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 his death. When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, the floodgates of cyberspace opened to a 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.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Callum (& Pandora) - An Excerpt from Flashbacks

Off the Australia Coast, the Present:

Back on the deck, Pandora interrogated the men. “I’m looking for my friend. She’s a Gypsy, looks a bit older than me, more tanned, not quite as hot.”

“We’re just simple fishermen,” Donahue lied. “We haven’t seen any women.”

“Strewth, mate!” his companion exclaimed. “You know her mate will tell her different when he comes up from the hold. Look hun, there was a sheila we met in Africa who we gave a lift to. Brought her all the way to Oz at no charge, ‘cause we’re  really nice blokes. But she fell off the side of the boat and became crocodile bait. Now if you don’t want the same to happen to you, then I suggest you leave now.”

“Zip it and help me throw her overboard before her mate comes back.” Donahue lunged at Pandora.

The strawberry blonde vampire dodged to one side and sank her fangs into Donahue’s neck, draining his blood in seconds. She tossed his bloodied corpse over the railing and turned to his friend. He pivoted to flee, but Pandora leapt onto him, ripping his throat with her trenchant fangs. She slurped the last ounce of his blood from him and lugged his lifeless body to the bulwark, heaving it over the side of the ship. She gazed into the blue waters below at the blurry white forms surrounding the two bodies in a feeding frenzy.

Callum came up from the hold and belched. He was carrying two large sacks filled with  rhino horns and elephant tusks he had stumbled upon. His eyes followed Pandora’s gaze to the turbulent, and now crimson, waters below. “Great white sharks. The Aussie national fish. Impressive creatures, aren’t they?” He looked around the deck. “Where are our friends?”

Pandora scrunched her nose and grimaced. “They slipped.”

Callum gazed back into the water. “I see.” He turned to Pandora. “I saw signs that your mate, Lupe, was held captive in the hold. But it looks like she escaped, perhaps wounded.”

Pandora sighed. “They fed her to the sharks. We had our differences, but we were becoming friends. Lupe didn’t deserve to go like that.”

“No one deserves to cark it like that.” Callum gazed back into the ocean at the vanishing remains of the pair of slave traders and smugglers. “Well, hardly anyone.” He paused. “I’m sorry about your cobber, mate. I’m sure she was a fine sheila.”

Pandora grimaced. “I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to Cody. He and his sister were incredibly close.” Pandora noticed the sacks Callum was holding. “What’s in the bags?”

“We can’t leave their ill-gotten gain behind. Have you any idea how much these horns  would go for on the black market?”  Seeing the disapproving look on Pandora’s face, Callum added, “Naturally, I’ll have to turn them over to, ahem, the proper authorities.”

The Vampires & Werewolves You Only Think You Know!

  Fangs & Fur, Book One: Flashbacks

Available in Paperback and Kindle editions.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton: Not a Straight Shooter

Hillary Clinton today attacked Bernie Sanders’ response to the question “Should shooting victims be able to sue gun manufacturers?” Sanders was absolutely correct in his response and Clinton’s attack shows she has no understanding of American legal jurisprudence despite being a lawyer herself.

Of course, shooting incidents like Sandy Hook – in which a gunman massacred 20 first graders – are horrific and tragic. But, as all attorneys and legal scholars know, emotion is a red herring. The legal issue is whether a manufacturer should be liable for an illegal use to which its product is put.

If I am run over by the driver of a car, I sue the driver. I do not sue the manufacturer of the car. Cars, like guns, are products that are legal to manufacture. The only time it would be proper to sue the manufacturer of a legally produced product would be if the product caused the death due to a manufacturing defect. If the car or the gun was not defective and their use resulted in a death solely because of the willful and deliberate actions of the guilty individual, then the manufacturer has no liability. Sue the driver, sue the shooter, but there is no legal rationale to sue the manufacturer.

This is a case of improper use of a legally manufactured product. The manufacturer did nothing wrong. It did not make, nor did it market, its product for the explicit purpose of murdering schoolchildren. The fault, blame, and liability lie with the individual who misused the product and not with the manufacturer.

As an attorney, Hillary Clinton has to know this. Bernie Sanders knows this too. The difference between them is that when asked the question, Sanders gave an honest answer. It’s not that he was unsympathetic to the victims’ families. He simply knew they were not aiming at the right target. Clinton disingenuously used an emotional appeal to gain a political advantage in the upcoming New York primary. That is shameful and not the behavior voters should reward in anyone seeking the highest office in the land.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Callum - An Excerpt from Flashbacks

Nosferatu, Inc.’s Australian Headquarters, the Present:

Callum wiped the blood from his lips as he returned to his office.

“Mr. Remick has left three messages for you, sir,” Kaiya said. “He’s also insisting you use the mobile phones the corporation keeps sending you.”

“Bollocks! It’s bad enough I have to listen to that earbasher drone on during office hours, but I’ll be damned if I’ll carry a phone with me twenty-four seven. I won’t be a slave to a ringing piece of metal. What’s the bloke want, this time?”

“He said it concerns a missing Nosferatu operative. He’s sending a team to search for her and he wants our help.”

Callum grimaced. “So, now we’re the corporation’s bloody Lost and Found Department? Get him on the horn for me.” Callum sat at his desk. “And Kaiya, bring me a cuppa warm blood, dear.”

The Australian director picked up the phone receiver. “G’day, mate. What can I do for you?”

“You might start by returning your calls,” Remick said. “I’ve been trying to reach you for hours.”

“Sorry mate, I had a late lunch. She didn’t show up when I expected her to and had to chase her down when she did. Hate it when my meals are uncooperative. So what’s your bother?”

The Vampires & Werewolves You Only Think You Know!

  Fangs & Fur, Book One: Flashbacks

Available in Paperback and Kindle editions.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Amadi - An Excerpt from Flashbacks

The Jungles of Yorubaland, West Africa, the Present:

Síofra sighed.

Kaya gave her a sympathetic look. “I know why you’re sad.”

The sullen changeling shot her a snarl. “Ya dinnae ken anything. Yar nothing but a child, and an irritating, pestiferous one at that.”

The sanguine Japanese girl ignored her bluster. “Back in Japan, you told me changelings are immortal but that their stolen human bodies don’t last very long. You said you might get a few more years out of this one. That’s what you’re worried about, isn’t it? What happens when that body you’re using wears out?”

Síofra looked away, but Kaya had already seen the sadness in her eyes. “I’ll be reincarnated. My spirit shall transmigrate and find a home in another mortal’s body. But I dinnae ken which mortal or how long it will take. It could be years … or centuries. Asabi will have forgotten me, and even if the lad remembered me, I would nae look the same.” Síofra gave a halfhearted laugh. “Nae that it would matter; he barely tolerates me now, and then only for yar sake.”

“That’s not true. He likes you. If he knew how you felt about him…”

“What difference would that make?” the melancholy changeling asked. “Haven’t ya been listening tae what I said? Changeling energy deteriorates the host body on a cellular level. The form I’m in is due tae expire. This lassie’s body’s a walking milk carton past its ‘sell by’ date.” Síofra sipped her papaya juice. “Although, on the bright side, my next incarnation might be a creature more powerful than a mere human, yet…” Her voice trailed off, as she pictured the ebon emere.

The Vampires & Werewolves You Only Think You Know!

  Fangs & Fur, Book One: Flashbacks

Available in Paperback and Kindle editions.