Sunday, October 27, 2013

I'm Not Like Everybody Else

What I should be doing in my blog is involving readers by asking questions and looking for feedback. What I should be doing is referencing what is hot in my particular genre at the moment so that people are attracted to my posts and come to associate my brand with other, more popular brands.

I can’t do that. To begin with, I’m really not sure what my genre is. Sure, when publishing my books, I was forced to choose where my books would be listed (they’re listed under horror and suspense in some form or another). But I don’t really care to be lumped into some great mass where each book is a slight shade different from all of the others, where the reader’s expectations are paramount. Nor do I like the idea that those who like sci-fi, mystery, or any other genre would necessarily be uninterested in anything I have to write. I like to think that what I write, no matter where it falls in the lists, has something universal to say.

But that is not the world we live in. Today, we have so much information that we must categorize it in some fashion. We must summarize everything so that we can get the bigger picture without fussing too much over the details. We are each the CEOs of our own business, none of us having the time to dig too deeply into the essential stuff of existence.

We are missing something as the result of this mindset. Those simplifications that are made are not made by us but by larger forces. Corporations and marketing departments determine the best way to present product in order to maximize sales. In allowing ourselves to accept the categorizations, we slowly forget to question the basic assumptions that created those categories. We surrender our ability to think in order to get through life more quickly, to do and consume more.

For me to reach the maximum amount of people, I must brand myself in such a manner that appeals to people’s uncritical responses. They must subconsciously form decisions about my book that will lure them onwards. All potential barriers, such as complex ideas or unpopular opinions, must be swept away in order to increase my appeal.

Again, I can’t do that. I’d like to think it was a moral choice, but the older I get the more I realize that I don’t have much choice in the matter. There is just something deep down inside of me that rebels at the concept, some sense of individuality. I am an individual and I hope to speak to other individuals. Or at least, we all have some aspect to us that is unique or uniquely human, and I wish to connect that aspect of myself to others. I want to believe that in truly being myself I can better understand and appreciate others, rather than believing I have to limit myself in order to fit in on a superficial level with similarly stunted people. I wish to believe…no, I DO believe that we can all be individuals and yet fit in with the world at large. More than that, I believe that we MUST be ourselves before we can truly find our place in the world, that the less afraid we are to be ourselves the more we are able to relate in a positive manner to others.

I’m sure what I’m saying has already been said better by others. I’m sure I’ve read similar sentiments in Mad Magazine or Erich Fromm’s The Sane Society. Nevertheless, I add my voice to those many who have said it before. I know it sounds contradictory to proclaim my individuality by placing myself in the company of others, but the truth is often a paradox. To discover one’s true voice is to discover that it has a natural harmony with those of others, that not by conforming but by being oneself does one find one’s place in the world. But really, I think the Kinks said it best:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

End of the Road Anthology

Amidst the turbulence of my life, I see I have forgotten to mention that I have had two stories accepted in an anthology of stories based around the theme: End of the Road. There are some truly talented (and successful!) writers included in this anthology and I feel privileged to have my name in the same book next to theirs. While I would prefer to tell you about the other stories in the book, there are too many for me to mention each of them. Therefore I will tell you briefly about my contributions to the End of the Road Anthology.

As is my normal method of writing, I was initially stumped on what kind of story I wanted to contribute to such a themed anthology. This then led to my mind (virtually) exploding with different ideas of what the end of the road might mean. Since I tend to gravitate towards the extreme, I naturally took the theme to mean death. But since I also tend to reject the obvious, I wanted to portray death in a way that might not really mean the end. So I split the difference and wrote two shorter stories instead of one long one. In what probably amounts to commercial suicide, I wrote one story with strong religious coloring (Waiting In Line), and the other spattered in blood red (The Last Hours Of Brandon Kratz). I guess I’m not real good at the whole branding thing. Actually, I like to think my writing can take many different aspects of life and roll them together into something larger. Hopefully that is what I can achieve in my novels.

The best part of this anthology is that it is absolutely free to anyone with an e-reader device. There is also a paperback available, which has been priced at the absolute lowest possible price. If you want to pick up a free or greatly reduced price sampler please check us out at Amazon or any other book distributer:

Again, thanks to those others who were involved in this anthology and were gracious enough to include me as one of them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Themes and Ideas in The Amazing Morse


I’ve wanted to have someone write a paper on my book, The Amazing Morse, but as that is not forthcoming, allow me to point out some of the themes and concepts which are in the novel.


The book begins with a man sitting in an office cubicle, reading a book of detention hardware as part of his work. He imagines the various pieces of hardware coming together and forming a prison cell around him, even as the cubicle walls form a sort of prison of their own, a prison of conformity to which he subjects himself.

There is a definite Hindu perspective to this. Man is cut off from the greater reality, each person separated from the greater universe. I jokingly refer to Sting’s The Soul Cages in my second book, and I think that is a fair comparison. But I think the idea of walls and square dividers work on many different levels. The intellect chops things up in to little pieces in order to be able to digest it. It places a grid over the real in order to treat the whole as individual pieces of data. But whatever the intellect experiences is an indirect experience. Our deepest truths are experienced directly, in a way words can never adequately explain. But the older we get, the more we become adults, the less most of us are able to perceive the world in a direct manner. We perceive things in an intellectual manner, see things for what they represent rather than what they are. We become many levels of abstraction away from the essential truth of things.

Dave Morse’s childhood dream was to be a magician. Because of his love of magic, and because of his desire to hold on to the dreams of his childhood, he is still able to see life through the eyes of a child. Therefore he does not fit in to the business world, a place where conformity of thought seems to rule the day. But while he is a magician, he is not an escape artist. A traumatic experience in his youth has left him with a fear of confinement. Thus he is a failure to himself. Unlike his hero, Houdini, he is unable to risk his life in daring escapes. He feels like a fraud, performing tricks and illusions rather than being a true performer. So while Dave has maintained the ideals of youth, he has failed to develop his adult capacity to live those ideals.

Dave sees his personal plight working itself all around him as well. While Dave sees work as a mass of square cubicles, he sees the neighborhood he grew up in as an endless row of almost identical houses, each only a minor variation from the other. Such an environment breeds conformity. Even the field that he and the other neighborhood kids used to play in has been built over and is now indistinguishable from all the other cubed and sliced up patches of sameness that is the suburbs. There is no place left to hide from the all-consuming conformity.

And yet there are some areas that seemed to resist the wave of prefab houses that are everywhere in the suburbs, places where older buildings already existed. In one such area, Dave encounters a psychic, who with a single touch does something strange and unexplainable to him.

He begins to have bad dreams, which push his ability to make sense of his life to the limit. He begins to realize what a tentative grasp on reality humans have. He cannot find intellectual answers to his problems. Again, the intellect is an ineffectual tool for understanding the world.

While Dave’s world unravels around him, he is pushed to make decisions which could ruin his life, or quite possibly, end the lives of others. He tries to be brave, but cannot bring himself to confront his fear of imprisonment. He settles on a compromise of his values, which almost leads to his undoing. But the seeds he sewed in his childhood have not been completely fruitless.

Dave learns that the world he lives in is far larger than any he has allowed himself to believe. He realizes most people live in a small world for fear of the larger, more dangerous one that exists. But in hiding from the dangers of the larger world, they also cut themselves off from the magic that exists. Most people live in a small world and so feel cut off from the real world. They perceive the stars through a telescope, see a world so vast that they feel like they are nothing. In living in a small world, they can pretend they are bigger than they are, but they are cutting themselves off from the truth, and the truth might just be beautiful. No matter how small a part we play, we are not outside observers. We are all part of that great big universe. If we live fully in the small space that is given us, we are playing our part in that vast and cosmic play. In truly being ourselves, rather than submitting ourselves to an artificial reality, we become one with everything.