RSS

Author Archives: Heath Stallcup

About Heath Stallcup

Creator of the Monster Squad and other supernatural tales.

Jeep Edition

As you can tell by the title, I’m wasting time. I should be penning the end of Caldera 12, but sometimes you just can’t force yourself to do what needs doing. You sit at the computer and the next thing you know, you’re surfing cat videos on the web.

Most of you know, I’m a car guy. Especially Jeeps. And Broncos. And Mustangs. And classics and muscle cars and big trucks and… yeah. It’s an addiction.

Anywho, I’ve been adding stuff to my wife’s newest Jeep. She named it Fred. Considering we almost named one of our twin girls Fred, know that my wife has a real affection for that name. So, I’m surfing eBay and Jeep 4X4 catalogs and ordering stuff I shouldn’t be and trying to slip it onto Fred when she’s not looking. Well, while I was doing this, my daughter (the almost Fred) asks if I’d fix up hers a bit. She has a JK Wrangler and it’s vanilla plain. She wanted a cool script on the side of the hood like ‘Mudslut’ or ‘Boobiebouncer’. I had just put a hood decal on Fred so I could see the appeal. While I applauded her taste in decals, I also thought that perhaps she should go with something a bit more ‘factory’. It was then that I realized, Jeep has a metric shit ton of ‘editions’ out there!

You should keep in mind that Jeep has been around since 1941 in one form or another. We’ve had a whole series of CJ models (Civilian Jeep). Then AMC was bought by Chrysler and it was announced that the CJ would no longer be made and my heart dropped. Luckily, Chrysler wasn’t stupid. They rebadged the vehicle, made a lot of improvements and released the YJ Wrangler. Purists hated it. Why? Because it had square headlights. Forget that it had a much more civil ride, plenty of power, a wider track to reduce accidental rollovers and that it handled much better than the old CJ. No, it had to be hated because the headlights weren’t ROUND.

However, this was when their marketing department cooked up a plan to sell even more units. Up until this time, you could get your CJ in the base model, the Renegade which was kind of a middle of the road package and the upper crust was the Laredo. A select few would be fortunate enough to find the Golden Eagle and even fewer would locate and own the Silver Eagle. These were all trim levels, if you will. But once the YJ hit the streets…all bets were off. Jeep released ‘editions’. Islander, Rio Grande, Mountain. The list was growing. And people were buying.

We move from the much hated (but much improved) YJ to the TJ. A short, stubby little jeep that seemed to mix the best of both the CJ lineup and the YJ. With improved ride and handling came creature comforts. A real dashboard. Airbags. A host of comfort and safety items. And sales skyrocketed. With those sales came even more ‘editions’, many of which carried over to the new JK lineup.

The JK was a mixed bag to some. To purists, this thing was HUGE. And now it offered four doors! To somebody who had never really been into Jeeps before, this thing was TINY. Regardless, with an even wider track and even more safety items (and a couple of more doors), the Wrangler became the yuppie/hipster/soccer moms choice for all weather driving the world over. At least they kept the headlights round, right guys?

With the new JK came even MORE editions. Jeep may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but they know how to market. We were now finding a resurgence of old names like the Islander and the Sahara and the Renegade, but we were seeing so many new ones that sometimes you couldn’t be certain if it was a factory ‘edition’ or not.

Seriously, we soon saw the (I kid you not) DRAGON edition. This ugly monstrosity…er, I mean, this tattooed beauty had a literal dragon etched across the ENTIRE THING.

2014-Jeep-Wrangler-Dragon-Edition-front-view

Then we saw the Mountain edition. And the Rocky Mountain. And the Smoky Mountain.

2017-Jeep-Wrangler-Smokey-Mountain-Edition-122

We saw a MOAB edition.

MOAB

A Freedom edition.

Freedom

The return of the Rio Grande.

jeep_hood_riogrande5

The return of the Islander.
Okay, I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for the Islander. Hehehe. Tiki Bob. 🙂

jeep-wrangler-islander-f

Then we have the TACTICAL Jeep. The ‘Modern Warfare 3’ Black Ops edition.

2011-naias-jeep-wrangler-call-of-duty-black-ops-edition-live-photos_3

Then there were Arctic and Polar editions.

2012-jeep-wrangler-arctic_100369522

polar-jeep-wrangler-2014-front

Let’s not forget The Recon edition.

recon

And the return of the Golden Eagle.

gold eagle

We’ve even seen the return of the Willys. The Jeep that started it all.

2014-jeep-wrangler-willys-wheeler-edition_100446358_l

But here’s the thing. For every factory made ‘edition’ out there? There’s at least three others that Jeep owners have made themselves. Everything from Stormtrooper Edition to Beach Bum. From Redneck Edition (they have no teeth but damn are they scrappy!) to Hillbilly edition (they’re engaged to their cousin). There are Jurassic Park editions and tributes to pets. Some are funny and some make you scratch your head and wonder what the owner was smoking.

There are people who do nothing more than create custom accessories for you to personalize your Jeep. Being probably the MOST customized vehicle out there, you’ll see variations of a theme that you never would have guessed. And as difficult as it is to try to describe here, it truly is easier to say, “It’s a JEEP thing. You wouldn’t understand.”

Oh. And what did I put on Gigi’s Jeep?

Gigis

Simple. Tasteful. Nothing too ‘out there’.
She wouldn’t let me put ‘Boobiebouncer’ on there. 😦

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 9, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

I Dropped the Ball

I just realized that I hadn’t updated the site in a while. Actually, not since C8 and we are anxiously awaiting C11 to drop at the end of the month. That’s just unacceptable.

I’m sorry. I wish I had a valid excuse for letting things lapse here, but I don’t. Since I last posted, both C9 and C10 have released.

C9 C10

For those keeping score, C9 hit the shelves on Halloween and C10 was a Turkey Day release. Now, just after Christmas (when everybody has their new devices) C11 will be available!

C11.jpg

I wish I could say that 12 was soon to follow, but alas, I just got the template laid a few nights ago and it’s been a bit tough getting back into the writing habit. I can say that not all of this time was wasted doing silly stuff like enjoying the holidays with family. I actually got a little work done. Max Zener stepped in to narrate the rest of the series and he was able to pump out C4. We did a line by line with it and I just recently mashed the button so you audiophiles out there will soon be able to enjoy the continuation of the story! Ya know, it’s not easy jumping from C4 to C12. So much has happened since then that…it’s just been tough.

For those of you who have been with this series since the git-go, if you’ve heard the rumors that 12 will be the series end, then you heard correctly. There’s just too many other projects languishing by the wayside. It’s nearly impossible for me to ‘universe jump’ any more. My brain just isn’t what it used to be I suppose. Going from one cast of characters to another takes me a lot longer to adjust to than it used to.

I will say this, though…just because Caldera is ending doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the last of the characters. I actually have a spin off in mind that may or may not see the light of day. I’ve toyed for months with the idea of doing a spin off of the Monster Squad under the IMPACT label and even have a few ideas bouncing around in my noggin. It’s just getting the time and mental faculties sharpened enough to jump back into that world.

Anyway, I’m going to wrap this up. This is time that could be spent writing the tales you love to read instead of sharing mind-spew. So with that, I’ll bid you adieu. We’re caught up on upcoming releases and I promise, I’ll try to do better in keeping you updated.

In case I forget to come back between now and then, Merry Christmas! I hope that you and yours has the happiest of holidays and a prosperous new year!

Love, Luck and Bacon!

Heath

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Quit Jumping to Conclusions

I have to stop. I just HAVE to. I read something and, like so many others before me, I jump to a conclusion. Man, if I had actually read as many books as I’ve judged by their covers…

Let me explain. And no, this isn’t book related. This is just me airing out my head. And yes, it gets gusty in there.

I’m a car guy. Always have been, always will be. In fact, my mother often told me that my first word was ‘Mustang’ and she claimed that I could spot one a mile away as a toddler.
So, years ago when Jeep first announced their Renegade. I read that it would be ‘based on the Fiat 500 chassis’ and that was all I needed to know. Every time I saw one on the road, I laughed at the drivers. Who could be SO STUPID to buy a rebodied Fiat? I mean, come on.

Then, I actually drove one.

2017-Jeep-Renegade-Trailhawk-front-three-quarter-03

HOLY SMOKES.

I actually fell in love with that zippy little doo-dah. I mean, it was FUN. Got great gas mileage. The Trailhawk version is actually called by off-roaders the ‘Baby Wrangler’ because you can’t hardly stop the thing! It will go where most other four wheel drives tremble.

So, now I LOVE these things.

If any of you have read my blog over the years, you may remember one of the few times I rambled about something other than writing. I really try not to do it often. However, this one time I went off on FoMoCo (https://heathstallcup.com/2015/03/17/get-real-ford-im-ready-to-quit/)
Shortly after I did, they announced the new Ranger and the new Bronco. I really wish it had been because of the above blog post, but I’m not that egotistical.

ANYWAY, I was excited. Until they announced that they would be using their ecoboost 4 banger. Immediately I was pissed. I’d decided, I would have nothing to do with it and turned my back. I had an F-150 ecoboost and although you couldn’t tell it was a six cylinder, I don’t trust turbos.
I just don’t.

Then I watched a YouTube video from a guy who felt the exact same way I did. And his mind was changed. And that reminded me of the Renegade. And I suddenly felt very… ‘judgy’. So I went through a few more videos. Surely, somewhere out there, somebody would prove the ecoboost 4 banger was a turd.
I watched guys tune one in a Mustang and slip it into a GT only race group. After they smoked a few factory Coyote V-8’s, they were found out and forced to leave. How dare they outrun these wonderful cars with such a heretic engine?!

Okay. So maybe I jumped to an incorrect conclusion. Er, more like an uneducated one. Still, I swallowed my pride and decided that I would give them a chance. And I might give the turbo 4 Wrangler a chance (but not if the same Wrangler is available with the Pentastar V-6). I still hope and pray that Ford will rethink their decision and bring the Bronco out with a naturally aspirated V-6 (dare we pray for a diesel variant?), but either way, I’ll give the new Bronco a chance.

And that’s about it. That’s all I really wanted to talk about tonight. I just had to admit that I was wrong.
Once.
Okay, technically, TWICE, but, it’s sort of about the same thing, so I’m calling it a ‘once’.

Here’s wishing you much love, luck and bacon!

Heath

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Cliffhangers

Yeah, cliffhangers. We hate them, don’t we? But we also NEED them. It keeps us engrossed in the story.

Think about those books that were total page-turners. You know the ones I’m talking about. You break them open and you’re just gonna read a few pages before bed…until you realize the alarm is going off, it’s morning and you should be in the shower, but you only have one chapter left!

How does that happen?

Well…suspense. You break a story into sections. Usually, there are at least three scenes. Each scene can either be its own chapter or the three scenes combined make your chapters. But each scene, if left on a mini-cliffhanger, has you turning the page to see what happens next.

Now, in a perfect world, each and every scene would have its own cliffhanger ending, each one building suspense until you reach the final chapter and now, the suspense is SO built up that…well, you just GOTTA have the next book now! That’s the whole idea, right? Leave people wanting more.

Yet we HATE cliffhangers. Heaven knows, I do. I’ll never forget the first cliffhanger that had me ready to burst…. The Empire Strikes Back.
OH MY GAWD!! How could they do that?! I mean, REALLY!!

Yeah, well, it’s like that. I know the pain, the frustration, the…ANGER. But at the same time, we need this built up suspense. It keeps us going, forcing us to push through. It helps motivate us to read on, to find the end. If that end ever comes.

So, now you’re groaning, your guts tightening as your mind formulates the question…why is this asshole bringing up cliffhangers?
Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure you’ve already guessed it. C8 left us on a pretty good one. And, well…C9 does the same dadgum thing. Maybe C10 will be…nope? Nope. No…I can tell you with absolute CERTAINTY that C10 is just as bad if not worse.
Maybe 11? We’ll find out. I just broke ground on it tonight.

Oh, and for those of you wanting them now? Sorry. The easy part is done. Now they go into beta, editing, more beta, more editing, etc, ad nauseum. Besides, I have to get ahead so I can switch to a completely different universe. I hope to get Bridger II written soon. Just as soon as Caldera releases its hooks from me…

Peace, Love and Bacon!
Especially Bacon.

Heath

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

C8 Is Out and Other Stuff

Okay, so Caldera 8 went live yesterday. Yay!

Caldera 8

Here’s the obligatory picture that everybody says will help drive traffic to your site.

But that’s not really what I came here to talk about.
I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to speak to a few writing groups. I even joined one afterward. Good people in that group. But…one thing that I’m often asked that I don’t always address well is, “What would you tell yourself if you could go back and give yourself advice when you first started writing?”

Most of the time I think, ‘Don’t QUIT! Write whatever you love and those who love it will find it.’ Or, something to that effect.
But here lately, I’ve been taking more trips down memory lane and I recall a moment when I was ready to pack it all in. I had made the mistake of getting online and reading through some ‘Writer’s Forums’. Oh wow. Some of the people in those places are completely whackadoodle. And yes, that’s actually a medical term for ‘nutso’.

I remember I joined this one group and they were discussing all kinds of topics. And being completely new, I was totally enamored with their replies and their suggestions and…well, I believed them. Imagine that! Believing people you don’t know on the internet.

Anyway, I remember this one guy (who everybody seemed to look to as sort of the group leader or guru or some such) and he was saying, ‘if you write more than 500 words in a day, then it’s crap and not worth reading’.
Well, that blew my mind. I mean, here I was throwing down THOUSANDS of words a day sometimes. Did that mean my writing was crap?
He went on to tell folks that unless you were signed with a Big 6 publisher, you weren’t a REAL writer.
Oh wow. I’m totally screwed then.
Another of his rants was about ‘horror’ and how only IDIOTS read such drivel.
Well, I have no idea what golden pearls of wisdom this guy was writing, but I had concluded that he:
1. Wrote less than 500 QUALITY words per day.
2. Must be signed with at least two of the Big 6 because people just hung on to his every word. And;
3. Whatever he wrote, it must NOT be horror.
He’s so lucky.

Well, needless to say, I was sent into this downward spiral. Seriously, I was ready to just hang it all up and walk away. I mean, who was I to question this guy? Anybody who did dare to question him got raked across the coals by the entire group.
But one voice did. He told him that he was an indie who hired reputable editors and cover artists and he worked his tail off to market himself. He made himself available to his readers and he loved interacting with them. And he made good money doing it. Oh, hell no! This was sacrilege and they laughed this guy right out of the forum. How DARE he say something that went against the great an almighty Oz?!

I actually called my editor at that time. An indie writer who built himself up from the worst possible starting point and remade himself into a force to be reckoned with. He talked me off of the ledge and convinced me that my writing was worthy. If nothing else, let the sales prove that point. Take the risk, believe what he told me and finish what I started.
So I did.
And I’m so thankful that I did. Because of my writing, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people out there. I’ve taken the hits and the less than constructive criticisms and tried to improve my storytelling. I’ve made friends with some of the coolest people with a similar off kilter sense of humor as mine and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this ride.
No, I’m not quitting or anything silly like that. I was just reminded of the time when I allowed nameless, faceless people on an internet forum convince me that there was only one way to do something. And I almost believed them.

So, I guess I wasn’t wrong when I said that I would tell myself not to quit.
But I would also add, don’t listen to internet commandos who proclaim that there is only one way to do something. Look at others who can prove that person wrong and do what they did.
Yeah.
I think that’s what I’d tell myself.
Oh, and exercise more. That way you can eat more bacon. 🙂

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

C8 Update

MAY have just sent Caldera 8 to the editor for cleanup.
I also MAY have the cover from Jeffrey Kosh that goes with it.
I also MAY…no, scratch that. Of course I’ll share that cover here. You guys know I’m the worst secret keeper and I’ve even shown covers that he’s created for me for stories I hadn’t even written yet. I guess I figured if I had the cover made then I just had to write the story.

It made sense to me.

Caldera 8.jpg

Anywho, here’s the cover. I’d give the newest installment of Caldera a couple of weeks minimum to be available.

But for those who were asking, here’s your status report. If I had the mental capacity to write the blurb right now, I’d gladly share it. But sometimes the blurbs are harder than the stories.

Keep the faith dear readers.

Heath

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 13, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Time Flies

So I’ve been slacking. In more ways than one.
I just realized that I hadn’t done much on here lately and you can only imagine my surprise when I look and see that my last post was at Thanksgiving.

So, here’s a quick little something to let you guys know I’m alive and still attempting to get my stories done.

Since I was last here, Caldera 7 came out at Christmas. I honestly can’t believe that I didn’t post something here at the holidays. Even a season’s greetings to my friends would have been nice.

After that, I took off a bit for the holidays and got a pretty slow start back to writing. It’s so easy to NOT write. It’s even easier when you get discouraged. How was I discouraged, you might ask? Well, let me tell you.

I HATE Windows 10. I remember now why I forced my laptop back to 8.1. But…I got myself a really nice new desktop with a huge monitor (old eyes and all that) and it came with Win10. I started suffering the same ransomeware type of behavior but ignored most of it. You know what I’m talking about. Your computer slows to a crawl, you can’t get online, nothing. Oh! You have an update waiting to be installed. If you set it to automatically update, you won’t have this issue anymore, we promise.

Like an idiot, I did. And when it installed the newest update, it cycled off and ‘saved’ a previous version of my works in progress. I had nearly 15 chapters of Caldera 8 and over a dozen chapters of Bridger II WIPED. Yes, I back up everything, and I even kept my thumbdrive plugged in to make it easier. Well, when it wiped out my current copies, it ALSO overwrote the files on my thumbdrive. If you follow me on Facebook you may remember that rant.

Needless to say, I went into panic mode.

I was able to get some of the data back by copying the files over from my old laptop, but I still lost a TON of work. That little experience really soured me and it has taken me a LONG time to force myself back to the keyboard. But I am back and I’m working tirelessly to catch the stories up to where they were and carry on. I could sit in the corner and cry about all of the words lost, but instead, I got revenge. I found every ‘hack’ I could online to prevent my computer from cycling power on its own and implemented them. If I were a smarter person, I’d just find a copy of Win 8.1 and force it onto my computer, but then I’d have to deal with all of the files again and I’m just sick of messing with it. Instead, I’d rather castrate the software and put it at my mercy. >insert evil laugh here<

Anywho, that’s it. That’s really about all I’ve been doing. Playing catch up because Microshaft decided to screw with me again.

Oh, and for the few of you that messaged me about the IMPACT teaser…I’m still not sure. I may have started a project along that line, but it’s taking a back seat to Caldera and Bridger. Maybe once I’m caught up a bit, I’ll readdress that.

Okay. That’s it. Y’all have a blessed day and keep the faith.

Heath

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 25, 2019 in Uncategorized