When Discovering Aberration is a Good Thing!

LADIES AND GENTS: Prepare yourselves for a wonderful treat! One of my dearest and earliest bloggers I met here on WordPress in the beginning, has done all I set out to do except he actually, actually accomplished it!

He is the hardest working, most dedicated author I know of and one of my fave authors sharing that honor with Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Cussler, and yes my main man Charles Dickens.

Sit back, enjoy your read, and please dearest readers, please repost!  Let’s spread the word!

SCBarrusPortraitsOriginals0050

 Creating

There is this thing out there floating around the universe hiding secretly behind every passion. I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s there planting seeds and fueling flames. The Romans called it a Genius (origin of the word Genii), a spirit that would inhabit the bodies of passionate people and make them feverishly create things.

I don’t know if I was ever possessed in such a manner. All I know is my life has been driven by a singular passion since I was young. Maybe it was planted when I was very small, this urge to create things and share them with others. Maybe it didn’t take form until I was older. Whatever the case, this passion, this creative drive has fueled every major decision in my life.

Hi, my name is S.C. Barrus and I’m a writer. I remember writing my first short story back when I was still in elementary school. It was a satire about the growth and bankruptcy of Microsoft and it was all of 2 pages long. I wrote it grinning all the while, convinced that the work was genius.

I was so excited to hear what others thought, I ran to my dad and began to read the work aloud. He listened patiently. He didn’t laugh, didn’t so much as smile. As my jokes fell flat, part of me fell through a hole.

I quit reading midway through. “Maybe I should write about something else…” I said nervously.

My dad looked at me with a quizzical half smile and said, “Maybe you should.”

For some reason, I didn’t stop writing that day. And my dad has been a huge support since (didn’t want to leave him hanging there ;)

I was in highschool when I really sat down and began writing a novel. I wrote it with a deep passion convinced it was a masterpiece. It was full of teen angst and sex and drugs, all the things my adolescent mind obsessed with, and was written with a style stolen directly from Chuck Palahniuk, my teen hero.

When I finished writing, I started exploring the strange world of publishing with a fervour. I taught myself about publishers and editors and agents, about queries and rejection. The process struck me as strange then, but I accepted it because I supposed “that’s the way it is”. It felt strange that I had put in so much work and alone created something, but when the book sells I’d get 15%. But then again, what did I know?

Despite my drive, the book was never picked up, and I was left with nothing but a stack of pages littered with ink. To this day, I’m glad I littered those pages with ink, because I learned so many valuable lessons. But I’m also glad it didn’t make it, because that taught me even more.

Despite the outcome, my creative writing teacher got behind me, and my school counselor began giving me gifts; books of poetry, pamphlets to writing contests, and an award for literary excellence. It might have been obvious, but I didn’t recognize it at that time. There were people guiding me from the beginning, people who believed in me.

Ira Glass once said that artists start creating art not because they are talented, but because they have good taste. It takes years before an artists work is any good. I was going through the motions, hoping to make a great work of art, writing and writing all the while. I pushed new stories into the world one after the other, sometimes publishing, but usually merely for the act of creating.

Then, two years ago, I began crafting another story. About midway through the writing of it, I realized that this was it. I was creating something worth standing behind and sharing with the world.

Check back next week for part 2 where I share with you the story behind my upcoming novel.

Cheers,

S.Cody Barrus

 

 

Odds and Sods – Late Night Early Morning Musings

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in the film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 3:30 am and here I sit wide awake.  Yesterday the boys and I headed off to Kitchener to meet my SIL and her 3 grandchildren at one of the city’s museums.  There was a special area set up for Circus themes and activities which included high wire walking for the children.  We waited.  In line.  For almost 2 hours.  Each child after being strapped from stem to stern with safety wires and harnesses had the opportunity to walk the high wire and we quickly figured that the wait would be about 5 minutes per child in line.  That meant of course that 12 children equaled a 60 minute wait and the adventures therein were many but that will have to wait for another post.

The point is that by the time I got home I was exhausted, stiff, and sore.  The day was tons of fun so it was worth it, but I knew when I got home I would want to sleep so I kept moving, puttering about here and there and finally gave in to a couple of glasses of fermented grapes and a little TV.  I finally surrendered to the sandman way too early, but oh my, it did feel good to slip between those sheets and head off to the land of nod, just to wake bright and early – well the bright part is me as it is still dark outside my window- thinking great thoughts, and pondering all things ponderable.

I noticed more brave little stories on FB about bullying and an article about Charlie Sheen on yet another rant, this time about his daughter being bullied, and this got me to thinking about this way too sensitive subject.  And from that pondering came questions.

Where will the heroes of tomorrow find their brave?  So many outstanding people suffered some form on bullying or rejection (which seems to somehow have become equalized to bullying) and in doing so became braver, became stronger. They became our leaders, our artists, our models for success.

Strength, I have heard, comes from Adversity.  Are we removing or trying to remove all adversity for the younger generations?  And in doing so are we making their future more difficult?

Are we over defining bullying?  When does a taunt between children playing become bullying?  The lines have become blurred.  I can clearly see brutality, which I think is a more accurate word than bullying, which ends in child suicides and torturous lives, and should have far more severe consequences than it seems to.  But where do we draw the line?  How will anyone learn to ‘suck it up’ and carry on?

When I was a child there were lessons to be learned; Life is not fair, some people are jerks who will be hurtful and the challenge was not in negating hurt but recognizing it and becoming stronger because of it.

I fear that because of the extreme cases of brutality we are going too far in teaching our children to cry ‘poor me’ in less severe situations, instead of teaching them to stand up, be strong and understand the reality of the world.  The reality is that in spite of our great hue and cry against brutality (bullying) there still continues to be bullies and there still will continue to be bullies in the future.

George Carlin and Dean Koontz have both expressed, one on stage and one in fiction, that when we over protect our children we are doing them a disservice.  They cannot become immunized against adversity because we do not allow them to experience adversity.  Is that what we are doing in this situation?

You see, I applaud anti-bullying programs.  We have more situations when groups of people, particularly students are standing up as a group against bullying. That is a good thing.  There are all kinds of education on recognizing when bullying takes place, stopping the act of bullying, and denouncing it publically, but I have yet to see a program that teaches us the reality of the how and the why of it and coping.  It just seems that we are so busy with the ‘buzz word’ of it all, that we are failing to carry through with the successful coping of it all.

 

Daily Prompt: Call Me Ishmael – The First Sentence

I usually do not post on a weekend but the Daily Prompt caught my eye and of course I just had to respond.  DP Challenge: Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.

My very very first thought was my favorite first sentence is not in my favorite book.  Way back in October 2011 I wrote about three of my personal fave authors and called it Cussler, Koontz and Stockett, and the line said, “Death was driving an emerald green Lexus“.

The first sentence of my favorite book is “He should never have taken that short cut.”  It’s from Michael Crighton’s book TIMELINE and the poor book is barely hanging on to existence.  Well actually it is not hanging on at all.  Its soft cover is curled back from the spine top and bottom.  The back cover has about an inch square flapped firmly back and some of the pages are missing.  At first I kept putting the pages back loose leaf like and then one day a few pages disappeared.  That was okay as I thought I would just fill the gaps in from memory as I read and reread and reread.  This book has served me well for the last twelve years but I can’t put it to rest until I replace it.

I discovered a long time ago that bedtime reading cannot be anything I am currently reading for the first time because I simply cannot put the book down.  So bedtime fare is one of a few fave rereads (although sometimes I get so caught up in it….well you know.)

So my poor book, like a weary soldier continues to soothe my soul and mind and guard against that thief of the night, Insomnia’ and yes it will be retired once I find another copy.

my valiant knight/night

my valiant knight/night

looks pretty weary huh?

looks pretty weary huh?

held together by the last straw I think

held together by the last straw I think

Books, Books, and More Books

Libraries are wonderful places.  I have a number of ebooks downloaded that I will sometimes read, but for me, the satisfaction of holding an actual book in hand is the best reading experience.  Ebooks are a tad cold for me.  I guess the difference could be equated with feeling the warmth of interacting with another human being in person or speaking and seeing them on Skype.  Don’t get me wrong on the whole skype thing, when those you love are hundreds or thousands of miles away Skype is the best.

Skype Technologies S.A. logo

Skype Technologies S.A. logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But give me a day that cries out or even murmurs, Come curl up and lets get lost in another world, and it is the warmth of a good book I feel.

Andersonlibrary.wordpress.com

I just returned two books that I read last week.  Having thousands of books at your disposal feels like an ermine and mink kind of luxery (before furs were a bad thing).

The first book was by one of my eternal fave authors Dean Koontz and a part of the Odd Thomas series.  Picking up anything Koontz is like having an old friend visit and Odd is wonderfully entertaining.  Poor Odd, who by the way is so optimistic would never think of himself as poor in anyway is beset in solving a mystery with the also very mysterious Annamaria.

I’ve seen Mr. Koontz interviewed and he is a very gentle man who I think values his privacy but judging by the mega books he has sold his mind is as sharp as any scalpel cutting through a plot.  But I have have been a part of his literary family, Odd or not.

The second book I read last week is by an author that is new to me, but looking at her many many publications I am surprised I did come across her before.  Her name is Iris

iris johansen

Johansen and the book What Doesn’t Kill you certainly had many exciting moments.  Enough to prevent me from putting down the book at a reasonable hour and getting some sleep (which is a good indication of excellence).

In with all the suspense and action Johansen peppers sexual tension between Catherine Ling and Gallo.  Will they or will they not hit the sheets?  Personally I don’t care.  Her breasts growing taunt or taunting repeatedly is not of interest.  Ms. Johansen tells a crisp clean tale and I will read her again (and perhaps just skip over the less interesting stuff).

I have been trying to update and clean up my wordpress site this morning but it just seems to take so long and I have not suceeded very well today.  But I must not think of that right now for it off for a good cuddle with another book.

The Reliable Unsurprisingly Surprising Mr. King 11/22/63

Stephen King unsurprisingly tells a tale in 11/22/63 that is way more than it would seem at first glance, which in itself is hardly surprising because you don’t build a huge readership and fan base by going for the obvious.  Mr. King always delivers that little bit more and he does it with style.

Ostensibly the book is about using time travel to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 in Dallas Texas.  The idea being of course that so many of the bad idea roads America travelled down following that event would have been prevented.  Seems like a short sweet idea with a big final hurrah at success.

I said in a blog recently that we must be careful of what we wish for and Mr. King aptly demonstrates the why’s of that caution and by the time you finish reading this novel you may answer the question: ‘If you had the power what one thing would you change in the past?’ a little differently at the end of the book than you might have in the beginning.

For one thing the story becomes very personal on more than one level.  I like that King writes from an everyman perspective so there are no big talk- their- own- language scientists around.  How the time portal works from Al’s Hamburger joint by stepping through the pantry cannot be explained.  It just is.  And when you go down the steps into the past you always arrive at exactly the same moment: at 11:58 a.m. on the morning if September 9, 1958.  This very fact has a huge impact on everything.

How Al Templeton, the original user of this portal,  makes the best use of the opportunity may at first seem rather mundane, but then he experiments a bit with some deeper subjects and comes up with a plan that will have worldwide impact.  Except, because of a glitch he must find someone else to do the deed, or as it turns out, the deeds.  And that’s where Jake Epping aka George Amberson comes in.

Intrigue and sub plots are woven as intricately and delicately as an elaborate lace tablecloth double and tripled layered here and there and well everywhere.  It’s a delicious story that is not as farfetched as say Michael Crichton’s Timeline (which I adore and reread again and again). Um I must take that statement back because Timeline is believable.

11/22/63 is expansive because it is not nicely encapsulated with a beginning, middle and end, but has endless possibilities in our own minds.  The potential for discussion of those possibilities is immense and leaves the door wide open for more.  What is the story of the man with the yellow card?  I want to know more about him and the others like him.  How many portals are there?  Who else has used them to what end?

I love it that the past is obdurate and like Dean Koontz’ (best book of his all time in my opinion), Lightning the past (or Fate) will seek to return, to correct change.

It is easy to become intimate with each of the characters: Jake, George, Harry Dunning, Al, The Yellow Card Man, Lee Harvey Oswald, Marina, June, Sadie Dunhill, so many that count so much.  The people are as real as you and I and that is why we care so much about them.  There are no heroes here, just folk like you and me, living the best we know how in any given moment, and often coming up just that wee bit short.

If You Really Knew Me…I Took an Old Friend Down Tonight

Flurries fly but I persist in believing spring is here!

It’s Thursday and time for Mama’s Losin It Writing Prompts. My choice is – If you really knew me, you would know that…..

You would know that I get hooked on books. Or more accurately hooked on words. That leads to a lot of rereading of phrases, paragraphs or the whole book. I think I may have an addictive personality.

Any way the old friend I took down was not someone I demolished in any way as the title suggested, but an old book I pull down from the shelf  now and then.

One of my addictions from about twenty odd years ago is Dean Koontz. The book tonight is a fav and it was published way back in ’88 called Lightning.
This book not for it’s first line but for the gripping tale he tells. Good suspense although the first line is pretty good.

I mention first lines because I am a sucker for them. Charles Dickens, my absolute hero was best at it. Who could forget the first line in …A Tale of Two Cities….”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch …”

Of course that story also had the most memorable last line also…”It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a …”

But for me and Mr. Koontz possibly, the best first line was in a book called Winter Moon and the line is… “Death was driving an emerald green Lexus.”

In my dreams that’s the way I want to start a book. With a line so gripping you have no choice but to dive in filled with excitement and anticipation. (Anticipation is another addiction). sigh…soon I will have no secrets from you!

Oh and just for your information I do tend to fall for any good line – but that would be another blog!

Any favorite line out there you would like to share?
 

No Crying..No Sadness..what the heck are we doing?

No Crying..No Sadness..what the heck are we doing?

*Disclaimer:  This does not apply to every parent, but there are enough that it is now making the news on a daily basis.

I woke up this morning to my fav radio program and the He and She of it were in a big discussion about Bambi and Walt Disney in general and the stories that make our kids cry.  Like it was a bad thing.

There has been a fair bit in the news lately about what we are doing to our young; wrapping them tight in bubble wrap for protection, not letting them experience rejection, not letting them face the facts about life and death.  The thought is that we are shielding our children from reality and that will mean they are unable to cope when suddenly on their own.

A local news show recently did a piece on the number of first year university students who experience depression, to the point that they cannot function.  Having lived a sheltered protected life they are not prepared to leave home and manage in a world where they must stand on their own feet. 

My fav blogger, The Domestic Fringe addresses this.  And does it well.  Bill Gates has his say also (Google Bill Gates 11 Things and other speeches.)  Dean Koontz has also addressed in his books how we sanitize our children and ourselves so that when life intervenes we do not have the immunity to stand up to it and survive, stronger than before.  I guess the list would be endless.

We don’t seem to want our children to be “uncomfortable”.  Life is joyful.  It truly is but there are tears, hardship, unfairness, and inequality.  These serve to make us stronger.  And often the joy comes from conquering and when we don’t conquer, we learn and grow. 

Stories that make us cry, teach us.  Bambi, Old Yeller, The Lion King and the circle of life.  Those stories taught us love, joy, to believe, to live.  One comment this morning on the radio was,”Someone always dies. What is this?”  Well someone always dies be it a much loved pet or human.  We learn to treasure our memories.  We learn the cleansing wholesome effect of crying.

So cry world…..and experience joy!

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