March 30, 2015

Verbiage For You!

Greetings and Salutations to one and all today!

Not much has happened this weekend, but since it's the start of a brand new week and furthermore, it's a bill bill day, a brand new post for you to chew upon and digest is here for the taking.

First, a little personal pimping.

Now through April 1st, my novel "The Inner Sibling" is on sale. If you enter the code VE24Z at checkout, you'll save 33%/$1 off the cover price. Clicking on the caption will bring you directly there.

And now, for something completely different, a post on how not to read a book. I know this sounds screwy, but trust me on this one, because it will make sense in the long run.

About a two weeks ago, I saw a book called "The Lesser Dead" by Christopher Buehlman at my local library. I immediately went through my usual routine and ultimately decided to check it out. A few days later, I opened it up and started reading, but eventually gave up after the 1st chapter. Never really got back to it so about a week later I returned it to the library.

Last week, I again saw that book on the New Fiction shelf, so I decided to take another chance, reasoning that perhaps I had an off week, which in turn prevented me from reading it. And again I started reading it, this time getting through three more chapters before giving up on it.

This time though, the reasons behind me giving up on it were pretty clear and that clarity prompted me to write my first 2 star review on Amazon (apparently this writer has received a lot of 4 & 5 star reviews for this book plus extensive reviews from some Amazon's top reviewers).

So my friends, this is what I left for review. Please note that 2 is the lowest I will go for a rating. I will not do 1 star because 1 star signifies that there was no redeeming quality. 2 means that you got me to pick up the book to read. No more and no less. Oh, the title of the review is "Needs An Attitude Adjustment".

"When I'd first seen this in my public library, I thought to myself, "Cool, a story about vampires." After checking it out and bringing it home, I found some time to give a read. However, after reading about 5 pages or so, I put it down. Why? For some reason, it just didn't grab my interest. Eventually I brought it back to the library. However, about a couple of weeks later, I saw it on the shelf and I decided to give it another try, because I figured I was having an off day the first time around.
However, after reading about four chapters, not only did it not grab me, but I got extremely turned off by the smug/condescending tone of the narrative voice. I deal with smug/condescending people at work and the last thing I want is to read a story that sorely needs an attitude adjustment. I have no idea on whether or not this is a good story because I couldn't get beyond the crappy narrative voice.
Because of the crappy narrative voice, I will think long and hard before trying any of Mr. Buehlman's other novels."
So my friends, this is how you don't read a book: you check out a book based on the inside jacket blurb, yet get completely turned off by the content once you actually start reading it.

(c) 2015 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.

March 27, 2015

How To Silence Your Newsfeed

Food for thought usually starts with a random observation, and this is about as random as you're gonna get from me.

My newsfeed primarily consists of people from all over the political spectrum, which for me, often creates a lively debate (usually one sided) because as probably the lone moderate Republican (WASPy all the way!) in my circle, I frequently bring a dose of reality to whatever happens to going on at the time.

Frequently, my newsfeed blows up whenever something (usually not good in the eyes of others) about gay rights/gay marriage happens in the US (and no, this does not surprise me). People start commenting left and right about all kinds of weird stuff that they dig up about politicians (Republicans from conservative states) who they think doth insert mouth in foot too much. And more often than not, it will really blow up when something (in their eyes) good happens (i.e. gay marriage passes in another state).

However, this week, when a story about that great state of theocracy called Utah did something positive for gay rights, SB 296, my newsfeed was eerily silent. Nary a peep was uttered about the fact that the Mormon Church, which basically runs Utah, worked hand in hand with the leaders from the LGBT community to create this bill, which ultimately passed with flying colors (no pun intended).

You would think with all the trials and tribulations (both real and manufactured) that the LGBT community has gone through, people would celebrate a major inroad that forged in the ultimate conservative state.

But no, not one solitary word from people in my newsfeed nor really in the pages that I follow. And before you ask, I do not follow George Takei's FB page. I did for a while, but I really got turned off by the reverse bigotry/alleged "open mindedness" that not only a solid majority of the commenters possessed, but (in my opinion) the owner of the page as well.

I'm a relatively reasonable person, and even though I've changed my opinion on some things over the years (like gay rights/gay marriage), which was directly due to people taking the time to both consider my position and offer their position w/o cramming it down my throat, there are others in which I will not change my position on, no matter how passionate you are about the subject.

So can someone, anyone, please explain to me why everything has to be an all-or-nothing proposition? Doesn't anyone understand the value of compromise so that you can build off a modest gain and turn it into something better? It doesn't necessarily have to apply to this issue, but to any issue, hot button or otherwise.

(c) 2015 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.

March 25, 2015

Acknowledge What?

I decided late last week that I wanted to get my book out in months of April and May, and in order to meet that goal, I needed come up with a new title (done) and both a dedication and an acknowledgement page. The dedication was ridiculously simple as I simply dedicated the book to a few late lamented family members.

The acknowledgements, on the other hand, were just a tad more difficult, simply because I am self-publishing my book. If I was publishing this the traditional way (aka small/medium/large press), I probably would be thanking a myriad of people who had a very small-to-none part in it: agent(s), editor*, copy editor, acquiring editor, higher muckity-mucks who wouldn't know a verb from a noun, research assistants*, proofreaders, beta readers*, strange readers, graphic artists*, my pet cat, my cousin twice removed from a distant third cousin who made a suggestion to change a sentence, etc. etc. etc., until I had two pages worth of clutter.

*these people straddle both worlds and thus deserve actual genuine acknowledgement.

But I'm not publishing it the traditional/legacy/corporate way. I'm self-publishing it, so in that particular spirit, I should be able to put my own Church Lady special mark on it. So in that vein, here is a rough draft of what my acknowledgement page will look like.

March 22, 2015

Sometimes New Music Is A Miss

As I've stated previously, most (if not all) the recent additions to my music collection have come from the library. The library has a perpetual fund raiser, in which they sell used c.d.'s, books and movies that has been both culled from their collection and acquired via donations (the library also has two monster book sales in the summer and fall, where they raise roughly 25% of their outside budget).

Whenever I go to the library to check out books, I always make a beeline towards the used c.d. rack. I figure that since all the c.d.'s are priced $1-$2, it would be the cheapest way to both expand my c.d. collection and my musical horizons. Most of the time, the c.d.'s I pick up are hits, in that after I listen to the one song I bought the c.d. for, listening to the entire c.d. brings a greater appreciation for the artist.

Sometimes though, I come up with the occasional miss, and it takes a lot for me to label a c.d. or a group of c.d.'s a miss, simply because I make a conscientious effort to play the c.d all the way through.

Some notable misses includes c.d.'s from: Curtis Mayfield (boxed set), Good Charlotte, Tutu, Blur and the Indigo Girls.

Today's post will cover last batch of c.d.'s that I bought from the library: one from a duo that I've heard, two from bands I've never heard of before and a movie soundtrack.

March 19, 2015

Success (Of One Kind Or Another)!

Lately, I've been measuring my writing successes in seriously small quantities of product. You know, the quality over quantity nonsense, aka I-rather-have-perfection-than-gibberish. This week, we managed to accomplish both: quality of writing was good and the quantity was surprisingly moderate. Plus, I managed to sneak a bonus for good measure.

1} Quality.

The quality of my writing was roughly 3/4 of what I like to call my high standards. I was quite happy with it because not only did it actually make sense, but it was germane to the plot at hand, and (this is really important for me) no weird swerve was inflicted on the story.

I have a nasty habit of experiencing S.I.S.S (Self Inflicted Story Swerve), which can be fatal to writers with less than five years of experience or less than three books published. This particular S.I.S.S. often works hand in hand with the other S.I.S.S. (Self-Inflicted Stupidity Syndrome).

Basically, for a refreshing change of pace, I managed to stick with the program, found a good rhythm, and churned out quality product. Three cheers, a tiger and a rim shot for me, I did good.

2} Quantity.

For three days (3/14-15, 17), I managed to churn out roughly 1200+ words, which equals about 5 pages of new product. What helped me churn out that amount was two things: didn't use the Dragon software and raised my butt an extra five inches from the chair (aka, added another pillow). The software is a bit of a crap shoot right now, and until I can work out the kinks (aka mental block), it will stay on the sidelines. As for the extra five inches, I'm a bit weird in that I like sitting in small chairs. Good for being closer to your work, but seriously bad for your posture and potential carpal tunnel. So I added an extra pillow and presto!, proper height for typing and not having my hands hurt (for those who are new readers, I suffer from this). So I is one happy camper with my keyboarding skills.

3} Bonus.

While I was running a few lunchtime errands this past Tuesday, I got to thinking about the 800lb gorilla that's preventing me from moving forward with this, aka needing-a-new-title-because-the-old-one-don't-work. So I let my mind wander around during breaks in driving (aka traffic lights), and during one of those driving breaks, I spied a sign in our town advertising a local eating event called "A Taste of Newington".

I thought about for a few seconds, then like the V8 commercial, it got knocked to the forefront of my brain: the perfect title for my novella. Not necessarily the actual phrase that you see in the last paragraph, but this:

A Taste of Pain

I think this title dovetails quite nicely with the major plot points of my novella: revenge, heartache and redemption.

It is my sincere hope that by solving this thorny problem, it will unclog the logjam that has been surrounding my writing for the past several months.

(c) 2015 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.

March 16, 2015

I'm A Gambling Fool!

The second part of the so-called sin tax triad that we'll talk about today is gambling.

We all gamble in some way, shape or form. Whether its between friends, a football pool (popular in my neck of the woods), lottery, casinos, bookies, etc., it doesn't matter what the event is, we will gamble on it. It's sort of in our genetics, kind of like a bad social gene. Most of the time, we have fun with it and don't thing about the consequences.

Note: I will not get preachy about gambling here, because I do play the lottery, numbers and Powerball. If you can control it, more power to you. If you can't, there are programs that can help you. There are also people who are more than willing to put you into permanent traction because you can't control it as well.

For politicians, gambling is the perpetual Free Money Friday. Why? Because on both sides of the political spectrum, politicians are incapable of fiscal restraint. Instead of actually doing something for the people that elected them (i.e. curb spending, reduce expenditures, increase revenue, help business create jobs, etc.), they want to either maintain the status quo or, sadly, increase the deficit spending.

And what better way to do that, than to have all kinds of state sanctioned gambling for people to blow their hard earned money on.

Today, I would like to offer the wonderful state of Connecticut on how the insidiousness of state sanctioned gambling has permanently affected our economic engines. And I'll bring a unique perspective to this issue, because I've seen it grow from the ground level as a retailer and as a customer.

March 12, 2015

G Talks About G


I had two phenomenal topics that I wanted to blog about this week, but I didn't know which one to do. On one hand, I wanted to write another post about another sin that we all partake in, simply because the first one I wrote about (smoking), got boffo page views and a double share on Google+. But on the other, I wanted to delve just a tad deeper about death, specifically on how we grieve. This particular topic stemmed from having to go to a wake/funeral for cousin a week ago (of which I've talked about the past two posts.

So I decided to flip a coin. Heads, I talk about another sin we partake in; tails, I talk about how we grieve. The losing topic will make its appearance next week.

And here we go....the winner is: tails!

The topic du jour today is: How We Grieve, Or Not Grieve

Last week I went to a favorite cousin's wake/funeral. I offered my condolences to her husband, her daughter, her sister and her husband, her brother and her mother. Then I said my private good-byes to her, said a little prayer and mingled with everyone else to share some happy memories and thoughts. As a rule, I do not do get-togethers, family or otherwise, very well. I have a tendency to be very uncomfortable in gatherings with more than four people, and more often than not, will not stay longer than a half hour, forty-five minutes top.

However, I chose to stay about an hour and a half. Why? Probably because it would be my one and only chance to express my genuine grief at my cousin's passing without people asking, "Are you alright?" I was very fond of my cousin and even though we weren't very close, I still enjoyed her company whenever she was able to visit and/or show up.

While I was genuinely sad at my cousin's passing (she was three years older than myself and shared the same b'day as my wife), I did not outwardly shed any tears for her. I wouldn't say I was overly upset over her passing, but it did grate on me for the rest of the week.

I wasn't completely ill-tempered at work the next day, but I had an extremely low tolerance for dealing with stupid that day, which has carried over into this week. The weekend brought more of the same low tolerance, but the one thing that I did do that weekend, was to avoid listening to any kind of music that would trigger a delayed reaction, so to speak. I actually enjoyed thinking about my cousin that weekend, and  I felt I wasn't quite ready to shed some tears.

However, I decided to watch a movie that I borrowed from the library the previous weekend. The movie in question? 2012. An incredible tearjerker to begin with (I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a really good story that is centered around the concept of "What if?"), this movie eventually triggered the delayed reaction that I was trying to avoid that week.

Ultimately, that is how I grieved for one of my favorite cousins: by watching a tearjerker movie.

One last example on another delayed reaction.

Cartoonist Charles M. Schulz passed away on February 20, 2000 from cancer. On May 27, 2000 (this still gives me goosebumps to this day) one hundred cartoon strips paid tribute/homage to him and Peanuts by incorporating them into their strips.

I cried like a baby when I read the paper that day.

So my friends, how do you grieve? Privately, publicly, a mixture, delayed?

(c) 2015 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.

March 9, 2015

Where The Writing Is At

A very happy Moanday to one and all today. I thought that for today, I would grace this blog with the presence of a writing update, because after all, a pretender, Great or otherwise, I am not. First, an update from Wednesday.

I went to my cousin's wake/funeral this past Thursday (3/5) down in the lower part of the state, which sadly I am becoming all too familiar with. I saw a lot of family members who I seem to meet only at this kinds of functions. Had a fun filled flashback when my other cousin dug out some family pics of the past 30 years, because I saw a pic of myself with hair and sideburns. I won't say a good time was had by all, but I did get a chance to say goodbye and to share some fond memories as well.

With that out of the way, we move on to what I've been long yapping about but painfully short of actually making progress on: my writing.

Update #1: The next book up for self-publishing.

I sent off my novella "A Shadow Warrior's Redemption" to a fellow writer on Facebook. And while she was exceptionally gung-ho about it afterwards, she also provided some very necessary feedback on the story as well. Fortunately for me, the feedback that she provided will not be ignored as it does clarify a couple of salient points that may confuse potential readers.

The one main problem that I'm having with my novella, and this seems to be the problem with all of my stories (and probably yours as well for those of you who are writers), is coming up with a good title. Back when I was querying this thing, another fellow writer at my former publisher suggest that a title change would make the story plot less obvious, as well as a MC name change. The latter was done, but the former still escapes me. For those of you who are so inclined, please click on link and give the synopsis a whirl, and see if you can come up with a alternative title. Please note that the link goes to my adult blog.

Update #2: Current writing project.

Beyond trying to make everything 1st/present tense, I've added just enough new writing to make it to the 2nd chapter. The main problem that I've finally figured out with this thing, is adding meat to the plot.

As I've previously mentioned, this originally a short story that first appeared on my now closed short story blog called Flashing Georgie's Shorts. What many of you don't know is that this story was one of roughly 5 dozen that I had written specifically for the blog, circa 2009. Most of the stories for that blog were mediocre-to-average, and specifically designed to practice my writing. Which meant a majority of them had very minimal-to-zero plot lines. A few did rise to the surface and with a lot of editing/rewriting, those three became the basis of my short story trilogy, Broken Promises.

The best I've been able to determine just exactly what the plot for the story is this: A young female hybrid cobra kidnaps a lumberjack from the forest in they work and live, for express purpose of renting him out as a stud so that she can pay an overdue bill. Her lover, a hybrid feline, becomes livid when she finds out what she's been doing behind her back. Subsequently, the lumberjack stud expires when he finally accomplishes what he was kidnapped for.

What I've been able to do so far with this story, is to construct two different linear courses of action in the sincere hope that it all come together in the end. One involves the two women and the other involves the lumberjack's friends. Beyond that, I'm a little undecided on just how far I should lean towards/on using the two major components of what I like to write. R is good, X and NC-17 is severely off-limits, and PG-13 is just too pedestrian.

And that my friends, is where the writing is at. But...there isn't a turntable or a microphone to be had. Or is there?

(c) 2015 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.

March 4, 2015

IWSG Post #7!

Normally, you would see a very witty opening paragraph for the monthly IWSG post, which would immediately be followed by whatever insecurity happens to be clouding my judgment these days.

However, we had a double whammy knock on our door so that they could set a spell and chew the fat.

Whammy #1: I actually have nothing new to complain/gripe/bloviate about today. Since everything is still the same from last month, there is nothing really for me to expound upon.

Beyond that, since there are a few rules to the monthly IWSG blogfest, I feel I must post something so that I don't fall into the penalty box (please note, I am not complaining in any way, shape or form about the rules. Rules are extremely necessary to ensure that a good time is had by all).

Which brings us to whammy #2: While I was composing this post, I received word that a favorite cousin of mine, who I've known since I was my daughter's age (that's three and a half decades), has moved on to a place where breathing is ridiculously easy and time has no meaning.

So, with that being said, let's not dwell on what God has unexpectedly thrown in our direction, because tomorrow we will be doing just that with the family. Instead, let's dwell on the bright side of life with Bert and Ernie.

(c) 2015 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.

March 2, 2015

I's Like (Most Kinds Of) Music

Hi-de-ho neighbors and neighborettes! I bring you all tidings of C#, Bb, G-clef and an assortment of whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes and everything else in between.

Like most people in their younger years, I was pretty much a two genre man when it came to music. Rock and BMJ Pop were my main genres of choice back then, and everything else basically sucked major testicles. It wasn't until I started working for the State of Connecticut and had co-workers in my own age bracket that I was initially dragged kicking and screaming towards other genres.

Once I got used to listening to very offbeat radio stations (mostly college radio) that my co-workers liked, I started really getting into the various genres and sub-genres that make up the wonderful world of music.

Last week, for example, I finally bought the c.d that contained this song:

Most people who know me, usually shake their collective heads over the fact that I would actually be listening to this kind of music (DJ club music), but to be honest with everyone, even though I bought the c.d. for that one song, the entire c.d. rocks from beginning to end.

In the past few years, I have greatly expanded my musical horizons, mostly from listening to the free version of satellite radio, aka college radio. Some of the genres that usually drive me batty because of the drivel that makes it to pop radio (mostly new R&B, rap and hip-hop) I've learned to appreciate because college radio has a tendency to dig way down deep into those genres and play stuff that a person in my age bracket won't be turned off by.

The other way that I've expanded my horizons is by buying used c.d.'s that my local library has for sale. They have a lot of used c.d.'s from people who donated or from their periodic purging of their music library, and most of them are priced $1 to $2. Not only have I found c.d.'s in genres that I normally wouldn't give the time of day to (country pop for example), but I've found c.d.'s from bands that I really like that contained songs that I really liked and would cost me a fortune on Amazon.

In regards to genres that I wouldn't give the time of day to, I picked up two c.d.'s the other day that my children have threatened to disown me over should I play them with earshot of them.

One is by this particular Celtic band:

And another is by this classical musician:

By the way, I've always had an affinity for classical music, partially from my exposure to Carl Stalling and Looney Tunes, and partially from my exposure from playing it when I was my daughters age.

So on this glorious snowy Monday, I pose this question to you: is there any music that you didn't like while growing up but as an adult it later grew on you?

(c) 2015 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.