Tag Archives: author

Heather The Hound

Heather The HoundIn September of last year, our beloved Joe The Dog (sometimes known as JTD) was tragically and unexpectedly whisked off to the Great Doggy Park in the Sky. He was chasing a squirrel at the time, and failed to notice the SUV bearing down on him. We like to think that he was at least doing something he enjoyed when he died.

The thing is, I looked on Joe as a canine muse. Twice a day, he and I would walk the beach or stomp through forest trails. He would sniff out the delicious smells, forage for crunchy snacks and, occasionally, play fetch or wrestle a bit. I would wander into my alternate universe, peopled by the characters and the stories that I had created. Here was the ideal opportunity to chew on plot tangles, develop personalities and play out dialogue and action.

His departure didn’t stop me writing, but it certainly did slow things down. I thought I might continue the walks on my own, but the motivation was gone and I found it hard to be accompanied by JTD’s ghost everywhere I went.

Time past. We decided not to get another dog. “They are such a tie,” we said. “They take up so much time,” we said. “They are so expensive,” we said. And yet. Without any previous discussion, we discovered one day that we were both thinking that the time had come. Enter Heather The Hound (HTH). Heather’s early family history is a blank sheet. She was almost certainly bred as a hunting dog (she is a Harrier mix) and then dumped somewhere in North Carolina or Southern Virginia. She was rescued from an ignominious death at the Dog Pound by our local Animal Welfare League and then we happened along. So far, both parties in the arrangement are ecstatically happy. I get my dog-walking time back, we have a dog to keep us company on the sofa when we watch TV in the evening and Heather gets a new pack which offers her comfort, care, security and love.

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Filed under Pets, Writing

Stuart’s Leibster Blog Award, Part The First

I have to confess, my first reaction to KJ Waters making this award was one of disappointment. But this was only because I had read it (in the absence of my reading specs) as the LOBSTER award. I do eat lobster, but it’s not my favorite. Having sorted that out, I was then intrigued by the name, thinking that perhaps it might have some Irish connotation. Turned out I was confusing it with Leinster, which is one of the counties in Ireland. Leibster is German for favorite. One lives and learns day by day. Indeed one does.

Anyway, a big thanks to KJ for including me in her list of awarded bloggers. I am genuinely honored.

The rules of this award (for the hard-working author gets nothing for nothing, as I ought to know) mean that I have to divulge eleven random facts about myself and answer KJ’s eleven questions. Finally, I have to nominate eleven bloggers for the award. Phew! I have achieved the first two goals, but still working on the third. I’ll post the final list in a day or two.

Random facts

  1. Most of my childhood was spent living in a small village on the shores of the Holy Loch, in the Clyde estuary in Scotland, which later became the base for the US Polaris submarine fleet. (There is no connection between these two things, as far as I am aware).
  2. I’m 65 years old. Kind of late middle age…
  3. My stock response to people here in the US who say “I love your accent – just say something for me,” is “Aye, no bad. Ah wiz born up a wally close wi a richt eneugh midden in the back court, an ootside cludgie an nae bath. Ma ma used tae gie me a syne doon wance a week in the jawbox.” (Translation available on request).
  4. I can occasionally be induced to sing. Drink is usually taken on such occasions. By those listening.
  5. I love to sail. Our dear old 30-foot Morgan sailboat lives just ten minutes away from our home here on the Chesapeake Bay.
  6. I have two delightful grandchildren (a three-year-old and a one-year-old) who live in Portland, Maine.
  7. I’m an enthusiastic chef.
  8. I’m not a fan of Ernest Hemingway.
  9. I’m married to my editor.
  10. I can turn my hand to almost any task around the house, including electrics, plumbing, carpentry and cleaning toilets.
  11. I’ve never liked soccer, so I don’t support any UK football team. This is a major social drawback for a Scotsman, I can tell you!

KJ’s Questions

1. What is your favorite movie and why?
Out of dozens that would come into this category, I’ll choose Fargo at random. Wonderfully directed, great performances and a fine story about human weakness and degradation being defeated by a strong woman with no pretensions. What’s not to like?

2. Who is your favorite author and why?
Impossible question, but I can do this. It has to be Patrick O’Brian and his wonderful Aubrey/Maturin series. I read all twenty of them in a row. Beautifully written, great characters and wonderful stories. The hero is also based on a real historical character, who happens to be a Scotsman, so that made it even better!

3. What is the concept behind your blog? Simply to promote your book/skills/product or a bigger purpose, like mine as therapy to deal with my current location?
Concept? Concept? Good grief! You think there was some PLAN here? My original intention was to attract readers by writing something that was just a bit different, loosely focused around my writing activities. The jury is still OUT!

4. What is your favorite meal?
Mince and tatties (explanation available for the uninitiated).

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5. What would you describe as your biggest personal accomplishment?
Raising children. No question.

6. Why are you so awesome? I ask this because I chose you…apparently I think you’re pretty fab.
I might fantasize that it’s because I’m good-looking, loving, intelligent, sociable and compassionate, but really I haven’t a clue. Anything to do with the way I write? Oh, I give in…

7. What is your favorite household appliance and why? Ha! How’s that for a quirky question.
Our Black & Decker bread-maker. My wife bought it for me at a thrift store for $10 and it makes wonderful bread. Coming into the kitchen in the morning to the smell of fresh bread and coffee is one of life’s great joys!

8. Boxers or briefs
Briefs every time. When it comes to those all-important bits, I like a sense of security.

9. What is your favorite holiday and why?
Cruising in our good old sailboat or traveling anywhere in Italy. Gorgeous country, beautiful cities, great food, excellent wine. In spite of all its political and financial problems, it is still one of the most civilized countries in the world.

10. What is your favorite restaurant? Why?
The King’s Wark in Edinburgh, Scotland. Essentially a fine, old-fashioned pub, it has a superb restaurant which serves some of the finest food I’ve ever eaten. A great ambiance and relaxed, friendly service complete the perfect eating experience.

11. Which question above was the hardest to answer? Why?
Ach, there were all easy-peasy… (wipes sweat from brow).

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Interview with Joe The Dog

We caught up with Joe The Dog sleeping in the sunshine on the deck of his house in Southern Maryland.

Sleeping? Not at all. Coiled spring, me. Instantly ready to bark at passers-by, grab an unsuspecting insect as it flies past, or leap up at the offer of FOOD. Is that a doggie treat you’ve got there? Sorry? A microphone? Dearie me. That’s not much good. I can feel myself losing the will to live already.

No. I’m not a character in the book. It’s a bone of contention. Hahaha! Did you get that? ‘Bone of contention!’ Anyway. All I get is a mention in the acknowledgements. I ask you. I mean, I take him along the beach every day, twice a day and that’s when he writes the stuff in his head. You’d think it wasn’t too much to ask to include me. But no. It’s not as if he’s even much good on the beach. I’ve never seen him cocking his leg, or pooping in the long grass, or crunching crab’s legs or any of that good stuff. And as for chasing a ball! Useless.

What do I think of the book? Tell you the truth, I haven’t read it myself. I like something with a bit more meat in the story. The odd chicken helps, too. And it has guns in it, as I understand. Dogs don’t do guns. It’s partly our lack of an opposable claw which makes the whole hold-it-up-to-your-shoulder-and-pull-the-trigger-at-the-same-time thing a bit tricky. But mainly it’s the noise. Scares the living crap out of us. We’d be no good on the front. Or the back, come to that. It’s hard to confront the enemy while lying on the ground with your paws over your ears and pooping uncontrollably all the while.

The author? What about him? Oh, he’s not a bad old geezer, I guess. Thinks he’s the alpha male in the house, though. Hahaha! That’s a joke. I go along with it a bit, of course. You know, submissive-tummy-rub stuff and occasionally following orders. But see when he’s fifty yards away and I’ve found a fine, chewy carcass on the beach and he calls me. Do I come? Do I Hell!

Okay. No problem. My pleasure. Now, stop kidding me around and give me a treat or I’ll take that microphone thingy and treat it like one of my chew-bones…

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New High Price, Same High Quality

Stuart’s Alter Ego talks to him about book-pricing.

So, Mr Smarty-Pants Author person, you’ve been messing around with the price of your book again? Setting aside the small matter of your ignorance and incompetence in this field, what in the blue blazes of hell’s own cremation fires makes you think it’s a good idea to charge more for the damn thing? I mean, are you or are you not an unknown author and is this, or is it not, your first novel? Well, there you are then, I rest my case. In any case, it’s been priced at 99 cents for the past two months and sales have been modest, apart from those three days when you charged nothing for it and managed to ‘sell’ more that fourteen hundred downloads. Doesn’t that tell you something? Like, that even a sub-dollar price is too high? What’s that? Dean Koontz? It costs what? Who, in the name of all that’s gloriously and ineluctably stupid in this world is going to be duped into paying that for a book that doesn’t even boast a drop of binding glue in its manufacture? Really? Well, you do surprise me. In that context, $2.99 doesn’t seem that bad. I guess, if the worse comes to the worst, and sales fall of a cliff, you can always cut the price again. Which is something you couldn’t have done when it was at 99 cents. Look on the bright side, dear boy. You need to!

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