SIX DEGREES OF LEONARD NIMOY

Photo: Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons

I woke this morning to the news that Leonard Nimoy passed away and immediately began a traipse back twenty eight years and thirty pounds. Back then—in 1987—I was completing a political science degree at the University of Toronto while pondering job opportunities at various receptionist desks across the city. Like any young person, I curried ideas that included changing the world by pioneering a great idea or assisting a key decision maker in the public policy realm. *insert laugh track*

But before I could do any of that, I had to answer a call for warm bodies at a down town hotel.

SAY WHAT?

Unlike the rest of us from the hood, my friend Steve rose above we mere mortals by landing a really cool job as a casting director for *gasp* HOLLYWOOD MOVIES. With just a phone call, Steve could invalidate the Cold War and nuclear disarmament because he had the power to place whomever he wanted within arm’s length of the bold and beautiful.

WARNING: NAME DROPPING HERE

Whether playing lawyer #3 to Sophia Loren’s crime fighting heroine in Courage, or a dance hall girl in a room that included Sam Neill and the late and talented Robert Urich in Amerika, that girl who used to be me became someone else completely. Sometimes I was a face in the crowd; at another time I was “woman at table” next to Canada’s own Wendy Crewson. For these experiences I claimed extensive bragging rights. But none of these, awesome as they were, came close to touching my brush with off planet greatness.

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER

As a fan of the man from Vulcan, I knew that Leonard Nimoy did more than act and make public appearances. He also directed films and in 1987 that task brought him to Toronto to helm a little bit of froth called Three Men and A Baby.

It didn’t take long for me to ditch class when the call from Steve invariably came. That the film offered three male leads who on their own pulled a 10 out of 10 every time was enough to send any girl half way across town on a cumulonimbus cloud of her own making.

“Wear something upscale,” Steve advised, “and report to the main ballroom at the Sutton Place Hotel.

I’M DOING WHAT?

My reverie was short lived as I entered the ballroom.

“Here’s your line,” said the woman with the clipboard. “I need you to say it in three distinct ways.”

Young me. Starstruck with shiny forehead.
Young me. Starstruck with shiny forehead.

With ‘crazy,’ ‘heartbroken’ and ‘ironic’ as my only directives to go on, it did not yet sink in that this was something over and above an ordinary casting call.

What will I be this time? I wondered. Woman with cigarette? Lady at bar? I didn’t care. I was just glad to be there. And with thoughts of Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg, and TOM SELLECK swirling through my grey matter, it didn’t take long for me to suspect.

“I’m gonna kill that sonofabitch,” was not only the line I was given to rehearse, but it reflected perfectly, my sentiment at that moment toward my dear friend Steve.

“Are you a model?” the gorgeous Toronto print model asked from her seat opposite me. She along with a clutch of other blondes like me occupied the one corner of the room that didn’t belong to the brunettes and redheads occupying the others.

“No,” I stammered, as I wiped my slopping forehead that refused to stop shining despite copious amounts of pressed powder. “I’m hoping for a career in politics.”

The stunning lass was impressed by my answer even more so after filling in the blanks I had walked into the room with. Steve hadn’t sent me to Sutton Place to help fill a room—he had sent me on an AUDITION to fill one of three “girlfriend” roles in the picture.

“I’ll take any one of them,” my friend giggled. “But I really hope I get Selleck.”

“I’m gonna kill that sonofabitch,” I muttered.

KIRK TO ENTERPRISE

What followed were three rounds of “walk” “talk” and pirouettes before a sea of eyes that included the great man himself.

“I’m gonna kill that sonofabitch.”

“I’m gonna kill that sonofabitch.”

“I’m gonna kill that sonofabitch.”

I said it so many times that I failed to notice the room thinning. For what was once a space of about 150 women was now reduced to a mere 10, and I was one of them.

Holy hell, I cursed inwardly. I might get this job.

I’d be lucky if I pulled a walk on, never mind a talky part.

Leonard Nimoy walked towards me slowly, deliberately, elegantly.

My heart rose up into my throat.

“What color are your eyes?” he asked

“Green,” Like Vulcan.

“Walk for me, please.”

He’s shorter and slighter than I imagined.

“Say the line.”

Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

“Did you get it?” the Disney executive seated in the lobby of the Sutton Place asked.

It was over and I was glowing.

“No,” I said, undoubtedly flashing one of my signature toothy grins.

“But you’re so happy.”

You bet I was.

You see, I was never for Kirk, just like I was never for John or Paul. I adored George Harrison. And I adored Mr. Spock too. On that day, twenty eight years ago, I was given an opportunity to meet someone I grew up in front of watching countless reruns of Star Trek. It was a moment in time I shall never forget.

And when I think about it, what better way to honor someone who had an impact on me than to remember him?

Rest in peace, Mr Spock. The galaxy awaits.

Funkhauser, out.

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Introducing K.C. Sprayberry

Today, I welcome author K.C. Sprayberry to the blog. Prolific, invested, K.C. unveils her latest, the much anticipate LOST AND SCARED.

 A BIT ABOUT

lost and scared cover artWhen their younger twin siblings were murdered by their cold-blooded father, Shane and Keri’s own twin connection deepened. Their father shamed Shane and Keri into silence, and then went on to bring four more children into a house shuddering under the weight of his unpredictable temper.

Ten years later, what should have been a regular visitation turns into a horrific nightmare. Trapped in the Superstition Mountains with an addicted and dangerous father, Keri’s faith and determination wavers, but she knows she must save her brothers and sisters and return all of them to the home they love.

She now faces one insurmountable obstacle. He can’t afford to let her go.

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00TXJ48FC

Excerpt 1 ~ Shane

The window in my bedroom that I share with my two younger brothers overlooks Main Street. I angle my head, so I can attempt to see where my twin is.

“See Keri?” Axe, my best bud, asks.

“Nope. But I do see a bunch of cars leaving.” I face him and grin. “That means she’s on her way back.”

“Great. We can leave now.”

“Looks that way.”

He and I race down the stairs. The normal noise of a large family during winter holiday break greets me, along with what can only be described as evil snickering. We come around the corner, shoving and pushing to see which one of us gets to the bottom first, with me gaining an inch on my bud.

“Yes!” I pump a fist and hop down the last three steps, the satisfaction of proving once and for all that I’m the best pass receiver on our team.

“I am so going to beat you one of these days,” he says.

We knuckle bump and clown around.

“Ready when you are, honey,” a strange female voice says.

“Huh?” I turn around.

A woman who looks like a million miles of bad road stands beside the open front door. Before I can ask who she is and what she’s doing in our house, a series of loud bangs precedes the sound of a cat yowling. That noise sends fear shivers through every inch of my body, and I don’t scare all that easily.

“What the heck?” Axe pushes me aside. “What’s going on, Shane?”

“Don’t know.” I point at the woman. “Who are you?”

“Jake’s honey-poo,” she purrs.

That response is wrong on so many levels, beginning with Jake is my dad’s name. The last time I checked he was still married to my mom.

“Who are you two handsome hunks?”

Gross. Sick. Yuck! She sounds just like Scooter when he catches a mouse.

Just as I’m about to tell this loser from the wrong side of the tracks to get lost, Scooter races out of the kitchen. A mix of who knows what, he has gorgeous gray and white striped fur and I can only describe him as fat and slow.

Slow comes nowhere close to describing that streak racing for safety. Scooter howls out his fear. His fur stands on end and his tail is so fluffy that it looks ten times its normal size.

Author Bio:

Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the better pic of meUnited States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in Northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines. Three of her books (Softly Say Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama’s Advice) are Amazon best sellers. Her other books are: Take Chances, Where U @, The Wrong One, Pony Dreams, Evil Eyes, Inits, Canoples Investigations Tackles Space Pirates, The Call Chronicles 1: The Griswold Gang, The Curse of Grungy Gulley, Paradox Lost: Their Path, and Starlight. Additionally, she has shorts available on Amazon: Grace, Secret From the Flames, Family Curse … Times Two, Right Wrong Nothing In Between, and The Ghost Catcher.

http://youtu.be/RCI2EWfs3UI

Excerpt 2 ~ Keri

Carly and I sneak up the walkway to the backdoor of the house where I live with my parents and five siblings. We’ve done nothing wrong. There is no reason for us to be sneaking into my house, except one… him.

“Are you sure about this?” she whispers.

“Yeah.” I cast a guilty glance at the driveway.

Shane’s truck isn’t here. He must still be hanging with his best bud, Axe. Heat rushes up my face whenever I think about that hunk. Axe not Shane. Big Bro is anything but a hunk. Well, he is kind of cute, and a lot of girls like him, but a hunk? Give me a break. None of the girls hot for him know that he stinks up a bathroom or dumps his clothes all over the place for me to pick up.

I’ll forgive Carly for thinking like that. She’s good for Shane, if he’d just get over the “everybody will hate us for dating” thing. Big deal if she’s African American and we’re white. Nobody cares about that anymore.

“Your dad will pop a cork if he catches me in the house,” Carly says. “You know he hates… you know.”

We never talk about that. So what if my dad is the biggest bigot in the world? The rest of my family is totally cool with me having Carly around. They like her. She’s funny, and an awesome bestie.

We both stop in front of the back door. I reach out a hand, but don’t turn the knob when I hear shouting.

“Oh, shit.” I glance at Carly.

“What now?” she whispers.

Memories flood through me of a night I try so very hard to forget. Once upon a time, there was another set of twins in our house. Then they were gone. The reason they’re not with us anymore is too hard to think about. I don’t even talk about that night, but that’s because Shane and I made a sacred vow. We will always keep that secret. Telling now will cause so many problems for us.

I have to tell someone, but that means I’ll go to jail. Won’t I? Isn’t that where liars go when they hide a crime?

The anniversary of that particular act still haunts me, even though it was way back in August. December has usually been good, even if we’re sad because of whatever he is doing. To have such an innocent act end in the violence as that one did should never happen to anyone, especially a kid. To have the person responsible still walking around as if he did nothing wrong infuriates me, until I think about how I never told.

Shane didn’t either. We should have told. It didn’t matter if we were only seven. It doesn’t matter now that we’re almost seventeen. We should have told.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kcsowriter

Blog: http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

Website: www.kcsprayberry.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5011219.K_C_Sprayberry

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005DI1YOU

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KcSprayberry/posts

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kcsprayberry/boards/

Authorgraph: http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/kcsowriter

Amazon book list: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=k.c.%20sprayberry&sprefix=k.c.+%2Cdigital-text

Manic Readers: http://www.manicreaders.com/KCSprayberry/

TREADING CAREFULLY WITH DAVID K. BRYANT

Solstice Author David K. Bryant

The Solstice family of authors are to be congratulated for their community support–they are always there for each another. I should know, becoming one of the group a little under two months ago. It’s been a whirl wind with a learning curve that at times threatens nosebleeds. I nonetheless carry on, because I’ve got good friends behind me with lots of advice and positive vibes. David K. Bryant is one such cheerleader, and the pressure to live up to his expectations is exhilirating, because HIS stuff is that good. Have a look:

TREAD CAREFULLY ON THE SEA

FIRST BOOK BY DAVID K. BRYANT

www.davidkbryant.com

Buy link: http://amzn.to/1zs9ebu

SOLSTICE PUBLISHING

 

Step up the gangplank to an adventure tale set in the 18th Century, when the world made its money from conquest and slavery, pirates were the muggers of the sea lanes and life was fragile – with violence and disease never far away.

Tread Carefully on the Sea is the first novel by retired journalist David K. Bryant. Packed with historical atmosphere, it will take you on a voyage from Jamaica to the “New World” of the American colonies. The Tread Carefully on the Sea cover pictureaction comes as rapidly as the horrors in a ghost train, starting with the kidnapping of an aristocratic young woman on the night of her 21st birthday party by Captain Flint’s crew.

Amidst conspiracy, murder, cannonades, bare-knuckle boxing, disease and a devastating storm, there is the chance for all the main characters to reveal the better or worse sides of their natures. This is a swashbuckle, yes, but it’s also a story about the strengths and weaknesses of believable human beings.

“I’ve written an escapist yarn in the tradition of high adventure but in much more user-friendly language than the old classics,” says David K. Bryant.  “It’s exciting, involving, a bit tear-jerking and is pure adventure and romance.”

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THE MAIN CHARACTERS

Captain Flint is a lonely man. His education, intelligence and wit leave him isolated amongst the pirate crew who sail with him. He feels more affinity with the hostages who are brought aboard his ship but he becomes trapped by the need to escape the consequences of the kidnap and the challenge to his leadership from one of his officers. Flint kills and schemes his way out of several dangers but there are two threats from which he cannot escape. The first is the failing health that he refuses to accept. The second is the scale of his own success as a criminal. He will never be left in peace to enjoy the proceeds of his piracy. In this story we learn what finally happens to him.

Captain Michael Townsend is the model of a disciplined and dutiful Navy officer. He is also a man haunted by something in his past; something that could ruin his future. The decisions forced upon Townsend by the kidnapping help him to resolve his inner conflicts but jeopardize the survival of those he wishes to protect. Townsend’s instincts are to put duty first but will duty deny him happiness?

Jessica Trelawny is the spirited niece of the Governor of Jamaica. She hates the conformity of 18th century society. Soon after she is snatched away from her home she puts her rebellious nature to work against the pirates. Captain Flint learns to admire her — and to regret that she ever came aboard his ship.

Jessica’s maid Libby becomes a prisoner simply because she is with her mistress at the time of the kidnap. She plays a major role in the fight-back against the pirates. Does she bring into use special talents inherited from her African origin — or is she simply a very clever woman?

Patrick O’Hara began life in the squalor of the Irish famine and by a fluke became an officer in the Royal Navy. He is thrust into a vicious bare-knuckle fight aboard the pirate ship. Whether or not O’Hara wins, the legacy of the fight is a power struggle threatening the survival of Captain Flint himself.

The Walrus is the huge black galleon stolen by Flint from a Spanish captain. It has a pivotal role in the narrative and a heart-rending demise when Captain Flint’s voyage of crime comes to an end.

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EXTRACTS

**

As the shirt was removed, her eyes came level with a huge tattoo of an eagle on his chest. Ridiculously, that gave her renewed terror, as though the tattoo was worse than the man. There was certainly menace from the eagle. It stared at her, its talons outstretched and its wings spread wide. It looked prepared to pounce right out of his chest and claw at her face.

**

The cry that would have brought forth a dozen soldiers was about to leave the governor’s tongue – but remained unleashed as the pirate warned: “I wouldn’t do that, Governor, for the sake of your niece’s health.”

**

“Did you get the name of the ship?” demanded the governor.

“It was the Walrus, Sir,” the messenger replied.

“Captain Flint,” said Trelawny, and for the moment that was all he did say.

**

One of the stories that had evoked within the Royal Navy a sneaking admiration for the pirate chieftain was that he had captured a big Spanish galleon and made it his own. Now Townsend could see in front of him the confirmation of that audacity. The big ship sat on the ocean like she owned it.

**

“Britain came to this part of the world to find riches. It was very successful in doing so but it had a major problem. It was shipping around so many slaves and so much merchandise that it didn’t have sufficient military resources to protect its new-found wealth. So what did it do about the policing of its trade routes and the protection of places like Jamaica? It found it convenient to encourage the people you would call pirates…You had better hope that the King never turns against the Royal Navy in the same way that he turned against the privateers.

**

Reeling and with blood dripping down his face, O’Hara got up on one knee, then the other. By the time he was on his feet, Hugh was charging forward like a stag in the rutting season. Another head butt was imminent.

**

Flint bent his knees and placed his hands on them so that his face came level with Townsend’s. “That’s it, then” barked the pirate captain. “You don’t agree to my proposal. I don’t agree to yours. Our fates are intertwined.”

**

She didn’t close her eyes and her brain pitifully tried to distract her from reality by registering that the gunman was left-handed. His finger was going back with the trigger. Spontaneously, she said a few words of her native Ashanti. The phrase had been taught to her by Queen Nanny: “Do not fear death any more than you fear life.” If Libby was going to die, she wanted those to be the last words she said.

Tread Carefully on the Sea by David K. Bryant

Solstice Publishing

www.davidkbryant.com

Buy link: http://amzn.to/1zs9ebu

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DAVID K. BRYANT – BIOGRAPHY

 

I started writing fiction after retiring from journalism and public relations. I suppose the books waited their turn during all the years I wrote articles, features, speeches and promotional material for other people. My career included running a district office for a daily newspaper, helping to introduce professional PR into the British police service and promoting a major parliamentary Bill for Margaret Thatcher’s government.

I live in Somerset, one of the nicest counties in England, and am blessed with a wonderful family. My wife Stephanie and I have been married for forty years. We are proud of our two children Matthew and Melanie, grandson Henry, son-in-law Jamie and daughter-in-law Fleur.

 

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Tread Carefully on the Sea – the background

I was seven years old or thereabouts and I walked round the garden reading Treasure Island. When I got to the bit about the musket and cutlass battle I was so engrossed I walked into a tree. I was proud of my bleeding nose – I imagined I got it in a fight with a pirate.

What intrigued me most about that classic book by Robert Louis Stevenson were all the references to Captain Flint, a pirate king who was brutal, intimidating and quite likely an alcoholic – yet obviously very clever.

Without Flint there would have been no Treasure Island for he was the man who had buried the Treasure on the Island. Yet in that book we hear about Flint only in reminiscences from some of the protagonists because Flint is dead by the time the story begins.

Stevenson’s narrative tells us Flint took six men ashore with him to stash the loot. But, having apparently murdered the others, only Flint came back to the ship, giving him the security of being the only man who knew where the cache was.

There had to be a story around that. For me, Flint deserved a biography of his own. What’s more, it should answer all those other questions posed by Treasure Island. If, as Stevenson tells us, Long John Silver had lost his leg in the same broadside as Old Pew lost his ‘deadlights’, what were the circumstances of that broadside? And how come that Billy Bones, the first mate, came into possession of Flint’s map where X marked the spot of the buried loot?

It’s taken me a long time but now I have supplied my own answers. I hope you enjoy them and I hope you identify with the experiences of the other characters I’ve created when you read Tread Carefully on the Sea.

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INTERVIEW WITH DEBORAH MELANIE

Thanks to my friend Deborah Melanie for interviewing me.

Deborah is at     http://londoncatreviewsanddesign.blogspot.co.uk/

Can you tell us how to came to be an author? Has it been an easy or difficult journey?

It’s a journey I didn’t know I was going to make. I spent my career in journalism and public relations, writing reams of stuff for other people. During that time I made one attempt at a book, a pirate story. Many years later I read it to my young son. Then in about 2010 when he was in his twenties he asked to read it again. I was ashamed to give him the sub-standard original so I set about re-writing it. It became Tread Carefully on the Sea, which has now been published by Solstice. It’s my first published book – at the age of 68.

What motivates you as an author?

This should be a simple question to answer but it’s got me stumped. Hoping not to sound trite, I think I want to produce something that people will enjoy. I want it to be good in terms of making sense, being exciting, having some originality and a believable set of characters. I think it’s important to create characters who readers can associate with, feel their emotions, understand their faults – and like.

How do you deal with rejection and setbacks as an author?

I think I can boast that I deal with them well. I approached 370 literary agents with Tread Carefully on the Sea. But I wasn’t going to give up until there was nobody left to try. Then I started sending to indie publishers who took direct submissions and Solstice took me on. God bless Mel Massey-Maroni (my editor-in-chief).

How do you deal with writer’s block?

While it’s very frustrating, I think you have to wait. All of a sudden when your mind is totally elsewhere, you’ll get an idea of how to continue your story. I think it’s worth always carrying a notepad around and writing down thoughts whenever they occur to you. And if you can’t write at that particular moment because you’re driving or something, then keep repeating the idea inside your head so you don’t forget it.

Do you have any motivational books or websites which you find useful from time to time?

I am so glad there is a thing called the internet because it answers so many questions. Motivational books – The Odyssey, one of the oldest bits of literature around. It’s about a guy who spends ten years encountering all the dangers of reality and fantasy yet he never gives up.

Who has been the biggest influence upon your writing?

My dear brother Ray. He helped me get into journalism and he was an author himself. His main work was published in the 1980s and is still available from Amazon. It’s called Warriors of the Dragon Gold and is based on the Bayeux Tapestry. Ray died far too early.

Tell us about a typical day for you. Do you have any special routines which you strictly keep to?

I’m retired so my time is my own and a lot of it is spend hitting the keys I’m hitting now. I make a conscious effort not to leave my wife an ‘author widow’. But she’s very understanding and helpful with the books.

How have family and friends reacted to you as an author? Are they supportive?

Yes, they are supportive. They make constructive suggestions and have stopped me falling into a few traps.

Do you have a muse? If so, please could you tell us a little about him/her?

No, I don’t think so.

Going forwards as an author, what do you realistically hope to accomplish?

Recognition for being good. I’m not being conceited and saying I am good, but I would love the world to judge me so – and enjoy my work.

BAKED ALASKA

Karl Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses, but he don’t got nothin’ on dope, yo, cuz it’s legal to smoke and carry herb in Alaska now.

My friend, the stoner, is beside himself doing cartwheels, which is pretty damned amazing when you stop and reimagine it. Quoting American Pasha Woody Harrelson, Stoner reminds me that weed’s not a drug. It’s a plant.

“Like poppies and cocoa?” I offer.

“Exactly,” he says, righting himself with a vanilla scented vaporizer that, oddly, does not set off my fire alarm.

Woody Harrelson notwithstanding, Alaska joins a small but growing clutch of U.S. states that are as okay with dope as the rest of us are with booze, gambling and mild laxatives.

“You watch,” Stoner says, gloating (because I’m a square who neither partakes nor inhales) “Canada will follow.”

It’s just a matter of time. When Prime Minister-in-Waiting Justin Trudeau is not drafting new legislation to advance the ways and means of democracy, he is progressively promising government-approved dope for all.

“Getting high levels me out,” Stoner reits, reaching for his car keys.

“Unlike booze, which is a drug?” I query.

“Right again,” he replies, pleased that I’m at least giving him a fair and equitable listen.

Waving him off as he drives away in his rusty old shet box of a Toyota, I wonder if he isn’t impaired. Oh, right…it’s a plant.

I shrug, looking to heaven. Now I know Karl Marx didn’t believe in religion, so the likelihood that he’s looming about is slim. That would require faith. Still, life and death have been known to play tricks and in that spirit, I allow myself this goof:

Waving my arms—chicken like—above my head, I try to get the attention of the Holy Marxist Father. “Yo, Karl,” I yell, “you there, buddy?”

Silence.

“There’s a guy down here promising dope for votes.”

Still silent.

I consider my laundry list of chores for the day and resign myself to the truth of my existence. Religion is not the opiate of the masses, marijuana is.

Adult, unapologetic and cognizant, I wish you good Wednesday. Let’s stay above it.

ABF

NOTE TO READERS: NONE OF THE ABOVE ACTUALLY TOOK PLACE. IT IS THE PRODUCT OF PURE WHIMSEY, ALTHOUGH THE DOPE STUFF IN ALASKA IS TRUE, AS IS TRUDEAU THE YOUNGER’S POT PLEDGE. I SUPPOSE, AS A HACK METAPHYSICIST, AN APPEAL TO MARX IS ALSO POSSIBLE.

The Versatile Blogger

A versatile blogger bends your ear and shares the wealth. Thank you, Cryssa Bazos, for peeling back the layers and letting us in.

Cryssa Bazos

Sally Moore, writer, poet and president of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. versatile-blogger For those who have never heard of this award, bloggers are nominated based on the quality of their writing, the uniqueness of their subjects, and the care they take to display their subject matter. In the words of those who created the award, “Honor those bloggers who bring something special to your life whether every day or only now and then.” I humbly acknowledge the honour, particularly coming from Sally whose blog is a work of art (literally). In fact, she is the type of blogger that this award was created for. For Sally’s blog, click here and see for yourself. Now to fulfil my obligation under this award. I’m required to share seven things about myself, and then nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.

Seven things about me:

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SINGIN’ PRAISES FOR THE TRAILER MAN

I owe a lot to Rich Helms, author, software guru and creative cheerleader, because it’s Rich who dragged me kicking and screaming into the amazing world of Hands-On-On-The-Ground Book Trailer creation.

Did I leave anything out Rich?

BIOGRAPHY

 Rich Helms Painting

Rich Helms has spent decades creating bleeding edge innovations, including groundbreaking course Book Trailer 101. A seasoned software developer with over 30 years of experience in computer Research and Development, his credentials range from deep technical work (five patents in hardware and software) to running multi-national R&D shops. Rich has been developing multi-media technology since the 1980’s including CARES (Computer Assisted Recovery Enhancement System) for the Metropolitan Toronto Police. CARES was the first computer system in the world for locating aging missing children. He also served as a board member for the Writer’s Community of Durham Region (WCDR) for eight years.

I 2010 he co-authored, Amazon Simple DB Developer Guide for Packt Publishing.

WITH GRATITUDE

I met Rich a few years back at a Writer’s Community of Durham Region breakfast where his spouse, the inimitable Dorothea Helms was espousing the virtues of comedy and poetry slams. At press time, I have yet to summon the nerve to get up on stage and become a slammy, but I sure took Rich’s advice and got myself together a book trailer.

After just five weeks under Rich’s tutelage, my classmates and I now dabble in sound editing, animation and movie making. Not bad for a clutch of novelists, poets and diarists.

Something this good had to be shared. Presenting Rich Helms, Trailer Guru and father of Book Trailer 101:

Oh,Rich…

The Q and A

You live in Durham Region but sound suspiciously American. Care to explain your provenance?

I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Pittsburgh. My wife and I met at Clarion University, then moved to Canada for my graduate study. We intended to stay for only two years, but it quickly became home.  I joined IBM and we lived around the country, for as many know, IBM stands for “I’ve Been Moved.”

How different is a book trailer from the book itself in terms of the subtext that governs it? Is it more about marketing than telling a story?

A book trailer is a video commercial. It is all about marketing, but it is soft sell. Hard sell doesn’t work for books. Most people read a book for entertainment or to learn. The trailer needs to communicate that their desire will be met. With the Internet offering so much content for free, the trailer has to capture their attention and convince them the reward will be worth the cost both in money and time.

The trailer may tell a story, such as the Miriam Black trailer by Chuck Wendig (http://bt101.info/bm), but more often it is a tease. The story involves an intriguing set-up, but then you are left wanting. A good book trailer taunts, tantalizes and seduces, but reveals little.

Someone in publishing recently told me that a cover font has nothing to do with what’s inside. The same would apply to a level-one trailer if this were true. Do you agree or disagree with either of these statements? And  I guess you better explain what a level-one trailer is.

I don’t see the correlation. A level-one trailer has a lot more to do with the book than the font on the cover. A level-one book trailer communicates with titles, i.e. words, rather than a voice-over or live video sound. Titles are limiting, as you can present only about 60 words in 60 seconds. Reading sentences of text in a video is challenging, so you are limited to short phrases. Now comes the big challenge – exciting the viewer with so few words. It is like writing poetry, where every word is precious and has purpose.

The images, font and music set a tone, but the work is done with the words. They sell the story.

The key to an effective DIY trailer is doing your homework. A lot of people want to jump on Animoto, spend a couple hours and produce a trailer, which is fine. So is writing a book in a weekend. Problem is, will either of these be any good? I doubt it. As with writing a book, creating a book trailer takes a lot of thought work to awaken moments of inspiration. It also takes some trial and error, along with an honest look at what the book is about.

That is why I wrote my Book Trailer 101 site and upcoming book – to walk the DIY author through the process to create an effective book trailer. 

You have analyzed many book trailers. I hear the comment that a lot of book trailers lack the zip their creators hoped for. Why is this?

It takes time and effort to learn what makes an effective book trailer and when you see the result it becomes clear they didn’t invest the time. Fancy music, pretty images and amazing video transitions do not make a good trailer. Writing does.

The most common problems:

  1. Too long
  2. Too much detail
  3. Overly dramatic including the music
  4. Music is all one level – loud and pounding
  5. No grab up front or hook at the end
  6. Cliché lines used – “Will he survive?”
  7. The lines could apply to any book
  8. Too much praise

A great trailer like a great movie starts with a great script.

And you have a book trailer of your own?

Of course (laughs) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4ReQnbvL2E

 

Thanks for the snapshot Rich. I hear you’re teaching a Master Class at the Ontario Writer’s Conference in April?

That’s right. Three-hours on April 24, 2015. Last year I did a one hour teaser. This one will cover the 7 steps needed to create an effective trailer. And I’ll be making the point again that whether you are working on a first draft or your book is already published, the prep work for trailer creation can help you focus on what your book is actually about.

With some hands on?

Yes! Participants will actually create a trailer for Terry Fallis’ first novel, The Best Laid Plans, during the three-hour session. http://bt101.info/owc

 

Thanks for your time, Rich. I’m this close to posting my trailer to YouTube.

Good to hear, AB. And great to be here. Post that trailer. Cheers.

Links to Rich Helms and Book Trailer 101

Click for a Summary Resume in PDF format
Click for LinkedIn Profile

http://bt101.info/rich

http://bt101.info/owc

BookTrailer101.info

Twitter @BookTrailer101

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Rich@RichHelms.com

TIME AND OSCAR AND NEVER FORGETTING

This is the season where film historians look back on how it was, how it should have been, and how, with a little rejigging, it could be remembered. For the films that are nominated now and rewarded later will be held up for examination for years to come. Their merits and viability as cultural markers will wax and wane, along with the sheen of achievement, leaving some of us to wonder if all the kerfuffle was truly deserved. And that’s okay. It’s in our nature to wonder, isn’t it?

Life, like art, is brief and if it is lucky, sustains itself not just under the spectre of fresh eyes, but the weights and measures of wicked old time.

A poet and blogger I follow recently touched on a theme close to my heart: that of the dead and how we, the survivors, come to terms with their leave take. The dead ascend to great heights and sink to great lows, especially as we rummage through their stuff and uncover their secrets.Yet we honour and disparage in equal measure whether we know it or not, remembering, loving and revising to suit.

Time, gorgeous time, affords the luxury of circumspection, whether in art critique or a life remembered. So whether we use time to rewrite a life past and lived or grind axes over films that shoudda won and didn’t, let us take time by the scruff and be glad that we have the gift of it to dwell excellently.

Adult, unapologetic and cognizant, I wish you good Monday. Let’s stay above it.

ABF

AND HERE IT IS

February 18, 2015

Today, I have a cover. In the next few days, a trailer. Then comes the BIG DAY, Blog Tour, reviews, and then back to the grindstone. SCOOTER NATION calls. But for now, I’ll pause and just enjoy the feeling. Thanks abound for the great people at Solstice Publishing,

This door belongs to history now.
This door belongs to history now.

from Editor-in-Chief K.C. Sprayberry to C.E.O. Melissa Miller, Editor Judi Mobley, and Cover Artist Michelle Crocker. Special mention must go to fellow Solstice authors Bernard Foong, Diana Harrison, and Rachael Stapleton for assisting on the proofing side. Call on me anytime. I’m here!

I’d be remiss, if I didn’t mention my on the ground sistas in writing: Cryssa Bazos, Ann Dulhanty, Marissa Campbell, Susan Croft, Connie DiPietro-Sparacino, Sally Moore, Gwynn Scheltema, Rachael Stapleton, Ruth Walker and Yvonne Hess. This is a dream and I’m glad you’re here with me.

Now time for a coffee and a little laundry lite. My family has been very patient and so has the house and all the little spiders with their contributing cobwebs. There is much to do on the home front too.

Cheers darlin’s and a big ragin’ WOO HOO. It’s now and forward.

ABF

SLAY THAT DRAGON: SANS SERIF AND MONSTERPAUSE

Let’s be clear: I don’t want new clothes, I just want to fit into the ones I’ve got. But this will be a greater challenge than claiming the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. For unlike the mother of dragons, I am the arbiter of monsterpause, a dark and hideous critter that wreaks havoc on the minds, waist lines, and interpersonal communications of its victims.

Like a Rottweiler gone bad, monsterpause is a nasty beasty, flexed, on guard and poised to strike at a moment’s notice. When it does, sufferers get grouchy, miserable and pugilistic. Ask those nearest me: they know.

My editor recommends black cohosh, an all natural herbal remedy widely used by First Nations. I’ll give it a try, but not just yet. Because as I work and slave over a hot keyboard, I’ve noticed a neat little side effect whenever the big dog comes scratching. Like Viagra and the really great side benefits that result from it, monsterpause seems to generate terrific scene sets and character blow ups in this writer.

Is there such a thing as a method writer? If so, then I think I’m one of them, albeit Method Lite (like Coors). Instead of taking to the winter forest for a cool walk in shorts, I write man characters when my thermostat climbs. In their visceral, florid, furiosity (not a real word) my make believe guys soar and to great effect. My male muses who vet my stuff for authenticity offer praise for my creations, not knowing the subtext behind them. It’s gratifying and a tad sneaky: the lads must never know.

For such a result, I can suffer the monster. if it was a type face, it would be sans serif: meaty, moody and unrelenting in its abject disdain for curves or sentimentality…like Helvetica!

What I can’t rationalize away–yet–is a life in stretchy jeans, and so it must be conquered. My wardrobe, like a finished novel, is snappy, tailored and waiting to be discovered. I shall try to be worthy of both.

Or I could launder my sweat pants and remain at my keyboard.

Grrrrrrrrr.

Unapologetic, adult and cognizant, I wish you good Tuesday. Let’s stay above it.

ABF

#menomadness #writing #amwriting #wardrobemalfunctions

FRESH MEAT–Fifty Shades: The Unreview

NEW CONTENT AND THE ONE STAR THAT KEEPS GIVING

Hey! Who hasn’t had a cat across their back, and is it really so bad?

Well, uh, that’s the problem. There’s cats and there’s cats and then there’s my conflict over Fifty Shades of Grey. As a frenemy of the franchise, I can attest to both admiring and coveting the author’s zeal. Her enthusiasm for her characters and the situations they find themselves in are patently obvious: she’s having a ball and she’s making plenty of dough. Make no mistake, I covet her dough too, I just can’t get my head around the notion that it’s okay to get the hide strapped off of you so long as the guy with the belt is a rich dork with a helicopter.

Am I being unfair again?

SPOILER:

Ana comes round to Christian’s way of the world because he had a tough go growing up in Detroit. Plus he marries her and they raise kids in stunning opulence, kinda like the French Kings of old.

I’m still unconvinced.

Maybe if the cast in the new movie had been older. You know, like Clive Owen and Charlize Theron–people with a few miles on them. In my vision, Charlize could have cred: a professor, a jaded financial planner, a competing captain of industry. Old Clive, of course has to die and by her hand. In the final act, Charlize blithely dumps his body along with the cat o’ nine, waterboards, and electric chair he favored, but that she resented. Oh, yes, and she takes over his empire through a hostile mergers and acquisitions maneuver.

Now that’s something I could go for. Sadly, my vision was not to be, and the new flick will doubtless make MILLIONS so who cares, really?

As the release date approaches for Fifty Shades Part 1 (everything comes in three’s in Hollywood) I’m leaning towards the broad consensus arrived at Book Club: we can’t put money towards this thing when the economy is headed for the toilet…again. Best to wait until it arrives on the box, and then we can all get liquored up together in front of the flatscreen and insert our own dialogue.

Until then, I can only offer an intuitive critique of the upcoming film based on scuttlebutt, third party reports out of LA, and a really weird dream I had last night.

Presenting: The Unreview

Last week, I engaged in some trollish good fun with a fellow cinophile over the sturm und drang that occured on the set of Fifty Shades between director and writer. My Schadenfreude simply kicked in because the EL James juggernaut had stalled, if only for a brief time. The movie’s gonna make buckets no matter what, but at least for “one brief shining moment” there was trouble.

As a fan of enthusiastic authors everywhere, I place EL high on my admiration list. Lucky for her that the beware dogfantasy fest that is Fifty Shades The Movie is neither harmed nor hastened by the blow ups on set. For as much as the willful and spectacularly accepting race breathlessly to buy clothes and accessories made from the “softest leather,” others pinch nostrils shut because of the undeniable Euw factor that comes with the story.

As Canadian radio personality Jian Ghomeshi found out, rough sex outta the box leaves a stink that clears a room.

Fifty Shades is pretty. I know this because I’ve seen the trailers. Beautifully staged, wonderfully lit, it offers gorgeous scene set ups and fantastic costume design. Kinda like the Royal Wedding back in ’81.

However, as naive young Ana moans and groans under the ministrations of her wealthy and too young to be believable patron, the viewer soon experiences bilious side effects–a creeping feeling of extreme perviness–that accompanies visuals of a young woman stripped down and dehumanized for the greater good that is the heightened sexual awareness of her “I don’t do romance” helicopter loving, elevator riding partner, whose childhood of abuse and neglect back in Detroit makes this all okay.

Like the sets they play in, the youthful stars are super pretty too.

…And so was Rome under Caligula. (See Bob Guccione’s Caligula…or maybe don’t)

As my libertine friend suggests, life outside the box (or in this case, inside The Red Room of Pain) suggests either a sophistication derived from long-in-the-tooth experience and philosophical acuity (See A Dangerous Method) or deviance hastened by depravity and increasing violence resulting in death. (See Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka)

If Fifty Shades was honest, one of the characters would die at the end. But it’s not and they don’t.

Ana and Christian get a place and raise a family (Book III, suffer the trilogy), something serial killers Bernardo and Homolka hoped to do until they turned on each other. Prior to arrest, they hoped to abuse their future children and keep them in cages.

Does EL James have pretty little red rooms in store for Book IV?

Let’s hope she doesn’t go there.

Rating: 0

Author’s note:

I know, I know. I haven’t seen it, which makes this review extremely unethical. That’s why I’ll be back, but only after a free screening.

At press time:

Word out of H-wood is that the film is pretty mild; hence: no NC17 rating. The movie is very pretty and dialogue is very hokey. So what’s being shopped here? It doesn’t sound like S&M Bondage. Perhaps the joke’s on us?

Tomorrow: Fifty Shades of Creative Writing

Funkhauser, fragged out from an all-nighter of proof reading, jumps into a free for all on Facebook where she good naturedly offers up a little fan fiction.

February 16, 2015

Seems I got bogged down in proofing, and for that I am remiss. In not getting my fan fiction up when I promised, my emotions skewed much in the same way as when I heard that 25+ Dakota Johnson actually gave a compelling performance in the film. I’ve seen the stills–she looks dewy and real sad in character, and who wouldn’t be? Top performing billionaires like Fifty are doomed to disappoint given their alpha nature and tiresome veni vidi vici ethos. Professional reviews of the film so far suggest that Fifty is a firm “1” in terms of stars as opposed to “top rated”. Depending on their demographic, reviewers are either shocked at the domestic abuse portrayed, disappointed that it’s not dirty enough, or satisfied that its better than the book(s). The lead actor model is “wooden” they say, and that’s unfair, because the story really is about the woman, so beyond all the grunting and brooding, Christian Grey really is nothing more than a colossal woody and, that said, is entirely authentic.

Authors note:

I know. I know. I haven’t seen the film, so this review and all the content that accompanies it is still highly unethical.

The Fan Fiction

So here’s the thing: Much as I’d like to piggy back my besty tunes and the musicians that inspired me on my DEBUT NOVEL page, I won’t because of the “fair use” santa clause thingy that hinders me. Happily, there’s no such obstacle where the phenomenon ‘fan fiction’ is concerned. So with that, I’ll offer up my own Fifty Shades scenes. There are only three and they’re nice and short. I think EL would approve and maybe Dakota Johnson too, although I hope the kiddo doesn’t do the sequels. A one star rate does not a one star make.

Disclaimer

I know how to write good, so any weird phrasings in the fan fic is merely stylistic. Happy Family Day, Ontario. Happy Presidents’ Day, America. Happy Monday to everyone else this side of the International Date Line.

ABF

The Fan Fiction (Reproduced from a Facebook Free Fer All)

1.

Filling me with dirty socks and a coupla of golf balls, Fifty asserts his power with a rakish yawp.‘Cry havoc and let them dogs slip to war’ I howl at once remembering that I failed English. ‘I love your mind’ Fifty teases, his cruel taunts more hurtful than the cat I got him at Christmas.”.

2.

“Hot tears soak my downy supple cheeks. Fifty’s brought out the turkey baster again. My pert, anxious nipples flatten and he sees. ‘You have not eaten your dinner Mrs. Grey,’ he admonishes, loosening the chinos he picked up for real cheap at the Saks mid winter sale. I know what he means, and I am crestfallen because we’re married and it’s a bore. He advances to me, his essential being pulsing in his big strong ginger dappled baby bottomed hands. ‘Aw hell’ I mutter. ‘Gotta eat my meat and veg all over again.'”. 

3.

“Fifty teases me with his helicopter blades promising to Julienne fry me. Trussed up in my panties and a turkey halter, I can only give thanks for my incredible luck. Rich assholes are so hard to come by and this one, if I’m real, real good, is for life. ‘Pass me the colander darling. I want to wear it on my head’ Fifty laughs. My hands aren’t free so how can I position a chapeau? “I’ll free you goose,” Fifty promises, as soon as I take my blue pill.” A young man, he’s taken a beating so I forgive him a Pfizer. I wait patiently, marking time with a reminder to write the drug company a thank you for making my led zeppelin a reality. “Baby, baby, hit me again” I squeal, longing for his sordid touch. Sacred and profane, there aint nothining like a good old fashion stroppin before the break of day.”

Etc and more rubbish.