Hammered: Memoir of an Addict

Whisky Sage:

Check out HMC. I’ve been following her for a while.

Originally posted on Soul Stories:

Hammered

Hammered by GN Braun

You know when you watch a movie or read a book and it stays with you, like the Titanic, or Once Were Warriors? Well for me, Hammered is going to be one of those books. To the tune of Candy (a movie I’ll never forget) with a male protagonist who happens to be sharing his true story, Hammered is revealing, raw, and filled with the stuffing of a mother’s nightmare.

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More New-First Guitar Help

Ain’t it purty? From Music Radar.

It’s around here somewhere, but a ways back I talked about buying your first guitar. I still get occasional questions about that, so here goes, some actual recommendations. These guitars are well built, easy to find, easy to use, and often cheap secondhand. They don’t often cost much brand new either.

Anyway if you or your kid are starting out, first may I advise you to just get the kid some turntables, a sequencer, FL Studio, and a drum machine, because it’s 2014 and they probably like electropop and hip hop anyway. j/k, kinda. Alright so the guitars you should look at are:

[Electric]
Peavey Predator
Yamaha Pacifica
Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, Telecaster, or Mustang
Epiphone Les Paul
Washburn HB (These are semi-hollowbodies. They look like BB King’s guitar. They’re pretty rad.)
Ibanez GIO and Artcore (Artcores are semi-hollowbody guitars)

[Acoustic]
Takamine
Yamaha
Washburn
Ibanez
Alvarez

I didn’t note any acoustic models because they’re always alphanumeric names and kind of forgettable. Just find one that’s comfortable to play and sounds good. Solid spruce tops are nice too. Great resonance.

Does that help?

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Have you ever done a blog audit?

Whisky Sage:

Never thought of this before. I think I’ll go and see what needs to head to my own trashcan. Thanks, Jodie.

Originally posted on Jodie Llewellyn:

Have you guys ever undertaken a blog audit? I stumbled across the idea on Jessica’s blog.

The idea is to go back through all your posts, check to see that all the links are working and revamp all your tags and categories.

I love organisation so I’m thinking that this is definitely something I want to embark on!

Fellow bloggers, do you think much about the mechanics of your blog? Do you have a list of ways it could be improved? Or do you just let it trundle on without much thought? What ideas do you have for the futures of your blogs?

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Outline or No Lines?

Outlining. It’s right there in the writer’s toolbox next to the coffee mug, cigarette lighter, and corkscrew. The practice always starts so well too. You draft your main characters, supporting cast, draw up some internal and external conflicts, a setting, and away you go. The first chapter rolls through okay, then the second and third, but right about chapter five you think, “Hmm, something’s missing. Better consult my outline.” Your outline tells your MC to take fork A but clearly fork B is superior for this story. This outline just won’t do. You resolve to throw it out altogether and wing the next 45,000+ words.

I think I just heard a bunch of writers scream at me.

Calm down, friends, have some dip.

I go back and forth on outlining myself. In the end I must do the responsible thing and advise you to continue outlining. After all you’re drafting in G-Drive, Word, or Scrivener most likely, and not a typewriter or notebook. Hence it’s easy to backspace or press the insert key, change the outline, save it, then move onward.

Yet that urge to play dangerous and go without one is enticing, isn’t it? It’s just the first draft, you’re going to change this thing fifty times before trying to publish, so what’s wrong with some fun?

Consider your writing habits before you step out into untrod fields. If you are a disorganized person, then yep, you need an outline. Prepare to change that as much as the manuscript while you go. It’s the way of things. If you crave order and disdain chaos, you’ll use one anyway. On the opposite end there live daring writers who can work without nets. They somehow draft coherent first manuscripts with minimal, if any outlining. There are so many grades of in-between though, and no single tip can encapsulate them all.

Since it’s responsible of me to recommend outlining instead of not, I propose something that is adjustable for all degrees on the organizational scale: a skeletal outline, one where the characters, setting, central conflicts, and story arc are plotted but not elaborated upon. At least take the time to notate where action should rise and fall, where the climax should be, and give yourself an idea where and how this story should end. Even the crudest map is tolerable to those who prefer nothing but a compass and the stars to navigate. So if all you do is look at your outline for casual reference, have it upon you regardless.

Sally forth, friends, and write.

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Finding the courage to write

Whisky Sage:

Some thoughtful encouragement from Natasha Larivee

Originally posted on Natasha LArivee:

A little rest can be a dangerous thing. 

I recently finished writing a novella I had wanted to write for a long time.  They say it’s best once you’ve written something to step back from it for a little while before going in to edit.  So, I did.  I took a few days off. I faffed around on the internet and watched crap telly.  I took long naps in the afternoons and enjoyed not having anything to do during my time off from the loathed 9 to 5.  But now it’s time to get back to it and begin the arduous and painful task of editing.  

I’ve always found editing to be a self-affirming process.  If I wasn’t proud of something I had written I congratulated myself on having advanced as a writer enough to spot my own inadequacies and come up with something better.  But for some reason…

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Filtering: great for your coffee, bad for your manuscript.

Whisky Sage:

I will remember this when I go back to edit my work. Great tips here. Thanks to Stace Campbell for sharing this advice.

Originally posted on Write All About it :

Filter words are those pesky things that can drive a wedge between the reader and the POV character, creating distance and lessening the impact of the scene. If you’ve been following my blog, you will know I hit a wall half way through my WIP where I felt as though I “lost” my main characters unique voice.

I’ve put it down to a couple of things, one: hitting writers block and taking a week off from writing, when I came back I felt as though I’d lost that connection with how my MC would naturally act and talk (to a degree). Two: wondering whether I should have written the whole novel in first person instead of third person, which leads me to Three: in third person I felt like I was struggling with the distance. I asked myself why, and one of the reasons I gleaned was that I was…

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Whatever Happened to The Dude?

“..Dude, Duder, His Dudeness. El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”

Sometimes, there’s a man. When The Big Lebowski concluded, the Stranger took comfort in knowing the Dude was out there, taking it easy for all us sinners. I took comfort in it too. Still I wondered where the Dude wound up? His Dudeness is probably getting up there these days and I find myself pondering time to time his final whereabouts.

Fan theories have been around for ages, but of course in today’s world, a fan theory forum is just a click away, along with fan fiction sites galore. People like imagining how their favorite characters lived out happily ever after, or what might have been their true intentions beneath the film’s narrative. The Big Lebowski has its own share of fan theories, and since no sequel was ever made to the cult film, we’re all left with just our own ideas about Dude, Walter Sobchak, and the rest of the cast.

First I invite you to inscribe your own ideas in the comments, but I’ll share mine too. Like many fans, I also think the Dude had a secret stash (Cash here, not pot, though let’s not rule anything out) which enabled his carefree living. I also believe Maude Lebowski paid what her father promised, plus some more on top for all his trouble. She also kept to her word to not involve “Jeffrey” in their lovechild’s parentage. Eventually the Dude drifted onward. His recollections indicated he has worked from time to time, so I doubt he never had employment again, but he never sought it either. The Dude wound up where eventually many lifetime drifters of his sort do: Portland, Oregon. The Dude is up there today, hanging out in the Southeast quadrant, occasionally venturing northward to Salt & Straw or to a Rogue meeting hall, but mostly frequents the nearest bowling alley (Maybe he’s down at AMF Pro 300 Lanes right now?). If ever someone asks what he does these days, the Dude answers that he’s retired. A better retirement there couldn’t be.

Again I open up the floor to you. Take it easy out there.

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Dandelions Everywhere

Swiped from The Guardian

A while back I posted a recipe for dandelion wine. It gets a few hits now and then, which tells me some people out there are interested in the beverage. Dandelions are a useful weed, in fact. They can draw out nutrients and enable better planting. You can also eat the leaves, and they feature often in wild greens salads (Toss them with some ramps, arugula, and morels sometime). The flower heads of course make magic with citrus fruits to create wine.

Today’s find involves mead. I’m a huge mead fan. I frequent Moonstruck Meadery in Bellevue, Nebraska. I admit I’m not zealous about wine. The dandelion wine connection comes more from Ray Bradbury’s excellent book. This link jumps to a dandelion mead recipe. If you homebrew, give it a try. Maybe share some?

To close out, I present a quote from the novel which has captured my spirit and ripples through my subconscious still today.

“And there, row upon row, with the soft gleam of flowers opened at morning, with the light of this June sun glowing through a faint skin of dust, would stand the dandelion wine. Peer through it at the wintry day – the snow melted to grass, the trees were reinhabitated with bird, leaf, and blossoms like a continent of butterflies breathing on the wind. And peering through, color sky from iron to blue.

Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in”  – Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

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How to Eat Your Vegetables

I’m about to talk about these beauties in a bit. Credit: EatingBirdFood.com

If there is anything which is harder to make adults do than eating their vegetables, then I don’t know what it is. Teaching critical thinking and reading comprehension are certainly up there, but cracking cognitive dissonance has nothing on enticing a hardheaded adult to chomp down some veggies. Grown-ups develop pants-shittingly awful food habits from about age 12 onward. Puberty hits around that stage, and then you are tall enough to reach the upper cabinets or have devised a method to scale them. Nothing is out of reach. Your parents have no more hiding spots because you have figured out where everything – including their dildos, much to your horror – is stashed.

Hence why teens grow fast and some go from pudgy to bloated, while others turn into rock-hard Titans until that Freshman Fifteen catches up to them at last. Metabolism run amok, eating sins put into place, the caloric intake you accustomed yourself to at 18 has stretched you to a plus size by 35. Along that whole way, you and most everyone else avoided broccoli like it was nightshade.

If you don’t eat vegetables, even just a couple times a week – because I’m no doctor and I’m not perfect, I slack on this often too – you’re dumb. I’m dumb. We’re missing out, really.

First here’s the problem with vegetables. Since we avoid them usually, we have no clue how to cook them. We think that mush from the can is how they’re supposed to be. Few among us go to farmer’s markets. Some of us frequent the produce section but it’s more common to throw a frozen bag in your cart, take it home, use it to heal some groin bruises, and then toss it into a pot for boiling. Boiling is probably the – no, it is undisputed, boiling is the worst form of vegetable cooking that exists. If you boil something then you are asking to have all the flavor drained from it, for the food to turn to slime, and for much of the nutrition to cook away. It’s good for making things which are supposed to be viscous or mushy, like syrups, sauces, reductions, creamy soups, mashed potatoes, and mash for liquor. Otherwise it turns all it touches to shit. Vegetables and boiling water hate each other, and should never be together.

Now for steaming. Steaming is good. It’s easy, keeps the veggies out of any carcinogens or fatty oils, and keeps them crisp. Crisp is also good. Vegetables, if nothing else have that going for them, the characteristic snap and crunch. It’s a thing of beauty. The one knock on steaming is because you don’t season them, your veggies come out bland. Bland is bad. Bland makes you not want to eat vegetables. You need flavor, spice, seasonings – you need the naughty stuff.

Credit: EatingWell.com

You see that beautiful jar over there? Those are pickles – homemade pickles. If you haven’t made them yourself, learn. Now. Those things out of the grocery store are shit. When you have control over the seasonings, amazing things happen. Imagine some cucumbers, cauliflower, and carrots hanging out in a bath made from brine, onion, fresh dill, vinegar, mustard seed, and garlic. You let them sit for a few nights sealed in a Ball Mason jar, then one day the seal pops as you remove it. Take a spear. It’s ready. Snap into that sucker. Briny, pickly flavor will punch you right in the mouth, and I swear it will be the best pickle you’ve ever had. Soon you’ll wonder about the carrot and cauliflower down there too. Oh my, those are awfully good as well! You’re in love and are searching for some bread, mayo, mustard, and roast beef for good measure. Lunch is served. You find yourself devouring half the jar. Congratulations, you have just enjoyed the hell out of vegetables.

Of course life is nothing without variety. Steaming is okay (Keep the butter handy is all) and pickling is wonderful, but what else is out there? I’ll tell you what – roasting. This is what you do for all those root vegetables. Those are your rutabagas, beets, potatoes, yams, celery roots, turnips, kohlrabis, and more. There are two ways to roast vegetables: the fun way (oven, hopefully with convection if you have it) and the awesome way. The latter is the grill. Beer in hand, your cut-up veggies splayed over a vegetable griller atop hot flame, you face a new vista. You’ve got peppers blackening, awaiting their turn for the salsa you’re preparing. Your roots are crisping on the outside while becoming fluffy inside. What’s the best way to season these? Plain, old EVOO, along with salt and pepper. That’s it. Easy as pie. The upside for roasted roots is basically you end up with amazing, technicolor home fries. Tomorrow’s eggs should have these babies resting beside them, if there are any left at least, and there might not be. Even the kids will wolf them down.

I think you understand now, friends. Get thee to a farmers market or produce department. Encourage the budding lust within you. You too will soon devour plants like a starving Brachiosaurus.

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Are You A Terrible Writer?

Pictured: not a terrible writer

Yes, you probably are. Here’s how you fix that.

1. You no grammar good. Get more better fast.

Lucky you, these grammar guide things are everywhere and they’re free. Here‘s Illinois University’s.

2. Read.

See that book over there? The one you’ve ignored for six months? Read it. Are you on a computer? (What am I, crazy? Of course you are.) Go to Amazon, get the Kindle app, and acquire books. Google search your library. Go there. Get a card. Check out books.

Have you done that yet? No? I’ll wait.

Alright. Now do it again. Books are your new favorite TV show. When someone asks you, “See any movies lately?” your answer will be, “Yeah, it’s called ‘BOOKS.'” Because that’s what you’ll be doing first before watching anymore movies.

You will never be done with this step. Get used to it. Learn to love it.

3. Write. Everything.

Yes, everything. Poems, haiku, short stories, novellettes, novellas, novels, seven-part epics, everything. Try it all. See what fits. Just be writing. It’s ABW – Always Be Writing. Writers finish. Writers get the Cadillac Eldorado. Writers get the set of steak knives.

2nd prize. You don’t want to know about 3rd prize.

How often do you write? As often as it takes. Set goals, write daily, write every other day, but have a method that results in you rubbing the letters off your keyboard. My keyboard looks like crap because I write. I have a nice set of steak knives too. I’m working on that Cadillac, but boy, it’s hard. It’s so hard, but I bet the suspension rides so good. I want my Eldorado. How about you?

1, 2, 3. That’s how you do it. That’s how you become a good writer.

Feel free to add more steps in the comments.

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