Followers of Awesome Writing

Friday, May 29, 2015

Let's Take It Back

So, I have been stewing on this one for a while and just have to get it out there. Mostly this is directed at men, but I hope a broader audience can take something from it too. We have lost something over the last couple of decades guys. We have lost out minds.

I don't mean that we're crazy. I mean that somewhere along the way we lost control of what we are putting in our brains. We used to be proud of what we learned and discerning in our entertainment. Even the guys who picked on nerds would pick up a book once in a while. Where the hell are we now? Not to insult either genre, because there are wonderful works in both that I think everyone should read, but are you really happy reading children's books and young adult novels to your kids or hearing about chicklit plot lines from the women in your life while never filling your head with things that matter to you?

People look at me funny when I say I mostly write for men. Those looks annoy me but they are right to give them. I mean, I have seen it multiple times recently, the studies and surveys. They show how adult males are the least likely to buy a book for themselves, much less read one. Look at the book bloggers, agents and everyone saying they are an avid reader. Their ranks are filled with women and teens because only readers go into that.What happened to us? Boys read, so why do we stop? These studies are used to prove that men don't read, so books aren't published for men.

I think that is false logic. For years the movie studios said people in their late teens through twenties were the ones who watched movies. So, guess what, movies were made only to target that audience, by the major producers anyway. They were wrong. Other demographics wanted to watch movies too. A few years back some movies got released for alternative audience (thank you Sundance for pushing the envelope) and guess what again. They did just fine. The people waiting for their movies went out and saw them and money was made so now you see more experimentation. I think books for men are like this. We don't read because there aren't that many books published for us. How do we fix it? We can't sit back and wait for someone to notice, we have to get noticed.

How are we spending our entertainment time and dollars? Not so long ago it was on magazines targeted at men, and that was fine. At least we had a voice. As more content goes to the internet and becomes free we are losing even that though. So we visit websites, spend annoying amounts of time on social media that usually makes us both depressed and dumber by the second. When we don't? Maybe we watch a movie with almost no plot and lots of special effects. More likely we watch the idiot box.

Even then, do we watch quality programs? Sometimes, maybe, enough of them are surviving that I'm starting to think our tastes are evolving. Mostly though, we watch the most mindless drivel with uninspired plots or no plots at all. When is the last time you made an hour every week to watch a good drama? How much more of your time is spent on mindless sitcoms and programs designed with a a female market in mind because you're watching it with a woman you love and pretending it counts as quality time? Here's a hint, quality time with the TV leads to conversations about the plot and the message, not how cute the stars are or a simple comment of that was good. Even worse, how much time are you spending watching so called reality television? Do we even care that our brains are screaming out in pain and strangling themselves until we can't think anymore? Do we concern ourselves with how little we gain? No, but we have to.

So how do we fix it? Take back your reading! Buy a book for yourself and read it. I don't care if it's in a genre designed for another demographic. I don't care if it's physical or on an e-reader. What I care about is us taking control of our destiny again. Buy some books so those publishing them know we want them again and actually start considering our tastes. Women are such prolific readers they have two fiction genres dedicated to them. It's time we got guy books back. Here's an even better idea than picking up something not published for you though. Pick up a book that matters.

Get something that touches, entertains, and teaches you. Want some suggestions? Sure, I can do that. Pick up a classic and decide for yourself it if's any good. Look in the genres of Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy. There's bound to be something you'll like. If you have older tastes pick up some Bradbury, Orwell, Poe, Shakespeare, Lovecraft or Hemingway. Those men wrote for men. Want something a little more modern? Go check out some Stephen King, George RR Martin, Tom Clancy, Jim Butcher or Clive Barker. Those men do or did write to the male sensibility. I will note, I actually don't like every author I have listed but I respect them and each one appeals to a part of the male mind that wants to be engaged and entertained.

So, go buy a book this week and let them know you're out there.If you don't like any of the authors I've listed find one you do. Better yet, make a difference in someone's life and find and independent or small press author and make the day of a struggling artist a little better. I'm not saying you should buy my book, but you should, (oh come on, you knew I was going there eventually) I am saying to take back your brain. Take back your entertainment. Take back your pride and your power.

As much as I would love your money and your review that is not what this is about. It is about something deeper. I want you to have a voice and to build up synapses that only reading can give you. You know, the ones that are currently firing every once in a while in the dark when you're bored in the seconds before you turn on the television and drown them out? Those ones, they are lonely and abused and they miss their imaginary friends. Even more than that, I want a different reaction next time I query an agent and say my target audience is everyone but mostly men. Instead of the assumed eye roll I want that agent to sit up and take notice. I want them to get excited and think, "Hell yeah! Men read and publishers will be all over this." I want us to be proud again, of being men and of our intellect. I want us to have something to talk about on break beyond which idiot we don't care about got kicked of which show last night.

I want us to make a difference and be proud of it as we rebuild a connected community of readers that we are currently on the outside of. I can't do it alone though. I need your help with this. So, go buy a book this week. Be careful in the choice and buy it only for yourself and the idea of making a difference with your actions. Once you do, don't hide it in the bag like you used to do with your all nude magazines. Walk out or around with it proudly in your hand as you throw away the bag, or better yet go green and tell the attendant you don't need a bag at all. That last assumes you want to make a real difference and went to a real bookstore to make sure they stick around. When someone asks what you're reading, proudly show it to them. When they ask why say it sounded good and suggest they get a copy. Then sit down and read it.

Now, I'm going to go do a little more writing and then read my own current book. Yes, it's by someone on my list above.

#commentary #socialcommentary #thoughts #shamelessselfpromotion #author #writer

Thursday, May 28, 2015

In the Beginning - Brave New World

Part ten, the first nine are below. This one got really dark on me.

Chester closed his hand around the buttons and his eyelids followed. The solid feel of them on his skin was not real, it was the past. He needed the present future of his vision.

The gasp signaling his return filled his lungs burning stale air. Smoke, blood and dirt assaulted his nose in a welcome menagerie. He opened his eyes to the endgame.

How could he have thought the man on the throne was him? Floating in front of and above the figure the idea seemed preposterous. The younger man bore a resemblance, enough for Chester to realize it was his son. A smile curled his ethereal lips and he mouthed the words, my son.

“Yes father?”

The king, for that was what his boy was, looked haggardly into the older man’s eyes. Chester cast his eyes about. The others focused as they were on their tasks or their leader, not seeing him. His boy had a connection strong enough to overcome different times and dimensions. Chester issued words in a voice more like the preacher than his own.

“This world is yours now, make of it what you will.”

His voice resonated like God, or his messenger. No wonder he sounded like his future father in law. The realization that he was inferior was bad. The reaction from his son was worse.

The boy bared his teeth in a smile savage enough to give death row inmates pause. The flames flickered to match his mood, shadows danced around the chamber. Even in his non-corporeal form, Chester felt a chill as the king uncoiled from his throne to stride forward like the hunter, no, the warrior he was.

“As you say, so it shall be. Vicker, bring me the holy texts!”

Vicker, a name or a title, Chester wondered. There was no time to figure it out though. His firstborn continued in a voice that terrified even a ghost outside of possible harm.

“I will give them war. Until my sisters surrender there will be no peace in this new Eden. Until they bow to me their servants shall perish to superior might.”

Flames of madness lit the young king’s eyes. Chester tried to say that was not what he meant but with spark of violence set to tinder of mind Chester’s speaking part was over.

“We need them though, this much is true. Men! Build out from the entrance. For one yard build breeding fields, only there will there be truce so man and woman can know each other. For a mile beyond build killing fields and man them with soldiers, slaughter any amazon who dares enter so only the strongest breech that barrier and give us the most worthy of sons. Once this is done send killing squads every day into the world. I will fill my planet with corpses until it is once again in my hands. This is the will of God and your king.”

Ejected from his own vision, Chester silently wept as he returned to his body. He heard Nicole end her call. If only the peyote was a hanger.

#shortstory #novel #author #writer #writing #religion #dark

Friday, May 22, 2015

In the Beginning - The Second Sign

So... this is part nine, and it went really weird on me. The previous parts can be found below.

It’s just a little vision quest, she said. Pagans and heathens do it all the time, she said. Easy for her to say, she wasn’t the one going through it. Chester wondered if Adam ever wanted to go Irish husband on Eve as much as he did on Nicole sometimes. He thought about that as he fell.

It wasn’t all that bad really. Chester always wanted to try skydiving. This was like that, but without a parachute so it was a bit like flying. Except, then he remembered he didn’t have wings. So he had that weightless free-fall thing going on and it felt great. He even managed a smile, and to forget how annoyed he was with Nicole, for a minute. Then he remembered that he would regain his weight once the ground involved him in a hit and run accident.

No, he wasn’t flying but there seemed to be a hand guiding him anyway. It wasn’t him, and that loss of control was even worse. He zipped past mountains, cities, and rivers. The air stank of smoke that stung his eyes but through it he could see women in all of the locations he passed. Beautiful warrior women going about their daily tasks. As he came closer to the ground he noticed them noticing him. Each woman looked up with pity in her eyes and a sad smile upon her lips. Where was that coming from, and where were the men?

Chester noticed a yawning chasm in earth even more blackened than the air. Ember red glowed from deep inside what was obviously the sight of a massive explosion or a gaping hole to hell. The hand of fate, or whatever primitive god guided him directed his descent to that cataclysmic portent. Chester held his breath and closed his eyes, as if denial could undo his fate.

He careened down the shaft and found the men in the fortress of dirt at the bottom. They chanted, they chanted his name as they clanged together weapons of war both primitive and modern. Sweat, dirt, and blood soaked these scarred and tattooed men. Chester noted they were half naked and covered in enough leather that should his life actually one day become a holy book hipsters everywhere would take to their blogs to proclaim the obvious homo-erotic subtext had leapt from classics to religion.

Then his flight slowed, his body righted itself. He dropped the last few feet into a golden throne. He looked around and smiled. This is where he should lead the men? This wasn’t so bad after all. He closed his eyes.

He opened them and his hand at the same time to stare at the two remaining peyote buttons in his palm. In the background he heard Nicole. She was on the phone, telling her father how Chester had his vision. It was the second sign, and surely meant she was pregnant with a son. Could the end come soon enough?

#shortstory #novel #author #experimentation #writer #writing

Friday, May 15, 2015

In the Beginning - A Dark and Stormy Night

Part 8, the other bits are below. This one got dark on me fast.

Perhaps Chester’s box got her nostalgic. Nicole sat with her father’s journal in her lap. She decided it was a good night to read the girls a bedtime story. She chose an origin tale from the early days of the prophecy.

The particular page was water stained, rain was the biggest culprit but tears surely played a part in the desecration of what would some day be a holy book. She ran her finger under the spidery script to keep her place, a trick she learned watching her father sermonize. The girls looked on in shock and awe.

“9:00 PM – Just finished setting up camp. We have been planning this trip for months and just today mom decided to try and ruin it. On my way out the door with my duffel over my shoulder she told me to be careful. Like she had to remind me it is the anniversary. Part of the point of this excursion is to get my mind off of Michael’s death.

“He was the strong one. So brave and sure, my older brother, set to blaze a trail into the unknown. His faith was so strong he became convinced God would send him visions. Towards the end he even glimpsed the edges of them. So when they found him carved up on a gravestone it shattered us. Two years ago and the police don’t have any leads. The blasphemous markings in his flesh don’t even help. They say they don’t look like any particular group’s signs. How wild do you have to be to kill? How can I tell mom I don’t want to take his place in the church? I need to stop thinking about this. I’m going to find my girl and forget this for a while.”

Nicole was sure salt water joined the fresh in the next paragraph. Where the letters spiked and the hand holding the pen grew unsteady. It was hard to read. It must have been harder to write.

“10:00 PM – Now I know why Sam came along. Three’s a crowd they say. What she said hurts more though. She said she was saving herself for our wedding night. She said we had something special and there was no reason to rush things. That lying bitch! I wonder how unspecial the thing she has going on with my buddy is. They didn’t see me, but I saw them. I heard them too. I need to take drastic measures. I hear Michael telling me what to do.”

The next bit held pinkish tint. Nicole could almost see the fingerprints. Thank everything holy the cops had never seen this book. The writing became blocky, losing that artistic and airy script the pages before contained.

“10:30 PM – I have glimpsed the prophecy in my time away. I know now that man’s time ruling the world is over. It is women that control and we must accept that. My Lord visited me and told me we must serve until we prove ourselves again. The world may burn in our quest for a new Eden. If it does none of us are strong enough to live there. If we follow the hallowed path though, some of us will survive to build something better.

“I must go now. Screams still fill my ears and there is business to attend to. First I must dig a hole in an out of the way place. This rain will not help with that. Then I need to get to know my future wife. I guess our wedding night won’t be so special after all.”

As she closed the book, Nicole smiled. Let the girls dream on that. Their strength came in truth, only men grew strong in denial. As for her, she knew now why her mother had always been so obedient. Sometimes faith required sacrifice.

#shortstory #novel #author #dark #writer #writing

Friday, May 8, 2015

In the Beginning - Musical Interlude

Part seven of the ongoing saga and I'm not sure where some of this is coming from. You can find the earlier bits down below.

Caught between the priest and the preacher, Jack wasn’t sure which side was right. His initial surveillance showed nothing technically illegal but the gaggle of girls in the house spoke of a possible cult. At the very least it seemed to be the type of commune the hippies used to set up.

He discreetly took the information to some of his old cop shop contacts. They agreed no action could be taken, yet. The intel and the work impressed his old boss though. He had a standing offer to return to active duty. A detective’s badge tempted him, the steady income even more so. He needed to think about it, so he ended up and McClarren’s, a cop bar. Wouldn’t you know it happened to be on karaoke night? He hoped his poor ears would forgive him.

As he considered, he drank.  As old friends swung by to shake his hand and urge him to take up the cause again, he drank. When women who enjoyed the rugged, slightly dangerous look about him flirted, he drank. Soon enough he was two and a half sheets to the wind. Not quite blitzed but getting there. He was out of his comfort zone, but with one, about to be two ways back in.

Normally Jack reserved his gruff voice for the shower, his only audience the bar of Irish Spring and dollar store bottle of shampoo. That night though, the music moved him almost as much as his maudlin mood did. He filled out a slip and waited for the nondescript man running the show to call his name.

As a tribe cops have depressing taste in music. So the song he chose fit nicely. An old love song with a tragic story. His favorite song because at his core, Jack was still a cop. With no shame he got up and growled out the lyrics in tones fit to do any honky-tonk bound country singer proud.

Somewhere in the middle of the song a voice joined his, harmonizing, adding a poetic beauty one voice alone could not create. Jack looked for his duet partner, falling in love with the voice alone. A distant smile graced his lips as his eyes continued to search. By the end of the song he knew his own mind.

As the last chords faded to nothing Jack finally found the source of the voice. Neither the priest, nor the preacher’s prophecy could accept a man like him. The force had a hard enough time with it, but they were coming around quicker than any church. He would take up that badge. That was for tomorrow though. Tonight he wanted to buy the owner of that shaggy black beard a drink and see if partner could describe them when singing was not prepended to it.

#shortstory #novel #author #love #religion #socialcommentary #author #writer