Archive for September, 2012

A story from my family

When my son was 17, he had two special friends and they did everything together. Andrew was the only one with a driver’s licence and a car, and they would often take off after work and end up anywhere. They were good kids, and we never worried about what they were up to.

One particular summer night, they ended up at the basketball courts at South Beach. The three of them had only just started playing when a couple of police cars pulled up and parked. Moments later, 3 of the four officers approached the boys. They asked their names, then challenged them to a game of 3 on 3. The boys were surprised, and hastily agreed.

As the fully armed officers and teenage boys raced up and down the court, cars began pulling over to watch. People started coming out of their houses and sitting on the stone wall. There was much cheering as the lead changed time and again. The boys put up a good fight, and it was a close game. Afterwards, there was handshakes all round and the officers walked back to their cars.

The boys were covered in bruises from the handcuffs and swinging batons hanging on the officer’s belts, and they were still on such a high when they got home.

‘Who won?’ I asked, knowing how competitive these boys were.

‘They did,’ he said with a grin. ‘But it didn’t matter. This has been the best night of my life and something I will never forget.’

Something so simple had such a profound affect on spectators and three teenage boys. Never underestimate the influence you can have on others. Your actions say much.


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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We are a special bunch.

My writing family are heroes. No doubt about it. I sent out a plea for help last week, saying that I was going to be out of action for a while and was there anyone who could help with my existing contractual commitments? I may need someone to do a final pre-print check on one book, go over the final edits for another book, and the first edits for yet another book. Throw in the initial cover design of one book, and the followup cover design of another book – that’s quite a lot of work for the first 15 days of next month. And due to a medical emergency, I’m going to be out of action. When I looked at the work ahead of me, I wondered how I could possibly do what was expected, knowing what I was facing medically. I needed help.

Offers came flooding in. One from an editor I’ve never come across, (she has been following my progress over the years), others equally qualified to do any of the tasks I needed help with, some saying that if no offers of help came in they would give it a ‘shot’, others saying they would like to help but felt they weren’t qualified enough.

I’ve narrowed it down to three. If I need help, I know they will step up and do their very best for me without a second thought.

Being a ‘writer’ is like being part of a large family. Writer’s are unique in their willingness to help others succeed without being jealous of their success. We share knowledge, advice and encouragement with each other. We feel the successes and disappointments of others in their writing as well as their personal life. Yes, writer’s are special! Thank you, fellow writer’s :)


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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Being Kind Makes All the Difference

A trucker relates that he was traveling through rural North Carolina on I-95 when a brown sedan merged onto the highway. It weaved back and forth between lanes, causing the driver of the truck to shift into a lower gear. At first he thought the driver was drunk, but when he came closer, the trucker saw an old man shaking uncontrollably behind the wheel. He noticed a Citizen’s Band aerial whipping to and fro as the car jerked between lanes, so he called on the radio: “You in the brown Chevy, if you can hear me, pull over. Pull off the road!”

Amazingly, he did! The trucker pulled up behind the car and climbed from his cab. The elderly man staggered from his auto and fell into the trucker’s arms. He poured out a story of months of fear and pain that accompanied the illness of his only daughter.

Now he was returning from the hospital where it was decided that she would cease any further treatment. In the hospital he remained “strong” and stoic for his daughter, but out on the road he fell apart.

The two men talked for the good part of an hour. The father eventually decided to share his pain with his daughter and said he felt good enough to drive home. The men embraced and the trucker followed him for 50 miles. As they drove along, the two talked together on the radio.

The older man finally acknowledged that his exit was ahead and thanked his new friend again for the help. The trucker asked if he could make it home all right and, suddenly, a third voice broke in on the conversation: “Breaker 19, don’t worry, good buddy. Go your way. I’ll see him home!”

Glancing in his rear view mirror, he saw a livestock truck move into the exit lane behind the brown sedan.

There are good people the world over. Some may be strangers to you, some as close as your own family. It helps to know that the world is full of people who will gladly give that caring touch, a needed warm embrace or a patient and listening ear. They are like angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly. Look around, for they are everywhere. And quite likely, you will even spot one in the mirror!

Hebrews 13:2 – “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained Angels without even knowing it.”

This is another story from Godvine. Have a good week, everyone :)


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Another Dr Lee story.

Three months after I started working with Dr Lee, I really started living! Up till then, I was a shy, withdrawn, non adventurous person. The idea of putting myself out there was terrifying at times, but once the decision was made, there was no going back. My diary entry for the second last week of November 2003, said: ‘I made a deal with him. I promise I will go out twice a week at least. I will do something different once a month or I will go somewhere different once a month.’

I decided to find a nice blank book that I could paste in mementoes of my explorations. I found a purple book with a poem on the front that read: ‘The vision you hold in your heart has the power to inspire your soul and discover the dreams that lie within. Adele Basheer’ It was perfect. I typed out my diary entry and pasted it to the inside cover of the book, then I set about labeling each double page with the month. I started with things that others may consider insignificant, like trying sushi, or calamari, or cafe late. But for me, they were big things. Now I look through the book with a sense of amusement at how far I’ve come.

That book ended up holding 3 years and two months worth of ‘first time’ events. After the first year, I took it in to show Dr Lee and he was surprised that I had continued with the challenge seeing as it had never been mentioned again. He asked to see my book. November – bought a yellow shirt. First time I’ve worn something that didn’t have black, blue, white or red on it (picture of me in the yellow shirt). December – went swimming in the ocean. I was shocked by how salty the water tasted (plastic bag with beach sand in it). January – blank. He turned the page. February – first newspaper interviews (two news clipping with pictures of me).

‘What happened to January?’ he asked, turning the page back.

‘Ah,’ I said with a smile. ‘That’s a secret.’  I was not going to tell him I bought my first black bra! He went through the entire book, then passed it back, saying, ‘Do you mind if I use this idea with another of my clients? I think it would be very useful.’

At the end of the first book of three years, I went out and purchased a second book, and on the front of that one was another poem. ‘It is in both the beauty and mystery of life that we are reminded each day is a gift to be celebrated. Adele Basheer’ That book went from 2007 – May 2009. Then for some reason, it stopped. I have kept detailed wall calendar entries, so I’m going to see if I can fill in the missing years and finish the book.

Recently I’ve realised that it would be helpful for me to start doing this again. I felt that I was in danger of withdrawing and shutting myself off. So I have purchased a new book, and I am setting off on another journey of discovery.


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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Do you base your characters on real people?

Creating a fictional character is so much fun. I believe that’s the best part of starting a new project. Plot, viewpoint, dialogue, scene creation, setting – they are all important, but it is the characters who drive the story.

I write YA crime fiction thrillers, and you would be surprised to know how many of my characters have a little piece of me in them. And yet other characters in the series are completely fictitious. For example, take Scott, Andrew and HD. They are purely fictitious. I don’t know anyone who resembles them in either description or personality. Yet they are believable. In fact I’ve heard from a number of women who would like to meet them – any time, anywhere!

How do you make your characters so real? This is a question that I have been asked many times. I recently told a group of school students that I know everything there is to know about my characters. If they are adults, I know where they grew up, what their childhood was like, how they did in school, why they chose their profession. I know their favourite food, colour, season. I know them so well, yet they occasionally say/do something that surprises me. Just like real people, they continue to grow and change with life.

So, do you base your characters on real people? Is there a part of you in your characters? Or are they fictitious?


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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Good Monday Morning, everyone :) Something nice to start the week…

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Here’s another story from my friend, Llyod Tackitt….


Have you ever been in a situation where you thought “things can’t get worse” only to quickly learn they can? After this adventure I learned never to even think it.

I love to fly fish. Not for the usual lofty reasons espoused by so many of its adherents, but because it works. It’s efficient and I catch more fish with a fly than I do with the typical lures. It may have something to do with the fish in this particular river, but I don’t really know why, it just works. I live on the Brazos, and when I say “on” I mean on the bank of it.

These fish react much better to flys than to other forms of artificial bait. If I could figure out a way to keep a live minnow on the hook as I whip the line around I would be using that, nothing works as well as live bait. If a rusty tin can caught fish I would be flinging that around. Whatever works is my motto.

Sometime back I started experimenting with fish attractants, that gooey stuff you put on lures that smells like food to the fish. Allegedly smells like food to them, but who really knows. I have tried dozens of commercial attractants over the years, and the results have always been questionable. I think that some of them might be increasing my catch ratio, it’s hard to tell. The one’s that seem to work the best have one thing in common. They are vile smelling. The worse they stink the better they seem to work.

A few weeks ago I had gone fishing and had walked much further down the river than I normally do. At my age walking in the river is tiring. My normal distance leaves me exhausted at the end of the day. This particular day two people were already fishing my normal spot, the guinea hole as I call it, so I went on down to another spot I know of, another mile down the river.

On the way home I was dragging as I passed the guinea hole, really moving slow. I passed the two fishermen and a half mile later I saw two buzzards standing in the shade on the bank. They were big, for a minute or two I thought they were wild turkeys. As I got closer I saw that they were indeed buzzards and I kept walking towards them expecting them to fly off. They didn’t, they just watched me coming closer. Admittedly I was moving so slow that a turtle had passed by me, swimming against the current at that. I wasn’t a threat to the buzzards moving that slow.

Finally I moved out into the river to go by them, I didn’t want them to puke on me. Buzzards have a defense mechanism; they can shoot a stream of puke twenty feet. If there is anything in the world nastier than buzzard puke I can’t imagine what it is. I edged out into the river about thirty feet. I slowly moved by. They watched me intently. They put their heads together, I couldn’t hear what they were whispering, but I know it was about me.

I moved on by, wading further out in the water to stay out of their puking range. After a while I looked back and saw that they were following me. They were walking along the water’s edge, keeping pace. It was no strain for them to keep up. I thought I heard them chanting in low voices “fall, fall, fall, fall”. That scared me enough that I picked up the pace. I was moving so fast that I kept up with another turtle for the next fifty yards

I told my wife about it that night and she got tickled and started laughing, as she often does when I tell her something serious. She said “You know you’re getting old when buzzards follow you around” or something to that effect, hard to say exactly as she was laughing so hard she was garbling her words. She has a strange sense of humor she does.

The next several fishing trips I saw the buzzards again. But I wasn’t as tired, I was moving a little bit faster, and moved well out into the river to get by them. They would watch and follow a little way, then lose interest.

During this time I mentioned the conundrum of the fishing attractants to my wife. I felt that the stinkier they were the better they worked, but the stinkier they were the less people would probably be willing to buy them. I figure the manufacturer’s marketing people don’t want them to make a smell so powerful that it clears out the store when opened by a prospective buyer. What I wanted was something so vile smelling that it couldn’t be sold in a store. Something really foul that put out a huge odor.

My wife decided to help me out. Using her blender, some liver that had been in the freezer too long, a can of sardines and other miscellaneous fillers which included garlic, she whipped up a potent and powerful concoction to put on my baits. She informed me that I was to keep it outside, away from the house. She was so proud.

I gave it a try on my next trip a week later. Opening the little jar the vapors whipped out and assaulted me. It was probably as vile as buzzard puke. It hadn’t been near that bad when she made it, but over the week it had fermented in the jar. Little bubbles were rising to the top through the goo. It was almost alive; in fact I think it was alive. It was wildly noxious. Flies started gathering around me. It made my eyes water every time I took the lid off, but it was working great. I was catching fish at a phenomenal rate.

The older it got, the worse it smelled. After about a month of putrefying and fermenting it had gotten to the point I was almost ready to give it up, but the fish kept biting on it so I kept using it. Gagging makes casting difficult, but the results were worth it.

Yesterday I went fishing. Those same two guys were in the guinea hole again so I kept on going to the next hole. I should have gone home. I wish I had. When I opened the jar there was an explosion of fluid! The gasses had built up to such a pressure that the vile stuffed spewed out and got all over my vest and shorts. It was really really nasty. I gagged hard for a few minutes, but held breakfast down, barely.

I tried to wash it off by wading out into the deep water. Man I caught some fish that day, wading in the water with that stuff all over me brought fish from miles away. Catfish were swarming around my feet like the flies were around my head. Unfortunately the oils in the mixture had become imbedded in my clothes; it hadn’t come close to washing out.

As I inched my tired way back home I approached the two guys again. They were downwind. From two-hundred yards I could see them start reacting to the smell. By fifty yards one of them was gagging. As I passed by they suddenly took off, leaving the river by the opposite bank. They left fast too. So I fished there for a while and caught even more fish.

Finally I was so tired that if I didn’t head home I wasn’t going to make it home. I saw the vultures. They smelled me coming and were watching me with an intensity that made me worry. I moved out into the water, which slowed me down even more. They started doing a little dance at the edge of the water, hopping about like they were doing a jig. Way in the back of my conscious mind I heard an airboat coming up river, a long way off. I didn’t think that was important at the moment, the buzzards had my full attention. They were scaring me with their agitated behavior.

They followed along the bank, keeping up with me, dancing along, looking eager about something. I tried to move faster but couldn’t, I was exhausted. They jumped up and down a couple of times then took to the air. This was not a good sign. They flew towards me. The airboat was coming closer. The buzzards circled right over my head, not ten feet up. The circular pattern they were flying was getting tighter and tighter. I realized they were coming for me. The combination of my slow movement, the smell, and the thick swarm of flies must have made them think I had died but forgotten to stop walking. They were close to right. The dead smell coming off of me from the fish attractant had pushed them over the edge into a feeding frenzy.

The buzzards started diving at my head. My only defense was my fly rod. I started fencing them off with the rod. I stood in the middle of the river fighting off the buzzards as the airboat came roaring up, wildly flailing at them with the fly rod. In retrospect I realize it did look pretty crazy but at the time I was in a fight for my life. One of them, scared by the approaching airboat I think, puked on me before they flew away. It was horrible. Truly disgustingly horrible and I puked my guts out, several times. I saw my toenails float away. I started to lay down in the water to wash it off, but then had a better idea.

I opened the jar and scraped buzzard puke into it until it was full again. As I closed the lid the the airboat arrived. It was the local game warden. We had met before, not under auspicious circumstances. He was not my friend, not quite.

He pulled to a stop next to me, making the mistake of shutting down his engine which eliminated his fresh oxygen supply as the blades rotated to a stop. I stood there, covered in buzzard puke and rotten fish attractant, smelling like the inside of a ten-hot-days long dead water buffalo rotting in the sun – or probably worse – peering out at him from inside a thick swarm of flies. I knew this wasn’t going to turn out good. The smell hit him. He was now at ground zero with me.

He puked all over his nice pretty uniform. He puked all over his nice pretty boat. Then he stared at me for a minute with his red watering eyes and gasped out “You again? I’m writing you a ticket for molesting a protected species.” And he did. He didn’t listen to my story at all. Occasionally gagging while he was writing it. Shaking his head and making disturbing sounds. He made me stick my rod out at arms length so he could hook the ticket to my fly.

Told me not to worry with signing his book. I think I can beat the rap based on that technicality. Then he fired up the engine and rooster tailed away as fast as he could. The prop wash was a momentary respite from the smells and the flies. I wished I could have kept up behind him. But, alas, the prop wash soon dissipated and I was back in the putrid envelope of foul rancid air and flying insects again.

I waded on towards home until I reached the next deep spot. I looked around – no one. I stripped quickly and submerged, taking my clothes in hand with me. I spent an hour scrubbing myself all over with sand – I scrubbed until my skin was nearly raw and bleeding. I scrubbed my clothes with sand over and over. I fought off catfish. Just as I was about to stand up to dress again the game warden came back down the river. I remained sitting down; I didn’t want a ticket for public indecency added to the list.

He slowed down as he passed. From his high perch in the airboat he could see I was naked under the water. I saw the thought cross his mind, and then I saw the other thought cross his mind as he shook his head, gunned the engine and tore off down river as fast as he could go.

When I got home my wife was watering the lawn. She puckered her face, held her nose and told me to throw my clothes in the trash can. She brought soap and a loofa and held the hose on me while I scrubbed and scrubbed – all over again until I barely had a layer of skin left on me. I was doused with cologne but that didn’t help. Then sprayed me with a full can of air-freshener. She waited a minute and then pronounced that I would be sleeping outside. And I did, all night long. Mosquitoes would occasionally land on me and then take off again without biting. Hmmmm…

But it’s ok, because I still have that jar of fish attractant/buzzard puke. Man is that stuff going to catch fish!

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My Australian version of the book trailer for Operation Foxtrot Five…

Please let me know what you think :)

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Good Monday Morning to you all :)

I like coffee. And over the years, I have developed a coffee appreciation that is quite surprising to me. And now I am the owner of my very own ‘pod’ style espresso machine. While I was putting away the boxes of coffee pods, a story came to mind.

Many years ago during one of our extended family gatherings, our hostess went off to fix coffee for everyone. After a few minutes, I went to help. I arrived silently at the kitchen door and spotted her spooning coffee from a can of the most inexpensive brand of coffee on the market, into a labeled jar of the most expensive coffee brand on the market.

I stepped back and watched. When the jar was full, she placed the inexpensive coffee at the back of the cupboard and proceeded to spoon coffee from the jar into all but one of the cups. From a cupboard about head height, she took a small jar and spooned coffee into the last cup, leaving the teaspoon in the cup.

Later that evening, I found myself alone in her kitchen and I just couldn’t resist looking to see what type of coffee she had spooned into her cup. It was my favourite brand – something I had introduced to her only a year earlier.

I don’t mind being served inexpensive coffee when I visit, and I fully understand that some people can’t afford the luxury of expensive coffee. It is the act of friendship and hospitality that flavours my coffee when I am with others, not the brand of coffee. But our hostess was not short of money, and what I did mind, was that she tried to pass off something that was not the real-deal.

You know… coffee is like our attitude. Bad coffee still tastes bad, even if it is presented in bone china or a ceramic mug. And good coffee will still taste good even when it is served in a tin mug or a paper cup.

It’s the coffee/attitude that matters, not the cups… Enjoy your coffee/life!  And have a good week :)


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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Following on from last weeks post about ‘Too …’, today I’m going to share another little word that caused me so much trouble.

During one of my counseling sessions, Dr Lee said that there is one word he’d like to see removed from the English language. SHOULD.

This little word is such a powerful, defeating word. I have summarized some of what is said in the book Feeling Good by David D Burns. He says this about ‘Should Statements’…

‘You try to motivate yourself by saying “I should do this,” or “I should do that.” These statements cause you to feel pressured and resentful. When you direct should statements toward others, you will usually feel frustrated. Should statements generate a lot of unnecessary emotional turmoil in your daily life.’

This was something I had to work hard at. The day I arrived late at one of my counseling sessions, I was almost consumed with ‘should’ statements. I should have left earlier, I should have called to say I was running late, I should have been more responsible, etc. All it did was make me feel worse. When ‘should’ statements are directed towards other people, it just increases your frustration towards that person. ‘He should have called me… She should have told me… They should have done…’

I got really good at not using SHOULD (and MUST and OUGHT – which are all related), until something knocked me for a six earlier this year. A court case came up, requiring me to talk about an incident that I witnessed many years ago concerning a 10 yr old child. I couldn’t talk about it without becoming distressed and overwhelmed with guilt at my lack of action at the time. I fell back into the SHOULD trap. ‘I should have done more… I should have tried harder… I should have defended that child… ’ I couldn’t argue against any of those ‘should’ statements. It became such an issue that I sought help and learned something else about SHOULD.

After listening to my story, Dr Lee said to me, “Should statements deny the complexity of the situation.” And it was like a cloud lifted from me. The situation was indeed complex, and when all the facts were laid out, I could see that there were many reasons why I didn’t do more than I did at the time. I was young myself, I didn’t have authority or power to do more than I did. At the time, I did say something to someone in a position to help, though no help came. Driving home that day, I thought about what Dr Lee had said. “Should statements deny the complexity of the situation.” I thought about the complexity of the situation, and keeping that in mind, I tried to see if I could argue against my previous ‘should’ statements. I was amazed to discover that I couldn’t actually think of any. Not one. When I took into consideration my age, my life skills, my own vulnerability, the fact that I did as much as I could do at the time, there were no ‘shoulds’ left.

You really can live without thinking or saying ‘should’ :)


(c) DJ Stutley 2012

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