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Time for Another FREE Book!

Do you like a good action/suspense story?

Do you like a little historical fiction?

Do you like humor?

Do you like FREE stuff?

Do you like Ike?

Do you like pie?

If you answered yes to any of these questions I have good news for you…

From August 15 – 19 my most recent novel Doomed to Repeat is FREE!!

 

…actually – the last question has nothing to do with anything, but who doesn’t like pie?

 

 

Doomed to Repeat, my 11th novel, was released in November of 2018 and has been highly praised!

The story begins in a top-secret Nazi bunker during World War II, but soon lands in modern day Flagler Beach where three men wash ashore – two with amnesia, one dead.  Ike (our hero) tries to help the survivors, but when the dead body is discovered, a routine autopsy results in an international incident. Now Ike has to figure out why the FBI, the KGB and a racist politician are all after his new friends.

It’s a fast and fascinating read, the ending of which may leave you with more questions than answers…

Get Doomed to Repeat FREE from August 15th thru the 19th!

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Sharks – Less Dangerous Than Your Bathtub

Not since the summer of 1975 have I seen shark-hysteria so high.

As you may recall, that was the summer Jaws was released, and, practically overnight, beaches all over the country were a lot less crowded.

It was certainly understandable. After all – prior to seeing a thirty foot Great White on the big screen, devouring everything in its path, most people were blissfully unaware of the presence of sharks, let alone the (suddenly perceived) threat they posed.

Then, like any good social phenomenon, the legend grew like a weed (sea weed if you will).

The sequels, copy-cats and rip-offs followed in droves – and people’s fear of the ocean’s apex predator grew proportionally.

Forty-four years later – you’d think the frenzy would be gone, or at least down to a realistic level.

But no.

Any decline in shark-o-phobia has been quickly reversed by social media.

Scroll through your facebook feed on any given day and you’re bound to come across a few stories about sharks “terrorizing” a coastal community, forcing the closing of a local beach or “attacking” a swimmer. Of course, twenty, thirty or forty years ago the technology to track and monitor sharks in real time didn’t exist. Now that it does, people are under the misconception that their favorite beach is all of a sudden overrun with sharks – and, of course, these sharks have only one thing in mind…the tasty flesh of humans.

The truth of the matter is – the sharks have always been there – we just didn’t know it.

Nevertheless, the aforementioned stories fuel the fire and, at a minimum, make people more frightened of the ocean…at worst, lead to the indiscriminate killing of sharks.

Estimates of the number of sharks killed worldwide by humans per year (either directly or indirectly) range from 100 million to 273 million.

Let’s go with the low end – 100 million.

Think about how many 100 million is…it comes down to 11,417 per hour.

It doesn’t even sound possible, but every source I checked corroborated it.

Now let’s look at the number of humans killed by sharks per year, again – worldwide.

Ten.

Not ten million…not even ten thousand…

Ten.

Per year.

Worldwide.

For you math nerds that equates to .001 per hour.

And these people are not eaten as the myths would have you believe. Most die from loss of blood after being bitten. Contrary to popular belief, sharks do not see humans as a delicacy…when a shark bites a human it is done as an investigation. Once they realize we are too low in calories to be worth the effort, they move on.

You are ten times more likely to die taking a bath than from a shark bite. Seriously…an average of 113 people die each year while relaxing in the tub.

Yet because of their completely erroneous reputation, sharks are targeted, caught and killed in the name of “who-cares-it’s-only-a-shark.”

The problem is…it’s not “only a shark” – it’s an extremely important link in the food chain whose existence has broad reaching effects.

In North Carolina a drop in the number of Great White sharks led to an increase in rays – the growing ray population, in turn, ate more bay scallops forcing some local fisheries to close. Once the scallops were no longer plentiful, the rays moved on to clams and quahogs forcing many restaurants to remove clam chowder from their menus. Moral of the story…sharks are good for the economy.

Sharks help maintain coral reefs by feeding on large predatory fish, such as Groupers. When these fish are not kept in check they feed on herbivores leading to more microalgae which leads to the deterioration of coral. Also, sharks feed on weak and sick species helping to maintain a healthy ocean. Ipso-facto sharks are good for the environment. In short – without sharks, our oceans would die – and if our oceans die…we die.

Despite mountains of scientific evidence extolling them, sharks are probably the most misunderstood animal on the planet. People seemingly prefer to get their “knowledge” of sharks from Hollywood or facebook memes rather than the scientific community.

My fascination with sharks began at the age of 15 when, quite ironically, my mother took me to see Jaws the night it opened at our local cinema. I had already read the book, so it was the next logical step. Unlike many others it didn’t stop me from swimming. I grew up a stone’s throw from the water and it was one of my favorite summer activities.

Did I sometimes wonder if there was something lurking beneath me?

Sure…but I had also seen the movie Friday the 13th – which didn’t stop me from going to summer camp.

In fact, two years after seeing Jaws I became a certified SCUBA diver in hopes that I would get to see one of these magnificent creatures in person.

I never did…still haven’t, but maybe someday.

Point of interest…Peter Benchley – the author of Jaws – spent his post-Jaws life as one of the world’s biggest shark advocates, at least in part due to the international panic Jaws had created.

Each summer, after shark week, I usually find myself in debates trying to get people to understand that sharks are good…but my voice has little power over a propaganda machine that chums the waters of paranoia with crap like Sharknado.

That’s why I decided to write this post…at least I won’t have to repeat myself as much – I can just give people a link and hope they read with an open mind.

Hopefully it will ease the fears of a few dozen people.

I’d love to stop the wanton killing of sharks, but for that I’d need a bigger audience.

 

As always – thank you for reading

And here are ten more things more likely to kill you than a shark… 

Fin

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There’s Something About Yesterday…

For a writer the most important element in any story is, what I call, the What if moment.

Without a great what if, it doesn’t matter how well you write, how compelling your characters are or how snappy your dialogue is – your story’s potential is handicapped.

For example:

What if an astronaut became stranded on Mars?

What if a post-civil war cavalry officer learns that all of the stereotypes about native Americans he had assumed were true were, in fact, patently false?

What if a great white shark staked a claim off the coast of a small New England island and terrorized swimmers during the Fourth-of-July weekend?

Obviously, these stories all did fairly well as books and as major motion pictures – largely in part to their incredible what ifs.

In fact, a truly captivating what if can transform a standard boy-meets-girl-boy-gets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-back love story into a story that will completely distract you from a plot you’ve seen a million times.

Such is the case with the movie Yesterday.

As a writer I will tell you, this movie has a huge what if…but as a music lover I say it’s got the mother of all what ifs!

What if The Beatles had never existed?

Think about it for a minute…

What if John had never met Paul?

What if those countless gigs at The Cavern had never happened?

What if Brian Epstein had never found them?

What if the greatest rock band EVER – never were.

The longer you think about it, the more difficult it is to fathom, but that’s the premise of this movie.

Jack Malik is a struggling musician who wakes, after a near death experience, to a world that has never known The Beatles.

No spoilers here – but it isn’t a bad dream.

The planet goes through some unexplained phenomenon at the precise moment Jack is struck by a bus – and as a result of said phenomenon…the Fabs never existed.

But Jack remembers them, and all of their songs.

When he plays Yesterday for his friends, they are rightly impressed with his song writing ability. His efforts to explain that the song was written by Paul McCartney are met with blank stares which get even more blank when he mentions The Beatles.

Immediately the viewer, at least this viewer, begins to contemplate the possibilities of a Beatle-less world.

It’s almost inconceivable, but in the movie, it is the new reality.

Needless to say, the world is duly impressed (again) with the catalog of material Jack comes up with, seemingly overnight, which leads to fame, potential fortune, etc., etc.

So how does Jack deal with his new found, albeit unearned, superstar status.

Well…he gets some very sage advice from a most unlikely source.

Naturally, the movie is not without its faults, but let’s face it…the concept of a “no Beatles” world could be turned into a NetFlix series and go on for twelve seasons…so it would be impossible to address every single after-effect.

For example – in one scene Jack plays a Beatles’ song for some friends…one of them remarks “Well, it’s not Coldplay…”

This is the first potentially major flaw with the story, because had The Beatles never existed the entire musical landscape we now know (including Coldplay) simply would not exist.

This may be my opinion, but I’m pretty sure there are people, much smarter than I, who would support the theory.

But the suspension of disbelief is powerful stuff – and the story manages to clear this seemingly impossible hurdle nicely.

Once again…no spoilers, but I will lay these truths on you:

You do not – repeat DO NOT – have to be a Beatles’ fan to enjoy this movie, but if you’re one of those misguided souls who believe the Fabs were over-rated (and the moon landing was staged) you probably won’t enjoy it very much.

The story is not as predictable as you might think.

There are a few moments when you’ll have to fight back the tears.

Finally – when you leave the cinema you will have yet another reminder of how four kids from Liverpool literally changed the world.

There you have it…my review of Yesterday.

It might not be the movie that changes your life…

…but what if it is?

 

As always – thank you for reading

 

 

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I’ll Open the Door for You – Whether You Like It or Not

This may come as a shock to you, but I do not make a living as an author.

In fact, right now, the income from the sale of my books is right at the point where it buys my gas, treats me to the occasional night out, and is a minor nuisance at tax time. Which means I am forced to work a full time job in order to maintain my extravagant lifestyle.

I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s only a matter of time, and I’m patient, but that’s not what I’d like to talk about today.

My thoughts today are related to the aforementioned day job.

As part of my job I am required to attend mandatory training sessions every now and then. In my case most are job specific, but some are more generic. Case in point, about three years ago every employee in the organization was required to attend active shooter training – where we were taught what to do (and not do) should a gunman go on a rampage in our building. It was quite eye opening, as well as a sad commentary on the evolution (or lack thereof) of our society.

In addition to learning how to survive the unthinkable, that particular class resulted in the writing of my novel 24 Minutes, but that’s another story.

My most recent training session was entitled “Ethics in the Workplace” and it was taught by a “business ethics expert.”

Ethics are defined as the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.

I find the use of the word moral in the definition interesting, because ethics and morals, although often interchanged, are not the same thing.

A more in depth investigation tells us that ethics are “rules provided by an external source, e.g., codes of conduct in workplaces or principles in religions,” while morals refer to “an individual’s own principles regarding right and wrong.”

I learned an easy way to differentiate between them from the TV show NCIS, where medical examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard explains it this way;

An ethical man knows it is wrong to cheat on his wife, a moral man just wouldn’t do it.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really jazzed about having to spend four hours listening to somebody lecture me about ethics since I like to consider myself a fairly ethical (and moral) person. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, the training was mandatory so…

Contrary to my expectations, the class was not only informative, but also entertaining.

The speaker, let’s call him Bill, shared dozens of stories to illustrate how all choices, regardless of intention, come with consequences – a topic I related to quite easily since several of my books address that very concept. In addition, he illustrated how easy it can be for a person to cross the line from the ethical to the unethical.

There was, however, one anecdote he shared that didn’t sit well with me, and I still question how it relates to ethics.

The short version of the story is this;

While enjoying a night out with three friends, two male and one female, Bill and his party returned to Bill’s car where he proceeded to open the car door for the woman. She took offense to this and let him know she was perfectly capable of doing it herself. Her issue was this; regardless of his intentions and inbred gentleman’s instincts, he had “taken away her power” by insinuating that she needed special treatment. Basically, he was being a sexist.

What a load of fertilizer.

For the record – I support women’s rights completely. And as I stated earlier, I feel that my moral compass is pretty strong, and I definitely do not see myself as a sexist. So much so that I refuse to patronize Hooters restaurants (and their ilk) because of their corporate policy of objectifying women.

I also consider myself a decent human being – therefore, I would open the door for another person…man, woman, child, black, white, gay, straight, bi, trans, Jew, gentile, democrat, republican or vegan.

Not only is it the sort of thing my mother taught me to do – it’s also common courtesy and politeness.

Here’s what’s sad…the active shooter training, while graphic and frightening, didn’t really shock me. Learning that I was violating somebody’s rights by opening a door for them did.

Are we really getting to the point where, in order to be ethical I have to violate my own morals?

I don’t know how we arrived in this back alley of The Twilight Zone,

but here we are. If you try to be nice, you’re still doing something wrong.

Talk about a no-win situation…double-edged sword…a slippery slope.

Pick your metaphor – it all comes down to the same thing – somewhere along the way things got out of hand. We became more concerned with being legal than being good.

I’m sure there are some who may take offense to my position here.

Too bad.

If you think I’m a bad person, or that I’m violating some ethical code because I held the door for you, it’s you who has the problem, because when society takes a dim view of being nice to each other – anything that follows can’t be good.

 

As always – thank you for reading

 

 

 

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day from Ike

A short story from my anthology entitled “Path of a Bullet – A Collection of Short Stories Featuring Ike”

Open Heart Sandwich

You love her, but she loves him, and he loves somebody else. You just can’t win.”

The J. Geils Band – Love Stinks

 

“Ahh, Valentine’s Day,” Brewski said, leaning back in his chair. “Love is in the air.”

“Is that what that is?” Ike asked. “I thought it was low tide.”

Brewski went into the cabin of Ike’s boat and returned with a fresh beer. “You gotta admit, Valentine’s Day is much easier when you’re single”

“It’s a lot cheaper too.”

Brewski raised his beer. “I’ll drink to that.”

Ike looked at his watch. “It won’t be cheaper for me, though. Not tonight anyway.”

“Why? Don’t tell me you’re in love.”

“Love? Too early to tell, I just met her a few hours ago. I’ll let you know in the morning.”

“You’ll be paying alimony by noon tomorrow.”

“Quite possible,” Ike said.

“Who’s the lucky winner?”

“A natural blonde with legs until tomorrow. Works at the Casa Monica, some kind of event coordinator or something.”

“Does Miss Natural Blonde have a name?”

Ike pointed at Brewski. “Yes she does. It’s…”

“Take your time,” Brewski said, sipping his beer.

“…Laura.”

“Congratulations, you remembered. That’ll impress the hell out of her. I know it impresses me!”

“I’m picking her up in an hour. She wears a name tag. Takes the guess work out of it.”

“It’s convenient that she works in the nicest hotel in St. Augustine. You won’t have to walk the three blocks back here later.”

“Yeah, kinda looking forward to it. I’ve never stayed there before. I wonder if she gets the room gratis.”

“Even if she does, the tips you have to leave will still set you back.”

“She looks like she’ll be worth it.”

Brewski downed his beer, stood and stretched. “Well you enjoy your evening. I’m going to find a bar with a band and cheap beer.”

He handed his empty to Ike as he hopped off the boat onto the dock. “Remember,” he called over his shoulder, “safe sex is more than just a good idea.”

 

Mandy turned her back and pretended to be interested in the large, tarnished cannon in the square. She casually repositioned herself behind a family of tourists, consulting their St. Augustine tourist guide, so she could watch him weave his way through the crowd of tourists and college students filling King Street.

The more she watched the more her heart fluttered.

If there was a man on the planet more perfectly suited for her, she hadn’t found him yet, and she’d been to six states, plus Jamaica.

There was no doubt in her mind…they were meant to be together and all she needed to do was make him see how right for him she was.

There was no way he wouldn’t see it.

She trotted across King Street and fell in behind a pair of couples celebrating Valentine’s Day in The Nation’s Oldest City. They provided perfect cover, allowing her to admire him without the possibility of detection should he turn around. Not that she wanted to hide from him, but she didn’t want him to see her until the moment was right. It had to be more, much more, than a random glance on a crowded street.

Someday they would reminisce about the way they met and she wanted it to be a story worthy of a romance novel. In the future they would be entertaining guests and somebody would inevitably ask, So how did you two meet? Mandy would gush and her answer would always start with the same four words, spoken with the purest kind of love—It was Valentine’s Day…

The rest of the details weren’t finalized yet, but it wouldn’t be long.

When he entered the lobby of the Casa Monica Hotel and paused for a moment in the doorway to the ballroom, framed by an arch of roses and red balloons, she became even more convinced that God had put her here, at this moment in time, to fulfill her destiny…their destiny.

 

Roger wasn’t sure exactly when he lost the charm and good looks that had enabled him to get laid at will throughout high school and two years of junior college, but he was sure of one thing…he had banged more broads in those six years than the combined total of the following twenty-five.

If somebody had told him back then that there would come a day when he’d actually pay for sex, or worse, become a pudgy, balding, porn-watching cab driver, reduced to giving himself the hand-jobs that girls had once lined up to perform, he would have laughed in their face.

He now sat in his pickup, watching Mandy from across the square. Mandy had been the closest thing to a relationship he’d had in quite a while—if you could call six dates and one night in bed a relationship. He just couldn’t understand why, after their night together, where he was almost certain he’d done all that could be expected of him, she had suddenly become totally unavailable. Wouldn’t answer her phone, was never home when he stopped at her place, even though her car was there, and she had stopped coming to the Four Winds where they had met.

He glanced at the bouquet of carnations on the passenger seat next to him, thankful there was a Winn-Dixie a block from Mandy’s apartment and for the brainstorm that had reminded him that women loved getting flowers. All he needed now was the right time and place to give them to her. With the flowers, and a little bit of luck, maybe he could talk her into a repeat performance of their night together.

If she would just stop moving.

For the last half hour he had followed her from her apartment to downtown St. Augustine. He watched as she parked her car and walked to the marina, hung out on the docks for a while, acting a little weird, then walked to the square and finally across King Street toward the big fancy hotel.

He had parked his truck, dropped some coins in the meter and followed her inside, passing under the banner announcing the Valentine’s Day pirate party where guests were invited to Surrender the Booty.

He felt a little out of place in the lobby, dressed in jeans, but he didn’t care. When she walked through the archway made of roses he followed her.

 

Ike snatched a glass of wine from a passing pirate-waiter and an hors d’oeuvre from the tray of a serving wench as he wove his way through the crowd. Standing in the center of the room, next to a six-foot-round chocolate fountain, he spotted Laura working the crowd on the far side of the room. His eyes took in her long legs as they flowed from her red pumps up to the hemline of her glittery red skirt. He admired the way the small red blazer hugged her curves and the way her blonde curls sat on the shoulders like epaulets.

He could certainly pick them.

From across the room Laura spotted him and shot him a perfectly seductive smile without neglecting the couple she had been talking with, then added a discrete gesture that told him she’d make her way to him momentarily. Ike sipped his wine as he observed couples drinking each other in.

Love was certainly in the air…along with the smell of molten chocolate.

Laura excused herself from her conversation and strolled toward Ike, pausing to exchange pleasantries with guests along the way.

Her smile seemed to grow wider with each step closer to him.

 

Mandy stood transfixed next to a table in the ballroom. She watched Ike sip wine next to the huge chocolate fountain. The way he looked somewhat out of place in the roomful of happy loving couples, yet at the same time blended in as though he belonged, only deepened her admiration for him.

She needed to get closer. This was the perfect opportunity. All she needed to do was gather her thoughts and figure out what to say.

Hi, Ike. You don’t know me, but I’ve been watching you…

No – too stalkery.

Hi. Your name is Ike, right? My name is Mandy. I clean the boat in the slip next to yours. I see you all the time.

No – it needs to be something that will get his attention.

Maybe just a nice smile and a simple Hello while she showed him some cleavage?

Wait a minute. What the…? Who was this bimbo?

A long-legged blonde woman sauntered up to Ike and hugged him, planting a kiss on his cheek. They smiled at each other and looked around the room, the woman pointing and talking, always with the smile. Worst of all, Ike seemed to have more than a casual interest in her. No surprise, since she was dressed like a high-priced hooker.

Mandy’s nemesis placed a hand on Ike’s chest and pointed off in another direction, then left his side.

Mandy followed her.

 

Roger stopped in his tracks and scanned the room, momentarily losing track of Mandy.

A pirate, complete with a cutlass hanging from his belt, presented a tray full of wine glasses to him.

“Good evening sir,” the pirate said. “Wine?”

Roger looked from the pirate’s face, down to the plastic wine glasses, then back to his face. “Is it free?”

“Yes sir, it’s complimentary.”

“Sure.” Roger snatched a glass, downed it and exchanged the empty for a fresh one.

“Thanks.”

The pirate nodded and moved along.

Roger spotted Mandy walking across the room toward the ladies room.

Cool. While she was in there it would give him an opportunity to figure out what to say to her.

 

Mandy entered the ladies room and sidled up beside the blonde, who was leaning over the granite counter to check her makeup in the mirror. The bitch had the nerve to smile at Mandy’s reflection in the mirror. Mandy decided there was no point in beating around the bush.

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

The blonde blinked, glanced around the room and then pointed to herself with a Who, me? Look on her painted-bitch face.

“Yeah, you,” Mandy said. “You think you have a chance with him? I got bad news for you.”

The blonde just stared at her, like she didn’t know what Mandy was talking about. Mandy grabbed her by the hair and dragged the Barbie-doll wannabe into a stall. Mandy kicked the door closed and slammed the woman’s face into it.

“How do you like that, bitch?”

Mandy spun her around and clamped a hand over her mouth, forcing her against the stall door. Barbie face was full of panic, like she had never bled before…or gotten into a fight.

“You listen to me, bitch. Ike is mine, he just doesn’t know it yet. If you got any idea what’s good for you, you’ll forget about him. Understand?”

The blonde nodded rapidly. Mandy gripped the woman’s hair and plunged her head into the toilet. The woman crumpled onto the floor sobbing, her face dripping with water, tinted red with her own blood.

Mandy left the stall, checked herself in the mirror, made a quick adjustment to her chest for maximum exposure and left the bathroom smiling.

 

When Roger spotted Mandy leaving the ladies room he inhaled deeply, took a look at the flowers in his hand and prepared himself. If he timed it right he could head her off at the chocolate fountain.

He downed his wine, dropped the empty glass on a table and started toward her.

 

Ike kept one eye on the ladies room door. The dark-haired woman who had entered the bathroom shortly after Laura had already exited and was heading in Ike’s direction, with a look on her face that was a weird mix of seductive and nervous.

As she drew near she smiled and opened her mouth to speak.

Ike’s attention was torn from the stranger when Laura burst out of the ladies’ room, wet and bloody.

Ike could see she was crying. She was calling something to him but the music was too loud. Now she was frantically pointing at the dark-haired woman, who was standing directly in front of him—smiling.

“Hello, Ike…” the stranger said.

Another woman on the far side of the room caught a glimpse of Laura and screamed. The band stopped playing and all eyes went to Laura—except for the eyes of the woman in front of Ike

The room grew increasingly silent.

“…I’m Mandy. I’ve been dying to meet you.”

“Ike,” Laura called from across the room. “She’s crazy, watch out.”

 

Mandy was within arm’s reach of the man of her dreams and she finally had his undivided attention. Nothing was going to stop her now.

From behind her she heard somebody shout something about crazy. She ignored it. From her right came a familiar voice that filled her with dread, momentarily distracting her.

“Mandy,” the voice said, “what’s happening, babe?”

Ike wasn’t paying attention to her. His eyes were focused on the commotion behind her. Mandy turned to see Roger approaching carrying a bunch of cheap-ass flowers.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Mandy spat at him.

Roger let the flowers drop to the floor and a look of pure wrath took over his face.

 

Roger’s mind went blank.

He couldn’t process everything that was happening fast enough to make sense of it. The only thing that was obvious to him was that Mandy was clearly interested in this gorilla standing in front of the fountain.

Not tonight, he thought, I’m not settling for no second place tonight.

The gun went off in Roger’s hand before he was even aware he had drawn it.

 

Ike’s attention went from Laura and her warning cry, to the woman standing in front of him, and then to the man approaching from the side…the man who had pulled a gun and was bringing it up to point it at Ike. Ike side-stepped quickly to his left and collapsed the gunman’s right knee with a solid side-thrust kick. As the man crumpled to the floor the gun went off. Ike grabbed a cutlass from a nearby waiter.

 

Roger watched as Mandy’s torso was immediately covered in blood. The force of the bullet had knocked her into the fountain where her blood was mixing with the flowing chocolate. What have I done? How did this happen? Despite the agonizing pain in his knee he stood and turned the gun back toward the man who had caused him to kill Mandy.

 

The lunatic with the gun was struggling to his feet and bringing the gun around for another shot. Ike plunged the cutlass into the gunman’s chest, giving it a sharp twist before pulling it out. The gun dropped to the floor and the wounded man clutched at the gaping wound in his chest as he staggered sideways and fell into the fountain. The air was filled with the smell of the chocolate mixed with the smell of gunpowder and blood. A woman fainted.

A crowd stood in silent horror around the fountain.

Ike looked at the chocolate flowing over the two corpses and into the holes in their chests.

He handed the sword back to the dumbfounded waiter.

“Nothing like chocolate covered hearts for Valentine’s Day,” he said.

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Danger, Will Robinson! TV and Movie Remakes are Getting Out of Control

On the advice of a friend I began watching the NetFlix remake of the classic TV series Lost in Space.

After watching the first two episodes I will say this…it has one thing the original series (1965-68) didn’t have – a budget.

Money, as we all know, changes everything.

Sometimes for the better…sometimes not.

Having a little bit of do-re-mi to throw behind it, NetFlix has created a show with some great special effects, really good costumes and extremely believable settings. Things blatantly absent from the original series – even though it was considered “lavish” at the time.

But here’s the thing…not having big budget effects (the laser guns were about as high tech as it got back then), costumes (many of the “aliens” encountered by the Space Family Robinson wore costumes borrowed from some of Producer Irwin Allen’s other TV shows of the era) and settings (there was no CGI to create realistic space scenes or planet-scapes in those days, so most of the worlds visited by the Robinson’s had a very familiar look to them) is a big part of what made the original series so much fun to watch.

There was a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor about the original series, which also added to its appeal. In its third, and final season it was up against the ever-so-campy Batman so the big wheels at CBS  must have figured if you can’t beat ‘em – join ‘em. I once saw an interview with Mark Goddard (Major Don West) where he said there were times when he would discretely cover his mouth with his hand, and turn away from the camera in order to hide his laughter.

So what’s the bottom line?

Am I saying the original series is better than the new one?

Actually – no, I’m not.

So, I’m saying the new one is better?

Uhh…no, not saying that either.

Lemee ‘splain…

As I said before – in the world of Hollywood (or in this case NetFlix) it’s all about the Benjamins. I’ve never sat in on a production meeting but I imagine one would sound something like this;

HEAD SUIT: “All right people, we need something new. Who’s got the next big thing?”

GUY-IN-SUIT #1: “Remember that old show My Mother the Car? Why don’t we remake that?”

HEAD SUIT: “Was it popular enough to still have a viable audience?”

GUY-IN-SUIT #1: “Probably not.”

HEAD SUIT: “Next.”

GUY-IN-SUIT #2: “How about Mr. Ed?”

HEAD SUIT: “The talking horse? How would you like to go back to the mail room?”

GUY-IN-SUIT #3: “Hey. How about Lost in Space? It was pretty popular, and with Star Wars refusing to die we should be able to really cash in.”

HEAD SUIT: *nodding* “You might be on to something there.”

 

How does this answer the question of which is better?

It doesn’t.

Because asking which version is the best is like asking “Was the 1965 Corvette better than a 2018 ‘Vette?”

If you asked 20 people this question you’d get 25 different answers.

The same holds true for remaking old TV shows and movies. Whether they are better or worse depends entirely upon who you ask.

For me – the new Lost in Space strayed too far away from the original story for me to form an objective opinion. I’ve enjoyed it so far, but only after I stopped making mental comparisons to the original.

But in all honesty – this post is not really about which show is better. It’s about a question I’ve asked in several other blog posts:

Why, in a time when there are more authors and more original story ideas than ever before, is it necessary to remake a show (or a movie) that has been off the air for 50 years?

I’m not a fan of remakes. I mean, if I said ‘for my next book I’m going to rewrite Moby Dick’ would you buy it?

Probably not…

So why would you pay to see the rehashing of something you’ve probably already seen before (new story lines notwithstanding)?

With all that being said, here is my other point…I have decided to pitch my novel Unfinished Business to all the major (and some of the minor) networks and see what happens.

Who knows? Maybe a guy in a suit will avoid the mail room by suggesting something totally new instead of remaking The Flying Nun.

Wish me luck.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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It’s About Time!! (Literally – Doomed to Repeat is All About Time – and it’s Available Now)

There’s a saying about boat ownership I’m identifying with right about now  – “The two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day he buys it, and the day he sells it.”

Having never owned a boat (yet) I can’t speak to the veracity of that claim, but I can say this…two of the happiest days for an author are the day he conceives of a new story idea, and the day the story is set loose on the world in the form of a new book.

Along the way there are highs and lows.

There are days where you think you’d better send the tux to the cleaners for that inevitable stroll on the red carpet…and days where you feel like donating your computer to charity because it is the vessel which contains the worthless drivel on which you have wasted countless hours.

In the end, it’s always worth it, because you never get tired of releasing a new book.

It’s a feeling that’s hard to accurately describe.

I wouldn’t put it up there with the pride you feel when your child graduates from college, but it’s at least as great as that day where you no longer need to buy diapers for him/her!

But I digress…

Let’s get to the meat of this here sandwich.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce the release of my eleventh novel (16th book) Doomed to Repeat!

From the day I released my first novel, Living the Dream, I’ve wanted to write at least one historical fiction story – and I can now scratch that off my writing bucket list.

I may even do it again. Somewhere around the time I was writing my second book I had an idea for a story whose beginning takes place during the Civil War…so that may become a reality in the near future.

In the meantime – Doomed to Repeat is available for purchase as a paperback, and for your kindle simply by clicking here or on the cover image above.

No spoilers, but the story begins in a top-secret bunker in Nazi Germany, and ends in current day Flagler Beach, Florida. Ike and Company have their hands full dealing with a corrupt US Senator (perhaps a bit redundant), two strangers who show up on the beach with amnesia, a mystery corpse, the CIA, and the KGB.

The advance reviews have been overwhelmingly positive so I’m pretty confident it will be well-received.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

As always – thank you for reading

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