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To Write or Not to Write. Whether Tis Nobler to Suffer the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous . . . . oops! Wrong Soliloquy

I thought I’d take a moment to relay the circumstances which led me to become a writer. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis November 2006. Two months later, January 2007, the position I held as a trade show construction supervisor and warehouse manager was abolished after sixteen years. During our winter fishing trip to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, my son suggested I give writing a shot. I began to pen my old standard, ‘short stories,’ while still employed, uncertain if I had a novel within. A story line soon emerged pulling me into the world of “Rising Tide.” With my first novel reaching completion, I decided to delve into the world of self-employment, opening a single employee (me) drafting business (CAD).

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It’s now the spring of 2008. I find a publisher to take on my novel which becomes a reality in the spring of 2009.  My drafting business is going gangbusters. I’m having to put in 14 hours a day 6 days a week.

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July 2008 rolls around, and guess what . . .the economy tanks, my business nearly beating it down the toilet, and I’m up to my armpits in edits and re-writes, which ain’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it proves that one out of two (here’s that word again) ain’t bad.

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Fast forward to today. I recently released my fourth novel, “Deadly Reign.” I have two more books in the works. The next in the “Rising Tide” series and a stand-alone novel that revives a character from a previous book used in a cameo role and now as the protagonist.  I’ve just scratched the surface in the world of authorism. So  I certainly don’t feel qualified to offer any spectacular, over the top, fail proof words of wisdom.  If I were to offer any advice, I’d simply say:  Never give up, expect rejection, don’t take yourself too seriously, and most importantly, have fun. God bless!

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Excerpt From DEADLY REIGN

Rustling, and then uneven stomps, could be heard inside moving closer. All became silent before something slammed into the door.

Orac and Eve both jerked back at the sudden noise. Even Pete, behind them on the sleigh, raised his head before lowering it again.

The door opened, stopping just wide enough for a grizzled old woman to step into the opening. She wore brown unlaced work boots, scuffed and cracked with age. Scrawny unshaven legs rose out of the boots into a faded plaid mid-length skirt, tied at the waist with a length of rope. “What in the name of Jeezy Pete is you two a doin’ out here?”

Eve opened her mouth to speak and was immediately cut short.

“Keep it to yerself,” the old women squawked. “Don’t make no never mind to me anyhow.”

A moth-eaten sweater covered a gingham blouse that clung to her from months of not bathing. Bony fingers held a long-stem pipe. Three brown teeth could be counted as she drew heavily on whatever substance burned in the pipe’s bowl. “I never thunked I’d a seen it, but sure nuff I guess it’s here.” Her leathery face seemed to pull her features deep into her skull. Black eyes glared from their sockets and a floppy weather-worn cotton hat sat atop her head. She looked around Eve and noticed Pete huddled on the sleigh. “Dadburn it all to pieces,” she said, grinding her pipe between her gums. She turned around and pushed her fist through a wooden wall behind her. Splinters and dust flew in all directions. “I done and fetched up the wrong count again. They’s three of ‘um and one of ‘um is a illn’ and sittn’ out in the snow. Lookie here ya old buzzard, have ya ever seen such a sight?”

The door opened, revealing an old man, more than a foot taller than his female counterpart. He was barefoot, errant nails twisting several inches from his toes, his hairless legs disappearing at the lower calf into a tattered night shirt. He held a funnel, similar to a miniature gramophone, to his ear. A scraggly gray beard cascaded halfway down his chest.

“Look,” Eve said, nudging Orac, “there’s something moving in his beard.”

Orac focused on the beard and soon could see small brown vermin darting in and out of the hairy foliage. His face was old and drawn with a long pointed nose, no discernible teeth, and a pipe jutting from his near lipless mouth.

“What in tarnation you goin’ on about, ya old bat?” he yowled. She elbowed him in the ribs.

“I know yer deef,” she replied, “but ‘er ya blind, too, ya ol’ coot?”

He grabbed his side and began to cough up huge balls of phlegm, depositing them on the threshold of the door. Ignoring the old man’s distress, she addressed the two and Orac.

“Taint a fit night out fer man nary a demon,” she said. “You three git yerself up and in here now! They’s things out here you wouldn’t wanna run into in the daylight, much less on a nite like this here nite.”

Orac scooped up Pete and followed the old woman into the house. They had to step around the old man, still hacking in the doorway. They made their way down a long, dimly lit hall. The scampering and scratching of small unseen beings were evident from the sounds behind the walls.

Eve tensed. I wonder which side of the wall they’re on? She imagined long scaled insects with fangs dripping with venom and mangy rats two feet long jumping onto her shoulders while the bugs invaded her hair.

The trip through the hallway seemed to take forever. Eve entered into a large living area, avoiding the onset of hyperventilation that was overtaking her. She wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead.

“How is Pete doing?” Eve asked Orac.

“With his injuries, it will be a long journey; however, I have no doubt his recovery will be complete.”

Two beds lined one wall and a small dinette with five chairs sat in front of a stone fireplace with a flat rock top. A wooden cabinet, pushed tight to the side of the fireplace, with three shelves and no doors, became a makeshift cupboard. Cut into the stone directly beside the firebox itself was a rectangular-shaped hole which served as an oven. An unidentifiable hunk of meat crackled over the open flame and the enticing smell washed over them.

“We gettin’ ready to sup,” the old woman said.  “If ya wanna mouthful, then take a seat, if ya don’t, then suit yerself.” She yelled back up the hallway, “Er ya comin’, ya lazy sack a’ nuthin? Fixins is gettin’ cold and I aint apt to warm ‘em back up fer ya.”

A garbled “Aye” filtered up the hallway. The old woman walked up to Orac and tapped him in the chest with her pipe. “You can make a pallet for that there sickun on the floor in the corner at the foot a’ that first bed. You be a’findin’ blankets on the shelf just above that very same corner.”

She turned to baste the meat on the fire.

Turning back around, she squinted her eyes and pointed a bony finger in Orac’s direction. “Mind you, you don’t put him on my bed. I don’t take kindly to strangers lyin’ where I lie.”

As the old woman tended to the meal, Eve took a moment to survey her surroundings. The floor and walls were made of the same faded wooden planks. Beneath the ancient thatched roof, rafters branched out like an oak rib cage. A multitude of diverse insects could be seen scampering in and out of the thatch. They occasionally rained down on the floor and made a mad dash for the nearest crack or corner in which to disappear.

On top of the sizzling flat stone of the fireplace, the old woman ladled an unknown gruel from a large pot into two smaller bowls.

The old man sauntered into the room, still coughing, having recovered from his partner’s jab in the ribs.

“Best get to cuttin else we’ll be here all night,” the old woman said.

He began to strop a large butcher knife against a piece of leather hanging from the wall. “I’m a thinkin you might a busted a couple ribs with that elbow a yern,” he complained.

“If’n I did, you deserve every one of um.”

He cut several large chunks of the roasted meat, placed them on a wooden serving platter, and joined the old woman at the table.

After several mouthfuls, the old woman wiped her chin with her sleeve and glared at Eve, Pete and Orac.

“I ain’t ‘yo momma and I ‘don teld ya once that if ya wanna eat, then eat.” She swallowed another mouthful. “An best be quick about it, cuz once I clean up this here mess, ain’t nobody eatin’ till ‘morrow mornin’.” She motioned with her fork towards the fireplace, “Now git to it!”

Eve and Orac locked eyes, uncertain what to do next. Their lull soon brought an answer.

“I ain’t gon tell you nary nuther time,” the old woman screamed. She stood, and grabbing one of the empty plates, slung it at the two surprised visitors. Orac caught the plate before it could smash against the wall.

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Excerpt from TERMINAL CORE

Clay’s expression changed to one of surprise and pain. He raised his hand. In the center of his palm was a quarter inch hole. A drill bit could not have made a cleaner cut. The culprit, a slashworm, had exited on the backside of Clay’s hand and wasted no time working its way up his arm.

“Ah,” Clay groaned, “there’s more than one.” He pulled his right pant leg up in time to see a parasite exit his calf muscle.

“What are they?” Jake screamed. A worm entered his shoulder just above the clavicle connection. Both men writhed on the ground in pain. The soil seemed to move as thousands of the slashworms vied for a free meal.

Before long, Clay and Jake would be consumed alive.

A lightening-like patterned grid of positively charged ions danced a few inches above the ground. It covered a region a quarter square mile, turning the area into a stunning pyrotechnic show.

In the middle of this square, lay two human figures. Both were in fetal positions, swatting at their necks and faces. The constant hum emanating from the charged grid came to an end along with the light display.

A comical scene played out as the men continued to slap themselves. Then, realizing the slashworms had ceased their attack, they stopped their flailing and sat up.

A short, slender man, barefoot and dressed in overalls walked up on Clay and Jake.

“Well, now,” he said, through a scraggly mustache and beard, “‘pears like you two went and sat down amongst some mighty nasty critters.”

“Yeah, I guess it would appear that way,” Clay said. He brushed dirt and debris from his clothes and examined himself for slashworm damage. Strangely enough, there was no pain associated with his wounds.

“I’m-a guessin’ you two is fair the well stupid to be sittin’ down in a slashworm nest.” He pushed a strange looking pistol into a wide holster hanging from his side. The pistol was attached to a double cylinder backpack, by way of a flexible metal hose. At the top of each cylindrical tank set a cone that ended in a dull point. An electrical charge danced between the tips of the two cones.

“Reckon it’s a good thing I were out and about.”He stuck his finger in his right ear and dug around, pulling out a large brown lump and wiping it on his overalls.

“Yes, sir, dang good thing fer real I jest happened along.”

“You . . . you killed those filthy bloodsuckers?” Jake exclaimed.

“Oh no,” the little old man said, “I didn’t kill’ em, I jest ran’ em back in the ground fer a spell.”

Clay and Jake stood, continuing to brush themselves off.

The small man extended his hand.

“Names Taggert Lee.” He shook Clay’s and Jake’s hands. “My friends call me Gert. Being you two fellers ain’t what I’d exactly term as mean, I reckon it’ll be fittin fer you to call me jest that.”

Both men acknowledged Gert’s gesture of friendship, and in the spirit of camaraderie offered their first names to be used by Gert.

“Now, I ain’t sure if you two knows it or not, but them there nasty little buggers that was a gnawin on ya is hardheaded little fellers. They ain’t ones to back down from an easy meal.”

Clay along with Jake looked at Gert and then at each other, not understanding what the little man was trying to say.

Gert shook his head. “Some peoples can be so dense that it jest ain’t proper. Looky here, you two.” He hocked up a big ball of phlegm and spat it on the ground, in front of Clay’s boot. A single slashworm pushed through the soil and sucked the phlegm ball down.

Clay and Jake were mesmerized watching the parasite, push through the Earth, devour the organic Jell-O and disappear.

“Is you two stupid or is ya tryin to get et up?”

The two men broke from their reverie and jumped. They landed beside Gert as the ground boiled with thousands of slashworms in search of the meal they had tasted moments earlier.

“I guess stupid would fit best,” Clay said.

“No argument there,” Jake echoed.

The sky had been growing light for some time now. The uniqueness of this hemisphere included dual suns that never fully set. So there was always light even if just a small amount.

“You two dummies gets not a argment from me neither.”

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Excerpt from TERMINAL CORE

Twenty-three

AS SURPRISED AS POPS WAS, he didn’t show it. He had seen transfers before, but this was the first one that had almost dropped on his head.

Quincy,” Pops repeated. “Can’t say as I recollect anybody named Quincy.”

“He’s the marshal in these parts,” the stranger said.

Pops saw the man slide a small blue object into his pants pocket.

“Now I remember. I met the marshal once; didn’t know his name was Quincy though. Anyway, you’re about thirty miles off target.”He paused, waiting for the newcomer to react; when he didn’t, Pops continued to speak. “Like I said, you’re about thirty miles off. He’s north of here in a town called Baine.”

“North you say?”

“Yep.” Pops took a moment to evaluate the stranger. “Gotta name, friend?”

“Lynch,” was all he said.

“Don’t talk much, do you?”

“Ain’t got much to say, leastwise not to you.”

“Friendly too, I see.”

“I’ll be leaving now, wouldn’t have an ellack I could borrow, would ya?”

“Afraid not, only got the one.” It’s against my better judgment, he thought, but being as I’ve never been accused of using judgment good or otherwise. “Why don’t you stick around, have some coffee and I’ll take a look at that chin of yours.”

“I guess I can do that, a cup of joe would hit the spot.”

Pops and Jake’s quarters were modest. Two bunks, a small kitchenette and work stations to monitor inflow and output. The kitchenette boasted a small table with four chairs.

Lynch took a seat while Pops blew the dust out of two cups, put the coffee on to perk and located the first aid kit.

Lynch didn’t budge as Pops cleaned the wound with alcohol wipes. Once he had worked his way through the blood and hair, he found the gash in the gaunt man’s chin. He looked through the first aid kit and found what he was looking for. Unscrewing the top from the small tube, he squeezed the two ends of the wound together, and ran a line of adhesive down the length of the laceration.

Lynch moved his mouth to speak.

“No,” Pops ordered. “No talking till this sets up.”He held the wound together and counted to sixty, then released his fingers. “You’re good to go. That glue will last long enough for your wound to heal and is stronger than your own skin.”

“Much obliged,” Lynch said, rubbing at the newly closed gash. The coffee pot signaled its doneness by bubbling up into the glass knob on top.

Pops poured two cups. “I take mine black, how about you?”

“Black’s fine.” Lynch accepted the cup.

The men sat enjoying their beverage.

Lynch spoke first.

“Sorry ’bout my gruff attitude earlier.”

“Nothing to worry about. A new place will do that to you, especially when you planned to end up somewhere else.”

Lynch couldn’t tell his benefactor he was in fact exactly where he wanted to be. This one fact weighed heavy on his mind, but no matter—when you have a job to do, you can’t afford thoughts like these to get in the way.

“So,” Pops said, “what brings you to these parts?”

Lynch took a sip of his coffee and pursed his lips.

Pops’ eyes grew wide, the laser blade having split him from groin to sternum.

Lynch stood and retracted the four foot long beam of light. He shoved the handle into his front pocket and then placed a hand on the older man’s shoulder.

Pops continued to stare in disbelief. “Why?”

“Nothing personal, just business.” He held Pops’ shoulder and eased him down until his cheek lay touching the table.

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An Excerpt From TERMINAL CORE

SAL RICKY HAD CLEARED the saloon wall by ten feet when Clay’s gun fired. The dual rounds flew true, making contact in the middle of his back. A bright light and a sonic boom of sorts ensued, splitting the creature in half. The two portions continued to run, slowing to a wobble and falling over sideways. No blood or fluid escaped the bifurcating wound as the molten copper rendered the cauterization complete.

Clay shook his head and picked himself up off the floor. A flood of pain shot from his right hand, up his arm, spidered through his shoulder and into his brain.

“Remind me not to do that again,” he said to himself, as he gingerly shook his hand hoping to relieve the widespread burning.

He made his way through the hole in the saloon wall (compliments of one decimated hydrak), and upon reaching the deceased creature, he nudged it with his boot.

“Now I’ve got to move two large pieces that are nothing but dead weight as opposed to one larger being that could move itself.” He removed his hat, lowered his head and shook it several times. After replacing his hat, he looked at the two dead halves.

“Why do they always have to choose the hard way?”

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Ya Never Know What Might Happen Until What Might Happen, Happens to Happen

son-of-chris-riding-shotgun-playing-guitar-at-pfEarlier in life, I fancied myself a musician headed for the big time. Oh, I guess you could say I had my moment in the small time limelight, but that’s about as far as it got in my world of hard rock mania. I quit the band about six months before my son was born. I figured it wouldn’t be right trying to raise a child and play music every weekend. It turned out to be the right decision.

I did, however, continue to beat on my acoustic and would occasionally fire up the Les Paul for my rock fix. This also turned out to be the right decision. I would hand my little buddy a pick and sit down to play for him some of his favorite tunes. We’d dim the lights in the house, maybe light a candle or two, and I’d begin to play and sing “Wooly Swamp” or  “Black Water Hattie” and let him use his pick to scratch down the strings every once in a while. When he got older, he began to listen to my favorite band, “RUSH.” He began to play bass and after a while we started learning “RUSH” tunes. We saw them in concert in 2002 and every year they toured after that, until their 40th anniversary in 2015, which turned out to be their farewell tour. They were good times.

In fact, my son was the reason I began to write. On a surf fishing trip to Cape Hatteras, after I was informed that a layoff was on the horizon, he suggested I give writing a try. He had read several of my short stories and thought writing may be a good fit. I wasn’t sure I had a novel in me, being so used to penning short stories. I gave it a try, and my fourth novel entitled “DEADLY REIGN” is due to be released in March 2017. Never hurts to try!

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Read, View, Old, New, Nobody Flies for Free.

4872912-9226306576-47674Are you into movies? If so, I’ll assume your favorite gems on the big screen bridge over into your preferred genre in the novels you read. With all the assorted subjects flying out of Hollywood and bookstores, you pretty much have your pick on what you read or view these days. As usual, the stories we enjoy begin with words and over time make their way onto the silver screen.

For some time now, the comic books we all read as kids are gaining popularity, not just in print, (today referred to as graphic novels) but in movie form, also. Marvel seems to have cornered the market with DC a ways behind. I personally don’t have a favorite, but enjoy them all. With the computer generated special effects of today, things can be brought to life through a process called, “Go Motion,” first used in Jurassic Park in 1993. For the first time, characters only in our imagination could be brought to life in a realistic manner. Gone were the days of stop motion animation and the jerky figures it produced.

I enjoy the comic book heroes brought to the big screen format as well as on my flat screen at home. Being a science fiction and fantasy writer, it brings a new dimension to the characters I create for my novels. And who knows?…Maybe one day I’ll see a novel I’ve penned on the silver screen. I just hope it’s not filmed as the old Godzilla movies were with men jumping around in suits. Who knows? Maybe claymation will make a comeback, and then I’ll have it made.

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