Tag Archives: twilight zone

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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Time to Take Care of Some Unfinished Business – Another #FreeBook

Here we go – Week #4 of the Pre-Doomed-To-Repeat-Release Giveaway!!

I hope you’re enjoying the free books – and if you’ve already read them – I hope you’re telling others to get them while they’re free!!

Before we get to the next giveaway – here’s a little info for those of you wondering how long the giving will continue;

As you know – I started the giveaway the day I sent my new book – Doomed to Repeat – to the editor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plan is to give away one book per week until Doomed is released.

Progress Report:

My editor – the amazing Karin Nicely – has returned the manuscript to me with her first round of edits. I am going through the edits and incorporating them into the work – once I finish (should be by the end of the week) I will send it back to her for round two. The process will repeat and possibly again for a third round if necessary.

Bottom line – I estimate two or three more weeks of free books…so get ‘em while they’re hot!! And don’t forget to tell your friends, family, coworkers, Uber drivers and strangers on the street about them!!

Back to business;

This week’s featured selection is Unfinished Business.

Unfinished Business – Free 10-23-18 thru 10 -27-18

Unfinished Business has an interesting background. It was my first novel not to feature Ike and the rest of the Flagler Beach regulars. Ike makes a brief cameo – but has very little bearing on the actual story.

 

Unfinished Business is sort of the intersection of my usual stories – and The Twilight Zone. It involves a mortician who, for reasons unknown to her, must carry out the dying thoughts of the bodies she embalms.

Speaking of The Twilight Zone – a very interesting (and a little spooky) thing happened to me while I was writing it – check it out here – it’s worth the read…

One final thought…October means it’s time for the Fall Classic and this year my team – The Boston Red Sox – are in the World Series. So if they win there will be an additional giveaway coming your way!

 

And this concludes today’s blog post…

 

As always – thank you for reading

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A First Draft 27 Years in the Making #amwriting

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

I finished the first draft of my latest novel.

Full Circle has, if you’ll pardon my turn-of-phrase, quite a storied history.

Cue the flashback music…

flashback

It all began in the summer of 1988.

Being a single parent with an eight-year-old son, I had very little in the way of a social life.

I also had very little in the way of money…so, I was on a constant quest to find new and creative ways to kill time.

One night, I don’t remember the exact moment, or what spurred the thought in me, I decided to write a book. It would be about Karma, more specifically, the old adage what goes around comes around. I actually had the title picked before I put pen to paper.

I’ve always been interested in the unexplained forces of the universe, probably as a result of watching The Twilight Zone during my formative years, so it seemed like a good theme for a book.

Twilight Zone

I dug out a spiral-bound five-subject notebook and a ball-point pen and started writing.

I had, what I thought, was a good concept, so I wrote about five chapters and gave them to my best friend’s wife ( an avid reader) and asked her to read it and tell me if I should keep going. She told me to continue, so I did.

Along around the fifteenth chapter I switched jobs and had to move, so the notebook went into a box and didn’t see the light of day for many, many months.

When I finally dug it out and decided to get back to it, my life was as hectic as a beehive in a tornado, so, needless to say, the notebook went back into the box.

You know how “life happens”?

Well, it kept happening to me for about eighteen years, at which time I found myself moving again…this time from Rhode Island to Florida…and the notebook was all but forgotten.

Six months after landing in the Sunshine State I had a dream which turned into my first novel, Living the Dream. Shortly after it was released, while writing Water Hazard, I remembered the book I had begun all those years ago and decided to make it my next project.

It was a good plan, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

plans

After Water Hazard came Pump It Up, then No Good Deed, then Backseat to Justice and so on…

Last August, when Eyewitness Blues was released I decided it was time to finish what I had started.

I was in the process of getting Path of a Bullet ready for December release, so January 1, 2015 seemed like a good day to start the project.

I say start rather than finish for a few reasons:

  • My writing skills left a lot – A LOT – to be desired in 1988
  • The story was more than 20 years old, so it needed to be modernized
  • After reviewing what I had written I realized I had tried a little too hard to write an epic novel
  • While writing the original I had been afraid to think outside the box

So, as the new year began, so did my new incarnation of Full Circle (the title is the only thing that has remained from the original, aside from the central theme). By the end of January I had written a paltry 3,000 words and when Febrauary ended I had only doubled my output. March was a particularly bad month for me so when April began my word count hadn’t moved.

I began to wonder if somebody up there was trying to tell me something…

It would have been ironic, don’t you think, if some unknown force was trying to stop me from writing a novel about some unknown force that causes things to happen?

Perhaps, but I wasn’t going to accept that, so I imposed a moratorium on non-essential extra-curricular activities and spent every spare minute I had at the keyboard with the goal of finishing the first draft by June 1.

If I could do that, I could get it to my beta readers and hopefully get it back from them before July, which would allow me to get it to the editor before August so it could be released (hopefully) before November.

I’ll be honest…there were times when I thought I was asking a bit too much of myself.

Would I be able to, essentially, write an entire novel in two months?

Well…I missed my target date by one day.

writer's clock

I finished the first draft of Full Circle on June 2.

By the end of the day on June 3 it will be in the hands of my beta readers and the book I began writing in 1988 will be that much closer to completion.

I guess there are two ways to look at it…

You could say that, for all intents and purposes, I wrote Full Circle in two months—or—you could say it took me twenty-seven years.

finish

Either way – I’m extremely happy with the finished product and I hope you will be too!

Look for Full Circle in the late fall of 2015!

 

As always – thank you for reading

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My Version of the Twilight Zone

This is a strange post—so strange that I’m not even sure where to begin.

I guess it started about two weeks ago…

I was working on my next novel Unfinished Business and the scene I was writing involved my antagonist, a shady nightclub owner named Mike McMahon, and one of my protagonists, a detective named Dave Steere. In the scene the two men are having a discussion and in the course of the conversation it is revealed that they have a history that goes beyond “cop and robber”. In fact it goes all the way back to their youth.

This is a good time to talk about names…

Obviously every character in a novel needs a name and naturally those names must be chosen by the author.

I can’t speak for other authors, but I think I spend more time than needed in choosing names for my characters. There are a bunch of criteria to go by (time period, nationality, ease of pronunciation, etc) and then it must be a name that I am happy with.

More times than not I try to use names that I will remember with little or no effort and also ones that will help me identify my character . It’s quite common for me to pick the name of an old friend or co-worker who fits the general description of the character in order for me to keep physical details straight – ditto with personality traits.

Okay – back to my work in progress…

In the aforementioned scene between Mike McMahon (the name of a guy I knew in high school) and Dave Steere (a close friend from college) I had originally intended their historic connection to involve a girl—so the scene was written with a girl whose affections the two had competed for in high school. Since the girl would play no significant role in the book I decided to use a name from my own high school days…that of a girl I knew for a short period of time, but whom I lost contact with thereafter.

Her name was Mary Ellen Henry.

She was an attractive girl with a big smile and the kind of laugh that makes you smile when you hear it. We met through a mutual friend (whose name will probably appear in a future novel) and we got along very well. I was a sophomore and for the entire year Mary Ellen and I were pretty close friends. After that year I never saw her again. I never knew what happened to her either…I suspected she moved away.

Back to the book…

After writing the scene where McMahon and Steere discuss their competition for Mary Ellen’s attention I moved on in the story. As the story progressed I realized that this struggle over a high school romance just wasn’t enough…so I went back, deleted the scene and rewrote it with something a little more intense.

In so doing, Mary Ellen Henry was removed from the story.

That was the day before yesterday (Tuesday, Nov 13).

Last night (Wednesday Nov. 14) I was writing and hanging out on facebook when I saw a post form another old friend from the neighborhood – I literally stopped and said “Holy shit” aloud when I read it.

He had posted the announcement of Mary Ellen Henry’s death.

I really wish this was one of those clever stories that writers love to create with Rod Serling-esque twists…but it isn’t.

It would be weird enough if that were the end of it…but if you read my last blog entry (My Next Book – I Hope it isn’t Dead to You) you remember that Unfinished Business is a bit of a Stephen King type story with the predominant theme of the book dealing with the final thoughts of the dead.

As I said in the beginning – I feel very strangely about this.

Sometimes things happen that you just can’t explain – and this is surely one of them.

Coincidence?

Most likely…but who am I to say?

I just write books…

As always – thank you for reading and Rest in Peace Mary Ellen

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