Maybe you should try

Maybe you should try.

That might not be the exact words but it’s the meaning that matters and it’s not about what someone told me or that someone convinced me because no one did. It was me. It’s just easier to say “she helped” or to personify the bad thing. Taking credit isn’t easy and maybe it’s a sign of a good person, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is I’m glad I had enough respect for her then and enough will to try, to challenge myself. Because that’s what it was in the beginning. It was New Year’s Eve and I had only one beer left in the fridge. I told myself that’s it. Let’s just see how long you can go without it because yes a big part of me was convinced that I needed it to fall asleep, to cope with life, to be okay with breathing.

It was perfect timing, really.

I had decided I wanted to compose a collection of poems and put it on Amazon but I hated the idea of just sticking a handful of them together and calling it a collection. I still hate that idea. What makes them belong together? So as I was searching for a topic or a concept for a series of poems, I found myself facing myself and all these ideas I had about myself. Like I needed alcohol to subdue the pain and anger and loneliness I held onto, that I always held onto. I always stuffed everything down and then the alcohol helped drown it and store it deep below.

Quickly, the poems flowed out of me. I didn’t even know what it was until well into it. I had stopped drinking and began to notice things about myself, physically and mentally. I don’t want to go into much detail because the poems handle it all pretty well I think. I will say that alcohol does minimize testosterone in the body and then without alcohol your body is free to make more. It was strange—stranger than puberty was for me to be perfectly honest. But the biggest thing was the clarity, like I could breathe and see and listen for the first time. Yes, it was difficult but it all fed into the things I was writing at the time. When I read through that first collection, MY ENVELOPING REFLECTION, some of those I can vividly remember writing and others read like they were penned by another person. The second poem in the collection is incredibly scary for me to read because it is so true and representative of how I was for so many years.

It wasn’t all about the alcohol or substance abuse, perhaps the bigger theme throughout is the idea of manhood. I’ve heard so many people talk about this and especially growing up everyone is always so focused on being a man. And saying “once you’re a man” or competing to be the bigger man. I never understood any of it. I think it really became apparent to me right around entering my twenties that it’s all bullshit because everyone has their own definition. Once I stumbled on that idea I stunned myself because then I had to come up with my own definition. Trouble is, I never felt like a man in that odd sorta spiritual sense, for the lack of a better word, that people seem to subscribe to. Like just because you’re strong and have thick muscles doesn’t mean a damn thing to me. Or like the macho nonsense, yeah I’ve had the shit kicked out of me by bigger stronger “men” but that never seemed like being a man to me. Oh you can beat on someone smaller than you? That’s great.

I’m still not sure if I consider myself a man because it’s a very strange thing. It’s like calling myself a good person. I don’t know if I’m qualified to say that about me. Honestly, I rather not be called a man if all these assholes we keep hearing about are considered men. Too often it’s about pressure and I don’t want to put pressure on anyone. And who likes being forced into anything?

I’m incredibly proud of MER and its “sequel” ARMORLESS AND AFRAID because it’s not about what I’ve done, it’s not about the mistakes it’s about life. I’m alive. I’m probably the healthiest I’ve ever been. The most complete I’ve ever been. It’s been five years since I released MER and that’s incredible. If you bought it, you’re incredible. I truly hope that the people that read it got something from it but honestly, that’s not the point. I got a lot from it. More than I ever thought possible.

I’m proud of myself.

That’s something I never thought I would feel. I always felt like I was destined to not see past 25. Next month I’ll be 31. Next year I’m getting married. I’m marrying the girl that said “Maybe you should try to go without the alcohol.” When she said that it was something I had never considered like thinking about the sky being bright yellow instead of blue. And those words climbed into my head and every so often they wouldn’t leave. I think it was early December she said it and by the time New Year’s came around, I was ready. Not because she had any power over me, it was because I loved her (still do!) and I respected her. I didn’t know at the time that by taking that comment seriously I was saving our relationship and building it stronger because if I had kept with the alcohol we wouldn’t have stayed together.

If you are reading this and know someone that is struggling with some sort of addiction, the advice I would give you is to be genuine. Don’t say “you should quit” because that’s the worst. It only ever made me want to do it more. I LOVED SMOKING. I put that past tense only because I don’t smoke anymore. Everyone is always saying it’s bad for you. We all know. That’s not enough. The money isn’t enough either. I think the best way to get around all that bullshit is to talk to that person about what they want from life. Even if it’s a crazy dream, get that info and see if there’s a way to do it. Chances are there is a way. Chances are it’s easier than that person might think. In my case it was publishing a book, I haven’t quenched that itch exactly yet but I sorta did. I’m not sure if that is helpful at all but that’s sorta what happened with me. Focusing on MER gave me something to do when I felt bad about the withdrawals and whatnot. I poured myself into that, rather than pouring things into myself.

You don’t overcome, you swap. Think of it more like batteries than flaws. Gotta swap these batteries out for working ones.

Flicker

This is self destruction
I’ve leaned on this for most of my life
Does it really bring better thoughts to the front?
Oh but it is hypocrisy
I am shoving strife
Down the paper barrel
Within silenced halted breaths
On the other end it shoves its own down upon me
So flick it
Flick it away

Why are you reaching for another?

The quieted breathing is what calms
I just give credit where credit is not due
And I can feel, yes I can feel the damage caused
The damage I’ve self inflicted
This is a flaw
Yes this is a flaw
And a representation of the person I used to be
But can I really say that?
Cuz I’m writing this with a burning stick between my fingers
My chest says be stronger, resist
But behind it comes a larger wave of anxiety
Welcome to the undertow
I feel like I am dying here
Right now
There’s a voice of reason rising
And I know it’s right
I’m just not sure
It’s easier to say I’m not capable and move along
But look around, the voice of reason says softly
Yes you’re right, again that idea of giving credit comes to mind
And now I’m writing this while wondering:
What is it I’m trying to say?

The answer is simple but strangely scary:
Fight for life

Review – Tokyo Ghost

Back in 2006-2008, I was heavy into weekly comics. I was making decent money and not doing an abundance of drugs, nor was I faced with any real responsibilities. So it wasn’t anything to drop more than $60 a week on comics. Around this time, Marvel was doing the ‘Dark Reign’ banner books, one of which was a new Punisher series written by Rick Remender. I remember seeing the name and thinking “that’s a cool name”, upon opening the book I was instantly hooked. I loved every second of that run, yes even the Franken-Castle bits. That was actually my favorite. It was only recently I became aware of the hate for that story. Before Rick completed his run, I was pulled away from comics—that’s a story for another time. The point is, I never forgot his name and a handful of years ago I came across a couple of his Image books, notably Black Science which is a benchmark for comics. It is incredible. I dare you to not get hooked.
I finally got around to reading Tokyo Ghost last month and I savored it. Soaked in the art across the 8×12 large hardcover that is absolutely perfect. This is a big story. Very stylish and cinematic. The first couple issues are dripping with this humor that I wasn’t expecting but quickly the real emotional hooks of the relationship between Debbie Decay and Led Dent stuck themselves into me.
It’s a story about dependency, whether that is on technology or other people or power or anything else. It’s all present here. I really related to a lot of it. Rick does a great job of putting in things in his stories that are relatable but I think this is the one that hit me the hardest.
The art by Sean Gordon Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth is nothing short of incredible. It pulls you in and doesn’t let go. There are car chases and sword fights and everything anyone could ever want. It’s really something to behold. You just have to look at the covers to get a glimpse of the style that is all over this book.
I have been paying attention to Hollingsworth for some time now and it’s really impressive the depth of his skillset. I’m not an artist, I don’t pretend to know what he actually does, it’s apparent that there’s a lot that goes into his coloring. Just comparing this book to Seven to Eternity (another fine Rick Remender product) really displays a lot. He is able to lift these books to heights I’m not sure they’d achieve without him.
So I’d like to thank Frank Castle for putting me onto Rick Remender and I’d like to thank Rick for putting me onto some of the greatest artists working in comics today. If we’re in a golden age of television then it’s a fucking platinum age of comics.
Read Tokyo Ghost, it’s not just flash and noise, sure it has that but there’s also a point. Sharing art is the meaning of life. Tokyo Ghost starts with a needle drop, what more could you ask for?

How about getting it for 50% off at comiXology?
Here’s the first half collected (issues 1-5) for $3.99.
The complete deluxe set for 59% off!
Or individual issues for $.99 each.

SALE ENDS TODAY, JULY 2nd. The sale includes all of Rick Remender’s books for Image. Black Science is a universe hopping thrill ride! Seven to Eternity is a brilliant take on the alternate world fantasy adventure. It’s almost guaranteed to not go where you expect. But I actually recommend buying Seven to Eternity in physical means because the art is otherworldly. Jerome Opeña is a master and this is his finest work to date. Every issue is stunning and more stunning than the last.
I literally can’t say enough good things about this.

Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate nor do I receive any cut of anything you spend on these fine books. I just really fucking love them and want other people to read them!

Halfway through 2018!

Earlier this year I posted my goals for the year, here they are again:
**Finish new sci-fi short and begin submitting it
**Continue writing and working on novel
**Be more consistent on the blog
**Continue the application process to bring fiancée into the country
**Travel across the world, collect fiancée and bring her home
**GET MARRIED
**Be happily married
**Switch shifts at work

Soon after posting this list it changed, such is the way I suppose. I realized quick that the short story was really flawed and wasn’t working. I could make it work but seeing as I’m not a huge fan of short stories, I felt fake putting so much into writing something I don’t enjoy. I do like writing them but reading them is often a chore. I probably just haven’t found the right collection or writer. So that story is safely tucked away until I decide it’s time to revisit. There is an idea worth revisiting there, character is the problem.
I finished the third draft of my first novel on June 10th 2018. I believe I can complete the thing by the end of the year and be querying agents before 2019. I’m not backtracking with it again by rewriting from the jump like I have before. The foundation is set, time to go into the smaller details.
As far as the blog is concerned, I’ve been more active than I think I have in a long time. Not sure I’m consistent, more like haphazardly posting things. It might be an accidental pattern. The problem is when I get sucked into a draft, I don’t think about the blog.
The rest of the above bullet-points are all under one umbrella, I just didn’t want to have one bullet-point because it’s far from one item. The things I have listed above don’t even begin to cover it. Her and I have decided to wait until the spring because getting married in the winter sounds like a fucking drag (that’s an understatement). The first stage of the paperwork should be finalized somewhere around September and by then we should have more of a timetable/plan for the rest of the things that feed into us finally being together for real. In a nutshell, I’m getting married next year!
Oh and the job, um… hopefully next year for that as well. I’m waiting on that as well.

This is the halfway point of the year and I think I’m doing okay with it all. There’s always room for improvement. I’ve written somewhere around 80,000 words so far this year. At the end of May, I did try to go without a “zero day”, as in words written. I didn’t quite make it a full month so new goal is to start with July 1st and try to go the rest of the year without a zero day. It does seem to inspire me, trouble is when there isn’t a focus on a project I get distracted. Not that I’m feeling guilty. The focus remains on the novel and I think I did need a break.
Let’s break down my new goals:
**No more Zero Days!
**Finish novel by year’s end and…
**Begin querying agents
**Blog more consistently
**Revisit, revise and release A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES

That last one is a bonus. I think it’s possible but I’m not sure exactly how much work that needs, seeing as I have yet to examine it as a whole. That’s slated for next month, after I do another pass of the novel before sending it off to be read by some people.
I am experimenting with scheduling things and so far so good. It’s just a little strange working on secondary projects. Especially since I feel so close with the big one and I have big plans for it. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of that sooner rather than later.

Updates to the site and books

I have made some decisions and some changes to my website. Notably is the fact that most of the free fiction is now gone. There hasn’t been a lot of action in quite some time. Which is not a bad thing nor is a great thing, it’s in the middle and so I figured why not try different things with it.
My two poetry books My Enveloping Reflection and Armorless and Afraid remain available on Amazon and now they are both exclusive there and enrolled within Kindle Unlimited. I’m experimenting with the price point as well. I have updated the ebooks and the descriptions and even have my author page more complete.
As of this writing, I have completed the third draft of the novel. It came in just over 60k words, which is shorter than the second draft and longer than the first draft. There are things I have planned to add in which I’m calling in my head “interludes” but now my current worry (having overcome the thing about the ending) is it won’t be “long enough”. I’m not gonna pad it to just pad it. We shall see how it goes. I’m taking about two to three weeks away from it then there’s some tweaks and additions to make before I send it off to a couple folks. If all goes according to plan, I should be querying agents at the end of the year.
As for A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES, it is also no longer available on this site. Originally, it was meant as an effort in having content on the blog for people to read if they saw short stories of mine in other publications but having decided to abandon the short stories and also my personal feelings about ACOT, I’ve decided to revisit it and actually edit it as a whole rather than six Pieces, as it were.
The goal is to be proud of it. To be glad my name is on it. Not to say I wasn’t before, it’s just the first Piece is really clunky and if I can barely read through it…
Not to mention, I paid for cover art so there’s no reason to not put it on Amazon. I might even include some extras in the back, sketches and things. The goal is also to have ACOT complete and released by year’s end.
If you’re interested, you can see the poetry books here and if you enjoy them please pass them on.
Thank you for reading.

If you’re so inclined, you can join my mailing list and receive A VAST EULOGY for free. It is a 6k word short story about a woman venturing into a strange world and who she meets there.

On crafting a story

Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about how I have crafted stories, both the ones that are complete and the ones I’ve been working on. The novel I’m working on was a combination of two things. I began writing it in December of 2014 after the protagonist (name and all) popped into my head. The other thing was a few pages of a story beginning I had written in I think it was 2008. I don’t know what happened to those pages and it still kinda haunts me. The story itself was really just a scene or part of a scene I could never figure out what to do with it. I tried different things and nothing worked.
It is odd how things work themselves out eventually.
The other project I’ve been working on this year is a short story that I started last year, one that I have since abandoned which is partly the reason for this post. It was quite a journey with that short because when I wrote it initially I thought it was very comedic then I read it months later and was stunned to discover the opposite. It’s just weird. And I love the ending. I think a lot of that story has to do with current events and I tried to present something positive. I think on that front it succeeds, on a certain level. But ultimately I decided the story didn’t work because I found upon a few read-throughs that I did not care about the protagonist at all. Even after I tried to give to flesh him out more. I cared even less.
But there was an idea I had about the story that would involve tearing the whole thing apart and rebuild it from essentially nothing and I decided I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t believe in it. I still don’t. I found that what I liked was the ending. That was a lot of what the story always was for me. There are two images that I dreamed up that I loved and I haphazardly put a “story” around it.
That approach has worked for me before but after some thought I have decided I can’t do that anymore. I need to be more intentional. I don’t really want to be someone who creates only popcorn fun entertainment.
I’ve been listening to Brian McDonald’s INK SPOTS which is a collection of blog posts on writing, his other book INVISIBLE INK is probably my favorite book on the craft of writing that I’ve come across. There’s a part in INK SPOTS where he talks about a writing student who was having trouble with an ending for her short story and he asked her:
“What is a story?”
She thought it was a trick question but he wasn’t playing at anything. He just wanted her answer. He believes that every writer should have their own definition of what a story is or rather a definition that fits their writing.
It really helped me and I’ve thought about it a lot. I keep coming back to the word intentional. As I’m making my way through the third draft of my novel I’ve kept that word in my mind. There are things I want from the story and their are things the story wants. It’s fascinating how a certain idea has come out of it that I didn’t see until recently but it has been there since the first draft. I just couldn’t see it and that’s why the previous iterations have had disappointing endings because there was something there but not fully there. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me…
One thing I have learned so far this year is about slowing down. I didn’t have a plan for the novel when I wrote the first draft of my novel and I’ve rebuilt it so many times, it’s been exhausting but also very informative. But going forward, I have other novels to write and I’ve actually been working on those ideas in the background over the past few months. I’m developing these ideas rather than just diving into things headfirst. I’m not sure what I’m going to write first but there are two novels vying for my attention once this one is complete-ish. One is the obvious sequel and the other is something new and exciting. I’ve been careful about crafting and preparing it. I’ve been building the characters and not thinking about the plot much. I have the broad strokes because the character stuff informs that. It all has to work together to form a unified thing. I should be saying I’m building a novel rather than writing one because it’s more like building than just writing.
I don’t want to craft stories based on one or two cool images. I can’t stop my brain from having those cool things pop in and out but those aren’t stories. An arrow isn’t an arrow without a point.

Don’t call it yet…

She said to the doctor, who had just turned his wrist to take note of the time. The time of death.

So it’s been about three months with no updates here, I’ve been busy with the third draft of my first novel. It’s going well and coming together. I should be finished with the draft next month and after that I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. I did have a rough plan for the year earlier that was very ambitious, it included starting two new novels and finishing their first drafts this year. Yeah that’s not going to happen. The second half of this year is going to be a lot busier than the first half. I think editing and revising and getting the book into a presentable state for agents is going to be all I will be able to handle. And the more I think about it the more it makes sense to keep it simple in the writing side seeing as everything else is going to be hectic and overwhelming and I need to be present for it all.
Over the next week or so, I will be posting more content to get the ball rolling on the blog again. I have reviews of things in the works. First up is reviews of episodes of the new show THE CROSSING. As of writing this, I’m only a couple episodes into it (I’m about a month behind) but spoiler— I really like it so far. Tomorrow I will be posting at least the first. I also have a couple other things that are in the pipeline. I don’t think I’ll be doing book reviews nor will I be tackling big/popular things. I don’t feel the need to share my take on the latest blockbuster. I have a few ideas for things that are more popular but they are less reviews and more personal takes on things (could you be any more vague?).
The plan is as it was before to have more of presence here. I will be writing about different topics and things about my own writing process. I have one about my ideas on crafting a story that is coming.
Music is a big part of my life and I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to approach reviewing albums which is something I want to do.
Thinking about it now, I consume so many things.

Fun fact: it’s been three years since I completed the first draft of my first novel. And a year since I started the second draft. I wonder what next May will bring!

Thank you for reading.