May 27, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness Blogfest: The Man in The Green Station Wagon

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Welcome to the Random Acts of Kindness Blogfest, sponsored by the awesome folks at Wayman Publishing. This is a different kind of blogging event than you normally see.  No in-your-face marketing for a change (please ignore the obnoxious 'Now Available' sidebar to the left :) - just some positive stories about people who made a difference.

I invite you to click the link for the fest and check out the other blogs participating.  Hopefully they bring a smile to your day.  And if they inspire you even slightly, well then the world will be a brighter place tomorrow.

And now, without further ado...

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who grows up at the Jersey Shore is either well-off or an overly-tanned, under-brained moron.  Once upon a time, houses were bought by normal people for a comparatively modest price down in the smaller summer towns.  I grew up in one such small town and times weren’t always wonderful.

My parents divorced when I was around ten.  My father eventually moved to Pennsylvania. Once there, he more or less did a poor job of keeping up with his financial obligations to the family he left behind (including me and my younger sister).  My mother tried for a while, but eventually she began to develop a fondness for beverages of the hops-laden variety. After a while it caught up to her (and thus the rest of us).  We managed okay for a time, at least long enough for me to become old enough to hold down a part-time job.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, but there were definitely dark times during this period.

I remember a particularly bright point during one such time. It only happened once, but it stayed with me ever since.  Things weren’t going so well for us that year.  The bank account had run dry.  The mortgage was overdue, and my small paycheck was being whisked away the second I got it.  It was supposedly going toward household expenses, but I knew it was mostly going elsewhere (alas, I was a meek kid who didn’t speak up nearly as much as I should have).

Anyway, one day a man driving a green station wagon pulled up to our door.  Without saying anything other than a cursory greeting, he opened the trunk of his car and unloaded it - a full load of groceries and then some.  It was so random, but so awesome at the same time.  This person who didn’t know us at all had just dropped off several weeks’ worth of food and household goods.

Curious, I asked around in the coming days.  The story I heard was that he had done quite well for himself.  Supposedly (I say that because he was apparently a bit of a urban legend by the time we met him) he’d invested heavily in Chrysler in the days when the company stock had dropped to a pittance. Then when Lee Iacocca came in and turned it all around, he wound up making a killing off of it.  Rather than moving himself into a big house and living the good life, though, he instead retired and decided to give back to the community.  He’d ask around town and learn of people in need. Then every day he’d fill up his big green station wagon with groceries and do a similar drop off to what he did with us.

He never asked for thanks, and in truth the one time I ran into him at the grocery store and tried to express such he looked at me like I had two heads.  I suspect that might have been purposeful, though, and I think I can understand why.  Regardless, he made a difference to many families in need, mine included - one I will never forget.

Thank you, man in the green station wagon.

May 23, 2013

Toilet Humor

Recently I was asked why I didn't include a photo on the jacket of my paperbacks. The obvious answer should probably be because I’m not someone who most people probably feel the need to stare at, and until I start working out again that’s probably a good thing for all of us. Of course the temptation is there to photoshop myself onto a beefcake body, add more hair, maybe give my eyes a more stunning color, et cetera, but somehow I resist the urge.

The real answer (much like all real answers) is a bit more complicated, though.  See, I used to.  If you’re one of the dozen or so people who picked up the original paperback of Bigfoot Hunters, you may have noticed my smiling mug creepily leering at you from the back cover...assuming you didn't think someone had perhaps shaved one of the titular monsters and put it back there as a cruel joke to society.  It’s okay if you did. I often have to wear a sign whenever I visit the Bronx Zoo that reads “Not an exhibit!” I’m used to these sorts of things.

Anyhow, I didn't leave it there for long. When next I revised the cover, gone was my grinning visage. In its place I left a dark vortex of mystery in which you, the reader, can use your imagination to consider what foul creatures might be lurking there...or in other words, some blank space.  Hey, I never claimed to be a master of graphic design.

This is partially because of what I mentioned above.  The other part is a bit more - disturbing.  See, in a bid to get people to stop laughing whenever I pathetically mewled, “Hey, I wrote a book!” in a desperate cry for attention (daddy, why didn't you love me!?), I handed out a few paperbacks I had lying around. I figured that at minimum I’d get a few, “Fine, you wrote a book. Do you want a medal?” replies.

Much to my joy, though, one of my friends told me a few weeks later that he’d started Bigfoot Hunters and was impressed.  He said it was great bathroom reading.  Oh well, not quite the set of Masterpiece Theater, but as long as he was enjoying it...

But he didn't stop there.   He had to also point out that there was one little bit of weirdness for him.  To paraphrase, “I noticed your picture on the back cover.  So while I’m reading, it’s kind of like you’re there staring at my junk while I take a shit.”


And that was the beginning of the end for me.  Much like a bad song, his words stuck in my mind - repeating themselves over and over again, to the point where I would have gladly replaced them with a lifetime of Justin Bieber music playing in my skull (well maybe not going that far).

Even worse I had to consider the old concept, supposedly held by primitive peoples around the world, of photos stealing one’s soul.  What if that were true? What if every book I sold contained a little piece of me on the back cover...a little piece that was forever doomed to watch people poop?

Alas, I couldn't take that chance...even for those parts of my soul that are kind of assholes and probably deserve it.  Thus I chose to remove my photo to save myself from such a fate as well as spare you, dear reader, from having my disembodied head staring at you while your pants are down.  You’re welcome.

Of course this doesn't save you from the countless other tomes you might have lying around.  Me either, now that I think of it. Great!  Now I’m gonna have to take duct tape to ALL of my paperbacks...especially those ones by Dean Koontz in his porno-stache phase (shudder).

Yeah, I think I’m gonna stick to ebooks too from now on...

May 10, 2013

Big @ss Book Giveaway, through May 15th.

I am pleased to be a part of a massive springtime book giveaway hosted by best selling author Elle Casey, a fabulous writer, overall wonderful person, and someone who can crank out a good book in about the time it takes me to decide what to have for breakfast.

So that's all well and good, you may be thinking, but what's in it for me?

That's an easy one.

There are 190 different titles across multiple genres available in the giveaway.  In total over 1500 books are up for grabs.

Of course this includes yours truly.

So what I am bringing to the table?  I'm glad you asked.  I'm offering 2 tiers of prizes.  You can enter to win a free ebook copy of Bill The Vampire in the format of your choice.

That being said, if you're already here, there might be a slightly better than average chance you've already taken a look at it.  Arrogant of me to assume, I know, but allow me the indulgence -  it's been a long week.

One lucky winner, though, will receive the full Tome of Bill series to date, books 1-4, in paperback.  That includes:

Bill The Vampire
Scary Dead Things
The Mourning Woods
and my latest
Holier Than Thou

Heck I'm in a good mood, so I'll offer up this. They'll be autographed copies. Easily a $50,000 value (in my mind at least), all for the price of...nothing!

Be the "envy" (I obviously have a loose definition of that word) of your friends as you proudly display these treasures on your bookshelf, coffee table, or toilet tank.  Whatever floats your boat.

And while you're there, be sure to check out the other entries as well. There are some awesome picks to be had in just about any genre you might like.

You can enter HERE.  

Be quick, the giveaway is only open between May 10th through May 15th. Dawdle at your own risk.

To enter for the ebooks, look under the title Bill The Vampire.  For the paperback grand prize of awesomeness, look for The Tome of Bill.

Good luck and happy reading!

May 3, 2013

To that person who left me the lousy review...

I just wanted to say that I will find you.  I will hunt you to the ends of the earth.  I will make you beg like a dog while I proceed to skin you alive in front of your family.  I will chew on your face like bubble gum while I strap a...

Oh wait, no I won't.

What I meant to say was thank you.  Thank you for giving my book a chance.  I very much appreciate it and I'm sorry that it didn't work out for whatever reason.  Nevertheless, I value your opinion and you can be sure that I take any and all critique seriously, even those I don't necessarily agree with.  Cheers to you and I hope your next read will be an enjoyable one.  Maybe one day we'll meet again in this not-so big world.  If so, perhaps my next endeavor will be more to your liking.

Confused yet?  Hopefully most of you aren't.

You see, I'm fairly (sometimes) rational, often self-deprecating, and generally at least try to pretend to act like a professional. I'm very proud of my novels, but they aren't my children.  Despising them isn't even remotely in the same league as running over my pets.  You may hate them with a fury that makes the sun seem like a snowball and I will respect that.  Should you point out a typo to me, I won't chew off your head.  Tell me my characters are flat, I won't invoke primal gods to strike you down.  Let me know my sense of humor is about as funny as a pack of starving orphans, I won't race to my Facebook page and demand that you be made to pay for your "crimes".

In short, I am an adult.  I don't promise to always act like one, but I will always at least try to not be that spoiled child who didn't get a pony for their birthday.

Happy reading to you all, and to a few of my fellow authors out there: lighten up.  They're just stories (mine most definitely included).  Give your family or friends a hug and remind yourself that real life isn't made of paper. There are far better reasons to get angry.