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 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.



  1. Wow. Please accept my sincere condoleces for the loss of your friend Susan. My prayer is that the crime is solved soon.

    While i'm not a writer, one thing a writer friend told me is that she writes every single day even if nothing is happening. Just making herself do it, even writing gibberish, eventually things come out and she breaks through and can get to what really needs to be said. Maybe some exercise like that would help you break through.

    The polarization in this country is alarming, and in part i think the media like it that way, it brings ratings up. We all know the dollar is almighty and if ratings go up, dollars come in. It's a sad commentary on what has happened to this nation.

    People do have a psychological reason for preferring to pay $1.99 as opposed to $2. Running your book for some price that ends in a nine might actually bring increased sales.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thankfuls!

    1. Mimi - Thanks so much for commenting. It means a lot.

      I'm aware of the sitting down to write practice and appreciate being reminded of it. There's always an excuse to find something else to do if one searches hard enough. Obviously, I'm been guilty of doing just that.

      I completely agree with your "media" statement. I'd originally made almost the same statement in this post, but cut it because of the length this post was becoming. I also didn't want to be accused of standing on a soapbox preaching. lol

      My book prices do end with .99. What I failed to make clear was that I'd run a "Freebie" and a ".99" promotion on the first, but not the second. I hated giving 426 Kindle copies of my first away, and found the lower price promotion almost as profitable. It's frustrating that it has become a habit of many to lower the value of books by doing that on a consistent basis. You spend months of your life writing a quality piece, and people expect to get it for practically nothing. Yes, there is a level of frustration there. But, I'll get over it. :)

      Thanks again for stopping by! It's greatly appreciated!

  2. Good for you taking early retirement to pursue your passion. Congratulations on the success of your books!
    I am so sorry for your loss. I can't even begin to imagine the feeling to have re-ignited a friendship only to lose that person under such violent circumstances.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting!

      Retirement is proving to be fun, but boring at times. I've learned that keeping track of what day of the week is not as easy as one would think when you're always at home. lol

      The books are doing okay, but I really need to get busy and market them better. Alas, another phase of writing that was never discussed beforehand.

      Losing a friend is never easy. The circumstances here didn't help. Yet, we must all gather ourselves up and move forward. It is what I would want my friends to do, and I know it is what she would've wanted.

      Again, thanks so much for dropping by. Many Thanks!

  3. Richard, you have my condolences. It must have been quite a shock to lose a friend in such a senseless way. Yes, it is important to move forward. I'm sure when you're ready, you will move in leaps and bounds.

    Oh, and congratulations on your books. That is quite an achievement.

    1. Zulma - It's so good to see you, my friend. I appreciate your words and concern. Life is filled with trials and tribulations. We all can allow them to be temporary stumbling blocks, but we must remember to make them only temporary.

      The books ... well, hopefully they'll only be the start of many. Keep your fingers crossed and I'll definitely do the same. :) Many Thanks!

  4. "Step outta line, the man'll come an take you A way."
    How incredibly long ago and (somehow) far away it was when that song was protest. As we can now know, they were singing protest to a rain shower before Noah pushed off in the ark.
    Good to 'see' you again!
    That writing things a bitch, ain't it? I mean the more success, the more difficult (parts of the process) become.
    Read your Items 5-7 with interest. There are stories we make up entirely within the confines of our ownselfs and there are stories that exist out there, in the real world. Good to 'see' you again.

    1. Hello old friend, good to 'see' you here!

      Did you ever wonder why we can remember the words of songs long gone by, but can't remember where we put our keys fifteen minutes ago? "For What It's Worth" is one of those songs (much like "Ohio" and "Fire and Rain") whose words are forever etched in my squishy mass of a brain.

      Writing is fun, while creating. I get caught up when editing and rewriting time comes around. I keep thinking, "Oh, I need to add this" or "Oh, I could move this two chapters back" and such. Still, when the published work is in print, there's no greater feeling.

      There are things that screw with your brain. Unexpected instances, such as my friends murder, tend to hit you hard. I think if there was a conclusion it would be easier to move on, but the killer(s) is still running free. There are so many "Whys" still unanswered that I became obsessed with them and finding them out. I can't say anything else right now, but we'll see how it plays out in the end.

      Thanks again for dropping by! Greatly appreciated!

  5. Welcome back to the TToT! I'm glad that you were able to take an early retirement; it sounds like your work environment wasn't ideal.

    Congratulations on publishing books!

    I'm so sorry about your friend. What a terrible thing to happen! I hope you can find the answers to your questions, and that you will know what direction to take with your writing.

    1. Hey, Kristi! Thanks for stopping in!

      You know, the first six months of retirement passed so quickly with me writing. I actually put in many more hours each day at the keyboard creating, editing, rewriting, and such, than I ever did while employed. The nice thing was that I could look at a finished product from time to time and feel great about having created it myself.

      Susan was, and will always be close to my heart. There are things I will not mention that have been discovered, but then we all have our hidden secrets. I still need to pursue the answers I must have to write a book that will do her justice. Unfortunately, the progress in finding her killer(s) has stalled, and without that, I'm at a standstill.

      Thanks again for stopping by and commenting! You know you're always welcome! :)

  6. Many good things to be thankful for here, I am thankful for the post just saying

    1. Hey Jo-Anne, good to see you again!

      Thanks for stopping in and commenting. Glad you hung in there through it all. Once a writer gets started, it's hard to stop. lol Many Thanks!

  7. I am so sorry about your friend and her husband. Congratulations on writing and publishing a book, that is impressive.

    1. Hello, Ellen, so good to meet you. I don't remember you being a part of TTOT when I was doing my weekly entries. Good to see you here.

      Life isn't easy. Sometimes the surprises it tosses your direction are wonderful, and sometimes you wish they'd been tossed elsewhere. I'm looking at my friend's murder as an opportunity to push myself into a different writing direction than my first two books. We'll see how it comes out in the end.

      Thanks for stopping in!

  8. Wow! I was delighted to see you joining us, and what a comeback you've made! This was some intense reading and very thought provoking. I saw many reasons to be thankful in the midst of tragedy and shock. I can only pray that justice will actually occur in the case of your friend, and that somewhere in the hereafter there is forgiveness and understanding.

    I share your views about the state of our country and the blindness of those who shout at each other from either side. Divided we fall is indeed a terrifying possibility that keeps many of us from sleeping well at night.

    I am happy to read about the completion of your books and the delightful success of the first one. I suspect the second one will catch on in due to time too. I know the relief of finally being able to walk away from a job that was gnawing at your soul. Being home is a blessed relief. May you find the perfect direction for your future, it sounds like doors are opening, and perhaps Susan has a hand in that! :-) Thank you so much for sharing with us, I hope to see you at TToT from now on!

    1. Hey, Josie, thanks for stopping in!

      Usually, I use humor and satire in my TTOT's. Some like it and some ... well, some have no sense of humor. lol I enjoy putting a smile on a person's face and removing some of the stress that we all go through. In addition, I do my best to get people to think. Too often, we let our minds go saggy and let others persuade us. As long as we've got the ability for individual thought, we need to use it. I try to provide that stimuli.

      This was more of a "let me catch you up" type of post. It's been a while since I've written anything for a blog and thought it best to do it on this thread. The reactions and comments have been much better than expected, for sure.

      I appreciate all your kind words. I'm kind of in a weird state at present, but slowly bringing myself back to where I need to be. We all have temporary setbacks. It's a matter of pulling oneself out of them and moving on.

      I may not be a weekly contributor to TTOT, but I promise I'll be back more often. Many Thanks!

  9. I share with the others in these comments, in wishing you a huge congratulations for writing and publishing multiple books this year, and since retiring. That is amazing and inspiring.

    On the flip side, what happened to your old friend sounds like a real tragedy and I offer my deepest condolences to you.

    I hope your country can come together, but the nasty attitudes and unwillingness to give and compromise even a little doesn't bode well. I won't stop hoping things will take a turn for the better, sooner than later.

    Hope you enjoy your freedom now that you are retired and welcome back to the TToT. Keep up the writing.

    1. Hello, Kerry, so good to see you stop in.

      Thank you for your kind words. The book sales will improve once I begin marketing, I'm sure. I released it as a lot of people were doing school shopping for their kids and I recognize that budgets only stretch so far. I'm running a .99 Kindle version special through Sunday, so that should help spread the word.

      The country, well, who knows. I've never seen so many people with so much hate in them. Even during the protests of the 60's, there was much more compromise and understanding. Of course, We weren't raised believing that we were always right, nor did we feel that life owed us our way. Things change. I hope, one day soon, an awakening will take place.

      Thanks again for commenting. Greatly appreciated!

  10. Dear Rich,

    This has been quite the year for you...

    As for me, I'm grateful to have you in my world - my wonderful Bro.

    Love you and hugs, Maria (Sis)

    1. Hey, Sis, so good of you to stop in!

      Yes, this year has been quite outside the norm, to say the least. Still, there are the two standards present that I can always count on ... IU football being terrible and you standing by my side (of which I am sincerely grateful, too).

      Thanks, again! Luv ya, Sis! :)