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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Soldiers Medal


Staff Sergeant Matt Blain heard the trouble call – an armored vehicle had tipped over in an Afghani raging river Heroism. Shedding gear as he ran, Matt saw one of the passengers had been ejected from the vehicle and was being carried away by the water. He dived in and pulled him to shore before diving again into the water in order to rescue the three men still trapped in the armored vehicle. He single-handedly pulled open a five hundred pound door according to one of the trapped men, Captain Jim Fallon, to facilitate the rescue. For his bravery, the army issued him a very rare ‘The Soldiers Medal’ for heroism outside of combat.

Sergeant Blaine is a veteran of Afghanistan with a ‘Purple Heart’ when a land mine he had stepped on but was too light in weight to set off blew up the Humvee behind him at the end of 2007. After shrugging off the blast, Blaine helped the other soldiers out of the damaged Humvee.

When told about the medal on the phone, Blain told them to mail it to him. He didn’t want to be singled out because he had not been the only one to rush toward the vehicle in the river. The army sent a Colonel instead with a contingent to pin it on him. I know a lot of folks wonder what kind of soldiers are fighting for our way of life in a hellhole like Afghanistan – soldiers like Staff Sergeant Matt Blain. Oh hell yeah!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Insanity


A guy up in Idaho has three grizzly bears come into his yard where his kids play Grizzly. He shoots one dead, scaring the others away. Local authorities: yep, no problem. Federal Nitwits: Waaaahhhh… endangered species… $50,000 fine or a year in prison. To try and put this guy in prison is so stupid, the idiot behind it should be fired immediately for wasting the country’s time or put in an Idaho yard with three grizzly bears so the dolt can show the rest of us the way to handle the most dangerous creature in the USA. When three of them traipse into a guy’s Idaho yard it makes me wonder exactly how endangered they are, and what rung of the ladder our kids occupy on this species list.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Writing


I passed the forty mark on my query send-outs for HARDCASE, my first person POV thriller. Years back when I was reading Ms. Snark’s agent blog while trying to get a clue as to what would interest an agent, it seemed an impossible and humorous task as I read all the stuff authors should never do. There seemed to be an insurmountable number of items that doomed new authors in general to forever be submerged within the horrible agent ‘Slush Pile’. I read the words ‘craft’, ‘clich√©’, and ‘concise’ so many times they began to trigger my barf reflex.

A little time passed and other agents began sharing their likes and dislikes with us, including POV, adverbs, dialogue tags, begin in the middle and end in beginning (or something like that), no this… no that… no… well, you get the drift. These revelations amused, confused, and defused a multitude of writer wannabes like me, I’m sure. I couldn’t have been the only one reading new releases breaking each and every ‘No-No’ and yet getting into print just the same - and selling.

A little more time passed and I noticed writers I myself had followed for many years making public statements not only about politics, but about other writers. The most mystifying was Stephen King deciding to grade the writing ability of Stephenie Meyer. He claimed to understand the attraction to the stories but he claimed - ‘Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.’ To a rube like me if an author manages somehow to climb the literary Mt. Everest of not only getting their material published, but also selling millions of copies along with generating a string of Hollywood movies, that author’s writing might not be pleasing to King or one of the other Gods of the written word, but so what? There are many writers out there who write ‘series’ type books I enjoyed immensely, but when they’ve forayed away from the series I disliked their efforts. It didn’t mean they couldn’t ‘write worth a darn’. It meant only that I didn’t care for the story. I’ve read all the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovitch, but her efforts outside the series have put me off from reading anything else but the series. It had nothing to do with her writing and everything to do with the story. Anyway, we had entered a new era of celebrity critique.

A little more time passes, and here we are in the middle of publishing Armageddon with Amazon creating a self-publishing tidal wave. Agents, writers, publishing houses, and book stores (however many there are left) feel the heat building up to an inferno. It is possible this may mean a brave new world for storytellers. It more than likely will mean a lot less money for a whole lot of people. It may also mean a closer look at submissions with storyline higher up on an agent’s agenda. With my new handy-dandy Kindle I’ve been trying out a lot of free samples from many well known authors. I admit to being confused as to what the agent saw other than name recognition, and I was very happy I hadn’t plunked down cash for it. It wasn’t that the well known writers had forgotten how to write. I just didn’t like the story. In conclusion to this blog thesis, writing form is all well and good, but in this day and age of large free samplings an author better have a story. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wet Morning


Well, last night, or I should say very early this morning St. Joyce and I were awakened by a clatter at about 2:45 AM and it wasn’t Santa Claus. I thought she had gotten up and tripped while she imagined it was me. Then I heard the whooshing noise and knew something happened with the water pipe. Taking a peek out the window I saw water shooting up onto our house wall right where our main valve is, along with the attached sprinkler apparatus. Out I go quickly with Mag-lite, waterproof boots, and parka to find out what could be the matter. What to my wondering eyes did appear but a broken plastic fitting flush with our water pipe. I turned off the main valve. This stops the water of course… and our water flow inside the house. St Joyce meets me as I trudge back to the entryway with a towel.

“It’s busted where the sprinkler system pipe attaches to our mainline,” I inform her as I wipe off the excess water. By this time, the stray tomcat we call Big Boy sidles up to me and then trots in the house because he thinks it’s early breakfast time. Yes, we feed stray cats and get them fixed when we can catch them. Big Boy’s not bashful. He usually rams his head into our screen door until we allow him to come in.

“I hope Big Boy didn’t get wet,” St. Joyce says, watching him disappear into our kitchen.

Oh yeah, water’s drizzling off my parka but just so the Big Boy didn’t get wet, everything’s okay.

I go inside, plop down a food dish for the Big Boy and then go out to the garage. I need two things: an expander pliers to clamp the inside of the busted pipe inside our water line which I don’t have, and a pipe plug for if I figure out some way to get the busted piece out which I don’t have. I’m staring at what I do have when St. Joyce tells me in that exasperated tone that I need to just come back to bed and work on it in the morning. Oh yeah, I can go back to bed and just drift off into sleep with a day of appointments starting in a few hours and no water here at the house.

“You do realize I had to shut off the main water valve. That means there’re no baths, no showers, no tea, no coffee, and no toilet.”

“In that case, you better get to work, Dark Lord. Sleep is overrated.”

Yep, St. Joyce is on board for the long haul now. I stare for a few minutes while I root around in my plumbing parts and pet the Big Boy. I find a threaded stubby pipe I can use with a cap as a plug. I spot my handy dandy hacksaw. It occurs to me the main line is metal while the broken insert is plastic. Yes! I quickly disengage my hacksaw blade while Big Boy looks at me, wondering if I’ll put a few more morsels in his food dish. I do. With the blade, glove for holding it, small bladed chisel, and a hammer, out into the dark wet forest of foliage I go. I make three cuts in the plastic nub until I hit metal inside the main line, carefully tap the broken pieces free with the small chisel, and I’m ready for my plug. It turns out my plastic cap has a hole in the end so I McGyver the round bottom off another flexible plastic plug and seal it in the bottom of my cap with pipe dope. After fastening the cap on tight I went out and screwed my plug in and turned on the water. Oh happy day, because by then, it’s four in the morning. Big Boy passes me on the way in the house.

St. Joyce is sitting up in bed doing Sudoku while petting our eighteen year old cat Taco Bell. “I couldn’t sleep with you banging around out there.”

“Oh waaaahhhhh,” I sympathize with passion.

St Joyce chuckles and turns over to shut her light off with Taco Bell in hand. “Don’t wake me, Dark Lord. I’m thinking of taking the day off. I’ll see how I feel.”

“By your command, Master.” The Dark Lord knows who the next link in the chain of command is in this house.

At a quarter after five I’m back up, putting away the junk I left out in the garage. At seven, St. Joyce gets up. “I’m going to take a bath and soak.”

“It’s a good thing that troll we have repairing stuff got the water back on,” I reply, finishing the last shaving strokes while she draws her bath.

She brings the phone in with her. Before I leave for work, St. Joyce waves at me from the bathtub. She’s been consulting with her co-worker girlfriends. “The girls say they have it covered today and that I should take a personal day after the rough morning.”

“When the Dark Lord wakes you tomorrow, it will be the stuff of legend,” I promise on the way out.

“Take that back, Dark Lord!” St. Joyce cries out after me.

Heh, heh, heh… I don’t think so.   :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ARCHANGEL Reviews


I have garnered a couple of reviews for my 99 cent Kindle book ARCHANGEL I’d like to share. One is from my blogging buddy, author Charles Gramlich. He liked the humor and action in the book which were definitely the elements I wanted to convey.

This review is from: ARCHANGEL (Kindle Edition)  By Charles
"Well, you will never look at Archangels, Lucifer, and nuns the same way again. The story concerns two Archangels, Raphael and Abaddon, the Archangel of the Abyss, in an alliance with two Catholic nuns to destroy demons that are possessing important human figures on earth and reeking havoc with human lives and world affairs. There's a lot of action and a whole lot of humor. A fun book."

The second reviewer noted the obvious political slant I wrote the book from, and although not in agreement with it, objectively critiqued ARCHANGEL’s content. I couldn't ask for more.

This review is from: ARCHANGEL (Kindle Edition)  By TWM
"I found it an interesting exercise to read of three of the world’s most liberal leaders being possessed for longer than the time they held political power. If nothing else the author certainly made his own personal political views known, extreme ultra conservative. Now even though I personally am a progressive who wants something more than a paycheck for them in political power for the taxes I pay I can put the political statements made throughout the book aside and be objective about Mr. De Leo and his craft.

I found the writing to be tight, the narrative to be done well enough to actually hold my attention in a genre I am not a typical reader of. Growing up and going to a Catholic school for 12 years I will say that even if he was doing it as a jest he actually made the two nuns who are central to the story more human than I have ever looked at nuns. They walk, they talk and they drink and even don't mind a romp, all the while proving they too know how to use language one would never think coming out of a nuns mouth. Mr. De Leo's narration makes it believable.

To some I can see where it would take a great suspension of belief to be able to read ARCHANGEL, but to me to be honest I took the story as a story done by an author who knows his craft and is able to move the tale along. He is especially adept at communicating images of heaven and hell and the final place of the eternal demons, which I found to be believable imagery. Even though just as all mortals none have seen them in any other way than the way we bless or inflict them on ourselves and each other."

A writer can’t buy a review that has the ring of truth, especially when politics and religion both get showcased in the way I presented them in ARCHANGEL. I am blessed that I can write in any way I wish without worrying about whether my viewpoint will alienate readers thanks to already having a profession that puts food on the table. I appreciated very much reading reviews from people who don’t share my political proclivity but could still find my writing entertaining enough to enjoy. It’s all you can ask for as a writer. It has been worth practically giving ARCHANGEL and MONSTER away, just to get the feedback. Writing without readers is a lot like the old clich√© of the tree falling in the forest. Is there really any sound?  :)