Saturday, November 01, 2014

Halloween '14

Us horror guys like Halloween. Go figure. It's always a good night, but this year's was pretty tame. I attended a fun pumpkin carving party the week before, and then Jack and I took off on a short, 3-day cruise. We dubbed it a "cruisette." It was fun, and we arrived back home the day before Halloween, most of our social energy spent.

So on Halloween night, we stayed in to hand out treats. It's always more fun if you join in a bit, so we dressed up. I considered going with this mask:

Putting it on each time the doorbell rang might have been a pain, and we do tend to get lots of smaller children who can get scared pretty easily, so I went with this costume instead: 

Friendlier but funky. I liked it. Jack joined in with a friendly, funky costume too:

Don't we make a nice couple? We had fun, but we didn't get too many trick-or-treaters. The ones we had were very cute and young and skittish, so we made the right choice not to be too scary. 

We enjoyed our subdued Halloween, and I'm sure we'll think of something to do with the surplus of candy we have. I hope your Halloween was fun, frightful, and safe. Welcome to November! 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Snake Country

Southern Arizona is snake country, including an abundance of fear-inducing rattlesnakes. The Texas Panhandle, where I lived for my first 31 years, isn't exactly a stranger to rattlers, so I thought I'd be well-prepared for Tucson, but I'm still caught off-guard sometimes. I'm also a little surprised at just how many snakes I see.

We live adjacent to a wash -- a wild, low-lying area that's usually dry but channels water to larger washes and rivers after heavy rains -- so we see more coyotes, quail, bobcats, javelinas, etc. than a lot of residents. Also more sssssnakes.

Here's a photo my partner took when out walking our dogs about 5 months ago.

That particular snake wasn't poisonous, but it was impressive. We're used to scanning the ground for snakes, especially when walking the dogs, so spotting this one above head level was even more of a shock.

We've had our share of rattlesnake encounters during our first 4 years in Tucson, and lately rattlesnakes seem particularly active. We had one in our backyard a couple weeks ago, and several friends have had to deal with them. Monday, I saw one on my morning run along the Rillito River Path, about 10 feet off the path. A Pima County employee was taking a break from trying to capture or kill it with a shovel, and he clearly was not enjoying the task. I offered sympathies as I ran by, speaking loudly so he could hear me over the intense, angry rattling sound but being careful I didn't distract him at a bad time.

So when I approached that same area on this morning's run, after all the snake encounters lately, you'd think I'd be extra cautious, wouldn't you?

Nah! I wasn't, and I was rewarded with a major adrenaline rush for my negligence.

I'd been running along, listening to a runner's steps as he ever so slowly gained ground on me. I don't get passed too often, so I was waiting to see who it was. (If I'm passed by a young jock type, I lessen the sting of being overtaken by reminding myself how much older I am. It's called "playing the age card.") It was, indeed, a young athletic guy this morning, but instead of passing me, he matched pace and ran beside and just a little bit behind me. I stayed close to the right edge of the path to make it easy for him to go around when he wanted, but he didn't pass. I'm not used to having a running partner, so I wasn't completely comfortable, and part of my attention stayed on the other runner.

That's when I spotted a snake...beside me...RIGHT beside me, maybe a foot and a half from my feet.

The snake was about 3 foot long, fat, and stretched out lengthwise just off the trail. At a glance, it appeared to be a rattlesnake, and it might have been, but I don't know that for sure. There are non-poisonous snakes around here with similar markings. I didn't notice if it had a rattle because I was scrambling to get away from it. So it might have been a bullsnake or a king snake, but at the time, I was thinking RATTLER!, so it was definitely a dayum moment for me. I know because I shouted "DAYUM!"

The odd thing was that there were about 5 walkers just ahead of me who'd all passed by this snake almost as closely as I did with no reaction. I began wondering if the snake had been alive. I turned and asked the young guy running beside me. He said, "Oh yeah, it's definitely alive. I was just running the other direction, and I saw it crawling along."

A bit later, the the young guy went one way, and I went another.

Now this guy seemed nice enough, but it was unusual that he ran with me instead of overtaking me. A weird thought hit. He knew the snake was there. Had he stayed beside me so he could see my reaction when I noticed the snake?

Nah! Like I wrote above, he seemed like a nice guy, and he showed no sign of taking pleasure from my "dayum" moment. But if he had been hoping for a reaction, I didn't disappoint. If I'd jumped to the side any farther than I did, I'd have knocked him over.

So another day, another lesson on the importance of staying alert. I love it here, but sometimes...dayum!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

I feel cheap, and I like it!

*** This is an updated re-posting of an entry from April *** 

My novels that were first published back in '09 and '11 have now finished their runs with their publishers, and I've made them all available as ebooks through Amazon. If you haven't braved one of my paranormal worlds yet, this is a great time to change that, and $2.99 will put any one of my three published novels in your hands (or, more accurately, in your ebook reader).

Struck had a 5 year run with its publisher, and now it's available for your Kindle for $2.99 in its new format with its new cover. Sample a few chapters for free if you're not sure it's for you. CLICK HERE to view and purchase.

Dark Knowledge finished its 3 year run with its publisher, and its now $2.99 for ebook. There may still be some paperback copies available from its earlier publisher as well. CLICK HERE to view and purchase. 

Above Haldis Notch also had a new cover and format and the same low price of $2.99 at Amazon for an ebook. CLICK HERE to view and purchase.

To recap: I'm cheap. Try me. Buy me. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Above Haldis Notch -- new look, better price

My afterlife thriller, Above Haldis Notch, has a new cover and a new low price. Here's the new cover:

The new eBook price is $2.99. See for yourself at Amazon. And while you're there, buy a copy or sample a few chapters for free (and THEN buy it. *smile* )

With this change, all three of my published "horror with heart" novels are available as eBooks for $2.99. Visit my Amazon Author's Page by CLICKING HERE to purchase or sample any or all of them. 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Tango for free and read me

Tango Sunday, a collection of short stories about "life on the edge," by Janet Brennan is a free Kindle book for the next few days. I've mentioned Tango Sunday before on this blog. It's a fun read that will take you in a lot of new directions. I'm the guest author. My paranormal story, "Final Vision," is about a man who sees the future, laments the past, and needs the present.

To get the Kindle version for free, go to the Amazon page by CLICKING HERE. Hurry, I believe it's only free through June 4th.

6-6-14 UPDATE: If you didn't snap it up for free, you missed your chance. It went back to list price June 5th, but it's worth it. Sample it for free at Amazon and see for yourself.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Can a horror writer sing and dance?

If someone were to ask you to form a mental picture of a horror writer, you might envision a person dressed in dark clothing slumped over a keyboard in a dimly lit room, cruel lips twitching into a sneer as he tortures innocent characters. Maybe there's a stuffed crow perched beside his computer and a Freddy Krueger poster on the wall behind him.

Okay, so I don't have a stuffed crow or Freddy Krueger poster, but at times I come pretty close to that image. There are other times, however, when I'm nothing like that at all. Just like normal folks, we horror writers live varied lives, and a big focus in my personal life right now is an upcoming weekend of performances with Reveille Men's Chorus. There are two big shows here in Tucson, Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. Then later on in May, we're off to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to perform with a men's chorus there.

So you see, I'm a singing, dancing horror writer. Ever odd, but always having fun. If you're near Tucson this weekend, come see for yourself. Here's a link to the Reveille website, where you can learn more about the upcoming shows. And here's a picture of one of our recent practices to prove this writer's got the moves (at least for that one moment in time when the camera clicked).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Aloha again

We took another trip to Hawaii, this time splitting our time between the big island in the Waikoloa Resort area and Maui on Lahaina Beach. We love Hawaii even more after our second trip there. It helped that both hotels were exactly what we wanted, exactly where we wanted to be. "Location, location, location..." apparently applies to travel as well as to house shopping.

View from our balcony. 
Me hanging around the resort. Quite an impressive place.

We found nice places to rest on our beach walks.
Snorkel day! Wonderful coral and colorful fish to view.

Another scenic place to stop and enjoy.
I made a new friend in Kona. He didn't talk much, but he was a happy listener.

I run a lot in Hawaii. I love all the oxygen in the air at sea level, plus I enjoy taking in the ocean views, aromas, sounds of waves and birds... And after calling to me throughout my runs, the ocean is too tempting to ignore when I'm finished, so I kick off my shoes and dive in. It's very refreshing!

In Maui, the Lahaina beach went on and on and on... We enjoyed long beach walks every day. Our resort was away from the biggest throng of people but close enough to all the restaurants and shops that we could walk there instead of driving. We did a lot of walking, as usual for us. On both islands, we also enjoyed car trips along the coast, but we especially liked driving on Maui. It was very green and lush.

A short walk from our hotel, this shady spot just off the beach became a favorite spot for me.
Me on the beach in front of the hotel.

One of many great pictures we took on a drive north.
Jack on a rocky beach along the north coast of Maui. We were mesmerized by how the waves rolled in in tight clusters.

Jack taking a break from whale watching.
View from a restaurant where we ate lunch during one of our drives along the Maui coast.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

STRUCK begins second life

Who says lightning doesn't strike twice?

As of today, Struck is back as an e-book through CreateSpace. It has a dramatic new cover, a greatly reduced price of $3.49, and the same paranormal thrills and deep characterization as always. Take a look and let me know what you think.

CLICK HERE to go to Struck's Kindle page, where you can purchase the e-book or preview the first chapters to see if it's something you enjoy.


When lightning strikes Barry Andrews as he hikes among petroglyphs in Albuquerque, the surge of energy awakens abilities he's carried since birth. Earth's fate is now tied to Barry's, and Barry's destiny is linked to the past.

A thousand years ago, the ancestors of today's Pueblo Indians built an advanced civilization in Chaco Canyon. Seeking to tame their harsh environment, they used the precise alignment of their pueblos to tap into powers they weren't meant to control. Their meddling almost ended life on Earth, and the Anasazi abandoned Chaco Canyon to protect man from himself.

But the pueblo ruins still hold power, and man still desires what he shouldn't have. One man, driven by greed, exploits ancient secrets. Now Barry must join forces with a Native American elder, become a warrior, and save the earth.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

STRUCK's last days

Struck has run its course with its publisher. It's been a wonderful experience, my first publishing experience, but all good things end.

Struck went under contract back in July 2008 and was published in 2009, so it's had a good run. Over the past five years, Struck won the 2009 New Mexico Book Award for best new mystery or suspense novel, garnered many glowing reviews, helped open doors to get my other novels published, and introduced me to readers, booksellers, writers, and friends. I've been very proud of it and very happy with my publisher, Regal Crest Enterprises.

I'm not sure what's next for Struck, if anything. It may become available again, probably through Amazon's CreateSpace or another self-publishing vehicle, but I don't guarantee it and can't predict when that could happen. I'm posting this announcement now because if you've thought about purchasing the current version of Struck, either as an eBook or paperback, this is the time to do it. Right now. I wouldn't count on it being available much after the end of January. Click the image below to open a window with all sorts of purchase links or CLICK HERE to go to the Amazon page** for Struck (while that page still exists).
**I just noticed that Amazon reduced the price of the paperback over 50%! I'll take this as a friendly farewell nod from Amazon. You can take it as a good deal for you.** 

Click for purchase links

I'll keep you posted here if it becomes available again, but for now, these are Struck's last days. I'm sad, but I knew this day would come. I'll always be grateful to Regal Crest Enterprises for publishing this novel, and no matter what happens next, Struck will always have a special place in my heart.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Reading the Paranormal reviews Dark Knowledge

The fine folks at Reading the Paranormal were kind enough to review my paranormal horror novel, Dark Knowledge. Click the witchy image below to read the review.

Reading the Paranormal reviews Dark Knowledge

Friday, January 03, 2014

2014 looks great from up here

Picacho Peak from Hunter trailhead
Happy 2014! The weather here in Tucson decided to start the year off right and gave us a BEAUTIFUL sunny January 1st. So I decided to start the year off right too and took a great hike with friends.

We climbed Picacho Peak, well known for its challenging, cable-assisted areas. Turns out, climbing it is something of a New Year tradition here in Tucson. We weren't alone up there, and several of the folks I met along the way make this hike every year.

It was my first time to hike Picacho. It won't be my last.

Taking a breather in the "saddle" on the way up.
A view from the summit.

The infamous cables. There were more difficult areas, but I was too busy holding on to take pictures. 
Me on the summit.

We all enjoyed a hiker's lunch up top.
One of many breathtaking views.
Happy New Year. I hope 2014 gives you new friends and new experiences, breathtaking summits, and something (or someone) to grab onto if the path gets challenging.