After a career in marketing communications, I turned my attention to creative writing. To date, I've written three feature length screenplays and three novels. At this point, I am determined to become less serious.
The weather, like everything else in life, has been a rich source of material for comedians stretching back to antiquity. Times have changed. We have to do more than laugh at or complain about dear old Mother Nature. With each passing day, Mother nature is losing her sense of humor. She’s also losing her temper.
I have fond memories of the weather as an old friend. It always had its good moods and bad, its ups-and-downs, but it always seemed to be there for me, especially in the spring and summer. I remember walking down tree-lined fairways, under a bright blue sky and a warm sun. In those days, a weekend round of golf was a walk in heaven. No one worried too much about UV radiation because the ozone layer had yet to become a swiss cheese.
Flash forward to 2018. Weather nightmares assault millions of people. Drought victims, flood victims, tsunami and hurricane survivors; anyone who has had their home demolished or their livelihood destroyed will have trouble feeling safe again. Weather victims have every right to think of the weather as an enemy rather than a friend.
I think of the weather these days not as a friend or foe. I see it as a messenger. I believe it is trying to warn us, like a biblical prophet.
Who is the messenger? Nature Herself. If you persist in pissing someone off, that person is going to turn around, sooner or later, and slug you in the face. If you hurt someone, you will face retribution. Call it Karma. Call it whatever you like. We get what we give.
Nature has finally run out of patience. Nature is very angry with us. You have to watch out for slow-to-anger types. They usually pack one hell of a punch. We picked on the wrong person when we started mistreating the biosphere. The human race is famous for under achievement and stupidity, but this latest blunder of ransacking the environment is an award-winner. If we don’t act quickly and decisively, the pooch will be permanently screwed. We are cutting our own throats.
Winters are already beyond cruel in northern climates. The sun has become a grim reaper in tropical climates. Weather conditions around the globe have become capricious and downright vindictive. Glaciers are melting. Rivers and lakes that once provided life-giving water are drying up or dying from pollution. The seas are rising and flooding coastal cities. Marine life is dying in our acidic oceans. Destructive forest fires are becoming a weekly occurrence. In twenty years, we may not have enough fresh water to drink.
We have to heed the weather’s warning. The time to act is now. Don’t wait for the government to do something. The U.S. government has been dragging its feet on carbon dioxide emissions for over thirty years. We the people must accept the responsibility for global warming and the water crisis. We are like little children who have to grow up quickly because no one is there to protect us. Little steps can make a big difference, if everyone makes the effort.
Read about the environment. Make your next car a hybrid or an electric car. If nobody buys conventional gas cars, they will disappear from the earth like dinosaurs. Conventional gas cars have become a bad habit, like eating a steady diet of junk food. For an informative look at the current crisis and a concise list of things we can do to reduce our individual carbon footprints, go to www.climatecrisis.net. The power is within us. Let’s use it!
Verdict: A fun science-fiction thriller with both unique and familiar concepts, MICROMIUM delivers a satisfying story with memorable characters you don’t mind
spending time alone with on a desolate planet, millions of miles from Earth.
MICROMIUM by David Gittlin is a delightful science-fiction adventure set in a near-future where a possible clean energy source from Mars has captured humanity’s hope. A team of scientists travel to the red planet to perform an audit of the privately run mining operation. The team does their job a little too well, uncovering a secret that the company was desperate to keep hidden.
The story that unfolds in this novella is very compelling and carries the reader along with a fast-paced tale that isn’t difficult to follow. The characters are at their most interesting when they are working to solve the central problem of the book and working together as a team. When major twists are thrown their way, readers are eager to follow along with the team wherever they’re headed. There is drama and excitement, and all of it serves the larger story.
The characters’ stories are full of gripping drama and very real stakes. In sci-fi, it can be difficult to cut your characters off from the help they might need in a technologically-advanced society. Stuck on a planet millions of miles from that help, where the very atmosphere is deadly, solves that problem in a very real way. Like other recent stories focused on the red planet, the threat of being stranded there is ever-present, adding another layer of stakes to an already high-tension story.
Like all good science fiction, MICROMIUM features both a specific narrative that is enthralling and a larger universe that seems ripe for future storytelling. Many writers fall prey to focusing more on the latter element than providing a resolution for the former that is both complete and satisfying. Gittlin does not. The story he sets out to tell is resolved very clearly, but how that ending unfolds opens the possibility for more stories about both these characters and the world in which they live. Readers are left wanting more, but not because the story that drew them into the book was left unfinished.
Joshua Patton–Indie Reader
This interview and a spicy excerpt from an early chapter appear at Fang-Tastic Books; a well-known book review site.
Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to write in this particular genre?
I believe it started with my struggle with the forces of darkness and light within myself. A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes. At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with the forces of good and evil within himself and the world around him. The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature. The supernatural powers and ramped-up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods. He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes.
I believe everyone has the potential to become a divinely human being. I’ve been a ‘spiritual seeker’ for most of my adult life. Awakening isn’t easy, but I’ve found it’s worth the effort. What happens for Devon is happening for me in a much subtler way without the super-human powers, but happily, minus the need to drink human blood.
What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?
I’m fascinated by the supernatural powers of my vampire characters. They are very powerful beings with the capacity to dramatically impact the world around them positively or negatively.
Please tell us about your most recent release.
My latest release is Scarlet Ambrosia. I’m working on a sequel because I love the characters. Scarlet Ambrosia is the second novel I’ve published. The first one is a humorous Science Fantasy thriller titled “Three Days to Darkness.”
Do you have a special formula for creating characters’ names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
In most cases, I try to make a character’s name show something about the character’s personality and traits. I try not to make it too obvious. At other times, a character’s name just comes to me and I trust that the name is the right one. It’s interesting that the name often corresponds to a character’s traits by coincidence.
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
The antagonist of the story, Egon Schiller, was the hardest for me to write. This is often the case in the stories I write. There is always a tendency to make the villain two-dimensional rather than a three-dimensional person with some good traits and intentions. I feel that the most believable villains are people who have, for one reason or another, given in to their dark side. A good example of this is Darth Vader.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
Of all the characters in the story, I most enjoyed writing the female love interest, Mathilde de Roche. Her strength, heroism, and magnetism came naturally as I created her and as I wrote her throughout the story. That came as a surprise. I am, after all, a guy. Like most men, I find women unfathomable in the real world.
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
I participated in several online screen writing and novel-writing courses offered through the writers program at UCLA. Professional writers taught these courses. The teachers stressed that the most successful stories have memorable characters in them. I learned to create my characters before writing the story using a detailed character template. I’ve found that knowing what makes my characters “tick” helps make them more interesting and believable.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
I spent a week in Sedona, Arizona exploring the town’s art galleries, architecture and the energy vortexes.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
When I stumbled into my career in marketing communications, I found writing was the most enjoyable part of the job.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Here’s a spicy excerpt from Chapter Two:
This woman was beyond beautiful. She was exquisite—no signs of breast implants or a nose job and no tattoos or piercings marred the natural beauty of her face and body. Her creamy skin felt like the finest silk to Devon’s probing hands. He unclasped her bra. His loins tingled at the sight of her full breasts. He caressed her erect nipples. She moaned.
The foreplay had started slowly with exploratory kisses and caresses. Now he could barely wait to enter her. Devon removed the last fragments of clothing from their bodies. The smell of her perfume, the feel of her body, and the sensation of her soft hands on his buttocks almost made him explode prematurely.
Being inside this woman was like nothing he had experienced before. Devon lost all sense of physical boundaries. The sensual pleasure of joining with Mathilde seemed to fill every cell in his body. He was only vaguely aware of moving inside her. Their rising passion consumed him. She kept repeating something in French. His back arched. He climaxed. The pleasure was too intense for his senses to bear. He lost consciousness.
He woke up next to her on the bed. She stroked his hair with one hand, propping up her head on one elbow.
Feeling embarrassed, Devon shook his head, unable to comprehend the reason for his lapse of consciousness.
“I’m sorry if I scared you. It’s the first time I’ve ever passed out during sex.”
“You didn’t scare me, ma chère. It only confirms what I was afraid of.”
“If we go on having sex, it will kill you.”
He laughed nervously. Had the sex been good enough to cause a blackout?
“I can think of worse ways to die,” he said, covering up for his discomfort.
She kept looking at him studiously.
“You kept whispering something to me in French. It sounded like: ‘Vous êtez celui que j’ai choisi.’ I think that means: ‘You are the one I chose’”
A whisper of red colored her cheeks.
“Your French is better than you admit.”
“I don’t understand. We’ve just met, Mathilde.”
“Don’t worry. It’s just a game I play with myself. You remind me of someone I once knew: a handsome, high-minded young man with a sensitive heart.”
“I’m flattered, but it sounds a little more like a fixation than an innocent game to me.”
“Please don’t play the amateur psychologist.”
She pushed him off the bed with a movement almost too fast to see. One second he lay facing her. The next thing he knew, he lay on his back on the floor. Her sudden display of uncanny strength and speed frightened him. Clambering to a sitting position, he began to collect his clothes from the bed.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to alarm you. Are you injured?”
“I’m still in one piece.”
“I actually do study martial arts, in answer to your earlier question. Sometimes I forget my own strength. Let me help you with your things. Are you sure I haven’t hurt you?”
He had the impression she was lying.
“I’m fine. I just think it might be better to leave now. Who knows what could happen if you toss and turn in your sleep?”
“I apologize for leading you on,” Mathilde said. “I only intended to meet you in the bar and talk with you. I thought of it as a minor indulgence, to take my mind off things for a while. I let my curiosity about you cloud my judgment. Then, meeting you face to face, you had much more of an effect on me than I anticipated. I lost control of myself.”
“Is that something that happens often?”
“No,” she answered curtly. “I’m not that shallow.”
Devon’s thoughts and emotions spun like pinwheels. Part of him wanted to bolt out the door and finish dressing in the hallway. Another part, the accountant, needed explanations; wanted to analyze and quantify Mathilde de Roche. In the end, his own curiosity coupled with her charisma kept him rooted by the bedside.
“I’ve studied martial arts myself. I’ve never seen anyone move as quickly as you just did.”
She continued to regard him with a serious expression for a full minute before responding.
“You should leave now, Devon. I won’t be offended.”
Here’s an interview that will appear on my new blog tour later this week. I figured you guys couldn’t wait so I’m posting it here. Sales of Scarlet Ambrosia are so strong that we are actually running out of digital copies. If you’ve been thinking about buying the book, I’d do it now. You don’t want to get trampled in the Christmas rush. If you’d like a paperback copy, let me know and I’ll put you on the waiting list for the second printing. (We never did a first printing.)
Good question. Sometimes I wonder. I was born in North Carolina, grew up in New Jersey, and I’ve lived in Florida for most of my adult life.
Tell us your latest news?
I just finished an outline for a science fiction novel that I feel fits together well and is believable if I can execute it properly. It’s a great feeling to finish a rough draft and have it come out better than expected. The bad news is I’ll have to do an ungodly amount of research.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing short stories in high school. I thought I was a genius destined to have a world-wide audience. That hasn’t worked out exactly the way I expected.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It happened about five years into my career when I started to work in marketing. I noticed that writing was the only thing I liked about working. I quit my day job about ten years ago and I still like to write, but not when it becomes a job. I admire people who like to work.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I always dreamed of becoming a successful creative writer. Going from short stories and copy writing to long fiction (novels) seemed like trying to jump the Grand Canyon on Schwinn racing bike. Some daredevils can do it but I’ve never been one. So I took an intermediate step and wrote a screenplay with two characters in mind that I thought would be fun to play with. It was fun. I wrote two more screenplays before summoning the guts to write a novel. I turned the original screenplay into my first novel, “Three Days to Darkness.”
Do you have a specific writing style?
I try not to write with a style. I just write the way I write and hope that someone else will find it interesting and entertaining.
How did you come up with the title?
It just came to me and it really works (I think).
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A year after writing Scarlet Ambrosia, I see the story through a different pair of eyes. At the core of the novel is a young man’s struggle with the forces of good and evil within himself and the world around him. The vampire archetype, I now realize, is a metaphor for my heart’s dream to realize its divine nature. The supernatural powers and ramped up energy level Devon acquires as a vampire make him half-human and half-god, something like the mythological Greek gods. He can choose to use his new powers for good or evil purposes.
I believe everyone has the potential to become a divinely human being. I’ve been a spiritual seeker for most of my adult life. Awakening isn’t easy, but I’ve found it’s worth the effort. What happens for Devon is happening for me in a much subtler way without the super-human powers, but happily, minus the need to drink human blood.
How much of the book is realistic?
I think we have to be careful with the word “realistic” when we’re talking about a novel with paranormal romance thriller tendencies. I always try to create fictional worlds that work logically if the reader accepts the genre conventions. I build my characters with relatable motives, desires, and character traits. Then the story has to evolve believably and the characters have to behave consistently with their basic traits as they grow and eventually make decisions and act in ways that surprise us, but at the same time, we can see where those actions and decisions came from. I hope this is not too much information.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, had a powerful effect on me when I first read it in my late teens. I’ve recently read a series of book on spiritual awakening by Saniel Bonder that have inspired me to open up to a higher purpose.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’d say Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) although I don’t write in his style. His remarkable imagination and sense of humor inspire me.
What book are you reading now?
I’ve just discovered a fine new thriller writer by the name of Jeff Abbott. His books are hard to put down and very good for the long plane rides.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m going to read a new novel by Andy Weir titled “The Martian.”
What are your current projects?
I’m working on an outline for a sequel to Scarlet Ambrosia and I’m exploring a new idea for a science fiction novel as I mentioned above.
What would you like my readers to know?
The book trailer for Scarlet Ambrosia is fun and interesting.
Do you really need four blades on your razor? I might be talking mostly to guys here, but maybe you gals have the same problem.
I’ve been shaving with a two-bladed Gillette Sensor Razor for about ten years. (I think it’s been ten years but time starts to warp after age sixty). I’m sure the Gillette Razor Blade Company hates me, and in fact, I think lately they’ve been doing something shady to move me up to a more expensive blade.
The Sensor blades I bought recently aren’t as good as the ones I used to buy. They don’t last more than a few days. I think blades that cost $1.80 each should last for a week. The “old” ones did. The new ones cut my face if I’m not careful. And they’re even a different color. I think Gillette has outsourced the Sensor blades to a manufacturer they very carefully researched to find the cheapest alternative with a reputation for making slightly inferior blades.
I say “slightly” because Gillette doesn’t want a consumer rebellion on their hands. They just want to irritate guys (and maybe gals) like me enough to move up to the four-blade turbo charged product that sells for about thirty-two bucks and change for a box of ten. That’s something like three bucks and change per blade. Are you getting my message?
I’m not going to be shamed or cajoled into buying more expensive blades. I’m going to fight this. My first response to this situation has been to buy a standard razor, the old-fashioned kind your Mom or Dad used. I get a closer shave, but I’ll admit it’s a little scary. I have to be really careful. It’s a lot easier and safer to use a modern plastic razor. And I have to use my Sensor razor to get the spot right under my nose. So now I’m using two razors.
The blades that come with my new old-fashioned razor cost seventy-seven cents each. That’s a big savings over the new improved technologically advanced models. But the problem is that now I have to use two razors. I clearly can’t go on using two razors.
Conclusions: I’ll have to go on using some version of the lower priced “modern” blade. I’m not going to fall for the lure of the four-blade model because I’m sure this “advanced” technology exists solely to satisfy the thirst for increased corporate profits.
I hope all of this helps.
I enjoy reading words of inspiration as much as you probably do. I believe in the power of positive thinking. I love practicing the art of creative visualization. (My man Jordan Spieth, last week’s winner of the US Open Golf Championship, is the ultimate practitioner of creative visualization.)
Having said this, I have to say something more. You probably guessed I’d go on for a bit in this week’s blog. It takes more than a stranger’s words to affect lasting, positive change and success in any endeavor. It takes loving support from caring mentors. The ideal personification of this support comes from a set of caring, loving parents. Let’s take Jordan Spieth again as an example. He seems to have an ideal relationship with his loving, caring, teaching parents plus a monumental talent that have helped him to win two major golf titles in his young and promising career.
Jason Day, a young professional golfer from Australia, battled bravely through dizziness and nausea caused by vertigo to finish high in the US Open final standings. Jason, unlike his contemporary Spieth, did not have a strong connection with his parents while growing up. He had a troubled youth before meeting Colin Swatton at Kooralbyn, a golf-centric boarding school in south-east Queensland. Jason’s mother had to borrow money to send her son to Kooralbyn in a desperate attempt to do something about his delinquent behavior after his father died of stomach cancer when Jason was 12.
Colin Swatton was a golf instructor at Kooralbyn when he first met the head-strong, rebellious Day. Swatton’s non-confrontational style won Jason over. When Swatton moved on to teach at Hills International College, Day followed him. From there, Swatton became Day’s golf coach, mentor, close friend and full-time professional caddie. Jason Day is now one of the top-ranked golfers in the world with a family of his own and the admiration and affection of his peers.
After I’ve read a self-help book the inspiration and advice usually fade within forty-eight hours. Formulaic self-help exercises quickly become dry practices that yield little or lasting benefits. I picked up a few Wayne Dyer books a year ago and two things became immediately clear: (1) Wayne has a lot of nice things to say and (2) I could not practice or live what Dyer says if I tried for a million years.
So what does it take to move forward, achieve, and grow? To amplify what I said earlier, it takes a special personal relationship. It is a relationship that always accepts and honors who you are and where you are. It can be a parental, mentoring, teaching, romantic, or friend to friend relationship. In the case of the first three, the relationship begins with the child, mentee, or student receiving more at first. I’ve learned that over time the best of these relationships blossom into mutuality where both parties reap significant rewards. There’s an energy and information exchange in these relationships; call it love, call it caring and concern, call it chemistry. Whatever it is, it’s a radiant, magic elixir. It produces extraordinary human beings; some famous and others who live and work quietly outside of the limelight.