Bohemian Rhapsody and the Tears of Memory

Yesterday, the wife and I finally got our chance to see “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the big screen and the experience was overwhelming.

In the back of my mind, I thought of the words of my soon-to-be 20-year-old, saying this movie was the closest she ever would come to seeing Live Aid.

And yes, given the choice, I’d happily watch a YouTube of the performance with the full theater Dolby effects in play as Freddie Mercury owned the stage and, likely, large portions of the world that day.

I remember watching Live Aid, staying up past midnight (not a hard chore at 16) to watch the Australian performances – Midnight Oil, of course, but also something called the Electric Pandas. Funny what we remember.

Then a little bit of sleep before Wembley. There were multiple other performances but the one that stuck, the only one that stuck, was Queen. How could it not? Imagine what the emotion would have been had I, in those Internet-less days, had known Freddie Mercury was dying?

No matter. The point is, watching that recreation on the big screen, with the added energy provided by brilliant cinematography … I was moved to tears. The tears of memory. It was all I could do to not raise my own arms for Radio Gaga and sing every word every song …

If I’m honest, I can’t tell you the last time I cried at the movies. For that matter, there’s a decent chance it never has happened.

But it did yesterday. So thank you, Rami Malek. Thank you to everyone who was involved in the project. Thank you Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor.

And thank you, Freddie. Someone still loves you.

The New Indie BTR Pile

Earlier this week, I decided the time had come to put my money where my mouth was and support indie authors. Response, as expected was somewhere just north of insane.

Will I turn these reviews into a regular thing? Possible so. I’ve got more than enough mainstream series to binge. But I’m also fully in favor of supporting new voices that have decided to take a different path.

With that in mind, here are the first few books on my digital Books To Read pile, either already purchased or soon to be.

Indie authors: Want to add your book to the list? It’s pretty simple. Be ready for an honest review. If I don’t like it I won’t shred it online but I’ll let you know. Beyond that, all I ask is that you also review Where the Campaign Ends. Speaking to other indie authors, we’re in this together.

For everyone else, feel free to take a look at these yourself and let folks know what you think. Your next great read could be waiting!

Where the Campaign Ends – Amazon Excerpt

Just added!

Excerpt from Where the Campaign Ends

Copyright 2018, J.P. Dalton

“You look lost,” Maggie said mildly.

Ryan cocked his head to the side before shaking it, bringing himself back to life. “I, um,” he started, then regained his rhetorical footing. “I was looking for breakfast, actually.”

“Then you definitely are lost,” she said. “First time in town?”

“Obviously so.” Ryan stepped around the wood railing and sat down in one of the wood chairs on the patio. “Are you staying here?” he asked, gesturing toward the hotel with a tilt of his head.

“No, no,” she said, laughing briefly. “I just borrow the patio from time to time.”

“The owners don’t mind that you’re using the place as a yoga studio?”

“This is not my studio,” she said. “I simply prefer to practice my personal yoga in sight of mother ocean when the universe so allows. The owners have an understanding of her ways, and we have an understanding regarding the patio.”

“Her ways?”

Maggie stepped off her mat and walked to the patio’s edge by the glass. “Where I end up depends entirely on her,” Maggie said patiently. “If the tide allows, I’ll take a spot on the sand. But on days the tide decides to run as high as it does today, I come here.”

Ryan stood up and moved next to her. “Isn’t the tide a function of the moon and gravity?”

“So they say.” Ryan looked at her quizzically, and she couldn’t help but laugh. “I’m fully aware of the science,” she said quickly. “The moon in its orbit determines high tides and low tides. But as for how high or how low any given wave breaks upon the sand, scientific explanation doesn’t do the process justice. It lacks lyricism.”

“I’ll grant you that.” He extended his right hand toward her. “My name is Ryan, incidentally, though I’m not sure if it’s sufficiently lyrical.”

She smiled anew as she took his hand, a dimple creasing her right cheek but not the left. “It will suffice,” she said. “Maggie.”

Ryan turned toward the water, feigning a casualness he didn’t feel. “Where, if I might ask, is your real studio?”

Maggie stared at him for a moment or two, then shook her head. “It is where I need to be shortly lest I disappoint my students,” she said, seeing sadness flash across Ryan’s face at her deflection. “If you’re still feeling hungry, there’s a wonderful place up on Camino del Mar that features crepes.”

“More lyrical than simple eggs and bacon, I suppose?” He turned back in her direction, but she had stepped back across the patio and was rolling up her mat. His gaze lingered. “It was nice meeting you, Maggie,” he said, faking a smile as he started to walk back toward the parking lot. He was between the patio and the lifeguard station when she called out to him.

“How long are you here for, Ryan?”

“To be determined,” he said. “Why?”

She walked to him and touched him lightly on the left elbow. “Enjoy your breakfast,” she said with a smile and walked the opposite direction.

The Mind’s All A-Jumbled

Social media was such a simple concept way back when I sold real estate for a living full time. There only were a few dozen of us real estate blogging nerds and all we needed to know was how to write and how to add Technorati tags.

Now I’m trying to find the time to balance this website along with the virtually mandatory Facebook page and Instagram account, keeping content moving along on all of them. And, at the same time, trying to write additional novels.

It’s enough to leave one mind bottled, as Chaz Michael would put it.

Today’s dilemma – continue writing the paranormal thriller I’ve begun or heed my readers’ call for a sequel to Where the Campaign Ends. Further the stories of characters that already have captured people’s hearts or develop new characters.

I’ve got some rough ideas of where a sequel could go, but nothing beyond the “scribbling notes on a yellow pad” phase.

All of this makes me wonders how those authors who churn out a new novel every two months pull it off with such ease.

Back to Scrivener for some more writing …

Where the Campaign Ends, Excerpt Two

One more excerpt from “Where the Campaign Ends,” this one from the very beginning. Want to read the rest? Click over to the “Orders” page and you’ll be all set!

You feeling okay, Boss? You look like hell.”

Riley Evans stood next to her longtime employer Ryan Williams in the wings of the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Outside, furious storms rolled through north-central Alabama, and the pair could feel more than hear the muffled thunder rumbling through the building.

Williams had spent the past two decades working as a political consultant, but this night and the months preceding had been well outside his normal experience. He surveyed the scene unfolding around him at the Republican Party’s election results watch party with a mix of dismay and resignation. Across the stage, a jazz band attempted to infuse energy into the cavernous room with a series of old standards. Two big-screen televisions flanked the ballroom, currently showing welcome messages but ready to tune to local television as soon as polls closed and results started to come in. Candidates for offices big and small, from the hopeful future Senator Merrick Comstock to incumbent County Commissioner Gloria Castille, sat with well-wishers in various green rooms throughout the facility. And high above it all, tucked safely in netting in the rafters, red, white and blue balloons were waiting to be released in a deluge when Comstock’s victory had been assured. Dozens of well-dressed men and women mingled throughout the hall, drinking flutes of champagne and snacking on hors d’oeuvres delivered by waiters in faux black-tie attire. Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, all had gathered together for what they hoped to be a traditional celebration in what had been the most non-traditional of years.

For all the people there, it was the lack of attendance that most caught Ryan’s attention. Only a few hundred people had braved the thunderstorms pummeling Jefferson County to come to the party, rather than the 1,300 the center normally held. At least, Ryan hoped the droves stayed away because of the rain and not the equally stormy campaign the state had endured for the past few months. The air felt heavy from the humidity outside and tasted stale as it was circulated through the building’s heating system.

Ryan let Riley’s question sit and turned toward his assistant, who was more partner than employee after years working together. “We’ve never had anything like this,” he said.

“Rain happens.”

He glanced over his left shoulder and smirked. “I’m not talking about the rain. What in the hell are we doing here?”

Riley’s brows rose in surprise. This was the closest to an admission of error she had heard from the ever-confident Ryan since they’d met. “Are you feeling okay? You’re not really getting introspective on me after all these years, are you?” Riley put a hand on Ryan’s arm and turned him to face her. “You know the rules. Hell, Boss, you wrote the rules. We come in, we do the job. Win or lose, we do the best we can with what we have and that’s that. No emotions, no regrets.”

Ryan smiled thinly. “Did I really make you that cynical?”

“I’m really not, not like you,” she said. “If I was I wouldn’t have Nick waiting for me when this is done.”

“You’re really choosing this moment to harp on me again for not settling down with someone?”

“Not at all. But sometimes having a better half keeps a person from making a stupid decision, like coming across the country to get the wrong candidate elected.”

“That’s what I have you for,” he grunted.

Ryan turned back toward the half-empty auditorium, Riley following suit. “The rain’s going to screw with our numbers.”

“It happens.”

Riley took a look at the man standing beside her. He looked as he always did on Election Night. A tailored black suit accenting his trim 6-foot-2 frame, pinpoint white button-down shirt and, on this evening, a violet paisley tie. Power comes from the man, he always told her, not the tie. Straight brown hair suspended with product and combed up and to the right. Not the slightest hint of a five o’clock shadow appearing on his square jawline.

But, despite his usual outward appearance, something was different. This was the fourth election cycle they had worked together, and it was the first time she had seen Ryan melancholy as they awaited results. Even with defeat certain, he always had been able to draw energy from the end of the campaign, like a high-schooler on the last day of school. As she watched him, a single, unexpected bead of sweat rolled from his forehead, down his nose and dripped onto his tie.


He lifted his chin slightly in response.

“Seriously, are you feeling okay?”

“I’m just tired, Riley,” he said. “I’m very, very tired.”

Photo credit: Josh Putnam via Twitter

Pull of the Waves, Part Two – The Excerpt

After writing about the pull of the waves the other day, I thought it would only be logical to post an excerpt from “Where the Campaign Ends” involving that scene.


P.S. — Order the full version of “Where the Campaign Ends” on Amazon here.

Maggie Roberson kicked off her flip-flops and walked into the surf until the water covered her calves. She shivered against the bracing sea washing around her but smiled at the feeling of refreshment. Her body came to life as the fading sun shone on her face and every skin cell reacted to the touch of the ocean. She placed her feet a few inches apart and held her arms down by her sides at a slight angle. Tadasana. After a handful of deep breaths she closed her eyes, inhaled and spread her arms out wide, then moved them up and pressed her hands together over her head before lowering her arms with a long exhale until her hands were in front of her chest. Urdhva hastasana. On dry land this would be followed by additional yoga poses but here, in the rolling white surf, she instead moved her hands back to her sides in tadasana, the mountain pose, and focused on the water around her.

The cold kiss of the Pacific Ocean was bracing where it first made contact with her skin. Water splashed higher at random intervals, rolling onto the beach. Then gravity would take hold and the water would run back off of the sand, seeking its natural level, sucking the gritty mud out from underneath her feet as it retreated. She moved her awareness to the soles of her feet and felt each individual grain of sand pulling away, rushing across the silt already deposited from countless waves before and partially burying her sinking feet. She unconsciously shifted her weight until her feet emerged from the mud and she was back in balance.

Even as she did that, though, she could hear the gurgling as the retreating water met the incoming tide, the returning water moving out to sea underneath the broken wave heading toward shore, a portion of that wave moving counterclockwise as it was drawn with the water being pulled back into the ocean, the otherwise blue water turning tan from the circulating sand. The seemingly eternal sound lasted but a few seconds before the momentum of the wave won, sending water back up the beach and around her legs to start the process again. Except the process never was repeated identically, odd waves crashing hard and splashing water up her abdomen and across her chest, others barely reaching her feet before withdrawing. Every now and again, she would hear the loud crash of a particularly large wave cresting and breaking a couple dozen feet offshore to signify the end of a set, and then she’d count the seconds until the fast-moving water reached her.

The ocean, she thought, was both oblivious to her presence and fully aware, moving around her as if she were no more than a pebble while simultaneously pulling at her, enticing her to become part of the system. She slowly became aware of the rhythm of her own heartbeat, consistent as the waves yet predictable in a way the water never could be.

Soon the sixty-degree water would take its toll and strip her feet of feeling. Soon the muscles of her legs, though soothed by the cool water, would ask her to shift her weight rather than remain still against the odds. Once the sunset had released everyone from its spell, the sounds of activity around her, the breathing of beach walkers and the jingle of dog collars and leashes and even the faint conversation from the restaurants behind her, would compete for her attention with the ocean and the inner stillness she had created.

But not now. Not yet.

Another wave rolled in and she took another cleansing breath, allowing the briny aroma to sink deep into her lungs as a slight smile crossed her face in the sun’s final rays.

The Pull of the Waves

A couple of years ago, my wife and I were planning a trip to Disneyland. Out of nowhere, she asked if I’d mind detouring and heading down to Del Mar, north of San Diego. She’d found a motel on the beach – I mean, right on the sand, yards from the water – and thought it would be fun to splash in the water for a little and then drive up the coast to Orange County.

Thus a fascination with Del Mar was born.

But even beyond that, there was one moment when I stood in the surf that I knew I’d have to write about. I simply closed my eyes and focused on the salty water as it splashed around me. And I noticed that when the surf retreated, the sand was pulled out from under my feet.

I shifted slightly to maintain my balance, only to have another wave wash sand over my toes, up to my ankle, and then suck the sand back out from under, lowering me further.

It was a minor moment, no more than a couple of minutes. But, for all the times I’d stood in the ocean before, it was something I’d never noticed. Maybe the lesson then was just to slow down and take a better look at the beauty that surrounds us.

Ugh, He’s in Politics

Confession – I started writing “Where the Campaign Ends” back in the tail end of 2016. At the time, I still was a bit of a political nerd. I’d always enjoyed the give and take, the backroom dealing and all the things I saw during my time as a political reporter that the general public never sees.

Needless to say, politics now isn’t what it was back in the early 1990s when I was a regular at the Arizona Legislature. Even the mention of the word gives people the creeps at best, extreme nausea at worst. Which begs the question – why have my protagonist, Ryan Williams, working in politics?

The simplest answer is that it’s a world I knew, at least on a slightly better than superficial level. And the fact that his choice of career would turn off many people makes his story with his eventual love, Maggie Roberson, all the more remarkable.

She simply needed to get to know him and realize there was more to him than what the job title entailed. Does she? You can find out in the book itself …

Where the Campaign Ends – On Sale Now

This wouldn’t be much of an author’s blog if I didn’t start by promoting my debut novel, “Where the Campaign Ends.”

You can find “Where the Campaign Ends” on sale at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats. And, for those who have Kindle Unlimited, the book also is part of the Kindle Lending Library!

For those who prefer Barnes and Noble, you also can find the paperback version of the book there.

I hope you fall in love with the characters as much as I did!