Tag Archives: Autobiography

My Story Can Finally Be Told

One of my favorite things about writing, blogging, and putting it out there is what comes back to you. Sometimes you have to wait for a while, but it can be pure amazeballs when it arrives.

Case in point: The passage you will find below. In the week of my new book’s launch, I put out some all-calls to Facebook land — the usually shameless self-promotion that the indie author/artist/musician must do to survive in a world drowning in content and voices.

A former military badass friend of mine (and former student as well) took the time to reveal what he had learned about me from his time as an agent of a shadow organization. I am convinced he knows real-life ninjas and a few mind-blowing secrets that will most certainly die with him. So yeah, he’s kinda scary. Don’t mess with him.

I present his full post, which for the first time anywhere, tells the true story of how I entered the world and I how I will conquer it. Also, it shows me that this kid has some writing chops. I fully plan to drag him into the Bizarro world. I hope he’s ready.

From the mobile phone of Nick E. —

Tom Lucas is more than just a man. He is a demi-god. There are tales about Tom Lucas… Legends. Myths. Wikipedia pages. Here is just some of what I’ve gathered:

In December, many years ago, Tom Lucas shot right out of the womb with the furious speed of a 12-gauge shotgun, blasting into the chest of the doctor, who died on impact. Breast milk was unable to nourish this monster of a baby, who had the body of a midget on horse steroids, with enormous muscles covering his entire physique, including a twelve pack for an abdomen, and bowling balls for biceps. No, instead of milk, this hell spawn of a child required bottles of scotch, cartons of Marlboro Reds, and pounds of bacon to remain well nourished. He would only breastfeed for fun, on other children’s mothers. Tom Lucas lost his virginity before his father. To this day, scientists are still trying to understand this phenomenon. Currently, the most widely accepted theory within the scientific community involves time travel, however the mystery remains unsolved.

In 2001, Tom Lucas, or Disco-TomFoolery, as his techno-biker gang knew him as, pulled off the largest heist in United States history when he stole the entire Detroit Lions football stadium, the Silverdome, and hid it in his garage for a year, forcing the Lions to move to Ford Field to play their games. After a year of partying and cocaine-fueled orgies, Disco-Tom grew tired of the Silverdome, and returned it to its original location. While returning it though, the Detroit Police Department busted him, and he was thrown in jail for 5 years.

During his five-year sentence in the Detroit maximum-security prison known as “Oprah’s Wormhole”, Disco-Tom taught himself how to read and write, with his eyes closed. Using his minds eye, he began to master the art of the written word, and begun crafting novels by using telekinesis to move the pen across the paper. His penmanship was flawless, like a teenage girl on Adderall, and his words and the stories he told were so epic that Shakespeare farted in his grave. Witnesses claim that the fart smelled of roses and romance.

In 2005, Tom was released from “Oprah’s Wormhole” due to good behavior, although historians argue that Lucas perhaps used a Jedi Mind trick to bend the will of the Parole Board.

Tom Lucas became a teacher, and then began publishing novels, the very same novels that he came up with in prison. Leather to the Corinthians was so critically acclaimed that it won an Oscar award, Grammy award, Emmy award, Golden Globe award, Tony award, Academy award, MTV Music award, Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award, The Medal Of Honor, and the Nobel Peace Price, and Pulitzer Prize for the category of “Best Fucking Thing Ever, Holy Shit, Buy This Now” category.

So there you have it folks. Tom Lucas. The man, the myth, the legend, the cliché, the overused phrase. Many deny these legends and myths as lies, fabrications, or something I just came up with right now out of boredom. But others know the truth. Do you believe?

Like = You Believe!
Share = You KNOW!
Comment = You commented!

My dad says if we get enough likes, he’ll buy me Jupiter for my birthday, so please share and like, and Bill Gates will give you $1000, and I just won the lottery so If I reach 50 comments, then all 50 commenters will get $10,000!!! Guys, you can’t make this sort of stuff up, this is the truth. Read the Facebook terms of use. The third Facebook Commandment states “thou shalt not troll.”

Wow, I can’t believe I wrote all this crap. I can’t believe YOU read all this crap. uhm yeah, so that’s the end of my post. Special thanks to Morgan Freeman for narrating everything, and Depeche Mode for the original soundtrack.

That’s it folks. I’m done. Can you believe I did this all on my phone? I am NOT going back to proofread, so sorry for errors.

GO BUY HIS BOOK!

Damn. This was just too good not to share. Right?

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The Indignity of Falling

It’s kind of hard to admit this
But I did something stupid
It wasn’t the last stupid thing I have done
But it was perhaps the greatest

I was at a party
Downtown, in a warehouse
Old slaughterhouse turned hipster
I was bored so I wandered

Up and up.

Seven stories until the roof.

A spectacular evening.

Detroit skyline.

Blinking and pretty.

The false warmth of
Many drinks made me feel quite cozy

Night sky, stars, the manufactured beauty
Glass and concrete creations
I thought it was all quite special
Pardon my precocious sentimentality

Took a few steps around a water tower
One step too many I’m afraid
Found myself gripping the edge of the roof
Thought I might die hard

Slipping fingers and thoughts to instinct
And down I went ass first, head second
To the fifth floor, my good sir
No stops in-between

There I lay, half-in-a-stupor
Facepalming just thinking about it
By the providence of the greater
I landed on a second roof instead of the street

Then the waiting, the hallucinating
The worry, the piss, the dehydration
The hunger, the pain, the shame
Broken hip couldn’t move no one knew

Took nearly two days for them to find me
I was a complete wreck a damned fool
Fractured bones and ego but happy
For a stretcher ride out of the shit

8 days in the hospital
10 weeks on crutches
15 years of head shaking
It’s been a while but I don’t forget

I dodged a bullet
I was spared for what purpose I
Might never know for sure
But I recognize the gift

One day my number will be called
Ticket punched and all that
A lovely service then
The trash heap

And there I will be watching
All of the events of my life
With the big bearded guy keeping
His finger on the rewind button

He’s going to want to watch this particular
Highlight more than a few times
And I will have no choice but to sit
Patiently waiting

While God laughs his ass off.

Photo Credit: bruckerrlb via Compfight cc

Book Review: The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons And Growing Up Strange

The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons And Growing Up StrangeThe Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons And Growing Up Strange by Mark Barrowcliffe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What attracted me about Mark’s book was the the subtitle: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange. That and the local library had placed it prominently on a table marked “Nerds.” I attempted to dodge the demographic tractor beam, but I failed the roll.

In the late 70s, I discovered two wonderful universes: Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons. I was solidly hooked by both. I spent my childhood through teen years gaming — first fantasy, then sci-fi, superheroes, horror, humor…there was no genre I wasn’t willing to explore. I cherish those years — gaming carried me through a respectably angst-filled youth and more importantly, fostered my love for STORY.

Eventually time, responsibility, and relationships pulled me away from exploring dank dungeons and far-flung alien worlds, but I regret not a minute of it.

Barrowcliffe doesn’t feel the same way. At least that’s how the first and last chapters read. The middle has many moments where he shows that regardless of how he may feel about his gaming days, there’s still a love/obsession there.

I will give him credit, he comes out in the first chapter and clearly states that all the time he spent gaming was a waste of time. He takes us through his experience of growing up in Coventry as a highly annoying and strange boy with poor self-identity and a penchant for expressing himself in a ridiculous manner at all times. He was socially awkward, easily influenced, and searched for something to put his energy into. That turned out to be D&D.

There’s a love/hate thing going on throughout the book — his love and hate for gaming and himself. Neither conflict feels truly resolved, and by the end of the book, I had the distinct feeling that he still doesn’t know his place in the universe. BAD CLERIC. Make a savings throw vs. existential crisis.

He’s not that much kinder to anyone else in the book either. Most of his fellow gamers are portrayed as bullies and beasts. There’s one friend who is clearly a cut above the rest, but in an exercise in poor decision making, he lets him go. As he shares his experiences with his “friends” it becomes painfully clear that his developing adolescent personality caused all around him to suffer. Then again, they just might have been jerks in their own right. Youth is cruelty. He damages his friendships through a subtle blend of immaturity and people pleasing.

Conflicted, he seems to blame gaming for putting him on the path of weirdness, but if it wasn’t gaming it would have been something else. It’s not a love letter to gaming, which was actually why I picked up the book.

That being said, I couldn’t put the book down. I tore through it in two days. He has a fantastic skill for bringing his memories to life and highlighting the drama of the mundane. As he threw more and more dirt on his D&D past, I enjoyed reading all the more. Curious and powerful storytelling talent, Mark has. The book took me back to my gaming years and I spent several days after reading the book considering my own search for identity and escape and how gaming gave much of that to me.

I’ve also wondered if it is a book that I would gift to my fellow aging or retired gaming. I think many would be put off by the opening chapter and the “wash my hands of all this” feeling you get at the end. My original review of this book referred to the author as a dillweed and a jerk, because I felt somewhat betrayed by his summation the role of gaming in his life. My guess is that upon reading the book. others would feel the same way. After thinking about it for a bit, I have turned the knobs slightly on how I feel about the book. It gave me pause, and a week of post-reading reflection. Not many things do that to me these days.

And in the spirit of due diligence, I did find a comment of Barrowcliffe’s on his YouTube page:

“I agree I was overly harsh in the first chapter of the book. It was written much after the rest of the book as a sort of ‘why should I read this?’ for the general reader. In retrospect the tone of that first chapter was much more down on D&D than I’d intended.”

I’m not sure if he’s just trying to CYA with that comment. Hard to tell. I wonder what he thinks about World of Warcraft? There’s some true damn fools in that game. I played for two years and experienced the full range of generosity, kindness, pettiness and expert level jackassedness.

Four stars because I couldn’t put the book down. Normally, that would make it a five star for me, but minus one star for the conflicted message.

View all my reviews

The Greatest Novel That Never Was

Flashback Fridays! Hope you had a great week. No complaints on my end.

So here’s the back-story on this week’s post. Years ago, I was an Editor/Writer for The South End, Wayne State University’s student newspaper. Unlike many college papers, ours was a M-F daily. As the Entertainment Editor, I had a small staff of writers and a daily quota to fill.

My writers always delivered. I am still very proud of the staff I put together. However, on this particularly freezing February day, I found myself in a bind. It was 3pm (deadline time) and I didn’t have any stories to run. So…without much thought for ethics, I decided to write up a book review/author spotlight for a book and author that didn’t exist. I just wrote a feature about a book that I would love to read. I think at the time I may have just finished reading Naked Lunch for the first time.

Looking back at this article, I am amused by the fact that some of the fictitious novel’s qualities can be found in my own novel. At the time, I had no plans for a book. Perhaps a subconscious message sent to my future self? Not sure. The pen name on the article…Stanczyk was a famous Polish court jester. I’ve since used the title and some of the names for other writing projects.

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Introducing Flashback Fridays!

Hey folks,

Hard to believe it’s almost the end of April. I’ve been so busy (in a good way) that I haven’t noticed the days flying off the old wall calendar. In fact, I have just realized that I have been blogging for just over a year now. How could I forget my own blogiversary? Bad blogger!

A wise woman once told me that the only way to get through the daily grind was to have good things planned in the future. That way, you always have something to look forward to. Since hearing that, I have always tried to keep something on the horizon so I don’t get pissed off all the time.

I’m excited for the upcoming months. The course I teach is coming into its prime. I am wrapping up my initial marketing plan for Leather (soon to be on maintenance mode), and I have started my research and planning for my next novel. It’s a ghost story set in St. Augustine, so I have a trip or two to take. Also, I am dipping my toe into some copy writing to help put a bit more cheddar on the table. I’m cocked and ready to rock.

On the blog front, I will be keeping my sanity by trying to focus on three major topics for posts:

  • The process of researching and writing my next novel.
  • Presenting a cooperative/competitive poetry project with one of my oldest friends (and one hell of a writer).
  • Bringing new light to old and very old work (welcome to Flashback Fridays).

As this is Friday, you can safely assume that it’s time for a Flashback!

I have been writing all my life, and one thing I have managed to do…inexplicably…is hold on to every notebook, every scrap, every note. I’ve lost pretty much everything else thanks to moving a million times, a tornado, and a flooded basement. However, I have held on to my words. I’m currently going through old notebooks, and I will be bringing out writings that have never been presented publicly. The words have just been sitting in stasis. It’s time to wake them up.

For the most part, I am presenting the raw material. Maybe a tiny tweak or two. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. Many of the pieces I will post are probably terrible. However, I think there is a truth in putting it out there. I have also found that since I started blogging some of my most trivial words have registered more deeply with some readers than those that I have broken my back to craft. And, for those of you that are fellow writers, I think you know all about the struggle to find your voice. Ok, this is true for any creative type. As I bring out the old words for a nice stretch, I consider it a chance to see where I have been, what’s changed, and what I may have forgotten was important. I’m hoping that through this process, I will learn more about myself and continue to grow as a writer. I’m sure there’s going to be some clunkers, some rough gems, and perhaps a golden bird or two. Should be interesting. Even more interesting to me is that half of the material I have found I don’t even remember writing. Wow.

Here’s the first Flashback Friday offering. My guess is that I was about 20 when I wrote this. I think I was focused on the need for control over my personal life.

 

Fate Determines

The one to which all eyes turn

Opposed or loved

It has happened

The past comes to haunt

The masses will have you

Until they determine

Your time is up.

 

Be the representation

Abandon your wishes

For the good of the dumb

And the evil of the knowing

 

Avatar

God UNhuman

Myth as man

Figurehead

Funnel of blame

Walking faith

 

Live as the temple that breathes

Until they tear your bricks to the ground.

 

A Thunderous Conclusion.

brainSo, I think I broke my brain. I am currently working to fix it.

Over the past four months since I indie-pubbed my first novel, Leather to the Corinthians, I have been spending considerable energy using social media (read: all my free time) to market and promote the book. Prior to its release, I had done a sizable amount of research and created a massive, multi-tabbed spreadsheet filled with competitions, communities, reviewers, Facebook Pages, distributors, and so on.

Prior to completing the novel (which in itself was an excruciatingly long process, some of which was documented on this blog), I spent a considerable amount of time learning how to publish the book (this was after many months of query letters and rejections), as well as hiring professionals to polish the manuscript, format the text, and illustrate the cover (money well spent). I read page after page in book, on websites, etc. I was consumed with figuring it out.

NOTE: I have an obsessive personality. I wasted two years playing World of Warcraft. Serious players spend as much time reading about the game and how to play it as they actually play it.

I had created a pressure situation. I knew I could spend years knocking on agent’s doors and submitting small pieces to lit mags. That’s one classic model of building a writing career, and it is advisable. It’s respectable. However, I’m 43 not 23 and I am feeling Father Time sitting on my chest.

Plus, I’m big on DIY and kind of Punk Rock in mindset.

I jammed my brain with information about writing and publishing. Perhaps too much. I knew I needed to get it out. It was driving me crazy. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with well-meaning indie authors squawking about their massively successful books (I am becoming more dubious as time goes on). I have made many, many trips to the post office to mail out books for review, and I sent requests to easily 10 times as many who never responded. I know it’s all a part of the process, but it’s exhausting.

It became clear to me that I had to flush my brain. Purge it of all the advice, all the thinking, the spreadsheets, the self-doubt, the endless patrol of my Amazon and Goodreads pages. (Why, that asshat gave me two stars!) Promoting the book had become more important than the writing.

NOT OK.

I realized it was time to move on and let the damn thing breathe. However I am a completist (you gamers know what I’m talking about) so I felt that I had to at least get through what was in front of me.

I had the last week off work and spent a few hours each day trying to get through what was left of the resources I had gathered. I still have a few to go, and the week has passed.

I am desperate to finish off my list, as I want to move on to my next novel. Plus, I want to drum up some freelance writing gigs (on top of my full-time job teaching) and I have been mulling another blog as well. I’m nuts.

About two weeks ago I came to the realization that I would never be able to tap into every possible writing community or resources. It’s a hydra of epic proportion. Each site leads me to another and another.

Deeper down the rabbit hole.

There are millions of words written about writing. There’s more writing about writing than actual writing. Everyone has advice to offer. Everyone has a service to sell. It is mind-numbingly endless.

I have seen total crap that is apparently very successful. Not many people post about lousy book sales or that their book sucks hairy nads. I have visited a bottomless pit of blogs containing long passages of nothingness, with a shitton of “likes” at the bottom. I have found talented people lost in the digital wilderness (hello, fellow traveler), so much more deserving of attention. I also see people that promote their book from morning to night. I am slightly envious of the time they have for such things, but it is also quite tedious.

I have witnessed much energy being expended. I wonder…

Is this just a bunch of writers trying to sell books to other writers? Is this working? Is this progressing the wondrous written word and the glory of reading? Have we entered a new age of literacy (cause that’s cool).

Or is this a bunch of monkeys humping a football? And if so, what is my monkey ranking? How are my stats? What’s my possession time?

typeI came to another conclusion. I could spend all my time promoting my single book (forever and ever) or I could do WHAT I SHOULD BE DOING – writing the next book, the next article, the next post, the next script, and the next blog. So, I am trying to wrap up this damn promotion thing.

Based on my calculations, I should be done with my list and unless something looks utterly amazing, I ain’t gonna bother. I have yet to really find a fellow writer with my sensibilities (read: weird), except for these Bizzarro writers up in Portland but I can’t figure out their scene. Maybe by making this decision I will miss the one opportunity that would change everything for me and I’ll miss it. I’m telling myself not to even consider that possibility.

I can’t. I’ll spend all my time thinking I missed something. I’m obsessive, remember?

So after much time and effort spent, I now truly understand that there is no road map to writing success.

If Leather is lighter fluid, I’m going to let it ooze through the cracks and maybe one day it will strike flame. I don’t need to be fabulously famous, I don’t need great wealth, but if my efforts lead to a day when I can spend half the day writing, and the other half connecting with people (notice that there’s no full-time job here) and still pull down a decent income, then I will feel satisfied on a daily fucking basis.

Hear me universe! I declare that this will happen!

So another week or two and then that’s it. I’ll do a free e-book day here and there and probably give away a few books on Goodreads. Otherwise, it’s back the to the best part – writing. And poetry. And blogging.

And my next book…if anyone is interested, it’s a ghost story. This time I will be concentrating more on character and story, as opposed to structure and setting. It will be much less experimental in nature.

Love it or hate it, Leather was a bitch to write. A lot of pre-writing. A ton of research. I’m not quite ready to go back. But I will soon enough.

I’m going to knock this second novel out and then return to the weird world I created in Leather. I figure I’ll follow this pattern: weird book > marketable book > weird book > marketable book. Oh, and I have to build some time to do the submitting thing to various journals and sites. I need to spread my seeds of literary corruption.

As I work on my next book, I plan on blogging through the process as well. Many of you have told me that my documentation of the Leather writing process was inspirational. Laugh all you want, that’s what they told me.

Ok, I need a couple Advil.

Lucas out.

Photo Credit: “lapolab” via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Olivander via Compfight cc

I Almost Died A Lot

When I was very small
My mother took me to the lake
Out I floated, inflatable raft
Then I slipped.

I didn’t know how to swim
And down I went. Once. Twice. A third time.
Thrice is a bit much.

But she dragged me to shore.

A few years later, away at camp
In the bitter winter, I ventured a lonely lake
I chose to walk on the ice
After school specials be damned

Through the ice I went
No one to see me

Somehow I pulled myself out (some movie taught me how to do it)

In college, headed to a party
Everyone loaded and laughing
Especially the driver, what a punk
He flipped the damn car at 90

Being drunk paid off
As I flopped out the window

Cut up, but I scraped by. I left a few pints behind.

Sitting at the bar, having a few
A downtown Detroit restaurant
Suddenly yelling, a gun
It was a robbery, hands in the air

Nobody move, he says
So some asshole moves. Thanks.

Gun goes off just past my shoulder

One night I found myself on a roof
Seven stories high, look at that skyline
It was night, and I was stupid
I fell off the back, should look when I am going
Only 60 feet, instead of 150

Broke a hip and my pride. Pride still hurts.
But survive I did

Later to be the punch line of jokes. Maybe you heard a few.

A year later, only a damn year
A violent storm, a tornado in fact
Tears through the house
I hid in the basement

Lost everything I owned
But a bag of clothes. That I had packed for the weekend. Convenient.

It was a close call.

Then there’s the time that fell after
I don’t care to share details
I can tell you that I
Made bad choices, the killing kind

Truly, it’s a miracle that I made it
If life were fair,

I’d be dead.

Two, maybe three times over.

If I were a cat (A Tom Cat), I’d be down to my
Last life. 9 of 9. (Rough calculation)
But I fear that it might be
Whittling away

Being nickel and dimed by fate
And age.

It’s a list of nonsense:
Late onset food allergies, hives
Teeth falling apart (I get cavities now)
Plantar fasciitis.

Now I got a goddamn podiatrist.

Hemacromatosis – big word, big boy.
(Hey! There’s a cyst in my liver. They tell me this happens all the time)

Other bullshit, and bullshit to be named later.

The slow death of minor inconveniences, maladies, risk factors, possibilities.
I think that my last life will be taken by a collection of annoyances.

A lazy hatchet splintering small chips until tree
Number 9
Falls over.

Photo Credit: [ henning ] via Compfight cc