Monday, June 29, 2015

Moving the office outdoors.

My office this past weekend.
As I said Friday, I was taking off to the woods of the Pacific Northwest for the weekend to work on my upcoming NON-zombie novel, UnCivil War: A Modern Day Race War in the United States. The weather here was going to be in the triple digits, so I thought it would be a nice way to get out and enjoy some cooler temps as well as get some work done.

This was the reason I got my CR-V, but had to move the tent due to the rocky ground.
I actually did get a great deal of work done and am now in the final stretch of the writing process. I am starting to get the jitters about this book since it is so different from what my amazing readers are used to. Also, this is one of those books that can cause some extreme emotions from the readers. I had to use some rather unpleasant language and deal with some vile subject matter to make this book come together. however, if you have been watching the news, I think this book may resonate.

My roof this weekend.
I plan on making another excerpt as the feature of Wednesday's blog post. I am thinking I might actually include a rather rough scene. The language will be "uncomfortable" at best, but this might give you more reason to decide if this is a book you will be reading. Any thoughts on the matter?

Those stones are usually under about a foot of rushing water from the melting mountain snow.
One thing I did observe this weekend was just how bad the lack of snow has hurt our water supply. The rivers and creeks in the area were WELL below their normal levels. I took a few walks in between writing sessions, and with nobody within a mile of my location, got to really enjoy nature. I do live in a very beautiful part of the country.

So peaceful, I saw a great variety of the Northwest wildlife.
So, I hope you all had a great weekend and here is to a fantastic week. Mine is booked with the start of a photography class, the finishing of my book, and the normal chores that come each week. Still, I feel amazingly refreshed and ready to push forward.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I have gone into hiding...sort of.

As you read this, I am somewhere in the woods of the Pacific Northwest with Aoife and Tyrion, my dynamic Border Collie duo. We are sitting in camp beside a river, not another person in sight as we enjoy a weekend in one of the state's many "undeveloped" campsites. That means nothing but a fire pit and a place to put the tent.

"Hurry up! I am already packed!"
Denise should be arriving soon to find dinner cooking over the open flame. I slipped away early to set up and just get away from what is forecast as a possible 100-degree weekend. I also brought the laptop so I could get in some writing as UnCivil War: A Modern Day Race War in the United States gets close to wrapping up. I am equal parts nervous and excited about this project.

"Huh? Now? Do we go now!?"
So, I will be away from communication for a few days. Jenifer will be hanging here with the birds. (They can't go camping...yet.) I hope that your weekend is peaceful, cool, and as productive as you want it to be. I will see you on the other side.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fourth time is a charm...

Thank you, random stranger.
This picture misses all the real 'drama" of the moment. So, let me set it up for you. This past Saturday, I ran the Rugged Maniac obstacle course race. They added some new things and one of them is the Warped Wall. If you have seen American Ninja Warrior, then you know that is a 14 foot high wall-type obstacle. I have seen many people fail at that final obstacle. These would be REAL athletes who are in prime condition. Now, they don't have spotters at the top to give you a hand if you make it up that far, but I digress. 

That looks REALLY high!
I was in my head about that obstacle the entire race. When I reached the end and it was down to me and the Wall, I gave it all I fingertips caught the lip of the top...and I fell back down to the bottom. When I made my second attempt, it was actually worse. I was gassed and just did not have the energy. Still, I had to make a run and take that third strike before I could accept being out and take the ladder provided at the side of the obstacle.

No, that is NOT the Warped Wall.
I failed. I was done and started for the ladder. That is where Jenifer (my step-daughter for those not in the know) was there to meet me. "You can do this! You were so close...just give it one more try!" How could I say no to that? What example would I set if I just said I was done, I tried and it was not in my grasp. I could try again next year.(?)

Also NOT the Warped Wall.
I returned to the starting block for the obstacle and tried to find any oxygen that I might have left in my lungs. There wasn't much, but I would try one more time.

Yum! Water!
This final obstacle is right beside the starting corral and, unbeknownst to me since I was delirious with fatigue by this time, apparently the crowd had taken notice. When I slipped from the grip of the spotter on that third try, apparently a collective moan went up from the crowd. (I was told this after the race.) Then, this stranger walked up to me. He told me how to better attack the obstacle. I thought he was full of whatever, but I would try it his way. He told me to simply keep running when I reached the wall. "Don't jump, just keep running and lean forward." Sure. Why not? My way obviously was not working.
Almost done!
When my hands found the spotter and I grabbed the lip and threw my leg over the top of the wall, I missed the cheers from the crowd. I was too spent to barely move. I took a few steps forward and collapsed on the cargo net that I had to cross in order to slide down and be done. All these people were running under me as they started the race I was just finishing, but they were all screaming and jumping up to high-five me. I found out after the race the reason why.

As I was being told by Denise about the crowd and how they had been cheering me on, Jenifer just kept beaming up at me and telling me how proud she was of me. I gotta tell felt pretty damn good. Maybe next week I will share the video I shot using my GoPro...if anybody is interested.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Original Secrets

Stealing Lucky
This weekend was a busy one. Of course the big day was Father's Day. Mine was spectacular. I hope yours was as well. However, my festivities actually started on Friday. Denise and I were fortunate to be invited to catch Stealing Lucky and Business Suit Guy. We are fans of local Poison tribute band, Poison'us, and the drummer, Andrew Losli was kind enough to extend the invite. They are fronted by Will Barnes (who is also the front man for Poison'us), so we were anxious to see them doing their own thing.

The best way I can share the experience with my fellow 80s music fans is to say that, if Brett Michaels collaborated with Bun E. Carlos (coolest drummer in the world), the guitarist from Faster Pussycat, and the bass player from The Clash, that would be sort of the vibe you get from Stealing Lucky. The music is a crunchy 80s rock with lyrics that might make some delicate sorts blush a bit. In was a blast!  They were the best sort of fun, fast, and loud. We will be catching them again.

What I enjoyed most was seeing just how completely different singer Will Barnes is when he is not performing as the Brett character. Truly it is not even remotely close to watching the same person. If you want a real sample of their sound...check this out.

After the set, honestly, with what I had planned early Saturday morning (check back here on Wednesday to learn more), we were set on going home after Stealing Lucky. Andrew Losli suggested we stick around for Business Suit Guy. He said we would be blow away. We agreed...and were NOT disappointed.

Again, the best I can do for my music loving brethren is to say this. Imagine the lead guitarist from Cheap Trick went mad. Now, he ends up being possessed by Weird Al and forced to write the music for Metallica. Yeah...that STILL does not do it justice. Yes, they were hilarious, but not in a conventional way. The BSG front man and guitarist struts, pouts, and poses like any long-haired 80s hair band hero...only...

The man pulls off the most epic parody of all time. There is no real description that I could write to do this band justice. They were well worth staying up past our bed time. I wish I could tell you more, but you will have to see them for yourself. You truly do not expect what comes out of that three man band. Their sound is tight, their music is ferocious, and the lyrics will have you telling yourself that you could not have possibly heard what you thought you just heard that man say.

I walked out of the tiny club with Denise and we both expressed that we now had two more bands to add to our "must see" list. Thanks again to Andrew Losli and Will Barnes for their hospitality. It was a pleasure to see you guys doing what you so obviously love. And, yes, Andrew, you were right...Business Suit Guy was amazing.

Friday, June 19, 2015

What do zombies have to do with football?

Many of you may (or may not) know that I signed a three year deal to sponsor the local arena football team. It has been a unique experience to say the least. Recently, on the team's Wastebook page, when they show a zombified version of one of the players, there has been a surprisingly nasty backlash from fans of the team asking what the hell zombies have to do with football...the short answer is not a thing.

However, the longer version is that I am a local author who happens to be a fan of the Portland Thunder. I bought a pair of season tickets the first season and see myself continuing to renew them for the duration. When one of the front office personnel members--who happened to be a fan of my work--gave me a call and asked me if I would like to become a corporate sponsor of the team, I was thrilled...and scared to death. After all, I know enough about sponsorships to understand that they are not cheap. I am just an indie author with a moderately successful series that has a loyal following. I am not Stephen King, and I certainly don't have the "big bucks".

After a long meeting over coffee with the representative from the Portland Thunder, I agreed to become a sponsor for the next three seasons. As I said, I am a fan. I love football, and I thought that it would be fun to show my support for this young team where it I pay what I consider to be a pretty hefty amount of my hard earned income to call myself a sponsor of Portland's arena football franchise. I am not a company or an office...just an author. I don't make a dime if people don't buy my books. I hoped to get some local exposure. Honestly, at my last book signing here in Portland...not one person showed up. That is like throwing a party and having nobody come.

Imagine my surprise the first time I saw comments basically ridiculing me and my product. I don't see anybody asking how tires or golf relate to football. I seem to be the only actual sponsor coming under fire for supporting the team. If people want to vent some righteous anger, why not start a campaign to get the local television news teams to start giving the team some coverage? They talk about everything BUT the Portland Thunder (with the exception of a possible score mention right before the smirk and oddly long silence just before the sign off of the KGW sportscaster). 

If you simply hate zombies...hey, that's cool. It's not for everybody. And, no, zombies don't have anything to do with football. My book, DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon is simply the spin off from my 12 book zombie series that begins with DEAD: The Ugly Beginning. It uses the world I created in that series, but is simply the story of how Portland falls in the zombie apocalypse. I have future installments planned and one near release (taking place in Leeds, England). It seemed like the right book to promote in my first year as a sponsor. 

Next year, I will be featuring a book from my That Ghoul Ava series (set in Portland also by the way). That will actually feature Ava dealing with an ogre who is out to hurt the local quarterback of an unnamed franchise (rights to names can be expensive, so...). But the bottom line is that I am just a sponsor. I really thought that the "Keep Portland Weird" vibe would make people want to check out my books. After all, the reason you pay to be a sponsor is that you hope fans of the team will support the sponsors by purchasing their goods and services. 

Does that cover it? I hope so. And if you DO like zombies, I hope you will give my books a try.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The world we live in...

I hate commercials. I am not a fan of the "As Seen On TV" product line. I think most things that seem too good to be true usually are a bunch of hooey. (That is my technical term for male bovine excrement.) I believe you get what you pay for. If you buy something on the cheap, you don't get to bitch when it breaks.

Does that mean I don't get sucked in to things on occasion? Absolutely not. We are all at least a little driven by impulse. How many cases of buyers remorse have you experienced over your life? too. Lots...too many to count most likely.

My point? Just hold on, I'm getting to it.

My buddy, Beth.
I have a dear friend (from as far back as the teen version of me) named Beth. She has been my pal for decades. In and out of touch as people are prone to do over that many years, we reconnected a while back. She is funny, goofy, and people tell me she is really pretty. I just see her as Beth, the same girl I put in a garbage can one day in high school and then had to run to the principal's office and fess up as she was near tears and getting chewed out for being in a garbage can. Seriously...did they REALLY think my preppy pal put HERSELF there?

Beth is smart. One day, she was telling me about getting some of her legal stuff in order. Wills, divorces...stuff like that. I knew all about divorces. Funny thing, but right around that time, I'd been talking to Denise about my will. I actually need one. Maybe a few years ago there wasn't much to pass on, and even less that somebody would probably want. But now I have a house, a car...stuff.

Recently, I went to hear about this thing Beth kept talking about called Legal Shield. $20 a month for my wife and I to have 24/7 legal access? Sort of like insurance for life stuff. Harassment issues? Hmm... Wills? Contract disputes? Hell, just the will was enough, but all the other stuff? Cherry on top. 

So, am I pitching Legal Shield to you? Nope. That would be best left to my wife. After the lunch/pitch, we signed up for not only Legal Shield, but ID shield as well. Then...Denise was so impressed that she has met and spoken with Beth about repping for Legal Shield. Here is the funny part, when we went to this lunch/presentation, I was not in any way convinced that I would have any use for this legal stuff. Sadly, this is not the world from the pre-80s McDonald's lawsuit. One hour of a lawyer's time costs bucks. Almost as much as a year of Legal Shield. 

Want something even funnier? I hit the "Call Law firm" button on my phone app less than three weeks after signing up. I still have to fill out my will, but the local firm that works through Legal Shield is already stepping up for me in an issue. 

Like I said earlier, if you have questions...I am not the guy to ask. Feel free to give my wife a holler. Her email is Tell her you are curious about that Legal thingy.

Monday, June 15, 2015

You got some 'splainin' to do!

Meet Madame Torment's Erin Elizadeth!

As many of you know, I am a big fan of the Portland tribute band scene. (So much so that I am writing a book about it.) I have caught shows at a number of venues. My love affair began a couple of years ago at a show at The Hawthorne Theater. Sadly, unless the band members are friends, this last Saturday night might have been the last time I will venture into that establishment. The bands were great...but you would not know that if you relied on the sound board operators (they should ALL be fired!).

Elsa Faith has some amazing vocal chops...find a sample and hear for yourself!

This was our first time seeing Madame Torment, and all original female band that really kick ass. They have a sound that is equal parts 80s metal and punk rock. They put on a great performance despite a CONSTANT feedback hum that drowned out a lot of sound. Also, turns out that Elsa Faith has some killer vocal chops. (We listened to them at home on Sunday and will be adding these girls to our "must see" band list.)

My new rock star crush, Camille Denny.
The drummer was frenetic and my wife gave me permission to have a rock star crush on her. (Don't worry, she still has me beat two drummers to one...Denise swoons over the drummer from Motorbreath, the Metallica tribute band, and thinks that the drummer from Poison'us has the most dreamy eyes in the world...see for yourself later.) A quality set was hamstrung by shoddy (I am being kind) sound board work.

Up next was Same Ol' Situation, a Motley Crue tribute band that we have seen before and really enjoyed. This set was delayed over 30 minutes while the crew tried to figure out what was keeping the light show from coming on. I do hope it was not the single cable that we could see dangling from the center piece of the lights mounted above the stage. In any case, they NEVER did figure it out. Even better, the sound system actually seemed to get WORSE.

That did not stop the band from busting their collective asses to try and put on a helluva show. Being in front, at least we could sort of hear the vocals. The feedback loop remained and added a steady low-frequency hum to the ENTIRE set in addition to the vocals being almost impossible to hear.

Me, "Vince" and my buddy Dwight in the background.
By the time Same Ol' Situation wrapped up the set, you could hear the rumblings in the crowd. People were wondering what the hell could be wrong. It had to be fixed by the time the final band took the stage. One of the stage hands was even heard saying that "the problem was fixed."

The closing act was Poison'us. We love these guys and have seen them several times. The entire band has been made better by the addition of Roger Jamie on bass as his energy is visibly contagious. (More on him in a bit.) Sadly, the problem was not fixed. Eventually, front man Will "Brett Michaels" Barnes had reached critical mass. He stopped the set; by this point, the hum was creating a tingle in my feet and now you could not hear the guitar of Eric Vanderwall (as C.C. DeVille). The feedback was actually getting worse. Add in the fact that the band could not hear themselves on their monitors, and it was beyond a problem at this point.

For those not in the know, bands need the monitors, which are speakers aimed their direction, to hear themselves in real time. Otherwise, they would be waiting for the sound to bounce off of the back wall and timing would vanish. No, that loud volume YOU hear is not the same source they use when they play. But, on with this review...

One of my wife's favorite performers...but he ain't flashing that usual smile. Why?
I got a message from Will Barnes the next day actually apologizing for his "outburst". I wish my "outbursts" were as calm as his was that night. Personally, I think it was tame as well as LONG overdue. Will and the band did like those before them and soldiered on as the crowd just continued to trickle out due to the ineptness of the sound crew at the Hawthorne. They had to improvise when Will's acoustic guitar was not patched in during "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", and yes, the hum remained.

A Poison'us glue.
Bass player Roger Jamie took on the role of anchor during this show. He gave the band something solid to hang on to as he kept his flamboyant energy at maximum throughout the entire performance. His jokes, witty remarks and banter with not only the audience, but his fellow band mates kept things from hitting the rocks. Every band should have a Roger Jamie. During his time with Poison'us, we have seen the band transform and become more incredible as his energy is contagious. This guy has a full plate as Gene Simmons in Dr. Love, the KISS tribute band here in Portland, as well as being a professional wrestler. 

To all three bands...we thank you for a show that you put on despite the poor sound and stage work by the crew at Hawthorne Theater. We will remain fans (as well as become fans in the case of Madame Torment). We will see you next time and the time after. To you, Will Barnes, it is not you who owed the is/was the people of the venue. We love you guys.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Reviews, wish lists and a bird on my head.

So, I have started a new thing. Many of you know that I start my day with a check on any new reviews. Well, that had morphed into something else; I started checking wish lists. I was thrilled to see my title on the wish list of a complete stranger. They loved one of my DEAD Box Sets, so I decided to gift them the one from their wish list. Hey, it just  seemed like a fun thing to do.

Since I am on the subject of reviews, I know a lot of you read my stuff. I enjoy your emails telling me what you think. Did you know that your  sharing those thoughts in the form of reviews make a difference to Amazon and their mysterious algorithms? It's true. And as always, I feel it is my duty to point out, I am not seeking just positive reviews. It is always okay to call me on my work and let me know you were not exactly thrilled. (As a side note, it is always nice to click on the "yes" button saying that other reviews were helpful.)

As another side note, rolling into the weekend, I am mulling about the idea of doing a Skype call giveaway. That would mean that YOU would get to sit down face-to-face with me via Skype or Google Plus and ask me all those questions you have been dying to ask. And, if you are so inclined, I might even read a section of DEAD: End to you as a sneak peek. Anybody interested?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Welcome to her nightmare.

Get yours HERE!
I was wondering what I would read next...and then my friend, Eli Constant told me that she just had a new book come out on Tuesday! Sweet. Now my problem for reading is solved...if only the rest of life's issues could be taken down so easily. (Oh,,,and in full admission, this post was supposed to be scheduled for TUESDAY, but I was a flake. Sorry, Eli!)

For those of you unaware of this talented young lady, she writes some killer horror. I first found her through the book DEAD TREES. (Think H.G. Wells and the morlocks, only they come to the surface and wipe out humanity.) Even cooler...she wrote this with her dad! So, stop what you are doing and grab this baby now. Lets shoot Eli to the top of the charts! And don't matter!

She has a new book out called Z Children. Okay...I'm hooked. That sounds creepier than Muppet Clowns.

Eli attended USC-L, Columbia College, Texas A&M, & George Mason University. She studied everything from Mariculture to Differential Equations. Settling on Biology, Eli participated in research fellowships in Texas and at NIH, worked a few random jobs, and finally settled into a Virginia lab where she focused on mastering diagnosis procedures and implementations of histology and pathology.
Choosing to be a dedicated homemaker after the birth of her first child, Eli rediscovered her passion for writing. She's never regretted the decision; not only are her kids the most amazing creatures, but writing fulfills her soul in a way science never did.
Eli is the author of Dead Trees, Dead Trees 2, Mastic, DRAG.N & Z Children: Awakening. She is a contributing author to Let’s Scare Cancer to Death, State of Horror: New Jersey, State of Horror: Illinois, & Fading Hope. Her books are available in eBook, paperback, & audio formats.

Stalk Eli on social media:

Twitter @Author_EliC

Ben has been teaching Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) continually since 1981 when he joined the USAF as a “Survival Instructor”. In that Thirty+ year period, he has taught all aspects of SERE, trained at both domestic and international schools, written SERE doctrine and instruction, researched  and developed cutting edge programs  for dealing with both the psychological and physical challenges of survival, tested new equipment, written numerous papers on equipment and SERE-related disorders, and taught thousands of classes. Ben’s research and program development is the basis for many of the national and international survival schools in operation today. He is a USAF Master SERE Instructor.

Members of the Rangers, Green Berets, Para-rescue, Combat Control, Navy SEALs, Air Force Crew Members and MARSOC have all been his students. Outside the military, he has taught people from the DEA, Local Law Enforcement, Department of Natural Resources, the FBI, and other Federal Agencies. With over 12 years in the disaster mitigation and security fields, his advice on the development of advanced survival systems is irreplaceable and his knowledge of the physical and psychological aspects of both manmade and natural disasters is unparalleled in the survival world.

Z Children: Awakening, written with Eli Constant, is Ben’s first official foray into fictional writing. His technical expertise has proven a valuable asset in the development of plausible situations, appropriate survival responses, and how the world would really operate at the ‘awakening’ of an apocalypse.

Check out Ben’s survival company:


Z Children: Awakening on Goodreads:

What are Z CHLIDREN?

Our kids are no longer our future… They’re our demise.

Humanity’s advancements in medicine, meant to eliminate disease and extend life, have led to a macabre reality of childhood vaccinations gone terribly wrong.

Kids have transformed, changed into ravenous beasts that are nightmarishly quick, disproportionally strong, and void of empathy.

No amount of planning or preparation could have saved the human race against this unexpected attack, centralized in the heart of every human home, and the U.S. is quickly thrown into a chaos of Z Children. By the end of the first day, the entire world is jolted into a veritable hell on earth.

Yet, there are survivors- individuals who, by luck, skill, or circumstance, lived through the initial wave of destruction. These ‘lucky’ ones will join together, bonded in their quest for survival. They will try to maintain their humanity in a world where children have graduated from bubble baths to blood baths.

And they will try to find an answer to the only question that matters now: What will tomorrow bring?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

You get to help choose a cover.

This July, I am releasing my novel, UnCivil War: A Modern Day race War in the United States. Not a single zombie was killed in the creation of this novel. Now, the temptation is to rush this out and reach the deadline I set for myself; however, I have learned that my beta readers are simply too valuable to skip past on such an important project. So, here I am, looking for a few of you to give this book  a read-through. Let me know what you think, point out any mistakes I missed during the edit phase, and then, have a review ready to post on release day.

I hope to have the ARC ready by the first of July-ish. Then, I can give you two weeks to give it the going over. So, I am hoping a few of you would be interested. My cut off is 20. And I will really need your reviews for this one to push it into the social awareness. However, if you are one of the Beta readers and you DO NOT LIKE the book...that is okay too. This is entertainment, you can't please everybody, and so it is okay to write a less-than-stellar review.

In addition, I would also love to see which of these covers you prefer. If you saw this on the shelf, which one would you be apt to give a look?

Have a great HUMP DAY!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Celebration of freedom.

Email me and I will reply with the MP3 recording of my old band.
Four years. (That is longer than any of my first three marriages lasted!) Today, June 8, 2011 was the day I came home. In my time away, I learned about appreciating things that I had long taken for granted. (Judging by my is high on that list, but I digress.) In that time, I have passed (apparently with exceptional marks) a polygraph that is given every 6 months, and placed on reduced supervision by the state because I have been such a "model" citizen (their designation, not just me blowing my horn).

Me sandwiched between proof that high school romances can last forever.
Add to that my long running sobriety, and I can say that I feel pretty good. However, for me, today is special because I have not only done all that has been asked of me by the state, but also managed to do well enough with my writing to take care of my wife. I told her when we first met that I would give her the world and everything in it. I am sure that smile was more about being polite than anything else. After all, men say a lot of crap. However, I have worked long days, 7-day work weeks with no breaks, all to get where I am now. And in doing that and not making excuses or crying about my situation, I have (thanks to my amazing readers) been able to provide my wife with her dream house, pay off her car (which was on the verge of being repo'd shortly after I came home), and build a life for her beyond her wildest dreams. (Again, those are her words.)

I thought I would I am hooked.
Toss in the fact that I have connected with my daughter, Ronni (born in December...and thus the "December" in my May December Publications label...contrary to the sick twists that ignorant people have tried to attach to the name of our publishing company). What else is left? I would only be greedy if I asked for anything more.

My sunshine...
Yet, every single month is a new adventure with rewards beyond my wildest dreams. I have not spoken on it much, but I am learning how to navigate my studio and will soon have my first full-length audio book narration credit. DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon. It has been a slow process, but it is simply a step in my evolution. 

The start of a new chapter...corporate sponsor!
Who knows what lies ahead...but whatever it is, I already consider myself lucky. I have a wonderful home, family, and friends. Add in the amazing readers who have helped make this happen, and it can be a bit overwhelming. Today, I will stand outside and look up at the moon just because I can. You would be surprised at how meaningful something so simple as that is when it was taken away for so long.