Saturday, July 12, 2008


Hey Gang-

For now, I'm not going to be posting on Blogger or Live Journal. Catch me on Myspace or Xanga for now, okay?

Nothing personal. I just find them easier to modify.

Thanks for readin'!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Attention Big Brother Fans! This season has started.... (to fizzle out before it even began!)

Is it just me or is anyone else already bored by this season's cast, just two boring episodes in? There are some interesting characters to say the least, but the "twists" and what not have been pretty much the same stuff done bass ackwards from years past.

Anyway, who cares what I think? (And if that's true, why am I writing this blog? Ah well... )

Here are my takes on this season's housemates and their estimated chances of winning. Keep in mind I'm never right on the ultimate winner. I'm sure I'll be just as wrong this year as I have been in seasons past but oh well. At least, once you read my blog, you'll know who not to bet on when you go to Las Vegas next week.

Let's start with Kail. This week's Head of Household. She's already proven herself to be a liar. Ironic, mind you, that they introduced her by showing a clip where she stuffs a BIBLE into her bag, as if she couldn't live without it. Not once have they shown her reading it on TV and she is engaging in underhanded tactics that would make Jun and Alyson sit down and take notes. Plus she's not being forthright about who she is. She was boasting in her tape about how they practically owned the town. She thinks she'd get voted out if they knew she didn't need the money. She's right. She's one of the people who give truly religious folks a bad rap. I hope that she doesn't win. Personally, I don't think she will. She's formed an interesting alliance but I see it crumbling without some very powerful players that are not currently taking part in it. But I'll get to that. Eddie's Odds of KAIL winning: 28 to 1 (which is to say if everybody else got eliminated twice and she got voted back in after being eliminated herself maybe she'd win... otherwise, she'll be gone before August gets here.)

Next we have Amber, the single mom who is reportedly also taking care of several other family members. In my eyes, this makes her probably the most worthy candidate to win, but since when has the most worthy won? And to be fair, this isn't about charity or morality or what have you. It's about the ability to play the game. I do see her getting past this week, just because she's a relatively easy pawn and her "sob story" will win her some sympathy votes. Then when she's served her purpose, she'll be booted. Eddie's Odds of Amber winning: 12 to 1. A long shot, but not out of the running by any means.

Carol is the other nominee this week. And in a surprise twist, she's a former rival to houseguest Jessica (whom I'll get to in a minute.) I see Carol as very down to earth for a person her age. However, she's not crafty enough to form an effective alliance. She's going to try to get by on her looks and on the fact that she might be willing to make out for votes. (Not saying she would....saying she might.) That'll get her a few votes, as Alyson Irwin proved in seasons past, but it won't win the game. (Didn't work for Alyson did it? She placed second, not first.) Personally, she adds nothing to the game for me. She's going to be a floater. She'll be useful, as Amber would be. But I think she has less of a sob story. She's a sorority chick trying to make it on Daddy's Money. Boot her out and let the sob story continue a while. Not sure if Big Brother wants their summer ruined so fast by booting out one of the rivalries so quickly, but I think it should happen, just to make MY summer better so I'm sayin she'll be gone this week. Eddie's Odds of Carol Winning? 50 to 1.

What can I say about Daniele? She's cute, seems to be sweet, and she's very insecure about the fact she's not yet 21. Yanno, big brother could get in serious trouble if they allow an underage person to drink alcohol so I hope they'll take note of that. But this isn't about her drinking habits. It's about her chances. Personally, I think they're very good. With Daddy Dick in the house (even if they haven't spoke in a while) I believe him when I say he'll die before letting Daniele get voted out. Whether or not she'll reciprocate, I can't say. But again it's not about her morals. It's about her game playing ability. She's already proven she can turn on the sympathy waterworks. "Poor Little Me and My weird Daddy who just wants to be my friend, seeing as how I'm a grown woman now and don't need to be told what to do and he's willing to recognize that and just try to be your friend instead of trying to be all controlling and treat me like I'm 5 years old or something... boo hoo! I'm so mistreated!" You're sweet, kid. But you annoy me. Eddie's Odds of Daniele Winning: 6 to 1

Now for Daddy Dick...or Evil Dick as he prefers to be called. He's the oldest cast member in the house. His best shot for an ally is a daughter he hadn't spoken to in two or three years before entering the house. And his name dropping is getting old after just two episodes. Daniele is right. The boy needs to dial it down a bit. We get it. You're a tattooed, pierced freak who is currently experiencing a midlife crisis and a quest for approval from a much younger and more hip crowd. Now sit down, Edgar Old Guy, and let the kids have the bubblewrap for a while. You're going to be late for work! I seriously don't see him as a viable winner in this. Daniele is the key and I see her using him to get further in the game but his love for his daughter will ultimately be his undoing. Here's the question though. If his daughter is the ultimate winner, how will he feel if he winds up just being a pawn in her scheme? Will he still cry the tears and talk about how much he loves her? I don't know, but he'll be sitting outside the Big Brother house soon enough, so maybe I can ask him then. Eddie's Odds of Dick Winning: 13 to 1.

Dustin. Honestly I know very little about Dustin. I can't make a clear impression of him. As of this writing, he's a virtual mystery to me. He seems to be quite the cool player, but there is something a bit untrustworthy about him. Perhaps it's just his willingness to play the game. But in the rivalry with ex-boyfriend, Joe, Dustin gets the sympathy edge from me. (Again, I'll go into that later.) For that reason alone, I'll give him decent odds. Eddie's odds of Dustin Winning: 10 to 1

Eric! Yanno, nobody ever told me that Jim's Dad (from American Pie) had an affair with Adam Sandler!! Who knew!??? America's Player hmmm? Ehhh... boring. And Eric really doesn't make me laugh. I guess you have to be locked in an Alice-In-Wonderland-themed house to get the jokes. Either way, he's comic relief and is not perceived as much of a threat right now. That could buy him some time much like Robert was bought some time the year that Jun won. He wasn't perceived as a threat. He very well could have been, but for a twist of fate and (ultimately) his own lack of mental fortitude. Eric has a sense of humor and that's about it. Being 5'7, he's perceived as the least physical threat by the women. If he can buddy up with the girls, he's got a better shot, but I don't see it happening. For now, though, the fraternity of six foot steroid freaks will keep him around as their Big Brother version of Peter Pettigrew (Harry Potter reference for those of you who don't read.) After that, he's out and America's Player will be no more. Eddie's Odds of Eric Winning: Same as Eric "Cappy" from the previous season. Next to none...But I'll grant him numbers and say 16 to 1.

Jameka. I'm going to speak bluntly here, so don't get offended. I'm going to reveal an immutable truth about Jameka. She's this season's token black chick. She's a way of keeping the NAACP or whatever off of CBS's back, plain and simple. If it were not true, there'd be at least one other person of color in the house somewhere, as there have been in seasons past. She's a quota filler, nothing more. She's a floater and she'll be used to the benefit of other players. She has no one with whom she can truly align. Her best shot is to choose one of the gay guys and hope they'll watch each other's back. But that will only get her so far. And she'll be gone. I hate that this is true and I'm not saying it's excusable. I'm not saying it's justified. I'm not saying it's right in any way. But I am saying it's an obvious truth and anyone who can't face up to this simple fact is truly an ignorant racist. There are no asians in this year's contest. No one who would appear to be Indian or of Muslim faith. Just because Jen has a decent tan doesn't make her an ethnic minority. Jameka is alone in the house and soon she'll be outside the house. Right or wrong, it will happen just the same. And you can say you read it here first. Eddie's Odds of Jameka Winning: 100 to 1.

Jen. She cried over a PHOTOGRAPH! Are you kidding me? And then taped something over it so that the world couldn't see it? Honey, you're not that good looking! My Lord! Second, if she's that worried about your looks, my advice to anyone watching is get a degree in plastic surgery now, because 10 years from now, when things start to go south on ol' Jenny Girl, you're going to have one seriously frequent client on your hands! Looks fade, pud'n. What lasts is your heart and your mind. And judging by what I've seen so far, neither of yours is developed much above the level of an Alyson Irwin. But T&A got Alyson all the way to number 2 in her season. Of course, that same tactic got her booted rather quickly in All-stars but I digress. I don't think Jen can parlay big boobs and obsessive vanity into Big Brother Cash. She's got a better shot than some with those assets, but those assets won't get her the prize. In my opinion, she doesn't have enough brains. That'll be her undoing. Eddie's Odds of Jen Winning: 14 to 1.

Jessica. This girl just annoys me. That might be because I've only ever known two girls named Jessica that weren't complete and utter lying skank hoes, but I am not sure. She's like Holly and Janelle rolled into one. No brains and totally oblivious to the fact that her conceit makes her ten times uglier than any other woman in the house. I think she's got a few brains, just as Janelle proved to have, but I think it'll only get her so far. Ultimately she's not Big Brother winning material. And besides, with her "buddy" gone, why keep her around? There's no controversy. She's just a vote. Her only safety net is to promise her vote somewhere. That'll buy her some time, but she'll be gone eventually. Why? Because she annoys me. And eventually she'll annoy everyone else. But then I said the same thing about Janelle and she dang near won twice! Still, I think she'll be gone eventually. Eddie's Odds of Jessica Winning: 30 to 1

Joe. I hate to say it but he's not exactly a long shot to win. I don't think he'll win but he has a decent chance. It's just going to depend on which gay guy can convince the house he's the lesser of two evils. And let's face it. Joe came in with the "Original Eleven." If they see his attitude going from Jovial Joe to JackMonkey Joe, they'll probably diagnose Dustin as the problem and drop him like a bad habit. And there's very little anyone can do about that. Still, he really strikes me as an evil little prick. And to be honest, he reminds me of Marcellas, only far more feminine and much more of a liar and a whiner. If it was me, I'd kick him out in the first week, but it's not me and the people in the house never have my same way of thinking. So unfortunately I have to put up with him for a while. Lucky for me, he won't be around forever. He'll just be around a few more weeks than I'd be comfortable with. Eddie's Odds of Joe Winning: 6 to 1

Mike. Probably the best chance for a win here is Mike. Right now, no one knows that much about him. He's not approaching anyone for an alliance but he's being approached left and right. He's smart. He's letting others come to him. As weeks unfold here, I think we'll see Mike as almost a "Dr. Will" type. Crafty. Just hanging back. Remember, Dr. Will never won an HOH or POV yet he won season 2 and nearly won BB All-stars. I think this same strategy will serve Mike. Eddie's Odds of Mike Winning: 3 to 1

Nick. A former NFL player? For who? I don't recall him. Yanno, trying out for the team doesn't mean you were a former player. Anyone know what team he played for and if he did more than just shower with the guys at a practice? Anyway, he doesn't stand out for me as much more than a steroid freak. He'll ride coat tails. He'll serve folks in contests due to his physical prowess, but he's just the Big Brother mule. Doing the grunt work for those who don't want to have to do it themselves. He won't win, but the ultimate winne could wind up owing Nick for their success. Eddie's Odds of Nick Winning: 5 to 1

Zach. No doubt, he's this season's attempt at Howie Gordon. So far, I'm not entertained. And I don't think we have a "Busto" in this season, but maybe Kail could surprise me. Either way, I don't think he'll quite reach the level of humor and comic offensiveness by the playful Howie Gordon. And I don't really see him as much more than a second fiddle to the ultimate champ. Sort of like the "Four Horsemen" Alliance from seasons past. He'll ride the coat tails of others but he doesn't have the ability to truly be a leader. Maybe I'm wrong. It's early in the season. That's for sure. But coming up with this season's "Jack Shack" doesn't give me a sense of confidence about his intelligence. Eddie's Odds of Zach Winning: 12 to 1.

So there you have it. MIKE will be your ultimate winner. So will this be the first time in Big Brother history that two folks with the same name won it? Last year, Mike "Boogie" Malin won Big Brother All-Stars. Will another Mike take Big Brother season 8??? I guess you'll have to tune in for the next 3 months to find out, won't you? But in the meantime feel free to leave me your thoughts!

Till next time, this blog is brought to you by the letters W, E and H and by the number 2

Friday, June 22, 2007

So much going on these days.

I haven't been keeping up with what I consider to be a regular blogging schedule. Things have been very chaotic lately and I have to apologize for those of you who enjoy reading my occasional pointless ramblings.

First, the unimportant stuff. I'm on a mission (as many of you know) to get all of the state quarters. The program itself runs through 2008 with 5 coins being released each year. It's one of the hobbies (or whatever you'd like to call it) my son and I share. He has his map and I have mine. He's always asking me "Dad, what's the latest quarter that's out?" and of course I'm expected to know the answer at the drop of a hat. When you have 10,000 things on your mind, it's not always easy to keep the schedule straight in your head, but I do try because it's one of the few times my son has shown interest in something other than Gameboy and Legos. (Not that those are bad things. I'm just trying to expand his horizons a little. He's actually quite the little builder with his legos. Like father like son I believe.) Currently, we are both missing Washington (state) and Idaho. But in fairness, the US Mint's website does not officially have Idaho listed as being released. I just know that the schedule falls in such a way that the new coin is typically released in early to mid-June, so I know it's in circulation. Either way, we still don't have Washington and that one has been out since late March or early April.

We also want to start the presidential coins. If you haven't seen them, you should go to The program is similar to the state quarters program, but they will be releasing 4 coins annually with the images of former presidents on them. And for those that are wondering, 2012 will see the release of TWO Grover Cleveland coins. This is being done because he was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms in office. One coin will be issued for each of his two non-consecutive terms. (1885-1889 and 1893-1897 respectively. Benjamin Harrison served from 1889 to 1893.) Oddly, the program will feature presidents all the way through Gerald Ford (President number 38) but will not feature Ronald Reagan, despite the fact he has passed on. This is being done, I believe, because Jimmy Carter -- who served between Ford and Reagan -- is still living. Should Jimmy Carter die prior to 2016, it's likely that the Carter and Reagan coins will be issued. Likewise, should G.H.W. Bush die prior to 2017, his image will likely be the first to be featured in that year, followed by Bill Clinton and G.W. Bush, should he pass on prior to 2017. As Clinton and Bush Jr. are pretty young fellas, it's likely the program could stop (or take a very long pause) with Bush Sr.

While you're on the USMINT's website, be sure and check out the First Lady coins. They are calling it the "First Spouse" program, on the off chance that Hillary Clinton gets elected president in 2008. After all, Bill wouldn't make a very good First Lady now would he? Personally, I just pray it's not an omen of things to come. If Hillary gets elected president, I swear I'm going to consider moving to Canada, or maybe Cuba. Somewhere the leader isn't such a tyrant.

Those of you who are on the "Sister" watch have been very patient with me, as my family is essentially forced to wait for news from doctors who seem more interested in their golf games than in solving the mystery behind my sister's elevated white blood count. I thank you for your continued prayers and your messages of hope and support.

As you've read, if you've been keeping up with my myspace bulletins, we took Little Man to Shreveport this week to have things looked at. He is scheduled to have his surgery on August 15th at 10:00 a.m. in Shreveport. For those who haven't been keeping up, this is to correct a relatively minor case of hypospadias. He's had two surgeries in the past. One at 12 months, one at 18 months. But the problem still exists. We are hoping this will correct the issue once and for all but the truth is you just never know. Again, I've been touched by your well wishes and messages of encouragement. The good news is that he should be bouncing off the walls within a couple of days of the surgery.And he doesn't start back to school until August 27th, so he should heal in plenty of time to begin 4th grade with a new attitude!

On the writing front, I'm disappointed to say there's not much happening. There is a lot in the planning and development stages but I've been rather inundated with personal life issues lately and haven't had much time for actual work toward this goal. Samantha and I have a couple of side projects we're wanting to work on, along with Indiesearchlight. They're local projects which probably won't interest many of you, but they will be very writing-oriented and I do believe they'll keep us both more focused on our individual careers.

To a similar end, I believe I will hear something fairly soon on the manuscript for In The Breath of God's sequel. I have been praying about it very hard (as have several family members and friends) so I'm doing my best to be patient and trust in God's work. It may not be that I've yet discovered the right direction but even Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before he succeeded. And I rather like his attitude when he said something to the effect "I haven't failed. I've merely discovered thousands of ways a light bulb will not work." I like that. To that end, I don't believe I have failed to publish my book. I've merely discovered hundreds of paths that don't lead to publication. That experience will benefit me in the long run because I can teach others to avoid these pitfalls and dead ends. In the meantime, all I can say to the fans of Alex Mendez, et al, is BE PATIENT. I am already working on the next two stories in the series and I know you will be very pleased and excited to read the continuing adventures of the Mendez clan. They get in some pretty hair-raising predicaments along the way. And if you know me, you'll not be surprised to find out they don't come out entirely unscathed. You'll meet some new faces and, possibly, say goodbye to some favorites. But no matter what, I do believe you will be satisfied with the way the story is progressing. I know that I'm excited to see the characters grow and develop. What time I've been able to spend with them in the past several weeks has been refreshing, invigorating and, at times, bittersweet.

Life is not slowing down for me. Quite the contrary, it's gaining momentum, seemingly with every breath I take. Thank God I feel ready for it. It might overwhelm me in the long run, but I am ready to be overwhelmed. I'm ready to take on new challenges and face the fruits of my labor, whatever that may mean.

Until that time, this blog is brought to you by the letters W, E and H and by the number 2

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Life In Review

This weekend, we took a trip to Dallas and visited the Dallas World Aquarium. Little Man is a huge animal freak and, to be honest, I love sea creatures so we were all pretty excited. Kelly and I decided to take him because he'd really worked hard to get his grades up and to pass the TAKS test this year. (The TAKS test is the Texas version of the state standardized testing. In Florida they refer to it as the FCAT. Not sure about other states. But basically it's a general way of evaluating whether or not a student has a grasp on the minimum skills required to go to the next grade -- in this case, fourth grade.)

The weekend was very fun, but very busy. The bad thing about taking a weekend trip somewhere is that you don't get to rest, so you come to work on Monday more tired than you were on Friday. But he deserved the reward and I'd do it again under the same circumstance.

This week, he has Cub Scout Day Camp. He leaves Gilmer at about 7:00 a.m. (his cubmaster drives him to the campsite it Longview) and we finally get him back somewhere along 6:00 I'm guessing. Just in time for dinner, I guess. It's a long day, but a day filled with fun, learning and plenty of physical activity to keep him fit and trim and healthy. He's been in Cub Scouts for a while now. Going into his first year of Webelos scouts. It's a two-year deal that precedes actual Boy Scouts, and boy the requirements are pretty tough for a 9 to 10 year old fella. The funny thing is he'll come away from Day Camp (at the end of this week) nearly 2/3 of the way finished with the requirements for Webelos. Needless to say, they pack quite a lot in this one week. And there are other campouts periodically throughout the year where he could theoretically earn more patches, badges, pins and awards. We'll have to see how that goes.

One of the campouts is called "Dad and Lad." It's basically a campout strictly for fathers and sons (Or grandfathers, uncles, big brothers, cousins...whoever... just a male adult and a scout.) He's been in scouting through the bobcat, wolf and bear years and I can honestly say we've never been to a Dad and Lad. Truth is I don't know that I'd ever feel comfortable taking him. Wheelchairs and outdoors don't mix very well. And, if I'm being totally honest, Eddie and camping doesn't mix very well either. So, because my son has a disabled man for a father, he has to miss out on what could be a fun time. I've thought about asking a friend here or there to step in and "be dad" for a weekend, but I never do. Anymore, most of my friends are busy with their own kids and the ones that aren't are busy with other things, so why bother them with something else, yanno?

As to the writing scene, not much is happening right now. I am going through a refocusing phase right now. With the follow-up to In The Breath of God finished, I am seeking representation/publication while trying to work on the next one in the series. Honestly, I'm finding it a bit difficult, what with the fate of its predecessor still in uncertain limbo. It sounds weird but I just feel strange trying to continue a story that, itself, seems to be on pause. I've submitted the story to Blooming Tree Press. When I spoke to her at the NETWO conference, she truly seemed enthusiastic about the story, so I'm keeping a very upbeat frame of mind as far as that goes. I just wish I'd hear something. This is the tough part about the writing biz. The waiting game. I don't like to put all my eggs in one basket but I've really done that this time. I have had such a strong, positive feeling that (to use a phrase from Texas Hold em Poker) I went "all in". I bet it all on this one shot and if it doesn't pay off, it's back to square one. (A place I'm beginning to find quite familiar, I'm sad to say.)

On Saturday, I caught myself saying to Kelly "I'm just waiting for something to happen." No sooner had I said it, I thought "If you're just waiting, you're not making things happen. And you're not a writer. You're a waiter." So, as I said, I'm in a phase of refocusing my writing career. I'm evaluating past efforts, redefining future goals and, ideally, developing a flexible plan for the ultimate success of those goals. Where this path will take me is anyone's guess. But I'm ready. And this time I'm not waiting for something to happen. I'm looking for a way to make something happen. So if you have any ideas, feel free to share them. I'm a blank slate right now. Paint me, Dear Lord. Paint me with your Heavenly rainbow. Fill this blank canvass with the colors of your choosing. My only request. Warn me before you use pink, okay?

Till next time, this blog is brought to you by the artful letters W, E and H and by the dynamic designs of the number 2.

Friday, May 25, 2007

FINALLY! A blog about WRITING!

Imagine that! A writer blogging on the subject of WRITING! What a NOVEL concept! (get it? Writer... Novel...Okay anyway... moving on)

This is going to be a short blog, mostly because I think the topic has been somewhat "done to death." However, I just can't help but chime in with a thought that's been bugging me for days now.

You've probably heard many "new" writers compared to writers of more fame and renown. ("He's the next John Grisham!" "She's Lisa Gardener made over!")

I often critique the query letters of fellow writers who include the astounding prediction that they are the next Stephen King or the next Dean Koontz or the next (fill in the blank here). I tell them what any industry insider will tell them. Don't be the next anyone. Be the FIRST you. Period.

It is somewhat true that all the basic plots have been done. All a writer can do is bring his or her own spin to a topic that's probably been explored 1000 times. (Case in point? This blog!) You have to bring something fresh to the table. Something that the agents, editors, publishers and (most importantly) reading public haven't seen before. Or at least something they haven't seen in a while. If you're just going to rehash something that James Patterson wrote last year, you're doomed to failure. Number one, James Patterson didn't write that book "last year." Chances are he wrote it 3 to 5 years ago, submitted it to the publisher and it went to press sometime in the ensuing 12 to 24 months. So anything you'd copy from another writer's "last year" is actually several years old. (And most likely being copied by 100 others trying to make their big break).

One of the worst rebukes I ever got from an agent (about 10 years ago or so) was a very simple hand-scrawled note on my cover letter: "It's been done to death."

Of course, in my youthful exuberance, my mind screamed "not by ME!" But in the end, the agent had a point. Even if it hadn't been done "by me," there was nothing new on the page. Nothing fresh. Nothing that would stand out from the crowd to say "look at this!" Did I quit? No, of course not. I kept on writing. (Full disclosure: I did put that manuscript aside, after a couple years of tinkering. As I matured, I just began to think that the time for this story wasn't right. Perhaps someday I will revisit it. For now, it is locked safely away where only I can mourn the story that never was.)

The point of this somewhat rambling diatribe is very simple. Be the first you. If you have to be the "next" something, be the next bestseller. And the only way to do that is to be the FIRST you.

Be original. Find your voice. Find your angle. Find your spin. Find that extra something you can bring to it and give the story a new twist. Frankenstein in a ballerina costume takes the story down an entirely different path!

Till next time, this blog is brought to you by the letters W, E and H and by the number 2.

Friday, May 4, 2007

These Weeks In Review

It's been a wild ride for me over the last couple of weeks. I've been so addled and inundated with work that I haven't had time to sit down and really just write it all down. Having done so just prior to blogging, I must say it's quite odd to think that I packed all these events into basically the last two weeks.

* Those of you who are new to my friends list won't know this, but a couple of weeks ago, I lost a dear family member, Lee Hobbs. He was my grandfather's cousin, so we are distantly related, but we've always been relatively close. He left behind his second wife and two daughters. Not only was he a family member. I have been living in a duplex he owned for the last 4 or 5 years. When I moved back to Texas, Lee was gracious and generous enough to let me live here at a monthly rental rate that is probably 2/3 what he could have gotten from anyone else in today's market. He didn't need the money. He let me live here because I needed a home. His generous spirit will never be forgotten.

* Just days after Lee's passing, my dear friend Julie Cain called me with news that her father had passed away. Andrew Cain was 84 years old. He was a scout master, a church leader and a science teacher to generations of children. To say he was a great man is one of the biggest understatements of the century. He was inventive. He was creative. He was fun. He was interesting. He was inspiring. In the last several years, I'd managed to lose touch with so many folks, as people tend to do over the years. Sadly, I never got a chance to tell Mr. Cain how much I loved and appreciated him. I do hope he knows it now.

*As many of you know (if you read my bulletin this morning) Little Man passed his TAKS test. As I explained, the TAKS test is Texas' version of the state standardized testing system meant to help us compete with the standards set by the national government. Supposedly it means we're just as smart as Japanese kids and what not. I'm not sure if it's necessarily an accurate depiction of that, but I do know that my son is intensely smart, curious and creative and I couldn't be a prouder papa if I tried! WOOT WOOT!

* April 27th and 28th, I attended the writer's conference for the North East Texas Writer's Association (NETWO). The conference was held at Lake Bob Sandlin, specifically at Camp Shiloh. You talk about a beautiful place! If nothing else, two days there got my writer's juices flowing just because of the scenery! But in all honesty the conference itself was tremendous! I got to network with close to 100 of the friendliest and most talented writers I've ever known, including Dusty Richards, Joe Lansdale, Betsey Haynes and Jane Graves, (Who was mortified to learn that she'd named a character after my ex-wife, but it was a hilarious revelation nonetheless! And she did assure me that the character who holds my ex-wife's name goes through hell and back before finally developing a redeeming character for which she is rewarded with a decent life. I figure I can live with that. At least she has to reach rock bottom first.)

The conference also included Editor and Publisher Stacey Barney from Putnam, Miriam Goderich, a New York literary agent and Miriam Hees, a publisher from Austin, Texas. While I did not get a one-on-one with Ms. Barney, I had the honor of hearing her speak and was very much entertained and informed. Mrs. Goderich was gracious enough to offer me a few minutes of her time. She gave me invaluable feedback on my manuscript idea and on the Mendez series in general. Needless to say I left the meeting a much better writer, just having spent time with her. Mrs. Hees agreed to read a sample of my work and had glowing things to say. She told me I really know how to "write a good sentence..." going on to say "That sounds like a strange way for me to start off, but basick good sentence structure is not always easy to find..." Needless to say I could have stopped reading her remarks right there and been just fine! (But I didn't stop there and I gained very valuable advice from her as well.) She suggested a few minor changes. (Agreeing with Mrs. Goderich on some things, disagreeing on others, which just proves the industry is very subjective.) Still, I took all of their advice to heart and have incorporated it into an update to the manuscript. After incorporating the changes Mrs. Hees and Mrs. Goderich suggested, Mrs. Hees actually agreed to pass my manuscript on to her Adult book editor. (Mrs. Hees mostly deals with the children's book side of things, but has a guy that deals more with books geared towards adults.) Of course this doesn't guaranty publication, but it's the most promising thing that's happened to my career in a long time, so I'm pretty stoked. I don't know if I should have let the cat out of the bag before I even sent her the polished manuscript, but I am very excited and I will be excited whether she agrees to publish me or not. The fact is she liked my work enough to agree to pass it on to her associate. That in and of itself tells me I'm worth something. Now if I just had an agent to help me negotiate a good contract! Anyone??? Anyone??? (Insert the sound of crickets here.)

* Grandma continues to improve, but she still doesn't really have all her marbles about her. Honestly I don't know if she ever will. Let's face it. She's 85 years old. She's lived a wonderful -- if hard -- life and has been the rock and the faith-filled matriarch of this Bible Belt, God-loving family for a number of years. Eventually torches have to get passed and others need to step up. I think that's what society has forgotten. In Biblical times, the eldest son(s) stepped up to take over when the father got too old or feeble. Likewise, the eldest daughters or daughters-in-law took over out of respect for an aging mother. Society is so different these days. Nowadays most families are two-income families. They can't function without both Mom and Dad holding down a job. It's not like it was when Grandma and Grandpa were raising kids. Grandpa killed himself, working 16 to 20 hour shifts (so it's rumored) at Lone Star Steel. Likewise, my Uncles Bill and Marion followed their dads into business for a few years, helping bring money into the family. As for Grandma? She stayed home raising my mom and her brother Jerry. (Not sure if Uncle Jerry ever joined the crew at Lone Star Steel. It wouldn't have surprised me though. Seems everybody who grew up out there worked at Lone Star Steel at some point.)

Whatever the case, the fact is that the family survived on one income. My dad's family was much the same. His mom held down an occasional job. I know she was a nurse at one point. But by and large once kids came around, she was a stay-at-home mom. And it worked. They became very well-to-do thanks to the oil boom and the ever-increasing need for pipeline and construction work.

Today, you can't do that. A one-income family (like my cousins Jason and Angie) are such a rarety. It's more the exception than the rule. And so there is no one available to take over the reigns of "Matriarch" for my grandmother. There really isn't anyone with that kind of time anymore.

I thought technology was supposed to make our lives easier. I thought we were supposed to have shorter work days, larger paychecks and be living the Life of Riley. Well if this is the Life of Riley, let me tell you, Riley has a really crappy life!

Maybe it's just me, but it seems we're worse off today than we were 30 or 40 years ago. And if you doubt that, you need look no further than the space program. Forty years ago, we could land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth even if the craft gets struck by lightning during take off (See the Apollo 12 mission) Today, we can't even get a space shuttle off the ground because a hail storm hits south florida three days before launch. 1970's technology was good enough to save me from a doctor's prediction that I'd be dead by age 2. But 2007 technology can't even help me lose 40 or 50 lbs so that I can be healthier and help my son develop his baseball, basketball or football skills.

*Finally, this weekend is my book signing at Hastings in Longview. Samantha Branham (Author of The Tempest's Child) will be joining me in a meet-and-greet for our respective fans. I do look forward to meeting not only my fans but those of Samantha's growing fan base. Book signings are tremendous fun. I highly recommend them to anyone who's ever written a book. It's a great adrenaline rush.

Okay well that's the week(s) that was/were. It's a heck of a disorganized hodge podge of things, but it's pretty much everything that's been going on. My only other thing is American Idol. Phil Stacey shouldn't have gone home this week. He was finally coming into his comfort zone and yet America voted for that no talent Blake Lewis over Phil Stacey. Blake's rendition of the Bon Jovi classic was positiveley sacreligious if you ask me. You could tell in the interview that Jon Bon Jovi didn't like it and in all honesty neither did I!

Till next time, this blog is brought to you by the letters W, E and H and by the number 2

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Thanks and everything

Hi everybody-

I just wanted to make sure I thanked everyone once again for all the continued prayers for my grandmother, mother and all my family during this time.

Grandma continues to have some difficulty with her general cognition. The lights appear to be on, but the times when no one is home seem to be more and more frequent, I'm sad to say. I love her to death, but I do see this as a very bad sign from a woman who has always been a powerful force in the world. Suddenly a woman well known for her strength seems stubbornly unable to admit the weakness overtaking her on so many levels.

It has to be horribly tough on her. She's been the rock that this family leaned on for probably more years than I've been alive. Now to see her mind slowly fading away.... well, it's not something I find easy to watch.

I've always felt so inadequate up against the tremendous faith and strength and courage she has possessed. But it is impossible to express the feeling of helplessness inside me as I observe her slide into inevitable senility.

Is it Alzheimers or dementia? I can't say that with any certainty of course. I'm not a doctor. I hold no degree in neurology or what have you. What I do know is that the grandma I knew 20 or 25 years ago is all but gone. Now there are mere glimmers. Occasional visits from the sharp mind and deep philosophical faith that so powerfully defined her character.

I do not know what will happen. Well, that's not true. She turns 85 on May 9th. I know what's coming eventually. But it's the between time that scares me. It's also the word "eventually" that scares me. Eventually could be 3 minutes after I post this blog or 10 years from now. Eventually could be some indetermanent time frame long after science discovers a way to make people live well into their triple digit years. But then again, as scary as that unknown is, I know one thing with absolute certainty. Not knowing is, indeed 1000 times better than if God were to curse me with the knowledge of the exact moment he had chosen to call my grandmother home.

I might have inherited some of her strength, but I know without a doubt that burdon is one I could not bear.

God bless everyone who continues to pray for this wonderful saint of a woman. You can't ever know exactly how much your prayers mean to me.

Till next time, this blog is brought to you by the letters W, E and H and by the number 2.