Captain Maven and the Shadow Man – Paperback Available Now!

Huzzah!

At long last, the paperback copy of Captain Maven and the Shadow Man is available!

Here’s a bit about the book:

It’s Christmas time in Ottawa.

Captain Maven is a superhero with a broken heart. After a bad breakup, he hasn’t been himself. The other superheroes in their group have been worried about him, but all he can do lately is look into his cup of power and remember what used to be. Finley, who controls fire, tells Maven to call his ex, but Maven knows that he can’t do that. He’d rather be miserable, even if it is Christmas.

When the nefarious Cracklepuss starts to kidnap children, they all know that they don’t have much time. However, this time Cracklepuss is not acting alone. There is a man that walks in the shadows, thankfully Captain Maven seems to have drawn the shadow man’s attention. When the shadow man endangers Gregory, Captain Maven’s ex boyfriend, Maven knows that their time is limited.

Can they save Gregory, find the shadow man and rescue children and the city of Ottawa from oblivion all before Christmas? A superhero’s job is never done!

You can get your copy HERE!

This novella came out in an odd way during a difficult time. I truly hope you enjoy Captain Maven’s first adventure as he strives to safe the people of Ottawa and his love life.

Another Year of You – A Poem

* For Marg with love

For as long as I’ve known you,

you have been a symbol of strength

for me, being brave enough to

carve out a new path for yourself

when you didn’t like the one

that you found yourself on.

You have had to handle a wide mantle

of emotions, but have always been able

to see the good in others and yourself,

even when life made that difficult.

Often, you have reminded me,

with sage words of advice,

which direction I should head in

when I’ve lost my way.

You make such a difference

in all the lives that you touch

and in every life that surrounds yours.

 We celebrate you every day,

honouring you and the gift that you are

in all of our lives.

As we come together to honour you,

we celebrate another year

of having you fill our lives with

the gift of joy

that only you can bring.

On Shadows and Patience

I’ve only had one book come out this year.

Normally, I would have had a book with one of my publishers come out and I would have self published several books. I remember years where I had a new release almost every month. I would be writing one book, editing one book and promoting another. Even during the pandemic, I had a lot of releases.

Around the end of 2021, I realized that I couldn’t keep going at that speed. I was wearing myself out and I needed to take the time to fall in love with the act of writing again. I knew that my new years resolution would be to slow down and really take care of myself and find the balance that was lacking in my life. I realized that it wasn’t the amount of work I published, it was the quality of the words that I wrote that mattered more.

At the end of every year, I write a holiday themed story and give that away to my readers. I wrote one for 2021, but it ended up being a novella instead of a story. That novella ended up being Captain Maven and the Shadow Man. Though it is a tale of a band of superhero’s that all have different powers, and they work to keep the streets of Ottawa safe, it’s a personal story for me like all of my work. This was my attempt to make a frightening situation like having to take chemo into something lighter.

I decided to try something different. Instead of publishing it on a free to read service, I would publish a chapter a day on my blog. The one drawback was that I couldn’t tell how many people downloaded it, though my blog got quite an increase in readership, which was lovely.

Part of my decision for doing that was to not have another release that would fall into the shadows, lost amongst the shuffle of the other books I had released that year. The story was special and meant a lot to me, so I wanted to try something different and see what would happen. However, the story I wrote nagged me a little. It wanted to go out into the world and sparkle.

In April of 2022, I published the ebook through Amazon and Kobo. Again, I thought that was it, that publishing the ebook was all I was going to do, it was out there in the world. I kind of put it out there with little to no ceremony, a random blog post and some fanfare, but that was it. For some reason, it occurred to me in September to try and put out another paperback. I knew that it would not be a Halloween tale, but that I would finally, almost a year later, put Captain Maven and the Shadow Man out in paperback.

Since publishing my book of poems, Covidly Speaking, earlier this year, I haven’t publishing anything. I knew that I wanted to take my time with Captain Maven and the Shadow Man, that I wanted everything to look right and to feel good. To that end, I’ve just submitted the files for the paperback for the fifth time. While going through the layout for the paperback, I noticed things that had messed up with the formatting, so I took my time with it because I wanted to get it right.

Publishing Captain Maven and the Shadow Man has been the ultimate staggered release, first on my blog, then ebook and now in paperback. Throughout 2022, I’ve had a real focus on my mental, physical and spiritual health. I needed to find the balance within my life and within myself and this has involved therapy, meditation and various other things that bring me comfort like Tarot and Oracle card and crystal therapy. In order to take care of myself and my health, I can’t keep driving myself to exhaustion. I had to remember that just as it’s not the quantity of work that I put out into the world that matters, so too did I have to remember that I can’t give from an empty cup.

I had to really work at self love which is something I have difficulty doing. I’m getting better, but it’s a process, much like the publishing of a book. I’ve honoured myself this year by not letting myself be driven to publish everything I’ve written. I have taken my time and have found a balance, even if it sometimes feels wonky. Growth and healing are a journey and so is publishing anything in any format. Part of healing is being open with yourself, much like putting a book out into the world that will be read and either loved or hated.

On this journey, I feel like Captain Maven has been cheering me along the entire time.  It’s been a long journey for the both of us. Since I have been taking my time with the paperback, I even went through the layout and plot description for the ebook as well. I figure it’s all about making the book, and me, shine. Right?

Much like Captain Maven has to deal with the Shadow Man, I’ve had to deal with my own shadows this year. I’m in a good place now and I know that’s because I’ve taken the time to just relax, slow down and enjoy the flow of life and the words within.

Captain Maven and the Shadow Man should be available soon! In the meantime, I will be taking a deep breath and looking towards the future.

Anticipation – On Rocky Horror

Once again, my submission didn’t make it through in the CBC Non Fiction Prize. That’s okay because it means that I get to share it all with you. Enjoy!

Anticipation

I noticed the lips first.

They seemed to watch me from wherever I went, luscious red lips against a black background. The movie title had been made to look as if it were written in blood. It was 1990 in suburbia, and I was eleven years old. I had never seen anything like those lips before. I had no idea what the movie was about, but those lips thrilled me.

They were pasted all over the windows of Bandito Video and I would stare at the lips and trace my fingers along the words, hoping in some childish way that the lips would come alive and talk to me.

I remember the buzz that started, filling the suburban air with what sounded like the music of bees. My father was excited about something for once. There was a glow in his eyes. “It’s coming out on video,” he told me. “For the first time!” He actually looked happy, which surprised me.

“What’s it about?” I asked.

“You’re too young for it,” he said. “You wouldn’t understand it.”

Based on those big red lips and the way he talked about it, I assumed that it was like the porno magazines that my father kept in the basement on the top shelf of the utility closet, inside that old brown leather suitcase. “What is it about?” I asked again. He shook me off and this just made me want to watch the movie more. 

Everyone at school was talking about it. “What have your parents told you about the movie?” I asked.

My friend Sarah looked at me and shrugged. “It’s rated R. They won’t tell me anything, said it’s not for kids.” She sighed. “My mother told me to stop asking questions. Makes me want to watch it even more.”

I felt the same way. My brother didn’t care, but those lips filled me with a need that I couldn’t even name or make sense of. I had never seen anything so sexual in all my eleven years. A small part of me wondered if that was why my father didn’t want me to watch it and I wondered again if it was a porno movie, but I couldn’t imagine Sara’s mother watching something like that; she was far too uptight.

There was a countdown to the release of the film and the excitement around it rose higher with each day. I heard ads on the radio and even saw commercials on television. I could hear someone singing in the background and there were flashes of lightning interspersed with short moments from the film. I had no idea what I was seeing, but I knew that I wanted to see more of it. I had to.

The fever pitch rose even higher each day. I’d never experienced anything like it. The adults in my family were talking about it constantly. One of my aunts got tipsy on some wine one night and started talking about the last time she had seen it and how much fun she’d had dressing up in her costume. “It was such a wonderful time! I was a little cold in my fish net stockings, though!” My stepmother saw me listening and shushed my aunt. I wondered what kind of film it was that you had to dress up in fish nets for. I had never heard of a movie that you had to dress up for.

The buzz continued to grow, and it felt like the buildup the week before Christmas. There was that same sense of anticipation. I tried to keep it hidden, as I had been told again and again that this movie wasn’t for children. I didn’t know how I would see it, but I just knew that I had to. Sarah was planning on stealing the copy that her parents planned to buy, but I didn’t know if I would be so lucky. Everywhere I went, I saw the red lips and the ads were almost constant on the radio. Every time I heard that crack of thunder, it would drive my need to see if even higher.

When the day came, it was all anyone could talk about. Everywhere I went I kept hearing the same five words and they would repeat in my head like a mantra: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sarah and I were almost giddy with wonder about it all and I couldn’t wait until I got home. My father was picking up a copy after work. When he arrived home, he grumbled about having to wait in a lineup.

“All for some stupid movie, can you imagine?” He said to my stepmother.

They sent my brother and I to the basement so that they could watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the living room. I tried to listen as hard as I could, wishing that I could be a fly on the wall in that room. My brother couldn’t have cared less and finally went out to play with some of his friends. I could hear music, and someone singing and yearned even more to see the movie. After about half an hour, I could hear both of my parents in the kitchen. My father was laughing, and I could hear the tinkle of my stepmother’s laugh joining his.

“I really don’t understand it! What was all the buzz about some drag queen crossdresser creating life? It didn’t make any sense. And what’s with all the singing?” This was my father’s voice.

Their voices carried down from the kitchen to the basement. “I love musicals,” my stepmother said.

“Well, that’s certainly one of your faults,” he said. “I can’t believe I actually paid for this!” I heard the thunk of something landing in the trash.

“Bill, don’t throw it away!”

“Why not? That’s where it belongs, its trash!”

I waited until I heard their footsteps move away from the kitchen and hurried up the basement stairs. I knew that I had to find the movie, that I had to rescue it. This would be my only chance at seeing it and my body thrummed with need. I went to the trash can and took the video out and ran back down the stairs to the basement. I held the video and my whole body felt different. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I had it at last.

I made sure that the volume was turned down low and I popped the video into the VHS machine. I held on to the box and rubbed my fingers along the lips which had been raised. I sat in front of the television so that I could hear everything clearly and waited. From the moment I saw those red lips again, full, beautiful and finally in front of me, I was transported.  

I sat as close to the television as I could, and I was drawn into the story of Brad and Janet as they found their way through a dark night that would become even darker. I found myself humming along before I even knew the songs. I loved musicals. I played my old records of Jesus Christ Superstar over and over again in my bedroom, losing myself in the music and I lost myself in the songs of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

When Dr. Frank N. Furter appeared on screen for the first time, it was like I was stunned. I reached out and touched the screen and felt connected to him in a way that I couldn’t explain in words, not then.

I had never seen anything like Tim Curry. I sat there in the basement of my house and was enraptured as he sang. I was drawn in by his wet lips, his captivating eyes and the way he carried himself with such cocksure confidence. Throughout the film, he held my attention. Sure, Rocky was beautiful to look at, but it was Dr. Frank N. Furter that captivated me.

I had never seen a person that looked like how I felt inside. I knew that I wasn’t like every other boy in my neighbourhood. I knew that there was something different about me but had never seen anything or anyone that came close to describing how I felt. Now, here was something, someone, that felt like home. At that moment, sitting in the dark in my basement, I didn’t feel as lost as I had before. I had finally found where I belonged, even though I still didn’t have the words for it.

I remember the moment during the film when Dr. Frank N. Furter slipped into Brad’s bedroom. The good doctor had tricked Brad into thinking he was Janet. It was the first time that I had seen anything with two men in what became a romantic entanglement, and I was spellbound. It looked so normal to me, and I rewound that scene and rewatched it several times. Each time I did, I reclaimed a part of myself. If an act like this was in a movie, it couldn’t be wrong, could it?

When the movie ended, I wasn’t aware of the tears on my face until I felt some of them fall from my cheek. When Dr. Frank N. Furter was killed by Riff Raff and Magenta, a part of me screamed as loudly as Rocky did. When the movie ended, I let it run to the very end of the credits, not wanting it to be over. Then I ejected the video from the VHS recorder and put it back in its box. I held on to the tape and in my youthful mind, it glowed with a bright red light. I hid that cassette behind the bookshelf where my father kept his pornography. If he had his secret, I would have mine.

Like the good doctor, I would have to create a life for myself, one where I could be free. I knew that it would take time, that I would have to find my own voice just as Rocky had found his. I knew that it would be a long road for me, much like Brad and Janet’s walk in the woods, but for that night, with the sounds of the music from The Rocky Horror Picture Show loud and clear in my head, I was free.

From that moment on, every time I saw those lips, it was like finding a piece of myself along the way. I hoped for the moment where I could stop dreaming it and be it. I knew that when it was time, I would be ready.

Real Magic in Bloom – A Poem

I believe in magic because of you.

In the time that we’ve known each other,

you’ve proven to me countless times

that magic is a real, tangible thing,

something that is alive around me

whenever I’m with you.

You’ve helped me to realize

I have magic within myself,

a light that I can control and harness,

should I need to call upon it.

You’ve given me magic time and time again,

each time reaching out to me

and placing what looks like a wish in my palm.

I watch it grow and bloom,

a flower of endless beauty,

until it makes itself known.

You’ve given me what I thought

to be impossible and I’m in awe

of we have together,

what grows between us even now.

I love you more than words can say,

but still I try, laying down each word

as if it were a seed so that when they grow,

we would be surrounded by the love

that we have created together.

You’ve proven to me that magic

is real and whenever I look at you,

I believe that anything

is possible.

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