21 May 2017

The Junk Man Cometh

Have you heard that expression that one man's junk is another man's treasure? It pops up once in a while - especially when a flashdrive gets full and I need to remove files to make room for something new that is, by definition, more valuable than whatever I may select to delete. It's a conundrum of our modern technological age. Yes, I know that there is a cloud up there somewhere, but I don't live that way. I like my stuff to be in physical, tangible form, and under my constant control. 

But I digress.... 

Recently I was in that situation of reviewing old files to determine which I could part with. I had to open many of them to see if they were truly necessary. That led to an interesting bunch of hours perusing my backstory, revisiting the ancient history of who I was long ago. I pondered why this file was of interest to me back then. I had to tie it to that point of time in my life: where was I? what was I doing? who was I enamored by? what did I hope for my future? Not exactly a walk down memory lane. More like running a gauntlet of alternately embarrassing moments and painful days of yore.

So, rather than toss a few old files away willy-nilly, I decided to conspire with my past self to share the more maudlin ones with an unsuspecting public. You're welcome. And so, without further adieu, I present "Files from my old Folders":


“Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you’re lucky.”
Alan Moore (via eroticasa)
The answer to life’s question right there

I must have saved this as a useful retort to those folks who see clearly defined genre boundaries. Although I may categorize a book as sci-fi, for example, that's just for marketing purposes. The story will include everything from romance to horror to comedy to hardcore techno-babble to dreamy alien wisdom. Because that's what I write.


Call me crazy, but I just feel like liking everything today!

(That way, I will continue to be able to see them...thereby ruining the dreaded algorithm that decides what I like without me having to do anything like actually clicking the word 'like' to indicate my approval of the topic or my admiration for the poster or my sympathy in the case of sad posts or otherwise indicating that I have seen the particular post whether or not I took the time to read a link or pondered the headline or caption or smiled at a picture of a bunny or similar warm, fuzzy meme, or conversely turned away at a picture of tornado damage, sick children, or other similar images of the darker side of life's experiences, or otherwise left some meager sign of my existence in cyberspace, much less in the world of reality, which is, as Plato once demonstrated, nothing more than a snake oil salesman's compendium of incomprehensibility based on flawed human senses and a wild imagination....)

Have you ever logged on to your favorite social media abyss and just decided the heck with it and clicked the 'like' button on everything? Almost everything? And as you go down the wall/feed you begin to discriminate, to pick and choose what you will adorn with your approval? Truly an odd feature of these human things!


Mother's Day is a two-way street with intersections, ice cream trucks, and horse-drawn carriages, half in shade and half in sunshine, and people pass once or many times and never think of it again.

I have no doubt this was a not-so-well-thought-out rebuttal to all the holiday trimmings abounding that day, and by extension every holiday. Too many such days when we are expected to perform rituals, recite the words, offer up the usual platitudes. True feelings are more likely to erupt spontaneously at certain moments throughout the year, less so on the actual day given over to the display of familiarity.


Icelandic love phrases

I like you. Ég eins og Þú.
I love you. Ég elska þig.
I love you. Ég ást Þú.
I want you. Ég vilja Þú.
I need you. Ég Þörf Þú.
Do you love me? Gera Þú ást mig?
Do you want me? Gera Þú vilja mig?
Do you like me? Gera Þú eins og mig?
Kiss me. Koss mig.
Take your clothes off. Taka Þinn föt burt.
Have sex with me. Hafa kynlíf með mig.
I love cuddling with you. Ég ást faðmlag með Þú.
I love your touch. Ég ást Þinn snerta.
You smell good. Þú lykta góður.
You taste good. Þú finna bragð af góður.
You are beautiful. Þú ert fallegur.
You are handsome. Þú ert myndarlegur.
You turn me on. Þú snúa mig á.
You drive me crazy. Þú ökuferð mig brjálaður.
I’m falling in love with you. Ég er bylta í ást með Þú.
Will you marry me? Vilja Þú gifta mig?
I miss you. Ég ungfrú Þú.
You are so sexy. Þú ert svo kynÞokkafullur.

Because, well, sometimes you have to write a novel about a girl from Iceland and you want it to be realistic, right? So you do your research and you save all kinds of things just for that one page where you might type it in. Then it stays hidden in a folder within another folder on a flashdrive that needs to be cleaned. 


Hungarian Goulash

2 pounds top round beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
0.5 teaspoon black pepper
0.25 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
1 bay leaf
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
Warm cooked buttered noodles

In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine beef, onion, and garlic; mix well.

In a small bowl, combine flour, paprika, salt, pepper, and thyme; mix well. Add to meat mixture, tossing to coat well. Add tomatoes with liquid, carrots, and bay leaf; mix well.

Cover and cook on HIGH setting 4-1/2 to 5 hours hours or on LOW setting 8 to 9 hours, or until beef is fork-tender. Remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in sour cream. Serve over noodles.

I know why I saved this recipe. I was writing my vampire novel; that is, a novel about a guy transforming into a vampire. At least, that's what he fears. Being of Hungarian ancestry, he eventually ventures to his ancestral homeland to seek a cure. I supposed I wanted to try the native dish to glean whatever I could of the culture, to better help me write the story. Then again, once I had made it, I realized it was very much like the stuff the cafeteria served us for lunch when I was in 3rd grade.

So there you have a handful of stuff I saved for whatever reason. Now that they are yours, please pass them on. Help the next person fill their flashdrive. 

(C) Copyright 2010-2017 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

05 May 2017

The 5th of the 5th of the 5th!

Sure, it's a "made-up" holiday, this May the 4th Be With You Day. It easily follows the laborious Labor Day otherwise known as May Day celebrations and is followed in short order by the equally sanctimonious Revenge of the 5th Day (that is, "Revenge of the Sith"). And that coincides with the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, the celebration of an old battle victory over the French invaders.

Nevertheless, I shall celebrate my own day on May 5th (since I eat plenty of tacos throughout the year, anyway), and I shall call this day The 5th of the 5th of the 5th! On this day I shall reveal for public scrutiny the fifth paragraph of the fifth page of the fifth chapter of each of my completed novels...no matter what it may be, whether self-revelatory or not. I am willing to take that risk.

And so without further delay...here are the 5th paragraphs of the 5th pages of the 5th chapters:

1. The Last Song (as yet unpublished, this book is divided into four "symphonic movements" so it does not have a true 5th chapter; thus, I shall offer the fifth paragraph from the fifth chapter-like section):

“I learned the theory of the music of the gods, from the Discovery," the old music teacher grumbled. "The real music! And now...now they’ve gone so far astray. It’s pitiful, downright pitiful. I pity all of them, those greedy, lazy free composers.  Music destroyers is what I call them!”

2. Year of the Tiger (coming soon)

Between the dull throbbing in his chest and the steady ache in his head, his vivid consciousness began to waver. He slipped back and forth from the soothing pastel walls of his room to a steamy, vegetated world of jungle bird calls and the incessant thumping of native drums. Sweating profoundly, he listened to the drums, then the birds, then the rustling of the leaves around him. A breeze wafted over him, humid and heavy, pressing him deeper into his mattress. The drums faded away, then the birds.

3. Aiko (mercilessly drummed out of Amazon's 2014 Breakthrough Novel Awards competition; published anyway!)

      It was the 80s, he considered, wondering where his youth had gone, already in his thirties and fearing he had missed something. Japan was opening up to internationalization, long past recovering from the ravages of war and hardships of reconstruction. Now Japan had stepped out as an equal among nations, pressing for leadership in the international community. Stereotypes were falling away. Slowly. No longer were images of geisha and samurai what people thought of; endless varieties of electronics and quirky pop singers with pink hair and thigh-high boots were the most noticeable imports. Ben had to smile: he had never had any interest in Asia—not the culture, not the food, not the people, their languages, their fashions, nor their ways of doing business. He had only limited experience, anyway. In college his girlfriend had roomed with an exchange student from Korea. And in high school there was a chubby girl by the name of Yoko, but he never considered she was half-Japanese; she was just another American to him. Then he’d arrived in Hawaii.

4. The Dream Land (a.k.a. "Long Distance Voyager" - Book I of The Dream Land Trilogy), steampunk interdimensional adventure

“It’s...glorious,” she whispered, and he was surprised she could be so taken in by her own experiment. He had to agree, touching her hand and giving it a reassuring squeeze: it was beyond their expectations.

5. After Ilium, romantic adventure in Turkey

      Alex knew they were talking about him, even though the words were Turkish. They sounded strangely like the drunken mutterings of his fraternity buddies, and the shadows shifted to become his roommate, Nick, with a swarthy face and black, curled beard, like statues of the old Greek king, Agamemnon, that he’d seen in museums. Nick had been killed driving home from spring break six weeks before graduation, a trip Alex had reluctantly declined, citing an important paper that was due. The shadows shifted and Nick was replaced by the image of the doctor—the image of how he thought the doctor appeared.

6. A Beautiful Chill, a campus affair turned ugly

“We are lovers,” she says, taking his arm so there will be no confusion.

7. The Dream Land (Book II "Dreams of Future's Past")

McElroy lowered his head, seething. He had never hit a woman before, though he had come close several times. He had always managed to hit a wall or a door. Once he hit himself—his head—against a door to release his anger. He did not carry his pistol tonight since they were going out to dinner in a nice restaurant. But he could never hit a woman. He had too much respect for—

8. The Dream Land (Book III "Diaspora")

“No, course not.” Tammy giggled. “They are on another planet. How’m I supposed to have contact with them?”

9. A Dry Patch of Skin, the only medically accurate vampire tale.

       I resisted the easy double-entendre and responded thus: “My pleasure.” After all, I’ve learned over the years that the best way to assure anyone comes is to not make jokes until after it happens. (Oh, is that a dirty joke? I’m not sorry, nor am I offended that anyone might be offended. I did not come right out and say anything obscene. That is the beauty of the double-entendre: only those privy to the context find it clever. All others sit dumb-faced like wilted flowers. All right then, I apologize. Next time, bring your own jokes.)

10. A Girl Called Wolf, an arctic adventure tale based on a true life

       “Anna?” Somebody called my name, my Catholic name that the Lord of Denmark chose for me. I turned and there was a woman with red hair. She ran up to me and hugged me before I could move.

11. Epic Fantasy *With Dragons, an epic fantasy that has dragons, a dragonslayer, a boy from the palace kitchen, an old magus, a little princess, a valley of death, and a whole lot more!

    Corlan arose, weary and sore. He stumbled to the door, hung on the handle a few breaths, and realized as he opened the door that he was still naked. After the hours with Petula, he cared not. He simply wanted to keep that memory fixed in his mind, playing the afternoon tryst over and over.

Thus is revealed the 5th of the 5th of the 5th!

I encourage you to enjoy your tacos, your lightsabers, and should the mood strike you, go ahead and get yourself five books. Share with five friends and your life shall be made five-fold better by your generous acts!

(C) Copyright 2010-2017 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.