Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 and '13: The Obligatory Looking Back and Moving Forward

My 2012 in Review and My 2013 Crystal Ball

Yes, A self-indulgent review of the last Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes, Five hundred twenty-five thousand Moments so dear.

With a preview into what the next 525,600 minutes of 2013 may hold.  All with backlinks to the original blog posts.
2012 Running in Review

The Martian half marathon as a training run – A pretty unmemorable course, but I remember it by running backwards for a 1/2 mile on the course. Yes, I took a step to the side of the course, and ran opposite the course traffic to meet up with a blogger buddy (who I had planned to meet prerace but never did since I was late.)

The Ann Arbor marathonremember it by hills, and by the visions I had of yesteryear, when I stumbled drunk through the city, night after miserable night, and here I was running a marathon through the same streets, the only stumbles coming from the blissful haze of utter fatigue dragging at my legs.

The  Chicago RnR half marathon – remember it by the crazy hot weather, and pushing out a 1:38 but wondering why a pretty slow time for me historically would seem so hard (it was just a month after the full marathon).  Age is wasted on the old.

The New York City Marathon – I remember it by:
2. where I was when I heard it was canceled. One of those memory burns
3. The 'run-anyway' marathon in Central Park on Sunday.
4. A marathon where societal values and politics and running collided in a way like none other that I know of.  When Roberta Gibb was the first woman who ran Boston Marathon as a bandit and then later when Kathrine Switzer  was pulled from the course was the last time marathoning smashed into such real world questions.

My 2013 Running Plans:

Bayshore Marathon – May 25th
After some deliberation, I chose a marathon I ‘ve always wanted to run rather than just a place to run a convenient marathon.

November 6th (or something like that)
Where I finally heal that wound that got gauged into my heart the day I landed back in Detroit, mission unaccomplished. I told my youngest daughter I was going to New York to win her a medal, and don’t think she has forgotten. And I think I left my toothbrush at the hotel I stayed at, so see, I have to go back..

Add a couple half marathons. CF in April, The Hungry Duck in July, or the Brooksie.

I also plan to do more speedwork, and may tinker with a 4 week taper. After every marathon I run, I take much time off and rest days, and then there’s this spark that hits me, about a month after the marathon, where I think “damn, I feel like I could run a better marathon today”?  So, isn’t that basically a one month taper?

2012 Writing in Review
 The Jade Rabbit and STRAY both did well on Amazon. Both novels are being read, downloaded, applauded and laughed at, lauded and ridiculed, poked and prodded.

In February of 2012, STRAY made it to the second round of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest- I remember it by where I was when I found out: I was literally walking from my hotel at the Howard Johnson’s crossing the street to go to Disney Land in California.  The Jade Rabbit has been reviewed on a dozen or more running and adoption blogs.
Zombie Dash – Yes, I also have a short story available on Amazon for 99 cents, but pssttt ~ you can read the first draft of the story free on this blog post here: But, .. don’t’ tell anybody, since Amazon doesn't allow the works to be both priced on Amazon but presented as free elsewhere,

2013: Works In Progress:
I started writing “Placebo”, a story about a new painkiller similar to an upcoming drug called “Zohydro ER’ which is going to make a big pharmaceutical company millions, and tear up many families with new addicts losing their lives.
This story got interrupted when I took a run in San Diego. I was on vacation and took a predawn run in the darkness along a semi-hidden trail that was littered with the sleeping bodies of homeless men when I had a vision for a  story which has since took over, and it is cruising along. This novel is known as: “I don’t have a title just yet

That’s right. Almost finished the first draft, but no name just yet. In the hospital, when your baby isn’t named, they just call it ‘babyboy or babygirl’ and then add your last name. So, we’ll call this ‘babyfreak matthews’

If you read the excerpt that was up on this blog for a few days entitled “In The Tunnels” then you caught a glimpse.  Of course there’s a runner, but it's not about running, but it is about endurance and the things we do for love.

Most memorable 2012 Reads: (since reading and writing are intertwined in my book)

Life of Pi, (I still love you, even if your movie version was just so so).  I'm dividing the world into those who loved LIfe of PI and those who did not, and there seems to be no in between.

Running Ransom Road: Confronting The Past, One Marathon At A Time, poetic non-fiction about running and addiction that struck some very personal notes.

Game of Thrones GOT #2. I don’t bother to remember their names, just the book number. GOT #3 is being read soon.

And finally, "Out And Back" one of the most surreal book reading moments of my life, I chose to start reading the novel on the plane flying to my brother who was in the hospital, on life support which was to soon be ended, and the novel was about a woman dealing with the death of her mother, who was also taken off of life support. I did not know this at a time. Certainly an example of coincidence just being God's way of remaining anonymous. Yes, this was the most significat event of 2012.

And still Chasing The Dragon:
In June of 2012 I celebrated 20 years of being sober.  Who would have known that staying sober was going to be such a strange buzz.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

26.2 Tips To Run A Running Blog

26.2 Tips To Run A Running Blog

Don't let the title fool you. The Truth is, I don't have a clue. In fact, I may be the last person who should be writing this article. But I have been inspired by a new book on Amazon about 'how to marathon' by a runner who has only run one marathon, so certainly I can write a post on how to blog. Right? 

In fact, the only reason I do anything at all is to give myself some street credibility to then give advice about it.  (I’ve already pre-written my advice for choosing a Tattoo, but don’t plan to be inked for many years.)

So, my wonderful, incredible, indispensable list of : “26.2 Tips To Run A Running Blog:”

1.  Make a lot of posts with a lot lists. Yes, you need lists. And they need to be numbered.  Why? I’m not sure, but maybe because:

2.  It looks more like you know what you are talking about, as if by narrowing it down to an exact number, you’ve got secret insight backed up by scientific proof.

3. It makes it easier on the readers' eyes and brain if you have categorized their thoughts for them.

4. All great things have lists: The 12 steps, the 10 commandments, the 4 noble truths, the 3 wise man, the 2 tickets to paradise, and One ring to rule them all.

5. After making your list, if the number just happens (by mistake or by chance or some kind of kabballah-like mysticism) to match up with a number that relates to your topic, you've become infinitely more cooler, smarter, and wiser. 26.2 reasons to do something in a blog about marathoning, for example.

6. Decide if your workouts are important or interesting enough to post. Sure you have to and should post them.  But do people want to know how many miles you run, how much speedwork you do, where you chaff on your body? My thoughts are that those who are on either end of the bell curve are the most interesting, where as those in the mass of the crowd at the middle are less so.  If it's your first marathon, if you've had an incredible challenge to overcome, or if you are a sub-3 hour  marathoner, for example, I am more intrigued in your day to day workouts.

7.   Have a take, an angle, a philosophy of running and life. Write from your gut.  What makes you unique? This theme may take a few months to take shape and may change course from time to time.  We all have many gifts, and in the bloggersphere, there are many rooms. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 

8. Your place is your uniqueness.  Find it and sharpen it.

9. Some  examples:
 *Are you a Photojournalist with an eye for detail who has run pretty much every race in Michigan?
 Detroit Runner

* Do you have12 kids and training to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials? 

*Are you  a running guru artist with endless bits of wisdom so deep that half your runs are done in private, lest your secrets get into the wrong hands?   
Arty RunnerChick

*Does your fan base want you to update your blog which each meal, and will respond with 167 comments when you discuss, for example, your experiences with the costco sample-cart ladies?
The Hungry Runner Girl

10. Decide how personal you want to get and how much you want to self-disclose. This is a tough one.  But pick some boundaries, and then once in a while break them.

11.   Put up photos.  But how many, of what, and with family? See 10 above.

12.  Stick a knife in your heart and spill it all right on the page, or at least tickle your funny bone until you pee your pants.

13. Post only what you want to write sometimes, post things other folks may even want to read sometimes, but you'll probably be happiest when the two combine.

14. Don’t just write your next post, write when ideas come to you. Blog and blab away whenever the urge strikes, and then 'Save to Draft.' You don’t’ have to post them all. I have wrote, rewrote, and edited 2 posts on the Sandy Hook tragedy. One of these is a click away from being posted, but then I thought twice. While it was very therapeutic to write, it's too dark and should stay in the shadows.

15.  Have some ‘anchor' posts – these are posts that are universal, and speak to the specific thematics of your blog and your overall mission statement.  (see number 7 above). Mine would be posts that discuss the role of running, marathoning, to addiction, for example.

16. Generic posts, The race reports, the workouts, perhaps the meat of your blog. 

17.  Irreverent posts to break up the monotony. For example; ‘Why do we have a pinky toe anyways? And is it true lobbing this toe off increases your 10k time?'

18.  Timely posts– seasonal runs, holiday issues, the hot runner issue of the moment. 

19.  The "I'm more than a runner" posts. Prove you have a life outside of running and post outside of your running world as well, although, if you are like me, when training is at its highest, running bleeds over into everything.

20.  Search Terms and Labels on each posts. Choose wisely..  We all know that the reason we write blogs is, besides exaggerating our own importance and staying current in this age of narcissism, is to read the google searchs that bring readers to our blog. I get a lot of Darryl Dixons, zombies, frosty the snowmen,  all kinds of drug stuff, and other unmentionables.

21. Prepare to be humbled. Other bloggers are faster than you, run more miles than you, and have more followers. Their widgets are cooler. The look better in running gear.  They write with more wit and in general are picked way ahead of you on the soccer team at recess. That's okay.  The race is long, and in the end, you need to blog only (mostly) for yourself. Plus if you have the guts to line up for a race, you can handle the blogging world.

22. Don’t blog while you run, at least not too much, because then it becomes the  tail wagging the dog.  Sure, ideas will come forth as you run, but the danger is you perseverate over what to blog while you are running and lose the experience. Like going somewhere and taking so many pictures you never really experience ‘being there.’

23. If you have a habit and interest in writing novels, be aware that, once you start blogging, they will gather e-dust in their e-spot in your ‘my documents’ folder, never to be opened and edited again. Speaking of that, say goodbye to your kids, leave water out for the cat, and wait for the kitty litter to smell so nasty that you are about to puke, since, by starting your blog, you are opening up a time vacuum which will suck at all things in your life. You may no longer bathe, your teeth may decay, and your arse will be permanently planted in your chair.

24. Pick a pattern of updates and try to remain consistent. As a blog follower, this is helpful. Even if it's only once a week, if I love the blog, I like to know if I should expect one every week, every two days, every full moon. Generally speaking, not exact.

25. Tweet away, post on linkedin, dailymile, and read others folks blogs and comment.

26. Don’t start on Blogger, like I did, because it kind of sucks, wordpress seems to be a better way to go. Why? I have no idea, but I’ve seen plenty of folks transfer from blogger to wordpress, but not the other way around, so this says something. But if you do start on Blogger, make sure you are too lazy to transfer, so that I don’t feel pressure to do so as well.

26.2. Wish your readers Happy Holidays!  Merry Christmas! be grateful for everyone who clicks, and remember the point is just another mode of self-expression, an extension of your run and yourself, so take some risks and let it ride.

The Jade Rabbit on Amazon

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2013 New York City Marathon: Bruce Willis Goes Back For His Watch

So, the New York Road Runners came up with their decision of how to handle the canceled 2012 New York City Marathon, and from what I have heard it certainly seems a fair one.  In the big picture, if they had only decided to cancel the marathon early, rather than have the race be in limbo, call it on, and then call it off, they could have come off looking like a hero.  As it is, I'm sure there were way more complications than an average Joe like me realizes.

Here is a portion of the email we all received:

All 2012 Marathoners may choose one of the following three options:
Option #1 - Refund. While NYRR has always had a no-refund policy for the Marathon, given these extraordinary circumstances, we are offering runners who were entered in the 2012 Marathon, and were unable to run due to the cancellation¹, the opportunity to obtain a full refund of their 2012 Marathon entry fee (excluding the $11 processing fee); OR
Option #2 – Guaranteed entry to the ING New York City Marathon for 2013, 2014, or 2015. Entrants in the 2012 Marathon who choose this option will be granted guaranteed entry to the Marathon for the year they choose. Runners will be required to pay all processing and entry fees at the time of application (in the given year), with fees maintained at the same rate as those paid in 2012; OR
Option #3 – Guaranteed entry to the NYC Half 2013. Entrants in the 2012 Marathon who choose this option will be granted guaranteed entry to the NYC Half 2013, to be run on March 17, 2013. Runners will be required to pay all processing and entry fees at the time of application. Availability will be limited.
¹ Applies to runners entered in the 2012 Marathon who had not cancelled prior to October 24, 2012.

So, what am I going to do?  Well, option #1 is out.  The $250 was a tiny portion of the money spent to go to New York.. Option #3 makes no sense to me either.  And so then it's #2 and I decide which year to run.

Ever since I landed in Detroit Metro airport in November, mission not accomplished, no finishers medal to speak of, and an undeserved Orange runners shirt in my carry-on bag, I've felt a little off kilter. There is a piece of me still dangling, a little hole in me that hadn't fully healed.  It's still unfinished business, lingering out there. A one shoe drop.  Like Bruce Willis going back for his Watch in Pulp Fiction, I need to return.  Go ahead, bring out the Gimp, I got this.

Or in a psychedlic manner, by running in 2013, I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in that stops my mind from wandering.

It's a version of Gestalt Therapy, Gestalt being  a German word meaning "the whole" or as a verb, "to make whole or complete. Gestalt therapy can help clients to bring to completion areas of their life that feel like unfinished business."

Someone told me once that when you have song lyrics stuck in your head, that the best way to make it stop is to sing the song all the way through to its conclusion. Only then would you be able to stop hearing the same refrain over and over and over  ("Come on Eileen" "99 luft Balloons" for example) 

So, the only way to get the 2012 NYCM out of my head is to run the course all the way through, meaning the full 'gestalt' will now happen as soon as possible: November 2013. '

(Shortly after writing this, the Wall Street Journal interviewed me for an article. Check it out here: )

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What It's Like To Be Sober And Running Over The Holidays

You’re starving, your stomach is empty, growling like a hungry tiger, and you just finished a 15 mile run. You haven’t eaten a thing in hours, and your house is full of the scents of a pot roast, pizza loaded with toppings, or barbecued ribs melting off the bone.  Your mouth waters and you sniff the aroma deep into your lungs hoping it fills up your stomach. It doesn’t. You’re hungrier than ever.

 Got that?  Well, that’s what it’s like to be an alcoholic around Christmas time, except the air is full of vodka and beer and wine and rum, and there’s little devils on your shoulder in the form of family drama and stress and finances and black Friday ads and tangled Christmas tree lights, all whispering in your ear asking you to partake in some holiday cheer.   Just look around. You can’t throw an olive in the air without it landing in the martini of a holiday reveler.

Trying to navigate through the holidays being newly sober is tap dancing through a minefield. It’s begging for trouble.  It’s the Lion laying down with the Lamb, it's, it's, it's..…. ‘gulp.’

When I first got sober, the whole idea of staying sober for even one day was anathema to my existence. It was not in my reality.  It was like asking a fish to fly or an eagle to swim.  To live without drinking wasn’t going to happen. I’d rather not live, in fact. But the drinking didn’t kill me quickly, only made my insides bleed out ever so slowly, so something sparked and I started to believe in miracles and that I wasn’t born to die this way.

After much B.S and false starts, I started a genuine effort to live with and accept the fact I was an alcoholic and could never drink again.  Some of my earliest concerns were: Whaddya mean I can’t drink on my wedding day? Whaddya mean I can’t drink watching a hockey game?  And..

Whaddya mean I Can’t drink on New Years Eve?

 Yes, holiday cheers means cheers. Not only on Christmas day itself, but all the parties, all the out of town friends who are back in town, all the bars and uncomfortable situations that came with squeezing family together closer than usual.  Family may be the main source of Joy during the holidays, but it is also the main source of stress and drama and all that baggage you’ve been dragging around for years. Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight a long time.

 All of that and facing it stone cold sober without social lubricant.

That is Nucking Finsane. That’s getting a wisdom tooth out without anesthesia, and that’s just not fair.

Of course, once you focus on “one day at at a time,” the miracles happen down the road and you get to the point where ‘not drinking’ come as natural as drinking used to, there’s not enough time in the day to do all that you want to do, but this takes a while to evolve.

Especially with Christmas. Christmas was drinking for me. They were equivalent. The joy of Christmas was the joy of drinking. They were one in the same. Whatever spirits you could suck out of a bottle was what Santa brought you, and the birth of Christ and possibility of salvation was a cold case of bud-lite and a full evening ahead.

New Years Eve was the time to not only drink but contact the local dopeman and order a bevy of supplies, since sick and suffering folks like me could blend in a little more with the weekend warrior addicts and alcoholics.

So, if just being awake is a trigger to drink, then being awake and conscious during the holidays is aiming the trigger right smack up into your open mouth.

When alcoholics watch others drink in a manageable way, it simply does not make sense to us.  “How the hell do they do that? Put a drink down before it is finished? finish a drink and not keep drinking? walk away from a table with a beer half empty?”  It doesn’t make sense and never will. Imagine watching someone just suddenly walking up the side of the wall and then onto the ceiling. That’s what it’s like for me to see someone walk away from a half full drink.  

But today instead of having envy, I am grateful. Grateful for where my recovery has taken me, that my fulfillment doesn’t’ come from the bottle, and I don’t need to drink just to tolerate my own pathetic self, and I’ve become grateful that I can handle cravings easy as blinking an eyelash. Yes, they are still there, but in a sense, it is helpful to still have them. Just reminds me that I’m still an Alcoholic and can’t drink, because if I do, I’m not stopping. Cravings I’ve come to take as second nature, but they are immediately squashed and sent back to the hell from whence they came.

But this confidence wasn’t always there, and the first holidays of my sobriety I decided to ‘just get by.’  I just figured if I woke up on January 1st and I had stayed sober this was a success.

But just ‘getting by’ isn’t staying sober.  White knuckling leads to ‘regretting’ that you can’t drink. Sitting on your hands and watching others drink, and letting yourselves ‘envy’ them is an invitation to end up with a pile of empties and a pile of remorse. And if you are just enduring then you aren’t really learning how to enjoy life sober, how to deal with life on lives terms, and how to grow to the point where you just don’t need to drink.

Having an escape route from a holiday event is so important.  Not just in case you feel you might drink, but if you are not having a good time, and are ‘resentful’ that you can’t drink, you’re in a bad spot. Get the fuck out of there, bail, leave, make a scene or slip out quietly. They will miss you less than you realize, but they will notice you more than you feared after you relapse, and the misery will come back with extra vengeance.  Expectations for holiday fun that go unrealized can cause huge resentments as well.

In other words, wear a parachute to Christmas parties so you can jump, and expect nothing and you won’t be let down.

I used to rely much more heavily on AA to get through the holidays. I have left a thanksgiving party early to go to an AA meeting, I have gone to a Christmas ‘alcathon’ which, if you are not a friend of Bill W., or an enemy of his (since they know just as well) these are meetings that occur around the clock, every 2 hours during the holiday season.

As time went on, and as my natural highs grew ~ and by natural I include spiritual highs ~ the idea of drinking left me. It didn’t’ happen the first Christmas, didn’t happen the second, but by the third I could look forward to each event with confidence and got to experience some real joy of the holiday season.

These days I often rely on my runs for my highs. There is something special about a holiday run. I feel lighter, the world feels more alive, the streets are a bit more clear, and my legs feel more energetic, fresh, and crisp.  A Christmas Eve or Christmas morning run is the highlight of my season. I run through the streets like George Bailey screaming ‘Merry Christmas’ to old man Potter.

And as a symbolic gesture, I like to get up early on January 1st, probably only an hour or two after the time I used to go to sleep/pass out, and put in double digit miles before the new year is ten hours old.

Christmas memories are often filled with runs, and one Christmas day trail run remains imprinted in memory. Snow was coming down in big, fluffy flakes, floating ever so slow but thick, making everything a perfect powder to run through. I ran through the trails, the green trees full of fluffy white, visibility hampered by huge cottony flakes, and came home with frozen red and smiling cheeks. Christmas day churches don’t’ always have pews and parking lots.

This year, I plan to run with just as much fervor. Grateful that after years of drinking and drugging and chasing a dragon who I nearly caught, but if I had, it would have killed me, but now I’m chasing a whole new high, full of joys and love and sugar and spice and everything nice, and I do catch it just enough to know that’ I’m loving life.

I did not forget how to run after not doing so for many years after a pretty successful track experience in high school.  And I have not forgotten how to drink despite not doing so for the last 20 years. The urge to do so still exists in my gut, I still feel the tug of a shot of liquor in my throat, and I can’t watch somebody do drugs in a move scene without feeling an electric shot in my spine.  But I’ve come to learn how to enjoy life without it, thrive without it, and the holiday season just magnifies how the natural high of running helps me to get the most joy out of life all year long.

The Jade Rabbit on Amazon


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Eyes and Ears of this Institution

One of the neat things about being a runner, is you get to know your neighborhood inside and out and recognize all the runners who use the sidewalks and streets. I can recognize the clothing, the stride, gait, and pace of pretty much every runner in the area.

Even if we haven't met or spoken, I know who they are, and have probably done some back story in my head about their lives and I can conjure up what kind of day they have had based on how they are running.  Because I always take notice of runners.

Even after a 20 miler, when my muscles ache and tendons are torn, my eyes perk up when I see a runner, and I always envy them. No matter the weather or time of day. And just watching for a brief instant lets me share a bit of their experience.

And, God forbid, when there's a stranger in the area, a runner I don't recognize, a gait that isn't immediately recognizable, a running pace that doesn't seem to match the body form.

"Who is that?  An intruder runner?  A stranger, on my turf?  Should I sound the alarm? is it safe?  What far away land have they come from? Are they enemy or are they friend?"

Yes,  if you run by my house my nose will detect your scent, I'll watch you like a junkyard dog, my spidey sense will tingle, and I'll be thinking,  "Wait, why don't I know you?  You are a bit of a stranger here?  Did you just move into this neighborhood, did you run farther than you thought, or is this perhaps your first run ever?"

"You are running through my neighborhood. I don't know you and I should. I should."

And I have been the intruder as well and veered into foreign territory, running into neighborhoods that are far away from my typical beaten bath, gone done the road I've traveled less with miles to run before I sleep (yes, that's a poem mash) and felt eyes on me. Runners peered out of window shades, gathered their weapons, all wondering "who is this strange runner? we are runners and know not of him and we should..."

Knowing your neighborhood is especially noticeable this time of the year, when I can tell right away who has changed their Christmas light decorations after any nighttime run.

When there is Snow in the forecast, I know who is most likely to shovel their driveway, who uses too much salt so that it hurts all the doggy paws, and who never shovels.

I can tell you when someone gets a new TV, which houses will be watching the Detroit Tiger's game during a summer night, and who's TV is big enough that I will be able to check out the score from the street.

Give me a number of miles from 1 to 23 and I can list off a series of routes that will start at my door, take you through either a hilly or a flat route, provide you with parks with portapotties, woods with trees, gas stations with 99 cent waters, and you'll be delivered back to my front door: Epic run complete.  

Like most runners, I've learned mileage distances from random landmarks;  Bellacino's pizza to Belle tire, from the fire hydrant to the closed down dollar store, and of course from my driveway to the high school track. I've come to learn which stretches of sidewalks slant and to which side, where I can find the softer surfaces, and have learned every single dangerous potentially foot tripping crack.

And I really Don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows, I have just learned which buildings have flags on them that  allow me to gauge the direction and speed of the wind by the flapping of the stars and stripes.

I know at exactly what points I"m going to have to resist the floating aroma of fat-laced slider cheeseburger stands, burger kings,  Chicken Kings and Mcdonalds.

The list can go on and on.

It may sound kind of creepy, but, like Carl the Janitor from The Breakfast Club:


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Running Makes Me Sweat, Writing Makes Me Bleed ~Freebies and Newbies

As 2012 draws to a close, so is the first draft of my third novel.  I can tell you that the excitement and anticipation of finishing a novel is quite similar to that of finishing a marathon, except with writing your blood is drawn and dripping down your face rather than just sweat.

Of course, finishing the first draft is similar to getting to mile 20 of a marathon, you are really only halfway there. Second, third, and fourth drafts are needed, editing and proofreading and beta-reading and sacrificing goats in ancient rituals are then required.

My third installment is a piece of dark fiction, much shorter, succinct, with a lovely dash and sprinkling of the bizarre. Yes, it features a runner, and a run, but I don't think you could say it was about running. Although it is about endurance and relationships and the things we do for love.

So, this week is the last chance to pick up STRAY and The Jade Rabbit free for Kindle as part of Amazon Prime's promotional offer. After this, they will remain priced as usual into eternity.  Even if you don't have a kindle, you can read them on your phone in the waiting room at the dentist or on your computer as an excuse not to work, all free as your next heartbeat.

So click away on Amazon, like them on your Facebook pages, tweet it to your tweeps, and shout it from the rooftops. Here are the links and a blurb about both of the novels.

Stray traces the harrowing paths of addicts at the West Oaks treatment center, the stray pets at the next door animal shelter, and the caregivers who serve them both.

After an alcohol-induced seizure during his father's funeral, Thomas Cleaves remains sober and becomes a therapist to help others just like him recover from their addiction. After trying to start a family, his wife has a miscarriage on the same day a client of his dies from an overdose, and he fears that the addicts he treats must have infected her womb.

When his wife becomes pregnant again, and the sickness and despair of his clients worsen, Tom becomes terrified and is in desperate need of a client to give him some hope.

James White is one such client. James is a newly orphaned alcoholic dead bent on drinking again until he finds a job at the Argos animal shelter. It is here that he meets the mystical Rachel who rescues strays, cleans cages, but has the unfortunate duty of putting some to sleep by lethal injection. Can James find a reason to live by helping her rescue the throw-away pets of the city?

The lives of Tom and James, along with some incredibly vivid characters from the streets of Detroit, are intricately woven together, creating a novel that has received excellent reviews and is certain to be remembered. A gritty novel with an edge yet surprisingly gentle and sweet, Stray illustrates the universal longing in all of us as we look for a safe place that feels like home.

A female infant is abandoned by her birth-mother in a small Chinese village and spends her first ten months in an orphanage. She is adopted and raised in the United States where she becomes a social worker in order to help children in a desolate Detroit neighborhood.

Her nickname is The Jade Rabbit and this is her story.

As director of a shelter for runaway and neglected youth, Janice Zhu Woodward gets pulled into the lives of the lost children of the Detroit streets. Fueled by angry parents, stories of ghosts who haunt the shelter's basement, and her own history of being left by a birth-mother who may have long forgotten her, Janice emulates her adoptive mother and becomes an avid, nearly obsessed marathoner. Training injuries, failed goals, and unexpected trauma test her will and take her near her breaking point. When a mysterious girl with dreadlocks is abandoned at the shelter's front door, Janice becomes her surrogate mother and risks everything to save her. Only a miraculous, unforgettable run through the streets of Detroit can save them both.

**Note - If you are a blogger, and would like a paperback copy to review on your blog, please contact me.**

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Ox and Lamb Kept Time ~ A 'Little Drummer Boy' Inspired Gift List For Runners

I keep coming across lists of Christmas gift ideas for runners. Even though one of the most glorious things about running is you can run free of charge, that doesn’t mean I don’t love my gear and gadgets.  I've spent $1,843.44 in my head buying so many of the items I have seen on Holiday suggestion guides for runners. But, this hasn’t translated into my credit card. 

Instead, I’m putting forth my own list, free as your next heartbeat.

Yep, I’m opening up a can of “Little Drummer Boy” on your runner’s butt.

"I have no gifts to bring" pa rum pa pum pum.

Here’s a list of Christmas gifts that are simple as playing your drum for baby Jesus, fully free of charge, yet Fit to Give a King. (Pa-Rum-Pa-Pum-Pum)

The Gift of the Wave
Wave to other runners. Wave.  Especially if they wave to you. Wave back. Either way, I will continue to wave to you as we cross paths out on our runs, but I feel a spiritual wound when my greetings are not returned, and now I have a lot of scars. 

The Gift of Silence
To all the non-running, newly driving teens cruising in your parents car: Stop driving by and yelling in our ears like ‘RAARRRRR!;' and scaring the Hell out of me.  Is that only happening to me?  No, I know it's not just me.  But man is that a hurtful thing to do, which is, of course why it is being done.  More about this predicament here.  

The Gift of Driver Awareness.
It's a serious problem, runners (and bikers)  trying to do their thing in a motorozed world, and injuries and deaths happen way too often.  So please drivers, stop at stop signs and red lights and look closer before you turn.  The biggest offenders are cars turning right who focus on the cars coming  from their left, and after they have cleared, the driver hits the gas and turns right, never giving a glance back to the approaching runner on the sidewalk and ‘Wham’ near accident.  Another offender seems to be those who's heads are buried in a fast food bag driving out of the drive through. A runners gift back to the drivers is wearing all those bright colors, being just as aware as we hope drivers to be, and 'running defensively.'  Pretend they are trying to hit you is my motto.

~Hmmm, this all sounds like some grinching and complaining... and that just doesn’t fit the whole Little Drummer Boy motif.   Here’a more positive list.

The Gift of Volunteering at Races.
I can't believe so many would do so much for so few. Tacky as that sounds.  It's almost like there are aid-station elves out there, who's only mission is to pass out things to runners, and when the race is over, they return to their little holes in the ground where they’re busy making packets of gu for all the good little boy and girls runners.

The Gift of Reading Cool Blog Posts  
I spend a ton of time reading inspiring and unique things runners have written across the blogosphere. Either technical or spiritual or motivational or funny as hell, it's all out there, and there's some days I can't stop reading new posts.  Seems once a week I’m inspired to run different, think different thoughts while I run, modify my idea of training, or get excited about a new race after reading a post.  All free as a drumbeat.

The Gift of Running Mojo
Whoever keeps juicing me up with those free intoxicationg drugs when I run, thank you, thank you kindly. Keep the supply of endorphins coming. My withdrawals would be ugly if this were to stop.  If the local dope-man in Detroit offered drugs like this just as free, he'd be more popular than Santa Claus.

The Gift of the Weather
Whoever is providing the Running Mojo is also keeping the weather unseasonably warm. Of course, as this keeps up and the world warms, my grandkids will live in a more unstable world, but, um, for now, thanks for the mid 50's in mid -December.  Feel free to provide some colder days with big fluffy snowy flakes falling and no winds, or a sunny cold day where the snow sparkles in the sun and my cheeks get numb and turn red as I run.  And let’s not forget some cloudless nights where the full moon reflects a blue sheen off of the untouched snow.

The Gift of Inventing New Ways to Help Us Run Injury Free
That means you, running scientists. I started foam rolling about six months ago, messed with KT tape, but whoever is on the front line of injury prevention for runners the greatest gift you can give us would be to let us always run injury free. (Whaddyaa mean it's up to me to stretch, eat right, take rest days? Just come up with a pill I take and we'll all go home happy.)

The Gift of Sanity and Doing the Next Right Thing, (from the New York Road Runners)
Yes, NYRR  I am still waiting for you to decide how to handle the canceled 2012 New York City Marathon.  I know your insurance agency has naked pictures of you so they are holding you hostage, but a nice present will be guaranteed entry into the 2013 NY marathon, which you still haven't confirmed.
(I’ll run my best for you, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)

The Gift of a Holiday Run
Christmas to me many years ago used to be an extra excuse to drink and try to be merry, but usually being drunk and miserable.  But these days it means running. I plan my holidays around a run, and I am already looking forward to a Christmas Eve and New Years day run. They are of the most memorable runs of the whole year.  It’s as if I am soaking my lungs with the holiday joy in the air and it fills my body with a whole new kind of running magic. Yes, this gift is the greatest, and not to be taken lightly, nor to be taken back.

Then, he smiled at me,  pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.

STRAY on Amazon

The Jade Rabbit on Amazon


Lullabies for Suffering is Now Available on Kindle

Lullabies for Suffering: Tales of Addiction Horror is now available on Kindle!   For Lullabies for Suffering on Amazon: Click Here...