Friday, December 28, 2012

My Plumber Ran Over Bigfoot!

Everything's connected. In a strange way, every detail, every little thing that happens to people is connected in a weird sorta' fashion. The circle of life, the odd connectivity that unites us all in a "what the hell's up with that" sorta' sensation.

My wife dropped a makeup brush into the sink. She, being much more handy than I am, took the trap out, yet the brush traveled further along its journey. To oblivion, I guess, to join the world where missing socks go. No matter.

Time to call in the plumber.

He showed up, chattier than Cathy. Friendly to the point where you wondered if you should start a neighborhood watch, he carried on, postponing his next appointment. He talked up my wife about the comfortability of humidity in the house. Being more social than I, she put up with it and nodded and "ahhed" accordingly. I--like all writers--eavesdropped from a safe distance, zoning out , but when he brought up "Bigfoot," he had me.

Last year, the plumber went to a baseball game with his wife and ran over Bigfoot. Something huge, hairy, scary, raced out in front of his truck and he ran it down. Hopping out, he found no trace of anything, other than a messed up front end of his vehicle. But he knew it was the big fella'. In return, the plumber gave Bigfoot a few back problems, I'm sure.

Now, I don't know how tightly wrapped plumbers are. They make more money than I do, but that ain't saying anything. But I believe him. The universe is a funky dancer, gyrating wildly while the mind remains a wallflower. I find it odd that I've always hankered to write a Bigfoot novel and actually, I dunno, try to make it readable. I know, right? Goofy. But, I've thrown down my own personal challenge. And for this particular plumber to come into our house--having killed Bigfoot with his four wheel truck of death--well...the fates are telling me Bigfoot's time has come.

I guess I'm saying, listen to your plumbers. They see things. They know things. He's reading my palm next week (and fixing the seal on the upstairs toilet).

Monday, December 17, 2012

These Mayans Have Gone & Ruined My Day

Well, crap, the end of the world is just days away and I haven't finished my Christmas shopping. I mean, why bother? If we're all dead, fruitcakes won't matter. Since the Mayans have been kind enough to give us some advance notice about the end of days, I've been thinking.

How does one prepare for the end of the world? I suppose I should start making amends. I need to look up little Markie Meyers and tell him I'm sorry I stole a comic book from him in the third grade. I could holler at the neighbor across the street, "hey, maybe you're not such a heinous bitch after all!" Nah. Scratch that. Seems to me I should top her list.

My daughter's somewhat of a calendar expert. She works at a calendar and games kiosk at the local mall. I asked her if she had any Mayan calendars. I wanted to see if they just disregard December 22nd through the 31st. Her response? "Whatever, Dad." (By the way, the two biggest selling calendars at my daughter's workplace? One Direction and Justin Bieber. Talk about portents of the end of the world!).

"Whatever." It's this cavalier attitude about the impending destruction of the world that's got me up in arms. I think we should all live the day like it's our last. I've been squeezing out so many extra "love yous" to my wife, daughter and mother, they think I'm a living Hallmark card.

And maybe I'm just procrastinating and don't want to finish Christmas shopping.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Doctor Is In!

I'm asking fellow writers to help me out here.

My wife teaches pharmacy at a local university. She's also an avid reader. Nothing sets her off more then when she reads a book and the author misuses pharmaceuticals. Sets her ranting and pacing the bedroom, bellowing to the ceiling about the unjust world where writers don't use drugs correctly in their tales.

Who pays for these literary crimes against nature? I do. I put in my dutiful husbandly dilligence, nod knowingly, mutter inconsequential calming words. Usually to no effect. I'm the recipient of her hellish fallout. I'm paying for your sins. It must stop.

Recently, I was lucky I used animal tranquilizers correctly in a book I wrote about dueling serial killers. Reseached it, apparently hit it right (so, FBI, if you're wondering why I researched such things, there you go. You can take me off your "list" now). Gold star for me. But beware you other writers.

So, here's the deal. And it's actually her idea. The good doctor told me to pass on to my brethren writers she's putting herself out there. She wants a world where writing and pharmacy can peacefully coexist.

We're serious here. If you have any questions regarding the usage of pharmaceutical drugs in writing, contact me, I'll pass the question on, and get back to you. I'd like nothing better because it means I'll quit being the pharmaceutical fall-out guy.

Caveat time: Gotta know you're a writer and cybernetically know you. Don't wanna' be giving out info into the wrong hands. (End of disclaimer).

(And don't feel shy to donate cash to the "Give Stuart West Peace Of Mind" fund. It's a good cause. Between us, we'll make the world a better place. Okay, this part was all my doing. Just don't tell my wife.).

Monday, December 3, 2012


Let's chat about flashbacks. Not the kind you get from past drug use (not that I'd know about that from my high school days. Ahem.), but writing flashbacks. I've spent enough time talking about eating ladybugs, I thought I might chime in with a, you know, bonafide post about writing (by the way, for those interested, the ladybug I put into my mouth actually survived my oral ordeal. Hollywood's interested in that story. Nicholas Cage wants in. He's proposed the title "Ladybug: Eat Hard." But that's neither here nor there).

I've heard from both sides. One writer told me flashbacks are a sign of weak writing. I disagree with him, but I know they can be over-used. I'm still new to writing and learning how to do it. Think I'll always be learning. But, to me, I can't write without flashbacks. The past informs the present/future. They're echoes like ripples from a pebble tossed into a lake. Everything's connected and begins in the past.

Now, do flashbacks stop the the current flow in a tale? Yeah, maybe. But I think they add resonance. I'm currently working on an adult thriller that's practically half flashbacks. Too much? I don't know. But the tale wouldn't have the heft without them. I'd love to hear from other writers on the topic. And readers, too.

Monday, November 26, 2012

It does NOT taste like chicken

Just a quick, cautionary tale for y'all.

Over Thanksgiving, I discovered lady-bugs have a very distinct, bitter chemical taste.

It's complicated.

Thought I'd share my scientific findings (and always, ALWAYS look before you eat).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Socks Friday

I'm in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, visiting my inlaws over Thanksgiving when I realize I forgot to pack socks. Someone suggested I could borrow socks. Well, no. Thanks, anyway, but, um, no.

Socks are important. They're a crucial component of life. I mean, really, without socks, society would break down. Into violence.

So, I ventured out, looking for socks on Thanksgiving night. The worst possible time to go sock shopping. Because "Black Friday" has now turned into "Deep, Dark, Blacker Then Black Week," a week long orgy of  no holds barred, sometimes violent, shopping free-for-alls.

At Walmart, folks scrabbled, pushed, screamed and raced toward what they perceived as good deals. The sock aisle was relatively barren, yet the over-all ambience of the store was one of menace. Agonized howls rang through the aisles--not children, but older folks who should know better. Lines were longer than the wait at the driver's license bureau. Menacing glares were exchanged over the last video game available. Eyes were void of hope and full of greed. Sam Walton won this round.

It got me thinking about the true meaning of Thanksgiving. It's an American holiday based on how the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Native-Americans for basically saving their lives. And, of course, we know how well that turned out for the Native-Americans. Greeting card companies and big business want us to forget that little tid-bit. From the depths of a wiped out culture rose a Hallmark moment. Thanksgiving now means familial togetherness and love. We get together with our families for one day, get it all over in one fell swoop and move on with our lives.'s come around again. Thanks to Corporate America, Thanksgiving's returned to its roots. Once again, it's about violence and survival of the fittest. Weak shoppers will be trammeled over and forgotten. Those with the strongest stamina, pocketbooks and pepper-spray will persevere, no matter who has squatter rights.

I did come away from my Black Friday experience with socks. It took a helluva' long time. My feet stink less, yet I feel like a pawn in the Big Plan Of Things. Next Thanksgiving to protest, I'm going to defiantly wear dirty socks. Join me if you will.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Dreaded Husband Bench

I mentioned the "husband bench" in my last post. Now every guy knows what I'm talking about. But since I have very few male followers, I thought I'd clue women in. (And, yeah, I'll be giving out lots of secret guy things in the future, ladies. Just consider it a bonus for reading my blog).

The "husband bench" is always a very uncomfortable piece of plastic situated near the exit of department stores. Cold and sterile, the architects were no fools when they built it. The intention is to get the non-shopper out of the way so the shopper of the couple--straight, gay, doesn't matter--can do loads of shopping, unimpeded by the whining other half.

I imagine in the department store board-room meetings, Mr. Big-Time Department Store Magnate screams to his lackeys, "Make the bench as uncomfortable as possible! We need to keep shoppers moving in and out like cattle to the slaughter-house!" It's what makes America great.

My last visit to the "husband bench" was an eye-opening, yet soul-deadening experience. I took my seat, my back cold against the wall. Next to me, a tired looking man in a ball-cap eyeballed me, nodded, and we both went back to studying our feet. Soon, Ball-Cap's eyes lit up. His time in purgatory was over as his significant other approached, bags in hands. I gave him a farewell smile (but not too big, because I knew my tenure in tedium had just begun). It was time for a changing of the guard. The torch had been passed to me.

A young guy strutted up, full of energy and cockiness, and plopped down next to me. Didn't take long for his youthful vigour to slip into anguished mental pleas to the unfair gods to deliver him from this cruel fate. It was like watching air slip out of a balloon. He looked at me--the elder statesman of the bench--and I gave him a knowing nod, signifying that yes, this his hell, but soon it would all be over. Unless, there was a sudden announced blue-light special in aisle four or something.

After an eternity, celestial trumpets sounded! A glorious spotlight framed my wife, rounding the corner! I turned to the young guy and said, "now, you're in charge." He understood.

Later, I thought about this. And from my simple, yet agonizing, visit to the husband bench, my future series of suspense thrillers was born. It's too early to talk about it much, but the books begin with the meeting of two men on a "husband bench." But more about that later.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The OxyMORONISM of Fantasy Football

I'm not a sports guy. Never have been, never will. My idea of a sport is sitting on the "husband chair" at the local department store and counting the mullets that go in and out (here in the midwest, the count is astronomical).

So, when my friends asked me to join them in this pointless excursion, I scoffed. I said, "You know, my idea of fantasy doesn't involve football players. My fantasies are more along the lines of being shipwrecked on an island with a secretly unknown tribe of exotic super-models." They guffawed at my logic. Guffawed. I mean, really, would YOU want to be shipwrecked on an island with a league of football players? Yeah, me neither. The smell alone would destroy any of my earlier conceived fantasies. (And I better stop here about my fantasies, because my wife reads my blog).

But I caved to peer pressure. Not knowing what I was doing, I decided on a strategy. I picked players with the names of cars. I had a "Mercedes" and a "Cadillac" on my team. Maybe even a "Mustang." Good enough for me. Needless to say, I'm not doing so well. And I don't care.

Fantasy Football is the dodgeball of armchair sports. Bullies, who know much more about the game than I do, pummel me with verbal assaults, stinging me with blistering tosses of their well-armed football knowledge. I attempt to laugh it off, while soothing my wounded male ego behind closed doors with mental salves and bandages.

Really, what's the point? Has the Fantasy Football league bettered mankind? Does the winner walk away to his fantasy shower stall, patting himself on the back, believing he played a good game?

It's a sickness. And it needs to stop. It's too late for the election this time. But, next election, I'm going to lobby for an amendment abolishing Fantasy Football on the grounds that it', dumb. Please do the right thing and vote.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why Men Can't Clean Toilets

It's an age-old mystery, one passed down through the centuries, and one that hasn't been solved. Until now. I know why men can't clean toilets. Brethren, I've found the answer.

Call me the Indiana Jones of toiletry, the debunker of false porcelain myths, what have you. But I've uncovered some shocking evidence (I hope) that will unite the world over the on-going rift between men and women about toilet bowl cleaning.

I pulled the unfortunate short straw regarding household duties. It's my responsibility to keep the toilets clean. Not too happy about it, but I agreed. I hold up my end of the bargain.

However, my due dilligence at cleaning doesn't meet up to my wife's exacting standards. I thought, WHA?

Not too long ago, my wife dragged me into the bathroom. She strapped on blue, plastic gloves (looking like a distaff member of the Blue Man Group) and ordered me to put my head into the toilet. Being no dummy, I obeyed. I didn't see the point, but that's neither here, nor there. She went into full-on lecture mode, explaining the difference between liquid and friction cleansers. I kinda' zoned out on that part. But what I sorta' retained is "liquid" is spray, "friction" is powder. Okay, I'm good with that.

After this, I pondered. A lot. Through my scientific research (polling, asking the mailman, watching TV), I found that men and women differ greatly regarding what constitutes a clean toilet and what doesn't. Women like toilets to be sparkling clean, a damn near museum piece. But, here's the deal. Men see toilets as a functional hole, centered appropriately in the middle of the house. It's where dirty things go. You can clean it, wipe it, put a sheen on it. But it gets dirty again. The circle of life. Ultimately, an excercise in futility.

That's science and research for you. My wife's still not buying it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tag! Looks Like I've Been Tagged For The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Hey, everyone! I've been tagged by the awesome writer, Gail Roughton ( to join in "The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!" It's a game put into play to talk about what book you're working on and share with other writers. The idea is to leave your thoughts to ten questions and pass it onto The Next Big Thing! And, ahem, not saying I'm The Next Big Thing! That's just the title of the blog-hop (I'd settle for being "The Next Small Thing!"). are the questions, with my answers:

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

Tex, The Witch Boy.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I suppose it's something that's been percolating in my mind since my high school days (lo, those many years ago!).  The book's about bullying and I've utilized my personal experiences to tell the tale. Combined with my daughter's recent nightmarish tenure in the hellish halls of high school, the story was in play. I just needed a hook. I wanted an ordinary kid in an extraordinary situation, so I came up with a male witch.

What genre does your book fall under?It's a mash-up of genres, stirred (not shaken) in my mind's blender. I guess you'd call it a young adult, murder mystery, suspense thriller, comedy, drama, social issue, paranormal, romance "thang." And did I mention it's about bullying?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?Oh, good grief! It might be easier listing who I DON'T want playing my characters! First of all, I'm aware how the Hollywood mind-set works. What sells. So...I'd probably be cursed by having Justin Bieber, in his acting debut, play my protagonist, Tex.  Or Robert Pattinson (you can't escape him). And, of course, my lead female hellion would no doubt be Lindsay Lohan's comeback role. And since Nicholas Cage is in every other movie made (he's currently vying with Liam Neeson for that dubious honor), the role of my gay homicide detective, Cowlings, is his to lose. Mickey, the wizened witch, would be shuffled off to Sally Field, hoping for awards credibility. Gah! The stuff of nightmares! Honestly, though? Maybe the kid who played the most recent Spiderman--Andrew Garfield--might be good as Tex. He's a little old, but he brought vulnerability, sensitivity and ordinary charm to the Spiderman role that'd be perfect for Tex. Emma Watson might be good as Olivia, if we could "punk" her up and bring out her agressive side.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Tex McKenna, Kansas high school sophomore, uses his new-found witch powers to keep his friends alive and discover who's murdering the school bullies.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?Tex, The Witch Boy will be coming out in January from Muse-It-Up Publishing!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?I knocked out the first draft in about two-and-a-half months! That was the easy part. Then came the endless revisions and rewriting. After a year, I thought it was a finely-tuned, polished book. Man, was I mistaken! I've been through it several more times since!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?I can't really say, because it's such a mish-mash of genres, I may've created some sorta' new mutant genre strain! But, as far as "feeling" and "atmosphere" goes, I think To Kill A Mockingbird is close to what I was shooting for. Now before you scoff and think I'm off my rocker, y'all simmah' down and let me explain! No, my book's not a classic like Harper Lee's masterpiece. But, she wrote a social issue tale, rife with local color and detail, a mystery driving it, some spooky moments (the movie was the first thing that scared me as a kid!) and noble characters doing the right thing. That's what I hope I've captured in my tale.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to get my anti-bullying statement out there and if I can help make some poor bullied kid's life a little more understandable and tolerable, that's all the inspiration I need. But I also couldn't've done it without the support of my loving wife and daughter. And I didn't want to go back to the corporate rat-race. Lots of inspiration!

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
It's more or less a true story. Well, okay, I didn't deal with a serial killer and I'm not a witch, but a lot of the details, incidents and characters are based in reality. Oh, and hey! It's the first of a trilogy! The second two books are written (first drafts). Now, I need to rewrite those suckers!

Okay! The book'll be available in January at Muse-It-Up Publishing:

Now, for next week, I've tagged some writer friends of mine to carry the torch, so come check out:

Ashley Heckman:
Jim Henry:
Cyndi Williams Barnier:

These folks couldn't be more different from one another and all are worth checking out. Done! You're tagged!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Howling At The Moon With Gail Roughton

Happy Halloween, everyone! Boo! Sorry, didn't mean to scare you. But since it's Halloween, the most ghoulishly ghastly night of the year, I've a special treat (no tricks) for you. I'd like to introduce my friend Gail Roughton, paranormal/suspense/spooky stuff writer extraordinaire.

Now, a disclaimer. I was pretty much finished with vampire genre fiction. All those sparkly teen male model vampires pretty much drove a stake through the heart of vampire fiction for me. Couldn't handle it anymore.

Until I read Gail's DARK series. Seriously, these two books (get 'em both, as they form one epic, ginormous time-spanning saga) revived my faith in the fanged ones. It's thrilling, moving, epic, scary, imaginative, and yeah, there's romance in there, too. My highest recommendation. So, let's check in with Ms. Roughton on this scariest of scarifying nights and see what's on her mind. (Dang it, was that a ghost that just flew by here? Where's my ghost repellent?).

*Do YOU believe in the paranormal? Has that influenced your writing?

Oh, you betcha, damn straight and absolute. Wait, maybe I should clarify that a little?

*Your character, Ria, in the Dark series, responds to the supernatural in an unexpected, refreshing manner. If you met a vampire, what would you do?

The exact same thing Ria did.

*Do you control your characters or do they run you through the grinder? Furthermore, if you have a character slated for a sad demise, would you be able to change it? Or are you a slave to writing and fate?

Oh, my characters run all over me. They surprise me all the time. I think readers are most surprised when the writer is most susprised, I don't think that can be faked. If a character's slated for a sad demise, then he'll have a sad demise. If a planned sad demise becomes something else, it's because the characters pulled a switch-hit on me, not because I changed anything. They can change their minds (and do) but that's out of my control.

*In all your books, Southern regionality plays such an important part, it's almost a character in itself. Is this done intentionally? Will you ever stray out of the South and set a tale elsewhere (personally, I hope you don't!)?

No, making the South a "character" isn't really intentional, no mater how deeply it's entwined in most of my work. And I realize it's very deeply entwined in most of my writing. it just happens because it's part of me. Write what you know. I'm southern to the core. So my work is southern to the core. Usually. As to straying out of the South to set a tale elsewhere--and I realize you've read almost all my books--you haven't read Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights. Darlin', I didn't just stray out of the South, I strayed completely out of this world into a parallel one.

*Okay, I gotta' ask this. Without giving anything away, do you see the conclusion to the Dark series as a happy or unhappy ending?

Inevitable. It was an inevitable ending. I don't know that it's happy or unhappy, it was just the only ending.

*I've seen this term pop up in a lot of your writing. Please explain to us non-Southerners what "pure-dee" means.

Pure-dee: (adjective) completely, totally, absolutely, and without doubt. "That girl's just pure-dee beautiful." "That was just pure-dee mean."

*Is this your final word on vampires?

It's my final word on these vampires. The Dark series is done, it's finished. There won't be a third. Now, will other vampires pop up somewhere else? Your guess is as good as mine. Though to be perfectly honest, I really don't foresee another vampire tale, no.

*It's Halloween. What three horror films would you want with you on an island (assuming you have electricity)?

If I'm limited to three and only three, The Shining (the television miniseries version), It, and The Stand. If I could have two more, Wrong Turn and Skeleton Key.

*My last Halloween question, what scares Gail Roughton?

The same thing that scares any parent/grandparent, I think.  The thought of something happening to one of my children or grandchildren.

*So, you ready to introduce Dark?

Sure.  Y’all follow me, why don’t you?  After all, it’s All Hallows E’en.  Samhain.  The night when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, when the dead can cross back into the land of the living. When the living can cross into – Dark.

 No one knows that better than Tamara, Mambo of Stone Creek Swamp.  Tamara follows the Light, the Sweet Spirits of the Rada.  And she’s always on alert.  She watches.  She guards.  She guards against the evil of the Dark, the Bitter Spirits of the Rada.  Because she knows.  She knows “…dis world, son, it be ringed with worlds on worlds…Dey shift, dey overlap. Some of ‘em be real dark, full of evil and danger. Some of ‘em, dey be real bright and beautiful. An’ sometimes, folks whut doan know whut dey doin’, dey can make things happ’n whut wasn’t never ‘sposed to happ’n. An’ things can cross over from dem other worlds to dis one.”

The worlds that ring this world poise for battle.  Because Cain, Bokor of the Dark, the Bitter Spirits of the Rada, is opening the doors between the worlds on worlds that ring this world.  Where he came from, no one knew. He didn’t know himself. Sometimes he thought he’d merely sprung, full-grown, from the depths of the deepest swamps, the darkest bayous, of Louisiana.  Even Tamara doesn’t know why he can call such power. She only knows “…he ain’t a bokor ‘cause he choose to be. Not one whut takes his power and sharpens it on purpose, devotin’ his life to studyin’ de bitter Loa. He do know some of de rituals of power, and he use ‘em, but he doan understan’ ‘em. He use ‘em lik’ a little chile doan know how to read yet still can say his ‘a-b-c’s.”

What happens when a person of power doesn’t understand the power they’re misusing? Dark happens.  Over and over again. Moving from the past into the present  Because the past, like evil, never dies.  It just—waits.

So come.  Follow me.  Into shades and colors you’ve never thought of before.  Like The Color of Seven.  Like The Color of Dusk.  Follow me into Dark.  The Dark Series. 

Quick link to all Gail Roughton Books on Amazon:

Quick link to all Gail Roughton Books on Barnes & Noble:

Quick link to all Gail Roughton Books on Smashwords:

Also Available on  and -- Search for Author Gail Roughton

Okay! We’ve heard from Gail and her character, Tamara. The wind outside’s howling, spirits are restless, and it’s nearing midnight. Put the kids outside, tuck the cat in and you’re just a couple of clicks away from the perfect Halloween read. Happy nightmares (um…dreams)!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Size Matters To Mickey Mouse

So, I recently had dinner with my brother and his daughters. We had a heated discussion about the approximate size of Mickey Mouse. Yes, we both need to get better lives.

He insisted Mickey Mouse is the size of a real mouse. I, defiantly, stood my ground and explained to my brother, Mickey Mouse is about five feet tall.

Let's weigh the evidence. Mickey has a dog named Pluto. Mickey's larger than Pluto, keeps him on a leash and appears to be a relatively good dog-owner. At least he doesn't dress Pluto in Halloween costumes. Plus, I believe I've seen Mickey drive a car. Well, at least in cartoons.

My brother's defense? He said Mickey Mouse on Ice is not indicative of his size. He stared at me disbelievingly and said, "those guys on skates aren't real, right? You KNOW that, don't you?" He said this in the solemn way he told me Santa wasn't real. There's no arguing with my brother. Family.

The only problem with my rock-solid argument does "Goofy" fit into my vision of the Disney world? He's a dog as well. I think. Yet, he walks upright, speaks (unlike Pluto)and appears to be a well-adjusted--yet, slightly stupid--individual. I didn't bring this up. No need to add further fuel to the fire of my brother thinking I'm an idiot.

This argument has thrown everything I thought I knew into a tizzy. I lay awake at night, pondering the size of Mickey Mouse. Surely, a sentient mouse who walks a dog is human size. the back of my mind, I find myself questioning it.

So. I'm reaching out to y'all. What size is Mickey Mouse?

I know this isn't important in the larger spectrum of life (outside of the Disney empire), but I'm due for a good night's sleep, free of worry from large creatures who haunt my dreams.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where Writers and Authors Meet Interview Blog-fest Thingy

Hey loyal followers (well, all eight of you. And the others who aren't following, but should be? I'm looking at you!)!

Virginia, the wonderful moderator of the "Where Writers and Authors Meet" Facebook page, had a cool idea to toss together a group interview/blog-hop to generate interest. By the luck of some random robot's pick, I'm up first!

Here...this'll explain it better than I can:

Okay, here're my questions and answers...

1. Tell us a little about what you write.

I write genre fiction, both for young adult and, um..."old adult." Why must we put labels on everything? Anyway. Thrillers, murder mysteries, black comedies and horror.

2. I see that you are about to have your first book published. Would you tell us a little about your publisher or how you found them?

Yep. My first book, Tex, The Witch Boy will be published by Muse-It-Up Publishing in January. I'd heard good things about them (all true!) and decided to give them a shot. They likewise gave me a shot. Or they had many "shots" leading to their choosing my book. Never drink and publish.

3. Tell us about what inspires you to write.

You want lofty hoo-hah or truth? Let's go with truth. My inspiration for writing is staying away from Corporate America.

4. If you get stuck in a place in your writing, what do you do to get yourself unstuck and back to writing again?

Call Triple AAA? No. I don't know. I've never been stuck for longer than five minutes. It may not be good but for better or worse, I toss everything on paper and worry about editing later.

5. What describes your typical method of writing?

Planting my ample bottom into the same spot on the sofa and pounding away at the keyboard for hours on end.  My "lucky sofa" saw me through six novels, and it has the indentation to prove it. The sofa wears me like a glove. My wife's kinda' mad at me, though. The sofa's pretty much dead and needs a good furniture burial. I'll miss you, old friend...choke...I'll miss you...

6. Where did you come up with the idea for your book?

My first book has a lot of autobiographical elements to it. It's about high school bullying. The theme is sadly timeless. I'd say it's a mixture of my high school hell days and stories from my daughter's tenure in the line of combat.

7. Describe your best kind of day...

Beer and a bad movie. Talk about nirvana.

8. Do you prefer to outline your story before you write it or do you just freewrite it as it comes to you?

You're talking about "pantsing!" I never knew what that term was until I started chatting to writers (I thought it meant bullies yanking your pants down! Yes, I'm a five year old boy.)! Mostly I fly randomly, letting the characters take charge, but I do like the comfort of having little post-it notes giving brief one-sentence descriptions of what the next scene should be.

9. What is one thing that you would like to be able to do in your lifetime?
Call Hitler a sissy.

10.Where can your fans find you?

Um, in the bathroom, I guess? No...wait.  Right here on my blog or email me at the above addy. You mean I'm gonna' have fans? Shut UP! What about groupies?

Okay, it felt like I was interviewing myself, but that's okay. All writers are sorta' crazy anyway. Right, evil imaginary twin brother Stuart? (The man in my mind nods and glares.)

And speaking of other writers...look who I found! Another midwestern writer of the fantastical nature: Stacey Brewer! She's my neighbor over in Joplin, Missouri (yep, the same town that was devastated recently by the tornado. When y'all stop in at her blog, ask her about her husband. He heroically braved the storm to knock on folk's doors warning them of the impending danger). Here's her website:

And, here are Stacey's questions:

1) I see you write fantasy. Why fantasy?

2) What's the name of your first book? Is it part of a series?

3) What's the book about (and please try and answer this question by writing with a British accent, because British accents make everything 110% more interesting.)?

4) Are you writing for children, young adults or adults? Or all of the above?

5) You're a fellow midwesterner. Does the color and flavor of the midwest factor into your writing? The midwest, after all, is home to the granddaddy of fantasy, The Wizard of Oz (believe me! I've heard all the Toto/Kansas jokes. They're STILL not funny!).

6) What character are you in the book? I know every writer puts themselves into everything they write to a certain extent.

7) What are your favorite fantasy novels? Is it your favorite genre to read?

8) Are you as influenced by cinema as much as writing? If so, what movies come to mind?

9) Will you continue in the fantasy field? Or are you interested in chasing other genres?

10) Quick! Favorite James Bond actor? (Be VERY careful how you answer this. There are two acceptable answers).

Alright, swing on over to Stacey's pad and tell her I sent ya'.  Feel free to stay awhile. She won't mind. She's very nice.

 And remember...don't drink and blog.

Tex, The Witch Boy's Gotta' Cover!

Take a gander. Talented cover artist C.J. Volnek has put a face to my boy, Tex.

Now. I never wanted to envision what my character, Tex, looked like. He was sorta' vague in my mind and I liked him that way. So, it's shocking to see him living and breathing on my cover.

C.J. did a bang-up job at capturing the oddball nature of my first book. An ordinary kid stuck in extraordinary circumstances. She captured the duality perfectly.

What's slyly awesome about C.J.'s stellar work is I believe the cover will appeal to both guys and gals. And that's what I wanted. Thanks, C.J.!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

LegoLand Inferno

Good Gawd, folks! You ever been to "Legoland?"  I think it's the seventh circle of Hell. Or close to it. It's at least circling the perimeter.

Okay. Just spent a tour of duty there yesterday. I truly enjoyed seeing my nephews totally freak over the amazing awesomeness of Legoland. And their father enjoyed seeing his boys have fun. That was priceless.

But, come on. The dang place is a so-called "attraction" built around pieces of molded plastic. Little blocks with nobs. Like pimples or something. Yet, kids were running rampant, thrilled to death to be around more plastic and variations of plastic. We had a very disinterested tour guide, who didn't say a word (cough*serial killer*cough) and were dumped into the "plant" where we couldn't hear a damn thing over the kids pounding on anything they could find. Kids rifled through huge barrels of Legos throughout the place, coughing, wiping their noses, replacing the hunks of blocks back into the community bins. Hey! Don't forget the ten dollar hot dogs awaiting the end of your journey (no doubt made partially of Legos)!

I'm sounding like a crotchety ol' guy, but, hell, as a kid, I had fun with a cardboard box. Of course, I was a weird kid. Doesn't matter. Burns, splinters, knee slashes? A badge of honor.

Now, the badge of honor is some cheap plastic medal they toss at the kids after surviving the hells of Legoland.

Yeah, Legoland sucked. But, you know what? My nephews had a good time. Almost makes it worth it. Almost.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ah, Kansas

Kansas. The land of ahhhhhs. Cornfields. Sunflowers. Norman Rockwellian portraits of small-town living. Tornadoes. Teenage witch boys. Crazed evangelists. Insane farmers. Haunted mining towns. A secret society of serial killers. A ghostly Kansas City suburb. Evil genetic dairy farming scients. A murderous class reunion. Religious zombies.

Wait. What?

Welcome to "Twisted Tales From Tornado Alley." This is my Kansas and I'm going to be writing dark fiction about the secret underbelly of Kansas. I'm going to scratch at those hidden infestations and expose Kansas for what I know it to be. Creepy. Why Kansas? 'Cause I'm stuck here and you're supposed to write about what you know. So, unless people are dying to read about my boring 26 year tour of duty in boring corporate America, looks like you and I are stuck with dark tales set in Kansas.

Now, unless you're a relative (hi, Mom!) or you've stumbled in here by accident, let me introduce myself. I'm Stuart R. West, author. I wasn't always a writer, but that's a tale for another day.

First up's going to be my novel, "Tex, The Witch Boy." It's a young adult book about...well, a teenage witch boy. But it's more than that. It's a murder mystery, a tale of friendship and love, and a supernatural saga. And it's about bullying in high school. Believe it or not, the incidences of bullying found in my book are true, having happened to either myself or a friend. Sadly, things haven't changed since I was in high school.

The book's being published in January by Muse-It-Up Publishing, available for preordering soon. I'll have links and a cover image up later.

Anyway, thanks for visiting! I vow to not try and bore everyone silly with pompous posts about the *sniff* "IMPORTANCE of writing" and what have ya'.