Saturday, October 7, 2017

Sorry, No Jokes This Time ... Ten Things Of Thankful

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So, it's been almost a year since I've written a post for Ten Things Of Thankful.  Please don't think that I turned my back on the group.  That's not the case at all.  In fact, there was a constant gnawing to return, but time just wasn't available.  

Busy?  My gosh, "Yes!"

Anyway, instead of my long intro into "Ten Things of Thankful" that I'm known for, let us begin without further ado.

This past nine months, I'm thankful for:

1)  Early Retirement - In January, I made the decision to take early retirement.  I had been dissatisfied with my previous career for years and the lies that were constantly a part of it.  I'd been told in the past that I didn't have enough "larceny" in me, which in all honesty, made me feel much better as a human being.  As I'd seen numerous management changes within a year take place, I knew in my heart that I needed to get out and pursue what I really loved ... writing.  When the opportunity presented itself, that's exactly what I did.  Thankfully, early retirement was an option that I could take advantage of.



Available Here!
2)  Horror Across The Alley - Yep, In February I began writing my first novel and completed it in May.  It has been a constant seller on Amazon.com and has received great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  

Horror?  From a comedy writer and past performer?  I know, it seems strange, but I actually love writing things that stir the emotions and will put the reader on the edge of their seat.  This one achieves that.  However, it seems many of its readers have been from outside the Horror Genre.  People seem to love the characters that were created within it.  Some have admitted to laughing at times and crying at others as they became so involved in them.  

I'm thankful that I'm finally able to move forward with a writing career.  Life has a way of turning lemons into lemonade if one seeks it.  That has indeed been the circumstance here.



Available Here!

3)  They Lurk In Summer -  You guessed it right!  In late July, I released my second novel, "They Lurk In Summer."  I left the Paranormal / Horror genre and decided to pursue a tale of six youngsters during a summer vacation in 1966 middle America.  Of course, they face a few advisories ... an abusive husband/father, venomous reptiles, a psycho thief/kidnapper, and a pack of man-eating dogs, but what's a summer vacation without a little challenge?

This book hasn't sold quite as well as the first. Perhaps, I need to return to the paranormal/horror genre.  Or, could it be because I haven't offered it at a reduced price as I did the first one?  (Could two whole dollars keep people from purchasing?) It's a longer book, and I believe a much better book all the way around than the first.  It still has an overabundance of suspense and shock factor, but it also concerns itself with the coming of age of a group of young people and first love.  It's been described as "Cujo meets Stand By Me" by one reviewer, which should set it off.  But, it's just sitting there for the most part.  

Still, I'm very thankful that I was able to get it out to the public and out of my system.  It proved that I wasn't going to be a one book author and then fall back into nothingness.  I was thankful that I proved I had it in me to move on.  So, without hesitation, I started my third book!


4)  Problems Arise -  At this time, problems started to make themselves present.  I was working on one book and another kept creeping into my mind.  There was a sense of urgency to apply myself to the second that I just couldn't shake.  So, I put aside the one I was working on and immediately went to work on the one that obsessed me.  Within eight nonstop hours, I'd developed ten major characters and completed an outline of the story complete with timeline.  Then, as if an afterthought, I found myself changing the names of the characters as it worked itself out perfectly to be a sequel to "They Lurk In Summer".  It was all falling into place too easily, but I was thankful that my decision to delay my efforts on the first was proving correct.


5)  Murder in Alabama - Taking a break one Monday afternoon, I perused Facebook to see what people were up to around the world.  I caught an article that had tagged the name of one of my best friends (an adopted sister if you will) that lived in Alabama.  

It had been years since I'd seen her ... over twenty plus.  She'd left her husband for another and I'd lost all contact information.  We'd only found each other on Facebook a couple of years ago, but the friendship was as if there had never been a break period.  She'd been one of my advance readers of my first book.  I'd sent her an autographed copy of which I've been told by many she had on display on a bookstand in her living room.  We'd even talked the Friday before in a message.  She'd just received my second and couldn't wait to read it.

That never happened!

According to the article, on Saturday, both her and her husband were shot and killed between 12 noon and 2 pm in their own home. 



To say I was shocked would be an understatement.  Sadness and anger joined that shock to make a type of emotion felt in such times.  It is one I do not wish to ever experience again.  I'm thankful that I saw the article on Facebook.  Had I not taken the time for a break it might have passed me by and I'd be upset because she was ignoring my messages.  I almost think I'd rather be dealing with that.


6)  My Visit To Alabama - Susan was a dear friend of mine.  I could do nothing in Kentucky.  I had to go to Alabama.  

I awoke the next morning with an intensity within.  Going to Alabama and finding out what happened was the only thing that filled my mind from the time I arose, through my morning shower, and to the time I sat down and discussed my thoughts with my wife.  I couldn't stand by and let things just happen.  I needed to be a part of it.  I needed to write a book about it!

No, it wasn't going to be another "In Cold Blood" as some have suggested since that morning.  I didn't know what it was going to be, but I was driven to do nothing else.  I cast aside all fiction and devoted myself to finding out what happened, why it happened, and what could be done to find the one(s) that did the heinous act.

I found out from my friend's son that the funeral was going to be that Friday.  So, I left my house in Kentucky at 8 pm Thursday night and began my journey.  I was met with a downfall that was so bad the truckers were doing less than 25 mph on the interstate because the visibility was so bad.  A deer crossed the road only yards ahead of me, forcing me to brake while knowing the semi behind me wouldn't be able to stop.  Somehow, he was able to avoid a collision.

I wondered, "Is this a warning?  Do I need to turn around and go back home?  Is God telling me not to go?"

Shaking my head, I proceeded down Interstate 65.  Within fifteen minutes, the skies had eased the downpour to a light drizzle.  Then, another hour and all was clear.  I knew it was my fate to move on.

I arrived in Brewton, Alabama at approximately 7 am.  I stopped by the newspaper office there wanting to talk to the editor that had covered the story.  Knowing it was a longshot, I found them closed.  On to option number two ... Flomaton, Alabama police station.  There, I was able to talk to a police officer that covered the crime.  We discussed all that he was allowed to discuss and became friends in the meantime.  Hitting it off, we later became friends on Facebook.  We'd both been in the military, and I'd done some time wearing the badge as a ship's Master-At-Arms on the USS Coronado.  It was a good common ground to work from.

My head swimming with the information I'd learned, I returned to Brewton and the newspaper office.  The editor was more than willing to talk to me and gave me some additional information that shocked me, but was needed for a partial picture of the "Why?" to form within.  She was more than gracious and I appreciate all she shared.

I then traveled back through Flomaton to Atmore, where the funeral was to take place.  I had a couple of hours to kill so I explored my old home.  I'd arrived there in 1979 to take a job at a radio station there.  It was a small town, but friendly in nature to outsiders.  I'd been taken to an old house where the station had procured the upstairs apartment for me.  Pulling the U-Haul truck around to the back of the house, I'd just started unloading my furniture and fighting to carry a couch up the stairs by myself when Susan had stuck her head out her bottom floor backdoor and asked me in for a cup of coffee.  We'd hit it off immediately as friends.  It was all I wanted at the time, and she was in a relationship anyway.  

The town had changed.  The Porch Band of Creek Indians had opened a gambling casino close to the interstate and had taken much of the town's business.  So much so, the main street was filled with empty storefronts.  Still, fast food places reigned supreme.

I drove all along the four ways into and out of Atmore, seeing the changes.  Some good, some bad, but changes just the same.  Returning to the funeral home, I entered an hour early.  I won't describe the emotions felt or the things that took place there.  Susan had talked about me to many of her friends about my comedy career and my books.  It was almost as if I was a celebrity of sorts to some.  After the service, I found myself going into the comedian character for a short time trying to raise spirits of those hurting.  It worked!  I'm thankful that I still have those skills.  As inappropriate as I felt it was, the smiles I was able to bring made it feel as if I was doing the right thing.  Many have become friends on Facebook since.  Maybe, it was as God intended.  Maybe, it was as Susan intended, too.


6)  My Return To Kentucky - Leaving the funeral, it was after 4 pm my time (Atmore was an hour behind as they are on Central Time). I filled up with gas and hit the interstate.  

To say I was an emotional mess would be making light of my state at the time.  I'd learned things I wished I hadn't but had been common knowledge there.  

It was no longer going to be a book of "Good vs. Evil", but one of "Things Going Wrong" in life.  I can't and won't go into detail, but people change in life for one reason or another.  We live in a time where the elderly are forced to pursue avenues to financially survive.  Unfortunately, these paths lead to dangerous territories where escape is not often an option.  It is sad that society has gone this direction, but it has happened.

I arrived home a little after 1 am Saturday morning.  I'd been at it for over thirty-two hours but was so wound up that it was another couple of hours before I could make myself go to bed.  My wife was thankful that I returned safe, but had worried as I'd ignored getting a room in which to sleep.  I was thankful that I hadn't felt the need to sleep anywhere along the way.  Adrenaline and the man upstairs had done their jobs.


7)  Since the Trip - Since returning from Alabama, my mind has been a wasteland.  I wanted to write, but couldn't.  Oh, I've tried a few times, but I might as well have been playing a football game on the computer.  I'm lost in what direction to go.  I know I need to write about the crime, but the story isn't complete.  No one has been arrested for the crime, so I can't go into the actualities as to why it occurred.  I don't have the details I need from the crime scene as it's still an open case.  I'm not asking the police officer to endanger his position by giving me any information beyond what he is technically allowed to state.  I do know that the FBI has some sort of involvement, but I don't know what type.  I'm in an area of "what direction do I go" at present time.

Common sense would tell me to go back to one of my other books that need attention.  I have made an attempt, but there are no creative juices flowing.  Fiction just isn't there right now in my brain.  Still, I'm thankful that I have the first two under my belt.  


8)  Conservatives vs. Liberals vs. Conservatives vs. Liberals  -  As my creativity has temporarily taken a vacation, I've spent more and more time analyzing where the United States is going.  We seem to have an overabundance of anger. Hell, let's call it as it is ... HATE!

In fact, the hate is so bad that a CBS VP announced this last week that she didn't have sympathy for the victims of the Vegas shooting because they were mostly Trump supporters. (Since when does a person's politics make them less human than another?) She was fired, but not for what she said, but because CBS was afraid they'd suffer ratings losses due to what she said.  The trouble isn't just her as this same sentiment was echoed many times on Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites.

We've become a divided nation, much like during the Civil War.  Friendships have been lost, and families separated.  There are three groups in America right now: 1) Liberals, 2) Conservatives, and 3) us folks in the middle looking at the other two shaking our heads at the stupidity being exhibited.  

The two extremes continue to wear blinders, neither willing to take them off.  They are allowing hate to ruin their lives without seeing what's happening.

A few of us were raised with a little common sense, unlike many that fill society today.  There was a concept back then that if you disagreed, you discussed the differences and came to a compromise. Today, people are unwilling to talk.  Oh, they love to preach it when it comes to political figures doing their jobs, but when personally faced with one that doesn't agree, there's no listening to what the other has to say.  It's worse than the late 60's when Buffalo Springfield first came out with "For What It's Worth."



"Nobody's right, and everybody's wrong."

Doesn't that mean anything to people?  No one nationally recognized political group can be completely right or wrong.  It's a fact of life. Both have their share of bad (I have to question if either side has any good).  So, why then is it happening?


It's a government of the rich succeeding in creating division within the masses. 

Why? People have strength when they fight as one. The government witnessed this strength in the early 70's when the two sides began to recognize that civil rights were needed and that the war was only for the profit of industry. We came together and forced laws to change and the war to be exited.  


The government doesn't want to see the people have that strength again.
Division means strong government control as the peons squabble.

We once knew "United We Stand and Divided We Fall", but today's society ignores that fact.  They're too busy blindly hating each other.


So, why am I thankful?

I'm thankful and hopeful there's time to change and perhaps enough people
will open their eyes to make change take place.  I have faith they can, 
but the question is, "Will they?"

Or will Hate win out?


9)  Indiana University Football - I'm thankful they're as sorry as always.  I'd hate to get my heart excited watching them actually becoming a contender.


10)  So, What Next? - If you've stayed with me this long (I know this is a novella size post), I'm thankful for you.  I know this wasn't my typical joking style, and it brings about a side of mankind that none of us like to believe exists.  But, there are times we have to honor our souls and write what's within.

I can't say a lot about what I've been doing lately, besides what's already been stated. Some of it may lead to a future book and some of it may lead to other important things.  Perhaps, today might be one of the most important things ... getting back to what I do best.  Writing may be a form of healing for me.  If so, this post is long enough to heal the dead.  Maybe I'll come back to life and creativity will flow again.



CIAO !




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Horror Across The Alley - An Author's Review


Hear Ye, Hear Ye ... I have returned!

Yes, it has been around six months since my last blog post.

Kind of forgot about me, didn't you?


No, over the last three months I've been writing and publishing a book.


Yes, miracles do take place, even in today's world.

Seriously, I decided to get off my duff (as others have been after me to do for years), and write a book.  So ... I did!





Now, you're probably saying to yourself, 


"Rich is known for sarcasm and humor. 
What the hell is this? Horror? Rich? 
You've got to be kidding!"

Actually, if you check out the tabs above, you'll see a couple for Gabriela, The Demon Cat. I wrote these many years ago on Hubpages and went through pure hell with their moderators. With the changes they required, the stories lost some of their substance. I got aggravated with the site and moved them all here.  (Check them out sometime if you get a chance, but remember they are covered by copyright laws.)

I was faced with a decision when determining the type of book to write. I could 1) make it a humorous fare and do my best to make people laugh  2) make it a political satire and demonstrate that politics are nothing more than a game to keep the rich from being bored, or 3) I could combine #1 & #2 and write a Horror story!

I picked #3 ... but with no politics whatsoever.

There were things I wanted to cover in this writing:

  1. Narcissism and Control Freaks,
  2. Sociopathic behavior,
  3. Love and the time it takes to develop trust,
  4. How fanatics can influence our lives and behaviors,
  5. What it's like to get old and find yourself not able to achieve the things you once did.
I attempted, and several of my advance readers have said I accomplished, to do this by intertwining the relationships of four couples and an outsider. It was my desire to get the reader to know the characters so they could make up their own minds on whether to love or hate them. One of my readers stated, "I couldn't believe it. You actually made me cry."

That was my intent in that part of the story.

Oh, and let's not forget, along with the human characters, Horror stories need a demon or ghost or monster or something involving the Paranormal to succeed. 

This one has that, too!

Now, my next task was to make the story unlike any other so that the ending would be unpredictable.  I think when you read this you'll find there are four surprises that take place, so you'll have to read it all the way through the Epilogue to find them. You may guess one of them, and those randomly shooting out possibilities may get two right, but the other two are surprises that you may find happy or sad. It's up to you.

If you're familiar with my writing, you know I strive to achieve what I call "Common Folk Language" or "Simpleze", both my own terms for what I work for. I remember having to pause time and time again to look up words in my youth and then fight to get the story line back. It's not my goal to educate one's vocabulary. Instead, my goal is to present a story in words simple enough for one to enjoy without having to stop and search a word's meaning. Some of the best storytellers in the world do so around a campfire, where no dictionary is present. And, after all, isn't fiction just storytelling?

Horror Across the Alley isn't your typical horror story. Many of today's writers concentrate totally on the entity and leave the people behind, or use them as throw away characters. People aren't meant to be treated that way.

So, in closing, Horror Across The Alley will make you wonder what's taking place the next time you hear a door slam or see new neighbors moving in next door. Are your neighbors enjoying life as they present themselves to be, or are they hiding secrets that shouldn't be shared? Where do you find safety when there is none? And, who or what are the enemies of whom we need to be wary.

Guess you're going to have to read it to find out!

I thank you in advance for doing so!