Posts Tagged With: literature

A Short Photographic Tour (Part II and Last)

Ah, well, time to wrap up what I started last week (the photographic tour, I mean ;-P ). I regret the delay in continuing with its second and last installment, but a terrible conjunction of bad weather and available time after performing a series of odd jobs here prevented me from posting.

Mud, Mud Everywhere...

Mud, Mud Everywhere…

You’ll notice I changed things a bit in today’s post. To begin with , I moved the reference map to the bottom of this post. And we’ll resume our tour by jumping straight to photo number five, the picture shown here at the left. In this photography you’ll see one of the typical dirt roads available to reach this place (#5 in the reference map): Supposedly, it should be a road hard-packed with finely crushed graved, but the lack of proper ways to channel rainfall away from the paved surface has taken its toll after near 15 years, carrying away the gravel and leaving only mud holes in the spots where the water tends to pool.On occasions, the local City Hall deigns to drop a few truckloads of the refuse that comes from highways resurfacing work, but this is pretty rare. I had to help spread some of this stuff last week… and I have the backache to prove it.Meanwhile, the local roads are just impassable mud holes every time it rains down here (and as my old favorite joke goes… they don’t call this the rainforest… wait for it… for nothing, baby!) that can’t be crossed without getting stuck ankle-deep in this crap.

In fact, today I had to grab a rock bar and dig up a few draining ditches so I could be able to walk through and do my scrap metal scavenging rounds.

A God Forsaken Place...

A God Forsaken Place…

Picture #6 is a general view of one of the nearby houses. As you can see, as most of the houses here, it’s in bad shape and disrepair. The main issue with this area is A) the place isn’t really suited for building any kind of structure, as the soil is basically highly hygroscopic clay that expands as it absorbs rainfall, causing walls and columns to crack and shift… and B) most of the houses here had been bought by land speculators who only wanted to earn a quick buck when they purchased property here in Cholondron, with the knowledge that a major Interstate highway was going to be built a bit later. Of course, these idiots weren’t interested in living here, so they didn’t invest a penny in improving the property and/or providing sufficient maintenance to it, which caused the entire place to fall into total abandon. Problem is that, yes, the highway was built… but no one checked the fact that there would be no direct exit ramp from it that could really affect the property value. It went a little up, I give it that, but without this crucial highway exit, the price increase has been rather marginal.

Mushroom Kingdom? Where's Mario when needed?

Mushroom Kingdom? Where’s Mario when needed?

Picture #7 is just another angle of same house. Please notice the peeling paint and the cracks on the wall. The roof is also cracked, with fractures running all across it. I tried to frame the picture better so it’d show the mold splotches growing in the ceiling… and I guess I excelled in it (What’s your opinion, folks? Did I or didn’t I succeed?). Technically, the house is rotting in molds and is “ill” by many of today’s architecture standards. Most probably, it will be necessary to demolish the structure, since it’s quite unhealthy to live in it.
You can only look at this house and imagine the beauty and splendor that its owner intended it to have; the guy expanded upon the meager, barely functional design of the original structure by pushing the front walls three or four feet outward, adding a front porch, sculptured columns and beautiful stained glass windows. Now it is only a crumbling house, falling apart at the seams and subject to the malice of passing vandals and the occasional prowlers searching to profit on all the abandoned property that’s so frequent in this region.

Another Broken Dream...

Another Broken Dream…

Picture #8 is about the house of the nearest “neighbor” I had… but no more. The guy who owns this place was a former fireman and had bought his house with his retirement funds. He moved in with his wife and three kids, obviously thinking he had finally made his lifelong dream of owning a home in a quiet place.However, people possess the unfortunately tendency of not knowing when to stop getting themselves into trouble. This guy liked to hang around with some unsavory local elements, and he got involved on a personal argument over a personal loan over someone else’s car.

Rumor has it that this other fellow didn’t like it much when the fireman collected what he was owed by repossessing the vehicle and one day the felon “visited” him at gunpoint and tried to recover it (the gunshots, sixteen of them, were heard as far as my own house about a mile over)… This happened about five or six years ago, and the fireman guy and his family scurried their way out of this place as a “lemonade cork” (?!?!?Huh!!!???) like the native colloquial expression says and means “getting out here with an extreme hurry”.

Now, the beautiful house is abandoned, showing signs of vandalism and the gate is padlocked and covered with vines and brambles. Just another broken dream, like many others here. I should know, I mean to tell you.

Living here, surrounded by all these abandoned houses is plainly depressing.

Well, I guess that about covers my brief photo tour. I wanted to take a few extra shots, but by the time I took my 12th picture, the “Battery Depleted” icon popped up in the small LCD screen of my digital camera. So much for “fresh batteries”.

Once again, I’ve been duped by the local intelligentsia.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

Just a sketchy little map... not much to see here...

Just a sketchy little map… not much to see here…

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A short Photographic Tour (Part 1)

Ah, great! I finally managed to get hold of some fresh batteries for my camera, which had been sitting inside a drawer, gathering dust for the best part of a year. Or at least that’s what the expiration day of the pack says, which I hope is true (things like these are never a certainty in my home country, you know!)

Just a sketchy little map... not much to see here...

Just a sketchy little map… not much to see here…

So I decided to test my new camera, taking some pictures around… just in case. (It would be silly to drag the little gadget to Curacao just to discover it doesn’t work anymore, wouldn’t it?) And I think that a small photographic tour is in order. Fear not, it won’t be one of those endless slideshow session that your boring Uncle Frank seeems so fond of.

Of course, a little preparation comes first, so fewer explanations will be required later. I made a small map of the street where I live (portrayed here on the right) which shows the spots from which each of the snapshots was taken. Regrettably, I failed at showing the rainforest in each of the shots I tried to make, mainly for two reasons: A) It’s a bad case of can’t see the rainforest for the palm trees and B) Every picture I took didn’t really convey the feeling of big that your first impression of walking through the tropical jungle makes on you. Believe me, it’s one of those things you have to experience first hand.

Originally, I intended to make this just one blog post, but after making the initial layout, I realized it’d just become a big, unwieldly mess, so I decided to split it into two halves, and publish each one independently. So, here’s the first part of this blog post…

Looks normal... but so did Elm Street...

Looks normal… but so did Elm Street…

Now on with my first picture… The one on the left looks down on the street I live; it would be a great  spot to practice some radical skateboarding moves… if it wasn’t for the awful pavement conditions that would break your neck after just a few yards rolling on the highly irregular surface.

Does the sun glare bother you? Got a surprise for you; that’s glare reflecting into the camera… that’s the general humidity of being so near the jungle. hanging on the air 24/7.  It shows heavily in this picture because it’s early November and the air is cold enough for the humidity to form a constant light mist until it’s 9 or 10 AM. It’s not normally noticeable during the rest of the year but, believe me, you’d feel it on your skin the minute you walk in.

The street ends in a knot landing (which has frequently trapped unwary idiots in a mudhole for hours; people whought they could use the knot with impunity without realizing it was in reality a cul-de-sac.

Looks like a nice place to live in? Well, you’d like it… if you’re into being surrounded by another 12 empty houses, giving you the cringe-worthy feeling that you live in a ghost town.

Particularly recommended if you’re a hermit.

Ah... Home, crappy home!

Ah… Home, crappy home!

The next picture is of my own house. It’s humid, the walls are cracking, the roof is leaking and the paint is peeling. The two trees planted in front are its natural air conditioning system, as they keep the place under a shade all a year long. I live in a comfortable 70-80°F temperature range… while outside this natural parasol the sun blazes away at 110°F on every surface it shines on. While it’s shady, you can still feel the excessive moisture on your skin all 24 hours of any given day. Even at this nice temperature you’ll perspire and your sweat will have no where to go with all this water saturating the air.

Ah, and when the day is particularly hot, you won’t avoid the discomfort of experiencing the occasional hot air breezes casually drafting through the house, blasting away all the cool air out from the insides of the structure.

Also, electric power goes out  six to seven times a day, the toilets don’t work and it’s infested with all jungle bug that’s conceivable.


Work never ends…

Now, this plot belongs to one of my “neighbors“. This is one of the few measly sources of income that I still have left since my business manufacturing school gymnastic mattresses folded for causes beyond any human control (that, and since no one ever buys my books, that’s about it).

Before I took care of the place, it was an impenetrable field of camelote, our local version of elephant grass. You could barely place a foot into the area without hitting an African bee nest or stumbling upon a snake.

Took me six months of grueling hard work with a machete just to put it in the condition that the place now is in. Notice the haze? The photo was taken near 10 AM and you can still see it. Also, notice this yard now requires a trimming as the grass begins to show 5-inch long blades just a couple of days after it has been cut.

Selfie time!

Selfie time!

Now, I’m not particularly fond of selfies, for I’m not a very fotogenic guy (one of the reasons I look like as if I had just bit into a lemon in this snapshot). Like my new look? I call it the shave-my-head-to-prevent-you-from-noticing-my-hair-is-thinning-on-top look.

You may wonder where’s the rainforest in this picture… well, this area used to be a thick jungle a few years back, until a raging fire killed all the trees in existence over that place. Now only elephant grass, brambles and underbrush grows there, turning it into a very impassable location… except maybe for the prowlers and opportunistic thieves that like to roam the place during the night.

There’s a lot of petty pilfering happening in this place, as a dozen abandoned houses are too much of a temptation for the burglars. Most of the structures present in the area are missing windows, light switches, toilet bowls and electrical wiring; you name it, it must have been stolen already. In other words, anything that isn’t nailed down is a target for these petty thieves. These criminals have created faint trochas (trails)  through all that mess, so they basically have the run of the place and move unhindered from this spot to their stinking hideouts.

Nothing can be done about it, except keeping your eyes peeled for their illegal activities.


Well, I guess today’s post sort of covers the first half of my little photographic tour of my personal hellhole.

Stay tuned for the second part one of these days…

Edwin Stark
Signing Off



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Planning the Big Plan

Things have been quite still on this blog for the past month, and I’ll soon tell you why…

First of all, I haven’t had time to write; doing very little of that recently, as I now spend much of my time online (as possible) chatting with Simone. It is a far from relaxing activity for me, since I must deal with slow connection speeds and constant web browser crashes that are driving me crazy. Sometimes I don’t even know if my messages get through (they get plenty of “your message couldn’t be sent” red messages on FB… but all these nuisances are worth it, since she and I are making a lot of plans.

Yeah… we developed a very interesting plot for Xaman’s sequel involving Ixchel and Josh and a larger-than-life cast of characters… in fact, the whole idea is so big it’s almost daunting. Simone wrote a very cool prologue for a half-first chapter I already wrote down. I think it will please a lot of the people who asked that we write what happened after the events that unfolded in Xaman.

Plus, we have the barebones and first chapter for a gothic ghost story set in my fabled town of Nosfort during the early 1900’s, involving a haunted hotel.  It might become a classic, I tell you.

Just Released for the Kindle!

Also, Simone and I put together a collection of our creepy short stories; both had a few of these lying about, each one hoping to have enough short tales to build our own individual collections but, alas, that was something set for a distant future as neither one of us had the inclination to write some more short stories for the time being.

Fortunately, Simone came to me with the idea of jamming all this tales together in a single volume and market them as Darkness Waits. I thought over it for all of fifteen seconds before saying yes, as it was a terrific idea. I’m happy to report the book has already earned its first 5-star review. Just click on the picture to the right and scroll down the page to read it!

But what has been taking most of my time during this month is that we’re planning to meet at an island of the Caribbean before the year ends. Yep, Simone and I are going to travel to Curacao and have a brief encounter there. So far, it has been quite difficult to organize, as getting my sorry butt out of the hellhole of a country I live in has proved quite a challenge.

Of course, I mean to keep you all posted of what happens, but meanwhile, go and buy tons of my books to make this unlikely dream possible… (Oh, hell, who am I kidding?)

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Why so many movie remakes?

I’m following several horror fan pages in Facebook, and one of the many questions that pop up in there (besides the “Where are you from?” and “Who’s single here?” ones) is “Why are there so many movie remakes being done? Is there no longer any imagination?”

Well, considering that practically every major horror franchise I grew up with during the 80’s is being rebooted and made into a new film (the genre has been recently plagued with remakes of Nightmare in Elm Street, Friday the 14th and The Evil Dead; for Heaven’s Sake, they even made one of Fright Night, my second best favorite upbeat vampire movie! Quick! Somebody shoot me before they remake The Lost Boys with Shia LeBeef in it!), this is a fair simple question with an even simpler answer.

The Hollywood guys don’t have the guts to try something new.

You see, making a movie is certainly a risk. When you’re a Hollywood executive, the fate of several hundred million bucks lays in your hands when the time to greenlight a project comes. Film business sounds like fun, but in reality is a nightmare of colossal proportions. You have to deal with the terrible decisions someone else made, last-minute script rewrites, explosive tantrum-throwing diva stars, production problems, a special effect department that didn’t comply with a deadline schedule. Film business is a land where Murphy’s Law reigns supreme. (Sounds a bit like my home country, doesn’t it?)

One of the major problems a movie mogul faces is the possibility that the whole thing may be a turkey or, even if the final product is a real excellent and good movie, that the idiotic masses don’t even cast a glance of acknowledgement in its direction, dying at the box office. Now, don’t feel bad for these guys; they always recoup losses in the international market, TV cable rights and the after-market DVD sales (I suspect that the secret wet dream of some of these guys is to make a cult classic that will keep reaping benefits decades after the majority of people out there has forgot them).

Therefore, movie executives would like to minimize risks to the barest minimum, so they resort to doing a reboot of a formerly successful franchise instead of taking a risk on a completely unknown Intellectual Property (IP from now on; I’m too lazy to type that out every time I need to refer to it 😉 ). They are in the hope that an easily recognizable franchise will draw enough of an audience to pay for the venture and, why not, even make enough money to get some profits to their personal benefit. They expect that by making a new version of, let’s say Nightmare on Elm Street, would bring in the now mature fans along with their teenaged kids, plus a massive gaggle of bored people who hadn’t been yet born at the time when the original film was made. It seems an easy cash cow.

So these days, chances are one in a thousandth that a movie executive will take the risk with a complete unknown in the talent department, with the potential of becoming a major hit if it’s managed properly. Yes, it’s exactly the same as when you overlook my books, not desiring to risk $10 in one of my paperbacks … Now… if you’re not willing to risk $10 (or $2.99 per e-book, for that matter)… why would a Hollywood mogul risk 100 million bucks on a brand new, original potentially franchise-generating movie?

So we’re stuck with remakes of old successful movies. Horror and no-horror ones.

Blame yourselves.

BTW… most of these glorious movie reboots were phenomenally great risks at their time.

That’s what made them so great the first time around. Just food for thought, folks.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Introducing “Xaman” now in preorder… And TKD #3 Pt.1 FREE !

Who's Xaman?

Who’s Xaman?

Rachael Monroe was slowly ascending a small rise, using a seldom-used jungle trail. She was moving quickly, ignoring the weight of the bulky rucksack strapped to her back. She wore khaki shorts and a matching blouse. Her feet were shod in heavy hiking boots. Her long blonde hair was bunched up in a rather severe ponytail tied at the back of her head. As she crested the hill, she pushed a web-covered branch aside for a better view of the vale that was now stretched at her feet. Some loose, sticky strands of the spider web had fastened on Rachael’s forearm. She tried to brush them away, but only managed to clot them into little gluey lumps against her skin.She made a small, disgusted grimace as she individually picked off each one of the lumps with the fingers of her free hand. Rachael wasn’t the sort of woman who would freak out in the face of such minor inconveniencies. She was only in her late twenties, but she had already covered more than half the span of the globe: the entirety of Europe, most of the Far East, and a very risky photography stint in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Last year, she had gone to the frozen wastelands in Patagonia.

She was a tough young woman who had seen a lot, and just a few sticky spider strands wouldn’t deter her from achieving her goals. Of course, she had a few personal phobias against a small, select group of wild critters, but fortunately spiders weren’t amongst them. When Rachael finally managed to get rid of the last clotted strand, she focused her attention on the view in front of her.

Devil’s Vale.

Thus begins Xaman, my latest book. It is a collaboration with Simone Beaudelaire, a very talented romance writer. It’s available at Amazon’s Kindle Store in its preorder phase (it will ship on September the 6th) and it has the introductory price of $2.99 (after the launch week, we’re planning to raise the price to $3.99).

Xaman started life one day as many other books do: ideas were expressed, then tossed into a had and stirred a bit. When the results began to show the promise of something interesting, Simone and I put the whole mix inside a blender and hit the frappe button. Personally, I still cani’t believe that I had been talked into writing a paranormal romance. LoL. And let me tell you, it was a very exciting experience.

The premise behind the book is quite simple:

In the jungles of Belize, an ancient power lurks, and American grad student Rachael Monroe is about to come face to face with it. But is it a monster from a long-dead culture, or something far more dangerous? And who is Xaman, the mysterious local man Rachael finds so inexplicably fascinating?

Seeking answers to these questions will lead Rachael deeper into the heart of a centuries-old mystery that might reveal to her a love that can surpass even death… or her own gruesome end.

Want to know more? Well, you’ll have to grab yourself a copy… It will be worth your money 😉

BTW: Attack of The Hackman! Will be a free download for the Kindle from Thursday through Sunday during this week.


Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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A First Chapter….

What follows is the first chapter of my upcoming book Attack of The Hackman!, the third book of my The Karaoke Duo Series. The first installment is already available for 99 cents as an Amazon’s Kindle download at this link. Stay tuned for updates about the days when it will be available as a free download. Read On!


Attack of The Hackman! (Duh!)

Attack of The Hackman! (Duh!)

Sheila Freemont-Strongbox was profoundly asleep when the discomfort in her taut belly woke her up, very late at night. Oddly, she was lying on her back; which was pretty unusual for a pregnant woman that is expecting triplets. This was the most probable reason that had caused her to wake up. Edward Strongbox, her husband, was lying next to her in the double bed they shared. He was snoring softly. Both Sheila and Edward were the civilian identities of Fermata Girl and The Man With The Mike, also known as the Karaoke Duo, a.k.a. those $#%@&!!! superheroes, according to Nosfort’s Chief of Police, Aloysius McGillicuddy.

Sheila and Edward were recently married; she could barely believe that their wedding had happened just four months ago! Edward snored a little more loudly, which caused her to come back to earth with a crash. Sheila was twenty-six years old, going on to twenty-seven in another eleven weeks. Her age had been the cause of a lot of gossip in their wedding reception, especially considering her small circle of friends. How could such a nice, talented, young woman like her marry a fumbling slob like Edward Strongbox, who was twenty-one years her senior? For Edward forty-seventh birthday was going to happen next week, which was a Capital Sin among Sheila’s twentysomething friends.

What the hell did she see in him?

Well, Sheila loved Edward because he was nice, thoughtful and a very good man in spite of all his obvious defects and his inherent clumsiness. If her friends weren’t able to see those qualities, it was their loss. As husbands generally go, she got herself a great catch.

Sheila tried to turn around to lie on her side, but the tautness in her belly prevented it. Then she remembered; she was approximately six-months pregnant. Of three baby girls, nonetheless—which caused her midriff look as if the Badyear blimp had decided to take residence in her belly. This was one of the few facets of expecting a baby—no, three babies!—that she really didn’t enjoy much. Sheila preferred to sleep face down, lying on her stomach. She hadn’t been able to assume her favorite sleeping position since the beginning of the second quarter of her pregnancy, choosing to sleep on her right side instead. At least that’s what she hoped for; her dates were a bit off in that aspect.

She couldn’t really calculate the exact moment when her daughters had been conceived; Edward and her had been quite active in the sex department when it happened, and, well, to be frank, Sheila wasn’t occupying her body at that precise moment.

Don’t ask.

There was another small nagging thing that was troubling her: none of her baby girls had shown any sign of the prenatal activity mentioned in all the books she had read on the subject. No tiny kicks. No sensation that they were shifting places. Sheila’s obstetrician told her not to worry, doing a half-assed job at assuaging her fears—her little girls were fine and were healthy, although they were unusually quiet ones.

Edward snored some more.

Well, there was nothing she could do to fix the problem about the incredible mass of her abdomen. That matter would resolve itself in due course; she estimated the delivery of her three babies would occur sometime around the date of her own birthday, maybe a week before or after she became twenty-seven. But she could fix the issue of Edward’s snoring. She kicked him.

Her husband mumbled something under his breath and turned around to sleep on his right side, facing away from her.

Blessed silence.

Only the soft purring sound of the alarm clock sitting on the nightstand next to her broke the silence of the night. Sheila sighed and closed her eyes, ready to go back to sleep.

She tried to turn over and lie on her right side, a sleeping position that still felt unnatural even after three months of using it. This time, however, she found that she couldn’t assume it. There was something odd in the tension present in her midsection, preventing her body from achieving this small goal. She could feel her spine arching slightly, as if this force were pulling her whole body upwards

Alarmed, Sheila reached for her night lamp. In her hurry to turn it on, her hand struck the alarm clock, causing the appliance to fall from the nightstand. It didn’t hit the floor; it dangled from its electric cord, gently swaying back and forth as it made a soft, scraping sound against the paneled wood of the piece of furniture.

Sheila blinked in the sudden light that flooded the bedroom. What she saw was far from soothing: a small bulge the size of very large grapefruit was showing on the right side of her abdomen. A horrible succession of images—from all those horror movies that Edward seemed so fond of—assaulted her. The alien creature that burst from someone else’s stomach; the tied up girl in that Yecchorxist movie; any movie with that Mandona singer in it (who the hell told her she could act?!?)

Sheila’s arched back was indeed hovering about six inches above the mattress, while her shoulders and lower hips were comfortably resting on it. It was as if…

“Edward!” she cried. But her exclamation was filled with joy instead of fear. One of her unborn daughters was levitating while still inside the womb! “Edward! Honey! You must watch this!”

Edward woke up from his slumber. He turned his head, blinking owlishly while he mumbled something. His eyes opened wide when he saw what was happening at his back.

“Whoa!” he yelled as he whirled violently on his side of the bed. A loud thump! followed; in his surprise, he had fallen off the bed’s edge. Edward was soon on his feet, staring dumbfounded at his wife’s floating belly.

“Come, honey! It won’t bite you!” she said, urging him to draw closer. She placed both hands around the protruding bulge. She presumed it was the head of one of her little girls. Sheila felt the vibration of a faint humming reverberate directly under the palms of her hands. The baby girl was singing! Oh, this was even better than a small baby kick! “Come and feel it!”

Edward climbed back onto the bed, crawling cautiously toward her wife. His eyes were full of awe. He caressed his chin; his unshaven, overnight bristles made a scratchy sound that seemed to fill the entire bedroom. Sheila was smiling with joy.

He placed his right hand next to Sheila’s fingers. He grinned when he felt the small thrumming sound that seemed to originate directly beneath the skin of her belly.

“Hush, little girl,” Sheila whispered softly. “You certainly have impressed us tonight. But you better let your Momma sleep.” She sang a small ditty, using her own superpowers. The song was one she reserved to make people drowsy in her presence. “I wonder what kind of surprises your two sisters have in store for us in the future.”

The tiny song subsided. Sheila could feel the small one inside her abdomen release a yawn, right before the restless baby made a rollover. Then the bulge began to decrease; Sheila’s belly began to lower, the same as her spine. Everything was returning to normalcy.

Well, what stands for normal in the Karaoke Duo’s household.

Husband and wife remained with their hands on Sheila’s distended belly for another five minutes. Their eyes shone brightly. They had shared a great moment.

Then Edward went to the kitchen for a glass of warm milk. He returned a minute later, with the milk thoughtfully nuked in their microwave oven for just thirty-seconds, exactly as his little missus liked it.

Sheila drank the milk. When she was ready to show her appreciation for her husband’s gesture, she discovered that he already had crawled back into bed and covered himself with the blankets. Only the top of his head showed from beneath the bedspread.

Ah, well. Sheila sighed as she placed the empty glass on her nightstand. She reached out to fish the dangling alarm clock by its electric cord and put it back to its original spot.

Click. The night lamp went off and the bedroom darkened.

Sheila went back to sleep, wondering what the future would bring them.


Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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A Self-Squeezing Parable

Once upon a time existed a fine group of Orange Juice Manufacturers, called the Big Juicers; they were six and they prized themselves of offering the Orange Juice Drinking Public only the best of the best that the Orange Juice Market could offer. This reputation had firm grounds to root in, as they only accepted for their manufacturing process the best crops that a select few Orange Farmers grew for them. Even so, every writer… erm… Orange Farmer that provided them with oranges had to have their fine products closely scrutinized for flaws and typos… ahem! Scratch that!… bugs. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Everything was nice and fine, the Big Six Juicers were idolized by the Orange Juice Drinkers, and they were so important that every Orange Farmer out there thought they had only made it in life when a crate of their hard-worked for products was finally accepted for sale with a big fat advance (and a seven and a half royalty check by the end of each quarter). Life was fine; Orange Farmers managed to sell a few of their Orange Crates: some just a couple of thousands of them… others (most of the Farmers) could sell ten to twenty thousand crates. Not much, but they could squeeze (pun definitely intended) a living out of their work. There were a few Orange Farmers like Steven Queen, who could sell a few million crates of his horrible oranges, but he was more like the exception to the rule.

One day a certain British lady came up with a brand of orange that caught the Big Juices with their pants down. Of course, like many other Orange Farmers before, she was rejected plenty of times before finally being accepted for publis… err… squeezing her fruits to make juice (now… why does that sound even worse and lewd?)

One of the Big Juicers took the risk with the lady’s oranges and, wouldn’t you know it, the juice that came out was a wild success among the Orange Juice Drinkers. Her oranges were so popular that the Big Juicer who took the chance saw his investment rewarded by big gains (the movie rights about the lady’s oranges were staggering high, by the way).

Problem is, the Big Juicers got greedy after that. They only began to accept oranges from new farmers who had the potential to sell gazillions of units from the word ‘go’. They even asked themselves: ‘Do this guy’s oranges taste like those from that lady’s oranges? Can we envision a line of easily breakable toys in the future?’ Well, yeah, they occasionally let some little guy in, especially if he or she looked as if he or she could sell more than one hundred thousand crates, but now it looked more as though they were making him or her a big favor instead of a business transaction.

The little guys who now couldn’t make it, simply because their Orange Crates couldn’t sell in the range of millions, went temporarily into a corner and grumble about their fate.

Then another big event happened, some guy known as Geoffrey Bozo, who ran one of the largest Orange Juice Distributor companies (and who consistently sold gazillion of Orange Juice Glasses coming from the Six Juicers every month) came up with a brilliant idea: how to electronically sell the Orange Juice without actually having to squeeze the Orange!

Yeah, that might sound crazy, but it’s the sort of idea that comes out from a man who names his company after the Aar River, so it will show up first on Google searches.

This was achieved by means of a little device called the Sparky; it could be easily held in one hand and it allowed you to experience the same, well, experience as drinking a real Orange Juice Glass. You felt refreshed and it left you with a tangy aftertaste in your mouth, but it was an electronic virtual experience. No need to move Orange Crates physically about. The era of the E-Orange Juice Glass had dawned.

By now, the Big Juicers were so used to their little corner of the world that they began to fear change. They shunned Bozo’s creation, paying little heed to it. But Bozo was quite a businessman; he offered his device, the Sparky, to all the little guys out there that couldn’t offer their oranges because they wouldn’t sell by the millions. Now they could reach the Orange Juice Drinker audience… directly! YAAAY!

This new form of business, which we will call the Self-Squeezing Orange business as to call it someway, became a wild success. Bozo was happy, the little Indie Orange Farmers were happy… everyone was happy with it, except the Big Juicers (which had become only five due to some terrible mismanagement). Reluctantly, the Big Juicers decided to jump into the bandwagon. But they made a nasty decision. They decided to sell the Orange Juice the Bozo’s Way, but they made the Virtual Orange Juice pricier than its physical counterpart.

“But… but… you’re only selling the experience without actually moving the Oranges,” a bewildered Bozo would exclaim, along with the irate Orange Juice Drinking audience. “The Virtual Orange Juice ought to be cheaper than the real thing! That’s insane!”

The Big Juicers were adamant; they would only sell their Orange Juice the virtual way if they gained more money than in the old-fashioned way. Bozo and his company Aar River, went as far as going to court to prevent Haatchoot! (yeah, I know it sounds like someone sneezing, but that’s all I could come up with on such short notice), a little branch of the Big Juicers from selling its Virtual Oranges at a higher price.

Well, that didn’t really go well, and then the Big Juicers organized a boycott against poor Bozo and his company, so they could teach him a lesson.

How do you think this little tale will end?

Disclaimer: Yeah, I know I should have put this at the top of the post, but it would have killed the parable effect: Any resemblance of this post to the publishing industry out there is the product of your own deranged imagination.

Edwin Stark
Signing Off

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An Update to my ‘Crossed Wires’ post…

Ah, well, an interesting development happened since I published my ‘Crossed Wires’ post the other day. A positive one, which must be a first on this blog. The lady in question responded (almost immediately) to this post, stating that I wasn’t imagining things after all. She was indeed flirting with me. She seemed delighted with my post, as if it were some sort of green-light signal she had been waiting for some time.

So, we started talking things out and, while we still have a long road to travel before we reach the ‘sign thingy’ stage, we agreed to get to know each other on a more personal level.

Both of us have delicate situations that must be resolved before we get to manage a face-to-face encounter (mine being stuck in a backward country that’s crumbling like a wet paper supermarket bag… and hers of a more personal nature… plus at least 5000 miles between the two of us), but I suspect (and hope) everything will end up nicely.

Meanwhile, getting to know her, by the slow process of meeting her online, will be time well spent; we have developed a sort of ‘Harry-met-Sally’ state of affairs so far, which I consider a good augur at this point.

It could have been more of a ‘Tango & Cash’ sort of relationship, you know. 😛

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Life in The Jungle: Crossed Wires

Edwin StarkFor some time now, I’ve been exchanging several messages with a certain female writer for professional reasons.

She has openly admitted that she had been flirting with me online, but my lack of response seems to baffle her.

During the course of our multiple messages exchange, she sent me several winks, hugs and little heart things. After a while, she even complained a bit about my failure to notice her little online advances.

Well, I certainly noticed. She’s a very smart woman, quite pretty and talented. I find her very attractive and I would really need to be dead as a nail as not to notice.

The issue here is that the last time I played this particular game I got myself in a very nasty mess and ended with a broken heart. You see, after so many years of rejection, I’m unused to the task of trying to interpret the signals that any female may be sending my way.

I usually botch the job, you know.

Since I always misinterpret all those little, silly signals, I prefer to be told in simple words what is wanted from me… something no sane human female would ever do. Oh, God… I just wished life were a little more simple, without all these silly social games.

It’s just I’m socially dumb when it comes to these matters.

I guess that even if a woman ever decided to dance naked in front of me (with a sign hung to her neck which read: “I want to screw Edwin Stark’s brains out!”), I’d probably misinterpret her intent and believe she’s more interested in trying to sell me life insurance.

(Which happened to me one time, proving once more that life is weirder than fiction).

So, for the sake of our professional friendship, I’ve chosen to fail to react.

I just hope that I have chosen correctly this time. It would be a real shame if it were otherwise.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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The end of my PC Woes? Maybe…

Geee... that keyboard must have been smoking hot...

Geee… that keyboard must have been smoking hot…

First, some background history. Eighteen months ago, my notebook PC began to fall apart. The sum of its years and a constant daily use putting out 10,000 words each day began to take its toll… and the keys were practically ungluing themselves… (See picture). Also, most of their pressure contacts were going dead.I tried to explain this to a few of my writer colleagues, but besides getting “I would go crazy if I were you!” comments, there was nothing else. One would think there would be a certain degree of professional commiseration, but…

I got a couple of offers to send me a used keyboard (electronics have steep prices down here) there was nothing much else. However, I had already keyboards up my wazoo… three or four old PS/2 ones lying around the house… Even if they sent me an USB keyboard, I had enough stuff cluttering the place. Also. The custom taxes on electronics would have killed me, too. Not the most optimal solution, mind you.

Fortunately, some of my real online friends were smart enough to chip in for a brand new PS/2 to USB converter (just $14.95 at the time) in the form of Amazon Gift Cards or by buying a few of my e-books through Smashwords, which wouldn’t break no ones’ bank. I just had to plug it into the computer, chain one of my ancient keyboards through the gadget and Voila! I was back to work, being able to finish my The Karaoke Duo Vs the Karaoke Zombies book without any extra hassle than having to have an additional keyboard sitting on my lap the whole time.

A couple of months later, the hard disk died. But it wasn’t a physical death; the Operating System committed suicide, making it next to impossible to use the computer. Eventually, I managed to recover all relevant files out of that disk… but I was without an operating system to reset the computer. Couldn’t do a system recovery; the morons inhabiting this %$#! country have the charming notion of opening the boxes in which computers are shipped in and steal out vital components to sell them separately. Someone had removed the system recovery disks, a detail I noted the moment I bought this PC. There’s nothing that can be done about it; don’t want a crippled PC? Fine with us, don’t buy it… NEXT CUSTOMER, PLEASE!. I once bought an Epson scanner; as usual it didn’t come with scanning software… the salesman offered me to sell me a copy at three times the original cost of the scanner (I downloaded the required software that same night from Compuserve for FREE!… imagine that.) BTW… a $200 Netbook PC can come to be street valued at $3500, even during a good day in the Black Market.

So I had to live without a computer for nearly a year (again, barely any sympathy from my fellow writer friends, who thought I was joking), resorting to my cell phone to type these blog posts and most of my last novel, Fermata Girl.

Now, something has happened… Someone I know is moving out of the country, scouting for a job offer in the Good Ole United States. He has figured out it would be Hell Time trying to carry his PC with him on the plane (which is true down here in the Mighty Kingdom of Aleveznue; they would practically have stripped the poor machine into its component parts just to ensure there isn’t any drugs or explosives being smuggled out inside it) and he decided to leave his computer behind… choosing yours truly to take care of the silly little thing. So I’m basically (temporarily) using a little-bit-outdated computer to write this.

I sincerely hope this guy achieve his goal of getting a job outside of this hellhole of a country. I wish it wholeheartedly… for two very distinct reasons: the first one: that he’s able to escape this mess…and the second one is a little more selfish: he’ll be capable to buy a brand new computer, ten times better than this one, with his first paycheck.

Maybe he’ll forget all about this one, so I can keep using it. Meanwhile, I’m back from the Stone Age, albeit on a possible temporary basis.

You’ll never get to know how much I missed using a working computer.

Tears are rolling down my cheeks as I write this


Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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