I have been informed that it would behoove me to formally declare the following, just in case anyone who reads all the things is too stupid to figure this out on their own:

Anything I write, whether fiction or on social media, including but not limited to this blog, Facebook or Twitter, in no way represents the values and/or opinions of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Or Quebec. Definitely not Quebec.

I am, however, fully authorized to speak on behalf of the government of Papua, New Guinea. Our motto: Oh come on, we don’t eat everybody.


So I Published This Thing

Thought I’d take a minute and write about my novella, The Trail of the Beast, which I have published myself on Amazon as an eBook. I’m not here to promote it, necessarily, though it’s only $2.99 and worth every damn penny. No, I’m here to dispel some of the common myths about self-publishing and answer some questions I’ve been asked.

1. Why self-publish? Couldn’t you get it published the traditional way? Maybe I could, and maybe I couldn’t. I didn’t try, for several reasons. First, to get into one of the big, old publishing houses, you need an agent. You can’t just send them a manuscript and say, “This is good, give me money.” Maybe Stephen King can do that, but not some dude from Mississippi nobody’s ever heard of. And most agent’s aren’t looking for novellas, because the big publishing houses aren’t looking for novellas (Mine clocks in at just over 29,000 words. The length of a novel varies depending on who you ask, but at a very minimum a book needs 60K or more to be considered a novel.) When I do finish my novel, The Leaf, I may shop it around and try to play the game, but I figured this one was a non-starter on the traditional front. There are numerous small publishers, and I personally believe I could have gotten on with any of them, but as far as I can tell, outside of a small circle comprised mostly of other aspiring authors who want to get published, they don’t necessarily have that much influence anyway, so why should I give them a big chunk of the few sales I’m going to get? If I thought they could sell a few thousand copies for me, I’d sign on in a heartbeat, but I don’t really see that happening. And maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know.

2. So you really self-published because it’s crappy, right? Nope. I think it’s pretty good, and some people I trust agree with me. I’m hardly important enough for them to butter me up. Then again, I’m usually the largest person at my writing groups by far, so maybe they’re afraid I’ll beat them up. Buy it, and if you aren’t satisfied, I will fully tell you I’m sorry. You thought I was join go to say refund your money, didn’t you? As if.

3. Why not make it into a full novel? That would mean doubling the length, which would mean shoehorning new characters in, creating them from scratch. This started out as a short story, then grew and grew to the size it is now. I put a ton of time into creating the characters, then making sure all of them had unique (I hope) voices and making them feel real. I thought about adding more, making it longer, but I felt like that would risk getting repetitive, and churning out some bland characters. The story is as long as it needs to be. Any more would be faking it. If someone wants to offer me a book deal, I can damn sure fake another 30,000 words, but it’s going to cost them some money. Yes, I will sell out. Disney World ain’t cheap, my friends.

4. Why $2.99? Because it’s worth every damn penny, like I said. Also, Amazon pays 70% royalties on anything $2.99 and up. Anything under that, they only pay 35%. Plus, it’s worth every damn penny. If you buy it, I honestly believe you will like it and not regret spending that money. It will take you a couple of hours to read, a couple of hours you could have shelled out ten or twelve bucks to spend watching something truly awful at the movies, like Prometheus (still bitter about that one), or you could spend a pittance and have some fun with me.

5. Is it going to be available in print? I’m thinking about it. I would say no, it’s too short, but doesn’t Kevin Vaughan’s awesome cover art deserve to be seen on a bookshelf somewhere instead of remaining tucked away on your Kindle? So I’m thinking about it, for sure.

Let me leave you with this: “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut. Now I’m not one of these assholes who goes around all the time talking about “my art.” I’m a monkey throwing poop at a page and laughing like an idiot at what sticks. But I created something where there was nothing, and some people like it. That makes me happy. I have something in the world that came out of my brain. That’s neat. If you buy it, great. If you don’t, that’s okay. I have a job. A job I actually like part of the time, which is more than most people can say. My family stays fed, my kids get to go see the Mouse every few years, and they’ve seen almost every state east of the Mississippi. I just wanted to get it out there. So question #6 would be, why not offer it for free? I may love writing, but I ain’t stupid. And because it’s worth every damn penny.




Another Totally Real Conversation I Had – Retro Version

I don’t know why I suddenly remembered this the other night. Probably sleep deprivation. I thought I would share.

When I first got out of college I went to work for a minor league hockey team, the Mississippi Sea Wolves. Hockey was still relatively new to Biloxi, and Hurricane Katrina was still six years and change away from flooding their arena. I started as an intern, got hired on full time when my internship was up, then got hired to replace the Director of Public Relations the next season because a) her job wasn’t that hard and b) dumbass 22-year-old me was willing to work for a solid twelve grand a year less in salary.

At any rate, sometime that year or the next, maybe the secretary was out to lunch? I don’t know, but I had to answer the phone? And I answered it and this girl was on the other end? And I think she was a teenager because every sentence that came out of her mouth, she raised her voice at the end so it sounded she was asking a question? It went like this:

Me: Mississippi Sea Wolves.

Girl: Hi, do you know if the new team in Jackson has picked a name yet?

Me: Sure don’t.

Girl: Well, they had a naming contest? Do you know when they’ll be picking a winner?

Me: I wouldn’t have any idea.

Girl: Well, can you ask somebody?

Me: I wouldn’t know who to ask. That’s a totally separate team. Completely different organization.

Girl: Well we entered the contest, and we really want to know when they’re going to pick the winner?

Me: Well, I really don’t have any idea, because they’re in Jackson, and we’re in Biloxi. And we are a completely different team. No relation.

Girl: Well we were just wondering when they’re going to pick the winner, because we picked the name Jackson Ice Busters?

Me: Well, as I said… Wait a minute, did you say “we?” You mean it took more than one person to come up with “Ice Busters?”

Girl: …

Me: Well good luck with that. Bye-bye now.


World War Z Revisited

I’m talking about the God-awful movie here, not the excellent book, which you should totally read if you haven’t. I gave the film a second chance, and I regret it. Here is a list of my thoughts as I watched this pile of garbage:

(SPOILER ALERT – If you still haven’t seen this movie…don’t. Read this instead and you’ll know why not)

1. Brad Pitt’s character sure is the consummate professional He takes a pause in the middle of all the chaos to note how many seconds it takes a guy to turn after being bitten. Not that he knows he will turn into anything, because how could he? But twelve seconds, because…well, hell if I know.

2. These zombies must be very carefully nibbling on their victims, because there ain’t a drop of blood on that guy. Nowhere.

3. Given the high number of white people and the lack of any distinguishable foreign accents, I assumed this was America. But all hell’s breaking loose, and there are no gunshots? Not a single one? Not even a guy shooting up the Starbucks down the street? Talk about stretching the suspension of disbelief.

4. We can totally get away with the whole asthma kid drama, right? Nobody still remembers M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs,” right? Just like nobody remembers M. Night Shyamalan? Screw it, the kid has asthma. Action!

5. Oh shit, the car won’t start? What an original plot device. You know, come to think of it, from here on out, anybody using this in their movie should be dragged out and shot. Vote Crow, 2016.

6. Hey, the car started, but without any sense of drama surrounding it. Win?

7. A guy lets you in his home and gives you a beer, Brad Pitt, you could at least say “Thank you.” I don’t care if it’s Budweiser.

8. Newark falls, still not a drop of blood.

9. One “Quiet Please” sign could have saved all of Israel.

10. Yes, Brad Pitt, wherever you go, everyone dies. But without bleeding. Even that chick whose arm you cut off didn’t bleed. You can drop the F bomb once per PG-13 movie, but you can’t show a single drop of blood?

11. Couple of dried bloody scratches, and there’s…no, that’s just water dripping. Even the freaking chunk of shrapnel through his gut doesn’t bleed.

12. So they let him into their facility, patch him up, then don’t trust him at all. Why let him in in the first place? And could they not understand the girl’s accent enough to just ask her what was up over the course of three days?

13. They kicked his family off the ship the minute the plane went down? Thanks, Obama.

14. Yes, thank you, sir, for coming up with the most boring zombie movie resolution ever. We’ll just hide from the zombies. Great.

15. Oh no, the old crowbar stuck in the zombie trick. Whatever is going to happen?

16. You can’t punch a number in a keypad while holding your crowbar? It must have been slick from all that zombie goop on it. Wait, nope. None of that either.

17. And the ending, bringing to a boring close the most expensive and worst zombie movie ever. Okay, maybe not the worst ever, but they should be ashamed of themselves for getting an A-lister like Brad Pitt and still making such a terrible heap of crap.

Could you at least try to use something besides the name of the book you’re basing your movie on?


This Totally Real Conversation

I am absolutely not making this up. I stopped for coffee at the Pilot on Centennial just now. Just making small talk, I said hello to this old man on the way in, and he said hello back. I got my coffee. On the way back out, he was scratching off a lotto ticket. The following conversation ensued:

Me: Didja win?
Old man: Naw. Broke my false teeth.
Me: Huh?
Old man: Fell off the damn counter while I was in the shower. Broke. Now I have to gum food all weekend.
Me: Bummer.

That’ll teach me to be friendly to old people. I guess at some point you lose the filter that tells you what constitutes appropriate convenience store small talk.


Writing Process Blog Tour

First I would like to thank Ms. Jadah McCoy, aka The Query Faerie, for including me in this. Check out her blog for all you need to know about writing strong query letters. I’ll also happily tell you to check out her novel if she ever finishes it. She’s really good. You can follow her on Twitter as well.


NOTE: This is not a writing blog, it is a blog dedicated to general stupidity. I promise to follow the theme and make this generally stupid.


1)     What am I working on?

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my novella, On the Trail of the Beast, which is a sort of oral history of a supernatural encounter in rural Middle Tennessee. I’m hoping to make it available for Kindle this summer. I’m also a little over halfway through with the second draft of my first novel, The Leaf, which tells the story of four friends from Petal, Mississippi who build a raft and set out for the Gulf of Mexico. Things go horribly wrong when the party runs afoul of the river’s oldest traveler. I also have five or six or seven short stories in various stages, including a series I’m writing under the theme “This Zombie Apocalypse is Tough on Everybody,” which features various off-beat survivors in the era of Mortuus Sapiens. For example, the last rough draft I’ve finished is the tale of a werewolf worried what might happen to him if he eats a zombie when he changes. It’s very deep and philosophical. Not really, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.


2)    How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think, and others have said this, that my stories all have a strong southern flair. I was born and grew up in South Mississippi, just across the state line from Louisiana and about forty-five minutes from New Orleans, and I’ve spent my share of time in Alabama and Florida as well before moving way, way up north to…Nashville. My Deep South credentials are unassailable. One thing that bothers me is when people from up north (really up north) try to write about the South. Even Stephen King, arguably the greatest horror author of all time, has used “y’all” as a singular pronoun. Please. So if you’re from north of the Mason-Dixon and haven’t spent a significant amount of time down here, I’ll make you a deal: you don’t write about “y’all,” boiled peanuts, sweet tea, grits, alligators and other things you can’t know much about, like college football, and I won’t write about ice fishing.


3)   Why do I write what I write?

Short answer: because it makes me happy. “Malevolent glee” is how I would describe the feeling I get when things are going horribly wrong for the characters on the page. Long answer: I would probably need to be psychoanalyzed to figure out why it appeals to me the way it does. I want people to read my work and cover their mouth while going, “Oh my God!” But I want them to keep reading to the bitter, bloody end as well. Why? I DON’T KNOW! Because it makes me happy.


4) How does your writing process work?”

If only I had a writing process. When I first got tagged for this, I told Jadah my writing process was: 1. Booze, 2. Brilliance!, 3. Regret and self-doubt. I come up with story ideas, usually when I should be sleeping, and I try to make a note, often just a text to myself, before falling back asleep or getting back to work at my paying job. Then while I should be thinking about other things, my mind goes to work polishing that little nugget until something like a story outline, or at least a vague plot arc, shines through the dirt. I’m a terrible outliner, by the way. I know people who keep journals and write down details and have story boards on their walls. That’s awesome. I have notes at the bottom of the story I’m writing of things I want to happen. That’s as far as my outline goes. The rest is running that little lump of coal through the mill until out comes a polished, shining blood diamond. (I’m also not great with metaphors.) So at least when I sit down at the computer, preferably accompanied by some iced beverage for proper lubrication, I have an idea where I’m going with it. Also, loud music helps. Some people make playlists, but I keep my iTunes on shuffle. I like the randomness, and sometimes the wrong song at the right time can pull a story into an entirely different direction. Then it’s edit, rinse, repeat, and share it with some friends who like to point out flaws. And once I come to terms with the fact that I will never, ever, be completely happy with what I’ve written…then it’s finished.


And now I’m supposed to tag three other authors with blogs. The problem is I don’t know three other authors with blogs well enough, at least not three that haven’t already done this. And I forgot to ask Kim Justice if he would even want to do this, but I’m tagging him anyway. Kim is the finest science fiction writer I know, and a bit of a perfectionist. He has a story in here with me. A much better story than mine, which is just a lot of f-bombs and chicanery. If anybody has a blog and wants to be tagged, I can always update this later.


The Great Un-Following

Enough already. Stop. If I’m friends with you on Facebook, it’s because I think you’re at least okay enough for me to be curious and maybe care a little about what is going on in your life. I did not become virtual friends with you so I could read the rehashed political shit you post all day long. Do you really think that reposting that clever blurb is going to make people suddenly sit up and say “Hey! The Democrats/Republicans really are assholes! All this time I’ve been wrong!” Or are you just trying to get “likes” from your like-minded friends to make you feel like you belong somewhere? I’d rather see pictures of your kids/dogs/what you’re having for dinner than one more pointless political attack. On anybody. If you really feel you must make your outrage known, at least write it yourself. Don’t post links. That’s just lazy.
Here’s an idea. Go out and make something. Create. Forget about all the shit your political parties and their corporate overlords shovel you, and do something to make the world a brighter place. Write a poem. Buy a child an ice cream cone. Live.
Now join me, starting today, and unfollow everyone in your newsfeed who reposts someone else’s political bullshit. Sooner or later they’ll just be posting it to themselves, caught in a tiny misinformation loop. And we can all go back to looking at pics of each other’s dogs. But not cats, because f that.