Friday, December 16, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion, Part 2

So, My Love's book has been on sale through Amazon's Kindle Store since November 20. Sales are going great, but we're still waiting for a review. Good or bad, just say something, people! Get the word out to potential readers, that's all we ask.

Perhaps those who have read "Diana's Dreams" are still in shock*, unable to function due to fear and having their worldview shattered. That's okay. I understand. I spent three days in a coma after reading it, and that was the first draft! Just relax; you'll get though this. Take a deep breath and repeat to yourself: "It's just a book, it's just a book..."

On a side note, fellow writer and Blogger Matt Ballard, author of Diary of a Nerd King, is giving away a free Kindle Fire or iPod Touch on his website. Check it out, buy his book, and buy Brenda's book on Kindle, "Diana's Dreams". You'll be glad you did, once your vision returns to normal and the palpitations stop*.

*symptoms may vary due to age, health history, and exposure to Lovecraft. If reading this book results in an erection lasting more than four hours, consult your doctor. A psychiatrist that is, you sick bastard.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh, The Horror!

So, you might not have heard that My Love is now a PUBLISHED AUTHOR! Her first full-length novel Diana's Dreams has been available through Kindle's website since November 20. So far, sales have been good, but word needs to get out. Nobody has left a review yet. I've been appointed to Brenda's marketing department, and am trying to get the word out.

Now, her adult horror novel is available through the Kindle Owner's Lending Library. This means that Kindle owners can now borrow books for free, and the author receives a royalty. Granted, this is far less than what she would earn from a sale, but it gets the book out there, hopefully garnering some praise (or even hate, at this point any press is good press).

So, what are you waiting for? I love the book, not just because the author gives me sexytime, but because it's a damned good read. Scary, touching, suspenseful, this book will keep you up at night. Give it a try. The more books we sell, the happier My Love will be.

And that means more sexytime for me!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Zombies: A Love Story

I love zombies.

Well, not literally. Figuratively. I don't have a zombie blow-up doll or anything.But zombie movies, games, t-shirts, songs about zombies? Yeah, I'm all over that. Again, NOT literally.

I currently have three shirts featuring zombies, play two games about them, own seven movies based around the zombie apocalypse (no, not the crappy Resident Evil ones, or the "Return of the Living Dead" ripoffs), watch The Walking Dead religiously, and so on.

Of course, this raises the question: Why? What is it about zombies that so fascinates me that I would immerse myself in the culture? And no, I'm not jumping on any bandwagon. At the risk of sounding hipster-ish, I was into zombies long before they became culturally relevant. When I first caught Night of the Living Dead on late-night TV I was 17, and I was hooked. I'm 41 now; do the math (I don't want to).

Again, why? I'm not normally into gruesome stuff. I don't have a weak stomach. I can watch a gory horror movie, or a medical procedure being performed. Hell, My Love watches those true crime stories like Forensic Files and fictional ones such as CSI, and I watch right along with her. But I'm not a gore fanatic. I avoid crap like the Saw movies and Hostel. I'm not into torture porn for a cheap thrill.

There's something else about the zombie genre that appeals to me. It took me years to realize what it is: I'm afraid of it.

Most people, I think, enjoy horror movies because they represent something they fear. Whether it be vampires, werewolves, zombies, alien invaders, ghosts, or what have you, people like to face up to those irrational terrors. I'm not sure exactly why this is; I'm no psychologist. It's a need of some sort. That's good enough for me. Other movie monsters don't give me that thrill/chill like zombies.

It's deeper than that, though (bear with me here). The nightmares I've had regarding the walking dead don't revolve around being chased by them. It's always a fear of becoming one of them. That, I feel, is what makes the zombie such a gruesome and formidable enemy in the horror genre. Sure, in most tales, a vampire or werewolf's bite can make you one of them, but not always. Besides, being a vampire means still being you, essentially, and a werewolf only need fear the moon three nights a month.

Zombies are forever.

To me, the fear of losing one's self, one's humanity, is what makes the idea so appalling. Zombies were once ordinary people, like you or me, who now shamble about, rotting, filthy, devouring their own kind, mindless. And there it is: mindless. The thought of losing who I am, my identity, individuality, personality, memories, hopes, dreams, loves, LIFE, frightens the hell out of me.

Some zombie purists (what the hell does that even mean?) complain that movies such as 28 Days Later (one of my favorites) are not really 'zombie' movies. "No," they sniff, "they are Infected, not zombies!" Well lah-de-freakin'-dah! To me, the Borg from Star Trek are a classic example of the zombie mythos. Infected, Borg, zombie... it all boils down to stripping one's humanity away. And that scares the hell out of me.

I'm about to go off on a tangent here. Just hang in there. It relates, trust me.

I don't use drugs, nor do I drink alcohol. No, I'm not going to start preaching here. To each his own. Now I've never smoked pot or taken anything stronger than a prescription painkiller, and that was only in extreme conditions. Normally, I'd rather bear up under the pain if I can. As for alcohol, I beat that particular demon years ago. I've been sober for over 20 years, and the world is a better place for it. What I learned from my drinking days was this: That's not me. I lose my temper when drunk, want to fight anyone and everyone (and everything, including walls, cabinet doors, mannequins, etc.).

I lose control when I'm drunk. Motor control, emotional control, mental control, all gone. And that loss of control scares the hell out of me. I can't imagine getting high, especially on a powerful amphetamine or hallucinogen, and not being me. Not that I'm any treat sober. But, I'm a control freak, at least when it comes to my own life. Relinquishing that control to something or someone else is unconscionable to me.

By the same token, I fear diseases of the mind. Alzheimer's, dementia, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), all of them steal your memories. I avoid stories about Alzheimer's because the concept frightens me. Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost sympathy for victims of these terrible diseases. I can read the stories of cancer victims and feel empathy and compassion. But I can't face the possibility of my mind being robbed from me. I know that makes me weak.

Hence, the fear of zombies. The fear of a simple scratch on the arm stealing away who I am and leaving a mindless beast in it's place. Compared to that, becoming a vampire or werewolf sounds almost pristine in comparison. Unless it's one of those sparkly vampires or shirtless man-child werewolves. In that case, I'm terrified of losing my masculinity, not humanity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nanowrimo no mo'

So, I found out about Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, last year near the end of November, far too late to participate. I'm not sure where I got my information, but was under the impression it was a contest of sorts, with reviews and prizes.

Guess I should have investigated further...

I'm over 2000 words into my novel, a new story idea that had been banging around in my head for a few years, when My Love asked about Nanowrimo. So, I started looking up what the contests and prizes were, and what publishing houses participated. The site is murder to navigate; we actually had to use Google to find the information page. And I was dumbstruck.

The only "prize" offered is a virtual badge if you hit 50,000 words. No publishers or other readers review your work, no offers are made for publication.

I know it's my fault for misunderstanding, but we're sorely disappointed. I don't need motivation to write. (I do, however, need motivation to finish a project before starting another. Seriously, I have 14 unfinished stories on one USB drive.) So, now my Word Count sits at around 2000. I'm done participating. My Love has a finished novel (and yes, I'm jealous) recently submitted to Penguin publishing. They rejected it, kindly, so we've self-published on Kindle.

Seriously, Nanowrimo, what's the motivation? I already love writing; it's my favorite hobby. Setting aside what I was already writing to contribute to Nanowrimo turned out to be a big waste of time.. time I could have spent on one of my half-finished stories. Plus, there's no real guarantee someone won't steal your idea, or even your work, once you submit your story.

Sorry, Nanowrimo fans, I'm sitting this one out. So will the story I started writing. Maybe if you offered an incentive beyond "motivating me", then I might continue.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Diana's Dreams

Time for a little self-promotion.

Sort of.


My Love, my wife, Brenda just published her book on Kindle: Diana's Dreams. It's a dark, very dark modern fantasy/horror novel. The protagonist, Diana (duh) is kidnapped by an obsessive stalker. Her husband and former lover join forces to try and find her. The catch? Her husband is infected with lycanthropy, a werewolf. Her kidnapper is a dark wizard using magic to hide their whereabouts.

I love this story. Of course, it's filled with magic, monsters, sex, gore and graphic violence, so... right up my alley.

Yours too. Give it a read. Only $2.99 in the Kindle Store. Read it. You know you want to. Doooo iiiiiiiiit...

The cat's Out of the Bag

So, we adopted another cat.

I'd like to say I was coerced into it by my pleading wife and wide-eyed children, but I'm a pushover when it comes to tha kitties. I grew up surrounded by cats, none of them fixed. Therefore, there were ALWAYS kittens around. Suffice it to say that, unlike a lot of men, I like cats. No, let's be honest: I love them.

Of course, I take a lot of grief about that. As if caring about an animal that isn't a slobbering bundle of destruction is unmanly. A lot of guys love cats, even famous men. Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Albert Einstein and H. G. Wells were all cat owners.

Don't get me wrong. Being a cat lover doesn't make me a dog hater. I've lived with dogs, but only so long as I lived with my parents. Dogs are too much work, and therefore I've never owned one since leaving their place. They're cute and lovable, and certainly prone to more affection than a cat; but, dogs are a hassle beyond what my busy life can accept. For example: say you have to go on a trip, be out of town for three days. Can you leave your dog alone all that time? No. With a cat, just leave a bog bowl of food and water and a clean litterbox, and you're golden.

Try doing that with a dog. Seriously: it will eat all the food and drink all the water in the first six hours, then suffer for over two days. Crapping everywhere. Yeah, I'll take the cat.

As of three weeks ago, we had only one cat: Magic. We found her six years ago when we still lived in Columbus, OH. Someone had abandoned her one wintry January outside of McDonald's, in the dumpster. My Love found her, scrawny, starving, shivering and miserable, but affectionate. She brought her home. I didn't want a pet; I'd buried too many over the years. Three begging faces won me over, and now we have a 22-pound lump of black-and-white fur that lays around all day doing nothing. That's my job, damnit!

A few months ago, three stray cats showed up on our porch. The little Kansas town where we moved is home to quite a few strays. It's mainly a dog town; the cat lovers are few and far between. The red-headed stepchildren of Jennings, KS. The three siblings were fairly young. We've never seen their parents. We and two of our close neighbors put out food for them. My son named them, to my dismay. The whitish-gray tabby and his dark calico sister became Yin and Yang; the orange tabby was Morris.

Not long after arriving, Yang became pregnant. Seven weeks or so after we noticed this, she suddenly showed up, no longer pregnant. I assumed she'd lost the litter, as she was quite sickly. Then one day she showed up with this little, pale gray fuzzball. I was relieved. The next day came a dark gray male kitten. How cute. For the next three days, she introduced her litter one by one. At this point I was actually begging her to stop.

Now we had five kittens and two adults on our porch (Morris took a disliking to the kittens and wandered off). We couldn't take them in, for Magic would eat them. We tried to find homes for them, but only two of the litter were adopted. Then, Yang disappeared and hasn't been seen in weeks. Their uncle Yin takes care of them, and does a wonderful job, even when the little morons try to nurse from him. His long-suffering looks are an amusement to me. "Sucks to be you!" I say to him, enjoying my rapier wit. Then he craps in my shoe, and I say "Touche".

As it started getting colder, the kittens found three homes with warm shelters on their porches, the only cat lovers in town living around us. Still, the biggest one wasn't coping well. It wanted our companionship more than its siblings. Finally, the pudgy little dimbulb, which My Love named Chumlee, got adopted into our home.

Chumlee is loving, enjoys cuddling, and is playful in a way the long-spayed and quite content Magic isn't. He also loves to crap in my bathroom if Magic blocks the path to the litterbox, loves to climb my back until it resembles hamburger, and constantly baits our other cat, even though she obviously hates him.

Yeah, pets are soooo relaxing.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Terrible Teens!

My boys are 11 and 13, respectively.  Actually, they don't give me much respect, but that's to be expected.  They're teenagers.

I never understood parents who gripe about their children's "teen years": the sullen attitude, talking back, disobeying rules, fits of depression, fits of anger.  As if they themselves didn't put their own parents through the same thing lo those many years ago.  We tend to look upon our own youth through rose-tinted glasses.  WE were saints, right?  Never gave mom and dad an ounce of trouble?  Yeah, right.

If they're still around, go and ask your own parents what your teen years were like.  What they went through with you.  Then, quit griping.  They're teens, just like you were, with the same rush of hormones to deal with.  The same increase in responsibility without a like amount of respect.  The same disdain from adults to bear with, the same mistrust and fear of authority.  The same temptations: sex, drugs, fast cars, theft, disobedience.

Being a teen sucks.  Not to pat myself on the back, but I tend to consider myself enlightened when it comes to that little revelation.  So many parents scoff at the idea of the teen life being difficult, as if all the above issues mean nothing when compared to adult concerns.  Sure, we have bills, jobs, responsibilities they don't have.  But they live in a tight little microcosm that includes school, home and friends and not much else.

Junior high and high school are a crucible, constantly pounding away at a kid's individuality.  It exists to mold the future adults from the primal clay of adolescence.  Does it ever feel good to be molded, to be fit into a little box and told "This is how you should be,"?  Even if it's for 'their own good', nobody likes being told what to do.  And that's what being a teenager consists of: being told what to do.  Day in and day out, do this, not that, look this way, don't be different, follow the rules, sit quietly, keep your opinions to yourself.  Then we tell them to 'just be yourself'.  No wonder so many teens become sullen and depressed.

Your reputation as an adult is based on many realms.  You are one person at work, one when out at the bar with friends, another at home with the family.  You can leave work stresses behind at the bar or the game, or come home to your significant other, who hopefully eases your troubled thoughts.  Husband or wife driving you nuts?  At your job, you can throw yourself into your work, or shoot the breeze with friends.  There's always another option.  But high school is work, friends and family all rolled up into one.  If someone at work is spreading nasty rumors, you can report them, confront them, ignore them, or find another job.  In school, those rumors are part of your whole world.  It's a vile little world, and what happens there is your everything.  There is no escape.

I remember my own teen years as one would recall a particularly vivid nightmare upon awakening.  I was the 'odd' kid, with looks and mannerisms that didn't fit the status quo.  As if facing being poured into the societal mold wasn't enough, I faced humiliation from my peers, my parents, even some cruel teachers.  Junior high and high school sucked.  Security followed me around department stores, even though I never shoplifted in my life.  Nobody wanted my opinion, even on those rare times I had a valid point to make.  Yet I was expected to work hard at school, make my teachers and parents proud.  Responsibility without respect.

So, when our own teens start going through those years of angst, why do we act surprised, even affronted, at what we have to face?  It reminds me of a comment a friend made recently, mentioning how angry he got when people complained about rush hour traffic.  "As if it were a new thing," he grumbled, "like you didn't do the same thing yesterday, and the day before, for weeks on end!"  So when your teen starts acting out, talking back, getting into trouble, try a new tactic besides yelling and complaining.  Try understanding.  Be strict, but be fair.  Because being a teenager sucks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Long Time, No See (or, No, I Haven't Met Dorothy Yet)

So, we've moved.  I mean, in the physical world. My blog is still where it used to be. Blogger's been good to me, no need to leave it. No, I mean we have relocated to a different part of the U.S. Namely, the family has traveled to Kansas.

So ends our love/hate relationship with Columbus, which stopped seeming like a home and began taking on the aspects of an abusive boyfriend. The crime, the poverty, joblessness, new government, everything was getting ugly. The city lost its appeal. My Beloved and I were looking for someplace quiet to raise the boys.

Boy, did we ever find it...

Jennings, KS is in the middle of nowhere. There are no sizable cities near us. One has to drive an hour to even find something that can be called a city. The town has a library, town hall, fire department... and that's it. No grocery store, no Walmart, no school, no playground. Just a quiet, sleepy little neighborhood filled with retirees and empty plots of lane.

In a word: perfect. I love the quiet. No more loud music at 2am, no more underwear showing above saggy-ass pants, no more police helicopters droning overhead almost constantly, no pimp wagons, no more bad drivers (sorry, Columbus, but you people cannot drive). The weather is mild, the wide open skies make the land seem to go on forever, the lack of light pollution opens up a sky full of stars for the boys to observe (and big thanks to for the Klutz Guide to the Galaxy giveaway).

Now, when I say the weather is mild, I mean most of the time. There are storms, big ones. We just had a tornado warning last night. Not watch, warning. Scary thunderstorms rip trough this area from time to time, and I have seen a couple funnel clouds form, and then break up, as we traveled around the area. But I'd rather deal with the occasional storm than the constant gang-bangers, racism, and hateful sports fans we left behind.

Yes, hateful sports fans. We've lived in several states over the years, from Pittsburgh, PA to Milwaukee, WI, to Houston, TX to Los Angeles, CA. Some of those places have themselves serious sports fans, but the Buckeyes lovers take the cake for being bastards. Even Packers people and the extremely narcissistic Texans are pretty friendly in their sports rivalries. But Buckeyes fans are, without a doubt, some of the rudest, angriest, most heartless sports enthusiasts I've met. Which is pretty funny, coming from a football team who's name is used as a nickname for a certain body part in other parts of the country. I'll lave it to your imagination what the "buckeye" is...

One last thing to all my friends, no, damnit, I have not "met Dororthy" yet. Please stop thinking yourselves clever. I can take a joke, but it's getting old. There's more to Kansas than The Wizard of Oz. Just like there's more to Ohio than a football team.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The End of The Lego Wars

Once again, I find myself apologizing to my numerous followers -all 3 of you; hi guys!- for the delay between posts. I did warn you...

Truth be told, we've been busy. My last update from my Mad 'n Hairy world was in August (not counting my "Observations" of a couple weeks ago), just as school came back into session. As I've mentioned before, homeschooling my 2 boys takes up a large part of my day. Add to that working 30+ hours a week, and all the other concerns in the average American's day, blogging takes a back seat more often than not.

Of course, there have been "adventures": My Beloved (nearly) breaking a toe and spending all night in a busy ER. In our defense, the doctor thought it was broken until the x-rays came back. Our crappy van finally died. Wonderful Ford engineering... Then riding the bus for a week, including 2 to work and 3 back home, until finally overpaying for a newer vehicle in desperation.

Then, 5 weeks later, My Beloved wrecked the new car. We're still waiting on the insurance company's verdict on whether it's totalled or not. In between all that, our shower, dishwasher and washing machine all broke down.

Through all this, Felix and Oscar have held strong. Better than their mom and dad, at any rate. They continue to excel in their classes; Algebra for Felix, Vocab and Grammar for Oscar. They both hate History, though. While teaching them I continue to learn things I should have been taught when I was in school.

We've had a minor breakthrough with Oscar. Being the youngest, he's had to watch his brother complete things, achieve new freedoms, and garner praise for achievements currently out of his reach. But last month saw him "graduating" from Occupational Therapy.

Anyone with a special needs child will recognize OT. For some it's torture, for others, fun. I assume most find it to be another tedious chore in a long string of tedious chores that come with raising a slightly bent kid. For both boys, it was both fun and a chore. Felix left OT 2 years ago. While Oscar loved it, he was still jealous of his older brother's freedom.

Just 2 weeks ago, Oscar was freed from his weekly sessions. For those unfamiliar with Occupational Therapy, it is similar to Physical Therapy (his, in fact, took place in a PT office). Through a regimen of exercises and practices, the child improves impaired fine and gross motor skills, including walking, running, catching and throwing, handwriting and finger manipulation.

Both boys have seen huge improvements over the years. Mrs. Rearick and Ms. Savage worked wonders with them, and I am ever grateful for all their hard work. Now, Oscar has his Thursdays free. Granted, they're filled with more schoolwork, but small victories are still victories

Another breakthrough may not seem like much to outsiders who missed all the battles: The Lego Wars. Felix loves to create: drawing, painting, Roblox, Boom Blox on the Wii, Tinkertoys, and, of course, Legos. He seems quite talented at all of these, but that might just be a proud dad's skewed perspective.

Nah, he's a genius.

Oscar, on the other hand, never took to those things. In Kindergarten I was called to a Parent/Teacher conference, the purpose of which was to warn me of Oscar's unwillingness to color. What a tragedy! Our son was doomed!

What does he love doing? Computers. Not just playing games. The little bugger can make our desktop do things I didn't know it was capable of.

But all of that is off the subject. I was speaking of the muy terible Lego Wars. For years, since he was old enough to crawl, Oscar has been a practicing Deconstructionist. Translation: He tears shit apart.

Countless creations of Mega Block, Lego, Tinkertoy, Lincoln Log, etc. have fallen to his terrible ministrations. Tears have been shed, punishments doled out, tiny people dismembered. And still, like an addiction, the boy would turn around and do it again.

So, what changed? Just before Xmas, his brother built a little castle for Oscar. Nothing much, just 4 walls, a roof & a drawbridge. I waited for the pile of tiny, multicolored, foot-piercing blocks to appear. The holiday came & went, but the castle remained. I paid it little mind, until a week or so after New Years.

"Oscar, can I use the Legos from the castle I built you?" Felix asked.

"Nononono! That's MY castle! Don't take it apart," Oscar answered.

Three people stood amazed. Further investigation showed that the modest creation hadn't lay dormant. Little by little, Oscar had been adding parts, changing others, making it his own. The most disorganized -nay, messy- kid I'd ever met (since I was his age, anyway), had been reverentially putting the mini-castle back in the same spot every night. The kid who lost 2 cell phones (we never did find the first one). The boy who leaves a trail of food wrappers, game discs & Wii accessories in his wake.

Yes, Dr. Destructo was being careful with something he owned.

Since then, nothing has been torn apart by his hands. Although interest in the castle has waned a bit, it still sits in the same spot. And Felix is forbidden to touch it for fear he will cannibalize Legos from it, like a block-themed zombie.

We still don't know what caused this sudden change of tune. Overall, Oscar is more respectful of others' property. Perhaps all of our teaching an disciplining finally got through. (No, I don't buy that, either.). Perhaps a new maturity set in with the onset of puberty. More likely, it was the fact that his brother made something special *just for him*.

Whatever it is, we're all a little happier and secure knowing Dr. Destructo has retired his claws of doom.

Now, if he would just stop chewing on things...