Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Football?

I get the impression from some of my friends that football is a nuisance to them; that every year when it rolls around they resent having to deal with rabid fanatics chanting “Boise State!” or “Defense!” or the odd semi-aborted curse about Jared Zabransky and bone-head passes or how the kicker “pulled a Brotzman” and missed the PAT.

Please allow me to explain. It’s simple, really, my obsession with football. First, I used to play, okay? And watching a great game and cheering on my fave team—the BSU Broncos—is a way I can relive the glory days. But mostly, the reason I love football is because we live in a woman’s world these days. Everything is clean, nice, orderly, and all our relationships are festooned with doilies and floral prints.

Football takes the sharp end of a bulldozer to all of that. It’s a gladiator sport. It’s for warriors. It’s for the masculine mind; it’s a military strategy game that pits commanders against each other, each one working to outmaneuver the other with trickery, skill, or just plain brute force. It’s all about the highlight reel hit, the one that knocks a guy flat on the turf and lights up the living room with stars and makes people spill beer on the couch.

I love football because it’s one of the few things out there nowadays that we feeble men have left. Our wives deign to give us permission to wallow in violence every Saturday in the autumn, and quite frankly it’s this season, more than any other, that I live for. It gets me through the triple-digit heat of July and August. And it’s the reason why, when January eventually expires, I tend to sink into at least a shallow depression. Because it means I have to get back to the civilized business of being a man in a woman’s world.

I love football because it is the antithesis to so very much around us these days: weak constitutions, effeminate men, being nice, smooth talkers, big talkers, all show and no go, and women pretending they have testes. Please. Men are forged in the fires of contention, not born. Men are warriors. And this is our season, our time. Forgive us this indulgence in the things that make us tick. That’s not an apology. Football rocks.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What’s the Deal With the Marsburg Diary?

Some may be asking, “What the flippineck does ‘Book one of the Airel Saga Diary Books’ mean?” Simple: The Marsburg Diary is the first book of the subseries in the Airel Saga.

Clear as mud? Good. I like to trust that my audience is smarter by several degrees than the average television-watching slob. Plus working with a quality man like Aaron Patterson is at least a small guarantee of that. Sort of.

By the way, I love compliments that come prepackaged with the tiniest hint of insult; they’re balanced.

So, for those who’ve read Airel and loved her, loved her story, dug the varietals in the plot etc., I have a treat in store for you. Remember the prologue? That little bit about William Marsburg in Stuttgart, 1897? Remember the gigantic question mark that hung in the air as it ended? Well, get ready for resolution in The Marsburg Diary.

And get ready for more questions. But you love that, don’t you. Yes, you do. And you know it—it’s what’s great about being a reader of books. There’s no spoon-feeding here.

Today, get ready to meet Harvey Marsburg: William’s slightly clutzy youngest son. The elephant in the room is that Harvey was born in 1967…which is kinda impossible, given that William would have to have fathered him at well over one hundred years of age. It’s one reason Harv has always thought the old man was crazy. He hates the memory of him and is glad to have moved on after his death—or at least tried.

The problem is, the foundation that William established to provide security for his boys—Jack and Harvey—has now sent a large trunk to Harvey. Addison, the executor of the estate, has left a cryptic note for ol’ Harv. But what starts things in motion before all this is the letter bearing William’s seal. There’s a weirdness to the address that seems to portend more than one meaning…plus, Harv could swear he’s being watched. As a huge thunderstorm rolls in from the west, Harvey begins to look into the trunk. And though it goes against everything within him, he begins to lose all his reasons for disbelief.

Harv gets lots of questions answered, but as a result, he has even more questions now than when he started, and so will you. Don’t miss The Marsburg Diary, available now for Kindle and Nook. Coming soon: Michael, book two in the Airel Saga, and next year look for The Wagner Diary, book two in the Airel Saga Diary Books series. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011


It's amazing, really, what can come from a simple dream.

I recently dreamt something very simple: there was a box. It was made of bulletproof glass and high strength steel, and it had a door on one side. There was a girl there; she either lived inside it or wanted to. This is where the dream turned, though, because as my mind wove the scene together, the girl was suddenly pushed out of the box screaming.

The hook of the scene is that whatever is outside the box is dangerous. Hence the screaming girl.

Anyway I decided to write something along the lines of the dream the next day. In about an hour, I had the rough shape done. Over the next few days I perfected it, and today I just read part of it for the Huckins Writers' Guild in Boise. The feedback I got was quite good, with one person telling me that the story sounds "mythical," a connotation that I find very desirable as a writer of stories.

So, coming soon, I'll be releasing my first digital short: Strongbox. It'll be free. And I'm pretty sure you'll like it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow Through

Art can exist within the shroud.

I have to wrack my brain to remember, but I’m pretty sure the first time pen hit paper in regard to my debut novel K [phantasmagoria] was about two years ago. That would mean I started writing the first bits of the concept right about the time I was just starting to pull out of a debilitatingly vivid depression over what the experts call a “life event.” Suffice it to say that personal loss can drive an artist to produce amazingly potent and relevant work, which I believe this work will be. Never mind that it’s taken so long to write it.

It’s funny that when I set off on K [phantasmagoria] I wasn’t much of a writer. I didn’t know much about fiction beyond what Aldous Huxley and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had donated to me from beyond the grave. I had no concept of what passive voice might be. I was unaware of the dangers of direct address in fiction. I didn’t know the rules. So I started to make some of my own. I’m vaguely aware that it’s a no-no to use contractions in the narrative now. But I do it when it fits, for instance, because it just reads better.

Basically there are no sacred cows. Including that old chestnut about not dwelling over the work. And not re-writing anything until the rough draft is done. And the whole idea of NaNoWriMo, which encourages writers of all stripes to bust something out from start to finish every November. Sorry, mate. Not this time round, anyway.

You ever hear that old joke about how something happened on the way to the theater or whatever? Yep. It’s the same with me and my novel, only my novel is what happened to me on my way to finishing it. I’m sure someone out there can relate.

It’s not that it’s in need of salvage. Far from it. It’s just that, in a way, I started writing it too soon. Again, I’m sure there’s a writer out there who can relate.

All of this baggage conspires against completion, though, y’know? It’s true. Better to get things done quickly. Better to resist some of the more controllable, optional distractions and slug it out, get it done. All that conventional wisdom.

But as it turns out, all the delays and distractions have served a greater purpose. They’ve given me time to think my way through the plot forward and backward, get to know the premise, lay things out just right, fine tune everything…and learn how to write, let alone write a novel.

This is just to encourage you. Follow through on that project that’s been shelved for God knows how long and for God knows how many reasons. Follow through on it and start to finish it. It will be worth your time. Your effort. Because it’ll be as much a part of you as you are of it when all is said and done. Follow through.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I’ve been growing a reputation for reviewing the weirdest things. So I’ve reviewed dictionaries, sue me. Why not review Pandora? I suppose part of it has to do with what must be undiagnosed ADD, ADHD, PTSD, and whatever other psychobabble alphabet soup will stick. My contention is that most of these disorders are code for “man” in a world obsessed with femininity; one in which real men decidedly don’t fit.

But there are other reasons for my penchant eclectique. I think a lot of it has to do with me spending quite a bit of my free time in my student days classically training to be a musician. I look at all creative art through this lens. Movies, painting, writing, the lot. And I’m proving who I am right now with this rabbit trail.

So I guess I’d better get down to it. I recently gave into Pandora. It’s an online music streaming service, for those of you in Twentynine Palms. I was all jazzed about setting up my Pandora account so that I could get my ears on some new music. I like to write while listening to movie soundtracks, concertos, opera, symphonies, old jazz standards, and on and on. I was stoked to get on with one of my custom-built “stations,” Needtobreathe Radio, built simply by typing in one of my favorite bands’ names to the search bar and pressing play. Not only does it play Needtobreathe, but in my opinion, a lot of the stuff Air 1 ought to be playing.

And that brings up the nasty reality of the music industry these days. Radio play is that irritatingly repetitive because of the fact that record industry heavy hitters pay for play. It’s not democratic or even fair. It’s not about popular demand for music, or even an overzealous radio program manager. It’s about money. Which sucks, because if a label has enough cash it can pelt us through the radio waves with the same song five times a day for eternity. I don't know if you mind it, but it drives me right up a wall.

Enter Pandora, where you get to choose. Ha! I guess I should explain. You can give each song a thumbs up or a thumbs down. You can also skip songs. If you give a song the thumbs down, Pandora grovels before you:

Okay, we’ll never play that track again.

That’s nice. Yes, I am the master of all I survey.

If you skip a song, sometimes you have to sit through ads. There are less intrusive ads on the iPhone app, which is why I usually listen to Pandora on my iPhone. But you’ll never guess what happens if you skip too many tracks. Oh, it’s lovely. It made my day not too long ago. It was full of awesomeness.

I gotta set this up. When bands and songs that are whoring themselves out on the radio also pop up on my Pandora playlist, I give ‘em the thumbs down. Hello, that’s why I’m not listening to the radio: to avoid the same songs that have been on the program manager’s playlist for a decade or more. Case in point: Jars of Clay’s Flood, which makes me borderline homicidal whenever I hear it now. It’s not the song. It’s that it came out about sixteen years ago and has been played every day since on Christian radio stations. Home Depot plays it on their Muzak system. Yes, you can hear it while walking in the orange-festooned Aisle of Man. It’s freaking everywhere. It’s like Barack Obama, really. There’s no escape.

So we’ve established that I have been customizing my Needtobreathe Radio playlist on Pandora by skipping or giving the thumbs down to tracks that I abhor. Well, just the other day The Fray popped up on my channel. I always give them the thumbs down because the lead singer sounds hopelessly bored with himself and everyone else, and I just don’t need that; I have a hard enough time getting through my day without listening to some effeminate fool on suicide watch endlessly bitching about how he could have known “how to save a life,” and quite off key as well. All this to say that when he popped up I gave him the thumbs down. Nothing happened. I fingered the button a little more assertively. Nothing. The Fray was in my head, torturing me, and I feared I’d be irretrievably depressed if something was not done quickly. More button clicking and still nothing. I closed out of the app. Ah, silence. Then, foolishly thinking I had won, I re-launched it, and there he flipping was again, agggh; so I pressed the thumbs down button again. Pandora informed me curtly that:

Our music license only allows you to skip a limited number of tracks.

“WHAT?!” I bellowed. The air became blue. Well, purple. Dark words. Okay, not really, but there was darkness in my mind. If Pandora was at that precise moment physically in the room there would have been murders. End of story.

But wait, there’s more! I’ve always wanted to write that; I don’t have a rational reason for it. But there is more. I just want to pose a question to the music industry: Really? You just don’t get it, do you. You’ll suffer another Napster soon (I hope and pray) if you don’t stop FORCING your customers to listen to certain bits of art that you really want exposure for because they make you more money. Imagine if an indie author rolled like this?! I mean, I can set price points and be a greedy and manipulative capitalist, sure, but holy cow; I would never force anyone to consume art so that I can make more money. Anyway, that’s all. Disillusionment is such a violent thing. Actually, if anyone ought to have learned by now, it’s the fans of the music. I guess we want to hear our faves badly enough to sit through all the piss poor opening acts and Captains Comeback and Pay-for-Play Polly Populars the music industry can throw at us. It’s too bad something as potentially cool as Pandora is tainted by the money machine. Thank God publishing is the world's only perfect industry.