Saturday, December 28, 2013

Courtroom Scene

  I just watched 'Ambush At Dark Canyon'.  I only appeared once that I saw.  It was in the courtroom scene.  Nonetheless, it was an exciting and memorable experience!  I made some friends that I still have today.  A friend of mine actually has a line in the movie in one of the rock breaking scenes from the prison in Yuma.  He is also in the second movie that I'll be appearing in, 'Hot Bath An' A Stiff Drink 2'.  I've provided for you the movie to watch if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this blog.  It actually was quite an entertaining movie with an engaging story and lots of action.  I was an honor to have met Ernie Hudson, Kix Brooks, Courtney Gains, Ronny James Blevins, Will Shockley, Dustin Rikert and the rest of the people. Here's a freeze-frame from the courtroom scene so that you can see my little contribution.

Zombie Radio

  I was recently asked by Zombie Radio to do an interview on air.  The man who runs the internet radio show is named, Jack Wallen.  He told me that I can call in to his radio show as a character from one of my books.  I decided to call in as Hewlett Fen-Chang, the main character from my second book, 'The Greater Number'.  He and I pontificated back and forth for several minutes and then he played some Led Zeppelin before doing a short bit on his own where he gave us a tip on surviving a zombie attack.  You can catch the entire broadcast here: http://zombieradio.org/?p=488

Friday, December 27, 2013

At Long Last!

  Finally, an opportunity to see the movie that I appear as an extra in!  As you may remember, it's called 'Ambush At Dark Canyon'.  It will be released on DVD in Walmart on January 14th.  It will also have a limited theatrical release.  For now, you can rent it to watch at VUDU.  http://www.walmart.com/ip/31322896

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Klagger Review

  I just became friends with someone on Facebook who is a filmmaker.  He made a short movie called, Klagger, which is available to watch on a website called, Popcorn Horror.  I watched it and it is very well made. It's about eleven and a half minutes long, but still manages to pack in plenty of suspense, creepiness, mystery and genuine fright.  It actually has a story, unlike lots of drivel that comes out these days.  It also manages a twist at the end that I, for one, didn't see coming and I'm usually pretty good at that sort of thing. It's well shot, with nice angles, atmosphere and good music.  I look forward to seeing more from this filmmaker!  You can watch it for yourself at: http://popcornhorror.com/films/klagger/ Enjoy!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Concerts

  I just finished my Choir concert tonight, in which I sang bass.  Tomorrow I have my Orchestra concert, in which I will play timpani and other percussion.  The Choir had a performance earlier this semester.  Here's a review of that concert.  http://anitawritesforyou.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-musical-brightspot-in-tucson-pccs.html  I hope we do well tomorrow night in Orchestra.  Wish us luck!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Paul's Five Spices

  I have a special spice mix that I make up that I use on everything because it's so good!  I start with a container of Chinese Five Spices.  To this, I add one container each of: paprika, chicken-flavored powder, chili powder and butter-flavored powder.  I use a Tupperware container or old Gatorade bottle to put the mix into.  I sprinkle my mix onto popcorn, into soup, on rice, on salad, etc.  I've tried it on so many things and I'm always thinking of new ways to use it.  The main thing I love to do with it is use it as a dry rub on a Cornish game hen before I pop it in the oven at 325 degrees for an hour and ten minutes.  It's kind of a funny coincidence that I mix five spices.  The Chinese Five Spices is the five of five, if you will.  To musicians, that would be the V/V or dominant of the dominant.  Anyway, I hope some of you will like it too!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Rickshaw Pulling Fool

  We just wrapped filming of the Chinatown scenes at Old Tucson Studios for 'Hot Bath An' A Stiff Drink 2' yesterday.  My character was a rickshaw operator.  What that translates into is me being a rickshaw pulling fool for two days straight!  I had to dodge horses, pedestrians, bicycles and wagons while hitting my designated marks.  I noticed that, scene after scene, I was pulling an empty rickshaw.  I approached the director and told him, "This movie is making my rickshaw business look bad.  I never have any passengers." In the very next scene, he chose the lightest looking person from the extras pool to be my passenger.  Yay!
  Yesterday, I had heard that Frankie Muniz from 'Malcolm In The Middle' was on set.  Unfortunately, I was only cast in scenes taking place in "California", while he was in the scenes in "Arizona" (actually, I don't know why I put rabbit ears on Arizona since that's where we really are).  I would love to have met him.  I did see him briefly as he returned to his trailer after filming.  I found out that Alison Eastwood and Robert Patrick are both in this movie as well.  I never saw either.  Oh well, I guess it's like in my last movie where I found out afterward that James Karen from 'Poltergeist' and 'Return of the Living Dead' was in it.  I wish I had met him.  Here's another trailer for the first 'Hot Bath An' A Stiff Drink'. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTH7KH9awlU

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One More Onion Layer Peeled

  I was meditating this morning and I was informed that I've been looking at things backwards.  Usually,  I ask those around me to have patience with me because I am broken.  What has come to me is that everyone is broken in some way and that I am quite impatient with other people.  This lesson has been a long time in coming.  I've been informed that I am finally ready to take this on in my life.  For years now, I've half-heartedly noticed that I get really frustrated with traffic while I'm driving.  I've told myself that I'd like to not be so angry when I drive, but it's never gone any further than that.
  This morning, I was told that this particular thread in the weaving is connected to a much larger picture.  Those of you who know me either personally or through my blog posts, know that I feel myself to be innocent while the rest of the world is full of bad people.  The key to the difference in when I make a bad choice and when someone else does is that I feel as if I accidentally chose poorly while I believe that other people deliberately do "bad" things.  Ever since I was a child, I've always unconsciously categorized people as superior or inferior to me.  Those whom I deemed superior, I would seek out some way in which I could feel superior to them.  This conveniently came in the guise of blame.  I would view them as being mean by choice and convince myself that I am better than they are because I would never do anything "bad" deliberately.
  Most people, non-mean people specifically, were much easier to feel superior to with whatever perceived flaws I could subconsciously take note of.  I've always had a "special place in my heart" for the handicapped, whether mentally or physically.  This may merely be due to the ease of superiority in being around them.  It's easy to stroke my ego by doing something "nice" for someone who would have difficulty doing it for themselves.  It was never a huge sacrifice on my part, just some small effort with a much larger "reward" (ego stroke).
  For me, feeling superior to mean people wasn't good enough.  I had to subconsciously in some way. I'd always some way to screw something up which would affect a "mean" person in some negative way.  I have recently started to take up the mantra that "I am not inferior or superior to anyone.  We are all equal."  This has been helpful mentally, but in my actions, I've not changed a thing.  I was recently asked, "Do you have trouble looking at the ugly parts of yourself?"  When I replied that I did not, the question then came, "What concrete actions have you taken to prove this?"
  The honest answer to that question is that it is only in my mind that I have no problem examining my ugliness.  This is the same with many things I say I believe in.  It is only in my mind because my actions don't reflect my words.  Take all these blog entries for instance.  Every one of them that raises a revelation I've had about myself, ends with some way out of my ugliness.  With all this "wisdom" I seem to spout, why am I still so hurtful to people?  I don't actually live by my words.  That is the very definition of hypocrisy.
  Now, let's get back to my frustration while driving.  I view everyone out there as deliberately sabotaging my smooth ride.  Everything that isn't conducive to me getting from point A to point B in the quickest, easiest manner is seen as an infuriating act of hatred against me.  I therefore feel justified in being hateful and angry in return to these people.  Of course, in being a coward, I never actually do anything.  It's all just yelling, cursing and seething.  To make matters worse, any flaws in my driving are viewed as accidental, thereby exonerating me of any guilt.  This further corroborates my superiority.
  Here is how this relates to my problem with "mean" people.  I never confront any affronts to my person.  If someone behaves disrespectfully to me, I merely shut them out of my life or find some subconscious, passive-aggressive way to get back at them.  If I keep in mind that I am no better or worse than anybody and that we're all trying our best, I won't feel the need to hurt anyone.  Also, if someone does hurt me, I should let them know exactly how they hurt me.  If they care about me, they can then choose to rectify the hurt.  If I don't confront them, they might never know how they hurt me and will just wonder why I'm either ignoring them or subconsciously hurting them.
  The ones closest to me are the ones I have the most trouble with confronting.  I must first feel that I am their equal, then as an equal, share with them my concerns.  If I view them as inferior to me, I will not see them as caring to or being capable of helping the situation.  If I view them as superior to me, I will subconsciously believe that they deliberately hurt me, and why would someone who did something on purpose try to rectify?  People left and right are losing my trust and respect without them or me even knowing it.  If I don't know I don't respect or trust someone, of course I'll do things to them disrespectfully without knowing it.
  Self-love is the key to undoing this horrible mess I'm in.  These patterns started when I was a child, in reaction to treatment from bullies and my parents.  If I had loved myself enough to stand up for myself back then, I wouldn't have developed these coping mechanisms which are hopelessly outdated in my life right now.  Even back then, they were not the healthy way of dealing with the pain.  I never actually allowed myself to feel the pain.  This sort of lifestyle might very well lead to me being completely alone because I don't know how to interact with people in meaningful ways.  I'll certainly be left with nothing but myself and my pain.  Perhaps I'll feel it then.  I should visualize what that would feel like so that I can put a fire under my butt to figure out a way out of my problems without losing everyone who is important to me.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Moments of Weakness

  I seem to post a lot about emotional and mental problems that I think I have.  I'm coming to a new place in my life where I no longer believe in them.  I think that a lot of what I think is wrong with me are just excuses I use to allow myself moments of weakness without accountability or responsibility. I realize that that line of reasoning keeps me as a victim.  I now believe that there are no such things as moments of weakness.  All there are, are times when you are giving your strength to the wrong things.  You are always strong, it's just a matter of if you're consciously choosing where you're placing your strength.
  I see that there are plenty of times when I feel weak, but that's because I'm giving my energy to believing that I am weak.  In that state of mind, I am actually being quite strong in forcing myself to act in ways that are completely against my nature.  We are all naturally free, fearless, joyful and seeing the world with wonder.  When we are children, a drop of water on a window can be endlessly fascinating and magical.  We enjoy watching particles of dust illuminated by sunbeams.
  One thing I always have to ask myself is, "what am I putting my strength into right now?"  If I don't know, that's scary.  I could be carrying out someone else's agenda.  Or worse, I could be acting out of some subconscious attitude.  I have grown up hating myself because of some childhood trauma.  I often act out of an unwitting self-hatred.  Of course, anything I do will sabotage the good thing that I think I am trying to do.
  I often tell myself that there is a part of me that hates me and a part of me that wants to do good things and a part of me that is hurt and a part of me that is stupid.  The truth is that they are all just me in my entirety.  There are no parts of me, just things I have chosen in my past to be oblivious to because it hurt too much to think about them.  I might have used to try to think about different ways to do things.  Then, some authority figure came along and told me that I only had one option as to how to do something.  I soon gave up even trying to think at all and bowed to authority.  I no longer gave myself the respect of thinking because it hurt too much to have my freedom to act on my own ideas taken away from me.  I chose to take it away from myself because that hurt less.  It put the control squarely in my own hands.  If I'm the one taking away my freedom, how can someone else come along and take it?  The only problem was that I wasn't in control of giving myself back any of the things I took away from myself.  What this shows me is that I wasn't in control at all.  I was merely reacting to someone else instead of creating anything for myself.  Only a creator has the power to give and to take away.  I only pretended to have that power because it made me feel better about myself to believe that I had it.
  I can actually pinpoint the moment I gave my power away.  I was about four years old.  I always observed my little sister being defiant against my parents and crying.  She would always got into trouble and seemed miserable.  I decided not to make those same mistakes.  I made two conscious choices: Listen to what mom and day say and do it and crying is a bad thing.  If I look back on it now, what I was really saying was: Bow to authority and never express your true feelings.  My freedom, joy and self-awareness disappeared from that moment on and I've not recovered them yet.
  I was just looking around at my family, my home and my stuff and I realized that I live in constant fear of losing it all.  That is why I don't feel a closeness with any of it.  I don't want to risk becoming too attached to anything or anyone for fear of the pain of losing them.  Therefore, I feel nothing, love nothing, care about nothing and am quite miserable despite all the reason in the world I have to feel otherwise.  Ironically, that is why I stand to lose everything.  You can't keep what you do not take care of.  I don't even take care of myself, but somehow I'm still stuck with me.  I've lost so many friends, family relationships and things because I fear pain.  Now pain is all I would have except for the fact that I have blinded myself to this very truth about my fearful nature.  It feels better to think that I have lost these things because everyone out there is mean or hurtful or stupid, etc.  I have no identity because I relate with nothing, no one and nowhere.  There is nowhere I belong, nothing I truly have that matters to me and nobody that I know well enough to make smile.  That is a tragedy.
  I was thinking the other day about some of my past friendships and what went wrong with them.  I realized that I had a more active role in my friendships going sour than I had previously thought.  What this shows me is that my friends were not as hurtful as I thought.  I now see that it was more safe for me to think of them as hurtful people.  This removed any accountability on my part.  I painted a picture in my mind of me as an innocent victim of every relationship I've ever had.  I had to take a good hard look at myself and see that I have not been as innocent as I have always thought.
   This is the mask that I made for myself.  It is a shiny, pretty mask, but it hides a sinister truth.  It hides the fact that I'd rather make everyone else the problem so that I don't have to face my own ugliness.  If I care enough to remove the mask, I will see my ugliness, but it will at least be my true face.  As ugly as it may be, it is the only truly beautiful part of me.  It is me.  The mask is what is ugly.  Anything that hides a living, breathing being with a heartbeat is ugly.  No one deserves to be hidden.  Everyone deserves to be seen and known and celebrated.
  One last thing that I've been thinking about is the fact that my family is not as bad as I thought they were.  Similar to my friends, I needed to vilify them in order to keep myself from having to face my own ugliness.  Yes, they have their flaws.  Everyone has flaws.  That is what makes them beautiful because that is what makes them different.  If we were all the same, how boring would that be?  I'm getting to a place in my life where I can actually recall some good times that I had with my family, with the church, with the Navy, etc.  If I can forgive the ugliness of the people around me and appreciate their goodness, maybe I can finally do that for myself as well.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dissociative Amnesia

  I know that I periodically write a blog post about some new condition that I've read about which seems to perfectly describe me.  I've talked about ADD, depression, anxiety, Bi-Polar Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, Klinefelter's Syndrome, Dissociative Identity Disorder and PTSD.  I'm just always trying to find new ways to attack my problems.
  The other day, a friend of mine who is going to college to study psychology had an article about Dissociative Amnesia.  I was in tears by the end of the article.  It described me very well.  I'll provide for you a link to an article about the disorder, but I don't have the actual article that I read handy.  http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/dissociative_disorders/hic_dissociative_amnesia.aspx
  I emailed the author of the original article because I read that more research needs to be done on male subjects presenting with symptoms.  I briefly described myself to her.  This morning, she emailed me back saying that she just completed a study, but will be conducting another one soon and will definitely contact me when she is ready to start that up.  I believe that participating in this study can be mutually beneficial to us.
  I hope that I can finally get to the bottom of what's been ailing me all these years.  Through all my blog postings, you, my readers have been on a journey with me as I've sought to overcome my past.  This may be the key I've been looking for all my life.  By the way, out of all the above-mentioned afflictions, I've successfully been able to eliminate Klinefelter's Syndrome because the VA tested my testosterone levels and they are well within suitable parameters for a healthy male.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Feelings and Emotions

  I've been thinking about the difference between feelings and emotions.  Let me start by pointing out the various elements which make up a person: heart, soul, mind and body.  I was realizing earlier that I have always thought myself to be like the Giving Tree.  That was my mind.  Deeper inside me, I've always felt like a tree stump, incapable of giving anything to anyone.  That was my heart.  Even deeper than that, I've always known myself to be a completely healthy tree full of fruit.  That is my soul.  Unfortunately, my body is left to try to live out what I think about myself, while actually living out what I believe about myself.
  I am coming to a place where I understand that emotions actually come from the mind.  They are quick to come and quick to go.  They come because of a passing desire that has not been met or a thought that has been countered.  Things such as affection, romance and infatuation come from the mind and are only passing emotions.  You do not choose to be infatuated or to feel romantic.  Those emotions come about because of something that you think you would like to have.  It all stems from the mind.
  The heart is where feelings come from.  Feelings arise from life choices you have made.  You choose how you will feel about something based on whether or not it fits in with preferences you have.  Your preferences come from the examination of experiences you have had.  These choices that you make are from a larger picture than specific situations might show the mind.  Let me illustrate with the example of a child crying because he didn't get the bicycle that he wanted for his birthday.  If it was just a passing desire that was unfulfilled, the tears will come and go easily.
  Now, let's look at this same scenario from a different perspective.  Let's say that this boy has been running a paper route all year.  He has a hand-me-down bike from his older brother, which is not in good condition.  He'd like to have a better functioning bicycle to get around with.  All year he has saved the money he made from his paper route, but can't easily go to the store to buy a new bike.  He has given the money to his parents to buy it for him.  Now, imagine that they bought him a new leather jacket instead because winter is coming and they think he should have something warm to wear.  His reasons for crying in this situation might be completely different.
  If he can examine this experience and recognize the larger issues at hand here, he might recognize the unfairness of his parent's choice.  He might see the broken trust as well as the neglect of his parents.  If they thought he needed something warm to wear, why wouldn't they buy it for him with their own money?  Are they not caregivers of his?  He might also see the disrespect in that they didn't ask him first if he might not rather have a jacket than a bicycle.  He is now in a position to make life choices bases on his experience.  He might choose never to be unfair, untrustworthy, neglectful or disrespectful.  This way, he will never hurt someone in the ways that he has been hurt.
   Years down the line, if for example, his wife cheats on him, he will have these preferences in his heart and will understand the broken trust issue that has come into his life again.  He will have a deep feeling about the situation and not just a passing emotion of sadness due to an unfulfilled desire.
  When I was growing up, I chose to shut off, not only my feelings, but my emotions as well.  I made a home within my mind.  I didn't want to have to experience the pain of what my parents inflicted on me.  Unfortunately, this caused me to miss out on being able to fully experience anything I went through.  In not feeling it, I never examined the roots of my problems.  I never internalized the larger issues involved.  Fairness, respect, love, compassion and other virtues were never instilled into me because I never felt the loss of them so I never fought for them.
  All of life was reduced to a million little passing desires that went unfulfilled and the passing emotions that came and went as a result.  That is why today, a million little things go wrong in my life and I never know how to prevent them or even see them coming.  If I understood even just one of those virtues, I could keep myself from acting in ways that would not be upholding virtuosity.  Often I lament that it would take a tremendous mental capacity to keep in mind all the millions of ways things could go wrong.  Now that is true, but it is also true that it would only take a little heart to keep anything from being hurtful.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Halls and Walls

  I've been going through life blindly.  What makes a man blind?  It is when he can't see the difference between a hall or a wall.  Not being able to see does not mean that one cannot tell the difference between the two.  In the movie, 'Red Dragon', there is a scene in which a blind woman is brought into an unfamiliar house.  She counts the steps from the front door to a clock in the hallway and then from the clock to the living room.  She now is familiar with a destination in the house, as well as steps of a path to reach it.
  I have no well-defined goals in my life.  Everything looks the same to me so I never know if I'm going to be walking into a wall.  I would have to get to know myself well enough to come up with a destiny that would please me.  Then I would have to know my surroundings well enough to come up with the steps of a path to walk to get there.  It is up to me to distinguish halls from walls.  We leave the spirit realm and come into physical bodies in order to experience the duality of life.  Everything exists along a spectrum between, for instance, hot and cold, tall or short, dry or wet, etc.  In finding out where everything lies within these spectra, we can choose our personal preferences.
  I might choose that I enjoy foods that are only this spicy and no more because then I can't appreciate the flavor any longer.  I might choose that I enjoy it when it's hot out and hate it when it's cold.  I've been going through my life not defining my own tastes so I don't give myself things that make me happy.  I don't even know very well what would make me happy so I can't work toward happiness.  I might wish for happiness, but that is an exercise in futility since I don't know what that would look like.  If happiness to me was purple stuffed orangutan toys, then I could actively seek the very things that would give me joy.  That does not happen to be the case, but is just an illustration.
  In order to be the author of my life, I need to know where I stand.  In order to be a steward to foster joy in other people's lives, I would need to know where they stand.  I would need to create a vision of what it means to me to be spiritually healthy so that I can know when I've veered off that path.  I would need to know what it means to be happy so that I can know when I've wandered into joyless territory.  All of that is up to me.
  An author knows the setting, the characters and the ending.  He knows them, not because he has been told what they are, but because he has created what they are.  So far in my life, I only know what I've been told.  I've not created paths or destinations for myself.  I might have a passing familiarity with other people's halls and walls, but that will only lead me where they are going.  That will not bring me to the places of joy in my heart.  If I choose to bring joy to others, I would need to clearly see the map of their heart.  Only then can I avoid the places of pain and only bring the joy.  The most important first step is to do this for myself.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Single Cell

  For all of you who liked Chief Loh, you're going to love Single Cell!  This is the music that has risen, like a Phoenix, from the ashes of Chief Loh.  All life started out as a single-celled organism. Through every path of evolution, we have become as varied as the stars.  Every plant, every animal and every person has followed their own winding road which has led them exactly where they are supposed to be.  Every step along that path is important and none is to be cursed, but rather to be blessed.  And no matter how diverse we have become, we can never outgrow each other.  We are all still inter-connected.  We cannot live without each other.  We are, at heart, still a single cell! Please check out our music at: https://www.reverbnation.com/singlecell4

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Quite A Week!

  This is how my week as been going: Wednesday night, I took part in a karaoke semi-finals competition.  I had gotten a place in the semi-finals by singing the previous week.  Anyway, the judges didn't seem to be overly-enamored with my performance.  A good friend of mine, however, did win so I was really proud of her.  Then on Thursday night, I performed a stand-up comedy routine for open mic night at Laff's Comedy Caffe.  I decided to just do a compilation of one-liners.  I got some good laughs so it was quite fun.
  Friday night, I attended the world premier of the horror flick, 'Truth or Dare'.  Let me tell you, that is one sick movie!  They handed out complimentary vomit bags in case anyone had to use them during the course of this study in cruelty and torture.  I walked into the theatre and the producer/screenwriter calls out, "Paul, how's it going?"  I was a little embarrassed because I didn't remember his name off hand.  I'm better with faces than names, as those of you who know me may recall.  Anyway, I also got to meet the director/star of the film and a couple of the other actors.  The director told me that if they ever need any Chinese actors, they'll keep me in mind.  After the movie, there was a question and answer session.  Telling you what question I asked, would be a spoiler for the ending of the movie so I will refrain.  https://www.facebook.com/events/518835301540263/
  I saw a posting on Facebook that the show, 'Worst Cooks In America' is looking for contestants.  Unfortunately, shooting takes place from October through December, which completely cuts into my schooling.  Oh well, maybe next season.  http://bit.ly/14SMNcF
  Saturday, I will be auditioning for a role in another western that will be filming at Old Tucson Studios.  They are looking for Chinese actors in particular.  Other than any non-half-Korean Chinese actors out there, I'm as Chinese as they get!  The advertisement for the audition said to dress in period garb.  I've got my gray Kung Fu robe all nice and clean in preparation to woo the producers.  Filming will start in November.  I'll have to ask them about their shooting schedule because, just as with 'Worst Cooks In America', I won't be able to shoot if I have school.  http://bit.ly/19LTQHf
  Sunday, I will be attending the Arizona Insect festival which is hosted by the University of Arizona's Department of Entomology.  I went to one of those years ago and it was quite fascinating! They had an entire spread of foods which incorporated edible insects.  There was bread with meal worms baked right into it.  I had some sushi rolls with beetle larvae in them, some with honey bees in them.  It was so long ago that I don't remember what else there was, but I can tell you I'm quite excited about this.  I've been looking forward to it for months!  You know me and food.  Anyway, as you can see, this has been and continues to be the busiest week I've had in a really long time.  Hopefully, things will slow down in the weeks to come and I'll mostly have only school to worry about.  What a fun week, though, huh?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ambush At Dark Canyon

  Here's a synopsis for the movie that I am an extra in:
"Opening against the backdrop of the roaring 1920’s, a young, ambitious newspaper reporter, “Jesse Helms”, sets out to uncover the truth behind a famous bank robbery gone wrong in 1893, and the myth behind its alleged ringleader, “Duke Donovan”. Visiting the estate of a reclusive millionaire, “Seymour Redfield”, Helms begins to piece together Donovan’s story, discovering more than he bargained for in the process. Helms learns that Donovan, a famous lawman prior to the robbery, turned himself in and was put on trial for his crime. Sent to the Yuma Territorial Prison on a life sentence, Donovan enters the tortuous prison regime, forced to live among the outlaws that he put there. While enduring the hell of imprisonment under the sadistic control of “Warden Logan”, Donovan soon discovers that his bank robbery partner, ”Levi Hardin” , is still alive, and planning to kill Donovan’s wife for revenge. Donovan devises a daring escape with the help of fellow prisoner, “Cyrus Parker”, an old Buffalo Soldier . Knowing that they will be hunted and killed, Donovan and Cyrus begin a life and death journey to save Donovan’s wife, and the legacy of the fabled U.S. Marshal.
With the spirit of SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION in the old west, this revisionist, action-packed Western explores the challenges that one man will endure to defend family, justice and honor."

  Here's the website that it came from: http://www.teamtwoentertainment.com/our-films/to-kill-a-memory/

  I'm just trying to generate some intrigue for the upcoming release of the film.  The website claims that there will be a theatrical release as well as DVD at Walmart in Spring of 2014.  I know I can't wait!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Of Love And Frogs

  A few blogs ago, I mentioned to you an incident in which I was challenged by my inner voice to look for a depiction of a sombrero and I found one exactly where I was told I would.  I started to open my eyes to the world around me which I had always just let pass me by without notice.  Well, since then, there has been a chain of depictions I've been challenged to find.  After the sombrero I was to look for a depiction of frogs.  My latest challenge is to find a starfish.  I'm told that the point is not to find the things I am looking for, the point is to look.  Seeing a frog or a starfish will do nothing to enhance my life, but looking for them everywhere I go will get me closer to living in the moment of now.  It also keeps me away from being focused on the negative feelings of fear and guilt.
  Guilt is something you feel about things from the past.  Fear is something you feel about things in the future.  Having a seeking, questioning attitude is something that keeps you firmly grounded in the present.  What's this?  Where's that?  Why did that happen?  I lost my questioning attitude a long time ago.  When I was in kindergarten, my teacher told the class to get into a line to go to lunch.  I had no idea what that meant.  I saw all the other kids go stand in an area so I went to stand with them.  When we were supposed to start moving forward, I had no idea which way was forward because to me it was just a bunch of children standing around.  The guy behind me got frustrated and shouted out, "Go, God!"  I started walking in the same direction that all the other kids were going in.  That night, when I was with my dad, I asked him what a line was.  He pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil and drew a line.  That was no help.
  In the second grade, a boy on the school bus said, "I can't wait until the day is through because tomorrow there's no school!"  I was completely dumbfounded.  I was even more amazed when his prediction came true.  To me, sometimes I went to school and sometimes I didn't.  There was absolutely no way to know when I would go and when I wouldn't.  This kid was magic!  I asked my mom how this kid knew we weren't going to school.  She told me, "Because it's the weekend."  That was no help.  Eventually, I just stopped asking questions.
  Anyway, another thing that my inner voice has pointed out to me recently is that I can use my hands in a very spiritual way.  I've always known that I have healing hands.  My mother had the same energy.  I've been told by several people that I should get into Reiki or acupressure or some other profession with my healing hands.  Anyway, I've been told that if I consciously put out my energy as highly as possible, it can reach everyone in the world at the same time.  This is another challenge to me.  How often will I care enough about healing the world that I will make a conscious choice to do something about it?  It's a symbolic question.  It's meant to pull me out of my selfish self-absorbed attitude and think about the people, animals and plants around me.  This is basically the same challenge as the seeking.  One challenge helps me notice the world, one helps me to care about it.
  If I keep sharpening my observational skills, giving healing and love to the world and living in the moment of now, all my imperfections will simply melt away.  My mantra is, "Love now."  That's what life is all about.  How can I give the highest amount of love at this moment?  It's like a chess game.  I need to know how all the pieces work in order to make the best moves.  Only then can I hope to win.  Up until now, I've only ever made use of my pawns.  It's time to realize the full power I have on my side.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Interviewing AR Wise

  This is one of my favorite zombie authors.  I'm so glad that he was willing to be interviewed by me.  I'm really looking forward to his new book which is coming out soon.  For now, you can read all about some of his other books and a little about his new book.


1. You write people so well.  That is one thing I love about writers like you, Joe McKinney and Brian Keene.  What, if anything, helps you to bring your characters to life?

  Well, for starters: Thanks! I appreciate the compliment. I have an odd relationship with my characters. I often times start writing them with a distinct personality in mind, and then often find myself altering the story because the characters have a mind of their own. It's never a bad thing when a writer has to stop and say, "I can't do that, because this character would never let that happen." I try to never allow a story to force characters into any situation that they otherwise wouldn't have found themselves in. Doing so leads to the old cliche where characters in horror stories have to do something stupid to lead them into trouble, and I've always hated that trope of the genre.

2. The first book of yours I read was 'Deadlocked'.  What inspired you to write that?

  I always wanted to be a writer, but never would've guessed that my first book would be a zombie apocalypse tale. I've always loved the genre, but felt that it was a tad overplayed. However, a friend of mine was vehemently against the glut of zombie media, and I felt like that was a challenge to write something even he would enjoy. At the same time, my mother was going through breast cancer, and writing Deadlocked was a way to simply shut out the outside world and forget about what was happening outside of those pages for a while.

3. Stephen King has his fictional city of Castle Rock, Maine.  Writers like you and William Esmont (Tucson), however have your stories take place in real cities.  Do you think that this creates any challenges in your writing?

  Well, the first Deadlocked book takes place in a fictional city (it's never named, but readers are told it's in Georgia) and then the story switches in books 5 - 8 to be in Colorado. After the apocalypse, it's not really an issue as to whether or not the locations are real because everything is alien at that point. Also, in my series 314, the town of Widowsfield is entirely fictional. However, my newest book (yet to be released), Daughter of Bathory, takes place in and around Boulder, Colorado, and I've found it's rather fun to include a city's character in the book. It adds a lot of realism to it.

4. Do you ever hope to have any of your stories turned into movies?

  I would love to see that happen, but I also dread the thought. I'm aware of how authors have very little control over movie adaptations of their novels, and it would pain me to see something I've done turned into tripe. I sure wouldn't mind cashing the check though!

5.  What are some of your favorite zombie stories and why?

  There are so many great zombie stories out there, and a ton of awesome new authors that are having fun in the genre. Authors like Joe McKinney, Mark Tufo, Chrissy Peebles, Kristen Middleton, DJ Molles, and many other have come to prominence with their zombie books. Everyone offers something unique, but I find myself drawn to stories about regular people dealing with the apocalypse. I'm not as enticed by survivalist fantasies and military-men style action adventures, although I'm not saying anything against that type of story either. I simply enjoy reading about characters that are caught off guard by an apocalypse.

6. What inspired you to write your '314' series?

  To be honest, I think 314 is a better example of where I want my writing career to go than Deadlocked is. I'll forever be indebted to Deadlocked and the zombie genre for getting my start, but I've always wanted to write books that can't be categorized as belonging to a specific genre. I wanted 314 to be different from anything anyone's read, and I believe I achieved it. And I was overwhelmed by the response it's received. I'd been afraid that 314 would be a blip on the radar, and that I'd have to go back to zombies again and again to sustain a living wage from my books, but 314 has sold more than Deadlocked ever did.

7. What contemporary zombie authors do you admire?

  Max Brooks comes immediately to mind. He's largely responsible for the recent tidal wave of interest in zombie literature, and his fame is well deserved. While World War Z is great, I think the Zombie Survival Guide might very well be one of my favorite zombie books of all time. It's not a story, but a serious look at how to survive an apocalypse with a wit and humor that is rare in the genre.

8. I hear that your new book, formerly known as 'Sex, Drugs and Dead Things' is coming out soon.  Is there anything you would like to say to your readers about it before it comes out?

  The new title is Daughter of Bathory. I initially set out to write a comedic horror tale, but it quickly evolved into something completely different, hence the title change. I think this novel continues the trend started with 314 for me, in that I'm trying to make sure readers know that when they pick up a novel by A.R. Wise, they're going to get something unlike anything else they've ever read. Daughter of Bathory will definitely achieve that goal!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Secure

  You know, I've heard people say things like, "Oh, look at that man wearing that pink shirt.  He must be really secure in his sexuality."  I don't like that.  Nobody looks at a gay man wearing a black shirt and says the same thing.  To me, this says something about both the man wearing the pink shirt and the commentator.  Now, if the man truly is "secure" with himself, I'm glad, but I've found that many people do things to prove their "security".  It's almost like a dare: Make fun of me, see what you get.
  Someone who is truly secure has no need to prove anything to anyone.  I came to that when my parents used to think I was being rebellious when I would dress certain ways or grow my hair long.  I thought to myself that rebellion has to do with a reaction to someone else.  It is you doing something because someone else tells you not to.  I was doing those things for my own reasons despite my parent's objections.  Their objections were incidental to my actions.  And it's not like I'm trying to say that I'm some model of security.
  Anyway, about security of sexuality.  My question is, what is that implying?  To me it shows a fear of appearing to be something that you're not.  If I was wearing a black and white striped shirt, would I be insecure about people thinking that I'm a zebra?  This attitude implies a negativity attached to the state of homosexuality.  It is generally a homophobic sentiment.  If people thought that gay people should be insecure about appearing to be heterosexual, that would also carry with it the implication of a negativity attached to being "straight".

Monday, August 19, 2013

Interviewing William Esmont

  Recently, I had the good fortune to meet up with William Esmont at a coffee shop and pick his brain.  I also had the pleasure of meeting his wife.  While sipping on some lemonade and asking my questions I typed away feverishly at my laptop trying to keep up with his spontaneous answers.  We shared several laughs and too soon it was over.  Well, now you too can enjoy this conversation.

1. How did you come up with the 'Elements of the Undead' concept?

  It came up because I was in the middle of a big move across country during the thick of the depression.  That's why it's so dark.  I was reading a lot of zombie books at the time.  I'd written my spy books, but I wanted to try my hand at a zombie book.  I wanted to make it a series with a common thread or theme, so I came up with the elements.  'Fire' was about the nuclear fallout.  'Air' was inspired by the feelings I got from the 9/11 attacks, especially the picture of a man jumping out of the building to his death.  I wanted to have that imagery in my story.  With 'Earth', I wanted to write about a road trip and introduce a younger character in Luke.  Each one came from different places and the last one will tie it all up, hopefully.

2. When I was in the Navy, I served on board the USS Wyoming, which showed up in your novel 'Fire'.  How did you choose that particular vessel for your story?

  I love the state of Wyoming.  I did a lot of research online and figured out where the various ships of the Navy were stationed.  I wanted to fictionalize it some.  I heard the phrase "We lost the bubble" and wanted to include that, but first I had to find out what it meant on board a submarine.

3. Stephen King has his fictional city of Castle Rock, Maine, while writers like you (Tucson) and Joe McKinney (San Antonio), have your stories take place in real cities.  Do you think that this creates any challenges in your writing?

  Yes.  I fictionalize certain elements.  Like I made Sabino Canyon into Scorpion Canyon.  It has confused some readers because of the fact that I use some real places.  Over time, my taste for using real places as opposed to fictional places has changed.  In book number four, I created an entirely new island in the Caribbean.  In book 1 I was new to Tucson and fascinated by it that's why a lot of it shows up in that book.

4. Do you ever hope to have any of your stories turned into movies?

  Absolutely!  I just recently had the first few books turned into audio books.  Hearing them dramatized definitely made me excited about the possibility of making them into movies.  They will soon be available at amazon.com and iTunes.  I can almost envision the character of Megan: Eliza Dushku.  I saw that show 'Dollhouse' and thought to myself, she has got to be Megan!

5. What are some of your favorite zombie stories and why?

  I like 'Area 187' by Eric R. Lowther.  I like that one because it's all set in Appalachia.  I've spent a lot of time there so I can identify with the sights and the sounds.  I like the old Romero stuff, that's a given.  I loved the remake of 'Dawn of the Dead'.  I love the stuff by ZA Recht.  I also love, love 'Mountain Man' by Keith Blackmore.  D.J. Molles has a series that's really good.  Those are kind of my favorite ones at the moment.  Oh, and I love 'The Walking Dead'!

6. Being a Tucson author, what different perspective do you think that gives you than say, someone writing from New York or L.A.?

  Wide open space.  I've lived all over the place: Europe, east coast, west coast, but I've always avoided the big cities.  I also pick up a little bit of the mix of cultures living near the border here.  The character of Cesar reflected what I wanted to write about that.

7. I hear that your new book, 'Ice' is coming out soon.  Is there anything you would like to say to your readers about it before it comes out?

  Be ready for a wild ride.  There's a lot of stuff.  I'll answer as many questions as I can and I'll give you some more questions.  I don't believe in clean endings.  I'm trying to coincide the release of 'Ice' with the new season of 'The Walking Dead'.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Interviewing David Wellington

  Zombie Evolution has been really lucky lately in that I've had the opportunity to interview some amazing filmmakers and authors.  I'll keep putting out more requests.  This week, I had the great fortune of being able to interview one of my favorite zombie authors, Dave Wellington.  His work was a huge inspiration to my own.  I hope this interview will help you want to read his books if you haven't already.  Here's the cover of one of his novels.
 
 
1. I love the spiritual aspect books like yours, Brian Keene's and Arthur M. Wyatt.  How did you come to take your zombie stories in that direction?

  It would have been very easy to blame the zombies on a virus, or on radiation from a Venus probe (that's actually the explanation given in Night of the Living Dead!).  But I've always approached stories with the attitude that I want to make them my own--give them my own particular twist.  As long as you keep the basic idea intact--the dead have risen and hunger for the living--it seems to work.  Once I had decided where the zombies came from, a fluctuation in the life force itself, things just sort of grew from there.

2. The first book of yours I read was 'Monster Island'.  What inspired you to write that?

  It started out as an image I had, maybe from a dream.  I had this idea in my head of an astronaut who came back to earth to find that everyone had been wiped out, and that if he ever took off his space suit he would die as well.  It was going to be a very melancholy science fiction short story.  Then a friend of mine suggested I should write it as a novel, and post it on his blog one chapter as a time.  I needed more of a plot for a full novel, so I started playing with the idea of what had happened to all the people.  The original image is still in the book, though it changed so much it's barely recognizable any more.

3. You've written about zombies and about vampires, but would you ever write a book pitting the two against each other?

  It's always tempting.  Another idea would be to have two of my heroines--Cheyenne Clark and Laura Caxton--team up.  Every time I try to develop that idea, though, I find I just end up cheapening both stories.  A lot of the impact of a monster story is that the monster is something unique, a fracture in reality.  If there are too many monsters, they just become like the elves or dwarves in fantasy--just different kinds of people, and they just aren't scary anymore.  Though that doesn't mean I'll never do it...

4. Do you ever hope to have any of your stories turned into movies?

  Well, of course I'd love it if that happened.  Any author would.  And I think my books would make great movies, if I say so myself.  I think it's going to happen eventually, but I have no idea when.

5. What are some of your favorite zombie stories (cinematic, episodic or literary) and why?

  I always love a good zombie movie.  28 Days Later is probably my favorite.  I grew up in Pittsburgh, where George Romero is a local hero, so I was exposed to Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead at a very young age, and they still get to me.

6. What helps you get into the mood to write some scary material?

  Oh, I never need to get in the mood.  It's there whenever I want to tap into it.  There's this idea that horror writers are scary people themselves, but it's actually the opposite that's more accurate--we get scared a lot, and we work through that by writing down what we're afraid of.  So I've always got plenty of material.

7. What contemporary zombie authors do you admire?

  Walter Greatshell keeps turning out really interesting stories, and Mira Grant really seems to get zombies in a wonderful, elemental way.

8. Do you have anything coming out soon that you would like to tell your readers about?
 
  I just released a thriller novel (with monsters!) called Chimera.  And I have a big zombie epic coming soon, called Positive!  Anyone who liked my zombie books is going to love this thing.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Interviewing Steve French

  I recently had the pleasure of interviewing zombie author, Steve French.  He wrote the novel, 'They Feed: Bloodborne', which is the first in a series and is available at amazon.com.  On a side note, Steve French designed the cover for both of my novels at amazon.com.  Here's the cover of Steve's book.

 
 1. What inspired you to write your first zombie novel?
 
  Short Answer: I’ve always been a fan of George Romero’s ‘of the Dead’ series and I thought the whole survival horror zombie story would work well in fiction novels just as well as they might in a movie.
 
  Long Answer: I’ve always been a fan of zombie movies. Not all of them, mind you, because there are a lot of stinkers out there. I think I saw my first zombie movie in my early teens and was both chilled by the idea and yet fascinated as well. In my early twenties, I decided I wanted to write a novel in style of the movies I was familiar with and I began writing ideas down about how a zombie outbreak might happen and I even wrote a chapter detailing how the outbreak began in a hospital. Sadly, the story didn’t take off; I was missing a whole lot more ideas about where to go with it and I was missing the characters I needed to tell the story.
 
  I’ve wanted to start a zombie novel for years, but still it was not coming to me. About a year ago, I wrote down a premise for a novel idea, but still I was not feeling a story blooming. After watching the 2009 movie ‘Carriers’ on Netflix it finally came to me. This movie was about four characters fleeing a viral pandemic while on a road trip to California. It’s not a bad movie; it had some interesting predicaments for the characters to face and focused on character development and survival. It was only missing one thing: zombies. I thought the movie really could have had zombies in it and perhaps been a whole lot better.

  So I borrowed the general premise and synopsis of the story as inspiration for the outline of my zombie novel and tweaked it to work around the ideas I already had. All of the characters were replaced with characters of my own creation. Kayla Gray was inspired by a real person I know and I decided she must be the main character and the storyline must revolve around her mission to rescue her children during the outbreak. Nina Taylor’s role was actually inspired by a zombie short story idea I had about a pizza delivery girl who would need to deliver a number of pizzas during a zombie outbreak. Turns out that I was able to write her short story into the novel and make it work with the rest of the ideas I had. With two characters created, I began writing and it took off from there. The rest of the cast of characters just happened to come to me as I was writing the rest of the story.

2. How did you come up with the science fiction inspired concept of the origins of the zombie virus?
 
  I knew that if I was ever going to write a zombie novel that I would need to find a way to explain how the outbreak could occur. I could have went Romero way and avoided the question all together, hinting at possible theories along the way, and never settling for one, but I wanted the root cause of the outbreak to be discovered by the characters at some point in my story. I’ve been thinking about ways a zombie outbreak could occur for years.
 
  The idea of the zombie outbreak being related to a virus was Resident Evil game inspired. I wanted to do something a little different and put a new spin on that idea, however, and recalled an article I had read in a magazine about fossilized alien bacteria being discovered on a meteorite found during an Arctic Expedition. I liked the idea that the virus was alien in origin, but I didn’t want to go way off subject with a whole Roswell Incident kind of premise, so the idea of the virus coming to Earth via meteorite was perfect and seemed to be a somewhat plausible idea. Basing the idea on fact felt like it added realism to the story, but here I had a problem because I want a virus related zombie outbreak and not a bacteria related zombie outbreak. With a little research, I learned that it is actually possible for bacteria to carry, but not transmit, a virus. VoilĂ ! I had my concept worked out, but the next problem was to figure out how that virus could be released. Easy enough to fix if some Government agency, working with scientists, bio-engineered the virus into what it needed to be.
 
3. I wasn't sure if some of the cities in 'They Feed: Bloodborne' were real or fictional. Stephen King writes in the fictional city of Castle Rock, Maine. Can you help me know if you primarily write in real settings or not?
 
  The answer is yes, or both, but it depends on the story I want to tell. All of the cities in They Feed are real cities and/or towns between Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado. Monument, Larkspur, and Castle Rock are all real towns here in Colorado and I have to wonder if Stephen King’s Castle Rock was somehow inspired by our Castle Rock.
 
  As for writing about fictional places, I do that too. My fiction novels ‘Sinister Presence’ and ‘A Dress In Red’ both take place in my fictional town of Misty Springs, Colorado.
 
4. Do you ever hope to have any of your stories turned into movies?
 
  Absolutely! I’d love to have a movie option offered on any of my books, but YES, I would be particularly happy if They Feed or any of the other zombie tales I plan to write could be made into movies.
 
5. Keeping in mind that many of the best zombie stories out there don't even involve zombies, but are stories of isolated groups of people who must overcome their own differences in order to work together to fight an outside threat.  What are some of your favorite zombie stories and why?
 
  Carriers (2009): Decent acting and decent storyline overcome a low budget epidemic survival tale. I liked this one because it is character driven and does not get distracted by nonsense.  Would ‘Enemy Mine’ count? I liked this science fiction Robinson Crusoe-esque tale about two ‘men’ isolated and trapped on a hostile planet and working together to survive while coming to terms with and resolving their differences.
 
6. What made you decide to put out the 'They Feed: Bloodborne Companion'?
 
  I wrote and released the companion with the intention to give it away free for promotional purposes and I did give it away free as many promotion days as KDP allows. I also thought some readers might be interested in the background behind the novel and its creation process and also to include a sample chapter from the book. Also, I had removed the prologue from They Feed because it was lengthy backfill and distracts a potential reader from getting immediately involved with the characters and action of the story. Still, it was part of the story so I did include it with the companion for those interested.
 
7. What contemporary zombie authors do you admire?
 
  I’ve been reading Rhiannon Frater and Eric A. Shelman.  I like Frater because her stories are character-driven and mostly revolve around group dynamics and how the characters struggle to survive and overcome obstacles by working together to survive. Her descriptions bring her stories to life.  Shelman’s stories, compared to Frater’s, are faster paced and are more action-driven, but character development and depth seems to take a back seat.  When writing They Feed, I combined both their methods and styles to deliver a storyline that was character driven and paced with breaks for action and zombie mayhem.
 
8. I hear that your new book, 'They Feed Book Two: Pathogen' is coming out soon. Is there anything you would like to say about it to your readers before it comes out?
 
  Pathogen is in the works, but slow going; first I was distracted by writing ‘A Dress In Red’ and now ‘Beacon Point.’ What I’d like to say is that, this being my first attempt at a series, that I wish I had better planned the overall story arc and storyline of the series. To make Bloodborne work, I had to kill off some characters that were meant to develop further into the series and I kind of wrapped up things with the main character, Kayla. Derek and Pamela both were meant to make it further. Derek was supposed to live long enough to develop a relationship with Pam, but I got tired of writing for Pamela because I felt like he was being dragged along. Originally I thought it would be ironic if she had her baby before being killed off to leave Kayla fostering a child from the affair. If I had done that, Kayla would have wanted to settle down. That also meant killing off her kids–which was her motivating factor for the first book. Now I’m working on a new drive for Kayla and working out what new characters I want to bring in to help make that happen. Pathogen will still include Nina, Stan, and Marshall.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fear of the Unknown

  I've been going through a lot lately.  Consequently, I've had some anxiety.  Here and there though, something comes along to shine a little light on my path.  This morning, while I was on my way to class, and I happened upon a tiny plastic sombrero.  No big deal, right?  True, but a voice in my head told me that I would see another depiction of a sombrero before I reached a certain street.  This made me start to become aware of my surroundings as I drove along.
  I had almost reached the aforementioned street without finding what I was looking for, but there was a Mexican restaurant on the corner of the street with a painting of a sombrero on the wall.  I started to feel better.  The voice then told me to look for a depiction of a frog.  I was told that I would see one before I got to class.  I never did, but I realized what was going on.  This was my way of giving myself a way to distract myself from my current circumstances.  But it wasn't just a distraction like television or something useless like that.  It was a way for me to increase awareness of my surroundings.  Up until then, I had been obsessing over my troubles and letting the world around me pass me by unnoticed.  Now, I was observing everything around me.
  Here's why I gave this blog posting the title that I did.  This revelation about the distraction, got me thinking about what it is that has been causing me so much anxiety lately.  It is the fear of the unknown.  My future is entirely in question and there is nothing that I am sure of anymore.  What came to me though, is the fact that it is only into the unknown that you can interject your creativity.  What can you create about something that is already known?
  I mean, look at movies and TV these days and how they're just rehashing shows and movies from the past.  How creative is that?  It is only in the face of the unknown that you can exercise free will.  Like Doc Brown said in 'Back to the Future III', "You're future hasn't been written yet.  So make it a good one."  'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' said, "There's no fate but what we make for ourselves."  We can only have hope in the unknown. What hope is there in the known?  It's either good or bad, but it's known already.  The unknown can be good or bad as we choose.  Therefore, I choose never to fear the future anymore, but instead to have hope.  Only through gathering my bearings concerning my surroundings in the moment of now, in the present, will I have the awareness of where I am so that I know where I can choose to go from there.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

No Space

  To add to the understanding of how believing in the separation of all people can cause misery, you must look at the fact that many people try to run and hide from their pain.  If you look at the source of your pain and realize that you are that object/person/place, then you will see that you cannot run from it.  The pain is coming from you from that perspective.  At this point you need only to face your fear/sadness/anger/regret/pain and realize than only in and of yourself do you have the power to get rid of it.
  You are a soul, just as all people are souls.  In the spiritual plane, there is no such thing as time or space.  Those are things that only exist in the physical plane.  So if you understand that there is no separation from you and your tormentor in ultimate reality, you will also recognize that there is no separation between you and whatever it is you keep searching for to give you joy.  You are the one and the other.  It is just a matter of which you choose to give to yourself at this moment.  Without the limitations of time and space, you can choose to instantly give yourself joy and there is nowhere you need to go to find it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Separation Anxiety

  Lately I've been feeling very depressed and lonely, but I've figured out some things about myself that give me a light at the end of the tunnel.  As I may have mentioned before, I've recently been re-reading the 'Conversations With God' trilogy by Neale Donald Walsch.  I've also started re-reading his book, 'Friendship With God'  From amazon.com, I've picked up 'Mindfulness In Plain English' by Bhante Gunaratana and 'Stardust Dancing' by Paul Tobolowsky M.D.
  Neale is always talking about how we as humans are all one with each other, with God and with the universe.  The mindfulness book is about meditation and also talks about understanding your oneness with the universe.  Dr. Tobolowsky's (the brother of actor, Stephen) book talks about the miracle of life through the eyes of science.  It explains all the various elements and proper conditions that had to come together with the right timing to create humanity and other life on Earth.  All this leads me to an understanding that I am never alone.
  This loneliness I've been feeling lately is just an amplification of the loneliness I've felt all my life.  I've been living in the illusion of separation.  This has caused me to feel unwhole all my life.  The little red squiggly line under the word unwhole tells me that it's not really a word, but it perfectly describes how I feel.  My prayers have brought me to the realization that once I come to a place deep within myself in which I feel to the core of me that I am one with everything, all my problems will simply melt away and disappear.
  I guess that I keep separating myself from not only those around me, but the process of growth that I am in the middle of.  We are now in one of an infinite manifestations of perfection.  Awareness of this brings joy.  My separation from people causes me to victimize myself to them all the time.  If I lived as if I was the person in front of me, how could I victimize myself to him or her?  I am the cause of everything that is happening to me.  Reacting as a victim to it only shows my ignorance of my true power.  I am the author of my life.  The other day, I saw a series of parked trucks that had the word, "Extreme" painted on them.  They were parked in such a way that all I could see was "me, me, me".  I realized from that vision that in my separation, I am being very selfish in thinking of only myself in the way I do things.  Once I feel at one with everyone, then my concept of myself will have changed to where I will be thinking of everyone's needs all the time.  I've always looked to someone else to give me knowledge, wisdom, etc.  Knowing that I am everybody will make me see that only I can give myself wisdom.  All I will ever have is what I give to myself and that is all I've ever needed.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interviewing Joe McKinney

  I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite zombie authors, Joe McKinney.  I thank him from the bottom of my heart for this wonderful opportunity.  I hope this interview will spark some new readers for him.  Here's the interview as well as the cover of one of his new books!

 
1.     You write people so well.  That is one thing I love about writers like you, AR Wise and Brian Keene.  What, if anything, helps you to bring your characters to life?
 
Thank you!  I think every writer enjoys hearing that people connect to the characters they create; I know I sure do.  So thank you for that.
 
I approach each character in terms of how events in the story change them.  For every character that comes on stage I ask myself what change they are going to make.  That helps me in the early stages, when I’m first getting to know who they are.  I think a part of my approach to characterization comes from my training as a police officer.  For all the advances in surveillance and information processing and forensics, the real nuts and bolts of police work remains the low-tech art of being able to talk to people.  You may find yourself talking with a doctor or a college professor one minute, and a burned out, high as can be junkie the next; and if you’re going to succeed in your mission you have to be able to change gears that fast and start communicating.  That means reading their body language and using appropriate word choice, of course, but it also requires a more nebulous talent of “getting a read on people.”  You have to identify their angle on the world and get inside it.  The same skills I developed on the street, and perfected when I was a homicide detective, I use now on my characters.
 
2.     The first book of yours I read was 'Dead City'.  What inspired you to write that?
 
I became a father in the winter of 2003.  I remember looking in on the nursery at my little girl and thinking that my world had suddenly gotten a whole lot more complicated.  Up to that point, I’d been a careful young patrolman with nothing more to worry about then where my wife and I were going to go out partying that night.  But becoming a father turned me into a man with more responsibilities than he could count.  It felt a bit overwhelming, as I’m sure most parents will agree.
 
So there I was, plagued by anxiety and self-doubt, terrified that I would screw up somehow, and I felt like needed some way to express how I was feeling.  I had always written stories, starting about the time I was twelve or thirteen, but never with the intention of doing anything about them.  I figured I could turn to writing.  I might even do a novel.  So I started writing this space opera book called The Edge of the Map and it absolutely sucked.  I mean it was awful.  And the worst part of it was that every time I sat down at the typewriter (because back then it was an IBM Selectric III) I felt like I wasting my time.  I decided to scrap the space opera and write what I loved.  About the only movie that has ever really scared me is the original Night of the Living Dead, and so I thought: Hey, I’m a young patrolman with anxieties and responsibilities coming at him from every side, why not write a book about a young patrolman with zombies coming at from every side?  Once I did that, the book just poured out of me.  So there you have it.  Dead City is actually an extended metaphor for my fears of becoming a parent.  
 
 
3.     Stephen King has his fictional city of Castle Rock, Maine, while my stories take place in the fictional city of Marble Cliffs, Arizona.  Writers like you (Houston and San Antonio) and William Esmont (Tucson), however have your stories take place in real cities.  Do you think that this creates any challenges in your writing?
 
Quite the reverse, actually.  As a San Antonio cop, I have developed a deep knowledge of the city’s resources and infrastructure.  I know the many different cultures that make up its milieu.  I know the capabilities of its police and fire departments, and all the disaster mitigation strategies we have in place.  I even wrote a few of them.  So for someone like me, who likes to write about zombies and natural disasters, that knowledge all comes into play.  Plus, and this is perhaps the most important thing, I love San Antonio.  I think it’s one of the greatest places on Earth, and despite the fact that I’ve leveled it to the ground in more than one book, it’ll be a cold day in hell before I leave this town.
 
4.     Do you ever hope to have any of your stories turned into movies?
 
Oh yes.  I think every writer does.  In fact, four of my books and two of my stories are currently in development for film.  We’ll see if it happens.  I have my fingers crossed, to be sure.
 
The really hard part, I think, is letting go of creative control.  Writing a book is (for the most part) a solitary endeavor.  I am answerable only to myself for the quality of the finished product.  Movies, on the other hand, tend to be art by committee.  Not that art by committee can’t occasionally produce something wonderful, but it can be painful to watch your book, your baby, getting mangled by clumsy fools.  I’ve read some absolutely awful script adaptations of some of my works that made me want to tear my hair out, and I was thankful when those projects fell through.  And that’s the danger right there.  The trick, I think, is come to terms with the idea that the book is mine, the movie is yours.  I’ve given you my vision, let’s see where yours takes you.  Hopefully it’s somewhere we both can live with.
 
 
5.     Some of my favorite zombie stories don't even involve zombies.  These would include: 'Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl', the movies 'Alive', 'Alien 3', 'The Blindness', 'Deep Space Nine', 'MASH', 'The Impossible' and 'Lord of the Flies'.  These are stories of isolated groups of people who must work together to survive terrible circumstances.  What are some of your favorite zombie stories and why?
 
You’ll get a different answer from me every time you ask me.  But right now, I’d have to say my favorite zombie anything, be it short story, movie, novel, whatever, is Adam-Troy Castro’s short story “Dead Like Me.”  It’s the tale of a man who is surviving the zombie apocalypse by faking it.  He walks among the dead, moving like them, smelling like them, even feeding like them.  The story is by turns heartbreaking and terrifying, and in one spot even a little funny, but it is an absolute masterwork, and one of the finest uses of the zombie as metaphor I have ever read.  I highly encourage everybody to check it out.
 
Other short stories I really enjoy include Andy Duncan’s “Zora and the Zombie,” which finds the wonderful writer Zora Neal Hurston (author of Their Eyes Were Watching God and many other amazing novels, stories and folklore collections) investigating a voodoo zombie in Haiti.  I love the voodoo zombie, and that’s probably why another of my favorite zombie short stories is Neil Gaiman’s “Bitter Grounds.”
 
But one of the most promising uses of the zombie I’ve experienced recently comes from YouTube.  If you haven’t already done so check out the short films “Zombie in a Penguin Suit,” “Cargo,” and “Velvet Road.”  All three are excellent.
 
As far as movies go my favorites would have to be Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, Dead Alive, Shaun of the Dead, and of course Zombieland.  I also adore The Walking Dead, both the graphic novel and the TV show.  The film version of World War Z made me both angry and sad.  I loved the book, and I sincerely wish they had used just one scene from the book.  Oh, and I also really, really enjoyed I Walked With a Zombie, directed by Val Lewton.  Great film.
 
6.     What contemporary zombie authors do you admire?
 
Wow, I don’t know if I can give you a fair answer to this.  Reading zombie fiction for me is like jumping into the neighborhood pool on a hot day.  I love it so much, and I’m so willing to read new stuff, that I feel a bit like a zombie myself.  I’ll eat anything, as long as it smells like what I want.  That being said, I can consistently count on David Moody, Craig DiLouie, John O’Brien, John C. Campbell, Jonathan Maberry, Patrick Frievald, Wayne Simmons, Amanda Hocking, Rhiannon Frater, and a whole slew of others I could list catalogue-fashion for a guaranteed good time.  We are living in the golden age of zombie fiction, and I think, looking back on right now from the vantage point of fifty years in the future, we will be able to say that the zombie is to the early 21st Century what the rocket ship was to the middle of the 20th Century.  We are in the process of creating our own Bradburys, our own Clarkes and Asimovs, but rather than looking to the stars, we are looking at our own reflection and seeing fear and the mystery of death amidst such security and perhaps even the shattering of everything we hold dear.  We are the defining generation, even if we don’t realize it, or even realize what we are defining.  Zombies, and their ubiquitous presence, are telling us what we fear and why we bother to get out of bed each morning.  It remains to us, the living, the readers, to make sense of the message and salvage what we will of what has come before us.  If you’re scared, join the party.  I am too.
 
7.     In some of your stories, you have a huge wall dividing the living and the dead.  Other stories such as George Romero's 'Land of the Dead', and more recently, 'Warm Bodies' had similar concepts.  Living in a state that borders Mexico, is there any allegory to the keeping out of 'others'?
 
The border, and all that it implies, looms largely over my fiction.  That is certainly true.  However, I’d like to believe that I treat the subject with the complexity that it deserves, and not merely offer up more of the same cheap political polemics we see in the newspapers each day.  In my stories, for example, I spend equal time on both sides of the Quarantine Zone, and movement in and out of the zone, or through the wall, if you will, is a fairly common plot point.  In both of the films you mention, the wall, and its penetration, is a metaphor for restoring a sense of humanity to the undead hordes gathering at the gates.  I treat the wall very differently.  For me, it represents not only a political commentary, but also a way to explore our culture subjected to the stress of a pressure cooker.
 
8.   I hear that your new book, 'The Savage Dead' is coming out soon.  Is there anything you would like to say about it before it comes out?
 
      Yes please!  And thanks for asking.
 
      The Savage Dead is part political thriller and part military zombie shoot ‘em up.  Think George Romero vs. Tom Clancy.  Most of the action takes place on board a cruise ship, where an American senator is vacationing to Cancun.  Senator Rachel Sutton has spent the last five years creating legislation that has finally turned the tide in the war on drugs.  Mexico’s cartels are hemorrhaging cash, and out of desperation, they have declared war on Senator Sutton.
 
      Charged with protecting the senator is U.S. Secret Service Agent Juan Perez, a former Delta Force operator who has fought in nearly every hellhole on Earth.  While the senator vacations on her cruise, Juan learns of a plan hatched by a brilliant but insane cartel leader to release a zombie plague upon America.  Juan follows the clues in a desperate race to save the world from the plague, but he may already be too late to save the senator and the other five thousand passengers aboard the Queen of the Gulf.
 
      I hope you like it!
 
Joe McKinney has been a patrol officer for the San Antonio Police Department, a homicide detective, a disaster mitigation specialist, a patrol commander, and a successful novelist. His books include the four part Dead World series, Quarantined, Inheritance, Lost Girl of the Lake, Crooked House and Dodging Bullets. His short fiction has been collected in The Red Empire and Other Stories and Dating in Dead World. In 2011, McKinney received the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. For more information go to http://joemckinney.wordpress.com.