Thursday, July 30, 2015


I don't know what I can say. I'm sad and lonely and fucking scared. If you've followed me for a while, you know my grandfather, who had a major hand in raising me, has had difficulties of late. He's back in the VA because of his heart. The front valve, he says, isn't opening regularly. They told him that they can fix it with surgery, but he doesn't want to do that.

Oh fucking fuck. He's ready to die. I've known this for a while, but it hasn't been real until now.

I can barely type this through a veil of tears. He means so much to me, and I know he's ready to go. He has a pamphlet from the VA about going into hospice. INTO HOSPICE. When he told me that, I felt my eyes burning. I didn't want to cry in front of him because I wanted him to know I was strong enough for this.

But I saw something tonight that I've never seen before. My grandfather, my hero for as long as I've been alive, cried tonight. He bawled his eyes out. He begged me to take care of my grandmother. I've never seen him like this before, and I felt weak to my very core. It scared me more than I've ever been scared in my adult life.

God, I can't stop crying. Oh please. I'm sorry. Help me. Please. I'm losing my mind. I'm so scared.

They took him downstairs for PT today. He did pretty well until he fell when he was using the walker they gave him. I saw the bruises and the bandages. He told me his shoulder hurt so much, but he was afraid to ask for painkillers to help.

All of my life, he told me that he hated having a beard. He needed to be clean-shaven at all times. The only day of the week he didn't shave was Sunday, just because he wanted to relax. Tonight . . . tonight he has a beard. No one at the VA wants to shave him. I have never seen him with hair on his chin before, and it's scaring me a lot. He's got headaches that come and go, but when they're coming, he doesn't even look like my grandfather anymore. The little hair he has is wild. He has a beard. His face isn't like anyone I know. He holds his head in pain, and I don't know what I can say. I beg him to tell the staff, but he doesn't want to. He doesn't want to because I think he's ready for the end.

I'm not ready for that. I can't live without my grandfather. He's made so much of an impact on me that I don't know what I can do. I want him to come home. I want him to be OK. I want him to . . . I want him to BE.

I'm sorry for all the times I was impatient with him because he couldn't hear me. I'm sorry for all the times I was angry because he soiled himself and the floor. Please don't take him from me. I love him too much. I can't see myself living without him.

God, if you're really there, help me. Don't take my grandfather away. Please. I beg of you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


It's great to have STRIP back in print, but holy hell that's a lot of money to charge for it. If I could get Amazon to sell it for cheaper, I would, believe you me.

But . . . well . . . there are two ways you can get it for less. Ten bucks, in fact. However, a lot of factors have to come together for you.

First of all, you have to be in the Chicagoland area on either August 1st or the weekend of August 7-9. In the case of 8-1, you'll have to be at G-Mart Comics in the city at 8 pm until whenever the new Bizarro Hour ends. In the case of 8-7 to 9, you have to be in Rosemont for Flashback Weekend. I will have copies of STRIP at both of these events, even though it is not bizarro or horror. And yes, I will be selling them for ten bucks a pop. Interested? Then come on out.

I'm not the only attraction at either of these places, kiddies. At the new Bizarro Hour, we'll have a bunch of awesome writers like:

And to top it all off, I'm sharing a table at Flashback with none other than the author of CATTLE CULT! KILL! KILL! himself, MP Johnson. (And, you know, there are a bunch of horror celebrities at the show, as well.) So yeah. Come on out, have some fun, buy some books. Maybe get drunk. Who knows? I hope to see you all over the course of the next couple of weekends!

EDIT: Want STRIP and my other books for EVEN LESS? Plus MP Johnson's books? Go here and print up a 10% off coupon for Flashback!

Monday, July 27, 2015


This might seem like kind of a cheat for a GF, and for the most part it is. These are usually the last things I write before turning off the lights and slipping under the covers. I might brush my teeth after writing this, but that's about it.

I'm posting my thoughts on Harper Lee's GO SET A WATCHMAN, but this wasn't written on the fly. It is my Goodreads review. However, I do have a few additional thoughts afterward. I try my best to stay away from spoilers in Goodreads reviews, so what follows this reproduction is a spoiler, and it's provided only for people who have read the book. Ready? Here's my review:

I remember when I first heard about this book. At first, I felt regret. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD did not need a sequel, even if the book was written before TKAM. But . . . well . . . I knew I was going to read it anyway because the world desperately needs more books from Harper Lee. One book simply wasn't enough. GSAW alone was something to celebrate.

Then the scandal came out: Atticus Finch was no longer a good man. I only read about that, so I didn't know the specifics. It enraged the readers of the world. I didn't listen to them. I wanted to discover this for myself.

I can understand why this book angered so many people. It's a hard book. This book hurt me deeply, almost as much as Jack Ketchum's THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (but for obviously different reasons). I, like many readers in the world, not only view Atticus Finch as a hero, but we were all raised by him. He woke within us a sense of morality, and many of us have lived by this moral code throughout our lives. Sometimes we did better, sometimes worse, but dammit, we did our best to do as Atticus would. When we discover in this book that not only is he a racist, but he's also a member of the local "citizens council" (read that as a group dedicated the preservation of the Great American White Way), it's heartbreaking. It's devastating. We feel betrayed just as badly as if we'd have discovered our own fathers were child molesters.

And Scout--now known by her real name, Jean Louise--experiences this exact feeling. You know, I've always liked Scout, but now that we see her as an adult, as Jean Louise Finch, I think I might have fallen in love with her. She grew up just as I thought she would, as much of a tomboy as a woman can be and still maintain a modicum of respectability. The way she conducts herself with Hank, a childhood friend who has become her kinda-sorta fiance, is a wonder to behold, especially for a book written in the 'Sixties. She is absolutely everything I look for in a woman. Here's something the internet didn't talk about: She is absolutely torn apart by this revelation about her father. She crusades for equal rights, and to discover that not only Atticus, but also her entire family and Hank, are all racists, it destroys her world. And to make matters worse, when she visits Calpurnia, the Finchs' old housemaid, she discovers that Calpurnia doesn't want anything to do with her. It's a very painful book.

I think it's painful because it's all too real. Considering how badly this book hurt me, it's tempting to want to say that I wish it was never published. But the best art can be exquisitely painful, and this is, in many ways, a more artful book than its predecessor. It unflinchingly looks at an unfortunate thing that happens all too often in real life. It's something I've witnessed and felt myself. The people you idolize when you're a kid--usually your parents or grandparents or whoever--tend to grow old and change. Before you know it, your father, who defended an innocent black man against a rape charge is suddenly talking about not letting black kids go to the same school as white kids. Or saying that black people are too stupid to help run the government. And so on. Perhaps if Atticus Finch were still around, he'd be gearing up to vote for Donald Trump in 2016.

This isn't to say that this is a very dark and brooding book. It takes about 100 pages before the story really begins, and a lot of it is spent in delightful remembrance of the Maycomb we knew as kids. When Jean Louise and Hank go out to Finch's Landing and wind up swimming--fully clothed--and word gets around that they were decadently skinnydipping? Incredibly funny, especially when Alexandra goes into damage control mode, even as she gives Jean Louise holy hell for doing something like that. Another great scene: when Jean Louise is hanging out with all the Maycomb ladies, and their conversations just start coming together in very comedic ways. Jean Louise gets overwhelmed by their stupidity and goes off on an awesome rant that you've got to read to believe. And just wait until you read Jean Louise's flashback to a high school dance she went to with Hank.

Yes, this book hurt me, but I also derived a great deal of enjoyment from it. Now I want to reread TKAM and see if I can see the real Atticus Finch peeking through the facade of Scout's memory.

PS: Is it weird that I envisioned Dr. Finch, Jean Louise's uncle, as an aging Warren Ellis?

OK, now for the spoiler part. If you haven't finished the novel, stop reading here. A lot of people are taking the ending to task for being weak. What the fuck did they expect Jean Louise to do? Leave Maycomb in a fit of rage and never even acknowledge her loved ones for the rest of her life? To ignore Atticus, the man who--even inadvertently--shaped her into the woman she became?

No. I would get that if Atticus--who joined the KKK just to see the faces under the hoods--decided to start burning crosses or lynching people. If he and his sister and Hank and all of the Maycomb citizens council decided that the best way to handle the "black plague" was a form of Hitler's horrifying Final Solution? By all means, fuck these assholes from here until the end of time. Nonviolence goes a long way with me. Many of my relatives are racists. Some of my friends are racists. I think they're wrong, and they should rethink their philosophies.

Jean Louise learns to love her father again, even though she can never believe in what he believes. In a heartrending scene, she attacks her father for not raising her in a normal, black-hating way because then she wouldn't have to deal with the horror of learning her father was not the man she thought he was. But we know she could never mean that. We know she's happy with who she is, despite the insane bullshit of her Maycomb family.

Dr. Finch--the only member of her family who doesn't exhibit a particle of racism in this book--helps her see how she can never turn her back on her loved ones, no matter the lunacy of what they nonviolently believe.

Love. That's the answer to life, the universe and everything, no matter what Douglas Adams says.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Yeah, those of you who have been following me recently know I've been going through a fit of depression. I thought I had a handle on it, but a few things happened that threw me off course. I'm trying to figure my shit out, I really am. It helps that I got my new copies of STRIP today, the ones with the awesome Luke Spooner cover.

But then there's the problem of my next book, which just got fucked by the publisher going out of business.

I'm trying to keep a positive front up, but it's hard. It's hard to get attention for this book because it's a romantic crime novel, and there is almost a zero market for that. I wish I could explain more, but that would give away the important parts.

I've been rereading the book for the first time in about two years, getting it ready to be presented to a new publisher, and I dreaded doing this. I was afraid that this book would suck because it's soooooo different from the other shit I write. But as I'm going along, I'm impressed. I love the fuck out of this book, and I don't want it to be forgotten just because the publisher went out of business.

It's ultimately a book about love, and I just don't do that kind of thing. I've taken every relationship I've ever been in and thrown it into this thing. It's painful to reread some of this shit, because it's almost all true. Almost.

I have a plan. Hopefully it will succeed, because I really want you all to read this book. It might be the most honest thing I've ever written, mostly because it's based on my extrapolation of a true story. It's not necessarily a true story, but it's so close it burns like Icarus getting too close to the sun. I hope you get to read it someday.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I don't write this with a lick of pleasure in me. I'm actually pretty ashamed of myself, but I promised that I would write this as part of my self-prescribed penance. Here we go . . .

I have not written a word of fiction in months.

Goddammit, it hurts to admit that. Ordinarily speaking, I try to get 2,000 words a day. Sometimes I get more, sometimes less, but I always get at least 1,000. At fucking least.

Not for the last few months.

Don't get me wrong. I've done a lot of writerly things in this time. In fact, I've done just about everything a writer can do in this industry without actually writing. I worked with Don Noble to get my first novel re-released. I worked on Strange Story Saturdays and MonstErection. I'm working on a secret anthology right now (which I'm sure I'll be able to announce very soon). I've done a ton of things, but none of them involves actually sitting down and creating something.

A lot of it I can place at the feet of a horrible physical problem I've been having lately. Some of you know that I recently broke my tailbone. Sitting down became incredibly painful for me these last few months. Unfortunately, I work a job where I sit down for eight hours a day. By the time I left, I was in such pain that I just didn't want to sit at my computer and write. It hurt too much, even though I gobbled painkillers like there was no tomorrow.

Whoo-boy. Here's an even darker twist. I was in such pain that I didn't want to be awake for most of my life during this time period. I had to be awake for work, so I played it as safe as I could when I was at my nine-to-five (which is actually 5:45 am to 2:15 pm). However, when I got home . . . things got ugly. I took a lot more than my recommended dose of painkillers, and when those wore off, I'd drink myself into oblivion. Yeah . . . not the healthiest thing to do.

Hey, at least I didn't down my painkillers with shots of whiskey. Although to be honest, that was quite tempting.

It hurt to do everything. I couldn't work out. I couldn't write. I could read, but only if I laid down in bed on my stomach. It was fucking brutal. I was desperate to get through this horrible period of my life, and as a result, I made some really bad decisions. I indulged in the worst of my vices in an attempt to time travel through the pain. I had a shit-ton of prescription drugs that I tried in various combinations to get me through until I could finally reach a phase where I was healed of this terrible broken tailbone.

Which is not to say that I didn't try to write. I managed to make headway on the weird SF vampire book I'm working on right now. I usually got maybe 200-300 words whenever I took the time to sit down and try. But for the most part, whenever I sat down, I felt pain. I just did not want to be in that position, so instead of muscling it out, I retreated quicker than Cobra Commander.

I did try to write when I took painkillers, but I discovered that I just couldn't do it. I'm not one of those writers who can get fucked up on all kinds of shit and then write. I never have been. I need to be sober to write. Editing? That's something different. If I drink while editing my own work, it feels like someone else's novel, so I can mercilessly cut myself to pieces. But I can't create while fucked up.

But even all of this isn't so bad compared to my conduct in the last few weeks. I stopped taking the painkillers because I knew I was out of control. Thankfully I discovered I wasn't addicted. I just stopped taking them, and I never thought twice about it. But I still felt pain. I never felt it outside of my job, though. I could last until the final hour without resorting to the 'roid cushion, which usually helped me get through the day. However, I never felt pain when at home. I could very well have sat down to write some things.

Yet . . . I didn't. I think I experienced fear. I think I was afraid that I just couldn't do it anymore.

I was wrong. I know this because I forced myself through three solid hours of writing tonight. It went slow, but it went well.

I've been working out for the last couple of weeks, because that no longer hurts. I got through today at work without needing the 'roid cushion, so I sat down and wrote tonight. Even though I was incredibly depressed over one of my publishers going out of business, I thought about what I should do next, and I'm planning a stage two form of industry combat for the book they were going to publish.

I'm back in the swing of things. I haven't missed a workout in weeks. I'm finally going back out on my usual walks. I'm writing like a fiend again. I'm off the meds, and I'm no longer trying to avoid living life. I've found the plot again, even though that SF vampire book is still giving me a ton of shit.

I would not have said these things if I didn't have control of myself again. Truth be told, my tailbone is still giving me problems. But I've finally figured my shit out.

And if I get a replacement for that juicer I mentioned on my Facebook, I think I might be able to lose some weight in the near future.

I've been fucking up left and right for a while now, but I've got this shit. It's in check. I still have DONG OF FRANKENSTEIN coming out from MonstErection soon. If I can get a handle on this vampire book? I'll have more shit for you soon. I hope.

Sorry for fucking up, everyone. I thankfully had enough projects to cover it up. But I couldn't live with myself if I didn't confess this major flaw. Thanks for reading, and goodnight you lovely non-fuckers.