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Sunday, December 1, 2013


Corporate Slavery


Slavery is a nasty word, isn't it?  People think slavery was abolished in America years ago by President Abraham Lincoln.  The people who think that would be wrong.  There are still slavers out there.  Let's take a look at the word slave and what it means before we look at the slavers:
Slave:  A person under the domination of another person or some habit or influence.
That's one definition.  So you can be a slave if you're under the domination of another person.  I was a slave for a bit, but I finally freed myself.  Sometimes you simply don't want to be dominated anymore.  I was "working" for a casino called Luxor in Las Vegas.  Why did I consider myself a slave?  Because of the way I was treated.  I was never "asked" to do things, I was told.  Usually this entailed the phrase, "You do this, or you'll be fired and end up unemployed!"

In Elkhart, Indiana a man named Tony Rohr was manager of a Pizza Hut.  He refused to open the restaurant on Thanksgiving day, instead wanting his employees to spend the holiday with their families.  He was "told" to write a letter of resignation and quit his job, but refused.  Instead he wrote a letter trying to explain why he hadn't opened the restaurant.  It was only closed twice a year, on Thanksgiving and then again on Christmas.  How dare a slave refuse to quit!  He was then fired.  The franchise owner tried to claim that he had quit and wasn't actually fired.  The Pizza Hut corporate office said "We fully respect an employee's right to not work on a holiday, which is why the vast majority of Pizza Huts in America are closed on Thanksgiving.  As a result, we strongly recommended that the local franchisee reinstate the store manager and they have agreed. We look forward to them welcoming Tony back to the team."

But Tony doesn't want to go back to the "team".  He had worked for them for over ten years and that was how he was treated.  Is it any wonder he probably doesn't want his job back?  t wonder if the corporation would have made that statement if this story hadn't been such big news?  People called Tony a hero for standing up for what he believed in.  When he heard this, Tony said  "No, I'm just some guy who told his boss 'No' and got burned. There are people who save lives."

Back in December of 2012 while working for Luxor I was told that I had to attend a "show" during my day off.  If I chose not to attend this "show", I would be fired.  So I drove to the Las Vegas Strip and spent my day off going to this show.  Part of it was the president of the MGM corporation ranting on about how everyone who was working was damned lucky to be employed and if we expected to stay that way, we'd damned well better do what we were told!  I began getting the feeling back then that I was just another slave.

After finally after having enough of accusations and bullying by managers who treated me with that same "you do whatever I say or you'll be fired" attitude, I quit my job.  To be honest, it's a relief not having to put up with those kind of people for the moment.  I was told that the Luxor employees are again going to have to go to another "mandatory show" this year probably to again be told how lucky they are to be slaves…I mean employed.

When I resigned I had accrued two weeks of vacation time.  The casino refused to pay me for that.  They stated to me that I would be paid, but then didn't bother.  I guess that will really teach me, won't it?  It did teach me something though, that like Tony, even if they ever did offer me my job back I wouldn't take it.  I've learned that I don't want to work for somewhere that doesn't appreciate its employees.  I no longer think I deserve slavery.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Free Book Time

Free Books

I've written a number of books in my time and the first few weren't really my best work.  But you live and learn.  The more I've written, the more I've learned.  My early books are still out there, though.  They may not be best sellers, but I learned from them.  And believe me, they're original!  I have a couple self published books that are Las Vegas related and now Amazon is giving me the opportunity to make them free on the Kindle for a limited time.  That's not a bad idea.  One way to get your books read is to offer them for free.  

The first book I'm going to offer up for free is called Terminating Vegas.  The story is about a guy named Sam who has a job as a security officer at a Las Vegas casino.  He hits the lottery and wins a few million dollars and decides that instead of quitting, he wants to be fired from his job.  This book will be available for free on the Kindle from November 11th to November 15th.  That will be tomorrow (Monday) through Next Friday.  So feel free to download a copy and take a look.  

This book also has a foreword by author Steve Morris.  After having him read the book I asked him if he would mind writing a foreword and he was gracious enough to agree!  It meant a lot to me.  So take a look at the book tomorrow and see what you think.  In case you'd like to read a bit ahead of time, here's a quick excerpt:

James was standing near the lounge listening to the band.  A large man walked up and positioned himself almost nose to nose with him.  “Hi,” the man yelled.
“Uh, hi.” James answered.  He took a step back, but the man stepped forward again right up next to him.
“Hey…uh…can you give me a little space, please?”
The man stayed next to him.  “Are you James Wilcox?”
“Yes, who are you?”
The man didn’t answer.  He stood staring at James, still nose to nose with him.
“Look, you need to back off and give me some space, ok?”
The man still stood his ground.  James took several steps away.  Before the man could step up on him again, James held out his hand.
“What is this all about?  What do you want?”
“I don’t want anything.”
“Uh, ok.  Then you have a nice night.”
James started to walk away into the casino and noticed the man following him.  He walked through the pits and into a nearby bathroom.  The man followed him inside and stood nearby, staring at him.  This man was making him uneasy.  James left the bathroom and the man followed along.
“Ok, why are you following me?”
“I’m not.”
“Yes you are!  You followed me into the bathroom!”
“So stop it!  I don’t like to be followed!”
The man stared silently at him.
“Are you a guest in this hotel?”
“What room are you staying in?”
“The one upstairs.”
“What’s your room number?”  James demanded.
“It’s upstairs.” 
Do have some ID on you?”
“Well can I see it?”
“Only if I pull it out of my wallet.”
James pushed the button on his radio and asked for a uniformed officer to be sent to his location.  An officer named Andy arrived.
“Check his ID, find out what room he’s staying in, if he’s even a guest, and then give him a warning about following people!”  James said, pointing at the man.
“Sir, do you have some ID on you?”  Andy asked nicely.
James began to walk away.  The man ignored Andy and followed James through the casino.

“Sir…sir!  Sir, I need to see some ID!”  Andy said, following the two men.

The guy following James is pretty annoying.  He's someone Sam hired to harass his supervisors.  This book is pretty irreverent and I had written it to let off steam wishing I could really do the things the main character does in the book.  It's probably not a good idea to read if you're easily offended.  But it will be free for a limited time!

A couple more books may be free for a limited time soon, so keep your eyes peeled!  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's Destroy a Bar!

Bar Rescue


One of my favorite shows these days is called Bar Rescue.  It's about fixing up failing bars.  How do you get to appear on Bar Rescue?  Well basically you buy a bar and run it into the ground.  Then you send a letter to Spike TV begging for some help.  This guy named John Taffer shows up and after yelling at you and your staff, tries to turn your bar into a money maker instead of a money pit.
Why do I like this show so much?  It's hilarious!  The people who own the bars seem so stupid!  The majority of them don't seem to have any idea how to run a business at all!  Most of them hire their friends or family who then take advantage of them and destroy the business.  You can't fire these people, can you?  They're friends and family!  *chuckle*  So most of these idiots are just content to lose money month after month.  Usually when Bar Rescue get there, the bar is ready to close within about 3 months.
I just watched a show where John Taffer went to a bar in North Carolina called "Cashmere".  This place had a manager who acted worse than most three year old children!  They watched him on hidden cameras drinking, running around without a shirt on and giving away free booze to people.  He kept screaming "I'm all in!".  Watching him with the hidden cameras you could easily see why the bar was losing money.  Who would go there to get a drink with an annoying idiot like that running around?
Oh it was much worse than it appeared.  Not only was the bar full of cockroaches, the staff was also pouring cheap booze into premium booze bottles and trying to pass it off as something it wasn't.  Pouring alcohol from one bottle into another at a bar is illegal and the bar could have lost its liquor license over something like that.  Mr. "All in" didn't care.  He was just there to party!
Now you would think that after all the things Mr. "All in" had done they would fire him right off the bat, right?  Nope.  He cried on camera and kept saying he could change.  How touching.  But of course, he didn't change.  John Taffer told him to dump out all the booze bottles that had been refilled.  He didn't bother to do that.  He didn't care.  Why do what you're told when you can instead just yell "All in!" and do what you want instead?  *chuckle*

They still didn't fire this guy.  Next, they had what they call a "stress test".  That's when they somehow get a huge amount of people to come into the bar and try and order drinks and food to see if the staff can really handle it.  They couldn't.  No one followed directions and the idiot still kept running around yelling "All in!" and getting in everyone's way.  The experts that were brought in to help train the staff hated this guy, the staff hated this guy, and the night seemed pretty unpleasant.  So did they finally fire him then?  Nope.
Now John Taffer is upset.  He tells everyone to report to wok in the morning for training.  Mr. "All in" didn't bother to show up.  The owner didn't seem to know what to do.  Finally Taffer had to TELL the owner to fire Mr. "All in".  They fired him over the phone and hung up just as he was yelling "Bullshit!".  *chuckle*
So now Bar Rescue spends a lot of money to refurbish the place and they change the name to "Dual Ultra Lounge". After watching the show I always like to go to the website called "Yelp" to look at reviews for the new place.  At the end of the show they always say how nice the renovated place is doing.  If you look on Yelp you can see the truth.  "Dual" isn't well liked.  So obviously you can change a place to make it look nice, but you can't really change the people who work there unless they themselves want to change.
Now this isn't to say that all the bars don't turn themselves around.  There are a good number that actually do get things straightened out.  Some owners and employees do actually want to learn.  Of course they sometimes run into problems when the show renovates the bar without bothering to get any building permits from the city.  That's been an issue.  But as a show, I love this!  It's fun to watch John Taffer yell at incompetent people!  *chuckle*

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Writing a book: The Beginning...

Let's write!

Have you ever thought about writing a book?  Well if you've never actually done it, now's the time!  As of right now there are more options and ways to publish your stuff than there ever has been in history!  I'm going to start a new book of my own on November 1, 2013 for NaNoWriMo and would like to invite you along for the ride!  Maybe you'll even write a book of your own?

NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month.  Writers register with the site and try to write at least a 50,000 word story during the month of November.  I'm going to participate this year and then self publish the novel I write.  I've decided to make a few quick videos along the way to help anyone else who would like to write along with me!
If you'd like to register and give it a shot, there's the web site link above.  Now trust me when I say 50,000 words in 30 days won't be the easiest thing to do.  If words flow from you to your PC or laptop computer, or even to an old fashioned typewriter, that may help.  But the story is the main goal.  So if you sign up and don't make 50,000 words, don't sweat it.  Just keep on writing from there.  NaNoWriMo is all about getting you going on writing that book of yours!
In my first video I talk about the simple things; finding your story, a comfortable writing place, and a quick bit on how to set up Microsoft Word in the correct format to publish, or submit your work to a publisher.  Oops, one thing I forgot to mention was that the font that is generally used is Times New Roman.  If you think you might want to submit your story to a publisher after it's written, it should be written in that font.  If you're going to self publish your book (Like I plan on doing.) you can actually use whatever font you want!
So watch my quick five and a half minute video on Youtube and if you have any questions, feel free to comment on the video, or this post, or even email me or send me a message on Facebook, or Twitter!.



Ok, get your imaginations in working order and we'll get writing starting midnight November 1!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Best Football Games


I love to watch football.  But there are some games that are always going to be better than others.  The greatest games for me have been in the movies.  I love movies, too.  So adding football to movies makes things doubly fun! Saying that, I thought I would go over a few of my favorite football movies.
The Longest Yard staring Burt Reynolds.  This one is about an ex professional quarterback who was banned from the game for shaving points.  He ends up in prison after he steals his girlfriend's car, gets drunk, and assaults a couple of oops in a bar.  The prison warden pushes him into forming a team of convicts to play the prison guard's football team.  This one was brilliantly written and by the end, you're really rooting for the cons even though they're a bunch of dirty, murdering, raping, scumbag convicts. 
There was a remake of this movie in 2005, but it wasn't nearly as good.  Actually, it was pretty bad.  Bad enough so that I won't even show any pictures of the remake.  Watch the original, you won't regret it!
Heaven Can Wait may not look like a football movie, but it is.  It's about a quarterback (again *chuckle*) who is riding his bike and is pulled out of life by an angel who thinks he's about to be hit by a bus and die.  But the quarterback wasn't really supposed to die and the angel had jumped the gun.  The quarterback convinces heaven to send him back to earth so he can have a great season and win the Superbowl.  Unfortunately his body has been cremated.  *chuckle*  Instead, he's put into the body of a rich industrialist.  The industrialist has a wife and assistant who are trying to murder him.  It all sounds complicated, and in some ways it is, but it's still a great football movie even without having that much football in it. 
This one stars Warren Beatty.  The movie is for the most part a comedy and does have a few really funny moments.  More focused on the characters than football, it's still a great flick!  If you haven't seen it, find it!  Another all time great movie!
M.A.S.H is more of a war time doctor movie.  It takes place during the Korean war and is about a bunch of army doctors who patch up wounded soldiers brought to them directly from the battlefield.  What does this have to do with football?  Well, near the end of the movie there is a football game between the doctors and a team put together by a crazy general.  The game has a few classic football scenes.
Yes there was a TV series adapted from the movie and it ran for years and years and was pretty good.  But if you haven't seen the movie, you're missing out!  The football game has some of the best lines ever written, for example:
"What the hell's the matter with you?  We're here to play football, not fight!"
"Bastard 88 called me a coon!"
"That's an old pro trick to get you thrown out of the ballgame.  Why don't you do the same to him?"
"What, call him a coon?"
The Replacements staring Keanu Reeves as quarterback Shane Falco.  This is another comedy about a bunch of no name players brought in to play a couple of professional football games when the real players go on strike.  There actually was a pro football strike here in America back in 1987.  To be honest, I was in the Air Force during 1987 and was overseas so I can't remember seeing any of the replacement player games.  Getting back on track, this movie is about players who end up playing while the real players strike.  While fictional, it's actually a really good comedy!

At the end of the movie the strike is over and all the replacement players lose their jobs.  You knew this was coming, but for the few games they play in the movie, the replacements leave quite an impression.  One of my favorite movies!
Wildcats stars Goldie Hawn as a high school football coach.  No one wants to let her coach, but she finally finds an opportunity at a school in the bad part of town.  Being one of those inspirational type movies, Goldie starts out with a bunch of apathetic players who don't really care about the game.  But she soon whips them into shape and at the end they play the rich, prestigious, nearby high school.  Another comedy, but still a good movie.
This movie had some up and coming Hollywood talent.  Some of the young stars include Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, and Jan Hooks.  A cute movie with some funny moments.  Not the most serious thing, but still a good flick.
Rudy  Ah, now we get into the football movies that were based on real life stories!  Rudy Ruettiger had always wanted to play football for Notre Dame University and was a rabid Notre Dame fan.  After his best friend dies in an industrial accident, he decides it's time to make that dream come true.  He takes what little savings he has and heads out for the university where he finds out it's not quite as easy as he thinks to just show up and join a team.  After four years of trying, he finally makes the team, but doesn't see any playing time.
In the movie, Rudy is played by actor Sean Astin who also played Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy movies.  A hobbit playing football?  *chuckle*  Sean is in my opinion quite a bit better looking than the real life Rudy Ruettiger.  But then you always use a better looking guy for a movie, don't you?
There's the real Rudy.  I think he needs a haircut.  *chuckle*  The movie is one of those really deep inspirational things about how a guy had a dream and went out to achieve it no matter what obstacles he had to overcome.  Good flick more about Rudy than football, but still great.
Invincible  Finally, we have a movie about a guy who loved the Philadelphia Eagles.  The team ends up having "open tryouts" because they're lacking a bit of talent and find out there isn't much real talent that shows up for the tryouts!  Well, except for Vince Papale played by Mark Wahlberg.  Vince is fast and fairly good.  He's invited to training camp and struggles to make the team.  Finally, after making the cut, Vince comes into his own and helps bring the Eagles to greatness!  Another inspirational movie about a real guy. 
Here's Mark Wahlberg pretending to be Vince, and...'s the real Vince.  Just a bit of difference, huh  Based on a true story.  So how much was real and how much was Hollywood magic?  Who knows, but it still make for a good movie about a struggling guy trying to achieve his dreams.
So there you have it, my favorite football movies!  Let me know if you think I've left any out.  Some of the other movies like The Program or Any Given Sunday were ok, but they weren't my favorites.  I can take or leave them.  Everyone has their own opinions, though.  Let me know what you think and what you're favorite football movies are!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Music with Marc

The Guitar Master


Today I get to interview another of my Facebook friends, Marc Johnson.  Marc not only teaches and plays music, he also writes!  With such a fantastic combination of talents, I talked him into answering a few questions for the blog.

Since you give guitar and bass lessons, let’s start with a few questions about that.

I’ve heard people say there are no bad students, only bad teachers.  I’m not sure I agree with that.  I’ve been in classes with plenty of bad students.  Have you ever had guitar or bass students who really aggravated you?

Most of the people I’ve taught have aggravated me. Bad students will always outnumber the good ones 3 to 1. It’s a certainty in the universe. 

That being said, there are bad teachers too. And, somehow those bastards manage to stay teachers for a long time while the good ones get discouraged and leave. There’s a real dearth of good teachers out there.   

One of the jobs of a good teacher is to get students excited about the subject. And the best way to do that is to be enthusiastic about it yourself. If the teacher loves the subject, and the student is genuinely interested in putting the time in, then things will work. If the teacher is a lump on a log, then they’ll probably ruin whatever ambition the student had. 

When people come to you for lessons, do they sometimes think that learning to play an instrument is a quick and easy endeavor?

In their first lesson, everyone acknowledges that learning the guitar is going to be difficult for them, and they say that they are up for the challenge. The following week, the second lesson rolls around and they say, “I didn’t think it would be this hard.” Usually, that’s where I’ll begin to notice signs if the student is going to last or not. 

Unfortunately, the parents are rarely helpful. In order for someone to be a good student of music, they have to immerse themselves in it. And, it seems that very few households have any music in them. Even something as simple as a parent blaring some music while dancing in front of their kids can have a significant influence on how the child perceives music. They have to know that music is meant to be enjoyed and not just something that plays in the background of movies. 

It also doesn’t help that music education is seen as extracurricular instead of being part of a standard education. In some countries, learning an instrument is part of a student’s normal study. Where in the US it’s seen as frivolous or flighty. Hell, some parents make it next to impossible for the student to pursue music by bogging them down with a bunch of sports or other shit that the kid doesn’t even want to be involved in. Would you rather be a freaking boy scout or learn how to play Bark at the Moon? Which would you rather have, a merit badge or a Jackson Randy Rhoads “V” guitar? 

As both a writer and musician you’ve seen two different worlds.  Would you say it’s easier to get your writing or your music noticed?  Or are they both difficult?

They are both very difficult, and they are both very similar. While there are definitely more outlets than there used to be, there are so many shit writers and musicians clogging up the pipes that it makes it hard for anyone with anything interesting to say to get through.  

Writers and Musicians both have to work harder and smarter to get noticed. While you can still play some shithole bar (My favorite kind) or sign books at some hole-in-the-wall bookstore (Also, my favorite kind), you’re going to get very little notoriety from that alone. 

The hardest thing is that few are willing to pay for books or music. There’s an expectation that, if someone writes a book or records an album, they’ve done so because they love it and that should be enough reward for them. But, the writer or musician has to sacrifice time and opportunity to create these things. If they can’t make a living off of writing books or making music, how can you possibly expect them to keep doing it? 

Publishing houses have even pulled their heads out of their own asses long enough to notice this trend, which is why unless you’re a writer with an existing track record of selling books, good luck getting published. That leaves writers with independent houses, which have been doing good work lately, or self-publishing. Either way, it’s difficult to get your name out there. 

Some market the shit out of themselves and some cling onto niches that are big thing for the moment. It’s like the 90’s grunge thing. Every terrible band out there was calling themselves “grunge” so that they could get in on the action. Just like tons of terrible writers are getting in on the vampire or zombie thing for the same reason. 

The good news is that there are many great writers and musicians out there for anyone willing to look. Writers like you and Steve Morris have managed to get their stories out there without any big publishing house help, which is big. And musicians like Andy McKee have managed to garner a strong following based on YouTube performances. Something like that wouldn’t have been possible fifteen years ago. 

Have you ever incorporated music in your writing?

Music strongly influences my writing. When I was writing Becoming, I wanted to have a song threaded throughout the narrative. Portions of the song would pop up from different characters and even from the narrator at times in either lyrical or musical form. It was intended to be a stream of continuity through an otherwise fragmented story. I’m not sure if anyone caught on to that. 

The relationship between music and writing is a complementary one. They both rely on moments that can’t be relived but we search to relive them anyway. That moment when I finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing will always haunt me, but I will never be able to experience that moment the same way again. When I first heard ORIGA’s voice in the song Inner Universe, my guts twisted and my hands started to quiver. It’s like heroin. You’re always chasing that first high. 

Generally, I like to create a song for the story that then becomes part of the narrative. I’m currently working on two new titles that are both heavily influenced by music. Given how quickly I write novels, they should both be out by 2045.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Always. The mood that I’m trying to convey in the work determines what kind of music. If the writing calls for something more ethereal, I’ll listen to ORIGA, Little Dragon, Florence + The Machine, Yoko Kanno, or Michael Hedges. If the writing calls for some crazy-maniacal-blood bath, I’ll put on something a bit heavier like In Flames, Soilwork, Sybreed, Bring Me The Horizon, Opeth, or Katatonia. Or, if I’m just feeling sorry for myself, I’ll put on some Soulsavers or Chris Whitley. 

I even composed a series of songs that were influenced by my first book, Becoming. Originally, they were supposed to be background for an audio book, but then I realized the monumental horror I would unleash if I narrated three hundred plus pages with my monotone lilt. The songs weren’t bad, though. So, I anticipate I’ll eventually get around to releasing them all somewhere. 

While we’re on the topic of writing, tell us about the books you have out and where we can find them.

My overly ambitious work Becoming is available from Amazon in hardcover, paperback, or for Kindle. But I’d rather people purchase it from because Amazon is the devil. Becoming is a very violent piece of speculative fiction with elements of fantasy.  The characters of have no memory of who they are/were but find themselves in a reality that is manifested from their dreams and nightmares. They live in a world of their own design, and somehow they even manage to fuck that up.  

(Click above to find Marc's book on, or use the link below to visit  Marc prefers the link below.)

I also have a short story, Uncanny Valley, which doesn’t cost very much and is awesome. It’s only available on Kindle through Amazon. 

Although I have another novel on the way, these are currently my only two stories. There is another writer named Marc Johnson on Amazon, so don’t confuse me with him. He didn’t like my book, and I haven’t read his. 

I’m also the Head Writer/Editor in Chief for, which is a site dedicated to guitar gear. So, if guitar be your thing, you’ll want to check that out. 

Let’s keep going with the plugs - Where can we find your music?  Any YouTube links we should see?  (I know there are!  *chuckle*)

There are some vids of these “On The Mark” videos I did for You can hear me play a bit, see my pretty face, and let my soothing tenor wash over you. I wanted to do some videos comparing/contrasting top shelf guitars with their less expensive counter parts. Those can be found here: 

I also have a Soundcloud account, which I don’t use as often as I would like. That can be found here: 

Some people have told me that there’s other stuff of mine floating around out there. I haven’t seen it, but who knows what’s out there. 

Is it true that the guitar players get all the women?  Silly question, I know.  

The groupie hierarchy goes: Singer, Guitarist, Drummer, Horn Section, Bass Player, Roadies, Percussion, and Pianist. So, guitar players get almost all of the women, but not as much as the singers. But, at least we’re not pianists.  

While we’re talking about that, do you ever have guys come in and want music lessons because they think playing a guitar will get them girls?  Does this work out?

A huge part of playing the guitar is attitude. If you think you’re the best guitar player in the world, chances are, everyone else will agree. Same goes for picking up girls. If you act like every girl in the world would be lucky to hang out with you, you’ll probably never go home alone. Only one of my students has ever realized this. I wish I could’ve been so wise at his age.  

Music is sexy. So is writing. They’re both expressions on how people deal with the world around them. And sex is a big part of that. When you’re looking to understand the passions that go into creating these things, you are looking to better understand sex. Most importantly, how to get more of it. 

Are you more of a purist, or have you used music synthesizers before?

I enjoy the sound of grit, dirt, warmth, and things I can sink my teeth into. Which are impossible to get with synth. Synth by its nature is a calculation and an estimation of things that we hear in nature. 

Practically, though, analog is a pain in the ass. You need to be really loud to achieve the right tone and usually you’re getting yelled at by somebody for being too loud. So, when I record, I use computer emulator software that mimics certain sounds that I’m trying to achieve. 

Synth also gives players the ability to orchestrate for as many instruments as you want without having to play a single one of them. I’m terrible at brass instruments, but I can program the shit out of a horn section. 

As far as what I listen to, some of the most exciting stuff that I’ve heard has been synth based. Whether it’s Anime or Film Soundtracks, Dubstep, or bands like Daft Punk, Yelle, Little Dragon, and Yoko Kanno, there’s something intriguing about that point where the synth sounds end and the organic instruments begin. There’s this great song by Yoko Kanno called Fish ~ Silent Cruise that starts out simply with a voice and some strings and slowly morphs into a slow-driving beat with all of these synth sounds that threaten to swallow up everything around them. It’s amazing. 

But, there’s nothing sweeter to me than hearing the resonance of a minor 9th chord played on a guitar as it slowly dissipates to the point where you can hear the notes waver around each other. Synth could never reach that level richness or beauty in timbre. 

And of course, what are you working on right now? 

My second novel, Drugs and Pancakes, should be out early next year if my alcoholic editor can manage to work through the manuscript in between bouts of insanity and cursing my name. 

Drugs and Pancakes is a story of a drug addled youth who is suddenly confronted by a suicidal lesbian. High jinks and hilarity ensue. Lots of drugs, sexual depravity, and inquiries into the nature of human relativity, fear, and interdependability. 

I’m also working on a documentary titled, The Future of Gear. It’s pretty obvious what the subject is by the title. Basically, I’m asking all names big and small in the guitar instrument industry where they think things are headed. The first episode will be available before the end of October. You can watch the teaser here. 

I do have a website dedicated to all of my stuff that I neglect often and update occasionally at

You can also follow my awesome tweets @Mjohnsonbooks. 

Or Face my Facebook at 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Writing a Book


Have you ever wanted to write a book?  Well, now there's really nothing stopping you!  If you have a computer, or at least a library card, you can get started right now!  If you don't have a computer at home, use your library card to reserve some computer time at your nearby library.  They should have everything you'll need and you'll be surrounded by books to boot!  Great inspiration!

What I'm going to go over will apply if you want to write your novel and submit it to a publisher, or if you want to self publish your work.  Both are equally viable options.  I've done both.  I have books published with Secret Cravings Publishing such as A Writer's Love Story...

And my self published novel Frigate: November...

A Writer's Love Story was professionally edited and formatted, Frigate wasn't edited at all and was formatted by me.  I had to learn the hard way how to format a book for the Kindle.  When I first uploaded Frigate to the Kindle store it was unreadable.  I had no idea the book wasn't formatted correctly, it came out fine as a paperback.  I don't feel too badly because when I first uploaded Frigate the Kindle was just becoming popular and no one seemed to know what they were doing with uploads.  Some of the major publishers had uploaded unreadable files just like I had.  They eventually dedicated entire departments to formatting their books for the Kindle.  But I did figure out what was wrong with my book's format and fixed it.  I had to go through over 120,000 words to fix everything, and it took me a long time, but it does now look ok on a Kindle.  And now I'm ready to teach other people how to format.

So what was wrong with my formatting?  And what did I have to go back and fix?  Well, I'm going to make a few videos as we get near November and show you exactly how to get started so you'll have everything formatted correctly as you go.  For now I'm working on a small laptop while my PC is in the shop, but I should have it back soon and then I'll get started on the videos.  

For now, I've made this simple little introduction video.  Be sure to check out the quick looks at two of my self published books in the upper left hand corner of the video.  For now, think about what you'd like to write about, or even dust off an old story you've had in your closet since high school, and we'll get started learning how to get moving in the publishing world!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vegas Detective

I grew up watching detectives.  Those cheesy private eye TV shows in the 70's and 80's.  They were so fun and full of adventure!  Shows like Barnaby Jones, Vega$, Simon and Simon, and Magnum P.I..  They were so much fun and each week I couldn't wait for the next one.  Now a days it seems like all the TV shows are about forensics, and things like that.  I long for the detective shows I grew up with.

And so I think it's about time to write one of my own.  Now I do happen to have a friend who is a real life private investigator.  I've talked to him about writing a few fictional "Vegas P. I" stories and he agrees that it might be a good idea.  So for now my mind needs to get to work on a mystery or two.

Now my P.I. will need to do a bunch of the good old fashioned "leg work" that I saw in the old television shows.  Talk to people, piece things together, and figure out what the bad guys are really up to.  And he'll need motivation.  I'm thinking one of his friends is shot and he sets out to find out who did the shooting and why.  Clues will lead him to the Las Vegas Strip and from there...well, let's just say he'll find a few bad guys doing bad things.  I have a few ideas.

Since November is coming up and so is "Nanowrimo", where you try to write 50,000 words during the month, I think I'll get my detective story all planned out and write it then.  And so it's time to get my mind on detective work and writing.  And get ready to meet Matt Smith: Vegas P.I.!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Music and Books with Willsin Rowe

My first musician interview!

Recently I did an interview with author Katie Salidas.  Katie co-authored a book series called The Consummate Therapy series with another Facebook friend of mine, Willsin Rowe.  Willsin lives down in Australia and was kind enough to answer a few questions for my blog!

Willsin is multi-talented and will be the first musician I've ever interviewed!  It was a thrill to hear back from him!  So here are the questions I asked:

How long did your first book take to write?
Oh, gosh. My first book came together in about three weeks. It was only a short-ish story, about 12,000 words, and it was for a competition (which I won!)

I know you’re not only a writer, but also a musician.  Do you ever apply music to your writing?
Oh, definitely. Though they’re not yet published, and in some cases not yet written, I have several music-based stories. Some involving bands, some involving fans, and of course, some involving both! I find that I often tend to include musical terminology in descriptions as well.

Have specific songs ever inspired any of your stories?
Actually, yes! My favourite band is Big Country. Obviously, they’re not all that well known outside of Britain (except for one particular song). Here in Australia they’re almost forgotten. But a track from their final studio album, Driving To Damascus, inspired me to write a piece of dark, semi-paranormal flash erotica. The song is called “Grace”, and my story has the same name. It’s not a published story, but I did win an award on an erotica forum for it.

How did you first meet Katie Salidas?
It was through a mutual friend, Jenna Alexander. She and Katie were both blogging at Coffee-Fueled Erotica, and when Jenna decided to leave she asked me to take her place, which I was honoured to do.

Once you and Katie met, how did you end up working together on your Consummate Therapy series?
It took us nearly three years before we tried true co-authoring. Almost from the beginning we critiqued each other’s stories, and we worked together on other parts of publishing as well. I made some covers for Katie and gave her some pointers on her own promo designs. Katie gave me oodles of help with HTML and marketing areas. Then, when we realised we both had stories we couldn’t quite finish, we figured we should pool resources and drive each other onward.

How was your experience writing with Katie?
It’s been hugely beneficial. By co-writing, we’ve each found out a little more about our own strengths and weaknesses. There’s more compromise, of course, since we each have different boundaries, which comes in part from being opposite genders, and also from being in different countries. But the compromises have worked to help us tighten up our writing. I’ve certainly been far more prolific in recent months than at any point in the past, and that’s mostly down to the discipline that came from co-writing with Katie.

Check out the first book in Willsin and Katie's series with the above link!

Tell us a bit about your music and where we can find you.  Can we find your band on Youtube, or buy your music anywhere?
My band is called The Medicine Show. We’re a dirty blues/folk/country/punk kinda band. Tom Waits and Nick Cave are huge influences to us, but we also employ talking blues elements, and folk traditions, as well as old-time Delta blues and prison songs. I’ve made a few music videos which are up on Youtube, and we also have a profile on Bandcamp, where our 8-track album is on sale.

Our Youtube videos are on this channel:

Excellent!  Click the link above to see The Medicine Show Youtube channel!  Very cool to be able to see this!  Absolutely fantastic videos!
Once you like what you see, click the link below to check out and maybe buy some Medicine Show music!  Help support a really good blue collar band!

And our Bandcamp profile is here:

And before we go, I always have to ask:
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Well, in addition to writing and music, I’m also a book cover artist. I’ve made around 300 covers for people over the past 3-4 years. I have a few long-standing clients like Selena Kitt and Jason Halstead who keep me busy a lot of the time! But I’m also spending time crafting some sweet romantic erotica under a different pen name! Supah-sekrit stuff, though!

Many thanks to Willsin for this interview!  I wish him the best of luck with his music, book covers (I may end up contacting him one day myself!) and of course, his writing.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Closing the Government

Sorry, we're closed

Today is October 4th, 2013 and the United States government is closed while our "representatives" have a tantrum.  Now if you know me, you know I'll usually stay away from politics or religion on my blog, but today I think I'm going to make an exception.

How do you close a government?  You would think they would be hanging a closed sign on the big offices in Washington D.C. and all the politicians would go home until it was time to re-open.  That's not what happened though.  All the politician's offices stayed open and they keep getting paid.  However they decided that a lot of other things will be closed and other people won't be paid.  So let's take a look at how things work when the government decides it's closed.

Meet Moe.  Moe goes to work and pays his taxes.  He's been waiting all year for his vacation and now it's here!  He's been planning his vacation for almost the whole year.  He has booked and paid for a lot of really neat things to do.  Moe loves the outdoors and is ready to head out on his trip to visit a few national parks.  His first stop will be the Grand Canyon.  He's paid up front for a really neat mule ride down into the canyon and can't wait to see all the natural beauty.  

Imagine Moe's shock when he gets to Arizona and finds out that he not only can't go on the mule ride he paid for, he also can't go into the canyon at all because it's closed.  Moe is pretty upset.  He paid a lot  of money ahead of time for the mule ride and a few other tours.  How the hell do you close a canyon as big as the Grand Canyon?  The tour company explains to him very nicely that the government has closed all public parks and no one can enter.  His money is refunded, but the trip he's been looking forward to for almost a year isn't looking good.  Moe can't understand how you can close something as huge as the Grand Canyon, but there are no park rangers to explain it to him.  They've all been "furloughed" while the government is closed.  So park rangers aren't getting paid, but the politicians still are.  Moe is getting angry now.

But it's still vacation and Moe decides to just move on and maybe visit the Grand Canyon another time. He rents a car and heads out for the Petrified Forest National Park to see some of the nature there.

He's not allowed to drive into the park.  There is an empty booth nearby, and Moe rants away at the booth.  "How can you close a national park?  What is all of this madness?"  Moe figures he will just drive around the gate or find somewhere else to enter, but everything is blocked off and locked up.  He sees a squirrel sitting just past the gate and near a tree.  The squirrel looks to Moe as if it's laughing at him.  "Silly humans, closing their parks!"

Moe is really angry and looks up a phone number to call his congressman.  He dials, but only gets a recording that goes on and on about "Obamacare".  Moe doesn't care about "Obamacare"!  Moe wants in the park!  Moe wants his vacation!  Moe feels cheated and screwed by the people he's paid his taxes to!  Moe is now furious!  

Moe gets back into his car and thinks that getting angry is doing him no good.  Moe loves pandas though and thinks that maybe watching a bit of the "Pandacam" at the National Zoo will help calm him down.  He tries to use his cell phone to see the pandas but finds out that the National Zoo has been shut down and the "Pandacam" turned off.  What the hell?  How is all this stuff closed while the politicians are still getting paid?

At the end of his vacation, Moe went home very upset.  His entire trip was ruined.  He wasn't allowed in any national parks, he couldn't see the pandas, and there were no park rangers anywhere to discuss nature with.  Moe hates the government and thinks that maybe for the next election he should vote against anyone who is in office right now.  He doesn't want to hear any excuses about how it wasn't this congressman's fault, or how they're trying to take care of him.  Moe wanted his park trip.  And because some idiots couldn't agree, he's been screwed out of it.

As a side note, this blog was meant to be amusing.  On the serious side, there are possibly hundreds of thousands of people "furloughed" and out of work now so our "government" can argue.  This is not representation, this is abuse of power.  If you want to close the government, then the politicians shouldn't be paid during the shutdown.  Rape crisis centers have been closed, home loans have been put on hold and can't go through, and a lot of people won't be paid.  All of this because a bunch of grown men and women want to scream "I want things my way, or else!" at each other.  Remember all of this the next time you go to vote.