Monday, December 30, 2013

The Messy Truth

This change is good, as well
Change is good.  It keeps us from growing stagnant and pushes us forward.  It keeps things alive and fresh.  In a world of stale ideas we need alive and fresh.  It is with the thought of change in my mind that my musings of late have centered.  I was ready to change things up a bit, shake the tree some and see what fell out.  The Mess is doing great and the readership has more than doubled over the past year.  I thank all of you who have kept coming back to read what has filtered from my brain to the typed page and hope that you continue to do so.

As we took a look back last week, this week we look forward.  Most people make resolutions that they will break before February, because, well, that’s what we do.  We determine to make goals because we want change, but then decide it’s too much work and fall back on bad habits.  Last year it was my Get Fit goal that bit the dust.  However, this year is going to be different.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking Back

2013 is almost over.  Everyone is making resolutions that they will break before January and planning out the coming year.  The girls and I have already planned our five big trips and filled in the dates of 2014 with as much information as we had on hand.  Dates are reserved and some goals have been set.

However, I prefer to use these final days as a time to look back on the past year and see where I was at the beginning and how far I’ve traveled since that first sip of champagne ushering in the New Year.  The journey through life is the most important thing and it pays to reminisce on the path walked so far.  Consider it a progress check or a self evaluation.  What goals did you meet?  Where did you drop the ball?  What have you achieved that you set out to accomplish?  It’s a time for introspection before moving forward and reevaluating your goals and dreams.  Did you grow any?   Learn anything new?  Did you ever find those keys you lost?

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Use of the Like Button

To be honest, when people press the LIKE button on Facebook, it sometimes confuses me.  I’m not talking about pages for authors, movies, musicians, or inappropriate jokes.  Those I can comprehend.  However, sometimes, I have to sit back and wonder what people were really thinking when they placed their cursor over that little blue LIKE word and clicked..  I’ll give you an example.

Facebook status update from someone on my newsfeed: “Not feeling well today.  Couldn’t sleep all night as I was coughing and felt like puking my guts out all over my butterfly sheets.”
And then someone clicks LIKE.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hey, I’m Eating Here!

Seat for one
On our way back from Miami, we decided to pop into Boynton Beach and visit some friends we don’t get to see very often.  It wasn’t going to be a long visit as we were on a time schedule in order to get back for the 9 year-old, but we figured lunch would be a perfect time to get together.  We don’t have a Sweet Tomatoes in our town and I enjoy eating there when we can so I picked the lunch spot.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with Sweet Tomatoes, but it’s an all you can eat salad and soup restaurant.  They have a few other things, such as baked potatoes and breads of all kinds and even an ice cream machine.  I don’t know if the fact that you’re eating salad cancels the weight gain of the ice cream or not, but I see it as a just reward for eating a healthy meal.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking you’ve seen pictures of me and I do not look like a salad and soup kind of person.  For the most part you’d be right, but once every few years it isn’t a bad change of pace and makes me look good when I recommend it.  I need all of the help in that category I can get.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tales from an Autistic Childhood: School was a Minefield

While we were in Miami, I had the great privilege of meeting author Jeannie Davide-Rivera.  You might remember me talking about her in my post Reader's Favorite Awards.  She is the lady Teri just had to hug and a talented writer, as well.  She is also an award-winning author (Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed; Growing Up with Undiagnosed Autism), the autism category expert writer for, a writer for Autism Parenting Magazine, The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, and a professional blogger with Asperger’s Syndrome. Growing up with undiagnosed autism, and now raising three ASD children gives her a unique inside look at the world of those living with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Jeannie lives in South Carolina with her husband and four sons.

For more information about life with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome visit her website, (Aspie Writer: Understand Autism from the Inside), follow her on Twitter, or connect on Facebook.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Christmas List

It’s that time of year again.  You know the one; where people are asking you what you want for Christmas and then telling you what they want “just in case you need some ideas.”  The 9 year-old has already written her letter to Santa, even though she refuses to sit on his lap.  I’d be leery as well, I guess, if I knew that in a few weeks that chubby old man was going to be sneaking into my house to leave gifts.  I mean, our parents do warn us about strangers offering gifts, right?  Still, that doesn’t keep her from asking for things.  Lots of things.

The girls and I began to ask the questions this year, as well.  “What do you want for Christmas?”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reader’s Favorite Awards

If you’ve been paying attention to the Mess over the past couple of weeks - and shame on you if you haven’t - then you know a couple of weeks ago the girls and I ventured to the chaotic city of Miami to celebrate with author Taylor Fulks as she accepted her Reader’s Favorite Gold Award. Reader’s Favorite is “the fastest growing book review and award contest site on the internet,” and now thanks to Taylor, I now know about them. To be honest I didn’t before, but that’s because I haven’t done my homework as I should.

Reader’s Favorite was founded by Debra Gaynor, who at one time was a librarian for the public school system as well as universities. She was also a reading coach for young children. Her love for books led her to open her own reviewing company in 2002 which went full time in 2005 and eventually became Reader’s Favorite. As she discovered while coaching children to read, “A good book not only educated children, but made them want to pick up another. This applies to adults as well. The more good books we read, the more good books we want to read.” After attending my first Reader’s Favorite ceremony, I’m glad Debra went for her dream.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Paying to Park

We were in the planning stages of our trip to Miami and searching out hotels. The one where the Reader’s Favorite Awards was to be held was full, so we were doing our best to find one close by and within our budget. There were a few and we had a couple of choices that appealed to us. Having traveled a little bit, we’ve become trained to search the reviews for comments and the listing for the amenities offered. I mean, hey, I require certain luxuries even on the road. I want a coffee pot in my room for starters. Well, scratch that, actually. I no longer care. I’ve grown tired of what hotels pass off for coffee and have decided to take our portable Keurig with us from now on. Still, there are other things, such as the continental breakfast and working ice machines. We also prefer irons and ironing boards in the room without having to travel to the front desk to borrow one. With a couple of selections in mind we were almost set to choose.

Friday, December 6, 2013

That Voice Inside My Head

Happy Friday, my Messy friends.  As you know, I normally do guest posts on Saturday, but when Shirley asked me to be a part of her blog tour, I just couldn't say no.  So settle back with your morning cup and learn more about this great writer and her book.  Be sure to check out her links as well as her book, Our Lady of Victory, and participate in the giveaway at the end of this post.

And thank you, Shirley, for allowing the Mess to be a part of your blog tour.  It was great having you here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hello Robbie. Thank you so much for hosting me on your site. This is the last stop in my blog tour and as they say, the last is always best. I have been sharing a little bit about myself along the stops as a way for my twitter friends to get acquainted with me. Now I will share with your audience what exactly got me motivated to become an author.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Miami Take Two

Something wrong about this...
Our second day in Miami, we woke early to sample their continental breakfast.  If you read my post from last week about the breakfasts found in some hotels, you know we weren’t impressed.  I actually settled for Frosted Flakes and coffee.  Always coffee.

Taylor and Margie had their own agenda that day, so the girls and I decided to go back to Bayside Marketplace and do some shopping and enjoy the view.  It was Saturday, so the traffic wasn’t bad and what had taken us forty-five minutes the day before in almost crawling traffic, now only took us about twenty.  What a difference a day makes, right?

Parking was quick and easy and this time we could see the War on War exhibit without street lamps shining down on it.  We took some pictures of the exhibit, which made even less sense in the daylight, and then hung around a tree, a couple of us literally, and took some more pictures.  We always love photo shoot opportunities.  I’m sure you’ve noticed.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Messing in Miami

Hats for everyone!
We were going to make a weekend out of it.  You know us; we don’t require much convincing to make a getaway out of something, even if it’s only a couple of hours away.  So when author Taylor Fulks invited us to tag along with her to her award ceremony for the Reader’s Favorites down in Miami, the girls and I started looking at what all we could do while we were down there.  Our nights were going to be filled, but that still left the days and if you subtracted the 45 minutes it took to make a five minute trip due to traffic, we still had plenty of time.

The week before I had told the girls what time I wanted to leave Friday in order to be there.  As the time drew closer, I kept edging liftoff time closer and closer and soon it went from noon to eleven and then to how fast can we get out of here.  At one point Char looked at me Thursday night and said, "Do you just want to get in the car and go?"  I almost said yes, but we still had to get the 9 year-old to school that Friday morning.  However, she arrives at school at 7:30, so we could be out of the house by 7:35.  The girls just shook their head and we were scheduled to hit the road at ten that morning. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Let Setting Become a Character

Elaine Calloway
This week the Mess welcomes Elaine Calloway.  Elaine grew up in New Orleans with a love for cemeteries, gothic architecture, and all things paranormal. Her books include themes of the living, the dead, and the eerie-in-between, and are usually set in iconic cities like New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco. Currently, she is writing The Elemental Clan Series, a good vs. evil set of tales involving Elementals and Fallen Angels. She now lives with her family near Atlanta, Georgia, though she misses New Orleans and can still do a Cajun accent upon request! When she’s not writing, she enjoys photography, seeing movies, and spending time with friends. For more information and to connect with Elaine online, visit her website at

This week, Elaine is going to share some of her writing experience with us, so grab your morning coffee and settle in for a great read.  And when you finish, go check out her site and pick up a book.  You'll be glad you did.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Day After

Not bad for going to buy anything
Thanksgiving has come and gone and this morning, as we have for many years, we rose while roosters slept and headed out to face the crowds at the stores for special deals on those Christmas goodies.  Most of the time, we aren’t really looking for Christmas gifts.  We’re just browsing to see what catches our eye or to pick out something for the house.  It’s been a tradition for about twelve years now, only it’s changed some over the past two years.

Last year, Black Friday began to put the squeeze on Thanksgiving.  If you’ve been around, then you remember my rant about it back then with Blacker Thursday.  Some stores opened at 8 p.m. last year in order to get the drop on the competition.  We refused to play along and for the first time in twelve years skipped the whole Black Friday experience.  To be honest, the whole reason we started it was to get those small Mickey Mouse snow globes that J.C. Penny’s passes out to the first few customers and they didn’t do it last year, so we slept in.  This year, however, it was worse.  Not only did more and more stores jump on the Thanksgiving-Is-A-Shopping-Day bandwagon, some even opened as early as 6 a.m. and stayed open all day.   The pressure was on and now employees as well as parents with long gift lists were skipping part of the day with their family to wait in long lines and deal with angry consumers fighting over some overly priced gadget that now could be slashed down in price.  We refused again this year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Drove in Miami and Survived

Bumper to Bumper and not moving
I hate driving.  I’ve done it for more than twenty-five years as either a pizza delivery driver or as a newspaper carrier and supervisor.  More than fifteen hours a day at times, I was behind the wheel dealing with the idiots who must have bribed or threatened the DMV for a license.  Once I went to writing full time, it was great relief that I hung up my keys for the most part.

And then we started traveling.

Now, I don’t mind long-distance driving.  It’s actually quite relaxing.  You get on a highway, set the cruise control and enjoy the scenery.  This year alone the girls and I have taken at least six or seven trips and we have a minimum of five already scheduled for 2014.  This past weekend we were in Miami to help fellow author, Taylor Fulks, celebrate winning the Reader’s Favorite Gold Award.  The drive down wasn’t bad, at all.  Driving once there, however, was an entirely different matter.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Continental Breakfast

This wasn't our hotel. I just had the picture
One of the few things I look for in a hotel when I am browsing for a place to hang my hat on the road, outside of free parking - that’s another blog post coming - is the continental breakfast.  I like to be able to walk down with my Grandpa Munster morning hair, eyes still foggy with sleep, and fix me a small plate of food and a mug of coffee.  Actually, I like the coffee to be in the room with me so it can be fixed as soon as I wake, but that’s just to get me down to the coffee waiting at the breakfast.  In case you are unaware, a continental breakfast consists of coffee or tea and light pastries and a roll.  Way too light of a breakfast for me.

This breakfast is also self-serve, usually set up in a buffet style.  Hey, they fixed this free food; don’t expect them to hand it to you, as well.  Be grateful that it’s hot.  Usually there is one poor lady trying to keep up with the demand for food by reheating more of it in a tiny room and bringing it steaming hot out to the counters.  She’s been up since an ungodly hour and is now having to deal with hotel guests who haven’t completely woken up, yet.  And she isn’t being tipped.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Weight Watchers Needs Rollover Points

It said, "Get off!"
It’s that time of year again.  You know the one, where everyone is looking at the holidays and the pies, cookies, cakes, and candy and thinking their buttons are already on the verge of being dangerous projectiles.  It’s hit our house as well.  More to the point, it’s hit me.

Since becoming a fulltime writer my get up and go has turned into sit down and type and as a result, my 12 pack abs have turned into a case working their way slowly toward a keg.  In order to deflate my growing flotation device, the girls have put me back on Weight Watchers and the fun has been taken out of food once again.  We tried this about four years ago and truth be told it worked fairly well.  It wasn’t fun, but it worked, and then like a mental patient who thinks he’s doing great and can skip his meds, I tossed the diet when I should have been tossing a healthy salad.  Of course, that’s better than tossing my cookies, which is another post about a party we’ll talk about later.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Exhausting Fan

Not this fan
I’ve never been one who was overly impressed with celebrities.  I don’t go crazy with wanting to meet them and I refuse to wait in long lines just to say hi to someone who won’t remember I was ever there.  They are people just as we are people.  They may make millions of more dollars than we do, but I blame that on our skewed perception of what is really important in society today and not on them.  They wouldn’t be able to make that much money if we didn’t enable them to and I can’t blame them for making every dime they can while they can.

However, while I do not crave their attention, I do follow a few on Twitter.  If I am into a television show, I will usually tend to follow some of the actors who are on that show not to see what they are doing, but rather for the neat little trivia they sometimes tweet about their shows.  So far, the cast of NCIS has been the most fun to watch in my Twitter stream as Michael Weatherly, Sean Murray, Brain Dietzen and Pauley Perrette are constantly tweeting about little known facts and engaging each other in a contest of tweets.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Way and the Void

Most organized bodies, such as governments, religions, businesses, clubs, and even families, have lists of Dos and Don’ts.  It doesn’t matter what they’re called - rules, laws, commandments - they are lists of behavior that society believes people need to follow in order for everyone to coexist in peace and harmony.  They are lists that deal with actions.

Rhychard Bartlett, Warrior of the Way, is thrown out of one belief system and dragged, kicking and screaming, into another, one that has left him a little confused as to what is truly right and wrong.  There is no list, no Ten Commandments, because the Way and the Void is all about motives, not actions.  It is not so much what you do as to why you do it that now matters.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pictures in a Digital Age

One of too many Oops shots
When the boys were younger, we would buy them those disposable cameras to take on field trips and vacations.  It was the safest method for their picture taking considering how often they forgot where they put things.  However, when I went to have the film developed quite often I had wished that they had lost the camera.  There were shots of the car ceiling, the floorboard, the back of a seat, toys taking naps, and some things I just could not recognize.  There blurry shots and dark shots and too bright shots and shot after shot of a tree, usually the same tree.

Still, there were funny moments found in their cameras, such as the photo shoot taking place in the back seat where Chris pretended he was one of the Power Rangers and Zac took several shots for posterity. There were cute poses of them sleeping and several of the family pets, pictures I would have never known about or probably taken that I’m glad I have now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You Will Be Born Again

A storage of oddities 
The soul was rotting, facing a fiery eternity in the bottom of a three door file cabinet, drowning in the sin of bad grammar and poor plot points.  It needed to be reborn, given new life so that it might not suffer the fatal eternity that was awaiting it.  It desperately needed the gospel of revision to save its poor, pathetic soul.

A few weeks back, I rediscovered a stack of old stories and articles.  They were in sad shape.  Suffice it to say, my writing has improved in the thirty years since I first picked up a pen.  Some of the stories weren’t even finished, dropped after a few chapters because I either gave up or became distracted by another storyline that had gripped my attention.  They were abandoned to manila folders that faded over time on paper that turned yellow with the years hidden in my desk drawer.  The ideas were not fleshed out; they weren’t even thought completely out.  Back then I grew excited about an idea and started writing.  No background.  No idea where I was going.  Just a thought, a glimpse of an idea, and I was absorbed in a story that sometimes had no ending.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day, a Day to Say Thank You

Chad at Al Anbar, Iraq.
November Eleventh, a day set aside to say thank you and to recognize those who have served in our military forces to stand between us and those who would do us harm. Originally called Armistice Day in 1919 by President Wilson, the commemoration began with the words "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" It was a day to be filled with parades and commemoration speeches thanking those who served in the previous years and the previous wars, starting with World War 1. On May 13, 1938 it became a legal holiday.

Businesses, banks, the federal government, schools, many places will close down today in observance of our heroes in uniform. With the government it won’t make much difference, but we may feel it in other areas. I’ll be taking the 9 year-old to play putt putt golf today because her school is closed to celebrate. The girls, however, will be working, because, well, not everyone can observe it with time off. Profit before anything else.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Ronald S. Opatich

Happy Saturday, my Messy friends  Today I have the privilege of having Ronald S. Opatich visiting with us today.  We met on Twitter through a mutual friend and it's been a pleasure getting to know him and I know you're going to enjoy it as well.  I'll allow him to tell you about himself.

My name is Ronald S. Opatich who happens to have parents who are both deaf.  I was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio and started out working in one of the steel mills dotted throughout the Youngstown/ Warren, Ohio area.

After most of the steel mills closed in 1980, I was fortunate enough because of my sign language skills to begin a new career as a professional sign language interpreter in Columbus, Ohio.  I have been in the field of deafness and/or in the interpreting profession for 33 years now and have been blessed to have a career that has changed people’s lives or made them better.  It has been very fulfilling indeed.

In addition to my profession, I have a passion for travel, photography and writing about my experiences.  Hence I created a new travel blog, ( to satisfy all three!
Currently I am a video relay sign language interpreter for Sorenson Communications in Portland, OR.

Friday, November 8, 2013

No Shave November

Chad once he was out of the Marines
I had heard of it, but I assumed it was just something Chad, Zac, and Nathaniel came up with to make themselves look like cavemen and to drive us crazy.  I never dreamed it was an actual event with sponsors until I Googled it just for kicks.  I know that sounds perverted, but I’m not the one who named Google.  Blame them.

I came up with a couple of creators for this hair gone wild month.  One began as Movember where men allowed their mustaches to grow in awareness of prostate cancer or other male health issues.  I’m not sure how growing facial hair was to make me think of a small gland about the size of a walnut between my bladder and my manly parts, but someone put the two together in 2004 and the movement was out the barber’s door.  Now when I compliment someone on their cheesy mustache, I automatically ask how their prostate is doing.   I don’t know if they think I am offering an exam or not, but many just cover their ass with their hands and walk away.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The After School Routine

Waiting in the pickup line
Five days a week, it’s the same thing.  I leave the house at a certain time, carrying a book or some manuscript I’m editing along with my red pen, and head to the 9 year-old’s school to wait in a long line for twenty-five minutes to pick her up and take her home.  I don’t mind waiting.  I’m a writer.  My work goes with me no matter where I am.  It’s great to carry your world with you.  I’ve sat in the mall as the girls had their nails done, outside a restaurant as we waited to be seated, and outside of someone’s work waiting for their escape.  I’ve become accustomed to making the most of my time.  Waiting for the 9 year-old to get out of school is no different.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Eye of the Beholder

The Water Garden at the Harn Museum of Art
On our last trip to Gainesville to visit the college kids, they wanted to take us to a couple of the museums because they knew we enjoyed that type of stuff.  And it’s true.  Gardens, museums, art galleries, I enjoy walking through them and pretending I know what I’m looking at.  They wanted me to take an Art Appreciation class one time, but I don’t think you need to take a class to appreciate art, just to understand why some people call certain things art to begin with and not others.  I exasperated our children’s friend, Amanda, the most, because she was trying hard to get me to understand what I was looking at.

“It’s a representation of man’s anguish in a world that progresses past the point of comprehension in industrialized America and the depression that sets in and envelopes the soul.”

Friday, November 1, 2013

An Attitude of Gratitude

These are the ones I am most thankful for
Last month, a good friend, Stephanie Neighbour or, challenged her readers to make some positive challenges in their life.  It was a 30-day challenge if I remember correctly and, always eager to try something I new, I decided to change my socks and boxers to see what happened.  It was a refreshing feeling and I now plan on doing it monthly.

However, it also made me think of the 30-day challenge concept as a good way of making valuable changes in one’s life or in the lives of those around us.  As I look at the world right now, it seems that there is quite a bit of negativity and complaining going on.  I’m not saying that it isn’t justified, but it seems to be the prevailing theme in society these days and it is truly sad because there is so much to be thankful for.  I don’t know about you, but I am quite happy I am not a politician these days, and while I may be disgruntled at how they are not really doing their jobs, at least I am not in a country that is constantly being bombed and where we all have pretty much the same rights and freedoms as our neighbors, not to mention our spouses. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Goes Politically Correct

Why isn't this stereotype being banned?
If you’ve been following me on any of my various social media sites or reading this blog for any length of time, then you are well aware I am not a great believer in being politically correct.  I think it has made sissies out of most people and is used as a get out of jail free card for anything people do not care for.  Bag boys become packaging technicians and trash collectors are now waste management officials.  We are made to be afraid of offending anyone in anyway because, well, people are sensitive and we might hurt their self-esteem.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Citizen’s Arrest!

Don't you hate to see those lights behind you?
In an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, Deputy Barney Fife winds up giving Gomer Pyle a ticket for making a u-turn.  Gomer, of course, tries to justify his action, but Barney won’t hear it.  The ticket is given.

However, as soon as Barney hops into his squad car, he then makes a u-turn himself and Gomer runs after him screaming, “Citizen’s Arrest!  Citizen’s Arrest!”  Barney stops and tries to explain that his squad car is a real emergency vehicle.  Then Gomer points out the rub in Barney’s logic.  He wasn’t on an emergency call.  Sheriff Andy Taylor makes Barney write himself a ticket and the chaos ensues from there as well as the laughter.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Mess Welcomes J. H. Bográn

Happy Saturday, my Mess-y friends.  This week we welcome J. H. Bográn, another of my fellow authors I had the privilege of meeting on Twitter..  He was born and raised in Honduras and is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the Short Fiction Writers Guild and the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and contributor editor their official e-zine The Big Thrill.

He is also the author of Firefall. Here is a brief description:
The problem with being reborn from the ashes is, you have to die first.
New York City firefighter, Sebastian Martin, seeks sanctuary in spiraling alcoholic oblivion following the loss of his wife and child in an air crash. Consumed by rage and resentment, directed against his brother and uncle, he takes a last-ditch job in Dallas, Texas, investigating insurance fraud.

Friday, October 25, 2013

If Life Were Like My Twitter Feed

I think he lives up there
Life can be so complicated at times.  People can be even more complicated.  As a matter of fact, I think it is because people are complicated that life becomes that way.  Okay, perhaps complicated is not the right term.  Idiots, morons, douche bags, jack asses, all of these are probably better terms.  However, for the sake of the politically correct, I will refrain from using those and stick with the all-encompassing complicated.  People are just obnoxious and sometimes life would be simpler without them.  The obnoxious ones, that is.  It would be easier and more peaceful if people were like my Twitter feed.

Currently, I have 8595 people following me on Twitter.  I don’t say that to brag because to be honest I doubt most of them even know why they are following me other than someone saw my name and clicked Follow.  I say this merely to point out the diversity of people whose 140 character tweets I see streaming through the scrolling newsfeed. 

And I do mean diverse.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Barhopping with the Kids

 I know, it probably doesn’t sound like a good parenting thing to do, but that’s what they wanted to do, so that’s what they did.  Heather and Chris, with a couple of their friends in tow, met us at our Hotel-from-Hell to escort us to Downtown Gainesville for a night of hitting the bars for cheap drinks and as many laughs as we could squeeze into the night.

“We need to eat first,” Teri told Heather.  “Is there a place Downtown to grab a bite to eat?”

Heather gave her mother a blank stare.  “Um, not really.  I mean, there’s bar food, but not what you would call a real meal.”

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Bates Motel?

Char, Chris, Heather, & Sarah at the festival
We had planned an overnight trip to Gainesville to visit our two college kids.  At first, it was just a day trip, but I decided that we might as well make the three hour trip the night before and just get a room at a cheap hotel that way we could spend more time on Saturday with the kids.  It was last minute, and yes, there was a game that weekend, but I was sure we could find something without spending an arm or a leg.  Usually I don’t mind too much what we spend on a hotel as I want a good experience and a clean room.  Of course, after our last stay at Best Western in Orlando, I had grown even pickier and more demanding.  This trip, however, was about the kids and we weren’t planning on being in the room longer than a nap, so I told Teri to just find us a cheap one.

She found one; although cheap was still $110 and change.  It was called the Americas Best Value Inn and the condition of the hotel was about the same as our government right now.  The reviews, Teri said, had all been modest.  “It was clean.”

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Inspiring Teens Blog Hop with Debra Smith

Greetings, my Mess-y friends.  This Saturday, I am happy to be participating in the Inspiring Teens Blog Hop, organized by Greta Burroughs and Vickie Johnstone, and bringing to you another great author, Debra J. Smith, author of Secrets Beyond Scymaria.  Debra will be answering some questions about reading, writing, and her books, which you will be to win a copy of through the Rafflecopter at the end of the post.  Make sure you enter for your chance to win.

So settle back with your morning coffee and enjoy Debra's interview.  Feel free to leave her comments and questions at the end.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Quiet Place

A quiet writing spot
One of the main rules of writing I have often heard is that one must find that quiet nook away from a busy household that will enable you to write without distraction.  Yet, I have always prided myself on being able to write anywhere and at anytime.  I have written in cars and on planes, during rock concerts and lengthy sermons.  The noise level that surrounds me has never been an obstacle to putting thoughts down on paper.  I have always been able to tune out the noises surrounding me as I tune out the children when they ask for money.  However, it is true that nothing really compares to the serene places of solitude where imagination is your only distraction.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meet the Characters of Daydream's Daughter, Nightmare's Friend

This morning, we bypass the normal Mess to give Nonnie Jules, author of The Good Mommies' Guide to Raising (Almost) Perfect Daughters, a chance to share her characters with us of her new book soon to be out.  I know you'll enjoy the opportunity to meet some new people and getting to know more about another writer.  Be sure to check out both books and Nonnie's website.  You won't be disappointed.

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Hello all and thanks for having me here at THE MESS!  My name is NONNIE JULES and yes, Robbie has had me over before promoting my first published piece, "THE GOOD MOMMIES' GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS", 100 Tips On Raising Daughters Everyone Can't Help But Love! (now in ebook or paperback format. You may view the trailer on YouTube)  but this time I'm promoting a NEW book, a novel called DAYDREAM'S DAUGHTER, NIGHTMARE'S FRIEND.  This is the third release date that this book has had, but I can assure you, it's the last.  Mark your calendars for October 31st, (yes, Halloween) as THE final release date.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Peace in the Ritual

Every morning I can be found in the same spot.  It’s usually after my first taxi run where I’m taking the girls to work, but I’ll be there before 7:30 on most days.  With my mug of coffee and a cigar, I can be found perched in my little nook on the back porch working on some current storyline or catching up on yesterday’s news.  It’s my little ritual and without it, my day somehow feels slightly off.

It’s those little idiosyncrasies that make us unique, those little habits or needs that we all have that help us function and remain balanced.  Everyone has them, especially writers.  Those who don’t understand may see these superstitious rituals as meaningless, not finding a logical point to them.  Yet, we know their importance, the depth of peace that they fill us with that allows us to put pen to paper and create from within.

Writers have all kinds of rituals and behaviors to help release the muse.  Most deal with time, place or behavior in order to promote a sense of control that reduces writer’s block while unlocking the freedom of imagination.  Sometimes it’s all about what happens in the beginning as we sit down to write.  We surround ourselves with prompts to help get us out of the gate and into the story.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Theodore Webb

Meet Theodore Webb
This week at the Mess I am happy to have Theodore Webb, a poet, novelist, short story writer and playwright.  Mr. Webb is a co-founding member of Morgantown Poets, a monthly literary arts event serving the literary arts community in north-central West Virginia. He has composed numerous poems, including "America in Dreams," published by Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel and “Star Bus,” selected for Mountain Line’s 2010 “Poetry on the Move” program to feature poetry with Morgantown's public transportation.

Webb is the author of the dystopian fiction novels, "Lifeline,” “Crucible,” “Colossus” and “Inferno,” the first four books in “The STARLING Series," available for Kindle on (Note: All four books are available as one volume, titled, "The STARLING Connection.") His short stories are also available online, including "Desperate Engine" on Amazon and "Family Hour" available in various formats on

To find Webb's books easily, type "Theodore Webb The STARLING Connection" into's search.  You can also join him by giving him a  "Like" Facebook: him on Twitter: Theodore Webb @STARLINGCONNECTor visit his author's blog:

But for now, grab that morning cup of coffee and sit back as Theodore shares with us this morning.

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Thanks Robbie Cox for welcoming me to The Mess. I LOVE Robbie's blog! I fully agree with Robbie on the idea of "authors helping authors." I do the same on

Moreover, I'm glad to see the "Bloggers against Bullies" button/link to the group's Facebook page on The Mess. I'm thankful for the efforts of Robbie and others to fight bullying. If you haven't done this already, be sure you read Robbie's Aug. 12 post on The Mess, titled "Bloggers against Bullies." Great work Robbie and Stephanie Neighbour. Thank you.

Robbie, Stephanie and supporters, I share your mission to fight bullying. Through writing, I strive to build consciousness within myself and, through sharing my creative work, with others.

In this spirit, I'll share an excerpt from the dedication of my dystopian fiction series, "The STARLING Connection."

"This series is dedicated to all those who have been ignored, cast out, ostracized, harassed or beaten; especially, to all those who have been attacked, exploited, abused and/or murdered. The STARLING Connection is for all who have risked everything in the search for their deepest selves, who pay the full price of true friendship, love, understanding and compassion for others."
"The STARLING Series" examines bullying on all levels of society, from top to bottom, to build a deeper understanding of the issue.

"STARLING" shares the story of 15-year-old high school freshman Simon Laramie. Through Simon's voice, we learn what life is like in the near future.

"Silver-metallic aircraft with sleek lines that look like spaceships fly over us several times a day. Every town is assigned at least one, the cities have several. Everyone calls them 'The Drones.'"

Simon explains that in the so-called "U.S.A." of 2045, everyone is completely "connected" via a massive system, SUPERNET. Everyone's constantly watched via electronic devices, radio frequency identification (R.F.I.D.) chips implanted into everyone's bodies, and drones.

Officials claim these draconian measures "provide perfect peace and security." However, as we soon learn, it is in fact the system itself, enabled by powerful new technologies, that represents the utmost violence.

Simon initially has high hopes when he enters high school, but quickly finds himself attacked by a gang of ruthless genetically-engineered bullies.

"We just call them G’s in school. I’ve heard G’s are designed from birth to compete at the top professional national level, sport-wise. Pretty wild, huh? I’ve heard people say that to compete at that level, G’s must be designed to be way more aggressive and violent than regular people."

Simon survives the bullies' attack, thanks to a hard-charging, rebellious and brilliant senior named Jaya Ceyes.

Jaya introduces Simon to Flower Wildwind and Peter Arnold. Together, the teens embark on a mission to break the SUPERNET by starting their own independent website. STARLING allows everyone to share their voices without being censored.

But giving STARLING life is only the beginning of the challenges facing the teens.

I wrote the "STARLING Series" to prove Love is Greater than Fear and Freedom more Real than False Promises of "Perfect Security." My deepest goal is for the "STARLING Series" to share love, friendship and hope with those fighting to survive, to let you know you are not alone.

The "STARLING Series" is available digitally on The e-book can be read on any smartphone, tablet, PC and MAC via free Kindle reading apps:

Here's the Amazon link for the "STARLING Series." Share this on your Facebook page and Twitter!

"The STARLING Connection" by Theodore Webb

Thanks again Robbie for welcoming me to your blog. Keep up the great work!

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Thanks, Theodore, for joining us here at the Mess.  I appreciate your efforts as well in taking a stand against bullies and look forward to checking out your Starling series.  I am sure several of our readers will as well.  Come back and join us anytime.  I also love the hat!

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Did you enjoy what you read?  Leave me a comment and then join me at The Mess that Is Me on Facebook!

Other posts you might enjoy ~ The Mess Welcomes Roxanne Lowery 
                                             The Mess Welcomes Eileen Granfors 
                                             The Mess Welcomes B.J. Sheldon 

Thanks for visiting The Mess! Keep chasing your dreams!

Friday, October 11, 2013

As Iron Sharpens Iron

The best group of friends
It’s my favorite proverb, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  It’s also what I use as a plumb line in forming any relationship that I put myself into.  I always want to improve, to be a better husband, father, friend, writer; to be a better man.  One of the greatest ways to do that is by surrounding myself with people who are going to encourage me to press forward instead of pulling me backwards.  Therefore, I look for certain character traits in people I want close to me.

First is integrity.  I want honest, trustworthy people who will encourage me in the standards I have set for myself and our family.  I don’t want people who are bad mouthing others or sowing discord.   I prefer people who bring a positive aspect to life, always faithful.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It’s in the Supports

As I was driving down the road the other day, I passed a new office building that had just been landscaped.  The sod was still in those visible squares waiting for the time that Nature would quilt them into one lush green blanket of grass and the shrubs were tiny little bushes in freshly upturned earth.  There were also a few trees planted in hope of one day providing shade as well as beauty.

The trees were still quite young, but already they were taller than my six-foot frame.  Yet, in order for them to grow tall and straight, their roots needed time to dig deep and take hold of the earth.  The landscapers knew this, of course, and therefore took three six foot two-by-fours and placed them around the tree as supports holding the tree steady.  Even with one of the east coast’s violent summer storms that tree would be held in place and allowed to stretch toward the skies, reaching its full potential.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Diaper Philosophy

When the boys were little it was decided that Mommy would be the one to change their diapers.  Now, before anyone goes all ultra feminist on me thinking that I’m some male chauvinist leaving the shitty work to the wife, it was a decision Char made after I attempted to change my first diaper.  It was at that moment she decided cleaning one mess was easier than cleaning two.  I have a very weak stomach; sue me.

You may think I am joking, but I assure I am not.  While babysitting one child who had the guts to go in his diaper when no one else was around, it literally took me twenty minutes to change his diaper.  I strapped him to the changing table and then had to take several deep breaths to gain the courage to loosen one of the straps holding the explosion in place.  It took another several deep breaths before I could go and peel the tape back on the other side.  They really should provide gas masks in nurseries for volunteers.  Or hazmat suits.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Kenneth Kerr

Kenneth Kerr
Happy Saturday my Mess-y friends.  This week we welcome Kenneth Kerr, first time author and avid Duplicate Bridge player, from Hilton Head, Island, South Carolina.  Retired now, Kenneth is a fulltime writer with his first book, Life of a Double Agent, available for you enjoyment.  Kenneth and I met via Twitter as seems to be my theme as of late.  Its been an awesome venue to meet great writers and make some interesting friendships.  Kenneth also has a blog, Life of a Double Agent, and a web site under the same name. Make sure you pop over and check them both out.

Before turning it over, I just wanted to say thanks to Kenneth for joining us here at the Mess.  It's always a pleasure to get to know my friends better and I welcome the chance to visit with him.

Now, grab that morning java and settle in for a great visit with Kenneth.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Surfers for Autism

“My cousin, Lisa, is going to be close by and wanted to know if we wanted to meet up,” Sarah said with a look of eagerness.  Like the rest of us, Sarah’s family lived in other parts of the U.S. and visits were rare.  Of course, then I found out she had actually only met Lisa three other times in their lives, so her eagerness for a visit was even more understandable.  

“What do you mean by close?”  This is a logical question because close could mean the neighboring town or across the state.

“They will be on vacation in Orlando for a couple of days, but Saturday they’ll be at Ponce Inlet.  They’re taking her son to a Surfers for Autism event there and we could go and say hello.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

He’s Your Son

“Today, he’s your son,” she said, her arms crossed and eyes wide.

Zac when he got his new truck
“Wait.  Why am I being punished?”  This seemed totally unfair.  I’m also not permitted to ever use it on her.  I had tried it once before, but all I received was denial.  “Nope, he’s not my son.  My son wouldn’t act like that.  He’d know better.”  Apparently, my son is the ignorant one.  So I had to ask, “What did my son do this time?”

“Because he’s acting just like you.  He’s your son.”    I have noticed that when she says he is acting just like me, it’s never meant as a compliment.  Obviously, his bad traits came from my genes, such as drinking directly from the milk carton and poor aim in the bathroom.  Of course, when he does the dishes or decides to dress nicely without being forced to, he’s suddenly Mommy’s Precious Boy.  It’s a total gender bias where the mother gets the good child and the delinquent goes to the father by default, as if nothing good came from the male side of the family.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Are You Pinning?

It seems as if every time I turn around I am being asked if I am a part of another social media site.  At first, it was MySpace, which I am not even sure really exists today, even though I get emails from it now and then.  Then there came Facebook and Twitter and they were followed by LinkedIn, the business market social media site where you can post resumes, links, and make business connections.  It is supposed to be more professional, but I haven’t ventured into the deep end, yet.  To be honest Twitter and Facebook still confuse me somewhat, but at least I can spy on my children that way and keep up with what is happening in their lives.

Of course, those weren’t enough.  Next I was asked about Pinterest, which I will admit to calling Pin-Interest for awhile, and then I was told that I really needed to be on Goodreads.  It was the site where readers can connect with writers and review books and be nosey about what everyone else is reading or wants to read.  I know as much about Goodreads as I do about LinkedIn, which means I have an account but that is about it.  However, I hopped onto Pinterest full speed and can get lost in the pages of fantastic pictures that abound.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Joseph Wilcox

This week we are welcoming Joseph Wilcox to the Mess and we are happy to have him.  I'm going to allow Joseph to introduce himself to you but I wanted to thank him first for being with us today.  I know you'll enjoy his post and will definitely want to visit him at his blog, Where Is King's Road.  Furthermore, while your clicking on links, makes sure to visit his wife's page and gallery, Bovey Lee,for some inspiration.

Now, grab that morning cup of java and let's share our morning with Joe.

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My name is Joseph David Wilcox and I write the blog, Where Is King’s Road? I’ve published two non-fiction books and am currently working on my first novel (which has me pinned against the ropes and behind on all the judges’ scorecards. Looks like I’ll need a knock out to win).

I live in Pittsburgh and moved here in 2000 with my wife and artist, Bovey Lee. The same snow storm blew us into New York in 1996 and we’ve been together ever since.

I grew up in Kentucky and Bovey emigrated to the US from Hong Kong. Many people are curious about our inter-racial relationship, so I  mainly blog about us, how we meld our distinct cultural and geographical backgrounds. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Going Paperless

Piles of paper
Going paperless.  It sounds as if I am being noble and jumping on the Go Green bandwagon, but sadly, that’s not the case.  Not that I have anything against being green or trying to help nature endure and saving resources and all of that other “do it for the environment” hoopla.  I recycle and I try to conserve water and energy, unless, of course, I’m super hot and then that air conditioning is being cranked on high, electric bill be damned.  It’s always based on my comfort level, as well.  To the rest living here I merely encourage them to buck it up, they didn’t have air conditioning a century ago and people survived.

No, what I mean about going paperless is in connection with my writing.  If you’ve been reading The Mess for any length of time, then you know that I write everything out with pen and paper before committing it to the keyboard and virtual memory.  Computers crash and my trusty notebooks never have, which is why they are my trusty notebooks.  The laptop I am using now has frozen up on me twice this week and almost locked me out, which caused me to move my writing back to a flash drive for storage.  Technology and I get along about as well as I do with cars and we all know that isn’t very well. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Four Course Wine Tasting

“If you’re going to do something, never do it half-ass” is our motto.  Do it big and do it with style.  Late into the year last year, we decided to hold a wine tasting once a month, not that we knew anything about wine, mind you.  Nor were we looking for another excuse to drink.  Trust me, I don’t need an excuse and if I did, the fact that I woke up that morning would be excuse enough.

No, we did it in the hopes of learning something new.  We wanted to know how to tell one wine from another, what wines go best with what foods, and, of course, we wanted to collect corks for crafts.  Teri took it on herself to study and she led most of the wine tastings.  We had several of our friends join us and how it usually went was Teri would pick an area or a type of wine and everyone would bring a bottle or two of varying wineries and some finger food.  Even when sampling wine, it’s best not to do it on an empty tummy.  Besides, once the sampling was over, then the guzzling….um, drinking…could begin.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Clothing Isn’t Optional

I think this is plenty of clothing for awhile
I hate buying clothes.  There are so many other things I would rather be tortured with, instead, like cleaning the garbage cans, doing my taxes, and listening to screaming kids.  There are also a million other things I would rather spend my money on, such as more writing supplies and books.  Always books. 

It’s not that I don’t like new clothes, because I do.  I just hate shopping for them.  It’s a hassle that sucks up hours away from my pen.  However, invariably, the girls will grow weary of looking at my Angry Bird boxers where jean material should be and I will be hauled off to replenish my failing wardrobe, kicking and screaming.  It happened just this past weekend; half a Saturday spent wandering around in stores picking out pants that I prayed would fit.

They didn’t. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Vanessa Wright

Vanessa Wright
This Saturday, the Mess welcomes Vanessa Wright, a 46 year-old visual artist and homebody who suddenly decided to pick up her writing again and couldn't stop.  I think you'll be glad she did.  She has been published in two anthologies, My kort vir jou sop as well as Write for Life.  She is currently in the process of self-publishing a short story book, Twisted, and is putting the finishing touches on her crime thriller, Artifacts.  You can see a story board for the upcoming novel on her Pinterst board in order to see how it is going.

Vanessa and I found each other via Twitter.  However, you can also find her on Facebook as well as Pinterest.  And make sure you check out her blog, Humoring the Dark, in order to enjoy a variety of her short stories.  Be sure to click those links and keep up with what Vanessa is doing.

Today, she will be sharing a bit of her writing life with us as well as an excerpt of her short story, A Flabbergasted Skipping, so sit back with your morning coffee and enjoy!

Friday, September 20, 2013

We Should Have Passed on John’s Pass

A relaxing morning
It’s nice, when on a trip, to have time to just enjoy where you are staying.  Saturday morning was that day for us.  Breakfast was prepared as a few of us slept in a little, taking our time to wake and enjoy another day in Redington Beach.  The view over the Gulf was calm and peaceful and I sat on the balcony enjoying the quiet start to the day.  There was no rush to get ready, no darting around to prepare for another adventure.  Our journey that morning was no further than the condo pool.

After we ate and donned our bathing suits, we all grabbed books, music and drinks and made it down the four flights to the pool area.  They had a tiki hut covering with chaise lounge chairs underneath, ready for us to kick back and relax.

And we did.