Friday, January 30, 2015

Dream of Dreams

Dream #1:
I was at my parents' house, and I heard someone in the downstairs bathroom, in the middle of the night. Muffled voices came through the locked door. I kicked it in, to find someone had tunneled out through the wall, and into the garage. I went up to the roof, and looked around. The yard was a topiary maze, one in which anyone could hide. 

I went to my friends' house, but they didn't recognize me at first. When they did, they hugged and hugged me. My father came over, and asked for my help finding whoever was crawling through his walls. I went back to their house, and found there were medieval, iron-barred wooden doors that led from the house to the maze. They were broken.  I promised to help.

There was a giant reel of wire in the garage, and my parents helped me unwind it.

Dream #2:
I was hanging out with another guy in a bar. The king of the land walked in, and had a drink. My friend and I decided to play a game: how much could we steal from under his nose. The bartender had short bread, lottery tickets, and all kinds of plastic crap. I walked up to the bar, and asked the bartender for lottery tickets and a few cheap games. I told the king they were for my kids. He gave me hundreds of thousands of dollars to give to them, so I wouldn't have to buy them cheap toys. While everyone was watching this, my friend stuffed his jacket with shortbread.

A crowd built to watch the king's generosity, and chased him out of the bar. My friend and I stole some black SUVs from the parking lot, and drove them back to my parents' house. (Yes, most of my dreams take place in my childhood home.)

A bunch of hippies came over, sat on the lawn, and started playing their guitars. For some reason, I poured chemicals onto my mother's rosebushes, realizing too late it would probably kill them. The sprinklers came on. My mom came out to ask what happened, and I lied and said I turned them on to wash the chemicals away. She said no, they're automatic, and showed me the switch.

Sorry, I know these are anticlimactic. Let's end this with a little sketch, may detail in the future.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

With Apologies to The CTW

Oh, oh, oh,
Who are the assholes in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood,
In your neighborhood?
Who are the assholes in your neighborhood?
They're the people that you meet each day.

Well city life sucks, you know,
Shoveling your car out of the snow.
But you just worsen your neighbor's load,
If you throw it all into the road.

Then the people who try to drive through,
Get stuck because of you.
You just watch as their wheels spin,
And others push them free again.

And the plowman pushes it all back,
Into a nice, hard pack.
Now I have to re-chisel out my ride,
Since you didn't shovel to the side.

But you're even worse by far,
If you dump snow in front of someone else's car,
If to me you ever do this thing,
They won't find your body until spring.

Oh, who are the assholes in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood,
In your neighborhood?
Who are the assholes in your neighborhood?
They're the people that you meet,
Shoveling snow into the street,
They're the lazy pricks you meet,

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

For those of you who are old fashioned...

Yea, rejoice and be merry - for the paperback edition is now available on Amazon!

(By the way, if you buy the paperback version of this or False Idols and Other Short Stories from Amazon, the Kindle edition is free.)


Monday, January 19, 2015

Behind the Scenes

I approved the paperback proof of The Lies of the Sage today, but it will take a few days before Amazon has it available for sale. In the meantime, here is some background information. Feel free to read before hand, but I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it more if you read the books first. I’ll try not to give any spoilers away.

A few real life events shaped this story. When I was young, a friend of mine lost her son to an illness. That always stayed with me, especially when both of my children spent their first few months in neonatal ICUs. (I have to state here that Alyanna’s character does NOT resemble her in any way, shape, or form - or anyone else I know, for that matter.) We also, for a brief while, owned a golden retriever named Bananas.

Over ten years ago, this book began as a short story, which took on many different forms as it progressed. Alyanna, in media res, was on the run with her son. She was being chased by a group of mysterious figures (possibly inspired by the men in black trench-coats from Dark City.) Their leader was Sigma, whose manner resembled The Lead Cenobite (Pinhead, to use the vernacular) from Hellraiser. At one point, the entire story took place in a city housed inside one giant tower.

The problem was, while I had the concept, I didn’t know what to do with it. The plot centered on Alyanna escaping with Matthew. But why did her mysterious cybernetic pursuers care so much? While the story was expanding, it wasn’t really moving in a concise direction. I found myself in a rut. I fleshed out a detailed back-story for the antagonists. To mix things up, I changed Sigma’s gender to female. Suddenly, she had an entire different set of motivations. This pushed the story in a new direction, and helped it move forward.

My son was about five or six at the time. While I’ve tried my best, I have to admit that I have been, at times, far from a perfect parent. Some of those flaws came out in Alyanna. Stephen King once said that (in his novel Firestarter) Charlie wasn’t based on his daughter, but his daughter had helped Charlie be herself. In the same way, Matthew is not based on my son, but he definitely helped me see life through Matthew’s eyes.

It made sense to me that the Cylebs would naturally think in metric terms, while everyone else sticks to the imperial measurement system.

I hate bugs.

Alyanna’s house computer was named Isis ever since the beginning. I thought of changing it after recent events, but I decided it wasn’t really necessary. Her car’s computer definitely owes a nod to Douglas Adams’s overly-helpful computer Eddie, but I do feel that electronics in general are becoming user-friendly to the point of annoyance.

When I was young, I had to see a child psychologist. When I joined the army many years later, I had to get a letter from the doctor explaining why. The letter stated that growing up, I had had the mind of an adult inside of a child’s body, and had had a hard time dealing with it. Also, having been prematurely gray since I was a teenager, people often have thought I’m older than my actual age. Hell, when I was forty, a girl at Dunkin Doughnuts gave me a senior discount.

“God Save the West” is based on the unofficial Confederate anthem, “God Save the South.”

My father and I often play pinochle. The joke he always tells when playing was a line from the Cosby Show: “No matter how dumb the dealer looks, always cut the cards.” When diamonds are played, he sings “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Obviously, both of these had to be changed for copyright reasons.

As I wrote the book over the years, it expanded to about 350 pages. After I released False Idols and Other Short Stories, I began polishing the novel to publishable standards.  When I had reached the cliffhanger at the end of the second act, the first 2/3 had expanded to about 320 pages (81k words,) and still had a hundred pages to go. This would have added another year of editing. There is another novel I’ve been working on over the years with similar themes. I decided to make that novel into the sequel, and end Lies on a “to be continued.”

Well, that’s it for now, I’ll add more if I think of anything I missed. I hope everyone enjoys it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


P.S. Something I just remembered. I took a picture of Bananas, and instead of having red-eye (this was back in the '80s, kids) she had glowing blue eyes from the flash. I once had a nightmare about her having eyes like that.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Joys of Magical Thinking

(In response to a comment on yesterday's post.)

Here's something that fascinates me:

Magical thinking IS real. We all control the universe with our minds, every second of our lives. Well, maybe not the entire universe, but definitely this planet.

You don't believe me? I'll prove it.

Stand up, walk to the nearest person, and say something affirming, or confusing. Anything from "You're a spiffy person, do you know that?" to "The Cookie Monster rises at midnight!"

Hey, you don't even have to go that far. Just take a deep breath and blow, spewing some of your own personal bacteria into the atmosphere. Bonus points if you have the flu and work in a crowded office.

The point is, our brains, every day, turn our thoughts into actions, which change our world. Hell, even woodlice do it.

See how easy that was? If you want to change the universe with your mind, make a decision, and do it. Let us meditate upon this, electrician style.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dreams and Childish Misunderstandings

I had a dream last night that I won a million dollars, and FedEx delivered the check. The driver was really scrungy looking, and heavily insinuated that she deserved a tip. I felt embarrassed, so I looked in my wallet for a twenty. She kept pressing against me and looking into my wallet, despite me repeatedly telling her to back off. Finally, I got pissed off, and said (ala the Soup Nazi) "No tip for you!" Went inside, and slammed the door in her face.

I had a conversation with my sisters via chat about misunderstandings children have, and the secret, false truths we cling to when we're a kid. For example, I would say the rosary at least once a night when I was a kid, because I was convinced if I didn't, bad things would happen to the people I loved. I would also say fifteen Hail Marys in a row instead of ten, just to show God I meant it. Also, after my grandfather died (when I was seven, I think) I used to pray that I would die in my sleep, so I wouldn't have to miss anyone else in my family.

Oh yeah, and I was convinced that I killed him, because I used to ask him to turn of his heater when the Muppet Show was on, because it caused interference. (Back in my day, kids, we had antennae, and electric devices and airplanes flying overhead used to make the picture all fuzzy...)

Sometimes we don't realize this as a parent. I can't remember who said it, but parents are butterflies who forget what it was like to be a caterpillar. For example, when my son was young, I would tell him that I wanted him to be self-sufficient, so he could take care of himself. Little did I know I was planting the fear in his mind that I was going to die soon and leave him. Kids can hold onto these secret fears without telling their parents.

Being a kid is fun, but it can also really f you up.


Friday, January 09, 2015

Better Late Than Never...

A couple of years later than promised, but here, for your gustatory enjoyment: Tony's Unpatented and Probably Stolen From Somewhere Else Delicious Lasagna.


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Je suis Charlie

Yesterday, terrorists killed twelve people at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, including four political cartoonists. Their crime: making cartoons that satirized Islamic terrorism. (Insert honest but obligatory "I don't believe all Muslims are terrorists" here.) My heart goes out to their families and loved ones. We still live in a world where people fear the spread of ideas so much, that they feel violence is an appropriate response.

My entry for "Draw Mohammed Day"

I'll leave this with the tongue-in-cheek censored ending to South Park's  episode "201," which inspired Draw Mohammed Day back in 2010:

Kyle: That's because there is no goo, Mr. Cruise. You see, I learned something today. Throughout this whole ordeal, we've all wanted to show things that we weren't allowed to show, but it wasn't because of some magic goo. It was because of the magical power of threatening people with violence. That's obviously the only true power. If there's anything we've all learned, it's that terrorizing people works.

Jesus: That's right. Don't you see, gingers, if you don't want to be made fun of anymore, all you need are guns and bombs to get people to stop.

Santa: That's right, friends. All you need to do is instill fear and be willing to hurt people and you can get whatever you want. The only true power is violence.


Tuesday, January 06, 2015


To promote the release of my new novel, the Kindle version of False Idols and Other Short Stories is FREE on Amazon from January 6-8. If you haven't already, get your copy now!


PS - Wowsers, only one day (Jan 7 at 4am EST) and it's #231 on Amazon's free ebook list! Thank you everyone, get it while it's hot! :D

Monday, January 05, 2015

Debris of Shadows Book I: The Lies of the Sage is now out for Amazon Kindle!

Now available for the Amazon Kindle.

In the late twenty-first century, North America is a divided continent. NorMec is a nation of prosperity, while the West is a wasteland, ravaged by metallic insects that devour everything in their path.

Alyanna Galbraith is one of NorMec’s most sought-after zhivoi-painters: artists who create living works of artificial intelligence. But when the enigmatic Cylebs take notice, she finds herself and her son trapped within a cybernetic world of imagination—one from which they may never escape.

This is the first in a trilogy of novels, and it's taken more than ten years to bring it to light. Thank you to everyone who has gotten me to this point. Your love, friendship, and support mean more than I can say.

A print version will be available in a few weeks. Also, to promote the release, I'll be giving away Kindle copies of False Idols and Other Short Stories from January 6-8. Stay tuned for more information!