Monday, December 24, 2012

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!

For all of you who loved The Grey Tier, and are anxiously awaiting the sequel, I  assure you that I am working on it. In gratitude and in celebration of the holidays, I am running a giveaway for a Kindle Fire HD. Please follow the directions and enter to win. Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 26, 2012


I know that today is cyber Monday, and although there is nothing terribly techy about THE GREY TIER, I figured a little paranormal sort of fits the bill. That said, for TODAY ONLY (Monday Nov. 26, 2012) I am gifting free e-reads of THE GREY TIER to anyone who e-mails me at All you need to do is type in THE GREY TIER in the subject line and be sure that you let me know the e-mail address you want it sent to. When you receive the gift, all you have to do is accept it. I will not use your e-mails for anything else other than for today's giveaway. You will receive your gift by midnight tonight! Enjoy.

Here is a the back copy and a couple of reviews from THE GREY TIER!


"Skirting the edge of gritty and glossy Los Angeles, Michele Scott takes paranormal mystery in a new direction with romance, humor, intrigue, and a fantastic leading lady. I can’t wait to read the next in the series." -Elizabeth Hunter, best-selling author of the Elemental Mysteries.

“A sexy irresistible supernatural mystery, mixed with a big cast of colorful characters. A fun, twisting plot worthy of Alfred Hitchcock that had me guessing until the very end (and guessing wrong I might add!). Michele Scott is a tremendous talent and The Grey Tier is a helluva lot of fun to read."
--J.R. Rain, bestselling author of Moon Dance and Vampire Games.

What happens when a small town girl moves to Hollywood to pursue her dreams and winds up smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation, haunted by famous dead celebs, and working for the biggest pop star in the music industry?

Introducing Evie Preston: Small-town girl and under-the-radar healer, currently trapped in a po-dunk Texas town but yearning for something more. When fate gives her the opportunity to move to Hollywood to follow her dreams, Evie finds herself navigating through the land of glitz and glamour, and the realm of (dead) celebrities…

Raised in Brady, Texas by her minister father and her beauty shop-owner mother, Evie has been trying to get out of town for years. When an old family friend gives her an unexpected gift on her birthday, Evie finally gets the chance to start fresh out west. Against her father’s wishes, she packs up her guitar, her dog, Mama Cass, and heads for California.

Once in L.A., Evie finds a singing gig at a local dive bar where she meets a slew of interesting characters including the owner himself, a former child star with a hidden past. She also scores a day job doing make-up for a famous and foul-mouthed pop diva. One of the job perks includes house sitting at a Hollywood Hills mansion. But what Evie doesn’t know is the house is also home to some famous celebrity spirits, including the essence of former Grunge rocker, Lucas Minx.

As if things weren’t complicated enough, Evie finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery and discovers she’s being targeted by some nasty spirits. And to top things off, she’s developed a Texas-sized crush on her hot, but very dead, roommate, Lucas.

Maybe her dad was right and the City of Angels really is the City of Devils—all of them after her.

WARNING: Strong language, sexual content, and mild violence.

Check out the book trailer!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Hot Mess!

I am pleased to host my good friend Gayle Carline on adventuresnwriting. Gayle is one of my most favorite people in the world. She is funny, smart, sweet, and kind. Plus, she is a horse chick! I love her and I love her writing! She is running an awesome contest right now! Read Gayle's books and enter the contest!!!

 I’d like to thank my good buddy Michele for giving me a little space on her blog to run a contest for my new book, THE HOT MESS. If you’ve been following the other blogs in the contest, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s the third book in my Peri Minneopa Mystery series. Peri is a housecleaner-turned-detective, who traded in her dustmop for a PI license. Surveillance and background checks are easy money, unless you’re getting chased, beaten, or shot—which seems to happen to her on occasion.
In THE HOT MESS, Peri is asked to investigate a case of arson and murder. It’s not exactly on her menu of services, but she agrees to help her friend. What she uncovers are family secrets… and danger.
Here are the rules: There are excerpts from the book on this and four other blogs (see below). Visit my blog on Monday, November 26th, and I’ll ask five questions, the answers to which can be found in these five excerpts. The first person who answers all five correctly gets a free copy of THE HOT MESS, either e-book or paperback. I’m feeling so good about everything right now, I might even give out more free copies.


Skip looked up at the ceiling, watching the lines of water running toward a common bead, forming a ball and falling when they got too heavy. The battalion chief, Cornelius Danes, had warned him not to stay too long in the house. The fire department liked to err on the side of caution when it came to civilians.
“Finish up and let’s get out of here. This might not be the safest place to be.”
Jason nodded his answer. Skip watched him label a final bag, before turning toward the doorway.
“I hate unstable crime scenes,” the CSU said, pointing to the bedroom ceiling. Skip followed his direction and saw the bulge in the drywall. The water was pooling here. It wouldn’t take much to bring the ceiling down and ruin any evidence.
Both men turned and left, moving through the rest of the house at a quick pace. Chief Danes was waiting for them at the doorway.
“Get everything you need?”
Jason held up his camera. “Need a few quick pictures of the rest of the house.” He disappeared down the hall toward the kitchen.
“Almost,” Skip added, and did a quick visual sweep of the room. In the last, untouched corner of one of Benny’s beloved end tables, he saw something he recognized. He pointed to the object. “Chief, can I take this with me? I may need it to help me with the homeowner.”
The chief agreed, so he picked it up. It was the ashtray from the Some Came Running movie set. Skip recognized it because Benny had shown it to him numerous times. There were a few dark smudges, but it had survived the fire without cracking. He carried it outside and waved it at Peri.
“I’m hoping we got enough evidence to figure it all out,” Skip said, stripping off his hazard gear. “We may not be able to get back in there.”
“Wish I could tell you different, but it’ll need a couple of days to dry out before anyone can assess the amount of damage,” Chief Danes told him.
The chief was still in his yellow uniform, carrying his helmet under his arm. His stocky build, along with his six-foot-four frame, made light disappear from doorways when he entered a room. A few gray hairs at his temple teased at his age, although his coffee-colored skin showed no wrinkles.
Skip paused, scratching through his short, peppery hair. “Any obvious cause?”
“There are remnants of cans, looked like paint and turpentine, where the blaze was hottest, so I’m guessing the homeowner was going to do some painting. My gut tells me it’s about the hoarding.” He regarded the house. “Granted, there wasn’t the kind of filth you associate with that kind of thing, but did you see all the furniture in there? All it took was a faulty wire, a can of turpentine and poof, it all goes up.”
“Yeah, Benny’s got a little problem.”
“Well, now it’s a big problem. We try to educate people but no one wants to think it could happen to them. This is gonna be an insurance nightmare.”
Skip thought about Benny’s obsessive need for his things. “I’m guessing the insurance will be the least of Benny’s bad dreams.”
He returned to Peri, who waited on the sidewalk. It amused him to see her attempting to look uninterested in what was happening. Her expression seemed almost indifferent, but her body was tense and restless, her fingers clenching and unclenching. He smiled and stretched his hand out as he approached, offering her the ashtray.
“His favorite ashtray,” Peri said. “Perfect.”
“Time for me to go to work.” He took his notepad out and observed the audience standing at the police barricade. “Think the neighbors might know anything?”
He could see the wheels in her brain grinding as she scanned the crowd. “Are you working on anything right now, Peri?”
“I’ve got a meeting this morning with a potential client. Other than that, just finishing a background check on an employee. Why?”
“Because I wish you were too occupied to want to snoop into this thing.”
She grinned. “Ah, Skipper, when do I snoop? Okay, forget I said that. All I want to know is, do you know who the body belongs to, and was it arson?”
“I don’t know and I don’t know. Chief Danes thinks it was probably faulty wiring and paint cans, compounded by classic hoarder’s neglect. Fire started in the living room, body was in the back bedroom.”
“Benny’s mom used to be in the back bedroom.” Peri frowned. “Paint cans? Why would there be paint cans in the living room?”
“Again, I don’t know. Doesn’t sound like our Benny, to paint anything. Body was a young male. Blanche couldn’t determine cause but time of death is probably about the same time as the fire.”
“This is all sounding weirder and weirder.”
“It’s too early to call anything weird. We on for dinner tonight?”
She ran her hand down his back. “I was thinking take-out and fool around.”
He smiled. “I’m on board with that. Now let me get my work done.”

* * *

The other blog sites are:

Our own adorable Andrew Kaufman,

The lovely and talented Jenny Hilborne,

A sweet cozy writer Teresa Trent,

Mr. All-Things-Dean-Martin,

When you’ve visited them, come on over on Monday and see me at

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Belief on The Afterlife

I know Katie Couric posted this morning on her thoughts on an Afterlife. Unlike, Katie, I am absolutely positive there is an Afterlife. I know it in my heart. It is simply a knowing for me. Here are a few brief stories from my life that have allowed me to accept this as a truth for me.

I've had a lot of loss in the past two years. It has not been easy, especially the loss of my Dad. My brother passed shortly after my Dad (actually 2 months to the day that Dad died), and my ex-husband who had still been a friend committed suicide two years ago. In my ex-husband's case I had to witness the loss of innocence within my sons on top of losing their Dad. Not easy, but my faith has gotten me through much of this.

Growing up I lived in a haunted house. I really did. Things would disappear and then show up in very strange places (like under a bed), doors and cupboards would slam in the middle of the night, radios would go off and on, etc. There were countless incidents in that house that caused my Dad who did not believe in such things to do some research on ghosts, spirits, and the property we lived on, which turned out to be former Indian grounds. There was nothing ever harmful that I felt in that house, and I actually did see a little girl spirit one day there. I also had an experience when I was nine-years-old right after my grandfather passed away. I was very close to him and we shared the love of horses with one another. He was a really special person in my life and his death was a very sad experience for me. Until...he visited me one night in my room. He was lit up brightly and wearing the same mechanic jumpsuit he'd worn daily for years. He very clearly told me that I should not be sad or worried because he was happy and safe.

As I grew into adulthood, I couldn't help wonder if it was my wild imagination  as a kid was the reality of things. But, then my husband and I moved into an old home in an older area of San Diego. Things happened in that house all the time. When our daughter was born, she had toys that made noises by squeezing them, etc. Those toys would go off at all hours. A friend of mine would come over and refuse to go downstairs because she felt someone was always down there (it was a basement we turned into a family room). My husband didn't believe it was due to a ghost, until one day, he was in the laundry room with no windows opened and the detergent bottle went flying across the room. That was enough to convince him! Then our Ridgeback Java would stare up at the ceiling and bark, his eyes following something. That was definitely a bit disconcerting.

Right before my Grandma passed away a few years ago, I asked her before she died if she could show me a sign after she was gone that I knew she was okay. She passed in July that year and the day we buried her it was excruciatingly hot. There was a drape of pink roses across her casket. My Mom and I each took a rose and when we got home we put them in a vase. Those roses survived for two weeks, and still looked perfect right up until TWO WEEKS! These were roses that had been out of water during the ceremony for a couple of hours. It was a hot July! There is no way unless through something far more powerful than I think I can wrap my brain around that they would have survived. Do I think that was a sign from my Grandma? You bet! So, does my Mom.

A year after my Grandma passed, my best friend Hillary died from breast cancer. The night she passed away I was with her. At one point in the evening, she opened her eyes and said to me, "Why me?!" Then she drifted in and out of consciousness. An hour later she opened her eyes again and said, "I am ready to go home now." Ten minutes later she was gone. That night in bed, thinking of her and all the fun we had together and all that we had shared, I was so sad. I drifted off to sleep and both John and I were woken by our stereo going off playing soft, lovely music--not on a station we would have set. We like classical but it is not our first choice. I knew it was Hillary letting me know she was okay.

I have more stories that involve the passing of pets. I even have a couple of scary stories that I won't talk about.

My last story is the most recent. It involves my Dad. My Dad passed away on June 27th of this year. He was truly a wonderful parent and grandparent--full of love, life, and positivity. Losing him has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through, after witnessing the pain and experience my sons have gone through at the loss of their own Dad.

For the last few months I felt like my Dad hadn't been around, that he wasn't giving me a sign, and it really troubled me.

Then, two weeks ago when I was in New York for some very important meetings, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, wondering what the hell I was doing there. I was filled with doubts, and frustration. I fell back asleep, and the next thing you know, I am with my Dad. It is my young Dad from when I was a kid. I am pushing him in his wheelchair, and he is wearing this gorgeous purple scarf, which he would have never worn when he was here! Everything around us is white and light and beautiful. I can see images going past us and I know they are people, but I can't make them out. In front  of us are a lot of stairs like in a Coliseum that lead down to the shore, and ocean. He tells me, "Why are you worried? You will be great! Just do everything I taught you. You got this!" Then, I began to lose control of the wheelchair and it is heading toward the steep stairs. Suddenly, Dad lifts himself up out of the chair and is floating. He begins to laugh and says, "Don't worry. I don't need that thing anymore! I can't be hurt any longer and I don't hurt any longer. I could have walked with you." I ask him why he didn't walk with me then. He laughs and says, "I thought it would be fun to have you push me around again!" Then, I woke up. My day went beautifully. My meetings were successful, and I had a sense Dad was right there with me all day.

Some might say that was just a dream. I don't think so. So, if you wonder what my view is on an Afterlife? I think it's pretty clear...I have no doubts. What it completely looks like, I have no clear idea. I just know that this place here on Earth is not the end.

I'd love to know your thoughts!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why I Like Book Trailers

A lot of writers wonder if book trailers help sales. I'm not sure if they do or don't.  What I do believe about book sales is that authors want to look at all possibilities that are there to make readers aware of their books.

The reason I really like book trailers is because I am a visual writer. When I write a book, I see it play out like a movie in my head. I do that because it's just how I write, but also because somewhere in the back of my mind (not too far back) I am always hopeful that something I write will be made into a movie, or for TV. I am a big believer in putting out to The Universe things we would like to have happen in our lives. Therefore, the book trailer for me, is a small step toward that ultimate goal. And, it also gives readers an idea of what the book is about. It is a visual back jacket of the book.

I'd love to know what writers and readers think...Do you as a reader enjoy book trailers? If so, what do you like about them, and if not, what don't you like? Do you as a writer think they help you in any way? If so, how?

Thanks for reading!


Friday, August 24, 2012

The Pricing Game on Indie Books

Today I am running a .99 Sale on some of my A.K. Alexander thrillers--DADDY'S HOME, MOMMY, MAY I?, COVERT REICH, & THE CARTEL. These books are some of my bestsellers, so you may wonder why I might do that.

There are a couple of reasons. First and foremost has to do with gaining new readership and also loyalty to the current readers. Many readers who have not heard of a book, or an author, may be more inclined to spend .99 on a book than 2.99 and up. I could be wrong in that theory, and not all readers care. However, let's face it, many of us don't have extra spending cash these days, making that .99 price tag more appealing.

The Big 6 price their e-books at 6.99 and up. I know because six of my books are still owned by a Big 6 publisher and are priced at 6.99 to 7.99. (GIVE ME BACK MY you know, whole 'nother story).

I have to admit that I don't like deep discounting. Writers work hard and it can be a difficult pill to swallow when you know what you have written is worth more than a buck. Other writers don't really like it because it raises the bar to compete with. However, it is business and sometimes it is good business. Every store in the world has an occasional sale. It gets things moving, and at times, we discover something new and cool that we may have not tried before.

So, I hope that if you have not read any of my A.K. Alexander books that you will take a .99 cent risk and give one a try--And, spread the word. The best way for books to get out there still is by word of mouth.

I'd love to hear your opinion on pricing Indie books.

Thank You! Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is the Big Saga Book Dead?

A lot goes on at the borders in our country. A LOT. Have you watched Border Wars? That is some crazy stuff. I'm not going to get into the politics of any of it. And, I read Don Winslow's book SAVAGES, which I thought was a good read and pretty damn realistic. I also thought his style of writing was interesting.

Like Winslow, I have written a book with THE CARTEL theme, but it's quite a bit different from SAVAGES. THE CARTEL is a saga that begins in 1969. It's all about betrayals, relationships, and the drama that occurs in most families. This is a big book, and I have always been hopeful it would be one of those books that would reach a wide audience. It's been out for some time and it has a slow growth. I think that sagas don't have the appeal they once did back in the day. remember THE GODFATHER, THE THORNBIRDS? My parents devoured those books. I read them, too, as I got older and fell in love with those full type of stories.

In hopes of starting a resurgence back to big saga (they do say that everything comes back around), I am offering this book on Kindle for only .99. The book gets great reviews and it'll stick with you (I think).

Anyone here that passes the word on (because books still sell through word of mouth), let me know, and I will gift you a copy of DADDY'S HOME., which is my #1 bestseller.All you have to do is e-mail me at, let me know what e-mail to gift the book to, and write THE CARTEL in the subject line. Easy.

Here is where you can find some information about the book and read an excerpt:

I would love to know if you read sagas? Would you read a saga? Or, in your opinion, is the Big Sagaish book just plain dead?

Thank You!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What happens AFTER People Hit Bottom

Today I want to introduce you to a very talented author Reina Lisa Menasche. I met Reina and her very talented adolescent son at the Southern California Writer's Conference last year. We met and talked, and we could relate to each others' personal stories around our writing careers. I encouraged her to go indie, and am pleased she's taken my advice. Without further ado... Here is Reina's story.

This was the question that inspired my new novel, TWICE BEGUN.  As a social worker, my job duties have always required me to go a lot of places to witness and assist the people “at bottom.”  For instance, right out of grad school I drove a van full of substance-abusing teenagers to Twelve Step meetings.  Although I’m not an addict myself, I felt surprisingly drawn into the experience; touched by the small miracles of hope that rose out of those smoke-filled ritualistic gatherings (“Hi, my name is John and I’m an alcoholic.”  “Hi, John.”  You get the idea!).  Many a grizzled old man, haggard middle-aged woman with few good teeth, and hardened, cynical, withdrawn and wounded young person surprised me by standing up and bravely opening wounds in front of anyone who cared to listen.
To me, these “confessions” sounded, well, familiar.  Okay, I didn’t and don’t know what it’s like to be desperately addicted to something that costs money as well as my health, self-respect, and the loyalty and sometimes even love of my own family.  I’ve never been homeless (though in this economy just about everyone I know worries about the very real potential for bad luck and financial destitution).  I certainly don’t know what it’s like to go to prison.  I’ve never been in a gang.  Well, I did hang out with a gang of kids in high school who called themselves “The Piddles” because we loitered on the doorstop of Dr. Piddle, a dentist on Main Street, Central Islip, New York—but there were no guns involved, and no fear or terrorizing anybody).  In fact I’ve never witnessed or committed violence, and haven’t been treated as subhuman because of my less-than-humane behavior toward myself or others.

In short, I’ve been blessed with a loving family and a good chance at life.  I had a fairly sheltered childhood and an adventurous but “normal” adulthood (so far).  But…the recovering addicts in these AA and NA meetings seemed to know me anyway.  They spoke of pain that was hard to discuss.  They revealed their search for meaning, often in the wrong places.  They shared universal truths about love and loss and shame.  They admitted anger and expressed confusion.  They wove dreams from shreds.  Most of all, they continued to show up and display their vulnerability.  Men cried.  Woman talked about their children hating them.  Slowly, over time, I found in these stories lessons to take home with me and cherish.  These clients were teaching me. Of course I hoped I was teaching them too, but that’s another blog entry.  The story I wanted to tell in my novel was how absolutely inspiring the place at the bottom can be—despite the rank and stink of some of its details.

TWICE BEGUN was more directly inspired about five years ago while working in a program with men just out of prison.  I was teaching a class on Stress Management when one of the men showed me a book of poetry he had written while “in the pen.”  Yes, this tough looking man covered with tattoos had a soft spot eloquently expressed.  Just one more example of the same lesson: Don’t pre-judge people or keep them in their categories. 

Ironically, the same day, another client asked to show me a song he’d written, a blues song, which he proceeded to sing “a capella.”  His voice was stunning, his desire to carve a new life for himself as a singer rather than a gang member even more so. 

And so my novel was born. 

My thought was: what if the “good guy,” the “perfect guy” in the story, has a thousand hidden dragons—and the “bad guy,” the “burnout guy or loser” is someone to admire and learn from?  Choosing Paris Jablonski, Social Worker, as protagonist was just plain fun.  Making her eccentric family an echo of my own made me giggle out loud.  But creating a romantic relationship between a social worker and a client made me…uncomfortable.  No, very uncomfortable.  Anyone in the helping professions knows what an ethical no-no that is (for excellent reasons!). 

Still, this is fiction.  And fiction provides us with the luxury of thinking outside the box, breaking taboos, or playing with fire (speaking of fire, I thought that San Diego’s wildfires would make a fitting background for this plot).  In the end, Paris Jablonski chose her own responses to her ethical dilemma.  I just wrote it down.

Categorizing my book for selling and marketing purposes turned out to be another thorny dilemma.  TWICE BEGUN has love in it, but is it a romance?  It has some intense social issues in it, but it is certainly far from any kind of rant.  It’s a story about finding comfort and love in unlikely places.  It’s about love never quite defining itself.  It’s about people transcending their categories, or trying to.  It’s about change and hope, and of course about beginning again: a timeless theme, in my opinion.

Why did I decide to publish this work independently?  One publisher called the story original and powerful—but worried that it has too much cussing in one of the scenes for a romance novel (for the individuals involved, cussing is realistic, right?).  Another publisher just plain came out and said that the story doesn’t fit any particular category, the hero isn’t quite right for a romance, and the novel will thus be tricky to market—but could they see some of my other writing?
So…the book itself is like the story it tells.  I chose to try to transcend the existing categories, or create new ones, or just use whatever categories my work happens to fall into very, very carefully.

I’m beginning again, independently, just like Paris Jablonski.

Please check out Reina's book on Amazon. It is receiving excellent reviews and is one of those books not to be missed. Come support a fellow indie!

 Here is the Kindle link. Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Do the Big 6 Want to Make Money on Their Backlists, or just F... with the Authors?

First off, I want to thank everyone for their condolences and thoughtfulness in regards to my Dad's passing. It has been difficult, but your kindness has helped ease some of the pain.

The positive is that I am back writing--and writing a ton! My Dad taught me work ethic and to reach for your dreams. I am also coming out punching a bit these days. He taught me tat fighter spirit as well.

I have on occasion expressed my dismay with the Big 6, but I have typically tried to be as diplomatic as possible. I am done being a diplomat.

Here is where I am at. I started out in publishing with THE WINE LOVER'S MYSTERIES. MURDER UNCORKED was my first book and it did quite well. It wound up with 9 printings, some foreign rights sales, etc. Now, you can't find the book anywhere in print, or the second book in that series MURDER BY THE GLASS. They are officially out of print and have been for over a year! And, for a year now, I have requested reversion of rights. I receive e-mails from readers asking me where they can buy the books on a regular basis. Not everyone has an e-reader. I was offered to buy the books back at a 35% reduction off of list price when they took the books of print. That is standard.

I've asked nicely. I've been a good author. Now, I am pissed. The responses I get basically tell me that the process takes 2-3 months (mind you I have been asking for a year with no response), but they can take up to 6 months to respond. The e-mail intimated they would be taking the full 6 months.

This makes no sense to me. I have had books make it into top 10 bestseller lists on amazon, Wall Street Journal, etc. I know this series is one readers enjoy and want to read more of. The publisher would still own the rights to 4 of the other books in the series. Wouldn't it make good business sense for them to give me back my rights, allow me to publish indie and do what I know how to do to get books into the hands of readers? In turn, the 4 books they own rights to would start selling again. It would be a win/win. They don't do anything to sell the books. They've moved onto the next thing. If these guys would pull their heads out they could start making some money on the back list they own and stop seeing tried and true authors go indie, or sign with Amazon (which I have recently done and am very, very happy because THEY GET IT). Amazon gets it!

I think this is a game with the Big 6. They clearly don't care about making money on the extensive back list they own. They seem to enjoy keeping writers hostage. Come on! Get smart! You're going to need cash flow, Big 6, for all of the huge advances being plunked down for  the successful indie authors that are being cherry picked after they have done all the work themselves to get to the top.  I suppose the publishers pockets are so deep that they don't care. To me, that is arrogant. All I want are my rights back, and so do a ton of authors (yes--WE TALK and there are many of us who are grumbling). If I get my rights back, Big 6 publisher and I can make readers happy, and make a little money together. Novel idea, huh?

I realize that this is a battle I will not likely win, so writing this may be a waste of my time and just a rant. However, maybe it will wake someone up.

Rant over. I am now going back to writing.

Have a wonderful day!


Friday, July 13, 2012


Yesterday was my Dad's memorial. It was a very difficult day for me. I still can't believe that he is gone. I know that it will take time before I ever really feel normal again--if ever. My dad was my biggest influence. He believed in me even when I didn't and always encouraged me to keep writing.

I gave his eulogy and kept his photo with me as I read it. It wasn't easy but I really wanted to do it to honor the man I was so fortunate to have as my Dad. I had several people come up to me afterward at his celebration of life and ask for a copy, so I told them I would post it here. Thank You all very much for your love and support and friendship.


Good morning. My family and I thank you for your support and out pouring of love during this difficult time. My dad would be humbled and grateful.

My Dad never complained about the disease that took over his body, and in fact, up until the day he passed away he would say things like, “When I get better I am going to do this or that.” He was always a positive light, always embracing the good in people and life. He inspired everyone he met. That was just who he was. He started writing a book not too long ago about his ventures as an entrepreneur, a guide for others who maintained an entrepreneurial spirit.  So, I want to start off speaking about my dad from his own very recent personal words.

He started with a verse from the Bible out of the book of Romans chapter 8 verse 28. 
 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I want to side note here because he explained to me what this verse meant to him. As a boy, my dad had wanted to be a pastor, and at that time and for many years he thought that this verse was about being called to preach the word of God. But he recently told me that his interpretation of the verse is that we are to live a purpose filled life. We are to live our lives to fullest, for our lives are a gift. We are to discover our purpose and live that. My dad knew his purpose was to help horses and also to inspire people. He did this.

He went on to write: I’m not a Bible thumper, I promise. Though beginning with this verse may suggest otherwise. I haven’t graced the pews of God’s house in the past twenty years except for the occasional wedding or funeral. Regardless, I’ve always held this verse to be true. And though my actions may not always reflect it, I’m a man of faith, both in God and myself. Faith carried me through a childhood education riddled with intellectual self-doubt, eventually leading me to drop out of high school, through a series of failed inventions and business endeavors to finally realizing my dream of entrepreneurial success in an industry I love.

Eventually, I realized that my faith was the result of giving credence to my day dreaming. It’s something that I’ve done constantly throughout my life and for a long time completely unaware of its power. It’s a tactic that coaches and psychiatrists call visualization. To me, it’s just day dreaming.

For those looking to find success, the process is as simple as the one alluded in the Biblical verse. Have faith, find your purpose and assume your calling. The key is to dream before determining the details. It’s counter intuitive but an unhindered way of thinking that banishes self doubt before it can kill a great idea. Essentially, it’s learning to put the cart before the horse.

That is just a little bit of what Dad wrote down, but it shows what kind of man he was. He was a dreamer and doer. He chose how to live his life by dreaming how he wanted it to go. He set forth goals and dreamed about them, and then he did everything in his power to achieve them.

Dad wasn’t someone who just talked the talk. My dad was a man of action who showed me and us how life should be lived. I really grasped this as he became sicker over the last two years. What I learned from him is that life is all about choices. We get to choose how we want it to go. Sure things happen to us and sometimes they are not great things, but it is all in the perspective. It is all in how we view it. Dad could have viewed his disease as limiting, but he didn’t. He chose to continue to live his life as fully as he possibly could. He continued to joke and laugh, he continued to want friends and family around, he continued to create ideas and share them with us. He didn’t just allow a disease to take him willingly. That was exactly who my dad was—a chooser of the good things, and a man who focused on the positive, a warrior for the light in this life.
There were some fundamentals that Dad taught me that have helped shape my life, and I am sure there are those of you here who would say that he did the same thing for you as well. I am certain that if he had had the opportunity to finish his book that he would have included these keys to living a life successful and fulfilled.

The first key to living a life fulfilled the way my dad did is to live your passion. Find what you love and delve in with all of you, even if it is scary. A life fulfilled is going to have some fear in it, but if we don’t live our passions and live them passionately what is the point? We know my dad’s passion was finding ways to make the lives of horses more comfortable. He and my mom created an entire industry from his passion.  Think about that for a minute. To me, it is completely inspiring. My parents created an industry out of my dad’s passion for the horse. They’ve employed people, they have donated scholarship monies, they have helped thousands of handicapped riders, and they have truly made the lives of hundreds of thousands of equine athletes and their human partners more happy and comfortable. That is a legacy, and a life fulfilled.
The second key my dad taught me in order to live a fulfilled life is to maintain an ethic of persistence. It is true that nothing worthwhile is easy to gain. Hard work, a sound mind, a good attitude and a willingness to strive for your goals is exactly what made up the man who was my father. He would tell me to set a goal, visualize how I wanted that goal to be achieved, see it happening, feel it happening, and then set another one, because the initial goal would occur and be a bit anti-climatic because I had lived it over and over again already in my mind—so his constant message was to go for it—reach for the stars and when you get there, reach even further, reach even higher. I think by the testament of all of the people he loved and who loved him back that he reached for the heavens. That is a life fulfilled.

The third key, dad taught me was to have patience. Not everything happens on our time clock. In fact, it usually doesn’t. And I have learned to trust that there are reasons why things happen when and how they are supposed to. I don’t always have the answers or know the reasons, but I have learned that through the patience my dad suggested to maintain in my family life and in my career that he has always been right. It always does work out the way it is supposed to. Again maybe not in the time desired and maybe not in the ways expected, but with a little patience when the sweetness in life does occur, it is even that much sweeter and memorable.

And finally, Dad taught me that peace in life is a key element. I did not completely understand that one until just two weeks ago, right after he passed away.
Two days before Dad left this world, he said to me. “I have all the answers to life.” I said, “You do?” And he said, “Yep. I do. I know all the answers now.”
I said, “What are they?”
 He replied, “Love, family and peace.” I smiled and gave him a kiss on the cheek and said, “Yep, Dad. You got it right.” At the time, I really didn’t think much about it. I thought it was sweet and pretty much an easy answer.

But I have thought about his answers, and you know what I believe he was right. I believe the answers are that simple. We come here to love one another and make certain that we share our love with other people, animals, all life—an appreciation and gratitude is an expression of our love. One of my dad’s favorite things to remind was, “Keep an attitude of gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for, even in our darkest hours. There is always a flower to smell, the whisper of a hummingbirds wings, the mane and tail of a horse flying through the air as it sails across a pasture. Find what makes you thankful and maintain that attitude of gratitude.”
Family. Through the grace of God we are given family. Some of our family is blood related, some we choose such as our friends.  My dad had a huge extended family from his friends and employees who he loved to his animals, especially his Ziggy dog. Sharing our love with our family is living your life and Dad did that.

And finally, peace. The one key I never really understood until after Dad passed, and now I believe that I do. If we live a life giving and receiving love from the family we are born into, to the family we extend our hearts to, then we can end our days peacefully. I was with Dad when he passed away and I assure you it was peaceful as my mom held him in her arms. And if you knew my dad you loved him, and I know that you knew he loved you. He let people know exactly what he felt.

To really sum up exactly who my Dad was to so many people, I want t read from an e-mail that was sent to me right after his passing from our good friend Don Trotter. Don wrote: I didn't really ever get to know your dad that well as a dozen or so meetings doesn't really constitute a relationship. Yet I'd like to take this opportunity to use a bit of "license" to express how he touched my life.

The first time I had the privilege of meeting your Pop was last year at that burger joint in Ramona with John. He said something to me that resonated, and will resonate with me for the rest of my days.
 "Don, I can die a happy man knowing that I've made millions of horse's lives more comfortable."
That statement of a life mission.... accomplished, was something another man of vision cannot ever forget. I won't ever forget it, of that I am sure. Your father was a heroic figure to me. A man who, despite whatever foibles he may have had, saw his life in terms of his good deeds. That's my definition of a mensch. His death does not signal the end of his life, but the beginning of his legacy. That legacy will live on, in no small part, in me as I attempt to accomplish a life's mission. I'm certain the same is true for many other men whose lives he touched.

The truth of the brief time I knew him is that he was an inspirational figure who left a bit of his wisdom linger with everyone he met. He certainly did that with me. I am grateful to you for introducing him to me and will always remember him as "That Guy", the one who had the rare ability to truly inspire others to be better than they thought they were capable. This is, in fact, a time to mourn, but I see it more as a time for action. For me, his passing signals a moment of remembrance and sorrow and a lifetime of celebration and motivation to be a better human being. Heroes only come around every now and then; he was most certainly one of them.

My dad was a hero. He was someone who inspired, who truly cared about others. And obviously, he was a man of faith.  He believed in himself, he believed in others, and he believed in God. And I believe he is with God and us right now.  A week before he died, Dad was looking up at the ceiling and holding his arms up and out, a smile on his face, and tears streaming in his eyes. Two days before he passed he looked up again from his chair and was staring. I said, “Dad? What do you see?” He looked at me and said, “Something so pretty.” I asked him what it was and he just smiled and said, “It’s just so beautiful.” I knew right then that Daddy was being called home by the angels.
I keep having this awesome image of my Dad now. He had this little black quarter horse named Smokey while I was growing up. My dad was always a giver, but this horse was his special guy to him.  If he let you ride old Smokey, you knew you were special.  When his horse died, my Dad was devastated. He adored Smokey and Smokey adored him. I now like to day dream as my dad taught me. I visualize my dad being met by the angels and Smokey. He’s sitting up on that horse, his big smile on his face, his blue eyes twinkling, and he’s waving to us. He’s saying, “Don’t be sad, my friends. I’ve got new adventures ahead. It’s time for me and my boy here to wind on up the mountain to explore. But when you get here, I’ll wind on back down and meet you. It’s been fun and it’s been fulfilling and one heck of a ride, and I will see you again on the other side.”

I will leave you with one last thought. We may have lost a husband, a dad, a grandpa, a friend, a mentor, an animal advocate, and an amazing business man on this earth. But I know in my heart and soul that God just got himself one amazing angel in his Heaven, and that angel, my Dad, is watching over all of us and wanting all of us to live like he did—a life fulfilled.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Teachings from the Four-legged Kids in My Life

I think it's no secret to my readers that I love horses. I've been truly blessed to have had these amazing animals in my life since I was about five-years-old. There is something sacred and powerful in having a relationship with a horse. At least for me it is. I started really thinking about my relationships with each individual horse in my life, and like a good friend, each one teaches me something on a regular basis about life, family, love, my writing, friendship, etc...

I thought I'd share what I am learning from my family of four-legged kids over the next few days. I'd also love to hear back from you as to what the animal kingdom has shared with you.

I thought I would start with Krissy. Krissy is my nineteen-year-old Thoroughbred/Warmblood mare. Krissy came into my life five-years ago. I purchased her from a jumper barn where she had been a pretty successful show jumper. My hope for her was to continue jumping with me, but at lower levels than what she had been doing. I figured she would be a great teacher, and she has been. Just not in the way I expected.

Krissy and I quickly bonded. She is very sweet and kind, and we immediately became friends. Not long after bringing her home, I would notice on occasion that she was a little off. For the non-horsey folks here that basically means that she seemed to be having some lameness issues. I had the vet out and we did various tests on her to determine where the lameness was coming from. Long story short, after two years of ups and downs, we discovered that Krissy is a wobbler. This means she has a neurological condition stemming from the vertebrae in her neck. It could be hereditary, but with this horse most likely it was caused by an injury.

I retired Krissy and was pretty devastated. However, little did I know what this mare would now become for me. She has become a teacher in patience and acceptance. Her diagnosis paralleled my Dad's diagnosis of multiple systems atrophy, a neurological disease as well.

Now, I have had people ask me why I keep the horse around. She costs me a lot of money to feed and keep. There are some who have even suggested having her put down. Some horse people feel that unless a horse can be ridden, then he is no longer useful. I disagree.

Krissy has shown me in her own way that every living being is of value. When I go out to see her, she always, always nickers at me showing me that she is happy I am around. She always puts her head down for me to scratch her face and tell her how much she is loved. But it isn't a one way street. Love translates in all languages (animal and human. In fact, there is a dog licking my toes at the moment. Oh wait. That is because there is a bone near my feet). I can actually feel the love and gratitude that Krissy has for me. It is through her that I have learned to accept that not everything in life is going to be the way you want it. Not everything is always "peachy keen." There are ups and downs such as my dad getting sick, my mare getting sick, etc... However, it is in how you handle those things. Drama does nothing for us but bring on stress and discomfort. Staying grounded in the face of things that we can not control helps us move through the difficult times.

Right now as my Dad deals with a disease that has imprisoned his body, I see how he has gracefully accepted what he has to deal with. In some ways, he reminds me of Krissy who just allows and yet still loves, still shares and teaches me everyday that life is always good. It's just a matter of how you view it.
Krissy and me