Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

Set aside your pity and enjoy this for what it really is: A celebration of the thinning of the heard. That’s right; It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. I’ve selected another story involving fun with electricity. Enjoy…

(1982, Texas) At the Amarillo Fairgrounds, some buildings were in need of a coat of paint, so local contractors were hired to do the job.

Between the buildings was an angled culvert, designed to drain rainwater away from the buildings. Because of the slope, the wheeled painter scaffolding tended to roll downhill, so the painters removed the wheels on the scaffolding. They were in the process of moving the scaffolding, when the metal structure met a transformer. The painters were killed.

The story made the headlines. The town was abuzz with talk of the tragedy, how it had come to pass, and whether the city was liable for damages. The city officials decided they needed to conduct an investigation.

With much fanfare, they arrived at the scene of the incident, prepared to personally recreate the circumstances. Two officials grabbed the scaffolding in the exact same location as the two painters, began to move the scaffolding... and were promptly electrocuted.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

All I can say is...wow!

Well it was an eventful weekend to say the least.


Let’s see…I stepped up another level in my Mixed Martial Arts training; yeah, I passed my Green Belt test.

We broke out the wakeboard, but it was really windy at the lake this weekend so we spent more time eating waves than riding them. Man, the lake was choppy. It was still fun trying, though.

We pulled the boats in to shore so we might partake of some tasty morsels (you know…to refuel us so we might make even bigger asses of ourselves). When we returned to the boats, mine was full of water. As I mentioned it was really choppy and my boat sits really low in the water. No problem, I thought. I have a bilge pump. I turned it on and…nothing.

We managed to get the darned thing over to the boat landing and as we waited in line for our opportunity to use the landing (yeah, the lake was insanely crowded), we heard sirens and watched the drag crew scramble into gear. Someone went under and didn’t resurface.

The drag crew uses a very bizarre looking, but effective tool; a four foot by two foot oval with hooks lining the inner ring. You had better hope if they come for you with one of these that they catch an arm or leg, because…damn. The hook doesn’t care where it gets purchase, hand, foot, arm, leg, head, eye, neck…well, you get the picture.

I’m down by the dock, not thirty yards from where they’re dragging when I see the lead line go taught. He quickly signals the driver of the boat and they creep forward. One man steadies the opposite side of the boat and another prepares to help, the one pulling in the rope, to pull in the body.

There it is…a hand breaks the surface, followed by a head. I can see that his body is still yellow. The liver still lives, but it is shutting down. His face is slightly purple from lack of oxygen. He was under for somewhere between fourteen and eighteen minutes. Even as cool as the lake waters are, that’s too long. Still they perform CPR. They work on this guy for what seems like an eternity. His head is steadily growing a deeper shade of purple and the yellow is slowing succumbing to a pasty grey as he lays in the bottom of their boat. I can see he’s gone, but still they pound away at his chest.

At last, they gather around in deep discussion. They make a big show of hooking up a cardio monitor and they bag him, an EMT squeezing the bag at a steady pace to make the chest rise and fall. They carry him like this to the ambulance. The thing is, I realized they bagged him for the sake of the crowd. He was dead and even if he wasn’t his brain sure was.

The 27 year old man had tried to swim to the buoys in the choppy as sin lake (about a hundred or so yard) without a life vest. Police also suggest that alcohol and/or medications may have been involved. Now he is dead.

So…we shook it off, and went to work on my boat. Pump fixed we were ready to return to the good times. We engaged in the full gambit of water sports. I even broke out my Sea-Doo for this little camping trip. By the time the sun set, I was almost grateful to see it go. I crashed shortly after.

Now you would think that between the nasty looking hooks and the morbid scene of the day before Sunday would be wholly uneventful. You would be wrong. We just so happened to be bringing the boats in for lunch when we saw the drag crew hard at it…again. This time when they pulled in the body there was no doubt he was dead. I’m not sure what color he started out as but anyone who is smoke grey can’t be in the best of shape. He had been under water for hours before they found him. He was a 19-year-old kid from Mexico. He also attempted to cross the choppy waters in search of the coveted prime buoy perch. Now he is dead.

We actually called it an early day and returned to camp just a few hours after that. The sun was starting to set so, we built a nice fire. Let’s see camping and a camp fire…oh, yeah it was time for s’mores. Just as I catch a marshmallow on fire, I hear shouting and arguing from the camp next to us. I quickly finish the s’more and pass it off to one of the waiting children and try to sneak a peak at what’s going on. Suddenly, I hear my wife calling for in a panicked voice. I’m running through the campsite at full trot, by the time I get to the fight, several people were already restraining the drunken idiots.

Other than that, it was great weekend. We had a lot of laughs, a lot of spills and a lot of new material for my books. It was definitely a memorable Memorial Day weekend.

How did you spend the holiday weekend?

Friday, May 26, 2006

I'm such a tease...

Ok peeps, here is a little teaser for you. This is the very first draft of Chapter 1 of my new novel, Hell A. Keep in mind, it will be (hopefully), quite different by the time I’m ready to submit. For one, I have to figure out a better way to introduce my protag than the visual dump I have going on right now. But again, this is just a little tease for what I’m working on now. I will give you say…three chapters and then you will just have to wait until it hits the shelves before you can find out what sick and twisted things I come up with for them.

Enjoy…
Hell A

Chapter 1

At six four, two hundred and forty pounds, Johnny Durant was a formidable man. His body was a rock, forged by years spent toiling on his farm. His dark locks surrounded a cherubic face that seemed out of place on his massive frame, a face that spent much of the last six years clouded with pain. He inherited his farm when he was just nineteen years old. His parents where killed by a drunk driver while they were driving home from a cattle auction. They were the only family he ever.

They only happiness he could find came from the company of his high school sweetheart, Jenna Brooks. She had been there to comfort him through the dark times and smile at his accomplishments. That was about to change.

“Johnny, I have to go,” Jenna sobbed as she folded another shirt and placed it in her suitcase.
“Please don’t do this, baby,” he whispered behind her. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”
“Yes…it does. I can’t be here anymore.”
“But, I love you,” he insisted, placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
“I love you too, but it isn’t enough,” she replied softly as she gripped his fingers.
“It has to be. If we love each other, nothing else should matter.”
“You are such an idealist, Johnny. Love only conquers all in the fairy tales.” She shook her head slowly. “This is the real world.”
“What’s worse, being an idealist or a dreamer?” Johnny glared down at her.
“What…you want to take potshots at me now?” She turned to face him, lips curled in anger.
“I’m just saying, you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth,” he replied, not letting his eyes meet hers.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“You speak of the real world and yet here you go off chasing a dream.”
“Yes, it is a dream, but it’s one I can make real. I already have a couple of gigs lined up.”

“Why do you have to go to California?” Johnny threw his hands up in exasperation as he spoke. “There are a lot of singers that have done just fine working in Oklahoma.”
“That may be true but they all live in one of the big cities. We live out here in the middle of nowhere. I could move to Tulsa or I could move to L.A.” She shrugged. “If I’m going to have to move either way, I might as well go where the better opportunities are.”
“Then let me come with you.” He caressed her face.
“Are you serious?” Her hand covered his on her cheek. “What about your farm?”
“I’ll sell it.” He shrugged. “None of this means anything, if I have no one to share it with.”

“I can’t let you do that. What happens if I don’t--?”
“Stop right there.” He placed a finger on her lips. “You said it yourself; you already have a few gigs lined up. Once people out there here your voice, it won’t take long for you to make all your dreams come true.”
“Oh, Johnny,” she sighed, turning away from him. “This place is all you have left of your parents. Please, don’t throw it away for my dreams. Hell, we aren’t even married.”
“Then let’s just put it all on the line,” he said before kneeling on one knee. “Will you marry me?”

“Now? Now you ask me to marry you?” She couldn’t help but laugh.
“I’m serious. I should have made an honest woman of you years ago.”

He watched her anxiously as she chewed on her bottom lip. It was a nervous habit and just one of the countless nuances that endeared her to him. She began to shake her head slowly, gaining momentum as her conviction mounted. She took a deep breath. As he watched her chest rise, he knew she was about to deliver her deathblow.

“It isn’t right, Johnny.” She gently urged him back to his feet. “Not like this. If you’re really willing to come with me--”
“I would follow you anywhere, baby…even Hell A. You make me whole. Without you…I’m nothing.”
“Alright, but let’s be sensible about this. It’s expensive enough for one person to get by, let alone two.”
“I still have a big chunk of my inheritance just sitting in the savings account. It should be enough to keep us afloat for months.”
“I can’t let you do that.”
“I can work--”

“Doing what? They don’t have a big need for farmers there and that’s all you know how to do.”
“I could learn to do anything, once I put my mind to it.”
“I’m sure you can. Look, give me six months to get established. After that, I should be able to support us while you learn a new trade.”
“Six months? My God, but that’s a long time, Jenna.”

“I’ll call you every day,” she said before kissing his hand. “And surely after six months I’ll have a pretty good feel for whether I’m gonna be able to make it as a singer or not.”
“And if you can’t?”
“Then you’ll be damn happy you didn’t sell your farm.” She laughed. “And we can be an old married couple watching our children grow up running through the same fields you did.”
“Would that be so bad?”

“No and even if I can launch a stellar music career, that might still be in our future.”
“You know, having a place out in the sticks like this might be the only way to have any privacy once you’re famous.”
“Does that mean you’re ok with this?” She smiled up at him.
“No,” he replied, shaking his head. “But it means I’m willing to support you in anything you want to do.”
She threw her arms around him, burying her face in his chest. He gripped her as tightly as he dared, wishing he didn’t have to let her go.
“God, I love you,” she said, slowly pulling herself from his embrace.

“I love you too.”

###


His face was stoic as he watched her taillights disappear among the trees that lined his drive. He stood there for nearly an hour, waiting, hoping, and finally praying he would hold her in his arms again soon.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chalk one up for the bad guys...

Ripped straight from the headlines on Publisher’s Lunch.

Campaign Targets "Worst Agents"
Blogger/agent Miss Snarkis on the warpath over Barbara Bauer, "one of the 20 worst agents" according to a list compiled by the SFWA's Writer's Beware. (The list is based on the "bulk of complaints" received by the organization, and comprises agencies that charge fees prior to making a sale and "have virtually no documented and verified sales at all" to real publishers.)

Bauer reportedly threatened the operator of the Absolute Write website, which had published the list (including Bauer's name and contact information), and the site has been taken down.



The apparently charismatic scammer has been itching to pick a fight since the day the list. She tried to have Teresa Nielsen Hayden fired for posting the list and Babs has been huffing and puffing since. It appears that the bad guys have one a round with the closure of the Absolute Write website. Let’s do our part to make sure this is the last successful blow they throw in the writing community.

I know I posted the list once, but here it is again and by all means spread the word to anyone who may be affected. Say it loud and say it proud. The wallet you save, may be your own.

Below is a list of the 20 literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints over the past several years.

None of these agencies has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (book placements claimed by some of these agencies turn out to be "sales" to vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made--whether directly, by levying fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for editing or other adjunct services.

Writer Beware recommends that writers avoid questionable literary agencies, and instead query agencies that have verifiable track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

Note that while the 20 agencies listed here account for the bulk of the complaints we receive, they're just the tip of the iceberg. Writer Beware has files on nearly 400 questionable agencies, and we learn about a new one every few weeks.
• The Abacus Group Literary Agency
• Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
• Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
• Sherwood Broome, Inc.
• Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
• Desert Rose Literary Agency
• Arthur Fleming Associates
• Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
• Brock Gannon Literary Agency
• Harris Literary Agency
• The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
-Children's Literary Agency
-Christian Literary Agency
-New York Literary Agency
-Poets Literary Agency
-The Screenplay Agency
-Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
-Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
• Martin-McLean Literary Associates
• Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
• B.K. Nelson, Inc.
• The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
• Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency, Simply Nonfiction, and Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency)
• Southeast Literary Agency
• Mark Sullivan Associates
• West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

Flirting with Disaster

Well, the proverbial flood gates are open. I’m hammering away at the new novel. I’ve been working on the edits for my short story, The New Kid. As if that weren’t enough, I’ve been toying around with another short story idea.

I have to be as productive as I can now, cause you know…summer’s here. I’ve already got the wakeboard out and ready. The camping gear has been checked, sorted and stacked for easy loading. The boat, well it’s been wet and is raring to churn some waves. That’s right, boys and girls, it’s lake season.

My output takes a serious hit in the summer months. I know, I know…I’m a writer. I should be writing, but by dog, I do like the great outdoors when it’s warm out. Don’t worry, I’ll still manage to get at least a dozen chapters finished this summer (which is probably what I will punch out in the month of September alone) and maybe a short story or two, but I will be shocked if I produce much more than that. Of course, if I had a deadline, I would do whatever it takes to make sure I made it, but as it is…

Yeah, I’m also willing to go so far as to say if a certain major publishing house decides they are indeed going to pick up one or more of my novels, my plans may change. Barring that, it’s time for some fun in the sun.

How about you? Is there a time of year that your just not as productive, be it with a job, a hobby, a passion or a way of life?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards.

DARWIN AWARD (19 March 2006, Belize) Benjamin Franklin is said to have flown a kite in a lightning storm, to discover whether lightning is the same as electricity. However, there are certain precautions one must take to avoid electrocution.
Kennon, 26, recently replicated the conditions of Franklin's experiment, sans precautions, while flying a kite for his niece. The string was too short, so he attached a length of thin copper wire...
The copper wire made contact with a high tension line, sending a bolt of "artificial lightning" down the wire.
Kennon's father told the media his son should have known better, as he's an electrician.
Kennon is survived by his parents, six sisters and five brothers.

Lol, I think I fired this electrician a few years ago. It’s been my experience (after working with a slew of them) that they are either quite sharp, exuding confidence or dumber than dirt, leaving me to wonder how they make it through the day. This one apparently didn’t.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Give Me a Little Giggle, Baby!

Books on Tape We Don't Want to Hear
The Communist Manifesto as read by Ronald Reagan
The Torah as read by Louis Farrakhan
The Koran as read by Salman Rushdie
The Anarchist's Cookbook as read by Theodore Kaczinsky
How To win Friends and Influence People as read by Dennis Rodman
Europe on $10 a Day as read by Steve Forbes
The Godfather as read by John Gotti
Uncle Tom's Cabin as read by George Wallace
I'm Ok You're Ok as read by Rush Limbaugh
Moby Dick as read by Jonah
Crime and Punishment as read by OJ Simpson
A Tale of Two Cities as read by Ed Koch and Rudi Giuliani
The Gulag Archipelago as read by Josef Stalin
Feynman's Lectures On Physics as read by Dan Quayle
The Joy of Cooking as read by Hannibal Lecter
The Wealth of Nations as read by Fidel Castro


And now for something educational…

How To Write Good by Frank L. Visco
1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
4. Employ the vernacular.
5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
8. Contractions aren't necessary.
9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
10. One should never generalize.
11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
13. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
14. Profanity sucks.
15. Be more or less specific.
16. Understatement is always best.
17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be avoided.
21. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
22. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
23. Who needs rhetorical questions?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Here's Lookin' at You Kid...

Have I mentioned my Aunt Jan is a professional photographer? She does some truly amazing work with a lens. What…you don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself, Rtistic Expressions.

Some of her photos look like they would make excellent book covers. Hmm…maybe I could work something out there. Anyhoo, if you are need of a great photographer, she is available and quite reasonably priced.

If you contact her, be sure to tell her that I sent you along.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Still Here!

Life…is good

Friday, May 19, 2006

Together at Last...

Ah, it’s time to put flowers on the table, light the scented candles and uncork a good bottle of wine. My wife’s coming home today. It feels like she’s been gone for an eternity. I guess that’s to be expected when a couple spends as much time together as we do. Anything more than a day or two and I find myself feeling adrift in this big ol’ house of ours.

It could be worse, I suppose; at least I have my son to keep me company. She, on the other hand, has a voice on a phone. I think I have the better end of this particular stick. At least it’s almost over.

She should be well out over the ocean by now, thoughts of fish & chips and cobblestone streets fading away. She has only one last obstacle separating her from my open arms: The hell that is customs.

It’s definitely high time she came home. Her pillow doesn’t smell liker her anymore, although it’s case mysteriously didn’t make into the wash this time around. But then…tonight, it won’t be her pillow that I fall asleep holding. My wife…she’s coming home.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I know I will…



Especially when we get to do this:

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blazing Trails

Well, for those of you keeping score at home, I’ve finished the outline for, Hell A, the follow up to, The Dance. This is the first time I’ve written the outline beforehand. I have to say, in this instance, it worked out great. I was able to identify problems with the storyline and correct them with a few sentences, rather than re-writing entire chapters. We’ll just have to see how it works out when I start forming the chapters. If everything falls into place, I may have to do this for all my future works. If not, well…I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants for this long and (I hope) haven’t botched it up too horribly.

In other news, I rode my motorcycle to work this morning. That in itself, isn’t so odd as I ride every chance I get. I wore a helmet. My wife, and now my son, have been hounding the dickens out of me over the issue. I like the wind in my hair, they like the thought of me surviving a crash. It’s a toss up really, but I’ve decided to give it the ol’ college try.

Ok, kids if you’re thinking about taking up cycling, remember…safety first, pumpkin. Wear the damn helmet. Once you get into the habit of not wearing one, it’s hard as hell to get used to wearing one.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards.

DARWIN AWARD (17 April 2006, England) There's always someone who thinks that good advice doesn't apply to them. For example, if advised by a doctor that you are to be covered wtih a flammable material, and the one thing you must not do is go near a naked flame, most people would be able to take this advice onboard, and not strike a match until the flammable material smeared on your body had been taken off.
However, Phillip, 60, decided he knew better. He was in hospital for the treatment of a skin disease, which consisted of being covered with a paraffin-based cream. He was warned that the cream was flammable and that he definitely shouldn't smoke. But Phillip couldn't live without his cigarettes.
Smoking was not permitted in the ward, but Phillip took this setback in stride, and sneaked out onto a fire escape. Once he was in his little hiding place, he lit up... ahh. Everything went well as he got his nicotine fix; things went downhill only after he finished his cigarette, and ground out the butt with his heel.
Unfortunately, the paraffin skin cream had been absorbed by his clothing. As he stamped out the butt, it lit the fumes coming off his pyjamas. The resulting inferno treated his skin ailment, and left him with first-degree burns over 70% of his body. Despite excellent emergency treatment, he died in the intensive care unit.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mission Impossible 3 Review

I took my son to see Mission Predictable 3. All kidding aside, it had some great special effects, some awesome action scenes and well…all the things you would expect from a Mission Impossible movie. Having said all that, it’s been done before, twice to be exact.

There is a mole in the organization and it is up to Ethan Hunt to figure out who it is. Along the way, he somehow gets pegged as the bad guy and has to turn fugitive to solve the case.

If you’ve never seen the first two or if you are just a fan of high budget action movies, this is going to be right up your alley. It’s worth seeing, but I suggest you wait until this one comes out on DVD.


Rating: 3 Stars




Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of little children- The Crow.

And now for some silliness…

The Evolution of Mom

Yes, parenthood changes everything. But parenthood also changes with each baby. Here, some of the ways having a second and third child differs from having your first:

Your Clothes -

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.

2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.

3rd baby: Your maternity clothes are your regular clothes.

The Baby's Name -

1st baby: You pore over baby-name books and practice pronouncing and writing combinations of all your favorites.

2nd baby: Someone has to name their kid after your great-aunt Mavis, right? It might as well be you.

3rd baby: You open a name book, close your eyes, and see where your finger falls. Bimaldo? Perfect!

Preparing for the Birth -

1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.

2nd baby: You don't bother practicing because you remember that last time, breathing didn't do a thing.

3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th month.

The Layette -

1st baby: You prewash your newborn's clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.

2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.

3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?

Worries -

1st baby: At the first sign of distress - a whimper, a frown - you pick up the baby.

2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.

3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.

Activities -

1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.

2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.

3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out -

1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home 5 times.

2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.

3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home -

1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.

2nd baby: You spend a bit of every day watching to be sure your older child isn't squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.

3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.


Make sure to call your Mothers today. And to all of you great mothers out there: Happy Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Good Morning!

Well, we dropped the boat in the water for the first time yesterday. I took my son to do a little fishing. The sun was shining, the birds singing, the fish…well, I don’t know what they were doing, but they weren’t biting. Oh, sure the occasional big boy leap out of the water near us as if to say, nanner nanner, but we didn’t even get so much as a nibble. Alas, it was fun to have a little quality father-son time.

We have another busy day ahead of us, so if you’ll excuse me…

Oh, and for those of you keeping score, my writer’s block broke yesterday evening and I wrote until nearly 2 this morning. Ah, it’s good to be writing again.


Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday Already?

Ah, things are finally starting to calm down around here. I’m nearly caught up on all the work that stacked up my desk while I was on vacation. I’m not sure how it happened, but I was only gone for six days and accumulated nine days worth of work. Fuzzy math seems to be in effect this week.

Sadly, I’m playing catch up by myself. My wife flew out for Durham, England on Wednesday. She will be gone for an eternity ten days. I miss her already.

I do have some good news on the writing front. My short story, The New Kid, will be in the Fall 2006 Issue of Spinetingler Magazine. This is a great magazine. They publish some absolutely amazing stories. I had the privilege of reading their 2005 Anthology and all I can say is…wow. It was an absolute delight to read.

Having said all that, I seem to be suffering from a touch of…performance anxiety. Last night, after I tucked my son in, I sat at my desk with the intention of pounding out a few chapters of my new novel. I drew a blank. I read back over the first few pages I wrote before I left and…nothing. I’m hoping my muse is just recouping from the trip and will be back at my ear soon. I know it’s something that happens to every writer at some point, but it still sucks when it happens to you.

I have a few techniques I’ve employed in the past with varying degrees of success, so I’m not overly concerned at this point. It does, however, provide an excellent opportunity for an interactive post. What do you do to overcome writer’s block?

For those of you who aren’t writers, what do you do to get through a task that should be second nature to you, but you just can’t seem to accomplish?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Movie Review: Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek is another Australian horror movie. This one was in the tradition of > The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Like TCM, Wolf Creek is based true events. To me, that makes this movie just a little scarier. Nothing sets my hair on end like the human monster.

Three friends embark on a cross-country drive, stopping along the way to take in the sights of the great outback. When they stop to hike in the meteor crater at Wolf Creek, they fall into the clutches of a maniac who has been terrorizing tourists for what appears to be decades.

This is a seriously gory movie; lots of blood, lots of screaming and lots of psychotic behavior. It has just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. If you are a fan of Slasher films, this one is a must see.


Rating: 5 Stars




Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I'm Back!!!!!!!!!

We’re back! What a whirlwind of a trip that turned out to be. Before I get into details of the trip, I want to give a giant congratulations to my wife. She not only completed her half-marathon (13.1 miles), but she did it in two hours and thirteen minutes. She met a new friend on the course, that helped motivate her and keep a good pace. Thanks Kora, for being there for her. I’m forever in your debt. My wife said the course was brutal. Between the altitude and the hilly terrain (Reno is in a mountainous region), she had her doubts early on that she was going to be able to make it.

And now, for a break down of the rest of the vacation…


We arrived at the airport on Thursday morning to find that the airline had cancelled our flight (sometime during our drive to the airport because we called to check on it before we left).

“Oh, we’re sorry, Mr. Goodman. That flight has been cancelled.”
“That sucks, we just called before we got in the car.”
“Oh, but look, since you arrived two hours early, I can book you on a different flight.”
“Ah, so it does pay to follow the rules from time to time.”
(her laughing, probably from the relief that she didn’t have to face the anger she was expecting for delivering such news), “Indeed, it looks like the only seats we have open for you are in first class, so you now get an upgrade on us.”
“Outstanding.”

Yeah, that pretty much set the tone for the trip. We were served coffee while the rest of the plane boarded. Once in the air, the offered us a warm (yes, with actually steam and everything) mixed nuts and afterwards some hot towels to clean our fingers with. Don’t even get me started about how much more comfortable the chairs in first class. I actually had room. It was a thing of beauty.

On the second leg of the trip, we were served food. Honest to God, turkey, salad, crackers, cheese cookies and wine (all free). Mixed drinks are also free in first class, but it was still a little early in the day for that.

We gambled…a lot, but we also took in the sights. Reno…The Biggest Little City in the World! Yes, there are plenty of ways to occupy your time there, but the official draw is the gambling.

By the second day, we were still pretty much flush, even though we had spent hours and hours on end gambling. I stopped by the Rewards Center at Harrah’s to see what all the numbers on my players card were good for. He swiped my card, blinked several times and said that I had managed a one day qualifier for the next tier of player’s card. I’m still not sure what all that entails, but he gave me a Harrah’s platinum card. If I thought everyone was nice before I received that card (which they were), the experience paled in comparison to the treatment we received after that. We had special entrances to nearly everything where we didn’t have to wait in line. We were even offered our own special room in the buffet restaurant, Carvings. Now this room was quite plush and comfortable, but the really shocking thing was they had waitresses that walked around pouring free glasses of champagne. Speaking of free, the only meal we paid for during the entire trip was at the Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse. Everything else was comp’ed. Harrah’s really knows how to take care of their patrons.

The slots were, for the most part, kind. We did have long stretches were it looked like they were finally going to eat up all of our allotted gambling money for the day, but then…poof, out of no where, we would hit a machine that would not only bring us flush, but take us a little ahead.

The Black Jack tables, had the option to place side bets. For example, on one table you could place a side bet that you were going to get a pair. If you received the pair you won at 15 to 1. On another table, the side bet was called a royal match. On this table if you received two cards of the same suit, it paid at 2.5 to 1, but if the two cards were a King and Queen, it paid at 25 to 1. I played for a while and just on a whim, I threw a five-dollar chip on the pair side bet and…drew a pair of kings. Yeah, that rocked.

I still don’t fully understand craps, but I played the hell out of it. On the first day, I lost C-note (or a honey as the kids are called it these days). On the second go at it, I walked away with three. Yes, I should have quit while I was ahead, but on the last day, I gave another honey back to the craps table. So, my craps play, broke exactly even.

Roulette normally kicks my ass, but it is mostly my fault. I have a little too much OCD to play such a game. I always bet the X 20, which means I put a chip on the number twenty and one on each of the corners around it. It hit 20, not once, but twice. Yep, that time I was smart enough to move on.

When we checked out, the nice lady at the front desk used the rest of our comps to wipe out the majority of our bill. We were so happy about the way the trip went, we decided to fly home the same way we came. Yep, first class is the perfect way to wrap up a vacation like that.


All in all, the trip was a success. My wife did fantastic on her run, we left with more money than we came with and we had one helluva good time. Having said all that….man, it’s good to be home.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Open Thread 1

Since, I won’t be around for the rest of the week, I thought I would make this an Open thread for you to utilize while I’m gone. Feel free to interact amongst yourselves and have a great time while I’m on vacation.

You can mix the thread up and use it for pretty much anything, but I will try to give you a starting place. Use it or ignore it as needed.

Enjoy…

Horror is dead and books (with the exception of e-books and works posted on blogs) are soon to follow.

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards.

(1986, United Kingdom) In 1986 the UK saw its most violent storm in 350 years. Winds exceeded 90 mph, and an incredible amount of damage was done to property and people up and down the UK. Millions of trees were uprooted by the gales.
In Margate in the county of Kent, one unfortunate homeowner had a property bordered by three massive poplars. The wind had felled one, which came to rest across his back garden. Another poplar had been bent over just far enough to lodge its top under the soffit of his roof. The foliage was blocking his upstairs bedroom windows, and something had to be done.
This chap did not own a chainsaw, nor could he reach the trunk of the tree from the house, even when leaning out the window. So he decided to shinny up and saw off the top while sitting astride the trunk, with his feet wedged against the gutter of his roof. He had plenty of time to reflect on the wisdom of his position, as it took him 20 minutes of sawing before the bent tree, which experts estimate held the energy equivalent to small field gun--parted company with the portion trapped by the soffit, and sprang back upright.
His body was found in a neighbor's garden over a mile away. The police surgeon stated that his neck probably broke during the whiplash and he would therefore have known nothing of the impact with the ground.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Running and Playing

Well, things are going to be quiet around here from Thursday until probably Tuesday (maybe even Wednesday). My wife and I are going to Reno, Nevada for her first ever half-marathon. She has been training for months, but she’s still a little nervous about it. I can’t say as I blame her. When I was in the Army, I ran…a lot. It was quite common for us to set out on quaint little ten mile jaunts at a semi-leisurely pace. Having said that, ten miles is the farthest I have ever run. A half-marathon is just over thirteen miles. Oh my, but that is a whole lotta running.

And what will I be doing while my wife is running her little heart out? Well, it is in Reno…I’m sure I will figure something out.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Which are You?

I stole this test from my friend Lime. The test is set up to take with selectable number of questions. Obviously, the more questions you answer the more “accurate” the results will be. When I took it the first time, I took the lowest number of questions. This time I answered the highest and this is what it came up with for me.




Then I decided to try this one as well.



Oh, my…now, my wife won’t let me have any interns…

Unclaimed Money Search - It is estimated that 9 out of 10 people are owed unclaimed government money and don't even know it! Find out how much you're owed with our free trial search.