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Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How was your week? Mine was busy, as always, but also quite rewarding, as you'll see.

Many thanks to my buddy, Ellie Garratt. She hosted the Star Trek Blogfest last week. It was very cool, reading through each list and meeting new people. It was also educational for me, because I never paid much attention to any of the other Star Trek series or films. My allegiance was always to the original cast. It wasn't intentional. It's just how it all worked out. Anyway, I gained a bunch of new followers out of the blogfest who I look forward to getting to know better. *waves to new friends* If I missed any of your blog posts last week it was because it took me three days to get through the Star Trek posts. I believe it was nearly fifty.

On Friday morning, I happened to come across a Facebook Page entitled, Novel Publicity. They were doing a chain where you posted the link on your page, along with a simple sentence which alerted participants that you knew the rules of the game and intended to play along. Next, we posted on the Novel Publicity post and then headed off into cyberspace to meet new people. It took quite awhile getting through the list and saying hello to everyone participating; however, by the time it was all said and done, my author's page on Facebook had jumped nearly 100. Out of that number I did manage to find a few familiar faces that I already knew. Although only a few appear to share my darker genre, I think there are many that we'll find share some things in common, and will end up being friends out of the deal. I plan to join again next week if I'm able. Perhaps I'll see you there.
On the reading front, I have been reading Drood by Dan Simmons. It is a huge book that I picked up at Borders when we were in Monterey, California last month. It is the story of real-life Charles Dicken’s supposed infatuation with a mysterious character that ends up consuming the last years of his life. Unfortunately, I only have about a half hour each night to read, and although the novel is very interesting and intriguing, I can’t find any other time to read. No matter how good the novel is, I read in bed before going to sleep, since it helps to tire me out. When do some of you writers find the time to read?

Speaking of writing, by the time that you read this post, I should be doing an edit/rewrite on my second novel, the sequel to Dance on Fire. It is currently entitled, Dance on Fire: Flashpoint. Before I do that, however, I need to get going on my next article for Kings River Life Magazine. I’m writing about a very talented gentleman that composes, performs and leads choirs. His music has been played all over the world. He teaches and actually leads worship in our church. It should be interesting.

How are your stress levels, my friends? I’m not going to repeat myself here; most of you are aware of my day and little time I have to do anything. A week ago, I took most of Saturday and Sunday to clean my house–I had neglected it that much. Now, with the work that remains on my novel, plus the itch inside me to begin writing book three, I am really beginning to need to clear my desk, as it were. It may be time yet again to reevaluate what takes up my time.

How about you guys? Kids are back in school, so do we have more time to write or less?

Anyway, I hope you all have a great week. I hope our paths cross more than once, whether it be the blogs, Twitter, Facebook or any of the other social networks. Are any of you on Google + yet? I'm not, but would like to be. Do we still need to be invited? If anyone knows the scoop on that, I'd love to hear it.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Star Trek Blog Fest

Hello, Star Trek Enthusiasts...

Wait! Did I just write, Star Trek? Yes, I did.

We're skipping the whole Fire Enthusiast thing for one week while we instead celebrate the phenomena that is the Star Trek Universe. This blogfest is being hosted by my good pal, Ellie Garratt. Many of you probably already know her, but if you don't, you really should introduce yourself. If you have stumbled here and would like to see more Star Trek thoughts, please surf over and check out the other entries at Ellie's blog.

Now, I must tell you that I am not the biggest Trekkie in the world. Not by a long shot. I grew up watching the original television show with my dad. When the original crew reunited to begin doing films, I came along for the ride; however, that was about all. I never got into the Next Generation or any of the other shows. I did watch the big reboot by J.J. Abrams and liked it.

In any event, here is an eclectic look at Star Trek through my eyes in no particular order:

(1) I was born March 22, 1969. This was William Shatner's 38th Birthday. He has been many things and has gone by many names: he was Bob Wilson, terrorized by a gremlin on a plane in the Twilight Zone episode, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet; he was T.J. Hooker in the 80's; he has been Denny Crane in the television show, The Practice; and although he later became Admiral, he will really only ever be Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.

(2) In one of the saddest moments, the Enterprise is destroyed in Star Trek 3. With our heroes safely away, the ship is put through its self-destruct paces in order to take out Klingons and swing the advantage back into Kirk's court. I do love Christopher Lloyd's reaction as he realizes that his men are about to be killed. You can watch the scene here:

(3) Now, my wife didn't think this would be a very good idea to post this next one, so I hope everyone takes this in the fun spirit that it is given. I just watched it for the first time in a long while and I think it is hysterical. If you have never seen the skit William Shatner did on SNL, you really much check it out:

William Shatner SNL skit Get A Life 1986-12-20 by efly2020

(4) Once again, I don't know each and every villain in the Trek Universe; however, not only is Ricardo Montalban's Khan a great Star Trek Villain, he may very well be one of the great movie villains of all time. I loved his timing and his facial expressions, and he had some great lines to deliver:

"Surely, I have made my meaning plain. I mean to avenge myself upon you, Admiral. I deprived your ship of power, and when I swing around, I mean to deprive you of your life."

"I've done far worse than kill you, Admiral. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet... buried alive! Buried alive...!"

"[quoting from Melville's Moby Dick] To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!"

(5) And if you haven't guessed yet, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is my all-time favorite in the series. I can watch it over and over again. There should even be a 24-hour channel or, if nothing else, a one day a year event where they loop it. Okay, perhaps I'm going a bit overboard, but I think the film had everything. Great action and dialogue. Good drama. And not campy at all. I think it has also aged very well, thankfully. So I will leave you with the poster.

My thanks to all who pay me a visit. I look forward to checking out your thoughts as well.

I usually end posts with "We'll talk soon", but obviously this week I must close with the following...

Live long and prosper.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Writing & Reviews

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. It strikes me that I rarely discuss any writing on these hallowed pages. There’s a good reason for that. You see, I haven’t done any.

Well, I shouldn’t say that. I usually write one to two new things a week; however, those are blog posts like this one or the articles that I write for Kings River Life Magazine. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of projects, so I haven’t really begun my third WIP. As soon as the edits are completed for Dance on Fire: FlashPoint, then I shall begin writing book three.

Many of you are writing all the time. Many are working on several projects at once. Many are engaging in 30 day marathons like NaNo where you write that novel in one month. Many are writing flash pieces each and every week.

I envy you guys. Kind of sounds like Kevin Spacey’s character in Seven, doesn’t it? I assure you that it is only coincidental. *grins*

Perhaps this will change, my not writing more regularly. At the moment, I spend much of my time networking, leaving precious little time for anything else. It is hard enough trying to get readers to find my crossover vampire novel without that. It’s very good, too, I’m told. It seems to get great reviews all over the place. I just have to keep getting the word out.

With that in mind, I thought I would share some of the reviews that I have been getting...

"I love what Garcia has done with Dance on Fire. ...The characters are drawn with depth and substance. Garcia has a gift for dialogue that “shows” more than “tells” the reader about the characters. I was also struck by the imaginative storyline which builds tension to the dramatic, bittersweet climax. Garcia mixes a horror thriller with deep suggestions about the nature of grace and providence and leaves you thinking about these concepts long after the book is finished." --Pastor Ed Ezaki

"I particularly love the start, you do not need to be told that this guy is bad news. From there on it never lets up and keeps you wanting to read right up the ending. Well thought out and well crafted." --Author Mathew Bridle

"I thoroughly enjoyed Dance On Fire... The plot was skillfully developed and strung together with such grace, I wasn't really sure what was going to happen in the end until the conclusion. Garcia teases the reader in a variety of directions, and, like any good mystery, although you search for clues, nothing is revealed until the end. I liked the treatment of the vampire as both light and dark, and this book dealt with both sides believably." --Author Angela Love

"The plot is superbly written, I loved how it also took the form of a mystery while you follow the detectives trying to solve the bizarre murders. You won’t be disappointed in the growing tension which builds up to a dramatic climax. Don’t let the genre titles of horror or Christian put you off, if you love vampire stories, you’ll enjoy this book!" --Author Jennifer Wylie

"...Let me commend author James Garcia, because in his adept hands he has made this thoroughly engrossing novel an exceptional read. I loved it!" --Author Carole Gill

"Garcia uses strong verbal details; there is no stone left unturned in this novel. He takes his time developing his characters, weaving them together in a written structure that is multicolored, and part of a plot that is spiritual, sensual, intriguing, and stimulating. There are subtle twists and turns that keep one turning the page, whether a paranormal aficionado or not." --Michelle Cabezut, Fresno Magazine

"I thought using the time of day instead of chapters really added to the pacing. The final battles at the homes and police station were exciting and well detailed, putting me in the action along with the characters. I'll have to admit what I found extremely compelling were the flashbacks to Romania and the Poienari Fortress. The crumbling fortress, the cold, the master vampire - all these things tugged at my particular kind of horror. A really good novel, and a thrilling read." --Author Timothy Hobbs.

Many thanks to those reviewers as well as to all of the others who have taken the time to read my little book. I really appreciate you more than you know.

I hope to reward that allegiance that you have offered me with each new work.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How was the week? Mine was rough, but that's what I get for only working three days the previous week and then attempting to get back in the swing of a five-day week, after having taking off on vacation. Right? It was great, though, and I really appreciate all of your comments. Thanks.

This week I had an article about a new local restaurant which is situated along our river here in the Central Valley of California. The problem was that I had my deadline and I had my subject; however, I could not get a hold of them. Thankfully, just as my editor and I were preparing to punt and do something else at the last minute, I finally heard from them and everything came together quickly. I'm glad it did, not only because I had the deadline, but because it's a great restaurant and really nice people behind it. If you are curious about this magazine, feel free to check it out. It is called Kings River Life Magazine and it's a free on-line mag.

Other than that, I'd like to tell you a little bit about a real good film that my wife and I saw this past Saturday. As you have already guessed, it is called Crazy, Stupid, Love. If you don't like chick-flicks, don't worry. This isn't one! It has so much more going for it than just the run-of-the-mill Rom-Com.

Steve Carell is a husband and father who finds out at dinner that his wife has cheated on him and she wants a divorce. That was pretty much how he got the news, too. His wife, Julianne Moore, doesn't love the coworker that she slept with, but she doesn't love her husband either.

Carell moves into his own place and then begins to pick up the pieces, except he's not doing very well at that. He meets a ladies man, Ryan Gosling, who decides to take him under his wing and shape him up.

The film is loaded with twists and turns and, were it in the hands of lesser filmmakers, might have turned out very badly, Instead, I think it is a hit.

Kevin Bacon is the coworker who wants to be the new man in Moore's life. Emma Stone is the woman who meets Gosling, but spurns his interest, instead choosing to wait for her boyfriend's proposal (a surprising appearance from singer Josh Groban). Carell's son is not-so-secretly in love with the family babysitter, who in turn secretly loves Carell. You can see how this could have gone badly, but I promise you that it all works. I have purposely left spoilers out. I'm usually great at anticipating those, but was floored at some of the things that take place.

Do yourself a favor, if you have not yet already done so, and see this film.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Vacation, Part Two

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How was your week? I hope it was as good as mine. If not, I hope you will rectify this very soon. There isn't much summer left.

The view from across the bay

A couple of weeks ago, I told you a little bit about my family and I planning on going on vacation. It wasn't the biggest vacation we've planned; we've done New York City, Hawaii and a couple of cruises in the past. However, having just gone to NYC this past March, and hearing about potential high school band trips to Hawaii and NYC once again, we decided as a family that we would simply attempt to get away from the heat.

Riley, Me & Rian

We live in the San Joaquin Valley which is Central California. We're near Fresno. Although this has been a very mild summer, we can get near 110 degree temperatures. Having Sun-Maid Raisin Growers of California close for year-end inventory made it a perfect time for our family (my wife is a teacher) to get away.

Truth is I love the Beatles, but hate that stupid song!

The beauty of living where we do is the fact that there is so much to do. We are only several hours away from both northern and southern California, and places such as the mountains or the coast are closer still. This time we chose to be near the water, so Wednesday afternoon, after I got off from work, we hit the road, heading for Monterey, California.

Captivated by the Jellies

If you have read Steinbeck, then you no doubt know a little about our destination. If you like visiting aquariums, then you most likely have heard of the world-famous Monterey Aquarium.

Still going strong, 23 total years together

We arrived Wednesday evening and did not leave until Saturday afternoon. In between we visited the aquarium, shopped, spend a half-day in Santa Cruz at the Beach Boardwalk (If you've seen The Lost Boys, then you know the place since they shot the film there), ate a lot, had a several drinks, enjoyed 60 degree weather and never once touch a computer.

The winner of the tournament took the photo. Just sayin'

Enjoying dinner at Bubba Gumps. The drink was good, too.

If you have yet to take any time off, I want to encourage you to do so. I missed my computer and both #WW and #FF on Twitter, but I know my family appreciated the time I spent with them.

Am I the only one who thinks it's a bad omen to shape a pool like a coffin?

We'll talk soon.