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.

Shameless Book Promotion

For a limited time, Once in a Blue Year is available on Kindle for only 99 cents!


Reviews for Once in a Blue Year:

“In this lyrical debut novel, the lives of two U.S. Navy men take dramatic turns after they’re cut from a submarine mission during the Gulf War… Debut author Durkota writes a remarkable narrative centered on the afflicted mindsets of his Navy men… And while Durkota’s work often feels like a thriller, it’s more of a psychological study in which the characters, like flashes of lightning, are wonderfully alive for a very short time.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Durkota’s plot is inspired, and his writing is accomplished and vivid… Once in a Blue Year is most highly recommended.” – Readers’ Favorite

“The story is well-written with a lyrical style that borders on poetry at times… Really anyone who appreciates excellent writing will enjoy this one.” – Online Book Club

5 Story Opening Clichés That Need to Die

I am guilty of at least one of these sins…

Here’s why your dumb story keeps getting rejected.

Source: 5 Story Opening Clichés That Need to Die | LitReactor

Metallica’s Black Album: 10 Things You Didn’t Know

Read 10 little-known facts about Metallica’s self-titled breakthrough LP, released 25 years ago.

Source: Metallica’s Black Album: 10 Things You Didn’t Know

Top 10 books writers should read

quillFrom unforgiving French sociology to Machiavelli’s manual for realpolitik, the Booker prize-winning author DBC Pierre recommends books that helped him write.

Source: Top 10 books writers should read | Books | The Guardian

Random Musings for a Friday

  • I think billiards should be an Olympic sport.
  • The weather forecast for today was 0% chance of rain. I had just finished washing ravenmy car when the torrential downpour occurred. Apparently it was a miracle.
  • I seriously want a pet raven. Of course I would have to name her Lenore.
  • If the EEOC declares that the Gadsden flag represents racial harassment, will Metallica have to change the cover of the “black album?”
  • Zakk Wylde is still ignoring my messages requesting a left-handed version of his new guitars.
  • I would be less disappointed about Melancon being traded if the Pirates didn’t immediately spiral into a tragic slump.
  • Still behind on my reading. My review of New Hope by Steve Hobbs should be up within a week.

Am I the only one who was worried about Guns N’ Roses?

I saw Gun N’ Roses in concert this week. I wasn’t sure what to expect when they walked onto the stage. To be honest, I was a little worried. I expected Slash to kick ass, but I worried Axl’s voice had waned. I was worried the arrangement of the band would be sloppy and unpracticed. I was worried that the show would rely heavily on unnecessary theatrics.guns-n-roses

I was pleasantly surprised that none of these fears came true. Axl kicked ass. The band kicked ass. The show was carefully orchestrated to near perfection. Even the set list was astonishing. And yes, Slash kicked some serious ass.

I think it was quite fitting that they opened with “It’s so easy.” They certainly made it look easy. As the evening progressed, they seemed to keep getting better. I honestly believe Axl’s voice was strongest as they closed the encore with “Paradise City.”

I have seen over 175 live shows (not counting local bands). I have seen shows in at least 11 different states. I have seen small club shows, amphitheater shows, stadium shows, and quite a few festivals. I have seen shows by arguably some of the greatest bands ever: Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Van Halen (with each of the three singers), Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews, Metallica, U2. Even Third Eye Blind, Hurt, Sick Puppies, Matt Nathanson, and Staind have impressed me in smaller venues. The list goes on. I consider these as some of the best shows ever.

Guns N’ Roses somehow managed to surpass them all. Seriously. They were that good.

Random musings from this week:

  • I am too old to function properly on only three hours sleep.
  • I like the scratch of my new fountain pen. It’s like I am carving the words into the page.
  • I am seriously behind on my reading and writing goals for the summer.
  • Golf still sucks.
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