December 31, 2012

What I've Learned

I’ve had a lot of different magazine subscriptions over the years. The first were all fiction magazines: Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Realms of Fantasy. When I started gaming, I picked up Dragon Magazine. Near the end of my teenage years, it was all shit like Details, Maxim, and Stuff—you know, magazines that were basically the print equivalent to SPIKE. Then, of course, freshman year of college there was the nigh-obligatory subscription to Playboy.

None of those lasted more than a year, I think. And now print magazines are dying out like the newspaper. But there is one magazine I’ve kept a subscription too and probably will even when that means I can only read it online—Esquire.

Yes, they do waste paper and space on shit I’ll never be able to afford—like cars that cost twice as much money as I make in a year and jackets that start at a thousand dollars—and for some reason they keep voting Mila Kunis sexiest woman alive, but with the articles and essays and works of fiction “the good” far outweighs “the bad.” Beyond any of that, however, the single thing I look forward to every year is their Meaning of Life issue.

Every month Esquire runs a piece with a different actor, writer, politician, scientist, or everyday person called “What I’ve Learned.” It’s just a list. A simple list of what that person has figured out about life, about being human. The Meaning of Life issue compiles the best of the past year with several new ones and a couple of long interviews—standouts from this current issue are James Lee Burke (first novel rejected 111 times!) and Sean Penn. It’s always a thought-provoking and moving read.

So, here’s What I’ve Learned:
  • Be fully present in the moment. This applies to everything, even writing. When you’re not here now, you’re unhappy.
  • Being married is hard. Hell, having any sort of relationship with another human being is hard. I’ve been married 12 years, longer than anyone I know who isn’t twice my age. It’s constant work that requires complete honesty and total intimacy.
  • Loyalty is important. Everybody needs someone who has their six. (See above.)
  • You’ll always see someone else you think is attractive. There’s nothing wrong with that unless you act on it or undercut your partner. (See above.)
  • No one is prettier than my wife anyway.
  • Getting married is the best decision I’ve ever made. I love my wife more now than I did 12 years ago. 12 years ago I loved her more than I did when I first met her 4 years previous. And I know next year, I’ll love her more than I do now. It’s like that.
  • The real moment of intimacy, the real fucking test, will be when one of you is suffering. If you can pass that, you’re set.
  • We’ve passed.
  • Humans are tribal animals. That’s when we’re happiest and function best. We lost sight of that and instead paid lip-service to the idea with a bullshit notion of the “family.”
  • We want continuity. Some part of us recognizes that that’s impossible. So we seek some form of control. Tattoos, piercings, dying your hair, make-up, clothes, going to the gym, and running any part of your life on a strict regimen are all about exercising control.
  • You can’t control someone else’s behavior and you can’t help someone who doesn’t want it. You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s true and you need to remember it.
  • I may not want you in my life and I may not want to get to know you, but that doesn’t mean I want you to be unhappy and suffer.
  • Laughter heard from the next room is sometimes the best. And sometimes the worst.
  • I eat healthier and live cleaner now, but sometimes I miss eating greasy diner food at 2:00 am, drinking twelve cups of coffee, and then smoking a pack of cigarettes.
  • It’s what Leonard Cohen said, “Love is the only engine to survival.”

December 30, 2012

Coming in 2013

There's a lot of words coming down the pipe from me in 2013. Here's a taste:

In The Clear, Black Fields of Night—The novella-length sequel to A Rip Through Time should be available soon. Black Fields finds Simon Rip assembling a team to end the fight against The Company’s conspiracy once and for all.

Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats—Right now, I’m waiting on the introduction before racing to the finish line with this anthology of greaser crime tales.

Blood on the Milky Way—Wrote this post-apocalyptic tale of the illegal milk trade for Andrez Bergens’s Tobacco-Stained Sky anthology a while ago. It should see the light of day sometime in 2013.

Searching For Shane Stevens—The heart of my long promised Shane Stevens biography is actually done. I just need to add the new info I’ve uncovered and give it a big rewrite.

Untitled Spy Thriller—I’ve had this thriller for Beat To A Pulp plotted in my head for a while. The story just needed to simmer until I found the right voice for it. Now that I have it, I’ve been flying through it during my long winter break.

War of All Worlds—I’m very excited for people to read the conclusion to my Simon Rip arc. War will be epic and set the stage for other writers to send the timecop into exciting, new territory…assuming enough people dig Black Fields.

December 23, 2012

Drunk on the Moon2

Paul D. Brazill’s Drunk on the Moon 2 is now available from Amazon for the Kindle. This is the second collection of crime/horror tales to feature Brazill’s Roman Dalton, a werewolf private investigator. This time around the anthology opens with an introduction by Richard Godwin and contains stories by Matt Hilton, Vincent Zandri, Carrie Clevenger, JJ Toner, Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, Chris Rhatigan, Ben Sobieck, Ben Lelièvre, Paul D. Brazill himself, and me.

In my story, “The Girl With The David Bowie Eyes,” Petra Kier is sick. Petra is the first girl Roman ever loved and she needs him to track someone down before she dies. Her last wish sends Dalton careening down memory lane to confront his past and his future while dropping him into the middle of a blood-soaked feud between two elder supernatural creatures.

I hope you’ll give it a read.

December 16, 2012

That Day He Had A Headache

A part of me doesn't want to write this. Honestly, I'd rather not talk about it at all and I usually don't. The only person who knows this story and hasn't been my friend for years is Tommy.

But yesterday, in town, I was waiting in the checkout line at a store. The woman in front of me was talking about the school shooting with the cashier. She said, “I don’t understand why that boy’s mother didn’t get him some help or have him committed.”

I almost said something.

I didn’t, because I knew I would lose my temper and that would accomplish nothing—“Get him help? Are you fucking serious? You don’t think she tried. ‘Oh, shit, get him help! I never thought of that!’ The problem, lady, is that our health care system is fucking broken, and it’s easier to get a gun than it is to get treatment for mental problems.”

Then, today, I read this blog post... 

You're not alone, Soccer Mom. So, here goes

My middle brother is currently serving 56 years in prison and he’s violently mentally ill.

Nearly all my memories involve visiting him behind one set of bars or the other. From a lax juvie hall to a maximum security prison, I’ve seen him walk into the visiting area normally and I’ve seen him lead in by burly corrections officers. Sometimes, he’s been free to touch and hug, but others he’s been barely able to raise his hands thanks to the handcuffs, shackles, and belly chain. I’ve talked to him easily across a cheap plastic table and strained to hear through the vents in thick shatterproof glass.

His behavior started when he was young and only worsened with age. Mood swings become outbursts. Outbursts lead to punches. Punches escalated to full-blown and nearly unstoppable violence. Sometimes, during an unguarded moment, if you approached him correctly and he was in the right mood, he might tell you about the things that followed him home in the dark, watching and whispering.

My mother tried to get him help.

“He’s fine. He’s just being a boy. Boys are rambunctious. They get into trouble. He’ll grow out of it.”

“The problem is you, lady. You need to relax as a mother.”

“We can hold him for observation for only a short time, then he will be released.”

“Your insurance won’t cover more treatment than this.”

“He’ll be ordered to report for counseling.”
“If he doesn’t show?”
“He needs to be arrested for something. That will make detention and treatment easier.”

As a child, I was afraid of my brother. It’s hard not to be when you know he's sick and the only response you can get is from the police and each encounter leads to more officers and the five armed with nightsticks that showed up that last time barely slowed him down and he managed to drop at least two before being subdued. It’s hard not to be when you have a hushed conversation with your mother in your bedroom about what to do if the worst happens, where you are to hide and whom you are to call.

And it’s fucking impossible not to after the day he came by to visit, complained of a headache and went to lie down in the back room. I remember he woke up an hour or so later, and a switch had been thrown somewhere in his brain. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on his face when he came through the bedroom door and rounded the kitchen table. I remember the rest of it—the empty car seat pitched through the glass door, my father lying in the backyard with his nose broken and two ribs busted, our eldest brother’s friend getting beaten with his crutches then strangled until his face started to change colors, our mother getting tossed down the hall then loading her gun and instructing me to follow her to the backdoor and run to the neighbors, standing on the property line crying because the neighbors wouldn’t let me or the other kids in, then there’s only the loud gun pop and my mother is yelling for my brother to stop because she won’t let him hurt anyone else and he moves and there’s another loud pop and the bullet hits dirt a few inches from his boots and she warns him again that if he doesn’t stop she’ll shoot him and he goes to move and she locks the hammer back and thank fucking god sirens are finally blaring down the county road and he’s running off into the woods—but fuck that look on his face. That look on his face...

 Looking back and pondering my brother's life, only one thing brings me any comfortat least he never picked up a gun. That's the best that can be said when you live in a country where a citizen's best hope for mental health care is prison.

December 6, 2012

Not That Kind of Demonic

I downloaded A Course In Demonic Creativity from Matt Cardin’s site the other day and read it in a single setting. At times, it was a little too New Age for me thanks to Cardin’s talk of finding your destined “purpose”. But that shouldn't put you off, overall it’s a fascinating read on the nature of creativity, genius, and the relationship between your conscious and unconscious mind. It’s a free download, so give it a try because—

“You don’t stop at the boundary of your conscious self.” 
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