The Perception of Culture

The Perception of Culture

    Ever wonder what it really means when they say a city has so much culture? I have and have thought about it a lot. Textbook definition culture of

  1. the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.
  1. that which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc.
  1. a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture.

   Ah, so that’s what it means, but is that what people really mean when they say, such and such city has so much culture? I think more than anything they simply mean there are more people and there are opportunities to do more things. Isn’t it the same?

   I grew up in New York City. If you were to ask a Manhattanite they would tell you I lived on Mars because I grew up in Queens, on the North side at that, so I might as well be living on Long Island. Most Manhattanites think much of themselves and I guess in a way they should for putting up with all the hassles of living in Manhattan, but what do I know of such a worldly place. Okay, don’t get your danders (sic) up, you know it’s true.

   I use Manhattan as an example because I often hear the culture remark in my travels always by a native living in one city referring to another. Usually it comes right after the infamous line “There’s nothing to do here.” Maybe you have heard that one. I can remember saying it often when I was growing up and I had the best of many worlds right at my fingertips: Australia, China, Japan, Europe, Africa and South America, it was all there. I only had to hop on a bus or train and it would take me to a place that I could see those worlds, eat their foods and experience some of what those places are like. But I didn’t do that, I hung around the school yard playing Chinese handball, blackball, stickball, basketball, chasing squirrels and rats in the woods of Kissena Park or skipping stones in Kissena Lake. It was terrible, there was nothing to do!

   Growing a bit older I ventured out and hung around with my friends in the local taverns chasing women, imbibing too much too often and there were only about 300 such establishments within a 30 minute walk from my house, call it 40 on a slow day. Still the cry would come, “There is nothing to do!”

   Having travelled the world for over 40 years now I have heard that said in many languages, it is what propels, I believe, people to a wanderlust or at the very least to move to a new city in the hopes of finding something to do. Most people refer to it as a city having more culture.  When I was young I always thought “Culture” meant a different lifestyle and a different way of doing things. Today I find it pretty much means the same thing all over: a city with restaurants, movie theaters and other amenities that allow us to get out of our houses, embellish our lives or in some cases distract us from our lives. I believe it is the grass is greener syndrome stated in another way.

   So how is your city or town’s culture? Are you helping to increase that which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc., or is there just nothing to do in your town?

I want to thank you for stopping by and of course all my books are available here on my site and Amazon and other popular book sites online.

2017-12-31 11.39.12See ya at the Forge!



Goodbye 2017



   Thank you for all your support throughout 2017, I look forward to seeing you in 2018.

See ya at the Forge!!!


PS: Derrick’s Deaths continues to come along nicely and will be ready for it’s Spring release.

They all want coal, but they might enjoy one of these in their stockings too.




   Christmas is here, wow! Where did the month of December go? Last month I put everything aside to participate in NaNoWriMo, returned my attention to Derrick’s Deaths and was cruising along thinking I have plenty of time. I need to buckle down. If I don’t I will get behind and it will leave me huffing and puffing to catch up.

   I am confident I will have all my Beta reader’s recommendations done by the end of this month ready for the beginning round of editing in January keeping me right on schedule for a Spring release.

pedonale rain

   Last night a torrential down pour. I have seen less rain during a Cat. II hurricane.  Then with the morning light came the thunder. Luckily our roof repairs from last year are holding up. Water intrusion into the tower is reduced by about 70%. We are down to two buckets!

Chicago Bar View 2

   No snow predicted for Shkoder this year, but the mountain tops have been dusted already. When the clouds dissipate we will get to see if more has been added or was it all washed away.  It is always nice to have the mountains capped with white while I am enjoying a fast run on the lake with my kayak.

Hoping your Holidays are filled with joy!

Christmas tree at the pedinole cropped

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

See ya at the Forge!



Five Books Poster
They all want coal, but they might enjoy one of these in their stockings too.

Winner at NaNoWriMo

Hi Everyone!   

I secured my 1st National Novel Writing Month win! And the crowd roars – I turned in over 52,000 words. It was an interesting exercise and I would recommend it for anyone who is writing.


So what did I win! I got this nifty certificate and the opportunity to take advantage of several discounts not available anywhere else at this time.  

I used the Scrivener compile function for the first time and there are things I like and don’t like, but I will see if it is just my ignorance of the system before I make up my mind. It was a lot easier creating a word doc then copy and pasting everything.

I have 52,246 on Scrivener and NaNoMoWriMo has 52,204. I have no idea why there is a difference, but in this instance it doesn’t matter.

Did I learn anything? My process works for me. I didn’t really get “Writer’s Block”. I took breaks, created mental distractions, walks, etc. and I didn’t write every day.  Some days I wrote less than my goal and others I wrote significantly more and I am okay with that. There were days that I could have made myself write more, but I could see where meeting the end goal was going to happen so I wasn’t worried.  

My official certificate allows another bragging right; “Veni, vidi, vici”, I came, I saw, I conquered.

 Fanni, Jennifer and Josh will have to patiently wait their turn. Derrick Garraghan and Katherine Culver have waited theirs and are bursting to get to their second round. It is a little strange not finishing the project, but this part of the learning curve that I expected and will let you know how this portion goes later on. So as of right now I have three works in progress with Derrick’s Deaths leading the parade.


Thanks for stopping by! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  

See ya at the Forge!



12 hours and NaNoWriMo Begins

Hi Everyone and especially those partaking in National Novel Writing Month,

I took the challenge because of a post someone posted in Writer’s Helping Writer’s group. They made it sound appealing and something that one should do, at least once, just to say one did it if nothing else. It sounded like an exciting challenge and I believe it will be.  I put working on my second draft of my current work in progress Derrick’s Deaths (working title still, my title advisor tells me it isn’t right) on hold, which is kind of strange for me. Challenge number one, I like to get it all done in a set order, but this may add a new dimension, or layer, or something to my writing as I take a protracted leave from it, returning with new ideas perhaps! So the NaNo challenge may provide more than just the ability to write a first draft in 30 days, we will see.

The hardest and for me annoying part of NaNoWriMo is the waiting to start. I am as prepared as I ever am,  before I begin so I am ready to go, waiting for tomorrow, November 1st  (fingers playing the desk piano).

NaNo - Deep Kayak
The master outline, my dictionary and thesaurus (tablet) and other memory notes at the ready.

I  dabbled at writing various other things including a book which is a continuation of Rozafa’s Secrets during the past two weeks. I didn’t plan on writing a sequel, but my Beta reader and test reader thought I should to explain what happens to the villain and they wanted to know what happened to him. I didn’t want to get too much into that as I get into a story and want to finish it then. I worked on a few location descriptions, and possible twists, things that I usually modify along the way. Then expand them in the second writing.

This waiting at the starting line is tough and we will see what happens.  I feel as if I know the characters better, but I worry maybe there is an edge I lost in waiting to start it. Additionally I am changing my villain’s and hero’s sex, a first for me. Is this really the time to change my perspective, but then when is it ever.

There is now about 12 hours before NaNoWriMo begins. I do not anticipate being at my desk at Midnight, at least I hope not. I imagine I will wake up at 05-0530 as usual, walk my dogs, drink a cup of coffee and hit my keyboard immediately after. I am hoping the  wine tasting event at the Italian Embassy hasn’t dulled my senses, it will be another test of resolve. Well if necessary I can forgo the coffee and open a nice bottle of Chianti with fruit for breakfast. Only kidding.

Good luck my fellow NaNoWriMo’s. May our pens float across the pages, cross our tees and dot our eyes (sic).

See ya at the Forge!



NaNoWriMo nears – but first…

Hello Everyone!

My wife and I spent this past week discovering Budapest. It is a wonderful city full of architectural splendors, magnificent forged works and shops galore. I found it to be larger than I expected, I don’t know why, just expected it to be smaller. It was much warmer than the 50s and 60s (10-16 Centigrade) we expected, but we had not a cloud in the sky with a breeze to enjoy by the river.

At the Citadel looking toward Pest

We stayed in a wonderful apartment that had a stunning forged handrail up all the flights of stairs. Our location provided us the option of walking, taking a trolley or subway. We found most everything within walking distance. They have two wonderful antique markets and we opted to go to the biggest one so we fired up the jalopy and off we went. We found some of the prices very high, but were able to find a few gems to bring home.

Academy of Science – from Danube

Of course we took in the Buda Castle which looks very much like a fairytale castle on the one side with its towers and stairways. At the citadel they have their version of Lady Liberty overlooking all of Budapest near the famous Chain Bridge. It is a lovely sight with the morning fog lifting off the Danube River.

Looking across the Danube

Budapest certainly stimulated ideas in my head for scenes and stories yet to come. I took many notes and several photos to remind of them in the future. There is still much to discover of Budapest and hopefully I will return soon. It has much to offer to visitors and residents (I think) to be inspired by.

On the return trip to Albania we stopped off at Sibenik, Croatia a town we had stopped outside of several times, but never visited. Old town is a wonderful medieval town with alleys, archways, windows and ironwork galore. It too will provide inspiration for scenes and stories for years to come. 

Sibenik sunset

National Novel Writing Month is only nine days away now and I will put everything on hold to produce a 50K word first draft in 30 days. It will prove to be an interesting challenge for sure. First drafts are those scribbles full of grammatical errors and poorly thought out verbiage. It is a grand challenge and I hope to see where it leads my protagonist and antagonist. Remember I am what they call a Planster; part Planner and part Panster (wait to see where the story goes). The working title is Deep Kayak, of course it will be changed and the story may change too!


Thanks for stopping by,

See ya at the Forge!


Editing Is Never Done!

Hi Everyone!

    I sent Derrick’s Deaths to my beta reader to ensure my storyline doesn’t have any holes or major flaws. It seems like just last month I was doing the same thing to Rozafa’s Secrets. I have the same apprehensions now that I did then. Time flies while you’re having a good time.

    We had our first snow in the mountains last night. The temperature here in Shkoder has dropped off to the point that long pants need to be worn every night now. My Hawaiian shirts are stored for the winter. If it gets cold like they predict my kayaking days are numbered until the spring. I am sure I will find a day or two a month to get on the water. I need some time to repaint the Brazilian’s bottom as it is all scratched up from running up on the rocky shores, especially this year as the water levels dropped so low in the lake.

    I hope to have Derrick’s Deaths back by the end of this month. Naturally I expect there to be snarky remarks and witty criticisms, that is what I asked for, what a masochist. Of course this happens just in time for me to start the National Novel Writing Month challenge. That’s where you write first draft consisting of 50K plus words. Last year I didn’t feel comfortable breaking my concentration of working on Rozafa’s Secrets, but this year because of Scrivener and it keeping all my plots and research organized I felt I could take the plunge and give it a try.

    I have a rough outline, putting some character basics together to start with and will do the rest while I am writing it. They call this a Planster – part Planer (obvious) and part Panster (flying by the seat of your pants). It is going to be a bit of a change for me so it will be interesting to see how it comes out. One of my main characters is a woman so capturing her personality correctly will be tough. Lucky for me it is only a first draft so I will have plenty of time in the 2nd draft to adjust her voice.

Thanks for stopping by!

See ya at the Forge!


Five Books Poster

Branding Master Dies

Hello Everyone,

   I am sure you heard Hugh Hefner passed away last night Sept 27, 2017 at the age of 91. For some he is “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” However you feel about him and his business empire should be put aside for a moment and look at how he was able to captivate and maintain an interest in his products and himself since December 1953 that is 64 years. He is Playboy.

   Now, I have to admit that his product did a lot of the selling itself, sex is always been easy to sell, but there was a lot more going on at Playboy than just the photo shoots. The magazine did interview many famous people. Hefner never stepped over the line to become seedy like so many other magazines; he remained tasteful and had something of interest besides just the centerfold. Others tried to emulate his platform and they all paled in comparison. So what did he do so well?

1- He understood his target market.  He combined markets by having something of value to different personalities and markets. Enter the intellectual voyeur (my term), after all he was charging 50 cents so the person buying his magazine in 1953 had to have some means to afford it.

2- He took a risk; he put his money to work for him in a non-traditional manner. That happens more and more today, but that first step eludes so many, the fear of the unknown.

3- Didn’t become locked into any one process or method if it wasn’t getting him where he wanted to go. He interviewed everyone of note: authors, politicians, performers, etc. He was a journalist and editor, who found time to read and write, between party times. He was a good businessman, so much of his posturing while real, was also packaging to make his goal of making money to support living the life he dreamed of.

  There is a common thread in his thinking, be different, find a niche, understand the niche, leave the niche if it doesn’t work. Yes, I am paraphrasing using my personal filters, you can too, but that is what I am hearing.

   In the coming week or weeks you will be hearing more and more about the mastery of his business acumen, but I think for us authors, artists and writers even if we can do just these three things we will have done a lot towards attaining our goals.

   Remember failure in any aspect is merely a step towards success.

Thanks for stopping by!



Front Cover - Rozafa