Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the Blog Before Christmas....

'Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the blog,

Not a post for a while, I've had nothing to log.

"Archive" header was posted on the sidebar with care, 

In hopes that some content, soon would be there.

The bloggers were nestled, some sitting, some in beds,

While cinders of writer's block, danced in their heads.

My wife on the couch and I in my baseball cap,

Making sure not to type loudly, avoiding a slap.

When, then in my brain, there arose such a clatter,

I gasped so loudly, my wife asked what was the matter.

 To typing, I went regardless of noise,

My wife shook her head, muttering "Boys will be boys."

Inspiration had struck, this much I knew,

My fingers a blur as over the keyboard they flew.

"On Lefty, on Righty, on thumbs to space bar",

The keys tapping faster than pistons on a race car.

The words started flowing, the sentences formed,

My synapses fired, my neurons they stormed.

A story began, about a man and a sleigh,

About a special time of year, it was called Christmas day.

This jolly old elf, was the hero for sure, 

It seemed crime was the disease, and he was the cure.

A vigilante Santa and his army of elves,

Sounded......too far-fetched to me, in spite of myself.

I let out a sigh, hit 'select all', then 'delete'

Such a cool idea for a story, suddenly wasn't so neat.

It was back to the drawing board, for the rest of the night,

Merry Christmas to all, from the blog, Left and Write!

I'd like to wish you all a very safe and joyous holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cheers, Cavanaugh Blog Fest

Two amazing things here....

The first is that I'm actually posting not one, not two...but three entries in a one month period. My past record hasn't been all that sterling, I'm afraid.

The second, and more important, is that this post is in celebration of an awesome author....The Ninja Captain, himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh!

I've only been following Alex's blog for a little bit but, in that time, I've come to find him as being one of the most giving, kind, and supportive authors out there. While Alex is, indeed, all these words I've used to describe him, he's also a bit of a mystery.

No one has seen a picture of this man. Heck, that can't even be said for Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. That's just how mysterious he is.

My job, in this post, is to do the following:

  • In +/- 20 words, what does Alex look like?
 That guy from Mythbusters....maybe it's the hat?

  • In +/- 20 words, who could play Alex in a documentary? (Living or dead)
That guy from Mythbusters....maybe it's the goatee?

  • In +/- 20 words, who does Alex remind you of?

A mixture of Hemingway and Santa Claus. He likes to write (drunk?) and is very giving....wearing a red suit.

  • In +/- 100 words, (excluding the title) write flash fiction using all these prompts:
    • Cavanaugh
    • Ninja
    • IWSG
    • Cosbolt
    • Guitar
I had just stepped out of Cavanaugh's, the fresh air a welcome relief to the stale smell of the bar. It was then that I saw the Night Ninja for the first time. As a member of the International Wrestler's Sentry Group...or IWSG, as we like to call it, I ducked into the alleyway, ready to don my Lucha mask and piledrive the notorious criminal into the asphalt.

As I prepared to leap up, I saw what looked to be a street musician swing his very new looking Cosbolt guitar up and aim it at the rudo*. He gave the strings a hard strum and energy, shaped like cleft and treble notes, shot from the neck of the guitar and blasted the ninja off his swingline and into a smoking pile of unconscious crook, thudding on the street.

I stood there, giving the man a nod and marveling at how one never knew just who had the talent.

"Wow, great suit!" he said, giving me a salute.

"Thanks", I grinned, "hey, anyone ever tell you that you look like that guy from Mythbusters?"

"I get that all the time", he grinned as he disappeared into the night.

*Editor's note: Rudo is the term used to describe 'bad guy' wrestlers in Lucha Libre wrestling.

(Yeah, I know it's over 100 words, but it's my sue me :P )

So, here's to Alex J. of mystery and all around swell guy.

I wish you much happiness, success, and prosperity and thanks for all that you do.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

IWSG for December 2012

It's first Wednesday of the month and that means another blog post devoted to the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The IWSG is the brainchild of Ninja Captain and author extraordinaire, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Alex is a very generous blogger and, if you get a chance, you should check out his stuff, here.

This month, I want to talk about.....last month.

November, last year, was great for my writing. I was kicking butt and taking names in NaNoWriMo. This November...not so much. I started NaNo (and was, actually, excited about it), but only got about five thousand words in before I gave up the ghost. I also missed November's IWSG post (sorry Alex!), something I've been trying to be diligent in getting done.

It seemed like life got a bit more 'underfoot' this year than last. I got a bit caught up in the election, then Thanksgiving came along and, with that, a one thousand mile journey to my parent's for a week. Not that I couldn't have got some writing in, I could have....I guess I just wasn't that motivated. I know that many people have much more hectic lives than mine (all year 'round) and still manage to do/finish NaNo, as well as other writing goals.

It's times like these when I feel like this might not be what I was cut out to do. I love writing and love coming up with's just that when it comes to actually doing it....I, sometimes, let laziness win out. This struggle comes up every once in a while and I've been thinking about just how I could go about fighting it. Then, something from my past popped into my head and it just may be the key.

I was thinking, maybe, diversifying my creative endeavors might help to fight the 'lazies', so I've started drawing/sketching again. When I was young, I used to draw all the time. In fact, my lifelong dream was to be a cartoonist (I was always a big "Peanuts" fan).

When I got older, it was to join the Secret Service (honest)....but, that's a post for another time.

Anyway, I'm hoping that splitting my creative time might help motivate me to get some stuff done on one, or both, fronts.

I still gave thanks this past November, just not for my writing motivation.

Ah well, a new month brings new opportunities as well as new challenges. It's up to no one but myself to take the ball and run with it.

So....hut, hut, hike!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vertically challenged jumble of words...

Back when I first got the 'writing bug', a little over a year ago, I started by trying to do some flash fiction a few times a week. In doing that, I would take prompts from Seventh Sanctum and then borrow the format from the 100 word story site and go from there.

I was just going through some of my old stories and found this one. I forget what the prompt was....maybe alien murder or something?

“I think she's dead.” the detective stated flatly.  His optical sensors scanned the curvy humanoid up and down, fixing on a spot behind her right ear. The faint 'whir' of mini servos was all that was heard.

“Hey, great catch Shorelok....ya think?” The Mind intoned in his audio receptors.

“Indeed I do.  No respiratory activity. No either heart.  Yes, I would consider this humanoid to be deceased.”

“Ok, sure...and what killed her?  That pile of salt next to her?”

“Correct.” said the android detective as he kneeled, pressing a small stud on the base of the woman's ear.  She seemed to shimmer for a second, then her appearance faded from a beautiful Bandorian woman to a dried up looking slug creature.

“Someone knew that 'she' was really a Lugosian....a race evolved from snail like creatures to whom salt was deadly.”  Calculations began running in his 'brain' as he stood.

“It was Sherlock, by the way....” an almost wry smile tugging at his synthetic lips.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halloween Horror

The Hunger

"Kid's awake again..." Vince mumbled as his slumber was disturbed by the shrill cries of his newborn. "Carla....kid's awake." He grunted, rolling over to give his wife a gentle nudge of 'encouragement' to tend to the angry baby girl.

The empty sheets told Vince that Carla was already up and seeing to young Natalie.

"Carla?" Vince said, poking his head into Natalie's dark room, her wails growing louder. "Carla, you in here?" Vince said a it louder as he walked over to the crib.

"There, there,'s o.k. Daddy's here." he said, scooping the infant up and cradling her in his burly arms. Natalie squirmed as he held her close to his chest, her wailing growing ever louder.

"Hey Princess, what's wrong?" Vince said, his brow furrowing as he started to become concerned. Maybe she was sick, he thought.

"Oh, she's not sick..." Carla said from a dark corner of the room. Vince jumped, startled, and turned to see his wife....her eyes glowing an eerie red color. She sat in the rocking chair in a corner of the dark room.

"Carla?" Vince said quizzically. His eyes growing wider as hers began to glow brighter. "How did you.....I didn't say...."

"No, you didn't have to. I heard your thoughts. I always hear them. You're a sick man, and that hooker secretary of yours. You're always proving what poor tastes you have in tramps!"

"Now wait a minute, Carla, there's nothing going on..."

"Spare me", Carla said as she smiled, "things will be taken care of....very soon."

"Isn't that right, my little darling?" Carla cooed to the child in Vince's arms.

With that, a low growl came from Natalie and, when Vince looked back down at her, he gasped as her eyes glowed that same, reddish, hue. She opened her mouth and, instead of a cry, a crack of bone came from her as long, sharp, serrated looking teeth filled her tiny mouth.

Those teeth were the last thing Vince ever saw as the 'newborn' struck as quickly as a cobra. Quickly and thoroughly, she tore large chunks of skin and muscle from her 'father's' face as he quickly dropped in a heap. Her tiny fingers like talons now, gripping into his skin for purchase as she began mauling him....chunks of flesh being devoured...almost, as if, drinking in his very soul.

"There, there...", Carla said as she moved out of the shadows. Her lingerie unable to hide the goat-like look her legs had taken on and her cloven hooves clattered on the old, hardwood, floor. She stood and watched as the child gorged herself on her father's flesh and blood. Hungrily. Greedily. As if she hadn't eaten in a long while.

She picked up her daughter, whose eyes were glowing even brighter now...a satisfied smile on her face. Cradling her to her chest, she gazed down into those eyes, smiling, now showing her own rows of serrated teeth.

"Another found unworthy, it would seem. I hope he won't give you indigestion. It's alright, though, you shouldn't have the hunger for a few more years now. By then, you'll have a new daddy...." Carla trailed off, smiling.

"....and, hopefully, he'll have better.......taste."

A loud, soulless, laugh filled the house.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IWSG for October 2012

Well, here we are again. The first Wednesday of the month and that means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group. Conceived by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is an exercise in expressing things about your writing that you're just not all that comfortable with. I've been participating since June and have found it to be pretty therapeutic. It's also nice to visit other writer's blogs and see that a lot of us aren't so different from one another.

This month I'd like to talk a little about social media and blogging.

These days, my main source of 'social media' is over at Google Plus. It used to be another outlet that starts with an 'F" and ends with a 'K'. No, it's not a four letter word....get your minds out of the gutter. The answer, as if you didn't know, is Facebook. I post a lot....some would say an obscene my Google Plus stream, as opposed to Facebook where I'm lucky if I log in once or twice a week.

Regardless, though, it's not the medium that, sometimes, causes the's the message. I always wonder if the things I'm posting are....

1. Interesting enough.
2. Relevant enough.
3. Getting the point I'm trying to make across.

Sometimes, on G+, I'll get a ton of comments on a post when I expected next to nothing and vice versa.

Now, how does this apply to my writing? I always wonder if what I'm posting makes sense. If it's structured correctly. If I'm even using proper grammar. Thankfully, the built in spell checker usually saves my bacon on spelling errors, so that's one less thing I have to worry about. Before I set out to get serious about writing, I wouldn't worry or care less about those sort of things. These days, besides content, it's always in the forefront of my mind.

The same holds true with blogging. I doing it right? It's rare that I get many comments on my blog or on my other, general purpose, blog. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Not that I'm expecting a lot of comments on my blogs. Those are for me and my writing.

For me, it's the writing equivalent of going to the gym.....I'm just working the writing muscle. I've even found that when I'm writing little notes, I try to make sure to capitalize and punctuate correctly. That sounds strange, I know, but it's exercise.

I think that, in this case, the insecurity can be a good thing. It keeps me 'on my toes' and forces me to, at least, try to keep things up to par, writing-wise.

The way I look at it these days, writing is writing so why not do it the best way I know how?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

IWSG for September, 2012

As with every first Wednesday of the month, it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The group, which is the brainchild of Ninja Captain extraordinaire Alex J. Cavanaugh, is a writing exercise focusing on what makes us, as writers, insecure and what we can do to try to fix these things.

This month, I'd like to talk a little bit about distractions. First, though, hang on a minute while I go check my Google Plus stream and my Twitter feed.

O.k, I'm, where was I? Oh yeah, right, distractions......

I once read that the best way for a writer to take care of all the things they have been putting off, was to start trying to write. Sit back and think about that for a minute :)

We all know distractions, especially in today's society of social media and the world wide web (do people still even call it that, anymore?) can really do a number on your focus when trying to get ideas out of the brain and onto paper.

I have dual monitors (a laptop and an external monitor) so it's twice as bad for me. I like to read, though, and I like to try to keep up on current events and I find it scary how much time I can waste going from one story to another. I know I waste too much time, even if I try to rationalize some of it by claiming "research". I guess it relates back to my post on being bored.

Hang on while I check my Tumblr....

O.k, I'm back.

So, anyway, for me it's pretty easy to get distracted and compounds my insecurity about writing. It's just one of those things I need to work on and realize when I'm doing it, so I can combat it better.

On a more positive note, I've managed to start editing my NaNo story from last year. I don't have an definitive ending yet....but I've started going through it and that's a plus.

I've also started outlining my story for this year's NaNo project as well as starting work on a short story in a genre I've always wanted to try.....mystery.

Now, maybe, if I can confine my distractions to those three things, I'll get at least one of them done??

Here's hoping!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Those thrilling days of yesteryear.

I squarely lay the blame on my dad's shoulders. It's totally all his fault. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be in the mindset that I'm in today.

What am I talking about, exactly?

I'm talking about my love for "old time" radio. You know...The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Nero Wolfe, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny...and the list goes on. Radio dramas and variety type shows that dominated the airwaves before the advent of that little thing we know as 'television'.

You see, when I was younger my dad gave me this little transistor radio. I'm not sure just where he got it at and, for all I know, it could have been fairly state of the art. It wasn't given as a gift or anything, more like a 'hey I had this sitting around the want it?' sort of thing.

It would be about ten or twelve years before we'd hear about anything as handy as a 'walkman', so I had to make due. I had a little ear bud (singular) that plugged into the side and I used the cord to fasten the radio, itself, onto my belt loop. I remember going on bike rides around the neighborhood and listening to all sorts of music, but mainly country. Hey, don't laugh, it's what I grew up on and it was Kentucky, after all.

When the sun went down, though, that's when the good stuff came on the air. I forget which channel it was, some A.M. station, I'm sure, but they'd have different shows on each night of the week. Of course, all these came on after my bedtime but, thanks to that transistor radio which I would put in my pillowcase and lay my head next to, I could still tune in while my parents thought I was turning in.

They had The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, and The Green Hornet in rotation, mixed in with some variety shows and on Saturday, if I remember correctly, they'd have The Grand Old Opry. Like I said, it was Kentucky.

I think I always "got" how the medium of radio could be so popular back before the days of stimulated the imagination.

 I mean, if you let it.

I was constantly picturing the scenes in my head. The Lone Ranger capturing a group of cattle rustlers, The Shadow bringing down shady mobsters, even such shows as The Great Gildersleeve had me picturing a laughing audience in response to the character's expressions that I made up as they delivered their lines.

I think that might be a part of why I enjoy writing. It's one of the few outlets that you can really let your imagination go with, anymore. It seems that all our 'entertainment' is prepackaged for us...t.v., the internet, video games. They all take us for a ride, in certain instances, but it's their ride. We don't have much input besides, maybe, some commentary or discussion. Now, I do recognize that it took people with imagination (somewhat) to create those shows, games, content, etc., but I don't feel it, necessarily, drives their target audience to use their imagination.

Anyway, I still love old radio shows to this day....really. Just ask my wife what we listen to on long car trips and she'll tell you, while rolling her eyes...

"Mark's old time radio cds."

So, thanks dad, for that little transistor radio. Not only was it a music device, but also a key to a wondrous land of imagination.

Oh, by the way, if you want to check out some old time radio head over to . They have tons of old shows....for free (my favorite price) You can download or just listen online. Give it a shot, you never know what you may find in those 'thrilling days of yesteryear'.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

IWSG for August, 2012

It's the first Wednesday of the month and you know what the means, right? What do you mean you don't know what that means?

Why, it means it's time for another post in the Insecure Writer's Support Group series. The brainchild of uber-author and ninja captain, Alex J.Cavanaugh, it's a time for folks to share just what, about being a writer or writing, makes them insecure and what steps they can do/are doing to quell that insecurity.

So, here goes....

Back when I decided that I'd like to get a bit more serious about my writing, I ran across some people on my social media outlets (Google Plus, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.) who seemed a do I say this.......overly enthusiastic. Not that there's anything wrong with having passion for writing. In fact,I strictly believe that passion is one of the main ingredients in becoming a successful writer. At first look, though, some seemed a bit on the 'off' side.

These people would say such things such as....

"Oh wow, I was trying to sleep but I just couldn't. My characters were screaming at me about the predicament that I had put them in, so I just had to get up and write!!"

"My characters talk to me all the time!!"

"Woe is muse has left for parts unknown and I'm at such a loss. I just can't write today! Le swoon..."

"Ugh! I've only read 1,000 books this year! I'm 500 short of where I wanted to be!"

Things like that. Now, again, don't get me wrong. There isn't anything wrong with the above examples and, yes, I'm exaggerating just a bit here, but the more stuff like that I saw from more people, the more I began thinking....

"My characters don't really 'talk' to me."

"I'm supposed to have a muse?"

"Am I really cut out for this sort of thing?"

"Can I do something like this?"

Make no mistake I do enjoy writing. I've always loved telling stories and have always had a very active imagination but, some of this stuff had me doubting my resolve. Then, a funny thing began to happen. The more I wrote, the more I began to realize something that never occurred to me at the beginning.... was all a part of their process. It made perfect sense.

Their process.

It's how they got motivated. It was what helped them along. I then began to understand that I, too, would find my own process. What would motivate me. What would help send me on my way to literary stardom or, at the very least, satisfying writing.

While I still am finding my process, it's slowly becoming more clear to me with every passing story I write, every blog entry, every posting on Google Plus and Twitter. Yes, I count social media as 'writing' are writing. It may not be perfect structure and there may not be a 'story', per se', but you're still putting words down in an order that (you hope) will make sense. To me, those are all steps in the process and helping to find my 'writing voice'.

 Finding your voice is important and when I really find mine, I think I'll be just fine.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

IWSG for July, 2012

It's that time again. The first Wednesday of the month is dedicated to the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Yes, I do realize that it's, actually, Tuesday but, due to the Fourth of July holiday, I'm posting a day early....smartypants.  Anywho, the IWSG is where we take the time to post about things that, as writers, make us feel not as comfortable as we'd like in the world of writing. We also discuss how we can fix theses things as well as showing our support for other, struggling, writers via blog visits, etc.

This month I'd like to touch on a topic that pops up quite frequently when I write.

Boredom. yawwwwwnnnn.....

Sometimes, I'll get these little kernels of a story idea and think "Man, this sounds like a great story!". Then, I'l start off just writing the story. As I start to put my ideas down, it just won't flow. It seems to drag on and the 'voice' of the story begins to drone in my head. It leads to a lot of frustration and insecurity for me and, sometimes, has me thinking "Am I really cut out or this?"

I think, for me, it boils down to one, underlying, detail......


I think my main problem is that, for some strange reason, (o.k.,I know it's not a strange reason....I'm just impatient.) I expect the story to just flow out of me. To magically appear from my brain, to my fingertips, and to the keyboard. The only problem with this line of thought is....that's not really how my process works.

And. I. Know. This!!

My process takes much, much, more time. Like doing paper mache' (which I've only done a few times in my life, but still...), one must build on layers. It's like the old analogy of building a house....start with the foundation, blah, blah, blah.

I think my issue is, that I'm wanting 'house'-worthy results with only wanting to put forth 'shack'-worthy effort. Does that make me a 'shacker' instead of a 'slacker'?

How do I combat this?
  1. I have to remember that not everything I'm writing has to be 'flash fiction'.
  2. Remind myself that it's o.k. to take my time and pay attention to the details.
  3. Outline!!!!!!
  4. Duck and weave like Muhammad Ali. Hit the story, then pull back and give it some room.....then, hit it again.
  5. Outline!!!!
  6. Learn to love the process and not just the finished result.
  7. Did I mention.....Outline!!!!!?
When I did NaNo, I had outlined the bulk of it, which helped tremendously. Not that I didn't stray from the outline but, at least, it gave me some good framework to build upon after I ran out of outline and was 'winging it' near the end.

My formula is a pretty simple one:

Patience+More effort+Better Detail = Mark being less bored and writing more!

It's simple in theory but, in practice, takes 'house'-worthy effort.

Definitely something I'll be needing to work on more as I strive to not be such an 'insecure' writer.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tumblin' Dice

"I must consult the bones..."

No, this post has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones song , but everything to do with a neat little bit of coolness that I picked up at the store today.

It's called Rory's Story Cubes and comes with nine, six sided, dice with various pictures on each side, a small 'rules' (though they're more like guidelines) sheet, and an orange drawstring bag.

Described as a "pocket sized creative story generator"  the instructions guidelines suggest the following uses:

  • Party game or ice breaker
  • Problem solving
  • Creative inspiration
  • Speaking and listening skills
  • Mental workout
  • Literacy development

The flip-side of the sheet describes three styles of play, whether solo or with friends, and those are only scratching the surface. I thought they'd be neat for doing some flash fiction or even giving the old creative juices a jump start when stuck for a scene in an even longer story.

I always like coming across these nifty little surprises in helping foster creativity. For about $8.00, I didn't think I could go wrong.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Story Cubes check out their site, here.

The above picture is a roll I did prior to typing this up and, since this is a 'writing' blog and all, I figured I'd try a little flash fiction for an inaugural run

Once upon a time there was a very unsuccessful actor [twin masks] who wasn't sure what his life would be like if he wasn't able to do the thing he loved most....acting. Time and time again, he was told "Look kid, you're just no good." Laying in bed one night, he made a decision. Not wanting to give up his dream, yet knowing he had to make money, he decided to try his hand at being a private investigator [magnifying glass]. There he could make his own hours and still try to land acting jobs.

Getting his license was easy enough, getting paying clients....well, that was another story. He printed up business cards and began spreading the word that he was available for work. The main problem being that people in town all knew him as 'that bad actor fellow'. A break came his way when a young woman, from the nearby Dakota Indian reservation [wigwam] arrived wanting to hire him for a mysterious case. You see, the reservation was remote enough that, while word had gotten out about a new investigator in town, the fact that he had also been a failed actor had not. She told the tale of how she was the guardian of the last bit of the "Tree of Life" [tree]. This mystical tree had been under her tribe's protection for centuries, each protector being a member of her bloodline. The tree had many amazing qualities. It could cure the sick, make the old young, extend one's life, and even raise the dead. Thieves, war, and the ravages of time itself had taken it's toll on the tree, reducing the once proud object to a mere leaf. When the detective expressed his skepticism, the woman implored him to help her. The police were of no use and every other investigator had laughed her out of their offices.

He was her last hope.

Knowing a little bit what it was like to have your hopes and dreams dashed he, reluctantly, took the case. Though he wasn't the best actor out there, he had determination and decided that if it was the last thing he'd do, he'd find that Leaf of Life.

The case started off easy, at first, then things began to get tougher. Trails cooled and the weeks began turning into months. The months into years....many moons, as the Indians would say [moon]. The case took him all over the world [planet] and it affected his health. His determination never wavered, though, and he finally did find the Leaf....but, the toll it took on his body was evident [cane]as he came back to the Dakota woman battered and broken, but with a new found gleam in his eye.

She smiled and thanked the detective as he handed over the leaf, noting his new demeanor, while feeling bad for his sorry physical condition.

"Aww...don't feel bad, sweetheart", he told her with a wry grin, "this was the best thing that ever happened to me. It gave me something I had been missing all those years while I was trying to become an actor. It gave me new insight into gave me character. One could say it gave me a more magnetic personality." [magnet]

"My tribe is grateful to you." she said.

"Not for returning the leaf, anyone could have done that, but for doing what no one else was willing to do for us."


The detective smiled as she took his hand and placed the leaf in it.

"Take this", she said, "eat it and it will cure you. As the Tree's protector it is not only my right.....but my honor to give this to you. Take this and follow your dream. You are ready now."

Not knowing what to say, he simply ate the leaf. The change was almost immediate as his broken body began healing itself. Old wounds were healed as old skin was made young again. The gleam in his eye became even brighter and he stood proud and tall. He now knew he could do anything he set his mind to...his confidence and resolve seemed to be made from the finest tempered steel. There was absolutely nothing he couldn't accomplish.

Then, he woke up. He had, it seemed, dreamed the whole thing.

Still in his old bed, in his old apartment, still a failed actor.

Or was he?

He shook his head and smiled. No, he wasn't a failure....he was only untapped potential. He somehow knew that life was his oyster. All he had to do was find the right knife to pry open the shell.

The years he dreamed, the experiences, the things he had learned....they couldn't be real could they?

In the end, it didn't matter. He knew what he should do. He gave up his pursuit of acting and dedicated his life to helping others find their dreams. While the man never became famous, he did become fulfilled. He married, had a family....children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren [house].

To some, he had been a failed actor but, in their eyes, he was the biggest star in the world.

The End

(Trivia Question: Which movie is the picture caption from?) 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Roughly seven months ago, I made a pretty significant foray into the world of writing. I attempted my very first National Novel Writing Month or, as it's known in some circles, NaNoWriMo.

And, amazingly enough, I won....actually finishing two hundred and twenty-three words over the required 50k minimum.

This is pretty much old news to almost anyone who's even glanced at this jumbled mess I call a blog. It is relevant, though, in that I'm going to try something coming this July.

For me, July will be known as July Novel Editing Month. Yeah, I know it should probably be NaNoEdMo (which is already established), but cut me some slack here....I'm 'marching to the beat of my own drum'...or something like that. Besides, I think JuNoEdMo is sort of catchy. To quote Dr. Peter Venkman:

"The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams."

Or something like that....

Not that I can franchise anything connected to NaNoWriMo shut up...I just wanted to use that quote.

Anyway, I'm going to dedicate July to re-reading my (NaNoWriMo) award winning story, The T.E.M.P. Agency and editing it, thus.

I saw a pretty helpful looking article over at LifeHacker that was making the rounds last December, and it looks like a decent starting point.

So, cross your fingers, rub a horseshoe, throw some salt over your shoulder, and wish me luck....

....I'm gonna need it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Over on uber-author Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog  he has this little exercise called The Insecure Writer's Support Group where, on the first Wednesday of the month, you're supposed to post your thoughts, feelings, and insecurities about all things writing.

Since today is the first Wednesday of June (06-06-12), that's exactly what I'll be doing here.

As a fairly new writer, one of the  biggest and most ambitious things I've done, so far, was attempting to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last November. Maybe you've heard of it? It's where you write a 50,000 word novel in a month's time...coming out to around 1,666 words a day.

 Now I'm going to be honest in stating the following.

I never believed I could finish.

Sure, I figured I'd give it a decent try. I had signed up in 2010 and thought, very briefly, about trying it then, but procrastination (as well as talking myself out of doing it) got the best of me and, before I knew it, it was mid-November and I knew I'd never catch up, not 'win', and decided to leave it for 2011.

So, last November (2011) I made the decision to give it a shot. Then I started thinking about having to write over a thousand words a day. Before that, I had written some (very) short stories, sometimes taking days to finish them. Writing over 1k words a day seemed very daunting at that point. I sighed and shrugged as I do with certain things and resigned myself to fail before I even got out of the gate.

Then, a strange thing happened. I filled out a profile on a fairly new 'social media' site called Google Plus. I don't even remember how, but I ran across some people talking about doing NaNo and slowly began building my circles, adding people, and talking about the upcoming event in November.

The more I talked to the people in my circles, the more confident I became that, yeah, I could really do it.

I could 'win' NaNoWriMo.

We would share when we would meet or exceed our word count goals for the day and lend support for those who didn't. The accountability and encouragement really helped get me through that month and I'm still convinced, to this day, that I couldn't have done it without G+.  I had quite a few days where I didn't think I'd make my word count but, my G+ buddies gave me a nice prod in the right direction.

I had gone total 180 degrees from "I can't." to "I can."

The best feeling was when I got to say "I did."

I had "won" NaNo and I put 'won' in quotes because you really don't get anything from doing it, besides a certificate that you print out and the satisfaction of knowing you can start something and see it through.

For me, though, the satisfaction was the best and most important part of the whole thing.

The lesson learned from doing NaNoWriMo was that, like the Nike commercial tells us, all we really need to do is 'Just Do It.'

Sit down.
Do it.

I did just that and, now, I need to apply those 'rules' to finishing my story and editing it.

Maybe by this November?  We'll see....

Monday, June 4, 2012

And, the winner is...

So, I get this comment on my previous post from Jennifer, over at A Creative Exercise blog, telling me she's awarding me The Versatile Blogger honor.

I always knew I was versatile, I just didn't want to brag...*ahem*.

Anyway, a big 'thank you' to Jennifer and go check out her blog. It's pretty versatile, as well.

Now, when you get this award, you're supposed to do a few things....and they are:

  1. Thank the person who gave it to you, which is only the courteous thing to do, and link back to their blog (see above for Jennifer's link).
  2. Write seven random facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate seven other bloggers for the award

Seven Random Facts:
  1. Everyone always tells me I have an amazing recall of actor's names and roles they've played.
  2. As a child, my dad tried to keep me from being left handed so he'd take things out of my left and put them in my right hand. The effect was, I now do some things with my left (write, eat, bowl, play tennis) and some with my right (throw, swing a bat). See, told you I was versatile...
  3. My mom says I taught myself to read, before I entered kindergarten, by watching Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.
  4. I once did a L.A.R.P. (Live Action Role Play) at a game convention with Bruce Campbell, where he reprised his role as Brisco County Jr.
  5. To this day, I'll swear I saw President Gerald Ford at La Guardia Airport, when we returned from overseas. I was seven at the time.
  6. I started drinking coffee when I was around 10 years old.
  7. I was 42 when I got married for the first, it's true, 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life. 
The Seven Bloggers

All very worthy and versatile blogs to check out.

Once again, a big 'thank you' to Jennifer for the consideration and, everyone out there,.....keep writing.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Saturday (more or less) Shorts

I spent a little time going through my Google Docs via Drive, tonight, and found this little write up. It was a back story, of sorts, for a character I had planned on making for the DCU MMO.

Unfortunately, the game pretty much sucked and I never got around to making this western themed character but, I got a semi-decent story from it though.

          The first time I heard the story of The Nightranger, I was just a kid. Something my parents would tell me around the campfire on our yearly camping vacations.  They said he was the Eternal Law of the Old West….a spirit of vengeance that couldn’t die.  They said he rode the badlands of the Old West, dispensing justice to all manner of nasty hombre.
            Little did I know they were right….and then some.
            It seems that, back in around 1850, the sheriff of a small mining town in Colorado called ‘Calamity’ was gunned down by the Jeremiah Hazard gang.  About a week later, that very gang was found strung up on a big oak tree just outside of town.  The leader, Jeremiah Hazard, had a note pinned to his chest.
“The Law never dies.”
More and more vigilante justice was found dispensed in the outlying area, but who was doing it was still a mystery.  Until that fateful evening when a telegraph operator named Milo Stewart saw a dark figure, on a dark horse against the full moon of the autumn night.  His eyes glowed an eerie white as did his horses.  The horse also snorted a white fire through his nose and his hooves seemed to spark a white will o’ the wisp with each step.  A shaken Stewart sent a telegram to a friend at the nearest big city newspaper who, in turn, sent a reporter out to see if there was really a story here or just an ‘urban legend’.  As it turned out, more and more sightings were reported and the word spread.  The crooks and hucksters got scared and scattered.  Things settled down in Calamity and the Nightranger began showing up less and less.  Time marched on and the Old West settled down.  From time to time you’d hear of the “Eternal Law” showing up to dispense some justice, but they became few and far between.  Oh, and by the way, the sheriff who was thought to have been gunned down by the Hazard gang….his last name was Walker…same as mine.
You see, apparently, a very long time ago, a distant relative of mine ran afoul of a group of ‘wanderers’ as he travelled through Russia.  I’m still not sure what he did to incur the wrath of these ‘wanderers’, but a curse was placed on my relative to ‘forever make amends’ for his transgressions....whatever they may have been.  Now the curse is passed down through the generations and the first born male inherits the mantle, compelled to fight crime and right wrongs whenever he can.  The curse has taken on many names over the centuries….”Wayward Soldier”, “Dark Rider”, “Hell’s Highwayman”,  even the famous “Headless Horseman” story is based (loosely) on the exploits of a relative helping to keep  New England save from brigands. I’ve recently discovered that my father used to patrol the highways and byways as the “Phantom Trooper”, which fits I suppose, he being a police officer and all.  When my father died, three years ago, the curse was passed down….we all knew it was coming so I was prepared. A strange twist to the curse, maybe it’s starting to relax after over three hundred years, is that we can manipulate the force a tiny bit.  My father used to appear as a large motorcycle cop, dressed in black leather with a black helmet and a black energy field surrounding him. He rode a souped up Harley which he created from the dark energies we can tap into.  Being an Old West buff, I’ve gone back to the “Nightranger” moniker, my appearance much like the one who rode the badlands of Colorado but with a large, flowing, cape and a dark, energy created, horse.  As for what I can do with my cursed powers…..pray you never have to find out.
See ya ‘round Gotham…..pardner.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday Shorts


"Ms. Waters....I hope you know that you're in way over your head."

"Oh, I think not, Mr. Beach", the athletically built woman, bound to the chair, replied with a smile.

"No? You're starting to sound like someone a bit wet behind the ears. Your situation is quite dire, I'll have you know." The heavily muscled man said while cracking his knuckles. His demeanor belied his very cultured, middle-eastern, accent.

She eyed his massive arms as they flexed. "To me, the situation is quite fluid. I'm confident that I'll take the right fork in the river."

"My dear Ms. Waters", he smiled, "there is no choice for you. You're heading into the rapids and about to go over the falls."

Her curly blonde hair began to droop and she started to sweat....profusely.

"See.....look at you, my dear. Your so nervous that you're sweating buckets. You're in the deep end of the pool."

Again she smiled. 

"Mr Beach?" the woman said as more sweat poured off her body.


"Have you ever been surfing?"

"Of course I have."


It was then, she shimmered and exploded into a huge wave leaving her bonds behind and engulfing the larger man.

The New Mexico Police Department never did solve the drowning death of the man in a shack in the middle of the desert.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More flash fic...with extra pulp...

The Fortune Society in: 

(Diamonds aren’t just a girl’s best friend…) 

Dramatis Personae:

Aphrodite: Self-professed demi-goddess with the power to cloud men’s minds….with love. Blessed with mystical senses, she’s one of The Baron’s most capable Team Leaders.

Libby “The Librarian” Langley: Thanks to a near photographic memory and growing up in a library, if she’s read it….she knows it. One of the smartest people on the planet….also one of the most annoying.

Amanda Oakley: Just like her great grandma, Annie, Amanda is one of the best shots in not just the West, but the entire planet. Always up for a challenge, there’s no weapon she can’t shoot and no vehicle she can’t pilot.

“Prima” Donna McGurk: A one time Olympic track and field hopeful, destiny took her in a different direction. Becoming one of the ‘Jet Set’, her lifestyle affords her to travel the globe, picking up all sorts of different skills while living the high life.


“Just so’s ya know….ah ain’t likin’ this one bit.” Her twin .45s barked once and two goons jerked back and spun around, falling to the ground in a heap.

“Duly noted Amanda”, Aphrodite said with a wry grin on her beautiful features. She moved a mass of thick, blonde hair from her face as she quickly turned to see another wave of Mr. Lee’s men approaching. “Orders are orders and clients are clients. Oh, and by the by, remember….don’t kill our lovely welcoming committee….”

“Ah ain’t….just wingin’ ‘em is all…”

A shrill scream to her left almost made Grammy Oakley’s favorite granddaughter, with the nerves of steel, flinch….almost.

Glancing to the side, between shots, she saw four of Mr. Lee’s well dressed, hooded, goons slowly surrounding Libby. The smaller, thinner, librarian had her left arm out as if to shoo them away with a wave of her hand. Her right hand was digging into a messenger bag which slung over her left shoulder.

Her shriek also got the attention of the fourth woman in the group. A larger than average woman, one that looked as if she spent a lot of time outdoors, lifting heavy things. The big redhead was engaged with two other hooded goons, kicks and punches flying as the two, even larger goons, looked to want to do her physical harm. A look of concern marring her attractive features, Donna grunted out “Let me show you fellas something I picked up in Paris, France…” and, with that, she spun on her heel twice and delivered two, hard, savate kicks to each side of the hooded goon’s heads….dropping them to the ground while she rushed over to give Libby a helping hand.

The slimmer woman, who bore a striking resemblance to Myrna Loy, seemed to have recovered her wits. Quickly, she pulled her hand from her messenger bag and, in it, was a large can of Morton’s salt. She flipped the lid up with her thumb and spun in a circle, dousing the goons surrounding her with the white flakes while they, in turn, proceeded to burst into flames.

“Wights” she said, catching her breath and moving away from the now dying, open flames.

“White, black, Asian, Moroccan, who cares?”, Donna said, her eyes still wide in amazement.

Giving her a confused smile, Libby shoved the salt can back into her overstuffed bag.

“No….they’re called ‘wights’. If you check the small amount of skin that shows between their cuff and gloves, it looks gray and scaly. Added in the slight stiffness of their movements and the rabid fervor in which they follow orders and you can tell they’re the newly deceased.

Donna just shook her head as she glanced over Libby’s shoulder, then ran over to Aphrodite as more goons approached.

“What? You didn’t know that?” Libby called after her.

“Hey Boss”, Amanda shouted as she continued pumping lead into shoulders and knees, the goons were being slowed, but not halted and there were more waves pouring into the large room, “ah’m runnin’ outta lead here!”

Giving her a slight nod, Aphrodite concentrated on the moving throng approaching her from the glowing circle of energy on the wall. Their arms out, fingers flexing, they prepared to rend her limb from limb. Shoving another mass of thick, blonde, hair from her face, she smiled and pursed her lips. She extended her arms wide, her clingy tunic fluttering in the air that was coming from….somewhere, no one was quite sure as there were no windows in the room containing England’s crown jewels. She began to levitate as she surveyed the mass of tuxedo clad, hooded, figures approaching….her strappy sandals leaving the ground.

“That’s it boys, come close and feel the love!”

Aphrodite began to glow and the air filled with little sparkles of light. A wave of that same light rushed over the approaching goons, halting them in their tracks. They just stood there as if unsure what to do next.

“Dazzling…” Libby murmured in awe.

“This won’t last long, ladies, so grab what we came for and let’s hop the next chariot out of here. I sense the Beefeaters are on their way.” Aphrodite said, still holding her arms out wide, a look of concentration etched on her pretty face.

“Ummm…just where, exactly, is the thing we’re here for?” Donna asked, looking at the vast and varied types of jewelry and cases in the room.

Libby pointed to the far wall. Sitting on a small pedestal under glass, a tiara made of bright diamonds shone in the darkness.

“Right there. I once read that the Princess’ crown was placed near the back of the room as to not take away from the Queen’s jewels.”

“You’re sure about that?” Donna said as she sprinted over to the case, bashing in the glass with a gloved fist before Libby could confirm.

“Of course, I’m sure. What? You didn’t know that?” Libby asked while Donna just rolled her eyes.

With the tiara in hand, Donna yelled “Got it!” and made her way over to a still floating Aphrodite. Libby and Amanda, salt can and guns holstered respectively, followed suit.

“Ah still don’t like workin’ fer that lil house painter fella….gives me the creeps.” Amanda intoned as they huddled up.

“Well, we’re not so much working for him as we are against him. He only thinks we’re doing him a service. Uncle Adolph’s blind faith in supernatural artifacts will, one day, be his undoing.” Aphrodite smiled. “This may look like a princess’ crown but, in reality, it’s the Crown of Verwechslung….the Crown of Confusion. His so called ‘scholars’ were a touch off base on this one. Once he puts it on, his judgment will be forever clouded and, the best part is, he’s paying the Society for doing it.”

“What? You didn’t know that?” Libby nodded towards the other two girls who had perplexed looks on their faces. “Plus, Mr. Lee’s after it to give to the Empress of Japan, hoping she’ll finally accept his proposal of marriage.” the librarian added.

Again, Donna rolled her eyes. “Put it on? What makes you think he’s going to wear a girly tiara?”

“Oh, there’s intelligence out there that says Hitler has some…let’s say…odd traits.” Aphrodite said, though clenched teeth, the smile fading as she continued to concentrate. “Good thing these…wight things still seemed to have some vestiges of manhood still left in them…”

Libby nodded again, opening her mouth before Donna cut her off. “If you say it, I’m gonna throttle you…”

Libby, promptly, closed her mouth again.

“Awright, Donna….yer up….” Grammy Oakley’s favorite granddaughter said, “git us outta here.”

And, with that, Donna held her left hand up and removed the expensive looking leather glove that covered it. A huge diamond, wedding, band sparkled on her ring finger. She kissed and whispered to it….

“My love, I wish us home.”

The four women began to shimmer and fade from sight. As they glowed brighter, Libby cocked her head towards Donna.

“So, how many wishes do you have with that?”

“I really have no idea.” Donna smiled and winked.

“So then….we could’ve been stuck here and….” Libby gulped.

“What? You didn’t know that?” Donna chuckled, patting Libby on her cheek. Aphrodite’s hearty laughter was the last thing heard as the four women blinked out of sight

Sunday, April 29, 2012

You like me! You really, really.....

O.k., well, maybe that's exaggerating just a tad, but someone out there likes me. 'Who is this insane person?', you may ask.

Why, my multi-talented, and very kind Google Plus pal, Shen Hart...that's who! Shen has nominated my little blog for the Liebster Award.

'What is this...Liebster Award?' you ask. (Amazing how I just seem to know what you're going to ask, isn't it?)

Well, it represents small blogs, with less than 200 followers, that contains awesome content. Now, the word 'awesome' is a bit subjective I guess but, hey, it's my it's my rules ;) The other thing that goes hand in hand with being nominated is that I'm to nominate five blogs that I enjoy and spread the love, as it were.

The following five blogs fit the 'awesome' bill, in my opinion:

  1. Mark Craddock's CROSS PLANES (capital letters, just to emphasize the point). A real life friend for over 20 years, Mark has jumped back onto the blogging wagon, not only as a writing lesson for his home schooled kids, but to chronicle his many RPG ventures, as well.
  2. Rob Hall: Another real life friend who's also become quite 'the posting fool' since the new year. He puts up a lot of stuff about his love of comic books, movies, books, you name it. A cornucopia of nerdyness minus the taped up glasses ;)
  3. Terence Towles Canote's blog always...and let me say that again...always, has something of interest for me. He writes a lot about old television shows, old movies, and the actors that worked them. A lot of times his posts are on the more obscure pop culture icons of the past, which makes it all the more interesting. Check it out and be prepared to be schooled. Oh, and if you enjoy old television (and who doesn't?) Terence has also written a book of essays about the subject, which you can find here.
  4. Lily Alice is a very....unique person...and I mean that in a good way. Like Terence, she's a Google Plus pal who always has something interesting to say. Her blog is focused on the past, mainly the 50s and 60s and always has interesting posts about music, movies, food, flowers and booze.....not in that order, either. If  you really want to get in her good graces, tell her you just adore Jim Garner and Bill Holden.
  5. Jennie Vongvith is, yet another, Google Plus of my first, I do believe, who is not only extremely prolific, but also a sweetheart. Extremely supportive of other writers, she's a great NaNoWriMo  buddy. She posts about everything, it seems. Jennie loves to write and she does it well. I'm never quite sure what I'll seeing in my reader from her site, but I'm always pretty sure that I'll enjoy it.
I want to thank Shen Hart, again, for the nod and you can check her great stuff out at Ink Stained Pawprints.

This next part I'll lazily, I mean reproduce from Shen's site...

Now what those of you have been nominated need to do:

  • Thank your presenter on your blog.
  • Link to the blogger in your thank you message (see above for a possible method of doing so… Props for being original, if you feel so inclined)
  • Copy and past the award (see below).
  • Present the award to 5 other blogs (with fewer than 200 followers) if you think that they deserve it.
  • Let your nominees know through some means of social media.

You can copy paste your award right here:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lucky Seven

So there I am...minding my own business...when I, suddenly, get tagged!  That's right....tagged!!

One of my Google Plus pals, the multi-talented Shen Hart, tagged me in an exercise known as "Lucky Seven" where you go to your current manuscript, flip to page 7 or 77, go down to line 7 and post the seven lines afterwards.

Mine, from my NaNo (and still unfinished) project, The T.E.M.P Agency goes, as follows....

"Uhmm...excuse me...", Linda said as she pointed to the picture of the big eared young man, "who's that?"
His well rehearsed speech interrupted, Templeton gave here his best "annoyed" look and nodded at the picture.
"Walt Disney."
"Who's Walt Disney?" Linda asked.
"He's in the cartoon business....for now. One of the best animatronics innovators of all time, why he will be widely regarded...." Templeton caught himself before he said 'too much'.

It's not War and Peace but, I wrote it and, more importantly, had a blast writing it. I really should go back and finish it up, sometime.

Until then, though, I've tagged the following to 'get lucky'.....

Jaime Cooper
Rebecca Blain
Terrence Towles Canote
Harold Chester

Thursday, April 19, 2012

No, I said 'flash fiction', not Flash Gordon....

I wanted to do a little bit of flash fiction and something pulpy so, here ya go....

The Fortune Society in: 

Gems 'da breaks, kid.

"Now young man, if you would be so kind as to toggle the starting mechanism located just above my left shoulder, I will...."

"Huh?" came the reply from the young blonde kid with the slicked back hair, tweed jacket, and bow tie.

"Flip 'da switch..." grunted the hulking figure that stood behind the both of them, rolling his eyes up as if trying to look under the brim of his battered derby.

"Oh...well, why didn't ya say so?" the kid said, reaching up and flipping the button to the 'on' position...then taking a step back. He was never sure what, exactly, Professor Proton's wondrous inventions did at any given time, he just knew it was always a good idea to stand far away from them when they were set to go.

The device strapped to the smaller, older, looking man's back started to hum. Lights began to shine, in a circular pattern, on the outside of the device which looked a bit like a round backpack, but made of highly polished metal. Two hoses were attached to each side which ran down the length of the wearer's arms and fastened at his wrists. A nozzle stuck up and over each hand, which he brought up and tried to take aim.

"Uhhh.....Prof, I don't think 'dats da best idea ya ever came up wit', ya know? I mean, I think The Baron wants know....take care o' 'dis himself..." the big man standing behind the other two men said.

"Now,now, Slate", the smaller man in the white lab coat said, holding his arms up and clenching his fists, "it should be obvious to any plebeian that our illustrious leader is in dire need of a bit of scientific assistance, wouldn't you say?" He closed his left eye, taking aim behind his thick, darkly tinted, goggles.

"Oooohhhh....this ain't gonna be good...I just know it." the blonde kid said, taking a step back and adjusting his bow tie.

"James, please refrain from vocalizing your inner dialogue as I am in the midst of addressing the fascinating beast which has designs on ingesting our fearless leader?"


"Shaddup so's he can aim..." the hulking figure, Slate, said screwing up his face in frustration.

"Oh....well, why didn't you say so? And besides, you can call me Jimmy...everyone dmmmpffff!"

A large hand clamped over his mouth as Jimmy's eyes widened. He looked up, nodding at Slate, who removed his overly large hand from Jimmy's mouth and returned the nod.

"Almost.....almost......there...." the Prof said as his fingers on each hand depressed twin triggers and bright beams of crimson energy shot out from the nozzles on his wrists. The bright flash of light drew the creature's attention and it turned it's many tentacled head towards the twin beams of energy, just before they impacted it right between it's two sets of eyes. A loud explosion echoed in the small chamber and the Beast from a Thousand Nightmares dropped into a pile of rubbery, foul smelling goo.

"Blast it, Professor!" the dashing man with the wavy blonde hair and matching goatee shouted, his right arm still up and over his eyes, his left arm out and brandishing a glowing rapier. "I had the creature just where I wanted it!"

"Oh Baron, your cavalier attitude towards danger never gets dull." Prof grinned as he motioned for Jimmy to flip the switch of his Plasma Manipulator off. "Besides, our mission here was to obtain the Sultan's Guardian Gem, correct?"

"Exactly...something we couldn't have done until the gem's thief was dispatched. We had him on the ropes, didn't we Dumas?"

"Of course sir." a disembodied voice echoed from the glowing rapier in the Baron's hand.

"I hate 'dat sword..." grumbled Slate as he continued checking over his shoulder to remain sure that the portal behind them was still open. 

The Baron grinned at Slate, then glanced down at the pile of rubbery goo that was the remains of the Beast. Barely visible was the gleam of a multifaceted, aquamarine, gem.

"Well, that looks to be a bit of a sticky wicket, eh?" The Baron said, motioning towards the smelly, bubbly, mass with the glowing rapier.

"Sir, if you stick me in that mess I will cut you in your sleep...", the rapier said in a haunting voice.

"No need for that, I'm certain. Jimmy, might you have something to help us out here?" The Baron winked at the blonde young man.

"Oh, sure thing Baron....gimme one sec. I got what ya need or my name ain't Jimmy Dohicky!" 

The young man approached, pulling a small, telescoping rod from his inner jacket pocket and attaching some silvery string to the end of it. From another pocket, he produced some copper wiring and began bending and twisting it while his tongue stuck out of the corner of his mouth. He then tied the other end of the string to the copper wiring and lowered the fishing pole like device down towards the goop covered gem.

"Ya know, I've been thinkin' about makin' some sorta game outta this one. See, the people would put their money in and try to move this claw like thing down into a buncha toys or such and if they can clamp onto 'em", he said as he snagged the gem with the bent wiring, "then they get ta keep it!" he grinned as he held the now brightly glowing gem as if he'd just caught a prize bass.

"Jimmy, you're definitely a keeper." The Baron smiled as he took the gem from the wiring and put it into a black, silky, pouch.

Jimmy smiled, dismantling his gizmo and putting the pieces back into different pockets.

"Now lads....we're off. Let's get this gem back to the Sultan before the hourglass runs out of sand."

"Agreed Baron. I think now is good time to retreat to our own plane with alacrity."


"We gotta get home....quick-like....."

"Oh, well why didn't you...."

A three voiced chorus replied "Shut up!"

Dramatis Personae:

The Baron: Swashbuckling man of mystery, wielder of the Karma Blade, and leader of the Fortune Society.

Professor Proton: A scientist of undetermined age and credentials. His wondrous devices seem to bend the laws of physics....when they work.

Aristotle Slate: Philosophical strong man and medic. Fluent in over twenty languages thanks to his photographic memory.

Jimmy Dohicky: The son of Dohicky Toys magnate, Chester Dohicky, Jimmy wants to lead the life of adventure, helping the team with his amazing, cobbled together from nothing, devices.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yeah, I'm talking to you!!

It's been a while since I posted anything here, but...

 Like I've said elsewhere, I really hate opening a post with that line but, hey, truth hurts, huh?

Anywho, I've been sliding off the writing wagon, a lot lately, and have been putting some thought into why that may be. It's not for lack of time....I have scads of that. It's not for lack of encouragement. I have tons of that, as wife makes sure of it. I think it boils down to one factor....

Lack of discipline.

There, I've said it.

I've always been the type of person who, if things didn't come naturally, I didn't put a lot of effort into doing them. As I've grown older I've come to realize, more and more, that something worth doing is something worth putting the effort into doing it well. If things were always easy, there would be no satisfaction in getting them done. Take NaNoWriMo (please! :P ) for instance. There were days when I did not want to sit down and put pixels to virtual paper. Some days, I didn't. But I always caught up and it was so satisfying to 'win' actually finish....that it made the effort worthwhile. 

Sometimes the oldest lessons out there are the most profound. 

That said, I think I'm going to try to do a few things to self-motivate and get some writing done. After all the name of this blog is "Left and Write"....not "Left and Slack".

Here are a few ideas I've been tossing around....

  • Doing a weekly writing challenge. Yes, I know there are a lot of those floating out there, especially by my pals on Google Plus, but I think I need something more tailored to my interests. At least to start with. Perhaps a 500 word minimum, with a week to complete, which I post here for perusal/harassment, etc.
  • A simple 100 word challenge, taking prompts from the Seventh Sanctum site. (I've had some good success with this in the past)
  • Taking suggestions via a Twitter or G+ post, maybe for a 200-300 word short story and posting the results here. 
So, I think I might try one....or all...of these ideas and see which stick and which fall to the floor in a burning heap.

What do you do to stay disciplined?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Also Known As....

About a week ago, I put out a call to my G+ pals for blog topic ideas. In about five minutes, the great Shen Hart came up with almost twenty five for me to choose from.

One of the topics on Shen's list that caught my eye was "How do you feel about pen names?". Something I've never thought about before. How did I feel about pen names?

When I was younger I remember always questioning my mom as to why she named me "Mark". She never could come up with a reason as to why I was stuck with the plain, drab, name of "Mark", though she once told me what my name would have been if I had come out a girl. Of course, now I can't remember just what that name would have been. I'm guessing it would have been something equally as drab as "Mary" or "Marcia". 

No offense to any "Marys" or "Marcias" out there.

One thing I do remember in my conversations with my mom, about my name, was always telling her I would have liked to have been named "Jim".  Not "James"...but "Jim". This can probably be attributed to some popular action figures of the day that I really enjoyed.... Big Jim and the P.A.C.K. I remember spending a lot of time playing with my action figures (no, they were not dolls!) when I was younger and....hey, sue me, it was before the Internet....what else was I supposed to do??

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. For me, I don't think I would ever use a pen name and mainly because if I ever hit it big...and I'm talking Stephen King, J.K. Rowling big I'd want everyone to know that it was me, Mark Means,....that kid who used to play with the Big Jim action figures....who had soared to super stardom in the literary world and not some cookie cutter, manufactured author named Simon James.

Oh, did I mention that if I ever had to use a pen name that it would probably be "Simon James"?

Well, it would be something like Simon James, I think. Something that had a sort of European flair to it. Of course, I could still sneak in a slight homage to Big Jim with the 'James" part....that would  be our little secret. 

So, how about you? Pen name or your real name? Why?

Another special thanks to Shen Hart for the topic idea. Shen's writing blog can be found here, so check it out!
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