Down a Long Lane – part 2

“Put the gun down.” Mikey spoke calmly, there was no hesitation in his voice.

    Elijah tensed for a moment, as if he was realizing that there was now a gun pointed to his head.

    “And who, do we have here?” the man in the fedora spoke, still not highly concerned.

    “I’m the security guard at this junkyard. You’re trespassing and performing illegal activity- I have every right to shoot you right now.”

    “Very well. It appears the luck is in your favor tonight Daniel. I do hope you realize our business arrangement is terminated as of this moment. Now as for you, the brave security guard, lower that gun and we’ll be on our way.”

    Mikey contemplated what to do next. He didn’t want to call the police and have these guys trying to kill him. He also was afraid to lower the gun in case they all decided to kill him. He looked in expectancy at Daniel- as if asking what he should do next. Daniel held his eye for a moment and then nodded, as if he wanted Mikey to let Elijah go and trusted that he would leave. Mikey lowered the gun and walked over to Daniel and the two other guys, keeping the pellet gun pointed at Elijah and Harry the entire time.

    Elijah glared at Daniel for a minute longer and then turned and walked back to the car. Harry followed and the two got in and they turned around slowly and took off toward the back exit gate.

    “Fuck man, you saved our asses back there! What’s your name?” Daniel now spoke to his savior of the night.

    “My name’s Michael, but almost everyone calls me Mikey. Hey look man I don’t want any trouble now, if you guys just leave and don’t come back I won’t mention a word to the cops or anybody.”

    “Don’t worry about it, we’ll get lost. But hey what kind of gun is that, a glock?” Daniel asked.

    Mikey held the pistol out to show Daniel.

    “It’s a fucking pellet gun boys! This guy’s a legend!” Daniel laughed and Liam and Grant joined in.

    Mikey laughed nervously with them, he had been unsure about revealing his weapon was fake, but now felt slightly more relaxed.

    “Look man, you helped us out a lot right there, and I really wish I could give you something in return. But that guy just took our entire delivery and didn’t give us a dime, plus now we’ve got to find some new buyers. So this is all I got.” Daniel reached in his pocket and pulled out a small bag with something green inside and handed it to Mikey.

    “Weed? Is that what this was all about?” Mikey asked.

    “Yeah, we grow it, best stuff in Minnesota if you ask me. Do you want it?” Daniel asked.

    “I mean me and my brother smoke occasionally, I guess I’ll take it.” Mikey laughed, he was starting to like this Daniel guy.

    “Alright, well we’re gonna head off, I appreciate you keeping this to yourself. You handled yourself nicely back there, we could use a guy like that. God knows these guys wouldn’t have the balls to point a pellet gun at someone’s head. You ever want to make some extra cash, give me a call.” Daniel pulled out a cellphone from his other pocket and also handed it to Mikey.

    “This has my number in it, don’t call me on anything else. See you man.” Daniel explained and then the three guys started walking towards the back exit.

    Mikey looked unsure, as if he hadn’t wanted to take the phone at all, but just watched them walk away until they disappeared behind the countless mountains of trash.

Chapter 2

    Mikey once again climbed into an Uber and headed home. The rest of the night hadn’t been nearly as exciting, but he couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened. He got out of the car two blocks early just so he could walk and clear his head. He kept running his hand over the phone in his jacket pocket, thinking of the possibilities that could open up with just one call on it.

    “No,” he thought, “I can’t become a drug dealer.”

    When he finally got home his brother had already left for work. Eric worked part time as a forest ranger in Voyageurs national park. Mikey went into his room and set the phone and bag of weed on his nightstand table. He laid down in bed in hopes that he’d be able to sleep off the events from the night before. No luck, he didn’t feel tired at all. It was as if the adrenaline was still running through him. He got up and sat at his desk and turned on his laptop.

    A few quick Google searches gave him the information he was looking for. Marijuana was an illegal recreational substance in the state of Minnesota, and trafficking it was a felony with serious jail time and fines involved.

    “Why did I enjoy that so much?” he asked himself curiously.

    Mikey already knew the answer to that question, it was something exciting. It wasn’t the same easy classes he was taking everyday in college. It wasn’t the boring night shifts he worked every weekend just to have a little spending money. He had been growing tired of the same routine for quite some time now. And now that he’d had a taste of something new, something that got his blood-rushing just at the thought of it, he wanted the whole meal.

    Mikey wanted to wait until Eric got home to ask him what he thought about everything, but he couldn’t. He grabbed the phone and went into the contacts, there was only one number with no name associated with it. He took a deep breath and hit the green call button. The phone rang several times before going to voicemail, and Mikey decided not to leave a message just to be extra cautious. He laid back down in his bed to take a short nap.

    Mikey woke up nearly six hours later to the sound of Eric getting home. He grabbed the phone to see if Daniel had tried to call him back, no such luck. He hopped in the shower and then put on some fresh clothes, it was now about 4:00 p.m.

Stay tuned for tomorrow!

My apologies for no post yesterday

Sometimes life just keeps you busy with other things and you forget to post on your website!

So in order to make it up to you I’ve got something even better for story week: over the next few days I’ll be posting the first couple chapters of my upcoming book: Down A Long Lane

Without further ado, I give you the first bit!

Chapter 1

    Crash! The Xbox controller flew across the room and slammed into the wall. A small indentation could be seen along with a black streak.

    “What the fuck Mikey! How many times do I have to tell you not to do that shit?” a voice shouted from the couch.

    “Maybe it wouldn’t happen if you didn’t cheat at this damn game every time!” another voice answered.

    Mikey knew his older brother Eric hadn’t cheated, but it pissed him off when he lost too many games in a row. It seemed like his brother was beating him in everything. He was two years ahead of him in college and would be graduating in the Spring. He’d be making over 100k a year right out of school as an environmental chemist.

    Eric sat up from the couch to investigate the damage to his wall. He stretched for a moment revealing his six pack abs and huge biceps. Yet another way he was beating Mikey, who was certain he’d be tall and skinny forever.

    “Well the landlord isn’t going to be too happy about that.” Eric remarked.

    “I’ll patch it up later, I gotta go to work man, see ya asshole.” called Mikey as he headed for the front door of their two-bedroom apartment. He heard his brother mumble something about being immature as he grabbed his jacket and walked out the door. Mikey walked down the hallway and hit the button for the elevator. He waited impatiently for a minute, tapping his hand against his dark gray jeans. He had a graphic tee on that had a picture of one of his favorite Youtuber’s face on the front. His black jacket complimented the look well. The elevator dinged and opened up, and a lady with a small fuzzy dog walked out.

    “Morning Mikey.” she greeted him kindly with a smile.

    “Evening Tricia.” he laughed as he replied.

    They caught each other’s eye for a moment before the steel doors of the elevator closed shut. The two had exchanged that same greeting for the two months since Mikey and his brother had moved in. It was an inside joke between the two as Tricia would be getting home from work late at around midnight and Mikey would just be heading off to his night-time shift. There was something about her Mikey liked, it made him feel a little less shitty about going to work when he got to see her smile.

    The door opened up and Mikey walked through the front lobby and out into the street. He pulled out his phone and ordered an Uber. It didn’t take long for his ride to pull up beside the curb, Minneapolis was always crawling with drivers. Mikey had thought about doing it once for a little extra cash, but he never felt like taking the time to clean out his car. He exchanged hellos with the driver, who was definitely from somewhere in the Middle East, but Mikey couldn’t pin down what country.

    He climbed out of the car as it pulled up beside the junkyard he worked at as a security guard. He never really minded working on the weekends, because he got the entire day off of school. The owner, Dave, was walking out the gate as Mikey approached.

    “Hey Mikey my boy, how ya doin’ on this lovely fuckin’ evening?” Dave called in a gruff voice that matched his appearance perfectly.

    He had a great long beard, black in color, and wore hoodie with the junkyard’s logo on it.

    “Cold as a penguin’s tits buddy.” Mikey replied as he opened the door to the main office.

    “Yeah, yeah, I hear ya. Don’t let anybody steal my junk, alright? And if you see those damn raccoons give em a scare with that pellet gun.”

    “You’re the boss.” Mikey called with a wave as Dave left the compound.

    Mikey went to the lockers in the backroom and changed into his security uniform. Equipped with a pellet gun and night-stick, he felt ready for the nasty raccoons tonight. He walked back through the front office and sat in the rolly-chair in front of the camera footage.

    “Six hours of doing pretty much nothing.” he said to himself with a grin.

    He pulled out his phone and started watching random videos and browsing his social media. After about an hour of this he started to get bored and decided to make his first rounds through the yard. He put his jacket on over his uniform and walked outside. Stadium lights illuminated the majority of the compound. Mikey took a right and walked past mountains of crushed and crashed cars. He kept straight for some time and eventually approached the back fence. Here there were mountains of tires, computer parts, and other worthless junk stacked up. Mikey suddenly heard something clanging from behind a pile of clothes and shoes.

    “Those damn raccoons.” he thought as pulled out the pellet gun.

    He tiptoed quietly to the edge of the pile and crouched down. Voices could be heard talking in hushed tones.

    “That’s not a fucking raccoon, there’s people back there. Oh shit!” he spoke aloud on accident.

    “Wait, what the hell was that?” one of the voices rang out, it sounded like a man in his late twenties or early thirties.

    “You’re crazy Liam, now shut the fuck up, they should be here any minute.”

    Catching his breath, Mikey peered up from behind the mound to get a look at the trespassers. He could see three guys, the one who yelled was white, probably in his early thirties. He wore a brown leather jacket and dark tan boots. The other two looked a bit younger. Liam had a long mustache that extended down into a large beard. The other had long light brown hair that could be seen underneath the beanie on top of his head.

    Headlights flashed and a car approached where the three men were standing.

    “What the hell is going on.” thought Mikey.

    An older man, around age fifty climbed from out of the driver’s seat. He had a dark gray overcoat on and wore a matching fedora on his head. He was taller than the others and seemed to carry a powerful presence.

    “Good to see you Daniel.” the old man said as he shook the man in the leather jacket’s hand.

    “Always a pleasure Elijah.” Daniel replied, and Mikey thought he detected a note of sarcasm in the man’s voice.

    “I assume you have my delivery? Harry, please load it in the car.

    At this time the man who had remained in the passenger seat of the car emerged. He was a hulking man, and although it was a freezing night, he wore only a t-shirt which exposed his ripped muscles.

    “Of course. Grant, grab the bags over there.” Daniel ordered to the guy with the long hair.

    Mikey watched as Grant walked away and then came back with a duffel bag in each hand. They seemed to be packed completely full, and they sounded with a thud when he dropped them on the ground in front of Harry. The massive man picked them up and carried them around to the trunk of the dark black Range Rover they had pulled up in. No one spoke for a few moments and Mikey pondered what he should do.

    Before he could come up with a decent plan, Harry spoke up from behind the car.

    “They’re short by a pound boss.” he muttered.

    “No, those muscles must just be getting in the way of your brain there a bit, Daniel wouldn’t short me.” Elijah scoffed.

    “No he’s right, that’s all we could harvest this round.” Daniel answered.

    “Is that so? And you expect full payment?” Elijah asked.

    “If you want us to stay in business we’re going to need it. Upkeep has been high these past few harvests.” he replied.

    “Bullshit.” Elijah spoke the word clearly and concisely and swiftly pulled his coat apart to reveal a machine pistol in one of its pockets.

    “Woah now just calm down, we’ll make up for it in the next delivery, I swear Elijah you know I’m good for my word. And this is premium stuff, some of the best we’ve ever been able to grow.”

    “I’m afraid I’ve grown tired of the old excuses my friend.” he sneered as he pulled the pistol out from his jacket and raised it so it pointed at Daniel.

    Mikey acted quickly, purely out of instinct- he couldn’t allow this guy to be killed in front of him, no matter what kind of business he was doing here. He stalked hunched over around the opposite side of the pile without Elijah and Harry noticing. He was now crouched directly behind them. Daniel had now noticed his presence, but his eyes gave nothing away as he looked down at Mikey and then back up at Elijah.

    Mikey stood up and put the barrel of the pellet gun against the older gentlemen’s temple.

A case for Elon Musk

Most people think one of two ways about Elon Musk. Some think he’s the next savior of humankind- attempting to keep our species alive for centuries to come with new technology. Others think he’s a bored guy with a lot of money who blasts rocket ships into space for fun and makes electric cars.

So which side am I on? Well I’m an Elon admirer for sure, although I like to think he would admit there is a level of fun associated with blasting things into space. I appreciate the guy because in my eyes he is a true pioneer. It’s really easy to think of famous scientists and inventors from a hundred years ago, but I bet most people would struggle to name one from our modern day. There’s the guy who mapped the entire human genome, but I don’t know his name even though I respect what he’s done.

Turns out it was James Watson and later on Francis Collins. Props to you guys, but the point is I had to Google that just to know who led the project. Elon Musk, on the other hand, is basically a celebrity. He has millions of social media followers and he interacts with this community. That’s why more people know about him and what he’s trying to accomplish. I think the combination of being able to be a public figure many people look up to, combined with the actual groundbreaking work he does, makes him a pretty impressive guy.

A lot of people tend to not like him because they believe he’s purely motivated by money. Personally I don’t think that’s true in the slightest, and most anyone who keeps up to date with what he says would probably agree. But let’s say he was solely motivated to make money from all of his various companies. What would it matter, and what difference would it make? It wouldn’t change anything at all. If the man is motivated to make money in the fields of space travel, electric cars, and all the other crazy things he invents- wouldn’t he want to be as successful as possible in those endeavors in order to make a profit? And since he has the drive to make these projects a success, don’t we as humankind benefit from it? Regardless if he’s making tons and tons of money, we still get these new inventions that lead to the possibility of the human race living on for years to come.

 I also know nothing of any charitable donations he’s made, but honestly if Elon Musk didn’t donate a single penny to a charity- I wouldn’t think any less of him. Simply because he’s putting his profits back into his company which is making contributions to the whole WORLD. I mean wouldn’t you rather him use his money to research a cure for cancer or solve another world problem, than have him just give it away? Before you criticize- I know how valuable charitable donations can be for lots of people, but in this case I would prefer Elon to use his money for his own projects because they are benefiting a wider scope.

Well that’s about all I’ve got- let me know in the comments what you think of Musk and why. 

What Makes Fiverr Great

I’ll start this article off by mentioning that I am not paid by Fiverr in any way regarding this article. But I do have a great appreciation for the marketplace. Now obviously there are two sides to Fiverr- buying and selling what they call “gigs.” Having been on both sides of the market personally, I feel as if I can at least provide decent reasoning for its usefulness.

Buying

What services have I purchased via Fiverr, you ask? A variety of gigs relating to my books mostly. I hired an artist on there to design the cover of a fantasy book, and I was shocked at how much I liked it. I kind of had it in the back of my head that it would be worth a try to hire someone and see what they came up with- but I actually ended up using the cover because it turned out so well.

Now, there was a point in the cover buying process that concerned me a bit. The original delivery time for the cover was something like three days. But after this time period was up I was still without a cover and out $50. But I received a message from the seller requesting an additional day, and being a somewhat understanding guy- I gave it to them.

But the next day, still no cover to be seen…I was discouraged to say the least. And along it came- another additional day for delivery request. This time I made sure the seller knew my urgency to have my cover delivered. And I really wasn’t trying to be an asshole, I was just done with every other component of the book and was excited to get it out to the world. But I needed my damn cover! My seller seemed to get the message and wanted to get it done, and sure enough the next day it was finally delivered.

I only had one issue with my order, a minor flaw in that the text on the spine of the book was slightly too large to fit to Amazon’s standards. But, another great thing about Fiverr is that most orders come with free revisions. So after failing to upload my book to be published (incredibly frustrating even though it wasn’t a huge deal) I messaged my seller once again and kindly requested he fix the font size of the spine. Sure enough he got it back to me in a couple more days- free of charge.

I’d call the scenario above a pretty great experience overall. Note that I have had negative experiences buying on Fiverr, but it was my own fault for not looking more closely at what were actually fake reviews on some sellers’ gigs. So yeah, make sure you pay attention to what exactly is included in a gig, and whether the reviews of the seller seem to be from real people. If you can take the time to search through and find the right seller- you can end up getting some great deals on all kinds of different services. They’re not all related to writing either- there’re jacks of all trades on Fiverr.

Selling

Alright so this section will likely be dramatically shorter than what’s above. Mainly because I have a lot more experience buying gigs than I do selling my own. In fact, I just set up my first couple gigs on there the other day.

I didn’t put a whole lot of effort into setting up my profile on Fiverr, which isn’t the best route to go if you’re really trying to attract customers. But I didn’t really care at first and was uncertain if the effort would even result in any work for me. So I wrote up a couple gigs and let it be, totally forgot about it actually, until yesterday when I got an email saying I had a message on the website.

So I go to look, and what do you know- someone actually wants to hire me! It was a good feeling for sure, and so I got to work right away and created a custom order for the company. A custom order is where you base what you’re offering the customer off of a gig, except you can alter a few things to match their needs. I actually haven’t delivered the entire service yet, but this all seems fairly genuine and I think it’ll work out nicely.

So if you want to start selling on Fiverr, my best advice for you is to look at other people’s profiles on there and try to structure your gigs and profile after their’s. Just make sure they have decent reviews before you go copy-catting. And keep a watch out for anything that doesn’t seem quite right, because trust me- there are scammers, even when you’re a seller. Best of luck if you give buying or selling on Fiverr a try!

Writing is Only a Chore if You Make it One

Look, I know it’s hard. You sit down in front of your keyboard with all the motivation in the world to bust out your next great novel. You get about a page in or so and you start to think about picking it back up the next day, or later on that night or whatever. This phenomenon known as procrastination has affected every writer. The newbies, the best-selling authors, and everyone in between. But here’s why writing on a schedule is actually important- whether you’re trying to make a living off writing or not.

For starters- you’re never going to get that book done a thousand words at a time, it’s just not gonna happen. Writing a thousand words a day sounds like a great goal. It’s not. Don’t you remember when you were in high school or college? You had essays all the time that were a thousand+ words and you could knock them out easily. Of course there’s more to it than that- your writing now may require research or a variety of other things. But come on! This is what you want to do, whether you want to make money off it or not- I know you want to see that book completed. Sitting there in all its glory on your desk, something that you devoted your time and creativity to in order to create a completely original piece of work. That’s a lot of motivation in itself.

Here’s what I do:

I brew a cup of coffee. (Note you can choose whatever caffeinated beverage you prefer)

I set said cup of coffee on a coaster by my laptop, and proceed to open up the document I’m working on. 

Gulp at least three big swigs of that hot beverage (you can take the burn, you’re a writer) and then get to work on the first paragraph or wherever you’re starting from.

Make that paragraph really, really interesting. Just don’t pause too long while you’re writing it and let your mind take it wherever it damn well pleases. If you spell some stuff wrong along the way, come back to it after the parapgraph is finished. The point is to get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper, well computer screen that is.

Alright now it’s easy- you keep that same mindset that you’re just going to completely blast through pages and pages of your book. And when you do this, you start to get a really good feeling. It comes each time you complete a page and start the next one, and so on. Pretty soon you’re writing almost completely off creativity and the rush you get from finishing a page. Look at you go, you little addict!

Another thing that always keeps me productively writing is the thought that each page I write will turn out to be longer than a single page in my book. Hey look, I’m not a math guy, so I could be completely wrong on whether this is actually true- but just the thought of it in my head keeps me a more efficient writer, and more importantly it keeps me feeling good about my work.

And that’s likely the most significant point I’ll make in this article- feeling good while you’re writing is of the utmost importance. Because when you start to feel like it’s a chore to get through that chapter you’re on, you’ve already kind of lost. Remember that this is something you like to do, and you should feel proud that you’re doing something you’re passionate about that can be shared with others and even make some money from. It doesn’t have to be a chore, it really can be fun.

And hey, you can always save up all that frustration you want to let out for when editing time comes around 🙂

So it Has Been Awhile

Can’t say I’m going to apologize for not posting an article recently, because well…it’s my blog. However, I will inform you all of what I have been up to and what to look forward to from The Mason Mindset.

So, it’s been about a month give or take. During this time I have successfully published my first two books, Success: Defined by You and Wizarded Away. The first of which is some of my personal ultimate advice to people, and the second being the first in a “wizard apprentice” series. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot while writing and publishing these books. But in the end, I am really happy about how they turned out. (Now if we can just get a few more people to read them 😅)

In addition to this I’ve started on my third book, which I believe will likely turn out to be a realistic fiction. But you never know because I tend to let my imagination run nonstop when I’m writing. Anyways- I’ve made decent progress on the story so far, and it’s looking like it may be a bit lengthier than my previous books.

This time of year is busy with the holidays and being with friends and family, but I am still going to try to put out an article a day from here to some point in the future. Notice I didn’t put “from here on out” because I know damn well that procrastination will take over me at some point. Well, there hasn’t been a whole lot other than all that going on. I guess in an effort to make this article slightly longer than it needs to be and maybe, just maybe, spark a laugh out of a few of my readers- I will tell you one more thing!

My cat Sneesnaw (Snaw for short) has been looking a bit too plump for his own good. (You can see him pictured at the top of this article) So in order to help him shed a few pounds, I devised a workout routine for him. Yes, I limited his food as well- I know you were wondering. But I also made up this little workout machine for him. And by “machine” I mean a cat toy with a string tied to it that I throw up and down the stairs. Most of the time he’ll fetch it and bring it back, but when he starts to get lazy the string comes in handy to pull it back up for another toss. Believe it or not, the other day me and my buddy got Snaw to start panting- and that’s how you know you’re rolling off the pounds! You could tell when he wanted to quit because he wouldn’t bring the toy back after awhile, but his persistence is so great that when I’d pull it up myself and give it another toss he’d spring forward to chase it again.

Bet you weren’t expecting to read that in this article ^^^^ but hey who knows what you’ll learn with The Mason Mindset. One thing’s for sure- I promise to keep it interesting. If you want to check out either of my books I’ll put the links below. And if you want to bitch at me for advertising my books in almost every article, I’ll see you in the comment section below 😉.

Wizarded Away

Success: Defined by You

Creating A Fantasy World (For Your Novel)

When it comes to writing a novel, we often want to rush right into it, and start typing away. This is absolutely okay in my mind, as I have done this multiple times. However, there are a few things you should keep in the back of your mind when constructing the world in which your characters live in.

The Land

One thing to really consider is how “mystical” or magical you make the environment in your story. Remember, it’s a fantasy book- so normal everyday things don’t necessarily fit in here. They might if you add a twist to them, perhaps taking a normal or boring object and making it interesting in a unique way. Usually the best way to go about thinking of what the land in your novel should look like is to think of the places you’ve seen in real life that stood out to you as having some degree of magical qualities. Mountains are an easy example to use, there is something powerful and mysterious about them- and you can describe a mountain range to look like just about anything you want. You can make them sinister and dark, or you can make them lush and tree-covered.

Characters

The people in your book! Now, there is some leeway here, because in some fantasy books, the main characters are ordinary people who have found themselves surrounded by magical things and places. However, if your character has magical qualities, you’ll need to make sure they fit in with their personality. Otherwise your character just seems a bit out of place, unless of course this is what you’re going for. It’s really hard to make up guidelines for fantasy authors, because there’s so much room to create new things and new ideas within our writing. So, don’t take anything I say too seriously 😉

The Magic Itself

This may be the most important aspect to give a lot of attention to when writing. You have to focus a lot more on the details of how the magic in your story works, than you do with the other two guidelines I mentioned. Ultimately, this is because if the mechanics behind your magic seems faulty to you, it is extremely likely it will seem even worse to your readers. Children’s book authors have a little more wiggle room here, because kids pay more attention to the actual plot than how all of the individual components work. Some key questions to keep in mind are:

What does the magic look like when being used?

Is there a tool the characters must use to perform the magic, such as a staff or wand?

Does everyone have the same magical abilities and strengths, or do they differ by experience/personality?

Just try to keep a couple of these things in mind when writing your fantasy story or book. They’ll give you some basics for how to structure the various parts of the novel. You want your story to be unique and crazy, but you also want it to make at least a little bit of sense!

Remember- you can get my all new book Wizarded Away for free until November 15th. Download it on kindle by clicking here.

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