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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.