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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Independent author and amateur beefcake

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Malware and Wrimo

Well, boy and ghouls, seems as though my computer has a virus.  Or I should say multiple viruses.  One's that like to hide from AVG and Norton.  Clever ones that change the way they look and replicate, when an attempt is made to ride my hard drive of them.  My computer is slow and I can't search for anything online, my web browsers, Chrome and Firefox and IE, all get redirected to another page.  I've done some research into the matter and repeatedly, online, having to use my iPhone to surf the web, due to the previously mentioned matter, I'm reading that a new hard drive is in order, as the virus is quite the persistent little bugger.

Sadly I can't even use my computer to just write, as the whole system is slower, to the point that the mouse stops moving every few seconds and then nothing responds for another few seconds and then it all starts over again.

I kept my old lap top, not really knowing what to do with it, when I had bought a new one, a year ago, so I'll try to use that one, but it's pretty unreliable, as well, mostly from old age, more than anything.

This certainly makes a case to go mac, I have to say, as I didn't download anything to get this virus.  I'm smart enough to not click on suspicious links and clever enough to not enter credit card numbers when they're not required.

I've spent the better part of the past three or four days trying to get my computer working again and I'm pretty much at my whits end.  There's only so many times you can go into your task manager, delete something, reboot the system, only to have everything start all over, because the virus keeps relocating itself onto the hard drive somewhere else.

What this means for the novel writing, for now?  I'm not sure.  I guess it's on hold for the time being, until I can get either the virus off this computer or my old computer working at a normal clip, without shutting down, for no apparent reason.I guess

I'll begin a savings account for a macbook and wait it out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kobo and Google

Two big bits of info for us Canadian readers...

1 - The Google bookstore is finally available in Canada

2- Kobo was bought out by a Japanese company

How these two things relate, I'm not sure yet.  My initial response to the Kobo news was, okay, I wanted to buy a Kindle anyway.  One of the reasons I bought a Kobo, all three versions have passed through my hands, actually, was the fact that they were a Canadian company.  Now, that's a mute point.

I have, kind of, a 100-Mile diet attitude about things, I want them made locally, or somewhat locally, if possible.  Now that Kobo is owned by a Japanese company I'm leaning more toward owning something, at least, North American.  The trouble is....Amazon is only selling one of their three Kindle versions, north of the border, and that one happens to be the non-touch, lowest level, Kindle.  Why, O-Why, does Canada always get the short end of the digital stick, when it comes to these things?

For instance, the rest of North America has been enjoying Google Books for a while now, almost a year, I think.  Today, that year later, it finally went live in Canada.  Which, I guess, is good timing, because if I can't get a Kindle in Canada then I can at least buy books from Google, instead of Japan.

Who knew conglomeration could be so confusing...eh?

Most of the people I've talked to have congratulated Kobo on the sale, saying it's a Canadian company that did good.  Sure they did well, in a short period of time they went from a start up to, today, being sold for 315 million.  They also lost 40 million in the last quarter, meaning in one quarter they lost 1/7-ish of their total worth.

Is this the future of e-reading?  Makes me want to run back to books, those things made out of paper and sit on shelves.  Books don't get bought out by foreign companies, change formats or only work on one companies device.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Hump

When you start a novel, you think you've got it in the bag.  You've got the beginning the middle and the end, the three most important parts of a story, or so I hear.  But then something happens in there somewhere.  Doubt creeps in.  Not right away but a few thousands words in.  You think to yourself, how can I do this?  I've got so far to go yet.  Like running a marathon or swimming across a great distance, it all comes down to just taking that next step, writing that next word or pulling that next stroke.

I'm at that point in my novel where I think....this'll never work.  I like what I've written, think it's even publishing worthy, but, all the same, doubt is creeping in.  Not about the quality or plot of the novel, so much, as the getting to the end part of noveling.

I often wonder if other authors feel this, somehow I doubt people like, the much referenced, Stephen King think, don't know if I can write two thousand words today, when his novels usually clock it at over a thousand pages a piece.

I know he gets there the same way we all do, bit by bit.

Here's a bit of what I'm biting off.

Arnold, one of the owners of the guest house, is explaining to Aidan, the detective, their first run in with something, abnormal.

“We went to bed. The alcohol had dulled our nerves and suddenly things didn’t seem too bad. Sleep came easy and before we knew it we were sawing logs. I’m not sure what time it was, we’ve tried to guestimate, but I would say two-ish? A door slammed. Now, I know you haven’t seen the whole place, yet, but there’s a lot of doors here. We both woke up, it was loud, so we could guess that it was, at least, in the blue wing of the house, closer to us. We sat there for a bit, waiting for something, wondering if we had just heard things or if it was real. That stage between awake and asleep can make you think you’ve heard or have seen something strange. Finally, we just kind of looked at each other, and realized that neither of us had been breathing, in our attempt at maximizing what we could hear. Then we both laughed at that. That’s when another door slammed. This time it seemed closer. Now, I remember thinking. ‘I don’t leave doors open.’ We’re a bed and breakfast, a hotel, basically, opened doors aren’t really a customary thing. As I’m thinking this, our door opens, on it’s own.” There was the quick recognition of Aidan’s upturned eyebrow and then Arnold went back to the story. “I can’t even begin to describe how terrified we were at that moment. The worst, for me, I think, was the waiting, knowing that the door would soon slam shut, like the others we had heard. The thing is, it never did. Instead, the room went icy cold. We could see our breath, it was so cold. And from our vantage, we were flush with the door, we could see puffs of breath, coming from the hallway, as well.” Arnold rolled his eyes back in his head and gave a slight shudder, the tension of telling the tale taking it’s toll. “It was there, something was there, but it wasn’t there, all the same.”

Now I'm off to bite a bit more off....wish me luck :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Pep Talk #1

One of the best things about NaNoWriMo is that you get pep talks, delivered to your email, by some pretty heavyweight authors.  In that past some of those authors included, Jasper Fforde, Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, Kelley Armstrong, Dave Eggars and Sue Grafton.  This weeks pep talk came via Erin Morgenstern, author of "The Night Circus."  A book I've read, but not reviewed here yet.  She began the book while doing NaNoWriMo, as you'll here in the pep talk, I'll post here.  I'm putting it on here so it's easily accessible for me but also so it's easily accessible for you.  I found it quite inspiring and worthy of a read, if you're an artistic person, of any variety, we call go through the same shoots and ladders.  The creative spark, the doubt, the inspiration, the realization that what you created isn't on par with the idea you originally had and the hard work to whittle away at all the excess.  We all have the same issues....so enjoy.  :)

Dear brave, beautiful NaNoWriMo writer,
I feel a bit like I am writing this from the other side of the looking glass. I am more accustomed to being the participant and not the pep talker. Also, “pep” is a strange word. The Online Etymology Dictionary informs me that it dates from 1912 as a shortened form of “pepper” figuratively meaning spirit or energy. (“Pep talk” only dates back to 1926.) It sounds to me more like a soft drink or a nickname for a small dog. Feel free to think of this pep talk as a small dog full of spirit or energy.
I have been where you are. I suspect this might feel like someone yelling encouragement from a far dry shore, sipping a fancy-glassed drink with a little paper umbrella precariously perched atop it, waving with my free hand while you swim through icy, toe-numbing water. But I have been in that water, many times. My toes have been numb during those dismal days when even minimal wordage seems unattainable and that 50K beach is barely visible through the salt-spray surf. There are probably sharks involved in this analogy as well.
(True confession: I love analogies. I also love adverbs. There, I said it. I love adverbs so much I sometimes contemplate getting an –lytattooed behind my ear to encourage the whispering of sweet, sweet adverbs. But I digress.)
I participated in my first NaNoWriMo in 2003, after years of thinking about writing and not actually putting words down on paper. I managed around 15K before I quit.
I’m not sure why—perhaps I am determined, perhaps I am simply stubborn—but I attempted again the next year and made it to 50k. And again the year after that, and the year after that, and so on and so forth, the most recent being 2009. I have a 6/1 winning record over 7 years. I think my personal best is in the range of 80k in 27 days or something like that. The pride that comes with that winner icon is still a joy. (I particularly liked the Viking-themed year, those were good icons.) And I do so love a progress bar, that gorgeous visual representation of word count progress. I’m a visual person, so that bar helps, it really does.
2010 marked the first NaNoWriMo that I haven’t participated since that first try, and I didn’t have the time mostly because I was in the midst of my final edits for The Night Circus, which began life as a surprise tangent in NaNovel ’05 and was very roughly, sprawlingly drafted during NaNo ’06 & ’07. I am aware that this is cheating. I’m sorry. In my defense, I’m not certain it had enough plot at that point to be considered the same novel.
The circus was my variation on the wise and ancient NaNo wisdom: when in doubt, just add ninjas. I had this plodding, Edward Gorey-esque thing with mysterious figures in fur coats being mysterious and doing very little else. I got tremendously bored with it because nothing was happening so I sent the otherwise boring characters to a circus. And it worked. I ended up tossing that beginning and focusing purely on the circus. An imaginary location I created out of desperation expanded and changed and became its own story over many non-November months of revisions and more revisions and now it is all grown-up and book-shaped and published and bestselling. And it all started with NaNoWriMo.
I like to think of NaNo-ing as excavating. You uncover different things at the 30K mark than you do at 10K. Things that felt like desperate, random nonsense on page 72 (the abandoned broken pocket watch, a partially obscured tattoo, that taxidermied marmot on the mantelpiece) are suddenly important and meaningful on page 187. Everything could hinge on the fate of that marmot. Or the marmot may be a red herring. Or perhaps the marmot is just a marmot. You have to keep writing to find out.
Even if you’re an outliner, leave room for the unexpected things to sneak in. Surprises are half the fun, the spontaneous road trips through tangents and subplots. They might end up being more important than you think. And if they’re not, you can always edit them out after November. No one has to know so for now, for this glorious November, you can do whatever you please. It’s your world to create and explore and even destroy if you want.
I wish I could think of cool, witty things to say. I want to mix you each the beverages of your choice, cocktails or sodas or tea or foam-topped espresso drinks that all magically maintain perfect drinking temperature. Bring you truffles or tira misu or chocolate-covered popcorn and give you wrist massages while whispering these encouraging, fortune-cookie bits of wisdom-esque whatnot garnered in my years of NaNo-ing:
Never delete anything. If you can’t stand to look at it, change the font to white and keep going.
If possible, get a running start. It gives you flexibility for later in the month when you desperately need to do something, anything that doesn’t involve writing once in a while.
Do something, anything that doesn’t involve writing once in a while. Take a walk, go to a museum, do yoga, paint your toenails, spin around in circles. Shake your brain up so the ideas can move around.
Backup. Frequently. Flash drives are your friends. Also, I hear you can store things on clouds now but I’m not sure how that works. It sounds very whimsical, though, and I am a fan of whimsy.
Take risks. (Microsoft Word wanted to autocorrect that to “Take care.” Clearly, Word does not understand NaNoWriMo. Also, this is why I normally write in Scrivener. Scrivener would never suggest such a thing.)
When in doubt, just add ninjas. (Ninjas do not need to be actual ninjas.) (But they can be.)
Let yourself be surprised.
I wish you happy, daring writing laced with surprises. Have fun. Bonne chance.
Erin Morgenstern

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Twisted Ghosts

I'm busy writing my ghost story of a novel "Grey House" and realize that I only have a beginning and a middle.  Granted these are two major stepping stones in order to find my way to the end but do you need an end to have the first two?  Confusing, I know.  Let me explain.  It's common ,and by common I mean a couple people in a room somewhere once posted it on the internet and now it's gone viral,  knowledge that for a mystery novel that you should have an end game in sight.  That it's a good idea to know the ending so you can leave clues along the way.  A ghost story is like a mystery novel, in that it requires clues or hints along the way.

I wonder if movies like "The Sixth Sense" or "The Others" have changed the game of ghost stories.  Is that big dramatic twist at the end necessary for the ride to be worth it?

In every story there's 'ah ha' moments, that's a given.  I still have a story to tell, I just don't have the great revelation at the end to tie it all together in a nice movie sort of way.  Granted there's still a lot of writing between now and when I'm at the end so anything's possible.  I'm only 7,000 words into what I hope turns out to be 60,000, or so.

What say you, my faithful readers...ur...reader, is a twist the new normal for ghost stories?

PS - thought of this, thought it was funny (it's late, my time, 12:30, ya'll, give me a break)  "You got your twist in my ghost story."  "No way, you got your ghost story in my twist!"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Anne Vs. Stephenie

A feud broke out this week.  Perhaps you didn't hear about it, what with Cain Vs. Perry going on.  Unfortunately this feud has the potential to change the world in which we live in such huge, drastic, proportions.  It all comes down to who's vampires rock more.

I'm not even going to voice an opinion here and you shouldn't have to ask what my answer would be.  Do I want sparkling vampires or vampires that will turn their own mothers or children into blood suckers?

For me, watching this has been quite fun.  Seeing authors wage mini wars on each other is very entertaining.  But, in all honesty, Stephenie Meyer is taking a lot of flack, these days.

Here's what Stephen King has to say....here (hint, it's not positive)

Here's Anne's view....here (obviously, not good)

I read the first book, in the Twilight series, on word of mouth, from friends, long before the movies came out or the Twilight phenom reached fever pitch.  I believe that what Stephen King says is true, "She can't write worth a darn." but it's her ideas that keep the people coming back.  Say what you will but she's tapped into something that has some resonance. I don't get it, most of my friends don't get it, but certainly the people forking over their money for the books and movies 'do' get it.

I just almost wish she would have called them something else, other than Vampires.  Sure they drink blood and have everlasting life but that's pretty much where the similarities end.  While even Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, chose to learn and expand his horizons, as each day repeated.  These 'Vampires' in Twilight choose to stay in high school.  Huuuuuwhaaaaat?  All of eternity poised before you and you want to learn how to skip gym class for the fiftieth year in a row?

Of course, the thing is, without this idea, hundred year old Vampires in school, how would they ever meet our sixteen year old, and get her preggo with a vampire baby, before finally corrupting her further and, eventually, making her sparkle, as well.

Ultimately popular authors have always taken the hit for being popular.

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

The decision has been made to go with "Grey House" as my NaNoWriMo novel of choice, this year.

It's a little daunting since I've only, really, got the first few chapters fleshed out, in my head.  They, and I'm not sure who 'They' is, say that you're supposed to have an end game planned from the beginning, in books of this type, ghost story/mystery novels.  I have a beginning but no end.  I'm hoping an end presents itself at some point during the process.

I do know that I have a main character who I'm hoping to return to in subsequent books.  A "Bear" of a guy, big and imposing but a baby on the inside, named Aidan Whitlock.  I can see him in my head, as if I've met him, tall, at six foot six, and somewhat heavy weight, probably around 250 or so, mostly muscle but a lining of chubbiness, as well, and dark brown, almost black, head of hair that swings down into a thick beard.  As imposing, physically, as he seems he, actually, has no talent for fighting, having never had to let things get that far, and outside of lifting weights, he's not athletic, at all, either.  He's in his mid fifties and he's at a point in his life when life is of constant contemplation.  He owns a comic book shop and sublets his night time activities by lending himself out as a private investigator.  Mostly his cases contain cheating spouses and/or missing items but things are about to get a little X-Files on him.

The fun part of NaNoWriMo approaching are all the posts about how to write or how to survive November.  A couple good ones are here and here.

The thing, about writing, is, everyone has their own theory on how to do it.  If you look at most of the iconic novelists, however, you would notice that they all seemed to make the rules up, as they went along.  From Jack Kerouac to Ernest Hemingway, they all developed their own style and, even, their own punctuation.  It comes down to readability, for me, does it make sense, does the dialog sound realistic, is there a plot, all of those things.

Anyway, these are a few of my pre-NaNoWriMo thoughts, tomorrow's the big day, 1667 words a day, to keep up the 50,000 word goal.

More tomorrow.....good luck all you participants, this year. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pre-Novel Thoughts

Just a couple days before NaNoWriMo begins...and the pre-novel thoughts are bubbling.


1- End of world Zombie novel feature two gay main characters, with a newborn they've adopted, trying to eek out life in a world where the zombies are the least of their concern.  Down the street the United Church of Christ has militarized their chapel and is out to recreate the world as they think it should be.  Fencing off the city, block by block, they clear and utilize the area to make their new community. (early stages of thoughts on that one, things always change once the actual writing starts.)

2- Another gay novel, my theme this year, it would seem, follows a young man, late twenties, who travels home when his father is diagnosed with terminal cancer and put on a hospice program.  He has to confront the world that he left behind, the world he ran from when he came out, relationships he left broken because he never thought he would be back.  Also, he finds, he has to confront the world he created, inside himself, after he left, when he finds love for the first time, in the nurse providing hospice to his father.

3- Mick and Ed just bought a house in Cabbage Town, the largest gay suburb in North America, or so the real estate agent has told them, and plan to turn it into a gay bed and breakfast.  When a friend, from New York, comes to stay and goes missing, while never having left their house, leaving a pool of blood in front of his bedroom closet, the little bumps in the night they had been hearing suddenly become bigger.

Those are all early ideas still.  We will see where creativity leads.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Slumming It...The Last Werewolf

This post is more about a current trend in fiction than an actual book review...but, since it's also a book review, I'll treat it accordingly.

The Last Werewolf - by Glen Duncan

Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you—and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely.

Jake’s depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide—even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive.

Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend—mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century—a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human.

One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.


Audacious?  Terrifying?  No, not really.  Can't say as I was holding on to my chair much during the reading of this and that's not a complaint against the book it's a complaint against the publisher trying to sell the book.

I feel bad for publishers right now.  See, they have these literary heavy weights releasing books about Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies (oh, my).  What are they supposed to do about this?  The writers aren't tackling them as a normal horror writer would.  They're not getting their hands too dirty but just dirty enough to lend it a horror classification.  So the publishers are trying to sell books and, of course, they're doing it the only way they know how...appealing to that horror demographic, knowing full well that there's a section of 'literary' readers that aren't going to be following these authors into the trenches.

Not to send you away so early in my blog post but here's an excellent article about what I'm saying.

The strange thing about this situation is that, previously, horror writers have crossed that border on more than a few occasions without much ado.  Stephen King and a few of his stories come to mind, Shawshank Redemption, Stand by Me, The Green Mile.  So, I'm not sure I'm happy about how these authors, delving into Horror for the first time, are getting such accolades for their courage and kudo's for breaking down the typecast author.  I can't but feel as if they are selling out, somehow.  Literary fiction, not being the type of book one grabs just before a long flight or hospital stay, has always been the frame but not the engine of the publishers car.  After seeing Twilight and Harry Potter at the top of the best seller list, for the better part of a decade, I'm thinking, they see that money can be made from writing.  After all, in seven years J.K. Rowling went from unemployment to billionaire.  (or so the story goes)

The one thing I can be happy about is that it certainly puts the pressure on horror writers to focus more on the writing and less on the imagery.  There's a few, out there, I could name but won't, that have some fun books to read but without the idea's, pushing the novel forward, I would have given up on, long ago.

Back to the novel, at hand.  The Last Werewolf...

Beautifully written and fleshed out.  The attention to detail and world building, I thought, was meticulous.  

Currently I'm reading Zone One, a zombie tale, written by a previous lit fic heavy weight (shouldn't say previous, I'm sure he'll keep that standing) that tries too hard to keep the lit the center of attention and not the horror.  Werewolf knows where it stands.  Duncan knows that he's writing a horror novel and so makes sure to keep the story moving with action.  Where as, in Zone One, pages go with nothing but memories being described.  It's akin to listening to your grandmother tell you about what's going on in her 'Stories.'  I'll dive into Zone One, on here, when I'm done reading it.  It just makes for a good comparison, right now.

You get your Werewolves and you get your evil people, as well, which most often are the actual horror element of a horror novel, after all what's scarier than a deranged psychotic human?  Exactly.

My qualm with this book, and it's a small one, is that it starts strong, the first third is right into the story and setting up the finale.  Then, a character is introduced and it goes into sexapaloozaland (an actual word, look it up) before getting back on track and hitting the gas again, for the final third.  It's during this middle part that you can see that Duncan had an issue with just allowing the book to remain in horrorland (which, oddly enough, shares a border with sexapaloozaland).  For this middle third he throws in all the esoteric thoughts and flourishes of ideas and words that most lit/fic fans will appreciate.  For me, and I do like lit/fic, don't get me wrong, it almost made me put the book down.  It's just that, when I want a werewolf to ravage a maiden, or a brawny dude for that matter, I want it to happen, not think of happening or think of how it might happen if the world were a different place or...you get the picture.

Still, I have to recommend this book, the writing, as I said, is excellent and, in the end, Duncan pulls it off.

I guess, also in the end, if the authors are going to meet us halfway, to horrorland, then we, the reader, might want to do our part and head towards litville. (a small country known for stamps in Europe)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Return To Blog

Nanowrimo time is fast approaching, my peeps, if I may call you peeps.  This is good news and bad news.  Good news = Nanowrimo always motivates me to sit my ass down and write.  Bad news = My computer, the new laptop, not this old one I'm using now, is dead. (they say an old laptop should never have to bury it's youthful - faster processor, battery that holds a charge, power cord that doesn't spark when looked at strangely, wireless router that works - self.)

The thing about Nanowrimo is, if you don't know, that you write a novel in a month.  I've done this the past five years.

1 - Anniversary - A Zombie Tale
2 - Flotsam and Jetsam - A coming of age tale (just your regular old fiction)
3 - Wolves - Werewolves (not too original of a title but in all honesty I lost most of this novel when I upgraded         my computer to windows 7
4 - Bear Lake - A slasher murder mystery set at a lake house
5 - Golem - a vengeful mystical being on the lose killing a group of friends one by one.

Now I'm about to dive in and do it again.  As usual, a custom, tradition, if you will, I have no idea of what I'm wanting to write.  Not for lack of ideas, I've got the beginnings of about ten novels stuck in my head currently.  But the idea, notion, of Nanowrimo is to get your creative juices flowing, strike out into new, unknown, territory.  By writing something unplanned, unplotted, you fill that creative udder, hanging just under your frontal lobe, and begin milking it.

So, now maybe, you see the conundrum.  The weeks leading up to my writing a novel I'm not supposed to think about but, then, all I can do is think about it. (Did that make sense?  I didn't think so.)

So, again, what to do?

I might go back to the beginnings.

One of my first posts on this blog was about a book I had bought, "The Making of A Story", something to help me write.  I made it through a bit of it before it dropped off the radar.  Maybe it's time to break it out again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Golem reborn

I think I've posted this before, however it wouldn't be this version as I've spent some time, perhaps too much, reworking the words and structure. It's hard for me as I'm a person that the more I work on something the worse I make it. I need a constant reminder that little is more with me. Anyway I've been working on this novel, a gay horror story, a niche I see is void when visiting amazon or chapters or b&n. Here is the first few pages, as I've left them, I'll post the others as their rewritten. On this particular novel I've written about 80% of the book, the last 20% is still to be birthed.

Fair warning to those of you who don't feel like reading about scenes of gay sex, the last part of this post is peppered with it.

Enjoy -

Golem -

The drive out to the lake had taken a bit longer than he had remembered it, probably because the group would always car-pool and so, he assumed, the company reduced the appearance of time. It had been the first he had ever been at the lake house by himself. It sat dark and eerily quiet, just the sound of wind, whistling through the tree tops, the trees moaning under their own weight, and the sound of the lake, washing up on the beach.

As though someone else were there to see him and, as though, he was about to do something devious, he crept past the house, looking over his shoulder and jumping at the smallest of noises. He knew, with certainty that nobody was near; even the other house sitting on the lake was devoid of life, the empty driveway and lack of light were a dead give-away. Still, though, its windows remained empty eyes that were watching him. It would be another couple weeks before anyone else would visit the place. Still, though, in his mind an image materialized of a stranger standing in one of the large bay windows, tracking him. Though it was only his imagination, the image, on a loop, ratcheted up his nerves and he found himself looking and looking again, at the plate glass windows, searching for the shadow of a person behind the reflection that the moon cast. It took great effort for him to put those thoughts and images away and ignore the persistent feeling that he was being watched. Pulling a mini mag-lite from his pocket he walked past the house and down the beach. Dimly, the light, illuminated the path before him, he had forget how dead the battery was. The trail dodged back and forth between trees and ferns and soon the foliage blocked what little of the moonlight there was. He began to feel his feet sinking, slightly, into the ground and he knew he was close. The sounds of a trickling stream guided him toward his intended spot.

Water lapped at the beach, catching his pant cuffs, in their wake. Kneeling, he plunged his hands, wrist deep, into the icy mud patch, where the small stream trickled into the cold waters of the mountain lake, he began moulding his creation. His lips were moving, as he recited the same set of words repeatedly, under his breath. It was important, he had read, to do this. Attempting his best at getting the incantation right, he found himself over pronouncing each word. It was a mystery to him, why he was so concerned about getting it wrong. The words were not his language and he was pretty sure that he was butchering each syllable. In hopes of finding some recordings of the words, he had gone online, so he could hear them spoken but, after a hard search, found nothing.

The shape below him was forming into a man, a large oversized muddy one. His freezing hands were infecting the rest of his body; the shivers crept up his arms and down his spine. It was summer but only for another few weeks and then fall would take the reins. In a week, when he and the guys would be up here, it would be a bit colder, still. There was a large coffee in the car, a travel mug with a plug in heater, to keep it warm. The idea of wrapping his hands around that mug, feeling the warmth filter back into his fingers, comforted and motivated him. Mosquitoes that had somehow lived past the days of a warm summer sun swarmed around his head. There were light trails of mud markings all over his face and neck as he, gingerly, attempted to swat them away, while trying to remain clean. By now, he thought, the mud had to be so thick the mosquitoes wouldn’t be able to get to his skin. The image he must be making, a man covered in mud moulding another man out of mud, struck him as funny. The flash light, illuminating the quiet night, bobbed with his silent laughter and began to dim, futher, as the batteries died. His time was almost up. It was almost done anyway, just one more thing, a piece of the person it was modeled on.

Arms out, keeping his hands away from his clothing, he stood up and walked into the water; then leaning over began to rinse his hands free of the mud and clay. Once clean, he pulled the object from his pocket and, moved back towards the mud figure, he forced it into the chest, where the heart should be, and then he smoothed mud over the hole. It was almost complete. Last but not least, using his thumb nail, he carved some letters into the things forehead. These had been easy for him to remember, without having to write them down, having gone through a Kabbalah stage, at one point, they were familiar to him.

His therapist had suggested he make art, “Take your anger and frustration out in a creative way, write, paint or draw. Get it out, quit harbouring it.” He wasn’t sure if his therapist would have approved this particular work of art, knowing she had meant for him to create a Rembrandt, make his own Picasso, or become the next Stephen King. Instead, with his inquisitive mind, he had gone home and typed ‘therapeutic art’. One link had led to another, as they usually did, and soon he was looking at Golems. It wouldn’t ever walk, it couldn’t talk, and nothing would ever come of it, he knew, but it was the action, the creation, that he was capitalizing on. Through his efforts the anger that resided in his heart would be transferred into the mud man, lying before him, and then, with the next rain it would wash away. Symbolism, that’s all it was. The same way divorced women used to throw their wedding rings into the Truckee river, running through Reno, Nevada, back when Reno was the divorce capital of the world, he would throw this memento, of his betrayed love, into the mud effigy and let nature cleanse him of the hurt.

Feeling strange, he stood up, the hairs on his body were raised and his goose pimples followed suit. It was as though electricity were coursing through his body. Looking up he scanned the skies, thinking a storm must be brewing. This high up in the mountains, he knew, storms could approach without warning and lightning was a dangerous thing. But all was clear, not a cloud to be seen, only the stars were looking back at him. It must be working, he thought, all that negative energy leaving his body, dispersed back into the world from whence it came. Already, he felt better. This might work; he could sense the success in the air. For once, therapy was paying off.

Cool, he thought.

Chapter One

As was his ritual before weekends at the lake house, it was to Goliath’s Aidan went.

The place was busy and there was a waiting list for a room. Music was blaring, as it always was, a little too loud. Opened doors revealed more ass than face, as he walked by, tops and bottoms, face up or down, looking for their missing halves. Debauchery surrounded him. People were getting blowjobs in the shower and a man, in a sling, was gliding back and forth, on a glistening cock, his grunts echoing their way down the corridors. A small crowd had gathered at the door and Aidan had to bump the shoulders of the men, some jerking off, as they watched, in order to get past.

Standing at over six feet tall and solid, like a linebacker, Aidan was a big guy. In the microcosm that was a bathhouse, you only needed to combine his size with his sexual proclivity, being a top, and you were left with a popular persona. If he wanted to fuck someone, there was hardly a wait. Eyes turned to him as he walked down the hallways and their bodies turned with them. Tonight, though, regardless of how worked up he was, frustration prevented him from relaxing. Walking down the halls, a large convoluted circle, Aidan noticed he had company, a man following close behind. He recognized the hurt in this man, could read it on his face, and knew the other man could do the same.

Sitting in the porn room, the level of quality, in both film and performance, told him the movie was, at least, ten to fifteen years old, he watched as men walked around, towels around their waist cruising one another. There were cubicles facing the screen, a few full with action. Despite how bad he thought the porn was he had found himself slightly excited. His follower, a slightly smaller man, had walked into the room. He was mildly attractive, Aidan thought, nice body. They kept the gaze going, in typical bathhouse code and then the man walked over.

It always came to this, Aidan had come to understand. The goal, as it had been the all the previous times, was to tempt himself. Aidan wanted to know he could turn down sex, prove that he was strong enough to withstand the temptations thrown at him. Outside, in the real world, he had failed. This, as he saw it, was his boot camp. Walking around, sitting, watching, he could witness all the things he could be doing, people he could be doing, everything he enjoyed doing, but say no, force himself to not engage that part of his mind, and body. Self-control is what he lacked and why his relationships always ended and so this was his work out, his attempt at gaining strength.

The man with the hurt eyes walked towards Aidan and, with the slightest shake of the head, Aidan said ‘No.’ A missed step, a sure thing blown, the man staggered a foot or so, unsure of what had happened, then, in true bath house style, pretending that, in fact, nothing had happened, he turned and walked from the room.

Aidan sat, listening to the pleasure, emanating from all around him, and let the desire wash over him.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


A first on this blog and a new feature. I'll attempt to write reviews of the books I'm reading, as a goal to keep myself reading, about a book a week, as well as get me writing of this blog.

First up Anathem, by Neal Stephenson.

I'm not going to be one of those book reviewers that inadvertently, or intentionally, tells you the plot of the book in their review. My goal here isn't to recap each chapter of said book and then call it my review. Instead I'll cut and paste the publishers description, because if they think it's okay for you to know this information then I guess I do to, and then I'll give you my two cents too.

Anathem, the latest invention by the New York Times bestselling author of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, is a magnificent creation: a work of great scope, intelligence, and imagination that ushers readers into a recognizable—yet strangely inverted—world.

Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside “saecular” world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent’s walls. Three times during history’s darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.

Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent’s gates—at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious “extras” in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn’t seen since he was “collected.” But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.

Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros—a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose—as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world—as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.

Now, my two cents, as promised....

I not the smartest man, barely passed a lot of my math courses, to be honest, but, somehow, I still found this book pretty riveting. I would assume that a basic knowledge of higher math would be key to enjoying this book a bit more but Stephenson does a great job of explaining it to even us hicks.

For me the little bit of pretentiousness that comes from only catering to the smart kids in class is overshadowed by the world and characters that Stephenson has created here. At the end of the day, it's still an ID4, The Day The Earth Stood Still or, even, War Of The Worlds type story, with a bit of originality thrown in.

I did think that, at a few points, in the book, Stephenson lost control of the narrative, to use one of his own words, from the book, and the characters were lost in the idea of what he was trying to convey. For me, however, this is a small complaint, I would rather the author be passionate about what he's trying to write than contrived about it.

I also found the ending to be a bit of a let down. You read a thousand pages you expect a better pay off's all I'm saying.

All in all, though, the book was good and I look forward to rereading it, at some point. The world building was solid and realistic and the characters and groups that live within that world also felt spot on. Nothing seemed forced, as sometimes happens in a lot of fantasy/sci-fi books.