Wednesday, October 16, 2013


So I've got 6 days off for the Eid holiday and I've already burned through 5 of them.  Seriously, where does the time go?  I've got a stack of grading to do, but for some reason I just can't be bothered.  That's the way it goes, I guess.

But it's not like I haven't been productive.  I've written about 100 pages in the last week, finishing a novel that I hope to get in production soon.  I'll keep the details to myself for now, but I will say it's a my first fantasy novel, taking place in a completely constructed world.  It's being read by some trusted friends and, once the editing is done, we'll see what can be done with it.

Other than that, not much to report.  Went into the mountains a few nights ago with a friend for a birthday/housewarming party, enjoyed a huge amount of awesome Lebanese cuisine with some very friendly people, and have been relaxing as much as I can.  I've also been listening to A LOT of folk metal.  Like, a lot.  Check out Finntroll and Korpiklaani if you haven't already.  You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013



I sleep and I dream. I am eighteen years old. Without any understanding of how or why I am there, I am on a white marble balcony, lying at an angle across a shallow dais beneath a huge movie screen.  Upon it plays a series of black and white images, casting everything in shifting shadows and gray and silver light. Beyond the balcony are a number of metal rods spanning the width of the huge room, level with the floor under the dais. Each rod is about five feet from the other. Seated on the rods are a number of people, who would be spectators to the film playing on the screen if not for the disturbing fact that they are each sitting with their backs to both it and me. They balance precariously on the rods, holding themselves in place, but it is not enough and some of them periodically lose their grip and plummet screaming into the abyss beneath them. There is no floor below, just empty blackness.

I am numb to all of this, aware but insensate as the screen above me flickers. While I lay there on the cold stone steps a woman approaches me, materializing like a cloud of smoke in the preternatural haze. She is naked, her pale body almost glowing in the light. Small and slender, her hips are curved and her breasts round, her hair short and dark. A pallid, spectral pixie that moves in an alien, inhuman manner. With small, curious footsteps she scurries towards me, her face blank in the shadows. She puts her hands on my shoulders and tries to clench her body close to mine, but I push her away, terrified to the very core of this woman’s touch. She is a harbinger, I realize, my flesh aware of the destruction that she brings with her. She kisses me, her lips cold as ice, and I try to cry out but my throat is frozen still. As the flatworm runs from the light, every cell in my body retreats from her, but my strength flags and eventually I give in to her embrace, the bizarre menagerie fading into a swirling mass of chaos as I feel her envelope me and pull me into oblivion.

Still locked in the dream, I awaken on the lawn outside of my house. It is morning and the sun is poking up over the horizon, bathing the world in blue-white. The grass is covered in white sand, and alongside me is the pale woman, lying on her stomach and facing away from me as I look around, uncertain. I feel sick and confused. I smell the sweet, nauseating stench of decay. Looking down, I see a writhing mass in her armpit. Looking closer, I can see a group of slugs collected there, suckling at her flesh, more in the manner of leeches. At the center of this group is one huge pinkish slug, pulsing with blood-red veins spread across its surface. Horrified, I turn the woman’s lithe body over onto her back and look at her face, as yet unknown to me. She is beautiful, young, with smooth cheeks and full, wet lips. Her eyes, however, are sunken pits of black, empty and desiccated holes devoid of life or human emotion. The scene loses focus at that point, carrying me on a wave of broken fantasy into the waking world. The images that have unfolded remain imprinted upon my brain, a confusing and unnerving series of events that will haunt me for several months.


I sleep and I dream. I am thirty-three years old. Sick with rage and disappointment I stand on the lawn outside the house that my family moved out of when I was nineteen. Behind me stands the pale woman, her naked body close to mine as she puts her hands on my shoulders. Without hesitation I turn and take her in my arms, welcoming the touch that I abhorred so many years ago. Her empty sockets stare at me and I push my lips to hers, my fingertips pressed into her waxy flesh. Beneath us our feet sink into the white sand, and as I give in to her desires I try desperately to remember what there is to return to in the meat and bone world. I smell the miasma of rotting flesh and I ignore it, unable to concentrate on anything else that would throw it into focus as being something other than normal.

The woman pulls her mouth from mine and whispers something in my ear. I do not know what it is. I cannot hear her words, only the musical hiss of her voice and the mocking sound of her laughter after she is finished. She smiles and bites into my earlobe, her teeth ripping through my skin. The sharp pain of the attack catapults me out of my sleep, hurling me shaking and cold into the world.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


“Opinion” is a word that gets thrown around way too often, lately.  As with many other things, there’s a broad sense of entitlement that comes with opinions; everyone has a right to theirs, therefore they should be allowed to express them at will, regardless of any consideration for anyone who might around.  “It’s just my opinion” has become the default defense when confronted by someone who takes exception, as if it can shield one from any sort of question.

It’s not that easy.  Opinions are different from facts.  “The door is made of wood” is a fact—either the door is or isn’t made of wood, so that statement is either a fact or an error.  If the door is made of plastic or metal, then “the door is made of wood” isn’t a fact or an opinion, it’s just plain wrong.  If it is made of wood, then the statement is a fact.  There it is, there’s nothing else to discuss on the matter, unless you want to get into the kind of wood and other deeper considerations, but the basic fact is the door IS made of wood, and there’s an end on it.

Opinions are subjective constructs.  They are based on a person’s perceptions and predispositions, which are shaped largely by their previous experiences.  Everything they’ve ever lived through has worked in some way to affect their opinions and, like all subjective considerations, there’s a lot that goes into making an opinion.  Therefore, opinions can be explored in ways that facts can’t.  Opinions give insight into the thought processes and psychology of the person giving them, whether they want them to or not.  Much of what goes into an opinion is unconscious, of course, but there should also be some conscious thought devoted to them.

That’s the key right there:  conscious thought.  If you haven’t bothered to think about your opinions, why should anyone else?  If you have thought about them, you should be prepared to defend them when someone asks you to.  You opened the door by giving it in the first place, so don’t go running behind the “it’s just my opinion” excuse.  Your opinions are not sacred writ, immune to the ravages of time or the world—they can change.  They’re subjective.  As you grow, they can shift and transform right along with you.  The opinions I had when I was 15 are not the same opinions I have at 38 (at least, not all of them).  Opinions are ideas and the best way to develop an idea is to discuss it with others, to take other ideas and help break down and re-forge it until it becomes something stronger and better.  We’ve all got something to learn.

Of course, there’s another consideration here.  Since everyone’s got them, no one person’s opinions are any more valid than anyone else’s.  Yes, you have the right to your opinion.  You even have the right to express it.  Keep in mind, however, that everyone else in the world has those same rights.  Also, we all have the right to completely ignore everyone else’s opinions.  So think about that the next time you want to spout off about something.  Maybe no one wants to hear your opinion.  If they do, you’d better be prepared to talk about it once someone calls you on what you’ve said.

If you’re not ready for that, maybe it’s better to keep your mouth shut, at least until you learn to engage your brain.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Now Available!

Hey everyone, Poison Spirit is now available from Aventura.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Teaching and Stuff

So here I am, sitting in the school library and trying to get students to find books for their term reading project.  Every term they are are required to choose a book, read it, and write a paper analyzing it for theme, character development, etc.  They have the entire term to complete the assignment and I'm fairly lenient in regards to choice, so it should be easy.  The intention is for students to develop a taste for reading and generally gain exposure to books, applying the lessons learned during class readings to their own choices of texts.

Like all assignments, some students respond better than others.  It's interesting to see how set in their ways teenagers can be, applying seemingly inflexible rules to their choices even though they have, by their own admissions, "not read many books."  I have one student, for example, who only wants to read autobiographies of famous footballers.  That's all well and good, but I think it's a shame that he's limiting himself to a rather specific genre.  Luckily, I was able to turn him onto Walter Dean Myers and, after reading the first chapter of Fallen Angels, he grudgingly admitted it was "pretty cool, actually."  You know, "actually," as any book that wasn't written by an overpaid athlete would, by default, suck. 

But it's all about the little victories.  Hopefully, he'll finish the book and be able to write about it.  Maybe it will open his eyes a little bit to what's out there.  Maybe it won't, but at least he tried.

In the end, that's all we can ask, really.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Poison Spirit, 2nd Edition!

Hey everyone, the new edition of Poison Spirit goes on sale this month!  You can find it here.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back in the Loop

So I haven't been around for a while.  There's a couple of reasons for that--first off, I finished my teaching certification and now live in Beirut, Lebanon, where I'm an English teacher at a private high school.  Suffice it to say, that's been a pretty big transition.  On top of that, there have been some personal issues and some issues with my last novel being available and so forth, all of which have been dealt with and are finished.

Now, onto the latest news.  First off, my novel The Wolf and the Bear is no longer available.  That's unfortunate, but it is what it is.  My experience with Trestle Press was...less than ideal, and let's leave it at that.

But that's not the end of things.  I have recently signed an agreement with the British outfit, Aventura eBooks, to publish my earlier novel, The Poison Spirit.  I'll have more news as things develop, but Aventura is an established outfit and I'm hoping everything goes well with this new arrangement.

Other than that, I'm working on A LOT of new projects, mostly in original worlds and so moving away from historical fiction, though I still have a strong interest in continuing the stories I've started.  We'll see where things go.

As for living in Beirut--well, that's an experience all its own.  It's a beautiful place, if conflicted, and stuck in a part of the world that is torn between several different ideologies.  Luckily, that has yet to affect me in any meaningful way.  My students are terrific and the school for which I'm working is great.  There's little flaws, obviously, but you're going to find them anywhere.  The positive is outweighing the negative for now and I'm hoping it stays that way.

More later!