Friday, March 29, 2013

Time to Unplug

Pressure at the pool table

We made the plans back in September, eager to escape with the entire family, which for us is already a major undertaking.  Still, we picked a cabin in Pigeon Forge, received everyone’s thumbs up, and then booked it.  We were set.  Well, except for the packing and the twelve hour drive, that is.  Still, in our minds we were there.

When I travel anywhere I usually take three bags just for my writing.  It doesn’t matter that it might only be an overnight trip or that I won’t ever get a chance to open just one notebook.  I always want to be prepared just in case I do get the chance.  Of course, not everything fits in the bags, so I wrap the rest around me while we are traveling, even if I am the one driving.  The girls say I’ve made myself a cocoon that acts as a security blanket.  They are probably right.  I haven’t gone totally digital, so I like having it all with me wherever I go.  You should see our shopping trips.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Perfect Day

One of the many blogs I enjoy is Molly Greene: Writer.  You’ll find her listed on the right of The Mess under the blogs I read and I highly recommend you check her out.  She is truly a help and inspiration to other writers.  She’s also working hard to reach her dreams and her Perfect Day.  With that in mind, she has challenged the rest of us to consider ours and to write about it.  When she first issued the challenge I was already buried under an avalanche of WIPs, so I wrote it under “If Time Permits” and assumed it was never going to happen.

However, after our family vacation up in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee where we rented a cabin for the weekend, I was once again reminded of my dreams and Molly’s blog.  With twelve hours in a car ahead of me as we headed home, I decided it was time to revisit her challenge.  So, what you are about to read is a day in the life of Futuristic Robbie Cox, and one day it will be a reality.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Uncle Ronnie and Dad

You won’t find it in a dictionary anywhere, but it is a word.  At least, it’s a word in our family.  It is derived from my uncle Ronnie, because … well, let me explain.

It’s been several years.  Fifteen or so as a matter of fact, but it’s one of those family stories that are always shared throughout the years.  My parents and my uncle were traveling up to the Mobile area of Alabama, driving through the night.  Ronnie was asleep in the back, mom zonked out in the passenger seat and Dad stuck with the ten hour drive.  Mom hates driving and my uncle never learned how.  That left my father behind the wheel the entire journey.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Prelude to Major Messing

Messing in the Mountians

The adventure begins at midnight.  If I wasn’t so worried about the kids driving through the night, it would begin as soon as the last one got off of work and spruced themselves up.  Don’t need to be trapped in a car for twelve hours with a smelly, sweaty person who just got off duty.  I’d leave now and it doesn’t matter that our cabin isn’t technically ready until 3pm tomorrow.  I’d find something to keep this group busy until then.  I’m just ready to get on the road and get going.

The idea for the trip came about last October.  I’m not even sure how it was brought forth, except I wanted a family trip.  Teri’s family has always done a giant family reunion and while there are certain relatives I wouldn’t want to spend a weekend with, I love the idea of family getting together and enjoying each other.  A reunion isn’t like visiting family at other times.  No, it’s about celebrating the generations and history that runs through your blood.  That appeals to me, so I tossed the idea out that we should try it with the kids this year.  Never ones to pass up a vacation, the girls jumped on it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Random Acts of Intimacy

I know some of you read that title and immediately assumed that this post was about spontaneous sex.  I even know who some of you are who are thinking it.  However, while that is a rather titillating activity (sorry couldn’t resist), it is not the intimacy to which I am referring.  Sorry.

No, I am talking about those spontaneous moments when you see your partner sitting there engrossed in a movie or a book - perhaps Reaping the Harvest - and you can’t help but reach out and touch them.  Of course, they jump and scream because they weren’t expecting it and you just scared their last beverage out of them.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Strawberry Messing

Plant City is Florida’s big strawberry area.  One of these days I’ll take the girls there for the festival they hold.  “Always go to the source,” my dad would say, which is always great wisdom.  Of course, that means I’d have to figure out where Plant City is and I suck at geography about as much as I suck at math.  Don’t tell the 8-year old that, however, because I’m the one that helps her with her homework.  So, until I get directions to the source of the fresh strawberries, we’ll have to settle for the local strawberry festival near our community college.

The Habitat for Humanity sponsors the event in our town and this year they did an amazing job.  We didn’t arrive until noon and the place was packed.  I never realized so many people had a taste for strawberries.  We stayed for five hours and would have stayed longer, except at five they closed up shop.  I wasn’t really sure of the reason behind this as with Daylight Savings there was still three hours of light left, but then again, I don’t understand Daylight Savings Time, either.  All it does is mess with my sense of time and throw my internal clock out of whack.  I’m sure they would have made quite a bit more moolah, but who am I to question the powers-that-be?

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Prison Without Bars by Taylor Fulks

I’ve said it before and I firmly believe there is a special place in Hell for those who harm children.  This is something I feel strongly about and I’m not even satisfied seeing the offenders tossed in jail.  They had altered a life forever and theirs should be forfeit in their place.  Harsh? I really don’t think so.  I can have sympathy for quite a few things, forgiving and forgetting, but harming a child is not one of them.  I would even go so far as to say their fate should be devised by the writers of horror.  There just isn’t any excuse I deem credible.

I am not one prone to pick up a book about tragedy or subject matter that makes me squeamish, but when I came across Taylor Fulks’ novel, My Prison Without Bars, based on true life events, I had to see how this lady was made into the bubbly person I had gotten to know.  She is not just a survivor, for sometimes survivors are mopey and pessimistic.  No, Taylor is a thriver and I wanted to discover how she broke out of her jail.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Book That Starts It All

Passing the time during a hurricane.

While writing a guest post for Between the Lines, a great blog by writer Sherry Rentschler, aka @poetphoenix on Twitter, I was looking back on when books finally caught my attention.  For me, it was during Algebra class in ninth grade when a friend handed me Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson.  At first, it was merely a vehicle to help me escape having to learn something I was positive I was never going to need.  However, as I hid the book inside my textbook, Mr. Donaldson’s characters gripped me and I couldn’t put in down.  It became more than a distraction.  It was total infatuation with the genre and his characters.  Within a couple of weeks I had read all six books in the series and was hungering for more. 

Since the adventures of Thomas Covenant, White Gold Wielder and Leper sparked my imagination, I have been an avid reader who would rather enjoy the characters on the page than the people in the real world at times.  From that moment on, there has always been a novel within reach wherever I could be found.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lessons Learned

Reaping the Harvest and my free short story, Circle ofJustice, is out on Smashwords.  If I uploaded everything correctly, then it’ll be available on Amazon, as well, and by the end of the week Create Space will be promoting hard copies on demand, for those like me who want a physical version and not just the digital.  That would be my parents, as well, who will want to put the book on their mantle for all to see that their son wasn’t a bum, after all.

It’s been a fun and exciting journey since I picked up Reaping in its short story version and decided to make it my first published novella.  It’s also been a great learning experience.  I’ve written for magazines before, but always while working one or two other “real” jobs.  Over a year ago the girls began the attempt to bring me out of the 9 to 5 workplace and into my writer’s den full time.  I wasn’t eager to make the jump, not wanting to abandon the steady, predictable cash flow I was bringing in for the unknown.  What I did agree to, however, was to slowly cut back on my work week and build up to it.  This would allow us to adjust our budget a little at a time to get acclimated to the lower income.  Hopefully, it doesn’t remain lower for long.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dead Man Walking

It’s the phrase used for the person heading for the final punishment, the death sentence. They’ve had their last supper, said their peace and a priest is now following him, ready to administer Last Rites.  His life is reduced to just a few more breaths.  All he can see is the end.  He’s already dead - except for the act of dying, that is.  A technicality that will soon be rectified unless that red phone rings with the Hail Mary miracle that spares him.  It doesn’t happen often.

You would think that this final march only happens on death row.  That’s not the case.  Actually, if you thought about it you probably saw a couple of  Dead Men Walking today.  You might even know one.  It might just be you.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What’s Next? Losing Faith

One of my views for writing.

I know, I know.  You read yesterday’s post and thought A Confused Life was my next book out.  It is.  I didn’t lie or change my mind.  However, Losing Faith will be my next novel whereas A Confused Life is a collection of essays.  As some of you have seen me talking about Losing Faith on Twitter and Facebook, sharing some of the prose on these social media sites, I figured perhaps it was time to give you the scoop on what the Greer couple is up to and what you can anticipate.  I’m nice like that.  Sometimes.

Losing Faith is the first in an erotic series based on the relationships and life of Faith Greer and her husband, Selby.  While the story deals with sexual issues and emotional bonds, it also has family drama intertwined.  Faith’s mother, Valerie, is a bitch and her younger sister is a spoiled brat even at twenty-eight.  The Greers are quite happy with their lifestyle and adventures, but there are some who just hate to see other people having a good time and successful.  That would be Faith’s family.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What’s Next? A Confused Life

Reaping the Harvest is done!  Outside of promoting it, praying people buy it and some are nice enough to review it, there’s nothing creative left to do with it.  The sequel, the Lore Master, has been started, but won’t be the next project to see print.  So, what is next?

If you’ve been reading The Mess for any length of time - and shame on you if you haven’t - then you have come to realize that I blog about several things.  There is my self-abasement side where I reveal my awkwardness at life as well as how dysfunctional of a male I can be at times, such as in the post, The Season of My Ignorance.  There is also my snippy side where I poke fun at either other people or businesses.  For an example check out It’s In the Service.  Furthermore, there’s the more serious and philosophical posts that consider the inhabitants of planet Earth and go “What the Hell?”  Check out Emotional Vampires for an idea.  Finally, there are my inspirational posts where I truly wish to help people reach for their dreams and improve their lives, such as in Achievers of Dreams.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Reaping the Harvest

I’m nervous as hell.  My friend, Stephanie Neighbour, compared it to a new dad in a waiting room.  It’s exactly like that.  I’m trying to focus on other projects, but honestly, my mind is a fluttering mess just like my stomach.  This is my first work of this size to be sent out into a fickle world.  Circle ofJustice, a dramatic short story, went out last year.  I was nervous then.  I’m a nervous wreck now.  I’d chew my fingernails, but they’re already gone.

Reaping the Harvest is the first in my Warrior of the Way series.  It wasn’t until I wrote Reaping the Harvest that I even knew I was going to write a fantasy series based on Rhychard Bartlett and the Guardian Sword.  Actually, Reaping was originally titled Warrior of the Way and was a 4,800 word short story.  I wrote it in a week, stuffed it in a manila folder, and left it at the bottom of my desk.  Forgotten.