Need it Now

September 13th, 2014

The Need It Now mentally is something we encounter, whether from ourselves or someone else insisting that yesterday was too late.

As a writer I have certainly appreciate deadlines. Sometimes the publisher has “requested” that I proof read and send back the final copy as soon as convenient. That is code for you don’t need to do anything else but proof read. Sleep is overrated.

An example of wanting something done quick but it might cost you was a sign I saw at a print shop that stated “We can do Cheap, Fast, and Quality. Please pick two out of the three”.

Food is no exception to fast, obviously with the abundance of lunch time restaurants; all with shiny, bright coloured plastic furniture. Grocery stores sell lots of frozen food that can cooked in minutes and even pre-cooked meals. During one shopping trip my wife was looking for pudding mix. I found it and passed it over to her, which initiated the following conversation:

Her, “Is it instant pudding?”

Me, “It is for me. I just give the box to you and it’s done.”

A woman passing by mentioned that she would’ve kicked her husband if he said that. Her husband laughed, having a better sense of humour than she did. (I really was just joking.)

In our rush to have things immediately, maybe we have to take time to realize, like the printing shop sign, we can’t expect to have it all.

Patent Pending

March 22nd, 2014

I have taken notice of an interesting trend in companies patenting anything and everything they can think of. I believe it was Apple that first made me pay attention to this protectionist policy, but likely it was occurring long before. It is certainly making patent lawyers richer.

Some of the more interesting patents I’ve seen are Apple’s contention they invented the rectangle with round corners (apparently everyone else must now make mobile phones circular), a research company trying to patent human DNA, and someone applied a patent for using a swing (seriously- the swing is to go side to side instead of front to back).

Not to be undone, Tim Horton’s (Canada’s coffee giant) has a patent pending for a cardboard coffee cup sleeve (patent 2458487).  You say the coffee sleeve has been in use for years (see Apple’s rectangular design)? You are surely mistaken. This is a new and improved cardboard sleeve, although the difference in design escapes my scrutiny.

All of the above has inspired me to patent the obvious. I have applied a patent for rectangular shaped (sharp corners as not to infringe on Apple) pieces of paper layered together with each page containing printed information. A heavier stock of paper, with artwork, will protect the paper. I shall name this invention “The Book”.

Don’t laugh. I’m planning to patent the e-book next.

Writing on the Road

March 22nd, 2014

Writing can be a challenge at times to find the opportunity to put words down. At home there are a lot of distractions but generally speaking I can find an hour here and there to put together a story. I’m also a traveling salesman. I sell wine, beer and spirits to liquor stores and restaurants. My territory covers several cities and occasionally I to make a road trip.

I don’t mind the travel. I crank up the stereo and roll down the highway. It’s also a fairly sociable industry; I mean it’s rather easy to have a conversation over a sample of wine or liquor. I’m not saying it isn’t work. One has to be prepared to describe the advantages over a product currently on the shelf or menu. At the end of the day I’m quite happy to grab a bite to eat and relax in the hotel room. Sometimes I’m even lucky enough to find a worthwhile program on TV.

A bonus is I have some quiet time to write, and after meeting a few customers I have some new characters to incorporate in future stories. I don’t take the whole character and drop him or her into a story, but rather take a few features and make up a new personality. Let’s say a more pleasant Frankenstein’s monster. As for names, I sometimes look at the pile of business cards I have, grab a first name from one and find a last name from another. There; a new character with a new name. I wish the story was as easy to write.  

Describing characters

February 27th, 2014

 

 

 

A few weekends ago I was sitting at a table in a lounge at the Hotel MacDonald, with a few other acquaintances. We had all spent a long evening at the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival, pouring drinks and being as pleasant as possible to our customers. It’s a fun event, but can be rather tiring standing on your feet and smiling.  

The conversation shifted around, and it came out I was also a writer. Questions were directed on how I would describe individuals and scenes. A pretty young lady asked me how I would depict a good looking man.

A good question. I haven’t clue sometimes what women consider a good looking man. Oh, to be sure I’ve heard them describe a sexy man. Apparently, if you add all the various female opinions together you will get a tall man who is clean shaven with a facial hair, dark hair that might have some grey, dark eyes that are blue, quiet with a deep voice, strong without being muscled bound, forceful and sensitive, and a gentleman who rides a Harley. He wears blue jeans and a white shirt and a suit. No problem putting that into one package.

“So how would you describe a good looking man?” She asked.

I hardly hesitated. “I would make him tall. That covers three-quarters of what women want.”

She nodded, although I was expecting an argument.

“How about a woman?”

I was talking to a group of ladies here. Was I really going to say a busty blonde with long legs? Curves that make you forget there was such a thing as straight lines? Black lace and tight leather? No, I played it safe.

“Long hair and soft eyes.”

The lady smiled. I passed the test, although I suspect she knew I was holding back information. It’s okay to describe men as physical objects, but don’t do that for women. Or at least to another woman.

A couple of drinks later I bid everyone goodnight. Another day of pouring Warsteiner beer lay ahead and I needed some energy to make it through tomorrow. Those ladies I had drinks with would look good no matter how tired they are. Me, not so much. I need to be awake to figure which tie goes with my shirt.  

The Pill and the Cold

February 19th, 2014

Do I take the blue pill or the white one? That may simple at first, but at the time I had a head cold. My eyes were not fully focusing and the brain a bit slow in solving logic.

I had a few pills left over from the a box of cold medicine – lower box in the pic-, just the blue pills meant for nighttime use. So I picked up a package of Tylenol daytime/nighttime pills from the drugstore.

The older package used light for daytime and blue for night. Tylenol used blue for daytime and light for nighttime. Reversed. Tylenol also put the white nighttime pill on a blue background. I made a mistake and took a white pill for daytime. My wife thought I was being lazy for not wanting to go to the mall on a Saturday with our two grandsons. Honestly, I was really tired – that is my official excuse (even though I don’t like going to the mall at anytime, let alone a Saturday).

All is better now. I gave up on the pills and had a double shot of whiskey instead. Cold germs died under the assault of the alcohol. There wasn’t any confusion on the colour  either. In fact I feel well enough to go to the mall, if my wife still wants my company.

A Road Withiut End

September 9th, 2013

My wife and I drove down to Penticton, BC, for a wedding. The weather was fantastic and the wedding a lot of fun. I managed to visit a few wineries and, of course, brought back a few bottles to enjoy later.

I was able to do a bit of writing. I’m nearing the end of a novel, which is going to be the first of a trilogy. More on that later, because I want to ask who is the twit who designs the BC highway system? I don’t like to rant, but it’s deplorable the highway we had to use to return to Alberta.

Who thought that having a highway go through the city of Kelowna with a dozen traffic lights was a good idea? Traffic jammed from one set of lights to another– hasn’t anyone there heard of a bypass or a freeway? I felt I was back in the sixties. Once you leave Kelowna you’re placed in a two lane highway that twists around mountains with few chances to pass. You follow fifty other vehicles behind trucks and campers that have trouble with the grade. Some desperate drivers pass on solid lines. The laughable signs tell you to slow down to when you reach a curve as you travel at half that speed. It is a road without an end.

Friends, it is a tiring, long and an unsafe journey going to and from BC. Now you may say it is difficult to make a four lane or add passing lanes in the mountains. Well, Alberta, with a smaller population, does it. Once you leave BC and enter Alberta, you just cruise along the four lanes through the mountains. Welcome to the twenty-first century.

Back to the writing, where I do have a bit of a dilemma. This is the first book, so I can’t finish everything  obviously. But how much closure do I need? I don’t like book series where the hero is left with his life hanging by a thread in the first volume, but at the same time I understand the author wanting to leave enough of a mystery so the reader will want to buy the next book. So I shall try to make book one as much as a standalone as possible while leaving enough mystery so the reader can choose to find out more if they desire.

I can assure you the first book will be a good read, something a passenger can read during the road without an end.

 

Witch names

August 11th, 2013

Writing a story line involves working with several parameters. One is obviously the plot, its pace, enough detail to present a picture without dragging out the words and finally the characters.

The characters have to fit in a mold that works within the story. A fat, grumpy man will not normally be a trapeze artist. They should also have a name that helps identify the character. Sometimes that has more a feel to it than a logical reasoning, but it is critical it doesn’t take away from the story. If the reader doesn’t believe the name suits a character, he, or she, may lose interest in the character.

I’m currently writing a medieval story that has within it a group of witches. Not the broom flying kind, but closer to Wicca (although quite a bit different than that). So I had to come with names that the witches would use, and names for the non-witches. Some characters had their name changed several times until I felt comfortable with it. So here are some of the witches names I did use; Ululla (Female), Yeelin (F), Bruhamoff (M), Elwendia (F), Ardziv (M). My non-witch characters included; King Briebeth (M), Alric (M), Thea (F), Tybalt (M), Agnes(F). I also have an important character called Terrowin, however he is actually a spirit. There are several characters that existed only for a chapter or two, so I have to continually come up with new names. This is book one out of three or four, so it may get interesting on what names I can find for the last book. I think James Bond will sound out of place for a knight in the King’s court.

I had a similar situation when I wrote my Castle series, although it had more of a science fiction element to it. I had a mix of characters from present time with some medieval ones. (I’ve attached the cover of the second book here for self serving promotion. Please forgive me.)
Anyway, if you can think of some nice medieval names, pass them on to me and I may be able to use it.
Jack H. Wear

Women and Colours

July 31st, 2013

One of the problems for writers is to put the correct action and feelings for another person, particularly for one of a different background, culture and definitely gender.

I surmise some information from my own observations. For example I’ve noted women love the colour pink. I know this because I have seen them wear a shirt printed with the words “Love Pink”, although it seems contradictory that the words sometimes are green on a black shirt. Maybe they don’t know what the colour pink actually is. I pretty sure my wife does. The rainbow has seven colours. She knows seven million and I depend on her to match my tie with my shirt.

Among the various colours I’m really baffled with is the number of shades of white. Isn’t white just one colour (or in terms of physics, the reflection of all colours)? Apparently Sir Isaac Newton was naive when he thought splitting sunlight through a prism into a rainbow was a profound discovery. It was just the tip of a very colourful iceberg.

I have learned that a perfectly good colour can become out of fashion. I’m not sure how this happens. Do certain shades of colour get removed from the rainbow? Is there actually a rule against some colours over staying their fashion welcome?

What happens if forest green becomes unfashionable? Will my wife demand we change the tree in our yard because the leaves are last year’s shade? What if the lawn no longer meets this year’s colour trend? If yellow is the new colour, no problem; I’ll just stop watering it.

I’m waiting for the day when black becomes unfashionable. It’ll be interesting to see if New Zealand’s All Blacks Rugby Team would be forced to change their name to something like the All Blues. Until then I’ll leave you with a short poem;

Roses are red

Violets are blue

So sorry neither

colour works for you.

Murder, he walked

May 27th, 2013

 

My wife is an avid dragon boater, spending many evenings going down to river to paddle. I sometimes accompany her, although not to paddle in the boat. Those days are behind me because of a bad neck and shoulders. However, I did write a book on dragon boating, a sort of mystery/fantasy/humorous novel, as a tribute to dragon boating called Dragons in the Water. My reason for going down is to take a walk along the river valley trails, and lately to ponder how to add more elements to a murder mystery I’m writing.

I find the air and walking along the river allows my mind to think objectively about the story, where the plot weakness lies and how to refine a character or two. People passing by give me odd looks as I mumble “I shall kill him with a knife” or “I shall discover who you are”. I assume they must have a guilty conscience, or they wouldn’t be worried about what I said.

The trails are fun to walk along, and are a mixture of asphalt and gravel and dirt. The trails marked “Closed. Danger due to erosion.” especially intriguing to explore and helps keep the mind alert. Also, there are less people to hear my mumblings about death.

The only problem with the river valley trails is that eventually I have to climb out of the valley to the agreed meeting place with my wife. That final set of stairs can be tough. As I’m the one usually waiting, I get to pick the spot. That turns out to be a bar, where I can replace those lost calories on my ten kilometer walk.

Anyway, here’s to murder, walking and a cold beer.

A Blast of Summer

May 14th, 2013

The Blast of Summer

I live in Edmonton, a city fairly far north. Actually I think we’re the same latitude as Moscow, so we have a similar climate. Cold winters without the benefit of cheap vodka. So after a long winter, we look forward to spring. This year the weatherman forgot to put spring in his daytimer, because one weekend we had snow flurries with the temperature around 5c (41f) and the following weekend the temperature jumped to 30c (86f).

So we went from shoveling snow to dragging rakes across along lawn, trying to tear out the snow mold and dead grass. The sound of lawnmowers and other equipment filled the neighbourhood. BBQs come back to life and pale legged women walked down the streets in shorts.

My wife and I hauled out the patio furniture, did the yard cleanup and did some planting (she did the planting; I can’t the difference between a dandelion and tulip until it blooms). I changed the oil in the lawnmower, repaired a rain barrel- water left in it over winter burst the base- washed the siding and got the water fountains working again. There’s more, but the gist of it when our short summer arrives, we hustle to get everything out and ready.

Honestly, if you went around our neighbourhood, I doubt you could tell a couple of weeks ago we were still wearing winter coats with snow covering the ground.

I’m actually typing on my laptop right now outside on the patio, something I haven’t done since October. I took time out from the murder mystery I’m writing to do this blog, but will dive into it again soon.

Summer is time for reading. I’m reading two books. One is Day Into Night by Dave Hugelschaffer, a mystery/detective novel. It’s a little long winded, but a good read. The other is Physics on the Fringe by Margaret Wertheim, a fascinating account of alternate theories of physics. Both are good books and I can recommend them, although I’d prefer if you were to take a look at my Castle trilogy, a science fiction adventure to alternate world.

Enjoy your summer. Good books a must. Wine optional.