Certainly! It's based on the old book club, music club, wine club gimmick. Sign up because of the really good deal, quit anytime!--anytime after you fulfill the terms of the ironclad contract. God forbid you forget to return the reply card with the featured selection, because you're going to pay dearly for the mistake....
Gah! I knew you'd ask me that. Can I plead the Fifth?
No. This is for posterity. Please be honest.
Well, I had a nice business going, built a house of light that my wife and I designed, life was looking good. Then, a month after we moved in my product manufacturer disconnected his phone lines, closed his doors, vanished with the molds, left us high and dry. On top of that, my wife came down with a life-threatening illness. I got behind with the IRS as I scrambled to take care of my wife while trying to get something else started to keep us going. One of their supervisors gave me a call, frontal assault, threatening liens, garnishments, the usual toppings that season a really bad day on a really bad year. I got him to promise me a week to get counsel; he lied, put a lien on the house the next day. I retained a prestigious local attorney. After months of battle, we settled. As I read the agreement, the attorney puffed out his chest, pointed to the numbers: "Look. I saved you twenty-five thousand dollars!"
I swirled my signature, looked him dead in the eye. "And isn't it funny? That's exactly what your fees came to." He spluttered and choked, but it was true. You see, to fight a beast, you have to hire a beast, and there is ALWAYS the matter of payment.
I believe you are born a storyteller. I had lunch with Terry Brooks once. He told me writers write because they have to. They have stories in them. It's their nature. But the biggest external influence was my grandmother. She was American Indian, Chippewa (Ojibwa) Nation, and she raised me in my formative years. She was an oral storyteller, spinning fresh stories by the fire each night from her imagination. Wonderful tales of talking bear and deer, mischievous elves and faeries, and a curious red-headed boy that was always getting into trouble and bore a striking resemblance to me! If I had a time machine, those are the days I would go back to. Since I don't have a time machine, I write.
My first professional fiction sale came at sixteen. I was a winner in Scholastic Inc.’s national writing contest. They must have circulated the winning entries in house, because one day I was sent a check for $100 from their magazine Science World with a print circulation of 500,000 per month! They published my science fiction story, "The Last Ray of Light."
From there, I entered numerous contests, and have won over thirty awards in writing--many published in newspapers, online forums and literary e-zines. The largest financially was winning my first year's tuition, room, and board to a private college. It was a good thing to happen to a kid who at that point was living in a foster home!
One of the most prestigious was winning a contest sponsored by New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. My winning entry became the conclusion to her novella, "Riley Slade's Return." Yeah, now I can say I have written romance, and with Nora Roberts no less!
Another was winning the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds contest. I am now an official Trek author, and appear--under another Moon--in all the massive Trek databases (I am interviewed in the tome Voyages of the Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion). That story was “Seventh Heaven,” published by Simon and Schuster’s Pocket Books Division in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds II. A Borg Love Story. What could be sweeter? You can get a copy from Amazon. I am very proud of that story.
I have an entrepreneurial spirit--I learned from a young age that if I wanted to survive, I'd have to fend for myself. My first big business was in multi-folding ladders--one ladder becomes all! I had some great corporate accounts, like Target Stores. Then, it was touch-free public restrooms, utilizing LED technology. You won't find it in any history books, but I pioneered that project, and my little company made all the big restroom supply companies in the U.S. scramble, because they were behind the times. It took them five years before they caught up with copycat products and started underpricing me. I had a good run--my accounts with international airports, national restaurant chains, and retail corporations across the U.S. brought change to the entire industry.
After that, I entered the financial industry, not only selling financial products, but running a publishing business utilizing my direct sales marketing experience. I've written and published manuals, brochures, mailers, corporate logos--you name it--complete advertising from the ground up for big venture companies of the time. Writing is writing, but writing about money, while it paid the bills, didn't feed my soul, and I moved on. To the breathtaking San Juan Islands, actually.
There, I moved from designing corporate logos to painting watercolors, and opened a public studio. People liked my work, so I began to teach, and have taught hundreds of students how to take one of the most difficult art forms and make it fun and easy to work.
I also added torchwork to my skills, making Venetian styled glass beads, and my wife made jewelry with them. We needed a bigger venue, and bought a boutique that put our work on the waterfront of Friday Harbor, in the oldest building in town, the original 1880s mercantile. It was a magical store with breathtaking views of the harbor, yachts, and ferries, and it gave our work an international audience.
Now, at 55, I've retired from all of that. I'm tired of writing fiction on the side. So my latest venture? Writing science fiction and fantasy. Full time.
Och, aye, herself be seeking a wee dram? A good single malt? Why not ask for a great single malt and be done with it, lass? I'm sure it'll come to fisticuffs with your Scottish readers, but you started it! Steer clear of Glenfiddich 12 year--we owe them for creating the single malt industry, but by god it's not the end-all, be-all. Good would Macallan 18, an excellent sherried malt, soft and feminine, like the Speyside. Better would be the robust and peaty Lagavulin 16, as rugged as windswept Islay, and I daresay the casks get infused with a bit of the spirit of the Lord of the Isles that reigned there. And best? Best would be Springbank from old Campbeltown, on the Kintyre Peninsula. Oldest family run distillery in Scotland, and the tradition shows. Didn't hurt that they hired Frank McHardy, industry legend, to run their operations. My wife and I were passing through on a Sunday afternoon, no less, and I gave his cell a call. When I mentioned my supplier's name in the States, he quit his game of golf on the spot and came right down to open those iron gates and give us a private tour. Amazing place, everything old stone and timber, totally hand done, even the turning of moist barley in the malt house. Frank took us into his office at the end, pointed to his collection, asked us what we'd like to taste. I asked him to pick his favorite. He poured us each a Springbank 35. You could smell it as soon as he poured, a subtle and heady perfume, laced with scents of vanilla bean, seasoned oak, luscious caramel. Perfection. That flavor lingered on our palate for the rest of the day.
So, Springbank. Older the better--I'm not as pleased with their younger expressions. Go 21 yr, 25 yr, 30 yr, and yes, the 35. My absolute favorite is the 1966, the last from their coal fired stills. But these are all quite precious, and some impossible to come by. So I'll tell you a secret. Highland Park from the Orkney Isles is almost as good, and you won't be giving your arm or leg to come by it, just a few fingers. Try the 18 year old. You won't be sorry.
Yes, I am the founder of an online gaming guild known as The Forest Guard, with thousands of members over its 12-year history, about 300 active at present. I based the training and guild hierarchy on wolf pack stratagems, and I hold the rank of Big Bad Wolf. Our motto is: Good people first, good players second, and we are DAMN good players. These guys are great--when I asked my officers to take over so I could write, they never complained. For their tremendous support, thank you for allowing me to give this howl out to them. Go TFG!
One of the coolest things? Underwater cavern diving in the Yucatan. There, saltwater meets freshwater, and since it's denser than fresh, it rests on the cavern floor. The freshwater is crystal clear underground--you can't see it until you breathe out--so it looks like you're floating in space like an astronaut. It's pitch black, but when you shine your flashlight on the stalagmites below, the dense saltwater resting around them reflects the light, so it's like you're looking down at mirror pools, as if liquid mercury fills every depression. And then you descend into it, and as your buddy hits the halocline, he warbles in front of you and vanishes! Completely disappears right in front of your eyes because of the way denser saltwater refracts light. It's incredible to experience, and you feel like you're swimming on the edge of a Klingon cloaking field.
One of the more dangerous things? I've done wreck dives, but that's never felt dangerous to me. But if you've seen the Paul Walker movie, Into the Blue, you've seen the very place in the Bahamas where I dove with sharks. Dive masters feed them there the same time every day, so they know when to come around looking for a meal. We sank to the bottom, and the dive masters pulled out chunks of fish. Boom. Sharks appeared from nowhere. I watched the masters push them away with their hands or staffs when the sharks got too close and thought, Wouldn't it be cool to say I touched a shark? I mean, they were swooping in so close, I was being pushed backwards by their wake! So I put my hand to my chin, waiting. The next time one rolled past and stopped to feed, I stared directly at his tail and reached out. By the time my fingers got to its tail, it wasn't a tail, it was the shark's nose, its glassy eyes deciding if I had offered my fingers for its next meal. I had watched it the whole time, and I had never blinked! I discovered that day sharks can move faster than the eye can see. I whipped my hand back, crossed my arms, tucked both hands under my armpits. I like my fingers. I'm glad I didn't part with them. They're really handy when it comes to writing...
These days, I love going out on my boat, shrimping, crabbing, and fishing salmon and halibut. The sea is a harsh mistress, but she always sings to me.
There's more info on my new website, driftweave.com on the "About Wulf Moon" and "Blog" tabs. Please drop by and by all means, say hello by posting a comment or joining my mail list for updates! I'd love to hear from you!
Like I said, writing fiction full time is a new venture for me. My first novel was a Star Trek novel, and there's only one place you can sell one. Unfortunately, they declined. But Donald Maass of the Donald Maass Literary Agency represented me on it, and Don has requested the epic fantasy I'm working on, Driftweave. Alas, it's at 100,000 words and is honestly about a third done. I'm well aware I'm going to need to garnish some other successes before we can talk a publisher into taking on that big beast.
To that end, I'm finishing a lighter novel before the end of this year, Frog Got Legs, which takes punches at the pharmaceutical industry for creating today's opioid epidemic. It's satirical humor, Pratchettesque-styled tongue-in-cheek.
After that, I'm expanding a novella into a novel. It's a high seas historical fantasy set in the Spanish Main. And then, back to Driftweave.
Many things at once. Here goes:
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham--because the BBC series is so good, I had to start reading the books. Incredible play of words in his descriptions, and he wrote clean dialogue that puts many pro writers to shame even today. And he wrote this in 1945? Amazing.
Strange Beasties in trade paperback edited by Juliana Rew--because it's nice to know your neighbors.
Writers of the Future, Vol. 29, edited by David Farland--because I want to be their neighbor. Dave is the coordinating judge, and he's given me a stack of certificates from honorable mention to semi-finalist, and like any good detective, I'd like to crack this case once and for all.
The Children of Hurin, by J.R.R. Tolkien--because I missed this one!
The Lost Amazon: the Pioneering Adventures of Richard Evans Schultes, by Wade Davis--because you had to be on drugs or in search of drugs to go into the uncharted Amazon alone. This guy was fearless!
Letter to a King, translated by Christopher Dilke--because how often do you get to read the history of the Inca by an Incan royal of the 16th Century? Treasures of the Spanish Main by John Christopher Fine--because I'm a diver, and a man can dream, can't he?
Editor's Note: If you enjoyed "Beast of the Month," please grab the anthology it appeared in, Strange Beasties, available via www.thirdflatiron.com or via Amazon (ebook/print).
Copyright 2017, Third Flatiron Publishing