Story Idea

It was a dark and stormy night…”

“Haven’t we heard this story before?” Richie asked.

“Dad, come on that is so cliche.” Connor made a face.

“Mom! Dad is trying to be a weatherman again.” Duncan yelled.

“Listen to your father boys. He is trying out a new story idea.”

“Where was I?” Dad clears his throat. “It was a dark and stormy night. Conan threw the tent flap open and…”

“Wait. Are we talking the Conan? Like The Cimmerian Conan? Or TV dude Conan?” Connor asked.

“What? Yes the real Conan. Why would TV guy be in one of my stories?”

“I think you should Dad. Conan vs Conan.” Duncan giggled.

“Honey, where did we put the boys? These are heathens. And critics. No respect at all for the arts.”

“Oh dear. Did we not get the right ones? I told you we should have picked the other three.”

“Mom!” Connor, Duncan and Richie chorused. “We are your sons.”

Dad clapped his hands. “Back to the story. Conan stepped out of the weather. His advisor handed him a towel…”

“Remember to keep the naughty bits out. Your audience is still in the PG category.” Mom called out. “Just in case you forgot who was listening.”

“Aww Mom. Those are the best parts. Don’t listen to her Dad. Fellows gotta stick together.”

“Boys this is a learning moment. Moms are always right,” he leaned close and whispered “until they’re not.”

“I heard that dear.”

This is an ill omen for the battle tomorrow. Slogging through mud gets men killed”. His advisor said.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Bad weather drives man and beast inside. Guards are down. Bad weather is the thief’s friend.” Conan muttered to himself thinking.

What are you thinking old friend?”

A small force sneaking into the camp and causing chaos. Perhaps if they’re lucky they’ll get the one in charge. Men won’t go into battle without a leader.”

Who will you pick? We can’t afford to lose you. So you must pick someone to lead this merry band of lunatics.”

“Hurry up Dad. Get to the good parts.” The boys chorused.

“Dear you had best pick up the pace. Your audience is getting restless.” She peaked into the bedroom. She hid a smile, the boys were scattered around the bed surrounding him. Even the dog was listening intently.

“Fine. Fine. Screaming trailed through Conan’s camp. “What is all this ruckus?” Conan roared. The camp fell silent. The wet bedraggled woman landed at his feet. His men were bleeding and panting with the effort. She growled at him. He looked at her.

Who is this? Looking at her curiously, he noted the bruises and cuts on his men. The woman didn’t look to have been misused or abused. Her clothes were muddied and soaked, but she was otherwise unharmed. He frowned at her. Had one woman gotten the better of his men?

“Who is she Dad?”

“What happened to taking out the bad guys’ leader?”

“How come she beat up the good guys?”

“All in good time boys, all in good time. It takes time to build a story. And not everything is as it seems.”

“Mom! Dad is talking in cliches again. Make him stop and just tell us who she is.” The boys pouted.

“Now, now my loves. Sometimes storytellers have to take a moment and regroup. Is that right dear?” She stepped into the room and lightly massaged his shoulders. A quick peck on top of his head and she left the room.

He watched her leave. Clearing his thoughts he said let’s get back in the story.

Motorcycles & New Perspectives

2010 Yamaha V Star, a new perspective on travel and life

Mr. Ben Franklin famously said “Write something worth reading. Or do something worth writing.” 

Since I have been stuck in a rut both mentally and writing, I decided to change my perspective. They say riding on two wheels give you a whole new way of seeing the world around you. The safety of the vehicle is no longer there, and yet you are more connected to the scenery and elements.

At 40 years old and having never been on a motorcycle or scooter before, I bought one. I have drooled over various bikes throughout the years but never had the opportunity to try. I consulted with my grandfathers and my dad. All three felt it was an extremely good way to become a road pancake. And valuing their opinions, I let it go. I figured the notion would pass and yet it was a faint whisper in the back of my mind.

Fast forward 23 years give or take a couple and I fell in love with an electric blue scooter trike. While researching the scooter, it occurred to me why not go for a motorcycle. The only basic difference in a motorcycle and a scooter is the scooter has the motor in the back under the seat. They are also automatic. Most motorcycles are a manual transmission (they have a clutch) but some are starting to have an automatic transmission. The scooter’s price point was out of range and the motor wasn’t big enough to suit me. I want something that can handle traffic speeds.

So I started looking through the classified ads and found my beautiful motorcycle. She is a Yamaha V Star 650, which means she has the giddy up and go to run with traffic. And she is big enough that rides are pretty comfortable. I just have to watch my leg on the exhaust. Ouch. Hot, hot, hot. I feel I have plenty of growing room and lots of adventures to go on before I may decide on something bigger. Probably not though. She handles well and feels great.

I am hoping by learning to ride and getting out and traveling places. It will spark off my creative process and I will dive back into my writing. I am getting older and the feeling of “if not now, when” on both writing and riding.

Have a great week. Cheers, james

Living with Conan

Robert E. Howard (REH)’s best known character is a sword welding barbarian and yet he isn’t. Conan has a code he lives by. His barbarian instincts give him an edge when he deals with the bad guys. Yet he acknowledges that he can not survive on instinct alone.

Conan learns languages, reading, and writing. REH shows us Conan doing this stuff for himself even though he has people to do it for him. In some stories when he wears the crown of Aqualonia, he has people doing stuff for him. Even before he becomes Kings, he learns the customs and languages of whichever group of people he happens to be adventuring with. Most adventure authors focus on the blood, battle, and babes, and less culture.

(Possible Spoiler Alert!)

Hour of the Dragon shows Conan off in both the ruler and the lone individual fighting to take back his country and save his people… If you haven’t read it perhaps go read it and then come back to this post? Or if you have no clue then maybe I can tempt you into giving REH a try. We first see Conan in the middle of a battlefield talking strategies, tactics, and the logistics of caring for an army in the middle of a war. Advisors, servants, military leaders, etc are flowing around him in the tent, he is the focus of their universe. A man in control of his world and his fate.

Later we see Conan (Are you sure you want to read spoilers if you haven’t read the story?) being spirited away by the bad guys. A victim to forces beyond his control, REH gave Conan a strong aversion to magic and the supernatural. He fights to regain control of his person and his fate. Often REH describes him as a lean lone wolf or a lion prowling amongst men. As he is escaping his captors he runs and fights like the cornered wolf. He is willing to accept help from anyone that can aid him, and yet he is willing to protect those same people if a threat is offered.

At one point while Conan is on the run, he questions whether he even wants to go back to being king. And instead go back to an adventuring lifestyle, only the demands of having his kingdom taken from him urge him to fight it out with his enemies.

I believe REH and Conan still have much to teach us in this modern age. And I realize the time period in which these stories are written paint a less stellar view of both women and minorities. Take it with a grain of salt. When we look back at our current literature there will be some cultural differences from now and the norms of then.

Cheers, james

P.S. Go read Hour of the Dragon.

Compass Rose

North, land of ice and snow

South, ancient tropical forests

East, far and distant lands

West, places beyond horizons

Heed me to one place I unite.

Each one seperate and equally whole.

Together a rose they form. 

Many an adventure and journey have they gone.

Compass rose guide me far away and lead me home.