Friday, January 30, 2009

The Rackham Estate

Tomorrow will mark one month since BAD LATITUDE A Jack Rackham Adventure became available. In that short period of time, the book managed to make the top ten in sales at Booklocker, it had a nice upward boost on Amazon, & has gotten some cool reviews (which I'll share later). Nine stores are already stocking it and all of the county libraries want to carry it! The locals love the fact that ALL locations are absolutely real. More importantly, the readers have followed up with some terrific questions & really funny comments. I can't say a whole lot without giving away too much.

Surprisingly, many of the questions & comments have been about the first chapter, & specifically, The Rackham Estate. (You can read the Prologue, 1st, & 2nd chapters as a free excerpt if you click on the link on the left hand side of the blog page - just follow from there). Ronnie, up in Georgia, wants to move in! (See blog comments from the other day.) Someone else asked if parts of the story were autobiographical. The answer to that is - yes. I think anyone that writes fiction probably includes something of their own life or personality or both. You may, by now, have also realized that JaxPop (or maybe I should say Jack's Pop) is a pretty busy guy.

So.... what about the Rackham Estate? Is it real? Totally made up? After much debate & after consulting with Deb, who is still on hold with Comcast while she sorts 5600 pictures that I messed up, here's a quick peek into the Rackham world. I'd share the code, but, you know, then I'd hafta have ya whacked.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Did It Come With A Manual???

Does it really take an Einstein to set up a computer, build a website, transfer data without quadruplicating it (sorry Deb - you'll be done in a few months) or add links???? I mean, this is tedious stuff, but then... well, maybe I'm a moron. Ask someone how much to build a website & you always get an hourly rate..... but no cap on the expected time. 'Okay dude - here's my wallet, check book & keys to my lock box at the bank." Well, I decided to make it all easier by upgrading our technology. My computer IQ may not be so great ... but I am the master of ingenious solutions when it comes to cost effective problem solving. Who needs this guy???

So the other day, since Deb's laptop has been dying a slow death, we broke down & bought the latest & greatest supercomputer that money can buy. Well, latest & greatest that I could afford. Got this one at a special going out of business GE sale. Granted, it's not really portable & it is slower than some, & it does put out a tremendous amount of heat, & requires a special raised floor.... but the deal we got.... whoa baby! I negotiated my butt off & got an extra 5% off PLUS free delivery to my .... uh... driveway. I didn't even let that guy talk me into the extended warranty. (Guess he thought he had a 'live' one.) The contractors should be ready by Thursday for the moving company to shove it through that big hole in the back wall.

Okay - I realize it's not wireless...duh!!... but you can download pictures in under 10 minutes, maybe even faster if we add another 200 amp service. It also puts out (I'm told) a very soothing train-like sound. I'm not sure why they recommended adding the vibration pad or the steel attic beams, but, hey, I saved big on this sucka. Uh oh... I'd better end this post, Deb's callin' from the other room. She's been on hold with Comcast since Saturday & might need a glass of water ... or somethin.'

Anyway - Eechyer hearts out you blog following masses (both of you). Turn GREEN with envy. We are ready for real cyberstuff, or whatever you call it!

Nuts I forgot to get a printer....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's This Guy's Fault

I hate bad news - even when it's sorta/kinda bad news. Last night I got the following email from a very good friend. He's the one that convinced me to move to Florida. It's printed word for word below:

I will be returning to my home base in LA. ----- Lower Alabama. I need some down time for the grey matter. I have already been recruited by another firm out here, but I want some time to decompress. Denise and I gave each other a trip to Costa Rica for a month for our 25th annniversary. Soon after I get home, we're off again. It's been a good run here, but it's time to explore something else. --- Like different. I'm considering getting into alternate energy construction, as I haven't done that. Would also make me feel good that I would be helping the planet. California has rubbed off on me. Will definitely keep you posted. May also end up back in St. Aug. Who knows. Just need time to evaluate the future and chill.


In Pennsylvania, we worked as a team for tha same company, building buildings. Our old boss always referred to us as the 'A' team. Our projects were always wildly successful. His house was 10 minutes away from mine. We each had houses at the beach also 10 minutes apart. We're the same age. Poked his head in my office one day & informed me, as I was tied up on the phone, that he was moving to Florida - left me hangin' that time. 2 weeks later he started buggin' me to move down here. The following March, we made the move. Oddly enough, his house is on the island, again 10 minutes from mine. 6 months after we arrived, he left for San Diego to build the 40 story building pictured above (he's a surfing fanatic & surfs Laguna Beach every day after work). He called me from his car on the way to California wanting us to head to SoCal. You don't move 30 days after settling on a house - besides, I like where I live & work. It would have been a cool job just the same. (Note: He mentions Alabama - he has an investment property in Gulf Shores.)

His building is done &, in a few weeks, as is common in the construction industry & in this economic environment, he will become a statistic in the lost job category.

I guess it might be too much to hope that the 'A' team could be reassembled one day. It would be like one last ride for Butch & Sundance. We ain't gettin' any younger but we can still handle the tough jobs - & still make it look easy.

So....If it weren' for Scott, me n' Deb wouldn't be in Florida, wouldn't have started writing & there would be no book called Bad Latitude & I would never have even thought about blogging. Funny how things work out. Owe ya one dude....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why Do They Charge More For

Deb had her hair done today.... (Looks fabulous hon - really) but, I don't get the whole cost thing. Understand, I'm not complaining. She didn't buy "hair products" this time. Hint: Good ol' shampoo & conditioner is usually what - $6 or $8? Hair "products" are apparently up there in car payment range - so I need to feel grateful..... I guess.

There are always STORIES after the salon visit. ALWAYS. We were in Chicago for several weeks - too long to go without the hair 'being done'. Naturally, SARAH, Deb's stylist, had awful things (cat sounds in background) to say about the Chicago cut & color & this n' that and suggested - "You should have flown back here to get it done right, instead of getting it all screwed up like this - I would have fit you in." HELLOOOOOOO...... The airfare alone was almost $700 round trip for one person Sarah Scissorhands. What do I look like John Edwards? (I have no idea what was so AWFUL about it, but, hey, what do I know.)

Over dinner we debated (in good fun) the ridiculous cost of hair care for women. My point was, yes I know they have overhead & everyone needs to make a living but..... I pay less every month for the lawn folks & they cut, edge, weed-whack, rake/sweep & THEY do it every week using 3 men (not just 1 lady once a month) & they fertilize every 3 or 4 weeks. We're also comparing a decent sized lawn area to .... a head. Ok, I'll concede - they don't make riding clippers.

Next month maybe Sarah from Panache' will cut our grass & the dudes from The Lawn Ranger will take care Deb's hair.... Easy on the weedkiller guys.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Orange Alert

An author friend was being interviewed on the radio about his latest book earlier this evening & I decided to call in to ask a question. Now if I had identified myself as someone that he knew (via email & such), I would have come across like a stage prop. A planted fan. So I asked a rather lame question when my opportunity came about. I was woefully unprepared to sound intelligent, never actually expecting to get on the air, but at least I caused the interview to get back onto the real topic, meaning, the guy's novel.

Here's where it got tricky. I wanted to send a message to this author that 'it was me' - as a show of support. He's a good guy, terrific talent & he's done quite a bit to help me out. Now he & the host had been complaining about the frigid temps up in the northeast, where they're located. I mean, we're talkin' minus 28, without wind-chill. I'm in Florida, & it's literally 80 degrees warmer here than up there, even though it's been chilly. So I made the comment - "I'll send y'all some oranges" - hinting that I was somewhere warm & hoping that the Hemingway wannabe would get the hint. After 10 more seconds of banter about tropics & palm trees - he got it (& stuttered just a little). This led to an email from said author within 3 minutes of the show's end. The email was pretty funny but I won't post it.

A couple hours later, Deb says "Why'd you tell him you would send up some oranges?"
Me - "I dunno - I was tryin' to give him a hint about who was callin'."
Deb - "You probably made him nervous."
Me - "Huh?"
Deb - "Like in The Godfather. Whenever somebody's gonna get whacked - there's always an orange in the earlier scene. Maybe he thought you were some nut."
Me - (Wicked laugh) "Well, I am a bit of a nut (in a funny not psycho way). Maybe I'll send some anyway."

So here's from our backyard. We picked these the other day, but no one's gettin' whacked or goin' swimmin' with the fishes. Not 'til it warms up anyway.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

BAD LATITUDE - A Jack Rackham Adventure

BAD LATITUDE - A Jack Rackham Adventure is finally up for sale. The book was published in November, but my Chicago trip & workload held up the official release. It's finally for sale at under the fiction/adventure category.

Here's where it gets tough for me. Marketing. I honestly don't like talking about myself - unless it's something funny. On the business side - making pitches to clients on potential deals involving multi-million dollar construction & development projects is a walk in the park - because that's business - I'm expected to do that & I'm paid for that, but I never mention all of the awards that have come my way for various Medical Centers or Office Complexes or the fact that I built one of the very first 'Green' buildings before 'Green' was cool. Writing about wacky stuff that goes on around here or with my family - no problem - I'm only a part of that, like being the driver in the post about the boots a few weeks back. Explaining that I've written a book for kids, one that's actually pretty good - I'd be more comfortable slamming my hand in a car door.

My friend Mark LaFlamme (super talented author of the books DIRT: An American Campaign, THE PINK ROOM & VEGETATION) tells me I had better get over this in a hurry. He's right of course - & his advice has been invaluable - but I'm still uncomfortable.

My wonderful wife Deb has always been very shy. Everyone that meets her walks away knowing that she's a real sweetheart - a great person, extremely likable. She has battled her shyness on my behalf talking up BAD LATITUDE & now several local stores, including the Florida Park Service & the county tourism centers, have agreed to stock it. In every instance, when she has brought the topic up, I've run off to hide. This morning, she asked why it's not on Facebook & why haven't I blogged about it - the book has been available now for about a week. So, with my tail between my legs, I'm working on this blog post, with sweaty hands & a very red face, wondering if I'll hit the publish button in the end.

In a nutshell, BAD LATITUDE is an adventure story for kids that like books with a fast pace, a mix of history & humor, creepy ghosts and a dash of the old 'I didn't see that comin' factor. The story follows the summer of fifteen-year-old Jack Rackham, the descendant of the pirate Calico Jack Rackam (who will make an appearance) & his friends Kai, Valerie & Talia in my haunted hometown of St Augustine Florida. Since they can't drive yet, they get around using Jack's boat BAD LATITUDE, an incredibly awesome high performance machine given to Jack as a gift from his very wealthy grandparents. Naturally the kids do what all kids do down here - They surf, kiteboard, have beach parties, explore the local attractions & deal with their awkward first 'romances'. When Jack is given a 300-year-old diary that describes a fortune hidden away in the burial grounds of Rattlesnake Island (a real place by the way - 2 miles from my house - all locations in the book are real) he & best friend Kai become obsessed with finding the loot, not realizing that, if successful in their search, they may not escape from the island with their lives. This ultimately forces the choice between wealth & friendship.

One other note - This book is totally clean. There is no profanity, adult situations, drugs, drinking or any behavior that I wouldn't condone for kids. In that sense, it's not "edgy" &, while I was told that "edgy" sells better - I wasn't willing to compromise in this area.

There's an excerpt on my author page (prologue & 1st 2 chapters) - just Google BAD LATITUDE A JACK RACKHAM ADVENTURE & that will take you to my author page at It's also available on Amazon & Barnes & Noble & other websites but they haven't posted the description or excerpt yet - probably not for a week or so.

So that's my first attempt at plugging my own work. In the meantime, RECKLESS ENDEAVOR, my 2nd book, is moving along well & I'm excited with the way it's coming together. Maybe that's part of my problem (that & being a computer-idiot). I'd rather create tall tales than market them - but I'll work on it. Now if I could only figure out how to add links.....