Friday, December 27, 2013

Recast: Ghostbusters!

Ghostbusters is a classic '80s movie.  We'll all pretend that the awful, awful sequel was never made, shall we? Hmmkay?  But what if they were to reboot the movie today? Who better to cast in it, I thought, than the cast of one of the most prominent reboots in recent years? The performers from the 2009 reboot of Star Trek! So, who ya gonna call?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Recast: X-Men

X-Men: Days of Future Past sounds, to me, as if it's going to be a real clinker.  Please note that I'm basing this off of a few trailers and the general nasty taste that the last X-Men movies (First Class and Wolverine) left in my mouth.  So, I sat down and started looking at movies and actors and thought, Hey! What if I recast an X-Men movie using actors from another movie? Like, say, the Lord of the Rings trilogy?

And away we go!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Holiday Tale from The Marvelous Land of Ap

THE GOLDEN MOMENT

A Holiday Tale of the Marvelous Land of Ap
It had been a hard winter in Ap. Thick snow blanketed the land. The River Surprise had frozen so solidly that a fat man could walk across it without fear of falling through the ice. The days were short, the nights were long, and both were frigid. It had been a season of raging blizzards and creeping ice-fogs. No one went outside unless it was necessary. Some people decided to take sleeping potions and snooze their way through the bitter season. Most folks remained awake, to watch the hands of the calender-clocks creep toward Spring. However, before Spring could arrive, Winter had to end, and tonight was the night of Winter’s End.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Free! Capetales!

Hello again, gentle readers!
Today, I'm sharing the last of my free giveaways with you!
Capetales, a collection of super-hero short stories is available, free, for the Kindle! You can grab your copy from your local Amazon website!
Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Free! Dawnwind: Last Man Standing!

Hello, again, gentle readers!
Today's freebie is Dawnwind: Last Man Standing, available at your local Amazon website!
Dawnwind is also the first book I published via Kindle and, because of that, it has a special place in my heart.  It doesn't hurt that it's gotten some really great reviews either!
So, ladies and gentlemen, pop on over, sample the text and, if you are so inclined, get your free copy and follow the exploits of the Last Human.
Cheers!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Free! The Marvelous Land of Ap!

Hello, gentle readers!
Please forgive the lateness of this post but I've had a bear of a day! 
This post is just a quick reminder that you can get the Kindle version of The Marvelous Land of Ap for free today at your local Amazon!
Also, I'll be giving away copies of two of my other books this week!
Stay tuned for updates and enjoy!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shameless Self Promotion

Attention, gentle readers!

Next week I will be making the Kindle version of three of my books FREE for one day only.

The Marvelous Land of Ap will be free on Monday, December 16th!

Dawnwind: Last Man Standing will be free on Tuesday, December 17th!

And, last but not least, Capetales will be free on Wednesday, December 18th!

You can find the books on my Amazon Author's Page, just click on the link at the top of the blog.

Enjoy!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dr Who: Books That Never Were

Hello, gentle readers!
Today, I'm going to share something a bit different.
When I can't write, for one reason or another, I usually switch gears and find something else creative to do.  Usually, I play around with Photoshop.
This month I've been mucking around with Photoshop, producing images inspired by the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.
So, today, I'm going to share the covers of some Doctor Who books That Never Were.
Enjoy!





Monday, December 2, 2013

Specificity

"You're going to make this hard for me," said my designer.
We had been sitting in my kitchen, perusing the pictures in my art file that had not made the final cut. The pictures run the gamut from whimsical photos such as this:


To more traditional artwork:


To the conceptual:



Still, looking back at the things I like certain themes do come through.  I enjoy color and contrast, the whimsical and the traditional. 
When my designer asked me to describe my personal style, my first impulse was to put down the word 'eclectic.'  But doesn't everyone consider themselves eclectic?  That person with the ceramic cookie jar in the shape of a rooster, proudly displayed on their kitchen counter, is the same person with the Matisse print hanging in their living room. 
Eclectic, to me, has always hinted at randomness.  A sort of haphazard accumulation of objects and styles with no real thought behind them other than, "That would look nice in my house."  It suggests a kind of stylistic laziness.  It's so much easier to say, "Oh! My style is eclectic!" rather than, "Oh! I enjoy a mix of English Country, Asian and Traditional styles!"
Specificity is good.
As a writer, I should know this.  I've lost track of how many times I've sat at this keyboard fretting over which word to use to accurately communicate an idea.
The whole design process is about specificity, about starting with a broad palette and then narrowing the focus.  Zooming in on ideas and things that you really want, that you really like.
It's like starting a trip with a final destination in mind, but no clear route set out.  I'm really looking forward to not only reaching the end of the trip, but discovering the route we take to get to there.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Apology

Dear Readers,

In June 2012, I published my book, Dawnwind: Last Man Standing, via Amazon. At the end of the book, I planned on publishing its sequel in 2013.

That is not going to happen.

Life, as it so often does, got in the way.

I’m still working on the book, but have not been able to devote the time and attention to it that it needs. At this point, I have approximately 30,000 words written and at least another 20,000 to go. That’s before editing and rewrites.

I had hoped that I could get back on track this month, devote more time to the sequel, but that has not happened and I don’t believe it will in the near future.

So, I want to offer an apology to those who have been waiting, patients and impatiently alike, for Dawnwind: Resurrection. I said I would have it done and released this year and that is just not going to happen.

However, I am going to finish it.

It may be an entirely different creation by the time I do, but it will be finished.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Perspective

A little while ago I thought I was having a bad day.
I tore the sole off my shoe, got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, had a flat tire.
Then, I heard that a friend of mine was getting divorced.
My friend's bad day put mine into perspective.  What I had had were inconveniences. Little bumps in life that we all hit.  I was not having a bad day. My friend was.
In all honesty, I can't say that I've had too many 'bad' days.  Most of my days are actually pretty good. I've got a job I like, good friends, a warm roof over my head and more than enough to eat.
My life is actually pretty freakin' good.
I'm betting that yours is too.
So, the next time you think you're having a bad day, take a good hard look at what's happening to you and what's happening to the people around you and ask yourself, "Am I really having a bad day?"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Heat

Good morning, gentle readers.

I’m sitting at the island in my kitchen, listening as my contractors work to install my new heat system. At the moment, ladies and gentlemen, I can think of no sweeter words than ‘new heat system.’

I am not a wimp. At least, I don’t think I am. However, after over a decade of living in Alaska, I can honestly say that I am not overly fond of the cold.

Snow?

You can keep it.

Ice?

Don’t wanna see it.

Arctic temperatures?

They need to stay in the bloody arctic.

I want heat. Tropical warmth. I want a house so hot I can grow orchids in the kitchen sink. When people walk through my front door, I want them to think they’ve stepped into summer.

Tonight, once the system is installed, I plan on setting my thermostat to eighty. I’m going to get this house HOT.

Tomorrow, I’ll think about my electric bill.

Tonight? Tonight, I’m going to sweat.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cross Our Fingers and Hope

Good afternoon, gentle readers.
As I sit here, typing these words, sunlight filters through the condensation of my bedroom windows, bathing the room in ochre light.  The air smells faintly of fresh laundry and soap; a small space heater hums contentedly.
It's an idyllic scene, I suppose. 
Relaxing.
Cozy.
Perhaps that's why I'm writing again.
And before everyone starts bouncing in their seats in anticipation, like a small child in desperate need of the toilet, let me quantify that by saying I'm writing a little.
There is no flood of productivity pouring forth from my innermost being or anything like that.  Rather, it's a lukewarm trickle.  The kind of stream one gets when one doesn't close the faucet all the way.
Sorry to disappoint.
But, I'm writing.
I'm writing and that makes me feel like everything is falling into place.  The condo is coming along, I've successfully surfed the waves of change engulfing the store and the future seems to have less pointy bits in it than expected.
That's always a good sign.
So, what next?
More writing. Hopefully, a finished novel by the end of the year.
More work on the condo. Paint! Carpet! Furniture! (You don't know the luxury of a chair until you don't have any.)
Who knows? Maybe a big lottery win?
We can only cross our fingers and hope.
Right?
Right.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Home

Good morning, gentle readers.
Well, as some of you may have surmised by now, I am a homeowner.  I closed on the condo about a week ago and have been busy putting things to right with it ever since. 
I've had a veritable parade of repair/service men marching through the place: plumbers, appliance repair men, HVAC service men. More will come through after all the repairs are finished. It needs new carpet and new paint and then, finally, furniture.
In case any of you are wondering, I'm basically living on the floor.  This is not a shock to me, as I've been living on the floor for over a year.  I've gotten used to it. 
One can get used to anything.
Like the fact that writing has taken a back seat to everyday life. I'm hoping that once the place is 'finished' and everything is ship-shape, that I'll be able to get back to a decent writing schedule.
Well, I hope so at any rate.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Confession of a Mass Murderer

Today, I poisoned my enemies.
I used gas.
I gassed them twice. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
I'm told gas is a dreadful way to die, but I can't muster much sympathy for my fallen foes.
Although, if I'm being perfectly honest, I must admit to a tingle of superstitious apprehension.
Killing crickets is supposed to be bad luck.
Yes.
Crickets.
Camel crickets.
They were infesting the storage closet of the condo I now own. 
This morning, when the locksmith came over to rekey the locks, I asked him if he could open the storage closet.  When he did, when the light poured into the dark, the air was filled with frantically jumping bodies, little bolts of drab brown leaping helter skelter to escape the light.
"Good lord," I said. "I could open a goddamn bait shop!"
The locksmith thought that was funny.
After he had left, I drove down to the home store and bought a three pack of poison foggers.  I've used two.
The first seemed effective. Crickets, roaches and spiders were clawing their way from beneath the door of the storage closet, to twitch and convulse on the back patio. I watched them from inside the house, physically repelled by their very presence.
I don't like bugs.
I'm not afraid of them, I'm just intensely disgusted by them.  By their waving antennae and the skittering-skritching sound so many of them make as they rush across a wall or floor.
I don't know how many I killed today, but I've got a third fogger waiting to be used tomorrow.
I look forward to using it.
I really do.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Poetry of Twitter

Good morning, gentle readers.
The other day someone asked me, "Are you still writing?"
"Yes," I said.
"Where is it?" they asked.  "Kindle?"
"No. It's mostly been on Twitter."
Which, as you can imagine, caused this person's eyebrows to rise in surprise.
Who could blame her?
What can you possibly write on Twitter? How can you write anything when you're limited to 145 characters? Including spaces?
Actually, you can do a lot with that amount of space.

For example:
Diane thought marrying Tom would make her happy. 
It didn't.
What did make her happy, was killing him.
Prison was totally worth it.

The above doesn't even use all 145 characters allowed on Twitter.

Honestly, though, I don't write much twitfic these days.  Instead, I'm all about the haiku.

Trees dance with the wind
Tossing leaves aside in bliss.
Autumn is a joy.

Or:

They sit in grand halls,
Dusty gray souls in hard skins.
The politicians.

So, yes, I am still writing, I'm just writing poetry, not prose.
When will I get back to writing stories?
Sometime soon I think.
I can feel that old impulse sluggishly stirring, like some great sea monster starting to climb up out of the depths.
Soon, I think.
Soon.

Wow

Gentle readers, as I write this, the blog has just wracked up 3400 pageviews.  Thanks to everyone for all the support, visits, shares and good vibes.  Honestly. This could not have happened without the assistance of all of you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Black Heart

I stand in the dark,
in the black heart of myself,
and do not know "Me."

My wants, needs, desires
are whispers lost in the dark.
Strange, laughing voices.

The truth of myself,
a flickering, pallid light,
lost somewhere out there.

Visible. Distant.
A star to set my course by.
Shimmering. Fading.

Invisible now,
lost to sight, but still out there,
waiting to be seen.

The dark surrounds me,
created by me, spun from me,
a spider’s black web.

I am my own foe,
implacable and deadly,
eager to break me.

But I have heroes,
biding their time, waiting to strike,
when my star returns.

Its light is their light.
The darkness can only hide them.
It cannot break them.

It cannot break me.
Not unless I allow it.
I will not do that.

I am full of war.
Full of shadows and starlight,
angels and demons.

I stand in my heart,
amidst darkness and whispers,
gathering starlight.

The dark web dissolves,
the whispering voices hush,
and I see myself.

Anxieties, Irritations & The Urge to Run Away

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
It looks like I'm going to be a home owner.
Again.
Maybe.
This is not my first time buying a home, but I have to admit that this experience has been less than pleasant.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm in a different state or because the property is bank owned or what, but there have been times in the last three weeks that I've wanted to beat my head against a rock.
Honestly, I feel like the sellers and their agents have made me jump through more hoops than a circus poodle. 
This past Friday, I had the condo inspected.  It's in okay shape. Not great. It needs a new heat system. The upstairs windows are stuck shut. The dishwasher doesn't work and three of the four stove top eyes don't work. 
These are all fixable.
My concerns regarding water stains on the ceiling were calmed by the inspector. So, I don't need to worry about the bathtubs falling through the ceilings or anything like that.
But as the closing date approaches, I am growing increasingly ambivalent about this purchase.
Do I really want to buy this place?
I honestly don't know.
A large part of my reaction, I suspect, is just jitters.  A home is a major purchase.
Another part of my reaction is the fact that my bank is not being particularly helpful.
All in all, this entire experience has made me want to get in my car and drive away.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Taste of Bile

Forgive me, ladies and gentlemen, but I'm not in the mood to post anything witty, amusing or informative at the moment.  I am simply too irritated.
What, you ask, is the cause of my irritation?
Well, gentle readers, its my attempt to buy a condo.
I am using the word 'attempt' because it hasn't actually happened yet.  The closing date continues to be pushed back because of the administrative incompetence of the current owners.
This is not the first time I've bought a house, but I can say that it has been the most frustrating. Between the dog-eat-dog market, the deplorable condition of most of the houses I looked at and now the frustration of the current closing process, all I can taste this morning is bile.
I am angry.
No.
I am pissed off.
I am pissed-the-fuck-off, if you'll pardon my language.
This entire process is just leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.
I sincerely hope, ladies and gentlemen, that your day started off better than mine.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Free!

Good evening, gentle readers.
Tomorrow, I am pleased to announce that three of my e-books on Amazon.com will be available, free, for the Kindle and those with the Kindle ap.
The three books I am offering for free are: Capetales, Hellbound on the Sugar Train and Surprise Vignettes.
If you've already downloaded and enjoyed these stories, please spread the word to your friends and acquaintances that they will be available for free.
Thank you and I hope you're having a great weekend!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Announcements

Good afternoon, gentle readers.
As some of you may know for the last few months I've been searching for a house.  Well, it appears that I have finally found one.
But what does the end of my house hunt mean for you?
Well, for one thing I probably won't be posting odd house-hunting related short fiction any longer. Instead, I will probably start posting house-furnishing related fiction.
Yes, do try to control your excitement.  I know it's difficult with the possibility of furniture and carpet related stories to look forward to, but we are all adults here and must maintain a certain modicum of dignity.
And for those of you hankering for my next book (You know who you are. Yes. You. In the corner, over there. I see you.), you might be interested to know that my upcoming relocation will not detract from my current literary efforts.
So, that's my big news.
Hurrah!
Before I go though, I would like to reiterate to blog readers that they can see me in all my ponderous fleshy wonder this Wednesday at the Richland County Public Library on Garners Ferry Road. I'll be speaking at a program regarding comics and literacy.  It starts at 5:00 p.m. and ends when it ends.
And after that? What next?
Carpet and paint samples!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Comics & Literacy at the Library!

Gentle readers, this Wednesday on September 25th, I will be taking part in a program discussing comics and literacy at the Richland County Public Library at 7421 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, SC.  The event starts at 5:00 P.M.
So, ladies and gentlemen, if you'd like to actually see and hear me speak, as opposed to reading the ramblings presented at this blog, come on down! I'll see you there!

Comics & Literacy
Richland County Public Library SE
7421 Garners Ferry Road
Columbia, SC 29209

Monday, September 16, 2013

Comics & Literacy

Good morning, gentle readers.

Next week, I’m giving a talk on comics and literacy at one of our local libraries. So, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to take this opportunity to produce a rough first draft of what I plan on saying.

So, without further ado...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thoughts on Falling

Hello, gentle readers,
A few days ago I posted a poem, Falling, here on the blog.  It was inspired by the upcoming anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack on New York City.
I am not particularly comfortable writing about such things.  I get uneasy. I squirm. My stomach fills with butterflies.
Why?
Because it feels like I'm somehow taking advantage of the pain of other people.  I feel like a scavenger, picking at the bones.  Like I'm tearing the scab off a wound that hasn't healed, just to see if it will still bleed a little.
Another reason for my unease is the tone of my poem.  Falling on one level is about moving on, grieving and letting go, but on another level I think it's very obviously about 'compassion fatigue.'  It is not a particularly sympathetic work.
On that day, twelve years ago, I woke to my clock radio.  However, instead of the usual musical program, I was roused by two men talking about 'the disaster in New York.'  I climbed out of bed, went into my living room and turned on my television. 
CNN and every other network was showing the same images over and over again: the planes smashing into the World Trade Center towers.
I can remember feeling physical shock at the sight and then horror when they started playing it again. Whenever I think of the events of that day, I think of that image.  The plane smashing into the building, the towers collapsing in fire and ash.
The events of September 11th changed our entire society, here in the United States.  It changed how we viewed ourselves, how we viewed others, how we interacted with the entire world.
We haven't recovered from it.
Today, on the anniversary of that awful day, the country echoes with cries of, "Never forget!" Unspoken is the sentiment, "Never forgive!"
We hate.
We fear.
Some would say that those feelings are understandable; that they are justified; that they make us human.
I would argue that those feelings were understandable and justified at the time of the attacks.  Today, they do not make us human; they reduce us, make us less than human.
The towers have been falling in our heads and hearts for over a decade.  They never stop falling, they never reach the ground.
Isn't it about time that they did?  Isn't it time for them to stop falling?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Falling

FALLING

Ten years have gone by.
The towers are still falling.

Frozen. Timeless. Still.
Trapped in memory and grief.

We do not forget.
Like the towers we are trapped.

Tangled in our grief
Mesmerized by shock and awe.

The ground waits for us.
All of us and the towers.

The moment stretches.
It is elastic. Awful.

We wait for the snap,
For mercy, for earth’s embrace.

Dashed to pieces,
Obliterated by time.

But time is not kind.
We are still falling. Graceless.

Falling through the years.
Trailing ash across the sky.

Let the grave take us.
We have fallen long enough.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ada McGee

ADA MCGEE

This is the story of Ada McGee
She lost her heart to the cold dark sea

And by that, I mean the actual sea,
just a body of water, to you and to me.

But to Ada, it was something more,
the ideal lover, a thing to adore.

She’d walk on the shore, by night and by day,
not the fiercest of storms, could keep her away.

Near the damp shingle, Ada built up her home
from flotsam and jetsam, and gifts from the foam.

To be quite honest, it was just a damp shack,
But Ada was happy and for nothing did lack.

A bed and a fire, to warm her strange bones,
her lullaby song was the sea’s creaking moans.

Snug as a bug, Ada lived by her sea,
Enjoying the largess of her lover’s debris.

She harvested driftwood, collected bright shells,
found curious things in the dark, foamy swells:

Bouquets of flowers, beads of cut glass,
a heavy wool coat with buttons of brass.

And then, Ada found the most remarkable thing,
washed up on the sand was a fine silver ring.

It fit her precisely, as if made for her hand,
a glittering pearl, in a shimmering band.

Not long after that, on a warm summer’s night,
Ada walked into the sea, in the silver moonlight.

Some think she was mad, touched in the head,
they’ll sadly proclaim Ada drowned and long dead.

But some others will tell you, a quite different tale
that Ada was pretty, hardy and hale.

She may have been odd, no stranger to strife,
but she wasn’t the type to end her own life.

And they say, on the nights, when the moon is all round,
if you walk down to the beach, you’ll hear a strange sound.

By a damp little shack, that has seen better days,
you’ll hear Ada’s voice raised in sweet praise.

And if you linger right there, by that crude little shack,
they say you’ll hear the sea’s voice, answer her back.

So that is the story of Ada McGee,
who gave her heart to the wine-dark sea.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Because Blogging is Cheaper Than Therapy....

Last February after a long break from work, I got a job.
I got it for two reasons: (1) the extra money would be nice and (2) I was going stir-crazy staying at home all the time.
To be honest, the second reason was what really motivated me to go out and get a job. Anytime you're sitting at home, contemplating wrapping your head in toilet paper just to see what it looks/feels like, that's usually a good sign that you're spending way too much time alone. 
Either that or you should get your own YouTube channel.
Anyway, last February I went out and got my job at the comic shop.  I love my job. I like my coworkers. I even like about 98% of the customers who come into the store. 
But this job, which was supposed to just save my sanity, and give me a little break from my real job as a writer, has somehow eaten my life.  I work five days a week and when I come home I'm so tired that any attempt at writing results in me just sitting, staring at my laptop's screen.
These days, when I come home from work, I don't even bother trying to write anything. I just turn on the comp and go to YouTube or Hulu or somewhere and watch videos or listen to music. 
I don't want to quit my job. I really like it. But I said I'd have the sequel to Dawnwind out in 2013 and I haven't even hit the 30,000 word mark.
And even if I give up my job, I'm afraid that may not solve the problem. I'm worried, ladies and gentlemen, that I may have shot my creative wad (if you'll pardon the language) with the last book.
I think about that and it makes me want to throw myself out a window.
A bottom floor window, onto some soft cushions.
But still, you get what I'm saying.
Forgive me if this post is a bit more rambly than most, but I just felt the need to put this out there and get it off my chest.  I think I've been thinking about this way too long.
Add to that the headaches of looking for a house of my own and, well, you can understand why I'm a bit . . . dispirited.
So, what next?
I suppose I have to make some decisions about work and life and everything. It feels very adult saying that, ladies and gentlemen.
Adulthood sort of sucks when it's not awesome.
I shall keep you informed of what I do.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Carbs, Vodka & Video Recordings

Good afternoon, gentle readers.

The other day one of the store’s regular customers, Stevie B, came in with his lovely wife, Heather, and their little girl. They were there to replace some comic boxes that the family cat had destroyed and Stevie B was recording the trip to be shown on their YouTube show, Married To a Nerd.

I was in the video and watched it the other night.

Two things about my appearance in the video struck me straight away. The first is that I sounded awful. This does not come as a surprise, as no one sounds like they actually think that they sound. Also, at moments during the recording, I sound suspiciously like the characters Bruce from Family Guy. You know him. He’s the gay guy with a thousand different jobs. That was sort of shocking.

The second thing that struck me was that I should really go on a diet. I’m not, like Jabba the Hut fat or anything, but I’m slowly getting there.

Now, I can’t do anything about the voice. I sound like I sound.

But I can do something about the weight. So, this morning I resolved to start a diet. I would try to cut back on the carbs. Eat less bread. Eliminate soda from my diet. Eat more veggies. Y’know, practical things.

Of course I resolved to do this before checking the fridge. I have a two-liter bottle of Cherry Cola, a microwavable chicken Parmesan dinner, and a six pack of pre-mixed Smirnoff screwdrivers. Also, a bag of broccoli w/cheese sauce.

Wow.

So much for kicking carbs today.

I’m still determined to diet, but I’m going to have to postpone it until I have cleaned out what’s in the fridge. And, even though I’m sure I could eat everything in there today, I really don’t feel like drinking an entire six pack of Smirnoff screwdrivers.

So, the diet is on hold until I finish the booze.

I just hope I don’t forget and go buy some more the next time I’m in the store.

Because that would be tragic.

Yes.

Tragic.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, I think I will go have a screwdriver.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Haiku

Hello, gentle readers.
Forgive me for not posting anything particularly long today, but I'm not feeling that well. Also, the local housing market has, once again, kicked me in the teeth.  With that said, I offer the following haiku. It sums up my feelings regarding my current house hunt quite well.

Houses slip away
Either contracted or sold.
I quietly despair.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Adventures in House Hunting

Good evening, gentle readers.  As I type this, the sun is edging gently toward the western horizon and I am sipping a giant mango daiquiri.
Yes, gentle readers, it's been that kind of day.
For the last seven hours, I have been looking at houses.  Now, I've written about my house hunt before and bored everyone, but today is the first time I've devoted hours to actually physically looking at houses.
Ironically, the day started off in a not so great light. The house that I really wanted to look at got sold on Saturday night.  This is the second time this has happened to me with this house so, obviously, I am not meant to purchase this particular domicile.
Thank you, gods of real estate, I got the message. Strike one.
So, with that house out of the way, I decided to drive by and check out a couple of other homes.
The first was in a nice part of town, the house looked okay from the road, but the neighborhood didn't appeal to me.  There was too much traffic from a major highway and the condition of a lot of the yards was not the best.  Ironically, drive just up the street a block or two and the houses were spectacular.
So, strike two.
The second house I looked at was all the way on the other side of town.  Driving all the way out there was a trek. I felt, at times, like I should stop and pick up provisions for the trip.  Eventually, I made it to my destination.
Now, normally when I assess a house for the first time, the agent isn't with me and,to be honest, I'm more interested in the neighborhood.  This time, though, I parked my car, got out and explored the area surrounding the house itself.  The yard was nice, big, but not too big.  I squashed my face up against a back door and saw part of the kitchen and the front room.  They looked okay.  The HVAC looked newish and so did the roof. Could I have found my house? Was my quest at an end?
I summoned my realtor and we took a look inside.
Oy vey.
I quickly learned why they had a new roof. Every room in the place had water damage.  There were holes in the walls. The parts of the kitchen I could not see before were less than stellar. There was no stove, the refrigerator was a science experiment gone horribly wrong and I swear the dishwasher was trying to escape the house.
This house was a true disappointment. It was like going home with a pretty woman only to have her remove her makeup, revealing herself as a hideous gorgon.
So, strike two.
Dispirited by this point, I nevertheless agreed to my realtor's request that we look at another house. This house was one I had dismissed because it had an in-ground pool in the back yard.  I thought maintaining it would be a real pain in the butt so decided to pass without looking inside the house.
I wasn't expecting much when we got to the house.
Walking into the back yard, it was nice. Fenced. Not too much grass. And the pool looked smaller. I thought, Hmm. I wonder if I could get it capped?  My realtor suggested filling it in with dirt and planting grass.  It was something to consider.
We went into the house and, gentle readers, I was blown away.  The house measures about 1600 square feet, but it felt so much bigger.  The front of the house was one long room with a kitchen at one end and a fireplace/dining room/living room at the other.
The master bedroom on the rear of the house was gigantic and looked out over the back yard. It had a huge walk in closet.
The bathroom was a nice size and had a separate shower and tub.  There were two other bedrooms, each of modest size, with good sized closets.
There were, however, a couple of things that struck me.  Two of the electrical outlets looked damaged so I'm thinking the wiring might be going. Another thing was that the back room was curling slightly.  Also, the house has an older style heating system with a down draft vent in the hallway.  Not crazy about walking on that.
On the other hand, though, there were enormous rooms and hardwood floors throughout the place.
So, not a strike, but not a hit either. 
Let's call it a tip.
I'm thinking about making an offer on this house. My realtor is doing some research. We're going to get together later this week and discuss it.
Until then, I'm sitting here, wondering.  How much of a hassle would it be to have a house with a real, live working pool?
^_^

Monday, July 29, 2013

Big World

Good morning, gentle readers! Or good evening, as the case may be.

It’s always interesting for me when I check the stats on this blog and see who my audience is and where they live. This week, the majority of visitors to the blog have been from Russia, with the USA a close second, then Poland, Indonesia and China.

Wow.

I’ve gone international.

When did that happen?

How did that happen?

I may never know, but it makes me smile to think that someone in Beijing is reading this at the same time as someone in St. Petersburg and Dallas. That some bored office worker in Jakarta is taking five minutes off to check out this blog and see what that weird American is writing about this week.

Curiously, you’d think this would make the world feel smaller and cozier. It doesn’t. It actually makes me feel like the world has expanded, but in a good way.

So, welcome, peoples of the world.

I hope you enjoy your visit.

^_^

Monday, July 22, 2013

Movies That Never Were

This is what I do when I can't write.
I create fake movie/book covers.
Enjoy.


I rather like this picture. Not sure what the story would be, but I suspect it would slip into that rare genre of ghost stories set in the old west.



I messed up on the tagline for this fake movie poster.  It should have gone, "Monsters. It's Their World. For Now."  But I didn't realize my mistake until I had saved the image above.

And finally, this is probably one of my favorites:


Come on. You have to wonder what happened between Despicable Me and its sequel. Right? I really like how this image turned out, especially the texture.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that.

See y'all at the movies!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Wow Factor and Deflowering Virgins

Good morning, gentle readers.

As many of you know, I work in a comic shop. Actually, I work in one of the largest comic shops in the United States. It’s an interesting place to work. You’d be surprised at the cross-section of humanity that wanders through our doors: policemen, artisans, soldiers, university professors, professional fighters, ministers, people with families, people without families, young lovers, old couples, business professionals of every stripe, rock-n-rollers and retirees.

My favorites, though, are the virgins. The one’s who have never been inside a comic shop.

They’re easy to spot; they walk in and their eyes widen and they get this look on their face, that just says, "Wow!"

Most wander around, a bit timidly at first. They gawp at the dragon hung over our work area, then look around and spot the life-sized Batman figure, lurking above the Dollar Room. They usually comment on those two and I wind up pointing out the other figures; the life-sized Spider-Man attached to the wall behind and above them, the young Anakin Skywalker figure in his pod-racer outfit above the paperback books.

These are good conversational hooks for newbies, and, at this point, they usually reveal their virgin status. And then, ladies and gentlemen, they ask the question that makes my little heart go al aflutter: "What comics would you recommend for me?"

I love making recommendations, introducing people to whole new worlds that they might never encounter on their own.

"What do you like to read?" I’ll ask. "Or see at the movies?"

These are sounding questions and let me get an idea of the virgin’s tastes.

"I really liked that Avengers movie," some will say.

"Oh? Who was your favorite character?"

"The archer."

"Hawkeye," I’ll say, and point them toward the Hawkeye comic or, better yet, the trade paperback.

The Avengers, Dark Knight, Man of Steel. People who like those movies are easy to make recommendations for, because the characters in them are in several popular, mainstream comics.

It’s a little more challenging, however, when someone says, "The last movie I really liked was Twilight."

Ugh.

I loathe Twilight, the books and the movies. Nevertheless, I try my best to point the innocent at something they might like. Although, to be honest, comics featuring romantic supernatural adventures aren’t exactly thick on the ground.

So, I fall back on my default book, Fables by Bill Willingham. We usually have a ton of trades available and it’s a quality book. Nine times out of ten, the person will give it a try.

I had a lady come in a while back looking for a gift for her grandson. She asked if we had any comic books that featured African-American characters that weren’t violent. There are several books that feature African-American characters but none of them are particularly non-violent. Comics are, essentially, action/adventure stories so violence is pretty prevalent in the medium. I mentioned this to the lady, then showed her some trades of Static Shock and Icon & Rocket. She wound up buying Static Shock that day and came back the next to buy a trade of Black Panther for herself.

"I’m looking for a good horror comic."

"Rachel Rising by Terry Moore. It’s creepy as hell and was nominated for a 2013 Bram Stoker Award."

"I’d like a comic for my 10-year old daughter."

"Try My Little Pony or, better yet, Princeless. And if you can find it, Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting is wonderful."

"What about Wonder Woman? Would you recommend Wonder Woman for my little girl?"

"Um. No, not the current run. But try this Wolfman/Perez Wonder Woman trade from a while back. The art and story are both pretty great!"

Which brings us to the fact that the comics industry these days isn’t geared for children. Most comic readers are eighteen and older. As I said above, I’ve got retirees coming into the store and buying books.

Thankfully, when someone comes in looking for kids books, I can take ‘em back to our Kid’s Section. A lot of the titles are cartoon tie-ins: Adventure Time, Scooby Doo, Spongebob Squarepants, Teen Titans Go. Occasionally, something will get stuck back in the Kid’s Section that doesn’t belong there, like Eastman & Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If it’s the cartoon Turtles book, that’s fine, but the actual mainstream comic isn’t really appropriate for kids, in my opinion.

Then, of course, there are the people asking for stuff that we can’t help them with.

"My kid is crazy for those Japanese cartoons. Do you guys have anything like that in comics?"

"You mean manga, and, sorry, we don’t carry it."

"Why not?"

"It just doesn’t sell for us. Try Barnes & Nobles or Books-A-Million. They usually have a ton of it."

"You guys got any comics based on video games?"

Sure. We’ve got some Sonic the Hedgehog in the Kid’s Comics."

"No, I mean, more like, Grand Theft Auto."

"Sorry. No."

Then there’s the guy who sidles up to the counter and asks, in a real low voice, "Um. Do y’all carry any, like, adult stuff?"

"What do you mean?"

"Y’know. Adult."

"Oh. You mean like adult-adult."

"Yeah."

"Sorry. We don’t carry adult comics normally but we can do special orders if you have something in mind. Like, if you want to order a copy of Sex or Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss."

Most don’t.

And, then, at least once a week, someone who has never read a comic in their life, will come into the store and say, "I heard y’all had comics based off The Walking Dead t.v. show. Is that true?"

"Actually, the comics came first."

"Really? I didn’t know that. Y’all got any?"

"Sure. We’ve got all nineteen trade paperbacks in stock. They’re right behind you."

They turn around and see our Walking Dead display. And, I swear, every single one of ‘em goes, "Wow."

'Nuff said.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Thawed

Joe Dankmyer sat in the park, taking deep, calming breaths. He could feel the panic, clawing at the edges of his thoughts, looking for purchase. They had told him this might happen, after releasing him from the hospital, but he hadn’t thought it would happen. There was a bottle of pills, tucked into the medicine cabinet back at his place, that would have helped. Despite his protests, the doctor had pressed them on him.

"Take them, Joe," the man had said. "Just in case."

Joe wished he had the pills right now.

It was the building across the street that had set off the panic attack. The building did not look as if it had been built, but rather exploded into being. It resembled an asymmetric pile of frozen concrete, painted with a crystalline sheen. There were windows, scattered at random throughout the structure. Some were big enough to give a glimpse of brightly lit, pastel interiors.

Aesthetically, the building wasn’t unattractive but its design, its construction, was so odd to Joe that it tipped him over the edge. He scrambled for control of his emotions, gripping the faux wooden park bench so hard his knuckles went white. Shutting his eyes, he took deep breaths and wished he had brought his little bottle of pills with him.

"Are you all right?"

The voice was feminine, concerned. Joe opened his eyes and saw a matronly woman in an orange pantsuit standing in front of him. She had red hair piled on top of her head and a small white poodle on a leash.

Joe managed to grunt out, "I’m fine."

The woman’s eyes narrowed. They darted over his face, to his hands, and recognition dawned in her face. She sat next to him, the poodle straining at its leash.

"Freezer burn?"

The question caught Joe by surprise and seemed to short circuit the panic attack.

"How did you. . . ."

Chuckling, the woman touched her red beehive, patting it into place.

"Personal experience."

Her gaze settled on the building across the street.

"Is that what set it off?"

"Yeah," admitted Joe.

"Looks like the Fortress of Solitude from those old Superman movies," remarked the woman. "The good ones, with Christopher Reeve."

"I liked the Henry Cavill ones," Joe managed to say. "You’re a freezer?"

She nodded, stuck out her hand. "Lucille Jones-Fitzgibbons. Put on ice back in ‘31."

Joe introduced himself. "I went under in ‘28."

"Cancer?" asked Lucille.

"Yeah. You?"

She nodded. "Yep. I have to admit though that I didn’t think getting frozen would really work."

"Why’d you do it?"

Lucille shrugged. "Why not? I took a chance and it payed off."

"Do you ever . . . ." Joe let his sentence fade, waved vaguely at himself.

"Freak out?" asked Lucille. She chuckled. "I used to, all the time. Then it sorted itself out." She smiled at him. "It’ll happen with you too."

"You think?"

"I know," said Lucille.

"Do you ever miss the old world?" he asked, quietly.

"No, not really. I like living in the future." She made air quotes when she said the last. "Although I do miss junk food."

Joe grinned. "Yeah. We went to sleep and the health Nazis won."

"The bastards," said Lucille, in mock indignation. "What about you? What do you miss, Joe?"

"My friends," said Joe. He sighed. "They’re all gone."

She patted his hand. "Yeah. That sucks. You ever go to the support meetings?"

"I tried, but it got on my nerves, everybody sitting around and whining about shit."

"Not your thing?"

"No," said Joe, firmly.

"Good. I hate hanging out with crybabies."

He laughed and it occurred to Joe that this was the first time that he had laughed since they thawed him out of cryo.

"You want to go get a coffee or something?" asked Joe.

Lucille batted her big, brown eyes at him. "Why, Mr. Dankmyer, I thought you’d never ask."

He grinned and stood. On impulse, Joe offered Lucille his arm and she took it. Like that, arm in arm, they walked into the future, a little white poodle darting around their ankles.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Patience

Good evening, gentle readers.
No doubt some of you were wondering why there wasn't a blog update this past Monday.
I could spin an elaborate tale about real life pressures getting in the way, but the fact of the matter is that the well simply ran dry.
I could not think of a single goddamn thing to write.
The problem has persisted all week. None of my usual tricks are working.  Honestly, I can't recall the last time I've been this stymied.
It's irritating as hell, like that itch in the middle of your back you just can't, quite, reach.  And no amount of rubbing against door frames or using the steak fork seems to alleviate it.
So, that's what happened.
That's why there was no update this past Monday.
I'm trying to refill my creative tank, to get my juices going again, but so far nothing is working. The books I'm reading seem dull and listless. Nothing on television grabs me.  I search online for movies to watch and keep coming up with zeroes.
Everything just seems 'bleh.'
Basically, I'm stuck in the doldrums, waiting on a breeze to  push me somewhere.
Anywhere.
So, what's next?
Books. Music. Movies.
And, most important of all, patience.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tease

Hello, gentle readers! This morning (it's not noon here yet!) I've decided to be naughty and tease you all with a brief excerpt from my current work-in-progress, Dawnwind: Resurrection.  Enjoy and let the speculation begin! ^_^

* * * * *


"You’ve become something of a celebrity, Seventh," murmured Upio. The corner of his mouth twitched as he tried not to smile.
Hysa snorted. "I don’t know why everyone is reading such significance into it," she complained. "Sweet pantheon! It wasn’t a date, it was just drinks in the crew hall!"
"Drinks with the First," said Upio. "A man who, by all accounts, has never expressed any particular romantic interest in anyone until right now. Until you." He gave up any pretense of disinterest and grinned at her. "That makes it significant."
She scowled. "All we did was talk about work."
"Really?"
Hysa frowned. "Well, mostly."
"What else did you talk about?"
She shrugged. "The usual things. Where we grew up and how we wound up joining the Guard. That sort of stuff."
Upio leaned forward, curious. "He told you about his homeworld?"
"No," admitted Hysa. "Not really. I mean, he talked about things, but only in general and, well, I didn’t want to push, given his history. So. . . ."
Upio sighed and shook his head. "You do realize that you’ve just described a pretty ordinary first date. Don’t you?"
She stared at him as if he had suddenly grown a third eye.
"Isolate me," she muttered. "It was a date, wasn’t it?"
"Yes."
Hysa felt her fingertips throb with blood. She curled them, clutching at the fabric of her shipsuit. "I didn’t really think. . . ."
"Did you have a nice time?" asked Upio, quietly.
"I . . . I suppose I did," said Hysa. "What if he asks me out again?"
"What if he does? Say yes. Say no. It’s up to you."
Hysa lowered her voice, felt her fingers continue to throb. "But...it would be the second date, Upio."
"Ah," said Upio, suddenly grasping her meaning. "Speak first, kiss later. Yes?"
She nodded, clenching her fists.
"Perhaps," suggested Upio, quietly, "you should speak with the First Medic."
"About what?"
"Things."
"Things? What things?" There was a hint of alarm in Hysa’s voice.
"About . . . compatability," said Upio.
Hysa frowned, perplexed for a moment, before realizing what the Third Officer was referring to so obliquely.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Man of Steel, Feet of Clay

I just saw Man of Steel and I can’t decide if I like it or not. Going into the movie, I didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm to see it. Odd, I know, considering the fact that I work in a comic shop surrounded by people who can’t stop talking about this particular movie. Honestly, I didn’t plan on seeing it in the theater at all. I was going to wait for it to come out on video, because I just didn’t care that much about it.

Having seen the movie, I have to admit that my ambivalence for the film remains firmly in place. Don’t get me wrong. The movie is engaging. It’s a long movie but it doesn’t feel like a long movie. The pacing is fine.

Director Zach Snyder’s imprint is apparent throughout the film. It is not The Dark Knight but the film feels somber. This is only enhanced by the starkness of the cinematography; colors are muted and washed out, there is a preponderance of black and white in the pallette. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the scenes of Metropolis and Krypton. These two locales appear to be grim, joyless places. Overall, visually, I found the movie dull and flat.

The story is interesting. The plot is cohesive. Scenes are engaging. I felt that the performances, though, were uneven.

Henry Cavill portrays Superman/Clark Kent as the outsider and he does this very well. However, there is a rigid plasticity to his performance that I felt did not jibe with the character.

Lois Lane, in this movie, actually has a brain. Amy Adams does an admirable job of bringing the character to life. However, I think Adams is still too much the ingenue to really portray Lane accurately. She’s a little too wide eyed, a little too accepting of Superman and she falls for him far too quickly.

Michael Shannon’s General Zod is written as a complex character and Shannon’s performance, I think, stands out in this film as superior to his co-stars. As the villain of the piece he could have taken Zod completely over the top, but that does not happen until the last part of the film, when it felt appropriate.

The movie is full of action and if I have a major critique of that, it is that the ultimate battle between Superman and General Zod is shot too quickly. It all just happens in a blur of CGI fisticuffs.

Overall, the movie felt very slick. However, I think it lacks depth. As a foundation movie for a trilogy, I can see it working. As a stepping stone to a Cinematic DCU, I think it will accomplish that goal admirably.

But, on a purely personal level, Man of Steel lacks heart. It is entirely two-dimensional. You don’t care about any of the characters, not because they are unlikable, or because the actors in the roles do bad jobs, but because the characters remain two-dimensional.

And that, I think, may be Man of Steel’s greatest weakness. It’s a visually impressive movie, but it takes more than special effects to make a good Superman movie. It takes heart and soul and a sense of wonder that, I think, is lacking in this film.  It uses big budget CGI fights to conceal the fact that Man of Steel is a joyless experience and one that I have no desire to repeat.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Haunted House Hunters

"Now this home," said Robin Foster, pushing open the front door and waving her clients inside, "is a three-bedroom ranch with two full baths, a two-car garage and a fenced back yard."

"Nice," said the Husband. He was late twenties, early thirties.

Still wearing his hair long, thought Robin, but starting to realize it makes him look like a hipster asshole.

"And the . . . history?" asked the Wife.

She was young, pale and fat.

Like a bloated corpse squished into a designer label, little black dress, thought Robin, a tad unkindly. She could already tell the Wife would have the final say in the sale.

"The history is bloody," said Robin. She consulted her file. "The original owners died in their sleep, but the second owners were killed during a home invasion."

"And they’re still here?" asked the Husband.

"Yes," said Robin. "On the Barrett-Bender Scale the entities are class three."

Strong enough to do party tricks, thought Robin, but not strong enough to suck anyone into a hell dimension.

"The house certainly has a strange atmosphere," murmured the Husband.

He was walking around the foyer, peering into corners. Robin had to fight the urge to smack the back of his head. Instead, she smiled and gave them the tour and the usual spiel.

In the formal dining room, the Wife paused. She tilted her head to one side, dog-like, and frowned.

"Do you hear that?"

"What, dear?" asked the Husband.

"I’m not sure," said the Wife. "I. . . ."

Suddenly, the woman went as stiff as a board. Her eyes gaped wide, her mouth opened and she made a long, gasping noise.

"Honey?" The Husband’s eyes were wide and pale.

Oh crap, thought Robin.

"Your wife’s a Medium, isn’t she?"

"What?" The Husband’s eyes darted here and there, as if looking for a way out. "Don’t be ridiculous!"

"Then how do you explain that?" said Robin.

The Wife was rising from the authentic hardwood floor of the formal dining room, drifting toward the plaster ceiling with the faux wrought iron chandelier.

"Oh hell," muttered the Husband. "How do we get her down?"

With a sigh, Robin dug a vial of holy water out of her purse and sprinkled some on the Wife’s designer knock-off footwear. Trembling, the possessed woman dropped to the floor with a weighty thud.

The Husband swept in and wrapped his arms around her.

"Darling, are you all right?"

"What a rush!" said the Wife, eyes open, pupils blown. "We have to buy this house, darling! You have to feel what I felt!"

"I’m sorry, but that’s not going to happen," said Robin, coldly.

"What?" The Wife struggled to her feet. "Why?"

"I can’t sell a haunted house to a Medium," said Robin. "It’s against the law."

"Only if you report me," said the Wife. "If you don’t, you make the sale, your commission and a little extra on the side."

"Yes," said Robin. "And when you open a gateway to the Other Side and legions of angry ghosts descend on this neighborhood, I lose my licence and maybe go to jail as an accessory after the fact." She shook her head. "That is not going to happen."

She tucked her folder under her arm and gave the couple a withering look.

"You’ll have to find something on the mundane market."

"Surely we can work something out, Miss Foster," wheedled the Husband.

This time, Robin did smack him.

Author's Notes:
My life tends to inform what I write about and, since I've been looking for a house, this is the second short-fiction that I've written involving real estate.  Heaven help us if I ever decide to go on a diet.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What I'm Reading and What I'm Writing....

Good morning, gentle readers.  It's Monday morning and here I sit, eating an iced Honey Bun, sipping a Coca-Cola and finishing up a short story involving time travel.
The story is called Tempus Necat and I'm submitting it to 365Tomorrows.
In other news, this month marks the one year anniversary of the release of my first book, Dawnwind: Last Man Standing.  I had hoped to have the sequel, Dawnwind: Resurrection, finished and ready to publish by the end of this month, but, alas, circumstances have conspired against me.  I'm roughly halfway through Resurrection but the going is slow.  I have a full-time job now and am house-hunting.  When I get home, all I want to do is sit down, have a drink and sleep. 
Still, I persevere, ladies and gentlemen. I keep at it.  Some progress, after all, is better than none.
An odd thing about Resurrection is that the story hasn't twisted on me.  Usually, when I write, I start off with one story but, about a quarter of the way in, the narrative will twist and I'll find myself writing another story entirely.  That hasn't really happened with the current book, which is odd and somewhat alarming.  I don't think this has ever happened to me before, and so I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
I suppose only time and the reviews will tell.
In other news, I have managed to read a few things.  I just finished Gregory Maguire's What-the-dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy.  It's one of Maguire's lesser-known books and, even though it was interesting, I thought it lacked the polish of his other works.  Honestly, my biggest complaint about the story would be the framing device he used, telling one story within another.  Other than that, it was a decent read.  On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd probably give it a three.
I've also returned, after a long pause, to Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There.  It's a sequel to her previous book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making.  Cumbersome titles, I'm sure you'll agree, but entertaining reads.  Ms. Valente is very imaginative and you get a very clear sense of her main character, September.
And, finally, the other day, I picked up a new book, Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig.  Wendig is a great author whose previous books, Blackbird and Mockingbird, I thoroughly enjoyed.  Those were gritty, urban fantasies starring a rather unlovable protagonist.  Blue Blazes is another urban fantasy, set in a criminal underworld that knocks up against a supernatural Underworld.  I'm only a few chapters in so far, but it's a damn fun read mainly because Mr. Wendig does a great job making his main character, Mookie Pearl, sympathetic.  If you're looking for a good read and urban fantasy is your thing, you could do worse than picking up this book.
I'm off now, to work on Resurrection
And maybe have a Fuzzy Navel.
^_^

Monday, June 3, 2013

The More Things Change...

Twenty years from now...

Gwen knows there’s going to be fireworks the minute Mia shuts the car door. She can tell by the slight furrowing of her partner’s brow, the pursing of auburn-painted lips. As soon as the door shuts, Mia draws a deep breath.

Wait for it, thinks Gwen.

"Is that guy fucking serious?"

"Mia. . . ."

"I mean, really! Really?"

Mia waves a well-manicured hand at the house they came to see. It’s a turn of the century ranch. Brick exterior. Black shutters. Nicely raked front yard. Ornamental stones places here and there, to break up the sandy lot.

"Shit."

Mia huffs, winds down, her venom spent.

"I liked it," says Gwen.

"Why?" Mia looks at her as if she’d admitted to liking gum surgery.

"I don’t know. It’s cozy."

"It’s dumb as a box of hair. Not even a real AI! My phone is smarter than that place!"

"Why do we need a smart house?"

"Why do we need indoor plumbing?" scoffs Mia. "Or electric lights? Because it makes life better!"

"No," says Gwen, starting the car. "It just makes things easier. Easier isn’t always better."

"Look, sweety. . . ."

"No," says Gwen. She grips the steering wheel tight; she hates confrontation. "You look. You said you were tired of living in apartments and you didn’t want to get a condo. You said you wanted a house. Well, Mia, this house is what we can afford."

"We can do better than a dumb box," protests Mia.

"Smart houses cost money," says Gwen. "More money than I’m willing to pay just so some overblown computer can start the coffee maker in the morning and screen our phone calls."

"It’s not just your decision, Gwen."

"I never said it was."

Mia huffs, sits back, crosses her arms. "Are we going anywhere or are we just going to sit here and kill the batteries?"

Gwen hits her turn signal and pulls away from the curb. She guides the car down the street, passing boxy brick houses sitting in manicured, sandy lots. In the rearview mirror, she watches the house they came to see, getting smaller and smaller.

The perfect metaphor for my life, thinks Gwen. Everything I want gets smaller and smaller until it vanishes and I’m left with nothing.

She glances at Mia, still pouting, head turned, glaring at the passing street.

Well, thinks Gwen, almost nothing.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Nothing to see here...

Since it's a holiday I am going to take a little break from the blog.  Enjoy the day, gentle readers, but do take a moment to think of all the soldiers who have died in battle.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Visiting Grandpa

"Geez, the ‘40s were a weird time, grandpa."

"Kit, what are you lookin’ at?"

"Just some old pictures, grandpa. See?"

"Oh good Lord. Where’d you find those pics, son?"

"On an old flashdrive."

"How’d the hell you access it? That’s deadtech. Totally inorganic."

"I found an old tablet at the junk shop in town. Mister Ross gave me a real good deal on it."

"What you doin’ messin’ around with deadtech, Kit? I thought kids these days were all into them squid lookin’ things they walk aroun’ with on their heads."

"I don’t like usin’ the squid."

"Why not?"

"It always leave a bad taste in my mouth when I take it off."

"So you’d rather mess around with PreBio tech?"

"Sure. It’s cool. Kind of retro."

"Uh-huh."

"A lot of my friends are into it too."

"Is that a fact. Well, will wonders never cease."

"Grandpa, can I ask you something?"

"I reckon so."

"What was the Internet really like? We hear all kinds of stories ‘n stuff, but. . . ."

"Well, Kit, to be honest, it was mostly used for porn ‘n e-mail."

"So, it was sorta like the hivemind."

"I don’t rightly know, since I never used a squid."

"Never?"

"Nope."

"Wow. That’s . . . . Wow."

"Heh. Finally impressed you with somethin’, eh grandson?"

"Even mom and dad use the squids."

"I know. I seen ‘em, sittin’ on the couch, holdin’ hands with them things on their heads. They look like a right couple a fools, if you ask me."

"Oh!"

"You all right, Kit? You look like you sat on a tack."

"I’m fine, grandpa. Just realized what time it was. I have to go now."

"All right, son. You say howdy to your folks for me and be careful out there. All right?"

"Yes, sir."

* * * * *

Kit opened his eyes to the all-too familiar sensation of menemopede footsteps tickling his spine. He turned his head and saw an attendant scoop the creature up and wrap it around his neck like a fat scarf.

"Enjoy your visit?" asked the man.

"Yeah," said Kit. He sat up and the attendant passed him his shirt. "I wish I could stay longer."

"Sorry but everybody comes to the Archive on the weekend. And we only have so many mnemopedes to go around."

"I know," sighed Kit. "I wish grandpa didn’t have to live here."

"Happens to everybody eventually," said the attendant, shrugging. "Our bodies wear out and we wind up archiving our minds. It’s better than the alternative."

"Death."

"Yes," said the attendant. "You know about death?"

"I’ve read about it, but I don’t know anybody who’s actually done it."

"And that’s a good thing," said the attendant, smiling.

Kit shrugged and walked out of the Archive.

He’d stop by Mr. Ross’s store on the way home. Maybe he’d find something else really cool to show grandpa the next time he went to visit.

Grinning in anticipation, Kit ran all the way to the store.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Red Lovers on a Rooftop


Cold Bright Day

Sunlight falls,
Bright gold
From a cold, blue sky.

I sit,
Behind glass windows,
Watching,
Waiting,
Shivering.

Where did Spring go?
I pull on long pants,
A fire-red shirt,
Socks and shoes.
The chill lingers.

Sunlight falls.
Bright gold
From a cold, blue sky.

And I wonder
Where Spring went
And when will it return?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Silence

This past Saturday when I came home from the shop, I walked into an empty, silent house. My landlords, a very sweet couple with two kids and a small dog, were gone. 

No, they did not abscond like fugitives. They are moving to Illinois. Their absence was expected.

Still, despite the fact that I knew they would be leaving that day, walking into the house that evening and having them gone was somewhat discomfiting. I’ve been living here a while and have gotten used to the rhythms and habits of the family.

Always before, whenever anyone walked into the house, their little dog, Gizmo, would explode into a fury of barking and rush to meet you. Close on his heels would be the eldest child, three-year-old Ayden, curious to see who was arriving.

This past Saturday, there was nothing. No one met me at the door. Almost everything was gone. The house was dark and still, the light seeping through the window shades did not seem to want to penetrate. I walked into the kitchen and my footsteps echoed, queerly, in the emptiness.

Standing in the kitchen, I realized how used to my landlords’ family I had become. Their absence left me feeling off-kilter and a bit lonely.

It’s been a couple of days now and I’m still not used to the silence of the house. My rhythms are disrupted. I keep waiting for familiar sounds: the muted grind of the garage doors lifting, the choking coughs that accompany Dan’s morning ablutions, the rumble of the shower on the other side of my bedroom wall, little Adli’s high-pitched keens for attention, Ayden’s daredevil whoops as he leaps from sofa to floor, the muted sound of Big Bang Theory episodes being watched endlessly downstairs, Melissa’s patient voice calling Ayden back from the edge of overexuberance.

That’s all gone now. There’s just silence. The soft rumble of the air conditioner. The hum of the cable box.

I miss the noise, and, more importantly, the people who made it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

House 2: Electric Boogaloo!

First of all, ladies and gentlemen, I have to apologize for the title of this post. However, whenever I see a sequel to a film or book, I automatically think of that classic 1980s movie, Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo.  So, I couldn't resist using it as the title of this post.
Please forgive my questionable taste in 1980s cinema. ^_^
So, this afternoon I went and examined the house the realtor told me about.  It's not a bad house. It's got good bones. The location isn't bad; it's in an older, more settled neighborhood close to two Interstates and a popular shopping center.
Yes, the chocolate brown rug would have to go. So, too, would the linoleum in the kitchen.  Then the walls would have to be painted. The back door would need to be replaced. The back yard would need to be cleaned (It seems to have acquired a vast collection of deflated soccer balls, etc.) then attacked with a lawn mower.  The bathroom ceiling would have to be patched.
As I moved through the house I made a mental list of things that would need to be done to make the place livable.
And it's certainly doable.
If I had the mechanical skills, it probably wouldn't cost me much to do it myself.
However, gentle readers, there is a reason I let someone else change the oil in my car. There is a reason I don't tinker with hot water heaters or anything connected to propane/gas/etc.
Basically, the handyman genes have totally skipped me.  While my mom can put together a functional greenhouse using castoff plywood, plastic sheeting and holiday lights, suffice to say that I can plug in a heat lamp and that's about as do-it-yourself as I get.
By this point, the tally in my head had hit the red line.  Outside, the neighbor's dogs were barking up a storm as they had been since our arrival. 
And that, gentle readers, was when I knew this property was not for me.
Sure, it was in my price range. Sure, I could find a contractor to do the fiddly, mechanical bits. But I don't want to move into a new neighborhood and be That Guy; the one who complains about the dogs and kids and noise, etc.
So, I'm not making an offer on the house.  I shall let it slip away, into mist and dreams of what could have been.
I shall wait and see what comes along next.
Who knows?
Maybe it'll be something better.

House

Good morning, gentle readers.
Today, I am looking at a house.  It's a three bedroom, two bath foreclosure near where I currently live.  The photos the realtor has sent me look okay, although I already hate the carpet.  It's a shade of chocolate brown that I don't care for, not with pale walls.  So, if I buy it, the carpet will be the first thing to go.
Not that I'm really planning on buying it.  I'm going into this with no expectations at all. I'm going to go into the house, poke my head into closets and under sinks, examine the back yard, take a gander at the foundations and the roof and then leave.
It's curious how this house has arrived in my life.
I have a friend, who was supposed to move to my city. She asked me if I would check out some neighborhoods where she was considering buying a condominium. I said, 'Okay!' and wound up driving around town, checking out condos, cruising through neighborhoods, assessing them.
It's amazing how judgemental one can become when considering a place to live.
This place looks nice, but the surrounding neighborhood is crap.  That place had a nice neighborhood but the actual residence looked trashy. What are they using the HOA dues for? 
I've met with a couple of realtors, taking a look at condos for Lisa, and randomly mentioned to one that I wouldn't mind setting down roots myself. Although not in a condo. I've done that and don't think I'll do it again.
So, fast forward a couple of weeks. I get a phone call out of the blue from one of the realtors who informs me of a house that's just come on the market. It's on this side of town, the owners just lowered the price and would I like to take a look?
Sure. Why not? I've got nothing to lose.
So, I'm off this afternoon to take a look at the place.
I've already driven through the neighborhood.  It's decent enough. The houses are a mishmash of older and newer properties.  There are no chain link fences with razor wire running along the top and the yards are fairly well maintained.
I think you can tell a lot about a neighborhood by how well the properties are kept up.
There is one house that is either being torn down or reconstructed.  I honestly couldn't tell which, but it's down the street and I'm not too worried about it.
I like where I live at the moment.  It's nice and my landlords are good eggs.  But since this offer came, I have to admit to feeling itchy. 
It would be nice to have my own place again. A proper house this time as opposed to a boxy little condo.  So, I think I'll keep looking, even if the house today is a disappointment.
And if it isn't? If it's in decent shape on the inside, as well as the outside?
Who knows? Maybe I'll buy it.
If I do, I'm definitely changing the carpet.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Strawberry Ice-cream

Good morning, gentle readers.

Today, I don’t feel like writing. I don’t feel like doing anything but going to a movie and, maybe, getting some ice cream. Strawberry, I think. It feels like a strawberry ice-cream sort of day.

I should be doing promo work for the free book giveaway I’m doing next week. I should be contacting sites like Freebooksy and Books On The Knob, filling out their forms, planning cross-platform promotional strategies, etc.

I should be working on the third book, the sequel to Dawnwind: Last Man Standing.

I should be making notes on a new side project, a sequel to Capetales that doesn’t have a name yet but focuses on the bad guys in the Capetales Universe.

I should be doing a lot of things, but I’m not.

Instead, I’m sitting around thinking about strawberry ice-cream.

Sometimes, gentle readers, you have to surrender to the inevitable. 

So, I'm off to satisfy my urge for strawberry ice-cream, and maybe catch a movie.  Because we all deserve a day off.  Don't we?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trigger

Bombast,
Bomb blast,
Smoke pluming
Blood rushing.

Images,
On the screen,
Repeated
Ad nauseam.

Flashback,
Ten years ago,
Planes smashing,
Crashing,
Towers falling.

The madness
Has not begun
Again.
It never ended.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Small Gods

SMALL GODS

They stand in the corners,
forlorn,
almost forgotten,
waiting on someone,
anyone,
to remember their names.

Their voices,
which boomed like thunder,
once upon a time,
are now whispers.

You have to strain
to hear them,
in the rustle of leaves,
in the fall of rain.

Diminished and dim,
the Small Gods wait,
hoping and praying
for someone,
anyone,
to remember them,
to invoke them.

And each year,
there are fewer of them.
Their voices failing,
their glory fading,
as they fall
into obscurity.

The Small Gods wait,
forlorn,
almost forgotten,
praying that someone,
anyone,
will remember their names.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mrs. Black Saves the World

Hello, gentle readers.  This scene has been rattling around in my head for a little while, refusing to grow into anything bigger. So, I thought I would plant it here, on the Internet, just to get it out of my head.  I hope everyone had a fine Easter and that Spring is busy springing wherever you are.

* * * * *

MRS. BLACK SAVES THE WORLD

This is the way the world ends.

Not with a bang or a whimper, but the crackle of a turning page.

The Doomsday Book looks properly impressive. It is heavy and black, bound in the leathery hide of the beast that killed the dinosaurs.

The Doomsday Book’s pages are made of vellum, pale as milk. The words printed on them with meticulous care look as if they were just penned; the characters are red. Against the pale parchment they look like bleeding wounds in white flesh.

Mrs. Black found the book in the Goodwill shop, lying on the discount table. She paid a dollar for it and took it home with her. That night, she sat in her favorite chair with a cup of tea and a plate of oatmeal cookies close to hand, and read it.

It was not a very thick book and it only took her an hour to finish. Afterwards, sitting there, sipping her tea, nibbling on a cookie, she considered the end of the world. It all seemed a bit messy and quite unnecessary.

She went into the spare room and rummaged through her late husband’s desk. After a little while, she returned to her chair. Picking up the Doomsday Book, Mrs. Black opened it. She smoothed the parchment with her hand and peered at the red words.

Then, she opened the bottle of White-Out and poured it over the page.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Angels of Mercy & Death

Hello, gentle readers.
A while back I wrote an obligatory zombie story.  When you write genre fiction, I think it is inevitable that you will write a story involving the undead.  That may mean vampires or zombies or ghosts, but you'll eventually wind up writing about one of them or all of them.
My story, The Finishers, is set in a world where the zombie apocalypse has come and gone. Humanity survived, but society has changed.
This morning, I've been working on a story set in that same world, although involving different characters. 
It hasn't gone well.
I think my concept is sound.  In a world where you know the dead will rise, how would people prepare for their inevitable, natural death? What sort of organizations and social mechanisms would develop to deal with that situation?
I've been trying to explore that in this short story, tentatively titled Angels of Mercy & Death. The protagonist in the story has slowly taken shape over the course of the morning, but the story itself remains vague and undefined.  Its ending is elusive.  I'm not happy with it.  Not happy at all.
Still, I persevere, because what else am I going to do?
Give up?
Ha!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Resuming Normal Service

Hello, gentle readers. Happy Monday! Hopefully, everyone has recovered from their Saint Patrick's Day celebrations.  If not? Congratulations!

As many of you will have noticed the last few weeks my posts here have consisted of a webcomic.  Friends Like These has sort of mirrored my own experiences as a writer, so it's been sort of cathartic. Like Grey I've been struggling with writer's block for a little while now, and, like him, I've gotten a lot of well-meaning advice.  Unlike Grey, however, I have not ventured into the world of funny animal erotica. Well, not yet anyway. Who knows what the future holds?
Producing the webcomic has been interesting.  It's let me be creative without the pressure of producing 1000 words a day.  Actually, I think it's taught me a lot about pacing and concise communication.  Fitting dialogue into those word balloons so it looks halfway decent is NOT easy.
Nevertheless, I think it's time to take a little break from Friends Like These and get back to the usual posts.

I feel a bit recharged now and ready to write.

That said, though, we haven't seen the last of Friends Like These.  I have three other strips already done and waiting to be released at some future date.

Heaven help us.

^_^

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Review of Oz, The Great & Powerful

I have a complicated relationship with the Land of Oz.

As a child, I remember reading Baum’s books and liking them. They didn’t blow me away like Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time, but they were okay.

As an adult, I read Gregory Maguire’s Wicked quartet with relish. He reinvented Oz and its residents, making them much more three-dimension, much more interesting.

After reading Maguire’s work, I was curious to see how the Oz books would hold up, so I started rereading them. Very quickly, I came to regret that decision. The characters were priggish, the narrative was spotty and there were continuity gaffs. I suspect if I were ever to meet Dorothy Gail I would be extremely tempted to give her a smack and tell her to quit being such a little madame!

So, I didn’t have high hopes when I went to see Oz the Great and Powerful at the movies. Alas, I knew within the first fifteen minutes of watching the movie that I had made a horrible, horrible mistake.

Most of the actors are hands-down godawful. James Franco’s performance in this movie has managed to eclipse Hayden Christensen’s awful performance as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels. That’s not an easy thing to do, in my humble opinion. Mister Franco has lowered the bar for actors everywhere.

The other performances are simply serviceable and easily forgotten. Which will probably be a mercy for most of their careers.

The less said about the dialogue and script the better.

It seemed to me that most of the money on this movie was sunk into the CGI and special FX. The Land of Oz looks suitably impressive, colorful and vibrant. It’s a great pity, then, that it’s inhabited by a bunch of dull, flat characters who are about as charming as case of influenza.

On the Media Scale of Movie Love, I have to give Oz the Great and Powerful 2 out of 10. Don’t waste your money going to see this clunker at the theater. Don’t rent it, don’t stream it. If you must watch it, wait for it to come out on basic cable and make sure you have a lot of booze on hand to blunt its raw awfulness.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Amnesia

AMNESIA

I have a Muse.
Her name is Amnesia.
She’s never around,
When I really need her.

She’s off, gallivanting,
With some other guy,
Leaving me on my own.
Don’t ask me why.

Amnesia is fickle.
She comes and she goes.
She gives me the fits,
As I struggle with prose.

I’d get a new Muse,
In a minute.
It’s true!
But what if she’s worse?
What’s a writer to do?

So I’ll grin and I’ll bear it.
I won’t open my trap.
I’ll sit and I’ll wait,
And put up with her crap.

‘Cause sometimes it’s better,
The Devil you know,
Than to find a new Muse,
And risk greater woe.

Amnesia is fickle.
That much is true.
But when she is here,
See what we can do?
^_^

Monday, February 11, 2013

Grimness

Hello, gentle readers.

It’s a rainy day here and I am doing laundry.

Ah, the pleasures of domesticity.

They are, ladies and gentlemen, a bit overrated.

Weren’t we supposed to have self-cleaning houses by now? Or robot servants? Whatever happened to the flying car?

Sometimes, it seems like the promise of the future has not been achieved. Which, if I’m being completely honest, depresses the hell out of me.

Occasionally, I have stories posted at a website called 365tomorrows.com. The site is devoted to showcasing short science fiction. Lately, though, I’ve noticed a trend in the stories that they’ve been featuring. They’re dark and grim, focusing on death and war.

Now, I like a good post-apocalyptic yarn as much as the next guy, but I don’t want a steady diet of it. Sadly, that seems to be all we’re getting these days.

Science fiction and fantasy have just become so grim.

Where’s the wonder? The joy? What is with this tendency to wallow in angst like an overemotional thirteen-year-old?

Whatever happened to fun?

Monday, February 4, 2013

February

Hello, gentle readers.

Welcome to February.

I don’t care much for February. It’s a short, unpleasant month that always feels colder and more miserable than any of the other winter months. In my mind’s eye, February is the Napoleon of the Months, a short bastard trying to overcompensate for its lack of days by making them as miserable and wintery as possible.

Part of the effect, I think, is psychological. I’ve had some bad experiences in this month. It is peppered with bleak anniversaries for me that I will not discuss, but, suffice to say, I don’t look forward to it and don’t miss it when it’s gone. During the actual month, I sort of hunker down and assume a siege mentality. I prepare for the worst, even though most of the time nothing bad happens.

And, so far, February hasn’t been bad. I started a part-time job this month at my local comic shop, working about thirty hours a week. The work is pretty easy, the co-workers are cool, the customers are pretty nice and the work environment is stimulating.

So, that’s a good thing.

Sure, having a job means I’ll have less time to devote to writing, but I’m sure I’ll continue to do it. I’m about halfway through writing the sequel to Dawnwind: Last Man Standing. And I’m practically absent from Twitter, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Twitter does tend to eat up ones entire life. Or it that just me?

Anyway, even though February isn’t my favorite month, so far, this year, it has been agreeable. And I suppose that being agreeable is better than being outright unpleasant.

So, I am offering a flag of truce to February. I’ll try not to think of you as such a little stinker, if you don’t turn around and bite me in the ass.

I think that’s fair.

Don’t you?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Choice & Change

Good morning, gentle readers. How is everyone? Hopefully, bundled up against the winter chill.

Here, it feels as if winter has finally arrived. There’s a crisp snap to the air when you walk outside and the wind feels as if it’s trying to skin you when you walk into it.

You would think I would be inured to this cold, having spent fifteen years in Alaska. There, it wasn’t properly cold unless, when you walked outside and inhaled, everything in your nose froze solid.

However, I’ve been back in the south for a couple of years now and suspect that my blood has thinned a bit. I haven’t completely lost my tolerance for the cold. When it is in the fifties, I still walk around in a T-shirt with no jacket.

Nowadays, however, with the mercury in the forties, I wear my coat over that T-shirt and, more often than not, consider pulling on a knit cap. I am, it seems, becoming a southern creature once again.

By this time next year I will probably be bundled up like an Antarctic explorer when it is only sixty degrees outside.

We all change to suit our environments. We adapt to the circumstances of our lives. It is, I think, one of our great strengths as human beings, this ability of ours to change and adapt.

Change, however, can be frightening.

When I left my old job to try the writing life, I was afraid. Sure, I put on a good front. Of course, I was confident that good things would happen, and I am pleased to say that they have. However, that doesn’t alter the fact that more than once, lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, I worried that I had made a colossal mistake. I had given up certainty for the unknown.

There are still days when I have brief flashes of unease. What if the writing doesn’t work out? What if I exhaust my savings? What if I wind up homeless, living out of my car on the street somewhere?

Even rarer. What if I succeed? What if I become a successful writer and that changes me into someone I don’t want to be? One of those self-important, pontificating old farts that I loathe so much?

We adapt to our circumstances. We change to survive. However, we are not animals. We are not inanimate objects. We have free will and we can choose how we want to change.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, our ability to choose the changes we make, may be our greatest strength of all.