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cartoons humor poetry Weird Wednesday

Weird Wednesday

Last Wednesday I shared the origins trailer that I put together: “The Miniscules: Origins” .I’ll let you get caught up.

Back? Nice. Here is the next installment of the Miniscules recap.

Yes, I posted one twice. Just copied it from my old site.
This one still makes me laugh. I don’t know why, it’s not that funny…
October. Get it?
The last one didn’t involve any ‘scules, but I needed to draw it. Thank you, Alex.

And finally, no Weird Wednesday would be complete without some “creatures”

Left alone to their own devices
Survival is inevitable
Adaptation is necessary
To perish not an option

Weird enough for ya?

-Leon


Leon Stevens is a composer, artist, and author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

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poetry writers

New Poets

Are you a poet? If you write poetry, then yes, you are. You don’t have to be publish or even share your creations. Keep them close to your heart if that’s what is needed in your life. Release them into the world like a flock of doves or a bunch of balloons when you are ready to share your visions with the world.

Poetry is painting with words, just as music is painting with sounds. Perception is subjective and one person’s viewpoint can radically differ from that of another. Poems add an extra layer, telling the reader that there are alternate ways of thinking about a place, situation, or a state of mind.

The world looks distinctly different depending on what time of day you are out. I’m a morning person now, but I’ve done my time as a night owl. I enjoy running or biking early and late. The morning quiet is not the same as evening quiet.
  
 Untitled 
 
 Sun on the horizon breaks
 The birth of a day
 As the world awakes
 Birds stir
  
 Middle of the day
 Lifetime a world away
 Brightness blinds
 Unless clouds hide
 Blue sky
  
 Life slows
 Darkness grows
 A shroud of stars
 Drawn over the earth
 Sleep until the dawn calls
 A new rebirth 

So, keep writing, share when you want to, and look at the world like no one else can.

-Leon


Poets: Have a book you want to promote? Want to reach new readers? Submit your reader magnet to this my created promo on StoryOrigin:


Leon Stevens is a composer, artist, and author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

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music music Monday poetry readers writers

Music Monday

Book trailers. Got one? If you have released a book, you have probably at least thought about it. Do you need one? I don’t think it is necessary, but it doesn’t hurt.

When I was working on my poetry book, part of the package was a book trailer. Now, did I want to leave the entire process in the hands of a team I did not know? I didn’t want to give up that much control so I put together a rough trailer and sent it off to the production team.

I knew that I wanted to showcase the illustrations in the book, and to let the reader know, I wrote this short description: This book has words to encourage you, to make you laugh, and to invite you to reflect. With each chapter, a lens opens, revealing a different observation. I slightly modified it to match each frame that I chose.

I then used an acoustic guitar composition that I had been working on-it took a while to record it (I keep making too many mistakes when I’m under pressure), but eventually I had it ready. Then came the rain. The rain sounds, that is. I added them for two reasons. First, as a calming intro/outro to the video, and second-and I’m not embarrassed to admit it, to mask any little background sounds. But more for the beautiful sound of rain. Don’t you just love walking in a rain shower?

So, I sent off my idea, and after a bit of back and fourth, I had my book trailer. Sometimes I just listen to it for the music…

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readers writers

Sunday Story Share

I thought that I would share one of my short stories in my book, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. It’s the longest one I had written up to that point. For dramatic purposes, I’m going to split it up into three chapters to post each Sunday. I hope you enjoy.

Chapter One

The handwritten note on the dashboard read: Not Abandoned. This was a nice courtesy to others, but unnecessary since the car was parked in the parking lot at the head of a popular hiking trail called The Ridge. My curiosity piqued, I studied the vehicle—looking for what, I don’t know. It was a little dusty, probably a result of the dirt road, not the kind of dust that accumulates after several rains and drying winds, which we had experienced recently—two, three days ago? I wasn’t sure, but it had to be at least two. I had reluctantly put off my hike to avoid rain. I usually don’t mind hiking in inclement weather; it keeps the other hikers away. But The Ridge is notorious for looking like a muddy river on days like that.

There was no camping along the trail. Once you got past the easier first section, it was a difficult out and back, which according to the trail sign should be a half-day hike, about six hours. I once did it in three. I had come close to repeating that speed a few times, but that day was my crowning glory. Now, in my sixties, I usually finished it in four.

Since I wasn’t there as an investigator, I checked my backpack: water, jerky, M&Ms, half a baked potato, and my first-aid kit. And my knife. Never go without a knife, was what my father taught me. I saw only one other car in the lot. The couple it belonged to were starting out just as I pulled in, so that gave them a twenty-minute head start. Not that it was a race or anything; I just liked to know these things. I was sure to catch up with them. OK, it’s kinda a race, I thought.

After kneeling to tighten my laces, I did a few stretches—getting older sucks—and started up the path. The first section of the Ridge trail is wide and hard-packed. Most people go to the first lookout, take a few pictures, and head back. It is a stunning view. The trees stretch upward, providing a decent amount of shade, while letting in magnificent shafts of light that give the forest a surreal quality.

It took only half an hour to get there. I’d been expecting to see the couple making out on the bench and was pleased to have been wrong. Leaning on the rail, I took a drink of water and started to chew on the jerky. No matter how many times I’d come up here, I was always blown away by the view: the valley, the mountains rising along the river, and the sea of green forest as far as the eye can see.

After the lookout, the trail begins to rise steadily. A bit narrower, a few more rocks and roots to put you off balance. But I had grown to know where each and every one was. One rock, right in the middle of the path, is so smooth and black from all the shoes stepping on it that it is almost as reflective as a mirror. At about 11 a.m., depending on the time of year, it seems to glow. I had been on this trail a lot.

As the terrain on the left side of the trail begins to drop away, the incline on the right gets steeper. Most hikers hug the right side as they’re going up. I always kind of liked the feeling of being on the edge, so I was a lefty this day. It had surprised me to learn that no one had ever died on this trail. Lots of injuries, though. I have a scar to prove it.

The hikers in front of me must have been moving at a good pace. I should be able to hear their voices, I thought, since sound carries in this valley. Despite the heat, and breathing harder than usual, I picked up my speed a bit. I took another sip of water and a then few bites of potato for a little more energy.

I was lost in my thoughts. Looking at my watch, I saw that I had been hiking for an hour and a half, which meant I was getting close to the end. I felt I exceeded my normal pace. A little competition will do that. I decided to stop and listen for voices. Nothing.

After another twenty minutes, I finally heard voices. It sounded like they were getting closer. Rounding the corner, I saw a woman and a man coming toward me. Knowing the narrowness of the path and the steep bank, I called out, “What side do you want to pass on?”

“We’ll take the inside,” the woman replied. “Chickenshit here gets a little dizzy!”

He slapped her on the shoulder and said, “I tripped on that root and nearly fell over! Excuse me for being cautious.”

“Been there, done that, and I have the scar to prove it!” The three of us laughed. “Have a good one,” I said as they passed me.

“You, too,” he said back. In a few minutes, I was alone again. I completely forgot to ask them about the car, I thought. They probably would have mentioned it, wouldn’t they have, if they had seen something?

Finally, I arrived at the trail end, marked by a stone and concrete wall with a metal railing, which must have been quite the task to build. There were still old wooden posts sticking up through the ground, remnants of a wall that had to be replaced after the avalanche twenty-five years ago. I sat for a moment, had a drink, and looked around. From here, a person had three choices: go back, go down (straight down), or up (straight up). I got up and walked to the metal railing, then turned and looked up at the sheer rock face.

A free climber could probably scale it, but I have never seen any attempts. I brushed my hand along the rail, following it to where it met up with the mountain. That left my palm quite dusty, so I brushed my hands together and then wiped them on my shorts. Not wanting to leave the rest of the railing unwiped, I began to run my hand back along the top, then stopped. Looking closely, I confirmed there was a boot print in the dust on top of the rail. A jumper? Peering down, I had a moment of vertigo, which surprised me since I’d been here before. If someone had jumped or fallen, there was no possibility of survival—or discovery. I looked over the edge and could see there was a bit of a ridge protruding from the cliff, about two feet below the wall.

I backed up a bit to see if I could tell how far it went along the rock face. It seemed to curve around a vertical shaft of rock. There was a narrow crack above, paralleling the ridge. A brave soul could possibly inch along, with fingers twisted into the gap, but to where?

I looked at my watch: 3:43. Plenty of time to get back before dusk. My curiosity fought with my good sense. I’d done some climbing before, but always supported. I looked around and spotted a long branch lying by the path. Grabbing it, I returned to the wall. I poked down to the ridge to see how stable it was. It was about an inch wide to start, then narrowed as it approached the corner. I used the branch to flick some of the loose material away and watched the tiny rocks fall to the valley below.

 Except for one.

(Tune in next Sunday!)


Leon Stevens is a composer, artist, and author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, and Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

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humor readers thoughts writers

Survey: Reader or Writer?

I enjoy reading the different blogs on WordPress (and others), but I consider myself primarily as a writer. So, what are you? Take my short but entertaining survey:

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poetry readers writers

Let’s Talk!

Earlier this week I blogged about reader engagement on book blogs. https://linesbyleon.com/2021/01/19/tuesday-thoughts-book-blogging-to-tour-or-not-to-tour-and-free-stuff/ If you don’t want to read the whole thing here is the main point:

“What is the main thing I am looking for in a book blog? Engagement. If my book/book review is featured on a site and there are no comments, can we assume that no one saw it? Books need to be talked about. Not dissected, just discussed. Out of ~100 book blogs I visited, less than ten had actual conversations about the featured books. You know who you are because I emailed you to compliment you on your blog (and ask to be featured, of course). Some bloggers may not want that level of engagement, which is OK too.

Which got me thinking about engagement on my pages. I write to entertain, to put into words what others may not be able to, to share my experiences, and to show my love of writing. So, for a limited time, I’m going to let anyone download my sample copy of my poetry book without an email/newsletter opt-in. The only caveat is that we discuss the poems or writing process. I’ll set up a page for that purpose.

Sounds like a plan? I hope so!

Download: Excerpts from the book – Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

I have set up a discussion page, so feel free to download the book and make any comments or questions that you have, here: https://linesbyleon.com/discussion-blog/

Hope to see you there!

Categories
funny friday humor writers

Funny Friday

Quick! Say something funny. No pressure, right? Humor can be spontaneous or crafted. Either method will result in something. Notice that I didn’t say ‘something funny.’ Humor is so subjective, as I talked about here: Humor/Humour

I have been approaching different book bloggers to do drum up exposure for my books. Some of them have allowed me to submit guest posts. To stand out, I came up with the idea of interviewing myself because who knows me better than me?

My most recent interview was for thestoryreadingapeblog.com, and for you who missed it, I thought I would share it because it still makes me giggle a bit.

OK. You figured it out. I woke up this morning without a post for today…Nothing wrong with recycling. Enjoy!

-Leon

Leon Stevens Interviews Leon Stevens (again)

Hello. I’m Leon Stevens, and I’m sitting here with author Leon Stevens who has written two books, Lines by Leon-Poems, Prose and Pictures, and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. Well, here we are again.

It seems that way.

You wrote down a list of questions for the guest post on thestoryreadingapeblog.com. Where did you come across that site?

Through my WordPress blog. I was reading a repost of a book marketing article.

How is your blog coming along?

Better than I thought. I’ve been writing something almost daily.

Nice. Shall we get to the questions?

Fire away.

Now bear in mind I do know all these answers, so try to forget who I am.

I wish I could.

[silence]

I’ll let that pass. Question 1: Have you always been a writer?

Not until I learned how to hold a pencil, if that’s what you mean.

It’s not…I meant writing on order to get published.

Ahh, no. I don’t recall wanting to write until I needed to. I began to write songs and song lyrics to get my thoughts and emotions onto paper, which evolved into poetry.

Do you consider yourself a poet?

I suppose. Poetry is one aspect of my writing, but I think that if you write poetry, then you are a poet. Some people might think that if you are a “real” poet, then that’s all you do, describe the world through verse.

Do you read a lot of poetry?

Not really. I don’t think it’s a prerequisite to writing meaningful works. Maybe it’s a way to be unique.

Do you think you are unique?

I think we all are-except for you and me. 

Shouldn’t that be: You and I?

Who knows?. Or is it Whom knows? No. It’s who knows.

Don’t we all love grammar?

Oh boy, do we ever!

Question #2—

Actually, it’s question #7. Go back and read the transcript.

[silence]

Next question, then. What do you write about then?

I write poems about emotions, struggles, ego, environment, travel, and everyday experiences. Some poems have a humorous edge to them.

Example?

Of?

Something humorous from your book.

Umm. I wrote this one about a sock:

The Sock

Is there anything lonelier than discarded clothing?

A sign of disappointment, of rejection, of loathing

Threadbare and stained, no fight left within

Wondering what events caused this great sin

Did you wear out your welcome, what did you do?

Was it a weakness of cotton

That allowed the big toe to come through?

Was it your owner’s odd gait that wore through the heel?

Taking the blame, how did that feel?

Was your partner discarded or saved for another

Pair that shares the same fate and just the right color?

Are all your poems light-hearted?

No. There are many that are much deeper emotionally, but it is nice to be able to take a break and laugh.

Your latest book is a science fiction book. Why the change in genre?

Science fiction has always been my favorite, and I had all these ideas kicking around.

Why short stories?

Why not.

Care to elaborate?

Some of my earliest memories of reading was short science fiction, either reading it or listening to my father making up stories at bedtime.

He made up stories for you?

I thought he did. I would come across stories as I was reading years later that I could have sworn I had read before, but then I realized that he had told those ones to me.

So he passed them off as his own?

Well, he didn’t say they were not, and I never asked, so no plagiarism there.

Any other reason for writing short stories?

When I have an idea and start to write, my stories seem to come to a natural conclusion sooner rather than later. There is a challenge to writing short, though. Developing characters to the minimum, letting the reader fill in the details of the setting, and I think successful short stories either end with a twist or leave the reader thinking.

Your shortest story?

The title story The Knot at the End of the Rope is 175 words. I have some stories in my poetry book, the shortest one there is 41, but it’s more of a caption to a picture than a story.

So, if you don’t have time to read a novel…

Exactly.

Any other projects on the go?

I do have a book of classical guitar compositions, and I am currently working on a continuation of one of my short stories. It’s up to 12000 words so far.

So, not a short story then.

It will probably finish up being a novella, but you never know.

I do.

You do?

Naw. This has been fun as usual. Thank you for sparing the time to sit down and talk to me.

You knew I wasn’t doing anything anyway.

True. Coffee?

Please.

Categories
cartoons humor Just plain weird Weird Wednesday

Weird Wednesday: The Miniscules-Origins

When I started The Miniscules it was just an avenue for some strange ideas that I had in my head. sometimes they got into predicaments because of their size, then later they became embroiled with current events. With a bit of time on my hands, and in answer to many queries like, “Where did the Miniscules come from?”, I decided to use my rudimentary skills to produce what I like to call: “a waste of a few hours of my day…

Now to continue your refresher of The Miniscules so far:

I changed my Instagram account from @theminiscules to @lines_by_leon to keep my branding consistent.
I found an old one that I hadn’t posted before.
A mix of funny, older, and current events
And then the return to school

So, there you go. I hope that you enjoy The Miniscules as much as I do.

-Leon

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poetry readers writers

Tuesday Thoughts: Book blogging-To Tour or Not to Tour (and free stuff)

Oops, I did it again. Not really an oops, I meant to do it. This week I spent time visiting book blogs and blog tour sites. As an independent author, I spend more time looking for new ways to reach readers, marketing, and all that stuff than I do writing sometimes. Marketing is exhausting. Physically- fingers, back, and eyes, and mentally- my brain hurts after a while. Now don’t get me wrong, I know it’s a part of being an author, and I have met some really cool people and seen some great blog pages.

After my first book came out, I looked at doing a book blog tour but was overwhelmed by the choices available. Being a new author, I wanted to do things right, but as a frugal (cheap) person, I didn’t want to make the wrong decision and throw away money. One of the challenges in marketing is to find the best avenues to put your budgeted amount. Really, it comes down to finding “the best bang for your buck” (I don’t know why I put that in quotations. I suppose someone coined that phrase).

As I usually do, I over-analyze things. When flat-screen T.V.s came out, it took me two years to buy one-which in the end saved me money since the prices went from over $1000 to under $500. I still kept Mr. Cathode-Ray Tube for many, many years before becoming a full flat-screen household. Man, that guy was heavy to carry out.

But I digress.

Each blog tour I looked at had its pros and cons. One review said “Great!” while another said, “Don’t waste your money.” Like book reviews, these are all subjective, but it is still hard to part with money that may be more effective elsewhere-or not. Arrgh.  

I looked at blog tour posts on many sites. Some stops had no likes or comments. If I were to participate in a blog tour, would I be assigned stops with a decent amount of traffic? So I began to revisit book blogs. I did this last year, so I thought it was time to do it again. Is this a lot of work? Oh, yes, but I think the time spent is worth it. I mentioned earlier that there are many avid readers doing their part to spread the enjoyment of the written word. I am glad that people are willing to spend time informing their followers of all the excellent works out there, especially from indie authors.

What is the main thing I am looking for in a book blog? Engagement. If my book/book review is featured on a site and there are no comments, can we assume that no one saw it? Books need to be talked about. Not dissected, just discussed. Out of ~100 book blogs I visited, less than ten had actual conversations about the featured books. You know who you are because I emailed you to compliment you on your blog (and ask to be featured, of course). Some bloggers may not want that level of engagement, which is OK too.

Which got me thinking about engagement on my pages. I write to entertain, to put into words what others may not be able to, to share my experiences, and to show my love of writing. So, for a limited time, I’m going to let anyone download my sample copy of my poetry book without an email/newsletter opt-in. The only caveat is that we discuss the poems or writing process. I’ll set up a page for that purpose.

Sounds like a plan? I hope so!

Download: Excerpts from the book – Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

Categories
humor music music Monday thoughts

Music Monday: Sell-out or Just Business?


A few news stories have come out over the last few weeks about musicians selling the rights to their song catalogs. Now, this is nothing new, one of the first bombshells was when Michael Jackson purchased some of The Beatles songs – which I believe were repurchased years later. Recently, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Mick Fleetwood have all sold parts of their own catalogs.

Why is it good business to own song rights? $$$$$$. Royalties are paid every time a song is played/performed publicly. Radio (yes, we still have that), online streaming, T.V. (yes, we still have that too), and movies are some examples. Ever wonder why you only hear snippets of songs during your favorite sports events? After a certain amount of time, royalties need to be paid, so the venue plays 10-15 seconds. Loophole? Maybe. But the first 10-15 seconds of Thunderstruck is the best part. Come to think about it, it is the only part. Why do you hear weird variations on that birthday song in restaurants? You guessed it-royalties.

I don’t remember the first time I heard a song that I liked used in a commercial. I do remember that many years ago (no, I’m not telling) cries of “Sell-out!” were repeated by music fans when the bands that they loved allowed popular songs to be used to sell…whatever. It’s not so surprising now–it’s just business. Can we fault an artist for trying to make money? OK, don’t answer that. That’s a whole new can o’ worms.

What can I handle? I can tolerate a song being used in its original form to sell a truck, insurance, banking services, or whatnot, but please, please, if you sell your song, sell the lyrics as well. Don’t know what I’m getting at? One of my favorite songs is–was–Rocket Man by Elton John. Now, when I hear that song, all I think about is the lady who “…shops at Rakutan”. Thanks a bunch, Elton.

Given the opportunity, would I sell the rights to my songs? Probably. Maybe. It depends. If my creations made me a decent wage that allowed me not to want for anything (FYI–that’s a low bar. I’m very frugal), I don’t think that I would. Never say never, though, right?

So, for all you restaurants looking for a cheap alternative to The Birthday Song, for only $0.27/use, I present to you, Happy, Happy Birthday:

 
 Happy, happy, happy,
 Birthday, birthday, birthday
 You were born [insert number here] years ago
 Happy, happy, happy,
  Birthday, birthday, birthday
 We’ll stop here 
 So we don’t have to pay… 

Darn, I didn’t think this through…

-Leon