All posts by Rob

I'm the horror author of This Plague of Days, the zombie apocalypse serial with an autistic hero. I've also written crime novels, poetry, short story collections and non-fiction about writing, publishing and marketing. I'm nice.

Writing Music & Workout Music Braingasms

(And by writing music, I mean music to write to.)

I’m on hiatus from one of my jobs and my other work is slow this week. Concentrating on publishing since I have so many manuscripts banked. I’m going to be be doing more book and life updates here, so don’t forget to subscribe, please.

I’m aiming to finish revisions on the next book in the Ghosts & Demons Series (which will all be rebranded The Dimension Wars.) Long story for another post.  What’s much fun is discovering new music for the soundtrack of my life.
I can get a lot done with various versions of Mission Impossible playing constantly. For working out, the soundtrack to Suicide Squad is damn cool even if you didn’t like the movie. (I did.) Try Work This Body by Walk the Moon, too.

For writing, I’ve discovered some songs that are new to me but are a lot of fun. Sweep the Leg from No More Kings is fun, especially if you, like me,  can’t let go of the movie The Karate Kid.  I’m also a new fan of Jim’s Big Ego. The Ballad of Barry Allen is a haunting take on the Flash. Stress is hilarious and true and I love Jonathan Coulton’s Code Monkey. The clever but yearning tone reminds me of Hackensack by Fountains of Wayne.

Check ’em out. I’m sure you’ll find something to tickle your ear bones.

#Chazziness

Music in the video kicks in at 3:01.

What did you do during the war, daddy?

We’ve only got a few months left in 2016. I was about to say that I can’t wait for this year to be over, but 2017 isn’t any more promising. Tragic events, paranoia and hysteria aren’t confined by the calendar. We create those things by the things we think and say and do. Still, 2016 feels like a pivotal year. When we look back, we’re going to say, this was one year that sucked hard. Our kids will ask, what did you do? How did you vote? This is our collective, “What did you do during the war, daddy?” moment.

A bunch of people in the States decided that going to a public bathroom was suddenly a huge risk. The hysteria around who got to go to which bathroom was a bridge too far for me. The fact that slimy Ted Cruz was the closest alternative to Trump was a disgrace. Fear, it seems, is the only policy the Right has to offer. They’re quick to say what they hate but have no positive policy suggestions. They don’t want to govern. They want to obstruct, as we say in Canada, peace, order and good government.

A lot of people talk tough, but it seems that those who talk toughest are the most fearful. Shit your pants isn’t a foreign policy. You can’t defeat ISIS by denying immigration to victims of ISIS. A plethora of problems went from simmer to boil this year and, at the root of it all, is a lack of compassion. We’re too eager to make enemies and we undervalue our friends. (Like friends in NATO, for instance.)

My books are not overtly political. I write suspenseful fiction. I don’t set out to piss anybody off. My stories entertain and occasionally, if it serves the story, I will reference real world events. I wish we had respected writers rising  to lead. I so miss Kurt Vonnegut. I’m sure he’d have a lot to say right now. Likewise comedians like Bill Hicks and George Carlin. I wish Jon Stewart was still helming The Daily Show so we’d have more trenchant commentary that entertained as well as informed. Jon Oliver is doing a good job, at least.

It’s past time I took off my fiction hat on this topic. I was a journalist long before I was a novelist. However, I’m not writing today in either of those capacities. I’m writing as a citizen of the planet. Many writer friends won’t say anything political for fear of offending readers. I respect their choice but, to me, recognizing the threat to the world is more important than a few lost book sales. Maybe my voice adds nothing to the din but staying silent feels wrong.

Trump is a racist. White supremacists love him. I cringe every time he says something about what’s good for, “the Blacks.” A guy who didn’t want African Americans in his apartment buildings isn’t out to serve minority communities. Remember, this is the same guy who said he’d never employ a black accountant because they’re lazy. Stop. Just stop the hateful drivel.

He’s also a dangerous narcissist who knows too little about governing. With his history, he’s a terrible candidate and everybody knows it. (Check out Trumpcast if you need further convincing.) Barring an huge implosion on the Left, he can’t win. He can do a lot of damage on the way out of his publicity stunt and his most devout followers will be sore losers. Hillary is not a great candidate. She has many flaws but she’s far better than the orange alternative. 

The outrage here is that, though Paul Ryan has admitted Trump’s statements (with regard to the Mexican American judge) were racist, the Speaker of the House still supports Trump. Remember when John McCain’s campaign slogan was, “Country first”? The bulk of the Republican establishment is putting party before country. Trump would be a disastrous president. He’s already savaged the Republican brand for years to come.

Perhaps worse, the fifth estate is doing a terrible job. Most media continues to grade Trump on a curve. For better coverage, stay away from Breitbart. You’re better off listening to The Young Turks

People say they like that Trump means what he says. Unless he says something outrageous, racist, Putin-loving, disrespectful or downright dumb. Then he doesn’t mean it. The guy who is famous for, “You’re fired!” is going to employ everybody…somehow. But he’s not the people’s billionaire. If you don’t get a job during the Trump presidency, he’ll blame you and call you a loser.

Plus, he’ll build a wall instead of funding schools or fighting cancer. He claims he would build up a military that’s already the largest and best in the world by far. He’s reckless with NATO and has demonstrated eagerness to use nuclear weapons. He’s convinced some people that Obama is a secret Kenyan and has a terrible record with women and various minorities. He’s petty and thin-skinned. He sues people and is sued constantly. He doesn’t care for freedom of speech, especially when anyone dares to criticize him for anything.

Trump is the Fear Monger in Chief. It would be bad for the United States and the world if he becomes Commander in Chief. I can’t vote against him. I’m in Canada. However, the damage he would do to America and the world would certainly affect me. Few of us would be untouched by his incompetence. I encourage all my American friends: you don’t have to like Hillary Clinton but please vote against Donald J. Trump. He’s a con man and an embarrassment to your great country. 

Trump would not make America great again. Trump is clown shoes. Pure clown shoes. The world is watching and we’re holding our breath.

Note to Hillary Clinton: Give straight answers. Stop sounding so damn cautious and lawyerly. Don’t fuck this up. The social democratic revolution in politics I hoped for was Bernie’s vision but I’ll still be relieved when you’re in and Trump is out.

Then, Madame President, maybe you can start working on repairing the damage Clown Shoes has already done.

~ We now return to our regularly scheduled apolitical nonsense.

Just have to get this off my chest so it won’t clog the aorta.

Lowe’s will repair the crappy lawn trimmer they sold me not so long ago, but I can’t return it. They won’t refund it for store credit. Nada. Even if it’s fixed, it still sucks so, no thanks. Trash it. I stalk out, annoyed but I’ve learned my lesson: never shop at Lowe’s again. Got it!
 
Resolving to begin anew, off to Home Depot where it’s already Halloween AND snowblower season. Great. (Mental note: Sell more books. Move where there are palm trees ASAP.)
 
Poke around. Look at lawn trimmers cordless, gas and cordful. I want an easy peasy auto-fill bump cartridge this time because the last trimmer from Lowe’s made me consider crying. As I tried to fix the wire cartridge, I considered spewing big hot baby tears for a solid fifteen minutes. A heart attack is the more manly option but in the end I surfed Netflix and sulked.
 

“Onward! Let’s let go of the past and buy a new trimmer!” he said, like an idiot.

No staff in sight in the confusing ordeal of a labyrinth that is Home Depot. I finally find the trimmers. Lots of options. Too many. The vast selection of this array is dizzying and it looks like they don’t have the refill cartridges I might need.

I talk to another customer who has been on the  hunt for a trimmer longer than me. It’s a big debate for him, too. Still no staff to answer two questions (because I really don’t want to buy another shitty trimmer.) Patience starts to fade and we’re losing daylight. The shadows are growing long and deep as tumbleweeds tumble past the Halloween witch display.

Other customer gives up. Via con dios, brother. You are wiser than me. Intrepid and clutching my waning optimism, I go to an info desk and ask for assistance. The woman behind the desk gives me a sneer and puts my request over the speaker. It seemed like such a reasonable request at the time.
 
I return to the trimmer section to await satisfaction. I wait a while. Time passes. I decide it’s been longer than one while. This is at least two or three whiles. Still nothing.
 

Big breath. The customer who abandoned his quest for a trimmer wanders by again, shaking his head with pity. He’ll go home and see his family tonight. Me? I’m determined. Stupid, stupid and determined.

Back to the same desk with the same woman behind the counter. She and another staffer are helping the guy in front of me. By that I mean the other staffer is talking to the guy and she’s watching, kind of like how cows chew the cud while gazing at passing traffic.

I finally catch her eye by jumping up and down. Same polite request for assistance with the goddamn trimmer. I have money. Please help me give it to you! But I don’t say anything mean because…I’m not sure now. I’m kind to waiters and waitresses because I like spit-free food. At Home Depot, I suppose the worst they can do to me is what they’re already doing. 

What infuriates me most is that the cud chewer takes my second request like she’s never seen me before. In fairness, eons have passed since my first request for help. Am I in hardware hell? In which circle of Dante’s Inferno does a sinner turn invisible? Oh, right. The lawn trimmer circle.

I stalk back to the trimmer section. Last week at the mall I thought everyone was staring at me. (I suspect it’s the chain wallet. They’re staring at my chain wallet, right?) But at Home Depot, I can’t get arrested. As I await some helpful staff member in pumpkin orange, I start to think about what I could do at Home Depot to get arrested. The chain saws are, like, right over there, man.

Anyway, no staff even wander by for me to flag down. No one answers the second call from the desk. I consider cutting myself with a snowblower blade but if I change my mind mid-suicide, there surely won’t be any help on the way for jets of hot pumping blood, either.

I look around. Other customers are wandering around, guileless of what I am about to unleash on this store. Rending my clothes, certainly. Tantrums and tears. Vitriol and shouting that sends innocent families scurrying for the exits. Authorities will be called. But they won’t find me. I’m the invisible man in the lawn trimming section of Home Depot. If you ever want to disappear, this is place is the shit.

I look at the trimmers again. If I knew this was all self-serve when I walked in, I’d be home by now. Then it occurs to me that, since my entry, this is all probably outdated lawn care technology. I should wait for the laser lawn trimmer so there’s no fussing with bullshit tangles of nylon string.
 
Time to make like Detroit and give up. Like a good Canadian, I almost put the two trimmers I was considering back on the shelf. Then I decide to have some goddamn dignity and slap myself across the face hard. I don’t need a trimmer this bad. No one needs a lawn trimmer this bad. When I came into this store I didn’t need a shave. Now I need a shave and whiskey.
 
Must I move where there are no lawns?  Failing that, do I dare the gauntlet of Home Hardware tomorrow? I don’t know if I’m up to a third hardware store in two days. I might take hostages. And still, no one will come.

Time travel: a suicidal comedian, a crazed savant and Kurt Vonnegut walk into a bar…

Wallflower (Medium)

Ray Bradley wanted to be a big deal in Hollywood. When that didn’t work out, he resorted to suicide. Now the beautiful music only Ray can hear won’t go away, his wife’s on the way out and trouble’s bubbling behind the walls.

On a strange and hilarious journey, Ray discovers secrets to time travel. The boundaries separating dimensions crumble as a capricious God of Time plays dice with the universe. The fate of the multiverse depends on an ordinary guy, a crazed genius and Kurt Vonnegut.

Wallflower is a thought-provoking and unique time travel story with heart, humanism and twists you’ll love.

For your complementary digital copy of The Haunting Lessons, sign up when the blue box appears.

MANNY KILLS MONSTERS FREE EBOOK In The Haunting Lessons, Tamara Smythe is a girl from Iowa who, amid tragedy, discovers how special she is. To normal people, “special” sure looks like crazy. Naturally, she runs away to New York and into the sharp teeth of destiny, secret armies, blessed blades and monsters invading New York. You’re going to love the Ghosts and Demons Series and Tam’s greatest friend, Manhattan.

The Haunting Lessons is Book One, followed by The End of the World As I Know It and Fierce Lessons. Enjoy the ride and your complementary digital copy of The Haunting Lessons.

I’m building my email list. All I need is your email address so I can let you know about new developments with my series. Be assured, I won’t bother you too often or sell the list to a cult or anything crazy and you can opt out at any time. Thanks! 

My new cover for Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes

Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes is about a young criminal (me) who returns to New York looking for escape and a second chance. You know what? NYC is pretty unforgiving. Ex-girlfriends and angry brothers weren’t pleased about my return, either. The quest for cash and a new life keeps the plot moving fast. Jump in. You’ll love the ride.

INTENSE VIOLENCE BIZARRE THEMES (Small)

Thanks to Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com for another great design.

#Free #SF ends tonight: Last chance at grabbing Metal Immortal

Metal Immortal (Small)
Military SF that will make you think of War of the Worlds. You’ll also eye your computer nervously.

Machines Dream of Metal Gods (Medium)

This is an interconnected series, so you can buy the first three novellas and read them as stand-alones. In Book 4, Metal Forever, the survivors of Books 1 – 3 meet to join the epic battle to save the human race. The solutions are always unexpected. Come for the jokes. Stay for the adventure.ROBOTS VERSUS HUMANS (Large) 2