Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Writer's Bend Visits The Attic

The following was originally posted on The Writer's Bend, my author page on Facebook...Click for more info.
"The wisdom of the attic was in my bones, etched on my brain, part of my flesh."  - from the chapter 'Endings, Beginnings'

Yes, it was the recent made-for-Lifetime movie that inspired my decision to revisit FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC.  Many years have passed since I last read this controversial novel from 1979 and now, older and allegedly wiser, I found a fresh perspective.

I recall during my long-ago initial read that I feared and hated the steely, emotionless grandmother more than any other character.  This time I found myself fearing and absolutely loathing the mother, a wretched creature that is the true witch in this dark tale of loss, hope, abandonment and forbidden love.  Corrine Foxworth would make an excellent wife to Guy Woodhouse from Ira Levin's "Rosemary's Baby".  The vile duo could live happily ever after selling their souls for wealth, while betraying the ones they profess to loving most.

There is one more thing I must add.  While revisiting the Dresden Dolls in their attic garden/prison, I realized how much this book influenced my own writing.  Subconsciously, Anapola Van Der Van (from "Dark Excursions") must have been partly inspired by an amalgamation of the grandmother and mother.  Damaged and harsh characters aside, there is a seed of something in V.C. Andrews that reminds me a little of myself.

Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,




Thursday, March 20, 2014


One year ago this week my first e-book was released.  I still recall that not-so-long-ago day as a little scary and seriously thrilling, plus filled with doughnuts!

In honor of this personal occasion, I offer to you, Readers, one of my favorite chapters from DARK EXCURSIONS: first set.  Here you will experience a meeting between a former stable boy and a Russian tennis instructor...
Chapter 12

We now take you to a tavern...

    Crop Hoppins sits on a stool in a dimly lit tavern.  It is his first stop since the church, but not his first drink.  He slides the empty glass away.

    "Another?" the bartender asks.  Crop responds with a quick nod.

    "Put that on my tab, Pete."

    The husky accented voice and firm hand on his shoulder startles Crop out of his thoughts.  The broken man swivels on the stool to come face to face with Ivan.  He is amused to see that the tall, blond, muscular man is still dressed for a tennis lesson.  There is an expectation to see a racket somewhere, but one is nowhere to be found.

    Crop waves a dismissive hand, "Sorry…"

    "I do not understand."  Ivan takes a step back and studies him curiously, "You want another drink, so I buy you another drink."

    Crop stares at him with some confusion, “Luchia said—“

    Ivan, suddenly aware, interrupts with a vigorous laugh.  He then lunges forward and grabs Crop's shoulders, giving them an amiable shake.  "If Luchia does not have her way, she will say anything…” a wry grin slides onto his face, “…whether it be true or false.  My offer is a friendly gesture to a fellow comrade of Luchia's wrath."

    Crop furrows his brow in more confusion, “What has she done to you?”

    "Grab your drink and come sit with me," Ivan commands.  Crop swivels and the bartender hands him a whiskey without ice.  He then follows Ivan to a dark booth in an even darker part of the tavern.

    Ivan collects his thoughts, takes a sip of his drink and begins to speak, but not of Luchia.  "My parents left Mother Russia when I was in womb.  They wanted me birthed in the 'land of opportunity.'  In my youth, I learned tennis but never became good enough for Wimbledon or even French Open.  So, I became an instructor."  He takes another sip.  "Luchia hired me for lessons but also wanted me for sex.  I let her flirt and fondle at first, but today I was done.  I told her sex would never happen and she discharged a round of tennis balls upon me, effectively terminating my employment.”

    Crop takes a large sip and shakes his head, "To think she is going to be a mother."

    "Ah!" the husky voice rips through the tavern, "This is what your argument concerned!"

    "More or less.”

    "Are you positive the child is yours?  Luchia is not known for chastity."

    Crop, overwhelmed with the dread of permanently losing Cheryl, had not considered this possibility.  "I know for certain it cannot be her husband's.  As for another man's...maybe."

    Ivan throws his hands into the air, "If she says it's your babe, you must deal with it!"  His large fists slam the table, "Pete, another round!"  He smiles wildly at Crop and slips into his parents’ native tongue.

    "What does that mean?"

    "Drink first—action later!" Ivan loosely translates and then explains. "You need to take action against your frustrations and so do I!"  He offers Crop a business card, "If you ever need a lesson, give Ivan a call."

    He accepts the card and fully studies the instructor, sensing the double meaning in this offer.  As the bartender brings the adult beverages, Crop reiterates to himself what he had told the priest: nothing matters now.

Copyright 2013,  John L. Harmon

For further information on this e-book (available for Amazon Kindle and other Kindle App-compatible devices) please click on one of the following Amazon links...
US    UK    CA    AU   

FR    DE     ES    IT   

JP    BR     IN     MX  


Don't forget to read Chapters 32 & 64 and excerpts from the fourth set...
Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,


P.S.  Click WHIP to read about the excursion behind Dark Excursions.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Tale as Old as 1987

Where shall I begin?   Do I begin In the 1980's with hazy recollections or do I start in 2011?  Yes, I believe the 21st Century is the time to begin this tale of a freakboy, his sister, and a television series quite different from any series on during its brief run.

In July of that not-so-long ago year, I was visiting the city of Omaha, Nebraska.  Well, visiting is not quite accurate.  Technically I was being retained for my triple-threat abilities of pseudo-nanny, dog-watcher, and house-sitter, but that is another blog entry for another day. During a moment of seriously much-needed free time I made a beeline for my favorite Omaha book/movie/music store.

Half Price Books, located on 123rd & West Center, near Hooters, is a wonderland for the avid reader, watcher and/or listener!  I was meticulously scanning the various shelves of various sections when I froze solid in front of the DVD discount shelf.  Typically this shelf is a haven of films that everyone has seen and nobody wants, but that day there were two items I knew my sister would want and how!

I reached up and removed the first two seasons of the 1980's series BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  Even though it was the discount shelf, I was still stunned by the low, low price of 5 dollars a season!  I knew this was a purchase that must happen because my sister would love this brilliant and unexpected find.  My only disappointment was that the final season was nowhere to be found.

After my triple-threat abilities were no longer required, I headed home with Linda Hamilton as Catherine and Ron Perlman as Vincent packed in my bag.  To say my sister was thrilled would be an understatement, and she wasn't horribly disappointed that I had not found the final season.  She recalled the short third season to be underwhelming, if not completely terrible.

We immediately began watching the first season (which originally aired in 1987 - 1988).  She remembered a lot, but I only recalled the couple of episodes she had acquired on VHS, and even then my recollections were, as I previously stated, hazy.   However, I must admit that no matter how hard I struggled against it, I was being drawn into this romantic fairy tale world of Catherine and Vincent.  Each time it looked as if they were about to kiss but then hugged instead, I nearly screamed...and don't get me started about their 'souls' kissing at the end of the season!  Yet, that season-ender was not near as frustrating as the cliffhanger ending of the second season (1988 - 1989).

It would have been extremely easy to order the final season off the internet or from a store, mainly to see how the cliffhanger was resolved, but my sister chose to wait.  Her reasoning partly stemmed from her belief that the final season was less than worth it and also from the thrill of the search.  Perhaps it was the magical aspect of Beauty and the Beast that gave sense to this decision.

A few years clicked by until February 2014 innocuously rolled around and with it a little trip to Kearney, Nebraska.  A family gathering had been planned, one which would involve basketball, card tricks, chocolate turnovers, and a stop at my favorite Kearney book/movie/music store called Hastings.  Just take an East turn on the hilltop and you will find it next to Hobby Lobby.

My sister and I divided once inside Hastings and commenced with browsing.  Soon I found myself among science-fiction film titles, not looking for anything in particular.  Suddenly a flash of blue was shoved in front of my face and I instantaneously recognized the cover to the final season (1989 - 1990).  In a display showcasing how much this series got under my skin, I took off my snarky, annoying little brother cap and expressed genuine excitement and eagerness for my sister's surprising find!

We were soon involved in a viewing marathon, having decided to watch the first two seasons again before starting on the third.  As for this long-awaited final season, the first two episodes resolved the second season cliffhanger and then did the unthinkable.  Killing off one of the title characters is a risky move and I can see why my sister originally disliked this season.  The initial shock surely tainted the remaining episodes.  Yet time has a way of making us forgive, and in the end we both found the final season of Beauty and the Beast intriguing and completely worth the wait.

If you are interested, here is the opening titles to the first two seasons...

Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,

P.S.  We attempted to watch the CW remake of Beauty and the Beast, but it failed to capture either of our imaginations.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Writer I Am

Mind motionless.                            
A single outside word or image.    
A random unfocused thought.       
One of these influences clicks into place, causing my rusty mental gears to grind in motion.  Soon one idea connects to another and another until my mind is sparking all over, lighting up like a starry night sky.                        
Inspiration is required to send me off to my personal world of words.  Whether it is tales of fiction populated with damaged people or stories of real life with a freakboy, I can never anticipate when this inspiring trigger will occur.  It just does and I find myself flying on creative currents.                             
This is the type of writer I am.            

(this has been my attempt at a Twog - n. a short blog entry of roughly 140 words)

Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,       

my amazon author page

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I could probably write a book about the many unusual incidents I have experienced at various libraries.  The following was written in 2010 after an unusual incident at the Broken Bow Public Library that involved me and The Library Cat. 

It is dedicated to the memory of the best feline literary companion a boy could ever have…




(a true experience)

by John L. Harmon 


    I once believed my lap was well within my personal space.  A sacred area that could only be breached upon my strict permission and even then it would be enter at your own risk.  Now, after a most eventful excursion to the Broken Bow Public Library, I am left feeling quite uncertain about boundaries and mentalities.

    The day started, like most strange days often do, as perfectly ordinary, even typical.  I awoke in darkness, assisted in the distribution of bad news, breakfasted, and then read said bad news.  The Garfield strip was thoroughly entertaining, so life was good while I utilized various toiletries.

    After a citrus-scented shower, I gathered up library essentials.  It would be impossible to leave the house without my blue five-subject notebook.  I may have to take notes or type whatever mad rambling I am currently focused on, such as this.  As a companion to my notebook, a blue plastic folder/binder is a nice fit.  It provides excellent protection for anything I print, whether it be from damp substances or unsightly creases.

    I also grab whatever book I am currently reading.  That day it was "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" by J.K. Rowling, which was blissfully shorter than the previous hernia-inducing doorstop.  To top off this studious collection: a BIC Cristal.  This is a wonderfully inexpensive pen that writes fluidly until the ink is visibly gone.  Once you've gone BIC, nothing else will do the trick!

    I slipped the exalted writing utensil in my breast pocket, without a protector (I'm a geek, not a nerd, thank you) and threw on my black pullover jacket.  Then, with my hands full, I awkwardly petted Gray Kitty and stepped out into the pleasant February air, neither knowing nor expecting the mind-reeling experience that was waiting for me and another simply-named feline.

    To reach the library I walked through Broken Bow's downtown.  While the area is not quite a Petula Clark wonderland, there are interesting sights to behold.

    A clinic, with all female doctors, stands across the street from two pharmacies.  It could be described as the downtown medical district or a prescription junkie's paradise, either way it is conveniently located.  Nearby, in the middle of our Shirley Jackson-ish town square, sits a towering gazebo (well, bandstand, technically).  The plainly beautiful structure has not only inspired me creatively, but is also the home of fragrant childhood memories.

    Finally, after passing the stately post office and a faintly unsettling headstone business, I arrived at the Broken Bow Public Library.  In case of confusion, the name is displayed in big letters on the side of the long, dark brick building, accentuated with white brick trim.  On the roof is an Aztec pyramid formation that is a source of natural light inside.  Back down on the ground two sidewalks, forming an awkward V, converge upon the single front door.

    I entered that door, stepping into the muted mustard yellow entryway.  A small bench, surrounded by prickly plant decorations, sits in a corner with a piece of modern art hanging beside it.  The colorful painting is a fascinating study in duality, at least from my perspective.  When I stand to the left my focus is on melding blocks of light blue, beige, and white, like looking into a slice of Heaven.  Standing on the other side shifts my focus to red, black, and sickly yellow, a dark view into Hell.  It would soon become apparent which side of the painting followed me through the second door and into the library.

    The front desk beckoned and I did what I almost always do first, signed in for computer use.  I chatted with the librarians about nothing specific as I pressed pen to paper.  Then I wandered over to one of the five computers arranged in a half circle, the Aztec pyramid above.  I plopped down on one of the edges, which I often seek out so I am not sandwiched between two people.

    There were things I should have been doing with the allotted time.  Researching on-demand publishers, performing more of the Final Edit, or even continuing my Classic Doctor Who education, but for some reason I wasn't feeling it.  Instead, I putzed around, mainly looking up random films and television programs on Internet Movie Database.

    After an enjoyable waste of time, I meandered back to the front desk to sign out, knowing who would be waiting for me: TLC, aka The Library Cat, though he is more commonly known as Top Library Cat.  He was introduced to me with the The, which stuck, but I often endearingly refer to him as "Library Kitty."  He is average size, with a dark gray coat accented by white feet, chin, and belly.  His fur is short and a little rough, much like his temperament.

    Over the years I have learned the proper amount of attention to lavish upon him.  Occasionally an overdose of petting causes TLC to become rather feisty, and sometimes he is downright naughty for no discernible reason.  He has bitten my belly, clamped his teeth on my arm, and attacked my legs after putting him on the floor.  Somehow he has never drawn blood, from me, anyway.

    After signing out, TLC followed (or lead) me to our usual chair located near the periodicals.  It is a cozy area with a fireplace and greenery, like a study or a den.  I placed my coat and library essentials on the floor at my left, sat down, and then our dance commenced.  He sat down on my right and looked expectantly up at me.  I reached my hand down for him to rub his face on.  After being approved, I leaned back and patted my lap.  TLC wriggled in anticipation and then leaped up, happily purring.  He walked around my lap in small circles, allowing me to pet him, before he stretched out for his late-morning catnap.

    I carefully bent over, picked "Harry Potter" up off the floor, and settled back.  TLC was already half asleep when I briefly and tenderly cupped the back of his head, and then opened my book.  It was at this relaxing moment we heard an ominous call.

    "Kitty, kitty, kitty."

    Initially, I figured the squeaky voice was emitting from an annoying little kid, but I only got two of my three assumptions correct.  I peered over "The Half-Blood Prince," my eyes widening at the sight of a short woman barreling in our direction.  This oncoming individual was not unknown to me because of her husband being an acquaintance of mine.

    "You stole my cat!" the familiar woman screeched, grinding to a halt in front of us.

    My startled mind barely processed the complete falsehood of her accusation when she reached out and petted TLC as if he were a puppy, which annoyed not only him.  Firstly, he is an adult cat.  Secondly, I am accustomed to adults and children petting TLC while he rests on my lap, but they ask first or at least keep it brief with an air of tentativeness.  This woman was something else entirely.

    As if to confirm that last statement, she attempted to coax him off my lap by waving her arms and commanding, "Come're kitty.  Come with me."  TLC was having none of this, which I admit, filled me with immense satisfaction.  I was preferred, the chosen one, if you will excuse the "Harry Potter" reference.

    I thought this woman had at last given up when she walked away, possibly to attend a Lullaby League meeting.  Alas, I was wrong.  She was off telling everyone and their mother how I stole her cat!  "The Half-Blood Prince" swirled as I rolled my eyes, feeling utterly annoyed and having completely underestimated the lengths this woman would go.  That is when IT happened...the unthinkable, the unbelievable, the wholly unappealing.

    This determined, deranged woman stormed back over to us, once again accusing me of feline thievery.  Just when I thought this routine was becoming seriously old, she invaded my bathroom area with one swift movement, effectively removing TLC from my person.

    I sat flabbergasted, for many reasons, mainly because this near-stranger penetrated my personal space, but also because of her flagrant feline-ignorance.  Even during the stunningly horrific moment, as she lifted TLC from my lap, I managed to utter, "He's going to bite you."

    Sure enough, within seconds of her taking a seat not too far away, TLC reacted accordingly.  Then, as if she hadn't done enough already, this increasingly irritating woman complained to the librarians.  Complained that TLC was being mean and that they should shut him away for a while.

    I was upset by this.  No.  I was freakin' livid!  So much so that I vocally bounded to TLC's defense by explaining, in a loud and possibly whiny voice, how she came over and took him off my lap!  Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and TLC did not get shut away because, as one of the astute librarians pointed out, he probably just wanted to sleep on my lap.

    The woman disappeared into the shelves and TLC wandered in back to cool down with food and drink, leaving me alone to read.  It was exceedingly difficult to focus on the magical words in front of me.  Perhaps I was feeling territorial or just plain violated, but literary concentration was a distant land.  I even slapped the open book against my forehead, trying to gain control, but it was a no-go situation.  All I could think was, How dare she grab him off my lap and then try to get him in trouble!

    It was at this point I seriously considered leaving.  I couldn't read.  TLC had not returned, and even if he did, that woman was still lurking about.  I wasn't sure if I could handle another rousing chorus of "You stole my cat!" and if the police would consider my potential reaction justifiable.  Then, when I was just about to rise, TLC strolled around a corner.

    I still contemplated leaving, reliving the screechy accusation in my head, but he came back!  It meant that he did not blame me for that woman's repugnant behavior!  How could I refuse him?  So, like a whore with greenbacks thrown at my feet, I patted my lap and told him, "Come on."

    You would think that would be the end of this tale, reading and napping happily ever after, but there is a little more.  While the odious woman was off being obnoxious in another area of the library, her husband—the established acquaintance of mine—arrived on the scene.

    He seemed genuinely unaware of the events that had just transpired as he stood and chatted with me.  TLC slept through our protracted conversation of old times, new times, and in-between times.  The topic inevitably veered toward his...most...interesting...wife.

    I discovered she is partially deaf, which did not change my rather negative opinion.  That particular genetic wiring does not give one carte blanche to behave like an undisciplined child.  Then, as if to test my sympathy and empathy, I was informed of how she had been mercilessly teased in school.  Typically, I rally around my fellow Carries, but not this time.  My mind turned Siberian, Color me unsurprised.  There might have been a reason...

    Before I knew it she reappeared, possibly as a punishment for my frigid thoughts, and informed her husband that I (drum roll please) stole her cat.  It took massive fortitude not to grimace and/or roll my eyes.  TLC, of course, woke up at the shrill of her voice and she petted him rather roughly again.  I froze, waiting for IT to reoccur, but she thankfully ventured no further into my personal space.

    Her husband must have known her charge was imaginary, or he's sadly used to her wild outbursts, because all he inquired of me is if TLC had ever bit me.  I explained that when in a bad mood he does, but mostly he is a peaceful feline, at least with me.  Though I did mention how it took me a good chunk of time to achieve even this sometimes tenuous level of compatibility.

    Satisfied with my answer, husband and wife blissfully vacated the Broken Bow Public Library.  I remained there for longer than usual so TLC could nap and I could read more of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"—a hard-earned reward for surviving our trip to crazy.

    Yes, I once believed my lap to be well within my personal space, and perhaps it still is, but notions surrounding the defiled area have changed.  I now tense when a potentially unstable mentality approaches my boundary, for I can no longer be certain of their feline intentions.  A pet or a grab?  The only thing I am certain of is if IT happened once, IT can happen again. 





For a better understanding of the environment in which this unusual incident occurred, feel free to view the following You Tube video… (I was sitting in the chair by the holiday tree when my lap was violated)

Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Meanwhile on Planet Tongue...

    "This is war!" President Bitter shouts to the General of War and Salt.  "We have tried almost everything to subdue the enemy's sweetness!  Even the Artificial Sweetener Aftertaste Lasers failed!"
    "Are you suggesting we use...?"  The General of War and Salt dares not finish the question, for that would make the option all too real.  Even a general of war, who generally enjoys an occasional war, feels a certain uncertainty over what horror may come next.
    "That is exactly what I'm suggesting, General.  I am not fond of this decision, but the enemy has brought us to this unspeakable moment."
    "With all due respect, President, have you considered what this will mean, not just for the enemy, but for us as well?"
    President Bitter falls into contemplative silence.

* * * * * *

    "The information is empirical!" President Sweet shouts to the General of War and Sugar.  "Just as their lasers failed, so have our Vinegar Tanks!  Our arsenal to subdue the enemy's bitterness has been depleted!"
    "Not quite depleted," the General suggests with hesitation.  This general would rather not suggest the unsuggestable, but must concede to the parameters of the position.
    "Yes, General, I am aware of our final piece of artillery and its destructive force."
    "Then there is only one question left, President.  Do you unleash it upon our enemy, knowing how far its force will spread?"
    President Sweet falls into silent contemplation.

* * * * * *

    Two lovers meet, in the clandestine way that forbidden lovers often meet, on what can be described as the epicenter of the ongoing war.  The unmarked boundary between their volatile lands, where most would fear to tread due to the close proximity of a perceived enemy, is their secret place.  Forbidden lovers, such as these, know only the fear of never being together.
    "I wasn't sure if you would make it, Aflob."
    "I wasn't sure either, Bloot.  Tensions are escalating."
    An oppressive atmosphere fills their entwined souls.  The war between their respective lands pains them as much as it reinforces their unwavering loyalty for one another.  Now the forbidden lovers find themselves on the edge of oblivion.
    "There has been an announcement," Aflob states grimly.  "President Bitter is prepared to detonate the Novocaine Bomb."
    "President Sweet has made a similar announcement," reveals Bloot.  "It seems like there is no turning back from this."
    "The whole planet is doomed if this stupid war continues."
    "They are so blinded by the fact we taste differently that they fail to realize we all taste."
    "Swallow them all..." Aflob begins to curse.
    " the Gullet," Bloot finishes.
    Joint cursing dissolves the melancholic talk of war and the Novocaine Bomb and sparks a far more personal conversation.  A conversation of each other.
    "I sense you, Bloot."
    "I sense you more than anything, Aflob."
    "Then let us embrace this fragile moment and make sweet sense together while we still can."
    As the forbidden lovers begin to make sense, creating a sensation new to this planet, a tingling, fuzzy feeling sweeps over them.  Initially they do not take heed, believing this feeling to be a byproduct of making sense, but then the devastating truth hits them a moment too late.  A heavy thickness overpowers every other sensation, causing the lovers to lull listlessly to one side.  In a short time Planet Tongue and its inhabitants have fallen numb, never to feel anything again.
                                         (photos and story by John L. Harmon)
For another sci-fi tale click PLUTO

Be well & Freak Out.