Unusual (but very appreciated) care package from Stella Artois…

I’ll preface this post by saying “Don’t judge me”. No seriously, don’t judge. I take my “me time” wherever and whenever I can get it, whether it’s a quick lunch at Barnes & Noble with the laptop, or a coffee at Panera with the tablet, or as in this case, a single beer at Chili’s while my son is doing a 45 minute karate class next door.

I sit down, knowing (a) I only have 40 minutes, and (b) I can only have one beer since I’m the epitome of the responsible driver, and order my usual (again don’t judge), a pint of Stella Artois, draft. The bartender smiles sadly and says, “sorry, the manager replaced the Stella tap with Yuengling a couple of weeks ago.”

Jaw. Drops. Seriously? And before I get a flood of “hey, I like Yuengling” comments, I’ll cut you off: I don’t. At all. And I’m a beer snob. A crisp, clear, cold pint of Stella is hard to match, and Yuengling falls well short, in my opinion.

What does a socially-responsible person do? Tweet, of course:

What happens next is the unusual part. I get an email the next day via my site from the New York-based marketing company that represents Stella Artois in the US, saying “Stella Artois saw your tweet about replacing it at Chili’s, and wanted to send you something to fuel your creativity.”

Wha? I immediately email back with a “Stop it, seriously?” only to get a “Yes, seriously” right back. So stalking aside, I send back my address, thinking I’d get a logo coaster or two…but no. Next day UPS:


Which turns out to be 12 bottles of Stella Artois:


Fueling creativity indeed. A big thanks to Stella Artois to being aware, the HL Group for saying hello, and Chili’s for screwing up in the first place.

I think these will get me through a few new chapters. Or one. Mostly.



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One of the most powerful speeches I’ve ever listened to. Coach Kelsey on the CT tragedy

Here’s a guy, speaking his heart, and using the rare opportunity of playing a highly ranked team and being in the national spotlight to voice a strong, powerful, and stirring speech. I saw an interview with Pat Kelsey today; his remarks were completely unrehearsed, off the cuff, and unplanned. When the reporters said, “Anything else?”, he had something else.

Take a listen, and give your kids a big hug.


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Gotta love NASA…already have a “See? Told you!” video prepared for the day after the apocalypse.

At least someone has their heads on straight. No, folks, the world won’t end. And no, the Mayan calendar doesn’t end. Just like your calendar doesn’t end on December 31st. You’ll just get a new one. But in case you’re worried, here’s a video all set to go out on the 22nd. If we’re still here…

However, one thing NASA didn’t address in their point-by-point debunkment: If Kim Kardashian actually traveled throughout the Middle East and met with dignitaries and ambassadors, isn’t that a sign of the impending apocalypse itself?


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A quick rant on why 12/12/12 only happening once is NOT special, why bad things DON’T happen in threes, and so on

It’s the morning of December 12th, 2012, and already I’m seeing the tweets flying about “12/12/12 only happens once in a lifetime!” And while that’s true, I’m asking you peeps to slow your roll. You know what other date only happens once in a lifetime? You guessed it – tomorrow, 12/13/12. And the next day, and the next day. And while it’s cute to say all the numbers are the same, it’s no different from 12:12PM with 12 seconds happening once a day, or any other “wow, can you believe it?” proclamations. (Even Papa Johns just sent me an email to “celebrate 12/12/12” by buying one pizza at $12, getting a second for $.12 – c’mon, does anyone ‘celebrate’ this?)

I think people are overly fascinated with numbers and TRY to make them fit some cosmic pattern, but I’ll have to be the wet blanket to tell y’all that it simply ain’t true. So here I go busting a whole bunch of other numerical myths that drive me batty:

• Wow, did you see last night’s Pick Three? Cosmic, man! What are the odds of 333 coming out in the lottery? Uh, the same as 478, or 139, or 982. Every number has the same chance to come out (exception being the big hopper of ping pong balls, where a number can only come out once). So while it looks cute, odds are the same (hence the same payout).

two_roulette_displays• The roulette wheel just came up black seventeen times in a row! It’s gotta be red next time, put everything on red! It’s DUE! What are the odds it’s black again? Uh, same as the odds it will be red, just under 50/50. The roulette wheel has no memory; it’s completely random every time , which is WHY the casinos put up that big board showing the past few spins. They want suckers, er, customers to think they see a pattern and bet big. Same for the “hot hand” in craps – dice have no memory.

• My personal favorite: bad things (usually celebrity deaths) happen in threes. Yes, three celebrities can (and will) die, and sometimes within a short time frame. Does that mean they die in threes? No. What it means is that YOU STOPPED COUNTING. That fourth celebrity that died a few days later? No one factors him/her into the equation because it’s not as whoa/spooky. Two celebs croak, everyone holds their breath for the third, and when he turns up in the back of a Bentley, face covered in white powder, everyone says “See? Threes man!” Then the next day Abe Vigoda* kicks the bucket and people say “watch out, there will be a second and a third soon!” Stop it. You’re actually starting over when that fourth one goes.

*Believe it or not, Abe Vigoda is actually alive…how I have no idea, but here’s an awesome Abe Vigoda Status page so you can track him.

I’m in the travel biz, and last year we had a lot of brides-to-be requesting 11/11/11 for their destination wedding date. A LOT. One of them was a friend and she was insisting, regardless of cost, to be married on that day. She said “11/11/11 will be something we remember every year.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her next year 11/11/12 wouldn’t sound nearly as cool.

Any similar ‘urban myths’ you guys have? Make this your online therapy couch…


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My name is Steve, and I’m addicted to technology. [Hi Steve!]

There, I said it. I knew it deep down, down in the crevasses of my gadget-loving heart, but it wasn’t until I tried to plug one of my numerous devices into an outlet that was already full of devices that it hit me. I’ve got a problem. And the problem within a problem is that I, one of the big proponents of “convergence” in technology, the guy who used to read books on his iPhone of all things, now seem to be duplicating tasks just so I can play with a new toy.

My next phone purchase

My next phone purchase

I sat down last night and counted my crap:

  • MacBook Pro
  • Samsung Chromebook
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Nook Color running Android
  • Kobo e-reader

Doesn’t sound like a lot just yet, does it? But then I realized how much I seem to be specializing.

I use the MacBook Pro primarily for business, and I found that my writing suffered while using it because I couldn’t just get away from “work” and into that writing mode, if that makes any sense. So I bought a Samsung Chromebook for writing only, and it’s great. Super light weight, long battery life, yes it works offline, and I can open just one tab for Google Docs and sit down and write.

I’ve had an iPhone since the original version, never thought to get an iPad because to me it was a ‘tweener, something in between my iPhone and Mac, and unnecessary. So I bought a Nook Color for reading, but that didn’t last long until I rooted it to Android and it became a small tablet. That led into the iPad of course, and then I decided to appropriate my son’s unused Kobo e-ink reader for when I was away and reading outside. On my last trip I actually packed three different devices solely that I could read a book wherever, whenever. Seriously. Three. And it’s not four because I was bringing my phone anyway.

Goodness gracious. It hit me that I now had FOUR devices I could read books on, and I spent an entire day trying to figure out how best to sync* among them so I wasn’t losing my page. Do I now need four different reading devices? Two different laptops? Two tablets?

* My most recent solution for syncing sideloaded content, outside of my iDevice-only post, is this: emailing a .mobi file (after converting it from ePub using Calibre) to my Kindle address. By sending the file into Amazon’s cloud, it will now sync across all Kindle devices and apps, so my iPad/iPhone/Nook Color Android all can use that app and sync furthest part. The Kobo is left out…

The final straw was when I ordered a Nook Simple Touch Glow, ostensibly to give to my wife for Christmas because she reads at night, but then realized I only did it so I could have her old Nook because the ancient Kobo was too slow and wouldn’t sync with anything else. Ho. Lee. Crap. My inner goddess chewed her lip and started screaming “SLOW YOUR ROLL.” And this was after debating whether or not to pick up a Chromebook with 3G when they get released so I can be online anywhere. Whoa.

Am I spoiled? Yeah, maybe a little, but I don’t drive fancy cars (yes, I’m rocking a 13 year old SUV) or live in a huge mansion, and have no other vices (gambling, drugs, etc.) to spend my cash on. So I find myself addicted to the next big gadget.

So… am I alone? Anyone more overloaded than me? If so, let me know – I just got paid last week and it’s burning a hole in my pocket…itchin’ for a new device…


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In Mexico on business. No really, I am. Swear.

I just realized today I haven’t posted any new material here in over three weeks. I suck.

The reason (excuse, whatever you want to call it) is I’ve been spending a lot of time since early October working on some projects with partners (day job stuff), and this week all the partners will be meeting with suppliers/hoteliers in Cancun for a week. It’s been a crazy month getting things together.

I’ve also been slacking on the blog because I’ve been, you know, writing. That thing I’m supposed to do. While I’m not “formally” doing National Novel Writing Month* this year, meaning I’m signed up for it and I’m writing during it, but not doing the hashtag blasting of word counts/Facebook writing groups/NaNo forums/etc. Just writing. And I can proudly say that as of 10PM Sunday night, my 11 day total for word count this calendar month just cracked 40,000. Not bad, not bad at all.

* An aside – Gabriel’s Redemption, my first full length work, was done (first draft) in 26 days during NaNoWriMo 2010, and Gabriel’s Revenge (3rd in trilogy) was ‘completed’ during NaNoWriMo 2011. This year, nothing formal, but working on something for fun (secret, sorry) in addition to Liberation (scifi work in progress).

I’ll be online here and there during the week, so if you see fit to drop me a comment below – you know, if you feel bad that I’m stuck in Cancun in November at a five star luxury resort – I’d love to hear from you.





UPDATE: Hey, just for the halibut (and just because I need some sanity from my online friends while I’m slaving away in meetings and inspections), I’ll give away a free ebook copy of Gabriel’s Journey, the complete Gabriel scifi trilogy, via a Smashwords coupon to the person who leaves the MOST CREATIVE comment on this post by 9AM ET November 14th. Ready? GO.

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Great article (checklist) from Chuck Wendig on preparing to write a novel

The man can tell it like it is. While the word choice may be…colorful at times, Chuck Wendig, an über-successful author, has put together an absurdly helpful and spot-on 25-point checklist of how to prepare to write a novel. With National Novel Writing Month just around the corner, it’s quite timely as well. If you’ve ever considered writing a novel (and who hasn’t?), sit down for ten minutes with a cop o’ joe, a notepad, and pencil, and READ IT.

Some great nuggets:

• Are you excited? Does the prospect of writing this thing both geek you out and scare you in equal measure? It should. If you don’t, this might not be the story you want to write.

• Don’t go in totally blind. You don’t need to map every beat, but even three hastily-scrawled phrases on a bar napkin (“narwhale rebellion, yellow fever, Mitt Romney’s shiny grease-slick forehead”) will be better than nothing.

• Write every day, sure, duh. But more importantly: figure out how much you’re going to write on each of those “every days.”

And in my opinion the best one, saved for #25:

• Stop Doing All This Other Stuff And Write Already

But seriously – go READ IT.


Doing NaNoWriMo? Have a writing-on-a-schedule tip? Hit me up below…

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Do one star reviews hurt sales? Or “how I spent a morning reading hilarious 50 Shades reviews”

I read an article last week (well, the majority of an article) on top-selling Amazon titles with huge numbers of poor reviews. The article stemmed from the paid reviews scandal headed by John Locke and his ilk, but it got me thinking. Do negative reviews hurt sales? I know when I see a poor review hit for one of my books, I read it thoroughly (while I unscrew the top to the MD 20/20), trying to see something I can improve upon for a future work, or if the dude who left the review was just having a bad day. But I also wonder in the back of my mind if that review could impact future sales. (And then out comes the second bottle of the Mad Dog.)

There are many (myself included) who will start by reading the one-star reviews of a book before deciding to purchase. If they are isolated, unrelated complaints, fine; but if there is a trend, or similar issue, then the book itself might not make the TBR list. One of the most controversial and talked-about best sellers recently has been the 50 Shades series, so I decided to take a peek at the one-stars for the first in the series. You know, to see if they’d hurt sales.

Two hours and a cramp from laughing later, I couldn’t take it anymore. The reviews are scathing, and probably better written than the book itself. And darned if they aren’t downright hilarious. There are currently over FOUR THOUSAND one-star reviews of that first book…and here are some of my favorite snippets (no, I didn’t read all 4,000…I would be undergoing emergency spleen replacement surgery right now):

“I’m convinced the author has a computer macro that she hits to insert one of her limited repertoire of facial expressions whenever she needs one.”

“I feel stupid for reading this book and wish I had spent that ten bucks on socks.”

“If crap had an a$$hole, this would be shooting out of it”

“I want to give this book to someone I hate and tell them it’s awesome. That’s how bad it is.”

“Take Stephenie Meyer’s ham-handed, awkward writing and turn down the “quality” dial about four – maybe five – notches.”

“There’s no plot. I have never actually experienced a book with no plot.”

“My inner-goddess turned fifty shades of crap as I bit my lip and rolled my eyes.”

“Try to imagine of the smell of a large crate full of month-old eggs in the dumpster behind a questionable greasy spoon diner on a muggy, sticky August morning. With a dead skunk on top. And garbage juice dripping onto the pavement. And a drunk guy urinating onto the whole thing. Now imagine rolling in that dumpster. Naked. That’s how this book made me feel.”

“And yes, you don’t drive through Portland to get to Seattle from Vancouver.”

“The redundancy is infuriating. It’s a wonder Ana didn’t gnaw her own lips right off her face or Christians hair didn’t fall out from constantly running his fingers through it.”

“Fifty Shades of Grey is not the first book I’ve thrown across the room – it’s the second – but it is the first book I also kicked after it hit the floor.”

“Ms. Steele and Mr. Grey. Aren’t those clever last names? What were the chances?”

“James has accomplished the unthinkable: making Stephanie Meyer’s writing look worthy of the Pulitzer by comparison”

“Zero stars. I rather read iTunes user agreements.”

And my all-time favorite:

“This is like Ke$ha of literature.”

Feel free to list your fave in the comments section…or hey, to keep me in perpetual cramps, some one-stars from The Casual Vacancy…there seem to be a few. Like outnumbering the five-stars by almost 50%.

I don’t think Ms. James is worried about the one-star reviews; right now, the 50 Shades books occupy the 5th, 6th, and 8th spots in Amazon’s overall Best Sellers for Kindle. So I doubt she’s pulled herself away from making sure to ward off the coming autumn chill by stocking up on royalties invoices and hundred dollar bills for kindling (no Kindle pun intended, but it worked, didn’t it?).

Before anyone rises up and defends popular literature *cough* by saying I’m making fun of the books themselves and how dare I, I’m not. None of these are my reviews; just the ones that others wrote that caught my eye. I’m simply passing on the good word. And wondering if reviews mean anything at all, sales-wise, in the long run.

Oh, and the wife read all three 50 Shades books, and said to me…aloud… “Is this all you have to do to get published??” I think she holds me in less esteem now…


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New SciFi work cover + title reveal! Okay, more title/less cover, I admit…

A couple of weeks ago I started work on a new military science fiction idea that had been stewing a bit in my mind – one that kept overshadowing the story I was working on so much, I decided to put the current story on hold and jump into the new one. One week and 10,000 words later, I was convinced that I was on the right track. So, like any patient person would do, I jumped the gun and commissioned cover art. Some may call it cart-before-the-horse, but I call it motivation. Now that someone else is working on artwork for the story I’m writing, I have to finish it. In other words:


I gave a few chapters of the current work to the über-talented (hope that little umlaut worked) Josh Powers, who did the original artwork for my Gabriel trilogy, and he’s already throwing some great ideas back at me. So without further ado, the work-in-progress cover for LIBERATION, Book One of the Horde Wars:

Okay, okay – I pulled a fast one. This is just a tentative shell I’m starting with – Josh’s art will come later down the road, and may change a bit as the story progresses. And who knows, I may even change the title. I’m not yet 100% sold on “Horde” as the bad guys, nor 100% sold on “Liberation” as the final title. And of course, as always, I’ll continue to play with the fonts. But right now, it’s the flavor-du-jour, and I’m rolling with it.

The setting has been established, the characters mostly fleshed out, the conflict brewing, and the plot line worked out (for the most part…these things tend to write themselves in different directions as we go along). And now with a cover on the way, it’s time for me to get back to work.

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