What Thanksgiving Means To Me By Way Of Hashtags, The Bastard Child Of Zumba And Crossfit, A Little ENDWORLD, A Few More Hashtags And A Life Less Extraordinary

Well Good Evening, Morning or Afternoon to you ALL. Happy Thanksgiving Eve, or #HappyThanksgivingEve to those of you that love a good Hashtag. I, myself, really REALLY love a good Hashtag. I use them religiously across all of my Social Media platforms. I don’t know if I really understand the whole Hashtag thing–mine vary from one devoted to my youngest minion–#NatNatBoo–to one devoted to my every-other Saturday morning routine–#Crumba. Yes, #Crumbaisathingnow, or so that @fmarshauthor guy Tweets. For those of you that are wondering what Crumba is, Crumba as the bastard child of Zumba and Crossfit: Two activities that participants are fervent, and in some cases militant about. I hold nothing against the practitioners of both. In truth? I’m a bit envious. My idea of activity right now is yard work, cleaning house, doing laundry, playing with my minions and trying to top 10K steps daily on my Fitbit, something that I’ve only managed to achieve two or three times in the six months since I bought it. So let’s get that out of the way now. Dear Crossfit and Zumba peeps: Keep on keepin’ on. Keep rocking those deadlifts and “ooh ooh’ing” to “Uptown Funk.”

There are a probably a few of you reading this right now that are wondering “hey, where the f*ck has this guy been for the last year?” You’d be right to wonder. My last blog post (incidentally also a “What Thanksgiving Means to Me” ponderance) was on 11/26 of 2014. That’s an eternity for a guy that used to pride himself on writing every day. What can I say? The same thing I always say when I disappear off the literary radar for a bit: Life, man. Gul’darned, cotton-picking LIFE. It gets in the way. Between being a good Branch Manager, being a good dad, being a good husband (all things that I’m always trying to improve upon) et al et AL, writing with any sort of consistency has been a tough thing to do. The good news? Over the last two weeks, I HAVE been writing more. CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD mainly, otherwise known as #CHILDRENOFENDWORLD in my own, subjective Twitterverse (#Amwriting #Homestretch, baby). If everything goes the way I hope it to, I should be done the first draft sometime within the next few weeks, so those of you that have been waiting patiently for the continuance of William’s story? Your patience will soon pay off. And if you want to Beta read it, message me here, on Facebook or on Twitter. I’ll be lining up about a dozen once it’s fully edited and ready to go.

Is it any good? That’s a tough question to answer. I’d be lying if I said I personally didn’t like it. I actually like it more than ENDWORLD. A LOT more. I’ll be honest with you: While it continues William’s story, it’s a very different story. Darker. But deeper, too. More spiritual, really. In fact, spirituality is a huge theme in it, one that I expect will carry over into Book Three, HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD (#HEAVENANDENDWORLD #Areyougettingtiredofthisyet). Okay. I’ll ease up on the Hastags moving forward. #Acceptmyapologies #STOPF*CKINGHASHTAGGINGEVERYTHING!

Anywhos, I digress. Focus. Focus and we’re back on point. I’m not here tonight to write about my writing. I’m here tonight because I cannot let a year go by without a “What Thanksgiving Means to Me” blog post. It’s tradition. And LIFE cannot get in the way of traditions. The thing is? It’s been a rough year, friends. At times REALLY rough. It’s definitely had it’s high points: Disney World with my minions, my wife and my in-laws, a new Mad Max movie (still the best movie of the year, IMO; at least until the new Star Wars movie comes out next month). There’s more but my head hurts a bit too much tonight and I’m sure you don’t want to read 5000 words about every little, piddling good thing that’s happened to me this year. Back in April, I passed a Kidney Stone and it hurt like a MOTHERf*cker. See? That’s a good thing but do you really want to read about it? Survey says: HELL no.

In truth? It’s been for the most part a challenging year. Sick loved ones, saying goodbye to my childhood home (booyakasha, Maple Street and J-Town: RESPECT), turning 40, turning 40 and did I mention turning 40? Yeah. That’s a tough pill to swallow. #Thisis40 and let me tell you the Judd Apatow movie was on. F*cking. POINT. The only thing it was missing was the overabundance of white hair and a sagging stomach. That said, it’s a bit tough to ruminate on the good when so much of what has happened this year has been… well? Not great. But ruminate I will because if I’ve learned one thing over my now 40+ year life on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence it’s that it could always be worse. And at the least? There’s THAT to be thankful for.

So what does Thanksgiving mean to me… hell, to ANYone in a less-than-spectacular year? Well, it remains a time to give thanks for the basics: Family, friends, good health, a roof over my head and food in my belly, a new Mad Max movie and NOW a new Star Wars movie to look forward to, a six year old minion that enjoys reading and writing as much as I do (and has her mom’s aptitude toward Math and Science, as well; it’s a powerful combination), a three year old minion with a propensity for “twirly skirts,” princess crowns and “squeezy hugs” and a wife who at 35 is just as appealing to me as she was when we started dating 14 years ago this month (11/11/01, a day that had lived and will continue to live in infamy). But it goes deeper than that, perhaps moreso when you’re coming down the #homestretch of 365 daunting days and already looking forward to embracing 2016 with open arms and a plea: Dear God please do NOT be like 2015. Pretty please? Thank you, Baby Jesus. Like CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, there’s something spiritual about it.

I can’t really describe it save for through experience. Feeling. It’s that experience… that feeling of wandering out to the curb on a chilly night after you just got done making Sauteed Apples and Cornbread (or as #NatNatBoo calls it “Corn Cake”) for Thanksgiving Dinner, lighting a cigarette, looking up at the full moon, inhaling deeply and smelling wood burning in a fireplace somewhere near. For no reason whatsoever a little smile graces your face and a little bit of serendipity wells up inside of you despite your pounding head and dire need for a good night’s sleep. As Creed sang back in the days of my wayward youth in a song that STILL has meaning for me today, “There’s a peace inside your soul/Let it be your friend/It will help you carry on/In the end/There’s a peace inside your soul.” That peace? It’s what sustains me through the tough times.

But there’s more. I’ve come to realize something over the course of the last 11, soon to be 12 months. I feel it every time I see my girls after a long day at the office (and man? Some of them have been really, REALLY long; maybe not physically but mentally? Aw hell yes; a few have taken me to the brink of passing out), get a “squeezy hug” from Natalie and I hear about Cara’s mandatory Three Things she must reveal to Nicole and I every night that she did at school that day (which usually revolve around a subject–Math for instance–recess and either Spanish, Music, Art, Library or Computers depending on the day). That feeling? The aforementioned “more?” Simple, friends. Love with a capital “L.” It wells up inside of me to the point where I can barely suppress it and focus on driving, or making dinner, or giving Natalie a bath and spotting Cara while she showers. I look at their Cherubic little faces–still so much like Nicole’s and for that I remain grateful–and listen to them speak, or sing, or even bicker. And I smile. Maybe even shed a little tear (though I’m quick to disguise it from their view; they hate it when I cry). And I think to myself: Thank God for them. For my wife. For my friends who I can still talk to about any and everything from the most mundane–Rousey losing to Holm for instance–to the most complex–discussion of the respective books we’re working on. For my family who I can still call if I need advice.

THAT’S what Thanksgiving means to me at the ripe old age of 40+ guys and gals. It’s a time to give thanks for all of the intangibles that I have. Money? Fame? Success? All are wonderful and I’ll never stop pushing myself to achieve the highest level that I can achieve and obtain of each. But all of those things really are secondary. In a way I’ve come full circle. When I was younger, I didn’t have ANY of those things. I learned to live and learned to love without them. I grew from a boy to a man and suddenly those things were there in spades and they WERE important to me. To a certain extent they remain so though the thing… the THINGS that are the most important to me now are not the amount of money in my wallet or my title; not whether I sold 1000 copies of ENDWORLD or 10. Family. Friends. Those little moments of peace like standing by moonlight on a chilly, Autumn night, the smell of burning wood in my nostrils and the taste of Apple Cider on my lips, waiting for my girls to return from a hayride to the Witch’s House (booyakasha, Linvilla Orchards: RESPECT) while I chat with a close friend. Or lying in bed next to my wife at midnight and laughing ourselves to sleep with anecdotes. Even sitting here tonight, typing these words while listening to the soundtrack to the Rocky movies (it’s called “The Rocky Story” if you want to pick it up or better yet, stream it via Spotify, iTunes et al et AL) and discussing with Nicole between paragraphs how the f*ck we’re going to get out and see “Creed” in the near future when we can’t get a babysitter and all Cara and Natalie want to see is “The Good Dinosaur” and in Cara’s case, “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”

Life, friends? It doesn’t have to be extraordinary all the time. Sometimes a life less extraordinary is better for the heart, mind and soul. It teaches you humility… teaches you to really, REALLY appreciate the things you have. By the cold light of a full moon on Thanksgiving Eve 2015 while a cigarette hangs from one corner of your mouth, you realize that once upon a time…

‘Cause all good stories begin as such…

You thought you’d never have the things you have today. You were miserable. You spent your days and nights pining away for an ideal that really was nothing more than a fictionalized autobiography of your life. What you envisioned, not the really, really REAL world. The really, really REAL world is a what waits for you inside your little, two story Colonial on a sleepy little street in Suburbia, US of A. It may not be the dream you originally dreamed–the sometimes impossible dream–but guess what? It’s the dream that THAT dream became while you weren’t looking. And amazingly enough, you realize as you flick your cigarette out into the street and turn and stroll up your driveway, your shadow cast in front of you in full relief that this? THIS was what you always wanted. A home. A family. Consistency. They’ll always be a little part of you that yearns for a bit more. Use it, friends. Let it drive you. Never give up. Find peace inside your soul… let it be your friend, but never totally stop reaching for the stars. If you grab ‘hold of one, make it your b*tch but never, EVER neglect what you already have. #Noregrets, folks. To quote the great Paul McCartney, “money can’t buy you love.”

And with that? I’m spent. #Itsgettinglate #IvealreadyneglectedNicolefortoolongtonight. But I’m glad I did this. And I’m glad that if you’re reading this right now, you once again came along for the ride. I appreciate you in ways you can’t possibly imagine. Your support. Your candid feedback both good AND bad. I oft times end these little ponderances with a long list of arbitrary thank you’s but tonight? I’m not going to do that. #Keepingitreal. I’ll just end it with one. Thank YOU, friends, readers and fellow sh*theads. And have a Happy Thanksgiving.

#THEEND.

Another Quick Hit

We’ll, fellow Sh*theads. Guess what? As of this AM, ENDWORLD – A Novel has been submitted for design and formatting. Next step publication.

I’m equal parts elated and terrified about what happens from this moment forth and if this seems like a retread of my earlier Facebook post, it is. BTW, If you don’t follow me on Facebook you can check me out HERE or on my brand spanking new Facebook Author Page HERE. End aside.

I honestly don’t know where I’ll be posting updates on ENDWORLD – A Novel from here on out. My plan is to launch the book simultaneously across my entire electronic footprint. “Random Musings” is a big part of that and for those of you that follow me here? Thank you for your support and continuous reading of my glorified mental flatulence. I promise that I will continue to pollute your minds, even after the book goes “live” and hopefully sells 100,000 copies.

Okay, maybe not that many. In truth? A couple hundred would be enough to justify this almost 20 year process for me and keep me going. CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, the sequel, promises to be even more interesting so I hope that I get to write it. Enh, who am I kidding? I’m going to write it regardless.

Time for me to wax philosophical for a moment: Books write themselves. The writer/author has little or no control over the process. He/she is a vessel through which the story makes itself known. Did I just personify a human driven experience? Yes I did, and I may sound like a kook for doing so. But I’ve always believed that stories… At least the good ones… Exist already. The writer/author’s role is merely to reach into the Ether, grab said story by the nuts and write it down.

I may never sell a single book. But in my mind? I’m fulfilling my role. Storyteller, vessel… Whatever I am. Other than being a good husband and Dad it’s my purpose.

I can hear people saying how much that last statement sounds like something my Biological would say. You know what? It is. He’s as much of a kook as I am. I’ve never denied that there are aspects of him in me. Every day I look in the mirror and see them. But me? I choose to embody the good parts of him and not the bad.

As I sit here typing these words, Natalie has fallen asleep on my lap while drinking a bottle. Sesame Street is still playing in the background. Nicole and Cara are out seeing “Pinkalicious: The Musical.” As Creed sang, “There’s a peace inside [my] soul. Let it be [my] friend.” Whatever the outcome of this next step and the publication of ENDWORLD – A Novel I have achieved my goal. I am satisfied with what I have created. Will others be?

We shall see. Stay tuned, fellow Sh*theads. Updates to follow.

ADDENDUM: I just posted the Prologue of ENDWORLD – A Novel to Createspace, “Alone.” If you’re interested in checking it out, you can download it and view it HERE. You can also post reviews to it’s review page. Which would be most appreciated. I know its only a couple paragraphs but I’d still like to know what people think. Thanks, guys! Have a great day! 

Of March Madness, Nutrisystem, Miley “Twerking” to “The Rains of Castamere” and the Grand, Quiet Time of the Aspiring Writer’s Soul

Otherwise known as “the time after you ship your recently (or not so recently in my case) completed, e-formatted novel off to a handful of Beta readers and your editor but before you decide on a cover, typeset it and upload it to Amazon.com for sale.” Yeah. I figured that “the grand, quiet time of the aspiring writer’s soul” was a bit more eloquent, not to mention a blatantly obvious shout-out to Douglas Adams’ “The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.” You may agree. Or not. Either way, its your prerogative, Bobby Brown.

Seriously, though? If it wasn’t for March Madness right now I’d be going completely stir crazy. Few sporting events get me more excited than the prolonged, three week orgy of basketball, brackets, beer and wings that is the NCAA Tournament. Sadly, this year’s “orgy” involves following the action primarily on my phone and my computer, mourning the first day loss of one of my Final Four teams (curse you, Lobos!), drinking glass upon glass of water (already up to five, today) and eating Nutrisystem Mexican-Style Tortilla Soup.

Regarding the latter, a few words to those of you that are considering adopting Nutrisystem as a means of dropping a couple of pounds before an event like, but not limited to a wedding: The food’s not bad. Taste wise its all pretty good. But the portions are tiny as f*ck. They’re made even tinier when you follow the instructions, only to have your already minuscule container of Mexican-Style Tortilla Soup blow it’s load all over your microwave. You are left with a bit less than half of your original meal. Were it not for the multi-grain tortilla and two pieces of cheese I brought as a “Smartcarb” and the apple I brought as a “Powerfuel” I’d be screwed until snack time. Is starvation a part of the Glycemic Index? If so, then this diet is working phenomenally! I’m down six pounds since this past Sunday. But I think my stomach is beginning to eat itself. If I break 10 pounds by this Sunday I’ll already be 75% of the way to my “goal weight.” Know what that means?

You’ve got it, guys! Wings and beer for the Sweet 16!

Basketball and dieting aside, this really is a quiet time in my life. One of the quieter ones that I can remember. I don’t know that much has changed. Responsibility-wise I’m in the same boat that I was in a year, two years, and even three years ago. Sure, I’ve got an extra little one to care for and sure, my three and a half year old is no longer as portable as she once was. But things aren’t that different. It really does come down to the whole writing thing. I’m not actively working on anything right now, be said “anything” Endworld – A Novel, one of its planned sequels or something else. In truth? The only thing that I’m doing right now is updating my blog. While that technically is “something else” its different. Discrepant (one of my favorite words that I never get to use). Discordant? Only if I’m trying to sing a duet with my three year old. I swear that kid already has a better voice than I do.

Hence the fact that I’ve been pumping out two blog entries each week for the last couple, a fact which hopefully isn’t getting too tiresome. What can I say? I need to be writing. Its ingrained in my DNA. My Biological? He was… is a writer, though his style of writing is a  wee bit different than mine. He was always very talented at describing a scene in the least amount of words possible. Me? People have told me that I’m too wordy in my descriptions. Some have told me that my strength is writing believable dialogue, something that my aforementioned Biological was never able to do well. Mind you, I haven’t read anything that the guy has written save for a few letters in the last almost 20 years but based on their content? Yeah. His writing style hasn’t changed much since he crossed the proverbial line from “Father” to “Biological” (he hadn’t been “Dad” in a while). He was always more James Joyce than Stephen King.

Me? I’m a mutt. I’m the bastard offspring of a dozen different writers and their styles. I’m the aspiring author Frank Snow of Broomall, Pennsylvania. If you have no idea what that means I urge you to subscribe to HBO and watch “Game of Thrones.” It’s the best show on television. You have until next Sunday, March 31st to get caught up before Season Three begins. Seasons One and Two are only 10 episodes long each. Plenty of time. You may have to sacrifice a game or two of the Tournament but I promise you that you won’t regret it. It has something for everyone. Even boobs and a**. Why boobs and a**? Trust me: You’ll understand by the end of the first episode.

Furthermore, don’t just watch the television show and accept it as canon. Read the books. There are five of them so far with two more too come, and “A Game of Thrones” is just the title of the first one. The others are “A Clash of Kings,” “A Storm of Swords,” “A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance with Dragons” (author: George R R Martin). I know that reading for leisure is, for many younger people as tortuous as watching paint dry and the prospect of reading something longer than 1000 pages is almost, but not as frightening as watching Miley Cyrus “twerk” in a unicorn suit. But try it. You might be surprised. I used to consume 1000 plus page books like “It” for breakfast when I was a young “whipper snapper.” I read the Bible for fun. Books like those? They not only made me want to be a writer, they made me lust to be one. ‘Course, if the prospect of reading something longer than 200 pages doesn’t appeal to you, you likely won’t purchase my novel when it becomes available (423 pages, pre-edit and pre-typeset). And if the process of making money for a living appeals to you? Well, you can still make money as an aspiring author but guess what? You won’t be doing it as a writer. You’ll be doing it as a Retail Manager. Or an Office Manager, and you’ll be writing in what little spare time you have.

I’m not trying to discourage you from following your dreams, guys. I did. I still am. I’m simply stating the facts as I see them. The unabashed truth on my side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Let me take this opportunity to say thanks for reading “Random Musings,” even though many of you may now be departing for that really spiffy cat blog you saw beneath my URL on Google. For those of you that decide to remain, I promise that I’ll keep updating this site, even after Endworld – A Novel goes “live,” whenever that ends up being. Some days, the long road from conception to publication, self or traditional really does seem endless. People told me that, but I never believed it. Until now, that is.

Ah, the grand, quiet time of the aspiring writer’s soul. I’ve been here before, and I forgot how incredibly dull it is. On a happier note, my March Madness bracket–which took a beating yesterday–is looking better over the first slate of games of today. I figure if I can get out of today with five or six total losses in the first round (I currently have four) and still only one team out of my Sweet Sixteen eliminated (curse you again, New Mexico!), I’ll be able to make up many of the points I squandered yesterday on teams like the aforementioned one and Pitt (the last stand of the Big East? Come on, Pitt! For f*cks sake, it was Wichita State!), even though I’m also -1 in my Elite Eight and -1 in my Final Four. On an even happier note, I just consumed a piece of Nutrisystem chocolate cake and my stomach has, for the moment, stopped eating itself. I am feeling less starved than I was feeling a few hours ago. Might this whole Glycemic Index thing actually be working? Survey says: Probably not. I’m likely just getting used to the emptiness.

No sooner had I written the last paragraph than Ole’ Miss went on a run and is currently leading another of my Sweet 16 teams–Wisconsin–by six with a minute and a half left to play. Make that seven. Well? You can’t win ’em all, I guess. Some days, though? I wish I could travel to the future. In doing so, I would be able to:

1. See who wins this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament and adjust my bracket accordingly. Maybe then I’d not risk something as sacred as my Sweet 16, my Elite Eight and my Final Four on a mid-major school like New Mexico or a proverbial disappointment like Wisconsin. It seems that every year, one of the regions of my bracket begins, right around this time on the second day of the Tournament, to look like the scarred surface of a battlefield. This year is no different. The West? Yep. It’s lost. On a happier note, I’m still perfect in the Midwest and the South, and I only have one loss in the East. A man can dream. A man can…

2. See what happens in Season Three of “Game of Thrones.” Okay, I’ll admit that I already know what happens and all I’m going to say to those of you that have A.) Never read the books or B.) Not made it through “A Storm of Swords” yet is this: The Rains of Castamere. That may hold no significance for you now but trust me when I tell you that by the end of this season, it will. As will boobs and a** for all you young “whipper snappers” that watch it and everything else on HBO for… well, boobs and a**. I think I’m more interested in seeing the reactions of the people that have never read the books to what happens than I am in actually seeing it. Their reactions? That would be enough to get me to travel into the future. Yet while I’m there, I think I’ll…

3. Check and see if adopting Nutrisystem was really worth it. How do I look at the wedding? Do I look “tight” or do I still looked like a stuffed sausage wearing pinstripes? If the former, hooray. I now have motivation for sticking it out until the end of the program. If the latter? Well sh*t. I might as well just stop on the way home and pick up a bucket of wings, a jug of blue cheese and a case of Yeungling to watch March Madness on my phone and my computer with. Because really…

4. I could see if it was all worth it. All the writing and revising; all the waiting and wondering about whether or not people will like Endworld – A Novel. Beta readers are great, and if you utilize them right you get a good cross-section of your potential audience (young adult mixed with new adult mixed with middle agers mixed with ole’ timers) to give you feedback before you go “live” with your book. But if I traveled to the future, I’d be able to see the finished product: The cover, the interior et al. I’d be able to read the reviews that people have given it on Amazon.com.

It may seem to many of you reading this blog that I devote a lot of time to talking about my novel, and very little time actually working toward getting it published. Trust me: I’m working my a** off. So much so that when I’m not being an Office Manager or spending time with my family its all that I’m doing. That’s what makes now so strange. I feel like I should be working on it. But there’s not much that I can do at the moment. The book? It’s in good hands. I need to be patient. After all, I have all the time in the world to do this. Why not do it right? I assure you that I will be talking even more about it as the next few days, weeks and months pass. Hell, I’ll likely be marketing it here on “Random Musings” one it goes “live.” I know, that cat blog is looking more and more appealing by the word, isn’t it?

Sadly, I can’t travel into the future. I can’t see the outcome of the Tournament, I can’t see myself in a mirror and I can’t know based on the opinions of a few people if my book is going to succeed or fail. What I can do is cheer for the teams that I picked that are still playing. I can drink my eight plus cups of water a day (up to seven, now), consume my “Smartcarbs” and “Powerfuels” and force whatever I choose as my Nutrisystem Dinner Entree down my gullet. Most importantly, though? I can “just keep writing, just keep writing,” even if two blog entries a week balloons into three. I can’t allow myself to get rusty because once Endworld – A Novel is, blessedly, done and “live,” there’s a second and a third book to write. Maybe more. Who knows?

In closing? Well, I can do this one of two ways. I can post the video of Miley Cyrus “twerking” to Flo Rida’s “WOP” or I can post the lyrics to “The Rains of Castamere.” Both represent an ending: One to a career (sorry, Hannah Montana, but this is the low point of your ever diminishing career) and the other to… well, no spoilers. Obviously I’m more inclined to post the latter, but the masochist within me really wants to post the former. I know! Someone needs to overdub Miley’s “twerking” video with Bronn singing “The Rains of Castamere” pre-the Battle of Blackwater. Then? Well sh*t. If anything can penetrate the grand, quiet time of this aspiring writer’s soul, that’s it.

Get on it, Youtubers. And everyone? Have a great weekend. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

A Sh*thead Writer’s Post-Mortem – Sizing Up The “Finished” Product

Good Morning, fellow Sh*theads! In my subjective universe that qualifies as a greeting, not an insult. If you take offense to it I apologize, but you were forewarned about Sh*theads and my definition thereof previously. For those of you that are new to “Random Musings,” or those of you that are in need of a refresher course on my psuedo-insanity, a Sh*thead is pretty much anyone that leads a relatively normal, nine to five existence, myself included. That’s it. Not exactly earth shattering, huh?

I say “relatively” because there is a gray area. Take me, for example. I have a full time job. I am a homeowner. I have a wife, two human children and two feline ones. I have favorite television shows and movies, favorite books and websites. I kinda’ have a bedtime though lately, that bedtime has fluctuated between roughly 10:30 PM and 1:30 AM. I occasionally drink and catch a smoke. Normal, right?

On the surface? Yes. But beneath the surface, my life is anything but normal. I’m trying to complete and publish a novel. I’m grappling with certain events that are poised to transpire within the next few weeks–events which I will not go into on this blog. There are some things about me that I don’t mind putting out there… out here for the world to see but others? They are for me, and me alone to contend with. That said…

My always perplexed mind has been highly preoccupied these last few weeks. I wouldn’t say “vexed.” I don’t know that I’m vexed by anything but preoccupied? Most definitely. You see, this whole novel writing, rewriting, re-rewriting and re-re-rewriting process has been equal parts invigorating and taxing. Invigorating because I’m doing what I love with a story idea that remains as much a part of my heart, soul and mind as my wife and my children. But taxing because so much has changed since I originally wrote ENDWORLD – A Novel almost two decades ago. Getting back into the mind(s) of the character(s) is, at times, incredibly difficult.

Consider: The novel’s protagonist, William MacNuff is an 18 year old kid on the run from the totalitarian society which holds him, his family, and everyone else under its proverbial boot heel. I’m a 37 year old father staring down 38 with equal parts dread and… well, just dread, living in a democratic society. The fact that the society that William inhabits is a machine run one is not beyond me. The fact that I’ve gone hard-core dystopic and layered in another, more ambitious story on top of (or beneath, depending on your perspective) the original story is not lost on me, either. I know the risk that I am taking, not just with what many would consider outdated subject matter(s) but with scope. Aspiring writers simply don’t write about post-apocalyptic worlds run by robots anymore, and they sure as f*ck don’t write about alternate realities. As for a synthesis of the two? I don’t know that it’s ever been done before. Asimov’s days as a top of the chart author are long past, as is Asimov (RIP), and Multiverse Theory? It is a subject generally left to the Stephen Hawking’s and Michio Kaku’s of the world.

Nowadays? Aspiring authors write about vampires and witches, werewolves and zombies. I hold nothing against them. I would never hold anything against anyone that is trying to perfect and profit from their art. We’re all the same, deep down inside “in places we don’t like to talk about at parties.” (Nicholson? Booyakasha. Respect). You, me, Asimov and Meyer? One. Just because I prefer “Foundation” to the “Twilight” series doesn’t mean that “Twilight” sucks. Look at how much money it’s made. Obviously someone out there likes Edward and Bella’s story. But my tastes remain traditional, reared in the same kind of subject matter that I grew up reading, back when vampires were of the Bram Stoker variety, witches had green skin and black, pointy hats, werewolves were played by Michael Landon (RIP) and “The Walking Dead” wasn’t even a glint in Robert Kirkman’s eye.

Still, there is the problem of a 37 going on 38 year old writing an 18 year old’s story. In the First Person, no less. I thought I’d left things like teen angst and naivete far behind me. But the process of re, re, re… re-imagining ENDWORLD – A Novel has forced me to reexamine it and let me tell you something, guys: Its f*cked up. Really. I’ll admit, I’ve grown quite complacent in my “old” age. It’s been a while since I felt the same kind of emotions that I used to feel back then. That’s not a bad thing, nor is it something that I miss. Far from it: It’s mental evolution, otherwise known as “growing up.” But I can honestly and truthfully say that I believe the book works on many levels as both a testimony to that era of mine and most people’s lives and a testimony to the things and the people that inspire me, presently. Nicole? Cara? Natalie? ‘Dorna and Roxy? Booyakasha. Respect. I love you all.

Others will disagree–it’s inevitable–but I feel confidant that the story that I set out to write originally at 18–back when I and my brethren lived on a two square mile plot of prison ground that we endearingly referred to as “Oz” and no one lived anyplace else–is well-preserved within the framework of the story that I ended up writing at 36 and 37. There’s still an echo of my original motivation… my original concept of an “Autobiographical Fiction” in it, but it’s only an echo. One of Pat McClane’s ethereal “haints.” Like randomly hearing a song that you haven’t heard in a couple of decades and smiling, despite the fact that the person you were… the person who once upon a time…

‘Cause all good stories begin as such…

…attached so much significance to said song no longer exists as anything other than a memory: A fading, mental picture of a lovelorn, pre-adult who set out to fictionalize in words the life he wanted to live because he was disenchanted with the one that he was living. That ripped and yellowing picture? It was captioned “Endworld.” ENDWORLD – A Novel, though? It’s a JPEG. And while I still have a soft spot in my heart for the old, captioned picture that I keep right here and right here 

[POINTS SIMULTANEOUSLY TO HIS HEART AND HEAD]

…despite its physical, nonexistence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of being, it is no longer relevant. That’s not to say that the JPEG is. I’ll let the people that chose to read ENDWORLD – A Novel decide that. What’s the worst that can happen? I put it out there, people read it and hate it? Not everyone is going to like it. Hell, not all of my Beta readers liked it though in my defense, very few have yet read what I hope will be the final, final draft. Any of you reading this right now that are afraid of what my reaction will be if you read it and tell me that it stinks take heart: You can. Me = Mentally strong like bull. My ego is lead-lined. Or Black Shale lined if you’re an ex-pat member of the People’s Rebellion for Freedom and Equality (PRFE for short). But I digress. I don’t want to give away too much, too soon. That said…

It’s a gray and dreary afternoon here on my side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. The wind is howling, the rain is falling and soon, said rain will begin transitioning to snow. You’ve gotta’ love a good winter storm–this one is called “Saturn.” I hope the snow holds off until after I’ve picked up my girls from school and gotten them home safely. I hope it holds off until my wife gets home securely from work later this evening. I don’t really mind a winter storm so long as I’m home for its duration and not out in the middle of it. It puts me in mind of a scene from the planned sequel to ENDWORLD – A NovelCHILDREN OF ENDWORLD. In it, the protagonist, William MacNuff has been reunited with his brethren after… well, just after (no spoilers, especially when only a handful of people have read the first book and no one save for me has read what I hope will be the final, final draft). They sit down around a makeshift table in a makeshift tent in the middle of a raging blizzard to eat a “feast” which, by the minimalist and rationing-influenced standards of the PRFE is little more than the proverbial equivalent of bread and water. But the quantity of food available is not the essence of this scene. As the meal progresses, William is brought up to speed on all that he has missed in the last X-amount of X’s. It is, hand’s down, one of if not the most lighthearted scenes, written or planned in what was once called THE ENDWORLD CHRONICLE. And it remains my favorite, written or planned.

The kicker? It’s a past meets present kinda’ scene. Archetypes of my past turned elements of William’s sit down with archetypes of mine and William’s shared “present.” And despite an initial aversion to each other eventually? They are talking and laughing like old friends. That scene? I like to think that it is metaphorical of my life at this juncture: A healthy dose of the present, influenced occasionally by the past. Why? Because as the Captain of the USS Enterprise once said…

 

Sometimes, being a Sh*thead writer is not enough. Sometimes, you just gotta’ turn to Jean Luc Picard for the right words. Not to mention Will Riker’s reply:

“Speak for yourself, sir. I intend to live forever.”

A healthy dose of cockiness? Will sh*t, guys. That never hurts, either. Stay safe out there, fellow Sh*theads.

A Quick Hit

Good evening, fellow Sh*theads. Happy Friday night. I told myself that I’d never do this… Told myself that I wouldn’t be “that blogger.” You know, the one who updates you daily on everything from what he’s eating to what he’s watching on television. I told myself when I started this that I wouldn’t turn “Random Musings” into an online journal. But…

Well, guys? Times change, and I figure that I have enough of a “fan base” at this point to justify it. That said, I had pizza for dinner tonight (cheese, only; it’s a Friday in Lent and I’m a fairly good Christian) and I’m currently watching “Sofia the First” with my three year old. A quick parenthetical aside: “Sofia the First” is a new, Disney princess show on Disney Junior about a young commoner, turned royal by marriage (her mother married the king, Roland). It’s terrific, and very age appropriate for a three year old. I highly recommend it. End aside.

Lest those of you that have been reading “Random Musings” worry that I’ve given up blogging, rest assured: I have not. Quite the contrary, actually. I’ve got a handful of new writing ideas involving everything from a “Friends” movie (I call it “Friends: Ten Years Later”) to a new rumination on parenthood, double ear infections, pink eye and Bronchitis. But I’m knee deep in novel revision mode, currently. I’m putting the finishing touches on what I hope will be my final, pre-publication rewrite of ENDWORLD. It and my daily routine are eating up a good portion of my time, currently. As much as I’d love to maintain this site, there are people that have been waiting almost 20 years for me to finally finish this book and I don’t want to let them down. That said…

I know a few of you reading this are dying to see the extent of this novel… This labor of love that I’ve been writing about for… Well, forever. Rest assured: You will. While I’m not confident in putting the whole book out here for anyone to see just yet (a combination of low self-esteem and my fear that someone will steal my idea), I feel reasonably confident about giving you a taste.

So, for those of you that have been faithfully following “Random Musings” since I started it four years ago, I present to you a little treat. The Prologue of my novel. please read, and hopefully enjoy at your leisure. As for me? I’ma get back to the grind. About 100 pages left to go until I’m finished. I’ll catch you on the flip side, friends. Have a great weekend.

ENDWORLD – A Novel

PROLOGUE – Alone (“Fear in a handful of dust”)

It is difficult to remember when my life had meaning. When you’re 18 and on the run, the only meaning that your life has is surviving from day-to-day. Any other meaning that my life had vanished that gray and hazy morning, afternoon or evening on the beach.

I look out the window of the old, abandoned office and adjoining warehouse within which I have resided indefinitely. The nameless town below rolls silently away down a steep hill. Houses and proprietorships, long since abandoned dot the landscape. About a quarter of a kilometer away, the black-asphalt spine of the Highway stretches endlessly in either direction like a huge, dreaming python, and while I cannot see it directly I know that it is there. I can always sense its presence no matter where I am. I’ve got to admit that it is a pretty sight. Perhaps one of the last in this cursed place. Still, a python can be deadly if you provoke it.

How long have I been here? I honestly don’t know. The interior of what has been my surrogate home is unchanged. Old, abandoned desks sit in the four corners of the main room. Atop them, what appear to be old, non-touch screen computer monitors grown dusty and dim with age, abandoned keyboards, speakers, computer mice, the occasional cup of dried-out pens and broken pencils and on one desk, a calendar grown so ancient with age that I can no longer make out the month, days or even the year written upon it.

But such concepts no longer matter in 15:CI.

Three of the four walls surrounding me are covered with accouterments. On one, two framed pictures, one which preaches “Teamwork” and the other, “Excellence.” Another has a yellowing and faded poster of what appears to be a rocket. “Taurus II” it advertises, “Brought to you by Orbital Technologies.” On yet another, a single framed picture that advertises “Leadership.” And on the final wall? A vicious mockery of the world as it once-was: A mural of a forest at dusk, upon it painted trees whose tops extend well beyond the water-stained and cracked drop ceiling over  my head.

I have learned from my experiences, both good and bad, not to rely on time here in Endworld. Every time (no pun intended) that I begin to do so— every time that I try to make sense of such an abstract and outdated concept I realize that the passage of what passes for time here is frighteningly different than one might expect. Everything fades. Everything dies and eventually leaves nothing but the equivalent of a yellowing and faded mural of a forest at dusk if you’re lucky. But in most cases? It leaves nothing but a pile of dust. Here in Endworld? The process once referred to as “time” is elongated. A day lasts ten days. A month lasts 100 months. And a year?

A single year lasts a millennium.

You’re probably wondering who I am. I assure you that that question, and any others that you have will be answered eventually and to the best of my ability. For now, all that I can tell you is that I am alone—the last member of a group of companions who were dedicated to liberating themselves from the totalitarian tyranny of The Administration. I say “the last” not because I am the lone survivor of our group. On the contrary, as far as I know the other surviving members of my group have escaped to a safer place: A place away from the influence of the metal and micro-chip enhanced bastards that sit in judgment over the species that created them and over all of Endworld. No. I say that I am “the last” because I am the one who stayed behind…

However reluctantly.

My gaze drifts back to the lone window, inset within the front door of the place I have come to call my “home.” The sun has almost set and the world is bathed in an eerie, golden-red iridescence. I am reminded of a night seemingly an eternity ago when I embarked on a journey just beyond that same sunset. Then, I was younger physically, figuratively and spiritually. Then, I was unscarred by the sorrow that now hangs like a putrid cloud of hour-old cigarette smoke over my head as I write this. Then, I was as optimistic and naive as any child of 17 whose entire life had been spent within the confines of a small town. Mine was called Jefferson, a tiny borough in the Mid-Western Territory, or MWT for short. Now, though? I sit silently pondering the proverbial road that carried me here, to an old, abandoned office and warehouse in the middle of a crumbling ghost-town sandwiched between a nameless river and the Highway. A place that my companions might have called “The Center of Bumblefuck.”

Darkness is slowly infiltrating the world outside my door and consequently the corners of the office that I nightly bunk down in. I reach into my battered backpack and remove a candle, unfortunately the last of my once-extensive supply. I light it with my trusty Zippo lighter and marvel, as I always do, that after all that has transpired and all that it has endured it continues to light without the benefit of replenishment. My Zippo is as metaphorical of me as the Highway is of Endworld, but more on that later. I place the candle near enough to me so that I can see what I am writing but not near enough to risk the destruction of these last, precious pieces of yellowing paper that I managed to liberate from what must have been the old office supply cabinet in the warehouse.

I glance inside my backpack again and take inventory of my supplies. They are almost depleted. Soon it will be time for me to move on but before I can I must tell you my story, regardless of the likely pain that doing so will cause me. Perhaps when I am gone—and trust me when I tell you that one day soon I will be gone—perhaps when I am gone you can read it, study it… hell, maybe you can even learn something from it. What you do with it is up to you. For the time being, however? I write the following account not to heal the ills of a sick and twisted world: A world of lush forests at dusk grown cold by the emergence of chrome and steel. A world in which a concept like hope is extinct, drowned as all things once youthful and optimistic by the rivers of blood that flow down the distant, eight-lane, asphalt super Highway.

Ever onward, William, a familiar female voice coos in my mind, ever, ever after. I close my eyes against the tightening that embraces my chest and my midsection and I sigh.

No, friends. I write the following account to heal myself.

I won’t begin my tale in the traditional way because as someone wise once told me, the phrase “once upon a time” generally signifies a happy ending. I think that it would be better to begin with…

🙂