Monday, July 27, 2015

Never Trust a Dog to Watch Your Food

Well I’m a bit late this week coming up with a blog, and admittedly I had some trouble coming up with a subject to write about. I just sat in front of my computer, staring at the screen, then it hit me. I don’t mean an idea popped into my head like some sort of fairy tale epiphany. No it was a tail of a completely different sort. It was my dog’s tail. The tail of my 100 lb. Lab/Newfoundland mix, right across my shins. Her name is Daisy and she is my Nemesis.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not some sort of dog hater. I like dogs. In fact we have two other dogs that I love. They have little behavioral issues, but they are basically good dogs and they didn’t grow to the size of a cave troll before they were one.

Daisy, on the other hand, has several little quirks that make her a bit less than endearing. She sheds hair in chunks the size of a small rat, and her breath is only marginally better than the issues emanating from her other end. She sounds like an air raid siren every time we let her outside, thanks to separation anxiety, and when I let her in, she shows her joy by skidding through the house, knocking over chairs, trash cans and occasionally small children.

Yes, Daisy is a little bundle of joy, but all these things do not compare to her real problem; Daisy likes to eat things.

She eats big things, little things, messy things, and weird things. I wonder if she was a goat in another life. She eats my daughter’s toys and seems particularly partial to her crayons, making poop day quite festive. She once ate a five pound bag of raw potatoes. Poop day that week was not quite so festive. She ate two pounds of skittles, then threw them up on our carpet in an all new rainbow of colors. She once managed to empty an industrial container of taco seasoning on the upstairs landing, making it forever resemble the sight of a mass murder. All these were great fun but my favorite was her most recent snack, a large canvas apron.

One day, while we were gone, she worked her way into one of the child/dog proof cabinets and pulled out our old BBQ apron. It was about four feet long and wide enough to cover a blimp so eating it was no small feat. She must have seen it as some sort of extreme food challenge, but she would have lost because the only thing she couldn’t finish was the patch in the middle that said “Tabasco”. Must have been too spicy for her.

We were all a bit baffled when we came home and saw this remnant sitting on the kitchen floor. None of us wanted to believe she could have eaten the whole thing, but the lack of any other evidence told us she had indeed achieved the impossible.

When my wife left for the vet I explained that we really couldn’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars saving this dog. So two nights in the pet hospital and thousands of dollars later, I get my dog back, rearing to go, with an all new gut and an appetite to match. She’s home now, healthy as ever and I would like to say she has learned her lesson, but I doubt it. I can’t wait to see what she will eat next. Maybe a case of Easter egg dye, or perhaps an entire lazy-boy chair, I don’t know. Whatever it is I’m sure it will be an adventure and I will be back here to tell you the tale.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Hi and thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy a peek into what goes into my writing process. I follow several of the writers on this blogging tour, and I amazed at how similar, and how different a writer’s process can be. It just goes to show that no matter how you get there, anyone is capable of writing a great story.

I would like to thank Corinne O’Flynn for inviting me onto this tour. She is an amazing young adult author and is currently working on her newest novel COVENTRY TOWN. I have had the privilege of an advance peek into her novel and it is an amazing story. I met Corinne at The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference last year and she has been a great friend and influence every since. Stop by her web site and get her latest news, read up on her blogs and get a look at what she goes through to put her terrific stories down on paper.

As for me, this tour is comprised of a four questions. I hope the answers will give you a glimpse into what goes on in my writing life.

What am I working on now:

I have written everything from adult Christian fiction (heavy on the fiction and light on the Christian) to young adult science fiction. Right now I am hard at work on a new novel about a girl who has the power of shadows. I am hoping it will be the first in a long line of books featuring this character. We have already developed quite a kinship, and I have a feeling she will have many more stories to tell.

How does my work differ from others in its genre: 

While I write for a young adult audience, my stories tend to lean toward the sinister. My characters find the worst in their worlds and always seem to turn it into something better. Whether it is being sold into alien slavery or trapped in an alternate universe, they always come out on top, and usually do it with plenty of snarky style.

Why do I write what I do: 

I like to weave the magical, the unusual and the strange into my stories, and the mind of the young adult is the best place to cultivate just those kinds of seeds. They know how to live in their imaginations, and are still unspoiled by the 9 to 5 dullery that binds most of us to the chains of reality. The question is why do you write what you do. The answer is, because I can't imagine writing for anyone else.

How does my writing process work: 

This one is a little harder. My writing process starts out with a series of ideas jotted down in my phone, on a cocktail napkin or my hand ... pretty much anything that happens to be close by when inspiration hits. From there, the ideas flow into a seat of my pants pen and paper marathon that spells out the readers digest ultra condensed version of whatever story is kicking its way out of my brain.

After that, things go from flowing and free, to being nailed down into the real nuts and bolts of what the story will be. I am a plotter through and through, and it shows in the pages and pages of spreadsheets that outline each of my chapters. Once the plotting is done, there is nothing left but the fun of writing the adventure page by page until the whole story is finally set free.

That’s pretty much my writing world in a proverbial nutshell. I hope you managed to glean some useful, if not entertaining information from my rantings.

Also, be sure you check out Dean K Miller, Anna Tan and Lisa Vooght. They are also being featured in this week’s blog tour and have their own unique methods of putting pen to paper to develop  their amazing stories.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

How NOT to Teach Your Kid How to Fish

I have never been a fisherman. I have never even claimed to be a fisherman, but when we rented a cabin next the beautiful Chrystal Lake here in Colorado, I thought what could go wrong. I will get to spend some quality time with my seven year old daughter and enjoy some fresh air.

When we arrived I unpacked and dutifully carried the six hundred pounds of fishing tackle, rods, line, chairs, floaties, seat cushions, fish decoys, cinder blocks, and whatever else the local fishing shop told me I would need, down to the river bank and set up shop.

My daughter stood next to me giddy with anticipation, and once we had our gear set, she watched as I cast the first line into the water. Immediately we got a bite and I set the hook … into nothing. I reeled the line in, re-baited the hook (since the thieving fish managed to make off with my worm) and tried again, optimistic at our chances. This pattern repeated itself six or seven hundred thousand more times and I decided maybe I was doing something wrong. Perhaps the worms had turned. My daughter had long ago been distracted from the whole ordeal by the promise of mud pies and Barbies, and I had cast my line so many times my rotator cuff was threatening to pull the pin and walk out.

I sighed and checked the little white worm tub for an expiration date (just in case) then figured I would give it one more try before calling it a day. Wouldn’t you know it … fish on! 

It gave up a good fight, but within a few seconds, I managed to reel in the monster trout, all four and three quarter inches of it. Apparently all of the big fish had gone home, leaving one skinny, pathetic looking straggler to catch my line. I could have put it in a fish bowl and had room for three more.

My daughter saw all of the excitement and came over to see what was happening. At first she was amazed, laughing with glee, then she realized that I was holding a living creature skewered on the end of a hook. A flood of childhood tears ensued and she went running for the cabin. Just call me father of the year.

It occurred to me that I should have thought things out a little better. Not only had I sent my daughter running in tears to the cabin, but now I was holding my prize four and three quarter inch fish, and I had no idea what to do with it. I had worked out the catching part, and I had mastered the eating part years ago. But how it got from point A to point C was a complete mystery to me. I had never gutted a fish. My fish came in a box, covered in little ice crystals and breading.

I looked around like an idiot. Me and my four and three quarter inch fish dangling from my hand. Thankfully I saw a friend coming to the rescue. Unlike me, Laura was an avid fisher-woman and had no doubt been drawn by the call of my still waling child.

“Did you get the hook out?” she asked, as she walked up to meet me. I looked down at the fish and the fish looked back at me, I’m pretty sure it was thinking something like ‘Duh’.

My friend Laura managed to pull the hook out with some sort of archaic dental/torture device made of rod iron and barbed wire (see previous blog), then she handed the fish back to me. She eyed me as she clasped my hands around the four and three quarter inch trout, the way a parent might teach a toddler to hold onto something important.

“Now hold on tight,” she said, then she turned away to pull something out of the pouch at her waist. I had no idea what she was about to do next. I thought maybe she was afraid my prize was going to escape. Perhaps she had a little cage in her pouch or something.

Before I go on, let me pause for a moment and describe Laura to you. She is a kind woman. Her voice is quiet and reserved. She is the sort of person who lets the bugs fly free from her window and sings to the birds in the trees.

Needless to say, when she swung the forty five pound screwdriver handle into the trout’s head it came as a bit of a shock. The fish did indeed make its escape, but it did not get far. I caught it before it could hit the ground. Unfortunately my slack grip had also allowed the fish to avoid Laura’s death blow.

“You have to hold on tight!” Laura growled, and something in her eyes finished the sentence with … or else!

I did as she commanded and Laura began her impression of Robert De Niro in the baseball bat scene of The Untouchables. Wack … wack … wack …. wack. Fish blood flew everywhere. It streaked my shirt and pants like a murder scene in a C.S.I. episode. It was a horror move gone terribly wrong.

When the violence subsided I opened my eyes and wouldn’t you know it, my wife had calmed my daughter down, and brought her back to see the fish again. On the up side my daughter wasn’t crying any more. She was too busy staring at us in sheet white horror. Just call her the mother of the year. I’m sure the nightmares will end soon.

Once my wife had ushered her back into the cabin for therapy, I took my handful of fish goo down to the water to wash it off. As a squatted down to the lake side, the fish had one last surprise up what was left of its little fishy fin.

Through no fault of my own! (or so I claim) … The fish jumped out of my hand and into the water. I tried to catch it again but when I wrapped my hand around the thing just squished out like some kind of slimy … well fish.

I watched as it spiraled down into the deep, away from the shore and my dinner plate. I looked back at Laura, and for a second I had a vision of that scene in The Untouchables again, this time with me as the guy at the table, but she just laughed, absently cleaning her implement of fish murder on an old rag.

We all laughed about it that night around the fire, and my daughter swore she would never eat a fish again. I hope she never asks me where hamburgers come from.

I know there has to be a million fish stories out there. I would love to hear them, especially if they make me feel better about my own pathetic skills.

See you soon and happy reading

Monday, January 23, 2012

Code Word For A Sadistic Expert In Torture Techniques? Dentist!

I was at the dentist the other day, drooling onto the stylish paper napkin/bib they provide, and it occurred to me just how much it must cost to run a place like that. Sure they have normal overhead like any other business owner. They have to pay for things like employees, office space, specialized equipment, and of course the sadistic looking goggle/facemask/bionic monocle thing they wear to hide their identity, but that’s not the real cost of keeping a dentist office running.

As I sat there, helpless in that mid-evil torture chair, it was clear the real cost of keeping that place running was the energy expense of keeping the water that comes out of that little gun at sub arctic temperatures. I don’t know if they add some sort of chemical to keep it from freezing when it dips below -47 degrees, but there’s nothing like having an exposed nerve lasered with that diamond sharp stream of water.

When I finished screaming, I attempted to ask why the water was so cold, but the Novocain made me sound more like a trolling motor than a human being. I think my dentist understood me none the less, because he laughed, then told me he needed to dry the area with a little puff of air.

That’s when I was made aware of the other little pleasure of that particular office. Apparently, they had not only run their air lines through the same glacial cooling unit as their water system, they’d also pumped the pressure up to about 270 PSI. That little puff of air just about blew my eyeballs out.

Another half hour of torture and they let me out of the chair. I went by the receptionist’s desk to give her my insurance information, my checkbook, all my credit cards and my first born child. When she had exhausted all forms of payment she opened her appointment book and looked up at me with a gleaming white smile.

“When can I schedule you for your next appointment sir?”

Dentists are geniuses. Who else would we pay to torture us with so much pain? Ok, there are always lawyers and cable talk show hosts, but other than that, who else is there.

Anyone out there agree? I would love to hear from you, (especially someone that can get a really good deal on a portable water heater).

Thanks for coming by and happy reading!