Every once in a while you see a sign that seems so amazing, so eye-catching, that you have to wonder if the owners could really be so oblivious to its irony.

This was one such day for me, as I wandered past a little restaurant called Social Reform.

By the way, I don’t necessarily hold myself above my condescension, walking by with my digital camera and full belly, but I do what I can to help.

Liebster Award? Me?

My beautiful new blogger friend at storiesbyfrances just nominated me for a Liebster Award and I couldn’t be happier.

Frances, you see, is a wonderful writer of delightful, personal fiction and for her to find any of the things I have posted to be helpful or in any way inspiring is humbling. Of course, now I have to keep up the quality.


And, it appears, the first thing you have to do with a Liebster Award is open yourself up to the inquisitive mind of your nominator. So, here goes.

1. If you could be any character from any book, who would you want to be and why?

Henry V from the Shakespeare play of the same name. I have always wanted to be able to inspire people to reach within themselves and find the strength to reach beyond the limits of their fears to something greater…albeit, not on a battlefield.

2. What´s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

I got caught staring at the cleavage of a fellow student in Grade 12 theatre class…and by staring, I mean, her breast were practically keeping my ears warm. She neither welcomed the attention nor shunned it, so I guess I lucked out in one sense.

There was also the time that I walked in on a friend receiving fellatio from his girlfriend at work. Not sure why I was embarrassed by this, but he wasn’t, so I guess I just thought one of us should be.

3. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you want to be?

That’s a tough one to answer. As of recently, I have been happy simply being wherever I am at that moment.

If I could add “anywhen” to that, then I would say New York City, 1950, working as a comedy writer for Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, alongside the likes of Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Danny Simon, Neil Simon and Mel Tolkin.

4. Who is the person you miss the most?

My grandmother, who passed away in 2012. She was a guiding spirit throughout my life; someone who always believed in me, even when she didn’t agree with or understand what I was doing. In many ways, she was my best friend and a wonderful companion. Name me one other woman of her generation who would read all of her grandson’s science books, dictionary at her side, so that she could converse with the babbling prodigy.

5. What´s your favorite childhood memory and why?

I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood. It may be that times were so unsettled for me and my family that in blocking out the bad memories, the good ones have become collateral damage. This is not to say there wasn’t laughter and smiles, but I would have to say my favourite memories don’t start until much later in life.

6. What would you like to write about, but have never muster enough courage to actually write about?

I am really fortunate that at this stage in my life, there is nothing I can’t write about. No subjects are off-limits. No media are untappable. No genre can stop me.

7. Who/what couldn´t you live without?

Laughter. And not just mine; anyone’s. Laughter helps me cope. Laughter disarms. Laughter gives me perspective. Laughter is often the only exercise I get. Laughter is why I live (although not all of my writing efforts are comedic).

8. Why did you start blogging?

I’ve considered doing it for some time, and then a friend said she was going to start blogging about one very personal issue for her (I am so proud of her).

9. What keeps you blogging?

Narcissism. I need to speak and I think what I have to say will be of value to someone, even if it’s a question. And a need to know I am not alone, although luckily, that is not so scary a prospect as it once was.

10. What´s a perfect day to you?

Sunshine, a slight breeze, a notepad, two pens, an XL coffee and a park bench.

11. What makes you laugh?

Everything. I consider myself blessed with the ability to find humour in everything and anything. Others, in my past, have experienced this as something of a curse. I don’t hang around them much.


Offer eleven random facts about yourself:

1. I have a Master’s degree in protein biochemistry, having spent several years studying the most poorly expressed protein in the genome of a virus that attacks bacteria–phage lambda for those keeping score.

2. I am an improvisation performance junkie, although I haven’t done it recently, and studied at Toronto’s Second City Training Centre and Bad Dog Theatre under some amazingly talented people.

3. I have romantically loved only 3 women in my almost 50 years of life and while none of those relationships is currently active in the romantic sense, I am grateful to each one of those women for getting me through a special part of my life and am fortunate enough to consider myself a friend to each to some extent. (We won’t discuss after how many women I have lusted…if only because the numbers would be inaccurate as soon as I posted them)

4. I have a man-crush on the mascot of the Toronto Marlies, farm team for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. His name is Duke. (see, I told you I would write about anything)

5. I can’t read the word “cock” without smiling and perhaps even laughing because of a friend’s screenplay.

6. I love the Beatles.

7. In the last 12 months, I managed to become completely and unreservedly happy with my life. It is not perfect or idyllic, by any means, but I don’t care. I used to say that I wanted to be Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood, but felt more like Danny Kaye’s Walter Mitty. I am now Randy Willis’ Robin Hood.

8. I can’t grow decent facial hair to save my life, but it doesn’t keep me from trying, as witnessed by my present attempt at a handlebar moustache.

9. Nutella = sex in a jar

10. Speaking of sex: male.

11. Nothing can be off-limits when it comes to humour…NOTHING!


Nominate eleven other bloggers with fewer than 300 followers:

Okay, I feel terrible about this and will understand if someone wants me to turn the award back in, but I don’t have anybody to nominate at this point because of the 300 followers criteria. Pretty much everyone I follow has 500+ followers, and I must admit that I have not spent much time trolling for other blogs to discover the newbie gems.

In my defense, I did tell you I was a narcissist.

So, the task I set myself is to find more newbie bloggers doing something very interesting, and then nominate them for Liebster Awards. Promise!

The match

As I strolled through the streets of Washington, DC, I came across this amazing sculpture, although to call it simply a sculpture or statue was to short-change the artist.

Before my eyes (and the lens of my camera) a small scene played out despite the participants’ inanimacy.

(Yes, I make words up. I’m a writer, it’s what I do. Same relationship as intimate to intimacy.)

A grape is a grape until it ferments…and then it’s the balls to think you’re a writer!

Ned's Blog

Moonshine books copy Ok, so let’s suppose you’ve read everything I’ve posted here or at Gliterary Girl on on the subject of writing. (And let’s also suppose you aren’t my mother.) That means you understand the importance of developing a voice, know the tools you need to establish that voice, are prepared to send your work to potential publishers, have established a writing routine, and are now sitting at the keyboard ready to write!


…um, but about what?

As a writer, recognizing and developing story ideas is your bread and butter. Or biscuits and gravy, depending on your proximity to the Mason-Dixon line. The point is, whether you are a romance novelist, sci-fi short story writer or weekly columnist, generating ideas — and recognizing the difference between good ones and not-so-good ones (There are no bad ideas in my opinion, and I’ll explain that in a bit) — is the most important…

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Horse Island

A novel I had started working on a while ago as part of a Humber College workshop on opening pages; i.e., how to attract the eye of acquisition editors.

Really need to get back to this.

Sasha had never had her breasts go numb before.

Sure, she’d lost feeling in her fingers and had suffered frostbitten toes more than once, but this was something else altogether. But then, she’d also never spent six hours prone on a rock in the middle of the North Atlantic.

Sasha had fought off sleep for the last two hours, listening to the rhythm of the waves that charged the beach that sprawled below her. Now that the sun had started to peek above the horizon, she could focus her attention on the dark shapes floating just offshore, knowing that not all of them would be pieces of driftwood slowly making their way from the seaside forests of Newfoundland.

“Get used to this,” she thought to herself. “You’ll probably spend your next four or five Springs this way.”

It was definitely a far cry from the relative civility of her life in Toronto—although maybe sterility was a better way of describing it. The sounds and flavours of the ocean did, however, remind her of the summers she spent with her grandparents at the family home just outside of Halifax.

Funny, she thought, this was the first time she’d thought—allowed herself to think—about her grandparents. All those years spent trying to escape the East Coast and here she was, smack in the middle of it again.

Adjusting her position ever so slightly, Sasha grunted inwardly, trying to remain the silent sentinel while allowing her blood to circulate to her chilled extremities. But even as she settled back in, she knew that something was different. Something had changed in the surf. Some of the driftwood had started to move with purpose, making a beeline for the beach.

It was time to prepare her kit and call the others.


(Okay, I don’t have any photos of Atlantic Canada, so I’m substituting this one from Tofino.)


Faces of Washington

For as much fun as someone can have in Washington, DC, there is a certain stoicism that residents have as they walk the streets, braced against the cold and wet of Spring.

I have tried to capture some of the emotions that ride just below the surface.

Spring has sprung – Alexandria, VA

Despite the snow showers that kept spitting in my face, it appeared Spring had arrived on the East Coast of the United States…or at least, it had according to the birds in the area.

A few images from a wander around the Old Town section of Alexandria, VA.

The word was “Thirsty”

The result of another writing exercise…and the slow recognition that almost everyone I write about is seriously messed from by previous relationships. Ah, hindsight.

“Thirsty?” Jim asked, as he watched Phil throw back yet another pint of beer without coming up for a breath.

“L’il bit,” was all Phil would say as he signaled the bartender for another round.

Jim had seen Phil drink before, but there was something different tonight; something desperate about the way Phil was pounding them back that reminded Jim of a man who was trying to drown himself 12 ounces at a time.

“Something you wanna talk about?” he asked, as he watched Phil connect the sweat rings left on the bar by the humid glasses; a massive game of connect-the-dots with no picture in sight.

Phil just sat there, head down, slightly slumped forward. The fact that his eyes were open was Jim’s only clue that he hadn’t fallen asleep; that and the random ministrations of a finger on autopilot, running across the bar.

Without Jim realizing it had happened, two more pints had suddenly shown up on the bar, bubbles rising skyward to form a frothy blanket across the top of the glass. Jim looked at his own mostly full glass and realized that he was falling seriously behind. Over the sound of his own gulping, he thought he heard Phil say something.

He looked over to see Phil staring at him with very weary eyes. Jim shuddered. Phil was only two years older than his own 42 years, but right now, he had the eyes of someone twice as old; someone who had been run over by life and was too tired to hide it.

“She called today,” said a voice that seemed to come from nowhere. “She called the office.”

Without explanation, Jim knew that “she” was Phil’s ex-wife Jacklyn; a wraith who liked to appear every so often to throw Phil off kilter. It wasn’t anything malicious, mind you. It was just that neither of them had ever really accepted that they were divorced. Phil and Jacklyn were proof that no matter how much two people love each other, no matter how much you live for the other’s company, that is still no guarantee of a successful marriage.

“How is she?” Jim asked, as much to fill the void as out of interest.

“Dunno,” Phil replied, between mouthfuls of beer. “I was out.”

A new low, Jim thought. Phil hadn’t even spoken to her and he was in a state. This didn’t bode well for the rest of the evening.

Beautiful sadness was the first thing I thought when I lined up this shot (Tofino)

Beautiful sadness was the first thing I thought when I lined up this shot (Tofino)

Travel within and without – British Columbia

It may sound ridiculous to say, but wherever and whenever I travel, I find symbols of my inner journey, the personal transit that extends beyond airline tickets, overstuffed luggage, and souvenir shops. And it’s often not until I arrive home to look at the images within my camera, that I see the patterns.

Am I imprinting meaning where none inherently exists? Does it matter?

Whether inherent or imposed, the imagining of a pattern changes me and the pattern becomes true.

The following are a selection of images from my travels last year through British Columbia, a break before I began on the next great journey of my life, and one I take alone.

Sloppy Seconds™

Do you have trouble coming up with original ideas? Do you think you suck because your ideas blow?

Well, worry no more. Let me introduce you to Sloppy Seconds™, the concept that’ll put spunk back into your body.

Sloppy Seconds™ is all about taking what somebody else started and going one step further for a bigger finish. It’s about taking the worry out of satisfying those opening urges and putting all of your focus on the climax. Ideas that will send a chill down everyone’s spine and get them crying out for more.

How can I enjoy Sloppy Seconds™, you ask? Well, let’s get the ball rolling.

You know that feeling when something is on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? Well, let somebody else swallow the responsibility of getting things started. Let them put it out there and once it’s on display, grab hold of it, take it all the way in, and make it yours by adding that special little something you have inside you.

If you do that, you’ll find everyone leaves satisfied, and if you go at it long enough, perhaps even sated.

And who knows? When you’re done with it, someone else may come along and make it theirs with a sloppy third. The more people who pile on, typically, the better it gets and the more fun everyone has.

So, the next time you find yourself frustrated, blocked, unable to get things started, give Sloppy Seconds™ a try. Your hands may get tired, but you’ll have a smile on your face.

Sloppy Seconds™: Coming to a location near you.


BTW: This is talking about brainstorming…you know, starting with someone else’s creative idea and then adding your own personal spin to get a story started. I’m not sure what you were thinking about.