Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

The bottle of Scotch was a gift to him, from him.

Merry Christmas.

They used to be warmer. Full of cheer and light, sweet voices and happy times, even the occasional carol or two. Now it was the alcohol that warmed him instead, pumping through his veins, making cheeks ruddy and eyes twinkle.

He was a regular Kris Kringle.

The tumbler sparkled in his hand. He shouldn't be drinking. Drinking poked holes in his head, making old memories start to tumble out. A smiling woman and a happy home, a white picket fence and 2.5 kids, the American dream, complete with apple pie. It was best to leave those memories packed away.

Because, really, all they really were was a dream. It was a world built on cotton candy clouds, destined to crumble, but for a short time, held up by hope.

Oh, how they had hoped.

He had loved her, and as far as he figured, she had loved him, too. They kissed and they cuddled, sharing pieces of themselves. She spoke of happy summers at the shore, bright days that were never-ending. She whispered of angry boyfriends with heavy hands. He listened, and gave up little parts of himself, too, secrets he hadn't told anyone else. She was the first, the only, woman he had ever loved.

But then, love hadn't been enough. Secrets they spoke, but they started to creep in as well, nasty little things hiding in the corners, dark spots in their bright lives. They were easy enough to ignore at first.

The Past Due notices weren't, however. He had asked her to pay the electric bill. Dutifully, she took it out of the account, the exact amount, as always. Except the money never seemed to make it from Point A to Point B. The numbers stood out, insistently red. He approached her, confused, and she bowed her head.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.


"Because I spent it." The words tumbled out. It had all been for him, really. Didn't he remember? A nice little gift, a pair of tickets to the White Sox game, front row and center. He'd been able to see hometown heroes Lefty Williams and Happy Felsch, stunning swings and sizzling strikes. Of course there was a price to pay for something he loved. There always was. Hadn't he realized that? Hadn't he liked the game?

"Yes," he admitted quietly. "But we can't do this again. I love you, and I appreciate you, but... Right now, we have to scramble to pay the lights. We've got to put the basics before ourselves." She agreed, apologizing profusely. She would never do it again.

Except she did. The next time it was the car payment, mysteriously missing. Again the perplexed husband went to his beautiful bride, and again she looked down. A simple explanation and a heartfelt apology followed.

She would never do it again.

The next time it was the house note, exchanged for a radio.

The next time it was the water bill, spent on a sweater.

The next time it was groceries, a down payment for acting lessons.

Each time he confronted her a little less patiently, and each time her apologies were a little less sincere. He'd get angry. Then so would she. Heartfelt talks turned into screaming matches.

Neither ever seemed to win.

"Stop," he had asked her.

"Please," he had begged her.

"Fucking stop!" he had screamed.

He had even hit her once.

That hadn't worked, either. She grew resentful and he adopted loathing, a His and Hers matching set of heartache. The white picket fence started to splinter, while the idea of children started to fade. There were more fights and fewer apologies. She stopped smiling, and he stopped laughing.

But now it was Christmas, a time for change, for cheer, a new beginning for a long hurt. Maybe, just maybe, they could forget all that happened. Maybe, just maybe, they could love one another again. He needed her to love him again. And how he had worked on a change. There was a roaring fire, a glowing tree, the house filled with the sights and scents of the holiday season. Of course, there was one other thing he had managed to get:

An empty home.

That last one hadn't been in his plans. He didn't even know it would happen until she was already gone, a note left on the coffee table. When he picked it up, the piece of parchment was short and to the point.

"Gone to Mom's."

And with that, his revival was repulsed.

He reached for the bottle, filling the glass. The Scotch swam over the ice, driving it to tink off the edges of the glass, a lazy motion on a special day. Down came the bottle and up came his hand, wrapping around his other Christmas present to himself. It was a reassuring weight in his hand, the sort of heft that Smith & Wesson were eager to offer.

All it took was a flick of the wrist to open the barrel of the gun. Six empty chambers stared up at him hungrily. It was a scant Christmas dinner that he offered up, one bullet for every year of heartbreak. Another flick of the wrist, and the revolver clacked shut. Back he leaned and started to play a Christmas game.

Which would empty first, the bottle or the barrel.

Had this sad little bit on my mind after a fight with somebody. You get tired of constant confrontation, and no more than on Christmas, I'm sure.

I originally thought this was going to be Johnny, but it just didn't quite fit. Perhaps another sad soul, somewhere in his world.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


"You shouldn't have come back."

Brian knew that. He had fled into the night years ago, trying to forget this house, trying to forget this man. Time had passed, but the memory always remained. It stalked him, haunted him, filled his waking hours with anxiety and his sleeping with horror. He tried to forget. He honestly had. Brian went to counselors, made friends, even dated a girl or two, all the sort of things a man does when he tries to heal.

But he simply, couldn't, forget. That's why he was back, ready to confront his demons. His Demon. The old man sat with his back to Brian, fingers gripping the armchair, form distorted by the flicker of the television. He was as terrible as the man remembered, a Bogeyman of boyhood days. The old man would always sit there, illuminated by the screen's light, black and white playing across his features, the shine of the screen making his glasses glow. It was his habit to make the boy wait, standing behind, watching the play of shadows, dreading the beating that invariably came. He would watch, and the boy would wait. Brian couldn't lift his legs to walk, to run, to escape those horrible days.

He could, however, lift the knife to confront them.

"I know, Dad. But here I am."

The novel is progressing better than expected. I expected it to suck, to be honest. Maybe all writers think that, especially when they're trying to tackle an ambitious project. But here I am, feeling positive, like this can work. The characters are likable, interesting, different. I can spot a thing or two already that I'll need to change, but we'll worry about that in revisions.

For now, I'll just enjoy the experience.

The story's origin comes from the most recent Castlevania games (Lord of Shadows). There's something so very epic about a son coming home to confront the father. There's something primal in that. It worked for Shakespeare, and I suppose it works for me, too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014



I don't know what I would do without my agent.

They're big, bold words, sure. Most writers aspire to an agent. They're the gatekeeper, the status symbol, that banner that shows we've made it. We're above the humdrum, above the day-to-day, having fought tooth and nail to get out from the bottom.

But they actually have a use outside of our ego.

These people, at least the right ones, are our champions. They cheer on our successes, mourn with our failures, care about us as clients, sure, but also as human beings. They want to see us grow, for business, but also for ourselves. They're busy people, and they can't be there all the time, but goddammit, when they are, it's wonderful.

There's more, though. They just aren't champions -- they pull a motherfucking twist, turn that noun into a verb, and champion us. They push us to editors, publishers, these big ivory tower sorts who we probably have never heard of, and who certainly haven't heard of our unwashed masses. They bring their enthusiasm everyday, speaking excitedly about a project they've read in and out, edited until their eyes bleed. They talk up our material in ways we can't see, and what we sometimes don't deserve. Again, it's business, but they also believe.

These motherfuckers looked through hundreds of other submissions. They literally had their pick of hundreds, if not thousands, of other desperate voices, wanting to do this mad thing we call "writing." The agents slapped them aside for weak queries, poor grammar, uninteresting plotline, but you... you were different. They swatted away all the other contenders, pointed to you, and said, "Let's boogie on the dance floor."

They believe this shit they're saying. They believe that you're good, capable, and people will love your shit. Sure, some of them are soulless husks, operating on what might turn a quick dime. But the good ones, the quality ones, want to grow your career, and grow with you.
I know self-publishing is big. I know it's great. But goddammit, somewhere in your career, get an agent. Get someone who will be your champion, who will champion you, who will be there on the good days, but also the bad. Someone who will do their best to see your art grow, and also see you grow.

If your experience is half what mine has been with Jennifer Azantian, I don't think you'll come away unhappy.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


The skin sloughed off Amir's arm. One layer and then another, slipping to the floor in fleshy tangles. He gave an exasperated sigh, pulled at the bits that clung erratically, refusing to budge without a fight.

So Amir fought before turning his attention to his other arm, tugging here, twisting there, layers of skin occupying the space around his ankle. He then worked up, peeling his chest, pulling at his pectorals, the same motion for the same result. There he laid on the ground, a doppelganger of discarded flesh. Only one piece was missing, but it was an important distinction.

"I hate shedding," muttered Amir.

Then he reached for his face.

I've been busy with the holidays and writing, dammit, so here's a quick 'lil somethin'. I didn't ever proofread it. I'll probably be goddamned ashamed later.

Right now I'm pretty good, though.

I'm about to go back over the outline of the cyberpunk book. Strengthen some character arcs, give it a little more strength. Hopefully that'll make the writing a little easier.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


The worst thing about humanity is that we're all-too-human.

We laugh, we cry, we love and we hate. Oh, how we hate. Different religions and races, sects and classes, political parties and football teams. The Green Bay Packers hate the Chicago Bears for a game that happened nearly a century ago, while the Bears despise the Packers for their dogged push to victory. Of course the North hates the inbred and ignorant South, while the South hates the highfalutin North with the white-hot intensity only a civil war could only inspire. 'Round and 'round hate goes, stopping for a span of what amounts to seconds in a very ancient world.

Even our neighbors aren't exempt from our ire.

So how did Cassandra even have a chance?

She was a small girl, smaller than most, slight of limb, and short of leg. Her grin was lop-sided, her eyes slightly askew, a child that most people might call slow. "She missed her milestones," her mother would say sadly, much to her shame and the secret excitement of parents whose children were on track. The child was not loved, but pitied, a glass doll who might be precious and protected, but certainly was never cradled. Yet her eyes sparkled, full of that bit of magic always so rare in humanity:


She started with her parents, gentle words and sweet assurances, a doting nature that seemed to empathize with their disappointment. They would cry, and she would soothe, the little mother to towering children. Her soft hands would smooth away their worries, one by one. Slowly they forgot the disappointment of her birth.

Her life more than made up for it. Next came the neighborhood children, full of taunts and jeers, laughter over the slightest of differences. They slung stones and words, the former drawing blood, but the latter making the real wounds. And yet she would still approach them, offering her crooked smile, an opening salvo of sweet words.

"Go away!" Henry would scream, the biggest of the children, and their leader for that very reason. Cassandra never listened, enduring the stones that would shortly follow.

"What happened to you?" her mother would ask, dabbing at cuts, gently doting bruises. Cassandra would simply scratch at the scabs, her brown eyes shining.

"I was jes' playin'," she would reply.

The children were playing on that day, too. Hop-scotch in the street, crudely erected lines on an asphalt backdrop. How they would jump, one foot, two, and back to one again, testing the balance that they were just starting to discover.

As always Cassandra sat on the sidelines, watching, but not participating, an unwelcome, but persistent, presence. Nearly everyone watched the board, the newest player dancing their way across the asphalt for their delight. Only Cassandra watched the street, filled with the instinct more common in mother hens than children of her age.

She was the first to see the car.

It swerved around the corner, a squeal of rubber on the road. It jerked to one side before falling back flat to the street, the sharp turn doing little to stop its speed. The children laughed, and then gasped, as the car approached faster and faster. They couldn't see the brown package in the driver's hand, nor the dull look in her eyes. All they could see was the half-ton of Detroit steel hurtling towards them. They screamed and scattered, leaving the jumper, the previous apple of their eye, to the street.

Henry turned. If he had been older, he would claim he knew the taste of fear then. The tickling of bile at the back of his throat, the stale taste of breath between his teeth. Yet he was a child, and he thought as one. Terror surged through his head. His legs locked and, for the first time in his life, being big did absolutely nothing for him. It was simply him and the car, and things were working in the car's favor.

Then Henry felt a pair of slight arms wrap around his torso, squeezing, shoving. "Go!" shouted a voice. It was so sweet, so insistent that the boy could only obey. His knees bent, his feet surged forward, and he was free. Away from the car, away from the road, occupying the safety of the sidewalk.

That's when he heard the crunch. A small body disappeared underneath the car. The vehicle didn't stop. It didn't even slow. It simply ran its course and then it was gone, another squeal around another corner. Cassandra had been the only one who wasn't playing in the street.

Now she was the only one left in it, a happy little smile lining her face.

I've been reading a lot of Neil Gaiman. Say what you will, but he has some ability when it comes to short stories. I wanted to try something more than my usual fare. I think that this is lacking, somehow. Perhaps I just don't have what it takes to write contemporary. Maybe my works just need the element of strange and unusual to give them some sort of strength.

Still, I think the above was a noble attempt if nothing else.

I need to get to proofreading my book, again. I've learned an excellent method in doing it: read to yourself. It takes more time, but you more easily find poor sentence construction, stilted flow, misspellings, and ideas that simply don't work. I shouldn't have dismissed the suggestion in the first place.

Well, my ignorance is my regret.

Monday, November 3, 2014


When did it begin?

Some might say it was the public education system. Chaotic and cruel, it was a struggling beast without the funds or heart for rehabilitation. Others would look to homes, broken as they had come to be, offering no respite from a big, mean world. These would claim the gun lobby, others the lack of personal responsibility, a back and forth that never saw an end.

A select few might say that it was simply because of a world cruel enough to produce lead.

Whatever the reasons, wherever the start, Chuck had a gun.

That was bad for everyone. It was a beautiful piece, long and silver, shining like a star when held to the sun. He kissed it once, twice, trying to impart a heavy heart on such a slim barrel. The bullets would carry his hurt. His hurt and a little more, anyway, powered by a little extra umph courtesy of gunpowder.

Chuck stopped in front of the door. Just beyond it was all the hurt and pain, a childhood of torment, an adolescence of screams. It was a homecoming long delayed. He took one deep breath, two just to be sure. It was time to make his entrance. He knew just the way.

Chuck raised the gun to the sky.

I liked the beat of that. So much I'm not going to edit it. It might be positively awful afterwards, but goddammit, I like the movement too much to ruin the afterglow. Seriously, to be finished with it like this is simply heaven.

Have you noticed I put guns in a lot of my short stories? I don't care for the damned things, but they've got a power in imagery, I must admit. There's just something about someone with a lost cause, and a gun to back it up.


I probably incriminated myself, right there.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dead Girl

It was happening again.

I could hear the strange laughter, disembodied, dancing, echoing through the warehouse. Shadows moved and shifted, darting here and sliding there, giving up no sight other than black. It was happening again, and I was as powerless as the first time. My hands trembled.

I started to cry hot tears. They did little to relieve the chill of the warehouse. Slowly the shadows wrapped around the room, an ever-tightening noose meant just for me. Slowly the circle shrank until only I was left.

Slowly I watched death approach. I couldn't let it end like this. I wouldn't let it end like this. I had escaped the darkness once before. I could do it again. I just had to be brave.

I put the gun to my head and closed my eyes.

Just one more time.

A brief little something for Halloween. I actually rather like the idea. Salvation through death. We'll see if this ever goes anywhere, guys.

Also, two rejections with the manuscript. UGH. All I need is the one "yes," though. Friends (including the lovely Jami Nord) are currently looking over my second book, and I'm writing up my cyberpunk universe.

Keep several irons in the fire, as V.E. Schwab said. It's not  bad advice, I have to admit.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


The first time I ever saw a man die, I was seventeen.

That man was my father.

He had fallen the previous day. Really, it was nothing unusual. Charles Earl Stewart was given to accidents. The many strokes had left his body weak, his mind weaker, and a moment's confusion was by all means normal. He had once climbed on the roof and been unable to get down. In the scheme of things, a little fall was nothing to be concerned about.

Except it was. There was no moving on from this. He had fallen to the floor, and simply couldn't get back up. As much as his muscles my strain, try as his mind might will, he couldn't rise. It took the combined efforts of my mother, brother, and I to drag him back to the bed. There he laid, as weak as a newborn. He could barely move, six feet of fragility. 

It was obvious Dad couldn't take care of himself. Mom debated whether she would be able to work anymore. There was no way we could afford a caregiver. There was no way we could afford to give up her job, either. The future was so terribly uncertain.

We all fell into a fitful sleep.

It didn't take long for it to be interrupted. "Wake up! Your dad's dying!" screamed Mom. It only had to be said once. We flew from our beds and into his bedroom, frantic feet for what we had long feared. We had expected this moment for years, but never knew how it would come.

I never expected that my father's face would be blue. Not a white or light grey, but an actual blue, the color of frozen skin. His eyes were wide, his hand was shaking. He seemed to reach out to me, to someone, wanting help or just someone to hold him as he passed. I took his hand. It was the only thing I could really do. Tears ran down my face as blood poured out his mouth. He tried to speak, but there were no last words for my father. No heartfelt advice or well wishes. No moment of clarity before the end. Not even a shout of disapproval.

The blood choked down everything.

It's the first thing that popped up in my mind, so I wrote it. A ten year old memory, for the readers. Maybe that'll immortalize my dad. Give him an added bit of life that he lost over a decade ago.

I'm near completion with the second draft of the novel. Then it goes out to alpha readers, and we've got this motherfucker on the road.

Looking forward to that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


It had been twelve years since Alice had seen Mika. 

She never would again. Not encased behind that closed casket affair, three inches of steel that separated sweet Mika from the rest of the wide world. She had been beautiful in life, a fiery determination that glowed in her eyes and wove along her features. Every glare was hell-fire, every smile fireworks.

They had stolen it all with a well-applied blowtorch. Eyes, lips, nose, all burnt away, sending a message for the world to see.

Alice got the message loud and clear. The cosmeticians couldn't recreate Mika's face, "too little to work with" they said, so they did the next best thing. They shoved her into a steel box. Alice's fingers stroked along the cold metal, wishing for one last look, no matter how different the reality was from her memories.

They'd been fast friends, occasional lovers, and even that hadn't been enough to keep them together. They drifted apart casually like the continents, one easing that way, another this, slowly and inexorably. Mika was happy to stay a Delivery Woman, fast days and dangerous nights, filled with the flow of stims and the hail of bullets. For Alice, it was only the means to an end. Make a lot of money and break free, forgetting the dangers she left at her back. She went legit, grabbing a degree, opening a law firm, and making a name for herself somewhere other than the slums.

It'd been years since she held a spar amplifier. The metal felt awkward in her hand, heavier than it used to, the days when she was on the streets rather than in the courtroom. But she'd adapt. If nothing else, rage had a way of helping the process along. With one hand, she'd hold them at gunpoint. With the other, she'd sculpt their faces with fire. It was justice.

But Alice would never see Mika again. 

Not even revenge could take the sting off of that.

So. This post was a little long in coming. I miiiiight have forgotten I needed to update this thing. Hahahahaohcrap.

Things are going well, though. I am NEARING the end of this second draft of my second book. Once I have that done, I'm throwing myself full force into my cyberpunk novel. I've got some great ideas that seem to meet general approval. All I need is a plot.

Jesus Christ, I need a plot!

Still, I feel like I'm becoming a real writer. That things are melding, molding, and forming something greater than what I was. That my craft is growing. Perhaps that's the best feeling to have.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


There were gods once, long ago.

They were strange, but it was the sort man should expect from the divine. Their eyes were large and their ears pointed, their limbs stretched long, and their heads held tall. With a wave of their hand, thunder would rumble over the horizon. With a stamp of their foot, wheat would stretch its neck from the soil. They were grand gods, and much beloved.

But they were not omnipotent. Some might point to zoimantry as their killer, others could suggest nationalism, but the truth was so much simpler. It was an intrinsic part of their nature, often overlooked by the masses, and certainly ignored by themselves. Hrefna was as guilty as any of her sisters.

For all their strangeness, they were as fallible as any man,

Jokum Ostergaard - Pa Blight og Dens Efterspil

Well, Jennifer has sent out the manuscript to a few publishing agencies. The pitch will be going out to others Tuesday. It's exciting, and wonderful, and it's my very future happening in front of me. Justin Stewart's Dead Man Walking. Justin Stewart's! It only makes me want to work that much harder for the future. I want this so bad that I can taste it.

But I need to prepare for the waiting game. If I thought that waiting with agents was rough, then I'll be in for a hell of an experience with the publishers. Still, it's something I welcome. Once I get the first book through, hopefully the second, third, and twentieth will be shoe-ins.

I'm blessed to have so many people who love and support me. They keep me going when I doubt myself (which seems more often than it should be). I'd like to thank them in general. Honestly, if I was to list names, I'd be here all night.

Chances are, if you're here, then I'm thankful for you. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Used and Abused

I looked into the mirror.

I didn't like what was looking back at me. Namely about twenty extra pounds around the middle, a spare tire if I'd ever seen one. I reached down, giving the fat a little squeeze. It was nothing that some discipline and a few thousand crunches couldn't take care of. If I set my mind to it, it'd fade in a few weeks.

But then, I was never very disciplined to begin with. I longed for the days where all it'd take was a snip job, expensive, but effortless. I'd go under the gas a fat man, and wake up as skinny as my heart's desire. But then, cosmetics cost money.

Money and I weren't on speaking terms. I eased my fingers up to my face, tracing the lines along it. Really, the scars were thinner than a piece of dental floss, invisible to the casual and even concerted observer. It was the best sort of surgery money could buy, pencil-tip lasers, small incision implants, and a bunch of other industry jargon that leaked out my ear. And it had been invested in me. Elevated cheekbones, jutting jaw, the full package in a single specimen. My waistline might go to pot, but the rest of me would make a pretty corpse.

Maybe death would be preferable to where I was. Washed up, done in, used. Fifteen years with Chen, fifteen of my finest years, only for everything to end because of one mistake. I closed my eyes. I couldn't stand the sight of me. I was once one of the best, but once was a long time ago.

Sadly, regret didn't pay the bills.

I slipped on a shirt, easing it on a couple of buttons at a time, the faux-silk soft against my skin. The jacket followed of course, a red sort with a serpent coiling around my heart. Age might have made me slow, but the symbolism certainly wasn't lost on me. Neither were really important, though, not when there remained the piece de resistance. A pair of black Aviators awaited me, into my fingers, over my ears, anointing me with the Brand I'd cultivated for so many years. It felt good, right, like I was the person I was supposed to be, no matter what bumps popped up in the road.

A blip flashed across one of the lenses, a string of ugly green text, made uglier by the implication in it.

"Used carsalesmen rnt xactly in BIG demand!!! This is ur last chance, jumper!!! U comin'???"

I looked back into the mirror. I took a breath.

"Yeah. I'm coming."

Just an idea for the cyberpunk world I'm cooking up. I don't know if it'll retain this noir style, this character, or anything of the sort. I like writing noir, but I don't want to be a one-trick pony, you know? I have to say, though, that the character is certainly likable. I love Johnny to death, but he's a bit of a bastard.

There's something more fragile about this fella. I wonder what his name is?

The book is coming along well, by the way. Hopefully we've got the last edit done for the first (at least for a while). I still need to hop in and tackle the second book as it's on first draft. And of course I'm making this cyberpunk universe. I know it's not clear in the text above, but "Used Car Salesmen" is a bit of slang. 

Our hero didn't sell cars, true, but he was just as sleazy with his methods.

Monday, September 22, 2014


So, I probably should have written a blog post. Probably. But I didn't. Why, might you ask?

Because writing is consuming my life.

To be a little more clear, I'm working on a second project while I'm editing my book. I'm brainstorming a cyberpunk world, trying to mesh out a culture and theme. It's coming nicely, but it's still coming. I figure rather than taking time and effort to write out a post, I'd let you get a rough glimpse of at least one section.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present...

The Stiletto Pigeon!

The Stiletto Pigeon is a flying drone normally deployed in assassination. It can carry knives, poison darts, and electrical stunners. While they don't look like pigeons, they leave shit everywhere like their namesake.

I feel pretty good about that, right there. It's evocative, if not inventive. Wait. What's that? You want more? A few sentences aren't enough? Well, goddammit, you're the reader, and the reader is always (HAHAHAHA) right!

Reform Gown - a jumpsuit worn by prisoners that can send electrical impulses into the convict's body. Guards and other personnel can control the prisoner to some degree ("Freeze!" or "March!"). Of course given the setting, there might be more abusive postures ("Kowtow!").

So that's a brief, brief snippet into my world. I hope it's interesting. If not, well, fuck you, this is my heart and soul. I should have a real post later. Thanks for bearing with me, guys.

It's easy to get tunnel vision on these things.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


In 2000, I voted Republican. I was full of hope and wonder. We were bringing Christ back into the schools. We were putting terrorism in its place. We were picking up ourselves up by the bootstraps as a nation, away from an administration filled with scandal. I knew it was the right move.

We all make mistakes. Some are simply pronounced "nu-cu-lar" and others are even more pronounced. George W. Bush first taught me that sad little lesson.

The dog wrapped around my arm wanted the last word on the topic. I thought this was going to be a routine sort of job. Slip in, slip out, no muss, no fuss. The place had no big name security systems, no armed guards, nothing that spoke of glitz and glam. Just high walls, deterrents to the overweight, but few others. I should have known that if they used one old way, they'd go for another.

"Down Cujo!" I screamed.

No luck.

"Is that a squirrel?!"

No dice.

"Get the fuck off me!"

It was useless as the last. Me, I'm an animal lover. I stop at every chance to pet a dog and carry a cat. I donate to the ASPCA regularly.

What I'm trying to say is I'm a decent person.

So it was really hard to plant that tire iron into Lassie's head.

ANY POLITICAL OPINIONS RELATED IN THIS STORY ARE THE CHARACTER'S AND NOT MINE. DO NOT FLAY ME ALIVE. This is just a short little thing I wrote up with Kelly over at What Things I Have Found. She started with an idea, I jumped on it, and we kept a back and forth going. I have to admit it was a lot of fun, and she sparked a little creativity inside of me.

I'm finishing the epilogue of the second book's first draft, so that's exciting. Of course I'll start editing after that and who likes editing? Writing new scenes is always a pleasure, though, little bits that I missed the first time on my way. It's funny where they can take a story, or what great stuff they can add.

I hope you guys will like the story. It ends with a BANGHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAitsnotfunnyunlessyou'vereadit!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

In the Beginning

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

It wasn't really the beginning, not from His perspective, anyway. The beginning had been much longer ago, before Anyone had thought to record. Perhaps God Himself didn't for a very special reason.

In the beginning there was God. And he was lonely.

There was Nothingness, sure, but Nothingness wasn't much of a conversationalist. God would speak. Nothingness would stay silent. God would laugh. Nothingness would consume the sound. God would travel. Nothingness would merely be. It wasn't by some master plan that God conceived Creation, as He would later claim.

It was simply desperation.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, but they were only the start. Light and darkness came next, and water and sky were divided. None were the focal point of the Lord, however. These could not feel, however, could not laugh, nor even cry. They were incidental in God's plan, created for a single, solitary purpose.

His name was Adam.

The publishing world continues to be maddeningly slow, but to have some hope. Jennifer's pitching away, and I'm terribly excited. It looks like there might be an interest or two in Dead Man, so let's keep our fingers crossed. I only hope that the actual book can follow up Jennifer's excellent presentation.

The story above is something I've suggested before. God didn't create because He was confident, or guided by some great plan. He merely succumbed to what haunts Creation:

Loneliness. It creates a more human picture of a Creator, something fallible and lonely. It certainly explains the rage sometimes inherent in the Old Testament, when God will not suffer others to follow anyone but Himself. Of course I'm crossing over to blasphemy with all of this. Still, though.

It's something I'd like to explore one day. I just don't know how well it would work as a novel. I think it would be better as a short story, or a lead up to the Creation. Adam, Eve, or something entirely new would be the focal for a story like this.

At least, that's my belief.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A friend of mine (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, CASEY) and I are really getting into the upcoming MMO Star Citizen. He poked at me to write a story about our characters and crew, so I went for it. There should be more to it, but this is as far as I go before I crapped up.

I'm looking forward to seeing what's coming around the corner (Casey made me write that at gunpoint, for the love of Godhelpme).

Oh, my friend Joe just put up his site for transmedia.  It basically explores writing in multiple medias, be it the traditional novel, the age old movie, or throwing up some Youtube content. He's just getting this thing off its feet, and I'd appreciate your support for him.

Still plugging away at the book. In a few weeks I should have a pitch-ready draft. Then I get to wait impatiently for editors. Ughhhh, I'm impatient already dammit.

As far as dives went, I hadn't see much worse. The bar was greasy, and its patrons even greasier, worn down from long days of small ships with no showers. You'd think the first thing they'd do when docking was take a nice, long bath, but given the locale, that was expecting too damn much. After all, the whole place stunk of shame and bad decisions, and alcohol wasn't apt to stop either.

It was the perfect place for me. I once wrote front page columns, the name "Edward Jones" emblazoned across vid screens the Sphere (adjust) wide. Now I was in some seedy little hole-in-the-wall, conducting human interest stories that might might be glimpsed by a handful of eyes. Akira Corporation was busting my balls.

I planned to bust a pair of my own. They just so happened to be attached to the only other man who saw fit to shower. He sat in a corner booth, a nearly empty pitcher and a very full glass the only things keeping him company. I decided to add the human element to the scene, slipping into the seat across from him.

"Captain Davion," I said, "A pleasure to meet you." I extended my hand across the table. The good captain eyed it, eyed his beer, and chose the option that was already in-hand. He drained half the glass before giving me a second look.

"Crybaby Jones," he said with a little grin, "You certainly keep aman waitin'." My eye twitched, which only seemed to increase the captain's amusement. Some writers had "Hemingway" or "King" as their nicknames, comparisons to the greats. I wasn't so lucky. "Crybaby" was going to haunt me until the day that I died, which given my company, was hopefully soon.

"I'm sorry. It took me sometime to find you. You didn't look how I expected."

"Oh? Whatddya expect?" he asked curiously.

Sobriety. Of course I kept that little kernel to myself. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but it has a hard time competing with a pistol. The captain had just such a beast strapped to his thigh, the holster worn with age and use. No, if I was going to put my life on the line, it'd be by ordering one of the drinks there.

"That you were taller," I said sweetly, pulling out my Mobi-Glas. The screen popped up over the keyboard, semi-transparent blue taking on tones of brown leather from Devion's jacket. "So, I heard that you just saw some action, Captain. Can you tell me about it?" Any good space goat would love a chance to brag, and I didn't see why Davion would be any different.

My perception was never precise. The ensuing silence meant I had made a miscalculation. The disappearing smile suggested I may have done more than just that. I squirmed in my seat as sweat rolled down my brow, the cool room suddenly sweltering. I cleared my throat, and tried another tack. A career of writing bullshit suddenly came in handy.

In turned out I could say it just as easily.

"You and your crew were single-handedly responsible for the survival of a Lieben Salvage convoy last I checked, and odds that weren't something to sniff at. A Cutlass and a handful of Auroras against your lonesome Connie. A few of Lieben went so far as to call you a hero."

Few men don't like to brag. Even fewer don't like being bragged about, especially when the "h" word is brought to bear. The silence stayed, but his green gaze wavered, meaning I could start breathing again. I sucked in a few, sweet swallows of filtered oxygen as Davion's eyes drug along the tabletop. He had a story in mind, and I meant to take it down. The sooner he said it, the sooner I was done, and I could leave this place behind, taking in the few comforts a Legionnaire could offer. My fingers were poised as Davion's lips parted.

"My father used to say that a ship's name had to have soul."

I blinked. My fingers froze.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cracked Coconut

Her fist came down like a five-fingered hammer, centered on my skull. I followed suit shortly, face hitting the floor. My vision exploded in the kind of colors you'd see on the Fourth of July, reds and blues that threatened to go black. I shook my head. Going unconscious would be too easy.

I couldn't afford easy right now. She stepped forward, heavy feet dragging along the floorboards. The fact that my head was in one piece was a miracle. If ol' Gertie took the wrong step, I'd have one cracked coconut.

I figured it was about time to keep out of her way.

That little scene there is just something tossed out of my head. I really need to use that in one of the books, sometime. "Five-fingered hammer." Shit. That one is gold. I dunno how I feel about Johnny calling his head a "coconut," but my friend Trish used it, and I think it kinda fits the noir style of the books.

Writing's going well. I'm nearly done completing the first draft of the second book. Jennifer's hard at work looking over my manuscript, and helping me get that polish ready. A friend of mine, Joe Kawano, was kind enough to do an interview with me. Hopefully it'll pop up sometime on his Launch Your Universe Youtube show ( shameless plug: ).

I'm keeping my impatience reigned in for the moment. There's always the desire to run fast and far. I need to breathe in and take one day at a time. Crawl before you walk, right?

Saturday, August 16, 2014


I'm miserable.

I suppose that's why I write. I've worked at a string of jobs that have been frustrating, mind numbing, and simply heart-wrenching. I've been yelled at, cursed, and treated like an idiot child. Sadly, these conditions are nothing outside the normal fare. I'm not going out and punching puppies for a living or throwing revolutions in cheerful democracies. I've been tromping through the normal 9-5 most of my life, jobs that earn "an honest day's buck."

These are the jobs that are grinding people under heel. Retail, customer service, fast food, they're the foundation of our consumer culture, where the customer is right, the employee is wrong, with the assumption the latter is a full human being. And why would they be? I see people drag into work, sad, frustrated, dreading yet another day of toil and abuse. They go in not because they want to, but because they have no choice. Some might say they can make a decision in the process, but it's a poor argument. If you have a gun to your head, you can choose to live or die.

It's the same sort of logic.

Some don't have degrees, others have found those pieces of paper to be just that, and neither have the luxury of returning to school. They have families, siblings, husbands, wives, and children, people who are depending on their meager wage to make it through. If it's a toss up between starvation and misery, and misery will be the winner nine times out of ten. Through their sacrifice, they might be able to save those they love. So they enter a situation that's terrible and yet acceptable, confining any happiness to too-short weekends and holidays (if they can get the days off).

It's the plight of the American worker, and it's simply unforgivable. It's worse in other places, no doubt. There are sweatshops, slavery, and maybe even worse in this wide world, third world hell holes that the corporate elite exploit. We have it head and shoulders above the rest of the world, but that doesn't mean we have it right. We claim to be first world, but we can't even treat our people first-rate. 

Employers shy away from healthcare despite government mandates, slashing hours for their employees (hey there, Home Depot!). While corporations make record profits, they weed out the wages of their top earners (I'm looking at you, Walgreens!). They can't pay a livable wage, so they suggest their workers should honorably work an 80 hour week (McDonalds, you card!). This doesn't even begin to cover abusive work practices where the talk equals the treatment. Of course, some proponents of this shout trickle down economics, others say better benefits can't be sustained, but they're just rationalizations for disposable people.

We consume our countrymen and don't think twice as to why.

When will enough be enough? When we look at the majority of our nation, those who struggle for healthcare, food, dignity, and give them all three? When will we stop sneering at those who need help, when it's the vast majority of us that do? When will we save our countrymen rather than damning them? I'm miserable, but I can write. No matter how slight, I have a way out to a better future.

So many others don't.

When will we decide to change that?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I'm an idiot.

It's as simple as that. What else would you call someone who believes a lie repeated a hundred times? It's stupid, foolish, moronic, along with a bunch of other words found in a thesaurus. So why? Why believe the lie?

Because I want to. I want to believe in happy endings, redemption stories, of my own legend where I save the day. I listen to the lies because I need them, because I don't want to see what ultimately happens when I let them go. I know that everything will fall apart. I realize I'm that flimsy glue, holding their whole goddamned world together. So I take the vitriol, the abuse, the "baby, why you gotta make me hurt you" sort of relationship that exists with my family.

I'm stuck between weeping and screaming, and probably could manage a good mixture of the two. But instead I'm right here, writing. Maybe it's because I think this will save me. Somehow that I'll be transported to a world where I'm famous, and if not rich, at least relevant. Where I can escape the bad times that I bring on myself. Where I won't need people that ultimately hurt me.

A future where I've smartened up.

Even an idiot can dream.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

3 A.M. and the Barrel of a Gun

It is 3 a.m., I can't sleep, and I just wrote this. Maybe one day we'll meet The Scarred Man. Until then, let's have a fanciful little "what-if." I tried to do this from a third-person sort of perspective, because I'm always hitting up the first-person. I felt like this turned out punchier than I thought.

I'm probably not going to go back and edit this. It was more "for fun" than anything else. Sometimes a story just pops in your head, and has to be told.

"Open up, Johnny."

Johnny most certainly wasn't about to open up. Opening up meant submission, humiliation, the intimidation that The Scarred Face favored so much. Not that Johnny was necessarily an opponent of intimidation. He was all for it when it came to his line of work, the right action or word that'd turn stalwart into songbird. But when it came to being the intimidated? No, Johnny just was fine keeping his teeth clamped nice and tight.

That's why a pistol whipping was in order. The first smashed into his temple. The detective saw stars. The second went across his nose, putting a bend in an otherwise straight piece of bone. The third went about breaking up his skeleton smile. Bone and blood flew from the handle of the handgun, drawing a little gasp from the detective.

It was the perfect opening for the barrel of a gun. It tasted like a roll of pennies, if U.S. currency was in the habit of punching holes in skulls.

"Now was that so hard?" asked the Scarred Man, enjoying the fact it had been. Johnny's head swam, nausea and anger competing for attention. As always, anger ran to the forefront. He growled into the handgun. The Scarred Man blinked, once, twice.

"... What was that?"

Johnny repeated.

"That's ahell of a thing to say about aman's mother."

And yet the dead man meant every word of it. The mobster with the cut lip sighed. This was getting him nowhere, fast. Most men would be crying, pleading, begging for a second chance. Not Johnny. Maybe it was because he'd already had his second chance, a reprieve from death's dark door. Maybe it was because second chances weren't all they were cracked up to be. Whatever it was, the Scarred Man was losing face in front of his men, and fast. That's why he had to make a decision.

He'd love to hurt Johnny, to break every bone, but he'd already pulled out the gun. If he didn't pull the trigger, he'd be seen as weak, not having the balls for this sort of work. It didn't matter if he'd beaten one man to death with a bat, or put slugs in the heads of countless others. All that mattered was the next victim. If you showed one solitary sign of weakness, that was it. Those you'd loved, those you'd protected, those you'd known their entire lives, godsons, brother-in-laws, childhood friends, all, would tear you apart, piece by piece.

"Lemme clean that dirty mouth." The Scarred Man pulled the trigger.

The dirty words were washed out with blood.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Agent. Now What?


I got an agent.

How about that.

It's what I've bled for, I've aspired for, pushed myself countless days, and long hours to get to.

I don't think I ever thought I'd actually get to this point. I felt my work was strong, my skill was good, but would others? After all, most don't make it here. Agents are said to be gatekeepers, and it's not just an idle title. If you're going to make a career out of writing, you need to make it past them. If what you do doesn't catch their eye... Well, that's the end before the beginning, isn't it?

But I caught her eye. I made it. And with a little hope, and her help, I'll make it further. Past the editor, past the readers, to that something I'd like to call a "career." I've taken just the first step on a long road.

I hope you all are ready to walk with me.

He smiled. It had been a long time since he last had. Really, he hadn't smiled, grinned, or even smirked in ages. But the future looked bright and for once, his shoulders felt light. Maybe everything was changing for the better. Maybe he could finally lift his head up and be proud.

He never did see the anvil falling from overhead.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Of Afraid and Fear

"Don't be afraid."

Those were her only words before I walked through the door. The air was tense and the lighting just above pitchblack. Somewhere deep inside I heard rattling. The sound of terrible things with secret shapes. The imagination was their own limitation, and mine ran wild She told me not to be afraid.

Was she fucking kidding? If there was any reason to feel brave, it had to be the sword at my side. The weight was solid, reassuring, a reminder that the darkness was as light as air. I was made of stouter stuff than nightmares.

And if I wasn't, the sword certainly was.

Fuck, I got this update in under the wire, didn't I? Sorry about that! Work, life, and writing have been busy. I'm up to 45,000 on the second book, though, and waiting to hear from agents. A friend or two have taken a pass at the book, as well, reaffirming my self-esteem.

Apparently the book doesn't suck. Now the second one... that's still up in the air.

It's weird. You write one good book, and you're afraid. What if the second sucks? What if you've lost that particular bit of magic? What if you only had it in you to create one good story, and that was it? I think that's the writer's biggest fear. I'll probably hold on to that with every novel I happen to write. If nothing else, it'll keep me sharp.

After all, fear is one hell of a motivator, folks.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lucky Day

I'm lucky.

Usually I'd tell you the opposite. A black cloud has followed me most of my life. I am not lucky because I'm wealthy, or wise, or had an easy life. Literally none of those are true. Just take a look at my back account, poor life choices, and emotional scars. No, nein, nope. I've been extremely unlucky when it comes to those things. What I'm talking about is writing, my passion, my dream, that little hope inside that's taken up inside my chest.

I seem to almost be there. I've got several agents looking over my stuff, seemingly pretty interested in it. Sure, this is the first step before many more. I have more editing to do, they need to sell it to editors, there's contract negotiations, and of course subsequent books before I can finally make this a career.

But dammit, dammit, I've read about excellent writers who took ten, twenty years to achieve the same I have. Me, I'm on year two, and I'm at this stage. It's not talent, intelligence, or anything else that's gotten me here. It's just luck.

And for once, I'm happy to have it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Who Are You?

She was tough.

Some of it was forged, true, gained from that carpshoot known as experience. The rest was all natural. There was an inner strength in the girl that wasn't normal in the modern world. It wasn't what you found in the day-to-day, but rather the things epics and poems were made of. She was a modern day Theseus, seizing the bull by the horns and never letting go.

Aleksandra was tough, and one day the world would be thankful for it.

The above is what I wrote for a friend. It was an exercise in what I thought about her, painting a rather accurate depiction, if I do say so myself. So let's try something here, a little experiment if you will!

Leave a post. It can be one word or a million, but it simply has to be there. Leave it, along with your name, and I'll respond with a description about you. Maybe you'll like it, perhaps you'll hate it, but it'll be entirely colored from my perspective. If you're like me, you like having something written about yourself. If you're not like me, well, get off your goddamned high horse.

Seriously. Fucker.

Of course, it might help if I know who you are to begin with. If you're an unknown, well, I can't promise the write-up that I'll leave.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rafael Ink

I realized in seventh grade that I'd never be human.

Carl Vonderberg had stepped forward, demanding lunch money. Carl had never been especially smart, so he had waited until we had bought our lunches to demand our money. Imagine his rage when he realized there wasn't a penny between us. He postured, he threatened, smearing spaghetti into shirts and our noses in shit. The other children bowed their heads.

I raised mine. I had spent all my life being a good little boy. My mother had coached me extensively, from actions to reactions, a list of particulars that she constantly revised. She was the trainer, I was the beast, and it was her job to keep me at bay. I could never tell whether her eyes were filled with love or fear.

Carl's pig eyes were definitely filled with fear. The fork that had been in my hand was now in his, coating his fat fingers in blood. He opened his mouth and howled.

I didn't give him time for much else. My fist rocketed into his jaw, and then I was on him. A jab, a punch, every blow strengthening my advantage while driving him into the floor. I felt hands wrap around my arms, pulling me up, jerking me to stand. I tried to return to the fight, but it was no use.

So I looked around.

There were no cheers for the hero. No laughter, no clapping, nothing but a terrible silence. They weren't impressed by me, but terrified of me. It's then that I understood what I was. He was dumb and mean, but I was smart and cruel. He would punch, while I would tear. He would bruise, while I would break.

I was a monster more terrible than Carl could ever be. It all made such perfect sense. I still don't know why it took me so long to realize it. A wolf never imagines it's a sheep, so why did I include myself as one of the bleating masses? Maybe that moment of crystal clarity should have left me horrified, even sad.

Instead, I felt elated. I had found my true purpose.

I was a hunter amongst so much prey.

Some good news on the agent fronts, guys. I've got a tentative email or two with just enough interest to leave me excited. Now if it can blossom into something more, hell, you'll see me dancing and singing in the streets. I don't know if I ever felt like I'd finally get to this point.

Now that I'm almost (maybe) there, it feels incredible. There'll be a lot of long waiting ahead, scary silence, and frustrations, I'm sure. But there's a lot of hope there, too.

Fingers crossed.

This story was inspired by my friend Trish. She told me to tell me to tell her a story of Rafael Ink, a roleplaying character that she gave me some years ago. I gave her a brief little blurb and she asked, "Psshaaw, issat it?"

Apparently it wasn't.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Of Hope and Apocalypse Now

Alright. I don't want to scare you. I don't want to startle you. I don't want to turn your motherfuckin' world upside down. But get ready to hear this. It's the straight dope, the real talk, that somethin' somethin' that opens our ears and unlocks our hearts. It's called the truth, and for once?

It's fantastic.

I have not one, not two, not three, but four, read 'em, four literary agents currently looking at my book. Three full requests and one partial, just the right mixture to make a fella feel welcome. It feels nice. It feels good.

I feel like the future is promising.

Now if one of them actually wants to snatch me up? That would be even better. Any takers? Guys? ... Guys?

Are you still there?

In other news, I'm kind of pumped to be writing tomorrow. It's been seven days of work, and daddy's been jonesing for his fix. I'm at an interesting section of the story, so I feel like I should be able to keep the action up. Of course, writing is never without its problems. You'll see something, and you'll want so bad to fix it, but if you do, well, you're just a little like fucked. You've got charlie coming out of the jungle, and you can't stop, you won't stop, because the whole platoon's dead if you do.

So you leave that man behind. He's screaming, stretching out a hand, begging for a smoke, a bullet, anything but to be left behind. Of course you harden your heart and keep hoofin' it through the shit, but deep down you're thinking only one thing: You're coming back, you swear to God you're not leaving him in that humid hellhole forever. You'll return for Martinez (or Tex, or Louie).

Of course, it'll be to put a bullet in his head, but whatever.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Merciful God, Whhhyyyy!

Man, it's a good morning.

*sips some tea, opens his paper-- spittakes at the contents!*

Oh no! I never thought this day would come! *turns headline to the reader!*

Kelly Griffith Enters Blogging Scene! Unleashes Torment Upon Countless Billions!

So, story time lads and lassies! Years ago I met this girl. By all marks and identifiers she was a normal girl, if slightly sadistic for her sex. Cue puberty, university, and a half-decade in the Outback, and something utterly vile was formed! A girl who could write without practice, and who had an imagination that made mine pale in comparison!

Seriously, I was totally jelly! *awkward gangsign!* *crosses arms, lookin' thug lyfe*

Kelly Griffith is one of my oldest friends, and immensely respected as a writer. She's able to do things with words that leave me confused, jealous, and just a little irritated at her for being able to weave. She's also the chick that got me into writing. She posed one simple question to me, and a lifetime passion resulted from it.

I'm not just asking you to give her site a check. I'm begging you to. This girl's going to go somewhere, and you definitely want to watch her get there. So won't you guys stand with me and watch a star rise?

Kelly, you're gonna shine bright.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Black Cloud

I'll admit it.

I'm scared.

I'm scared none of my dreams will come true. I'm scared that no matter how hard I write, no matter how good I get, all I'll get is nowhere. I've had a long string of bad luck in a short life. Disasters, heartbreaks, and accusations have just been the norm, punctuated by moments of joy or excitement. Maybe it's the other way around, honestly. This could be drama forged out of reflection, the desperation of a view moments coloring an entire lifetime. Maybe I've had an ultimately good life, punctuated with a few terrible moments. 

The thought doesn't dispel the idea of this invisible cloud hanging over me.

People say that you should practice your art only for the sake of it. That way the material is better, and you're happier for it. It's honestly sound advice. It makes sense. If you pursue anything else, then you're likely to drive yourself mad.

It's advice you can't follow when you follow the dredge of the nine to five. It's advice that you can't accept when you want to become something more than you are. It's something you simply can't tolerate when you want to make your mark on history and the world. You see your heroes riding to glory, and you want desperately to be among their number. Maybe others won't make it, but you have to. You're the hero of your narrative, and the hero always succeeds.

Except life has taught me differently. We're not the main characters, perhaps not even secondary, but part of a grand narrative that moves on with or without us. Success is hard, and failure comes so much more easily. Maybe this book will fail, and the next one, and the next ten to boot. I'll love the art, but in time I will come to hate myself. It's not writing that betrayed me, that beacon that made me better, but ultimately myself, that fallible person and the unlucky lot he was born into. That thought is terrible to behold.

It scares me.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


"Yer a coward," he growled. The ragged man had no objections. He had never claimed to be brave. He certainly wasn't the image of it now, with eyes trained on the dusty ground, unwilling to meet the eyes of the man who intended him dead. The challenger growled, baring his tobacco-stained teeth to the world.

"Yellow-bellied bastard!" A whisper rippled through the crowd. It was an affront to manhood, an attack on personal pride. Not a soul would blame the man if he drew. Yet his concern wasn't the acceptance of man. No, he followed the call of a higher power.

"Draw!" Up leapt two silver barrels, extending from each hand. They were quick about their business. One shot, two shot, three shot, and four. Each kicked up the sand around the vagrant's feet, meant to taunt, meant to frighten, meant to bring this little meeting to its ultimate conclusion.

Still, Silas' piece stayed by his side.

Just a short story I carved out. I kind of like ol' Silas. Maybe there'll be a western in my future, yet. There's something instinctual about wanting to back someone quiet and almost careless about their own safety. That self assurance I think can grab a reader.

I'm at nearly 20k words on the second novel of my series. It's plugging along well, and tomorrow should take me well over. I'm still waiting to hear back from agents. The more I hear about querying, the more I hear it's a slow, arduous process.

It makes anticipation all the sweeter, though. The kind words of Agent Bree Ogden's assistant, Ms. Jami Nord, don't hurt, either.

My friend Joe has some great things going on over at his Google Plus account. Give him a look: 

He's a grade-A world builder. He's got history, he's got plot, he's got languages, and even maps. Is it wrong to hate him just a little?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Of Food and Nursery Rhymes

The hunger had nagged at him all day. At work, on the commute, every little action punctuated by appetite. Now he was home. He could relax. But did he dare? A naughty little snack here and there never did hurt anybody... Jeff tugged open the fridge door.

His mouth watered at the pedicured foot.

So, I've been a bad boy and don't have any writing to show you aside from that SUPER short story I slapped together. It feels a lot like the Very Short Stories I write on Twitter. Essentially you have a character limit, and have to make a compelling story fit in there. I feel like it's helped me grow as a writer.

Apparently my subject matter is still drek, though.

No matter! The book is plugging away. I'm still getting agent refusals left and right, but I have one or two things that are looking promising. Maybe I'll entered the esteemed halls of "published writer" yet. Until then I'll keep plugging away at the second book.

Also, damn you, Kelly. You turned children's rhymes into a terrible thing.

"Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack,
All dressed in black, black, black,
She had a knife, knife, knife,
Stuck in her back, back, back.

She can not breathe, breathe, breathe,
She can not cry, cry, cry,
That's why she begs, begs, begs,
She begs to die, die die.

I feel the creative juices flowing. Maybe something will come of that?

Sunday, May 25, 2014


The more that I write, the more I look at the writing in other things. Shows, movies, books, it doesn't matter, I'm deciphering if they're a good story, and what makes them a good story.

Veronica Mars is a damn good story.

Interesting, multi-faceted character? Check! Interesting, multi-faceted cast? Check! Great storyline? Check! Kristen Bell, who I wish would just return ONE of my phone calls? Oh, uh, check!

I'm only in the first season, but it promises to be a good one. There's an overall plot for the season that tingles my spine. It's more heavily touched on in some episodes than others, but it always has a presence. Of course that doesn't mean that there aren't other, interesting stories being told, or that this somehow negates the power of the seasonal plot. Everything feels pertinent, relevant, powerful.

Where other shows would do self-contained episodes, or introduce a "villain of the week," Veronica Mars turns that trope on its head. Everything, and everyone, is related. Slowly the story constructs a vast, interesting universe. It's not just a story. These are people, and by God, you love them and hate them as much as you would those in your life.

So watch it. For the love of God, watch it. It deserves so much more recognition than it's garnered. If you hold any respect for me, even any shred of pity, go watch this.


Trembles in the cold, forgotten and alone.

Oh, also, the book's chugging along fine. I took a break for my birthday, but I've been plugging along today. The book is at 11,000 words, and I feel like it's going to be longer than the first.

The fact that the first one wasn't a fluke is, well, exciting as hell in itself.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

E & E Forever

So, I lied.

A few nights ago a friend of mine, Joe Kawano, put a gun against my head and made me write. It was terrible. There's probably emotional scarring to go along with it, to be honest.

Yet I hope my suffering can bring you all some joy.

I don't know quite what's going on here. I just started writing and it... well, worked. It's not the best, but I think it has some nice imagery and flow. The opening is especially a joy to me.

As for Johnny's second book, I'm hard at work. It's flowing nicely, and the world's getting a little broader. I hope that with each book, we'll explore a region of it, whether it's technology, races, or cultures. By the time I finish this, I want the world to be fully fleshed.

The barrel still burned bright, cherry red as a cigarette. Elizabeth laid at his feet motionless, a good chunk missing from her abdomen.

"It was the only way," he whispered, more for himself than her. Her nails still were raked red with his blood. He'd seen teeth in tiger's shorter than the talons, and neck ached with the slow, steady bleed. He needed to get out of here or he'd die.

He couldn't handle another attack. Into the alley he stumbled, slamming into trash cans and brick. The former when tumbling to the ground while the latter stood strong, a handhold for a dying man. Eustice shook his head, trying to clear out the cobwebs.

Overhead something eclipsed the moon. A flutter of bat wings and it was gone.

Eustice picked up the pace. His legs trembled and the cannon was held limply at his side. Bit by bit he left a trail, bit by bit he grew slower. He felt cold, cold as the corpses that pursued him.

"Just a little farther," he mumbled. The alley swam and dipped, up becoming right, and down becoming something north of left. Bile choked his throat, and Eustice was sick against the wall. His shoulders shuddered and his stomach ached.

"It's time to give up."

Eustice swung around, his hand cannon brought to bear. He was tragically too slow. A casual hand swatted it to the side, the gun dancing across the asphalt. There she stood, in all her glory, empty abdomen and all. Eustice couldn't move, couldn't breathe. He had killed her once already -- he couldn't try it a second time.

 Elizabeth smiled sadly, raising a handful of razors into the air.

"This was always the only way."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Why We Write and Etc

I've started writing the second book.

I've got nothing set in stone with the first book. No deals, no assurances, just a big, fat maybe with a side of dismissals. Yet here I am, writing the sequel to a book that may never see the light of day.

Why the hell am I doing that?

The answer's simple: Because I have to. Because it keeps me sane, because it keeps me happy, because deep down inside of me, there's a story and a world that comes crashing up. I have to write because I have no other option.

Also, it is tough as hell to create another world on the fly. I'm putting a lot into this. Everything that I went for in the first book, I want to make bigger in the second. I want the violence, the relationships, the banter, and the world to feel more visceral, more in-depth. I feel like the first book was putting the parts together.

The second is making them work well.

Updates might be a little less meaty here. I'll have the occasional short story, but I think more posts will be just talking about what I'm going through. It's easier to write, and requires a lot less of my brain. That way, I'm able to push this book out one day.

Also, two of my friends got me into Warframe. That is going to consume my damned life, right there.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I'm trying my hand at horror again. I had decided that this would center around an adult. The childhood portion would last only a paragraph or two, and then I'd move on.

The story thought differently. I think a good aspect for horror is to have it unknown. Feed the reader only enough information so that they're interested, but keep the biggest reveal secret. What's so scary about the common day? If it can be explained, it loses its power. It stops being something that creeps in the night, and becomes the commonplace.

To hell with that.

It started small.

Objects appeared where I never left them. An action figure on top of the refrigerator, a mug of chocolate milk underneath the cabinets, small things that escaped the even smaller attention span of a child. My parents would laugh about them. "Boys will be boys," Mama would say, and Daddy would chime in, nodding his head in fierce agreement. Their little boy was a hell-raiser, and an inventive one to boot. There'd be no obstacle I couldn't overcome as I grew, the answer to a parent's prayers. They were proud of me.

When did that begin to change?

As I entered the first grade, the incidents graduated with me. Cups and toys stopped their wandering ways, only for more adult considerations to appear. A knife on my Mama's pillow, a crowbar in my Daddy's chair, a popsicle mouse staring from inside the freezer, they all made the circuit through my home. Pride turned to anger, and anger turned to fear. That happy household began to crumble. My protests didn't mean much. "I didn't do it!" I'd plead, "I'm so sorry!" I'd sob. Innocence or admission, neither mattered. I'd always get the belt in the end. After all, my words held all the weight of air.

I should have never told them about the man who stood outside my vision. If I moved too quickly, if I jerked in surprise, he was gone, a phantom slinking back into shadow. But if I sat still, if I summoned the right amount of patience and courage, I could study him from the corner of my eye. He was big and tall, with a broad hat and a long coat, a spot of ink dotting my periphery. Sometimes, if I focused long enough, I would hear him whisper. He would tell me to do things.

I didn't want to listen.

Of course, these flickers in the corner of my eye, those whispers on the wind, were all symptoms of an expansive imagination. Or so the psychologist said. His words were persuasive, and where they weren't, his prescription pad certainly was. Olanzapine, quietapine, lithium, they all were prescribed in short order, special medication for a special boy. 

They didn't make me feel special. They dulled my head, and stopped my dreams, turning a world of colors into stark black and white. My childhood was already waning. The medication delivered the final blow.

Even then, it would have been all worth it if only my parents could have loved me again. 

They smiled, certainly, but the expressions were strained from rehearsal and waning hope. The pride in their eyes had long since faded, gone to that place of lost dreams and crushed ambitions. They offered sweet assurances, but they always rung hollow with hesitation. After all, even I could hear their worried whispers behind closed doors. Ginger had gone missing.

I was the prime suspect. Hadn't the family cat always hated me? She would glare at me with her mean, green eyes, hissing, swatting, and striking whenever I would reach for her. I had the scars to prove her displeasure. Sure, she had been shunned for it the first few years, facing spray bottles and smacks for her efforts, but her suffering wasn't eternal. As my star fell, her's rose. She became my parents' surrogate child, an abnormal vessel to fawn over with normal affections. Hadn't I felt the sting of loneliness? Didn't I hate the cat for taking my place like I had hers' so long ago?

I did. 

That doesn't mean I wanted her to die.

That doesn't mean I killed her. I was wandering through the woods behind our house, zig-zagging through trees and over stumps. I had long since stopped playing. Playing requires energy, spontaneity, joy, things I neither had nor felt. I was a thirty-year-old man in a ten-year-old boy's body, jaded by the world and modern medicine. As I moved through the woods, filled with mild greens and bland browns, a burst of bright red caught my eye. My pulse quickened and I started to run. I knew what had happened before I even arrived.

There was Ginger, her mean, green eyes shut forever. They were replaced by red, equal parts rust and blood on the nails poking out. They went right through her skull and into the tree, pinning her small body against the bark. The limp cat glared impotently at me, with a hate that even death couldn't kill. I shook from my head to my toes. I had never seen a dead thing before, and there it was, in all its terrible glory. 

It's no wonder that he chose that moment to appear. He stood there, watching, waiting, savoring the moment as my small form trembled. I couldn't help but imagine an ugly smile curving along his lips, shaded by the all-encompassing hat. My heart tightened.

"Why are you doing this?!" I screamed. I twisted my head, too quick.

The dark man was gone.

But he left his laughter behind. It rolled through the woods as I reached for Ginger. It snaked between the trees as I pulled desperately at the iron, dried blood and flecks of rust burying themselves under my nails. It pounded through my skull as panic set in, my hands grasping at Ginger's body, pulling, tearing, ripping her from the tree. Her skin tore and then she was in my arms, with bits of Ginger left behind on the bark. I couldn't let my parents see her like that. I couldn't let them think it was me. 

Ginger had to disappear.

I clawed at the earth, tearing chunks of grass and dirt out, inch by inch. There was no ceremony, there were no words, but there were plenty of tears. I wish even one of them had been for Ginger. That day, they were all for me. I was so scared of losing what little I had left because of that dark man. I still had a family, no matter how dysfunctional, but if they saw the cat...

I returned home covered in dirt, just a boy at play. My parents eyed me, but asked no questions. It was better that way, for all of us. I soon curled up in my bed and looked up at the ceiling. He wouldn't stop until everything was ruined. I had to stop him. I just didn't know how. I squeezed my eyes shut and watched the dark that surrounded me.

It had all started out so small.

Why did it have to change?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Thirteen Troubles

I've just recently finished the outline for the second book. I should get on top of that my next off day. Until then, I was trying to explore another section of my world. I've got Europe and even America figured out. There are other elements, though. Africa, Asia, South America, places to venture and explore.

Maybe this has the potential to be something more.

The wind howled and the heavens roared. Lightning tore the air sharper than any fangs. It was a day inhospitable for man or beast, where the bright Hour of the Rabbit was as black as that of the Rat.

And yet she dared tread. Her wooden sandals clacked with purpose against the worn wood of the bridge as the black river surged beneath. The wanderer's eyes descended to the frothing waters where the kami dwelled below, a river god driven mad by time. It raged and hungered, with no regard for who or what its target might be. The quick glance left the wanderer frowning. If she fell in, she would be lost.

She resolved to not fall in. Down she knelt in the middle of the bridge, where the old timbers crested at their highest. Before her she set her blade, its scabbard old and scarred. Behind she left to the wind, whipping her hair one way before throwing it another. The wanderer closed her eyes.

And then waited. The storm faded and the tension trickled, until she was left with Nothing. No fear, no worry, no yesterday, nor tomorrow. She didn't know if long hours had passed or mere minutes. All was Now, and there was Peace in it. She was briefly aware of wet feet smacking against the bridge, of angry growls, and twisting forms, but they were Unimportant. They were passing and transient, the briefest of flickers in grand Eternity.

That impermanence almost got her killed. Down came a claw and up leapt a sword, leaving behind red steel, realization, and a lonely stump. The wanderer's eyes were open, focused on a slimy creature of sickly green. The beast was a kappa, and its screech was ended by a simple slice of the sword. The monster's head rolled quickly across the bridge, back down to the river from where it been born. Its bare red pate and the surrounding petals resembled a lotus blossom rushing downriver. It was a beautiful sight.

If only it was the last. More kappa leapt from the water, the embodiment of the river god's rage. A dozen sorrows, some big and others small, many proud but a few shrinking, stood before her. They were terrible and pathetic to behold, with puffed chests and bent backs, the sorrows of a dozen lifetimes given grotesque form. The river would only be at peace once they were all vanquished.

"I am Fuko! My style is nameless, and my surname forgotten, but they still spell misfortune for you!" Her blade bit the air, flinging off blood in a red line. Her dark eyes dared them to cross it. "Let us see how the fury of a river god fares against that of man!" With that her sword slipped back into its sheath, held to the side as her knees bent low. She entered iaijutsu, needing every split-second the fast-draw style could grant her. With body tensed and sword ready, Fuko waited.

She didn't have to wait long. The kappa leapt and ran across the bridge, their war cries mingling with their screams. Three times did her blade leap, and three times did life leave their clumsy bodies. Kappa tumbled in halves and pieces, their fearsome eyes gone dark. But still they came. Claws rent her hakama, others tore at her arms, and yet her sword still sang. The scent of the storm slowly faded, only to be replaced by that of meat and blood.

When it was all over, Fuko slumped against the bridge's railing. Sweat and blood ran rivers along her body, staining her already ruined clothing. She paid it no mind. Clothing could be replaced. Victory could not. The wanderer had won another battle in a long, unending line. It was a pattern she couldn't keep up. Perhaps the next would be her last, or perhaps it would be far down her winding road. The timing didn't matter, honestly.

A woman who fought monsters was destined to die. Fuko opened her eyes just in time to see lightning flash across the sky. The storm hadn't ended. The battle wasn't won. There had been twelve troubles on the bridge, but a thirteenth lurked just below. Fuko twisted. Her iaijutsu had been fast, but now her movements were far too slow. Claws wrapped around her chest and pulled her through the brittle railing.

As resolved as she was, Fuko fell in.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


For two years I've wrote. Holidays, weekends, any day that I didn't feel exhausted from the daily grind. I've gotten good. Hell, I'll say I've gotten great. I've gone from barely legible squibbles on the screen to sentences that I even find beautiful. I've done it for the love of the craft, certainly. I don't think I could be a complete person if I didn't write. Some part of me aches, hell, screams, to put words to paper. Of course there were other considerations to this breakneck pace.

I wanted success.

Money, wealth, the pass from the day-to-day monotony of the 9-5. Then I wouldn't have to wake up for a job I dreaded. Then I wouldn't have to perform my passion as a hobby, cobbling together stories in any spare time I could graft together. I could be a professional storyteller, and damn the rest of the world. The finish line was publication, and then I would be free.

Except it isn't, and I won't. The publishing world's a good deal more complicated than I ever thought, with some lucky ticket items getting fortunes while most get the equivalent of pocket change. Even if I get published, that isn't a ticket to a better life. It's only one more step on a long road. You can imagine my reaction, the traditional five stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression. You spend two years with tunnel vision, and you're bound to feel a little pain when things don't come up alright.

Of course there was Acceptance somewhere in there. I may not be a success in a year. Hell, ten years might be too optimistic of a goal. I might spend my entire life at this and never get to the lofty perch of full-time writer. That's the chance I take.

In everything involving love, there's a risk.

And I love writing. If I put it down now, I put down part of myself, that creative force that twists and writhes inside of me, bubbling up when I tap the keys. It's something I can't do without.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Will Humbly Accept the Food.

The stone scraped against the sword. 

Yet the word was wrong. "Scraped" would imply that the movements were rough, even violent, when nothing could be farther than the truth. The motions defied the meaning. Each scrape was slow and gentle, guided by love and care. How could those feelings not have blossomed? The sword had served him for years.

Just as he had served it. The stone stopped, tucked into the man's palm as his spindly fingers slid along the blade. It was strong, beautiful, perfect in its singular purpose. It was a purpose the old man forgot in his admiration. The sword bit him for his carelessness, blood beading along his finger and rolling along its length.

He didn't even flinch. It was exactly as the old man deserved. What he held was a not a friend, nor a lover, but a beast. To wield a sword was the same as grabbing a tiger by the tail; one might twist it in a certain direction, but should never wait to meet it. To grow too familiar with a sword, to treat it too lightly, was to invite a violent end. It had happened to Ryukoge, and Sansoro before him. If the old man continued, he would just be another in a long line of fools. No, the sword was to be honored, ordered, but never befriended. It was his servant and his lord, but never his equal.

Yet he loved the piece of metal more than he ever did any man. With a sigh as soft as a whisper, the old man drew a piece of paper along the blade's curved length. The paper went black as the blade grew bright, held to the light for all to see. They admired and feared it, and rightly so. Utsukushiiho had long tasted the blood of men, and would drink its fill again this night.

"Thank you for waiting gentleman," murmured the old man, sliding the blade cleanly through the air. It soon stood rigid, tip to heaven, hilt to earth, one hand below the guard and the other at the cap. The warriors shuffled uneasily around him, a dozen different blades flashing in response.


The sword bit into flesh. 

This time, the word was perfect.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mount Sinai

It. Is. Finished.

Like Moses before me, I've descended from the mount, hair shock white, eyes wild with divine madness, and carrying the weight of revelation in my head and hands. It is finished, and it is good, and dammit, you better like it too! 

I've completed the book that I'm tentatively calling Dead Man Walking. I've already sent it off to a few agents, and maybe I'll get some nice replies. If not, well hell, I'm going to keep going one way or another. I've already done the hard part. I talked to a freaking burning bush, and the hell with those who say different.

Now I just have to wait for the next step. You hear that, agents? Something, something, melting down the golden idol of Baal, something something, please love me.