Return From the Abyss

As you can see, I haven’t posted a single word since June 19, 2014. I know that it’s rude and irresponsible for me not to update my blog regularly, particularly because I have many loyal followers who have read all four of my novels and have taken the time to write positive reader reviews on Amazon.com. This is not my first disappearing act. Over the years, I’ve vanished on several occasions, promising that it won’t happen again, only to let it happen again. This period of silence is the longest since I started my website.

I have no valid excuse to justify my desertion, except to say that my fifth novel, which I completed a short time ago, completely consumed me. Again, it’s not an acceptable excuse; it’s merely an explanation.

So, where do I go from here? More excuses and explanations, or do I get off my ass and do the right thing? I guess that’s a compelling question I’m unable to answer right now. Time will tell.

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UNBEATABLE DEAL!

Newsflash! Through a special promotion called Kindle Countdown Days, Hypocrisy is available as an e-book for only .99 cents on June 20 and 21, $1.99 on June 22 and 23, and $2.99 on June 24 and 25. http://tinyurl.com/nt25hqc

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12 Years Too Long

Over this past weekend, my wife and I watched a couple of recently-released movies, one of which was 12 Years a Slave. The movie received high acclaim and won an Oscar for Best Picture in 2013. The movie is based on a true story, and in my opinion, if watching it doesn’t evoke strong emotions in you, I doubt that any movie will.

The movie takes place in the mid 1800’s, when slavery was legal and widespread. As depicted in the movie, southern plantation owners forced their “property” to work long, hard hours picking cotton and harvesting sugar cane. The conditions and the way the plantation owners treated the slaves were beyond inhumane. The premise of the story revolves around Solomon Northrup, a free northern black man, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery; a common practice during that period of time. He is a very gifted musician, well educated, and has a wife and two children. I won’t spoil the movie by revealing any more information, but I highly recommend that you put this movie on your “must-watch-list”.

My reason for this post isn’t to critique the movie. Its purpose is to point out my aversion to the entire concept of slavery. It makes no difference whether or not the movie clearly and accurately portrays the life of Solomon Northrup. It is well documented that slaves like him were subjected to horrid conditions. Not only were they worked unmercifully, but many slave owners treated them sadistically and without even the slightest hint of empathy, mercy, or compassion. Slavery was one of the darkest shadows ever cast upon our country. And the mere thought of any human endorsing such a barbaric practice seems unimaginable.

Frankly, without trying to sound melodramatic, 12 Years a Slave made me feel ashamed to be a white man.

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Just Returned

Well, the 12-day adventure is over and I’m sitting in front of my computer sorting through 400+ e-mails. Can I go back to Italy? If you’ve never been to Italia, you must go at least once in your life. I’m not a well-travelled person, so it’s hard for me to fairly compare one part of the world from another. However, no matter how you slice it, Italy is a must-see. Rich with culture, remarkable architecture, and breathtaking historic landmarks, you have to see it to believe it.

It all started in Milan and ended in Sorrento, and in-between we ate and drank our way north to south and visited Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Rome, the Vatican, Assisi, Pompeii, Pisa, the Amalfi Coast, and Positano. (One of the most romantic places on Earth.) We climbed through the remains of the Coloseum, navigated our way through the ruins of Pompeii, and stood speechless viewing the numerous cathedrals—each an architectural wonder. We viewed Michengelo’s David and the Pieta and were awestruck by the magnificence of the Sistine Chapel. We roamed cobblestone streets, sampled a variety of Italian wines, and browsed through dozens of charming little shops. And no trip to Italy would be complete without tasting Limoncello and Grappa.

I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed with the food. Perhaps because I’m of Italian descent, or maybe because the food is so hyped up my expectations might have been unrealistic. However, my wife and I sampled Italian Gelato in just about every city and enjoyed every tasty mouthful.

It would take pages and pages of concise detail for me to even begin to describe the wonders of Italy, and even at that I would only be scratching the surface, so I won’t bother. You have to see it for yourself.

We met some amazing people (and a few forgettable ones). With a few, we connected almost immediately and felt as if we’d known them for years. My wife and I feel strongly that we will continue to communicate with several people in our tour group. And who knows, maybe we’ll hook up with them again for another trip to an exotic foreign land.

I won’t bore you by sharing our awful experiences flying to and from Italy. However, I will say that our domestic carriers could learn a lot about customer service and pleasing their patrons by paying close attention to how Lufthansa operates. Even sitting in the economy section, they treated us like First Class passengers, while United Airlines made us feel like cattle. It’s hard to believe that both carriers operate under the Star Alliance Group. I can’t say enough positive things about Lufthansa, or enough negative things about United.

Okay, time for me to tackle my e-mail inbox. There’s always a price to be paid in return for an escape from reality.

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Time Just Slips Away

Well, here it is, almost May. Where has the year gone? I promised myself (and my followers) that I would regularly update my blog and that just hasn’t happened. In fact, I’ve made that promise many, many times and haven’t followed through. So, I decided to take a new approach: Not to promise anything I can’t deliver. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. I, like most people, have a strong opinion about everything from nuclear weapons to hummingbirds. But, as my lovely wife likes to point out, rightfully so, I manage time very poorly.

A couple of updates. Hypocrisy, my fourth novel, is off and running. Sales have been a little sluggish, but a major marketing campaign is forthcoming and it should generate a lot of interest in this book.  I hope. Tomorrow morning, my wife and I hop on a big bird and fly to Milan, Italy. We’ll be city hopping for two weeks. My wife has been there eight times, but as an Italian, I’m embarrassed to admit that this is my first visit. What can I say? I’ve lived a sheltered life.

I’ll touch base when I return. Oops! Did I just make a promise?

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The Wait is Over

Hypocrisy, my fourth novel, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will be officially released on March 15, 2014. Here’s a link to Amazon: http://tiny.cc/uc7pcx  If you enjoy reading controversial medical thrillers, murder mysteries, or detective vs. villain novels, I’m sure you’ll like this book. Let me know what you think.

DMA

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Amazing Little Creatures

There are a lot of hummingbirds in San Diego fluttering around here and there. I find them fascinating. Recently, my wife and I noticed a tiny bird’s nest constructed on the branch of one of my neighbor’s six-foot plants just outside the entrance to her apartment. Not the most ideal place for a nest but I’m sure mom had her reasons for building it there. We try our best not to disturb mom while she roosts on her two eggs, but sometimes because of the close proximity to our courtyard, she gets spooked if anyone gets too close to her.

It’s hard to accurately estimate just how many hours mom roosts on her unborn kids, but she rarely leaves them alone. I suspect she takes periodic meal breaks, stretches her wings, does her business, but stays perched on top of those eggs 23 hours a day. The evening air is pretty cold—at least by San Diego standards—so mom has to be diligent about keeping her young ones warm or they won’t survive the chilly nights.

These tiny birds really make me think about the validity of intelligent design. I’m not searching for an argument or debate, but when you consider that this tiny creature, weighing no more than two ounces, with a brain the size of a pea, possesses the instinct to engineer a remarkably well-crafted nest, and knows she must care for her little ones by keeping them insulated from the cold, then when they hatch, tends to them and feeds them until they’re able to spread their wings and fly, I wonder how anyone could possibly conclude that this incredible phenomenon, which represents the wonders of so many other creatures—including humans—could possibly be the result of the Big Bang theory. How could the wonders of nature, so vast and so amazing, be an accident?

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