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Friday, March 8, 2019

Wake up.

My name is Tony.

Today is Friday.

Is this true? How do I know this? I just wake up and it's there, all the details of my life. I get out of bed, a male Caucasian, 51 years of age, a teacher and a writer. A husband and a father. A son. This is who I am. These are my memories.

I don't doubt them.

I don't actually do anything to remember. The details of this moment are just there. They present themselves and I accept them. What if I'm nothing like this? What if none of this is real? I'm not a male or 51 years old or Caucasian. Or even human. My memories could be manipulated and I just believed them. Because that's what I've always done.

As far as I can remember.



Book 2 in the Maze releases March 13
Pre-Order and save 25%

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Are you lost?

I was introduced to abstract art in college.

I took a few art classes because that's what the college people told me to take. I had some artistic ability, so why not. (Side note: it paid off when, twenty years later, I wrote two textbooks on landscape design and did the illustrations. So you know.) Anywho, I was doing the exercises, the gesture drawings and charcoal sketches and still forms. One class the professor pointed out how I had illustrated something properly when, in reality, I was super bored and just rushed to be done. I'm a genius.

So I didn't get most art. But there was something about abstract art that appealed to me. Not all of it. I don't get much of it, actually. I mean, some of it, the joke is on us. It's a green trapezoid, people. A green fucking trapezoid. 

Recently, I stopped by an exhibit in Columbia, SC to see a Jackson Pollock. Pollock, man. He was the one I got.



This was the first work I was aware of that featured free slinging paint splatters on a large canvas. Now I'll admit, I see some abstract art and, yeah, a three year old can definitely do that. A lot of Rothko's work... it sells for millions. Millions.

Related image

But Pollack, man.

It's paint splatters. It's symmetry in chaos. An interplay of texture and color, a balance in the untamed. I can stand there and look at it and get something new from it every time. I see something different. It's not everyone sees it.

But it's for me.

I've got my own studio now. It's set up on a makeshift bench in the backyard. Canvases are set side by side where I knife and splatter paint and let nature do the rest of the work--rain and wind, dogs and squirrels and whatever else wants to contribute. I haven't sold a single piece nor tried. I'd be embarrassed to try. But I lurve it. It's the kind of art I want to hang on my wall and costs nothing more than canvas and paint (which isn't super cheap; I mean, the math on that Pollack is awlot.).

It's what I dig.




In fiction and movies, I like the challenge. I like to be thrown into the abyss and figure my way out. It doesn't always have to even make sense. The Fountain, anyone?


So Book 2 in the Maze, this is where I'm going with this. The Hunt for Freddy Bills is a mind fucker. I'll go ahead and throw the curse words out because it's got that. The Maze, if you've read the short stories and Book 1: The Waking of Grey Grimm, is an exploration of reality and consciousness. In Book 2, you, the reader, will get be getting the mind fuckery.

The Maze has a purpose. It's more than money. It's more than a challenge. It's much bigger than any of that. Because there is no escape.

There never was.

GET THE MAZE





Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Gamer is On

Been a long time coming.

A few years ago, I wrote a short story that would be part of the Gamer Chronicles, a compendium of short stories by a group of authors. That story was the Maze. That was the genesis for The Waking of Grey Grimm, a full length novel. Then the production of the Gamer Chronicles went on hiatus. So I published the short story Maze and wrote another one.

The second shorty is Dupe.

The Gamer Chronicles is back on. It features stories by Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy award-winning authors Ken Liu (Star Wars: The Legend of Luke Skywalker), Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning author Seanan McGuire (Every Heart a Doorway), plus nine more of today's top authors in speculative and science fiction.

This also includes, Dupe, another prequel short story in the Maze. And you can get it now.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Book 7 Claus Universe Update

The Toymaker is now on hiatus.

I put 12,000 words into the Toymaker over the last couple of weeks. Yesterday, it was clear. The Toymaker needs to wait. It's not a bad thing. It's actually very good. This feels like an epic story and the timing isn't right. This, I think, will be a story that brings all the characters in the Claus Universe (Jack, Flury, Eb, Miser, Ronin and even Claus) together. And I might write it as a serialized story. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So what happens to book 7?

I went back to an earlier idea, one that started months ago. It has to do with toy. Not Toy Story, but sort of. But not. It starts with a girl named Skylar. Every year, her family spends the Christmas holidays at their mountain retreat. This year, her cousin comes back from an Arctic expedition acting strange. That's when the adventure begins.

And the toys change.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Book 7 in the Claus Universe

It has begun.

Coming December 2019.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Days of Claus

I was 10 years of pissed off.

It was a friend's dad who spilled the truth. We were in the backyard and they were insisting he wasn't real. I was arguing hard the other way. Lying came easy to me and I'd been in trouble for it more times than I'd watched Gilligan's Island. My parents made it clear, they weren't into lying.

So he's real.

But then our friend's dad broke the truth. He said it out loud and for some reason it landed. Suddenly, it all made sense. A fat man in a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer? Coming down a chimney and leaving presents all in one night? I knew it. I always knew it.

It's a lie.


All that sitting by the window and watching the sky, laying in bed awake to hear the reindeer land, sneaking out to see the cookies half eaten and the milk gone. The stockings stuffed, the presents in mysterious handwriting. The special feeling.

Gone.

That was a milestone, a sort of lame passageway into adulthood. Some cultures are sent into the wild or stung by insects to be considered an adult. We had to admit Santa isn't real. And we were pissed. My brother and I confronted our parents. My dad just shrugged, I think. My mom tried to crowbar the lie back in place.

The spirit of Santa is real. 

Not the same. The spirit of Santa wasn't downing those cookies. You were. The spirit wasn't wrapping those presents or stuffing those stockings--and don't tell me the spirit was in you. Not the same, Mom. Not the same!

So anywho, I wasn't going to do this when I had kids. You have kids? You don't? Let me tell you the worst kept secret about parenthood. All those ideas you have right now about how you're going to parent? Flush them down the toilet. Sometimes you're just hanging on till the ride is over (another secret: the ride never ends).

So I had kids. And I did the Santa thing. I just couldn't rob them of the magic, couldn't outcast them among all the other kids. It just seemed not right. So we put out the carrots for the reindeer, drank the milk and ate the cookies, the whole nine. They had all those sweet sweet sleepless nights waiting for the reindeer to land. The only difference was this.

"Is Santa real?"

"What do you think?"

"No."

"Don't tell your sister."

And that was it. They weren't pissed. Of course, they weren't quite the caliber of liar I was growing up, but that was besides the point I think. We didn't drag it out, no forcefeeding the myth. It was make-believe and it was fun. They figured it out and now they were in on it.

So then what's this Claus Universe all about?


I've written six books now about Christmas legends in a way that portrays Santa and elven and flying reindeer and living snowmen as real, using sciency means to tie together the magic threads. My wife reminded me, at one point, what are you doing? Isn't this just a different version of the  He's-Real feeding tube?

She might be right. Maybe I'm trying to recapture the mysterious magic that was lost in growing up. The blanky, the pacifier, and all those childhood toys are back there. Maybe I just wanted to climb into the toy box again.

So here I am, six books into the Claus Universe. I keep finding more toys to dig up. Ronin, the last reindeer, is the latest installment. He's like Rudolph, but bigger and badder. His story is like all the other ones in the Claus Universe, standalone novels with some crossover characters.

They aren't exactly bedtime stories. They're more like Harry Potter without the wands. It's growing up problems, it's adult problems.

And plenty of my mom's Christmas spirit.



Monday, September 24, 2018

The Birds and the Psycho Bees (Pondering Love and Death)

Our bees got slaughtered.

We started a hive in the backyard last spring. It had problems and never really got going. Bottom line, it was a weak colony. Then we made a rookie mistake. We spilled sugar water. 

Technically, I did. But this is a team effort. My wife and I share the victories and defeats. We spilled sugar water on the hive and didn't think anything of it. The next morning, the bees were swarming. 

They were active. Like super active. Usually they're only like this when they're returning with pollen before sunset. Now it was all day. And there seemed to be more of them. A lot more. And there was fighting--super aggressive, dead bees on the ground fighting.

Here's what happened. 

It's autumn. Flowers are folding and pollen is scarce. But winter is coming. Bees store honey to make it through winter. Bees also take it from other bees. Especially weaker colonies. So essentially what we did was invite another colony to annihilate ours. That's exactly what we did. 

They slaughtered their own kind--their own species--stole their honey and drank their sugar water and that's it. It's like Vikings in the insect world flying in on their boats and just taking shit. Total annihilation. Nature is to the goddamn point. No police, no lawyers or laws or any bullshit. Kill and survive. Do what it takes. Sucks to be you.

I win. You lose.

We're out of that food chain. I don't think we're necessarily kinder than nature, perhaps our cruelty is more sophisticated and, in that case, more devious. I mean, bees just take honey because they want it and need it. They only slaughter their own kind because they're in the way. They don't pretend to be your friend, they don't gloat or dance on the corpses of little dead bees. They just do it.

So what do bees love?

My wife and I have been married 26 years this week. We started out together relatively young and made it this far. A lot of that is luck--luck in the sense that we're both very sincere in making our relationship work. I'd say we love each other, in the traditional sense that word is used. We say it all the time. 

But I'm not sure what love is, exactly.

Is it being physically attracted to each other? Is it liking the same things? God, both of those help. I mean, when we're into the same things, in particularly each other, oxytocin is a powerful drug. But then we aren't always on the same page. So then what, we love each other less? We like each other less? 

What does like have to do with love?

We got lucky. We matched up early on when we didn't know shit about ourselves or the world just that we liked how it felt when we smashed our faces together in the back seat. High on oxytocin, we kept the dance going. Then life got real, we didn't always get what we wanted, one of us would sacrifice something for the other and vice verse, sometimes resentments would linger, we went through some real real shit, sought counselling, learned to meditate, had kids, a couple of dogs and here we still are. 

It's 30 years. 

Marriage, I think, is a great vehicle for personal and spiritual growth. It pushes buttons, forces us into corners, keeps us from holing up in a bachelor pad with an Xbox and a cooler of tall boys. Always on our toes. And sometimes growth means ending a relationship. A friend once said divorce was not an option for his wife and him. I said divorce always has to be on the table. Choose it or don't. This ain't the Great Depression. No one is trapped.

I don't know what love is. I know bees love honey. I mean, they kill for it so they must. I know I'm in very deep like with my wife. I like her company, the way she laughs, her compassion and sincerity. We give each other room to screw up, to reflect, to grow and to come back to the table. That's the love part.

Plus she's hot. 

I started writing this thinking she would read it and it might get me laid. But then I read through it and that's probably not going to happen. The bees are dead and I don't know what this is. I just know I love her. And hope we keep dancing.