Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

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

Friday, August 31, 2007

Accepted... Again

Some of you may remember a mention of the new novella I finished a couple of weeks ago, The Writing on the Wall. It is a twisted little adventure that takes place in Tulsa, features local bands, the club scene of the moment, conflict of conscious, the fragility of the human mind, burgeoning love and oh yeah, a killer on the loose. This isn’t your run of the mill psycho killer, though. Oh, no…the fact that he kills is far less shocking than why.

I’m happy to announce Wild Child Publishing has officially offered the story a home. The lovely and talented M.E. Ellis just sent me the news this morning. What a wonderful way to start the weekend.

I’ll give you more details as they become available. This title could actually be released this year. It’s just so exciting.

Have a great weekend and stay safe.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Days of Whine and Roses

This is an interesting week as it will be my last full week in Oklahoma for awhile…possibly quite awhile. I’ve picked up a project at a shiny new alternative fuels plant on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado. It looks like I could be there for as long as two… maybe even three months.

For those of you who are long time readers, I’m sure it’s apparent how much I love spending time with my family. Since my marriage, over six years ago, I’ve never been away from my wife for more than two weeks. My son spent an entire month up in Iowa last year visiting his biological mother. It was brutal on me. I love my wife and son so much. The thought of being away from them so long is almost unbearable. On the plus side, I get to fly home every other weekend for the weekend, so it’s not like I won’t get to see them at all during that time, but it’s still going to be quite rough.

Ever the optimist, I’ve been trying to come up with perks for this little adventure. One immediate, if not entirely ironic, bonus is that the new story I’m working on for Resplendence Publishing actually takes place in Denver. I began with Google maps and other on-line research of the area, but I’ve set the story aside until I arrive to my mile high destination so I can get a better idea of the actual feel for the area. Oh, is that a tease? I think it might be a little less than a hint. Yes, I’m working on a new story and no, I’m not prepared to divulge any information about the actual plot. Sure I will…eventually, but for now, we’ll leave it at that.

There is a rather revered agent by the name of Kristin who calls Denver home. Though she is on the road right now, she will be back in plenty of time to find me camping out in her front yard until she agrees to offer me representation. Just kidding, not only am I not the stalker type, she also doesn’t quite represent what I write, I just thought I would throw that in there for any of you who are regular readers of Pub Rants. If you’re not a regular reader of her blog, why not? She is funny, informative and generally writes interesting and provocative posts. Stop by and give her a warm hello. You just might find a new blog to add to your daily routine.

I plan to use my time away to do quite a bit of writing. There seems to be quite a bit on my plate right now. I still have the final edits to complete for The Dance. I’m fairly confident The Writing on the Wall will be accepted by the publisher who requested it (I hope to have news to announce about that later this week), so there will be edits associated with that. I’ve the Denver story I mentioned before. I have some work to do with Drums of the Nunne’hi (I hope to have yet other news about that in the coming weeks). Do you remember my vampire novel, Darkness on the Plains? Well, there is an opportunity for me to turn it into a series for a new branch of a publishing company (this branch will be dedicated to horror), but I will have to segregate the first book (something I needed to do anyway as it is well in excess of 110K words right now) and this will take a significant amount of rework. Just from the preliminary banter with the editor, this could turn into at least a four to five book deal. I also have a story to finish with David Niall Wilson (mental note: need to contact him to see where we stand with it). As if all that weren’t enough, I still have the sequel to The Dance to work on.

I can only hope that all of these projects will be enough to keep my mind off of just how homesick I will be. I will have the engineering work to keep my days occupied, but then… that’s not really when the absence of my family would hit me most, is it? My official plan is to bury myself with work (both complex calculations and complex story lines) and pray the time passes quickly.

I know, I know... quit whining at least have something to do to occupy my time. The act of writing will be the salvation of my mind. Perhaps, it always has been.

As I said, this is a significant week for me. My posts (and sadly my visits to all of your blogs) will be quite spotty as I prepare for the inevitable. We have a big family weekend planned to cap of my remaining time here. We will spend the bulk of the time at the lake, wakeboarding, tubing, swimming and just generally enjoying each other’s company. There will also be multiple cookouts, perhaps some volleyball, most definitely some horseshoes and maybe a touch of relaxation.

I know I usually do a weekend recap on Mondays, but quite frankly too much of the weekend was overshadowed by my looming trip, so I’ve nothing significant to report about those events.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dar-Wednesday

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

(24 June 2007, Colorado) If you get "Footloose" and cut the rug on an oil tank, be sure not to light a cigarette (or bong of weed) else you may soon be walking up the proverbial "Stairway to Heaven".

News reports say a crude oil storage tank exploded as two teens were jumping on it, hurling the youths to their deaths. The tank, owned by Pinnacle Oil Company, exploded during a party in Routt National Forest. The victims were identified as Samuel and Christopher, 17 and 19.

After smoking marijuana and liquoring themselves up at this "popular party spot," the "Footloose" teens decided that it would be fun to leap and cavort upon a mostly-empty oil tank. Their energetic "Saturday Night Fever" gyrations caused fumes to leak from the relief valve...

"There were several ignitions sources," according to Rio Blanco County Under Sheriff Michael Joos. One teenager was smoking, and there was a bonfire nearby. One or another of these "ignition sources" sparked a flash dance that sent the two teens hurtling 150 yards away from the explosion.

So let's go over the Check Points, aka The Rules:

1. Reproduction: at 17 and 19, they weren't married, nor had they reproduced, nor can they now reproduce. Check!

2. Excellence: They thought it was wise to jump up and down on an oil tank containing 160 barrels of crude oil, while stoned out of their gourds. Check!

3. Self Selection: These two were stoned insensible, and drunker then the town drunk, while dancing on a oil tank exuding flammable vapors. And there's a campfire nearby. Check!

4. Maturity: At 17 and 19, both are over the minimum age of 16. Check!

5. Veracity: MSNBC.com and AP. Big check.

In the end, this was definitely a "Footloose" dance that turned into a "Flash*BOOM*Dance!


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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Book Review: Dark Thirst

I just read a delightful paranormal romance, Dark Thirst by Sara Reinke. It is a well written story about a young man who is deaf, having lost his hearing in a tragic incident when he was but a pup. You can almost feel his pain, confusion, failures and triumphs as he struggles to find his place amid a family that seems to, for the most part, openly despise him for what they perceive as his weakness. Oh, and he happens to be a vampire. When he finally gathers the courage to leave his abusive home, well… that’s when the real adventure begins.

Synopsis

When Brandon Noble and Angelina Jones first met, he was an awkward teenager harboring a crush on his tutor's sister. Five years later, Angelina is a streetwise cop who's sure she's seen it all, until Brandon comes back into her life - lean, handsome, possessing a strange, powerful allure... and a terrifying secret.

"Dark Desires" - Brandon is one of the Brethren, an ancient clan of ruthless vampires. Like other Brethren families, the Nobles have accumulated great wealth and prestige, never marrying outside of their kin, never leaving the isolated Kentucky farmlands where they live, undetected, among their prey. Horrified by his birthright, Brandon shunned the ritual of the first kill, earning the Brethren's lasting wrath. But the exhilarating passion he and Angelina share rouses the primitive impulses he has tried so hard to deny. And even if Brandon can protect Angelina from his enemies, can he save her from his own dark thirsts?


This was a fun read. It had wonderful pacing and well constructed memorable characters. The romantic scenes weren’t over the top and didn’t have a gratuitous feel to them at all. The author also has a blog, click on the link above (her name) and tell her hello, then pick up a copy of this book, you won’t regret it.


Rating: 5 Stars


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Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Birthday

My son’s birthday is today. He is now a whopping ten years old. It just doesn’t seem possible. Was really that long ago that I held him in the crook of my arm, pressed against my chest? Was it really that long ago that he opened his eyes and looked at me, forever changing my life? Was it really that long ago wept, that I marveled at the miracle of childbirth?

We had a birthday party for him yesterday. Kids were running everywhere, games were played, pizza was scattered to the winds, candles were blown out, presents were opened. I just couldn’t stop looking at my son through the entire affair, wondering where the time went, remembering in vivid detail exactly where the time went, praying he will grow to be better man than I ever was.

At the tender age of ten, he has all the potential in the world, he is already generous (more often than not), kind (most always), compassionate (to a fault), will he remain that way? Will the scrapes and bruises, both mental and physical, he will experience through adolescence change him for better or worse? Have I instilled in him a proper sense of right and wrong, of duty, of honor, of love yet? I know I still have time, he’s not grown yet, but have I laid the proper foundation for the man he is to become?

He’s awake now, bright eyed and bushy tailed. I can hear him scampering around his room. He’ll be down any second, so I will close for now. Today… today will be a father and son kind of day.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Writing on the Wall

Well, I’ve finished another novella. This one is called The Writing on the Wall. It’s been awhile since I offered you fine folks a snippet of my writing, so I figured the best way to celebrate the story’s completion is to post the first scene of the first chapter. So, without further ado…
Chapter 1

Beezle smiled at the man in the denim jacket who sat next to him at the bar. His short cropped, red, hair and freckles gave him a youthful look that not even his day old stubble could properly subdue. “You can learn a lot from the writing on a shithouse wall.”

The man lowered his pint slowly, casting a sidelong glance to his left. “Is that a fact?”
Beezle shifted uneasily under the weight of his stare. He turned away, taking in the sight of room around him. Arnie’s Bar & Grill had been a venue for tall pints and short tempers in Tulsa since the end of prohibition. The low lights did nothing to hide the decay of the tiny establishment. Yellowed pictures adorned the walls, barely covering spider web cracks in the plaster. Strands of cotton danced playfully from the seams of most of the stools. Even the mahogany of the bar gave proud testament to its decades of service with a clouded finish. He took a deep breath letting the smell of cigarette smoke and cheap whiskey fill his nostrils.

“Think about it. Have you ever taken the time to actually read any of it?” Beezle finally let his gaze fall on his near empty glass. He studied his reflection on the side of it, admiring the way the amber beer made his brown eyes look black.

“Would this be any shithouse wall or just the one here?” The man asked, one brow raised.
The buzz of neon lights barely rose above the murmurs of the other patrons. Beezle’s strange statement caught the attention of everyone within earshot.
“Let’s take this one for example.” He nodded toward the back of the bar, causing his dark curls to dance with the sudden movement. “Some of life’s most basic questions find their answers scribbled there: Who’s hot, who’s not, who’s easy, who’s the undeniable prick who ran off with my favorite girl?”

Beezle motioned for the bartender. “Can I get another round of Guinness over here?”
“Sure thing, Beezle,” he answered congenially, slinging the damp towel he was holding over his shoulder.
“Beezle? What the hell kind of name is that?” Freckles asked, swiveling in his chair to face him.
“It’s a nickname. When I was young, had a lot of trouble with my name, so--”
“Which is?” the man interrupted.
“Bezeltunicci.” He gave the bartender a nod as he placed the fresh pints in front of them.
“Gotcha.” He couldn’t help but laugh. “Beezle it is. Mine’s Dennis, by the way. Dennis O’Brien”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Beezle stuck out his hand.
“Thanks for the beer.” Dennis shook it firmly.
“Ah, but nothing in life is free.” Beezle noticed the deep contrast between the deep gold of his hand and the pale complexion of his new friend.

“What do you mean?” Dennis yanked away from his grip hastily.
“Relax, friend.” He held up his hands in surrender. “I just meant that it will cost you your ear.”
“Well, I guess that’s quite a bit cheaper than an arm and a leg.” Dennis took a long draw from his glass.

“Who can put such a price on information? I ask only that you hear me with an open mind.” Beezle traced a lazy line in the head of his beer and sucked the foam from his finger.
“Since you put it that way, enlighten me.” Dennis motioned for him to continue.
“Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride all vie for space on those hallowed walls we were just discussing. Man’s greatest hits are etched out in vivid detail with a few hasty slashes of a pen.”

“I don’t know if ‘for a good time call Tracy’ constitutes one of Man’s greatest hits.” “Why not? It captures several primal elements. How was the message intended? Is it truthful? Was it written out of lust, envy or even wrath? Maybe not the words, but the emotions behind them are very much a testament to the very nature of man.” Beezle pounded his chest for emphasis.
“Huh.” Dennis’ eyes widened in surprise. “I think I may need to slow down on the drinking. That actually made way more sense than it should’ve.”

“It seems to me, there’s something about the confined space between the stalls that drives many a man to lay bare his pain or pleasure for all the world to see. Is it from some latent sense of vulnerability from having your pants around your ankles?” Beezle used the sleeve of T-shirt to wipe foam from his upper lip.

“I guess if one is going to feel exposed anyway, why not expose it all?”
“Well said.” Beezle nodded appreciatively. “The communal shithouse has become a form of confessional. The public stall is the new temple, consecrated with the continuous bombardment of stench and sin.”

“What the hell have you been smoking?”
“The toilet is a shrine,” Beezle continued, ignoring the question. “A place to send up offerings to the Gods, be they in the form of art, literature, a sigh of relief or something infinitely more tangible.”
“I guess it doesn’t matter where you pray.” Dennis paused to chug the rest of his pint. “When was the last time you heard of a prayer being answered anyway?”
Beezle leaned in conspiratorially. “What if the new Gods had no intention of turning a deaf ear to our pleas?”

“You really think some random graffiti and a fouled toilet are the beginning of a new religion?” Dennis slapped his knee as he laughed.
“Stranger things have happened.” Beezle shrugged.
“I doubt that. In any event, I wouldn’t want to be there for the baptisms.” Dennis wore a look of pure disgust.
“Yeah, I’m sure they would be interesting to say the least,” Beezle agreed before finishing off his pint.
“Ok, bud.” Dennis pushed his stool away from the bar. “This is getting way too weird, even for me. Thanks for the beer… and the lesson, but I’ve gotta go.”

“But the night is still young.” Beezle pointed to the clock above the bar. “Why don’t you stay a while longer? I haven’t even made it to the good stuff yet.”
Dennis wasn’t sure whether it was the beer or the smile that spread across Beezle’s face, but his legs became increasingly unstable.
“No, I need to get home, but first I…” He paused to steady himself, placing one hand on the stool and the other on the bar for support. “Need to go pray.”
“Amen to that, brother.” Beezle rose to leave. “Catch you on the flip side.”

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Book Review: The Ruins

I just finished reading The Ruins by Scott Smith. This is a well written, fast paced horror novel and oh, yes it is a horror novel in every since of the word. A group of college students are having the time of their life during a vacation in Cancun.

They’re making new friends; partying hard and God help them, feeling invincible. When the brother of one of their new friends goes missing, they agree to help find him. This one decision will launch them down a path that will lead them --implacably, inexorably-- to a mysterious clearing, home of ruins guarded by Mayans and the ancient evil that awaits them there.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a suspenseful read. With its haunting images, well developed characters and well placed surprises, this is one of the best books I’ve read all year.

Rating: 5 Stars


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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards.
(1990's, United States) I heard the following at work in the gun shop. The events described below (if it's not a legend) occurred in the 1990's in the southwest.

A small-time hood (about to be even smaller) broke into the home of a World War Two veteran and stole, among other things, the old G.I.'s .45 automatic pistol, which he used in battle in the 1940's. The hoodlum then reported directly to a local convenience store and proceeded to rob the cashier while brandishing his new pistol. The cashier, no dummy, followed orders and handed over the contents of the register.

Our thug took the money and turned to leave, but suddenly decided he didn't want to leave a witnesses... other than the security camera, that is. He leveled the pistol at the cashier and pulled the trigger.

"CLICK!" went the gun.

At this unexpected development, the puzzled crook looked straight down the barrel of his weapon and uttered the words, "What the...?"

As it turned out, the WWII veteran had WWII vintage ammunition in his WWII vintage pistol. Priming caps over time are known to lose their "spontaneous" nature, particularly if stored improperly, causing what is known as a hang-fire: The primer smolders into a delayed ignition.

Such was the case here.

Just as the puzzled crook had the barrel pointed squarely at his own eye, the hang-fired primer detonated, sending a half-inch chunk of lead and associated hot combustion gases directly into the felon's skull at 900 feet per second.

The range was less than six inches.
The body could only be identified by fingerprints.

As the story was related to me, the police officer who responded to the original gun burglary was also at the scene of the armed robbery. He picked up the .45 and verified the serial number, then returned it to the WWII veteran.

Case closed.



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Monday, August 13, 2007

Weekend Recap

We celebrated our 6th anniversary this weekend. My son spent the weekend with his biological mom, so we had the whole house to ourselves and yes, we celebrated the whole weekend.

Friday evening began with flowers and the exchange of gifts and didn’t end until the wee hours of the following day. The sun had risen by the time we turned out the lights in the room. We laughed, we played, and we just hung out, enjoying each other’s company.

We slept most of the day Saturday (that’s the downside of staying up all night), but did manage to make it over to The Melting Pot for dinner. It is one of my wife’s favorite restaurants and I’m quite fond(ue?) of it myself. All kidding aside, this is always a wonderful dining experience.

Sunday found us spending the majority of the snuggled up on the couch, reading and occasionally glancing at the TV. We had a few errands we had to take care of during the afternoon, but other than that, it was just about being together. God, I love that woman more with each passing day. I couldn’t imagine life without her.

So, how did you spend your weekend?

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Home Again

A new supermarket opened near my house. It has an automatic water mister to
keep the produce fresh. Just before it goes on, you hear the sound of
distant thunder and the smell of fresh rain.

When you approach the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and
experience the scent of fresh hay.

When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle, and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

The veggie department features the smell of fresh buttered corn.

I don't buy toilet paper there any more.


Our trip to Delaware was a whirlwind, so many things to do and so very little time to get them done. I didn’t make it around to see all of my relatives (a bit of poor planning on my part), but we spent the bulk of our time catching up with family.

The big shin-dig at my Dad’s place was a blast. It was a day filled with food, family, live music, dancing and more than a few memorable moments. The bulk (probably around fifty or so) of those in attendance was from my Step-Mom’s (Hi Cindy!) family and I had never met them before. They welcomed us in with open arms.

My brother-in-law, Chris has a band and he provided the live entertainment. His band is nothing short of fantastic. He even let my son come up and play with them (insisting that Ty has all of the makings of a rock star). Between sets, we indulged in my Dad’s favorite pastime… karaoke. After much prompting (and a few drinks), he finally badgered me into taking the mic myself. I performed a rendition of Dean Martin’s Ain’t That A Kick In The Head that shocked the crowd, rousing them to thunderous applause. Afterwards there was much back patting and utterances of, “That was incredible” and “Where did you learn to sing like that?” Yeah, I enjoyed that tremendously.

On Sunday, we slipped up to Smyrna to visit some of my other kin (cousins, sister, brother and biological father, etc.). It was great catching up with them. I don’t get to see any of them nearly enough. To this end, I’ve resolved to try to make this trip at least every other year and do what I can to convince them to visit me on the opposite years. It still not a lot of time, but it would be a start.

Monday was spent down in Ocean City. Thanks to the amazing marvels of technology, I was able to get some work done while we walked the boardwalk, taking in all of the wondrous sights. We rode a few rides, went to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum and bought a boogie board for my son. After we visited every store on the strip, we slipped down to the water to let him try out his new board. It took him several tries, but he indeed got the hang of it rather quickly.

The trip home was rather eventful. We arrived late, not getting to the baggage claim until 11:30 at night. One of my suitcases was the first off the conveyer. We waited as slowly but surely, the rest of the luggage peeked into view. All save but one. Yep, they lost my son’s suitcase. It took them until midnight to admit this, but it didn’t make the flight.

We loaded up what we had and headed home, eager to be in our own beds. We unlocked the door and to our surprise, it was much warmer inside the house than outside. The air conditioner was obviously broken. I dropped the luggage in the floor and commenced the troubleshooting process while my wife and son, went through the house, turning on all of the fans and opening doors to create circulation.

It turned out to be a fuse, but as late as it was, I didn’t know if I would be able to find the replacements. As hot as it was, I was willing to give it a try. I hopped back in my truck and headed into town. The local hardware stores were all closed, but I was able to find a cartridge fuse in Wal-Mart of all places. It wasn’t the right one, but it would do until the hardware store opened the next day.

I’ve spent the rest of the week, running around like a chicken with my head cut off. It seems there was a million tasks that floated my way while we were on the road. Having said that, I should go tend to the last of them. I just wanted to let everyone know… “The Boys Are Back In Town!”

So, how did you spend your time while I was gone?

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

On The Move

Bags packed… check.
Airline tickets confirmed… check.
Rental car reserved… check.
Detailed itinerary with +/- one hour scheduled start times to allow for scope creep… check.
Smiles and eager anticipation… check.

Yes, it’s true we are flying out later today. We will make an overnight stop in Dallas to visit a few relatives there and then we are back on the plane to finish the journey to Delaware. We’re only going to be gone until late Tuesday night, but we have a lot of things to do and people to see in that short time. I have some business to take care of while I’m there, but the weekend is reserved for massive good times.

Oh yes, there will be a visit to the ocean involved in all of this and a fair amount of group functions. It’s been a few years since I made this trip and I have to say, I normally have more time to visit all of my relatives (I have a rather large contingent of in-laws and outlaws in the area). So much to do, so little time…

Needless to say, things will be a little quiet around here while I’m away. You kids try to behave yourselves in my absence.

I should be back to blogging by Wednesday… Thursday at the latest and I hope to have a few pictures of the trip to post as well.

Oh, and if my lack of content really gets the best of you, feel free to take a stroll down my blog roll. I’m sure you’ll find more than a few links there that will keep you very entertained.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dar-Wednesday

It’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards. I’m head over heels for you…

(20 June 2007, South Carolina) An hour before sunrise, a 21 year-old couple was found naked in the road by a passing cabbie. The unconscious, injured pair was taken to the nearest hospital where, despite treatment, they died without regaining consciousness. Authorities were at a loss to explain what had happened. There were no witnesses, no trace of clothing, and no wrecked cars or motorcycles.

Investigators eventually found a clue high on the roof of a nearby building: two sets of neatly folded clothes, and nothing else. There was no indication of foul play, only of foreplay. "It appears as if the two individuals have accidentally fallen off the roof," Sgt. Florence McCants said.

Safe sex takes on a whole new meaning when you are perched on the edge of a pyramid-shaped metal roof! This is a true Darwin Award trifecta: TWO people die, WHILE in the act of procreation, due to an ASTONISHINGLY poor decision. Bottom line: If you put yourself in a precarious "position" at the edge of the roof, you may well find yourself coming and going at the same time.



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