Book Sale on Kindle! The gothic MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH… is only 99 cents! Check out an excerpt!

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, Cover

“For now, let me warn you of the morbid and sad tale ahead of you. This is a
tale filled with horror, dark passages, ghostly apparitions, and deaths I would
give my last shilling to forget.”

For a limited time (and just in time for holiday shopping and holiday travels), my novel MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE is on sale on Amazon!

The eBook version is only 99 cents and the print version is only $9.89! If you enjoyed my other books (like A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM) or are curious about my fiction or simply want to read something new, different, and unlike anything you will find… well… anywhere, this is for you!

Honestly, this is not a book for everyone and I adore it for all of its madness. It is the kind of book as a reader I would love to discover lost and dusty on a library shelf. My goal in it was to break down the idea of storytelling and see what remains in the ruins of it… with a lot of humor, romance, horror and mystery roped in as well.

You can find the novel on amazon here (http://amzn.com/B00CXSDEBE).

If you would be interested in kicking the tires first, there is an excerpt below and more via the page for the book on this site here. Continue reading

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Why The Littlest Angel is the worst holiday story… ever

The First Cover for the "classic"When The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell was published in 1946 it was a holiday phenomenon. This “classic” story has since been published numerous times (with many different illustrated versions); made into movies (cartoon, musical, and live action); and in the list of best-selling children stories of all time (!) it comes up in the top 20. 

Heck, even holiday crooner Bing Crosby sang a song based on the plot of it! 

I remember the first time I heard this story. It was at catechism. and the teacher read it to us as if she was bestowing a great holiday gift on us children. I can still see her smile. While the other kids casually sat near me with crossed legs, I remember really being bothered by the story. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but that reaction to the tale has never gone away for me. And that day, I raised my hand for I had some questions.

My hand is still up in the air.

The fact is, after thinking about it far too much, and being haunted by it like Marley’s ghost each year, I can’t escape my problems with this narrative. I have come to the opinion that this Christmas traditional yarn is… just awful. Horrendous. Possibly the worst holiday story. Oh, God, it is just bad.

Okay, it takes a lot for a story to be a worst holiday yarn than the appalling song “The Christmas Shoes” (which for those lucky not to know is the materialistic and disturbing ditty about an ignorant child who leaves his dying mother’s bedside to go shopping, assuming that the shoes he puts on her feet will go with her soul to heaven and there impress Jesus), but The Littlest Angel does it. It does it ten times over.

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie, snuggle in by the fireplace, and let me tell you why… Continue reading

Ho Ho Ho! To celebrate 1000 blog followers I wrote a Christmas song!

Linus and the treeThis weekend, we put up our Christmas tree. We called it our “retro-tree” and used color lights and gold garland. Very 70’s. While we were doing this important activity, we listened to a holiday music station via our AT&T Uverse account. And, yes, while all of the classics were there, there were also a lot of bad Christmas songs on it.

A lot, a lot of bad Christmas songs…

Christmas donkeys, Suzy Snowflake, Alvin and the Chipmunks… It almost made me wonder if the person who planned the setlist had a hidden agenda. An agenda of holiday pain and bitterness. What did Santa do to them?

The fact is there is a trick to writing a good Christmas song (which I can tell you if you want), yet we still get horrendous new holiday songs each year (I wrote this post last year on the worst one I ever heard). Most bad holiday songs are around love and heartbreak and done by struggling pop artists. So to celebrate the fact that I’ve now REACHED 1000 BLOG FOLLOWERS, I’ve decided to enter the financial holiday gravy train.

“A Stocking Full of You”

If Snowflakes are daydreams
My lawn is covered with a thousand wishes of you-
When I sit on Santa’s lap
All I asked for was you in a bow-

(Chorus) You make my sleigh bells jingle-
You light up Rudolph’s nose-
Jump in your sleigh and head over-
It’s almost Christmas day-

Jack Frost and Frosty
Can’t freeze my longing heart-
All the Christmas songs are in minor keys
When they forget your smile-

(Chorus)

(Bridge) Santa likes his cookies-
Reindeers like their hay-
This year I have only one wish on my list-
Have I been naughty?
Have I been naughty?
Oh!

(Chorus)

(Chorus)

End

I expect all of the country singers and boy bands to send their checks directly to me from here to eternity.

Thanks for following my blog!

My Online Literary Experiment: Holiday Break!

One of my heroes!Sometimes like a coach, a writer has to make the right call for the team or athlete, no matter how unpopular the decision might be. (I am assuming this, I know nothing about sports.)

See, I realized today that it would be impossible to really create a first-rate chapter in time for this friday because of the holiday.

I have two little kids, and family to visit, etc., and the fact is I will be losing too many evenings writing. (Seriously, almost all of my evenings! It would’ve been hell and stressful. Not Christmas-y at all.) So I have decided that it would be best for the book that I delay the release of Chapter 23 by one week.

Yup, Chapter 23 will not be released now until January 4.

For those that might be worried that somehow the book/writing experiment might be in trouble so near the end, let me say loudly: NO WORRIES. I have a good first draft of the chapter ready, and if it was a normal week ahead there would have been no problem at all.

And also, do I want to be stressing this week about a chapter, writing until the wee hours, or instead waiting for Santa by the window with my kids? Sorry, readers the answer was obvious to me.  I’m a believer in the man in the red suit and the white beard.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a nice holiday. Rebecca, Jenn, Vince, Marty, Mary, Viv, Gordon, Steve, Ralph, Lilly, and even Bob will be back in the new year to end my new novel, Permanent Spring Showers.

(… Oh, and buy my new book A Jane Austen Daydream. It is quite lovely and filled with writing surprises [and only 99 cents on amazon right now!];  and will help you as you wait for the return of my little/massive experiment.)

Neil Diamond’s “A Cherry Cherry Christmas” is the Worst Christmas Song Ever! A Holiday Musical Rant.

It Even he doesn't look happy with the result...takes a lot to write a worse song than “Christmas Shoes.”

You could almost see a contest being created around the Herculean task. The title of the contest could relate to old, smelly sneakers or something.

Yet, in 2009 Neil Diamond would have won the coveted holey shoe without any trouble at all with his “A Cherry Cherry Christmas.” (You see how I did that? Because we are talking about the holidays and I said “holey” instead of holy?… Oh, nevermind.)

How did I escape this atrocity to the holidays for the last few years?

It might be my first proof of Christmas angels. (And not the little ones who are all alone with no toys to play with except a shoebox… Wow, I hate that children’s book; most depressing vision of the afterlife ever.) See, I love the holiday season and one of my little embarrassing quirks is each year I give the local radio stations a chance to prove to me that there is still the possibility of good Christmas music being made. Usually, they don’t succeed…

Actually, sadly, I can’t think of the last time they have convinced me that anyone should consider making a holiday CD at all again! Continue reading

The Christmas Accordion: Holiday 2012 Thoughts

I have three memories around my second grade teacher, Mr. Nyenhuis.

The first involved the time he dumped Dan Wheeler’s desk on the ground, showing what an absolute mess it was. Seriously, there was a smell coming from it that we all had to find out about. It couldn’t be natural.

The second memory was around my broken wrist. It was my first (and only) broken anything and I had to get up in front of the class and tell everyone about it. I remember the feeling of all of my fellow classmates’ eyes on me and their excitement as I got closer and closer to the moment I fell off the bars on a backyard play set (I remember doing an incredibly inaccurate “crunch!” noise). To this day, I point to that moment as one of the defining ones that turned me towards storytelling.

The last memory involved Mr. Nyenhuis, the holidays, and Christmas.

See, for every year I was in elementary school, on the last week of school before Christmas, we had a tradition at Parkview Elementary. All of the kids were led out to the hallway for a daily sing-along. Continue reading

The New Kid in the Audience: A Holiday Confessional

Hi, my name is Scott and I’m a Christmas-aholic. It has been two hours since I last listened to Nat King Cole sing “The Christmas Song.”

I love this season.

I always have.

I look forward to putting up the tree and buying presents (many times I have been known to do this in September and October… the presents, not the tree).

I love the stories that come up each year.  A Christmas Carol is in my opinion one of the few perfect works in literature (Right up there with Pride and Prejudice). Continue reading

Re-Blog: Thanksgiving Shadows

Some people love the middle child. That is what I learned after writing the piece on Thanksgiving. I even had people tell me after that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday, surpassing Christmas and Halloween… Really? Okay… Well, whatever you feel about this holiday, I hope you have a good one and you get to spend it with people that you love. I am honored to have the piece also running on GreenSpotBlue today. I hope you will check it out there as well- http://www.greenspotblue.com/world/2012/11/22/words-thanksgiving-shadows.html

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

It seems every year that Thanksgiving becomes more and more the great afterthought of the holiday season.

It is the hub between the ever more popular Halloween and Christmas, the great holiday hump day; in other words, like Wednesday it is not a weekend, but at least it isn’t Tuesday or Monday.

There are no Thanksgiving trees at Hallmark. No one has a turkey ornament. I have never received a Thanksgiving card

Worse, if you go to many stores today it is almost nonexistent in our world, except being remembered as the day before we can all shop like fiends… Well, some stores open Thanksgiving evening now, so maybe for the next generation Thanksgiving will become something akin to the food and water station at a marathon, the haven for that bit of energy before you get to it!

Run, my little shoppers, run…

Could it be argued that Black…

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Thanksgiving Shadows

It seems every year that Thanksgiving becomes more and more the great afterthought of the holiday season.

It is the hub between the ever more popular Halloween and Christmas, the great holiday hump day; in other words, like Wednesday it is not a weekend, but at least it isn’t Tuesday or Monday.

There are no Thanksgiving trees at Hallmark. No one has a turkey ornament. I have never received a Thanksgiving card

Worse, if you go to many stores today it is almost nonexistent in our world, except being remembered as the day before we can all shop like fiends… Well, some stores open Thanksgiving evening now, so maybe for the next generation Thanksgiving will become something akin to the food and water station at a marathon, the haven for that bit of energy before you get to it!

Run, my little shoppers, run…

Could it be argued that Black Friday has taken over Thanksgiving in importance? Possibly.  Our economy couldn’t live without Black Friday (and Cyber Monday); no one would say the same for Thanksgiving, save the Turkey farmers.

Gobble gobble, indeed. Continue reading

Music and My Writing Brain

I first learned the power of music in my writing while I was an undergrad in college. At that time, I was working on a story and for some unexplained reason I had to listen to The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky (This happens, now and then I get taken over by a certain “sound”). Anyway, so there I was in a writing class (it might have been a writing table, I don’t remember which) and I started to read the story… And I began to notice that the meter in my words mirrored Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies.

Yes, without realizing it, my character’s speech was actually set to music. I had to fight to control my giggles, now imagining my character on toes as he was speaking. I’m sure my reading began to seem ridiculous to the other writers there, but at that moment I knew I had a problem… and, of course, I knew I was going to have to rewrite the entire speech.

Well, since then I have figured out the potential impact music can have on my writing. While I have not let the cadence of a song take over a story again, certain artists and music became part of the creation process for me around different works.  Sometimes I use them to influence a mood I am hoping to create, sometimes they are just simply the soundtrack for the “world” I am “living” in. Here are five examples: Continue reading