Monday, April 28, 2014

A NARCISSISTIC COWARD TALKS ABOUT WHY HE WRITES DARK FICTION


MILK-BLOOD
    That is the name of my next book. It’s got a touch of the supernatural, but is largely a bleak tale of Urban Horror, and it takes place in the home of Urban Horror, Detroit, Michigan.  I’ll be shipping it off to the editor any day now. 

After my first two novels contained a touch of sweetness, I have been examining why I enjoy writing dark fiction lately. I already wrote an article on why I think horror writers have some of the finest hearts around, but still, that wasn’t personal as much as universal. When I narrow my scope and look at why I myself do it, things change.  

It is not because I am trying to scare others. That is not it. I am happy with any feeling besides boredom and apathy I can create with a story.

Nope, I figured out that I like to write horror because I am the one who is scared. I am just a scared little boy, and writing squeezes that out of me.

My fears have changed, and I am not so much scared of monsters or the sounds in my dark basement. I am not even scared of bizarre families living in drug tunnels such as in On the Lips of Children.  My fears are different. 

Here’s what scares me:

I am scared of a universe with a God that does not exist. Or a non-caring God.  I am scared of randomness of tragedy. Scared of my own feelings and expressing them. Scared of my own limitations, that I am wasting my life, born with whatever talents that are like seeds in the soil ready to grow but never saw sunlight. Scared of my selfishness, that I am a raging, psychopathic narcissist, (because who else but a narcissist would actually write this blog post?) Fear of looking certain people in the eye. Fear they’ll understand me for a second, and that we’ll connect, or fear I’ll never be understood by another living soul, and am already walking in a living coffin.  Scared I am doing it wrong. Scared you are mocking me right now. Scared that something I missed long ago made everything I am doing right now irrelevant. Scared I’m waiting for my real life to begin while I live some fake one.  Scared that the finest humans of this world are destroyed by the worst ones in mass, unnoticeable genocides. Scared of that mole on my back.

So that’s why I write horror. Because I am the one who is afraid, not that I am trying to scare others.

Makes perfect sense that a coward like me relied on drugging and drinking for so long. But the greatest fears grow the strongest courage, and somehow I found the courage to stay clean and sober, partially by doing other things that create the same kind of buzz. Writing and running to name a few.

The first two novels I wrote had some darkness inside. In The Jade Rabbit there was child abandonment and the ghost of the hanging nun. STRAY was the story of euthanized dogs and heroin addiction, but ultimately these stories were about love, redemption, salvation, and the graceful hand of God in our daily affairs. Part of my fear is that these blissful forces do not really exist, and if they do, it is just happenstance, not amazing grace. 

Coincidence is just CHAOS’s way of remaining anonymous.

Before you go calling 911 to have someone come and check on me, I should note that I have an immense capacity for joy. I smile often, have an incredible family, am blessed with many riches, and my favorite song growing up (which still makes me happy) is Disney’s "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." There are plenty of days I can't open my mouth without a song jumping right out of it. I feel the light and happy just as much as the dark, and do believe there is a spirit that flows through all of us, and it is one of beneficence.   


Sometimes I go beyond believing to knowing. I run through the streets of my town with so much happy in me it just doesn’t feel fair. (I will never have the dark, brooding visage that looks so cool on author profiles like Jack Ketchum, but instead have more of a Jeff Strand smirk.) 

Writing about the darkness is just shining a light inside my scary closet to find out what's inside. All those existential fears need a face, and I need to stare them down so I can move on.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A.  My oh my what a wonderful day.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

TWO BITS OF NEWS - WICKED RUN PRESS AND DISNEY MARATHON

WICKED RUN PRESS
I have started my own line of books, and now all my self-published titles both past and future will be under the imprint, Wicked Run Press. It just means I'm infinitely cooler all of a sudden.

Wicked Run Press will be growing by two real soon. A short novel and companion story are on the way. Stay tuned.

DISNEY MARATHON 2015
Even though I have been asked by doctors not to run for many weeks, I still signed up for a marathon. That's what idiots like me do. I have plenty of time, and will be running in the Disney World Marathon in January of 2015. I am very excited, and the whole family will be there and doing some other races. I need feedback on where to stay, how to navigate, if I should do the pasta dinner, and taking character shots along the course.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Boston Marathon Finish Line

The most amazing finish line in the world is about to get even more powerful. In 2013, someone tried to take this experience away. In 2014, thirty-six thousand runners are about to take it back.

Friday, April 18, 2014

THE RESULTS OF MY MRI

The results of my MRI are in. Here are the doctors notes:

Diagnosis: Quadricep Muscle Tear
Treatment: Cessation or decreased running x8 weeks. Stretching, leg press, squats, leg extensions. Biking or elliptical. Naproxen/500mg bid.

Did you read 8 weeks? I swear that said 8, and it couldn't have been 8.  I know it also said decreased running, but it's already pretty darn decreased to 15 to 20 miles a week, so that's not the answer.

No surgery, it will repair itself, and I'm still blessed. Not in a cast and I can cross-train. I'm just a moron for not taking 8 weeks off during this nasty winter, instead of waiting until a gorgeous spring. 

What the results tell me are three things. Most runners know their body pretty well. I had been telling doctors it was a muscle issue, not a tendon or knee issue, but the tendons and knee seem to be what doctors focused on. And the treatment that I had planned back in November, (as I wrote in my last post), of time off running, cross-training, and then a return to light running, was right on.

The second thing it tells me is that I'm an impatient baby and that my time frame for this was not long enough. I certainly never gave it 8 weeks. As for time off now,  I'm still in the deliberation stage, but I've told myself 4 weeks off, then 2 weeks at 5 miles a week, and then 2 weeks at 10 miles a week, and then 8 weeks will be up and I will increase from there. This still fits doctor's orders of decreased running, but I don't know if I should trust myself since it was my best thinking that got me here.

Third thing it tells me is that I ran 3 marathons on a quadricep muscle tear. 

I have two half-marathons to run in 2014 for Runwell, or better yet, a full marathon with a long rest in the middle, and I still will do so, but I am going to pull out of the Dexter Ann Arbor on June 1st, and do Woodstock in September and then Detroit in October.

My last words for the doctor was that the sign up for the Disney Marathon for January 2015 was in five days. My whole family is excited to go to this signature event.  "Sign up!" he said, "even if you're not running until June, that gives you plenty of time."  

Those words I heard loud and clear and there will be no wavering.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Veruca Salt and MRIs

Oh, to have young legs again. I would pay 20 grand to have legs of a 20 year old. As long as I could do a payment plan, I would be all in. Probably 25 grand. 30 grand? okay, I'm in for 30. So when a doctor suggests I should get an MRI that will cost me $200 out of pocket, I eventually jumped all over it because damn it, I want some healthier legs....


The problem is that an evil mass of gook from hades has lived in my quad, off and on, for nearly two years. It lives on despite 4 different rest periods ranging from 3 to 6 weeks. After I ran the New York City Marathon in November of 2013, I took 6 weeks of rest, followed by light running, cross-training, more stretching, and weights. Sounded liked a good plan, what can go wrong?

Well, the evil mass of gook returned, and my latest of 3 doctors I have seen is an orthopedic surgeon from the Core institute and a doctor for the Detroit Pistons. (Oh, that's cool, he's important!) (Wait, they're in last place). A nice shot of cortisone chased the evil away, but like most evil things, it wasn't really dead, and it has returned for yet another sequel. Next up was the MRI

The morning of the MRI, I ran a bit harder than I have been. I thought "dammit, I want the evil gook to show itself". I did 8 miles, the longest of my long runs these days, in an hour and 3 minutes on a perfect spring day sporting my Runwell gear. It was wonderful, and as I write this, the evil gook smolders.

They do MRI's on Saturday nights at 8 pm I found out. And the MRI machines even have name brands written in big letters for you to see. Mine was a Toshiba. I imagined walking through Best Buy looking at a Samsung and Sony MRI machine, but then seeing the LG MRI machines at half the cost. I'm now a big Toshiba fan.



I found the MRI experience incredibly relaxing once I got used to the crazy-ass noises it makes, like it is about to malfunction and squeeze me to death. After the nurses told me not to move, put headphones over my ears, and there were no kids or new puppy to deal with, I was good. I could have stayed another hour. Now I wait.

I feel fortunate to be able to run. The injury is low grade, but chronic, and only hampers me from running fast and far.  I'm not fully grounded, and I am still planning on doing two half marathons for Runwell this year.   ("Don't care how, I want it know").

 April 22nd is the sign up for the Disney World Marathon, and my family is hoping to go. There's got to be a Toshiba machine out there that can fix me.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Beta-Readers and their Pot of Gold

The concept of Beta-Readers is something I stumbled upon after my first two novels were published. They are incredibly precious things, and finding them is like finding a leprechaun, only they hold things more valuable than gold. Without them, On the Lips of Children would have been a much lesser piece.

A beta-reader (as I see it) test reads the first version of a story, points out strengths and weaknesses, problems with characters, story arc, plot mis-steps, and gives a general preliminary reaction.

 My next piece is nearly finished and in its first version, and has a date with editor and writer Richard Thomas who is also editor in chief from Dark House Press, a LitReactor instructor, and a writer of neo-noir transgressive slipstream fiction. (His prose is as lyrical as that sounds.) (It just means dark and strange.)

But first I wanted to give a public shout-out to my Beta-Readers!

Charlene from Goodreads, whose initial praise for STRAY helped feed my ego enough to live on for a month or two, and who is trusted to beta-read for authors way more talented than I. Her critical eye was incredibly helpful. Check out her blog at Char's Horror Corner

Deborah from Goodreads who was born with an impeccable proofreading gene, and who, along with Charlene, gave birth to a different character in the story than the one you would have read about. Their feedback made him into something more plausible, interesting, and in a way, they are his mothers, and me just a neglectful father.

Chris from Goodreads, also known as CTGT provided great feedback, with a suggestion for a rewrite that freaked me out but was masterful. He had great thoughts on the 'meta-fiction' style as well as thoughts on the future cover. (Cover reveal a month from today!)

Author Gary Cecil has been a huge support to me, and is the kind of person I always picture smiling. Some sentences from the story were directly restructured thanks to his feedback which was diligent and awesome.  Check his page out here.

Thanks folks!  (By the way, you have just unknowingly become a beta-reader, and have just read the beta-version of this blog post. If you have any feedback as to how it flows, high points, low points, and a general reaction, then please let me know before I actually publish it.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Essential George Sheehan

If you’ve spent any time in runners’ circles, you’ve heard a quote by George Sheehan.  He is perhaps the grandfather of running writers, the spiritual Obi-Wan Kenobi whose happy ghost looks over us all.
Many months ago, Rodale sent me "The Essential Sheehan" to review, and I’ve found it to be a treasure chest of running wisdom.  It took me a while to read only because I did so in snippets, which to me is what makes the book work. It is a series of articles written throughout his life, none of which take more than a few minutes to read, but all of them with something that will make you think and add to your running life.
I knew Sheehan was a mind-body-spirit runner, with all sorts of quotes to evoke emotions, but I had no idea that Sheehan was also a great source of training theories that are practical and tangible. He heralded the power of intervals, how to train muscles that need strengthening for injury prevention, and running less junk miles. I was very happy to read him write, in so many words or less, “I can comfortably run a marathon on 30 miles a week” since that is about all I can get to these days.  Some articles were dated and wore their tube socks, but this added to the charm. Other subjects included the communal nature of races, the role of natural highs as opposed to alcohol use, and a goody bag full of spiritual inspiration.
 This is a book which lends itself to hardcover, to be read many times over and flipped open to random pages, and should have a place on your coffee table, next to your bed, or perhaps the perfect toilet reader. Since some runners may hesitate to buy a hardcover for themselves, this makes it a perfect gift. Huge thanks to both Dr. George Sheehan for his words and to Rodale for this gift. 
The Essential Sheehan: On Amazon
 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

BOSTON! Coming Soon

The Boston Marathon is just around the corner. If you are training for it then right now you are in the madness of tapering. You are icing your very real or very phantom injuries preparing to run in perhaps the most anticipated marathon of a lifetime, and to a degree, help a nation face some post traumatic stress.

My typical sentimental hyperbole falls short of what this year's event will mean. How ecstatic that last stretch along Boylston will be. Words fall short. No finish line sucks you into its grasp like the roar of Boylston and that blue stripe.  Especially for those who never got to finish last year. This year will be like none other.  I want to watch while running outside wearing google vision glasses and pretend I am there.  

Oh boy.

And here's another BOSTON I am excited about. A Boston Terrier. Our new puppy.

My family has been waiting for April 5th when he will be 9 weeks old and ready to take home. After adopting our last dogs from shelters, we wanted to choose a breed and choose a breeder, and after much research into the fairly scandalous world of pet sales, found a breeder we trust and the perfect breed. The Boston Terrier.  Here he is, the as of yet unnamed pooch.




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Free Books and Stuff

April 2nd, no more fooling around.

If I can't have my books made into a movie, at least I can try to make them easily accessible. Here is a list of my freebies on Amazon right now:






The Jade Rabbit   
at .99 cents


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ON THE LIPS OF CHILDREN - The Movie Deal

I have had a very hard time holding this secret, mostly because in order to protect myself from disappointment, I told myself it would fall through and never happen, but now that it's a reality I can shout it out loud.

The movie rights to On the Lips of Children have not only been purchased, but a screenwriter, director, and actors have been signed. The script should be done by 2015, with filming by January of 2016, and the movie in the summer of 2017.

It is a dream come true.

 It was through the support of Angelina Jolie herself that helped seal the deal when she agreed to play the role of Lupita, the mother from the underground tunnels. Apparently, Brad Pitt's success with World War Z meant Angelina wanted to adopt her own horror movie role. With just a few hours of makeup, she will be perfect:

Before




After
 Many of you runners will be ecstatic to hear that Kara Goucher, the US Olympian marathoner, has agreed to play the role of Erin. Apparently, Kara nailed the jogging stroller scene during screen tests.
 















I am also pleased to announce that Brooks has signed on for product placement. The characters of Macon and Erin will be wearing Brooks shoes, and I will be running in Brooks shoes for the rest of my life, and will name my next child Brooks.

As part of the promotion, I am expected to run the San Diego marathon in Brooks with a bib that reads "Macon," and a make-up artist will be adding burns and exacto-knife cuts all over my body. I'll be a running product placement for the movie, with a surprise ending.

Me, after some makeup, crawling across the finish line
Javier Bardem of "No Country for Old Men" fame will be playing the role of the hotel clerk Marcos...

...and Benico Del Toro will be playing the role of Dante, and apparently is so dedicated to method acting that he will live underground and snort bath salts for a full month prior to shooting.
"I don't always snort bath salts, but when I do, I prefer White Rush. Eat faces, my friend."

Due to its recent success, the publisher of the novel, Books of the Dead Press, is now in negotiations to be bought out by Bantam Books.  "I am incredibly excited to announce our partnership," says CEO James Roy Daley, who then confessed that  negotiations are slow due to the need for a English to Canadian translator.


I can't tell you how excited I am. Looking at the calender, since it is April 1st, the movie should be coming out in, hmmm, let's see....

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