Jennefer Love Hewitt Loves Her Some Oz Chronicles

Jennifer Loves Oz Hewitt

J-Love plants a kiss on her copy of The Land of the Dead at a recent party she threw to celebrate owning a copy of The Land of the Dead.  They’ll celebrate anything in Hollywood.  I couldn’t make it because I couldn’t find a picture of me in a suit to Photoshop in.

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Enjoy this Bigfoot Art While I Await Edits

I’m waiting on edits, so I’m in a holding pattern on The Land of the Dead at the moment.  So, enjoy this somewhat abstract image of Bigfoot I put together in Photoshop Elements.

Peek-a-boo!

BTW – I created the above image from this frame of video.  I see  someone something trying to hide its face.  Other people see shadows and light forming what looks like a face.

Peek-a-boo fo' reals!

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An Oz Chronicle Factoid – The Gorilla That Inspired Ajax

I’m working on finishing up Book 4 of the Oz Chronicles.  I am so close, and I think I’ve found a new direction for Book 5 that came to me last night as I was writing.  Somebody searched for Ajax Takers Gorilla yesterday, and I couldn’t be happier.  I think that’s cool that someone is doing a search for one of my favorite characters in the books.  I thought I’d share a little Ajax history with you.  Ajax is based on a real gorilla by the name of Michael.  He was a member of Dr. Penny Patterson’s study to teach gorilla’s sign language.  Her most successful pupil is Koko.  Michael was actually brought into the study as a companion for Koko, but sadly, he passed away in 2000.  I found this video of Michael on Youtube.  It’s very emotional because Michael signs about how his mother was murdered.  Keep in mind, he didn’t know sign language when she died.  He’s telling his handlers about an event that happened in the past, and he describes his emotions.  It really is remarkable.

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Alyssa Milano’s Obsession – Lost Days Celebrity of they Day

Allyssa and Her Lost Days Collection

Allyssa Milano has gone overboard with her new favorite book.  Apparently, she so adores Lost Days that she’s decorated a room in her house to look like a Border’s bookstore, and she stands for hours in front of a Lost Days display just holding a copy of the book.  As the author, I am honored by her dedication, and concerned for her mental health.  Don’t get me wrong, I think buying and displaying copies of my book is an excellent hobby, but spending her time learning something like… oh, let’s say… Photoshop would be far more productive.

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“The Oz Chronicles” Might Be Going Away.

I don't think we're in the Oz Chronicles anymore, Toto.

UPDATE: MY OZ CHRONICLES ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE! Screw ’em.

So, I read a story this morning that has me seriously considering making a major change to my Oz Chronicle series of young adult novels.  I may be dropping the “Oz Chronicles” from the title. Warner Brothers Studios has a planned series of films in development based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz Chronicle series.  The Wizard of Oz, based on the first of fourteen books in Baum’s series, is one of the most popular films in cinematic history.  It seems that Warner Brothers is trying fill the void that will be left by the lack of future Harry Potter films.

While my “Oz Chronicles” has been compared to Baum’s “Oz Chronicles,” my books are not based on the legendary author’s books.  I have never read any of Baum’s books.  I watched the movie every Thanksgiving for probably 12 years, so I’m sure I was influenced by the story.  After all, my story is about a young boy named Oz who finds himself in a fantastical, horrifying land filled with monsters and warriors.  Obviously, I picked something up from all those years of watching the Wizard of Oz.  Now, my Oz books are much darker, and there are no ruby slippers, but still, I can’t deny the similarities.

So, where does that leave me?  I’m left with two choices.

1.) Keeping the name and fight to differentiate my books from what I’m sure will be a much-hyped big studio film.

2.) Changing the name and starting from scratch with the marketing campaign.

It seems that Warner Brothers is having problems with the licensing issues surrounding the “Wizard of Oz.”  If they use any element from that film – the ruby slippers for example – they have to pay MGM licensing fees, and since the books themselves are in the public domain Warner Brothers may not be able to stop anyone with a computer from designing t-shirts and capitalizing on the popularity of the film.  Hell, for all I know, Warner Brothers may come after me to change the title of my series.  But as I understand it, you can’t copyright a title, only the content.  Who knows?

Here’s an idea.  Hey, Warner Brother’s Execs, buy the rights to my Oz Chronicles and you’re in the clear!  Everybody’s happy.  You can contact my agent here: Let’s Make Big Monies!

There is never a dull moment trying to make it in publishing.  I should have been an Optometrist.

If you’re interested, you can read the story about the “Oz” films here:  ‘Oz’ Could be Next Big Film Franchise

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Land of the Dead: Book Four of the Oz Chronicles – Post 2

For those of you have read Books One, Two and Three of the Oz Chronicles, Book Four is coming.  I’ve decided to post

Coming Soon!

 excerpts until such time the print version is available.

You will also find the first three chapters of Land of the Dead in the paperback edition of Lost Days.

I am responsible for the end of the world.    Well, me and every other jerk like me who tortured the Storytellers.  Only they weren’t Storytellers then.  They were… different than us, slow, dumb, retarded.  We didn’t think they deserved to be treated like human beings so we treated them like something less than human.  But we were the ones being less than human.  We ridiculed them and shamed them until all they saw was a world with monsters.  They wrote stories about those monsters.  Drew pictures.  Created comic books. Eventually the monsters crawled out of the comic books and drawings and destroyed the world. 

It doesn’t seem real.  How could it be?  Monsters, Storytellers… It can’t be, can it?  Even though I live it every day, it’s hard for me to believe it.  Some Doctor… Psychiatrist I think, taught the Storytellers to think things to life.  He called it Hyper Mental Imaging.  That’s how all this happened.  Some shrink, Dr. Bashir caused all this.  He is responsible…

No. I am responsible for the end of the world.

***

I sat in a rusted metal folding chair under the shabby awning of an abandon BP convenient store.  My muscles ached.  My feet throbbed.  My hands cramped from my constant nervous habit of clenching and relaxing my fists.  All of this was background noise to me in my head.  I was only faintly aware of it.  My focus was on my parents. 

I missed them.  I had not seen them in… I had no recollection of how much time had passed since I last saw them.  It was in Atlanta… Délon City.  In the Georgia Dome… No, wait.  I couldn’t count that time.  They weren’t them.  Not exactly.  They were… in transition.  My father more so than my mother, but neither of them was human… more Délon than human.

The last time I really saw them. When they were human, and the sky was blue and there were no purple freaks or Takers or… pick your hellish monster.  The last time was in Tullahoma.  I was sick in bed with mono.  I was so hot I was cold.  I remember their worried faces.  My mother stroked my forehead and cried.  My dad rubbed his stubbly chin with his callused hand.  This meant he was scared.  My mother had told me this once when I was younger, six maybe.  He had just gotten the news that his mother had passed away.  He hung up the phone and stared at the wall, rubbing his chin just as he was the last time I saw him.

“He’s scared,” my mother said.  She sat me in her lap and allowed me to watch my father from afar.  For some reason it was important for me to see him at that moment.  It was new to me.  I had never seen him like that before. It concerned me, and yet fascinated me.  “It’s okay, Oz.  Scared is good.  Scared means we’re confused.   And we find confused right before we get to where we need to be.  Do you know where that is, Oz?  Where we need to be?”

I shook my head.

“Understanding,” she said.  “We all need to understand.  So you let your Pop be scared.  He’s just trying to understand.” 

It meant nothing to me at the time, but sitting in the unsteady chair, with black continents of clouds creeping overhead, and watching a Twix candy wrapper dance in a whirling stale wind across the cracked pavement of the BP station, I knew exactly what she meant.  Only I wasn’t sure there was ever a time I was going to understand what was happening to me, to my friends, my world.  I felt perpetually confused.  There couldn’t possibly be any good in that. 

I groaned as I repositioned myself in the chair.  I did not think it possible to feel so entirely soar.  I lifted my aching arm to rub my stiff neck and caught a glimpse of a girl I barely recognized staring at me from one of the defunct gas pumps.  It was Lou, but it wasn’t.  I was not used to seeing her like this… she wasn’t a little kid anymore.  She was a full-fledged teenager.  The wind blew her hair across her face.  And suddenly I was struck by the notion that she was… pretty.

She brushed the hair from her face.  “You can’t do that again, you know,” she said.

I didn’t answer right away.  I was in the middle of trying to decide if I liked her being pretty when she spoke.

“Hey,” she said.  “You hear me?”

“Yeah, I heard,” I said breaking eye contact with her.  “Don’t know what you’re talking about though.”

“Leave,” she said stepping off the pump Island and strolling closer.  “You were gone too long.  Things nearly went all to pot.  I didn’t like it much… that is to say, we didn’t like it much.”

“I wasn’t that thrilled about it myself.”

“Lost Valerie,” she said.  I heard her voice break on the last syllable. 

“I know.  Wasn’t your fault.”

She took a deep breath and squeaked out, “Kinda was.”  Her eyes welled up.

“We lost plenty on my watch,” I said.  “Soldiers die in wars.”

“She was just a kid.”  She dropped her chin to her chest and shook her head back and forth slowly.  “You can’t leave again,” she said almost begging now.

I stood and approached her.  “I promise, Lou.  I’m never leaving you… all again.”

She sniffed and nodded.  “We missed you.”

“Yeah,” I said.  I fought the urge to reach out and pat her shoulder. 

“Ain’t much in there,” Wes said exiting the building.  He cradled a load of mix and match snacks against his protruding belly.  “Pretzels, peanuts, cheese and crackers, pork rinds… couple of Twinkies.  One of them is mine,” he said.

Gordy appeared from behind him favoring his wounded shoulder.  Lou had dressed it, but it would need changing soon.  “That’s a surprise.  You like Twinkies.”

“Boy,” Wes said.  “You been gone all this time and this is how you’re going to start in on me?”

“I’m just saying that’s all.”  He took the cheese and crackers and held it up.  “Y’all mind if I have this?”

Lou and I shook our heads.

He tore the wrapper with his teeth and hurriedly started to devour the snack. 

Ajax lumbered over to us from the corner of the store followed by Kimball.  It was good to see my best gorilla and my best dog again. I had forgotten how much I missed them.  I took the remaining Twinkie and tossed it to Ajax.  He grinned and nodded his massive head in excitement.

Kimball whined.  I called him over and tore open the bag of pork rinds.  I gave him one of the fried fatty treats, and he crunched it tentatively at first and then quickly assessed that he loved the taste of it.  I dumped the rest of them on the pavement.  He pounced on the rinds with reckless abandon. 

I turned to Lou holding the peanuts in one hand and the pretzels in the other.  She snatched the pretzels from me.

“One thing’s for sure,” Wes said.  “This ain’t going to be nearly enough to keep up our strength.  I feel weak as a kitten.”

Gordy laughed.  “Lord, Wes if you don’t want me to make fun of you, you gotta stop saying things like that.”   

Wes looked at me.  “Can we send him back?”

I smiled and shook my head.  “Like it or not we need him.”

“Gee thanks,” Gordy said.

“Got any ideas where we’re headed?” Wes asked.

I popped some peanuts in my mouth.  “Playing it by ear.”

“What about Tyrone and April?” Lou asked staring a pretzel.

I searched for the perfect answer. The truth is I didn’t have much hope they were alive.  They got separated from the rest of us and were in the middle of a pack of Myrmidons.  I didn’t think it mattered much that I sent Ariabod and another gorilla to look for them.  They wouldn’t find them.  In fact, the gorillas were probably dead too.  “Can’t worry about them.” It wasn’t perfect, but it was honest.

“What do you mean?” Wes asked.

“I mean they’re in good hands with Ariabod,” I lied.  “He’s a great warrior.  They’ll find us no matter where we go.”  Ajax confirmed my statement with a nod and grin.

A strong wind whipped through the small parking area.  Dust and debris tumbled across the asphalt.  I looked down as an old brochure slammed into my leg.  I kicked trying to work it free so it could go on its merry way, but it wouldn’t come loose.  I bent down and grabbed it with the intention of tossing it aside without another thought.  Instead, four letters caught my attention – Bilt.  I looked closer at the trifold brochure.  Biltmore House.  I must have said it out loud because Lou asked me what I said.

I cleared my throat.  “Biltmore House, in Ashville.  My mom always wanted to go there.  Dad promised her we’d go.”

Wes grabbed the brochure from me.  “Biltmore, huh?  Yeah, I heard of the place.  Mansion.  Castle, really.  Built by the Vanderbilts I think.”

Lou approached, fixated on the photo of the Biltmore House.  “It’s beautiful.  How far is it from here?”

Wes thought about the question.  He surveyed the road in front of the convenience store.  “Two days walk, maybe less.”

“Let’s go,” Lou said.

“What?” I said sounding a little indigent.  “We don’t have time to sightsee.”

“Really?” she said.  “And why not?  You said yourself you don’t know where we’re going.”

“Well yeah, but…”

“We need some time to figure it out,” she said.  “We might as well figure it out in a pretty place.”

“We have to find the Land of the Dead,” I said.

She snickered.  “It’s going to find us.  You know that better than anyone.”

She was right.  I shrugged my shoulders, and she smiled.  It was all the happy she could muster.  Visiting a genuine American castle was small consolation when things like castles and America didn’t matter anymore. 

I thought about my parents again and realized that it wasn’t just them that were dead.  The entire world was dead.  Maybe we didn’t have to find the land of the dead.  Maybe we were all ready in it.

The sky began to rumble and roar.  Flashes of lightning burst over our heads.

“We should sit this out in the store,” Wes said.

No one argued. I was the last one to step inside the convenient store.  A torrent of rain fell as soon as I did and beat the metal building relentlessly. 

“Bad,” Gordy said.

“Ain’t much good about anything for awhile now,” Wes replied.

I turned to him.  There was something in his tone… he was done.  Defeated.  I didn’t like the sound of it… I hated it.  “You’re alive,” I said suppressing a visible display of my anger.

He huffed as if it were the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard.

“What?” I asked stepping toward him.

“Ain’t enough that’s all.”

“What is enough?”

He looked up at the ceiling and absorbed the unnaturally heavy sound of the rain.  “A sunny day.”  He looked at me.  “You know?  A real day.  A yellow sun.  A blue sky.  Puffy white clouds.”  Without warning he kicked at a rack of pine scented air fresheners.  “While you’re at it, I’d like to see my sister, and her good for nothing husband, and Pepper…” He looked at Lou.  “And Valerie.”

Lou bit her lip and looked away.

A crack of thunder shook the foundation of the convenient store. 

“You will…”

“Stop it, Oz!” Wes roared.  The power of his voice sent a heat wave through the tiny store.  “Just stop!”

No one spoke for several minutes.  We all were trying to understand Wes’ sudden outburst.  Even Wes.

Finally he spoke in much softer tones.  “I’m tired…”

“We all are,” I said.

“No,” he said, “let me finish.  I’m tired of hoping for things that ain’t never going to happen.  We gotta stop this foolishness.”

“Foolishness?” I said.

“That’s right, foolishness.  We can’t go back.”

I looked at the faces of the others.  They were stunned by his words.  “Yes, we can.”

“No, we can’t,” Wes said.  “We are being hunted down by… monsters.”

“Destroyers,” Gordy corrected him.

“Whatever.  They’re in charge.  This ain’t our world no more.  We need to face that and…”

“Do what?” I asked.  “What good will it do for us to just give up?”

“It will keep us off the warpath for one thing,” Wes said.

“No,” Lou said.  “It won’t.  They’ll keep coming after us.  We can’t quit this.”

“That might not be true,” Wes said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“The Délons are losing control.”

“So,” I said.

“So I figure they will be fightin’ among themselves soon enough.  They won’t have time to fool with us.  I say we head up North.  Find a nice cold spot to lay low.  Let the Destroyer’s wipe each other out.”

“Won’t work,” Lou said.  “Oz is the key to finding their source.”

“No, I’m not.”

“They think you are,” Lou said.  “That means you are.”

Wes looked at me.  He wanted to say something, but he didn’t.  He shrugged his shoulders.  “I’m just having a bad day.  Y’all don’t pay no attention to me.”  He walked to the window behind the counter and watched the rain.

I stepped to the opposite end of the store bothered more by what Wes didn’t say than what he said.  They were all better off without me.

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Land of the Dead: Book Four of the Oz Chronicles – Post 1

Coming Soon!

For those of you have read Books One, Two and Three of the Oz Chronicles, Book Four is coming.  I’ve decided to post excerpts until such time the print version is available.

   You will also find the first three chapters of Land of the Dead in the paperback edition of Lost Days.

I died when I was eleven.  It was a family vacation on Oak Island, North Carolina, extended family; cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, even some foreign exchange student from France.  My cousin Anthony and I swam out past a sandbar scaring the crap out of each other by yelling shark every five minutes.  We screamed and laughed and drifted along the shoreline.  That’s when it hit us.  A current, riptide I think they call it, sucked us off our feet and started carrying us farther out from shore.  We both panicked.  I kicked and sputtered across the surface of the water, swimming against the current.  My breathing was quick and shallow.  I grunted and pounded my arms on the choppy surface of the ocean.  I looked to my left where Anthony had been and all I saw was the top of his head as he submerged.  I opened my mouthed to call out his name and sucked in a mouthful of salt water, causing me to hack and cough as if my lungs were trying leap out of my body.  Anthony resurfaced.  In between gasps, he managed to yell for help.  I tried to do the same but only swallowed more water.  My arms felt like lead weights.  I felt myself sinking.  I fought harder… attempted to fight harder, but I didn’t have the strength.  I tilted my head back, keeping my nose out of the water, and tried to breathe through my mouth out of reflex.  The water flooded my lungs.  I couldn’t even gasp.  A searing pain, as if my breast bone was about to crack and split open, was the last thing I remember before everything went dark. 

I was dead.

I don’t know how long it was before they revived me.  I was lying on my side on the beach. The foreign exchange student had her finger in my mouth shouting, “Ee is breading!  Ee is alive!”

It felt like I was spewing a couple of gallons of water.  My chest still felt like it was going to crack open. 

I heard mom’s voice.  “Oz! Oh my God, Oz!”  Her knees popped as she knelt down beside me.  She gently placed her hand on top of my head.  “Sweet baby.”

“Where’s Anthony?”  I heard someone ask.  I think it was my Aunt Sade, Anthony’s mother.

I didn’t hear anyone answer her. 

“Where’s Anthony?” she repeated, a little more shrill than before.

“They’re looking.”  The voice belonged to my cousin Johnny.  His too deep voice gave him away.  He was the oldest and vastly most bored of the Griffin kids, and he usually talked with a dull cadence, but now he sounded defensive and scared.

“Who’s looking… for what?” Aunt Sade asked breathlessly.

An answer came after a long pause. 

“Anthony,” Johnny said.  “He’s in the water.”

He said it without saying it.  Anthony had gone under. He’d drowned.  He was dead like me, but unlike me they wouldn’t be able revive him.  It would be hours before they even found him. 

Until the world ended that was pretty much my worst day.

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Freaky Search Friday – January 22, 2010 Edition

bertconvy

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this edition of Freaky Search Friday, but I just thought I might as well post it now because it's just a matter of time before someone searches for a shirtless Bert Convy!

So, it’s been a while, but they’re back!  The freaks in all their freaky glory.  These are the weird and wacky search terms some folks used to find my blog.  I’ve decided not to number them any more.  That’s prejudicial of me.  I’ll leave it up to you to pick the best.  Besides, I love using bullet points!  They are so much fun.

  • how many books oz chronicles by r. w. ridley – Okay, so this isn’t a freaky search, but I just felt obligated to include it because a.) It’s cool that someone cared enough about the Oz Chronicles to search the interwebs for information on them, and 2.) This is the perfect opportunity to tell you that I am working on Book 4.  It’s coming soon!  I promise.
  • friend logo – Don’t brand your friends, dude.  Just let them be themselves.
  • awesome gorilla – Gorillas are totally awesome!  My wife and I just adopted four of them!  More on that later.
  • jerry seinfeld nudes – Nudes?  I prefer him clotheds.
  • p90x almost passed out – I too almost passed out from P90X.  But as Tony says, do your best and forget the rest.  I was smart enough stop before I actually hit the floor.  BTW – I’m on about day 150.  Love me some P90X.
  • mrs lane kiffin – Only weird because of the volume of searches for Mrs. Lane Kiffin.  It was by far the number one search term during that whole Tennessee Football debacle.  She’s as pretty as her husband is disloyal to a football program.
  • is bigfoot real the truth please – First of all, thank you for saying please.  Second of all, he is so real.  You’re welcome.
  • failing is okay – I agree unless you’re a parachute.  I would pretty much insist you have a 100% success rate in that case.
  • Leatherboobs – This has appeared before.  What up with that?  I think this is because my friend Woody made a comment that someone found her blog using this word.  I’ve got nothing against fake boobs, but that’s just a bit ridiculous.  Technically, I think cow utters are leather boobs.
  • jeff Goldblum favorite sandwich – Hmmmm, searching for a celebrities favorite sandwich, yep that’s pretty much why they invented the interwebs.   I believe Mr. Goldblum is a sandwichetarian.   He’s really into sandwich rights, although I  think  he still eats gyros.  Hypocrite!

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Bad Review Monday (Reprint)

One bad review don't spoil the whole bunch, now!

 

 

(Originally posted on June 5, 2008) I  just popped on over to Amazon and noticed I got a new review for The Pure. I was excited to see that it is a one star review. I haven’t gotten one yet, and I wondered how I would react. I’m actually very encouraged by the review. The review didn’t just “not like” The Pure. She hated it. She was offended by it. She wants to burn my books because they so corrupted her children. I have never felt more honored. Some uncorrected pre-publication editions made it out into the public bins, so I was afraid of seeing some negative reviews in regards to that, but this is actually a cool negative review. I’ve struck a nerve! Here’s the review:

Terrible………My teen boys love to read so I am always looking for a good series. I typed in teen fiction and this series popped so I bought all of them. After they were almost done with the series, I asked them what it was about. By the time their description was over I felt like I wanted to throw up. What had I subjected them to? I couldn’t believe the gore details they described. Sure that I had not subjected my Sons to this type of disgusting reading, I had them read aloud. I made them stop and took the books away. I cannot believe that these were in the teen section. Gross, Gore, Evil, Blood, Guts……….I’m so full of regret that I had ever bought these. The series should not be listed anywhere near teens. In fact, it should be labelled with a parental advisory. I think I’ll burn the books. I will use much more discretion with my selections from now on!

In case you’re wondering, the Oz Chronicles is about the power of forgiveness. There is a lot of gore and blood and guts and good old fashion creepy crap. I wrote what I like, and what I feel is engaging. This mother apparently did not agree with my storytelling technique. She has the right to raise her children as she sees fit and in the spirit of the message of the book, I won’t hold her opinion against her.

But I have to tell you, when someone wants to burn your book because of the nature of the content… well, you couldn’t ask for better publicity. I hope she spreads the word.

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