Sunday, March 28, 2010

Me, June and Steph.

My wonderful neighbor and darling cousin are fast asleep. It is 11pm. Relaxed is a term often used, but under-powered for its ability to describe the state we are in. We have spent the past few days on the west side of the island, enjoying much conversation and very simple activities, mostly going to the beach, finding places to eat and drink, and keeping ourselves from cooking in the hot tropical sun. The jokes and insults have been flying to fill the occasional space. How we have laughed! June's infamous "tittie slap", employed to disengage her nerves about my driving a few days ago has been a fan favorite indeed... my right nipple doesn't find it so funny though. I also made a comment about our previous lodging in which my bed had fitted sheets that didn't quite cover the whole mattress. In a slightly drunken state I went on and on about the "daisy duke sheets, short short sheet... etc." that had the girls chuckling through the night. Then today I successfully leaped across the room and onto my cousin as she was sitting at the edge of her bed to perform a "Jimmy Superfly Snuka" type maneuver. June ran for her camera and asked us to do it again, but Stephanie, being the smart one in the family, ducked out of the way and left me to my own demise on the bed. Like I said, we are having way too much fun!

We are staying at the Villa Cofresi in Ricon, named after a very famous and well loved pirate that once haunted these same waters, and the accommodations are excellent. It is a great condo-style room with a spacious kitchen and bathroom and all the amenities one looks for in a hotel. We are right next to the ocean, and a short walk to some nice restaurants, grocery stores, and local bakeries. This is vacationing 101. I have been looking forward to spending this week with them, and they have not disappointed! We will be traveling much of tomorrow back to the rain forest and then we are spending their last night on the island in a hotel in Old San Juan. I am leaving a week later. More to come on that! Hope you are all sleeping peacefully...if not, get your ass to bed or you will turn into a night owl!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The world needs a hug....

Take yourself out of the whirling, twirling, rat race once in a while and a few things become self evident. The frantic pace at which folks live their lives is frightening to say the least. I know. I've been on top of the racing wheel more than once. The hustle and bustle is the status quo, whether or not it is leading to true results, or better yet... happiness. Are people happier now? Most that I've spoken to will say no, despite having almost infinite options.

Do you really need to answer that phone call while taking your order at a restaurant; or worse yet while eating with friends? Can you talk to your child and enter their world for an hour? The world of joy, play, creativity and make believe? If you answered yes, is it spontaneous or do you have to "pencil it in" your calendar? When is the last time you talked to your inner child? He's probably sitting in a corner waiting for you to have some fun!

Do you see your face in the mirror every morning asking how much more you can take? Is coffee keeping you alive and working? Are you working towards something useful or fulfilling? Are you driving with the legions of people on the so called "successful route"? I bet you are stuck in traffic.

After a few months of really slowing down, almost to a crawl, I have come to the conclusion that the world needs a big hug! Not a religious saviour, definitely not more money or stuff... we only need each other. Most of our insecurities and fears are unwarranted and just a product of a machine that can only survive on our consumption of "stuff". We are made to feel insecure and inadequate on purpose so that the "next great thing" can sweep into our lives and deliver much needed a price of course! How many of these "next great things" are thrown out or broken, or forgotten within a year? How many within a month? I know it has been said a thousand ways and more than a thousand times, but having eliminated most of the "stuff" of my life, I am far more clear in mind and spirit, and far happier.

So, my challenge to you is to try to slow down a bit, and help somebody else slow down as well. Don't throw out your useful gadgets, or quit your job, (unless you want to!) ...but have some uninterrupted play soon! Take a month off and go somewhere new. An old sport could be revived. Maybe there's a friend you've been meaning to see or a loved one you haven't spent time with due to "obligations". Have them over for dinner and play some cards or board Turn the TV, computer, and cell phone off for a few hours and discover what it's like to socialize again. I am signing off to socialize with a great family right now! Have a great night all!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thank you for waiting....

I've begun my trek in the right direction. You will find some very standard themes here, but keep in mind I am writing for a young adult audience. This chapter sets the tone for how the first book will start wrapping up. Sammy has lots of adventures ahead!!!! Enjoy and again, thanks for reading. I really appreciate it!


Sammy felt his feet leaving the ground as he held his friend’s hand tightly. He looked below as all of the objects on the ground slowly became smaller and smaller. The snow was still falling all around, but it looked so beautiful to him, and the warmth he felt was contradicting the blustery conditions. He felt like he had sunshine in his stomach. Eddie smiled at him, increasing the feeling of warmth and they ascended further still. Sammy watched with eyes wide open as the lights on the ground became blurred in the cover of the thick snow filled air. He pulled his head back and watched the sky above. They were closing in on the cloud layer. The grey clouds were tinted with the yellow lights of the city. He felt like a helium balloon that was let go after a parade, climbing ever onward towards the clouds, eventually out of eyesight. He always wondered where those balloons went. How high could they climb? He sometimes pictured a great number of balloons floating around in space when he was younger.

They pierced the cloud layer and an impenetrable mist formed all around them. It was sparkling with ice crystals and flickering flashes of light. He thought he saw the faces of angels as they moved upward. There was a vibrant sound coming from the crystals. It was like a thousand beautiful wind chimes playing a song together. The crystals of ice danced and bounced around inside the cloud. The scenery was stunning, and the music was none like anything he had ever heard on earth. Sensing Sammy’s joy, Eddie slowed the ascension and they hovered in the ethereal mist. Sammy let go of his hand and spun slowly in the mist. He was lost in happy feelings. The music made him dance all around the mist slowly. He was tumbling and turning, dancing and playing. Soon Eddie joined in and the two of them were spinning and twirling wildly. They laughed and smiled like small children frolicking in the sand at the beach. The music increased as the crystals became brighter and more lively. The energy was incredible. Sam looked at Eddie and saw a bright white light all around his body that got brighter and brighter as his happiness increased. He looked at his own hands and arms and noticed that they were glowing in a similar tone. It was a dazzling scene, everything glowing and playing and the music swelling in volume and intensity. Sammy buzzed around in the mist smiling brightly. He noticed he was moving very freely and sensing his new found confidence in flight, blasted himself upwards and into the night sky. What he saw next, made him speechless.

“Beautiful isn’t it?” Eddie said. Sammy couldn’t reply. He looked into space and saw the whole infinite universe in front of him. The colors fascinated him. There were streaks of purple and magenta. There were beautiful star clusters and galaxies. He could see into the center of the twinkling Milky Way galaxy. It was far better than the poster he had on his wall, far more beautiful and vast than he had ever expected. The twinkling lights of stars flashed all around and told of stories of infinite possibilities. He didn’t feel the emptiness that people sometimes felt when thinking of space. He saw infinite worlds and places that would be beyond his comprehension. Mysterious gases vaporized and reappeared. Comets streaked through, leaving trails behind them. Sammy’s eyes were locked and focused.

“It is more beautiful than you can imagine, and the possibilities are endless my friend. It’s all energy out there! You will see it all someday. I have seen so much already Sam. I have visited places that would make the most amazing places on Earth pale in comparison. But you are still connected there buddy… and you must finish your time there first. We all go there to learn lessons. You are learning yours now. Many times we go back again and again to learn. I am due for a trip back soon.” “What you are saying, is that you are coming back? You have to leave…all of this?” Sammy asked curiously. “Well, yes and no. There are still some things I have to do on Earth, speaking of which… there are a few things I want to show you before you go back.”

Eddie grabbed his hand and plunged the two of them back towards the Earth. Sammy hadn’t noticed how far above the clouds they had drifted. They were so far above the planet that they could see most of the US and Canada. They were diving back towards the Earth at amazing speeds and the small became large again. As they got closer and closer, they passed through the misty cloud layer that they had been playing in and soon were back in the city, then in the neighborhood that they had just left. Eddie landed them in a yard on Bolton St., which was between the community center and St. Stephens. A dog came running straight for them and began barking. Sammy backed away quickly. “I thought we were supposed to be invisible!” he yelled to Eddie. “Ha ha… I forgot to tell you that animals can see you! Especially dogs. They are always connected to the other side. Ever wonder why a dog runs circles in the yard, barking at nothing or how a cat gets spooked out of thin air and runs quickly under a piece of furniture? Well, now you know! Ha ha. Don’t worry. He’ll just run right through you. It is kind of neat actually.” Sammy let the dog run and each time he passed through he could feel the energy of the dog. After a few runs the dog changed his disposition from angry to happy and sat right next to him calmly.

Eddie was looking through the back window of the house. He motioned Sammy over. Inside of the house was a woman who looked very angry and possibly drunk. She was hunched over her kitchen table with a glass of what looked to be whiskey and she was smoking cigarettes one after the other. “Who is she?” Sammy asked. “Watch,” was Eddie’s reply and he pointed Sam’s attention back to the kitchen. The woman took a big swig of the whiskey and slammed the glass back down on the table. She was shaking nervously and had big black circles under her eyes. She was mumbling something to herself when a boy came in from the other room. It was Charlie Grossman. He walked into the kitchen with his head down and didn’t look at the woman. She had her back to him and he was moving like he didn’t want her to know he was there. He slowly opened the refrigerator door and when he did a small glass jar fell from the door and smashed on the floor. The woman started screaming and yelling, and threw her empty whiskey glass at him. It bounced off of Charlie’s shoulder and hit the floor, breaking also. “Clean it up! Clean it up or I’ll kill you!” she screamed at him. He bent down to pick up he pieces and she slapped him across the face. “What are you doing going in the fridge anyway! Tell me!” Her voice was teeming with anger. She kept hitting him. “You forgot to cook dinner Aunt Rita… I was hungry,” he said under his breath. “What! What! You think I don’t feed you! You think you don’t eat enough! You eat every dime that comes in this house! You are disgusting! I don’t know what I was thinking….” On and on the abusive language went.

Charlie kept apologizing and cleaning up the glass. Eventually he left the room and the woman went back to her chair and began smoking again. She was shaking violently and her face had a blue-ish purple color to it. She was very sick. “You see Sammy. Charlie has no family besides his disturbed aunt. He deals with this everyday. All he sees is violence and anger. That is why he acts the way he does when he’s with his friends. He hasn’t ever been loved or cared for properly. He feels like his whole life is a fight, and it is.” Sammy felt Eddie’s words deep inside of him. He felt bad for Charlie. He had such a wonderful and supportive family and despite their struggles, they were nothing like what Charlie had just gone through. They moved to the side of the house to the window leading to Charlie’s bedroom. He was lying on a mattress on the floor, crying and whimpering like a baby. It was quite a contrast from the macho image he carried on the streets. Sam felt like he could cry too.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Secret Psychic Life of Sammy Nichols... Chapter 10

Sammy’s eyes rolled to the back of his head as Jimmy Babcock dropped him to the snowy ground in the parking lot just behind the community center. It had been almost a week since Sammy had escaped the gang, leaving Charlie Grossman without some teeth and Brad Zazchec lying on the ground. Now he was the one out cold. The boys had caught him after a hockey game at the community center and taken him behind the building. Jimmy and Charlie pinned his arms back, letting Brad throw big, wild, right hand punches to his face. Brad was putting all of his weight and might into the beating. Sammy begged for mercy. The first punch made his nose bleed…the second opened a big cut above his left eye…and the third hit him in the temple, dropping him like a wet blanket. His body lay half lifeless in the snow. He was comatose. “That’s the last time you mess with us Nichols! Thought you were the big man in the hood didn’t you? Now look who is out cold!” Jimmy cried mercilessly as he went through Sammy’s clothes looking for money and anything else of value. He reached into the left hand pocket of his pants and found something shiny and big. It was Mr. Nichols’ wristwatch; the one Sammy cherished and carried with him everywhere he went. “Ha ha! Look what we have here boys! This ought to get us a pretty penny somewhere!” The other boys laughed and spit at Sammy’s limp body before fleeing the scene. It was dark and windy outside and the snow began falling all around. Before long he would be buried in the white powder. The winds carried the cold mood of the evening. If he didn’t wake up soon, there was a good chance he would die back there.

“Nichoooooools…. Nichoooooools…. Heeeeeyyy….. waaaaaake uuuuup buddy….,” the voices came in slow whispers. “Get up man… come on, we don’t have time…. You have to come with me now.” Sammy opened his eyes slowly and tried to adjust them to the warm light that was all around him. “Dude. We really have to go or you are going to be in trouble fast.” Sammy blinked and picked himself up easily from the ground. He had the same feeling that he had the night of the dream, warm, tranquil and no feeling in his limbs. “Sammy! Lets go!” It was Eddie. “Take a look man! Look at you! Look on the ground!” He looked down and saw his body lying in the snow. It was mounting around him. He looked at Eddie. “What happened?”, he asked. “You got the beating of your lifetime from Brad Zazchec. Sam, we have to get somebody to your body quickly before you are gone for good! Come on I have an idea.” “Wait” Sammy replied, “Am I dead Eddie?” “Doesn’t look that way Sammy, but you are in deep trouble, and we need to get somebody to your body quickly. You have a lot more to do in life my friend! Come lets go!” With that, they moved quickly to the door of the community center and let themselves in. It was dark all around and it seemed that everyone was gone for the night. Eddie led the way through the hallways and finally into the gymnasium where a light was shining from the men’s locker room. There in the corner of the room was Mr. Anderson, the night watchman and janitor. He was sleeping in a chair leaning back against one of the lockers and he was snoring loudly.

“Alright Sammy, I’m going to go out into the gymnasium and turn on the lights. When they go on, just slam the locker door closed that is next to him and follow my lead…. Oh and Sammy, don’t worry, he can’t see you! Lets go.” Eddie moved out to the gymnasium and found the light switches for illuminating the big basketball court. Click, click, click, click and all the lights zapped on and started humming, warming up the fluorescent bulbs. Sammy looked nervously at the sleeping watchmen. He was afraid to act. “Now Sammy! Do it!” Eddie yelled from inside the gym. Sammy collected his courage and slammed the locker next to Mr. Anderson and watched him jump nearly two feet out of his chair with excitement. “What the heck is going on in here!” yelled Mr. Anderson as he looked around the locker room. Eddie was right; he couldn’t see Sammy even though he was standing right in front of him. Sammy leaned back against the wall as Mr. Anderson ran past him and grabbed a flashlight from the back of the locker room. He passed him again as he ran out of the room and into the gymnasium. Sam followed. He was trying to make sense of what was going on and he was grumbling to himself. When he got to the middle of the basketball court, Eddie pushed over a rack of basketballs that was near the door leading outside. They poured all over the gym floor and Mr. Anderson was racing around trying to collect them. Sammy and Eddie laughed at the scene. “Watch this!” Eddie said picking up one of the last stray balls. He started bouncing it towards the back door of the gymnasium. Mr. Anderson cried out, “What in damnation is going on! Get back here crazy ball!” He moved in pursuit of the bouncing basketball as Eddie kept it just a few feet from his reach. When Eddie got close to the back door, he bounced the ball perfectly into the door handle and it swung open letting all the blowing snow and cold air rush into the building. Mr. Anderson followed the bouncing ball down the stairs and into the night. Eddie gave the ball a good kick towards the parking lot where Sammy’s body was nearly completely covered in snow. As Mr. Anderson stooped down to pick up the ball, he saw Sammy’s cold body and yelled out, “Lord almighty!” He grabbed Sammy’s neck to feel for a pulse and slapped his face a bit. “Can you hear me boy? Can you hear me? Oh Lord, this isn’t good!” He picked up the body and brought it inside the gymnasium and ran quickly to phone for an ambulance.
Within a few minutes the ambulance came and Mrs. Nichols was phoned. He was alive and they were taking him to Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo.

“What do we do now Eddie?” Sammy asked his friend as he watched the ambulance take his body away. “Well, it looks like you are going to make it. I think we should go on an adventure!” Sammy looked at him and smiled, “Lets do it!”

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Illustrate my book!

Hey everyone! The Secret Psychic Life of Sammy Nichols needs a good illustrator! I am looking to publish the book by May/June 2010. If you or somebody you know is an illustrator, please pass them this link.

Here is what is needed.

1. Color cover featuring Sammy

2. One black and white illustration per chapter (a visual summarizing a main theme in the chapter)

3. A commitment to finish the project with me and keep on schedule.

Here is what you will get.

1. 10% of the royalty profit (terms/contract prior to publishing) OR a negotiated up front fee.

2. Future considerations for additional promotional items such as toys, cartoons, film, etc...

If you are interested, please read the chapters available on this blog and submit sample art or questions immediately to



Friday, March 5, 2010

The Secret Psychic Life of Sammy Nichols... Chapter 9

Oohhhhh yeah.... a very reflective chapter for my Valley people! Enjoy!


Uncle Joey’s stay had only lasted three nights, but they were action packed for Sammy and the rest of the family. He had taken them to dinner at Chef’s on the second night, which was everyone’s favorite place for Italian food. Whenever they were there he would always challenge Sammy to an eating contest! Mother would then say, “Joey, you are going to get him sick. He’s only 12 for God’s sake and he barely weighs 100 pounds. He can’t eat all of that food!” He would smile and order two of the biggest plates of pasta available with 2 extra meatballs. When the food came, he’d wrap Sammy and himself in bibs and count to three to start eating. Forks would twirl and sauce would splatter all over the table as the two of them raced to put down the most pasta. The girls would chuckle and try to imitate them and mother would act completely embarrassed, but under her embarrassment was a smile she couldn’t hold back. Uncle Joey’s charm could soften anyone’s heart, no matter how bad his table manners were. After they had eaten all that they could, Uncle Joey would look up from his plate and smile at Sammy while rubbing his belly in satisfaction, proclaiming to be the winner. Sammy would smile back, the two of them carrying each a saucy mustache all around their lips. Mother would quickly dab their faces and scold them for eating so much saying, “There are starving children in Africa! Look at you two!” When the waitress came around Uncle Joey would have her go to the kitchen and weigh the leftovers to see who had “officially” won. Sammy found it kind of peculiar that despite almost always having more food on his plate than his uncle, he would be crowned the champion. The waitress always got a great tip from Uncle Joey.

While he was in town he also took them to the arena to watch the Buffalo Sabres play. This was a real treat since hockey tickets were expensive and hard to come by. The girls, who were only three at the time, knew most of the cheers for Sabres and were shouting, “Wets go Buffawo!!!” in their cute, three year old way, making the fans in the section laugh and cheer them on. It was a great game and a very happy time for all. Uncle Joey treated them very well when he was in town, but he also helped mother out very often with money. He would send a check every few months that would have a little note with it that said, “Take the kids to a movie or something ☺, Love Joey”. The money was far more than was necessary to go to the movies. It was his way of helping mom get through the tough times. She would always call him the minute one of those special envelopes came in the mail and say, “Joseph, you don’t need to do this. I’m sending this check back right away!”, but he would insist that she keep it. He had a heart of gold and was always sharing with others. The days spent with him were some of the best Sammy had in his life.

The night before he left, he and Sammy took a long walk behind the community center in the trails near the river. “Uncle Joey. Do you believe in magic?” Sammy asked while climbing a hill in the snow, just behind his uncle. “Of course I do Sam! Look at the river there in the distance. Every time I see it I am amazed at its beauty! This whole world is filled with magic. I love it!” “Well, I guess I meant the kind of magic where you can do things you didn’t think you could do,” Sammy replied. “I see. I believe there are many influences in the world and many powers that we won’t ever fully understand, but they are often there for us when we least expect it. I have done some things in my life that I never thought I would be able to do… I mean, I haven’t pulled a rabbit out of a hat or anything like that… if that’s what you are asking?” his uncle said. Sammy cast an unsure look to his uncle. He wasn’t sure if he could tell him about what happened a few days ago, but he really wanted to get it off of his chest. “Something happened to me the other day… and I’m not sure what to make of it. I can’t talk to mom because she will think that I’m on drugs or something. Plus, if she finds out she’ll just race me into church and plead Father Brown to shake the devil out of me” Sammy said quickly. Realizing he had let the cat out of the bag, he turned away and continued, “never mind Uncle Joey, it isn’t that important, just a crazy dream I had.” A few moments later, Uncle Joey put his hand on Sammy’s shoulder and said, “Don’t worry Sammy. You can tell me whenever you feel comfortable, or if you feel comfortable. I’ll give you my cell phone number before I leave tonight so you can call me anytime you want to talk about anything! You are old enough now that we can be buddies. I promise I won’t tell your mom or anyone else the things that we discuss in confidence.” “Thanks Uncle Joey. I really appreciate it!”

They walked the hills in the quiet night. A light dusting of snow was falling from the sky. Sammy knew the kind of magic his uncle was referring to. It was everywhere in nature. He always felt a special connection to the plants and animals in the fields behind the neighborhood, and he knew his uncle did too. All of the kids that grew up in the Valley had a great connection with that plot of land. For most of them, it was the only natural place they would experience in their lives. Every season cast a different hue on this place and a different glow in the hearts of the children who used it for their adventures.

Winters would offer a quiet walk, like the one Sammy was taking with his uncle. Then there were the weekend hockey games on the frozen pond, or “the swamp” as the kids called it. Often times, the older kids would climb the grain elevators just before a winter storm to watch it come in from the lake. This was an exhilarating and dangerous activity since the winds on top of the tall buildings could reach 60 or 70 mph. You could always find some driftwood and start a fire to warm yourself on a star lit night and sometimes kids would build an igloo out of the snow and ice to serve as a winter fort. Ah, forts were a mainstay in any weather! Who didn’t have a fort back there?

Spring would bring the wild flowers and trout fishing in the muddy river. The rains would pour down and you could sit on the old train trestle and watch the ice race down the river as it broke apart. It would make a crackling sound that could be heard around the neighborhood. The days would get a little longer and warmer, foreshadowing the coming summer. The pond would melt sometimes in one day and almost every year you would see a hockey net protruding from the muddy bottom until some intrepid explorer went in with his rubber boots and got it out! You could count on a host of kids sitting back there with old coffee cans and milk jugs capturing tadpoles to take home and raise into frogs.

Summer was the best. The break from school meant most kids would spend the entire summer back in the fields. You could sit on the end of Smith St., which was one over from St. Stephens, and fish for bass or walk the trails and catch snakes and frogs. Some kids swam in the river even though it was dangerous, and a spare inner-tube or barrel usually got converted into a makeshift boat to float down the river with. Besides the fishing and exploring, there was the endless games of hide n seek, bike races on the trails, rock wars, and the all-time favorite activity of any Valley kid (or any kid in general for that matter!) fort building! Forts were built in different spots every year and made from whatever materials kids found in the garbage or stole from their parent’s garage. Many neighborhood fathers would be perplexed during the summer months as tools and supplies from their garages and sheds would disappear and reappear everyday. You had to be sneaky about building forts. It was serious business; a constant mission, scouting, finding and moving goods and supplies back and forth. Plywood and good furniture were the most coveted items, along with tarps and hardware. The location of your fort was always top secret too, even though every fort was found, used and then destroyed by the bigger kids at some time or another. The worst was when they would set it on fire. A broken down fort could be fixed, but a burnt fort was history. Sammy and Eddie had built many a legendary fort when Eddie was still alive. The past couple summers, Sammy had been invited to a few forts to hang out, but it just wasn’t the same.

Fall would offer reprieve from the long days at school and a passing glimpse at the glory of summer. As the leaves would change and then fall from the trees, the kids would get to play less and less back in the fields, but they were always there for an adventure. Fall was a great time to see deer and fox and the occasional flock of wild turkey. Sammy finished the walk with his uncle that night and went to sleep with dreams of happy summer days in the fields. They were some of the most exciting days of a boy’s life!