Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Fall...1/1/13

January, 2013 

And here...we...go ;)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Perfect Tunes ;)

...have you ever listened to a song and thought, "Wow, could I ever hammer out the perfect scene with that tune drumming in the background!"  

That's what this righteous jam does for me.

I listen to the beat, like a countdown to "The Fall's" unveiling, and think, "Yep, it's comin'.  It's comin'..." 

Enjoy ;)


Monday, October 22, 2012

Buckling Down...

The Fall...

...stepping onto a band of light at the threshold of the bathroom, Johnny craned forward, spotted the man from the driveway leaning into the tub.  Followed the man's gaze and found Jessica crumpled into a shivering ball of arms and legs, a damp towel shielding her body.

He released a gasp, hesitating at the entrance a moment too long.  She caught sight of his shadow, followed it to the source, her expression running a gamut of emotion, from shock, to relief, to horror, as Johnny managed a blink of his eyes.

And as he stood there, little more than an arm's length from his girlfriend's father, Johnny thought, okay Jessie, I'll do this for you.

He said, "Jessie."

Her father turned with a start, offered a grunt, eyes widening.  A set of chafed lips opened, an expression that Johnny recognized as fear, passing over the man's face.  There and gone in an instant, as if carried on an ocean's breeze.

Then he lowered his brow.  Grizzled cheeks gathered around a clenched jaw.  Burly fingers, stained the color of rust, closed to form a pair of clubs, wavering upon the end of each arm.  And from his mouth came a warning, painfully gargled as if some of the rust from his hand had somehow made it to the lining of his throat.  "Get outta my house."

Johnny managed to find his voice, said, "Jessie, it's gonna be okay."

Bracing one hand on the bathroom wall to steady himself, the other remaining closed to a fist, Jessica's father lifted a boot toward the hall.

Johnny stepped across the threshold, hastening a glance at his girlfriend, still huddled upon the floor of the tub.  Her knees were pulled up to her chest, a pair of trembling arms embracing them.  Their eyes met, and a word formed on Johnny's lips.


Just a teaser...a little something to think about as we approach this week's mid-section ;)

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

...The Month That Was

...and so here's where I've been these past few weeks.

Saturday the 1st...

My wife and I were enjoying a quiet evening on the couch, taking advantage of our children's decision to join some friends at the local park, catching up on past episodes of Storage Wars.  Other than sharing an occasional giggle at the antics of Dave Hester and Daryl Sheets, we spoke little.

We were granted nearly an hour before the creak of our screen door and a yip from our lab, allowed us a moment to prepare for the kids return.  

I continued watching the final seconds of an episode where Barry Weiss spent a week's salary on a storage locker full of Good Will items from 1985, when a shadow the size of a small cumulus cloud spread across the ceiling.  I felt my wife's grip tighten around my wrist.  I turned with a start to find not only my teenage son, but three of his high school buddies from the football team, standing at the entrance of our living room, wearing only their underwear.  

Two pairs of Hanes briefs, one set of loose-fitting boxers, and an embarrassing pair of whitey-tighties that would've been snug for my ten year old daughter.

They stood in a single file row, failing to make eye contact, three out of four blushing from the neck up.

A moment later my younger son bounded into the room, fully clothed, cradling his basketball, offering a grin that would've made The Joker envious.

"Okay, so...what did we miss?" my wife asked.

I considered the ball in my twelve year old's hands, read the expression on his face, and offered a guess.

"Lose a bet to your little brother?" I asked the scantily clad teens.

I was granted a nod, then turned to my younger son, The Hoopster.

"So how far was the shot?"

He answered in a burst.  "Half court!  They said if I made it, they'd walk home in their skivvies...I nailed it on the first try!"

"You boys walked home...like that?" my wife asked, shoulders trembling with laughter.

A collective nod.

"And guess what, Dad!" Young Hoopster added.  "A bunch of girls drove by!"

...a week later, I sat in front of my rough draft of "The Fall,"  glaring at words on a screen, when a thought caused me to open a second tab for my email.  In minutes I drummed out a short letter to fellow writer Anne Gallagher, The Piedmont Writer, (here's her blog,  http://piedmontwriter.blogspot.com/, and here's her book, http://www.amazon.com/Remembering-You-a-novel-ebook/dp/B0083IDAU8 , it's good, check it out ;) asking her where she continues to find those beautiful covers for her stories.  

Being the pal she is, she offered her assistance, and within days, working alongside my son, (now fully clothed,) we found the perfect cover shot for my upcoming shorty.  

Anne, a weight's been lifted.  I can't thank you enough ;)

It was last week, while sitting behind my desk at the dayjob, when a call came in from home.  I glanced at the time, considered what day of the week it was, and thought, "She's calling about another kid."  

(My wife and I are foster parents.)

I released a sigh, lifted the phone from it's receiver.  

"Hi Hon."

Nothing.  I recognized her breathing, short stressful huffs, as if fighting to catch her breath.  

I waited a moment longer, then asked, "Okay, who is it?"

"He's only four days old."

"What?  Four days?  A boy?"

"Yes...and yes."

"What's wrong with him?"

"He's losing too much weight.  His birth mom...well, so anyway, he's just a baby."

"Yeah, I figured that much."

"Well, what do you think?"

I grinned at my hulking computer monitor, a spread sheet I'd been working on for three days, due the day prior, not worth the ink it would soon be printed on, thinking how life can change on a dime.  One day your laughing at your teenage son's rotten luck, and the next...

"What do I think?  I think you already said yes, and that little boy's on his way to the house this very minute..."

In two weeks under my wife's care, the newest member of our family saw his weight match, then surpass his birth weight, receiving an avid thumbs up from our doctor.  He's well on his way...

So that was my month, how was yours?  

El ;)

Monday, August 27, 2012

...A Smashing Debut

With regard to ESPN lingo, I hope to be politically correct when describing my son's 2012 high school football debut at tailback by stating the following...

"Boy Wonder toted the rock for a buck-thirty-four this past weekend, including a thirty yard dance to Pay-Dirt, while dragging two defenders on his shirt tail."

(Needless to say, I took the day off from editing "The Fall," to watch my son tear up some sod on the gridiron.  He made the most of it.)

...catch him if you can ;)


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

...Southern Hospitality ;)

...perched conveniently off the curb along Highway 174, and only a mile or two inland, boasts the only literary hot spot on the entire Island of Edisto.  

"The Edisto Bookstore" 


We were scooting along under a row of shaded elms, their branches groping overhead, forming a canopy of branches and moss, when the store's neon magenta sign lured us into a parking spot.

Upon staggering into air conditioning from an outside world suffering in drought, we were greeted by the owner, whose first impression appeared more than fitting for the role of one's typical high school librarian, or in this case, proprietor of one's book-cluttered establishment.

She offered my younger kids a grimace, then, as politely as she could muster, ushered them toward the back room where a children's play area awaited.  My son reacted with a scowl, yearning to stay and browse in the adult section, but I nudged him forward, whispering into his ear that our visit would be short.

That matter settled, my wife and I parted ways, scanning the shelves in search of whatever chose to catch our eye. 

Highlighted on display was a collection of work from the Low Country's local writers, the majority of covers splayed in beach scenes.

Then I spotted one I recognized, and a thought, far too ornery to pass up, led me to action.

"South of Broad," I said aloud, my forefinger running along the glistening hardback.  

The fifty-something shop owner glanced up from her Toshiba lap top, resting upon the counter, then back, mumbling something to the effect of, "hmmph."

I wasn't deterred.  "Say, you wouldn't happen to have a copy of, "South of Charm," by any chance?"

"South of what?  Broad?  Why...your finger's restin' on it."

"Not Broad.  Although Conroy did a marvelous job with it.  Charm.  'South of Charm,' by Elliot Grace."

At this, a giggle caused her lips to part before a wiry hand could wipe it away.  "I'm sorry, it's just that, my cat's name is Emily Grace.  For a moment there, I pictured her in front of my computer, paws just tapping away."  

I lowered my brow, watching her shoulders rise and fall with a second bout of muffled laughter.  Then mumbled, "Well, we're a large family, so who knows.  Anyway, it's written by a writer from Ohio...Elliot Grace.  South of Charm.  It was released about a year ago."

"Never heard of it.  And we pretty much only stock the best sellers and some local flare.  Nothin' else would do very well, I'm afraid."

"Oh yeah? Well..."

I felt an elbow in my side, turned to my wife, who'd caught the tail end of our conversation.  "Stop playing games with the lady.  We're on vacation."

I huffed, then grew quiet, carousing the "Best Sellers!" shelf.  

A minute later, I spotted one I recognized, yanked it from its home, flipped to page 2 out of memory, and read aloud the grim paragraph that I knew would still be there.

"I pulled back too hard on the wheel, which sent me once again towards the guardrail.  The cables snapped and flew everywhere at once, like the thrashing tentacles of a harpooned octopus.  One cracked the windshield and I remember thinking how glad I was that it hadn't hit me as the car fell through the arms of the convulsing brute..."

I stopped reading, looked up at the whimsical librarian, whose grin had faded with the mood. A moment passed before she lifted both palms in defeat.  "Well...it sold over a hundred thousand copies."

"Yes," I agreed.  "Life indeed throws us turnips at times...or something like that."

My wife claimed a couple of books for the long ride home.  I decided to leave empty-handed. We paid, offered our good-bye's, and were about to leave when the shop owner held us up.

"What did say that book was called again?"

"South of Charm.  Elliot Grace."

"Well, maybe I'll give it a look-see.  And who knows?"

I couldn't help but grin.  "Tell ya what...I'll run out to the van and sign a copy for you..."

Yeah...we're back, safe and sound ;)


Friday, July 20, 2012

Headin' South!

...so is that circling seagull up there preparing for launch, or is he just happy to see me?

The family's headin' south!  

I'll be signing a few books in Charleston, dropping by an auction or two that caught my eye, adding a few touches to "The Fall," and most importantly...some R & R on the beach with my lady and the kids ;)

Anyone up for some laughs?  Hit the link below for a highlight from our last southern excursion...the day we ran into Captain America on Siesta Key.

See ya in August!



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

...just a little Summer Charm ;)

"...it had been a day or two since watching the fireworks fill the night sky with spider webs the color of a rainbow over Walnut Creek Park.  Later, I swore I could still hear the cannon blasts, like distant gunfire from across the county.

I was nine years old, enjoying summer break, sweating through a July heat wave.  Humidity in the shape of a giant mushroom cloud, hovering over the state of Ohio.  Its intensity was enough to make our cat pant like a dog and scurry for shade by ten a.m.  

I'd sneak up on him, a lazy orange tabby, its fur twisted and matted together from a territorial dispute with the neighboring tom, and blast him with the garden hose.  He'd spring into the air, his back arched, a guttural screech causing every nearby sparrow to flutter about in graceless circles, and stumble for the bordering maples in the distance.  

Then I'd giggle to myself as he'd stop, just out of firing range, and offer me a grimace from across the yard as if to say, "Between you and me, that hit the spot..."

"South of Charm"


...enjoy the summer ;)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

Sunday morning.  

...I'd planned on sleeping in.  After all, if ever it were possible to do so, one would think this day, of all days, the odds were in my favor.

The dog apparently never received the memo however, and by seven a.m, decided his bladder was full enough.

Boxing him one in the chops would only result in a day's worth of guilt, so I bit my tongue, rolled out of bed, and followed a stubby tail to the back door.

I read a line from a book once that said, "once you're up, the damage is done.  You might as well make something of it."    

The hour called for caffeine, and with it, the promise of a sun's grin.  I obliged...

By eight o'clock I was on the back deck, finishing up the first round of edits on, "The Fall."  (Watch for it soon on Amazon ;)

Nine-thirty found the dog prancing around in the back yard as if he owned the place.  Who am I kidding?  His name's Prince for a reason.

Watching him chase frantic robins to higher elevation got me to thinking...

By ten, I was at the high school track, MP3 in hand, rounding the asphalt at a faster clip than I'd earlier anticipated.  

At two miles I eased to a walk, feeling cocky, tossing around such thoughts as, "Getting old?  Not on this day."  

Found myself no longer alone at the track.  Watched a married couple, likely my age, give or take a year, begin speed walking from the 400 meter dash mark.  I considered their pace, thought, "yep, I got some left," and decided to show off a bit.  (At 38, one savors such opportunities.)  

Home by eleven.  Was greeted with a hug by my daughter, who so graciously ignored the sweaty t-shirt.  (She'd used the last of her allowance to buy me a watch for Father's Day. That talent for giving, I do believe she gets it from her mother ;)  

My young Hoopster managed to crawl out of bed while I was busy lapping those walkers, and decided on surprising his pop with breakfast.  I returned home to waffles.

A few hours later found us at the gym, The Hoopster working up a sweat at his weekly basketball clinic, showing up the high school boys, (he's twelve and learning fast.)

And it was then when my phone began jittering from my pocket. 


"Hey Dad."

"Hi Son.  How was your day on the lake."

"Awesome.  The waves made for some wicked tubing."

"Good to hear."

"Hey Dad, I just wanted to call and wish you a Happy Father's Day.  Hope you had a good day."

"Thanks Son.  That means a lot.  And yes, I did.  Wanna watch a movie or something tonight?"

"Yep, I'll be there!"

...maybe I'm growing soft with age, perhaps even nostalgic.  But those three, and this day, that's what it's all about ;)

Thanks for reading,



Monday, June 11, 2012

Mr. King trades punches with Father Time

...edit work can be enjoyable if not swallowed whole.  Any attempt at cramming the entire process into a 24-hour marathon session in order to make one's deadline, will only create further migraines, (literally,) and a finished product that will mirror the quality of work that was put into it. 

So says my editor..

His advice? While trudging through the pains of edit work and re-writes, allow some spare time to read something...anything, from one of the greats.  It may be a sacrifice, but one worth gambling on.  For that book, whatever is chosen, be it good, or not so much, may in fact guide one's re-write along the journey as if holding one's hand while crossing a busy intersection.  

Lingering doubts?  Trust me, it works ;)

My choice for reading material while editing "The Fall," is Stephen King's "11/22/63," an eight hundred page monster that asks the question, "what if you really could go back and undo the past, armed with the knowledge of our future?" 

Would it be possible to re-write a wrong?  To change the world as we know it?  Or would that only restructure the inevitable?

After all, as rumor has it, the past doesn't want to change...

And sometimes, if cornered, it bites back.

Enjoy King's interview, and ask yourself, if it were possible to go back, just once, what would you change?  Think about it...    


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

...I found myself enjoying a little "me" time over the holiday weekend, and managed to pump out the final touches on a project that's been keeping my fingers in tune with the Piano Man for the past three months.  

My novella, a story I've hesitantly titled, "The Fall," (odds are weighing heavily on a name change prior to signing on the dotted line ;) is finished, with edits soon to follow, which, come to think of it, I'm looking forward to.

Edits are indeed a necessary evil.  They soak up available writing time in the same manner that my lab can lick her water bowl clean during these blazing temps.  Looking back on past trials, the endless months that were sacrificed fine-tuning "South of Charm," brought me close enough to my characters to smell the flavor of chewing gum balled up under Danny Kaufman's tongue.  Simply put, the art and challenge of an awe inspired edit, is where a story's soul is created.  It's that important.

...and so I celebrated this weekend, sharing a toast with the wife, a movie with the little ones, a game of H-O-R-S-E with my hoopster-crazed son, and roasting 'smores over a late night bonfire.  

Good times.

...and then I felt the urge for some quality reading material, and thought of my friends.

A click or two of the mouse led me to Amazon, and a few seconds later I secured "Slipstream," by fellow Blogger Michael Offutt.  

From there I skipped about until finding Wendy Tyler Ryan's "Fire's Daughter," one that was long overdue for purchase ;)

I visited fellow 80's pal, Nicki Elson's seller page, and bounced away with her novel, "Three Daves."

Then I stumbled upon Nicki's shorty, "Sway," and couldn't resist ;)

Two clicks later and I found Robynne Rand's "Remembering You."  Sorry Hon, but try as you might, you'll always be Anne to me ;)

And not to be outdone, I couldn't go shopping without paying a visit to my pal from the bayou, Roland Yeomans.



I've got some reading to catch up on, and looking forward to it...


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Johnny's Run...

...since the first of the year, I've been drumming on a project, something a bit different from the usual sports-themed, Mitch Albom type of stories that I most enjoy penning.

Some time ago, a critique partner suggested I consider writing a little something in the romance genre.  I scoffed at the notion, considering my masculinity at stake.  

"Okay, whatever," was her response.  "But like it or not, you're a sensitive writer.  I think you'd do well."

"Well, maybe," I grumbled, setting aside the idea for later consideration.  "It'll leave me something to think about on a rainy day."

...that rainy day arrived, and from it, "The Fall" was born.

A month ago, give or take, I introduced Jessica.  I do believe it's now Johnny's turn to say hello...

It's still in infancy, but regardless, feel free to offer your thoughts... ;)

...5:45 p.m.

A groan rises from his throat.  It leaves his mouth only to be quashed by the sounds of impending road rage festering from either side.

How could this be happening?  He absolutely had to be there by six.  He'd promised.

The drone of a nearby horn, this one from a semi, returned his attention to the bedlam stretched out before him.  Cars and trucks of various sizes, lined up and boxed in, clogging both lanes of the road, engines humming, others grumbling, a few elderly models spewing clouds of smog into the air.

And rising in the distance, ribbons of soot, like oily snakes, etching black creases through an otherwise cloudless afternoon.

Leaning out the window, Johnny figures the wreckage to be strewn about along the mouth of the Cooper River Bridge.  Most likely sightseers, too busy admiring the massive structure to pay any attention to their neighboring driver.  A common occurrence.  

Johnny follows the trail of steel cables rising to a peak, eyes squinting against the sun's late day grin.  Upon completion, the bridge had quickly become one of Charleston's most impressive attractions.  An engineering masterpiece connecting the outside world with Battery Street, Fort Sumter, and the historic cobbled streets of the Old South.

For Johnny, the Cooper River Bridge stands for something else entirely.  He chooses to avoid the route whenever possible.  And when forced into crossing Cooper's irritable current, he never looks down.

The urge to offer another scowl at the clock proves too difficult to avoid.

A trio of digital numbers smile in return.  5:44.

His patience waning, fingers drumming on the steering wheel, Johnny spots an approaching patrolmen, weaving through the logjam on foot.

Noticeably overweight, the police officer shimmies and slides between plastic bumpers and vibrating tailpipes, at times rising on tip toe to avoid making contact with countless vehicles sweltering in the heat.  He comes to a stop several car lengths from Johnny's late model four-door, arms spread, palms rising and falling in an attempt at quieting what had become a cursing ruckus.

"It's blocked both lanes, I'm afraid," the policeman explains, chest heaving as if recently taking part in the yearly 5K run.  "Glass and wreckage scattered half way to Summerville.  It's a mess, but if ya'll can remain patient, we'll get things squared away real soon."

A chorus of grumbling travelers prevents Johnny from hearing the one piece of information he'd been hoping for.  Sensing the minutes slipping through his fingers, he lunges forward, narrowly missing the swing of a nearby fist, a man sending a roundhouse right through the air in frustration.  


The aging cop ducks his shoulders as if fearing an assault.  He turns, sees Johnny coming fast, and clutches the belt stretched across his waistband, fingers resting on the butt of his Taser.  

Johnny skids to a stop, sensing the man's reluctance, and lifts both hands into the air.  "Please sir, I just really need to know how long the clean-up's gonna take.  I'm supposed to be somewhere."

Trails of perspiration drain from the officer's neck as if he were standing under a shower head.  His cotton shirt, most likely white when he clocked in that morning, was now stained to a dingy gray.  He exhales a sigh, realizing Johnny's intent, and runs a thick forearm over his scalp.  Amid the chaos of screaming toddlers and flailing suits cursing into cell phones, the weary policeman studies the young man before him, considering his dilemma.  Perhaps noticing the sincerity etched into his brow.  Then he leans forward, a set of round shoulders slumping beneath the weight of moistened cotton and fatigue.

"I'm sorry, son.  But unless you can run for it, you won't be gettin there anytime soon."

Johnny's gaze lowers to the pavement.  He's about to turn back in the direction of his car, when he stops, repeating the cop's words under his breath.  "Run for..."

The policeman again places his hands upon his hips.  "You all right, son?"

Johnny opens his right hand, studying the car keys clutched inside.  Then he turns to the officer, whose expression had grown to one of irritable curiosity.

"It's the beige Honda sitting behind that red pickup truck," he says.

Before the policeman can answer, Johnny swings his hand through the air as if waving farewell to a departing ship, his fingers releasing their hold on the keys.  A flash of silver sails in an arc, over the roof of an idling Toyota.  They bounce off the cop's belly, and offer a jingle as they fall to the pavement...

Thanks for reading ;)


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finding Inspiration...

...the following passage was written by Paulo Coelho.

Enjoy ;)

"I remember receiving a letter from the American Publisher Harper Collins that said: 'Reading The Alchemist was like getting up at dawn and seeing the sun rise while the rest of the world still slept.'

I went outside, looked up at the sky, and thought to myself, 'So, the book is going to be published in English!'

At the time, I was struggling to establish myself as a writer and to follow my path despite all the voices telling me it was impossible.

And little by little, my dream was becoming reality.  Ten, a hundred, a thousand, a million copies sold in America.  

One day, a Brazilian journalist phoned to say that President Clinton had been photographed reading the book.  Some time later, when I was in Turkey, I opened the magazine Vanity Fair and there was Julia Roberts declaring that she adored the book.  Walking alone down a street in Miami, I heard a girl telling her mother, 'You must read The Alchemist!'

The book has translated into fifty-six languages, has sold more than twenty million copies, and people are beginning to ask, 'What's the secret behind such a huge success? 

The only honest response is, I don't know.  All I know is that, like Santiago the shepherd boy, we all need to be aware of our personal calling..."

...scheduling conflicts and the daily grind can often treat one's personal time in the same manner as a moist sponge held under a leaky sink.  If only enough quiet time remains for one great read over the summer months, choose wisely, and consider The Alchemist.  

You can thank me later ;)

...keep writing, my friends.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Ultimate Question...

...its an ongoing debate we storytellers scratch our heads and ponder on, beg for advice and inevitably lose more hours of sleep than any of us are willing to admit.

Whether or not to sacrifice one's time sending countless queries on their way to a multitude of slushpiles, in hopes of one day earning that big ticket...

or going for the quick fix, self-publishing one's pride and joy for a shot at instant gratification.  And if the moons properly align, well...

For some the decision is simple, for others, its an uphill climb through a blizzard.  

Having once traveled along both paths a time or two, experiencing my share of outcroppings and detours in either direction, the only advice worthy of sharing goes as follows...

Whatever you do, never send your work to the fellow in this video ;)

Keep writing, dear friends.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

...Drumming Along ;)

...there are times when a blank page yearns to stay that way.  As a basketball coach, I consider it similar to those forgettable days when regardless of the effort, an invisible lid has been placed upon the rim, allowing the act of scoring a bucket to be an impossible feat. 

Love it when that happens...

There are two sides to every coin however, and during those moments of literary bliss, when one's digits simply can not prod the keyboard fast enough, sacrifices are not only to be considered, but should be expected. (As long as the family can make do, that is ;)

Long story short, the latest project is running on all cylinders.  Therefore, I'll be burning the midnight oil until the juices sputter and run dry.  (For those of you in the know, I'm sure you get it.) 

Upcoming, I'll be posting another excerpt from "The Fall," and have been stirring up something special in celebration of hitting the big 300. (Thanks everyone!)

In the meantime, please take a moment to enjoy my son's latest musical achievement.  As it seems, while I've been hard at it, penning "The Fall," my son, (on guitar,) and his pal, (pounding the percussion,) have been working on their game as well.  

Anyone ever hear of Seven Nation Army?  You will now ;)



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Throwin' From the Heart"

...this is so cool.

As I've done every day for the past month, my journey home from the dayjob requires a quick stop at the high school in order to pick up my oldest son from track practice.

Upon exiting the front door, his head angled downward, hiding an exhausted face shaded in pink, he trudged by the varsity baseball team, paying them little regard.

His best friend, the team's first baseman, noticed my son's lumbering departure, reached out his arm, and offered him a shoulder squeeze. My son glanced up, returned the gesture with a grin, huffed out a comment to be held between pals, and continued on.

That's when my son's friend noticed me in the car.

"Hey El!"

I smirked. "Hey what?"

"Don't forget to always throw from the heart!"

At this point, not only the entire baseball team, but every other teenager, teacher and coach who happened to be standing nearby, heard the comment, and awaited my response.

Finding myself speechless, I could only nod, my grin widening.

My son's best friend is one helluva kid...

The following excerpt is what he was referring to.

...a bead of sweat traveled from my scalp down the side of my face, where for a moment it lingered, tickling my chin before accepting its perilous fate. Bent over, hands balanced upon my knees, I watched it fall to the ground, nearly evaporating on impact.

"Coach Hummel, gimme a minute with him."

I studied the dust between my cleats. Nothing more than packed sludge, maybe a scoop of sand mixed in for good measure.

"If you leave him in, you'll ruin him. He'll never pitch again."

"Well I guess that'll keep all those precious records of yours safe, now won't it?"

Given a closer look, it wasn't really sand at all, but countless pebbles, rolling about on a field of clay. Their colors, some black, others beige, blended together, providing the locals a baseball diamond similar in shade to any other. But the torn seam in the left thigh of my uniform pants whispered otherwise.

"Son, if you don't straighten up and look me in the eye this instant, you'll be making this decision a whole lot easier for me."

I did as I was told, still wary of my equilibrium. Gathering my senses, I recognized Coach Hummel leaving the ball field, head down, shoulders slumped. Then I looked at Coach Stutzman, and he looked at me.

Under the curious scope of several hundred baseball fans, my coach and I studied each other from atop the pitcher's mound, before at last he spoke.

"Ya know, my youngest son, a few years older than you, he's got the athletic ability of a sloth. That boy could sprain his wrist playin checkers. But his brain's a different story. Sharp enough to leave bite marks. Gets it from his mom, I'm sure."

As he spoke, the home plate umpire's looming shadow lengthened with his approach.

"So he comes to me one day and says he wants to be a doctor. Asks if I have any advice for him. I look him straight in the eye and tell him that no matter what he does, to always keep throwin' from the heart."

Hands on his hips, the umpire joined us on the mound, his brow lowered. He didn't look much older than a high school graduate. Making a few extra bucks over the summer. Stutzman ignore him.

"When he says I've flipped my lid, I tell him about a pitcher on my ball team. A skinny thing, no bigger than any other kid his age, but with a fastball like nothing I've ever seen before. And that power, it don't come from his arm. Not his legs neither. That fastball's thrown from the strongest muscle that boy's got."

With a crooked forefinger, he reached out and tapped on my chest, a smirk curling his chapped lips. "Whatever's happened to you, its got you all bent outta shape. Got your heart pumpin like an angry drum. And out here, this is how your dealin with it. Shootin bullets at punks."

"Coach, you're outta time," the umpire stepped forward. "Gotta make a decision."

"Not up to me," Stutzman said. He stood back, folding his arms over a moistened ball shirt. "Got anything left, son?"

My arm was numb. I had to glance down to make sure it was still attached to my shoulder. Despite that, there was never a decision to make. "Let's play ball."

Stutzman nodded, then squared his shoulders at the umpire. "You heard the boy. But son, if you don't put a stop to these shenanigans they're pullin, they'll have to get Cal Beechy's tow truck to pull me off you when the dust settles."

With a huff, the umpire left us, his finger twirling in the air as he hollered, "Play ball!"

"South of Charm"

...yep, that son 'o mine, he's got some cool friends ;)

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Excerpt from "The Fall"

...this past weekend the boys bid farewell to another season of basketball, following a valiant push into the semi-finals before stumbling a bit short of our goal. Oh well, those boys are young, their journey still hardly under way. They'll figure things out ;)

As for me, well...

Please enjoy the following excerpt from "The Fall."

...the embrace of night softens its grip as Jessica rounds a silent street corner, spying the towering beacons of the Cooper River Bridge in the distance. Using the fog as her ally, she'd sped barefoot upon Charleston's cobbled streets. Dodging mature Sabals, like sentries protecting their city. Palm fronds in the shape of daggers, rustling in the breeze, warding off any trespassers tempting fate. A burst of neon from an aging pool hall, staining the sidewalk in magenta. Past the local night life, the homeless and the drunkards, mumbling obscenities from long forgotten alleys.

Most of them don't see her. Those who do, think perhaps they'd seen a ghost. A young girl, not a day over sixteen, slipping through the mist, a moistened pale nightshirt clinging to her shoulders, and nothing more. An exhale of breath, a flash of hair the color of bourbon, and gone with the salty breeze.

Having spent the majority of the night on her feet, watching her town pass by in a blur, a set of weary lungs has limited her breathing to periodic gasps. Yet with the sight of the bridge looming before her, renewed vigor quickens her pace.

Ancient alleyways shrouded in mist, give way to beaming overhead halogens, the road now a steady incline to the awaiting bridge. And with muscles that scream, the flesh on her heals now callused and raw, Jessica begins the final leg of her journey...

Short and sweet, but we're getting there...

I hope to knock this one out by summer's end, give or take a month or three for the trials of editing ;)

Fellow writers and friends of Blogland, you've been dearly missed. Barring any unforeseen mishaps on the home front, I'll be paying you all a visit over the next few days.

In the meantime, I stumbled across an interesting site for anyone in the market for writing articles or advertisements for the corporate world as you await that thumbs up from your agent.

It's called E-Lance, a place for writers who are anxious to make a name for themselves, and companies in search of wordsmiths. Call it a financial supplement until one's ship rolls in ;)

Not sure if the protected link will behave, but its worth a look-see @ Elance.com


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Big Ticket...

...alas, basketball playoffs are upon us, rendering my time limited at best. On a positive note, however, the longer my absence, may in fact represent my young team's successful tourney run ;) After all, we're a feisty bunch!

Just a quick reminder that we are but a few short hours from the anticipated ticket release of The Hunger Games, the theatrical version.

Having devoured all three novels quite some time ago, I'm cautiously optimistic that Hollywood can pull off a success. And yes, like a feverish teen riding the vibes of a high school crush, I've agreed to accompany the kids and wife on opening night.

Therefore, in honor of Suzanne Collins's big night, I've attached a link to "Katnissss..." a short story I penned some time ago involving the young huntress from The Games, and a pair of "pale-skins" from the Pacific Northwest by the names of Bella and Edward, (perhaps you've heard of them ;)

Having read the Twilight series as well, a fair amount of time was sacrificed playing around with a simple thought, "so what would happen if those vamps were to be on the hunt one day and find themselves within aim of an Everdeen arrow?

When released, this one ran amuck on Facebook for about a month, give or take, and remains one of the funner stories I've hammered out in recent memory.

Enjoy ;)


Monday, February 13, 2012

Game Day

...this is so cool.

Saturday afternoon. On the road. Game day.

Despite the sun's distant grin, the recent freeze has resulted in an ice-packed layer of crust holding firm to our corner of the world. But the roads are clear, the traffic steady, the car's heater keeping the frost at bay.

Aside from the purr of tires, the world has offered us a moment of peace.

Glancing into the rear view mirror, I spot my son in the back seat, head tilted, eyes focused on the passing scenery. But yet, not really.

His gaze seems to follow a row of naked elms as we cruise by, but if I were to ask him which one stood the tallest, he could offer me no more than a shrug. For while his eyes are aimed at the snow-covered landscape, his thoughts rest elsewhere.

Afterall, its game day.

I continue to watch him, an eleven year old now, a dusty blond, still wiry as a twig, but gifted with a burst that can't be taught. A set of thin fingers drum upon his thigh, as if feigning the play of an imaginary instrument. And if studied closely, one may catch the movement of his lips...thinking through the plays, the various scenarios he will surely face in less than an hour, when he steps onto the court.

I study his focus, the flush of his cheeks, and smile to the passing traffic, remembering my days in the game, so long ago.

The intensity of game day, of sweaty palms and twitching muscles. Pent up excitement, and those bursts of adrenaline. The magical sound of a leather ball slipping unscathed through an iron hoop. Swish!

Such fun that was, those days of competition. And yet, more than two decades later, the real fun is about to begin...

We pull into the parking lot. The engine settles to a hum. I twist around in my seat. "It's time, Son. You ready?"

A pair of eyes, green like the sea, lift their gaze from the pair of scuffed Reebok's on the floor, and offer me a twinkle.

"Let's do this."

El ;)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

...Playing Field

...in a few short days, the world as we know it will come to a grinding halt. Ever-present worries and tedious affairs being cast aside for an evening, as a multitude of countless observers lay siege to family rooms and man caves spanning the globe, all channels tuned to Super Bowl Sunday.

We set our ovens ablaze with pizza and bowls of festering chili. We stuff our faces, share some laughs, and cheer on as two rival combatants partake in good-natured bloodshed.

For they are the final two, dueling for the right to be the last man standing. They've accomplished what their opposition stumbled upon...survival. And regardless of Sunday evening's eventual victor, both teams have experienced that feeling of confidence. Of falling into a groove.

As writers, it's an experience worth treasuring. When every word is perfect, the diaglogue as natural as a conversation on a street corner, a performance worthy of tears.

I've read of storytellers being unable to remember penning a particular scene, their minds too engrossed in the drama being played out to focus on words spattering across the monitor. Throbbing fingers hammering on keys, where only the seizing of cramps can slow one's pace. Where days grow somber, and the hours pass to a sun's rise before one ponders as to wherever the night has gone.

For only then will we make it onto that playing field. Where the likes of Gaiman and King, Sandford and Clark, come out to play. To wine and dance. Speaking of such tales as "Neverwhere," and "Salem's Lot." Of "Horns," "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell," and "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle," whispering of secrets that only those on the playing field have earned the right to hear.

Perhaps over time we'll get there. Perhaps not. I've heard them say however, those who've been there, whose creations have been deemed worthy, that we'll know it when it happens. When the story's ebb and flow is reminiscent of life itself, one built of extraordinary circumstance.

And when asked how to get there, how to reach that point of literary supremacy, the great ones, they all shrug and say, "Just keep writing."

Enjoy the game!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Updates & Excerpts...

...some shameful acts can be rectified. Others, well...

Sad but true, Gaiman's "American Gods," a modern day classic soon to be entering into adulthood, has yet to find itself upon my bedside table. This admittance coming from a nurtured bookworm who nearly lost his day job over getting caught with one's face buried in a novel while on the clock. (More than once ;)

Not sure how this story has been playing hard to get for the past decade, but the game of cat & mouse is nearing closure. Over the past weekend, while carousing the shelves at the local indie, I inched up behind my wife, who'd spotted "Gods" on a display rack, and was reading its back cover blurb.

I blew softly into her ear, caused her to twirl about in alarm, and gained possession of the softback moments before accepting a punch on the shoulder.

"You scared the living...!"

"Sorry," I whispered, "But I call dibs on the Gaiman book."

"Yeah, whatever."

I bought her lunch, and all's well.

In the meantime, check out Gaiman's latest blog post, describing a day that began with a missing laptop, but ended with a new IPad...

Since dropping in price, "South of Charm" has experienced a rebirth of sorts. In a week's time it scaled Amazon's infamous rankings as if still a feisty pup, settling in nicely at the fifty thousand mark. It stuck for a day or two, then began the inevitable journey back down... Nonetheless, it made for some interesting conversation at the dinner table.

If in dire straits for a decent read, (perhaps not Gaiman worthy, but I'm getting there,) "South of Charm" is now available for $2.99 on Kindle.

For anyone hinging...check out fellow writer and dear friend, Olivia J. Herrell's interview we shared a few months ago, along with her take on my first novel. She's a sweetheart...

As for an excerpt I promised a short time ago, a paragraph or two from "The Fall," that novella near and dear to my heart, I apologize in advance for the shortened cliffhanger...

"The Fall"

...despite the sun's departure under a skyline smeared in copper, the temperature remained ablaze. Johnny could see the heat radiating from the cobbled sidewalk. Transparent tentacles rising with the breeze, reaching toward him, trying to slow his pace.

Johnny however, was no stranger to the intense heat of the south. Nor was he unfamiliar to running the historical streets of Charleston. He'd done it once before. Pushing through an ocean's salty breath during the witch's hour. The rustling of palm fronds towering overhead, like distant applause, urging him onward. A night he'd never forget. No matter how hard he tried...

This story is my son's favorite...me hopes you like as well ;)

Thanks for reading,