Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It will only hurt a little, just a pinch. That’s what the nurse says.

Remember that as we welcome a favorite of mine, Michelle Garren Flye. Michelle and I go back to the old +Horror Library+ days of the Zoetrope website. I’ve been fortunate enough to become a friend over the years, and worked with her on a couple of projects. I’ve been even more fortunate to have had the joy of reading her work when she wrote ~GASP~ horror.

It is an honor to welcome Michelle back to the Donor Center for The Pinch.

10 books. That is a lot of books to have written and released. Tell me, Michelle, is this what you imagined or is it better (or maybe even a little worse)?

Thank you for having me here, A.J. Let me answer your question with a little story. Once there was a little girl about seven years old who wrote cute little stories. Her mother said the little girl had a good imagination and could be an author one day. Of course, the little seven-year-old girl barely even knew what an author was, but that word—author—stuck in her head and germinated over the years until she was certain she wanted nothing more than to write and write and write her way into the stars.

Of course, real life intervened over the years and the girl grew into a young woman who let her dreams be mashed up into a way to make a living and became a journalist. When the young woman became a wife, she wanted better hours so she could spend more time with her husband, so she went to school and became a librarian. And then she started having children and took some time off work and started writing again, all the while dreaming of one day being able to call herself an author.

Well, with ten books out there being read by other people (even if it is just a few dozen), I know I can now call myself an author. But I also know I haven’t reached the limits of my dream. I still want my books to be read by a LOT of people. So I guess the answer is, the seed is still germinating and growing and becoming a vine that someday I hope will bear fruit.

Tell us about Island Magic—the tenth book.

Island Magic is the third in my Sleight of Hand series, a romance series featuring magicians as either the hero or heroine. In this case, the hero is Logan, a retired magician whose guilt over his wife’s death several years before has kept him from returning to the life of magic. When his wife’s best friend Rachel shows up at his Caribbean resort determined to party her way through her alimony, Logan wants to help her. In the process, he pulls off a pretty cool magic trick, falls in love with Rachel and finds out the secret of why she’s on such a self-destructive path. I like Island Magic because I feel like it has a lot more depth than the first two books in the series—although I’ll always love Andre, the magician hero of Close Up Magic.

I have to do this: You used to write horror, and you were magnificent at it. Why did you choose to go in the almost completely opposite direction with your writing in doing romance novels?

You are very kind to say I was magnificent at writing horror. I never deluded myself that far. I wrote some kind of neat ghost stories, but I was nowhere near as good as most of my contemporaries (including you). However, I’d probably still be writing those ghost stories if it weren’t for the fact that one day when my younger son was still a baby, I looked at his face and realized I wanted everything in the world to be beautiful for him. Love is the most beautiful thing in the world—the one power that can light up the darkest moment in our lives—so I decided I’d rather write about it. And that’s what got me started.

What are the differences between writing horror and writing romance?

Well, obviously, you’re aiming for a different demographic with romance. Romance readers are almost entirely women. But other than that… This is actually a very difficult question to answer. Every time I start to write something down about romance, I realize the same could be said for horror.

How are they the same?

Strangely enough, this is a much easier question to answer. Because yes. They are. Good horror is realistic. So is good romance. Good horror comes from the depth of your soul, and so does good romance. In both genres, you want to shock your audience (at least a little), keep them wondering, build suspense and finally come to an inevitable conclusion. Of course, horror never requires a happily ever after and romance does. 6. Is there a chance you may go back to horror one day? You know, for old time’s sake?

Always. I still get ideas for horror and I’ve never given up my fascination with a good ghost story. Whenever I travel, I find a bookstore and go straight to the local interest section to find the local histories and legends. And living on the coast of North Carolina, I’m determined I will one day write a book about a ghost pirate. Maybe it’ll even be a romance. Who knows?

The following is an excerpt from Island Magic, Michelle’s newest releas. Enjoy:

“Rachel!” The voice yanked her into semi-consciousness, or maybe it was the hands gripping her shoulders. God, had she fallen asleep in the waiting room? And why was everything so bright, and why did it all hurt so much? She wanted to tell him to leave her alone, let her rest for a few more minutes, but the anxiety in his voice when he called her name again made her push past the inertia.

“Jesus. What? Did I fall asleep?”

Logan stared at her for a second, then enfolded her in his arms. “Thank God. For a second I thought…” He stopped, pushing her away from him and she noticed for the first time the black marks on his face.

“God, what happened to you? Were you working on the plane or something?” She pulled away, brushing something gritty from her shoulders, feeling more in her hair. Why was she sandy? She looked around, taking in her surroundings with astonishment. “What?” She returned her gaze to him. “What am I doing on the beach?”

He frowned. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

“The waiting room at the airport. What happened? I hurt all over.” She struggled to stand, but he stopped her.

“Wait. Take it easy. You don’t remember getting on the plane? Maybe you hit your head harder than I thought.” He brushed her hair back from her face. “You’re not bleeding.” His frown deepened. “How do you feel?”

“What do you mean, how do I feel? I feel like a truck ran over me. I told you, I hurt all over.” Her voice came out sounding petulant and whiny and she stopped, taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I just don’t understand. What happened?”

He hesitated, glanced around and finally said, “Let’s get out of the sun. It’s the middle of the afternoon and you don’t have any sunblock on.”

She let him help her to her feet, leaning on him as she turned toward the shadier area just off the beach. She stopped, first because she didn’t recognize the beach and second because of the smoking, blackened hulk a few hundred feet away. She gasped, her knees buckling beneath her. “Oh my God! Were we on…that?”

Before you click off the page, please check out Michelle’s links. Here’s the thing: she’s not just a great writer, but Michelle is a great person, who puts her heart and soul into her work. If you like romance, then you will love Michelle’s books> Check her out at the following links:

Michelle Garren Flye’s Website

Michelle Garren Flye on Twitter

Michelle Garren Flye on Facebook

Sleight of Hand Facebook Page

As always, thank you for reading, and until we meet again, my friends…

Let’s Make It Happen

Posted: October 10, 2014 by ajbrown in Uncategorized

What if I told you about a homeless guy on a street corner holding a sign stating he will work for money? And not just quarters or nickels or dimes or whatever spare change you have in your pocket. This guy wanted a job. A real job. No, he didn’t want handouts, but a hand up.

What if I told you about how this homeless guy managed to get a small apartment with nothing in it? What if I told you this guy went out and found a job that really didn’t help him get back on his feet, but started him along that path?

What if I told you about this no longer homeless guy who saved his money so he could start his own business? What if I told you this guy took this business and began turning a profit for himself and his loved ones? What if I told you this guy’s business is doing well? Oh yes, Faithful Readers, business is good for this guy.

Now, let me throw one more what if I told you out: what if I told you this guy would give the shirt off his back to help someone? Sounds like a real cool guy, right? Well, he is. He’s a good friend of mine. His name is Mitch (no, that’s not his real name, but if he reads this, he’ll know the reference), and he’s one of the best guys I’ve ever met.

But I don’t really want to talk only about Mitch today. You see, Mitch is somewhat of a success story. Sure, his business is still growing and people know he is going to do his best to get the job done right. He has a great crew working with him—with, being the operative word there, folks.

Mitch got knocked down, but he didn’t stay down. No, he didn’t stay down at all.

The point I’m trying to make is just because someone is down doesn’t mean they can’t get back up. Sometimes they just need a hand in doing so.

It’s not just about getting back up, though. It’s about hard work. It’s about application—applying yourself and your abilities to a task or tasks. It’s about determination to be better than what you are, to do better than what you had in the past. You can make things happen, but you can’t do it by doing nothing. Laziness doesn’t lead to success at anything.

My friend, Mitch (yeah, you know the guy whose name I changed for this blog), didn’t get anything by begging for handouts. Instead, he said ‘I want to earn an honest pay from an honest day of work.’ He wasn’t afraid to work to get somewhere. He took a few very calculated risks.

This is life, my friends. Life is about the experience, about working and earning your keep, about the pursuit of happiness. About doing things you never thought you could do. If you want to live—I mean truly live—then you have to put some effort into it. If you don’t want to live—and, yes, I mean truly live—then just sit back and watch everyone else as they pass you by, as life passes you by.

I am guilty of this—of wanting something and not really pursuing it. Maybe it was too difficult. Maybe I didn’t think it was attainable—at least not by me. Maybe—and this is probably more accurate than anything else—I didn’t feel like I deserved it, or that I would fail miserably. Maybe…just maybe I was afraid to take a risk because of what taking that risk meant: stepping out of my comfort zone. Maybe I didn’t believe in myself.

Oh…ouch. That last one hurt. Yes. It. Did.

My friend, Mitch McFakename, believed in himself. He believed if someone gave him a job, he could dig his way out of the hole he was in. He knew it might take a little while, maybe even longer than he wanted it to, but that didn’t stop him from trying, from working hard, from believing he would succeed.

“Let’s make it happen.” It’s something he said to me a couple weeks ago. Think about that for a second or ten. I don’t need to add anything to that. Read those four words again and again and again and let them sink in.

Let’s. Make. It. Happen.

We may not always succeed in the things we want to accomplish, but if we never try, we never know. And not knowing is worse than trying and not succeeding.

Mitch inspires me. He has a way about him that I’ve never seen in a person. I wish I had that way, that thing that makes him so unique. I wish I had that confidence.

One thing I do have is I am a hard worker and hard work trumps laziness all day, every day.

What if I told you I had a book coming out soon? What if I told you it’s different from anything I ever wrote? What if I told you I worked harder on this book than I have anything else in my entire life? What if I told you a man who was once homeless has helped me see there is more to life than what I thought there was, that there is more to the human spirit and the survival instinct than I thought there was. What if I told you knowing his story—the full story, not just what I’ve told you here—makes me understand that I’ve had it easy, and I’ve wasted a lot of opportunities to do things or make a change in my own life?

What if I told you I want to make it happen? Here’s a few of those things I want to make happen:

· I want to release my novel, Cory’s Way.
· I want to release my novella, The Forgetful Man’s Disease.
· I want to release another novel, Unbroken Crayons.
· I want to build my fan base—and I have slowly been doing that, thanks to the booklets, The Brown Bag Stories, I started putting out back in June of this year. (Go ahead, ask me about them.)
· I want to be a writer you’ve heard of, a writer that you, Faithful Reader, will say, ‘hey, he’s pretty good.’

There are other things I want, but these are some of my writing goals.

Go back and read about Mitch. Go back and absorb his story. If there is something you’ve wanted to try or do or something you’ve wished for, then don’t sit around and let life pass you by.

What if I said to you and you and you and me, “Let’s make this happen?”

Until we meet again, my friends…

I’m sure we’ve all heard the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. You know the story I’m talking about. If not, let me give you the Brown Notes version:

There was this rabbit, you see. And this rabbit was really, really fast. He was also somewhat of a braggart. You know the type, right? Those who think they are the best at everything and have no problem letting you know. Well this rabbit, he decided to pick on the tortoise.

Before we go much further, let’s give these two animals names. We’re going to name the rabbit Dennis. Why? There was this fellow I knew when I was growing up who liked to brag about all the things he could do, and Dennis was his name. For the tortoise, we’re just going to name him George. No reason. I just like the name. (I guess that’s a reason, eh?) Is that okay with you all?

Dennis constantly bragged to the tortoise about how fast he was and that no one–and Dennis meant NO ONE–could beat him in a race. But there’s more. You see, Dennis didn’t just brag to George about how great he was, he went so far as to put down George for being so slow of foot.

Now George was a kindly sort and he just shrugged off a lot of Dennis’s antics. But even George had his limits, and one day he grew tired of Dennis’s constant yip-yapping about The Great Hare Who Can’t Be Beaten.

“Dennis, even a great creature such as yourself can lose a race,” George said in his slow southern drawl–yeah, I imagine George to be a southerner, a country boy to the end.

“By who?” Dennis asked in jest.

“Well, by me.”

Whether or not George was bluffing Dennis will never be known because Dennis laughed out loud while holding his furry belly. I bet he went so far as to falling on the ground, and rolling about as tears streamed down his furry face. “You? You? Beat me? Well, why don’t you just try?”

George gave a nod and said, “Okay, Dennis. Tomorrow morning we’ll race from here to yonder (yonder being over there a hundred yards or so away where the apple trees were ripe with fruit) and I’m going to win.”

The very next morning they set out to race. All the other animals sat along the race route in their fold out chairs or on their pic-nic blankets. The kids ran around playing tag or Duck, Duck, Goose (a game the ducks and geese didn’t care much for). They had the media there, most of which were mocking birds, with their microphones and cameras, reporting on the big race. Odds were laid out by the bookies–hyenas with not much to laugh about except for the handful of animals who wagered the tortoise would win.

Then the race started. There was a pretty little cat named Sasha at the starting line in her cut off shorts and a T-shirt waving a green fig leaf flag, signaling for the competitors to take off.

And they kind of, maybe, sort of just stood there. George took a step and then another and another and had moved all of half an inch. Dennis, he didn’t move at all. He just looked at his watch and yawned and said, ‘You go right on ahead and get started. I’m going to take a nap.”

And that’s just what Dennis did. He found him a cozy little spot in the sun on the grass and fell right asleep.

George continued taking his slow steps and travelling not much more than a couple feet an hour.

When Dennis woke, he noticed George was only a few yards away, so he decided to run down to the all you can eat buffet and grab him some breakfast. He ate until his belly was full and his eyelids where heavy. Then he mosied on down to the start line again to see George wasn’t even halfway through the race. Dennis, being full and content from the buffet, decided to take himself another nap, and when he was done, he would jog to the finish line and be there in time for dinner and a midnight snack before George arrived.

That nap ran long and by the time old Dennis woke, George was almost to the finish line.

“Oh my,” Dennis said (well, he probably said something else that rhymed with duck or pit or ram, but that’s not really appropriate for this blog) and he took off running.

But it was too late. You see, George crossed the finish line by a hair in front of, well, the hare.

It’s been said George uttered the words, “Slow and steady wins the race,” when interviewed by the mocking birds later on.

You may be asking yourself, ‘why did he just tell us this story?’

I’m glad you asked.

I wrote a novel back in 2008, titled Cory’s Way. I’ve been working on it off and on ever since. Why so long? Well, I had the computer crash of 2013 that wiped out the edits I had completed. Then there were other projects I have worked on. Then there was the issue of confidence. I had never put a book out until January, 2012, and that was a short story collection. Put out a novel? How daunting. Then there was all the work–did I really want to put so much work into one story? Honestly, I didn’t.

Now, here we are, and for the last ten months I have worked on Cory’s Way, editing, rewriting, searching for cover art, trying to figure out a marketing strategy, talking to folks on how to do stuff I didn’t know how to do (and I’m still not so sure I know how to do some of them), having the cover created, editing some more, finding proofers, letting an agent read the story, building confidence and a bunch of other stuff. The release of Cory’s Way is getting closer and closer. However, personal goals for putting it out have came and went. I wanted to release it in July–on my birthday, to be specific. That didn’t happen. Then I shot for Cate’s birthday, which is in the middle of August. Yeah, you can guess that didn’t happen either. Now, I’m looking at a mid-November release, and, well, I’m not sure that is going to happen either.

But why? Why not in November?

Simple: it’s not ready.

The cover art has been created. The cover itself is done. The story has been edited eight times and proofed twice. Three separate rewrites have taken place. The forward has been written. The author’s notes and acknowledgments have been written. The bonus story at the end of the novel has been edited, rewritten, edited again. The book blurb has been written. The bio is done–but that may change before all is said and done. The entire book is completely put together. Formatting still needs to be done, and ARCs need to be sent out. And a release date–a concrete one–needs to be set.

With all of that done, why is Cory’s Way still possibly not coming out in November as planned?

Because, slow and steady wins the race, and I’m not sure the book is ready.

I can hear some of my friends whispering or even yelling, ‘If you keep going over it, then you will never put it out.’

I’ve heard that a few times, not with Cory’s Way, but with Southern Bones. It took me nine months to prepare Southern Bones, for publication, and another couple months before I was comfortable enough to put it out. But I eventually put it out. I eventually felt it was ready.

Here’s the thing: I know a few writers who are like Dennis. They are so ready to get their work out there that they rush through things and put it out, even though the books were not ready. Then they wonder why people are blasting the books or why they aren’t selling more. ‘It’s the greatest novel ever written,’ after all. They were in a hurry and that was reflected in the product.

I’m not one of those writers. I want Cory’s Way to be the best it can be. So what does that mean? That probably means I’ll read through it one last time. That probably means when I am done formatting it, I will probably go over every single thing to make sure it is right. I’ll probably go through every digital page, checking and making sure that all italics are there, that the fonts are the right size (and the right type). I want it to be right. Why? Well, first off, I want to put out a professional quality novel, but I also want the readers to be submersed in the story and have nothing taking them away from it–at least nothing I can control. I want the experience for the readers to be an enjoyable one. Because if its not, then the chances of the readers coming back and reading other works I have written, are going to be slim to none.

Slow and steady, folks. Slow and steady. I promise, I’m not like Dennis, but more like George, and in the end, I think the extra time spent on getting things right will make Cory’s Way that much better. And isn’t that what you want?

While I have you here, why don’t I give you the blurb for Cory’s Way? Here it is:

After his father leaves in the middle of the night, Cory Maddox and his mom, Gina, are forced to start over. Left alone while Gina tries to work her way out of debt, Cory deals with life as the new kid in school. Fleeing from the school bullies, Cory ends up under an overpass where an old homeless man lives. After being saved from the bullies, Cory and the homeless man, Mr. Washington, become friends.

But things don’t get easier for Cory. Children are disappearing from around the state, and the bullies haven’t forgotten his escape the first time they went after him. And there is something wrong with Mr. Washington…something horribly wrong.

Accompanied by his only two friends and the unlikeliest of allies, Cory sets out to keep a promise to the ailing homeless man. Will Cory and his friends find a way to keep the promise, or will the journey prove too difficult for them?

Intrigued? I hope so.

As always, thank you for reading. Until we meet again, my friends…

And here’s a sneak peek at the cover:

CorysWayFullCover

 

 

 

Ever Changing Momentum

Posted: June 9, 2014 by ajbrown in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Life is ever changing.

That is a fact. That is not opinion. It may appear like just an opinion, but if you think about it, it’s not.

You’re born. But before that, you were lust in your parents’ hearts (best case scenario here). You were, pardon the term and the Ozzie Osbourne reference, a shot in the dark. From there, you developed into a living thing in your momma’s stomach. Eventually, you passed through to the world and you are no longer a baby to be, but a full-fledged baby.

Then you grow. Whether you grow up, grow out, grow smart (or dumb) you grow. And grow and grow. If you’re lucky, you never stop growing in one way or another—hopefully, it’s the intelligence and character that grows. So, you see, life is ever changing. Fact.

With ever changing life, there is ever changing momentum. Life, not just sports, is about momentum. Stick with me here for a minute.

In sports, when a team seizes momentum their chances of winning a game improves. A team that can hold momentum for long periods of time through the season, and especially during the playoffs, can end up winning the championship.

Life is similar.

In life, you have to find your niche. Sometimes, you find it by accident, but most of the time, you find something you like, or something that appeals to you and you work at it. If it’s a job, then you get better and better at the job and that could lead to a raise or a promotion or both.

Romance is the same way. You meet someone you like, you go out and then you start working at the relationship. If you don’t work at it, chances are, it won’t last. My parents have been married 47 years, and trust me, they have worked at it. My dad told my mom, ‘when we get married, there will be no divorce.’ Do you really think that if my parents didn’t work at their marriage, that it wouldn’t have ended in divorce?

In reality, life is a LOT like sports. You have an opponent in both. In sports, it’s the other team. In life, it’s whatever struggle you are facing. In sports, you have to figure out your opponent’s weaknesses and use them to your advantage to win the game. In life, you have to figure out YOUR weaknesses, so you can overcome whatever difficulties you face. In sports, if you overcome your opponent, you get to celebrate. If you don’t, well, you go back to the locker room and try to figure out what you did wrong. Yup, life is similar. If you overcome your trials, then you can celebrate and relax a little; you can enjoy the time after the overcoming. If you don’t overcome the issues at hand, then you take a few steps back, and then have to figure out another plan in how to handle the problem. But when you figure out what you’re doing right, well, things can take off. That is the importance of momentum.

And momentum is ever changing.

Fact. According to me and life in general.

Writing is the same way.

Writers get momentum when a story goes the way it supposed to. The characters behave and do what the writer says to do. The descriptions and emotions are easy to develop. The plot plays out the way you want it to. Then you polish up a few pieces and send them to publications, and lo and behold, they get published. You go from there to bigger things, like collections or novels, and guess what? They get published. Momentum can do that for you. The right type of momentum builds confidence.

The wrong type of momentum, well, all it does is knock you down and destroy your confidence. All it takes is a string of unfinished stories where the characters don’t play nicely together and the scenes just don’t come together and the emotions and dialogue feel forced. A couple of rejections slows the good momentum, and then lowers the confidence. When the confidence starts to falter, so does the belief that you can write anything worth reading. Momentum is everything.

Life is about momentum, and every decision you make can change that momentum. Writing is about momentum. And every time you send something out to a publisher or even if you publish it yourself, you are taking a chance at gaining good momentum or facing the opposite direction.

What have you got to lose? I mean, honestly, what have you got to lose?

Momentum. Seize it when it comes your way. Look for it when it is hiding from you. But above all, don’t give up—Momentum is right around the corner and when it shows its head, everything changes.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Like Grandfather, Father and Son

Posted: May 8, 2014 by ajbrown in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I have two stories I would like to tell you. One involves my dad and me. The other one is about my son and me.

When I was a little boy, Dad would wake me up early on Saturday mornings in the spring and summer months. You see, Dad liked to fish. I didn’t care much for fishing, but I liked being around my dad so I always told him I wanted to go when he went. Thus, he woke me early on Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) so we could load up the boat and head out to the lake.

Before we would make our way toward the lake, Dad always stopped by the Dunkin’ Donuts not too far from where we lived. We would each get a coffee–though his was usually bigger than mine–and a donut or two. The donuts were always one of the highlights of the day.

[SIDENOTE: Donuts are my greatest weakness. They are my kryptonite. END SIDENOTE]

Dad has never been a straw person. Or a top on the cup person. He always took the top off his coffee and threw it away. Me, wanting to be like him, did the same. There was one problem with that. You see, when we would leave Dunkin’ Donuts Dad liked to suddenly mash on the brakes, making the car jerk to a sudden stop. In those younger years of my life, I never failed to spill hot coffee on myself when Dad hit those brakes.

Sometimes I screamed.

Dad would then ease off the brakes with a cat-ate-the-canary smile on his face and pull onto the road, as if nothing ever happened.

“If you learn how to hold that cup you wouldn’t have that problem,” he would say after each spillage of hot coffee.

It took a while, but eventually, I learned how to let my arm, hand and cup move with the flow of the car, and when to let the cup go forward when he hit those brakes to keep it from spilling out on me.

I grew up, as kids tend to do.

Dad and I also share the same enjoyment of aquariums. I took a day off from work and he and I decided to go to Augusta to this place called Bob’s Tropical Fish. I was driving. Before leaving, we decided to stop off at the McDonald’s not too far from Dad’s home (the Dunkin’ Donuts was long gone by then).

I was driving. :)

You kind of see where this is going, don’t you?

We went through the drive threw, ordered our coffees and pulled out. Dad took the top off of his. I hit the brakes.

I’m smiling right now.

Dad let out a surprised yelp as hot coffee spilled on his hands and lap.

I said, “If you learn how to hold that cup you wouldn’t have that problem.”

It had come full circle.

The apprentice had become the master, even if just for a moment.

Fast forward to now.

Sometimes The Boy (my son) will walk out the front door in front of me to go to the car in the mornings before school. Sometimes when he does that, I let him get to the steps and then I close the door and snicker as I’m doing so. The Boy almost always let’s out a ‘Hey, open the door!’ as he beats on it, trying to get back inside.

“What?” I say. “I was just going to let you start without me.”

Do you see where this one is going? I bet you do.

This morning I had my hands full. The Boy did a nice thing for me. He held the door open so I could get out the house. I gave him a ‘thanks, buddy,’ and walked out the door. I reached the steps and I heard the door close behind me. I went down the steps, turned back to say something to him…and he was nowhere to be seen.

I could hear him laughing from inside the house. Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, I burst out laughing.

The Boy opened the door, his face glowing. He said, “Yeah, that’s what you get. That’s what you get!”

Of course, I continued to laugh.

It had come full circle, just like my dad and I had.

And I couldn’t have been prouder of The Boy.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this blog are solely mine. They are just that, opinions. They are how I feel and what I think. If you can’t handle someone having an opinion that may differ from yours, then please, stop reading now.

Possible indecipherable rant to follow:

‘There’s something wrong with the world today.
I don’t know what it is.
There’s something wrong with our eyes.’

Every time I hear the song, Livin’ On the Edge, I often wonder if Aerosmith was being prophetic or just crooning about the way things were at the time, not foreseeing how much worse it could get.

What is wrong with us? What is wrong with our nation? Our world? What is wrong with us, as individuals?

On April 30, 2014, a 17 year-old boy was arrested inside a storage facility. Supposedly, he told the police if he had a gun at the time, he would have killed the first responder. He was going to kill his family. He was going to set a fire in the woods nearby to create a divergence so he could set off bombs at the local middle and high schools. His goal was to kill as many people as he could before a SWAT team could take him out. He wanted the SWAT team to kill him.

Two weeks earlier, a kid in Pennsylvania goes on a stabbing spree in school, stabbing twenty people, mostly teenagers, before he is tackled by the assistant principal.

On April 2, 2014 a gunman begins shooting at Fort Hood military base. Four people, including the gunman, died. Supposedly, he was angry because he wasn’t granted leave. Now he has permanent leave. And so does three other soldiers.

Remember Sandy Hook?

Do I need to give any more examples?

‘We’re seein’ things in a different way
And God knows it ain’t his
It sure ain’t no surprise.’

Seriously, what is going on?

There’s an owner of a basketball team spewing hateful, racist remarks, and for the longest time, the NBA did nothing about this, though the Justice Department did on two separate occasions.

We have football players beating their girlfriends and getting slaps on the wrists, as if domestic abuse is okay. And then those girls stay with the abuser. I don’t get that. I don’t get that at all.

There are people using the ‘N’ word–and you know what word I’m talking about–but taking two letters off and adding an A on the end. So that makes it okay? What? It’s a horrible word no matter how it is said.

We have religious leaders claiming intolerance instead of love, patience and acceptance. Hey, folks, I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but the Bible explicitly says, do not judge one another. (Matthew 7:1)

In this day, we still have racism and bigotry and people bashing on others because of their sexual preferences.

Really?

There’s somethin’ wrong with the world today
The light bulb’s getting’ dim.
There’s meltdown in the sky.

I’m going to say something that may not go over very well with a lot of folks. We have soldiers fighting terrorism in other countries, yet we can’t seem to get pass the hypocrisy of our own. Hey, terrorists are not our biggest concern. With what we—Americans, folks, Americans—are doing to each other, the terrorists can just sit back and let us kill each other, because that’s what we’re doing.

What happened to us? Where is the unity we all felt after 9/11?

We’re a selfish people. We want our money. We want our possessions. We want our notoriety, and by George, we’re going to get it, no matter what the cost. If someone has it, we’re going to make it ours.

Yes, I’m generalizing here. There are a lot of good people out there. There are a lot of people willing to help others. But there are a lot more of those people who seem to have lost the moral compass. There are so few Dale’s out there. (Yes, that was a Walking Dead reference for those who didn’t catch that.)

If you can judge a wise man
By the color of his skin
Then mister you’re a better man than I.

Here’s what I think:

People no longer respect other people, their property or their lives. We don’t respect living any longer.

‘Oh no he didn’t. I’m going to shoot him up, and his family, too.’

If we respected the living, if we respected life, then there would be less of these shootings and less violent crimes and less hate-mongering, and there would be more talking and more reasoning.

Yeah, I know, it’s a pipe dream. Why can’t we all get along and all that.

I remember when people used to get in fights at school and by the end of the next day they were friends again. We would get our aggressions out, sling a few fists, bloody a nose or two and take our punishment when we were finished—like men, even when we were just eleven and twelve. Then the next day we would sit at the same table at lunch and swap food as if nothing ever happened.

What happened to that?

What happened to Mom and Dad disciplining a kid and the kid learning from it?

What happened to closing your mouth and treating the elderly like they were royalty? We used to never cuss in front of our elders. Now no one really cares.

Respect.

Entitlement.

People want everything handed to them. Kids expect to receive their iphones and ipads and ipods and televisions and video games and nice clothing. They don’t want to work for it. There are a lot of adults out there acting like kids, living off others and not earning their keep.

Everything I own, I earned. I’ve had very little given to me in life. I paid for the two cars in my driveway. I’m paying for the house I live in, even if it is small and in need of a lot of work. This computer I’m typing at right now? Yup, paid for with hard work. I don’t have a lot of new things, and I don’t buy a lot of new things. Things I need are paid for. Things I want, well, I wait on getting those—they’re wants, after all and not something I really need.

‘Something’s right with the world today
And everybody knows it’s wrong.
But we can tell ‘em no or we could let it go
But I’d rather be a hanging on.’

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just throwing up at the mouth.

We are truly living on the edge of self-destruction here. We don’t love like we used to. We don’t care like we used to. We don’t respect like we used to. We’re not giving like we used to be.

I love my country. But I don’t love the things happening here. I don’t love the angst we’ve developed, the self-entitlement, the selfishness. I don’t like that I can’t let my kids walk down the street without fear that something could happen to them. I’m terrified every time I drop them off at school in the morning.

What’s wrong with us these days? I don’t know, and honestly, I’m not sure how to fix it.

We’re livin’ on the edge, and I’m afraid we can’t keep ourselves from falling…

Stay safe and love and live and be courteous to one another. Someone has to do it. I don’t know if I even made sense tonight. Probably not. I just had to get this out of my mind, out of my heart, so I can get back to writing and living.

Until we meet again, my friends…

When he woke this morning, the sun was shining in his face. He cracked an eye and realized, ‘holy cow, I actually got some rest.’ It was a rarity for him. Sleep had not really been a friend of his. She liked to tease him, tell him she was ready for him to come to bed, big boy. Then when he did, she would leave.

This frustrated the guy—let’s just call him J. for now.

So, he would stay awake, often staring into the darkness, wondering if he could count how many times the shadows seemed to shift in the room.

At any rate, when he woke up late for a change, his head wasn’t in its usual state of fogginess. No, it was somewhat clear, not quite like a bright, sunshiney day clear, but more like a glass at a restaurant. It may be clean, but there are still specks on it.

As he lay in bed, still not quite ready to get up—he was already late in doing so, at least his mind told him as much—he pondered. You see, J. is somewhat of a writer. He likes to tell stories and he likes for people to hear/read those stories. But, lately, those stories haven’t been getting read. Probably because he hadn’t been submitting much, and those places he did submit to weren’t accepting much of his work. Yeah, they were saying, ‘great story,’ and ‘we really liked this piece,’ but in the end, many of them were still rejecting the work.

Bummer.

The problem for J. is it wore on his confidence, and he began to lose the one important thing all writers need: a desire to write.

Then came the thought he had been having for a while. Why write? Why do I even want to try anymore?

But wait, another thought came to him. It made more sense than giving up. It made a lot of sense indeed.

‘Why don’t I just start over?’

The previous night he had updated his publishing credits on his blog and realized they had dwindled in recent years. Again, not submitting a lot doesn’t help with that. But, maybe, just maybe, he needed to send some work to a few different places than he had been. Why not try and get his name back out there like he used to?

No, he’s not a big fan of For the Love markets, but if some of them took reprints, he could see submitting to them again. But what about some of the other markets that don’t offer pro rates? Pay is pay, isn’t it?

Yes, he liked that idea. It wouldn’t pay as well, and some wouldn’t pay much at all, but an acceptance and some money and exposure would do his psyche some good. Don’t you think?

‘But am I settling?’ he wondered.

Legit question.

He didn’t believe so. Here is what he told himself:

‘You have to start somewhere. You can still submit to the big dogs, but don’t forget about the smaller ones. Those are the ones that can help you get back into the game.’

Here’s the thing, sometimes you have to step back, and reevaluate the game plan. Sometimes you have to be willing to start small and work your way back up the ladder. It’s like a new job. Most folks start at the bottom and have to work and work and work their way to a promotion. Writing is the same way.

So, here he is, J.—err, A.J.—and he is applying for jobs in the short story world. Hopefully, he’ll get a few callbacks. He may even post what he sends and when and whether or not the stories get accepted, and even the comments.

It’s time to crack some knuckles and get back to work.

~CRACK~

Ouch.

No, he probably shouldn’t crack anything on his body these days.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Good evening, Readers. I hope all is going well for you. I am on the last day of a mini-vacation and have settled in for the evening. The family is away at the beach and it is just myself, the hockey game on the television behind me, and writing.

It has been a quiet day, for sure. I will say this about the quiet and being alone—I am not a creature meant to fly solo. The house feels so empty without Cate and the kids around. I don’t like it.

But being alone is something that everyone has to face from time to time. Including Hank Walker, the lead character in my zombie series, Dredging Up Memories. Hank is a good old boy thrust into a world ruled by the dead, where solitude is just as dangerous of an enemy as the biters.

I started writing this series back in 2010 as an experiment. It was originally titled, My Brothers and I, but when I realized Hank’s brothers don’t have big roles in the story that title no longer fit. However, the story is about memories, and Hank has a lot of them.

I submitted the first chapter to Tales of the Zombie War not longer after I wrote it, and honestly, I wasn’t sure I was going to write anymore on it. I wasn’t too sure I liked it.

They accepted the piece, posted it to the site, but I still wasn’t sold on the idea of continuing the story.

Then came the comments and I was quietly humbled.

‘What I like about this is that, as a plot, it doesn’t get any simpler. However it had a real emotional impact that would come, I believe, from being in an environment where you know the victims and have to deal with them up close and personal. Yup, I like this a lot for that. AJ Brown has done a really good job of conveying the impact of that to the reader.’

And…

‘I really like this story. It is set to a realistic tone that most stories don’t have. Don’t get me wrong I like the kill everyone Rambo stories a lot too but this story was simple and emotional.’

And…

‘Haunting. Human. Bitter sweet. I loved this story! Damn fine job. I gotta say, you painted a fantastic picture of one man’s way to cope with everything, and to be honest, I saw him as myself.’

As a writer, things like those comments and others made on the website over the last few years have pushed me onward with the series. Now, here we are, sixteen chapters in and Hank has developed a little fan base. I’m thinking about turning the series into a novel when it has completed its run on the site. I’ve gone back and rewritten some of the first chapters. I’ve also decided to try and rewrite the ‘where, oh where did the virus come from?’ chapter. I’m not so certain I like it as it stands. However, what I came up with as an alternative is really cool, and I think most folks will like it, especially since it really doesn’t change hardly any of the story that follows.

There are also side stories that I am writing for the novel version. There are certain characters that Hank comes across during his search for his son. Some of them are intriguing and I’d like to know the stories behind them. What better way for me to learn that but to write their stories, and then share them with you?

Like all good things that come to an end, I have finished the series, though I haven’t sent all of them in, yet. The end is near for Dredging Up Memories, but not necessarily for the storyline. Yes, there is more coming in the future, but what that is I am not saying. I don’t think the readers will be disappointed.

If you haven’t read the series and would like to, just follow the link below and you can catch all sixteen chapters and a side story. Enjoy the read, and leave comments on the site, or here, on Type AJ Negative.

Dredging Up Memories

As always, thank you for reading, and until we meet again, my friends…

I’m a little late on this—just a little.

April is Autism Awareness Month. I don’t know the stats on how many people have autism, but in my opinion, one person is one person too many.

I want to do something, and I want you to help me. No, I’m not asking for donations. No, I’m not asking that you put a blue light bulb on your front porch for the month. However, I am going to ask you to do something.

Before I do that, I want to tell you why I’m going to ask this of you.

My wife, Cate, has a very close friend whose oldest son is autistic. He’s such a good kid. Loving and sweet. He doesn’t eat cake, but he will eat Cate’s cupcakes. He has a great smile and he is very much a child’s child.

The boy’s name is Phillip. On April 2nd—Autism Awareness Day—his mother asked people on her Facebook page to post pictures of them wearing blue shirts. She then saved these pictures to show to Phillip. She told him, ‘See how many people love you, Phillip? See how many people support you?’

Phillip loved seeing all the pictures of people supporting him—HIM!

This is what I want you to do: If you will, take a picture of yourself or your family or your friends wearing blue shirts. If some of you would, not only wear a blue shirt, but maybe make a little sign with the words ‘For Phillip’ on it, that would be awesome. After you take those pictures, send them to me at theunderwriter36@gmail.com with your name and what state/country you are from. I will post those pictures here on Type AJ Negative, and then send links to them to Phillip’s mom, who happens to be one of my wife’s best friends.

I know not a lot of folks read this blog, but if you could, spread the word. You don’t have to send them to the blog. Just give them the information and my e-mail address. Let’s take some pictures for Phillip. Let’s show him how much he, and other children with autism, are loved. I’m calling this The Phillip Initiative or TPI. I’d like to do this through the remainder of the month of April, so please, get out your cameras, take your selfies or your group photos and show some love to a terrific child.

I’m going to thank you all in advance, and then again in May.

Taking care of an autistic child is a lot of work, but showing that child how much you support him only takes a few minutes.

Again, thank you for reading Type AJ Negative and sending along your pictures.

Until we meet again, my friends…

Today, The Wife, The Boy, The Girl, and I went to the Columbia Zombie Run at the Columbia River Park. At first we were a little disappointed. There was no one running and there were no zombies chasing. We walked…and walked…and walked. Still no people running from the walking dead. We saw some folks dressed as zombies, but they were just strolling along. This was supposed to be a zombie run. I wanted to see the dead chasing the living, maybe even to the point of the zombies running like they did in Zombieland.

Well, we didn’t really get to see much of that in the three or so hours we were there. However, they did have a zombie makeover booth, and The Girl was zombiefied:

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The Girl made a pretty cool looking zombie. They could have done a little more to make her appear more realistic, but The Boy was having nothing to do with the peeling skin and dripping blood.

While we walked the route, hoping to see the dead roaming about, one of the zombies walked up and gave me a knuckle bump. Yeah, a knuckle bump. Then she and the two Zs they were with posed for a picture:

DSC_0440

This dude scared the crap out of The Boy:

DSC_0464

The best thing about this event was the zombies and the women doing the makeup. They were awesome and extremely nice. They explained all the makeup they were using and even gave The Girl all sorts of options as to how gruesome she wanted to be.

Oh, and there was a little girl there dressed up as a zombie Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. All in all, it was a day right up my alley.

On the way out we passed the vendor booth for Scratch N Spin, a local music/comic shop. There were plenty of Walking Dead books and memorabilia there. I stopped and the lady womanning the booth gave me a free copy of The Walking Dead comic, which was cool in and of itself. But then we started talking about comics and the local music scene. She mentioned Scratch N Spin and did her promotional thing, which is what she was supposed to do, right?

Here’s the thing about these little festival-type events: Sometimes you meet some neat folks, and sometimes those neat folks point you in a direction or offer some advice that makes you say, ‘I never thought of that.’ This lady, her name was Becka, mentioned her brother, Eric, the owner of Scratch N Spin, at one time had a small press. Though he was no longer in the business of publishing books, she said I should talk to him.

So I did.

The Wife and I went to Scratch N Spin and to meet him. Turns out Becka had mentioned us to him before we got there.

Eric and I had a discussion, and he gave me a few ideas, all of them things I can do that won’t break the bank. Things I never thought of. I left the Scratch N Spin with a renewed enthusiasm for this business we call writing. It is something that has been missing for a long, long while.

I’ve made notes tonight, based on the conversation we had. You see, Eric explained to me a fundamental truth: you have to really work your way up in your region before you can work your way up anywhere else. He said it’s like being in a band. Little known bands tend to tour their local bars, pubs, festivals and other venues they can find. They create a circuit, and for the most part, they play within that circuit, developing fans and a following. Then, as the following grows, they expand to other regions, basically building their name, their brand. It’s a lot of work, but consistency is the key. Being consistent in where they play and making sure they play well for the crowds that show up for their concerts/gigs.

Writers, bands, artists want to be recognized, and not just locally. We get stars in our eyes when we think that someone across the world might see, read or hear our work. Sometimes we forget to take care of our own backyard. We want the entire world before building credibility. And there, my friends, is another key to it all: credibility.

Think about your favorite author or band or television/movie star. Why do you like them? They entertained you in some way or other and they became credible in your mind. They earned that credibility and they earned your time, money and love. More than likely, though, it didn’t happen overnight. It took some time, some consistency.

It’s time to earn some credibility.

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Okay, I’ve said before that I don’t like asking folks to sell my books for me. Still, I’m not going to do that. But if you’ve read one of my two books, would you mind leaving a review on Amazon? It would help me and I would greatly—did I say GREATLY?—appreciate it.

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Words from my latest WIP:

They pulled onto the exit ramp and Cole brought the car to a stop at the sign. He turned right onto the two-lane road. There wasn’t much to see for about a mile. Just trees and grass and litter on the ground. Then they came to the store. It, like the road they traveled, wasn’t much to see. A white building with a white door. The parking lot was dirt and gravel, and the building itself was butted up against the trees. There was a beat-up gray Bondo bucket of a truck sitting out front.

In the reflection of the glass, Sheila could see Cole smiling. His eyes dazzled the way they used to back when… She shook her head and looked away.

Cole pulled up to the side of the store, bypassing the front. He parked, turned the engine off and started to get out. The door was open and one foot on the ground before he looked back to her. “You coming?”

This time she didn’t let her reflection do the looking. She turned to him, frowned and gave a quick shake of her head. “No.”

Cole swallowed hard, nodded, and then shrugged. He closed the door behind him, not gently, but with a hard slam. Sheila’s shoulders jumped. She watched as he walked away, his head down, not held high like it used to. In that moment, Sheila’s heart cracked a little.

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I leave you now with the word of the day. It is from my son: Deliciosity. It means delicious. As in, “This pizza is so deliciosity.”

Yes, my son makes up words the way Mike Tyson does.

Thank you for reading, and until we meet again, my friends…