Monday, September 24, 2007

Ghosts left behind

My wife and I own two houses: one that we're living in, and another that we're trying to sell. The off-kilter real estate market has hit upstate South Carolina particularly hard, and the old house -- a beautiful two-story, four-bedroom on 20 wooded acres -- will not sell. In fact, we can't even get people to look at it. I've owned and sold more than a dozen houses in my lifetime, and never run into this problem before.

However, just because it's sitting empty doesn't mean that the grass doesn't grow. At least twice a month, I've been going over to the old house by myself and mowing, weed-eating, edging, blowing, and trimming -- in what to this point has been an unrewarding attempt to keep the property looking nice. About 1,500 feet of the acreage fronts a relatively busy country road, so I also have to spend about a half-hour along the road picking up cans, bottles, trash, and countless, countless cigarette butts.

My family and I moved because my wife took a job that was an hour's drive away. So we bought another house much closer to her work, not realizing that months later we still wouldn't have sold the first one. The new house is very nice, but it's in a traditional development; i.e, neighbors on all sides. We quickly discovered that once you become used to privacy, it's hard on the psyche to give it up.

The old house sits in the middle of twenty wooded acres. When I stand in the yard, all I can see are trees: oaks, poplars, dogwoods, magnolias, pines ... you name it, I have it. Not to mention a magnificent variety of bushes and flowers. The air is so oxygen-enriched, it makes me dizzy to breathe it.

Now, when I go alone to do my chores, I feel strange. The inside of the house, which is in perfect condition, is empty of all furnishings and valuables. But when I walk around inside, it doesn't feel empty of memories. Though we only lived there for about three years, I still remember things that happened in every room: cooking in the kitchen, sitting by the fireplace in the living room, watching the moon rise in our Carolina room, writing most of my series in the downstairs office, waking up in the master bedroom in the early morning to the singing of birds. It's as if these memories are ghosts clinging to the walls with sticky fingers and watching me with sadness as I wander from room to room.

Outside, I churn around on a riding mower, surrounded by the dense, colorful, fragrant woods. Sometimes I think I see ghosts peering out from the trees, as well. But they don't seem threatening.

It's so private, I sometimes take off my clothes after I'm done with my work and stand naked in the sun, arms upraised, just breathing.

When I drive away, the house looms behind me like a living thing.

Watching ... and waiting.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Soon to come: Book Two!

Book Two, Moon Goddess, is on the verge of heading to the printers and should be available for purchase by early October. Here's the cover. I really love it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Book signings and appearances

Here's a list of appearances I'll be making, starting today. A lot more are in the works. If any of you can make it to any of these places, please do! It'll be a pleasure to talk with you.

Thursday (Sept. 13) from 5:30-7 p.m.: Reading and signing, Pendleton Books and Baskets, Pendleton, S.C. (864-646-5893)

Oct. 6 from 3-5 p.m.: Reading and signing, Osondu Booksellers, Waynesville, N.C. (828-456-8062)

Oct. 14 from 1-3 p.m.*: Signing, Cyrano's Bookshop, Highlands, N.C. (828-526-5488)

Oct. 20 from 2-4 p.m.: Reading and signing, The Open Book, Greenville, S.C. (864-235-9651)

Oct. 27 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Reading and signing, Times Festival of Reading, St. Petersburg, FL (727-893-8523)

Oct. 28 from 3-5 p.m.: Signing, Barnes and Noble, St. Petersburg, FL (727-384-5200)

* This was changed from Oct. 13 from noon-2.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Can I see your ID?

I turned 50 on Aug. 26.

Yet ... earlier this very evening, I was asked to show my ID at a gas station while buying a six-pack of beer.

Huh? My oldest daughter is 24. When I was last underaged, Jimmy Carter was president. (I've always liked Jimmy Carter.)

Most people would consider this wonderful. In fact, in most ways I suppose I do. But it's also a little annoying. Yes, I have a boyish face. But not boyish skin! Annnnnnd ... I have quite a bit less hair than I used to. Like Jesse Ventura used to say, "Grass doesn't grow on a busy street." (I only know that because my wife once did a big feature on him for the St. Pete Times.)

I guess the one reason I don't like being carded is because I've always been young-looking for my age. Being carded at 50 is kinda cool! But being carded at 30 isn't. The insult lingers.

What's next? Will I get carded when I'm 90 years old, entirely bald, and staggering into a gas station on a cane? Maybe after I die and I'm partying with the rest of the gang at the cemetery, I'll have to show my ID before they let me hit the keg. Maybe I'll have to convince one of my grandchildren to buy a six-pack for me while I linger guiltily outside the store.

I'm 50 friggin' years old!!!!!!!!!!!!

But I don't look it, thank you very much :) ....

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My first contest

I'm getting a decent level of hits and comments on my main blog, but not very many on my Extended Excerpts blog. So starting today, anyone who leaves a halfway-intelligent-sounding comment on my Excerpts blog will be entered in a contest to win a free, autographed copy of Book One (The Pit) shipped to your address of choice at my expense. The contest will close on Sept. 30, and I promise it will be legit (as in drawn out of a hat by a fair-minded third party).

So, please comment away here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Behold! Book One of The Death Wizard Chronicles officially is available at and The Pit begins my epic fantasy. It is by far the shortest of the six books (only 290 pages), so it's an easy introduction to the much-larger saga.

If you like action-packed fantasy with a sexy tone, you'll love my series.

If you have any interest in Asian spiritual philosophy (especially meditation), you'll love my series.

If you like reading literature with a lot going on between the lines, you'll love my series.

If Harry Potter scared the dickens out of you, you probably won't like my series -- because it's a whole lot scarier than that.

I sure hope fantasy fans will give it a try. I give you my word that it will be worth your time and expense -- and then some.

May all beings be well, happy, and peaceful.

-- Jim

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hmmmmm ......

Human beings are the only animals on Earth aware of their own mortality.

Suppose a supernatural being came to you and said, "I know the day you are going to die. Do you want me to tell you?"

What would you say?


The Death Wizard Chronicles is a sexy, action-packed six-book epic fantasy series: Book One (Forged by Death), Book Two (Chained by Fear), Book Three (Eve of War), Book Four (World on Fire), Book Five (Sun God), Book Six (Death-Know).

The DW Chronicles is not for children and teenagers -- or the faint of heart. But if you like graphic fantasy that is bursting with excitement yet still has a lot going on between the lines, I think you'll love my series.

In a groundbreaking paradox, the Death Wizard, a champion of good, derives his power from a source traditionally seen as negative -- death. His nemesis, an evil sorcerer, derives his power from the sun, the benevolent source of all life. Their struggle to control the fate of the planet Triken will take your breath away.

In an original twist never before seen in this genre, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a "temporary suicide." Through intense concentration, he stops his heartbeat and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.

The series also is a love triangle involving two desperate characters attempting to come together despite the machinations of an all-powerful psychopath with incestuous cravings.

Graphic and action-packed, spanning a millennium of turmoil, The DW Chronicles carries readers on a journey they will never forget.

Do you fear death? The Death Wizard does not. Find out why.

-- Please go to for more details.

About Me

My photo
Clemson, SC, United States
I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. I graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) in 1979 with a B.A. in Journalism. I now live in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a pleasant setting for writing, to say the least. I was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and I currently work at the Charlotte Observer. I am married with five daughters.

The author

The author
Jim Melvin, a veteran journalist, debuts as novelist.