Blog Archives: Articles
Last year I shared with you ten things I was thankful for on Thanksgiving. It gave me an opportunity to sit down and reflect on the year and really served to start my day off well. So, in the spirit of giving, I’ve decided to make it an annual event and share ten more things I’m thankful for this year. It’s not an exhaustive list (and I’m still thankful for almost everything from last year’s list), so consider this more an expansion of that list, not a replacement. Either way, I hope you enjoy it.
- I’m thankful for the new opportunities and challenges I’ve been given this year. I’m not one to enjoy standing still – it’s good to have motion in my life.
- I’m thankful for the support of my family and friends. Those new opportunities have come with a healthy dose of change – and without the support of those closest to me, I wouldn’t have even considered them.
- I’m thankful that my wife has a love of scrapbooking. She is capturing so many moments, both large and small, that we will be able to savor again and again like a fine wine in our old age.
- I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with my grandfather before he passed away this year. Saying goodbye is never easy – but it’s far better than not getting the chance to say anything at all.
- I’m thankful for the light in my daughter’s eyes as she greets me at the door when I get home from work each night. It always makes my day better.
- I’m thankful for books. I am still able to lose myself in them every single day. They open up new worlds to me, provide me with an escape when I need it most, and make me think about the world around me. They’ve helped me meet some very cool people over the last 18 months.
- I’m thankful for my grandmother’s strawberry cake. It is, quite possibly, the perfect food.
- I’m thankful for afternoons working on piano with my son. He doesn’t always enjoy it (especially my clapping to keep him in tempo), but sharing music with him brings me great joy.
- I’m thankful for warm blankets on a cold winter’s morning and cool sheets on a hot summer’s night.
- I’m thankful for my freedom. Okay, you’re right – this one was on last year’s list as well – but it’s so important, it bears repeating. Without freedom, we’re all just colorful paper puppets dancing at the end of someone else’s strings.
Take a moment and think about all you have to be thankful for this year. You may find it’s more than you thought. I hope all of you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the food, the family, the friends, and the football!
My daughter is just learning to read. It’s a fun time here in our house, and particularly gratifying for me to see her beginning what I hope is a long and rewarding love affair with books. .
She’s always been artistic (she designed the logo for thewordzombie.com), and now she’s throwing her hat into the writing and reviewing ring. Not really knowing what blogging is about, she still wanted to “review” a few books for me and have them posted. As a father – how could I resist? So, without further ado – here are the first two book reviews by my daughter – or, as she told me she would like to be known here – “Little Miss Chocolate Zombie”.
“Elf” is a story about Buddy the Elf. My favorite part was when he reached the tallest branches on the tallest Christmas tree. It was really funny when he carried a bunch of candy canes. I didn’t like it when Buddy left Papa elf for a while.
I learned the being different from everyone is what makes you, you. “Elf” is a good Christmas book. You should read it.
“Unlovable” is about a dog named Alfred. The cat tells him that he is unlovable. I didn’t like it when the cat taught the parrot to say “unlovable”.
My favorite part was when the new people moved in next door to Alfred. Alfred’s next-door neighbor is a dog like him named Rex. At first, Alfred told Rex he was a Golden Retriever because he though he was unlovable. Rex dug a hole under the fence so he could play with Alfred. I liked it when Alfred and Rex played together.
The story showed me that even when someone says you are unlovable, you CAN be lovable. I think Alfred is lovable. He is really cute when he eats and sleeps. He has a cute curly tail.
You should read this book. It will teach you a lot of different things. I learned that you should stay away from people who are mean to you.
And there you have it. The first is what could be a long string of hard-hitting reviews from “Little Miss Chocolate Zombie”. Let me know what you think – I’ll pass the feedback along to her. I would just caution you to be nice. She has quite a temper and holds a grudge for a LONG time. She is, after all, her father’s daughter. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
I have what might be best described as a love/hate relationship with flying. I love to travel and see new places – I hate the ridiculous amount of regulations and “theater of the absurd” rules. I’ve written about many of my adventures on airplanes and in airports in the past. This week, I hit a new level of the absurd. It would be laugh out loud funny if it weren’t true.
On a flight to Los Angeles this week, I had taken my seat and was getting settled in for the trip. I’m a quirky traveler, but I have a system that works for me. I pulled out my iPhone and headphones and dialed up my “Plane Music” playlist. I took my book and a thermos of hot tea (brewed after the security checkpoint, of course), and put them in the seat pocket in front of me. I checked my Blackberry, answered a few messages, and then turned it off for the flight. All systems checked out – I was ready to go.
If you’ve been with me for the past year, you’ll know I always seem to learn something interesting when I travel. It might be that my cordless mouse is a threat to aviation security, that some restaurants have no business advertising, or even that “Unskinny Bop” is a song that will follow you, no matter where you go.
This past week I had two trips, back to back. One was a sales meeting for work and one was a mini family vacation to the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark resort. Besides being completely exhausted, I again managed to learn a few things along the way. Since it’s been over two weeks since I posted anything, I thought I would get back in the swing by sharing a few of the pearls of wisdom I’ve gleaned during my most recent travels. Enjoy!
This year I’ve had the fortune of discovering the writing of Kelli Owen. In my review of her debut novel “Six Days” I called it “a claustrophobic cocktail of unease and uncertainty” that I found to be “refreshing in a very Chianti and fava beans sort of way.” Recently, I had the chance to review her new novella, “The Neighborhood”, and found even more to like. In that review, I said:
The comfortable and effortless style Owen imbues in her prose, her ability to make the ordinary both familiar and frightening, and the sensibility she brings to her storytelling are all reminiscent of “It” and Stephen King at his best. The ability to instantly connect me to a new world in a single sentence that first made me a King fan then, is the same thing that’s made me a Kelli Owen fan today.
Having made such an impression on me, I really wanted to pick Kelli’s brain a bit and see what makes her tick. She was kind enough to take time out of her day to answer a few questions recently.
10 years ago today, the phone woke me up from a deep sleep. My wife had gotten up early and gone over to the YMCA to work out. I had been up late the night before packing for a trip to Los Angeles, and had planned to try and sleep in a bit that morning. I was very groggy as I rolled over and picked up the phone from the bedside table.
“Are you awake?” my wife’s voice asked me from the receiver.
“No, not really,” I replied.
“You should get up, there has been some sort of plane crash in New York. Turn on the news.”
I rolled out of bed and in to the living room, grabbing the remote from the end table. I clicked on the TV and sat down to see what was happening. I didn’t get back up off the couch for the next 15 hours. Like so many other people in the country, I went to bed on September 10th, 2001 with absolutely no idea the next day would change my life and set the country on a new path. It was the proverbial calm before the storm and looking back now, I can only describe 9/10/01 with one word – before.
The phone rang at 6:02 on Tuesday morning. Before I could even open my eyes I thought, “It’s not good news”. It’s never good news when the phone rings that early in the morning. As I struggled to come fully awake, I heard my Mom’s voice telling me my grandfather had passed away. He had lost his battle with liver cancer. They say, sometimes, when you know it’s coming, bad news like this is easier to hear and process. They’re wrong.
My grandfather was Kenneth Bailey, although he was always Papa (“pa-paw”) to me. He was born in 1928 and lived his entire life in Buford, Ga. He was married to my grandmother (Mema) for 61 years. He has two daughters, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. And while all of those things are true, they really don’t get to the heart of the man that Papa was.
We are hosting our first official book giveaway here at The Word Zombie. We are giving away a free copy of “Lockdown” by Alexander Gordon Smith. It’s the first book in Smith’s “Escape From Furnace” series (the third installment of which – “Death Sentence” was released on August 2nd of this year).
Beneath Heaven is Hell….Beneath Hell is Furnace! Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world.
So, how do you enter to win the book? Simple – just leave a comment below and you will receive one entry in the giveaway. Want an even better chance to win? Tweet the following and you will receive TWO entries into the contest – “Check out @thewordzombie and enter to win a free copy of “Lockdown” by Alexander Gordon Smith. Visit them here – http://bit.ly/pRCZo6″
All entries (both comments and tweets) should be received by 5:00CST on Saturday, September 3, 2011. You can both leave a comment and Tweet once each day between now and the 3rd. The winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday, September 4th. Thanks – and good luck!
“Samson and Denial” is a new novella from Bob Ford. Part good old-fashioned horror story, part character study on the necessity and danger of denial as a survival mechanism – it’s an engrossing story that hides a surprising depth. Ford packs a hell of a lot (and a lot of hell) in to these 125 pages.
The story follows Samson, a man of not a few faults and shortcomings:
We’ve never met, you know me. There’s someone like me in every crowd.
I’m the guy who always has a stain on his shirt or has his fly unzipped. I’m the guy who leaves the men’s room with a ribbon of toilet paper trailing from the heel of his shoe. On a Chinese calendar I’m the guy who’s born in the year of the pig or the rabbit or the cock. Never something cool like the year of the tiger or the dragon.
I’m never the cool guy.
When I go back and watch a Spielberg film from the late 70s or early 80s, it has a certain look and feel to it – a tone that is instantly recognizable. When I watch a sitcom from the 80s, it has a singular cadence that instantly puts me at ease, and prepares me to have my problems solved in 30 minutes or less. When I play a video game from the late 70s or early 80s, it makes my fingers itch for a quarter. And, when I read one of the books I loved when I was a teenager, it brings back the pure joy I would find in losing myself in another time and another place. I spend so much time thinking about what I read now; it’s becoming more and more rare for me to find that unadulterated escape in a book anymore. I found it when I read “Ready Player One” – and I loved it.