Hot Diggity

So, today I get to reveal my cover! Go ahead and scroll down, take a gander, then come back here to read my commentary. Go! Go! Take a look!

I’m super (no pun intended) excited about the cover. Without giving spoilers from the first book, the cover for book two hints at several things.

In the first book, the gang were in their street clothes, standing on the ground. Not any more. As the cover shows, they’re now in super suits! You can bet they’re pretty excited about that, but Benny more so than just about anyone. Benny can do enough damage without a super suit, just imagine what he can do when he’s wearing one.

And it’s no mistake that they’re flying above the city. What is a superhero book without somebody flying?

Finally, who is that fourth character in the background? He’s in a super suit, so it’s clear he’s a superhero. I’ll give you a hint . . . he’s the one with the funny name.

So, there you have it. The second book in the SUPER series. I’m very excited for all of you to see where Rafter, Benny, and Juanita are headed, and the next adventure that awaits them.

Searching For Super Cover

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Rickroll: A Dish Best Served Cold . . .

I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to Rickroll my 14yo for four months. Every time I send him a link, he asks if it’s a Rickroll. He swore I would not be able to trick him.

Yesterday I sent him a picture of Rick Astley through the US postal service, and the words “Gotcha” written below it.

Today he sends me an e-mail with two words:

“Curse you.”

I think I win.

RickRoll

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Ten Rules for Making “Ten Rules” Lists

Rule #1 – People will only remember your first and last rule, so put the most important rules in those slots.

Rule #2 – If your rules are not entertaining or insightful, people will skip to rule #8 after reading the second rule.

RULE #3 – If people read Rule #3, they’ll certainly read Rule #4. So Rule #3 can be a throwaway.

Rule #4 – If the first three rules are entertaining, then people will pause here to share on Facebook Twitter. You can play a practical joke by putting something offensive in Rule #5 that will then shame the person and make them think twice before sharing things on social networks (we all win!).

Rule # 5 – Remember that any good “Ten Rules” list will always reference the Nazis.

Rule #7 – Nobody is counting after the first five rules, so you can skip a rule, if you don’t really have ten. No one will notice.

Rule #8 – If you came here from Rule #2, SCREW YOU!

Rule #9 – NOBODY remembers rule number nine because they’re all aquiver about getting to the last rule.

Rule #10 – Anybody can create a “Ten Rules” list. If the author is really helpful, and has half a brain, he will be able to take his list all the way up to eleven.

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Almost Super Cover Reveal

Hey all. I’m excited to reveal the cover to Almost Super!

Almost Super_final

Fantastic, isn’t it? Pete Oswald (who has worked on Paranoman and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) is the artist. He did a great job, and I can’t wait to see this on a shelf. I don’t have a firm release date yet, but it will likely be first part of next year.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Less is More

This year has been a rough one for me. A lot of changes. A lot of growing.

I’ve learned something. Stuff doesn’t make you happy. In fact, at least in my experience, it does the opposite. I honestly believe that when you bring “stuff” into your life, it makes your life heavier. It pins and wears you down.

I’ve recently lost most of my “stuff”. I’ve had to acquire new stuff. And almost without exception, every time I add something new to my collection of possessions, I feel it weighing me down.

It’s interesting. The act of purchasing something is exhilarating. There is a rush of excitement and power. I am in control of my world. I click a button and an item is hand delivered to my house.

But once that item comes into my house, I have to find a place for it. I have to maintain it. I have to move it so I can dust or vacuum. It takes up space. Every time I walk into a room, it’s there. I have to allocate mental capacity to it.

I think the nomads had it right. They had just enough stuff to pack up on a beast of burden and move. Sometimes I wonder if I could fit all my belongings in backpack, I’d be a happier person. I really do.

There are two exceptions to this rule. The first is food. It comes into the house, serves a purpose, and then is gone. The act of creating something with raw ingredients makes me happy. Even more so when I can share that creation with family members or friends.

The second exception is my computer. My computer opens up a new world. It allows me to connect with friends. I’ve never regretted buying my laptop.

To me, this just proves the obvious. It’s not stuff that brings us happiness. It’s people and relationships.

I don’t own much anymore, but I think today I’ll go through the house anyway. I think I’ll get rid of everything I possibly can.

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Sunday Morning

This morning I marched in a parade. Yes, that parade.

I was seventeen the last time I was in a parade. I carried a tenor sax and became dehydrated because I was in full band uniform.

I got dehydrated this time around as well, because I was wearing a suit.

I don’t like parades. I don’t like going to them, let alone marching in them. The heat, the crowds, the . . . social interaction. Give me a dusty bike trail or a small boardgame night with friends and family any day of the week.

But today I stepped way out of my comfort zone, and marched in a pride parade. I marched with a group of Mormons who went to share a simple message, “We love you.”

Although I marched in a group I drove to the parade alone. This almost made me turn back about a dozen times. I knew no one. There I was, walking down the street in a suit and tie, asking a woman in a leotard if she knew which way to the pride parade. I’m sure she wondered if I suffered from heat stroke.

But I found my people. I didn’t count, but wouldn’t be surprised if there was over 400 of us. Brothers and sisters and children, decked out in their “Sunday best”, carrying rainbow flags and signs. I think my favorite sign quoted a primary song.

I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you, that’s how I’ll show my love for you.

We were right behind the grand marshall, so second in line. As we marched, the crowed cheered, clapped, and at times even roared. I can only hope the love we were trying so desperately to show matched the love they showed us. A few images I will never forget:

A middle-aged woman in a tank top, stood on the sidelines, crying. She kept saying over and over, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” A woman marching next to me went over and embraced her.

A five-year-old girl, marched in front of me with a sign that said, “Free Hugs.” Many people took her up on the offer.

A man rode in a wheelchair with a walker on wheels attched to it. The walker was empty the entire time because the woman who supposedly needed it was bouncing back and forth to each side of the parade, waving and waving and waving.

I can’t explain why I felt compelled to go and march. I’m not gay. None of my immediate familiy members are gay, at least not that I know of. I’m told that the social, political, and religious issues surrounding homosexuality are complex. I won’t profess to be an expert on any of them. In fact, I’m pretty slow. I like things simple. One of my favorite parts of the bible is when Jesus boils everything down to two commandments. Only two.

Love God.

Love your neighbor.

On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets.

That I can understand.

With apologies to Thomas S. Monson: Miles were walked. Tears were shed. Bridges were built.

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The Ogden Half

Today I ran a half marathon. My goal was two hours or less.

The first half marathon I ran in 2:26. My goal then was to run without stopping. My second half marathon was 2:09. I’d only trained a couple of months, and was very pleased with my time. But it was so close to 2 hours, I had to set that as my next goal.

I’ve trained pretty hard for this race. Not as hard as I could have, but a good faith effort. I felt hopeful about my chances.

I ran what I thought was a goood pace the first half of the race. I was starting to feel tired, but thought if I’d made good time in the first half, I could slow down and still meet my goal. Checking my watch, I realized that I was running much slower than anticipated. If I wanted to finish this in two hours, I’d have to run faster in the second half than I had in the first. Faster. When I was already tired.

So I picked up the pace. I started feeling dizzy. I’d reach out for the water and powerade and my hands were shaking. My legs felt weak and I wondered if I would stumble. Still, I ran on, hoping to make up for lost time.

I finished the race. I didn’t know what my time was because I’d started my watch late. I couldn’t find where they posted the results, so I came home. A few minutes ago, I saw my time.

2:01:15

I missed my goal by 75 seconds. :)

The first five miles I ran a very slow 10:22. That’s just not pretty. I was saving up my energy, but had no idea I was going that slow. The second half of the race I ran a 9:11. I shaved a full 70 second off of every mile. If I’d been able to run 10 minute miles the first five miles, I would have met my goal. If I had not held anything back, I am sure I would have done it.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I discouraged? No.

I’m a writer. Writers deal with frustration, discouragement, and rejection all the time. You either learn to look past it, or you quit. I missed my goal by 75 seconds. I was close, but not close enough.

The Top of Utah Half Marathon is in August. That gives me three months.

On Monday I get back to work.

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Crossing the Line

Fiddler on the Roof is my favorite musical. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

Fiddler is about crossing the line. In the musical, it’s referred to as “Tradition”. Tradition is what helps the little community of Anatevka survive. They cook, clean, sew, barter, and live life in a certain way. Why? As Tevye will freely admit, “I don’t know.” It’s tradition.

But in the musical, Tevye must consider this traditional line. As the father of five daughters, one by one the three eldest want to marry, and one by one Tevye must consider the line of tradition. How far is he willing to go? Will he step over the line? One of the most powerful scenes of any movie is the scene where his third daughter, Chava is begging him to acknowledge her marriage outside of the faith. Tevye reasons back and forth with himself, using the phrase, “…on the other hand…”

He crossed the line with his two eldest daughters. He broke from tradition. But this is too much. This line he cannot cross. The music swells and he turns his back on his daughter while shouting, “NO! There is no other hand.”

And yet at the end of the movie, we receive a hint that Tevye is willing to cross even this line for the love of his daughter.

There are a lot of lines that shouldn’t be crossed. These lines allow us to work and live in peace. But every once in a while we realize society has created a line in the sand that exists only because of tradition. As society matures, we come to understand that some lines shouldn’t exist.

Sattelite, by Rise Against, is a favorite song of late. One line states, “You have to cross the line just to remember where it lays.”

I think I’d modify that sentiment just a little. But first I want to show you one of my favorite Normal Rockwell paintings.

So here is my final thought:

Sometimes we must cross the line; not to rebel, or to make a point, but to determine for ourselves if the line should even exist in the first place.

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The Man With No Name

A few days ago I went for a hike–Flag Rock above Farmington, Utah. Near the summit, I met a man coming down. I judged him to be in his mid-fifties. He was in excellent shape, and had a contagious smile. He wore shorts, a T-shirt, and a Denver Broncos hat that looked like it had seen many a sunny day.

“How’s it going?” he asked.

His smile was completely disarming–even affectionate. I didn’t know this man, but I was half tempted to shake his hand and tell him how nice it was to meet him.

“I’m doing well, how about you?”

“Doing great,” he said. “Have you done this trail before?”

Have I done this trail before. How to answer that? Should I tell him that I’d been going through some rough changes in my life? That this hike had been my escape when things got really bad? That I’d climbed to Flag Rock in the rain, in the snow, and in the middle of the night? That sometimes the only thing that cleared my head, and reminded me that I was alive, was the freezing wind turning the sweat on my beard to ice?

“Yeah. I’ve done this trail before,” I said.

Another smile. “Well then, you’ll be happy to know the north side is finally clear.”

“No more ice?” I asked. I usually came up the south side, and returned the same way. The north side was covered in slick ice, and could be treacherous.

“No more ice.” He said. It’s 95% gone. I also cleared all of the fallen trees and limbs except for one. It’s really beautiful, you should definitely go down that way.”

With a wave of his hand he was gone. The whole exchange had taken a minute.

I never caught the man’s name. From the summit, I saw him talking to another group heading up. He probably shared the same information. The same encouragement.

I walked down the north side, and it was in fact a beautiful hike. I decided I need to be more like this man whose name I never learned. I want to share information that helps people on their journey. I want to improve the trail, even if it’s only a little bit. Because every bit counts.

And when a lot of people all pitch in, even just a little, sometimes amazing things can happen.

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Truth, Questions, and Breaking

I like speculative fiction. It allows a context in which you can ask some interesting questions. You can look at a “truth”, and see how quickly it crumbles and falls. Consider the following.

Zombie apocalypse. You’re holed up in a cave. You have enough food for you and five other people to last through the winter. The only problem? There are twenty of you. What do you do? A “truth” would dictate that you respect all life. But these are desperate times.

Do you kill off all but five? Do you feed everybody and then all die? When you have a new context, truths that we would normally consider to be self-evident suddenly become anything but.

I ran the Snow Canyon half marathon and blogged about it here. In it I mentioned that Snow Canyon had beautiful scenery, but all I saw were the double yellow lines of the road. My mother asked me to write up an essay about the following truth:

TRUTH
Sometimes we get so caught up in the little things,
we miss the beautiful things around us.

This got me thinking about a second truth. One that applies to the same situation:

TRUTH
If you want to achieve your goal,
You can’t be distracted by shiny objects.

If I want to finish the race with a good time, I need to focus on the goal. I can come back to Snow Canyon at a later date. But also, it’s a shame to run through the beautiful Snow Canyon and only stare at the road.

One situation. Two truths. They seem to be at odds.

Let me give you one more example.

Consider the example of the oak and the reed. A harsh wind blows and blows. A mighty oak, which is rigid and strong, is blown over. The reed, on the other hand, bends with the wind and survives.

TRUTH
Sometimes it’s good to be flexible.

An example of this truth. My manuscript was complete at 80,000 words. My agent said I had to cut it down to less than 60,000. It was extremely painful to do. I cut a lot of great scenes. But in the end, by being flexible, we sold the book.

But what about this? Imagine you lived in a Small Town USA a few decades ago. A black family is moving into an all white neighborhood, and a petition is going around to keep that from happening. You don’t believe in the petition, but it’s much easier to be flexible. Otherwise, the neighbors may turn on you.

TRUTH
Sometimes being flexible is not an option.

TRUTH
Some truths are worth breaking over.

It’s important for people to stand up for what is truth. Unfortunately, we don’t have a manual of truths. We must each find our own truth, and then act accordingly.

Want to see somebody who has found a truth? Find a protester with a sign. Right or wrong (in your opinion), they’ve discovered a truth and are sharing it with others. They are standing strong for something they believe in.

One last thing. Standing firm doesn’t always appear noble to the world. Sometimes you might not know if the truth for which you stand is worth it. Sometimes when you’re broken, you feel like it’s exactly what you deserve. You just might question to your final breath whether or not you made the right choice.

I believe, that in the end, it’s all about truth. Search for truth. Find truth. And then act on it. Right or wrong, it’s the best we can do.

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