Saturday, August 30, 2014

Last Friday in August

It didn’t occur to me until a couple of days ago that I missed my son’s first day of senior year. That is, I wasn’t up to watch him walk down the street towards school. Part of that was the fog of illness I was under, but I’m impressed that my son actually wanted it this way, to get right into the thing without fanfare and speeches. 

He plays his first game of his last season tonight. He did indicate that he wanted us there to see him play. He’s on the kickoff and kickoff return squads and starting on defense.

I have to forcibly remind myself to focus on the now and not worry about what he will be doing with all of his energy and talent one year from now when he’s no longer in school.
The days run away like wild horses over the hills. Or maybe it’s more like this.

As we quasi-officially wind up Summer 2014 with this Labor Day Weekend, I note that this will be the summer remembered as the one in which people posted videos online of having buckets or tubs of icewater poured on them. It’s this year’s Macarena. Just like Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” is this year’s “Hey Ya.” However annoying both phenomena were, at least this summer had some distinguishing features. That said, I’m looking forward to having that song and the “challenge” behind us. Fuck that shit. We can do better than this.

I started this post yesterday, and here it is Saturday afternoon already. Let’s wrap it up. I’ve got the darkest first act of the darkest zombie apocalypse novel to finish this weekend. September is going to be all about Act II.

Meanwhile, are you looking for a couple of quick and dirty reads this weekend? A tale of post-apocalypse adventure that’s neither Guns and Ammo porn nor weepy soap opera with zombies? Check out Book 1, Bleeding Kansas, in Kindle and paperback. When you’re done with that, go straight to Grace Among the Dead, also in Kindle and paperback. These are brutal tales, brutally written. Check out what the Germans stomach so much better than your fellow Americans!

Book 1 has ONE exploding head
on its cover.
Book 2 has TWO exploding heads.
See the pattern here?


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Diary of The WRONG KIND of DEAD

I’m running these edits of Facebook updates, in which I probably reveal way too much about the coming attractions in the concluding book of my SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER trilogy, The Wrong Kind of Dead

My streak of post-depression/illness writing blazed white-hot for only a few days. Now it’s to take stock and make notes on what to elaborate on, what to cut, and where to go from here. And to make blog posts. And design promotional .jpgs.  Have I mentioned that the first book in my zompocalypse series, Bleeding Kansas, is on sale?

Anyway, here’s how you build the first act of a kickass zombie novel, one to top the second and first installments in a weird and violent series:

Saturday, 23 August

Three beers. Three pages. That was Friday night. Gotta work on the ratio — should have more pages per beers — but last night was pretty special, given that I’ve been blocked all month long until now. Also, within those three pages, I, 

a) introduced a new character and set up the beginning of her arc (the theme of this book is “Fun with Multiple Character Arcs”) (last book’s theme was, “Creating Credible Romantic Frisson Between Two Damaged Characters”)

b) introduced a minor villain who precipitates the action (he’s really just a pawn in the Greater Villain’s game)

c) reunited my hero with some people he never thought he’d see again, creating emotional turmoil/another wedge between him and his new wife

d) brought back a character from Bleeding Kansas who will play a brief, but major role in setting up the main action (he’ll later explain what’s been going on with the Rest of the World since the Dark Resurrection — we’re going widescreen Technicolor Big Picture/the Whole Enchilada of Human Civilization in the Balance in this book).

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Readers, you already know you get more happening in three pages of any one of my books than you do in 300 pages of lesser-written novels. In this case, my time off — largely spent wondering if I’d ever get the energy to just type again — seems to have done me worlds of good. Much love to the inventor of anitbiotics and whoever brewed up last night’s batch of Full Sail India Pale Ale. I had genuinely forgotten what it’s like to be me, doing the thing I do best. It truly is a good life if you don’t weaken.
Just gotta keep truckin’...zombie truckin’ down the line....

Sunday, 24 August

Remember those three beers and three pages I talked about? Between Saturday night and Sunday morning it’s now 21 pages. Orchestrating a full-on domestic dispute between a man and his two wives during a military evac in a zombie swarm zone is thirsty work. I’m hurrying through this because I’m looking forward to firebombing the city. It’s good to be at work on a Sunday.

I like how the nude woman provides the Uncanny Valley effect here. In actuality, a lot of dead people would already be naked or the next best thing, lying in hospital beds, etc. Most wouldn’t look so sexy though, as there would be voided bodily wastes staining their legs.

Monday, 25 August

I stopped last night at the bottom of page 25, the first page of Chapter 4. I’m a little hung-up at the moment orchestrating a massacre of “ferals” or “rat people” (scavenging post-apoc humans, as opposed to more proactive hunters/farmers) holed up in an apartment high-rise on 8th Street in west Colorado Springs, just on the other side of the hill from Manitou. 

They were just too damn handy to kill, though. They permit my heroes to see what’s keeping the super-hungry, super-cray-cray zombies off their own asses while realizing just how messed-up these new people are, beaming drone footage of the massacre back to the Redoubt for the entertainment of decadent elites hundreds of miles away. It’s a chance to set up a Major Thematic Question (is civilization really worth saving? really?) while throwing down some major zombie gore porn to earn my stand-out cred in a very crowded genre. 

Ah, Monday. So long as I can bash out 10 rock-solid pages like I did over the course of yesterday, it’s good to be at work. Cynthia got another pot of coffee brewing, and I’m on the case. Tough break for those poor damn rat people, though....

Kibbles ‘n’ bits!

Tuesday, 26 August

Only four pages were finished yesterday (pp. 26-29), but they involved a massacre, including a lovingly depicted infanticide — and now the Family Grace learns they’ve been unwitting participants in a reality TV show (filmed by drones) while they’ve been fighting for their lives to survive the winter. Helicopters are all over Colorado Springs now for “the final packout” and the dead are going nuts. Derek Grace and his family know going with Col. Dietzen and his people is their best hope for survival, but now they taste another flavor to the evil they always knew was there among the elites who hid themselves in Wyoming while the dead rose to walk the earth for living meat. 

What horrors await my heroes on a Tuesday? I’ll need another cup of coffee and another square of 86% cacao dark chocolate to sort this one out. They’ve got to break camp and visit with the Abundant Life settlement (now run by people who hate the non-religious Grace and his free-wheeling family), but with luck I’ll have those fat incendiary clouds blossoming like dreams of 1945 Dresden over Colorado Springs in time for the evening’s ale consumption.

Hellfire missiles fired from Predator drones are an obvious choice, but I wonder if I can get away with some old-fashioned napalm for an Apocalypse Now wall-of-flame finish. It occurs to me I could also blow up the chemical weapons depot in Pueblo (a major real-life disaster waiting to happen down the road from me). Time to bust out the Sharpies and the desk-calendar paper; I’m going to need to outline this one.

Dead people no likey the fire.

As it turned out I wrote two more pages, and started Chapter 5. I made some cuts throughout the previous pages, posted some sticky notes indicating things I want to see punched up and possibly brought back, and did a lot of thinking under post-midnight gray skies about where the narrative elements I’d introduced in the first 32 pages might take the book.

Which brings me to today. I need to get this post up, and get back to finishing up Act One.  If I could only get Act Two done as quickly as this first one...well, I already know I can pound out the pages when I have a more-or-less clear direction....
Cue Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight.” I need to do some myself.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014


It’s only for three more days as of this post, so jump on it if you haven’t already. You can try the gateway drug to the zompocalypse epic Saga of the Dead Silencer, Bleeding Kansas, for all of 99 cents!

Meanwhile, my wife fixed my Grace Among the Dead graphic for me.

There’s still some work to do, but we’re on the right track. Now to finish the night’s work on The Wrong Kind of Dead.


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Answer Was the Cure

My wife got sick of listening to me be sick so she scheduled me an appointment. We ain’t got much, but thank God we’ve got Tricare Prime. If what I walked away from the pharmacy desk with isn’t enough to kill this thing, there’s no hope. As it is, I’m feeling better already.

The Augmentin is the MVP of the team here, which should take care of the opportunistic infection occasioned by exhaustion, anxiety, and what I’d thought was a long dismissed episode of depression.

Naming the demon was half the problem. It was in conversation with my honors student/varsity football playing son, in which he confessed to being anxious about his impending senior year, that the answer to the question What is this shit? was revealed to me. Once I realized it was an expression of the same anxiety and depression that had dogged me at this time last year, I felt my energy levels rise. It was as if someone had taken a heavy blanket from atop a running motor. Now that the motor had air, it could run at full efficiency.

Like a weight being lifted from me. There’s a reason that expression exists. I had denied being anxious about my second book, about making the podcasts and doing the promotion necessary to getting my audience. I had all but curled up into a ball hoping all this responsibility and need would go away on its own. Can’t be responsible for anything if I’m sick, right?

I put on my shoes and went for a long walk. I was still weak, but not so weak I couldn’t pull off my usual three miles. I got going good and proper on the medication. The next morning I woke up feeling nearly normal.

Today I exploded through my writer’s block to type three pages on my new novel. At last!

In all my years, I’ve yet to find an anti-depressant
as reliable and effective as cigarettes and alcohol. No shit.
“Drinkerbell” Copyright © 2014 by Matt Dixon.
Since the self-murder of the comedian recently I had long been considering a proper rant at my disdain for talk about depression from people who live in much nicer circumstances, who are in no danger of living in any condition that amounts to outright poverty. So my depression is built upon reasonable terror and justifiable fear...I’m actually well enough now to realize that it doesn’t matter. 

Nobody loves you when you’re down and out—when you’re depressed for actual, concrete reasons—and there’s no changing that. I’m on my own. But that’s for the best. Nobody knows my issues better than me.

I named my demon, and the fucker vanished in a puff of stink straight back to Hell. Only I could have done that. Yeah, I’m feeling mighty pleased with myself.

Most of all, I’m feeling not sick. Goddamn it, let’s get back to work! I’ve lost enough time to these August blues as it is.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Awkward Encounters of the Spectral Kind

H/T Cultura Macabra.
I’d have no problem with this so long as she stays in that damn swing and doesn’t follow me home, acting out the violence of her abduction and death by breaking shit all over my house, spooking the cats, standing over me while I try to sleep, etc., and forcing me to confront her killer in a lethal showdown just so I can make her adorable ectoplasmic ass cross over like she should have done in the first place. Child ghosts can be such a nuisance.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Late Summer Cold: My Final Flu?

Good Lord, what is this shit? I’m sitting here in dry, 74 degree temps in my basement bunker and sweating like it’s 104 in heavy humidity. My wife says I’m running a fever. She’s arranged to have me seen by the nurse practitioner tomorrow. I don’t know what the nurse could do for me other than prescribe some cough medicine with codeine.

Which will keep me stoned and happy in a socially acceptable way for as long as it lasts, but goddamn it, I want to know: what is this shit?

I don’t often take sick, but when I do....
It started 19 days ago with a sore throat caused by post-nasal drip. Nineteen days ago. I noticed my wife had had this upper-respiratory cough going on for several weeks before, which was fucked-up enough. Then again, between being allergic to all the animals and half the plant life in Colorado, she’s always got something going on.

Me, if I catch anything, it never puts me down for more than three days at a time. Maybe a week, if it’s really nasty. This particular malaise dogged me for two weeks while I was working the temp gig at the campus book store, but I managed to work around the waves of nausea that doubled me over last Tuesday. By Thursday, though, I was down for the count. I’ve been in and out of bed ever since.

At least I’m past the sinus congestion phase. One night I was afraid to lie down, because I thought I might suffocate. When I coughed I’d free myself of whatever skein of phlegm was tickling my trachea only to find out the activity had swollen my nasal membranes. 

Meanwhile, at the Center for Disease Control.
I’m sleeping better now, even dreaming, which I noticed I hadn’t done before. I wonder if the up-for-one-hour, down-for-three-hours schedule I’m keeping now is making up for all that smothered sleep. These waves of sudden fatigue are damned weird, though. Like all of a sudden I’m out of battery. 

I ask again: what is this shit? And what the hell can I do to get it to turn loose of my poor, tortured ass?

That this bug resembles the Final Flu that brings on the zompocalypse in Bleeding Kansas is not lost on me. So far as I know, one in three people aren’t coming down with it. It’s creepy-scary, though, like nothing I’ve ever been through in terms of duration and variety of symptoms. A body can’t help but wonder.

Like everything else, I’m just going to have to power through it. Like everything else, I will. Whatever this shit is.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Sending Off Summer with The Beach Boys, Decongestant, and Beer

The 2014-2015 school year has already started for a lot of children. Today was the first day for the first graders on the school up the hill from my house here on the north side of crumbling Colorado Springs. My son, who attended that same school as a fourth and fifth grader, starts his senior year of high school tomorrow.

I wonder about the memories these kids made. My son is stoked about owning his first smartphone, so that will likely be the big one for him—although he did manage to take the controls of a small aircraft during an orientation flight earlier in the season, and worked to get the tickets to pay for his first rock concert up the road at Red Rocks. He did Civil Air Patrol encampment. We didn’t make any epic cross-country journeys, or go to the beach, but Summer 2014 wasn’t a total wash.

Some summers really are better than others.
“Salty Sally's Treasure” Copyright © 2014 by Matt Dixon
He spent the most amount of time in bed or in front of his computer screen, playing games, coding maps, etc. Which, when you think about it, most of our summers are defined by the One Big Thing we did, like spend one week at the beach (as I did), but the bulk of it was spend lounging around. Not that we didn’t get out and toss the football every now and then. I’m only saying we spent them lazy. At least my son sat in a chair. My preferred position was lying on my bed with a book.

Some summers were busier than others, though, if not as busy as the one described in one of my all-time favorite songs. When you hear this line, try to sing along. It’s not as easy as it sounds:

          Miniature golf and Hondas in the hills.

There’s a sadness at the core of this tune that speaks to me. On one end of it, I know Brian Wilson didn’t get to do most of the fun things he described in the song; this was fantasy for him. On the other end, for those who do get to have these action-packed summers, “it won’t be long ‘til summertime is through.” Like my son, the boy and girl in the song will graduate school into a world in which there is no summer break. It’s only that time of the year when it’s really fucking hot getting into your car after work.

Enjoy it while it lasts, kids. It really is up to us, now.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Special Guest Sermon by Charles Bukowski

Like the best sermons, it will go right over their heads, save for those select few who already got the message.

Okay, so that’s a bitch to read. Here’s the transcript:

For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.

I really need to make my own memes of these things. Right now, I just want to get over this damned cold. I spent the night fighting vampires in my dreams, with full-spectrum light rifles and sigils drawn quickly on the concrete floor, which means I've managed some R.E.M. sleep. It's a start.

Happy Sunday!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Charles Bukowski Would Be 94 Years Old Today

...and none too happy about it, I imagine.

It’s no country for old men, after all. As Bukowski noted in his later poems, written as the Bush I administration was winding down in the early 1990s (Buk died in 1994), things were becoming much the way they were around the darkest years of the Great Depression that he grew up in. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting shafted, and then mocked for their troubles in the process. With the brief blip of the Early Internet Age prosperity behind us, we now have a permanent Great Recession. 

Buk would likely still be safe in his plush San Pedro digs, bolstered by continuing sales of his books and the occasional speaking gig. But it’s still a world in which the police can shoot an unarmed man in the street, and respond to protests with military surplus gear, while the media wrings its hands over wealthy comedians suffering from depression, prompted by the suicide of one who never once in his life had to fear sleeping in the streets, as Buk had numerous times before his eventual success.

It’s been a particularly bad week in the Empire. I expect the Last Poet Who Mattered would have been happy to have missed it. Bukowski knew better than to be surprised at the behavior of law enforcement officers, or even the astonishing gullibility of a public that accepts these routine examples of bad behavior as “something that happens only every once in a while, by ‘bad apples.’”

In the end, it’s “well, what can you do?” and we already know the answer to that. 

In other news, in the wake of Bleeding Kansas’ success in my ancestral homeland, Luzifer-Verlag has taken on Grace Among the Dead for translation and publication in Germany. The “blog tour” hosting I did for Sara F. Hathaway turned out well for me in terms of page hits, and I like to think some of the visitors even checked out my own books.

I’d enjoy this bit of good news more, along with my release from my latest temp gig, but I’m sick from an opportunistic infection caused by sheer exhaustion. I’ve been in an out of bed all day. It’s hard to work up the energy to attack my latest book, The Wrong Kind of Dead.

I’ll just have to give myself the weekend. And as much as I say I won’t do this again, I’ll likely get called in again around Christmas and New Year’s as I was last time—and I’ll likely have to go if I want Christmas paid for. This time I know I’ll have to schedule a day off during the marathon 14-day forced march. I’m simply too old for this shit. This time around damn near killed me.

On the other hand, what if I catch a really good second wind and I don’t have to go in? That I promote my books in such a way that I can pay off the credit cards with the royalties? It could happen.

If I can just get past this damned summer cold...I’ll just have to give myself the weekend. After that, I’ll let something far worthier do me in. I’m not a wealthy comedian with million-dollar houses on the market and two ex-wives howling for alimony (with a third potential ex-wife who, judging by her behavior before his suicide, apparently didn’t give a shit for him), so I can’t kill myself. I have people counting on me. Not sociopathic, gold-digging parasitic whores. Actual family.

So, I’ve got that, too. If I can just have my health back, there’s a chance.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sara Hathaway's Post-Apocalypse Blog Tour!

...and now for something completely different.

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Sara F. Hathaway about stopping by the Rage ‘n’ Romance bunker in crumbling Colorado Springs as part of her blog tour. As this seemed like something I could learn from as part of my continuing education in promoting my own books, I said, sure. What’s a blog tour, anyway?

From Tate Publishing
Sara F. Hathaway is the author of Day After Disaster, a post-apocalypse novel working from the same motif as S. Johnathan Davis’ 900 Miles and my own Bleeding Kansas, in which our intrepid hero finds him or herself caught far behind enemy lines, separated from the family he or she should be saving as the apocalyptic shit hits the fan.

Hathaway’s bio describes as a “student of Wilderness and Urban Survival,” which isn’t a bad thing to be when SHTF, as survivalists refer to Shit Hits the Fan trigger that kills the electricity, and civilization in the bargain.

Her interests in the literary side go back to the Clan of the Cave Bear series. “I tend to look at myself as a student of skills to keep myself and my family alive. I don’t like to prep. I think sometimes the prepper thing goes overboard. But,” she adds, laughing,  “I have my ammo too.”

Sara F. Hathaway
Hathaway’s heroine Erika in Day After Disaster ends up pinned beneath a wine rack in a bomb shelter turned wine cellar. After she frees herself, she has to wrap her body in duct tape against the corrosive, toxic waters pouring in. She builds a raft using pieces of the restaurant she emerges from.

Then things get nasty. Day After Disaster is part of the Changing Earth series, so you can be sure Erika’s earthquake is not an isolated event. The social niceties die with society, and Hathaway doesn’t flinch from the implications:

“There is a description of the sexually horrific things that men would impose on weak women,” Hathaway says. “I included this difficult subject to drive home the reality of a survival situation. Rape would happen and it is each woman’s responsibility to learn how to defend herself.

“I also included a beautiful love, a connection between husband and wife that exists over space and time. This wonderful romance exists between soul mates and cannot be severed by separation or death. Their love is like a burning ball of energy that swirls through the universe connecting the two souls together. Do they finally find one another in this life or the next? Guess you need to pick up the book and find out!

Hathaway encourages everyone to come by her own website for a copy of “The Go-Bag Essentials” and a virtual book tour. She’s got four and one-half stars from 11 reviews on Amazon, so she must be doing something right.

As Hathaway leaves for her next stop on her tour I look around and think, shit, I need a bigger basement, and way the hell out in the country, at that. This poor burg is hardly livable now, but when SHTF....


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Hump Day, Bukowski Speaks of Death

I should have gotten something out yesterday. There are tons of Bukowski memes to find and share; I could even make some of my own, and better.

Ten and one-half hours standing up and shoving baskets into the bellies of college students by way of crowd control (when I run out of baskets, I block the door until someone walks out) takes its toll, though. It’s amazing how time has slowed down. I’ve got Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to go, and I wish I could feel excited about only having three more of these shifts to do. No, I have three more shifts to do. I’d rather it be none. But I’ve got bills to pay. My best hope is to get through this with nothing major breaking. Like a lot of people, I’m one minor catastrophe away from the street.

Meanwhile, I’m supposed to feel bad for a multi-millionaire comedian, beloved the world over, who killed himself. Richard fucking Cory strikes again.

Oh, what a rant I could get from this. I’ve got to go to work, though. Charles Bukowski Week continues:

Naturally, the above quote does not describe Robin Williams. He seemed a thoughtful enough guy. But good on him for being able to afford checking out. I’ve still got a son in high school and a wife who depends on me to keep my shit together. I’m glad I’ve got people, don’t get me wrong. But never, ever ask me to feel sorry for someone who would laugh at how “little” money I owe relative to what he would make for one episode of a shitty TV comedy series. 

Goddamn it, it’s a quarter ‘til already. I gotta go.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Charles Bukowski Week Begins Today!

I would have started it yesterday, so it would be a full seven days, with the week ending on the great man’s 94th birthday this Saturday. This seems more fitting. Buk himself probably would have passed on celebrating for an entire whole week. Also, it makes sense to start it on Monday. 

Something that escapes most bourgeois fans of the Last Poet Who Mattered is that Bukowski worked for a living. Not because he wanted to, not for “material” for his writing, but because that’s the way the plantation is set up for most people who are not to the McMansion born. Slave or starve. Endure the abuse of the boss and the customers and all the other poor, troubled assholes you work with, or enjoy trying to get a nap on the dirty concrete outdoors before the Protect and Serve people move you along with their sticks and shoe tips.

I could have set these memes to go earlier—I should have set these memes up to be automatically published as the week goes on, as I’ll be working ten-and-a-half hour days from now until Friday at the campus bookstore. I’m in for a long, miserable week. It’s kicking off early, as the goddamned smoke detector decided to let me know the battery was dying at 3 a.m., and my wife thrashed around in her sleep after I went and took the smoke detector off the ceiling and put it in the garage. Oh, yeah, a real sweet start. 

My second book, Grace Among the Dead, is sputtering in sales. It’s as if people don’t know it’s out there. I should be promoting the hell out of it. I need to figure out how to do this. Maybe finally break down, buy that microphone, and start my You Tube channel at long last.

Maybe I’ll get some ideas while at work this week. They’re not happening here at home, not even in my basement sanctuary, and the bills aren’t themselves, besides.

Fuck it. Let’s get this week started, get it over with, and on Friday and Saturday nights, I’ll get roaring drunk. We’ll work it out as we go. 

Charles “Hank” Bukowski would understand, and, for that, among many reasons, is why I honor him this week.


Friday, August 08, 2014

One More Cup of Coffee Before I Go

I did the nigh-unthinkable yesterday. I walked away from 30 easy dollars standing by a door handing out blue baskets to college students entering a bookstore. Two reasons: waves of nausea coming doubling me over, and I simply had to get away.

If I’m all about these cheesy little self-affirmations,
though, it’s because they work. Sometimes. 
I’ve been spoiled by all this time alone in my basement. I don’t want to play the introvert card, as I’m not a goddamned introvert—I take a dim view of these “I have [mental condition]/I am a [fancy word for maladjusted dipwad]” fads that come and go—but being around these people really does suck the life out of me. Nothing against them (well, one is an annoying cunt), but I don’t belong among them. I don’t belong among anyone, really, only the family and friends who have put up with me for decades, and their number can be counted out on both hands. It’s just the way things have rolled for me. Can I help it if I’m blessed?

We have one more long week to go from here. Despite an exhortation from the boss to call in sick if I still felt bad, I’m driving back in to do it again today. For one thing, the solid night’s sleep I had did wonders. Also, I had a talk with the bills, and the little bastards still aren’t paying themselves. I’m not seeing any royalty checks from Germany until the start of next year, and I’ve got to go through Christmas to get to that. So, therefore, Q.E.D., ipso facto and fuck this shit, we’re finishing up this gig.

Blog posts and work on the third book in the Saga of the Dead Silencer trilogy will happen when it happens. My next free day is the 16th, Charles Bukowski’s birthday, when I’ll hoist the Jolly Roger and set sail for Blackout Island. Until then, though....


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

State of the Apocalypse, Eight-Six-Fourteen Edition

For some people Wednesday is the middle of the week, the “hump” you get over until Friday. For me, the middle doesn’t come until Saturday. At this university campus bookstore, my fellow temps and I will be working every day, including Saturday and Sunday, until the end of next week. 

Today is only Day 3 of our 14-day forced march. Half the month of August is shot as far as much of my new writing goes. Gotta make bank, though. My son is starting his senior year in high school and we have clothes to purchase, and athletic and lab fees to pay.

Fortunately, I pulled the “late” shift of 10:30 a.m. until closing at 6 p.m., which means I can get up at the normal waking time for most people (6:30, 7 a.m.) and knock out some things before I drive in. I always feel better going into work after having written something, anything. Knocking out a few promotional tweets for my books, as I did this morning, feels like an accomplishment.

I stand around my fellow temp workers, and it doesn’t matter that I’m a successful horror author in Germany. The German translation of Bleeding Kansas—as of the last time I looked this morning— is in the top 100 Kindle horror books, and top 100 overall for horror.

It’s not something I can share with my fellow temps, most of whom are struggling worse than I am and “don’t have time to read.” Of course, many people still equate the writing and publication of a book with financial success, so how good could I be if I have to work crowd control for ten bucks an hour? Best to keep my mouth shut, and play the role of the Charming Older Fella helping the young ‘uns find their required physics textbooks.

Newsflash for all aspiring authors: you don’t really make money writing books unless you can sell the movie rights. The best you can hope to come close is to write a lot of books, and keep them all selling at once. I’ve got two books out there, with one in translation in a foreign market, and obviously I’m still trying to get a grip on this marketing thing.

Part of marketing is blogging, and this is the best I can do. For now. Here are the obligatory links to my books. These are the Kindle links; you can get the app free for your phone, PC, or Mac. Look on the linked pages for the links to the paperback versions if you’re so inclined:

Saga of the Dead Silencer, Book 1, BLEEDING KANSAS.

Saga of the Dead Silencer, Book 2, GRACE AMONG THE DEAD.

I’ll got to finish this up, shower, and see what I can do to get Chapter 2 or Book 3 sketched out. Then off to the “slave,” as the old jazz musicians called their day jobs.

Here’s hoping my books provide you with sufficient distraction from your own worries for a while. If you work customer service, you might enjoy the vicarious pleasures of slashing, clubbing, and shooting the formerly living. God help me, I have. Still do.
Okay, get ready to open the doors! It’s time!


Saturday, August 02, 2014

First Harvest

Today, 2 August, is the Feast, or Festival of Lammas. In pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon culture, this is when the first crops were harvested, six weeks away from the autumnal equinox, and twelve short weeks away from the start of winter. (In cultures of the northern latitudes, winter started on the first of November. Samhain, better known as Halloween, is the pagan New Year’s Eve.)

Although I like to joke about “my pagan heart” I’m no more pagan than I am Jewish. I simply like the symmetry of the old calendar, and its practicality in corresponding with the seasons of planting and harvest—and that such necessary work is celebrated with drinking, feasting, and fellowship.

Clothing optional! What’s not to love?
We really don’t celebrate anything in the modern West. Christmas is the one holiday that dominates, and nearly everything about it concerns—and, ultimately, only serves—commerce. Memorial Day, Labor Day, the 4th of July, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo are drinking holidays at best. At least Halloween, like Christmas, has a component to involve the children. 

Of course, we’re too atomized by our jobs, the widening chasms of social class, etc. to comprehend communal festivals like Lammas, Mabon, Samhain, et al., so what the fuck am I saying? Never mind.

I will take this time, as appropriate to this festival, to reflect on accomplishments and regrets, and the turning wheel of the year, the turning wheel of my life. It turns out I got a good head start on that Thursday night.


I pulled on my sneakers and forced myself out for a brief walk in time to watch July fade from the sky. The clouds had broken and there were bits of open sky. After two straight days of gray drizzle it was good to see. Still, I caught a case of melancholia thinking how school will be in session in two weeks, football (the real thing) will be played in lighted stadiums throughout the land in four, and we’ll be in the greased time chute that is Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year on our way to go back, Jack, do it again. 

Winter is one cold bitch, and not very far away.
The melancholia started small, and made a move to becoming severe after I got back to the house. I forced myself to crank the Jeep and ride out to the liquor store for a 12-pack of pale ale. I put away six bottles while jamming away to my music. 

Between Welbutrin, Zoloft, and whatever else, nothing kicks my blues harder in the ass than a steady regimen of ale. The suicidal indigo blues that tortured me nearly to death last summer aren’t making a comeback. That was a sweet piece of victory, and a timely one at that, because I’m on my feet at the campus bookstore eight and more hours a day from Monday straight through Saturday. Depression is a luxury of the comfortable classes, and the unemployed.

By way of keeping my spirits up I note two things I missed in my post about the end of July. One is I had my third best month ever with the blog. Still lousy numbers, but they are trending ever so slightly up. 

The second is the remarkable bit of news that the German translation of Bleeding Kansas is available. Hell, there’s a whole page full of my books on the German Amazon site! Three years ago, I never thought I’d figure out how to write a novel. Thank the dark gods that issue was resolved. 

Yes, it’s already half-past 10 p.m. at GMT - 7 and Lammas technically ended at sunset. I’ll wind this up with Steve Winwood’s tribute to this little-known festival, with the hopes we can squeeze just a little more sweetness from what little is left of this summer.