Folks, my ebook, Casita 106 at the Red Pines, is on sale for $.99 for just one more day. Following are the opening paragraphs:

“On the highway just outside of Sedona, home of Arizona’s red rock country, is a retirement community, Shady Acres. Bisected by a road, the other half of the community was split off, and instead of retirees the property was used to attract vacationers as a timeshare. They called it the “Red Pines.” It was a way for the owner to keep a good revenue stream coming in year round. Too bad it was this side which sat upon an old indian burial ground–bulldozed in the name of progress, and profits. 

With stuccoed walls, and large windows, every unit accommodates four comfortably. Well, mostly. A single wide all gussied up is still a single wide no matter how fancy it is outside.

It’s the allure of the environment that draws people there. It’s close enough to town, but far enough away from the tourists clogging the area. It’s like camping in style: all the units have plumbing, hot and cold water, microwave, refrigerator, stove… All the comforts of home in the beautiful pines.

Or so Jack and Veronica Hartman thought on their way up from the Valley of the Sun. As timeshare owners, they had a membership in RCI (the preeminent exchange company in the business), which gave them access to thousands of properties outside their club. Having already used their points on a trip to Park City during ski season, they went looking for an extra vacation to get out of Phoenix’s mind melting heat.

Having waited so late in the year to book this trip, they had to take what was available: the Red Pines Lodge.

They hoped for a vacation to remember.”

Get your copy on Amazon:

Casita 106 at the Red Pines


Greetings, you hoopy froods (Internet cookie if you get the reference)!

Just dropping you a quick line to let you know that my eBook, Casita 106 at the Red Pines is now on sale for just $.99. Don’t hide your kids, or your wife–tell them! (Well, maybe don’t tell your kids–it’s not exactly a bedtime story). Don’t wait, because the sale only lasts one week.

If you were on the fence, wondering if it is, you know, a good story, here’s what the reviewers on Amazon have to say (don’t take my word for it):

4 stars “Seriously spooky!Joseph Sewell

4 stars “This book will leave me with nightmares for weeks.Jamie Kocur

4 stars  “Much as I don’t like horror stories (the nightmare factor for me), I ‘enjoyed’ this.Michelle White

4 stars “Well written scary fun!” —Jim Woods

5 stars “Well-Written and Suspenseful.” —Ricky Anderson

4 stars “WHOA — Didn’t see that ending coming.” —Chris Morris

If you do the math on those reviews, it means the story rates an average of 4.2 out of a possible 5 stars! I’d say that’s pretty good.

What are you waiting for? Get your copy of Casita 106 at the Red Pines today. You’ll be glad you did.

My humblest thanks for your support,


Letter to My Dad

randomlychad  —  July 13, 2015 — 4 Comments


Like the cooler days of spring, Father’s Day, 2015, has come and gone. The dog days of summer, like a stubborn hound refusing a bath, have planted themselves hard upon the ground of my soul. To say the heat is oppressive is akin to labelling Mao a “little communist.” Particularly this time of year, with the monsoon season hanging pregnant in the sky, its waters about to break. It’s this time of year, with Father’s Day (and my birthday) just so recently past, that sadness overtakes my soul. I can’t help think of my dad; of what was, what is, and what will never be.

In the simplest terms–though I may have something of his face, the timbre of his voice, his light-skinned Irish complexion–I don’t know the man. Growing up, he was a poltergeist: a ghostly presence which only seemed to manifest in some kind of malevolence. When he was there, it was with a caustic word; when not, he was a cypher. I lost him to work, and to the bottle, long before he last darkened the doors of our home.

And then he was gone for good.

Only to re-emerge when, and if, it was convenient for him. Only to bring chaos into my re-ordered life. There was no balance when he was there, and there certainly was none he would either deign to visit, or when my brother and I would be made to visit him. Why? Why would we have to go, when he had so stridently declared his preference? Because when it came right down to it, he left, and moved away when his then-girlfriend was transferred out of state. Of all the things I still struggle with all these years later, it’s this; being cast asunder, left by the wayside, when something better came along.

Of the deepest soul wounds, the one which cuts the harshest is that of never being (feeling) loved by the one man who was supposed to love me. I, we–my brother, my mother–were always second choice; he came first. The distance, both emotional and physical, has colored (for good or ill) the way I view my Heavenly Father; as I view my dad, I see Him as a distant presence, uninvolved. Because I know it isn’t true, I daily fight this view.

Thing is, I don’t always know how to keep the dad out, and let the Father in. That’s a struggle, too. And if I’m feeling particularly honest, this one relationship gone around upon the rocky shoals of familial dysfunction has colored not just my relationship with Jesus, but also every other one as well; I don’t know how to let people in. Every time I’ve tried it’s ended in heartache and pain. Men’s groups have fallen in tatters around me when I’ve opened up to share my convictions. I see friends diving deep, doing life with others, and always feel like I’m left holding the bag–standing on the outside looking in.

The only thing I can conclude is that’s me; I’m hopelessly broken, doomed to merely skim through life. Not truly sharing in either the joys, or the sorrows, of the folks that always seem to mean more to me than I do to them.

Like my dad.


Photo Credit: “PAIN Knuckle Tattoo 11-23-09 — IMG_9893”, © 2009 Steven Depolo, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

There is nothing quite like pain to bring us up short. When it hurts just to breathe, how do we take that next breath? The body knows–even if the receptors in the brain are flaring up like an electrified pin cushion. We would term this bad pain. Certainly unwanted pain. 
You see, I’ve been on a journey to work my way up to a 300 lb bench press. With only a couple of months to go, I recently took a tumble, hurting my back. This is has hindered the forward momentum I had laboriously, by the sweat of my brow, built. Only fifty pounds away from my goal, I’ve had to stop. You see, when one is working out, there are good and satisfying pains of the workout (soreness), there are the pains one pushes through.

And as I alluded to above, there are the pains that quite literally take one’s breath away. We would (as I said above) call this bad pain. The thing is, pain just is. It’s a warning system to let us know when things aren’t right. In these cases, it’s a voice which must be heeded. Or else we risk adding injury to injury.

Author Jim Butcher says there’s one thing we often forget about pain; namely, that it’s for the living. The dead don’t feel it. That we feel pain means, quite bluntly, that we are still alive. Philip Yancey would remind us to look to the leper, whose deadened nerve endings deny the necessary warnings which pain brings…

I’m not going to lie: pain isn’t fun. And the season of recovery, where I must sacrifice some of the progress of made, is frustrating. But it is necessary.

There is something to be said for slowing down. I’ve been able to read more, watch some movies, rest.

Pain let me know that it was time for a reset.

What has pain taught you?

Fair warning: while I’m not a divorced dad, I am a child of divorce. And having grown up in a broken home, think I have something to say to divorced dads. That out of the way, here goes:

1) It’s not (all) your fault. Marriage takes two willing parties; that is, two people willing to work at making it work. Sometimes it’s the man who isn’t willing, other times it’s the woman.

2) Own the things that are your fault. Your kids don’t care who carries the blame, e.g. who did what to whom. They just know that one, or both, of their parents is (for whatever reason) no longer around. And they wonder, even if they’re old enough to know better rationally, did I do something wrong? Is this my fault? In the midst of your own pain, and confusion, you’ve got to find a way to be there for your kids. Let them know it’s not their fault.

3) Be honest. Talk to your kids. Talk to them–not at them. In my case, because my mom was more open, and more willing to talk, it was easier to gravitate towards her. My dad on the other hand chose to leave. This lack of communication made it far easier to resent him, make him the villain (even if he was just a hurting soul himself). To this day (I’m almost forty-six), I have no real relationship with him.

Because he chose not to be real with me. In essence, he became this distant figure who tried assert himself into my life (a life he’d walked away from just as I was entering high school) about twice a year. I felt like an obligation, a checkmark.

Not a beloved son.

Did my duty, abided by the terms of the decree, move along.

That is not a relationship.

I’m sure dad wonders now why “the cat’s in the cradle, and the silver spoon” as the late Harry Chapin sang.

4) Just because you’re the dad doesn’t mean you get to dictate all the terms. This is a relationship–not a “dadtatorship.” If you play the general, your kids will revolt. The harder you squeeze something (or someone) the more it slips through your fingers. You have to let them be their own people. Let me ask you this: do you like to feel controlled? Do you think your kids do?

5) Share their interests. Bond over something they like. This may mean doing something you don’t like. But it’s for a greater cause; namely, re/establishing a relationship. If the biblical account of the Prodigal Son teaches anything, it’s that the father goes to the son. He is actively scanning the horizon. He runs to the son (or daughter). We earthly dads are not the Heavenly Father, and as such must model humility and repentance. We set the tone, but we don’t set all the terms. And for myself, I tried for years to have a meaningful relationship with my dad, but because he wanted to set all the terms (the rules of engagement, if you will), it never worked. Believe me you don’t want to be in your seventies, filled with regret, wondering why your kids never call or come around.

6) Be their soft place. Let them know (and model) that there isn’t anything they can’t come to you with. Listen. It’s cliché, but true nonetheless, that people (especially our own families) don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.

7) Respect your ex-spouse. You can’t do anything about how they treat you, but you can control your attitude and comportment regarding them. Your kids are watching. Show them what it’s like, no matter how hard it may be, to live with honor. At the very least, if you can’t bring yourself to like your ex-spouse, honor their office–that being one of the parents of your children. Again it’s not easy, but it can be done.

8) Pray for your kids. The statistics concerning children of divorce are disheartening to say the least. More likely to have trouble in school, have substance abuse problems, get divorced themselves, and finally die younger.

They need you, dads, and the uniquely masculine love you bring into their lives. If you can help it don’t move away. Find a way to instead be close by. If they move, take the pay cut to be closer to them. Do your all, because ultimately how they view the Heavenly Father is filtered through the lens of your example.

They’re counting on you, dad.