Announcements! Benny the Bull is in my backyard...

Yeah, I don't blog much anymore. Every once in a while someone will tell me that they miss it, but the world still seems to be spinning. I've just been too stinkin busy with the two jobs and writing and being a dad/husband and whatnot. That doesn't mean that I don't still think about weird stuff, because I do. It also doesn't mean that I have been lazy in my writing, because I haven't. Even with my hectic schedule I still have a shot at putting out two books this year and this darned music keeps bounding around in my head. Last of all it really doesn't mean that I haven't been having weird dreams, because I have. I actually just had this old recurring dream that I used to have a lot when I was younger where I would be playing basketball and be able to dunk with almost no effort. This time, though, instead of showing off for the crowd and dunking on people, it was just me and my kids on an outdoor court at our house, which somehow had a huge yard with a sport court and a swimming pool. The problem I had in this dream was that the kids didn't care how awesome I was dunking because they were going down the big slide into our super sweet pool with Benny the Bull, who I seemed to think would appreciate my smooth dunking efforts, but he didn't care. Who am I fooling, Benny the Bull got to watch MJ in the flesh. So, anyway, that was the first time I ever had the sweet dunking dream and it didn't turn out awesome. I mean, I guess Benny the Bull coming to my house and the sweet pool and sport court are pretty awesome, all things considered, but I sure didn't get to dunk on anyone or hear the roaring adulation of a huge crowd. Oh well.

So, that's it for the blog today.

Just kidding. 

Is it annoying when I skip lines like this?

I bet it is if you're reading on your phone.

Or a tablet.

Probably isn't a big deal if you're on a pc.

Or are casting your screen onto a 70 inch led.

Maybe squarespace actually just formats it out too. 

I don't really know.

I'll stop.

You may be asking yourself: Why, after six months, has Tim finally decided to do a blog again when he has written about absolutely nothing except a weird dream and just wasted a bunch of space skipping lines? or What does that weird title mean? I get the Benny the Bull part, but I haven't heard any announcements.

Well, here it comes.

ANNOUNCEMENT

I quit my job as a special education aide at Washington Central Intermediate School. It was one of the most fulfilling jobs I've ever had and I loved almost every minute of it. Almost. There were some minutes I wouldn't mind replacing with other, better minutes, but overall it was great. The staff I worked with, both in the life skills department and throughout the entire school, is top notch and I couldn't have asked for better colleagues. I left this job almost every day with a smile on my face and a boatload of funny stories that I wish I could share with all of you, but alas, we haven't the space.  I especially would like to thank the teachers within the life skills department for taking me into their classroom, helping me grow as a teacher, and showing me what it is like to be truly dedicated to your work. You ladies are great.

As far as the students go, I really, honestly enjoyed working with them more than I thought possible when I started the job. Every day was different. Every time my face got licked it was different. Every time I answered the same question for the two thousandth time it was somehow different. Every time I would hear my name screamed down the hallway and that one student would come and try to jump into my arms for a hug, was also somehow different. I'll miss working with them. So, you may be asking yourself. Why quit if you love it so much? Well, on field day I ordered a size 2x shirt, and when I got it, it was a ladies 2x and I felt humiliated... 

OK, that's not true. I mean, I did get a ladies 2x shirt on accident, but it wasn't anyone's fault and I certainly wasn't humiliated. I mean, I don't know what it would actually take to humiliate me, but its more than that. I contemplated wearing the ladies 2x, but I'm not sure everyone involved could handle all that. So, I guess I still haven't answered the question, why quit?

ANNOUNCEMENT #2

I did use the plural, announcements, so here comes another. I also have informed the management staff at Chilis about my impending final days. This is another place I've loved working at over the years, and I still have a little time left, but the days are slowly coming to a close. Its hard to believe that when I started there I was 24 years old, not married, no kids, Axl was a pup... I mean I had just barely met my wife. Speaking of my wife, we just had our tenth wedding anniversary. Man, I'm getting old. Anyway, my time at Chilis has also been great. I've met a ton of people, whether its guests, staff, or management, that I'll remember for the rest of my life. Without that place I never would have met some people that I'll always remember and call friends until the day I die. This is where I met the real Bobby Poppen. He was one of the few people who didn't look at me all strange when I first mentioned I was writing a novel, and I believe was one of the first three to read both Ma'iitso and The Sentinel. Its where a met Eric Jorgensen, who also got his name in the first book. Al and Vikki Schoedel, Bill and Helen Barrick, Kenny Sutter, Mary Beth Cunningham, Wade and Dawn Richrath, GORDY, Jason Nordvall, Jason Trevino, Teresa Johnston, Amy Smith, Terri Kisler, Shorty, Lauren Dylla, Holly Richrath, Frona, Wyatt Robinson, Alex Berry, Big Buddy, Little Buddy, Stone Cold, Kim and Larry Hicks....... The list could literally go on and on and on. I apologize for leaving people off, but I could sit here for hours and keep adding names. If I left you out put your name in the comments and I'll add you! I've had a great run at Chilis and I'll miss the work. I enjoy bartending. I like the people. I like the atmosphere. Its fun. I'll especially miss the conversation. Man. All those conversations...

So, you may be still asking yourself once again: Why would he quit two jobs, both of which he loves, and why didn't he answer the first time? Maybe he's making a ton of money on bookwriting!

ANNOUNCEMENT #3

I'm excited to announce that I applied, was offered, and subsequently accepted a position, starting in August, at Washington Central District 51 as the 8th grade social studies teacher. As an aide in the school I worked with a lot of the teachers and staff in both the 8th grade and social studies departments and am honored to accept a position working with them. I've already begun molding my map of the curriculum and getting resources together to write and teach lessons. Its something I haven't done in a while, but shaking the rust off seems to be happening pretty quickly. I know that I have a lot of work left ahead of me and I know that every day isn't going to be smooth, but I feel like I'll be up to the challenge. Its going to be a fun year!

So, there you have it. I quit two jobs that I love to work another job that I assume is going to be great as well and also allows me to maybe work a little with my previous students and staff that I loved working with all while making a little more money so that maybe I can still go eat at Chilis every once in a while for a little bit of that conversation. Whew. Run- on city. Not a sentence. That either. I'm cool with it. I'm still planning on writing books, especially this summer, and if I get a few minutes one of these days I definitely have an album or two worth of material in my musical brain. Wait. Wait.

ANNOUNCEMENT #4

To celebrate all of these announcements (and maybe clear out a little inventory and maybe put some money in the timwheatbooks account) I've decided to have a sale. Go to the shop section of the site and buy a hardback, or paperback, directly from me, via paypal for $22 and $12, respectively. I still have a few of the first editions of Ma'iitso Rises left over as well as a few Ma'iitso paperbacks. As far as Rex Chase and The Sentinel go you can't get them any cheaper anywhere else and they don't come signed from anywhere else. I have shipping to the lower 48 and taxes mixed right into those numbers. If you don't care for physical copies and you don't care to have my Herbie Hancock then you can still head on over to Amazon or Smashwords or Ibooks or Barnes and Noble or Kobo etc. and download. Rex Chase is only 99 cents! 

So, to recap. I loved working special ed. I loved working Chilis. I quit them both. I'll be teaching 8th grade social studies in the fall. Please buy a book! I'm broke from quitting all my jobs!

 

 

 

Posted on June 9, 2015 .

2015!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The year I become a gamer...

I was going to use 2015 exclamation points in the title, but that seems a bit superfluous. Fifteen will just have to do. Hello everyone! It's been a couple of months. I know I've been slacking on the blog, but I have literally been too doggone busy. Is that how you spell doggone? I'm not looking it up. 

As I've written about before I'm teaching at Washington Intermediate School, putting in a couple days a week at Chilis, writing books, and still doing this whole husband/father thing. My plan over the Christmas break was to catch up on some of my blog/book stuff, maybe get a hundred pages or so written, hang out with the kids, hang out with the rest of the family who was here, and try to relax a little.

Instead we got sick. Both boys ran fevers for the better part of a week, and Chase had the unenviable burden of having a cough bad enough for everyone. It was kind of him to shoulder that kind of load. I didn't really fall too ill myself, but wasn't quite right for a couple of days. My wife managed to skip it altogether, which was good for her. 

So, what did I get done? Video games. Lots and lots of video games.

I'm not really much of a gamer myself. I'm a little on the impatient side when it comes to learning WiiU or Xbox or Playstation. So many buttons. So many choices. Which way do I turn? Someone shot me in the head already? We just started. This sucks. Oh, I came back to life? Sweet. Alright, where am I? Walking up a stairwell. Sweet. Alright. Which button cycles through my weapons? I got shot in the head again? This sucks. 

Lets play something else. Skylanders? Cool. Which guy am I? Wildfire? He sounds awesome. He's a lion too? Sweet. What's he do? He has a shield, a fire whip, and fire roar? Rock on. What do I do with all that stuff? I dash with the shield, whip people with the fire whip, and breathe fire like a dragon with the fire roar? Awesome. How do I do that? I push Z, then A, another for B, combos of each will do different sweet moves, and I should just figure it out as I go? Alright, let's get out there and save the Phoenix Chicken. What? This is a just a mission so I can practice? Perfect. Let's do this. Alright. I'm trying. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm sorry. I'm trying. Someone keeps hitting me! I can't even find who is hitting me! Ooooh, sweet, I figured out how to fire roar. This is awesome. DIE DOOMRAIDERS! What? I'm dead already. This sucks.

I'm sorry, I'm no good at this. What? Maybe I'll be better at Super Smash Bros? OK. What do I do? Who do I want to be? I don't care. Who never dies and kicks a lot of butt? Oh, you customized a guy named Dark Pitt and he's awesome? Sweet. I can't use him though because he's yours? Oh, you signed me up to fight as princess peach? Alright, she's pretty tough too you say? Awesome. Let's fight. Here we go! A, A, A, Z, Z, Z. MOVE PEACH! YOU'RE GETTING DESTROYED AND YOU'RE JUST STANDING THERE! I'm dead already? I have another life? Awesome. Z, Z, Z, Z. YOU SUCK PEACH! What? Y attacks better? Well, Y didn't you tell me that? Ha ha. I kill me. Alright. Y, Y, Y, Y, Y, and I'm dead again.  This sucks.

Yeah, you're right. I suck. Mario Kart 8 is probably more my speed. Let's give it a shot. Who am I racing as? Oh, that doesn't matter? What matters is my cart, the wheels, and the glider I pick? Great. Teach me how to do that. Thanks. OK, we're ready to race. GO! Oh, I'm in last. I'm still in last. Why is everyone pulling away from me so fast? I get it. You guys tricked me into building a crappy cart. Ha, ha. Let's start over. OK, I have a competitive cart now. GO! Ooooooh, I'm in 6th, 5th, 4th! Ohhhhhh, I wrecked. I'm in last. Go, Yoshii go! I'm catching up! And I wrecked. Alright, new game. I'll do better. Go! 6th, 4th, 2nd, FIRST!!!!! Alright keep calm. This is your race to win. Just don't wreck. Don't wreck. WHAT JUST HAPPENED! Someone picked up a mystery box and shot me with a red turtle shell! Now I'm in LAST! This sucks.

Maybe I'll be better at Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warrior? Maybe? I doubt it though. I'm feeling a bit beaten. Maybe I'll just watch. Yeah, I'm better at watching.

Multiply each of these incidences by about 1000 and have it last for hours on end and you essentially have an idea of how my kids dominate me at video games. Sometimes I hold them down and tickle them just to remind them who's the boss. Now, if we busted out the old school Atari and you wanted to do a little RiverRaid battle, I'm your man, but even being a lazy sick old man for a couple of weeks hasn't brought me into the modern land of gaming. I'll just have to stick to the Father/Husband/Teacher/Writer/Musician course and leave gaming as a good way to boost my kids' self esteem. Yeah, that's it, I'll stay bad on purpose. Good idea.

So, that was my first blog of 2015. Guess what? I have books for sale. You should buy them. Head to the shop section of the site, or Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or Kobo, or Apple, I recently sold some on Scribd, which I don't even know what that is... Also, I'm not really a resolutions kind of guy and according to Chase my resolution for 2015 is to "fart less, and therefore stink less", but I did make another resolution this year, and that's to write two books in 2015. I have all the ideas in the world, I just gotta find the time. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted on January 3, 2015 .

I wanna be I wanna be like Mike...

When I was a boy/young man, there were very few things more important to me in this world than sports.  Baseball cards were a NEED every time we would go to the store from about age 9 until 12. I also can't remember a time when I didn't have the urge to throw a ball, or dribble it, or toss it up in the air and catch it, or tap it off my leg, Even to this day if I'm laying on the couch and a tennis ball or balloon or anything of the sort is sitting right there I'll find myself mindlessly tossing it up in the air and catching it over and over. It's almost like second nature.

I think it was because of that second nature, and drive to perfect it, that my hand eye coordination and muscle control developed in the way it did. Nobody had to teach me to throw or catch, because I had done it myself over countless repetitions for no particular reason other than I couldn't sit still and I had found this great way to focus the energy without getting myself into trouble and to me it was fun!  I remember standing in the backyard for hour upon hour tossing a baseball up into a tree and trying to catch it as it bounced like a plinko chip down the branches. I would run and dive and get dirty, but also, quite unwittingly, I was training myself for the most difficult of scenarios that wouldn't actually rear its head on a baseball field, short of the ball hitting off a bird or something. 

So, this week when my oldest son came to me and said that he wanted to try out for the traveling baseball team it got me to thinking about the best way to help him. You see, neither of my kids, so far, just naturally gravitated toward an organized sport like baseball, basketball, football, soccer etc. They show a little interest in everything, but not like it was with me, or how I see some of the students at school, and that's fine. I want them to do what they are interested in. In the last few months, though, my oldest has shown a particular interest in baseball and football. In baseball, of course, his main interest has been hitting, and over the summer he has become a pretty decent hitter. I don't think we're on a Mike Trout path just yet, but his swing has grown by leaps and bounds and when he gets hot produces some line drives that keep me on my toes. I've actually started throwing the ball in a full motion, rather than just short arming them up there, which has been pretty cool, because, as I've mentioned, I like playing ball.

This week, though, when he said he wanted to try out for a traveling team, I told him that, since he's shown interest, he could, although he's going to have to learn to throw and catch. He didn't complain and seemed willing, so that's what we've been working on.

The problem is, is that I don't think I've ever taught someone to throw or catch. Not really anyway. I've worked with plenty of kids at the junior high to high school level but by then you're kind of past the real rudimentary phases of the art of catching. My oldest is not past that phase. He put that glove on his hand, I threw the ball at him, and he missed A LOT. I'd say somewhere around 90% didn't even touch his glove. I tried different speeds and distances and showed him what I used to do when I was a kid, but it just didn't seem like that natural drive or ability was there. Then I noticed something yesterday when we were playing catch, and I don't know how I missed it. 

I must have stressed to him a thousand times that he needed to follow the ball all the way in and it would just land in his glove and all he had to do was squeeze it, and the only way to get better is to practice, but he seemed to have this mental block about stabbing at the ball at the last second if it was anywhere but right where his glove started. I tried a bunch of different ways and told him that he was closing his eyes, and sometimes flinching, which I thought was what was making him miss. I told him not to be afraid of the ball. It doesn't even hurt that bad if it hits you. Then I noticed he had his glove arm elbow anchored against the side of his body, whereas I naturally hold the glove away from my body a little bit, making it easier to adjust to the flight path of the ball. So, I got him to move his elbow, freeing up his arm, and VIOLA!  He went from catching about 10% of the throws to 80%. That simple mechanical adjustment, which I'm guessing I figured out on my own through countless repetition while playing at a young age essentially fixed the problem. Don't get me wrong, he's no Ozzie Smith just yet, but we both felt pretty good about the giant leap in success.

What was neat, though, was seeing his demeanor change. I'm a pretty patient guy, and I try my hardest not to get frustrated, but watching him chase hundreds of balls that sailed past him without so much as him getting a glove on them had both of us feeling a bit dejected. The good part was that we got to work on running everywhere we go when we're at practice, but that was the only bright spot. Anyway, he and I both went from frustration to joy as he caught ball after ball, racking up multiple streaks of ten catches in a row. Then I realized something.

We were having fun! I need to think more like a kid and less like a parent/old guy/coach. I thought this was something I was already doing since I wasn't scolding him, or punishing him for doing it wrong or anything like that. BUT I WASN'T. 

I was trying to fix a simple problem through a bunch of non-simple steps based on repetitive practice without the proper evaluation time. That sounds boring whether you read it or say it aloud.

So, how do I fix that?

Duh. How did I get past all of those hurdles when I was a kid? Did I watch video of myself and discuss body mechanics and seek out an expert in kinesiology? Nope, I did it the old fashioned way. By playing. 

If he really wants to get better we'll just keep playing. At some point the mechanics involved will become very important, but right now we just need to play, have fun, and keep doing it. Just like I eventually noticed he needed to get his elbow away from his body, I'll notice things that can help him throw a little better, and instead of painful repetition that leads to dejection (which sometimes baseball can be, especially when you get to higher levels) I'll notice something, incorporate it into the play, and then it becomes even more fun. 

How is it possible that I forgot this? I've always said that part of what made me good at baseball was my drive to be good at basketball. I would never have just run for miles and miles and done tons of core workouts and all that blah blah blah stuff to be good at baseball. That stuff is boring. Playing is fun. Although it felt like I had naturally developed my arm strength, core strength, and stamina, I really had just played, a lot, at a lot of different things. I've known that for as long as I can remember and can hardly believe it somehow left my mind. 

Recently a younger cousin of mine reminded me of a story my father told him once. He had asked my dad how I had learned to dunk a basketball. My dad had replied with a story about how I would lower my hoop to 7 feet and dunk and dunk until pretty soon I could move it up to 8 feet and dunk and dunk and then 9 feet/dunk and dunk, until finally, when I was 16 I got the hoop up to 10 feet and would dunk and dunk. The point of my father's story was to illustrate setting goals, achieving them, and then setting new goals.

What's funny, though, is that I remember it a little differently. I think that my goal may have been to eventually dunk on a ten foot hoop, but what drove me every day to keep going was my desire to do things the way the guys in the NBA dunk contest did it. The reason I started the hoop at 7 feet, 8 feet, etc. was that I could emulate a windmill, or a reverse, or a 360 at those levels and I would have these imaginary dunk contests in my brain, complete with Marv Albert's voice. (I don't know if Marv even called the dunk contests, his is just the voice I put together with NBA basketball back then.) So, at some point I would get good enough to move up a level and that's what I would do. Was a trying to learn to dunk on a 10 foot hoop? Nope. I was trying to beat Michael Jordan in an imaginary dunk contest. I was playing

Anyway, I never got to a Jordanesque level, but through using my imagination and playing I eventually got to the point I could dunk pretty darn well on a ten foot hoop. It didn't hurt that the court at my house was in the sand either. When I would get in the gym it felt like someone had taken a fifty pound weight off my legs. 

So, thinking about all of this kind of makes sense with my oldest son too. Why does he like hitting over playing catch? Because he learned to do it well first. Well, that, and hitting is pretty fun, and it is naturally a game, trying to hit the ball harder and farther each time, although I always liked pitching b/c I liked getting my friends out and you're in on every play, and the success rate is a lot higher. Then another thing struck me. Hot box can be a great teacher. If you can't throw or catch you can't get anyone out, and then you don't get to run. My kids love tag, I can guarantee they'll like hotbox. What a great motivator.

So, the lesson I learned this week was to stop thinking like an old guy and get into the mind of a kid, which shouldn't be that hard for me. As long as we're hustling and having a good time the mechanics will come around, and if they don't, who cares. We'll keep playing and getting better and when tryout time comes we'll do our best. If our best isn't good enough yet, then we'll just keep playing. Yeah, whether you're 8 or 36, playing is a lot more fun than boring old practice. Duh.


So, that's the blog for this week. I know it's a day late again, but it couldn't be helped. There aren't enough hours in the day and it turns out I do actually need some sleep. I'm contemplating moving the blog schedule to a bi-weekly thing, but I'll address that in the future. If you haven't checked it out yet, Rex Chase is on sale for $2.99 on Amazon and The Sentinel is ready for consumption. Sign up for my newsletter if you want updates sent directly to your email. Hope you all are doing well!


Posted on October 9, 2014 .

So, I'm late a day... Deal with it.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a number of emails and texts yesterday about why I hadn't put a blog out yet. Although I can see on my site analytics that people do actually subscribe to this thing and read it on a weekly basis, I don't usually get a lot of feedback or interaction, so it kind of seems like I just do it for the writing practice. Anyway, I'm sitting down for a moment to do it today, and to make an announcement.

I got a job.

What kind of job, you say? Don't you already work at subbing and at Chilis and writing books?

The answers are this. I accepted a position at Washington Intermediate School/Central District 51, my official title is Special Education Aide and I still work at Chilis and write books.

So, what does a Special Education Aide do? Well, largely I work with special needs children to further their education. I walk them up and down the hallways. Make sure they wash their hands. Help them unlock their lockers. Keep them from eating hand sanitizer. Intervene when a bigger child gets physical with their little teacher. Stop them from licking things. Ask them to put their shoes and socks back on a hundred times. Teach them that you don't tell people to MOVE! when they are in your way, you say 'excuse me' in your most polite voice. Don't swear in the hallways. Don't swear in the classroom. Don't swear in the bathroom. Don't swear in the office. Don't swear on the playground. Don't swear in the band room. Don't swear in the gym. Don't swear in the cafeteria. Don't swear on the bus. Don't swear at the driving range. Don't swear on the baseball diamond. Don't swear in the library. Don't swear in the computer lab. Because telling them not to swear isn't specific enough. They must know exactly where they are not allowed to do it.   Disclaimer: Students and their behaviors have been mashed together into one big melting pot so as not to single any one student out, and because it makes for better storytelling :)

Student: Mr. Wheat. Can I swear at home?

Me: Probably not, but its up to your mom and dad.

Student: Its fine.

Me: I doubt it.

Student: Don't worry about it. Hey Mr. Wheat.

Me: Yes.

Student: Mashed potato.

Me: With gravy.

Student: Ooooooohhhhhh yummy. I love gravy.

Me: Pickled jalapenos.

Student: Gross. That's gross. Apple crisp.

Me: A la mode.

Student: What's that mean?

Me: With ice cream.

Student: Oooooooohhhhhhhhhh yummy. I love ice cream.

Me: Me too.

Student: Hot dog.

Me: With mustard.

Student: Oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh yummy. Pizza.

Me: I love pizza. Fetuccini.

Student: What is fetuccini?

Me: Its noodles. Kind of like spaghetti.

Student: Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhh yummy. Ear wax.

Me: Gross. You eat ear wax?

Student: No you do. Buttface.

Me: That wasn't very nice. What if I called you that?

Student: I'm sorry Mr. Wheat. Are you OK Mr. Wheat?

Me: I'm fine, but you can't call people names. Its mean.

Student: I'm sorry Mr. Wheat. So sorry Mr. Wheat. Are you OK Mr Wheat?

Me: I'm OK. How are you?

Student: Good. What is your name Mr. Wheat?

Me: Mr. Wheat.

Student: Noooooooooo. Your real name.

Me: Mr. Wheat.

Student: Mr. Buttface.

Me: That's your first warning.

Student: I'm sorry Mr. Wheat. Are you OK Mr. Wheat?

Me: I'll be OK, but you hurt my feelings and now I'm sad.

Student: But I said I'm sorry Mr. Wheat. So sorry Mr. Wheat. Are you OK Mr. Wheat? Will you cry Mr. Wheat?

Anyway, these conversations can last entire class periods. I especially like the food naming game. The student's excitement over food they love is awesome. I mean, I like food, but not like that.

So, that's why I wasn't able to do a blog yesterday. I worked all day at the school, walked in the door to the house, changed clothes, and went to Chilis, worked all night, got home about 11:30, watched the end of some new Adam Sandler movie with my wife, went to bed, and then the alarm went off in what seemed to be five minutes and I'm doing it again today. Oh yeah, and I have a 45 minute lunch break which I am using to write this blog. The thing is, is that so far, I love the job. Wish me luck!

P.S. I know, the title of today's blog is kind of rude, unless you know why it isn't. Then you'll think it's funny. I don't have time to tell the inside joke though! See ya next week!

! Happy hump day!


Posted on October 2, 2014 .

Yeah, I drive a Ford Fusion...

So, I was sitting here thinking about what I was going to write today. Life has been super busy with teaching during the days, bartending during the nights, playing with the kids, going for a bike ride or two, getting some writing done here and there, and... Oh, yeah, The Sentinel launch is this Friday. So, at first I thought I'd write about it all, but then I decided. Let's talk about teaching.

I have a couple REALLY funny stories from this, but then it hit me. Maybe I shouldn't publish all of these really funny stories on the interwebs. A lot of them have to do with things other people's kids say and things they do, and while I wouldn't mean any harm by it, they just struck me as funny, I could see someone's mommy getting in a tizzy over it, and I don't need that. I do have one that is about an adult, though, and I think adults are still fair game.

(To protect the innocent AND the guilty, all names and locations have been changed.)

So, I'm called to sub in a science class one day at a relatively large school, I take the job, and show up on time and ready to go. Most of the time when I get there to sub I check in at the office, grab whatever credentials they might want me to wear around my neck or on my shirt that label me as not a child molester or crazed gunman, and then get down to the room. I then generally have notes sitting for me right there on the desk and I run through them quickly to see what the plan for the day is, thumb through any assignments I may be handing out, and familiarize myself with the talking points of the day. Then, the students start showing up.

When I got to class this day, though, apparently someone forgot to leave me any notes, so I run down to the office real quick and ask, and she says the teacher should have left them there, but she'll call him real quick. So, she calls him, and the teacher doesn't answer the phone, (duh, I don't answer the phone when work calls and I've called in sick.), and the secretary offers to get the principal to see what I should do. He comes out and offers a couple of ideas about just making it a study hall day that would have nothing to do with what they are normally doing, and then I offer to check out the teacher's planner, which many teachers often leave sitting on their desks or can be located on their computers, and figuring something out from there. So, the principal and I run down to the room, but there is no planner to be found. He reiterates his idea about it being a study hall day and I agree that if I don't figure out something better we'll just go with that, but I'll be honest that sounded incredibly boring. It could be a slight problem too because this school has block schedule which makes classtime an hour and a half long. That's a lot of wasted time and I don't know if getting kids to just sit quietly for 90 straight minutes sounds easy to any of you, but it is not. He apologizes a bunch and says that he'll tell my neighbors I'm kind of in here winging it so that they'll poke their heads in every once in a while to make sure I'm OK and I inform him that it's no big deal. I can handle it. Don't worry about it.

So, the kids show up, and first hour is always a little hectic, since I don't know anyone's name and we have to do attendance and lunch count and all of that jazz. The kids were very cooperative, though, and my classroom leadership skills/tricks have been honed pretty well. I say skills/tricks because part of being a sub sometimes is tricking the kids, especially if they are rowdy or uncooperative, into doing some of the work for you, ie, almost competing for the privilege to do so. It's different than when it's your own classroom where, over the course of the days/weeks/months, students and teachers ideally develop a symbiotic working relationship. I have to make that happen in about five minutes today, since I don't have an action plan to follow.

Anyway, we get the start of the day stuff over with, I get to the front of the science classroom, introduce myself to everyone, and ask them how they are etc. We have a few laughs, while still staying under control, and they ask me what we're doing today while I prod them for ideas about what they've been studying, doing, etc. After a few minutes I've grasped that they've been talking about famous scientific inventors of the 20th century. I see that I have a bunch of chromebooks in the classroom, so I devise a plan. 

Admittedly, I've subbed a number of science classes before, and although it isn't what my degree is in, I read science stuff all of the time. I find it interesting and enjoyable. Anyway, the students are conveniently seated in pairs so I pick up my dry erase marker and ask the first pair their names and to name a 20th century scientific inventor. They choose Einstein. I ask them what he invented. They have no idea. Perfect. I write their names along with Einstein's on the board, and proceed to do the same with all the other pairs.

During this time, I notice a man kind of sneak in and sit down in the adjoining science lab. When I say sneak, I mean that a series of windows and only one door separate the classroom from the lab, and though the door is open, he was quiet about it and I'm not sure the students noticed. Not a big deal. The principal said that he would have neighbors check in on me. As I'm writing the stuff down on the board I see him open a briefcase and get out some papers. He starts writing on them and kind of seems to be watching, but isn't necessarily paying a lot of attention. I assumed he was one of the other teachers who decided to just do his prep work in the computer lab as a favor to the principal and I, just in case I needed the help.

So, now I've paired all of the students with a name of a 20th century inventor, I ask them to get one chromebook per pair, and I assign them the task of finding said inventor's birthdate, death date, what he/she invented, why that is important, and 8 other facts.  No Wiki allowed. Class is off! 

It actually was going better than I had hoped. The students were working well together, we had the proper amount of interaction without getting rowdy or loud, and I moved from group to group to help facilitate learning. The only real problem was that they were almost working too fast, we still had almost an hour of class left, so I devised another part of the plan. I went to the dry erase board, erased the names of the students and inventors, and kicked on the smartboard. Some of you may not know what a smartboard is, but it is basically a big touchscreen computer interface at the front of a lot of classrooms. I then went around the classroom and told every group to pay close attention to their inventor's faces. I want them to be able to picture them in their heads. They say OK, but didn't really know why.

So, now the kids have all pretty much finished and the process of putting away the chromebooks gets a little rowdy. I notice the man in the other room stand up with a clipboard and kind of stand by the window, and he seems to be paying attention. Whatever. It takes a couple of minutes but we get back to our seats, I get everyone calmed back down, and I tell them to rip their page out of their notebooks, put their names on them, and turn them in. I walk around and pick up all these assignments. Then, I pick my first names. We'll call them Bobby and Susie.

I ask Bobby and Susie to come up to the front of the class and tell them not to disclose the name of their inventor. I ask the people who were sitting near them if they knew who Bobby and Susie's inventor was, and they say no, which is perfect. I then asked Bobby and Susie who wanted to write on the board, and they agree that it should be Susie. Then I asked her to draw me a picture of their inventor's face, since I had asked them to memorize the faces. She blushes and everyone in the classroom laughs, and she doesn't want to do it. Bobby says he'll do it, and I offer to draw a picture as well. So, Bobby and I go about the task of drawing our pictures of Henry Ford on the dry erase board and everyone gets a real kick out of it. I have to settle them back down a couple of times, but not a huge deal. We finish and admire our handy work. Obviously the pictures are terrible and I ask the students to guess who their inventor is. Once again, obviously nobody could get it from the picture so we give his birthdate, death date, and the fact that he invented mass production. One of the students raises his hand, gives the correct answer that it's Henry Ford. Sweet! I let Bobby and Susie go back to their seats, I punch up Henry Ford on the smartboard so everyone can see his picture, make a couple of jokes about how bad my drawing is, compliment Bobby's excellent work on Henry Ford's nose, and talk/interact with the kids for a couple of minutes about Ford. While I was talking I noticed the man in the other room smile a few times at our conversations and I was glad he seemed to be enjoying himself.

The only problem I really had now, though, was that I had spent almost ten minutes talking about Henry Ford, how he invented mass production, and how I drive a Ford Fusion, and how someone in the class should invent sustainable fusion reactions on earth because then we'd have relatively unlimited energy, but then they didn't really know what a fusion reaction was so I told them that it was when two hydrogen nuclei slam together with such force using either gravity or superheat or both, that they stick together, or fuse, which lasts like a gazillionth of a second until they split apart, releasing massive amounts of energy while creating normal amounts of radiation along with a helium nucleus and a neutron. I'm not sure if they understood any of it, even though I was pointing at the periodic table as I explained it, but the problem I was having now, was, that I wasn't going to have enough time for everyone's pictures and stuff if I rambled on for so long.

So, we went through the rest of the class, and alas, I could not keep myself from rambling. Because it's hard when the kids are asking you legitimate questions and you can make eye contact with every single one of them, showing that they are actually listening and they are smiling and participating while still staying under control with their laughter/talking etc. We had fun drawing the people and then I would pull them up on the smartboard and make fun of my drawing skills some more, which they all got a kick out of. One group was too shy to draw a picture so I drew one with my left hand and one with my right simultaneously. They were pretty awful. Pretty much stick men with long scraggly hair and weird noses. Anyway, we only got six of the twelve inventors drawn and talked about, and then it was time to go.

Success! I just had to do this two more times, which should be easy now that I have a lesson plan fresh in my brain. So, as the kids file out of the room I see the man in the other room put his stuff in his briefcase and I figure he's on his way to teach somewhere else. Instead, though, he comes into the room and introduces himself, but he doesn't say "I'm Mr. So and So", he says "I'm Dr. So and So and I enjoyed watching you teach today."  My first thought was "Wow, I wonder why Dr. So and So teaches middle school," but I just said, "Thanks a lot doc. Did ya learn anything?"

He laughed. I laughed. Then, we talk for a couple of minutes about the lesson and how well the kids interacted and how I did a good job keeping them on task, and how he thought I was going to lose them at the Chromebooks putting away part, but that I wrangled them in nicely. He then complimented me on my use of technology and that the drawing pictures then putting them up on the smartboard was a nice touch. He also thought I handled the shy students who were too embarrassed well, since we should never embarrass the kids, and then he wondered aloud if I would be finishing the rest of the inventor's up tomorrow, to which I replied. 

"I doubt I'm back in here tomorrow."

He laughed and said.

"Don't worry, I think you'll be back."

I was genuinely confused, but thought maybe he knew something I didn't so I just said something to the effect of this.

"Well, I mean if I am I guess I can keep going with this, but it would probably be better to get in touch with their teacher and make sure they get back where he needs them."

To which he replied.

"You mean you aren't their teacher."

"Nope, I'm a sub."

He couldn't have hid his embarrassment no matter how hard he tried, but he tried nonetheless. The rest of the conversation went something like this.

"I apologize for the mix-up. I'm Dr. So and So, the superintendent, and I was here to observe Mr. So and So today. He's new and I've only met him a few times. I thought he looked a little different! You did an excellent job with his lesson plan and materials, though. Why aren't you already teaching science somewhere?"

"Well, I write books, I bartend at nights, and I'm not actually a science teacher. My degree is in Social Studies Secondary Ed."

"Well, I think you could handle science too. How did you know all that information about fusion?"

I gave him the same answer I give students when they ask me the same question.

"I'm old.  I know stuff."

He laughed. I laughed. Then he offered me a handshake, I took it, and he started to leave.

"What kind of books do you write?"

"They're Action/Adventure with kind of an eye to sci-fi lovers as well. Think Cussler meets The Matrix...kind of." (I'd never actually used that comparison before, but it kind of fits. Maybe I'll keep using it.)

"Sounds interesting. Where can I find you?"

I pulled out my wallet and gave him a card.

"You can start there, or just go to google, amazon, or wherever, type in Tim Wheat, and you'll be off and running."

"Well, it's nice to meet you Tim, and if it's as interesting as your teaching style I'll probably enjoy it. Was that whole lesson in the notes, or did you ad lib some of it?"

I didn't want to get anyone in trouble, but I didn't want him to ask someone else and get a different story so I told the truth, which I hear is always a good place to start.

"Actually, I had to make up the whole thing. Mr. So and So must have gotten sick in a hurry because he didn't have time to leave me anything, or maybe somebody lost it or something."

"You made up the whole thing this morning, just now?  Even the picture drawing?"

"Well, I kind of got the gist of what they were learning from the kids and ran with it from there. I just added the picture drawing to burn time. I probably didn't even need it, but once it was so much fun I didn't want to skip it."

"Well, good job Tim. I appreciate your help today. Good luck with your other classes and your books."

"Thanks doc."

I wouldn't have called him doc again, except for that I couldn't remember his name. You would have thought Dr. So and So wouldn't be so hard to remember.

He laughed at me calling him doc again and left. The second class time was my prep period for the day, so I didn't have any students coming into the classroom and I sat down, pulled out my laptop and started working on promoting Rex Chase and The Sentinel. Did I mention to any of you that The Sentinel launches this Friday? September 26th 2014? 

Just in case you didn't know. It does. You can buy it from Amazon by clicking on this buy it from Amazon picture thingy. I'd really love for all of you to buy it the day it's released and leave a review. You know bump it up the bestselling list a ways and make zillions of dollars!

I still need Amazon and Goodreads reviews. 

That's all for the day.  HAPPY WEDNESDAY EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted on September 24, 2014 .

Newsletter #1

We are leading up to the official September 26th release of The Sentinel and for this week's blog I'm going to let you check out what happened in my first ever official newsletter. I'll be doing one of these every quarter, I think, or maybe just when I deem them necessary, or maybe twice a year. I guess I haven't really put a timetable on it yet. Anyway, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter and you'll get content like this right into your email!

Welcome to my very first official newsletter. Sure, I've sent out emails before, but this is the very first in what I plan on making a quarterly, or bi-annual newsletter.  I haven't really decided how often everyone will really need to be updated, as I certainly don't wish to inundate your inbox with garbage. If you want to know what's happening on a week to week basis you can check out the blog over at www.timwheatbooks.com/blog  No, this newsletter is meant to cover the broad strokes and organize all of that weekly blog information into one place. When is a book coming out? Where can I get the last book? Where can I get this book? Can I buy it in hardback? etc. etc.

Without further adieu, here's what's happening in the world of timwheatbooks.

This week, September 14th-19th, Rex Chase will be on Amazon for the sale price of only 99 cents. Rex Chase? What is that? Why haven't I heard of it? Well, if you haven't been following the blog you probably don't know that Ma'iitso Rises received a facelift and slight editorial overhaul. While working with my editor on The Sentinel he actually took the time to read the first book, made some suggestions, they seemed reasonable, so I acted upon them. One suggestion was that, although Ma'iitso Rises was a fitting name for the book, it didn't matter. People can't read it. People can't pronounce it. People can't remember it. People skip right over it. When choosing to name the book Ma'iitso Rises I thought it fitting and hoped that it would stir people's curiosity. They would want to know what was inside because the title was interesting. Well, after a year's worth of constant fighting to get Ma'iitso noticed in the vast digital realms of books I decided to retire the name AND the cover. The search for a new name was difficult and I ran hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ideas through the ringer before asking my editor a question. "What do you think about just naming the first book Rex Chase"  His answer: "It worked for David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, Hamlet..." and the list went on and on. I noticed that a lot of other author's books had little annotations to the side that said "a thriller" or "a mystery" etc. etc. So, the new cover says Rex Chase: A Novel. I didn't feel right classifying it as a thriller, or an adventure, or anything like that since it has elements of action, mystery, suspense, and science fiction. Next up, I had another decision to make since the cover for Ma'iitso Rises was described to me by my editor as "terrible". His explanation beyond it being terrible was sound. A good cover isn't so much about what is on it as it is about making people want to look at it. Contrast, color, and the use of negative space are all things trained graphic designers study intensely and Ma'iitso's cover didn't do any of that well. Bummer. The good news on that front, though, was that I found a cover that I loved almost immediately and at a great price. It had a few flaws that I would be happy to discuss with any of you in person, but they weren't glaring and I was easily able to adjust the story to make it fit. Now, down to the Rex Chase editing. I knew that passive voice is, generally speaking, a no, no in creative writing. I have some tools that help me to identify it, and according to those tools, I was in pretty good shape. According to my editor, though, I needed to bring 580+ passive sentences in Rex Chase down to 25 or less. Eliminate 555 sentences? Nope. I re-wrote them, and he was right, the book is better for it. Next up in the redux of Rex Chase was the issue of adverbs. Once again I had used my own tools to help identify adverbs, and according to them I was in pretty good shape. According to my editor I had over 2000 adverbs and I needed to bring that number under 100. Eliminate almost 2000 adverbs? Yep, that's what I had to do, and once again, he was right. The book reads better for the effort. So, to summarize, Ma'iitso Rises no longer exists. It has morphed into a sleeker, more polished work hereto be known as Rex Chase: A Novel. 

So, if you don't have the digital version, follow the link above or click on the picture right here to get Rex Chase for only 99 cents! For those of you who have already purchased the book, in any of its forms and from any distributor I would greatly appreciate a review on Amazon or Goodreads. If you have an account either place please, please, please leave a review! On Amazon it is preferred if it is a verified review (meaning you purchased through Amazon), but it isn't mandatory. All you need is an Amazon account and you can leave one for me. Thanks!

 Let's say none of the links are working. You can always just go to www.amazon.com and search Tim Wheat!

Next up on the agenda is the upcoming release of The Sentinel  

We are only a couple of weeks away from the September 26th release date of The Sentinel! Writing this book was a different process from the first and now that it is complete I'm very satisfied with the outcome. Early reviews describe it as "well-written", "snappy", "more action", "Wheat has found his own voice." and "If you thought he left room for a second book wait until you finish it. I'm dying for the third!" If you haven't been following the blog at all then this might be the first time you're hearing of The Sentinel and that's great! I opened the hardback version for pre-order about a month ago and now have the initial first editions in my hands. Well, that isn't necessarily 100% true because there are a number of you on this list that have already received your signed first edition. If you are hearing this for the first time, though, you're in luck. I still have some first editions available. All you have to do is head on over to www.timwheatbooks.com/shop click on the link for The Sentinel pre-order and get yours mailed out the following business day. If hardbacks aren't your thing that's fine with me.The Sentinel is available for pre-order at most major retailers including Amazon, Ibooks, B&NSmashwords, and Kobo.  I would love to link the Ibooks page here as well, but Apple makes it crazy difficult to get anything done with them if you don't actually own an Apple device and have an account. So, since I don't have any Apple stuff Ibooks fans will just have to seek me out! Sorry! After my current Amazon contract is up I plan on migrating Rex Chase onto all of those channels as well. One of the things I've learned publishing my second book is how many tools are available for small authors/publishers like myself. One of those amazing tools is Smashwords. I can't say enough about the knowledge I've gleaned from them and I'm more than happy to recommend their platform. If you don't know a single thing about publishing in general it would be a wonderful place to get started. 

Last up on the agenda is a Goodreads giveaway I have going on right now. I have some copies of Ma'iitso Rises left over and you can sign up to win one HERE!

So, that's it for Newsletter #1! Head on over to www.timwheatbooks.com for more information or just hit me back up here any time. I answer all questions! 

Follow me on facebook. www.facebook.com/timwheatauthor

I don't tweet a lot, but you can find me here  @timwheatbooks

Don't forget!  I need Amazon and Goodreads reviews. It doesn't matter if you bought the book on Amazon or from me or wherever. If you have an account all you have to do is hop on there and leave me a review. It will only take a few minutes and you'll really be helping me out! 

Oh, if you don't have Rex Chase in ebook format already its only 99 cents this week on Amazon!

Pre-order The Sentinel from any of the selected retailers linked above.

Thanks a lot for all your support everyone. Have a great day!


Posted on September 17, 2014 .

Rain, rain, rain, sun, rain, rain, rain.

The Sentinel first edition hardbacks have started coming in.  Started coming in you say? It's a long story, but I ended up saving almost $1.50 a book by placing separate orders. The book company said it was a convenience fee to have them all shipped together.  I felt it was more convenient to save $, so the first box is here, and I've shipped out and started delivering the first fourteen. If you are sad that you missed out on the first editions you may be in luck.  Hardbacks ship in orders of fourteen, so, I'm going to have six extras that will be in this first run.  So, I have six signed first editions left... For now.

In more news.  The Sentinel is available for $6.99 digital pre-order everywhere!  Amazon, B&N, Ibooks, Smashwords, Kobo, and other online retailers. Everything is coming together really quickly and for the most part the process is smooth.  

In even more news.  To help promote the launch of The Sentinel, Rex Chase will be available for download on Amazon for a paltry $.99 for a week during the month of September.  So, if you haven't ever downloaded the book you can get it at a pretty steep discount September 12-19th. I really need to build up those reviews guys!

AND, in the final extra super triple octuple announcement I also have a Goodreads giveaway starting now through September 26th.  I'm giving away four paperback copies of Ma'iitso Rises that I have leftover.  Sign in to Goodreads.  Get an account.  Get a free book.  Leave me reviews!  Please!

Onto the blog!

I've been so busy with this whole book rollout thing, and setting up internet promotions, and doing the dishes, and cleaning the bathroom, and doing some laundry, and trying to figure out where the water is leaking in my basement at, and how I can make that not happen, and teaching a little school here and there, and still getting in some hours behind the bar, and noticing that I'm starting to get kinda chunky again so I need to watch what I eat a bit and maybe workout a little, and playing some metal drums because it makes me sweat a lot and gets my heart rate up all while making my brain work which passes the time a lot more quickly than other kinds of exercise, and then putting my kick beater through the kick drum head which caused me to have to go to the store and buy a new one which was more expensive than I thought it would be but it sounds great so that's good, and being more than a little perturbed that when I was in grade school and high school I'm pretty sure I never brought home a lick of homework, and I mean never, but now that I have kids in school they always bring home homework and some of it is for me, which sucks because the reason I got my work done at school when I was a kid was because I hated doing it at home and it turned out I was a relatively bright student, got a 31 on my ACT, and my parents didn't have to do any of my homework, or any of their own homework, which I would have brought home for them, although maybe they're just doing this to get me ready for college, or something, I'm not sure.  

Whew, that felt good.  I haven't busted out a great run-on like that in a long time. I'm pretty sure it's a fragment too.  That's one of the beauties of this blog.  Passive writing will be laid down by me if I feel like it. Quickly and beautifully typed, magnificently rendered adverbial phrases are fine too.  Was that two spaces between sentences?  Yep.  That's the way I was taught and I didn't even know it was TECHNICALLY wrong until not too long ago and that is one tough, tough habit to break.  I mean, I know this guy who used to be a heroin addict, and I suppose he still is, but he hasn't used in many, many, years, but even he can't stop putting two spaces behind a period at the end of a sentence.  

Where was I going with all this?  Oh yeah, I kind of forgot about doing a blog and as I mulled over ideas this morning, it hit me. People will understand being real busy and forgetting about something. Sometimes, before my boys wanted to ride the bus, my oldest would have a half day of school, and I'd forget, then be running to the car and flying to the school to pick him up, and it would be just him and sometimes another kid, but usually just him, and I was the only degenerate parent incapable of remembering half days. I'd feel bad for a second, and he would scold me, and then we'd go home. You know what else I'm bad about forgetting? Putting my shoes away when I get home. I walk in the door, take them off, and just leave them lying there. All I really need to do is open the closet doors right there like I make everyone else do, and kick my shoes off, but that thing is already pretty full anyway and I need my shoes out. At least that's what I'm going with. I also forget to floss a lot of the time. Well, that's not a complete truth. I almost always remember to floss, but for some reason I'll think about it, and not do it. I wonder why? I mean, it takes less than a minute, it's really good for my teeth and gums, and it's not like the cost of floss is prohibitive. Certainly not like the cost of making cheeseburgers. I'm thinking about sneaking a few cows into the reservoir behind my house.  There's plenty of grass back there that needs eaten and I could use a good source of cheap beef. We're almost exclusively a chicken family now, and it isn't that we can't afford the beef, it's kind of on principal. I mean, it wasn't that long ago you could get a pound of tube burger for ninety-nine cents on the reg.  Now you're lucky to get that garbage for $3.50 and in my old age I've gotten kind of fond of the butcher shop beef which has gone  from $4.00 to $5.50 in the last year. Maybe we've been over hunting cows? At least pumped up steroid chicken breasts can still be found for $1.60-$2.00 a pound fairly regularly. Speaking of cheap steroid chicken, my wife and I went on a grocery shopping trip last week, and we went with an actual plan, and we walked out of the store with an entire basket filled to overflowing with antibiotic steroid chicken ($1.69 lb), Totinos pizzas and eggrolls that the kids love (79 cents a piece), generic cheerios ($1.20 a BIG box), Prego spaghetti sauce (99 cents each), and a bunch of other stuff.  I mean the place didn't end up owing us money like those extreme couponers, but we felt pretty good about ourselves.

So, now here I sit, rain pouring down outside, which I don't mind because I planted a bunch of grass down on the farm last weekend, although I'm not sure it needs this much rain, but I'm sure it won't hurt, although it is kind of bad for my basement leak, but I need to fix that anyway, and where do we live anyway, Seattle, I mean usually I get to stop mowing my brown lawn in July and August, but not this year, trying to decide what I should do for a blog this week. Maybe I'll be able to decide by next week.

Summary:

1: Your extra super mega last chance at a first run signed hardcopy is virtually gone.  Make it happen today.

2:  The Sentinel is available for digital pre-order on Amazon, B&N, Ibooks, Kobo, Smashwords and the like.  Stay tuned for more info.

3:  Rex Chase will be available for $.99 download on September 12-19th.  If you don't have one, get one, and leave a review.  I need em.

Have a happy September 10th!

Posted on September 10, 2014 .

How was school?

The Sentinel first edition hardbacks have been ordered and if you were one of the initial group your signed, authenticated, and numbered copy will ship as soon as they are in my hands.  If you are sad that you missed out on the first editions you may be in luck.  Hardbacks ship in orders of fourteen, so, I'm going to have six extras that will be in that same run.  So, if last week was the last chance then this week is the double-secret-final-mega last chance.  At least for a signed first edition.  I'll sign any hardback/paperback after that as well.

In other news.  I was rejected by Bookbub. Bummer.  I really want to do a Bookbub promotion and if they ever accept me you'll hear all about it.  Until then, though, I'll probably keep most of the rejections to myself.  They can be a bit disconcerting.

In even more other news.  The Sentinel is available for pre-order on Amazon for $6.99 and will be available for pre-order soon on B&N, Ibooks, Smashwords, Kobo, and other online retailers. Everything is coming together really quickly and for the most part the process is smooth.  

In even double more other other news.  To help promote the launch of The Sentinel, Rex Chase will be available for download on Amazon for a paltry $.99 for a week during the month of September.  So, if you haven't ever downloaded the book you can get it at a pretty steep discount September 12-19th. I really need to build up those reviews guys!

AND, in the final extra super triple octuple announcement I also have a Goodreads giveaway starting now through September 26th.  I'm giving away five paperbacks.  Four are the final four copies of Ma'iitso Rises, and one is a new copy of the revised Rex Chase.  Sign in to Goodreads.  Get an account.  Get a free book.  Leave me reviews!  Please!

OK, enough news. Onto the blog!

I enjoy talking to and with my kids.  They usually don't annoy me, they often make me laugh, and even if they are going on and on about Beyblades metal masters I get a kick out of how excited they are. I know I've talked about them before, but I have two boys. My older one is in third grade now, is full of energy, and according to him, never learns anything in that supremely boring place called school.  My younger is in his first year of kindergarten, is also full of energy, and loves school and is willing to talk about it for as long as you'd like.

So, talking with my younger one about his day, is, so far, pretty simple. I can literally say, "How was your day?" and he'll go on and on.  I can't say I was fully prepared for that after dealing with the older one for years.  It's nice.  I can't just throw in a few.  "Man that sounds hard!" and "Whew, you got lucky there!" and "I can't believe she said that!" and I've learned everything there is to know about his day.

My third grader makes me work for it, though, and that's fine, because like I said before, I actually DO want to know how his day was.  Without prodding a conversation with him would go more like this.

Me: How was school today?

Kid: Fine.

Me: Did you learn anything?

Kid: No.

Me: What did you work on?

Kid: I don't remember.

Me: Did you get in any trouble?

Kid: Yes/No/Maybe. (This varies from day to day, although lately he's been staying out of trouble, but if he was in some kind of trouble.)

Me: What happened?

Kid: I don't remember.

So, those talks would get a little boring and repetitive. I started thinking of ways I could liven up the conversation and get him a little more into it, and trick him into telling me how his day was. On a side note, I also really enjoy tricking my boys.  One time I tricked them into tasting a dog biscuit by eating one of the biscuits myself first, except for one thing was different. I showed them a dog biscuit, palmed it, replaced it with an Oreo, and then told them I ate a dog biscuit.  Needless to say, they didn't enjoy the dog biscuit and thought I was disgusting, until I told them I really ate an Oreo, and then they were pretty mad at me, but I thought it was funny and, in the spirit of fairness ended up taking a bite of the dog biscuit. But, I digress.

My older boy needs more incentive to tell me how his day was, so our conversations usually go something more like this.

Me: How was school today?

Kid: Fine.

Me: Was there an alien landing or anything awesome like that?

Kid: Daaaaaaad. (In his most exasperated voice.)

Me: I'm serious. If an alien landed in your class today what would he have learned about?

Kid: First, there weren't any aliens, but we did talk about Abraham Lincoln.

Boom!  Then we're off and running about stuff he actually learned in school. Now, if I'm trying to learn about different aspects I ask different questions, but what works best with him is to assert something outrageous happened and then let him bring it back to earth.

Me: How was school today?

Kid:  Fine.

Me:  Did a herd of rhinos with monkeys riding them run down the hallway?

Kid: Daaaaad. (exasperated voice)

Me: No really, I heard a herd of rhinos ran through a school in Colorado.

Kid: That never happened.

Me: I'm pretty sure it did.  Anyway, did you play anything sweet at recess?

Kid: Yeah, we...

Then he ends up telling me all about his day.  Generally I throw in some more questions about who he played with, who his friends are, if anyone was mean to him, if he was mean to anyone else, if he was the teacher what would make class more fun,  if he could play Beyblade metal masters with just one person at school who would it be, etc. etc.  What used to be a ten second conversation is now as long as I have time for it to be, and generally I have a pretty decent idea of what is going on with him.  Now, don't get me wrong, I still find out about some things later that I didn't know, but that's just kind of part of the deal. Trust me, right now if I form any question into a Beyblade question I'll find out what I need to know.  That kid loves those things.

So, to conclude.  I like talking to my kids about their day and am genuinely interested in getting a response other than "fine" or "boring".  For now, they are still young and getting them to talk with me is as simple as relating it to Beyblades, spaceships, or a herd of rhinos.  Maybe that won't work when they're teenagers, but I'll have to jump that hurdle when I get there, and trust me, I'm not in a hurry. 

Summary:

1: Your extra super mega last chance at a first run signed hardcopy is virtually gone.  Make it happen today.

2:  The Sentinel is available for digital pre-order on Amazon and will soon follow on B&N, Ibooks, Kobo, Smashwords and the like.  Stay tuned for more info.

3:  Rex Chase will be available for $.99 download on September 12-19th.  If you don't have one, get one, and leave a review.  I need em.

4:  Oh yeah, I got rejected by Bookbub.  That one kind of sucks though.  You can forget about it.

Have a happy September 3rd!

Posted on September 3, 2014 .

Last Chance!

This week's blog is dedicated strictly to the roll out of The Sentinel.  This will be your last week to pre-order, and remember I'm only ordering hardbacks for those who have gone to the Shop section of the the site and put their order in.  After that, you'll still be able to buy a hardback, it just won't be the first edition.   So, order yours today and get it on or before the September 26th release date.

More exciting things are going on in the world of promotion as well.  I'll be doing a number of different things in the weeks leading up to the September 26th release.  I plan on doing an Ereader News Today spot along with Pixel of Ink, Kindle Nation Daily, and World Literary Cafe.  I'm hoping to get a spot on Bookbub as well, but we'll have to see about that.  Anyway, a lot of this publicity will focus on Rex Chase, with an eye toward The Sentinel's release.  It's all very cool and it will be happening the week of the 26th.  So, for now, head on over to the Shop section and get your advance order.  I'm thinking I should be able to ship them out a little early, plus when you pre-order you get a pdf copy of the book right away.  Alright, thanks for reading guys.  Have a great day!


Posted on August 27, 2014 .

Cut the cord

First, I'd like to thank those of you who purchased a book or an album in the last week, I'm glad to help Luna and her family even if it wasn't exactly a windfall.  So, again, thank-you all.  Second, The Sentinel pre-orders continue!  Remember, the only way you're going to get a signed first edition is if you pre-order here through the site.  I'm only going to be be ordering the first batch in that limited number of books, and then will order what I need after that.  The second round will still be signed, it just won't be a numbered first edition.  So, order yours today!  Man, that was a lot of ordering. Anyway, you don't want to be kicking yourself in thirty years when the numbered first editions are worth 100k a piece and the following versions are only worth 10k. Third, ONTO THE BLOG!

We did it. My family and I. We cut the cord. No more cable television in this house. Don't get me wrong, we still have internet, but not having a zillion channels I don't actually need has had very little impact so far. I went to Wal-mart and bought a couple of those little vhf/uhf over the air antennas for three bucks a piece and boom, it was like being transformed back to 1997.  That's the last year I ever spent without having cable television. Its kind of neat really. I find myself watching the local news.  We've watched Jeopardy.  Jimmy Fallon still flies through the air in brilliant HD and plants himself on my television.  We have 2 ABC's, 1 NBC, 2 CBS's, 2 FOX's, 3 PBS's, and 2 MY 59's.  So I should be able to watch the Bears still, which is good.  Its been pretty sweet, until I want to watch some baseball. 

59 carries a few Cubs games a year, but I'm kind of used to watching 70% or more of the games. When the Cubbies aren't on I usually watch the Cards.  That number will go down to almost zero. So, I started looking into online alternatives. I know the mlb.tv premium app gets great reviews, but it isn't going to get them from me. For the last forty games or so of the season here they wanted $50. The whole season costs $110. Hmmmmmm. Maybe MLB doesn't really know how to do math? I guess maybe they want to punish me for not getting the app earlier in the year, but that doesn't make much sense.  Anyway I start looking into what I get for my $50 and the answer is a lot, except for Cubs/Cards/and White Sox. I get zero of those. Well, at least as far as streaming TV goes. I can listen to their radio broadcasts on my smartphone, but that seems a bit silly because I also have this device that receives radio broadcasts for the Cubs/Cards/White Sox. Maybe you've heard of it. Its called a radio. They've been around awhile.

So, I'm a bit annoyed and I start to read about possible ways around the blackout and there is one pretty simple way using a proxy server. That would have been a viable alternative a couple of years ago, but the Supreme Court in 2013 said that using a proxy to get around blackouts is illegal. Bummer. So, I spent a little time reading about the courts decision and why they ruled the way they did, and it makes sense. WGN, or Fox, or whoever pays a lot of money to have exclusive rights in a territory and since they are in bed with the cable companies it is mandatory that I subscribe to the cluster of channels only showing paid-programming all day long, or killing sharks, or housewives behaving badly, or teenagers acting like brats, etc. etc. I just want to watch baseball though. So, I came up with a plan.

The Cubs tv contract is up pretty soon. I say they start their own channel, and make it a subscription site. Charge people whatever needs to be charged AND show them commercials, and pocket all the money. Maybe this goes against their mlb.tv contract. I'm sure that it does, but what are they going to do, kick the Cubs out of mlb? Nope. I suppose cable providers like Comcast would be mad and maybe throttle subscribers internet speeds back or something, but then Ricketts could just burn Comcast down. I doubt anyone would miss them, and he's rich anyway so he'd probably get away with it too. 

Oooh, I have another idea that doesn't involve burning down Comcast. Maybe the Cubs could sign their next TV deal with Netflix. That would be awesome for me because I already have Netflix, and it would be awesome for the Cubs because Netflix already has 50 million customers. Netflix raises the price by $1, splits it with the Cubbies and both groups make $25 million a month, unless they add a few customers just because the Cubbies are on there, then they make even more money! Man, I hope the powers that be are reading this.

If that doesn't work I may be up on my roof trying to install an antenna that can get WGN down from Chicago, but even WGN broadcasts have a chance of going away pretty soon. 

You know what, though. I like Pat Hughes and as I sit here listening to him call the game on my old fashioned radio it occurs to me that the kids and I sat around tonight, listened to the radio, did homework, folded clothes, practiced reading, played the guitar, made up silly songs, and did it all with the TV off. Maybe we'll survive in this post cable world.

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!


Posted on August 20, 2014 .

Wanna help a friend?

I have friends, and there is a decent chance they are your friends as well, who could use some help.  Their daughter, Luna, was diagnosed in utero with down's syndrome and atrioventricular canal defect.  What that means is that her tiny heart formed without ventricular walls which allowed oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to get all mashed up together, delivering an improper amount of oxygen to the blood cells that need it.  It is fixable, and thankfully on July 10th Luna's surgery went well and her heart defect fixed.  As any of you parents can understand this was a trying time for the family.  They missed a lot of work to care for their daughter and I can't even fathom the emotional toll.

 I tried to embed a facebook video here, but squarespace won't let me, which is annoying.  You can check out the video I wished to embed and meet Dan, Jessica, Lyla, and Luna right here. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152254381211752

Anyway, Dutch Bros. Coffee of Colorado Springs is having a day for Luna and her family and donating $2 from every coffee sold.  I was inspired by Dutch Bros. coffee's generosity to my friends and since we don't have those in Illinois, I decided maybe I could use this week's blog in a similar manner.

So, what I'm going to do is place Rex Chase: A Novel, and all of my previous music albums right here for digital download.  They are $6.99 a piece and $5 from every sale goes to Luna and her family.  I'll leave the links active for the week, so tell all your friends, get a book or some music and help a beautiful little girl and her family.  Thanks!

Pre-orders for The Sentinel continue in the shop section.  If you order the hardback you get an instant PDF download of the book!

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

Posted on August 13, 2014 .

The Sentinel: September 26th, 2014

ANNOUNCEMENT:

The Sentinel comes out September 26th, 2014.  I am doing the hardback rollout a little bit different than I did the last book.  How I'm going to do it this time is I will take orders here on the website, or in person, or however for the next month or so.  The best way will be to head to the Shop section of the site, click on the link, pay for the hardback, and then you're on the order list.  I'm only going to order, number, sign, and authenticate the hardbacks that are pre-ordered as first editions and I will do it in the order they are received.  So, for example, if just four people pre-order the book, then I will only order four, and that will be the only first-editions out there.  Obviously that would be great for those four people someday when they'll be worth gazillions.  After that it'll be all 2nd edition hardbacks, paperbacks and digital.  

Speaking of digital.  If you buy one of the hardbacks you get a free digital pdf.  Speaking of digital pdf's.  You can head to the Books section of the site right now and download a free 100 pages of The Sentinel. 

As you can see, this week's blog is all about the books.  Rex Chase:  A Novel is completed.  You can buy it CHEAP right now on Amazon or through the Shop section of the site.  The story hasn't changed, but the delivery has a bit.  First, I learned that using a lot of adverbs is bad, and guess what, Ma'iitso had over 2000 of them.

"The boy clumsily walked down the eerily lit path."

"The boy stumbled along the dark and eerie walkway."

That's an example of the type of sentence I may have had floating around in some of my work and then how we went back, identified the adverbs, picked new adjectives and got everything modifying the nouns.  2000 times.  Yeah, it took a few minutes.

Then, it turned out that I also have a penchance for passive writing.  I knew that I used a fair amount of passive in my work, I just didn't realize how big of a no, no that was.  For example I would use a sentence like this:

"The bad guy was punched in the face by Rex Chase."

I don't think I actually used any passive that sounded quite that bad, but its easier to illustrate.  Here is how I reworked sentences like that, more than six-hundred times.

"Rex Chase punched the bad guy in the face."

Bam.  Active sentence.  Sounds way better right?  Well, other than the name and cover change, that's the main difference between Ma'iitso Rises and Rex Chase: A Novel.  Alright, what's next.

Oh yeah.  Dangling participles.  I understand them when I see them as an example on a webpage, or when my mom says them.  I am 100% unable to find them inside of a full novel.  It's like my brain just skips right over the top of them.  Luckily, I know smart people, they helped me a lot, and it turns out I didn't have too many in my book.  Great!

So, that concludes the Redux of Ma'iitso Rises hereto forever known as Rex Chase.  

Next on the list.  I had to go back and do a whole lot of those changes to The Sentinel, especially the adverbs.  For some reason I just love them when I'm writing along.  

So, that's what I've been doing instead of thinking real hard about blogs.  Oh yeah, I also built these animated Gif's and they actually work.  Sweet

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

Donate
Posted on August 6, 2014 .

Nope, I still don't beat my wife.

I'm going to write a little bit today about something I think is dumb.  Beating up women.  I think it is worse than smoking marijuana.  I think it is worse than taking hgh to make yourself hit more home runs.  I think it is worse than saying mean things to or about other people.  You know who doesn't agree with me?  The NFL, MLB, and NBA, and the proof is in the pudding.

I'll start with the NFL.  It seems that in 2014, fifteen guys have been suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy.  Good for the the NFL.  Drugs are bad mmmkay?  Most of those suspensions are a mandatory four games, two are for six games, one is for a whole season, and two more are indefinite.  So, the total number of years players have been suspended in 2014 for taking ped's or flunking a drug test (oftentimes for marijuana which happens to actually be legal in some states)  =  An infinite number of games.  

That's harsh penalties and I assume most of it is deservedly so.

Next up in the NFL.  Saying mean things.

Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer allegedly said some pretty bad/homophobic stuff to their kicker and there was an investigation, and though it hasn't been to actual court yet, the NFL handed down a 3 game suspension.  I agree with this.  When you're the boss you help to create the workplace environment and what he is accused of saying was wrong.

Third for the NFL:  Punching your soon to be wife into unconciousness and dragging her by the hair from an elevator and it is caught on tape.

Ray Rice did this.  He admitted to it.  (Probably because it is on tape)  He's being punished in a court of law.   2 game suspension.

Two games?  For real?  So if he would have gone on a homophobic rant just beforehand would he have gotten just the stiffer three game suspension or do you think they would have added up the two and given him five?  Like I said before, I'm fine with the 3 game suspension for the Vikings coach, but he would have been better off punching his wife in the face, maybe even dropping her down a flight of stairs.  Better yet, I wonder how many games a player would get if he punched his pregnant wife in the belly?  Yeah, child abuse and woman beating wrapped into one.  That's gotta be worth a big suspension.  Oh wait, that's happened before?  Yep, but it was in MLB...

Flash back to January of 2000.  It's cold, or hot, depending on where you are on this planet, but I know where Pedro Astacio was.  He was beating the crap out of his pregnant wife.  Suspension?  Zero games.  He started on opening day for the Rockies.

Josh Luecke, a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays rapes a woman, pleads it down to sexual assault and false imprisonment, (if you falsely imprison someone and then sexually assault them I guess it isn't rape?)  then does 42 days in jail.  Suspension?  Zero games.

The list goes on and on in MLB, but now I need to get to the real crimes.  Yeah, the ones way worse than beating pregnant women and raping.

Pete Rose:  Banned for life.  Gambling on games and being a pompous jerk.  Yep, those are horrible.

Alex Rodriguez:  Suspended for an entire season.  Took some PED's.  Lied about it.  Tried not to get caught.  People don't like him much.  Pretty terrible stuff.

Ryan Braughn:  Suspended 65 games for taking PEDs.  He lied and lied about it too, tried to cover it up, slandered other people, and then even beat the rap, but then he got busted and cried and cried, so they only gave him the 65 games instead of a season like A Rod.

OK, so the list goes on and on here too.  These guys are jerks and cheaters and through my use of simple math based on suspensions they are infinitely worse people than the guys who punched their pregnant wives and got all rapey that one night.  You know, boys will be boys.  (Just wanna make sure everyone sees the sarcasm there in that last statement.)

NBA:

Jason Kidd:  He got a dui.  Those are bad.  Don't drive drunk.  2 game suspension.   He punched his wife in the face, got arrested for it, everyone pretty much admitted it.  ZERO game suspension.  

Ron Artest:  Wait a minute.  Ron Artest plead guilty to a domestic violence charge and got a 7 game suspension.  WOW!  Seven games!  That's great!  I mean it's the same amount of time he got for elbowing James Harden during a game and 79 games fewer than he got for running up in the stands after that guy threw a cup of ice on him when he was laying on the scorers table and 59 games less than Latrell Sprewell got for choking P.J. Carlissimo at practice (Sprewell made the egregious mistake of assaulting another man.  Tisk. Tisk. Latrell), and 4 games less than Rodman got for kicking that cameraman (should have said you thought he was a girl Dennis.)  etc. etc.

And then there is Donald Sterling.  He said stupid hateful stuff.  He got caught.  He's a bad guy and he's paying the price by being given two billion dollars.  Er, I mean, he's banned from the league.  OK, never mind, being given two billion dollars for your team that was estimated to be worth 600-800 million when this whole thing started is not a punishment, so I guess he's smelling like roses now too, although I guess people don't like him much.  I could probably deal with it for a couple of billion.

 So, to wrap it up.  If you want to run afoul of the commissioner in any of the three major sports you want to do it by beating on women.  Smoking weed, driving too fast, choking your head coach, taking peds, calling people bad names, and even criticizing the officials (I forgot to mention that people get fined for criticizing officiating all of the time, which is more than the zero punishments most get for beating their wives/girlfriends) All of those things are considered worse by the sports' collective commisioners.  They wouldn't say that to your face, but I haven't heard from Roger Goodell in the last few days talking about how proud he is of the stand they took on Ray Rice knocking his wife unconcious and dragging her out of an elevator by her hair.  Wait, I suppose that's probably because he isn't proud and sends other lemmings out to take the fall for what is ultimately his decision.  Well played mister Goodell, but I don't think I'm sold.  I guess I'll just sit here still not beating my wife.

 

So ends the blog for today.  Next week I'll talk a little about the re-issue of my first novel Rex Chase, and the impending September release of The Sentinel.  Have a happy hump day everyone!

 

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

Posted on July 30, 2014 .

The NSA ate my blog

You know what I hate?  Well, I won't say hate because my mom says I shouldn't hate things, and technically I don't hate what I'm about to say here.  Alright, let me try again.  You know what I very much dislike?  I dislike when I get online to read my news and the author of an article has sited tweets all throughout his/her article and instead of actually writing the article they just stick those tweets in there willy nilly and then call it reporting.  I'm sure you've seen it before, but it looks something like this.

 

And, I just worked on this for an hour and a half, saved my work numerous times, and then everything after the lead paragraph just disappeared.  Maybe I offended someone in the NSA or something with my fake news stories.  I would write another one, but the first was just so good and now I have to get going.  So, shortest blog ever, maybe I'll do another tomorrow or something to make up for it.  I actually have a ticket sent into squarespace, so perhaps they'll find it floating around on their servers somewhere and get it back up for me.  For now, though, I blame it on government conspiracy.

Have a great day everyone!


Posted on July 23, 2014 .

Never duplicated.

So, I sat down to write the blog this week and I had a few things to write about.  I started one about the baseball All-Star game and how the home run derby was way better when they were all on steroids.  I thought about another that had to do with our family fishing trip we took yesterday that yielded four small bluegill, but a lot of fun time spent together.  I thought of a third that had to do with our family trips to the dentist, which are not nearly as much fun as fishing.  While I was doing all of this thinking I decided to watch some youtube videos of some music stuff and I learned a few things.  

The first thing I learned is that even though I feel like I'm a competent musician, I actually suck.  I watched a group of twelve year old kids absolutely dominate some really technical metal arrangements.  I then watched some other little kids play the drums, guitar, bass, and piano at a level I certainly haven't attained.  Then, the little twelve year old band played a cover of a Slipknot song with Corey Taylor, and it sounded just like Slipknot.  That led me to watching some live Corey Taylor stuff, which turned into an entire live Corey Taylor acoustic show, which was very good.  During his show, though, he played some Alice In Chains and I decided to watch some AIC youtube videos and at the top of the list was Alice In Chains MTV Unplugged from 1996.  That was the year I graduated high school.

So, I start watching this video and remembering their brilliance.  They are, without a doubt, my favorite 90's band.  They weren't then.  I was a gigantic Pearl Jam fan, but PJ has lost its luster a bit with me over the years.  I still love their first five albums, but after that I'm not a huge fan.  I don't love them just for the sake of loving them.  Anyway, I digress.  I'm watching this Alice In Chains video and it reminds me of something.  We don't necessarily all have to be masters of our instruments.  It doesn't matter if you can't shred like Steve Vai.  That isn't to say that AIC aren't good musicians, because they are, but I doubt Jerry Cantrell would put himself on the same technical level as say, Eddie Van Halen.  I guess I don't know him personally, but somehow I doubt it.  

So, as I sat here I went from wishing I could play as well as these little kids to learning a lesson from Alice In Chains.  Whether you write music, poetry, books, groom dogs, cut hair, fix teeth, mow yards, wait tables, engineer sky scrapers, or pick up garbage, if you do it with all your heart and soul, then you've achieved something special.  I sat and watched that whole video and it is really too bad Layne Staley couldn't drag himself from the clutches of heroin.  That voice, whether you care for it or not, is distinctive, melodic, and amazing.  I've seen plenty of bands cover AIC and even AIC has a new singer, but Staley just can't be duplicated.  So, I guess that's all the point is here today.  Layne Staley can't be duplicated.  I can't be duplicated.  You can't be duplicated. and I think that is awesome.  If you've never seen the video of which I speak I'm going to link it right here.  This was a tight, tight, tight, band and I suppose they still are, just a man short.


Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

Donate
Posted on July 16, 2014 .

The Server Dream

I have big news to start today's blog.  I have settled on Rex Chase:  A Novel, as the replacement name for Ma'iitso Rises.  I have reasons for choosing the name, and they are based on science.  Kind of like astrology.  Anyway, the really cool part is that I hired a new cover to be done and it is awesome!  The bad part is that it makes me not like my cover for The Sentinel.  So, check it out.

After hours of scouring the online databases of covers I came across this one, and although there were a few things wrong with it, like the gas mask, and the hooded jacket, I came to a conclusion.  I love it.  It won't take much to include these oddities into my story, so I'll fix it.  Problem solved.  Anyway, whatya think?  ONTO THE BLOG!

I've written before about the frequency and vividness of my dreams.  The one I had last night was a doozy.  

I've spent many years behind a bar and running around a restaurant, and in that time it has been very rare that I get inundated in work to a point where I'm hopeless.  Number 1, I can handle a lot of work.  Number 2, if I were about to be dying in the weeds, I'll ask for help.  Number 3, most restaurants don't want any one person getting that busy anyway. 

I was working at Jumer's, and if you remember that place it had an upstairs room called The Reagensburg.  I'm up there by myself, and it isn't busy when Joslyn Livengood walks in with some dude and sits in one of the booths.  The strange thing about that is: 1.  I didn't know the guy, and 2.  She was eighteen years old.  Then, with all consciousness, in my dream, I realize that I'm twenty years old, which would make sense since that's how old I was when I worked at Jumer's.  So, we made some chit chat about how nice it was to see each other and in the meantime a few more tables come up to the room and sit down and I get drink orders.

At this point I have five tables and I'm looking around for my busser, because at Jumer's that room would have its own busser who would bring water and bread/cinnamon rolls to the table.  I don't see one, so I make my way down the steps to see what servers I'm sharing the room with.  When I get downstairs I'm shocked to see Natasha Farmer is my manager.  This makes no sense because she didn't manage at Jumer's, just at Chilis.  That doesn't matter, though, so I ask her about my busser and other servers and she tells me that not only do I have the room to myself, but that there is no bartender and she needs me to cover that as well as pick up an eight top on the main floor.  She asks if I can handle that, and I say no, in large part because the bar, the eight top, and my original five tables are all in seperate rooms, far, far, away from one another.  Tasha gets mad at me and tells me to greet the eight top.  I get mad back, throw a little lip her way, and start to ring in my drinks.  

Uh oh.  The computer is a Sable point of sale system.  I don't remember how to run that system, and it makes no sense for it to be at Jumer's because they had Micros.  I decide that it doesn't matter since I have to make my own drinks anyway, and go out to greet the eight top.  I get to the eight top and nobody knows what they want to drink, a busser hasn't been there with water and they want cinnamon rolls RIGHT NOW.  Meanwhile I can see the hostess taking more tables upstairs, where I haven't been for a few minutes.  The eight top is asking me question after question about the drink menu, and I can't remember any of it.  Since I'm an experienced server, though, I'm making up stuff that sounds feasible with the idea that I'm making the drinks anyway, I'll just do it the way I want.  So, after five minutes stuck at this table I have their drink orders and I sprint up the stairs back to the Reagensburg where my original five tables still don't have water, bread/cinnamon rolls, and I haven't even run over to the Balkon lounge to make their drinks yet.  My plan is to just cruise past the tables, explain that some degenerates didn't come to work, get food orders, then go make drinks for everyone.

When I get up there, the room is full.  All 20 tables are sat.  My heart sinks.

I grab Joslyn and put her to work.  She's awesome, and after I show her where the water and bread station is, along with my instructions to tell every table that we had some people not show up to work and I'll be around as soon as possible, I run from the Reagensburg into the Balkon lounge.  I can still do this.  I'll just treat the Reag like a sixty top, ignore the bar (except for my own drinks), and hit that eight top downstairs when I'm running for food.  No problem.

I get into the Balkon Bar and Natasha is behind the bar, and it is a train wreck.  Dirty glasses are everywhere, and as I start to try to make drinks, every glass I pull from the rack is filthy.  Like covered in mud filthy.  Then Tasha comes over and we have a conversation.

"Do you mind greeting that couple at the bar while you're here?"  She said.

"Greet them yourself, I have a full Reag and an eight top downstairs.  Why are all the glasses so filthy?"

"Dish machine is broke."

"I don't have time for this Tash.  Who's washing dishes then?"

"Servers are just bringing them up here for the bartender to wash."

"And thats me?"

"Yep."

"Where is the dishwasher?

"Since the machine is broke I sent him home."

"You did what?  How am I supposed to do all this?  I had to pull one of my friends from a table and put her to work.  I'm not taking that downstairs eight top, and I don't know how to use the Sable."  I toss her my list of drinks to ring in.

"I don't know how to use the Sable either.  You really aren't going to take the eight top or this couple at the bar?  I thought you liked making money?"

"You're stupid."

I finish washing the glasses I need for the original five tables, bang out a bunch more so that when I get more orders I'll have glasses, make the drinks I need while Tash makes chit-chat with the couple at the bar, empty the filthy dish sinks, and then bolt from the room.  Its been almost fifteen minutes since I first greeted my original five tables and the others have been there 5-10 minutes without being greeted.  Both are eternities in the world of serving and I can see that people are getting grumpy, especially the guy that came with Joslyn.  So, this dude stands up, comes over to me and says.

"I know you guys are friends and all, but I didn't come here to watch her work.  I came for a nice relaxing dinner.  We're leaving."

He grabs Josie by the arm and tells her they're leaving, but she says she wants to stay and help me.  Then the guy gets all mad and pushes her down.  Then I knock him out, spilling the drinks I just made.

I look up, and its like nobody else in the room was even watching.  This dude is lying on the floor, my right hand hurts, and I'm back to square one with the drinks.  An overwhelming feeling of helplessness goes through me and I look to the floor below where the eight top is now complaining to Natasha, and I assume its about me not being there, them not getting cinnamon rolls, and me spilling drinks over the balcony.  

A man stands up, breaking my pity party and asks me if they are going to get service any time today.  I go back into damage mode, ask Josie if she'll get drink orders and bring them to me, then go back to the Balkon Bar.  When I get there Tasha is there and we have another conversation.

"Why didn't you get them cinnamon rolls?"

"That's a busser's job and I don't have time."

"Well, everyone is trying to help out around here and it just seems like you're looking out for yourself."

At that moment I look around the bar and notice that all of my clean glasses are gone.

"Where did all my glasses I just cleaned go?"

"Other servers needed glasses so I let them take those.  They didn't have time to wash more."

I'm so mad at this point I can't stand it and storm from the room.  When I get into the Reag two tables are angry and asking to see a manager, and the guy I knocked out is waking up and threatening to call the cops.  I just stand there and watch as Josie walks up to me, a big cheesy grin on her face and hands me a piece of paper.  On it are sixty mixed drinks that I need to make.

Then I woke up.  I've had dreams like this several times, and they almost always end with me storming out of the restaurant, but this one ended in helplessness, which, I'll say, is much less satisfying.  Usually, though, I don't get to knock anyone out, so that part was pretty cool.  Anyway, thanks for the help Josie.  Thanks for nothing Natasha. (Disclaimer:  Natasha would have helped me in real life.)  Have a happy hump day everyone!

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

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Posted on July 9, 2014 .

It's not that I don't like soccer. It's that I hate being bored.

Look what I have!  No, not a beater, I have a bunch of those.  No, not the epic, completely not strategic board game Battleship.  It's proof copies of The Sentinel!  They are in and I'm slaving away to finish the editing portion.  It's a process, but I'm on schedule.  If you haven't already heard, Ma'iitso Rises is going to receive a bit of a facelift, which includes a name change and new cover.  I'm leaning toward Rex Chase:  An Adventure for the new title, but would love to hear of any others people might have.  Whatya think?  On to the blog!


World Cup time is here again, and every four years I have to explain to people why I think soccer is boring.  I should be thankful that they don't do it every year, but for some reason I'm not.  Like I said in the title.  It's not that I don't like soccer.  It's that I hate being bored.

I read an article the other day in some fancy nationwide publication where a very articulate writer listed the "soccer is boring" excuse as the lamest excuse of all.  He went on to say that soccer has one of the highest rates of actual game time and American football really only plays about thirteen minutes a game or something.  I don't really remember, because thinking about a bunch of dudes running back and forth playing keep away while quasi fighting over a ball and simultaneously pretending to be hurt by one another in order to get the other guy in trouble kind of reminded me of my kids and how much I dislike it when they fake being hurt just to maybe get the other person in trouble, whch in turn caused me to almost fall asleep during the article.  At least in Football they ARE actually trying to hurt each other, even if they say they aren't.  

Yeah, I don't like tattle-tailing.  Is that how you spell that?  Tattle-tailing.  Tattle-taleing, Tattle-taling.  Is it like you have a tail or like you're telling a tale?  I would lean toward tattling a tale about another's transgressions, but that looks dumb whereas if it's like you're going to grow a tail if you tattle too much, weird Pinocchio style,  I get a more satisfying spelling.  Tattle-tailing.  Huh.  

Anyway, is that a good reason to be bored by soccer?  I don't know, but I saw a guy in one match not get tripped, pretend to be tripped to try to get a foul, bring another guy down with him, not get hit in the face with an elbow, then try to get the other guy in trouble for the elbow by rolling on the ground and holding his face for almost ten minutes.  It sucked, he didn't get in trouble for it, and was supremely boring.  Do NBA players flop?  Yep, but I don't love the NBA either and one of the big reasons is because of 6'8" 280 pound guys flopping to the ground when a 6'3" 210 pound guy breathes on them.  

Its not that I don't respect what a great soccer player can do either.  I mean, who can juggle balls better than soccer players?  Well, I guess jugglers can.  And seals.  They can balance those suckers right on their noses.  Other than that?   I guess I've known a few...  Never mind.

OK, so there are better ball jugglers.  Who can run farther, faster than soccer players?  Oh yeah, I guess probably every marathon guy can.  Probably lots of marathon girls too.  Maybe we should all start skipping work to watch marathons?  They only average about 2.6 goals less per game.

So, now I'll address the action and scoring issues.  Yes, the ball is in play an awful lot in soccer, and yes, sports like baseball and football, when it comes to brass tax, don't really outscore them all that much.  So why does soccer bore me so?  Easy, because not only do they not score much in soccer, but the opportunity to score almost never exists.  In baseball, an opportunity to hit a bomb exists on every pitch.  In football, the opportunity to break it for a touchdown exists on every play.  Most of soccer is spent jockeying for position well out of range of the goal and they have gotten really good at keeping it in the middle of the field.  If you're REALLY lucky there will be fifty scoring opportunities in a soccer game and almost none of those will actually get put on goal, whereas football will give you 140 and baseball well over 200.  Hockey has a similar problem except for that those guys beat the heck out of each other, slamming each other into walls, taking each other out in the middle of the ice, getting hit with pucks flying 100mph...  And do they flop and whine?  Nope, if they don't like what the other guy did they spit out their loose tooth, tuck in their broken thumb and punch him in the face.  That's what I'm talking about.  

The world was apparently impressed by the American team's 1-2-1 showing on the World cup stage.  That's a 25% win rate.  Is that good in soccer?  Is it like a baseball batting average?  I wonder if U.S. baseball would get the same adulation even if they all played with their opposite hands?   Anyway, If the U.S. soccer dudes showed up at my doorstep I'd for sure give them a "job well done" handshake coupled with a "you'll get em next time" pat on the back with a final, "nice work getting out of Brazil without being decapitated, those dudes take their soccer way too seriously sometimes" celibratory shot, and I'd hope that it would piss them off, because if I were a soccer player, no matter how hard I tried, losing more games than you win sucks.  I don't even like to lose at Monopoly and nobody makes you run 8 miles to do that.

Anyway, the whole point to this blog was that I'd prefer average Americans to just declare their love for soccer for what it is.  A reason to get together with your friends and get hammered drunk.  Bar business all across the nation skyrocketed and attendance to work was down on U.S. World Cup game days.  Weird, the same thing happens on St. Patrick's Day, the day after St. Patrick's day, the Super Bowl, the day after the Super Bowl, etc.  Don't get me wrong, I love my country, and I love St. Patrick's day, and the Super Bowl, wait, I almost lost myself there.  Oh yeah, I love my country, and I support our soccer team, just not by watching it on tv, or pretending like I've always loved it, or telling stories about when I played soccer when I was 8, or by getting real drunk, or by skipping work.  It's like the NFL draft.  (Which a lot of people like to waste a portion of their life on.)   I don't need to watch it.  Just the highlights please.  

I get it though.  Everyone loves an underdog, especially one that plays its heart out and I commend the U.S. soccer team for that.  I wouldn't even want to run up and down the field once, or even just up it for that matter and when I think about what it would take for me to pull off one of those bicycle kicks, well, it would take a time machine.

So, for all you soccer fans out there who are for real, honest to goodness soccer fans.  Fans who actually know a player or two in the MLS, or even one of the team's names, or maybe even have a jersey, went to a game, or can name a foreign team other than Man U, then this blog wasn't for you.  

I'm talking to the guy who is hammered drunk, has never heard of Landon Donovan, is appalled I don't know who Ronoldo is married to, doesn't know what extra time is, can't explain offsides, and thinks they're talking about the Olympic Sport every time they say handball.  You like to get drunk, which makes watching things a lot more fun, even soccer.


P.S.  This is satire.  In case you couldn't tell and are offended.  I don't want letters.  I could probably write one of these about every sport.  Maybe I will.  If I were to watch soccer I'd wanna do it like these guys

Stay tuned and have a great day!

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

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Posted on July 2, 2014 .

Katsuo Takahiro

Get excited ladies and gents because The Sentinel is written, has made it through the initial editing phase, and proof copies are on their way to my house.  We are currently on track for a September release as I dump a little cash into the advertising budget and try to drum up a little blog interest and whatnot.  Check out the first rendition of the cover!  I'll reveal this one this week, and another one next week.

So, there's the cover reveal.  What does everyone think?  Drop me a line or leave me a comment!  Everyone who leaves a comment of any kind, good or bad gets put in a drawing for an advance copy!  Next week I plan on revealing a second cover, done by an honest to goodness professional, hopefully, fingers crossed, and we'll vote on which is better.  So, here comes a little tease from the book.  Meet Katsuo Takahiro!

 

Katsuo Takahiro

White foam swirled in the wake of the 1929 Chris Craft Cadet.  The eighty-two horsepower Chrysler power plant throatily idled as the watercraft’s pilot expertly guided the vessel through the icy waters.  Katsuo Takahiro took notice of the steam emanating from the smaller craft he was pulling alongside.  It seemed another man had braved the St. Charles that evening.

He brought the twenty-two foot craft to a stop and neatly leapt the small gap to the pier.  As he hurriedly tied a bowline the stocky Japanese man remembered a lifetime ago when his father had taught him the knot.  Days had been so much simpler then.

With the boat secure Katsuo retrieved a pack of Lucky Strikes from his rain coat.  Cigarettes were one thing the Americans could really do right.  He adroitly flicked a windproof Zippo lighter; illuminating his weathered and scarred face, and inhaled deeply, allowing himself to reminisce.

The water had been his home for as long as he could remember.  His mother had once shown him a picture of himself as a toddler and his father on the docks in Yokohama, Japan’s largest port.  By the time he had turned five years old he was making daily trips to sea, and by the age of ten he had been skilled enough to captain his own boat.  Nearly fifty years had passed since those good times.

Katsuo snapped from his reverie as a luxury vehicle came to a stop in the parking lot ahead of him, its brakes squeaking slightly.  He breathed deep the flavorful smoke before allowing himself to return to his daydream.

Life had been good for the young Takahiro family.  By 1904 their number had grown to eleven and the fishing had been superior.  He remembered well the day his father had sat him down and instructed him to continue the family business.  Even more ingrained in his mind, though, was the sound of his mother’s cries only a few months later.

His father’s death in the Russo-Japanese war had publicly brought the family great honor.  Privately, though, Katsuo and his mother had loathed the Japanese military.  Its influence seemed to be permeating every walk of life, and the family attempted to steer clear of its control.

Over the course of the next eighteen years Katsuo worked from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year, to provide for the family.  He had shunned all advances from would be girlfriends to start a family of his own.  His brothers and sisters hadn’t all agreed with the way he ran things, but none of them starved, and none of them had to sleep in the streets. 

September 1, 1923 was a day he would never forget.  Yasuhiro Takahiro, his youngest brother, had joined Katsuo in the family business at the age of five, and hadn’t missed a single day’s work in thirteen years.  He was the pride of the entire family, and though that day had been his eighteenth birthday, it had begun like every other.

Katsuo and Yasuhiro had woken up before the sun had risen, kissed their mother goodbye, and driven to the docks.  That time of year the fishing grounds were often four to five hours out to sea.  They were planning on staying a few days until their holds were full, but the elder Takahiro had something different in mind. 

They had been making way for nearly two hours when strange noises began emanating from the engine compartment.  Katsuo was the mechanic of the two and upon investigation had decided to turn back.  Yasuhiro, not one to argue with the only father he had ever known, had quietly returned to the stern of the boat, and read a book. 

Their journey home had been laboriously slow, but as they pulled into Yokohama harbor Katsuo could see everything was going to plan.  Yasuhiro still sat nearby, reading a book.  The youngest Takahiro was hard working and brilliant.  He had been accepted to study physics at the University of Tokyo, and Katsuo planned on telling him in just a few short minutes. 

Katsuo opened his eyes for a moment.  The cold November air had whipped across the St. Charles and sent a shiver up his spine.  Noticing nothing else awry he puffed from his cigarette before letting his mind drift back in time and thousands of miles away.  It was almost like it was happening all over again.

“Yasuhiro.  Pull your nose out of that book and get to the bow.  The current is a little rough today, I’m going to need you to tie a bowline and get us secure

The younger brother arched his eyebrow slightly, closed his book, and did as he was told.  His brother was such a good pilot he could hardly imagine how bad a current would have to be for him to make such an order.

Alright old man, you must be losing it though.  This chop is barely a foot.”

Katsuo feigned anger, but inside he felt like a little kid.

“Just get up there and do as you’re told.”

“Ok, Ok.  You don’t need to get all worked up.  I don’t want you having a heart attack on me.”  Yasuhiro flashed a smile as he tied the knot and readied himself to leap onto the pier.  A large luxury steamer, the Empress of Australia, sat nearby and hundreds of well-wishers crowded the area.  “That is one huge ship.  How long do you think she is?”

“I’d say 102 ken.”

“Wow, almost 190 meters.  I bet we could make a lot of money with a ship like that.”

“You and your meters.  Give me the shakkan-ho units any day.”

“Meters are so much easier though.  I’m telling you in a year or…”  Yasuhiro’s voice trailed off as they neared their slip and something seemed to catch his eye.  “Hey do you see who’s up there?”

“No, who is it?”  Katsuo could barely conceal his excitement. 

“It’s Mom!”  His younger brother exclaimed loudly.  “Everyone else is here too!  I knew you’d been acting funny the last week.  Wait a minute, is our boat even broken?”

Their entire family had not been in the same place at once in many years.  Yasuhiro had begged Katsuo to get everyone together for his birthday, but the elder had used every excuse available.  It was going to be a wonderful day.  He watched as his youngest brother easily leapt the ten foot gap to the dock and tied the bowline. 

If there was one thing the entire Takahiro family could agree upon, it was their love for Yasuhiro.  As Katsuo finished shutting down the engine and made his way to the front of the boat he couldn’t help but smile.  He looked down upon his family and a calm settled upon him like he had never felt before.  It was a calm that would last only seconds.

“You’ll never have to work on this boat again my brother.”  He quietly said the words to himself. 

At 11:58 a.m. a sixty by sixty mile segment of the Philippine oceanic plate abruptly fractured and slammed against the Eurasian continental plate.  Sixty petajoules of energy was instantly released and the ground shook violently.  A thunder like he had never heard before reverberated in his chest and Katsuo was knocked backwards onto the deck of his boat.  He struggled to stand as the shaking continued for what seemed an eternity.

As he fought his way to the port side he saw a horrific site.  The pier near the ocean liner began collapsing in sections.  Screams of the fallen now joined the deafening thunder and just when it seemed the shaking would last forever.  It ended. 

Katsuo gained his footing as the boat quickly stopped bucking.  Four minutes had passed and he feared what he would see as he looked over the side of his fishing trawler.  Summoning his courage he approached the edge and his fears were confirmed. 

The pier where his entire family had once stood now lay in shambles in the water.  Screams for help had already diminished to feeble cries and the entire bay had become eerily quiet.  Katsuo was on the verge of tears when he heard a hoarse call for assistance.

“Brother.  My brother.  Are you alive?”

He rushed to the edge of the vessel and his heart leapt into his throat.  Hanging by his left hand from the bowline was Yasuhiro, the limp body of their mother firmly gripped in his right.  He had a large gash underneath his rib cage, but still managed a smile.

“She’s still breathing Katsuo, but I can’t climb with only one arm.  Could you pull us up?”

“Absolutely!”

Katsuo shouted the words and immediately began pulling at the line.  At five feet six inches he was short, but a life of hard work had turned his body into a sculpted muscular specimen.  He fought the dead weight below for nearly a minute, using every ounce of his two hundred pounds, but made little progress.  Then an idea jumped into his head.  He leaned over the edge again.

“You’re too heavy.  I’m going to hook you up to the pulleys for the nets, though.  Just give me a second.”

“Take your time.”  The muscles bulged from Yasuhiro’s arms and he managed a smile, though the exertion was taking its toll.  “I can hold on like this all day.”

Katsuo had never moved faster in his life.  In less than two minutes he had the rigging all set up to hoist what was left of his family to safety.  Happy that the plan was ready to implement, he attached a clip to the broken bowline and leaned over the edge.  It was the last time he’d see his brother and mother.

“I’ve got you.  Up you come.  You’re going to the University of Tokyo to study physics

Yasuhiro looked up and smiled weakly, then disappeared.  A forty foot wall of water slammed into the aft of the boat, lifting it high into the air and tossing it like a rag doll.  Katsuo was immediately thrown to the deck, violently banging his head against a crate and losing consciousness.

The sound of a car horn jerked him back to reality.  Katsuo Takahiro stood on the dock on the icy St. Charles River a different man than he had been back then.  He pulled another Lucky Strike from the package and lit it, stroking the long jagged scar on his cheek before flipping the Zippo closed.

He had spent nearly a year searching for the bodies of his family, but to no avail.  Everything he had ever worked for was taken in the Great Kanto Earthquake.  Indigent and living on the streets Katsuo could think of only one course of action.  He joined those he formerly hated, the Imperial Japanese Army.

It was in the army that he found his true calling.  A natural leader of men Katsuo had quickly risen through the ranks, achieving the grade of colonel with astonishing speed.  Every mission he was given, every task he was assigned, was completed flawlessly and in record time.

Although he had spent many years at sea as a fisherman Katsuo was not an unintelligent man.  He had often read books to pass the time on long trips, and in the army he found that he also had a knack for speaking other languages.  Inside of two years he had learned English, Russian, German, French, Italian, and bits of Chinese.

His most difficult mission had begun only four years before.  Command had brought him in and told him he would be going undercover.  He had been chosen to spy on American naval installations, posing as a fisherman.

Katsuo took another drag of his cigarette as he thought of all the humiliating jobs he was forced to do on American fishing trawlers.  Though it had been obvious to everyone he was a knowledgeable, hardworking fisherman, racism left him only the worst jobs.  Every day of his life in the U.S. had been filled with humiliation and denigration.

All of that had changed eighteen months before in Seward, Alaska.  He had been assigned to a more northern region to assess American capabilities, and the summer in Alaska had proven to be rather pleasant.  Katsuo had been staying in a small boarding house run by the only pleasant American he had ever met.  One day she had knocked on his door to deliver a phone message.  It was one word, followed by an address.  The word was “Yasuhiro”.

Katsuo had immediately reported to the address which had turned out to be a Catholic church.  Upon entering he had seemed to be by himself, but then he heard her voice for the first time.  It was a voice he would never forget.

“Over here in the confessional.  Please have a seat.  I believe I can help you find Yasuhiro.”

As far as the Japanese Army knew he was currently dead.  The woman in the confessional had arranged for him to be head of security for Mitsubishi and he had proven to be an efficient leader.  When he had been summoned to another meeting he feared his benefactor had bad news.  That day, though, was the day Katsuo Takahiro became the owner of Mitsubishi.

He had tackled his job as owner of Mitsubishi as fervently as any job he had ever had.  Within months he had developed new ideas, and set the company on new paths.  Most importantly, though, he had developed a new airplane.  The Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter was not being sold to the Navy yet, but initial testing was promising and the company had churned out a few dozen of the aircraft.

Katsuo took a final puff from his Lucky before dropping it to the dock and putting it out with his boot.  He shrugged his shoulders and shivered slightly, peering through narrowed eyes at the gala going on above.  Tonight was the night he made his play to be the most powerful man in Japan.  Tonight was the night he brought the Americans to their knees.  Most importantly, though, it was the night that would bring him one step closer to reuniting with the brother he had given up for dead so many years ago.

“Yasuhiro.”  He said the name aloud in excellent English.  “I’m coming my brother.  I’m coming.”

 

*******************

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

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Posted on June 25, 2014 .

Garfield Wood

One of my favorite things about writing a series of books set in the late 1930's is the research.  I truly enjoy weaving my story together while attempting to keep it true to the times so that when people question an airplane's capabilities or the use of a certain word as "modern" I can say:  "Actually the use of the word (insert word here)  dates back to 17th century France when the nobility altered the word (such and such) by adding a (letter) and dropping the (letter).  I actually did have this conversation with someone, but in order to not call them out on my world renown blog and its millions of subscribers I'll keep things vague.  Anyway, I like knowing that the Japanese Zero had a rate of climb nearly 1000 feet per minute higher than anything the allies could throw at it in the beginning of the war.  I like researching the speed of high velocity bullets so that when my son says to me.  

"Dad, did you know that bullets travel at one mile per second?"

 And I say:  "Who told you that?"  

And then he says:  "I read it in my (Such and Such) a book."

Then I get to say:  "Well, I don't know what kind of gun they were shooting in (Such and Such), but when I was researching the speed of a high velocity 30.06 round for a sequence in The Sentinel I found that a 165 grain bullet would generally leave the muzzle at around 2800 feet per second and after two hundred yards would lose almost 600 feet per second from its speed."  

Then he says:  "Huh?"  

Then I say  "Well, since there are 5280 feet in a mile it would be a pretty decent assumption that it would take a high velocity 30.06 at least two seconds to travel that distance.  Make sense?"

Then he says:  "Yeah, and (such and such character) was shooting a pistol too so they're probably even slower."

Then I say:  "Probably"

Then he says:  "Why wouldn't he look that up and make it right in his book?"

Then I say:  "Maybe he forgot."

Then he says:  "He must have."

Guess what?  My seven year old and I actually had that conversation about a book he was reading.  The kid is an avid reader and ever since he broke his tablet he's really been mowing the books down.  Even the librarian commented that his reading range actually put him at a teen reading level and he finds the books interesting, but then I end up having conversations about high velocity bullets, amongst others...  And I got sidetracked.

The whole point of this was to say that for the first time in my life I ran across the name Garfield Wood.  He was called Gar Wood for short and when I was writing an action sequence for The Sentinel I had an idea of what I wanted my boat to look like and sound like etc., but I decided to see if there was some kind of real life 1930's equivalent.   So, after searching for the fastest boats of the 30's, Gar Wood's name was everywhere and I ended up spending a few hours reading about the man.  He was truly a visionary and innovator and if you have a few seconds to look him up do it.  That being said, it turned out the boat in my brain was relatively similar to the one in the video below.  I know modern racing boats are a completely different animal, but this guy took Phillippine mahogany and strapped some V12 Packard's to it, fabricating all of the assembly himself and designing the torque converters etc. because Packard's engineers said it was impossible and the craft would shake itself to death.  The neat thing about the video I'm going to link is that it is an actual video with sound from 1932.  Pretty cool.  So, this was the Miss America X which had four V12's and is shown here racing down the Detroit River.

6400 horsepower!!!!!!  There are some modern videos of the Miss Americas VIII, IX, and X racing around and they are really magnificent feats of engineering.  Anyway, something like that is going to be in The Sentinel.  Oh yeah, I'll probably go ahead and mention that initial writing on The Sentinel is complete!  I have some editing and whatnot to go, but the truly time consuming part is over.  I'll have more announcements in the next few weeks as I set up a release date and pre-order plans etc.  I was shooting for an August release, but some of the marketing stuff might actually push it back to September.  We'll see!  When I know, you'll know!  Have a great day!

Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

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Posted on June 18, 2014 .

Peek-a-peek-a-peek-a-CHOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

First of all a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my baby sister.  She has been the subject of one of my blogs, watched my kids a bunch, watched my doggies a bunch, had us over for dinner a bunch and we're currently paying her back a little by watching her little doggie while she's on vacation.  He hates me and won't do anything I say, which I'm not exactly used to, but he listens to everyone else, so its actually kind of a relief in duties since I literally can not be in charge of him.  The main problem with that, though, is that I'm still pretty much in charge, I just have to go get someone who will listen to me so that the doggie will listen to them.  Anyway, he's a nice little pooch and we're all getting along famously.  So, to my little sister, Happy Birthday, thanks for everything, we hope you're having a wonderful vacation, the pooch is just fine!!!!!!!  Onto this week's shortened blog!

I'm not really a Pokemon lover, but I once spent about fifty bucks to win a two dollar Pikachu stuffed animal for my five year old at Six Flags.  Actually, I guess he won it for himself.  I probably could have gotten the job done for forty bucks.  That being said, I'm going to keep the blog short this week.  Why?  You say.  Well, because I'm absolutely rolling with book ideas and writing right now.  

It's a strange thing when this happens, but its kind of the way I've always been with a lot of things over the years.  I'll struggle and struggle, fighting to put down a thousand words in a day and not necessarily like a single one of them.  Then there are days like today and yesterday where I've put down fifty quality pages with over sixteen thousand words that I'm proud of.  I'm sure they'll need a little revision, but I've literally gone on runs where the words were flying out of my hands as quickly as I could type, AND they didn't suck.  I haven't even really wanted to stop to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom.  If every day were like this I could rough draft a book every sixteen days or so!

So, even though the boys are watching Pokemon in the background, loudly I might add, inspiration still has a hold of me.  I don't sleep very well when my mind gets racing like this anyway so I'm going to run with it until I'm exhausted.  Maybe next week I'll do the blog I was planning about changing brakes, installing an lcd and digitizer into a Google Nexus 7, selling things to stupid people on ebay and how that all ties into following your dreams because whether you are successful or you fail it might as well be at something you love.  Shoot, I might have ruined that one now.  Oh well.  Buy books!  I'm poor!  Even better, I'm looking for a sponsor, maybe even a benefactor, kind of like in Great Expectations.  That would be even better still.  So if any of you know a billionaire, or even a hundred millionaire and can convince them to pay me a couple hundred thousand a year to churn out a book every now and again, or maybe even an album or two, or whatever, I'm flexible, I'd appreciate it if you sent them my way.  Thanks!


Remember, if you like the blog you can hit the subscribe via email button which is right above the comment box if you click on comment.  Then you'll always know when I've posted!  Also, I appreciate it when you share on facebook/twitter and the like.  It only takes a second using the share button or icons above.  Wanna help fund the printing of The Sentinel?  Hit the donate button below!  Wanna fund it by buying a signed paperback or hardback?  Those are linked right here too!   Oh yeah.  FREE SHIPPING in the lower 48!  Thanks!

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Posted on June 11, 2014 .