Andrew Nance

Nov 23rd, 2010 | By | Category: Author

Happy Fourth of July!cupojoe

Celebrating with a big ol’ cup of patriotic Joe.  We have great festivities in St. Augustine that culminate with a wonderful fireworks display over the Castillo de San Marcos.FortFireworksedited_000

I’ve attended many years, but this year I’m not leaving the island to go into town. It just gets too darn crowded.

Very happy to report that the Liza Royce Literary Agency is representing my first manuscript aimed at adults. It’s entitled Temperance, and deals with Charly Bloom, who hunts for two serial killers, the first when she’s thirteen, and the second twenty-three years later. My wife and I will be flying up to New York to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and plan on having dinner with Liza and her husband one night. We’ll also visit a couple of friends, including Richard Mover, an amazing acting coach. And Gregory Sheppard, who sings operatic bass, and has performed many times at the Metropolitan Opera and is the creative director at Opera Ebony New York. gregory

Not sure what role Gregory is playing here, but it looks great. He’s the fellow on the right. We’re going to see some jazz, The Grandmothers of Invention (the instrumentalists from Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention) at the Iridium and Gato Barbieri at the Blue Note. I’ve been a fan of his sax playing since the 70s. We’re also catching a couple of Broadway and off Broadway shows.

And though I’ve never acted in the Big Apple (someday perhaps), I am having fun with our historic (sort of) show in historic St. Augustine at the Colonial Quarter. Here are some photos.ccrbroomccr4picoplayers5picoplayers6picoplayers7picoplayers8picoplayers10

It’s a very fun show, lots of comedy, slapstick, improv, magic, audience interaction, and even swordplay. If you travel to St. Augustine, look up the Colonial Quarter and the Colonial Crew Revue. Would love to see you in the audience.

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Just back from a walk with my dog at Matanzas Inlet. It’s a beautiful inlet south of St. Augustine.

matanzas

There’s also an old Spanish fort there.

Fort Matanzas 1

Back in 1565, during the first days of the Spanish in the new world, the Spanish captured several hundred Frenchmen who had a settlement north of St. Augustine. When they learned the Spanish had arrived, they sailed south to attack the Spanish, but instead ran into a hurricane which sank the ships. Those captured French were put to death there, and that was when it received the name Matanzas, which is old Spanish for massacre.

If you ever come to St. Augustine, that’s one of the sights you can take in. I also hope you’ll come see me perform at the newly opened Colonial Quarter on St. George St. in historic St. Augustine. While an informative and entertaining look at centuries of history in St. Augustine, we’re also putting together a comedic show for weekend evenings. I play Don Ramone Bellagrande, the leader of a traveling band of performers who stop in St. Augustine to perform for the Spanish troops, but our newest member gets in trouble by wooing the governor’s daughter. The show officially opens on June 22nd. Here’s some photos from last night’s rehearsal.

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From left to right is William ‘Mayhem’ Mcrea (the magician and drunk of our group), Madi Mack (plays Rosa de Jardin, the young ingenue) , Andrew Deveroux (El Capitan de la Guardia), and yours  truly.ccr2

 

 

 

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It’s one of those lazy Saturdays. I didn’t wake up until almost 11am. Which isn’t as lazy as it sounds, I woke up at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so after tossing and turning awhile, I got up and wrote until about 7am, went back to bed, and dropped right off. I read somewhere that Da Vinci only slept in little bits. He’d get an hour or two, wake up and be creative for a few hours, and then nap another hour or two, and so on. Hey, if it worked for him.Leonardo-Da-Vinci

Got gold fever the other day, or make that ambergris fever. Ambergris is a substance formed in the stomach of a sperm whale, usually around the beak of a squid it’s eaten, and then comes out when the whale poops (scientific term). It floats on the surface of the ocean for years, and the older it is, the lighter its color, and the more valuable it becomes. It floats and floats until winds and currents finally drive it to shore. While walking my German shepherd, Bella, around Matanzas Inlet a few weeks ago, I thought I’d found some. Here’s what it looked like:ambergrissmall

Ambergris is an ingredient in high end perfume and on the world market sells for $25 a gram, over $700 an ounce, over $11,000 a pound. This chunk weighed over two pounds! Can you see why I was excited! I checked with three ambergris brokerage firms, two in New Zealand and one in France, and they all told me I was the proud owner of a two pound chunk of stinky animal fat. Sigh. And here I’d already planned my European vacation. I did get one good thing out of it, an idea for a future story.

 

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My goodness, it’s a cold spring in Florida. Today, 4/20/13, it’s not even hitting 60 degrees. Add the rain and I figure it’s time to stay inside and do things I need to be catching up on, like updating my website. Just last week I helped film an episode of the Travel Channel’s Monumental Mysteries. I play an old retired military man, Colonel William Mann, who lived on Lake George in New York state. Colonel Mann

An avid fisherman, he and a friend, artist Harry Watrous, made a bet as to who could catch the biggest trout that summer. One day in 1904, Colonel Mann rowed his boat by Watrous on the shore and held up a forty pound trout for him to see. Watrous thought he’d lost the bet until he learned that Mann had a big fake trout made out of wood so he’d win the bet. Angry, Watrous decided to get even with his friend and made a fake sea monster. Here’s an actual photo of what he made.

Lake George Monster

Pretty cheesy, huh? Well it scared the heck out of Colonel Mann. Watrous so enjoyed it, that he’d break it out every now and then to frighten visitors to Lake George. This is a photo of me and Ella Romaine, a young actor who played one of the children who saw the “monster”.

Colonel Mann and Ella

While the “monster” scared Colonel Mann, what scared me on the film shoot was the final shot of the day. Three of us in a six foot dinghy in the middle of Salt Run when a thunderstorm moved in and lighting was coming down all around. I’m not sure when the actual episode will air, so keep an eye out for Monumental Mysteries on the Travel Channel.

Here’s another venture I’m getting into. One of our historical areas in downtown St. Augustine has just been refurbished and made bigger and better by treasure hunter and entrepreneur Pat Croce, and the historical arm of the University of Florida. It’s now called the Colonial Quarter and shows what different centuries were like in old St. Augustine. They’ve put together a show that starts at the end of June, but we did a sneak peek. That’s me in red playing Don Ramone Bellagrande, the leader of the Picolata Players, a traveling band of performers who want to set up shop and perform for the soldiers in the Castillo de san Marcos.

CQR

Put me in a costume, and I’ll have fun.

CQR1

That’s me with Diego on the end, then Mollie, who I’ve done two shows with, and Sydney. Sydney’s folks own a seventy two foot schooner in St. Augustine, and I used to crew for them.

CQR2

CQR3

CQR4

So, if you find yourself coming to St. Augustine for a vacation, make sure you check out the Colonial Quarter and take in the Colonial Crew Revue.

A couple of things of note. Unfortunately the release for my next book, Graphic, has been pushed back to sometime next year. And I had a nice response to my new Story in Progress feature on the website. So I think I’ll write another one and post the segments as I write them down. Enjoy.

 

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A wonderful letter from Delilah in Montrose, Colorado (and wonderfully written, I hope she writes stories).  She wrote that Daemon Hall, “…kept me in suspense and I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what happened next.” That is sweet music to an author’s ears, we’re always trying to keep our writing compelling enough that the reader has a hard time putting the book down. I also liked that she wrote, “I kept asking myself questions about the reality we live in.” Again, that makes me happy, because for most of the book I wanted the reader to question whether what took place was truly happening or not. I may be one hundred percent wrong, but I believe that what we perceive as reality is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what is truly going on in our world, in our dimension, in reality. I truly believe that good and evil are not just concepts, but powers that can influence people into deeds good or bad. I explore that a little bit in my next novel, Graphic, which is due out sometime October or November.

The art of Hieronymus Bosch reflects that in chilling fashion.

 

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Happy New Year. We survived the Mayan Apocalypse and find ourselves firmly rooted in the year 2013.  On New Years Day I like to look back to when I was a kid and what was predicted for us as we moved into the 21st century. Since the Mayan Apocalypse was forefront, I remember some of the global cataclysms predicted by scientists. Believe it or not, when I was a kid it wasn’t global warming they warned us about, it was global cooling. They said pollutants in the atmosphere would block the sun’s rays and we’d have another ice age.

Another prediction held that the world would have been overpopulated by now and society would have broken apart and food shortages would result in mankind descending into a Mad Max world of foraging bands of cannibals (would love to write a post apocalyptic book like that).

On the more positive side of things, there were predictions of space travel for everyone, robots in every house, and cities on the moon and undersea.

I think very few foresaw that our technological leaps and bounds would be made with computers and in cyberspace.

I hope 2013 is a great year for you. And remember to click over to my story in progress and recheck it now and again.

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I’m trying something new on the website. If you’ll look at the various headings, you’ll now find, Story in Progress. I figure this will help me keep up with writing short stories. Every now and then I’ll write a paragraph or two or three and post it there, kind of like the old serials they used to publish in magazines. With the Mayan calendar apocalypse coming up, I thought I’d start something along those lines called The Joshua Horn. Check back every now and then as I add to the story.

Congratulations to my son, Will. He graduated from college with a bachelors in psychology and will go for his masters.

That’s Will with me when we were in a local production of The Crucible.

Will from one of our road trips.

Will is hoping to get into forensic psychology.

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As well as writing, I have been crazy busy as of late. We wrapped up the season opening performance of Big River at Limelight Theatre. It’s the stage musical version of Huckleberry Finn. My wife directed and I played the part of King, one of the con men Huck and Jim meet as they float down the Mississippi on a raft. Here’s some photos from the show:

Above is King, Huck, and Duke (King’s partner in crime). What’s cool is that the actor who plays Duke is one of my wife’s former middle school drama students, Zach McLean, though we call him ZachBob. I’ve acted with him before when he was in middle school and my wife put on Oliver. I was brought in to play Fagin, of course.

Here I’m playing the Royal Nonesuch, a phony freak of nature with one big breast in the middle of its chest, an eye in the middle of its nose, and hound dog ears that hang down to here.

My favorite shot from the show. King and Duke are about to be found out as frauds while impersonating a dead man’s relatives in the hopes of stealing the inheritance.

My next performance will take place at Flagler College. I’m thrilled they invited me to play the role of Adam in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Flagler has an impressive theater department, so it’s a great honor for me to take part.

My poor dog, Bella, is a German Shepherd, and they’re prone to hip dysplasia. She was out running in our backyard and her leg popped out of her hip. We had surgery done, something called an FHO. They cut into the hip, chisel off the ball of bone at the top of the leg bone that fits into the hip, and scar tissue forms and fills the hole.  I think after the initial pain that first night, the worst part for her was wearing the cone of shame.

Luckily she is now on the road to recovery.

My wife, JoAnn and I got to take part in a short movie called Spirit of the Woods. She has a student named Gavin, and his uncle is Will Napier, who’s written a couple of novels for Random House. He works with a video company in Jacksonville, Florida called Rebel Yell Studios. They entered a Vimeo.com contest for a short horror spoof. He wrote it, they filmed it, and we got to play roles. I’m Sheriff Marv and my wife plays my wife, Estelle. Click on the link, they did a great job. Oh, and make sure you watch through the credits.

Spirit of the Woods

 

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Approaching Halloween, what was always a wonderful time of year for me. I loved dressing up in costumes, and if it was a monster costume, then all the better. I remember when I was in high school and several of us drove up to the mountains for a Halloween party. I took my girlfriend at the time, I believe her name was Debbie. I went as the Phantom of the Opera, not the lovey-dovey Broadway Phantom, but the creepy Lon Chaney, Sr. Phantom.


I made a half-mask out of a plastic batting helmet and then melted half my face (not really). I found a recipe for melting flesh that including flavorless, colorless gelatin and toasted bread crumbs. The makeup was so good, Debbie wouldn’t kiss me the whole time I had it on.

In honor of Halloween I’m reposting something I put in last year when a young adult website asked for authors to write about real supernatural experiences they’ve had. I call it The Cabin.

 

In the summer of 1974 I had long brown hair, and on the night I’m to tell you about I probably wore faded hip-hugger bellbottoms with numerous multi-colored patches sewn over the many holes. My favorite shirt was from Mexico and chances are good I wore that. It was white cotton with purple stitching around the open neckline. I lived in Greensboro, North Carolina and two of my friends and I were going on a triple date. Chris was the high school football star, six feet four inches and built like Conan the Barbarian. It had been months since the end of football season and his hair had grown out into a loose afro. My other friend was Brian, one of those funny guys who slings one-liners until your ribs start to hurt from laughing. His hair was blond and long (of course). Over the years I’ve forgotten who the girls were or what we’d done earlier in the evening, but what happened later is firmly imbedded in my mind.

My friends and I were a nomadic bunch, even before we had our licenses we were always on the move, either walking or hitchhiking. We spent alot of time trudging through the North Carolina woods, of which there were plenty. Doing so, we’d found some interesting places including the discovery of an old abandoned log cabin a half-mile off Westridge Drive, a busy road. The dirt road to the cabin was overgrown and obstructed, and unless you knew exactly where it was it was virtually invisible. It had once been a doctor’s office and there were some pieces of antique medical equipment including an old examination table. Some shelves still held a few medical books, and though they were rotting away, we could see dates in a few of them. They were over a hundred years old.

Chris drove that night. He had a blue 1960-something Buick station wagon that we called the B’nick, because the ‘u’ in the Buick logo on the back had flipped upside down and looked like an ‘n’. Brian and I squeezed into the backseat with our dates, Brian next to the right-side door and I was next to the left, the girls between us. A few hours into the date, probably after midnight, we decided we’d take the girls to the cabin. We pulled into the dirt drive that led there, the branches and limbs of the overgrown scrub and trees brushing against the car. The dirt road was about a half-mile long and incredibly bumpy, so we had to go slow. Finally we pulled into an open space that included the cabin. It sat to the right of the open space as we drove in. To the left was a flat, dirt-covered area, at the back of which lay a pine tree that had fallen months before. Chris turned the car around in this open area, the lights first sweeping the cabin, then the fallen tree, and the surrounding woods. We didn’t see anyone else, at least not then.

Chris parked the car so that it aimed at the drive leading out and shut it off. The night was dark, very dark, which is conducive to getting a date to snuggle close. We talked awhile until one of the girls said something that still gives me goosebumps.

“There’s someone back there,” she whispered.

We looked out the back window and saw someone sitting on the fallen pine tree. It may seem impossible that we could see a person on such a dark night in the middle of the woods, but there was a reason we could; the figure was luminous, dimly glowing. As I write this, I can still picture it (though we felt it was a male figure, I can’t help but refer to him as it), on that tree. It sat facing us in pretty much the same position as that famous sculpture, The Thinker. It rested its chin in its right hand, and that elbow on its thigh. There were no features to the face or hair on the head, just the glow. It didn’t wear a shirt or shoes, but had on brown wool slacks through which you could see the luminosity, much like holding a piece of fabric up to a light bulb.

The six of us stared at the figure for at least five minutes, and in all that time it didn’t move. Grasping for rational answers, we finally theorized that it was a dummy someone had put there to scare people. The reason it was luminous, we guessed, was that the dummy had been painted with day-glo paint and when Chris pulled in and turned around, his headlights triggered the paint enough for a soft glow. Feeling somewhat confident that what we were seeing was along those lines, Brian and I boldly said we’d investigate (I’m sure we were hoping our bravery would impress our dates). We opened the doors, got out, paused to look at the glowing dummy…and it moved. It lifted its head from its hand as if to look at us, after a few seconds it rested its head in its other hand.

Intense vertigo hit me and it took me a moment to realize everyone was screaming, including me. Brian and I leapt back into the car, shut the doors, and locked them. I looked back as the figure stood and screamed something about it coming. Chris had, at some point, taken the key out of the ignition and was blindly stabbing at the dash trying to get the key back in.

We were all yelling at him, “Go! Go! Go! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!”

Finally he slid the key in the ignition and started the car. In his terror, however, Chris forgot where all the controls were and started chanting, “The lights, the lights, the lights, where are the lights?”

He yanked knobs off the dashboard and threw them over his shoulder. I specifically remember when he hit the windshield wipers and they started squeaking back and forth over the dry windshield, which caused Chris, Brian, and I to laugh hysterically at the hopelessness of the situation. Finally Chris found the lights and we were speeding down the narrow dirt road at fifty miles an hour, each bump sending us airborne and slamming our heads against the roof.

That’s my Halloween submission for you. Every word of it is true. Countless people say there are no such things as ghosts. I know differently, because in the summer of ‘74, when I was sixteen, I saw one on a dark night at an old cabin in the woods.

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Busy, busy, busy. Is that a good enough excuse for not having posted for quite awhile? Probably not, but truth be told, procrastination runs in my blood. As I’ve posted earlier, I’ve been out to Texas and back some to see my parents. Things are fine, but Dad had his fourth hip replacement, so I’ve been visiting more than the norm.

I’m also in another community theater production which starts its run on Thursday at Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine. We’re putting on the musical, Big River, the story of Huck Finn and Jim the runaway slave as they make their way down the mighty Mississippi.

This is what our set looks like. If you’ve read the book (and you should read both it and Tom Sawyer), then you’ll know the character I play, King.

King and Duke are a couple of carpetbagger con men who Huck gets mixed up with.
If you’re in the north Florida area, I hope you’ll come see the show.

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Got a nice message from Stephen who said,

Dear Mr. Nance,
I just want to say I read your book when it first came out in 2007. Your work is fantastic and I’d like to say it has truly left a mark on me. From beginning to end I’ve read Daemon Hall over five times. Each time I find it more interesting and creepy.

Big compliment there, Stephen. I have a handful of books that I enjoy so much I read them over and over. The wonderful and great Ray Bradbury just passed away, and I will probably reread Something Wicked This Way Comes for the seventh or eighth time.

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Just got back from a ten day trip to Amarillo, Texas to visit my parents. They were born and raised there, though they moved away when they started a family. A few years after Dad retired they moved back.

Amarillo is also the home of The Big Texan.

If you can eat their entire 72 ounce steak meal, it’s free. And no, I haven’t attempted the challenge. Another unique Amarillo landmark is the Cadillac Ranch, where, years ago, an eccentric rancher would bury his year old Cadillacs nose down after buying a new one. Now you can take your cans of spray paint and create auto art.

How did my poor wife handle herself while I was off to the Lonestar State? She and her sister took a trip to England, Wales, and Ireland.

They visited the studio where the Harry Potter movies were filmed.

I was a bit jealous but felt better when she brought me a gift of a Donegal tweed hat.

While in Texas I got an incredible amount of work done on my next novel entitled In Temperance. It’s my first attempt at a book aimed at adults and it comes in at about 600 plus pages.

I finished the first draft this morning at 4:30am. Though the first draft is done, there’s lots more to do. Next I’ll print it up, go through it with a red pen and make a gazillion edits and changes, but that’s the most fun part of the process for me.

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Been a few weeks since reporting in. I find when I get close to ending a novel, that’s all I want to work on. In Temperance is turning into quite the convoluted tale, and sometimes I get lost in what’s happening even though it comes from my mind. I did turn my attention from it last night when I took part in the 48 Film Project in Jacksonville, Florida.
It’s a contest for filmmakers and everything from writing the script, to the shoot, to the music composition, to the editing, has to be done in 48 hours. At 7 o’clock yesterday evening the teams were given a genre, a prop they have to use, a character, and a line that must be used somewhere in the script. They got that info to me and several other writers who had four hours to write a four to seven minute screenplay. Our genre was fantasy, and I wanted to do a supernatural fantasy, but it turned into this cloyingly sweet, lovey-dovey mess. A couple of the other writers came up with some good stuff, which they’re using instead of mine. I think I’ll read a couple of screenwriting books, practice over the year, and see if I can’t do better next year. If you’d like to see what I came up with this year, check the following:

INT. old theater, lights low

Clarence, mid-30s, onstage, theatrically dramatic pose. Dressed in a suit and tie. Light bulb on stand next to him.

Clarence
(dramatically)
Alas poor souls ‘pon hillock lie,
tis but my fate to sleep, to die.
The maiden’s hand caress my face…

MIRANDA
Mr. Tilden? I’m sorry to interrupt.

A woman, late 20s, stands silhoutted at the theater door. She walks briskly down aisle. Like Clarence, she is dressed professionally. Clarence speaks as he hops offstage.

CLARENCE
What can I do for you Miranda?

MIRANDA
(hushed)
Mr. Tilden. Mr. Breakstone saw you’d left
the desk. He’s looking for you and he’s furious.

Miranda hangs on his every word. She’s smitten.

CLARENCE
I’ve told you to call me Clarence. Breakstone
can wait, I’m performing.

MIRANDA
In the old hotel theater? For who?

CLARENCE
As long as there’s an audience of one, I’ll act.

Miranda points to light on the stand onstage.

MIRANDA
You should turn off the light and man the desk
before Mr. Breakstone finds you.

CLARENCE
Oh, you can’t turn that off. That’s a ghost light. All
theaters have them to keep the ghosts company and
provide them light to haunt by.

MIRANDA
Please Clarence, Mr. Breakstone…

CLARENCE
I’m not scared of that old windbag.

Theater door bangs open, Clarence and Miranda jump. A well dressed man, 50-70, storms in.

BREAKSTONE
Tilden! What the hell…And you Ms. Hart,
what’s going on here?

CLARENCE
I’m sorry sir, it’s my fault. Ms. Hart just came
to get me.

BREAKSTONE
(points a finger at Miranda)
Now look here, missy, you won’t be long for the
Excelsior Grand with this kind of behavior.

MIRANDA
(shocked expression)
I can assure you there’s not been any kind of behavior…

BREAKSTONE
(turns his finger to Clarence)
And you, Tilden, you are one step from the unemployment
line.

Breakstone storms up the aisle, Clarence and Miranda follow sheepishly, Clarence gives Miranda a sad look of apology.

INT. HOTEL FRONT DESK

Miranda is helping a man check in, while another woman beside her, late 40s, early 50s, is on the phone. The woman, Donna, hangs up the phone as Miranda passes the man a key.

MIRANDA
That’s the first check in today. Business
is dead.

DONNA
No one wants to stay in the old Excelsior Grand
anymore.(leans in conspiratorially) I heard you and
Clarence got into trouble with Mr. Breakstone.

Donna offers a hardboiled egg to Miranda.

MIRANDA
No thank you. It was awful. He caught us in the
theater. I thought he’d fire me right on the spot.

Donna peels the egg and taking occasional bites.

DONNA
(humorously suspicious)
Sneaking off with Clarence, huh?

MIRANDA
I didn’t sneak off with him (voice
turns dreamy) though I wish.

DONNA
Sneaking off for romantic liason? I better
not see that on Facebook.

MIRANDA
(chuckles)
I went to warn him that Mr. Breakstone was
looking for him. He said he was acting.

DONNA
Yeah, well, that’s a terrible story.

Pause as Miranda waits for story. She grabs the egg and takes a bit before handing it back to Donna.

MIRANDA
Don’t stop there.

DONNA
That old hotel theater used to have a pretty
good business. Clarence ran it, acted in most
the productions… and his wife worked on the
sets.

MIRANDA
His wife?

DONNA
Mmm-hmm. It’s so sad. They were rehearsing a
musical with alot of scene changes, and they
had a system where they could raise and lower
the scenery. Something went wrong and a piece
of scenery fell and crushed his wife.

MIRANDA
Oh my God…

DONNA
I’ll never forget that awful day. It was June 17th.

MIRANDA
But that’s tomorrow.

DONNA
The fifth anniversary. It was like her death cursed
the theater and it’s been closed ever since. And
Clarence is a changed man. He wasn’t always meek.
He was quite dashing.

MIRANDA
Poor, poor Clarence.

DONNA
A little advice. I know you’re sweet on the man, but he’s
still in love with his wife. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries
to join her.

MIRANDA
Suicide?

Donna shrugs. Scene out.

INT. HOTEL DESK

Clarence and Miranda are at the hotel desk. He’s busy putting things away. She keeps glancing at him, both in lovesick fashion as well as in curiousity.

MIRANDA
Clarence, can you hand me that filled register?

CLARENCE
Sure.

He passes a hotel notebook to her. Her gaze is fixed on his eyes, and instead of grabbing the register, she touches his hand. They both freeze, looking from hands to each other, neither eager to part. Finally Miranda takes it from him.

MIRANDA
Umm, thank you.

CLARENCE
You’re welcome.

MIRANDA
I wish I could see you act sometime.

He freezes at the mention of acting, then looks at her, and then toward the theater.

CLARENCE
Someone’s been telling tales?

MIRANDA
I hope you don’t mind. When I saw you in
the theater the other day, you looked so
natural on the stage that I asked someone.

CLARENCE
That was another lifetime. I don’t act anymore,
well except to maybe an audience of one.

MIRANDA
I’m sorry about what happened.

Clarence turns his gaze in the direction of the theater.

CLARENCE
Excuse me, I’ll be back in a minute.

Clarence exits toward the theater.

MIRANDA
Mr. Tilden, Clarence? Please don’t go in there.
Stay here with me.

Clarence ignores her and goes in. Miranda is obviously at odds as to what she should do. She fidgets at the desk, restacks some papers. She looks around, and rushes around the desk and through the theater door.

INT. OLD THEATER, LIGHTS LOW

She stands just inside. Clarence is onstage dramatically reciting a monologue.

CLARENCE
Cold is the storm that takes my love. Flames that
fuel my grief doth burn. Oh gods, I beseech thee
to bring to end and pitiful existence.

Miranda takes a few steps down the aisle.

MIRANDA
Clarence?

CLARENCE
Poison doth wet Montague’s lip. Dagger is sheathed
in Capulet’s breast. Love lost is love joined. I choose
thee dagger.

Clarence pulls a dagger from his jacket and holds it high, the blade pointed down. Miranda takes a few more steps.

MIRANDA
Clarence! Please don’t!

Clarence tries to remain in character, but finally breaks.

CLARENCE
Go away. I can’t stop in the middle of a scene.

MIRANDA
There’s no one here to see.

CLARENCE
As long as there’s one person, there’s an audience.

MIRANDA
Then I won’t watch.

CLARENCE
I don’t mean you.

Miranda sees someone unmoving in the middle seat of the front row. A woman, though only seen from behind. Terrified, Miranda rushes to the stage, reaching up for Clarence.

MIRANDA
That’s your wife, isn’t it? Still here? You still act
for her. On this anniversary, you want to do more
than act. Please Clarence. Killing yourself won’t
bring her back.

CLARENCE
It will take me to her. Go away.

Clarence takes a moment to get back in character.

CLARENCE
(clears throat)
Love lost is love joined. I choose thee dagger.

Clarence hoists the dagger high.

MIRANDA
Wait!

Miranda rushes to Clarence’s wife, who is still seen from behind. Totally frightened, Miranda faces her fear.

MIRANDA
Please, Mrs. Tilden. Don’t let him do this. He’s a good
man. He has more to live. Set him free. Give him to me…
I…I love him.

CLARENCE
(louder)
Love lost is love joined. I choose thee dagger.

Miranda jumps onstage and grabs his wrist at the apex of the knife downstroke. They struggle briefly, and Clarence shoves her to the ground. Close up as his hand tightly grips knife and raises high. Another hand takes his, and camera zooms out to show his dead wife now onstage, her hand on his, staying the knife. She takes it and drops it to the stage. With her other hand she takes Miranda’s hand and helps her stand. Then she puts Miranda’s hand in Clarence’s. Clarence’s wife turns and crosses the stage. As she passes the ghost light, it flickers and goes out.

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Whew! Just got back and I’m exhausted after several days in New York City.  The trip was a combination of things that worked out wonderfully. First, I had a meeting with my editor Christy Ottaviano.

Note the carefully placed copy of Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots on the shelf behind us. MacMillan Publishing, of which Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and Christy Ottaviano Books are imprints, is based in the world famous Flatiron building that’s stood on Fifth Ave. since 1902.

I had a hard time getting there, but I’ll save that story for a moment. The other reason I went was to help chaperone my wife’s eighth grade drama field trip. As a drama instructor, every year my wife takes a handful of her students up to New York to see shows and partake in workshops run by actual Broadway actors.

As you can see, we pretty much had the whole plane to ourselves. My favorite photo of them is when a group got stuck in a revolving door. Just on the other side you can make out my wife’s face with her, ‘You have got to be kidding me,’ expression.

We saw three excellent shows. One was the stage adaption of War Horse. Unlike the movie, they used incredible puppets for the horses. They moved exactly like horses, trotting, running, jumping, even the twitch of their ears and flick of their tails.

The next night we saw Peter and the Starcatchers, which received nine Tony nominations this year.

It’s adapted from the book written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and if Dave Barry has a hand in it, you know it’s hilarious.  Among the wonderful cast is Christian Borle as Black Stache. You’ll recognize him if you’re a fan of  the TV show Smash.

Our final show was the much acclaimed Once.This show has a whopping 11 Tony nominations. Every actor played an instrument and played it intensely. All the women and girls in our group had tears flowing at this love story, and me, well I just had something in my eye, that’s all. I got excited when I saw that one of my favorite super-intense character actors was in it. I first became a fan of David Patrick Kelly when he played the psychotically bad guy, Luther, in The Warriors.

More recently he played the snitch in Adam Sandler’s The Longest Yard.

In Once, he played the lead’s father, or Da. It was great to see him take on a subtle, almost delicate role.

Now, why I had a hard time getting to the Flatiron Building. I had an 11:30 appointment to see Christy. We were staying on 44th St., right next to the world famous Birdland Jazz Club (I saw jazz bassist Mark Egan going into it). I figured I’d walk down Broadway to the meeting. Easy enough, right? Wrong. I walked right past the Flatiron Building without seeing it and ended up horribly lost and terribly late (intentional overuse of adverbs). Finally I surrendered and flagged a taxi. The driver said that in lunch hour traffic it would take twenty minutes to get there. I gave him a movie line I’d always wanted to use on a cab driver, “I’ll make it worth your while if you get me there in ten!” It was an awesome roller coaster of a taxi ride.

If you’ve never been to NYC, I’d suggest you go. It’s such a different place, almost like an alternate reality, that’s just impossible to put into words. Here’s some photos I took that you might enjoy.

Many Marvel super-hero friends as well as a silver Andy Warhol statue.

Even with a heavy fine threatened they still honked at all hours. Look! It’s giant Johnny Depp!

Look! I can balance the Stanley Cup on 1 finger!

Old TV camera at NBC studios

Donald Trump’s bike in the Trump Tower lobby. He turned down my offer of a thousand bucks.

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Got a nice message from Amber, that read in part:

Hello mister Nance,
I have read both daemon halls and it has encouraged me into the theme of horror writing. I was wondering if you were planning on writing a series like the Macrabe Masters as Ian Tremblin had. You seem to me as this generations Edgar Allan Poe, who for most of us youth, has been long forgotten.

I’d love to do a Macabre Master series, but that’s up to a publishing house, not me. Still it is something to work toward. In fact I’d love to do a writing contest like Ian Tremblin did, and publish the winning stories in a collection. But again, that’s something for a publisher to decide. The Edgar Allan Poe compliment is the best I’ve had in a long time.

I love Edgar Allan Poe. I started reading his stuff when I was in elementary school. One time I even memorized The Raven just for the heck of it. Hopefully the upcoming movie of the same name will reignite Poe’s popularity.

As I understand it, John Cusak plays Poe and is enlisted to help police find a killer who murders his victims according to how people are killed in Poe’s stories.  The thing that I’m most happy about Amber’s note is that she’s writing. Keep it up , Amber.

I’ve been visiting alot of schools lately, which I enjoy. Dropped into Murray Middle School a couple of weeks ago, and since everyone had already read both Daemon Hall books, I did a reading from the manuscript of what I hope will be the third Daemon Hall book. Next month I’ll drop in on Pedro Menendez High School and visit with them for awhile.  A little history lesson, the Pedro Menendez for whom the high school is named after, was the man who founded St. Augustine way back in 1565. It’s funny, because in history we’re usually taught that Jamestown and Plymouth Rock were how America got started. Not true, St. Augustine was founded by the Spanish decades before either of those other places.

Here’s a photo from Easter. As you can see, Bella isn’t too sure about that  purple bunny.

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I put off my weekly message by a day because my son, Will, and I went to see the new movie Cabin in the Woods today, and I wanted to report on it.

I love a good horror movie that has a great deal of humor and surprises. And though I’m not a fan of guts and gore just for the sake of being gross, I can tolerate it as long as the story is good. This movie comes through on all counts. As it was written by Joss Whedon, who’s written a bunch of movies from the first Toy Story to the new Avengers movie, I had a sneaking suspicion it would be good. I’m not going to say much more about it because it has some wonderful surprises, and to even give you a clue before you’ve seen it would be a terrible transgression on my part. In fact, if you’re planning to see it, avoid any reviews so none of the surprises get spoiled. If you have a friend who wants to tell you about it, tell them to shut their yap until you’ve seen it. As of now the movie has a 92% positive rating on Rottentomatoes.com, which is stellar. I’ve found that those who don’t like it are actually people who have trouble getting their head around how to label it.  As a jazz fan, I’ve watched with humor over the years as some new style of jazz comes out and people waste hours arguing on whether it’s really jazz. Then, to help them accept it they have to give it a hyphenated label: jazz-rock, soul-jazz, acid-jazz, etc. In this case they’re asking is it horror, is it thriller, is it science fiction, is it farce, is it satire? Geez, chill out. Don’t worry about which genre it comes from, just sit back and enjoy.

Went scuba diving yesterday with my friend Milledge Webb, a true adventurer. From one day to the next you never know if he’s in Honduras, the Carolinas, the Keys, some tiny island somewhere, or here in St. Augustine. Whenever he calls and says, “Hey, you want to_________?” It’s best to answer yes.  In fact, on the way to the dive yesterday, we came up with the Super Adventurers Club. You too can be a member, just go out and have an adventure. We didn’t dive in the ocean, however. Central Florida has a bunch of fresh water springs that are great to dive. The one we chose was Alexander Springs, which is in the Ocala National Forest and pumps something like a million gallons of fresh water daily.

Our band of super adventurers included my wife (who doesn’t dive, but wanted to play at the springs), Milledge, and Nick, a friend of Milledge’s from Key West who has set out for a several months long road trip.  It was a good time, saw a bunch of blue-gill, a couple of gar, a turtle, and a bass. The best part was just spending time blowing bubbles.

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Okay, I have to do it. I have to make Saturday the day I write a new message here. When I set up this website I vowed to update it at least once a week, but to do so on a casual basis. Unfortunately I put the pro in procrastinate, so the only way I can be sure I do so, is to set a certain day to be blog day.  I was the kind of kid who put off schoolwork until the last possible minute, or even didn’t do it. Looking back, I wish I’d taken my schooling more seriously. Besides the all important education,

a diligent approach to schoolwork helps to develop habits and learning skills that will serve you well later in life. I think I’d be a more proficient writer had I followed a strict approach to how and when I approached schoolwork. Instead I now lurk in dark shadows and make scary faces:

Sorry, I was just looking for an excuse to insert this picture.

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As we approach Easter, my wife and I are once again working with talented members of our church to present a Living Stations of the Cross. For you non-Catholics who may not know, the Stations of the Cross is a meditative prayer that takes place at 14 different stations that tell of what happened during the passion of Christ, from his being sentenced to death, on up to the crucifixion. A Living Stations of the Cross has these different stations acted out, almost like a play. As director, I want to show the physical suffering that Jesus underwent, so I want to make the scourge (whip) wounds as realistic as I can with only a limited amount of time to apply it. Last year I only used greasepaint, and it looked good, but after James, who plays Christ, went around in his robe for half an hour carrying the heavy cross, alot of it got smeared. This year I’m thinking of using paper or fabric for texture, and colored and highlighted to maintain the wounds through the whole performance. Here’s the outcome of a couple of the experiments I’ve done:

I used to love doing monster movie makeups when I was a kid, so it’s fun to get back into it to a degree. In fact, for the past several years I’ve been collecting hair (mine after haircuts) and different make up basics, as well as studying different techniques, so that for my next costume party, I can go as a werewolf.

The writing is going well on my current project, a sort of supernatural, crime, detective novel for adults. The first half can easily be reworked into a young adult novel if I don’t have any takers on the whole project. I’m eagerly awaiting publication for my next book, Graphic. As it stands it will be released in Fall of 2013. As it contains some graphic novel style chapters, I’m going up to New York in May to meet with my editor, Christy Ottaviano, and her creative team to see what style of art we want to use.

As you know:

has sprung, enjoy the new season.

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Have had a wonderful winter here in St. Augustine. It’s been incredibly warm. Usually St. Augustine will have two or three nights per winter where the temps drop below freezing. The last two winters that number grew to over 30, so I guess we’re due this mild one.  I’ve been talking to a photographer friend of mine, Madi Mack, about going around the historic area of town to take some photos at night, utilizing shadows and texture, for this website as well as an author photo for my next book, Graphic. Initially we planned to wait until warmer weather, but it’s been so nice that we went out in January. I told her I wanted creepy and suspenseful, and I think she did a great job. I’ll share a few with you.

Creeping around your garden at night.

I really find this disturbing.

The last is my pick for the book jacket, especially since there’s alot of spirituality involved in the story. But then again, I haven’t seen all the pictures yet.

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1/23/12

This past weekend we joined up with my wife’s side of the family to take part in what we called the KAN-Do Klassic Bowling Tournament. It was a Christmas present from my wife and me to the family. The KAN is an amalgamation of several family names. It was some pretty fierce competition and they’d just polished the lanes so that it was incredibly slick if you even stuck a toe over the foul line. There were several falls, so the next day I wrote a ‘sports article’ on the competition and emailed it to everyone:

Andy Nance-It was a brutal day at Anastasia Lanes on Saturday, sports fans. The much anticipated KAN-do Bowling Tournament, was, as expected, a competition that was vicious, hard-fought, and exciting. The number of injuries was record setting, yet it was admirable how most, in the tradition of Tim Tebow, played through the pain. The first to topple was the Terror from Texas, Andy Nance, who didn’t throw a gutter ball, yet managed to throw himself into the gutter. The next to strike the wood, as the bowler’s vernacular goes, was Pretty Boy Kirby, who, in a feat of fancy foot work, ball release, and extreme gravity, literally kissed the ground he walked on. The final and most fiery fall was performed by JoAnn “Gung-ho Jo” Nance. It is truly sad a video camera was not running to capture what would surely be Youtube’s most watched sports video of the year. For one glorious second she hung suspended in the air like a levitating maharishi. Upon collision with terra-firma her head bounced off the lane with a sound eerily similar to a bowling ball dropped from the same height.


Other injuries sustained in what is now referred to as the Old City Bloodbath included damage to Kathleen “The Fury” Andrews’ shoulder, Evil Eye-leen’s pinky nail, and Jammin’ Jamie’s dignity. Still it was a day of stellar sportsmanship as we were wowed by pin splitting performances from Flyin’ Ryan Andrews, Sinister Shan, Dot “Matrix” Kirby, and Diante “el Diablo” Ledgister. Fans were enthralled with Kalamity Kai’s new style which combines the traditional bowling release with a basketball jump shot, and Will “Fire at Will” Nance showed up to throw a few frames and sign autographs. Congrats to Flyin’ Ryan who came in first place to win a snazzy red shirt with a 260, Pretty Boy was on his tail with 221, Sinister Shan and el Diablo tied for third place with 178. How can they top this year’s suspense, thrills, and spilled blood at next years competition? Though unconfirmed, we are hearing rumors of…I get goosebumps just imagining it…bowling with chainsaws!

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1/4/12

Happy New Year. Here we are in the year 2012. I remember the science fiction I liked when I was a kid. Those books would look to the future, 2010, or 2015, or 2020, and there’d be flying cars,

commercial travel to different planets,

and a staff of robots in every home.

Still waiting on those. Who would have thought that the biggest scientific leap would be in computers and all the cyber related offshoots?

Hope you had a good holiday. I certainly did. Lots of family time, good food, and visits with friends. Though I wish I could have done without throat surgery between Christmas and New Years. It’s something that’s plagued me for over fifteen years and this makes my sixth or seventh surgery, so I’m an old pro at it now. The only down side is my voice is taking longer than usual to return. I was in radio for over twenty years where I utilized my deep, booming voice. Now my voice is whispery and raspy like one of my favorite jazz musicians, Miles Davis.

I think I’m going to record myself saying intimidating and threatening things and go back and listen to it when I develop a bad guy with that kind of voice.

I’m a hundred and forty pages into a new project, it may be my first book for the adult market, or not.  It takes place in a western North Carolina mountain town. I spent several years in Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina, similar types of places, so it’s fun to go back, even if it is in my head.

The protagonist is a young woman named Charly Bloom, and she’s dealing with this obsession to solve a local town mystery. So far it’s happening in 1959, though the book will probably end in 1979 or 1980. It’s fun and a challenge to attempt to keep the vernacular in the proper time frame, as well as technology and entertainment. If you read my 1969 story, ‘The Go-To Guy,’ in Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots, you get the idea.

The Go-To Guy

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December 23, 2011 Amazing how busy I’ve been, but now that I’ve finished wrapping most presents, I figured I’d kick back and write a paragraph or two. I’ve been most busy with a production of the opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, at our church, St. Anastasia Catholic Church. Our music director, Peter Morin, got an old friend of his, Gregory Sheppard to come direct it. Gregory is a bass and sings at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. They put together an array of singers from New York and here in St. Augustine and put on an incredible show. Though my great aunt, Mary McCormic, was a famous opera singer, I never really got into it.

Mary McCormic, isn’t she a knockout?

Amahl and the Night Visitors was composed by Gian Carlo Menottie in 1951 as the debut performance for the old TV show, Hallmark Hall of Fame. Because of that, it’s short, only 50 minutes, and only had one set. While I’m not a singer of that caliber, I did get to help design and build the set, set up and tear down for each performance and help run lights. My wife was assistant director.

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful and creative Christmas and hold dear your favorite line from A Christmas Carol. Mine is when Scrooge is confronted by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley, and he thinks he’s seeing a hallucination brought on by bad food: “There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are.”

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November 16, 2011

Just saw the latest trailer for The Hunger Games, and I’m excited to see it. From what I’ve seen, it looks as if they’re staying faithful to the book. I understand they filmed it outside of Asheville, NC. I used to live near there in Boone and Blowing Rock, that’s great country.

Whew. I’m finally done with my theater shows. The first, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, wore me out. Then, before its run was completed, I started rehearsals for Dearly Departed, which opened four days after Forum closed.

That’s me in the back with the white suit. I play the Reverend B.H. Hooker. I actually had two roles, the other was Clyde the auto mechanic, and when I put on the mullet wig, I bore a strong resemblance to Chuck Norris. See what you think:

Walker, Texas Ranger or what? Oh, and I have the kick for it too:

And another bad guy down. Actually, he’s a good guy, Will Gresham, who played Royce in Dearly Departed. What’s ironic is that the show is about a funeral, and after our last performance we went out in front of the theater and had an actual funeral for Cogburn, our theater Rooster.

Cogburn showed up at Limelight Theatre ten years ago and had been greeting theater-goers ever since. At night he’d roost on the railing outside the front door. In case you don’t get it, he’s named after John Wayne’s and Jeff Bridge’s character in True Grit, Rooster Cogburn. It was a lovely service.

Since I’m holding his coffin/box, I guess that makes me his pallbearer, truly an honor you old bird.

I hope your autumn is awesome and make sure you read plenty!

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November 11, 2011

Happy Veteran’s Day.

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.  -Zell Miller

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October 15, 2011

Want a chance to win a signed copy of Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots? Go to totalbookaholic.com, for their Halloween celebration and look for my entry and true story about the ghost at a cabin. And thanks to them for letting me take part.

It’s been a great week. First off, I found out my novel, Graphic, will be published through Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and MacMillan Publishing.  Don’t know when it will be released yet, it takes quite awhile and we have just started the editing process. I don’t want to give away too much, other than it’s quite unique, complex, and yes, has some fine scares running through it. Oh, and here’s one more little clue as to what it’s about:

But not red, maybe more of a fresh coat of flat black spray paint, and a skull sticker on the body. That’s all I’m saying about it for now.

I only have a few more performances of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Limelight Theatre. We’ve had a wonderful run with the show: sold-out performances, lots of standing ovations.


I’m in the top two photos, you know… just look for the beard. Getting lots of compliments; “it’s so funny,” “not a dull moment,” “it moves along so fast,” “great acting, singing, and choreography.” But my favorite is when people say, “You can tell the entire cast is having so much fun.” The show ends on October 23rd, and then the following weekend I start another show. It’s called Dearly Departed, and is a comedy about what happens at a small town southern funeral. I have two roles, one as the Reverend Beverly Hooker, and Clyde from Clyde’s Auto Repair and Body Shop. There’s no singing or dancing, so it seems a breeze compared to Forum.

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October 1, 2011

Hello Autumn, my favorite season. Hello October, my favorite month. It’s my favorite month probably because both my birthday and Halloween are in October. I’m hoping to be a werewolf for Halloween, a lycanthrope along the lines of Oliver Reed in Curse of the Werewolf.

Totalbookaholic.com got in touch with me to write a blog for Halloween. You’ll want to check out their site, they have lots going on and a chance to win some awesome books, including Daemon Hall.  I wrote about an actual event that happened to me when I was sixteen. I’ll post it here as well. Hope you enjoy it.

The Cabin: a True Narrative

by Andrew Nance

In the summer of 1974 I had long brown hair, and on the night I’m to tell you about I probably wore faded hip-hugger bellbottoms with numerous multi-colored patches sewn over the many holes. My favorite shirt was from Mexico and chances are good I wore that. It was white cotton with purple stitching around the open neckline. I lived in Greensboro, North Carolina and two of my friends and I were going on a triple date. Chris was the high school football star, six feet four inches and built like Conan the Barbarian. It had been months since the end of football season and his hair had grown out into a loose afro. My other friend was Brian, one of those funny guys who slings one-liners until your ribs hurt from laughing. His hair was blond and long (of course). Over the years I’ve forgotten who the girls were or what we’d done earlier in the evening, but what happened later is firmly imbedded in my mind.

My friends and I were a nomadic bunch, even before we had our licenses we were always on the move, either walking or hitchhiking. We also spent alot of time trudging through the North Carolina woods. Doing so, we’d found some interesting places including the discovery of an old abandoned log cabin a half-mile off Westridge Drive, a busy street. The dirt road to the cabin was overgrown and obstructed, and unless you knew exactly where it was it was virtually invisible. It had once been a doctor’s office and there were some pieces of antique medical equipment including an old examination table. Some shelves still held a few medical books, and though they were rotting away, we could see dates in a few of them. They were over a hundred years old.

Chris drove that night. He had a blue 1960-something Buick station wagon that we called the B’nick, because the ‘u’ in the Buick logo on the back had flipped upside down and looked like an ‘n’. Brian and I squeezed into the backseat with our dates, Brian next to the right-side door and I was next to the left, the girls between us. A few hours into the date, probably after midnight, we decided we’d take the girls to the cabin. We pulled into the dirt drive that led there, the branches and limbs of the overgrown scrub and trees brushing against the car. The dirt road was about a half-mile long and incredibly bumpy, so we had to go slow. Finally we pulled into an open space that included the cabin. It sat to the right of the open space as we drove in. To the left was a flat, dirt-covered area, at the back of which lay a pine tree that had fallen months before. Chris turned the car around in this open area, the lights first sweeping the cabin, then the fallen tree, and the surrounding woods. We didn’t see anyone else, at least not then.

Chris parked the car so that it aimed at the drive leading out and shut it off. The night was dark, very dark, which is conducive to getting a date to snuggle close. We talked awhile until one of the girls said something that still gives me goosebumps.

“There’s someone back there,” she whispered.

We looked out the back window and saw someone sitting on the fallen pine tree. It may seem impossible that we could see a person on such a dark night in the middle of the woods, but there was a reason we could; the figure was luminous, dimly glowing. As I write this, I can still picture it (though we felt it was a male figure, I can’t help but refer to him as it), on that tree. It sat facing us in pretty much the same position as that famous sculpture, The Thinker. It rested its chin in its right hand, and that elbow on its thigh. There were no features to the face or hair on the head, just the glow. It didn’t wear a shirt or shoes, but had on brown wool slacks through which you could see the luminosity, much like holding a piece of fabric up to a light bulb.

The six of us stared at the figure for at least five minutes, and in all that time it didn’t move. Grasping for rational answers, we finally theorized that it was a dummy someone had put there to scare people. The reason it was luminous, we guessed, was that the dummy had been painted with day-glo paint and when Chris pulled in and turned around, his headlights triggered the paint enough for a soft glow. Feeling somewhat confident that what we were seeing was along those lines, Brian and I boldly said we’d investigate (I’m sure we were hoping our bravery would impress our dates). We opened the doors, got out, paused to look at the glowing dummy…and it moved. It lifted its head from its hand as if to look at us, after a few seconds it rested its head in its other hand.

Intense vertigo hit me and it took me a moment to realize everyone was screaming, including me. Brian and I leapt back into the car, shut the doors, and locked them. I looked back as the figure stood and screamed something about it coming. Chris had, at some point, taken the key out of the ignition and was blindly stabbing at the dash trying to get the key back in.

We were all yelling at him, “Go! Go! Go! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!”

Finally he slid the key in the ignition and started the car. In his terror, however, Chris forgot where all the controls were and started chanting, “The lights, the lights, the lights, where are the lights?”

He yanked knobs off the dashboard and threw them over his shoulder. I specifically remember when he hit the windshield wipers and they started squeaking back and forth over the dry windshield, which caused Chris, Brian, and I to laugh hysterically at the hopelessness of the situation. Finally Chris found the lights and we were speeding down the narrow dirt road at fifty miles an hour, each bump sending us airborne and slamming our heads against the roof.

That’s my Halloween submission for you. Every word of it is true. Countless people say there are no such things as ghosts. I know differently, because in the summer of ‘74, when I was sixteen, I saw one on a dark night at an old cabin in the woods.

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September 14, 2011

Hey Thomas H., Good to hear from you:

I just finished Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots and I loved it! It was extremely spooky and the ending was something I did not see coming.

That is the recurring theme I’m getting from my readers, what is up with the ending? Pick up a copy and read for yourself what they’re talking about.

Wow, the musical I’m in opens in a little over a week. It’s called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It’s a risque comedy that first debuted in the early sixties and takes place in ancient Rome. Here’s a picture from early rehearsals. The high school senior I’m yelling at is  Butler Robertson who plays Hysterium. Butler is a very talented singer, actor, and comic. This is the second show I’ve done with him.

There’s Senex (me) and Pseudolus (Patric Robinson), the lead in the show. Another great talent. I’ve worked with him three times and he’s so good that when we’re in a show together, I watch him like a hawk just to see what I can learn.

Oh, and you may notice the new rose tattoo on my leg. My friend Sailor Cher (also in the show playing Gymnasia) has been learning the art from famed artist Sofia Estrella (who is mentioned in Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots), who inked my octopus tattoo (which is also mentioned in the book). As an apprentice, Sailor Cher is starting to practice her skills on people and she put the rose on my leg. I think it’s a great old-school rose.

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September 11, 2011

There’s nothing more vile and profane than evil acts perpetrated in the name of God.

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August 21, 2011

Not much to talk about, just kicking back with a belly full of blueberry pancakes and realized I hadn’t posted in a couple of weeks. First off, thanks to everyone sending kind words about Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots. Hopefully it will be added to the AR list so middle schoolers can read it and use it for school projects just like Daemon Hall. In fact, let your teachers know that if they want to use it for an in-class project I’d be happy to Skype the class. Also make sure you get me pictures of any cool projects you might do.

Going to go see Fright Night today with my son’s, Will and Jamie.

I remember seeing the original at the theater back in ’85. It was funny and scary, which I think is a great combination.

I think it’s awesome that Colin Farrell plays the vampire. Will is a big Dr. Who fan and is eager to see David Tennant, a past Dr. Who, in the role of Peter Vincent.

A little info that won’t ruin the story for you: Peter Vincent is the host of a late night horror show and the name comes from two great horror icons, Peter Cushing

and Vincent Price.

I’ve always wished they put in either Christopher or Lee as a middle name.

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August 8, 2011

A couple of photos from the August edition of Ignition, a local music publication. Before writing, radio was my career for twenty some-odd years. Now I put those years of experience to use as a volunteer at WFCF, a radio station in the communications department at Flagler College. Among the things I do, I host a two hour new jazz program on Mondays from 5-7pm eastern time. If you’d like to check it out, you can hear it online at radio.flagler.edu.

My motorcycle is a Triumph Bonneville. Hopefully this winter I’m going to do some customizing and turn it into what is called a bobber. A bobber is kind of like a chopper, but not all extended, and instead of adding stuff to it, you’re essentially removing parts til you get down to your bare bones bike.


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I’m at that stage in writing where I’m not writing. I finished up one project and sent it on to my editor, so now I’m kind of floundering around, not really working on anything in particular. I think every writer has people who tell them, “I have a great idea for a book that you can use.” The thing is, we don’t have a shortage of ideas. When I get an idea I jot it down and then look at it later, seeing if I still think it would make a good story. My list of possible story ideas is a long one, over 300 ideas, so, I don’t need any from someone else. What I need is for one of my ideas to take hold and build into a passion that keeps me writing through a few hundred pages. I think I’ll do what I did before finishing my last project. I wrote randomly, starting different stories until I was working on seven at one time. Eventually my interest would wane for certain ones, until I found myself working on the one I was having the most fun with. Yep, that’s the plan.

Got a part in a musical, playing Senex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Being a musical, I have to sing and dance, so good thing it’s a comedy. The last play I did at this particular theater, The Limelight Theatre, was the very dark and brooding classic, The Crucible. Here’s a couple of my favorite photos from it. The woman is my wife, JoAnn. The other guy is Lou Agresta, a New York city lawyer who’s retired to St. Augustine and is big into acting now.

This is my son, Will, and I. My son played Willard, sort of a constable. I was the irascible Giles Corey. You can see I’m somewhat ticked off at this point in the play.

If you’re in the north Florida area, I hope you’ll come see A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It runs from September 23rd to October 23rd. It’s very funny.
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Got a great note from Thomas who lives near me up in Jacksonville, FL:

Being a HUGE fan of your first book, I ran out on Tuesday to buy Return to Daemon Hall. Let me just say, I couldn’t put the book down. It was just as good as the first one, maybe even better. I was drawn in by the history of Daemon Hall, and by the end, I’m sure my mouth hit the floor. Please make another book! Thanks for writing such an awesome book!

First off let me say thanks, I’m happy you liked it. Personally I think it’s better than the first and I really enjoyed creating Daemon Hall’s history. As you can see, I heavily edited your mail as I don’t want to give too much away to anyone who hasn’t read it. Judging by your reaction I think you’ll really like the third book. It will go in a direction I can safely say that no one will see coming.

A picture of a swimming rattlesnake taken from the schooner Freedom. So it’s not just the creatures under the water you have to worry about here in St. Augustine.

Friends of mine who own the schooner Freedom took the snake snapshot on a recent sail. I used to sail with them quite a bit, and I still occasionally go out to tell maritime ghost stories on night time sails. You can see what a beautiful vessel she is.

Sometimes I even do it in character.

Here thar be writin’ pirates!

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Woo-hoo! Look for book 2 on storeshelves, online, and at libraries! Sorry, just a tad excited about Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots getting released. The day that the first book, Daemon Hall , came out, we celebrated with a big book release party. I recently discovered that my wife was planning a surprise party for this book as well, but I want this release to be a little more low key. It’s kind of like having children. That first one is a very big deal and you shout it to the world. When baby 2, or 3, or 4 arrive, though it’s still a big deal, you handle it differently, on a more personal level.

I think the most important thing to me is that you like the book. I hope the book sucks you in, rolls you along on the twists and turns like a roller coaster, and when you’re finished, you let out a big ‘whew!’ Or, in the case of Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots, you finish the book and then shout, “What? That’s it? That’s the ending? No way!” You’ll see what I mean when you’re done.

I want to thank a reader who calls herself, Mrs. Severus Snape. She sent me this picture she drew of Ian Tremblin. I’m diggin’ the shades.

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Book release day is July 19th. You know, you wouldn’t think Wade and company would want to venture back to Daemon Hall, but sometimes things happen without planning on it, as you’ll find out if you pick up a copy of Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots. One of the book signings I’m looking forward to is during September’s First Friday Art Walk. On the first Friday of every month all the art galleries in St. Augustine stay open late, serve food and drink, and people wander from gallery to gallery. On the September First Friday I’ll be signing books at Simple Gestures, my favorite gallery and place for picking up eclectic gifts. What makes that so special is my best friend since elementary school, Wade Gildersleeve, will be the featured artist as well. By the way, Wade is where I got the name for Daemon Hall’s protagonist. He’s a carpenter and doesn’t make a living with his art, though as you can see, he could if he chose to.

Those are just two of the pieces he’ll be selling, all cozied up with a copy of Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots.

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July 19th is fast approaching, an exciting day for me as Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots will make it to store shelves. While it’s not necessary to read Daemon Hall before diving into Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots, I would suggest you do. If you’re a fan of the first book, I think you’ll enjoy book 2. Definitely let me know what you think after you read it, just drop me a line here.

I got a message from Thea who lives in Uppsala, Sweden asking if the sequel would be available in Swedish. Thea, I don’t know, right now. Foreign rights for books are generally on a book by book basis, and while I was proud that Daemon Hall was translated, I’ll just have to cross my fingers that book 2 will be also.

Finally, I’m sad that the final shuttle launch took place this morning. Hopefully the future will once again hold the promise and possibility of space exploration. To quote from the beautiful poem, High Flight:

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings

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Tick-tock-tick-tock. Counting down the days until July 19th, the release date for Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots.

Want to say hi to Sara who tracked me down to where I start my ghost tours so I could sign her copy of Daemon Hall. It was nice meeting you, and I wish I’d had more time to spend with you.  Nice to meet your folks as well. Speaking of ghost tours, got this message from Mark:

I was on a Ghost Tour of yours last year at St. Augustine. I was the young boy who was acting like I was British (In case you remember me). I’m going to be in St. Augustine on July 8th and am going to take the same tour. Is it possible to recommend you as my tour guide? Also I’m going to take a digital recorder and a video camera to make a little ghost video and hope to have an EVP session (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) or a ghost conversation. Is it possible for me to have an interview with you for any personal ghost experience that you’ve had? I hope you’ll remember me and I hope to have a chilling time.

I do remember you, Mark. You were with your family as I recall, and you fooled me with your accent until I asked where you were from and you said something like, “Delaware,” or “Maryland,” someplace that definitely wasn’t England. I won’t be available for a tour on the 8th, sorry. I did check and would suggest you wait until the late 9:30 tour and go out with Peter. He’s big into the investigative aspect of ghost tours and would love that you’re investigating while touring. Oh, and you can try out your British accent on Peter, he used to be a judge in England before he retired. He’s a funny guy who bears a striking resemblance to Marty Feldman, who played Igor in Young Frankenstein.

I have a tour on the following Monday. If you’re still around we could do an interview around 7:30 before I go out.

Speaking of ghost investigations, I just finished a short novel I hope to call, The Kids from GHoST, about a group of kids like Mark who go out and conduct paranormal investigations. I hope my editor likes it.

Finally, I want to add what will be one of the publicity pictures of the independent film, Jenny’s Book of Twilight, that I took part in a few months ago. This is Dirty Overall Man.


Can I be scary, or what?

5/29/11

I’m scared to touch my computer. For the second time, the blue screen of death has reared its ugly head, my graphics card is also about to go, and I got hung up with bitlocker, which I didn’t even know I had. But even with those daunting obstacles, here I am, posting again.

Not much to touch on, just finished putting a few pages on a new short story I’m working on. I want to thank the right reverend Harold Camping for the inspiration. He, of course, is the man who gained his fifteen minutes of fame predicting the May 21st rapture. Bringing the subject to the forefront, and seeing the media coverage as well as the apparent thousands who believed him, it inspired thought on the subject as it might pertain to a story. Apocalypse/survival stories are always great, and could write about a world falling apart both literally and sociologically for those who are left behind. How about a love story? A girl so pure at heart she is swept up in the rapture, yet the bad boy she loved is left behind. Would she spurn salvation to return to him in the end times? I finally settled on an idea that came to me last night during a brief period of wakefulness, which is when I get plenty of ideas. I won’t tell you what the premise is, but if you ever come across a story of mine dealing with a pawn shop owner in a college town, you’ll know it’s the one I’m talking about here.

Leaf bug I met on May 21st who told me he wasn’t concerned about Reverend Camping’s prediction.

5/18/11

What’s up with the weather? At this point of the year in Florida I should be able to roll out of bed, put on shorts and a t-shirt, and slip into a pair of flip-flops. We’ve had some record breaking cold the past few mornings, and this morning I had to wear long pants, flannel shirt, jacket, and a knit cap to take Bella to the dog park. Granted, the dog park sits underneath dozens of beautiful big live oak trees and the shade usually drops the temperature an additional 5 or so degrees.

I’m a pretty social person. I like to get out amongst people because I like the interaction, but also because I like to study people for any possible character traits for stories I happen to be working on. Take the morning crowd at the dog park, they’re some pretty interesting people with great stories to tell. Dean, who helps me with this website, was born in Scotland and has lived in South Africa, Australia, and various Caribbean islands. Larry proudly proclaims himself to be a Jew from the Bronx. He was born and raised in New York City, worked as a court stenographer until a nasty bout with throat cancer caused him to retire. For twenty-five years he was a heroin addict (clean for about as long) who still functioned in his professional career, though not so well with his personal life as evidenced by his three marriages. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Midnight Cowboy, Larry is kind of reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman’s character, Ratso Rizzo. Eric and Denise are a young (compared to me) couple. They too have lived all over, from Mexico to Fiji to Australia and more. He was a teacher who’d work a year or two in one exotic locale then move on to the next. Peggy is an inspiration, raising several grandsons on her own on the salary of a waitress, and doing a darn fine job of it. They’re the good guys at the dog park and I hope to be able to translate their wonderful traits into characters I can share with my readers.

Oh, and just to be clear, we have some dog park bad guys as well. I suppose the main one would be a man we call the Park Nazi who is always trying to be the dominant alpha human. I can see using him as inspiration for some power-hungry, bullying antagonist who desires everyone to bend to his whims or be crushed.

We joke about how I should write some screenplays about the dog park for one of the cable channels, but the truth is, I probably will mine the dog park, the critters, and their owners for inspiration in future projects.

5/10/11

Any students who have assignments concerning writing or books or something in that vein can feel free to contact me with questions. This comes to mind because I received a note from Jacob, a middle schooler in Atlanta:

Mr. Nance,
Our creative writing class is doing a project that involves contacting published authors with questions. What I’d like to ask you is if you use an outline when you write your books?

Jacob,

Glad to see you’re in a creative writing class. Have fun with it. When I left radio to pursue a lifelong dream of writing, I took some writing courses and went to see a lot of authors give talks about the craft. I remember one six week course from a man who wrote thrillers in the 1980s. He said unequivocally that writers must use an outline, otherwise they’ll lose their way as they write. Around the same time I went to see an author speak who had won either a Nobel or Pulitzer for a book of short stories. He said that you should never use an outline, rather let the story grow organically.  The answer, for me (and probably most people), falls somewhere in between the extremes of no outline and rigidly following one. I’ve learned I work best when I just scribble a few paragraphs that give a synopsis of the story. Think of it as a casual, partial outline. Generally when I get well into the story the direction will change and I usually throw out the original synopsis and whip up another rough idea of where the story should go. For something book length, I’ll probably redo the casual, partial outline four to five times. I hope this helps.

When I was a kid my best friend was Wade Gildersleeve. We both had a love of movie monsters and would do monster makeups. We had a great how-to book from makeup great Dick Smith that was published by Famous Monsters of Filmland.

The other day I found some greasepaint and started reliving my youth and seeing if I could still make a decent greasepaint wound. What do you think? Realistic? Bella, my German shepherd wasn’t fooled.

5/4/11

A fine day yesterday. Got to do two book visits. The first was yesterday morning when I dropped in to visit a group of students at Nease High School (where Tim Tebow played high school ball), who had read Daemon Hall as part of a school project. They were a fun group and I ended up staying about an hour and a half talking about writing, the road to publication, why I write what I do, and then I gave them a sneak peek at Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots by reading them a story from it called, ‘A Promise for Bones.’

Last night I hit the road again to visit the Southeast Branch of the St. Johns County Public Library. My friend and children’s librarian, Alyssa Gilbert, invited me out to speak with some young folks about the upcoming sequel and to eat numerous cookies. Both the speaking and the eating went fine.

A couple of recent additions to the home office. A Steve Ryder skull pen holder for the desk and one of his fine skulls on the wall.

And finally a representation of Beauty and the Beast. Actually my son Jamie and his girlfriend, Athena.

4/26/11

Whew! Finally I can take a breather. I look at my calendar for the past six or so weeks and everyday is marked with red scribbles. Besides writing and my normal ghost tours, I had the role of Dirty Overall Man in an independent movie shot in St. Augustine called Jenny’s Book of Twilight. You can see by the photo, the character is kind of a “Larry the Cable Guy’s older brother who’s also an evil ghost.”
My scary character, Dirty Overall Man

Below is the complete photo with the writer/director, Richard Kodai (fourth from the left in the back) and crew after a day of filming at Schmagels Bagels. The beautiful blond is Cary Beard, a marvelous actor and the protagonist of the film. She’s who I terrorized throughout the movie. It’s a tough job, but somebody had to do it.

Below was taken on the bay front after some chasin’, fightin’, and rescuin’.

So while the filming was going on, I also had a role in a play titled, Mark Twain and More. It’s a comedic role of a Frenchman named Gambetta, who is involved in a duel. Mark Twain, who narrates the event, acts as my second.

And while the filming and the play are going on, I wrote a script for a Living Stations of the Cross at my church for Good Friday. I also took the role of Joseph of Arimathea, the wealthy man who gave up his tomb so that Christ could be laid to rest after the crucifixion. I made him the narrator. I co-directed it with my wife. To pick me out, just look for the Ian Tremblin style beard. The young man standing on the far right is my oldest son, Will.

So it came down to role in a movie, role in a play, scripting/directing/acting in a production at my church. One of the funny things that came out of doing all those at the same time happened during the opening night performance of Mark Twain and More. Twain went to make arrangements with the second of the man I’m dueling. When he returned, I was supposed to ask him:

“The hour? What is the hour fixed for the collision?” (Meaning, what time does the duel take place)

Instead, I said:

“The hour? What is the hour fixed for the CRUCIFIXION?”

Don Runk, the actor portraying Mark Twain, gave me a very strange look.

However, all those things are over and done, and I can turn my attention back to writing. I’m about 125 pages into a project right now. And yes, it has to do with kids and ghosts. I’ll tell you more about it later.

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Hey, thanks for checking in. As you can probably tell, this is a site under construction. I know that in this day and age I should have had one years ago, but I tend to procrastinate. As I’m waiting for the publication of the second book in the Daemon Hall series, I figured it was time to get a website going. I have a computer literate friend, Dean Richardson, helping me and we’re taking it slow. He’s a busy man who writes computer programs, though he’s skiing in Vermont at the moment. I’m kind of a busy person too, so we get together on occasion to work on the site. I think you’ll like it when we’re done. One of the pages I’m excited about is posting videos you guys have made. I’ve had several people send videos they’ve made as school assignments on Daemon Hall, and I’d love to share them.  Check back now and then and note our progress, and when I open up contact, I hope you’ll drop a line. In the meantime, reread Daemon Hall so you’ll be ready to jump into the sequel, Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots.

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