Thursday, December 31, 2009

The end of an error

I don't know about you, but I'm one of those who is happy as all hell to see the end of 2009.

Here's to 2010 being everything that 2009 was not!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dreaming and screaming

I dreamt the other night that I was a deposed Roman emperor about to regain his power. As I strode from a tunnel into the main arena of a packed coliseum, tens of thousands cheered my return. It was explosively loud.

In response, I raised my arms toward the sky and howled.

Which I apparently did in real life, because I woke myself up while making an extremely weird whining sound. I also woke my wife up, though not all the way, so I couldn't have been making that much noise.

Then I fell back asleep and immediately had another weird dream. This time I dreamt that a co-worker of mine fell over and died of a heart attack. Ambulances came and took his body. As I was walking away from the scene of his death, I turned and saw his ghost walking alongside me. The ghost wore a maniacal grin. Again I howled. And again I woke myself up making the weird whining sound.

What's up with that? Whatever happened to good old-fashioned sex dreams?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Many mini thoughts ...

* I have to admit that I'm one of those people who isn't particularly fond of Christmas. Certain things are okay: a sweet-smelling tree, lights in the holly trees in the front yard, Christmas music on the radio. But these few benefits are far outweighed by the negatives: the expense, the worry, one kid jealous of another, the never-enough syndrome, the big credit card bill in January. To be honest, I'm relieved when it's over.

* I am (was?) a big-time Tiger Woods fan. Few people have been more shocked than I've been over the scandal. I was one of the many who had bought into his mystique, and though even I had to admit that he was arrogant, I did not think Tiger capable of the kind of serial misbehavior that recently has come to light. Selfishly, I kept hoping that it would go away. By "selfishly," I mean that I wanted it to go away so that he could get back to winning majors. I love golf, but to me Tiger is (was?) golf. When he didn't play or was not contending, I lost interest. Now, do I lose interest for good?

* Germs are everywhere. My wife's sick. My daughters have been sick. My co-workers are sick. The cashiers at Wal-Mart are sick. Yet I've managed to not get sick in almost a year. How much longer can I hold out? I'm dreading that middle-of-the-night sore throat that starts it all.

* Wouldn't it be great if work-weeks were two days and weekends five days?

* At this very moment, I can hear a train that passes within a half-mile of my house. I so love that sound. It makes me want to curl up under a blanket and sleep. What is it about trains that cause that kind of feeling?

* Speaking of sleeping, I'm one of those people who must have some sort of fan going when I sleep. At the least, the ceiling fan needs to be on -- even in the dead of winter. It's part flowing air, part white noise. When my wife is out of town, I break out a factory-sized floor fan and blast it like a hurricane. Man, do I sleep well then. Meanwhile, my wife is one of those people who has to have the windows open -- even in the dead of winter. So we have a deal. Windows open, fan on. Both of us freeze our asses off when we get up in the morning.

* Two of my favorite Tiger jokes have been these: "Tiger has gone from chasing Jack Nicklaus to chasing Wilt Chamberlain." And: "Majors or mistresses?"

* I love my gas fireplaces, my electric heater in my master bathroom, my oversized bathtub in my master bathroom, and my tempur-pedic mattress.

* Is Christmas over yet?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Aging like a werewolf

Age comes upon a person with relentless ferocity, churning ever forward.

This is not all bad. Getting older has its benefits. For one thing I've gotten smarter -- or at least it seems that way. For another I've gotten wiser -- ditto. In some ways I've gotten better looking -- double ditto.

It's not all good, either. Eventually of course, death comes -- sooner for some than others. But even for those of us lucky enough to hang around for a while, some weird things occur.

For instance it wasn't until about age 45 that I began to snore. Until then I was a quiet sleeper, and proud of it. Then one morning my wife mentioned that I had snored a little the night before. I remembered finding this amusing. The second time she told me also was funny. But the third, tenth, fiftieth became not the least big funny, because I had no desire to ruin her sleep anymore than my own. And make no mistake: snoring wrecks it for both of you. My wife is kept awake by the noise, and I'm kept awake by my wife shaking my shoulder and saying, "Jim, you're snoring ... Jim, you're snoring ..." while I groggily respond, "Huh? What? ... Huh? What? ..."

The weirdest thing about snoring is how the snorer doesn't have a clue. I can be lying there making enough noise to terrify a nearby werewolf, and yet I'm blissfully unaware of it. As far as I'm concerned, I'm as silent as a baby.

After my wife has woken me up a couple of times, I then enter into a sort of half-sleep in which I'm fighting not to fall back all the way, which will bring on the inevitable snoring again. I figure that if I can stay awake long enough for her to fall asleep, then maybe I can sneak off after that and not disturb her.

Oh well, what can you do? Age is that way.

Let's not even get into balding, pot bellies, and hair on my ears.

The good news is I don't have that one problem that comes with age! Fit as a fiddle there -- triple ditto. :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Name of the Wind is terrific

One of the best books I've read lately is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This book is extremely well written and conceived. Certain aspects of the plot, character, and setting aren't exactly to my liking. I prefer a larger dose of monsters and magic. But The Name of the Wind's overall excellence overcomes any shortcomings. I'm looking forward to book 2.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

To be young again

Ah, how time flies. This is me, 31 years ago.

See below for what I look like now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What's in a name?

On Aug. 26, 1957 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., James Sheldon Fuller entered the world. Quickly, I became known as Jimmy. And I had a lot of energy. Whenever I started to do something reckless, my mom would say to me, "Why would you want to do that, Jimmy?"

When I was in second grade, my parents divorced -- and my mom remarried. Mr. Melvin became my step-dad, and my real dad, Mr. Fuller, sort of stepped out of the picture. Even though I was never legally adopted, I assumed the name Melvin. I became Jimmy Melvin. But my step-dad liked the name James, so I became James Melvin. At the time, I agreed that James was cool.

When I entered high school, I decided that James was no longer cool. And so I became Jim, which I remain to this day. I was able to obtain my driver's license under the last name Melvin by getting a note from my high school principal, and I grew into adulthood/credit cards/student loans/mortages by using my Melvin driver's license. (This was all legal, so don't freak.) I even got a passport under the name Melvin by filling out some long-winded forms.

And so, I am Mr. Melvin to this day.

Do I prefer Melvin over Fuller? No. Do I prefer Fuller over Melvin? No. For whatever reasons, I grew into the kind of adult who doesn't give much credence to names. I judge people, including myself, by their behavior. My behavior has been great in some ways, terrible in others. Like most people, I would assume.

Before my mom died, she and the rest of my family took a driving trip to the mountains, and we rented a white van to hold us all. The van didn't handle well, especially on inclines, and at one point I was faced with driving up a very steep hill. My sister was in the passenger seat, and I turned to her and asked her if I should attempt it. And from way in the back of the van, I heard my mom's high-pitched voice say, "Why would you want to do that, Jimmy?"

I laughed until I cried. At that moment, at least, I was still Jimmy.

But above all, I was still me -- great and terrible.

I drove up the hill. And we went on our way.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Many mini thoughts ...

* Sure would have been nice to see Tom Watson win the British Open. Once Tiger's out of a tournament, I usually lose interest. But Watson brought back my enthusiasm. The guy's 8 years older than I am -- and about 50 strokes better on the golf course. I was proud of him.

* My Honda CRV is doing some weird things lately. Mainly, it tends to not want to start, as if the battery's gone dead, and I'll turn the key and turn the key ... and suddenly it will rev up as if nothing's wrong at all. It has 140K on it. In the old days, I already would have traded it in. But having no car payment means more than ever, doesn't it? By the way, what's the best hybrid out there right now?

* I really wish it would rain more around here. Rain can be a pain sometimes, but when it goes day upon day without raining, that's really disheartening. Plus, it seems to rain everywhere else but on top of my house. Who doesn't enjoy sleeping with the windows open when it's raining? Even thunder can be soothing. Anybody know any good dances?

* The best movie I've seen in a long time is Dark Knights. I recently rented it and watched it for the first time. Heath Ledger was even better than advertised.

* Does anybody remember Cop Rock from the early 1990s? I've been watching songs on You Tube. I'm one of the few people who seemed to love that show and its music.

* My wife bought me a massage chair for Father's Day. One of the best gifts she's ever given me. I'm using it right now. Gawd, I could get a massage twice a day and not get sick of it. I also adore back scratches. It always amazes me how few people like back scratches or have even given them much thought.

* Bottled water or tap water? I prefer the taste of bottled water. But am I just being bamboozled?

* Sunrise or sunset? I'm a sunset guy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Do you find this amusing?

Today, my wife and I took my three youngest daughters to Carowinds, a Disneyworld wannabee near Charlotte, N.C. Soon after arriving, we waited 45 minutes in 100-degree heat to get on the Rip Roarin' Rapids, only to have the ride shut down about 20 people from our turn to get on.

Later, we bought and shared two seafood platters at $12.99 apiece, six bottled waters at $3.75 apiece ($4.06 after taxes), and six Diet Cokes at the same price. We tried to buy two margaritas at $7.49 apiece, but they couldn't sell them to my wife and I because they had no one working the cash registers who was 21 or older. Overall, we spent more than $100 on food and drink and were still hungry. And I can tell you, it's not because we're pigs.

I actually enjoyed the hokey ice skating show, but only because the theater was air conditioned. Anything with either air conditioning or shade was awesome.

Overall cost: just shy of $300, not including gas. And there was nothing priceless about it.

Ironically, we all were in great moods on the ride home, simply because we were riding home (and my Honda CRV has great air conditioning).

As you can tell, we're just not amusement park people.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Flashes of brilliance

What is it about fireflies that is so fascinating? For me, there's almost a supernatural allure. The way they come and go, flashes of temporary brilliance, unplanned, unpredictable.

Though I was born in New York, I spent most of my life in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, where there are no fireflies. Since I've been in South Carolina the past few years, I've been reintroduced. They never cease to amaze me.

My daughters love them too. They chase them down and capture them in glass jars. I only allow them to imprison the fireflies for a minute or so before letting them go.

As if mere glass could contain them.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Aren't I special?

Things I'm really good at:

* Independently twitching my eyebrows.
* Whistling.
* Thumb wrestling.
* Kissing.
* Cooking.
* Taking care of my teeth.
* Driving a car.

Things I'm pretty good at:

* Bowling.
* Shooting wadded-up paper into trash cans.
* Giving advice.
* Being polite.
* Listening.
* Maintaining an exercise routine.
* Swimming underwater.

Things I'm okay at:

* Singing.
* Ironing.
* Mingling at parties.
* Making the bed.
* Keeping in touch with my loved ones.
* Drinking in moderation.
* Avoiding road rage.

Things I'm terrible at:

* Touching my toes.
* Dancing.
* Remembering things.
* Keeping sports in perspective.
* Keeping quiet while someone else drives.
* Not getting depressed at the end of a vacation.
* Being a good person all of the time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I have at least one mischievous side to my personality. It cracks me up when someone is startled. For the most part, I have grown out of sneaking up on someone and outright scaring them, but if I innocently walk up to someone and startle them, I will chuckle over it long after I should ... sometimes even the next day or the day after.

I don't watch much TV, but occasionally I watch The Dog Whisperer, and it never ceases to crack me up when the dogs freak out while being admonished by Cesar. When mockingbirds dive-bomb cats, I laugh. When turtles withdraw into their shells, I giggle. I still chuckle over a time when I went on the rollercoaster Space Mountain at Disney World, and an elderly woman in front of me screamed at her husband the entire ride: "Henry, oh, Hennnnnry!"

I'm not sure what this is about. I sincerely do not wish anyone harm. But when someone is startled, it cracks me up. It's an immature weakness, but I can't deny it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bring on the rain

It's been raining here all day. Strong, steady rain. Upstate South Carolina has been in a drought for several years now, but it's easing ... and the easing is beautiful and tender.

Life is so dynamic ... yet impermanent. All living beings are barreling toward death like a train with no brakes. We churn past beautiful countrysides, all on the same bittersweet ride. What can you or I do but ride along with everyone else?

I remember walking into a room at a Hospice center knowing that my mom had just recently died. I had left her for a few hours to go home for some sleep and a shower, fully expecting that she'd still be breathing when I returned. My mom was an unusual person, lazy but nonjudgmental, drunken but artistic. Her dead body shocked me. In front of several Hospice nurses, I cried out, "Oh, mom!" It was all I could say. Otherwise, I just cried. For her. For me. For us all. Have we not all cried this way?

Bring on the rain.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I've never been the type who has suffered from writer's block. I've had occasional writer's slowdown, but never the complete block. I've always figured that if I can write just one sentence, then I can write another, and another, and so on. And it's always worked.

But when it comes to this blog, I've got writer's block. There are few things less interesting than a dead blog, but that's what has happened to this one, which I suppose is appropriate for a blog with Death in the title.

My excuse is that my search for a new publisher has taken the wind out of my sails. And to be honest, this is one of those rare cases where the excuse is legitimate. I just can't seem to get fired up about it anymore. If/when the great news finally occurs, I think I will be rejuvenated in a big way. It'll be as if I've discovered a bottle of blue pills that pumps up my fingertips rather than my you know what.

I have most definitely grown to admire people who can sustain a blog for months and months and even years. There's a discipline there that is quite impressive.

Monday, March 30, 2009

From beginning to end

While waiting to (hopefully) hear great news from a large publisher, I have spent the last few months doing another full edit on my six-book series. Though I revised each book in the series about a dozen times, this was the first and only time that I have done a revision from the start of book 1 until the end of book 6, as opposed to one book at a time. This was very helpful to me, and I made a lot of nice changes and even a couple of crucial catches.

Also, in this last edit I approached the series more as a reader than as the writer, and I found myself enjoying the process. Overall, I reaffirmed my confidence in the series and was quite proud of the final result. There's nothing wrong with patting yourself on the back, especially in the privacy of your own mind.

Now, I've decided to take on a couple of short stories. This should help take my mind off the waiting.

Anything to take my mind off the waiting!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thoughts ...

Things I really like:

* Our new president.
* The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
* People who are able to accept the beliefs of others.
* Tempur-Pedic mattresses.
* The tickle of inhalations and exhalations on the tip of my nostrils.
* The last sentence of a really good book.
* Diversity.
* Beautiful landscapes.
* Did I mention our new president?

Things I really don't like:

* Rush Limbaugh.
* The Dallas Cowboys.
* People who feel their religion is the only religion.
* Any other kind of mattress.
* Lack of awareness.
* The first sentence of a really bad book.
* Lack of diversity.
* Beer cans swarming with ants.
* Take a hike, Rush. (Okay, so I'm failing on the "beliefs of others" bit.)


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.