Books, Computers, Publishing, Technology, Uncategorized, Writing

How Dying Changed My Life

Me crop 2

On May 4, 1995 I died seven times. That’s what the surgical notes revealed. I might not know any of that except my health insurance required that I obtain the full transcript and forward it to them – so that they could later tell me what they considered unnecessary and therefore were not going to cover. But that’s another story for another blog.

Shortly after returning home to Connecticut from a trip to Florida to visit my parents, I came down with the symptoms of what I believed to be the flu. After running a high fever for an entire weekend, my wife insisted I see my doctor. Since I had been diagnosed with a heart murmur my primary care physician was a cardiologist. After doing some blood work I was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a both a strep and a staph infection in my blood. It was the beginning of a month long ordeal.

The blood borne infection pretty much destroyed my mitral valve requiring open heart surgery to replace it and repair a fistula – a hole inside my heart between the ventricles. The procedure took seventeen hours to complete and, as previously stated, I died seven times before finally being revived.

As an aside, if you can prevent the need for open heart surgery by exercise and eating properly, do so. It’s no fun waking up in a recovery room with cotton mouth from being on with the distinct sensation of a four-ton boulder resting on your lungs.

I survived, of course. It sucked spending my 39th birthday in a cardiac care ward but it was preferable to how things  turned out otherwise, had my wife not insisted I go to the doctor.

What changed in my life from before to after the surgery was my general outlook on life. I was a workaholic retail manager, pretty much married to my job. Prior to the illness I believed I was on the fast track to being promoted to general store manager and all the time I spent away form my family was more than justified because of how much I was being compensated in stock options and such. I was going to wealthy, after all. After a month in the hospital and three months of recovery, my status at work changed – though not officially.

I was still a salaried manager. While I was on medical leave I was compensated with regular checks, same as if I was working. Despite having to fight with my health insurance to cover my hospitalization and treatment, all but $7000 of the nearly $130,000 in bills was eventually paid. It could have been a lot worse. But, even after returning to work without any medical restrictions, every time someone from upper management came to visit my store, the first thing they asked me about was my health. Over time, it became clear they were never going to promote me into a higher stress position. And I’m certain they thought they had my best interests at heart.

Still, there were other changes as well, mostly with my relationships with my kids who I had all but ignored for the eight years I had been working as a retail manager. I valued my time at home and spent it with my son and two daughters. However, something else happened while I was sick. I had vivid dreams that lingered well after my recovery.

Although I had been playing at writing for some time – one and off since junior high school, really – I had never taken it all that seriously. I suppose that in the back of my mind I thought about publishing a book one day. I’d finished a manuscript at one point during college and considered submitting it to publishers. I’m glad I didn’t because it really sucked. At the time I thought it was an achievement, though. And maybe it was in a sense. I mean, after that I knew I could write something of considerable length and complexity. Afterwards, while I was military, I served as unit historian and wrote and published an award winning 400+ page unit history. So, I knew I had it in me to publish things. It was just I’d never done anything with my fiction stories.

I submitted a few things of a technical nature to computer technology periodicals. Some things were posted online. I had become a self-taught computer technician and some people sought my advice on things.

Before the illness I had begun digitizing the material I had composed on typewritten pages. I continued doing that while recovering from the surgery. So I had a few hundred pages of stuff formatted so that I could edit and revise with my computer serving as a word processor. But even after I returned to work I set aside at least three or four hours a day for writing and/or revising. In the process those fever generated vivid dreams I had carried around in my head since the illness began to erupt onto the virtual pages of  my computer screen.

Those hours were stolen from my wife, of course. Nightly she would ask me when I was coming to bed. She never understood the obsession that I’d developed and eventually it ended our relationship.

I can’t say whether I’d been a writer had I never fallen ill in the Spring of 1995. I have had the writing bug for most of my life. But I doubt I would have ever finished One Over X, my first novel. You see, I was comfortable with a practical life founded on going to work every day. I made enough money that it was easy to forego pursuing any dreams left over from my youth. I never envisioned how much my life could change, or that I would eventually become a author.

Books, Editing, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

Ironing Out the Wrinkles in a Plot

In some ways publishing Fried Windows in May of last year created a few paradoxes for the main character Brent. WARNING: If you haven’t read the book, you might want to before continuing on. I’m about to reveal some things about the plot.

There are some relationships Brent and characters in my other novels, particularly Andy Hunter, Terry Harper, Lee Anders Johnston and Caroline Henderson from One Over X (two of six books published) and The Power of X (as yet unpublished). There is also a loose connection between the mother  in Becoming Thuperman and Terry Harper – as they attended high school together. Brent meets Terry Harper while he attends Purdue University where the latter is pursuing aa doctorate in applied physics and eventually becomes a professor before taking a tenured position at the University of Texas.

Brent and Lee Anders Johnston hale from neighboring towns in rural Ohio. Both were musicians in their teen years. Brent actually played bass for a brief while in a band that Lee led. Lee was best friends with the lead guitar from Brent’s garage band – which is how they met. Ironically, as they were both the sons of farmers, their fathers knew one another, though not very well.

After the disintegration of Brent’s garage band over an issue about performing a Rock Opera Brent wrote for his senior English project – a piece on Beowulf – Brent and Lee perform an acoustic set at the Christmas party of a friend of Brent. It is the last time Brent and Lee perform together for nearly twenty years, though the two of them conspired during their connection to compose a few songs that will end up reuniting them in later years – and reinvigorating Lee’s career as a professional musician.

Lee departs Rock as his vehicle of musical  expression and begins playing Blues with a couple of musicians while he attends Purdue University – where he studies Engineering and meets Terry Harper, his professor of physics. In Lee’s Junior year at Purdue his folks sell their farm in Ohio and retire to Texas. Lee transfers to the University of Texas. The following year, Terry Harper is offered a tenured position at UT, based on his recently published best seller on astral physics the university. And, so Lee and Terry reconnect at UT and the Lee changes his major to physics.

While in Austin and immersed in the vibrant artistic community, Lee joins a country band called Faction. At a bar in Austin he meets Caroline Henderson, the daughter of Joseph Henderson, CEO of HENCO. They share a few dates before establishing a relationship.

When Lee is offered a research job in Colorado, three of the original members of the band follow him there. They form the nucleus of a new Faction that lands a recording contract. Lee and Caroline have a long distance relationship until she completes college.

To pursue his musical career,  Lee quits his job and accompanies the band to Memphis where they record their first album.  Then, against her father’s protests, Caroline joins Lee and goes on tour with Faction, actually performing with the band as a background singer.

So, where is Andy Hunter is all this? Anyone who has read One Over X, knows that both Andy and Lee have a relationship in another version of reality, where both work for Henco. Lee works at a product assembly facility while Andy is a coder for the instructions loaded into the devices the company makes. The company’s CEO is Caroline Henderson who took up the reins when her father, Joseph Henderson passed away – never knowing she is to the Andy who was born of an unwed mother who used to work for the Hendersons.

In the other world, the one where Caroline and Andy grew up as siblings, Andy studies applied physics at UT Austin and becomes enamored with Dr. Harper to the point that he begins writing a boot about him. In the process he attempts to create a device based on Harper’s hypotheses that can cancel out the effects of the electromagnetic fields of the Earth – theoretically opening portals to every other dimension.

The powers that be – as in the Universal Powers That Be – are not amused with Andy’s devise of how it throws a significant distortion into the over all matrix of fabricated reality – the shell they created as the distracting illusion of life. With it Andy can, pretty much, go wherever he wants – as long at he knows his destination. Therein lies the rub.  Andy knows that the device can do but doesn’t understand it’s potential. And in the process of exploring it he becomes genetically altered to be more like an extraterrestrial ancestor of humanity than a man.

Brent is a transplanted straddler, born into the world to correct the problems Andy will eventually cause. He gets sidetracked with his own issues and adventures but, moreover, he is intended to defeat Andy’s modification to the design. Brent is naturally drawn toward the people he needs to connect with in order to fix things. Yet he is uncooperative in dealing directly with any of his new found friends.  As a result, Andy changes many things both for Earth and Anter’x, a directly connect world – via wormholes – on the other side of the galaxy. There the wolfcats thrive – for a while anyway, along with a primordial ancestor of humanity called the Hovdin and a race called Sabatin that enslaved the Hovdin for a time.

In The Attributes, a two book set that I wrote a while back, all the timelines and plot lines are resolved. Imagine that! Me crop 2


Books, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

Where Is Alabaster Cove?


Somewhere between the coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean in northern California there is a mythical town called Alabaster Cove. At least, I think that’s where to begin looking for it. You see, on top of everything else I have problems with, reality being one of them, there are random people I know who like making up stuff. In other words, my world is largely populated with writers.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a writer – unless you ask someone who actually lives with one. I’m sure my ex has a pretty long list of things she never really liked about living with me. Anyway, one of the writers I know fairly well conjured Alabaster Cove into existence. I’m not sure where it came from. Maybe it was an inspiration caught between imagination and a dream. You know the place, somewhere under the rainbow – or should that be over? Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the place actually does exist even if only in Deek Rhew’s mind.


Deek is part of a dynamic duo of fiction writing. Erin Rhew, his wife, is an accomplished sci-fi/fantasy writer. Deek does mystery/detective stuff. Together they constitute what Kurt Vonnegut Jr. referred to as a Nation of Two. They were born to be together. All they had to do was find one another and suddenly their lives made sense. And everyone else who knows them cannot think of one without the other. They are that inseparable. That, by the way, trumps what I was saying about living with writers. When both people in a relationship write for a living the result can be magical. Not sure if they plan to collaborate on anything – a sci-fi who dun it? Well, I’d buy it. For the present she proof reads his stuff and vice versa. Each is the other’s biggest fan.


They live somewhere about in Oregon. It rains there a lot. Since I know a lot of prolific writers who live in the Pacific Northwest, maybe the weather has a bit to do with why they write so much. Maybe I should live there instead of sunny (mostly, anyway) Florida. It would be an experience waking up in a world where I would be surrounded with writers, each of us trying to one up the other with a quick turn of a phrase. Come to think of it, maybe that wouldn’t be such a good thing after all.

Birth of an American Gigolo_Deek Rhew_Cover

Deek’s latest effort is a novella titled Birth of an American Gigolo. Disclaimer: it’s not an autobiography. The novella is set in the aforementioned Alabaster Cove. It is also a place mentioned in Deek’s upcoming novel, 122 Rules. So, if you aim to become totally immersed in the fantasy of Deek’s fiction, and want to get to know the people who populate the mythical town of Alabaster Cove, Birth of an American Gigolo is the jumping off point. Please make sure your life vest is fastened securely before doing so. Deek is pretty good at telling stories that drag you inside and hold you captive for however long it takes you to read them.



Review of Rose Montague’s Norma Jean’s School of Witchery: Book 2 Ghost School


First, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way. Rose and I have a professional relationship as fantasy authors. We read and critique one another’s work and do it honestly, I believe. I enjoy her writing so much that I support her art by purchasing her books. I’m pretty certain that someday she will be well known in the field and I may actually resort to name dropping.

A few months back when Rose Montague began to tease publically about a new Norma Jean’s School of Witchery book, I was elated. I enjoyed reading book 1. How could I not? There’s a namesake character in it. Imagine that! So, because she made an announcement about book 2, I knew the next book in the series was being edited for publication.

I always enjoy reading Rose’s books because in her fictitious universe damned near anything is possible. Also, I’m not sure there is any issue she will shy away from in her writing. As a result, her characters feel pretty realistic. Despite the genre and the fact that most characters have some pretty outstanding abilities to change the world to suit them, they have situations, problems with relationships and they need a little help from their friends from time to time to resolve things. So, as I began reading this one I was wondering what new wrinkles Rose might introduce. And after reading Ghost School, Book 2 of the series, I am not disappointed. There is a good deal of unexpected in this book.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention there are zombies. Lots of them. And, true to form, Rose’s zombies aren’t exactly your run-of-the-mill sort. Jewel, our returning heroine from Book 1, confronts several other challenges only one of which is figuring out what to do with a town or two filled with zombies and an evil, megalomaniacal necromancer who not only conjures them from the grave but also has stolen a piece of serious, super-secret military technology that is designed to amplify magical powers to a quantum level. Oh great! A bad witch on steroids! You get the picture.

There are other returning favorites from book 1 of the series and Jewel needs their help in dealing with the bad guy. Meanwhile, we learn all sorts of amazing new things about Jewel as she explores and defines her magical powers. Hint, she’s not just a pyro, folks.

The ending is surprising but necessary for what I think lies ahead and I can’t wait to read it. Also, there is apparently another spin-off in the works. Imagine that! Three series set in one highly imaginative universe. Gives me goosebumps.

If you’re reading this, stop after the next sentence. Read Book 1 first! Oops, you’re still reading, aren’t you? Well, you should never consider reading book 2 of a series before book 1. I mean, who does that?  So, first go get book 1. And, although this series isn’t written to depend much on Rose’s other series, its characters appear in this one from time to time. So, you may as well hop on over and start reading Jade and Jane, Rose’s two other published books about Jewel’s family members. There is a third book on its way in that series as well, so be on the lookout.

If you are new to Rose Montague’s work, she’s a gifted storyteller with a vivid and sometimes wild imagination. Her work sparkles with the magic she binds to the pages with spells that only she knows how to create. She has a great feel for characters and setting up challenges that leaves readers wondering how in the hell do you overcome that? Her target audience is Young Adult. She is unabashedly a writer as well as an avid reader of the genre. If you look, you’ll see her reviewing the works of other YA writers. Although I’m no longer technically in that chronological mix, I’m still hanging in spirit. The trick is to never grow up, right? I know I never will. Just ask my kids. Anyway, I enjoy a good YA book every now and then, and Rose never disappoints.

I give this a strong 5 for imagination, content and storytelling but a 4 for editing. In one place the POV shifts from Jewel to another character named Louise. A chapter break segregates it, so just be aware that toward the middle of the book that is coming. The shift is necessary and it does portend to some future things. There are a few missed typos. C’mon, every book has some, right? My overall rating is still 5.


Feeding The Need

FINAL Final Fried Windows Front Cover Only

Those of us who write understand the gnawing of an idea that enters our consciousness through a dream or, perhaps, a simple crazy, disjointed, random thought that occurs during any given day. Eventually, it can lead to a story. That story may be several pages, a novel or several novels. But that is pretty-much how the process begins. And it isn’t like you can ignore the impulse to write. If you try, it will make you ill or turn you into an alcoholic. There is no other option but to write until having writ you can move on – usually to the next warped idea that comes to mind.

As a published author one of the frequently asked questions is: ‘When did you first know that what you were writing was a novel.” I have to qualify some things before I answer that, with regard to my present novel in release, Fried Windows (In a Light White Sauce). Unlike the other thirty-some-odd manuscripts I have archived somewhere or the other, FW started out to be a collection of short stories. Those stories had recurring characters and the world – or rather universe – was shared. But when I wrote FW in draft it was sixteen separate short stories. At some point, fairly close to when I decided to submit it to Pandamoon Publishing, I decided to stitch it together as a novel. After that effort there were a couple of other chapters feathered into the story, just so that it made some sense and had flow as well as a story arc. Even so, I submitted what are the first two chapters to an online magazine. Independently a friend edited them, gratis – which was all I could afford. I loved her suggestions and went with most of them. The result: I submitted the two chapters as a single short story, fully expecting it to become my launch pad, a series submitted as installments to the magazine. At some point I would assemble the whole into a collection. That was my idea, anyway.

I was pretty much homeless at the time, and would have lived on the streets if not for the accommodations and largess of my brother-in-law and oldest sister. I did odd jobs for him as a way of paying my keep. But mainly I wrote and made great progress on a lot of that manuscripts I had never had the time to deal with while working 55+ hours a week as a retail manager.

I was not in a good place after what most have termed a mental meltdown. Of course, I don’t see it that way. Leaving my last previous job made all the sense in the world because. I honestly believe, I’d be dead by now had I not done so. After living in my brother-in-law’s house for nearly a year he delivered an ultimatum about my writing: sell something, or find a real job – as in anything that pays a weekly wage.

He and I have very different perspectives on money.

He has always believed I was my father’s prodigal son. I have always understood that money is as worthless as the paper it is printed on – a more durable sort of toilet paper, actually, especially so if  the majority of people ever bother to consult Webster’s as to the definition of fiduciary – which defines our monetary system. My sister got in the middle of all that. Of course, she loves me as her baby brother. But the reality of my situation put a lot of stress on her, and I appreciated that. I was divorced. My ex-wife pretty much sapped all my savings away in the process of paying debts for an ill-fated business venture. We filed for bankruptcy just before we divorced.

I’m not blaming her for everything here. There were more than enough errors to go around. But had I done what I wanted to do instead of listening to her, I think things might have turned out better. But, then, really, who knows?

What I am certain of is that my kids were better off for having experienced the negative side of happens to an otherwise apparently successful, affluent married couple. We had the $300k home in Connecticut. Paid cash for it. We had cars we owned outright as well. My company was making money and selling my stock options afforded me a lifestyle I had not yet earned. Our kids were attending the best school system in the state. But, within the course of a year and a half, it all unraveled. The tragedy took a few more years to fully play-out, but that when the decline started,around the time I was hospitalized for endocarditis.

I had open heart surgery in May of 1995 to repair a failing mitral valve. As I was recovering I was following O. J. Simpson’s trial on TV. I died seven times during the surgery. I would have never known that had I not needed to fax the transcripts of the surgery to the insurance carrier. They were disputing everything, of course. From my side of the experience, I had a couple of very long and persistent bizarre dreams during that experience. And those are also incorporated into The Wolfcat Chronicles, a series I have under contract with Pandamoon Publishing.

I toyed with writing for most of my life. I wrote a manuscript called Tarot while I was in college. Some of that lead directly to The Wolfcat Chronicles. I really and honestly believed Tarot would be published. I retyped it – you had to use typewriter back then – and allowed someone, a friend I respected, to read it. I expected her to tell me, “I love it send it away to a publisher now!” What she told me was a bit more sobering. “This is really a great rough draft. What you need to do is find a good editor.”

Dream shaken but not shattered. I still have that manuscript in a box somewhere about. I have consulted it several times over the years whenever I was beset with excessive hubris. It grounds me. Think of it as the portrait of Dorian Gray that is kept in the attic.

I went on a hiatus from writing fiction while I served it the USAF as a crypto-linguist and unit historian. In that secondary role I composed a 400+ page document that is, technically, my first published work. The distribution was exclusive to those with Top Secret SCI clearances. Maybe four or five people every looked at it. It won an award though. So, at some point, I assume someone must have read it. As odd as it might seem for a fiction writer, that was the impetus for me to pursue my other stories.  All of it came into resolute focus when I was recovering for the surgery. I needed to do something as a legacy for my children if not for myself.

It’s been a long and often frustrating journey spanning twenty years to this point. Fried Windows completes one part of my life and begets another, the life of a published author. Imagine that!



To All The Other Ideas Popping Into My head


One problem I have, which may not be much of a problem but a problem nevertheless, is that while I revise one book I have ideas for other books. Generally I spend some time jotting down the random thoughts and eventually pursue them. But occasionally, they never turn into anything more than an idea of strange origin. Still, it leads to wonder whether the ideas might have turned out better had I pursued them with vigor immediately upon having them. You know how ideas fade into the background like the vapors from a dream that seemed so nice at the time.

When you’re a writer you gotta be selective about the ideas you allow to draw your attention, though. At least that’s true for me. I have some pretty bizarre thoughts at times – just ask anyone who knows me. That come’s with the territory, I guess. Writers are notorious for not being normal. I believe every true writer is absolutely fine with that. After all, who wants to be normal?

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As an example of how my writer’s mind works:  this morning I was out walking Rocco, my son’s American Bulldog. A car drove by going a good bit over the speed limit and swerving to avoid cars parked the street, As it was Sunday morning I wondered why the guy was driving so recklessly?

Late for Church? I’m inclined to think that unless you’re a member of the choir or a minister, deacon or something, you would not be rushing for that reason. Churches are places of forgiveness, aren’t they? I’m pretty sure oversleeping would fall into one of the things to be forgiven.

Going to the store? Who i in a hurry to do that – at least from a guy’s perspective? Really – unless it’s a special sale like on Black Friday, or something, when all the crazies are out and about looking for that $100 big screen TV or the $200 laptop computer, a guy would not be driving like that.

Late for work? Yeah, that might be it. Costing money and perhaps a job if he shows up late for work just one more time… I could see that.

Some other unexpected emergency, perhaps. Someone is sick, in the hospital or maybe his best friend is in jail and he needs to post bail.

Who knows? But how many stories could come from those thoughts?

That’s how a writer’s mind works. But in addition to those thoughts here’s how my mind worked this morning:

He’s hell on wheels – which reminded me of a Paul McCartney and Wings song that’s kind of a play on that Helen Wheels. As the chorus of the song replayed through my mind for a few bars it reminded me of a girl I knew back in high school, though she didn’t attend my high school. Her name was Helen.

Helen was actually from Troy, which a city in Ohio. She was a friend of a girl I dated for a while in my junior year who lived in  Tipp City, a town fairly close to Troy. Both of those towns were over an hour from where I lived, by the way, and how I met them…well I’ll get to some of that later.


Anyway, I used to call Helen from Troy, Helen of Troy, as in the face that launched a thousand ships. Read Homer’s Iliad if you don’t know that story. Her father was named Homer, which I thought was hilarious when I learned that, not to mention that her mother actually named her for Helen of Troy and her sister was Cassandra. For those who have never read about the war between Troy and Greece over the abduction of Helen, with whom Paris, Prince of Troy, fell in love… Well, Cassandra was Paris’ sister who was psychic and foresaw the Greeks sacking Troy. What could one expect when the beautiful wife of a Greek King is stolen away? I’m not sure how much psychic ability that really took.

So, I’ll bet you’re thinking, what was the name of the mother of Helen and Cassandra? Something like Athena might have made sense and it would make for a better story than the truth. She has a plain old name, Anne. Her friends called her Annie, like Little Orphan Annie. Seriously, that’s how she introduced herself. Now, if I were writing a story about her family I’d make her name something like Minerva, just to make things more interesting. Yeah, I know she was a Roman goddess, but still, I like the name.

After my mind processed all that in about the span of two heartbeats – three tops – I was still considering the reckless driver who, by then, had rounded the corner and driven well out of sight. Rocco, having sniffed out a fine enough place for doing his business, downloaded on a neighbor’s front lawn and, as our neighborhood has a strict rule about cleaning up after dogs, I extracted a plastic bag dispensed from a roll attached to the back of the recoiling dog leash, and used it to pick up the pooch’s poop.

We continued our morning jaunt, Rocco and I, though I was still thinking about Helen of Troy, the girl I knew during high school – not the one in the Iliad – and of course that started me thinking about her friend, the one I dated for a while who lived in Tipp City. Her name was Angela. I guess one of the things guys do – and maybe gals as well – is think about the ones that got away (or perhaps ran away).  She was a cheerleader, of course. That was how I met her and having met her I ended up meeting her friend, Helen.



My school was at a weekend wrestling tournament, the Indian Lake Invitational. Angela caught my eye and, quite unlike me, I ended up introducing myself. She was not impressed or even remotely interested, which was fine. I was used to receiving similar reactions from every girl who caught my eye and I bothered to talk to . But over the course of the weekend tournament, we continued bumping into one another, literally at times. It was sort of funny after the fourth or fifth time and to her mind it could not be coincidence. She accused me of following her around. Not that there wouldn’t have been good reason or that, but I swear I wasn’t. However, I countered, accusing her of stalking me. She laughed. “Why would I do that?”

“You tell me.”

Nothing further happened but about a month later, our teams were at another tournament and I saw her in passing. “So, where have you been?” I asked her.


“You do that well.”

“Until now.”

“Yeah, so what brought you out of hiding?”

“I don’t know. I guess I needed to do the cheerleading thing again.”

“Funny how that happens, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, pretty much every week.”

We talked a few times that weekend and learned that we had next to nothing in common. Regardless of that, she told me she was going to be in Springfield the following week for a meet against one of the local schools. I told her if I could make it there after practice I’d come to the meet.

I made it to the meet. We talked some more. We exchanged phone numbers and, as a result, dated for a while. Thankfully gasoline was a lot less expensive back then. Even so, my parents complained, asking me why I couldn’t date someone who lived closer. I don’t know, it just seems like sometimes you aren;t attracted to local girls, you know?

By the time all of that had played out in my mind, Rocco and I had rounded the block and, for whatever reason, he decided he needed to run, jerking the leash from my hand in the process. He doesn’t run away, just playfully goes around circles, teasing me to pursue him. Still, it aggravated me enough that I refused to give him his usual treat this morning. He’s sort of mad at me now.

As for the story about Helen of Troy and Angela, I wrote a book that is loosely based on some of that. I’ll get around to revising that one sooner or later. Until then, I’m sure I’ll have a gazillion other random ideas, some of which I may jot down. My current focus is still Book 10 of The Wolfcat Chronicles. I’m on Chapter 22 of the revision.

#TheWolfcatChronicles #writing #ideas #BeingAWriter #Author







On A Personal Note

Photo on 3-8-14 at 12.07 PM

It’s been a while since I devoted a blog post to what’s going on in my personal life. There’s a reason for that. Mostly, it’s no one’s business. Also my personal life tends to be boring from other people’s perspective, I think. I’m okay with that. It’s my life, not yours. Anyway, pretty much, I work. Whether it’s related to my writing, being a publicist or working in a retail store, it is what I doddering my waking hours. Working retail is and has always been from the outset a temporary thing for me, though. Although I like interacting with the public and find it a great change of pace when compared to the solitude of writing, foremost, I am an author.

Since late September I have been staying with my son. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will recall that in pursuit of my writing career I adopted an austere lifestyle and have been fairly nomadic, at least within the state of Florida. I have stayed with relatives, mostly, though I did rent a room for a while with strangers who became friends. I’m okay with living this way, but again, it’s a temporary thing as my personal life passes through this period of transition.

The goal is to be a full time writer, not necessarily to become wealthy but it is necessary to become at least moderately famous in the process of selling books. I’ve been using my experience and expertise in marketing and business to assist other authors with publicity. I’m compensated for my efforts. Though it is certainly not enough to pay my bills, it contributes to the cause.


My usual day goes like this:

Wake up between 3AM and 5AM, depending on when I went to bed and what is on the new day’s agenda. I don’t often use an alarm as I am accustomed to waking early.

Search the Internet for news stories of interest. Post a few things on social media that may or may not be book related. Depending on the day of the week I may post to my blog as I am doing now, or post things to my publisher’s social media relating to the goings on in the author’s public lives.

Around 7 to 7:30AM have breakfast. Usually I eat cereal. It depends on what cereal was on ad recent as to which brand and what kind I eat. I like Honey Nut Cheerios and Raisin Bran but I have been known to eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Bunches of Oats (various Flavors), Total (especially the raisin bran variety), Special K (nearly all flavors, Life, Oatmeal (various flavors). Usually I eat yogurt as well. I prefer blueberry and cherry Greek yogurt. Again the brand depends on what is on ad. I am not brand loyal as a rule. When I have them, I’ll also eat a couple of Halo Mandarin oranges.

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After breakfast I take my son’s dog, Rocco, for a walk. When I return I take a bike ride. Often this also coincides with going to the grocery store if I need to pick up something like almond milk, more yogurt, cereal, etc. When I return I write, revise or edit until around 2PM. Then it’s time to take Rocco for another walk. He reminds me of the time, trust me on that. Sometimes we go to the dog park, depending on the weather.

When we return from the afternoon walk, Rocco usually keeps me company while I resume writing, revising or editing. Around 5PM or so I feed him. He is always pushing for that from around 4PM on. He also whines for a treat from time to time. After he eats he returns to my room which is located in the front of the house where he maintains a vigil over the window watching for my son to return home. If my son runs late Rocco may take a nap on the floor in my room.

If I’m scheduled to work I set out on my bike about a hour or so before I am scheduled. It takes between 30 and 40 minutes to arrive, depending on headwinds. As I mentioned in a previous blog, riding a bike is always into he wind because the act of riding generate a headwind equal to the speed one travels. However, it seems that there is always a stronger headwind that I have to pedal into and it usually happens not he stretches of road that are slightly up-grade. Not sure how that works.

My work shifts vary. Sometimes I work in the morning but as my store has more business at night, usually I’m schedule in the afternoon or evening. On those days I arrange my other responsibilities and writing around work. If I’m not working I eat an evening meal. If I work, I eat whenever I get home.

I don’t watch TV per se. We don’t have Cable TV where I live but we have the Internet, of course. Otherwise, it would be difficult for me to post things, now wouldn’t it? I do follow a couple of TV shows via Hulu and sometimes watch other shows or movies with my son. Otherwise, I’m not a fan of TV. My set broke in 2007 and I never replaced it – and never really missed it.

News programming I avoid. I get my news from the Internet, various sources and I attempt to achieve some balance with those. So, I dare say I know what is going on in the world and perhaps have a better than average grasp on current events when compared with those  who watch network or watch one cable news channel. I have found that taking my news this way gives me the ability to select multiple points of view on news stories of interest to me. I also feel less stress in my life as I am not as subject to the biases of news organizations and their slanting of the news to incite public reaction.

If you think that doesn’t happen, stop watching news for a while – say a year or so. Read the news from he Internet. And then watch news channels elected at random along with network news. You will see each channels particular bias and also be very aware of the real story because, having read different sources for the same story, you have a more balanced and sometimes international perspective on events.

I write something everyday, regardless of what it is or how long. That is an absolute necessity for a writer. Also, I read a lot. There is a variety of course, from current events, social media posts, non-fiction (usually history or science) and fiction (whatever other author’s work I am reading at the time). I don’t have a lot of spare time and so I’m rarely bored. I chat with my publicist, Christine, from time to time, usually everyday. I also follow a couple of writers’ posts to the FanStory website.

I haven’t owned a car since 2010. I ride a bike nearly everywhere I go unless it is out of my immediate area (five mile radius of where I live) and then I arrange something with my son. I stay in touch with my daughters via text messages, private messages via Facebook and occasional phone calls. I also text or PM with my sister from time to time. At irregular intervals via Facebook I catch up with a few friends from school with whom I’ve reconnected and some fellow authors. I meet new people frequently whether in person or online. For an author that comes with the profession. I always enjoy hearing from people who have read my stories. It is important feedback because otherwise I’m not sure how well I write.

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#writing #author #lifestyle #routine



Revising The Wolfcat Chronicles

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Revising any writing is a challenge. You recall the story as it played out in your head while composing it and, somehow, it’s never quite the same experience when you read it months of even years later. And then there is the book that grew into a series of books that has been reworked and re-written several times over the course of the past nearly decade and a half.

The part of the series I’m working on is the first bit of the story I composed in the summer of 2000. The essence is still in tact, just bits of this and that were added in over the intervening years to enhance the story and make it connect with the larger story. You see, the first draft of this was about the characters wolfcats Ela’na, Rotor and a human named Tomas. 

As the story grew there were many characters added, their roles essential to the unfolding epic of a forbidden romance, being separated by distance and circumstance while events with long lasting significance to everyone else is going on in the background. Elana and Rotor are thrust to the forefront as all the characters are drawn into the story’s climactic events.

Although Tomas is introduced early on in Book 3 of the series (which was actually the first part of the story that was written) his significance in to the overall story happens much later on. The challenge is to keep the character in the back of the reader’s mind until his active participation is required. In an effort to assist that process I moved a bit (roughly four pages) of Book 4 into Book 3. Also there are some references to him here and there.

The early part of Book 3 is mainly about Rotor and a little about Ela’na and toward the end of the book the emphasis shifts to being mainly about Ela’na. In the process we meet some other characters of later importance like Copter, Nanami, Jesse, Hildi, Tazmal, Master E and Magus – who we met  in the first two books of the series. We also learn a bit of history about the world of Anter’x and the hierarchy of immortals.

Tweaking the story is about all I’m doing at this point. Some structural decisions such a relocating bits of the story to fascinate the flow and pacing are also being considered. The plot is already well defined from previous revisions. So what I’m doing is looking for redundancies and information that may not be relevant to the reader – things that as a writer were helpful for composing broad, complicated series of novels but unnecessary for the actual telling.

When I began writing I had a rough idea of where things were going and an basic outline. I also had a map of the important places in the world and a list of characters and their relationships. I cranked out the basic story that now spans five books in the middle of the series in about 13 weeks. The way that story ends demanded the loose ends be addressed. And so I wrote the next two books. The two book prequel came next with the final book following that. Perhaps that’s not the best way to write a series, but as it was an ambitious effort for which I had next to no experience, it worked out pretty well.

I’ve been through portions of these books dozens of times. Concurrently I wrote other stories, including a conclusion to One Over X (that has never been published), The Attributes (available for Kindle), Fried Windows (Publishing back in May), Becoming Thuperman )My next book due out in early 2015) and a dozen of so other stories some of which I have turned into manuscripts.

I expect to complete the revision on Book 3 sometime in the next week and move on to Book 4. I and hoping to complete revisions up to Book 8 by the end of the year but we’ll see how that goes along with deadlines for edits of Becoming Thuperman.

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#TheWolfcatChronicles #Writing #Revising #author #publishing


Overcoming Things – Being A Slow Reader

Have you ever responded to one of those social media challenges to tell some obscure fact  about you or answer the question, I wish I could go back to when I was younger and tell myself… I have a response that straddles both criteria. I have dyslexia and if I could go back to when I was a bashful, stammering five-year-old I’d let me know that it’s okay.

There’s an advantage to perceiving things in ways others don’t, can’t or won’t. It’s just my mind is wired differently and because of that I think outside of the box – really I live outside of the box. I won’t often fit in, but again that’s fine because, in the words of the great Groucho Marx, I’ve never wanted to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.


Here’s the deal. I have a disability. If most people were honest they would admit to having a disability too. Sometimes I wonder if everyone doesn’t have something going on and perhaps the disabilities, challenges of whatever you want to term them are really gifts in a way. You see, being different and accepting who and what you are liberates you from ever having to conform to being like everyone else in their miserable lots.

My dyslexia went undiagnosed largely because of the rural area where I grew up. Maybe it wasn’t a well-known disability back in the late 50’s and early 60’s – when I was a little kid. Because of it I struggled with reading in the conventional way it was taught. In fact reading in class when I was first grader was a painful experience in public ridicule as I stammered and stalled trying to make it to the end of a sentence  – let along a paragraph. With no positive reinforcement I considered reading torment and prayed the teacher would not call on me to read aloud. To this day, over fifty years later, I struggle when called upon to read aloud.


You might think it funny or ironic that a published author suffered from what is now considered a learning disability, albeit it a mild one if identified early on. When I tell people I hated reading it surprises them because, after all, authors write books and promote literacy and all that. The key is I hated reading, not that I hate it now.

What turned the tables for me was a second grade teacher who chose to read a story to the class. In anticipation of Christmas she read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. And over the course of her daily reads to the class I got it. I understood the magic contained in words. A story well told can conjure images in the mind and, if hearing read words can do that so can learning to read them myself. I was determined to learn how to read even if I couldn’t do it the way they were teaching me in school.

I figured I needed to learn words at a glance. That would speed up the process of reading them if I didn’t have to sound them out. So, in effect, I taught myself how to read silently – meaning i didn’t sound out the world in my head. The benefit of immediately recognizing and knowing the meaning of a word without sounding it out was that I could read considerably faster than my peers who were using a traditional approach. Still, I struggled whenever called upon to read aloud in class. Over time, from memorizing words, I got better at making the connection between my eyes and mouth but it took years and, as i have said already, I still struggle with it.


By the time I reached the 6th grade I could read at a rate of 400 words per minute. I know that because my sixth grade teacher called me out, thinking that anyone who struggled as much as I did with reading aloud – and was officially branded a slow reader – could not possibly be on the same reading level as the best reader in the class on the self paced Science Reacher Associates modules. In fact I was actually a little ahead of her.

My integrity was questioned and my mother got directly in the middle between my teacher and the principal, the latter administering a simple test. He gave me an adult reading level novel, one that he had read, and started me out on a random page and told me to read for one minute. After turning several pages the time limit expired. He asked me what I’d just read. Although there were a few words I didn’t know, I got the gist of the story well enough that he was convinced I read it. Then he asked me what page I was on at the end. He made a simple word per page calculation and arrived at the conclusion that I was reading at 400 to 450 words per minute.

Despite overcoming the disability I still really didn’t enjoy reading, not until high school. By then I had discovered science fiction and fantasy and had begun to have favorite authors whose every book I read.


It was in college that I became an avid reader, out of necessity as I challenged myself to take literature courses. One year I read over 400 books, not counting the text books for my other classes.

I don’t think I have ever felt like I am a strong reader but learning to read was essential to my growth as a person and my adventure in becoming a writer. Sometime you have to take your problems as challenges and figure out how to become the master of your situation.

#Reading #Dyslexia #Disability #Overcoming #Writing #Author #GrouchoMarx


The Wolfcat Chronicles – An Update

And so it goes…the revision that is. I’ve been crunching through the manuscript adding here deleting there – mainly deleting, actually. I’m on Chapter 26 of 32. I might finish the revision today.

Early this morning I made a decision that, though hardly irreversible, affects the beginning of book 1. You see, sometimes an author has to choose between telling a story as he or she would like it to be and having the correct pacing and flow to enhance the reader’s overall experience. Everything these days is rush, rush. In a previous revision I broke up longer chapters from the original draft into shorter chapters and, at times, deleted long narratives that gave backstory.

A lot of times the backstory is superfluous. Writers use it for connecting other details into the story later on. Some of the information may or may not have a direct bearing on the story at hand. Usually it can be discarded or at least removed from the story without impacting the experience for the reader. Mainly its like knowing and explaining how to build a clock when all the reader wants is to know what time it is.

What I did today was eliminate the entire first chapter of book 1. Why? Because it was all backstory and history, perhaps of interest if you are into the story already but it would have been a boring way to start out the story for most readers. Besides, the information contained in that chapter does not really advance the story and pertains to matters that are covered elsewhere in the series. It may have also gave away too much information with its foreshadowing of events that occur later on in the series.

Rather than delete the chapter completely, I saved it as is. It might be included as a prologue in a special version of the novel in the future. In fact I have saved much of the material I have deleted for the purpose of creating a backstory piece later on. Don’t know if that will happen, but those were my thoughts. As you may or may not know, writers suffer over what they delete from a story. The pain is lessened if, at the time of removal, there is a potential of using the material in some other way later on. We’ll see how that works out.

The purpose of a revision is to make the story more readable. What I’ve done has accomplished that. Both books are now below the magical 100,000 word goal I set. I plan to keep them there as it would make for a book of around 350 to 380 pages depending on line spacing. Even though I know that in the course of publishing these books I will read and revise them many more times, at least two more times but more likely five or six times before turning loose the content editor to whip it into shape for prime time, each time I revise something I fully intend for it to be the last.

Nothing has changed in the story line, which is good news for anyone who has read early drafts and enjoyed the tale. Structural and substantive changes take more time to work out. Each book will have to endure a fresh set of eyes from new perspective – one that knows next to nothing about wolfcats – before the books can enter into the production process. Every book can benefit from that level of scrutiny because the author easily overlooks things that someone new to the story will pick up on. Those details if left be can adversely affect the reader’s experience. It is a level of editing that publishers require but many self-published authors do not bother with.

Substantive editing can be expensive, especially if a manuscript has not been worked over extensively. A good example of a substantive flaw would be having a character owning a red truck in the first chapter but suddenly the truck is blue in chapter ten. Readers notice things like that and it ruins the story for them.

Content editing focuses on spelling, typos, and grammar. Most editors are reading each sentence and perhaps checking to see if the paragraph makes sense in terms of its construction but there is little or no substantive focus. Where content editing can cost a few hundred dollars substantive editing can cost considerably more. Few self-published authors can afford the expense.

Following the current revision I may venture into book three and continue on with The Wolfcat Chronicles. Or I may take a break of sorts and work on the sequel to Fried Windows, Ninja-Bread Cookies. I would like to see the sequel release somewhere between book two and book three of The Wolfcat Chronicles in order that a subsequent book involving Brent, the main character in Fried Windows, could be released between Books seven and eight of the wolfcat series. That would lead directly to the books that continue the One Over X series that brings together all the plot lines of the various series. Each of those books has been written in draft except for the sequel to Fried Windows. That one is incomplete at this point.

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#writing #TheWolfcatChronicles #Author #editing #revisions