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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

sneak preview -- my second murder mystery

Murder Bleeds
A Lavinia Stout Murder Mystery

By Tessa B. Dick


Chapter One

I keep my license with me at all times, even when I am outside California, the only state where it is valid. The shiny, officially embossed, laminated piece of wallet-size paper rests inside one of those plastic pouches that are designed to keep your fishing license dry, even if you fall into a lake. My license reads: Lavinia Stout, Licensed Private investigator. My friends call me Livvy, while other people try to stifle a giggle when they call me Miss Stout, a name that evokes an image quite the opposite of my short, thin body.

I never expected to find myself investigating vampires, even though I thoroughly enjoyed that old TV show “Kolchak, the Night Stalker”. Fantasy is fine for entertainment, but a detective deals in facts.

I’ll explain later how I came to be riding on a Greyhound bus from Phoenix, Arizona, to San Bernardino, California. Let’s just say that my dependable old Honda Accord had finally met its end, not due to any fault of its own, but courtesy of a reckless driver who shared the road with me. I would like to point out here that it’s quite comfortable sleeping in the driver’s seat of a Honda Accord when you recline the seat back as far as it will go.

I had arrived at the station about seven in the morning, but the 8:30 bus was already sold out, so I bought a ticket for the next bus to San Bernardino, which was scheduled for 11:30. If I had known how much it would cost me for a one-way ticket with one checked bag, I might have gone to the airport instead. It would have cost about the same to fly from Phoenix to Ontario, a trip of less than an hour. I was slightly annoyed when they weighed my bag and charged me a couple bucks extra for it, as if this were an airline, where the weight of the load would make a real difference in the fuel consumption. It was too late to change my mind now, since I was too tired to navigate the Phoenix bus system and too cheap to pay for a taxi cab. Moreover, Homeland Security rules made the last-minute purchase of a one-way airline ticket look very suspicious, and I didn’t feel up to having my bags and body searched.

I had come a long way since putting up the new sign on my storefront in the strip mall back home: Lavinia Stout, Private Investigator, replacing Madame Lavinia, Psychic Readings. Somehow, my name seemed to fit the psychic reader more than the detective, but there was no going back now. Ever since my adventure with Mark and Doris Bell in Denver, I had no more taste for deception. But I hadn’t expected to get myself into so much trouble by changing careers. I had rescued the victim of a gang attack, only to have him turn on me and try to strangle me, been accused of murdering a man that I barely knew and sent on a fool’s errand to Phoenix in the middle of summer, when the heat was unbearable. It was actually 117 degrees Fahrenheit, with no spot of shade to be found. At least the bus station was air conditioned, but they kept it so cold that I had to wear a sweater.

The 8:30 bus came and went, leaving about a dozen people still waiting in line because the bus was full. I surveyed the other passengers at the Phoenix station, wondering whether I would be riding with any of them – even the thought of the shadowy people that I had encountered back in the mountains sent a shiver through my spine like a cat wrapping itself around a pole. I had begun to believe that vampires were real. They certainly did drink blood, but sunlight didn’t seem to bother them, and they even wore large silver crosses on their black leather outfits. Even so, a few of them did seem to have an uncanny ability to appear out of nowhere and disappear just as mysteriously.

The people in the bus station seemed ordinary enough. I first noticed two young Chinese men who sat on their suitcases conversing in their native language. From their clothing – black slacks and white shirts – I guessed that they were college students. From their haircuts – long on one side and very stylish – I guessed that they were from Taiwan and had money. I wondered why they didn’t rent a car.

A couple with three small children waited in the priority boarding line where you could be assured of a seat and you could get on the bus ahead of ordinary passengers, for a fee of $5 for each adult. If I had small children, I would have thought it well worth the extra money. I also noticed that the woman had another baby coming; she appeared to be about ready to give birth at any moment. I hoped that it wouldn’t happen before we got to San Bernardino.

A blond man with a backpack that looked too heavy for his thin frame explained to me that he had been trying to get on a bus since midnight, but Greyhound had oversold the seats and he kept getting bumped. That sounded like another good reason to pay for priority boarding. I considered it, but my parsimonious nature prevailed.

I made my way to the coffee shop nestled in a room about the size of a cubby hole set into the wall opposite the ticket counter, weaving a path among bags and boxes sitting on the floor and waiting passengers in various poses, until finally I approached the few overpriced items of food and drink that they offered. A standing rack made of folded cardboard displayed paperback books with garish covers. Half a dozen little round, white plastic tables stood just outside the coffee shop, and a few generous people had left magazines and newspapers on the tables for others to read. I bought a small cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. It cost me almost $6, which I considered outrageous, but I needed the caffeine and calories.

Various announcements came over the loudspeaker from time to time, but it was so crackly that I couldn’t make out what they were saying. Passengers lined up and boarded buses for various locations in Arizona and New Mexico, but the line for San Bernardino stayed put. People milled around, talked to each other, watched cartoons on the overhead television set and sometimes sat on the steel benches that had been provided by some twisted sadist. If you had a pillow, sitting on those benches could be made less painful. I did not have a pillow. The waiting time dragged like an abused puppy who is afraid to walk on a leash.

When I first arrived at the station, one of the two overhead television sets had been showing the cable news, but at 9:00 it switched to the same cartoons that were on the other set. I set my bag down on the floor and sat on it, which turned out to be much more comfortable than the steel benches.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Flickering Reality -- book review

So sorry that it took me this long to figure out how to upload my stuff at the library. It's a long story, but I no longer have Internet at home. I'm really broke and unable to work, and still trying to maneuver thru the disability maze.

Here's my review of A Flickering Reality, and great nonfiction book that looks at alternate reailty in film.

David Peat’s A Flickering Reality: Cinema and the nature of reality

My interest in this book began form the fact that it discusses some of the films that have been based on books and stories by my husband Philip K. Dick. However, the value of the work does not end there. In fact, David Peat outlines our recent technological history with a view to the reasons why our reality is very much like the movies, as well as the reasons why computers cannot achieve true artificial intelligence, but only an approximation thereof.

I found myself immersed in David Peat’s train of thought as he led me through the mirrors of mind, movie and reality. He explores the meaning of human consciousness while focusing on films like The Truman Show, The Matrix and The Men who Stare at Goats.

This exploration of science and philosophy goes beyond the movies to the fabric of our reality and the essence of ourselves.

Peat invites us to speculate as to whether we live in a simulated reality and whether we, ourselves are real.

It’s a fascinating read.

Five stars out of five.

Excellent!

David Peat
A Flickering Reality: Cinema and the nature of reality
Pari, Italy: Pari Publishing, 2011

~~~

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

thank God for the public library

`
Now that I have no Internet at home, due to financial problems, I am limited to one hour of Internet access at the publikc library, whcih would not be so bad if I didn't have to alk a mile to get here.

I still have no car, so I hoof it everywhere.

~~~

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pre-crime in the real world

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In Philip K. Dick's story (and the Tom Cruise film), mutants with precognitive abilities predict that someone will commit a crime, so the police can arrest them and prevent them from committing the crime.

In the real world, a computer program uses an algorithm to predict crime. Police in Santa Cruz, California are actually using it to prevent burglaries and car break-ins.

The heart of the program is the belief that criminals often commit a second or third crime in the same location and the same time as a first successful crime. For example, if a burglar is successful breaking into a home at 2 p.m. in a certain neighborhood because no
one is home, the criminal will use that experience to do it again to another house in the same neighborhood around the same time.

In the case of Santa Cruz, on California’s central coast and home to a University of California campus, that would be about four days later.

The algorithm knows this because Mohler has fed eight years of data on crimes in Santa Cruz into the algorithm.

http://www.clusterflock.org/2011/09/unlike-philip-k-dicks-novel-the-minority-report-or-the-film-inspired-by-the-novel-the-program-relies-on-algorithms-and-not-mutants-to-predict-the-likelihood-of-something-happening.html

~~~

Friday, September 16, 2011

Natural health products

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I have joined a new affiliate program to help me make a few bucks and provide my readers with some awesome natural health products.

Please check it out:

The Natural News Store

Thank you so much!

~~~

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Arranger -- book review & giveaway

One commenter on this post will receive a free ebook (pdf) copy of the novel The Arranger by L.J. Sellers.

L.J. Sellers writes thrillers in a sparse journalistic style. In fact,they are too sparse for my taste. I want to see more description of the setting, as well as more character development. That having been said, these novels keep me riveted from page one to the end.

I recently reviewed Sellers' Secrets to Die For, with basically the same criticism. The Arranger creates suspense and maintains it, but I still want more depth.

The story begins with Lara, an emergency medical technician, explaining to a woman how she can get her husband treated at an emergency room, despite the fact that he does not have a "med card". Perhaps this is a British thing, but to my American sensibilities, it sounds futuristic. Our emergency rooms treat anybody who walks, crawls or is carried in.

Nope, it isn't a British thing, since it takes place among the Sequoias, i.e. the redwood forest, which can be only California or Florida-0 I was wrong -- it's Oregon. I'm confused, but the story carries me along as Lara gets shot at, chased by a large dog and generally attacked. This seems strange and surreal.

She is taking part in the Gauntlet, whatever that is, running around taking care of emergency medical problems with a variety of futuristic bandages and such. Her van is equipped with a computer that has Internet access. She doesn't have a partner, which is odd. I'm not an expert, but I do know that paramedics never work solo.

Sure enough, the conflict keeps me reading, the tension never eases, and yet I hate being so confused. Things need to be explained. This poor reader is floundering.

The Arranger is good, but not as good as Secrets to Die For.

Three out of five stars. Recommended, but not Sellers' best effort.

~~~
This review is part of Nurture Book Tourz

September 7th – Mason C. @ Thoughts in Progress - May giveaway One (1) eBook Copy

September 7th – Christina I. @ Middle of the Road Reviews - May giveaway One (1) Print Copy

September 8th – April R. @ My Book Addiction and More - May giveaway One (1) Print Copy

September 8th – Sue F. @ Books, Books, The Magical Fruit - May giveaway One (1) eBook Copy

September 9th – Laurie J. @ Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews - May giveaway One (1) Print Copy
September 12th – Aparajita B. @ Le’ Grande Codex - May giveaway One (1) eBook Copy

September 12th – Jaidis S. @ Juniper Grove


FOR THE COMPLETE SCHEDULE, HERE IS THE

Link to the author's tour page: http://nurtureyourbooks.com/vbtblog/?p=1757

~~~

Here are some more useful links:

Where you can find & follow L.J. Sellers:

Author Website

Author Blog

Twitter

Facebook Page

Facebook Profile

Goodreads Profile


Buy the BOOK at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca


Amazon.co.uk



Author Blog

Independent Bookstores (by request)

~~~

And remember, one commenter on this post will receive a free pdf of the novel The Arranger by L.J. Sellers.

8-)

~~~

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cell phone blues got you down?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Cell phones -=- for all their convenience and versatility -- have become a source of frustration for me.  The bill can break me, the signal can fade out -- basically, the major problem for me has been that I lose minutes that expire and pay way too much for the service that I do use.  

Whether it was a year or two on a contract with a "free" phone, or a prepaid plan with a cheap phone, I've always felt ripped off my cell phone companies.

Then I found <b>Straight Talk</b>.

Hook, line and sinker


• First, you feel much better about the cost of Straight Talk because you cut my cell phone bill in half -- and with no contract!  

We'd have to be crazy to sign a months-long or years-long contract, when we can get everything we need without one.

• Imagine the amount of money you could save switching to Straight Talk.  There's lots of things you can buy with the extra money you save.

• There are no contracts, no surprise bills and no credit checks.  And the service is reliable.

Straight Talk has great nationwide coverage and excellent reception/connectivity.

Finally, Straight Talk uses only trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung.

They do have plans, so let's take a look at some of them.

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• The “All You Need Plan” meets even the needs of heavy phone users with 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 30 MB of web data.

• Unlimited Monthly service is only $45, and includes calls, text, picture messaging, and web.

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• 411 calls are included at no extra charge.

• Free from activation, reactivation, or termination fees

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Everything you need

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For more information on what these phones offer, please check out these YouTube videos:
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  ~~~

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vampires on the loose -- book review, Stargazer, by Miguel Conner

`
“And we might once again gaze at stars.” (p. 41)

In a post-apocalyptic world, Stargazers raise Warm Ones on farms, harvest them for their blood and use them for sport. The best literature leads us to feel sympathy for the villain, but in this novel the villain is also the hero, which increases our sympathy to an excruciating level. We get a look at ourselves through the looking glass of the night sky.

The Stargazers are vampires. They consider the Warm Ones animals, even though they look a lot like Stargazers and have language and culture. For all their superiority, the Stargazers suffer from one major weakness and one minor weakness – they are helpless while the sun is in the sky, and they stifle creativity in their society.

When Byron, branded a heretic by the Stargazer Elders, meets a Warm One and gets to know her as a person, the conflict turns from external to internal. As Alice learned, one should never get to know one’s food by name; such familiarity makes it impossible to eat it.

As with most self-published books, this one could use a good copy editor. However, the minor typographical errors do not stop me from plowing through the story. I want to know what happens next.

On the larger scale, will the air pollution clear up to reveal the stars that once dotted the night sky? On the medium scale, will the Elders relax the draconian laws that restrict the lives of the Stargazers? On the small scale, will Byron survive to complete his mission?

On the most personal level, at least for us Warm Ones (humans), will the human race triumph over the vampires?

Read Miguel Conner’s Stargazer to find out.

Stargazer
by Miguel Conner
2011, Aeon Byte Press
280 pages

Available at Barnes & Noble

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Stargazer/Miguel-Conner/e/9780615367217/?itm=1&USRI=stargazer+miguel+conner

Also available on Amazon Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Stargazer-Dark-Instinct-Book-ebook/dp/B004XDA0HI/ref=kinw_dp_ke?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

and Barnes & Noble Nook

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Stargazer/Miguel-Conner/e/2940012275714/?itm=1&USRI=miguel+conner+stargazer

~~~





~~~

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What I'm reading now

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I have a number things to read every day, but books are still my first love.

Here's what I'm focused (more or less) on at the moment:

Stargazer by Miguel Conner, a novel about a vampire with a conscience living in a post-apocalyptic world. This is my favorite novel at the moment.

A Flickering Reality by F. David Peat, an exploration of -- well, as the subtitle says, "Cinema and the nature of reality" -- it mentions Philip K. Dick. This book interests me because I have studied film and taught several film classes.

The Arranger by L.J. Sellers, a detective / thriller novel written in journalistic style, fast-paced and exciting.

Reviews will eventually appear on this blog.

What are YOU reading? Any recommendations?

~~~

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another attack on small family farms

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Small farmers built this nation, and they are under increasing attack from the very nation they built.

Here is just one more example of those attacks:

More on raw milk raids

Since when it is the business of government to tell us what we can and can't eat?

We can eat raw oysters, raw fish and raw steak, but NOT raw milk! Of course not, since the organic farmers compete with large corporate dairies! Raw milk is not inherently dangerous,a nd pasteurized milk is not inherently safe.

Pasteurization simply reduces the number of bacteria, a step which makes the milk from large factory farms less dangerous.

Raw milk is safe when produced from healthy cows kept in clean conditions. Pateurized milk is not safe when produced from unhealthy cows in filthy conditions.

(NaturalNews) The Rawesome Foods raid that took place August 3, 2011, is being publicly described by many as an act of "government terrorism" against innocents

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/033318_government_agents_Rawesome_Foods.html#ixzz1V3XcZ100

~~~

Friday, August 12, 2011

Produce raw milk, go to jail!

`
A small Amish farmer was treated the same as a drug lord selling dangerous drugs, just because he sold raw milk. In other words, his milk was not pasteurized. And for this, the federal government spent tens of thousands of our tax dollars on a year-long investigation of a small farmer. This is not the only case -- it is happening all over the nation.

The same people who eat sushi, steak tartar and raw oysters have made raw milk illegal, regardless of whether it is safe.

The truth is that pasteurization only reduces the chances of milk being contaminated with bacteria. And factory dairies that produce milk in unsafe conditions must pasteurize their milk product because they produce that milk in filthy conditions.

Moreover, who is the government to tell us what kind of food we may or may not eat? They are simply trying to put a stop to the organic food movement and to eliminate small farmers who take a market share away from the corporate factory farms.

In the end, this is a matter of personal choice.



~~~

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Neil Diamond still going strong - and still inspiring

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When I was a teenager and feeling worthless and hopeless, Neil Diamond's music saved what little sanity I had left.  This particular song was playing on the radio several times a day.  "I am, I said"

And at age 70, he is still going strong with that wonderful voice and his marvelous songs.

I remember being at school and doing my work while the radio played this and other Neil Diamond songs.

The spiritual quality of his music still touches my heart and my soul.




Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sample of PKD handwriting

`
Thought this might interest fans of Phil:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer

`

Book Review:  Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer
being the story of a regular guy
who learns how to animate and command the dead
a death-comedy novel by
George Dalphin

Narrated by an extra-dimensional alien, this novel presents a post-Bob world in which a new religion has taken hold, despite the best efforts of Bob to avoid such an outcome. The opening sentence of Chapter 1 reminds me of Snoopy’s novel, “It was a dark and stormy night.”  Not a good omen.  I question the metaphor, “merely a cardboard cutout of the sun behind the clouds” as an unlikely sight.

Somehow it reminds me of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Not that the plot is similar, because it isn’t, but because it has that same tongue-in-cheek humor that you often find in British literature. 

Bob’s girlfriend Anna breaks up with him because he has never grown up, depends on her for money and even for a working shower and is, in short, a man-child.  This inauspicious opening leads to Bob’s discovery of the secret of life – or more properly, the key to reversing death.

Armed with an ancient book that only he can read, Bob sets out to put his own life in order.  He has no plans for the rest of the world, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. 

Bob Wacszowski, Necromancer is fun to read, despite some awkward phrases and clumsy sentence constructions.  The story will take you far into the depths of your own mind and then back again to the everyday world which we call reality.

On a scale of one to five, I give it four stars.

  ~~~


Available on Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Bob-Wacszowski-Necromancer-George-Dalphin/dp/1460998170/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312145217&sr=1-1

  ~~~ 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The last re-write

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My guest post on Blogging Authors is live now.


"The Last Re-Write"


One of the biggest mistakes that novice writers make is considering the manuscript finished when they have reached the last page and typed “The End”.  The story has come to an end, and the plot has been resolved, but the threads within the story nearly always need to be drawn together.


To read more, please visit:


http://www.bloggingauthors.com/blogging_authors/2011/7/6/the-last-re-write.html


  ~~~ 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Kindle author interview - Murder Lies

`
David Wisehart was kind enough to post an interview with me about my Kindle book Murder Lies.

http://kindle-author.blogspot.com/2011/07/kindle-author-interview-tessa-dick.html

If you have a Kindle book, you can apply to have him interview you, too!




  ~~~

Thursday, June 30, 2011

California killed my Amazon store

`
California killed my Amazon store.  


In an attempt to collect sales taxes from stores outside the state, the California government has decided that my association with Amazon gives them a physical presence in California, thus requiring Amazon to pay sales tax to California when people buy things from out-of-state merchants. 

So Amazon has terminated all California affiliates.  Of course, this means that our state government will not get the sales taxes, and they will lose a huge amount of income tax. 

Meanwhile, little people like me are getting hurt financially.

Here's what Amazon said to me:


Unfortunately, Governor Brown has signed into law the bill that we emailed you about earlier today. As a result of this, contracts with all California residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program are terminated effective today, June 29, 2011. Those California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned before today will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.
You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of California. If you are not currently a resident of California, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.
To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to California residents and will not affect your ability to purchase from Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com.
We have enjoyed working with you and other California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to California residents. As mentioned before, we are continuing to work on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available.
Regards,
The Amazon Associates Team

  ~~~

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Epilogue to My Life on the Edge of Reality

`
If you bought the first edition of my memoir Tessa B. Dick: My Life on the Edge of Reality, then you need to see the Epilogue that I added to the second edition.

Here it is:


EPILOGUE

“You will remember.” Phil insisted.  “And you will write about it.”

Those words echoed in my mind for many years after his sudden and unexpected death from a series of massive strokes.  I wrote about it many times, but my books and articles failed to find a market in the traditional publishing industry.  Finally, when the Internet began to grow up, the POD (Publishing on Demand) industry gave me an outlet for these words. 

I remember, and I write.  The last time I saw Phil, he demanded and pleaded that I write about his experiences.  I take that mission very seriously.

He never saw the riches that his works have produced since Hollywood discovered that his stories are marketable as movies.  The money from Bladerunner allowed him to buy his condominium apartment and a little red sports car (a Mercury Capris, the last model made in Germany).  However, Phil never basked in luxury.  He continued to lead a middle-class life in Santa Ana, California, until God took him home.

He continued searching for his soul mate, but he never found her.  I like to think that I was sitting right there on his sofa, the dark-haired girl that he wrote about in one of his few nonfiction books.  Neither of us was suited to a normal life with a regular job, family picnics and soccer games, although we both tried to fit in to that template. 

We could be happy with a few cats and a small garden, but we wanted the stars.   

Coffee flowed and cigarettes burned while we discussed the nature of reality, the reality of hallucinations and the meaning of everything. 

Phil was the only person I could talk to about the demons that haunted me.  He often said that I was the only person he could talk to about his visionary experience.  We both seemed to be living in two realities, one shared by the rest of humanity and the other ethereal but almost tangible.  Shadowy figures would walk through the walls and watch us from the corners of the room.  Some would disappear when we saw them or spoke to them, while others would engage in conversation.  They didn’t seem to have answers for us; in fact, they asked us questions about our world. 

Some of them claimed to be time travelers from our future.  They were trying to change our world in order to improve their world.  They lived in a nightmare created by their own eugenics program.  No longer able to reproduce naturally, they attempted cloning with less than desirable results.  They had damaged their own DNA so badly, and limited their gene pool so severely, that they needed to reach into the past to find viable genetic lines.  If they could protect those lines from the coming global disaster, they could find people in their time with viable DNA.  

They could not grab some DNA from us to take back to their time and use it.  They had to make sure that our descendants survived into their time.  Failing that, they hoped to find burials and extract DNA from the dead. 

Other visitors seemed to be more concerned with religion than with science or the future.  Phil read John Allegro’s book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross at least three times, taking notes and discussing it in depth.  Allegro, who had early access to the Dead Sea Scrolls, shocked his colleagues with his theory that the early Christians were using hallucinogenic mushrooms and worshipping pine trees. 

Phil and I alternated between believing everything and doubting everything.  We were children exploring a treasure cave in the woods. 

Phil was a loving father to our son Christopher, but I could not live with him during that period when I was going to college.  Phil stubbornly resisted my attempts to get outside of our own little universe, to meet people and gain knowledge.  He wanted to keep me for himself, trapped in the house like some treasure that you bring out only on special occasions.  He feared that I would leave him for another man, but that never happened.  In fact, Phil left me to take care of Doris Sauter, who had terminal cancer but is still alive thirty-plus years later. 

Phil thought that he could come back to me when Doris moved out, but I couldn’t keep up the rent on our little house on Santa Ysabel in Fullerton, and he had moved into an apartment where children were not allowed.  So we visited often and stayed late into the night, our young son enjoying time with his father while we discussed religion, philosophy, psychology and more. 

I finished my associate degree at Fullerton Community College and went on to Chapman College, where several of my professors were big fans of Phil’s work.  My major had been pre-medicine, but my associate degree was in foreign language, so I majored in communications and went on to take a master’s degree in English literature.  The wide-ranging education that Chapman College gave me has served me well over the years.  My original goal was to become a veterinarian, but I soon realized that I wanted to be a science writer.  That second goal never bore fruit, either. 

However, Phil and I grew closer over the years as we both realized that neither of us wanted anybody else.  We were planning to remarry on our wedding anniversary, April 18, but Phil died on March 2. 

I was devastated, as was our son.  Christopher was only nine years old when he lost his father, and he still feels the pain of that loss. 

I hope that my words keep Phil’s memory alive.  His body has failed, but his words and his spirit live on.

~~~~~

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: "Secrets" - A thrilling who-done-it


Book Review:  Secrets -  A thrilling who-done-it by S. L. Pierce.


This murder mystery is a real page-turner with plenty of action, plot twists and suspects. 


The pacing needs a few more slow spots with more detailed descriptions of people and places, but frankly, I couldn't put it down.  I would have enjoyed the scenery of the San Francisco Bay Area, but the narrator skips lightly over it. 


The climax feels particularly rushed, but it still satisfies.  All the clues are there, out in the open, but it kept me guessing right up until the murderer was revealed. 


The story begins with a hit man attempting to murder Gwen Michaels, an army veteran who works for a security company.  The job turns out to be more difficult than the hired gun had expected. 


When Gwen goes into hiding, she must reveal her secret past to her husband Frank and hope that the shock does not cause him to leave her.  


Gwen's search for the reasons why she became a target will keep you riveted to the page, no matter the hour and no matter what else you had planned to do.  The only distraction for me was my need for caffeine, since Gwen shares my love for coffee, which sent me to the kitchen several times to make a cup for myself.


Four out of five stars. 


  ~~~



  ~~~

Read a free sample

http://www.freado.com/read/9921/secrets


Buy the BOOK at:

Barnes & Noble – NOOKbook
Smashwords
Amazon.com – Kindle
Amazon.co.uk – Kindle


  ~~~

This book review is part of the Nurture Virtual Book Tourz 

http://nurtureyourbooks.com/vbtblog/?p=930 


  ~~~ 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A world without books would be like ice cream without a spoon

`
I've been thinking about Fahrenheit 451, in which the job of the fireman is to burn books.

What would the world be like without books?

Sure, we have eBooks, audiobooks and other formats, but technology can fail.  Besides, there is nothing quite like the feel of a good book in your hands.

A world without books would be like opera without the music, a marriage without love.

I definitely would miss my books.

  ~~~

You can find a list of all 30 blogs in this Blogalicious Tour at this site:

http://holesinmysoles.blogspot.com/

  ~~~

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memoir reviewed

`
My memoir Tessa B. Dick: My Life on the Edge of Reality has received its first Amazon review on Amazon UK.

Excerpt:

"This malnourished dark haired girl was destined to become the muse of one of the greatest writers ever to have graced this planet - Philip K.Dick. Their chance meeting may well have saved his life (indeed it may well have saved hers also). In Tessa, I think he found his intellectual soul mate - indeed he credits Tessa with writing portions of "A Scanner Darkly" - and it was a book they discussed often and at length."


Link to the whole review:




http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tessa-B-Dick-Life-Reality/dp/1461142695/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306660652&sr=1-1



  ~~~

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Giveaway! Frozen pizza for the busy writer -- delicious!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of FRESCHETTA® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
`
The deadline is extended until Monday because blogger was having technical difficulties. 

This is the very first giveaway on my blog.
I got this great offer to receive a coupon for a free  FRESCHETTA® Simply…Inspired™    pizza, plus another coupon to give away on my blog.
Not only that, but the winner of the giveaway will receive a bamboo cutting board.  Awesome!
FRESCHETTA® Simply…Inspired™
Now, about the pizza.  I've tried several varieties of frozen pizza. including Schwan's, which are very good, but many brands of frozen pizza are like cardboard with tomato sauce.   So I was expecting more convenience and less flavor.  As a writer who often works into the wee hours as inspiration or desperation hits me, I need a quick and easy meal to fuel my tummy while I work, so  pizza is a staple in my kitchen.
Fresschetta Simply Inspired surprised me with great flavor and a thin, crispy crust that almost melts in my mouth.
There are eight varieties, and two of them really called to me.
I had a hard time deciding between Hawaiian Style
Hawaiian Style









and Harvest Supreme, but ultimately I went with the Harvest Supreme.
 Harvest Supreme 

Visit freschettasimplyinspired.com to learn more about their eight great-tasting varieties.
They even have an offer for you to submit a review and win!
This pizza gave me a rainbow of flavors!
It is very generous with the toppings.  The mozzarella cheese is adequate but not overwhelming, and there's also some crumbled feta cheese.
The vegetables are awesome.  It has some meat, too, so it is not for the vegetarian.
I don't know what pomodoro sauce is, but it tastes delicious!  It's kind of a cheesy tomato.
It has red onions, black olives, bites of spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and hand-pinched Italian sausage.
Freschetta also offers Classic Bruschetta, Chicken Bianco, Farmer's Market Veggie, Rustic Pepperoni Pmodoro,  Southern BBQ Recipe Chicken and  Tuscan Farmhouse.
The Tuscan Farmhouse and Chicken Bianco are limited edition flavors, so I plan to get them right away, before they're gone.
I like that the packaging keeps the pizza fresh, tasty and colorful, while having less waste in the packaging.  The FRESCH-TASTE SEAL™ Packing locks in the vibrant flavors, while using 30% less packaging material.
Visit freschettasimplyinspired.com to learn more about their eight great-tasting varieties.
Now, for the giveaway:  I am giving away a coupon for one free Freschetta Simply Inspired Pizza, and a cute little bamboo cutting board.  Sorry, I couldn't get a photo of the cutting board for you, but it's round and about 9 inches in diameter.  You slide the top around to reveal three cute little wooden-handled tools inside:  a cutter, a server and a fork.
To enter, just post a comment on this blog post.
Bonus entry:  "Like"  www.facebook.com/FreschettaSim… on Facebook and post a second comment here to let me know that you did.  Their Facebook page has lots of opportunities for coupons and other goodies!
The winner will be notified by email and/or my comment on this post.  The contest ends Friday May 13, 2011.
Good Luck!
Enjoy your pizza!  I did.
  ~~~
FRESCHETTA® Simply…Inspired™
  ~~~
Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, May 6, 2011

My memoir is available now!

`
I'll be mailing out signed copies of my memoir Tessa B. Dick: My Life on the Edge of Reality beginning Monday May 8, 2011.  Thank you so much to all the wonderful people who trusted me enough to pre-order my book!


It is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle, and you can also find it on Barnes & Noble and other sites. 




Paperback:


http://www.amazon.com/Tessa-B-Dick-Life-Reality/dp/1461142695/ref=sr_1_6_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304734966&sr=1-6




Kindle:


http://www.amazon.com/Tessa-B-Dick-Reality-ebook/dp/B004YTMQ32/ref=sr_1_6_title_1_ke?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304734966&sr=1-6


If you want a signed copy, they are $50 each in the US, and $60 each outside the US (that's in US dollars).  Just email me at 


tuffy777@gmail.com 


for the details.


  ~~~

Monday, April 25, 2011

Memoir almost ready for release

`
My memoir My Life on the Edge of Reality is almost ready for release.  All it needs is one final edit, plus the cover art.  




Artist extraordinaire Nick Buchanan is working on the cover art as we speak. 




This is going to be a detailed look into the events of my own life, with bits and pieces of my experiences with my husband Philip K. Dick.  It will be a great companion piece to my other memoir Philip K. Dick: Remembering Firebright.  


  ~~~ 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He lives! Happy Resurrection Day!

`
He lives!  Happy Resurrection Day!

This is one of my all-time favorite YouTube videos -

Norman Greenbaum, "Spirit in the Sky"

http://youtu.be/WPPlGFh6OpQ








~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Excerpt from "My Life on the Edge of Reality"

`

I was not surprised when Phil got out of bed and told me that he heard the voice of God on the bedside radio.  Phil was recovering from shoulder surgery, and he was taking Percodan for the post-operative pain.  He had thrown his own shoulder out of the socket, which had been damaged in a car accident about ten years earlier.  What did surprise me is what Phil heard God say to him:  “Your son has an inguinal hernia.  Call the doctor.”  So I called the doctor, made an appointment, got referred to a specialist and learned about our son’s hernia.  But I am getting ahead of the story.  That happened in August or September 1974, several months after the visitations began.   


   ~~~ 



Book Review - Mpire: In Search of the Lost


`

In Search of the Lost is the story of Mallory Towneson Haulm, a sexy financial powerhouse, who lives in a quasi paradise in Austin, Texas. His opulent world is decorated with expensive toys and women more exquisite than an exotic candy shop. After fourteen years of separation from his family, Mallory is summoned to return home to join The Family Business. Poised for success, Mallory is focused on turning around the ailing business, not realizing that taking his assigned reigns will put him in a position of unrelenting power which he is unaware he even has. His world crashes as he reunites with his brothers and becomes Death, the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse. With every complication popping up in his life, the biggest one by far is in the form of an old lover from the past coming back to reclaim the spot in Mallory’s heart. – FROM AMAZON.COM
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: PHE Ink (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  ~~~

Mpire:  In Search of the Lost is the first of a TL James trilogy.  In this volume, Mallory Towneson Haulm is called home to join the family business after years of separation.  Reluctantly, he joins his brothers for his introduction to the stockholders as the newest board member.  While Mallory seems to have a good relationship with his brothers, tension develops between them.  And their father creates conflict because he sent Mallory away when he was still a young boy. 

The story drew me in at the beginning with an attack by a mysterious black cloud, but then it devolved into a male fantasy of wealth, power and sex -- lots of sex.  It verges on -- no, it crosses the line into pornography.  This novel definitely is not for children.

While the relationship among the brothers develops, the story slows down to a snail's pace, with an occasional hint of mystery to be revealed later. When the story picks up, we learn along with Mallory himself that he is the Anti-Christ.

This self-published book needs a good copy editor to clean up obvious errors and polish the awkward style, but the story is worth reading.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~


ABOUT THE AUTHOR…TL James graduated with an MBA from LeTourneau University. At LETU, James cultivated an interest in biblical studies and research. Little did James know, but her love for research would become an integral thread in her writing style.
After many sleepless nights, James began writing her first speculative fictional book, with her newly born son tucked comfortably at her side. She developed the family drama storyline that showcases her love of research, biblical studies and literary classics (i.e., Chaucer, Shakespeare and Mythology). The MPire Trilogy was born.
In 2008, TL James revived PHE Ink, a Writing Solutions Firm, after discovering a number of gaps in the publishing industry. James works with aspiring writers, one-on-one, to develop their literary voice. PHE Ink, also, assists entrepreneurs with transforming their business dreams into defined objectives and business plans.
TL James currently resides in Houston, Texas with her son and immediate family.

  ~~~


Follow the author on her: Website AND Blog


   ~~~

Monday, April 11, 2011

Memoir almost finished

`

The work on my memoir got put to the side when I fractured my skull in a slip and fall on the ice, but now it's almost finished. 


Watch this blog for more excerpts.


Thank you so much for reading!




  ~~~

Sunday, March 20, 2011

WARNING -- do not advertise in the X Zone Chronicles

`

WARNING -- do not buy advertising from Rob McConnell's X Zone Chronicles newsletter -- I bought an ad, and it NEVER ran, and they refuse to give back my money!

  ~~~

On December 26, 2010, I paid $75 for a 1/4-page ad in the X Zone Chronicles, which seems a bit high for an online publication (no paper or ink costs for them), but they claim that is was a very special issue that has more readers than usual. 

So I bought an ad.  But they did not run it.  Then they promised me in exchange, since it was their error, two half-page ads, one in mid-January and one in mid-February.  Once again the ad did not run.

I repeatedly inquired about a refund, since it was their error, but they keep promising me an ad in the future, which of course they NEVER deliver.

And they don't even seem to speak English very well.

  ~~~


Here is what they say now:

Miss Dick, we have been very understand, increased your ad size from 1/2 page to 1/2 which was published.

You brought it to our attention and we have told you that we will give you 2 x 1/2 page in the March and the April edition of The 'X' Chronicles.

We are making every attempt to rectify this matter - even though the 1/2 page ad as evidenced in your own email to us was done.

The present value of a 1/2 page ad is many times over the $75.00 you paid.

I can assure that I will personally handle your ad and work with you directly to avoid any further misunderstand by either party.

I look forward to your reply.

Rob McConnell
Host and Executive Producer,
The 'X' Zone Radio & TV Show

REL-MAR McConnell Media Company
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Toll Free: (800) 610-7035

  ~~~ 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Memoir delayed until April

`
My memoir, which should have come out this month, has been delayed until next month.  So instead of March 2011, it will come out in April 2011.

This delay was unforeseen and unavoidable, as I was badly injured in a slip-and-fall.  I get my brain MRI on Friday, two days from now.  

If you pre-ordered a copy, you may request a refund or wait one additional month.  I will honor all requests for refunds.  

If you wish to pre-order a copy of my memoir Tessa B. Dick: My Life on the Edge of Reality, please send $25 by Paypal to 

tuffy777@gmail.com 

or email me at the above address, if you want to mail a check or money order. 

Here's a brief excerpt:

The man told me that they were dropping me from the program because I was neither physically nor mentally fit for long-term space travel.  I begged him to give me a chance, promising that I would work very hard, but he only looked sad while telling me that it was impossible.  He added that I was remembering too much, and that I might tell the secrets to people who shouldn’t know about the program.  So now I’m telling the secrets. 

  ~~~

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Philip K. Dick: Existentalist

`
Over the course of my ten-year relationship with my husband, I learned that he was more an Existentialist than a Gnostic. His core ideas fall more into line with Kierkegaard and Nietszche, Kafka and Schopenhauer, than with the prophets of Nag Hammadi or the neo-Platonists.

Although he adopted some of the trappings of gnosticism, such as the demiurge and the veil of illusion, Philip K. Dick adopted an eclectic body of knowledge while educating himself at the public library. Like Schopenhauer, he came to the conclusion that the universe is not rational, so we cannot gain a rational understanding of its nature, rules and existence. Like Kafka, he saw us as prisoners who never know what crime has been laid against us.

In line with God's assertion to Moses that his name is "I am", Phil began his study of the human existence.

~~ More to come in future posts.
Thank you for reading!
~~~

This entry is also posted on Wordpress:


http://wp.me/pdXyS-1G

~~~

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Life on the Edge of Reality - available for pre-order

`
With a little help from my friends and family, I got a month's worth of utility bills paid. Unfortunately, I'm still a month behind, so everything is going to get turned off.

You can help by pre-ordering a copy of my memoir Tessa B. Dick: My Life no the Edge of Reality, which will be available in March.

In this book I tell the story of my life, including my relationship with my husband Philip K. Dick (Bladerunner), as well as the government-sponsored experiment on school children in the 1960s. My brother and I were subjects in that experiment, which was conducted without our parents' knowledge or permission.

If you send me $25 by Paypal, I will send you a signed copy as soon as it is available.

My Paypal addy is tuffy777@gmail.com

Thank you so much!

~~~

Monday, February 7, 2011

We are still living in the Roman Empire

`
We are still living in the Roman Empire


Why do high school and college classes in western civilization begin with ancient Greece? (and sometimes ancient Egypt)

Our culture quite clearly has its roots in the tribal cultures of Europe and North America. The U.S. Constitution can be traced back to England's Magna Carta, as well as to the rules of the Iroquois federation. The revolutions in the name of liberty certainly did not have their roots in ancient Greece, where even the great and wise philosopher Socrates obeyed the death sentence that the men of Athens imposed upon him.

The wealthy and powerful elite of the world want us to embrace paganism.

Most of the inhabitants of ancient Greece in its time of glory were descendants of Dan, one of Jacob Israel's twelve sons. They came from different places at different times, most notably from Egypt before the Exodus and from the Holy Land after the Exodus.

The tribe of Dan, according to the Bible, was known for idol worship and for seafaring.

Since they came at different times from different places, they had different names for their pagan gods. They also adopted the local gods that people had been worshiping before they arrived.

So we have a huge Greek pantheon, a group of gods that often give three or four names and histories to the same deity.

The most interesting Greek deities are those that attempt to take the place of Christ as the savior of humanity. Prometheus is said to have created the first man and woman, as well as all the animals. He stole the fire of knowledge from Mount Olympus, and Zeus (Jupiter) punished him by having Hephaestus (Vulcan) chain him to a rock where a giant eagle came every day to eat his liver. Since Prometheus was a god, and therefore immortal, his liver would grow back every day and get eaten again.

Another imitation of Christ is Apollo, the god who wrestled with Python, a wise oracle reminiscent of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and took over the cave where that giant snake used to live. Apollo, the shining one, brought the light of reason to mankind. He also installed his own oracle in the cave, and her prophecies caused many disasters for the wealthy and powerful men who came to her for advice.

We are, in a very real sense, still living in the Roman Empire. Ancient Rome looked to Greek culture for its models, and the Roman Catholic Church is seated in Rome. Perhaps the Church is the enemy of the Roman Empire, but perhaps not. Although I stand up as a Christian believer, I cannot defend the dogma of any established church, Roman or otherwise. Dogma is the enemy of faith, in my opinion.

~~~

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Memoir, excerpt #2

`
I remember very little of second grade. The twelve of us were shoved into a third-grade classroom, and I simply cannot remember the teacher’s name. Each of us second-graders was assigned to a third-grade student who was supposed to help us with our work. My third grader couldn’t be bothered, so I floundered, especially in arithmetic. Moreover, we didn’t get any crayons! I did enjoy using skinny pencils and learning cursive writing, especially when the teacher handed out ball point pens for us to use, once we were acceptably competent writing cursive with our pencils.

But most of the second grade is completely gone from my memory, aside from those “special assemblies” when the graduate students were testing us. Fifteen or twenty students from different grade levels would meet in the auditorium or the cafeteria and take tests. I’m sure that one of those tests was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). The researchers were two young men in business suits and a woman in a B-line outfit. I did not like the woman, and I remember her yelling at me that I was deliberately giving the wrong answers on the tests. She was right. I did not like the tests and I did not trust those people. I just sat there in silence until one of the men told her that it was enough.

They must have thought that we were psychic because they kept asking us things like, “What’s in John’s pocket?” and “What’s behind the curtain?” and “What’s in a box at the bank downtown?”

~~~

You can pre-order a signed copy from me for $25, to be delivered in March 2011. (I have bills to pay now.)

~~`

Friday, January 28, 2011

Murder Lies available on Amazon Kindle

`
Now you can see my latest novel, Murder Lies available on Amazon Kindle for only $2.99.

You don't have to buy a Kindle to read it. Amazon offers a free download for your PC, so you can view all Kindle books.

US link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004KZOWOQ

UK link (Whispernet):

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004KZOWOQ


~~~

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest

`

Yesterday I entered my murder mystery in the annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest -- ABNA.

Murder Lies
is finished and entered.

Now I can focus on my memoir.

If you have written a novel that is unpublished or self-published, you can enter it. The contest is totally free.



"Manuscript submissions are now being accepted through February 6, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time), or when 5,000 entries have been received in each category, whichever is earlier."



The two categories are general fiction and young adult fiction.

Just go to Amazon dot com or their self-publishing site Create Space dot com to sign up for the contest. You must join Create Space in order to enter the contest, but you are not obligated to use any services at Create Space. I do recommend Create Space for self-publishing because you can do it without paying for any services. All you ever have to buy is one proof copy of your book, and that costs under $20, sometimes under $10, including shipping.

~~~

http://www.amazon.com/b?node=332264011

~~~

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My own experience

`
Philip K. Dick experienced mystical visitations throughout his life, beginning in early childhood, although his visions of March 1974 are the best known.

Critics have often wondered why I so easily accepted Phil's experience as valid. Most have put it down to our relationship as husband and wife, assuming that we fell into a folie a deux, a madness shared by two people who reinforced each other's delusions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I had my own mystical experiences long before I ever met Philip K. Dick.

For the first time, I am writing about those visions in a book-length memoir titled My Life On the Edge of Reality. This book will include anecdotes about my husband that are not included in my memoir Philip K. Dick: Remembering Firebright.

Here's the beginning of it:

Chapter One, Beginning

I’m approaching that age when my memories of early childhood are more clear than my memory of where I set down my coffee cup. Some people tell me that they remember nothing before their junior year in high school, and that astounds me because I remember my infancy. For example, I remember lying in my crib with mittens on my hands. Mom explained that I was seven months old when my older brother, who was in Kindergarten, brought home the chicken pox virus, and she put the mittens on my hands to prevent me from scratching the blisters and getting scars.

I also remember the first time that I walked. Mom said that I was eight months old when I crept on hands and knees across the living-room carpet to the front window and pulled myself up by holding onto the window ledge. I remember looking outside at our lawn, the sidewalk, the street and the Jacksons’ house. The Jacksons had beautiful flower gardens, and Mrs. Jackson showed me how to open the “mouth” of a snapdragon blossom. We always called it the Jacksons’ house, even after they sold it to a young couple with a little girl who was three years younger than I was – she was four years old and I was seven.

From a very early age, I got daily advice from an invisible companion who stood slightly behind my right shoulder and spoke to me. Nobody else could see Michael, and I never told anybody about him. He was my guardian angel. Michael used to tell me, for example, that it was almost six o’clock, so Daddy would be coming home soon. Since I didn’t know how to tell time, I depended upon him to tell time for me. I hopped down from Daddy’s favorite chair, where I had been sitting, so he could sit down and rest as soon as he came in the door. Michael also told me that the monsters could not see me if I hid under the covers when I went to bed.

Chapter Two, Monsters

It is no coincidence that I love to watch horror movies. I have no use for slasher flicks, which depend upon blood and gore to shock the audience. I go for the psychological dramas like Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man. Give me a story in which people fight against their own inner evil – Jekyll and Hyde, for example. The idea of being killed by a monster scares me less than half as much as the idea of becoming a monster, myself.

Sometimes when I look into a mirror, I see my face begin to change, somewhat like the Wolf Man. I hate mirrors and avoid looking at them. Occasionally when I have stayed in someone else’s house and had to get up in the night, I have been startled by what I thought was a burglar, only to discover that it was my own reflection in a mirror.

I watch horror movies as an adult in order to dispel the fear that haunted my childhood years.

The little orange stucco tract house on the corner of Westwood and Ocean in Culver City, California, was home to a menagerie of monsters. I remember the cockroaches that used to swarm out of the storm drain at night, but I was not afraid of them. The creaking and groaning of the pine-paneled walls terrified me. My older and smarter brother Steve later told me that we had an infestation of roof rats, but Mom never told me about the rats because she didn’t want to frighten me. I would have been less afraid if I had known about the rats, instead of being left to imagine all sorts of goblins inside the walls of my bedroom. Mom was always lying or withholding information, with the excuse that she did not want to frighten me. For example, I wanted to know how the speakers on our hi-fi worked, so I asked her if they were electrical. Mom said no, to avoid scaring me, even though she knew that they were electrical.

What frightened me the most was that my two brothers and two cousins, all of whom were boys and older than I was, used to turn on the TV and start watching a monster movie. One by one, they would leave the room, until I was sitting there all by myself, watching Godzilla or the Wasp Woman, or some other horror feature. I stayed glued to the chair, unable to leave until I saw the monster die. If I didn’t see the monster die on the television screen, it would remain alive in my mind. The one that frightened me the most was the Mummy. To this day, when I choose a sleeping bag, I never get a mummy bag.

One early morning I woke up to see a Martian metal robot on my bedroom floor. That is what Steve’s silver nylon sleeping bag looked like in the dim light of pre-dawn. Worse, Rick’s brown cotton mummy bag was also there beside the killer robot, two monsters lying where my brothers had tossed them when they came home from a camping trip. I stayed as still as possible, not daring to move lest I draw the attention of the mummy and the killer robot, until the morning light finally burst in and they became ordinary sleeping bags again.

I’m sure that my near-sightedness and the dim light had a great deal to do with what I saw that morning. My imagination did the rest.

In 1961 Mom took us to the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History to see the King Tut exhibit. Egypt had released very few actual King Tut artifacts, but they did display a real mummy in a glass case, and I remember seeing one of Tut’s golden sandals. In spite of the monster movies, that exhibit did not frighten me. I wasn’t afraid of real, tangible things. I was afraid of the things that go bump in the night.

I know now that the specters that I see in the dark are symptoms of astigmatism, a condition in which the shape of the eyeball is flattened, so light will bounce around inside the eye and cause the person to see points of light in the darkness after turning off the lights. I used to talk about “brown clouds”, in an attempt to describe what I saw. It was like looking at a pot of boiling soup. And the high-pitched tones that I used to hear inside my ears were symptoms of tinnitus, a condition affecting the inner ear that can be caused by infection or by excess ear wax or fluid drainage.

Chapter Three, Death and near-death

I can explain most of the strange experiences of my childhood by referring to my poor eyesight, plus the roof rats.

However, I can offer no mundane explanation for Michael’s presence. He told me that Great Grandma was in Heaven. Mom’s paternal grandmother, Mary Ann Evans, died of colon cancer in 1958, when I was four years old. She was in her seventies. Mom told me that Grandma’s tumor was benign, so as not to frighten me. Gee, thanks, Mom! Not! Mom seemed to think that it was more important to avoid scaring me than it was for me to know my family’s true history, medical and otherwise.

~~~

I'm holding a pre-sale of signed copies of this book. If you are interested, please email me at tuffy777@gmail.com

Thank you so much!

~~~