Sunday, December 12, 2010

Preview Sample: the Dead Confess No Sins

Mark Andrew smiled slightly at his son and kicked his horse. Most likely, it was the presence of the Djinni that allowed him to maintain control over these shades from the past. In his current condition, he would have been hard-pressed to command them at all. He rode into the circle and turned his horse about, looking at them. They sat staring at him coldly, assessing him from their deep eyes.

“I am John Mark Andrew Larmenius Ramsay, Chevalier du Morte, Poor Knight of Solomon’s Temple, King of Terrors, Prince of the Grace, Watcher of the Seventh Gate.” He addressed them with as much vigor as he could muster as he continued to turn the horse in a tight circle. “Some of you I know personally and others I do not. I rode with some of you in battle and I saw some of you fall. Some of you, I helped along to meet death!” A murmur, not quite words went along the ranks of the mounted soldiers. Their horses moved about, jostling one another.

“How do we know you are who you say you are?!” A heavily accented voice boomed in the silence. “You do not look like a Knight of Christ to me!!” Several bursts of laughter accompanied this outburst. Certainly the owner of this objection was correct.

Mark Andrew turned his horse to face the man who had cast this insult at him.

“I know you, Gerard d’Belleau! I saw you fall in a drunken brawl at an opium den in Aleppo! Over some dancing girl, was it? A harlot with a mole on her left cheek? Not her face, mind you! You were an arrogant ass then and I see you still carry your backside on your shoulders!”

Gerard’s mouth fell open and another; louder guffaw erupted further down the circle.

Mark Andrew turned his horse again and glared at the laughing man. A large, red-haired fellow holding one of the banners.

“Oh and wot wud ye be laughin’ at, Caleb MacDougall? I saw ye foll from yur horse onto a viper when ye wair runnin’ away from battle! Dunna ye remembar ’ow ye begged me t’ kill ye when th’ poison set in?”

“And I dare say you obliged him?” Another, more educated, English accent questioned him from the opposite side of the circle.

Mark reined the horse about and galloped across the circle, pulling up short in front of a tall, slender Knight sitting astride a dark horse with a long broadsword clasped in his gloved hand. Gold flashed on his buckles and a pheasant’s feather adorned his helmet. Decorations not approved by the Order’s dress code.

“And I dare say that I did. Unlike you, I had mercy on my Brother! Did you never feel the least bit of remorse for helping send the Grand Master to the stake? How much did good King Philipe le Bel pay you to whisper in his ear the crimes of which we were accused, Brother?” Mark Andrew raised his chin slightly and the English Knight’s face drained of color.

No one knew of his treachery. The Templar’s eyes widened in shock. No one. He let out a bellow and slid from his horse.

“I know you,” Mark Andrew continued in a low voice full of contempt. “I know you well, but I will not sully my tongue with the sound of your cursed name. Have you learned nothing of humility? Have you learned nothing in all these years?”

“Come down off that horse! This is an abomination! I would not follow you into battle! You are a devil or worse!”

Mark Andrew slid from the horse and grunted audibly when his feet hit the ground. He rose up slowly and pulled the golden sword from the scabbard. The Knight’s eyes bugged at the sight of the twisted golden blade glinting in the moonlight, but he did not back down. He threw back his mantel and raised his own broadsword. His gold and silver spurs jangled as he stepped lightly, squaring off with the Lord of the Seventh Gate.

Mark Andrew fought him without the advantage of gloves, gauntlets, helmet or shield. Within a bare few minutes, he had disarmed the Knight, much to his chagrin and he lay in the dirt on his back as his Brothers looked on in wonder. Mark Andrew turned away from him and limped back toward his horse. The Knight got to his feet behind him, drew his long knife from his belt and charged at his back.

“Head’s up, Father!” Lemarik shouted a warning.

Mark Andrew raised the sword, stepped forward, dipped slightly and swung around to face his persistent, yet foolish, attacker. The belligerent Englishman’s head left his body very cleanly, flipping over and over as if in slow motion. It smacked the rocks behind the circle of Knights with a sickening thud and a low groan circled through the rank of mounted Knights. The headless corpse slapped the dust in front of the Knight of Death, sending up a small cloud of white powder. Within moments, it had disappeared, gone back to the halls of dust and ashes.

Mark Andrew sheathed the golden sword and climbed wearily back into the saddle, reining the stallion about, looking at each of the men in the circle, silently giving the invitation to any who would follow the Englishman.

“As I was saying, Brothers, I am John Mark Andrew Larmenius Ramsay, Chevalier du Morte, King of Terrors, Prince of the Grave and I have called you all here to give you a chance to redeem your souls. If any of you wish to step down, do so now!” He rode about the circle making eye contact with each and every one of them once more, before continuing.

“Now here is the lay of it…” He began to tell them of what they were about to face.

The Assassin Chronicles Book #21, the Dead Confess No Sins, will be published some time next month. It is the 21st book in the Red Cross of Gold Series published at in both Kindle and Paperback form also available at, the Ibook Store and Barnes and Noble.
The Assassin Chronicles follow the adventures of a modern day alchemist and Knight of the Temple as he works his way back to his original purpose after losing more than just his memory in a botched assassin's mission. The adventure begins in Book I:. The Knight of Death

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Positive Attitudes... I haz them

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist see the opportunity in every difficulty. Winston Churchill

I used to be a pessimist. My motto was "I would rather be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed". It seemed to me far better to expect the worst in every situation and expect no less than to hope for the best and receive far less.

But of late I have changed my outlook. Too many times have I witnessed people getting exactly what they deal out in return X3, it seemed. Whatever misery my depressing attitude had sent forth returned to me with 3 times as much ill-humor as I attached to it.

Upon retiring from my exciting profession as a public servant, working inside a male intitution in close contact with the criminal elements of society for 23 years, I was convinced that it was not just a matter of coincident that I came to this time in my life only to discover that the person I thought I knew as myself all my life, was indeed not the real me at all.

Now I find that very little upsets me anymore. I find myself smiling for no reason at all. I find myself speaking to strangers and asking how they are and then actually listening to what they say. I find myself quickly getting over being mad before I even get a good angry face going on. The changes are subtle and not everyone notices, but I can tell. Yes, I can tell.

This new attitude is well worth the trouble to develop if you do not have one. So get going, put on a positive smile and try to look on the bright side. It can change your life.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Time Is Speeding Up

The first question to ask would be: Does time have a speed? And if it does, is it the same as the speed of light? I asked myself these questions and not being a Quantum Physicist or an Astrophysicist, I had to think about it from a very unscientific point of view. Since I am a sort of Quantum Physics 'fan', I do watch Michio Kaku (sp) and I do read Discover Magazine. How much I truly understand is debatable, or at best, questionable.

For example, I retired last February. At that time, pardon the pun, time was moving slow half the day and exceptionally fast the second part of the day. In other words, the 12 hours a day I spent getting ready for work, driving to and from work and actually being at work passed very slowly. Once I reached home, the other twelve hours of the day passed so fast, I felt as if I was standing still and everything around me was moving at 78RPM for all you disc lovers out there and for the MTV crowd, sort of like that Sting video, Send Your Love Into the Future (don't quote me on the name of the song, but that is the main lyric).

Then suddenly everything changed.

The next thing I knew, all 24 hours were passing at relatively faster speeds. It has been over ten months, almost a full year and time has continued to increase in velocity. It seems that I have even less time to work on my novels and promotions and blogging than I did when I was working full time.

So in answer to the questions asked in the first paragraph, both answers are yes. Yes, time has a speed and yes, it is exactly the speed of light.

Friday, October 22, 2010

O, Woe is Me!!

I love There is no doubt about it. I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours a day there posting and reading and I am a loyal supporter of the board... to the death! But there are some posters there that I simply do not understand. If we put ourselves out there (in the public domain) as writers, as reviewers, as bloggers, as anything that the public will scrutinize, then we must expect, at some time or another, to receive everything from fan mail to hate mail and everything in between. These posters who go on and on complaining and whining because they stepped on someone's toes and got smashed on is annoying. What is even worse it that the rest of us, those who simply try to roll with the flow and keep on stroking our keypads, have to listen to these impromptu lectures (we don't really HAVE to listen, but I find myself reading them out of sheer astonishment at the amount of venom such a biting post can inject into my ears).
If we are in the public eye (I am not famous... yet, but I'm out there), we must grow thicker skins or, if we are unable to do that, we must hide our sorrow, anquish and anger in a beer in the privacy of our own homes, cars, caves, treehouses, etc. Otherwise, we simply exacerbate the situation and give our antagonists more fodder to feed on.
Just my opinion. And, oh, the photo? Yes, well, a good friend of mine said that I remind her of this fellow. Ha!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Epiphany

Lately, there has been a lot of worry and wonder about the reception that Indie Authors receive whenever they attempt to join in on the various forums around the web. To say that Indies are met with a less than friendly attitude by fellow posters, would be a gross understatement. I have personally watched some of the forums for these vicious attacks and have witnessed some that were totally IMHO unprovoked on the part of the author. In these instances, the author had made no attempt to promote his/her own work, but had been simply making relevant comments in pertinent threads about topics of interest to both readers and authors and yet, the 'reader' portion of the thread immediately decimated the author and sent them packing. When I first witnessed this, I was appalled and like many of the authors who post on the Kindleboard forums (the only safe place on the web for Indie authors) I wondered why.
After much discussion wherein the probable causes were debated endlessly, several conclusions were reached. Spammers, it was decided, were definitely worthy of scandalous attack and deserving of the ire of the readers. Then there was great gnashing of teeth and many discussions as to what constituted spam. Again, it was decided, that spamming the forums referred to an Indie Author who promoted his work with cookie cutter posts in every thread in every forum, regardless of the topic and without adding anything significant to the thread. Most Indie Authors do not do this.... it was also decided.
But we could not assume that the Indie Authors who were spamming would cause readers to indiscriminately attack any Indie Author who dared pop into a forum. There had to be more to it.
Suddenly, I thought of something while looking over my page on Facebook. I discovered that at least three people had 'liked' my page in order that they could post their own ads on my page's wall. This infuriated me. The ads alongside the Facebook wall infuriates me daily. The ads in the middle of the wall postings infuriate me. They are ugly, big, nasty, yucky, redundant and totally inappropriate at times, not to mention aggravating and downright insulting to anyone with an iota of intelligence. Of course this is the price we pay for having free and frequent access to Facebook. This is where the money comes from. This is a necessary evil of free enterprise and capitalism. I am quite sure that I am not the only person on Facebook who abhors these ads and shudders in disgust every time I see a set of false teeth or a fat belly or I accidentally run my cursor over an ad and have it pop up without having actually clicked on it and NOW THEY HAVE ADDED VOICES!!! Suddenly, a voice just pops up on your computer and you have no idea where it's coming from. Egad!!!!
This anger, this irritation, this frustration I felt must be the same thing that these readers feel when Indie Author Spammers hi-jack their threads and forums and act like used car salesmen. The thing is that unlike that used car salesman on late night television, screaming at you three times as loud as the program you are watching, the reader has direct access to the Indie Authors on these threads and forums. It must be this combined angst and frustration that drives them to attack the nearest thing they can, Indie Authors in general.
I know that there is a great deal of trash generated by persons who want to be authors, but just can't quite make it, but when the material is published for Kindle, the sample option almost guarantees that the reader will not make a mistake and purchase trash and then there is the return option as well, so it cannot be the fact that the market is overrun with junk, it has to be that Indie Authors like myself, who crave nothing more than meaningful dialog with readers and would love nothing more than communicating with the people that read their work, make ourselves sitting ducks for posters with axes to grind. Maybe this ire will eventually die out sometime in the future... maybe...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What is it all about?

Sometimes I get bogged down in existential questions like "why is the sky blue?" and "what is the meaning of life?". Actually, I have already learned the answers to these two questions, but this blog is not about that. This blog is about writing.

Isn't it strange that some people never pick up a book and read while some people read constantly and can never get enough? And isn't it stranger still that some people can barely write their own names, hate writing and won't even write a check while others pick up a pen or turn on a word program and start writing and never stop?

What is it exactly that makes a writer write even though he/she has no idea if anyone will ever read it?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I used to love the essay questions on tests. I loved writing letters to friends and family even though I rarely even received a postcard in return. In most cases, they told me that they would rather just call and talk on the phone, but I hate talking on the phone. I really do. Even when I was in high school and utterly 'in love', I rarely enjoyed those long, long telephone conversations with the beloved. Now in the age of cellphones, iPhones, webcams and every manner of electronic communication, I still love the written word best. There is absolutely no way to fold up a phone conversation and put it in a little box on the closet shelf.

That brings up another question. Why do some people keep old letters, newsclippings and other written mementos in boxes on the closet shelf? Do they ever go through and look at them? I do. Sometimes, usually when I'm cleaning out a closet or moving or some such, I'll come across my boxES of mementos and invariably I will take some time to sit down and sift through the memories. I can't say what exactly comes of this, but it always makes me feel good to look at them and sometimes sad and good at the same time.

I have said before that I write because I HAVE to write. I have no choice. I've tried not to and I actually get sick if I do not sit down and write or at least edit my work. I have to work on my stuff every day in some way or another or else I get all grumpy and people notice. My good friends and close family can tell when I haven't had my writing fix for a couple of days. Not good!

But the question remains: What is it all about? Why do I need to write about worlds that exist only in my imagination? Why do I NEED to have others read about my fantasy worlds? What is so gratifying about getting a good review or a favorable comment? I can't answer that question, but if you ask any true author, you will probably get the same non-answer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What is it Really?

I have one agonizing worry about my books... not all of them, just the Assassin Chronicles series. I have wondered again and again what genre it belongs in. It's fantasy, of course, because as the series progresses, the various fantasy populations arrive gradually. Dragons, faeries, evil queens, story-book castles, mystical horses, necromancy, alchemy, magick. It's all there. There is also much history concerning the Templars and the Crusades. Then throw a little sci-fi in the mix with time travel, alternate universes, space travel and flying saucers. Everything is tied together into one Unified Theory of Fiction, I guess. So what kind of genre is this?

I think books one and two start off with only hints of fantasy with a bit of immortality, swordplay and mysterious powers along with a murder, a kidnapping and a couple of horrible monsters. Yeah, crazy, but I put it in the Action/Adventure genre because it certainly is that, but guess what? It also has a lot of romance, star-crossed lovers, impossible triangles and tragedy strewn throughout. Overlay it all with a good sense of humor and some good laughs and you have the essence of the series. What a mishmash it all is, but I write from the heart as well as the mind and sometimes hearts and minds do not mix well.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Guest Blog at Sarah Hadad's "Lit and Laundry"

I have been featured on Sarah Hadad's blogsite today at "Lit and Laundry". Check it out:

Thanks Sarah!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

5 Stars for the King of Terror (from a stranger)

It's strange how authors keep hoping that someone, somewhere will read their works, like them and write nice big reviews on Amazon and other places, but it seems that ill-will and procrastination are much stronger than good-will and enthusiasm. I know very well from my sells reports that there are people out there buying and reading (I assume) my Assassin Chronicles. And I know that they must have enjoyed them (or else the world is full of masochists) because I am selling copies of Book 15, Book 16 and so on. But where are the reviews? I see other authors on the Kindleboards, Amazon boards and Goodreads posting their latest and 63874th review on their works and yet, when I hazard a peek at my Amazon author pages and such, I see nothing but the same old reviews I've had for ages. (Some of which, I will admit came from family members. Not that I'm opposed to family members writing reviews... I mean what is a fella to say to a family member who posts a wonderful review after reading my book? Hey! WTF?! Stop trying to help me out! I'm an ungrateful, sorry bastard and you have to keep your nose out of my business!) Well, I'm not that kind of family member. I'm just glad that none of them did me any favors by giving me three stars on a review a few years ago that brought my four and five stars down and knocked me out of a competition completely simply because, as he later explained "I didn't actually get to read the book. I loaned it to a friend, but I wanted to get a review up for you." After which, while my jaw was sagging on the floor in disbelief, he smiled and said "I'm sure I'll like it." Please, please, please... what else can we say?

It's not that family and friends are out to get us (most of the time). It's just that they don't understand what it is we do. They don't understand the damage they can do to our reputations and our outlook on life. They don't understand that they can actually give us hernias, heart attacks and ulcers. To them (generally speaking) writing is just something that I 'fiddle' around with in my spare time. A hobby. They do not know that my writing is actually my life and without it, I am nothing.

Now, trolls of course are another breed altogether and I shall leave them for another blogpost.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hello Out There! Anyone Home?

I recently got a few of my books up and running in DTB (paperback) and a couple more at Smashwords which allows greater distribution and more e-format downloading options. However, Smashwords has stopped selling for me altogether. I've gotten no sales according to my reports since early May. I wrote to them because I keep seeing numbers of downloads change though I see no sales. The answer was that they were working on it.

Working on what? I wonder. Some of my fellow authors, Mr. Patterson, for example say that they have many sales on Smashwords. I cannot believe that I've not sold a single book there in over two months. Strange.

What is really strange is that my book sales on Amazon in both ebook and paperback have increased and that means people are reading my books and coming back and buying the series. This naturally makes me think: "Hey! Someone out there likes the books!" This is good, but total silence in the review section and few, if any, emails makes me wonder if the books are being bought by robots or maybe from passing ET's who have sent emails and reviews from millions of light years away and I simply haven't received their wonderous comments yet. Or perhaps they are being purchased by Time Travelers who have posted in the future. Hmmmm? Am I onto something? Could it be that we are being studied as a race through the Red Cross of Gold series? How would that change the destiny of the human race I wonder?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

5 Star Review!!

In looking at some of my book sites over on Amazon, I found a very nice review on Book 5: Quinta Essentia.

Since this blog will not allow pasting, I will paste a link so that anyone interested in reading the review can go and look at it. It's a five star review and I'm very proud of it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Is it me or is it Memorex? More like T-Rex

I found a new thread on the Kindleboards author forum this morning and thought it would be fun. I checked out several parts of my latest novel up for editing in the Red Cross of Gold Series for gender identification. The Genie supposedly analyses blocks of text and identifies the gender of the author. After putting five different blocks of text from "The Company of Women" (strangely this title seems to match this idea), I learned that I am neither male nor female, but both. When I write dialog with a female character in it, invariably, the Genie says a woman wrote it. I figure this is because the female POV dominates the conversation as the women of old were wont to do. I would never say that of modern women for fear of being tarred and feathered. However, when I put in blocks of text from dialog between males, the author was said to be male. From battle scenes, male. This made me feel a little better.
But I started thinking about this as I read the posts from the other authors on the forum. It seems that we are all just about 50/50 male/female in our writing.
This brings up an interesting point. Authors, good authors, want the feminine characters to retain their femininity and they want their battle scenes to be Mars-like (I won't say 'male' because of the above mentioned tar and feathers). I thought that this Genie thing might be a good tool for judging whether we had caught the correct POV for our scenes, be they love scenes or otherwise.
An interesting concept and one that I shall surely make use of in the future.
I have just ordered the proof copy of the 13th book "Children of the Temple" which is available on kindle at the moment.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Here be piranhas...

I'm going to venture out into the world of Amazon forums and try a few postings as soon as my account clears. For some reason, Amazon keeps telling me that I can't post because I haven't bought anything which is ridiculous. I've bought numerous things from Amazon.

As I was comtemplating the idea of trying a post or two there in the promotion threads, it occurred to me that Amazon is an apt name for those forums. The Amazon river is also full of vicious predators in the form of piranhas and other nasty critters. From what I hear, it is poster beware over there. I guess I'm used to being treated like a real human being over at the Kindleboards threads where the moderators actually moderate all the threads and the trolls and bashers are soon weeded out.

The last time I tried posting anywhere outside of KB, I soon found myself talking with someone who had the mind of a nine-year-old boy. The conversation started out well enough, but soon degenerated into a mindless stream of "Why?" "Why?" "Why?" Very disturbing and I imagined all sorts of images in my head not the least of which pictured me as the rear end of a jackass who had the audacity to think that the person on the other end of the cyberthread was an intelligent human interested in conversing about writing... oh, well. I'm hoping to do better at Amazon. I promise to obey the 10,000 rules for authors posting over there and hope for the best. Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

How Do They Know?

Something that amazes me is the innate almost magickal perceptions of animals that some people might call ESP. A great mystery of nature and wonderful. How on earth can people still deny the existence of the hidden powers of the mind? I'll give you an example that I have tested over the years and found to be unerring.
My Puglet has ESP. She can and does read the human mind on a regular basis. Now some people (scientists, dog whisperers, researchers, debunkers, etc.) have said that they are keen on subtle indicators that we, as owners, unknowingly exhibit. In other words, the unbelievers say that our dogs, cats, hamsters, etc., pick up on clues with their eyes, ears and noses that we are unaware of and react to them, making us goofies think they are supernatural.
OK. But explain this. It's thirty-five miles to town here where I currently live. I drive into town and (God forbid) I go to Walmart or Tractor Supply and in the course of shopping, I find something... a snack or a toy that I believe Puglet will enjoy. I then go on with my business, keeping appointments, eating lunch, shopping here and there, whatever.... Several hours later, I arrive home and unload the car. I bring in twelf or fifteen little non-descript plastic bags and set them around the kitchen and dining room.
Puglet sits by calmly watching, offering not the slightest bit of help BTW, until I bring in the exact non-descript white bag that contains her new toy/snack. Then suddenly, she goes beserk and begins running in circles, barking, jumping up on me and trying to rip the bag from my hand. More often than not, I''ve already forgotten about buying anything for her and invariably, I'm baffled by her excitement until I pull out the item in question and then I'm amazed and often frightened!
So if it's a snack, I might buy that she smelled it, but if its a toy packaged in plastic, made of plastic or cloth and stuck in a bag with a dozen other things...
Another case in point. I have a hamster. She minds her own business (whatever that is) sleeping, eating, skritching around, gnawing, running, climbing, drinking... She never says a word or waves or gestures to me when I pass her cage a hundred times, but I can be all the way across the room and she can be sitting on her perch, eating a piece of broccoli and I can say her name and she'll stop eating and look in my direction. Now, you say "but you said her name!" Sure, sure I did. But keep in mind. Her brain is the size of an English Pea and her eyes are not as big as match heads. (She's a dwarf... Robo hamster). And now comes the scary part. If I stand across the room and just look at her, she will stop whatever she is doing, scurry to the side of the catch and look at me. My questions are:
Is this not proof? How much proof is needed?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wanted: Dead or Alive?

OK, so I'm talking to a dear friend about strange topics which happens to be my forte and somehow I was reminded of an odd incident that happened to me concerning the above illustrated badge.
My son, bless his heart, had a variety of problems growing up including bi-polar disorder, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder and a touch of paranoia. Naturally, he was an interesting little fellow to say the least and my heart goes out to all the parents who have dealt and are dealing with these terrible disorders. For the record, I wish to report that he did make it to adulthood and now has two children of his own. He can and does joke about his early days and say such things as "But that was then. I'm all better now!" using that same crazy way of saying it and that weird look in his eyes as the comics use to portray criminally insane people. He's a good sport and I love him dearly.
Anyhow, he was always quite sure that the police, the sheriff's department, the DEA, the FBI, the NSA, the IRS, the KGB, Scotland Yard, the Surete, the Israeli Moussad or some other top secret entity was watching our house, just waiting to cart him off into the night never to be seen again. Why? I have no idea other than the fact that during his teenage years, he was indulging a little reefer to go along with his meds which is apparently not a good combination. So he was always telling me about strange vans and cars stalking the neighborhood using their top-secret spy equipment to look through our walls and see us in the shower, etc. Most of the time, I listened patiently to these reports and tried to debunk them as much as possible to alleviate his fears.
So one day he hisses at me from the front door and shows me a plain white van sitting across the street in the post office parking lot. He tells me that the van has been sitting there for three days and that he's quite sure that there are FBI agents in the van watching the house. Naturally, I explain that the parking lot is shady, it was very hot outside and the person or persons in the van was probably just sitting in the shade, taking a break and reading their mail. Besides, I told him in all seriousness, the driver looks like a lady and is probably the owner of a flower shop who gets a lot of mail or something. He was unconvinced.
A couple of days later, I was sitting at my typewriter, banging on the keys when I looked up and noticed a strange lady, dressed to the nines, in my yard, talking to my youngest daughter who looked quite frightened. I walked out on the front porch and caught the woman's attention and asked if I could help her.
She strode boldly across my yard and flipped out a badge.
She gestured to the same white van across the street and told me that she had been surveilling the house for several days.
After I regained my breath and picked my stomach up off the porch, I invited her inside to talk.
Turned out a friend of mine had put in for a federal position that required a secret clearance and had given me as a reference.
I learned three important things that day:
1.) If my son says that UFO's are landing in the backyard, then it's probably time to run.
2.) We spend a lot of federal tax dollars sending FBI agents out on missions that could better be done IMHO by a couple of clerks with a good computer system.
3.) Female FBI agents do indeed look like Dana Scully.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bait and Switch

Sometimes it is very hard to believe that people can be so naive, but it must be so since the old idea of bait and switch skuldugery still exists in this so-called enlightened age. For example, recently, I have been searching on Craig's list for a late model used car in order to buy a second car (the emergency car?). So I've looked at all these automobiles and called a hundred different places asking questions. I've wasted about $200 so far in gas and incidental expenses driving to different places to look at potential purchases. Here's what happens:

"Hello, I'm Dave. I'm calling about that 2004 Lincoln LS you have listed for $6995?"

"Oh, si, I mean yes, senor... er, sir. Just call me Gerardo. That is an excellent vehicle. Only 78,000 miles. Runs like a top. Looks great, smells good. One previous owner. I would buy it myself, but my wife won't let me. Ha, ha, ha, ha."

"Yeah, ha, ha. So have you done any maitenance on it?"

"Oh, si.. yes, sir! We do a complete 100001 point inspection. It's cherry."

"OK. So where can I find you?"

Detailed description of how to get to the lot which is located in the heart of Scary Neighborhood.

Get dressed, grab checkbook, gas up the car and take off. Get lost six times. Have to stop and eat. Spend money. Get more gas. Spend more money at convenience store on snacks and drinks because you don't know when you'll ever find your way home again. Exchange fone calls with Gerardo seventeen times. Finally, his place comes into view and I shudder to my toes.

"Ok, hey, Dave! Glad you could make it. Look, here's the key. Giver her a spin. Take your time. We put a gallon of gas in it last week."

"OK," I say taking the keys reluctantly.

The car starts up. The AC smells like it survived the Medieval Black Plague. The radio/stereo works fine. The odometer shows it has 147,000 miles on it. The sticker on the window says '2001'.

"Hey, Gerardo! I thought you said it was a 2004?"

"Oh, no, senor. We sold that car just 3o minutes before you arrived. So sorry."

"But the mileage is a bit high. How much for this one?"

"$6995 plut TT & L."

"What?! That was what you said you wanted for the newer, lower mileage car!"

"Oh, si, but this car has custom wheels and a moon roof. It has a 6 CD player and special speakers and just look at that custom wrap on the steering wheel. With a new paint job and a little TLC, this car would be mint. A bargain!"

"Oh," I say as I roll up the window and put it in drive.

Clunk. Buzz. Rattle, rattle. Clunk. Grind, bump. I think I'm at a strip club before I get back.

"Hey, Gerardo!" I say, handing him the key. "The car needs brakes. The tranny slips. The back tires are worn out. The spare is missing. The horn doesn't work. The rear-view mirror is falling off and the grill is cracked in three places."

"Oh, well, that can all be fixed," he smiles. "We have a garage out back. Besides, what do you expect. It was owned by Avis, you know?"

Oh, well. Back on the road. More gas. More snacks out of sheer frustration and disappointment.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Retirement Home

Great news! I'll be closing on my retirement home on the Lake next week. The owner accepted my offer and the title search is underway. Speaking of searches... I will have to search for the property boundaries and put up some markers. I was thinking of using that stink bait stuff for bears or moose or something. I know the neighbors are a bit close, but hey! It's Lake Property. You have to compromise when it comes to views and such. If you look close, you can see one of my soon-to-be new neighbors on his balcony, basking in the sun, enjoying the morning. I'll be able to pull my boat right up to my first floor landing and use it whenever I want. Reminds me of the canals of Venice, Italy. Maybe I should hire one of those Gondolier fellows to sing to me while I'm fishing. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Day!!

Retirement is indescribably delicious like eating ten pounds of chocolate with getting fat or sick! I've been waiting a long time for this day and now that it is here, I'm at a loss for words to describe the feeling of complete freedom that comes with it. It's the same feeling I used to get when I went to bed on Friday night and knew I didn't have to set the clock, but instead of only Fridays, it's every night. It's that Saturday morning feeling every morning and it's never having my Sunday spoiled by random thoughts of Monday morning. That's how it is.

Now that I'm retired, I'll have to give up my beautiful Hill Country and move once more back toward the coast and Deep East Texas 'where I come from'. I've invested in a modest lake country home (without a lake view, of course) but the water is within walking distance... not that I would walk there, but it's close. Fishing piers, boat ramp and the biggest lake in the state of Texas.
East Texas has its drawbacks of course. There are those mosquitoes that are the size of rescue helicopters that attack you on those hot, sultry afternoons and mornings, hence the need for screen porches and mosquito spray. Then of course the Gulf is not that far away and sometimes it decides to pay a visit in the form of the occasional hurricane or two. I'll be far enough away that I won't have to evacuate, but I'll be the refuge point for evacuees, which is always fun. Not that I would turn anyone away, but it's better to have people (family and friends) visit because they want to rather than have to. But I was born and raised in the woods and back to the woods I must go, once more proving the cyclical nature of life.
I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong. I'm free and it feels good!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Trailer Success

I finally made a book trailer which may or may not add anything to my marketing efforts or not, but it was fun. I added a link at the top of my list because I couldn't figure out how to embed it. It is beyond my limited cyberkineticauthorismscapabilities. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lost Packages Anyone?

A couple of years ago I moved. As time passed, I assumed (wrongly of course) that I had changed all my pertinent and important accounts to my new address. Weeeelll, that assumption just cost me dearly.

I made an order from an online store for a number of items and paid for them with paypal. They were to be delivered for free in two days... ahhhh, yes two days. Two weeks went by and no package. When I tracked it, I learned that it had already been delivered. However, the online store had used the shipping address at paypal which I had updated with my new address, but not quite deleted the old address.

The package was delivered to my old address where a nice lady signed for it and kept it. The on-line store said "Oh, my goodness. What a shame! That's illegal, you know. Sorry. See you. Wouldn't want to be you."

So I tried to make a complaint with UPS. No real person to contact there, of course. They wouldn't want to hear a complaint now, would they? What should I do? File charges in the city where I used to reside? Hope the 'nice lady' is arrested? Fat chance!

So I would advise everyone changing their addresses not to be careless and be sure to change everything. I mean, take an afternoon off and devote yourself to your computer and your contacts and websites, etc., etc. Or it will cost you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rainy Days

I started out this morning and the weather immediately put me in my of a dear friend's book about rain, rain and more rain and a little mud. I was going out to look at cars, thinking maybe about making a trade-in some time in the near future. But the further I went, the colder and wetter the road became and so I turned around and came home to my warm dry house. Now I sit at my computer wondering what subject to destroy today. In looking over my sales for February, the shortest month of the year, I was quite pleased to see the final numbers though I would never dream of posting my numbers on the "How Many Have You Sold" thread at the Kindleboards forum. That would be like saying "Hey, I have $36.27 in my checking account! Nah, nah, nah, boo boo!" I mean really? What kind of thread is that? I have gone there out of curiosity to see who and how many and such and such and etceteras and have learned that most of the posts seem to come from well-meaning, law-abiding, honest citizens with numbers much like my own... I'm talking Indie Authors here, not Stephen Kings, J.K. Rowlings, mind you, but a few of the numbers I've read there are a bit hard to swallow. It's all about marketing and most of us poor Indie types do not have the means to purchase 100's of billboards across the country hawking our latest releases at the cost of several hundred thousand dollars PER MONTH. Neither can we afford television, radio and magazine adds. I was truly hoping that the Indie Spotlight website, the brainchild of Gregory Banks and Ed Patterson would boost my sales and I advertise there. Hopefully, my add has brought me a few sales more than normal. I have no way of knowing, but at least it was affordable. Now I hear that they may not be able to keep up the sight due to a lack of funding. Ahhhh, well. At least they tried and we will all keep trying, won't we? I suppose that I will keep writing wether the world ends in 2012 or not and so, there will be more Brendan Carroll works to read even for those strange and horrible scientists of the future who come poking about in the ruins of our civilization. But hey, that's just the weather talking. Cheer up! Things will get better. We'll all have health care insurance soon and be able to drive down to the government owned clinic in a government owned GMC pickup truck and die whilst waiting in line to see a government owned doctor. Yes, life is good... while it lasts. LOL. God Bless You All and God Bless America.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mark Twain

Be careful of reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain

Mark Twain is certainly one of the inspirations behind my writing. I love his wit, humor and even his dark cynicism that many people today would find completely unacceptable. Even though I am over 1/4 Native American, I find his overt hatred of 'Indians' understandable considering the time in which he lived. His disdain for religion and God was also understandable even though I consider myself a devout believer. I believe one of his best dislikes was his intolerance of all things French. He didn't like the French, but in light of recent developments in the political world, I believe he might find some support for his opinions of our French allies. I wonder what he would think of them now? I wonder what he would think of America now? Would he recognize it at all or would he think he'd died and gone to France? I wonder what acid remarks he might have rebuked his detractors with? While my sainted grandmother was born with French as her native language, I can only say that I had always thought myself part French, but then I read the history of the Cajun/Acadian peoples and learned that they probably weren't French at all and were actually cast out of France before they were cast out of Nova Scotia (formerly known as Acadia). Then they were kicked out of New York by the 'Americans' and finally set down in the swamps of Louisiana (French again!) A strange story, but well, there it is and so that leads me back to my original thought of the day. What would Mark Twain have said to my French reviewer who saw fit to give me a one star rating on Amazon? I think he would have said something scrumptious, but then I thought "Hey! The thing speaks for itself!" The review is on The Red Cross of Gold II:. The King of Terrors. At first, it may not be evident why I would be laughing over it, but then consider this... Why would he buy the second book if the first book was so disgusting? Isn't that like saying "Hey, this spaghetti is awful! Give me another plate full so I can make sure." D'oh!!! LOL.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yummy!!! The Bittersweet Story

Today, January 19, 2010 marks the bittersweet end of the 2010/2009 Nog Season or Season of Nog. The last jug of Nog in my refrigerator will be consumed and shared by members of the household today in a poignant ceremony that will mark the beginning of the long fast between now and the next Nogfest. Fortunately for me, there will be only two participants today... myself and the Puglet. Of course, she will not be having the spiked variety even though she will have the honor of pulling the cork from the Captain Morgan's Private Stock. I alone will indulge in the honorary drinking of the CMPSw/Nog.
Again, fortune favors the foolish. When I was researching the various magickal rituals needed for my Red Cross of Gold Series, I learned many, many interesting things about the mystical religions of the world including, but not limited to, the practice of Wiccan Arts. I almost gave up my Neo-Natural Religious beliefs to join the Wiccan Movement when I learned that they celebrate the Spring Equinox by drinking Egg Nog! Since there are no commmercial brands available in stores at that time of year, several recipes were offered on the various sites I visited. I tried a few of them and found them not only easy to make, but delicious and yummy as well. Again, I was elated to be American! Only in America can we pick and choose what parts and portions of the various religions we might wish to practice without fear of stoning, beheading, whipping, drowning, shooting, shunning and/or any number of other less than welcome practices. I have since added an additional Nog Season to my own Neo-Natural Religious customs in the form of a Spring Equinox celebration that includes lots of homemade Nog, Captain Morgan's and crazy, fun-shaped straws. Of course, Puglet cannot drink from a straw, but she can pull the cork form the Private Stock like an expert even though I do not allow her to imbibe. She doesn't care, she simply laps up the Egg Nog from her special Nog Dish... hey! I wonder if Nogdog likes Egg Nog? Anyway, I will begin the countdown to Easter and the Spring Equinox tonight at midnight.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Big Surf/Tough Turf

Over the holidays, I thought I might take in some sights, see a few shows, watch a few movies, do something different. So I took myself off to the beach to see if I might perhaps meet some new people, gain some new insight, collect my thoughts, and OK, all right, maybe meet some new girls or ladies as the case may be or might have been.

I purchased the latest fashionable swimsuit available, Dolce & Gabbana, that's Eye-talian and I got a good deal, too, because they were 2009's line and were marked down from $395.00 to $285.00. How could I go wrong? The fellow at the store assured me that he had a pair of these trunks and he had picked up hundreds of good-looking women at the beach. His goal, however, had been to pick up two ladies at once and he'd not been able to do it... yet. So needless to say, I am proud to announce that I did indeed meet and I daresay exceed the salesman's goal. The two young ladies you see in the picture were all over me within minutes of my lying down on my sun-towel and slathering on a half of a bottle of PF 65 sunblocker (I like the pasty look as opposed to the roasted lobster pose). I highly recommend PF 650 PSI load-blocker sunscreen in the future.... if there is a future.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Red Roses

I can never decide whether I like yellow roses or red roses better for purposes of a romantic nature. But I saw this picture when I was browsing around on the web looking at possible illustrations for some of my upcoming works and I couldn't resist it in light of Valentine's Day coming up. Of course, I won't be able to use it on my February release for Omar, the Prophet since it would not be quite suitable for his story. Especially since he will be more likely viewed as a portrait of the Anti-Christ rather than a Knight in shining armor. But I'm thinking that somewhere I'll be able to use this picture on some future publication. What do you think?