the protection spells. Both mine and my daughter's.

This was bad.

I tried not to get caught up in the emotion of the situation. I knew my wife wasn't skilled in the magicks, but she was incredibly gifted in the empathic arts, likely a trait that led her from courtesan to queen.

Chapter 3

I rose before she did. I knew she wasn't asleep, but she played the part well. I grabbed my robes from the bedpost and head downstairs to the dining hall.
Breakfast was hot and on the table before I had fully crossed the threshold. Making my way to the head of the table, I saw a parchment. The wax glob bore the seal of The Order. I broke it and unrolled the scroll.

"The Phoenix will rise."

As I set the scroll back on the table, it flashed and disappeared. A faint smell of sulfur was all that remained.

I was well onto finishing my breakfast before my wife entered the hall. Finishing, I set my napkin on large stone table and stood to leave.

"I have things to attend to in town. I shall be back by supper."  I kissed her on the top of the head as I passed. Walking from the room, I headed back to our bed chambers. Passing swiftly through them to the dressing area I chose the less obvious garments. Luther dressed me. I walked to the stables. Cedric met me there with a leather satchel.

Taking it I mounted my steed and pointed him south toward the village.

(that's as far as I got before we moved on to our next activity, which I believe was dinner).

The other cool thing about the prompts was that on Sunday we each got to create personal writing prompts for each other based on what we had learned of one another. It was a chance to give someone a prompt that either played in to their style/genre or writing or one that would challenge them to break through their comfort zone. I chose the latter for the prompts I created. 

I will, in posts to come, throw on here some of the results of following my personal prompts. They will all be in the very raw stages and may never see the light of day beyond that. 

But then again, they may just wind up being my next big piece.

Enjoy your evening my friends.


NCOWS Writer's Retreat Review Part 2: My Humps My Humps My Humps

I am still riding the high that comes after an event that one later recognizes as life-altering.

Dude. It was just 15 people partying in a cabin all weekend, how life altering do you think that really is?

Short answer? Very.

Prior to the retreat, I had spent less than a few hours engaged in conversation with any of the other attendees. I mean, sure, I had gone to other work shops, talked about writing, and done the thing where you give a vague but still slightly interesting answer to the question, "so what are you working on now?"

This weekend was not like that. Not only did I have to answer that question, but when I did it was met with, "And then what happens?"  It's a completely different conversation because I know that there was genuine interest. Not only in what I was writing, but helping me make it better.

There was a breakout session where we had to throw an idea out in to the ring. Something that we had an idea for but hadn't really fleshed it out. When I did that, four other authors chimed in and helped brainstorm. So...my idea of a serial killer that poisons passengers before they board their flights to parts unknown got some much needed fleshing out. I actually have a clear direction for the story and some plot points I hadn't really considered before then.

It was invaluable.

And then, when we all got the point where we read, to the group, from a book that inspired us, I knew that I had found my people.  It wasn't their reaction to the book I had picked (although I was pleased to see that it had moved a few as much as it moved me. "Illusions," by Richard Bach--highly recommend it).  No it wasn't that. It was the fact that as 14 different people shared 14 different books that inspired them, I got to know 14 different people a little better. I got to see deeper in to what makes them tick and more importantly in to what makes them writers.

You can't put that kind of reward on the brochure, seriously. It was a magic moment to me. Another in a long list of magical moments from the weekend. Those magical moments are what made the weekend life-altering.

"OK. All of those who drank the dwarven ale, I need you to role a Constitution check."

I rolled a 7.  Bree Underbough, my female halfling Rogue who sounded much like a cross between Madea and Samuel L. Jackson, was now drunk. As fuck.

Not only that, but there were rats to fight. Apparently this particular tavern had rats in its larder that nobody really wanted to take care of. At least that's what that handsome Jonah and his twin brother (holy shit this IS some tasty Ale) told us. So, me and a few other of this rag tag band went down to fight some cotton-balls with teeth.  That Gnome, Short Round--or whatever his name was broke the damn key off in the lock. Luckily I had my thieves kit and even though I was at a slight disadvantage, I managed to pick that lock like a boss! Mmmm chile, you don't mess with Bree. Girlfriend, I know how to get it done!

To say that the 4 (or was it 5) hours that we spent playing a one-shot campaign were probably some of my most favorite role playing hours ever would not be anything near a gross exaggeration.  I had a blast and stayed in character for almost all of the entire session. Even going so far as to cause something of a can't stop laughing situation when I followed our cleric in to the ramshackle shrine to try to convince the local padre to revive our dead dwarf friend (look...all I asked, in my best Bree voice was if they had any of them tiny little crackers).

In addition to building a character that got talked about the rest of the weekend (I would be lying if I said Bree didn't show up throughout the rest of the weekend at various times, and apparently even on Facebook last night), it showed me how much fun the whole D&D can be when you fully commit, balls in, to the role playing. Can't wait for our next local session.

I didn't create Bree. Cassidy did. I was just playing the character.  It was a pretty epic moment though when Cassidy looked at me and said, "You know, I totally didn't hear Bree as a strong black woman, but now I can't hear her as anything else."  I just looked at her knowingly, clucked my tongue and said, "mmmmm girlfriend. I KNOW that's right!"


While we were trying not to get eaten by a treasure chest with teeth, others were playing Cards Against Humanity.  The cabin was filled with so much laughter that any creature that fed off the joy and frivolity of others would have been in a food coma for days.

After gaming, some fecked off to bed. Others (myself included) made our way out to the porch again.  I felt that I had not fed the mosquitos enough the night before and wanted to make up for that oversight.

In all seriousness though, those fun times were about connecting to each other as people.  Building the relationships. And to me, a self-proclaimed introvert with social tendencies, those moments were almost as valuable (maybe more so) than the writing-centric discussions.

As the clock was approaching 4 A.M., I thought it best to head up to the futon for a quick nap. I knew they would be getting up at 7:30AM to start the breakfast prep. And sleeping in the loft pretty much meant that I'd be getting up as soon as people started to stir down below.

A handful of us were up after 7. I stumbled down after those handful and did my best to wake up. The breakfast casserole, toast, and Monster helped with that.  A discussion of the twerking that Val and I had done whilst making breakfast the day before came up somehow. Well, wait. I'm jumping ahead. first we had to wake Carma - our fearless, albeit nearly voiceless, leader.  Valerie volunteered, I tagged along. We had just improved a skit at the breakfast table and decided to go with that. Only that's not even remotely what came out of our mouths when we stood at the foot of the bed. Somehow it turned in to some warped rendition of the Sound of Music. Needless to say it worked. She got up.

From there the conversation with the others somehow made its way to the footy ninja monkey pajamas I said I was going to bring.

"Oh, I brought them." I said casually nibbling on some toast (YEAAAAH Toast!).

When asked why I hadn't worn them, I replied, "Because it's been hot as balls."  I knew, though, that wasn't going to be enough to get me out of it. So I trudged back up to the loft and threw on the footied pajamas and came back downstairs.

NOW the question of twerking (based on my bacon making methods that were revealed the previous morning) hit the table. And Val, armed with "My Humps" playing on her cell phone and I, armed with monkey ninja footy PJ's and a willingness to twerk in peoples faces as they slept, went around to wake up the rest of the cabin.

Again. Not something you can put on the brochure. But every bit as valuable as the portions that focused on the writing.

I learned an invaluable lesson this weekend. No, not that I am part of House Ravenclaw (although I am--took the test again this morning and got sorted in to the same house). Nope that's not it.

Here's the lesson I learned, in a nut shell.

And this retreat was a collective of great writers. I don't care if you can't read their published works yet, every one there was great. Great for the fact that we love writing, can't imagine what our lives would be like without it, and can't for a single second NOT help someone else who is as equally infected with this disease as we are.

That's what made it great.

Life altering, even.

Have a great Monday my friends and may you find those who share your passion, for they are your family.


NCOWS Writer's Retreat Review Part 1: Rage Bacon

I don't even know where to begin with this post. For seriousness.

If you have been up to speed on ye olde bloggy blog, you will know that this past weekend I participated in a writer's retreat hosted by the North Central Ohio Writer's group.

Here are the bulleted high points that I want to make sure I talk about, or at the very least so that I have them as triggers for future random meanderings.

  • Overpacked
  • What Happens In Loudenville Stays In Loudenville (except the shit I talk about here)
  • The Salon/Discussions
  • Love Pancakes/Rage Bacon
  • The Ball Shrinking Terror of Reading Works In Progress To People Who Write Way Better Than You
  • Prompt This
  • Writing, Because That's Why We're Here. Right? Write.
  • Best Role Playing Session Of My Life
  • Eight A.M. Twerk-up Call
  • On Finally Owning The Title of Writer

To say I overpacked for this weekend would be an understatement. Not a terribly huge understatement mind you, but still something of a captain obvious moment. I didn't know what to expect and therefore didn't know what I would need. I think had I known, I would not have actually taken so long to pack. There were things that largely went untouched all weekend. What I really need could be boiled down to a simple list.

  • Laptop or pen and paper
  • My journal
  • The required copies of my writings for the group sessions
  • About 1/3rd of the clothes I actually packed
  • Headphones
  • Cpap
  • Pillow
There were some things I was glad I packed. My D&D gear, for example. Also I was happy I packed Cards Against Humanity. That was a big hit during Saturday night's cocktail/game night session.

This is probably as good as time as any to get in to the fact that we all made a vow early on Friday evening. The weekend retreat was just that--a retreat. A safe haven from the worlds that we all came from. A place where we could all come and let our true geeky/scary/romantic/fantastical writer selves be who we aspire to be when we put words on to the page.   The things I post on here are not going to be any violations of any of the trusts that I earned this weekend. I was granted access in to one of the most elusive and scary places imaginable--the mind of a writer. And whileI know how fucked up my own mind is (and now 14 other people know how fucked up my mind truly is), it was comforting to know that many of the things I struggle with are things that all writers struggle with. And that I wasn't alone in that. I know have at least 14 allies to call on when shit hits the fan, or you know, when I need a shockabuku.

So...no secrets revealed, but there were some amazing moments and things I would never have been exposed to had I passed on this retreat.

I had never really heard of a 'salon' (no, not the hair place).  It was a guided group discussion. One person would pick a topic out of a hat er..bowl and start off a 15 minute group discussion about that topic. The topics ranged from Article Mills, to Free Speech vs Hate Speech, to how much warning to give a reader about the fucked up shit that may or may not be in your book. (I might have paraphrased that last one just a bit).

It was a really cool experience and I gleaned a lot of useful information from those who were further along in the path of actually making this writing thing more than just a sometimes blog.  And I like to think that the things I offered helped to further the conversation.  

After the salon session, we had the relax/cut loose/hang out/socialize portion of the evening. Some of us stayed up on the porch WAY later that others.

I figured that since I had to be up at and in the kitchen at 7:30AM, I should probably head to bed for a nice long 3 hour nap. 

For the breakfast portion of the morning program, I was on bacon making detail.  A soundtrack laid down by the Black Eyed Peas helped set the tone for me and my breakfast making partner.  She made the pancakes. I made the bacon.   At some point, someone mentioned how good the pancakes were.  I can't remember who said it, but someone commented that the pancakes were so good because they were made with love. They were quickly labeled Love Pancakes.

I chimed in that the bacon was NOT made with love. It was, in face, made with rage.  It was rage Bacon. The Rage Bacon doesn't care what you eat it with, it needs to be eaten. It gets angry the longer it sits on the plate. Through a strange twist of fate - the kind that comes from having 15 writers in a secluded cabin for three days - I earned the nickname Rage Bacon. It was just one of the many names that would be bestowed upon me this weekend.  So to sum up...the best way to enjoy your breakfast of Love Pancakes and Rage Bacon was with indifference. If you came to the table with an apathetic appetite, then you were set.

After the breakfast clean up and fighting the hangovers, we all met for a series of group activities. Paired prompts, solo prompts. Anything to actually get us in to the mindset of actually writing. The first set of prompts that we got on Saturday were crafted by the group's leader. And I can honestly say that I dig every one of them and look forward to writing either a short story (or perhaps a book) based on those prompts.

There were additional prompts given Sunday. These were prompts that we wrote for each other. Tailored made with love and also anchored with the knowledge of what you learned about the person over the weekend. 

I'm excited to write based on both sets of prompts. I know that whether I turn to them because I'm stuck on something in my current WIP, or whether I want to bang out a new short story, I know I have some kick ass prompts custom made for me.

Saturday evening came to the portion of the weekend that I think freaked most of us out on some level. We were asked to bring a portion from either something completed we had written, or something from our current WIP.  

The thing that was amazing about this to me is that to a writer, each and ever single one of the 15 people here this weekend shared.  A few in the group admitted later that it was the first time they had shared anything that was a WIP. 

And here's the thing---it was all fucking great work. 

This won't be the last I write about the retreat, but I'm getting tired and it's getting hard to focus when the prospect of sleeping in my own bed is so close at hand. 

But before I go, I need to talk about something major that happened for me this weekend.

I became a writer. I put on that mantle. I owned that shit.

But Todd, you've been a writer most of your life. What the heck is so special about this now, at this moment in time?

No. Not true. I have written mostly all of my life (since I was 7 or 8).  I joined the ranks of Writer this weekend.

You see, anyone can write. It requires no more training than what we all receive through our primary education. By the time you go from elementary to junior high school, you know how to writer. Going from Junior High to High School, we are told what to write.

So everyone knows how to write.

But not everyone is a writer.

Before this weekend, I always felt a little bit like a faker. There were people I knew who are kicking ass at this writer gig and doing what it takes to get their shit out there and published. Whereas my biggest achievement is that I'm stalled on 2 of my major works in progress and I blog on an infrequent basis.

Thing I learned this weekend? We're all on the journey. Anyone can write, but a writer is someone who gives them those tasty morsels to read.

Hearing my own voice as I read the story excerpt aloud.  Hearing the claps of fellow writers (many of whom blow me out of the water with the level of their craft they have mastered) was enough to tear away the thin veil of doubt.  I'm not just someone who writes things down.

I'm a writer. 

More updates to follow, but for now I need to go to bed.

Sweet dreams my peeps!
a.k.a. Rage Bacon


Obsession and Retreat

I am a writer. Not sure I'm an author yet. I'll get in to the differences (in my mind) between the two at some point in the future, but suffice to say that the first time I wrote just for me that wasn't something that was a school assignment and kept doing it, that was when I knew I was a writer.

So, about age 7.

Last August, about 37 years after I knew I was a writer, I took steps to actively seek out and become a part of a community of writers and authors.  Needless to say it has been an amazing year for my writing. True, not a single word has been published anywhere but this blog, Facebook, or Instagram, but that doesn't change the progression.

I know my writing has grown. And that has made all the difference.

This weekend I am going to a Writer's Retreat. A weekend filled with activities where other writers and I will be sequestered in a scenic cabin to grow the craft. And there will be some writing. Oh yes. There will be writing.

It may seem like a natural progression (and it is) and something that should be a no-brainer (it is that, too).  But it's a huge step for me.  HUGE.  It's me coming out and saying, "Hey. I'm a writer. And I'm serious about it now."  It's me looking at the other 15 people going, "yeah....I have so many fucking stories in my head that need to come out or they'll have me curled up in to a sobbing ball in my living room--Help."

If that seems dramatic, maybe it is. Maybe it isn't.  You don't really know what my brain is like. But it  is the next step in me earning the 'er'.  Going from someone who writes to actually being someone that can say "I'm a writer."

And I'm a little terrified.  I mean, not really, But kinda.  So...to combat the nerves, I find myself obsessing over things that really don't mean shit in the grand scheme of things.

The main obsession in relation to the Retreat is which writing tool I will take.

When I first signed up for it, I romantically thought that I would take a typewriter and a couple reams of paper. But the practicality of that never bore fruit.  It may one day be part of my writing workflow, but at the moment, it's not something that I can easily incorporate and would wind up hindering the process.

That led me to the 3 most obvious choices with what I had at my disposal.

The Chromebook.
The Macbook.
The iPad with a keyboard.

The three key criteria that I was looking at were portability, battery life, ease of use, and software/tools.

So, with those four criteria in mind, I started down the rabbit hole.

The Macbook was the heaviest with the least battery (4.5 hours).  The iPad and Chromebook were neck and neck with portability and battery life. The software gave the iPad the edge. The ease of use tipped it back to the Chromebook.

The question then became "What will I want to write in most?" If it was a straight up doc, then Google Docs would be fine. That alone would make the Chromebook the clear winner.

But I've recently started using Scrivener and I purchased the iOS version. So I could easily go back and forth between iPad and Macbook. I also have OmmWriter--a brilliant distraction free writing app that I used for most of NaNoWriMo. Both of those are loaded on both the Macbook and the iPad Mini.

This brought the key factors down to Battery Life and Ease of Use. The Macbook is the easiest of the lot to use. I love typing on the Macbook.    The iPad Mini wins on battery life, and with the ClamCase Pro, it's not terrible to type on. I do have to slow down a bit but overall it's a decent experience.

So, it's looking like the iPad mini is going to be the winner. And that's cool. But last night, in a conversation with one of the other authors, I realized that there may be a bit of alcohol involved in this weekend's events.  And if I need to type whilst slightly less than sober, the ClamCase has a strong chance of pissing me off.

Do I take the iPad in ClamCase and an extra keyboard then? It would wind up being something like this:

Sober typing:

 Not so much sober typing:T

Logically I know the answer.  The answer is the Chromebook.  With an 11 hour battery life and a keyboard that has a very similar feel to the 2009 Macbook I'm using, it's kind of a no brainer. 

That isn't going to stop me from obsessing over it until I leave for the cabin on Friday. I mean, it will literally probably be the last thing I pack in my bag. 

At the end of the day, though, no matter how much I obsess over the tools I use--in the end they are only tools. There is nothing about either of the three that will make my writing any better or worse. Any more or less pure. 

All of that rests squarely on my shoulders. A pack of Bic stick pens  (fine point with black ink) and a pack of legal pads would do just as well. And with the exception of the software, would blow the other devices away. 

It's a security issue, though, isn't it? Or rather an insecurity issue.  I think a lot of new creatives (painters, sculptors, photographers, writers, filmmakers) get it in to their heads that if they have the BEST TOOLS OUT THERE that they will have no choice but to succeed. I know I suffer this for sure. But the simple truth is, the hammer doesn't do shit unless someone it holding is. And someone who is wired to build something is going to fall in to a natural rhythm whether you've given them a $5 hammer or a $50 hammer. 

It's just a tool.

That's what I have to remember. And I think that's sometimes what I'm afraid of. What if the stuff I'm writing actually sucks? What is going to happen when other writers actually read my work. Not just other writers, but authors I know and respect. If they look at me, then my laptop and say..."does that thing play Solitaire? Because you may want to just stick to that.  Oh, not very good at solitaire either? Sucks to be  you."

I don't honestly think they would say that, but the doubt is a very real cloud that follows me daily. I can't speak for any fellow authors, but I have since lost count of the number of times that doubt has met me in the dark places of the night and asked me point blank, "what makes you think they want to read that?!?"

And I have found the answer to that question. It has been there all along. And it's the key, for me.

"There is nothing that makes me think anyone wants to read what I write. But that doesn't change the fact that I want to write it."

Whatever I take this weekend, you can rest assured, I'll be writing.



You Should Read This Book

I will be the first to admit, Romance Novels aren't my go-to genre.  However, a series of recent events has softened that stance somewhat.

You see, I've always been a fan of the paranormal and supernatural storytelling.  And that's where this comes in.  I fell in with a rough and tumble crowd of writers a year ago. They had one underlining purpose to the group, to elevate each other. It was actually pretty cool. And through that group of writers, I met another group of writers. One of whom is the very talented Monica Corwin.

Monica writes paranormal romance novels among other things.  She just released a new book, the second in her latest series.  In the interest of that whole supporting fellow authors thing (especially ones I know personally), I pre-ordered her second book. And I also ordered the first book (which we'll get to momentarily).  I will be completely honest, I wasn't sure if I would read them--they were romance novels at heart.  But I did read them, and I'm glad.

I was instantly sucked in to the story and kept turning pages to find out what happened next.

And now Monica has asked me to share a special deal. You can check out that first book in the series that had me hooked for a stupidly low price on your ebook reader of choice. Just click on the link below the pic.  And then read the book.  And then go leave a review.

Happy reading!!

From "On A Red Horse"...
Scarlet needs a new job, but Horseman of the Apocalypse doesn’t sound good on a resume. Three years ago she followed her companions to Earth in an effort to live human lives. But the moment she left her husband Tyr she knew life wouldn’t be worth living. Lonely and longing for her husband, Scarlet is on a path of destruction that could endanger all the riders. 

Tyr, god of justice, hunts his wife across the realms. From Hell to the Golden Throne, he travels until he finds her working as a phone operator. Scarlet is no longer the woman he fell in love with, and he is determined to bring that woman back to him if it takes the rest of eternity. 

Even though the Horsemen live on Earth, they are still responsible for guarding four seals that can unleash the Apocalypse. When a prophecy is awoken by a deity who only has her own interests at heart, they must go on the defensive to keep their homes on Earth and protect the seals. If even one seal opens, it will start a chain reaction that will force the Horsemen to take up their mantles and destroy the new lives they’ve worked so hard to build.

If you want to check out more about Monica and her other works, you should do that. Seriously. 
Here's where you can find her.

It Could Have Been Better

Some of you may know this (although I'm not sure why you really would), but I have T-Mobile as a cellular carrier and on Tuesdays they do this cool thing where they give you free shit.

Last Tuesday they gave me a free ticket to see "Suicide Squad" Friday. So, I got the ticket. I didn't realize until I got to Marcus (way too early) last night that it was on the UltraScreen. Bonus!

Now...I will be honest. I had no expectations for this movie. I really wasn't moved by screen caps and the trailer for Jared Leto's Joker, who seemed to be pivotal in the trailer.  It just really wasn't on my radar. I liked what DC did with the whole Suicide Squad story arc in "Arrow" but I wasn't sure how it would translate to a feature film. I think Warner Brothers and DC do and AMAZING job with their small screen work but haven't been really too much in to their feature films.

So -  did I accurately set the tone for the amount of fucks I gave for this movie? Cool. It's basically in the 'I'll see it when it comes to Netflix' pile.

But..you know...free ticket (and $23 of concessions later), and all, and here I am.

I posted a five word review on Facebook last night that some might have taken the wrong way. It was simply this.

It could have been better.

That sentence in itself has no implied goodness or badness. But it was interesting to see how people interpreted it. 

Note: There may be spoilers in the rest of this post, but I'll do my best not to.

So...It could have been better.

Oh...so you hated it, Todd?

Nope. I didn't. I enjoyed the movie.  As a whole I enjoyed it. Going in to a movie with zero expectations or anticipation is a great thing because it means that a movie will never let me down.  I can actually enjoy it for what it is instead of hoping with bated breath that it lives up to the hype I've given it in my head.

So it sucked then?

Nope. Didn't say that either. I have a friend who fell asleep during the movie, she said.  I don't know which part she fell asleep during, but I couldn't catch a nap at all.

And here's the thing...I had to pee.   That may seem like too much information, but here's why it matters.  I had to pee and I didn't get up to go until I was sure I had seen enough of the credits to know if I had seen the extra scene.  If I have to pee and I hold it, there's something in this movie that has captured my attention. 

And it was Will Smith. He brought a presence to the character Deadshot that was on point. And Margot Robbie was amazing as Harley Quinn. Leto's joker, while not my favorite rendition, was on point for this snapshot of the DC Universe that Ayer delivered.

So, yes. I enjoyed it.  

But it could have been better.

The biggest problem I had with the movie was these were villains. Fighting villains. And even the big bad Argus biotch herself who 'assembles' the squad is not really very likable. 

So...baddies fighting baddies. And the big bad really wasn't someone I cared about. I don't think the movie delivered enough of the motivation for the big bad to want to end the world. Had they done that, it might have made it more palpable or at least something we cared about. As it was it was like Oh hey...this evil is suddenly free--how quirky. And now they want to end the world. Charming.

That was the main thing...I just didn't care about the fight between the bad guys and the badder guys.

The acting was on par, though. 

The pacing and tempo of the movie were a bit off.  I don't know how to describe it, but it was like a record player with a slightly stretched belt..you knew the song. And for the most part it was playing the way it was supposed to, but every now and then the belt would slip just a bit--enough to be noticeable and make you think hmmm, that doesn't sound quite right.   I heard that they had two different edits, two very different edits, of the movie and kind of mashed them together. So that might explain that. I'm hoping that there will be a director's cut version of the movie at some point, because I'd like to actually see what David Ayer envisioned for the film before the marketing team at the studio fucked it all up. 

And the last thing I will say is....for fuck's sake..if you have a movie so clearly aimed at geeks, why would you shoot the IT guys?!?! 

Alright. Hope that helped clear some things up.

Peace Out!

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