Friday, February 23, 2018

Finished "Psych"...Why All The Death?

Since the beginning of 2018 my wife and I started watching a little show called Psych. Many of my nerd friends have watched and loved the show. The stars came to Salt Lake Comic con recently and many were excited at the prospect of having them attend. Tonight we finished the series finale and I can say that yes, we enjoyed the show very much.

But, as I watched the show, a question kept going through my mind...why all the murders? Every show, even the silly ones, had someone die, or multiple people die. These weren't graphically-portrayed deaths--mostly the investigators stood over a dead body and discussed what happened. I wonder if they could have done an episode where maybe someone defrauded the government on a contracts deal, but didn't end up killing someone. I'm sure such a case would be hard to figure out and would require all of Shawn and Gus's abilities to solve. But no--someone had to die in every episode of Psych.

It got me thinking about a lot of other shows that have been produced for mostly American audiences. People died in them, too. Hart to Hart, Murder She Wrote, Matlock, even Monk--dead people everywhere. Do other countries have so many shows where people are dropping like flies? I'm sure they have some, but almost all? That's a question I don't know, but would be interested to find out.

Psych went off the air in 2014. We don't watch a lot of regular TV shows (it's why we hadn't ever seen Psych...). I'm sure it was replaced by another show, and if it followed the same format, more people will die so we can watch brilliant, and often times, funny people solve the crimes and bring the baddies to justice. Just kind of weird.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

To Be The Best...You've Got To Beat The Best

Last night (or, this morning, or yesterday morning, depending on where you live...) two teams squared off for all the marbles. The US and Canadian women's hockey teams played for gold. I knew the game was on--it started at 8:45pm our time.

I had a choice to make. 

I could stay up and watch it, or I could record it and watch it later.

Each had its pros and cons.

If I stayed up, I ran the risk of missing sleep, but more concerning for me, I'd get all emotionally tied up in the game. So if America beat Canada, I'd be all wound up and not able to sleep. And if they lost, I'd be bummed and not be able to sleep. The lack of sleep seemed guaranteed.

If I recorded it, I'd miss out on all that emotional awesomeness, but I could re-live it (partially...) if I recorded it. I chose the latter. I hope I'm not spoiling anyone's olympic experience, but the US women won in a fantastic game (if you're rooting for the Americans, that is...).

Canada has owned the USA in women's olympic hockey for twenty years. But, as with all winning streaks, it inevitably comes to an end, as it did last night, or this morning, or yesterday morning. The shootout was as good an ending as I've seen in a while. I'm not the biggest hockey fan, but I do love a good game where the athletes give their all to win.

I noticed something as I watched the Americans celebrate the win--it meant so much because they beat the best in the world. Their celebration is an honor to a great program, even though I'm sure the Canadians watching didn't feel like the Americans were honoring them--they were crushed. They'll come back better, stronger, faster next time. And if they beat the Americans in four years, they will have beaten the best.

And they will celebrate.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Taking Headshots...Something I Should Learn How To Do

My daughter needed a headshot for her college application packet. Doing plays and writing stories over the years, I've gotten to know several fantastic photographers and they take amazing headshots. We had to hurry to get my daughter's pictures done so I picked up my little Nikon D3300 and tried to do it myself.

I've tried taking headshots before. Before my oldest left on his mission, I took several shots for him down at the Lagoon Trails. I mean, they're okay--they did what we needed them to do. But, as a photographer, I know there's a lot to learn about taking good headshots. Most of it has to do with the way you manipulate light.

Without light, photography doesn't exist. I've watched photographers work with natural light. I've also seen them use some really expensive-looking equipment, light directors and defusers. To be honest, it's intimidating, all that stuff to capture the perfect light. I also know that in the digital age, a good computer programs definitely helps.

I should take a class, or a few classes to learn the craft. And I'm sure all the pros would recommend I buy up all that stuff costing thousands of dollars, as well as purchasing the photo-manipulating software. My experience with photography has shown me that being creative, trying new things, and just plain old practice can compensate for a lot of expensive equipment. Still, even though these pictures aren't "professional," they're priceless to me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Seven Minutes Late...

Seven minutes...

Don't let the time on my car radio fool you. A few years ago the clock was set five minutes ahead and I've kept it that way so I really arrived at 6:37am this morning, seven minutes late.

Seven minutes...

Getting up early to go to work is tough enough. It's even tougher on Mondays, and--like this morning--returning to work after a long holiday weekend, it's even tougher. I set my alarm last night considering what the roads might be light in the morning. We got a wonderful storm yesterday and by some reports, more snow was expected overnight.

The reports that predicted more snow proved correct.

This morning I shut off the alarm when it first rang out. Unlike other alarm clocks, mine does not have a "snooze" option. More than once, I've turned off the alarm and slept another hour. Unbelievably, I woke up on my own seven minutes after I turned off the alarm. I was amazed, even in my groggy state, that I hadn't slept longer.

You never know what to expect when you get in your car and start out on the Utah roads after a snow storm. Yes, it's dangerous, but then again, traveling on perfectly dry roads can be dangerous, too. We just forget when the dangers aren't in plain sight. Thankfully, everyone took their time, or most did. I wasn't tailgated or cut off. I didn't have to take evasive action. It was actually a nice commute.

Many curse the snow, but to me, it's magical. The snow was so light this morning, the sight of a passenger train passing the slower cars on the freeway as it ran on the parallel tracks was mesmerizing. Snow swirled as the huge train cars cut through the cold, the train's light illuminating the darkness and made the snow dance. Had I not been driving, I would have tried (and most likely failed...) to capture the scene with my phone. As I neared my office, the sight of three monster snowplows traveling in the opposite direction, clearing the entire road of snow, impressed me with their efficiency. So much to see, if we only look. Of course, all the while I made sure my car traveled well within my lane and at a proper speed.

I kept noticing the time as I drove and laughed out loud when I realized I'd be pulling into the parking lot exactly seven minutes late. I snapped a picture, then gathered my items and went inside ready to work on a Tuesday that felt like a Monday.

Seven minutes...had I not gone back to sleep and arrived to work right on time, had I seen the things I saw? Had the commute been so entertaining? That's the thing about life--we only get what we're given and nothing else.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Presidents Day, 2018...

I was one of the fortunate ones to not work today. It's Presidents Day, the last holiday, from which I get work off, for quite a while. I am very lucky. Most people in the world had to work as most people who have ever lived on this Earth have had to work every day just to survive.

It's easy to forget just how amazing a time we live in. I was able to stay in my home, protected from the much-needed snow that fell most of the night and day. I was warm, well-fed, and happy. And, through the miracle of modern technology, I was able to watch sporting events taking place on the other side of the globe after watching one of the biggest movies from 2017, Wonder Woman. Good flick.

I was also able to do the family's laundry and a load of dishes. Had I wanted to, I could have driven to a local furniture store and saved a good 15% on a refrigerator, a big screen TV, a recliner, or a sectional. Apparently many people do. If I had lived a hundred years ago, my day would have been much much different.

Today we celebrate the leaders of our nation. There have been forty-five since 1789, 229 years. They've come from all different walks of life, different backgrounds, all men. They all had strengths and weaknesses, joys and pains. Like armchair quarterbacks, many non-presidents say what they would do if they were presidents--some may have good ideas, but I imagine most of their brilliant ideas are anything but. That responsibility--that mantle--is a heavy burden to bear. Just look at a photo of an American president at his inaugural and then how the same man looks four or eight years later when his successor takes that mantle away. Sure, none of us look the same after four or eight years, but for those men, it seems like it took a much larger toll.

This morning I walked into the kitchen and saw my daughter reading a book, snow falling gently outside, one of our cats sat contented behind her. I took a few pictures. It's a simple picture--similar pictures are taken by fathers of their daughters everyday all over the world. Now, the photo doesn't scream "Presidents Day," but for me, it's a reminder of this amazing place and how blessed I am to live here. I hope your Presidents Day finds you healthy and loved.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

So...Have You Posted A Picture Of How You Might Look?

If you're on social media--especially Facebook--you've most likely seen people posting pictures of themselves with a comparison picture along side it. I suppose it's "good clean fun." What famous character (real, or imagined...) that is preserved on canvas do I most look like?

That one showed up several months ago. 

Or, there's a new one that's gained popularity recently. What would you look like if you were member of the opposite sex? I have many friends who have tried that out. I must say, they look very convincing.

When the painting comparisons came out, I read a tweet that made me think a little. I can't remember who wrote the tweet, but basically, they posed a question. They asked whether or not it was strange that these programs of altered pictures popped up after the introduction fo the face-recognizing access feature of the new iPhone X.

I wondered, do these programs really have an alternative purpose? Can someone use this information that we voluntarily give to someday access an iPhone? Will this face-recognition software become industry standard?

It is a little silly. Millions, if not billions of people have uploaded pictures of themselves. Why not just hijack those pictures to access present and future phones? Still, the timing makes me think it might not be just a harmless fun little exercise it's supposed to be. As with most things, time will tell.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Couple Of Cans Of Food Storage...And I Became Con Lore

The story's out there, in fact, I had several people come up to me today and ask, "That was you?"

There's a famous line from The Untouchables, that talks about bringing a knife to a gunfight--not a good idea. Well, I did something that has absolutely nothing to do with that line.

Earlier this week I got a package of books, the first order of Chaser. I was excited because of a literary convention this weekend I was asked to attend. And I would be able to bring a huge stack of new books to unleash on a hungry populous.

At last, the day came. The convention, "Life, the Universe, and Everything", or LTUE, has a mass book signing on the Friday night of the convention. It's well attended and many wait until Friday night to make their book purchases. Yesterday afternoon I loaded up my car with boxes of my short story compilation, Speckled, but I was most excited to show everyone Chaser. 

Off I drove. It took twice as long to reach Provo Utah, because of the rush-hour traffic--it stunk. But, I didn't really need to be there until 7pm, so the thirty miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic didn't bother me too much (a rare thing...). 

Finally, I reached my exit. I maneuvered my little car to the convention center--even found a close parking spot. I unloaded my boxes, wheeled them into the center and found the table where I ran into my publisher. He had not seen the final product.

"Did you bring your book?" he asked. I proudly and excitedly say, "Yes!"

I opened my first box, my copies of Speckled, then I reached for the second box, the bigger box, the box I spent a couple of hundred bucks to get in time for the convention. I couldn't wait to reach down, grab a copy of Immortal Work's newest publication, and show everyone just how cool the book is.

One problem.

When I opened the box, I didn't see thirty copies of my book.

I saw three cans of food storage.

Yes, my books, the ones I'd waited for and needed for this very moment, were sitting in a box at the foot of my bed sixty miles to the north, and there was no time to go get them or to have someone bring them down. We hadn't put the food storage box into the basement with the rest of them, and when my books came, I set the box right next to the other.

I couldn't believe it. I had a choice. I could fuss and get mad, or I could laugh it off and enjoy the evening. Sure, I didn't have my book to show off, but I had fun telling people who asked where my book was, what happened. My friend, David J. West, took a picture of the box and posted it on Twitter. As I walked around the room, people were asking me if I was the one who left my books at home, not quite believing it actually happened.

So, no I didn't bring a knife to a gun fight--I brought food storage to a book signing. Doesn't quite have the same ring to it. But it makes for a great con story.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Be Your Better Self...

I'm on Twitter. Apparently so are a few billion other people. Usually it's mindless stuff, really. And there is a lot of stuff on Twitter that's less than mindless. But if I can stay above the mire, it's interesting to see things people post. The day before Valentine's Day, I logged on to Twitter and the first thing I saw were two posts, one from my friend Dave, and another from a University of Utah football fan who goes by "Whitt's Calves."

I found the two posts together interesting.

Dave Butler, author, musician, all-around good guy, isn't the most active Twitter-er, but I've noticed lately he's posting positive things, perhaps as a response to several negative things in the news lately. His post, "Be your better self," is great advice, be it in your writing, or music, or making friends, or making dinner. If we all were our better selves, the world would be a much better place.

Then we see a picture of two football players, one from the University of Utah, the other from Brigham Young University. On the day before Valentine's Day, it had been 2,999 days since the Y's program beat the U's.

And the U fans can't get enough of it. To make matters worse (or better...), the two university football teams will not play each other until the last weekend of the regular season, November 24, 2018. If Utah beats BYU again, that number will just keep rising, and rising, and rising.

When I saw the picture and read Dave's thought, I wondered. Can the positive thought apply to the picture? Are both players being their better selves? And if so, is one just plain better than the other?

Let's hope we're all our better selves, including those up on the hill next November.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Evolution Of The...Valentine's Day Box

It's been decades since I sat in a public school attending classes. For most parents, they can re-live their childhood memories through their kids. Children usually follow in their parent's footsteps--some even attending the same school they attended. That could have happened to us, but we made a different choice. That's what happens when you homeschool your kids.

Browsing on Facebook and Instagram yesterday I came across a couple of photographs, and to be honest, they surprised me. Seems when you're not connected to schools, activities can be, well...surprising. Case in point, the traditional Valentine's Day Box.

I downloaded the two pictures I saw (without permission...) and I'm showing them here. They are not only spectacular, but they're amazing works of art. When I think about it, it makes sense. Both of these kids' fathers--my friends--are incredible artists in their own right. They have different styles, but both are creative.

Since it's been so long since I last decorated a Valentine's Day Box, I can't remember what I did. How creative was it? Did it take a long time to build? Back then, we had no internet. Sure, I suppose someone could have taken a picture of my little boxes, but I'll bet they weren't that photo-worthy. Not like these obviously are.

Some might see these boxes and think they're too "over-the-top." Not me--I think they're amazing. I applaud them. The only downside is perhaps a Valentine's Day Box creativity escalation that can only end in tears. But until then, I say go big!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

For The First Time In 25 Years...I Got My Wife A Valentine's Day Card

For years I've poo-pooed the idea of Valentine's Day. I don't remember liking back it when I was single, and I kind of resented it after I got married--not because I'm against the message of celebrating love, but because the entire thing has been so commercialized.

But last night I decided to do something I've never done before--I picked up a Valentine's Day card. I really don't know why. After I decided to get a card, I had to find one that wasn't...well, you know...too corny or sappy or stupid.

I went nerd.

It wasn't the best, but it was cute. Like I said, I've been pretty down on the day. I can understand why so many hate this day. When I read posts from friends who want to spend it with someone they love and it doesn't happen. For them, the day becomes just another big reminder of what they don't have. I feel for them and wish they could get what their heart wants. 

I know my gesture is small--I picked up a rose at the store on my way home. This particular rose was surrounded by an ocean of other roses costing hundreds of dollars, and I saw several men carting out dozens of roses. I hope that their Valentine's Days are good ones and their loved ones feel appreciated. After all, a day dedicated to love shouldn't be a bad thing. Heck, if anything, the world needs more love in it. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Erik Larson's "Dead Wake"...A Book Review

Title details for Dead Wake by Erik Larson - Wait list

There's so much history I don't know. I can understand why people study history, be it to teach, or just to have that information locked into your mind. Many people study ancient history, the great societies of Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, while others focus on the Dark Ages of Europe.

I'm pretty sure I'd find amazing stories in every time period. Personally, I love hearing about the mid-twentieth century. It's when my parents came of age. My father was a veteran of WWII and I never got a chance to talk to him about what it was like to live during that era.

I haven't focused a lot on WWI, even though that was when my grandparents came of age. But today I finished listening to Erik Larson's Dead Wake, an in depth telling of Germany's sinking of the Lusitania.


I've read two of Larson's books, The Devil in the White City, and In the Garden of Beasts. I loved The Devil in the White City so much, I knew I'd read anything Mr. Larson wrote. So far, he hasn't disappointed, including Dead Wake.

I know very little of the Lusitania's sinking (sorry, spoiler alert...). Much more has been made of the HMS Titanic disaster, but after learning of how the Lusitania sank, to me it's a sadder tale, because it wasn't an act of nature mixed with human errors. Lusitania's end was an act of war. Titanic's demise most likely changed how ships were built and how ocean voyages were navigated. What happened to the Lusitania helped change the world.

If you've not had the opportunity to read a book by Erik Larson, you're in for an amazing literary experience. Larson has the wonderful ability to bring these people to life, almost as if you could speak to them, as if you know them, which makes leaning of the way they died and survived that much more impactful.

In the end, the event was another piece of history. It was a maritime event, a war event, a human event. Larson points out all the things that had to have happened--and happened just right--for the disaster to have unfolded the way it did. It got me thinking, if this ship hadn't been attacked, would America joined WWI? And if not, how would the world be today? That's another fascinating aspect of history, the "what ifs." 

I should really study more of history, and read more of Mr. Larson's books.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Really Confusing Rolex Ad...

I remember back in the late 1980s getting a Rolex watch was a goal of mine. But, I didn't want a real Rolex, because, well...that would be silly. I was in college full-time, working full-time at various jobs getting paid either at or slightly above minimum wage.

No, getting a real Rolex was beyond irresponsible. I wanted a fake Rolex. It was a faux status symbol. Like real Rolexes, fake Rolexes weren't just lying around. Without the miracle of the internet, you had to actually go to where the watches were--Europe, Asia, Las Vegas, places like that. I finally got one--it wasn't the best quality, but it had Rolex printed on the fake watch face. Heck, just looking at the band you could instantly tell of it's authenticity.

This is why an ad I saw on Facebook's Classifieds today confused me so much. The ad is for a Rolex. The cost: $100.00. Randy John (two first names--interesting...) says the watch is a Men's Sea Dweller, Automatic Movement (which I believe is true for all Rolex watches...).

The watch is also brand new, but then the confusing part. Randy (or John...) says the "Price Reflects its Authenticity." Okay--I suppose that makes sense. He's saying it's a fake Rolex. Brand new Authentic Sea Dweller Rolex watches cost on the plus side of $10K. Then John (or Randy...) confuses me again by saying his ad and this watch is for "Serious Buyers Only" with two exclamation points. How serious do you have to be to consider buying a fake Rolex?

I haven't priced fake Rolexes for decades, so I don't know if this is a good buy or not. Maybe this is one of those really nice fake Rolexes, the kind you'd buy for the same reason you'd wear a cubic zirconia ring--it looks just real enough to make people think you can drop the same amount of cash on wrist jewelry as it takes to purchase a one-year old Hyundai Sonata. 

Still, I wonder if the ad would have been more effective if the seller just said, 

"Fake Rolex. Looks Real. First One-Hundred Bucks Takes."

We'll probably never know...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Almond Coconut Dark Chocolate Bread...Pretty Darn Good

Okay, I admit it--I'm a sucker for chocolate. And apparently I'm a sucker for free samples at the grocery store when chocolate is involved. However, when I think of foods with chocolate in them, I usually don't think of bread.

Maybe I'd better re-think that.

Last week while doing some grocery shopping, I had to pick up a loaf of bread and the friendly baker offered me a sample. In the past, I've had good luck with bread samples. It's even better when they have tasty toppings to sample as well.

"Sure," I said and the baker took out a slice after filling my bread order.

"It's our Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut bread and it's new this month."

What is this sorcery of which you speak, I thought to myself. Dark chocolate, almonds, coconut? My mouth started to water at just the thought of it. I watched as he took out a knife and dipped it into a whiteish spread and handed it over.

And it was good!

As I stated earlier, I am a sucker for free stuff. However, when it comes to paying for stuff, I'm not so enthusiastic. I had to pick up some things the next aisle over. Soon, though, I found myself once again standing in front of Mr. Baker.

He asked me one question.

"How long did it take you to decide?"

He didn't know I had decided to buy some of that yummy bread--he must have seen it on my face. I ended up bringing home half a loaf. It's available for this month only. I don't know if I'll buy more, but I did this time.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Meeting A Rock God...

Last year I had the opportunity of meeting  a Rock and Roll legend, a man who has contributed richly to the music world, a man who has created and produced famous songs and worked with the biggest names in the business. If you don't recognize the signature hair and sunglasses, he's Jeff Lynne, co-founder of the 1970s and 1980s supergroup Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) as well as co-founder of the iconic Traveling Wilburys.

And if that's not enough, he produced records for Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Joe Walsh and others. He was also inducted as a member of ELO into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

If you're talking about rock royalty, he's definitely in the equation. 

I don't want to include how I came to be at the same event as him. I will say it was not for a musical function, even though I would have LOVED to hear him perform live. Maybe one day. It was also not the kind of event where asking for a selfie would be appropriate. I supposed I could have asked, but that would have seemed uncouth. 

Leading up to the event, I wondered what it would be like to meet him. I've never met someone with so much experience in the industry. His was a voice I listened to over and over again back in the 1970s. I also remember their albums, those beautiful covers, the spaceship with the smaller ship docking, the Arabian boy on Discovery peering deeply into the lighted disk, the electric shock of the witches hands on Dorthy's ruby slippers on Eldorado. Just beautiful.

Before the meeting, I bought ELO's best of compilation and fell in love with the music all over again. It's amazing how much power music has in invoking memories long ago forgotten. So when I met the man and shook his hand, it wasn't a middle-aged fan speaking to him, but that young kid sitting in the living room inside the home of my youth listening to their music on our old Hi-Fi system, non-digital play-back and all.

The man was gracious. We did not speak long, just pleasantries. I spent time after trying to take pictures of him without being too "creepy" or "paparotzzi-esque." I got a few shots. When the event ended, we all went our separate ways and back to our lives. Now, when I put the CD into the player in my car (about the only place I can play CDs anymore...), I not only remember the days listening to the music as a kid, but I also remember the time I met and shook the hand of the man partially responsible for those songs and whose voice entertained millions back then and continues to do so today.

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Nice Conversation At The Track...

For the past couple of months, I've been going to an indoor track--not often, a day or two a week.

Okay, only one day a week.

But that's better than going zero times a week.

I'm taking it slow, jogging maybe a mile, walking half or a mile. I'm in no shape to tackle a half marathon or anything, but it's good to be active.

This morning after my mile run, I decided to walk a few laps. My walking pace doesn't break any records, but I noticed an older gentleman catching up to me so I slowed up. I thought I'd let him pass me (I doubt he passes a lot of people on the track...). 

But instead of passing me up, we started up a conversation. He told me his name--it's Mike, but I thought I heard Mark. I told him mine--it's Scott but he thought he heard James. We began talking about Farmington. Turns out we're both long-time residents of our little hometown. We both remembered when there was a gas station at the top of Shepard Lane (it's now a beauty salon...). He even knew the owner, a man named Nephi. I did not know Nephi.

We both remembered when there were only a couple of church congregations in town. Now there's several dozen. In Utah you can tell how big a community is by the number of church buildings and congregations there are.

We continued walking around the track at a leisurely pace. I learned that he not only lives near my in-laws, but he knows them, too. We walked for another lap--two laps more than I had originally planned--then I left. I did some warm-down stretches then went to my car. As I walked I realized that Mike's the first person I've actually spoken to at the track. In my defense, most of the people there when I go walking/jogging are younger women and older women--both groups would think me a bit icky if I were to suddenly begin striking up conversations. I mean, I don't want to get kicked out of the place.

Then I'd have nowhere else to run/walk...

Except, well...everywhere.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Elon Musk's Tesla In Space...Frickin' Amazing!

I missed watching the Falcon Heavy launch live, nor did I watch the incredible footage of the boosters landing successfully next to each other. But I did log on to the live video feed showing a mannequin spaceman behind the wheel of a Tesla automobile as it orbits the earth.


How cool is that?

It was also mesmerizing, hypnotic, beautiful, not to mention an unbelievably effective advertising campaign for the car. Each time I looked at the computer (when they showed the car, of course...) I saw artwork, a scene worthy of a poster hanging in a space enthusiast's bedroom.

Seeing a car in space is cool, but when the earth came into view, it made things that much better. I even saw the reflection of the earth appear then move across the door of the car--absolutely stunning!

I know there's more to this project than just putting a car into space. It's groundbreaking and important to space exploration in the future. But as I looked at my computer screen and realized that flying high above the earth there's a spaceman sitting in a car traveling at around 17,000 m.p.h. and we get to watch it in real time.

That's frickin' amazing!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Kevin L. Nielsen's "Colonial Prime: Humanity"...On Sale Now


Kevin Nielsen's newest book, Colonial Prime: Humanity is now available through Amazon, the digital version. You can buy it: HERE. I'm excited for this one--it's the newest publication from Immortal Works Press.

Since I haven't read this one yet, I can't really comment on the book, but I can say a little bit about the author. I've known of Kevin longer than I've known him. When I first began writing and attending conventions, I started to get to know many of the local authors, each having achieved various degrees of published success. I've written before about how generous and helpful other authors have been to me, even though they had no idea who I was and my published credits only totaled a few short stories.

Kevin, by comparison, had several novels published with more on the way. I did at the time--and still do--have a lot of respect for anyone who has written a novel. Kevin was always nothing but friendly to me whenever I'd see him at events and conventions. Side note--if you go to these events and conventions, he's easy to spot--always wearing a purple shirt. You can't miss him. 

In the past year especially, I've gotten to know Kevin a little bit better. He and I are both Acquisitions Editors for Immortal Works Press, and now we're both authors from the same imprint. Unfortunately, I've only read one of Kevin's books, Sands, and it is good. I expect no less from Colonial Prime: Humanity.

Here's more on the book from its Amazon page: 

Captain Amara Corrin, hero of the late Solar Wars, commands the first colonial fleet. Full of hopeful dreamers looking for a new home, world-weary ex-soldiers, and those just seeking escape, five ships set out from Earth with the hopes of humanity behind them.
Full of hopeful dreamers looking for a new home, world-weary ex-soldiers, and those just seeking escape; five ships set out from Earth with the hopes of humanity behind them. But Amara soon finds herself with more trouble than she can handle. The Council, Earth's new governing body, has saddled her with their political rivals, exiling them to a place where they can do no harm.
Struggling to find balance, Amara appoints a fresh-faced first officer with a hidden past, Nathan Esquina, as she fights to keep her son, Jaelyn, free of the political machinations of those aboard the ship who would destroy their fragile peace. When a message from Earth alerts them that The Council has fallen, Amara, Nathan, and Jaelyn find themselves in a pitched battle where a single mistake could end not only their own lives, but those of every person aboard their colonial fleet.

Yes--this looks great. If you're looking for something new, give Kevin's latest a try. If you do, you'll probably end up a Kevin Nielsen fan, too. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Clint Richins...Until Next Time, Cowboy

This was one I didn't want to write. In fact, I've put it off for several days. But it's time. I've mentioned how interesting it is living in the same town where you grew up, and not only in the same town, on the same street.

It seems you're constantly reminded of you childhood. The memories can be wonderful--you remember people and places, the good times of youth. However, as there is opposition in all things, the memories can--and are often--be painful. That's especially true when you lose friends, which is why I stayed home from work today; which is why I delayed writing about my friend Clint Richins.

Today was his funeral.

He was forty-nine years old.

Funerals are amazing, in their own weird way. We usually hear talks from those who knew the person best. Today we heard from Clint's five siblings--each shared touching memories of a man who was more than a brother, but a friend, a protector, a confidant, a comedian, a healer. What I knew about Clint was not only bolstered, but I found out other things as well. If you know Clint--even a little bit--you know some of the basics: he loved Rush, the band, he loved history, he was a great artist, and he was a cowboy. It's as if he sometimes had a tough time living in such a complicated and crazy and illogical world. I know he had demons following him--we all do. I know he went through a lot.

Of course, there's a lot I didn't know about the man, things I would have liked to know, conversations I would have loved to have had. As I sat waiting for our turn to participate in the program (we sang a beautiful song by Antonin Dvorak...), I noticed Clint's absolutely beautiful casket--a simple wood box. I also thought about my father who passed away at forty-nine, and who had his funeral in the same building forty-four years ago, almost to the day.

A friend asked me why I missed work today. I told him. He asked, "Why so young?" I responded that I believe Clint was a man out of time, not that he ran out of time, but he was just in the wrong time. Now, he's home and in his perfect time. God speed, Cowboy.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Eve Nicholson's "The Tripartite Soul"...A Book Review

Today I finished a book written by a good friend. This is one book I should have finished sooner. The book, The Tripartite Soul, is best categorized as a fantasy romance. Now, I haven't read a lot of books in this genre, but good storytelling is good storytelling.

In The Tripartite Soul we meet a servant girl--Eviona, a soldier--Dyre, and a dragon--Zefforah, three beings that have a unique connection. They can see, feel, taste, touch the things each other sees, feels, tastes, and touches. They also have an ability to stop this connection, which is a good thing (the thought of sharing every sense with others can be a little unsettling...). The story is told through the voice of Eviona, a servant girl who experiences the trials and joys of her first love, love lost, and love renewed. Eviona has special skills--among other things, she can bake and she's good with a sword.

Nicholson creates a fantastical world where you never know what's going to happen. Eviona's search for not only love, but understanding in a reality that's not solely her own. I've never read a book like this and I loved thinking about all the possibilities these characters could experience.

The Tripartite Soul is a romance, is a fantasy, is even a philosophical study on how we make choices, and more importantly perhaps, why we make those choices. If you'd like to read it, click: HERE to access Nicholson's Amazon page. This book is unlike anything I've read before. Chances are, if you read it, you'll feel the same way, too.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Just Me, The Clouds, And The Sun...

Tonight, as the country (mostly...) stayed inside watching a game, I split time going in and out cooking dinner. And because of that, I watched as the sun fell from the sky, between the clouds and below the horizon.

It was beautiful.

I'm not knocking everyone who stayed inside. Heck, I've stayed inside and missed more sunsets than I can count. I try and take pictures of the good ones, but I admit--other things come up. We live in such a hurry-up world, everything vies for our time.

Tomorrow, everything--the game, the sunset, our dinner--will all be in the past. Some will remember this particular game for the rest of their lives (for better or for worse...). If past is prologue, this game will most likely blend into other Superbowl games contained in my memory and get fuzzy. And because I see amazing sunsets so often, I'm sure this one will blend into many others, too. But, for some fleeting moments as chicken and hamburger evenly cooked on a grill in our front yard, I saw beauty on the biggest canvas I know. I watched as it grew in intensity until it disappeared forever into the night.

And I was glad I saw it.