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Boys that go bump in the night.

Published on August 6, 2010 by in Books, Fantasy

This handsome fellow is Gaueko, spirit of the night. If he finds you wandering his domain, he’ll warn you to return indoors until the sun rises. Any that doesn’t heed this advice is subject to Gaueko’s fury. The people of Basque Country, Spain, where Gaueko’s legend originates, say that he takes the form of a black wolfhound that walks upright. Naturally this harkens back to tales of werewolves, my favorite monster. I would love to write a werewolf novel, and have a story fleshed out in my mind, but first there’s editing to do.

I guess some writers might edit alongside writing new material, but I’m too eager to get the books I’ve already finished out there. Any hour that I’m writing could be used toward that goal, and so that’s what I do. I can’t wait to get caught up though. Getting back into my old habits after being gone so long isn’t easy, but I’m sure I’ll slide into soon. Speaking of creative enterprises, the art above is the work of Brian Shepp, who has done an entire series of deities and spirits. He even painted my man Manannan, which is how I found his site. You can check out Brian’s stunning work here and buy something if you’re rich. I know I would. Anyway, I love stuff like this. I’ve always had a fascination with the old gods, if not a ongoing relationship, and they feature heavily in my third novel. That one seems a million miles away, but some of these gods also make an appearance in The Cat in the Cradle, albeit in different guises. I wonder if anyone will recognize who they are?

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Thank You

Published on July 10, 2010 by in Random

My sincerest thanks to everyone for being so awesome and kind over the last few weeks. There’s a lot of love in this world, and that makes the hard times so much easier to bear.

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Those we carry with us

Published on June 27, 2010 by in Random

My dad died today. I think the reason that films so often portray the death process as being full of softly spoken final words, gentle tears, and the sad tickling of a piano, is that the truth is much too complicated to express. I’ve had such a strange mix of emotions this last week. There was relief at having reached my dad in time to see him again and despair at his condition. As his body deteriorated, I was disturbed by what we needed to do to keep him comfortable, but also filled with a sense of duty. Everything good and bad that my father had done in life was magnified in my mind, so there was forgiveness as well as happiness. There was also the fear of living life without my biggest safety net and the corner stone of our entire family. Toward the end there was anger at how drawn out the process had become, but mostly there was love.

Early this morning, during a groggy bowl of oatmeal, my mom rushed into the room and said that my dad was dying. I didn’t move. This had happened too often before. His breathing would stop and we would cry over him, both out of sorrow and relief, before my dad would start breathing again. A week ago, we were told he wouldn’t make it through the night, that no one in his condition could survive more than a day. And yet he did. More than once I had tried to convince myself to end his life for him and was thinking about doing just that when my mom interrupted my breakfast. Only when my oldest sister said my name with meaning did I push away from the table and rush into his room. When I got there, it was clear from the weak pulse in his neck that he was going.

He came back to us briefly, a statue come to life for the first time in days. Even the smallest movement felt gigantic; the clenching of his hands, the expression of effort on his face and his mouth opening and closing. And then he was gone. I didn’t cry. I’ve been mourning since we found out that his cancer was fatal, and I’d already done my share of crying during the week I helped take care of him. Hours later, I realized that the man I had seen die that morning, the one more helpless than an infant, was my father. Even though they looked nothing alike, this was the strong, loving man that had done everything possible to care for me and make me happy. The one that had accepted my every fault and forgiven me for countless stupidities. The man that held me when my favorite cat died, and wept because it hurt him to see me in such pain. As ridiculous as it sounds, it took me quite some time to connect the events of the last week with the rest of my father’s life. Only then did I cry, because he didn’t deserve such an ugly ending.

And yet the trying conditions of his final days made it so much easier to let go. My absolute certainty in the afterlife and in my dad’s continued existence are a tremendous comfort. I know with all of my heart that he is with people he loves, such as his mother. Strange to think that he once mourned her, as I do now, and that one day I’ll be with him again, just as he is with his mother now. It strikes me that mourning is mostly us feeling sorry for ourselves, crying at the idea of going without someone we love. I’m not sad that he’s gone because being here was painful for him. He’s okay now, and that makes me okay. We’ll all be okay in the end. I’ll miss him, but that’s a burden that feels more like an honor than anything else.

The weirdest thing about a loss like this is how life goes on. Despite feeling like a part of me is missing, I watch my favorite shows and joke with my family. I eat meals and I snack on cookies. I enjoy the sun, and busy myself with chores or my hobbies. Through all of this, I have my father in the back of my mind, his quirks and sayings, or the memories that we made together, and that’s how it will always be. I’ll never forget him.

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The State of Things

Published on June 16, 2010 by in Random

For those that don’t/can’t watch the video, my dad is succumbing to lung cancer. As of a couple of weeks ago he was still working and doing relatively fine. This turn of events was sudden, and with luck the end will be merciful in its speed. I’m flying home to be with my family now.

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Can Fantasy Be Sexy?

The fantasy genre has always been somewhat neutered romantically. Maybe it was just the authors I read growing up, but plots rarely culminated in the hero locking lips and dragging his girl of choice off into the sunset. The ease of small publishing has allowed all sorts of niche markets to thrive in modern times, but there is something to be said for puritan days gone by. Sexy is never sexier than when it’s unintentional, and in the past there have been a number of characters that oozed sex appeal, even if they were never intended to. Take Allanon from Terry Brooks’ Shannara series for instance, who was described as having an “imposing figure” with “strong hands” and a “dark face” with “deep-set eyes.” I don’t think Brooks was groping himself while writing Allanon, but he created a character that, underneath all those druid robes, was a brawny, hairy-chested bear of a man well suited for any magazine centerfold.

No doubt such romantically barren fantasy novels helped to usher in the era of slash fiction. Without every character being paired up with a wife, child, and white picket fence, readers were left free to imagine what couples they would most like to see. I suspect this is also the reason why Doctor Who has such a large gay following. Until recent years, the Doctor wasn’t tongue wrestling with anyone. Picturing a neutral hero in the sort of relationships you enjoy is much easier to do than with a flamboyantly heterosexual hero. Maybe that’s why fantasy novels held such sway over me when I was young.

Really though, I like it better these days. I prefer openly gay characters in books and no longer having to make up hot guy-on-guy romances. Besides those for my own stories of course. Speaking of which, I stumbled upon a rough sketch Andreas did of Tyjinn that didn’t make it in the novel or the art book. I’m not sure whose idea it was that Tyjinn should be wearing so little, but I approve. And speaking of sexy fantasy figures, if you name your favorite over on Reviews by Jessewave in the next couple of days, you can win a free print copy of The Cat in the Cradle. How sexy is that?

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eBooks are sexy!

Published on April 27, 2010 by in Books

The eeeelectronical version of The Cat in the Cradle is now up on Fictionwise as a multiformat release. This means you get every format an eBook lover could ever need for one low price. Personally, I’m a big believer in eBooks. The way young whippersnappers always fiddle with their phones convinces me that this will be the chosen format of the future, but many people I know refuse to make the change, usually citing the following reasons:

The smell and texture of paper. Sure, I like this too, but let’s face it, these sensations are only registered for the first few seconds of reading before the story becomes the full focus. No one presses their nose to the book and inhales after every sentence. Well, one guy does, but nobody likes him.

Having something to hold/put on the shelf. It’s not like eBooks exist in thin air. There’s still the reading device to be held and often only one hand is needed, even for page turning, which makes cuddling up with a book so much easier. As for all that shelf space you’ll be saving, buy some nice house plants or some classy art.

I wouldn’t like it. Have you tried? How do you read websites, emails, or text messages without looking at a screen? Yes, reading for long periods of time is different, but most of us surf the web for hours at a time. Newer eBook devices are more comfortable to look at than computers and cell phones too, reducing eye strain.

That last reason is the biggest obstacle. Most people aren’t too keen on trying something new, even though they like to pretend otherwise. I’m not worried about it though. The new generation is raised with a bottle in one hand, a cell phone in the other. It’s only a matter of time before eBooks become the standard format, and here are some of the benefits:

Is that a library in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a flight or in a waiting room and realizing that you hate the book you brought along. EBook readers can store every book you own, which makes switching titles a cinch. Moving day isn’t such a strain on the back either.

Free books! Just as mp3 players made it easier to access free music, so do eBook readers. Most publishing houses give free samples away to entice buyers, but this can also save you from buying a book you wouldn’t have enjoyed. No more reading in the aisle at your local book store. There are tons of free complete books out there as well, a surprising amount of them legal.

Save the planet! There’s a million reasons why we decimate the Earth’s forests on a daily basis. Taking books out of the equation is a great way of slowing that destruction down.

Make your stuff more useful. Hopping on the eBook wagon doesn’t require buying a pricey Kindle. Chances are you already own a capable device in the form of a cell phone, PDA, Laptop, etc. This is a great way of giving eBooks a try with little or no investment.

A pretty penny. EBook pricing is becoming very competitive, and while some publishers still have their heads up their asses, most eBooks cost a fraction of the print version.

The cool factor. You know that relative that still listens to records and cassettes and complains about music only being available on CD? Do you really want to become like them? Yeah, that’s right, I’m employing peer pressure.

Those are just a handful of the benefits. I do hope people will give eBooks a chance. Computers were once considered inaccessible or difficult, but just look how beneficial there are to us today. EBook are simply a wonderful extension of this. If you haven’t already, why not give them a try? You’ll never lose another bookmark again.

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