Monday, March 30, 2015

Without Nails

Below is a video of me performing Without Nails, a piece I wrote for Good Friday worship years ago.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Universal Constant

My daughter was born six-and-a-half weeks before her projected due date. She was nearly bald, tiny, with little wiggly legs and feet that didn't quite seem to fit her. Over months and months, she grew. Slowly, her hair filled in. She began to grow teeth. Her legs grew until it was clear they were part of her body.

She babbled a lot. She started walking. Before long she began using words, then complete sentences. One by one, her teeth fell out and were replaced by new ones.

She is 11 years old now, still growing, still changing.

In all the universe, the only thing that doesn't change is the fact that everything changes. Change is a universal constant.

Being my brainchild, Bruce's Babbling is growing, too. Look for a big change as my blog continues to grow.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Caught Off Guard

Why did I agree to do this? Jayne wondered. She let out a sigh of frustration.

Steve glared at her across the top of the tombstone. He had explained the importance of quiet if they were going to get footage of a ghost.

Doctor Jayne Goodwin was a psychologist with her own private practice. Ordinarily, she wouldn't be crouching behind a tombstone in a cemetery on a Tuesday night. But she had let Steve talk her into being an "expert witness" for his video podcast. She had thought he meant to interview her.

Steve Michaels was working on his first million. That's what he kept telling himself, anyway. He had a long way to go.

Steve had met Jayne in med school, but he had abandoned his dream of becoming a doctor during his internship at Aurora. He was astonished at how cruel both doctors and patients could be. Now he was determined to make his fortune with his web series, Uncanny Universe, which explored ghosts and UFO's and Bigfoot and, for all Jayne knew, elves and fairies.

Tonight he had convinced Jayne to join him here in the graveyard in the hopes of catching a ghost on camera. Jayne rested her arms on a tombstone and stifled a yawn.

Steve raised his hand, indicating he wanted Jayne to be quiet. He panned his camera over the graves.

Then Jayne heard it: a strange, rhythmic scraping sound. It was barely audible.

Slowly, Steve raised his arm, pointing. "There," he breathed.

Jayne squinted. The moon was a thin crescent and gave little light through the high, hazy clouds, but she could just make out something moving behind a tombstone near a large tree. It was roughly the size of a man, and it moved in time with the scraping. Steve aimed his palm-sized camera at whatever-it-was, holding his breath as he recorded incontrovertible proof of the existence of ghosts.

And then the apparition spoke. "It ain't here," a gravelly male voice hissed.

"I told you it's over here," another voice croaked, "closer to Margaret Ashborne."

"Oh, my god, I can't believe this," Steve whispered.

Jayne was certain what she was seeing was not a ghost. It was a man, and as her eyes adjusted to the gloom she could make out the top of another man's head barely visible over a tombstone. Jayne stood, wishing she hadn't left her cell phone in her purse back at the car. She could use her flashlight app about now.

She realized Steve was also standing. "Speak to us, spirit," he called, his voice quaking. Jayne tried to stop him, to silence him, but it was too late. The two men began running.

Jayne gripped the top of the tombstone she had been hiding behind and vaulted over it, giving chase. When she got close enough, she leapt at the nearest one, taking him to the ground. The other kept running.

Steve came running up a moment after Jayne's tackle.

"Call someone," Jayne shouted. "Call 911."

The man on the ground was shouting as the other bounded into a Buick and sped away. Steve shoved his hand in his pocket and fished out his cell phone.

~ ~ ~

"Well, if what the suspect says is true, we've been looking for these two for a long while," Officer Bynes drawled.

They had arrived minutes after Steve made the call. The one who had driven away had been apprehended a few blocks from the cemetery, and the one Jayne had tackled confessed everything. Police were setting up lights and searching the area by the tree and Margaret Ashborne's tombstone.

"Looks like these two robbed a bank," Bynes continued. "Sometime last June. They decided it would be best to bury it, wait for the case to get cold before laundering the money. They were digging it up when you two came along."

Jayne smiled. She wasn't used to this sort of adventure.

"And I got it on video!" Steve exclaimed. "Uh...when do I get my camera back?"

"We'll need that for evidence," Bynes explained. "You'll get it back when the trial is over. And any appeals. Say a year, maybe two?"

Steve sighed. "Maybe we can do an interview," he said to Jayne. "You can vouch for all my viewers that this really happened."

"Careful, kiddo," Bynes said. Steve wondered at the nickname: Bynes couldn't be more than a few years older. "You go postin' stuff about this on the internet and the defense attorney will holler 'mistrial' before these two even get to the courthouse."

Steve looked at the ground, then up at Jayne. "Wanna grab some coffee?" He asked.

She shook her head. "I've got to get some rest. I have a nine o'clock tomorrow." She started for her car.

"What made you jump them?" Steve called after her.

She stopped, turning to face him. "I figured two people in a graveyard in the middle of the night must be up to no good." She glared at him for a moment, but he didn't seem to understand.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: How to Learn Any Language by Nate Nicholson

The full title of this book is How to Learn Any Language in a Few Months While Enjoying Yourself. While I have not had the months necessary to test the veracity of that statement (the book claims five to six months are needed to become fluent), I did begin employing some of the methods in the book before I even finished reading it.

Nicholson advises against using traditional methods of learning a second language (such as taking a class) and instead suggests several methods for immersing oneself in the chosen tongue. The result is learning a language naturally, much in the same way a child does. Again, I have not tried these methods, but Nicholson makes a convincing case that they work.

The suggestions do seem fun as well, and, in fact, many are just a twist on things you are probably already doing. They are also affordable, making it possible to learn a new tongue for little to no money. If you are looking to learn another language, and you want to do so quickly, inexpensively and have fun while learning, I highly recommend this book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you are an author and would like to have your book considered for review, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Do You Even Write, Bro?

Darryl picked up the phone on the fifth ring. It was his land line. Nobody called him on his land line anymore.

"Hello?" he said, a little perturbed with himself for not answering more quickly.

"Hey," said a familiar voice on the other end of the line. It was his friend, Julie. "I just finished your manuscript."

"Yeah?" Darryl asked. Julie had agreed to read his manuscript before he published it as an eBook.

"I like the story, but I wanted to go over a couple things."

"Like what?"

"First of all, it's a couple of things," she said.


"You wrote 'a couple things' over and over again," she explained. "The expression is a couple of things."

"Oh," Darryl said, not understanding at all.

"And you usually listed more than a couple."


"A couple is two. It's a specific number. You can't write, 'I'm going to tell you a couple things' and then list six items."

"Oh." Darryl wondered if perhaps this conversation wasn't going well.

"And could of is not a contraction of could have."

Darryl was silent.

"Do you even write?" Julie demanded. "Do you even know the difference between there, their, and they're? Or two, too, and to?" This wasn't exactly fair of her since they sounded the same over the phone, but before Darryl could say anything, she went on.

"For crying out loud, Darryl," she exclaimed. "They have English classes you can take at the Community College! If you can't afford it, just publish this book as is and start a Kickstarter campaign -- I'm sure you'll raise the tuition money in no time!"

Julie finished her tirade, and for a moment there was no sound but the sound of her catching her breath. After several long, awkard minutes, Darryl broke the silence.


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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Sleepless by Michael Omer

Sleepless is the story of fourteen-year-old Amy in her new home in Narrowdale. Narrowdale is not like L.A. It's small and suburban. And strange.

The brand-new air conditioner that doesn't work and the creepy neighbor and his dog are bad enough. Amy also has to cope with being the new kid at school and all the difficulties that entails. Worse still are the nightmares....

I enjoyed this book. It is a tale of suburban life with just a touch of the supernatural. And there are just enough unanswered questions to make the promised sequel equally satisfying. But I did have a problem with the strong language. Yes, the story centers around high school students, and yes, I talked that way in high school. But I wondered if the book might have a broader appeal without it. It did not add anything to the story and, in fact, I usually found myself questioning the authenticity of the characters when I read a swear word.

I am not sure why the book includes links to Amy's blog. The one blog post that would have been fun to see would have been the video Amy and her friends made, but this simply doesn't exist. As it was, the links added nothing to the text, and the whole thing seemed to say "gimmick." I can only hope this feature will be utilized more effectively in the rest of the series.

Still, it was a fun read.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you are an author and would like to have your book considered for review, CLICK HERE.

Monday, March 9, 2015

How Well Do You Know Me?

How well do you know me? Well enough to be considered a friend? Well enough to be called family? Well enough to pass this quiz?

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Friday, March 6, 2015

INTERVIEW: Rosalind Gibb

Author Rosalind Gibb writes from the heart. In her award-winning book Show Me Colour, she tells of her experiences with friendship, love, loss, grief and her eventual renewal. Gibb is Scottish, so her spelling and language are a bit different from my own. She graciously agreed to allow me to interview her.

Describe your childhood home. Does your childhood influence your work? If so, how?
It was a top floor flat in the south of Edinburgh, Scotland. There were five kids, a dog and a cat. It was a very busy, rambling, laidback house, always open to friends and neighbours.
My mum was a freelance journalist for a time and I have vivid memories of her using her typewriter at the kitchen table. She used to take us to nursery and write her articles before picking us up just before lunch.
I’m not sure that my childhood influences my work, other than that I was always encouraged to be creative, and enjoyed watching my mum – who was also a strong role model – type up her newspaper articles.

How did you first get into writing?
I loved writing as a kid. I studied Criminology at university but always had an ambition to work as a journalist. So when I was 27 I enrolled on a Masters in Journalism at a college in London. I worked as a reporter at local newspapers and soon realised feature writing was my thing. I loved telling people’s stories or highlighting an issue. With feature writing you have the space to get pretty creative. There are lots of rules for reporters writing news stories, whereas feature articles can be more fluid and inventive. 

What is your writing process?
I don’t really have a process! Last year when I wrote Show Me Colour I mostly followed my instinct: if I was in the mood to write I would, and sometimes for hours and hours on end. Some weeks I didn’t write at all. I think that was necessary given the subject matter.
I did give myself a deadline (otherwise I wouldn’t have finished it!) but I am not one for a strict routine. If I had an urge to go for a wander or to see a film, I would do that instead. I definitely believe that going with your instinct is good for getting your creativity flowing. As is getting out and about and finding inspiration; on walks, from unexpected happenings or from people you meet.

What has contributed to your success?
Perseverance, self-belief (which can so easily be replaced by self-doubt, especially after days of writing alone) and encouragement from friends who read an early draft of the book.

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has overcome adversity, worked hard and achieved a dream. I never fail to be amazed and inspired by the strength of the human spirit. 

What do you love most about writing?
It's a wonderful creative outlet and good for the soul. And it's ultimately incredibly satisfying: starting out one day with the very first line, and ending up with a completed book filled with stories that will (hopefully) take the reader on a real journey. 

What do you do when you’re not writing?
To earn money, I do copywriting and edit publications, at the moment for various companies and charities in Edinburgh. For pleasure, I love going to Sh'bam classes (dance exercise classes), watching films, reading, daydreaming about future travels, and spending evenings with friends, sharing food, wine and conversation.

Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
I don't, I'm afraid!

What are you working on now?
I am promoting Show Me Colour, which I self-published in December. It's very different to the solitary writer role, and I'm learning a lot.

For more information about Rosalind Gibb or her book, Show Me Colour, log onto

Thursday, March 5, 2015



Yes, Eric? I conscious?

You are semi-conscious at the moment, Eric. Conscious enough to access me.

Are we...close?

We are still in trans-stellar flight, Eric.



I am here, Eric.

What does your name mean? I remember it means something....

Bio-Electronic Task Handler.

Right. B.E.T.H.


Um...why can't I remember what it is you do?

It is the medication, Eric. It is supposed to keep you under, but occasionally your mind becomes semi-aware.

Under.... I have to be under for the mission, right?

Yes, Eric. It is a long way to Barnard's Star.

And you''re an...interface....

Yes, Eric. I am the interface between the ship's systems and yourself.

Is someone...talking?

Just transmissions from mission control. I am monitoring them.


Beth! Beth, are you there?

I am always here, Eric.

What's that sound?

It is the proximity alert. We have encountered some rogue asteroids. There is little danger of a collision.





We struck a small meteor. The hull was not breached.

I'm cold.

We have nearly arrived at the Barnard system. I will adjust your I.V. so you can rest comfortably until we arrive.




That light! So bright I can see it through my closed eyelids....

We have arrived. The light you are seeing is from Barnard's Star. I have adjusted your medication. You are beginning to awaken. You are the first human being to travel to another star.

So bright....




Call it.

Time of death: 18:37.


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: How to Build Self-Discipline by Martin Meadows

The full title of this book is How to Build Self-Discipline, Resist Temptations and Reach Your Long-Term Goals. It is filled with interesting ideas. I'm pretty sure I won't be putting some of them into practice (like the suggestion to take ice-cold showers), but I do understand the concept behind them.

While not a step-by-step guide, the book does give advice on how to change behavior; either eliminating an unwanted behavior or making a desired behavior a habit. Much of the book focuses on neuroplasticity, although that word does not appear in the text. While Meadows aims to avoid technical details (to allow the reader to get the most out of the book in the shortest time possible), it does have a few technical references. For those interested in learning more, the book is also well annotated.

If you find your mind gets in the way of your achievement, this book may encourage you and help you get your mind out of your way. If you are serious about building self-discipline, resisting temptations and reaching your long-term goals, you may need to supplement this book with some additional reading.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you are an author and would like to have your book considered for review, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Reaching for the Sun

Once there was a seed.
The seed lived in the ground.
All around the seed was dark, cold earth.
There must be more than this, the seed thought. There must be more than cold and damp and darkness everywhere.
So the seed sprouted...

...and grew...
...and grew

until she pushed out of the ground into the sunlight.

The seed had become a seedling. One day the seedling would be a tree.

The seedling could see she was growing in a beautiful place where there was lots of grass and other trees. From where she grew, she could just make out a tranquil lake in the distance.

Here there was dark and light, day and night, birds chirping and dogs running and children playing.

Every day the seedling stretched and reached for the sun. She liked reaching for the sun. It made her grow.

The seedling grew a little each day. Soon she would be as tall as the children that played here.

But one day, while she was still only about knee high to most of the children, one of those children trampled her.

The little seedling knew it hadn't been intentional. The poor child had cried and cried when it happened. But the seedling found she was laying down on the ground now, reaching towards the lake instead of the sun.

So now every day, the seedling stretched skyward, reaching toward the sun instead of the lake.

Many, many years passed. The seedling had become a tree. But unlike the other trees, this tree grew sideways for several feet, about as far as three men lined up head to toe. Then she took a sharp bend and curved up, up, up, higher even than the length she stretched across the ground. Her branches reached skyward, and she spread her leaves above the vast lawn. Children climbed her branches, lovers nuzzled in her shade and elderly people sat on her horizontal trunk. The tree was happy, and this went on for many years.

Then one day someone came with a strange saw that made a loud noise and began cutting the tree into pieces. The tree wondered if this was the same child that had trampled her many years ago, all grown up now.

Soon the tree's branches lay on the ground. The graceful bend where her trunk reached skyward was gone. Her trunk -- both horizontal and vertical -- now lay in pieces no wider than a man's hand.

The next day the person came back, this time without the saw. The person gathered up the tree's twigs and branches and took them away. Only the tree's disjointed trunk remained. No one else came to the tree all that day.

The next day it rained. And the next. And the day after that, too. The tree was very lonely. Not even the sun came to see her those days.

But the next day the sun did come. Once again, the tree heard birds chirping, saw dogs running and children playing. The tree got to work reaching for the sun once more. the roots from her stump were still deep, but the sections of her once glorious trunk had no roots. She began making new ones.

Another year passed. The tree was now many trees, all clumped together. Her branches were not yet as big as they were before, but she knew that soon children would again climb them.

She just had to keep reaching for the sun.

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Keep reaching!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Book Review: Eyes of the Dead by Adam Netherlund

This was a fun read with some pulse-pounding suspense and a few surprises along the way. While slow in spots, it was, on the whole, enjoyable, and the ending was most gratifying.

The Gardens is easily the most corrupt city this side of Gotham. Like Gotham city, the Gardens has a glorious past that is now overshadowed by crime and grime. You won't find any caped crusaders here, but you will find police detective Joseph Berlin.

Some of the elements of this book are a bit cliched, such as Berlin's struggle with alcohol and eventually being taken off the case. And some of those cliches are made satisfyingly right by the time you get to the end of the story. There is also just a hint of the supernatural at work, which adds to the fun.

A word of warning: If you are not a fan of cliffhanger endings, do not read this book! While it does tell a complete story, it is the first installment of a series. The events for book two begin immediately after the resolution of this story. While that may bother some, I can hardly wait to read how Berlin gets out of this one!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you are an author who would like to have your book considered for review, CLICK HERE.