My Be-Happy List

I have been feeling GREAT lately. No headaches and full of energy. Life is wonderful. But I know this is fragile. With work demands, writing pressures, headaches looming, life drama, my over dedication to my hobby, (passion, addiction, call it what you will), I fear a bummer day is just a breath away. It could be triggered by anything. So I figured, while I feel great, why not make myself a list of things I enjoy when I'm in this great mood, so I can run back and look at it when I need motivation? Hopefully, others will add to my list and we can all be stronger.

Here are the ways I hope to get over my bummer days:

Pay attention to others.
Nothing makes me feel better than helping someone else, but I keep it simple. I'm not out to be a hero, just help someone who is having a worse day than me. Sometimes, just helping a mother at the grocery store who is juggling too much makes me feel useful. Look around, we are all too busy, too tired... lending a hand is a small gesture that always makes me feel so good inside.

So winter gets too long around here. Which seems to get me down. But why should it? I can go skating, skidooing, read books, dig a hole in the snow and sit in it while listening to the silence. I can throw snowballs at my friends. You get the idea. Taking time to play is sooooo important in my busy life. It's how I recharge.

I stop editing to write. Editing is fun, but writing is healing.

Go someplace peaceful.
I always feel better after I go to church. It's peaceful. It makes me feel happy inside. I also feel better after a good bath. Nice smells, warmth... ah. Everyone needs comfort, and sometimes in these crazy days of juggling it all, it's how I find myself.

Surround myself with support.
Giving up is easy. Too easy. Why add to my list of things I have to do in a day? So why don't I give up writing to make time for something else? I married the right person. That's my simplest answer. I can say I'm stubborn, I'm determined, but in those moments of self-doubt it's my husband who lures me back to my desk with chocolate. No questions asked.

Reaffirm what makes me happy.
Best of all, I remind myself of all the things in my life that are so incredible. I remind myself that I am not supermom, super-employee or superwoman. No one demands greatness from me, except me, and then I'll go out and be great! Why not? lol

What gets you through your sad days? I'm sure we can add to this list.

A Peek Into Your Life- Stefan Jackson

 A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

I'm used to talking to Stefan Jackson in under 140 characters, weird I know, but we met on Twitter. We share that wonderfully daring publisher Elsewhen Press and somehow ran into each other. I think the first time I saw him he was choosing between reading Ghosts on the Prairies, New Mythos Legends, and Conan. Tough choice.

On Amazon
So a little bit about this sci-fi. It takes place in the future after some type of nuclear explosion changed a section of the shore to glass. I can't share more than that without giving away a plot twist. The world is very different yet kinda the same.

Welcome to a future where things like drugs, violence, and sex are a little more in your face... or maybe that’s just how Apollo sees the world. It feels like a happy world where everyone has a home, food, and plenty of time for... fun.

Of course, something big is going on and the action kept me turning pages. Apollo tells it like it is, in the moment. He is naughty, fearless, sexy, honest, and well... I won't give away all his secrets.

Jackson is creative in how he tells this tale and it results in a mind-blowing revelation. The twists kept drawing me, taking me by surprise. I enjoyed the thrilling storyline but the characters and themes that emerged still haunt me. Very enjoyable, satisfying read.

There are some other very different characters, and I say different because I have never met another like Nikki or Geek. At one point I was terrified of Geek. This guy is super nice and super smart, not to mention a little nerdy-hot. Anyone this perfect freaks me out! Plus, he seems to control the freaking world. Scary thought. But again, I won't give away his secrets because they layer into the book making it hard to put down.

To view Stefan's Facebook Page.
Where did you get the idea for Glass Shore?
The short story from William Harrison, Roller Ball Murder (1975).

Roller Ball Murder illustrated that entertainment is business and commerce transcends government. Also the September 11th Event and subsequent conspiracies and administrative programs by the United States.
There are many cool themes in this book that touched me and got me thinking. The one theme; that no one holds ultimate power over anyone or anything emerged slowly as Apollo grew. Was this theme intentional or do you find themes emerge naturally in your writing? Yes, power is an intentional theme in Glass Shore. It’s the base. The constant. The river to the sea; and that sea touches every beach. The meaning of power is on our terms. The individual determines who receives the gift. We bestow and remove power. (And you danced with this theme in your brilliant novel, Ghosts of the Prairie.) We are all Power. Some realize this via beauty, physical talent, intelligence, or violence. Unfortunately most reject it. Willingly pass it on to others. In Glass Shore, many fight for power, and one character took it by removing hostility. (Thank you Sun Tzu for the Art of War.)

My favourite character was by far Apollo. His raw way at seeing the world had me hooked. Who was your favourite character to write and why? Nikki. She’s a libertine on a mission. She pushed the story. Everyone was an opponent to her and consequently I learned about my other characters. Yet the story is presented as Apollo’s tale. He loves her and he tells us why. Again, it’s all about Nikki.

What song reminds you of this story? Led Zeppelin – The Rain Song.

What do you find inspiring to listen to while you write? I listen to jazz and film/broadway soundtracks. Two works that I played over and over: soundtrack from the film, Pi (1998) and Music from the Soundtrack "New York": A Documentary Film (1999).

What are you currently working on? An anthology titled: Tiny Towels for Fat People. Disjointed storytelling, graphic display. I want to work with artists, but I have created this piece and placed it on YouTube

Title: When I See Your Face. I created this forty-secondvignette in iMovie. Utilizing original art from my wife’s mixed media collection.

Music: My Death Will Be Spectacular. I began with a Casio CTK-720 then tinkered with the song in GarageBand. And yes, I have a cameo in the piece. I’m the man with the odd head. I like this production. I may work other stories from Tiny Towels like this. The stories in this anthology are not of normal structure. I want the reader to complete the event and fill in the backstory. The tale should read differently to all, depending on your life experiences. I have a completed script for a dark fantasy story called Recoil. And closing in on a rough draft for another speculative fiction novel with the working title, Absolute Chaos.

Wow! That's creative stuff.

What advice would you give writers looking for a crit partner or beta reader? For me, the best critiques are from groups, forums and such. Unknowns. 

What is the most interesting fact you discovered while researching for an idea? I wanted to create a new weapon for the story and decided on using a chemical. I came across a pesticide called diflubenzuronAfter reading the study, the backstory flowed like water and my weapon – Debbie – was as easy as rain.
Where do you do your best writing? Home, at my desk. I’m a morning person. I like to write as the sun is rising.

How much time do you spend writing in an average week? Not enough!

What book would you recommend as "this is a book every writer should read”?  I have two:

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck.

The Jungle – Upton Sinclair.

Do you have any novels you shelved? Tell us about them. A horror novel about a man (John) that kills others based on their evil aura. A sight only he possesses. The story really goes south when John encounters Eric. Eric kills based on smell, and John smells evil to Erik. Yet, Erik does not look evil to John. I lot of blood and out of control characters. I’m just not feeling it. So it’s in the unfinished pool.

Do you over-write or under-write? Over-write. Over-write. Over-write. Over-write.

What one thing did you learn that you wish to pass on to other parents?  Be active with your family. Play, read, talk, eat, watch TV, listen to music, play games (video, board games) – be active with your family. My daughter wanted to play basketball, and so I’m an assistant coach for her team. My wife teaches my daughter how to sew and other crafts. We travel all around New York (city and state). We go to movies, plays and concerts. Not only do I have fun with my family, these experiences enhance and define my writing. My art.

Where is your favourite place to read?  My kitchen in the morning.  

What is the best thing about where you live? The ethnic diversity of Queens, New YorkThe borough’s 2.2 million residents as 50 percent white, 24 percent Asian, 21 percent black and 3 percent mixed race. Of the 71 percent who identify their race as white or black, 28 percent picked Hispanic as their ethnicity. Today, almost half of Queens residents are foreign-born and 56 percent speak a language other than English at home.

My wife is Greek. My daughter speaks, writes and reads the Greek language. How’s my Greek? Well, I can order water and ask for directions to the bathroom. :)

Based on your experience or research, what is a great place or time to travel to or visit? Why? I’ve had the opportunity to travel to my wife’s home on the island of Chios, Greece, in the fall. It was amazing ten days. Then we spent a weekend in Athens before heading back to the States. So Greece in the fall, that’s my suggestion.

What do you do for a living? Logistics coordinator. Book publishing.

Thanks for the peek, Stefan! You have some very interesting things in the works! While he's here, under my power, do you have any questions for Stefan Jackson? 

National Family Literacy Day

This year for National Family Day I thought I'd share a few Saskatchewan authors.

One of our favourite series is the Tunnels of Time. There is a magic about them tunnels that sucks us in!

The very shocking ending and the thrilling writing of Cambrian will haunt ya. 

Who Has Seen The Wind was filmed in a town not far from where I live. 

I enjoyed the very interesting tale of Dust. Love it when magic happens on the prairies.

Margaret Atwood isn't from Saskatchewan, but she is Canadian. So I'll squeeze her in the list, because I can.

Books by Saskatchewan authors

And some French ones. ;) 

Have you enjoyed any books lately by authors from your area?

A Peek Into Your Life, Dave Weaver

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

I am excited to have Dave Weaver in my reality!!! I came across his books because we share a great publisher: Elsewhen Press. And well, his bio had me curious because he claims to write about strange and weirdness, and... well... it's always nice to meet another strange and weirdness writer.

I kept seeing the title page for Jacey's Kingdom and it had me curious. 

In a summary, it is about Jacey and George. They aren't a couple, but there is some type of magical connection between them. Jacey collapses with a brain tumour during a history exam, bringing her exam to life in her mind while she struggles to survive surgery. George is somehow brought into her dreams through a very cool and exciting twist.

I love this type of story and this did not disappoint. It's about dreams and magic interconnecting through history and the real world. Everything flowed naturally taking me from the dream world Jacey uses to survive the coma to the real one... until I wasn't sure which was which anymore! Seeing the modern-world heroes dumped in a magical historical past with kings and knights was amusing, and little bits kept me laughing, especially George and the musician on tour. What I especially enjoyed was how George got a second chance to grow up, just like Jacey. It was a fun read with magical messages interwoven in it and I recommend it for anyone who likes to escape into history every now and again.

Dave has many other books and a great blog CLICK HERE. I can't wait to tackle these reads, too!

But enough about me. Let's meet Dave.

Tell us a bit about Jacey's Kingdom, where the idea came from and what readers should expect.
I'm a big fan of the whimsical films of the early forties, both British and American, which take characters out of their normal situation, usually due to some catastrophic accident or turn of fate ('A Matter of Life and Death', 'A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur', even 'The Wizard of Oz') and place them in a fantasy world inside their own heads. In this threatening yet enlightening environment they are forced to confront a number of symbolic challenges to survive or perish in the 'real' world, which change their perception of their own lives and relationships. 

My first novel 'Jacey's Kingdom' is about a brilliant eighteen year old girl student who collapses with a brain tumour at her final history exam and finds herself in such a world; only this time in early Saxon England, the very subject of her exam. She meets a stranger; a middle-aged man who can't remember his own name after a disastrous accident, and they grudgingly set off to find a way out of 'the dream', helped and threatened by the warring Romano British and Saxon tribes who treat Jacey as an exotic sorceress (she is half-Nigerian) they have apparently been expecting to help them on a dangerous quest for power. 

These stories all play on both modern protagonists' foreknowledge of historical settings and their adapting to the all too real physical dangers they find themselves in. My story also has a time-travelling spin which puts several twists on their personal situation. It also makes it quite funny.

Do you find a message emerges in your writing naturally?
I don't really have a 'message' but the theme I try to pursue is the slippery nature of so-called reality; how we perceive the world in different stress situations, how things we seem sure of are never quite what they seem on the surface. I think karma comes into play in most of my short stories as well, so perhaps the message is 'don't be so sure you know what's going on - you probably don't'. That's as much for the reader as the characters.

Who was your favourite character to write?
Simon from my latest Elsewhen Press book 'The Black Hole Bar'. 

This is a collection of science fictions stories told by a disparate group of writers in a darkly lit and grungy bar high up on level five of Docklands Spaceport near the dirty-bombed ruins of old London. 

The year is 2085 and Simon is an in-house hack for Me-Grade methane mining corp, about to catch a shuttle rocket to Titan for six months to write a dull company report. He's a good guy but in a bad way personally, his wife is probably having an affair with her electro real-tennis coach and his son has become a stranger to him. As an alternative to getting insensible he barges his way into a closed writer's night in said bar and persuades them to let him join their competition. 

Each of the motley band read two short stories then all judge a winner for The Rock (a piece of meteorite) but outside events and crises from the world of 2085 keep making their presence felt between the critiques, arguments and sexual sparring inside the bar. 

There's a touch of the hard-boiled world weariness about Simon but underneath he's looking for love and redemption; a lot to find in one night, but not impossible.

What are you currently working on?
The novel I've just finished but not yet had published is called 'The Unseen'. It is about a recovering alcoholic, John Mason, who believes he has special 'second sight' others don't. We join him as he is about to buy a picturesque old cottage in Epping Forest. It's a year since John's wife Judith died in a car accident whilst the couple were on holiday, caused inadvertently by John reacting to a woman standing in the middle of a quiet country road, a vision he tells us only he could see. 

Recently, dreams of the cottage have replaced his nightmares of the crash, to the extent that John feels Judith is communicating with him, pointing him to the place where he can find her spirit once again. But a new, darker dream introduces him to a girl from the early twenties named Evangeline who seems to be haunting the place. With his step-daughter coming from university to stay the summer and other bizarre incidents and visions escalating beyond his control John involves the local village vicar in an attempt to understand and defeat the historic forces at work. The man seems to know far more than he should about the girl's past though. 

There is a twisted eroticism and genuine evil at play around John's new home. In attempting to lay the past he could be in danger of losing the present, not to mention his own mind. The story has a touch of the Hammer Horror but is more of a psychological mystery.

I have goosebumps! Sounds thrilling.

Tell us a bit about how you write and where.
I do my best writing on my laptop at a desk in the bedroom and almost always there although occasionally I do a little after-hours at work. I need quiet, door shut, then just try to get a few lines down to start with; sometimes not much more but usually that can spread to a couple of hours. 

I'm not aware of time passing when I write. I don't do it to a regular pattern, just when I've a few spare hours or late at night; often when I want something to read at my local Writers' group the next night or so. 

Once I'm really into the story I can do quite a bit over a few weeks but it's very ponderous at the start. I don't plan out the story in writing but I have a map of the general way things will go in my head before I start with a few vivid plotline scenes including the end (although that will probably change if something better occurs to me). I'm a pretty sloppy planner generally because either: a) I like to keep it fresh and flexible or b), I'm a bit lazy that way. I'd like to think 'a)' but I'll never be the type of guy who sticks thirty-nine chapter post-it notes around the wall before I begin Chapter One.

I think I underwrite, I don't edit that much and not as I go along unless it's daft or ungrammatical. 

What books would you recommend for other writers?
I recommend Steven King's 'On Writing'; a snappy yet detailed manual on the art of writing a book from concept to application and editing. It also sets down in excruciating detail the events of the traffic accident that almost killed him and slow painful recovery to start writing again. 

To learn how to write with wickedly cruel humour, perfect timing, pathos and humanity, the funniest book I've ever read is 'Billy Liar on the Moon' by Keith Waterhouse. It's simply an over-looked comic masterpiece.

I enjoyed On Writing! I walked around reading quotes from it for months! lol

Give us a peek at what it feels like to be a writer.
I'm proud of my family and the fact that I've managed to have some books actually published, even though I only started writing about thirteen years ago. I love being a writer, it tops anything else I've achieved (not tricky) and although the process can be a bit of a grind, even though sometimes inspired, the end result is one of the most satisfying feelings you can achieve; to take something from inside your own head and fashion it into a real living world full of people you magically conjured into existence. Its not a small thing. 

It is not a small thing, congratulations! And keep 'em coming.

What is the most inspiring place you've been and how did you incorporate it into your writing?
Going to Japan and seeing the landscape and people (my wife is Japanese) inspired me to write my second novel, 'Japanese Daisy Chain', an interconnected collection of dramatic short stories based on the social constructs and cultural habits of modern Japanese society. 

It's a wonderfully rich setting for drama and just-beneath-the-surface strangeness quite unlike anywhere else I've been and like most visitors I felt ever so slightly changed by the experience. 

Thanks for the peek, Dave! It was just a peek, but I learnt so much about you and your fascinating stories!

What would you like to ask Dave? Now's your chance while I have him in my reality.

Oh, and check out this awesome trailer!!!!