Monday, June 30, 2014

Why do you NEED a Beta Reader?

First a note on Beta Readers. Every writer worth a darn has few. They are invaluable and worth their weight in gold. This book is better because of them. And the beauty is that, after I have "painstakingly" edited this book...I hand it over to others who then send me back a laundry list of missed errors. And even better...all of them had "catches" that the others missed.

What does that say? It says that nobody is perfect. It says that we ALL need a little help. It says that it is okay to allow others to have input. I am always amazed when people (readers who have read my stuff to be more specific) contact me and pre-apologize for pointing out my errors or offering me a suggestion about how something REALLY works. They are helping me and apologizing? What has this world come to when a person has to feel the need to apologize for being helpful?

I even have a few AMAZING people who drop me a note to correct continuity errors in my books. Thank God for these people. They are not doing harm! They are making ME a better writer...making my books a better read.

And now, for those of you who might skip over or ignore the Author's Notes that I place at the start of my books...let me share the one for DEAD: Spring which comes out tomorrow!

What’s in a word?
Authors love to talk word count. How many they got each day, that sort of thing. One of the issues that I had with A LOT of the zombie fiction out there was that the word count was maybe 60-70,000. That might seem like a lot, and it is respectable, but there are others who do not even hit the 50,000 word benchmark that classifies a piece of work as novel length.
The norm in the DEAD series is 100,000. Decent by most standards; maybe not as lengthy as some, but still respectable. This baby is something that I am very proud of. And not just the words count (over 173,000!), I am happy where the stories took me (and you as you dive in). The bottom line is that I feel good about this book.
So what can YOU do? Honestly? Your reviews make all the difference. It moves my book into the “Amazon Consciousness” so that those little “If you read this, you might like…” emails that Amazon sends out go to more people. Tell your friends. Start a book club. Heck, I am always willing to do something special for a book club. You get seven or so people together and make a run through the DEAD series, you can bet that I will be happy to host a Q & A, or just about anything.
Here is the reality…I am not Stephen King. And while I do make a very good living as a writer, it is not as glamorous as you might believe. I am a stay-at-home kinda guy with OCD (I say it is minor…but my wife laughs when I say it, so…). My wife goes to work and I do the cooking, the cleaning, and the writing. She says it is a little like being married to Adrian Monk because I am a very scheduled kind of person and a “clean freak.”
So let’s talk just a little about this book. I wanted to really reward the reader for hanging this long. Nine books is a BUNCH, We are closing in on a million words! I really left you hanging in the last book…so this is your “prize” for being such a good sport.
I catch a lot of flak for having main characters die. I think that is one of the things that keeps this “real.” Besides, isn’t it a bit more fun when bad things start to happen and you DON’T know that somebody is safe? Me personally, I always hated that when I read. When my heroes go into a situation, I want to feel the danger.
One other thing that I will address: in real life, you don’t always get a clear answer. You sometimes get an answer that you need to interpret and decide which aspect of it you want to use. Then, based on what you know of a situation or person, you come to a conclusion. I think it gives the reader something to chew on if they have a series of facts and a few suppositions and then they get to decide why they think something happened or a person acted a certain way. I know not everybody will agree, but that is what makes the world a great place…differing views.
One more thing; the DEAD: Snapshot series will be coming very soon. I have received a lot of requests from people that want to see what happened to their town in a DEAD universe. I will say that the first (after the 12th book in the DEAD series…so we have a little while still) will be DEAD: Snapshot—Portland, Oregon. So you might get a guest appearance by a few familiar names. But keep those requests coming. Who knows…you may see your hometown on an upcoming cover. And in this one…size DOES NOT matter. I would be just as likely to write about Mudhole, Wyoming as I would Tokyo, Japan.
I do have a few people to thank, so indulge me just a few more seconds. To Sophie, Michele, Tammy, Tim and Debra, my Beta readers for this one, as well as David Redding who comes in after and sweeps up all the messy details, you have my gratitude. And, as always, my family; despite my insistence of being left alone to work…I still need you to be that very important part of my life.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Behind the curtain of the DEAD series.

When I first sat down and wrote the opening line for the DEAD series, I was thinking, “Maybe I have a five book series here.” By then end of that book, I knew it was going to take more than that. My mind was made up that I was going to write the Wheel of Time (or, if I can be so bold…The Stand) equivalent for the zombie crowd. I was set to build an entire world and then take the reader on a whirlwind tour of the apocalypse populated with a cast of characters that might reach a hundred in any given book. And yeah…I knew it was risky. But I also felt that the zombie fans were a group that deserved something with depth.

The formula that I chose was inspired by George R.R. Martin. If you have dipped your toes in the books that the very popular “Game of Thrones” series is based upon, then you know how he does each chapter from a different perspective of one of his characters. I tweaked it for my own devices and came up with “Steve’s Story”, “The Geeks”, and “Vignettes” as my three rotating chapters. If you have read any of my DEAD series, then you know that each book is always 18 chapters long (6 per story line). However, things have changed some since that first book. I learned some lessons.

Of course, Steve’s chapters are all in first person. That lets you really see things from one person’s perspective. You are only as clued in as he is during any particular moment. The Geeks was my homage to every single zombie fan who thinks that the Zombie Apocalypse would be so freakin’ cool. This is the story that I get to sink in to as I write it. I channel many of my friends and the snippets of conversations that we have had since that day in the 70s when we all came out of the original Dawn of the Dead with some fairly silly adolescent fantasies. However, it is the Vignettes where I think I have learned the most as a writer. And that is sort of my focus here as I let you peek behind the curtain.

The vignettes were initially just supposed to be snapshots of the world in chaos. I even toyed with the idea of folding every one of those stories in to my two main story lines. Somewhere along the way, many of those shorts began to take on a life of their own. In fact, they are the source of the most hated and loved (according to reviews and personal emails) of my character; Garrett being the former and Juan the latter.

In the first book, DEAD: The Ugly Beginning, I wrote the vignettes as they came to me. So, there was no order, rhyme, or reason. However, as some of the stories began to take on a life of their own, I started to really get invested in what would happen. By the second book, DEAD: Revelations, I realized something: I needed to keep the stories in the same order chapter by chapter. By the third book, DEAD: Fortunes and Failures, I had a refined formula. What I would do was continue to keep the main vignettes in order, but I would give each vignette chapter what I termed as a one-timer. This would be a single open-and-closed short.

Funny thing about when an author sits down with an idea. They are usually the only one who understands it. So was the case with Vignettes. The idea is one that I would not change as a whole, but I do think that I would have modified it to some extent. And that is where I believe it to be now.

Readers of the series have had to go through this process with me, but I do think what I have now is the way to go. Now, in Vignettes, there are the main story lines that have endured since the first book or two of the series. However, since I try to complete the main ideas of a story arc in each three-book offering, I now introduce a new vignette at the start of books 4, 7, and 10. That will allow me to write a bit of a novella-length story. Some will fold in to the main stories, some will simply reach a climax and end, and others might be melded into one of the other vignettes.

Now, I realize that I still run the risk of “too many characters” as some critics have pointed out. However, I believe that, once you become engrossed in this DEAD world, you will find it a very rewarding experience.
At least that is what I am hoping.

As book nine, DEAD: Spring, hits the ground, I am more excited than ever before. For one, I can’t be sure, but this might be the largest (in terms of word count) of any zombie novel out there to date. And if you find a longer zombie novel, you have to let me know because I am as much a fan as anything else and I would love to read it (if it is good).

Book eight was the riskiest for me due to all of the cliffhangers. But I was fairly confident that, if you have come along for this much of the ride, then you are probably a fan and will be on board for the next one.
So, I hope that you enjoy it. I think that it is my best to date.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Why zombies?" you ask with a frown.

In September of 1978, I was taken to see a movie. That movie was 1974 The Exorcist ripoffBeyond the Door with Juliette Mills. When it had first come out, just the commercial terrified me. When she would say, "Who are you?" I felt my skin get all goosebumpy. As with so many things that we build up in our minds, it turned out to be a disappointment. However, this was the 70s and movies were often shown as double features. The second film was a movie I had never heard of and actually the feature film of the pairing. The movie was titled Dawn of the Dead. If you are a zombie fan and have not seen the original DotD, stop reading. You need to watch that movie far more than you need to be reading this little post.

When a girl a few rows ahead of me got sick into her date’s popcorn, I was hooked for life. Granted, I was already fascinated by horror. I stayed up many a night watching the local channel’s hosted midnight scary movie show (back when they used to have those…and there were only 5 channels…and I walked to school uphill in the snow both ways). All the classics were immortalized in posters, comic books, and even models like my Frankenstein with glow-in-the-dark head and hands. Zombies were a total mystery until that day.

Without the internet to help me, I scoured the world for more and eventually discovered a classic black-and-white film called Night of the Living Dead. I was stoked to discover that it was directed by that same Romero guy who had done DotD. From there, it was slim pickings, but an occasional nugget like Zombies! would crop up. (Zombie versus Great White Shark equals AWESOME!)

Still, there was never a thought about taking up the torch. Even when I began chasing my dream of becoming an author, zombies were the farthest thing from my mind. It was not until around 2008 after a college prof who taught my creative writing class made the suggestion following an assignment where she told us to step outside our “comfort box” and write something fun. She said that I had really shown a flare for capturing vivid and real characters that made the reader feel love or hate. She said that it was obvious that I had enjoyed the writing and that I should dip my toe in the zombie pool.

Funny thing, while you can’t come close to counting the number of zombie-themed titles that are in existence now, just a few short years ago, that was not the case. In fact, after Brian Keene, Max Brooks, and David Wellington, it was a wasteland of vamps and anything but zombies in the literary world (and yes, I am using the term “literary” in its loosest definition). Horror in written form meant the two “Ks”…King and Koontz. Sure there were others, but you would be hard pressed (back then) to name that many. Horror in print was like as scarce as a comedy being nominated for “Best Picture” at the Academy Awards.

I spent a few days trying to decide where to even begin. After all, Romero was it. What could be said or done after him? Apparently (judging by the amazing and talented writers that I have come to know and be fans of these past years) a great deal. The zombie genre is—pardon the pun—alive and well. Sure, we get treated like the red-headed, bastard step-child of the literary world, but somehow, we continue to not simply survive, but, in many cases, thrive.

People are fascinated by the zombie. And despite the constant cry that it is “played out” or “overdone”, people continue to scoop up zombie books in droves. And once they find something that they like, there is no more loyal fan in the world. The zombie fans of today are a lot like the KISS fans of the 80s. Everybody said that the band sucked, the music was stale, and the act had gone sour and was done. Yet, they continue to sell millions of records to this day, pack stadiums and arenas, and produce a merchandise empire that is the gold standard when it comes down to marketing coverage.

Your friends might roll their eyes when they see what you are reading, but somebody is tuning in and making The Walking Dead the most watched cable show in history. It is fascinating that so many people claim to “hate” the zombie genre, yet you cannot argue with the numbers.

As an author of the six-book Zomblog series as well as the DEAD series where I am just releasing book nine out of the twelve scheduled, I rely on people like you (yes, you…the person reading this) for my livelihood. I rely on zombies continuing to be an obsession or a dirty little secret. I used to think that my small group of friends and I were the only ones who “got” the whole zombie thing. I am glad to be wrong. I am thrilled that you took a moment to find out where it all began for me. And, yes, I do hope that you check out my books and like what you see. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

How to get people to review (hopefully honestly) your work.

Get it HERE!
Last week, I started an audio book review club. The basic idea is that I will give codes good for use on for my titles. I decided to start with my "That Ghoul Ava" series. The rules (or whatever you want to call them) are simple. I give you a code. You listen to and then review the title on Audible. (The sweet part is that you have to buy a copy to be able to review it on Plus, I get a daily sales report that I can keep an eye on to track the sales numbers. (Not always a good thing, BTW.)

This was a test run. And so far, I think it is going very well. Some people are starting to really dig Ava, and the hope is that it will spread via word-of-mouth. So, that brings me to today...

Get it HERE!
I just had the first volumes of the DEAD: SPECIAL EDITION series release on Audible. These are great for the person who really wanted to get into the DEAD series, but was just not able to enjoy the rotating chapters (Steve, Geeks, and Vignettes). I know that, especially with the vignettes which were intended to be global snapshots that gave you a whirlwind tour of how the zombie apocalypse was taking down the world...major design flaw being that some of those Vignettes were "one-timers" and there are some that have managed to continue on like a serial within the DEAD series through the soon-to-be-released book nine...DEAD: Spring. So I can understand where some people just got frustrated.

The beauty of the DEAD series (in my opinion) is that every three books is a story arc. Each of the three rotating chapters gets six chapters per 18 chapter book. So after every three books, I have an 18 chapter story for each (Steve, Geeks, Vignettes). So I sit down and I wrote some "bonus material" based on stuff that YOU the readers end me. "What happened between point "A" and point "B"?" That sort of thing, hence the SPECIAL EDITION. Consider it like a bonus track on a greatest hits CD.

I should have the second three volume set (Perspective--which is basically Steve's Story, Geeks, and Vignettes) of the DEAD: SPECIAL EDITION series ready by the end of summer. That would cover DEAD: Winter, DEAD: Siege & Survival, and DEAD: Confrontation. So now is a great time to drum up interest in the audio versions of the DEAD: SPECIAL EDITION series.

Get it HERE!
So I am starting it with DEAD: Perspectives (Vol. 1). If you would like to be part of the DEAD: SPECIAL EDITION audio book is easy. You email me at and tell me that you want in. Good news is that I have UK CODES!!!! No more excluding my good people across the pond on!

I will be taking the first 15 people to contact me. After you listen to and post a review, you let me know and I send you a new code for the next book! Simple as that. And you stay in the party for as long as you want. And here is the real don't get bounced for a negative review. Hey...the reality is that NOT EVERYTHING will necessarily be your cup of tea. And that is OKAY! One thing I really like to see is your thoughts on my narrator. He works hard and deserves some kudos for the work that he does to bring the series to life. So...


Friday, June 20, 2014

The feeling of accomplishment.

What have you done lately?

That is a pretty good question. For many, that answer is often not even thought of. We simply go about our day and do what we do without giving it a thought. However, I believe we need to ask that question of ourselves and answer it as well. It allows us a chance to realize that we have reached goals, achieved things both big and small. For some, we may feel as if our daily grind is no big deal. Yet we often make life easier for others. Whether it is by maintaining the house, cooking the meals, or enduring traffic, putting in the hours at the job, and coming home with a check.

Each of us probably does more each day than we realize. So today...take a moment and celebrate. Buy yourself a cupcake and enjoy it without caring how many calories it has...grab that movie that you have been meaning to see and say "To hell with all the little projects!" Sit down with some popcorn and enjoy it.

You've earned it.

Feel free to share some of your accomplishments below.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Spring is coming...seriously!

June is halfway done...that means that DEAD: Spring is so close that you can feel its fetid breath on your neck. I am very excited and honestly feel that it is the best and most rewarding read to date. Coming in at almost 180,000 words it is almost twice the length of any previous book in the series.

I will need three BETA readers to check my continuity as well as any errors that slipped past in the editing process. However, this is going to be a daunting task. I will be sending the PDF out on or about the 21st of June and need the responses back by the 28th. That is just a week...a very short turnaround which means that I am asking an awful lot of the three of you who step forward. If you feel up to the task, I invite you to shoot me an email at BETA readers are my unsung heroes...they have always made my book just that much better upon release, and I rely on them a great deal.

I can't express the amount of excitement that I am feeling about this one. It is the best I have felt pre-release of any of my titles. I am looking forward to the reactions of the readers. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: since there was almost no interest (I think two people actually commented to be a part of it) in the Google Hangout "Ask the author" event I will scrap the idea. Perhaps more folks will get webcams and use Google+ in the future...or maybe there truly was not any interest in that sort of thing.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Do Reviewers Matter? of hands. How many of you have heard some film critic give a nasty review to a movie? Right. Now, how many of you decide that the critic is probably channeling Ace Ventura--Pet Detective and talking out of his or her butt? You go anyways and absolutely LOVE the movie that just got panned!

Now, this works both ways of course. A movie that is a critical darling can leave you feeling like you lost part of your soul. So what is my point? Well, my point is that a critic is ONE PERSON. And these days, the critics have been infiltrated by "trolls" or those who go on negative review jihads to fill a hole in their nasty, hate-filled centers that were probably created by not being breast fed as children or being pushed into lockers in school.

So you might think that this is some sort of anti-reviewer spiel. To quote Captain Tenneal from MXC...

"Well, you're wrong!"

Reviewers--good and bad--are a valuable resource to any write. Believe it or not, Amazon actually hold stock in the number of reviews that a title receives. It goes into some secret formula that they use to determine how much they will promote a book in their "You read this, so you might like..." emails. A reviewer whop give a well-crafted review that hit the highs and lows of a title will sell more books for a writer than a million "Buy my book!" spam posts on Facebook. (Yeah...don't we all ignore those now?) So what is a person to do?

First, you need to find reviewers who obviously READ the book. If it is a few paltry line of "This was good..." of "This sucks...", that isn't really telling you anything. Also, if you read a review (good or bad) and then get the book and find yourself thinking that 'Reviewer X' was spot on, then perhaps you should bookmark that individual. There are a lot of ways that you can get notified when that person posts another review. The easiest is to find their blog (they USUALLY have one) and follow it. 

However, there is another little thing that you can do to actually help that reviewer. At the bottom of the review there is often a little button that you can click on to say that you found the review helpful. CLICK YES! Those little buttons matter A GREAT DEAL to the reviewers. And when they get lots of "YES" clicks, they get more books to review because writers know that people actually READ THIS PERSON'S REVIEWS!

I have a few that I follow. And I feel quite honored when I receive good marks from them. The biggest thing is that I know I will be given an honest appraisal. These individuals do NOT just toss out 5 Star reviews willy nilly. In fact, one of them actually entered into an active dialog with me about some points that would make my "That Ghoul Ava" series a better book for my targeted female audience!

So I invite you to check out the links below...and find some of YOUR favorite reviewers. Follow that button!

Now fly, my pretties...FLY!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Cry For Help...can YOUR Blog assist?

Okay...first things first. Most of the time, people see a picture of themselves and they cringe. I just got my pics back from the Rugged Maniac 5K run, and I found one that I really like, so I am sharing. This was taken just after leaping through a wall of fire...okay, actually it was more like a hedge...umm...well...the flames were only about a foot high...but there was definitely fire!

So, as for the headline. As some of you may know, I have a new installment (Book 9!) of the DEAD series to be more specific, that is due out in July. So...I am booking interviews, guest posts...whatever you have to offer. If you can host me, just shoot me an email at And I thank you in advance.

That pretty much covers it. No sense in taking up any more of your day. See ya soon!

Monday, June 9, 2014

If you can't read (or even listen to) a book...then quit writing.

Yep...that is a pretty inflammatory headline. But I stand behind it, and I don't care who you are. If you want to call yourself a writer, but can't take the time to READ...then you don't belong in the business. Seriously. And for some, you have risen to a point where other people actually think YOUR opinion maters...they send you a request and you give some lame excuse? 

Do you remember what it felt like to start out new? I still recall my first plea for just such a boon. Having read Eden by Tony Monchinski, I sent a request to him, asking if he might read and offer a "blurb" for my upcoming release, Zomblog. Not only was he kind enough to do so, but fast forward a few months and he wrote the intro to Zomblog II. Tony will always be a ROCKSTAR in my eyes. One of the good guys who was not so full of himself that he could not be bothered. His endorsement and kind words gave me a boost that I will openly credit for helping me get where I am today. 

There are a lot of things in the foundation of somebody who "makes it" in the writing world...and one of those things is the approval and acceptance by your peers. Being a rebel is fine, but having a few people that are further up the ladder reach down and give you a hand up...that makes a BIG difference. And as an added note, be careful of those asses that you KICK on the way up, rest assured you will be KISSING them on the way down.

Time to slap around my brothers and sisters in the book writing realm again. As a writer, how many times have you hit up one of your writing comrades and said, "I would really appreciate it if you could give my book a read....tell me what you think." You wait for the response and are more than a bit disappointed when you receive the reply, "I'd love to, but I am so busy writing that I just don't have time." or (and I love THIS  one) "I don't want to have it spill over into my stuff where I end up stealing your ideas." If you are worried about something like that, maybe you should just quit writing. There really are not any "new" ideas, there are many takes on a few MAIN ideas.

I get are busy. So is the rest of the world. Aren't you asking other people to take the time to READ YOUR work? I am not saying that you have to say YES to every single request...but when is the last time that you did say yes at all? And if it is a person that you call "friend", did you stop to consider what YOUR opinion might mean?

Now, let me knock MYSELF off of my own high horse to come out and admit that I do not read as much as I would like to, or as much as I probably should. I only READ about a book or two a month. However, I LISTEN to another 3 or 4 in that same span. When I am doing yard work, cleaning the house, walking the dog...those are all times that I can plug in my headphones to my phone and spend some time in a book.

I get it, the world is a busy place, but if you are a writer (or want to be one) and can't take the time to READ...then you are actually being VERY selfish, not to mention that you are inhibiting your growth. You work out to get stronger and study to become (hopefully) smarter. And if you have a job, no matter if it is doctor, mechanic, or WRITER, you have to immerse yourself in the craft, see what others in your field are doing, and LEARN if you want any chance of getting better. Would you take your car to a mechanic who has never looked under a hood, or had another mechanic show him ANYTHING? Then why would you read a writer who won't read other people's work?

Stop with the excuses. Pick up a book...even if it is only during your bathroom visits...and start reading. Go back through your old requests that some of your cohorts have sent over the years and maybe YOU reach out to them and ASK for the book. I know of a few people out there that I would gladly send a FREE copy of one (or all) of my books to if they just came out and asked. I have had plenty of my writing comrades give those excuses to me, and I know what it feels like. That is why I always say yes when a friend or new writer that I may have a passing familiarity with shoots me a request for me to read their work. Funny thing, but I have found some new writers to be an actual fan of in the process. I still am amazed when somebody thinks that my opinion matters enough for them to ask it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's all in your head.

Too far...too heavy...too much...

These are the mantras of the quitter. Now, don't get me wrong. I realize that there are people who possess certain handicaps that hamper them in many ways. Yet, every day you turn on the news and hear about a guy with one finger playing concert piano or that 87-year-old lady who just ran her first marathon.

The reality is that accomplishment resides in desire.If you WANT something, then you can make it happen. The key is to work at it every single day and commit yourself to it completely. It is not about if you do this one thing and are the best or fastest or is simply a matter of if you REACH the goal.

You have to start with small attainable steps that lead you to that finish line. Stop telling yourself what you CAN'T grandmother used to say, "Can't couldn't do a thing." Even more important DO NOT LET OTHERS TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN'T DO. More often than not, they don't want you to succeed because then it will diminish their own self-worth. Surround yourself with people who will cheer you on. Cut out the negative people like you would weeds in a garden.

Just as important...allow yourself to have setbacks. Very rarely does everything go according to plan. That is life. It is okay to stumble. The key is to get up just one more time than you fall.

So...start today. And declare it publicly. There are studies that show a person is more apt to reach a goal if they let others know about it. It adds a sense of accountability or some such nonsense.

My goal is to run a half-marathon distance (just over 13 miles) be the end of summer, and to participate (and finish) in a half-triathalon by next summer. So what is your goal?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

If you could REALLY say what you felt...

Let me lead off with saying that I am blessed with some very good friends. I have a core group of people who I know are always there...will always be matter what. That means the world to me because I used to think I KNEW what friends were...until things got tough. Then I discovered WHO my REAL friends were and it was almost embarrassing. People that I had not thought were more than acquaintances stepped in, and people that I thought were closer to me than my F@#%$D up family turned out to be thinner than 800-year-old parchment. Recently I stumbled upon something, and I wish I had the chops to pull it off, but let me just say that I FEEL a lot of what this guys is throwing down. Maybe you know somebody who has a situation that mirrors a few of the samples I will be sharing (and yes...some of these are my version of a "Kasey Kasem Long Distance Dedication"--remember those?!), so maybe you will share these with friends...or not-so-friends.

Every so often, it seems that I get a steady stream of hate mail. I have reached a place in my life that seems to open myself up for that sort of thing. I had a long uphill climb to reach where I am, and that brings out people who would like nothing better than to see me "die and rot in a gotter <sp>!" (Yep, that is a direct quote.)

This did not happen overnight, and I would put my work ethic up against anybody who thinks that, just because I stay at home and write, that I do not put in a full day. Sure, I may not be a mechanic, welder or ditch digger...but I would love to see some of these people try to hang with my schedule for just a day or two. 

I am blessed to do what I love, but I was also out there delivering the paper and then heading to the warehouse to pick up stacks of phone books so heavy that it damn near wore out the suspension of my pickup truck, and then walking 7-10 miles a day (according to my steps counter) to deliver those phone books door-to-door. I had hands so cold and curled that I could not hold my keys to start my car and had to wait for my breath to defrost them enough so the fingers would move. So...yeah, I paid my dues.

And last but not least, for Jenifer...the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Books, Beer and Blogshit: Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014: Stevie Kopas

Books, Beer and Blogshit: Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014: Stevie Kopas: You're reading Books, Beer and BLOGshit! It's the only blog willing to host zombies a second time around! I am your blog host, Mr....

Addictions...I have a few.

So, let's just start with the assertion that I do not drink, smoke, or use drugs. I have been sober for almost 20 years. I do drink coffee, and I don't ever see that changing. However, that is not to say that I do not have my own addictions. And the funny thing is that both have become so in the past year. What are they? Extreme running events and tattoos.

As many of you know, this weekend started my running season. It was the Rugged Maniac 5K. It sported 30 obstacles that included a 50 pound sandbag carry up and down some bleachers, plenty of mud pits, barbed wire, and cargo nets. It was a great way to start a Saturday. And while I am still quite a ways from the shape that I want to be in, I feel that this was my launch pad. I have now decided that I want to run a triathalon by next summer. To that end, I will probably be attempting my first 13 mile event this summer if I can get my body ready in time.

I have about a dozen such races picked out for the summer and look forward to the challenge. What makes these doubly good is that the majority of these runs give proceeds to everything from Wounded Warrior, to our everyday local heroes like police and firemen who have been hurt or even perished in the line of duty.

But I won't fib...the best part of those races is finishing! There is a real sense of "What the hell was I thinking?!" mixed with "Wow! That was amazing!" every time I complete one of these races.

My other addiction is the tattoo. I just got a set on my calves to honor my favorite band in the world. The ORIGINAL LINEUP of the band KISS. (Nothing against the guys who have stepped in to create the most expensive tribute band in the world...sorry Tommy and Eric, but Ace and Peter will always be the Cat and the Spaceman.) And I have many more planned in the future to go with the full upper arm pieces I have on both arms as well as the one on my right forearm. I do plan to get full sleeves for both arms and I am working on plans for a back piece as well.

So...what are your "healthy" addictons? Feel free to share below.