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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Look at the Big Picture

Have you noticed that most of the people around you have either tunnel vision or blinders on?
Let me break this down for you.  You have to look at the big picture no matter what you're doing.  In life it is the little things that you do every day that makes the biggest impact on your life and where you end up on your journey.  In doing these things you do day to day, you have to focus at what you're doing but keep in the mind the bigger picture of what is really going on around you.  How does what you're doing impact others?  Your spouse?  Your family?  Your co-workers?  The company you work for?
The really big picture starts with our Father, God.  He designed and created us to walk and talk with him, to be with us and have a relationship with us.  Think about your children.  When you get to, there is nothing you want more than to spend time with them, talk with them, and be in their presence.  That's what our Father wants from us.  He wants you to desire to have a relationship with him, just as we hope our children want to have a relationship with us.
You want your children to grow up and mature and become a productive part of society, to earn enough money to have a better standard of living than you did.  Our heavenly Father wants the same for us.  Are you being productive?  Are you giving back?  Are you striving to have and build a relationship with him?  God created the Universe and all things come by and through his blessing.  He can change your life to bring anything into it or take anything away from it he wants to at any given moment.  Immense wealth?  Fame?  God's Glory?  God's forgiveness?  What do you want?  Are you giving God what he wants?  Things to take away could be cancer?  Your community?  Your job?  Another important point to remember is God helps those who help themselves.  I have seen this so many times, that it is not funny, it is SO Very True!
If your children act up, it is your job to correct them and teach them.  Our heavenly Father will correct and teach us in direct relation to our relationship with him, and how well be behave.  Are you doing right in the eyes of the Lord?  Keep in mind at your lonelinest, when you are all by yourself, he is still there with you and watching you.  Sometimes testing you?  Hoping that this time you make the right choice.
Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results!
The next big picture that should come in under God is your family.  If this is not the hierarchy of your life, that might be a clue as to why you're not getting to where you want to be!  In my family I am a role model to my children.  Am I perfect?  Far from it, but because I am role model I strive to be better today than I was yesterday, and I keep in mind that the children are watching me and I am making an impact in their lives for the positive or negative.  Too many of us want to just say 'Do as I say and not as I do.'  Well that will work as well for you as it did your parents.  Until you make a change and start with the 'Man in the Mirror' like in the Michael Jackson song, we will be repeating the same old things and expecting different results.  Insane!
I also constantly remind myself, that if I don't do it that means my wife will have to do it.  She has a full time job that doesn't end when the time clock is punched.  Many times it doesn't end until she goes to bed and it starts before she gets out of bed in the morning the next day.  They don't tell you that part in school, or sex education classes, or when you think "Gosh we should have a baby."  Children are full time, all the time!  Parents only saving grace is our stamina.  That we can stay up later than they can.  I try and do as much as I can to help my wife around the house.  To give her breaks from the kids and time to do something she might enjoy doing.
Next in the big picture is your role as a citizen of your country.  Some would put their job here, if it wasn't first on their list, but jobs can come and go.  Your country is where you live.  I don't know about other countries but I live in the United States of America, and Freedom is HARD!
Let me explain.  In my country it is somebody's God given right to stand in the street and be able to burn my counties flag.  It is the right to protest or march for any group whether you support them, believe in their cause or that the very sight of them makes you want to take up arms and fight them.  That's Freedom!  One of the early colonists said something once that went like, "I may not agree with what the other guys is saying, but I will die for his right to say it!"  That's Freedom!
If you’re an American you get to vote for the leaders you want to send to Washington and support your beliefs and represent you.  After the election if your candidate didn't win you still have to support who ever did win until their term is done, to then try and vote them out of office.  If your guy did win you still have to support them even when they get to Washington and don't play well with others and screw their fellow American's in the name of private interest groups, politics, big business, and corruption.  Even when our government is failing as a whole, as American's we must continue to vote, do jury duty, and participate in helping our fellow citizens make this a better place in spite of failing political parties and government bureaucracy.
Fourth in the lineup could be your job.  It could be your career.
I think the comedian Chris Rock put it best when he said that the difference between a job and a career is time!  When you have a job time drags, it can't go by fast enough, two hours relates to fifteen minutes in real time passing.  If you have a career, you can't get everything done you want to do during the day.  If you reach the end of the day and your project isn't finished you will have to get up early and come in and finish it in the morning.  I have two careers, my day job, and my newest passion of writing.  Writing is actually a job that when I get to do it full time from home, I will never think of retirement.  I plan to keep cranking out books until I die and hopefully will have three or four in the works scattered in bits and pieces around my desk when they plant me in the ground.
With your country, job, or career you should still be mindful of the Bigger Picture!  How is what you're doing, day in and day out, affecting others?  Those you work with, those in the immediate environment, community.  How does it affect your country?  Your Family?  Your relationship with God?
Focus on all the little things, the details.
Do a great job at whatever you're doing.  You're doing it, so it has to be great, so give it your best!
Keep in mind the Bigger Picture!
If the priorities of this post seem out of whack to you, I strongly suggest you re-evaluate your priorities.  I'll bet you feel like you have been swimming upstream and not getting to where you want to go!  Change something, and quit acting Insane!
Take the blinders off, get involved, help some people, help yourself, get some religion, and enjoy your life.  It is your life so you might as well enjoy it.
Success is enjoying the journey to getting to where you want to be, not the destination you're striving for.  Too many people have hit it big to sit there and realize they are the same person, with all new problems, and wonder what in the hell the point was of getting to where they are at.  The point all along was to enjoy the trip, not the destination.
In the End, the First Priority will seem like the most important, and when you realize all the time and opportunities you've wasted.  How you never once read your Bible, asked the Lord to be your savior, to build a relationship with your heavenly Father.  All the rest will pale in comparison.  If you're reading this it is not too late!
Now quit wasting your time reading silly stuff on the Internet and get busy living!

Gone with the Wind

On this day June 30, 1936, Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind" was published.
She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1937 for this book.  Between the time she published it and December of 1936, in six months she sold 855,000 copies.  Without Television or the Internet!  As I have mentioned in previous posts, more people read back then.  Even fast forward twenty years to the 1950's and the average high school student had almost twice the vocabulary that our children have today.  855,000 copies!  How many of us Indie Authors would like to see six month sales figures like that!  I published my first E-book in January of this year and have a grand total of 48 sales in my first six months, but "Whisper" can't hold a candle to "Gone with the Wind".
I wanted to share this history tidbit with you as to what we all can aspire to shoot for.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

I was sent one of those E-mails where it is a story, you don't know if it was made up by somebody or true.  I generally tend to believe most outrageous stories to some degree because in my life I have seen over and over again that true life is more outrageous, more cruel, more over whelming and creative than any writer can ever dream to be.  This is one of the reasons if you ever read any of the adventures of Jack Aubrey, by the Great Patrick O'Brian, everything that happened in the books came right out of the pages of British Ships Logs.  As he put it, he could never come up with adventures to compete with true life.
The Story from the E-mail, Paraphrased.
A Texas man walks into a New York City Bank and asks to have a loan for five thousand dollars.  The bank clerk says they would need some collateral for a loan of that amount.  The Texan produces the keys to his Lamborghini and the title for the car.  The Texan explained he would only need the money for two weeks and then would be back to pay off the loan and collect his car at that time.  They of course gave him the loan.
Two weeks passed and the Texan returns and pays back the loan and 28.07 in interest.  The bank clerk says to him, "What's the deal?  We checked you out before giving you the loan and you have plenty of money, why did you borrow the five grand for two weeks?"
The Texan replied, "I had to be in New York on business for two weeks, and where else could I park my car for two weeks for only 28.07 and know it was going to be there when I returned?"
It is a cute story, that makes you chuckle.  As I thought about it I realized what a wonderful example of thinking outside the box.  Who would think of borrowing money from a bank and let them hold the car as a solution to where to park your car?  This so directly applies to problems we face every day.  If we would consider every problem as an opportunity to try and think outside the box and find a unique solution to problems rather than the first logical, system designed, accepted way of handling the problem.
In writing, I like to create situations where the reader will naturally assume this is what is going to happen, or this is where this is heading.  I like to make it interesting enough to make them want to read on, to find out what happens or if they make it, but then do something outside of the box, something different and completely unexpected, but still managing to get to the same place just by another route.
Now as I only have one book published you can't run out and see how I do that except for reading my first book.  Whisper By Thomas Wilson .99 cents.
A good example of writing outside the box will be my second Novel, so mark your calendar for September 11, 2011 to order my second book, "No Rules Of Engagement".  If the title gives you a clue, it is no holds barred, fast action, raw and vulgar language, kids from earth gathered up and trained to fight aliens.  It is definitely out of the box!  If foul language disturbs you, my book will definitely disturb you, so don't read it.
Try and write out of the box.  Come up with the wildest, craziest ideas you can.  Try and solve real life problems in this manner.  If this Texan really exists and works this way, no wonder he is doing so well.
One last piece of advice is to handle problems as they arise.  I see too many people who think they are cute side stepping this problem and that problem.  The problems will wait, they will still be there.  When one comes along that gets you stuck, guess what?  This stock pile of problems you have been accumulating comes crashing down on top of you.  You're done.  Overwhelmed!
Handle All Problems as they present their ugly heads, deal with them directly, out of the box, in the box, through the box, just deal with them.  If you run out, HA!  Look for potential problems and solve them before you get to them.  If they don't materialize, oh well, you were ready if they did!  If they do materialize, do a gotcha, and get it, handle it and don't even break your stride in doing so.  It works!  It makes for a much happier and stress free life.  Try it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

E-Readers, Writers, and Reading

I did an awful lot of research about how to publish a book as I spent the better part of a year writing the rough drafts of my first two novels.  ('Whisper' and 'No Rules of Engagement')

To write a book is a major accomplishment and don't let anybody ever tell you any different.  Does it seem as if everybody is writing a book?  Well it might!  There is an explosion of stuff being written and published at this time.  Why?  Because we can!!! 

Since printing presses were created and jobs formed into norms of the industry, such as Publisher, Editor, Proof Reader, Literary Agent, Etc. these people have controlled what got printed and what did not.  Honestly I hate to think of the master pieces that didn't get published that should have and some of the crap that sits in libraries and doesn't get checked out to be read for free.  Today because of amazing web sites like anybody can publish their original work and let it stand on it's feet or just hang out there like some library books.  The shackles have been lifted off and the world set free to write and publish what their hearts desire.

So if you ever wanted to write a book.  If you have written a book.  Get it edited, rewritten and make it as polished as you can, and then publish it!  A lot of people are publishing stuff, that is for sure.  Time and what people buy and don't buy will tell the story.  I can tell you from personal experience that to be a published author is a great feeling!  Having your book sell is a better feeling.

Now of course E-books require a computer, an E-reader, or a phone capable of running a e-reader app.  As these are getting more prolific in time they will show up all over the place.  I actually foresee other better, more ingenious devices devised that will do more than what our current techno gadgets are capable of.  These will be able to store and support books also.  The day is coming where you will be able to read what ever you want where ever you happen to be at.  When that day comes it will be great because people will need favorite authors to write the books they can't wait to get their hands on.  Our Books!

With the growth of the e-reading market, the explosion of stuff being published, I foresee and predict an explosion in reading in the near future.  The knowledge level of humans across the planet will increase leading to new technology, new inventions, and hopefully a better brave new world.  I really pray that with technology and people sharing ideas and communicating that people can solve problems and work out ways around warfare of power broker people and governments.  That The People can be more intelligent than our predecessors on this planet, before those in power shut down our communicating with each other because it threatens their bases of power.  Sharing ideas, technology, and people helping people to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for everyone.  I am not talking about communism vs. capitalism, I am talking about people of the world acting and working together outside the constraints of governments, ideologies, religious beliefs, or political parties.  I know!  Scary stuff.  If we all read, and write enough, and get smart enough as a whole, the people, we won't have to be slaves to the so called leadership or establishment anymore than it happens to be a flag we live under, but that we are above.

If you have not read 'Whisper' yet, please give it a try.  It is a quick, action, thriller that involves technology, time travel, a Navy ship, and a guy and a girl.  What more would you want?  It's only .99 Cents.

Time Management and the Art of Writing

As a manager who has held the same position for many years, I would say that I am good at time management, at my job.
Let me preface this first line by saying that the reason I have been in the same position for so many years is not because I am inept, but because I have risen as far as I can in the company short of trying to buy the place from the owners.  So I am pretty much stuck until I can get enough books written and enough of a following of fanatical readers that I can stay home and do this full time with no drastic cut backs to my very meager existence.
Secondly, I am good at time management when it come to my job and what I am required to do at work on a daily basis.  To say that I have things down to a tee, and a routine would be an understatement.
As far as Writing goes, I am still learning about time management.
I Love writing my stories and creating novels!  But that is such a small part of the job.  I need to do much more research to keep my books getting better and better.  I have to read other books to keep feeding my brain and entertaining myself so I don't go completely nuts.  I need to get better at editing, proofing, and re-writing.  I need to improve upon character development, and the many other aspects of this craft.  When it's all rolled into one big ball you have a writer!
As I still require a day job to pay the bills, the time I get to alot to these many other tasks is limited to say the least.  I have noticed at times, I feel I am much more creative than at others, but at present when creativity strikes the best I can do is make notes so as not to lose the ideas and get back to them when my schedule allows me to write.  Recently, I am focusing on finishing the re-write of my second novel, and switching back to editing the corrections my editor sends me as she gets them finished.  Then it's back to re-writing and trying to get to the end of the book before I need to send them to my editor.
I am slowly but surely figuring out a schedule that works for me in this limited capacity.  I know when it will come that I get to stay home and write full time.  It will be when I work out all the kinks in my schedule to work on everything a little bit everyday or devote a day of the week for writing and another for editing and so on.  When I get it all figured out, I'll get to stay home and have to work it all out again between getting my boys and wife out of the house, doing daily chores around house, working out every day and creating a new schedule that works.
Just like this blog.  Posting to it is fun.  Hopefully in time it will build a following around the globe of people who like to check in on me and see what I have been up to lately.  See what I am working on, griping about, ranting about, or the history tidbits.  It exercises my creativity in an impromptu manner.  It's a slight challenge to see what I'll write about next, and then force myself to do it, correct it, and then post it.  I love checking the statistics of it and seeing where people from around the world have checked in and which posts they have read.  As far as building a following.  That part is going slow, but so is the second novel!  I'm at Chapter 24 of 25 doing the re-writing, and at Chapter 17 and 18 with my editor.  Our target date is still September 11 of this year.  Oh, did I mention working on cover art or a book trailer in the list above?  No I didn't!  Add that to the bloody list!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Marvels of Technology

When I got to work today, we had no power due to power outage caused by severe storms that ripped through Kansas City in the early morning hours of Monday June 27, 2011.
Our corporate headquarters is located in Hazelwood, MO.  That's where the main computer system for the company physically resides and the phone service is out of.  I don't entirely understand how the system works but if one side is down and the other is up and running everything as far as computer orders, phone calls, etc. flips to the other side.  So our St. Louis side was swamped essentially doing double duty with phone calls for their order entry department and computer orders being stored by the computer system.  When out lights were finally restored just before 11:40AM, half a day's worth of orders came rumbling off our printers and we had the entire warehouse standing by to do nothing but pull orders and stage them.  By 12:30PM when we cut orders off for our afternoon deliveries and were answering our own phone calls, we were essentially caught up.
The system was designed this way in case one side isn't busy but the other side is overrun with calls that the stuff flips over to let either side pick up the other side's overflow.  I don't know if they realized that this redundancy would provide this same function in a power outage to help save sales and orders.  A lot of our customers never realized we had any problems today except that they maybe spoke to somebody different on the phone than what they are used to.  Mean while we were literally sitting in the dark by flashlight waiting for the power to be restored.
Potentially this benefit of today's technology saved this company in excess of ten thousand dollars per hour from seven until eleven, when the lights came back on.
I remember a time long ago when our power was going to be down for an extended period of time that we went and rented a large construction generator parked it in the parking lot and ran an umbilical cable from the generator to the main fuse box where an electrician hard wired the cable to the box to power just the bare minimum of equipment and lights for our office so we could operate at a limited capacity during the week with no power.  How many companies would do that?
There is a sign which hangs on the wall in the back of my office that reads, "The difficult we do right away, the impossible just takes a little longer."  This was the Motto of the Strategic Air Command which existed from the nineteen fifties until the Reagan Administration.  If there was ever an alert from NORAD over our countries air space and they needed to scramble air planes to get them off the ground in case of nuclear attack, it was the Strategic Air Command that would ensure within minutes over ninety percent of our countries military aircraft would get off the ground and into the air.  My father was very proud to be part of SAC during his time serving in the United States Air Force.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Curve Balls and Escapes

Lately in my life and events related to me by friends about their lives or people they know, it seems the world is losing its ever loving mind.
In baseball there is a pitch that is referred to as the curve ball.  It comes in straight and hot like a fast ball but just before it hits the plate it surpasses a critical point between speed a rotation and its path will curve.  If done properly it is extremely hard to hit this ball.  It is designed and executed to get a batter swing at what will end up being a ball if they don't swing.
Life throws curve balls!  Events and situations designed to get you to swing and when you do there is nothing there.  The result is a strike for what would have been a ball.
Everybody I know escapes in one form or another from time to time.  It is the method of our escape that has the potential to benefit your life or detract from your life.  Some methods of escape are movies or television shows and totally neutral.  They don't harm or benefit you except for being an escape from your situation for just a few minutes.  Escapes like drugs or alcohol can have devastating results in your life.
I suggest escaping by reading a book.  Good or bad it can be an effective escape, and it is practice reading.  The more you read the faster and better you get at it.  With the right book you can entertain yourself, learn something, and get a great escape.  What I like about books is they seem to stay with us longer than shows or movies.  It is almost as if the author shared more than just a story with you, it takes a while to get through, and last much longer.  You can share it with a friend when you're done.
As far as Cancer, Suicide, Having Babies, Firing People, Getting Fired, Hiring Someone, Getting in a Wreck, Losing a Loved One, or just having to put up with your family, ­­­ Its been a crazy week!  ASSUME IT'S A CURVE BALL!!  Let it pass right by you, and don't swing just because life threw something at you.  It may end up being a strike, which is exactly what it would be if you swung, nothing invested, nothing lost.  It could be a Ball!  Three more you get take a walk and take your base!
Don't get me wrong I am not being apathetic, there are times when you have to step up to the plate like the BABE and swing like never before, that's the only way you will ever get a home run.  I'm just saying on some of life's crap, just let it pass, take a little (Book) escape, put that smile on your face and wait for the next one.  Take a walk and take your base.
For those of you who are bat throwers, I'll deal with you during another post!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

James Rollins - Devil Colony Released

James Rollins Newest Sigma Force Book just released and as usual my best friend and greatest fan, Phillip Woody, who feels every aspect of life is a competition when it come to me, and as usual it's a race to see who can reach the end of the book first.  He will probably win as I actually have a real job and he is an outside salesman and can go park somewhere and just spend the day reading the book and drinking energy drinks!  My only chance is life actually throwing him some curve balls so he can't park and read, because I still read faster than he does.

Oh I'm taking the day off from blogging and editing my book to read this book and to try and beat my friend.  I don't understand his need to compete at everything, but since he does, I have to play also, it's a flaw in both of our nature.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Raising the Questions

What is it that makes a book GREAT!
It's the questions!
Being well written helps.  If it is grammatically correct, the reader isn't distracted by errors they stumble across.  Miss spelled words lower the opinion the reader may have of the author's knowledge of words, and this sticks with them.  A good story is a plus, and a base requirement to a good book.
I am finding more and more that how the story is told is almost as important if not more important than the story being told.  As I have been using almost every spare moment I have editing, correcting, rewriting pieces of my second book, I have become a much more critical reader.  It seems lately when reading other authors books I am catching mistakes, noticing the elements of style they use, or don't use.  I notice every piece of information that is introduced realizing as an author myself that what I am reading has more than likely been read over and combed over by beta readers, editors, and the author themselves to the point of being ridiculous before it gets to printing or submitted through the Internet for e-publishing.  Every useless word, repeat of information, unwarranted description has been stripped.  It has been worked over to make it as easy to read as possible, keep it correct, concise and to the point as possible.
So with that being understood and stated, I notice all the tidbits of information, the mentions of things that seem unimportant but help build to what's coming in the book.  Questions are created in the readers mind.  Some questions are presenting material or situations which begs questions that the reader will come up with on their own, to be answered or not answered at a point further along in the book.  Some questions are stated by characters within the story, again to be answered later in the book.  It is how the questions are presented?  When they are presented?  Stated or unstated, that builds an urge to continue reading.
As a reader you want to know the answers to the questions.  Why did that happen?  What is going to happen to so and so?  Sometimes the really good authors raise questions and by their means of answering the questions raise more questions than were there before you got your initial question answered.
I Brag, and I don't think Brag is too strong of a word here, about Mr. James Rollins, and his books.  I get frustrated when I read them because he presents questions, and then something else will happen, which makes you ask more questions.  Then something else happens, related or unrelated?  But this begs even more questions?  Characters come into the story and you don't know their loyalties, are they good guys or bad guys?  If you have read the Sigma Force Series there is a female character that you never really know, for sure, which side of the fence she is on and she is intelligent, a survivor, and lethal at best.  Everywhere and everything she is involved in has shades of no good all over it.  The end result is three or four chapters into one of his books you're on this roller coaster ride of action, with twenty new questions for every, one he might get around answering.  You don't have the luxury of getting comfortable with the most recent explosion, or near death run in, before you're thrown into the next set of problems and questions.  You're stuck frantically turning the pages, and when you don't think things can get any worse they always do.  I read what he has written about writing and how he likes to bring his readers up to a cliff through exciting action, peril, questions, and plot twists and then throw them off the cliff.  Which is about as accurate as you can get with Mr. Rollin's work, as it will not be a leisurely read for casual enjoyment, he won't afford you the luxury of relaxing.
Another great book in my opinion was Kate Morton's, "The Forgotten Garden," as I feel it could have easily been three or four full novels that she expertly twisted into one fine mystery story of the life of one little girl.  As with anything it never actually starts and ends with one person.  This book ends up encompassing the family she came from, the extraordinary circumstances of her mother, the girls actual life, her search for the truth about who she really is and where she really came from and because of a similar circumstance with her granddaughter to her life, it is left to her granddaughter to solve the puzzle she herself was so near discovering through her life.  If you want a fine example of a great story, told in just the right piece at just the right time, to keep you turning the pages and finding out the next piece to the puzzle, this is an excellent example.
With all of the great books I can remember, the crux of the matrix is the questions.  Some are slow, some are fast, some are good stories, some are great, some suspenseful, some slow, but it's the questions that are the key to the lock.  It's the plot that is the lock to be opened.  It is the suspense and tension of the stories and your relationship to the characters which determines how fast you have to get to the keys to unlock the story.
As a budding author who is writing this blog for others who are interested in pulling the pencil out of their eye and following in this wonderfully strange career known as being an author, it is a process.  A process which I learn more about with everything I read, and with everything I write.  Writing is such a mixture of so many things all twisted and wrapped up together, part real, part imagination, part being dramatic, part being too real.  It is playing with people's emotions, tugging at their heart strings, or tearing them out as Mr. Nicholas Sparks enjoys doing with his readers.  ( I honestly feel he owns stock in the Kleenex company.)
I wonder with so much that should and could go into a story to make up its many facets if I will ever develop to the point I can do that on a regular consistent basis.  I fear success as far as reaching the point, of the authors I have mentioned, because it begs the question.  How do you top your last book?  Right now, that's easy for me.  My unfinished second novel will kick the hell out of my first book every day of the week and twice on Sunday's.  By the time I get it finished it is going to be awesome, compared to my first book.
I have so far to go in this process that my really decent books won't be coming out for a few years yet.  Of course that is why I also have secretly hid away the series I refer to as my master piece series until I feel I am worthy enough as a writer to attempt doing them in the style in which they deserve.  So for the first few books it will be Wiley Randolph and crew in some decent adventures at sea.  With my second novel it will be Alexander Hawk, General Harrbinger, and Intel, and their saga they will rage against the Gators.  I am learning and improving along the way.  I really have nowhere to go but up!
If you're thinking about writing a book and you haven't started, start today.  You're never too young or too old.  If you have written a book, find an editor and fix it, then publish it.  While you're finding an editor and fixing your book start that next one!  If you're recently e-published, don't get discouraged, there are more books being published with e-books allowing people to side step the main stream establishment than ever before in history.  The amount of reading at this time is not going up.  I foresee a time in the near future where e-readers or the such will become so prolific and easy to get your hands on, that a natural rise in reading will take place around the world, especially in the parts of the world where people don't have as many avenues for getting reading material as easily as they do in the industrialized parts of the world.
I foresee a coming revolution of enlightenment from people reading and sharing ideas, stories, and writing more as a result of the current publishing revolution which is very definitely taking place in the world right now.  I feel the number of people reading in the world is going to grow in the next twenty to fifty years like the world hasn't seen since after books became somewhat readily available after printing presses started mass producing books and the explosion in reading during the eighteen hundreds and into the early nineteen hundreds.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Indie Book Lounge Interview

Tomorrow, June 19, 2011, Father's Day, I will have an interview posted about me and my book Whisper, and what's to come.  Please check it out at,

For those that read my blog and have not read my book, and are interested in reading it, goto click to buy, then at Check out use code TB43E to download it for FREE! 

Then please come back to Smashwords and leave a review of my book when your done reading it!
Oh Yeah, Tell all your friends about it!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Indie Book Lounge Interview

I almost forgot!
Sunday goto
and check out their Interview of ME!!

Also I did forget to post the Picture of Burt Munro's 1920 Indian

Breaking the Light Barrier

When I first read books about how to write science fiction there seemed to be a lot of discussions about which method of traveling faster than the speed light was correct or not correct.  There are arguments that you can't use faster than the speed of light because it is scientifically impossible to go faster than the speed of light.  If you want to use the same characters and have them travel about the universe and have different adventures you have to have some means of crossing these vast distances without them being cytogenetically frozen or animated, because frankly a ship of sleeping people isn't very exciting to read about.
Plus anybody who is a Star Trek fan knows why Deep Space Nine failed, because the ship didn't move.  Part of the excitement is some monstrous ship popping into to view to save or ruin the day depending upon the plot.
I am a huge fan of the movie, "The World's Fastest Indian," where Anthony Hopkins plays Burt Munro.  It is the true story of Burt Munro of Invercargill, New Zealand, who broke and still holds the worlds land speed record for under 1000cc on a motorcycle.  In 1920, Burt bought a 1920 Indian motorcycle from America.  It was the 627th one off the assembly line.  Originally this model of bike had a displacement of 600cc and a top speed of 55 mph.  Burt loved speed and as you can tell by the amount of money that goes into every form of racing every year, humans are obsessed with speed.  It wasn't long before he started modifying his motorcycle.  Eventually Burt wanted to know how fast his bike could actually go so he crated it up and brought it to America to race it during speed week at the Salt Flats, Utah.
Burt set his first world record in 1962 with the engine bored out to 850cc with an official record of 178.95 mph.  He set another record in 1966 at 168.066 mph.  Lastly in 1967 he got the record for 190.07 mph for under 1000cc on a motorcycle.  He still holds the record today; even he died at the age of 78 on June 6th, 1978.  That means he was 67 years old when he set his world land speed record!  Burt had an unofficial time of the flying mile where he was clocked at the flats at 205.67 mph.  He did all this on his 1920 Indian that was heavily modified.
I remember that when automobiles where created people said if you went faster than 30 mph you wouldn't be able to breathe.  The sound barrier was impossible to break, until Chuck Yeager blew the hell out of that.  Today we have jets that can do multiples of breaking the sound barrier.  It won't be some scientist who figures out how to go faster than the speed of light.  But someday some old fool crack pot with an old beat up space craft will just go "Beep. Beep." and Poof will disappear only to reappear later with some wild tale of flying through the Galaxy in seconds.
It takes the desire to push the limit, the tenacity to build it, and the balls to get on it and try it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Evolution of an Author

Not so long ago, I was jotting down story ideas, writing character descriptions, writing scenes for possible books I someday would possibly write, while I dreamed of writing a book.  In other spare moments I read author interviews, writing lessons from writers, and writer's blogs to gather what nuggets I could about this allusive goal I would someday go after.  I focused on the authors who I enjoyed reading their work.  Several of the authors I respected and considered established and successful wrote that until you write a million words or finish around 10 novels at approximately a hundred thousand words each you're not really a writer yet.  Now at the time I honestly thought, "How high and mighty we think of ourselves.  Really, a million words?  If you finish five full length novels you're still not really a writer?"
In 2010, I finished writing my first novel (rough draft) and wrote my second one (rough draft) while waiting to hear from my editor about corrections on the first one.  From what I have learned and experienced over the last year alone, I now believe they are whole heartedly right on target.  If that alone discourages you, you will not make it as a writer.  I heard a standup comedian, Lewis Black, say about a city that if you wanted to go there to take out a pencil and sharpen it and stab it in your eye!  When I heard that I thought what wonderful advice for want to be writers, because if you did that and still want to write then you might have what it is going to take to make it as a writer.
The other day I got a piece of my work back from my editor and she didn't correct anything per say, she had just re-organized what I had wrote into a completely new order within the section of dialogue that was going on.  Let me say again, she didn't correct anything but the order in which who said what!  It was all still there, just in a different order.  Yet the difference in how it read was incredible! It was brilliant! 
It is the little things, like that, that when I learn how to tell a story in the correct order, the best order, revealing just what you need to at just the right time.  Sprinkling the little pieces throughout the piece that all add up to making a great story out of a mediocre story.  Eliminating all your little bad habits in your writing.  Exposing all your laziness.  To hammer down the simplest concept with writing, to show, don't tell.  Editors are the blacksmiths of the metal that dream to be a beautiful sword someday.  If the editor is good enough and the steel is strong enough there is a chance it may take its final form someday!
The most basic forms of my style are just starting to peak at me through my writing.  I have learned and grown so much, and yet I am glad my editor is several states away because it would take quite a bit for her to come over and repeatedly bean me over the head with a frying pan for making the same mistake for the thousandth time.  I actually pray for her patience and not to drop me as a client and a work in progress. 
There are so many elements that have to come together in perfect harmony while your crafting your tale and sewing and weaving all these elements together within the constraints of language, grammar, vocabulary, style, and an awesome story with a plot, realistic characters in setting you can describe for your readers . . .  Yes, it will take at least a million words. 
Still here?  Then pull the pencil out of your eye socket, stuff a dirty rag in the hole and get busy on that masterpiece!  If you haven't found an editor, put the pencil back in your eye until you find one, seriously!  Happy Writing said the Cyclops with a pencil sticking out of his face.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Characters Real or not Real

I find when conversing with my friend Phillip Woody, who by the way came up with the title of my second book, and my editor about characters in the book and why they do this or that or what is going to happen to them, that I discuss the characters as if they were alive and real people.  It bothers me in the same way that some people will relate what happened on their favorite TV sitcom and this character did this or that like they are real people and that really happened.  Because I know they are characters and not real.  Yet when I catch myself defending a character or saying 'No they wouldn't do that, because of this . . .' then I get that feeling like OMG am I becoming a nerd who exists in some altered state of reality.
Through computer social networking I am coming in contact with many writers, including my role model, Mr. James Rollins, and I wonder if this is a common phenomenon that happens with writers and their characters?
Any writer, who is doing a large fictional book, and especially if it is going to be a series of books, needs to have a method of recording the characteristics, descriptions, events in the characters life and important details about the character so they can refer back and make sure things don't change throughout the series and make you look like a blooming idiot.  It is easy to forget that you mentioned them do this or that at a particular time and then contradict yourself later by having them do something else.
I have to confess I figured this out when writing my first novel and realized while editing it that Wiley Randolph's XO mentions his wife early in the book and then at the end of the book she had a different name.  So obviously I had to go back and change one of the sections of the book and I opted for changing the front of the book where her name was mentioned once rather than the end of the book where it is mentioned several times.  After that I started a new word document where I went through and described each character from their descriptions in the book and added any details brought out through the story.  This actually required reading the entire book slowly and continually flipping over to the other document to add facts and data as I read through the book.
For my second book I started with the story outline and the character sheet first and added to the character sheet as I wrote the book.  With "No Rules Of Engagement", it was suggested and for good reason, that I go through and attach dates and times to things to help readers keep track of when and where the action or scene is taking place.  More for when, as the book deals with troops using a time machine to jump from their current place and position in time to attack an enemy in a different place in time.  The subsequent jumps back and forth get confusing, so later in the book certain chapters actually have two date, time, and location stamps, to let you know where the main story and group are at in relation and in line with the beginning of the story and where the army is at and when they are at, while attacking the enemy.
So I have three documents as reference materials for my second book, and I know for the sequel I will be using or adding to these because they have been extremely valuable tools in helping me keep things straight and organized so I don't come off looking like a bigger fool than I already am.
Real or not Real was where we started from and as a writer I have come to know some of my characters rather intimately through the many hours I have spent shaping and modeling the extraordinary lives and the adventures they live.  They are in essence bits and pieces of my experience and people I have met throughout my forty-five years of existence.  The good and the bad all rolled together and pieced into flawed, hopefully believable, and mostly characters I hope my readers will come love and love to hate as much as I do.
One of the truly beautiful people I know, a lady from my book club, gave me a Christmas present of a sweat shirt that says on the front of it, "Beware, you might end up in my next novel!"  So friends of writers beware, because you may be forever enshrined in literature by your writer friend if you're not careful.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Interview Indie Book Lounge

The following is the questions and my answers that comprised the interview of me.

I am to be the featured Indie Author on the website http://www.indiebooklounge/
on June 19, 2011, which is a Sunday. 

IBL Interview questions:
1.  What was the first book you read that inspired you to become a writer?
     "Enders Game" by Orson Scott Card and all of James Rollins Books.
2.  Did you try the traditional publishing route before going indie and if so,
     what was that experience like?
     I did two or three years of intense research into publishing do's and
     don'ts and what it would require to be traditionally published.  Then
     I came up with a plan.
     Most of the authors I really admire say until you write 1 million words or
     finish 10 - 11 books you really haven't become a writer per say or found
     your style and niche.  So my plan was I would e-publish, build a
     following, and then sometime later if traditional publishing even looks like
     something I might be interested in, then I am not a complete unknown
     and have books for sale and a following to attract a agent and publisher.
3.  Besides the genre you currently write in, what other genre would you like
     to try?
     Right now I am writing Fiction Adventure Sci-Fi Writer and have at least
     30 stories I plan to write, several are series of books.  That will be
     enough to keep me busy for years.  I probably would try Horror if I did
     anything different.
4.  What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
     Conflict, Great characters, Intriguing problems where there is no clear
     cut right or wrong answer, Exotic setting to take the reader somewhere
     they have never been before.  Those are the basic ingredients and then
     with plot twists, and conflict with the characters.
5.  What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals,
     Every night after I get my two small boys in bed I sit with my computer
     from 8 or 8:30 till 12 to 12:30 writing, editing, or rewriting.
     Writing goes real fast!  Several Chapters a night, I just type like a mad
     man and get it down so I don't lose the ideas or story.
     Editing is slow maybe will get one or two chapters in one night.
     Rewriting is part editing and part totaling rewriting and I can get
     one or two chapters a night.  I wrote my second novel in the last half
     of 2010 and started the editing and rewriting process in February and am
     still at it.  Rewriting I am on Chapter 20 of 25, and editing with my
     editor were coming up on halfway.  Hope to publish it by September.
6.  Dogs or cats?
     Definitely a Cat person, did a great post on my blog about 'Neo the
     retarded Cat', that I had until very recently.
7.  Do you think people DO judge books by their cover?
     Unfortunately I think they do, one of the major things I love about
     E-Publishing is that you can let people download part of your book so
     people can try it and see if they like it.  I have sold 100 books on
     Smashwords but have had 139 downloads, which means 39 people have
     30% of my book and hopefully will come back and download and buy
     the rest of the book at some later date.
8.  What's the best and worst things about being an author?
     Hopefully someday it will be the money and that I can write full time.
     I'm not there yet, I am in the moonlighting stage where I work a full
      time job and help raise two kids and try to keep up my part of a
     marriage and write on the side every evening.  My favorite part of
     writing is all the times you ever read a book and you think you know
     where it is going or what might happen and it never gets there or goes
     as far as you wanted it to.  With writing I can get a crazy as I want,
     take it as far as I want.  I have found that part of my style that is
     emerging is I like to have the characters describe their plans and what
     is going to happen, and then like in real life nothing goes as plans, so
     they make new plans and guess what, well you just get stuck turning
     the pages.
     Worst Part would be editing because it goes so slow and not creative.
9.  What are you working on right now?
     "No Rules Of Engagement", My Second Novel, It has similarities to
     'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card.  I loved that book for many
     reasons but the sequels let me down considerably.  So years later I
     have written a book, where the only similar part is kids being trained
     to fight, but it is the first of at least three books for sure.  It is
     off the hook, edgy, foul language, with fast moving plot and faster
     action scenes.  Through the three books besides highly entertaining my
     audience I plan to tease and mess with their heads concerning topics
     such as warfare, religion, freedom, people working together for a
     common goal (survival).
10.  Besides writing, what other hobbies or interests do you have?
     I am very family oriented, love riding my motorcycle when I get a
     chance, love building models, drawing and painting, and have a great
     passion for reading.  Last year I read about 135 books, will not read as
     many this year because I am spending all my time trying to get my
     second novel ready to be published.  Writing has by far in the past two
     years become the primary passion of my life.  Through finding an
     awesome editor who I refer to in my blog as, my literary angel, she has
     shown me that editing makes your work shine, take wings and fly.

I am very excited about this because being a normal everyday person and being interviewed because someday people might be interested in the person behind the stories. This is only my second interview.  My first Interview was by Annebell Cadiz.  She is a staff member of Open Book Society website, a talented writer herself, and one of my blog followers. 

I suggest for writers to submit submissions to Open Book Society and the Indie Book Lounge.  Open Book Society actually had Miss Cadiz read my book and review it on their site, extremely thorough process!

I strongly encourage any Indie or New author to have your work professionally edited!  If your looking for help my Literary Angel has recently started looking to take on more clients.  Her Blog and a way to contact her is :

If you have any questions that you would like answered feel free to leave a comment and I will answer them for you in a later post.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer colds and Tooting

I have the remnants of a cold I had last week.  I keep thinking I'm feeling better and then wake up to a day like today were I'm stuffy as if I have the flu.  You still have to get up and go do all the wonderful things you need to do.  I think part of it is allergies on top of a sinus infection and an ear infection, but I am not a doctor and don't like or believe in doctors anymore (it a personal choice), so I will suffer and let my body kick this.  I used to believe in doctors and medicine until I got old enough to realize it's a business and a racket, otherwise medicine would be free and doctors would still do house calls.
If they had the cure for the common cold, my reoccurring ear infections, or Cancer they wouldn't release it because there is too much money to be made in selling drugs and treating the symptoms than there is in curing it.  Doctors don't care if you get better as it is more profitable to have you come back every month and let the insurance companies, drug companies and the doctors all get their piece of your hard earned money which you need to afford gas, cell phone bills and the ultimate cable package.  Which don't get me started on Television!
When I was a kid we had three channels, and most of the time we played outside, I don't remember there being an obesity problem and we drank the shit out of Kool Aid loaded with sugar all day long.  Now there are hundreds of channels and nothing worth a shit to watch most of the time and kids hardly ever play outside and run around and now I hear that Kool Aid isn't good for kids because it has too much sugar!  It wouldn't matter if they are running their butts off playing all day!
Feeling better already, all I needed was a good Rant!
Anyway . . .
At the end of May a wonderful website I am signed up with announced that it was going to start featuring a new author everyday starting in June.  They sent out some questions for the authors to answer for their interviews and so I took one of my evenings and answered all the questions and sent it back.  I was notified Monday that I will be the featured Author on this website on June 19th which is a Sunday!  The website is called Indie Book Lounge and it is for Independent Authors to get together and help each other, network, and help each other spread the word and promote their books!
I will post my interview questions and answers here at a later time, but those who follow my blog may want to check them out and get the inside scoop on the new upcoming authors of the publishing revolution known as Indie Authors!!
Is it tooting your own horn if you post something somebody else wrote about you, to you?
Toot Toot, I don't feel good and this the best pick me up as I have got, Toot!
Anyway a long time friend and the person who held my position at my day job before I took it over read my first book and wrote me a wonderful E-mail and I wanted to share it with my readers who have been following along on my adventures in trying to become an author.  Since I started this I think one of the biggest things authors have to deal with is the question of whether their writing is really good.  Is it engaging?  Fun for the reader?  Exciting?  So when we get reviews done of our work or receive pieces of praise it helps us validate all the time and effort that went into our work over many months.  It helps us keep plowing away with our next project knowing someday we will make it to the end of it and publish yet another.  When we want to build a following and know that person by person over many months they have several people who are actually waiting for that next book to come out to pounce on it.
I brag about James Rollins all the time and I am impatiently waiting for Devil Colony to come out in three hundred and twenty six hours!!  I can't wait until people are as baited for my next masterpiece to hit the market.  I am getting there with my friend Mike I am at a total of three diehard fans waiting for "No Rules Of Engagement" to be published.  I am biased but it makes my first book look like crap by comparison, but I had to start somewhere.  The following is what my friend wrote about my book.

I am sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you about your book.  As you know I downloaded your book a while back.  I had about three books in line to read before I got to yours.  I am in Wichita on business but finally sat down last night to begin reading “Whisper”.  Once I began I could not put it down and read the entire book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and because of this I would immediately buy another book by this author…do you have another book available?  If so how do I get it?  I am not a science fiction fan per say so I probably would never have picked this book off of a store shelf but I absolutely enjoyed it.  As I said I began reading last night and couldn’t put it down until I was finished.  Congratulations and job well done!!

Mike Crouch
T3 Dealer Development Manager
Tire Centers, LLC.

Thank You Mike.  I am feverishly working every evening on finishing my second book.  The target date is September 11, 2011.  I picked that day because it happened to be the birthday of the main character in the book.
Again for anybody stumbling across my blog and has not read "Whisper" you can find it at:
Times are tough and I still need exposure more than money so if you E-mail me at and say "I would love to read your book," I will reply with a CODE to use at check out to download the book for free at Smashwords dot com.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In My Minds Eye - a comment left about my post.

Kevin is a close friend and inspiration to me, so when he left a comment on on my post I wanted to post it so it appear and everybody can see it.  Thank You Kevin.

In My Minds Eye said...
This one made me cry. Vivid picture in my mind of those times and how blessed I am to be living in this generation, however; saddens me too, agreeing wholeheartedly with your comments "when I see shades of the early Nazi party in one of the current political parties of this country." Does make me angry!. God Help me to stand together with my fellow Americans and say "Enough is enough!" We DO need to get tough and not let things get so far away from us that our children will have to try and stop what we blatantly ignored.
Blessings to you Tom! Keep up the great writing! You're number one Fan!!! Kev

June 7, and still alive!

It dawned on me this morning what it would have felt like to be a foreigner in France on June 7, 1944.  D-Day is over!  You are in a foreign country, you're alive.  You have no idea how long you will be here.  Hell you have no idea if you will survive the war.
Imagine what that must have felt like to participate in such an event, such a dramatic pivotal point in history and survived.  Faced with the unknown, being in a foreign country and looking forward to surviving long enough to see other countries and someday even the chance at returning home.
You will not return the same person you left as.  There would be no way to go through what those people did and not have it totally change who they were, how they thought about things, and their view of the world.  No certainty, no guarantees, being part of the conflict and most of the world being at war with each other.
As I ponder these thoughts and try to imagine what that must have felt like, it makes the things in my life seem trivial by comparison.  I knew these people as old men when I was younger; my Grandfather, my Great Uncle Garth who my son is named after.  I thought they were a bit too tough, too set in their ways, and very idealistic.  But looking back as an older person myself I see they had to be that way.  What they endured, fought for, and came home and created with their lives, made them the way that they were.  We should maybe be a bit more idealistic, demand better from our leaders and those we chose to glorify by praise and respect.  I look at the heroes and stars of today, the top people in the news and tabloids and think, "Really!  Seriously!  You have got to be kidding!"
We need to be harder on ourselves, as American's.  We need to strive more to help our companies we work for to do more with less, so we can be more competitive in the world market place.  We need to stand up for things like freedom of religion, all of them!  Freedom of speech!  Freedom of ideas!  The right to bear arms!  We should defend our borders, our language, and our heritage as Americans!
We should not let groups strip Christianity from our government and from being displayed in public.  America was founded as a Christian country with tolerance and understanding to other people's beliefs.  To attack Christianity is to attack the very country providing your freedom to practice whatever religion you want.  For those who wish to destroy and assimilate our country by tearing down its foundations, will they be as tolerant to freedom, or freedoms of the people who are left.
It can be argued that America is the great social experiment.  Can a country exist and provide freedom and understanding for all people and all their different beliefs?  Can such a group of people actually manage to rule themselves and exist in the modern world?  As a country we are still very young.  The truth of where our country ends up and how it turns out is in our hands at this time.  By turning our backs on many of the things that our country was founded on we are destroying the core and foundation of what this country was built upon.  It is what our forefathers wanted for our country, and what generations of Americans have fought to defend.
It scares me when I see shades of the early Nazi party in one of the current political parties of this country.  Originally the National Socialist German Workers Party is what turned into the Nazi Party and not just the Germans stood by and let it flourish and take control but the entire world stood by and watched it grow and flourish into power.
It scares me because people say it could never happen here, we wouldn't let it.  Yet day by day we sell and give our freedom away by allowing things to change without standing up to say "Enough is enough!"  It's about time the American people took back our country from the idiots who think they can steal, cheat, change our country any way they want to because we will stand by and let them.
1942 Oct 5 By accident, Hermann Graebe, a German engineer and manager of a German construction firm in the Ukraine, and his foreman, came upon an Einsatz execution squad killing Jews from the small town of Dubno in the Ukraine. He gave the following eyewitness account:
"My foreman and I went directly to the pits.  Nobody bothered us.  Now I heard rifle shots in quick succession from behind one of the earth mounds.  The people who had got off the trucks - men, women and children of all ages - had to undress upon the order of an SS man who carried a riding or dog whip.
They had to put down their clothes in fixed places, sorted according to shoes, top clothing and undergarments.  I saw heaps of shoes of about 800 to 1000 pairs, great piles of under-linen and clothing.  Without screaming or weeping these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewells, and waited for a sign from another SS man, who stood near the pit, also with a whip in his hand.
During the fifteen minutes I stood near, I heard no complaint or plea for mercy. I watched a family of about eight persons, a man and a woman both of about fifty, with their children of about twenty to twenty-four, and two grown-up daughters about twenty-eight or twenty-nine.  An old woman with snow white hair was holding a one year old child in her arms and singing to it and tickling it.  The child was cooing with delight.  The parents were looking on with tears in their eyes.  The father was holding the hand of a boy about ten years old and speaking to him softly; the boy was fighting his tears.  The father pointed to the sky, stroked his head and seemed to explain something to him.
At that moment the SS man at the pit started shouting something to his comrade.  The latter counted off about twenty persons and instructed them to go behind the earth mound.  Among them was the family I have just mentioned.  I well remember a girl, slim with black hair, who, as she passed me, pointed to herself and said, "twenty-three years old."  I walked around the mound and found myself confronted by a tremendous grave.  People were closely wedged together and lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible.  Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads.  Some of the people shot were still moving.  Some were lifting their arms and turning their heads to show that they were still alive.  The pit was nearly two-thirds full.
I estimated that it already contained about a thousand people. I looked for the man who did the shooting.  He was an SS man, who sat at the edge of the narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit.  He had a tommy-gun on his knees and was smoking a cigarette.
The people, completely naked, went down some steps which were cut in the clay wall of the pit and clambered over the heads of the people lying there to the place to which the SS man directed them.  They lay down in front of the dead or wounded people; some caressed those who were still alive and spoke to them in a low voice.  Then I heard a series of shots. I looked into the pit and saw that the bodies were twitching or the heads lying already motionless on top of the bodies that lay beneath them.  Blood was running from their necks.  The next batch was approaching already.  They went down into the pit, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot."
Anything can happen by good people not getting involved, not saying enough!  Our grandparents understood this because it was mostly their generation that had to stop the shit caused by the apathy of the generation before them.  They fought the fight to say enough was enough.
June 7, and still alive!  Let your actions, words and life not let their sacrifices be in vain.  Let's get tough and not let things spiral out of control before our children have to stop what we tried to ignore.  Because I can't imagine holding my children and trying to keep them calm and express my love to them, moments before someone else kills me, them and my entire family, outside, naked, in a mass grave.

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