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>All about the ducks, and other stuff….

May 26, 2011

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Tonight in the blog: a review of Vegas Moon by John Locke, more about Fat Duck and Original Duck, Weeny the Cat is introduced, an update on and excerpt from Ripped From My Cold Young Fingers, my take on the latest news, news about my increased online appearances, finally some Tim home life information, the Greaton Easter Bunny story, why Tim is appearing at a soup kitchen near you, A very kind Fran Lewis review of The Santa Shop, and more…
Book Review: Vegas Moon (A Donovan Creed Novel) [Kindle Edition] by John Locke ««««
This is a surprisingly fun but still twisted novel. Donovan Creed, the hired hit man at its core, enjoys a lifestyle you’d more expect from a Hollywood leading man than an assassin. I have to admit I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did. First, you don’t imagine a cold-blooded hit man being the likable type, but he sort of is. Second, I never thought I’d enjoy a book written in present tense. John’s style really works in that regard. Long and short, definitely a keeper. The ending was fun.
Fat Duck and Original Duck: As you all know, Fat Duck can fly and does when he gets bothered too much. A couple of days ago, I tapped him in the side to get him off the porch. He, of course, let go with a runny poop, then soared off the porch. Though he can fly, he isn’t particularly good at controlling it, so that’s when he plowed right into Original Duck, which sent both of them tumbling across the ground. Fortunately, neither got hurt. Sorry I didn’t have a video running J. Last night, Fat duck hopped/flew up one stair at a time (five stairs) to get onto the porch and walked right into his pen. He’s very close to being a trained Fat Duck. I just posted a video of the two of them on Facebook. I’ll try to post on YouTube (which I’ve never done) and link here in the next day or so. It’s about 8:30 in the evening as I write this paragraph. I was just informed I forgot to put Fat Duck in tonight. I scooted outside and found him sitting on the porch next to his cage. Like I said…trained J.
Weeny the Cat: I will also soon be posting a very short video of Weeny, one of our cats. She was originally called Celine, which became Shaleeny Weeny (when my kids were young) and now she’s just Weeny. She’s about 16 years old and we’re thankful she’s still healthy. One of my summer projects is to erect a post and birdhouse right outside her favorite window. It’ll be like TV for her J.
News Commentary: Here in Maine, it looks like all State of Maine funding is about to be cut for Maine Public Broadcasting (radio and TV). I, for one, am saddened and concerned. For one thing, our statewide Emergency Broadcasting System is largely managed by this public broadcasting system. More importantly, a non-commercial broadcast system just makes sense. I won’t get into my opinions about the stations programming, but I will say that to depend on “corporations only” for news, information, and emergency broadcasting is sheer folly. Our current governor is being called a crackpot and lunatic around the country and even around the world. I fear, at the very least, this is proof he has some of his priorities backwards.  
Comments about Online Appearances: I recently received an email from a friend out in California who said, “Your name is popping up everywhere online.” Thanks in no small part to Carrie Rourke my personal angel as Focus House Publishing. In each upcoming blog, I will post new sites where my links and information can be found J.
The Home Life: Those of you that know me personally know that I’m very careful not to expose my family to unnecessary exposure. It’s not fair to them. That, by the way, is one of the reasons I have turned down so many requests to recognize family connections on any of the social networking sites (sorry L). However, I keep receiving emails from friends and fans hoping that I can be a little more open about my home life. With this blog I’ll try to find a comfortable line.  Both of my college children are living home for the summer. My daughter has recently become engaged and I understand she’ll be moving out soon. I’m concerned but she seems to have picked a pretty good guy so I expect it will be okay. My wife and I have always felt our children are welcome to live with us for as long as they want (rent free–though I wish it wasn’t always chore free). My youngest, who is still in high school, has said he’s going to live with us until he retires. He says we’ll still be buying his game systems when the Playstation 26 is out. My U-Penn college son (yeah, he’s one of the smart ones) just recently found a job. I’m pleased to see how responsible he’s being.    
Scheduled dates (soup kitchen): One of my first tour stops will be at the Oxford Hills Community Table (soup kitchen) in Norway, Maine. I know it’s not a typical author stop, but I’ve never been a typical author. That event will likely be taking place early-September. I’ll be appearing in schools for the “Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End” series all fall and winter seasons. Please let me know if you have a location Focus House might want to schedule. I will also be visiting, nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, and bookstores throughout the season, so don’t be shy about requesting an appearance in any venue J.
A story from my past: Please don’t ask me to do this every blog or even every week, because either don’t have that many stories or I have a terrible memory (or maybe both). For this blog, I’m going to steal a story from my Facebook info. I’ll add more stories as our blog relationship grows J. The Easter Rabbit Catch: My dad was a great prankster, and I guess some of that rubbed off on me. When my three children were all between the ages of 5 and 11, I posted “No Rabbits Allowed” on every door in our home and built a cage to catch the Easter Bunny if he did ‘manage’ to slip inside. My children were so upset. I had been telling them for years that the big-eared criminal shouldn’t be allowed to enter people’s houses without permission. Well, when my children woke up Easter Morning, they found candy all over the house and their father handily locked and asleep inside the rabbit trap! The schools were absolutely abuzz with how handily that blasted bunny bested their dad.
I still dream of catchin’ that furry criminal J
Latest Book Update and Excerpt:  For those of you that are curious how “Ripped From My Cold Young Fingers” is coming along, I’m now about 47% done with my review of the first edits (3 more much faster, I hope, rounds to go). At the 20 pages a day I’m currently averaging, I should be done this round in another 8 or 9 days. Here is an excerpt from the latest edits…
“No!” I screamed. I struggled to my feet and charged him with my one good arm. I tried to punch his groin, but the butt of the gun slammed into my forehead. Quick like a snake, the man reached down and grabbed me by the hair before I could fall.
“Please,” I managed to say. I wanted to plead for the safety of my mother and sister, but I suddenly remembered all the noise from the kitchen where there was now only silence. If she had any breath remaining, she would have been protecting her children. Whiskey had bested her attacker but must have been too late to save her. My mother was dead. I knew it as surely as I knew my own life would soon be ending.
Another shot exploded in my ear.
I heard Whiskey yelp.
“No, Mr. Edds!” I pushed with my legs and drove my head into Casey Edds’ stomach.
“Oomph!”
Tommy’s father yanked me up by the hair so I was forced to stare at his grease-coated face.
“God damn it, kid! How the fuck did you recognize me?”
I heard Vicky’s window crash. My God, he was doing it, Whiskey was saving her!
The sound had barely registered in my ears when—with a twist and a jerk from a forearm that had pulled thousands of lobster traps from the briny ocean—Casey Edds, the highliner of Coldwell Bay, snapped my neck.
My soul fled that accursed house before my thin body even had time to drop to the floor.
Thank you Fran Lewis for your amazingly kind review of The Santa Shop! Her review…
Hope is something that everyone needs and never give up on. No matter what life throws at you it’s too precious to take yourself away and out of the world. Everyone has a purpose in life and sometimes events happen that we cannot control yet feel that if we were present the outcome would have been different. Not always the case. Skip Ralstat was a lawyer whose family died at the hand of a thoughtless man who was on drugs. Going to an office party on Christmas Eve and arrive back home finding his wife and son burned to death riddled him with guilt. Deciding his life was worthless; his time on earth limited, he gave up on himself and decided to live on the streets. But, unknown to Skip although he lived alone and wandered the many streets in Albany each day and night he was never really alone nor lacking people who really cared about him and understood his despair.
The decisions we make in life can determine what happens to us in the present as well as the future. Not all decisions will be sound or right. But, making them we have to stand by what we decide. Replaying and reliving failures and successes will not help because you cannot rewind time and recreate the outcome of a decision or event. Skip decided to go to a Christmas party on Christmas Eve leaving his wife and daughter home. Unfortunately, one of the tenants where they lived was careless, on drugs and started a fire that killed many including his family. Was their death really his fault? Would the outcome have been different had he been home? Would the world be better off without him? Hard decision. What would your answer be?
Self- blame is a way out of facing reality. Suicide is one means of escape. As Skip wanders the streets one morning he meets Father Johnson he invites him into his warm church, gives him a warm meal, somewhere to sleep and much food for thought. Kind, caring and understanding and definitely not judgmental, Skip hears what the Father’s message about life is but will he heed his words.
Leaving the church he meets a man named Barwood who shares his story with him and takes him to meet a wonderful woman named Martha who owns a soup kitchen. Justifying being homeless, explaining why he’s living on the streets and yet encouraged the man to return to his life and not give up on himself. Christmas and the holiday season often brings out the best in some and the worst in others. Meeting Barwood would play some positive thoughts and remembrances in his mind as he remembers the good times and the wealth of having a family. But, yet he planned to take his own life and when Barwood tells him about Christmas Leap in the town of Gary, he plans to find a way to get there. Meeting several people along the way, Jenny who owns a lot of property and is striving to open her own shelter. The lady at the Governor’s office who opens his eyes to prejudice and the waitress at the diner that was just plain rude. Yet, Skip in all of his despair and sorrow found a way to teach each one of these people and others a lesson in kindness, humility and understanding.
Arriving in Gary he befriends the man in the Santa Shop who explains how he came to own it and why. But, one toy truck, one man dressed as a reaper would make all the difference to him and many others. Living on the streets, not used to the kindness and caring of others he turns down the gift from the man who owns the Santa Shop, tells the waitress she is rude and finds a way to make a little girl at the inn smile. Why do people treat the homeless and those less fortunate as less than human? Remembering his wife and son he realizes that his own death should be imminent and finds the bridge famous for the Christmas Leap event each year and climbs to the top.
What does happen I cannot tell you or explain? The thoughts played in his head, the words that come out and the fear in his heart is immeasurable. The reality of the situation, what changes him or does not change him you need to read for yourself. The story begins with one man who needs to do something before he and his wife move to another place. Just how the beginning links to the ending you will have to read for yourself. Will he jump or will something in his heart bring him back and show him that life is fragile as delicate as a piece of blown glass which needs to be protected or it will shatter. Find out for yourself because this is one book that everyone should read.
I just lost my mom and my sister. There are times that I feel sad, cry and wonder why they are no longer here. I often wonder what more could have been done by the doctors to save them. I often wonder what would have happened had I been there or told sooner about my sister’s heart attack. You cannot rewind the past but you can make them proud of you and your work in the present.
One man’s heartfelt story and journey from despair to redemption. One man’s voice heard loud and clear and one author who gave me the honor of reading and reviewing it.
Skip could be anyone. He could be your neighbor, friend, husband or brother. This book teaches so many important lessons. First, you are never really alone if you allow others to reach out to you. Second, the kindness of both Martha and Jenny was precious to him regardless of the end result. Third, never letting the words of others sting even though they burn your heart. The tears that came to my eyes were not only for my sister and mother but for anyone who loses faith and does not realize that life means easing the pain of others to sometimes help yourself. The only leap anyone should take is one of faith and hope.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
My Thanks: As many of you know, I often credit my current position in life, my very sanity, on the writers who provided me with books to hide in when things were tough during my childhood. Today, I feel the same sense of gratitude to you, my readers. I’m most assuredly not a bestseller yet (though I might be the bestselling author living on my street J) but each day I receive more emails, more acknowledgements that my books are not just reaching the hands of readers, but are being appreciated. There is no greater tribute a reader can give than to say that something I created was of value, that one of my books actually made a difference in someone else’s life. I hope you don’t get sick of hearing it, because I REALLY TRULY WISH TO THANK YOU ALL FOR GRANTING ME THIS LIFE, THE LIFE OF A WRITER!
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