Sunday, October 28, 2012

Just a Quick Note

For those of you who missed it in previous posts, my new novel Serving Murphy is now available as an ebook at I'm proving the link below.

Those of you on the east coast will want to hurry and download it now, so you'll have something to read while the power is off. I hope you come through the storm without a scratch, whether you buy my book or not.

--Stephen P.

Friday, October 19, 2012

In Service of....

Life is what happens while you're neglecting your blog.

The Kendle edition of my new novel, Serving Murphy, is now available on It's a dystopian-futuristic suspensish story about a guy who has a kind of dull life serving warrants, until things start to fall apart and it gets complicated. You can "look inside" or download a sample for free. Also, on the subject of my novels, Eaters will be free to download Sunday and Monday, October 21, 22, 2012, so get your copy and read it. Eaters II will be out in a couple of months.

Like most of you (big assumption there), I'm looking forward to the season premier of Southland, coming soon. Michael Cudlitz does a fine job of anchoring the cast and C. Thomas Howell plays the biggest jerk I've ever seen anywhere. The show makes me want to stay the hell out of south LA, but it's entertaining to visit there every week. I'd be sad that Lucy Liu is off the show, except that she is Dr. Watson on the new series Elementary, which is actually pretty good. Johnny Lee Miller plays Sherlock Holmes (you Dexter fans may remember Miller from the Lumen story-line). Elementary is basically Perception with less attractive cast members, but still a good show if you're into the homicide consultant genre, which I seem to be: Perception, The Mentalist, Psyche.

And speaking of Dexter, he's back. We're two or three episodes into the new season and things have gotten complicated for America's favorite serial killer. Actually, the TV storyline has finally caught up to the first novel (if you haven't read the novels, I highly recommend them. I've bought the last three on the day they came out in hardback and I've never bought first edition of anything before). This is the next-to-last season of Dexter, so I hope Jeff Lindsay, the creator, has many years of writing left in him. The novels are kind of a hoot, in the recent tradition of Florida writers like Tim Dorsey, Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen.

What else am I watching? you ask (no, you didn't, but I'll tell you anyway). CSI:Crimescene is back for an umpteenth season. Ted Danson is surprisingly good in his role as the lead criminalist. The new cast members Elisabeth Shue and Elisabeth Harnois have done a good job of filling the voids left by Marg Helgenberger and Gary Dourdan.

Criminal Minds is also back and going strong in spite of several cast changes over the years. I'm still watching CSI: New York, because there is really nothing else on Friday nights (unless you like the big family sagas like Blue Bloods, which I really don't). Hawaii Five-O is back and seems a little less hokey, which might just be me, but Christine Lahti, as Steve McGarrett's mother, brings some good acting and an intriguing twist to the storyline.

Covert Affairs is another show I'm watching. Piper Perabo plays a young CIA operative and Christopher Gorham plays her sightless handler in a clear case of the blind leading the blond. If the real CIA is run anything like this one, I fear for our country. I think the only reason I continue to watch the show is because the entire cast is so darn good looking.

And, of course, Bones is back. Temperance Brennan's inability to develop human emotions is getting a little annoying after all these years, but I like the characters and the storylines are good and they have what are probably the best gross-out props in all of television, so I keep watching.

I'm currently taking a college course in medical terminology online, a good thing for a writer who kills lots of fictional people, and I need to get back to it. Until next time, ad astra!

--Stephen P.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Welcome Back to the Monkey House

It's not easy juggling career changes, job hunting, lurking about on Facebook, writing novels, neglecting a website and maintaining a blog. This probably is not the first time I've used the excuse that I am currently preparing one novel for publication while writing two more, but these are actually different novels. Serving Murphy has moved from being written, to the preparation for publication stage, Eaters II is now at 40,000 words and growing every day, and Terry's Rise, the sequel to Jordan's Fall, is in the early stages of note taking and research. If I don't find a full time job in the next few weeks, I will probably be blogging from a homeless shelter, but whatever. Life is good.

In the wonderful world of television, if you have BBC America you must be fully engaged in the new season of Doctor Who by now. If you don't have BBC, you'll have to wait for this season to come to PBS next year, but you're likely watching previous seasons. If you aren't a Doctor Who fan, why aren't you? I demand an explanation. Great. Now you've upset me.

Doctor Who has been one of the most popular and most beloved television programs in the United Kingdom, almost continuously, since 1963. It has been my all-time favorite television programme (see how I did that with the British spelling?) since 1983. When I'm not watching Doctor Who, I'm likely talking about it. The clerk at my neighborhood convenience store is an avid Who fan and we can irritate other customers for hours discussing the finer points of the show. My son and his friends are all, um, why isn't there some clever name for Who fans the way there is for Star Trek fans. Who-kies? No, won't do. I know. Patients. I am a Patient and I need the Doctor.

Doctor Who started out as a low-budget science fiction TV series and has evolved into something close to a religion. It is certainly a franchise, with action figures and toy replicas of the Doctor's toys. I've lost count of how many sonic screwdrivers I have, and I'm not even a collector. Heck, I'm not even a fanatic. I haven't read any of the novels or graphic novels based on the series. I don't have any of the technical manuals and such that have been based on the series. I don't even have any of the guides to the series. I do, however, look forward to every episode and I do have little watch parties for special events such as the season premier, the second episode of the new season, the third episode of the new season, reruns of past seasons--I think you get the picture.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, or only a passing idea of what I'm talking about and you would like to know more, I suggest you read the Wikipedia entry on Doctor Who. If you have an important Who-related event coming up (such as one of my watch parties) and you'd like to fit in, let me suggest you pick up and memorize the Doctor Who for Dummies book.

AnyWho, that's all the time I can spare right now. I actually have a couple of fans, seriously, two of them, clamoring for my next novel, so I'd better get back to work.

--Stephen P.

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Been Awhile

Sorry, it's been a long time since my last post. I've been overwhelmingly busy starting and ending a new career and finishing my latest novel.

I won't even go into the career, but I spent months taking classes and getting licensed before finding it just wasn't for me. The novel, on the other hand, I've likely referred to in previous blogs as Murphy, Sean Murphy and Serving Murphy. The current title and most likely for the novel to be published under is The Last Alias. I will wait a few weeks before rereading it and doing final revisions and rewrites. After that I will publish it on

My next novel, Eaters II, is already in the works and will likely be finished sometime next spring.

In my last post, I promised to comment on all the television shows on my viewing list for the summer season. So much for that. If you've been paying attention, you probably know that most summer shows have already had their season finales, so I'll just provide a of list of what was good enough to end up on my DVR.

The final six episodes of The Closer were worth watching and led to the beginning of the "new" series Major Crimes. Major Crimes looks to be pretty good, so I've already set it to record.

Longmire proved to be a surprisingly good show. I'm looking forward to its return, whenever that may be.

Nurse Jackie. Edie Falco is always good.

Weeds. You know you watch it.

Glades. Another good series that barely gets going before the season ends.

Leverage, back again. I have no idea how their schedule works. It just pops up for a few weeks and then disappears again. Very intertaining. A sort of A Team type storyline.

Perception. If you haven't checked this out, try it, you might like it. It's just another twist on the whole Psych, Mentalist, Lie To Me kind of thing, but it's still good.

Covert Affairs. It's the story of a rooky CIA spook who basically fumbles her way through world-threatening situations and comes out smelling like begonias. Not sure why I can't stop watching it, but there you are.

Rizzoli & Isles. A fun cop drama that stoops to the usual gimmick of the super villain who targets the cop repeatedly over time. In fact, the show is only in its second year, I believe, and we've already had four super villains and the cops are more likely to be the victims of kidnappings and such than the entire rest of the population of Boston. Entertaining, though.

Warehouse 13 is back. This is the only reason to have the SyFy channel.

White Collar is a kind of twist on an old show from the 60's called It Takes A Thief. Good fun and drama together. I'm starting to realize that most of my list falls into the guilty pleasure category.

Burn Notice. Bruce Campbell co-stars. That should be enough to convince you. If you don't know who Bruce Campbell is, you probably never watched Xena, Brisco County, Jr., Hercules, or any reasonably good B movies of the past twenty years. He even starred in a movie called My Name Is Bruce.

Well, that's enough to annoy you for a few weeks. I promise to try to post more often and with something more relevant. Until then, I'll be looking for a day job and working on my next book.


Stephen P.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Since Nobody Asked

Where have I been lately? I'm glad I asked. It's been so long that I've forgotten what I've shared and what I haven't, but this is my second month of unemployment and I still don't like it. I swear I had more free time when I was working.

I spend at least thirty hours a week online looking for jobs (in case you've been gainfully employed for the past decade or so, all job hunting is now done on the internet). The few times I've ventured out asking for applications, they told me to go home and apply at their websites.

Applying for a job online takes about three hours, including the personality profile. After spending all that time filling in little boxes, you get a message that says "thank you for revealing all your personal information, now click here to fill out the application for the company you thought you were applying to." Another three hours of filling in boxes and answering psychologically tricky questions and you get a message that says "there are currently no jobs available in the category you applied for, but we like to have a pool of applications on file in case an opening does occur. Thank you for your interest." Then it's on to the next listing and the dance begins anew.

A big problem with online job searches, is that a lot of phishing scams pose as job openings. It's fortunate that I created a new email account specifically for my job search or I might have been had. When an email appeared in my regular inbox that said "you applied for this job and we need more information," I realized what was going on. Thank Goodness.

Anyway, what free time I have, I'm still working on the new novel, as well as a sequel to Eaters, fittingly titled Eaters II. I'll try to blog again soon. Until then, I hope you have nice weather and time to enjoy it.

--Stephen P.

The Season Wasn't that Good Anyway

I can't believe it's already that time of year when I go off on my rant about the television industry and all the great shows that have been cancelled. As I think I've pointed out before, it's kind of silly for the networks to refer to this as the end of the "season," when there are so many interruptions during what was supposed to be a continuous thirteen weeks. The networks show a couple of episodes, then take a couple of weeks off because it's near the end of the football season and they don't want their ratings affected by the loss of a few people in cheese hats. Then they show an episode or two and it's the beginning of the college basketball idiocy, so they take four weeks off. A season of primetime television looks a lot like really good Swiss cheese because it has so many holes in it. In the past year alone, my ten hours a week of television viewing has required that I start recording and watching half a dozen new shows and/or shows I never watched before, just to fill out the time. And then, I still have weeks with nothing to watch. It's gotten so bad that I started watching half a dozen reality shows!

Okay, before we go any further, if you need to lower your IQ, but you don't want to lose all brain function, these are the reality shows I recommend: Gold Rush: Alaska (it's like watching other people play the lottery, but not too much scripted drama); Storage Wars (it's like watching other people play the lottery and it has lots of scripted drama, but Barry, Brandy and Jarrod are pretty funny and real at times); American Pickers (it's kind of a positive spin on hoarders); River Monsters (it's like watching somebody else fish, oh it is watching somebody else fish); Dirty Money (I only caught a couple of these, but it's three guys taking trash off other people's curbs and turning it into something they can sell at the flea market). Everything else is overscripted, but still has that trainwreck charm that keeps you staring in horror. I should probably have mentioned that these are all cable shows. I would recommend that NOBODY watch any of the network reality shows.

My first category is network reality shows that have been renewed. This category is called Really? Why?

American Idol has been renewed.  Really? Why? While I don't think this show is doing the same amount of brain damage as the others in this category, I just don't see the point. Nothing good has ever come from this show. Stop wasting your time. Here's a good suggestion: instead of watching Idol, go out to a karaoke bar twice a week. You'll still be wasting your time, but at least there will be plenty of beer.

Survivor has been renewed. For God's sake,  Really? Why? Nobody really watches this piece of garbage, do they?

Amazing Race has been renewed. (See above)

The Bachelor/Bachelorette. Both have been renewed.  Really? Why? Get a freaking life!

Dancing with the Stars, renewed.  Really? Why? Wow, there's really nothing else in this time slot, is there?

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been cancelled.  Really? Why? Because it was a feel-good show with redeeming qualities. Of course, I didn't watch it, but it would have been better for your brain than the shows they kept.

Undercover Boss, renewed. Sigh.  Really? Why?

The Biggest Loser, renewed. I'm just not even going to go there, but if you watch this, you know what you are.

Celebrity Apprentice, renewed. Oh, dear Lord don't you people have something better to do with your time? Go floss! Mop the kitchen! Pull weeds! Do something useful! Stop watching crap!

Fashion Star, renewed. I don't even know what this is. If you do: for shame!

The Voice, renewed. Who cares one way or the other?

America's Next Top Model, renewed.  Really? Why?

So there is your list of the things that will be destroying American next fall. I don't know if watching these shows leads to inbreeding or if it's inbreeding that leads to watching these shows, but STOP IT!

My next category is good drama shows that were cancelled because network executives are idiots who watch Celebrity Apprentice. I call this category Dear God, Why?

The Finder, cancelled. Dear God, Why? This was very possibly the best show ever! It was funny, charming, dramatic and suspenseful. It deserved to run for twenty-five years and we deserved to watch it. That leaves Bones as the only reason left to ever watch the Fox network and even Bones is getting kind of lame.

House, cancelled. I know why. House ran at least one season longer than it should have. Like any good disease, this show had run its course. I'll miss what it used to be, but, sorry, it was finished.

Harry's Law, cancelled. Dear God, Why? The first season of this show was brilliant. It had lots of black actors and was set in a rundown neighborhood with gangs and street people. It was charming and funny and had great drama. It did very well, even opposite Castle. Then, the second season they decided to gentrify the show. They got rid of the black people, did an urban renewal on the neighborhood and turned Harry's little shoestore law firm into a slick partnership with lots of highpower attorneys and high profile cases. And it was still a great show! And it still had Kathy Bates! Now it's cancelled. Dear God, Why? Because they moved it to Sunday night, for one thing. Networks always do that when they want to kill something off (so why won't Celebrity Apprentice die?).

CSI: Miami, cancelled. Okay, this show has been up and down, but was mostly still watchable. They changed its timeslot a half dozen times, changed the night it was on half a dozen times and finally put it on Sunday nights, where our DVRs couldn't find it because some afternoon sporting event would mess up the schedule and cause it to start anywhere from a half hour to two hours late! And still it took two seasons to drive that last nail in the coffin. So, between CSI:Miami and Harry's Law, there is now no reason whatsoever to turn on your TV on Sunday nights. Except maybe The Simpsons, but who watches that anymore?

Prime Suspect, cancelled. Dear God, Why? This was a gritty, film noir kind of show with great acting and great dialogue. I guess it was just too intelligent for people who watch NBC.

I don't watch sitcoms, but if you do, one you should be watching is The New Girl. It's intelligent, funny and there's no laugh track.

My next category is shows I watch that I'm surprised have been renewed. I call this Really? Huh?

CSI: New York, renewed. Dear God, Why? Oops, I mean Really? Huh? This show has some good actors, but the scripts have been lame from the very beginning. It's even survived changes of night and timeslots. I watch it, but only because there is so little else, especially on Friday nights.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, renewed. Really? Huh? I still can't believe this show is still on and still good (most of the time). I didn't think it would survive the loss of William Petersen, but it did great with Laurence Fishburne and it's really good with Ted Danson.

Hawaii Five-O, renewed. Really? Huh? This show is so lame. The acting is terrible, the storylines are ridiculous and it's just plain silly. The characters spend all their time either solving crimes committed against themselves or covering up crimes that they committed in a well-meaning sort of way. I watch it because, God help me, there is so little else to watch and I really like the actors.

Bones, renewed. Really? Huh? I don't know. This show just got a little too cutesy and Brennen, the main character never seems to grow as a human being. If anything, she's regressed. I'll keep watching it, but they need to keep bringing in new interns to keep the show lively.

Now, shows I used to watch that became way to convoluted and should be replaced with the good shows that were cancelled (in most cases by other networks). I'll stick with Really? Huh?

Bluebloods, renewed. Really? Huh? It's one of those complicated dynastic things with way too much soap opera. I watched half a season before I just couldn't care anymore. I really like Tom Selleck, but I prefer his role on the Jesse Stone TV movies. Maybe they could do more of those.

Fringe, renewed. Really? Huh? This was kind of good for the first few episodes when it was sort of the new X Files, but then they brought in the whole parallel universe theme and all that and I just didn't care anymore.

Person of Interest, renewed. Really? Huh? This show would be good if it had a sense of humor, but it just doesn't. I keep looking at the lead characters and thinking how a little witty banter would make this show watchable, but they continue to take themselves way too seriously.

90210, renewed. Just kidding. Never watched it, never will. It's right up there with Gossip Girl and Glee on the list of shows that I will give up TV altogether before I'll watch.

Now, because I have friends who watch shows I don't (and I don't want them to end up watching any more reality television than they do now), here are some shows I don't and wouldn't watch, but I'm glad didn't get cancelled. I call this category Okay, sure.

Castle, renewed. Okay, sure. I might actually watch this someday. I have nothing against it, it just happened to be on opposite something I did watch. Or something.

Wow, that turned out to be a short list. Okay, sure. I probably should have included Grey's Anatomy on that list, but that might lead to watching Private Practice, and some slippery slopes are just too steep.

I'll be back on a television rant in a few weeks with my list of Summer Picks. I can tell you right now that Psych and White Collar will be programmed into my DVR, Royal Pains won't, and I'm not likely to be watching anything on FX until Justified returns next year.

So until next time, either read a book or get outside and enjoy the sunshine.

--Stephen P.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Spring in Hell

Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. Then again, maybe not.

Spring started out pleasant enough: I found myself unemployed against my will for the first time in more than 40 years in the work force; much of my neighborhood was terribly damaged in a tornado; and the weeds have overtaken my garden as never before.

The hellish part is my novel. It seems that when the creative juices flow and the novel is practically writing itself, every little detail of life gets in the way and prevents me from actually writing. When I have time to sit down and write, I struggle to find the right words, I write whole chapters that don't fit with the plot and have to be scrapped or my characters simply sit around chatting to no particular end. This may not sound like hell, but being that writer, in that moment, it begins to seem like The Twilight Zone. Perhaps you'd have to be there.

At the moment, I do have time to write, so I'd better get back to it before my phone begins to buzz with other distractions. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

--Stephen P.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Writing

Writing a novel is not a spare-time endeavor, as we traditionally think. You know the old cliche where the newspaper man is hammering out the Great American Novel in the few hours a week he is both not working and sober? Well, at that rate he'd finish his tome in about three hundred years. Of course, there are those few writers, like Jack Kerouac, who load up on stimulants and crank out a novel in one sitting, but most writers have to think something before they write it.

For me, writing is a process of translating what's in my head into written word on the page. Imagine, for example, watching a movie and simultaneously transcribing it into the most interesting prose possible. That's what it's like for me. While I'm creating a novel it exists in my mind as mostly visual information, with a few snippets of memorable dialog. The visual information must be described and the dialog must be fleshed out into a natural seeming conversation between characters. Once the first draft is finished, the real writing begins, which is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. It's a lot like polishing stones. By the time one of my novels reaches Amazon, I have read it, start to finish, fifty times, at least.

As for the spare time business, I do grab every spare moment to get some work done, but on the days that I set aside to write, I adhere to a strict schedule. I get up and have some coffee and try to wake up a little. At 8:30 am, I sit down at my computer and I go to work. I allow myself a few breaks during which I do laundry, load the dishwasher or pay some bills--then it's back to work. At the end of my ten hour day, I hope to have ten pages written, but I can't gripe if I have at least six.

While writing does require some self-discipline, it is something I love doing. Most of my self-discipline is required in not neglecting everything else in order to write all the time.

--Stephen P.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Free Bonus

I hadn't planned on posting three times in one day, but things just happen sometimes. I just wanted to make a few flimsy excuses and justifications while this was fresh in my mind.

First of all, I try very hard not to start a blog post with "I," so, sorry for that, but this is a special case. Second, I know I used to indent the first line in my paragraphs, but the interface changed and the tab key doesn't do it and I can't for the life of me remember how I did it before and just don't have a whole heck of a lot of time to spend learning yet another word processing program and why the heck can't they make these things a little more obvious like on a Mac? Next, quotation marks: I know I'm using inch symbols for quotes and foot symbols for apostrophies. Can't help it. Same answer as number two. And why? Why are those the defaults? Who ever uses foot and inch symbols in a text document anyway? Okay, fourth, missing hyphens: I caught those too late and once I hit "Publish Post" it's too late. I could "Delete Post," but then it's gone forever and, well, copy, paste, all that takes time and I'd just rather move on and hope to write a better post next time. Fonts? Yeah, I used to use special fonts, but, again: see previous answer.

Finally, there's the issue of grammar, syntax, spelling and form. That's on me. You call it "ignorance of the law," I call it "style." I do, however, promise that in the future I will try harder and hope to do better. If I can't be entertaining, at least I can use proper English. I may even start writing these posts in Word and uploading them, but who knows.

--Stephen P.

A Day in the Frustrating Life

Writing is really hard, sometimes. Like when your computer thinks it's smarter than your are. My computer has been driving me crazy since I got it. It's a low-cost laptop (I'm not going to call it "cheap" for fear of offending it), with Windows 7 and Office 2010 installed. The little scroll pad has all kinds of enhanced functions that I didn't ask for. I just want a good old fashioned mouse-type thing that let's me scroll and select and maybe right click once in a while. This thing jumps back to the beginning, cuts and pastes, deletes, changes views, changes text formatting and targets long range missiles against countries I've never heard of, all while I'm just trying to type.

Earlier today I was working on a new novel when Windows decided to update and reconfigure itself without even asking me. As if it wasn't bad enough having an alien entity take over the very machine I need to get something done in the precious little time I have available, when my document came back up, thirty minutes later, an entire chapter was missing. A full day's work just gone! What the hell? I'm no rookie. I save every ten minutes and I back my work up a couple times a day (which utlimately saved me), but there's only so much I can do. Even the "recovered files" folder was empty. I managed to pull a fairly complete version of the manuscript off my thumb drive, but I'd lost over an hour's worth of work.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with what I planned to write about, which was science fiction (and I had a really great title I'll have to save for next time). Oh, well. So, how's your day going?

--Stephen P.

Biggish News

Today I'm happy to announce three big happenings in the world. First, I'm writing a new one of my inane blog posts (the one after this one, not this one); second, my third novel, Eaters, is finally available as a Kindle ebook on; and third, tomorrow, Sunday, April 1, 2012, is free download day for my second novel, Jordan's Fall. Please feel free to read any of these (although reading Eaters wouldn't actually be free, but it wouldn't be very expensive and you'd help support me while I write my next novel, which is coming along nicely and will probably be available some time in the future).

So there you have it--a great weekend in the history of literature written by me. Enjoy! Or heck, enjoy your weekend even if it has nothing to do with me. I'm not as vain as you seem to think. Really.

--Stephen P.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thank You. You know who you are.

Thank you so much to all the nice people who downloaded copies of my digital novel My Year in the Barrel this past weekend. If you haven't downloaded it yet, better hurry before runs out of digits. I hope that most of you will read and enjoy the book and that the rest of you will "kinda like it." And I hope that you now want to read Jordan's Fall. And that you recommend them both to everyone you know. And that you will feverishly anticipate the publication of my next novel Eaters.

 I'm doing the next-to-the-last edit of Eaters--that's my top priority project. Next I have a shortstory to finish (titled "Warmest Regards, J") but that shouldn't take too long. Then my fourth novel, a thriller, is in the research phase. I had a title idea for it but I didn't write it down and I can't remember it, so the working title is Murphy. I have a few other concepts floating around but they'll have to wait 'til I clear a few other projects off my desktop.

So until next time: good (your time of day here) and thank you for inviting me into your data stream.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Free Day

Tomorrow is a big day. Starting at 12:00am and running until 11:59pm, downloads of my novel My Year in the Barrel are free on That means that potentially several people will discover the joy of reading over 50,000 of my words all in one place!

As the late, great Douglas Adams once told me:  "How did you get this number? Don't bloody call here again!" by which I think he meant that an author's work is in and of itself a gift of love to the reader with nothing more required. Just as we understand that when a cat leaves a small dead rodent on our doorstep it is intended as a message of love, we can only wish that it had been understood that when I left that large dead rodent on an old girlfriend's doorstep it was a message of love, not a threatening gesture requiring all those damn police police cars, a night in jail and that restraining order. But I digress.

I think what I'm trying to say is that I hope that, given the opportunity to post a review of the large dead rodent that is My Year in the Barrel, my readers will remember that it is intended as a message of love, not as the international threat that the Department of Homeland Security seems to think it is.

Thank you and have a nice day.

Monday, March 5, 2012


It's been a while since my last post, but it couldn't be helped. I've been busy getting two of my novels ready to publish on, as Kendle ebooks, and doing a final rewrite on a third novel. The first two, My Year in the Barrel and Jordan's Fall are now live and available for download. The third, Eaters, will be available in the next month or two. I'm also working on a new website, but more about that later. I hope to get back to writing my smile-worthy humorous blog posts (or at least not groan-worthy) in the near future. Until then, I hope you'll read free samples of my books at

Stephen P.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


My in-laws are trying to have me put away. I’m not paranoid, but I hear them whispering behind my back, spreading their lies, claiming I believe in the existence of Bigfoot, Mothmen, Unmarked Helicopters and Elvis Presley. They exaggerate, mind you--I’ve never believed in the existence of Elvis Presley.

This whole thing is because I’m a writer. Decades of sitting sequestered in front of a keyboard has led to atrophied social skills. During a lull in conversation at a recent family function, the awkward silence provoked me into expounding on some of the latest conspiracy theories to my brother-in-law--something about the previous president being a pawn of the American Beef Council, just as his father was a pawn of the pork producers and William Jefferson Clinton was a pawn of the poultry industry. Before I could insert my own personal disclaimer on the whole thing, my brother-in-law was looking at me the way a chicken looks at a raccoon. You know, sideways out of one big round frightened eye. Within a few hours, my wife had received psychiatric referrals from half of her family and several of their neighbors.

I don’t think they’re out to get me, exactly, but I fear that they have some quaint notions about sending me to a place where straight-jackets are the uniform of the day, electroshock treatments are the midmorning pick-me-up and Thorazine is served for brunch.

But I’m not paranoid--although I could be. For instance, I could attribute my current lack of representation to a conspiracy between the Literary Agents Guild and Stephen King. This would be ridiculous, of course, because Stephen King is much too busy memorizing baseball trivia and stealing my plot ideas. I write a type of novel which the publishers and science fiction writer Larry Niven have chosen to relegate to the poor-relation sub-genres of “speculative fiction” and “contemporary fantasy.” My latest project, which the “Big Three” booksellers are even now plotting to keep off their shelves, explores what happens when the skeptical protagonist discovers that even the most implausible conspiracy theories are true.

The truth is, I’m a born skeptic myself. I don’t believe in UFOs or ghosts, although I’ve seen plenty of both, and I especially don’t believe in conspiracies. I mean, come on, who in the world, besides the Masons and the Illuminati, can keep a secret that long? Do you really think a group of people could pull off anything as complicated as, say, hiding a one-and-a-half billion dollar loss from their investors with a bunch of shell companies and some fancy bookkeeping? I don’t think so.

Sure, there are probably things that the Men in Black don’t want us to know about, like the existence of the Chupacabra or that Opra Winphrey is behind the alien abductions, but those are hardly what I’d call conspiracies. A true conspiracy is the way all rejection slips contain that same standard phrase “doesn’t suit our present needs.” What’s up with that? Does the first publisher call the second publisher and so on down the line until they all know to watch out for my manuscript? Or do they just get together in a big meeting? And I’ve always wondered--is there a special paper that only the chosen writers know to write on? Or maybe a secret password?

But I’m not paranoid. My wife says that if I was hearing voices, they’d have to repeat themselves three times too. And then they still wouldn’t get a verbal response.

One of the problems with being a writer is that you get so caught up in the characters. Most people think the characters have the writer’s characteristics, but it’s really the other way around--after a while, the writer picks up the characters’ characteristics. Not the big things, mind you, like mass murder or world dominance--it’s the little things, like mustard instead of mayonnaise or tea instead of coffee.

My current protagonist isn’t paranoid and he’s no Oliver Stone. He doesn’t imagine conspiracies everywhere he turns--yet the conspiracies are real. I, on the other hand, don’t believe in any conspiracies, real or imagined. And I’m not paranoid.

But, if you don’t hear from me again--suspect my inlaws. Or maybe Stephen King.