Wind-Toads at Night: A Very Short Story

Source: Toad Pencil

Source: Toad Pencil

We had a huge cold front come in right around 9:00 last night. The temperature dropped fast from 52-degrees Fahrenheit to 20-degrees Fahrenheit, and by our 10:30 bedtime the wind was blowing hard. Our bedroom wall is northwest facing and somewhat unprotected, with no wind-block trees or shrubs or walls. The property backs onto a college campus with a good five acre field that lets the wind streak across unobstructed whenever weather spins out of the northwest. Our bedroom wall gets pummeled by roaring air, our windows rattle and shake like something is trying to get in.

So I awoke at 12:30 to howling gusts that had to be hitting 50-60 mph. I could not sleep for nearly an hour until Marla woke up too and began immediately to chat with me about the howling wind-toads. She could have been a scientist so matter-of-fact is she about the things she brings up out of sleep.

I said, “Wind toes?” She said, “No. Toads.”

I said, “Really? Toads flying on the wind?” She said, “Nope. Just wind-toads…half wind, half toad.”

I asked if that meant we would have toast in the morning.

She said “Nope. Toads! We’re going to have toads for breakfast but we’re going to have to get the wind part out of them first.” I pointed out it might be easier to get the toads to jump off the wind.

We left it at that and snuggled in the dark with the wind howling like wild toads deep in a forest. But as I drifted into sleep, knowing how much I loved her, I wondered if wind-toads even knew that human beings existed. Maybe they were just doing what they’re supposed to do and would feel bad if they understood that they were scaring a couple of middle aged people out of sleep on a lonely late winter Wednesday night.

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Everything at the Pharmacy Is Wrong, As is Life in General

English: American television news program 60 M...

Reporter Lesley Stahl (Wikipedia)

Last night we watched an extraordinary story on 60 Minutes called “Sex Matters: Drugs Can Affect Sexes Differently” by Lesley Stahl. If you didn’t see it, you need to follow the link at the end of this post to watch it. Everyone who has gone through 7th grade biology in America needs to be aware of the implications of this story.

In a nutshell, it turns out that men and women metabolize drugs differently. Stahl’s story focuses on Ambien the sleep medication. In the past few years researchers have learned that women only need a dose half as strong as men to achieve the same sleep effect. In essence, women have been prescribed overdose quantities of Ambien since it hit the market … because scientists didn’t know any better.

The story also touches on the fact that men and women have different heart disease issues and that a dose of aspirin for men is indeed helpful as a prophylactic, but for women not so much.

What’s important here is that it points to a huge set of research assumptions that have [Read more...]

Advice on Supporting Indie Writers & The Best Indie Book Sites on the Web

I want to report that after two years of indiscriminate book reading on paper and screens, I have come to the conclusion that I like reading on-screen more than paper. I did not start this process as an experiment, but I was aware that I should do everything in my power not to be judgmental on either side of the fence as I read.

There’s the obvious issue of being able to change font sizes (my 56-year-old eyes suck), but in addition: I like the compactness of the reading experience; I seem to be able to scan a story better (that is speed up and slow down the reading process); it’s also awesome to set up a catalog of highlighted text with book apps; and [Read more...]

2013…(The Merman Turns Again): My Undercover Soundtrack

DCBiddle HeadShot MedRez

New headshot. Woo Hoo!

I’ve got a guest post called “Sex, Drugs, Metaphysics, and Rock ‘n’ Roll” over at Roz Morris’s website My Memories of a Future LifeIt’s a quick-read, but provides a tour of some of the recordings that influenced me as I worked directly on my novel Beyond the Will of God.

Roz runs a great shop and offers a feature setup weekly for authors to highlight their musical influences called “The Undercover Soundtrack.” You really ought to subscribe and check out some of the past features. Check out the link list at the beginning of each post. It’s a quick resource of all the links in a post that allows you to quickly follow each track the author refers to in their text. Also, one of the coolest things about Roz’s music site is the list of all the previous references you will find at the very bottom of the page. She’s posted so many great pieces on authors’ musical influences, if you just think of a musician or composer, you’ll likely find multiple links to their work in this massive database.

Roz is also the author of the “how to” book Nail Your Novel. It’s a fabulous resource if you’re struggling through writing a novel or if you know someone else who is (hint: give books by independently published authors for the holidays). I bought Nail Your Novel, first because I thought it was a manual on how to make love to an e-book, but also because the notes [Read more...]

Not the Marriage Plot: On Men Reading Novels in the 21st Century

Here’s what I think about at some point of every day:

What is going on in this world that would lead so many men far, far away from reading modern literary novels?

I’ve written here at this blog and in other places around the Internet about my overall concern for literary fiction. A helluva lot of intelligent people want nothing to do with it anymore. Before the Internet took hold (about 18 years ago), I thought that somehow it was just the little world I lived in here in [Read more...]

The Future Book Market for Us All

“The Kindle Glazer…” © Mike Licht

My latest Talking Indie column is now posted at Talking Writing Magazine. The title is “Why Aren’t More People Reading E-Books?” We did a heck of a lot of research on available reading preference statistics to come up with this piece. My initial draft was full of all sorts of numbers and data set links. Fortunately, I have editors who are gifted and insightful. The piece does not hammer you with data. The main point is that while e-books continue to get all sorts of media and blogger hype, the majority of readers (in the Western world) are still slow to accept this new technology.

That’s changing fast, though. Last summer this preference data gave fuel to those contrarians who, for whatever reason, are threatened by digital books. There’s no question that this technology is [Read more...]

Kindle MatchBook: Read More and Live Free

At the end of the summer, Amazon offered to let all of us authors and publishers in on their new Kindle MatchBook program. MatchBook is an interesting deal. It’s set up to allow readers to get the e-book edition of a book at a very low cost when they buy the paperbound version — kind of a 2-for-1 thing.

The program has been offered to both indie authors and traditional publishers. That means you can get budget pricing on the e-book version of thousands of books at Amazon store. The budget pricing range is anywhere from $2.99 on down to Free. As an example, John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany can be purchased as a [Read more...]

The Effect of Staring at Screens: an essay on Alt Lit, Tao Lin, and Marie Calloway

English: Tao Lin in 2010

Tao Lin in 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve spent a good amount of time over the past few months really trying to understand this whole new Alt Lit approach to fiction. There are some links at the end of this essay if you want to explore this movement too. Basically, there’s a bunch of Millennial writers, mostly centered in Brooklyn and the surrounding area, working to be poetic and lyrical in new ways with text and art using everything from Tumblr and Twitter to retro-digital graphic technologies in the attempt to do something new to Literature (note I say to, not with…).

The main reason I want to understand Alt Lit is because over the past 2-3 years it has become all too apparent to me that the electrification and digitization of books and stories is the [Read more...]

What We Mean When We Say the End of Books is Coming

Image representing Seth Godin as depicted in C...

Seth Godin (Source: CrunchBase)

Seth Godin is one of the most insightful mainstream bloggers you can find on the Internet. His fame comes from popularizing, among other things, the ideas of “Permission Marketing” and Internet “Tribes.” The dude has been involved in marketing, development and innovation in the computer and Internet media world since he began work with Spinnaker Software in 1983.

Godin posted a particularly insightful piece in mid-August called “An End of Books” that pretty much anyone who gives a crap about where we’re headed as a global community needs to check out. Whatever your politics or your religion, books as the vessel for ideas and vision have been the single most important element of civilizations at least since the invention of the printing press.

The gist of Godin’s post is that electronic text is changing everything. Nothing new, right? We all know this — even those of you die-hard “I wouldn’t wipe my ass with a Kindle” purists. What I like about “An End of Books,” though, is that [Read more...]

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