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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Coming off being off the grid

I needed a break. Putting out two books in a year was serious business. Life, responsibilities, a complete reorganization at work and most cruelly, the unexpected death of my best friend, collaborator, comrade in arms, fellow punster and all around great guy, Paul Littlehale, passed away over the 4th of July weekend. I was the one who found him with the police during a welfare check after his work hadn't heard from him in a few days. We found that he'd passed away in his sleep at the age of 53. It's going to be a long time before the devastation of that wears off. He was a gulf war veteran and we arranged a proper send off with full military honors in the Georgia National Cemetery.

For those that have never experienced a military funeral, the precision of the folding of the flag, the rifle shots from the honor guard, the playing of taps, the presentation of the flag and the quite words spoken to Paul's brother, Dave, as the duty sergeant expressed his condolences...I've never cried so hard as an adult. It's a big deal. I had no idea until I was there bawling.

We gathered at his favorite bar, Johnnie McCracken's and sent him off with a round of the finest Irish Whiskey I've ever tasted. Paul's brother's family and his adopted one, mine, gathered and broke bread, swapped stories and it would have been perfect only if Paul had been the to share it with us.

Paul had been my friend and brother since 1988. We served together in operation Desert Storm and he was the guy who always had my back, was my wingman and I was his. We were designated as each other's porn buddies. While helping to pack his house, I was overwhelmed by the memories that came when sorting out old pictures, and trinkets from events we attended, gifts we gave each other and treasures priceless to small few. He lived alone and we dispersed his home and belongings to charities and people in need, some things were kept and much was tossed in the trash as it was only valuable to Paul, who was a mason jar collection away from being a hoarder. In the end I think we did right by him and the few tokens I have pale in comparison to the soul lost to me, to us. I have no idea what I'm going to do when the next Captain America movie comes out. That was something extremely special to the both of us and harkened back to one of the very first conversations and the one that sealed our friendship. A heated argument over superhero capes.

I loved him so much.

For some time I've not been able to pen to paper. I've been caught up in the skull fuckery that is this election cycle. It's given me a place to put my anger, grief and loss. Baseball season is moving toward the end of the season and my Boston Red Sox are looking pretty good for a division title. Next week, I get into my first college football pool. It's a family tradition, there's no money involved, but you'd think we were playing for nuclear codes in a bizarre live action game of Risk. The fantasy league is about to start with the pros and I have high hopes for the Fighting Geoducks. Amidst all the distractions there's a voice whispering in my ear. I haven't heard it in a while, but Rick O'Shae reminding me there's still a fight raging and it's going to be the biggest battle yet fought. I've been telling him to fuck off, but you know how he gets.

Earlier this year I had half a story written and it looks like the other half is now underway.

I hear them all as plain as day now. Rick doing what it takes to get to the truth no matter the opponent, Pink Panther taking on anyone willing to fight. Martin Steele working the shadows. Zack is a disaster, Mach bought a new pair of running shoes and Talon is sharpening her stiletto heels. A new enemy, an unimaginable threat and right in the middle of sail fest. The biggest holiday outside of Halloween. Did I mention a government threat? New London is in the crosshairs and there's a fresh pot of coffee on at Y-Knots.

This one's for you Paul.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

One Hell of a Week

It's been a hell of a week. I had two major events happen. The first after a lot of study, I flew out to California to take a contractor's exam. This is low voltage license that my telecommunications company needs in order to stay working in the state. Low voltage is everything under 90 volts. This will not include the power sockets, but it does include your telephone, cell phone, cable TV, satellite communication, radios, home theater, sound engineering, it's a pretty big deal. I have twenty years in the telecommunications industry and worked my wan from a know-nothing cable-puller to engineer and I'm now operations manager. I've had a chance to see the full spectrum of the business. I understood that part, it was the other parts I only had vague knowledge. I needed to get educated.

I took some online courses, picked some brains and took a test prep course. I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. On Thursday I sat in the California State License board facility and took a very difficult test. Two actually. The first was a business and law and I passed that with flying colors. It was a little more nervous about it because these were specific to California law, which, let's face it is pretty wacky. The second exam was the tradecraft portion. These questions started popping up and I had no answer to them. It was multiple choice and I was able to figure some out, but it dawned on me that none of what I studied was on that exam. I was screwed. I agonized over it, did the absolute best I could and when I completed, I knew it was going to be close. I need 65 questions correct. The number correct = 64.

My heart sank. I went out in the lobby and the exam administrator went out there with me. Her heart was breaking for me. She knew I'd flown in from Georgia just to take it and it would be three weeks before I could take it again. Another trip. I was devastated. You either have the knowledge, or you don't and this case I came up short. There wasn't a telecom question on that test for me to even get a foothold. Frustrating. The administrator and I talked and since my flight was out at 1pm the next day, it gave me a enough time to come back and take it again. They made some provisions and I went immediately back to my hotel and crammed for the next ten hours.

While that was going on, the second event: I'd been named the Rave Review Book Club's author of the week. Since Sunday February 21st I'd been blog hopping. I wrote several pieces on things that we influences in my writing. For the most part I kept them light fun and around 500 words. Give everyone a taste, but not wear out my welcome. That's what this blog is for. :)

For those not familiar with the Rave Reviews Book Club. It's an organization of authors who support other authors. It's founder and president, Nonnie Jules, has created something I've found to be unique in the author community where it's a pay it forward approach to support. Me, as an author, pitches in and help other authors and in return they support you. It's something earned and I've made real friends doing it. As a bonus, I've read some wonderful books by great people that I probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise and my life had been enriched by it. If you're an author reading this, I invite you to check them out: Rave Reviews Book Club

Sunday: I started my tour off with a very lovely and sweet soul by the name of Priya Prithviraj @priyaprithvira has a wonderful blog Priya's Lit Blog and she posted my first blog post about book covers and my experience with them. I got to know Priya and she's amazing. Please stop by her blog and find out for yourself.

Monday: I moved on to talk to Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko @jinlobify. I love her she writes books that touch back to one of my interests when I was studying cultural anthropology and her books involve stories from Africa tribes and cultures. Her books Legend of the Walking Dead and Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women should not be missed. I had a short post on editing called Editing for Dummies

Tuesday: the blog tour took me to John W. Howell @HowellWave. John writes thrillers and he writes them really well. His books My GRL and His Revenge are non-stop and relentless. He's a great guy, an award winning author and I had a lot of fun hanging with him. On his blog Tuesday Anything Possible I talked about my take-no-prisoners writing process.

Wednesday: I got to hang with the lovely Marlena Smith @mlh42812. She was so warm and welcoming, she a blogger and an awesome human being. She's always engaged and engaging. I talked about the trouble I have with social media promotion "services". My post was called It's a Trap Obviously, you must say that title in the voice of Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars Return of the Jedi.

Thursday: Was a special day. I got to talk with Nonnie Jules @NonnieJules, herself. She's the author of SUGARCOATIN' IS FOR CANDY & PACIFYIN' IS FOR KIDS!: "Yes, I Said It!", she's also the owner of 4WilsPublishing and an amazingly talented person and I have no idea how she does all that she does. I was thrilled to talk with her and below is our full interview.

Friday: I got to play with Bette A Stevens @BetteAStevens. She the incredible author of Dog Bone Soup and a book that's high on my pile to read Pure Trash: The Story. Bette is a fellow New Englander and she has a wry sense of humor. The kind you only find in Maine. With her blog Happy reading and Writing I talked about my influences.

Finally on Saturday, I talked with fantasy author Mistral K Dawn @MistralKDawn whose book include Captivated by the Winter King, Bound by the Summer Prince, Taken by the Hunstman and Intrigue in The Summer Court. This was the most intimate of my blog posts. It involved humor in the dark places. Specifically events that occurred the day my dad died and how humor helped me process pain.


By reviewsbynonnie on February 26, 2016

Hello and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules! Since we are a book club, we had to offer something that included a book shelf. A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories. Here on this “SHELF,” we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask. We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but no one has dared to cover them. WE get personal! Because when you sit on the RRBC “SHELF,” YOU are an open book!

Today, I have with me on the “SHELF” our Current “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Mark Aberdeen!

RRBC Exclusive - Mark A

NJ: Before we get started, how does the “shelf” feel to you? Is it comfy?

Mark: Not particularly. I’ve met really great authors and read amazing books by them and I feel a little like I’m reaching beyond my ability. I’m excited to be here and honored by the invitation. I’d like to think I’m worthy, but I’m not wired that way. I’m still shaking off a working class, Catholic upbringing that instilled in me a sense of when good things happen, it’s a trick.

NJ: Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Mark: My name was given to me by my parents. I’m proud to wear it and if nothing else prove we aren’t all horse thieves and robber barons.

NJ: Tell us where you were born? Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

Mark: I was born in a little town on the Connecticut shoreline, East Lyme. Famous for lyme disease and the high school marching band, which thankfully and much to their betterment, refused to display my musical talents, rhythm and coordination. Lives were saved. I now live north Georgia in small town outside of Atlanta.

NJ: WOW! I’m scheduled to be in Atlanta next month. I just might give you a buzz so that you can have me over for coffee. Mark, are you married or single?

Mark: I am married to a fiery redhead and I’m in a constant battle for my soul. The preferred food of gingers the world over. That’s a joke, honey, really! She’s a wonderful woman, sexy and the love of my life. I’m truly lucky.

NJ: Do you and this sexy red-head have any kids? If so, how many? Sons or Daughters?

Mark: My wife has a son from her first marriage. He’s grown and off to make his mark in the world. I have no kids otherwise.

NJ: (Are you absolutely sure about that, mark?)

Any pets? What kind?

Mark: We’re dog rescuers. We take in those “problem” breeds. As of this interview we have two huskies and an akita. They are wonderful, but three high-output fur factories. They are a constant source of amusement and furniture recycling as one of our huskies must have a little beaver DNA in his make-up. Rescues are very rewarding, but it takes time, patience and knowledge that each dog is going to bring its quirks.

NJ: Oh, Mark, we think they’re really cute! They look a little shocked at the things you said about them, but they’re still cute (in a big-eyed-dog kinda way?) So, why don’t you share your favorite food with us.

Mark: Whole belly clams. It’s the first thing I absolutely have to find when I visit my family and friends back in Connecticut. They are my absolutely favorite food.

NJ: You absolutely HAVE to find them? Well, ooooooooookkkkkkkk. What’s your favorite color?

Mark: A deep rich dark metal flake red. Preferably on an American muscle car.

NJ: Awww, yes, I can just picture you in it, Mark! What’s your favorite sport?

Mark: Baseball. I grew up going to games at Fenway Park and nothing’s more comforting to me than a ballgame. My family was very divided about football teams, but we were all Red Sox fans. I have a deep love of New England sports.

NJ: OK, great! How about your favorite TV Show?

Mark: Shows currently on: Game of Thrones. All time: Fringe

NJ: Favorite Actress/Actor…

Mark: I think I’ve gotten the most enjoyment of watching Robert Downey, Jr. perform. I grew up watching him in the 80s and he’s always been mesmerizing. When he strapped on the Iron Man suit, it was all over for me. In my opinion, he’s the best actor of his generation.

NJ: I’m glad someone is recognizing him for his talent and not holding on to his past. Good for you, Mark! I love him, too but my fave movie that he is in, is “Home For the Holidays” (1995), funniest movie ever!!! So, Mark, are you a couch potato or workout nut? Be honest…

Mark: I lean toward inactivity if given a choice. I wear a fitness band and I do like the jolt of reaching my goals. As long as I have a goal, I’ll find ways to be active. If I don’t, you’ll find me on the couch, or more accurately, in my office.

NJ: Oh…so, what you’re saying is, this is you, too…

Dog sleeping on treadmill

*Sigh* OK, Mark, why don’t you tell us about your biggest pet peeve that makes you want to stomach-punch somebody?: (For the record, NJ does not condone violence but she does believe in being honest, so she has to admit that there are times when she feels like some friendly stomach-punching is a little necessary).

Mark: Talking, playing with a cell phone, or otherwise being rude in the theatre. I can forgive most transgressions in life, but I can’t abide having a movie disrupted by a lack of consideration. To those people; turn it off and get engrossed in the story, it’s what the movie goer paid money to do. Tune out the world for two hours, it’s not going anywhere.

NJ: So, basically, you’re talking to me, Mark, huh? I get it but I’m still not turning my phoneSSSS off! I am much too busy to be away from my phoneSSSS for even a milli-second! So, make sure you sit way down at the botttom. Now, are you neat or messy?

Mark: It depends whether I’m trying to work. My work space has to be organized and I’m a touch OCD in that manner. In my general living conditions, I allow a little bit of clutter to accumulate as our week tends to be very busy, but I have limits to what I can endure. On the weekends I go on a cleaning rampage unless I’m writing. When I write, the world could burn and I wouldn’t notice.

NJ: Oh, my! Note to self, stay away from Mark when he’s writing! Facebook or Twitter?

Mark: I prefer Facebook for social interaction, trash talking, sharing cool stuff, sports, pictures, etc. I like twitter for my author marketing and networking. I maintain an author page on Facebook, but I really keep that focused on book related events and announcements.

NJ: Name two of the most supportive people you’ve met on either Facebook or Twitter? Hurry and tell us so we can become their friend.

Mark: Angie Atkinson, she’s a life coach, blogger, author, inspiration, she’s a book reviewer and all around amazing person. I feel like she’s always in my corner and I can’t thank her enough. The other is Laura Hildago, she’s an amazing cover artist and did my book covers. I really enjoy working with her. I do have a lot of new friends I’ve met through Rave Reviews and that list would take me an hour to list. I’ve never met a more supportive group.

NJ: Mark, that’s very sweet of you to say! Thank you!. Nonnie Jules or Wonderwoman? Be honest…

Mark: Nonnie, of course, that’s not even a fair comparison. Although, I might save Nonnie the worry if I was attacked by the Legion of Doom.

NJ: Thank you, Mark and for the save, too. I’m only in this WonderWoman thing for the cute, skimpy outfit. When she starts getting attacked by Legions of anything, that’s when this WonderWoman turns into the Bionic Woman and uses her bionic legs to run!! Everyone knows the names Mark Twain and Stephen King but how about you give us two names of some INDIE authors that you favor.

Mark: Michael Bailey. He writes a book series, it’s a YA superhero series and he just released a fantasy book. Just amazing writing and a nerdy sense of humor that I really appreciate. The other author I can’t recommend enough is John Darryl Winston his series is gritty, dystopian and he had wonderful, rich characters and a brother and sister team that must be based on his real life. He’s an up and comer and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit the mass market.

NJ: OK, what is it about these up-and-comers that you’ve come to like?

Mark: Both write very fantastic stories with tremendous humanity. Even in their most outlandish they feel grounded.

NJ: Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read…

Mark: AI: Initiate by John Darryl Winston and A Wizard of Dreams by Robin Chambers.

NJ: ONE good INDIE book you read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it…

Mark: I’d have to go with AI: Initiate

NJ: What was so great about it?

Mark: It’s YA dystopian future done absolutely right. The story isn’t about the whiz bang of the world, which is something that immediately turns me off. Where the author writes pages of description in order to describe a hat. What John does is take this very strong relationship between a brother and sister and use it as the focal point to tell an amazing story of this dirty dysfunctional little world. It’s an amazing story.

NJ: After you read books, do you post reviews?

Mark: I do post reviews. I think it’s important to provide feedback.

NJ: What do you think readers should base their reviews on?

Mark: I base mine on how the book affected me. Did I feel something when I read it? I can forgive the occasional typo and grammar error if the story is strong.

NJ: Are you one of those who are afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?

Mark: I definitely like posting positive reviews. I have posted less than stellar reviews although it’s always my policy to keep them constructive. I want to help the author. I’ve been through the process. I know how hard it is. I’m sure my books aren’t perfect and I hope that someone would show me the same kindness. Also, not every book is for everybody. I think it perfectly okay to pass on a review if I determine a book wasn’t for me.

NJ: Read any poorly written books lately?

Mark: I don’t want to say it was poorly written, in fact just the opposite, but I wasn’t sure what the author was trying to do. It wasn’t a text book, but it wasn’t a science journal and it didn’t break new ground. It felt like a recap of general science knowledge. I have a strong background in science and I’m an engineer and I thought the book would be right up my alley. The book was probably written for the young, or for those with a passing knowledge in science. It was written by someone with a passion and not necessarily an expert in the field. The book confounded me.

NJ: Where’s your review so I can go and check it out? LOL! No, seriously.
*Are you an author? Yes. I’m an author.

Mark: Here it is (Review)

NJ: How long have you been writing?

Mark: I was writing when Y2K was a thing. I wrote for a magazine called Shallow Graves. I published some short stories and interviews in it. I had a lot of fun with it until they move away from being a magazine and became on online media platform. As for novels, I had many, many failed attempts and the first book I thought had a real shot was Dex Territory. I started the book in 2004, finished it in 2008, had it rejected for four years by every publisher I could find and threw it in a metaphorical drawer. I went on with other things. It sat in an online folder until 2014 when a friend of mine hooked me up with the man who would become my editor. We reworked the sh%^ out of it, and it was published by TWB Press on Dec 24th of that year. The first draft of my second book, Knight and Dex, was completed in eight weeks. It was released on Oct 31st of 2015 and I’m currently writing my third book in the series it’s called Dex Machina.

NJ: What books have you written?


Dex Territory is my first in the Dex Series:

Dex Territory by Mark Aberdeen

Book 2 Knight and Dex is also available:

Knight and Dex by Mark Aberdeen

NJ: Which one do you think is the best?

Mark: DEX TERRITORY is the closest to my heart, but the KNIGHT AND DEX story is far better. While Dex Territory is a large world, the books coming after it are cases and it’s nice to use fewer characters and build on relationships. Not that there won’t be plenty of action. I love writing swift moving stories with the goal of leaving my readers breathless.

NJ: Do you have a blog or website?

Mark: Yes I do:

NJ: Name three great online resources or organizations that every author should belong to…

Mark: I can’t recommend the RRBC enough. They’ve helped me in more ways than I can imagine. The public library system. I’ve donated my books and time to my local libraries, they’re a great resource for finding writing groups, continuing education, I’ve had book signings, I’ve spoken to kids and aspiring author groups. It’s important to keep interest in our libraries. They do a lot more than loan books. While they’re not strictly an online organization, I haven’t come across a public library that wasn’t eager to help. There’s one more, but I don’t think I can mention it here but it’s very helpful spreading the word to a mass audience. There are a lot of authors as part of this group and I haven’t found it to be particularly effective in driving traffic to my websites, but I have met some great people through the group and been turned onto some good reads.

NJ: Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Mark: The RRBC hands down has helped me and it came at the simple price of helping others spread the word, read some books, leave reviews and have chats with interesting people. I’ll take that price all day long.

NJ: Mark, that is great to hear! How specifically have you been helped by RRBC?

Mark: I’ve had pretty steady sales through the first couple months of my new release. I have new reviews and even one in the UK, thank you, Robin! The recent online book trailer tour was very enlightening. I saw some incredible work and amazing visions in a very entertaining way. I basically took a tour of the RRBC and see how diverse the group was and the stories they told. It was humbling.

NJ: WOW! Great testimony! Mark, since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, any other thoughts you’d like to share about the club?

Mark: I think it’s a marvelous organization and I recommend it as much as I can.

NJ: Have you come across any other online entities like it?

Mark: Nothing I’ve run into is quite like it. I know it isn’t one of those organizations that’s looking to prey on authors and for a fee throw out some tweets that become background noise in the twitterverse. This group is real people with the goal of helping other real authors get noticed. I only wish I found this group sooner. I would have wasted a lot less time and money.

NJ: Another great big WOW! That really makes me feel good to hear you say that, Mark! Because that is exactly who we are, a group of real people, genuinely invested in the support and success of our fellow members. Would you recommend us to your friends and family?

Mark: Absolutely!

NJ: That’s great! Well, Mark, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words?

Mark: First, keep writing, dreaming and exploring those strange worlds living in your imaginations. Sharing stories connects us as a community. It’s a way for us to relate to one another. It’s important. Second, believe in yourself. Everyone has a novel in them. All it takes it parking your butt in the chair and writing it down. You can’t talk about writing, you can’t think about writing, you can’t wish you were writing, you have to put words down one after the other until your story is done. When it’s done, stop. Lastly, thank you to Nonnie Jules for hosting this interview. I hope everyone enjoyed it and you all don’t unfriend me in a mass panic. I’ve enjoyed my time with RRBC and the new friends I’ve made. I wish you all the best of success in your writing and I hope you will take the time and enjoy mine. Let me know what you think.

NJ: Mark, thank you for joining me ON THE SHELF today and for being such an awesome and kind guest! I’m sure you had a good time (being as though you didn’t end up on the floor…hehehe). To my guests, please support Mark by picking up a copy of one (or both) of his books above. You can also support him by visiting the blog stops on his tour which ends on Saturday. You can find the tour line up here.

Have you joined Rave Reviews Book Club yet? Well, here’s your chance! And since Mark was on the “SHELF” today, tell them he sent you. Take care and we’ll see you next time, right here on the shelf, with another AMAZING RRBC member!

It's been a busy week. I hope I was able to do justice to the amazing people who supported me as I went through my juggling act. As for my test I blew it away when I retook it on Friday before I flew back home to Atlanta. The random questions this time leaned heavily into the telecom world and I can now proudly say I'm a licensed contactor in the state of California. This was a hard week, but those make for the best stories.

My newest book Knight and Dex is available in paperback and e-book on, Barnes and Noble and don’t forget my publisher has copies also! Support small business and please buy from them direct.

Dex Territory and Knight and Dex are on sale!

Keep those reviews coming!!

Where can you find me?

You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

RRBC Author Spotlight

Contact: Mark Aberdeen Email:
Winder, Georgia, United States —Rave Reviews Book Club is pleased to introduce, Author, Mark Aberdeen as their “SPOTLIGHT” Author for the week of February 21-27, 2016.
Mark’s featured book, Knight and Dex, is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Book Description

Knight and Dex
Detective Rick O’Shea is an ordinary cop in an extraordinary world of superheroes and super-villains. In this sequel to Dex Territory, the New London Police Department and the Superhuman Task Force are inundated with government surplus military equipment, a much-needed godsend when a series of murders leads to an invasion of Dex-zombies. With the President due to tour the operation, Rick, Pink Panther, and Talon must unravel a sinister plot hatched by the Chessman, defeat the undefeatable zombies, and rescue a little girl before the entire Dex community gets blamed for the assassination of the leader of the free world.

To learn more about Mark Aberdeen, or to purchase Knight and Rex, please visit:

Website: Amazon Author Page:
Twitter handle: @Mark_Aberdeen Facebook:

For more information on Mark Aberdeen, Rave Reviews Book Club, and other great authors, visit:

Rave Reviews Book Club authorizes the immediate use of any of the above information (in part or in whole) for publication.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

That was awkward

Well, that was awkward. Unless someone was gifted with perfect social graces and lucky enough to have never run into other human being is the only way to avoid the awkward moment. Whether it was the dance people do when walking toward each other and no matter how much room, nearly run into each other, the silence after an unexpected kiss, or whatever the circumstance, chances are an uncooperative moment has wormed its way into most peoples’ social lives.

I had one today and it got me thinking about awkward moments and even how in well into middle age, I still manage to have more than my portion. No matter how sure I feel, how much I master the world around me, there’s that one instant my brain throws a rod and I can feel my inner fourteen-year-old take control of my mouth. That’s what happens when my synapses misfire. My mind grabs the incarnation of my personality least likely to handle any given situation and throws him on stage.

I didn’t get a chance to eat lunch and conference calls had me pinned down. My stomach sent overwhelming messages to go grab a snack. I was out of the apples I keep at my desk. In a moment of weakness, I went to the vending machine to get some peanut butter crackers. I’m not supposed to be eating things out of vending machines and I know better, but desperate times call for carbohydrates.

Our office’s machine is an old timey vending contraption where there’s a hand crank on the mechanism. It’s not a very good machine and more often than not the snack is going to get caught up in the rings, and create a snack cluster-fuck in the back of appliance. However, being a vending machine crafted in the bronze-age, there’s some play with the controls. If the crank is turned back and forth, there’s enough movement to pry something loose before the individual snacks hit critical mass and explode as an improvised nuke. The orange stuff on Cheetos must be radioactive. Seriously, what is that stuff? In this case, I managed to dislodge my crackers, but in doing so I kicked out a candy bar I didn’t need, want, but since fortune favors the bold; ate anyway.

I felt guilty. First, I’m doing my very best to control my sugar intake. It’s not perfect control, but I’m to the point where I don’t crave sweets on most days. Eating that candy bar felt like cheating. I might as well have slept with Jennifer Lawrence and not in the fun way I imagine when watching American Hustle and she’s in those late 1970’s outfits, I mean, wow. The other kind which involves sleazy hotels and shame-filled, desperation filled with regret, for Jennifer of course. My experience would probably be different. No less shameful, but that's Jennifer Lawrence, I mean, come on. My wife would surely understand in that one and only instance. Maybe it's best she doesn't read this paragraph. Talk about awkward, but I digress.

It was also something I didn’t pay for. Yes, it was fortunate, but the person who stocks the machine is a co-worker and friend. I decided I need to do the right thing, confess to the crime and pay the fine. In this case, the fine consisted of seventy-five cents of hard US coin. A considerable sum to any four-year-old.

I marched over, explained what happened and dropped a buck on the desk and felt like my civic duty was done with the exception of an hours’ worth of exercise to work off the 1.21 gigawatts of calories in the Reese’s cups. By the way, this would never have happened it were any other candy bar. In my relative youth, I sat down and ate not one, but two, ½ pound Reese’s Cups equally a full pound of peanutty chocolaty goodness. I don’t say this to brag. I’m not proud of this, but by Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warven, they were enjoyed. My heart’s rhythm eventually came back into normal range.

The problem with my good intention: it didn’t go according to plan. My co-worker gave me the look you get when you’re accidentally covered in chocolate pudding and a thong. She told me it was okay and to take the dollar back. There’s where it got awkward. I explained I’m not really wired that way and I will feel endlessly guilty if she didn’t take the money I owed her. She rolled her eyes and waved it off. Now there’s this dollar between us. It becomes a contest of wills of who’s going to end up taking that damn dollar. It became this weight between us and I wanted to scream, ‘don’t you see what this is doing to me? Just take it!’ Probably as much as she wanted to shot, ‘why did you even bother me with this? Pick up your dumbass dollar!’

Here’s some advice for those moments. Stop everything. Put on the brakes. As the old saying goes, when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. The more words involved, the deeper the hole. Stop and reassess. There isn’t going to be a graceful way out unless you’re George Clooney, or that Most Interesting Man in the World guy.

After stopping, acknowledging the awkwardness of the moment will often diffuse the situation and it will become something that the two parties will do one of the following: First, laugh about in future encounters. Second, strictly avoid one another until the nuclear half-life reduces the discomfort to manageable levels. Third, until one of the participants either quits, or dies.

What not to do: Fake an injury. Blog about it.

As for my situation, who gave in and ended up with the dollar? That’s another awkward story.

My newest book Knight and Dex is available in paperback and e-book on, Barnes and Noble and don’t forget my publisher has copies also! Support small business and please buy from them direct.

Dex Territory and Knight and Dex are on sale!

Keep those reviews coming!!

Where can you find me?

You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

In a galaxy far, far away an imagination was born

It was the spring of 1977 and my parents took me and my brothers to see this little space movie. We packed up in our Chevy station wagon and went to a Drive-in just off the Boston Post Rd, Route 1, in New London, CT. We sat through some other movie that I don’t remember, what I remember vividly is the 20th Century Fox fanfare and the screen went dark. We held for a breathless moment and then with an orchestral explosion the words Star Wars appeared against a star field and slowly faded back until a crawl of words explaining the situation rolled up the canvas and when finished the camera panned down and sent me into a world, a galaxy that would irrevocably, indelibly change me.

I lived a thousand adventures in my mind wishing so hard that I could move objects with my mind, bend the will of the weak minded and swing around a sword made of light. I would defend the helpless and fight great battles. I would take my place among the heroes of the galaxy and I would never feel weak or powerless again. It was a pretty good dream for an eight year old boy. It was a formative age in a time when I didn’t understand the world around me very much, but knew there was plenty of people that could use the help of a Jedi Knight.

I recently came across a booklet I wrote. It had to be the 3rd grade and we had to write things about our lives. In the section that asked what I wanted to be, I wrote: Luke Skywalker. It would take me a little time to figure out what a whiny little shit he was and that I really wanted to be Han Solo by the time I hit my teens and pretty much through the end of my 20's. I lived in this space. I was a rogue, I was irreverent, I got myself into trouble and didn't always get myself out. I was cavalier about most things. These were times I surrounded myself with like-minded scoundrels, we were on the hunt for adventure, love and to find our place in the world. Han Solo was my totem, my spirit animal, my hero.

After the prequels came out, who I really wanted to be was Obiwan Kenobi, he was the only thing that, in my opinion, was great about the prequels. I wanted to follow along with him on adventures. I think that still holds true. Obiwan is a warrior, an adventurer, a detective, a teacher and a man of thoughtful action. I admire those qualities. It makes him the ultimate bad-ass and he is without ever flaunting it. It felt perfect for me as I was reaching toward 40. I'd come into my own. I had found balance and felt competent and capable.

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakes multiple times. I’m absolutely a fan of the movie. I like that it’s almost a beat-for-beat retelling of A New Hope. I like seeing the old familiar faces, I really dug the new villains and I fell in love with Rey, Finn and Poe. There’s something familiar about each of them and something new each brings to the table that put us on familiar ground, but I think ultimately will take us to new places in the Star Wars Universe.

I’m going to start with Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Issac. He is the hottest pilot in the resistance. We don’t meet him when he’s at his best. He’s on a mission to Jaaku to retrieve a map that will lead the resistance to finding a missing Luke Skywalker. He gets ambushed by the First Order, who are the remnants of the Empire. They have new sleek Stormtroopers, who actually know how to use blasters and hit their targets. They are led by Kylo Ren, Played by Adam Driver, who comes off like a Darth Vader wannabe, but just before Poe gets captured he shoots a bolt at Kylo Ren. Ren then holds the bolt suspended by the Force as Poe is taken into custody.

Darth Vader never did that. Han Solo shot him in Empire Strikes Back. He stopped the blaster bolt with his hand, but didn’t leave it hanging. Kylo Ren is strong with the Force. Poe is taken back to the Star Destroyer to be interrogated Kylo was able to pluck the information out of his mind. Another Force power never seen before.

Poe get rescued by a Stormtrooper named FN-2187, played by John Boyega, who we saw on the surface acting in a manner unlike other Stormtroopers. He doesn’t want to kill anyone and he doesn’t. He troubled and believes the First Order is wrong. He leads Poe out to the hanger bay and the two steal a Tie Fighter and make their escape. In the escape FN-2187 is renamed Finn and they’re off to flee the Star Destroyer. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to outrun all the ordinance shot at them and get hit and crash land back on Jaaku. The two are separated and Finn thinking Poe is dead heads off to continue his escape.

There he runs into Rey, a scavenger picking played by Daisy Ridley, who is trying to help Poe’s droid BB-8 and in a hilarious scene that threw away any gender bias and showed that Rey was tough and the one who could do the saving. As Rey, Finn and BB-8 (BB-8 how cool is he? I think he slayed R2-D2 in emoting and cuteness) flee, the try to make their escape on a ship that gets destroyed in the First Order attack on the surface. This lead them to a piece of junk ship that is revealed to be the Millennium Falcon. They hop in and the adventure begins.

Star Wars has been a very personal journey for me and my perspectives have change a lot as I’ve grown and entered different phases of my life and the Journey has been lifelong. I know I’m not alone. The story is the hero’s journey and aren’t we all the heroes of our own stories? Star Wars tapped into unlocked potential in us all. It was a fantasy and who doesn’t like that?

This is what excited me so much about The Force Awakens. First, it’s another hero’s journey. It doesn’t look like we’re getting one hero, but three. Finn is looking for redemption, Poe is driven to use his ability to its ultimate end and Rey is looking for her place in the universe, mourning a family she lost and is now on a path to find where she needs to be.

I’m also excited by Kylo Ren. He’s got tremendous power, he’s filled with rage that he can’t control. He has an ideal in Darth Vader that he aspires to, but ultimately doesn’t think he’s worthy, he probably doesn’t understand that he may be more powerful. Like Darth Vader, it’s the little bit of light that still burns within that is going to prove the most troublesome. Vader found it in the end, Kylo is desperately trying to extinguish his. I can’t wait to see all of this unfold over in episodes VIII and IX. I think he is what Anakin should have been in the prequels. Adam Driver makes him truly frightening.
I suspect we’re in for some surprises. The most interesting, in my opinion, is who is Rey? Is she a Skywalker? A Kenobi? Something else?

I'm going to turn back to Luke Skywalker. His students were lost. He withdrew from the galaxy. He's looking for something. Will Luke take his place back in the galaxy, or will he always be a man apart. His hero’s journey has ultimately been a lonely one. Who hasn’t felt that in their lives? That no one understands the problems I face, or if there’s anyone that can walk this path besides me? It something most understand. I have a wife, family, friends but I don't want to burden them with the issues I face as far as I'm concerned it's my world, my burden and ultimately I’m responsible for the choices I made and the failures I've had. Successes are great, but ultimately a less apt teacher. I understand that. I'm also an idiot.I need to remind myself that I don't ever have to face anything alone. Community, family, love. These are the things that hold off the dark side. I hope that Rey and Luke take that journey and bring the Jedi back. I think it's time for me to do the same. Maybe my 8 year old self was right, I’m Luke Skywalker and I'm a Jedi. Now, where did I leave that lightsaber?

Where can you find me?

You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at:

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 - I Solemnley Swear I Am Up To No Good

2016 has arrived. It's a leap year. We have presidential election in the US, which if your outside the US, you'll find hilariously appalling, or be indifferent to it. I say good on you. At the end of the day it doesn't much matter who's in charge, most people just go about their lives and deal with their immediate world. The minority that do care, will, loudly. We just try and tune them out, smile knowingly (even sympathetically) and try to avoid them in the future. It's a good policy. What else can we expect in 2016? I'm not a prognosticator, but I'm going to predict there will be talk of the weather, Ben and Jerry's will put out a new flavor and man buns will be mercilessly ridiculed (as they should). Hey, you took the time to grow out your mane, wear it proudly! Pony tails are acceptable. And for god sakes don't get a face tattoo! I'm kidding. Do what the hell makes you happy. Seriously, no man bun. Don't even joke about it.

I've been on vacation the last couple of days that and some serious insomnia has given me some time to reflect. Didn't have a choice. Neighbors, fireworks 12am, scared dogs. I was lying awake anyway, annoyed. Neighbors, don't be surprised when I'm not so quick to bring in my dogs when they're in the backyard barking at squirrels. Eyes wide open and I was mulling around resolutions and what to do in 2016. 2015, I've talked about it in the last few blog posts. I retread a lot of the same ground at any given time, part of it is lack of any meaningful sleep, early onset I don't give a crap and alcohol. Could be related, but that something best left in the past. I'm going to put a cap on it and call it done. What I'm concerned about is 2016 and what I can do bring this year in right. I do this amidst my two huskies and my akita serenading me with the songs of their people. I kind of like it when the let loose with their inner wolves. It makes me laugh. It's adorable as hell and the primal sound of the three are quite beautiful. There was a time that would bring fear into the hearts of our ancestors, but I've seem all the confounded by a tennis ball and duck for cover at the roar of the vacuum. We are pack and they bring me joy.

As for 2016 here's what's up:

1. Dex Machina - for the love of all that is good and holy I'm going to finish this book if it kills me. It's the first book that I have an outline written, I have very clear character arcs, a great bad guy and absolutely no ambition to write it. It's time. Plant my butt in front of the computer and let some loose words gather up into sentences and then congeal into paragraphs and finally gather those and hammer them together into chapters. I'm feeling the itch and the characters are once again calling me back to New London. It my happy place and I take great delight in really screwing with it and everyone who lives there. And I mean to do a thorough job and give everyone a really bad day. Sounds like fun? New London has this amazing event in the summer called Sail Fest, lots of boats, ships, people hanging out at the beach getting skin cancer. Fireworks. Food fests. The city swells with tourists...yeah, that sounds like a target to me, too.

2. I want to be offline more. I put a lot of time into social media and it's time to back away a little, I'll maintain, but it's an obstacle for getting things done, such as kicking out novels, or mowing the grass, being an active participant in life. I want to do that more. Be preset for my family and friends, produce a little vitamin D with some rays from the sun, find some cool things to do and write about them. For instance, there's a horror convention in February that I'd like to attend, I'm going to have another book signing and I see a trip to Connecticut in the cards this year. I can go make my apologies to New London. Plus, with everything turning to politics, it's a good time to be away.

3. I want to build something. Something I'm completely fascinated with and I want to get out and do is go out to junk shops and restore something, or find something to repurpose. I'm not talking about a car, or anything, but I'd love to make something cool out of things people have discarded. My wife got me hooked on HGTV and I've been completely fascinated by American Pickers and I think it would be fun to crawl around a junk pile and give something new life. I've sent a lot of time around tools and I'm fairly mechanically adept and I think it's time to rediscover that part of me. I used to get a lot of satisfaction out of making things, whether it was a control pane, or communication system on a submarine, or putting in a new piece of telephone equipment, (no, writing doesn't count toward this) it's about working with my hands and having a project and building something significant and useful. It could be a shed. I don't know, but it's going to be something exciting that my neighbors are going to want an ordinance against.

4. This year I want to be better. This isn't a health thing, or a resolution to lose weight, but as a person. I see people enjoying life and I don't feel that I participate in that anymore. It's not like I don't do things, in fact, I do a lot in a week, but my life had achieved a level of efficiency. I do my job, well, both in fact and the rest of my world either surrounds my career or my writing, family obligations, even the most exciting person I know, my wife and I have a routine and we need to shake that up and discover new things together. Maybe I hold the nails as she builds the shed, she's a lot more gifted than I am, mechanically. It's about a spiritual awakening. (I hope I didn't lose you) I don't mean religion, I don't talk about that. We are of this world and we should be connected to it, I'm not talking hugging trees, but community, fellowship and making a difference in the world around me. I think that's important. It's something that I think I do, because I support charities, but there's a difference between giving money and giving or yourself and your time. That's the more meaningful gift and one I don't do nearly enough. I don't know what that is just yet, but this is the year I find it.

A little different focus this year. Where other resolutions were more career minded, or let's lose an unspecified number of pounds. This is the year I work on happiness and fulfilment, I step outside myself and let the world traipse through. It's wildly known that happiness has a direct impact on health. Laughter is medicine.

So I solemnly swear for 2016 I will be up to no good and loving every second of it. Who's with me?

My books are Dex Territory (Book 1) and Knight and Dex (Book 2). If you haven't read them, you should. They're fun and filled with adventure cool characters. I didn't set these books out to be Shakespeare, I wanted to give readers a good romp. Put on your suspenders of disbelief and have some fun. They're a quick read with dialog that make Rice Krispies jealous and more twists and turns than a plate of pasta. I'll have you guessing to the end.

Please, check them out. I promise you a good time.

There are links all over my main blog page that will get you Amazon, TWB Press, please give them some love. We have some really great authors that should be able to scratch any literary itch even in the hard to reach places.

Time to sign this one off. All, truly, from the bottom of my heart the support I get from all of you is incredible. I'm grateful for all that have taken a chance an read my book, left me a review and made me feel like the real deal when it comes to being a novelist. I might have a little something special for my next blog post. Stay tuned.

I wish you all the best in the new year!

Where can you find me?

You can find Dex Territory for every possible device at: