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Friday, December 27, 2013

'Tis More Blessed

Greetings, Fire Enthusiasts. How was your Christmas? Did Santa forgive that bit of bad behavior this year and make a visit to your house? I hope so. I was very pleased to receive iTunes gift cards - which I am well on my way to burning up! *laughs* I also welcomed the huge Blu Ray editions of The Exorcist, Casablanca and Lawrence of Arabia into my collection. Very awesome. I am particularly fond of that last one. As you may have heard, we lost Peter O'Toole just recently. I was a very big fan of his and will miss him. Thankfully his work lives on in film. Our work will live on, too, after we've gone, but I digress.

For those of you who have missed me - bless you! I have missed all of you. I am venturing out of writers' cave only momentarily, however. As I pen this post I am at 48 thousand words and counting as I put all of my free time into writing this first draft. It is book three in my Dance on Fire crossover vampire series and I am very happy with its progress. That is why you haven't seen me in a while. I am on my traditional holiday vacation from the day job, but am still working at disciplining myself to write in the morning and then stay off the laptop and focus on family for the rest of the day. As I have mentioned previously, I spent far too much time with my nose glued to the screen these past five years or so, doing all of the promotional stuff that we have to do. Sound familiar? :) I'm getting better, but there's still much to do.

So, you may ask, have I given up on the social media? No. I am instead shifting my focus temporarily from the Internet world to the physical one. As you can see from the photo, my latest book Seeing Ghosts is now available in paperback - something which just happened. I have been giving some copies away and turning my attention to locating a store in town to sell them. Now, if you are unaware, although I live in a small town in Central California, my stories take place here. In other words, I have potentially a built-in audience that I need to do a better job of reaching. Nothing is official, but I spoke earlier this week with a shop owner and she is incredibly excited to do business together. It isn't a book store, but its clientele is the perfect demographic for my paranormal romance, and my book would be the only one there. It was my first choice and we should be announcing our partnership in the next week or so. We have already discussed book signings and other events to get the word out. She's excited and so am I.

A moment ago I mentioned something about giving copies of this new paperback away. Today is week four in author Milo James Fowler's 'Tis More Blessed Christmas giveaway extravaganza. I am pleased that he asked me to be involved, and especially pleased to offer a couple of autographed copies to raffle winners on the domestic side of things. My apologies to my friends around the world, but I haven't sold any of these yet. I hope you will understand.

So, what must one do to win one of these, you ask? Nothing. It's the holidays. We've all been running around, going crazy with the shopping, finding time for family, etc. For once let's make something stress free. Just leave me a comment, saying you'd like to be entered and make sure I can get hold of you. In the figurative sense, of course. Not the sketchy sense... *pauses momentarily, recalls how cute many of you are* Look at me! Already getting in trouble with Santa for next year! *slaps hand*

Alright, I'm going to sneak back into the cave. Love you guys! I should have more news soon, as well as news about my long awaited reduction in hours at the day job.

Leave your comment and we'll leave this giveaway open until January 6th. I would like to encourage you to check out each of the other giveaways. You can find them listed at Milo's site here. I know I'll be there.

I hope you've had a blessed Christmas and, from my house to yours, I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year.

We'll talk soon.

Peter O'Toole
1932 - 2013

"...Good-night, sweet prince..."


Monday, December 2, 2013

December Update

Merry Christmas, Fire Enthusiasts. How have you been? I've missed you.

Well, what can I tell you? Very little has changed. My day job continues to impede all things. There's still hope that it will change, but God knows when. I won't bore you with those details.

So, where have I been? I've been writing. I'm working on Dance on Fire 3. It has a proper name, but I'm going to hold that information until the end. It is the continuing adventures of Nathaniel and the Lopez family.

Once again I found myself outlining more than the book before. I had a 25 page paragraph outline with both general and specific content, outlining the entire book. Once I was pleased with the story, leaving myself enough space to have some unexpected surprises, I began the first draft.

I have been writing mostly in the mornings before work, with extended sessions happening on weekends and any time I can possibly sneak it in. I currently sit at over 20k words and have barely cracked my outline. We'll see whether that means anything or not. My first thought is it could be the longest work I've ever written (something larger than 113k words); however, it may simply even out once I get to the end. What ever happens, you'll be the first to know.

Getting the Seeing Ghosts paperback published has been a bit of a pain, but we're at the end of that process. We had some issues with cover art which caused delays, but I should be receiving the final proof copy this week. This is my first time working with CreateSpace, so I'll let you know how that goes at a later date. Demand will drive how quickly I begin working on producing Dance on Fire and Flash Point. Since my crossover vampire series takes place in my real life home town, I plan to spend a lot of time working the local angle. Stay tuned.

So that's what's been up with me. It's December, and my favorite time of year. Unfortunately, it's way too warm here in central California, and feels strange to be decorating for Christmas. It doesn't get that cold here where we live, but long sleeved shirts is all I've needed so far - and it's really sunny. So weird! I trust it will cool down before the holidays are past. I even grew my beard out. I haven't done that in 2-3 years thanks to that original author photo I started with that had me sporting one. I was so sick of looking at that picture! *laughs*

You should hear from me before Christmas, but just in case, I want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. *hugs*

We'll talk soon.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Meet: The Carnival Thirteen

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Happy Holidays! What? I hear screaming out there. Yes, it's November. Before you know it it'll be January. Am I right? For those blessed among you who are knee deep in NaNo, it will be worse. By the time you look up from your goals it will be December. Yikes!

Wherever November finds you I hope you and yours are well. I have been busy with work, as always. For those of you who know my work situation, there's big chance that my hours will be reduced and/or my schedule adjusted this December. *crossing fingers* If it does, it should really do wonders for free time. We'll see.

Project(s) Update: Well, what can I tell you? I am still working on the outline for what will be book three in my crossover vampire series. I'm taking my time, and not in any hurry to produce a lackluster book. I want to ask myself tough questions about where the characters are headed, and who they want to be - among other things.

I am currently working on producing paperback versions of my books. I'll have more on that front soon.

Lastly, I can finally reveal that I worked on a secret project this past spring/summer. The project: write a horror story for charity. The fear: not much would be known except the basic premise. We were asked not to talk about it. We simply read the story when it showed up in our e-mail and added the next chapter. The authors involved is a list of stars and future stars: John Everson; Jason Darrick; Dan Dillard; Charles Colyott; Dale Eldon; Matt Schiariti; Anne Michaud; Rebecca Besser; Armand Rosamilia; Jon Olson; Brent Abell; and Julianne Snow. I am humbled to have been asked and to rub virtual shoulders with these talented people.

The Carnival Thirteen: "Come one, come all! Step right up and join thirteen masters of macabre literature as they take you on a journey unlike anything you've ever traveled. We've got freaks, fantasy and fear; all lined up waiting to take your breath away.

Will you be tempted by the Freaks of the Flesh? Astounded by the Freaks of Fantasy? Baffled by the Freaks of the Mind? All this and more await you for just the small price of three tickets... and your soul."

All proceeds to benefit Scares That Care!

Available at:

I don't mind telling you that the project was very nerve-wracking for me, not knowing much about either the subject matter or worried about letting everyone down if I failed to deliver the goods. It was a good challenge for me, and I think it came out very well. I hope you'll think about picking up a copy. As you can see, I've got mine.

Thanks for stopping by.

I'm climbing back into writers' cave now. Perhaps I'll bump into some of you there. Whether I do or don't...

...we'll talk soon.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Multitude of Halloween Giveaways

Happy October, Fire Enthusiasts! Wow! Is this month crazy or what? 

This month – and it all seems to be converging at the same moment - we’re gearing up for Halloween with three events. We’ve got Coffin Hop 2013; Author Milo James Fowler’s brainchild, CreepyFreebies; and Author Ash Krafton’s Fall into Fantasy Giveaway. Not only are there opportunities to snag free copies of my books during this time, but altogether there are easily over a hundred other authors giving away their books and author swag.

As I mentioned, Author Milo James Fowler is hosting Creepy Freebies. Every Friday during the month we’re giving stuff away and mine is next. I’m giving away multiple Kindle copies of my latest, Seeing Ghosts on Friday, October 25th. You can enter by placing the book on your Goodreads shelf or liking my Facebook Author page. Just let me know who you are with a comment and tell me what you did. I’m easy that way.

Next we have the Fall into Fantasy extravaganza, hosted by author Ash Krafton. She’s awesome-sauce and she’s got a fabulous giveaway on her site. There are over 50 authors participating, and with so many books and swag opportunities it is not to be missed. The contest started October 17th and runs through until Halloween. I’m giving away Kindle copies of Seeing Ghosts there as well.

Last, but certainly not least, we finish the month in grand fashion with Coffin Hop 2013. Every year the group of authors participating seems to grow exponentially, and so does the stuff that is given away. It is so big that it will take you the entire week to get through the hop! And it will be so worth it. Head on over to the Coffin Hop site and take a look down that list of sites participating. Perhaps the highlight of the event is the Coffin Hop: Death by Drive-In Anthology. It is a collection of stories from some of the best of the Coffin Hop members with all of the proceeds going to LitWorld.Org (a non-profit organization that supports child literacy.

I will be giving away Kindle-copies of all three of my books, including a grand prize winner who will receive them all. Adding the book you want (Dance on Fire, Flash Point (book 2) or Seeing Ghosts to your Goodreads shelf or liking my Facebook Author Page gets you in. Just leave a comment as to which book you want or if you want them all. At the end of the contest I will choose multiple winners out of a hat.

Before I go, these are the books I’m giving away:

Seeing Ghosts:

Paul Herrera hasn’t worked, left town or done much of anything since the untimely death of his wife two years before. He suddenly finds himself bequeathed a mysterious old house near the California central coast by a deceased aunt that he never knew. The woman who showed it to him and handed him the keys is the spitting image of his dead wife, taken from him two years before in a senseless car accident which also took from him his unborn son. While he deals with the ghosts of a past that he cannot let go, there are new ghosts as dead Aunt Flora is not content with eternal sleep, but continues her unholy quest to be rejoined with her dead husband on this side of the grave.
Flora isn’t the only ghost that Paul must deal with, alone for the week in the expansive two-storey house that he will soon discover holds many secrets. Eventually, he will see that he is surrounded by ghosts, both the ethereal and those that only haunt his memories, as he struggles to hold onto the only thing that he has left in this world: his sanity.

Dance on Fire:

Each May, the Central California town of Kingsburg celebrates its Swedish heritage with the annual Swedish Festival: a weekend event where the town puts on its traditional dress, culminating with a dance around a Maypole on Friday, and a Swedish pancake breakfast and parade on Saturday. The town with a population of over 11,000 residents draws thousands more to the event. This year, two uninvited guests also converged upon the unsuspecting town.
Nathaniel is a vampire. He wandered into town, bothering no one; feeding upon stray cats and other vermin, wanting nothing more than to have a place to rest his head. Vincent is a second vampire, and the one responsible for making Nathaniel. He has been searching for his long lost “son” for well over two centuries. Vincent’s goal is to take Nathaniel home or kill him. Nathaniel has often wished for death, wondering why God ever allowed this punishment: to walk the earth undead and unable to be redeemed. Does God remember the little boy from Romania who watched his parents die, was raised by the murdering vampire, only to become one himself? What does God think of Nathaniel and could there yet be redemption for one outside of heaven?
Ten days before the start of the Swedish Festival the most tumultuous week in the history of Kingsburg has begun with two vampires leaving death and destruction in their wake. Kingsburg Police Detectives Mark Jackson and Michael Lopez, Barbara and the entire Lopez family find themselves drawn into something that threatens to destroy them all or leave them scarred forever.

Dance on Fire, Flash Point:

Five years after the death of their only child Tiffany, Steve and Angie Rosen receive an unexpected guest to their Morro Bay, California home: their daughter. She comes with a tale of having suffered a terrible head wound in the fire that took their Kingsburg home, causing her loss of memory and migraine headaches that force her to hide from daylight in order to prevent. Tiffany's reemergence is treated like Manna from Heaven; however, her story is only half true. Tiffany is a vampire and their daughter in name only. She sleeps during the day and hunts for human blood during the night, and has come back to enact a twisted revenge upon those who ruined the plans of her master, the notorious vampire, Vincent. And she is not alone.
Five years after the terrible events that reshaped the Swedish Village, Kingsburg lies unsuspecting as five vampires descend upon her with a great evil in their black hearts.
Five years after old wounds have finally healed and the old fires were thought extinguished, Police Chief Michael Lopez and Officer Mark Jackson and their families find themselves surrounded when fires blaze anew. The good vampire, Nathaniel, has pledged his service to these people, but he is no longer among them. He lives high in the Oregon Mountains near the California border, seeking whether God might have a place in His kingdom yet for him.
When Nathaniel discovers that Tiffany has returned, will he be too late to stop her? And will his desire to protect his friends destroy what God has begun in him?
It will all begin with a Flash Point.

Thanks for stopping by. For old friends, it’s always great to see you. For new friends, it’s great to meet you. We’ll talk soon.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Of Contests, Giveaways and Gravity

[Editor's Note: This might be my only post for the month since it contains every link needed for all three contests. I may simply update it where necessary. I will most definitely be monitoring, however... I promise. ;)]

Happy October, Fire Enthusiasts! So glad to see you here! 

This will be a quick post. I’ve entered the writer’s cave, as I mentioned last week; however, being that we’re gearing up for Halloween, there’s much to discuss. We’ve got CoffinHop 2013; Author Milo James Fowler’s brainchild, CreepyFreebies; and Author Ash Krafton’s Fall into Fantasy Giveaway. That’s plenty of opportunities not only to snag free copies of my books, but so many other free reads and author swag. Keep your eyes peeled as I offer the links as they become available.

Before I get too far, I really must share that my sons and I went to the IMAX 3D version of the new film, Gravity. It’s a hell of a lot of money, but I just had this sense that I would be disappointed if I saw the movie any other way. My friends, all three of us were blown away. Alfonso Cuaron is simply an amazing and visionary director. Children of Men is not a feel good movie, but the camera work and extended scenes without an edit that he did there still knocks me out after all these years. My kids reminded me that his Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban might be the best of the bunch! At last look the review site Rotten Tomatoes had the film at 98%. That never happens!

This film is the very definition of “edge of your seat.” The film is stunning in every sense of the word. If you can afford to see the version I saw, I highly recommend it. Prepare yourself not for a special movie, but for an adventure and ride like you’ve never experienced… Oh, and don’t eat anything before you go. Your tummy will thank you for it. J Yeah, it’s like that, too.

As I mentioned, Author Milo James Fowler is hosting Creepy Freebies. This happens every Friday during the month. Get over there and see what we’ve got up our collective sleeves for you and join the giveaway. Mine will be at the end of the month, but don’t wait ‘til then to visit. There are multiple authors each and every Friday. I’m giving away multiple Kindle copies of my latest, Seeing Ghosts on Friday, October 25th. You can enter by placing the book on your Goodreads shelf or liking my Facebook Author page. Just let me know who you are with a comment and tell me what you did. I’m easy that way.

Next we have the Fall into Fantasy extravaganza, hosted by author Ash Krafton. She’s awesome-sauce and she’s got a fabulous giveaway on her site. There are over 50 authors participating, and with so many books and swag opportunities it is not to be missed. The contest starts October 17th, so don’t forget. I’m giving away Kindle copies of Seeing Ghosts there as well.

Last, but certainly not least, we finish the month in grand fashion with CoffinHop 2013. Every year the group of authors participating seems to grow exponentially, and so does the stuff that is given away. Don’t plan on blogging anywhere else because it will take you the entire week to get through the hop! And it will be so worth it. I will be giving away Kindle-copies of all three of my books, including a grand prize winner who will receive them all. Adding the book you want (Dance on Fire, Flash Point (book 2) or Seeing Ghosts to your Goodreads shelf or liking my Facebook Author Page gets you in. Just leave a comment as to which book you want or if you want them all. At the end of the contest I will choose multiple winners out of a hat.

Okay, I’m heading back underground now. The house is surrounded by vampires…it could be a hundred of them.

That was a clue, by the way. I told you last week I was outlining Dance on Fire 3. *evil grins*

We’ll talk soon.   

Monday, September 30, 2013

October, and the Death of Summer.

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. And hello fall.

I don’t know about you, but I am so glad to see the death of summer. Sweating is way overrated. I would rather be slightly chilled than slightly warm. Here in the California central valley the summer is the time for being near water or taking off for the central coast. Otherwise, we’re hiding in the air conditioning. It doesn’t take much for me to be comfortable in the fall/winter here; long sleeved shirts or a simple sweatshirt and I’m all set! On the other hand, we don’t have to worry about shoveling snow here either. I’d probably have a healthier respect for summer if we did. *laughs*

Well, what can I tell you? The family is happy and well. We’re all busy as heck, but life has been good. I’m still working out on the treadmill. I’m below 180 pounds, rather than pushing 190 like I was. The trick is going to be staying consistent while eating [and drinking ;)] my way through the holidays. As long as I work it off, I’ll be good. Stay tuned…

I haven’t been doing much in terms of writing, but I am getting ready to change that. What I have been doing is laying out my outline for the third installment of my crossover vampire series. I’m taking my time with that and allowing it to come to me naturally. It isn’t something that I want to rush. It’s really starting to come alive, much like a great puzzle that’s already been created and I simply have to start putting it together. I’m also itching to convert those three e-books of mine into paperbacks.

With that in mind, you may not see very much of me for the next several months. I’ve gone underground before, but this time it might be much deeper. In fact, don’t be surprised if I end up altering my blogging schedule too. I’ve been toying with the idea of moving from posting once a week to only once a month. Those of you who have been with me for a while know why that is: the 11 hour day job. I really don’t like this plan very much, but see nothing else to do about it. Hopefully it will only last through the holidays. Who knows? Perhaps I will post more often than I anticipate. I hope so, but we’ll have to see what happens.

Since we’re about to flip the page on the calendar to October, you can count on me to be lurking about, especially as we get closer to All Hallows’ Eve. As you can see from the above banner, I’m joining a group of fabulous authors in doing a huge giveaway that will occur every Friday during the month. I hope you’ll drop by during those days and find some great free reads. I’m also planning on joining the Coffin Hop once again this Halloween, which no doubt will be jam-packed with cool posts and giveaways.

Thanks as always for dropping by.

We’ll talk soon. I promise... 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Seeing Ghosts Character Interview

Greetings, Fire Enthusiasts. The following phone conversation occurred during Paul Herrera’s last night in the old ranch house in Salinas, California…

Paul: Hello.
Me: Hi, Paul. How’s it going?
Paul: Good… Wait! This isn’t Ray?
Me: No, it’s Jim.
Paul: Who?
Me: Jim. The guy who’s writing the book.
Paul: What book?
Me: The book about the week you spent living in Flora’s House. Trust me. Just go with it. Are you alone or are Anne and her son sitting there?
Paul: They’re here. How did you know that?
Me: *sigh* You know, this will go a lot quicker if you’d simply believe that I know what’s going on there. How are you? I mean really. I don’t suppose you’re sleeping?
Paul: No.
Me: That’s what I thought. Are you going to make it?
Paul: What do you mean by that?
Me: Well, you’re not sleeping. You’ve got a woman there who looks like… Well, you know?
Paul: You mean, like my dead wife?
Me: Sorry, man, but yes. She’s gorgeous and all, and ordinarily a guy would be happy to entertain anyone half as pretty as her, but it must be gut wrenching…
Paul: Can we talk about something else?
Me: *pauses* All right. What about Aunt Flora?
Paul: What about her? She’s not my aunt anymore. That ended with her death…
Me: Yeah, but death hasn’t stopped her from terrorizing you, has it?
Paul: No.
Me: What’s the latest with her?
Paul: She’s trying to get me to let her back in the house, but I won’t do it.
Me: What do you think she wants?
Paul: Well, I…. Wait! You’re the guy who knows everything. Why don’t you tell me what she wants? Why did she give me her house?
Me: *pauses* I can’t really see everything, just some things.
Paul: Why don’t I believe you?
Me: Sorry, Paul.
Paul: For what? Not telling me anything? For lying to me?
Me: Uh, yes. All the above. Tell me about Patricia. Where’s she been during all of this? Have you talked to her?
Paul: Oh, yeah. The Bitch! She’s a piece of work that one. I wish I could have her dragged from the property.
Me: So you’re stuck with her then?
Paul: Yes.
Me: What has she been doing?
Paul: Threatening me, antagonizing me, keeping me up with her chanting and whatever witchcraft she’s doing out there in the middle of the night.
Me: And Flora’s there, too, I suppose.
Paul: She is now.
Me: Any other ghosts?
Paul: *sigh*Of course! You know, I think I’m getting tired of all of these questions of yours! Can’t you tell me anything? What do Patricia and Flora want? This place is surrounded with ghosts. What do they all want? I’ve got them inside now, too. I’m losing my mind here! What am I supposed to do?
Me: I’m sorry, Paul. I wish I could tell you more, but I can’t. But you’re going to have to stop her.
Paul: Just how do you suppose I do that? Or can’t you tell me that either?
Me: Yeah. I’m sorry about that, too…

I figured if I was going to do a bit if shameless promoting, at least I could make it slightly amusing. This was a character interview that I did during the summer when I was on the month-long blog tour. The book has been getting good reviews. It’s still just a lot of work trying to get it noticed in that sea of books out there. I appreciate those of you who have read it or are getting ready to. For everyone else, I hope you’ll consider grabbing a copy of Seeing Ghosts, or adding it to your Goodreads shelf. Every little bit helps.

Have a great week. We’ll talk soon.      

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dance on Fire...3?

Happy mid-September, Fire Enthusiasts. It's very cool to see you here. You should know by now how much I appreciate you dropping by. There are millions of other sites you could be visiting. It humbles me that you chose this one, whether you leave a comment or not.

I'm pleased that fall is fast approaching and summer is losing its dominance as the season of the power. Of course you know I'm not concerned over winter's arrival since Central California winters are mild. Thick fog is the only worry here. If I had to shovel snow every morning I might be mourning summer a whole lot more than I am.

Thank you to all who visited last week. If you missed it, I'm all about the music, so I celebrated classic albums that just had to be played from beginning to end without skipping a song or two. Lots of people agreed with me, but many shared albums that they would have listed. I love that! I'm still trolling iTunes, hunting for many of those to add to the 7000+ songs on my iPod. See, I told you I was all about the music! It's not too late to join the discussion. You'll find the post just below this one.

As for the day job, I'm still working way too many hours. There's a possibility that they may be shortened a bit, but if it does happen it won't be for a couple months. *crosses fingers*

I have been faithful to my trusty treadmill. In the summer I found myself at 187 pounds. *laughs* "Found," he says. Okay, what happened was I spent every free moment during the spring and summer with book promotion and wasn't paying much attention to the garbage going in the tank, or the amount of hours I was spending sitting on my [CENSORED]. It took about a month to reverse that situation. I have been consistently below 180 now. Sunday I hit my low of 177 pounds. I eat and drink what I want, but know that I have to work it off. It's all about portion control and watching/reducing the amount of garbage that goes in. I was power-walking/running 3-7 miles as often as I could, much of that time in the late afternoon after work when it was 100+ degrees. The treadmill sits in the garage, so it wasn't fun. That's another reason why I can't wait for cooler temps.

I'm working on the outline for my next WIP. It's still early. So much of that is me doing nothing but spending my days allowing the ideas to percolate. This will be book 3 in my Dance on Fire, crossover vampire series. I know where the characters are, how many years later it will be, and some of what is begging to tale place. I just need the plot to clear in my mind and for that said-plot to excite me. When it excites me, that's when I will begin. It's getting there. If you are unfamiliar with this series allow me to explain...

Nathaniel is a vampire, wanting nothing more than to have a place to rest his head. He has often wished for death, wondering why God ever allowed this punishment: to walk the earth undead and unable to be redeemed. Does God remember the little boy from Romania who watched his parents die, was raised by the murdering vampire, only to become one himself? What does God think of Nathaniel and could there yet be redemption for one outside of heaven?

As you can see, my series is a crossover, marrying the best features of classic horror with the Christian themes of good conquering evil and redemption. I try not to hit my readers over the head with the church stuff. I just figured that if I was going to be adding to the vampire mythos, I needed something a little off the beaten path. It's getting good reviews. If curiosity gets the better of you, the e-book can be had on Amazon for 99 cents.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Albums that we play all the way through.

Greetings and salutations, Fire Enthusiasts. I hope this new week finds you and yours well. I continue to be crazy busy with everything but writing, I'm afraid. The day job just continues to time suck everything around it. I logged another 64 hours this past week (8 hrs on Saturday). I only hit the treadmill twice and I find myself this Sunday morning, sitting out on my patio, skipping church and taking some "me" time. My wife didn't sleep as she waited for our boys to come home from Southern California where they took a day trip with some friends to a concert. I'm pleased to report that they made it home just fine. The oldest is 19 and has made many a day trip, so I trust him. That's why I slept just fine. *evil grins*

Don't let me kid you, however. There's always a lot of praying before and during their time away.

If you know me at all you know that if anything is more important to me than books, it is music. I could go weeks without reading. Without music, however, I would curl up and die a lot faster than I would without water or food. Believe me! I have the 120GB iPod and have *runs to check* 7400 songs on it. With that in mind I thought we could discuss music this week. Specifically I would like to talk about albums that can and perhaps should be played all the way through without skipping. It wasn't always that way, was it? There was a time when albums were just records to hold that one song, and then the record company ushered the band or artist right back into the studio to do the next one. It wasn't until the 70's that the album begin to take on a bigger meaning. In the 80's we suddenly milked that album for every hit we could possibly get.

The debut from Boston is arguably the greatest debut of all time. I bet you've heard each and every cut on the radio at one time or another.

What's Going On from Marvin Gaye turned Motown and music in general on its collective head. I came to this one late, taking a chance on it one day. I was blown away. If you read the history, you'll find that this record was almost never made. It's a personal cry from Marvin that strikes a chord in all of us. Trust me.

This Is War by Thirty Seconds to Mars is brilliant. My oldest turned me on to these guys and I love them. The band and I probably don't agree on a lot of subjects in life, but their record hits each and every one of my buttons and I can't stop listening to it.

Three Sides to Every Story by Extreme is a triumph. This one didn't have the hit singles that Pornograffitti did, but it has a spirit that will drive you to tears. It is a deeply personal and spiritual record that should be taught at Berkeley. As a Christian, I recognize all the Biblical references, but it is done so in a way that doesn't hit the non-Christian over the head.

Songs From the Big Chair by Tears for Fears is still magic all these years later.

Asia by Asia. I played the heck out of this thing back in '82 and it's what I'm listening to now as I pen this post. Supergroup indeed!

Pyromania by Def Leppard was a record that my younger brother bought while I picked up Frontiers by Journey. The reason that I recall that particular trip to Tower Records is due to my insistence that my Journey record would blow his away. Well, Frontiers was and is very good, but Pyromania proved to be a monster. You may disagree that the Hysteria album was far better - it certainly had the hits. There's just a couple of those hits that played so much that I don't need to hear them again. *laughs*

This Fire by Paula Cole is something that I listened to just recently while doing yard work. I had forgotten how supremely talent this artist is. I don't believe she had the success before or after this album, and many of you probably laughed at some of her lyrics, especially during the "Where Have all the Cowboys Gone". However, she hit the proverbial home run with this one. It rocks, strokes the heart strings, and is incredibly brave at times. She really nailed it here.

Don't Say No by Billy Squier was his biggest hit and there's a reason for this. The whole thing is fantastic. Sometimes his whole need to rhyme everything can get old, but not here.

Shake Your Money Maker by the Black Crowes was everything we needed to shake rock music up. It put some Rolling Stones-kind of Blues swagger back into rock music. It had the three hits, but some of these others may actually be better. I don't care for the changes that were made with regard to the addition of horns. Stay with the classic, my friends.

The Stranger by Billy Joel. I really didn't know Joel until An Innocent Man. Those songs were fun, but not moving like the stuff that came before. This was the first cd I bought as I investigated who Billy was in the 70's. Since then I have trolled iTunes and snagged nearly everything he did back then. I have some stuff from the 80's too, but oh those 70's!

Destroyer by Kiss. I hate short versions of songs with a red hot passion, so please don't play me "Detroit Rock City" unless it's from here. I saw these guys right after they took off the makeup back on the Lick It Up tour and thankfully saw the first reunion tour when they put it back on. Great shows! Great songs! Great career! You could make an argument for their debut here, but I chose this one.

The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance was introduced to me by my oldest son. As you might have noticed I'm not one of those stuck on one kind of music or decade. If you've got something good, please share and I'll check them out. So it was that my son begged me to take him to see My Chem when they came to our neck of the woods. I didn't think I'd enjoy myself at a show where I was unfamiliar with the music, but I was wrong. At the show they played this album from first song to last - and so should you.

Under Lock and Key by Dokken is everything that was good about hair metal.

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac is astounding to me. How did they make such magic when the flame of their personal lives was being snuffed out so profoundly between John and Christine and Lindsey and Stevie? Incredible!

I would be remiss if I didn't include Sports by Huey Lewis and the News, wouldn't I?

My wife would kick my rear if I failed to list Kick by INXS. We still miss you, Michael...

My oldest will tell you that Continuum is his best, but I still find myself going back to Room for Squares. Please, John, enough of the country stuff you seem to be stuck in at the moment. Oh, and no more girl talk, okay. Just play...

Screaming for Vengeance by Judas Priest was great back in my heavy metal days, and it works very well while I'm hitting my treadmill. :)

The untitled fourth album contains the greatest song ever written, but the brown bomber cemented The Mighty Zep as the masters.

I don't care for much of what Maroon 5 is doing these days, but Songs About Jane is an incredible record. They toured for about five years on this record, going from indie to the top of the world - and there is a reason for it.

I have seen Matchbox Twenty three times in concert and they never get old! Everything they do is great; however, More Than You Think You Are is the one that cannot be skipped. Just play it and forget about it.

I love Train, but sometimes they can get a bit silly. Drops of Jupiter is the cd that sucked me in. I've seen them three times too, and give them a pass on whatever they want to do.

I guess I'd better call it a day right here. There's a lot more albums out there, I know. What did I fail to list? You don't have to leave a long comment. In fact, just list the album and I'll go find it or shake my head right along with you that I can't believe I forgot about it. Before I do, I'd better list The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. This thing was on the Billboard top albums chart for 741 weeks!! That's from 1973 to 1988, people. It was the first cd I ever bought when I wanted to test just how fabulous my first cd player was compared to my old record player back in the day. Play it at night with headphones while laying in your darkened bedroom. It really is the only way. You don't need chemicals or booze. Just lay back and enjoy.

We'll talk soon.    

Monday, August 26, 2013

Is It Time to Finally Quit this Crazy Business?

Hello, friends and Fire Enthusiasts. We’re going to get real today – not that I lie, cheat or steal here. I just mean that I thought I would spend this time talking about my reality, and perhaps yours, too.
I’ve sold a few books, but that’s really all. Not too many. The 30 total reviews or so I have received for my three novels have been pretty good. I certainly can’t be anything but pleased with those. Even the one or two bad reviews are helpful in the grant scheme of things. I read those and then quickly moved on, refusing to dwell on the negative.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well, it’s because I wonder who else is struggling in the same waters as me?
For the most part I try and put on a positive display. I don’t lie and make up glorious numbers or pretend to be a best seller when I am clearly not. I do think it’s important to appear to be an “I’ve got it all together” -looking author. I think readers need to know that you’re not quitting tomorrow. On the other hand, I want to be a help to others. If I step out and admit that things are moving at a snail’s pace, perhaps it helps someone else who is on the verge of giving up.
I really think it is more important for me to get someone to back away from the proverbial ledge than it is to continue this front.
Earlier I mentioned something about water. You see, I know I’m not a bad writer. Too many have said wonderful things about my work for that to be true. The trouble is – and I really believe this – there is a sea of books out there. Ultimately, it may prove to be too much competition for many of us. I don’t think it’s only me. Are we telling our stories because we want to get rich? Or are we doing it because we simply have stories to tell and it would be a shame not to?
For my third book, I moved away from horror and penned a paranormal with a strong dose of romance. I was (and am) very excited about it. I once again paid for the professional edit job, and lucked out by getting a wonderful friend, author and artist to design a beautiful cover. I started dropping the teasers well in advance. I built buzz for a cover reveal, followed by the event; I literally did everything right in the promotion of it. I’m sure there was more, but I put all my time, efforts and everything I’d learned into it.
Very little happened. *crickets play*
Perhaps we really do need to withhold judgment until book ten. I don’t know. Seemingly every day we read about someone hitting it big with a first effort. Perhaps it really is not in the cards for me. Or you. Only God knows.
I did not pen this to be a rant. Nor did I hope to eclipse some record amount of comments, hoping to have so many people run to my aid for fear of me finally stepping over that ledge.
Let me just thank you well in advance now. I’m fine, and I appreciate the well-wishes. I’m not quitting. I have too many stories to tell…and I hope those of you who are in that same boat as I have stories to tell as well. It’s a tough business. However, it still is a very exciting time to be alive and find ourselves equipped with the gift of storytelling. For better or worse, I’ve published three novels that a handful of people seem to have enjoyed. You’ve written some things that people have enjoyed, too, right? If nothing else, we need to remember that it really is tough for everyone, and that we are not alone in that boat. Let’s take an evening to hold hands, pass the bottle around, sing some songs and celebrate our gift!
And then let’s get back to work.
Let’s not quit. Regret is a terrible thing. We’ll stop when the fingers no longer work well enough to hit these keyboard keys, or perhaps when they pull the damned plug.
I had hoped to spend the rest of the year promoting/networking. Now it appears I’m shutting that down to simply begin the next project. If you don’t hear from me it’s because I’m in the writers’ cave, using my two hours a day to write instead of network - thanks to my 11 hour day job.
I’ll be back. I promise.
I hope you will be as well.

We’ll talk soon.     

Monday, August 19, 2013

Author Greg Sisco Day

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Welcome to Author Greg Sisco Day here on the blog. Some of you may wish to run away now. I’d like you to stay, but I completely understand if you don’t.
What’s that? You don’t know who Sisco is? Ah, that is a shame. In that case, please stay…
Are there any Howard Stern fans out there? I used to be, but only liked him when someone was controlling him. When the reins were removed, and he was able to be as raunchy as he wanted, that’s when I moved on. Now, please do not take me for a saint. I’m sad to report that I am very far from it. I am well acquainted with every foul word ever invented by man, pulled from the circles of Dante’s Hell or wherever bad words come from. I wished I wasn’t, and I certainly don’t practice using them. Well, you know… Suffice it to say that I have stubbed a toe or mistakenly struck my thumb with a hammer now and again. Get what I’m sayin’? The reason I tell you this is because in order to get through this next book, you’re really going to have to be able to stomach each and every one of those words – and quite frequently!
“Why would anyone want to read something so potentially foul,” you may ask? I’ll tell you why. It’s because it’s written by author Greg Sisco. And after reading nearly everything he’s written, I can tell you that he doesn’t write a bad book. Believe it.

Here’s the synopsis of his most recent: Gunslinger, P.I.
His name is Garret Gallagher, but don't call him that or he'll shoot you in a particularly uncomfortable appendage. Every thug and criminal in Scud City knows him as Gunslinger. They say he traveled through time from the Old West. They say he drives a talking car. They say for five grand he can solve any murder in forty-eight hours.
As it happens, everything they say is true.
Gunslinger, P.I. follows five days in Gunslinger's life. Hired by an allegedly Irish gangster to investigate a particularly suspicious murder, Gunslinger navigates a rocky relationship with his talking car girlfriend, lusts over a foul-mouthed femme fatale, butts heads with a twenty-first century cowboy wannabe, plays Russian Roulette with an idiot, and seeks out revenge on anyone who lies to him -- which happens to be pretty much everybody.
A darkly comic murder mystery at its heart, Gunslinger, P.I. blends Western and noir with touches of fantasy, science fiction, and romance for a one-of-a-kind, mile-a-minute ride at the hands of a crass, madman antihero with no regard for the reader's comfort level.

When I first began undertaking the adventure that is Gunslinger, P.I., I found myself debating whether it might be too much. His works typically are R-rated, but this one – much like One Night Stan’s is in the very least rated NC-17. I don’t know why, but I kept going. Perhaps I have a trust factor with him. In fact, I know that’s why.

I am a devoted follower of his Blood Brothers Vampire series: I fawned over Thicker Than Water, and then raced over to grab The Wages of Sin. I am firmly on record as admitting that he blows away pretty much everything else that’s out there that’s vampire-related. That includes mine. With One Night Stan’s – a book that I arguably should not have read, due to its graphic content – I found that I just couldn’t help myself. If you haven’t yet figured it out, reading Sisco may very well be my guilty pleasure!

I’ve read some of Gunslinger’s reviews and can tell you that there a few upset people out there. They had no idea what they had begun to read and did not appreciate it at all. I can understand. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. However, having said that, I promise you that there are no words, sentences or turn of phrases used simply for shock value. Not one. Believe it or not, but each and every one of those are carefully and strategically placed.
“But wait!” I can hear you ask. “Don’t you go to church regularly, and pray, and everything? How could you not only read this, but seem to enjoy it immensely?” Yes, it’s true. As a Christian - especially after reading One Night Stan's - I find myself covering one eye when I see a new release from him and mutter the prayer: "Lord, what has he done now?" Lol! See, I told you he was my guilty pleasure.
Just know that if you could stomach the characters of Gunslinger, P.I. & the world they navigate, you’ll find that the book is perfect. The writing is wholly imaginative, the plot gripping and tight, and it’s loaded with the signature Sisco wit that will really pull you back for more.
Author Greg Sisco’s books
are sometimes rough stuff. Yet, every single time - no matter what the material - I find myself unable to put the book down and cheering at the end!

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Good Reads

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How is everybody? It’s good to see you. I thank you so much for stopping by. I realize everyone is so incredibly busy. Lord knows I am. I’ve been trying to visit everyone periodically. If you haven’t seen me for a while, please say hello and leave your link. I’ll be right over.

Lately, it seems that there has only been time for blogging and reading, so that’s what I continue to be up to. Soon, however, that will change as I transition over to writing once again. I haven’t written anything new since last year’s project which was Seeing Ghosts. More on that later…

I have a few more books to tell you about.

An Illusion of Trust by Linda Cassidy Lewis

In this sequel to The Brevity of Roses, Renee Vaziri discovers that even when your dreams come true your nightmares remain. When Renee Marshall locked the door on her dark past and married Jalal Vaziri, she hoped for a quiet life in a California coastal town. Now, with a sexy, adoring, wealthy husband, one beautiful child and another on the way, she dares to believe happily ever after could be her future. But doors don’t always stay locked. As the stress of living in Jalal’s high-society world increases, the traumas of Renee’s past begin to poison the present and threaten to destroy everything she treasures. Is it her imagination or is Jalal keeping a secret that will end their marriage and rip her children from her life? And could it involve Diane, the woman who reminds Renee too much of Jalal’s beloved first wife?

It’s not exactly horror, is it? No, but you may recall me telling you before that I like to mix things up that way. Lewis is a dear friend of mine. We’re practically neighbors, too, and I can’t wait to sit down with her and chat about writing. In any event, it was not difficult at all to get me to grab my copy of this book. Lewis’ writing is top notch and I really enjoyed this book. I wanted to strangle Lewis’ character Renee a few times, but her struggles are integral to the story and make perfect sense once you’ve taken this continued journey with her. Lewis spins a fine tale and I hope she continues to pick up her mighty pen and blaze trails like this one. I fear Lewis is uncertain of the talent she has, but she shouldn’t. Her writing is as good as anything out there in the market place. If this sounds up your alley, I hope you’ll give it a try.

Immaterial Evidence by Milo James Fowler

The vault door never opened. The bank went into lock down in less than a minute. Yet the security footage was unmistakable: a hundred silver bars had simply vanished. Ever since the city’s most dangerous crime boss put a price on his head, private investigator Charlie Madison has lived as an exile in Little Tokyo. But now an old friend and police sergeant has lured Madison back into the city to hunt down an invisible criminal—if he can. As Madison makes his clandestine return, high-profile people start disappearing. And when federal agents swoop onto the scene to take matters into their own hands, they offer Madison a deal he can't refuse—as long as he agrees to work with them. With Japanese freedom fighters and refurbished killing machines threatening to take the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust, the United World government needs all the help it can get. Embroiled in an unimaginable mystery, one private eye must rely on his wits to solve a case where the evidence is immaterial, and the odds are stacked high against him at every turn.

I really liked this story. It was a bit of crossover fun; a cross between Mickey Spillane and iRobot. Fowler really painted the classic noir/gumshoe world well with the typical seedy areas of town – warehouses, dark alleys, cultural inner city sections – as well as the great dialogue and narration/detective’s inner voice. The science fiction part of the story was a new twist I had yet to see, but why not? Why does everything in this genre have to be Maltese Falcon-ish?

The story was fairly short which I’m curious about. All in all, I had no complaints. It was different, well-written and completed submerged me in Madison’s world. It wasn’t a world I was expecting, but that simply made it one of those pleasant reading discoveries which is why we pick up a book in the first place.    

Before I go I want to thank everyone for allowing me to spend a good chunk of the year promoting Seeing Ghosts. It’s been a long year from teasers to cover reveals to event day to book tour, and I appreciate you allowing me to do that. I will attempt to back off from that now and talk about other things. Of course I’m still trying to sell it. I just don’t want to inundate you with all of that ad nauseum! I thank those of you who have picked up a copy, those who’ve added it to their GoodReads TBR piles, those who’ve reviewed it, and even those among you who have not yet decided. Everything’s appreciated.

Take care and have a great week.

We’ll talk soon.