I heard a song the other day and it reminded me of a past event. The odd thing was that I had never heard it before, yet it made me reminisce. I guess that the words or the melody fit into my memories so that I could picture myself experiencing it in a different time.
It has happened when I write music as well. I was sitting playing my acoustic guitar when I came up with this short piece. There was something about it that evoked a sense of sadness or loss, to the point that I teared up as I played. I did finally finish it up—it was short, but I didn’t feel a need to make it longer.
Later, it reminded me of a poem I wrote for a friendship, that despite my many efforts, I have deemed lost. The fact that I couldn’t salvage the relationship makes me sad. We had fun together and I’m going to miss that. I would love for them to see it. I sometimes I imagine, like in a movie, that they stumble across it, and I know that they will know it is about them.
I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?
Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.
Free Short Story
I posted this yesterday, so if you missed it, you can read it here:
If you don’t have a book listed on Amazon, this may look a bit odd. This is my sales rank for my free sample book: Excerpts from the book Lines By Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures . As you can see, it doesn’t take long to shoot to the top (it got as high as #2 in one of the categories), and just as quickly it can plummet out of sight. It depends on how many sales the competitors in the category have against yours. So, if you want the free Kindle version, click the above link or feel free to pass it on!
Just for comparison, here is my sci-fi book:
Every time there is a sale, you can see the jump, followed by a decline until the next. I think the highest it got was #250.
I came across writing prompts on the site Reedsy which were all about windows. I remembered that I had written a poem about a window during National Poetry Month. I looked it over and thought that it would make a good short story, so I began to transform poem to story.
When I finished, I revisited the prompts (there were five different ones), but they were not quite fitting, so I didn’t think that I could submit it for the contest. I hope you enjoy it.
“I wish that I could smile, but then I look back at each receding mile.” –from I’m Sorry by Leon Stevens
I remember seeing my childhood home disappear behind the climbing tree. As my sister and I got older—and braver—we would climb higher through the prickly, sappy branches until reaching the point where you could feel it sway. We had built forts in it, each one a bit better than the last, but each with its own problems. The branches were so thick and long that they could be slid down like a slide until Father trimmed the lower ones. My father built the house with just the essential tools, the labor of friends, and his love of creation.
When I finally left for college, the last vision of the town where I grew up was the paper mill belching out its white smoke— which was mostly water vapor—but it sure smelled bad, especially on hot days. The river at the bottom of the hill I had just crested foamed with effluent from the plant. I wonder when they will clean that up, I thought. In the end, it didn’t really matter because I had no plans of returning.
My first college dorm fades into the brownstone facades, and I reach over to turn on the radio to hear for the final time the station that was all the rage in town. My sister, who had driven the twenty hours to get me, fills me in on the news of the family, and we begin to reminisce. Later, the static takes over from the music, and I close my eyes to get some sleep before it is my turn to drive.
My apartment with the narrow stairs is slowly hidden by the trees in the neighbor’s yard. My grandmother refused to visit me, as she called it a deathtrap. The landlord never shoveled the walk or the stairs, and I was too stubborn to take it upon myself to do it. It was small—and cheap, perfect for me. Maybe I was secretly hoping that I would slip and fall.
She had her plans, and I had mine. Neither of us was willing to sacrifice what we each believed to be the correct path. There were long nights spent in heated debates, with tears being shed by both parties.
I didn’t know what love was at the time, or maybe it was right there in front of me. Did she turn and walk away, or did she look for my brake lights? I’ll never know.
Passports? We don’t need no passports. At least then we didn’t. That was before, well...before. Was I surprised we were waved into the garage? No, but we had nothing to hide. We were just two cocky 20somethings deciding it would be cheaper on gas to go home this way. It didn’t help that we couldn’t stop making jokes. Four hours later and we cross the border again, this time with a more serious demeanor. We pulled away from the border guard, wondering why we didn’t buy cheap booze and smokes—what a bunch of dummies.
I don’t know why it took so long to get a roommate, but when I did, I didn’t skimp. I moved in with eight other people, some that I knew, some that I didn’t, others I would get to know too well, therefore making things awkward, and one that nobody got along with, but we were all fine with taking the one-hundred and seventy-five each month. When the sink filled up with dishes, we just microwaved everything or ordered in. I’m not the last to leave. The waving line dwindles as I drive away.
I must have missed the point when the mountains yielded to the flat golden prairie. All my life, I had wanted to see the towering peaks, to hike along the switchbacks up to the glacier-fed lake. By the time I got to the end of the trail, it was time to head back to the boat that bought myself—and way too many others—to this side of the river across from the town. I never saw the mountains again. I guess I forgot to look back in time.
Ascending the road that leads away from the ocean, I think about watching the sunset from the hotel balcony, a glass of wine in hand. The paths along the water skirted the wharf with all the fancy boats, meandered by the multitude of condominium towers, and separated the sand from the street before ending at the seafood restaurant next to the giant redwood. I reach the top of the hill, and I am on my way once again.
It’s fast. Real fast. Six lanes of asphalt and even the far-right lane is insane. I need to take advantage of this moment, so I press my foot down and start moving left. I close the gap on the car in front of me. There are still cars whizzing by. I check my mirror and prepare to pass but am thwarted by yet another.
Finally, I am at a speed that I have never been before, and I make the decision to stay in the second to last lane for the duration of the trip. Time passes as rapidly as my velocity. My passenger taps me on the shoulder and points to the off-ramp sign. Three minutes later, I’m back where I belong —in the right-hand lane. My signal announces that this thrill ride is now over, and I leave the autobahn behind.
Driving is like moving forward in time. You can see the future ahead of you, and it keeps getting closer, yet each time you see it and prepare for it, there is another on the horizon taking its place. The moments pass by the window so quickly, there seems to be no time to savor the present because once you do, it is already gone. Often, we are so concerned with the future that we forget that the past holds the lessons and memories that have led to this point, and I am sometimes filled with envy that the rear window has seen the last of all my firsts.
Do you believe in UFOs? Well you should because they are real. “C’mon…really?” you ask. Well, there are things that people see in the sky that are not able to be identified, so, yes. “I thought you meant, like… aliens.” Did I say aliens? “No,” you say poutingly. What about UAPs? “You’re not getting me with that one.”
What are UAPs? Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon. “That’s just the same thing with a different name.” You’re right. That’s government for ya.
OK. I admit that I watch “Ancient Aliens”. Pyramids, Megaliths, Monoliths, Nazca lines, and all that stuff. When, as a kid, I first saw the face on mars, I thought” Holy s%*#” – well, I probably didn’t swear, maybe I said “Holy guacamole”. Now I know it’s just a big hill, but it was fascinating at the time.
It is pretty amazing how some 5000 year old structures are so perfectly crafted, with tight seams, 90 degree angles, and smooth sides, but is that evidence or just dedication to detail?
Recently, the US government released a statement saying that the Armed Forces have been witness to many UAPs and have declassified several videos shot from fighter jets and aircraft carriers.
Is that proof? Not unless you think poor resolution, grainy, grey-scale video is proof. Why can we never get a good picture? Doesn’t the government have access to high-tech? I thought we were done with fuzzy pictures with so many hi-def cameras and smartphones around.
Is there other life out there? I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. If there is, they’re just naturally blurry.
I hope you enjoyed “The Day Before”. Guess what’s next?
As you may have surmised, you shouldn’t be expecting your complaints about your teenagers—or your neighbor’s—to justified in the following post. This is about another anomaly we call numbers*
How easy is it to count to 100? Learn 1-10, then all you have to know are 20, 30, 40, etc., and you have 90% of the work done. When you get to twenty, everything falls into a nice, predictable order, unlike the teens that follow a different pattern, like they are defiant to all the rules of societ—Wait. Maybe that’s why teenagers are the way they are.
Let’s list the oddities:
Anomaly #1: The Decades
All the decade numbers from twenty have a -ty, so why not call 10, tenty? Then we have to change 20 to Twoty, 30 to threety, 40 to fourty (why did we lose the ‘u?), 50 to fivety, 60 to sixty —Wait! We’re all good to go after that.
Anomaly #2: Eleven
Except for the ‘n’, it has nothing to do with one. At least twelve has 2/ 3rds of the correct letters. We could call it oneven or onevelve.
Anomaly #3: Twelve
We agree that twelve is more aptly named than eleven, but for argument’s sake, let’s call it twoeven or twoelve.
Anomaly #4: The Teens
Only the 11 and 12 deviate from the -teen pattern, but within the pattern, only 14 and 16-19 are consistent. Still not a majority even if 11-13 and 15 band together to form a voting block. It would make it easier if the teens went: oneteen, twoteen, threeteen, fourteen-, fiveteen, etc.
But wait! Did we not decide earlier that the decades should all have -ty?
Anomaly #5: Majority Rules?
If we take the numbers from 10-99 (we will omit 1-9 because that’s our baseline), then 90% of the numbers follow a pattern, so it should be: tenty-one, tenty-two, tenty-three, etc..
Am I done with getting angry at math? For a little while, at least, until I have to figure out why I can cut something into 3 equal parts and hold 1/3rd of a finite piece in my hand, yet 1/3rd as a decimal is 0.333333333333333333333333333333333333333…
Tell that to angry cat. Just let me step out of the room before you do.
*(There are some cool things about math, but I’ll leave those for a Weird Wednesday)
Did popular music run out of ideas after the first few decades? Last week I wrote about songs that sound the same. Today, we visit how we hear artists reaching back to sample from the musical buffet of the past. Sometimes it is because an artist is heavily influenced by a certain band, or like fashion, certain styles become trendy again.
Some may say the blues never went away, but some musicians made it more popular again from time to time. Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and more recently Gary Clark Jr. have all done their job at showcasing the first real North American style of music.
Folk and Celtic music had a resurgence in the late 80s early 90s, especially in Canada, with bands like Spirit of the West, Great Big Sea, and The Rankin Family, along with the explosion of folk festivals in North America. Now bands such as The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons are carrying on the folk-rock tradition.
When Oasis came out, people drew parallels to The Beatles. I think one of the Gallaghers said that they were what The Beatles would sound like if they hadn’t broken up. I can say that I hear some of that influence.
Do you miss Led Zeppelin? Have a listen to Greta Van Fleet. If you are a purist, then you will definitely have disdain for what they are doing. What are they doing? I think they are doing a fine job of bringing back a unique sound that hasn’t been heard for a while. If music can be reincarnated—here is your proof.
Grunge. You mean Punk, right? C’mon. Weren’t Nirvana and Green Day just The Ramones? For the record, I like all three. Then bands like Linkin Park, Soundgarden, and Limp Biskit add Rap to their heavy grunge/metal sound, bringing in a new audience.
Disco always seems to pop up every so often. You can hear it in some of the beats being used in dance clubs and pop music.
What’s coming back next? If my love of science fiction gives me any clues, there will be one music station—sanctioned by “The One True People’s Conglomerate”—that is broadcast directly into our aural implant (genetically designed, of course—by robots or our alien overlords).
This is not an old post, but it does fit in in with the theme of second chances.
When you walk down your local street, do you see anything interesting? Take that same street, put it in a town you have never been to, and everything is suddenly exciting, isn’t it?
Last year for sure and this year possibly, will be the year of the staycation. With travel options limited, and a lot of people just more wary of travel, now is the perfect time to find some hidden gems in your own community (and the outliers). Think about when you research travel/vacation spots. You look at travel blogs (this one is not), travel guides and more common now, websites such as TripAdvisor.
You look for funky spots to eat/drink, historic sites, unique shopping options, sports venues, and the like. Every city has them, and guess what? So does yours. Really? Why wouldn’t it? Dallas has them, Paris has them, yes, even Medicine Hat*.
Sure, some places may not have the same allure as others, but if you have ever stumbled upon that small coffee/bakery overlooking the stream, found that butcher shop who makes the best hot pepperoni sticks, or that perfect park bench under the willow tree, then you know that there are some places worth visiting.
So, in these times of re-openings, let’s get out and support our local businesses. Go explore a street you have never gone down, visit a local shop you have never been in, head to a neighborhood that you have never visited, stop at the small town you always pass, and pretend you are away from home—which you are when you think about it. Support your local businesses as you would if you were a tourist because the tourists are not coming in droves for awhile.
*50.0292° N, 110.7034° W (It has a really big tepee)
I’ve been trying to write everyday. At least something. Blogging helps because it gives me a schedule of weekly topics. My main writing project, a continuation of one of me short stories into a full length novel, moves ahead like a sputtering car, slow but sometimes jumping ahead in spurts.
If I’m stuck, I will often just write the dialogue, then go back and fill in the thoughts and descriptions. I go back to previous chapters and see where I can elaborate; I am in no danger of having to pair down my word count.
I try to keep track of details, so that I don’t contradict what happened or repeat myself. You would think that since I am writing it, I would know what has already been said, but things slip by.
I had a good writing day yesterday, not on the novel, but on a short story. I saw a writing prompt for a contest on Reedsy and I instantly had an idea. I actually took one of my NaPoWriMo poems and reworked it into a story. I almost got in 1000 words, which is the minimum length. OK, about 70 words were from the poem, and I used 10 words from a line from one of my lyrics, but I’m counting them.
I also came across a fun prompt (see Fibbing Friday below), so there’s a few more words for the tally.
Complete the following popular proverbs or sayings in your own personal style please!
1. A stitch in time is less painful than the stitch in my side. 2. Too many cooks means someone is getting sent home early. 3. Many hands make awesome shadow puppets. 4. A bird in the hand means you have some seeds in your palm. 5. Actions speak louder. Tell that to the mime. 6. All that glitters is carpet after craft day. 7. People in glass houses have no damn modesty. 8. Fools rush in and get the best seats. 9. Don’t count your chickens in the barn, there’s just way too many, and they won’t stay still! 10. Give them an inch and 7/8ths, ask them if it’s more than an inch and 15/16ths, then tell them to subtract one from the other. They’ll never ask you to help ever again.