Lost Days – Post 9

This is the 9th installment of the book I am currently writing. It is Sci-Fi/Adventure for young adult. It is not part of the Oz Chronicle series. The first draft is completed, and it is currently under review by my beautiful editor and wife, so the final version of the book will most likely look a bit different than what you read here, but I thought you might like to see a work in progress. Click on the “Lost Days Book” category on the right to read from the beginning. Or you can click here.

The temperature had dropped a good ten degrees by the time I left Owen’s house. I wasn’t prepared for the chill that hit me when I headed down Clark Street on my way home. The wind grew in intensity with each step. I folded my arms in front of my chest and tried to pull every bit of me in as close as I could to preserve body heat. I put my head down and picked up my pace, cursing the wind and the cold and anything else I could blame for the stupidity of cold weather.

I turned the corner onto Placid Avenue, excited that I just had two blocks to go. I looked up and stopped suddenly when I saw a beat up pickup truck with more rust spots than paint parked a half a block away from my house. Leaning up against the front grill of the truck, smoking a cigarette was Uncle Crew’s friend from the night before. He was even bigger when we were on the same level. He had one foot on the bumper of the truck, and was sucking intently on his cigarette. He didn’t notice me at first. I stepped forward and crunched a small pile of dried leaves beneath my feet. He looked up mid-exhale and smiled. Even from this distance, I could see that he was missing a tooth and the rest were a yellowish brown. He nodded as I passed. I was too scared to return the gesture. I passed the truck and sprinted the rest of the distance to my front door. As I turned the knob, I looked over my shoulder and was horrified to discover that he had moved to the back of the truck. His foot now resting on the back bumper, he waved as I practically tore the door off the hinges to get inside and away from his prying eyes and rotting teeth.

I stood in the foyer for a few minutes fighting hyperventilation. I doubled over and placed my hand on my chest, feeling slightly more upset that I could feel the thumping of my heart through my sweater.

Mom came down the stairs and was a little alarmed to see me so frazzled. “What’s wrong, honey?”

“Who’s that guy?” I said in between heavy breaths.

“Guy?” She asked moving to the foyer. She looked out the tiny window at the side of the door. “What guy?”

“The guy standing by the truck?”

Mom strained to see every inch of road visible through the window. “I don’t see a truck.”

I joined her at the window. He wasn’t there. “He’s gone.”

She looked at me with even more concern. “Did he hurt you, sweetie?”

I shook my head.

She grabbed my hand. “Are you sure?”

“Mom,” I said sounding critical and disgusted. “God no! He was just creepy looking.”

Mom rolled her eyes. “You think anyone over 30 is creepy looking.”

“Whatever,” I said.

“It’s true.”

“I…” I stopped myself. I wanted to tell her I had seen him the night before with Uncle Crew, but it would start a conversation about the murdered woman, and the feet, and Bigfoot. Frankly, I didn’t have the energy to have that conversation. “Most people over 30 are creepy looking,” I said walking away.

“I cannot wait until you’re 30, and I can throw that back in your face.”

I could feel her eyes on me my entire climb up the stairs. I quickened my pace and practically skipped to my room in a feeble attempt to put the whole embarrassing moment behind me. Really, what was so scary about the guy? Sure, he kind of looked like a serial killer, and I bet he’s had a run in or two with the law, but that’s no reason to be scared of him. I mean so what if he was waiting suspiciously in front of my house just as I was coming home.

Grover was sitting on his bed when I entered my room. He jumped when he heard me and hid something under his pillow.

“What you doing, squirt?” I asked.

He refused to look at me. “Nothing.”

“What did you put under your pillow?”

He gritted his teeth. “Why you always butting into my business?”

“C’mon, fess up.”

“It’s nothing!”

I approached him, and he darted his hand under the pillow and pulled whatever it was out and hid it behind his back.

“Cough it up or I’m going to tell mom you have one of her magazines again.”

“Shut up! That’s a lie!”

I held out my hand.

He shot me a death glare and then slapped the object in my hand. It was a newspaper clipping. I uncrumpled it and read the headline out loud.

“Steven’s County Toddler Still Missing.” I sat down on Grover’s bed and continued to read. “A Steven’s county man holds out hope that his missing four-year-old boy is still alive even though the authorities have long since given up the search. For Hank Stanton it has been an especially trying time…” I looked at Grover. “Granddaddy… Where did you get this?”

“The garage,” he said. “In a box under his workbench.” He scooted closer to me and lowered his voice. “It’s a story about Uncle Crew. He’s the toddler. Granddaddy’s wife… the one before Nana Taffy… she was driving on this mountain road. It was icy and she lost control. The car went over a cliff. When the rescue people got there, she was dead, and Uncle Crew wasn’t anywhere to be found.”

I skimmed the story for more details, but other than Granddaddy being devastated that his wife was dead and his son was missing there wasn’t much more to it. The story was written six months after the accident.

“I bet that’s why Uncle Crew is crazy. He hit his head or something,” Grover said as he gently took the clipping from me.

“How did he survive?” I asked no one in particular.

Grover shrugged. “Wolves or something.”


“He was raised by wolves or something. It happens.”

I took the clipping back from him. “Don’t be ridiculous.” I stood. “C’mon.”

“Where we going?”

“The garage. We’re putting this back were you found it.”

“Aww, do we have to?”

“Yes. This is private stuff.”

“It was in the newspaper. How’s that private?”

“Because it is. It belongs to Granddaddy, and we need to put it back before he gets home.”

Grover pushed out his bottom lip and pouted as he stood. I stepped back and let him lead the way.

He clomped through the house as if I were making him do the most terrible task on the planet. We passed through the kitchen, avoiding any conversation with mom and Nana Taffy, and marched out the door and to the garage. I was immediately struck by the smell of cigarettes as we entered. Granddaddy didn’t smoke, and I was pretty sure Uncle Crew didn’t either. I should have turned Grover around and exited the garage immediately, but I passed it off as a harmless phenomenon and followed Grover to the far right corner of the garage.

“Where’s the light?” I asked.

“The switch is on that wall,” Grover said pointing to the wall next to the workbench.

I stumbled through the dark ahead of Grover. The smell of cigarettes was much stronger now. The light suddenly came on and I swallowed a scream when I saw Uncle Crew’s friend standing by the workbench, smoking a cigarette.

“That better?” he asked.

Grover grabbed my hand.

I stood frozen. I wanted to yell for help, but my mouth went completely dry. Running was out of the question because my knees were shaking so badly it was a wonder I could even stand. “Who… What…?” I couldn’t even decide which question to ask him.

“Jeremy Robinson,” he said much cheerier than I imagined a serial killer would sound. “My friends call me J-Rob though. You know like A-Rod, except instead of an ‘A’ it’s a ‘J’ and instead of an ‘od’ it’s a ‘ob,’ J-Rob.”

I felt Grover’s grip loosen. “You play baseball?”

“Huh?” The burly man asked.

“You know, like A-Rod,” Grover said.

The man put one hand on his hip and scratched his wooly beard with the other. “Nope, but I see how you could be lead to that conclusion. My fault. My fault. No sir, I do not play baseball. Can’t even stand the game if you want to know the truth.”

“What are you doing in here?” I asked.

“Waiting for Crew. Me and him, we’re friends. He calls me J-Rob. I told you that was my name, didn’t I?”

Grover looked up at me. I tried to give him a reassuring smile.

“My grandfather doesn’t like people in his garage,” I said.

“Hank?” J-Rob asked.

“You know him?” I asked.

“Sure,” J-Rob said. He took a drag from his cigarette. “Known Hank almost as long as I’ve known Crew.” He looked at my hand. “What’cha got there?”

Momentarily confused, I lifted the hand up and examined the piece of paper I was holding. I had completely forgotten why we came into the garage. “This? This… it’s nothing. We just came down here to put this back.”

“It’s a newspaper article,” Grover said.

I jerked on his hand and scrunched my face in disgust.


“It’s just some old story,” I said. “Not very interesting.”

“Were you raised by wolves, too?” Grover asked.

I jerked his hand even harder. “Oh my god, you’re such a spaz.”

“Wolves?” J-Rob held out his hand. “Let me see that article.”

“I don’t…”

“C’mon, I’ll give it back.”

“It doesn’t belong to us…”

“Please,” he said.

I had never heard of a serial killer using the word ‘please’ before. Could I have been wrong about this monster of a man that stood before Grover and me? I’m not sure why, but I felt compelled to give him the clipping. I slowly placed the article in his hand. I watched in amazement as he held the piece of paper a foot away from his face, and his eyes darted across the words on the clipping with almost lightning speed. He held the lit cigarette between his index and ring finger as he read, and squinted against the smoke that drifted across his field of vision. He handed the clipping back to me.

“Terrible and wonderful thing that was,” he said.

Ignoring the oddness of his statement I said, “You know about this?”

“Sure. Told you, me and Crew are friends. I know everything about him.”

“He was missing for six months?” I said in total disbelief.

“More like thirteen or fourteen. Can’t remember exactly. Crew knows. Knows from the second the car accident happened ‘til the day he was found by a group of whitewater rafters on the Kettle River.”

“How…” I started.

“How did he survive?” J-Rob asked for me. “That’s the million dollar question. That’s the question that you don’t ask unless you really, really, really want to know the answer.” He twirled his hand with the cigarette high in the air as if he were conducting an invisible orchestra. “That’s the question you ask only if you’re prepared to flip your life upside down.”

Grover and I looked at each other. J-Rob was twice as crazy as Uncle Crew.

“Is that what happened to you?” Grover asked. Normally I would have punched him on the shoulder for asking such a stupid question, but I wanted to know the answer myself.

J-Rob thought about the question and then let out a mucus-laden laugh. I could practically see his over-taxed lungs deflate in his chest. “I came to the party like this. I wasn’t surprised at all by what happened to Crew. You know why? Cause I seen them, too. I heard them. My dog was killed by one of them when I was a kid. Long before I met Crew. My life was flipped upside down and back again and upside down again about a dozen times before I had the pleasure of meeting your uncle.”

“Who killed your dog?” Grover asked. I could hear the concern in his voice.

“You sure you want to know the answer?” J-Rob asked. “You can’t go back once I tell ya.’ Simple science. Once you know a thing, you can’t unknow a thing.”

“We better get back in the house,” I said.

“No,” Grover barked. “I want to know.”

“No…” I said. “I mean I shouldn’t be letting you talk to a stranger and…” I looked at J-Rob. “No offense.”

“None taken. Ain’t nobody stranger than me.” He smiled and winked.

I smiled faintly and nodded. I was just about to turn and leave when I remembered why we came in the garage in the first place. I handed the clipping to Grover and said, “Put it back where you found it.”

He took it from me and stepped toward J-Rob. He stopped and looked up at him. “You’re in the way.”

J-Rob threw up his hands. “Sorry. Don’t mind me.” He stepped away from the workbench. Grover hurried to a wooden toolbox underneath the bench and opened it. I saw dozens of clippings before he put the article in the toolbox and closed it. He stood quickly and rejoined me.

“Well…” I said. “We need to go.”

“Fine,” he said. “Pleasure meeting you. Don’t worry. I won’t say a word about the… you know.” He pointed down at the toolbox.

I grabbed Grover’s hand and quick stepped it out of the garage. I came away from the encounter with one prevailing thought. As nice and harmless as he seemed to be, he was big enough to beat a woman to death.

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Rejected Twitter Words

I had way too many martweenies and tweetedup with a total tweek.

I had way too many martweenies and tweetedup with a total tweek.

Here is a list of words incorporating the letters T and W that were rejected by the Twitter community (Twitterverse). These words were deemed too corny, sappy or stupid by the Tweople. Use these words in a tweet and you’ll come off like a total twool.

Twitler – A hater in the first degree bent on total Twitter domination.

Twickle – Finding oneself in a troublesome Twitter related situation. As in, “I’m in a real twickle because I just spammed my followers with a Viagra RT.”

Twanilla – Plain, ordinary tweets that lack any RT worthy excitement.

Tweek – An obsessed tweeter with almost single-minded devotion to all things Twitter and perceived to be overly –intellectual.

Martweeni – An alcoholic beverage consisting of gin, vermouth, and an olive and ordered in mass quantities at tweetups.

Twistory – A collection of past Twitter updates.

Tweegret To feel sorrow or remorse for a tweet.

Twegnant – The state of being with child as the result of a tweetup where too many martweenis were consumed.

Twuilty – having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong against the Twitterverse.

Twupercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Word sung by school children in Vienna to describe the meaningless nature all words other than Twitter that begin with T-W.

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The Georgia Bigfoot Body Duo – They’re Back & They Say They’re For Real This Time

Ive got an idea on how to get another 15 minutes of fame.

"I've got an idea on how to get another 15 minutes of fame."

Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer, the two Georgian bigfoot hoaxers who pulled the wool over no one’s eyes except the mainstream media last year, are back and crazier than ever. They are planning on celebrating the one year anniversary (August 15) of their bigfoot body prank with the unveiling of “real” proof of bigfoot. Allow me to invoke the spirit of Seth Meyers from SNL Weekend Update when I say, “Really? You put a rubber suit in a freezer, and sent possum guts out for DNA analysis last time, but this time you have ‘real’ proof. Really?”

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In case you were wondering, time travel isn’t possible.

Wait, I cant be here now because I wasnt here before.

Wait, I can't be here now because I wasn't here before.

In the science fiction world, time travel is a well worn plot device among writers. I’ve even used it myself in the Oz Chronicles (unreleased versions of book 2 & 3 are absent the time jumps). Time travel is often a topic of conversation among sci-fi enthusiasts. Light speed, wormholes, psychokinetic methods, are the usual means by which people imagine time travelers can tear down the walls of time and space and reach a past or future destination. It’s fun to speculate.

But in case you’re harboring any thoughts that time travel is possible, let me assure you it’s not. I am 100% positive time travel isn’t possible. How can I be so sure? It has nothing to do with my knowledge of science. Everything I know about science I made up, so never trust me on a science question. No, logic is why I am so positive that time travel isn’t possible. It comes down to one simple fact. It hasn’t happened yet.

Logic dictates that once time travel is achieved it will have always been possible. Time travel will never be achieved because it hasn’t already happened. By the time you travel back in time, you will have done it before. In other words, once mankind achieves time travel, time will cease to exist in its present form. Since time is still time as we know it, that means it is still time in the same form in the future, therefore time travel never was and will never be possible.

If time travel were possible, I would go back in time to make myself not so bored that I would resort to writing a useless post about how time travel isn’t possible. As it is, there isn’t time.

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Rewrites are done so of course I will celebrate with a Seth MacFarlane student film.

Okay, the first round of rewrites are done on Lost Days. Mia (me beautiful wife) will give it a read hopefully this weekend, and if she likes it, I will send it to my agent. Why Mia? Because in addition to being my biggest fan, she’s my most ardent critic. And that is a good thing when you are a writer. I’m lucky to have her in my life because she makes sure that I don’t look like too much of an idiot with stale and sloppy prose. If she doesn’t like it, I know it needs work. It helps that she worked as a proofreader and technical writer for years.

I heard Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy) on the radio this morning, and he made reference to a student film that got him his first job in animation. Being a huge fan of his work, I looked it up on Youtube and sure enough, I found it. I post it here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy, and do a little dance for me. It always feels good when you finish the rewrites on the first draft.

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An oldie (almost) but a goodie viral video

I’m swimming in rewrites today so here’s a gorilla video to keep you entertained. This is a variation of the 2007 viral video campaign by Cadbury.  The original was done with Phil Collins song, In the Air.  I guess Phil objected and they pulled the video, but some other artists (music and video) put their own spin on it.  This is the Sean Kingston sampling version of In the Air. 

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RT – The Ultimate Web 2.0 Status Symbol

Will work for a RT!

"Will work for a RT!"

I think there is no question that Twitter is taking over the universe. I realized this when my wife joined and actually seemed excited about it. This is the same woman who begged me to convince our nephew that people of our generation didn’t have Facebook accounts. I had to sheepishly explain to her that I had a Facebook account. She was devastated that I had pulled her into the Web 2.0 universe. She is an infrequent visitor to her Facebook page, but for some reason there is a palpable joy in her voice when she talks about her Tweets.

This morning I told her I had included her in a #followfriday Tweet. She was confused. I assured her that it was a good thing. I was telling my “Followers” she was worthy of following. That ultimately it didn’t say anything about her if no one followed her because of it, but it said volumes about my popularity with my followers. At this writing, no one has followed her because of my recommendation. Thanks “Followers.” You just made me look like a complete ass in front of the woman I love.

But I digress. The conversation turned to the Re-Tweet or the “RT” in Twitter-speak. I described it to her as the ultimate Twitter status symbol. You’ve said something insightful enough, clever enough, interesting enough for other Tweeters to pass along to their Followers, upping your Twitter Cachet. We all strive to earn the RT. In essence, we all want to be loved by all the Tweople, big and small. In fact, it borders on being a sickness. Twitterville is replete with quotes, both humorous and inspirational, that are meant for no other reason to get that precious RT. To what end? To get more Followers. To be loved by the throngs of Tweople. To be the originator of a viral comment that spreads across Twitterville.

The question is can you contrive to create a micro post that is RT worthy? Or does it have to be organic? It’s a challenge to say something quotable in 140 characters or less. I’m sure that marketers are studying this phenomenon in order to create a formula that will ensure that they will spread RTs like typhoid, the 140 characters that will help them sell their wares. They’ll never find it. The RT has to be organic.

I have to go because two guys are talking loudly about politics at the table next to me in Starbucks. Kind of annoying and they aren’t saying anything RT- able. Feel free to RT this post and please follow my wife.

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Let the Right One In – Creepy Vampire Flick


About as bloody as Let the Right One In gets!

About as bloody as Let the Right One In gets!

I haven’t been happy with the offerings in the way of vampire books and films lately. There’s a concerted effort to lift the vampire from the pages of horror books and place them squarely in the gooey center of romance books. The same is true in the cinema and television. Today’s vampires are glorified underwear models with not so much a lust for blood, but a lust for hair gel and full body waxings.

I’m happy to announce that I have found a vampire flick that just really creeped me out to the bone. Let the Right One In is a Swedish film, and it is absent of any pretty boy vampires. Not only is it satisfyingly creepy, but it is a totally original vampire story. It is the story of a young, introverted boy being raised by his single mother in a nondescript apartment building in a nondescript small community in a nondescript country. In fact, the nondescript nature of the setting adds to the sinister feel of the film. One winter evening a young girl and what appears to be her father move into the apartment next to the boy and his mother. The boy, alone and despondent, befriends the girl, something she warned him would never happen. Not surprisingly, we discover that the girl is a vampire and she has an uncontrollable urge to drink blood. The old man is not her father, but her servant keeper. I don’t want to give up too much of the story, but I will say that it is not gory. There are very few “look away” moments. In fact, I was glued to the screen. It is a subtly scary, infinitely eerie, ultimately sweet story.

The one drawback is that it is a Swedish film dubbed over in English. The bully at the school sounds like a member of the lollipop guild, but that is a forgivable slip in an otherwise flawless vampire film. To all you Americans bent on making vampires fashion models please stop. Take a lesson from the makers of Let the Right One In and bring back the creep-factor in our American vampires!

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Don’t Sell Me Anything!

Id like to sell you... nothing!

I'd like to sell you... nothing!

Granted, I am really slow, but I just came to the realization that I don’t want to be sold anything. I want to be informed. I want to be dazzled. I want to be amused. I want to be delighted. But I do not want to be sold. I feel like I’m being worked when I’m being sold something. In short, I feel used and uni-essential – I’m only important to the seller’s cash flow.

I came to this revelation during my pursuit of finding out about all things marketing. I’m an author. I have books that I need and want to sell. I’ve researched and tinkered and experimented with all types of marketing strategies, and I always come away with the feeling that I was trying to sell something. It made me feel… inauthentic. It’s a strange position to find yourself in when you want to learn everything there is to know about marketing, but never ever want to be marketed to.

This blog was a calculated element in my marketing strategy. It was created to sell books. I use the word “was” because without me realizing it, it has evolved into something much more than a marketing tool. In fact, I no longer consciously use it to sell my books. It is a way for me to express myself, to meet other like-minded people, to get goofy and have a blast. This is my attempt to inform you, dazzle you, amuse, and delight you. Everything I want out of a relationship. You are not a source of cash for me, and I promise to never treat you that way.

For authors looking for advice on how to market your book, don’t. Not in the classic sense of marketing, the kind of marketing that results in a sales pitch. Take part in the kind of marketing that is centered on building relationships instead. It’s much more fulfilling, and you’ll never feel disingenuous or phony. You obviously think you have something important to say because you wrote a book. Be yourself and spread your message without asking for the sale. If you do that, you’re going to end up with something much more valuable than a sale. You’re going to end up with a supporter.

And remember; never, ever sell me anything.

Here are some experts at the Tools of Change conference this year kind of saying the same thing, only much, much better,  and with a lot more gravitas.

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