Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jack London's "The Sea Wolf"...A Review


My wife got the audiobook for Jack London's The Sea Wolf for our kids school and when I saw it, I just had to download it.

I'm glad I did!

But, to be honest, I was a little apprehensive about reading it. The last time I read a book about a sea voyage (not counting Kevin J. Anderson's excellent novel Nemo...) was Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Sailor and I had a really tough time getting through that.

Of course, I read Melville's book as I was just beginning grad school and I'll bet if I read it again, it wouldn't be as difficult. So I thought maybe this book might be similar even though they were written roughly a century apart.

I was wrong.

I found The Sea Wolf had an incredibly contemporary feel, at least to me. The story was engaging, even  considering the different styles of today's adventure tales. If I lived in 1904 when this work was published, it would be the equivalent of the latest summer blockbuster. Imagine, people excited to read a new novel the same way we think about wanting to see a new movie. There's an innocence in that.

If you haven't read The Sea Wolf, I highly recommended it. London packs his relatively short story with adventure, intrigue, betrayal, and even a love story. So, if I do go read Billy Budd, Sailor again, I think I'll also re-read this one.

* Photo used without permission from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43049.The_Sea_Wolf?from_search=true

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blast You, Ghirardelli!

Okay, I admit it. I enjoy eating Ghirardelli chocolate chips. I like them in cookies, in muffins, in cupcakes (and cakes...), or just by themselves. I like all the various kinds the chocolatier produces, but I'm especially fond of the dark.

After all, dark chocolate is good for you. Really! I read it somewhere!

I don't eat a lot of chocolate, other than an occasional chip. I mean, after eating this stuff, a lot of what's out there doesn't even compare. So, imagine my shock when I was notified today that "Big Chocolate" has sneakily made changes to they way they operate. 

And I am none too pleased.

It seems, at some point in the past, when we purchased a package of the deliciousness known as Chirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate, we were buying 12 oz of the addicting almost black ambrosia. And unbeknownst to us, a change was made. No longer do we buy a 12 oz package--oh no! We're only getting 10 oz and for the same price!

Oh, the humanity!

The change was so subtle we don't know when this crime was committed, and a crime it surely is. Still, I'm not so worried about today, but it's the future that troubles me. Will we one day be required to spend the same amount for 8 oz? Or 6 oz? Or, Heaven forbid, 4 oz?

If so, that will be a dark day indeed!

Oh, and my own serving suggestion...eat them right out of the bag!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Call...A Short Story

Time For A Short Story

Just look at these two pictures. They're sweet! Now, what kind of a story can I come up with using 500 words and these two cute pictures?

And if you'd like to join me in my quest to write an engaging short story, here are the rules:

1) Use both photos in your story.
2) Keep your word count 500 or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday night to link up your post.
4) Use the Blue Link to add your story at: Leanne's, Debb's, or Tena's websites.
5) Have fun, don't stress, and let those creative juices flow!

So, let's have some stress-free creative fun!

The Call

The coffee Dan ordered grew cold as he sat at the deli catching up on several e-mails on his phone in preparation of his upcoming day. No rest for the wicked, the twenty-eight year-old corporate lawyer liked to say. 

The call came in and he almost ignored it. He didn't recognize the number, but he decided to answer it because the area code originated from when he attended law school.

"This is Dan," he spoke into his Bluetooth headset as he quickly returned to his mail app after getting the call.

"Mr. Sparks? Dan Sparks?

"This is Dan Sparks," he said as a mild wave of panic washed over him. He didn't recognize the voice, but he knew this was not an ordinary call, not a sales call, not a client's call or a friendly call. This woman, whoever she was, was all business. "Who may I say is calling?"

"I'm Trisha Bradshaw from Arizona Family Services."

She paused, maybe for effect, maybe not. Maybe she wanted him to respond, to say something.

"And what can I do for you, Ms. Bradshaw?" Dan said, his mind racing to find a reason for this woman to be calling him on his cell phone.

"Mr. Sparks. I don't have a lot of time. I have some news for you that may be hard for you to hear. Do you remember Janice Munk?"

Did he remember? That name was forever burned into the living fibers of his heart. The only girl he'd really ever loved, who he had broke their engagement--how could he ever forget her? "Um..." he stammered. "Yes, of course. What exactly is the reason for this call, Ms. Bradshaw?"

"I'm calling to notify you that Janice Munk passed away two days ago."

Dan almost dropped the phone, him having long ignored those previously so important e-mails. "I'm...ah, I'm sorry to hear that." He wanted to say more, but all thoughts in his mind vanished--all thoughts, that is, except one: why would an employee of the Arizona Family Services need to call him with this information.

"I'm sorry you had to hear this from me, but it's important you know. I have other news that may be even more difficult for you to hear.

More difficult? This woman can't be serious. "And what might that be?"

"Mr. Sparks, before Janice passed away..."

"Excuse me, can I ask from what?"

"Certainly, she died after being struck by a car while bicycling."

Dan couldn't speak. The thought of that amazing, beautiful woman no longer alive began to rip his already pained heart in two. The news also brought back years of guilt he had tried to bury.

"Mr. Sparks, I apologize but I need to continue."

"Yes, please. Go ahead."

"I need to tell you that Janice leaves behind a four-year old daughter, your daughter, Mr. Sparks."

"But, she said she didn't have it," Dan almost whispered. 

"Apparently, she did. You're a father."

"A father," Dan said and he began to cry.

Word Count: 500

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Day In My Home Town...

I didn't take a lot of pictures today, but the ones I took I like. 

At the end of each day I pick out a picture to use as my "Pic Of The Day." And, as it happens sometimes, there are a couple of pictures vying for the honor.

Tonight as I scrolled through the two dozen or so pictures I took, I picked one then thought about the rest. The pictures tell a story, a story of one day for one person in one town.

When I wrote earlier that I like today's pictures, it isn't necessarily that they're great shots. They're okay--not exceptional as far as quality. However, the people and places in these pictures are. 

We live together, bound by family and culture. We gather and laugh and experience the roller coaster of life together. And so, I give you...

A baby falcon,

A father and his beautiful daughters,

A troubadour,

An interesting building,

A sign,

A main street,

A memory.

My day in my home town.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tagged...I'm It!

A friend of mine tagged me (and several others...) in a Facebook post, the post I've included here. This isn't the first time I've been chosen to participate in such an exercise of social media tag.

Usually, I don't reciprocate.

But, this one's pretty simple and I don't want to disappoint my friend, especially since he was so kind to include me along with a stable of other authors.

So, here's my addition to the game!

Title: Speckled
A collection of short stories including many different genres

Chapter 1: The stars, at least the ones Talukua knew all his life, were gone.
Chapter 2: Jenny was so tired, so tired.
Chapter 3: "Sure enough, that Jason don't know nothing."

And there you have it.

A couple of observations. I use a lot of passive voice in my first lines of things. Of course, these are the first lines of three different short stories so maybe that has something to do with it (sorry, Dave, for the deviation of the rules...).

And, my first lines are not as "kick butt" as Dave's. Then again, I'm not as tall as him, nor do I have his hair or the ability to grow a mustache.

Thanks, Dave! This was fun!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Announcing Marion Jensen's "Searching For Super"


Today I did a little surfing at work (while on a break, of course...), I ran across a post on Facebook from one of my friends, Marion Jensen. Marion was telling his Facebook friends, and, by at least six degrees of separation, the rest of the world that his next book will be released at the beginning of next year.

So excited he was--and for good reason--he was having a contest. I know several authors who do this, give away a book or an ARC of the work to those lucky few that cheat the randomness of chance and win. To enter, you just needed to comment on his post and then tag a friend.

Since I was at work and I had not seen his post until after sixty or so comments had been made, I did not leave a message on his Facebook post (therefore, allowing those who did a slightly better chance to win...) and I decided to do one better. I thought I would make Marion's book the subject of today's blog post and help him introduce, Searching For Super to all my friends, and eventually, the world.

We picked up Marion's first book, Almost Super, book one in the two-book series, at his book signing at the King's English Book Store. I throughly enjoyed it! It's for a younger demographic--like for my kids--but I've found some of the funnest books I've ever read were written for that group, a group that still loves to read. Not every author can pull off writing an entertaining story to kids, but Marion does a fantastic job.

I expect no less from Searching For Super. Look for it early next year. In fact, I'll probably be blogging about it then. Congrats Marion! And, you're welcome to all the Facebook post commenters.

* Photo used without permission from: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152995196432119&set=a.50469002118.76234.585257118&type=1&theater

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Calling All Darts! Calling All Darts!


Well...at least those who graduated 30 years ago!

That's right, folks! There will be a 30 Year Reunion for the Davis High School class of 1984 and it's taking place on Friday, August 22, 2014!

You can get all the details: HERE.

Because I post stuff to Facebook and have many high school friends on Facebook, I was curious when our class would gather and break bread. As the year progressed, I was then curious if our class would gather and break bread. Turns out we will.

I was involved in helping plan our class's 20 year reunion. It was a fun experience and when the event came, I ended up going. My wife did not accompany me, however (I believe it was a day or two after our youngest child was born...), so she understandably stayed home. I did have a lot of fun going solo. I caught up with many friends. We had a good dinner and the many talks brought back memories. In fact, one of the best lines I think I ever heard was uttered at that reunion. My friend said (and I apologize if my quote is not exact--it's been ten years, for goodness sake...), "We've all changed so much! I don't think I could even fit into my locker now."

Great line! Especially if you knew him back in the day.

 Ten years ago, I sat at the drinker's table, even though I didn't participate. I know it's not unusual for everyone to consume alcohol at reunions (or sporting events, or weddings, or card games, or divorce proceedings, or funerals...), but if you understood the culture in which I grew up and you saw those same people twenty years earlier, you might not think they'd be drinking.

But I digress! All Darts of 1984! Spread the news! Tell your friends! Search for them high and low! Will I attend my 30 year reunion? I am going to be in a play and may not be able to go. But I'm sure the drinking table will carry on without me! It is a reunion, after all.

* Picture used without permission from: http://davishigh84.wix.com/davis-high-1984