Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Importance of Laughter

I recently added an extra episode to my normally weekly podcast.

It was a Thanks for the Inspiration episode. These are an attempt to acknowledge and say thanks to the people, places, and things that have helped to either feed the muse, or perhaps just to feed the very soul and makeup of the writer behind that writing.

Link to Episode 126 - Thanks for the Inspiration and the Laughs

In this bonus episode of the podcast, I thanked the creative spirits who have produced musical parodies about Covid-19 and the current global situation. Because laughter is important.

As I said in the episode . . .

Yes, these are dark times, but laughter is important.

It connects people. And laughter has been shown to actually stimulate positive activity in a person's immune system.

I know we're all scared, we're uncertain, we aren't sure what's coming, for us, and for those we know and love. Things seem to be spinning out of control. But we can always control where we focus and how we respond.

I choose love, compassion, and humor.

And I choose to thank all of these amazing creative people who took the time to spread their own passion, through humor, to help others find smiles and laughs in these trying times.

You can click here to check out the show notes, with the audio as well as links to the original YouTube videos, or you can listen to the episode using the built-in media player above.

Below are the original YouTube videos

Covid-19 - The Taylor's - Parody of "Come On, Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners
JJ Mason Taylor (The Taylor Family)

My Corona - Parody of "My Sharona by The Knac
Kevin Brandow, Lyrics by Chelsea Brandow

Quarantine - Parody of "Let It Be" by The Beatles
Joe Cron

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (with new lyrics!) Parody of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke from the movie Mary Poppins
Daniel Matarazzo

One Week of COVID 19 - Parody of "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies
Pepper Coyote, Adapted original lyrics by @daniAwesome  

My Corona Home - Parody of "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys from the movie Cocktail
Jon Pumper

Coronavirus Rhapsody - Parody of "Bohemian Rhapsody by Quee
Adrian Grimes, lyrics by Dana Jay Bein

I have always loved musical parodies, and I am grateful for the fact that these awesome folks, and so many others, are continuing to create brilliant parodies to help us with smiling and laughing in these most challenging and trying times.

Hats off to them.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Such a Rebel

I was honored to be a guest on a recent episode of The Rebel Author Podcast with Sacha Black.

I've had the pleasure of interacting with Sacha over the years, particularly in her active role within the Alliance of Independent Authors, as one of the organizers for their series of virtual Self-Publishing Advice Conferences.

Self Pub Advice Con

Sacha is a writer, a developmental editor, a speaker, and a rebel podcaster. She is the author of a number of fiction and non-fiction titles. I am looking forward to having her on the Stark Reflections Podcast in the near future to talk about her writing and a few of her latest books.

Sacha's Books

But, in the meantime, I was an honored guest to be on her podcast in Episode 21 - How to Get Your Books into Libraries.

Episode 21 - How to Get Your Books into Libraries

You'd be wise to click the link above and subscribe to the podcast, but you can also listen to the episode online either following the link or using the online player below.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Haunted Canada Road Trip (Virtual)

If you have young ones in the home looking for something fun (and a little creepy) to do, why not check out this great series of videos from my friend and fellow horror author, Joel A. Sutherland.

(In all honesty, you don't have to be a kid to enjoy them - you can be, like me, a kid at heart. Because I've been loving this series)

Click here to see the Playlist of YouTube Videos

Joel is the Silver Birch Award-winning author of the Haunted Canada series and has been called Canada's answer to R. L. Stine by Quill & Quire.

To top it off, he's a great guy, and a librarian. C'mon, how COULDN'T you love the guy?

Joel, who was born in Ottawa, kindly wrote the introduction to my adult non-fiction book Creepy Capital: Ghost Stories of Ottawa and the National Capital Region.

As of today (March 26, 2020), there are 9 segments of Joel's daily Haunted Canada Road Trip.

Definitely worth checking out.

Here's the first one in the series about a haunted hospital in BC.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Infectious Fun: Viral Video of Dancing To I Will Walk 500 Miles

There is a hilarious tweet with a video that I just have to share, and to talk about.

It's from a Twitter user named Liz from March 20, 2020, and it reads:

My mom has really enjoyed being quarantined with me since classes went online.

Click the image above to see the original Tweet and Video. Or below to see it on YouTube.

It starts off with a woman sitting quietly in a living room and reading.

Less than a second in, a younger woman, her daughter, comes stomping into the room to the music of I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers.

A montage then begins of the young woman dancing, following, and invading the personal space of her mother. The tension builds as the persistent dancing becomes annoying as the matriarch tries to continue going about reading or other household chores while her daughter dances up a storm.

It's funny, and, at one point you suspect it might become one of those occasional Saturday Night Live sketches that starts off funny, and then gets less funny as it goes on, and you regret losing those 2 or 3 minutes of your life to it, or how that sketch made the weekly cut.

But instead, it gets better.

Because of the confrontation that happens.

And the resolution.

As Twitter user lonliness points out, the "infliction point" or the "inflection point" - basically where the conflict happens, or there is a moment of dramatic change, the mother has two choices. (Writers take note of this critical element that happens in a story)

The mother makes the decision that turns this video from cute and amusing to brilliant.

And it's also a story about the beautiful infectious nature of smiling, laughing, and dancing together.

To a great song that immediately inspires dance.

And we all need a little bit of that sort of infectious fun.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Free Author Reading for Children

It can be extremely challenging when people are quarantined or self-isolating and are looking for something different to do other than sitting on the couch and watching television or binging online streaming services.

I've enjoyed seeing authors and celebrities reading stories, either adult reads, or even children's picture books, in order to provide something unique and entertaining for people to enjoy for free.

To that end, even though most of my writing isn't all that family friendly (a side-effect of writing horror and speculative tales from the darkness of the shadows), I thought I would share a couple of recent readings I did, specifically with the goal of providing some family-friendly content that could be enjoyed by middle-grade aged folks.

Adults, of course, might also enjoy these tales.

The first, That Old Silk Hat They Found is a dark-humor look at what might actually happen if a snowman were to come to life. Would he really be happy and jolly, and be able to dance around and march in a parade? Or would his life be significantly different?

That Old Silk Hat They Found appears in both my mini story collection Snowman Shivers which is available in eBook, print, and audiobook. (BTW, you can download the eBook for free on most eBook retail platforms).

The second story, Looking Through Glass was published in an anthology edited by Julie E. Czerneda called Stardust. This was part of the Tales from the Wonderzone series of books that were science fiction tales drawing upon the Ontario curriculum of science for grades 3 through 6.

My story was inspired by a combination of states of matter and properties of light from the Grade four curriculum, and the bit of a science fiction mystery story about a boy and his uncle Zak, an inventor.

Here is hoping that you enjoy these family-friendly and child-safe stories.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Wait! Did You Hear That? Anthropomorphic Snow Sculptures

Have you ever wondered what might actually happen if a magic hat were able to bring a snowman to life?

Have you ever cast an uncomfortable glance over your shoulder when passing the silent snowy sentinels that stand so eerily quiet as you pass by on the icy sidewalk?

Have you ever marveled at the secret life of anthropomorphic snow sculptures?

Then you might enjoy Snowman Shivers: Two Dark Humor Tales About Snowmen.

Free Audiobook Download

Since today is March 15th, the Ides of March, I thought it might be fun to share the audio version of this mini story collection. Click the link above to download the audio file.

The eBook is also free on most eBook retail platforms.

The collection includes the tales Ides of March and That Old Silk Hat They Found. It also includes a "behind the stories" section as well as a short history of snowmen in popular culture.

You can also ask for the book in print, audiobook or eBook at most public libraries. Here is the OverDrive link to the eBook and Audiobook version.

In addition, here's a reading I did of That Old Silk Hat They Found back in April 2018.