Friday, August 30, 2013

No Work on Labor Day

     In honor of the holiday, and because I am a sucker for research, I decided to look into the history behind Labor Day.  I consider it penance since I’m taking the weekend off from blogging.  I’ll still be working but I am focusing solely on my next book.  Anyway, back to Labor Day….  While there is some discrepancy as to who came up with the concept, they all agree it started in 1882.  In true government style, it took twelve years for it to be deemed a Federal Holiday.  By that time, in 1894, thirty states had already been celebrating Labor Day. 
     For you trivia buffs, I have a few tidbits for you to enjoy.  On February 21, 1887, Oregon was the first state to embrace Labor Day as a holiday.  In the first proposal to initiate the holiday, the outline specified holding a street parade.  So, if you’re like me, and you’re constantly trapped behind the parade route in a never-ending line of traffic, we now know who’s to blame.  Way back, when there were rules for proper attire, Labor Day marked the end of wearing white until the next year.  (After Memorial Day)
     Labor Day was created, not only as an appreciation for the labor force, but to grant them a well-deserved day off.  Ironically, retail establishments recognized the prime opportunity to make more money so, not only are their employees working, they are often subjected to mandatory overtime.  So, whether you’re watching parades, barbequing, or making time + ½ for working the holiday, be safe!  I’ll be back in action after Labor Day.  Sleep well.  

Creating a Word

     In keeping with yesterday’s theme, I did a little research on how a word is added to the dictionary.  I have to admit, with the advent of “The Urban Dictionary”, I had hoped that the criteria for Oxford and Merriam-Webster would be more stringent.  Sadly, the main factor is usage.  So we have only ourselves, our children, or the media, to blame when nonsensical, foolish, expressions become official words.  
     According to the Merriam-Webster website, their editors are constantly scouring newspapers, magazines, books, and, pretty much anything they can get their hands on, searching for new words.  They also watch for new uses of existing words.  The data or “citations” are loaded into their computer system.  The numbers of citations are reviewed for source and consistency in usage. 
     Friends, my advice is this: if you hear people consistently using words that you find ridiculous, stop them.  We have the power to take back our language.  Stop the insanity before we are so inundated with ludicrous, meaningless words that we have no idea what anyone is saying.  If that doesn’t give you nightmares, nothing will.  Sleep well.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Downfall of the English Language

     The addition of the words “Twerk” and “Selfie” to the Oxford dictionary might just be proof of the complete decline of civilization.  The words bantered between most Americans is a pathetic bastardization of the English language.  I shudder at each incorrectly conjugated verb and garbled sentence fragment.  The deplorable state, of the spoke, word appears refined in comparison to the tragically incoherent ramblings, scattered across social media sites.
     I certainly understand that not everyone was afforded the same education I received; however, the opportunity to better one’s grammar is readily available.  One only needs to embrace the Internet, for something other than silly memes and videos.  Not sure whether to use “their” or “there”, in a sentence?  You only need to type “there vs their” into Google and you’ll get a very clear and concise answer.  I’d also like to recommend another site for your grammar conundrums. 

     This is not a paid advertisement.  I am only offering this tip in a selfish attempt to ease my own suffering.  Please, share this with your friends, relatives, and anyone who desperately needs some assistance!  It is our own apathy that allows this nonsense to continue.  I, for one, do not want to entrust our country to a nation of illiterates when I’m old.  It almost makes me wish the zombie apocalypse would begin so that I can bash some skulls of the twerking, selfie-taking fools that have sullied our language.  I suspect that zombies will have a broader vocabulary, anyway.  Sleep well.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Prepping for Z-day

     I have a confession to make.  I love watching those "Doomsday Prepper" shows on television.  There, I said it… Even if I don’t necessarily agree with their ideology, I always learn something new.  Sure, lots of people make fun of the preppers.  Their friends, neighbors, and sometimes even their family may think they’re going to extremes.  It all seems a little like overkill until you watch the evening news. 
     In light of the recent uproar in Syria, and allegations of chemical warfare, I imagine that there is a certain degree of comfort in being a hardcore prepper.  Part of me wonders how long it will be until chemical warfare escalates.  Biological warfare could be next.  Of course, you know that means one of two things: super flu a la The Stand or zombies.  I really wish some of the Doomsday Preppers would, at least, mention preparing for a zombie uprising.  I think they should dedicate the entire month of October to prepping for the Zombie Apocalypse.  I know plenty of people, myself included, who could give them some tips.  I can dare to dream, can’t I?  Sleep well.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

ZRT is the place to be!

     As much as I love writing my books and posting on this blog, I have to admit, having an article published in a magazine felt amazing.  I am very proud to be a part of the Zombie Response Team’s very first issue of their brand-new magazine.  The ZRT’s mission, to teach emergency preparedness and survival while, keeping it fun, intrigued me.  Let’s be honest, no matter how important it is to be prepared, if it isn't interesting; no one is going to pay attention. 
     Their motto is: “if you can survive a zombie apocalypse, you can survive anything”.  The ZRT’s website is jam-packed with valuable information and exciting ways to get involved.  Not to mention, the link for subscribing to the Zombie Response Team Magazine.  Please take a minute to check out their website at   to find out more. 
     In the meantime, I am working on an article to submit for next month’s issue.  I hope to be lucky enough to make more than one appearance in their magazine.  Whether it is a zombie uprising or a natural disaster, it is important to be prepared and educated.  The ZRT can help you be both!   

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Reading IS cool!

     It breaks my heart to hear kids say they “hate to read”.  Sadly, many of them are reflecting the negative feeling their parents have projected, instead of opening themselves up to the experience.  Without even realizing it, many parents have closed the door to a world of wonder to which their progeny may never gain access.  I recently read an article suggesting another contributing factor to their hatred- teachers who use reading assignments and book reports as a punishment, in schools.  It got me thinking.  That sort of mentality has crept into our society’s perception so stealthily that, perhaps, we haven’t even noticed it. 
     Take, for example, the news.  Once upon a time, people learned about what was happening, in the world, through newspapers.  Some of you may argue that newspapers are still in publication and, perhaps, you even subscribe.  Yet, statistically, subscriptions to print publications, both newspapers and magazines, have rapidly declined.  I know what you’re going to say.  Digital copies have replaced paper and it is better for the environment.  I am all for “going green” but think about it for a minute.  When you go online and look at news sites, most of the stories are videos.  More and more, I am finding that you can’t even find the transcription of the video to read.  I know because I like my news to be as slant-free as possible so I prefer to read it, rather that allow the inflections of the newscasters voice to sway my judgment.  At the rate we’re going, reading the news, either paper or electronic, will be a thing of the past. 
     The same could be said of books.  If I had a penny for every time I heard someone say, “I’ll just wait for the movie”, I wouldn’t just be rich, I’d be J.K. Rowling rich!  Even when I was in school, many of my friends would rent the movie rather than read the books.  Just an FYI to any high school students out there, most of the time, the movies are only loosely based on the books.  (very, very loosely)  Your teachers know this and will specifically ask you questions, based on the book, that were the exact opposite in the movie. 
     I know that, if you’re reading this, I am preaching to the choir.  You probably love to read as much as I do.  I hope that you share that love with your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, basically, everyone.  Let’s show the next generation how magical reading can be and let them learn to fall in love with books.  I don’t care if they’re e-books, paperback, or hardcover, as long as they read.  I think I’m going to grab my well-worn copy of The Stand and head to bed.  Sleep well.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Seasons change and so do they...

     As August dwindles, and summer comes to a close, it signals a change in seasons.  The variations in temperature, and climate, can play a vital role in your survival during a zombie uprising.  Understanding the affects of the elements, not only to yourself, but also on the rotting flesh of your enemy can be the difference between life and death.
     We all know that under the sweltering summer sun, or in desert climates, the risk of hyperthermia, dehydration, and sun poisoning only increases the danger, in an already volatile situation.  While zombies do not suffer the same risks, high temperatures are not a benefit for the enemy either.  Not only will the decaying flesh shrivel and bake- becoming jerky-like, we have other elements of nature joining in the fight.  Warm weather and insects go hand in hand.  Flies may like honey but they love decomposing meat.  While disgusting, maggots will be helping our cause by stripping away the muscles and tendons from their limbs.
     On the flipside, sub-zero temperatures, combined with snow and ice, present a new set of challenges.  We must be on guard against frostbite, hypothermia, and slipping on the ice.  I admit, the mere mention of slipping on the ice, conjures images of follies that would make The Three Stooges proud.  It’s easy to laugh about it now but; in the zombie apocalypse, a sprained ankle, or broken hip could be a death sentence.  That same ice will play havoc on the atrophying limbs of the flesh-eaters.  Use it to your advantage and get a little creative.  Is your safe house on a hillside?  Create your own version of a “Slip N Slide”, with ice, and enjoy the laughs as the zombies wipe out.  Not everything about preparing for “the Z word” has to be grim and dour.  A little levity can be a huge morale boost and a desperately needed reprieve from the stress.  Also, constant exposure to freezing temperatures can eventually freeze our enemy into zombie-pops.  Just think how much easier it will be to destroy their brains when they’ve been frozen solid.  Just be careful not to slip on the ice! 
     Rain, snow, sleet, or hail, we must be prepared to battle on until the last zombie falls.  Know the terrain, understand the climate, and use it to your advantage.  No one knows when the zombies will rear their ugly heads so…Sleep well.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dear S.G.

     I apologize in advance but this is going to be short and sweet.  For reasons I cannot comprehend, I have had a regular stream of people seeking advice from me.  The past couple of weeks have been particularly active so I think I should start an advice column.  If you have any issues you'd like for me to address, feel free to send me an email or use the contact form at the bottom of the page.  Writers have to be able to branch out and be versatile.  Besides, I can kill two birds with one stone by posting the advice column here with my blog.  Relationship woes, workplace disputes, fantasy football draft picks, tell me what's been keeping you up at night and I will do my best to help!  I'm your friendly, neighborhood advice columnist dispensing nuggets of truth with random anecdotes.  Sleep well.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Search Results: Zero

I had a grand idea to research the property where I grew up.  There had to be some kind of documented murder or suicide to explain the spirits in our house.  I hate to admit it but it was not as easy as it looks in the movies.  I love Google but, no matter what keywords I used, I could not get any information.  Next, I went to the County website to look up the records on the property.  I entered the exact address and the township name.  Again, I yielded zero results.  Literally, it said “your search yielded 0 results”.  Folks, it seems the entire address has been obliterated. 
     Rather than accept that the county’s website has drastic flaws, I decided to let my imagination run wild.  After all, that’s what I do best.  What if the house was a portal to another dimension?  For over a century, that house served as a gateway between the world we know and the spirit realm.  My bedroom was the toll bridge that monitored the traffic passing through.  While the house stood, both dimensions were on a parallel trajectory.  About eight years ago, when the house was torn down, the portal was destroyed.  Because both dimensions splintered from the parallel timeline, it caused a tear in the space-time continuum.  In this world, house number 1565 no longer exists but now there is no trace-not a single record.  Instead of the house being the portal, I   became the portal.  Only a connection with me allows a glimpse into the once stately, old home and the spirits who were able to cross over.  I checked my old photographs and not a single picture of the house itself remains.  Sure, I have pictures of friends and family in different rooms but pictures of us outside, that showed the house, are all gone.  I’m feeling a little like Marty McFly in Back to the Future.  The pictures completely faded because the timeline shifted and the reality that once was, is no longer.  When I am gone, the last connection between that house and this world will disappear.  Only time will tell if a new portal will be opened.  Until then, sleep well.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Terrors of Pennhurst

     Those who live in the Philadelphia area, along with fans of “Ghost Adventures” and “Extreme Paranormal”, are familiar with Pennhurst State School and Hospital.  Growing up, the name was spoken in hushed tones.  Rumors of hauntings and paranormal activity, circulated through whispers.  Stories frighten little children and grown-ups alike.  Dubbed “The Shame of Pennsylvania” by local newspapers, the abuse of patients at Pennhurst spurred investigations that spanned decades.  For fellow fans of “FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum”, the fictional “Briarcliff” wasn’t too far off track from the real horrors at Pennhurst.
     The institution opened in 1908 for physically and mentally handicapped patients to receive care and housing.  Within four years of opening the doors, Pennhurst was overcrowded and understaffed.  Perhaps, the abuse would have gone unnoticed if it hadn’t been for an exposé, in 1968, by the Philadelphia CBS affiliate titled, “Suffer the Little Children”.  A class action suit against the institution was filed in 1977.  A decade later, Pennhurst finally closed its doors…but not for good.
     In 2010, Pennhurst was reopened to the public.  Tours and attractions for all levels of paranormal devotees are available.  Both A&E and The Travel Channel featured Pennhurst on their popular paranormal shows and both deemed the campus to be teeming with spirits and entities.  But don’t take my word for it; you can check it out for yourself.  I’ll even make it easy for you.  Go to: but enter the site at your own risk.  The tortured souls are waiting for you.  Sleep well.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

MY friendly ghost

     As promised, today we are taking a closer look at the spirit realm.  For those of you who do not believe in ghosts, spirits, demons, and/or paranormal entities, let me attempt to enlighten you.  I wasn’t granted the luxury of choosing …
     I was only three years old when my family moved from our tiny row-home in Upper Darby to a single-family home, further out in the suburbs.  Our new home was over one hundred years old when we moved in.  We weren’t there long before I started to notice strange things.  Just like in the movies, my parents assured me that the strange noises were just “the house settling”.  You’d think that, after 100+ years, the house would have been settled but old homes make a great deal of noise. 
     Shortly after we moved in, “he” made contact.  It started innocently enough.  When I would wake in the middle of the night, a dark form, the size and shape of an adult, would be wandering around my bedroom.  The first time I saw him, I was too afraid to scream.  I pulled the covers up and watched him circle around my room until I eventually fell asleep again.  The next morning, my mother laughed and insisted I was just dreaming.  Yet, night after night he would be there.  Eventually, I realized he was not going to hurt me.  I was fortunate.  He was mischievous but never dangerous.  As I got older, he would move my things around and occasionally hide them. 
     Perhaps the most startling occurrence happened in my later teens.  It was the summer after high school graduation, and I was making the most of my freedom, before leaving for college.  I spent more time running around with my friends than I did at home that summer.  I was getting ready to head out again and I could not find my keys.  I distinctly remembered leaving them on the dining room table, but they were gone.  I asked my parents, and my little brother, but everyone swore they hadn’t touched my keys.  I finally found them, hidden underneath my nightstand, in my bedroom upstairs.  I actually had to lift the nightstand and move it away from the wall to reach the keys.  It was pretty obvious how they’d gotten there.  Annoyed that I was late, I grabbed my keys and dashed outside.  As I was backing my car out of our driveway, I saw him.  I saw him in my rearview mirror just as clearly as if he was sitting in my backseat.  When I turned around, he was gone and my backseat was empty.  Before I pulled away, I saw him heading back to the house.  I got the distinct impression he was sad that I wasn’t around as much anymore. 
     After I moved out, I had no interaction with him until years later.  My parents sold the property and, eventually, the house was torn down to make way for a newer model.  I started catching fleeting glimpses of a shadow in the dark.  I find myself wondering if he found me and has taken up residence in my home.  Every time I can’t find my keys, I smile and wonder if he’s playing pranks again.  Whether you believe it or not, there are spirits all around us but not all are harmless.  Sleep well.   

Saturday, August 17, 2013

About "The Conjuring"

       Still basking in the spine-tingling glow of The Conjuring, my head is filled with delightfully horrific wonderment.  It has been a long time since I’ve seen a horror movie so thoughtfully crafted.  Even the tiniest details blended into a harmonious symphony of fear.  Back in the olden days, people used to stand and applaud at the end of a movie.  The Conjuring made me want to reinstate that practice.  It managed to take everything I loved about The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, and Paranormal Activity, and combine them into an entirely new experience. 
     I love when filmmakers break the molds and add in their own unique twists, instead of falling back on the same old gimmicks.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic to see new zingers instead of the tired, predictable, cheap scares that are often employed.  Every time the opportunity presented itself, for the same old shtick, they went in a different direction.  I cannot wait to see it again!  In fact, it has inspired me to spend a little time discussing ghosts, spirits, and other paranormal entities.  Tomorrow, we will delve further into the supernatural.  For now, I will enjoy the euphoria.  Sleep well.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Give “Reboots” the Boot

     Maybe it’s just because I am sick, but I feel the need to rant a little bit.  I am frustrated by the never-ending parade of remakes and/or reboots of movies.  In some rare instances, a reboot can improve on a series that was sub-par; however, more often than not, the opportunity is squandered.  Case in point, the remakes of Footloose, Red Dawn, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.  For the most part, the only major differences were in wardrobe and the soundtrack.  Neither of those are a viable reason to remake a film. 
     I truly believe that the only reason to remake a film or reboot a series is to improve upon or enhance the original.  Batman Begins, and the subsequent sequels, was a huge improvement over every other Batman film and encouraged a new generation of caped crusader fans.  Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween, with the addition of Michael Myers’ childhood traumas and the secret behind the mask, embraced the spirit of the original while making it a new, exciting film.  There are scores of new authors creating new, unique works every day.  I’d rather see Indie books get their day in the sun than for Hollywood to churn out the same old stuff. 
     For everyone’s sake, including mine, I hope I feel better tomorrow.  For me, it is time for some Nyquil.  Sleep well.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Twisted Imagery

     One of my favorite pranks in horror stories is taking a seemingly innocent object and turning it into something evil.  Demon-possessed toys, or the car in Christine, are good examples of horror trickery.  Twisting the mundane into an object of terror can be more challenging than you’d expect. 

     We've all seen movies where the villain was, to be polite, less than effective.  The Gingerdead Man and Jack Frost, I’m looking at you…  Not everything can be turned into a nightmare.  However, the true masters of horror can take an everyday object, like a child’s toy or a new home, and strike the fear of God into you.  Going into the basement is no longer safe and forget about taking a shower.  We have to watch out for birds, rabid dogs, black cats, spiders, and snakes so, essentially, we can’t go outside.  Technology must be avoided because of killer videos and, “Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep”.  No matter where you go, and what you do, there’s always something ready to kill you.  Sleep well.   

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Restored Faith in Humanity

     I am often surprised by the inordinate amount of complaining and bad-mouthing found on social media sites.  If an alien race is monitoring our technology, looking for a glimpse into humanity, then there is a good chance they’ll want to exterminate us.  One minute brokenhearted singles will be posting embarrassing pictures of their exes on Facebook, while extremists are trashing a rival group on Twitter, then BLAM!  Incinerating laser beams from space will wipe out every man, woman and child on the planet.  In an effort to stave off our extermination, I’d like to share a story about the kindness of complete strangers.
     Recently, I submitted an article to a magazine for publication but I needed some photographs to go along with the story.  There are plenty of pictures of Halligan Tool’s online but I encountered some difficulty securing the rights.  The last thing I’d ever want to do is infringe on someone’s copyright.  So, I decided to take a shot in the dark and call my local Fire Department.  They gave me permission to come by and take as many pictures as I wanted.  I was ecstatic that they were so accommodating but it got even better.  When I arrived, they gave me a quick tour and then we went out to the garage.  Not only was I permitted to take pictures; they let me hold it and swing it around.  When I had taken all the pictures I needed, they proceeded to show me other tools and equipment that might be helpful.  They took time out of their busy schedule to help me and never once made me feel like I was a bother or an imposition.
     I have always had a great deal of respect for Firefighters because of their hard work and dedication.  Anyone who chooses to risk their lives, to protect their community, is an ace in my book but this was above and beyond the call of duty.  It was extraordinary to learn about the different tools of their trade straight from the men who use them.  One thing is for certain; when the zombies rise up, if you do not have a stash of weapons, go immediately to your local fire station because they have some of the best non-firing tools/weapons ever manufactured.  My deepest thanks and appreciation to the fine men and women at the Fairmont Fire Department for your kindness and the amazing work you do!    

Monday, August 12, 2013

Storming the Castle

         I’ve been seeing a lot of ads for the new “Doomsday Castle” series.  I have to admit, I am curious but also hesitant.  Because a teaser isn’t meant to give too much away, it is hard to tell what direction they are going with the show.  On one hand, if they are keeping in the theme of “Doomsday Preppers” we could be in for an entertaining and highly educational show.  However, I am afraid that it might end up being more like “Big Brother” than “Preppers”, focusing on silly drama instead of hardcore survival tactics.
     The building itself looks relatively sturdy.  The turrets and battlements make excellent watch posts for targeting the enemy.  Installing a portcullis adds an additional layer of protection.  From what I could see, they are completely solar powered.  Honestly, most of these attributes would be beneficial during a zombie apocalypse.
     So far, I could only find one thing that would be useless to protect them against the undead: a moat.  While it provides a deterrent to living, breathing, humans, a moat means nothing to zombies.  Even with alligators or crocodiles, stocked in the water, the hordes could multiply to numbers that would overwhelm the amphibious reptiles.  I say, drain the water and line the trenches with metal spikes.  These pits, also known as “tiger traps”, would effectively protect your castle from invading looters and the flesh-eaters.  Granted, your homeowner’s insurance would drop you like a hot potato but an insurance policy won’t protect you from a zombie uprising.  I noticed on the website that there is a “build your own castle” game so I think I need to go play around.  Sleep well.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


     Like the saying goes, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.”  For those of you who do, it really only takes three words.  “Freddy or Jason”.  Horror fans fight, to the bloody end, over which slasher king rules supreme.  Both franchises left a lasting impression on me.
     I first saw Friday the 13th when I was nine.  Let’s just say my babysitter was less than diligent, but I loved it.  Sure, it scared the crap out of me, especially since I had just come home from summer camp but it was well worth the sleepless nights.  Needless to say, after my mom found out, I never had that babysitter again.  I had to wait until I got a little older to see the rest of the series.  Just for fun, when I go into my basement, alone at night, I like to make the sound effect.  “Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma.”  That little clip is almost as recognizable as the first few notes of the Jaws theme. 
     My introduction to Freddy, and his A Nightmare on Elm Street, was during a visit with my older cousin.  Sensing a theme here?  My mom did not approve of horror movies.  It took a few years, and the realization that, one way or another; I was going to see them, before I could watch horror films at home.  I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled she is, that I am writing horror, but that is for another post. 
    What captivated me the most about A Nightmare on Elm Street was the psychological aspect.  I have always had very vivid dreams.  The idea of a nightmare becoming a physical reality was sheer brilliance.  For those of you who either, cannot remember your dreams or they’re just bland and boring, you are truly missing out!  Every night, when I close my eyes, it’s like having the best seat at a private screening for a new movie.  Because of my overactive imagination, I was able to embrace the character of Freddy in a more personal way.  My dreams would make the perfect playground for a villain like Freddy Krueger.  Plus, my quirky, offbeat, sense of humor appreciated his snide little quips. 
     Personally, I found the Friday the 13th movies, as a whole, scarier that A Nightmare on Elm Street.  However, in the character debate, I’ll choose Freddy every time.  “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you”.  Sleep well.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The sign of a good show

     I've come to the conclusion that, one of the marks of a really good television program, is when, either my sweetie or I, talk to the characters.  If we’re both shouting at the screen then, it’s a winner.  On a side note: we would never, ever, do that if anyone else watched with us.  (Unless, we specifically invited friends over to for our own version of MST3K)  We are sticklers for audience etiquette in public places.  Plain and simple, you do not talk during public screenings because it is rude.  We are both in agreement that people who talk in movie theaters should have their tongues torn from their mouths with hot pincers.  Or, at the very least, they should be tarred and feathered or locked in stockades outside of the theater.  If you’d like to read about other forms of torture, be sure to click on my Archives, look under “July,” and select “Torture Devices”.  I’m sure you can find one to tickle your fancy.  

      But, back to the topic at hand, television programs.  In the privacy of your own home, you are free to behave in any way you choose.  I do not know how we fell into this silly practice but I noticed it this morning.  Because of our conflicting schedules, we usually DVR our favorite shows so that we can watch them together.  In this case, we DVR’d a new show that sounded interesting.  This one had it all, great acting, an interesting storyline, and murder within the first three minutes.  I’d say, given our reaction, we've added a new show to our list.  Hopefully, my dreams will be filled with death and dismemberment.  It’s always fun to come up with new ways to maim those pesky punks who text and Tweet in the cinemas.  Sleep well.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Interruptions and Distractions

     I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done today.  Most of the time, when I sit down to write, I am in my own little world.  The blinders are on and I become completely immersed in my work.  Today was the glaring exception.  Sure, I had some computer issues to deal with but I can’t put the full blame there.  (Most, but not all) 
     By mid-afternoon, I had most of the bugs worked out of the new program and I was ready to work…or so I thought.  Just as I was getting a new scene on the page, the next interruption struck.  My puppy was in rare form today.  I was typing away, in mid-sentence, when she darted into the room and stole the sock right off my foot.  She’s like a little stealth bomber.  She dashes in, without a sound, and is gone again before you even realize what hit you.  For such a little thing, she is ridiculously fast.  She tries to obey commands so I managed to get the sock back immediately but she really wanted to play.  I sat down and she brought me a toy.  She’s really subtle too.  She jumps up drops it right on my keyboard.  I decided that, after a quick play-break, I would knuckle down and get to work. 
     I received phone calls, text messages, Twitter messages and emails from pretty much everyone I know and next thing I knew, my sweetie was home from work.  Then, there was dinner and more silliness from the puppy.  I tried again after dinner but this time, the distraction was my own fault.  I know it’s preseason, but football is back.  I had to check in on my hometown team.  So, I think I’m just going to count this as a rare vacation day and tomorrow I will be back on track.  Sleep well!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Changing Gears

     I regret to admit, as I sat down to work on my post for today, my gut reaction was to rant about my crappy Internet provider.  Since I have been fighting with it all day, I can’t even guarantee that my post will actually make it up tonight.  However, I don’t feel that it is fair for you, the reader, to absorb all that negativity.  I can’t imagine why anyone would want to read my angry, sarcasm–laden tirade so I’m changing gears. 
     Instead, I’d like to focus on exciting events on the horizon.  For example, I recently sent out some queries so I anticipate finding a new agent soon.  Obviously, the much anticipated and glorious day when I find a publisher to release my book, ranks at the top of my list.
     On a less personal note, there is a plethora of fun and entertaining activities brewing this fall.  Just seeing pre-season football airing on television was enough to get me in the mood for fall.  On the sporting front, October is my favorite month for sports.  Football is in full swing, the playoff and World Series (even though my Phillies will not make it) will be on, and the NHL will be back on the ice. 
     We can also expect to see new, hopefully terrifying, horror movies hitting the theaters.  Especially with Halloween just around the corner, horror fans are gearing up for the spookiest time of the year.  If the big screen disappoints, we can look forward to the fall lineup on TV.  I am anxiously awaiting the third season of “American Horror Story” on FX.   It goes without saying that AMC’s The Walking Dead is must-see TV. 
     With full contact sports, blood, and violence on the horizon, it looks like this fall is shaping up to be entertaining.  Sleep well.     

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Strange dreams and other nonsense

     I think it would be amazingly fun to build a resort and base the theme on my “Journal of the Undead” books.  Assuming money was not an issue, I would buy a large parcel of land in the mountains.  This is where it gets fun. 
     To protect my guests from zombies, I would need to surround the property with a concrete wall.  I’m thinking approximately eight feet tall and three feet thick.  Because I have an eye for aesthetics, it would have to be ornately decorated and perhaps some wrought-iron scroll work on the top.  The gates would need to be both effective and attractive.  Picture drawbridge, minus the moat.  The landscaping I will leave in the hands of professionals, so feel free to picture whatever type of greenery appeals to you. 
     Now the fun part begins.  The type of experience my guests want to have would dictate which building would hold their room.  You see, I understand that not all of us have spouses or significant others who would want the full zombie-compound experience.  One building would be a charming, bed and breakfast style décor with all of the amenities of a fine resort.  The other would be more in keeping with “The Cabin”, the compound designed by Doc, Frank, and Jimmy in Journal of the Undead: Littleville Uprising.  Don’t get me wrong Jimmy is an excellent contractor.  He designed and built an attractive and functional living space but not on the lines of a resort.
     Dining experiences would also follow the theme.  The cabin had delicious, family-style, home cooking so guests would eat well.  Fresh, local produce and wild game would play a big factor in the meal planning.  
     My favorite part would be the entertainment.  During the day, hardcore zombie enthusiasts would get to learn survival techniques, hone their skills on shooting ranges, and participate in bug-out exercises.  If your sweetie doesn’t enjoy those things, there would be spa services, nature walks, and even fun activities for the kiddies.  There’s no reason zombies can’t be a family affair.  At night, how does a full zombie invasion sound?  Participants, armed with laser guns, would need to survive the onslaught of undead hordes (a.k.a. my staff or guests wanting to wear zombie makeup).  We would have to create special halos for the “zombies” to wear that would only detect headshots.  Once the brain has been targeted, that zombie is out of the game.  However, if the zombies grab you, then you’re dead meat.  You have to drop your weapon and join the ranks of the undead. 
     I could ramble on but I think you get the point.  Until it comes into existence, like me, you’ll just have to imagine it in your dreams.  Sleep well. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Interesting Observation

     I’ve noticed a strange trend in my thought processes lately.  Because I am a good listener, people tend to tell me their problems.  Apparently, they must think I give good advice, because they keep coming back.  Anyway, I find myself relating their situation back to the characters in my book.  When someone has relationship troubles, I am quick to point out that Ryan and Cassie would never have gotten together if she hadn’t discovered Royce was cheating on her.  If someone is having trouble fitting in at their new job or at school, I give them the same advice Matt gave to Emma.  I spend more time with my characters than with real people.  I was beginning to think I had a problem but then I realized that I’m not the only one. 
     I saw someone on Twitter say that she can’t date-because a fictional character stole her heart.  My hope is that, one day; someone will feel that kind of connection with my characters.  Perhaps, because I spend so much time breathing life into the heroes and heroines in my stories, after publication, they will live on in the hearts and minds of others.  Without a doubt, that must be the best compliment a writer could ever receive-that the reader connected on such a deeply personal level with his or her characters.  I’d love to know that you want Evan to be a part of your zombie survival squad.  However, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t need to know any other fantasies.  Save those for your dreams.  Sleep well.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hitting the Rye

     I just read The Catcher in the Rye, again, for the millionth time.  There is a certain charm, and honesty, in Holden Caulfied that you have to appreciate.  Unfettered by the fear of being “politically correct”, he calls it like he sees it.  Granted, much of the slang is very dated but it is still an extraordinary insight into an adolescent’s struggle to form his own identity. 
     There is one particular part that always speaks to me.  It seems that anyone who embraces writing will encounter a similar situation, at one point or another.  Holden’s friend/roommate, Stradlater, tries to weasel a favor out of him and asks Holden to write a composition.  After the obligatory compliment about Holden being a “hotshot in English”, he proceeds to negate the compliment by saying, “don’t stick all the commas and stuff in the right places.”  This is where I totally agree with the young Mr. Caulfield.  When people imply that the only reason they can’t write is because they, like Stradlater, don’t know where to put the commas, it is insulting.  Or to directly quote Holden, “That’s something else that gives me a royal pain”.  Granted, that was a bigger issue in Salinger’s day, especially since there was no such thing as Spell-check, but there is more to writing than inserting punctuation in the right place. 
     In certain social situations, I am tempted to avoid telling people that I am a writer.  It never fails…someone insists on telling me that they could be a writer, too.  Well, if they were a better speller and if they knew where to put the commas, that is.  My only comfort is that those same people are telling Michelin Star chefs that, if they didn’t burn food, they could run a world famous restaurant or, if they didn’t fail out of college, they could be a famous heart surgeon.  Perhaps mediocrity is the worst nightmare of all….  Sleep well.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Shark Mania

     Summertime in the Philadelphia area generally means one thing…going to "the shore".  As a child, my grandparents would take us to Wildwood, NJ every summer.  For those of you who immediately associate the beaches in New Jersey with the television show “Jersey Shore”, I promise you, it was nothing like that! 
     When I think of my grandparents, wonderful memories of our summer trips come to mind.  Yet, my train of thought is easily derailed.  I start off picturing sand castles, seashells, walks on the beach, and sunlight glistening off the ocean.  That’s where it all falls apart.  The instant I think of oceans, I immediately think of Jaws.  I love that movie.  Of course, with Shark Week starting tomorrow, I am more than ready to get my fill of Great White attacks. 
     I’ve found a way to highlight my shark obsession into two books of my “Journal of the Undead” series.  If I can find a way to reference sharks and/or Jaws in the third book, I definitely will.  I think Jaws character, Matt Hooper, summed it up best when he said, “What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine.  It's really a miracle of evolution.  All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that's all.  Sharks truly are an evolutionary wonder.  Shark movies are almost guaranteed to draw crowds, even if they never quite generate the magic of Spielberg’s 1975 classic.  The Jaws theme just might be the most recognizable tune ever composed. 
     Though I do not receive any compensation for it, I’d still like to encourage you to check out Shark Week on Discovery Channel.  They never fail to deliver.  As a little teaser, here’s a link to their incredibly funny “Snuffy the Seal Commercial”.
 Usually, I conclude by saying, “Sleep Well”.  Just for tonight, I’m going to switch it up and offer you another quote from Jaws.  You’ll have to imagine Quint singing.  His voice is only slightly better than mine.  
  Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies.  Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we've received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so never more shall we see you again. ”

Friday, August 2, 2013

On a roll

     Honestly, I really was on a roll today.  I was so engrossed in my work that I felt like someone pressed the fast-forward button.  In turn, that made me think of "The Sims", which made me think about my post from the other day.  I can't believe that I didn't mention "The Sims" when I wrote about video games.  Where was my brain? 
     I think the reason "The Sims" and each of the subsequent sequels, garnered so much success is because we all like to run the show.  For those of us who are control-freaks, it is the perfect game.  Essentially, you get to play God.  What could be better than that? Well, I can only think of one thing....writing.
     Unlike the video game, writing allows you to create any world you desire.  You are only limited by your own imagination, rather than the program.  There are no surprises.  Everyone reacts exactly the way you planned and there are no obstacles beyond your capabilities.  In the game, occasionally, your Sim will throw a temper tantrum and refuse to do the task you've selected.  I find this amusing.  It is even funnier when the Sim stomps his/her feet and pitches a fit because they're hungry but the task you selected was "order pizza" or "have a snack".  It seems peculiar to me that the Sim doesn't recognize the command as being the very thing they want.  Meanwhile, I'm talking to the screen saying, "Yeah, I know.  I'm trying to give you what you want so knock off the tantrum and just do it, already!"  Sometimes, I wonder if God looks at us and thinks the same thing.  Food for thought.... Sleep well.