Monday, March 30, 2009

Tiger Woods Is Too Good

As soon as that ball left his putter yesterday evening, there was no doubt Tiger was going to hole that near-sixteen footer on the 18th to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Never. A. Doubt.

The guy's just too good. This is his first win since June of last year, when he hobbled his way around Torrey Pines on a BROKEN LEG to earn his third U.S. Open title in an 18-hole playoff and thus claim his 14th major victory overall. All he needs now is four more majors and he'll match Nicklaus's record, one which many people believed was unbreakable.

In the middle of the round yesterday, the broadcast flashed an incredible stat: he'd made every single putt that was six feet or less from the cup.

If you're not a golfer, you might be thinking that's easy. But let me assure you it is not. That is quite a feat, considering how quick and tricky these greens are in PGA tournament golf. It takes a lot of skill, a deft touch, and good solid technique.

But what it takes most of all is mental toughness.

You have to have guts to consistently hole putts like that. Physically-speaking, Woods might be the most impressive golfer the world has ever seen. But when it comes to his his mental game, he's tougher than Nicklaus and rivals even Hogan.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ghostwriter Publications Makes It Official

Ghostwriter Publications has made it official on their blog today. The UK print version of The Unearthed will be available as early as June of this year!

And don't you worry, all you Anglophobes. Neil Jackson, the man with the plan at Ghostwriter Publications, has assured me he will keep the American English spelling and word choice intact. So that troublesome letter "u" won't pop up in things like color or flavor. Nor will "s" replace the "z" in words like authorize. The characters will continue to drink coffee, as opposed to tea. Exits shall remain exits, and not "ways out."

And finally, the only things that will be referred to as "bloody" will be all the dead bodies.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What's Romanian for "Great Story"?

The Carpathian Shadows Volume II is a collection of short stories set at Lord Erdely's Castle in Transylvania. A group of travelers, most of them strangers to one another, end up stranded at this "tourist trap" for a few nights. Each story in the collection offers a different point-of-view character, or set of characters.

Seana Graham wrote "The Scholar," a story that follows a textual scholar, his wife, and a Romanian friend/colleague on their outing to the castle. Ostensibly, the story is about the scholar, Howard Green, and his quest for information to further his research on the area. But as the story unfolds, Seana deftly spins a yarn that is both unpredictable and very enjoyable. Disguised as a horror story, "The Scholar" is every bit as much an exploration of love and marriage. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

I have yet to read any of the other stories in the collection, but I do highly recommend it based solely on Seana's contribution. Seana takes everything that's good about old-fashioned storytelling and adds to it her own acute sense of observation when it comes to her protagonist, Howard:

"After all, unlike him, she was actually on vacation. Must be nice, he thought begrudgingly, conveniently forgetting that it was his project that had been the catalyst for this trip."

As many of you know, Seana is a prolific blogger, who is somehow able to manage four of her own blogs while still frequently contributing to many other blogs as well. She works for a bookseller at a large independent store in Santa Cruz, CA.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Promote Whatever You Want On My Blog

In one of the Yahoo groups I participate in, someone has complained of seeing too many posts about my book. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

To atone for my shameless self-promotion, I'm making everyone out there in the blogosphere this offer: feel free to plug whatever you want by commenting on this post.

For the next two days, I'll leave this post at the top of my blog.

There is only one rule: you cannot promote anything for me.

Aside from that, you can promote whatever you want. Own a pizza shop? Writing a book? Get a promotion at work? Getting married? Is your wife pregnant? Are you starting you own business? Is your band playing somewhere soon? Got a blog you want people to read?

Don't limit yourselves here. Just run with it.


Friday, March 27th: This is a lot of fun. I'm considering doing something like this every month.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

British Invasion? Ha

It's been nearly fifty years since our friends from across the pond started their pop art invasion of the United States. The Beatles, the Stones, etc., have all had their day, many days in fact, to shine. Well my friends their time is over.

For too long have the Brits and the Irish dominated the arts. It's time we Yanks took the power back.

I'm not afraid to lead the charge. And so that's why I'm pleased to announce The Unearthed will be available in print in the UK. I've signed with Ghostwriter Publications, a small press specializing in horror. Ghostwriter will be doing a print run of The Unearthed, and we're also discussing an audio version as well.

We're still ironing out the timeline, but once I have some more information, I will let you know.

(DISCLAIMER: Most of my favorite authors and actors are British and Irish.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flight of Joaquin Phoenix

The wife and I just took in Two Lovers, a film written and directed by James Gray and starring Joaquin Phoenix in what could prove to be his final role as an actor.

Okay, I'm not falling for Phoenix's publicity stunt--that he's given up his acting career--one bit.

The film is very good at being both sad and strangely happy. I won't give away the ending or spoil the plot in any way, but it left me happily depressed. Or, sadly happy. It's an interesting film thematically, at times a romantic comedy but more an exploration of what love really is. The film manages to strip away any sense of sentimentality and presents love in its crudest, ugliest, messiest forms.

I'm really starting to dig James Gray as a director. He impressed me with We Own The Night, a film I had dismissed unfairly when it hit the theaters. Two Lovers has a lot of style to it, but in an unobtrusive sort of way. The effect, while understated, is still felt.

So will this be Phoenix's swan song? Or will he rise from the ashes like a...oh god I can't even write it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Recap of Last Night's Reading

When I said "I'll be reading from my novel. It's a thriller," there was some eye-rolling, but thankfully the groans were barely audible.

Whoever said know thyself should have followed it up with "know thy audience." The literary crowd that attended the Open Mic last night was there to hear their classmates and fellow English majors recite their villanelles, sestinas, triptychs, their flash fiction written for senior seminar, etc. They weren't there to hear an excerpt from Chapter One of a paranormal thriller written by the weird older dude that graduated from college eight years ago and who shouldn't have been anywhere near a campus, let alone hanging out in the student lounge.

Thankfully, I wasn't the only alum there, and the event turned into a reunion of sorts. I hung with some old friends I haven't seen in awhile, including John Slinka who also very recently entered the blogosphere.

There were a lot of good readings from the students last night, and it's great to see how the arts have taken root at Widener and grown substantially since I was an undergrad there who spent way too much of his free time reading Ayn Rand and arguing with everyone.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Widener Open Mic Night

For anyone that's interested and local, tonight I'll be attending Widener University's open mic night, which starts at 7:00 PM EST. Against my better judgment, I will be doing a reading of The Unearthed. I say against my better judgment because it's just the sort of story I would have thumbed my nose at as an undergrad English major, because it wasn't "literary" enough. Oh how the not-so-mighty have fallen.

So if you're in the area, stop by. There's a free bookmark for everyone who shows up.

Off topic, but does the word "mic" look strange to anybody else? I used the term in several places in The Unearthed, but I spelled it "mike" because that looked better to me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

La Fheile Padraig Sona

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And yes, I know the Irish in the title requires accents, but I don't know how to make them on blogger.

How are you going to celebrate today?

After I get home from work, I figure I'll drive all the snakes out of Glenside, Pennsylvania. If that proves too difficult or dangerous or time-consuming, I'll take the wife to a pub somewhere where we'll eat some greasy food and drink our fair share.

Once we get home from the bar, we'll probably turn on an appropriately-themed, albeit historically inaccurate movie and continue drinking.

Meanwhile in sunny Florida, my parents will be busy celebrating their 31st anniversary!

And while all that is going on, my buddy, Nate Green, will be treating lucky bar patrons in Reading, PA to his mad skills on the bagpipes!

I really do plan on going in to work on Wednesday. Really, I do...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Read An Interview And You Could Win A Copy of The Unearthed!

Ruth Schaller, who was kind enough to give The Unearthed a five skull review, just posted her interview with me today on her blog. Check it out if you get a minute, and you'll have a chance to win a free copy of my book!

Proposition 3-17: Join This Important Cause!!!

Tomorrow, as you should all know, marks the one of the greatest days of the year: St. Patrick's Day.

You too can show your support for this holiday by signing Proposition 3-17, a petition to make the day into a national holiday.

I'm proud to say I'm the 435,584th person to sign. They need 1 million signatures, though, so we still have a long way to go!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Use It Or Lose It

The wife and I just saw I've Loved You So Long a French film starring Kristin Scott Thomas and written and directed by Phillippe Claudel. Pretty good film, fine performances, but that's not why I'm writing this post.

I took four years of French, and at various times in my life since I studied the language formally in school, I've tried to relearn it, mostly to no avail. The film was subtitled, and I managed to catch a few words here and there during the movie. But when I tried to watch a scene without referring to the subtitles, hoping that body language and the context of the story itself would aid me, I was utterly lost.

Why do we Americans struggle with foreign languages so much? The old stand-by answer is that we don't study languages aside from English usually until high school, unlike our European counterparts.

I managed to take four years of Latin, four years of French, and two years of Greek (ancient Greek) in high school, and most of it's gone. Sure, I remember things like "amo, amas, amat." I'm able to read the Greek alphabet still. And French primer texts are comprehensible. But aside from that, it's all gone. And this coming from a guy that won an award in high school for how well he did in Greek (yeah, I was a nerd).

To think high school was only twelve years ago.

In my two minutes of Internet research, I came across this article, which explains why it's so difficult for anyone aged 18 and older to learn a new language.

So why do we Yanks wait so long to learn foreign languages?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This Is Troubling

Craig Playstead wrote an interesting piece for MSN Lifestyle, wherein he advocated parents teaching their kids to bend/break certain rules.

When he said "sneak snacks into movie theaters," I was on-board. When he urged kids to question teachers, I was nodding vigorously. When he explained the value of a white lie, I wholeheartedly agreed.

But when he said, "Bend the rules when playing sports," he lost all of my support.

Sports are about competition. But they're just as much about honor and respect for your opponents. Or at least, that's what they should be about. The problems start to arise when people place too high a premium on winning and ignore little things like decency.

It's why we were taught to line up after a game and high-five the other team. It's why you tell your opponent "good shot" after he stuffs a five-iron six feet from the pin.

Sports are not about "flicking the elbow in hoops when the other guy's shooting" or "holding the other player's jersey." I'm not naive enough to think this stuff doesn't happen or that it will stop happening at some point. People are people, after all.

But the guys who did these sorts of things were not liked, or admired, or respected much. They're the ones who try not to follow the letter of the law whenever possible, and who don't even know a spirit of the law exists.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Step Brothers Or Role Models?

Well it's a toss-up for me as to which was the best comedy of '08. Both films have a lot of replay value. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly playing forty-year-olds who are somewhat mentally challenged and emotionally handicapped? Or, Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott playing big brother mentors to one rambunctious kid and McLovin if he were from Middle Earth?

For me, Step Brothers was a very welcome change of pace for Ferrell. His most recent movies, aside from a great turn in Stranger Than Fiction, rather lazily employed the same premise: put Will in a somewhat odd profession and roll camera--Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory, Semi Pro, etc.

On the other hand, Rudd and Scott have never been better than in Role Models.

You can't go wrong with either. And if you're going to ask me to pick one over the other, I won't. They're both great comedies.

What say you?


Another great review for The Unearthed just came out!

Trevas of eBookGuru ( had this to say: "This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down (I stayed up till 3am to finish it), and I am highly recommending it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Reminder: Win A Free Copy of The Unearthed Tonight

Just a quick reminder that you can win a free copy of my paranormal thriller, The Unearthed, tonight at 8:00 PM EST during a chat hosted by Rita Vetere at her website.

And even if you're only a casual reader of my blog, you'll still have a good chance of answering the trivia question before anyone else!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

JJ Abrams and Co. Boldly Went Further

Back in November, I was blown away by the first Star Trek trailer.

Just when I thought Abrams and company couldn't outdo themselves, they upped the ante with the recently released final theatrical trailer.

Finally, it appears the studio spent the money they needed to on the special effects budget. This film looks big, in an epic space opera sort of way. I know that story is the most important aspect of a film, but a decent f/x budget goes a long way in fully immersing the audience in the universe of that story.

Whereas the first trailer went for the surprise factor, this one goes for the awe factor. I'm really looking forward to this movie.

Friday, March 6, 2009

More Brought To You By Nate Green

Nate has been kind enough to put up Part Two of our Q&A on his blog. Go there to find out more about me than you ever wanted to know.

On a side note, I'll have to post a pic of us standing next to each other sometime. People claim we bear a shocking resemblance to one another.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Another Chance To Win

Just when you thought the shameless self-promotion was over, I come back by offering you another chance to win a free copy of The Unearthed.

Rita Vetere is hosting her monthly chat on Monday, March 9th, beginning at 8:00 PM EST. Sean Cummings and I will be joining Rita to discuss our recently-released novels, and Rita will talk about the print release of Ancient Inheritance.

Stop by for your chance to win a copy of The Unearthed!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Feel Better About My Golf Game Now...

...that I've seen how bad Charles Barkley's swing is.

The Golf Channel aired its new reality show, The Haney Project, last night. Hank Haney is considered to be the one of the best professional teachers of the golf game right now, probably due in no small part to the fact that his number one student is a fella by the name of Eldrich Woods. Tiger will one day set a new record for number of Majors won; I have no doubt he will surpass Nicklaus's mark of 18, so long as he stays healthy and maintains his passion for the game.

Anyway, Hank has taken on Charles Barkley, of NBA fame, as his latest Padawan. For those of you that don't know, Barkley is quite a character, in both good and bad ways. During his pro-basketball career, he was caught at least once spitting on sideline hecklers. One of his more famous commercials was when he stared into the camera and said, quite seriously, "I am not a role model."

Maybe he's not a role model--okay, he's definitely not--but that doesn't mean the guy isn't fun to watch. He is notorious for having an atrocious golf swing. It has more planes in it than Philly International, and he has a habit of stopping the club once, twice, sometimes three times on the downswing before he strikes the golf ball.

I remember reading a story awhile back that Tiger called him the day after a pro-am finished. Tiger joked that he was about to congratulate Sir Charles on winning the tournament, but he realized he was holding the newspaper upside-down while looking at the scores. See, even Tiger Woods has a sense of humor.

I don't usually care for celebreality television shows, but I think I'm going to tune in to this one. Barkley doesn't hold anything back, so this show has a good chance of being truly "reality" TV. And even though I've only played a handful of times in the last two years, I am still fanatical about the game of golf.

Fellow Philadelphians take note too! The guy doing the voiceover work for The Haney Project is none other than Preston Elliott, of the Preston & Steve Show on 93.3 WMMR.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Win A Free Copy of The Unearthed

Hello there and welcome. Read these rules first:

All you have to do is answer one of these questions correctly by leaving a comment on the blog, and I'll send you a copy of The Unearthed.

You can only answer one question at a time, and it must be one that hasn't been answered correctly already. Once a question has been answered correctly, that's one less copy available.

The answers can be found on this blog. The questions are arranged in order of relative difficulty, from easiest to hardest, but none of them are that hard.

And if you're not lucky enough to win, don't fret. A digital copy of The Unearthed is only $5.50.

1) What's the name of my Rottweiler?

2) What's the name of my German Shorthaired Pointer?

3) What's the name of my editor?

4) What's the name of the short story I posted on this blog?

5) What profession am I in?

6) Now a tough one. Who's my favorite film director?

Thanks for stopping by.

Brought To You By Nate Green

Nate was kind enough to give me an interview to help promote my book. Check it out if you get a chance. You'll learn more about me than you ever cared to know.

And come back here at 12:00 PM EST for a chance to win a free copy of The Unearthed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Editor Rules

My editor, Emma Wayne Porter, wrote a very funny post today about how, despite Mother Nature's many objections, she was able to read The Unearthed in one sitting.

In her post, she had this to say about The Unearthed: "I’m reading a book that’s one part Hitchcock, one part Ghost Hunters, and one part Columbine..."

Emma is a fantastic editor and is herself an author! She also recently did an interview with my buddy, Nate Green, where she gives us the low-down e-publishing.

Many thanks to Emma for all the kind words and for choosing to back an unknown like me.