Saturday, November 29, 2008


6 weeks of hotel living. It's getting to me big time. Now I know why Jack Nicholson went nuts up there at The Overlook. All that's missin' here are a few corpses, several feet of snow & a creepy maze. "REDRUM - REDRUM - REDRUM" - Where's my axe?

Lotsa folks would probably say whaddya complainin' about? You have a nice suite in a Chicago suburb - Your wife (she's with me) doesn't have to cook or clean & you can go out for dinner every night & have whatever you want. Yeah - great & I'm gettin' fat as a cow.

I need to get home - real soon. I keep clicking my heels together & muttering "THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME" - but it ain't workin'. When I'm home, I eat the right food - less beef, more seafood. I get more exercise. There are always things to do around the house - I can hike through town - ride my bike on the beach - wear shorts & flip flops - swim - STAY TAN. I gotta hurry home so I can build up me 'musckles' - like this guy.

Then there's being cooped up when it's cold n' windy - which is almost every day up here. Writing in a hotel suite is nearly impossible. Forgot to pack the muse I suppose. Heck - I can barely post stuff on the blog. So that leaves TV. I despise TV. But it's worse than that! It's 'chick flicks' aaagggghhhhh!!!! I've seen more of Matthew McConaughy than his own mother. I even bought "The Notebook" & sat through that! But.... being away from home has been tough on Deb too, so I have to cut her some slack, 'specially with the TV & DVD thing. I don't wanna be one of these.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lighthouses & Special "Guests"

We're huge fans of lighthouses. This lamp is a replica of the one in Cape May New Jersey. It sits on a table in the sitting room off the master bedroom.

This picture hangs in our bedroom. It's from one of our favorite places - Cape Henlopen. That was "our beach" when we had our weekend/summer house in Delaware.

If you look closely - there's a ferry boat in the background. It travels across the mouth of Delaware Bay from lighthouse to lighthouse - Lewes Delaware to Cape May New Jersey. We used to hang out on our boat Laffin' Gaff, just out of the travel lane & eat lunch & watch them roll past. We had a visit one day from Homeland Security guys in a Coast Guard cutter. Guess we were suspicious looking characters. They were 'just checkin' on us. After the tough guy start - they were pretty cool.

There's even one here in Chicago.

Here's my favorite - This is in St Augustine. The picture was taken at dusk. Looks like a great place for vampires to hang out.

No matter where you go, St Augustine's LH is on the horizon. This pic was taken from Laffin' Gaff. We have tons of pictures from all angles - but don't want to go crazy posting 'em all.

This picture is included in my soon to be available book, BAD LATITUDE. You'll find it at the start of Chapter 9 Dead Girls.

This is the lightkeeper's house. We've never ever taken a picture there at night without something strange showing up in either the foreground or backgound. I guess you have to expect that from a haunted lighthouse. I can't say for sure if that "stuff" in the picture is a ghost, but it wasn't something added after the fact.

It's only 219 steps to the top of the spiraling iron staircase. No construction workers were killed when the St Augustine Lighthouse was built - but 2 of the construction superintendent's daughters were. I let my imagination run wild with that bit of history when I wrote BL. So what do you get when you mix 4 teenagers, an empty lighthouse at night with 2 dead girls & their long deceased over-protective father? Hmmmm....

I have visited lighthouses from Maine to Florida & I'm always amazed at how they're built & wonder what strange tales & secrets are hidden away in each one's history. It had to be a lonely & difficult life for the keepers & their families back in the day when they had to carry fuel to the top to keep the lights burning. Not a job I would want to do, well, not for very long anyway. I also wonder how many ships were saved from wrecking along the coastline because of their hard work & dedication?

There was a show on TV (Discovery Channel?) about our haunted lighthouse. The 'paranormal experts' were pretty freaked out. Wouldn't it be cool to spend the night alone in one - especially during a storm? Especially if it really was haunted?

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Back Cover Copy

So you sit down one day & start writing an adventure story for kids. The 1st draft flows along pretty well - just get the thoughts down. Create the characters & give them personalities. Keep the pace up-tempo. Expand this - cut that. Put it away & let it ferment for a bit. Do the homework about the publishing process.

Start re-writing. Tearing it apart. Slap yourself silly wondering "What's up with THAT?" Revise - Revise - Revise. Make sure you're not loaded up with similes or structure problems. Check continuity. Move portions from one part of the story to another. Put it away & let it ferment for a bit. More homework.

Start editing. Check punctuation. Format. Change words around. (There always seems to be a slightly better way to get a point across. A better way to say it.) Line by line - 9, 10, 27 times. You practically know it all by heart. Is it funny enough? Is it scary enough? OK so it's fiction but is it realistic enough? Put it away & let it ferment for a bit. More homework.

Begin editing again. Make final decisions - who are you sending it to. By now the "book" has been read aloud at least 15 times - looking for that odd word or awkward phrase. Getting anxious & frustrated. Another project is already underway & you NEED to put more time in on it. One last time - put it aside to ferment.

Final tweak. Explain the book in 40 words or less - amazingly, it gets the OK. Final tweak then the really this time final tweak & THEN - Write the "hook" - It's the only chance for creating the 2nd impression (after the cover). Can you consolidate the 67,000 words that you've agonized over into .... 250 & make it interesting without giving away too much or turning it into a blatant sales pitch? Write it & change it 20 times. One last look. 4 more changes. The potential reader will look at the cover - if that gets 'im, the book will be flipped over to scan the description on the back. Will they get past the 1st line? The 2nd? The 3rd - before putting it back on the shelf & moving on?

So here it is - The "Hook" for BAD LATITUDE - A Jack Rackham Adventure. You're a kid now. Would you even THINK about opening the book at this point?

The seaside town of St. Augustine is haunted. Everyone knows that.

For fifteen-year-old Jack, a descendant of the notorious pirate Calico Jack, it was supposed to be a relaxing summer of great surfing, exploring the Ancient City and adventures on his very own boat, Bad Latitude. His discovery of a three hundred year old diary changed all of that.

When the secrets of the old book are unraveled, Jack enlists the help of his best friend Kai, and together, they begin the dangerous search for the hidden fortune buried beneath the abandoned burial grounds of Rattlesnake Island. Digging under the light of the full moon, the boys are unaware that a terrifying menace lies hidden in the darkness, determined to prevent their escape. Supernatural guardians of the island are clawing and dragging their way through the snake-infested marsh grass, surrounding the pair, working to create a deadly ambush, while offshore lurks a mysterious ship, shrouded in an eerie green fog, flying the flag of the long dead Calico Jack Rackham.

Before daybreak, Jack and Kai will face a desperate struggle for survival, ultimately choosing between unimaginable wealth and friendship. Will they put their own lives on the line to save one another from the evil that stalks their every move, or will the promise of great riches lead to tragedy and despair?

I left off the author info - nothing interesting there. It's just about me, I'm nobody special, & it's very brief.

Thoughts anyone?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Strange Maine: Review: Dirt by Mark LaFlamme

This is a great review of a terrific book. It also looks like a pretty good blogspot. Both are worth checking out - since both delve into the creepy stuff.

Hope I'm not sounding like a cheerleader - it was the corpse in the Mustang that got me hooked on this wild tale - that & the fact Laflamme can actually write. Maybe I can also relate a bit because I had a Mustang when I was a kid. No corpse. I knew something was missing when I bought that car. It could have been so much cooler ...

Strange Maine: Review: Dirt by Mark LaFlamme

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mission of Nombres de Dios

Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away - I think we're just going to stay in Chicago rather than fight through the airport nonsense. We'll see.

Everyone thinks the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving up there in chilly New England in 1620. Well, that might not be true.

On September 18th, 1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded St Augustine on the very site where these photos were taken. On the same date, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales held the first mass on American (then Spanish) soil & soon after a Thanksgiving celebration was held in a combined fellowship with members of the Timacua tribe. That in itself must have been a sight. The local natives were very tall, averaging 7 feet or better. The Spaniards were short - Pedro Menendez was the tallest of the settlers at only 4 feet 11 inches.

The cross was erected in 1965 to acknowledge the 400 year history of the old town. They say that since it was erected - a hurricane has never made a direct hit on the area. Hopefully that continues to hold true.

Here's an inside view of the chapel that sits in the middle of the grounds. It's surrounded by old graves & monuments.

It's open every day & many of the locals visit to say prayers. Had to wait a while to get a picture when it was empty.

This is one of the old graves. Looks like a mason needs to do some repair work soon.

Did I mention the cross is made of bronze??? You can see if from a great distance from anywhere near the coastline, harbor or bridges. So that's the nickle tour of Mission de Nombres de Dios. It's one of many pretty cool places to visit in My Town.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Long Trip North (& South)

What a week. We're still in Chicago. I flew home to Florida on Friday night & returned here yesterday (Saturday). Had to take care of a few things. Fortunately - this trip was faster than the first ride up. Gettin' to lake Michigan from St Augustine ain't easy. Some places aren't very deep & we had to tilt the engines up & row.

Here's a picture of me at the helm on the way north a few weeks ago. Didn't even stop at any gas stations to ask directions.

Yes - it's true. We decided to bring our boat.

Had a nice view of Chicago's skyline on the way in.

So we're all docked up here at the Navy Pier.

What a week for daylight savings to arrive. It's exhausting - makes me delusional.