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Fandomania Tomorrow!

When I bought my little Ford Focus hatchback, I had the dealer drive the thing out to my house to make sure that my convention crate would fit in the trunk.

Alyssa and I are packed for Fandomania tomorrow. My crate plus two ancillary boxes and the book stand fit perfectly without obscuring the rear view.

Once we add all of Alyssa’s art and stands and stuff, I had to move the seats up and remove the package rack. Oh well.

Anyway, tomorrow is the early release party for my young adult novel at Fandomania hosted by the town of Prescott Valley and the Prescott Valley Public Library.

There will be twenty special edition paperbacks with the Fandomania logo. Also, there will be panels, D&D events, escape rooms and fun for the kiddies in the climate-controlled Findlay Toyota Center.

See you there!


Three Weeks until Fandomania!

Fandomania is in three weeks! (August 14th) This will be the launch party for Mental State, which is available worldwide three days later on August 17th. Alyssa will be there selling art and judging the cosplay contest. I’ll be selling Erika and my books, including twenty special edition numbered paperbacks of Mental State. Admission is free, and this year it’s being held at the Prescott Valley Findlay Center in the entertainment district.


The debate rages on

It’s the last day of March, and I haven’t posted anything this month. I guess if I’m gonna do it, I’d better REALLY do it. Fasten your seat belts, we’re off…

Some people will skim this and make their own decisions about who I am as a person. They will draw unfounded conclusions about me based on scant data. The digital vaccine passport is the latest buzz topic. I’ve seen well-thought criticisms and reasoned arguments for and against be reduced to replies such as “you’re and idiot.” While these attacks against discourse reveal more about the attacker than they do about the attacked, there is nonetheless public discourse about the topic.

From what I can see, there is really only one argument against the digital vaccine passport. It’s the same argument that has plagued modern society for generations: balancing the potential health benefits of legislation versus the problematic limiting of personal freedom. That pretty much encapsulates the arguments. Some will characterize voiced concerns as a desperate attempt of ideologs clinging to their backward belief system in a futile attempt to prevent the world from progressing. These people would equate racism, bigotry, sexism, and hatred to the vaccine discussion and minimize the debate.

Political ideology is the new religion (I know, this has been said before and decades ago). Misinformation is the tool and trade of the oppressor. The oppressor holds firm to no one ideology, religion, or political affiliation. They hold firm to one thing only: power. They wish to consolidate and preserve power. Sometimes this is via wealth. Sometimes this is via cancel culture. The methodology may be different, but the result is always the same: to oppress others.

Let’s get a few things straight. Vaccine passports are nothing new. Many countries require vaccines and proof of vaccine to gain entry. Let’s also touch on the ideological aspect of this: Airlines, restaurants, grocery stores, and theme parks are private entities. In the United States, they reserve the right to refuse service or entry based on anything not protected by legislation. Most employment is regulated as an at-will agreement (no one is forced to provide notice before quitting, and no one is forced to employ someone they don’t want to except for legislative protected reasons).

I see that you’re nodding along. Yeah, most people do agree with this until it directly affects their personal freedoms. Debating public good versus personal freedom is not the point of this post. Some of you are also nodding your head and have made a conclusion about my political affiliation or ideology—Stop. Don’t do that. I will tell you about my political affiliation and ideology—it may or may not surprise you.

I am a pretty staunch libertarian, but I’ve run for office as a Republican. I attend a graduate liberal arts college, but I’ve had a long career in conservative radio broadcasting. What? You thought that I was just an author? I’m afraid not. I, like most humans, am many things. I’m an artist. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m an educator. I’m an activist. Wasn’t it Meredith Brooks popularized by Alanis Morissette who said, “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover. I’m a child, I’m a mother. I’m a sinner, I’m a saint. I do not feel ashamed. I’m your hell, I’m your dream. I’m nothing in between. You know you wouldn’t want it any other way”? Yep, I just quoted song lyrics. The point is that there is no single way to describe me. Just because I believe in one way about one particular topic, doesn’t mean that you can generalize how I might feel about another topic. And quite frankly if you do, that’s damned offensive. Never in the history of humankind has stereotyping ever been a force for good.

The problem we have in modern society is absolutist practicum. The idea that there is only a for and against argument for any one topic or dilemma. If someone is against the COVID-19 vaccine, then they must be for everyone dying of pestilence. This strawman argument has no business in this discussion and is a frequent tool of the oppressor. I don’t fly since the events of 9/11 not because I’m mad with the surrendering of personal rights and the utter lack of effectiveness of the TSA, but because flying is damned expensive.

I’m opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine not just because forcing it on a population is a gross violation of personal rights, but because I have underlying health concerns. And who are you to criticize me for being cautious about taking a vaccine that has no history of effectiveness against a virus that has a 1.8% mortality rate in the United States? (Johns Hopkins 2021) Some of you have dismissed me as a crackpot. I imagine some of you are calling me an anti-vaxxer. Once again, absolutist practicum. Just because I question or criticize the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t mean I’m against all vaccines. I’ve had discussions with my hematologist, oncologist, and my primary care physician about the COVID-19 vaccine. The opposite is also true, just because someone chooses to get the COVID-19 vaccine, doesn’t make them “sheeple.” There are a variety of reasons why someone would be eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine, just as there are a variety of reasons not to do so. Attacking people based on their decision helps no one and doesn’t further the discussion in any way. All it does is reinforce ideology and turn people who may have been influenced one way or the another into extremists.

When we minimize a person’s discourse on not just COVID-19 vaccines but any topic, we minimize their voice. When we minimize someone’s voice, we minimize ourselves and our ability to empathize. And let’s face it, our planet is plagued enough by apathy and selfishness. Bigotry and hatred. Intolerance and injustice. The various -isms that are hot topics in academia and the world at large. As someone smarter than I am once said, “try to be a fountain, not a drain.”


What’s a VCR? a.k.a. Dreams Are Weird

There isn’t anything new to report on the writing front. No upcoming appearances due to COVID cancellations. I’m still working on my YA novel for my graduate degree. My family’s is doing fine. Nothing to really blog about—except the weird dream I had last night…

Erika and I were in high-end VCR sales. Like high end for the 1990s—nothing less than $250, and the pièce de résistance costing a cool $999. The shop was an artisanal boutique—think PKD’s The Man in the High Castle character Robert Childan, as played by Brennan Brown. Anyway, Erika and I wined and dined clients interested in purchasing a VCR at high-end eating establishments. The actual store itself was virtually identical to a franchise RadioShack I worked at in the late 90s and early 00s. (That RadioShack even had an expensive eatery a few doors down.) I told you: dreams are weird.

Anyway, Erika and I were the regional sales leaders. Unlike the RadioShack I worked at in rural Arizona, this shop was more like Robert Childan’s Americana. As I recall the dream, I think it was a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (one of the places I lived at as a child). Erika and I won a regional sales contest, and the prize was a trip to a certain California amusement park. You know, the one that’s only a 6.5-hour drive from my house. The one owned by the company that is the singular cause and benefactor of the shambles that is US copyright law.

The amusement park wasn’t the mecca to capitalism that I’ve been forced to endure for the last twenty years (Erika is a superfan, and I have three children), it was a cross between that and a 1990s version of Kennywood or Cedar Point, but like the VCR shop, the amusement park was in a suburb of Pittsburgh or Chicago (there was a Harold’s Chicken Shack and an Eat’n Park outside the gates). The dream fades as dreams do, but for some reason, Erika and I were separated. We were supposed to meet back at our hotel—which was the doppelgänger of the Hilton Garden Grove (CA), but more like the Royal Sonesta Portland (OR) with the urban façade, bird motif and casual music events. My favorite manager from the Hilton Garden Grove was managing this dream hotel.

Somehow, I’m not sure how, I lost my smart watch at the park, and ended up taking the subway back to the hotel—a reminder of a hotel I stayed at when doing Phoenix Comicon years ago. I don’t know the disposition of my watch, or if I ever reconnected with Erika because I woke up. (Or if I got any amazing cookies like from the Hilton Garden Grove.) That’s it—that’s the end of my dream narration. Did I say that dreams are weird?

I told Erika about my dream in response to her telling me that she had a weird dream. I started out, “So, we were high-end VCR salesmen.” She replied, “What’s a VCR?” I won’t bang a drum to “kids these days” not knowing technology like a landline or a VCR or a cassette tape. My oldest is a Millennial, and he knows what each of these technologies is, but there is definitely a disconnect there. But Erika was born in [REDACTED], and her first gaming system was a Nintendo. In fact, her Super Nintendo is in a box in the garage with my Super Nintendo. Plus, when she was a child in the 80s or 90s, her parents owned a video rental store.

I just kind of looked at her incredulously and replied, “You know, tapes, Blockbuster…”

“Oh,” she responded, “I thought you meant some sort of virtual reality thing. High-end VCRs, huh?”

I nodded.

She returned my nod. “Yeah, dreams are weird.”


It’s been a While

Hey, everyone! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

2020 kicked everyone’s asses. Mine included. I’m on my last semester at Prescott College and I expect to graduate with my Master’s in May. A discussion board post for class reminded me that I haven’t posted for quite a while. A few things are happening here. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been in a funk for a few years, and quarantine didn’t do me any favors. I hope to have a few posts up soon and update this dusty blog. I didn’t meet my 2020 reading goal, but it’s a tradition that I post a year in reading review. I’ve also got some news on a few writing commitments to share. I’ll probably blah blah blah about my garden, so that’s only a month or so away. I hope to be posting about appearances for 2021. Until next time, Salud!


Hiatus and Other Hspprnings

Hey, everyone! I’ve already mentioned my 2020 hiatus on Twitter, and an interview back in November, but I didn’t post about it here. So, here it is: I’m working on my Master’s degree this year, and it’s back-to-back-to-back studying, essays, meetings, etc. I’ve only got two appearances this year: Fandomania in August, and The Verde Expo in March.

Now, The Verde Expo has been traditionally when my next murder mystery would release, but the series contract with Amber Cove wasn’t renewed, so there won’t be a new book for 2020. I have rough drafts of two more novels, and a mental outline of a third. I expect to have the next adventure of Caroline Collins and Tupper Jones out in 2021, most likely at the Verde Expo. I’ll do some shopping of the series, but if I get no takers, I’ll self-publish.

Mental State is still in rough draft, and that could see a fall release in 2021. The next War of the Worlds novel is still looking like a 2023 release after contracts expire. Other things on my “future” plate are another Clockwork Tales with D. Paul Angel. That project is something that I can work on between semesters, so as soon as DPA and I get more going, I’ll let you all know.


Save 50% on Diane Duane’s ebooks and help save Diane Duane’s home

I’ve written a number of times about the occasional ebook sales Diane Duane runs on her self-owned ebook store, but this one has a special urgency. A series of medical expenses and lower-than-expected royalty payments have put Duane and her husband, Peter Morwood, in danger of losing the home where they’ve lived for the last twenty years.

To raise some money, Duane has slashed prices by 50% on Ebooks Direct, the ebook store she runs for the books to which she and her husband have the ebook rights. All titles are DRM-free and multiformat, and include the guarantee that if you ever lose the ebook files, they’ll replace them free.

There are some great books there—the Young Wizards New Millennium Editions, Feline Wizardry trilogy, and associated Young Wizards novellas, the Tale of the Five, and many more. If you haven’t read them yet, this would be a great…

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Mourning the Trilogy by Adan Ramie (plus a FREE e-book!)

Women and Words

Happy Sunday! Today we’re joined by author Adan Ramie. She recently released the third book in her Deviant Behaviors trilogy, Eager Observer. To celebrate, she’s giving away an e-book copy to one lucky reader. Drop a comment in the space below and we’ll draw the winner on Friday, October 6.

Good luck!


Letting go is the hardest part of a writer’s life.

This month marked a turning point in my career. After six years, my suspense trilogy, Deviant Behaviors, has come to an end, and I’m faced with a huge loss. Not only do I have to say goodbye to something I spent countless hours on, I have to say goodbye to all the characters who became like family to me.

Characters Become Friends

Once upon a time, I was a naive short story writer with aspirations to become a novelist and a strange, disjointed story idea brewing…

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Is Playster Rejecting LGBT+ Books?

Censorship is alive and well in the 21st century.

The Active Voice

PlaysterValuesLike many indie authors, I distribute my books to some retail platforms through Draft2Digital, a company I’ve always found to be competent, responsive, and trustworthy. At some point in the fairly recent past, D2D added Playster to its roster of retail platforms. Playster is a digital entertainment subscription service that includes ebooks, similar to Scribd, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, and the now-defunct Oyster: for $9.95 a month, you can access what Playster advertises as a library of more than 250,000 “premium titles” — “the world’s only truly unlimited ebook service” (source).

Playster’s site is full of the rhetoric of freedom and limitlessness — attempts, I assume, to play off the name of Amazon’s program while distinguishing itself from Scribd, which restricts borrowing within certain genres. Just a sampling: “Entertainment Unlimited is about freedom of choice, and that’s what we’re giving you with Playster” (source); “The best…

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Your Depression Doesn’t Care

Being a writer in the information age has resulted in many micro-communities for writers. Personally, I prefer Wattpad & Writer’s Cafe. When one of our own, especially one of them young whippersnappers passes, it’s a reminder that we are all human. (Except for Felix R. Savage, I suspect he’s a sentient drinks machine.) We have the ability to connect with any other human on the planet instantly. That can take the form of a funny Facebook post. Re-tweeting that review that made our day. Doing whatever it is that people use Instagram for. We get to see art as it’s created.

Unfortunately, too many creatives end up taking their own lives. Each time it happens, it’s a sad reminder that many artists, including authors, battle mental health issues and that the act of writing is a solitary one. Many, many wonderful people have harmed themselves because they believe that they are the only one who suffers, and that they have to suffer alone. I wish that I could tell each and every one of them that they are most definitely not alone. My own battle with depression was one of the factors that led me to get my undergraduate degree in human behavior. Understanding depression has helped me a lot, but even with the knowledge, and the ability, once licensed, to practice as a mental health professional, I still suffer. I still have to fight against depression.

My depression doesn’t care.

I know, cerebrally, that depression is a thing. I know that I can be affected by what I eat, how much sleep I get, and how active I am throughout the day. I know that when the constant barrage of bad news on the television and on my Twitter feed gets me bummed out, I’ve gotta shut that noise down. I know that that dream last night about being a failure as a writer is just my insecurity going whack on my subconscious. I know I have many friends, family, and fans that for some reason adore me.

My depression doesn’t care.

I use the tools I’ve learned while getting my human behavior degree. I talk to other creatives, and we bolster each other with positive reinforcement. I joke about the pratfalls of being a hybrid author. (Except that I am totally going to self-publish a book of rejections once I have 300 pages worth.) I talk to those that sat next to me in class after class, and have moved on to their own mental health careers.

My depression doesn’t care.

See, that’s the thing with depression, and other mental health issues: It defies logic and experience. I’ve heard so many first-hand retellings of other author’s battles with mental health. We all deal with it. Some better than others. Some have networks to help them over the lows, and cheer the highs. But the take-away is that we all deal with it.

Your depression doesn’t care.

But I do. I care that there are people out there that suffer from mental health issues. If you’re suffering from depression, please remember that many have walked the path you see laid out before you. I have walked the path laid out before you. Amateurs, mid-listers, hybrid authors, and mega New York Times best sellers have all at one time walked the path laid out before you. Your demons are not that unique. The flavor might be different, but in the end, it’s very much the same.

Mark Gardner cares.

I would be some kind of nincompoop if I thought that I was the only one who cared. You have people who care about you and your well-being. Ignore that voice in the back of your head that tells you otherwise. If you’re suffering from depression, reach out to someone. If you subscribe to a particular religion, talk to your clergy. If you’re a veteran, utilize the many resources available to you. If you’re attending a college, university, or even a high school, find a guidance councilor. Cast away the shame of mental illness… That’s the depression going hog-wild on your psyche. There are numerous resources that allow you to remain anonymous. But get help.

Get. Help. Now.

National Suicide Prevention lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Veterans: 1-800-273-8255
MentalHealth.gov: 1‑877‑726‑4727