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Monday, June 18, 2018

Ronin: The Last Reindeer Cover Feedback

So the sixth book in the Claus Universe is nearing the finish.

I'm way out ahead this year, like six months. The release is scheduled for November 1, 2018. I'll be requesting ARC readers probably in October, but for now I went ahead and got the cover ready. The artist really dialed in on what I requested, but I want your feedback before I moved forward. Take a look and comment. You like?

Any feedback would be fantastic. Tell me what you'd like to see added or taken away or changed. This is your chance to shape this project.

Claus fans, comment below!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Drayton is Loose.

Today is day.
Drayton is loose.

Get your copy

Friday, June 1, 2018

Kissing the Sky


That's what I called weed the other day and a twenty-something thought it was hilarious. Heroin is dope. Weed is just weed.

She had a point. It's remarkable that weed is still federally illegal. It's also pretty amazing it's legal in ten states. How the hell is fentanyl still legal? Shit is killing people and a plant growing in ground is illegal?

What the hell.

I chat up the legalization of weed often. I don't even use and I'm out there making the argument that if it was legal we'd all be growing it. You can't grow fentanyl in the backyard. That might have something to do with it.

My plans are to give weed another roll when I turn 60. I don't use it now because it never did me much good in college. I just got super paranoid. The last time I pissed my pants. Which is a pretty good reason.

I know enough users that have experienced very positive results from weed, psychologically and physically. And now there are some interest results coming from psychedelics, in particular mushrooms and LSD. Michael Pollan just wrote about using them to treat things such as PTSD, depression and end of life transition.

Pollan is better known for writing about food and ecology so this is a sharp turn. I recently heard him on Rogan's podcast discussing the scientific approach on their meaningful and lasting effects as well as expanding our understanding of consciousness. You might think these substances light up brain activity but it actually has the opposite effect. Pollan suggested they actually suppressed brain activity, in particular where ego activity is located, sometimes resulting in the experience of omnipresent supergalactic oneness.

Someone described it's lasting effects like this: the mind is a snowy slope and our thoughts are stones rolling down it. Over time, groves develop and thoughts tend to fall these tracks. Habits develop and addictions result. A positive trip wipes the slope clean with a fresh layer of snow.

I like that analogy, but if you think I'm game, I'm not. I'm so intrigued and so wish I could, but I can't even handle weed. Keep in mind, Pollan points out these are guided trips where someone is there to talk the user through the experience. It's not for those with unstable personalities or psychological disorders. I still have a hard time peeing in public restrooms.

I'll stick with meditation for now.

But this could be the beginning of some real treatments regarding mental health. In my twenties, I found my way through depression via meditation and therapy. It was hard work and a lot time, but that route was possible, at least it was for me. If there are safe methods to significantly heal the mind, they should be explored. A hundred years from now, humanity might be astounded we just suffered through mental disease in the same way we look at our ancestors suffering through a toothache or a broken bone, things that are easily cured today.

It's not hard to imagine our ancestors stumbling onto psychedelics. They saw God. Or a dinosaur.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Handmaid's Tale


Finished season one of Handmaid's Tale. It's rough at times to watch. Not from a cinematic point of view. It's the content.

I'd watched the first episode many months ago and got about halfway through. It seemed done well enough but I don't think I was in the right head space for it. After a second shot, I went through the first season fairly quick. The writing and dialog is very good. The acting as well, all around. Anything with Ann Dowd, you have my attention.

It's rough to watch at times for a number of reasons. The inhumane treatment of women, the systematic abuse and rape that's embraced by a zealous government and the hypocrisy of its leaders  maintaining and frequenting bordellos. The cinematography lends a dreary sense to the story and captures the everpresent hopelessness and callousness.

As dystopian and fictional as all this seems, it's not as far removed from reality as we want to believe. The Handmain's Tale is a good reminder that slavery was still legal less than 200 years ago in the United States and women gained the right to vote about 100 years ago. It's absurd to think these things were so relatively recent in human history.

Season 1 has a very gratifying ending. It's not one where June, the protagonist, gets revenge and rights all the wrongs. It holds to the distorted reality of the story. June uses the very system that has brought her suffering against the people who created it. An ending that stuck with me for days. While season 2 has already begun, I'm still ruminating on season 1.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Space, the Only Frontier

The Roots of Drayton is finally done.

This is the first full length novel in the Drayton series. It's more science-fantasy than it is urban fantasy. The series started out more urban fantasy but this novel evolved with more science fiction elements. So Sci-Fan.

It was space.

That was the element that bent it toward sci-fi. Like a lot of my stories, I don't recall how I got to it, but it frequently reminded me of one of Joko Beck's dharma talks. Practice was about building A Bigger Container.

Joko was the founding teacher of San Diego Zen Center. Her teachings, for me, were some of the most profound and influential. I needed things to make sense, lessons I could integrate into life. A bigger container has always stuck with me. Another Zen teacher, not nearly as well-regarded but still on point, once described his job as "selling space".

Like a lot of my Zen work, my life in general, it's taken time for me to understand. Even now, it takes me weeks, sometimes months, to understand what I'm really feeling. The other day I recalled something that happened over two years ago and put it together.

But space.

Joko's metaphor worked well for me. At the time, I understood it as the ability to hold more life. Forgive me Joko if I missed your point entirely, but that's what I did. My own understanding was something like this. If anger is a pebble and I am a thimble, then anger will completely fill my awareness. I have no room for any other experience. But if I practice and allow myself to expand to the size of a barrel, then the pebble is insignificant. The anger didn't need change.

One of my favorite talks comes from a pschotherapist named Bruce Tift. Already Free is the audiobook. I've listened to it three times and get something from it every time. He refers to experiential intensity and those emotional experiences that can be overwhelming, especially in childhood when we lack the ability and means. When we work with them, or practice, we improve our ability to tolerate, or make room for, more experiential intensity.


I think of space when I lose patience. When someone steps on my last nerve. When I can just be in the moment, listen to someone. I begin to fidget, feel anxious, irritated. I run out of space.

But then there are times when I have plenty of space, enough to accommodate all the feelings--fear, happiness, curiosity, whatever--and just be there with it all. I can't always explain why I have moments of spaciousness. I know I like it. I know I want more. And I seem to experience it more often the more willing I am to just be with whatever is there.

Thimble or barrel.

So if you're a Drayton fan or want to find out what space has to do with any of this, the novel is available for pre-order. Get on it. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Is anything ever really finished?

I went to ArtFields, an art competition in various disciplines, because I'm fan of the creative. It's what compels me to write.

The abstract stuff appeals to me, Jackson Pollack and the like. Some of it doesn't look that hard to do. I'll be honest, a lot of it looks like stuff I did in third grade. But then there's other work that's more complex than it appears.

I've completed several works for the sole purpose of hanging them in our house. It was cheaper than going to a studio. Writing, by far, satisfies my creative needs, so I rarely pick up the brush. But the one question every artist has to answer is when is the work finished? At some point, I think, you just have to put the brush down or type the end. Make your best effort and set it free.

A couple of weeks ago, many of you took up my offer to visit my redesigned website. Three winners of the drawing have already been contacted. Honestly, I'm the biggest winner. Your feedback was outstanding. I'm still in the process of working through changes. Feedback like this is essential to the creative process. In other words, how are you experiencing what I'm putting out there. That's the challenge, especially in writing. I don't have your perspective when I write. So feedback is always a critical part of the process.

In other words, I need you.

So thanks for taking the time and staying with me. There's new work on the way. Just scroll down a few inches and you'll see what I'm talking about.

This multi-author, fantasy boxed set just popped.

Included is Claus: Legend of the Fat Man. So if you haven't read it, here's your chance to score it along with 9 other authors.

From gods and their games to the games that make gods, Storms of Fate and Fury promises and non-stop delivers with thrilling adventure and deeply lush romance.

This critically curated anthology from award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors uses cutting-edge augmented reality to bring stories vividly to life. Explore artwork, maps, and exclusive bonus content that keep the magic alive long after the tale is told.


Friday, April 20, 2018

The New Look

I became obsessed with redesigning the website. I blame video gaming.

I don't game anymore because there's other things to do, but I've spent many o' hours unblinking and sleepless in front of God of War. I'd finish a level at 2 in the morning and just peek at the level, you know, just to see what it was like. Next thing it's 4 in the morning and I still haven't blinked. And that was on a work night. That's what it's like to be a grown up child. The website redesign wasn't that bad--I did blink and did go to bed--but nothing else was got done until it was finished.

Now I need you.

Brandon Sanderson's website is what got me thinking. I started reading Sanderson's Mistborn. Dude is a prolific writer with ratings like I've never seen. Over 260,000 Goodreads reviews on Mistborn alone. That is redonk. More about Brandon another time.

What I liked most about his website was a section on where to start. He has so many books that it's mind-boggling. I don't have near as many, but I found the suggestions helpful for new readers with what book to begin and why. So I need your feedback on what I've done. Take a look at the website and give me your thoughts. There's a little something in it, you know, for the effort.

A giveaway.

I'll draw 3 names from all participants. Each winner will receive a free download of any of my works. Name it and it's yours. Here's what you do.
1. Go to the website (below)
2. View the website
3. A link at the bottom of the homepage will take you to a short survey
4. Fill it out and my gratitude is yours to keep