Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

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

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Can You Relate?

So, how many of you have been to Denver or at least the surrounding areas? Most of my experiences here have been in the Thornton, Westminster and Arvada areas. Well, the plant where I’m working is in Commerce City, but I’ve heard it referred to as the Compton of Colorado and have no desire to discover exactly why.

I was just wondering if there were some areas that I really needed to check out while I was up here. For the locals, every time I ask what is a must see while I’m here, they all was respond with the mountains. Mental note: Still need to go see the mountains.

I should be heading home for the weekend. In fact, I think I’ve about got it worked out where I can go home every weekend, but we’ll have to see. Keep your fingers crossed.

Oh and before I leave, I wanted to share a joke I received in the mail this morning. Enjoy…

SURELY I CAN'T LOOK THAT OLD."

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN GUILTY OF LOOKING AT OTHERS YOUR OWN AGE AND THINKING, "SURELY I CAN'T LOOK THAT OLD." WELL... YOU'LL LOVE THIS ONE.

MY NAME IS ALICE SMITH AND I WAS SITTING IN THE WAITING ROOM FOR MY FIRST APPOINTMENT WITH A NEW DENTIST. I NOTICED HIS DDS DIPLOMA, WHICH BORE HIS FULL NAME.

SUDDENLY, I REMEMBERED A TALL, HANDSOME, DARK-HAIRED BOY WITH THE SAME NAME HAD BEEN IN MY HIGH SCHOOL CLASS SOME 40-ODD YEARS AGO. COULD HE BE THE SAME GUY THAT I HAD A SECRET CRUSH ON, WAY BACK THEN? UPON SEEING HIM, HOWEVER, I QUICKLY DISCARDED ANY SUCH THOUGHT.

THIS BALDING, GRAY-HAIRED MAN WITH THE DEEPLY LINED FACE WAS WAY TOO OLD TO HAVE BEEN MY CLASSMATE. AFTER HE EXAMINED MY TEETH, I ASKED HIM IF HE HAD ATTENDED MORGAN PARK HIGH SCHOOL

"YES. YES, I DID. I'M A MUSTANG," HE GLEAMED WITH PRIDE.

"WHEN DID YOU GRADUATE?" I ASKED.
HE ANSWERED, "IN 1959. WHY DO YOU ASK?"

"YOU WERE IN MY CLASS!", I EXCLAIMED.

HE LOOKED AT ME CLOSELY. THEN, THAT UGLY, OLD, BALD WRINKLED, FAT, GRAY, DECREPIT SOB ASKED, "WHAT DID YOU TEACH?"

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Birthday

I want to take a moment to wish my wife a happy birthday. The rest of this post is for her; the rest of you, feel free to click on to more interesting posts.

Baby, I’m so sorry I can’t be there with you on your birthday. Being away from you is just that much harder when I have to miss the special occasions. Have no doubt, any excuse to celebrate the wonder that is you, is a special occasion. I wish I could be there with you, to hold you, to kiss you, to touch your cheek, to look into your eyes and let you know just how much you mean to me. Instead, all I can offer you is a phone call (and a heartfelt post). I’ll wish you happy birthday and tell you I love you, but it just won’t be the same.

I’m counting down the seconds until I see you again. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. They lie. Absence makes the heart ache with such force, you wonder how you will make it through the day. I miss you so much, there are times it feels like I can’t breathe.

This weekend we will celebrate, not only your birthday, but a love that has turned a bad boy like me, into a love sick puppy. Sadly, the puppy is now going through withdrawals.

I hope this is the last and only time we have to miss a special day together. I know you know how much you mean to me, but I just want to say it again: You are my everything.

I hope your birthday is filled with joy and relaxation. No matter what you do or what happens today, know that you are in my heart and my thoughts. I love you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Big Day

It’s official: The Writing on the Wall has been released. Stop by the Wild Child Publishing website (click on the link embedded in the title of the book) and pick up your copy today. Your support is greatly appreciated.

I would like to give a special thanks to everyone who made this possible and to everyone who has supported my wild dreams of becoming a writer over the years. Life is good…




Here is the book blurb (in case you missed it in an earlier post):

A chance encounter in a bar plunges Dennis O’Brien into an adventure wrought with death, love, and the fragility of the human mind. When Dennis realizes he’s had a brush with a killer, things take a turn for the worse. Not only is he unable to stop the madman, but he finds himself the chief suspect in the murder investigation. Following a trail of bodies and revolting clues, Dennis uncovers the true motive behind the slayings. Yes, killers kill, but nothing is more shocking than the reason why. He should have seen it coming, shouldn’t have become involved. After all, the writing was on the wall…

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Monday, September 24, 2007

My First Review

I’ve just received my first review on The Writing on the wall. It was reviewed over at Cocktail Reviews. Click on the link to see the full review, but here is a wee snippet:

And off we’re taken on a fantastically crazy ride. The Writing on the Wall made me wonder about people, look at them differently. Shudder at the thought of living in a mind like Beezle’s. And I also sat on the edge of my seat, leaned a little closer to the monitor when Dennis was suspected of being the killer. I wanted to scream at the policemen, “It isn’t him, you jerks!”
So did I enjoy
The Writing on the Wall? You bet I did. I haven’t read such a creepy, grippingly weird tale in a long time. Superb!
Oh, I’m stoked. My first review and it was a good one. I hope this is a sign of things to come.

I hope to have more news on The Writing on the Wall very soon. It is so close to being officially released I can practically taste it.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Killing Me...

There is a bar that is less than a couple of blocks away from where I stay. It’s called Whiskey Dick’s and it is slowly killing me. It is the kindness that is blowing me away. I’ve stopped in for a pint on several occasions since I arrived in Denver (well, technically I’m staying in Thornton, but you know what I mean). Each and every time results in my making new acquaintances, several with the high potential of becoming friends.

How is that killing me you might ask? Apparently, it is an accepted custom here to buy drinks and a few requisite shots when welcoming a new friend into the fold. That’s an extremely nice gesture, but going from around 700 ft elevation to a mile high, turns one’s alcohol tolerance into a fuzzy memory. Yes, I’ve been here for nearly three weeks, but I’m still a very cheap date. Much more than two or three drinks (and the requisite shot) and I have to go lay down.
I think, I need to strike up a deal with the bartenders where when I give them the signal, they substitute my alcohol for a soda or some other non-alcoholic beverage.

On, the plus side, I slept like a rock for almost the entire night last night. Totally not worth it though. I woke up this morning feeling like I drank an entire bottle of Bacardi, instead of the few drinks I did imbibe. In my book, I’d rather wake up groggy than hungover, especially when I have to go to work. That shant happen again.
I want to take a minute to tell you about a regular at ol’ Dick’s. He is a very interesting character and has made such an impression on me, I feel the overwhelming need to put him in one of my books. I’ll qualify the following observations with the statement; the guy really does seem hamless. He obviously suffers from an acute mental disorder. He doesn’t have herky jerky motions of your average tweeker, but he does have several tics that dominate his facial expressions. His eyelids flutter, but never at the same time. You’ll look his way one time and his right eye will blink at a thousand revolutions per minute, but his left will be rock steady and more often than not staring at a random patron that caught his interest. When you glance at him next, it’s now his left that’s batting wildly and his right eye is locked on you.

Intrigued by his strange mannerism, I struck up a conversation. It quickly became one-sided as he unleashed a volley of thoughts as quick as they surfaced in his mind. All I could do was nod as he switched topics mid sentence. He covered government conspiracies, organ theft, postmen that stake out his house, his family who is rich but give him more trouble than support, the hidden cameras on every structure erected in Denver in the last ten years, being threatened with his own .50 cal when he was a gunner on a cobra helicopter back in ‘nam, to the conspiracy to let teenagers do work that he should be paid to do.

There were several other things covered here, but I’ve shortened the list for the semblance of brevity. The only indication you had that there was about to be a subject change was the inevitable “Uh”. I intend to study him a bit more to make sure I can actually turn him into a believable character.

So, have you ever met anyone that you thought could easily be institutionalized?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sleep...Who Needs It?

I’m embracing the joys of quasi-communal living. Yes, I’m in a room by myself, but it is indeed part of a rather small community and everyone here seems to keep different hours. I guess I’ve completely lost my tolerance of the hustle and bustle of city life, either that or the paper thin walls that comprise my prison studio are just amplifying the din of the neighborhood. Every car, motorcycle, siren and stereo within a one block radius catches my attention. During the afternoon and evening, this isn’t horrible, but when I lay down to sleep…well, that’s where the problem arises.

My first week, I hardly slept a wink. I’m a light sleeper anyway, so every time I heard a door shut or any number of items from the above list, I’d snap awake and look around the room. It would take a bit for my heart to calm down enough to allow me to go back to sleep, but then I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes closed for long.

It is getting better. The last couple of nights I bet I didn’t wake up more than four or five times. The world outside my room is just becoming so much white noise. Still, I’m not sure if letting myself become totally desensitized to the noise is necessarily a good thing, but if I don’t I fear I will have a psychotic episode. Just a hunch, but having a big, scary ex soldier turned horror writer go off his rocker can’t be a good thing.

I’m already counting down the days until I get to go home again. Though, not just so I can get some decent sleep, I miss my family something fierce. Everyday I put behind me, puts me that much closer to being home for good. The sleep is just a bonus.

Ok folks, it’s poll time. Are you a light sleeper or can you sleep through a sonic boom? For the light sleepers among you, how do you deal with a drastic change in environment?

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Dar-Wednesday

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

(5 November 1995, Arkansas) Tenacity and determination are advantageous to an organism. But combined with a lack of common sense and an excess of bravado, these traits may well prove deleterious.

After ten inches of rainfall, rivers in Northern Arkansas had flooded over their banks. Stephan Burchard, 27, decided that this was the perfect excuse to tackle Big Piney Creek, a challenging whitewater run at normal water levels. Dressed in overalls and a sweat suit, and notably lacking a life vest, Stephan set out with three friends and two rafts "of the type obtained by sending in Marlboro cigarette packs."

Nothing but a dose of common sense stood between Stephan and glory.

Enroute to the Big Piney put-in, the four men were stalled at a low-water bridge over Indian Creek. The water was flowing 3 feet over the bridge, so they could not drive any further. A crowd of experienced whitewater paddlers had gathered at the Indian Creek bridge to pay respectful homage to the freakishly high water. They were a benevolent group, and they implored the foolhardy party to desist. But the men would not be deterred.

Despite the fact that Indian Creek courses through two miles of dangerous willow jungle before joining Big Piney, the men put-in at the flooded bridge. The four men climbed into the rafts, two per, and IMMEDIATELY capsized.

Undeterred by continuing pleas from more experienced paddlers, and undaunted by their first dunking, the men launched again. They managed to stay on the surface for 200 yards, before capsizing downstream.

At this point, one man realized he was fighting a losing battle. He bowed out, and hiked back to the bridge. The two other men climbed back into their raft, and Stephan decided to venture onward solo. A half mile later, the flotilla "encountered" a tree across the stream, and both rafts capsized. Stephan was pinned against the tree.

A search party located Stephan's body later that day.

Despite warnings from experienced paddlers, despite capsizing twice, and despite seeing the cold water flowing menacingly 3 feet over a bridge, Stephan chose to tackle a hazardous river. His tenacity was selected against, removing him from the gene pool forever.

ANALYSIS, "The absence of a life vest was probably the victim's most significant error. These inexperienced and ill-prepared paddlers ignored warnings from a group of obviously knowledgeable paddlers." CONCLUSION: "Warning unprepared floaters can be unproductive, but it is worth trying anyway."


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Monday, September 17, 2007

Books, Books, Books

I have new cover art for The Writing on the wall.




Here is the official back blurb:

A chance encounter in a bar plunges Dennis O’Brien into an adventure wrought with death, love, and the fragility of the human mind. When Dennis realizes he’s had a brush with a killer, things take a turn for the worse. Not only is he unable to stop the madman, but he finds himself the chief suspect in the murder investigation. Following a trail of bodies and revolting clues, Dennis uncovers the true motive behind the slayings. Yes, killers kill, but nothing is more shocking than the reason why. He should have seen it coming, shouldn’t have become involved. After all, the writing was on the wall…

Things are shaping up quickly for the release of this book. It isn’t posted for pre-sale yet, but the rumor around the ol’ campfire is that September 24th will be the big day.

I’ll let you know as soon as it is posted on the Wild Child Publishing website. It will sell strictly as an e-book at first, but once I’ve sold X copies, it will go to print. Your support to this end will be greatly appreciated.

While you’re there check out Weirdly: A collection of Strange Tales. Not only does it contain a story by M.E. Ellis (who is one of the wonderful editors of Wild Child), but also of another long time reader of this blog, Bernita Harris. I’m very excited to see what they’ve put together for us.

Here is a blurb for Weirdly:

From sci-fi to paranormal to weird, from chilling to odd to scary, Weirdly will sate your lust for strangeness in bite-sized pieces. Each tale weaves its own spell. Vampires, beasts, ghosts, evil creatures and, of course, every day people inhabit Weirdly's pages.
Harland's wife makes her presence known from the other side... The Beekeeper must come to terms with passing over... Heather and her mother join forces to disguise a murder... Lillie searches for missing children... Samantha finds out a school semester can be more than just schoolwork... All these tales and more. Dare you read them?




Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get busy on my next project. The darn thing won’t write itself you know…

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Start Spreading the News

It’s almost time. I’m so close, I can taste it. By this time tomorrow I will be home. I will get in Friday evening and won’t have to fly out again until 5:00 on Monday morning. I wish I didn’t have to sleep. It would be truly wonderful if I could spend every hour of my time in Oklahoma soaking up the family time. I miss them so much…

Things aren’t all bad up in the mile high city. I’ve met scores of new people, I’ve pumped out a mind-boggling amount of work and to be honest, I’ve enjoyed some of the most picturesque sunsets I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing.

I’ve managed to get quite a bit of writing done while up here. I’ve completed all of the major revisions to The Writing on the Wall. I hope to have the cover art for it soon.

I’m in the beginning stages of a new book (as yet untitled) and I’m quite excited about it. Without giving away too much information, you can rest assured before the end, someone is going to die.

Other than that, I’m just sitting here, clicking my heels together and chanting.

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home…

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bang Your Head

Well, the countdown has begun. By Friday evening, I should be back in the loving arms of my family. If I can get a ticket off the mountain that is. There was a wee little problem with my Corporate credit card, that had never occurred before. First thing Monday morning, I contacted United airlines to make the flight arrangements. I filled out all of the information on line and it came back with an error about my billing address and suggest I call the airport.

That’s odd, I thought. I’ve used my card numerous times over the course of this year and I’ve never encountered such a problem. So, I called up the representative and went to work on resolving the issue.

“Mr. Goodman, it appears the billing address doesn’t match the number on the card,” the polite lady informed me.

“I see, perhaps you could use this address,” I suggested and gave her my personal address.

“Oh…well, it’s the same error. Do you have another card you would like to try?” she asked.
“No, they only gave me one card and as this is for business, I’d prefer to use it. Let’s try another address. Let’s see, here is the address for my corporate headquarters.”
“I see. Oh…well, this one doesn’t work either. Are you sure you don’t want to try another card?” she insisted.
“I’m sure.”
“Perhaps you should contact your office and find out what billing address they use for your account.”
“Ok.”
“Just call back when you have the right address.”

So, I called my office and they informed me that the original address I gave them should have worked, but reminded me that they did move into the new offices several months ago and maybe the address was still the old one. She sent it to me and it was time to match wits with United again. I went through the gyrations that were hauntingly familiar until we reached the previous dialog almost verbatim.

“Mr. Goodman, it appears the billing address doesn’t match the number on the card,” the polite lady informed me.
“Yes, I’m aware of that. The person I spoke with earlier had me try several, but I’ve contacted my company and they suggested we try this address.”
“Oh…well, it’s the same error. Do you have another card you would like to try?” she asked.
“No, this one should work. I don’t understand the problem.”
“Well, I’ll turn it over to our ticket specialists and they should have this resolved within 48 hours. We will send you an email confirmation once the problem has been corrected or if we encounter further issues.”
“Groovy,” I said and hung up.

My wife called me earlier this evening to inform me that United had called my home number to say that my card didn’t work and to suggest I try using a different card.

I called them back…

“Uh, yes. This is James Goodman I received a message that there is still a problem with the billing for my flight home from Denver this Friday.”
“Of course, sir. Could you please give me your confirmation number?”
I did…
“Mr. Goodman, it appears the billing address doesn’t match the number on the card,” the polite though heavily accented man informed me.
“I know. That’s what I told you when we began the conversation.”

“Could you confirm the address?” he asked.
I did…
“Oh…well, it’s the same error. Do you have another card you would like to try?” he asked.
“No, that’s alright. I’ll just cancel the reservation and try a different airline.”
“There’s no need to be hasty. Perhaps we could try a different address.”
“I tried every one I know with the first person I spoke to.”

“Perhaps they typed it in wrong. Could you give me an alternate address?”
“Sure, let’s try 539 North—“
“Norm?” he interrupted.
“North like the direction. Then Carancahua—“
“Is that the name of the person this is billed too?”
“No, it’s the name of a street. I’ll spell it phonetically so you can be sure to get it right.”
*twenty minutes and several interrupted instructions later*
“I see. Oh…well, this one doesn’t work either. Are you sure you don’t want to try another card?” he insisted.
“Quite sure, I’ll just try another airline.”
“Can you give me another address?”

I literally shuddered at the prospect. “No, really that’s quite alright.”

There was quite a bit more to the conversation, but it boils down to I finally snapped at him and hung up some hour or so later.

I tried Frontier Airlines and as I pressed submit to purchase the ticket. It came back with an error. Can you guess what it was?

I was beginning to see a trend, so I cut out the middle man and called the credit card company directly.

I explained the situation and the rep was quite sympathetic to my plight.
“So, can you give me the correct billing address so I can buy my ticket?”
“No. I’m sorry I can’t do that.”
“You’re shitting me! Sorry, don’t mean to curse but it has been a booger of an afternoon.”
“It’s alright. I understand, but I can’t give you the number for security purposes. I can however verify the address.”
“Cool, it’s—“ I rattled off the address to my office.
“Oh, that’s not the correct one.”
“Groovy.” I took a deep breath. “My company has several can I go down the list until I hit the right one?”
“Of course.”

So, I went down the list, striking out at every turn. “Can you at least tell me if I’m getting closer?”

“That last one had the right city in it.”
“Really? Glad I asked as that will considerably shorten the list.”
I gave her another one.
“Oh, that one was so close,” she informed me, sounded a bit like she was enjoying herself.
“You can tell me I’m close, but not tell me what the address is?”
“Yep and you only missed it by one digit.”
“Whoa, this is the same address on all of the other contacts I have. How can it be off by only one digit?”
“It’s in the zip code.”
“Great, then it’s clearly a typo and since you can’t give me the one on record, I have no way of knowing what it actually is.”

“We could update your billing address,” she suggested calmly.

I underwent a moment of considerable silence.

“Mr. Goodman?”
“We can just change the address?”
“Sure, if you have the card in front of you, you can give me the security code from the front and I can change it to any address you want.”

Information I could have used when I explained the problem, I thought. I took another deep breath. “Then let’s change it to this address.”
“No problem. The change will take effect within 24 hours.”

So, after much ado, I’m back in business… sort of. Now, if I just have to pray that they haven’t sold all of the seats by this time tomorrow night. Wish me luck.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rocky Mountain High

Well, it has been an interesting week. As I’m sure you may have already guessed, I’ve arrived in Denver. I had forgotten how much the elevation change affects the body. Not only is it harder to run, walk, play, but it is also a killer when it comes to drinking. I’m not a big drinker anyhow, but my goodness… I drank two Bacardi and Cokes last night and I had to retire to my room. Yep, I’m a cheap date these days.

The people here seem to be friendly enough as long as they’re not behind the wheel of a vehicle. It may be a product of having to deal with traffic jams on a daily basis, but yeah…there are some seriously rude drivers here. Once off the road, I’ve had no problems finding friendly faces and good conversation.

The difference in the cost of living came as quite a shock. I expected it to be a little more expensive (let’s face it, Oklahoma’s a cheap place to live), but I dropped $90 at a super center here and walked out with two bags.

The view here is magnificent. I planned to post pictures, but though I remembered the camera, I forgot to bring the cable so I could upload them onto my laptop. I keep catching myself just staring at the foothills to the west. I’ll definitely have to make the trip up to Boulder and visit the mountains while I’m here. I have seen the top of the mountain and it is good. All things considered, this isn’t a bad place to have to do an extended job.

The work is going well, but it looks like there may be more to it than I had anticipated. The chances of an early parole return home look a bit sickly and could die off at any moment.

Now that I’ve settled in and can start working out a legitimate routine, I should be able to start blogging again on a regular basis. I hope everyone is having a marvelous weekend.

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