I don’t hate you

If you’ve visited in the past few days, you probably think I have some irrational, uncontrollable hatred or animosity or something for Legacy Publishing aka the Big 6 or Traditional Publishing.

Granted, this rant and that bit of angry hoo-how would certainly give you that idea.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

I don’t HATE Traditional Publishing.

Really! I don’t!

Without them, I would have grown up without books. Without them, my imagination would have floundered. Without them, my creativity would have withered and died. Without them, I would not be who I am and where I am.

And, without them, there’d be no vanity press, no online publishing, no self-publishing via Amazon.

In fact, in many ways, Traditional Publishing is the parent of Self-Publishing.

A distant, unloving, hyper-critical, potentially abusive parent. But a parent nonetheless.

The anger I feel toward the Big 6 has more to do with their apparent attitude toward self-published authors than it does with who they are or how they operate, even, ostensibly, through surrogates. (cough) NY Times (cough)

Listen, it’s one thing to be rejected by a Publisher. Happens all the time. No big whoop.

It’s another thing to have those at the Big 6 not want you to publish PERIOD.

It seems like it’s no longer enough to ignore you outright or have an intern toss a rejection letter/email your way. Now they have to bludgeon, bloody, and belittle what’s becoming a strong cornerstone of an increasingly viable industry.

From questioning the quality of the work and the work ethic of the authors to throwing doubt on the veracity of the reviews, it looks as if Legacy Publishers are hell bent on destroying self-pubbed authors.

Why?

Is the royalty check I’m getting this week — my own version of “One small step for my bank account, one … giant leap for my bruised Writer’s ego” — really that much of a threat to their bottom line? Is the fact that ANYONE can publish and, therefore, the Big 6 no longer decides who does and doesn’t end up in Readers’ hands killing them that much? Do they so desperately need to be The Gatekeepers that they’ll stoop to staining the collective reputations of authors who, collectively, are hardly a threat to their more established Superstars?

Why? (I ask again)

Listen, I understood early on that what I write — my story about a haunted immortal desperate for redemption lacking vampires and werewolves and wizards and a clean, easy fit in the YA genre — wasn’t what New York was looking for. That’s why I didn’t submit it.

As I said in the Comments to this great Post over on Carl Purdon’s blog, I could spend years perfecting a query letter to land an agent and then try to get published — which could be several more years — OR I could self-publish and spend that time building an audience and writing more books.

That Legacy Publishers would seem to have a problem with that is, frankly, confusing.

That they’d apparently take fairly overt steps to diminish us is what angers me.

So, I don’t really have a problem with Traditional Publishers per se. As long as they let me do what I want to do, why would I?

All I ask is they give us self-publishers the same respect and allow us the chance to find our Readers.

At the end of the day, the Publishing World is a vast, endless ocean. I’m sure there’s room enough for everyone.

Isn’t there?

Lunch is on me

An Open Letter to the NY Times:

In a recent article — The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy by David Streitfeld –, you insinuate quite strongly that the 4- and 5-star reviews one finds for self-published authors on sites like Amazon cannot be trusted to accurately represent the work or the writer’s talent because there are companies out there that sell favorable reviews and, due to the possibility of a potential relationship between the Reviewer and the “Reviewee”, these reviews should be ignored or mistrusted.

Are there writers, like John Locke, who admit to purchasing reviews? Yes.

Do they perhaps help lift sales? Some would say yeah, they could.

Is this a well-known aspect of Marketing 101 that those at the Times are well aware of? Of course.

Does the fact that a company like this could exist and do business negate every single review a self-published author has ever gotten? It damn well shouldn’t.

Let me ask you this, NY Times:

How many times have your Reviewers had lunch with someone from a Big 6 Publisher right before receiving the free review copy of Star Author’s next book? Or even after a favorable review ran? How many times have your Reviewers received Thank You notes from Legacy Publishers for good reviews? Or birthday cards? Holiday cards? Phone calls? Gift baskets stuffed with expensive trinkets as a gesture of their appreciation?

How many times have those at the NY Times found themselves mingling at parties with those from Traditional Publishing? And how many NY Times Reviewers found their reviews edited by Higher Ups in order to cast a kinder, more ecstatic light on Star Author’s new opus?

More importantly, how many self-published books has the NY Times officially reviewed?

If none, why not?

If you’re going to write an article all but suggesting the reviews a self-published book receives should be discounted because of the potential for some kind of nefarious collusion between the Reviewer and the Reviewed, please be aware this may — and should — bring into question the veracity of your own Reviewers and the often cozy relationship you hold and have held for years with those obviously feeling most threatened by self-published authors: the Big 6.

So remember that the next time Mr. Publisher gulps down the last of his chardonnay, whips out his Black Amex, smiles, and says “Lunch is on me”.

Big 6 babies

Self-published authors are making gains. Ebooks are now a solid 20% of book sales on Amazon. Money is being made hand over fist and, let’s face it, it’s no longer flying by default into the pockets of Legacy Publishing.

And the Big 6 are now officially running scared.

How do I know?

Check out this article in today’s NY Times.

It’s about a company, now defunct, that sold glowing reviews to self-published authors including John Locke. And about how these glowing reviews drove sales even though the reviews were bought and paid for and written by people who admitted to having never read the book. And it’s sorta about how this is a common practice with self-published authors.

But it’s actually more than that. A lot more.

It’s really about the veracity of online reviews in general. And, more specifically, online reviews for self-published books.

So, that 5-star review your new release just got? The one from someone you don’t know and have never heard of? The one that, like, totally, completely made your week and lifted you out of your funk and drove you to write five more chapters for your next book?

The NY Times — which refuses to review self-published work, by the way — claims it was bought and paid for and not to be trusted. And so now potential readers will doubt it. And they should (says the Times).

How devastating could this be for self-pubbed authors like me? For people who DON’T use services like that — ’cause they do exist — because, frankly, self-pubbed authors like me don’t sell enough books to afford it?

Very.

It could be cataclysmic.

Needless to say there was no mention of the cozy relationship between Big Publishing and the NY Times. No doubting the veracity of the Times reviews for Big Name Author’s latest work. No questioning at all the quiet need for a publication like the Times to kneecap self-publishing by throwing doubt over one of the industry’s — not just self-publishing, but the INDUSTRY’S — most powerful marketing tools.

Nope, we self-pubbers evidently can’t get an honest review. They need to be purchased with cold, hard cash.

Well, fuck ‘em.

My Martuk has 14 reviews on Amazon, many of them 5-stars, that I treasure. A couple are from friends, a couple more are from beta readers, and a few more are from fellow authors. The rest are strangers. And ALL of them have read the book. If it’s someone I know, I refuse to let them offer anything unless they’ve read it cover-to-virtual-cover. Why? Because it’s a damn good book. I’m confident about that.

Wounded King has three reviews. One fellow author, one beta reader, one reviewer I don’t know. All read the book.

The Elder. No reviews. Not yet. It’s new.

That the NY Times now wants potential readers to look at that feedback and those thoughts with suspicion just sickens and infuriates me.

But it also tells me the Big 6 are scared. Really scared. And if all they’ve got are cheap tactics like this, they should be.

Now I’m off to work on the sequel to Martuk. Seems like the best way to piss ‘em off is to keep writing and self-publishing.

And to keep getting honest reviews from grateful Readers who will never be bought and paid for.

How to fuck up Twitter

Okay, I love La Twitter. Love it. Love joking around, reaching out, saying Hi, sending support and congrats and whatnot. Love that I’ve made some solid business connections and a few fairly good friends. Love that those I Follow are directors and producers and actors and dancers and writers and teachers and painters and sculptors and ordinary Joes and Jills who have a rollicking sense of humor. And I love that Twitter has the potential to be a very powerful marketing tool.

Do I Tweet excerpts to this blog? My new book? Interviews I give? Yes, yep, and hell yeah. Are they on constant rotation? God no. Do I actually get on and talk with people? OF COURSE! And that’s why Twitter has been such a success for me.

If you take a moment to dig beyond the black pixels on white and dive into the heart of what it COULD be, Twitter has a lot to offer IF it’s used smartly.

Smartly? Yeah.

Give me a sec while I pull on my Bitchy Britches …

What I hate — HATE — is having my TimeLine filled with Authors spamming me links to their books. “Riveting read”? I could care less. “Better than Clive Cussler”? Good for you. “Best book I’ve EVER read!”? Somehow I just don’t believe your Aunt Sally. “The next Stephen King”? Probably not.

Listen, I understand the desire to market. In the self-pubbing world, it’s an absolute necessity. How else will we find our audiences? But how effective will you be if your marketing degenerates into thoughtless bullshit that annoys your Followers and alienates potential Readers? Link after link after link quickly becomes a predictable, repetitive white noise and soon we find ourselves just … not … caring … anymore.

Okay, we got it. You wrote a book. Good for you! Congrats and good job! No, seriously. It ain’t easy, that’s for damn sure. Sacrifices were made, blood might have been spilled, tears certainly were shed. I have a book, too. A few, in fact, with more on the way. Books are not easy things to do.

Now, show me who you are! Why should I click your many links? Why should I buy your book? And why should I commit the time necessary to walk with you through your pages if I have no idea who you are and you evidently have NO interest in knowing who I am?

So listen up, Author:

Want to sell me a copy of your riveting read? Talk to me. Be a real person. Engage me when I Tweet you a congrats.

And DO NOT auto-DM me a “Thank You for Following” with a link to your opus and FB page when I decide to Follow Back. That’s a bit like staring at the ceiling before patting me on the back and then sticking your hand out for your $20.

Now, not all links are worthless trash. I discover A LOT of great articles and interviews via Twitter. That’s all well and good. I expect that kind of content from those particular Tweeps. These are people I’ve dealt with and enjoy. And of course people have schedules and can’t be on Twitter all day, so pre-scheduling Tweets is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

But what are you Tweeting?

I’m writing two books, one screenplay, and two plays. And that’s not counting the other three books I’m chapter mapping, the play I’m doing rewrites on, and the other screenplay I’m scene mapping. Oh, and the life I’m living. You know, dogs to play with, an Other Half to placate, family to love and/or argue with.

Twitter, for me, is like a mini-break. I get on, set the clock, give myself 15 minutes or so to absolutely annoy the shit outta people, and then, once that time is up, sign off with a “Gotta get to work on my WIP, Tweeps” and that’s it. Personal and to the point and I love it.

Maybe I’m a naive fool — definitely a strong possibility, kids –, but I kind of think of Twitter, sometimes, as a big book signing, minus the books to sign, of course. People approach me, like the link IN MY PROFILE (thank you), chat me up, we laugh, I answer their writing questions, we laugh some more, and, lo and behold, I find myself with a sale. Is that the goal? No, of course not. Buying my book never comes up nor should it. That’s not why I’m there. The goal is to make a connection and inject some enjoyment into my day. The sale is just a nice surprise and always gets a happy dance. Still.

And it didn’t come about because of a link in a Tweet or a snippet of a gushing review. It happened because, perhaps for only a brief time, I became a real person to them. I was no longer a name on a cover, but instead someone who took an interest in their writing, their career, their questions and confusion and doubts. Their successes, both big and small. It happened because I sincerely appreciated them taking a chance and reaching out to say “hey, I loved that excerpt on your blog. I’m a writer, too. Any thoughts?”

Oh yes. I have thoughts.

The best way to fuck up Twitter — or at least MY version of Twitter — is by hiding who you truly are behind a dizzying array of auto-Tweets. Choosing the easy path of pre-set automated links and gushing snippets and ALL CAPS urging me to BUY. Not caring enough about your potential readers to actually, you know, give a few minutes every now and then to put fingers to keyboard and say “Hey, what’s up?” and then actually reply to those who respond. Nothing turns off a reader more than Tweeting back a quick “Nothing much, Awesome Author with a Great Book. What are you up to?” and receiving nothing in return. I mean, really? How long does it take to type “Argh, working my butt off here!” or “LOL” or something?

Even three small letters is a hell of a lot better than condescending silence.

So, dazzle me not with empty Tweets riddled with hyperlinked blue. Dazzle me with who you are because that’s the person I’m going to find in your book, isn’t it? IF I buy it, that is.

And that, dear Writer, is up to you.

Does the cream really rise?

This fascinating article by Carl Purdon is worth a read. The Crib Notes version is his assertion that, although the market is awash in a sea of poorly written books by well-intentioned, ambitious self-pubbed authors (he used different words, but that’s the gist), the cream will rise to the top.

But is that true?

I’m not sure.

I think it could be, perhaps. Carl has several links to truly outstanding books that are fantastic reads and absolutely worthy of their success and subsequently high Amazon rankings. But there are other authors with equal success and equally high rankings that, in my opinion, aren’t very good.

In fact, in some cases, they’re embarrassingly bad.

So was their success because of their talent for writing? Were these books the cream that rose? Or was it more a matter of marketing prowess and the proclivity of people to follow the herd and buy what their friends are buying.

Well, in a world of Present Tense, dialogue tags, and one-dimensional characters, I’d say yeah, I think so.

If that is the case, where does that leave those with very, very good books, but little to no publicity, the absence of a platform, and very little blog support?

Dog paddling in a sea of drivel, I suppose.

But Carl makes another point in this article which I think could be the Unknown Author’s Saving Grace.

You see, the Big 6 are driven by marketing data. They know what’s selling, they track what’s selling, they’re obsessed with what’s selling and, being all about the Bottom Line, they focus exclusively on that. So, if you’re a huge fan of paranormal romance novels where a teenage girl is probably caught in some sort of love triangle with, I don’t know, a hottie Vampire and maybe a hunky Werewolf or something, well, you’ll find mountains of joy waiting for you at the New Release shelf in your local brick-and-mortar.

Or, as I call it, the Land of Interchangeable Voices Retelling Familiar Tales Already Told.

If you’re searching for writing with a strong unique voice and, oh, let’s say a story centered around a tortured Immortal seeking redemption and release, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Maybe here? (forgive the plug, but it is my blog)

In any case, it’s a good point to make. Self-pubbed authors — and I can only speak for myself, really — don’t follow the Flavor of the Month because oftentimes we’re so busy writing we don’t have time to track what the Flavor of the Month IS. We just write. We tell our stories, we create our worlds, and we put it out there trusting someone will share our passion and hear our voice.

And our voices ARE unique. They’re not tamed by marketing concerns, reined in by Projected Sales Goals, or shaped by Editors insisting we follow Rules. Our voices aren’t afraid of offending or gun-shy at the prospect of disappointing sales and a lifetime spent bundled in the bargain bin or paranoid by the loss of readers.

More often than not, there aren’t any readers to lose!

So we just write what drives us, allowing the characters to speak and live and stumble and sometimes die. We edit it, we shape it, we polish and package and format it. And then we publish it.

Circling back to the beginning, does the cream rise to the top? If you’re farmland milk fresh out of an udder, yeah. Given time.

If you’re a great story well told, I’m gonna roll the dice and say yes, too.

Given time.

Crimson tears

from my book, The Wounded King:

He took a breath, the words coming, swollen and thick and carried on the stench of impending death.

“Beyond the Veil, they suffer, brother. The King, my mother, the Darkness around them, trapping them. It waits for me. It’s here –”

“No,” I interrupted. “I’m here with you.”

“No, no,” he insisted. “Here in the Temple, in the palace, outside in the city, in the night, in the sky, in the air, the wind, the sun. In the dark.”

“You’re safe,” I assured him, my hand once more on his, the square cloth still on his eyes blinding him. “I’m here and you’re safe.”

He released me, pushing me away. His hands reached to remove the cloth.

He opened his eyes.

They were unseeing globes of wounded white.

He spoke, crimson tears staining his scarred and bloody cheeks as he blinked.

“The Darkness, it’s here with us.”

Behind me, the Old Man bowed, the rustle of his garments distracting me.

“It’s here,” my brother, the King, repeated, the wounded globes now closed.

I turned.

Eyes rimmed red, sallow skin the color of sun-bleached sand, holes where healthy teeth had been only hours ago, each heavy step a great effort, she approached.

Mother.

You really should know …

Jenn Nixon.

Oh, you should also know this is the first in what I hope will be a regular Feature, the chance to introduce you to bloggers and authors and otherwise incredibly cool people …

You really should know.

See? Title makes sense now, right? :)

There’ll be cool covers to look at, questions asked and answered, bios and blurbs (perhaps) and maybe excerpts and other offerings. Gonna try and make this memorable and fun.

And it begins …

First, the good stuff. Here’s a quick blurb about her book Lucky’s Charm:

To protect her family and find a killer, Felicia “Lucky” Fascino assumed her adoptive father’s identity and joined the network, an organization of moral assassins to finish the job he began. Eliminating the man responsible for murdering her mother has consumed her for the last five years. While keeping her Uncle Stephen and cousin Elizabeth at arm’s length, Lucky begins to feel the weight of her career choice and reclusive lifestyle. Then a chance encounter with an enigmatic hit man, during one of her jobs, turns into a provocative and dangerous affair. Distracted by the secret trysts with Kenji Zinn and mounting tension within her family, Lucky makes reckless mistakes that threaten her livelihood and almost claim her life.

And a bit about Jenn:

Jenn’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.

Jenn often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.

Want some links? You got ‘em!

Website: www.jennnixon.com
Facebook: facebook.com/JennNixonAuthor
Blog: www.jennafern.blogspot.com
Twitter: @jennnixon

How about a cool cover?

Boom! Here you go:

Pretty damn cool, right?

And, yeah, I got nosey and did a lil’ Q’n’A. Enjoy.

What do you do the minute after you type “The End”? Pop champagne? Take a deep breath? Go for a walk and think about edits?

Funny thing, I’ve never typed “The End”. I once had a thread on Facebook asking if other authors did. Some do all the time. Others do it occasionally, some like me never write “The End”. In a way, I never think of the story as having a final end. In most situations it’s a new beginning for someone. When I do finish a draft, I usually cheer to myself and sometimes eat a cookie. Then I tell everyone!

If you could write only one genre for the rest of your career, what would it be and why?

I’d say Romantic Suspense because it can be tame or spicy on the romance side and suspense covers the mystery and thriller genres I also love to write in.

A new author struggling through the writing of their first book comes up to you and asks for one, solid, non-cliché piece of advice. What do you say?

Learn the rules. There are many “rules” for writing fiction, some you can break and others you probably shouldn’t and others you can bend. Some of the rules like passive voice and show vs. tell are easily found online, many can be learned through working with an editor or being a part of a writer’s group, and other rules can only be learned by trial and error!

How important is it to have a blog? Do you find it makes a difference in how you write or how much you write?

I started my blog as a personal journal type diary. As I started writing with publication in mind, it turned into more of communication tool for me to connect with other people, share thoughts and opinions about things going on in the world. I still have that aspect to my blog but have expanded it even further by hosting other authors and artists pursing their dreams. I’m not sure if blogging has had an influence on my writing, I never thought about it to be honest. Something to ponder. ☺

Okay, the muse is on what feels like an endless coffee break, the words just aren’t there, and you’re going to pack it in for the day. So you’re going to kick back and read something instead. What is it? Any favorite author you turn to or favorite book that feels like a familiar, old friend?

If I’m not reading a book by a fellow author friend, I’m reading John Sanford or Lee Child. Right now they are my two favorite authors because they write about my favorite characters. I freely admit that I rarely re-read books, but I do save them all. I figure once I’m older and retired, I’ll revisit many of them.

What’s next? Any books, sequels, prequels, movie deals on the horizon?

I have the sequels to Lucky’s Charm complete and ready, sent Lucky’s Break the publisher! My Sci-Fi Romance MIND: The Beginning is in the editing stages with a sequel in the wings. Movie Deal…I hope one day in the future! That would be super. ☺

Thank you!!! (^~^)

Thanks for having me!!

‘Till next time, kids …

Welcome to Suckyville, population You

If you’re familiar with this blog, you already know my thoughts on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.

If you’re not, it’s boils down to my suspicion that for most writers walking the self-pub route hooking up with a traditional publisher doesn’t really make sense.

But what if I’m wrong?

I’m gonna do the Devil’s Advocate thing here and try to figure out why oh why I, a writer who still does a happy dance when he sells a book, would want to cuddle up NOW on that Publishing love seat with a Major. By the way, notice the singular “a” and the lack of an “s” on “book”? Yeah, Majors are knocking down my door, I tell ya.

Any-hoo, there are several reasons to consider a Major, some of which I might cover in future Posts.

The selling of film rights is my focus today.

I’m a screenwriter. I’m also lucky enough to have longtime friends who are neck deep in that world, be they actors, producers, directors, etc. I know the desperation Hollywood has for new source material and the lengths they’ll go to find it. And I also know what it’s like for writers who find their books being optioned into films.

In most cases, it really sucks.

Yeah. It sucks.

Once you’re past the initial excitement of a movie producer actually LOVING your work and being wined and dined by Big Names in LA and then signing a contract (!!!!!!!!) with Celebrity Superstars (OMG!) being bandied about as possible Leads and, of course, having to seriously consider those Oscar nods coming everyone’s way (deep breath), the process kinda goes downhill.

What?

Yep. Immediate hard left into Suckyville, population You.

Because the reality is it takes a … long … time … to … get … anything … done … in … Holly … wood.

Years.

Anne Rice’s book “Interview with a Vampire” was optioned by Paramount before it was published in 1976. They sat on it for ten years and did absolutely nothing. For ten years. Once the option expired, the Rights reverted back to her — smart move, Rice’s Attorney — and she took it to Lorimar Productions/Warner Bros. who scooped them up before flipping them to David Geffen a couple years later. Co-writing the script with the uncredited assistance of Neil Jordan, Rice finally got her film made in 1993/1994.

And it only took eighteen years. From the first selling of the Rights to Red Carpet Premiere, eighteen years.

You see? Forever.

But she’s a big fish. And, remember, she infamously had NO say on casting even if she is Anne f’ing Rice.

So, what’s it like for us?

Let me put it this way: make sure your contract gives you tickets to the Film Premiere.

Truth of the matter is, once you sign away the Rights, whoever’s brought in to adapt your work into a screenplay has license to change whatever they like at the Studio or Production Company’s behest. No longer OWNING the story or the characters as it pertains to the Film, all you, the Author, can do is sit back and watch. That’s if you’re lucky enough to be kept in the loop.

And it can get worse from there. I could write a thousand or more words about how Hollywood conveniently forgets you exist once you sign away your Rights with an excited flourish. Months and months going by without a word from anyone about anything as your new BFFs suddenly go all MIA.

Which brings me back to why oh why would we sign with a Major.

Their Legal Department could — COULD — walk you through this. Their lawyers might — MIGHT — have a good relationship with Studio A and perhaps you won’t get screwed too badly. And the Major has stood in this room a million times before (perhaps) whereas you, Newbie Author #54, are stuck doing the I-can’t-see-a-fucking-thing tango with a chair while searching for the light switch.

And let’s not forget the Major knows EVERYONE in Hollywood. You know where Julia Roberts lives, if this Map of Celebrity Homes is correct. (it’s not)

In other words, it’s still up to you to know what you can and can’t get and what you can and can’t ask for.

Reversion of Rights? Sole Separated Rights? Derivative Works and Passive Payments? How about Freezing your Reserve Rights? What Credit are you getting? Is there a Production Bonus? What’s the formula for Residuals? Will there be Box-Office Bonuses? Will you be attending screenings, festivals, premieres?

Granted, the above questions might be more from a screenwriter perspective. But that’s another question that should be on your mind: what access will you have to the screenwriting process? Will they even consider letting you anywhere near the script AT ALL to offer notes or thoughts or WTFs or you-gotta-be-kiddings?

You know, if you’re a screenwriter as well, try and negotiate the writing of a First Draft with two or three rewrites. I mean, hell, you’ll be one of many, many, many writers brought onboard to make this “perfect”, so you might as well stamp your stank on that puppy and hopefully line yourself up for a Written By credit.

Why the hell not?

What I’m trying to say is one of the pluses of signing with a Major is the hand-holding you might get should Hollywood come a’callin’.

But first you gotta write a book — preferably a series — Hollywood will want to buy and build a readership the Studios know without a doubt will put their butts in the seats in a movie theater.

And that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Oceans of blood

How about an excerpt from my book Martuk … The Holy?

Pen at rest, she sat back, looking at me, her fingers fondling the silk scarf tied beneath her chin.

I had stumbled upon her speaking in a bookstore on Boulevard Saint Germain. An American author and PhD, she had written a slender, earnest tome on ancient religion, a popular work weaving archaic beliefs and myths with those principles we hold in our modern world.

Intrigued, I stopped to listen. Learning of her second life as a psychologist, I requested her card.

And now here I sat, fighting the urge to lunge at her, lift her by her slender neck and slam her against the wall, the back of her skull smashing against the diploma, shards of glass raining to the floor.

Of ripping the expensive cloth protecting her tender flesh, tearing the skin between her breasts, cracking open her rib cage and stealing her heart, that feeble ball of cold, uncaring muscle. Void of compassion. Of understanding. The glistening lump now anemically beating in my monstrous red paw.

My fingers puncturing those delicate sockets above her nose to pluck out the slimy dark nuggets of judgment. Of disapproval. The fantasy of spiriting them from their safe little caves to roll about in my palm now obsessing me.

“I feel your frustration,” she lied, staining the white with more scribbling.

I suppressed the urge to smile.

“But it’s important to understand as much as I can,” she continued, her pen again at rest. “About you. Your experiences. Your life. From there we begin the real work of dealing with this feeling of powerlessness. With these dreams. Your nightmares.

“Your demons.”

The pen began its destruction of a new page, the first tossed aside and lying face down. Exhausted by the scratching, no doubt.

I shifted in my chair.

Demons, she said. I didn’t want to deal with demons. Demons were dangerous. I turned my back on demons long ago. That wasn’t me anymore.

“So, you can’t die,” she suddenly said.

“Yes. I mean, no, I can’t.”

“How so?”

“I just can’t.”

“Okay,” agreed She of the Hyperactive Pen, “you’re invincible.”

“Of course not. I didn’t say that. I’m just like you. Normal. Just normal, you know? Nothing special. I just can’t die.”

“Normal?”

“Yes.”

“Yet you claim immortality. Is that normal?” Her eyes glared at me from beneath a curtain of black bangs.

“How?” she then asked, her tone softening. “How did you achieve this immortality?”

Glimpses of an altar piercing the stars clouded my vision. The chanting of Priests. An unseen crowd cheering far below. Oceans of blood for everlasting life, an Old Woman whispered. Bloody footprints on polished stone. The cloying scent of decaying flesh and the splitting of blistered skin as it roasted under an unforgiving sun.

Lips kissing mine and linen dripping red. Weeping, lying, bleeding, dying, the blade in His hand as He straddled me, both of us lost in the roar of the Darkness.

No.

awesomeness … and then some

I’ve just discovered a blog I’m quickly becoming addicted to.

Not only is the writing sharp — the blogger is an Author with a capital A after all –, it’s also approachable, funny as hell, and smart as all get out.

So get on over there and take a look.

And tell Sir Howey I sent you.