Random Musings for Groundhog Day

  • I’m not overly disappointed that Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. Aside from a few frigid days, this winter has been a letdown. I want some snow.
  • I will probably watch the Super Bowl on Sunday even though I will be angry when the Patriots inevitably win.
  • I will definitely watch the next episode of Black Sails to uplift my spirits after suffering through the Patriots victory. Unless of course they use a flashback to remind me that they killed my favorite character at the end of last season.
  • Despite having two whole days off work, I have not a read a single thing. That said, I have written over 2000 words in those two days and topped 12000 for the year so far.
  • I am proud of Black Rifle Coffee Company for standing up to Starbucks.

Random musings for the holidays

  • I finally started an Instagram account: michaeldurkota. Stand by for pictures of beer and coffee.
  • Started reading Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. Good stuff.
  • Looking forward to the Ronda Rousey fight.
  • Office Christmas Party was not as bad as it could have been.
  • Didn’t read or write nearly as much as I had hoped.
  • Still excited about the article in the Tribune Review!
  • Only two weeks until the new season of Homeland!
  • The Breaking Bad marathon is killing my productivity.
  • Love the new Highly Suspect album. In a word, it’s ‘groovy.’
  • My review of The Bull by Erica Crockett is coming soon.
  • Best Christmas present – a precision spinning top from my brother. I didn’t know these existed. It has changed my life, and possibly created yet another addiction.
  • Only one month until Black Sails returns!
  • I watch too much TV.

Veterans Day, a public reading, and some random musings

First. The Veterans Day charity pledge will continue until November 19. This year all proceeds will benefit Operation Homefront; they provide short-term and critical assistance, long-term stability, and recurring support programs to military families. Seriously a great organization. Please support them by grabbing a copy of Once in a Blue Year on Amazon.com.durkota-vets

Second. I am honored to participate in a public reading celebrating Veterans Day. The event is hosted by Ashley Kunsa of VetsWrite and is taking place at the Norwin Public Library on Saturday, November 12. I will be joined by fellow writer and veteran Ryne Tobar. If you are in the greater Pittsburgh area, please stop in. There will be a Q&A, refreshments, and I will be signing copies of Once in a Blue Year with all proceeds of course supporting Operation Homefront.

Third. Some random musings from this week:

  • I started reading the second book in Erica Crockett’s Blood Zodiac series. It is haunting and beautiful. She is a gifted writer. I highly recommend that you check out her first book, Chemicals. After that, you should get started with book one of the Blood Zodiac, The Ram.
  • I discovered that a random tweet of mine from last year was referenced in an article by The International Business Times. I was venting about the Oxford word of year being an emoji.
  • I am glad I stayed up to watch the last couple games of the World Series, but I think it will take me few days to catch up on all the lost sleep. I really didn’t care who won in the end, I just love the excitement of post-season baseball.

Random Musings for a Sunday Evening

  • Highlight of the weekend was watching crows eat peanuts on my mother’s porch. They come every day.
  • I didn’t know how to feel about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel prize for literature. Now I do. What a waste.crow
  • Certainly the beginning of the end for The Walking Dumb.  They really should have clubbed the writers instead. It reminded me of the time someone thought it was a good idea to give Dexter a wife and kids. On the bright side, it is so nice to have an extra hour of free time on Sunday evenings.
  • Watched Mr. Right last night. Sure to be a cult classic. Reminded me of Grosse Pointe Blank in many ways.
  • I am about 20% through The Bull by Erica Crockett (@EricaCrockett). She is an amazing writer.
  • Consider me a fan of Colbie Caillat, High Dive Heart, and Justin Young. Great show last week.

Drunken sailors and other random musings for a rainy Sunday

  • The Readers’ Favorite 2016 International Book Awards were announced yesterday. Once in a Blue Year was a finalist in the Fiction-Military category!
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was excellent, and I’m not generally a fan of Burton’s films. It was creative, intriguing, and thoroughly entertaining. Highly recommended.
  • What was the Navy thinking when it got rid of job titles? I was always proud to be a Machinist’s Mate even though my actual job didn’t require machining. It mm1was a traditional rating with a long history.
  • I am so very glad that hockey season begins in 11 days. Let’s go Pens!
  • I encountered no less than three people texting and driving this weekend, and I still haven’t figured out a way to legally retaliate.
  • For some reason, I really miss Vegas today. Well, I guess I miss Vegas a little at some point every day.
  • How’s this for a story of drunken sailor debauchery?
    Going overboard: Bar and cinema trashed by ‘drunken Royal Navy officers’

Should I be flattered that my book was pirated?

While searching for a link to a press release, a google search revealed a website offering free PDF’s of my novel. They even provided their own book review:

Once in a Blue Year Reviewblue year

This Once in a Blue Year book is not really ordinary book, you have it then the world is in your hands.  The  benefit  you  get  by  reading this  book  is  actually  information  inside  this  reserve incredible  fresh,  you  will  get  information  which  is  getting  deeper  an  individual  read  a  lot  of information you will get. This kind of Once in a Blue Year without we recognize teach the one who looking at it become critical in imagining and analyzing. Don’t be worry Once in a Blue Year can bring any time you are and not make your tote space or bookshelves’ grow to be full because you can have it inside your lovely laptop even cell phone. This Once in a Blue Year having great arrangement in word and layout, so you will not really feel uninterested in reading. Relate

Needless to say, I did not dare click the link.

To conjoin or not to conjoin?

I attended the second session of VetsWrite yesterday. Although it has been lightly attended, I have enjoyed the company of fellow writers and the fresh perspective. The writing exercises have been truly helpful; I’m embarrassed to admit I really can’t remember the last time I conducted a free-write on my own. At the end of the session, Ashley and Brad suggested that we share some pages from our current projects and discuss them during the next session.write

This presented me with a conundrum.

I’ve been working on two separate novels for the last few months. They are each stalled around 30% complete. One keeps distracting me from the other. I was beginning to worry that I would never finish either since they both were still missing so much.

So, which one do I share? I was about to flip a coin when I decided just to share an excerpt from each. Perhaps the group could point me in the right direction or provide some needed guidance. I opened the files and began reading. One, then the other, and then back again.

As I read, I slowly began to realize that what each one was missing was possibly contained in the other. In a moment of Zen-like clarity I decided they needed to be combined. They wanted to be combined. In fact, they were practically begging to be combined. I spent the rest of the day, most of the night, and virtually every waking moment since then trying to pull the pieces together in some comprehensible fashion.

I was frustrated last night when I put them away, but I woke up with a few ideas. After some effort this afternoon, I think I’ve made a breakthrough. The result may not quite be 60% of a completed story, but close. In the very least, I am excited to have made some headway and I was also able to easily identify the pages I need to share.

Other random musings from the weekend:

  • Only 18 days until hockey returns. Go Pens!
  • I am loving my new Motorola Moto Z.
  • Comcast is irritating me by repeatedly pushing the addition of a land-line phone. Today they resorted to scare tactics: “How would you make a call in an emergency if your cell phone wasn’t available?” I guess they fail to realize my cell phone is never out of arm’s reach.
  • I am certainly going to keep my promise from March and never again review an episode of The Walking Dead. In fact, I may not even watch the new season. I’m actually surprised that my disdain has not faded over the summer.
  • I made some additions to the Writer Resources page.

Coffee with dangerously high caffeine content may keep you up for 18 hours

I never really had a desire to visit Australia until I read this article. I knew they had dangerous wildlife, but I never suspected dangerous coffee. Challenge accepted.

Source: Coffee with dangerously high caffeine content may keep you up for 18 hours | Fox News

Coffee and Karma

I drink a lot of coffee. I can’t write without drinking coffee. Occasionally I even write about drinking coffee. I visit my local Starbucks at least once a day. The other day I noticed a flyer on the wall. I never look at flyers on the wall, but for some reason this one called to me. It was kismet. VetsWrite was the headline. It qr6ptiw7hbdmc69xhlkqadvertised a creative writing class for veterans at the public library. I snapped a photo and proceeded home to investigate further.

VetsWrite has a website and sponsorship from local businesses. The seven-week course is being offered by a fellow MFA and culminates in a public reading following Veteran’s day. Needless to say I emailed the organizer and indicated my intent to participate. It turns out she may need some help and asked if I would lead one of the sessions. Now I just need to decide which topic: conflict & plot, setting, POV & voice, or scene.

I believe all of this is undeniable proof that Starbucks is quintessential to my life.

Random musings for the weekend:

  • My nephew broke his arm. He needed surgery to install a couple pins. Just a few hours after surgery, his mom mentioned that he’ll have to drop soccer and baseball for the fall. His response: “You don’t need hands for soccer.” He is 5. What a tough kid. I should also mention that this discussion took place outside of Starbucks.
  • I watched The Martian again last night. Great movie.
  • The Roadies season finale is tomorrow. I hope it gets renewed for another season.

Why are deadly animals part of the Olympics?

I am afraid of horses, bees, and mean dogs. All of these fears are based on either a real or perceived threat to my life.

The reason I fear bees is simple. I have been stung a few times in my life, luckily without much impact. But as I have grown older, and my allergies have mounted, I have become more susceptible to reactions. I was stung at a picnic a few years ago and wound up in the emergency room. The doctor warned that my horsesreactions would get worse. I don’t carry an EpiPen. Therefore, I never really  know if the next sting will kill me.

I am afraid of mean dogs because they can be vicious without cause or provocation (much like bees in that regard). I’ve only had a few run-ins with mean dogs and I’ve always managed to escape without major injury, aside from the mental anguish.

Horses on the other hand have never harmed me or attempted to harm me. They seem gentle and friendly. I have fed them carrots and sugar cubes without incident. I have ridden them on a couple occasions and have suffered nothing more than sore legs and a few bites from horse flies. I did however observe a horse being broken. I was twelve. The experience scarred me for life. The farm hands that corralled her were the roughest and toughest men I had ever met. I watched in horror as this horse destroyed them. Tossed them in the air, charged them, bit them. There was blood. There were broken bones. There were hideous shrieks of horror coming from both the horse and the men who tempted to ride her. I would never feed a horse a sugar cube again. They can’t be trusted.

I came across the statistic that horses are the deadliest animal on the planet. Sharks kill one person a year on average. Horses kill around 100 people in the US every year. Why? Because they are too big and potentially dangerous to be pets. They kill people without even meaning to. They get spooked and flip people airborne, breaking spines and fracturing skulls. They step on people. They crush people against solid object like barn doors and corrals, and yes, occasionally they attack.

One of the most terrifying experiences I have ever had occurred on a family vacation when I was out-voted and it was determined that we would visit Assateague Island, an Island in Maryland that is populated with wild horses. It was like Jurassic Park for me. One literally approached the car I was driving and fogged the driver’s side window with its breath. Never again.

Random Musings from the week:

  • The Kindle promotion for Once in a Blue Year ends 8/25.
  • I’m thoroughly enjoying Roadies on Showtime.
  • Why is handball a thing? Did we really need to combine hockey and basketball?
  • How do they get the equestrian horses to the Olympics?
  • I did not know stylometry was a thing. Neither does Microsoft Word because it keeps underlining it with a squiggly red warning. Stylometry is a method of studying literary style and development by means of statistical analysis. Sounds fascinating. And boring.
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