Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good riddance 2009

Once again we have a new year before us. In fact, a new decade. As this year draws to a close, I think the title of this post captures my feelings towards it perfectly. 2009 just wasn't a good year for me. I won't get into everything that was wrong with it, but suffice to say it was probably my worst year ever. Don't get me wrong; there were some good things that happened, but all in all it was fairly rotten throughout.

As I embark upon this new year, I am tempted to make a list of resolutions and make all kinds of bold proclamations about how I am going to change all kinds of stuff in my life and this is going to be the best year ever. But I am not big on resolutions, as they usually fall by the wayside by the second week of January. Also, there are so many things that are out of my control, and I would be a fool to proclaim things that may never come to pass. Let's face it, crap happens. And for all I know, 2010 may be an even crappier year than 2009.

However, there are a few things that I am committed to strive to improve upon during this new year, and if they affect the quality of the year, then I can be happy with that. Here are a few of the things of concern to me:

1. Be a better husband and dad. I think this is something I will never be perfect at, but I am sure as hell going to try for improvement. This is what life boils down to for me, and it has to be at the top of my list.

2. Start writing more. This is something that I have a strong desire to do and began to experiment with this past year (one of the few good things from this year). I am tempted to make commitments to a word count per day, a number of days to write per week, etc. However, I don't feel I am in position to make those commitments. Life is busy, especially working and having a family with two small children. However, I am committed to improve my writing skills and to start doing it regularly. This is what has been sorely lacking the past few months. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect to be the next Stephen King or Brian Keene, but I don't want to look back 30 years from now and say, "Man, I wish..."

3. Read more. I believe this goes hand-in-hand with writing, and I did make positive strides in this department in 2009. I read 46 books, by far the most in my life. However, I feel this can be greatly improved upon and it will in turn improve my writing. Cutting out wasted time such as watching so much TV would definitely help with both this goal and my writing goal. This is going to be very difficult for me, as I am addicted to a number of different TV shows and I love watching movies. However, for me to improve upon goals that I think will give me much more sastisfaction, it is a thing I will have to give up.

4. Spend money smarter. We live in tough times right now. This has been a very difficult subject for me this past year, and I don't see circumstances changing a lot in the near future. So I need to better control my impulse spending and just be plain smart about my money. If I don't need it, don't buy it!

These are my main areas of focus for this new year. I know, it may sound pretty bland and not seem like a big deal, but these things are a big deal to me. And when it boils down to it, I am committed to pursue happiness for me and my family. And I believe these things will bring some of that to us.

So, 2009, good riddance! And hello 2010!

Happy New Year to everyone, and I wish you and yours a safe, happy, and prosperous new year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Here we are on the eve of Christmas, and my wife and I are wrapping presents and being Santa's "helpers." It has been a fairly eventful, and stressful, day. We were brave enough to go to Wally World earlier today and it was packed. We have worked on getting presents wrapped and the house straightened. And the kids decided to have their worst day in a long time (no matter how many times we reminded them that Santa was watching).

So after all of that, you would think Christmas would be wearing old by now. And, truthfully, there were times today when it did. But now that the kids are in bed awaiting the arrival of St. Nick and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is playing on the TV, somehow it all feels right. So from my family to you, merry Christmas and happy holidays! Be safe!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Top Ten Books I Read In 2009

Since we are drawing to the close of yet another year, it is the time to compile lists of a wide variety things from the past year. Since my passion is reading, I am going to make a top ten list of books. But I didn't read ten books that were published in 2009; instead, I read 46 books (as of the time this is written), most of them older titles. So, instead of a top ten of 2009 published books, I am going to make a top ten of the books that I did read this year. Without further ado, here is my top ten list, in no particular order:

Top Ten Books I Read in 2009

1. 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. This is one of my favorite King books. It is an interesting vampire story, and no one can tell a story like Stephen King. Definitely a classic.

2. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi. I don't read too much in the way of nonfiction, but this was an enthralling book. Very fascinating topic, giving a behind the scenes look at the Manson investigation. Still amazes me that a man like Manson could wield that much power over other people.

3. On Writing by Stephen King. Wonderful memoir by King about how he approaches his craft. A must read for anyone interested in writing. Not a technical treatment, but more of an informal look at writing.

4. Bad Moon Rising by Jonathan Maberry. This is the exciting conclusion to the Pine Deep trilogy. Maberry has a unique talent to tell a story, and this trilogy does not disappoint.

5. The Rising by Brian Keene. Groundbreaking take on the zombie genre. Keene reinvented and rejuvenated the zombie as we know it. Excellent story and a very good starting point to Keene's work.

6. The Farm by Scott Nicholson. Nicholson is one of my favorite storytellers, and maybe I am a little partial to him because he is a local author. The blurb on the back of the book makes this story sound far-fetched, but this is a very entertaining read.

7. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. This was my first book by Ketchum. It is a disturbing story that probably is not for everyone, but this one hooked me as a Ketchum fan.

8. The Conquerer Worms by Brian Keene. Again, Keene delivers with a fresh and unique story. I was hesitant to read this one, based on the cover art of the book (yes, that is very superficial) and the premise, but this is probably my favorite of Keene's work that I have read thus far.

9. In The Dark by Richard Laymon. Laymon is a master, in my humble opinion. This is a story that truly creeped me out and had me looking over my shoulder. If you have not read any Laymon, you need to!!!

10. The Resurrectionist by Wrath James White. This is a book that made me squirm and left certain images imprinted on my mind for life. I am a huge fan of White, and would highly recommend him to everyone, although I suspect everyone would not be able to handle his work.

Here are a few that just narrowly missed my list: The Cellar by Richard Laymon, The Stand by Stephen King, City Of The Dead by Brian Keene, Afraid by Jack Kilborn, and The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best Horror Novel of 2009

As 2009 comes to a close, I would have to say that The Resurrectionist by Wrath James White is my favorite horror novel that was published this year. This is the first work I have read by Wrath James White, and I must say I fell in love with his style and ability to tell a truly scary story. Books don't usually make me uncomfortable, but this one left me with a feeling of unease long after I finished it. There are some very graphic scenes that will make you squirm and may leave lasting imprints on your mind. And the ending may be the best part. There was a twist that I wasn't expecting. Wrath James White has definitely made me a fan for life.

Some other honorable mentions for 2009: Afraid by Jack Kilborn and Jake's Wake by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow.

Others I still haven't read that are on my to be read list from 2009: Depraved by Bryan Smith, The Black Train by Edward Lee, The 13th by John Everson, and Under The Dome by Stephen King.