Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve a Decade Ago

Ten Years Back I Wrote:

For the last 48 hours I've been writing a story to submit to a horror anthology. Right now, New Year's Eve, my darling wife is proofing the last draft. Submission deadline closes at midnight. I wrote from noon to 11:00 last night. Eight o'clock to 1:10 today, went to the gym, then wrote from 4:30 to 10:20. MDW assures me I'm getting the rapid proof that will merely nip the worst grammatical offenders.

This story actually started out as something called Behind the Scenes. But over three weeks, it's changed, changed again and finally become Tyto Alba, the tale of a slacker who pays a price for "going with the flow." 

All pressure is self-imposed. I must return to my young adult novel and didn't want this almost-finished story lounging around, up to no good.

And so, as I await changes on my final story for 2007, I say to one and all: 

Back in the day, I still had a prostate.

The story in question was rejected. Basically, it was characters trapped in a Food of the Gods-like farmhouse. No one really changed much and all the action  was contrived to generate gruesome deaths and a clever escape.

In addition, I was writing a YA novel which eventually migrated to the 2008 unfinished pile as I entered the new year coaching with Team in Training, piling up the weekly miles in preparation for the Eugene Marathon, while staging our house for sale, plus seeking a condo to purchase as the housing crisis was in full bloom.

Today I've written five books, returned to running after a long injury-fueled absence and, on December 31, battle the flu. May it pass quickly. (The years certainly do.) In the meantime:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Kaiju Thriller Falls Short

Island 731Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A storm-tossed ship winds up in the lagoon of an uncharted island. As the characters sift through the damage, crew members go missing. Searching the island for lost shipmates, the protagonist stumbles upon remains of a notorious World War II Japanese dark science outfit known as Unit 731. But park ranger Mark Hawkins soon learns that gruesome experimentations have never stopped.

This seemed like two books: a half horror-thriller and the rest a justification for what came first. The chief antagonist seemed impossibly smart for his age, the scientific justifications thin, the evil agency behind it all opaque. To keep the plot moving in the second half, the author unloaded back story like a man lightening a balloon to stay airborne. And while such a practice justified the narrative, it threw me out of the story.

Which is a shame, since good action scenes combined with a stripped-down writing style made this tale zip along. More foreshadowing may've helped.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Freakazoid Christmas of Some Sort

90's Animation Returns for the Holiday

Thanks to Julian Madison on YouTube, we can enjoy the Guy With Lightning in His Hair shopping for gifts when trouble, as it always seemed to do, arose. Also, Freakazoid confronts the mysterious Cloud, based on the 1958 special effects extravaganza, The Crawling Eye. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Last Second Gift Idea Round-Up

Clocks ticking. Almost Christmas Eve. There are still unchecked names on your gift list. What will you do? I would fold up on the couch and hope everything turned out Okay. But if you're more proactive than that, click away.

Buzz Feed

215 gift ideas including something for people you hate. Very 21st Century.

New York Magazine

40 Gift Ideas for People You Almost Forgot which includes adjectives for some such as 'foodie' and 'sullen.'



10 Best Last Minute Gift Ideas for Women including a Comfort U Total Body Support Pillow for sleeping eight hours when the bed is simply too far off.

PC Mag

10 Last Second Gift Ideas that consist of lots of subscriptions and a Flickr Pro Account.

Five Golden eBooks

One click and your shopping is over as I sandwich in a plug for my latest book.

1. Ghost Star by Roger Eschbacher - Sci-fi, YA space quest as the survivor of a massacre seeks out his sister, discovering along the way his family's secret past.

2. The Hidden Truth by Hans G. Schantz - A techno-thriller as a young man discovers someone is erasing scientific history.

3. A Place Outside the Wild by Daniel Humphreys - A Dragon-nominated dystopian fiction with survivors battling zombies and the human evil within their own little enclave.

4. Dreadful Outcomes by D.G. Heckman - Dark, sardonic short stories centered around a small town that is home to cannibals, river monsters, and the pesky Wendigo.

5. They Took My Prostate: Cancer Loss Hope (You'll Never Guess) - An autobiographical tale of an unemployed writer diagnosed with prostate cancer as he struggles against vanishing health care, bureaucrats, and the consequences of living without a prostate.

Merry Almost Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Top Five Sites for Writer Gifts

To be specific, five web sties from the top page of DuckDuckGo. But all offer writerly gifts for the word smith in your life.

1.  The Creative Pen

Twenty-five gifts for scribes including pens, books, and, of course, a Hobbit-themed blanket.

2 . The Write Life

Twenty-two gifts including an Awesome Trophy for dark loveless days on those drafts that seem to stink from front to back.

Pride and Prejudice Tote Bag
3.  The Write Practice

Twenty gift ideas including Edgar Allen Poe socks.  Keep them warm by walling them into the back of your closet. Mortar included. (Naw.)

4.  Helping Writers Become Authors

Among various sundry notions, there's an Aqua Pen for scribbling plot points in the shower.

5.  Amazon

From the commercial behemoth itself, select from a number of coffee mugs and/or signs threatening to put annoying people into stories and kill them.

On the topic of writing, nothing says 'Christmas' more than prostate cancer. My book, They Took My Prostate: Cancer Loss Hope is now available on Amazon in sturdy ebook format. Learn how I put the 'in' into incontinence, yet survived with carpet and furniture intact to tell the tale.   

Saturday, December 09, 2017

New Amazon eBook #1 in Category

This is what first place looks like—at least for another hour:

Put another way:

I'll call it a day now and bask in the rankings, knowing that They Took My Prostate: Cancer Loss Hope is doing just fine. 

New eBook Rises in Amazon Rankings

Let the screen shots speak.

Out of all the books on cancer, I'm in the top hundred.

And this:

They Took My Prostate: Cancer Loss Hope ascends, thanks to all who pre-ordered. You could do likewise. Let's keep this going. Number one is not too much to hope for.

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Feel-Good Prostate Cancer Book of the Season

Hang the mistletoe, fling the tinsel, unleash the candy canes! 

Yes, nothing says 'holiday cheer' like a good book on prostate cancer. So if you can't stomach another slice of fruit cake, head on over to Amazon and pre-order a copy of They Took My Prostate: Cancer Loss Hope.
Discover what happens when a luckless writer in Los Angeles  realizes his career, money, and health care are evaporating at the same time that he is diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Why prostate cancer? Why Christmas time? Essentially, I didn't want 2017 to pass without publishing something, and the closest work available was my tussle with the Big C.

Janet Farrar Worthington, co-author of the #1 Best Seller Dr. Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer feels ". . . Mac is very funny. I believe his ability to find the absurd and keep his perspective even in the most awkward or discouraging situation is one important reason for his successful recovery."

Jean chuckles at the budget for Freakazoid!

In closing, television executive great Jean MacCurdy has battled cancer in her own family. She graciously agreed to read a review copy and comment on same. When I receive Jean's notes, I'll post here and at the Amazon page.

(Mistletoe Image: gardenvarietynews)

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Famous People Born on My Birthday v.4

A lazy blogging day as I re-re-repost my birthday entry. What has changed since 2016? Sure enough, famed physicist Walter Heisenberg also vacated the womb December 5 in the Year of Our Lord 1901. (Walt Disney was born the same year.) A pioneer of quantum mechanics and a Nobel Prize winner, he could never balance his checkbook and was struck by a trolley while pondering a simple addition error in the middle of a Munich street. (I made up the last part.) Welcome to the club, Walter.

Harried today as I rush to prepare my prostate cancer ebook for a December 15 launch. Hours pass editing, formatting the sucker, perusing the final artwork changes—quite minor, an excellent cover—seeing if I can't do a limited pre-order, then cranking out one or two promotional videos. Nevertheless, I'm pleased by such chores and that's my birthday gift to me.

From December 5, 2011, I repost my birthday thoughts on fame and fortune. Since my last repost in 2014, what have I learned in two years? Age is a state of mind provided you're healthy, and it's cool being retired if your wife works a good job.

Note: My friend Randy reminded me that noted physicist Walter Heisenberg was also born on this day, but I'm not certain about that.

Thank you very much to all who have, so far, wished me Happy Birthday. In thinking of this day, I am reminded of several famous Americans who share my date of birth. I will list three and examine their accomplishments as compared to mine.

1. Martin Van Buren - b. Dec. 5, 1782

2. George Armstrong Custer - b. Dec. 5, 1839

3. Walt Disney - b. Dec. 5, 1901

4. John P. McCann - b. Dec. 5, 1952

1. Martin Van Buren succeeded greatly in becoming the 8th President of the United States but was hardly remembered even in his own day. He had a large bull frog stuffed and used as an ink well in the White House. However President Taft later sat on it by accident and they had to throw the thing out. That's about it.

2. George Armstrong Custer succeeded greatly as a soldier in the Civil War but had a mixed record fighting Indians. (1-1-2, I think.) He is best remembered for his  spectacular fail at the Battle of the  Little Big Horn. At first, everything was going well; then it all fell apart under an Indian tsunami. In later years, Custer had a park named after him as well as a monument and a movie where his part was played by Errol Flynn. That's a whole lot more than Van Buren ever got.

3. Walt Disney succeeded greatly in animation, a pioneer in the field, creator of iconic characters—but not the word 'iconic' which has been seized upon by junior execs.—established Disney studios and Disneyland and is fondly remembered to this day. Nonetheless his body is frozen in a vault beneath Disney's Burbank lot and should Walt be reanimated and start making decisions again it could effect his legacy.

4. John P. McCann was greatly successful as a Hollywood atmosphere player. McCann was the ship-board stand-in for a Canadian actor portraying Errol Flynn in My Wicked, Wicked Ways. In addition, he is visible catching Dennis Quaid's jacket at around 1:19 in a clip from  Great Balls of Fire.
More successful in animation, McCann created the non-iconic character of The Huntsman. For the next fifteen years, he piggy-backed onto as many successful shows as his friends would allow. While the record is still being written, outsiders agree that McCann will be remembered by Bank of America and several other creditors who might reasonably feel aggrieved should he pass from the scene within the next several months.

Images:, Parcbench, fold3

Monday, December 04, 2017

They Took My Prostate and I'll Tell You How

Me at the hands of the medical establishment. (wallpaper cave)

And while cancer was sliced from me with digital precision, certain vital functions were diminished, leaving me in a grim battle with my own body. Not for the squeamish, this tale of a man, a prostate and destiny has already received kudos from author Janet Farrar Worthington.

Kind enough to read my manuscript, Janet is co-author of Dr. Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer, a great resource if you're smitten with the aforementioned disease. (I loath 'eponymous.')

Having spent considerable time writing about men's health issues, Janet said that I wrote "about the nitty-gritty aspects of recovering from this life-saving but difficult surgery—something few men are willing to do. . . . Reading this might help you get through it, too."

A short essay in ebook form, "They Took My Prostate: Cancer-Loss-Hope" will be available on Amazon December 15.

With annoying regularity, I will be promoting said book over the next two weeks. Tell your friends. Tell the indifferent. This is the can't-miss prostate cancer book of the year.

Update: Or, as Tom Ruegger says, the "feel-good prostate cancer book of the season."

Update: NOW the book is ready for Pre-Order, with copies delivered December 15. In time for Christmas, if you're a Yule sort of person, and not-in-time if you aren't. But December 15th remains the constant. Let's set that to rest.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Jungle Fighting in the Central Highlands

As a replacement, a friend of mine joined one of the units chronicled in this work shortly after the incidents described. Here's a brief glimpse of his life as an infantryman. A medic is mentioned who, I believe, survived the destruction of a platoon mentioned in the book.

Nine Days In May: The Battles Of The 4th Infantry Division On The Cambodian Border, 1967Nine Days In May: The Battles Of The 4th Infantry Division On The Cambodian Border, 1967 by Warren K. Wilkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An engrossing description of infantry combat as American units reacted to North Vietnamese Army ambushes and assaults, with young U.S. draftees battling a hardened enemy, often in hand-to-hand fighting.

Struggling in the dense forests of Vietnam's Central Highlands at a time when most Americans still supported the war, the U.S. companies and platoons generally possessed excellent small unit leadership. They would need all the help they could get as they clashed with the NVA under triple-canopy forests that often blocked out the sunlight as well as supporting artillery fire.

Wilkins touches on the U.S. strategy of attrition, and the political constraints that hobbled American forces, leaving them unable to pursue the NVA into their bases across the Cambodian border. Reduced to counting bodies, the 4th Infantry Division could never put away their foe. The fraud of body counts and the untouchable nature of enemy sanctuaries negated the courage and endurance of the men, eventually forcing 4th Infantry Division units to battle over the same ground again and again until the attrited Americans finally withdrew.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!: Nostalgia Edition

Saturday Evening Post
Over the last 12 years,  I usually post something on, or around, Thanksgiving. So I shall continue doing so proudly, defiantly, without apology.

Thanks this year to being cancer-free on two fronts, having an employed wife, and teetering on the ledge of publishing an ebook detailing my struggles with prostate cancer. Also thankful that my mother-in-law survived open heart surgery. She proves that one is much better off with a working valve than without.

Gratitude is an under appreciated trait, and I strive to incorporate more of it each day. Best wishes to all.

T-Day Round-Up

1. 2016: Two days after Thanksgiving, I discuss the Cheshire moon and a new method of outlining for a fantasy novel I discarded in April. 

2. 2015: The Monday before I explain in some detail why you should review my books. Comes complete with explanatory video that hasn't expired yet. 

3. 2014: Hit the day square as I link to i09's Black Friday gift recommendations. (Looks like a rush cut and paste job.)

4. 2013: Day before featuring a short article I wrote for another publication that folded, explaining how we got football on Thanksgiving. 

5. 2012: Spot on as I invite readers to visit my review of Hitchcock over at Forces of Geek. (I didn't even check, but the review is probably long gone.)

6. 2011: Dead center as I link back to 2005. There are more comments than post. 

7. 2010: Same day posting as I wish everyone well and include a Simpson's image. (Posted 338 times that year.)

8. 2009: A salute to my friend Bernadette for running a 5k. Also a hat tip to a young man I know who dropped 100 pounds in a year. (This was my high-water year for posting—365 times. That's what unemployment will do.)

9. 2008: Another spot on post, little more than a 'happy' with WB characters as pilgrims. First T-Day in our condo.

10. 2007: Day before, with a mention of running as this was my peak marathon era. A message from dear friend K who passed away in 2012. Bittersweet.

11. 2006: A few days after, as we dined up in the Bay area with in-laws. I was training for the Phoenix Marathon that January and ran at every opportunity.

12: 2005: On the nose as I mention a Turkey Trot completed that day with chums from Team in Training. We were training for the Honolulu Marathon in early December. Two of those chums, Nick and P.J., subsequently married and now have a pair of fine children.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy 242, USMC!

Birthday greetings to all Devil Dogs past and present as I repost an offering from earlier this year.

USMC League

MCRD San Diego Back in the Day

Everything must begin somewhere. And in the United States Marine Corps, my enlisted tour commenced with yellow footprints. Drawn on the asphalt of the recruit depot with heels close together and toes angled out to 45 degrees, they are where I, along with seven other guys from our suburban Chicago neighborhood, stood to begin military service. Then we marched somewhere, boxed up our clothes and mailed them home, coming to the realization that our new life would be different from drinking beer behind a bowling alley.

The Vietnam War was winding down, at least for the United States, though the North Vietnamese would launch a huge attack against South Vietnam toward the end of March as we conducted infantry training at Camp Pendlelton. (In September, now a Private First Class, I would find myself in an Army hospital called Camp Kue on Okinawa, sharing  a ward with American advisors who'd been wounded helping the South Vietnamese forces stop the communists.)

In 1991, I visited the footprints on a vacation to San Diego with my girlfriend. (Now My Fine Wife or MFW.)

In 2002, I stood on a hill in Vietnam called Con Thien with a Vietnamese guide who told me about the obliteration of his village by B52s, bombing the NVA advance.

In 2008, I was back at MCRD finishing up a marathon with Team in Training.

But on a Friday night, January 14, 1972, I stood on yellow footprints. Oh, right before we boxed up our clothes, this happened:
(The following scene is rather accurate, except there's no C&W music. Just buzzzzzzz.)

h/t: amp1776

Friday, November 03, 2017

Apocalypse Story a Fast-Paced Revelation

Father Elijah: An ApocalypseFather Elijah: An Apocalypse by Michael D. O'Brien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At peace in a desert monastery, a psychologically-scarred monk is summoned by the Vatican to witness to a powerful international figure feared to be the Antichrist.

Based on Catholic eschatology, the story centers around the trials of Father Elijah, who reluctantly sets out on his mission only to find himself reliving the loss of family, friends, wife and child. As dark forces close around David Elijah, his friends and supporters, the monk struggles to complete his charge, grappling with issues such as the savagery of Man, free will, and the healing love of Christ. At the same time, the society around Father Elijah transforms at a bewildering pace, as lines dissolve between spirit, prophecy, and reality.

Set at the turn of the millennia, the book is paced like a thriller, with sharp dialogue driving the action forward; complex characters hold your interest. Overall, a fascinating exploration into the nature of evil, the power of patience, and the possibility of redemption.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bring Me Thrilling Pulp Art


Researching art work and illustrators for my next ebook—due out by Christmas. And while the pulp style might not gel with a non-fiction work on cancer, I've both horror and fantasy detective tales cutting air in the on-deck circle. Both could don pulp covers with gleeful pride. Starting a Pulp Pinterest page, lets me collect interesting compositions, tone, color, subject matter. But there's more to the style than hot babes, gun-toting detectives, and leering Nazis.

We Heart promoted Mexican pulp art a few years back. What's the difference with our home-grown pulpists? Well, We Heart felt "the Mexican market had an appetite for weirdness that outdid the Americans on nearly every level. The violence was ratcheted up, but it was the incongruous elements such as sci-fi, psychedelia, the supernatural, dinosaurs and robots into the mix that set the plots apart."

They weren't kidding. Monster Brains gathered together a wealth of Mexican pulp cover art. Here's a few samples:

Monster Brains

Gunfire against retro robots gone berserk seems futile, but we often reach for the familiar in times of crisis.


Monster Brains

Here is death writ large with grave robbers, a corpse who apparently died hard, and great eyes hovering over the landscape for reasons obscure.

Monster Brains

Trouble heading your way, bud, with human-faced birds flying out of the windmill and over the leafless tree. What gruesome fate awaits you, cowering man?

In addition, We Heart added that "the heroes of the Mexican books were not hard-bitten detectives or all-action paragons, but rather common men who found themselves right up against it in a struggle for survival . . . ." I guess the Yanks were a little more aspirational.

No matter. I want pulp covers for my next two books. Mexican, Yankee, any old artist, but I'm having pulp. The search commences for an artist who can deliver. Don't be shy. Offer recommendations. Should your artist be selected, I'll credit you in the Forward of a book guaranteed to be read by dozens.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Caustic, Funny Supernatural Tales

Dreadful Outcomes: The Wickesborough ChroniclesDreadful Outcomes: The Wickesborough Chronicles by D. G. Heckman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Consider this "Our Town" if written by Dante.

With apologies to Thornton Wilder, D.G. Heckman has penned a hilarious sardonic, 21st century version of small town life. In this supernatural anthology centered around fictional Wickesborough, Pennsylvania, we encounter characters most greedy, evil, self-centered, and unwary who run afoul of zombies, psychopaths, and demonic furniture in a region marinating in dangerous legends that still pack a punch.

Driven by strong ironic narration, the offerings include a band of sensitive cannibals who hate being confused with zombies; police attempting to deal with a wendigo outbreak; and weekend wiccans who discover themselves in deep with a cat-worshipping cult.

But not all outcomes are dreadful as a funeral whisperer learns the consequences of his calling, and a young man pursues his crush on a melancholy spirit.

An indie gem, this Wickesborough collection reminds one of Stephen King's Castle Rock, only with a mordant sense of humor. A dark, funny, absurdist read.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Blogging History Repeats Itself Again

December deadline approaches.          Image: All HD Wallpaper

Great broiling head chaos.

Let me explain: excellent progress on my Viking detective novel since early September, despite an eventful journey to Seattle. As the story accelerates, I've ridden the changes, chasing the narrative, but guiding the process away from the guardrails so as not to crash into a rewrite canyon, research gulch, or dull character canal. However, time is not my amigo.

I want to publish an ebook by Christmas. (The viking ebook will not be ready.) In 2013, I blogged about a similar publishing dilemma. A few weeks later, I blogged again. Finally, I stopped blogging about this particular conundrum . . . temporarily, you understand.

Four years have passed and I'm blogging about it once more. In order to meet my self-imposed deadline, I must postpone one project and return to the very project I abandoned in 2013. (As a side note, 2013 was the last full year of my life with a prostate.) Now the clock is ticking, the sands are diminishing, the digital read-out approaches zero. I've got around two months to polish a crude manuscript, score some cover art, and launch it on Amazon.

Who needs NaNoWriMo?

Crazy world out there. Mind yourselves and those close to you.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Zombie Novel with a Bite

A Place Outside The WildA Place Outside The Wild by Daniel Humphreys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are more zombie novels out there than the shambling dead they contain.

However Humphreys' take on a popular genre held my attention for its focus on survivors, their psychological strain, PTSD and myriad other woes besetting a handful of humans and the simple life they've built in a small compound, eight years after the rise of zombies.

Like circling sharks, the undead wander the compound's perimeter, hungering for human flesh, patient, omnipresent. At the same time, interior conflicts such as murder and drug addiction combine to erode the community's survival odds.

Good action and plenty of it keep this tale moving along.

Definitely worth a read.

View all my reviews

Friday, September 08, 2017

Recalling 9/11

K called from Florida, "Planes crashed into the World Trade Center and one of the towers just fell." Unemployed in Los Angeles and half asleep at 7:30 AM, I shuffled downstairs to the TV, past Joy as she prepared for work. At first, all I saw was a dirty cloud obscuring southern Manhattan. Then a stunned announcer said the second tower had just collapsed. Joy joined me, work forgotten as we learned of the attack.

Other friends phoned throughout the day. Paul Rugg speculated about the pilots of the doomed aircraft, certain they weren't Americans forced to crash. TJ, a Vietnam vet, was incensed at the footage of jubilant Palestinians with their candy and AK-47s. He wished he could gift them with a nice buttering of napalm. In a grim mood, I agreed.

Watching TV and power-chewing Nicorette, I mostly felt numb — except when the subject was jumpers. Then I felt horror. Go to work, sip coffee, joke with your pals, then decide whether you'll suffocate, burn alive, or leap a quarter mile to certain death. Questions of etiquette arise: jump solo or hold hands with a co-worker? Perhaps several of you link arms and form a chain, finding courage in numbers. Or do you clutch a table cloth and step into the air, desperately hoping it slows your fall?

The journey takes ten seconds.

Air velocity rips away your shoes.

You explode on impact.

I will always be haunted by the jumpers of 9/11.

Oceans of paper were blasted from the towers, filling the New York sky like the Devil's ticker tape. Invoices and wedding invitations floated down to gray sidewalks.

My friend Cathy, who worked in D.C., reported chaos as the government sent everyone home at once following the Pentagon attack. One jammed intersection turned scary as a man leaped out of an SUV brandishing a pistol and attempting to direct traffic.

Being murdered is not a heroic act, though it can be. Flight 93 passengers fought back and died, saving many more in their sacrifice. North Tower Port Authority employees rescued over 70 people before perishing.

There were many heroes that day.

My sister Mary Pat and I had dinner at a coffee shop. She was passing through town, leaving a job in Mountain View, CA to return to Phoenix. Depressed by the day's events, our meal was not jolly.

Later, Joy tried to give blood, but the hospital was overwhelmed with donations and refused.

Vulnerability, grief, dismay, anger.

Such a beautiful morning with a sky so blue.

(Photos from: Little Green Footballs.)

Repost: Sept. 11, 2008

Update: Strange to reread this. TJ died in 2009 and K passed away just over a year ago. My wife, Joy, and I are doing well, as is Paul Rugg who now rides the train

Repost: Sept. 11, 2013

Update: I had cancer surgery last year, but recovered. My wife is doing well and my sister battles her own health woes. I have not heard from my friend Cathy in a few years.  Paul Rugg continues riding the train in addition to being a voice over machine.

Repost: Sept. 11, 2015

Update: Paul Rugg's daughter was not quite two years old on 9/11/01. Now she is a freshmen in college. I have retired from TV animation writing, though, as stated elsewhere, I find retirement to be indistinguishable from unemployment. (Save for a small annuity.) And very soon, I shall ride the train to see my sister. (Explanatory post t/k.)

Repost: Sept. 11, 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Story Shifts from Slashing to Psyche

That makes the writing sound rather highbrow. It's not. This project is an uphill run wearing leg weights.

For the latest book, I've been inspired by two old outlines for the same supernatural detective story, only in different genres: one graphic novel and the other an animated TV series. As one might gather, both outlines are action-oriented, very visual.

As I struggled to develop the outlines into an ebook, the process felt awkward and forced, like two kitchen magnets with similar poles. Nothing fit together. I stopped trying to develop characters and event sequences and started to research various aspects of urban life, Islam, Vikings, and police procedure. Fortunately, I caught myself before ditching yet another book.

The action is still there, but diminished or unseen. Now I'm unsure what kind of tale I have. A minor character grows into a major player, while the main character's psychological struggles assume a larger dimension.

On I go, watching my subconscious sort out all the elements. I find myself being presented with the characters I need to write this book.

Eventually, I'll have a first draft.

Then I can research.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Waltzing Museum

Autry Museum

Sung to the Tune of Waltzing Matilda

Once an Aussie Tourist stood alone in Griffith Park,
Under the shade of a California Oak,
And he asked an old jogger, shuffling 'long the bridal path,
Will you snap a shot of the Autry and me?

Autry Museum, Autry Museum,
You'll photograph the museum with me,
And he sang to his camera, waiting for the jogger man,
You'll photograph the museum with me.

Basically, that's what happened yesterday. As I finished my modest run in hot weather, a short Aussie man in a large Outback Hat asked me to take a picture of him with the Autry Museum of the American West in the background.

Glad to help out a cobber, I took the photo, but realized he was in shadow. Informing my subject that his face was not visible, I suggested he move closer to me and I would change position, thus capturing both features and museum. He agreed, then glided back into the shade.

I gestured him forward to a spot where there was sufficient light. He stepped where indicated, then backed away. There was something in his mind. Something about the composition of the shot. 
Something as solid and immovable as Ayers Rock. Perhaps he'd thought about the photograph with furious concentration, flying over the darkened Pacific between Oz and LA. In any case, it seemed the man held the museum in greater esteem than himself.

After a few more pictures, I returned the camera to this humble fellow from a land far off and commenced stretching my ancient tendons and ligaments.

A pleasant trip and a safe journey back to your island continent, sir.

Or, as Gene Autry himself might have crooned, 'Happy trails to you.'

Chris Ford@flickr

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Death by Research

Learning in Tandem

A subtle end to any story, garbed in a cloak of righteousness.

By stopping to obtain details that will lend verisimilitude to my tale, I impend momentum, ignore troubling logic woes and character growth, and busy myself with a seeming good that is, done out of turn, a corrosive bad.

Sooner or later, research bores me, and I decide the book's premise was built on sand. From there, it's a short step to a new project. Like various toxic political theories, the next book is always going to be different, better, finally done right.

And, once more, hope will triumph over experience.

So I persevere with the latest book. I hope to release this supernatural mystery as an ebook for Christmas, with a softcover roll out in the first quarter of '18.

And I will succeed, provided I stop premature researching.

Watched San Andreas the other night. You knew where this movie's going from Fade In. But that was the charm. My mind hurt from a long day of researching. I really didn't want to be challenged. I sought visual relaxation and found it. (A few nights later, I watched The Master. And while I loved the acting, I have no idea what that movie was about, other than Scientology.) 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Uber Alles in Motoring Satisfaction


Visited Chicago for my niece's wedding. Rather than rent a car, I chose to Uber about. Very fast, these Windy City drivers, and I saved myself a lot of headaches, especially since Virgin America delayed my flight for three hours, depositing me in Chicago around 2:30 AM. But an eager Uber wheel man saw me safely to my hotel.

Great moment with one Uber driver on the way out of town. I told him to drop me at Terminal 3, Alaska Airlines. For some reason, he believed I was traveling to Alaska, or else, that Alaska Airlines only made trips to and from our 49th state. He was curious about life in the far north. An attempt to explain that I was returning to Los Angeles, my home, went nowhere. He'd decided I was a true Son of the Tundra, perhaps being coy. Since I'd been to Alaska, I played along and spoke about Fairbanks and Juneau and glaciers and Devil's Club.

He wanted to know if extreme cold harmed partying. I told him there was always a night life. (My instincts tell me this is true.)

We parted on good terms.

Am I writing? Yes. Let's leave it at that and not jinx matters. I'm on Ch. 5 of something that started out as a paranormal comedy and now veers into mystery. Fine. All I require is a first draft. All genre questions will be sorted out at that time.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bookangel Applauds 50ZG


Free UK ebook site Bookangel saluted my western-romance parody over on Goodreads. Among other complimentary remarks, they referred to 50 Shades of Zane Grey as ". . . a hysterically funny and very keenly observed skewering of Fifty Shades of Grey."

Read more here.

A depressing day, surrounded by much sickness and chaos. Very unpleasant time; wearying. I tell myself the classic, "It could be worse." But sometimes the old aphorisms fail to sooth. Humans are built to endure so that's what I'll do on a day when the birds are screeching, chirping, making a stinking racket right outside my window. Why doesn't Raid make anything for birds?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hallow Mass Hailed Again

TV Tropes

Reader and author Hans G. Schantz found my Lovecraftian horror tale "clever, amusing, and fun." Scroll down to Most Recent Customer Reviews and scope out his brief summary.

Still laboring to provide assistance to a very ill family member. Sometimes this very ill family member insists they're healthy as a young mare and that everyone, including cardiologists, are overwrought and misguided. This doesn't help.

I'm writing something. I'm writing almost every day. But I'm not going to say what I'm writing. For the last year, this has been poison to my craft. I'll drop the book or short story collection within six weeks and start on a fresh tale that I'll post about.

 So to keep the words flowing, I'm shutting my mouth. At least until the second draft.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Burnett Bids Bye to TV Animation

Nice guy Producer Alan Burnett wrapped it up after 26 years at Warner Bros. Amazing! Unbelievable! Who spends 26 years anywhere other than prison? I knew Alan back in the day and worked with him on a pair of Batman Beyond scripts as well as developing a project or two that never saw daylight. I wish him well in Florida, the land of his birth, where he returns now for grandchildren production, alligator enjoyment, and humidity

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Today

Not 'happy' Memorial Day. It should be a somber time with ceremonies tied to the theme that freedom isn't free. But we are a people cut off from our history, disconnected from our military whom many seem to view as a heavily armed jobs program in need of social engineering. Can't say the Romans were exactly the same as we, but, at some point, the elites of the western empire stopped serving and starting sub-contracting wars to barbarians who eventually conquered them.  I suppose anything not worth fighting for isn't worth keeping. May our honored dead rest in peace.

My family medical issue is lining up to be long term. I need to readjust my focus to accommodate an elderly relative in need of constant care. It's not pleasant, but a fair number of things in life just plain aren't.

Fractured elbow is healing better than I expected. Sprained wrist is back to around 85%. Ice and immobility are doing the trick.

Not a cheery post today, but my fundamental cheeriness is at low ebb, at least for the moment.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hallow Mass: You Will Be Triggered


Novelist and author of The Risen Adam J. Smith shared a few kind thoughts on my horror novel. Over at Stranger Writings, Smith summarized Hallow Mass thusly:

"With Overtones of William Peter Blatty's Humorous Dialogue Style, Hallow Mass is Irreverent, Self-Deprecating And Amusing — A Paranormal Novel with a Personality."

Where one may peruse a review of Hallow Mass.

More importantly, from a domestic stand-point, Smith saluted the book's editing, courtesy of my wife and her many years of magazine production. 

Scroll down the page and read the paragraph. Then swing by Cultured Vultures for Smith's full review. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sizzle Reel Update

Family medical problems command my attention these last several weeks. But, lo, gaze upon my updated sizzle reel, containing samples of my work not yet removed from You Tube for copyright violations.

Featured Post

John P. McCann Sizzle Page

'Twas suggested I post a few episodes of my work in a pleasant spot. I've chosen here. Sadly, not everything I've written has y...