Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Hallow's Eve

Here is a discarded prologue from my novel in progress. It reveals too much about the beast too early in the story and wastes all that emotional involvement from the reader on a secondary character. I will most likely rewrite this part to feature my main character, Meridee, and place it later in the novel. However, I thought it set a perfect mood for tonight's festivities even if the fog here is white instead of smokey black…

Spooky Rock in Columbia Gorge - (cc) stewickie

A black, smokey fog roiled at Laurana Brady’s feet as she scrambled through the brush. The fog rushed along the forest floor as if searching for the twelve-year-old, hiding all it passed from view. Looking back, she saw blackness where trees should be; smoke where there should be sky. The fog spread out from the blackness like dry ice over a stage as she ran with all her strength. Then suddenly she felt pain as she slammed into a fallen tree.

Laurana pitched forward and somersaulted onto her back, letting go of her Grandfather’s tinwhistle that she had been clutching tightly. Looking upward she could still see the overcast sky. Swirling fog as thick as paint began to roll over her. A panic deep inside began to swell in her chest and became a scream.

Avid Avian Fans of Our Halloween Array, Or Something More Alarming‽

They sat there…watching…

Rows and rows of blackbirds sat on the wires, collecting silently. Across the street dozens of them sat in a dense flock of foreboding.

We knew they were watching us. We could feel them staring deeply into our home.

For the time being we were safe, but no one dared to go out and get the mail…

Halloween Decorations Restored

The spider awaits its next meal of well-fed house monkey

After an early snowstorm undid our festive decorations, they hung droopily in the cold October wind for a few days until yesterday afternoon—just in time for my Leprechaun's birthday party. This time we took a few photos just in case Mother Nature wanted to redecorate again.

I hand painted the door, but the spider is still my favorite touch.

Halloween Snow

Winterfall From Within the WebOctober this year was spent being sick or caring for the sick, but it wasn't spent preparing for Halloween. Now that the spooky day is upon us, we're finally well enough to quickly do something about it. I hope to share some photos with you throughout the day that will lead up to sharing an outtake from a story I am writing. It's a middle grade horror/fantasy/mystery that is probably too big for me now, but I'm enjoying the process of growing into it.

Here's the first photo of the day. We finally put up decorations last Sunday when two days later Mother Nature thought a dusting of snow stirred with heavy gusts of wind were the final touch our display needed. I strongly disagreed with her, but like most of the women in my life, she poohpoohed my input and did what she wanted anyway. Our display hung in tatters until yesterday.

Friday, October 30, 2009

In Which Douglas Thought of Haunted Asylums & Giving Away a Free Book

I had meant to post this on Monday, but it feels better rising here from the crypt on a Friday pre-Halloweeny eve.

The week was busy, but whose wasn’t? I did manage to write. Yes, it’s true. And I may possibly finish my rough draft by tomorrow if I can foil my family in their dastardly & nefarious schemes. Then I’ll finish up the Seasonal Affective Disorder article I plan on posting this Tuesday. I think you’ll like it.

Before I move on to the weekly contest, I wanted to share this li’l gem with you.

Clinton ‘Asylum Of Terror’ Haunted House Angers N.J. Mental-Health Advocates

Every year it seems someone somewhere feels the need to whine to the press about how haunted houses based on mental wards are doing irreparable damage to the cause of Mental Health. This year New Jersey pulled the fuzzy lollipop out of the candy bag.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Letting the Storm Pass Over Me

Congratulations, Claire. You've won Jeff Nichols' TrainWreck - My Life as an Idoit. I don't know if you'll like the book. It's quite irreverent, so if you want to pass just let me know and I'll pick another winner. Otherwise, send me your mailing address via email and I'll wrap the book up and send it to you. (Previous contest books will be going out on Wensday.)

Last night we carved pumpkins and put the finishing touches on our Halloween decorations. Four of the five pumpkins were all a'glow on the front porch and the last one—mine—was waiting inside. The plan was to take a picture of our work the moment that last pumpkin had been gutted, carved, and lit up from the inside. Regrettably, the picture was not meant to be. Quite suddenly I became irritable, then grumpy, then anxious, then the ticking storm began.

The tic du jour was a breathing tic where I exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale…then panic, allowing me to gasp before starting the tic again. Lots of fun. Usually my wife or daughters can massage or prod the ticking muscle, but how does one massage a lung?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Book Friday and My Beard is Driving Me Nuts

I'm sick - But what's really sick is that lame beardLooking for a free book? Read on through and answer the questions at the end.

October seems to be defined by sickness. My wife had the Swine Flu, my kids had para influenza, and I'm still sick with the crud. Haven't showered or shaved since August. I may have mentioned it before. I can't recall. October is a blur.

At any rate, sickness is boring, so let's change the subject.

I hit 500 subscribers this week—quite a milestone for the blog. I've been publishing here for almost five years now. I've been honing my craft, developing my voice, coming perilously close to having a regular blogging schedule… It's all thanks to you and your readership. Now that there are 500 regulars, I should probably be ecstatic that you aren't all leaving comments since I've made it a goal this Fall to reply to everyone.

Coming up in the next few weeks are some articles on ADHD & worry, my findings on Seasonal Affective Disorder, and a revealing article on embarrassing impulses. You won't want to miss it. Think of all the material I'll be posting that you can blackmail me with.

My chapter book is coming along in surges. I've set the goal to finish it before the 31st of this month. Assuming I don't just waste the next nine days watching Rockford Files episodes while feeling gray and washed out, I might even make it with a day or two to spare. I was mentioning this on my friend Brodi's website. I'm two thirds through the rewrite, but if I run out of time I could always reduce the ending to its crudest form:
Then something happens.
Oh no! Great angst.
Then Riff gets really clever.
Something happens.
Something else happens.
Yay! He saved the day.

I can tell it's going to be a blockbuster…

And now for the questions. Answer both to qualify. One person will win a copy of comedian Jeff Nichols' TrainWreck - My Life as an Idoit. I recently reviewed this book for ADDitude Magazine. It's irreverently funny, very offcolor, often profane, and not for the fair of heart, but its brutally honest details of Nichols' life on the ADHD edge reveal how a once troubled guy overcame his disabilities and found happiness. It wasn't my cup of tea, but I know I have more than a few ADHD readers who will enjoy it immensely. Please play along even if you don't want the book for yourself.
  1. How do you read this blog? (On the web, RSS reader, Facebook, by fairy proxy, etc.)
  2. What defined October for you?
Have a memorable weekend… Douglas sig

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Off the Shelf: “Everything Is Fine” by Ann Dee Ellis

I loved how this book was written. Such crisp prose. Sparse, yet intimate, with a clear and strong voice.

“Everything Is Fine” was written from the point of view of Mazzy, a young preteen who is coping with family tragedy. Her father is away on a new job, though one is given the feeling he is avoiding the drama at home. Her mother is a shell of her former self. Finding out what destroyed her is part of the mystery of the book.

Much like the peeling away of a lettuce, the story is told in parts. Some take place in the past, some in the present. Some relate to the tragedy, some give us a window inside the mind of this traumatized girl.

I felt the issues of depression were dealt with quite believably. I had a dark period in my life—never as catatonic as Mazzy’s mother but just as dysfunctional. The rest of the family really does need to pick up the slack. Some neighbors offered support and others cruel advice. This book was spot on. I believe it is a credit to Ellis’ writing that I was not made uncomfortable by the reading experience. I attribute this to the strong character found in Mazzy.

As the caretaker of her mother, Mazzy had a strength that belied her years. It stood in contrast with her social immaturity. Perhaps this would be my only criticism. Mazzy seemed too immature for someone thrust into that situation. Her age was not concretely detailed. She and her friends were interested in boys and boobs, but she acted as if she was eight at times. A daughter of mine read the book and had the same complaint.

That being said, I still admire this book greatly. The writing was compelling and I heartily recommend it. Depression can be debilitating, and some events in life can knock us on our backsides, but ultimately there is hope where there is a will to heal. I found that hope in this book, and for that I feel it is inspirational.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How AD/HD Makes Me More Like Monk Than I Care For

I’m sick with some sort of flu so this article lacks sparkle. I’m forcing myself to meet my new schedule, however, so I believe I deserve a cookie…

MonkphobiaI’m glad I don’t have cable TV anymore. All I would do was endlessly surf the channels at 3am trying to find something worth watching. If you’ve seen TV at that time of night perhaps you realize what a pointless pursuit that was. The trouble was that I couldn’t stop myself. I’d get into an AD/HD rut and flip, flip, flip the hours away. I’m sure I could have trained myself to not waste time in that manner, but it was easier and cheaper just to cancel the service.

Thankfully, the magic of the internet lets me keep up with a few programs I like, but otherwise I don’t watch much TV. However, the new programs during Fall make it a tempting time for TV viewing so I sample quite a bit of the old and new. This year I sampled Monk.

I decided to rent the pilot episode. I had caught one episode years ago and found it uncomfortable. Up for laughs was a sad shell of a man who, like some psychotic idiot savant, managed to solve the mystery, but only after bumbling about from phobia to phobia. At the time, I took it to be an unkind show.

I’m glad I gave the show a second chance. Clearly, the show was written well. I laughed in all the right places and enjoyed the story. I even wondered why I had been turned off by the show years ago. I don’t have obsessive compulsive issues or germ phobias so I couldn’t relate with most of Monk’s hangups. That was until I stepped into the kitchen.

Monday, October 19, 2009

’Musing Monday - A Creative Boost for the Week

Congratulations, Semi-Organized Mom. You’ve won “Everything is Fine” by Ann Dee Ellis. Send me your mailing address via email and I’ll wrap the book up and send it to you.

It’s a new week and I’m feeling better. I’m actually looking forward to proving to myself that I can accomplish my goals. I have a bookmark to illustrate and a book to finish before the end of the month. I know I can do it. I just have to remember not to be distracted and stay away from illness. Easy!

One way I’m going to meet my goals is by rethinking how I manage my todos. I hope to share with you what I discover soon, but first I have a confession to make.

I’m getting bored writing about fighting off Depression and AD/HD with cheek and pluck. I know. The entire blog is based on the subject, but I’ve been writing about it for almost five years now. I need to branch out. Find new things.

Miley Cyrus moons her friends in this leaked photoInitially, I thought I could build on the phenomenal popularity of my Miley Cyrus post. I’m not deluded. I know that it’s not the most popular article on my site because I was the one who wrote it. People aren’t visiting to read me. They just can’t get enough of Miley Cyrus in her underwear. Why not write about that all the time? I could call my blog “A Slinky Mind” and be all Miley Cyrus & underwear all the time. It would be a ratings jackpot!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Free Book Friday. Swine Flu Not Included.

I’ve got another free book for you today, but you might not want it. My wife has come down with the Swine Flu. No, she hasn’t sneezed & coughed all over the books. Actually, my wife is allergic to reading—gives her hives. She stays away from most literature (although recently she read a street sign. We were very excited for her). That means your free book would be safe, but I’ll soak the book in disinfectant before I mail it to you just to put your mind at ease.

I was amazed, however, at the manner in which the hospital treated my wife. There wasn’t any emergency room staff within sight and they apparently treated her via intercom. A stick holding a mask was pushed her way from someone hiding in the ceiling. She was in and out within twenty minutes. In fact, they pushed her through so quickly they didn’t even bother to take her co-pay.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Some Thoughts on Happiness & Depression. Then I Pick a Winner

Out behind Wheeler Farm

What a day.

I’m typing sluggishly due to a prolonged ticking episode. They come in many shapes and sizes and this is one of the long, spindly, slow motion ones. I feel as if I’m out of sync with time around me, moving through thick air with each step nailed to the moment behind it. I simply did too much today, but there’s nothing I would have done differently.

There was a time I’d rather have been by myself writing, drawing, dreaming in places such as the one depicted above. I wasn’t resigned to my duties as a stay-at-home dad. I wanted “greater” things. Instead, I spent today with my daughters in one joyous moment after another.

The eight year old had a seizure on Saturday, made worse by the Croop, so she stayed home today. We worked on getting her caught up with her homework. Then I gathered the rest of my daughters from school and we headed up to the Gateway mall—a thrill at the edge of our seats because the oldest was behind the wheel navigating rush hour traffic for her first time.

Friday, October 09, 2009

And Thus Begins Free Book Friday

(cc) Douglas CooteyThis week wasn't such a great week for writing. Between sickness, ticking, and ferrying kids about I never seemed to have any brain juice left when I sat down in front of my computer. The ship had sailed; the mind was gone. What little I did have seemed to be occupied reading news and researching antique pencil sharpeners.

Original Dom Casual Ad 1952What? I didn't tell you about that? I bought an old issue of American Artist from 1952 because it had an article about Alex Raymond in it. Fabulous illustrator. His work on Flash Gordon is probably what you most likely have seen. As I was thumbing through the magazine, I was delighted by two things. One was an original ad for Dom Casual. This ubiquitous font looks fairly humdrum on screen and had been dismissed by me way back in Windows 3.1 days. As far as I was concerned it could win a font deathmatch versus MS Comic Sans, but that wasn't saying much. Even

Monday, October 05, 2009

I Couldn't Be On Time Even If I Sat on a Clock

Hear this article read to you:

(cc) Douglas CooteyTonight was going to be glorious. Everything was lined up. I had decided that with so many local children's book authors having launch parties at the King's English Bookshop I should hobnob at a few of them. It would be much cheaper than attending a writer's conference and, if I bought a book and had it signed, I might endear myself to the authors. You know, get them to open up to me. Share their secrets with me. Invite me over for dinner.

Alas, all my clever plans were foiled.

There I was, chatting up author James Dashner on Twitter, helpfully letting him know his countdown clock was wrong, and using my trademarked and incredibly clever repartee to show him that I was somebody he could not only share his secrets with but also could borrow his laptop. I told him I'd see him later tonight, then hurried off to get the girls from their high school. I had them all booked for babysitting. I would hit the launch party, graciously decline the myriad offers from all the authors to join them for dinner, then spend a few hours writing at Barnes & Noble.

What could go wrong?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Anywhere But Here

Hear this article read to you:

Catherine Lake
Originally uploaded by Darkstream.
I’ve been walloped by a bug for the past two days. I’ve had worse, but I’m hardly having fun at the moment. Wobbly, woozy, and weak describes it best. Plus incontinent. Oh, is that too much information?

Tonight I imagined I was going to visit an art supply store in Sugarhouse, then spend some time in Barnes & Noble writing until closing. It was a nice dream. Too bad it never transformed into reality. Instead, I stayed home too groggy to write or draw or clean or do much of anything other than download TV episodes and watch them blearily. (Stargate Universe was pretty good, by the way.)

I had lots of drama with my family, though. They know how much I love it. They make sure I get a daily dose, especially when I’m sick.

Of course, everything isn’t always high strung with my girls. To the left is a photo representing one hour of hiking and lots of sweat & hyperventilating. Deep in the mountains between Brighton and Solitude is Catherine Lake. I went up there a month ago with my second oldest daughter. We had such a grand time, even with all the huffing and puffing. On nights like tonight when I can barely prevent myself from drooling all over the keyboard, I’m glad I have the photos to remind myself of happier, more mobile times.

Now please excuse me while I go crawl into my bed and try not to move for a few hours.
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