Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mayans and Liberals Got it Wrong?

Well, here it is. December 22nd, 2012 and we're all catching another sunrise. But for centuries, people all over the world lived their lives with that little thought poking through the backs of their minds that asked, "What if the Mayans were right?"

The Mayans were right. The Mayan calendar factually represented a phase of time in the course of the history of our civilization. Our sun was at the high point of an eleven-year cycle of solar activity (read MSE or Mass Solar Ejection) and, at some point during the day of the twenty-first, the sun was aligned along the galactic center. This is something that happens only once every twenty-six thousand years, so it was quite a special event.

My personal belief? The Mayan people, for the most part, went extinct before they started another calendar. And why would they continue the calendar they made. They did not make a calendar to cover the millions of years before their civilization came into being. They did the same thing most other religions do, they used a "creation story" to explain how the world as they knew it came to be.

So, the Mayans did not necessarily have it wrong, we just interpreted their calendar incorrectly. Much the same as we are interpreting the current and sudden debate on our gun control laws.

Yes, I'm going to go there.

The recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary and the surrounding community of Newtown, Connecticut were tragic, to say the least. Unfortunately some politicians, including our President, have chosen to use this tragedy to promote their own agendas.

Wait, don't stop reading just yet! Let me explain.

First, I am an advocate of proper control of the distribution of weapons of mass murder in our country. I believe that lawmakers should engage in meaningful discussion and debate over what types of firearms and high-capacity magazines should be made more difficult to obtain, if not illegal.

But now, so close after this time of tragedy and pain, is not the time to begin this discussion. Lawmakers should be concentrating wholeheartedly, on the fiscal crisis that faces our nation.

I do not make this statement without reservation. I do not want to lessen or demean the importance and impact of this recent tragedy, I'm just not happy with the event being turned into another play on the field of political football.

The political discussion, opened by our president and supported by millions of citizens currently overcome with emotion from the recent tragedy, was all about assault weapons. I'll use the three major shootings recently in the news (although there have been others) as an example to lead you to the fact that the only assault weapon (mock assault rifle) used in these shootings was in Aurora, Colorado. The most recent shooting involved no assault weapons, so why open the discussion with them? True assault weapons are already difficult to obtain. The so-called "Gun Show Purchase" debate is meaningless. The rules of purchase do not change if buying any gun at a gun show. This non-truth is just another play to stir the emotions of unknowing citizens.

The answer is simple: It is politically advantageous at this time. It has nothing to do with what is right or wrong for the American people, it served only as a means to attempt to push through legislation using the highly volatile emotional state of citizens at this time.

I personally have no need for an assault style weapon and couldn't care less whether they are available or not, but one must understand that we live in the real world where these weapons have already been manufactured. If you make ownership of such a weapon a criminal act, studies from many countries enacting such legislation (beside Australia. More on that later) have had minimal impact on the number of crimes committed using such weapons. Why? because crimes are usually not committed by law-abiding citizens, and when they are, the citizen, having been law-abiding and registering their gun properly, is held criminally responsible for their actions.

I must also add that, in most of the countries in which these studies have been conducted such as UK, Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands, laws extend very far beyond just the restriction of assault weapons to rifles, handguns, and in some cases, knives. In these countries, the citizens are almost completely disarmed, yet the impact on the amount of criminal acts using said weaponry has not decreased significantly.

How can this be? It is very simple: Making it a criminal act to obtain certain weaponry will not deter criminals from obtaining such weaponry. The only affect will be to make it easier for criminals to perform acts of crime using guns without fear of like reprisal.

I know, I got off track but one must understand that, while I would gladly support a meaningful discussion on the possession of assault weapons at any other time, I am fearful that, under this administration, the discussion will be maneuvered far beyond that of assault weapons, and when bills are drafted and signed into law, either by proxy vote, majority vote (like our health care law) or simple executive order, they will cover much more than a simple restriction on assault weapons or magazine capacity.

I would advocate a meaningful discussion on types of firearms allowed along with a firm commitment to building on something that has nearly become extinct in our nation:

personal responsibility.

Yes, I understand that all my liberal friends are going to say "but we are a nation of laws" but I will respond with "You have no idea how little separates a nation of laws from a nation of social monarchy."

Most of my military friends understand, that is military who have actually been in foreign nations and had to move among truly lawless peoples, If a criminal decides to take your possessions, your virtue, your life, the only way to preserve that which you love is by force because I guarantee you, that is how they will be attempting to take it.

Keep in mind that the deranged shooter in Aurora, Colorado chose the theater he would commit his crime in out of six others within a twenty-minute drive from his apartment. One was closer than the one he chose. And, although this was likely not reported by MSNBC, CBS, ABC, or even CNN, the movie theater he entered was the only one out of the seven possibilities that had a posted "no gun" rule within their property. Was it simply chance that the shooter drove past a nearer theater and also avoided the largest theater in the city for the one he chose - unlikely.

In the most recent tragedy, it is believed that the young man was enraged that his mother was going to have him committed to a psychiatric hospital. He did not choose assault weapons, he chose what was available. That, my friends cannot be regulated by law. Actions such as this can only be minimized by parents teaching their children personal responsibility and providing them with a moral grounding and a deep respect for life.

If you think our government can "ensure nothing like this ever happens again" by simply criminalizing the ownership of certain weapons (of which, very few are actually used in such crimes) then you have already fallen prey to letting emotional feelings get in the way of rational thinking.

Please keep in mind that I'm not advocating doing nothing. I personally see no reason to allow ownership of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines but I understand that the act of merely criminalizing ownership of such weaponry will not deter those using them for criminal acts. I also understand that laws are needed to provide guidance of what is right, and clear repercussions if not adhered to, but personal responsibility and moral guidance is only found through the actions of our governmental leadership and our families. Notice, I did not say "Laws enacted" I said "Actions." Military folks have heard this phrase used often - "Lead by example." How do we do this? not by politicizing tragedy and using emotional turmoil for your own agenda, but by doing the right thing at the right time. One simple question: why was this issue not brought up, bills written, and laws enacted from the beginning of 2009 to 2011 when our President's party held a congressional majority? Answer: because it wasn't politically advantageous at the time.

If this was something our administration truly considered important, than it would have (and should have) become an issue from the Trayvon Martin incident that our President became personally involved in, or after the Aurora, Colorado shootings. But why no call for "immediate and meaningful legislation" then? For answer, refer last statement in previous paragraph.

Now, I promised to talk about the success of Australia's strict gun control laws, so here's my take. There is no denying the effectiveness of Australia's very strict gun control measures but keep one thing in mind. While it is often cited that Australia's success is a call to America to enact stricter laws, Australia is an Island with water serving as a barrier to import of guns and ammunition while America is bordered by two other countries, one of which is notorious for it's lack of true gun control despite its legal efforts. We cannot simply declare guns of a certain nature "illegal" and expect criminals to not still obtain such guns. By doing so we favor gun related crimes with weapons that are not even registered or traceable.

To our government: Please don't accuse others of politicizing tragedy, and then use a tragic event to further your own political agenda.

Being prior military, I can tell that leadership (when lives are truly at stake) is an awesome responsibility not to be taken lightly. One cannot choose events that warrant a reaction. One can only prepare for such events, react honestly and precisely to events, and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS.

So, let's have the discussion on gun control but let's do it in a truly meaning matter when cooler heads prevail, not simply because it is politically advantageous at the time. Let us not use emotion to drive hasty decisions, let us use emotion to drive meaningful and intelligent discussion about something that is a matter truly unique to America more so than any other country as, unlike the majority of countries throughout the world, America was founded on principles of freedom, uniqueness, the ability to protect oneself and their family, and yes, sensationalism.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Winter Garden

My Grand kids loved their little raised gardens so much this year that we decided to extend the fun and plant a winter garden. Problem is, we just had a bit of a cold spell here in Southeast Alabama. I know, all my relatives from up North are probably laughing at me right now. After all, When I say "cold spell" it's relative to our usual climate.

Well, in a desperate attempt to save the onions, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and beans planted in our four little raised beds, I decided to build a greenhouse. So here it is. My first foray into self-sufficiency posted here for all to see.

I'm a cheap bastard so I attempted to build the greenhouse using as much salvaged lumber as possible. My list of materials consisted of a ten by twenty-five foot roll of clear plastic, ten (ten foot) lengths of one-half inch PVC pipe, six T-fittings, six cross fittings, and lots and lots of staples!

My afternoon project turned into a two day project as I had to sacrifice more of my old wooden fence that is being taken down (hopefully replaced with a nice white privacy fence soon) and also had to make another trip to the home store for another roll of clear plastic. I forgot that two ten-foot sections of PVC pipe put together equaled twenty foot. What can I say, math was never my strong subject.

So, here's the final product pictured below. I couldn't believe how quickly the little greenhouse heated up. It took about fifteen minutes for the temperature inside the plastic to rise about twenty degrees beyond that outside. I just hope I wasn't too late, and the plants will thrive in their new tropic environment.

I decided to forgo a fancy hinged door, for now anyway, and go with the tried and true military tent closure method. Around January or so, if it gets cold enough, I might consider making a solar heater run from a solar panel and an old computer fan. Stay tuned for that project.

I've also decided to try my hand at aquaponics next year. It's all part of my preparedness plan. I will also start experimenting with solar and wind power alternatives. Who knows, I may just have to splurge and put that rooftop solar collector array and make it a grid-tied system so I can cut my electric bill and get that thirty percent tax credit. Take advantage now folks. This may be your last chance to get any kind of break.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Scary Political Season

With the last debate behind us, we're in the home stretch to to election day. Our political candidates have put themselves into overdrive, crisscrossing the nation, trying to hit all those states in question and answer to the lies put forth by whoever was there before them.

I almost became politically active this year. I say "almost" because I find it hard to make a choice when I'm so disappointed all the political rhetoric lately. Each candidate is guilty of not telling the truth about their own beliefs and giving a clear plan. And, I guess the real bottom line is that I agree with certain aspects of each side of our political system while vehemently disagreeing with others. I find myself conservative on some issues while liberal on others.

I hope there are many others falling into my category of thought. I remember a time when our two political parties would fight and argue, filibuster and stall; but in the end, things would get done for the good of our nation. Compromises would be made. Each member of congress, whether house or senate, felt it their duty to do right by those who voted them into the positions they held. I thing that now we have a vast number of career politicians that tend to forget about the people who put them their, and work only to satisfy those special interest groups that provided them the most money while campaigning.

Okay, this is me stepping off my soapbox. This is really not the platform for that anyway. What I really wanted to write about today was my recent news, and it does have something (maybe very little) to do with politics.

Last week, all of my workmates and I were mucking it up about a co-worker that had recently been summoned to jury duty. I had mentioned that I'd never been given the honor of jury duty and we all laughed at the thought that it was an honor.

When I arrived home that evening and checked my mailbox, I found a letter from our local county courthouse. The letter was a summons for jury duty--the timing was most ironic.

So now I'll be showing up at the courthouse tomorrow for my first (an maybe last) day of jury duty. Since I've never done this before, I'm kind of excited. Do I wear a tie and suit jacket? Should I wear ripped jeans and a greasy t-shirt to ensure I won't be selected? Whatever I decide, I'm sure I'll enjoy this new experience and have to come back here and write about it.

After all, wherever I go, stupid and funny things happen. Just my luck, I guess.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Old and New

Yay, it's finally here! I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Yes folks, my new (old) typewriter arrived today via UPS. I am now the proud owner of a 1952 Smith-Corona Sterling model portable typewriter. It is funny that back in the day, this was considered portable when the shipping weight was just under twenty pounds.

I first learned to type in high school back in ... well, we'll just call it back in the day. We started out on manual typewriters and I later found the transition to an electric typewriter difficult. I do remember that I did not do well in typing class. I'm pretty sure I signed up for the class for the same reason I attempted home-ec class--girls.

Back then, I wrote most of my work out longhand, mostly because most of my writing back then was four line limericks designed to draw attention from all my immature friends. I still have the first short story I wrote for an actual grade. It weighed in at a whopping three thousand words. While the page had relatively little red on it, I was given a poor grade. My teacher cited my choice of subject matter for my average grade. I'm almost certain she called the story "blasphemous" at some point.

One would think that such scorning would prompt me to give up lying, I mean, storytelling forever, but it had the opposite effect. That paper and the scorning it garnered only spurned me on to write more stories that I hoped would be considered even more blashpemous than the first.

I personally never saw what was so wrong with that story. It was a kind of alternate history science fiction about a small group of individuals forced to escape their home planet as it was being destroyed by meteors. Their departure was hastily thrown together and they could only make it to the next planet in the solar system. Most of the members in the craft died on impact at the new planet but two survived.

Yeah, this is where it gets a little predictable. The surviving member's names were Adam and Evek. Hey, give me a break, I was like thirteen years old. One cannot possibly be expected to come up with unique names at that young age. Anyway, you might have guessed by now that the planet they landed on was Earth, and the planet they came from was Mars. Again, I was young, cut me some slack!

This new typewriter brings back memories of clacking away at the keys, producing what I was sure would be the next great blockbuster hit. I felt like Heinlein himself when I was at the typewriter. I felt like I could easily become the next Lawrence Block, or at the very least, Jill Emerson with the use of this wonderful machine. The typewriter made my writing more ... understandable. I must admit, to this day, my handwriting is atrochious.

Now I can't wait to hear that long-remembered sound of those metal keys firmly striking the paper as I conjure up the next great sentence, phrase, or word. I will surely write some poetry on my new machine. Who knows, I might even finish that long-awaited mystery novel I've had on the back burner for years now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Just a Few Thoughts

Today I was surfing around the Interwebs in the few spare moments I stole between playing kickball with the grandson, flushing the shower pipes with Drano (don't ask) and spending that nine or so hours in that ether of my full-time job. Lo and behold, I just happened upon my own blog and realized I've not been tending it well over the last month.

Did I mention that I also planted the winter garden only to find animals of some kind (probably cats) ate up all my beans and spinach as soon as they sprouted? Well, there it is, but I've still got onions, lettuce, and broccoli left. I've also got a big ol' box of pellets for my pellet gun.

Anyway, I've realized that I need to get back to my roots. I've spent the last year working and writing "other" stories instead of my beloved speculative fiction, mystery, and adventure stories. I did manage to complete a novel under my pen name. And no, it's not porn. It just happens to be paranormal romantic suspense, and I'm very proud of it, thank you very much!

It seems my venture into writing under my pen name has taken over and left little time for anything else. Well, now I've come full circle and am ready to return home. So, in the near future, one can expect more strolls down memory lane, rants about neighborhood cats, and writing about writing. Beforehand though, I still have to finish one last smut (okay, erotic fiction) story, and the third and fourth novel in my Immortal Desires series. I may combine book three and four to make an epic fantasy but that might limit my ability to sell paperback books.

I've also realized, after having very limited success writing under a pen name, that writing for the reader of more adult oriented stories can be addictive. Seriously, it's like playing slot machines or binge drinking for weeks at a time. The stories are relatively easy to write, although I still persist on quality, even if I'm writing something titled "Fantasy League" about a woman using her, uh ... assets ... to break her husband of his fantasy football infatuation.

The truth of the matter is, sex sells, and I must admit that it is a good feeling to publish something independently and see it climb the ladder at Amazon. I guess it's something akin to instant gratification, although any writer will tell you there's no such thing as instant gratification. Three months from the first typed word to selling on Amazon is about as instant as it gets in the writing world. For a writer though, that's pretty fast.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still write using my pen name but I've decided that I must find a way and find the time to write some of the work I love best. So, stay tuned because you'll likely see posts of story excerpts, rants about everything under the sun, and even some of my weird poetry on this blog in the near future.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bear Attack!

Night before last, as I attended a local writer's group meeting (kind of like AA except none of us can agree on the twelves steps we must follow to become better writers) and listened to one of our members explain a poem she wrote, a memory flashed across my mind. That's how memories work for me these days; they run across my mind like a bolt of lightning in a stormy night sky. If I do not immediately stop what I'm doing and write the information down, it is lost forever. It's like trying to catch the lightning with a flyswatter, while it's fun to watch someone else try, it remains rather difficult when attempting it myself. (Adjectives added for Karen who, I know, loves them.)

What caused this sudden flash of memory was when she explained how she could become like a protective mama bear when needed.

Mama bear. Bear.

Memories of a childhood camping trip flooded my mind. The memory came back to me like an epiphany, immensely powerful and equally fleeting. So, I'll remember what I can and take an example from our politicians, just filling in the rest with lies

I was a young child, although I can't remember exactly what age. I was probably just entering my teens since that's when most of the stupid funny stuff began happening in my life. This particular weekend, we were camped out at a public campground along the Skokomish River. Although it was a public camping site, we were the only people there. I mean ... honestly, who really enjoyed camping in the 1970's when there was disco and color television. For us though, camping was different. We were poor. We weren't inner-city poor where subsidized housing and welfare was available to help get one through the hard times. No, we were country (Hillbilly) poor where we worked at least forty hours a week in a blue-collar job so we could make our mortgage payments and spent the little money we had left over to raise chickens and pigs--just in case we needed food in the winter. I remember a few winters when the chickens around our house became quite scarce.

Yes, we went camping because someone in our family had us all convinced that packing up a bunch of gear, suffering an exhaustive ride hunkered down in the back of a musty, gas-smelling, sauna-like truck camper, and hoping like hell we could catch some fish at the river because that was our dinner, was some kind of vacation. Well, I do have to admit, there was always a remote chance that, while camping, we (all the kids) would be treated to a meal at one of the few restaurants the local villages offered. Were not talking big city here, were talking about towns with names like Hoodsport, Lilliwaup, and Duckabush. Bet you've never heard of those towns before. Of course, you may have found familiarization if I'd mentioned a little town called "Forks" but that's on the other side of the Olympic mountains and only became famouse when someone who'd never been there before wrote a trilogy using the town as a backdrop.

Anyway, this was one of those rare occasions when the adults called us all together and told us to load up in the back of the truck. We were all smiles and giddiness as we watched the small group of trailers, parked in a semi-circle around a central campfire as if we'd circled the wagons, disappear through the pine trees. We were treated to our favorite meal at none other than the Hungry Bear cafe. The Hungry Bear offered the biggest hamburger I'd ever seen, and an order of homemade french fries so large it required its own plate. That's how we ate. We were all about the meat and potatoes back then. I mean, don't get me wrong, we had vegetables too if you include the onion, pickle, and lettuce on the hamburger. Oh, and of course, Ketchup counted as a vegetable too.

Hours later, as we pulled back into our campsite, we noticed some strange markings on the trailer that belonged to my second cousin. Upon closer investigation, we found a window broken and what look like a large bloody paw print streaked glaringly across the white paint of the trailer.

Of course we all became very excited about the prospect of some large bear in our camp. Feelings were mixed. Some wondered if perhaps the bear was still somewhere near, lurking just beyond the shadow of the treeline ready to charge back into our camp and finish us off. Others were prepared to round up a posse and hunt the bear down. One thing was certain, in that instance of seeing the bloody prints on the trailer, we were all sure beyond any doubt that we had been visited by a bear. I stood just outside the tight circle formed by the adults and listened as they discussed their options in hushed voices.

"You think the bear was looking for food?" I heard my Uncle Bob say.

"We can't be sure it came from a bear," my father countered. "Could've been a mountain lion, or even a sasquatch."

Yes, we believed in Sasquatch, but that's another story.

Needless to say, by the time all the adults gathered up their guns, and us kids were spooled up into a near frenzy, another truck pulled into our little campsite. Two young men got out of the truck and I could not help but notice, one of them had a hand wrapped in gauze.

The two young men explained that they were tossing a football when one of them threw long and sent the other running. In his haste to catch the ball and keep it from going through the window of the trailer, the second man explained that he put his hand through the window instead. His injuries were bad enough that they immediately drove to a nearby clinic to get him bandaged up. They apologized and offered to pay for the broken window before moving on to their own campsite.

Well, that was a letdown. All of us kids slumped our shoulders in defeat and desperation. We found the fantasy of some beast busting through a window much more appealing than two dudes playing football. With their departure, we were forced to find other things to occupy us. I think I took a hike upstream looking for that massive buck that would attack me so I would have to slay it with my hunting knife. Yes those were my dreams of the time. I was still in my Grizzly Adams stage then.

It is strange to think that fantasy is sometimes so much more entertaining than reality. Nowadays I treasure the thought of joining fantasy and reality together in my stories. It is fascinating to me that one simple word uttered in the context of something foreign to me can spawn such a vivid memory from so long ago.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to School

The time is upon us. Time is at hand! Battle stations, everyone! It's time for the kids to go back to school.

I'll keep this post short in support of those running around making last-minute preparations, search every store from her to the Jersey shore for that Justin Bieber lunch box their child simply must have.

Even though my own children are all grown and on their own now, I feel your pain. Our Grandson was accepted into a pre-K program at the school my wife works at - in another county! This means that, in order to accommodate his enrollment, we must provide transportation to said school in another county.

So, we will be taking in another resident to our house for the school year. My grandson will be living with us about four days a week so we can wake him at the crack of dawn. Of course, would could not just buy a new bed and make him up a room. We also have a Granddaughter that would be awfully upset if we did not invite her over as well. So, it looks like bunk beds.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon putting together a new set of bunk beds but I must say they look cute and I can't wait for the Grandkids to have the bunk bed experience.

Seeing the bunk beds all put together brought back some childhood memories. My brother and I shared a bedroom when we were young, and, of course, that meant bunk beds. We would fight over who got to sleep on top. It was the job of the one sleeping on the bottom bunk to harass the one on top. I remember kicking at the slats on the top bunk until, one by one, they fell down until the mattress above threatened to fall through. Never mind that the mattress would fall, with its occupant, one top of the one below. (Hey, I never claimed to be the saltiest french fry in the box)

Well, now it seems the manufacturer must have hired some designers with bunk bed sleeping experience. The slats are now screwed into the frame, preventing them from falling through.

The bunk beds are also much larger than I remember. Of course, my Grandchildren are only three and four years old. I slept in a bunk bed until I was about fourteen.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Note to Local Politicians

Just wanted to put this out there. Driving back and forth along the highway into our little town, I'm constantly reminded of our upcoming local election. This year, the good citizens of my little burg will decide whether they want to keep our current mayor for another term, or elect someone new. Also up for grabs are five city council seats.

The other thing I cannot help but notice is the one or two candidates that feel they absolutely must use their nickname enclosed in parentheses within the small space provided on their roadside campaign signs.

Just a word. The first thing that comes to mind as I read your campaign sign that says Billy Joe "Bubba" Jones, I cannot help but wonder if you realize you are no longer sitting in high school gym class, slapping your buddy's ass and talking about how far you got with your girlfriend this weekend.

Running our city is serious business, and I simply refuse to speak of serious matters with a city council person that prefers I call them "Home-slice."

I can only assume that other citizens feel the same, whether they will admit to it or not.

I mean, hey, just because wearing pants under boxers may be popular at the moment, doesn't make it right. I'm certain the whole nickname thing was a wash after "Maverick" and "Goose" were taken by those darn movie actors.

Thank you. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Help a Starving Artist

Okay, so I'm not much of an artist and anyone who's seen me lately can attest to the fact that I am anything but starving.

Well, maybe starving for attention, fortune and fame, and all the problems that come with it. I'm a firm believer that, even though lottery winners and the like talk about all the problems associated with their wealth, I'd still like to discover for myself whether these are really problems.

With that said, I'd like to formally announce the release of a new Paranormal Romantic Suspense Novel that I'm sure you'll love (because it was written by my alter ego) and ask for your support in viewing the pages, buying, reading, reviewing, or even something so small as 'liking' the appropriate sales page.

Come on, Show some love!

Anyway, I'm really excited about this release and cannot wait to hear back from those reading the story. If you are a reviewer, and would like to receive a review copy, please email:

Here's the links:

Lexi's Run for Kindle

Lexi's Run paperback book (268 pages)

Lexi's Run for Nook (ebook and paperback)

Lexi's Run at Smashwords

This novel will also be available at all other major outlets such as apple ibooks, diesel, kobo, and others,  within the next couple of weeks.

Now, back to your regular scheduled programming of advice for the zombie apocalypse, cat removal, Daleville Dan, and childhood antics.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Still Hanging in There

Don't worry folks, I haven't sailed over the edge of our flat Earth or won the State Lottery and forgotten my former life (that's right, my state doesn't have a lottery) and am still alive and kicking.

Lately, I've been rather preoccupied with finishing the draft of a new novel. It was written under my pen name but don't worry Grandma, this one is not erotica. I will sell this book in the paranormal romantic suspense genre. Why yes, of course it has werewolves. Would you expect me to write anything else? I save the science fiction and mystery for my real name.

Anyway, I'm back now, and with this being an election year AND an Olympics year, I'm sure I will have much to opine.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

10 Things to Remember if You Want to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Lately, there's been much talk about the coming zombie apocalypse. Movies and television are all over the subject, depicting how life might be after the apocalypse in nearly every conceivable way. Some of the media do a decent job of depicting how society might act in the name of survival after the event but others are misleading at best. So, to ensure you have the best chance of survival after the zombie apocalypse, I've made a list of ten things you will need to understand if you hope to live longer than twelve hours after you realize your aunt Mable and uncle Frank have transformed into flesh-eating monsters.

1. Friends?
You have no friends - Don't think you're going be meeting any new friends after the zombie apocalypse. Most anybody you meet will be looking out for themselves and/or their immediate families. You'd be surprised just how far a person is willing to go, or who they're willing to kill (zombie or not) to protect themselves and their loved ones. In fact, it would be wise to watch your own family closely. You never know when Sister Suzy is going to turn, and you must be prepared to do what is necessary to preserve the rest of the family. Don't get any ideas about saving family members that are turned to zombies. Once you've gone zombie, there ain't no coming back--it's a one-way trip and any zombie should be considered dead as soon as they turn.

2. Home is where the heart (and untainted brain) is.
All that BS you see in the movies and on television about getting together a group and forming some kind of flower-holding, people-hugging, share-and-share-alike commune in the 'safe zone' is hookie. If you try to negotiate the badlands without a whole bunch of weaponry and a truck to carry all the ammo you'll need, you're just asking to get killed, or worse yet, turned. Your efforts would best be utilized securing your home rather than leaving it. The only exception might be if you live in an urban area and the community is overrun with zombies. But then, you might be out of luck anyway so you still might be better off just locking yourself in and waiting out the horde.

3. Stocking up.
There is much dispute over what kind of foods one should stock up on in preparation for the coming zombie apocalypse. Some so-called experts say to get hold of as much freeze-dried (or astronaut) foods as possible. Those are the advocates of travel. I'm not an advocate of travel during the zombie apocalypse. While there is certainly nothing wrong with freeze-dried foods, their disadvantages outweigh advantages. First off, canned foods can perform double-duty as weaponry in a pinch. If you stock up on actual 'cans' of food, you can always throw them at zombies if your circumstances are dire and you are just trying to slow them down. Another advantage to canned food is the water content. Freeze-dried food needs water, and sometimes heat, to reconstitute. The last thing one needs while holed up during the zombie apocalypse is to run out of water, which leads to the next item.

4. Secure your water.
One can survive for weeks, or even a month without food but only days without water. During the coming zombie apocalypse, water will become not only a resource but a commodity. Water is the one thing most take for granted until it's no longer available. Within days of the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse, one can assume water and utility systems will cease to function. The best short-term solution in this situation is to purchase a product called the 'Aqua Pod' system. This water bag fits into your bathtub and can be purchased in capacities up to one hundred gallons. The bag can be placed and filled at the first sign of zombie breakout. Keep in mind that, as a minimum, each person needs at least one gallon of water per day just to survive. So, under the best circumstances, a one hundred gallon aqua pod will sustain a family of five for up to twenty days. Of course, if you find yourself in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, you're not under the best circumstances. Always have a backup plan for more sustainable water sources such as local ponds, roof run off or hidden supply storage. Also, Don't be a moron and start using your stored water as soon as the bag is filled. Continue to use utility water sources as long as they are available. Water purification systems are a must, even if local utility water systems are still operational. Remember, the water may still flow but there will be no one recharging the chlorine stations along the water's path.

5. Medical supplies.
One of the best things one can do to ensure survival during the zombie apocalypse is to have proper medical supplies on hand. I'm not talking about that little red pouch with a white cross on it you bought at Walmart. A cheap little plastic kit with outdated band aids and a minuscule tube of antibiotic ointment won't cut it in the all out kill or be killed battlefield of the zombie apocalypse. For this level of survival you'll need something with a little more bite. Your best best is to stuff a satchel with enough gauze to cover your body twice, Ibuprofen, not that weak-ass acetaminophen, and a good supply of blood-clotting agent. You'll also want a surgical sewing kit and antibiotics you can't get over-the-counter. Yes, my fellow survivors, for the kind of antibiotics you'll need in this war, you'll have to go to your local pet store. I'm talking fish antibiotics.

6. Fall back plan.
As soon as you've secured your primary domicile, you'll want to scout out a fall back position in case your primary residence is overrun. This may even involve digging yourself an alternate means of escape with a ready source of transportation available. Speaking of transportation, now's as good time as any to discuss mobility.

7. Transportation.
If you must move about during the zombie apocalypse, then remember this:  Size Matters! I know times are tough right now and you're driving around in that six hundred pound, low-slung hybrid, but during the coming zombie apocalypse, that ain't gonna cut it. I'm not saying you have to go out and buy yourself that shiny new 4X4 that appeals to your Southern sensibilities, but you might just start looking in your neighbor's yard now to lay claim on their 4X4 after they turn and you shoot them. I know that may seem harsh but if you are unsure about the moral implications of shooting your friends in the head, refer to item number one.

8. Weaponry.
One rule I've learned about guns while living in the South is that you can never have too many. While this is certainly true if you've got the ammo to go them, it may not be so advantageous when a massive horde of hungry zombies have just scratched a hole in the front door, and are coming through as you stand there with your Czech-made CZ45 pocket pistol in .25 calibre and only two cartridges to your name. Your best bet is to gather up a few weapons of varying caliber and place them throughout your house where they can be best utilized. A 30-06 with a scope is a great long range rifle and should be placed near upstairs windows where a sentry can start shooting zombies from a distance. The advantage here is that, from a great distance, one might also shoot a lone runner in the stomach or leg and then pick off as much of the zombie horde one by one as they converge on the wounded human. I know it sounds sick to do something like this, but hey this is survival after all. Although the cartridges are slightly less popular at this time, a .270 also makes a great long-range weapon. The kick is less and the bullet flies straighter in this caliber. Nothing beats an assortment of 12 gauge shotguns near the entrances in case the horde gets through. A nine millimeter or .22 caliber handgun (never a revolver) should be worn at all times and used when all other longer-range weaponry is exhausted. As a last resort, one should also carry some kind of melee weapon such as an axe, axe handle, baseball bat, good curved-blade sword, or a simple spike made of metal. Of course, if you are stuck inside a building with a horde of zombies on you and nothing left but a baseball bat, I'm sorry to say but you're probably not going to make it. This would be a good time to consider sacrificing yourself to allow your loved-ones an escape.

9. Keep on Keeping on.
Most of the items discussed so far have dealt with short-term survival. It is equally important to gear your thinking toward the long-term. Sooner or later your water supply is going to run out, your canned food is going to get eaten or thrown at zombies. So, you must have within your grand plans, some methods of sustainment. First, consider where you're going to get water. A simple shallow well may not give you a source of water your local utilities would approve of but, if sterilized, will keep you alive indefinitely. Keep seeds from the vegetables you eat so you can plant them later. If you live in house with a flat roof, or have a carport with a relatively flat roof, you have a potential garden area that is safe from wandering zombies. Just make sure your structure can support the added weight of the dirt you'll have to heave onto the roof. Consider composting early to help your garden grow. Be cautious about shooting wild animals or livestock in the area. Your best bet is to shoot them early because the longer they are exposed, the greater the chance they will be infected. Meat can be dried, salted and preserved for future consumption. Also, don't hesitate to shoot you family pet for food. I know it sounds morbid, but you can think of it as one more thing they've provided you. Besides, chances are, you'll end up shooting them when they're turned anyway, but then you can't eat them.

10. Adhere to the Girl Scout Motto.
Yep, all this stuff I'm talking about should be considered BEFORE the initial breakout spawning the zombie apocalypse. BE PREPARED. Gather your supplies beforehand and make at least an initial plan for survival. While I meant for this post to be a long drawn-out, comedic look at future possibilities, it really is a serious matter. I'm not saying that the zombie apocalypse is impending but my main point of being prepared can be useful for any possible natural or man made disaster. This same information can apply whether you find yourself in the midst of a storm, tornado, or even economic collapse.

What are your thoughts? Do have any advice you'd like to add to help others prepare for natural or man made disasters, or even the zombie apocalypse?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tom Cruise and The End of the World

It's official. Tom Cruise is set to trumpet in the end of the world. That is, if you believe in that sort of thing. How is it that Tom Cruise can have anything to do with the end of the world, you might ask? To answer, I must digress just a little, and fill you in on some background.

Le'me esplain.

I'm a big fan of the Jack Reacher series, written by Lee Child. I've read every one his books have since grown to love the predictable yet always entertaining characters.

Jack Reacher is a mountain of a man, former military, and now professional badass, he travels America on his debit card and finds himself in a new town on occasion. Wherever he lands though, he always seems to find trouble, or at the very least, injustice. He stands nearly six foot five inches tall, weights over two hundred-twenty pounds and has hands like a catcher's mitt. Basically, he's like an over sized James Bond without the refinement--my kind of person.

Not unlike other successful books, one of Jack Reacher books has been optioned for a movie. Well ladies and gentleman, filming has recently wrapped and the movie is now in post production. How does Tom Cruise fit into all of this? He's the actor casted to play the part of Jack Reacher. Remember me mentioning earlier that Jack Reacher was nearly six and a half feet tall?

It boggles my mind that they somehow managed to cast the diminutive Tom Cruise in this part. Are they going to use whatever technology they used in Lord of the Rings to make the rest of the cast look smaller? Is he going to stand on a box or something? I don't know but what disturbs me even more is that Lee Child is not only aware of the casting choice, he's okay with it.

The only saving grace to this disturbing news is that they've also casted Rosamund Pike in the movie. It took me some time to remember where I'd seen her before, then it came to me like a day dream during math class. She starred in the James Bond movie "Die Another Day" opposite Halle Berry. She was the blonde bombshell that played a needy little confused school girl until she turned out to be a baddy in the end. Of course, by then, she'd already had her way with James Bond. Or, did he have his way with her, I can't remember.

I suppose I'll just have to trust the judgement of the director in their choice of cast, but the movie is set to open on December 21, 2012 and I'll be all kinds of upset if my last evening in the world is spent watching Tom Cruise attempt to play someone twice his size in a movie!

Is it coincidence that Tom Cruise plays Jack Reacher in a movie coming out on the world's last day (according to the Mayans)? I just hope my money's not wasted on the movie. Oh yeah, I'm going to see the movie!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crazy Friends in my Head

Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. I've known her for awhile now, although she just recently moved here from New York, where her short-lived college education preceded an equally short-lived career as a model.

Her family lives in Dothan Alabama, and that's why she's here-It's hard to live in New York with no job and no money, so she moved back to her home town to get her feet back on the ground. Her family is rather peculiar, being of Irish descent and a prior military family. Her father settled in the local area after his military career where he completed a second career as a local police officer and detective. Her mother has worked on and off over the years whenever need but mostly just spends her time supporting the local Catholic Church and perfecting her superpower.

What's her superpower, you ask? She has the uncanny ability to bring guilt into the mind and body of every person coming within twenty feet of her.

My friend's name is Katherine Mary McKendry but everyone just calls her Kat.

It seems she's found herself in some trouble. I know, she just recently arrived home, how could she have found trouble already? Well, Just like her mom has the superpower of casting guilt upon the unsuspecting, Kat has the ability to quickly find herself some trouble, no matter where she goes. Now, it seems she's found trouble that may land her in jail, or even cost her, her life.

Here's just really, really short synopsis of how she found this latest trouble. No, I really mean it. This story won't take long at all, so hold on to your britches and keep reading.

Just about a week after she arrived back in her old stomping ground, her best friend from high school invited her to her house for some kind of soiree her husband was throwing for his recent promotion to district manager of the local bank chain.

It was there that Kat witness her best friend's husband fall to the floor, convulse, and die. It didn't take long for the medical examiner to rule his death as homicide from poisoning, and all evidence pointing to his wife as the perpetrator. Now her best friend is sitting in jail. She's asked, no, she pleaded for Kat to help her and swore she did not kill her own husband.

Now, Kat being Kat decided to take on her friend's request and become her only advocate in the quest to find her innocence. Of course, she has no idea what she's doing and has already gotten herself put on the police suspect list.

Oh, one other thing - Kat only exists in my mind. She's a fictitious character I've been working with for years now in my attempt to complete a mystery/amateur sleuth novel that refuses to get out of my head. I have a whole list of unique (some might even say flat, one-dimensional, and stereotypical) characters to work with but my plots still seem to fall short. I've written this thing in first-person, third-person, past-tense, present-tense, you name it. I always seem to peter out by about thirty thousand words.

But this Summer my friends, this summer I swear I'll push through the barrier and come up with something brilliant (if only brilliant to me) to show for my work. So, don't be surprised if some of my future posts are laced with these characters and sprinkled with all that writing stuff.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blogging Newby

Lately, I've seen many of my blogging friends posting at other blogs, or participating in blog hops. I must now ask, What the heck is a blog hop?

I now understand, more than ever, what a complete blogging newb I am. I don't really understand what a blog hop, blog tour, blog challenge, guest blog, or any of these things are.

Can someone please shed some light on how all this stuff works? If you would like, I would even let you post an article here as a guest blogger.

All these things never really made an appearance on my radar until just yesterday when I read an article on promoting your written work and building an audience. One of the key items mentioned was participating in a blog tour/guest blog.

So, here it is, my rant for the day. Okay, not a rant, really. More a plea for help or a teacher to enlighten me on all things blog.

Comments welcome.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Common Decency

Some may find the title to this post a little disheartening. Some may find it a little misleading.

Yes, the title is somewhat of an oxymoron since decency is not so common nowadays. Oh how I remember those days long ago when one would naturally open a door for someone, man or woman, as they entered a building. Gone are the days when a person would actually look down at the paper wrapper they just dropped on the floor. Ancient are the days when that person would actually consider picking it up and putting it into a local trash can.

I don't know what happened to this trait so many desired in the past. It almost seems people go out of their way to "get what's theirs" despite how it might affect others. And, this attitude has seeped through out American culture, rising all the way to the top of our government. Or, could it have started and the top and trickled down? I think it could be a little of both.

A prime example of this can be found in the current argument between opposing parties of our government over taxes and fairness. One one hand, our current administration proclaims that it's time those rich folks (those making over 2 million annually) kick in their fair share of taxes in order to scratch down our national debt and fund green energy programs. (although many are under the false assumption that these funds will be utilized to expand social programs.) This is a great concept as long as people are gullible enough to buy into it -- and so far, this seems to be the case.

What I don't understand is how people can completely fail to see the reality of this path. It we continue to take monies from the richest people in our nation to uphold a comfortable standard of living for the poor, then those rich people will eventually run out of resources or put their money elsewhere (read, overseas) until the burden will eventually fall squarely upon the middle. For those with limited memory of high school history, or basic economics, this leveling of society into one tier where everyone is given a fair share no matter what their contribution is called socialism.

I do my best not to get into the political quagmire, so I will also bring up the view from the other side. Now, in complete defiance to the thought of those richest people in America paying their fair share, many politicians spew hatred upon this plan, insisting that, if you overburden those that create jobs, there will be no jobs, or jobs will simply go elsewhere.

What I don't understand is why we cannot just come up with a fair tax system in which everyone pays a certain percentage of their earnings back to the government to offset the services the government provides, such as security, financial help, and yes, social programs. It all seems so simple to me that I feel I must be missing something. Why not just simplify the system and get rid of loopholes so that, by way of example, the business or individual making three million a year will simply pay say ten percent of that, or three-hundred thousand dollars in taxes. Likewise, the person on welfare (since that should be considered income) making sixteen thousand dollars per year would be responsible for the same ten percent (even though they were given the money by the government) and would pay sixteen hundred dollars in annual taxes.

I just don't get it. why couldn't something like this work? It seems to me that a simple system such as this would completely eliminate large corporations, or even individuals using loopholes to pay nearly nothing while, at the same time, requiring a sense of responsibility to be maintained by those wholly supported by government through annual tax payment.

It seems like a start to a fair, sane plan to me. But, I suppose our new world is not so sane. In the end, it all comes back to common decency. That's what determines fairness for all.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Slapped in the Face with Technology

Last night, I finally made my entrance into this new high-tech world of ours.

I walked into my local Verizon store, and told the first sales representative I saw that I was ready to buy a smart phone.

Yes folks, it true. I've been holding onto what I once thought was a smart phone for years now. Except, I guess my old phone was long ago demoted to "Multimedia" phone.

Of course, not really knowing what I needed, and motivated by jealousy, since the oldest person in the office where I work finally got a smart phone of his own leaving me the only person still clinging hopelessly to the twentieth century, I allowed the salesperson to talk me into the latest high-tech gadget - the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx!

It's really more of a computer than a phone. I'm still contemplating bringing it back and getting something ... simpler. To make matters worse, I couldn't figure out how to get the contacts from my old phone into the dad blasted thing. Then, my daughter came to the house and, in what seemed a flurry of finger swipes and taps, pulled pictures off the Internet and had my first contact all nestled into my contact screen.

"See dad, It's really not that bad," She said. And then added, "I'll trade you my phone for this one if you can't handle it."

I can handle it just fine!

Well, it's been three hours since she worked her magic and I've managed to put two more contact names into the list. Yay, only one hundred-seventy more to go!

Can't I just learn a new language or something? I never realized I'd have to learn to think all over again to operate a phone. I don't know. I'm thinking Swahili, or Mystico.

Damn, it sucks getting old!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse Survival

I wanted to create a huge post to serve as a guide for surviving the coming zombie apocalypse, but that would've taken a long time to develop.

Frankly, we don't have that kind of time!

So, instead, I'll post thoughts in a series of small sections, each one covering a specific subject.

For this post, I'll talk about the most basic of needs (outside of a good supply of soft, yet strong toilette paper) during the zombie apocalypse - weapons. I'll evaluate several weapons by comparing them to those found on the AMC television series, The Walking Dead.

Yes, I'm one of THOSE people. I've recently become a fan of the show. I even stay up extra late and watch the after show, The Talking Dead.

Onward ... to the weaponry!

In the show, Daryl carries a crossbow. He also keeps a handgun in the side pouch of his motorcycle when Rick's son hasn't stolen it from him.

While a crossbow is certainly effective at close range, it's major downfall is limited ammo. For those of you who watch the show as diligently as I, you probably noticed that by the end of the second season, Daryl had only one bolt left in the carrier. That would suck a whole bunch when faced with a massive horde of zombies like they all face in the last episode. The handgun is also great at close range, but you still have to be able to get to it in a hurry. Duh, that's what they made holsters for ... Daryl.

Speaking of Rick's son, Rick Grimes also carries a handgun. He's a little smarter about it, being a sheriff's deputy and all, and carries his in a holster. Rick is also good at using any available weapon found close-at-hand. The knife, or any other handheld weapon is great for conserving ammo and keeping quiet but understand that one must get real close and personal to force the edge of a knife into the skull of even the most dastardly zombie. Most will find it hard to gather the required intestinal fortitude to get this close. Besides, it is actually quite difficult to put even a sharpened blade through a skull. It's one of the hardest and well-constructed bone structures in the human body.

Edge weapons, blunt weapons, and even rocks are all great as a last resort, but nothing beats a gun and a bullet.

Case in point:  Way back in the olden days, I was involved in a military action that left me stranded in the middle of the night, in a foreign country, with bad guys chasing me. (Don't ask for details, I won't give them.) Anyway, someone came upon me and took a couple stabs at me with a knife. He was able to get a couple licks in but I had a handgun, and chose to use it over my knife. In real life, the guy with the gun wins every time. It proved to be a good decision because I'm still here. Can't say that for the other guy.

The one character in the show that surprised me in the last couple episodes of the second season was Hershel. He found himself a shotgun and used it with great success.

Shotguns are easy to use, carry anywhere from one to seven shells, and pack a wallop when up close and personal. The only downside to a shotgun is that, to really be effective, one must find and use, slugs or buckshot in order to be effective against zombies.

For those of you who might consider this completely unfounded, and barely researched advice in order to determine what might work best for home defense during our (equally inevitable) economic collapse, the shotgun is probably the best deterrent to crime in your home.

Nothing is more effective in slapping a would-be criminal's brain into gear, and making them rethink the efficacy of their actions like the sound of a shotgun chambering a shell. For home defense though, you could go with a good load of magnum turkey shot or buckshot as they will achieve the desired effect over a larger area but not go through your walls to hit innocents in the next room. That is, unless you live in a home with paper-thin walls, or a mobile home.

This brings us to the subject of ammo.

Considering that, after the zombie apocalypse, you'll likely find yourself running out of ammo and making that much-dreaded trip into town to scavenge for anything useful (Forget Walmart, by the way. That place will be ransacked at first news of a breakout.) You'll have greater luck in choosing a common ammo. This also applies if you are currently stocking up on ammo in preparation for the coming zombie apocalypse.

Here's the most common types of ammo available anywhere:

For handguns, 9mm, 22 caliber.
For rifles, 22 caliber, 30-06.
For shotguns, 12 gauge (either buckshot or magnum turkey. Although, in a pinch, anything will do fine a close range)

It would also be a good idea to pick up the biggest knives you can find, along with whatever garden tools they may have. A pick axe handle could save your life.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Directions by Patavinity

It is amazing how one can receive different directions by as many people and one might think to ask, for one place.

I'm not from the South but I am from the country. I don't know if this is a Southern thing or a country thing but I've seen it so much since I've lived in the South, it scares me.

Someone walked into my office today asking directions to a local restaurant. He was hit with a barrage of instructions; none of which would have sufficed to actually help him arrive at his requested destination. You see, this person was not from the South, he was from Southern California. After watching him struggle, and try to comprehend and repeat each set of instructions, I finally had to step in and give him the directions in his native tongue--West Coast.

I find it hilarious that some people attempt to help others find their way to a location by telling them of landmarks they should look for to tell them they've gone beyond the location they originally asked directions for. I don't know exactly how this is supposed to work, but myself, I don't want to know what I should be looking for should I drive right past where I want to go, I want to know how to get right to the location for which I originally asked directions.

Furthermore, I don't want to be given landmarks you saw when you drove down that road this morning. For instance, I don't care about the three-legged dog taking a piss under old man Johnson's mailbox. I'm pretty sure that dog won't be there when I drive by.

I find these kind of instruction funny. But don't take my word for it, I'm the guy that finds what I'm looking for by driving past, and making a U-turn.

I just felt like ranting. Stay tuned as next week I will continue with my series (okay, not really a series) on how to survive the coming zombie apocalypse. I would have posted on that subject this week, but I'm still shaken and depressed over the recent losses on my new favorite show on AMC, "The Walking Dead."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

John Carter: Movie Review

I went to an advance screening of the new Disney movie, "John Carter of Mars" this weekend, so I thought I would post an advance review.

See the movie trailer here:

Overall, I give the movie a rating of seven on a scale of one to ten. The special effects in the movie were outstanding and the action was great, but I must say, the storyline became confusing at times.

This movie begins with the apparent death of John Carter, a wealthy explorer. His nephew, oddly enough, named Edgar Rice Burroughs, is summoned, and when he arrives at the Carter mansion, read the last will of John Carter with instructions. The boy is given a journal and told that only he can read it, and this is where the action begins.

As he begins to read the journal, the real story develops. John Carter, a fresh veteran from the Civil War, is prospecting for gold, and is chased into a cave by Indians. A series of events leads him deep into the cave where he discovers a strange medallion that, when taken, transports him to Mars.

Upon arrival, he is promptly taken captive by the local inhabitants, and becomes embroiled in a Civil war between at least three civilizations living on the planet.

I will stop here for fear of giving away spoilers.

Although this movie is called "John Carter of Mars," it is based on a novel by another title by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The novel was originally titled "A Princess of Mars" and was published in 1917, six years after it was first written in 1911 and serialized in "The All-Story" magazine in 1912.

You may have trouble finding this serialized version though because it was published with the title, "Under the Moons of Mars." An interesting little fact is that the author name was listed as "Norman Bean." Edgar Rice Burroughs originally wanted to use the name "Normal Bean" as a joking way to indicate how normal he was. He was in business at the time, and was afraid that if he used his real name, his business partners and potential clients might think he was off his rocker.

The story originally titled "John Carter of Mars" was originally written by Burroughs' youngest son and later edited by Burroughs himself. It was originally published by Little Big Books in 1964, ten years after his death.

While this movie can surely hold itself as a standalone story, I suspect Disney has plans to produce sequels to this movie. The original "Mars" series published by Edgar Rice Burroughs included ten novels with "A Princess of Mars" as the first.

A good movie overall with outstanding special effects, and a believable story. I would also add that, even though this story is rated PG-13, it seemed suitable for a younger audience to me. While there is no sexual situations, nudity, or blatantly adult themes, there is some gore and blood, although the blood comes from alien beings, and is blue or green.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Book and its Cover

Over the past few weeks, I've spent my time finding ways to avoid stuffing my hindquarters into a chair and writing. I'm approaching the end of a first draft for a novel project. This always seems to happen when I'm approaching the end of a writing project. My last few chapters seem to take me forever to finish.

From a psychological (did I spell that right?) perspective, I suppose my subconscious does not want to let go, or let the story end. But end, it must, because I must then conquer the dreaded editing process where other people tell me where I screwed up the story.

Well, for a wonderful new pasttime, I've been creating some book covers for a few authors. I do this free, of course, because I'm no professional. I do enjoy the process though, and try to treat each cover as if I were doing it for money. Here's what I've done lately:

The above cover is my latest work. I'm most proud of this one because it was a collaboration between the author, an illustrator, and myself. The author provide her vision to the illustrator (The wonderful Zak Dawson). He drew the pictures of the character, the wrecked vehicle, and the birds. I colored, textured, and shaded the pictures, then placed them over the background. I added the dwellings in the background, the smoke, the knife, and the bio-embedded device on the character's left arm. Oh, and I also added the feathers on the birds. This is a science fiction novel so I wanted it to look surreal.

 The picture above is something I put together for the first book by the same author. She felt it important to show the infant being pulled through the fire by the strange hand. Also important was the star-shaped birthmark. If you're wondering, yes, the background is the same as the first cover shown above. I simply reversed it and changed the formatting and colorization for the second novel.

Above is the cover I made for a local friend. Her book is not out yet but she assured me the cover represented what she wanted for the story.

Above is a cover I made for another friend. This book is the first in a series of erotic romance stories about a young girl going to the Sturgis Bike Rally before going off to college. I read the story. It was quite good.

Above is another cover completed for the same author. I think she ended up not using this for her final cover, but I gained valuable experience in making it just the same.

The above cover was made for a story appearing in a seasonal anthology. The story had a paranormal, even celtic religious feel to it so, I thought the cover should be fitting. Again, I gained experience making this learning to properly shade the background, cut the character from another picture, and place her in front of the title. I also had to smudge out a particular body part the was showing in the original picture so that it would not be censored.

The cover above is the original for the story in the anthology. It was pretty straightforward. I simply put words on a stock photo I formatted for the cover.

The above cover proved surprising in its simplicity. Sure, I basically stamped the picture of the woman onto a white pallette, along with the chinese character for beauty, but I had to first prepare the picture of the woman. In order to make it work for the cover, I had to take the stock photo and remove an elaborate headress, and change the color of her eyes from black to green.

Above is an alternate cover (ebook format) for a novel written by Ellison James. I spent much time cutting out each element and placing it in the photo. I think, in the end, the cover may be a bit busy but I like it. The picture of the woman over the man comes from a stock photo, and represents the main character in the story, and her need to dominate men. The skyline behind them is of Atlanta, Georgia, the city where the majority of the story takes place. The moon and clouds was cut from a larger photo, and the eyes were changed in color from brown to green.

I would like to try making a cover a mystery story next. So, anyone out there needing a cover for your next novel, or anyone knowing someone else needing one, just let me know. Maybe we can work something out. Who knows, one day, I might actually charge for this, but for now, I'm happy to create these as a distraction, and for the experience.

Now, I've got to get back to writing.