Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

I am not a fan of Halloween unlike my oldest who loves it and did all sorts of decorations. After he got everything up, much of which you can’t see here¸ he got me into posing with “Grimm.” I had to indulge him as this is his favorite time of year. It beats Christmas, his birthday and everything else all rolled together. 



But, while he is into Halloween, getting scared, slasher movies, the whole nine yards, I have never liked it at all. Even as a kid, I didn’t like it. I have always found real life to be plenty scary enough without wanting to be scared for fun. I never understood the thrill of having the undead live, walls that leak blood, entities that come from another dimension and take over the body, etc. Real life seemed to provide all the scaring I ever needed and then some.

That certainly was the case this Halloween as it seemed certain we were not going to make the rent. I have always been terrified of being homeless. I don’t know why. I wasn’t as a kid ever homeless and I don’t think I ever knew anyone who was until I hit college in the early 80s.  At that time I knew several folks who, despite working like crazy, could not manage to get their own place and as a result lived out of their cars. So, it wasn’t like I personally ever experienced it, but the fear of being homeless always lurked in the back of my mind even when I had a job with a steady income.

These days I have none of that and the fear is a constant one. Made worse by Sandi being home on unpaid medical leave and lots of other things going on here. Things have been bad for a long time and that contributes to stress and everything else. So, it is vicious circle.

I truly believed yesterday morning that we were done. Things looked hopeless and I started packing to get rid of things and making arrangements to take over the blog, a couple of writing groups I run through yahoo, and various other things. My oldest started calling a few of his friends to see if there was anyway his brother, a High School Senior, could move in with them so that he could stay in school.

As the day wore out the tide seemed to change a little bit. The hours passed and then the donations started from as far away as Australia. The fact that anybody cared enough to help yesterday, let alone all along these many past months, boggles my mind. The fact that folks in Australia, half a world away, who don’t know me at all would donate to some fat guy living in Texas causes my brain to split apart and smoke on the floor. Because so many chipped in at the last minute we have enough to pay the rent as soon as PayPal finally gets everything moved over.

All I can say is thank you! Thank you from all of us. We appreciate the words of support, the donations, the prayers, etc. and it means an awful lot to us. More than you will ever know. The fact that I could tell everyone here by late yesterday afternoon that everything would be okay once PayPal moved the money was a huge relief. Not to just me but to everyone here. Theoretically I am a writer and should be able to fully express that sentiment, but I can’t. Words fail me.

Also, a very special thank you to the several folks who have ordered items from Sandi’s craft store over at http://www.ioffer.com/users/sanditipple As I have mentioned before, crafts are a key part of her therapy coming back from her end of July strokes and also help her manage stress. Having a few sales is huge and impacts her mood greatly. With help from us, she got a bunch of new items listed on the site yesterday. Most are holiday/Christmas items but she also has baby blankets, stuffed animals, etc.



So, thank you one and all. You have taken quite a bit of the terror out of this Halloween for us and I thank you one and all.  Can’t tell you how grateful we all are.

Kevin

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: "This Brilliant Darkness" by Red Tash

Bloomington, Indiana should be nothing more than a quiet college town. It had been until a strange flashing star began to light up the night as well as daytime sky. A star that can’t be seen anywhere else on Earth. Strange events are also happening in a local wooded area. All too soon it becomes very personal to Christine Grace because something very strange is happening to her as well.

She could be losing her mind.

That would be the easy explanation.

Maybe the strange events are happening because Christine has been targeted by some sort of dark creature known as the “Greachin.” Maybe the strange events are because she has allies and just does not know it just yet. While Christine struggles to hold on to her sanity, the creature grows stronger day by day making it harder for her to survive.



Filled with interesting characters, constant shifting between character viewpoints, and discussions of religion and science, this story billed as a “dark urban fantasy” moves forward at a rapid pace. Not all questions are answered to completely tie everything off, but one wonders how the series can move forward based on how this book ended. As very clearly noted in the book description, this book is not intended for anyone other than adult readers. That means there is adult language, drinking, and other character activities that may offend some readers.

Ordinarily this is not the kind of book I would read. Based on my tastes and preferences this would be classified as a horror novel and not something I would touch. However, I contracted to read it and proof it for typos after the author was informed by a reader there were “tons” of spelling errors. There was not at all in the version I recently read and proofed. In fact, I found far fewer than many books I have read recently released from the major publishing houses.

Because I enjoyed the read, despite being the totally wrong audience for it, I broke my long standing policy of not reviewing works I had any part in because I only proofed this read for misspelled words. No other editing services were provided or asked for regarding this very interesting and enjoyable book.


This Brilliant Darkness
Red Tash
http://redtash.com/
Kindle E-Book
September 7, 2011


Material supplied, as noted above, by the author for spelling review purposes.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

FFB Review: "Dice Angel" by Brian Rouff

This week for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by Patti Abbott, I have selected a book released in 2002. Dice Angel is far more than a simple story off one man’s bad  luck in Vegas. A good book worth your time.....




Finding a new author that is worth reading is a treat. No matter how good the storyline or plot setup is, if the characters don't come alive for the reader, then the book won't be that good. In this case, everything works across the board, which creates a very enjoyable debut novel by Brian Rouff.

As Dice Angel opens, Jimmy Delaney is on a rather bad roll of luck in life. Not only is his ex-wife Joy (who isn't) giving him a hard time, but burglars have broken into his supper club named Jimmy D's. The club is a legacy from his father who started it from nothing and lately it seems to be a target for every burglar in Las Vegas. This time they got the cash from the video poker machines, which adds up to quite a sum. But that loss seems rather small when he discovers that the IRS wants $50,000 for back taxes and penalties within days and his checks are bouncing all over town.

It appears that his ex brother in law who was his accountant and supposed to be handling all sorts of things, instead embezzled every last cent and took off, leaving behind his marriage and his very ill daughter. Jimmy turns to the usual sources as his world slowly collapses seeking funds to pay off the IRS and keep the club open. The quest for help goes nowhere and as he hits rock bottom, he has nowhere else to turn except to the mysterious lady known as Dice Angel. Supposedly through the means of mystical powers she can bring lady luck back into Jimmy's life so that he can save himself and those he cares so much about.

Beyond the storyline that suffers greatly in my telling, is the fact that this novel is full of interesting characters that actually come alive for the reader. Within a few pages the author pulls the reader into the Vegas he knows so well and the pull is simply irresistible. It is also fascinating to watch Jimmy D crash and resurrect himself and evolve as a character over the course of this 222-page novel. This fast read is over way too soon and hopefully there will be another following Jimmy D., his club, and his somewhat eccentric customers and staff. 


Kevin R. Tipple © 2003, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Barry's Reviews: "DANGEROUS WOMEN & DESPERATE MEN" (2011) by Rick Mofina

DANGEROUS WOMEN & DESPERATE MEN (2011)
by Rick Mofina


Reviewed by Barry Ergang



Formerly a crime reporter, thriller writer Rick Mofina drew on his experiences and observations in that capacity to create the four tales that Dangerous Women & Desperate Men comprises.


In "Blood Red Rings," Frank Harper, a cop on the verge of early retirement, thinks back over his life while patrolling the streets of the city, realizing not for the first time how  dysfunctional his family has become. When he responds to a shooting where a fellow officer is already in pursuit of the perpetrator, he gets the greatest shock of his life, one from which he'll likely never recover.


She's only 26, but Jessie Scout has already endured more than a lifetime's worth of hardship and pain. Half German, half Native American, she works as an armored car driver in Las Vegas and, along with Gil Perez, has to daily put up with their white supremacist crew chief, Elmer Gask. When she and the vehicle she was driving disappear, Gask, Perez, and the investigating officers suspect a heist and wonder if Jessie is alive or dead. Resonant with overtones that lift it beyond the run-of-the-mill crime tale, "Lightning Rider" won the Crime Writers of Canada's 2006 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story.


Ike Decker is a former New York cop now living and working in California as a Special Loss Recovery Agent for an armored car company. In "Three Bullets to Queensland," the weakest story in the collection because Decker really doesn't have any obstacles to overcome, his quarry is Paco Sanchez, who came away from a heist with one-point-two million dollars in cash.


A finalist for the 2008 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story, "As Long As We Both Shall Live" tells the story of Elizabeth and Spencer Dalton. Spencer went fishing on his 18-foot boat one day and never returned. After an extensive investigation that has involved several agencies, Spencer has been declared missing and presumed dead. The story is related in the form of an official court transcript, as State Attorney's office prosecutor Paul Upshaw questions Elizabeth Dalton about her life with her husband and events that preceded and followed his disappearance. The narrative device is, in and of itself, dry and impersonal, but Mofina makes it effectively convey the tones and emotions of the people whose voices are transcribed. Readers are likely to remember what actually happened to Spencer Dalton long after they finish the story.    


The rest of the book consists of sample excerpts from several of Rick Mofina's novels, and essays on how those novels evolved.


The stories in Dangerous Women & Desperate Men are, to their credit, as much--and sometimes more--about character as they are about crimes. Mofina's prose style is crisp and pared to essentials, resulting in stories that are good quick reads which offer memorable moments.  But the rapid-fire, often breathless nature of that prose style sometimes leads to ungrammatical constructions--e.g., "Decker's nose was crooked from being broken three times, a jagged scar paralleled his jaw line, he was missing his right ear, a long story but Decker used his thumbs to gouge out the eyes of the man who took his ear, and he possessed a shark-toothed mouth that, when he grinned as he was doing now, his eyes widened with ferocity, telegraphing a clear message...."


And that brings us to my biggest criticism of this book. It's in dire need of a proofreader. It teems with punctuation errors: punctuation marks are either misplaced or, most frequently, altogether missing. As mentioned above, there are occasional grammatical lapses an editor should have caught, and even a few spelling mistakes--e.g., "ally" for "alley." Unfortunately, this kind of slovenliness has become too common in publishing today, even among the major houses.


That criticism notwithstanding, the stories in Dangerous Women & Desperate Men are worth the attention of crime fiction fans. The book is available in Kindle and Smashwords editions.



Barry Ergang ©2011
*****
Formerly the Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine and First Senior Editor of Mysterical-E, winner of the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s 2007 Derringer Award in the Flash Fiction category, Barry Ergang’s written work has appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. For links to material available online, and fiction available for e-readers, see Barry’s webpages. Remember, too, that he has books from his personal collection for sale at http://barryergangbooksforsale.yolasite.com/  He'll contribute 20% of the purchase price of the books to our fund, so please have a look at his lists, which have recently been added to in several categories. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Am Begging For Your Help

I am begging for your help so that we don’t have to go to a homeless shelter in Downtown Dallas. I'm terrified of being homeless. It is something I have always feared. With my health, as well as Sandi's, I fear it even more.  
 
 
We are on food stamps and eating only because of that. We don't qualify for Medicaid. This is because we have over $200 in assets in furniture, clothes, etc. and that disqualifies us under Texas Medicaid rules. We “might” qualify once we were in a homeless shelter, but I really don’t want to find out if that is true. Sandi is still on unpaid medical leave and has not been terminated yet, so she still has her insurance as long as we pay the $120 bucks a month for her premium. The lack of Medicaid does not help my deal at all. A deal that is, without a doubt, getting worse.
 
 
Sandi is hoping to go back to work by the end of November, but that is up her bosses as, per their rules, she has to be 100 percent before she can go back to work. Mentally, she is still having some issues and these look to be permanent. The bigger issue is her knee. As it stands now, she will be doing physical therapy at the cost of 60 bucks a week for the foreseeable future. She is still on crutches and will be until she sees the doctor again right before Thanksgiving
 
 
So, that is where we stand at this point. That is also why I am asking for your help. I am not just asking----I am begging for your help. As you can see from the widget to your left, we are way short of what we need to stay here. We have nothing in the bank. Literally. What is in the Chip In widget is it.


Please know that I am asking for the bare minimum…not to get our car fixed or anything like that. This is just for the rent, keep the local phone service on so I have access to the internet, and pay for Sandi’s physical therapy, meds, etc. Most of the sixteen drugs she is on are generic and that helps, but between her drugs, my drugs, the many medications the boys are on because they both are special needs, it all adds up.


I know some folks hate Amazon and will not buy from them in favor of independent bookstores. I’m not asking you to change or do things differently. But, please, if, you are going to buy from Amazon anyway, please consider going through me as I get a referral fee of a few pennies on each purchase. It takes about three months after the end of the month for it to appear in my account and does not cost you a thing.


From a mental standpoint, Sand is still having various mental issues, but she is able to once again make some things again. This has been strongly encouraged by her doctors and me as it can help her recovery. She has been making things for years and it is nice to see her able to do things again as there were serious questions she would be able to do so. Sandi has some of her stuff at http://www.ioffer.com/users/sanditipple she has holiday as well as everyday items like quilts, baby blankets, stuffed animals, etc.


Last fall our son, Karl, set up a couple of deals for selling things under his online moniker of THUNDERCATSNYY. Karl is still doing this. One is at Amazon where he has had decent success moving video games, movies, my old books¸ and other items. His store on Amazon is at: www.amazon.com/shops/thundercatsnyy and changes almost daily because he adds things to replace stuff he has sold. He also set up a deal on iOffer to help move some of his Mom’s stuff and other items such as comic books he can’t sell/list at Amazon via www.thundercatsnyy.ioffer.com
 
 
By the way, my good friend and occasional reviewer here, Barry Ergang has quite a few neat books over at his deal located at http://barryergangbooksforsale.yolasite.com/ He sells a few and adds a few a couple of times a week so even if you looked before and did not find anything that strikes your fancy, surf over and take a look. He'll contribute 20% of the purchase price of the books to our fund, so please have a look at his lists.



Barry is also now up with some of his older published stuff available on Smashwords. You can search under his name or go directly to his stuff by clicking http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/cassidy20
 

That is where we are. Please know that we are doing our best and are not just asking for help we don’t need. This is why I am asking for your help. I am not just asking----I am begging for your help. We truly do need your help desperately. Feel free to spread the word.


On behalf of Barry and my own family, I thank you.


Kevin