Saturday, 18 March 2023

Acts of faith

Hello and welcome, reader.

The scent of spring fills my head, if not the air, at Pajama Flats these days. Its arrival is a surprise, too. As I’ve had my mind in other places so long, it snuck up on me. From here, it’s only a minute ago that winter urged me to make another try at chasing failure away from my door.

So, my next novel is on the way.

‘Things I Can’t Change’ is a story that had to be told. It’s my seventh novel, and comes out on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. Click the URL below to pre-order your copy today.

I hope you like it. And thanks for sharing the news with fellow readers.

Because I’m empty and need a few weeks of rest. After putting out a pair of novels and an album of new Harwill music over these last fourteen months, I’m pleased enough with the results to not begrudge myself a break.

And while there’s little money in such a tiny niche, it’s believed an honor to have one with whom to share my stuff. So, more than anything else, I want to say thanks to you for being here.

Before the book publishes. After that, it’s nothing but platitudes. As one must never appear affected by either work or achievement. Because it’s considered poor form. But between you and me, I’m thrilled with the latest works, and have my doubts about doing better in the future.

Anyway, who knows how long these careers last? I sure don’t. As tomorrow is promised to none of us, it doesn’t much bother me, either. I’m just glad to have made it this far, and to have kept the fire burning through these many years.

Mostly, I’m grateful to have had the chance to do my thing.

And though empty now, and despite the ever-present doubts, I’m looking forward to doing more of it, too. After I’ve had a rest.

Meantime, the focus in these parts is on healthy living. Because, once restored, whatever is coming next will let me know. I no longer remember starting to count on that, but I have, and for a long time, now, too.

It’s an act of faith. Though in what, I don’t know. I’ve always claimed, to myself, it was in the work. But even now, after so many years, I’m not sure. Lucky for me, it’s another thing over which I worry little.

Instead, I spend as much time doing as it takes.

The need to rest is part of doing this work, however, and I stopped worrying over taking breaks from it long ago, as well. I think that’s a result of experience, but it could be I’m foolish. Because I know that when you’ve done something for a long while, it becomes a haven, too.

And since learning that, I’ve made a habit of hiding out in my work. In both literal and figurative senses. What’s more, time off does little beyond making me want to get back to it.

But I need the rest, no matter how much trouble it might cause. And I couldn’t enjoy it if I didn’t first tell you there was a new book on the way.

So, there you go.

It’s time for the yearly cleanup here, as well. That means everything, except the most popular example from the last calendar year’s rambling discourse, will be archived by the time you read this post.

      Thank you, once again, for being here. And for sharing this with anyone you think might enjoy reading it, too.

-                   TFP

       March 18, 2023


Saturday, 28 January 2023

Scalpel work.

Hello and welcome, reader.

There are desperate men about, and times are hard for sane ones, but just as pirates chase freedom and make no bones, so writers chase stories and leave no doubts.

And for a change in these parts, today’s note is about the craft of writing.

For those who’ve been around me a while, you know it’s a topic I try my best to avoid. That’s because, as I’ve said many times, I think it takes an arrogant prick to write, and a pretentious one to blab about it. And I feel the same way about each of the ‘look-at-me’ gigs I’ve practised in my time, so don’t get your writer’s panties in a knot.

This one, then, is for those needing to confirm or deny what’s going on within the pages of my various novels. Either before or after reading them. But as is usual with these posts, it’s mostly a look inside the writer’s melon.

Anyway, as far as I know, work is joyful only for those who love doing it. And I’m one of those sonsabitches lucky enough to love doing what he does, too. So, I try not to brag about it. Because I know everyone isn’t so lucky. And I was raised not to crow.

But I‘ve surely loved my work. Not only that, but since taking up with the pen, I’ve spent far too much time studying the craft instead of writing, as well. I began writing as a child, you see, and made my earliest attempts at poems and stories by age seven. Through my school years and into early adulthood, I was only rarely published, but wrote on most days that found me sober enough to do it.

Then, and for many years after getting off the bottle, I struggled with it, working mostly at night or on weekends. In those days, constant failure meant resigning myself to the drudgery of a nine-to-five routine. Sadly, I could not tame the terrible urge to pursue my dreams. And so, I’ve been forced to live by them since giving up the safety of a well-paid straight life decades ago.

Because of which, most times, you find a party carrying on here, and not so much as one note of surrender. But this is old news, you say. And rightly, too. For once again, I digress.

The craft. That which I’ve chased since childhood. Nowadays, printed on the pages of the novels published in these later years of my life’s long pursuit. Yet even now, I’m not sure if my take on it is clear enough for those who might wonder about such things. That’s despite staying true to a small and repeating set of themes, motifs, and symbols throughout my work.

Of course, to the writer, it’s plain.

Here, within my craft, recurring motifs have been a lifelong focus. Some say to the detriment of the work. Well, that’s because I long ago committed to the literary concept of a suite of unifying themes and symbols around which to build my fiction.

Along with an interconnected worldview and shared characters, motifs help create a literary and emotional link between the novels. Likewise, those based on culture, weather, travel, drinking and gambling often reoccur, and figure greatly in my novels to support their mood and concept.

Yet another fancy literary trick used here is called leitwortstil, which means to repeat a word or phrase throughout a novel to support a concept or theme. Though sometimes confused with a hangover from my years of songwriting, it’s another often used technique found in my novels.

Not only a hard device to master, but a subtle tool to appreciate, leitwortstil is perhaps better at supporting concepts than making statements. And, for better or worse, a sharp eye soon reveals my regular use of it.

When it comes to symbols, meanwhile, I’ve been criticized for either playing too subtle, or going overboard. Once again, however, my approach to them is based on supporting the concept of unifying themes that drive my fiction.

Among others, in my novels, these often include things like nature, home, dogs, cars, boxing, baseball, and music. Beyond their utility as plot devices, symbols are also used to reinforce and support themes found within my fiction.

When speaking of themes, however, my novels often take the reader on a dark ride. While leavened with a particular style of noir humor, I’ve been told, too many times, that few others share the author’s weird sense of ha-ha.

But thematic concerns receive great effort, here. Among others, concepts like good versus evil, the birth/death/rebirth cycle, patriarchy, and universal racism are touched upon. While statements about things like the question of science versus religion, the battle between the individual and society, and the dangerous power of love, are also made. I think each adds texture and depth to my novels.

Because to me, the best fiction shows life as it was. It’s where we share our philosophy and store the memory of our many people’s history. And it’s why writers use themes, motifs, and symbols, and sometimes, even leitwortstil. To better speak not only between the lines but also across the ages.

Around here, when writing, it most often feels like I’m losing parts of myself unknown to me. If not, it must be the actual pieces of my mind. I wonder often, too, nowadays, if it’s not a form of what many Indigenous peoples in places around the world believe, and the words are part of whatever makes up the man writing them down.

I know there seems less of me, afterwards, than there was before starting. Every time I do it, too. Though, and sadly, it doesn’t seem to be the kind of stuff that shows up on a scale. Of course, it’s also true I feel that way about most things. As I’ve said here and elsewhere, many times before, whatever we are, that’s what we spend living.

By now, I’ve done a share of it, too. And mostly, I’ve loved the one I led. Despite never quite living up to the expectations placed upon me by either myself or others. It’s been tremendous fun. No matter the number of lumps taken along the way. Not only that, but I’m good with all of it, too.

Mistakes? I made far more than my share of them. However, I’ve also either made or offered amends to those who had them coming. Decades ago, in most cases, but lately, too, in others. Though plainly, some chose not to accept them. C’est la vie, friends. Because, as I see things, the job here is holding up my end, and that’s all.

Thus, like any pirate captain worth his salt, I accept only absolute loyalty. Despite a well-earned rep as an uncompromising mofo. And to those that keep it go the spoils. Sometimes we win, and others we don’t, but together we sail, and share alike in whatever the voyages bring.

For though often ruthless, mostly cold as ice, reputed to be mainly faithless, and claimed to sometimes be untrue even to myself, I tend to stick with those that stuck with me. You can check the liner notes, and the too-rarely published acknowledgements, to see for yourself. It’s a wild bunch and a small circle.

I owe everything to those people, and the luckiest man is me.

And now, to reward your patience with me, a secret. Nowadays, I think of you in a similar sort of way, reader. But a little different, too, so don’t panic. Anyway, if anyone asked me, I’d say it’s complicated. Because I’m a weird man who makes weird stuff, lives a weird lifestyle, and has a weird way of thinking about a weird bunch of things. And I don’t want to tar anyone else with such a weird brush.

But you’re here. In a small but slowly growing number, most times. Which makes me think we must share at least a few weirdness-es. Is that a word? I’m not sure. But as it’s now been added to the dictionary of the word processor here, you know what I’ve decided.

Let’s call it more of my weird.

Here’s another example of it. With third draft revisions now complete, there’s a new TFP novel on the way. Once a few weeks of editing, proofreading, artwork, setup, and distribution details are taken care of, that is. And yes, after putting in another six weeks of scalpel work on the latest manuscript, I’m whipped, in case you’re wondering.

But pleased and relieved and excited, too.

After a little time to put my head back together, I’ll get to work on that list of remaining tasks. I’ll also keep you posted here regarding a publishing date, and pre-release ordering information, too.

      Thanks for being here. And for sharing this with anyone you think might be weird enough to enjoy reading it.

-                          -  TFP  

             January 28, 2023


Sunday, 20 February 2022

Of selfish concerns.

Many are called. Few are chosen.

That sums up the work of my life well enough. At least, it does for me. Maybe that’s lucky. Because it won’t do for some. Or so it seems.

Anyway, it’s that way here.

Long ago, I decided to do this thing. Because it made sense to me. Despite being even then surrounded by a world not only surreal in deportment but filled with inexplicable danger.

This place in which we all live has ever made little objective sense when viewed up close.

So, faced with constant change, it seemed a good idea to write down what went on for people who might come along later. That is, if the place survived its current inhabitants.

And that’s what I did. Because the world into which I was born claimed itself to be both democratic and free.

Now later, when things didn’t go as I hoped, there was only me to blame for the results of my actions.

I had chosen, of my own accord, to do what I did. Thus, only I am liable for the results.

C’est la vie. That is life.

Because the job of a free and democratic society is to let people pursue their dreams, not make them come true.

Likewise, in a society that seeks democracy and freedom for all, not one of us is ever likely to get exactly what we want.

Because the basis of both democracy and freedom is compromise.

People who claim to believe otherwise are profiting by dividing the ignorant and pitting them against one another in ideological warfare.

And, yes, that statement could refer to any number of loudmouths lately made famous by spouting ignorance and hatred on a certain worldwide streaming platform.

You’ll have to make your own pick.

Now, back to our story.

Where, as usual, a tiny but vocal minority of only thousands these days threatens the freedom of mostly silent millions in this country.

While profit-seeking corporations and the echo-chambers of social media foment treason by pandering to the ignorant and ill-informed.

And our democracy staggers under the weight of its people’s blind stupidity.

For the price of a world built on the fantasy of everyone getting what they want, seems plain enough here.

Participation medals led to this.

Ignorance, and intolerance, too.

Along with hate, bigotry, and its idiot cousin racism.

All made possible, so I believe, by stupid.

Are you offended by such honesty?


I am offended by stupid. I am offended by extremism. I am offended by bigotry. I am offended by racism, both individual and institutional.

I think you should be, too.

And if you’re not, you know why we can’t be close.

That doesn’t mean we can’t share this country, and live as neighbors, in peace.

If all of us agree to respect the rule of law.

Which means accepting my freedom ends where it infringes on yours. And likewise, that yours ends where it impedes your neighbor’s.

Democracy means I don’t get to have my way. And neither do you.

We also have a thing called a charter of rights and freedoms that’s aligned with and supports the rule of law here.

The law also makes it clear that small groups of people, no matter how vocal, or violent, may not impose their will on the often-silent majority.

As a member of a minority group, I know this well. I also respect the democratic principle behind it. It means we, and everyone else, must rely on the rule of law when seeking justice.

Or when airing civic grievances.

But, if any should choose to deny the law while either protesting or disagreeing with it, the law must at once be enforced against them.

Otherwise, the freedoms enjoyed by the rest of us are put at risk.

And I’m not willing to say nothing while either stupid or cynical people try to destroy the democratic society bought and paid for with the lives of my forebears.

Not only that, but here, in Canada’s democracy, we make choices with ballots, not bullets.

On this island of intellectual freedom, meanwhile, I stand against the intolerance, greed, and stupidity promoted by the convoyed minority groups that now threaten the rule of law in Canada.

I also suggest that you, like me, break your silence. To let your elected reps know you support the rule of law.

And that we, the people, will always refuse to allow terrorists to dictate the terms of Canada’s democracy.

No matter on what side of the political spectrum they stand.

And despite the color of their skin.

That’s right, we know what color most of these so-called protesters are. Other people are nice enough not to say anything about it.

I’m not.

And we also know the grounds of both parliament and border crossings would be covered in blood if colored folks tried making such a protest there.

In case anyone is wondering, the fact it hasn’t happened to date is the result of privilege.

They’re soaking in it. At the expense of the rest of the country.

While exercising what they believe are their democratic freedoms.

Just as today, I’m exercising the democratic freedom and privilege that allows me to publish these words.

Ain’t democracy grand?

I don’t know about you, but I love it. Because, though it may not be a perfect system, it’s better than anything else we have ever tried.

That’s a fact, easily confirmed. Of course, you’ll have to read a little history if you don’t want to take my word for it.

Now, let’s return to matters of selfish concern. Because, after all, that’s the point of this site.

The big news this week is that my latest novel Refugees of Confederation is now available in paperback, hardcover, and eBook worldwide on Amazon.

Click the Buy Books page above or the URL below to get a copy today.

Remember this, and don’t forget, books make great gifts.

Thanks again for being here. Thanks also for sharing this with anyone you think might like to read it.

Peace and love,


February 20, 2022


Saturday, 18 December 2021

We choose.

    Welcome aboard, dear reader.

    I suggest taking care, for a wind seems on the rise this week.

    It could also be that I ask a little more, or far less, of myself than others. From here, there seems no sure way for me to tell.

    Instead, while cutting this trail, I also built, and strictly kept, a few simple rules. That, often, kept me from behavior and action which might otherwise have cost those things no prize can restore.

    Though, as said before, and many times, mistakes made along the way are both plain, and plentiful.

    The biggest part, for me, is moving forward.

    Here, I call it rolling with the flow. And thus, I do not argue with the routine course taken by the ruthless arrow of time.

    For, while my work focuses on telling how it was, my life is about whatever will be.

    And so, rarely, if ever, will I take a step believed to lead the other way.

    Some claim this rigid penchant for moving on has cost far more than mere words can tell. But here, keeping true to oneself, has ever been key to winning a thing valued most in these parts.

    Because, above all, respect for the self, is hard won.

    Here, nothing is worth the sacrifice of it.

    Though I have, from time to time, wished there either was or could be. But neither addiction, money, pleasure, nor romance has proven as treasured.

    Despite the pirate’s well-earned rep as a widely traveled libertine, long committed to living a life based as much on freedom as anything else he should find.

    Besides that, I also care little for opinion, aside from my own.

    Some will say I always placed far too much store in the beliefs of such a cantankerous and uncompromising man. And that I will also, one day, pay for my pleasures, in heartache and rue, along with the so-called error of my ways.

    Now, having lived at least twice as long as I had either planned or imagined, a time for settling past accounts, it seems, has arrived.

    Or so I am told.

    From here, it looks much like the same old. A chance to do the right thing. As usual, trying to figure out what I believe that is, must first be discovered.

    This time turned out simple enough.

    So, now, I am far more than pleased to be granted a chance to later do right by those I have, without intent, earlier wronged. And, in any way possible, I am dedicated to doing that.

    That is, of course, within the bounds my philosophy allows. For my life is dependent most upon the few and simple rules which guide my living.

    And, closer to the end, I am grateful most to have cut this trail. Much as I am pleased not to have sold short to save myself from it.

    By now a long sober judge, the verdict of guilty, is here embraced with what we once called an illegal smile.

    I also own a greatly satisfied mind. And will ever live as a proud papa. Who nowadays looks forward, and most, to the joys brought by grandchildren.

    The writer, meanwhile, must continue his work.

    As the time is nigh. We, along with him, will spend these last weeks before sitting down to do that, alone at Pajama Flats.

    Cold weather is common to this time up here. It gets severe enough on many days to easily freeze the ink of any pen. But the Chinook winds that are sure to shortly follow, will also soon thaw the hardened heart of the dissolute writer.

    And it turns out, his favorite time to work is when the world is covered in ice and snow.

    I do not know why that might be. As said before, my part is showing up, ready to bleed. The rest is up to him.

    To me, in that way, writing most recalls parenting. It does, for me, anyway. Because I have no actual idea about what makes either work.

    Likewise, my worth as a first mate was disproven long ago. Thus, I have, and for many years, traveled here or there, as captain of this pirate’s ship.

    Nor will I deny enjoying the gig.

    Some of us, or so it seems, prefer being alone much of the time. By now, I see no reason to explain further. If you are one of us, you will, eventually, learn it.

    If you are not, you likely already did.

    I have also been told, by people who are supposed to know, that my preference for solitude might be a mild form of mental illness. Avoidance is the ever-so-modern term I hear applied.

    I call it life as a writer. Or, if pressed, that of a recluse. But one supposes I may be biased.

    After all, around here, I know myself to be responsible.

    Despite what the swiftly rising powers of the nanny-state now claim.

    Here, the world is not to blame. Only I am responsible. For me. As are each of us, accountable to, and for, ourselves, and our behavior. Because of that, the answer, to everything, each day, looks back at all of us from every mirror.

    And, lucky for me, that is the way it was, is, and ever will be, in these parts.

    Because I get what works, for me. And running this crew seems best.

    Neither will I deny the assorted costs that come along with the deal. As I also lived and breathed, it seems plain enough that none of us rides free.

    Besides that, when one is gone, it soon gets rare to wonder how long you have been away.

    Though even a hard-hearted writer, on a semi-regular basis, wants for company.

    As a libertine, meanwhile, will, by routine, need the same.

    And yes, I would agree this appears the lifestyle of a rogue. Perhaps even more so from afar.

    But around here, life is what we choose to make it. And, as things turned out, one less ordinary came along with that approach.

    As far as I am concerned, that sums it.

    Though, from the outside looking in, I get how such a scene might be kooky enough to make most people want to run away.

    What is also a fact? The trip comes without a guarantee.

    Here, uncertainty is more than usual.

    The uneven routine, nonetheless, is much prized.

    Likewise, to those in the know about us, many of the world’s common pleasures were exchanged for devotion to the writer’s work long ago.

    Everything else, for better or worse, places second around here.

    I have, if only lately, been forced to both acknowledge and accept what a scumbag of a person that sometimes makes me. And now, must continue with the work I say makes this life worthwhile, despite it.

    To do so, I cannot take a step intended to go against life’s flow.

    No matter if I should want to or not.

    For in this life, there are those who accept us, just as we are. As, just as surely, there are those too, who choose otherwise. We accept these judgements, despite the pain sometimes caused by them, without question, as best for their makers.

    Before moving on with this life, as we here, long ago decided to live it.

    But, as said before, none of us rides free. So, nothing less than lingering years of anguish sometime results from such losses.

    The writer hopes they might improve his work. But for the rest of us, cutting a trail through the stuff comes at a steep price. And living with the results of his careless choices can often seem like a bridge too far.

    So, we say in these parts, that is life.

    As likewise, what stands in the way, becomes it.

    Next, a few weeks of quiet are on the way for the blog. As the writer now enters the last stages of readying for work, and needs to collect and dedicate his energy to the soon to be job-at-hand.

    I will get in touch with you here when there is news to share about ‘Refugees of Confederation’.

    Meantime, dear reader, we send best wishes for the holidays and a happy new year to you and yours, from this wandering pirate of the prairie and his rakish crew.

    Thanks for your holiday eBook pre-orders. Remember to click the ‘Buy Books’ link at the top of this page to place your gift orders today.

    Thank you, once again, for being here. And for sharing this with anyone you think might like to read it.

    Peace and love,


    December 18, 2021