Friday, 24 November 2017

Thanksgiving Weekend 2017 Reflections

I know I haven't updated this blog in a month (qu'elle surprise!), mostly because my day job has been laying more boots to me than a nobody getting beaten up by a big-name pro wrestler in the ring. But I believe I should catch you guys and gals up on what's been going on in my writing world as of late.

For those who recall the last time I posted on here, I was in the midst of participating in OctPoWriMo, a writing challenge where participants attempt to write and post 31 poems within the 31 days of October. As someone who has written 140 poems in 5 weeks, one would think it would've been a piece of cake for me. Alas, work got extremely hectic during the last week and a half of the month (Damn you, midterms!) and I abandoned the challenge after 22 days. A disappointing effort from yours truly, I admit; however, the poems, technically, could be used as fodder for a future 5th poetry collection somewhere down the line, provided time and my muse decide to co-operate once again.

The same excuse could be applied to my attempt at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, as it's known for short) this year. While I had all good intentions to write 50,000 words in a month, I was skeptical as my attempt last year fell short, coming in at 32,000 words for November 2016. This year's effort is fairing even worse. Over the three projects I've worked on this month, I have yet to crack the 10,000 word mark combined. Again, I blame work for zapping all of my creative energy. Admittedly, working full-time since the end of June has done significant damage to it. I'm praying a reversion back to part-time hours in 2018 will kick-start it back up, but I'm doubtful I will be granted my wishes this upcoming holiday season. However, that being said, my writing efforts haven't gone unproductive.

For fans of the romance genre, the long-awaited release of the second book in my Prairie Fire Trilogy has occurred. Back on November 4th, I unleashed The Prairie Fire Rekindled onto the world.


Ain't it purdy?

The book is available in paperback off of Amazon, and in e-book form on all the major retailers: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble's Nook, and Apple iBooks. It continues on from where The Prairie Fire Within left off, but with a special focus on the new relationship of Amanda's best friend, Ashley Washburn, and her new beau, Chuck MacDonald. There's still some steamy scenes in it (including a delicious foray on the side of a deserted highway, but I won't give too much more away), so those who loved the heat in the first book will hopefully delight in this one.

Speaking of romance, the big thing in romance author social media is the new networking site, Book + Main. It's a website that allows romance authors to share snippets, or "bites", of their works and connect with fellow authors and readers. The site is free to join for readers, and authors once verified are given a free trial to explore the website and post their bites. After the trial, authors who wish to maintain their accounts will be asked to pony up a monthly or yearly membership fee. It seems pricey to some, but compared to other promo tools, I think it's somewhat economical. Mind you, I haven't had any hits on my bites yet, so I'm still in the 'wait and see' mode, so far. If you desire to check myself and any of the authors on there, surf on over to: http://www.bookandmainbites.com to see what the steamy fuss is all about. I'm listed on there under my C. D. Melley persona.

Save for that, my failed NaNo projects have planted the seeds for the fifth book in my 'Gary Celdom Case Journals' series; also, for some twisted reason, the sixth book in that series. Book 6 looks to be another flashback book akin to how Barbadian Backlash (Book 2) was, but both of these are still in the first draft stages, so it'll be interesting to see how they develop over time.

That's all for now on my end. For those who celebrated Thanksgiving in the U.S. yesterday, I hope you had the opportunity to enjoy with with your family and friends, and I also hope you're not going too nuts with the Black Friday sales today. 

Until next time, loyal readers...

Douglas


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Day 22: A Little TLC

Everyone needs a little
TLC in their lives
Whether it's the kind from a pet
Or another human being.

In today's world I have seen
So much hate and anger
Towards their fellow man
And it disheartens me to no end.

I can understand the different causes
There are to promote togetherness
In a bid to provide a voice
For those who have been ignored for too long.

Alas, the hierarchy out there
Continues to beat their own drum
In a feeble bid to silence the roars
From those who have been slighted.

I pray for the day to come
Where we can all unite as one
And TLC will prevail once and for all
Over the hatred that exists today.


Saturday, 21 October 2017

Day 21: Time to Experiment

Earlier this week
There was supposed to be a
Chili Cook-off at work
Unfortunately, it was cancelled.

They claimed it was due to lack of interest
But are replacing it with a slow-cooker challenge
Where people attempt to create their fave recipes
Using the cooking appliance known as a Crock Pot.

I've contemplated entering the contest
Using my chili recipe
However, I'm thinking about conjuring up
A new creation this time around.

Of course, to make sure
It is worthy enough of entry
I will attempt to create it
Here at home for my wife and I.

I have all of the necessary ingredients
In my pantry and refrigerator
The query I must ask myself
Is whether to do it this weekend or next.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Day 20: Assisting a Friend's Cause

This weekend I'm participating
In a charity auction on Facebook
Where proceeds are going to help with expenses
Of a young baby's travel and medical bills.

The little boy suffers from Apert Syndrome
A disorder where the child's skull bone fuses early
It also could cause the fingers and toes to fuse together
A dire circumstance for an infant.

Members of the book and artist community
Have come together to raise funds for the cause
Offering books in print or electronic
Others offering swag of different sorts.

Myself, I'm offering up two e-book bundles
Of my three romance titles
Including a certain title that
Hasn't been released yet.

I hope the event raises a lot of money
To help little Wyatt overcome this disorder
No one his age should have to suffer
From such an abnormality.



Thursday, 19 October 2017

Day 19: Not the Caffeine Addict I Used to Be

With November's writing season upon us
I look back to the love affair I had
Between myself and caffeine
And notice the relationship has changed.

Whenever I used to attempt to write
A 50,000-word novel in 30 days
Coffee was my mistress
A dangerous affair for my health.

At times I would down an entire carafe
Within one daily session
Alas, thanks to high blood pressure issues
I've had to re-evaluate this strategy.

I now limit my caffeine intake
Due to this medical concern.
Opting for caffeine-free beverages
Outside of the morning hours.

I do miss my old caffeinated ways
I think my drive has suffered a tad
However, if I want to live long with my wife
The sacrifice had to be made.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Day 18: Passing of a Legend

Within the past twenty-four hours
Canadians lost a legendary poet
Whose lyrics struck a chord
Within every resident who heard them.

I confess I've only heard his band play twice
Once during a multi-artist benefit concert
The other during halftime of a football game
And due to them, I understood the hype.

Fans flocked to their concerts
Chanting for the band to take the stage
And when the man took to the mic
They all sang along to their favorites.

Alas today, Bobcaygeon has grown silent
The Hundredth Meridian had faded a little
New Orleans has sank a tad lower
And The Century has come a bit closer.

Fare thee well, Gord
Your legacy lives on forever
May your lyrics play with you in heaven
With Grace, Too.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Day 17: Second Wave

Work has gotten busy again
With the influx of tasks flooding my inbox
I do my best to keep up
As the requests increase in the pile.

One by one, I complete each task
As another one comes in
Keeping my head above water
So as not to drown in the requests.

I recall having to survive the influx
A few weeks ago
Alas, the next wave has come in
Like another tsunami threatening to flood me.

I know this is the second of three waves
I will encounter during this period
With the final one approaching
Closer to the end of the year.

I've been promised help is on the way
Within another week
However, I question whether or not
It will be enough to handle the surf.


Monday, 16 October 2017

Day 16: Recovering From Busy Weekend

On a normal weekend
I would stay at home to run errands
And spend quality time with my wife
However, the past couple of days were condensed.

Saturday I was requested to attend
A business meeting for an organization I'm affiliated with
Taking place eighty miles away that afternoon
But that wasn't the only thing on my agenda

That night, I took in a college football game
Taking place downtown involving the local school
While the game was enjoyable
I did not return until really late.

The next day all of the tasks I normally do
Over the course of forty-eight hours
I had to do within the span of twenty-four
Too short a span to completely relax.

Needless to say, I was feeling it this morning
When I showed up to work
It took a while for my second cup to kick in
Regardless, I survived the weekend and today.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Day 15: One Year Since

It's been a year since you've left
And the pain while subdued
Hasn't gone away entirely
And I know it never will.

There were so many things
I wanted to say and show you
Alas, I know that I will never
Have the opportunity to do so.

I wished you could see
How far I've come since you've left
How I've become a better and happier person
Then I was when you knew me best.

There is still so much pain
We've caused one another in the past
But I will never get the opportunity
To make the amends I needed to do.

Today it's been 365 days
Since you left all of us
Just remember you were always loved
And never will be forgotten.

Day 14: This Event is Oversold

This year I decided to purchase
Some college football tickets to a few games
However, after two contests on my schedule
I'm starting to re-evaluate my decision.

It's not that the games are not entertaining
My team is undefeated so far this season
My gripe comes from where
My seats are located at the stadium.

Had I known that my seats would be
Situated in the Student Section area
For the course of my tenure this year
I would have balked at the offer in the first place.

I guess my complaint is the fact
The tickets are general admission
If I get up to get concessions or use the Men's Room
I run the risk of losing my seat to a student.

This is reason why I have a beef
With the way the plan was structured in the first place
But I know at least with college basketball season coming up
My seats for that are in a reserved spot.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Day 13: Paraskavedekatriaphobia

There are a few people out there
Who are intimidated by today of all days
For that I empathize with them
Because today is a day like no others.

This day only happens every so often
Yet, when it appears on the calendar
It sends people into a frenzy
However, it's much worse for them.

The day is ominous
With tales of horror spun to coincide
For this unholy date
Is one of the most infamous of the year.

In this year of 2017
The date happens to fall in October
Falling into par with Halloween
Ratcheting up their paranoia to 11.

I still try to wrap my head
Over why Friday the 13th triggers them
I know the day is synonymous with the lack of luck
But to them, it terrifies these individuals more.


Thursday, 12 October 2017

Day 12: Changing Channels

Every now and again
I have noticed stations complaining
Certain providers intend to
Drop them from their line-ups.

I've seen them on various American providers
Where they beg people to call the companies
And plead that they would
"Save their channels."

This was never a problem
When I lived in Canada
Yes, channels came and went
But most of them remained on the landscape.

I can understand this is a move
To add new channels to the programming grid
However, why must other stations be sacrificed
To make room for them?

Is it a monetary issue?
Fees transferred between the providers and stations?
One thing for certain, while greed is existent
The consumers lose out in the end.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Day 11: Personal Growth

When you have lived with stigma
The majority of your life
It can be a challenge
To break the mold you've set yourself in.

Growing up I was instilled with the mindset
Of living and doing things a certain way
Having limits drilled inside of your head
Can stunt your ability to grow as a person.

After years of mental belittling I told myself
Enough was enough
I needed to change my situation
In order to modify the way I live and thought.

Fast forward to who I am now
A different person from who I was back then
I still have my foibles and faults
But admittedly, no one's perfect.

I am happy with who I've transformed into
I have had my share of struggles
All I can do is continue to improve
One day at a time.



Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Day 10: Looking For Crumbs

In our apartment
My wife and I usually eat while sitting on our couch
Because we lack the space for
A proper dining room table.

I will be the first to admit
I tend to snack while watching television
And in the process
I end up dropping crumbs between the cushions.

This prove to be a bullseye
For our little Yorkie
To go sniffing around
For these little morsels left behind.

At first I thought
He was looking for attention from me
But what he's really looking for
Is a way to get at the hidden treasures.

I need to be mindful
Of what and how I eat
Otherwise, one of my fur kids
Will score an unexpected treat.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Day 9: Pushed to the Limit

While those north of the border
Were prepping their turkeys
I was toiling away at my job
And the stress within me was mounting.

It seemed like I didn't have very long to think
As I was slammed with task after task
Doing the best that I could
However, I envied those in my former home.

They were able to enjoy the day off
To spend with their families
I longed to enjoy the same luxury
Instead of being stuck behind a computer.

The memories of a more simple time for me
Came flooding back to my consciousness
Bringing me to the verge of breaking down
Wishing I could be back in my former land.

I survived the rest of the day
Dreading what awaits me when I arrive tomorrow morn
I've handled being apart well before
But today was extremely hard for me.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Day 8: How Would I Have Known?

In the months leading up to
My eventual relocation
There were many fears and anxieties
Built up within me.

How would I adjust?
How could I leave my family and friends behind?
Why would I leave the only home I've truly known?
I only know a couple people down there.

Would I even be granted the visa?
Is this all really worth it?
These are a few of the many questions
That roamed within my head.

Fast forward to now
Almost two years after that interview
And my life hasn't been happier
Now that I'm with my wife.

But sometimes in life you have to take a chance
Put those fears and anxieties aside
Because if I hadn't listened to my heart
How would I have known what I have now.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Day 7: Long Weekend in the North

While most of the people in my new home
Will be at work this Monday
Those in my former country of residence
Will be celebrating it's annual autumn holiday.

Because of the earlier growing season
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving
A month before us in the States
Yet, it still has all the fixings.

When I was still living with my former roommate
I would attend Sunday brunch
With his family at a fancy downtown hotel
It gave me a sense of family with them.

Nowadays, I have a new family down here
With my wife and two fur kids
But I have to wait until late November
To celebrate with turkey and stuffing.

I don't mind having to wait until then
They say all good things come to those who do
However, in the meantime to those north of the 49th
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Day 6: New Territory

As part of an author signing
I'm taking part in next year
Some of the authors are writing pieces
Of an anthology to be released at the event.

I volunteered to be one of the authors
For this project
While the prospect of being part of it is exciting
It also makes me nervous as hell.

I had never participated in
An anthology before
My concern is my story will stick out
Like a sore thumb compared to the others.

At least I'm fortunate
To have my submission half-written
As part of my Camp NaNoWriMo project
This past July.

I just have to remember
To pad my tale of mystery
They want each to be around 20,000 words
I just hope I don't end up doing an info dump.


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Day 5: Switching It Up

As the month of November draws near
So does the annual burst of creativity
Where writers around the world
Embark on writing a novel.

My intent this year
Was to compose the fifth book
Of my detective series
Alas, it appears to be for not.

Not because of work
Which is a time-suck to begin with
But because a new idea
Has been poking my brain.

A sports romance is now in the cards
I know it sounds like an overused trope
However, this time the pairing
Involves two females, instead.

For now the detective story is shelved
And I anticipate writing about curling
I just hope I can keep my plot ideas
Underneath their wool kilts.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Day 4: Countdown Is On

As I look at the calendar
I notice there is one month to go
Until the release
Of my latest romance book.

The tome is the second part
Of a trilogy I have been working on
For the past three years
And it hadn't been easy finishing it.

There had been problems
Getting it completed
Everything from chasing other plot bunnies
To an upgrade to Windows 10.

The latter caused me to lose
My original work-in-progress
But I was thankfully smart enough
To had sent a copy to my current wife.

Now in a mere thirty-one days
It will be unleashed to the world
I just hope people haven't forgotten
The characters I originally created.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Day 3: Ode to the Tuesday Funnies

Every Tuesday, my wife sends out
An email containing
Various cute and humorous memes
To her friends and family.

The photos are intended
To tickle one's funny bone
And bring much delight
To the belated start of the work week.

Most of the pics
Involve animals with
Comical captions
Suitable for all ages.

She has done this for as long
As I can remember
Bringing a ray of sunshine
To those who need it.

I admire my wife for doing this
As it's another arrow in her quiver
To showcase her creativity
To those close to her.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Day 2: Downloading Responsibilities

When I first started here
I was hired on as a part-time worker
Content on doing what I could
During my four-hour shift.

However, when my colleague left
Back at the end of June
I was tasked to help
Pick up the slack left behind.

While I had no problem doing
Some of the added responsibilites
It seems I have been requested
To take on more than intended.

I have now being working full-time
For the past three months
And my increased duties
Is starting to ratchet up my stress.

I'm hoping things will calm down
Before the end of this calendar year
Alas, it seems my sanity
Is being put to the test more and more.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Day 1('ish): Vowing to Return

Yesterday there was a signing
I had attended once before
Some of my friends from back home
Were in attendance.

Seeing their photos
Made me nostalgic
Of a happy time and place
Where I was one among them.

I have participated in two signings
Since moving south
And while I enjoyed the experience
There was something missing.

The camaraderie I enjoyed
Being with familiar faces
Is something I lack
In the ones down here.

However, I've since made a vow
Regardless of where it might be
In the year 2019
I will be coming home.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

'Twas the Eve of #OctPoWriMo

I have admitted in the past that I was a 'seasonal writer,' a person who only writes a lot during certain periods of the year. I'm not sure if this is because I like to push the limits of creativity, but the more I think about it, my muse tends to only come out of its' shell during the months of November, April, and July: the months that consist of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and its' more flexible cousin, Camp NaNoWriMo. I did explore February Album Writing Month (FAWM) once, but I did not meet the intended goal for the month, my muse regressing to the traditional three months affiliated with the official writing challenges put on by The Office of Letters and Light. However, I'm once again, embarking on a writing challenge that will test my muse's comfort level outside of its' norm.

Tomorrow marks the first of October, and with it, the commencement of the 2017 edition of October Poetry Writing Month (OctPoWriMo). The objective of this particular challenge is to compose 31 poems within the 31 days of the calendar's most famous autumnal month. As someone who has written poetry before under a set of self-imposed parameters, the opportunity to partake in such a writing objective is something I eagerly anticipate. Especially when these parameters are less-imposing than the ones I had set for myself in the past. (For reference purposes, I penned my C. D. Melley persona's Stanzas from the Sunshine in 5 weeks, writing 4 poems a day on average.)

However, unlike my poetry collections of the past, where real-life (read: a 40-hour work week) was not present, I am being mindful of such a time restriction this time around. Having said that, I will do my best to write the best reflective poetry (the style my poems usually emulates) I can over the course of the next 31 days. As such, my blog page will be updating daily over the next month with these creative outlets. Considering how stressful my day job can be some days, this could make for some interesting verses to appear. I just hope I can calm down from any of stress triggers before I allow my muse to take over for the day.

So stay tuned, Day 1's poem will be cropping up tomorrow, and I hope y'all will enjoy my muse's prose over the next 31 days.

Until then,
~ Doug


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Surviving The Beast Known as Irma

I will be the first to admit I haven't experienced a lot of natural disasters in my life. Yes, I've endured the ice storm that befell Southern Ontario in December 2013, and that was quite an adventure unto itself, but nothing as compared to what I have experienced over the past week.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard the news about Hurricane Irma: a storm which achieved monstrous Category 5 status when it first hit the outer Caribbean island of Barbuda last week. The storm brewed a few days after Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 cyclone, laid waste to Southern Texas, leaving the streets of Houston flooded for days, and Irma had her sights set on the Florida peninsula: the area where I currently reside.

As Irma churned through the northern Caribbean Sea, people in my neck of the woods feared the absolute worst. My workplace closed on Thursday to help people prepare, and if necessary, evacuate, in advance of Irma's arrival. The only problem was, no one truly knew where in Florida it would make its' initial landfall. Some early models had forecast the storm to hit Miami, and the southeastern part of the state. However, it was not a true guarantee it would strike there first. Irma continued to churn west along the barrier islands on the northern coast of Cuba, weakening the storm a bit to a Category 4. But Florida was still in Irma's cross hairs. Instead of going up the Atlantic coast, as initially expected, it made a beeline for the Gulf coast, and in turn, the part of the state where I live.

Irma made first American landfall in the Florida Keys at 9:10 this past Sunday morning, and continued to bore a path up Florida's west coast. My wife and I made all the necessary preparations in the days before, and feared the worst. Shelters were at the ready to accept people in the area, and it was something we had contemplated. Alas, not many accepted pets, and we did not want to abandon our two fur kids. Instead the four of us decided to hunker down, and tough the beast out. The worst of Irma's fury began to strike my neighborhood just after 11:00 Sunday night. Rain pelted the pavement of our apartment complex, and hurricane force winds rattled the windows. Our electricity went out at approximately a half-hour later, and would not return until a good twelve hours later.

The next morning, after the curfew had been lifted for our community, I took a short stroll to survey the damage. Some of the neighboring trees had broken branches and the storm sewer grates we're littered with debris; however, for the most part, our area had gotten off relatively easy compared to some areas to the south. There were reports of broken streetlights and flooding in other communities. Businesses were closed up, so the struggle to find a hot meal or gas was a challenge. But the clean-up has begun, and things have started to return to normal.

At the time of writing this, it's almost thirty-six hours since Irma's apex struck my neighborhood. While I'm thankful for all of the well wishes and requests to "stay safe" during her fury, the storm has definitely changed me. A friend jovially told me, "You'll never forget your first." in the days leading up to Irma's impact. While I will begrudgingly agree with her, it's not something I would wish upon anyone. But I'm pleased to say that I've survived my first ever hurricane without no physical damages, the psychological effect will last me for a while.

Then again, any natural disaster would have that effect on anyone.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Labor Day Thoughts 2017

With it being the first Monday in September, I'm enjoying the day off from work, as the majority of those within my former home of Canada, and my current home of the U.S., celebrate the Labo(u)r Day holiday, and the unofficial end of summer. In some of the recent years' past, I would spend the day at the corner of Cannon and Balsam in Hamilton, watching the annual 'Labour Day Classic' between the hometown Tiger-Cats, and their arch-rivals from up the Queen Elizabeth Way. Toronto Argonauts. Unfortunately, my Cats have returned to the form of their 2000's to the point where they are win-less halfway through the season. Needless to say, I'm not impressed with some of their front-office decisions lately, either, so I'm willing to write this season off as an epic fail.

Canadian football aside, I've been rather occupied as of late with my day job. I'm in the last few weeks of a temporary increase in hours from my previous part-time status to full-time. To say the job has been sapping my creative energy would be an understatement. Yet, I am looking at the upcoming autumn months with anticipation. I intend to make another attempt at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, and as a creative warm-up, I have signed up for a new challenge to me: October Poetry Writing Month (OctPoWriMo). While NaNo focuses on writing a 50,000-word novel within the 30 days of November, OctPo challenges aspiring poets to pen a poem a day, every day, for the 31 days of October. In doing so, I have linked my blog to the challenge, so this October, my blog will be filled with daily postings of my poetic attempts. While I'm no stranger to prose (four poetry collections under my C. D. Melley persona to show for it), this will be a slightly new avenue to me. So, I hope those followers to my blog will enjoy my postings in a mere *checks calender* 27 days' time.

On the Book Front, I have put the long-awaited second book in my Prairie Fire Trilogy, The Prairie Fire Rekindled, up for pre-order on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks. The book will officially release on Saturday, November 4, 2017, so about a week or so before, I will hit the publish button for the paperback version, which means the paperback version will pop up on Amazon a few days before, depending on how quick Amazon builds the listing pages. Until then, you can pre-order the e-Book versions for the aforementioned devices and apps at the links below:

Kindle: http://amzn.to/2vGzS2t
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2w6ZeZY
Nook: http://bit.ly/2fRZkys
iBooks: http://apple.co/2fTkY5u


Finally, two of my detective/mystery books have been nominated for the 2017 Summer Indie Book Awards by Metamorph Publishing. Voting is ongoing until midnight, North American Central Time on Monday, September 11th, and you can vote once per day, per category. So, if you'd like to support this independent author, here are the links of where to vote for the books in question:

To vote for Kawartha Christmas Caper in the Crime category:  https://goo.gl/lwjy3G
To vote for Signed, Stolen, Delivered in the Mystery category:  https://goo.gl/iVL3uI

That's all from me now. I hope everyone has enjoyed a happy and safe Labo(u)r Day weekend, and like me, are dreading the return to work on Tuesday. 

Until next time,
Douglas

Monday, 7 August 2017

Reflections of Another Year Gone

Recently, I celebrated my birthday -- Number 46, for those who have a desire to keep score -- and like I should every year, it's made me reflective on the previous twelve months.

Real life-wise, I've become deeply entrenched in my day job as an Administrative Clerk at the nearby university. At this time last year, I was a month into this new part-time gig. Since then, my hours and work responsibilities have drastically increased. While my full-time hours is currently a temporary increase (until the end of September, for now), it makes me wonder if this is the first step to a permanent upgrade. However, as someone who has had his hopes raised in the past by frivolous personal expectations, I'm having a difficult time trying to hold my breath with the dream of this coming to fruition.

At the same time, living the married life in Florida has continued to be a wonderful ride. My wife has been by my side every step in this journey, and I'm extremely thankful for that, even if I do still have my moments where I tend to be a bit "on edge." But I'll be the first to admit that after 46 years, I am still a work-in-progress. Our Pomeranian is still a constant in our lives (and is also a bit of a 'pain in the patootie' during certain moments, but we still love her.), but our Yorkie has changed since then. The previous one being put down in late May (We'll never forget you, Monty), but replaced with a new one a month later. (George is quite adorable, and I fell in love with him the first time he came home.) Live as a 'Doggie Daddy' has been an adjustment, but one I'm starting to finally gel into the role of.

Writing-wise, my life has been quite an adventure. I was able to release two novellas this year: Kawartha Christmas Caper -- the fourth book in the Gary Celdom series, and Signed, Stolen, Delivered -- the first book in a spin-off series, starring Gary's best friend, Phil Bennett. I was amazed when both of them were nominated for the 2017 Summer Indie Book Awards, sponsored by Metamorph Publishing. (FYI, the voting for the awards starts September 1st, so make sure to vote for my two nominees in the Crime and Mystery categories, respectively.) Also, during the past year, I participated in two signings here in Florida: Beach Babes' Book Blast last November (which, I made the mistake of appearing under my lesser known 'C. D. Melley' persona, and my non-existent sales figures from the event showed), and the inaugural Tampa Indie Author Book Convention last month. The latter event I enjoyed so much, I have since signed on to participate again in next July.

So, what's on the horizon in my 47th year of existence? That depends on my crazy schedule. I am currently putting the final touches on the long-awaited second book in the Prairie Fire Trilogy: The Prairie Fire Rekindled, which I was hoping for a September release, but might be pushed back until October. (Because having to format it for its release on paperback will be a bit of a time-suck, which I have little of after coming home from work.) Aside from that, I have planted the seed for the fifth Gary Celdom book. I won't go into too many details, but it will involve a return to the Northern Winds fan convention, and bit of a continuation of the timeline after SSD.

Save for that, I'm also slowly working through my To Be Read pile. Currently, I'm reading the final book in the Avery Fowler 2.0 Trilogy, written by my very dear friend, Jennifer Ammoscato. If you liked the Bridget Jones' Diary books and movies, make sure to check these books out. They are an absolute delight, and this is coming from a guy who you wouldn't think about reading 'chick-lit.'

Anyway, enough about this update. Time to post this before my supervisor pops in and gives me heck for lollygagging. (Such a funny word that is?)

Ciao,
Douglas

Monday, 12 June 2017

Writing Life vs. Real Life

One of the struggles I've experienced during my life in recent days is trying to find the time and energy to write. It's not that my muse hasn't been co-operating; it has been nattering in my head on and off for the past few weeks. However, things have been crazy in my personal life during that time.

I don't like to discuss my day job, since it has been irrelevant to my writing life, but recently it has begun to encroach on the time I have dedicated to writing. Allow me to elucidate ("No, not since the late 60's.") on this. For the past year, I have been working at a local university as an Administrative Clerk part-time. My afternoon shifts are only four hours-long, which allows me the opportunity to spend my mornings to run errands, make appointments, and when I can, spend time at my laptop writing away on my various projects. The job has allowed me to become a productive member of the workforce, while allowing me the freedom to work on my writing in my free time. In the end, it has been quite a harmonious marriage between the two; at least, when my muse is willing to co-operate. But, things can often change at the drop of a hat, and this is soon to be the case for me.

My supervisors have been impressed with my work ethic during the past year; doing my duties to the best of my abilities, and filling in for extra hours on the rare occasion when needed. One would be led to believe this would eventually lead to a bonus and/or a raise in the next few weeks when I reach my 1-year anniversary in early July. However, what they're hinting at could be more than I could ever imagine: the upgrade from part-time status to full-time.

While I would love the opportunity to get more hours and have my first-ever full-time job in the process (All of my previous positions when I've been a member of the Canadian workforce have been part-time.), this proves to be a bit of a dilemma for my "hobby" as an independent author. My morning hours which I previously had for optional "writing time" would be usurped by said day job. One could argue I could use the evenings after work to write, and that would be the most logical course to take should this come to reality. However, it would depend on my energy levels once I get home from what would transform from a 4-hour shift to one that would nearly double. (I'm still attempting to see if it would be a 7.5-hour shift, or an 8-hour one.) In my younger years, I could possibly fathom staying up late to write, get a short amount of sleep, then get up for work. But, at my age (I'll be turning 46 in August), and the fact I'm a married man, I don't think my wife would appreciate me spending a few hours alone in bed (our fur baby, notwithstanding) while I type away on my latest manuscript. That being said, I'm about to test this theory in a few weeks.

On July 1st, I will do another attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo, with the intent to write a 15,000-word mystery novelette within 31 days. That seems relatively easy enough; however, this is also during that period where it is rumored the full-time contract is slated to commence. Will I be able to juggle a full-time day job and successfully complete said novelette? Only time will tell, but I hope in the process, my hobby won't dry up completely.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Reflections on Another Failed Camp

Quite a few things have been happening in my life as of late.  The majority of them have been related to my workplace. As the end of the Spring semester is nigh, I have been swamped with requests at my job. As a result, my attempt to successfully complete the April 2017 session of Camp NaNoWriMo has fallen short once again. That's the funny thing about real life when you're a writer: it always tends to throw a curve ball when you're trying your best to work on a project. That being said, it hasn't been a complete wash.

While my originally intended project for April's Camp was a collection of random ramblings and musings with no real intent on publishing, I quickly lost interest in it after writing 6,000 words on it. I think the fact I wasn't going to release it dampened my muse. Instead, I decided to commence work on the fifth adventure in my Gary Celdom Case Journals series. At the present, I have written 3,600 words on the project. I know I have quite a way to go on it, but at least it's a drop in the bucket. At the same time, I decided to dust off the cobwebs on the (extremely) long-awaited second book of my Prairie Fire Trilogy, and started piecing parts of a prior manuscript together. The reconstructed version is currently sitting at 33,300 words, and I know I have quite a way to go on that, as well.

Otherwise, I'm looking forward to my upcoming signings I have on tap: a local one here on the Gulf Coast of Florida in July, and then my trip to Kansas City, Missouri for a signing taking place in September 2018. As for my latest release, Signed, Stolen, Delivered, I recently held a promotion over Easter weekend where readers could download a copy for free for their Kindle devices and apps. The promotion was a success as 130 copies were downloaded over the 5-day sale. So, I would like to thank the frequenters to the Amazon sites in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and Italy (yes, the last one on that list was a surprise to me, too) who picked up their copy of the first Phil Bennett Mystery. Now, I have to cross my fingers that at least one of them will be generous to leave a review of the book.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

'Cause I'm ready to Camp NaNo-oh-oh...

A quick look at the calendar shows that Spring is in the air. I know my readers in northern climes have experienced a harsh, cold winter (and, at times, it's been downright chilly in Florida, too), so the warmer weather is a welcome sight. The Major League Baseball season starts this weekend, and I'm hoping the Blue Jays have another stellar season; hoping to improve on their losses in the American League Championship Series the past couple of seasons. But, for the writer in me, it's nearing time for the first of two sessions of Camp NaNoWriMo.

For those familiar with the traditional concept of National Novel Writing Month in November, the "Camp" sessions offer more flexibility; allowing participants to set their own word count instead of the rigid 50,000 words in 30 days. Also, the Camp sessions allow participants to work on any type of writing their heart desires instead of a traditional novel. If there is a script you want to write, you can do that. Poetry? Perfectly fine. Heck, I confess Before I Leave Canada started as a Camp NaNo project. Wherever your muse takes you is fine in either April or July.

My project for April is a little something personal I intend to write. I don't want to give too many details, as I've been known to jinx myself when I announce specifics about a project early. All I will say is I will attempt to write 25,000 words in April. I also have a separate project in the works for the July session, where the goal for that will be between 15,000 and 20,000 words.  If Camp NaNo is something up your alley, there is still time to sign up (for FREE) for the April session over at: www.campnanowrimo.org

Also, I have been a little busy the past while with a different project that I've recently released. While I failed in my attempt to write 50,000 words last November, I was able to cobble together almost 37,000 in the end to formulate the first book in what will be a spin-off series from my Gary Celdom books, featuring his best friend and writer, Phil Bennett. Phil's first "solo" adventure, entitled Signed, Stolen, Delivered continues the exploits of Phil and Maggie post-Kawartha Christmas Caper, and takes a look at Phil's attempt to find a part-time job to help supplement his government-assistance income since his book sales are slow to take off. He ends up getting a job as a transit courier where he meets an interesting cast of characters. Things appear to be going smoothly until he finds out there is a string of petty thefts within the company. It is up to Phil to help find out who's behind the crimes, all the while managing a long-distance relationship, and his bossy roommate. However, Phil is not alone, as we get a more in-depth look at the spirit from Phil's past that continues to haunt him: one of his ex-girlfriends, Amber.



The book is available on Amazon as a paperback, or for your Kindle. Like all of my other titles, the book is enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program (sorry, folks with Kobo and Nooks). And, can be found right here.

Until next time, happy reading.

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Absent-Minded Signing Author

In all of the craziness of the past couple of weeks, I forgot to make mention of an announcement here on my blog. (Although, if you're a frequent visitor of my author page on Facebook, you already know about this.)

As many of you know, I have signed on to be part of the Sow Me Your Books author event happening in Kansas City, Missouri, September 7th and 8th, 2018. However, I was on the search to find an event to partake in sometime this year. At the request of my wife, I was hoping to find one close to my home base here on the West Coast of Florida. This was a challenge for me, as those who know me personally know I don't drive. (I never bothered to get a driver's licence in my 45 years of existence. Mind you, when you spent most of your life in a city with an 'adequate' public transit system, the need is somewhat moot. Alas, that's not the case in my new home, but I digress.)

So, the search was on. There are a few events here in Florida, but the closest one I had originally found was about 65 miles away. I figured my 2017 was going to be 'signing-less,' until I stumbled upon a new event occurring this summer. After some investigating (and a delay until my budget allowed it), I am please to announce that on July 16th, 2017, I will be part of the inaugural Tampa Indie Author Book Convention.

At the present, myself and 40+ other independent authors have signed on to appear at this event. For more information, it can be found on their website: https://tampaindieauthorbookconvention.wordpress.com or their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TampaIndieAuthorBookConvention/

The only question I have to ask myself is, does only one of my triad show up, or all three faces of moi?

Friday, 10 February 2017

It's Not Easy Being An Indie

As many of you know, I've considered myself an independent author for close to 6 years now. While one would think I should know all of the ropes by now, the truth of the matter is there are quite a few things I need to learn.

One thing an independent author needs to learn is patience, and I admit, it's one thing I have struggled with throughout my life, let alone one as a writer. I see other authors churn out books ad nauseum, and I want to have that same capability. Unfortunately, most of these authors have a huge support system in place, whether it be personal assistants (PAs), editors, and beta-readers. These are things I am slowly attempting to obtain, but it's not easy. The thing I'm concerned about is the probability where these cost money, and when one is not really the master of his own budget (which I admit, is due to some bad life choices caused by personal demons), it's tough to "keep up with the Jones's," per se.

It's funny; I liken myself in this industry to a pro wrestler on the independent circuit. A worker who toils away at their craft, waiting for their big break. I know it's all a matter of exposure, and creating a fan base. However, I can't help but feel envious of those who have a decent following. I figure it's because they have been able to have their support system for a while. That being said, I like to believe I have a support system, but not a devout one. My sales have lagged in recent months, save for last November when I had a new release. I get the reading audience can be fickle in the aspect of "what have you put out lately?" But, when you're a person (with a multiple-author personality disorder) who has released a dozen titles over three genres, it's difficult to tap into that "sweet spot" niche.

I still do my best to improve my writing, and having someone beta-read one of works-in-process helped. I appreciated their feedback, but felt a little disheartened about having to rewrite a huge chunk of it. This is where the patience comes in. I need to learn to be patient, and not inflict self-pressure to churn out my stories at a record pace. My only concern is alienating my readers because it's taking so long to pump out new material. The long story short, I'm intimidated by the current marketplace where the line between quality and quantity is blurred. I want to please my audience with the stories I tell, but the fact it has taken longer than expected is frustrating.

I'm probably beating a dead horse here. I want to build a following and an audience by attracting them to the books I've already put out, while toiling (albeit slowly) on new material I will release in the future, but when there are more and more books out there for consumption, I can't help but feel lost in the shuffle, though.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Online Classes, and Newsletters, and Peace... Oh My!

The last time I checked in with everyone on my blog, I was in the midst of partaking in an online Creative Writing class. While, I'm still trudging through the class, the process has been slow going with real-life commitments (i.e. gainful employment) taking priority. That being said, I'm still whizzing through the class, currently sitting on Lesson 12 of 13. My current lesson tackles writing effective dialogue, but the professor prefers me to write it in a screenplay style. I must confess, I haven't written a screenplay since my Script Frenzy days four or five years ago, so I need to tap into those days of yore to complete the assignment. Regardless, it's been a fun course, so far, and I hope to apply these skills into future writing projects.

Moving on, if you've noticed, this page looks a little different. That's because I've added a sign-up form for something new I'm starting up: a newsletter. When I attended my last book signing last November, a fellow author I was sharing a table with suggested to build my readership, I should establish a newsletter. After stalling for a couple months, I looked into a hosting website, and "The Howling Nanook" was born. It's first issue was released today (January 29, 2017), and can be found here. To subscribe to future monthly issues, just fill out the form on the upper right, confirm your email address when you receive the confirmation email, and you'll be good to go.

Finally, I have recently signed on for an exciting collaboration. While details are still being hammered out, myself, and 25 other authors will be working together to write an exciting new romance series. If you follow me on social media, you might see the occasional hashtag #PeaceSeries used. This is in reference to this series we're all working on, for a gradual roll out, starting in Fall/Autumn 2017. I am excited to be a part of this project, and I hope you will join me, and my fellow authors in taking a journey to find your #Peace.

That's all for now. I have to get back to plotting, learning, and writing.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Back to Basics

I will be one of the first people to admit I'm not a perfect writer. Then again, who is? As someone who attempts this craft, I have been apt to typing the wrong word (i.e. 'as' instead of 'at'), writing prose that might not make sense, and being redundant on more than one occasion. However, I still do the best job I can do, and continue to strive to be better. Alas, my many years removed from my community college English classes have finally caught up to me.

Recently, I had completed a draft version of the first book in a spin-off series from my "Gary Celdom Case Journals" set of detective fiction stories, and after some tinkering and much urging of my proofreader, I sent it off to a beta reader. For those who don't know what that is, it's like someone who looks over a computer program and makes suggestions on what could be improved upon. The only difference is, the person is doing so for a book instead of an app under construction for your smartphone. I received the feedback from the beta reader, and she pointed out some areas I needed to further modify before the story could be sent out to the masses. Naturally, it was a bruise to my creative ego, but one thing one has to learn when being an author is to develop a thick skin. I think I'm still in the process of establishing that added layer of epidermis.

Regardless, after some discussions with (read: prodding by) my wife, I decided to enroll in an online creative writing course. Most of the ones you see charge a decent penny, but I was fortunate enough to find a free one through my local library. So far, the lessons have been based on things I already know; however, as I progress through the program, I'm picking up things I had not considered, like adapting a style of a favorite author, and working on creating dialogue for my characters that are unique to one another. (A complaint by my proofreader was the characters all sounded the same, and didn't have unique voices.) These are part of the lessons I've yet to complete, but I am looking forward to learning from them.

As a result, the first book in the Phil Bennett series is being sent to the editing desk. Also, it's making me consider rewriting the long overdue second Prairie Fire book. The start and ending of it I think are sound, but I need to clear out some of the padding, and retool some certain aspects of the story. So, I might be lucky if that comes out by 2018. (Damn my muse and inner editor clashing!)

My only hope is that my future books will be better than some of my previous works, but like they always say in the arts, "It's an ongoing process."