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 + Open : The Dark Side of Joy

The Dark Side of Joy

A story of survival...

Twelve-year-old Alan Smith had everything going for him; he was athletic, popular, and excelled scholastically. His only problem was that his parents were criminals. The lies he told to protect his family had isolated him; his entire life was a lie.

On April 23, 1967, the lies ended when the police kicked in the door to his home and took his parents away. In that moment, everything in his life fell apart. His extended family abandoned him, and friendships based on deception crumbled and collapsed. Alan was suddenly alone and homeless.

What follows is an odyssey of the human spirit. Alan will learn to survive juvenile hall, foster care, and finally life with other lost children selling drugs on the dangerous streets of Whiskey Gulch for an outlaw biker gang. As he learns to cope with violence, brutality, and murder, he adapts, evolves, and becomes someone new.

In the midst of these struggles, Alan finds hope when he meets Swan, his first true love. It is through this romance that Alan learns the greatest and most difficult lesson of all, that there is a dark side of joy.

Now available on The Dark Side of Joy

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 + Open : The Last Dragon

The Last Dragon

War has come to Whiskey Gulch...

Alan Smith (aka Rat) exists at the edge of society. He has lived on the streets since he was a young boy and owes his survival to a refuge for discarded children in Whiskey Gulch run by an outlaw motorcycle club.

As an adult, Rat lives within two realms, that of an outlaw biker and as a competitor in the violent world of underground martial arts. His history has isolated him and continues to push him toward the life of a criminal, and yet his greatest desire is to escape his fate and find normalcy in an everyday life.

After a car accident causes a near-death experience, he struggles to find the meaning behind his vision of what lay beyond life. When a rival motorcycle gang invades Whiskey Gulch the only home he has ever known is threatened, and he comes to believe that he escaped death for a reason. The haven for thrown away children is under siege and the lives of his friends and chosen family are at risk, and Rat maybe the only one that can save them.

His recovery after the car accident cheated death; if he must pay back that debt he wants it to have meaning. Stepping away from his dreams of a comfortable life, his only hope is that his ultimate sacrifice will be enough to save those he loves.

Now available on The Last Dragon

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 + Open : The Last Dragon offer

How to receive a free autographed copy of The Last Dragon!

The first ten readers to review my book on will receive a free autographed copy of 'The Last Dragon'. (Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, this offer is only good for the lower 48 United States.)

Here's how to get yours:

  1. Click here To purchase the electronic Kindle version of the Last Dragon for $2.99 or download it for free if you have 'kindleunlimited' from
  2. Read it and enjoy it.
  3. Leave a positive review for the book on
  4. Send me an email at that includes the following information:
    • The name you used to submit your review.
    • Your home address (where I will send your book).

That's it. I'll reply to your email to let you know when your signed copy of The Last Dragon shipped out.


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 + Open : Why I write

Why I write.

"If we listened to our intellect we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go in business because we'd be cynical: ‘It's gonna go wrong.’ Or ‘She's going to hurt me.’ Or, ‘I've had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore...’ Well, that's nonsense. You're going to miss life. You've got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down."
      - Ray Bradbury

Reading saved my sanity when I was young.

My parents were criminals, so as a young child it was normal for me to witness people shooting heroin into their veins, and violence – I saw a lot of that as well. I was taken to pot / acid parties, and hung around with outlaw bikers and drug dealers. Kids are resilient though, and I adapted to that environment. When I was very young I would take my coloring books to those parties and find an out of the way corner that was away from all the action and do my thing. Later, the coloring books were replaced by novels, at first these were abridged versions of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne books, and later I would spend my time reading Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury, and others. I could retreat and hide within their stories and live another life when my world got too crazy.

The love of reading followed me into adulthood. Even at the peak of my career, while working 18-hour days at Silicon Valley start-up companies, I would take a few minutes to read a bit before going to sleep every night. Reading calmed my mind, and let me put the hectic pace of my life on the back shelf so I could fade into oblivion.

Back in the 1980's I wrote three books, but because I wasn't a known or published author my work never gained traction with agents or publishing companies. Eventually I gave up that dream, and went back to work. Now though, unknown authors such as myself can self-publish on Amazon and other places, so after retiring I decided to try my hand at it again.

Initially, what brought me back to writing was the lack of substance in the books I read. Seriously, how many times can you read, 'renegade loner boy joins the military then saves the day and becomes a hero'? Or 'merry band of misfits strike out on a quest to save the world'? The plot lines get old, and after a while all the characters seem the same. How many times can you read the equivalent of a Transformers movie and still be entertained?

So, I started looking for substance rather than distracting adventure, and didn't find much of it. Stories, like life should mean something – otherwise what's the point? The solution, obviously, was to create something that I'd like to read.

My first thought was to write about a dying man riding an Indian Motorcycle across the county one last time. There was some meat there, but after working on it a while I decided that it wasn't enough; one day that novel might get written as Outlaw Part 3. Eventually, I was compelled to write The Dark Side of Joy, which is based on the early years of my life – it was a tale that I needed to tell. The Last Dragon was created in response to the readers of DSOJ who wanted to know what happened next – I also wanted to chronicle martial art training and the biker world as I recall it back in the early 70's.

Beyond the story itself, I wanted Dark Side of Joy and Last Dragon to have some sort of value or meaning. So, I looked to the martial arts for inspiration. In Tae Kwon Do we have what are called Tenets – primary traits that are necessary to succeed in the art. These are: Courtesy, Integrity, Self Control, Perseverance, and Indomitable Spirit.

The Dark Side of Joy (Outlaw Part 1) is about perseverance. The main character loses everything, including his freedom, and is seemingly powerless in a world that is out to crush him. Alan (aka. Rat) holds true to himself and always works toward a better life no matter the obstacles before him. This act transforms him into someone new.

The Last Dragon (Outlaw Part 2) is about indomitable spirit. The main character is floundering, trying to find his way back into a normal life, and realizes that nothing is achieved without sacrifice. At times, our destiny lies beyond a wall of flame, and we must have the courage and inner strength to reach through that fire to obtain it. The willingness to give up everything to reach a necessary goal allows Alan to succeed.

Writing a novel is very hard work, and there really is no upside to it other than the satisfaction that comes from entertaining others. Authors tend to be reclusive, so no one does it for fame. As far a fortune goes, well, believe me, you're never going to get rich writing – working at McDonald's pays a heck of a lot better. There are far greater rewards than money though; sharing my stories and hopefully entertaining others is extremely fulfilling, and brings me enormous joy.

I hope that you enjoy my work.

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