Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Zero Hour.

The Mountain and The City, Part Zero has arrived.

The final chapter of my serial is out on Kindle and all other formats. It's been a long and varied road, with one more stop next month when it's released as a collected ebook and, for the first time, in paperback. The digital serial has been the perfect home for this story, but I've had a good number of people ask for it on paper as well.

Happy reading.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Excerpt from TMATC: Zero

 The blue light-bulbs barely light up the garage. All I can see is the car in front of us and then after that it's all black, except way off at the other end a little bit of outside light comes in. Really quiet, dad tells mom that's where the booth with the keys is. It's hard to tell with so much dark, but it feels like forever away.

Mom hits into a car's bumper with her leg. She curses at it in whispers.

“Your phone has a light,” dad tells her.

“I don't want to attract attention. We don't know who else is in here.”

Her saying that makes it so much worse. Staring into the black, just tires and mirrors looking back, pieces of metal and rubber and shiny glass, right now they all feel like they want to wake up and come after me, which is crazy and not possible, but sometimes things that are crazy and not possible happen anyway.

Without any words we tip-toe through the dark garage toward the little bit of moonlight at the other end. It's so quiet, I can hear dad's breath in his nose-hairs.

All of a sudden, a little too loud, mom says, “Elliot?”

The white shirt looks like it's floating in the dark toward us. When it gets closer the big man's face is above it, sweaty and with big, wide eyes. I don't know what he's going to do, if he's our friend or not, but then he brings his shaky hand up to his mouth, and in barely a whisper, barely something we can hear, he says three words.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

To The Gates of Hell

Yesterday, October 13th, I attended New York Comic Con for the second year in a row. Last year was a last minute surprise, offered a ticket by a friend who couldn't make it to Sunday. I went with a long, long-time friend of mine, Dave, and we enjoyed it so much that this year we pre-ordered tickets. Once again I enjoyed the costume-watching and the booth-browsing, buying some Doctor Who merch for the wife and a graphic novel bio of Hunter S. Thompson, which as a huge fan of that other Doctor, I'm really excited to read.

As it turned out we only had time and patience to wait for one panel, the first ever Comic Con appearance of author Chuck Palahniuk. He has a new book out by the name of Damned, which I was lucky enough to get a free copy of. I earned it, you could say, by sitting on the dirty, nerd-trampled floor just left of stage through the entire appearance. Palahniuk and his helpers also threw several bags of arms, legs and hands into the screaming crowd; all fake, all autographed.

In the past few years I've been fairly vocal about my disappointment with Palahniuk's output. Not that he's put out too little material, but in fact just the opposite. He's managed to publish a book a year, which, while I absolutely commend his work ethic, I felt it led to a mediocre bunch of books. Keep in mind, this criticism only stems from a single place, and it isn't hate. It's absolute awe and jealousy and devotion. You see, this is the man who wrote three books, back-to-back, that turned my world on its head. Those books: Fight Club. Invisible Monsters. Survivor. Three books I repeatedly had to slow myself down reading so I could taste every word, admire every sentence, enjoy every page, because I knew that when it was over, the only thing I would be reading anytime soon that could touch it would be the same book read all over. What followed those three books was what I would best describe as diminishing returns: still really good, but with progressively less kick.

Seeing Palahniuk at Comic Con this past Saturday, other than realizing he's beginning to resemble Jack Kerouac as he ages, I learned a few things about the man. To say he knows and enjoys his crowd is putting it lightly, and I was struck at how generous he was toward them, to the point where he actually began apologizing when his bags and bags of freebies ran out. There was also one thing he did during the Q & A portion which I can't get out of my head. That was, whenever a fan asked him a question, no matter how predictable, or bizarre, or entirely off-topic, he would stop. He would remain quiet for several seconds, and you could watch as he went over the question in his head and really, truly gave it thought. This would be suicide for a politician, who is trained to fill every moment of air-time with inane filler. "That's a good question," they'll say, "and my staff and I have been pondering that same dilemma, and what I would like to say about that, to you good people, is..." and all the while what they're actually doing is listening to the feed in their ear. Some man in a booth close by, getting paid a lot of money to tell him how he feels. I was deeply, thoroughly impressed to see Palahniuk answer a question this way. And it showed: his answers were intelligent, spot-on, and above all, honest. It impressed me, and it made me want to treat people the same way.

The major meat of the appearance was a reading of a new story, one he said was titled "Boogeyman", one that made heavy use of shock and horror to get its point across. While it's a tactic you could say Palahniuk over-uses, there's no arguing how effectively he uses it. His command of language is so strong that, even straining to hear its details echoed in the cavernous room, I felt nauseous at times, and had to remind myself they were only words, they weren't real, they didn't have to take form as images in my head. I came out the other side of it reminded why I fell in love with his work in the first place: because it's brave, and because it makes me laugh, and because it leaves scars. At least for now, I'm a follower again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Expand and Contract

An announcement to share with my friends and fans- I was recently given an opportunity to sign with Bruce Barone of World Media Partners, and I'm happy to say I took it. Bruce is an excellent manager/publicist/sounding board/guy poking me with a stick, and we already set to our first project together- developing a feature-length screenplay. I can't tell you much about it yet except that it's based on an unpublished work of mine. I can also tell you we're committed to not only getting the sucker made, but making it damn good. It's an exciting time right now.

The second part of this announcement is I'm looking to make a few waves on Amazon to coincide with this new chapter, and I want you guys to not only help me do it, but get something out of it in the process. That's why I'm having a one-day blitz tomorrow, where if you download my novel A Chemical Fire for 99 cents you can pick any other book I've published and get it absolutely free, in all e-book formats. All you have to do is buy it between noon and midnight on Thursday, 6/28, forward the receipt (or a screenshot, etc.) to the email address brian at bloodstreamcity dot com and tell me which book you want. That's it. If you've already read A Chemical Fire you just need to write a review on Amazon during that same time slot and email me the link. Technically that means you could get a free book without ever actually buying one, but I don't mind. The reviews are just as important as the sales if not more so. So really whether you participate in this event or not, feel free to slam Amazon with all your ACF reviews. It can be ten words long or a full dissertation, either one would be appreciated, and I love to hear what you guys have to say.

Here's the list of books you can choose from:

Kissing You is Like Trying to Punch a Ghost (novel)
The Mountain and The City Part II (serial)
The Mountain and The City Part III (serial)
The Mountain and The City Part IV (serial)
The Mountain and The City Part V (serial)

Saturday, April 28, 2012


More than twenty-thousand. That's how many times a story of mine has been downloaded or otherwise bought between May 2010 when I began this self-publishing experiment, and today, the end of April 2012. I'm not sharing that number to brag, but rather to convey my total shock at how many people have potentially read my work. The better share of those have been free downloads, so it's not like I've gotten rich off this thing, and in fact I can safely say that any money I've made has been invested right back into marketing myself, with a giveaway here and an order of bookmarks there. On the other hand doing all the formatting and design-work myself has kept my costs low, and that means that while my writing hasn't made me much money, it hasn't lost me any, either. That's been an important factor in keeping this whole experiment away from the territory of "it's a shame what happened to that guy" and safely in the realm of "as long as it makes him happy".

So all I've really put into this has been my time, two years of it, which of course is valuable in its own right. Time is money, etcetera, and that's not even talking about all the hours I've spent of my life writing, all that putting words down and deleting them, all that editing and thinking and focusing on things that aren't real. Good practice, all of it, and all of it taking up time. I could have had a complete second job in that time and been making real money, but how much of our time do we really spend doing things of actual value, versus time wasted watching television and sitting on the internet, playing games or screwing around in the yard? I would argue that I didn't waste any of the time I spent writing. I would argue that I did have a second job.

The reason I'm thinking about all of this is the same reason I came up with that big number I mentioned. You see I had to crunch some numbers because there's someone who has expressed strong interest in being my manager, someone who can help me develop my work and put it in front of the right people. Back before May of 2010 I was doing my best to get someone's attention, anyone who might be willing to represent me and get my name out there, but when that proved to be difficult I changed directions and dove into the new arena of self-publishing that was happening around me. Now two years later one of those people has contacted me, and he did it because he read a few of those things I'd self-published and saw some something in them. And he's even a nice guy.

Nothing is official yet, and I may be talking about this too early if the whole deal ends up falling apart in my hands (though so far I don't see it happening), but even then I would treat this experience as a success, because I did what I set out to do- I got someone's attention, not by way of gimmicks or shouting at them, but by the merit of my work, or at least the potential in it. It's either ironic or very fitting that this comes so soon after someone tried to use my writing against me, to defraud a bit of cash out of me, because even when that setback happened I didn't let it frustrate me, and instead made a conscious effort to take it in stride and laugh it off (see my last post). For now at least good things are happening, and its given the last two years a sweet validation, to know that even if it may take a while to go from the place I am now to a place where I don't need a day job anymore, but can rather support my wife and myself with my work, the waiting will be easier, and angled increasingly upward. If nothing else I've earned myself more than twenty-thousand pairs of eyes to watch me stumble there.

Sunday, April 01, 2012


I was recently contacted by someone named Terry James who inquired about having me edit an article of his for pay. I don't normally do this kind of thing, but I have considered it in the past as a source of side-money, and as luck would have it I'm in a brief lull between projects at the moment. So I figured, what the hell. The hell was, Terry turned out to be a check scam artist. Luckily I figured this out before I got burned and, deciding to have fun with the situation, I sent Terry what I thought was an appropriate response. What follows is our entire exchange.

Him: Hello,

            How are you doing today and am Terry James.I want to know if you will be available for rewriting and editing job,the document is attach to the mail and I will wait for your quote.Hope to read from you soonest.

Kind regards,

Attached was a file labeled "English.doc" which contained seven pages of broken English. Here's a sample sentence: "Addiction is a chronic brain disease often recurs, despite harmful consequences for thepeople around himself and has fallen into the addiction, the drug asked for it is they cannot become."

Me: Hi Terry, 

I'm not sure what kind of budget you were looking at, but this does require some pretty extensive editing work. If you tell me your price range I can tell you if I would be right for you or not.

Take care,
-Brian M.

Him: Hello,

             Thanks for your swift response and am very happy to read from you,i want it rewrite and edited also I will pay $250.

The document is base on drug so we want to use to it to create more awareness on drug for those who abuse it and the article will be read by teenagers.

I want it back in 20 days however the payment will be through Check so send me your name and address with phone number where the payment will be mail to and i got your detail at a writer website,hope to hear read from you soon.

I wish you a pleasant day.

Me: Terry,

That sounds reasonable to me, and I can have it in the time you're asking. I have a fairly good understanding of what you need but if it's alright with you I might ask you a question or two during the process in case I need some clarification as to what you're going for.

As far as payment I would prefer to use PayPal. I can supply you with my account if you're able to pay that way, but if you need to pay by check I would respectfully ask for a money order/bank check/etc. I certainly don't want to cause any problems with this, I've just found it to be better for everyone involved and so it makes everyone happier.

Let me know if you want me to go ahead. I look forward to hearing back from you.

-Brian M.

Him: Thanks for your mail and i can work with money order so send me your name and address with phone number,awaits your mail soonest.

Me: Sounds good to me, here's my info: (REMOVED)

Him: Morning,
                Thanks for your mail and how is your day going? Some people request for Editing to be done and run away with your money,i do have a personal editor but right now she is sick that is why am looking for a competent and trustworthy editor.I have gave a job to a editor and paid him advance and he did run away with my money and i don't want to be a victim anymore but am ready to give you a chance which i will pay you upfront because there are many jobs we are going to do together.This is a charity which help less privilege kid around there world also the money is needed for Republic of Vanuatu relief,I hope you understand me.

(Note: Here's where the bomb drops.)

However,my sponsor notify me that the check has mail out and there was a mistake with the amount on the check which is $2000 so what i want you to do know is get it cashed and you will send the difference back to us after you have deduct your money so you will send it to us through western union,you are saving a million lives and may God almighty bless you as you do so.Awaits your mail soon.

I wish you a pleasant weekend


A classic check scam. Spoiler alert: the money order is a counterfeit, which I wouldn't learn until after cashing the check and wiring him the cash. The bank would come calling for their money back, and I would be forced to pay them out of pocket, unable to retrieve what I'd already wired.

And so, brushing the dust off my shoulders, I wrote Terry the following reply.

Dear Terry,

There's something fishy going on here, and I think I've figured it out. All this time I've been trying to figure out what you are based on the style of speech in both your emails as well as the file you sent me for editing. Your address says you reside in Anchorage, Alaska, however your English says otherwise. Your last email, though, gave me the final clues I needed to figure it out, and I can finally say with confidence what you really are.

A real-life Nigerian prince! Terry, why didn't you just say so? All this time I've been speaking with a member of royalty and never knew it. I know you mentioned the Republic of Vanuatu, but I recognize a prince when I see one. You don't have to be modest with me. I hear about you folks all the time at my day job but I never thought I would have the wonderful privilege of directly speaking with one. Well, regardless of the outcome of the job you've offered me, thank you so much for the honor of communicating with someone of your stature, even if being a prince in the extant kingdoms of Africa is mostly nothing more than a genealogical assertion of a legal claim to a throne regardless of how remote the possibility of ascending to it is. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/)

In our previous emails you were eager to learn my address, and I take that, as I believe I should, as a genuine interest in my personal life. There's not much to say, really, except that I'm happily married, have a deep love for animals, especially dogs, and am admittedly a bit of a film buff. Well I suppose I could tell you what the day job is that I previously mentioned. I work at a bank, one of the larger ones. While it isn't my dream job (writing is, as your research turned up), it does offer some other advantages. For instance one would be education on all things financial, including some of the more unsavory aspects such as identity theft and e-mail scams. These are a part of life, sadly, but then again scum has been walking the Earth since long before you or I had our turn on it, and these things are only modern variations on old tricks. Instead of being pessimistic about the whole thing I prefer to keep a positive attitude, knowing that people are genuinely good and it's a small percentage of the population that gives the rest a bad name. It's easy to think that all people are bad when you hear so much of this sort of thing, but in reality it's only because crimes are what get the news coverage, never the acts of kindness both small and large that decent people show each other every, single day. Obviously I don't need to tell you that, being someone involved with a charity that benefits children.

Well I'm going off on a rant here. I have to apologize for that, Terry. I suppose it's just I feel we already have a strong connection. I trust you, as I hope you trust me.


P.S., Sorry for the small delay in responding to your email, there was a small matter to attend to first with the FTC. Take care, and I look forward to receiving your totally real check.

(FTC is the Federal Trade Commission, who I reported him to before sending the email) 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Report of Incident on Eleventh Floor

There's the story of a man by the name of Jeremy Silk. Aged forty-one, no wife, no children, Jeremy lived on the eleventh floor of an apartment building which had recently been renovated due to a particularly flammable insulation material discovered in its walls.

One summer, just as the nights became too humid to to sleep through without the help of an air-conditioning unit, neighbors began complaining of music which had started coming from Jeremy's apartment every night at roughly twelve-thirty. When first asked about the music, Jeremy was witnessed as behaving erratic, explaining that lately he needed the distraction in order to help him fall sleep. His neighbors were gracious in their understanding, and kindly requested that he turn the volume down or use headphones, as the quality of their own sleep shouldn't have to suffer. He generally agreed with this, though was evasive when asked what steps he would take.

That night, at roughly twelve forty-five, neighbors were disappointed to hear the same, loud music coming through their walls and ceilings. Four of said neighbors convened at Jeremy's door, knocked, and asked him to turn the music off, as most of them had work in the morning. Jeremy, who according to reports looked “excessively disheveled”, nodded once and shut the door. The music was heard to shut off soon thereafter, and the neighbors, satisfied, dispersed.

The next morning, Jeremy failed to show up at his job as warehouse manager for a local food distributor. Management placed several calls to the two phone numbers they had on file for Jeremy, but received no call back. On the second day when once again he failed to appear, they placed a call to Jeremy's emergency contact, his estranged father currently living on Lake Michigan. They found the man to be distant and uninterested but managed to ascertain that he hadn't spoken to Jeremy.

On the third day, being concerned for Jeremy's well-being, management sent an employee to the apartment building to speak with his landlord. Several neighbors heard their conversation and joined in, agreeing that none of them had seen Jeremy since the night they'd gone to see him.

When Jeremy failed to answer either his phone or his door, one of the neighbors placed a call to the police in order to report possible foul-play. Before the authorities could arrive several of them noticed a faint odor which seemed to be coming from Jeremy's apartment, prompting the landlord to use his keys to open the locked door.

Reports of what they discovered inside varies from witness to witness, though all include the deceased body of one Jeremy Silk, aged forty-one, still lying in his bed since three nights prior. Wads of paper were noticed as being stuffed inside his ear canals. The official coroner's report states that the paper was inserted with such force that it it damaged Jeremy's tympanic membranes, forcing them into the adjoining cavities.

Police entered into evidence several personal effects of Jeremy Silk, including the small stereo he kept by his bedside responsible for the music which had bothered his neighbors, as well as his private journal which he had written in more or less daily. In the journal, detectives discovered several entries in which Jeremy complains of a noise coming from the walls in his bedroom, particularly the west wall, opposite the window. In initial entries Jeremy describes the noise as low and indiscernible, only slightly bothersome to his sleep, but in subsequent mentions the noise is described as increasing in volume and attaining the tone and timbre of a human voice. Then, in the last week, as growing in clarity and level of agitation.

When comparing the date of the entries to transcripts from witness interviews, as well as invoices and receipts submitted by the apartment building's landlord, a correlation has been noted between the onset of the noise heard by Jeremy in the wall of his bedroom and the renovations which had been performed in the building. In fact, when compared in greater detail, the first entry comes just one day after work had been completed on the eleventh floor, the same as Jeremy's apartment.

All files have since been sealed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In the Recesses

When I was maybe eight years old- that would be what, third grade? that sounds right- some kids were playing with a kickball out on the grass when it got away from them and landed at my feet. I wanted to impress them with how far I could kick it back at them, so I picked that fucker up, dropped it on my foot and kicked it as hard as I could.

The problem was I kicked it at a terrible angle, so instead of soaring forward in a beautiful arch indicative of your typical alpha male's kick, it hooked up over my head and landed on the roof of the school behind me. To anyone but me it looked like I'd done it intentionally. I was so embarrassed by how bad a kick it was that when they asked me why I'd done it, I just froze up and smiled strangely at them. It was almost better for my ego for them to think I was an asshole with amazing skills rather than a nice kid with the best intentions who can't kick a god-damned red ball properly. I was in elementary school, for christ's sake. I had a reputation to maintain.

I wonder sometimes if any of those kids, now adults, still remember that incident the way I do, or if it was only seared into my memory by the pure heat of my embarrassment. Maybe there's a guy my age somewhere right now, and he's typing, "When I was eight years old- that's what, third grade?- I was with my friends playing kickball on the grass, just totally minding our business, when the ball got away from us and landed at this kid's feet. So what does he do? He picks it up, making like he's about to kick it back to us, but then this little shit curves his foot and kicks it up over his head and onto the school's roof. To be honest I'm not sure how he even did it. It was one of the most impressive kicks I'd ever seen, or have since then, but fuck that kid. He was a heartless bully picking on us like that. We didn't do anything to deserve it. If I ever run into that prick on the street I'll kick HIS balls and throw HIM on the roof. I bet you he doesn't even remember doing it."

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A Chemical Fire: Free for 5 Days

 I had a good time sharing my other book last month, so I figured what the shit. I'm giving away A Chemical Fire for five days, February 8th through the 12th. This is a one-shot deal, so download it now before it's gone. Tell your friends, your enemies, your frenemies, even your enefriends, though they stopped listening to you years ago.

A Chemical Fire was the first novel I ever completed, and in some ways the most clear of vision. It was one of those big ideas that only come along so often, that demand to be written down and sent out. It taught me a lot about story-writing, and as far as I think I've come since then, I'm still very proud of it.

Read it: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004G093Q2

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weak End

When I make a plan and stick to it I feel like an unstoppable force. I'm moving faster than ever before and picking up speed. I'm eager to see out this year because I know what it entails- improving what I do and reaching out further into the world. People will hear what I say and know who I am, and that part of me that wants it will feed and grow and grow. That part of me that doesn't will be rejected like a transplant that didn't take.

Nicholas Cage had a cameo as himself in my dream last night. It wasn't a stretch for him, but it's good to see him taking on some smaller roles.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Dead Night

Had nothing but zombie dreams last night. Debriefing follows.

Someone in the street has the flu and is stumbling around. They try to get into the house. More people in the street, sick, getting worse, traffic accidents, try to get something from my car but a runaway truck takes off the door. Realization of zombie apocalypse. Mild excitement but also panic, sense of real danger. Yelling at family to grab any bag they can find and fill it with food and medicine. Filling my bag with apples and water bottles. Outside, crowds of dead.

About to leave, government responds. Dropping concrete dividers from helicopters in the street to slow them down. It's working. Some of them are crushed under the dividers. Then a rumbling in the ground. House is suddenly raised. All houses on street coming up on metal platforms like giant car garage lifts. Feels like house will fall apart but holds together. Sense of sunlight coming through the windows, making the room bright.

Some time later. Rickety structures fifty feet above flood water. Zombies in the dirty water below. When anyone falls in they're bitten or dragged down. Have to jump from one structure to the other or use ladders and ropes. The structure I'm on begins to topple and I have to lean it toward the next to reach it, but the impact causes that to topple and I have to lean it toward the next. Fall into the water. Claw my way out and onto a rock with the feeling of hands on my ankles.

Some time later. Living with other people on a resort or hotel property of some kind. Structures are built all over to climb up and use for escape in case of attacks. Inside the main building is a spinning vault preserving artifacts of humanity.

Some time later. Towns are abandoned, not even zombies for some years. On a garbage detail with a group of men trying to clean it out. Out of the corner of my vision I spot slow movement. A single zombie. Need to deal with the situation, but then there's another coming out the window of an old building. Then a group from around a corner ahead. We start to run. Another group from behind. We try to snake through the buildings to duck away but more and more zombies surge from every corner and every building until we're trapped in an alley. One of the men starts to sing a song as the zombies close in, but I can't remember the song.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Read my 2nd Book Free

Today marks one year since I published my second book, a book I never planned to write until about two weeks prior, when I learned of National Novel Writing Month. The idea was simple: write a complete novel from start to finish in November. It came at just the right moment for me since I was at somewhat of a crossroads in my writing. I had just seen my first attempt at a new project fizzle, a science-fiction story not quite ready to exist, yet the other project I had in mind was too lengthy and involving to jump into just yet. With that in mind, pushing myself to write faster than ever before seemed like a good exercise. So I signed on. I went in with a skeleton of an outline, half a page at most, and even that was partly scrapped. What came of it was as unexpected to me as it is to anyone reading it, a surreal, twisting story involving experimental drugs, robots and sword swallowing. It was never intended to be read by the public, only passed among my inner circle, but these things have a tendency to find their way out. And once they do, they're out for good.

A year later, Kissing You is like Trying to Punch a Ghost is my least read book by such a large margin it essentially doesn't exist, yet the reaction I get from the title alone makes the whole thing worth it. You can almost think of it as my Snakes on a Plane; everyone talked about it, no one saw it. But I still like the book. Occasionally I open it to a random page, read a line and struggle to remember writing it, similar to thinking back to a dream from last night, or even last week. The details are there, but the frame has all but collapsed.

This book is my freak in the basement, the one everyone hears but no one acknowledges, and I want to celebrate it. So today until the 19th, you can read it totally free. If you have a Kindle you'll find it that way, if you don't just find it on Amazon and make sure to download one of the free reading apps covering everything from PC to iPhone to Android. If you do read it, take a minute to write a few words about it on Amazon, seeing as it's my only book with zero reviews.

You hear the chains rattling down there. It's time to make eye contact.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The woman told him he was doing it wrong. You don't lean back. That just makes you sick, gives you the runs. You lean forward and let it clot. Keep the nose above the heart. Pinch the bridge and apply ice to the forehead or to the back of the neck. That's fine, he said, but tasting all these pennies was making him feel loose in the jaw.

After the flow stopped she told him to avoid anything that might make it start again, like blowing his nose or rubbing it too hard. All he could think was: if he was the kind of person who knew how to avoid a nosebleed in the first place, he never would have come here.

He was happy he'd worn a red shirt that day.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Take the Hand from the Picture

Nulla dies sine linea. This has been my motto for some time, without my realizing it. It's attributed to a fourth century Greek painter by the name of Apelles, and it means "No day without a line". Apelles believed that art was a daily discipline. Like a true artist he boiled that idea down to its simplest form- four words in Latin, five in English, and in the process he invented a simple rule to follow, one that I believe yields results. I have certain word counts that I keep myself accountable for. One is optimal. Half that is minimal. And if I don't reach at least one of those numbers on any given day, I label myself a failure for that day. It's harsh. And it needs to be. And this year I'm raising my numbers.

I don't fancy myself an artist, though I do find myself entrenched in one of the arts. A practitioner, maybe. Calling oneself an artist is the first step toward complete uselessness. Maybe it's my particular personality but I almost view fiction from a more scientific viewpoint than I do a creative one. The technical aspects, the chemistry between the various elements. It's like a form of math which has to be reinvented midway through every equation for it to work. That's why it can be so challenging at times, why the chase eludes. The toughest game draws the most fools, and I number among the crowd.

A lot of people talk, some of them write, but only a few of them write every day. Nulla dies sine linea. No day without a line.