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Friday the 13th Series

When people hear Friday The 13 they immediately think 80’s slasher exploitation movies; a madman with a machete chasing girls in crop tops. And that’s what we thought when we were approached about reimagining the series of movies into a televisions show.   And yes, –...

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Halloween

Just as I was leaving to Trick or Treat on Halloween when I was 3 years old, we got the call.  I had a baby brother and his name would be Steven. My grandmother, whom we called 'Mom' (which would prove to be confusing to say the least to have both a mother and a...

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Where Did You Go, Little One?

Where Did You Go, Little One? Like many dads and moms, when my children, Aridae and Wills, were each wee tots, I’d tuck them into bed. Just before I’d sing or hum The Beatles’ lullaby to end all lullabies, Good Night, I would playfully throw the sheet over their heads...

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TIME FOR A CONFESSION

People often ask how it is that we can come up with some many twist and turns, ups and downs, ins and outs when writing the Pretender.  Well, this is a subject that we have been reluctant to discuss for fear of our methods would be copied and duplicated by others. ...

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The Votes Are In!

The auditing team in SL-1 has analyzed, categorized, and scrutinized the votes for the Saving Luke cover… and the results are in!

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Listen!

  I’m not sure what it was, but something really weird happened to me last summer. It started like this: I’m taking a sip of coffee when the woman smiles at me, slightly tilts her head and answers my question by saying, “When I tell people what I do for a living...

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Listen!

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I’m not sure what it was, but something really weird happened to me last summer. It started like this: I’m taking a sip of coffee when the woman smiles at me, slightly tilts her head and answers my question by saying, “When I tell people what I do for a living they think I’m crazy and zone out.”

    “What is it that you do?”

    She said, “I teach classes about communicating with your higher energy entities.”

    Unable of coming up with an appropriate response I just raised a Spock eyebrow.

    She grinned, “I’m an Angel Whisperer.” Then her eyes twinkled.  Real twinkles. Just like in the movies.

    “You’re a what?” I asked, taking a sip.

    “An Angel Whisperer. I can communicate with the heavenly spirits.”

    Trying not to blow French roast out of my nose, I smiled back and said, “Why would they zone out when you say a bat-shit-crazy thing like that?”

    Now, I didn’t say that out loud.

    I said that in my head.

    Out loud I said, “How fascinating. What exactly does that mean?”

    She twinkled again, then rambled on about how she asks questions to angels, listens to their answers and then repeats them to those of us who can’t hear.

    While she was saying this I wasn’t hearing her, or angels; all I could hear was my voice in my head yelling at my wife for roping me into helping her teach a communications seminar for a women’s networking association on how to sell their businesses in 3 minutes or less. Essentially she’d conned me into using my 25 years of storytelling experience as a television writer and novelist to help these women narrow down what they do in a way to hook people so they will listen to their pitch. Sort of what the short scene at the top of your favorite TV show does to make you watch the episode.

    Little did I know I was the one about to be hooked.

    Anyhow, as Angel Lady meandered on about how what she did was based on energy vortexes, time continuums and other dynamic forces, it all turned into Charlie Brown adult wonka-wonk speak and I was no longer listening. I was thinking about how frustrated I’d been with my father and his declining health and that he hadn’t planned for anything and how we had just had to move him into a home that was costing a fortune.

    Still I did my best to plaster on a happy face. But the fake smile shattered when I suddenly zoned back in when I heard myself saying to Miss Whisperer, “Are you outta your effing mind?”

    Now, I think I also said that inside my head – but to this day I’m not positive, because she immediately commented. “I used to think I was out of my mind.”  As she said that I noticed the twinkle fading from her eyes. “Especially while I was growing up.”

    She then told me the following:

    “When I was sixteen I was driving through Laurel Canyon on a misty afternoon when I heard a male voice in the backseat say, “You should get in the right lane.” I looked around, even though I knew no one was there. I’d been hearing voices my whole life and people made fun of me, so I had told myself not to listen anymore. But a few seconds later I heard him again. “Get in the right lane!” I shook it off and kept driving, and then all of a sudden, he screamed: “GET IN THE RIGHT LANE!” I swerved right and the second I did, a dog ran into the street from my left, right in front of a truck in the opposing lane. He locked on his brakes. I slammed on mine. The road was slick and the truck spun 360 degrees into the left lane right where had I not swerved, we would have hit head on. Instead we came to a stop inches apart. Stunned, I looked up to see the dog touch its nose to my bumper.  As he wagged his tail and ran off, I again heard the voice.  He said, “You can drive in the left lane now.”

    “I knew he was an angel.” The whisperer finally looked at me. “Since that day I decided to ‘listen.’”

    It was suddenly very quiet in the room.

    And in my mind.

    I felt something – peculiar – in my chest.

    But this wasn’t the weird thing I was going to tell you about. In fact, this was only the tip of the weird iceberg that would float through my summer.  Anyhow, I stammered something about how when people ask what she does – tell them that story.

    They will want to know more.

    I know I did.

    So I decided to take her class.

    I should state right here I’ve never believed in psychics, or mediums or mysticism. So to justify doing this I told myself, “Hey – I’m in television. For years, along with my partner, Craig Van Sickle, I’ve written a show and now a series of novels about characters, some of which have an ‘inner-sense’ that guides them. Maybe there is something I can learn from her that can help me with that. Who knows, there might be a series in this Angel Whisperer stuff.  Yeah, that’s it.  That’s my reason for going.”

    A few weeks later I’m driving to the ‘seminar’ with two things on my mind.  One, how ridiculous this will probably be.  And two, the guilt I was feeling for hardly ever visiting my father in his care facility.  Maybe it wasn’t guilt, maybe it was frustration, but whatever it was it was eating at me.

    See, the truth is I never really knew my father as a father.  My folks got divorced when I was three and I have no nuclear family memories.  As a child he was a pleasant enough guy on the occasional weekend and summer vacation. And as a young adult, a fun person to go to football games with.  But he was never really a father.  Then one day, as a real adult with kids of my own, my father left his third wife in Texas and came to visit – and the irascible bastard never left.

    Now I was forced to take care of a man who’d never taken care of me.  I was lost deep in my head thinking about how bizarre that concept was when I pulled up in front of the little house in Burbank.

    I decided to put off thinking about dad until another time.

    I had some Angels to Whisper with.

    The class consisted of me and five middle-aged women. All of these ladies were very serious about the spiritual encounter we were about to have and clearly looking for some answers to fill emotional holes in their souls. Looking around this group of women you could easily find in any strip mall in the world, I suddenly found myself saying, “What the hell am I doing here?”

    I said that on the inside; on the outside I said, “Hi, my name is Steve.”  So, as is my nature when in semi-uncomfortable situations, I immediately found myself slipping into my typical class clown  persona, flirting with the ladies to get their minds and mine off the subject at hand.

    And I wasn’t even sure why I felt that way.

    I won’t go through the class beat for beat, but it started with a prayer about opening yourself up to your angels and their guiding voices.  After the first prayer, and my fourteenth joke, I felt myself feeling – well, scared.

    Then something weird began happening.

    It’s not the really weird thing this story is all about, but it’s part of it.

    I started hearing something from the voice in the back of my head. It started as a whisper, then full voice repeating the same word over and over and over again.

    The word was ‘listen.’

    I shook my head, chalked it up to psyching myself out and tried to tune it out and focus on what the other students were saying, but it kept echoing, until it drowned out even their voices.

    At that point my fear turned to a bit of dizziness.

    So I wrote the word ‘listen’ on a single piece of paper on my pad to make it stop ringing in my head.  About 20 minutes later the lady leading the group passed around a booklet for us all, in the order it came to them, to read a page from. When the book was placed in my hand, I turned the page to my reading – which was entitled – ‘listen’.

    No shit.

    Which of course completely freaked me out.  All of a sudden Mr. Jokester wasn’t so cynical.

    I showed the group of women my pad with the same word written on it so they too could share in my – ‘whatever the hell it was’ that had just happened.

    The ‘listen’ thing seemed to resonate particularly strong with the woman sitting next to me.  From the first instant I got along with Melissa as if we’d been old friends, which made me feel very comfortable with her.

    What happened next – not so much.

    We were instructed to ask our angels a question and then ‘listen’ and write down exactly what you heard their voices say.  I won’t go into great detail here except to say I sarcastically ‘asked my angels’ to clarify for me just how ridiculous this whole thing was. The voice I heard laughed and said it was some kind of ‘bullshit weird.’  Now, I assumed the voice wanted to say ‘weird bullshit’ – and had just transposed those words – yet following the instructions, I wrote it down exactly as I heard it.

    Asked for a volunteer to read aloud what we’d heard, the class clown raised his hand.  But while I read my cynical answer to my cynical question – complete with the words transposed, under her breath I heard Melissa say – “oh wow.”

    She’d said “oh wow’ for a reason – for when it was her turn she read what she’d heard ‘from the angels’ it came out she had written down the exact same sentence with the same words “bullshit weird” transposed.

    Melissa seemed to have a very strong spiritual connection to her inner-sense.  During the rest of the class, she repeatedly surprised the other ladies with what their angels were telling her. She had an uncanny knack to connect to what the specific holes in their souls were, especially about deceased loved ones. She spoke to them in freakish detail along with objects she saw around them – with a specificity that seemed to astonish everyone.

    Somewhere along the way it all caused me to feel nauseous.

    She hadn’t seen or heard anything associated with me, as far as I could tell, yet after the class I felt compelled to talk to her.  So we went and had coffee.

     While sipping a latte at a Starbucks in Burbank, (where angels are not commonly known to hang for an afternoon jolt of caffeine), she suddenly got this odd look on her face and then began relating things she said she was hearing regarding me.

    What she told me about myself was dead on. They were things I’d never told anyone.   She then told me two things I will never forget: that ‘forgiveness’ was something I had to get in touch with.

    And that I had to pay for the coffee.

    I sort of slept off the novelty of the day, and in the days that followed either let it go or buried it in my subconscious.  While the Angel Whisperer day had been unique, I’d convinced myself the strange things that occurred were merely coincidence and that there really wasn’t a TV show in it.  I went back to the typical day to day of real life. Writing the novels, trying to avoid my pain in the ass of a father who, the more his health deteriorated, the more I found myself more resentful towards, hoping not to be asked to help any more women learn to communicate their businesses and generally sliding back into the routine of life.

    But a few weeks after I’d left it all behind, Melissa emailed me.

    She said she’d been having recurring dreams about me and asked if we could meet for coffee again to discuss it.

    Before we met I found myself ‘hearing’ the word ‘listen’ again.

    It seemed to be in my consciousness no matter where I was. It was driving me crazy. And while I was still discounting everything – I also found myself compelled to delve into the forgiveness concept. I didn’t know what it was, so I Googled it and found myself staring at prayers on the subject on the Internet.

    That search occurred this past Sunday.

    On Monday I saw her again and she told me that for days and for nights, over and over, she’d ‘been told’ by the angels that she must reiterate to me the need for forgiveness in my life. She then pulled out something she’d brought me – they were forgiveness prayers for that purpose.

    These weren’t the same prayers I’d found on the Internet, but the idea of her bringing what I’d looked up just the previous day got me a little uneasy. All of a sudden I started to feel the same fear bubbling up as well as a bit of the nausea I’d experienced in the class.

    Then if that wasn’t enough – on Tuesday, my wife, out of the blue says to me, “You have a lot of unresolved anger toward your father and I think it’s really important that you forgive him.”

    Of course I come back with “Have you been talking to those ladies at the class I went to? Melissa and the other junior whisperers?”  My wife had no idea what I was talking about, but when I told her what had transpired she said – “Maybe you should ‘listen.’”

    Okay – two or three times is a coincidence – but this is like I was being shouted to from on high. “Okay,” I thought, “I’m listening, I’m listening.”

    The truth was I had a lot of unresolved animosity with my dad.  He was not the father I hoped he’d be as a child, nor as a young adult and now as a grown man. I had a particular and focused amount of anger that had been bubbling inside me toward him.

    So Wednesday morning I go up to my office and I decided to do the forgiveness prayer Melissa had given me for my father and for myself regarding my feelings toward him.

    As instructed, I spoke to my angels and then said the prayers three times with as much feeling and conviction as I could.

    And strangely enough afterwards I felt – calm. Like all of the anger I’d had about him not being the father I had always wished I’d had somehow lifted. Now I’m not saying I heard angels – but I felt like someone or something was looking down and smiling on me.

    Thirty minutes later I got a call to say my father had died.

    He’d passed twenty minutes earlier – peacefully in his sleep – literally within minutes of my prayer.

    That’s the really weird thing that happened.

    Regardless of your relationship, saying goodbye to a parent can never be easy – and yet I found myself strangely at peace about it.

    Maybe because I listened, maybe because I forgave him, maybe because I’d forgiven myself. Or maybe everything weird that happened to me that summer was a coincidence.

    I don’t really know what those inner voices are.

    But I’m going to continue to listen and I hope you also listen to yours as well.

You can follow Steve on twitter @pretendersteve

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