My wife has been in the hospital for the past few days and me and the dogs have been batching it. Not too bad. After spending the day at the hospital, I would stop by the market and get a few rotisserie chickens and TaDa! Dinner is served. A walk around the lake, a shower and off to bed, praying that my wife is feeling better.

Well, my lovely wife had her surgery yesterday and it was a traumatic day for both of us. After 12 hours, she finally got into surgery and a 2 hour operation lasted 5 hours. To say I was worried would be an understatement. But at last, the doctor came out with a great prognosis, that her back will be just fine. A night in ICU to make sure she recovers from the anesthetic and then a day to rest in her room and she will be back home with her loving husband and three dogs.

With nothing more that I could do and a security guard threatening to pull his gun if I didn’t leave, I reluctantly went home to feed, water and walk the dogs. After which I wrote everyone e-mails and updated her status on Facebook. After spending an hour answering IMs on FB to family and friends, I managed to drag my tired self off to bed.

Waking up this morning, I noticed what my wife was talking about. The floor is sandy. I practiced sliding from one end of the living room to the other and soon had the dogs chasing me and barking. Since it was 4 am and I didn’t want to wake the neighbors, I fed them to shut them up.

I guess since we live in the desert and she walks around barefoot most of the time, she would notice this more than me in my flip-flops. So I began to do what I had promised and clean up before she gets home, so she won’t have to get right up and begin cleaning.

Finding the bucket, I fill it with fresh clean water and add some Dettol. Smells nice, this will make her feel better that the house is clean and smells less like a kennel. I am such a good husband J

I start at the top and begin in the spare bedroom. On hands and knees I take a wash rag and begin on one corner and mop it around a few strokes. The tile floors are one foot squares and I managed to make a mess that would fill a coffee cup. Hmmmm? I better sweep first. So I get the broom and sweep the entire room into the hallway. What an impressive pile of hair and sand. By the time I finish the two bedrooms and two bathrooms, I have enough hair and sand to fill half the bucket.

Continuing down the stairs, I sweep the kitchen, laundry room, office and into the hall. WOW! I have enough hair her to make a new dog! I will call it “Dusty”! After just two days of my wife being in the hospital, we have enough sand to make a decent sized sand box and enough hair to create and entire dog. I look around at the three inquisitive faces and expect to see hairless dogs, but NO! Not only are their coats long and luxurious, they seem to be molting right in front of my eyes.

So I decide to get ahead of the game and get the doggy brush and brush them out. Viola! Another dog! We could start a puppy farm here. I take the garbage bag of hair to the bin and say farewell to Dusty. Then I notice that the drive is filled with sand and sweep the sand pile in the house out to join its lost family and wash it out to the street, where hopefully the wind will take it to someplace else. Don’t feel alone people in snow covered lands; we in the desert have our problems too. I finally get the dust pan and take several trips to the bin with about 20 pounds of sand.

That done, I begin once again in the spare bedroom and take my fresh Dettol and wash rag and begin mopping the floor on hands and knees. I am so proud that my wife will come home to a nice clean houseJ.  Three buckets of Dettol and countless washing of the rag in the sink. One unclogging the sink from hair, the upstairs is finished.

I attack the stairs with a vengeance. The hair seems to be multiplying as I wash each step. Didn’t I just sweep these stairs? Honey! You need a haircut! I look down at her in the hallway, as she looks at me sheepishly. By the time I reach the bottom stair, there is another dog’s worth of hair standing in a pile, “Dusty Jr.” I swear girl, you are going to get another brushing and a vacuuming. This is ridiculous!

Three more buckets of Dettol and another two sink unclogging, I am finished. I collapse back in my chair and sip my coffee. Proud of how well the looks and smells. I am drenched in sweat and exhausted. How does my wonderful wife do this every day? What a pain.

Hurry up and get well, my love. I have a full time job and it sure isn’t as hard as this.

Tomorrow I will tell you about my experience of cleaning the shower, while showeringJ, Yes “Naked” Shower cleaning! Rule number 1, Never, ever, ever clean the shower, while you are in it, naked, with bleach!


 
 
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FREE on Kindle
Aug 29 - Sep 2, 2013


A disabled girl is precariously balanced on a slip of ground that is gradually breaking free over a 2000 foot cliff.

Her father, mother and two sisters are unable to hold on to the small branch that prevents her and her wheelchair from plummeting over the edge.

Can Millie and Honey get there in time? Will their combined efforts be enough to turn the tide and save her from certain death?




 
 
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KDP is AWESOME! Where else can you take a document straight from MS WORD and publish a book?

It took me a few tries, but after a weekend of tinkering, to get everything perfect. TaDa! My book is published and ready for the world to see.

This weekend, my book went live for Kindle FREE Days, and it is heartening to see comments from people like: "Amazing, my son absolutely loves this book, and I had great pleasure reading it with him!
We look forward to the next story from Millie and Honey."
and, "HAVE JUST READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS AND SO FAR THINK THE BOOK IS BRILLIANT   CAN'T WAIT TO FINISH READING IT!"

I will be back to my BLOG with a new story about the 'Boy in the Green Dungarees' in the next week or two. I have not forgotten about him :) I am currently busy getting out this book and working on the 4th book in the series, staring RAGS!



 
 
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Wednesday, 10 April, 2013
 
It’s been a few days since I wrote last and a lot has happened,
in my life. On Friday, I woke up and found that I had somehow been changed into  a dog. A Golden Retriever, as a matter of fact. Since then, my life has taken an  unexpected turn, as if becoming a dog isn’t traumatic enough.

I feel compelled to chronicle the last few days, while I can still hold a pencil in my mouth and type on my laptop. It is getting increasingly more difficult to form thoughts as a human being as my mysterious transformation is becoming more complete and my thoughts are becoming more canine in nature.

For posterity, I want to thank my parents for naming me Dean Cussler Means after two of my father’s favorite writers, Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler. I also would like to thank Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler for providing my 9 year mind with such incredible stories that challenged my reading abilities and took me on many wonderful and intense journeys.

 Saturday was an interesting day as my brothers and sisters all came in and wanted to know where I was. Of course that launched everyone into the whole story while I would sit there and calmly listen. My brothers and sisters seemed to understand, but my nieces and nephews had to ask me to do a myriad of tricks to prove that I understood them. But it was all done amongst family and everyone was good natured about my predicament.

After everyone was there, the younger ones soon lost their fascination in me and gravitated to the living room to watch cartoons.  The adults seemed to prove the
hangers-on as they persisted in trying to come up with a reason why I had changed into a dog and how they could get me changed back. Several ideas were brought up, from psychics to witch doctors. I hated to be the object of everyone’s conversation. It is one thing to imagine that everyone is talking about you, and yet another to KNOW that they are talking about you.

Eventually I got tired and laid down by the fireplace, behind the younger children in the living room and took a long nap. Everyone seemed to calm down and their conversations returned to normal, until dinner. The whole crew was gathered around the table and seated. I looked on expectantly, but knew that I could not eat at the table as my new body would make too much of a mess, so I insisted that I be fed on the floor, where a small mess was easier to clean up.

Nothing eventful happened that night and everyone eventually went to bed, with talk about the Easter Egg Hunt at the fairgrounds tomorrow and the wonderful dinner mom and my sisters were planning Easter night. Mom had let me sleep in my own bed, even though Honey, Archie and Rags protested quietly. 

Thomas came up on the bed, after everyone was asleep and checked me out. He
seemed to know who I was and didn’t make much of a fuss over me, besides a
cursory sniffing, and laid down beside me for our big sleep.

In the morning, everyone was excited as we had breakfast then loaded into cars and vans to go over to the fairgrounds for the Easter Egg Hunt. On the way, I pressed the button to slide the window down and stuck my head out into the wind. What an incredible medley of scents blew past with the rush of wind! My ears were flapping back against my head and my tongue lolled. My fur blew in the wind and it was wonderful! But the smells that wafted in through the window were the best. I was in heaven throughout the ride.

My mind raced at the different odors that attacked my senses as we drove along. With the part of my brain that was now canine, I could actually see pictures of the places we drove past. With a heightened sense of smell, the whiffs of different things actually connected to the places we were driving past. I knew when we had left the country, with its smell of grass, and cows and the myriad of flowering plants. The odor of the city has a different smell and flavor. Wood from the houses was stronger, the odor of tar from the shingles and the feel of more people concentrated into a more compact area. I could tell
there were more people around me from their different smells and I felt the press of their auras on mine.

Dogs have always been thought to have a sense about people and they do. I can tell you first hand that each person has colors that emanate from them. As a brother of the pooch society, I can see them quite clearly. It looks like a mist of several layers that originate inside the body of each individual and extend beyond their physical form a few inches to a few feet, depending on the type of person they are and their mood. These emanations depict the person’s true natures and feelings. I have connected them to my own family, while watching them and knowing their true characters, it made perfect sense when seeing the colors that swirl within and around their
bodies.

Watching the gathering crowd and taking in the scents of the food stalls at the fairgrounds, I am excited and begin to whine slightly as we park the car. Honey, Archie, Rags and I are jumping up and down on the back seat as mom and dad, open the door and let us out. Immediately, we run from the car and surround the children as they get out of the other vehicles on the grass parking lot.

It is a warm day and I am panting to cool down. My brother Paul has brought a few bowls and some water and ‘The Pack’ gather around as we drink heavily from the bowls. The water is cool and refreshing and we are soon cooled down enough to explore the surroundings and play with the kids. I run after Kimberley and Brodie as they trot towards the entrance to the fairgrounds, ready to hunt for Easter eggs. Honey is right beside me and Archie and Rags follow slowly behind, hanging with mom and dad. Michael runs up and snatches Rags and jogs off to catch up with the other kids.

The Easter egg hunt doesn’t begin for another hour, but the food stalls are open and doing a good business. As we enter the gate, the girls head straight for a waffle stand and begin begging for a waffle. Honey and I are both panting and smiling as we know that they won’t get through half their treat, before we will have to help them. Sure enough, Brodie is handing me a piece before she even has a chance to take a bite, Here you go DC,” she says, looking around to see that no one else is looking. 

We decided on Saturday that it would be best to call me ‘DC’ rather than my name, Dean Cussler, as we have many friends that will be here today, and it would be awkward enough to explain why I wasn’t there and answering questions about their new dog. I spot mom and dad at another food stall paying for something that Chloe, Kelsey, and Lisa want. I see Michael, Paul, Erin, Lara, and Steven at another stall, buying coffee and other things as I follow Kimberley and Brodie around the fairgrounds.

In the field where the Easter egg hunt is going to take place, there are bales of hay, straw and other things laid out to secret the eggs and make it more challenging for the children to find them. Around the perimeter are the stalls and beyond that the parking lots filled with vehicles. There is an excitement in the air as families pour into the grounds and kids are yelling and screaming and generally having fun.

I hear Michael calling Kimberley and turn to see where he is at. She can’t hear him and I move around to get her attention. When I look back toward her and Brodie, I see a man holding their hands and walking them toward the car park. Around him is a dark cloud of an aura and the scent of him make the hairs on my back bristle. They are saying something to him and trying to pull away, but he has them held fast and is walking them hurriedly toward a van.

Knowing in an instant, that he is abducting them, I spin around and run as fast as I can toward them. He has the door open and shoves them inside. I am close and barking loudly. Honey hears me and senses the urgency and the danger. She catches up with me and together we close the distance to the van. The man slams the van door and opens the driver side door. We are almost upon him as he slips into the seat. I grab his pants leg and honey leaps on him, her jaws snapping at his face. He pushes her hard and she falls out of the van and on top of me. I hold tightly as he jerks his leg free with a tearing sound as the pants leg comes apart. Honey and I both get up and renew our attack, but
the stranger is too fast and quickly slams the door.

I try to open the side door of the van to let Kimberley and Brodie out, but the engine roars to life and the wheels begin to roll. Honey and I both race after the van, barking the alert as we go. Archie begins chasing after us and Rags manages to wriggle out of Michael’s hands and join the chase.

Everyone is now turned to see what the commotion is and people begin to follow ‘The Pack’ with their eyes, as we chase the van through the parking lot toward the entrance of the fairgrounds, yet no one seems to be doing anything to stop it. Seeing the route the van has to take to the entrance, I see where it will have to turn to go down another lane and then again at the end. I take the straight path and try to head him off before he gets out the entrance and away from the area.

Honey, Archie, Rags and several other dogs begin following me as we close on the entrance of the fairgrounds. Soon, we are near the gate and see other cars lined up to pay the parking fee. Headlong we run into the opening, hoping to cause enough confusion to stop the van. But the driver keeps coming. Slowly, he pushes through the pack of dogs and the other cars and eventually reaches the road. I throw myself at the driver’s door, snarling at the driver. Honey does the same thing as we try to get inside the van and stop him from leaving the park with Brodie and Kimberley.

Paying no attention, he moves slowly onto the road. Other of the newly formed pack jump the fence, and pour out of the gate, in an ever growing gang of canines that spill onto the road and crowd around the van. One of the police officers there on duty, comes running out as the van is forced to stop. 

Surrounded by howling dogs, the man stays inside the van, trying to edge free of the pack of dogs that surround him. I jump up repeatedly, pawing at the door handle and eventually manage to get the side door opened. Kimberley and Brodie launch themselves out of the vehicle, before the man inside can do anything and is quickly surrounded by me, Honey and a dozen other dogs.

Soon, the officer has the man in custody and my nieces are back together with our family. It was a decidedly eventful day, but ended well. We had great fun, hunting Easter eggs and Brodie won, as she had Honey and me helping smell out the scent of the people that placed the eggs and the smell of the egg coloring.

As afternoon came, we all packed into the cars and headed back to our house, where I am putting this down in my journal. It has been a thrilling day, but worrisome at the same time as I am beginning to feel more in tuned with my new body and the mental functions are becoming more and more canine. I am finding it easier to apply my senses to my canine thoughts, than to my human ones. Human words are becoming harder to form in my mind. I am afraid that after three days in this body, the transformation is
continuing.

Whatever caused me to change from a 9 year old boy into a Golden retriever is ongoing. I just pray that it is not permanent and that someday soon, I will change back.

 
 
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I was lying on my bed, where I had fallen asleep reading my  book. The next thing I realized was my ear was twitching, so reached up to  scratch it and felt claws. That is when I realized that something was terribly  wrong. I sat up in my bed and looked around. Everything seemed normal, except  that I had somehow magically changed in my sleep. For I was no longer a human male, but a dog!

 Let me back up a little. My name is Dean Cussler Means and I am the nine year old son of Joe and Rose Means. We live on a farm and have several animals, which include our three dogs; Honey, a mostly collie, with lush brown hair, Archie, a mostly cocker spaniel, who is blonde, and Rags, with a multitude of greys for a coat. We also have a cat, Thomas, who is an American short hair that is white with tiger stripes dripping down off his back, like a blanket. My father is a writer and has written a series of children’s book after them: Millie and Honey: The Incredible Instantaneous Interplanetary
Adventure.

 Anyway, I had to tell you that to explain my somewhat strange name, Dean Cussler. My father, the writer, and consummate reader named me after two of his favorite writers, Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler. I guess this was to instill in me a desire to read or even write, in my later years. Maybe this is one reason I do love reading so much.

 Back to my story: It was late on Friday night, Good Friday as it was and I had on my new green dungarees. I was sitting on my bed, where I had fallen asleep. I was reading one of Clive Cussler’s newest books, ‘Zero Hour.’ It is not out for sale till May 2013, but my father is friends with him and he gets me, and him, an advance copy of all his and Dean Koontz books. Cool or what?

So, anyway I had just woken up. Looking at my clock, it is a little past midnight on March 29, 2013 and I am a DOG! I am not sure what kind as it is dark, so I pad over my bathroom and reach up awkwardly and flip the  switch. It takes me a few tries as I am not well versed in this body yet to make it do what I want, but it is coming to me. Maybe in a little while I will figure out how to stop my tail from waging as it is getting on my
nerves.

After a few tries, I manage the light and kind of dance, hobble over to the sink, where I sit my paws on the rim and stare at myself in the mirror. Ha! I am quite handsome! I seem to be a Golden Retriever. I move my head both left and right and admire myself, as I stare panting at my reflection.

I suppose that most boys of nine years old would be shocked, scared or freaked out at having been changed into a dog, but I stood there intrigued. I guess Mr. Koontz would have been happy to see me and if I had visited them in my present form before 2007, I am sure that Trixie would have been a good friend.

Standing there, looking into my mirror, it dawned on me that my dungarees fit quite well, in spite of my bodily transformation. Today, we call them coveralls, but an old friend of my father’s calls them dungarees and I just like the name. They are a dark hunter green, and they allow me freedom of movement and yet cover up my nakedness. Though, as a dog, it might prove quite embarrassing when I have to use the bathroom, as I am not quite sure how I will get them off. It does seem that a hole has appeared, for my tail, which keeps wagging back and forth.

I think I can sense the muscles that controls my tail, and I work on it for a few minutes, till I manage get it to wag even faster. It seems that the muscles that control my tail are attached to those in my mouth as I pant faster too. Pretty soon, I have the panting and the wagging somewhat under control and decide that I should try walking and running, to get all my functions regulated to my command.

Wait! What about talking? I consider this for a minute and try to say something. I know that the canine vocal cords don’t have the capability to make human voice possible, but what the heck. Here I am, a human boy which has changed into a dog. My reasoning and thinking ability have not diminished, so maybe I can still talk in a human voice. 

“Good morning Mr. Dean Cussler Means” is what my brain thought, but what came out was more like, “Grrrr, arf, arf, Growl, bark!” This seemed to be understandable to me in some weird way as the same thing, which answered my second question; can I understand what other dogs say? I did manage to keep my voice down as I did not want to attract any unwanted attention from my fellow dogs, Honey, Archie and Rags. I am not sure how they will view me in my new form.

My hearing is very acute as I pay attention to any movement in the house and find that everyone is sound asleep. My ears pert up automatically as I listen and I find that can pick out everyone’s breathing, from my father’s and Archie’s snoring to the soft breathing of my mother. This is really awesome! 
 
Sliding my paws down off the sink, I walk softly out of my bathroom, to the door of my bedroom and reach up for the handle. I am glad that we have the European handles as the round ones would prove to be a bit more of a nuisance to open. I quickly unlatch the door and take my paw and draw it inward as I back up.

Free from my room, I pad down the stairs as quietly as I can and head through the living room and kitchen to the back door, where I can explore my new body and figure out how it works. As I walk through the living room, I smell a strange scent and look over at the couch and see Thomas, curled up in a ball. I wrinkle my nose as I pass. Now I know why Archie doesn’t like Thomas. 

His odor isn’t exactly setting off the pleasure centers of my mind. My canine vocabulary are flashing fight or flight images in bright red flashes and my whole body is surging with adrenaline as I creep slowly by.

This fascinates me, as I have a deeper understanding of the canine mind with this new revelation, as I sense, feel, smell, and see new and enhanced feelings from this body that I have never had before. The thought processes are totally different as the dog mind is limited in its capacity to think and relies more on basic instinct, to the inputs it
receives.

Silently, I move into the kitchen and walk to the back door. I am relieved that my night vision is somewhat enhanced and I can pick my way around things without bumping into them and alerting anyone to my presence. 

Slowly, I open the back door and pull it inward with my paw. I reach up and undo the latch that locks the screen door and nose my way out. Catching the screen before it closes too loudly and softly let it hit the jamb.

I take a moment and sit on the deck, taking in the cool night breeze. It brings a myriad of fragrances to me that awaken a thousand feeling within my doggie body. Some pleasurable, some are not. As I sit there, looking about at my new world, I see and hear a lot of things that I never noticed before. It is amazing how everything ties together with sight, smell and hearing. Now that I have these superpowers, I have to understand how they work and translate them from my dog mind to my human mind.

Rising, I trot to the fence and slip the latch easily and nose my way out of the back yard into the national forest that abuts our property and head off down the trail that we walk nightly with the dogs. Along the way, it becomes apparent why Honey, Archie, and Rags stop at each place they do on the walks. The scents are overpowering and I find myself attracted to spot where they have been before, but mostly, the strange smells of other
animals.

Scientific studies have determined that dogs are color blind. Well, I am here to tell you that this is simply not true! If anything, they see more colors than the normal range of humans. Each object emits an aura and I can see this force quite clearly with my new doggie eyes. Everything, animate or inanimate gives off a certain color glow and it is amazing. A red flower may give off a green appearance, thus confusing my mind as to the real color of the plant. With my superpowers, I don’t just see the visual color of the thing I am looking at; I sense the feelings of the entity.

In my wonder and awe at my new found senses, I noticed that things changed their aura colors as I approached. Since I am loving this new freedom of senses, I see that most things are sending me love and they change green as I approach them. It is an incredible shock to me to know that each object has the capacity to think and even forecast events.

I also notice that I can tell where other animals are by looking in the leaves of the trees. Wherever a bird is sitting, I not only hear its breathing, I see its aura and the change
in the coloring of the leaves around it.

Over to my right is the small creek that flows from north to south along our property line and I see a difference in the aura of the trees and foliage along the bank and it is moving along the bank as well as the sound and smell of some strange creatures. For some reason I know there are more than one of them and my canine inquisitiveness draws me into a run toward them.

Running silently, I feel free and wild as I stalk my quarry at the creek. The muscles of my legs are fluid and they move effortlessly as they propel me toward the bank of the stream. Excitement builds as the smell of the animals get more powerful. I am close now and I crouch low to the ground, sniffing quietly, not to scare them. Moving through the underbrush, I slip soundlessly toward the banks, till I see a mother raccoon and three little raccoons washing something in the water.

Lying on the ground, I can smell the earth beneath me and I pant silently as I watch the ritual of the raccoons as they search for food in the creek bed. Every few seconds, the mother raccoon pops her head up and sniffs around, ever vigilant of the dangers around her. I must have instinctively approached downwind of them, or she would have sensed me and ran off with her brood.

I don’t notice time, it could have been a mere few minutes or as long as hours, but eventually the raccoons left and I knew it was time for me to go home. I rose and shook off the dirt and other things that clung to my coat and trotted leisurely toward the house. Along the way, I notice a shadow of blackness rippling through the forest ahead and my fur tingles. I freeze instantly and raise my long nose to the air, my senses on high alert. My ears cock toward the front and my head swivels from side to side, like a radar dish,
trying to pick up the signal.

FOX! I know in my doggie mind that the animal ahead is a fox, on its nightly rounds looking for food. I know that being a 70 pound Golden Labrador, I am too big for it to consider me prey, so I run head long toward it, in an attempt to scare it off the trail. It works, as after just four steps, I hear it pause for just a millisecond, before scurrying off in the opposite direction.

The rest of the journey home was uneventful and I allowed my mind to work on the problem of trying to convince my mom and dad, that the dog that now lived with them was their son. The plan is nearly complete when I quietly enter the house and work my way, like a ghost, back to my bedroom.

Following a character in Dean Koontz’s book, ‘Watchers,’ I used a pencil to type a message for my parents on my computer. After that, I decided to clean the forest out of my coat and lie down for a nap.

I was awakened by my mother.

“And just who might you be pretty boy?” Her voice quietly came to me.

I sit up and pant my best smiling face and look at her. She is looking around for her son, who is obviously not there, in her mind.

Slowly, I jump from the bed and take her hand gently in my mouth. She follows me to the computer and I tap the space bar. The computer whirs to life and the message that I had typed on MS Word pops up on the screen.

Bewildered, she looks at me and then at the computer.

MOM AND DAD!

It says in huge letters. The Golden Retriever in my room is ME!
Your son, Dean Cussler! I don’t know how this happened or if this is temporary or permanent, but I woke up last night and TaDa! I am the beautiful dog before you.


It seems strange and disturbing, but I still have the knowledge of being human and the vocabulary, as you see. Unfortunately, I cannot talk in human voice, so we will have to figure out how to communicate…

She let herself slip down into my chair as she read the rest of the letter I wrote, her eyes darting back and forth from me to the letter as she read. She said nothing till she had finish the letter, then she took both hand and held my furry face between them.

“Is that really you Dean?” she asked.

I chuffed once and licked her hands.

“Oh goodness me,” she let out a breath, “I had better get your father and together we will figure this thing out.”

At that instant, Rags ran into the room, barking his head off. 

“What’s going on here?” he demanded, “Who is making all that noise!”

Honey and Archie follow right on his tail, Archie bellowing like a hound dog, “Rags heard something. I hear it too. Come on Honey; let’s find out what it is.”

I stood there as they crowded around me sniffing me quizzically. 

“Good Morning Honey, Archie and Rags,” I barked softly. 

They froze for a moment and sniffed me again.

Rags, demanded, “Is that you master Dean?”

“Why yes, it is me.” I answered. Of course this dialog wasn’t quite this way as dogs don’t have the same vocabulary as we humans do, so I am translating it so it is more understandable to my readers.

The true nature of the conversation is something more like, “Smell Dean. Dean, you? Dean People now?”

During this exchange, my father walked into the room and mom showed him the letter.

He read it, also glancing back and forth between me and the letter as he read. Once he was finished, he looked at me and placed his hands on his hips.

To be continued…

 
 
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HOW I WRITE A STORY – Like we said in the RANGERS: "It may not work for you, but it is just one technique!"

Many people have asked me how I write a story. Everyone has an idea for a story at some time in their life and they want to put it on paper. Here is the process that I usually employ:

I usually get a spark of an idea for a story. The TaDa Moment, An Epiphany, if you will.

Sometimes, I will write it then, but usually I make a mental note to write it later, when I have a ‘quiet moment’ in my life and I can focus on the story itself. This time is usually on Friday or Saturday night, after everyone is in bed fast asleep.

I try to write when I am tired.

“WHAT?”

Yep! When I am tired, my logical mind doesn’t focus on semantics, spelling, punctuation and little things that distract my creative mind.

Now that my sub-conscious mind has had a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks, developing the story, I am ready to write it. If I get too tied up with the details, I lose the story. So I sit down at my computer, lights off except for one near the computer. Sometimes I even turn that one off and type by the light of the monitor.

Than it begins.

My ‘creative mind’ has polished the apple of my story to a fine sheen and it is ripe for the picking. I get comfortable and begin typing the first sentence. I let the story flow and try not to anticipate what I will write next.

I concentrate on the keying in the words in my mind and the story appears as I am typing. Usually, I am reading the words as they are typed, as if I am reading someone else’s story. Not critically, but in anticipation of what is coming next. Not forcing the next sentence or paragraph, but rather wondering what is coming, how it will turn out.

When I was writing my 3rd book: “Blue Angel Planet,” I was so caught up in the tension of Brodie falling off the cliff, I couldn’t stop typing until I found out how it ended. I was so scared, that she and Archie were going to tumble off the cliff, two thousand feet to their death. I didn’t know how they would get out of the mess they were in. Something in my sub-conscious brought information from another book to the fore and TaDa!

Sometimes I get caught up in the story and hit a snag. I stop and read back over the story and the flow usually picks back up. I don’t worry about fixing anything wrong, except letting MS WORD suggest a few misspellings and working on them. That allows me time to change my thought process for a few minutes without getting too much into my analytical mind.

Very seldom does the final story end up as I had planned, I have to let Millie (My Muse) interject her thoughts on the story. It almost always adds that little bit extra that I did not think about. But hey! That is what writing is all about, ‘THE MAGIC!”

NOW MY STORY IS DOWN ON ELECTRONIC PAPER

1.     I begin to work, by letting MS WORD ‘suggest’ corrections, like punctuation, spelling errors, semantics, tense, and fragments. You know, those little pesky analytical things that get in the way of the creative process.

2.     Then I sit back and read it through. I make corrections to make it flow better and add details to clarify anything that, ‘I,’ as the reader need to know. ADD! ADD! ADD!

a.     Add detail

b.    Add clarification

c.     Add answers to questions that you, as a reader, want to know.

3.     Once I have it reading well, I read it out loud. Does it still sound good? Make corrections.

4.     WAIT!

5.     You are done for now. Let it set till you are rested and work on your story again.

6.     I let my analytical mind take over. Usually the next day, when I am fresh and can study what I have written. Make more corrections.

7.     When it is perfect, as far as I am concerned, I read it to my wife. J She usually stops me a hundred times, asking questions about this or that. I make notes in the story, of her questions, or just fix it right then, as I am reading the story to her.

8.     Once we are both satisfied that the story is perfect, I usually present it to my peers on,
Http://FanStory.com and get feedback. Make more corrections.

9.     This helps me look at the story from the eyes of another writer. I have a few close friends who are wonderful writers and they challenge me to make each story better with some great ideas on development and content.

10.  After it has passed through the “Peer Review,” I usually publish it on my website at:
http://www.authorsden.com/joemeans

11.  Or at my website at: Http://millieandhoney.com

12.  When I get an especially good piece that I feel is a winner, I get with a friend like: Morgen Bailey and set it up on her website, for others to see: Http://morgenbailiey.com. She also does reviews, and it gets your work out there.

13.  Twitter, Facebook – two great places to show your friends what you have done J

14.  GOOD LUCK!

Whatever technique you use, it is just that, a technique. What works for me, may not work for you. The biggest thing about writing a story, book, poem, or whatever you want to do, “JUST DOES IT!”
[I don’t want to infringe on Nike ]

Write, write, and write some more! DO THE NEEDFUL!
You have a story!
It NEEDS a voice!
DO IT!
Give your creation the life it begs for. Once it is done, then the work begins. There are millions of articles out there on how to improve what you have already written. BUT, you have to write it before you can improve it.

 

THE GIFT

03/15/2013

1 Comment

 
Picture
The day is bright and sunny and the forest is covered in a mist that is deep and soundless. You decided to take a walk on this bright spring morning to clear the cobwebs of the long winter, but looking into the fog, you have your doubts.

What the heck, you think, it will burn off soon and it might be nice to walk through the cool forest before it gets too hot. Lately, the mornings have been cool, but soon give way to the heat of early afternoon, where it lays in stillness. You have made up your mind, so you gather up your courage and start walking.

The sun is shining brightly as you walk down the path from the road through the park. The proud trees with their budding branches will soon show their full foliage as the leaves are already beginning to open. The heat of the sun feels good on your face and shoulders as you walk briskly down the path. You can feel the energy of the old trees as you pass them. “Good morning old sirs,” you whisper to the wakening trees as you pass.

You favor one tree with a fond touch as you pass. He is the oldest in the forest of younger trees. Old and stately, he stands to one side of the park, where he has watched over many generations of children playing beneath his branches. You send your love to him and you feel his love and strength and power as you press your hands against his smooth broad trunk. A shiver courses through your body as you enjoy this short passing of love to your old friend.

Glancing at the path through the forest, you can not help but feel apprehensive as you see the narrow path slowly diminishing in the gray mist that has settled in the woods. Turning toward the path, you set off for your slow discovery of the small forested area that you have traveled so many times last year. This is the first of many journeys that you will take this year, and you know the path well, but this morning it seems strange, unique, and different.

Maybe it is because it has been five months since last your feet trod these somber paths of solitude and quiet reflection. You loved the many walks that you have taken through these well worn paths and surely this year will be filled with many more such journeys of quiet discovery. 

With each step you feel the dampness of the mist seeping into your clothing and you smell the rich musky smell of the dirt and the decaying leaves and branches. The silence envelopes you like a cloth, blocking out everything except the silent breathing of the forest, full of the first few hours of the day. 

Walking faster, your heart beats rapidly in your chest, as you plunge toward the  expectant event that you have not quite yet figured out, but know in every fiber of your being is awaiting along the trail. You are apprehensive about the impending encounter, but you can not help smiling as you walk faster and more determinedly forwardly. You are not afraid because the thought of this meeting fills you with joy and happiness, so you know that it will good.

Your feet move rapidly over the wet leaves that cover the trail. There has not been too many feet pass this way this year as the snow has only been gone a week and you are one of the first to venture into the forest this spring. The fog has completely enclosed around you and you can not see more than a few feet into the trees ahead or behind, yet you feel drawn, drawn deeper along the path toward what is awaiting for you and you alone on this cool, bright morning.

Look upward, you can only see the fog slowly whisking to the upper branches of the trees, still blocking your view of the sky. It is as if you are in a bubble of fog, completely surrounded in a small world of the forest, where only you and a few yards of your world is visible. Your heart soars with expectation and joy. Something is calling you. You are used to hearing voices of disembodied souls, speaking to you of life and love, long gone, but this is something different, something wonderful.

 You are not afraid of what lies ahead as you know that it is a present, a surprise, a gift. Something. You can’t describe it. Something.  What is it?  Your breathing is rapid and your pace is faster now as your silent steps take you deeper into the misty forest. You are nearly running as you expand your world with each step, moving your bubble of time and fog filled reality with each step. You can almost hear the gently calling of the future reality as you rush blindly forward.

The silence is almost deafening as you move along the path. All the twists and turns of the path are known to you from past journeys through this little stand of wood behind the house, but today it all seems new. Not because of the months that have passed since your last walk, but today it seems alien, not of your world, but some place from another time, another reality, another dimension.

Anticipating your reward is near, you slow. You are aware of your rapid breathing as you slow and you concentrate on slowing it and calming yourself, but your joy is filling you so deeply. Your smile has never been so bright as you walk slower, working on calming your breathing and your racing pulse. Soon. I will find it soon. I am near. So very near, I can almost see my surprise, my gift.  I can almost touch it.

The sound is so quiet that you almost don’t notice it. It is almost like a whisper over your skin, not quite a sound, but an utterance of pure, playful joy. Yet you stop instantly. It is here. I will find it soon. You see a flash of dim light just ahead on the left side of the time worn trail. Your smile is almost painful as you nearly leap forward. You stare at the spot where the flash of soft green light emanated, so that you do not lose sight of where it was. You hear a giggle. Was that in your mind or was it real? Again, you hear the giggle, followed by a series of soft rhythmic pulses. Almost like a heartbeat, the rhythm of the light flashes and the thrumming in your bones match and grow in intensity as you close on your mysterious quarry.

There is no slowing of your freight train heartbeat as the fog wisps away from the ground where your gift lies. You bend closer to inspect the object. There is a soft fuzzy field of green surrounding it, but other than that, it appears to be a simple box. Small, maybe four inches on a side. Made of some shiny metallic substance. It is smooth with no apparent seams. Just a small cube. Yet it almost seems to have an intelligence. Sitting on the rotting leaves of last falls defoliation of the surrounding trees, it is an ornament like the bright colors that will soon appear in the forest. With the surround trees and the glowing fog it has a beauty that defies the starkness of the rich dark colors that surround it. 

The color of the simple cube is rich beyond description as it is like nothing that you have ever seen before. It appears to have a depth that is unworldly with shifting movements subtly welling up continuously beneath the surface. It radiates warmth that blends with the coolness of the damp fog that weighs down over the quiet forest.

“Yeah! You found me.” Jumping, you almost fall over as you straighten up with surprise. Did I just hear that? Or is it my mind playing tricks on me? Yes, I heard it. It was a light Irish lilt that you have heard before. It is a small bubbly female voice that is filled with fun and amusement and love. Placing your hands on your hips, you smile and lean forward, “Good morning,” you reply, unsure but expecting some kind of rapport with this unusual object. “And exactly what or who are you?” 

“Well, I am your surprise, silly!” Returns the precocious little voice, like it should be obvious to you that this had all been planned and this adventure was something that you knew about. 

Undaunted but all the eeriness of this unplanned and utterly mysterious encounter, you continue unfazed as if this type of thing happened all the time, “Well thank you very much. To say that I am totally surprised would be an understatement. So you have accomplished your mission, little missy. I am perplexed as to what you are and what it is that I am supposed to do now.”

“Well, isn’t it quite obvious?” came the wee voice, “You are to open me. Isn’t that what presents are for?”

Frowning, you draw closer, kneeling over the little green box. You stare intently at it. The amazing colors, if it can be considered colors, [plural] as there is only really one. Continually shifting over the surfaces of the pretty little object, are green and more green. But it seems to be welling up from the center of the object like waves from a green ocean lapping against the shore.

The intensity of your thoughts knit your brows together in concentration.

You start again as the bubbling giggle that wells up from seemingly endless depths of the box, surprises you from your deep study of what to make of this enigma. You are not afraid for it seems to wrap you in its infectious fun filled aura as its simple design and deeply engrossing patterns engulf you. 

You sit back on your haunches and place your hands on your hips and you smile, “Well may I be so presumptuous as to ask you how I may do that? There are no seams, no latch of even a door which I can open.”

 “Aw, you are not getting into the game. You are no fun! Comes the little voice. You hear a tint of disappointment in the small voice.

“Okay,” you reply, wanting to appease the child. You smile at the {game} you intuit is afoot. “Hmmm? I am willing to play along with you. But let me begin by introducing myself and that way we can begin. I am Rose.”

{Giggling} “And you may call me, ‘Forty Shades of Green,’ Miss Rose.”

Laughing out loud, the allusion to your homeland is not lost on you. “Well, Miss Forty Shades of Green, your name is apt as the intensity and your amazing beauty is beyond description. But in earthly terms, I suppose that will have to do.”

“Why, thank you on your nice appraisal of me.” The box shimmers and rises slowly. The glow intensifies as it rises. 

Sitting up straighter as the small object rises up to eye level, you marvel at this new trick. But then you admonish yourself for being surprised at this new display of magical powers. “You seem to be full of surprises, little miss.”

“And you seem to be stalling. Come on, Open Me.” 

You hear the mirth in the little voice, even though it is meant to be an admonishment. “Okay, just give me a minute to figure you out as I admire your exquisite beauty please.”

“Flattery will get you no where, Miss Rose. Your legendary gift for gab will not get your surprise delivered.” At this, the little floating box beginning to rotate. It moves along all axis’s as it rotates slowly before your eyes. Pulsing rapid with a green aura that grows as it rotates. The flashing becomes faster as does its rotational speed. You concentrate on opening the object mentally. Daring not to close your eyes or divert your stare you begin to feel that you are correctly answering the riddle that is presented.

Laughter erupts from the spinning multidimensional cube. “Hurray!  You did it!” Comes the loud burst of childlike glee. 

Instantly a burst of green light causes you to fall over on your back.

You are staring up at the fog covered sky. Up through the trees the fog is awash with an intense green light that almost hurts your eyes. Within the green light, the box expands in all directions. Starbursts of bright colored green light drip from the box as it expands to fill the field of your vision. You are the center of a green orb of light that shimmers and cascades down from several objects that you notice before you.   As you read the two foot letters of shining light before you, you hear the words simultaneously hear the voice musically spoken in your ear, 
 

“Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!”

 
 
Opening the Gates of Hell!

When I worked at Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis, Minnesota, my son lived in Atlanta, Georgia. I was moonlighting at Home Depot, to learn more about their products and because I love teaching people new things. I rapidly became an expert in plumbing and quite popular with a following of customers, because of my ability to talk them through virtually any home job.

One day, my son called and said he was going to have a huge bill for getting a plumber out to repair the basement toilet. I asked him a few questions and shortly found out that whenever one of the upper level bathroom toilets were flushed, the one in the basement flooded the floor. He owned his own newspaper at the time and didn’t possess any mechanical ability.

Patrick: It took a while before I figured the link of the wet floor in the basement. When I did, I verified it by having Suzie (his lovely wife) flush a toilet on the main floor, while I watched the basement toilet.  When I heard the toilet flush, I could see water seeping out from the base of the one in the basement. The plumber said it would be $400.00. I can’t afford that right now. What do I do?

Joe (The fix-it guy): The wax seal is seeping. You need to change it. It will take you an hour and cost less than $30.

Patrick: WOW! I can do it myself?

Joe (The fix-it guy): It is a simple, but messy job, but you can do it and you will be the hero!

Once he got the supplies: Seal, caps for the bolts, and sealant, he called me back. I talked him through changing the seal and sure enough he was sitting on a non-leaking toilet within an hour.

The next day, at work, he was telling his co-worker about how he, the plumbing expert, pulled his toilet off the floor and replaced the wax seal beneath. He later told me that they just stared at him, like he had opened the ‘Gates of Hell.’ They all said things like, “You can’t do that,” and “it takes a professional.”

From that moment on, he has begun trying, and mostly succeeding, in making more and more home repairs. All it takes is a measure of confidence and a little thought. There are experts out there that can talk you through the whole process and make sure you have all the necessary parts and supplies to complete virtually any home repair job. Without paying a high priced professional.
 
 
Picture
DALEK ATTACK

The dark gray Dalek sat broodingly near the half opened door of the balcony. The blue light peeking through the grill inside its shell, beckoning the creatures of the desert. For long months it kept vigilant, waiting for the day when the heat of the Dubai summer would pass and the cool nights of winter when, the door would be opened, allowing the night breeze to draw its victims within reach. The Dalek’s lust for death was measured by the tray beneath the light within its deadly shell. The light drawing its prey to the lethal voltage surging through the grid, killing them instantly with a loud audible, “ZIIITTT!” their lifeless bodies falling into the tray at the bottom, for disposal later.

Honey, Archie, and Rags, our three dogs had seen the Dalek, every day, sitting silently by the door. They became used to the gray plastic object with the blue light. It blended into the everyday items of the villa and they paid it no attention… Until the day it attacked.

It was 3:30 a.m. and I was taking a shower, getting ready for my drive to Abu Dhabi and work, when the attack came. The night was breezy and along with the light wind, came the cloud of mosquitoes.

“ZIT”

Their ears twitched at the sudden, unexpected noise and all three heads bounced up from their beds and looked in the direction of the Dalek. Archie rose from his bed and walked over to the balcony door and looked out as Honey and Rags watched on.

“ZAP!” the Dalek collected a larger mosquito. Archie jumped back and began staring at the Dalek as Honey and Rags gathered around the creature with the deep blue light. They surrounded it and stared, not knowing what was happening. Waiting…

Archie barked once at it. It sat there silently, its blue light glowing unwaveringly. A small puff of air urged a small swarm of mosquitoes through the open door and the Dalek attacked. “ZIT!” “ZAP” “ZAP!” Again and again it zapped the tiny bodies. The Dalek was on a killing spree and the dogs watched for second at the little sparkling flashes of light, the loud zapping sounds, and the accompanying puffs of smoke.

Within a second, they realized the intent of the Dalek, Death!. With this awareness, they became afraid and ran to the shower, where I was bathing and tried to climb into the bathtub with me. I heard my wife, Rose, laughing in the bedroom and calling to me. I looked out of the shower curtain and there were three trembling dogs.

I heard the Dalek dealing its death and knew instantly. They understood that despite the months of inactivity, the Dalek was alive…..biding its time.

 
 
Picture
http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/author-interview-no-663-with-childrens-writer-joe-means/  
Author interview no.663 with children’s writer Joe Means 06Mar Welcome to the six hundred and sixty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with children’s author,
Flash Fiction Fridays contributor and spotlightee Joe Means. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.

Morgen: Hello, Joe. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.

Joe: Hello Morgen, My name is Joe Means and I currently live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I am from the United States and grew up on a farm in western Ohio, where I worked in our family garden and tended our animals and did chores. It was a great time in my life and as much as it seems there is always work to be done, there is plenty of time to relax and enjoy a good book.

At the time of my early years, the space program was full bore and every boy wanted to be an astronaut. Television was full of the mysteries of space and Science Fiction writers in full bloom. My heroes were John Glenn, and all the astronauts. Also my love for reading brought me into contact with wonderful timeless writes like; Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark and all the others. I was rarely seen without a paperback in my back pocket.

From these books, the imagination of a small town country boy grew. I needed an outlet to let some of the ideas running freely in my head, and short stories and letters (yes, we actually wrote letters and posted them snail mail back then).

Eventually, the invention from Science Fiction to Science Fact emerged and we have the modern day computer. TaDa! I wrote many stories (some good, some not so good), but the NEED to write never diminished.

Finally, I wrote my first story that my wife said needed to be published. The second book flowed quickly onto the paper, followed by a third. I hope to finally quit my job and continue writing full time within the near future.

Morgen: I love that you say you ‘need’ to write. I feel exactly the same. You write children’s books, was there a reason to choose this genre?

Joe: Morgen, I think there are two reasons for writing children’s book: first to capture their attention and make reading enjoyable, while at the same time, challenge their vocabulary and intellectual capacity. I don’t use small words to convey my ideas, but challenge them to figure out what their meaning is in context and to enjoy the story even more for having the capacity to understand complex ideas.
http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/author-interview-no-663-with-childrens-writer-joe-means/
Morgen: It’s often said that you shouldn’t ‘dumb down’ to children and, although I don’t write children’s books or have children (the latter is probably the reason for the former), they should be challenged, and they do love that. You mentioned three books – what have you had
published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?

Joe: I guess you could call it a pseudonym, my writing name is J. D. Means, and I have published three young adult books:

  • The first is ‘Millie and Honey: The Incredible Instantaneous Interplanetary Adventure – Volume I – CATATONIA’. I called it Volume I as I all ready had an idea on more stories to ties in and continue the first. I was going to write a full fledged novel, as the book are basically chapter sized, but then I figured they would make perfect children’s books.
  • The second, ‘Millie and Honey: APPLEOPOLIS’
  • And the third volume is entitled ‘Millie and Honey: The Blue Angel Planet’.
All the adults that have read my books love them and are ready for more. The stories are good, captivating, and easy to read, yet challenging enough to make the reader think.

Morgen: I recognise ‘The Blue Angel Planet’ from the short story of the same name (
http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/flash-fiction-friday-058-blue-angel-planet-by-j-d-means). You mentioned ‘young adult’ – what age group do you write for?

Joe: When I first wrote Catatonia, I thought it would be for 10-15 year olds, but after having my 6, 14 and 16 year old granddaughters over for Christmas, I have had to reassess this. The 14 and 16 year olds were taken with the story but immediately went back to their iPad and Phone as soon as the story was completed. I was surprised by my 6 year old as she took my manuscript with her everywhere, reading it at every opportunity. At 6 I was just learning my ABCs.

Morgen: What a great response though, that they were all taken with them. I do think it’s harder to captivate teenagers ongoing with so many gadgets around, but then maybe you’d inspired them so much that they were reading. We’ve talked about ‘dumming down’, do you think it’s easier writing for children than adults?

Joe: I think it is easier as children have less of a problem immersing themselves into the story and actually being there. As adults, our imagination seems to wane as reality sets in. It is harder to relate to non-real events as an adult sometimes.

Morgen: Perhaps less so if you’re a writer. I agree, though, we do have more distractions… called ‘life’. Many of the (700+) authors I’ve spoken to have said they’ve had gaps in their writing life (myself included) because life took over. That’s why I love things like
NaNoWriMo because I have to write 50,000 (and I do… have done five times). Do you get a second opinion on your stories before they’re published – if so from adults, children or both?

Joe: Many times a third and fifty. I share my stories with friend and in blogs and ask endlessly what the reader thinks of the story. I get some good feedback and actually modify the story to clarify certain points.

Morgen: Feedback is so important and a lot of writers don’t have that support, which is why I started
http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/feedback and http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/online-writing-groups. Do you have any tips for anyone thinking about writing for children?

Joe: Yes! Let that hidden child loose and open your imagination to all possibilities. Look at the world through the eyes of a child. The wonderful never ending surprises of everyday things. What we take for granted in normal adult life, are amazing events to children.

Morgen: We’re all just children in adult bodies, aren’t we? You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?

Joe: When you let others take charge of any part of your life, you lose control. I wanted my works to look and feel how my mind designed them. It is hard to describe that to someone else.

Morgen: It is. Many authors have been pleased with what their publishers have done but it’s soul-destroying marketing something you’re not completely happy with. Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?

Joe: Yes, my books are available as eBooks. I was somewhat involved in the process, but after my first book, I was more involved with the second book, I’m publishing all the other books I write myself. Because it’s so hard, if not impossible, to convey a thought in your mind to others, it is very hard for most people to even put into words correctly the ideas you have, so that other people can understand.

Morgen: Your books are titled ‘Millie and Honey’. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, whom would you have as the leading actor/s?

Joe: I absolutely love all my characters, but Millie has to be my favourite. She is with me all the time, whispering new ideas and places to visit. She creates new stories and adventures that are waiting to be written.

I have actually had some 3d animations created and they’re on YouTube (
http://www.youtube.com/user/MrFalcon757/videos?view=0&flow=grid).

Morgen: They’re great. I’ve always loved animations (I have drawn some cartoons). I love the Eiffel Town in the Catatonia amusement park. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?

Joe: Absolutely. I have created all the titles for my books, and the book covers are created by a friend here in Dubai, Romar Lipana. I think they are extremely important! I don’t know how many books I have bought, literally thousands, and most of them were because of the title and / or the cover. Amy Tan’s book, “Saving Fish from Drowning” is one example. I thought the title was AWESOME! I really liked the book as I have travelled a fare amount in my work and understand the need to be sensitive to the local cultures.

Morgen: I love quirky titles and try to have them myself. I’m a big Kate Atkinson fan and she brought out ‘Started Early, Took the Dog’ on my birthday in 2011. She’s doing a book signing an hour from me on the 18th March so I’ll finally get to meet her. You are clearly passionate about writing, do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

Joe: I never suffer from “writer’s block” as there are always tons of information flashing through my neurons. The problem is finding the time to put them all into a coherent form in that part of my brain that organizes things. Then I sit down and just let the words pour out through my fingers on the keyboard.

Morgen: Ah yes, I know all about lack of time. I used to wake up working out how much time I had to do everything I have to do but now I just think I’ll do what I can in the time I have, and get on with it. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?

Joe: Some of both. When I wrote the first book, I got up in the middle of the night and a flash of inspiration created: Millie and Honey – the Incredible Instantaneous Interplanetary Adventure. I sat down to the computer and just began to write. A couple of hours later, it was completed.

On the second book, I worked on it for weeks, before writing it. I would talk about it with my wonderful and understanding wife and she would give me feedback. Sometimes, I would even talk about it to a co-worker and listen to their response.

Them, once again, I got up in the middle of the night and wrote most of the second book. I worked on it for a week or two and then finished it.

The third book, I worked on in my head for a few months. I wrote a few thousand words and then stopped to work on the rest of the book. I never write out an outline or any of my thoughts. I just organize them and when I am ready, I sit down and type. The book writes itself, the problem comes later, when the logical part of me has to edit and correct the typing mistakes.

Morgen: A couple of hours for a whole book? Wow. The most I’ve done is my 2009 NaNo novel (
The Serial Dater’s Shopping List) which was 117,540 in the month, but as most writers find, and as you say, the hard work starts once the first draft is done. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?

Joe: For the most part, I use my animals. Honey is our dog. We got her from an Amish family in Dayton, Ohio when we lived there. She was a wonderful puppy and a great adult dog. She is beautiful and very intelligent. Thomas, chose me as his family when he was tossed from a car near Lowes (where I was working). He came into the store and started playing with my jacket. When we moved to Dubai, a friend gave me Rags. Later on, Archie was introduced to my wife and I from a friend at work. They found him abandoned in a house, when they moved in.

Morgen: My dog is a rescue dog and I’m sure they’re more loving, especially those (like mine) who was badly treated. He stops me swearing because whenever I do, his head goes down and his big brown eyes make me feel very guilty. Of course you can’t make them understand that it’s the computer (or whatever) that you’re swearing at, not them so I try to avoid it now, or certainly the tone; I make it light and fluffy, and he understands a light and fluffy tone. We mentioned editing a moment ago, do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?

Joe: Mostly for the mistakes my fat fingers make. I read and re-read the manuscript a thousand times to catch any obvious flaws. Then I get a professional editor to check my many grammatical errors and point out my lack of attention in High School English class.

Morgen: I like to think my grammar and spelling are pretty good but there will always be things I miss. Do you have to do much research?

Joe: Most of my work is fiction, but I do research things like places that I have never been, or things that I have little knowledge of, like Cinnamon. I did not know much about how the spice was grown or processed, so I read as much as I could find on the internet and then thought about all the information for a while and tried to put it into the story line with as much correctness as possible.

I believe reading has many aspects; first and foremost, it should be fun! But after that, it should be informative (even fiction) and it should challenge your vocabulary. You should learn something from everything you read.

Morgen: Absolutely. Learn and be entertained. What point of view do you find most to your liking?

Joe: I always like to look as my work from my reader’s point of view. If I like reading it, to myself or out loud to my wife and animals, then I feel comfortable that others will like it.

Morgen: Reading out loud often highlights flaws too, which is really useful. You’ve contributed a flash fiction piece to my blog (thank you very much!) so you write short stories – do you write any other forms, poetry perhaps?

Joe: I love to write short stories and some poetry. I have always told fantastic stories to my children when they were growing up. I have just recently begun writing them down. Once, I told my daughter the story about “Purple Passion” for 3 hours, while we painted a room. When it was over, unfortunately, the hero died. I thought they would kill me. But they never once complained about the hard work of painting.

Morgen: What a great idea to make a ‘chore’ (although I love painting) enjoyable. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?

Joe: Alas, there are some dark corners in the library in my mind. I work in aviation and I have always seen people using the incorrect tool for a job. When doing so, I would comment that they must have read my book, “Any Tool, When Used Correctly, can be a Hammer.” We would always laugh about it, but I have an outline (an exception for me), but this is a highly technical book that I WILL write. It is what I call “A Homeowner Companion” as it will list all the common problems and emergencies that homeowners come across and step-by-step instructions that will help them solve the issues and be “Dad or Mom – THE HERO”.

Morgen: We can never have too much advice. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?

Joe: In life? OH HECK YES! Lol! But as a writer, no. Basically, I see things like Captain Kirk does. I try to control the situation to my advantage. Why let someone else tell me it is not good enough. My son is a newspaper owner in Atlanta and he once told me to stick with my day job and tore apart a story I wrote. I was devastated as I thought it was a great story and well written. I have learned to be my own worst critic, so if it passes the “Joe Means” test, it is pretty good.

Morgen: I had the same thing with a poem I read out at the first ever writing class. The tutor (who I’m still in contact with) tore it to shreds and it nearly put me off, but I vowed to do better and here I am, eight years later. Do you enter competitions?

Joe: I once had a poem published in Reader’s Digest. Is that a competition? Currently, I have my first book out to several competitions. None of them are currently finished, so I do not know how I placed. I am sure that all of them are good. But if I win any, I will make sure that everyone knows which one is the best.

Morgen: Good luck! Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?

Joe: Not at present. It would probably not be a good thing for me as I would pester them to death. Just ask my wife. I seem to think of things and research them and find more things to think about. I would probably go broke on phone bills calling to tell them with more ideas I have on how they can do their job better.

Morgen: <laughs> I have a feeling I’d probably be the same. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?

Joe: My wife hasn’t had a decent conversation with me since my books came out. I live on my computer, working on my site, finding new sites to promote my book (look, I found you ). I am working on looking at game platforms for the “Millie and Honey” game. I have contacted stores, bookstores, distributors and every other venue to promote my books. And in my spare time, I work 8 hours a day and drive 2 ½ hours to and from work.

Morgen: Ouch. Your poor wife, although it sounds like she’s very supportive which we all need. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?

Joe: Since I really got into writing and set my goal to retire by 2015, this aspect of my life is still taking form. I love creating new ideas in my head, working them from all angles, walking around the scenes and characters. I get into the thought of each character and view life from their perspective. I love that as it gives something for my idle mind periods to dwell upon.

Least favourite aspect? I think not knowing the process of writing and marketing books. It has never been a subject that I have ever delved into, so it is all a new aspect for me. I love to learn and to read, which is good, as I have read tons of articles and books on the subject and am getting smarter about the whole process. Unfortunately, it has not increased the correctness of my typing.

Morgen: Mine are the same; creativity vs marketing, something we share with most of the authors I’ve spoken to. We’re writers, we should be writing. What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Joe: Make a decision that this is what I do. If you truly enjoy writing, do everything in your life to make it better. Anything you do in life gets better and easier, if you focus on it and make it the center of your existence. Only when you live, eat and breathe what you love, can you reap the full benefits of you are.

One of my favourite quotes is, “Do or Don’t do. There is NO TRY! ONLY DO!” by Yoda (Star Wars).

No one ever tries to fail. But those who win, never thought there was any other option. Failures are just part of the learning process of how to WIN.

Morgen: The harder you have to push to succeed, the more rewarding it is. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?

Joe: Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke. After spending the day at the airport where I work, showing Jules a helicopter, and Ferrari World, just for me. We would sit in the back year and have grilled steaks and baked potatoes and talk about writing. Oh! (Raising my hand) can I invite Michelangelo? (yeah, I am that guy. I always have to be different.) We would talk about our muse’s. How were are / were inspired and our take on time, space, and life in general.

Morgen: Well, if you’re going to have four then maybe I should gate-crash. I love steaks, baked potatoes and can always talk about writing. You’ve just given us a great quote from Yoda. Are there any other words, phrases or quotes you like?

Joe: Another of my favourites is by an unknown artist: On the plains of hesitation, lie the bleached white bones of those, who on the verge of success, sat down to wait. And while they waited, they died.

Morgen: I love that. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Joe: I enjoy spending time with my lovely bride and our three dogs and our cat (Odd Thomas). If I have time and it is not too hot (we have two seasons here: Summer and Sauna), unlike my life in Minnesota, which also has two seasons (Winter and Construction.)

Morgen: I’m based in the UK and we have very cold and cool but do get the occasional scorcher… but then to non-UKers it’s probably still cold. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?

Joe: I love the Author’s Den:
http://www.authorsden.com it allows you a nice space where you can list your work.

Also Wattpad:
http://www.wattpad.com as they allow you to write stories and publish them for others to enjoy.

Morgen: I’ve just joined Wattpad. I am on Author’s Den too but not done anything with it (see earlier reference to ‘time’). Are you on any networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?

Joe: I have a Facebook and Twitter account. I am still trying to figure out how to use them. So they have not been too useful to me so far.

Morgen: They’re very time-consuming so I’m not surprised you’re still finding your feet with them. What do you think the future holds for a writer?

Joe: As long as there is hope in the human heart, wonder in the mortal soul, or questions that lie unanswered in the conscious and unconscious mind, there will always be someone there to fill these voids; either in spoken, or written word. Someday, when all the answers in the known and unknown universes are discovered, there will still be a reason for writers, artists and song writers to exist, if nothing more than to chronicle all that is known and to ponder all the “ifs” in the between these lines. Everything is conveyed on this plane of existence through our senses and these mediums are requisite for a fuller explanation of these realities.

Morgen: I love technology and am always in awe of new inventions. It’s very easy to think that no-one can invent anything new but then someone does. Explorers are still finding places we didn’t know existed so perhaps we will never know everything. But yes, I do believe there will always be a place for writers. I hope so, anyway. Where can we find out about you and your writing?

Joe: I have a website at:
Http://www.millieandhoney.com and also Author’s Den and Wattpad.

Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Joe: Yes, I would like to thank you for this wonderful opportunity to express my views on writing to you and others who love reading.

Morgen: You’re so welcome, Joe. I’m delighted you could join me again today. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?

Joe: What has prompted you to create a website for authors?

Morgen: I’d heard a blog was a great way to get noticed and I’d already had a blogspot website which was doing nothing so I set up
http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com and put a few posts that interested me then after being invited to be a guest interviewee on another site I saw its potential and everything blossomed from there. Thank you, Joe.

I then invited Joe to include an extract of his writing…

Millie promised her dog Honey and her litters – Salazar, Jasmine, Burt and Blinky a day of fun and picnic at the lake. She kept her word, and they set out trekking at the edge of the forest. As they were getting near the lake, Salazar found an egg-shaped, silvery shining vehicle, which, to their surprise, would take them on a journey beyond their imagination.

Join Millie and the gang as they ride the Instant Traveling Machine and explore CATATONIA, a planet of felines, beautiful scenery, and one extraordinary amusement park.

And a synopsis…

His wings beat softly and they lifted from the ground, rising higher with every stroke of his huge wings. Above the top of the trees they flew ever higher into the bright sunlight. Higher and higher they went with each stroke of the angel’s powerful wings until the beautiful mountains were visible above the tall trees. The mist of the early morning was heavy in the valleys between the mountains. The mountains were blue with a twinge of marshmallow white clouds between them as they soared ever higher.

She could feel the angel’s strong arms around her as she stared at the awesome sight. Her feet dangling, she could do nothing but stare at the wonderful sight below. Oh, this is beyond anything I have ever seen before, she thought. It is far more beautiful than I could have dreamed possible!

***

Joe Means was born in Youngstown, Ohio (September, 1956) and was raised on a farm, where he did chores and grew a vegetable garden. He spent a lot of time reading in his early years and grew up with authors such as: Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, and even Douglas Adams. They filled his mind with wonderful far off places, where danger and wonderous discoveries lurked around every corner.
During his youth, NASA launched missions into space and even landed on the moon. At that time, it was the childhood dream of most children, to become an astronaut and explore the farthest reaches of space and time. TV shows like; Lost in Space, Star Trek, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, and My Favorite Martian, flooded air waves and every young boy stayed tuned in to the never ending supply of new adventures.


 

My name is Joseph D. Means but people call me Joe. Here is my home page: I live in Dubai and work as an supervisor at Global Aerospace Logistics.