I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived in a great number of places, exposing me to a great number of cultures and a great number of dickheads. And a great number of nice people.

But you remember the dickheads.

I’m trying to remember the dates. I started university in the autumn of 1978. I believe the Uni didn’t start the work term program until you’d already completed your first year (and, by the way, I barely completed my first year).

The work term program alternated work and university in four month stints, with the expectation that the work done during the work term was somewhat related to your program of study.

          The Flin Flon. Northern Manitoba.

So I did a year of university, spend the May – August months working at an oil refinery digging ditches (engineering adjacent adjacent adjacent), then back to school for Sept – Dec. The Jan – April period was a work term. And I believe it was Jan to April 1980 (yup – I’m that old).

And I got a job at a zinc mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba as an electrical apprentice. A bit closer to my studies – I’d decided early I was going to be an electrical engineer.

Flin Flon, by the way, is north. No, further north than that. WAAAAAAY North. January to April is the coldest part of the year there. So cold that snot freezes before it can drip.

I was lucky enough to be working below ground, in the mines, along side an old electrician (and looking back, he was probably younger than I am now). Not a lot of high tech back then. Pumps and lights, for the most part.

And while I can say I left the north on good terms with those I worked with, it did start out with a massive dickhead move by the arsehole I worked with for four months.

This guy, let’s call him Brian because I think his name was Brian. Or it may have been Dennis. It was almost forty years ago.

Brian it is.

Brian is taking me on a tour of the underground part of the mine (there was smelter action and cadmium extraction and stuff like that above ground, but I was below ground most of the time). The inclines and declines (relative to a central shaft, I learned – I first thought it was a “decline” walking down the path, and when I turned around it immediately became an incline. Nope), the lunch and locker rooms, the electrical rooms – all things I’d immediately forget.

We came up to a corner leading to a decline and he stopped. “Hang on a sec – traffic.”

Me, being the trustworthy sort, assumed he meant traffic. Like a cart loaded with ore or something like that. I opened my mouth to respond when there was a godawful KA-BLAM and the ground shook and dust filled the air and Brian (or was it Dennis) almost pissed himself laughing. They were blasting on the face. He knew it, and knowing what I know now about mines, he was more than likely well into an exclusion zone that he should (and I should) not have been in.

Dickhead.

Anyway, I survived. Almost electrocuted myself later in the winter and found out recently that much of that mine is now use to grow most of the medicinal marijuana grown in Canada prior to pot legalisation.

So there’s that.

Short post. This is an invitation to pop over to Stage32 and have a read of screenplays I’ve put together over the last few years.

Pop some popcorn, swing by here, have a read, leave some comments.

Thanks!

I’m old(ish) and the knowledge that comes with age (I won’t say wisdom) would – should – be appreciated by youth. Except I remember, vaguely, youth, and my dad was a fucking idiot back then. Not so much now.

So. Sharing seems pointless. Especially since those young’uns who would deign to listen probably don’t need advice. And, reality check time, most advice is a waste of time. Life is largely situationally specific and the things that helped me probably won’t help you. But there is an overriding lesson I wish I’d learned some 40 years ago.

Be you.

Simples, right?

The amount of energy I spent trying to be someone cooler or smarter or sexier (shudder) or whatever than me could heat a small town in the dead of a prairie winter’s night. Wasted energy, because nobody has figured out how to harness teen angst. And, honesty being the currency of today, that teen angst wore well into many decades after those teen times. In fact, the “be you” sensibility, for me, isn’t much more than 10 years old. If that.

I don’t have a lot of confidence that any youth I know will heed this. Fronting a persona that makes you “better” is the default position for most. And it’s so fucking stupid. I still run into people in the office who are trying to be something they’re not. Too much effort. Too much energy wasted on that when you could be using that energy to succeed in whatever you’re doing.

So, youngsters and oldies alike, stop trying so fucking hard. Relax into yourself. Be you. It’s a hell of a lot easier, and we’ll probably like you better for it.

Unless you’re an asshole. Try not to be that.

My son is an avid gym goer. He plays elite level sports and fitness is mandatory element.

He’s not looking forward to the next month. The gyms will be packed with people who decided that, after all of the excesses of the holidays, now is the time to get in shape. They’ll all (or the vast majority of them) be cleared out by February.

That’s the problem with short term resolutions: Unrealistic goals, extremely unrealistic timelines and an almost 100% failure rate.

Which is why I don’t make any. There are piles of abandoned resolutions in my past. They haunt me. On the odd occasion I look over my shoulder at them, they sneer and say something along the lines of “see what you coulda had” and point at abs, or a viable book marketing plan or an alcohol-free life (that one was never going to happen).

You’re only setting yourself up for depressing failure if you don’t plan things out. And if you plan them out, then they’re not resolutions.

Make a three or five-year plan. Make it an achievable goal. Make it something like “I want to feel healthy” or “I want to fit in that suit I bought five years ago, even if it is no longer in style because what it style anyway, but a construct perpetrated by the fashion industry”.

Work backwards from that.

Do you need to buy a gym membership? Buy it. Schedule two or three times a week that fit in your schedule to go. Make it a habit. You don’t have to back squat 100kilos on your first visit. That should take YEARS.

Do you need to eat more fruit? BUY MORE FRUIT. You’ll get tired of throwing it out and after some time you’ll start eating it. (It pays to buy fruit you actually like.)

Cut out sugar. (That’s not a question. Just do it.)

Eat fewer simple carbs (white bread) and more complex carbs (multigrain bread).

Eat less. (A foot-long Sub? Really? Your stomach is happy after six inches – that’s what she said – and the remaining six are just future stomach fat.)

So don’t make it a goal you need to reach in a month. It took years to add that weight and fuck up your lifestyle. It’ll take years to undo the mess. Deal with it.

 

I’m Club Secretary of the Hornsby Rockets Ten Pin Bowling Club. We’re a self-funded club for adult bowlers with disabilities. There are forty bowlers at all skill levels, every one of them having a hell of a time at league bowling every Saturday morning.

Unfortunately, not all can attend the regional competitions we visit because not all of them have access to easy transportation. We’ve applied for a Thermoskin Grant to raise money to hire a bus to take bowlers to competitions within NSW.

Unfortunately, awarding this grant is not based on need, but on votes. Help us help the bowlers by heading to HERE and voting for us.

We thank you all.

LGM…and I can’t wait.

It’s been too hot, PLUS, I need to know if Jon Snow (I just typed Jon Snot and I think I’ve got a new character for a Chandler-esque parody book) is really dead.

So I’m sitting here wondering why I’m watching a show called “Secret History of UFOs” when Season 2 of Daredevil has just dropped (no sleep for the next 18 hours, right?)

And I have no answer that makes any sense to me.

I don’t doubt that somewhere in the enormous expanse of the universe(s) there are other life-forms. Probably not carbon-based, and probably not bi-pedal, but life-forms, none-the-less.

But I doubt they’re travelling hundreds or thousands of light years to Earth, to buzz the planet.

Yet I’m still watching. There are people on this show that are either seriously taking the piss or are in desperate need of support of the mental health variety. I think I have a pathological obsession with conspiracies. Not that I think a conspiracy of any size involving the government is possible. But the fact that there are people who this it is possible to pull the wool over the collective consciousness, for extended periods of time, fascinates me.

The tortured logic required to neatly slot disparate facts into a pre-determined structure fascinates me. The willingness to discount any reasonable explanation in favour of bug-eyed green men in ships made of liquid metal. Covered up by the military. And not a single person “in” on the cover-up ever talks.

But who am I to complain. I’m watching it. And Daredevil has dropped.

I’m helping you participate in the Read an E-Book week by severely reducing the prices on all of my books, reducing some of them to free.  At the stroke of midnight, March 6th (Pacific time) the following prices come into effect:

Matt’s War  FREE (usually $2.99)

Book ‘Em – An Eamonn Shute Mystery  FREE (usually $2.99)

G’Day L.A. FREE (usually $2.99)

Family Matters $1.00 (usually $3.99)

G’Day USA $1.00 (usually $3.99)

Daly Battles: The Fall of Pyongyang $1.00 (usually $3.99)

Unprotected Sax $1.00 (usually $3.99)

Have Wormhole, Will Travel $1.25 (usually $4.99)

Target: Australia $1.25 (usually $4.99)

Killing Time $1.00 (usually $3.99)

This sale is only a week old, so set your alarm and get them while you can.

 

MadD_front2(400x600)In mid-February I’ll be releasing my eleventh book. Hard to believe. I didn’t know I even knew that many words.

I’ve ventured into a new area. Private detective in a small town. Small town Australia, actually. I’ve lived here for ten years and I’m starting to feel comfortable here.

Now, while the book isn’t officially available for six weeks, you can do me a huge favour and, if you’re interested in buying it, pre-ordering it now. As an independent author, one of the more powerful tools at my disposal is pre-orders. All of the pre-orders from a retailer made in advance of the release date accumulate and are presented as sales on the release date. The bump up the sales rankings on the day provides added visibility — more eyes on the product, as it were.

So, if you want to spend $2.99 (Americano dollars) on what I think is one of my best books to date, don’t wait until it’s released. Pre-order it now and give a guy a hand.

Thanks

Available for pre-order on Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | Barnes&Noble

Structure v2Act Two is the middle chunk of the story. It’s a good half of the story and character arc. We’ll talk about the first half of Act Two — up to the Midpoint turn — this week, and the second half next week.

As you read in the post about Act One (you did read it, right? No problem. I’ll wait. No rush. I just poured a fresh whiskey), the setup and status quo in Act One is ruptured by the First Plot Point, throwing our hero into a status that is distinctly not quo.

Think about how you would react. And that’s the key word: React. Out hero is in response mode, reacting to the event (the First Plot Point), that threw him into the mess he’s currently in. Look at Liar, Liar. Act One ends when Jim Carrey’s character, Fletcher Reede, discovers in the most embarrassing and painful way possible that he can’t lie. His appearance in court the next morning (which appears to be Jim Carrey vamping and the editors taking the “best” bits) is a complete and utter disaster, from a lawyer’s point of view. He can’t lie. And he can’t win unless he does.

Then the office. A parade of abusive (and truthful) one-liners, culminating in a battle with a “royal blue pen”. He has, at this point, no idea why this is happening to him. He’s wandering through the minefield of “not lying” and it’s killing him. It’s 100% reaction to the situation that’s been forced upon him.

Somewhere between the First Plot Point (end of Act One/start of Act Two) and the Midpoint is a Pinch Point. The PPs are used to let the reader and (sometimes) the hero know the magnitude of trouble they’re up against. If your story is crime fiction, this is a good point to show how bad the villain can be.

In Liar, Liar the villain/antagonist is the truth. Or rather, Fletcher’s inability to lie. And at the point where you’d expect to see a Pinch Point, one occurs. Fletcher runs a light and when pulled over by the motorcycle cop and is asked “Do you know why I pulled you over”, responds with:

Fletcher: Here goes: I sped. I followed too closely. I ran a stop sign. I almost hit a Chevy. I sped some more. I failed to yield at a crosswalk. I changed lanes at the intersection. I changed lanes without signaling while running a red light and *speeding*!

Cop: Is that all?

Fletcher: No… I have unpaid parking tickets. Be gentle.

The end of the first half of Act Two is the Midpoint, the part of the story where new evidence is revealed that changes the story for our hero.

The Midpoint of Liar, Liar is when Fletcher discovers that the source of his inability to lie is the wish his son made at the birthday party Fletcher missed. Of course he then reveals to his PA, Greta (the awesome Anne Haney) that he was incapable of lying (and the partner, Miranda, overhears and tries to exploit it). Until this point, he has no idea why it’s happening. Now he knows, and he transitions to Attack mode — the second half of Act Two, which we’ll talk about next week.