Wednesday, August 28, 2013


               I am a news-aholic.  My wife will confirm this: I am addicted to the news.  I try and watch NBC Nightly news as often as I can. 

            In addition to this, I review Yahoo’s news on my homepage daily, and I have at least six news apps on my phone, because I need at least six.
            My favorite is the New York Times app.  The Times recently changed its policy regarding its app where if you read more than three articles a day you get charged for it.  As a result I haven’t updated my New York Times App in over two months, it just sits there on my phone telling me it needs to be updated.  Since I haven’t updated it, though, I can still read all the articles for free.
            To balance out The Times I also have the Wall Street Journal app.  However, the Wall Street Journal was smarter than The Times and it charges for about 90 percent of the material it offers online.  As a result I don’t read it as much.
            I also have the L.A. Times and Washington Post Apps. 
I have the App for the news magazine The Economist too.  I suppose I have the latter just because I have become somewhat of a news snob.  To round things out I have the ESPN app, but I don’t look at it as much when the NBA is in off season.
            That may seem like a lot of news, but just to be sure I haven’t missed anything I have an app called The Pulse, which collects all kinds of news from a wide variety of sources.  I don’t play Angry Birds.  I read the news.  Every day.  Every single flippin’ day.  Several times a day, as a matter of fact.
            If something is happening somewhere, and some under-paid over-worked journalist has taken the time to write about it, I have probably read what has been written.  To say I am well informed is like saying Miley Cyrus is trying to shed her Disney image.  It goes without saying.  (And yes, while I don’t listen to her music, if Ms. Cyrus makes it into the news, I will probably read about it.  And I guess I should explain that I have nothing against her music, she is just not writing for 56 year old, grey-haired, grandfathers.  I listen to Beatles and ZZ Top type music.)
            Does it make me sound conceited to say I am “well informed”?  Maybe.  But I can’t truthfully say I’m good looking, or that I am especially athletic, (I do enjoy watching sports) or that I am rich, or feared, or much of anything else.  So, at least give me this one thing:  I am well informed. 
            It may not be much, but it is what I got, not all that I got, but all that I am going to write about today.  Where was I going with this?  I started out by confessing that I am a news-aholic.  I am not aware of any 12 step program for people like myself, if there was one I wouldn’t go to all the effort that 12 steps take anyway.  (Fortunately my bathroom is less than 12 steps from my bed.)
            So, . . . I still don’t know, so what?  I read the news, and probably more than you.  Well, you’re probably better looking, so . . . I guess we’re even.


Thursday, August 22, 2013


            I haven’t made a blog entry in over two weeks and am feeling a little guilty about it.  Over the years I have trained myself to pretty much ignore guilt, so “a little guilty” is about the best I can do on the guilt front.
            I was afraid I would have to blog again about nothing.  (I should have been a writer for Seinfeld). But a trip to the store revealed to me that I did indeed have something important to blog about.
            There are stories that deserve regional attention, and some that deserve national attention, and even some that deserve international attention.  Also, there are events that are interesting, some that are remarkable, and again, some that are momentous.  And sometimes people over-react to a situation.  Let me give you an example:
            After the last presidential election my brother-in-law’s wife, (that is my wife’s brother’s wife) was so upset with the outcome she took to her bed for three days.  Maybe it was two, but it was something like that.  And, come on, does it really matter who the president is?  Things go pretty much the same no matter whose butt is sitting behind that big desk in the oval office.  This is, in my mind, an overreaction to a nonevent.  (You knew I would get to politics sooner or later).
            No, the event I want to blog about is of much greater moment than the mere election of the leader of the free world.  MUCH GREATER, (see, when its all caps it is like I’m yelling it at you, in case you didn’t know).  It is of the international, momentous types of events.  Oh yes my friends, we were on the edge of the abyss, about to fall into that black void from which there is no return.  Darkness was falling upon us, threatening to consume all that is light and beautiful.  We teetered on the very verge of that deep chasm of despair and hopelessness. 
            I want to come up with at least one more vague overstatement of alarm. 
            Depression and misery were on the cusp of becoming our constant companions.  It appeared as if there was no chance of relief or rescue.  It was like a Hollywood movie, some crass CEO was on the verge of ending life as we know it.  Would someone save the day?
            And then, I was at the store, and lo and behold what did I see?  I saw this:
            Light, hope and joy have been restored.  The universe is back in alignment again.  We can go on, and yes, Jeff Goldblum, it appears life did find a way.  It is the "Sweetest Comeback . . . Ever"!  (If I have to explain to you that Hostess went out of business and someone bought the name and rights to make the products, and after a hiatus of several months blah, blah, blah, then all I can say is pick up a newspaper once in a while.)
            Who cares who the freakin’ president is?  Pass me a Twinkie.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Ammon is in Black & Gold on Right
When my son, Ammon, played basketball for Monarch High School, my wife and I cheered enthusiastically from the bleachers. 

We soon found out that not all his teammates were "team players."  Most notable were those whose whole ambition was to get the ball and drive hell-bent down the court to make a spectacular layup. 

As a 6'4" forward, Ammon was especially good at working the boards, rebounding and driving in to pass off at the last second, allowing another player in a better position to score. 

Had to document that Ammon (#35) did make baskets!
During a particularly heated game, we heard the Dad of one of the players, who was seated behind us, comment, "Ammon is too nice.  He won't get the stats."

I thought, "That's because he's a team player."

In any team sport, there are two driving forces that must be kept in balance:  what’s best for the one versus what’s best for the whole.  In the end, team work means doing what’s best for the whole team first, before doing what might be best for any individual, including yourself.

Great teams come together only when each player cares as much about the success of the other team members as he cares about his own. 

Back Row: Berk 3rd from Left, Andy 2nd from Right
Now, brotherly relationships can be notoriously complicated, with a lot of old baggage, but in our case, I enjoy my relationship with Andy and value his friendship.  As writers, I think the different experiences and skills we bring to the table are complimentary, and the product of our joint efforts is greater than the sum of its parts.

We discovered this only as adults. 

Growing up, I was always in the “big-kids” group of siblings, while Andy was always in the “little-kids” group.  Big kids were allowed by our parents to do things that the little kids were not.  This created a gap between us, and when we did interact as children, it was often when the big kids were playing dirty tricks on the little kids. 

Fortunately, Andy survived, and we had similar growing-up experiences, though the events in Andy’s life came a half-dozen years after mine.  While we both became lawyers, we both eventually decided to try something new.

Scary stories have always been a family specialty.  I started writing a young adult science fiction series, and when Andy also tried his hand at writing fiction, it didn’t take long for us to come together as The Brothers Washburn on a young adult horror series.  We find that once we start telling a horror tale, any bounds on the story are limited only by our own creativity and imagination. 

Telling tales is way more fun than being a lawyer.

As brothers, we get along well and have a healthy level of mutual self-respect, so we can freely share ideas and challenge each other without worrying about egos.  We are more creative when we are bouncing ideas off each other and discussing a general storyline, but we actually write separately, conferring afterwards on what we have been doing. 

In some ways, we are very different in how we approach a story.  Andy used to be a planner (a habit he got from writing like a lawyer), but in fiction writing, he no longer likes to plan ahead.  He likes to develop his characters, and then let them take the story wherever it is going to go. 

On the other hand, I am definitely still a planner.  I am always making lists and outlines, not only for the current story, but for future stories as well.

For both of us, background research is important in the theoretical sciences as well as in the local Trona geography.  The Dimensions in Death series is an ongoing horror story based on principals of science rather than on demons, devils or magical creatures, so an understanding of scientific theory is necessary and fun. 

However, Dimensions in Death is not a science fiction series with a few scary scenes.  It is horror, suspense and fright in a fast pace narrative with a little science sprinkled on for spice as the truth is gradually discovered by our heroes in the story.  Separately, the local geography in the story plays a critical role in setting the mood of the tale.  Trona, California is a real place in this world located in a desolate region of the Mojave Desert by Death Valley.  We grew up there and try to keep the series settings as real as possible.

The general outline for Pitch Green, the first book in the horror series, came together in November of 2010.  We were attending a writer’s seminar together in Manhattan and listening to panel discussions by top literary agents during the day.  One night, as we rode the subway from one end-of-the-line stop across town to the opposite end-of-the-line stop, and then back again, we mapped out the basic elements we would need to expand a favorite childhood scary story into a full-length novel.  Andy wrote the first rough draft, and then, in our typical tag-team effort, I took that draft over to edit and expand the tale. 

In the writing of the first book, the ground work was laid for both the sequels and the prequels in that series.  The whole tale is long and complicated.  However, as The Brothers Washburn, we are having more fun in the spinning of it than should be legally allowed.

But that’s okay--we know some good lawyers.

For the original of this post, go F.J.R. Tichenell, our blog tour host extraordinaire, here. Thanks, Fiona.