Sunday, November 23, 2014

Writing is like learning a trade

Writing is like learning a trade 

Over the years I have found writing is like learning a trade. When I was an apprentice mechanic I remember staring into the workings of a stripped down gearbox and thinking, how am I ever going to learn how that works?

Writing as it turns out is very similar to fixing cars. It is so much more about repetition and by doing the work learning the tricks of the trade. You can read as many car manuals as you can but there is no better experience than getting your hands dirty and doing the practical work.

It’s the same with writing. You can read as many books as you like on how to write but until you sit down in a quiet room and record your ideas in words you will never progress. Failure in writing is just learning. A first draft will never ever be as good as the final rewritten and polished manuscript. And you will never get a final polished manuscript until you have started your novel and finished your first draft.
The saying, ‘Your worst work will always be better than the best work you never did.’ is applicable to writing. The book you have written in your head is a waste of space in your brain if you don’t write it.

My publisher Christine edits my work and she can be quite critical. Taking criticism is how you learn to write. This works for me because readers of books are in my opinion more intelligent than your average non-reader. A reader will find your mistakes, your bad grammar, holes in your plot, the weakness of your characters. 
No book is perfect; almost every novel will have the odd typo or a ‘the’ instead of ‘there’ but I try to have the finished manuscript as near to correct as humanly possible.
I had only two years in high school, so writing has been a long and difficult road. Fortunately I have received support from my wife Jackie and my family who are not afraid to critique my work. 
Christine has also inspired me to keep writing when sometimes I doubted I could do it.
My books may never be bestsellers but that is not why I write. I enjoy the challenge: from starting from a clean sheet of paper to holding a published book in my hand. It is the same sort of thrill I enjoyed from breaking in a wild colt and turning him into a well-mannered racehorse.

I hope you enjoy reading Seeking Angel my NYC serial murder mystery in Kiwi Liaison.

Here are links to Comedy Candy  and The Secret Empire on Amazon.
Here is a link to my books on Google Play Comedy Candy  and The Secret Empire.

NZ Paranormal Comedy The Hoodle will be published very soon
A J Burton.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book bundle Kiwi Liaison

I proudly announce my book Seeking Angel is included in this awesome collection of three novels and a selection of racy poems from New Zealand authors.

The bundle is only 99c so you are getting GREAT Reading bang for your buck from this collection.
The great news is I have a terrific idea for where the sequel to Seeking Angel is going so check out part one in Kiwi Liaison and part two is now finally being written.. Subscribe to my blog updates by email and then you will be first out of the blocks once the sequel is published. 
If you like your murder/mystery with spice and humor Seeking Angel could be your cup of tea.

Below are the details of each book in the compilation.

Mistress Z - A compilation new work and poems from published collections Restraint and Absence.
Restraint sends wave after wave of unrushed, sensual ideas and images over the reader, who is transported into a realm of deep sensuality, passion and desire.” Jess C Scott, Author
A breathtakingly eloquent collection of verses and prose. They take the mind and the body to magical and vulnerable places that only few can get to on their own. A truly seductive read for one, but best shared with two.” -Ms. Quote, author and blogger

Seeking Angel - Detective Bull Protettore seeks Angel, missing; believed to be in the company of a secretive bi-sexual Dominatrix. Discover how Angel is the clue which leads Bull and his partner Tommy to the serial killer who is terrorizing NYC. Bull and Tommy are in a race against time to unravel the twisted ropes of the truth to exact justice and revenge.

“I truly enjoyed reading this book mainly because the characters weren't perfect. They all had their own little quirks and issues that made them seem so real. It actually felt like they could walk off the page and shake your hand. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends.” Amazon 5* Review

Dawn and Stuart, each running away from the past meet in the Bay of Islands, a NZ tropical beach paradise. They flirt but the past keeps them apart until Stuart uses his shaman skills to bring them together. Or was it the way Dawn uses the avocados from the tree growing beside the house which broke the ice?

“This book contains some of the most well written, sexy smut I've ever read, the characters and the story can stand on their own. I absolutely love this book, and whilst I rarely openly profess to enjoy such saucy literature, I regularly find myself recommending this book to friends. It's moving, emotionally and sexually. Enjoy!” Amazon 5* review
“So many genres collide here to extreme effect. Romance, erotica, family, culture, place and more. It makes for an intensely human book. The characters don't arrive, they feel like they have been there forever. If you don't know your cultures, Kiwi, Aussie, Indian, Rastafarian, this will encourage you too read about them. The sex scenes are tender & endearing,and no I'm not going to tell you about the avocado. I admire the way the author gets into the skin of her characters, really making them flesh with a combination of reality and myth. This is educated erotica, superb.” Amazon 5* review

The Finest Line
When potential Olympic gymnast, Mairead Kavanagh wakes up in an Australian hospital after a drug and alcohol binge, her ordeal has only begun. The police are waiting to interview her over the death of her friend Joshua Mason who has plunged to his death from the balcony on which she was found.
Frightened and a long way from her home in New Zealand, she has no one to turn to until the arrival of the one man who has intimidated and infatuated her more than any other.
James Vaughn has been her chauffeur and body guard for five years and the only person who has been able to subdue her. An ex soldier of the British Army, James is composed and disciplined, unlike his boss’s daughter who seeks constant excitement which sometimes can prove dangerous.
Forced together until he can get her home, the barriers of their relationship begin to break down. Mairead fears her attraction to him stems from the strange desires that she has fought to suppress. s their relationship blooms, her happiness is short lived because of another man who knows a terrible secret about Mairead. Now she must choose between the two men, one whom she loves and the other who can destroy her life.

The Finest Line by Catherine Taylor is the first in a truly excellent and authentic trilogy exploring myriad facets of domination, discipline and masochism while never departing from a heart-warming and deepening love story.”- Kindle Book Review

I really enjoyed this book. It was very interesting and kept drawing me back to it every time I put it down. The writer does a wonderful job with the characters, you fall in love with them and hate them too. Very well written. Highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a romance with a little spanking twist!!” Kindle Book Review
About the Authors
PJ Bayliss has been writing poetry within his personal memoirs for many years, but has only recently turned his attention towards creative writing. Following the success of his Kindle poetry books he plans to publish two poetry books in print editions before he releases a series of romance novels under series title "Chemical Romance" in early 2015. @PJBaylissAuthor on Twitter
Catherine Taylor has a passion for the art of telling a good story, whether it be in film or book. Her life has revolved around theatre and movies, through acting, production and scripting for both. Much of her life has been devoted to social work, but she has pursued other ventures, including a business in Gothic merchandise. These days she prefers to spend her days writing and spending time with her husband of thirty years, their four children and two grandchildren. @NZEroticAuthor on Twitter.
A J Burton is a retired policeman, harness horse trainer, gibstopper and small block farmer. "I have loved reading since I can remember. I have owned horses, dogs, and cats since I was twelve years old. I enjoyed the bush, surfing, snorkeling, rugby, and judo and now in my retirement I enjoy fishing on the family boat. I am married with four boys and one gorgeous grand-daughter." Follow @bullburton on Twitter
Christine Leov Lealand is a keen 'prepper' and ‘burner’ (Burning Man) loves the outdoors, is a blue water sailor, historian, belly dancer, adventurer and lifelong reader. At five years old she decided she had to be a writer. Christine is CEO of Quintessence Publications and finds it takes up all of her time. Too frequently she has to stop editing, writing and book cover buying to hurriedly feed her husband, Zulu the cat and three fat chickens. @loveleov on Twitter

Monday, June 30, 2014

Gymn Bunnies
Pic courtesy of Gymn Memb Fees
Gym Bunnies
Six weeks ago I and the voice in my head finally decided to do something about my weight. The first thing I did was change my diet. I decided to have the occasional treat so I wouldn’t have to be totally depressed. Previously if I wandered into a bakery without lawful excuse I would buy a meat pie and a doughnut. Now, I only get the doughnut.
I have cut down on my butter intake by only buttering one of the slices of bread when I make a sandwich. I have cut down on my bread consumption from eight slices a day to four, except for the weekends which are my diet amnesia days.
So how is this life change working? Well not exceptionally well or even moderately well but it is enough to stop my belly from further expansion. My ace in the hole was to join a gym.
Yes I know, there is no sight more depressing or forlorn than a middle aged fat man in a gym but that is the price of gluttony a fat man must pay. I must do my penance. People say as an excuse ‘I am big boned or - I have a lower metabolic rate than normal.’ But it is a lie.
I have grown from 90kg to 118kg over the last 25 years and now I am fat, unpleasantly obese, overweight. I'm a rotund, glutinous balloon of a person.
Doctors and nutritionists say in relation to men, that if you stand naked and look down you should be able to see your general parts or at least parts of your parts in general. Not only had all my general parts vanished from sight, even my size eleven and a half feet had all but disappeared. My doctor warned me I was on the brink of taking blood pressure pills permanently.
So the voice in my head and I joined the gym. While this voice is helpful to me as a writer it is a total pain in the arse in a gymnasium. The voice in my head is an annoying, smart arse, macho bastard! He is the bastard that makes me pose naked in the bathroom mirror and then taunts me pointing out the eyesore my body has become.
The owner of the gym is an attractive middle aged woman with the physique of an athlete twenty years her junior. She wears leotards with athletic singlets that show every detail of her lithe, fat free muscular body. That is fine, as she is a great advertisement for her gym. Her gym is full of similar leotard encased muscular athletic woman. Some are instructors and personal trainers while others are woman of all ages who are heavily into rigorous sporting endeavors.
And they are all so nice to me! They smile at me when I enter and say good morning or afternoon. But the real problem is they are all so damn fit! 
If there is one thing my macho inner voice hates it is women who are athletically stronger and fitter than the lazy blob he lives inside.
Right from the get go he made trouble for me. Everyone joining the gym is assessed by the staff who design a personal fitness program plan of recommended, graduated exercises. I watched as the gym members referred to their plan cards like they were the athletic bible.
My macho inner voice immediately said: “A program plan is not for you sunshine. Whilst you are an embarrassment to the entire male race you do not need some smiling Amazonian, leotard clad, former kitchen dweller to tell you what to do.
A gym is a male domain. It should be full of grunting, sweaty men wearing hoodies with the arms torn out. There should be swearing, poor light and the pong of years of perspiration coated unwashed floors and grimy wall decor.”
“So you want me to do my own exercise regime then?” I asked.
“And why not, look how pleasant the woman instructors are? Where are the tough no-nonsense male instructors eh? You are not here for pleasant talk with attractive women, you fat bastard. You are here to reclaim your maleness. Your job is to show these women that a gym is a place of pain, profuse sweating, suffering and inappropriate farting. You should be instructed in exercise by sadistic retired commandos who believe death by exhaustion is a healthy way to get fit.”
“So where do I start?”
“Let’s start with the rowing machines. I can see two women chatting as they row like girls. I bet they are talking about flower arranging. Go on, strap yourself into the machine next to one of them - now look at the screen on her machine. Don’t let her see you looking, stupid! Out of the corner of your eye, that’s it.
Check her strokes per minute, and how many calories she is burning per hour with each stroke. Whatever she is rowing for her plan you must double it. She is a mere woman.”
I began to row and had to stop gasping with exhaustion and fear of death by the time I had rowed 1000m. 
“Put more effort in you sissy! Get into it fatso.” the macho idiot ordered me.
Eleven minutes later I slumped forward on the rowing machine. My breath came in ragged gasps. Sweat poured down my forehead blinding my eyes.
“Why did you pick the rowing machine you bastard? I am having a stroke.”
“Don’t let the ladies see you like that. Have you no shame? Stand up. Look nonchalant, like it was nothing. Gawd you are a pathetic excuse for a man. Drink some water. Don’t dribble, honestly you look like you are melting. Right, Mr. Blobby, now for some real exercises for your arms and chest. Those man titties and love handles have to go.” I staggered to the weight lifting machines.
“Remember the golden rule, always check what the women are lifting and then double it. If she is one of those cross training, multi sport, or body building freaks at least lift the next weight up.”
I have attended the gym for six weeks now and I still don’t have a plan. Even the men have plans designed by the women. I am plan-less and my wife says brainless as well. The average time a women exercises there is 45 minutes so I exercise an hour and a half.
Below is a breakdown of my current exercise regime.
Row two thousand meters in under 9 min 40secs.
Use six arm, shoulder and chest exercise machines with weights from 80 lbs. to 150 lbs. Do multiple repetitions in lots of ten or twenty depending on the weight.

150lbs? That seems excessive. Well there is a reason for that. You see the teenagers from the local high school also attend the gym. The macho swine inside me insists that I also compete with the males as they are technically still young adults and no self respecting adult macho man should lift less than them either. Back to my list.
I do a hundred and fifty stomach crunches on one machine and a floor mat. I do as many in a row as I can without crying out when the cramps hit. Then complete the rest in sets of twenty.
I get on the bicycle and pedal for 4 and a half kilometers. I must pedal faster than the women on either side of me but not less than 100 rpm and sprint for the last minute.
How I got to the 100 rpm limit was because one day there was one of those Amazonian super fit multi-sport type athletes on a bike next to me forcing me to compete with her. OH I know she never looked at me but she knew I was killing myself to keep up with her, she knew.
We completed ten minutes; she strolled off to chat with one of her friends. She hadn’t even sweated through her makeup. I stood hanging onto the bike because my legs had turned to shuddering dog roll. My forehead had sprung a permanent leak and my heart couldn’t seem to decide whether to explode out through my chest or my spine. 
The macho scumbag inside my head was saying things like, “You’re the man. That was awesome for a fat bastard. I bet she is on steroids.’
After the bike ride I walk to the other end of the gym for another 150 stomach crunches. On that day the walk was very slow as I needed to support myself on several of the large pieces of gym equipment to stop from crumbling to the ground in a quivering mess.
After another 150 stomach crunches I finish with another 2000 meter row, which the macho idiot informs me is the Olympic distance for rowing events but I have to do it twice. This ensures that I am totally exhausted every day.
“You must be mad!” cried my wife when I explained my approach to fitness and losing weight. I must confess she is probably right. 
But what are the results six weeks down the track? I still have muscle soreness and stiffness in my thighs, arms and stomach but it is slowly decreasing. I have lost 5 kilos in weight.
I have frequent unrealistic fantasies about Iron Man events involving climbing mountains, swimming oceans and intercontinental bicycle rides.
Two days ago after I finished my four days a week gym session I realized my recovery from near death elapsed time was getting shorter. It is working!

Oh and when I stand naked with my arms at my side and look down, my general parts have reappeared. Is it possible my stomach has shrunk that much? Or has all that exercise increased the size of…?

All I can say is its back to the gym on Monday.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Dumbest Thing I've ever done - so far

The Dumbest Thing I Have Ever Done


Would you volunteer to be water boarded? Or listen to all the works of Shakespeare in Swahili? Probably not, only an idiot would want to do that, right?
Well say hello to an idiot. The man afflicted with the 'mostly' suppressed macho gene.
A few months ago I had an appointment with the medical super clinic in Manukau City. Manukau City is part of Auckland City in the North Island of New Zealand. Yes a city within a city. Don’t ask me why, it’s the bureaucrats’ idea.
I was scheduled to have a gastroscopy to check that my reflux wasn’t caused by anything sinister. In case you don’t know gastroscopy is a procedure where a long tube with a camera at the end (endoscope – image above) is slid down your throat and finally into your stomach.
The clinic told me to arrive early and not to have eaten anything the night before, or that morning. The super clinic performs minor operations where I don’t have to stay overnight after I come out of the operating theatre. I would receive some aftercare to make sure there are no complications from the anesthesia drugs. I also needed a driver as you are not allowed to drive for 12 hours after the gastroscopy.
After giving my appointment letter to the receptionist I sat waiting my turn amongst dozens of other patients. I was struck by the amount of older persons awaiting operations. It was like staring through a looking glass to the future. I tried to tell myself, you are still relatively young but a small voice in my head kept reminding me I was now sixty. Old age and senility is just a few twists and turns away.
By the time my name was called I was somewhat depressed. I took my form to a consulting room where the operation was to take place. There I met the doctor, a middle aged man with expensive shoes and an attractive brunette nurse looking smart in her uniform.
The doctor explained I wouldn’t be completely unconscious but would receive enough drugs to keep me in a semi state of consciousness. Then for a reason I can still to this day never explain, the not very repressed macho gene insisted I ask this question.
So doctor, do you have to be put under to have this procedure?”
His face lit up. In retrospect his mind must have been calculating how much extra time he was going to get on the golf course that afternoon.
Why yes, some people have been known to be able to endure this procedure without any anesthesia at all. Plus they can be released straight after the procedure. You can drive yourself home.” The macho gene which had now morphed into the idiot gene informed me that I was one of those braver than brave heroes who don't need any sedation to have a long tube rammed down their throat.
We can try it if you like. You can always change your mind. Nurse let’s get ready. Sign here Mr. Burton. Sit in the chair. It is a very safe operation, I have done hundreds.” He was probably thinking 'This will make a good story on the 19th hole this afternoon.'
Before you could say Geneva Convention I was in the chair. The smiling nurse or was she laughing? Placed a mouthpiece in my mouth.
This will protect your teeth.” With the other hand she produced a long black tube with a tiny bulb arrangement in the end.
I had this dreadful feeling they were going to hammer the camera tube down my throat. I had some sort of numbing liquid sprayed into my throat. Now was the time the Doctor should have said.
Ha-ha of course we are now going to give you a sedative to help you through this. Only an imbecile would want to endure this without one.” Or even. “Now you are absolutely sure about this Mr. Burton? There is still time to put the drip in your arm.”
But instead the nurse leaned over and whispered. “Here it comes, you will experience a gagging reflex. Try and work your way through it.”
I can’t remember which one of them started stuffing what felt like a garden hose down my throat. I had the mother of all gagging reflexes. I went from hero to zero in a heartbeat. I tried to tell them.
This is a mistake. I am choking to death. Let’s start over again and I'll have a shed full of sedative please.” But all that came out was. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!” I remember telling whoever would listen “Take this f*&^%king thing out of my throat I want drugs!” But again all that came out was. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhh.”
You are doing well Mr. Burton. Only another meter and we will be there. Look! You can see the camera pictures now. How do you feel?”
How the hell do you think I feel? You stupid woman. I’m choking to death here.” But in reality all she got was another “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh” In fact my entire conversation consisted of “Aaaaaaaaaaarh,” and similar such gagging noises because you cannot talk with a huge tube in your throat.
Nearly there, Mr Burton. Just going into the stomach now. Look at the screen.” The doctor somehow expected me to want a guided tour?
Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhh, uuuuuuuuurgh aaaaaghh.” Translation: You look at the bloody screen you evil bastard. I just want that thing out, right now!”
You are doing marvelously Mr. Burton,” joined in the nurse “You still ok?”
Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrggh.” - “No, I am not you brainless woman. I am choking to death; I can’t seem to breathe and my heart's going like the clappers.”
Good.” she said sweetly, “Hang in there. Not long to go.”
Hello here’s something?” The doctor announced cheerfully. “I'll just rotate the camera a minute. A bit of discomfort coming.”
AUuuuuuuuUUUUUAHOOOuuuuuuurgh.” A bit of discomfort? You have to be joking - it feels like you have a front end loader excavating my interior.
All good, nothing to worry about. Pulling out in a second.” He peered at the screen manipulating the controls. The second seemed to last minutes as I gagged, sweated and gripped the chair, hoping I might faint.
Coming out now.”
Aaaaaaaaagh.” Thank God for that - I thought you were going to want a retake.
There now. You are really brave to do that without a sedative Mr Burton. How do you feel?” The nurse patted me on the shoulder.
I should have said. “I feel like a fool, if I had even the faintest idea how bad that was going to be without a sedative I would have demanded seven of them.” Instead the idiot macho gene kicked in again and in a raspy voice I croaked.
Thanks, can I leave now?” I almost ran out of the building in case they wanted a re-shoot.
The moral of this story if there is one, is that when you are offered a sedative for even what seems like a minor procedure there is probably a very good reason why one is offered.
For men only: If you are having a minor operation and the attending nurse is attractive, she may activate the idiot, macho gene. I suggest closing your eyes and imagining that she has a row of black rotting teeth. Her breath smells like the inside of a bachelor's fridge and she has a mole the size of a horse’s eyeball on her chin with three long black hairs growing out of it.
I drove home with only a sore throat. When my wife arrived home later that day (she is the practice manager for a medical centre) I told her what I had done.
She didn’t think I was brave at all, like the nurse did, but she did say.
You bloody idiot. Next time I’ll send you with a note.”

It’s so hard to be a hero sometimes.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Forecasting weather - 2022 Politically Correct Broadcast from New Zealand

Hello, I am Amanda Dread and this is your 24 hour weather channel, saving you from Biblical Catastrophic Global Warming. It’s 8.30 a.m the 15th October 2022 and this is weather alarm 360.
A well-known climate deny-er Hamish Fisher owner of banned website ‘It’s all Bollocks dot com’ appeared in court yesterday charged with an offence under the Climate Deniers Act. He was remanded in custody for a psychiatric report. His court appointed lawyer asked Judge Judas for leniency as it was obvious his client was quite mad.
A Hastings school was closed at lunchtime yesterday as named cold front 'Drizzly Adams' caused several children to slip over on the wet grass. The Hasting weather trauma intervention squad has been called in to counsel the pupils. Two nearby roads have been closed after it was discovered their condition had deteriorated from damp to slick.
Meanwhile in the Marlborough district this morning named fog, ‘Lorna Doom’ smothered several vineyards. There have been unconfirmed reports of hundreds of grapevines wilting under what may be the fog of the century.
Two busloads of carbon emitting Japanese tourists have been partly blamed for the incident. Neither bus had paid the carbon toll and both had expired carbon emission certificates.
In Auckland city the local council has rescinded a stand down alert status to its entire road sweeping staff after named wind ‘Mariah’ was downgraded from windy to a gentle breeze.
 There have been many named winds already this year. 7 more than last year, a trend which although it cannot be accredited to climate change is almost with a 97% degree of accuracy caused by climate change. 
This catastrophic trend has nothing to do with lowering named winds from 15 knots to 12 knots. The wind research arm of the council says 12 knots of wind causes the same leaf disturbance as 15 knots so should be regarded as just as dangerous.
The Wellington City council has decided to name dangerous winds with numbers as they are already up to wind Zeus and its only October.
On the political front the minister of Carbon Defense the right Honorable C. Hunt announced the retirement of the last carbon emitting vehicle in the armed forces yesterday. The latest addition to the army is an electric armored car from the ethical armament company ‘Green Warfare Systems’. The armored car is part of the new Firm but Fair range and has a range of 15 kilometers. Questioned in parliament about the short operating range of the vehicle the minister replied that the range will be doubled once the armor and the guns are removed.
The minister is also reviewing the new bicycle for the army initiative for an instant response force formerly known as the Be Careful Out There Regiment. The big debate is - Should it have been a tricycle?
Where do your carbon dollars go? New Zealander's have paid 20 billion in carbon taxes and have helped to lower the world’s temperature by a whopping .000003% N.B. this figure has a variation factor of 1-2 degrees. 
The UN has announced that at this rate the world’s temperature may well be normalised by 3075. Well done New Zealand.

Now for today’s weather.
Cold front ‘Armageddon’ has stalled in the Tasman Sea. 
The current high pressure system ‘Apocalypse Now’ will bring sunshine and light breezes over the whole of the country for the next twenty four hours. 
A burn time of 20 minutes has been issued. Remember it is now an offence not to cover your upper torso under the Irresponsible Sunburn Act during an alert.

This message has been brought to you by UV 5000 the complete UV protection. Remember use responsibly, overuse may cause skin cancer. 
Buy those Carbon Bonds, the new way to buy better weather.