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Monday, July 29, 2013 35 comments

Of Barriers to Prose

On the evening of Nov. 9, 1989, I worked the opening night at a new private club in Amsterdam.
One of my first tables ordered a nice bottle of red.
A server for nearly a year, I sooo knew how to uncork a bottle of wine.

In my old place, a local restaurant, it was easy: Shove top of bottle into “pump,” pull down (and then push up) lever, which is bolted onto the bar.
Cork comes out, and Bob’s your uncle.
Earlier, the manager at the fancy schmancy place handed me a “wine key.” It was small, mobile and I imagined there would be no trouble to stick the curly bit into the cork, turn the handle and pull…
 After TEN minutes of my sweating and huffing (I couldn’t figure how to open the bottle) the poor customer literally took the bottle, anchored it between his knees, turned the wine key and pulled out the cork.
I was immediately suspended from opening bottles of wine until I mastered my traitor-ious wine key. Stuck in the bar, I watched the news all evening and knew something historic was happening. A few colleagues decided to make a quick road trip and be part of history, instead of watching.
I turned down the last place in the car.
To say I was embarrassed at my earlier wine disaster would be an understatement – and that’s my segue way.
·         As Writers, we never know when opportunity arises or inspiration strikes. This is an old school idea, but it works! Keep a pen and pad handy – in various areas. Mine are by my bedside, in my wallet and by the utility bills.
(I have four "categories:" WIP, IWSG, Posts and my You know you’re a parent series. I manage to fill at least a page of each - every month :)
·         When “jaded,” spread your creativity and stay fresh by writing “outside the box.” Hate screenwriting or a Haiku? Write one. Hate flash fiction contests? Enter many.
·         Don’t over-extend yourself; focus on WIP, not my new series: Tips on Writing Infrequently – Typed. Anyone can be a scribe, but not many can be a T.W.I.T.
Moral of the story: Think you’re not good enough to write/publish your work?

I *get* that Writers can be our own worst enemies, but so long as your heart powers your passion to prose – you *are* a Writer and no one can tell you otherwise.
Never stop learning how to better operate the tools of your imagination and when possible, take advantage of any opportunities (CPs, betas, conferences, etc.)
Talk about going outside my comfort zone, I leave you with an Irish-Hawaiian Haiku:
 Fight to write.
Write to live.
Live to write.
        Some bald guy
Oh, and that historic event that happened only hours from Amsterdam? (Talk about missing an opportunity...)
It was "only" the falling of the Berlin Wall...

Monday, July 22, 2013 23 comments

Aloha to "GaryFest" - where all your hops & fests come true:)


 It's been minutes in the making, but finally I and my cohorts, er co-hosts, can officially announce the "Anti-Blogfest Gary Fest."
"GaryFest" goes live on August 12, and it's designed as a blog hop in honor of Mr. anti-blog hop himself, our Gary at Klahanie.
"GaryFest is hosted by:

and GaryFest button designer, Morgan “The Morg” Shamy
Now, the rules are *very* simple:
1. Create the titles of three PG-13 rated blogfests you would never join - and then add a descriptive sentence or two.
That's it!
For example, I would never sign up for the:
Cheesecake & Cauliflower Bloghop - "where dinner and dessert is mixed in one dish."
OR the
Blocked up Toilet Blogfest - "where crap happens."
OR even the
Alphapet Zoo-mbie Bloghop - "where cuddly undead toys learn how to spell."
Sign up below for GaryFest... and don't forget to please stop back August 12.
(I'm on a "staycation" for the week, so see y'all next Monday - and stay thirsty, my friends :)

Friday, July 19, 2013 30 comments

It's All In The Numbers - Thanks To YOU :)


I'm not a numbers person, but this week has made me feel like I'm a real-life baseball stat.
Future MLB Star? Why not, Son. The World is your Home Plate

For example:

*This* is my 200th post.

Multiply that by the fact I cracked 50,000 page views Thursday.

My attention was also divided when I received my 5,000th comment this week, too.

Plus, I'm only two away from 400 followers - and I would so arrange a giveaway - but I have no clue how to start a Rafflechopper.

Instead, I want to say a simple - and heart-feltthank you to everyone who's participated in my "numbers game" these last couple of years.

PS: I'm still minus the hair, but it's all good - the boys say my shining head is like a beacon whenever they need to find me in a crowded mall.

After No. 2 Son read WIP, I felt change was needed...

Happy Friday to one - and all :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 34 comments

Super Blogger Award - & a Secret :)



I got an award from Capt. Alex “Rush Rocks” Cavanaugh.

(Oops! I nearly wrote Limbaugh instead of Cavanaugh, which would have been funny – but only if you listen to talk radio :)

Alex got the inaugural Super Blogger Award from creator, Mark “call me Mel” Means, and the criteria is simple.

“Take the award for yourself, then pass it along to someone who inspires you or you just think is 'super' in one way or another. Tell us why you think that person is super and deserving. Now, all the recipient has to do is reveal a (as in one) small secret about themselves (super people always tend to have a secret or two, right?) and pass the reward on to someone they think is deserving.
Simple, right?”

I am supposed to share a secret.
Do I go funny or strange?
Serious or unbelievable (but true!)

Let’s go with cute… (At least I think it is :)

I knew I wanted to propose to my wife somewhere unique, and as this was 2003 pre-FB, Twitter, etc., my creativity had no choice but go work.
After securing a positive response from the possible in-laws-to-be, I contacted the place I wanted the deed to be done.

It took a while, but once their public relations department took pity on my charming Oirish accent – I was in like Flynn.

On the day in question, I made arrangements to relax and dine close to the action, but once lunch was over, we did have to boogie like it was 1974, ‘cos we had to be in specific seats at an exact time.

My future intended thought I was a mite strange that I wanted to sit in the sun – in the middle of the arena – when there were many shady spots, but I liked the view here, I told her, sweating worse than an old piece of cheese.

Considering we were in the oval-shaped arena, I don’t doubt my betrothed-to be (I hoped) wondered toward my sanity.

But then, at the prescribed time, the Jumbotron came on, and as usual, people waved as the camera went by.

My future squealed a little as she saw herself - at first - and then she was like, “whoa, dude it’s zooming in really close.”
So close that within thirty seconds, we filled the screen.

Which meant I had ninety seconds...

The scrolling sentence started to scroll… “G., Mark has something he would like to ask you…”

I got down on bended knee and then, oh my gosh... I struggled to get the ring box out of my jeans pocket... arrgggh... Please don’t let me drop the ring, Lord!
The box came free, and as I held the ring out to ask for her hand in marriage – the roar from the crowd was awesome…but she hadn't said yes - yet!

Time ticked.

The fickle camera would have to move soon…

“Sweethie, I said, “You don’t have to say yes, but you gotta say something – quick!”

Luckily for No. 1 through 3 Sons, her answer was yes, and we sat back to watch the rest of the Shamu show at SeaWorld, San Diego.

 I now pass the Super Blogger Award on to none other than Julie Luek.

Julie is a goddess of goodness and a true blogger friend.

Friday, July 12, 2013 31 comments

Hi! From Hawaii (HI2) - Polynesian Cultural Center


Will Call: A popular guy at the PCC
For this latest edition of Hi! from Hawaii (HI2 ), I want to first offer a compliment to any readers from the LDS church: The Polynesian Cultural Center is something you can all be very proud of.
View from a hut in the Villages
I absolutely *love* this place, as do the kids.
Checking out the canoes

PCC is safe, clean and *ALL* the staff – performers and/or retail staff are very approachable.
Neat factoid... From what I hear, seventy percent of the staff are students of the local Brigham Young University - Hawaii, and fifty percent are on scholarships, so it's a great way to interact with young people from all over Polynesia.

No. 1 Son learns the beat of the drums
No. 3 Son goes all mini-Godzilla near Tahiti
You can discover general info about PCC here, and find the history of the 42-acre center here, but the easiest way for me to describe the Center, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is that PCC reminds me of a Polynesian EPCOT. (No. 1 Son always asks can we go to the “mini Disney.”)
PCC has a bunch of stuff going on for itself. Its evening show, Hā: BREATH OF LIFE is amazing; plus there are several buffet-style lu’au restaurants and an outdoor shopping area to end your visit.

Just like Tahiti above, see how high the sign is here...
However, as we mostly go on our PCC “field tips” during the day, I’m focusing on The Villages.

Look! Another high sign...
There are six different Polynesian countries/islands represented: Hawaii, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti. 
And, another sign up on high ground...

Each island offers several family friendly activities, shows and/or examples of local culture and food.

Why island signs should be placed higher...

Yup... the Koopmans Kids strike again (sigh...:)
Now, the one thing you simply must do, dahling, while walking (or canoeing) around the Villages is to snag a good spot by the river no later than 2:15 p.m. so you can relax and enjoy the daily (2:30 p.m.) canoe pageant, which features canoes and dancers from each island.



New Friends :)
PCC is on the North Shore area of O’ahu and for us it takes an hour to drive from door-to-door.
Anyone want to live off this road?
However, even the ride out there is fabulous, with winding roads that have you sometimes only feet from the ocean.

Hawaiian guard rails...
Should your travels ever bring you to O’ahu, a day trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center should be at, or near, the top of your to-do list.

Tree Climbing in Samoa (*highly* recommended:)
I promise you won’t be disappointed – unless you go on a Sunday – that’s the only day it’s closed :)

My score: PCC gets four lucky charms (out of a possible five :)
And, of course, any kids visiting PCC *will* sleep really well that night...

No. 2 Son decides it's time to take a break from the action
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 26 comments

Guest Post: Martin Willoughby on "Creating a Book Title"


I’m passing the Buick to an English blogger friend, Martin Willoughby, over at From Sand to Glass.

Martin, whose Friday Fun posts are *hilarious,* is celebrating the release of his first book, Tempers Fugit.
The lanai is all yours, Martin :)

Creating A Title For Your Book

The process of creating a book title is a pain in the neck, though some people have a lower opinion of it. But there are ways round the problem and some secrets I can share...providing you promise not to tell anyone else.

Secret Number 1: Steal someone else’s. As long as the title you use is relevant to your own, you can use any title someone else has used, though I don’t recommend it. What you can do is use that title as the starting point for your own search for a title. Take, for instance, a famous book such as Great Expectations. If your book is about a person with TB trying to achieve his life’s goal before he dies, you could change it to Great Expectorations.

Secret Number 2: Brainstorm. Get a piece of paper and write down any title that’s even remotely relevant, however idiotic it may seem at the time. When I came to re-title A Stitch In Time I went through various ideas based on film titles starting with The Good, The Bad and The One With the Pet Robot through to 2381: A Space Oddity and various other embarrassing titles in between. It was only when I got together with a friend that we came with Tempers Fugit. The inspiration for that title came from Terry Pratchett’s book Carpe Jugulum, which is based in the Latin Carpe Diem (seize the day). As it’s about vampires, the title is very apt indeed. My novel Tempers Fugit is based on the Latin Tempus Fugit (time flies) to become Tempers Flying.

Secret Number 3: Use an important phrase from the book. What does your main character repeat often? How does the book end? Where is it set? Write a comprehensive list, then start discarding the ones that you hate. Pass them around friends and relatives and see which one makes the biggest impact. Then ignore them all and plump for the one you like. Back to Terry Pratchett here and his first book, The Colour of Magic. In the novel magic does have a colour, but there is also a link to the film The Colour Of Money, thereby reusing a well known phrase but changing it to suit the book.

Secret Number 4: Use the main characters name and add what he’s going to face. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You could do the same for the world you’ve created, such as Dune or use the theme of the story, as with Fat by Rob Grant.

Secret Number 5: Get weird. Salmon Fishing the Yemen, A History Of Tractors in the Ukraine, The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and so on and so forth.

Secret Number 6: (This entry has been censored by the Publishing Industry as it reveals our innermost secrets. The author has been placed under protective custody in Area 51...which doesn’t exist so forget we mentioned it)

In short, get creative. Pay as much attention to the title as you do to the story, as it’s the first thing that people will see, at least until you become famous and can have your name as the selling point.

MartinWilloughby is an author of some repute and a legend in his own lunchtime. When not writing he fixes computers, raises teenage children and acts in an amateur theatre group where he’s always cast as the baddy. He’s won many awards in his lifetime, including an Oscar for best actor which he received from his mother as a Christmas present many years ago. Tempers Fugit is his first book, his second, Apollo The Thirteenth, will be released later this year to even more fanfare and approval. You can stalk him on twitter or via his blog, From Sand to Glass.


In other news, (I've always wanted to say that:) Sarah's Reviews is offering a giveaway of three books by the wonderful C. Lee McKenzie.

For full details, click on any - or all - of the links below.



Monday, July 8, 2013 20 comments

Cyber ROAD TRIP, anyone? (No, Gary, it's *not* a Bloghop)


Rhode Island Tree 2011

This past Wednesday, Melissa Maygrove shared on her blog here a general gripe about life for her edition of Insecure Writers Support Group.

The reason for *this* post comes from a comment by Julie Luek who said, Melissa, you crack me up. Maybe we need to get a bunch of mid-life women writers together for a road trip. Good heavens, yes, sometimes -- most times-- it's not about the insecurities as much as the grumpies!”

Melissa then responded with, Yes! That's what we need to do! Road trip! Road trip! Road trip! :D”

This *CRACKED* me up – especially when Morgan Shamy said she was up for a travel adventure, too.
So, for a bit of fun, I thought I would arrange a Cyber Road Trip - but I sooo call shotgun :)

Stella and Artois, my two Virtual Winnebagos are loaded for bear and we’ll start our journey in San Diego, Calif.
(I would start from Honolulu, but the Winnies would sink like a Belgian brewery.)
Hawaiian Tree 2013

I've removed all the beds and replaced them with couches, which means there’s room in the RVs for everyone! Bring your tunes, laptops; writing pads, snacks and a beverage of choice (I’ve heard there may be some of Jezebel’s punch :)

The only rules are:
·         I’ll start and then each subsequent commenter drives the RV to the following stop.
·         So, first review the comment directly above you. Open Google Maps (or equivalent), discover where the RVs stopped. That’s your starting point.
·         You can’t travel more than 250 +/- miles a comment :)
·         You have to point out SOMETHING, (anything) on your leg of the journey.
·         The RVs can’t backtrack or visit the same town/city twice.
Rhode Island Sunset 2011

That’s it!

·         Can we make it to Morgan and DPK in Utah?
·         Visit Julie high up in Colorado?
·         See a Cubs game with Michael in Chicago?
·         Grab some BBQ with Melissa in Texas?
·         Snag an arc of CASSASTORM with Alex in the Carolinas?
·         Go to EPCOT with Mark Means in Florida?
So…. Where are we going – and how creative can we make this?

Hawaiian Sunset 2012
Thursday, July 4, 2013 21 comments

Happy Birthday, America - from a "10-year-old" citizen :)

Depending on your political views, they are either undocumented or illegal – but they are here.
And, whether you agree or not, the current “batch” of immigrants in today’s news are, in part, the future of this greatest of nations.
They are only the latest in a long line of settlers and migrants that include people like screenwriter Ang Lee (Taiwan), journalist Joseph Pulitzer (Hungary) and authors such as Thomas Mann (Germany) and Elie Wiesel (Rumania.)

Just so you know, I strongly disagree that anyone who breaks the laws of the land be granted a Disney-style fastpass admission to the United States.
I say this because it’s a major pain in the arse to earn a Green Card, and thus live here legally in the U.S. - but that’s the way it should be.

It took seven-and-a-half years of bureaucracy and red tape to take me from my point of arrival in Washington, D.C. to a Los Angeles-area conference room.
It was there that a United States Federal Judge stood and gave me (and hundreds of other fellow immigrants) a round of applause after a simple ceremony that concluded when we pledged allegiance to this amazing land of the free and home of the brave.

Today, when people ask my background, I simply say “I’m Irish by birth and American by choice.”
So, what should we do with the millions of immigrants “hiding in the shadows,” as some call it?

I don’t know, it’s way above my pay grade, but I’ll tell you one thing.
The vast majority made a long, agonizing choice to come to America.
Some said goodbye to the security of a job and a home.
Many left families to fend for themselves in the hope that American dollars sent via Western Union could turn around severe financial issues in the homestead.

All left a past behind so they could build a future.

One arrived at Dulles Airport on Jan.15, 1996, with two suitcases, no job, home or friends bar one.

We all came here looking for the American Dream.

And, ten years ago, yesterday, on July 3, 2003, I became a naturalized citizen.

So, happy birthday, America.
I love ya, man!
(Here's a great video tribute to earlier immigrants set to Neil Diamond's "Coming to America.")
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