Florida's Grapefruit League

Western Florida is hopping this time of year, when hundreds of thousands of baseball fans make the annual pilgrimage to sunnier climes. Every other SUV last week in the parking lot outside of Joker Marchant stadium had Michigan plates. 

We've seen the Orioles in Jupiter, the Astros in Kissimmee, and we've been to Tigertown these past two springs. Marchant Stadium, the country's oldest minor league park (1966), is a fantastic venue. Great sight lines, intimate feel, a sunny berm, and some good cold beer and great food. 

Lakeland is a great city. It's got a fantastic downtown, some great gardens and picturesque buildings, and a nice vibe around the stadium. Spring Training and the Grapefruit League is just one more reason why we have it really good here in Florida.


Crafting a Community Identity

In the realm of science fiction, the city represents the pinnacle of technical prowess. We watch films like Metropolis (1927) and Blade Runner (1982) and bear witness to these labyrinths of concrete skyscrapers while a backdrop of pounding, humming industrial machinery executes the work of the system. It's the kind of busy, monotonous, disconnected "utopia" that might have inspired George Tooker to paint this little dandy:

Portland, Oregon, doesn't fall into those traps, though. Portland's motto: The City that Works. That's a clever little turn of phrase, evoking both its blue-collar roots in the shipping industry and its non-traditional approach to urban planning. In the 1970s, visionary Oregon Governor Tom McCall asked that all Oregon cities draw an urban-growth boundary around their periphery. This allowed farms and other agricultural concerns to maintain some autonomy, while also requiring cities to plan development carefully. Portland was sprawling at the time, and McCall's edict led to a Renaissance in the downtown core. A beautiful public park was built along the river. Neighborhoods reinvented themselves. Portland grew cautiously, designing a city that is pedestrian and biker-friendly. Even though this message recently was ordered to be removed, it's an apt visual metaphor for my hometown:

I love Jacksonville, Florida. It's been an awesome place for us, and it's exciting to see how the near future will shape up. We love it for the beaches, fishing, golf, camping, and climate. The people are friendly and the town is growing quickly. There's a ton of great food here, and many of the elements that made Portland so livable (arts and entertainment, chief among them) are evident in our city. Take a look at the city that Jaguars' owner Shad Kahn envisions for our future. While nothing is set in stone on how quickly this may come to pass, Kahn is energetic and he gets results. I expect that this will, in large part, take place, bringing that final element into the identity that Jacksonville sorely needs: the downtown core.

As Kahn loves to say to the local media when it comes to breaking news, stay tuned!


Cold on the Mountain

All they wanted was a vacation to the Grand Canyon. Instead, they found themselves on a collision course with a terrible, timeless darkness.

Welcome to Adrienne, home to history’s worst serial killers and mass murderers. Nestled in an isolated meadow high in the Sierra Nevada, Adrienne is sort of like a cosmic lint trap. It collects the universe’s negative energy—all of our blackest human impulses—before purging that darkness back into the world in a yearly lottery. From Hitler to Bin Laden…Bundy to Gacy, Adrienne is the way station for dark energy that doesn’t just pass on—it passes through.

When Phil Benson decides to take an unmarked detour over the mountain, he drives his family into the mouth of madness, where they are forced to join a captive labor pool with little hope for freedom. Escape is pointless and time stretches out into eternity, with every new day the same as the last.

Sometimes, it’s better just to skip the shortcut.

With echoes of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” Stephen King’s Needful Things, and Blake Crouch’s Pines series, Cold on the Mountain treads the boundary between horror and supernatural suspense.

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Thanks for your support, and I hope the novel provides an entertaining escape!

You Know When It's Good

If you spend any real time at the word processor, you understand that sometimes the writing flows and you just know in your heart and in you...