Sunday, December 1, 2013

Liebster Award Winner!

 Share 11 random facts about yourself.
1. I am a 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher.
2. I am a high school girls’ track and field coach.
3. I went to college when I was 41.
4. I’ve been to Disney World more than 20 times in my life – I live in Ohio.
5. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
6. Growing up, I wanted to be a WWII fighter pilot for the flying Tigers - WWII ended 19 years before I was born.
7. I wrote my first story when I was in 4th grade – it was a series, “Super Joe.”
8. My best friend, Willie, my brother, David, and I drew our own comic book characters and made our own books.
9. My football jersey was 82, and I picked it because it was the year I graduated.
10. One of my goals is to run a marathon.
11. The St. Louis Rams have been my favorite football team since I was 12.

Answer 10 Liebster questions given by the person who nominated you.

1. Who is your favorite author? JR.R. Tolkien. 
2. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Raising two great sons, going to school when I was in my 40s, coaching a state champion, and getting published. 
3. What prompted you to create your blog/website? It was an assignment in grad school. 
4. How do you decide which guests to invite to participate in your blog? Random. 
5. What is your favorite music genre to listen to? 70s and 80s rock – Van Halen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Etc.
6. Which advice would you give an aspiring writer? Never throw an idea away. Keep plugging away. 
7. What book are you reading now? Sign of the Beaver, with my 5th grade class.  
8.  What genre do you prefer to read? Fantasy 
9.  If you could go anywhere and money wasn't an obstacle, where would you go?
I would travel Europe and the Mediterranean. 
10.  What do you do for fun?
I read, write, jog, play games with my grandsons, travel and watch movies.  


Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Toy

The Toy is a short story I wrote four or five years ago. It is inspired by "Toy Story" and the enjoyment I got from playing with action figures (G.I. Joes, superheroes, Star Trek, etc.) when I was a kid.

The Toy

Hank is falling from the sky.

How did he get himself in this kind of trouble again? He asks himself. The jump had to be a thousand feet above his head. The ground is coming at him quickly, and no parachute to break his fall.

Hank closes his eyes at the expected impact. He makes a soft “humph!” as he hits the earth. He takes a short shallow breath, and slowly opens his eyes. He survived. He gets up slowly, and looks around. The landscape is slightly familiar to the soldier, the ground softer than dirt or wood. He was lucky…again. The strange patterns of the terrain did not match his green camouflage pants or his solid dark green shirt. 

There she was, maybe a few hundred feet away. His brown eyed girl, trapped between two mountainous pillars, and surrounded by more than nearly a dozen sworn enemies.

No time to wait and no time to lose, Hank springs into action. She was beautiful as always, her long hair flowing, her big brown eyes sparkled in the light. He could see the panic and fear on her face.

The first two attackers fell easy enough, and with a roundhouse kick, three more thugs went down. All at once, five of the would-be kidnappers jump on top of the fighter, he dispatches them in a matter of minutes. Now it was just Hank and the ten-foot tall beast master.

The poor hero took two punches to the head and falls hard, then he struggles to his feet just in time to miss being pummeled by the evil creature, who had leapt in the air to crush Hank with both feet. This momentary shock stuns the beast and Hank quickly takes advantage of the situation. Seconds later, Hank stands over the huge foe, victorious. The skilled war hero, wipes the sweat from his smooth face, and turns to untie the beautiful damsel. He longs to finally get a chance to kiss her.

A booming sound comes from out of nowhere. A voice.

The sound fills the room like thunder from the sky. Hank feels his strength leave him, “Not again!” Hank hears himself say. What is this cursed voice and the spell it casts on the soldier? Hank lays on the soft, cold floor. He cannot move his limbs, he is paralyzed. He is not alone; lying just mere feet from him is the girl he risked his life to rescue. She looks at him, the fear is gone from her eyes, but she too is unable to move. She, the unnamed girl, the girl of his dreams, is helpless, and Hank can do nothing.

Night comes; the darkness creeps in the room where the dashing hero continues to lay. The worst part for Hank isn’t the fact he can’t move, this has happened more times than he can recall. It is the fact that once again he had gotten so close to the beautiful girl, only to be denied talking to her, or otherwise get to know her. Each time he manages to save her from impending doom, she vanishes from his sight before he can get a chance to ask her her name.

The lights come on, Hank can feel life coming back to his limbs. Now is his chance to talk to the girl. Maybe, ask the girl her name? Again, the brave soldier is denied. He feels the wind beating across his body as if caught in a vortex. The motion stops, almost as suddenly as it had started. Hank finds himself standing on a tall towering structure. He is overlooking the entire kingdom he has fought so hard to protect for these many years. “Why? Why, do I always end up here?” he can only ask himself in dire thought. His body is so rigid, even his eyes are frozen in position. Occasionally, he can detect shadows, or some kind of movement. It is large, with a full head of blonde hair. The large creature never seems to bother anything, it is just there lurking in the background.

Tonight, like all other nights, Hank will stand there in silence. Although, unlike most nights his body is turned in an unusual manner. He likes when this happens. He can see some of the thugs he had recently fought against. Like him, they too find themselves stuck in the same situation. The reason he likes this strange angle he now finds himself, is that he can see her. With her long flowing hair, her big brown eyes, just standing there, she looks so peaceful. “If only?” he thinks, again to himself. The misery of another lonely night goes by.       

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Meet Julie Ayers. A high school freshman, cheerleader, basketball player and the prophesied hero of Seras, a dimension forged long ago by five elders who disappeared mysteriously and left the world in turmoil and stuck in the dark ages.

Her new teacher, Marcus Campbell, is a warrior from Seras in search of the mysterious 'Heart' and his journey has led him to the quiet town of Sunset, Ohio. He thought he was looking for a king, a grand warrior, to save his world. How can it be a fifteen year old girl? And how long will he be able to keep ALL of his secrets from the curious girl?


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Heart of Seras: Journey to Seras

My book is out and now available on ebook and paperback at Rogue Phoenix Press.

Here are the links:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Julie Ayers

When I tell people about my book, inevitably the question, "How did you come up with the idea?" is asked, primarily about the main characters.

Today, I am going to give a sneak peek into how Julie was developed.

There were two shows that I watched repeatedly on DVR that really started the whole thing: "Buffy the Vampire slayer" and "Angel."

The dynamic between Buffy and Giles, the young student and her mentor in the guise of a school librarian really intrigued me as an aspiring teacher and coach. Then watching Angel training Cordelia for battle, especially in the episode, "Offspring," solidified my desire to write a story about a young girl who learns that she is the protector/savior of another dimension. Her teacher (Giles) a quiet, unassuming bookworm type who is actually a dangerous warrior (Angel) in his world. Once I had this relationship figured out, everything else fell into place.

At the time, I had been coaching girls' track and field for over 10 years. I used the language, attitude and behavior I witnessed by those who I coached. It made my dialogue pretty acceptable as a forty year old writing as a teenage girl.  

Julie's look comes from a mixture of Sarah Michelle Gellar's, Buffy Summers; powerful champion fighting against odds stacked against her but learning to overcome and learning more about herself everyday. Charisma Carpenter's, Cordelia Chase; popular girl in school, forced to do the impossible. Valerie Bertinelli; bubbly personality and someone everyone cheers for to come out on top. And Adriana Lima; a great looking Hispanic girl. I knew she was going to have brown hair and brown eyes, and have a hint of Hispanic blood in her. I openly admit, that when I first saw Selena Gomez for the first time, about three or four months ago, I said aloud, "That is Julie!"

Too bad Selena will be too old to play Julie in the future movie version...(just me daydreaming).

Julie's name is a different story. As I said before, I have coached girls for over ten years, I did not want to use a name of a girl I have coached - that would just be awkward. I actually use this same method for nearly all of my characters.

I knew Julie was not going to be a "damsel in distress." I also knew she wasn't going to solve all the worlds problems in one single act, or that she wasn't going to be an outcast or socially awkward. I purposely wanted her to be pretty, popular and outgoing. I made her a cheerleader to make the point of being all three of those things, and added basketball to make her even more athletic, not that cheerleaders aren't - I just wanted to reinforce the idea. The reason I avoided track is self-explanatory. Having a main character run track, would give a wrong impression.

So, that is Julie. I hope you get to know her and love her as much as I do.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween!!!

Even though I don't write Gothic/horror stories, I have to admit I enjoy the sensation of being scared. The chill I got as a kid going through a haunted house. The vivid feeling I had after watching Halloween for the first time, and the shock of the last scene in Friday the 13th.  The reaction I still get to this day whenever I see a picture of Tim Curry as the clown in It (blast you Stephen King!). What I dislike is the ever increasing value placed on blood and gore.

Why? I want a good story. I don’t need to see gallons of blood or mutilated body parts to be frightened. In fact, it’s better to leave a lot of what frightens people to their own imagination. Who knows what is behind a door? Who is the mysterious person in the corner? Why shouldn’t the hero/heroine go into the basement? These are elements of storytelling. Anyone can write (or make a movie about) severed arms, sliced arteries, and blood pouring all around. This isn’t scary, it’s sickening.

Gothic literature is about slowly and stylishly bringing you to the brink of your own fears. It develops a sense of tension and heart-pounding realization of something macabre is happening, and you have no way to stop it. This is suspense. This is gothic. It gets in your head and makes you think why. You find yourself claustrophobic, wanting to run, like you are trapped in a dream. Only instead of wanting to wake up, you want to keep reading. 

What is Gothic?

"A Gothic tale usually takes place … in an antiquated or seemingly antiquated space—be it a castle, a foreign palace, an abbey, a vast prison, a subterranean crypt, a graveyard, a primeval frontier or island, a large old house or theatre, an aging city or urban underworld, a decaying storehouse, factory, laboratory, public building, or some new recreation of an older venue, such as an office with old filing cabinets, an overworked spaceship, or a computer memory. Within this space, or a combination of such spaces, are hidden some secrets from the past (sometimes the recent past) that haunt the characters, psychologically, physically, or otherwise at the main time of the story. These hauntings can take many forms, but they frequently assume the features of ghosts, specters, or monsters, (mixing features from different realms of being, often life and death) that rise from within the antiquated space, or sometimes invade it from alien realms, to manifest unresolved crimes or conflicts that can no longer be successfully buried from view. It is at this level that Gothic fictions generally play with an oscillate between the earthly laws of conventional reality and the possibilities of the supernatural … often siding with one of these over the other in the end, but usually raising the possibility that the boundaries between these may have been crossed, at least psychologically but also physically or both” (Botting, 2000).

 A Brief History

  • Historically imprecise term derived from the Goths, Germanic tribes that precipitated fall of Roman Empire, and later taken to mean all Germans (including Anglo-Saxons that settled Britain). In that context, referred to period of presumed barbarism, superstition, anarchy from about 5th century AD to Renaissance or (in Britain) to 16th century (break with Catholicism);
  • In 18th century, Gothic often seemed to mean primarily medieval period (Walpole claims Otranto was written between 11th and 13th centuries)
  • Gothic=obsolete, outlandish, old-fashioned, barbaristic, irrational, immoral, feudal (as opposed to enlightened, rational, neoclassical)
  • Gothic in literature often allied with a tradition valuing feelings and sensibility over enlightenment ideals of rationality, orderliness, tastefulness

  • Typical characteristics: fascination with past, esp. medieval; liking for the eccentric, supernatural, magical, and sublime, sometimes mixed with realism; psychological insights, esp. into sexuality; intricate or stereotypical characterization; stimulation of fear, horror; emotional rather than rational focus; exotic locations (Stevens 46).

  • In architecture, Gothic refers to style that dominated Europe from 12th to 15th centuries.

Here are a few of my favorite short stories and videos:

Faulkner, W. (1930). A Rose for Emily.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel (1844) Rappacinni’s Daughter.
 Jackson, S. (1951) The Lottery.
James, Henry (1898) The Turn of the Screw.
Poe, E.A. (1845). The Raven.

Enjoy the season!!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Proving Stephen King Wrong

Proving Stephen King Wrong

Sitting here at the computer thinking about SLOs, OTESs and about a dozen more acronyms I still don’t understand after 2 months of teaching, and the paraphrased words from Stephen King pop in my head, “you can’t be a writer and a teacher.”

Bull! I say.

I have finally figured out the balance of grading papers and making lesson plans. I am, after all, the guy who worked a half dozen part-time jobs, coached track and went to school fulltime. I worked way too hard to get where I am. I have some great co-workers, I love the kids and I’m having a blast. We have done everything from writing historical fiction stories, making videos, having debates, writing letters of encouragement to the football team, and so much more. And I am planning on doing a whole lot more.

It’s time to put on my big boy pants, and get back to work. Book #2 isn’t going to write itself as I sit here being lazy.

I can be a terrific teacher, a good coach AND a writer all at the same time. I am not going to be a chain smoking, drunken teacher/wannabe writer who feels like I spent the week with “jumper cables on my brain.”

So take that, Uncle Stevie!

I’m back and even the case of the evil acronyms can’t stop me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ah, the fresh smell of a book...

As a person who does not live by conventional wisdom, it boggles my mind that I have reservations to call myself a writer. I call myself a teacher – I guess because I have three diplomas (and a job) to prove it; and, I call myself a coach – I do have 39 seasons of wrestling and track and field experience to prove it. But to call myself a writer, even though I took many writing classes and Literature courses, and I have spent years crafting my skills, and writing my first of many novels.

I wonder if it’s because I’m not published? I wonder if it’s because I’m afraid of failure? I wonder if it’s because I’m afraid of people judging me?

Would I consider myself a writer if I was published? Is it my personality that makes me so reserved in the face of conventional norms? Or am I just a big fat chicken?

Either way, that is about to change - in two short months The Heart of Seras: Journey to Seras will be published by Rogue Phoenix Press.

The journey I started dreaming of in part twenty years ago and started writing eight years ago is finished and about to go public. I have to say my novel has morphed into something amazing (if I do say so myself). 229 pages of pure adventure for book one. And the next four are outlined and ready for me to get started.

When I look back at my old notes I have to laugh at where the story was and the many changes it went through. Not only the fairly recent moves to make Julie's POV more prominent, add Bhjuda Heilshorn, and delete several unnecessary characters; but, for those of you who had read one of the first 3-4 drafts, did you know that Pertheus was originally named Rydell and was Marcus's best friend, who traveled to Earth with him and once there turns into a talking cat (now known as the non-talking Shakespeare)? That is just utterly ridiculous.

Many of my ideas came from my childhood playing with my brother, David, and my friends Willie, Billy, and Mike. Some of my ideas came from taking a mythology class and a literature class in 2005. In my mythology class I had to do a final project, so I decided to create my own mythological story. Well that became too time consuming, so I wrote a crappy paper comparing Mt. Olympus to Canton's NFL Hall of Fame. I kept the idea of creating my own mythology. The literature class I had to take used the first 3 books of Harry Potter as the reading material. I fell in love with the series.

So armed with an over active imagination, a love of mythology, the idea of a book series, and inspiration of books/television/movies such as "Lord of the Rings," "Gladiator," Highlander," "Buffy," and "Angel," I began making notes and formulating ideas. In 2007 I began typing up the outline and rough draft, and now I completed my first book in a planned series of 5 books.

I can only hope to describe it as “The Lord of the Rings” meets “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” without vampires, wizards or mythological characters.

Another book I am excited about “Seducing Lily” is coming along very well. It is completely different than the Seras Chronicles as it is not a fantasy book, it is a stand alone book, and it is inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita.” I must say it is a dark spiraling tale that will probably shock and confuse most who think they know me. I decided I needed to write this book simultaneously with the Seras Chronicles to give myself a much needed change of pace and it allows me to use other creative outlets not quite right for the Seras Chronicles.

So as I conclude this blog, here is a list of stories and ideas I am working on and how they are proceeding:

The Heart of Seras: The Elders - outlined/progressing (nearly half way finished with rough draft).

THoS: The Dark Skorei – outlined/ready to be written.

THoS: Into the Abyss – outlined/ready to be written.

THoS: Book 5 (untitled) – outlined/ready to be written.

Seducing Lily – Outlined/Progressing (on Chapter 10)

Kingdom of the Rose – Plot/characters listed, outline began/research in progress.

Immortal Trilogy – Plot/characters developed/research in progress.

Sam Singer - plot/characters developed.

White Rabbit - plot/characters developed.

and, Follies of Me – A Collection of Poems and Short Stories: The Toy, Twist of Fate, Altera, Winchester Hollows, and ‘til Death – needs organized and cleaned up.

Thanks for reading!!