14 April 2017

22

It’s been nearly two years since my last novel, but my newest one is now out! It’s called 22 and is a story unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. It has a more diverse cast of characters and follows the course a single gun takes as it makes its way across the country and touches many lives in the process.

The story begins with a young woman named Miranda. Miranda looks 22. So, she tells everyone she’s 22. The super of her apartment thinks she’s 22; the owner of the bakery across the street thinks she’s 22 -- and most importantly, the men she allows to pick her up on the beach think she’s 22. She uses her looks to great advantage: an afternoon of sex, perhaps a few dollars for rent, food, maybe a new dress or two. If the men are willing to pay for them, why shouldn’t she accept them?

Miranda’s life changes one morning as she’s walking back from the bakery. She’s taking donuts and coffee to the man she allowed to pick her up the previous afternoon when a young man with a gun tries to rob the bakery. There’s a scream and a gunshot.

Here, then, is an example of the “butterfly effect”: the theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the path of the universe forever.

22 charts the course of lives changed by a single occurrence: the addition of a gun in a world where guns are heavily regulated. Is it the answer one person is looking for? A way out? A way to make some extra money? A way to end the pain? Some lives change for the better, some for the worse, some end forever.

Of course, things don’t always work out the way we might expect. Actions have consequences. And some actions have unintended consequences. That certainly proves true for Miranda.

(See links in the "My Books" section to your right.)

AND NOW! For a limited time only, you can purchase an ebook copy of 22 for only 99-cents. 

Go to 22 at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/715666 Add this book to your cart (you'll need to create a free account if you don't already have one). When you get to checkout, enter this coupon code: BR29K This should let you acquire a copy for 99-cents!

01 April 2017

'twas a Mouse that Broke the Ice Queen

I like pulling April Fools jokes on people. One priceless example happened when I was working in a bank in Berkeley (CA) in the 1980s. We had an assistant manager who was cold as ice -- nothing was ever right, nothing ever good enough, and the fact I was gay sent her over the moon (and not in a good way).

In one conversation she mentioned how she hated mice (big surprise) so I conspired with other management members (who sat near her) to slip a fake mouse into her top desk drawer. Come the fateful day, we all waited as she sat down to her desk that morning, started to work, spoke on the telephone. I dropped all kinds of clues to the other management members so that she could hear: mouse droppings had been found in the break room, some scratching had been heard, etc.

But, she wouldn’t open her desk drawer. Finally, I asked to borrow a pencil from her. She opened her drawer, saw the fake mouse and shrieked and we yelled “April Fools!” She asked who was responsible and I told her it was me. Then came the payoff: she started laughing and laughing and laughing. Perhaps it was the first time anyone did anything fun to or with her (because of her horrible attitude).

Interesting to note: after that, she was still cold as ice and mean, but she did show me a slighter softer side.

23 February 2017

My First Collectible

I remember acquiring this little thing when I was probably three or four years old. My mother and I were at some kind of antique or collectible store (for what reason I don’t know as we never shopped at such stores to my recollection) and I was admiring this little porcelain thing. The owner of the shop, entranced that I was such an adorable tike, just gave it to me. I was surprised, but it made sense (seeing how I was adorable).

Not sure what it is, but probably an individual salt cellar, porcelain with gold paint and roses printed on the side. No identifying marks, but it’s at least 50+ years old (based on my age when I got it). I’ve had it in my possession all that time. Can’t tell you what struck me about it originally. I liked the roses or the shiny paint or whatever. No idea. I remember the man was really nice. Seriously, it’s like it just happened day before yesterday.

I’ve collected a lot of neat things in the ensuing five decades but this was the first. This in no way reflects my taste in collectibles, which runs toward mid-century modern. But, there you are!

15 January 2017

Two Years and Counting

Today is two years since the heart surgery that saved my life. I literally had about two weeks to go before a valve would have failed and I would’ve ceased to have heart function. Pretty scary to think about how things might have been. I can't say that brush with death made me rethink my life, to make every minute count, to do the things I always wanted to do. I’m fortunate that I’ve always done what I wanted to do without regard to the disapproving looks from my parents, or the disappointed comments from friends. Fuck 'em, I always thought, and just went ahead and did what I wanted. For me, every minute has always counted. We only get one shot at this life and I wanted to be able to look back and say I always spent each minute the way I wanted, doing what I wanted with MY life.

Of course, in these two years I also found out I had cancer. Oh, well. Shit happens. I’m coping with that the same way I always coped with everything else: do what I want (to the extent my energy -- and kidneys -- hold out) and keep moving forward. Sure, my time on this planet might have been shortened, but I can honestly say there is nothing I ever wanted to do and didn't do. Except maybe visit Tokyo. That's still on the list of things I want to do. Hopefully, that’ll happen. If not, well, I've done all the other 99.75% of things I wanted in my life. I think that's pretty good.

I've made these last two years count just like I made all the previous years count, just like I hope to make the next year or two or three or however many count. Don't wait to do the things you want. Do them now because you might not have an extra two years to do them in.

03 January 2017

Being Nice Has Advantages

In 1992, I was in a pretty bad car accident (see photograph). A commercial truck went through a red light and I plowed into the side of it. I wasn’t hurt much, but the car was. (The police officer told me I was lucky to have been driving such a well-made car, otherwise, the result would have been much worse for me.) Being the sap that I am, I called the owner of the company and asked him not to fire the driver who caused the accident. Even though he wasn’t hurt, I was worried that he would lose his job.

Fast forward several weeks. The insurance representative for the company vehicle was insisting my precious 1977 Mustang II was totaled and offered me $500 to close the case. Insulted? You bet I was. 

Finally fed up with arguing with them, I called the owner of the company for which the other driver worked. I calmly told him I was being treated very unfairly by his insurance company. I explained that my father (of all people) said I should call my insurance agent and say my neck hurts and my back hurts from the accident (none of which was true) to get more money. Shocked, I told my father that people who lie like that are why insurance policies are so expensive. There was no way I would lie. I told the owner all I wanted was my car repaired like it was before the accident. Nothing else.

The owner was very understanding and told me he had to make a call and would call me right back. In about ten minutes, his insurance company called and told me they would pay the several thousand dollars needed to repair my car AND arrange for me a free rental car in the meantime.

I called the owner, shocked at the change of heart from the insurance company. “I have millions of dollars of commercial insurance with that company,” he told me. “I told them to treat you right otherwise I would pull all my policies and go to a company that would.”

It took a long time, but I got my beautiful car back, good as it was (see photograph).