Saturday, April 23, 2016



Mackenzie Mortimer is back!  Sort of...

 Mackenzie Mortimer was a typical junior high geek: shy, awkward, and always late for class. There was never enough time to do everything he needed to do; after all, there are only 24 hours in a day. But when Mac found his grandfather’s pocket watch buried deep inside a trunk, he discovered his days have an extra hour. According to his grandfather's journal, the eccentric inventor's pocket watch can add up to 60 minutes to a single day by freezing time around whomever holds the watch and presses its button.

 In "The 25th Hour" (Book 1 of The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer), Mac confronted the mysterious time traveler who had been stalking him and his pocket watch was destroyed. Now Mackenzie Mortimer’s troubles are just beginning! Mac finds himself a stranger in a strange land, surrounded by familiar people he doesn’t really know, with only Gemma, a 15-year-old clone, to guide him through the labyrinth of the future. Will the mysterious black, iron key unlock the secrets to returning him home, or is it a harbinger of his impending doom?

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!  E-book and Print edition of The Tomorrow Paradox  (Book 2 of The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer) will be published on April 30!

Doves Are Crying

There is something about the Internet that brings out the worst in people. And then there are those individuals who are truly sick and demented and the Internet merely allows them to share their perversity with the world.

Death is about the most serious subject there is. It is feared because of its finality and its inevitability. We fear our own deaths, and we fear the deaths of those we love because we know the loss is permanent once the Grim Reaper’s scythe has severed the tenuous connection called life that binds us to one another.

In this respect, death is sacred in most cultures. Ceremonies honor the recently deceased and grave markers memorialize them for ages to come. Mourners “pay their respects” at funerals and cemeteries. Necrophilia and defiling of a corpse (even in wartime) is universally considered reprehensible and disgusting.

But on the Internet, it’s another story. When comedian Robin Williams died, some Twitter users posted Photoshopped images of her father's dead body on Zelda Williams’ account, along with disturbing messages including blaming her for her father's death. When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, the floodgates of cyberspace opened to a  of sea of vitriol. Social media lit up with comments celebrating and mocking the death of a public servant whose opinions and judicial philosophy were at odds with many (including my own), but who was a good man merely performing his job in a competent manner. Within hours of musician Prince’s death, a woman on my Facebook feed posted a cartoon of a heartbeat flatlining with the tagline “Princes new symbol.” She followed up with a photo of Prince tagged “He was a composer, now he’s a decomposer.” Many of her followers commented “Too soon” as if there were a moratorium on poor taste and disrespect.

Robin Williams, Antonin Scalia, and Prince were all celebrities, famous for having reached the pinnacle of success in their chosen professions. Maybe you didn’t care for Williams’ brand of humor, or Scalia’s jurisprudence, or Prince’s music— but they were each uniquely talented individuals and far more talented and accomplished than any of their posthumous online detractors. Celebrity elevates ordinary mortals to a god-like pantheon, whether that Mount Olympus is in Hollywood or the nation’s capital. They lead larger-than-life lives that the rest of us follow voyeuristically through a mosaic of tabloid gossip. While it’s true their lives are certainly far different from our own, lost in this truth is the reality that they too are people. Antonin Scalia had nine children and 28 grandchildren; I cringed at the thought of them reading the horrible comments other people had posted about their father and grandfather. You know those children are on social media; you know they saw those posts, just as you know Zelda Williams saw the post about her father. “In this difficult time, please try to be respectful of the accounts of myself, my family and my friends,” the 25-year-old pleaded on Twitter. Contrast that appeal with the sentiment of journalist Glenn Greenwald’s tweet “Don't even try to enforce the inapplicable don't-speak-ill-of-the-dead ‘rule’ for the highly polarizing, deeply consequential Antonin Scalia.”

Every celebrity is nonetheless a real person, with real family and real friends who love them and feel their loss as deeply as you would one of your own. I cannot imagine how I would feel coming home from a funeral and reading such comments about a loved one I had just buried. Can you?

It’s called human decency. It’s what separates compassionate individuals from sociopaths who lack empathy. So I take issue with Glenn Greenwald, whose work I have praised in the past. In this instance, the Internet has brought out the worst in him. But I save my condemnation for those individuals who are truly sick and demented who choose to reveal themselves to us online by sharing their perversity at times when the rest of the world, humbled by death, displays compassion and empathy for those who remain. Free speech is not a license to be an asshole. As the late Prince once said, “Too much freedom can lead to the soul’s decay.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Big Interviews

A while back, I asked you to send in questions for me to answer. I've received a few but we need lots more, so keep the questions coming. In the meantime, here’s one I’ve received:

 Q: Who are some of the well-known people you’ve interviewed? Who would you like to interview? Which historical figures do you wish you could have interviewed?

A: Oh gosh. There’ve been so many. The ones that come to mind are Vincent Price – I spent an entire day with him, an absolutely lovely man and fascinating on so many levels; Zsa Zsa Gabor – we had lunch and she actually called me “dahling”; Valerie Harper – a very down-to-earth woman; Martin Mull; Steve Cauthen – the youngest jockey to win the Triple Crown; Gene Roddenberry; Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz; fantasy authors L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter; science fiction writers Leigh Brackett, Jack Williamson, R.A. Lafferty, and Alan Dean Foster; a lot of the Carter White House staff like Midge Constanza. Senators and governors… A lot of politicians. One of my prized possessions is a photo I took of Jimmy Carter when I was covering his campaign that I had him autograph years later.

As for whom I’d like to interview, that’s probably an ever-changing list but I look for people who based on their life experience have an interesting story to tell or a different perspective from which to tell it. A key factor would be whether I could ask that interviewee questions no one else would be able to answer. Questions you simply couldn’t pose to anyone else but that these individuals were uniquely suited to answer. I think Monica Lewinsky would give a fascinating interview. I’d love to interview Edward Snowden, who has become our century’s “Man without a Country”. I’ve written about the remarkable Malala Yousafzai but she is also incredibly articulate and intelligent and I think she still has quite a bit to say to the world. Pope Francis would be wonderful to interview; he strikes me as a man straddling two worlds, with one foot in each. I have tremendous admiration, and am often in awe of, Richard Engel – his incredible knowledge of the various Middle East cultures is matched only by his unbelievable courage. He not only has an outsider’s unique yet informed perspective of that region but I’m certain many captivating stories to match. In a similar vein, Ross Kemp has voluntarily thrust himself into incredibly dangerous situations and seen things most of us would have nightmares about for years to come, so he would be at the top of my list as well. As a writer, I would like to interview Harlan Ellison, whose work and personage I have admired for a long time. Although I’ve met Harlan, we never discussed the craft of writing and that’s a discussion I would enjoy having.

Revving up the time machine, who would I interview? Bobby Kennedy; Abraham Lincoln; John F. Kennedy; Benjamin Franklin; Albert Einstein; Lee Harvey Oswald; Jack Ruby; William Shakespeare; Charles Dickens; Leonardo da Vinci; Julius Caesar; Augustus; Claudius; Epicurus. Perhaps a roundtable discussion with Lady Jane Grey, Mary Queen of Scots, Joan of Arc, and Anne Frank. Finally, I think I’d like to interview my younger self about the kind of man he thought he would grow up to be and see how far from that mark I may have strayed. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Making the Sausage

A while back, I asked you to send in questions for me to answer. Here’s one I’ve received:

 Q: Most authors blogs are devoted to the topic of writing but you hardly ever talk about writing. Why is that?

A: Three reasons. First, I think seeing how the sausage is made takes the enjoyment out of consuming it. A good story should flow unobtrusively and leave an impression on the reader. Unless they themselves are aspiring writers, readers don’t want to know about the writer’s efforts in writing and marketing his or her work. They don’t want to hear about the editing and the proofreading, what the beta readers said, the book’s Amazon rank, or hassles with distributors and wholesalers. It’s not about the business side or even the creative process. Readers want to be entertained or informed.

Second, I think my blog would become quite boring if all I wrote about was writing in general or my writing in particular. Naturally, I want you to buy my books — that’s why have pictures of them with links to purchase them throughout my blog. But the attraction of my blog, in my opinion, is the diversity of topics. One day my blog may feature a bit of whimsy and the next it may delve into a serious topic of social concern. To paraphrase Forest Gump, my blog is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’ll get.”

I’ve covered the pharmaceutical industry, environmental crises, the Trayvon Martin shooting, Internet law, political science, healthcare, mass shootings, education, privacy, the Ebola virus panic, the death penalty, racism, political correctness, and terrorism to name a few topics. But I’ve also written television and book reviews, and lighthearted fare. The past five years of my blog have been an incredible ride.

Last but not least, by writing on a variety of topics my posts show up in search engines under different keywords that bring searchers to my blog who otherwise would never have found it. Hopefully, once they land here, they’ll enjoy whatever article led them to the blog and be tempted to purchase some of my books. At least, that’s the theory.