Edward Owen – Author

Monthly Archives: August 2013

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Pain of Change and August Dvorak

Day one of a four day weekend and I’m up at 5:30. Considering I’m usually up at 2:30, I did get to sleep in a few hours. Thought I’d share my latest experience with the three of you that read my blog. And thanks for your support.

In 1936, a man by the name of August Dvorak developed a keyboard layout as an alternative to the QWERTY style (the one most of us still use today). It was far more efficient and put less strain on the typist. Unfortunately, the typewriters of the time had mechanical arms that forced the type against the page. If two letters near each other were struck together, the arms would jam and the typist would have to stop and untangle them. The QWERTY layout was not designed to slow the typist down as is commonly believed, but to speed them up by preventing key jams.

Dvorak’s layout never caught on, not because it didn’t work but because the typewriters of his day were inferior. I learned to type almost forty years ago on a mechanical typewriter (yes, I’m that old despite my youthful appearance and immature childlike demeanor) that had no numbers or letters on the keys. Touch typing was the only option.

I had heard about Dvorak and two weeks ago decided to give it a try. Wow. Old dogs, new tricks, you do the math. I have both my work computer and my personal laptop changed over (most operating systems will allow you to do this). I used a label maker to change the keys. (See photo) Now the fun begins. And the pain. Change is hard, especially old habits. My fingers keep wanting to go back to their wicked old ways. I am nothing if not stubborn and I am committed to making this happen.

Keyboard

My modified Dvorak Keyboard

Blogging is another habit I am forcing myself to do. WANA Goddess Kristen Lamb talks at length about the importance of blogging. You can read her blog here. She’s more well known than I am and I’m assuming makes more money with her book sales than I do. So I shut up and listen. And blog. And learn to type all over again.

I read an article that said doing things differently (brushing your teeth with a different hand, etc.) helps keep your brain healthy… Imma be a fricken genius!

 There are a lot of good habits I would like to develop and more bad ones I would like to lose (you don’t want to know, it ain’t pretty) but change is a slow and painful process. Sometimes you have to take two steps back before you move forward. My current typing speed is a fraction of what it used to be and I still type every day. Fortunately all I use typing for at work is email and I’m in edit mode on my current WIP (Nightmares and Body Parts Vol. I),

NABP KC COVER Final lores

so the timing is pretty good. But I still have this weekly blog and my Ray Bradbury Challenge, so the slow typing is still having an impact on my life. No pain, no gain … but typing slow hurts my brain.

 I’m signing off early this week. Between Dvorak and the bus (and a dead skunk) … well, 4:30 a.m. is too early for a headache. Until next week, Dear Readers, painful life changing dreams.

Ray Bradbury Challenge #6- Hell On Wheels

Had to chop 250 words to make the limit. Couple of twists to keep you on your toes. For details on the challenge, read my friend Arial’s blog here.

Hell On Wheels – photo by TxPilot on Flikr

“Shit!” Red lights in the rearview. My tires crunch the gravel as I pull onto the shoulder. The all too familiar swagger makes my heart sink. O’Malley again? Double shit.

I hold my license out the window hoping to skip the lecture.

“Do you know why I stopped you?”

“Because of my stunning good looks and charming personality?”

“OK, Comedy Central reject, get your ass out here and assume the position.”

O’Malley’s in rare form today. This should be a hoot.

“I don’t kiss on the first date, just so you know,” I say as I climb out of the car.

“Save the lip, sweet cheeks. This is getting old. You best straighten up, ‘less you wanna be walking.”

Yeah, not so much.

“So give me a warning and let me go. No ticket for me, no paperwork for you. Sounds like a win-win in my book.”

I can feel the glare through O’Malley’s shades.

“Not this time. Boss has you on his radar.”

Triple shit!

“I don’t even know where to start. You did see the speed limit sign – and the stop sign, the red light and the pedestrians, did you not?”

“C’mon O’Malley. You tag me for all that I’ll be hoofin’ it for sure.” I’m pretty sure I’m screwed, but some little part of my brain won’t give up the fight.

“I don’t have much choice. Unless you wanna play nice.”

A shudder rips through me despite the heat. It’s not like she’s ugly or anything. Even for a demon O’Malley’s, well, gorgeous. And being with another woman – been there, done that, too. I just know what will happen if I give in. She’ll be on my ass – not in a good way. She’ll own me. My mind is racing. You might think being in Hell is as bad as it gets but Dante nailed it. Things can always get worse.

“I’ll spend a whole week at your place, anything goes. That should scratch that itch you can’t quite reach.” I know how good this sounds to her; I’ve been going around and around with this bitch for two decades.

“What’s the catch?” She saunters up close and runs her long black nail down the side of my neck. I clench my teeth and move back a step.

“You and I race. Winner take all.”

Flames pour from her eyes, nose and mouth.

“What’s a skinny little girl like you want in the very unlikely event you win?”

“Your car, Cherry Red.”

A wide smile creeps across O’Malley’s face.

“You must think a lot of that hot little ass of yours. I win, you’re mine every night for a year.”

I play like I’m shocked.

“Damn, O’Malley. It’s not like I saved somebody’s life. I stopped at one red light. Old habits die hard.” One year? I would have been willing to bet two.

“Take it or leave it. I’m not the one in trouble here.”

“You suck, O’Malley.”

She gets her face right in front of mine and licks my cheek with her long, black tongue.

“Sugar, you have no idea.”

I cringe and wipe her saliva off before it has a chance to arouse me. There’s a lot about demons they don’t teach you in Sunday school.

“Fine. Since it’s my challenge, I get first pick. Identical vehicles, no magic. You pick the course.”

“Hound’s Tooth Canyon.”

No surprise. I swear, demons outside the bedroom have no imagination. You don’t want to know how I know that.

“The car is my brother’s 1969 Camaro, baby blue with every single detail as I remember it. Unless you can’t handle that.”

“Don’t be insulting.”

No lightening, no smoke, just two copies of the car that killed my brother and landed me in Hell. I swallow a hard lump in my throat.

“We start at the top of the canyon, first one through the Gap is the winner. The Guardian will decide if it’s close. Seal it in blood.”

I pick up a piece of flint and rake it across my palm. O’Malley uses her finger nail. She bleeds, I don’t. I clasp my hand against hers and clench my teeth as her blood seeps into my flesh. Now neither one of us can welch on the bet.

“Leave the key, O’Malley, in case you don’t make it back.”

“Gettin’ kinda cocky, doncha think?” she says as she strolls back to her car. Cherry Red is the fastest thing on four wheels in all of Hell. Deep red paint; looks like it’s still wet and two inches thick. O’Malley sets a long black key on the hood.

I jump in one of the Camaros and crank the engine. It purrs just like I remember it. I take a moment to soak in the details. O’Malley’s good, it even smells like his car. I flip open the glove box and peek inside. I slam it shut as O’Malley pulls away.

I catch up as she comes to a stop at the black line marking the canyon entrance. A red light glows in the air; when it turns green, I punch the accelerator to the floor. The glove box opens as I expected. My brother never fixed the latch. On the first curve I cut in front of O’Malley making her swerve. Her scream echoes in my ears over the sound of the engine and I watch her car plummet over the side of the cliff. I cruise to the bottom of the canyon just to make it official. Before I get out, I reach over, pick the Bible up off the passenger’s seat and stuff it back into the glove box.

Back where I started, I grab the key off Cherry’s hood and slide into the driver’s seat. I crank the engine and it roars to life like something wild and pissed. My foot hits the gas and I leave a trail of dust, flames and smoke behind me. Not even the Devil himself can catch me now.

Time Warps and Weekend Warriors

Yes, I’m tardy. Blame it on the Time Warp.

 

I need to give you a little background info for this to make sense. My baby bear youngest son, now almost 19, has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair. He goes to college on the city bus and is a very creative graphic design student. He is also as independent as his disability will allow. To further his quest for self reliance, Goldilocks asked if it might be possible to do some minor remodeling in the bear’s cave boy’s room. Her eye batting accompanied by Baby Bear (BB’s) grin of anticipation hardly left me any choice in the matter.

Her list of requests was, on the surface, not unreasonable. Relocate the TV to the opposite corner of the room and build a small platform to raise his mini fridge to a usable height. Given that I possess a general contractor’s license (thankfully inactive), it was assumed this project would proceed with the precision of a SEAL Team operation. As it turns out, circus seals would be a better analogy.

While I have been busy slaving away working, technology has gone berserk. Like cell phones, TVs have suddenly become ‘smart’. (The content they deliver leads me to believe this is yet another oxy-moron). Add to the mix a seven year old TiVo (DVR) and a cheap DVD player… The result is me looking up wiring directions on the internet. Oh, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the TV to work, both the cable and the ethernet cord had to be relocated. (Remember when TVs only had one cord and it plugged into the electrical outlet?) Smart TV? Hmmm. Unlike the clowns technicians from the cable company, I do not tack cable to the wall in plain sight. (I have a theory this is the origin of the word tacky.) This requires that I climb into the attic. In August. Yes, it is nice and cool in the early morning. I’ve been in lots of attics. I know this. So I worked on several writing projects first and climbed into the attic at 11:30. Second degree burns did not make the job any easier and Goldilocks complained about the smell of burnt flesh. My visit to the Land of Deadly Insulation and Dust was brief. It was, however, long enough to produce sweat in areas of my body not prone to moisture emission. Another odor to share with my family. Because of my incredible planning skills, I was forced to cut the hole and pull the wires out of the wall behind the flat screen T.V. which was already mounted. Taking it down would been admitting to a lacking in my abilities. As if…

At some point there were numerous cables and wires (and bears… Oh my! None of whom offered to help me so I’m cutting them out of my will. They’ll just have to earn the extra $200 on their own.) At this point I have two problems. One, I can only get a picture on half a dozen channels (four Spanish, one Korean and a 24 hour infomercial station). Two, the remote  is not changing the cable menu. Goldilocks saunters in the room and casually inquires about the availability of HBO. I’m beginning to suspect a hidden agenda. After reviewing the results, a call is placed to our local cable provider who shall remain nameless as I refuse to promote them. A clown technician will arrive the next day. Fine.

The following day BB and I trek to the DIY Mecca known as Home Depot. These are my people. They love me there. Our quest is a shelf large and strong enough to support TiVo and the cable box. This requires buying a large eight foot board and having it cut down. Apparently I’m the only idiot customer who needs a shelf wider than twelve inches. BB and I waited so long to get help that we looked like Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top by the time we got home. Shelf, brackets and wall anchors in hand, I bravely forge onward. Everything proceeds smoothly until I try to mount the power strip to the wall. None of the screws I have are small enough. This gives a whole new meaning to the saying “Size matters”. I find some nails small enough and assuage my inner contractor with the assurance that the strip will be behind the TV and nails will be just fine. He’s not happy but he lets it pass.

I am now faced with a tangle of wires and cables that would confound an Agean sailor. Our cable guy has called to say he is on his way so I opt to leave it as is in case I have to change something. A knock at the door and we have two techs for the price of one. The younger of the two informs me he is a trainee. “Oh, that means you don’t get to touch anything,” I say. My demeanor and nervous laugh make it sound like I’m kidding. I’m not. I’m just relieved that his name isn’t Larry or Jim Carrey. The entertainment wouldn’t be worth the aggravation.

Older, experienced cable guy looks over the TV and the box, then presses the little button with “CBL” on it and magically everything works just fine. He probably doesn’t read my blog so he doesn’t know about the clown reference. I think about faking a stroke so he’ll forget what an idiot moron simpleton I am. I reject that idea as Goldilocks might be inclined to call 911 (I’m going with this theory, shaky as it is) or Middle Bear who is an EMT. I justify this by reminding myself that I probably won’t see Cable Guy again but I am most likely stuck with Goldilocks and the three bears and would hear about the fake stroke until such time as I have a real one. Given the project at hand, the odds of that occurring are better than average.

I notice that time is passing much faster than it does when I am at work. Apparently honey do lists invoke a special time warp that sucks the weekend dry in an eye blink. I make a note to call Steven Hawking about the phenomenon. There may be a book deal in this.

At this point I am faced with a flat screen television mounted to the wall (yes, to a stud. What kind of idiot do you take me for? Rhetorical question…requires no answer), a cable box, a TiVo unit and a DVD player. Too many shiny things in one place; I almost go into ADD shock. I do have the presence of mind to mark all the wires before I disconnect them and wrap them up. By some miracle – due no doubt to my sacrificing several small animals in my back yard – (What PETA doesn’t know won’t hurt them) the installation is complete and everything works. BB is happy, Goldilocks is happy and even makes me an ice cream sandwich with a strawberry Pop Tart and Butterfinger ice cream. Totally worth it. I suspect the entire scenario will be reenacted in the coming months as Goldilocks has confessed to a serious case of TV envy. (My paranoia about hidden agendas now justified.)  Just keep the ice cream sandwiches coming. Can I get chocolate chip cookies instead of Pop Tarts next time? Until next week Dear Readers, scary T.V. dreams.

Ray Bradbury Challenge #5- Darkness

This is an experiment in sensory writing — minus one. For an explanation of the Challenge, please see Arial Burnz blog here.

Darkness

The darkness wraps around me like black velvet soaked in ink. I wave my fingers in front of my face and I’m startled when I accidentally hit my nose.

I can’t remember how long I’ve been here. I have no memories outside this place. The floor is cool against my bare feet. I don’t know how large the space is. I’ve been unable to find a wall or partition of any kind after what seemed like hours walking in one direction. I might be walking in circles for all I know.

The stillness is nearly as oppressive, but I can break that by clapping, yelling or talking to myself. There is no echo, my voice leaves my lips and never returns. My stomach is growling and I can’t remember the last time I ate or drank anything. Either I haven’t been in here long or there is food and water available. Both options paint a bleak future. I will either be here for some time or die an agonizing death of starvation.

If I stand perfectly still, my breathing and heartbeat become my own private symphony. My lungs provide the melody while my heart pounds out the bass beat. A light musky odor mixed with salt wafts into my nose. I realize it is nothing more than the smell of my own sweat. This triggers a deep depression, destroying any shred of my fortitude or curiosity and I sink to the floor.

I lay on the floor, curled into a fetal position. It is my only refuge against the darkness. I drift into a dreamless sleep for an uncertain amount of time. I awake to blinding thirst. As I roll onto my knees, my hand brushes against an object on the floor next to me. My heartbeat drums in my chest. I hesitate; this is the first time I have felt anything but the floor.

With a caution born of disappointment, I slide my hand along the floor until it comes in contact with a smooth, vertical surface. It gives under the pressure of my hand. It’s not part of the structure. I move my hand up along the side until it comes to the upper limit and deduce it is a box of some type.

I hold my breath in anticipation as I slide my hand down into the box. The interior surface is rough, made of wood. My fingers touch an irregular surface. Its temperature is cooler than the floor and there are drops of moisture clinging to it. I wrap my hand around the object and its shape calls forth a name in my mind: it’s an apple. I bring it to my nose to verify my theory and the aroma triggers a waterfall of saliva as I sink my teeth into the sweet, juicy flesh, drops running down my chin. It takes only a few minutes to reduce the fruit to a tiny scrap of core and seeds.

My greed is limitless as I rummage through the remaining contents of the box. It contains a half dozen bottles of water, a sizable block of mild cheese, a tin of crackers, two more apples, four oranges and six bananas. There is also a stack of paper napkins and I use one to wipe my chin. For the moment it appears starvation and dehydration will not be in my immediate future.

In addition to the apple, I eat a bit of cheese, a handful of crackers and wash it down with three mouthfuls of water. My hunger is diminished but not entirely gone. It will have to be enough for now as I do not know if I will be given any more provisions. I lie down and curl my body around the crate. Meager as it is, my meal makes me drowsy and I nod off. I awake with a start, panicked that the food and water are gone. I have rolled over in my sleep and am no longer touching the box. My heart pounds with fear in the minute it takes me to locate my food. Everything is the way I left it but it takes me a minute to calm down. My awakening has presented me with a new challenge in the form of a full bladder. There has been no indication of a toilet or a sink, not even a drain. I am faced with the prospect of urinating on the floor. It is one of the rare occasions I would prefer to be a man. I put some distance between my food and my ‘restroom’, taking care to retrace my steps to the crate.

Judging by my sleep cycles, seven days have passed. The crate now holds only a piece of cheese and one banana. The last water bottle is almost empty. I am facing the prospect of starving while I succumb to dehydration. The darkness without has become an insurmountable darkness within. I have contemplated taking my life, but I lack any means of doing so. I have no desire to continue on and reclaim my spot on the floor.

******

“Any change?” the question was posed by a tall, thin man in a white lab coat to a portly woman in similar attire.

“No. She’s shutting down. At this rate, she’ll last about seventy-two hours.”

“Such a pity. It looked like she might be the one.”

The woman’s fingers raced over the keyboard as she spoke. “She’s gotten farther than any of the other subjects. Methodical and disciplined. Do you want me to send in more food?”

“No need to waste resources. Terminate and bring in the next subject. I’ll be in my office if you need me.” The man turned and left the room.

The woman finished typing and paused a moment. ‘Continue Termination?’ flashed on her computer screen. The cursor wavered over ‘No’ for several seconds before moving to ‘Yes’. The screen turned red as the woman clicked the button on the mouse.

TERMINATION COMPLETE.

Wanted- Temporary Muse, Must Like Classic Rock

The bus is bouncing and rattling its way to Los Angeles and I am at a loss for a blog post. If you read Wednesday’s Ray Bradbury Challenge story, first of all, thank you and second, I think I used my words for the week. As I explained, that story hit over 3000 words before I chopped it down to 1000. My well hath run dry. I think my Muse is in Cabo this week. School’s started and most of the tourists are gone so she’s having a little ‘me’ time. Consequently, I’m thinking of running an ad on Craigslist.

Wanted: Temporary Muse

Writer seeks temporary muse for inspiration and motivation, to cover duties while regular muse is on vacation, pouting, bitchy, moody, uncooperative and/or oversleeping. He is rather lazy by nature and suffers from chronic ADD. (Let’s face it, if I could focus on ANYTHING, I’d be a millionaire by now). Applicant must be an excellent multi-tasker as he will have several projects going at once. Did I mention the ADD? Oh, yeah … SQUIRREL!

You will be doing most of the heavy lifting. You are expected to come up with brilliant plots, subplots and twists. Characters must be three dimensional, interesting and original. No teen angst love triangles and NO sparkly vampires. Traditional archetypes are to be expected, but they must be fresh, new and edgy. Genre hopping is frequent, so be prepared with awesome horror, sci-fi, fantasy, murder mystery and possible alternate timeline ideas. The ability and willingness to create tasty meals and snacks is a definite plus. Hunger pangs are not inspirational. And neither are dirty dishes.

Blog posts will also fall within your job description. Topical, humorous and instructional at all times, all posts must reflect well upon the author and his work. Please know that although he mentions you often, you are by no means the only woman in his life. His mother, his wife (Goldilocks, mother of the three bears), his editor (Arial, like the type, not the little mermaid) and Kristen Lamb, his newly adopted mentor and WANA Goddess all have a place of reverence in his blogs. Each has had some part in making him into the man he is, however, under no circumstances are they to be blamed for anything that comes out of his mouth fingers. You, however, are fair game for such finger pointing.

The author assumes all credit for such stories and blog posts as get noticed by anyone. You will subsequently get the blame for all typos, plot holes and crappy ideas. It’s part of the job. You must be comfortable dressed in leather clothing. If it gets really hot, Daisy Dukes and a halter top are an acceptable substitute. Yes, he’s a pig. Deal with it. You do get a whip as an accessory and may use it as necessary. What? He’s a writer. You should need no other explanation.

The benefits package is pretty meager. He will thank you sometimes, but not nearly often enough. He’s pretty liberal with the chocolate, but you’ll have to share. He’s married and loves his wife, so there won’t be any romance between you, but it’s probably better that way. A crying muse is not a pretty sight.

A few more details: You MUST be a fan of classic rock. Anything released after 1995 probably isn’t worth listening to. The good news is that when he is writing, it will be classical, fusion and other great instrumental pieces. Sometimes country, but don’t hold that against him. Star Wars and Star Trek are gospel and are NOT to be disparaged in any way. Bradbury, Asimov, King and Koontz are Gods Among Men and will revered as such. Any mention of their names should be in the following context: “Your writing reminds me of ____________ (pick any of the above mentioned authors). Yes, ego stroking is part of the job as well. Author=attention whore.

All interested parties should apply by replying to this blog post along with a full length picture. A resume is not necessary. Interviews will be held when the author is in the mood, so please wait by the phone for his call. If you’ve been a muse for any length of time, you’re used to it.

Yeah, that’ll work. Until next week Dear Readers, a-musing dreams.

 

 

Ray Bradbury Challenge #4 Amuse Me

My first draft of this story was over 3000 words long. Yeah, that happens sometimes. I saved that file in a short story collection and may rework it at another time. Then I went back and trimmed it down to this. For an explanation of the Ray Bradbury Challenge, see this post by my friend Arial Burnz.

 

 

Tyler hated first drafts. Writing them sucked worse than a three dollar crack whore. The resulting stories? Same whore with braces.

The cursor blinked on the screen, mocking him. Crap. He had to write something. His fans would be down his throat if Rory Martin’s next sexcapade wasn’t plastered all over Amazon and Smashwords by the end of the month.

His muse, it seemed, had succumbed to a bender of hellish proportions and was nowhere to be found.
“That’s because you’re an asshole and you’ve been cranking out the same recycled shit for the last two years.” Tyler jumped from his chair and spun toward the sound of the voice, his heart pounding. The house was empty and he always locked the doors.

Standing in the middle of the bedroom that doubled as his office was a stunning blonde in leather pants, a matching bustier and stiletto heels. Her hair hung in a braid down her back and a coiled whip was attached to her belt.

“We need to get a few things straight, Tyler.”

His tongue had turned to lead and lay heavy in his mouth.

“I don’t drink, but I do eat chocolate. A lot. You seem to be in short supply so I suggest you stock up.”

Tyler’s voice squirmed its way out of his throat. “Umm… who are you and how did you get in my house?”

“Really? After all the crap you’ve been spewing about me all over social media? I would think you’d recognize me. I almost care enough to be hurt.”

Tyler swallowed hard. “Um… You’re my muse?”

“Bingo! Seems you’re not as dumb as your recent writing would indicate. Speaking of that, we need to clean up the mess you’ve made. First thing, Rory Martin is due for an untimely demise. We’re going to put that line of drivel in the ground.”

“Holy shit! My fans will crucify me.”

“No, they’ll bitch and whine and threaten to burn you at the stake – until your next book comes out. When it does, your fan base will double, trust me.”

The woman sighed. “Muse, look it up. ‘One of the lesser goddesses.. Yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. We’re wasting time. Get your ass in the chair and let’s get busy.”

Tyler did as instructed but paused when confronted with the blank screen.

“I’m not helping you until you give me a name. It looks like I’m going to be here for a while and ‘hey you’ gets really old.”

“Beatrice.”

The muse wrinkled her nose. “Oh my Gods and Goddesses. You suck. If you can’t do any better than that, I might as well leave now.”

“Calliope. Or was that one of your sisters?”

The muse beamed. “I’m impressed. Did you Google that?”

“Not today. So, will that do, Calliope?”

“Yes, that will do. Now then, back to your story. Before you say anything, let’s think about this. Rory always meets some damsel in one form of distress or another, saves the day, has sex with her, or has sex with her first then saves the day. All we need is a location, a damsel, a situation and a method of killing the scoundrel off. You with me?”

“Got it.” Tyler’s fingers hit the keyboard and the words spilled onto the screen like candy from a broken pinata. The hours flew by with Tyler only stopping when his body’s demands could no longer be ignored. The days passed and two weeks later he typed ‘The End’ at the bottom of the screen.

“Good job,” Calliope cooed in his ear. “Your personal best. Format it and get it uploaded. Your fans are waiting.”

Six hours later, Tyler watched in awe as his numbers continued to climb.

“It’s gone viral,” he said as his sales his the twenty five thousand mark.

“See? I told you,” said Calliope.

Tyler’s reverie was broken by the ring of his cell phone.

“Hello, this is Tyler.”

Tyler, my name is Christine Majors. I’m an acquisitions editor with Rampart Books. We’ve been watching you and it looks like you’ve gotten quite a following. We’d like to talk to you about a deal for your next three Rory Martin books.”

“Um… Rory Martin. Yeah, I think I’ll be moving on from that story line. I’ve worked up a whole new character…”

Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. See, we’ve done some research and Rory Martin has a huge following. Our cinematic department thinks there might be a potential movie there.”

Tyler’s voice failed him for several moments. “I’ll get your number and call you back.”

He stared at Calliope. “That was it. THE call. And now Rory’s dead. I should never have listened to you. Some muse you turned out to be.”

Calliope’s laughter filled the room, cutting into Tyler’s ears like broken glass.

“Muse? Oh, Tyler, you sweet, naive man.”

As he stared, her skin went from tan to dark red and two horns sprouted from her forehead.

“Like any muse worth her salt would waste her time on a two bit hack like you. I, on the other hand, have plenty of room for a lost soul such as yourself.”

“What? But you said – the story is selling like crazy – I don’t get it. So now I give you my soul and you get Rampart to give me the deal?”

Calliope laughed again. “Oh, I’ve had your soul for years. The first time you wrote a book just for the money, you were mine. Look on the bright side. Rory’s swan song is going to make you a lot of money. You won’t be Ferrari rich, but you won’t be flipping burgers for a living either.”

“My writing?”

“Yeah, I’m afraid this is as good as it will ever be. Enjoy it, Tyler. Fame is a fickle goddess.”

Smoke and the smell of sulphur filled the room as Calliope disappeared. Tyler sat and stared at the computer screen watching his sales hit the forty thousand mark.

Go With the Flow

Today’s post is a little late. I had it all written and forgot I hadn’t uploaded it yet. Yes, Captain ADD strikes again. A little over two hours, hope you haven’t been sitting around waiting for me….

I am developing a web series called Black Rabbit with a friend of mine. Action/adventure/drama with a predominantly female cast. I know very little about scripts and shooting video, but I’m learning. Suffice it to say we wish we had a shoestring budget. Consequently we often have to modify our plans to fit the circumstances.

One of our characters is a young woman named Raven; she has a thing for knives, fast cars and hot men, not necessarily in that over. In my original character sketch she was hispanic from Columbia. The actress we ended up casting in the role (Nique Rose, an absolute joy) is African-American. Columbia just didn’t fit, so Raven is now a Creole from New Orleans. Still likes knives, fast cars and hot men but the accent is Southern instead of South American. Go with the flow.

Sometimes my novel writing takes the same kind of turns. Ever write in a character then find that getting them to do anything productive is like pulling teeth? This will likely happen to plotters more than pantsers, but even us ‘writers of the rear’ get stuck with characters and plot lines that just don’t work. Go with the flow. For me, sometimes the fix has been as simple as changing the character’s name. You can also change their physical description and gender if it helps. I write a lot of horror so I always have the option of killing them off in some gruesome manner. (This is a good thing to do to coworkers and family members who piss me off… But only on paper. Actual murders tend to produce a string of uncomfortable questions by the police and can put a large dent in your writing career.)

Another, similar problem is having a sudden great idea for a character, plot line or setting hit you from out of the blue, only to find it doesn’t quite fit. WRITE IT DOWN. Scrivener is great for this. You can jot down a quick note and get back to work (more info here {me} and here {them}). If you find a place for it, use it. If not, stick it in an idea file and give it a name that will allow you to remember what it’s about. GWTF.

Sometimes the whole story just isn’t working. Read Kristen Lamb’s blog about this. Bury it and move on. GWTF. Your job is to write as well as your talent will allow. Don’t let an albatross hang around your neck and drag you down. GWTF. This applies equally to characters, coworkers, neighbors and family members. You CANNOT GWTF if you are SIAR… (stuck in a rut). Move on. Write. Write some more. I’m tapping this blog out on my cell phone (it is NOT a smart phone) riding the bus on my way home from work. I’m GWTFing… And writing. Probably won’t get a Pulitzer, but the words are on the page, and that’s all that counts. Until next week, Dear Reader, cool flowing dreams.

Ray Bradbury Challenge #3- What About Amy?

For an explanation of the Ray Bradbury Challenge, please see my friend Arial Burnz’s blog here. I purposely limited myself to 300 words as a challenge to get a story across in the least amount of words possible. A huge thank you to my beautiful wife Goldilocks for her feedback on this story. This first draft was s#!t as is the first draft of anything and she was rather blunt about pointing this fact out to me. After a complete revision on my lunch hour, I received passing remarks from Her Majesty. BTW, this is a picture of my outdoor lunchtime writing ‘office’ at Union Station in Los Angeles. Not too shabby I think.

Union Station Patio

 

Jeff tapped his fork on the table in irritation.

“I had to reschedule two jobs; this better be important.”

“I know you’re busy but this concerns Amy,” said Allison.

Jeff stopped tapping and stared at his ex-wife. “What’s this going to cost? I don’t have any money.”

Allison sighed and dug her fingernails into her palms.

“Nothing,” she said, “and everything.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Dammit, Jeff, I have cancer. I’m dying.”

Silence pressed in on the couple as tears rolled down Allison’s face.

“Before you ask, yes, I’ve gotten a second opinion– and a third and a fourth. I wouldn’t have told you if I wasn’t sure. To be blunt, Amy needs you. You have to be a full-time dad now.”

Jeff frowned. “I’m not the one who left …”

“I don’t want to argue about who’s at fault.” Allison’s voice cracked. “She’s only six. In a few months, she won’t have anyone but you.”

Jeff avoided Allison’s stare. “This couldn’t have come at a worse time.”

Allison slammed her fists onto the table, sending dishes and utensils flying.

“Screw you! I’m sorry my dying is messing up your life. This isn’t exactly convenient for me either. You never think of anyone but yourself and Amy deserves better.”

Tears poured down Allison’s face, her eyes red with rage.

“You don’t understand,” said Jeff. “I volunteered for the mines and it’s a one way trip. I used the money to buy tickets for you and Amy to take a ship back to Earth. I didn’t know you were sick – I wanted to wait to tell you, but I’m leaving next week.

The anger in Allison’s eyes dissolved into horror. “They only let healthy people go to Earth,” she said. “What about Amy?”

Special Monday Edition

Just wanted to throw a shout out to my friend Kristen Lamb… and share her situation so that we may all learn from it… NEVER let your Tech Guy run your blog… This is what happens: (click here).

Yes, more heads will roll than in an episode of Game of Thrones…

Slow Juicers and Fast Zombies

Two weeks ago Goldilocks (my beautiful wife) and I went to see World War Z (yeah, she’s cool like that). It stars Brad Pitt which is good for several reasons. He’s an excellent actor, especially in this movie. Most of the ladies find him easy to look at, so you’ll have a better chance of convincing your wife or girlfriend to go see the movie. Just don’t invite both of them unless you are looking to start your own personal apocalypse.

Forget every zombie movie you’ve ever seen, including the esteemed Walking Dead. These zombies do not walk, amble or stroll. They run. Like cheetahs. On steroids. Unless you have bionic implants (Google the Six Million Dollar Man if that last remark confused you) you are not going to survive. Not even if you have an army of Daryl’s with crossbows. No spoilers here but the (sort of) good news is that these zombies seem more intent on biting and spreading the virus than eating their victims. There was a lot less gore than I was expecting and I think it made for a better movie.

Unfortunately there were a few times I had to say “Oh come on, really?” Yes, out loud in the theater. Sorry, the movie deserved it. Goldilocks just rolls her eyes when I do this… Unless we are watching movies at home. Then I usually get chastised for calling the movie makers on some stupid mistake. I am no longer allowed to make comments about the inaccuracy of lock picking scenes in movies under threat of severe bodily harm. Two comments in a whole movie? That’s pretty good, so you can feel safe about going to see it.

On the home front, we purchased a slow juicer in our continuing quest for better health. This thing does to carrots and apples what zombies do to couch potatoes. Juice out one side, pulp out the other. I have found the pulp makes excellent muffins so nothing is wasted. Well, except beet pulp. Not doing beet muffins and you can’t make me.

To her credit, Goldilocks has been drinking juice from beets, kale and spinach. Mixed with copious amounts of apple, kiwi and honey dew juice. Oh, if I was still drinking alcohol I could hurt myself with honey dew daiquiris. That is some fine sweet juice, let me tell you.

Here’s the thing; juicing is a messy endeavor, especially when you have three square feet of kitchen counter space like we do. Our only saving grace is the kitchen has a tile floor so clean up isn’t too difficult. This is a picture of the juicer. If you want to know where to get one, email me. edward@edwardowenauthor.com

How does this all fit together? Watch and be amazed. Zombies have always been portrayed as the tortises of the monster world. WWZ comes along and not only shatters the stereotype, but makes about a gazillion dollars in the process. Juicers have been, for the most part, high speed devices that destroyed some of the nutrients in the foods they juiced. The slow juicer takes it easy and gives you every last vitamin and mineral to which you are entitled. Just because it’s always been done that way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Keep an open mind. Things will start to creep into it and you might learn something. BTW, if the zombie apocalypse does happen, I hope I’m hanging out with my couch potato friends. I can run faster than they can. Until next week, scary zombie juice dreams (eeewwww, gross!).