Showing posts from 2018

Mishap at Lover's Lane

This is a cautionary tale of misplaced intentions and ill-gotten love. It is a tale of desire, retribution, and karma.

I grew up in a place surrounded not only by saltwater bays but lakes, rivers and streams. We had a lake right in the town of Bremerton, and many others in the surrounding area.

One of my favorite lakes during my teenage years was Kitsap lake. Wildcat lake was a close second, along with many others like long lake, horseshoe lake, and Mason lake.

The harrowing and educational event I'll recount today happened at Kitsap lake.

A little background.

Growing up, I was always called "sweet" and "cute" by girls. Now, to a teenage boy, these are the things you DO NOT want to hear from girls. At sixteen years old and having never experienced the joy of gliding smoothly past third base and expertly over home plate, it became nearly an all-consuming mission to add this particular experience to the story of my life.

In my vast experience up to that point, w…

Love in Fiction

It's Valentine's Day so let's talk about love.

Not just love in general but love in story.

The history of Valentine's Day is anything but loving and romantic. In ancient times, February was considered a month of purging, cleansing, and... Breeding. The name of the month is based on the Pagan word-Februa-which means "to purge."

Yes, I know most of the world celebrates Valentine's Day with cards and gifts and remembrance of St.  Valentine. But, who was Saint Valentine? He was a member of the fledgling Catholic religion during the time of Roman rule. The Roman Emperor, Claudius forbid his young soldiers to get married while in service but Valentine (there may have been more than one in the span of a few years) performed these marriages in secret. Claudius discovered the defiance of Valentine and had him beheaded. We don't know for sure if he was martyred on February 14th but that is when the Roman Catholic church later decided to give sainthood to the n…

Neah Bay: The Tragedy That Almost Was

My Grandfather was an avid Salmon Fisherman. My Father was not, although he never stopped trying to match my Grandfather's success. Might I add that I believe, to this day, my Grandfather made the best smoked Salmon in the world.

One day, long ago, my father caught wind of some underground news that the salmon were hitting at Neah Bay. We didn't have a seaworthy boat at the time but My dad was not going to let that stop him from bringing in the fish.

What we had at the time was a twelve foot aluminum boat with a five horsepower motor, so that is what we would use.

Now, for those of you not living near a large body of water, an aluminum Jon boat was not what we considered "seaworthy." Sure these boats are fine for fishing in lakes, or even large inlets or bays, but not necessarily okay for fishing in the Straits of Juan de Fuca at the opening of the Pacific Ocean (although, I know now that it can be done.)

So, not knowing (or caring) of the danger, we threw that boat…

Naming Fictional Characters

We've all been there. You've got this great character in your head and you've already determined this character is going to save the world, but the only name you can come up with is: Bob.

This happens to me all the time. I discover a new story I'd like to tell and a character starts forming in my mind. Before long this character consumes me. I'm positive this new character is so strong that he or she will surely continue on through an entire series of stories. With the success of this series, Hollywood will come calling and the series will become a movie. The movie will be such a success that there will be a sequel. Because, you know, that's how these things work out.

But wait. How can this character do all these great things without a name? And it can't just be any name--it will have to be the best name ever. It will have to be EPIC.

How does one come up with the right name? Sometimes the name just seems to develop with the character in the writer's h…

The Flamethrower Incident

Why do young boys always seem to have a fascination with fire? I remember learning how to make a fire in Boy Scouts. It was a great skill, and I'm glad to have it but, as time passed, I found new and exciting ways to make fire.

With my newly acquired fire-making skills, I was appointed, along with my brother, the duty of burning trash. Yes, we burned all our burnable trash to minimize the cost of trash pick up. Ultimately this exercise gave us a chance to practice "stop, drop, and roll," after learning that fire will travel backwards to the gas can even if you pour it real hard onto a burning fire--but that's another story.

I grew up in Washington state. For reasons unknown, ants would create these big tall ant hills that became a nuisance if they were in or beside a pathway.

So, on this particular day, with my newly perfected fire making skills, I determined that it was up to me to destroy a particularly large and nasty ant hill that was encroaching into our backya…

Writing Dreams in Fiction

When is it okay to add dreams or flashbacks to a story?

I'm afraid there is no clear and defining answer to this question. Most of the research (or opinions) I've found on the subject imply that dream sequences and flashbacks can work in story if certain conditions are met. All of my research indicates that the current view on beginning a story with a dream or flashback is, if you actually want to sell your work, don't do it.

Of course, for every rule of writing, there are countless examples of that rule being successfully broken.  So, what are these rules? Again, no definitive answer, but I've found some considerations for using dreams and flashbacks in fiction.

If you follow K. M. Weiland (and everybody should follow K. M. Weiland) she expresses her opinion on using dreams in fiction on her youtube channel.

Others share K. M. Weiland's views on when to use dreams in fiction. Below, I've compiled a short list of generally agreed upon rules that apply to dream…

Mercurochrome Wars

Aah, those childhood memories, full of broken bikes, broken bones, Mercurochrome, and flamethrowers. Did I say flamethrower? yes, but that is another story.

Looking back at all the stupid things I attempted in my childhood, I'm absolutely amazed that I managed to survive to adulthood.

Everyone likes the feeling of freedom and when I was a child, my bicycle was the epitome of freedom. This was before the time of bike helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and all that other safety equipment we make our own children wear these days. Back then, the only safety equipment I had was a rubber band or string around my right pant leg so it wouldn't get caught in the chain. If we couldn't find these items, my friends and I would just tuck our pant legs into our sock when riding. I know what you're thinking and, even though I lived on the west coast, I still wore socks.

My bike was my pride and joy. I believe the popular bike for kids in the early to mid seventies was made by Schwinn a…

Sailing Takes me Away

Christopher Cross has got nothin' on me. Okay, well, he did have that song, but other than that...

I love to sail whenever I get the chance. Unfortunately, my little sailboat has been on the hard (out of the water) for some time now while I made repairs, maintenance, and upgrades. I haven't been sailing since the fourth of July last year, and that adventure ended rather quickly with some serious issues. Issues like, the boat getting pushed into the dock by high winds upon departure, tearing a hole into the side. That did not end our adventure. It was a bilge plug failing and our boat filling with water that ended the adventure. We were forced to limp back on flaked sails and outboard motor power to watch the fireworks from the shore.

Of course, my sailing thoughts, like nearly everything else in my life are best expressed with some short poems. Here's a couple.

Cast your worries all into the emerald sea Watch them sink to ocean depths as you sail with me.
Let us slip into…

The Social Media Trap

Social media can be fun but it can also suck you down a hole so deep, you'll be drinking tea with the Mad Hatter.

I've noticed lately that nearly our entire population keeps their cell phone so close-at-hand, they might as well have it surgically attached to their bodies. But hey, don't get any ideas, I was just kidding. I often encounter drivers on the road weaving in front of me, barely staying within their lane and slowing down. That's the clue - when they slow down - that are likely reading or sending a text. Maybe they're even surfing the net or playing a game while simultaneously trying to drive a car. Most of the time, this is confirmed as I pass them. According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving accounts for twenty five percent of all vehicle crashes in the United States. Whew, I'm glad we got our safety speech out of the way. Even the news folks on television check their phones or tablets often to answer some tweet or get dir…

Penning about Poison

My search history is a scary place. If one were to delve deep enough, I'm sure all kinds of strange, weird, and downright nasty things would surface. In the past, I've searched medieval weaponry, gunshot wounds (both entry and exit) body decomposition, and other questionable subjects. Lately, a large part of my research history is about poison and poisonous plants.

Not just the plants themselves but how one might use them to kill another. What is the most effective poison, the easiest to procure, what dosages are needed to ensure death (quick or not) and which plants do or do not show up in a toxin screen.

If the conspiracy theory is true that the government keeps a record of all our communications, interactions, phone calls, and web searches, I could easily become a suspect. I just hope that no one living anywhere near me dies of poisoning anytime soon.

For a current work in progress, I started with the premise of poisoning. I didn't want to portray the standard poisonin…

Snow Day

Last night it snowed.

I know what you're thinking, Who cares, right? This is not the snow many of you are thinking of. We did not receive snow in feet, or even inches. We received a dusting of snow.

Nonetheless, Schools are closed, roads are close, the Governor has declared a state of emergency.

Before you break your back falling off your chair laughing, remember I live in the South.

I grew up in the Northwest in a midsize town in Washington state called Bremerton. My wife grew up in Colorado. In those places, snow was quite normal. Every year as winter approached, the snow plows and sand/salt trucks were prepared for their winter work. When the ice and snow came, these machines were put to use, plowing and clearing, and the roads stayed mostly clear and passable.

Little or none of that machinery exists as far south as I live. So, when we get this dusting of snow and the roads ice up, that's how they stay until the sun comes up and melts everything away. I suppose what I'…

Does Your Story Have Character?

Every story needs character. Sure, many stories are driven by plot, especially the kind I like to write but, it is how the character in the story reacts and grows that makes a story unique. Let's face it, there are only 20 master plots that every story ever written falls into according to the reasearch of Tobias and others. The list has been as low as three and as high as 36 but most agree on 20.

But, if you couple these master plots with an infinitesimal number character traits, along with an author's individual style, that's what gives every story a chance to be unique. So, even if you are writing a plot-driven story, the uniqueness or freshness of the story will depend on how your main character (and other characters) react to all the threats and heartache you put to them.

In order to be successful at this you must know your character. You must guide the development or arc of your character as the story progresses. My personal style of developing a story is with at leas…