Amazon Banner

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: