Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Get This E-mail, See......

I've never had a LOT of money. By a LOT, I mean enough where I didn't have to go to the salt mines and punch in every lot where I could just retire and do what I love and want to do without the distraction of wondering how I'm going to pay my bills. That's what I mean by a lot of money. I've never had that.

In fact, for most of my grown up working life, money has run from me like a scalded dog. I've tried a couple of entrepreneurial runs and lost my rear in the process. It's not like I haven't tried to get over the hump of poordom (new word). I tried it the stupid way by working hard and trying to climb up the old ladder the way my daddy told me it needed to be done. Only problem was there was always somebody else pushing against my face with the sole of their dirty shoe as they climbed past me.

I've been dead broke, homeless, bankrupt and almost destitute in many areas of my life's history. Now, I get this e-mail yesterday. I read it. Then, I read it again. After that, I get some coffee and go sit on the porch and pontificate over it. I leave the coffee and go back to the computer, printing out the e-mail. I go back to the porch and read it again. All I can do is shake my head and think....okay, this can't be real. The safest approach here is to go ahead and chalk it up as another red herring in life, allow it to play out and then say to yourself when it's over, "See? I told you so."

My agent asked the producers a question I would have never dreamed of asking at this point in the process. The main reason I wouldn't ask is because I'm like Jeremiah Johnson. I ain't never been here before and don't know what the protocol is. The question was how much? How much did they think a cable TV series would garner for us. You see, I was under the impression they were pitching this thing as a mini-series...because that's what they said before the meetings took place. The answer was one that caused many red flags to fly up in the air and hang suspended, warning me of impending doom. The reason is that's they way it's been in my life. Very little REALLY good has ever happened to me. The last ten years have been good financially, but in between there's been deaths in the family, heart attack, major heart surgery and almost death, recovery, loss of job, new job, loss of job, new job and other personal quirks that have dampened the progress I've made in my career so far.

The reason I'm so skeptical of the answer is because I've never been involved in a conversation where the subject was me and a pay off of over a million dollars. What the producer said next shocked me. She said in the second season it would be a great deal more. Hold the phone! Second season? We asked for clarification. The response was a complete surprise. They started pitching this as a mini-series, like Hatfields & McCoys, but the moguls in the meetings started seeing it more as a series series. that will run...if successful...for three or four seasons. If it is popular, and continues on, each successive year would see a higher rate of profit. For me. The old saying keeps coming in front of my brain. "If it's too good to be true, then it probably is."

I know that I'm sailing in uncharted waters and that there are thousands of meat eating sharks swimming around my leaking boat. To come out of this unscathed would be too much to ask for. To be mentioned in the same breath as seven figures leaves me more in a state of doubt than a state of euphoria. My excitement level has diminished, and the only reason is because I just don't see and can't see anyone handing that kind of cash over to me...ever. At the moment, I can't do anything else but ride this out and see what lies on the horizon. From my viewpoint, there's a red sky at morn. That tells me...sailor, be warned. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Don't Get It

To many of you this will come as no surprise. There are many of you out there, skulking in the web shadows...that firmly believe I don't get any of it. And, maybe I don't. But that's another post.

Our government is thinking about attacking another country, that hasn't attacked us...has no real impact on our national interests (like Iraq did...I'll explain later)...and possesses no clear side that a reasonable person could classify as 'friendly' to the United States. Syria has long been an ally with, first the Soviet Union and now simply Russia, and Iran. Even China is saber rattling over Obama just thinking about military action.

If we're going to cruise missile Assad over three-hundred people being killed in a chemical attack...then it's only logical to cruise missile everywhere that has three-hundred or more people murdered. Hell, we'd all have to go into our bunkers. We'd be safe at first, because Chicago would take the initial strike. That would be our clue to 'hunker' down.

It was necessary to go into Iraq the second time, and not for WMD's. That was just the excuse. The real reason is Dubya didn't take kindly to Saddam trying to assassinate his daddy. Us Texicans get a little riled when somebody tries to kill our daddy. 9/11 angered the country and there were calls nationwide for some kind of action. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iran were behind the Iraq invasion with their blessing. Not as allies, but for their own interests, of course. We knew Osama was in Afghanistan, and there was a rebel army in the north that was welcoming to our presence. Iraq, however, was the real prize. By getting rid of Saddam, efforts to destabilize the monarchies that surrounded him would be crippled. By keeping these regimes in power, you keep the oil flow going at full speed. Why that's important is in the next paragraph. The first invasion was completely necessary when George the First was in office. In the early 90's, Iraq had not been out of its eight year war with Iran but a little more than three years. This war killed hundreds of thousands on both sides and sent shock waves throughout that portion of the world. From that moment on, the powers that surrounded Iraq were nervous. Then, through the loose lips of one of our ambassadors, Saddam felt like he had a green light to kick Kuwait's tiny hiny. He was angry at the Kuwaiti's...for good evidential reason, it was found out...because they were happily going about the business of conducting directional drilling from their side and tapping into Iraq's oil reserves on that side. An international no-no. When he marched into Kuwait, the red phones in every government mansion across the globe started ringing off the walls.

The lion's share of the world's oil goes through the Persian Gulf. Men rule there with riches that our most vivid dreams can't even conjure. With those riches comes immense power. It is enough power to reach out to the strongest military the world has ever seen and summon it to action. The entire economy of this planet is based on petroleum. If the flow stops...the world's economy stops. It's as simple as that. When the oil starts running out...and it will run out....pray that you will not be alive when that happens. Wars like have never been witnessed before will take place over the tiniest of oil fields. The flow of oil through the Persian Gulf must be protected as a matter of world peace, instead of there being world war; as long as the oil holds out.

So, why Syria? Why do we ring our hands over a civil war that's happening eight thousand miles away? What's the UN for? Why is it the U.S. that has to sail and fly to every crap hole in the world to help people that hate us, don't want us there, try to kill us when we get there, and hate us when we leave? No matter which side we assist? The only reason I can think of is Israel. I read an article yesterday that there's one thing you can't find in Israel right now if you want to buy it. A gas mask. The Israelis have bought them all up and supply can't keep up with demand. Could it be they know something that the rest of us peasants over here don't? There are indications right now that Assad is winning the war. They need to let him do that. The only thing those people respect and understand over there is a strong arm dictator or a king of royal blood that hands down decrees. If the rebels win, there are so many factions among them the killing will only continue until one remains. And, who will that be? Will it be some terrorist madman with his hands on tons and tons of chemical weapons, that evidence now shows was trucked in from Iraq while the impotent UN Inspectors dawdled around and allowed Saddam to move them like puppets? Will it be the opportunity they've been looking for to kill not only three thousand, but three hundred thousand? How can it be good for the rest of the world for Assad to fall, and then be replaced by one ten times more wicked than he?

Obama is taking a big risk if he attacks Syria. The smaller risk is to do nothing, and let the chips fall. They started it...let them finish it, or get finished. It's none of our business. Ya know...maybe I get it after all.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

We're Number One

A good friend of mine sent me a poll that was taken about our fair country...the good ole U. S. of A. Now, I don't agree with him very much, because he's a diehard liberal socialist who prays to Charles Darwin every night and has been banished by all decent folk to the desert...forever. We hope. Anyway, I was extremely pleased by the results of the poll. Let me tell you why.

Many questions were asked so the responder could vote which State best described the issue posed. There were two that delighted me to no end. One was that of all the States one would like to see kicked out of the union, Texas was voted as their first choice. Naturally, when the question came up as to which State they disliked the was Texas.

I guess my first question is what's the hold up? We want out so bad we can taste it. It pleases me that if we did decide to try and secede again, we might not have the blessed opposition we had the first time. Sounds like everyone would be glad to throw a parade on our way out. I'd be glad to be in it. The only reason we got into this mess to begin with is because we were broke. In 1836, we didn't quite have the infrastructure that's in place today. It only got worse by 1861 and the rest is history. Our gross domestic product rivals that of 90% of other industrialized countries. We have the ports, the industry and the downright wherewithal to go it alone...thank you very much. And, you think you're paying for gas now? Wait 'til we choke the ole spicket until you cough up some more cash. Most of you have no idea how many 36" pipelines go from this State to all you tree huggers screaming about oil and driving your SUV's at the same time. Those pipelines? They carry nothing but gasoline so you can drive your SUV's. The Exxon refinery in Baytown, Texas refines more than five-hundred thousand barrels of oil every single day. That's just ONE of our refineries.

As far as the other 49 not liking us? That's a laugher. Hell, read your history and see how much consternation there was in Congress when we petitioned to join. While all you pretend history-hacks get red faced over how the Civil War was all about slavery, the induction of Texas in the union was the initial stepping stone leading to the Civil War. We haven't been liked since day one. What's more, we like not being liked. That only adds to the unique character of its inhabitants and the enigma that surrounds our way of life and history.

We like being able to tell y'all that Texas is the only State in the union that used to be its own country. We like telling y'all that Texas is the only State that can legally fly its flag at equal height to the U.S. flag. We like telling y'all that Texas has the right to split itself into five States. I wish we would. That would give us more conservative representatives and senators and MAN that would mess you all up. We like telling y'all that the San Jacinto Monument, just outside of Houston, is eighteen inches taller than the Washington Monument in D.C. Yeah...we're better than George 'freakin' Washington. We like telling y'all that we won't stop 'clinging' to our guns and religion, because when it gets right down to it, those are the only two things that keep a man free. We like telling y'all that we have another oil boom goin' on down heah, and the Eagle Shale is one more reminder why we don't feel the economy's pinch as bad you do because of it. We like telling y'all that we firmly believe everything is bigger in Texas. And, we mean EVERYTHING. But what we like telling y'all out there beyond the borders of the greatest State in the union...the Lone Star State...the least liked and most wanted of the U.S.A. State to be gone....what we REALLY like telling y' this.....

Screw you...we're from Texas.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I'm Missing Something Tonight

I'm missing my childhood. It's very easy to remember the early days, and quite difficult sometimes to recollect what someone just told me. Sad, really.

By the time I was about twelve years old, I was permitted to stay with my grandparents during the summer. That's what I miss the most. Then, there's the years we lived in the same, small town and summer became year round until I moved away.

I would ride to town with my grandfather in the mornings. He would get the mail and stop by the Brammer's to get a few groceries that Nan, my grandmother, needed and then we'd always stop by Mr. Teel's so he could shoot the breeze with a few other old timers. After that, we would go and deliver eggs to his customers. He sold them for fifty cents a dozen. My grandfather kept nearly a hundred chickens next to the house and it kept him in spending money and us in fried chicken.

We would coon hunt around his ten acre corn field and I'd play 'army' in the barn and use a big washtub, a stick and some string (using bread for bait) and try to trap as many of the feral cats that lived around there as I could at one time. I think my record was five. I thought it was so funny to hear them thumping on that washtub trying to get out. Yes...I was cruel in those days. What's your point?

I would climb up the china berry tree and pretend I was a pirate...I guess a tree pirate...and fill my uncle's tractor's gas tank up with china berries. He tried to get me to confess, but I knew it would be my certain death if I did. It took him all afternoon to stab those berries with a sharpened stick and he was not very happy.

The lightning bugs were very plentiful when I was a kid. I would take a mason jar and catch as many as I could and put them in it. Sometimes I could fill the jar and it was almost like having a magic lantern. On July 4th, I would buy as many Black Cat firecrackers as my grandparents would allow. That's when I declared war on the biggest fire ant mound I could find. There were a few occasions when I blasted them onto ME. This would cause me to create a new dance. None of them became a fad, but we didn't have YouTube back in those days.

Then, there was the food. You can have all the experience in the world as a chef or a cook, but if you don't put love into what you prepare, it will never taste as good as grandma's. My grandmother's chicken and dumplings was the cat's meow. Her homemade hamburgers were the best I've ever had....EVER. Thanksgiving was the bomb at Nan's. Talk about "puttin' on the dawg"!!! And never has there ever been a better batch of mayhaw jelly than what she could make. She would stand over a skillet for over an hour, frying a huge batch of yellow squash for me. The plate would be rounded over with this breaded delight and all I needed to do was add salt and pepper to taste.

Would I go back? No. I didn't even have to think about it. This journey of life is quite interesting and the things I've learned about myself and others...along with all the other knowledge and wisdom I may have acquired along the way...was not even imagined by me back then. No, I was a man of the wilderness, huntin' bar. Or, I would buy some comic books and lay down on the porch swing for hours and get lost in a make believe world. Even though I write mostly fiction, I do it because it's fun. But do I have a penchant for that realm? No, again. I like reality. In all it's forms, both beautiful and ugly. Still, I miss those times. They were simpler and less clogged with responsibilities and bills and work and so on.

The memories are enough. They're good memories, that bring a smile to my face. I think they are there to ease the weight of our reality sometimes. And that's not such a bad thing.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Keeper's Dare Update

The producers contacted us last night and advised the presentation was finished from the research materials I sent them. The next best news was they have scheduled a meeting for this coming Thursday with a major cable network, to pitch the screenplay.

In addition, the plan is to set up further meetings in the coming three to four weeks with other potential movie moguls...if necessary. I liked that. 'If necessary'.

One of my friends was nervous...for some reason...they might try to steal the work. That would be almost impossible. Both the book and the screenplay are registered with the U.S. Copyright office. The screenplay has also been registered with the Writer's Guild Association, in my name. But...notice I said...almost. Gulp.

Anyway, they are keeping in contact and on the surface it looks like progress is being made. All I have to do now is try to keep from biting my fingernails up to the second knuckle on each finger before next Thursday. That's my goal. It's not much of a goal but there it is.

Everything will be quiet on the western front until Thursday night or beyond. I'm sure by Friday they will have some news for us. Until then, we wait.

Short blog post...but that's all I got. Have a great weekend.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

First Draft Almost Complete

My latest novel is near 'first draft' completion. I'm now more than 90,000 words into it and will probably reach a hundred thousand by the time I'm finished. Then comes the two or three read-throughs to catch as many grammatical and spelling errors as possible. Plus, there will be places where I realize there should be a little more descriptive writing or a little less and add/delete as necessary.  After that, it goes on the shelf.

At that time, I'll have two novels waiting in the wings. My sci-fi and this one will wait a while before I shop them around. The murder mystery I started over a year ago still sits at 65,000 words. I have to get my mind ready to finish that one. It's been languishing too long. There has been such a time lapse with it that I will most likely have to read what I have in order to remember the plot line. It shouldn't take more than four or five weeks to finish it, and then I'll have three novels to market.

I'm a little apprehensive to put any more out there. I want to see how The Keeper's Dare screenplay works out. As expected, all was quiet last week with the producers...except for one unexpected contact. On Thursday, I found a request to connect on LinkedIn waiting for me from one of the producers. No message, or anything like that, just a 'connect' request. I thought, 'Can't hurt' and pushed 'confirm'. The initial agreement was signed and returned on Monday. I don't expect to hear anything this week, either. Nor the next. I don't want to 'expect' anything...that way I don't get disappointed. If it happens, it happens.

Going back to the book I'm about to finish; I've had a great time writing it. For the first time I've written a book in the same genre as one of my others. The story fell into my lap and I was quite surprised to see that a fictional account of a certain place in the old west has never been written. I couldn't believe my luck and didn't want to let any grass grow before I pounded one out. My daughter says it's a very unique way of telling a I've let her have sneak peeks for the last month. Believe me...if she didn't think it was, she wouldn't say it. She's tough on dad and his writing.  While I am not too keen on revealing what it's about or where and when it's placed, I will tell you that it is based on a town that actually existed, and that its existence came about purely by mistake. Two orphans, a ten year old boy and a twelve year old girl, are thrust into the middle of this violent and lawless place, where the reader sees through their eyes the depths that men can go to when their passions and lusts are left unbridled; and how the human spirit...even in ones so young...can adapt and survive, keeping its humanity intact. Colorful and flamboyant characters come in and out, bringing to the story...what I a level of excitement and intrigue. While the place is historical, the account I've written is purely fictional; except for a few names, places and incidents I've used to keep it 'real'. Other than that, I've adopted a loose license to bring it and the characters to life...I hope.

Hell's Gunman has received several plaudits from those who have read it so far. I've gotten messages on FB and my e-mail telling me how much they enjoyed the story. A friend of mine from high school gave it a five star rating on Amazon, and I appreciate it very much.

For those of you who have supported me in any way, I wish to thank you very much. Many friends have been cheerleading for my success and some have put their money where their mouth is. To date, none have told me they were disappointed in doing so. It is this kind of support from family and friends that encourages me to keep writing out the stories that are in my head. I'm on a roll right now, and I don't want to stop until I have them on 'paper'. Everyone needs support, regardless of the endeavor. It motivates and gives a person's spirit the drive to continue. Thanks again to all who have supported me in ANY way. You are the grease that keeps my writing wheels turning. I hope you have a great Sunday, and great week coming up. Take care.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Say It Ain't So....

I couldn't believe my eyes this morning when I read that Heidi Fleiss, the Beverly Hills Madame, was found with 390 marijuana plants in Nevada...with all the growing equipment and chemicals to git 'er done. Hasn't her fifteen minutes been used up already?  Now, here's the kicker. She also had two-hundred thousand dollars worth of rare birds on her property. The cops took the plants, destroyed the equipment, disposed of the chemicals....and left. The reason they didn't arrest this notorious bimbo is because they couldn't find, or didn't know, anybody that could care for the birds. The case has been turned over to the D.A. for review and possible charges could be forthcoming.

Johnny Gooden, Jr. walks into a bank in Bryan, Texas. He tells the cashier that Michelle Obama messaged him on Facebook and delivered the news that she had adopted him. THEN, he tells the cashier to access Michelle Obama's bank account and give him some money. Since he was the President and First Lady's son, they said he could have some of their money. The cashier...not having been born YESTERDAY, calls the police while Mr. Gooden calmly waits for his money. The police arrive and...of course...they check for warrants. Seems Mr. Gooden is a wanted man in Brazos County for Resisting Arrest and Assaulting a Public Servant. (I must warn you the next part sounds like one of those TV commercials) But WAIT! There's MORE! After searching Mr. Gooden, he just happens to have a little baggie of marijuana on his person; which resulted in an additional charge of possession. No word yet on whether or not his parents are going to give him the money for....BAIL.

So, here we have Heidi Fleiss, a woman who was sentenced to two years in prison as a hooker / madame / sleeze....and Johnny Gooden, Jr. Probably...well...most likely a mental case. If you could see his mug shot, he immediately comes off as someone not all there. Drugs? Who knows? Yet, Gooden is taken directly to jail. Fleiss, on the other hand, has almost four-hundred marijuana plants growing on her property but can't be taken to jail because of two-hundred thousand dollars' worth of birds????  I'm incredulous.

I want to go on record here that I'm not joking from this point. These are the types of comparisons that get black Americans angry. Heidi Fleiss is some kind of sick celebrity and she's white. Not taken to jail. Johnny Gooden, Jr. is a nobody with no money, no notoriety and very little support AND he's black. Taken straight to jail. I believe that Mr. Gooden should have been taken to jail. BUT!!! I also believe that Heidi Fleiss should have been taken straight to jail. If you look at the law, that's what's supposed to happen when you break it. But, black Americans see the same news stories I do. And, if I were them, this would make me angry, too. This double standard that exists in our country is becoming more and more prevalent as each day passes. Yes, I have taken two stories among the thousands out there and I haven't compared them all. But, neither have the blacks that read these things. And it makes them angry. And, quite frankly, I don't blame them. Not taking Heidi Fleiss to jail was a slap in the face to every law abiding citizen in this country; regardless of ethnicity. The police officers, their superior officer and his superior officer on up should issue a nationwide apology to us all for not doing their job. The birds would have survived long enough for her to bail out or for them to get somebody in there to tend to them. It was blatant favoritism to a quasi-elite. If it was good enough for her, why wasn't it good enough for Johnny Gooden, Jr?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Show No Fear

Back before the turn of the century, I went to a company in Houston that guaranteed they could train you to effectively market yourself in whatever field of occupation you were in. I made an appointment and went in for the first meeting. Here was where they explained what all they could do for me. It was a pretty good pitch, but I was still skeptical. At that time, I had never made more than $15 dollars an hour in my life. So, when they told me their six month training program would cost me four-thousand dollars, my heart sank. I didn't have it. When I told my wife about it, we both decided it was probably too good to be true and forgot about it. A few days later, a relative of mine allowed me to use four-thousand dollars of theirs to try it out. I went in with much skepticism, but adhered to what they taught me and then put it into action. My next job paid me $24 per hour, and I thought I was rich after the first paycheck. I had never seen one that large. After that, the next spot in the employment market paid me $30 an hour. At this writing, that's chicken feed compared to my salary now.

The one thing this company taught me that I consider, to this day, as invaluable to me, was to show no fear during the interview and salary negotiating process. Prior to this training, I had always gone into a job interview with my hat in hand, being all subservient and humble. I had the 'whipped puppy dog' look down to a 'T'. "Please, Mr. Big Boss Man, may I have a low paying job so I can work hard at starving to death until you decide to throw me a piece of a bone?" That was me.

I was amazed at how well the training worked in the real world. Not only amazed, but transfixed on how I might be able to better my skills at interviewing and negotiating. I can honestly tell you that every job I've had since that time has resulted in a better position, a higher salary, and other perks I didn't possess at my last place of employment. Gone are the days of working for a company for thirty years, getting a gold watch and walking away with a measly pension as 'thanks' for slaving away the best years of your life for a pittance.

In 2010, this company had been pursuing me for six weeks. They finally called and asked me to come in, advising they were ready to give me an offer to come to work for them. After I arrived and went into the conference room, we all met, shook hands, exchanged pleasantries and got some coffee. I then sat down with the three men sitting around the table. I will swear in court the first words spoken to me....about being hired...was "Well, how much do you want?" It was at that moment I knew I was dealing with amateurs and that I had won. That first question put all the leverage they may have had right into my lap. I responded by saying, and I'm telling the truth...."I want a million dollars a day." The three laughed and nodded and then the guy says, "No, much do you want?" I said, "I want a million dollars a day. I know I won't get it, but you didn't ask me how much I thought I could get. You asked me how much I wanted." Before any of them could say anything, I continued. "You guys came to me. I have a good job with a good salary that I'm not particularly in a hurry to leave. I'm secure there. So, it's your responsibility to give me an offer and let me see if it passes my smell test. If I give you a number, then I'm either going to price myself out of a job or leave money on the table. You have already made up your mind that I could be valuable to your company. You already know what the pay scale is for the position, I don't." We discussed a few more things and they agreed to give me an offer. That afternoon, I received an e-mail from them, offering me forty-two thousand dollars more a year than I was already making. It was a no-brainer godfather offer for me. I don't go into interviews 'afraid' or hat in hand anymore. I walk in with confidence and consider myself equal to those I'm speaking with.

The reason I'm telling you all this is because some don't want me to go into negotiations with these film producers without an attorney by my side to do it for me. First, I don't want a lawyer...or a team of lawyers...walking into the negotiating room with me. It gives the appearance that I am not willing to speak with them in good faith and these vultures charge an hour when they text you. Why do I want to give away thousands of dollars before I even make thousands of dollars. As long as I don't sign anything, no harm no foul. I have already retained an attorney to review any documents they send to me. If we actually get to the bargaining table, I will be there with my agent and there will be no others on my side. We will talk and cuss and discuss. When they tender an offer, that's when I will politely tell them I will need about a week to confer with my agent and my family. And THAT'S when I will call an Entertainment Attorney. He or she will have two hours to review the contract and one hour to advise me on what it layman's terms...and where we are getting screwed. I will expect the attorney to advise on how to proceed and I'll take it from there. I will repeat this process until we hammer out an agreement or until it becomes evident they aren't serious about filming the work.

Never walk into negotiations unless you are fully prepared to walk out...with nothing. The situation here is no different than with the company I told you about. The film producers have leverage with their money. I have leverage with the story THEY want. It will be a nice chess match to see who abandons their leverage first. In a way, they have come to me. Their responsibility is the same as the company. Tell me what you think it is worth, and I'll tell you if it passes my smell test. I know this...I will not sell my work for a song, even just for the opportunity to get in the door of this industry. Everyone else gets paid big in a movie...the director, the actors, the hundreds of people involved in the why not the writer?

I doubt this time that I will be dealing with amateurs. This is unchartered waters I'm swimming in, and I'm quite sure there are more sharks circling than at a South African beach. As long as my signature isn't on paper...there isn't anything that can go wrong at this stage. I've done my research, I've done my due diligence, and I know what I want and how to get it. The key is what I learned for four-thousand dollars several years ago. fear. Even if you're scared to death.

Friday, August 9, 2013

New (and Old) Projects

It is very difficult to keep from being excited about the prospect of selling my screenplay to The Keeper's Dare. I never dreamed of getting this far; never imagined it. It's like looking across a great divide and the landscape in front of you is black. You know it will be impossible to penetrate it, but you just have to try. You don't listen to the naysayers. You ignore the ones who don't support you. And you reach deep down inside and find the will to go on. Even if this thing falls through, which the chances are very good it will...I will still have gotten this far. Feels good. The Keeper's Dare novel is my bestseller, but I hope Hell's Gunman catches up.

Speaking of Hell's Gunman, the book party is tomorrow and I can't wait to see everybody. If everybody turns out to be two...then I'll still be happy to see everybody. We're going to have a good time.

The western I'm writing at the moment somehow became the priority. The story is flowing really well and while writing I see it so vividly I can anticipate what's coming deep into the plot. It helps me to establish the foundation that builds up to those points...which, in turn, allows me to improve the flow. I don't know how it happens and I wish I knew how to increase its longevity. If this continues, I could be finished with it in three or four weeks. The same thing happened on Hell's Gunman. It only took two months to pound it out. I'm beginning to think the Western is a genre that I better relate to. Whether it not it relates to the reader is what is most important. If it doesn't, the work is useless if it only relates to the writer. Except, of course, the pride in knowing it is yours and yours alone.

My science fiction novel is on the shelf and ready to be sent out to publishers. But I've been so busy with Hell's Gunman and the effort to sell the screenplay, I didn't want to get involved in that, either. I still have to do my 40 hours a week at the cubicle just like everybody else. Besides, I wanted to see how the screenplay and the new book fare.

The murder mystery I began more than a year ago is still languishing on the sideline, like a forlorn second string quarterback who hasn't gotten to play a down in a real game for two years. I like the story. Don't get me wrong. I like the characters and I like how the book is playing out. But, for some reason I got to a certain point and lost my way. Hell, even I don't know yet whodunit. I haven't decided. I have about six really good suspects I could pin it on...but I just can't make up my mind. I'll have to read what I've written when I get back to it so I can remember what it was about. For all my Hardin County, Texas friends, the setting for the story is Hardin County.

I've started working on a synopsis and character creation for a 'road trip' story. This will be my first attempt at a comedy/action/adventure novel, and I'm excited about the plot and sub-plots that have been thought out. Will I finish the murder mystery first? I don't know.

Two chapters of a zombie book have been written. Over a year ago. Nothing else to tell you about that. I'm sure the murder mystery will be finished before I consider it again.

That's it for now. Hope to see all of you at the party.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Musing for my 200th Blog Posting

When one of us tries to climb out of the pool of mediocrity, there are more than enough people ready to push us back down into the masses...where they reside as well. What surprises us the most, is the big stick being used to keep us down is usually operated by those who we refer to as 'friends'. They don't mind being drawn in to the circles of those who have already climbed from the pit and gained some notoriety, as long as they didn't know them 'when'. It's like a code with many people. "Since you weren't anything when I first met you, there's no need to think you'll be anything in the future. And, if you try to be, you're just being ridiculous."

I, for one, would be ecstatic to see a friend of mine suddenly win the lottery or break out with a new widget the whole world was clamoring for. It would be great if one of my friends invented the cure for every disease everywhere and was able to market it and become the medical genius of all time. But, that's just me.

The fact is there are a lot of jealous people out there who don't even want those they know to TRY and better themselves or break out into an unknown realm and venture where angels fear to tread. Why is that? Have you ever seen Good Will Hunting? I've never understood the mentality of not wanting to see people you know have a break-out moment in their lives. Even my wife is bad about it. Throughout our nearly 35 years, I've come to her with certain ideas and mostly been met with a frown followed by a scowl followed by..."That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard." And, for the most part, she was right. But, what about a little support? What about a little encouragement? What's wrong with a little prop-up?  I ignored her one time and spent $17,000, our life's savings at the time, on a project I was sure would make us rich. It didn't. And, I lost it. Took a while for her to speak to me after that one.

When I started writing more than twenty years ago, it was just a hobby to take my mind off all our troubles. Poetry was my first love, and I still pound a poem out every now and then. After that, I sat down to write a short story. A year and 183,000 words later, I wrote THE END to Deathjester; The Legend of Battleblade. It was my first attempt at writing and I don't recommend its purchase. I need to go back and have a re-do. I wrote the small book about my daughter we lost, and then a behind the scenes non-fiction about Southern Baptist pastors and the trials they go through. Then, I began my research on The Keeper's Dare. Seven years I spent...not interviewing and studying, internet searching, court documents/newspaper/log book reading and many miles of driving. Finally, while living in Wokingham, England, I began to write the book. To date, it is my best seller and, hope beyond hope, it will be made into a motion picture and catapult me out of the oil field. My wife was always poo-pooing my endeavor, but I ignored usual.

It was then I developed my idea for a fictional crime/detective story based in Houston. I titled it, The Last Medal. For the first time in my marriage, after my wife read the book, she came to me and said it was one of the best stories she's ever read. And she doesn't even like that genre. From that point on, she has been encouraging me, supporting me and propping me up when I get down about the slowness of this process.

People who are helped, or just given a kind word of encouragement...most people...won't forget it. I am one of those. On the other hand, I am also one of those who won't forget the lack of it from people I would expect it from. My mother's side of the family has ostracized me over The Keeper's Dare. My father's side...most of them...never had much use for me and I say, "Right back atcha." to those it applies to. You know who you are. For the most part, I only have my wife, daughter and few friends upon which I can draw encouragement.

John McClain, a journalist for the Houston Chronicle, tweeted about my writing endeavors and even wrote a small article about me and my books in the paper. And all this was without asking him to do so. I advised him, via e-mail, it was one of the most unselfish acts anyone has ever done for me. He's a sports writer, for Pete's sake. Why would he take valuable space to write about a virtually unknown author? Because, he's my friend. And right now, I would take a bullet for John McClain if called upon to do so.

For those of you who joke with me about my writing and what my chances are to make it big, this isn't about you. That is your way of telling me that you won't allow me to let it go to my head. I need people like that around me. For those of you who do encourage me and tell me to keep plugging away, you are invaluable to me and I thank you. But, there are those out there who are serious about not wishing to see me succeed in this arena. To them I say, have a great life. And, stay out of mine.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Riley Cooper

George Zimmerman should send Riley Cooper a thank you letter, a dozen roses, and a box of chocolates. Thanks to Cooper's gaff at a Kenny Chesney concert in Philadelphia, Zimmerman has, at least momentarily, fallen off the radar.

Riley Cooper, a player (for now) for the Eagles, forgot two very important things. We live in a terrifying technological age and if you're any kind of celebrity you need to keep your mouth shut when it comes to anything remotely controversial.

Because, if you don't, there are a lot of people out there who aren't as successful as you, fortunate as you, and are jealous of you. For no other reason than they just want to, people stand in line to tear you down to their level.

I, personally, have no idea why anyone wants to use the 'N' word in conversation or would even think to use it in any type of conversation, angry or not. It's a base 'cracker'...and shouldn't be used in any context. But, just because someone uses either doesn't make them a racist or a bigot. It just makes them absent minded, stupid or both. Absent minded by not thinking before speaking. Stupid for thinking the statement won't come back to haunt  you.

None of us know what type of person Riley Cooper is deep down. Even his team mates don't know. If they had, some of them wouldn't have been shocked and appalled by what he said. Yet, he won't be given a second chance to redeem himself. At least, not with the Eagles.

Our society today reminds me of a play I helped with once. I know my director would say 'helped' is a term of perception in this instance, but that's another story. It was about the Devil and Daniel Webster, and the play was called Scratch. I remember the jury of the dead we had in the play, with all kinds of grotesque make-up on to give the experience of being long deceased. They looked intently at the accused with wide and nasty eyes, ready to pronounce guilty as soon as their master called for it. The reason our society reminds me of this play, is the make-up on the jurors could just as easily be the evidence of their past sins and transgressions. But they aren't seeing those. Oh no. They're only seeing the accused and what he's been accused of. The judgments made today by society when these stories come out are of the same kind. Taking no thought of our own ill deeds, we rise above the accused and focus solely on him, as if we have a higher claim to righteousness than others. What balderdash.

I'm a firm believer in second chances. I believe we should forgive before forgiveness is asked for. I know for a fact we all have done and do stupid things we regret and wish we could take back. But, that's what experience is. It is the sum total of how you can learn in life, by both your mistakes and your sound choices. Very few things should you be able to do that ruin your life forever. Murder is one. Rape, thievery, name a few. But a word? In the heat of the moment? That doesn't demand another chance? I think he should be disciplined, but I don't think he should be crucified.

Riley Cooper was caught red-handed. Most of us are not. We don't lose our careers over it. Why should he?