Thursday, April 21, 2011

What's Ahead?

Currently I'm working on the first book of my dark fantasy series (YA crossover).  I'm also working on the fourth book in my darkness series.  It's wonderful to have the ideas flowing, but I don't seem to have the amount of time to write like I want.

Will possibly post the first chapter of the dark fantasy in May.



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Crossroads of Life

Life is filled with decisions.  Decisions are crossroads in life.  You must choose one direction or the other, and often, you will not know the ultimate outcome.

Throughout my life, I've had difficult decisions to make.  Some were good.  Some bad.  As they say, "Hindsight is 20-20."  This is often true.  How we deal with the outcomes is what makes us grow as an individual, or it sets us back if we don't cope with it.

I attended Berea College in 1985-1986.  Being three states away from home was new to me and oft times depressing.  Mid-Spring semester I had so much pressure on me to succeed that I nearly had a nervous breakdown.  Classes were a lot different than I had expected and being away from my siblings was perhaps much harder on me than the academic pressures.  I had twin sisters that were 15 years younger than me, and a little brother that was 16 years younger.  Because of our age difference they were more like my children than siblings, and I thought about them all the time.

When I returned home that following summer, I took a job and spent a lot of time with them.  I made the decision by the end of summer not to return to college and work full time so I could be near my brother and sisters.  My mother worked off and on, but never really took a steady job.  She was also an alcoholic, which made living with her difficult.

By 1988, I married my first wife and discovered soon after she suffered from bi-polar depression and life suddenly took a strange turn for me.  She berated me for wanting to spend any time with my siblings, but instead, always wanted me to go visit her family.  If I visited my family, she went ballistic.  By 1991, she had left me twice for reasons that made no sense.  Our six month separations gave me time with my brother and sisters.  We were apart more than we were together during our short three year marriage.

Although she was seven years older than I was, her parents did her bidding at the drop of the hat and moved her out.  The same had occurred with her first two marriages, too.  In July of 1991, we had tried to work things through once again, but her mood swings escalated and she demanded a divorce.  We had an eighteen month old daughter and my heart broke.

On the day we had planned to separate, I arrived home from work to pack my belongings and move back in at my mother's for a while.  Instead, my wife came outside and told me that my 8 year old brother had been shot in the stomach and was in the hospital.  I don't remember leaving the driveway.  I came back to reality driving like a maniac down the highway to get to the hospital.  When I found my mother at the emergency room, the doctor came and told us that he had not survived.  There are no words to describe that feeling, that pain.

I had hoped that we could still salvage the marriage, but after the funeral and a week later, she still insisted on the divorce.  I moved out and a week after that, we signed the divorce papers.  That July was perhaps the darkest time of my life.  Everything seemed to dim.  I decided to return to college and in Fall 1992, I returned to Berea College after a seven year absence.  But I had determination, a devout focus to get my life on the right track.

After my divorce, I had left that marriage thinking it was all my fault.  Depression had kept me skeptical and distant from believing I'd find the right person to spend my life with.  Then I met Christal.  While we had been dating, she mentioned to me that she loved reading Dean R. Koontz, and while in a bookstore, she pointed out a three book collection by him.  I went back to the bookstore a day later and bought it as a surprise gift for her.  Instead, I found myself immersed in Servants of Twilight at my dorm room.

From an early age, I had known I wanted to write.  I wrote my first novel at the age of eleven.  I made my own comic books and loved drawing.  Reading Koontz reignited my passion to write again.

A lot of great things occurred simply because I had taken what I thought had been a wrong turn.  Had I not dropped out of college the first time, I'd not have gotten to spend valuable time with my little brother (He loved to fish), and I wouldn't have my oldest daughter.  Had I graduated as a traditional student, I'd have never returned to the same college seven years later to find my wife, Christal (18 years of marriage this month and two teenage kids).  I wouldn't be working on the "Darkness" series and the screenplay for Predators of Darkness: Aftermath, either.   I have to agree with Ray Bradbury and his short story, "The Butterfly Effect."  Knowing all I know about my past, I wouldn't go back to change anything because changing one thing would alter the future as we know it.  Sometimes you have to survive the bad things in order to find happiness.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dark Fantasy and Revisions

Currently I'm working on the first book in my dark fantasy series.  I finished this book in 2001 and had set it aside to work on the "Darkness" series.  This book is perhaps the hardest project I've worked on.  Every time I've attempted to revise this, I haven't had the success of moving forward until just recently.

The new setting and characters are a nice change of pace, but for some reason the first few pages seemed bogged down.  The delivery seemed choppy and didn't flow like I want my novels to progress.  So I had my wife read through these pages with me to see what the problem was (she is an avid reader and sees things I sometimes overlook).  She agreed that the flow was choppy and with her suggestions I remedied  the prose by shuffling several paragraphs around, which helped immensely.

Even with the rearrangements I spent another three to four hours yesterday revising the first two pages.  Once I got past these two pages the dam had burst, allowing the rest of the chapter to move at a better pace.  I now look forward to working on the book.

I've noticed how my writing has evolved from the time I had written this novel until now, ten years later.  It's true that the more you write, the better your writing becomes.  My biggest pet peeve is that I never feel satisfied with my writing.  In some ways, I think that is good.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reasons Why I Don't Hunt

When I was about fourteen years old, my stepfather took me hunting during the winter.  I wasn't fond of it, but I always liked being outdoors, so I tagged along. 

He liked to hunt rabbits, dove, and quail.  Myself, not so much.  In fact, I lost count of how many rabbits I "pardoned."  I have never viewed hunting as a fair sport.  Once animals start packing heat, I might change my mind.  Until then, I'll let them be.

Perhaps the most memorable trip was on a day we hunted quail.  My stepfather and our friend, Johnny, let their dogs out of the dog box on the back of the truck.  The two bird dogs leaped to the ground, panting and eager to lead the way.  They sniffed the ground and headed into the field.

The morning was chilly and overcast.  The muddy soybean field set at the edge of a thick pine forest.  The dogs searched for birds over an hour before they finally headed into the woods.  This area of the trees had been partially cleared.  The dogs crept to a large pile of dead pine branches.  Suddenly, they froze and their tails pointed straight up.  They had found a covey.

My stepfather, Johnny, and I spread out and eased closer to the dogs.  I was nervous because birds are swift, moving targets, and I never had any success shooting one.  Apparently, I wasn't the only one that was anxious.  We positioned our guns.  As I clicked off the safety, my gun fired.  Without any hesitation, Johnny fired five shots into the air.  No birds had taken flight.  And, this is the truth, both dogs turned their heads toward us.  The expressions on their faces implied, "What the hell?  You idiots."

The dogs flushed up the birds and my stepfather made a few unsuccessful shots.  I believe this was the last time I went hunting because I kind of figured if you disgrace your dogs, you're not worthy to hunt.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring Break With my Children

This past week our teenagers have been out of school for spring break.  Not trying to compare to the Griswold tradition of Chevy Chase, we do like to pack up and drive through the countryside, stopping at various state parks and monuments along the way.

While driving on a winding Kentucky road a few days ago, we came upon a car from Michigan.  The driver continually rode her brakes about every twenty yards or so.  This went on for about ten minutes until she abruptly stopped right in front of us and veered onto the shoulder of the road for us to pass.  Needless to say, I was relieved to finally get around them and head on.

We stopped at a restored covered bridge about seven miles up the road.  Within a few minutes, the car from Michigan pulled in right behind us.  When we got out of the car, the lady driving immediately apologized for her strange driving behavior and that she hadn't been in the area in over ten years.  Her father, an elderly man, started telling us about the other places they had been.  They were really wonderful people in spite of her bad driving.

The following day we decided we were going to visit the lake near our college alma mater, but on the way I decided to make a detour to visit Carter Caves Park.  Since we've had a lot of rain, all the streams and creeks would be flowing.  Nothing better than  to relax beside a gentle stream to refresh a tired, writer's mind.

After we parked and headed toward the gift shop, my son pointed and said, "Look, it's those folks from yesterday."  Sure enough, they were there.  I had to smile as I approached the elderly man and said, "Either you're following us or we're following you."

I mean, what are the odds?  We talked with him for a while, and he pointed out all the trails and places he had hiked earlier in the day, telling us, "Your kids will really enjoy those places."

We took his advice and visited a few of the areas and had a great time.  As we head out today, I'm curious about whether we'll see them somewhere else today.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And the winner is . . . .

The winner of the first drawing is Harley Quinn!  Congrats!



Next contest will be soon!