Monday, July 28, 2014

Staying In Character

I've been thinking of doing this for a while, so I guess now is a good a time as any. A brief character sketch.....emphasis on "sketch"....for one of the protagonists of my ongoing project, Last Chance. It's sort of a mixture of The Avengers and The Wild, Wild, West.

Nothing really to do with the character (besides the Steampunk angle), but just thought it was a cool pic

Alistair (Albert Muldoon, in the States) Moore: A British expatriate on the run from the law for a crime he didn't commit. Deciding to use his knowledge of steam technology to fight crime, he poses as a 'Yankee' sheriff by day and a masked vigilante by night.

Born and raised in London, Alistair's father was an up and coming stage magician and his mother, a very capable escape artist and magician's assistant. He was raised in the wings of the stage and picked up various tricks of the trades from not only his father, but from visiting magicians, as well. By the age of 17, he was almost as good a magician as his father, though lacking the flair for the dramatic. His lack of dramatic flair was due, partly, in his grounding in scientific endeavors. A prodigy from a young age, he began working with the odd technology known as "Steam Tek" as soon as he was able.  

One night, while walking home from one of his father's performances, Alistair heard struggling in a nearby alleyway. Always one to do what was right, he investigated and found an abnormally large, brutish man mauling a young lady. Approaching the man from behind, Alistair hit him with a lead pipe he found lying against a building. The shock of the impact ran up his arms as he struck hard, waiting for the man to fall flat on his face. Instead, the man slowly turned to confront Alistair....a smile on his face. He quickly backhanded the young lady, caving her skull in before knocking Alistair across the length of the alley. Before the haze of unconsciousness took him, he saw the large man take the lead pipe and dip the tip of it into the oozing ichor of the girl's skull, then throwing it next to Alistair's, now limp, form. 

The next thing he knew he awoke in a jail cell, having been charged with the murder of a young prostitute. What was worse, they had an eye witness.....a frail, thin, and respected, doctor....a Dr. Jekyll...who had seen the whole thing. Not knowing what had really happened, he knew one thing for certain. He didn't want to be around when English law played this scenario out. Using skills he picked up from his parents, Alistair escaped and managed to grab some money he had been saving to open his own steam tek shop. Hopping a freighter to a "land of opportunity", Alistair made his way to the "colonies", then to Wyoming where he stumbled upon "Last Chance".

Ole' Alistair still needs a lot of work as well as a lot of fleshing out, but it's a start.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Social Media Fun!

The other day I was asking for some blog post ideas on Google Plus. I had a few, but none were really grabbing me and they seemed pretty bland. "How To Spice Up Macaroni and Cheese", "Rethreading A Zipper", and "Teaching Your Cat To Play Fetch" just weren't inspiring me. I needed something new. I needed something different. Basically, though, I needed an interesting topic.

I never got the post idea but, instead, got something much more entertaining. A, sort of, shared story made up on the fly by different commenters.

Each line was a comment from one of my circlers.

A shutter was banging in the back room

No, it wasn't a shutter banging.  Something was hitting the back door.  Hard. THUD-THUD-THUD!  The door slammed open.

At first it was just a glimmer in the window, but as the glow got closer, I realized it was............... 

He stood there dripping wet with a bleeding gash across his forehead.

and boom,there he was.+mark means

...Wearing a children's pirate costume off the dollar store rack. He had no idea how he wound up in those clothes. The last thing he remembered was...

...the last thing he remembered was a dripping wet, gargantuan man charging into his kitchen with the kitchen window's decorative wooden shutter in his hand.

It was the next door neighbor, Stan.

He had accused him of stealing his cat. He was clearly off his meds. Stan didn't even own a cat.

However, his wife was named Cat...... da da dum.......... 

And the Cat got his tongue.

And twisted it. While the storm raged. 

It's pretty safe to say that I follow some very witty, imaginative, and creative people on Google Plus.

Have you ever written a "shared story"? If so, how did it go?

Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Big Two O....Oh!

Believe it or not, I just noticed the other day that this was going to make my 200th blog post on "Left and Write". It was August of 2011 that I decided to start up a "writing" blog and really "get serious" with my writing. I probably shouldn't put " " around 'get serious' because I have gotten a lot more serious than I was about my writing....just not as serious as I think I should be, at this point. That's another post for another day, though.

Anyway, I thought and thought about what I should do for my 200th post. I mean, it's a pretty big milestone for me and one that only comes along once in a blogtime.

I thought I might do 200 situps. And, then again, I might just puke my guts out.

I thought I might write about a 200 year old piece of feminine hygiene equipment that was recently found in a trash heap under Manhattan's City Hall Park. Nah, something smelled funny about that one...

I thought I might talk about when America turned 200 during it's bicentennial, back in 1976....

Nah, I'm sure its been done before.

Maybe talk about the Daytona 200? I've never been much of a gear head, so no.

Then, it hit me. A very simple solution and something I don't do near enough.

I could thank my 200 (plus 3) followers (as well as everyone else who stops by and leaves comments) for sticking with me, giving me great feedback and helping me along in this writing journey. I really appreciate the time, effort, and community you've all given me over the years and here's to 200 more. Blog posts, that is...I don't think I'll make it another 200 years ;)

Thank you all....I couldn't have done it without you.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Friday Wrap....

It's been a hodge podge past few weeks around here and I thought, in lieu of writing anything substantial (ahem), I'd break out the dreaded "bullet list" to illustrate just how hodgey podgey (is that even a word?) and wrap things up.

On the writing front:

  • I've been doing pretty well with my 'top sekrit' blogging schedule and have actually managed to do some commenting on other's blogs as well as keep up with replies to my own....for the most part.
  • I broke out my old notes for Last Chance and have been working a bit more on that as well as alternating with my "Unnamed Lucha Libre Wrestling Mystery".
  • Some of the reactions to last Friday's post got me interested in checking out Stephen King's On Writing. I'm half way through it and really digging it. While I'm not a huge fan of his work (besides The Stand), this I like.
  • I continue to use Yarny for my main "cloud" writing app. Anyone else still using this or is there something better I should know about?

On the "everything else" front:

  • Updating a resume is a pain in the rear. Seriously. Especially when you're having trouble fitting everything on one page. 
  • My wife's niece has been staying with us and we're corrupting her in "old school" fashion. And, by that, I mean getting her hooked on old t.v. shows like "The Love Boat" and "The Honeymooners"....while I continue to preach about how In My Day, We Only Had Three T.v. Channels....Four, If We Were Lucky! She's a good sport though and a great guest in that she makes her bed everyday....a big thing, for me. Oh, we are also getting her hooked on the Nintendo 3DS (she's, usually, not so nerdy)
  • Speaking of "old school", we've been playing one of my favorite board games, Clue. My wife came home with some new, hipster version (it seems to be the only version available in stores, now), which just didn't cut it for me. I was forced to order the Vintage version and like it much better. And for those of you who don't think there's a me...there is.

Seems they have no clue...

That's more like it....

  • In the world of comic books, both Thor and Captain America are undergoing radical changes....that is, until the next movie comes out and Marvel switches everything back to how it was. Just my opinion, though. Who knows?
  • The Archie comic sure isn't how I remember it when I was a kid. All I'll say is that I'm glad I don't really read comics, that much, anymore. 'Nuff said.
  • Oh, and yeah, comics still cost over $3.00 an issue....sheesh. That's nothing "new", just an observation.
O.k, I think that's about enough shots from this "bullet list" and it's time to put a bow on this "wrap up", as well as a sticker saying "Do Not Open Until Christmas!".

How's your writing going?

Have a favorite version of a classic board game?

Does the world seem like it's, sometimes, passing you by?

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Office Space....

Where the magic happens....sometimes.

I've mentioned, before, my pseudo-voyeuristic appeal to reading other people's blogs and one of the coolest things I like seeing is other folk's "creative areas"....or "office space", as some might call it. I wouldn't call it that, though....I hated that movie :)

Whether it's the place where they read, write, or even game, I like seeing how people personalize a space and make it their own.

The above shot is my desk where I read, write,  It sits in the corner of our "Gaming Room", with my wife's desk facing the opposite wall. It's great for late night or weekend World of Warcraft gaming or just relaxing while we peruse our favorite social media.

The only bad thing about this certain space is that there's not a lot of privacy. There's no door to close should I want things a bit more quiet, so I can work on some writing. It's nothing a nice pair of headphones and Pandora can't help with, though, so I can't complain too much. Besides, at this point, it's only my wife and I so there aren't really that many interruptions.

The room from a few other views....
Not much wall space left...

The wife's side of the room.

A few objects d'arte...or however you say it...

Fun and games...
One of the main objectives of the area was to have a place where we could come to relax that also would also help in jump starting the imagination. The trade-off of privacy for creativity was one I was willing to make, and the space is much larger than the spare room where my "office" was before. There's also the added bonus of not having to relocate every time we have visitors (which is quite often). Plus I can always turn on the stereo (I, usually listen to talk radio) or t.v. if I need some background noise that's not music.

So far, it's pretty much done what I've needed it to do and I'm happy with the results.

What's your "office space" like?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Question of the Day.

I read a lot of writer's blogs and follow a fair amount of writerly types on social media. A recurring theme seems to permeate any sort of advice writers give to new, aspiring, or even older, insecure, writers.

You have to read in order to write....or, at least, write well.

But, do you really? I ask this, not in a rhetorical sense, but as a legitimate question.

I mean, don't get me wrong.....I enjoy reading and think kids should get into it as soon as possible. In fact, if family legend (my mother) is to be believed, I taught myself to read before entering Kindergarten on a steady diet of comic books, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and Sesame Street. I still remember those old issues of Sad Sack and Richie Rich strewn all over my bed. Even with that achievement under my belt, I don't think I like reading near as much as some people who blog or use social media. And there's nothing wrong with these people, either. I'm a very strong advocate of reading, especially critical reading. The type that makes one think or forces someone to question something they might not have, had they gotten the information from another medium.

I just feel a little......inadequate....I guess is the word I'm looking for...when some feel the need to discuss how many books they've read or have on the burner.  Like when someone says they've read twenty books in a month.


Not that I'm doubting them, but I have to wonder where they get the time and what sort of books they're reading. I'm hard pressed to find a handful of books that can catch my interest and draw me in, much less twenty in one month. Maybe I'm more finicky as a reader? Maybe I need to expand my "reading horizons"? I don't know.

Grabbing my Kindle Fire, I can scroll through the carousel and see, probably, around ten books I've downloaded. Of those ten, I'm in the middle of (and have been for a while now) Save the Cat and The Vault of Walt (about Walt Disney), and have just started Gaiman's American Gods.

While I wouldn't, necessarily, consider myself a "slow reader", I feel like I'm chugging uphill in trying to finish these books.

Going back to my question, though, does reading trump actual writing when trying to become a better writer? I would think that reading other people's work, while I can certainly see some benefits in it, doesn't really do much towards helping you hone your own writing style. Maybe I shouldn't even say "trump"....maybe it's something that goes hand in hand with writing and honing your own abilities as well as finding your own style?

I don't know.

I also don't want this to come off as some sort of "anti-reading" type of's not. As I said, I'm extremely pro reading....I just question as to whether it's imperative to be a good writer.

What do you think?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Another Five Word Review Post!

Having a wife who enjoys going to the movies has me seeing quite a few of them. The good thing is, we share a lot of the same tastes in films, so I can't complain too much......and she doesn't mind going to matinees.

So, seeing as how we've made a few more trips to the movie house, I figured this was a good a time as any for another "Five Word Review" post.

So, here it is....the Five Word Review, comin' right at you! (With apologies to The New Zoo Review)

In no particular order....

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past: Lots of fun, worth seeing.

2. Muppets Most Wanted: This one was least wanted.

3. I, Frankenstein: Interesting concepts, but poorly executed.

4. Kick Ass 2: I'd replace "kick" with "suck".

5. Pacific Rim: Love giant robots....this...meh.

6. Transformers: Age of Extinction: Prime riding Grimlock....'nuff said!

As always, with any "review"....regardless of word count....your mileage may vary, so always check out a film for yourself before taking anyone else's word.

Who knows, you may just find a gem that you really enjoy.....or the reviewer could be right ;)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Five Great Things.......

A view of the Cincy skyline from across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky.

...about living in Northern Kentucky.

From the age of 12 until I was about 41, I lived in Northern Kentucky....just over the river from downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. It's a nice area, mainly people of German and Italian descent and fairly Conservative leaning. Most of us Northern Kentuckians root for the Cincinnati Reds, the Bengals, and, of course, the University of Kentucky. There's also a close-by IHL hockey team, the Cincinnati Cyclones. It's where I saw my very first (and last) hockey match and, while it's not really the spectator sport for me, it was still interesting to watch.

Oh, and a bit of trivia....if anyone ever asks you where the Greater Cincinnati (CVG) airport can tell them it's in Northern Kentucky. Hebron, to be exact.

Anyway, since relocating to Florida a few years ago, I'll sometimes miss those old things I took for granted in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. There are quite a few great things about the area, so I figured I'd try to catalog my top five.

Here are my top five greatest things about living in Northern Kentucky.

A typical Northern Kentucky weekend.

Number 5: The seasons. Yeah, I can hear some people griping already..."It's too hot in the summertime and it's too cold in the winter". And, that's true. The temperatures can swing from one extreme to the other. It will be 40 degrees and rainy in the morning and 85 and sunny in the afternoon. It's no wonder my sinuses were always going haywire. We'd get thunderstorms, tornadoes, blizzards and even a couple of earthquakes (Kentucky is on a fault line) now and then. So, why is the weather so great?

Well, there's an old saying in the area "If you don't like the weather, just wait about five minutes and it will change."....and truer words were never spoken.

Great American Ballpark

Number 4: Events. Like I mentioned, the area has almost all the major sports covered. Baseball, football, hockey, college basketball, as well as NASCAR and the Kentucky Derby (about an hours drive south), of course. There is also a huge amusement park, King's Island, as well as golf and tennis tourneys at different points in the year.

We also have such regional events such as "Goettafest" (What? You don't know what goetta is? See the next section.), "Italianfest", "The Taste of Cincinnati", "Oktoberfest", and "Riverfest". Yep, lots of "fests" going on and most revolve around food.

And that brings me to my next category....

Number 3: Food. Oh man, this is one of the biggies. I really miss some of the food from the area and, mainly, because it's stuff I can't get down here. Places like Frisch's (where they serve tartar sauce on hamburgers....yes, you read that right), Gold Star Chili, Skyline Chili, and White Castle are all "must stops" anytime I go back home for a visit. I always ask visitors to bring down jars of tartar sauce, as "rent" for staying with us......just kidding.

Sort of.

Skyline Three-Way
Cincinnati style chili is a bit strange to explain. It was brought over by the Greeks and I once had a Greek friend of mine tell me it was more like "spaghetti sauce". Which makes sense because they usually serve it over spaghetti noodles with chopped onions and shredded cheese. It's one of the few places on the planet where you can ask for a "three way" and not get slapped.

Goetta and eggs

Oh yeah....goetta. Goetta is pretty big in the area and something I grew up on. Usually, you have it for breakfast, but it tastes great anytime of the day or night. I've heard it compared to something I'm not all that familiar with....scrapple. It's sort of like sausage and tastes better the crispier it gets. At least to me, it does.

Two Cincy area t.v. icons, Hattie the Witch and The Cool Ghoul

Number 2: T.V. Nostalgia. The local t.v. stations also held a lot of memories for me. From Al Schottelkotte News (one of the first broadcasts in the country to use a helicopter), to The Uncle Al Show, to The Cool Ghoul, growing up watching t.v. on the four channels we had was always a treat. We had channels 5 (NBC), 9 (CBS), and 12 (ABC) with WXIX (Channel 19) and, later, Channel 64 on the UHF side of things. I grew up watching Hattie the Witch, Uncle Al, The Cool Ghoul and Dark Shadows. It was also where I saw Ultraman and Speed Racer for the first time. Two shows that would remain with me until this day. There are a lot of times when I think I enjoyed t.v. so much better before the advent of cable.

Cincinnati t.v. also had Nick Clooney (father to George and brother of Rosemary) as a news anchorman for many years. To this day, I still think of George Clooney as "Nick Clooney's son." Another anchorman and one time mayor of Cincinnati was Jerry Springer. Everyone in the area knows Jerry Springer's real claim to fame and it has nothing to do with television. When he was a city council member he got busted paying a hooker with a check....that bounced.

True story.

Number 1: Family. Yep, most of my family is from and still lives in the area. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great grandparents (when they were still living) and friends. Almost anyone and everyone who means anything to me is here and that, right there, is reason enough to say that Northern Kentucky is a great place to live.

Oh yeah.....while not on the list, the best thing about living in Northern Kentucky is that you can have/do all of this without having to live in Ohio (ducks and runs!) Hehe.

And, for those of you in the States, I hope you all have a very safe and happy Fourth, as well!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG: July, 2014

And here I was.....all set to start my new blogging schedule. What? You didn't know about my new blogging schedule? Oh, well that's probably because I didn't mention it. I really didn't want to make a big hoopla about it because I want to make sure it sticks first. I have to give credit to the A to Z Writing Challenge for a great blog post that gave me a nice framework to start with.I'm going to try tailor it into something that's going to really work for me.

As with anything else, we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, my new "schedule"  has me posting only on Monday and Fridays, with the rest of the week dedicated to prep, commenting, and replies. Easy enough, right?

While I'm ashamed to admit it, I had totally forgotten about IWSG.  (Whatever you do, don't tell Alex!!!)

At first, I figured I'd just skip it, but then got to thinking. It's only one day a month and wouldn't really throw my "schedule" (do you like how I keep putting quotes around the word? Again, gotta make it stick!), why not?

I think it's important that writers have an avenue to express concerns as well as encourage others in their journey and the IWSG is an amazing outlet to do both.

This is why I IWSG in the first place and will continue to do so as long as I can.

Yes, I realize this wasn't a very IWSG'y post, but it's sort of relevant.....right?
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