Sunday, February 24, 2013

Snow Blows

Yep, here in Kansas we just got pummeled with a good foot of snow. I shoveled 'till my back couldn't take any more. And to get all existential on y'all, does it really matter? Really? The Snow Gods are yukking it up, ready to toss another foot on us tomorrow, laughing at the poor plight of the Midwesterner with the bad back, saying "hey, Charlie, check this guy out (because in my world, Snow Gods are named "Charlie")."

I come inside, sweaty, red-faced, looking like a Lifetime movie husband, all blustery and out of breath and ready to kill. I turn on the TV to be met with a jovial weatherman announcing the impending arrival of yet another hella' storm. And he's happy about it. Grinning. Grrr.

Meanwhile, the kids across the street were singing Let It Snow. I'd had enough. It was bad enough the brat was praising glories and hallelujahs to the Snow Gods, but he was also singing a holiday song out of season. Not on my watch. To show I wasn't a pawn of the Snow Gods, I stormed out and shoved the singing kid into a pile of snow and told him to sing Lady Gaga or something. That'll show him.

After I got outta' jail (not really), I made a vow to the Floridian Gods in their Bermuda shorts I was ready to join their side.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Y'all Know What's Weird?

I'm here to tell you, so simmah down now.

I have an amazing amount of friends who keep losing their money and luggage overseas. Friends I haven't thought of in a while (sometimes friends I don't even remember. I know, right? Old man brain!). I'm a pretty nice guy. I do my thing. I send money whenever my friends inevitably lose cash and baggage. It happens.

But, not even a thank-you or a fruitcake at Christmas? What's up with that?

I mean it's one thing to support a Nigerian ambassador who's seen better days (this guy's gotta' be making progress now that I'm consistently sending him cash), but maybe it's time to lower the hammer.

I mean it. Next time one of my friends are locked out of their hotel rooms overseas? I'm going to SERIOUSLY think about it. Maybe make 'em wait. Make 'em sweat. Then send money.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Differentiate Your Dicks

Oh, crap! You guys probably thought I was initiating my lethal launch into the world of erotica writing by the title of this blog. No. Sorry. Just some important business to attend to.

So, Dick York or Dick Sargent? The two "Bewitched" Darrens. Who's your choice?

20 years ago or so, my friends and I decided it'd be a fun "party-trip" to go to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to hang with my brother for the weekend. Well, we were decidedly wrong about "fun." You guys ever been there? It's like the edge of Hell. One bar (with a salmonella-baiting taco buffet), lotsa' surliness, despair, thrift stores, and boring crap.

We were in the Tulsa airport waiting for our shuttle to Bartlesville. A rerun of "Betwitched" was playing out on the waiting room TV which prompted a heated debate about which Darren was on the tube. I proclaimed him Dick of the York. An odd man with an indecipherable accent said, "That is NOT Dick York! That is Dick Sargent! Dick York is DEAD!"

Well, no. First of all, it was definitely Dick York. Secondly, and quite disturbingly, apparently Mr. "What-Is-That-Accent?"was terribly upset over our identification of Dicks. And even though he was right about one of the Dicks being dead at the time, this guy thought Bewitched was playing out in real time. Reality TV, I suppose.

A very uncomfortable shuttle ride to the end of the world ensued. Mr. "Knows His Dicks" glowered at us the entire way, angry at our lack of Dick-tation.

It's a complex world out there, folks, getting more and more cray-cray by the day. In the '70's, there were three actors all over TV and movies--James Farentino, James Franciscus, and Tony Franciosa. They looked nothing alike but I couldn't pick 'em out in a police line-up. And don't EVEN get me going about Keith David and David Keith. One of 'em's black and permanently scowling, the other's white and redneckier than all get out. I kinda' assume they were college roommates having a joke on all of us. I mean, how else do you explain it?

I guess my point is it's important to know your Dicks. (Plus I'm a 12 year old boy at heart and wanted to see how many times I could get away with writing "dick" in a non-vulgar fashion).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dianne Gardner's Behind THE DRAGON'S SHIELD

Hey, guys, let's welcome my friend, artist and writer Dianne Gardner! Dianne writes MG/YA fantasy novels with a positive message about nature to impart upon her young audience. I've read Deception's Peak, the first book in her Ian's Realm saga, and she's equally good at painting with words as she is with her artwork. Just take a look at her cover. It's a beaut! The second book in the series, The Dragon's Shield, is out!
Do you consider yourself an artist or writer first? Which field did you start?
That’s a hard question to answer, Stuart, because I’ve always done both ever since I was a youngster. I thought more about pursuing an art career, as my writing was more something I did to just express myself. I wrote a lot of poetry.
Do you write a story around a painting or illustration? Or do you write, and then illustrate?
Normally, now, I write first and then knowing I’m going to want some illustrations for my books, I’ll paint them. But before I started writing the Ian’s Realm series I started painting the dragon. I knew I was going to write a book and had already done a little outline for it. Enough of the story was formed that I felt justified painting Stenhjaert. (I’ve mostly only painting from life i.e. models, plein air painting, still lifes though not many of those.) So doing fantasy was a really new thing for me.
Once he was starting to take form I saw the story really come alive. From then on I wore a foot path from my house to my studio painting and writing all in the same day.
In every war or major conflict, there’re two opposing sides with differing viewpoints. Do you favor the Kaemperns or the Meneks? Consider one right? One wrong?
In their history, the Kaemperns come from the Menek village. They’re the outcasts because they refuse to bow down to the dragon. They do little harm really, nothing to warrant their banishment. But the Meneks feel a need to be of one mind in order to appease the dragon.
I favor the Kaemperns. They look to wisdom for their guide, and want nothing more than to rescue the Meneks from the dragon’s tyranny. Whereas the Meneks are somewhat na├»ve in their faith, and I do feel sorry for them, they are easily persuaded into paths that will destroy them. You’ll see this more in the third book Rubies and Robbers.
The most curious thing in the first book was the relationship between Ian and his father, Alex. I found it interesting that Ian was the stolid, fearful of adventure, wanting to keep the status quo of the two. He seemed sorta more mature than his father. Alex was kind of a…well, lousy father. Seemed like he endangered Ian for light-hearted kicks.  You got some ‘splaining to do.
I don’t completely agree with you on that one Stuart. Ian may have seemed sensible but he was also curled up in his shell afraid of life. A hermit. Think about it. He had one friend. One. Abbi. And then he was overly co dependent on his dad. His father, though more adventurous than many of us, knew his son had problems. Of course, Alex had some of his own especially since he lost his beloved wife, and found being a single dad a challenge. Though Alex loved his son he had no idea how to raise him single handedly.  Ian worshipped his dad, and Alex didn’t know how to stop him, other than detach himself from him.
Just because we’re parents, doesn’t mean we’re going to be good parents. And I would think that Ian’s mother did most of the parenting when he was young, so that when she died, Alex had no clue. They became friends; he shared with Ian the wealth of his knowledge, and wanted to share his love for life and adventure as well. Things just didn’t turn out as peachy for them as they should have.
Okay, pretentious time. Is this an allegory for anything going on in the world?
Hmmm. I don’t know, Stuart. Do you see any similarities in our world to what happens in the Realm? I’d like the reader to decide. And if you do please let me sit in on the conversation!
Tell us about your new book. What’s up in Ian’s Realm this time?
The Dragon Shield, book 2 of the series ends with Ian and Alex’s trip back from the Kaempern camp and then jumps ahead three years.
Eighteen now, Ian returns to the Realm to fight against the tyranny that has befallen his friends. But the Realm is a different place, the forest is dying, the Kaermperns have lost the shield that protected them from the dragon, and Ian has a hard time proving his allegiance when trouble follows him through the portal. His struggle to do right buries him in confusion, and he must fight his own will to prove his integrity.
I liked Abbi. Can we expect to see more of her in your new book? Maybe even…romance?
Abbi is in all three of the books. She’s a driving force for much of what Ian does and becomes a catalyst for the way things turn out in the end. Don’t lose sight of her. Though her part is small, it’s big!
Dragon’s are scary! Yet I want to see more of “The Master.” Does he become an actual character? Or is he just the ultimate Big Bad who we’re supposed to fear?
You will see much more of Stenhjaert in The Dragon Shield and again in Rubies and Robbers. And if you want to know where he came from before Ian ever stepped into the Realm, may I suggest reading A Tale of the Four Wizards, Meneka! You will also learn much more about the myths behind the Kaempern and Menek cultures by reading all four of the wizards’ stories.
Thanks for coming on over to Twisted Tales, Dianne! Okay! Dianne's got a mess of links! Get clicking:


Twitter @DianneGardner

Author Central on Amazon

The Dragon Shield on Amazon

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tex, The Witch Boy Official Trailer!

You guys gotta' get a look at my new trailer! No, no. Not THAT kind of trailer. But you gotta' go spelunkin' to find it. See where it says "Tex, The Witch Boy" above this? Next to the "home" button?  See it? Now punch it!