Indie Sex Goddess – don’t miss Sylvie’s book!

Hey, you like erotic & real-to-life poetry? No, I’m not trying something new with the blog. (So, you can relax, Zsolt.) My friend Sylvie is in the middle of her crowdfunding campaign for Russel Square Station. Sylvie really holds back no punches, and no details, in her style of storytelling. I truly admire her for taking a chance & crowdfunding her collection of poems from a really crazy experience of meeting her muse in England.

Sylvie’s collection will be printed in juxtaposition to a variety of art pieces from Juan Carlos Noria. And I personally think these two complement one another perfectly in tone and style.

So, if you want to check it out, I’m definitely plugging it 🙂

Sylvie

 

Have some fun and click through. She’s giving it her best, and if you want to support her with means other than purchasing copies, etc, do consider giving her a share within your own network.

AND.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! (Canada)

Monday the family will gather to play Settlers of Katan. Man, we have become obsessed with this game – and when I say “we” I mean my whole family including parents and siblings. It’s great 🙂

 

 

Space Opera in SPACE

I woke up in the middle of this night feeling like something was missing. “What is it,” I wondered. And my brain floated over to the world of writing. I have all this writing that still hasn’t seen the light of day. Little trailing pieces floating in the air; worlds without endings. And while I’ve decided not to put pressure on myself to get overly down about not writing enough, because I’m up to other fun things instead . . . I still do love writing.

So, here’s something I wrote a while back. It’s not serious. It’s really just fun. But here it is. And if you like it, there might be more. It’s a space opera story. Science Fiction, baby. But it’s also tied into a classic story. Can you guess which one? It’s actually rather obvious.

Here we go:

 

“The thing you have to remember is what?”

“Customers first.”

“Customers always first. Okay, pop quiz: Image the dinner rush has just ended—”

“The dinner rush ended two hours ago.”

“I know that. This is hypothetical. Now, the dinner rush just ended—No! Let me finish before you argue about the dinner time again. We’re pretending here, Newbie—Dinner is over and the restaurant is a mess. There’s no tomatoes left to put on the burgers, and a customer has just come in. What do you do?”

This is the question I always ask newbies. I may only be the night manager at Wurgers, but I know a thing or two about leadership. Our chain is as strong as its weakest link. James “The Day Manager” Marshall might do the hiring, but I’m the one the floor scooping fries, taking orders, and pacifying the drunks that come in from the bar. And where is James at two in the morning when some guy named Alf has just projectile vomited his Wurger milkshake to the cheer of his buddies? At home asleep in his king-sized bed, that’s where!

“Chop, chop, newbie! What do you do?”

“Serve the customer?”

“Then?”

“Tidy the restaurant?”

“And then?”

“Cut more tomatoes, I guess.”

“Exactly right. But next time, give it to me with certainty.”

“Yes sir.”

“Okay. Go count your cash.”

There’s some kind of storm brewing outside. Our Wurger’s is in the middle of a massive parking lot with a Mallmart on the other side. There’s about an acre between us, and all throughout the giant lamps are shaking like twigs and sparking with light. The wind is kicking up with a kind of strong Whoosh, Whoosh sound against the building.  Looks like there could be hail any second, which means my phone is crap, because it was predicting a clear night.

In these cases, some people might let their team go home early. But we have a contract with the plaza stating Wurgers stays open till four AM on Saturday nights, no exceptions. I’m not the kind of man who makes exceptions. We stay open. The storm can bugger off.

“Dorothy?”

“Yeah?”

“Quit sitting on the counter, and can you help Newbie with his cashing out?”

“Yeah.”

“Dorothy?”

“Yes?”

“Quit sitting on the counter.”

“Sorry.”

She’s a good girl, just a little bit spacey. Sometimes I think she’s not quite with us, but then she snaps right to it when a customer pulls up to the microphone. I’ve never seen a worker take an order so fast and have it turned around with cash in hand and the car pulling away. She’s set the record for most burgers sold in one hour, and that was at the drive through where people drop their money and stop four feet from the window.

“Dorothy?”

“Yeah?”

“I need someone to cover an extra shift next Wedn—‘”

“Oh my God!” yells the Newbie. “My car! It’s just been lifted and flung off the ground! There must be a tornado out there.”

We all move to the drive-through window to look at the Newbie’s car flying in circles through the air, except for Mike who hasn’t noticed a thing yet. The Newbie is whimpering.

“There go the lamp posts,” says Dorothy.

Lamp posts are now shooting from the ground up into the air, disappearing from view.

“What’s going on?” asks Mike, taking off his ear buds.  Finally he notices us. That kid smokes so much weed, it’s a wonder he can focus on flipping burgers at all.

“What the hell is going on out there?” I ask.

“Everything is flying,” replied Dorothy, as though this happens every night shift.

Suddenly the lights go out. We’re in the darkness for a moment, and then there’s flashing. It’s strobe lights and disco dancing, except we haven’t got a clue where it’s coming from. “What the hell is going on?” I ask again. “Is this candid camera? Are we on candid camera?” I fix my hair.

“That show hasn’t run in years!” shouts the Newbie.

The Whoosh Whoosh is now a WHOOSH WHOOSH as the wind just starts to rips everywhere—it sounds like it’s banging against the windows and pounding on our ceiling.

“Do something Tim, man!” yells Mike.

“What do you want me to do?” I yell back. Emergency Wurger protocol stipulates first and foremost the evacuation of customers in a dangerous situation. But they’re not here, so, “EVERYONE GET OUT!”

“I’m not going out there,” replies Dorothy. She doesn’t yell.

“EVERYONE STAY HERE!” I correct.

Suddenly the whole restaurant is shaking, take out containers are falling everywhere and the fries are jumping out of their fryer. The cash registers all burst open and there’s money floating into the air. Packets of salt and pepper are bursting open like confetti bombs. The secret sauce and plastic utensils are flying across the room.

“EVERYONE GET ON THE GROUND!” is the last thing I remember saying as we all duck down into the drive-through alcove and the chip boxes keep falling on top of us like cardboard rain as the wind begins blowing inside the restaurant and the shaking of the building becomes faster and faster till the place is vibrating, and those mystery strobe light goes faster and faster.

At some point, I must have had a seizure, because the next thing I remember is waking up with everything quiet and all of us strewn across the restaurant – which is a disaster by the way, and is going to take a hell of a long time to clean. What the hell just happened? I can’t even tell you. All I can really say, is that looking out the windows of our restaurant … we are not in the parking lot of East Central Talkapa anymore. I don’t know where we are. All I know is that it is glowing neon pink outside, and I need to unwrap a pair of sunglasses from the kiddie meal box to see anything.

*

We’ve locked the doors. I know that the customer is always meant to come first, but in this case I have two reasons for keeping them out.

One, the restaurant is a disaster. Dorothy is mopping the streaks of special sauce that were flung all over the chairs and tables. Mike is in the kitchen doing much of the same, only its worse in there – hamburger patties, limp lettuce, buns, fries and grease everywhere. I’ve been filling the trash bags. There are sixteen bags and counting waiting to go to the dump … wherever the dump may have gone.

And two. Two I can’t really explain. Like I said, the customer comes first—but what the hell am I supposed to do when the customer is a gang of cuddly teddies? Yeah, maybe that sounds adorable, but you’ve never seen a living teddy bear screaming at the top of its fluffy lungs.

“Just keep ignoring them,” I repeat. It’s pretty much all I’ve been saying for the past hour.

“Tim, let’s see what they want,” says Dorothy. She’s been pushing that mop around for the last twenty minutes, but her heart isn’t in it. She wants to go outside, that’s all she’s wanted to do since we woke up. “They might have the newbie with them.”

“Oh right, and we’re supposed to do something about that?” I ask. “Be logical, Dorothy. If they have the newbie, they’ll grab us the second we unlock those doors.”

“I think they’re cute,” she replies. Walking up the window, she pulls out her phone and takes a picture of the watching teddy bears.

“We’re not opening the doors.”

“Hello!” says Dorothy as she waves to the dolls. “They were only screaming for like, ten minutes, Tim. They’ve been perfectly quiet since then. Hello you!”

The teddy bears are waving back, more of them are crowding closer to window where Dorothy is standing. Is this what it feels like to be famous in Japan? It’s like we’ve gone from being their biggest nightmares to their greatest idols. Dorothy is fiddling with her phone, which, by the way, she’s not even meant to have on her person during a shift.

“Who could you possibly be texting?” I ask.

“I’m not texting anyone. I’m Instagraming their picture,” she replies.

I pull my phone out from my pocket. “We’re in the middle of a neon pink world with teddy bears. How can you “Insta” anything?” There’s no internet or mobile connection. The battery is down to five percent. Crap.

“I have really good reception,” replies Dorothy.

“Dorothy is right,” says Mike, who suddenly has an opinion on something. “There’s no point in cleaning this mess. We don’t know where we are, Wurgers is surrounded by freaky dolls, and Leon’s gone missing.”

“Teddy bears,” corrects Dorothy, still typing into her phone and smiling at something.

“Who’s Leon?” I ask.

“The new guy,” replies Mike.

“The newbie.”

“I think they want to eat us,” says a voice over the intercom.

“Hello?” I ask. “Who’s using the intercom without my permission?”

No one answers. Mike, Dorothy and I stop what we’re doing. Suddenly it occurs to me that one of the teddy bears might have gotten in. “Do you think one of them got in here?” I whisper to my team.

“I sure hope not,” whispers the voice over the intercom.

“New guy, is that you?” asks Dorothy.

“Of course it’s me.”

“Where are you?” asks Mike.

“I’m right here.”

“Where’s that?” I ask.

“Here.”

“New guy—“ starts Dorothy.

“Actually, it is Leon. I mean, it says Leon on my name tag which none of you ever read.”

“In tape and marker!” I say aloud to wherever the hell he is hiding. “You’re Newbie till I say different … or till you get a proper badge.”

“Yes, sir,” replies Leon, the newbie.

“New guy,” continues Dorothy, “We can’t actually see you. Are you hiding or something, cause we’re just hearing you over the intercom right now.”

“I’m right here, right where I was just before all that crazy stuff happened.”

This is weird. He’s nowhere that I can see.

“Leon?” I ask.

“I can use my name now?”

“Just this time. Leon, what do you see right now?”

“I see you three standing there looking up toward the ceiling.”

“Okay,” I reply.

“And I see the back door with a what looks like a big crowd of teddy bears.”

The back doors is at the very back of the restaurant, behind the kitchen and the office … can’t see it from where I’m standing.

“And, then I can see the basement too with the boxes. And the eating area. And the cash registers. And the entrance doors.”

“Anything else?”

“I can see what used to be the parking lot, but that’s just more bears and bright pink sunshine.”

Taking off my seal-shaped kiddie sunglasses (Dorothy is wearing the red parrot ones, and Mike went for the green alligator glasses, which goes to show you never know people till you see them in action), I head through the kitchen, stepping over the piles of patties and fries and fat, and into the back office. There’s the tiny CCTV screen switching between the different camera views of the restaurant: front of shop, back of shop, outside, exits, basement. But Leon isn’t here.

“He’s not back here!” I shout to the others, returning to the counter. “Leon, where the hell are you?”

“I’m right here.”

Dorothy looks at her phone. “My friend Millie thinks the teddy bears are adorable too.”

Leon laughs. “Starburst, that’s a good filter – works for everything.”

“How do you know what filter I used, Leon?” asks Dorothy.

Leon doesn’t answer. For a moment, all we can hear is the soft compression of teddy bear flesh against the windows and doors.

“Leon?” she asks again.

“I don’t know,” replies the newbie.

“I think he’s in the restaurant,” says Mike.

“We’re all in the restaurant,” I reply.

“Leon?” asks Dorothy.

“Yes?”

“Are your nails dirty?”

Another long pause. More compression of teddy bears. They are piling up on top of one another now, piling higher and higher against the door and blocking out the bright neon light. Every single one of them is smiling at us, which is better than the screaming, I guess. Leon hasn’t said anything yet.

“Newbie, tell her if your nails are dirty!” I shout.

“I can’t see my nails,” replies the Newbie.

“Are your shoelaces tied?” asks Dorothy.

“I can’t see my shoes.”

“Pinch the tip of your nose,” she instructs.

“Can’t find my nose.”

“Dude, you are not in Wurgers, you are Wurgers,” says Mike. “You’re the restaurant!”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” I reply.

“None of this makes sense,” replies Mike.

And that’s when the lock flips on the entrance and in floods a wave of fluffy, plush teddy bears. Suddenly, we’re neck deep in the cuddly creatures, and then we’re crowd surfing, tiny fuzzy arm by tiny fuzzy arm, out of the Wurgers and into their bright pink world.

*

It looks like a story book, wherever the hell we are. The trees are swirly, and the hills are like pencil colour landscapes. Everything is pink, pink, pink, except for the teddy bears, which are more like every single bear that was every made and ever discarded collected in one place. This place. Wherever that is.

The bears are everywhere you look. They’re surrounding us and piling on top of one another. And, to add to the horror, they are giggling. It’s a tingle-inducing succession of tittering.

“I think we’re about to die,” I whisper to Mike.

Mike takes the ear plugs from his head, “What’s that?”

“I think they’re gonna kill us now.”

He shrugs and puts his ear buds back on.

“Hey,” I say to him.

He takes one out. “Yeah?”

“Here I am here sharing my last moments with you, and all you’ve got is a shrug?”

“Mike feels things deeply,” says Dorothy. “His music helps him.”

I feel things deeply,” I reply, “well, sometimes I feel things deeply. Like, you know, when we miss our month-end sales target, or a customer complains, or I’m about to die.”

Dorothy gives me a look. It’s knowing. Since when did she become the psychoanalyst of the group? “Watch this,” she says to me. “Hello little fellow,” she says to the nearest, largest teddy bear. “You want a hug?” As the large teddy bear raises its arms, she scoops it up and gives it a massive hug.

Suddenly the whole group of them are cheering and clapping their stuffed paws together. The teddy begins to speak in teddy-bear jibberish, waving it’s arms into the air.

Dorothy nods along, as if she’s actually understanding everything.

“Ask the bear if it wants to eat us,” says a voice that emanates from Dorothy’s phone.

“Newbie?”

“Yeah?”

“You’re in her phone too?”

“I’m everywhere, I think.”

“Where are we?” asks Dorothy to the Teddy Bear in her arms.

What a stupid question. Where are we? Who cares where we are? We’re in the middle of some strange bright pink world that nearly burns my retinas, and all I can manage to see are teddy bears. We’re in someone else’s acid trip, that’s where we are!

The teddy bear continues with its jibberish, but now something is happening. The crowd is moving aside and making a trail back to the Wurgers. . .

And that is it for now. I have a second part, but nothing beyond that. 🙂 Maybe openly sharing a chapter will motivate me to write more. Or not . . . or maybe? It’s an experiment!

First Book Signing EVER Recap post!

Well – that was interesting!

This past Sunday took me over to Kanata (part of Ottawa) for a book signing event. Though when I say event, I really mean a wooden table, my books and a sign. But since this was my first book signing ever, I suppose that could merit ‘event’ status. Why not? 🙂

Book Signing

As I said, it was interesting. I feel like the occasion took part in three stages. Here they are:

Stage One: A throwback to preschool.

I arrived at the bookstore with my laundry basket full of book signing stuff – big sign, extra books if necessary, stand for the big sign, some quotes, some business cards and . . . no pen. I forgot the pen for the book signing. My mom dropped me off, and we decided she ought to stay for a cup of tea for a little while. So while she hooked us up with the teas, I set up my table.

Chapters was really good and put the signing table right at the front of the store. You really couldn’t ask for a better spot. So that was lovely.

We sat at the table and drank our tea. A few folks came up and one women actually recognized the book from the newspaper! She bought a copy for her daughter who had just given birth. I think that is awesome. Eventually my mom was like, “time for me to go…” And I was like, “NOOOOOOOO” because it feels soooooooooooooooooooooo awkward to be at the front of the store looking at people pass by just hoping someone might toss you a smile. It’s really uncomfortable stuff.

Ten more minutes tick by, and finally I said okay, she could go. Not that I was literally keeping here there – but I mean like she could go as in, I realized it was time to grow up and harness some courage.

So, mom left.

Stage Two: Alone.

After mom left, I was at the table sitting down and sipping on my tea. It continued to be weird. People walk into the shop and will either 1) make eye contact, smile and immediately move away, or 2) make no eye contact and keep a wide distance.

One lady asked if Claire Never-Ending was a kid’s book, which is totally understandable since it’s a fun cover. I’m going to try changing it – even if I do love the cover. She’s my first, and will always be remembered. I’m debating between three possible options for the next cover: random woman absorbing the world type image, random woman looking pregnant type image, or random connection to ancestry type image. I say random because it’ll most likely be stock photo – though I’ll carefully pick it.

Anyhow, it was a really painful hour. Weird-o-rama. However, I did sell a copy of the book to two ladies – a mother and daughter (the mom was 92) who were both named Olive. Apparently the name doesn’t go very far back in the family, but it does extend to cousins across the world. Cool.

While waiting for the agony of a book signing to end, Kevin and his daughter popped over to say hello. Kevin dropped off the copy of his book I’d asked for, The Novel Writer’s Blueprint, since I’m hoping it will help me kick some butt with my writing. And Lori popped over too with her two girls. Lori and I were in the photo collection Faces and a Cause shot by Lou Truss. She’d come all the way across town to buy two of the books! So, how is that for awesome? It was a delight to see everyone.

But then they left, and I was alone again.

Stage Three: Stand UP.

This is when a lady named Karen took her shift at the book store. She was working at the front of the shop greeting customers as they browsed the aisles. Karen came over to my table as I sat there feeling uncomfortable.

“You’ll never sell anything that way. You have to stand up.”

“Oh?!”

I stood up.

“Yeah,” she tells me. “You have to stand up and say hello to people. Have you got anything to give them?”

“I’ve got these?” I showed her my business cards that look like book.

“Bookmarks! Great, ask if they want a bookmark,” she suggested.

“Ok.”

(Of course this wasn’t our exact conversation – but it’s the gist. Karen also introduced me to another fellow who worked at the shop, who was, apparently “as shy as you are!”)

Chapters

So, I stood up and handed out ‘bookmarks’. The first person I offered a bookmark to rejected the offer with a decisive “no.”

“That’s okay, you asked her and that’s what matters,” encouraged Karen.

I did. I did ask her. She said no, and it didn’t physically hurt me. Besides, honestly, if someone doesn’t want the bookmark, it saves me one bookmark for someone who does want it!

For the rest of the time I was there, I was literally springing bookmarks on people. They would be whizzing by, and I was like “HEY YOU! TAKE A BOOK MARK!!”

(Well, okay, I was more like “Would you like a bookmark!!!!?!!!!!”)

Some people said no. But, several people said, “okay,” and of those a handful of them stopped to actually ask what the book was about, and of those I actually sold about three copies. And all of that happened in about 30 minutes of standing and throwing bookmarks at people. Imagine how it would have gone if I’d been doing that the entire time?

. . .

THEREFORE, it was a very worthwhile event. And standing up to launch bookmark assaults on customers felt far better than sitting down and hiding behind the pile of unsold books. It was still awkward, but it was good awkward. It felt kinda . . .adventurous.

So, good first signing! It was scary, and I reckon they’ll keep being scary but at least I know I can (at least) stand up and say hello. Maybe one of these days I’ll wander into the aisle and chase potential readers through the book stacks. Maybe…

And that is the story of my very first book signing event. Thumbs up for learning.

 

P.S. I used to work at that Chapters for about three years. Back when I met Zsolt and kept flying between Canada and Hungary, they essentially funded the plane fare by allowing me to pick up work whenever I was back in Canada.