Friday, January 30, 2015

You have been warned.

My Aoife-girl...the model for Circe.

I am warning you here and now...seriously. This past Halloween, I was inspired to write a scene for my upcoming DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon by an incident involving my BELOVED pair of Border Collies. I shared the video of Tyrion's response to my zombie mask. What you might have missed in all that barking was how Aoife came right up and wanted to snuggle my legs.

Tyrion (the model for Imp) and my daughter, Ronni.

What is about to follow is a scene that I had to take a few breaks in order to finish. It is in its rough draft form, so there may be a glitch or two. However, this scene is going to strike a nerve. Any writer who says he does not want people to feel REAL human emotion when their books are read is not a writer I want to meet.
What you see at any given moment under my desk.

Again...YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! The following scene WILL contain material that will be difficult for some readers. Use discretion.


Circe nudged the woman. She could smell the wrongness, yet, this was her person. More than once she had tried to remind the one she called Imp that they owed all that they were to this human. She was the bringer of food and that made her important.
“Master?” Circe whined softly.
No reply came and the feeling of wrong seemed to grow and become overwhelming. Every fiber of Circe’s being screamed for her to get away. Imp and the useless Golden Retriever had vanished long ago, leaving her to tend to The Master all by herself. Even the other humans had apparently all but forgotten about the woman on this bed who was everything in Circe’s small world.
Her time as a puppy had been magical. She remembered all the days that they would run together; just Circe and The Master. And the treats for doing such simple things as playing! At times, she almost felt guilty for taking them. She would have gladly chased the ball and returned it for the pleasure of the run and the way she was stroked, ruffled, and told how pretty and good she was by The Master.
Circe loved her human. She would stay at her side no matter what happened. And everything had been perfect until the wrong ones had first appeared. The smell was confusing. At first, they smelled like something that would be perfect to roll in. Only, there was something else under that scent. It was…wrong.
And now…now that smell was coming from The Master. Another whine escaped the frightened Border Collie’s muzzle.
“Get back!”
Circe turned her head and discovered Imp standing in the doorway. He looked angry, and his eyes were almost solid black as they looked right past her and to where The Master was beginning to stir behind her.
“The Master needs us.”
“The Master is no more,” Imp snarled. “She is now one of The Wrong. Get away from her before she hurts you.”
“How can you say that? How many times did The Master care for you when you would eat something that you should not? Even when you made Bad Dog on the floor!”
“She is not The Master any longer, Second Mother.”
The use of that title made Circe pause. Imp only used it when he was being pack. He used it when he apologized for playing too rough, or when she would be scolded for something that was his doing and he would offer up an apology.
“She would never hurt us,” Circe insisted. She could feel the Master move behind her. Perhaps if The Master would but speak in her peculiar language, Imp would see. He would have to see.
Hands ran over her. It was in that instant that Circe realized that The Master truly was one of The Wrong. There was that instant when the cold hands closed on her that Circe reacted out of instinct. She whipped her head around to bite, but as soon as she saw The Master, that urge simply faded from the years of conditioning.
The Master was safety and love and protection. The Master was never hurt; even when she did things that upset The Master, she had never once been nipped, swatted or even scolded with much force. That is why Circe did nothing more than tremble as The Master’s mouth came closer.
“Run, Circe!” Imp demanded, but she would not. The Master would not hurt her. It was not The Master’s way.
The cold hands of The-Wrong-That-Was-Now-The-Master gripped her fur tighter and made Circe whimper in pain. Surely that would make The Master see. All those times when The Master would accidentally step on her foot or tail; The Master would always stop and tend to the hurt. She would soothe with words and gentle strokes of Circe’s fur.
The mouth came in closer, and then clamped down on the side of Circe’s throat. The red and white Border Collie yelped in pain as she felt something tear away. The pain was more than she could stand and Circe jerked free. Her body landed on the fall with an awkwardness as her legs did not free themselves properly from the bed coverings. Instead of landing on her feet, Circe landed on her side and felt her head bounce off the floor. She rose unsteadily and saw her own blood shoot across the room and spray the floor. She manged only a step before The Master landed heavily on top of her. Both back legs snapped under the sudden and overwhelming weight. Again Circe yelped.
In her mind, as the world faded to darkness, all she could do was ask herself how she had upset The Master. What had she done wrong?


Imp watched helplessly as The Wrong tore into his beloved pack-friend, Circe. He refused to allow himself to refer to that thing as The Master. It was not The Master. It was one of them.
The hot life blood came in a jet from Circe’s throat. She yelped in a raw, ragged way that Imp knew meant that she would be no more. He saw as Circe vanished under the body of The Wrong. He heard her pain cry and the sound of snapping bone. He was about to launch into an attack when the two man-things that were not of the pack came on the run.
“You are too late, stupid man-things!” Imp barked.
He saw that they held things in their awkward paws that could cut and hurt the flesh. The Wrong had managed to get to its knees and was pulling the limp figure of Circe in to take another bite. The Wrong’s face vanished in the long, silky fur that Circe had been so proud of and preened every time that The Master pulled out the funny little thing that ran through that fur and made it shine even brighter than normal as well as pull out all the kinks and knots that teeth would take hours trying to fix.
As The Wrong came up with a mouthful of meat and fur, one of the man-things leapt into the room in his graceless man-thing way and brought down a cutting thing on the head of The Wrong. Dark fluid that smelled foul and almost hurt Imp’s sensitive nose ran down the face of The Wrong.
It was over.
Imp looked up the hall at the new pack member that had introduced itself as Bailey (a name that Imp thought was almost as ridiculous as the dog it belonged to). The Golden Retriever was actually shaking with its tail tucked tight against its belly. Imp wanted nothing more to do with this place. His pack was gone. When the door opened the next time, he would run. Imp loved running. Of course he loved it most when chasing after one of those wonderful discs or squishy balls that The Master used to throw for him.
The man-things were now talking. Imp wished that any of it made sense. He heard the name of The Master, and on reflex, his ears perked. However, an instant later,his ears dropped. The Master was gone. Imp was alone.
A new smell began to drift into his nose. Instantly, the black and white Border Collie’s lip curled back. There was something different, but it was still the smell of them: The Wrong. A twitch caught his attention and Imp’s head swung around to the source.
It was Circe.
No, that was not his pack-friend. When the head lifted from the floor where it had come to rest in all that life blood, Imp snarled. The eyes opened and Imp could see the death in them. Barking furiously, Imp warned this new horror to come no closer. Man-things never understood, that was why it was no surprise when The Wrongs had not responded to his warnings. Yet, this thing had once been pack…dog. It had to understand.
“Stay back or I will use teeth and claw,” Imp snapped.
That was the first challenge that a dog learned once it was weaned. Most dogs liked to use it in play, but Imp had first used it to warn one of the hated felines that prowled outside his window and left their bitter scent on his favorite tree. He occasionally tested it on the man-thing that stuck things through the door while The Master was away. A few times, he had used it on The Master’s mate. That had earned him a kick in his ribs, yet he had not been afraid. He smelled that man-thing’s weakness. He smelled the fear when he, Imp, had issued that challenge.
This Wrong was not Circe. Imp was certain as the thing that looked like her but certainly did not smell like her began to drag itself forward towards him and the two man-things that stunk of fear. It was a change from their normal scent. One of them stunk of anger and Imp had made it a point to avoid that one whenever possible.
The other man-thing was different. Imp liked him. That one always scratched him behind the ears or on his chest if they were close. He had been watching that one closely as he seemed to be drawn to The Master. Imp thought they might try to mate soon judging by the smells. He would have allowed it.
But now was not the time for such thoughts. Imp snarled another warning at The-Wrong-that-was-not-Circe. Its head turned towards him and milky eyes that were laced with death seemed to consider Imp for a moment.
Hands caught Imp as he started forward. He glanced up and saw the man-thing that reeked of anger. He wanted to bite and demand to be let go, but Imp knew that now was the time. The other man-thing had stepped forward, in his hand was the same weapon that had killed The-Wrong-that-was-not-The-Master. With one swing, he brought it down and split the head of The-Wrong-that-was-not-Circe.
The man-thing set Imp down on the floor. There was communication, and then they both left the room. Imp slunk forward to take one final look at his former pack-friend. Circe had taught him much. Now, she was gone. He knew that she would already be chasing rabbits in the Endless Meadow. He would miss her. She and The Master had always made him feel like he was the most coveted thing that one of his kind could feel.
Imp was a Good Dog.

"Are you still here?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You don't know what you're missing.

Once again, J-Fell put together a winner. Just imagine, all you lovers of 80s rock, being able to get up close and personal with The Scorpions, Van Halen, and Ozzy! That is a rockers wet dream come true! Well, if you were in Portland, Oregon this past weekend and not one of those in attendance at the sold show at Dante' missed out. Lovedrive, Unchained, and Crazy Train hit the button on Mr. Sherman's Wayback Machine and brought on some of the best rock and roll money can buy. 

Lovedrive opened and set the bar high. No worries, having seen both Unchained and Crazy train a few times, I had no doubts that the marks would be hit. However, let me get back to Lovedrive for a moment. Having seen the Scorpions at what I consider to be their prime (the Blackout tour), I feel qualified to say that these guys bring all the energy and a sound that will blow your mind. This was my second time seeing Lovedrive, and I am now a BIG fan.

The benchmark for me comes from a vocalist that can give me Klaus' unique vocal sound. No problem here. And the guitar attack is hard, fast, and loud. This is your father's Scorpions! I would highly recommend that you scour the Portland metro scene and find their next show. If you love the Scorps and wonder what it would be like to stand so close that you can literally reach out and touch the band...well, get a ticket!

The middle act was one of my personal favorites: Unchained. I have said it before, and I will say it again. These guys are amazing. They bring you with them on a journey through everything that you loved about the original Van Halen. The big difference is that these guys know you are there and they sincerely appreciate their fans. 

I will say that the gang has made some changes. Change is always scary, but when a band does it, they have to try and gauge the crowd to see how it plays out. For Unchained, this change included adding a few "B-Side" songs to their set. As a fan of Van Halen, I was totally thrilled to hear my personal favorite song "Take Your Whiskey Home". The band stepped out on a ledge and, in my opinion, found a bridge to an entire new level of FREAKING AWESOME!

There is nothing I can tell you about Unchained that would do the band justice. Don, Brad, Harry and Dirk will give you a show that will make you remember exactly why you fell in love with this music. They become Dave, Eddie, Michael, and Alex. If you let go for just a moment, you will believe that you have indeed gone back in time and stumbled into something magical.

Many tribute bands have to really go through a transformation to try and look like the icons they are paying homage to on stage. Tim Tugg leads Crazy Train on stage and you will believe to the very end that Ozzy has a secret life. Yes, he is just that convincing. And while Dan Bates might not have the flowing blond locks of Randy Rhodes...he is a shredder with the talent to make you wonder why Jake E. Lee got the gig instead of this guy. Bates, in short, kills it on guitar.

This is another band that you need to put on your "Must See" list if you have an ounce of love for Ozzy, Sabbath, or just some good old kick ass rock. The stage can barley contain this band, and unless you were camped out in front of The Paramount or the Memorial Coliseum back in the day, you have never been this close, and there is something amazing about watching this band perform.

I saved this last bit for the end. I do not know how the hell Rick Lepinski (slap me next time you see me if I spelled it wrong) is not playing bass in stadiums. As the bass player for Crazy Train (and Maiden Northwest) he is perhaps one of Portland's best kept secrets. I also think he must have fingers made of titanium. Thee way he hammers that bass is hypnotic. Seriously, see him once and I defy you to not be impressed.

A big tip of the hat to all the bands for a night to remember. And if you are getting tired of reading about all this amazing live music...THEN GET TICKETS! See you there.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Running for my life.

My mornings are a time to ramp up for the day. On some days, I start with a run. Everything is dark and quiet. It is amazingly peaceful. The only problem I have are the undead that are often right on my heels.

Seriously. You think I am joking? Or maybe this is the start to some new short story? Nope. I have an app on my phone. Zombie Run 5K. I found this little gem while surfing around one day looking for ways to get myself up and in shape to run an actual 5K (without the zombies). I found this app and it has actually worked wonders in keeping me on my routine. Even better, now Denise has started and I am very proud of her as she heads out the door in the mornings with me. She brings Tyrion and I bring Aoife.

To keep her from feeling the need to deal with my pace, we actually separate at the end of our street and do our own thing. I am utilizing all the hills around where we live. She is just getting started, and so she keeps to a route with fewer of the heart rate spiking slopes around the neighborhood.

In any case, the beauty of this app is that it is telling a story as you go. Also, you can have your own music that is on your phone pumping in the background between "transmissions" as you train and eventually take part in runs as the fabled "Runner 5". Personally, I need the help from Ratt, Van Halen, Motley Crue and others as I run. It helps take my mind off the fact that I HATE RUNNING! 

Yet, with this in my ear, it really does help keep me going. And once you finish the training on the 5K app, you can graduate to the Zombies Run! app that has a plethora of missions with more coming seemingly every year. The fun really begins there as you have the option for random zombie chases to begin. In those, you have to increase your speed to escape. You get a distance warning and can even start to hear them as they get closer. If they "catch" you, then you might lose some of the valuable resources that you managed to acquire as you build your base.

New Year's always brings on resolutions. Many revolve around physical activity. So, if you are trying to get motivated, but just have not found the way...perhaps give this a try. The app is certainly helping me (and Denise)!

Friday, January 23, 2015

An invitation (and you don't even have to attend)

How about a signed wedding invitation. Here is the cool thing, you don't even have to attend or bring a gift...absolutely nothing needs to be done on your part.

Okay, that is not ENTIRELY true. You need to comment in the link; either on my blog or on my Wastebook Author page. By doing so, you will be entered to win a signed ticket (I'll even have Denise sign it!) Denise and I are renewing our vows on our 13th anniversary. The ceremony is on February 22, 2015 at the KISS chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Now, as a side note, if you are going to be in Vegas at that time...I am actually inviting you. Seriously. We are having our ceremony at 11 AM. We do have a coupe of friends that will be in attendance. Unfortunately, schedule issues and such will prevent our daughters from attending. So if you are going to be in Vegas on the 22nd, all you need to do is email me at with "WEDDING" in the subject and I will get your address and actually mail you your invitational ticket. Yeah. I mean it. Not joking. We will be arriving Friday morning (Feb. 20th). So who knows what might happen. And like they say, "What happens in Vegas..."

In other news, I received a mock up of the tee-shirt that will be given to fans who buy "Zombie Row" tickets for the upcoming Portland Thunder AFL season. That and a signed copy of DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon will be yours. And who knows...I might even be able to stop by the row and say "hi!" during halftime. 

Anybody interested?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Can you give an honest opinion?

Okay, folks. Here is the new cover for DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon. I need some feedback here. I have the weekend to mull it over. I love it. But what do YOU think? That is the Audiobook cover. And below is the book cover.

Let  the commentary begin. And for those unfamiliar with Portland, Oregon....that would indeed be the KOIN Tower in flames on the left.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

For those about to rock...{FIRE!}

Shoot to Thrill!
So, normally I give the lowdown on the show I saw by talking about the opener and then the headliner. Not this time. When I saw the band Shoot to Thrill for the first time, it was at the Canby Harefest. I will openly admit that I had two very distinct reactions. Musically, I thought that they were the tightest band to perform when it came to the music. However, I was not as enthusiastic about the lead singer. Evan Berry is a talented young man, of that I had no doubt, but I have seen the original lineups (meaning both Bon Scott and Brian Johnson) in the flesh. Evan's vocals were too modern. He was a bit of a screamer, whereas, Bon was nasty sex and Brian was a punch in the face.

A few months later, I entered the Aladdin with no new expectations. I will say on the record that Evan has grown into his role, and if he continues to show this sort of amazing growth, then he will own any true AC/DC fan's admiration. He came out and took control of the stage and belted out vocals in a way that made me wonder what spirit he was channeling. He had an edgy nastiness when he took on AC/DC classics from the Bon Scott era and then snarled out the Brian Johnson lyrics with a voice twice the size of the young man I had seen just a few short months ago.

The rest of the band is still just as tight as I remember. Ted Berry IS Angus Young (as well as Evan's dad) and he is a ball of energy that will make you wonder what fountain of youth he drinks from before the show. Maury Brown holds down the rhythm as Malcolm Young (with one of the most beautiful guitars I have seen in a while) and Jeff Krebs drives the rhythm engine on bass along with Kevin Rankin on the drums as Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd respectively. If you are in the Northwest and have never seen the power and glory of an AC/DC concert, or, if you just want to re-live the glory of one of rock's premiere bands, then go to the J-Fell page and find out when and where you can see them next. Fair warning, this show sold out...and I see that as a trend that will continue for a long time. And let me just say to Evan Berry...young man, you have converted me into a fan.

Livin' on my hair...err...a prayer...
Steelhorse is the band I came to the Aladdin theater to see. This is another band that I saw for the first time at the Canby Harefest this past August. When I was younger and Bon Jovi was popular, I actually dismissed them because I was into Motley Crue, Van Halen, and KISS. I saw Bon Jovi as too pretty to like. However, the Young Guns song, Blaze of Glory, converted me. Then I found out that this was the same band that had put out the track Runaway a few years earlier. So I wiped the egg off my face and gave them another listen. After that, they were sort of my dirty secret.

Two very cool cats
Mark Thomas fronts this band and if you are not right next to him, you would swear that Jon Bon Jovi snuck onstage. He is simply amazing and has some crazy good vocals. However, this is the band that was a too-close-to-call second when it came to the tightness of their sound onstage. 

Don't try this at home. Singing...drumming? Oh, and then he hit skins for Shoot to Thrill

That has to be credited to Bryan Harvey on keyboards, Jeff Buehner on bass and Kevin Rankin on drums providing a soundtrack. Yep, Kevin Rankin pulled double duty that night. After a flawless set behind Steelhorse, he drove the bus for Shoot to Thrill. J-Fell knows how to put together one helluva night for music fans. I will say that Jeff is one of the most enthusiastic and expressive bass players on the tribute scene (and alongside Motorbreath's Mark Trees, could probably become the next WWE tag team champions of the world).'s THE KISS!
I saved a special part to talk about a very talented guitarist. The first time that I saw Brian McGroovy (how cool is that name?!) was with a Cult tribute band. He just exudes "cool". He is one of those guys that you watch play that makes you believe that playing the guitar is easy. Make no is NOT. However, he is just that damn good. He is charismatic and plays with style. I think I have a slight man-crush on this guy. Not in the scary, stalker way, just in the "hanging out with this guy would be freakin' awesome" sort of way.

If you were not in attendance, I once again urge you to find out the date of the next Steelhorse gig. If you are a Bon Jovi fan, you owe it to yourself to get closer than you probably ever came to the real band. And the beauty is that you will be hard pressed to tell the difference.

Monday, January 19, 2015

I get it...change is scary.

A few years back, I recall listening to a few of my friends tell me that this whole ereader craze was just a passing phase. People wanted to hold the book in their hands. And I think that is a wonderful thing...the whole having the book in your hands thing. Yet, e-books are outselling hard copies by leaps and bounds. In my case it is on a 100:1 scale, that or there abouts.

I have a close friend who is a librarian. So, I understand her dislike for the digital medium. However, while ebooks are big business, I believe that the physical book will never go away. So, what is this all about? What is my point? books.

Coming SOON!

Now, they are not for everybody. And if the story has a lot going on, it might get confusing if you do not pay attention. However, an audio book is great for that morning or evening walk or run. They are wonderful when you are grocery shopping or doing house work. Also, believe it or not, the time to work in the yard is coming around again soon. With the exception of mowing the lawn (and even then if you have good noise cancelling head phones) an audio book is spectacular. And here is the can treat them like the old daily soaps. Listen to a chapter or so and then tune in tomorrow.

Get the series HERE!

Believe it or not, I still have some unclaimed gifts from last year. 16 to be exact. Curious? Or maybe you already enjoy the audio love. In any case...if you email me with "GIMME SOME AUDIO LOVE" in the subject line and let me know which of these remaining titles you would like...then you might find yourself with some company for whatever it is that you do while you do the audio book thing. Trust me, they are not going the way of the dodo!

Here is the list:

DEAD: Special Edition (Vol. I) Perspectives, Geeks & Vignettes. {2 full sets}

DEAD: The Ugly Beginning, Revelations, Fortunes & Failures, and Winter (2 sets)

There are a pair of stragglers as well:

Zomblog: Snoe's War (volume 5 of the Zomblog series)--I will throw in the other 5 books if you ask for this one.

And DEAD: The Ugly Beginning. (I will throw in the remaining SEVEN books of the series if you ask for this one and promise a review {good or bad...just be honest})

Have a good Monday.