Friday, September 27, 2013

Runner's World Cookbook Review

True story. The other day I sent an email to Runner's World requesting a review of my novel; On the Lips of Children. They should be interested, right?

Well, just moments letter an email appeared from Runner's World. Yep, those guys.  How cool, a response?! It read:

Hello Bloggers: Runner’s World magazine is releasing its first cookbook on October 1, just in time for the fall marathon season...

That’s right. They wanted to send me a book, I would be sending them nothing. In other words, “Don’t you know who we are? You review us, mister, we don’t review you.”

Of course, it was all just coincidence. Either way, I was flattered and happy to be asked.

Days later, the Runner’s World Cookbook was dropped off by a super-duper cute and dreamy UPS guy. 

Here are my thoughts:

This is not just a book, its’a  full color, hardcover, coffee table sized book. Solid.
My new book and new shoes, getting cozy

Then I started to read, and I have to say the plot is terrible, and really, well..,

But it’s a cookbook. And not just a cookbook, but more a nutritional guide.  A cookbook for runners is a perfect match. For example, Scott Jurek and his diet go hand in hand. Scott could sell his bile to the rest of us to use as GU at mile 21 of the marathon. Since that may not be available, check the Runner's World Cookbook out for some Scott Jurek recipes.

"If Only I Wasn't Vegan, I could have had some Long Run Cakes With Peanut Butter Cream Cheese"

As it says in the book, and I paraphrase, we need to eat right to run, and some of us run just to eat.

Eating right is a discipline I certainly haven’t mastered. I eat plenty of good food. Nuts, lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, but I also add the terrible stuff. Pizza, ice cream, chocolate with licorice chaser. Frosted strawberry pop-tarts are a pre Long-run staple.

There’s a foreward by Deena Kastor that discusses how her diet in the 2004 Athens Olympics help her become the first American to medal in the marathon since 1984, and how eating well does not just cultivate a solid running base, but builds relationships

After the foreward, there’s a section on “How to Eat Like A Runner”.

 As I skimmed the plot looking for the good parts, my eyes were drawn as much to the recipes as to the ingredients used. This is where the charts were helpful.  There is a bread and pasta guide, a ‘how to get your rainbow of fruit’ guide, a how to use healthy oils guide, and a guide to sources of protein divided by veggie, meat & poultry, and seafood
But it's the recipe key that makes this book stand out for runners. Colored tabs on the top of the page designate if it is best for a Prerun Meal, a Post Run meal, if it can be prepared Fast, if it's Vegetarian, Vegan, Low Calorie or Gluten Free. 

My premise that all I needed to know about running nutrition is chocolate milk and tart cherry juice has been destroyed.

If you are looking to make some tweaks in your training and lifestyle changes, this would certainly be an essential tool to have. It has my full endorsement. Thanks Runner's World, for the copy. The book is due out October 1st. Check it out on Amazon, or  for more information and excerpts, click here.

I hope I can learn to use it as a resource. I really need to. Here's a short clip of me gorging after my last long run.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

18 Miles On A Tuesday, Goodreads Makes News, and I'm Gonna Be A Paperback Writer

I ran 18 miles
It was a sunny, 65 degree Tuesday afternoon with no wind.

And it was the most unremarkable, non-extraodrinary, 18 miles of my life. In fact, I have the urge to run the route backwards right now to erase each one of them from my memory.

Usually during a run of this nature, the angels descend from the heavens to sing secrets in my ear. The devils nip at my heels and mock my pace and my life. I rescue a burning baby or two. Epiphanies float in the air like dandelion weeds. But none of that. Maybe the running gods took the day off, because, who runs 18 on a Tuesday afternoon?

Still, I finished. Just pulling up one thighbone after another, trudging ahead with an imaginary foot of snow underneath me. 18 miles in the bank. I will need to withdraw that and more in a few weeks during the New York City Marathon.

Goodreads and Amazon
Over at Goodreads, there has been a ruckus over their new review policy, which I can only sum up as “don’t personally attack the author.” It has resulted in a ton of reviews being deleted without warning. With Amazon having purchased Goodreads, there’s all sorts of speculation going on. Here's at least one open letter to Goodreads that has received lots of attention.

My life would be much less than it is if not for Goodreads and Amazon. I love them both. They have  allowed me to connect with writers and readers that otherwise I would have not been able to. So, if they want to change the rules, it’s their ball and their playground, but I don’t necessarily like this. 

For one, I would truly hate for this actual review of my novel The Jade Rabbit to go away

“As an avid runner, it's easy to see the author knows nothing about running or training for a marathon, as the main character in the book is doing.”

A review belongs to the reader. You don’t have to justify what you say. “I read this book with my scratchy pajamas on, and damn if the author didn’t make me scratch harder. I hate their stinky ass” is a legitimate review of your experience. I can see personal threats as a problem, but beyond that, say what you will.

The policy seems way too author-centric and not reader-centric, which is who should matter. 

The paperback copy of On the Lips of Children is due out anyday now. But, you can win it before you can buy it. A Goodreads giveaway is underway.

*Here's the latest review from blogger Run Run Johnny *

From the first few pages, I knew this book was going to go someplace dark. Matthews uses his background in behavioral health to create a nightmare so real, you wonder how much is actually fabricated. Being a runner, I was happy to see the book have so many ties to the sport.

From what I've read on Mark's personal website, he is generally a funny, light-spirited person; not one you would expect to take you down a dark path full of evil, flesh craving demons. But he does, and he does it so well that I found myself sneaking a few pages at work, while playing with my son and even while cooking dinner. I couldn't put it down.

These type of kind statements will certainly put him under the radar of the Goodread police. So, go now, and enter the contest. It's as free and easy as a Tuesday afternoon 18 miler. Maybe even easier.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

On the Lips of Children by Mark  Matthews

On the Lips of Children

by Mark Matthews

Giveaway ends October 14, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, September 23, 2013

Breaking Bad - The Final Episode Awaits

**spoiler alert**
I would have been completely happy if last night's Breaking Bad episode had been the lost. I love inconclusive endings like how The Sopranos went out.

My jaw dropped twice last night. The masked men along Hollys' crib, and the when Andrea got shot. Damn.

Loved the tension and action of the start in contrast to the cold, isolated stillness of shacked up Walt. It's a modern day Dostoyevsky novel.

What will next week's final episode bring? I have already been wrong about predictions. I had Skylar or Walt Junior (now Flynn) dying before Hank or anyone else, so, I'm sure I will be wrong here.

Here's some random predictions:

Walt: We judge ourselves by our intentions, others judge us by our actions. Walt still clings to his mantra "I did everything for my family." (His Ego is a member of this family and requires the most care.)  He has lost all self-awareness of the repercussions of his actions. The phone call to his son and being dragged down by the founder of Grey Matter are the final nails in the coffin of a simple chemistry teaching Dad. All that's left is Heisenberg.

Martyrdom or self-sacrifice awaits. I think all the running around with Guns in his trunk has to be to protect Skylar from the Lydia, who wants her dead. Walt's best redemption is to die in a prison hospital.

Walt who? I am the danger. And my heart wants what it wants.

Todd: you ever met a sicker fuck in your life? His uncle, Sir Aryan nation, seems safer. If Todd is alive at the end of next week, none of us are safe. I think he's dead by 10:15, Sunday, September 29th. After he killed the motorcycle boy, he saved the child's tarantula. Perhaps the spider gets revenge on behalf of the child. His crush on Lydia will be part of his, and/or Lydia's doom.

He's made this face so much lately, it will stay like that.
Pinkman:  Pinkman's consciousness and caring actually seems to have grown through the years the more bad he broke. If only he could rationalize and lie like Walt, but, alas, all the therapy in the world isn't going to make his life worth living. If he does live, he'll be off to Europe looking for some Heisenberg blue.

Beware of Marie Wearing Black
Marie- She's not done yet. I expect her to flex a bit and rage against the machine.  It will be much bigger than shoplifting.

It's really all just so Oedipal isn't it?
Walt Junior/Flynn- I think he's had his climactic moments the last two episodes. The true protector of Skylar. The true barometer of moral purity.  Couldn't you feel his head and heart swirl listening to his dad on the phone? He has never been more powerful than when fighting back against dad. Well played, Flynn. 

Skylar-  I certainly don't think she dies at the hands of Lydia, but I don't think her sister is done with her either.  Maybe she sees a message in her bacon to disclose all she knows to the DEA and give Holly to Marie while she goes to jail. Maybe she finally goes Ophelia. Maybe she survives but half her face gets a bit destroyed like Gus after the explosion and Jesse after the torturing. (that was no coincidence. Nothing is in the world of Vince Gilligan.)

Saul- Survives and does manage a Cinnabon store. Want a big ass? better call Saul.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sunshine Came Softly Through My Window Today

 'sunshine came softly through my window today'. ~Sunshine Superman, Donovan

I was tagged with the Sunshine award yesterday. This was quite distressing. 

My post was on drugs and evils and other dark things, and I got a sunshine award by the blog Words to Run By.  One can only presume this was due to the body of work.

Before I proceed, I think I need to let some ray of light shine a bit. So here are:

Reasons To Be Happy
-Today is Gotcha Day in our family. 9 years ago, my wife and I were in China, and were handed the treasure who now enriches our life beyond what any cliche can offer up.(I know, this is plenty and the list can end right here, but wait, there's more)
-I took two straight days off running which means today's run should feel great.
-The paperback version of On the Lips of Children is coming any day now.
-Fall. Best weather outside for running.
-Miquel Cabrera and Devon Gardner.
-Halloween Candy bags from Target or Costco, which will soon be opened up way before Halloween.  (oops, this one ripped)
-Two episodes of Breaking Bad left.
-I have way more than most, probably more than I deserve, and the wonders of the universe are at my disposal. In other words; 'Superman and Green Lantern ain't got nothing on me.'

Here are my sunshine answers:
Do you prefer to wear jeans/pants or shorts?
Shorts, ideally with sandals. 

When others get discouraged when it comes to fitness/health/weight loss, what is your go-to piece of advice?  
Patience and persistence.

Who is your favorite band/musician?
Trapped on a deserted island, I would want the entire collection of Led Zeppelin, but soon I would also long for some Arcade Fire, some White Stripes, the Glee soundtrack, the Monkees, Eminem, Nine Inch Nails. You get the picture.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
 Can I shrink myself to microscopic size, and be injected into someone's blood stream? If not, then New Zealand and try to live like a Hobbit.

What is your favorite place in the world you have visited?
China, as much because of the experience as the reason I was there.(see above)

What is your favorite vegetable?   
Bananas, apples, peaches... all my favorite vegetables are fruits

Do you like spicy food?
Yes, but not if I'm running later that day, then no way.

Do you have a pet(s)?
Many who are deceased. Alive is one guinea pig and one fish

How long have you been blogging?
3 years, but it probably took 6 months or more before it had any focus at all. Or any hits.

What is your favorite quote?
As of late, this one resonates:  

“Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still.”

Friday, September 20, 2013

Discoredia, The Evil Dead, Drugs, Raves, and Other Ancient Evils

A peer of mine from the Books of the Dead Publishing, J.C. Michael, is out with a new book this week. Discoredia.  It’s a fantastic novel that has all the tone and content of a drug induced rave.

Discoredia on Amazon

The novel follows a handful of characters preparing for the ultimate rave party on New Year's Eve, made that way by a demonic drug dealer who introduces a new strain of drug. You'll be as enticed to use this drug as the main characters are by the time the party hits (or maybe that's just me). But this pill is laced with some supernatural, demonic ju-ju that brings forth the devils in all of us.

You know the madness of an ancient evil is going to hit its peak at midnight, and when it does the author shines. It's creative, witty, twisted, and intelligent.  I found myself marveling at the author's mind. 

 If you've read and enjoyed any Joe Hill, you will certainly love this.

I have been sober for over 20 years, yet I still am attracted to drug-related media.  Addicts and alcoholics, both active in their addiction and in recovery, seem to love their addiction related stories. Look at Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream, to name a few. Maybe it makes us feel more important than we are. Maybe it gives some empathy and understanding. Whatever it is, if the story doesn’t ring true, it’s like a doctor watching an ER episode. The drama just isn’t the same.

Example: I loved the whole Heroin Detox at the cabin storyline in the remake of The Evil Dead
I have to detox here?
Everything was done so well, from the character's attitude, her physical pain, to the mistrust from others.  What was not done well, however, was her little ceremony where she swears to never touch Heroin again and throws the syringe and the heroin down the well. No way does that happen. You use the heroin, and then throw away the syringe when it’s all done.
This is what Heroin Detox feels like

Reading Discoredia rang true and never had these moments. The author nails the drug and music scene in tone and content. The author understands the mind of a user; how the characters think, what they experience, the images, the change of consciousness, the madness that swirls.  It felt like a Lollapalooza mosh-pit (yeah, I've been in one, not really on purpose) and a Grateful Dead show put together.

But in Discoredia, the author takes the show to a place more deliciously dark than any concert I’ve been to.
Check it out: Discoredia on Amazon

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New York City Marathon 2013 Training

Here's what’s up with my New York City Marathon 2013 training.

After barely running in June, I finally started running for real around the 4th of July. On Sunday I ran 16 miles at the Hansons Shoe Store training run. I have done this training run many times over the years.  Great store, great people, good vibes.  This is the first year I have ever only run 16 miles. Usually I get there early and do 2-4 miles beforehand.  

But this year I’m behind on my long runs. And what a difference a year makes.  Last year I did the first 8 miles at 8:30 and the second 8 at 7:45. This year I averaged them all at 8:45, and it took effort.

This is partly due to where I am at and partly by design. I’m trying to get more miles in, and be slow and steady. I want to get to the start with no injuries, and even so, my pace is falling faster than Miley Cyrus’s stock.

I’m using less Eye of the Tiger and more of The Eye of the Puppy Dog. But you don’t run a marathon by being soft. I will need my beast mode before this is over. There will be blood and aches and pains and shredded legs. I'm feeling plenty shredded from my 16 and it's been 3 days. 

 I’ve only got 28 days of training left. In that time I hope to do 3 more long runs. One 18 miler and two 20 milers. To fit this in, I'm even going to have to cut my taper from the usual 21 days to 17 days.

My flight to New York is booked. I leave Saturday morning and return Monday morning. I will be staying in Greenwhich village, (the West Village I think I’m supposed to say) through a place I booked on  Airbnb is what I used when I went to Boston and is a great hotel alternative. Especially since when all is said and done, I will probably have $4,000 invested into New York trips just to cross some silly finish line in Central Park.  Actually, I did cross it last year, there just wasn’t a medal waiting for me, and I hadn’t run 26.2 to get there.
At the finish. 2013. Hey, where is everybody?

I've been researching how to get to the marathon start in Staten Island since I don’t want to catch a 6 am bus but will be catching the ferry. Usually I would just wing it and follow the crowd, but it seems there's a bunch of neurosis about getting to the ferry, which makes me feel wrong if I’m not being  neurotic about it too. So I have asked around and they all give me the same simple directions but my brain makes it more complicated. 

Sounds like the marathon itself.

There’s even a youtube video on how to get to the start. The narration begins with the ominous warning: "By the time you start the marathon, you may have spent more time getting there, than you will running it."

So, 28 more days to prepare for NYCM Redux. Part 2. The sequel. As big as I think this marathon will be after last year's event was canceled, nothing compares to this coming up Boston Marathon.  I can’t help but be jealous at other runners who have signed up.

Although on a completely different scale, I can relate to those who’ve had to wait over a year to cross the finish line, and train twice.  After last year, it’s one of those things that you fear is going to get swiped out from under you again at the last second. Like a monster hurricane is going to wake back up and slam NY. Or who knows what else. My guess the greatest threat to not crossing the finish line is somewhere inside me. Overtraining and making up for lost time is tops on the list.

Eye of the Puppy Dog.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fast Runs, Short Fiction, Dark Carnivals, and Cellar Doors

I would have written a shorter letter but didn't have time. (Blaise Pascal)

Rarely do I participate in running events less than a half marathon, and rarely have I published anything less than a novel. Both of them take an economy of foot-strikes on the pavement and fingertip strikes on the keyboard I don't come by naturally.

Well, that's changed. In a few months, I will have a short story in the collection  "Cellar Door: Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror (Volume 2)"   If you read STRAY and are familiar with the character nicknamed The Ancient Heroin Wizard, then you will be interested in this piece as it is loosely based on his legacy. The story is written to the song, "The Needle and The Damage Done" by Neil Young, and Beta-readers have reported outbreaks of 'awesome' from their lips upon reading.

Cellar Door: Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror
Volume 1 has just been released by the very well-known James Ward Kirk Fiction line. It has been edited and compiled by uber-diligent and ultra poetic falconer Shawna Bernard: Pen Name: Sydney Leigh. Check it out here: Cellar Door: Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror

Next month, I will also be featured in the Pen and Muse project The Dark Carnival (Writer and Illustrator Showcase) This artwork below by Cara Elizabeth is mesmerizing.

It's been said that once John Lennon died, Paul McCartney wrote his worst crap because having John out there as part of his audience raised him to his highest level.  That's kind of how I feel when I look at the list of fellow writers involved in the Pen and Muse Dark Carnival project. Unless I kill them all off, I am going to need to write something worthy of them to read. (or, perhaps, they shall be killing me off, thus relieving me from my duties)

Shorter pieces of works and shorter races mean you need to be sharper. There's no room to waste words, waste energy, and little time to recover if you screw up a mile or write a boring paragraph.

Godspeed. I have a November marathon to train for and some short fiction to write.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"I'm Gonna Pop Some Tags" For My Fall Marathon

The Thrift shop. 20 dollars in your pocket. 

This is all you need for a cozy, relaxing marathon morning. 

If you have a fall marathon, then put "visit the thrift shop" on your list of things to do right under "run three 20 milers."

Imagine. It's 6:45 am and it's freezing at the start. Standing in the chute, 45 minutes or so to race time. My muscles get tight, my extremities get ice covered. I feel like I need to waste energy just to stay warm, and then when the gun does go off, there's this urge to blast out a fast mile just to stop my teeth from chattering.

Forget that noise. Hit the thrift shop, and walk into the chute, like ‘what? I got some shoes that rock. ' Nah, you’re just pumped, you got some shit at the Thrift Shop.

Yep, during your taper, go get yourself in a big ass coat, from that thrift shop down the road and you'll feel like you're still at home while hanging out in the race-day chute.

Oversized sweats, oversized hoodies, layer upon layer upon layer. I mismatch myself Macklemore style. I'll take those flannel zebra jammies, second-hand, I rock that motherfucker. Then ditch it to the side of the road during the anthem, like a boxer taking off his robe, you're a bad-ass ready to beat some ass. And with any luck, you'll buy the same discarded outfit next year. I've thrown out a couple wardrobes of clothes in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Boston, all the while thinking, "Probably should have washed this, smells like Shalane Flanagan's socks… but Shiiiitttt… it was ninety-nine cents. "

On his way to the Marathon start.

 Metro Detroit has it's ValueWorlds, who even put out half off coupons. Go get some grandda's clothes. You'll look incredible.

But don't stop just for marathon morning wear. Blow yourself up. My rule is to never buy second-hand underwear, socks,  hats, or shoes, (Passin' up on those moccasins someone else's been walkin' in) but the rest is fair game. I’ve walked into work with some nice digs on, and was just foaming at the mouth to ask everyone how much they thought it all cost. Nobody would guess under ten bucks. I was so proud. 

So, I'm off to to the Thrift Shop. The New York City Marathon is on November 3rd, and it's sure to be freezing at the start. I’m looking for ‘the built in onesie with the socks on the motherfucker.'


Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror IS ALIVE!! $4.99 for Kindle $12.99 for paperback  (buy the paperback, and you can get t...