101 Questions for Humanity

Surprise New Paperback Release!!

J Edward Neill dives headfirst into philosophical non-fiction with his latest book:

101 Questions for Humanity

101 Questions for Humanity

Designed to provoke, question, and challenge, 101 Questions for Humanity is the supreme coffee table book for armchair philosophers. Crack it open during big parties, small gatherings, or lonely nights on the couch. Entertain yourself…or twenty friends.

One philosophical challenge per page…101 pages.

Once you taste one question, you’ll want to devour them all!

To get a feel for 101 Questions’ content, check out the popular blog, 10 Questions for Humanity.

101 Questions for Humanity

Now available on Amazon

J Edward Neill

32 Titles for Books I’ll Never Write

Scorched Manuscript

The pretty much self-explanatory, mostly sarcastic list of book titles I’ll probably never get around to writing:

1,001 Questions for Humanity (I already did 101. But 1,001? That’s a lot of questions.)

The Life of J Edward – An Autobiography (The book absolutely no one would read.)

Love in the Time of Ebola

Fast Times at Lilburn Middle School

Lego Wars (A children’s novel…inspired by my son’s massive floor battles)

Why No Woman Should Ever Wear Granny Panties

The Dark Behind the Darkest Darkness – Book 9 of Tyrants of the Dead (Please. Make it stop.)

 Marriage in the 21st Century (As written by the least qualified person…ever)

Leaving in the 8th (Your baseball team will lose)

 The 2015 Chicago Bears – A Tale of Triumph

Sarcasm for Dummies

50 Great Atlanta Restaurants (There’re only about 25)

Honey, Where are my Pants?

The Science of Sugar Babies

Undead Davy Crockett (His hat’s undead, too)

 The Cynics’ Handbook – Hating the World in 12 Easy Steps

More Gummi Bears! – Baking for Four Year Olds

The Couch Goddess

Dating Married Women – A Beginner’s Guide

The Bishop…and Other Made-Up Sex Moves

Nudity Required – The Three-Dollar Challenge

Why Men Always Need a Bigger TV

When 10 Minutes Means 2 Hours

The Desperate Housewives of Flag Football Players

My Life as the Only Unbaptized Kid in Catholic School (This one’s actually true)

 Zombie Hookers (Why should vampires get all the sexy?)

 Histrionics – The Science of Channing Tatum Worship

Why Almost Everyone Should Make a Sex Tape

Put Down the F’ing Phone and Raise your F’ing Kid (Another one I actually do want to write)

Procrastination Nation

199 Excuses for Calling in Sick

Under the Radar – The Subtle Glory of NOT Caring About Politics

That’s it.

 I’m done.

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

No Delusions of Grandeur

Polish SkullsSkulls. Sand. Shadows.

Three of my favorite things.

As I near the release of this, and thus slam the door shut on a too-long writing project, I sit in a rotting leather chair, my feet propped on a destroyed-by-cats ottoman, and reflect on my existence. I should be happier, I think. I should shimmer like Twilight’s vampires and bounce like Barney the fucking dinosaur after a line of coke. Throw a party, I tell myself. Celebrate it. Relish it. Savor it.

Fuck it.

 I’m not in the mood.

It’s not that I don’t feel a sublime sense of satisfaction. Or oceans of relief. It’s just that tonight, with the wind battering my windows and my candle sputtering its final breaths, I feel a little bit pointless. Self-satisfaction, I tell myself, is for the narcissistic. Get your ass back to work, my brain commands. Right. Now. And I will. There won’t be a party. Or a fist pump. Or even a celebratory glass of wine.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Yes.

If I finish a book and only a few thousand people read it, does it matter?

Yes.

Maybe.

As I gloom in my writing cave, I’m reminded of a poem from the 70’s. The Deteriorata is a prose-form poem written to both mock and celebrate 1927’s Desiderata. It pretty well summates my feelings, my ‘F it’ mood, my devotion to sarcasm, cynicism, and indifference, and my awareness that a few quick breaths from now, the fleeting afterglow of publishing a million words will vanish into the air. As though it had never been.

Here it is:

Deteriorata 

You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here
Deteriorata. Deteriorata

Go placidly amid the noise and waste
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep
Rotate your tires
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys
Know what to kiss, and when
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do
Wherever possible, put people on hold
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment
And despite the changing fortunes of time
There is always a big future in computer maintenance

You are a fluke of the universe
You have no right to be here
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back

Remember The Pueblo
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate
Know yourself
If you need help, call the FBI
Exercise caution in your daily affairs
Especially with those persons closest to you –
That lemon on your left, for instance
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch
Hire people with hooks
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken
Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot
It could only be worse in Milwaukee

You are a fluke of the universe
You have no right to be here
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back

Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you perceive him to be – hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal
The world continues to deteriorate
Give up

(Tony Hendra, National Lampoon Radio Dinner, 1972)

And so I’ll close up shop tonight, contented but not. I’ll eat some Ramen, knock back a Scorsese film, and plot new beginnings tomorrow. There’s no glory in finishing one book…nor six…nor likely a hundred. There’s no party long enough to satisfy me nor a woman cold and cruel enough to fascinate me.

It doesn’t matter.

I’m not giving up.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Nether Kingdom Cover Reveal!!

Ur Knight NK Cover Sketch Ver 2 - Copy

It began eons ago.

I had a dream. A throttling, terrifying, I-remember-every-detail kind of dream.

A few days after I had it, I drove to a craft store, bought a giant parchment-paged journal, hand-painted the cover, and wrote my dream inside. I made maps of the places I’d imagined. I designed a Dungeons & Dragons setting based on the worlds I’d seen. I invented games using tiny fragments of the story I’d unlocked inside my head. I obsessed over it for a long while.

And then I let it go.

For many years, it lay dormant inside me. It became a fantasy never realized, a story I daydreamed of, but rarely spoke of. It was destined to fall into my mind’s cobwebs. And likely, to be forgotten.

In the early 2000’s, everything changed. On a frigid winter night, with no one else near, I experienced thoughts I’d not entertained before. Alone in the dark, I started naming the places I’d dreamed of. I drew pictures of people who existed only in my head. I knew I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

I decided to write a book. Three books. Almost a million words. Already 10+ years of my life.

The books:

Down the Dark Path

Dark Moon Daughter

Nether Kingdom

All three follow Andelusia Anderae, Garrett Croft, Saul of Elrain, and the terrifying agents of the Nether. I like to think of it as the darkest of all dark fantasy trilogies, but in truth it’s stuffed with love stories, tales of sacrifice, and allegories for redemption and the true meaning of courage.

And yet…

Behind all my machinations, all three books are based on a single dream. One evening’s nightmare, if you like. The books truest subject is man’s primal fear of darkness and the unknowable experience of death. And it’s not until the third and final entry in the trilogy that I get to show the true antagonist. The monster behind the curtain. The demon under the bed.

Ladies and gentlemen, the cover of Nether Kingdom:

NetherKingdomWebLg

Art by Amanda Makepeace. Conceptualized in the abyss.

Yes. That’s one of the Ur. Aka: One of the tyrants of the dead. Special thanks to Amanda Makepeace for breathing unlife into it. If you’re in need of spectacular custom art, please look Amanda’s way. She did two of the three Tyrants’ covers. And I love her for it.

Within the next six weeks, Nether Kingdom will hit stores in e-book and paperback form. It’s significantly shorter than Down the Dark Path, but longer and assuredly grimmer than Dark Moon Daughter.

With it, the Tyrants of the Dead trilogy will come to an end.

And I can lay this thing to rest. At last. Forever.

Until I start the prequel – Darkness Between the Stars

***

Nether Kingdom

Spring 2015

J Edward Neill

NK Ebook File - Copy

The End of Office Life

DeadOffice

 

As children, who among us dreamed of being an office worker when we grew up?

None of us.

Say it again slowly: None. Of. Us.

Office work? Pshhhh. We kids had huger ideas. We dreamed of being astronauts, doctors, fighter jet pilots, quarterbacks, world travelers, and movie stars. We imagined big things, challenging things, awesome things. Now…some of us actually realized our dreams. Some of us went to school, nurtured our talent, and climbed mountains to reach the top. And I salute those people. Well played. Well done.

On the flip side, some of us ended up like this dude up above. Sticks and bones. Eyes glued to a screen. Cogs in the corporate machine. And are completely fine with it. Do a job. Get a paycheck. Go home and forget work even exists. Equally admirable.

But still more of us (the majority, I bet) lie somewhere in-between. We who exist at work, but don’t thrive in it. We who kick ass at our jobs, but ache for something more. We who do what needs to be done, but know in our hearts happiness lies in some other place beyond our desks, our computers, and our monolithic stacks of paper, files, and utter boredom.

Ever seen Office Space? Of course you have. Everyone’s seen Office Space. I mean, c’mon! Remember what Peter says while pondering his corporate enslavement? Goes something like:

“It’s not just about me and my dream of doing nothing. It’s about all of us. I don’t know what happened to me at that hypnotherapist and…I don’t know…maybe it was just shock and it’s wearing off now, but when I saw that fat man keel over and die – Michael, we don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements.”

It’s a funny movie. But between the jokes lies a grave truth. The world of soul-sucking, mind-numbing, keyboard-pounding office life is real. I know. I live it.

And I want out. Many of us do, I wager.

They say that in life if someone wants something badly enough, one can have it. With hard work, perseverance, and blah, blah, blah, one can throw off the shackles of one’s past and forge a newer, sharper, more satisfying existence. I’ve read books on it. Every other Facebook post hints at it. I hear people talk about it. Cat posters everywhere scream it.

And yet.

The longer I sit here.

The more I feel myself becoming this guy:

Yeeeaaahhh

Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhh…

It doesn’t matter that I forget about work the moment I leave. Or that I remind myself life could be much, much worse. Doesn’t matter one bit. Every dawn I march to work, I die a little bit inside. I fear someday I’ll wake up wearing an ugly tie and suspenders. Or that I’ll make guest appearances in my employees’ dreams…banging their wives and girlfriends with a cup of coffee in hand. I don’t even drink coffee.

Normally this would be the part where I beg you, my readers, to buy all my books and rescue me from this life. But no, not today. Today I just wanna vent. To wage a mini-war against my inner Bill Lumbergh, and to call for solidarity amongst my office slave by day/creative warlord by night brethren.

Keep battling. Keep creating. Keep training, fighting, painting, writing, and kicking ass.

It will happen for you. You will defeat your office life.

Ok. No you probably won’t. But even so…

That’s why they invented wine.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

 

Hollow Empire – Night of Knives – Episode One is now FREE!!!

Co-Authored by J Edward Neill and John R McGuire

Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Episode One (of Six) is now FREE via Amazon!!!

Hollow Empire Front Cover

In the aftermath of a horrific plague, the nation of Vhur teeters on utter annihilation. Its cities lie in ruin, its king hides in his tower, and its people rot in their graves. Surrounded by death and suffering, four survivors struggle to live their separate lives.

But the lords of Vhur have different plans in mind…

…for soon must come the Night of Knives.

Get into the darkness…

Follow it all the way to the bottom…

The complete softcover version is available here.

 J Edward Neill

Love is a battlefield

Truth2

Undeniable modern truth ^

Ok.

I admit it.

This article has nothing to do with books, art, movies, comics, or skulls. It’s not a quiz. It’s not philosophical. It’s not even this. I promise I’m not gonna try to sell you anything.

…except the truth.

The cold hard facts are these: Dating is nothing like it once was. Nor will it ever be again. That’s not to say it was easy in the past. (It wasn’t.) But in the modern technological era, the challenges of connecting with another human go way beyond working up the courage to approach them. Approaching is now the easy part. It’s everything else that’s a minefield.

Used to be, as recently as the early 2000’s, Americans would date almost exclusively within their circle of friends. In other words: lack of access to a huge pool of people restricted dating options to a few hundred potential mates…at most. If you didn’t have a wide range of friends, didn’t go out much, or didn’t work at a large company with hundreds of employees, chances are your options were extremely limited.

Throw all of that out the window.

Today, dating options are nearly unlimited. In less than the span of a single generation, Americans have completely flipped the culture upside-down. Now, instead of a few hundred potential mates (if you were lucky) we singles have access to millions. Instead of happy hour or singles night at the club, we have all that and dozens of dating sites, ie; Match, Plenty of Fish, Zoosk, EHarmony, as well as the dreaded Tinder. Hell, even married people have it easier to cheat with creeptastic sites like Ashley Madison. In literally five minutes, one can make a profile, weed out millions of potentials with a few clicks, and set up a date. Add in Uber’s new black car service, and you, yes you, are only about ten minutes removed from an amazing night out.

…or an utterly mediocre one.

Truth1

…along with 1,000 other weird things we humans do.

Enter: the dark side of complete dating freedom.

The obvious truth is that with the ease of finding new partners via huge available dating pools, daters have too…many…choices. If Guy A and Woman B meet via Match.com, hit it off well, and enjoy several steamy dates, that’s all well and good. Prior to 2000, this neat little couple might have willingly closed the door to other potentials and moved on into a serious, meaningful relationship. But in the modern era, what happens when Guy A observes some small fault in Woman B or when Woman B realizes Guy A just isn’t as tall as her usual crop? Way too often…it’s back to the drawing board. The modern dating culture allows it, so why not? Why not seek utter perfection? Why shouldn’t every woman have their 6’3″, chiseled-abs, wealthy, handsome, funny, fastidious, college-educated, well-cultured man? And why shouldn’t every guy have a level-headed, successful, highly intelligent supermodel? If love (or at least a three-night stand) lies only a few clicks away, why not?

Because there is no perfection.

Consider these facts from several recent dating studies:

-Algorithms can’t predict whether two people are compatible-

A group of U.S. psychology professors collaborated, describing the faults of online dating, which was published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Professors stated that the sites couldn’t predict whether a relationship would last just because two people had similar interests and personalities. According to Professor Eli Finkel, who worked on the report, “They do not [work].”

-Couples who meet online are more likely to break up-

 Researchers from Stanford University and Michigan State University surveyed more than 4,000 people. They learned that breakups were far more common in couples who met online versus offline. They claim that the phenomenon holds true for both married and unmarried couples.

-81% of people lie about their height, weight, or age in their online dating profiles-

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers weighed and measured subjects in addition to checking their driver’s licenses for their actual ages, and then looked at their subjects’ online dating profiles. Women tended to claim that they were 8.5 pounds lighter than they actually were. Men lied by less—only two pounds—but rounded up their height by a half inch more often. (mentalfloss.com – Merideth Danko)

***

Ultimately, the trend is unlikely to stop. Much like Google opened up a planet’s worth of previously difficult-to-find information, Amazon allowed travel-free shopping, and porn sites across the world eliminated any apparent need to talk birds and bees with any kid over the age of 8, so too does online dating change the game completely and forever. This is where we’re at now. Total. Dating. Freedom. Let’s be clear, it’s unfair to judge people using dating sites. I’ve tried them myself, several times, with varying levels of success. And yet, deep down in my heart, I came to understand that total freedom paired with the almost cruel reduction of people to photos and profile blurbs wasn’t necessarily the ticket to happiness. And so I stopped. Cold turkey.

Look, it’s true that the past was far from ideal. It’s not like dating in the 50’s, 80’s, and 90’s wasn’t clunky and unpredictable. But anymore, singles have wandered into a warzone. For every one couple the creepy EHarmony guys brags about bringing together, oceans of people are drowning in disappointment. The internet promises plenty. But how often does it really deliver? Because let’s face it, most of us don’t want to date endlessly or swim down rivers of one-night stands. Most of us probably don’t even want the statistical perfection online dating appears to offer. We just want to find someone cool. Someone who gets us. Someone who won’t leave after an awesome date only to start clicking through more profiles the moment they get home.

I’m just sayin’.

The grass ain’t always greener.

Use your intuition, not your impulse.

Back to skulls and dark fantasy novels next week, I promise.

J Edward Neill

Author of this: 101 Sex Questions

And co-author of this.

The Ultimate ‘Build Your Own Bad’ Guy Quiz

MonsterForest

So.

Ever seen a movie and thought, ‘That monster was cool. But I can imagine cooler?’ Ever read a good book but wished the villain were more of a badass? Ever daydreamed up a monster more terrifying than any hero can handle?

Good. I think you’ll like this quiz.

Answer the following ten questions and tally up your points. A’s are worth 1 point each, B’s worth 3 points, and C’s worth 5 points. Once you’ve answered all the questions, scroll down to the bottom and see what kind of abomination you’ve created.

Here we go…

Which of the following is most terrifying to you?

A. Skeleton, ghouls, and zombies. Relentless, slow-walking horrors.

B. Psychotic criminal types. Leatherface, the Joker, Freddy from Friday the 13th.

C. Monstrous, skyscraper-toppling horrors. Godzilla, dragons, the alien ships from Independence Day.

Where does your monster live?

A. In a crypt, a dungeon, a basement, or a vast underworld labyrinth stuffed to its top with bones.

B. Right behind you. It’s watching you…right…now.

C. Far from mankind. Out in the wilderness where no one dares to go. Or perhaps even on another planet.

How does it prefer to kill?

A. Claws, teeth, swords made of bone, axes forged in Hades.

B. A projectile to the back of your head. You never saw it coming. Hey, at least it didn’t hurt.

C. By making you its dinner. In one bite.

How grotesque is this beast of yours?

A. Horrid, rotting, festering. I mean, this critter leaves pieces of itself on the ground as it crawls to get you.

B. Not grotesque at all. Maybe even beautiful or elegant. All the better to get closer to its prey.

C. Alien in nature. Chilling to behold. You’d be so petrified to see it, you might not even run.

Motivation, Motivation, Motivation

A. It destroys because it has to. It knows nothing but violence.

B. It’s cold and calculating, but hardly senseless. This monster gets a thrill out of ending people.

C. Because it’s hungry. And people are crunchy-good.

Look deep into its eyes. What do you see?

A. Death. Bottomless, frozen death.

B. Yourself staring back at you.

C. Hunger. Nom, nom, nom

When does it come to claim its victims?

A. Only in the dark of night. It haunts houses after the sun sets, stalks moonlit graveyards, and frolics in forests black and empty.

B. At any time. You’re never safe. Ever.

C. Once every 1,000 years. During which it destroys everything, and then sleeps in the core of a burned-out star.

How can it be stopped?

A. It can’t be. You can drive it off, banish it, or flee so far away it’ll take years for it to catch you. But kill it? Nah. You might as well let it kill you now, otherwise you’ll just die tired.

B. Guns, explosives, nuclear weapons. The bigger the boom, the better the chance it’s dead.

C. Go back in time. Destroy its home planet before it hatches. Or hope the luckiest shot ever hits this monstrosity’s one and only weak spot.

 If it could say one thing before claiming each victim…?

A. “Give me your soul…forever.”

B. “I could’ve ended you a thousand times before. But this time it’s for real.”

C. “You’re so small…so weak…so easily destroyed.”

Name your monster’s nemesis.

A. A monster hunter. Cold-blooded. As relentless as the terror he/she pursues. With arcane weapons, a low cowl, and no shortage of courage.

B. A lawman, a knight, or the poor sod whose wife your abomination slaughtered. It’s a little about justice, and more than a little about revenge.

C. A scientist, maybe even a wizard. Someone who knows when bullets and swords aren’t enough. Someone whose mind can engineer the perfect plan to topple the beast with brains, not brawn.

 ***

So…what abomination have you created?

0-15 points – A undead horror, but not a lowly zombie or skeletal swordsman. You’ve conjured up the lord of the undead, a lich, a monster with the might to summon whole armies of the dead. This baddie desires nothing more than to drag every living thing down into the underworld. Congrats, your nightmares must be epic. Collect bones much?

16-25 points – A demonic spirit. You probably enjoy movies like Evil Dead, Paranormal, and that awful Billy Zane flick with the Tales from the Crypt dude. Your monster has two forms: One is a fiery, twenty-horned demon lurking within a smoking hellpit. The other…a malevolent spirit content to haunt the minds of mankind. Forget taking over the world. Your monster likes causing mass pain. Just because it can.

26-34 points – Your monster is…a human. That’s right, apparently you think John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer are awesome guys. But seriously, you’ve made a demented, lighthouse-dwelling, prostitute-slaughtering freak. Living on society’s fringe, your messed up human might be a nutcase who dresses up as a clown and kills for thrills…or a sexy bombshell who lures men back to her apartment…and then icepicks them and strings them up for the crows to eat.  Good job. Seek help.

35-42 points – The aliens on TV and in the movies don’t hold a candle to what you’ve created. You’ve dreamt up a skin-peeling, flesh-wearing, human-liquefying extraterrestrial. Oh sure, they’ve got lava for blood, seven rows of teeth, and telepathic powers, but what really makes your alien beasts terrifying is their agenda. They won’t be content with subjugating a suburban city or a village in the boondocks. They want to enslave all of humanity, force us to build a doomsday machine, and then turn us into human oatmeal for a nutritious, delicious snack.

43-50 – Yep. You win. Your abomination laughs at all the others. Hope you’re happy. You probably high-five Cthulu whenever you get home or have a luxury condo in one of Smaug’s teeth. Your monster is big. Really f’ing big. Why mess around with killing a few dozen people when you can eat them all? In five minutes. If your tentacle-armed, ocean-drinking, city stomping monstrosity ever looked one of us in the eyes, we’d be helpless but to stand still and wait to be crushed, enslaved, or hurled twenty miles into the sky.

More absurd quizzes to come.

J Edward Neill

Author of this.

And this.

Ten MORE Questions for Humanity

PaperTigerChasing

For the original 10 Questions for Humanity, go HERE.

For my new philosophy book, 101 Questions for Humanityclick here!

As for today, you get ten MORE questions. Because…thought provoking.

***

A Moment of Omniscience

If you could ask ONE question of the universe and have it answered utterly and completely, what would it be?

This One’s Rhetorical

Why do so many people get so angry about politics?

No Judgments, I Promise

From the following, choose the worst thing you could possibly be addicted to: Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, Gambling…or TV…

 UFC 666: Jesus versus Superman

If you could lock any two historical figures (dead or alive) in a cage for a fight to the death, which two would you pick?

 That Song by The Clash

A fascinating new planet is discovered far from Earth. You can journey there safely and live out your life, but it’s a one-way ticket for you and whomever you take. Do you stay or go?

Stepford Wives (And Husbands)

Let’s say science perfects an absolutely lifelike robot for use as a spouse. And let’s say this beautiful, intelligent, customized-to-you robot will do anything and everything you ask. You buying one?

Continuing the Shallow Theme

Perfect body? Perfect face? Or perfect intellect?

Crimes Against Ourselves

Considering everything, does humanity deserve to exist?

In the Battle Between

Is there any such thing as absolute good or evil?

Back to the Future

You’ve built a time machine. It only goes one direction in time. Do you want to see how it all began? Or how it all will end?

***

Disclaimer 1: In observance of Tessera’s no politics, no religion policy, please eat salt after reading this

Disclaimer 2: I know the answers. I’m more interested in what you have to say

To support all of my bad habits, check this out: 101 Deeper Darker Cover

Love,

J Edward Neill

Tips for dating a writer

…Tips For Dating a Writer…

A sarcastic (mostly) blog about the dangers of sleeping with word-nerds.  

DeadLapTop

#1. Don’t.

#2. Say everything twice. Your special significant other won’t be listening the first time. (On the plus side, this means you get to take free shots at them when starting up conversations.)   

#3.  Adjust your expectations. Your days of being numero uno are over. Once the computer starts humming or the pencil starts moving, you’re just dust in the wind. I recommend getting a pet. Or a second job. Or maybe even a backup guy/girl. Just don’t date two writers simultaneously. (If they ever meet, the world will end.)

#4. Spill their coffee, fine. Break their phone, ok. But F up their computer or damage their manuscript, and it’s time to prep the couch for a long winter. Of you. Sleeping on it.

#5. Don’t ever offer to read their stuff. If they force you to (and they will,) never lie about its quality. Be brutally, cruelly honest. Always. (This one really isn’t sarcastic.)

Pointless

Probably a good call…

#6. Always pay the internet bill.

#7. Sex after they’re done writing for the day will always be better than before they’ve started. (The exception: erotica writers. They need source material.)

#8. Flash drives. The perfect holiday/birthday gift.

#9. Writing time isn’t talking time, TV time, washing dishes time, or making any audible sound within fifty feet of your special writer…time. It’s best to go grocery shopping alone. Or even better, break up immediately.

#10. Ask at least once every single day how their latest manifesto project is going. Research similar artistic material beforehand to better offer constructive criticism. Get at least mildly drunk before each of these little talks. (Or…alternatively…see tip #1.)

JustDont

…or books. Or blogging. Or…

#11. When they start the hated editing phase, remove all sources of alcohol from the area, including but not limited to: wine, beer, mini bottles of Fireball, big bottles of Fireball, Scotch, vodka, rum, mouthwash, isopropyl alcohol, Nyquil, and Dayquil. Write drunk. Edit sober-ish.

#12. If you see your special lil’ guy/girl haunting Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Pornhub during ‘writing time,’ do not disturb them. This is called marketing and/or research. Riiiiiiight.

#13. In defiance of all the other tips, forcibly remove them from writing once in a while. (Preferably for naked showering.)

#14. Whenever you start to get lonely (and you will) remember that there will come a day when it all gets better, when finally their minds stop convulsing with ideas, when finally you can lie next to them and be at peace. Yes. That’s right. It won’t happen until they’re dead.

But so what?

Now go get some. Or not.

And while we’re talking about dating…

101QSP

And…

101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

J Edward Neill

The History of the Ur

Ur Hand

 

For those involved in the Tyrants of the Dead series (and those who will be) I present to you: The History of the Ur.

Every villain needs an origin story. Every monster needs a little light shined in its direction, so as to cast a darker shadow. The Ur are no different.

 

What are they?

In the Tyrants series, what the Ur truly are is touched on only lightly. That said, the Ur are best described as demons. Not in the biblical or classical sense. They’ve no wings, pitchforks, or desire to possess your grandmother’s dolls. They’re diabolical interstellar shadows. They move from star to star, swallowing every planet in darkness, building black towers on every surface, and turning oceans to deathly broth. Once a planet is blanketed in shadow and every living thing smoked out, the Ur eject clouds of star-snuffing darkness from their towers. The darkness consumes the planet’s star, and the Ur move elsewhere.

Where do they come from?

From the void. From the realm before such things as time and consciousness. The Ur always have been, always will be. At peace before the universe began, their slumber was disturbed by the birth of trillions of stars. The Ur despise the invading light and all the creatures depending on it. They wish a return to the utter darkness that was, to the infinite emptiness before light and life arrived.

Can they be destroyed?

No. Not in the common sense of the word. Being neither alive nor made of any tangible substance, they cannot be killed. However they can be rendered powerless by sunlight, driven back by powerful sorcery, and imprisoned. Thus far, the only race to successfully resist the Ur longer than a few breaths is mankind.

 What are their powers?

Before the coming of the stars, the Ur had no real power. But afterward, when the need arose to snuff the destroying starlight, they created a terrible form of magic. After encountering life (particularly mankind) they used this black magic to corrupt, enslave, and destroy. Because of the Ur, there is no ‘good’ magic. All magic come from the Ur, and thus all of it is meant for wicked ends.

Ur Knight NK Cover Sketch Ver 2 - Copy

What do they look like?

They can take any form they wish, so long as that form is lightless and black. To terrify mankind, the Ur typically appear as shades. Ten feet tall, demonic claws and teeth, their eyes blazing with the light of annihilated stars, they are as fearsome a sight as is possible to imagine. A single Ur, given a cloudy, starless, pitch-black night, is capable of ending millions of lives.

Why did they build artifacts such as the Soul Orb and the Mountain of Malog?

Stretched thin throughout the void, the Ur needed dark engines to empower their magic and ensure their continued dominance. By capturing the fleeing souls of murdered life forms, they fueled their artifacts indefinitely, needing only a few hundred of their number to maintain dominion over each world. The Soul Orb is the worst of these creations, as it’s meant for living things to use while unknowingly destroying themselves.

Are there any ‘good’ Ur?

In the Tyrants series, no. However…a two-book prequel is in the works. And it may be revealed that not all the Ur are utterly irredeemable.

 How can mankind ever hope to defeat the Ur?

They can’t. They can only hope to hold them off and survive for as many generations as possible. For even if one Ur is driven back or imprisoned, billions more roam the darkness between the stars…

* * *

I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of the bad guys. For more backstory and fun, check out the complete Tyrants of the Dead glossary.

Ur Orig Sketch

Until next time,

J Edward Neill

The elegant art of cynicism

RockPaperCynic1

Sometimes when I walk outside on a sunny day, I feel the sunlight weaken.

When I show up at a party, the mood takes a southward dip.

And when I see a red door, I want to paint it black.

Do I exaggerate? If so, it’s only to make sure you get the point.

That there is beauty in hope, optimism, and faith, I do not doubt. The glory of a freely happy mind is something I enjoy vicariously through others. In their music. In their warmth. In their smiles. I witness cheerful people every day. Kids. Couples. Dogs. Friends. Old folks enjoying lemonade on the porch. It’s all peachy. It’s all grand.

But ultimately, these things are not for me.

I’m here today not to whine about being the world’s worst cynical bastard. But to explain how being this way can bring great contentment to one’s life. It’s true. I’m not joking. I’m completely serious.

Let’s begin with a simple chart:

hope and doubt

Are you upper left? Sweet. Lower right? Let’s hang out…

I think the above pretty much sums up the difference between skeptics and cynics. Most people, depending on what day of the week it is, probably fall somewhere in the middle of the Hope/Doubt chart. Maybe they’re happy-ish one day, a little down the next, and just kind of existing the next. Feelings are fluid things for most people. They move as the mood wills. As for me, I’ve a confession. I’m about two inches to the right of ‘Cynic‘ and another two below ‘Doubt.’ Every day. Always.

And I’ve never been happier.

I suppose it’s true that when imagining a cynic’s state of mind, the terms unhappy, hopeless, or miserable come to mind. Cynicism is equated with negativity, depression, or a general disgust with life. “Gloom and doom,” they’ll say. “A real Debbie downer.” or “A fly in the ointment.” It’s cool. I get it. Being a cynical sonofabitch isn’t for everyone.

But in reality, there’s an elegant art to cynicism. A true freedom of spirit. An approach that can bring absolute peace to one’s mind.

Consider this:

  • A contented cynic can never know disappointment
  • Nor despair for all the world’s ills
  • Nor feel the pain of broken dreams
  • Nor suffer the frailty of emotion over the hard truth of reality
  • Nor endure a broken heart
  • Nor succumb to the horrors of hatred
  • Nor fall so low as to never rise again

A lot of you are thinking: “Yeah maybe, but cynics will miss all the good stuff, too.”

Not true. We just take it all with several grains of salt.

But what about love?”

Piece of cake. We just don’t fall to pieces when it ends.

Doesn’t being a cynic make people…I don’t know…kind of heartless?”

Nope. Just entirely in control of their feelings. And aware of the difference between hopes, dreams, and reality. Because, let’s face it, hopes are hollow without action. Dreams are stone dead without dedication. Doubt (even self-doubt) is healthy. And reality always wins. Always.

Love,

J Edward Neill (Cynical bastard)

For even darker thoughts, read this.

This too.

 

9 Literary Quotes you’ve never heard of

AncientBook

 

Every morning, I pop open the world’s social media coffers. I shouldn’t, but I do. Marketing is everything, so I’m told, more important than one’s actual ability to write, apparently.

And so…every day I visit Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and every day dozens of slick literary quotes reach out and slap me. Seriously…quotes are everywhere. Some are famous. Some not. To be fair, many are crap. I mean really bad. Like when an author is trying to impress a fan base only to post something woefully vague or grammatically poop-tastic. Other quotes are taken out of context or weakened by Twitter’s character limit. And still others are laughably inappropriate when considering who posted them. You know the ones I mean.

Even so, I typically stumble upon a few gems.

Look, I’m gonna level with you. I’m not one for posting or Tweeting or paying much mind to other people’s quotes. I figure the true measure of a writer is his ability to write his own quotes, and that true inspiration should come mostly by accident. While it’s not exactly a cop out to share other folks’ inspiring words, nor is it satisfying for me to put their words in my mouth. So many modern quotes tend to be ‘cat-poster’ material, neither eloquent in design nor powerful in effect. They’re supposed to inspire, but all they do is make me queasy.

That said…

Let’s make a little contest of this. Here are a few quotes you’ve probably never read or heard before. They’re not indie (because I hate that term) but they’re probably off the usual grid. I’ll offer a few hints, but I’m not going to give up the authors’ names. I’m not even going to list the source material. If you happen to know who wrote ’em, go ahead and boast in the comments below. To anyone who can guess even five of these, I’ll send something free.

Nine quotes – off the grid

***

A warning for a soldier:

 “Facile est ultio. Easy vengeance. Never harm a living thing whose children you’ve never seen.” 

***

As felt by the next-to-last man standing:

 The air was crisp, but not chilling, and fresher than any he’d ever breathed. Standing on the slope beneath the trees, he felt small, yet strangely at peace, for as he looked to the sky he found comfort in his defeat. 

***

Making fun of pretentious people:

 “Do people think that staying in a room where an extraordinary person once slept will transfer their greatness to them? Relevance by osmosis?”

***

As read on an arrogant man’s tombstone:

 “History may deem my killer a hero, but I went willingly.”

***

The worst kind of regret:

 “It is hard to write their names. If the ink should run, it is because my hand shakes when I think of what I have done. I agonize over whether I should describe these things, for I so often want to forget them.”

***

Image is everything:

No one wanted their fortunes read by some guy in a t-shirt and jeans. People wanted theatrics…

***

 As experienced by a man who thought he’d won, but really lost:

“I ran howling from the house, from the city, from the world. Where I went and how I survived all those nights in the bitter rain, I’ll never be able to piece together. He never came for me, but he’d killed me all the same.”

***

From a mother to her son:

“But those are just dreams, my sweet. This is the world we live in, and we’ve no choice but to make it our own. Maybe one day the shadows will lift and we’ll be free and happy. We only need to survive until then.”

“I want to.”

“What’s that, love?”

“To survive.”

***

And from a different mother to a different son, on the subject of why everyone should read books:

“Not all people are the same, dearie.  Some treasure the earth and the rain, and live for growing food that others might eat. Some favor the sword, and try to claim dominion wherever their boots fall. Others, like us, are undecided. To understand what you wish to do in life, you must first understand what life is.”  

***

So there you go. I’ll post more quotes in the year 2050, by which time no one will read anything deeper than Spacebook posts and Twiddler feeds.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Author of this.

Co-author of this.

How Undead are You?

 

Zombaby

A Happy Quiz for Everyone…

How Undead are YOU!

 

To determine just exactly how foul, creeping, and unholy you are, answer the following questions and keep track of your score. A’s are worth 1 point, B’s worth 3 points, and C’s worth a rotten, festering 5 points. Check your undead-ness at the bottom of the quiz!

* * *

What part of every day appeals the most to you?

A. Dawn. You just love waking up to the sun beating down on the world, melting all the shadows away.

B. Evening. Perhaps you’re at home watching a movie, sipping wine, or barbequing up some delicious man-flesh. Either way, you’re content to watch the day die slowly.

C. Late, late, late at night. Everyone else is asleep. You’re awake at Waffle House, flirting with some wonderful creature…or maybe you’re out on the town, closing down establishments that never close.

Which movie is closest to your heart?

A. Pearl Harbor. Because watching Cate Beckinsale corrupt and ruin a perfectly good Josh Hartnett sounds like fun.

B. The Lost Boys. Bloodsucking, soul-gobbling vampires are awesome, but only if they’re cute and wear leather.

C. 28 Days Later. Death. Misery. The end of the world.

 If you had to choose a song…?

A. Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off. Who needs country music when you can just market sexy, bouncy pop?

B. Anything by Creed. Seriously, if you pick this answer, stop taking this quiz and get help.

C. Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss. Music for when the earth cracks open and everything dies.

 When’s the last time you did anything meaningful outdoors? (Other than walk to and from your car)

A. Five minutes ago. Hell, you just did fifty pushups on the summit of Mount Doom.

B. Yesterday. You think you remember taking out the garbage. Or opening the door long enough to yell at the cat to come in.

C. More than two days ago. Sunshine hurts. I mean, oh gawd…you’ll burn away if you’re forced to put down the Xbox controller.

 How often do you eat dinner at a restaurant? In the presence of the living? And no, Golden Corral and Waffle House do NOT count.

A. Two or more times every week. Because people-watching is just as fun as gorging on those orange biscuits Red Lobster makes.

B. Once per week. You’d go more often, but that’d require moving more.

C. Hardly ever. Pizza and a movie are way cooler.

How many times have you had sex this year? (With someone else)

A. One hundred or more times. Congratulations, you’re lying!

B. Between ten and ninety-nine times. Sorry, married dudes.

C. Zero to nine times. Because in order to have sex, you’d have to stop eating brains for at least three minutes.

Ever watched a movie at a movie theater alone?

A. No way. People who do that are either stalkers, serial killers, or both.

B. Considered it, but haven’t pulled the trigger. Because kids. Or spouses. Or friends. Or the latest collection of garbage Hollywood has heaped upon your world.

C. Yes. Because sometimes being awesome requires being awesome alone.

When confronted with hostility (in the form of frienemies, strangers, significant others, or Wal Mart employees) you…?

A. Take the high road. Your chin is held high, your ego intact, and your knuckles only slightly white.

B. Boil inside. But ultimately refrain from dismembering the hostile party…and all his/her friends.

C. Fists. And profanity. But if no violence, then at the very least you plot the annihilation of the offender’s entire bloodline.

How relentless are you?

A. Not very. You’re laid back. You brush failure off and move along to the next thing.

B. You’re a skeleton. If hacked into a hundred pieces, you slowly reassembly your parts and clickity-clack back to work.

C. You’re a vampire. Oceans of time can’t stop you. If told, ‘no‘ at every possible access point to your goal, you sit in a coffin outside and wait for everyone holding you back to die.

 How intense are your dreams?

A. Moderate. You don’t dream much, and when you do it’s usually about falling, or sex, or money, or work. Or beer…

B. Creepy. You had night terrors once or twice. You swear you saw a ghost upon waking. You remember at least a handful of dreams that give you the chills.

C. Gravetastic. You dream and daydream terrible things. You’ve swam through rivers of blood, sat atop mountains of bones, fled from crimson-eyed spirits, and died thousands of times…only to rise again.

* * *

So about your score…

0-15 points – You’re safely mortal. Go back to your cubicle and keep a shotgun handy. Remember your cardio.

16-30 points – Your grandfather is probably a ghost. Your parents let you stay up to watch Evil Dead when you were five. But no…you’re still alive. Although graveyards are pretty cool. And your household pottery is haunted.

31-42 points – You’re clearly undead. Before going to work, you should probably make sure some of your skin isn’t falling off. Sleep isn’t sleep to you. It’s torpor, during which you regenerate your dark powers. How are you even able to read this, considering your eyeballs rotted out long ago?

43-50 points – In the caverns beneath your apartment, you collect skulls, mummies, and dolls that you’ve poked the eyes out of and sold to horror film directors. The sun hurts you…badly. Whenever you’re not alone, you’re spending time with others like you. And by others, I mean the team of thousand year-old ghouls you’ve assembled with the aim of global annihilation.

Look for more ridiculous quizzes in the future.

J Edward Neill

Author of this.

And this.

Author Interview – PS Syron Jones!

Welcome to the latest in a series of creative interviews at Tessera Guild. We’ll be interviewing creative individuals in the realms of writing, illustration, comics and more. Today we have author Phill (P.S.) Syron-Jones, crime-drama author of Rise of a Phoenix!!

Let’s get started:

Tell us about yourself, Phill. Give up the goods on where you’re from and how you got here.   

PS SyronJonesI was born and raised in the West Midlands (Great Britain) where I had a great childhood (which I still haven’t quite grown out of.) Later, after a small term at College I joined the Army where I served 22 years. I am married to a brilliant young woman and I have one fantastic daughter. After leaving the Army I decided to settle in Germany and in my spare time try to write.
The project I am working on is a crime series set in New York, each story been a stand alone so it doesn’t matter if you miss one. I have tried to make it as twisty as possible but at the same time simple to read. Eventually I hope to span out to fantasy and maybe children’s books. My website is: sjoecable@wordpress.com.

When did you first know you wanted to write? What’s the first thing you remember writing?

When I was at school I was always making up stories in my head (as one does) but when i got to English lit my world was opened to a whole new level. We would be given a word and told to write a story on that word. Unfortunately the two page essay became a novel. I knew then what I wanted to eventually be. I remember one time we were given a word “The wall”; this soon became my first detective story. I even drew a front cover.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have a strict method or…?

I just have an idea then jot it down. Sorry there is no real science in it, but that’s the way the grey cells work. At home I have lots of notebooks; each one has a title and a rough storyline in it. These are then put away for when I have finished one book so I can move straight away to the other. When I am writing, the story just comes to me; sometimes I am surprised about where the story is going and that’s the fun part. If you (the writer) are shocked, then hopefully so will the reader be.

What kind of stories are your favorite?

 I don’t really have a favorite; that’s like saying what’s your favorite movie. For me personally there are too many out there. Just anything that draws me in really and that’s what I try to do with my books.

Tell us about what’s upcoming for you. Got any new books soon to hit the market? Any fresh blogs or short stories you’d like to share?

In March if all goes well, the second book called ” OPERATION UNITY” will be released. As I am a new author I thought about giving at least six months between books just to see how they go. That said, I am working on book three of the series and after that I hope to start on my first fantasy novel. Any new blogs? By the time this has gone out I am sure there will be (thanks for reminding me.)

What do you find most challenging about being a writer in today’s world?

The challenges are galactic. As a new writer you have to spend so much time on social media; half the time you don’t get a chance to write. You have to sell yourself not just your book. I work full-time so writing as well as working means instead of a book a month it takes up to six. But I guess that makes it feel like more of a hobby than a job. Years ago you would get an agent, then publisher, then the world; now you have to do that yourself as a self-published author. It is hard getting into traditional publishing, there is no doubt about it, but that for me is the end goal. Sure I can say I am a published author but it’s saying I have an agent and publisher that gets me sweaty. Writing is the easy part; selling your book is the hardest part. All I can say to any aspiring author is don’t give up. If it is what you want you will find a way.

Check out Phill’s latest crime-drama book, Rise of a Phoenix, now available on Amazon! 

RofP_high

Ten Questions for Humanity

Ten Questions for Humanity

Regarding Music Lyrics

Is there anything that hasn’t already been said? Any topic at all?

The Secrets of the Universe

If revealed to you, and if they challenged everything you thought you knew, could you discard all of your previous beliefs?

 

In the Struggle Between Happiness and Meaningfulness

Is it better to participate in the grand human social machine or seek contentment alone?

Immortality

If and when scientists perfect a method to extend life indefinitely, would you take the plunge?

In the Realm of Current Events

Beyond money, why do people choose to be Police Officers? Attorneys? Politicians?

That Thing Called Love

Purely bio-chemical? A genuine spiritual event? Or a survival mechanism to overcome the perils of being utterly alone?

All About That Bass

Do boys really want a little more booty to hold at night?

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

If, long from now, the world is completely mechanized, thus eliminating the need for most people to work, what will we do with our lives?

Everyone Has One

Which one rules the roost: Opinions? Or facts?

 Think Hard on This One

Does every single human life…have value?

***

Disclaimer 1: In observance of Tessera’s no politics, no religion policy, please eat salt after reading this

Disclaimer 2: I know the answers. I’m more interested in what you have to say

Like questions like these? Get deeper dilemmas here.

***

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Down the Dark Path

Ten Real Life Locations for the Tyrants of the Dead movies

As I sit in the dark and daydream terrible things, my mind wanders to the far-off hope of finishing the screenplay for the Tyrants of the Dead series. It’s ever in my thoughts. It’s not quite a realistic goal, but it’s more than just a dream. Previously, I imagined the cast here and here. But to capture all audiences everywhere, I’ve come to understand that the setting is of utmost importance. In Tyrants, readers explore snow-capped mountains, dismal swamps, glorious medieval cities, and grounds hallowed long ago by the Ur.

It’s a lot to digest.

Given the rampant use of CGI in modern film-making, I’d like to dial it back a notch. Budget notwithstanding, and actors’ travel concerns set aside, I’d prefer to use the most realistic locations available. Nothing is as magnificent as what nature already offers. Nothing…

And so I offer the ten locations I’d use as settings for the darkest fantasy series of all time:

Gryphon

Gryphon CityMonreal, Spain

Let’s start with a happy place. Gryphon, with all its white houses and cobbled lanes, is a sanctuary in which our heroes rest briefly before wandering back into the abyss of war. Monreal is a gorgeous medieval hamlet surrounded by green thickets. Sounds like a match.

 

Moors Eye

Mooreye CityPingyao, China

Now let’s head to Gryphon’s vile neighbor. The Moor’s Eye, home of traitors and scene of countless murders, has high walls and towers not unlike Pingyao. Think China will let us borrow it to catch a few shots? Think they’ll let us hang black banners from the walls?

 

 

  GraehelmPrairie
Graehelm PrairiePalouse Prairie, Idaho

To get anywhere in Graehelm, one must travel grasslands far and green.  To get anywhere in Idaho, one must travel grasslands farther and greener. Just look at all that grass!

 

 

Grandwood

Grandwood ForestCalaveras State Park, California

 The world’s biggest trees. Acres and acres of giants dominating all the small sights below. Of all the places, Calaveras is one I actually plan to visit before I die. Anything that makes man feel smaller =  good.

 

 

Nightmare Forest

 

 Nightmare ForestAokigahara Forest, Japan

Speaking of woods… Nightmare is the setting for Andelusia’s black magic awakening. Unspeakable horrors wander the glooms, sniffing out mortal creatures to dine on. Aokigahara is perfect. For those who’ve never heard of it, it’s the eerie forest in which many Japanese commit suicide every year. No CGI needed, folks. This place is spooky enough as-is.

 

Undergrave

The UndergraveMammoth National Cave, Kentucky

Vaulted ceilings ribbed with daggerlike lime formations. Narrow corridors to march men to their deaths in. It’s like nature knew what I needed…and spent millions of years crafting caves to fit it in. Happiness is being three days underground without food, light, or hope. Right?

 

Mormist

MormistHimalayan Forest

Mormist is the scene of peace and war, of tranquility and slaughter. In what landscape more glorious to film it than the verdent slopes and white-crowned peaks of the Himalayas? None, I say.

 

 

SelhauntSea

The Selhaunt – North Sea

Many a wise mariner fears the choppy, deep, and bitterly cold waters of the North Sea. Such a fine, dark, dreary body of water will serve perfectly to mirror the Selhaunt. Nobody wants to cross either unless they have to. And they will.  

 

Cornerstone

CornerstoneWiencke Island, Antarctica

It’s too pretty a place to serve as a vast Ur graveyard, you might think. But cap a special colored lens on the camera, and I say no place could be better. In Cornerstone, pale snow drifts across dead stone, concealing stairwells that lead to tombs for millions. Commence filming during Antarctica’s long twilight, and find perfection.

 

Malog

MalogBig Sky Mountain, Montana

At last we come to it:

The obsidian citadel, larger than all the fortresses of men combined, was as hideous as it was massive. Its body looked as though hewn from the belly of the world’s most massive mountain, a place where the sun never shined.”

Malog is where the worst villains in the series reside. Ghosts, ghouls, all manner of bad, bad men. Sure, we’d have to cheat a little and CGI it to look like obsidian. And we’d have to pock it with a few thousand haunted windows. But even so…

* * *

Will it ever happen? Who can say?

One can always dream…

 J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Down the Dark Path

 

What Dead Men do During the Holidays

Undead Turkey

 

 

During Thanksgiving week, it used to be a tradition of mine to get my ass to Florida (St. Augustine, Clearwater, Naples…) and eat entire restaurants out of business. Those were my holiday-cations, and they were epic. I’d lay siege to huge buffets, soak up gallons of wine and cocktails, and float atop heated pools like a bloated corpse. I was an ICBM, and the beach was my target. Sometimes I even followed it up with a encore Christmas trip. Can you say…awesome!?

Sadly, miserably…those days are done. Anymore, I’m a holiday zombie.

Holiday Zombie (Noun) – Any human, lacking purpose, who sits on the sideslines during the holidays and rots. 

So what do dead men do during the holidays?

1. Black Friday – We complain about it. Then camp out Thursday night to buy a video game we could’ve bought for $3 more on Amazon. I’m completely kidding. I’ve never braved Black Friday in my life. With my luck, I’d sleep right through the sales crush…or get arrested for disorderly conduct.

2. Laugh Inside – We feel ever so slightly left out due to lack of social interaction (guess who didn’t get invited to the ugly sweater party?) but secretly relish the fact that we have no real holiday responsibility. While the living are out buying SUV’s full of presents, enduring hours and hours of Jingle Bells, and road-raging, we zombies are grilling brains (or ribeye steaks) in our backyards. In the snow. While drinking heavily.

3. Gift Failing – For the one or two people we actually love enough to gift gifts to, we buy something sweet only to fail miserably with the wrapping paper. Afterward, we curse the people who are good at wrapping (we all know someone whose sole life-skill is wrapping gifts). And then, looking down upon our failure, we give up and buy a gift bag. Thank you, gift bag inventor. Without you, children worldwide would know my horror of wrapping paper.

SantaFromTheGrave

What Santa looks like to the average three-year old. …and you wonder why they cry.

4. Damn Cards – We get plenty of holiday cards, but send none. Because, you know, we’re dead.

5. Well…maybe the Stove Top counts – We do things that have absolutely nothing to do with Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. Like watch metric tons of SEC football, eat meals of Stove Top stuffing and Little Caesar’s pizza, drink Texas margaritas instead of egg nog, and write dark fantasy novels. Just normal stuff, really.

6. No ties either. Or Starbucks gift cards – We quietly bemoan that no one buys us anything cool (or anything at all) for Christmas….and then realize we didn’t need anything anyway. We suffer five minutes of angst, but follow it up with, ‘Thank gawd Aunt Selma didn’t buy me more knee-high socks.”

7. Laugh Inside again – We get sucked into attending a holiday event or two. We dress up, wear too much perfume or cologne to mask the dead smell, and shamble out our doors. And then, while grandpa’s getting wasted, the kids are screaming, and your co-workers are banging in the guest bathroom, we’re both bored out of our minds and smugly satisfied. (That everyone else’s life is just a bit more messed up than our own.)

So here’s to you, fellow single guys, lonely co-workers, cat ladies, introverts, Wiccans, divorcees, and vegans. The holidays are brutal. But I’m right there with you. Hanging out on the fringe, making mean-spirited fun of everyone brave enough to enjoy themselves.

LUB,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

A Jumble of Bones

skelly 

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a lousy kid. I haven’t been particularly good this year. Or productive. Or nice. I’d apologize, but I wouldn’t really mean it.

Can I have a few presents anyway? Pretty please?

This week’s entry is a mixed bag (of bones.) I’m starting if off with my private Christmas list. Mind you, I’m not actually expecting Santa to bring me any of this stuff. But perhaps if I write it down, you’ll read it and commiserate that you’re probably not getting anything cool either:

My list:

XBox 360 Version of Dragon Age: Inquisition (Origins rocked. The first sequel sucked. I wouldn’t have time to play it anyway. But hell…)

Several free nights at the movies. So I can see Nightcrawler, Horrible Bosses 2, Gone Girl, St. Vincent, and yes…even Mockingjay.

A new pair of MMA gloves. Because my old pair is ruined…and even writers need to beat the bejeezus out of things now and then.

 

Moving right along…

I’ve decided to do a little experiment with one of my short stories.  As of today, my popular short Old Man of Tessera goes up on Smashwords with a ‘pay whatever you like’ option. That means if you want to pay $0.00, you can pay $0.00, and I’m fine with it. If you feel like a few thousand words is worth $1.63, boom! you can pay exactly $1.63. It’s a neat-o option. Frankly I don’t care if I sell five hundred copies at $0.01. At this point, it’s all about getting my words in your face.

oldmantesseracover1sm

Click me. Buy me. $0.01 or $100,000.00…it’s your call.

Speaking of books…

In the last week, the cover art for Nether Kingdom – final book in the Tyrants of the Dead series – arrived on my doorstep. Graven out of the shadows by resident artist Amanda Makepeace, it’s the penultimate piece for the conclusion of my dark fantasy trilogy. I’ve showed fragments of it here and there already, and while I’m not yet prepared for the big reveal, I will offer a new glimpse today. That, and the promise of this cover being pretty much everything my dark little heart desires.

Ur Hand

The Ur…clutching hearts and seizing dreams since humanity dared its first breath.

The Ur appear throughout the Tyrants’ series (as well as in numerous other creative iterations of mine.) In the upcoming Nether Kingdom, they’ll make a final move to rebuild their haunted civilization atop the ruin of mankind. Someday I’ll write a short explaining how I dreamed the Ur in the first place. In the meantime, I can hardly wait to finish NK and get it out for everyone to see. It’ll be at least five minutes of bliss before I sit right back down and begin working on their origin story – Darkness Between the Stars.

Thus, as hoped for, the Jumble of Bones comes to an end.

Catch you later,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Down the Dark Path

Why no one should ever become a writer

Write well.

Write often.

But never write for more than a hobby.

 

DemJBones It’s a saying I made up ages ago. And now I believe it more than ever. And yes, I know. It sounds hypocritical. I don’t apply the saying to myself. I’m just trying to help the rest of the world. As in you.

I remember the way life used to be. It was…oh…maybe fifteen years ago. I was a young buck, full of fire. My nights were free, my weekends wide-open, and my creativity shoved aside in favor of endless nights out on the town, countless hours of playing awesome video games, and *gasp* having actual friends I got to see more than twice per year. In retrospect, I was like a three-legged dog: clumsy, happy, and completely unaware of my missing limb. Those were probably the best years of my life. I say probably. I mean definitely.

And then one day I decided to write a book.

It was an innocent choice. At twenty-five years old, I never thought I’d finish one book, let alone twenty. I figured I’d try, fail, try again, and then wander away from it like I had so many other hobbies.

Wrong.

Speaking of hobbies, here’s a pile of hobbies you should consider rather than entertain even the vaguest notion of writing: playing guitar, painting, running, acting, watching tv, drawing, playing sports, cooking, baking, foodie-ing, collecting, gardening, eating, dating, breathing, jumping, fighting, counting toothpicks, rocket engineering, and running for president.  

Today, one-hundred and fifty thousand years removed from my decision to write, I realize there’s no going back. Ever. Never. I hear about other folks’ hobby and career choices. “Engineer,” they tell me. “Teacher. Taxi Driver. Lobbyist. Mortician.” And I realize that for every hour of the night they spend fretting over their jobs/lives, writers spend quintuple. A steel worker hurts, a teacher grades homework after school, a grocer frets about bills, but me, I live and die a thousand times every night. My dark little hearts soars with one sentence scratched out, and crumbles to dust with the next. I dream a new story in the night, and realize the next morning I’ll never live nearly long enough to write it.

Mind you, I’m not complaining about my choices. I’m merely suggesting a different career path for you. And for the readers, perhaps giving a glimpse of my envy. You feel me, right?

BoneMountain

That’s me standing atop a mountain of my own dead ideas.

When I wake at dawn of every day, my first thought is of writing.

When I sleep, I dream not of falling, fighting, or flying, but of tales beyond my ability to put into words.

When I go the park, I can’t just walk and be at peace. I see stories living in every tree, lurking behind every cloud, and wilting in every flower.

In a way, it’s a sort of madness. I could live for eons and never get it all out. I could fill every sheaf of paper in the world…and find it lacking.

The hardest part is the time invested. You’ll never get it back. Instead of existing in the living, breathing world (which is where you should be) writers are lost in the corridors of their minds. It’s fun to write a blog, cute to polish up a magazine article, and masterful to punch out a short story. But then the next idea comes…and the next…and the next. And before you know it, you’re lost in it. Your friends have forgotten you, your nights are lonely, and your significant other thinks you’re a ghost (because you are.) Domesticity and relationships don’t gel with writers’ self-haunting. Doubting the truth? Google the lives of some of the more famous novelists: Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, f’n Kurt Cobain.

See? Told you.

And the most f’d up part about it all? The catch-22? The double-reverse hypocrisy of the whole thing? …none of them would’ve ever had it another way.

And neither would I.

So I’m suggesting to you and any loved ones you know who are contemplating joining the club:

Think twice. You’ll thank me later.

If you’re curious, all my madness is stored right here.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Top Nine Most Inspiring Things Ever

 

Top Nine List of Things That if They Don’t Inspire You, You’re Just an Awful Human Being 🙂

Disclaimer: It’s true, being a black-hearted SOB, I struggle to find inspiration. However, after I started digging deep, I realized that while inspirational posters make me ill, happy couples hurt my eyes, and cute puppies only make me think of Chinese food…somewhere deep inside I want to be inspired like the rest of humanity.

So here you go:

ChicagoAtNight

Chicago at night. (Or whatever huge city is closest to your heart.) I recently returned to my home city, and found it huger, bustlier, and more delicious than ever. I’m a wilderness lover, but there’s something about epic urban sprawl that makes me shiver in a good way.

 

 

Deep Space

I mean…holy shit.

Outer space. I recently watched Interstellar (in the aforementioned Chicago.) I won’t stuff a review down your sockets, but I will say that the thought of all those stars sprinkled into the void is quite possibly the most inspiring and terrifying thing ever. Just watch the tv series Cosmos and tell me it doesn’t make you feel small.

 

 

 

  CloudsSun

 Clouds. As kids we saw faces in them. As adults, they change our moods based on their thickness, their movement, and their greyness. Clouds are the personality of the sky, and rain the Earth’s most raw emotion.

 

 

  Music

 Music. I’m tempted to go on about how contemporary music will destroy the universe, but no…not today. I prefer massive guitar solos, bottomless soundtracks, and booming orchestras, but whatever works for you, works for me. Unless it’s Bieber. Or Miley. Or Toby Keith. But whatever else.

 

GManSpidey

And yes, that’s the G Man. He’s shooting webs. In case you wondered.

 

 Kids. All of ’em. I was reminded of how awesome kids are during this year’s Halloween. While we adults worry about how slutty or funny our costumes should be, kids roam the neighborhood free of concern, hunting for the next piece of candy.  I just wanna be ten years old again, my pillowcase brimming with taffy, candied apples, and cash (yeah, they used to give out hard cash in my ‘hood.) Anyone else with me?

 

 

 

 

 

ALightInMoria

A good movie watched alone. I’m on a kick of going to the movies alone. And while it’s awesome to have a friend or date to watch a good flick with, it’s downright awesome to do it solo. For those who haven’t tried it, I heartily suggest you try. You don’t have to share your popcorn. You don’t have to field questions about the plot or whether the female lead is hotter than your date. Alone in the theater, you can just sit your ass down and melt into the story.  

 

PrairieForever

Big ass open fields. Or whatever landscape does it for you. I love the woods and the mountains, but there’s something about an open prairie or endless field that leaves me feeling utterly vulnerable to the sky. Vulnerability is good for the mind, especially for artists. Unless you let the world in, you’ll never put anything out.

 

images

The Moon. Not to be confused with outer space, the Moon is something special. It pulls at us figuratively and literally. It’s there during the day sometimes, but holds dominion over the night. Once I finally finish my not-so-super-secret project of disabling all the streetlamps in my neighborhood, I’ll be able to see the Moon all the better. Anyone got any industrial strength wire cutters?

Ur Knight NK Cover Sketch Ver 2 - Copy

Yes, it is what you think it is. And yes, it’s coming soon.

 Finishing a plan long-laid. Ever built something that took days instead of hours? Ever invested years into a project? What’s it feel like when you’ve finished? Pretty…f’n…amazing, right? For the Tyrants of the Dead series, I wrote 1.1 million words and later pared it down to 700k. It’s taken me the better part of 12 years to complete. In a few months, the final book comes out. Satisfaction on a stick.

 

Until next time,

 J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

 

What if…? The Wizard of Oz were a dark fantasy movie

Witch

 

Welcome to the fourth installment of the What if…? series. Previous entries include dark remakes of The Lord of the Rings, Sleeping Beauty, and Star Wars. Like Mick Jagger, I see a red door and I want to paint it black.

Recently, I sat down with my son to watch The Wizard of Oz. I had plans to let him watch while I cooked, cleaned, and otherwise carved my way through the day. He’d watch a classic, and I’d get stuff done. It was a perfect plan. Etched in stone. Stronger than the foundations of the world. Right?

Wrong

Twenty seconds in, we were both hooked. I’ve never seen a kid so rapt and silent, and I’m not even talking about my son. Every cool memory of watching The Wizard of Oz as a boy flooded my wee black little heart. I never got to my chores. We sat there, my son and I, and soaked the movie up in all its glory. We loved it. There’s no other way to put it.

So what’s the deal? How could The Wiz get any better? How dare I dream of what it’d be like to change it? It’s already perfect in every way, right? Right??

Maybe…

What if I tweaked the movie? A lot. What if it was a dark fantasy epic, an adult, R-rated, midnight-hearted feast? What if, instead of an American classic families crowd on couches to watch every year, it was a movie that dropped your jaw open, terrified you, and made you geniunely fear for Dorothy and her friends? What if…indeed?

 Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. First and foremost, and I know I’ll get killed for this, but the dark version of The Wiz can’t be a musical. It just can’t. Instead of songs about rainbows and yellow brick roads, dark Dorothy needs to dream these things. As in dream them between her nightmares. Because let’s face it, this poor little girl almost lost her dog, ran away from home, whirled through an imaginary (or real?) tornado, and fell under the constant threat of a wicked witch. If she has dreams, at least some of them will be bad. So instead of cheery songs, I want scenes of her dreaming of the good life sandwiched between scenes of her dreaming of the horrors (let’s face it, Oz is a pretty messed up place) surrounding her.

Now that the singing is gone (or at least changed) we move along to the Witch. The bad one. The bad one who doesn’t have a house on her. She’s pretty creepy in the original. She’s got the evil castle, an army of flying monkeys, another army of British-guard looking dudes, and some nasty ideas for using her magic. So yeah, the foundation is laid. What we need now is screen time. More of it. I want to know why everyone hates her. I want to know why she’s wicked. Moreoever, I want her to win once in a while. Instead of getting walked on by Glinda, mildly splashed by Dorothy, and dismissed by Oz, I think she needs to kick some ass first. Why do the Munchkins hate her? Is it her green face and hook nose, or did she enslave an entire Munchkin city to build her castle? Why does Oz want her gone? Because she’s un-dateable as a fellow practitioner of magic? Or because she’s threatened to use her spells to corrupt all he’s worked to build? Give us 700% more Witch. And let her F things up in ways that obnoxious Glinda can’t just dismiss with a wave of her wand. Please?

And while we’re on the subjects of Glinda and Oz…

I’m fine with Oz the way he is. A megalomaniac. A king by way of opportunity, but not birthright. A techno-genius in a otherwise medieval-ish land. A liar and a faker, but ultimately not too terrible a guy. But once again, I need more of him. The movie is named after this dude, so let’s give him his due. I want secret labs beneath Oz. I want technological devices meant to destroy the Witch (and her sister) but not yet ready for service. If she has evil spells and armies of nasty critters, perhaps he has equally formidable forces. Fewer critters, but better weapons. More power, but more reluctance to use it. C’mon Dark Oz. Step it up.

And Glinda… Oh Glinda. If you can undo anything the Witch does with a wave of your wand, maybe you should do more. As in lots more. As in use your magic to take the bad Witch down. Otherwise, I need a reason. Maybe Glinda is a coward at heart. Maybe she’s only allowed to (total cop out) use her magic for good. Or maybe she once was a bad witch, and now she’s having doubts about destroying someone she used to be. Or maybe, deep down, she knows the Wicked Witch would crush her in a duel. Yeah. That’s the reason I’m going with. Glinda’s good ain’t good enough. She’s nothing but a meddler, a poker in the fire, but ultimately unable to stop the bad girls.

OzDirtRoad

The brown-scale stays. Eeriest part of the movie, in some ways, the colorless plains of Kansas.

Who lives:

Since it’s all just a dream (I think) and Dorothy’s friends are manifestations of the people she knows in real-life, we can’t kill off as many good guys as I usually would in a dark fantasy movie. So…the Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man, ToTo, and Oz are all spared, as is Dorothy herself.

Who dies:

 Enslaved Munchkins who build the Wicked Witch’s fortress. Glinda’s sister, in a flashback being cooked by the Wicked Witch. Some of the flying monkeys and Oh-E-Oh! soldiers, cut down by the newer, badder Tin Man.

  And last but hardly least: the scenery. To grit up The Wiz, we need sharper, more monolithic representations of the wholesome set pieces in the original. The Wicked Witch’s Fortress: Smoking, haunted, macabre, and surrounded by a poisonous lake. The Emerald City: Huge and bustling, stuffed to the nines with Oz’s devices, inventions, and gadgetry. The Munchkin Village: Cute and merry as ever, but lying in the shadow of the previous village, turned to ash by the Wicked Witch. The Yellow Brick Road: Clear and easy to follow in some places, shrouded in darkness at others.

Oh, and btw, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion are at heart magical beings. I mean…a metal man, a dude made out of horse food, and a talking lion…I figure all three were created either by Oz…or quite possibly even by the Witch herself. Dark Wiz of Oz will explain. Even if briefly.

Final disclaimer: the original movie kicks the shit out of my dark imagining. Don’t for second think I hope otherwise.

Catch you later,

Buy this.

J Edward Neill

 

 

Casting for Dark Moon Daughter the movie

Dark_Moon_Daughter-Boobs

 A few weeks ago, I geeked out and created a dream cast for a film version of Down the Dark Path. Upon reflection, it’ll probably take two movies to bring DDP to life (but definitely not three – a la Peter Jackson’s catastrophic dissection of The Hobbit.) No matter. Reality isn’t a problem.

The whole exercise proved so engrossing and fun that I’m taking it a step further. Therefore, if only in my dreams, I’m bringing Dark Moon Daughter – Book Two in the Tyrants series, to the big screen. Ultimately, I plan to write a real-life screenplay, but that’s years away, and by the time I get it greenlit, my current cast of stars will likely be halfway in their graves.

So…

Given complete and utter freedom, and without concern of money or actors’ schedules, my roster for Dark Moon Daughter is:

Andelusia

 
Emmy Rossum – Repeating her performance of Andelusia Anderae, the ridiculously good-looking Lady Rossum will have to dye her hair black, wear raggedy dresses, and wield world-melting magic. It’s cool. I’m sure she’s up to the challenge.

 

TheWarlock

 

Tom Hiddleston – Forget Loki. Forget anything even remotely comic-booky. In Dark Moon Daughter, Tom will be asked to play the angsty, tormented, and sinister Warlock. He’ll wear dozens of different costumes. He’ll narrate off-screen. He’ll conquer entire nations without so much as touching a sword. Bad men require great actors. Tom is unspeakably good for this role.

 

KingOrumna

Robbie Coltrane – You’ll know him best as the furry, hulking good guy from Harry Potter. But I think Robbie is perfect to play the corpulant, lethargic, and piteous King Orumna. Imagine him filling up a throne, stuffing his gullet with wine, mocking everything and everyone who attends his court. It’ll be beautiful.

 

 

GhurkGhurlain

 Daniel Radcliffe – While we’re on the topic of Harry Potter actors, I stumbled across another one well-suited for Dark Moon Daughter. Daniel is thin, pale, and dark-haired. He’s the quintessential Thillrian, meaning he’s perfect to play Ghurk Ghurlain. Yeah, ok…he’ll have to smear his face with Undergrave dust and read most of his lines in the dark. And yeah…he’ll be far from heroic. But being a Thillrian nobleman ain’t what it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’re forced to dig to the bottom of the world.

 

Ona

 

Jessica Brown Findlay – Who better to skulk the hallways of the fortress Midnon, crooning her miserable songs? What lovelier face to seduce the noblest hero? Downton Abbey’s JBF, especially the pale, haunted version we see here, was born to play the role of Ona. Treacherous yet impossibly honest, young yet guileful, the actress suits the role….or is it the other way around? 

 

Grimwain

Richard Armitage – And now for the serious stuff. Richard has always struck me as slightly aloof, slighty cold (in his acting roles, not real life.) It’s also known that he’s a skilled swordsmen, as proven in The Hobbit and his Guy of Gisborne role in the Robin Hood tv series. Given his skills, I’d cast him as the interminably cruel, utterly irredeemable Grimwain. He’ll get tons of screen time…and the chance to be the baddest bad guy who ever lived. You don’t have to talk much, Richard. Just get to butchering.

Mogru

 

Dave Bautista – He won’t get any lines. He won’t even get to show his face. But someone with a terrifying presence needs to play the horror Mogru. Imagine this dude decked out fully undead, fully armored in obsidian plate mail. He’s just a tiny droplet of the awful magic the Ur intend to release. And based on his skill shown in Guardians of the Galaxy, Dave can add just the right amount of thuggery and fear to Mogru’s dread-inspiring role.

 

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro – He’s not an actor. I don’t want him to be one here. I only need him to be a part-time producer…and the costume designer for both the deathless Uylen and the horrific Sarcophages. His work in Pan’s Labyrinth inspired me in many ways. Need ya, Guillermo. Money is no object.

 

And of course, the roles these fine actors played in Down the Dark Path will need to be reprised:

Henry CavillGarrett Croft

Chris PrattRellen Gryphon

Daniel SouthernSaul of Elrain

Joanne WhalleySara Gryphon

So who’s up for helping me finish the screenplay?

Let’s do this.

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Down the Dark Path

The Ultimate Bucket List

buy-absinthe

Yes. It’s on the list.

 

 

Yep. It’s true. We’re not getting any younger.

I know some might say bucket lists are cheesy, unrealistic, or just plain foolish.

Doesn’t matter to me. I’ve made one. Fact: I’ve posted an exact copy of it on my fridge. Also fact: I’ve only put things on the list that A: I haven’t already done, and B: I can’t just walk out my front door and do.

Because a real bucket list should be hard as hell to complete. Otherwise, why bother?

So here’s my list. Fifty items strong. Some of them are fun, others shallow, and still others straight from the heart. I’d love it if you’d post your top bucket items in the comments section. If nothing else, I can steal borrow your ideas.

50 Hard-as-Hell Bucket Stuffers

1. Go caving in Kentucky. As in way deep in the earth. As in if I get lost, the rest of the bucket list is screwed.

2. Write a book twenty books. Yes seriously.

3. Hold a four-minute plank. (Kinda stuck on two minutes right now)

4. Read the entire LOTR trilogy to my kid. As a bedtime story. Because bedtime stories should be epic.

5. Perform a meaningful charitable act. As in a weekend at a soup kitchen. Or ten weekends. Whichever.

6. Escape office life before it kills me. The dude from Office Space had it right. We weren’t meant to live like this.

7. Spend the night in a haunted house. Or a sanitarium. If only to know whether all the Ghost Hunter-type shows hold water.

8. Climb a mountain. A real mountain. Preferably something volcanic.

9. Be an extra in a movie. (Free food!)

10. Plant at least ten trees that will outlive me.

11. Make one of my books into a movie. Even if it’s a pitiful ten minute-long Youtube flick.

12. Wander the Scottish Highlands. Confound the locals with an over-the-top William Wallace accent.

13. Teach my grandkid(s) things to annoy their parents. (Need you on this one, G Man.)

14. Live long enough to see the Cubs play in (they don’t even have to win) the World Series.

15. Play lead guitar in a band. Even if for just one night.

16. Paint something stunning.

17. Eat Maine lobster. While in Maine. And on the same trip, eat Maryland crab. While in Maryland.

18. Try my hand as a quarterback coach. For kids.

19. Road trip through Sonoma, CA.

20. Be ripped when I’m 50. Wait. Forget 50. Be ripped when I’m 60.

21. Try every food I hated as a kid to see if I still hate them. (I will.)

22. Win a costume contest. While wearing something truly terrifying.

SkullBucketReal

Bucket lists are hard.

23. Go to a Super Bowl (as long as the Packers aren’t in it.)

 24. Buy a dinghy. Wake up at the ass-crack of dawn. Take my son fishing. Return home at dusk.

25. Live tech-free for 30 days straight. No cell phone. No laptop. No tablet. No TV. (This might be the hardest item on the list…)

26. If space travel to Mars is perfected, I’m there. I want to be the first person to write a book about the Red Planet while on the Red Planet. If space travel isn’t perfected, change this bucket item to: drink a Texas margarita while in Texas. Those are equal, right?

27. Drink a bottle of absinthe. With friends. In Europe. Preferably in Copenhagen.

28. Completely overhaul my wardrobe. Because if Joan Rivers were still alive, I’d be on her worst-dressed list. Seriously. I’m like a twelve year-old up in here.

29. Live in London. For a week. A month. However long it takes.

30. Tour every major pub in Dublin, Ireland. Alone. No friends for this trip.

31. While we’re on the subject of pubs, build a ‘pub room’ in my house. Neon signs, futbol banners, stools, pool table, low lights, cute bartender. The works.

32. Start an herb garden. No, not that kind of herb.

33. Grow a Mephistopheles beard. Pointy and black.

SkullBucket

Thank goodness for skull buckets.

34. Learn how to make wine. (Gonna need something to drink after the Ebola-pocalypse.)

35. Learn to play the cello.

36. Help someone else fulfill their own bucket list.

37. Shave my cats to look like lions.

38. Spend an entire summer living on the beach.

39. Teach my kid to beat me at chess. Bow humbly when he does.

40. Rescue a turtle. (You know…the ones who try to cross the expressway.)

SkullBuck

Seriously. There’s a huge market for these things.

41. Leaving this space blank _________________________ for someone else to suggest a bucket list item.

42. Find a clear night and a place from which I can see the Milky Way. Marvel hopelessly at the sky and wonder it’s all about.

43. Find the recipe for my dearly departed grandmother’s homemade stew. Cook it for a big group of friends and family.

44. Kiss a beautiful woman in Paris. Corny, I know. Don’t care.

45. Make myself useful. Save someone’s life.

46. Invent a new board game. Nothing complicated. Something like checkers or othello.

47. Remain apolitical. Even if I make it long enough to be a crotchety old wizard.

48. Start the tradition of giving gifts on my birthday.

49. Try sushi.

50. Pay for all this stuff with a thriving writing career.

 ***

That’s it. I’m tired. I’ll start making this stuff happen tomorrow.

 J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Author of The Sleepers and Old Man of Tessera

Down the Dark Path

 

Hollow Empire – Final Episode!

Vadim, Nadya, Cassidy, and Murgul walk the line between life and death.

Will they join the rest of Vhur in death…

…or survive with the hope of finding peace in the Hollow Empire?

Includes bonus chapters for Isidora and Little Lys.

Season 1 – Final Episode – Now available via Amazon and Smashwords.

HollowEmpireEP6

Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

John McGuire & J Edward Neill

J Sporting News

SnapThis1

What does this image have to do with the post? Absolutely nothing.

 

It’s hard being a sports fan. Damn hard.

Sometimes I wish I could stop, turn off the TV, take a long walk, and ignore the plights of all my favorite teams.

No. That’s not even a little bit true. I never wish that.

 I’m a diehard Chicago fan (except for the Sox…hate those guys.) I bleed Cubbie Blue, live and die by the health of Derrick Rose’s knee, love and hate Jay Cutler, and boil with pride for the Blackhawks. But whatever team you like, whatever city you’re from, odds are you know how hard it is. To watch someone else’s team carve deep into the postseason, to endure your hated rivals hoisting a trophy, to be excited at kickoff…and completely gutted by the middle of the third quarter. It sucks something awful. We’ve all been there. 

Such is a sports fan’s life.

So let’s start by talking about football. My personal favorite, the NFL. Violent. Barbaric. Crueler on its players than any other game. Gloriously inglorious. Perfect and imperfect.

I love it.

Over the last few years, I’ve heard, read, and endured hundreds of reports and sound bites regarding the health of the NFL’s players. About concussions, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy,) ragged knees, spinal injuries, and retirements ruined by pain. About how someday it’ll all come crashing down. I’ve followed Peter King’s columns, SI.com, and the metric ton of non-news news ESPN heaps upon us every day.

‘Wear better helmets,’ some cry out.

‘Too violent!‘ claim others.

‘They knew what they were getting into! Look at how much money they get paid!‘ many fans will declare. 

Ultimately, who really cares? Not me. And statistically speaking, not you either. NFL ratings are higher than ever in the history of the game. If any of us are really all that bothered by a game played by wife-beaters, drunk-drivers, and future invalids, it really doesn’t show up on Sunday (Or Saturday, Monday, and Thursday.) This being the case, we should all stand up and ask sports reporters around the USA to let it go. Let’s talk about the game and only the game. Let’s let the drama die. Scrutinize any cross-section of Americans and you’ll find out all sorts of awful details you didn’t want to know. The NFL is no different. If it dies one day due to its violent legacy, so be it. But until then, most of us have proven we still love it when someone gets de-cleated on the gridiron. Especially if it’s Aaron Rodgers

CutButt

“This game is hard. Especially when you turn the ball over four times in two quarters.”

 Ok baseball, you’re up next. I’m here to say that I love you. Your purity, your pace, your elegance.

But you’re really getting on my nerves.  

I want to talk about a number. The number is 162. The amount of games each team plays (not including Grapefruit/Cactus League games.) Used to be I loved that on any given day from April-September I could turn on the boob-tube and watch the Cubs get crushed. Used to be I craved the feeling that the season would never end.

Not any more. 162 is just too many damn games. By a long shot.

Would it be blasphemy to say that the average MLB game doesn’t mean a f’n thing? Is it weird that even the most spectacular win or heartbreaking loss only amounts to 0.61% of each season? What if I told you that if each team played two three-game home-and-away series’ with every other team in their half of the league, the season could be a brisk, snappy 84 games long? Does it really take 162 to decide which teams aren’t even the best, but simply worthy of entering a three-round tournament that could take up to 19 more games to find a winner? No. It doesn’t.

Why are NFL and College Football games so damn thrilling? Because each one can make or break a season. Lose one NFL game and that’s 6.25% of your season. Lose a college football game and that’s 8%. Gone. Done. Untouchable. My plea to the MLB is to chop the season in half. Please. Run two 82-game seasons every year if you have to. Have a World Series in July and another in October. But for the love of god, don’t make me watch Cubs baseball (games 108-162) in August and September. We’re already 17 games out. What’s the fucking point?

 End baseball rant. Truth is; I’m really enjoying the postseason. The one-game Wild Card playoffs are kinda sorta what inspired my shorter season hopes. And how about that Royals v A’s game?? Needed new underwear after that one.

 Ok. So lets talk about the upcoming NBA season. Anyone? Ugh. Never mind.

What about hockey? Are Patrick Kane and the boys gonna dig deep and make another Cup run? Or will it be the Kings? The Bruins? Hello? Anyone listening? Oh, that’s right. I live in Georgia, home of exactly seventeen NHL hockey fans.

Good sports things going on right now:
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Steve Smith Sr., Alshon Jeffrey, Antone Smith, Eric Hosmer, The f’n Orioles, Derrick Rose’s knee (for now,) the Yellow Jackets, Notre Dame, the Gators sucking, Jeter’s final at bat.

Bad sports things going on right now:

Wife/GF beaters (don’t even deserve mentions,) UGA Football, Oregon Football, everything happening in Jacksonville, FL, the Texas Rangers, the Chicago Bears defense, almost every NFL team’s defense, Geno Smith, sideline reporting, NFL halftime shows, beer commercials, car commercials, mutha f’n GEICO commercials, the Cardinals being in the NLCS, the Packers being in first place, and Lebron getting traded to another team in the same goddamn division as the Bulls.

That’s it for now. Go buy this and this.

Love, 

J Edward Neill

Hollow Empire – Episode 5 AND Complete Softcover Edition!

In the aftermath of a horrific plague, the nation of Vhur teeters on utter annihilation. Its cities lie in ruin. Its king hides in his tower. Its people rot in their graves. Surrounded by death and suffering, four survivors struggle to live their separate lives. But the lords of Vhur have different plans in mind for them. For soon must come the Night of Knives.
 
With elegant cover art by Amanda Makepeace

The softcover edition of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

Complete Season One – Episodes 1-6

HollowEmpireFront1

 

Or pick up Episode 5 – e-version

HollowEmpireEP5

Both available now!

 

All Hallows Book Sale

Autumn…

Halloween…

…my favorite time of the year.

Because I’m crazy, I’ve decided to discount several of my novels. From today until Halloween at midnight, the Kindle and e-versions of Down the Dark Path AND Dark Moon Daughter have been reduced to an epically low price of $0.99 each. Both books are normally $6.99. Yes. I’m out of my mind. I know it.

So for those on the fence about investing in the darkest fantasy series ever, please push over your tombstones, crawl out of your graves, and get some. Here. Now. Today.  

Soul Orb DDP Cover Slightly Brighter

The tale of Andelusia Anderae and the world-ending struggle between Furyon and Graehelm…only $0.99.

Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle Cover

Seeking the source of her budding powers, Andelusia journeys to a land at the edge of the known world…only $0.99.

 

And for readers with non-Kindle e-readers, head on over to Smashwords and use these coupon codes to get either book for (yeah, you guessed it…) $0.99!

Soul Orb DDP Cover Slightly Brighter

Use Coupon Code HP95A to get Down the Dark Path for $0.99!

Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle Cover

Use Coupon Code DQ75B to get Dark Moon Daughter for $0.99!!

At 12:01 AM Nov 1st (Halloween’s unfortunate demise) prices will return to normal.

Much love,

J Edward Neill

The best things about autumn

Trees

The way the trees looks like this. Fiery leaves scattered across every surface imaginable.

Rain

The long days and nights of nothing but rain. Cold, cold rain. No other rhythm like it in the world.

burningleaves

The way burning leaves smell. Huge piles of ’em. All the smoking, grey clouds they emit. The way you can smell it from miles away.

 

windtwilight

Twilights like this. The barren branches sleeping beneath the burning skies. The last birds escaping.

 

Punkin

Pumpkins still glowing long after the night has settled. Nothing eerier yet strangely as comforting than a craggy-toothed punkin’ smiling as you enjoy an evening walk.

Cricket

The way the insects sound. It’s different than in spring (fresh and waking) or in summer (cicadas always whirring). In autumn, crickets own the night.

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The wind blowing through the dry, dead grass. In some places, it’s ceaseless. In others, meandering.

Clouds

The way the sky looks like this most of the time. Leastways where I come from…

ComingFire

Listening to music like this. Especially at night. Bonus points if you can name this particular album.

 

HalloweenMovie

Watching movies like this. Curled up on the couch alone or with a friend. There’s no better season for horror than autumn.

Creepy Costumes

Dreaming of being the most terrifying kid in the neighborhood on All Hallows. And maybe just pulling it off. We’ve got nothing on the way our great grandfathers used to do it.

Nothing beats autumn. It’s the best season for writing, the best season for existing. Summer is great for sports, spring for de-hibernating, and winter for all things indoors, but autumn……sips of Scotch on the back patio, bbq’s, meaningful football, All Hallows, walking in the drizzle, sleeping with your windows open, listening to the wind, black cats, fallow fields, cawing crows, spooky twilights, grey dawns, crimson leaves, crackling fireplaces, roasted marshmallows, camping, creeping, raking, burning, and watching the world get ready to sleep.

I’m glad you’re here, autumn. Let’s do this.

J Edward Neill