Thursday, June 30, 2011

Little Miss Hannibal…

Monsters in small packages, The Killing is dead, a new Tim Greaton release, and Fat Duck - a new routine….
Evil wears a pink dress: It’s no secret that I consider myself to be one of the most fortunate fathers on the planet. I have three wonderful children who are all growing up to be equally wonderful and talented adults. My oldest is now twenty-one and recently moved into her first apartment; I’m happy to say that her landlord does not allow pets. So, why is that good?
‎My wife and I didn’t realize what a precious little monster we were raising until my daughter was about three years old. As a pretty serious bodybuilder at the time, I would get up each morning at about 4:30am to drink my protein powder and egg mix before heading out to the gym. Imagine my surprise when I opened the refrigerator to find our new tiny kitten shivering in a bowl of soup. I’m guessing the soup had probably been warm when the little creature first sat there.
And my daughter got worse from there, enough so that I would leap out of bed at the slightest hint of her maniacal laugh. One morning, I heard her cackle and bounded out of bed to find the kitten drenched on the opposite side of the bathroom from the still-flushing toilet. If my crime scene reconstruction is correct, she must have dropped the kitten into the bowl and flushed. That poor thing must have made one giant leap clean across to the other side of the bathroom—no small feat for a tiny kitten :-(
Then there was the time she dropped the same cat from a second floor window....
But it was one morning when I woke hearing her talking to someone that truly terrified me.
“Go ahead, touch it,” I heard her say to her little brother.
Terrified, I kicked free of my blankets—but it was too late! Already, my toddler son had exploded into tears. I burst into the living room to see him plopped diaper-first on the floor, holding his finger up to me, a giant wasp between his legs.
His hysterical crying was only matched in volume by my daughter’s gleeful laugh.
Fortunately, she grew out of it.
Now all grown up, my daughter recently said, "A policeman stopped me for an expired registration today, Dad." Then like a hand model she pointed toward her smile. "But he couldn't resist this face and let me go."
I remember loaning her the money to get her car registered only to have her show up a few days later with only about half the money she owned. Before I can say, “Where’s the rest?” she says, “You know you're impressed, Dad; that's the most I've ever paid back."
Then she saunters off with that smile.
Come to think of it, maybe she’s still a monster J.
Fat Duck’s my outdoor son: Last week I said I’d like to see Fatty reach a new pinnacle of success. And, now, we can safely say that it has happened. Fat Duck has a new routine that leads him ultimately up onto the porch each night at between 7 and 8pm. Here’s how his day goes…
Fatty rests easy all night in the safety of his pen on the porch. During this time he enjoys one or two full bowls of clean water and at least three slices of bread. Come morning, he expects me to open his cage and feed him another two or three slices of bread before he wanders off the porch (sometimes with a little encouragement and sometimes after leaving me with several “gifts”). Of course, the rest of the day is spent either in the shade by the pond or on his hay bale acting as our lawn ornament.
Then at about 5pm he starts to wander the hundred feet or so back along the side of the house. His wandering always seems to end somewhere between the house and barn. Then for the next couple of hours, he looks completely confused as he walks back and forth, constantly glancing up at the porch. I’m convinced this is when he thinks, “I really want to go up there, but they’ll kick me off if I’m too early.”
Then finally just about the time twilight hits, he migrates to the stairs, hops up one at a time, and sits next to his pen.
That’s about the time my wife or children see him out the kitchen window and say, “Your son is ready for you.”

My Review of The Killing (season finale) AMC television show starring Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman and Billy Campbell.
My rating (zero out of five stars)
The last episode I will ever watch..., 29 June 2011
It’s probably important to say that I saw every one of the thirteen episodes of Season One. Like many reviewers, I thought the first couple of episodes were great with strong performances and quirky characters. The mystery was convincing, as were the personal problems that seemed to be cropping up for everyone from the cops to the suspects.
But then something terrible started to happen. Actually a number of terrible things started to happen. First, the characters started to fluctuate from good to bad. Some viewers would have called it human, but I called it intentional misdirection. The writers wanted us to assume everyone on screen could possibly have been Rosie Larson’s murderer.
So, let’s say that we’re comfortable with the constantly stirring pot and the incredible panoply of red herrings the writers used to make us believe virtually anyone, maybe even the murdered girl herself, could have done it, all in the name of keeping the viewers uncertain and guessing. Maybe this is exactly what a real murder investigation is like, but to me it felt like cheating…not unlike when the writers of Lost swore their island wasn’t a dream or a vision of purgatory, but then it turned out to be exactly that. No, for me the writers of The Killing were jerking my chain just a little too much. I might have given up on this show sooner, but I had been waiting the entire 12 episodes to learn who the killer was. So, I figured it was worth seeing it through to the end. Besides, maybe once I understood the mystery, I would feel better about all the misdirection.
And then comes episode number thirteen…unlucky number thirteen, it turns out. So what happened? That’s easy: NOTHING HAPPENED…at least nothing in the way of a murder being solved.
This burns me in so many different ways, not the least of which was regretting the thirteen hours I had invested in this charlatan of a television show? The unwritten contract was that I would watch and would ultimately learn the identity of the killer. What makes it even worse for me is that AMC waited until the last minute to renew the series. What would the producers have done if they didn’t get renewed? My guess is that we, the viewers, would have been screwed.
But the joke is now on them. I believe many of us have learned our lesson. Those producers can’t be trusted, therefore when I learn the identity of Rosie Larson’s killer, it will be from Yahoo news or someone discussing it within earshot. Because one thing is absolutely for certain: I will never watch another episode of The Killing.

Bones in the Tree, update: As I promised, I finished the first draft of this story. It’s in editing stage now. At last count it runs about 36 pages but will likely be trimmed back by ten to twenty percent. The story will be posted for free on Smashwords and a few other sites by Tuesday 5 July 2011. It will also be available for 99 cents on Amazon and Barnes and Noble the same day.
If you read it and like it, please leave a review. If you don’t like it…well, silence is golden J.

Thanks, Mark Reeder, for your amazing comments regarding The Santa Shop (Paperback)
His review…
««««« (five out of five stars)
Simple Truths and Powerful Themes, May 12, 2011
From the very beginning the idea of a Santa Shop caught my imagination, but what kept me reading were the believable characters, simple truths and powerful themes wrapped up in a delightful package of iridescent prose. Tim Greaton is not just a writer, he's a consummate storyteller. His books should be on everyone's short list of must reads.

My Thanks: I once dreamt of writing for a living. Though a lot of my time is spent writing for nonprofit corporations and charities around the country, work that is incredibly fulfilling and that I will continue to do long after it is required on my end, each and every day more of my income comes directly from readers of my books. Please know that I couldn’t be more sincere in my appreciation.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Boy Turns into A Dragon…

I didn’t mean to invent a religion, the Fonz has feathers, GM wins big, aggravation IS ME, Tennessee Pennsylvania and Maine pipe in…

Bones in the Tree: I’m so aggravated with myself to report I still haven’t finished the Bones in the Tree first draft. I have, however, decided that as soon as the blog is complete tonight, I will rectify that one way or another. I have only a few pages left to go in the story, and even though my project list is stacked from here to Heaven (including my publisher’s request to hurry with the next book in the Zachary Pill series before the first one is even out!) I will finish Bones… tonight.
Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End: Amazing news! When I settled down to open the ridiculous scrolling list of emails tonight, the first edits for Zachary Pill… were in my box. As soon as Bones in the Tree is complete (first draft tonight, edits Monday and TuesdayJ), I will be settling into some serious fantasy edits. It’s funny, when I finished my final draft of Zachary Pill … (after something like five years) I never wanted to see that story again. Now, after a couple of months of Ripped… edits, I’m anxious to visit my dragon wizard boy again.
By the way, the buzz about this book is really rising. I get as many emails and request for updates on Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End as I do on all my other projects combinedJ. It is definitely moving forward and will be available to all of you soon (I’m going to post another tiny excerpt just because I canJ.
Here it is…
Zachary stomped on his captor’s boot and scrambled to get his feet beneath him. Somehow he managed to yank one arm free. Before the orc could grab him again, Zachary’s hand closed around the ice-cold wizard’s amulet. Though fear mixed freely with dragon rage in his veins, Zachary took one last look at Robin’s brother—then jerked on the disc. The cord dug into his neck but did not break. Ignoring the pain, Zachary twisted and yanked again, this time splitting the heavy string.
Like a roaring locomotive, pressure rushed into his head and pushed against his skull. A prickling sensation raced across his shoulders and sent goose bumps down his arms. Feeling an inexplicable sense of freedom, Zachary flung his medallion across the room where it struck a tapestry and fell to the floor.  A primal scream passed his lips as joints erupted in pain. He could feel his limbs contorting and stretching. From the bottoms of his feet to the top of his head, bones shifted and made cracking noises as they grew and bent at odd angles. Both arms shot out and the flesh around them swelled with dense muscle and newly formed scales. His joints burned in agony, and his fingers grew long and curled with knife-like claws sprouting from the ends. He saw his skin harden into a golden red crust. He knew he was screaming as his clothing tore and fell into shreds onto the floor. His neck pitched forward and his cheeks grew wide and long. His gums ached as rows of pointed teeth erupted from his upper and lower jaws. He felt thick slabs of muscle filling in the area around his cheeks and sensed he had enough power to chew through stone. Zachary tried to run his tongue over the new teeth, but it flicked out beyond the end of his snout and forked into two snakelike ends. His knees were forced into a crouch by flesh that thickened like tree trunks around his thighs. When he moved, the claws on his toes scraped the floor.
Just when the pain of morphing began to fade, a fiery itch erupted from behind. It felt like something was trying to crawl out of his back as two additional limbs sprouted and unfurled like huge kites behind his shoulder blades. Within moments, a pair of golden red wings thickened into layers of muscle that rippled like eels beneath his scales. He stretched the new limbs and felt a glorious sense of power. For the first time, Zachary realized that the orc no longer held him. He could see its legs pumping toward one of the exits.
“What’s this!” Gefarg roared.
Zachary snapped his neck around and hit his snout on the railing of the first balcony. Up until then, he hadn’t realized how tall he had become….

Fat Duck is Fonzie Cool: As you all know, Fat Duck isn’t fearless but sometimes it’s hard to tell, especially if you’re expecting him to run (or fly) for the hills when a little thing like a dog or a lawnmower goes charging his way.
This week we have about twenty Canadian Mallards hanging out with Original Duck in the pond and along the shore of the brook (they’re eating about four loaves of bread a day, tooJ). And over the weekend whenever I am working on projects around the house Patsy our dog gets to run free outside as long as I’m out there. Well, as you can imagine, she bolts out the door and flies off the porch like a superhero—and those poor ducks are her villains. She barks and pursues every last one of them into the water…except Fat Duck.
Fat Duck just doesn’t move quickly, not for me, not for my kids, and certainly not for a foolish dog. Oh, Patsy tries. She charges his way, possibly hoping that he’ll finally see the light and realize he’s supposed to be afraid of her, but ultimately the dog veers off rather than winding up in an in inevitable poultry pile-up with Fatty.
As I was mowing around Fat Duck’s hay bale earlier with my very large, very noisy lawn tractor, he did step off his bale, but only slowly and only as though it was entirely his choice. As I got closer and closer, he sauntered over toward the pond where he could sun himself near the shore. Then, once I finished mowing his area, he sauntered back. If someone had been watching, they might have thought it was me who was waiting for him to move so I could mow.
With his cool, all Fatty lacks is a leather jacket and a motorcycle.

My week: My week can best be described as frenetic but productive.
I completed a ton of great charitable projects, got a ton of writing related projects done (and as many of you know, Carrie Rourke is Focus House’s publicist and she’s like an orphanage taskmaster from a Dickens’ novel), and this weekend I got my windmill renovations finished–though I’ve now decided to add another story to the upper sectionJ), I got most of my lawn tractor parts installed, and I even had a dry enough day today to get my lawn mowed.
Huge bonus! My sister-in-law who is absolutely amazing with landscaping and planting showed up at our house this morning with a car full of plants. She spent several hours adding flowers to our grounds everywhere. Now if only we can keep them aliveJ.
Other than having a sunburn, this past week definitely gets goes to the success column.
Another blistering to-do lists starts off this week, so I’m hoping to get a good start in the morning (which means Bones in the Tree needs to go quickly tonight…pleaseJ)

News – The Chevy Volt: Does This Change Everything? I have to admit that I have not yet tried the new Chevy Volt. As a matter of fact, no city in Maine was included among the early release regions. But I am exceedingly curious and expecting it will be a car I’ll want to own. The real question, however, is how many other people will want to own it?
I’m inclined to believe A LOT!
General Motors along with several other companies has flirted with electric cars in the past. We’ll bypass the hopes and wishes of antique and collectible prototypes that all crashed and burned at the shores of battery woe and focus on GM’s first real attempt at mass-producing an electric car. The EV1 was a lease-only trial program that lasted from 1996 to 1999. Hundreds of EV1 vehicles hit the road. But the cost of the program was high and the customer satisfaction was low. Battery technology was insufficient at that time and the public lacked interest for the most part. But battery technology has improved (though still isn’t truly economical yet) and public interest in alternatively-fueled cars has skyrocketed recently, especially with gas prices edging toward four dollars per gallon every few months.
Recently, a number of the OPEC nations made public statements that they needed more money to manage their economies and therefore oil supplies should be limited so that prices could rise to fund their needs. Saudi Arabia’s response was swift and definitive: they told the other OPEC countries that the world economy couldn’t afford higher fuel costs and that they would unilaterally increase their oil production by any amount needed to offset any artificial production shortfalls. The reason Saudi Arabia did this, I believe, is because they know that consumers in the industrial nations are already teetering on the edge of changing to fossil-fuel alternatives, and one more season of notably high fuel prices might send us all scurrying toward electric car for good. What would all the OPEC companies do if we stopped buying the tar below their feet? But if Saudi Arabia isn’t going to allow prices to rise in the near future, and if GM has already failed with the EV1, what makes me think that this time will be any different?
First, I have to say that this opinion didn’t originate with me. I’ve read about it in several news articles in the last year or so, but most recently I read a New York Times’ Op-Ed piece by JOE NOCERA. And ultimately he based his opinion on information on the over-arching lesson that GM learned with their EV1 program: what consumers want even more than a gas/diesel alternative is RANGE. We want to know that if we get in our car and go anywhere, we’re not going to run out of juice and be stranded.
That’s why he and I and dozens of other technophiles believe GM is going to succeed this time. They’re going to blow past Nissan, Tesla, and every other company that markets any electric vehicle that can’t drive 300+ miles on a single charge. It’s true that the Volt cheats a little to extend its range by actually using gas when there is no more electricity, but it does it with an attractive MPG rate and only after all the electricity has been used up.
So I’ll wait for the new Volt to hit Maine, and I’ll likely wait for the first wave or two of engineering flaws to be fixed, but I will definitely be among the up and coming consumer mass that will definitely choose GM Volt over gas vehicles in the very near future.

Why is my From My Cold Young Fingers’ Under-Heaven different from Purgatory and other more accepted versions of Heaven? When I first plotted out my fictional heavenly setting, it never even occurred to me that anyone would have a problem with it. After all, it’s fiction. I hadn’t set out to invent a religion or even seriously toy with spirituality. I was really just trying to tell a story about a fictional boy and what happened after his fictional death.
Imagine my surprise when I received an email from a woman in Tennessee shortly after the book came out. She had read The Santa Shop and loved it, so when she saw From My Cold Young Fingers available, she immediately purchased it and started reading.
But after Chapter Two, she stopped!
As she explained to me, at Chapter Two she realized this wasn’t a story about her Heaven, didn’t reflect her religious beliefs and it sure as heck wouldn’t have gone over big at Sunday School. It took her several weeks of staring at that book on her mantel before she could pick it up again. After all that time, she finally came to realize that my novel was just that, a story. And once she did read it, she felt the need to email me about how silly she felt and how From My Cold Young Fingers has now become one of her favorite novels of all time.
A charitable Christian group I work with also questioned this book. Somehow my story’s variation on the standard beliefs came up in discussions. No one was mad, but the fact that they felt the need to mention it to me caught me completely by surprise. Does this mean that every time Stephen King writes a novel, he has to explain that he doesn’t really believe in werewolves, witches, etc… (though maybe he does, and maybe one day he’ll be the one everyone calls “Maine’s Other Author”J).
So, the answer to why my fictional heavenly place is different than other views of Heaven is simple: it’s not real. It was intended as entertainment only. Sure, I’m flattered by people who say they hope my Under-Heaven does exist. But, all religious beliefs aside, I’ll be happy if Nate, Aunt Alice and Grandma Clara become your fictional friends the same way they have become mine.

Thanks so much, NookgirlPA, for your pleasant review of From My Cold Young Fingers.

Her review…

««««« (5 out of 5 stars) April 1, 2011 at Barnes and Noble 

Great Book!

I just finished reading this book. Unfortunately it had to end. It was one of the best books I have read in a long time. I would recommend this book to anyone. It definitely makes you think about your own beliefs and even believe a little deeper after reading it. You will not be disappointed!! Loved it!

In the next blog (Wednesday June 29nd): a girl abuses cats and a baby, my review of The Killing’s season finale on AMC, a definite release date for Bones in the Tree and more….

Thanks for spending another few minutes with me. I remain your most loyal friendJ!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Corpses Wrapped in Dirty Sheets…

An infestation of bats, toilet paper down river, a wizard’s battle sneak peek, Fat Duck - a genius, Falling Skies might fall, Island Gal talks Santa, and more…

Poverty makes for interesting housing: Of all the emails I receive, the most surprising to me are the ones commenting about my childhood experiences. It seems that people enjoy hearing about true stories, especially when they show what an unusual childhood I lived.
My dad never made it past the eighth grade, which meant that in the world’s eyes he wasn’t qualified for a decent paying job. In Maine, in the 1960s, junk cars and broken machinery could often be found beside the road and in fields next to every other home. My father spent his days tracking down the land owners, getting permission to pick up these old iron hulks he would then sell to a salvage yard for barely enough money to support his family, which included my four-year-old self and two young sisters.
We lived in an old, dilapidated farmhouse with no heating system, only cold water and an outhouse. The electricity didn’t work much of the time, sometimes because the bill wasn’t paid and other times because the rural lines were down. One winter, when a predicted three-inch snowstorm turned into an angry four-foot nor’easter, the snow drifted so high we could only see outside from the second floor windows. My dad had to dig a tunnel just to get out the front door. This particular storm coincided exactly with my younger brother’s due date, which meant for four days my mother lived knowing that if she went into labor, there would be no medical help.  
Fortunately, nature—or my brother—held off for another few weeks.
Knowing that we couldn’t live like that any longer, my dad did the best he could and arranged the purchase of a rundown building in the city. It stood on a corner lot, sandwiched between a huge warehouse and a railroad track. Riddled with issues that ranged from dangerously steep stairways, to numerous past fires to an infestation of bats, it wasn’t the greatest place to raise a family.
Only a few thousand feet from the Androscoggin River, which was a literal open sewer at that time, our neighborhood often smelled bad enough to make visitors gag. I remember many days sitting on the river bank and watching clumps of toilet paper and brown foam churn over the falls and bob downriver like corpses wrapped in dirty sheets.
Our new home wasn’t all bad, though; by the time my youngest brother and sister were born (there were six of us then), I had made a few friends and had found that life in the city at least offered a nearby park and a library. Unfortunately, the fighting between my parents had grown worse. In an attempt to escape the insane screaming and sometimes physical battles, my older sister and I moved upstairs into the two ancient rooms on either side of the open attic where bats and lord knew what else resided. Several mysterious and dark crawl spaces also haunted our imaginations.
I remember waking one particular night in my room on the railroad side of the building. I had long since grown used to sleeping through the vibration and noise of the passing freight trains, but when I woke and jumped bolt upright in bed, I knew something was wrong. A cold breeze whipped through my room. Confused, I looked around and realized that my entire window was gone. The passing train must have shaken it loose from its frame. I poked my head out to see thousands of glass shards strewn across the sidewalk four stories below me.
Tired and cold, I sat down on the floor, pulled my blankets around me, and stared out past the railroad bridge at the distant moonlit rooftops.
It was a beautiful night.

Fat Duck’s perfect day: Every few blogs, I find myself wanting to report that Fatty has reached some new pinnacle of success, that he has somehow exceeded the expectations of not just myself but of his growing legion of fans. Well, yesterday was that day.
I went out onto the porch at the usual time of around eight in the morning and opened his cage. I then tossed him several fresh slices of bread to eat in peace before I flung the rest of the loaf out to Original Duck and his twenty or so Canadian visitors. Too impatient to wait for Fat Duck to finish breakfast, I went inside and immediately got caught in a string of phone calls.
An hour and a half later, I reemerged on the porch to see Fatty had waddled about forty feet from the side porch to the front porch where he was now resting comfortably next to the front door. Confused, I retraced my steps and realized there wasn’t a single duck poop anywhere along his trail.
Knowing for sure he was sitting on a mess, I returned to the front and gently urged him to fly down into the yard with the rest of the outdoor children. For once, he didn’t balk and instead gracefully flew over to his hay bale to begin his day’s work as our lawn ornament.
I hardly noticed, however, because there wasn’t even one mistake anywhere on the porch. Fat Duck had been on the porch for nearly two hours and hadn’t made a single mess.
I knew he was special and almost certainly a genius of his species!
This morning, I let Fat Duck out of his cage and went inside to answer some emails while he finished breakfast.  Half an hour later, I returned to the porch to see not one, not two, but five separate poops leading like breadcrumbs around the corner of the porch. And, there, sitting proudly by the front door was my little white friend perched on top of yet his sixth present of the morning.
He’s special alright.

My Review of Falling Skies, (2-hour pilot episode) TNT television show starring Noah Wyle, produced by Stephen Spielberg.
My rating «« (two out of five stars)
On the cusp of being mediocre or worse..., 23 June 2011
I should first say that I’ve been working some ridiculous hours, almost to the point of unmanageable, so when I sat down to watch this show the first time, I fell asleep within the first twenty minutes. Fortunately, a kind soul recently invented the DVR so all was not lost. I successfully finished the show the next night and thought it was okay but definitely just that.
Noah Wyle stars as Tom Mason, the father of three boys, who have all survived the first wave of alien invaders here on Earth (Massachusetts, to be exact). Sometime before the show opens, one of Tom’s sons has been kidnapped and enslaved by an alien “collar” that looks like nothing so much as a giant cockroach pressed against his spine and neck. With much of the population dead, Tom finds himself and his remaining teen son pressed into service in a last ditch human military resistance. His youngest boy seems to have been tossed into a few scenes as a failed attempt at emotionally hooking the audience.  
I’d like to tell you that something amazing beyond the typical post-apocalyptic fare happens, but I’m sorry to say that the ragtag group of 100 freedom fighters lead 200 civilians through the typical landscape of abandoned cars and burnt-out buildings. The acting seems for the most part to be half-hearted and the costumes and overall cast appearance can best be described as disheveled and uninspired. The casting of Will Patton as the tough-as-nails military leader is especially notable for its lack of originality. Patton is effectively playing an alter-ego of the similar but villainous military group leader he played in Kevin Costner’s post-apocalyptic movie The Postman (1997).  
Effectively this show represents Stephen Spielberg’s War of the Worlds for TV minus a major network budget. I would have been forced to rate this lower, but summer is always slow for supernatural or alien shows and Noah Wyle has done some incredible TV in the past, so I’m holding out hope that he and the producers can somehow rise above the obvious budget limitations and deliver something more than what has started out to be moderately watchable drivel.  

Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End, update: I fear you may all be disappointed that I don’t have the exciting news I was hoping for. I learned this morning that edits are still incomplete and likely won’t be available to me for at least another few days to maybe two weeks. I also have not received the next round of edits for Ripped From My Cold Young Fingers, which gives me at least another few days to finish up my Bones in the Tree story. With some luck, it will be available sometime next week. I’ll update you in Sunday’s blogJ.
I did want to leave you with a small excerpt from Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End however. Here it is…
“Zach, hurry!” Though his father hollered, his voice could barely be heard over the harsh sounds all around them. Surprisingly strong for a small man, his father nearly ripped his good arm out of its socket as he pulled him through the doorway.
“Get into the bathroom!”
Zachary hurried to do as asked and ducked as a bat with blood red eyes hurtled past his head. It made a sickening splatter as it struck someplace in the bedroom behind him.
“Enough!” Zachary’s father shouted in a voice so loud it made Zachary’s ears hurt. Another bat bounced off the hallway wall and hurtled toward them, but his father chanted something and a bolt of blue light burst out of the wand and struck it in mid-flight. Blinded from the flash, Zachary heard the bat fall in wet thump on the hallway floor not far from him. The air was filled with the sickly smell of charred flesh. He felt his father’s hands thrust him into the bathroom and he heard the door pulled shut.

“Lock it!” his father ordered.

Ashamed to leave his father alone with the bats but too terrified to do anything but obey, Zachary groped along the door and forced his trembling fingers to turn the lock. Then, he backed away until his cast struck the towel rack on the back. Pain vibrated through his arm like a hammer struck cymbal. He fought the need to scream, but couldn’t stop the breath that came and went in great gasps. Needing to hear what was going on, he clamped his good hand over his mouth and tried to block the sound of his own sobs.

“Krage, I’m done with this!” his father bellowed.
Simultaneously, a flash framed the bathroom door with a blinding blue stripe. Then everything went black again. Something heavy thumped into the door. Zachary feared for the worst.
“Dad?” he whispered. Then more loudly, “Dad!”
There was an explosion of glass, from the living room maybe, and loud crashing and banging sounds reverberated from all over the apartment. Suddenly, another flash of blue light left spots of blue light swimming in Zachary’s eyes after everything went dark again. Something was different this time, though; the darkness was accompanied by silence. No crashing, no wind, nothing. Zachary could hear his own heart beating in his ears.
The knob jiggled.
“Get away from there!” his father hollered from somewhere in the kitchen.
Blue light flashed again revealing dark curls of smoke, and something like a heavy boot struck the bathroom door. Zachary coughed and grabbed for a towel to cover his nose and mouth from the smoke that was making it hard to breathe. He heard feet run past the bathroom door.
“Tell Krage I’m coming for him!” his father yelled. “Tell him I’m coming!”

Thanks, Island Gal, for your positive review of The Santa Shop (Paperback)
Her review…
««««« (five out of five stars)
Poignant and uplifting, June 15, 2011
Tim Greaton has written an incredible book. It takes the reader on a journey through twelve months with a man whose life takes a tragic turn on Christmas Eve. His self-imposed guilt, surrounding that evening, weighs him down until he decides to take his own life. What happens at that moment shows us how we are magically tied together as humans. How every thoughtful thing we do, or say, to each other, can help lift another person up from the depths of depression. Can inspire them to do something positive with their life. And may save their life.
The Santa Shop is a truly inspirational book. J.

My Thanks: I once dreamt of writing for a living. Though a lot of my time is spent writing for nonprofit corporations and charities around the country, work that is incredibly fulfilling and that I will continue to do long after it is required on my end, each and every day more of my income comes directly from readers of my books. Please know that I couldn’t be more sincere in my appreciation.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Suicide Bridge…

Bones still dangling, from Fat Duck to Wise Duck, Mistress of the Dark Path cries over Santa, a kid stupidly climbs to the top of a bridge, Air Force fighters ground another flight…

Stories & Books: I’m sorry to report that my latest story Bones in the Tree is not yet complete—even in first draft. I don’t know where the weeks go, but I certainly could use a couple of extra days each week.
Some rocking good news, however: as many of you know, last week was my best week in digital book sales. This week we tied it! And it has been an amazing week of great reviews, too. Is it possible that next week will be even betterJ?
Thank you everyone! I couldn’t do it without loyal readers who keep spreading the word.
Really, THANK YOU!

Understanding Fat Duck: I’ve often thought that understanding animals is a key to being able to take care of them. In Fat Duck’s case, I’m pretty sure that yesterday I passed the understanding test.
When it comes to living in the moment, I’m convinced that Fat Duck takes that philosophy to a whole new level. Watching him sit on his hay bale for hours on end, you might be inclined to think he is pondering the great questions of existence, and you might be convinced he would better be named as Wise Duck. However, I’ve come to believe that the majority of his meditation time is spent wondering who those people keep calling “Fat Duck” and why “Original Duck” has more girlfriends than he does (it’s all about speed, by the way).
So yesterday when Fat Duck found his way up onto the porch just before bedtime, my wife asked me if he would let her pet him. My answer was “Don’t do it; you’ll just make him poop.”
Well, she did…and he did…and I went and uncoiled the hose, AGAINL.
Sometimes, I hate it when I’m right.

My week: I had a crazy busy week filled with a bunch of successful projects. The problem is that there are just so many projects that no matter how many I get done, there are so many more I’d like to do. I could be cloned a dozen times and not fully accomplish my wish list (not that I would clone by the way; it didn’t work out so well for Michael Keaton in MultiplicityJ).
Among the completed home projects were taking some old furniture to the transfer station, providing my daughter with four chairs for her kitchen (they had a table but no chairsL), successfully disassembling the top of my windmill and putting together a repair plan for which I’ll gather the rest of the needed parts this week, and helping a friend with some landscaping that needs to get done before hot weather settles in and kills any chance of growing healthy new grass. I also was able to give away a nice love seat to friends who can use it (they’ll pick it up this coming week).
Professionally, it was a great week. I got lots of amazing charity work done. Unfortunately, I missed my own completion wish date for the Bones in the Tree story, but time is a limited commodity and I was just plum out. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’ve somehow grown the story from six pages to almost thirty pages. As I mentioned on a Facebook post, there’s probably a reason I’m known more as a novelist than a short story writerJ.

News – Why are our Airlines so incapable of handling Stir-Crazy Passengers? A few weeks ago, a United Airlines passenger whacked someone in front of them for reclining back in their seat too far. This is only one of many accounts of passengers getting out of hand thousands of feet above ground, but in this case the altercation led U.S. Air Force fighter jets to actually escort the Ghana-bound flight back to Dulles International Airport in Washington.
Of course, we understand why the slightest whisper of the word bomb, explosion, or terrorism sends our airplanes bolting for the nearest safe landing haven, but what about mothers who make their kids cry, men who get mad because the wrong soda is served or passengers who scuffle over an over-reclined seat?
Let’s leave aside for the moment the question of why an airplane seat can recline far enough back to actually bother the person behind it and instead address the simple question of why airline staff can’t control these situations that would be little or no problem in a restaurant, post office, or even a movie theater. I’ve seen movie attendants approach disruptive groups of people and calm them down with just a few words, and I’ve watched a postal worker—somehow—calm a customer raging on about the wrong colored stamps. But for some reason, our flight crews seem to have only one response to anything exceeding an irritated grumble: ground the flight.
For those of you that don’t know, sending a flight back to its original airport or ditching it at an interim site can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to as much as thirty thousand dollars, not to mention the lost time and money for all the passengers of that and other flights that are backed up and delayed. I haven’t even a clue how you would also calculate the cost of the fighter jets needed for the flight in question above.
Here’s what I say, let’s install at least one special seat on every airplane. Let’s enclose it with bars, put a burly Air Marshal in that spot for every flight, and install a special sign on the ceiling. Then the next time some bonehead temporarily loses his or her mind, he or she can trade places with the Marshall and the DUNCE sign can be turned on along with permission for everyone to photograph and film them in their predicament. After a few dozen of these folks find their angry pusses streaming into laughing living rooms all over the world, I suspect the Marshals won’t have to trade seats too many times in the future.  

Is there really a “Christmas Leap” like I described in The Santa Shop? Over the years, I have heard of various locations around the country that have had multiple suicide deaths (like the Empire State Building) but Christmas Leap is a fictional place in the fictional town of Gray, Vermont. I hope, however, that the overhead steel bridge and that steep ice-clogged ravine are as real to my readers as they were to me when I wrote them.
I will tell you that a very similar bridge in Maine (the one photographed and ultimately shown in the first edition cover of The Santa Shop) is real. I’ll also tell you that one cold September night a certain fourteen-year-old boy with a name strangely similar to mine foolishly scaled the top of that forty- or fifty-foot-tall bridge. It was pitch-black and I was alone—which begs the question: what the hell was I trying to prove and to whom? The wind was gusting that night, and at the top of the bridge a seagull was squatting, refusing to move. As I crouched, hand gripping the cold steel frame, I remember having only one over-riding thought: knowing what an idiot I was.
So, for me, it wasn’t hard to write that scene. I still remember those ice-cold rivets burning into my palms and wind whipping at my back as I looked down at the cold rushing river that glittered like black tar below me. Had that seagull not moved, or worse, attacked me, The Santa Shop might well never have been written.
Thinking back on all of this, I would again suggest that every scene, every character, every event in any of my books is in some way a direct result of the life I’ve lived. And I’m so very thankful that I got a chance to tell these stories. Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay for the stupidity of that night with my life, but I’m sure there have been other less lucky children who have died for even less stupid things.
My heart goes out to all of them and all of their families.

Thanks so much, Susan A… for a touching glimpse of your personal history and your kind review of The Santa Shop.

Her review…

««««« (5 out of 5 stars) June 17, 2011 

An emotional story that will stay with you...

We tried to hang in there that first year. My father attempted to play the dual role of mom and dad, but eventually his depression caught up with him. Alcohol became his alternative and what money we had went toward feeding that need in him to drown out his sorrows. Our Christmas' became a decorated tree with little or nothing under them. Every year, I would cry myself to sleep and mourn the loss of my mother who had always known how to make holidays so special. By the time I had reached fourteen, it became too much. I planned ahead and saved every dollar I had, usually it wasn't much, maybe twenty or thirty total. Then, just a couple days before Christmas, I would go to whatever store was within walking distance to purchase little gifts for my brother and father. I wrapped these meager offerings up and placed them under the tree with the order they not be opened until the appropriate time.

Once Christmas eve had arrived, I would drag my brother to the living room and awaken my father from his drunken stupor. Under my supervising eye, they would open those gifts and each might give a smile. It wasn't much, but somehow I had to make the holiday better for them. They had both fallen to depression, drinking, and other things by this time and I was the only one hanging on. In some way, I was trying to give them a bit of happiness. Then, after the wrapping was cleaned up, my father passed out again, and my brother back in his room, I would go off alone to cry. I had done what I could. All the holidays until I left home seemed to pass this way with only one or two minor exceptions.

That first Christmas when I was eighteen years old was spent in Army barracks in North Carolina. I had just arrived at my unit two months before and only the soldiers who had been in the unit longer were given leave to go home. Perhaps not more than a dozen or so of us were left and I didn't know the others. I sat in my barracks room with its ugly cinder-block walls, once again depressed and even more alone than ever before. Then someone started pounding on all the doors, ordering us out into the hallway. We stumbled out, it was perhaps around 7pm so most hadn't gone to sleep, yet it was dark outside already. They told us all to go to the barracks entrance steps. I didn't want to and argued against it, but they told me it wasn't an option. To my surprise, upon reaching the entrance, a gathering of families were outside singing Christmas carols for us. It was a very cold night, yet they braved it to give us a little cheer. We even received cookies as a small gift. The children smiled so happily, knowing us soldiers needed that extra lift for the holiday. For ten minutes they stood there, just singing in chorus, in the cold, before moving on to the next building. It touched my heart to see people who selflessly came out on their holiday evening to show that they remembered us. The soldiers who sat alone in the dreary old barracks. Maybe they will never know how grateful I was for that kindness, but I hope they did.

So you are probably wondering why I related my story to you. Well, if it touched you at all, then this book will as well. It is about depression, Christmas miracles, and people giving out of the goodness of their hearts. I couldn't read this all in one sitting. It brought out my own memories and caused tears to pour forth from my eyes. I had to walk away from it a couple of times, but always felt compelled to come back and read more. It touched me deeply and I'm glad I read it. For this reason, I'm giving it five stars. Any author that can write a story that pulls so deeply at my heart is truly talented. You will not be sorry for having read this story. It is truly a beautiful tale.

In the next blog (Wednesday June 22nd): a bedroom window crashes four stories to the sidewalk below, my review of Falling Skies the new Spielberg’ TNT TV series, exciting news about Bones in the Tree and Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End (I hope)  and more….

Thanks for so graciously investing your time with meJ!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Friend Died…

I cried writing this blog, how you can succeed, the most powerful sci-fi ever written, Special Education for Fatty, a Bones in the Tree sneak peek, MountainMama’s conspiracy review, and more…

A Dead Duck: Something just occurred to me this past week as I fed the dozen wild ducks currently visiting our pond and brook. Is it possible that I do it to relieve my guilt? Let me explain…         
Possibly because my mother didn’t want him to, my father gave me a baby duck for Easter when I was about six or seven years old. Since we lived in a Maine city, not a particularly suitable environment for ducks, my mother had probably been right. My parents did own their own home but our lot was small, probably less than a quarter acre, and it sat on the corner of two streets. Just one look at the fuzzy yellow bird, and I was instantly committed to making him safe and happy. That first day, my little duck followed me everywhere. If I went around the house, he waddled after me. If I went into the yard next door, my little duckling would race as fast he could to keep up. To say I was smitten would have been a gross understatement. Enchanted might have been a better word, and that enchantment grew stronger with each day.
For the next three weeks, if I was home, my little duck and I were together. Our house was only two blocks from the corner store and about the same distance from a nearby park, and my little duck happily followed me to either location or any other place I had a mind (and permission) to go. I can still remember his little quacking grumbles when I would go too fast and his happy squeaks when I would stop and pick him up.  
Three weeks to form a bond. Three weeks to learn about companionship, loyalty and unconditional love. And three weeks, to have it all shattered—ripped away along with a big chunk of my childhood innocence.
I, of course, was committed to keeping my little duck safe. I kept his nighttime box filled with lots of grass, some bugs to eat, a bowl of water, and I had placed that box on the floor right beside my bed. Nothing was going to happen to my little friend.
“Maybe I could sleep with him,” I told my mother on several occasions. “He might be cold all alone in his box.”
“No,” she told me. “He’s got warm feathers and will be fine right where he is.”
I wish I could tell you what I used to cover his box that fateful night, what I used to cover his box any night. More importantly, I wish I could go back in time and help that timid little boy to make a better decision, show him how to protect his tiny friend and himself, but instead all I can do is remember with deep sadness. Sometime during that night, my little duckling, who obviously missed his boy, found his way out of that box. And, once out, he managed to flap or crawl or hop up into my bed.
Looking back, I pray that little duck found some semblance of peace and comfort when he snuggled up to his little boy. What my mother probably realized, and what that boy and his duck were soon to learn, was that little ducks can’t survive the weight of a person rolling on top them, not even a little person like I was back then.
When woke early that morning, I panicked not finding my duckling in his box. The cover was off and he was gone. I searched under the bed, under the bureau, in the closet and out in my brothers’ and sisters’ rooms. But it wasn’t until I returned to my own room to start searching all over again that I realized a fuzzy little bird was snuggled dead against my pillow.
Every few days, I write about Fat Duck, Original Duck and sometimes about the Canadian mallard visitors that will visit us more and more frequently when cold weather sets in. I feed them, I talk about them and I enjoy them.
I think karma has likely forgiven me for my crime, but it never lets me forget. That’s probably why tears are streaming down my cheeks as I type this public goodbye to my little duckling friend. If only I had known more, if only I had paid more attention, if only…if only….
I wish that we had had more time, my little duckling and me. I wish that we could have been friends for a little longer. But, instead, it has to be enough that he’s still in my heart.

The Magic of Success: Success. It's a neck of a term, but what does it mean? And why do some people appear to achieve it, while many others do not?
Some people might say that success is fortune. Others might say fame. And yet others would, no doubt, insist that wonderful relationships are what it’s all about. What do you think? All of the above, or none of the above? I suspect that I'm with you; I think that a fair share of all of the above is closest to true.
The next logical question would be: how do you know when you're there? I think the answer lies not in an actual tally of net worth or total number of close friends. No I think it is more a matter of knowing oneself, knowing what you would need to feel fulfilled.
So how do you find out what you really need? Here's a simple exercise that appears to work as well as any. Take out a pencil and several sheets of ruled paper. For the next fifteen minutes write everything you could possibly want, have wanted or might want in the future. Everything, no matter how crazy or off the wall.
Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?
Now go through that list and pick the five things that excite you the most. Don't worry that you couldn't possibly do that or worry that a particular goal would take too long to achieve; just pick the five things that excite you the most. Once you have those five things, pick the one goal that sends a chill down your spine, the one that even stands above the other four. Write it on an index card and put it in your pocket.
Now, you might wonder where the magic comes in. Here it is. Here's the difference between those who gain great personal success and those who don't…
Keep your card with you and read it every day until you really believe you can make that goal come true (and you can!) Then add one final simple ingredient—GO MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Welcome to the magic.

Fat Duck is SPECIAL: Okay, I think we can all agree that I’m a bit of a softy for animals in general and for Fat Duck, in particular. And the reason I think it’s important to state this from the outset is because I have to be honest here: Fat Duck has some issues. It’s true, they’re not his fault. And it’s also true that, issues aside, he does pretty well. But we just have to face a few undeniable facts. Case in point…
Fat Duck got confused not once, but twice, in the last few days. As near as I can tell, he forgot that his hay bale (hangout) is in the front yard. Here’s what happened: two mornings in a row, we have had between ten and a dozen wild ducks stopping in for breakfast. That means that when I let Fatty out of his pen on the porch and shoo him down onto the driveway to eat alongside Original Duck, there have been too many extra bills to feed, and Fat Duck is waaay to slow to get to the bread before his smaller, wilder competitors snatch it away. So, Fat Duck gives up and flies a few feet toward the barn rather than fight over breakfast. Unfortunately, once he flies in the wrong direction, he never seems to remember what the right direction is. I felt bad for him both mornings and herded him toward his hay bale until he remembered and hopped on. This morning, I got smart and fed him privately in his pen before letting him loose. Stomach full, mind clear, he flew straight and true toward the bale.
Yes, Fat Duck is special, but together we have apparently come up with a solution that keeps my hay and duck lawn ornament intact J.

My Review of Ender’s Game, an award winning novel by Orson Scott Card.
My rating ««««« (five out of five stars)
Possibly the most powerful science-fiction story ever written..., June 15, 2011
I first read this novel back in the mid- to late-80s, shortly after it first came out as a novel (it started as an award-winning novella in 1977). I was absolutely blown away. Maybe it happens when a person comes up through a traumatic childhood, as I did, but seeing a fictional child like Ender tested to such a horrifying degree, and seeing him endure and fight on no matter what the odds, was awe-inspiring.

And that's just my review of Orson Scott Card's protagonist. This novel is so much more than just Ender Wiggin. It's a future world populated by believable people and believable events. It's a ruthless world, much like our own, but it's a world that presents hope, even if through a dystopian lens.
Ender Wiggin was specially bred into a family of three genius children. For personality reasons, he is the only one of the three that is chosen by the Defense Department to be trained as a soldier in the upcoming and inevitable war with the alien Bugger species. Through snippets of conversations outside of Ender's experience we begin to understand that Ender may be the only human being on Earth that is qualified to save our planet. As the story unfolds, we also learn that for him to grow into his abilities in time, he must be pushed and prodded and, yes, even punished, whatever might be required to temper him into the human weapon that can defeat an interstellar army that outnumbers us ten if not hundreds to one.
The training that poor boy Ender endures makes today's video games look like Pong. The action battle sequences are amazing and seem so real that I suspect a version of the author's invented teaching methods are possibly in use at military academies today. I've read this book multiple times over the last twenty-five years, and I expect I'll still be rediscovering its power in the next twenty-five.
Read this book, experience its emotional depth and power, and let a master storyteller blow you away with an ending that is without equal.

Ripped From My Cold Young Fingers, update: As you all know, I have completed my first of four review edits and am waiting for my next round. I’m told I’ll likely receive my first Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End edit to review on Monday, so this week I have been working on two stories and an article, which you’ll be seeing soon. Below is an excerpt from the first draft of the first storyJ.

Bones in the Tree, an excerpt (first draft, please forgive the many mistakesJ):
Tombstones in the backyard. Uck!
Trust me, I know how creepy that sounds, but it’s true. Somehow my father and mother got permits to have their own private cemetery fifty feet from their back deck. In Pasadena, California, something like this would have been unheard of, but apparently the State of Maine doesn’t do things quite the same way as the rest of the world. I guess when you live so far out in the woods, nobody really cares what you do.
It has been almost a year since my mother died of the same disease that took my father–lung cancer. It seemed almost amazing to me that neither Ray nor I had wound up with a similar problem, since we had grown up breathing my mother’s relentless secondhand smoke the same way my father had. When we were kids, she used to smoke four packs a day, which basically meant she had smoke coming out of her mouth from the time she got up in the morning until the time she went to bed at night. The shame is that my father had never smoked a cigarette in his life, at least not directly. Thanks to my mother, though, he inhaled hundreds of thousands of them over the forty-seven years they were married. Thinking about it made me wonder what would have happened if she had died first. Would he have craved the nicotine enough to get sick or maybe even start smoking himself? We would never know, because he found himself occupying space under the backyard tombstone five years earlier than she did.
I settled into one of the Adirondack Chairs my father had made before it became too hard for him to walk the fifty feet from the house to his workshop. For some reason, the chair seemed a lot more comfortable now than when I had sat in it during the one cookout I had actually shown up for since quitting community college a decade earlier. I could still envision my father wearing that silly John Deere chef’s hat as he expertly flipped burgers and hot dogs for my brother Ray and me. “Eat, eat,” he said to me several times that weekend. “It’ll put a little meat in those pecks.” I smiled. My dad knew I had always been insecure about my chest size, mostly because of the jerk I married who couldn’t keep his eyes off from anything larger than an A-cup. Little did my dad know that it wouldn’t be his burgers, but a surgeon named Andre, that would finally solve that problem for me. 
I chuckled at the irony and winced. I was still a little tender from having the damn implants removed almost 3 months to the day after Brian left me for one of his undergrad students, a girl with A-cups. I lifted my arm, stretched my left shoulder and gently massaged the scar under my chest. It was getting better, but I wouldn’t be playing volleyball anytime soon.
That earned another solitary chuckle.
Volleyball in Maine! That was about as likely as cell phone service north of the Auburn/Lewiston area, which is to say not likely at all. Horseshoes and square dancing was about as much physical activity as anyone typically got in Menyon Falls, and I wasn’t all that sure about the square dancing. From what I remembered of Maine, what little exercise most people got was from either making kids or chasing them. I had left too early to make any kids, even though the Robinson brothers and I had done our share of practicing.
Had anyone been in the backyard, I might have blushed.
An acorn struck the deck.
I kicked it off the deck that I had just swept that morning.
Just thinking about that twisted triangle of relationships made me feel like the biggest kind of tramp. Though I had never dated both brothers at the same time, I used to break up and swap one for the other on a regular basis. It made for some high drama in Menyon Falls; that much was sure. I could remember the brothers sending each other to the emergency room at least five times during my relationship juggling. When I finally moved away with my college writing professor, the brothers still hadn’t been talking. I probably should have felt guiltier, but the brothers, born almost nine months apart to the day, had been beating the tar out of each other as far back as first grade. And since I hadn’t dated either of them until we were in the fifth grade and hadn’t started swapping back and forth until seventh grade, I figured they were unlikely to have grown up as friends anyway.
What was I thinking? Ten years had passed. The brothers were probably both married and sharing family vacations by now. I was especially pleased that the thought didn’t cause me any jealous pangs. No, my romance with the Robinson brothers had ended when Peter came into my life.
Just the thought of his name made me want to scream and throw something. Who did he think he was! He’d picked me up like some novelty at a Maine gift shop, and then discarded me much the same way.
Two more acorns fell beside me, and I kicked them like soccer balls with all my might. The effort sent pangs right through the center of my ribcage.  I massaged both scars this time and wondered what kind of a man would want me now, after I’d maimed myself for that womanizing bastard! I didn’t know, but at least back here in Maine, Peter wouldn’t have a front row view of my failure to replace him. I leaned back in the chair that suddenly didn’t feel nearly as comfortable.
Suddenly, something occurred to me. The oak tree was at least seventy feet from the deck. With little to no wind, how were acorns falling all the way over here?
I stared up into the old oak tree that shaded most of my parents—my—back lawn. Ray had deeded his half of the house over to me before the probate court had even finished processing my parents’ meager estate. It was great of Ray, especially given that he didn’t yet own a home of his own. But he’d been in medical school and was now working on his residency at Maine Medical Center, so I suspected he could have purchased a much nicer home anytime he chose. Though he never said as much, I got the impression his roommate—mate—George was the reason he had put off any major purchase for so long. If I had to guess, George was still playing the field and driving Ray nuts with jealously. When the two of them picked me up at the Portland Jetport, the tension hung in the air like swamp fog. That was the longest most silent drive I could ever remember. When, two hours later, we finally drove up the long gravel driveway to my parents’ house, I have never felt so relieved. Next time, Ray would either come alone, or I’d take one of those scary four-seat airplanes from Portland to the tiny Farmington airport. A plane crash would definitely have been easier to take than the wreckage that Ray and George’s relationship had become. 
I was still staring up into the oak tree when I heard a chittering sound and saw an acorn come sailing out at me. I ducked and heard it the little nut smack loudly into the back of my father’s Adirondack chair.
“Hey you!” I yelled, trying to peer up through the heavy foliage to see the guilty party.
I saw a few leaves move and heard a noise that sounded strangely like a tiny animal snickering. After a few more minutes of being laughed at, I stomped into the house. I wasn’t sure who I was angrier at, Peter for forcing me to move back to this ridiculous state, or the owner of the tiny gray arm that flung another acorn at me just before I slid the patio door shut.

Thanks MountainMama for your amazing review of The Santa Shop (Kindle Edition)
Her review…
««««« (five out of five stars)
Poignant and uplifting, June 15, 2011
The Santa Shop by Tim Greaton is a poignant and uplifting story about one man's journey from the depths of despair and despondency to the dawn of redemption and recovery. Skip Ralstat lost his family in a fire. He blames himself for not being there to save them, and his guilt leads him to plan his own suicide by jumping from a bridge called Christmas Leap. Along the way his plot gets hijacked by the "Santa Conspiracy".
Well written and edited, Mr. Greaton has a wonderful talent for making his characters real, the dialog believable, and the locations familiar. You feel his pain and grief, you stand on the bridge with him, and you experience his awakening and hope. A beautiful story.

My Thanks: I once dreamt of writing for a living. Though a lot of my time is spent writing for nonprofit corporations and charities around the country, work that is incredibly fulfilling and that I will continue to do long after it is required on my end, each and every day more of my income comes directly from readers of my books. Please know that I couldn’t be more sincere in my appreciation.