Most, not All

Posted: July 20, 2020 in Blog
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“All men are pigs.” “All women are bitches.” “All rich people are evil.” “All poor people are just criminals in training.”

We’ve heard it all. Or most of it. Haven’t we? And often the reply arises that not “all” of the selected category are that way. Most of us know someone that doesn’t fall under that stereotype. But what happens?

“Of course, I know all (x) are not (y). We all know that. You know I didn’t literally mean all, so stop trying to derail the issue!”

It is a detour, and it doesn’t benefit discussion, awareness, and change. I suppose we could all accept the rule that “all” doesn’t always mean “all”, but why? There are plenty of words out there that should accurately show the meaning. If you don’t mean “all”, why are you using that word?

Do you feel you are not able to properly convey your point without the word “all”? Do you not realize this is potentially hyperbole and almost certainly inaccurate? It’s easy to ignore hyperbole. It sounds propagandastic. 

Marginalizing the response that not “all” are (x) is dismissive. It is akin to holding up a hand or plugging your ears. Instead of trying to set up some predetermined script that 1. You didn’t literally mean “all”, and 2. Of course we “all” know you don’t mean “all”, then why not try something else?

Is the word “all” used in order to grab the attention? Is it used to help the point pack more punch? If so, and especially with the foreknowledge that it is inaccurate, then it is propaganda.

Try this:

  • most
  • nearly all
  • a vast majority of

Perhaps it may help your point if you sound more accurate, dare I say, even less alarming? Of course, if you’re not really trying to initiate awareness and change, it may not matter. If you’re just preaching to the choir, they may all listen. It’s possible.


Do you listen to music when you read or write? Do you like to have something going on in “the background”, or is it something particular to set a mood?

Personally, I am very particular about music when I read or write. When I read? Well, there is almost nothing suitable. Any music at all proves distracting, and I’ll soon realize I’ve gone through several pages and have no idea what I just read! When I was in college, I tried playing music when I’d study to hopefully make study more entertaining. Nope. I had to turn off the tunes.

I know some people enjoy having background music when they read, whether or not it fits the mood of what they’re reading. Some have told me that without the music they can’t concentrate. I am amazed by this. More power to you.

Reading to Music

When it comes to writing, I also generally choose silence over music. I have a similar dilemma where the music distracts me rather than helping. There are times, though, when I really want to set that mood, and the music can be inspiring.

Firstly, it has to have no lyrics or be on a very low volume. I wrote an early novel to a particular album that helped to inspire it. There were, of course, lyrics. In order to make it work, I had it set on such a low volume you might wonder if I heard it. I did. I needed it to bleed into my consciousness, sneak in and find a comfortable place.

I’ve also used instrumentals. If the music contains no lyrics, it works much better for me. I have written to the scores from the Hannibal t.v. series and even some select tracks from video game soundtracks I found that worked.

Hannibal OST

In the end, it seems that the use of music when reading and writing is as varied as we are. It reflects not only our personalities but our methods. I might use some music as writing background that I’d otherwise not ever listen to outside its original presentation. It’s carefully chosen to craft the feel. Isn’t that what music is? Something of a reflection?

What do you listen to when you read and write, if you listen to anything at all?


Please feel free to find me on Amazon and partake of my published works. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

Finding Music

Posted: January 21, 2020 in Blog
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I grew up in a household that wasn’t terribly focused on music. In a recent conversation with my mother, she mentioned how she and my dad loved showtunes and had the soundtracks of some of the more popular musicals. I asked her if they listened to them with we kids, and she, of course, said ‘no’. No particular reason why; it just didn’t happen. The radio was rarely on when we were around the house, even though we had a nice stereo that my father, the engineer, had built from a kit. It just wasn’t a musical family.

My two sisters and myself did get piano lessons. This was a sort of “expected” thing. You just put your kids in there and waited to see what would happen. My older sister excelled at it, and I do remember sitting on the bench with her or in a nearby chair and listening as she played some of the greats of classical music. She even played some songs from films. I heard her laboring over “The Entertainer“, and I loved it.

This didn’t get me exposed to any popular music of the time, though. The other exposure we had to music was via the 8-track player in our Buick. I think it was a Skylark. I don’t remember, but it was curvy, white, and fast. The tunes, though, not so much. My parents’ vast collection consisted of three tapes, all greatest hits from Glen Campbell, John Denver, and Elvis Presley. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t lend to too much rockin’ in the car as we drove around.

John Denver's Hits

As you might surmise from my mention of 8-track and the Buick Skylark, this was before the internet. You couldn’t just get on your computer or device and find an endless treasure trove of nearly all music ever recorded. But wait, what about MTV? Well, that started in 1981, and by then, my father had moved us out to the country. So, even in those days of nascent cable television, it wasn’t even available where I grew up.

What was a poor lad to do? Well, buy records from K-Tel, of course! These commercials would come on, and during them, samples of songs would play over some announcer lauding the benefits of the product. There’d also be eye-catching graphics of the contributing artists available beyond just those chosen for a short audio sample during the ad. The albums were actually good deals with great collections, so my parents got some for us.


Before long, we had K-Tel’s Full Tilt, Soundwaves, Rock 80, and Pure Rock. This allowed me exposure to many new songs as well as being able to listen to some I had caught on the radio during those rare few times when listening to the local pop or rock station. “My Sharona” was the earliest one I remember hearing when it was new, and I loved it. This was the first song that actually got me to turning on the radio in hopes of hearing it. When we got that record, I could listen to it all I wanted. Other songs to quickly become favorites were “I Was Made For Loving You“, “I Wanna Be Your Lover“, and “Don’t Look Back“. There were many, many more. I’ve provided the links; feel free to check them out. I’d while away hours just listening and grooving to these songs. Without these records, I would have never heard this gem, and they provided my first exposure to New Wave, which I loved. It was well worth it. What an education.

Numan SNL

In time, I learned more about music and was able to drive myself the long trek to the nearest mall or record store to scratch my itch. I owed a lot, though, to those K-Tel records. My mom says she still has them. Maybe I should dig them out and dust ’em off for a play. Oh, except, no record player. Ah, well, at least we have YouTube.

The Force is Evil?

Posted: January 2, 2020 in Blog

The Force is Evil_

The latest Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker, is in theaters right now. It’s creating the usual buzz and mountains of money. Star Wars is a phenomenon. It has so thoroughly woven itself into our pop culture that it feels odd to think of a time without it. I was around for all of it. I went to see the original trilogy in the theater. There are also some great documentaries out there talking about the toys and merchandising that came from Star Wars. It blazed the trail. Movies were not gold mines for merchandising back then. I recall being an eager young lad when those toys hit the shelves, and yes, I wanted them all. I didn’t get them all, but I wanted them all.

Back in the early ’80s, I had several toys from the collection. I even had a carrying case for the action figures in the shape of Darth Vader’s head. It was around this time that a family visited us. The parents of this family were friends with my parents. They had two children, a son and a daughter. The son was close to my age, a little younger. We didn’t know each other that well, though, because his family lived overseas. They were missionaries in Asia, you see.

The boy was going to sleep with me in my bedroom, and after the initial arrival and re-acquainting, we disappeared into my room. I was ready to trot out my various toys and show them off, and then we could settle in and play. The pride of my collection was, of course, my Star Wars toys. As I brought out my Darth Vader carrying case, something was off. He wasn’t impressed. In fact, he was tense.

In true fashion, he began to proselytize. He told me that the Force, Star Wars, yes, even George Lucas, were spreading evil. I was confused. The Sith and the Empire are evil, but surely not the Jedi or George. “No,” he countered, “Think about it. The Jedi are like wizards. Space wizards.”


“And they don’t worship God.”


“And if you have magic powers, and you don’t worship God, then you’re evil, because those powers come from the Devil.”

I remember sitting there, blinking, just looking at him, looking at my toys, thinking about the films. They weren’t evil! What kind of bullshit was this kid selling? Of course, I was a lot more naive and impressionable then, so it did sort of shake me. He had some serious resolve, too. Brainwashing can do that to you.

He told me that he knew a kid who had Star Wars curtains in his bedroom, and at night, they reached out toward him, waving about like spooky arms, trying to get him. “He left the window open,” I countered, but I was assured he did not. This was the power of Satan, himself!

We debated it for a short time. He finally backed off on saying George was evil, but he said that Lucas was being influenced by the Devil to put out these movies that showed Jedi as the heroes. It was all so worthy of a gigantic facepalm, but I have to admit, it scared me a little.

He said he would not be playing with my Star Wars toys, and he wouldn’t even sleep in my room unless I tucked my collection away in the closet. I should have told him sayonara and had my bed to myself, but again, impressionable. I was also trying to be nice to a guest, even though he was spouting some of the most bizarre nonsense I’d heard in my short life.

Instead we trotted out my Iwo Jima playset, because representations of real war were apparently okay. He did, though, tell me we had to come up with some sort of backstory. Why was this battle happening? I suppose the historical reason wasn’t good enough. I agreed with him that the Americans were fighting for God and trying to stop the Satanic Japanese. I just wanted to get on with it, since I wanted to play. This, though, was a seriously scary indicator of just how people are brainwashed and can use it to justify violence.

They left the next day, and it couldn’t come soon enough for me. Once they were gone, I went to my parents and told them what had happened. A small part of me was a little worried that the kid may be right. My family was Roman Catholic, and we attended church every Sunday. My heart wasn’t in it, but I was a young boy in a religious family. Thankfully, my parents told me there was nothing wrong with Star Wars.

Good thing Jar Jar Binks wasn’t around yet.

Confessions of a Criminal Kind

Posted: December 10, 2019 in Blog
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I’m not sure when it began, but I’ve always held a fascination with serial killers and to a lesser extent, the True Crime genre. I recall as a young child being more afraid of someone breaking into our house with ill intent as opposed to monsters lurking under the bed or in the closet. As I got older and learned more of these heinous things going on in the world, they drew me in like a dark magnet. It bothered me that people behaved this way. It haunted me that I might become a victim of such. But instead of shutting it behind locked doors, I dove in.

I used to hunt books voraciously. My consumption has not necessarily decreased so much as the method for acquiring books has changed. I rarely go to the brick & mortar book store anymore, but back in the late eighties and early nineties, there was no other choice. I enjoyed it, and I would often browse the shelves, looking over books, reading their synopses. I might spend a good deal of time at this quasi-investigation even if I had already made my choice of what next to buy.

Zodiac Cover

I recall seeing the cover of Zodiac by Robert Graysmith. It felt like a beacon, like I was a moth involuntarily drawn to this light. I thumbed through it, noting the pictures, and it scared me. I was actually worried about how I might digest this information, so I didn’t buy it. I did the same with books on John Wayne Gacy, Henry Lee Lucas, and Charles Manson. Instead, I continued reading “safer” books like those by Stephen King and Clive Barker.

Silence of the Lambs came out around that time, and the dam broke. It seemed the country was in the throes of a similar fascination. Maybe it had always been. I gave in and began my own journey with books on Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer (this was years before Ridgway was arrested). I eventually bought and read the Zodiac book. It was certainly chilling, but it didn’t drop me down some inescapable, dark well as I feared it might. I also got a hold of several encyclopedias of crime and serial killers, gaining limited insight into more and more that might lead to avenues of further delving.

Eventually technology gave us better access to lesser known fare like documentaries. I have always enjoyed them, and it pleased me when they began gaining more popularity. Now you can watch well done documentaries on all sorts of true crime. I’ve seen plenty. Some are clearly better than others, and some are chilling right to the bone. I watched Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and hearing Bundy’s voice felt like a haunting hypnotism. It didn’t even feel horrifying until some time later, and that made it even scarier to me.

Tedd Bundy Tapes

In addition to Silence of the Lambs, there have been plenty of fictional movies made about, and often inspired by, serial killers and true crime. I used to work at a video rental store when I was in college, and I can tell you, I watched just about all of them I could get my hands on. None were as good as Silence, but several were just as horrifying. Most were formulaic crap.

And now we have the amazing series on Netflix, Mindhunter. This is another one that is based on true events, and it shows how American law enforcement at the time began to deal with serial killers. It comes from the book of the experiences of John Douglas, one of the pioneers in criminal profiling and a consultant for Silence of the Lambs.


This dark interest has undoubtedly influenced some of my writing. As much as such criminal behavior scares and sickens me, it is, unfortunately an actual behavior. I’ve made myself go further and further into horrific explorations just to try to not pull punches, since reality doesn’t. I’m not entirely sure how much it has affected me as a writer, but it’s there. I like to think that exposing and facing it is how we eventually eradicate it. Maybe that’s naive, but I’m not sure any of us have a perfect crystal ball. Besides, I need to cling to some optimism in the face of such darkness.

Sleep well …

Kaffee Klatsch

Posted: October 24, 2019 in Blog
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It took me a while to “discover” coffee. I remember visiting my maternal grandparents out in the resonant isolation of Forest, Mississippi. My grandfather and I would always wake up before everyone else. He’d be sitting there in the dark kitchen with his coffee, and he offered me some to try. I didn’t care for it, even after he added milk.

Flash forward many years until I was a sophomore in college. I lived right off campus, and even closer was a legendary Austin coffeehouse called Quackenbush’s. I’m not sure if it’s even still there, but it held a darkly romantic allure to me. I couldn’t explain why. After mulling it over several times in my adventurous brain, I finally convinced my body to go in. I was with a friend, and we were both flummoxed by the offerings. What the hell was a café au lait? A cappuccino? I just opted for the cheapest thing on the menu and stumbled upon the espresso.

It was too intense for me. This did not seal my fate with coffee. I resumed drinking the “watered” down stuff my friend and I brewed in our dorm room. Still, those dark, roastable beans had been planted.

I also found that I just loved the atmosphere at coffeehouses. I began frequenting them. A professor of mine held a post-class discussion hour or two at the same locale. I went to those as often as I could. I would study and read in coffeehouses, meet new and interesting people. And I finally found my love for coffee.

That same friend wanted to dive in deeper, so we began researching coffee for an ambitious project (one that ultimately did not come to fruition but the journey was well worth it). I found out what a vastly traded commodity coffee is. I found out the legends of its discovery and smuggling out of its native lands and into Europe. I read of the invention of café mocha and the gender-exclusivity of early coffeehouses, the supposed influencing nature of coffee and how it might lure one down the paths of sedition or even worse – philosophy.

This same friend introduced me to Turkish coffee, giving me an ibrik, and I began making it myself. It is powerful stuff when done correctly. We even had multiple sets of ornate demitasse cups and saucers. We’d have little gatherings and drink the strong brew, then upend our cups and let the contents dry on the inside to read our fortunes. I got a hold of a Vietnamese coffee press, and I began having my own Vietnamese coffee at home. This was all good stuff, and it stoked something inside me, seeming to brew my imagination along with the drink.

I don’t experiment like I used to, but I still enjoy trying new things or having a strong cup of Turkish coffee when I can get it. I finally went to Europe and tried a lot of coffee there. It is stronger (in general) than what is available here, and it’s good. The best I found was in Frankfurt.

It’s amazing to me how this drink has had such a profound impact on not only myself but also human civilization. It was as much a sought after valuable as any spice or flower for those lands that could not produce them locally. It is a treat that has woven itself into feeling like a necessity. And I love it.




Posted: September 10, 2019 in Blog
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The planet turns …
and night falls.
We are all moved.

Night Falls on Earth

I used to dabble in poetry much more when I was younger. I kept a small, spiral-bound notebook and filled it with poems. I used to attend live readings at various coffeehouses when I lived in Austin. It was fun and inspiring.

Eventually, I just stopped writing poetry. I’m not sure why, but it happened. Then, just the other night, this one hit me. I was walking down the stairs in my house, and it was dark. I’ve done that countless times, but for some reason, I stopped in my descent. It hit me that this darkness had come as I sat upstairs typing away on the computer. It was the same house, but now it was shrouded in darkness. It had changed, and the inevitable magic that comes with night enveloped me. I had moved without moving.

I hope you like this little foray of mine back into poetry. I doubt it indicates more to come, but it felt very profound to me.

Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

Posted: August 1, 2019 in Blog
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Ticket Booth

I’m not sure why this continues to need to be said. It doesn’t even matter if I am desperate for food or phenomenally wealthy, I deserve to be paid for my work. Books are not too expensive, especially eBooks. Some people just seem to feel they deserve some kind of handout, or they seek to take advantage of authors by expecting free books. It saddens me that there is sufficient use of free book (piracy) websites that they are still functioning. You’re hurting authors by using them. It is very disappointing. It saddens me that people are so willing to hurt others for success, though I realize that is nothing new in human behavior. It also saddens me that people patronize these sites. If they didn’t, there’d be no power to them.

It also baffles me that there is a prevailing attitude that people somehow freely deserve the fruits of artistic labor, yet they’ll somehow manage to afford that $3.00 coffee five times a week. They also manage to afford a smartphone. Has anyone thought of expecting an iPhone for free because Apple has “enough” money already?

Here’s the thing. Books are cheap! I sometimes wonder if it is even about the price, or if something is just wired into a lot of people where they try to unfairly worm whatever benefit to themselves they can. That sort of approach is sadly selfish, immature, and unsustainable. Hopefully humanity will largely mature beyond such an attitude at some point in the near future.

Buy the book, take the ride.

Find more discussion here on my blog about art being affordable.

The third book in my dark urban fantasy series has finally been published. It took many years to get them all done, the third taking the longest. A part of me was reluctant to finish. I feel relieved but also sad. I would like to invite you to take this journey with me.


The work is crude, looking like graffiti, the broad swathes of paint seeming as though done by a child, thick with a charcoal-like texture.  The form is obviously that of a bound woman, though the head metamorphoses into something like a deer, crowned with an impressive display of crooked antlers.  

“It looks primitive,” Zoe remarks, “like it’s been here forever.”  She bends a bit at the knee, getting closer, bringing one hand up to gently wipe at it, giving way to a brief fall of gossamer dust.

She steps back, fishing out her mobile, holding it up to take a few quick snapshots.  Once done, she glances at the device, eyes narrowing a bit, muttering, “Reception is poor out here.”

“Do you think it has anything to do with what’s been going on?” Lilja asks, still focused on the strange artwork.

Pick up a copy of the book. Read it. Leave a review or comment. If you’ve not tried any, please nab them all and read the whole thing. I did this to share, and I hope you accept.

Scary Stories

Posted: April 17, 2019 in Blog
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I have always been fascinated by scary tales, as I suspect are a vast majority of all of you. There seems an allure of the frightening, the unknown, especially in the controlled context of experiencing it as a form of entertainment. I felt the magic of it, the sense not only of something mysterious but also how such even came to be. But none of it ever actually scared me.

Even as a child, when I would read collections of dark folklore and ghost stories, none would scare me. Most of these were intended for children, but I would have presumed some measure of feeling fright. I’m not trying to say I was some incredibly courageous kid. Typically though, the things that scared me came from my own mind, and those generally at night when all was dark and quiet, and I was trying to get to sleep.

I had, of course, heard of Stephen King, though I had read nothing of his nor had I seen any of the movies available at the time. I wanted to, but my parents would not allow it. This also pre-dated the internet, so the methods of circumventing that control were much more limited. The whole idea of getting my hands on a Stephen King novel intrigued me. This built up the mystique, and I began to overplay it in my mind.

What if these were stories that would really scare me? Maybe I shouldn’t read them. My older sister got a hold of one novel, and I wondered if she might surreptitiously slip it to me when she was done. Would I want her to do that? I was really building this up, as if it were now some dark, creaky door, waiting to be opened, promising me new experiences, but did I really want them?

I don’t know what happened with that book. A part of me thinks my parents made sure to get it from my sister when she was done with. They knew I had a voracious appetite for consuming stories, and they worried over protecting us kids from scary things.

Finally, when I graduated high school and went off to college, I was able to go to the book store and buy whatever I wanted. Surely, I could have done so prior to this time, but myriad things happening in my life kept me from it. I was even writing horror short stories, and one of them was quite popular amongst my friends. One said it reminded them of something Stephen King would write. I was so proud, and yet, I still did not go out to the store and get any of his works. Until college.

I forget which novel of his I read first, but I began down the Stephen King trail, and once I did, I went at a quick pace. At some point, perhaps on my third or fourth novel, I realized that though I was thoroughly enjoying his work, none of it scared me. I then decided to read his short story collection Night Shift. “Jerusalem’s Lot”, “Graveyard Shift”, “The Mangler”, all good tales with frightening elements. I enjoyed them, but none scared me.

I eventually got to “The Boogeyman”. Another good one, full of the typical Stephen King weaving, but then, the end. Those of you who have read it know. I was living in a small apartment with that same older sister who had read the King novel those years ago. She was not home. It was night. I was in my small bedroom, which was labeled as a study on the floor plan. It had a tiny closet with double doors, and one of them was slightly ajar.

I stared at that open space, that vertical slit of darkness. The small lamp next to my bed would not penetrate it. I felt a creeping rise along my back and to my neck. I was scared.

I finally got up and shut the door and made sure it stayed close. I was an eighteen year old young man off at college, and I had finally experienced my first real fright from the written word. Leave it to Stephen King to lure me in, then catch me off guard.

Enjoy your readings, my friend, however they may affect you.