Friday, October 28, 2011

Munk on Sabbatical

"Piss on the fire, call in the dogs, head it on back to Bowlegs."

Munk needs to focus less on blogging and more on noveling. This post, therefore, is the last you will see posted on my blog for what may be a very long time, years even.

Yes, of course I will miss your comments. And yes, of course I care. I will try to stop by your places from time to time, I promise. Please stop looking at me that way, yer breakin' my heart. I just can’t keep blogging right now guys, my family and work justifiably take the lion’s share of my time, and the truth is, Booker is in trouble—he needs me.
So, here’s the deal, should you wish to converse, and/or share critiques on queries or manuscripts, email me at I would love to hear from you. For any new visitors… here are a few popular bygone posts…
Sweet Munk Nothings
Emperius Rapturius
Damn that Munk
Munk Rules

If anyone asks, tell them I’m writing.

Munk’s opening line…
By turning the page, he had turned on the world.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

Music: The Nerny-Nerny-Nert-Band: Bowlegs
Munk out.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hey Baby, What's your Genre?

What is your genre? What is your line?
Fiction and diction, coarse or divine?
Commercial for fun or classical prose?
The Code of Da Vinci or Name of the Rose?

Vampires you say! Why not call it romance?
Where zombies and werewolves all come to the dance
Dramedy, comedy, horror, and gore
Mystery, history, tales of yore

Yoga, Pilates, organics, and health
Follow my teachings and find instant wealth
Home repair? Don’t despair, fixed in a jiff
I’ll write you a book about making it stiff

Fantasy’s fun... but don’t write on a lark
You first must decide if it’s light or it’s dark
For lollipop-fairies might get quite a start
From leprechauns dining on unicorn heart

Pay homage to comics; no longer cartoons,
with mutants and heroes and high school buffoons
Now graphical novels sell fine-art with type...
Is the art any finer or is it just hype?

I once knew a bloke, who called sci-fi a joke
And said later Han Solo was his kind of folk
And what of the man who “pays thrillers no mind”
But thinks Lisbeth Salander is so very fine?

By now you must know my tastes are diverse
It’s less about subject and more about verse
I can cozy with spies or golems or ghouls
As long as the teller sticks to some rules

Character, plotting, and scenes are a must
As are pace and the voice of an author I trust
And though some may define me a maudlin mope
I just can’t do themes with no glimmer of hope

So write genres you love, and love what you write
Mix 'em and match 'em, let stories take flight
Throw three in a blender and give 'em a spin…
an epic-gay-western with magic thrown in?

Munk’s Opening line,
With the brim of his ten-gallon Stetson pulled low on his brow, Jake’s blue eyes glistened in the residual silver light—a mumbled incantation and the deed was done.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk 

And lest you consider what I write poetry...
This week’s music: Joe old soul in a new vessel... Hymn 101

Friday, October 14, 2011


I am willing to do most anything in pursuit of a noveling career: writing, reading, reviewing, revising, kissing ass, querying, blogging, tweeting, social networking, anti-social networking, white-lying, dark-magicking, or simply munkeying around, I’ll do anything short of bold face lying, stepping on my fellows, or sacrificing my family’s needs.

I am dedicated to having a writing career: I therefore write, read, review and revise my work while blogging and tweeting to build a platform and never losing sight of my family's needs.

In order to create a better experience for my readers, I write, read, review, and revise my work. Blogging and tweeting are also important. As always, my family comes first.

I am willing to do what it takes in pursuit of becoming a better writer, husband, and father.                                                                                                      I'll try to blog

Compelling stories, compelling lies. I love my family.                                            blog 

Create the unforgettable. Love thy family.                                                                    blah
Love thy family, love thy writing.

Love thy passions.

There... that’s better. 

What are your priorities?

Munk's opening line
PhotobucketThe depths to which Lucifer fell, 
can no more be judged by meters or miles, 
than his hell can be measured by mercury's rise.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

Susan Kaye Quinn gave me a nod this week and here's a hearty nod back... she has a book release planned for November 1... Open Minds is the first title in the Mindjack Trilogy... I'm ordering one. Are you?

This week: rock as it was meant to be rolled.
Bob Seger, Get Out of Denver (Baby Go)
Up walked a Baptist preachin' southern funky school teacher... (I think)

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I have recently lectured on details and place
So today I submit a treatise on pace
Your stories may ebb and your stories may flow
But how do you tell when to rush or go slow?

Cadence depends on your goals for a scene
Such as hatred or passion or  feelings between
Shorten your phrasing for action and fights
But shake out Roget’s for fanciful flights, of love… of love… of wonderful, lovingful, chummingful love…

Go charging ahead with hard-rocking words
Like rockets and rackets and thundering herds
Then slow with the gentle of feathers and fluff
With kisses, caresses, and mushyful stuff

This poem may be poor, but you shouldn’t be sore
Based on the price that you paid at the door
Something for nothing is something said I
And it far exceeds herpes or a stye in your eye

What's your cadence?

Munk’s run-on opening line,
After changing his name to Jack, Jake married Jill, but Jill ended up liking Jake better so she divorced him, Jack that is. 
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

Did everyone read Suze’s post regarding rejection over at Analog Breakfast this week? Loved it.
This week's music Nancy Sinatra--These Boots are Made for Walkin'
You keep lying when you ought'a be truthin' 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Life Sentence

I was at the gym on Monday. I was going big and not going home, pumping iron, tossing weights, maxing out, gettin’ ripped, and building mass… well I was at least drinking my electrolytes and watching other folks do all that when the DJ came on the radio and called me out. He spoke to my soul.

A retro-DJ with no relation whatsoever
to the DJ in my story.
“Yesterday,” he said in his radio voice, “was 911 and I had a few hours for reflection as a good friend of mine died last week and I attended his funeral. I stood in the sun and considered all of the wonderful things said about the man. How he was gracious and giving, and how he’d be missed. I asked myself then,”—the DJ went on—“as I ask myself now… why do we wait? Why don’t we tell people how we feel about them today, rather than wait until they are gone? For you folks listening, go tell someone how much you appreciate them today. Tell them how you value their friendship. Tell them you love them. It is important that we say these things when we feel them, so don’t hesitate. Go do it now… or not, if you don’t want to.”
Or not, if I don’t want to?! …What the hell? No, no, no Mr. DJ man, no! You just dropped your conviction on the way to your point. You had me. I was poised and ready to go hug a big sweaty workout buddy when your conviction just up and lost its balls.

Imagine the hangover if JK Rowling’s grand plan of “love conquers all” cruised into the wrong bar and got all staggery-drunk on magic? Or if Dorothy and the Tin Man and the Lion and the Scarecrow learned that to find their respective home, heart, courage, and brains, they just need apply for a VISA gold card (because everyone knows that The Emerald City doesn’t take American Express)?

C’mon folks, all of you DJs and writers and anyone else with a story… get yourself convicted
How is your conviction going?

Munk’s opening line…
Upon careful examination of the ape’s dead caterpillar, Mynce knew the real culprit was a small, left-handed child, three to four inches in height, and proficient with mint-waxed dental floss.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

Today’s music is dedicated to TJ Riles and Jayne, both of whom I expect are future (or current) fans of the Avett Brothers, I am not choosing the most accessible cut from the bro’s Emotionalism CD, but I love this song because of its breadth, its banjo (yes Jayne, the banjo takes stage-center), and its obvious pop leanings (think Pet Sounds gone Americana). God only knows… Paranoia In B Flat Major. 


Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Devil in the Details

Last week I discussed my love for “place”. This week I will discuss my love for details, which in turn, adds to place and often teaches me new things. Trivial things sometimes, but interesting to me. I love learning. I love reason. In a nerdy way facts connect me to the universe. Jon Krakauer knows climbing, Herman Wouk is a military geek, and Laura Hillenbrand loves horses… and it shows. I can see, feel, and smell their worlds and characters.

"I’d gained nearly seven hundred feet of altitude since stepping off the hanging glacier, all of it on crampon front points and the picks of my axes. The ribbon of frozen meltwater had ended three hundred feet up and was followed by a crumbly armor of frost feathers."  Jon Krakauer, describing his ascent of The Devil’s Thumb in Alaska from, Into the Wild. (Meltwater and frost feathers? Are those his own word combinations? Bully, bully, Mr. Krakauer) 

"Charles Howard had the feeling of a giant onrushing machine: You had to either climb on or leap out of the way. He would sweep into a room, working a cigarette in his fingers, and people would trail him like pilot fish. They couldn’t help themselves. Fifty-eight years old in 1935, Howard was a tall, glowing man in a big suit and a very big Buick."  Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit. (Note that among all of these descriptors, somehow Ms. Hillenbrand is able to "tell" us that "They couldn’t help themselves" and yet it comes off looking like a "show". Get it?)

"The focus of Willie’s mind widened beyond the plank now and took in the quarterdeck of the Caine. It was a place of noise, dirt, bad smells, and thuglike strangers. Half a dozen sailors were clanking at the rusty deck with metal scrapers. Other sailors were walking past, cursing under crates of cabbages on their backs. One man in a welding mask was burning a bulkhead with a crackling sour-smelling blue flame. All around were patches of new gray paint, patches of old gray paint, patches of green prime coat, and patches of rust. A tangle of snaky hoses, red black, green, yellow, brown, lay all over the deck. The deck was covered with orange peel, fragments of magazines and old rags. Most of the sailors were half naked and wore fantastic beards and haircuts. Oaths, blasphemies, and on recurring four-letter word filled the air like fog." …  Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny. (If you haven't smelled The Caine Mutiny, it's time for you to do so. Don't be put off by the length of description here, the book is a character piece and in this scene Willie is entering his new world, much to his chagrin.)

Munk's opening line:
The boat was powered by the souls of frogs.
Discuss, Munk

Please fall into this week's music... Fishing Blues by Taj Mahal, it's like one last breath of summer.

And thanks go out to TJ Riles... for being cool. Go GB. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011


After receiving a few more positive commentaries on Syntropy I was struck again as to why I love books and movies. It’s the same reason I love life. To quote the good doctor, “Oh the places you’ll go!

I love new worlds, brave or otherwise. Books or movies without a sense of place often leave me cold. I recently read The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton and was left chilled to the unmemorable bone.
The books and characters I love all have a sense of place: Scout has Maycomb, Billy has the Ozarks, Muad’—“my name is a killing word”—Dib has Arrakis, Augustus has his little grove of pecan trees down by the creek where he and Clara used to spend time together, Harry has Hogwarts, and Booker has the Muddy Joe river bottoms. For me to find a book truly engaging, I have to fall into the pages and want to stay. When I was in the Ozark’s with Billy Colman I didn’t simply fall in love with two dogs, I fell in love with barefoot summers and patched overalls.  
Further, I believe that building a clear sense of place serves more purpose than simply creating a world for the reader to enter. I believe it promotes story telling. In the interest of time I will share just one example. Assuming you have read and own the Harry Potter series, grab your copy of The Order of the Phoenix and turn to page 609. Near the bottom of the page Harry is pulled into Dumbledore’s office by the utterly detestable Madam Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge and an ad hoc trial breaks out, complete with a jury of talking portraits. I often think of this scene because I remember being amazed by the density and deftness of the ensuing action. For the next thirteen spellbinding pages Ms. Rowling treats us to a view into a pseudo-courtroom populated by no less than ten unique voices and at least sixteen total character references, not to mention the numerous spells, jinxes, charms, and Phoenixes flying about. And then there is Harry himself, who all the while is sharing with us his thoughts and suspicions while simultaneously having a non-verbal conversation with Dumbledore on the side. My point… the swiftness and lucidity of this scene would not have been possible had JKR not first built a world where this density of narrative was possible.

To sum: I appreciate it when an author takes the time to build an interesting world for two reasons: one, because I like going to new places; and two, because in the right hands a well built world can act like the rails of a roller coaster.
What keeps you on the edge of your seat?

Munk’s opening line:
The Palace of Fraelok was cracked in all the right places.
Munk’s opening line is yours to keep, use it.

This week's on-theme music: Ohio Players, Love Roller Coaster... say what?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Centripetal Notions

Every weekday morning I wake-up, shave, kiss and tickle my wife and kids, and ride my bike to work.
I work at a tech firm. You know the type, the huge multi-national conglomerate whose major stockholders and board of directors have become so focused on the distance between the first and last digits of their net-worth that they have forgotten the importance of the people and the technologies that allowed them the digits in the first place. The firm, whose board of directors spends their twenty working days a year nattering away in a price-per-share soap-opera determining the fate of thousands of people’s careers, while hiding behind terms like 'complimentary investments' and 'uncomplimentary divestitures'.... oops, sorry... I promised myself I wouldn’t go there, so I’m stopping this train. If you crave more anti-establishment rant, please head over to Tim Riley’s place and view Jon Stewart’s hilarious yet poignant take on the subject.

So, anyway, I work at a tech firm. I have technical chops. And, like the typical engineer, I am a nerd, a geek, a freak, and a really good dancer. One of the buzz-phrases we often use around the office is “Cycles of Learning” or “COLs”. COLs are the packets of time required to solve a problem. Most often a problem at work involves turning some idiot savant’s crazy idea into a useful device and the ensuing discussion focuses on shortening or reducing the number of COLs required to make the idea a reality. The number and length of COLs required for a problem depend, quite naturally, on the complexity of the problem and the number of resources assigned. Rather than bore you with the nuances of how the number of inventions required to solve a problem can be used to strike a healthy resource allocation, I’ll again stop the train and just say this: Writing a novel is a really, really hard problem and therefore (in my case) requires multiple, time consuming learning cycles.

So far, I believe every learning cycle (or Syntropy re-write) has been absolutely necessary, but I am nearing a dilemma—when do I stop? You see, science is easy, or at least the end point is. You either meet your constraints or you don’t. You rarely hear an electrical engineer asking her cube mate if he wouldn’t mind re-watching a light toggle on and off on a new circuit she designed. “Did you like it that time? How did it make you feel? What if I switched it on and off really fast? How about slow? Does it turn you on? Do you care about the light? Does it make you want to keep watching? What if I just hinted at turning it on?” No. Under normal circumstances in the tech world, on-is-on, off-is-off and that-is-that.
"It may be perpetual motion, but it will take forever to test it."
A confounding piece of the puzzle for me is that my re-writes come slowly. During my six-month re-write sojourns I know that I continue to grow as a writer and therefore once finished, I am compelled to start over.
And there you have it; my cycle of learning has become a perpetual motion machine.
What does your done-state look like?

Munk's opening line,
"Jim, your increasing tendencies toward centripetal acceleration have forced us to let you go."
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk
(A punchline without a toon is a sorrowful thing. Can someone please draw me a picture for this one?)

And finally, music this week: (after last week's comments I will spare you more Donner Party and stay on theme with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Perpetuum Mobile. Please listen, it just might make your day, and the next, and the next, and the next,...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Limits. Find Yours.

The scariest movie I ever saw.
The scariest movie I ever saw, was a made for television film chronicling the real-life homicide investigation of Sam Sheppard, a neurosurgeon on trial for the murder of his pregnant wife. He claimed a bushy-haired intruder had entered their home and done the killing. It was a brutal act. A blunt instrument was employed to violently pulverize the woman’s skull and spatter her brains on every wall of her bedroom.
From my memory, it wasn’t an exceptionally well done film, though I could hardly be the judge. I was eleven. I’d snuck out of bed and was hunched on the stairs, peering through the stair rails at the shimmering cathode ray tube in the far corner of our sunken family room. The backs of my parent’s unknowing heads were silhouetted against the television’s flickering light. The carpet was shag. The rails wrought iron.

I worried for the doctor, I worried for the intruder, I worried that my parents would turn and catch me watching. But what worried me the most had nothing to do with declared innocence or guilt. What worried me the most was that just like me, someone had fallen prey to an urge to do wrong, and wrong they had done.

Which movie scared you the most?

Munk's Opening line...
"Pam was hardly a name suitable for a murderer, so I changed it."
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

This week's music... Johnny Cash, The Man Comes Around.  

Oh... and anyone who has yet to meet Rebecca Kiel, should do so now. Her blog is well spoken, thoughtful and inspiring.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sweet Munk Nothings

On the heels of last week’s post about nothing, I’ve stepped it up and found something to write about. And it really is something... It makes the world go around, it lifts you up and it knocks you down. It can have you floating on air, or crushed by despair. You can feel it in your fingers; you can feel it in your toes. Yep… it’s LOVE.
Love is my something this week.
I did a quick search and found numerous sites about love, each with its own categorical definitions. One was content with just two categories: passion and compassion, another described three: Eros, Philos, and Agape, some defined as many as four or five or even six. But regardless of the number, all were firm with the limits of their categories. “That’s it, love defined,” they seem to say.
I see love and all of its variants as infinitely adaptable and therefore indefinable. Trying to define love is like trying to define literary genre, each variant squirms and strains against the trappings of classification.

Don’t believe me? Grab a few opinionated friends and try to classify this list without a debate.
In no particular order…
There’s puppy love and Courtney Love, unbidden and forbidden,
There’s sensual, consensual, unbridled, and once bitten,
There is fading love so bittersweet it tastes of melancholy,
And the crazy, stupid, crushing love that only leads to folly,
The obsessive and possessive loves, of tainted jealousy,
And the unrequited stinging love of ‘never meant to be’,
There’s timeless, endless, boundless love, and trysts that lead to scandal,
Cool, gentle, tender love, and love too hot to handle,
Ethereal, untellable, agape love divine,
The carefree-careless, summer love that ends before its time,
There’s gay love, straight love, and a mother’s love unguarded,
There’s funny love, a comic’s love, and that wasn’t me who farted,
Rivaling-reveling-sibling love ‘tween sister and a brother,
And the super freaky sort of love you don’t take home to mother,
But of passion or compassion or of tender loving care,
The best of love that I have found is that which I have shared.

Munk’s opening line.
On vacation by a lake, Munk had a second glass of wine and wrote a poem. No one had the good sense to stop him or help him with punctuation.
Munk’s opening line is yours to keep, use it.

This week’s music… Love is All Around, The Troggs--1967 
A very cool band with a very cool and early promo video.

I will have limited connectivity this week... my replies will be even more sporadic than usual.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Damn that Munk

This is a blog post about nothing. If you find nothing of interest in the following text, it’s because my goal this week is to provide you with a string of easily digestible words and phrases that may at first appear compelling, but in retrospect present no substantive value whatsoever. No value in the least.
To repeat, and stay with me here, there is nothing, not the slightest tidbit of information in these words that should be construed as interesting. Perhaps you continue to read because you are drawn by an inexplicable desire to find out if I am kidding, hoping that a punch line awaits. I can assure you it does not. There is nothing more to this blog than the opening sentence predicts—nothing. I am writing words, with the simple goal of writing words, nothing more, nothing less.
Some of you still reading must be asking yourselves, why? Why, after reading over-and-over again that nothing of value is to come, must I keep following along?  Perhaps you are searching between the lines for hidden metaphors or some higher purpose, for some scrap of sanity among the nonsense.
And I’m sure that by now there are several folks out there who after throwing their hands up in disgust have dropped out. “Damn that Munk,” I’ll bet they cursed, before stabbing their cursor on their browser’s BACK button, “he’s always playing around, doesn’t take nothin’ serious.”
Well, see-you-later… you impatient lot… bon voyage, and hit-the-road, because I was kidding. There IS something more to this week’s blog, something amazing, something so absolutely awe-inspiring, that those of you who have stuck around will be talking about it for weeks… or not.

Munk’s opening line…
My name is Camden and I would like to be part of you.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

This week's music:
Mazzy Star -- Fade Into You.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Scary Science

This week's blog contains one big pointer, an ice breaker, and an opening line.

Pointer--> I did a guest spot over at Tim Riley's digs... please mosey on over for a list of my favorite documentaries and add some of your own. The list is actually one of the more useful things I may have ever posted on a blog.

Ice Breaker-->
What is madness if not freedom? Gone are the days when people ask me questions expecting a logical response. Oh, but it doesn't keep them from asking. With their digital recorders sucking at my words and their digital fingers stabbing away at their digital keyboards... they ask and ask and ask, mouths flapping, tongues wagging. They ask.... Ronnie, what does the fire say when it speaks? Who's voice does it use? Are you alone when it talks? Ronnie, is it talking now?

This week's opening line:
There is good reason to fear science.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

And, this week's music... Did someone say Ska?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Punching Mary Sue

Today’s blog contains two full disclosures and six Mary Sues at no extra cost!
If you are not familiar with Mary Sues see Lydia Kang’s blog on the subject. From the comments at Lydia’s, I get the feeling that a Mary Sue character (one that has characteristics which you, for any number of reasons, find unique or attractive) is generally seen as a bad thing, but after I followed the link on Lydia’s blog, and took the Mary Sue test, I found that not only I "Mary Sue", but so do my favorite authors.

Do you love your characters? Do you get excited about creating a life? If you could, would you want to be one of them? I do, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. In my book, I Mary Sue all over myself, though you might be hard pressed to tell with which character I share the most in common.
Full disclosure 1: I’m not even sure I know which of my characters are most like me. All I do know is that I love hanging out with each-and-every-one of the ne'er-do-wells. I love messing with them as much as I love reading and just a little less than hanging out with my family. I hear some people, even writers, say that they HATE writing, or at least that they procrastinate to keep from writing (blogs come up a lot in these discussions). Not me. I might procrastinate a little, but it is not a significant time drain. Perhaps, it is that I get my fill of “real” people at work; engineers can be very exacting, it seems that they always have to be right… which is not really me either, I don’t have to be right all the time… I just happen to be so.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if writing was my job… would I learn to hate it, and would I then translate that hate to my characters? Without my engineering career as a surrogate punching bag, would I pound the humility out of my Mary Sues?
Full disclosure 2: that last sentence gave me an evil grin.

A quote for today: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” ~Carl Jung (Thanks to Matthew MacNish for posting this quote on his blog)

Munk’s opening line:
The distance between pleasure and pain is measured in the flesh of the participants.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

Music this week is from the vault of obscurity. Unless you spent time in Chicago in the seventies, odds are you've never heard this gem. If I am wrong, please prove me so. Alliotta-Haynes-Jeremiah, with Lake Shore Drive

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How Far Over The Top Do You Camp?

Question: How far over the top can one movie go?
Answer: Rent “Bubba Ho Tep” and find out.

Elvis is alive. He’s living out his last days in an East Texas care home. He is sick and the movie is too, way sick. Hide from the movie if you get queasy when people use the terms pustule and genitalia in the same sentence (like I just did, but worse).
The thing is, many years ago, Elvis (played by Bruce Campbell) switched places with an Elvis impersonator and missed his chance to switch back because he accidentally barbecued the contract. The real Elvis now shares a room with John F. Kennedy (played by Ossie Davis… yes that Ossie Davis) and together they must defend their care home from an Egyptian mummy, who is having a dandy-old time sucking the resident’s souls from their, well, from you know… back there.
All that, and yet I still recommend the movie, just leave the logical part of your brain on the shelf when you screen it.

I know, I know, if you are anything like me you are probably asking yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that? How could I have let that little gem of a plot slip through my hands?” Well, you did. Get over it. The question is, what are you gonna do now? I’m personally working up something with Jerry Lee Lewis and a Kraken, the working title: “Great Balls of the Leviathan”.

Munk’s opening line:
Eye’s like dinner plates, tentacles like sewer lines… goodness, gracious, the great balls of the leviathan.
Munk’s opening line is yours to keep, use it. Note: this week’s opener is so filled with wonk, that if someone actually uses it, they must share.

On a more deferential note, Mr. Peter Falk died this week. During his acting career he helped tell many a beautiful story. Remember him reading “The Princess Bride” in “The Princess Bride” to a very young Fred Savage? In another of my favorite films, “Wings of Desire” by Wim Wenders he portrayed an aging film star. The film contained one of my all-time favorite quotes: "But no one has so far succeeded in singing an epic of peace. What is wrong with peace, that its inspiration doesn't endure and that it is almost untellable?”

Okay, enough serious, here he is Jerry Lee, the prince of over the top with Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On, It’s worth watching if only for his hair acrobatics at around 0:36 seconds… wow.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Catharsis Consommé

Blog de jour: two subjects, one tag, one aphorism, and no rants.

Sujet une: today’s entry began simply enough, being that it is summer and the kids are out of school, I was considering how difficult it is to find time for all of the things I would like to do. I was doing well, tapping away at my keyboard, creating gleeful witticisms (thanks DUO), when something went suddenly and terribly wrong. Storm clouds of vitriol rolled across my Doppler radar feed. Before I knew it, I was ranting. My simple blog entry had become an manifesto touching on everything from the Butterfly Effect to the global consequences of our daily moral judgments. On I went, bashing through barriers of blogosphere decency, smashing the good intentions of well-intentioned intenders. I really made an illogical mess of things before I was through and as I sift through the rubble, trying to piece together what went wrong, I realize that recovery is still a ways off. Has this ever happened to you? Has an unknown need for catharsis ever consumed your blog?

Sujet deux: I enjoy building. I find all aspects of the work relaxing: the brainstorming, the drawing, and the physical-ing. I rarely find time to build anymore. I am writing. My dream life would have me writing for a living, building for fun, and hugging my family. The skies would be sunny except when it rained and people would stop killing each other, God damn it… You see, here is where things went wrong. This was the actual start to my original blog and as you can tell things devolved at a drastic pace.  I don’t think train wrecks happen this fast, but then I can’t tell for sure because those that I’ve seen have all been in slow motion. Now, rather than go into all of the conditions that led my train-of-thought into the canyon-of-angst, let me just finish what I started…My wife and I built a house (family and friends pitched in), since, I have added patios and decks and walkways and finished the basement and landscaped the yard and built a woodshed and… and, I miss it. I don’t just miss seeing the results, I miss doing the work: particularly during t-shirt weather. It’s what I gave up to write.  What do you give up to write?
Le Tag: Thanks again to D U Okonkwo, the gracious Londoner, for tagging me… DUO’s blog is overflowing with the joy of writing and can be found here:

L’aphorisme: following a quick sift through the rant, this is the only thing of value that I found… Acceptance is as powerful as righteous tyranny… and often less harmful.

Munk’s Opening Line:
The brown dwarf swung so nearly, I felt my mood change.
Munk’s opening line is yours to keep, use it.

This week’s music (I love the opening to this song…): One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer by George Thorogood and the Destroyers
 Eve’body funny… now you funny too.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crazy Change

Why I am, as a writer.

I’ve always counted my life experiences among my greatest assets.
I am not an Army, Navy nor any other type of institutionally defined brat, but I have moved, and moved often. Why my brattiness you ask?... purely my own design.

Before my fourteenth birthday my family and I had inhabited at least eight homes scattered over four states, Alabama, California, Oregon, Kansas, and then California, and Oregon again; couple that with required school moves and I was the definition of an adolescent nomad. After that, things stabilized, if only a bit. Four years in Newberg, Oregon led to two colleges, five stays in Alaska, two in Colorado and one in California before finally settling in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Perhaps my numerous transitions help me to write, I know they push me to write. I am a storyteller and am rarely without a new idea, though as I get older, I fear my muse will-wane (rhymes with... Lil-Wayne). My desire now is to write stories in a manner worth sharing. Any artist worth their sanity understands that taste plays a huge role in books chosen, so I realize my stories (anyone’s stories) can’t appeal to everyone. But I am desperate to develop the skills of plot hooks, character voice and scene pacing so that the task of writing, and thus the reading, becomes more fluid and more accessible.

I have thus logged three years on my first-novel-training-ground, and based on my past that’s a pretty long stay, but worth every second.

I just realized something. Perhaps writing is a way for me to recapture the excitement of moving, embracing the unknown as it were. I love my lush, Douglas Fir shaded valley, I love that my family is growing and learning and finds security in the familiar surroundings of a small town. The smell of the fresh cut grass the cool evening breezes... but sometimes, I just need to get away.

Someone once said... "The difference between an artist and a person that's crazy, is that the artist has a two way ticket and the crazy person only has a one-way."

How does your past impact your writing?

This week's opening line was submitted by (okay, perhaps "extracted" from) the prophetable bard... L.G. Smith.
"Get your damn finger off of the mouse, Munk."
Munk's (erm... LG's) "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk... note: no mice were injured during the writing of this blog.

This week's music: for you Cake lovers out there, this is a must see streetwise review video of Short Skirt/Long Jacket... love it. "She's trading her MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron." ...if she was a little more like the broad in this song...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Nova Jackson: Ejects!

For many of you, Jodi Chamberlain’s name is already familiar as the creator of the Syntropy trailer (the YouTube video off to the right there… the one showing Booker and Annabelle running in the cornfield… awesome). Well, Miss Jodi is as prolific as she is talented, in addition to her videos and fine art (click the link and then go to "paintings"... you might just fall in love), she has completed the first episode of a highly entertaining (okay, crazy-ass-fun) graphic novel series designed specifically for digital media, Nova Jackson: Ejects!

The trailer…
If you are interested in downloading a $2 copy… the link to the Barnes and Noble page is here.

But wait there’s more! The story of Jodi's career change, from office fodder to whatever she considers herself now, is worth a read as well, and is listed here at the Huffington Post (fun huh?). Just what drives this 5’2” sailor to do so much of what she does? Where I fret and sweat whether my work is good enough to share, she just knows hers is.

Munk’s opening line(s)…
Wallace set about doing the only thing he could think to do, and that was to lick the chocolate from Stacy's neck. There was a chance she was allergic, after all.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk 

This week's music "Lights Out" by DobleFlo (video by... you guessed it.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Emperius Rapturius

It seems millennia since I’ve written, but I’ve just been handed the greatest news. I am the new Head Chef at the Empire Flight Grill! That’s right; all the tuition and late nights at Sentient Services is finally paying off. Your daughter is on her way.

Head Chef is a Level 62 position in the fleet, which as you know means full tenure… FULL pension! Paulos is a little jealous he wasn’t chosen first, but he is happy for me (happy for us!), gosh, gosh, gosh, I love him.  The news couldn’t have come at a better time, with the baby on its way and all.  J

Oh, and can you believe the DS is finally working? It took them long enough. They tested it on some planet… Almaden, or Alderaan, maybe? I can’t remember… non-believers, anyway. The test put the lights out for almost five multi-counts, I nearly missed who got voted off Empire Idol and was beginning to think Paulos and I had chosen the wrong space station. But the schools here in The Sixteenth Suburb of Contentment remain at the top of the galaxy rankings. I just knew things would work out. They say we’re headed toward the Yavin system; I know I should have paid more attention in astography, but I can’t remember, is that anywhere near you? If so, maybe you could visit!

Love, Karaso XXOOXX

“The force doth twist on solar winds and bestows upon you freedom”- Lucos Plezant, Sith Lord Scholar. (Don’t you just LOVE this quote!)

6104 Starfox Way #3435
SoC 16  
The Death Star

Munk' opening line...
Truth is most often forged by the percentage of people who believe it so. 
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

Today's Music... Meco--Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band (get-the-funk-out-of-here)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Muzik, Muzik, Muzik

My musical tastes run as wide as the Mississippi in spring: classical, pop, bluegrass, heavy metal, jazz, rock, you name it, but I can't listen to music while I write. I drift into the sound, I cascade through the melodies, and lose focus on my words. I know I've written blogs on this subject before, but lately I've run across some great new music and joined a site called Jango, where big fun is to be had for the musically entwined.

Today's question: When you sing in the car, do you care that other drivers are watching?

Munk's Opening line (meant for a middle grade boy book)... 
No matter how you spin it, you can't win a fight with a girl.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

For today's music I present the jangly-spangle of Surf Nada, Their version of Bill Fox's Electrocution offers a wall of sound that would make this guy proud... 

Not that making this guy proud should be on the top of your to-do list, but extra points to the first person who can name him. I'll post Munk kisses on the blog of the first correct contestant.

And with no further ado... the buzz of Surf Nada, enjoy.

Thanks Tim.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Munk Rules! -An Off Cycle Blog Post-

Cheryl Klein of the Brooklyn Arden inspired me this morning. She, being quite principled herself, began a new section on her blog called "Other People's Principles." Her goal is to compile a list of lists. Apologies for the redundancies, but a principle list of listed principles is inherently redundant, unless of course you are Dr. Suess, at which point it becomes a Star Infested Pundonkey. Anyway, Ms. Klein has requested that any of her readers who feel up to it, write a list of principles on writing. So did I and so should you. Perhaps all of you "A to Z" bloggers can adopt a German accent and create "Zee" list for your Saturday post. Warning, seeing as I am unpublished, and have no real prospects, be wary of putting any of my principles into practice.  

Munk’s List on Writing
Regarding expectations: Write to reach someone, but not everyone.
Regarding conventions: Avoid the entrapments of genre, write a story.
Regarding details: Sweat the little stuff and the big stuff: words, sentences, punctuation, characters, plot, theme… all of it.
Regarding craft: Face your weaknesses. Never stop growing, but pace yourself. Opt for daily reflections over weeklong immersions, growth is time consuming and effortful.
Regarding reviews: Listen hardest to those whom you respect the most, but ignore the others at your peril (I wish I had an editor to instruct me on the proper use of ‘whom’).
Regarding age appropriateness: Write to your audience in theme only, avoid restricted vocabulary (except in character voice).
Regarding absolutism: Never follow a tip beginning with the word ‘never’ (yes, this means you Elmore). Break rules.
Regarding inspiration: Write with purpose or with joy, or both.
Regarding editors: Secure council that possesses passion and energy—and nothing to lose.                                         
Regarding lists: Make your own.

I am a big fan of Ms. Klein, aside from being a Potterologist (I’ll let you scour her website to understand that reference) and an editor for Arthur A. Levine, a Scholastic imprint, she spends much of her time helping people understand the craft of writing. I find her writing on writing pragmatic, value rich, and entertaining. She connects many of my free radical Zots.

Check her website, if you like what you see, I recommend you buy her book, Second Sight. I carry two books in my backpack when I write: hers and “Strunk and White”. 

Do you have a list?

Munk’s opening line,
I can’t be redundant; I’m the only one who knows how to fly the plane. 
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Road Tripper, Radio On!

I recently realized that many of my favorite reads are “road” books. My love for road books probably stems from my love for travel. I enjoy motion.

Some of my favorites:
Travels with Charlie—John Steinbeck
On the Road—Jack Kerouac
The Hobbit—J. R. R. Tolkien
Lonesome Dove—Larry McMurtry
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—Robert Pirsig (I can’t tell you how many years it has been since I read this book and yet I still debate with Phaedrus on road trips).

Books for experiential enhancement:
I often choose books to read on vacation based on where I am travelling. For example while trekking in Nepal I read Annapurna by Maurice Herzog… in a word: harrowing. While in the Cook Islands I read the Nordhoff and Hall trilogy: Mutiny on the Bounty, Men at Sea, and Pitcairn’s Island… in three words, egomania, ick, and megalomania. After being shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the arteries of a really important smart guy and submarining toward a deadly blood clot in his carotid artery, I read Fantastic Voyage… Okay, you caught me, I never read Fantastic Voyage. I would have, had I not been so busy fighting off white blood cells and helping Raquel Welch apply her mascara.

What are your favorite road books?  

Munk's opening line (the kids helped me write this one)...
Technology stole my grandmother’s underpants. 
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk
This week’s music:
Jonathon Richman and The Modern Lovers: Roadrunner 

Happy Birthday Audrey.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Connecting the Zots

Was sent an e-mail this week by a friend with whom I share the love of creation. She is also one of my few blogging friends that I actually know exists. I can testify that she has an analog version of herself to compliment her digital form. That is to say, we’ve met. We work together. Kat, the photographer (her digital self), can be found here: The analog version of Kat resides, for the moment, in Italy… gridare evviva! She’s finishing a two-year TDY with her family in Milan and finds time to share her passion for photography on the web. Love that.

In addition to being an inspired photo jockey, and cracker-jack engineer, Kat is a voracious reader (I was thrilled that she enjoyed an early version of Syntropy). As it happens, her current read is Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet.

Kat graciously sent me an e-mail as a follow up to my blog post of last week and I was floored, purely and magnificently—floored. Have you ever read something that so clearly speaks to your opinion it’s as if someone has climbed inside your head, extracted the appropriate bits, and arranged them better than you could ever hope to? Jon Krakauer and John Irving have connected the dots in my mind on occasion… and Vonnegut has as well (which, to be honest, scares me a little).

In regards to choosing the right word, the dear departed Ms. L’Engle says thus…

“I have a profound conviction that it is most dangerous to tamper with the word. I've been asked why it's wrong to provide the author of a pleasure book, a non-textbook, with a controlled-vocabulary list. First of all, to give an author a list of words and tell him to write a book for children using no word that is not on the list strikes me as blasphemy. What would have happened to Beatrix Potter if she had written in the time of controlled vocabulary? Lettuce has a soporific effect on Peter Rabbit. "Come come, Beatrix, that word is beyond a child's vocabulary." "But it's the right word, it's the only possible word." "Nonsense. You can't use soporific because it's outside the child's reading capacity. You can say that lettuce made Peter feel sleepy."

I shudder.

To give a writer a controlled-vocabulary list is manipulating both writer and reader. It keeps the child within his present capacity, on the bland assumption that growth is even and orderly and rational, instead of something that happens in great unexpected leaps and bounds. It ties the author down and takes away his creative freedom, and completely ignores the fact that the good writer will always limit himself. The simplest word is almost always the right word. I am convinced that Beatrix Potter used "soporific" because it was, it really and truly was, the only right word for lettuce at that moment.”

I swooned as she shredded the notion of “even and orderly” growth. I now have the book at my bedside. Ms. L’Engle surrounds the passage with further eloquence, but I believe the words above, the words Kat chose to share with me, provide a good summary.
Two questions:
1) Do you have writers that connect dots in your head?
2) Any comments regarding Ms. L’Engle’s philosophy on word choice?

Munk’s Opening line…
Never underestimate the reasoning ability of a three-year-old human.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

Music this week... probably not for everyone... but definitely for me. The Pixies, Subbacultcha (you know, when you grope for Luna)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

When Good Words Go Bad: A Case Study

Imagine you have just finished a comedy set at the Stork Club in 1946 and Sherman Billingsley greets you as you leave the stage. He’s really excited. He loved your set, and he says one of the following…

1) “You look smashing and your gags are to die for.”
2) “You killed out there tonight, you really slayed me.”
3) “You are so bad… you are the bomb.”
4) “You are so phat and dope and sick, you make me sick.”

In which scenarios do you smile and shake his hand?
In which scenarios do you slap him?
In which scenarios do you give him a great big wet kiss and yell, “Thanks dawg! Your club is the shit. I mean this joint is so totally ass, I want to burn it down!"?

This week's opening line... I'm thinking of it as a middle-grade novel, first-person narration...
Being invisible would be great, imagine all of the trouble you could stay out of.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

And now to music... from the movie "The Stork Club", I bring you, Betty Hutton, (I have to admit, I find this hilarious).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Speedonius Blogio Poemus

Searching for one I’d misplaced, I found a quote I’d all but erased,
Simple, succinct with down homey air, Harper Lee is a pillar of grace.

“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.” –Harper Lee

If you have a favorite quote or aphorism, please share.

Munk’s Opening line,
Her message was simple, but her voice, loud.
Munk's "Opening Line" is yours to keep, use it. Munk

A moral in a song. Mr. Marty Robbins (my favorite baritone) sings The Cowboy in the Continental Suit.

"We thought he must be crazy when he opened up the gate, standing just inside was fifteen hundred pounds of hate."