Oh, It’s *That* Day Again.

Father’s Day and I don’t get along for one obvious reason: My father died when I was in high school.

So of course, every force-fed story on social media talks about what to buy your father, what outdoor activities to take him to, why father’s don’t have to be the biological kind in order to love a kid, etc. Honestly, I usually put up a blinder to this flavor of media until a good three days after the holiday. It’s done me good so far.

Then I saw this GQ article where Chris Pratt talks about what he learned from he recently departed father.

“The perfect metaphor: Dad left me a compass that didn’t work. And I still—the sentiment—I’ll take it out and look.” He laughs again. “And be like, ‘Aw fuck, I better use my phone’.”

Much like Pratt’s father, mine was a tough guy who found himself unable to cope with seriously limiting physical ailments. Dad was a diabetic who didn’t give a shit about doctor’s orders and diets. His lower spine was shattered in a motorcycle accident that should have killed him. Before he finally passed, a good chunk of his heart stopped working. He died and was resuscitated numerous times during surgeries. I spent my childhood terrified of hospitals because I never knew if Dad would roll back out the doors to smile at me again.

Dad’s physical problems weren’t the only hiccup in his life. He suffered from what I can only now describe as a horrific mixture of chemical dependency and undiagnosed bipolar disorder. We didn’t know what bipolar was when he would hole up in the master bedroom for days on end and fly into rages about nothing at all. Life was all about the eggshells for a long time. If Dad was having a good day, we all were. When he didn’t . . . I’d beg to go to a friend’s house for a long weekend.

But like Pratt, I eventually learned to appreciate the lessons Dad taught me instead of dwelling on the bad. He was who he was. Death didn’t make Dad a martyr. It just means he’s not here to tell me I’ve used the wrong fake blood on a prop or that a medical emergency in my latest book isn’t as life-threatening as I thought, or even make fun of me for staying across the room from a snake securely locked in its cage. Through Dad’s emotional demons, I learned that I’m not okay. Bipolar is an issue in our family, one which passed not only to myself, but to my sibling.

The one I disowned because they became exactly like Dad. They didn’t learn these vital lessons. Didn’t pay attention when we left because of his drug use and emotional abuse. I tried to pass on what I learned, but it didn’t work.

So today, not only do I remember the lessons Dad taught me–from the silly and gory to the nightmares lurking in our brain chemistry–but also the sibling who is learning the hard lessons about emotional instability and drug abuse on their own.

Listen to your fathers, guys. Even if what comes out of their mouth is wrong and ugly, it’s still something to learn from. A behavior you now know never to repeat.

The best lesson I learned from Dad? Be weird. It’s okay. If weird makes you happy, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you horror movies and books are for freaks. If that’s true, then you’re the best freak out there.

Today, I’m going to be weird. Tomorrow I’ll be even weirder. Because Dad said it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Life vs Art

Warning up front, this may have a couple spoiler-ish tidbits from my second vampire novel, In Too Deep. It’s unavoidable. Why?

I may have accidentally predicted one of the biggest ecological crisis in my lifetime–the California drought.

It sounds nuts. I know. I’ve had my head in the sand for months, looking past the similarities. But the numbers I crunched while plotting ITD–there were ten pages of information gathered about agriculture in Fresno, CA–kept bouncing around my head. See, it’s one thing to watch the news and see that another farmer is selling his property or letting the fruit fall without harvesting or an entire field wiped out because there’s no water. The game changes when you know how many tons of grapes the average farmer grows.

Suddenly trips to the grocery store incur anxiety attacks half a mile from the nearest shopping cart. How much longer until the cost of fresh produce reaches obscene levels? Californians, for the most part, are spoiled with cheap produce prices. We grow it. There’s no huge transportation cost. Our Eden, the security of knowing one can go to the store with $10 and pick up enough fruits/vegetables for at least two meals plus dessert, will vanish soon.

These were the “what if” concerns I chewed over while plotting ITD. I wanted the KGB to attempt something that’d seem insubstantial on the surface–disrupt production produce–but once the numbers came to light, everyone would know just had badly they’d screwed over the United States. Food became the obvious focus because, well . . . food and I are tight. BFFs. I’d take a bullet for food. Well, maybe not really. I expected Meghan to do it for me.

I’m a writer. She’s a CIA agent. Okay, a fictional one, but still . . . .

There’s no sexy, witty redhead to fight this drought, though. She’d have plenty of people to confront about the worsening situation in my home state–from politicians approving horrible water-management policies, to companies schmoozing their way into exceptions to drought protocol. Hell, if my neurotic ass can deal with a dead front lawn in order to save water, they can man up and do their part.

Oddly enough, the plot for the final vampire novel ended up coming true in part, as well. Now, now. I’m not going to let you in on that one just yet.

Hollywood, Just Stop it Already

In the course of an hour, I’ve seen news about two remakes that’ve set my teeth on edge. First Poltergeist, now She’s all That.

Why? Why is this necessary? Poltergeist was a pretty solid movie the first time around. I remember being terrified any time we moved into a new house—being a welfare family, it happened a lot—because I was afraid we’d end up in a place built on a graveyard. There’s no flashy effects like the remake has and what’s there is pretty damned effective. I’ll bet you a turkey sandwich, the CG effects are all the remake has going for it. Sorry, Mr. Rockwell, but you can’t salvage every film.

5985d24fb7640031510cf5b5a2ddc70fAnd now the seriously insulting remake, She’s All That. Yes, I was that chick in school—almost too weird for her own good. Well, then it was a problem. Now, I’ve embraced that shit and dance a tango with it every time I stand. But a huge part of finding confidence in myself came from that damn cheesy as hell teen flick. It’s perfect as-is. Yes, the jokes are dated. It wasn’t made for an iPhone generation. Why does everyone feel we have to turn my generation’s memories into something so dumbed-down, even paramecium brained morons understand the subtle nuances involved in personal growth? To make things worse, this is one of my favorite Paul Walker films, even though he plays a douchebag. The director they’ve attached to this remake hasn’t done thrilling things, and even has another unnecessary and shitty remake in his credits. This film is already on shaky ground. One production company is fielding media questions, apparently ready to start pre-production. The other denies signing any contracts to make this thing happen. I’m hoping it’s all a belated April Fool’s joke.

 

I Need a Second Brain

Things have been a tad . . . hectic in Murphlandia. If you haven’t followed my Twitter account, then you were unaware of my eight-day vacation. Yes, it is as exhausting as it sounds.

However, life waits for no man.

Yesterday was a holiday, so I did take a half day to recover from our travel day. Six hours on Amtrak soaking in the weird existing between Anaheim and our home town. It was informational. At one point, we watched a man in his mid-twenties do his best to polish off an entire case of Corona between Bakersfield and Fresno.

I’m pretty sure I woke up with his hangover.

Which is why moments ago, I tapped my mother on the shoulder and said, “In twenty-five minutes, tell me to go make the pesto for the garlic bread and check the lasagna.” I’m so exhausted, I’m borrowing intelligence from family members just so I remember to feed them food that hasn’t been turned into charcoal.

This isn’t the first time, either. Throughout my life I’ve collected a series of people who, for lack of a better term, speak Née. Occasionally I simply forget how to human and do ridiculous things in order to complete simple tasks. Or I’ll forget everything except my shoe size and last name. It’s normal for me. There’s simply too much going on in my head on these weird days. If I don’t compartmentalize, things get wonky. I get wonky. It isn’t pretty.

That’s where the Née fluent come in handy. Often, the first clue is what background noise I’ve selected. If there’s a marathon of bad television going on, bring caffeine. If I’ve resorted to non-stop musicals and singing at the top of my lungs, be concerned. Find me in the office staring at a wall, I probably haven’t eaten since dinner the night before. Hear me rummaging in my desk for gummy bears, means I skipped lunch to work. These things do happen. Most of the time I’m not actively aware of it or catch it in time to work out of whatever’s consuming my brain.

The secret? I don’t think I’m alone in this. Especially amongst my creative friends. We’re all the type to hyper focus and Just Get It Done. Unfortunately, it doesn’t leave a lot of mind left to do the basics. Hey, most days I applaud if I remember to shower. Everyone else does too. It’s how I pay them back for lending me their brains so often. Everyone wins.

Getting to Know: Jillian

Most readers already met Garik back when they read Enslaved, but this is the first time any of you will meet Jillian Griffin. She thinks of herself as a hotel owner with a past best left behind herway behind her. The incubi see her as something altogether different and wonderful. Let’s see what my associate, Quamaine, can dig up about Jillian before you guys meet her properly in Infliction.

Quamaine: What is your biggest fear?

Jillian: Spiders dressed like clowns. Okay, seriously? Losing the hotel. It’s been an uphill struggle to get where we are, watching it implode would kill me.

Q: What really makes you angry?

J: Not having control. I can deal with just about anything life throws at me—until my hands are tied in some way.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your career?

J: The weird family I’ve built to keep the business running smoothly.

Q: Have you ever had a nickname? What is it?

J: Mom had a boatload of nicknames for me growing up. None of which I wish to hand over to anyone as ammunition.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge?

J: A good night’s rest. Seriously, though, opening Coleridge by myself with a safety net far in my peripheral.

Q: Would you rather trade intelligence for looks or looks for intelligence?

J: I’d trade it all to ensure everyone I care for is happy. Physical appearance doesn’t mean much to me. I mean, it helps, but it’s not everything.

Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of love?

J: I—I can’t answer this one. Let’s move on.

Q: If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

J: Warning — Contents Under Pressure

Q: What is the worst nightmare you have ever had?

J: We shouldn’t dwell on nightmares. They don’t mean anything.

Q: Who knows you the best?

J: My coffee pot.

Q: Do you see yourself doing something very different five, ten years from now?

J: Professionally, I’d like to see Coleridge doing well enough, I can open a second hotel in the city. Personally, I’m not one to count chickens before they hatch any more. Living to see tomorrow is always my goal.

Make sure you’ve read Enslaved before Infliction makes its way into our realm. 91XY8KqUEdL._SL1500_

Author Wishlist

We all do it, even those of us far below the rank of “She Who Has Encourage Fan Art.” Except, I really want fan art for one character in particular.

You guys haven’t met her yet.

Which sucks for me because I don’t want to spoil her for you guys. Just believe me when I say, you’ll fall in love with her the second she steps on stage in Infliction. Well, after you stop saying, “Holy shit.” Because it’s a plot twist I didn’t even see coming. When this awesometastic character gently rapped on my brain’s door to enter the Inbetween world, I thought for sure it was a mistake. Then I saw why she (we’ll call her B from now on) was really there. B ends up being a vital part of this world.

She deserves all your love. I’m exaggerating only a smidgen.

Unlike other characters living in my grey matter, B is fully formed–down to the way her eyelashes sweep together every time she accesses a painful memory. I want to see B face-to-face. Mostly, I want to see how you envision her. Does what I keep in my head while working with her translate? Gods, I hope so. B is by far the most beautiful person I’ve seen.

She’s real, yet not. Now I understand how some writers get far too attached to certain characters. It wasn’t until I met B that I actually hoped someone would attempt to capture her beauty visually. It’s my one author wish for the next year.

Any fellow authors have a similar wish to see how others envision their favorite character?

Getting to Know: Garik

To get you guys excited for Infliction, I’m going to start dropping breadcrumbs as we get closer to the release date. Which I still don’t know for certain, but rest assured, it’s closer than any of us think. These guys are ready to come out and play. For a little refresher, I asked my cohort, Quamaine, to interview Garik. Let you guys get reacquainted with the Inbetween’s smoothest talker. Listening to this man talk makes me blush.

Quamaine: Name a song that describes your life the best.

Garik:This Calling” by All That Remains

Q: What is one of your most painful memories?

G: My first night inside the compound. It was constantly noisy. My brethren appeared and vanished without warning—often mid-conversation. We’d been forbidden to use powers in the nursery—that much I remembered. The rest of it is a vague recalling of what they taught us, but no real memories until the first night I spent as a mature incubus.

Q: How would you change one aspect of your life to make it better?

G: It’s isolating, that’s for sure. We’re constantly surrounded by people, yet never have the time to bond with them—save a few.

Q: So what’s your day job? Does it pay well?

G: An incubus is paid in the sighs of women. It’s incredibly rewarding in its own ways.

Q: Oh, well, there’s that . . . . Now that the cat’s out of the bag, what was the first time like?

G: Terrifying. I’d been amongst the mature incubi for less than an hour. Pain I’d only felt once before—when the bonds were put in place—seared my arms. When I stepped out of the fog, I faced a nude woman. I’d never seen a woman before then.

Q: How would you describe the connection you have with your customers?

G: ‘Customer’ implies payment. My callers shaped the man I am now. Their generosity and trust means the world to me, even if they think I’m a dream.

Q:What is your absolute favorite part of a female?

G: The tremble along her inner thigh at climax.

Q: Have you ever found yourself falling in love with your clients or have feelings of intimacy toward them?

G: I love them all in a way. One can’t help it when they see so far into the soul of a person.

Q: What are the stranger things women have asked you to do?

G: Anything involving feet confuses me. Generally, so long as they’re having a good time, I am too.

Q: Why do you think women summon you?

G: Wolfrik has a theory—each caller’s heart longs for a quality certain incubi possess. I know beauty in ever woman. There are too many who don’t see what’s in the mirror in the morning. I make it easier for them to do that.

Q: Do you see yourself doing something very different five, ten years from now?

G: Deryck and Wolfrik think we’ll find a magic well of women capable of freeing us. I’m a realist. My callers will still see me every night when they lay down their heads. It’s the only truth I can guarantee for the future.

For another refresher on Garik, the gods, and the laws governing the incubi, make sure you’ve reador re-readEnslaved before Infliction is released.91XY8KqUEdL._SL1500_

 

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