Celebrating My Birthday With A 42 Hour Ghost Thief Sale

42. Fans of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy know this as the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Well, as of tomorrow, it’s also the answer to “Hold Old Is Jason?” Yes, tomorrow is my birthday. I’m leaving 41 behind and adding yet another year to my age. Still, 41 was a pretty good year. After all, that’s when I finally published my first novel – Ghost Thief. For those who might have forgotten, this is a science fiction tale of a thief who gains mysterious abilities and the adventures he has. Here’s a longer description:

Murray Gastev is anything but ordinary. He’s a thief for hire and a good one at that. He completes his latest job but ends up with far more than just the cash he expected to receive. He finds he now has the ability to pass through walls and float. There are just two small problems: He can’t breathe while he ‘ghosts’ and he can’t control where he floats to. With the help of some new friends, Murray might learn to control his powers and may even pull off his biggest heist yet. If he doesn’t end up being sliced to ribbons first.

Usually, when you release a novel, you make a big push to spread the word. Unfortunately, this being my first novel and me being horrible at self-promotion, sales have been stagnant. Well, there’s another reason also. You see, Ghost Thief is going to be a trilogy that also leaves room for short stories within the same universe. I started writing two of those short stories and suddenly realized that this was actually the beginnings of Book 2. That beginning expanded and has blossomed into over 56,000 words. My first book was only eight thousand words longer and this one isn’t even close to finished yet. (Though part of me hopes to hit 100,000 words, I’m thinking it will more realistically end at around 80,000 words.)

Given my upcoming birthday, I wanted to do something special. I decided to cut the price of the Kindle version of my book to 42 cents to celebrate my 42nd birthday. Unfortunately, it turns out you can’t do this. When you set a sale price, it needs to be in $x.99 increments. (Meaning $0.99, $1.99, etc.) So I’ve done the next best thing. Instead of my book being 42 cents for one day, it’ll be $0.99 (the lowest I could make it) for 42 hours. Yes, you have nearly two whole days to grab my book for just under a dollar. This starts at midnight tonight Eastern Time and extends to 6pm Eastern Time on August 4th. After that, the price will rise to $1.99 (still a 60% saving) until 3am on August 9th. (There’s no special significance to that day/time. That was just the longest I could make the sale run for.)

So set a reminder to go to Amazon.com tomorrow and pick up a Kindle copy of my book. The sequel is coming along nicely and – with luck – will be out later this year or early next year. Finally, if you’re not sure if the book is for you, you can download the first three chapters completely free. If you do buy my book and read it, let me know what you think. You can message me on Twitter, Facebook, or via my contact form.

Happy reading, everyone!

Happy 40th Birthday To My Angel!

27debbb6-ab51-4241-8b6c-771318b72718Today is a very special occasion: My wonderful wife’s birthday. It’s not just any birthday, though. Today, she turns the big 4-0.

Though she might not be in her thirties anymore, she’s just as beautiful as the day I met her. I’m so lucky to have her in my life. She’s a fantastic wife to me and mother to NHL and JSL. Whenever we need her, she’s there for us. If our kids need anything taken care of at school, she’s ready to fight for them. She ensures that everyone takes their medicine, takes care of us when we are sick, and puts up with the boys and me geeking out.

Happy Birthday, B. I love you with all of my heart!

I Messed Up and Forgot My Father’s 70th Birthday

nicubunu-Chocolate-birthday-cake-300pxWell, I messed up big-time. Recently, life has been very hectic. I’ve been juggling a lot of things at once. Between work, Jewish holidays, my novel getting published, and other plans (that I can’t blog about at the moment), I was bound to drop something. Unfortunately, that something was my dad’s birthday.

In the days leading up to the birthday, I knew it was approaching. I made a mental note to call him. Unfortunately, said mental note got buried under a stack of mental paperwork. I didn’t remember it, until the day afterwards. I tried calling him, but it was too late. By then, my father, understandably upset, had e-mailed me to let me know that I was the only one not to call him.

As much as I wish that I could go back in time and correct this, I can’t. I can only apologize, take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again and move forward. So I want to publicly apologize to my dad. I messed up. I didn’t call you when I should have. I feel horrible about this and am so very sorry.

How do I make sure this doesn’t happen in the future? Well, I keep all important events in Google Calendar so that my phone will remind me of them. My phone is a lot less prone to “mental paperwork overload” than I am. Unfortunately, my dad’s birthday was listed in a secondary Google Calendar, not my primary one. So while it would show up in my calendar listing, it apparently wasn’t set to notify me of events. I’ve added his birthday into my primary Google Calendar so that next year my phone will help me remember. (I also took the opportunity to double-check that all of my relative’s birthdays are set up properly in Google Calendar and have notifications enabled.)

Again, I messed up and am very sorry. Happy birthday, dad!

NOTE: The image above is “Chocolate Birthday Cake” by nicubunu and is available from OpenClipArt.org.

Happy Birthday To My Teenage Son

Today is NHL’s birthday. It’s not just any birthday, though. It’s his 13th birthday. This means that NHL is officially a teenager. How did this happen? It seems like only yesterday that little NHL came home from the hospital with us.


A year later we celebrated his first birthday and he discovered the joys of cake. And that the messier the food, the better.


As the years progressed, NHL grew bigger and bigger. Eventually, he started school and discovered the joys of learning. NHL loved math and would work it into every project that he could. We would get lovely artwork sent home from school with “1 + 1 = 2” painted in the middle because NHL always wanted to show off his math skills. He loved school and loved playing. He was getting bigger and more expressive. We’d constantly be in awe over what a bright, sweet, and cute kid he was turning into.


Years later, after many attempts to figure out what was going on with NHL, we received an Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis. This changed both NHL’s world and my own as I quickly realized that I’m an Aspie as well. Suddenly, all of the “difficulties” that NHL was facing in school, at home, and out in the world made more sense and we found the proper tools to help equip him to tackle challenges that neurotypical kids (and adults) saw as just mundane day-to-day events. It seemed like every hurdle we climbed over was replaced by another, bigger one. Through it all, NHL kept up his love of learning.

This only increased once he hit middle school.  I’ll be honest, we were terrified of the prospect of middle school. The chaotic hallways, overwhelming workload, and rotating mix of teachers/classmates seemed like they would conspire to crush our child. We pictured him having a meltdown in the crowded hallways as he struggled to open his locker while being buffeted by kids rushing to his class and the bell threatening to ring any second. Yes, he would have a one-on-one aide, but would the aide know how to support our child while still letting him handle enough on his own?

In hindsight, we needn’t have worried. The aide was great. He and NHL hit it off immediately and got along great. And those class-to-class transitions we feared? It turned out that he thrived on them. NHL loves schedules. He wants to know just what is happening and when. In elementary school, his teacher could make math run long if need be and postpone English. This would cause NHL to flip out over the schedule being broken. (Being able to roll with schedule changes is one of the many things that neurotypical people take for granted.) In middle school, though, once the bell rang, math was over. The math teacher couldn’t declare that the class was running over for 10 more minutes because all of the kids had to get to their next class.

In his first semester of middle school, NHL got silver honor roll, having gotten one B on a report card otherwise filled with A’s. After his honor roll ceremony, he told us that next semester he’d get gold. We reassured him that what was important was that he did his best. He insisted that he’d get gold next time. And he did. He worked harder, raised his grade to all A’s, and got gold honor roll that very next semester. And the semester after that.  In fact, in the two years he’s been in middle school, he’s only had two B’s. The rest of his report cards were straight A’s.

When he’s not acing tests with a GPA that makes me both jealous (I only got one straight A semester in school) and proud, NHL loves watching TV and playing video games. He’s a total binge watcher. He’ll find a show he likes on Netflix or Hulu and will watch every available episode (usually while his brother complains that NHL is hogging the remote) until he’s an expert on everything there is to know about the show. He’ll also play and ace video game after video game. When it’s just us in the car, he loves telling me – in excruciatingly exacting details – just what is going on in the video games he’s playing. I’ll admit to only half-listening most times (in my defense, I’m driving while listening and the safe operation of the vehicle does take precedence), but I love how excited he gets over his games. He’s a geek and is proud of it.

Speaking of being a geek, NHL also loves playing Munchkin and other games with me. Unfortunately, time doesn’t allow for much in the way of game-play recently, but we still get a game in every so often and I love seeing his smile as he beats me yet again. (I never let him win. He’s just good at the game.)

Now, NHL is a teenager. In one month, he’ll be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah. I couldn’t be prouder of NHL. He’s smart, kind, and unashamed of being a geek. In so many ways, he’s my mini-me. He’s turning into such a wonderful young man, but he’ll always be my sweet baby.wp-1471394318472.jpg

Happy birthday, NHL!

Extreme Geekery: Giant Sun Birthday Cake

sun_birthday_cakeHappy Birthday to me! Today I turn 41. Luckily, I’ll probably have a single candle on my cake (or two candles: a four shaped one and one shaped like the number one). I won’t have to deal with blowing out forty-one candles. Still, I began to wonder exactly how bright you could get with candles. Let’s suppose that the Sun was a giant birthday cake. How many candles would it need to keep outputting as much light as it currently does. (Since this is a thought experiment, we’ll ignore such mundane details as "How do the candles burn without an atmosphere" and "How do the candles not melt down with time".)

The Sun outputs about 6.84 x 1027 lumens. Written out, this is 6,840,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That’s a LOT of lumens.  The best reference I could find for a candle’s output was 12.56 lumens. Of course, the birthday candles I use tend to be smaller and so likely generate less lumans than other candles. Let’s round down to 10 lumens for a birthday candle. (Plus, this makes the math easier.)

If each candle is providing 10 lumans of light, we would need 684,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 candles. That’s 684 trillion trillion candles!  I wonder if the warehouse stores carry ultra-mega packs of candles.

So we’ve got our candles and are ready to light them… Wait, first we need to put them in the cake.  So we make a HUGE spherical cake and place the candles all around it. How big of a cake do we need? Well, if each candle has about 1 square centimeter of space around it (we’re packing them in), the cake would need a surface area of 684,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 square centimeters or 68,400,000,000,000,000 square kilometers. (That’s over 26,000,000,000,000,000 square miles.)  The Sun itself has a surface area of 6.09 x 1012 square km.  That’s a big cake!

How much bigger, you ask? Stand back, I’m going to use Math!

Now the surface area of a sphere can be calculated by pi*d2.  Let’s say that the cake’s diameter is d1 and the Sun’s is d2. This gives us:

68,400,000,000,000,000 = pi*d12

6,090,000,000,000 = pi*d22

Obviously, the cake is some number, N, times bigger than the Sun so we can say:

d1 = N * d2

Plugging this into the first equation we get:

68,400,000,000,000,000 = pi*(N*d2)2


68,400,000,000,000,000 = pi*N2*d22

Now the second equation can also be written as:

d2 = square root(6,090,000,000,000/pi)

Plugging this into our calculations, we get:

68,400,000,000,000,000 = pi*N2*(square root(6,090,000,000,000/pi))2


68,400,000,000,000,000 = pi*N2*6,090,000,000,000/pi

The Pi’s cancel out and we can divide each side by 6,090,000,000,000 to get:

N2 = 1,123.15

This means that N is about 33.5.

Our birthday cake would need to be almost 34 times the size of the Sun just to be as bright as it is.

I think I’m going to need more frosting!

NOTE: The Sun Birthday Cake image above was made by combining Decorative Sun by ivak and Chocolate Birthday Cake(brown) by version2. Both images are available from OpenClipArt.org.

1 2 3 8