The Dead of Summer Book Sale

It’s hot outside.

Really. F’ing. Hot.

It’s so hot, I’m putting Dirty Black Summer on permanent repeat.

It’s so stifling, spiders are invading my house to escape the beating sun.  Big spiders. Poisonous spiders.

It’s so murderously muggy, birds are falling to their deaths in my yard.

And I’m deadly serious about those last two.

In this summer of dying animals, roasting insects, and melted Kindles, you’ve got two choices for how to spend your leisure time:

1. Head outside and bake with everyone else

2. Grab an e-book and put your heart on ice

I’m here for you.

Introducing the Down the Dark Path Kindle series. Four e-books. The first in the series is $0.99. The other three are only $1.99 each.

DDP mini 1

Book I. Introduction to the darkest fiction epic you’ll ever read. Your price: $0.99.

 DDP mini 2 DDP mini 3 DDP Mini 4

What’s it all about?

In Malog, the sun never shines and the rain never ceases.

Sorcerers from the ancient world gather to plot the end of all things. A civilization better left in its grave crawls to the edge of resurrection. As Andelusia, the beautiful but unwilling sorceress, turns against herself, Graehelm’s last warriors stand on fields of bones to face the Furyon hordes.

If the Grae fail, annihilation awaits.

If Andelusia sips once more from the darkness, she will reign as queen to watch the world die.

Each book is also available as a sexy black softcover.

It’s never been easier to start your journey Down the Dark Path.

J Edward Neill

(Art by Amanda Makepeace and Eileen Herron)

20 Crazy Things my 4-Year Old Said

For the last year, I’ve kept an impromptu record of all the nutty stuff my kid, the G Man, has dropped on me. Whenever he asks a deep question, makes an innocent faux pas, accidentally crushes someone’s ego, or just plain blurts out something hilarious, I take a mental snapshot and write it down.

These are the funniest of his quotes. They’re verbatim.


* * *

Dad, when I turn your age, I want to be fat. Like you.”

If that kid on the slide slaps me again, I’m going to punch him in the nose. But if the big kid…see him, Daddy?…if he slaps me, you have to fight him.”

Can we play Legos? I want us to build a huuuuuge tower together. And a dragon. And a green Creeper from Minecraft. I’ll build it all. You have to sit still and watch me.” – Oooo boy. Can’t wait!

For $106 dollars, you’re allowed to have another beer.” – He held out his hand, expecting immediate cash.

Cutler 1

Hi. I’m ‘G’ Cutler, QB for the Bears. I’ve cornered the market on disdain. And I didn’t even have to throw 25 interceptions.

Can we look down into the sewers, Daddy? That’s where the monsters pee!”

Can you make the pancake look like a Metroid? No, Daddy. They have three teeth. Like this!” – Rips his pancake to tatters.

No, Daddy. I’m not Superman. I’m not a good guy. I’m Zod. I just blasted you with my laser eyes. And now you’re cooked.”

See that little girl across the street? Yes, her. That’s my girlfriend. I’m going swimming with her.”

If you die, everything melts except your skeleton. Your skeleton lasts forever. And if you’re a magic skeleton, you can still move around.”

I had a dream, Daddy. The moon was right there. (points out the window to the front yard) It had a lot of gravity. And then it went Boom!”

I can’t eat this chicken. It has spikes in it. Only dogs can eat spikes.”

Cutler 2

I told you, Dad. I’m the King. My shirt even says it.

 “The frogs make all that noise at night because they’re having a birthday party. When they ribbit, they’re singing Happy Birthday to the baby frogs.”

I wish Mellow Mushroom brought pizza to our house just like Papa Johns.” – We all wish that, G Man. Every last one of us.

Our spider friend is gone, dad. I think a bird ate him. Actually, no. He just moved to a new apartment.”

Sticky (the cat) went blind because you yelled at her. And then she ran into the wall. Now she can only see shadows.” – Apparently he’s into dark fiction…just like me.

Lobster 1

Yeah, the lobster suit is funny. But the truth here lies in what the shirt says…

 “Daddy, I’m trying to tell you something. Look at me when I’m talking to you.” – Wait…I thought it worked the other way around.

Remember that one time when I barfed on your face? That was funny.”

Ugh. I’m tired, Daddy. I’m out of gas. Can I have some ice cream? Ice cream will fill up my tank.” – Not sure that’s how it works, but ok.

I’ll hit more home runs if I tell my feet to keep quiet.” – In response to me correcting his baseball footwork.

Daddy, put your shirt back on please. No one wants to see that.”

Lobster 2

Ok. Close it down. We’re done.

* * *

Four years old…the best age ever.

Like epic, not-at-all-for-kids stories? Click here.

Want something to make your coffee table look awesome? Go here.

J Edward Neill

The Lord of Infinity – A Creative Interview with Dylan Kinnett

This week’s interview is with Dylan Kinnett. He’s a Baltimore denizen and creative writer extraordinaire, and his visit is special for the Tessera Guild. The reason: Dylan is the taller, younger, and better looking brother to J Edward Neill (yep, that’s me.) I was first introduced to Dylan’s fascinating style of writing in his original release of Infinity’s Kitchen. And now that he’s gone global, he’s up next in our ongoing Creative Interview series.

So let’s get started!

* * *

Hey there, latest Tessera victim. Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, and what you love:

Hi, my name is Dylan Kinnett. I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. I’m not originally from Baltimore, but I wonder: after spending 10 years in a place, do you become “from” that place? What does it really mean to be “from” a place, anyway? Does it just mean that you live there, that you’re proud to live there? In any case, the place where you live is part of who you are. Despite whatever repetitive loop you may have seen on cable TV lately, Baltimore is a charming place to be, and I love it here.

In layman’s terms, describe your unique style of writing:

That’s a difficult question because the layman’s terms aren’t particularly accurate for what I’ve been writing lately. If you ask a layman what “poetry” means, they’ll probably describe rhyme, meter, rhythm, and they may go on to say that it’s supposed to be about romantic themes and imagery. I’m trying to avoid all that, and to write something else, something new. I’ve discovered that the laymen are actually quite open to these new things, so long as I don’t use too many confusing old words for those things. Is it poetry? Sure, but I don’t go out of my way to call it that. In general, I’m just trying to do new things. I also like to write short plays, stories, and I dabble in performance art.

Please describe for us your fascinating new release, Litanies and Reiterations:

Litanies and Reiterations is a chapbook, which is a small book of writings. The works within the chapbook got their start as a collection of commonplace phrases. I’d find the phrases in everyday conversation, in song lyrics, blog comments, and catalogs: all over the place, really. Then, I worked the phrases into some writings that are repetitive, reiterative, or chant-like, and that’s what the title is about. One of the pieces, for example, is about how often politicians talk about the world and their work in four-year increments, and about how arbitrary and absurd it is to think about the world that way. Another one makes fun of how many love songs are on the air. It’s a playfully sarcastic little book.

Talk about Infinity’s Kitchen and the interesting things readers might find therein:

Infinity’s Kitchen is a literary journal that I started a few years ago that has grown into a quarterly reading series as well. As the editor, I’m looking to feature works that are somehow the product of an interesting new recipe. In order to contribute to the publication, its website or reading series, authors and artists are asked to answer a question: what is experimental about your creative work or process? The word “experimental” is a difficult one; some examples might help. Some of the interesting things we’ve published include a film and pirate radio project, poems made with Jello letters, and a reading from gigantic broadsheet printings revived from the 18th century.


Do you have an ultimate artistic goal you’re pursuing?

Yes, but I don’t know what it is yet. I’ll create something, it doesn’t reach the goal, so I keep creating.

Creatively speaking, what’s next for you?

I’m on vacation this week, but I do hope to finish writing a ten-minute play that I’m working on. The play is a follow-up to a morbid parody about astronauts that was performed a few years ago, but I’m finding that to be a tough act to follow.

* * *

It’s a real treat to have a talent like Dylan stop by, and it’s especially neat to encounter his awesome style of artistic expression. Here’s a few more Dylan-related tidbits and links for you to devour:

Artistic statement:

His latest release, Litanies and Reiterationsavailable in paperback and in e-book formats from Apple and Amazon.

Infinity’s Kitchen

* * *

Thanks again to Dylan for stopping by!

Everyone stay tuned for the next Creative Interview!

J Edward Neill

Author of the brain-tingling Coffee Table Philosophy series.

Painting with Darkness, Part IV

A few weeks ago, I received an encouraging reception for my latest painting, ‘The Emperor’s Vision.

Which made me want to share how this dark canvas came to life.

When I started working on this one at summer’s beginning, I knew I wanted to paint another companion piece to my fantasy series, Down the Dark Path. I wanted something stark, something to fit my mood. And with it being summer, I felt I wanted to paint something anti-seasonal…meaning a canvas I’d usually wait til winter to finish because of its cold, almost bitter tone.

Moreover, this canvas was the last of a big pile given to me by my patron, whose name I dare not utter here. So I figured I’d do something special…something they’d appreciate.

Thus I began:

Darkness 0

In the beginning, indecisiveness claimed me. The 20″ x 30″ canvas sat for three weeks looking like this. See that pale line left of center, it’s from an accidental varnish spill. No big deal, I figured.

Darkness 1

Finally, I started adding shapes. At this stage, I wasn’t sure whether or not to go completely abstract. These weird little darknesses gave me all sorts of ideas. Never mind the sepia tone. That’s just from my shitty camera.

Darkness 2

About one week from finish, I decided to go mega-gloomy. No color. No signs of life. Just a pale river leading to the sea and an ocean of daggerlike towers. Readers of my fantasy series might recognize this place as Morellellus, gathering place for the Emperor’s grand army.

The Emperors Vision

The finished product. My camera is crap, but the colors here are sorta kinda close to the real thing. The pale lights are windows. The shadows are long and lean. It’s no place I’d want to live…what about you?

 I hope you enjoy ‘The Emperor’s Vision.’ For more of my canvas work, nose around over here.

To get into something even darker, check this out:

J Edward Neill

There’s no such thing as ‘indie’

The Accolade by Edmund Blair Leighton
Be like this guy…and afterward stand up and take the damn sword.
 The Accolade –
Neo-Gothic – Edmund Blair Leighton


Disclaimer: This article was written with artists, authors, and musicians in mind, but I think it applies to everyone


Humility – A modest or low view of one’s importance; diffidence

Confidence – The feeling or belief that one can rely on something; especially one’s self


There’s a famous saying. It goes something like: “Confidence without humility is better known as arrogance. Yet humility without confidence will ever be viewed as cowardice.”

Ok. That’s not a real famous saying. I just made it up.

But it feels true.

Anymore, seems there are two sorts of people trolling the earth. On one hand you’ve got your Narcissists. Yeah. You know ’em. I’m convinced these folks don’t even know about their self-centeredness. Maybe when they were three years old, mommy and daddy didn’t teach them how to think; they taught the poor kid what to think. And now they’ve got it all figured out. They talk in absolutes, oblivious to the idea that their point-of-view is but one of billions. Narcissists are everywhere. We’ve seen them, heard them, bumped into them, and probably at one point or several during our lives, we’ve been them. It’s ok. No big deal. Kinda the world we live in now.

On the other hand, you’ve got your Humblists (Yeah, made that up, too.) This is the group we should care about. These are well-meaning people. They don’t assume they know everything. In fact, they’re fine with not knowing everything. Odds are, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably a Humblist. You think stuff. You know stuff. You do stuff. And yet somehow you’re pretty positive the world doesn’t revolve around you.

But perhaps, Lord and Lady Humblist, it should.

…once in a while.

And so…

I give you:

The Little List of Artists’ ‘Humble‘ Habits I Want to Stop Seeing Forever:

All uses of the word aspiring. If you’ve written something, you’re not an aspiring writer; you’re a writer. If you’ve painted something, you’re not an aspiring artist; you’re an artist. To call yourself aspiring implies that even though you’ve started to do something, you’re somehow unworthy. That’s nonsense.

Procrastination due to self-doubt. If you’re going to not do something, find a better reason than self-doubt. It’s miniature suicide. Every time you convince yourself you can’t do something, you kill 367 of your own brain cells…and 30 of everyone else’s, too.

Tweeting or Facebooking motivational memes (aka: cat posters.) Let’s face it; no one who’s really gonna create kickass art, write novels, or make beautiful music needs that kind of motivation. Words compel nothing. Passionate, self-lit fires in people’s souls compel everything.

Undervaluing your artistic work. First, I understand if artists want to pitch a one-time sale or freebie offer. That’s part of the bizniz. And I also understand artists who want to do it all for the love and never make a dime. That’s cool, too. But I’m talking about you, starving artist. Yeah…you. If you’re going to sell your stuff, sell it. Charge more than $0.99 for your f’ing awesome fantasy novel. Earn more than $50 on that amazing painting that took you three weeks to finish. If you’re in it to win it, tell discounting to suck your ____.  Charge what it’s worth, and not a penny less.

Posting crap tons of other authors’ quotes. Make up your own quotes. They’ll mean more to you…I promise.

The phrase self-published. Lose it. If you’re published in any form, you’re legit. Whether you blurted out a tiny lil’ book of poems via Amazon or you’re J.K. Rowling blasting our faces with more Harry Potter-ness, you’re the real deal. The words self-published sag beneath the suggestion that if you did it yourself, you’re somehow not legitimate. BS.

And finally…any reference to the word indie. Indie authors, musicians, painters, f’ing flag-football players. You’re not indie. You’re the real deal. If you’ve done anything in life, anything at all, you didn’t do it indie. You didn’t indie mow your lawn, did you? You didn’t indie cook dinner. Your work is just as valid as those getting paid to do it professionally. It might lack the polish or talent of well-marketed artists, but then again, it might be way fucking better.

I don’t know what else to say. I guess I’m done.

* * *

Like treacherous, not-at-all-for-kids fantasy? Check this.

Like fun, quizzy, party books you can leave on your coffee table forever? Check this.


J Edward Neill

Now available – 101 Sex Questions!

101 Sex Questions

A sexy departure from the Coffee Table Philosophy series

It’s quick. It’s dirty. It’s fun. It’s a deeper, sweatier take on philosophy. Meant for hot nights alone with your partner, candid conversations between lovers, and parties during which (almost) everything goes.

Includes quizzes about sex, games, and sexy distractions to keep you occupied for hours. Read just one Question…and you’ll want to drown in them all.

101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

For a sample of what you’re in for, check here.

And if you like your philosophy cleaner (and darker) check these out:

101 Questions for Midnight 101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500 101 Questions for Men Cover 101 Questions for Women Cover untitled-200x300

J Edward Neill

Let the Bodies

Let the Bodies

A creepy J Edward Neill short story

Now available for Kindles and e-readers. Only $0.99

When one person goes missing…

…every day…forever… 

…poor little Mia doesn’t stand a chance.

Or does she?


Let the Bodies is the sequel to Old Man of Tessera. It’s a standalone story. You don’t have to read one to enjoy the other.

For those who want to get into the prequel, check it here:


J Edward Neill

I know nothing…

The older I get, the more I realize that…much like Jon Snow…I know nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Age, experience, intuition…all out the window.

Waiting for boom

See that tall building? I’m standing on it. I’m waiting for something useful to pop in my head before the meteor hits me in the face.

If that game from the 90’s, You Don’t Know Jack, applied to real-life, I’d lose. Badly.

Want a few good examples of my know-nothingness?

Glad you asked:

* * *

I don’t understand why anyone gets offended by anything. Ever.

I don’t know a damn thing about women. Or men, for that matter. Hell, I don’t even see eye-to-eye with my cat. Probably because she’s blind. Whatever.

I can’t grasp why pizza, cake, beer, ice cream, and butter-slathered steaks are bad for people. I mean…on a scientific level maybe. But with all this science, I don’t get why we haven’t invented perfectly healthy triple-chocolate ganache cake. What the hell, science?

I don’t understand superhero movies. At all. Especially the dudes (and girls) who wear capes and garish costumes. Wouldn’t a cape just trip you up when the worst shit was about to go down? Wouldn’t a bright red leotard just make you easier to hit? Hell if I know.

Skulhed Face

My superhero mask. Note the easy-to-hit face.

 I can’t wrap my head around procrastination. Isn’t doing something right fucking now a better idea than waiting?

I guess that means I don’t understand waiting.

 I really don’t get the whole introvert vs extrovert discussion. Does it matter? Help me understand please.

I can’t understand dogs. As in how they’ve managed to enslave so many people to their weird walking, pooping, and biting things rituals.

No one understands cats. I think you’re all with me on this one.

I don’t have a clue why some babies cry through the night. Isn’t that counter-intuitive to survival? Did ancient civilizations go all Sparta on the loud babies and hurl them over cliffs just to silence them? I dunno.

I don’t get cell phones. Specifically texting a lot. Nor do I get the iWatch. Or the Fitbit. Or why runners wear heart-monitors/biometric space-time distortion devices around their chests. Jesus dude, just fucking run.

 I definitely don’t get having political allegiances.

Or online dating.

Or dating at all. (Just have sex with your friends.)

I never understood classroom learning. Or professors lecturing. Or 30 kids squirming in their seats listening to teachers talk. Most people learn best by actually doing shit, right? I obviously have no idea what I’m talking about.

I don’t get runway modeling. No one wears that stuff. I mean…ok…the girls are gorgeous. Maybe it’s just about watching hot woman strut around nearly naked. I suppose I understand that. Maybe.

 Never grasped watching a ton of TV. It’s 97% commercials, isn’t it? But even commercial-free, that shit zombifies people.

Speaking of zombies, I don’t get the zombie craze. It looks cool, but I still don’t get it.

Someone explain cosplaying to me. Is it just the hoping-to-see-a-hot-girl thing again? No idea.

I don’t get bae.

Or selfie sticks.

Or duck face.

I definitely don’t know a damn thing about Bieber, Miley, Selena, Beyoncé, or Lil Wayne. In fact, I don’t get modern music at all. I’m not even really that old. Why is this stuff still popular? No clue.

I can’t understand how sex and nudity are both glorified and taboo.

I don’t comprehend super sensitive people. Or social anxiety. I kinda wish I did, but I don’t.

I fail to see why anyone who’s not becoming a doctor, lawyer, or scientist would want to go to college (in the US.) Soaking up tons of debt to begin your life doesn’t feel right. But what do I know? Nothing, obviously.

 I’ve never understood church.

Or the IRS.

Or lacrosse.

I don’t get speed traps.

Or racism.

Or child-abuse.

Narcissism has always eluded me. Along with Desperate Housewives, Antiques Roadshow, and the Miss America/World/Universe pageants.

Or any pageant for that matter.

I don’t understand why everyone who says they hate drama actually swims in it.

Or potential dates who scream about ‘hating games’ being the biggest game-players of all.

I don’t see why I can’t have a margarita at work.

I’ll never grasp why some people are humble and others arrogant. But then the next day it’s vice versa.

And I’m utterly clueless why some workers don’t take all their vacation. Screw that.

But most of all, more than any of this stuff, I really have no idea why I’m here.

Or maybe I do.

Maybe I actually understand most of this stuff.

Maybe I just don’t want to.

* * *

Want more existential, slap-you-in-the-faceness?

 Check this out.

J Edward Neill

 Follow me on Twitter: icon-twitter-64

Mini Editions of Down the Dark Path!

 The Darkest of All Dark Fantasy Epics…

…now shattered into four mini-novellas.

Down the Dark Path, Book One in the Tyrants of the Dead series, has been trimmed into four inexpensive, easy-to-consume softcover novellas. Each bite-size book is a nice, neat 200 pages and comes with a slick new matte cover.

Book One begins: When Andelusia Anderae leaves home in search of a better life, she falls into the company of  a mysterious traveler. He promises to take her to Graehelm, but she soon learns that he’s much more than he seems. His message is for none other than Graehelm’s Councilors, who will decide whether to resist the Furyon Empire…or whether to join the Furies in waging war against all lands. And so begins her journey…

1 2 3 4

And of course, if you still like your books huge (and usable for knocking the Moon out of the sky) the original edition (Kindle and Softcover) is still available.

Soul Orb DDP Cover

Start walking the Dark Path today…

 J Edward Neill


The 7 Twitter Personalities


If you’ve never had a Twitter account, good on you.

If you’ve currently got an open Twitter account, I’m sorry. I really am. Let’s hug it out.

A few weeks ago, we gave you the Top 7 Facebook Personalities. We thought it was funny, yet entirely true.

But Twitter’s a different monster entirely.

Don’t believe me? Just sample my Twitter feed here.  140 characters changes a person into something…unknowable.

The 7 Prime Twitter Personalities

* * *

UnIronic Tweeter The Un-Ironic Tweeter – If there’s a such thing as normal on Twitter, this is probably it. The Un-Ironic Tweeter doesn’t try to annoy, inundate, or advertise. She’s probably just a normal gal with a few interesting things to say. Such as, “Doing laundry and look, the dog crapped in the basket,” or “Yay. Husband left me…again.” I’m mostly kidding. I’m 99% sure most of this archetype are good people. They say genuine things, are polite and generally engaging. My only trouble is that most people go to Twitter looking for at least a little bit of trouble (or money.) You say you want to be completely reasonable, honest, and not try to sell me shit? I believe the highway you’re looking for is called Facebook. It’s a few exits back.


The RetweeterThe ReTweeter – Everyone loves this person. And I mean…everyone. Just try and say something bad about them. It’s hard, right? You pour your soul into a perfect 140-character Tweet detailing the horrors of ebola-infected chipmunks, and ReTweeters click a button and spread the word, epidemic-like, across the globe. Sure, they don’t create anything themselves. And no, they probably didn’t follow your link or give two shits about you as a person. Who cares? You RT for them, they RT for you, and the whole fucking world is happy. I hate happy endings. 😐

Starving Artist The Starving Artist – I’m guilty as charged. My bad. Literally 80% of my followers are this archetype. They’re definitely starving, though as for the artist part, I’m not so sure. With the boom in self-publishing and printed art outlets, the Twitterverse has erupted with painters, sketchers, and writers. In a matter of a few years, my competition went from other published authors to every human being in the entire fucking universe. Anymore, it’s rarer for someone not to have published something. But seriously. Most of the Starving Artist Twitter crowd are good people. Talent or no, they’re genuine. But I would like to schedule a class called ‘When Tweeting About Your Book, Shitty Grammar and Clunky Blurbs will Annihilate Your Writing Career.


The ReQuoter The Re-Quoter – Yeah. This guy. The one who Tweets about the soulfulness of writing, the drowning emotional awesomeness of reading, and the spiritual connectedness of ejaculating paint onto paper. But that’s not really the trouble. It’s the memes, the #AmWritings, and the quotes…the damn quotes. Yes, I know what Stephen King said. Something like, “If you do shit, other shit will happen. And if you don’t do shit, no shit will happen.” You know what I’m talking about: Picture of celebrity + quote that celebrity may or may not have actually said = half your Twitter feed. Also, some Re-Quoters like to regurgitate boring quotes about life and love. Shit-tons of quotes. Things like, “My life will never be complete without you,” or “Someday you’ll come back for your toothbrush…and my vagina will be waiting.” I’m convinced most of these secondary type of Re-Quotes are bots, but it’s hard to tell. Hopefully it’ll all soon die. But if it doesn’t, the world needs to end.



Anchor The News Anchor – I’m fine with this type of Twitter archetype. Mostly. Although he’ll never post anything original or creative, at least you’ll be informed the very instant a celebrity dies, a politician farts, or King Jong Un is spotted picking his nose. I’m kidding. Sort of. At least the sources the News Anchor links to are completely legit all the time. Aren’t they??





The SpammerThe Spammer – This Twitter dweller probably isn’t even human. Or if it is, it’s 150 humans living in a Bangladesh hut (with better wifi than anyone.) If you’ve been on Twitter for longer than 30 seconds, you’ve rubbed elbows with a Spammer. Yep. The sexy girl pitching how you can increase your Twitter followers by 7 million. The smiling dude flooding your feed with links leading to crappy click-bait lists. The douchey lists with names like ‘The 7 Twitter Personalities.’  Wait…what?


The pRon star The Porn Starlet – Unlike Facebook, Twitter isn’t really regulated.  Meaning if your five year-old son types in ‘boobies,’ he’ll get flooded with hundreds of images of girls getting Kool-Whipped in the chest region. Being a guy, if I scan my new followers on a daily basis, I find that at least a third of them are naked women. Some just want more followers. Others offer ‘no credit card needed’ links to…you guessed it…sites that use your credit card to let you watch cam girls impale themselves on cucumbers and farm equipment. I suppose it’s harmless. I mean, nuthin’ wrong with half my Twitter feed being teenage girls bending themselves into positions I didn’t know were possible. Nuthin’ at all. Right? See you tonight, Sasha.


The Uni-Linker (Posts the same one link over and over again. Forever)

The DM’er (Doesn’t know that no one reads direct messages)

The Hashtagger (#Hashtags #Every #Goddamn #Word)

 The Unfollower (Follow them back within a half hour, or else…)

 * * *

 Next week on Tessera Guild: Stalking Women on Instagram.

In the meantime, check out the only book you’ll ever want to put on your coffee table.

J Edward Neill

Why I’m Apolitical (And you should be, too)

At certain points during our lives, we choose paths unlikely to win us popularity points.

I should know. 

Before we get started, I want to make it clear I’m not about to run afoul of Tessera’s policy regarding religion & politics. Being inflammatory only brings me joy in non-political forums. I’m not about to pick sides, lob stones, or name names. Nope. Not gonna do it.

And that’s kind of my whole point.

When I was a younger, more impressionable man, life was different. I believed in the power of opinions. I allowed myself to be flooded with hope for the world. I was un-jaded, un-corrupted. I belched rainbows and sweated sunshine. I was willing to pick sides and issue no apologies for it.

And then my third birthday rolled around.

And I woke the fuck up.

In this world we live in, Opinions are king and Perceptions queen. The meaning of truth is equivocated with facts (two totally different things.) Web, television, and radio media swirl around our heads, an infinite shitstorm of people talking, re-talking, threatening, screaming, offending, and apologizing-but-not-really-meaning-it. Politics feel pernicious, and yet unstoppable. Turn on one channel and you’ll hear one side murdering the other. Click onto any of ten thousand websites and you’ll see the other side get just as poisonous. Everyone feels everyone else is wrong…and that it’s their sacred duty to talk about it and post comments linking to it. And we soak it up, don’t we? We slurp up everyone else’s spaghetti of opinions as though words were sweet sustenance, as if talking were the same thing as doing, as if one side were any less in-it-for-themselves than the other.

Ever watched a political rally? If not, don’t start now. Generally speaking, it’s a big pile of people applauding one singular person. I don’t understand it. I’m dead serious. I legitimately want someone to explain what’s really going on during these things. Is the person on the podium heroic? Have they leapt into the future, delivered on all their promises, and Michael J Fox’d it back to the here and now with proof of their success? I can’t grasp what would drive a person to applaud someone standing on stage and promising things. Not these days. Not ever. These people say things that even the people clapping must surely know in their hearts aren’t going to happen. Things we all know are beautiful lies, and yet are willing to smile and dance for.

And every election season, it happens all over again.

My Hope on a Pole

That’s me on a pole, waiting for someone to NOT lie to me.

But by politics, I don’t only mean the selection of government officials and the exhausting narrative surrounding their rise and downfall. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, one raisin in the whole damn cookie. What I’m really talking about is people politics. The social media freight train, with all its #TheseLivesMatter and #Raise$$$forMyCause and #BashThisGuyOverHere. Know what I mean? Yeah…you do. But in case you’re like me and live under a rock, here are a few examples:

Video Game Girl Teaches Basement Dwellers a Lesson

Cops Lives Matter

And most especially I’m Still Calling You Bruce (Jenner.)

Yeah. Stuff like this. Does not compute.

Now. Let’s be clear. I’m not judging people who get involved in these discussions. I get the allure. I really do. People want to shout and be listened to. People want their opinions #ToMatter. People see a cause from a distance and want to support it. And to a certain degree, they want to post something relevant (and possibly witty) on Facebook and have their words become part of the larger discussion. It’s not exactly narcissism. But here’s what I need explained to me. And again, I’m serious. I want to know why hurling oneself around the web like a social media warhead is appealing. Why? Why do we need to be heard regarding issues that we’re powerless to affect? Why is the focus on other’s people’s opinions and not the truth? What is the purpose of engaging these issues using words, but rarely actions? If you’re not BFF’s with Caitlyn Jenner, if you’re not driving to Ferguson with guns-in-hand to support one side or the other, and if you’re not moved enough by feminist causes to actually treat the women in your life better, why do you care? Why are you involved? Why? I need to know.

Because let’s face it; the serious social and political issues of our day aren’t going to be solved or even legitimately addressed on Twitter, Facebook, CNN, or Fox News. Nope. Not even close. Sorry. We can compromise or insult, be thoughtful or obnoxious, be funny and cute or dry and witty as death itself. Doesn’t matter. The deep, dark problems that live and breed in our world will only be solved with:

A. Shit-tons of money…meaning rich people will win

B. Violence. And lots of it. Meaning no one will win.

What does that mean?

It means 5,000 retweets of important social issues don’t matter.

It means thoughtful or incendiary commentary on why one political party is garbage (but not the other) is just dust in the wind.

It means the only way your government will experience swift change is if hundreds of thousands of people take up arms…and die.

It means all the anger, frustration, butthurt-ness, and feelings of powerlessness just aren’t compatible with anyone trying to achieve peace and happiness.

Is that too dark, too cynical? Maybe so. But maybe not.

Look. Let’s get to the point.

I’ve got just one real question:

Does being political make you happy?

Well? Does it?

If not, rock the boat…just not the vote.

If you want more philosophy like this in your life, read my latest book, 444 Questions for the Universe.

If not, have a nice day.

J Edward Neill

Surprise Book Release – 444 Questions for the Universe

444 Questions for the Universe

444 Questions for the Universe Sliver

The only book you’ll ever want on your coffee table

Having a few friends over? Throwing a party? 444 Questions for the Universe is the ultimate ice-breaker. Grab a glass of wine, put away your cell phones, and watch the night’s discussions catch fire. Meant as a party book, quiz book, and philosophy book rolled all into one, 444 Questions will guide you through hours of energetic, intelligent, and FUN conversations.

Topics range from direct and mild to dark, daring, and sexy…


Includes the entire Coffee Table Philosophy series: 101 Questions for Humanity, 101 Questions for Men, 101 Questions for Women, 101 Questions for Midnight, AND 40 Bonus Questions for Beyond.

Once you answer one Question, you’ll want to answer them ALL…

Individual volumes are available here:

101 Questions for Midnight 101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500 101 Questions for Men Cover 101 Questions for Women Cover

J Edward Neill

Top 10 Songs to Drive at Night With

Night owl life.

Learn to embrace it.

I’ll be the first to admit: when the sun’s up, I’m pretty much a drone. I eat, I exercise, I work, I breathe, but sometimes it’s all so…passionless. Not to say there isn’t beauty during the day, but beneath it all I crave the stars, the Moon, the endless void. The night awakens me. It makes me rebel against my galactic insignificance. It makes me feel alive.

To get anywhere in this festering suburban miasma, one must drive. A lot. And if one must drive, one must have music. And if one must have music, one must have good music for driving at night with. For me, there are few things as serene as driving at night, alone or with someone beautiful beside me. Flying past streetlights, watching the Moon, devouring the emptiness of it all…


Few.   Things.   Are.  Better.


10 Songs for Driving at Night with:


To Live is to Die

To Live is to Die – Metallica

The slow, chunky guitar riffs in this Metallica classic will have you tapping your non-gas pedal foot. It rises and fades like the Moon, and when it’s gone, you might just want to hit ‘Repeat.’





Am I Not MercifulAm I not Merciful? – Hans Zimmer

If you’ve seen Gladiator, you probably remember the scene in which Commodus stabs Maximus moments before their epic fight. This song is as dark as the night is black. You’ll wish it lasted your entire drive.



Bring on the Night

Bring on the Night – Sting

It’s lighter fare than the first two on this list, but even so…  Every word of it is true.




I Don't Mind the Pain

I Don’t Mind the Pain – Danzig

Among the Lord of Deathy Blues’ best songs, this one has a great hook, superb guitars, and a dark little message to send you into the night.




Black Sunshine

Black Sunshine – White Zombie

The whole album would work just as well. In fact, almost everything Rob Zombie ever did is solid for driving. At ALL hours.




Invocation to a Continual OneInvocation to a Continual One – Morbid Angel

Ok, it’s got a weird title. And no, not everyone will appreciate most of Morbid Angel’s catalogue. But Invocation features guitar riffs that’ll send your mind reeling. And the solo at the end…probably the best heavy guitar work ever. Plus it’s nine minutes & forty-eight seconds long. Boom, goes the road.




Rooster – Alice in Chains

An instant classic the moment it hit the world, Rooster is probably good for all hours. I’ve riffed it at breakfast, in my office, wherever. But songs about suffering belong in the night. And so here it is.





Seasons in the Abyss

Seasons in the Abyss – Slayer

Seasons is the heaviest song on this list by far. And it’s probably Slayer’s best. If you like shredding guitars and thumpy drums that’ll make you drive fast, just queue this one up at the very end of your night.





Little Wing Little Wing – Stevie Ray Vaughn

Among the best guitar solos ever, Little Wing takes off and never comes back to Earth. It may be a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s song, but with the vocals carved out and the length more than doubled, you’ll find it hard not to drive faster.




Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms – Junkie XL

My newest favorite from Mad Max. Anytime you’re feeling aggressive or indestructible in traffic, plug Brothers in and smash.  It has a quality to it that’ll make you feel godlike on any highway.





Rev up your engines and go.

And when you get home, finish the night with this.

J Edward Neill

Whiplash Movie Review

JK2Disclaimer: This review is largely spoiler-free

A few weeks ago I reviewed George Miller’s screamingly loud and bone-crushingly good Mad Max – Fury Road.

This week’s movie, Whiplash, breaks only a few bones, but is almost as loud, and is definitely as good.

I’ll start with an admission: I’m late to the party. Very late. 2014’s Whiplash, directed by Damien Chazelle, has already earned three Oscar wins and numerous other accolades. That said, it’s my opinion that not enough people have been exposed to it. So if this review convinces even one person to check Whiplash out, I’ll claim success.


Like Jazz music much? Maybe? Maybe not so much? It’s ok. While planted on my couch during a 1AM Redbox DVD screening of Whiplash, my first worries were: ‘This is a jazz movie. What was I thinking?? I should’ve picked something else. Or maybe just watched some porn.” And yet, two minutes in, any fears of drowning in discordant jazz and wonky music vanished. Into. Thin. Air.

Early on, we see a different J.K. Simmons than we’re used to. Gone is the friendly guy from the Farmers Insurance commercials. Gone is the affable, calm dude from J.K.’s previous films. Instead we get a badass. And I’m serious. As Fletcher, the leanest, meanest jazz instructor ever, J.K. is shredded. He’s an all-black-wearing, door-slamming, fist-shaking maniac. He’s a force of f’ing nature.

And it’s apparent he’s made it his mission in life to mold Andrew (played to perfection by young and talented Miles Teller) into the planet’s best drummer…or kill him in the process.



As an interesting aside, it should be noted that Miles Teller played ALL his drum pieces. He had a head start, being born of a musical family, but even so. His dedication to learning some of Whiplash’s more extreme rhythms is admirable, and adds tons to the movie’s realism.

So what’s it really about?

Whiplash is primarily a struggle between two men. Fletcher’s win-at-all-costs mentality are at permanent odds with AndrewFletcher wants perfection, nothing less, from his musicians. And perhaps no instrument requires perfection more than drums. Andrew’s willing to bleed to become the best, but still manages to be overwhelmed by Fletcher’s never-ending stream of F bombs and insults. As the movie drums on, literally, the questions become: “Is greatness only achievable under enormous pressure?” and “Is there a such thing as going too far to win?” I know what MY answer is. If you watch or have already watched Whiplash, I want to know YOURS. Because therein lies Whiplash’s soul. It’s Pain versus Reward. Sacrifice versus Greatness. Living a full life versus Having a Singular Dedication. The movie puts us in the proxy position of asking how far we’d go to be the best at something.

Would you bleed? Would you suffer? Would you give up every comfort? Most of us wouldn’t. But perhaps Andrew might.

The supporting cast is small, but more than capable. Veteran Paul Reiser plays Andrew’s concerned but ultimately powerless father. Beautiful Melissa Benoist charms as Andrew’s unfortunate love interest, Nicole. Austin Stowell and Nate Lang are formidable rivals in the studio for Andrew to wage war against. They’re all very good, but reduced to mere pawns in the Fletcher v Andrew struggle. And that’s ok. This isn’t their film. It’s J.K.’s and Miles’.

As another aside, if you like drums of any kind, you’ll love Whiplash’s talent, if nothing else. The speed and excellence demanded in the film transcend genres. It’s obvious this isn’t a movie about jazz at all. It’s about power, skill, and using means to justify the ends. But even if you don’t care about all of that, the drums…are…epic.

Let’s be clear. I Redboxed Whiplash on a hunch. I’d never heard of it prior to plugging it into my DVD player, and I’d no idea what to expect.

…which made it all the better when it turned out to be fucking awesome.

Rent it. Watch it. In the dark. Preferably alone.

And when you’re done, check out my latest philosophy title here.


J Edward Neill

101 Questions for Midnight – Surprise Book Release!

Stay up late.

Very late.

The best conversations begin while everyone else is sleeping.

101 Questions for Midnight

The final entry in the Coffee Table Philosophy series.

Jump starting every conversation with a tendency toward darker topics: death, war, sex, and the dark side of human behavior.

Available now on Amazon…

101 Questions for Midnight

Save the best for last…

J Edward Neill

Check out the rest of the Coffee Table Philosophy series here:

101 Questions for Men Cover101 Questions for HumanityFront Cover 101 Questions for Women

Happy Memorial Day

From the troops at Tessera Guild to troops around the world:

Happy Memorial Day!

Put down your books, your paintbrushes, and your pencils.

And cherish a little time with your family.


Team Tessera


Something for the day to die upon…

the return of darkness is a planned event, a spoke in the universal clock waiting to be ticked… 


At the world’s edge, Andelusia awakens to the terrible realization that all her dreams have come to nothing. No matter that her father, the warlock, has fallen into exile. No matter that the enemies of mankind have retreated into darkness. When the shadows in her heart cause the seasons to change and deadly storms to sweep across Thillria, she knows what will come:

The Black Moon will descend.

Grimwain will return.

The Ur will rebuild their haunted civilization atop humanity’s graveyard.

Unless she alone wages war against the Nether Kingdom, the world will burn. 

Nether Kingdom


Now Available via AmazonFree signed copies to the first five reviewers!!


Book III – The chilling conclusion of the Tyrants of the Dead trilogy

Cover art by Amanda Makepeace

2015 Tessera Guild Publishing

Down the Dark Path Re-Release!

Down the Dark Path

Tyrants of the Dead Book I

Re-Written. Re-Edited. Re-Vamped. Re-Filled with Darkness.

When Andelusia Anderae leaves home in search of a better life, she accidentally plunges into the world-ending war between Graehelm and Furyon. The deeper she falls, the more she senses the dark powers rising within her, and the more she realizes she is not so different than the enemy.

Love might not be enough to save her, for the Furyons are all-powerful, and the shadow within her desires her more than any living man ever will. 

The darkest of all dark fantasy novels…

Re-released in Softcover and Kindle formats.


Softcover Version


Kindle Version

J Edward Neill

Mad Max – Fury Road Movie Review

ImmortanJoeDisclaimer: This review is mostly spoiler-free.

Last week I reviewed understated sci-fi marvel Ex Machina. This week I saw another sci-fi movie, Mad Max, Fury Road.

It’s a sci-fi movie. Sort of.

And George Miller’s battle-tastic epic is the opposite of Ex Machina in almost every way.

It’s likely the original Mel Gibson Mad Max was among the pioneers for how we treat post-apocalyptic stories in the modern age. Earth population: drastically reduced. Nuclear fallout: yes. Crazy people fighting for survival in a crazy world: check.

Fury Road honors that tradition…and jacks up the awesome by 400%.

So you say you like action films? And that you don’t have much patience for movies slowing down in the middle? And that you crave movies which pull zero punches? Yeah? Yeah. Fury Road is for you.

Tom Hardy’s Max Rockatansky, blood-bag to a cult of fallout-diseased but utterly badass oil and water hoarders, really gets the shaft. I mean really. Every situation he’s in is bad. I mean, not that there’s much good in living in a irradiated desert wasteland dominated by spiky-car driving warlords, but Max might have it worst than most. He’s a universal blood donor, meaning he’s viewed as nothing more than a fuel-sack for the baddies, who suck his veins nearly dry just to extend their short, violent lives. Good luck, Max. Good luck.

Even when Max meets a truckload of the most beautiful women left on Earth, he still gets no play. Sucks for him.

Enter Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, badass among all badasses. While her motivations aren’t really known until the end, her willingness to crunch bones is evident from the beginning. I suppose if I were driving a truck brimming with such hotties as CapableThe Dag, and Toast the Knowing, I’d have a completely different goal in mind. Luckily Furiosa is all business, all woman, all tough, all the time. And I confess, while the stunts she pulls are over-the-top, it’s all entirely believable. Fury Road wears no kid gloves. When people die, good or bad, it’s visceral. Just the way it should be. I’ve heard complaints that this is more Furiosa’s film than Max’s. Bullshit. It’s everyone’s movie. There is no one superstar. Everyone does awesome shit. No one’s left behind.

Now let’s talk about the bad guys. Hugh Keays-Byrne plays the skull mask-wearing, willing-to-do-anything-to-get-his-beautiful-concubines-back Immortan Joe. In a way I can’t blame Joe. He’s got water. He’s got a loyal-to-the-death cult. He’s got several stunning concubines. And he’s got a monster truck with a freakin’ cannon on the top. If someone stole your hotties, you’d probably go bat-shit crazy, too. And if you had a skull mask, you’d probably wear it.

Don’t forget Nicolas Hoult’s Nux. This guy is proof that matter how much white body paint you wear, how many times you spray your mouth with silver paint in preparation for the afterlife, you can still find redemption. And honestly, it’s in Nux we find the movie’s true soul. It’s there. I promise. You might have to squint to see between all the carnage, but you’ll see it, and when you do, you’ll love it.


Max ridin’ shotgun on the hood of Nux’s battle wagon.

Where Mad Max, Fury Road really scores its win is in its pace, its ruthlessness, and its sense of purpose. It’s relentless. It’s the loudest movie I’ve ever seen, so loud that even if you’ve got jerks in your theater talking or whatever, you will not hear them. You’ll tune them out…easily. Junkie XL’s superb soundtrack backs the sometimes absurd, always entertaining feast of destruction. I’m listening to it right now, and it’s boomtastic. And when Fury Road does manage to ease up on the gas pedal, the moments between the world’s most epic chase manage to be meaningful, tense, and believable. You may find that hard to swallow. You may think, “Action movie = no plot worth caring about.”

You’d be wrong.

There’s both glory and substance here.

But even if you don’t care about that stuff, you’ll get all you asked for and more in what’s sure to be the best action movie of the year.

Go now. Drive fast. Put explosives on your hood and spikes on your fenders.

J Edward Neill

If you like violent, epic stuff, check out my Tyrants of the Dead series here.

Look to the sky, lest you doubt…

The end is near. After so many years of studying, of waiting for a sign, it becomes apparent to me that the return of darkness is a planned event, a spoke in the universal clock waiting to be ticked.  Heed me well, my friends. The Sleeper walks among us. His presence in our world, long-awaited, is a grave warning that the Ur will soon assail us. He may come to us in any guise, be it a man, a woman, even a child.

It matters not. He must be found. 

If we do nothing, if we lie on our laurels and ignore him, he will draw the curtain of night forever down upon us.

Final “Letter to the Lords of Grae” by the warlock Dank

* * *

In other words, the Kindle Edition of Nether Kingdom is here.

Click Lady Makepeace’s dark, dark cover to check it out.

Devourer of Stars by Amanda Makepeace

Tyrants of the Dead.

The world’s end.

J Edward Neill

Ex Machina Movie Review

Ex-machina-uk-posterDisclaimer: This is a mostly spoiler-free review

In the modern realm of wide-release films, it’s rare to see science-fiction movies that are:

A. Unabashedly intellectual


B. Not reliant on hyper-violent technological advances

Ex Machina is both of these.

I saw this movie in a cozy, nearly empty theater.  I felt torn about the empty part, because I worried it might mean not enough people were interested in the kind of movie I’d like to see a whole lot more of. Apparently that’s not the case, since to date it’s netted a cool $18.7M. That’s good news. Great news, actually. Meanwhile, the experience was almost ruined by a few stereotypical loud-ass movie talkers. But the offending parties managed to shut up long enough for the rest of us to focus.

Thank goodness for that.

At first, Ex Machina comes off as boy-meets-girl completely flipped on its head. Caleb (played to nerd-fection by Domhnall Gleeson) is an apparent coding whiz for a huge computer search engine company. When he’s selected to travel to a mysterious, almost CIA-like black box facility, he does so with glee. And who wouldn’t? For an opportunity to meet Ava, the world’s most advanced android, most of us would leap in headfirst. And the setting in Ex Machina is so realistic, one begins to believe something like this can…and will…happen someday soon. Go Caleb. Get some.

If Arnold Schwarzenegger was the perfect person to play the original Terminator, Alicia Vikander (who plays the aforementioned android) is perfect-er. She’s eerie. She’s beautiful. And she nails every little tic you’d expect from a woman-robot. It’s clear from the beginning who owns the dialogue between Ava and Caleb. And it ain’t Caleb. I have to believe Lady Vikander will score big based on her performance here. She echoes the strength of Game of Thrones’ super-heroine (Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen) and frosts it with the sort of intelligence you’d like to see Hollywood give more of its female roles.

Very quickly, the boy-meets-girl vibe melts away.

For those who aren’t aware of what the Turing Test is, I recommend you study the concept. It’s the frontline premise of Ex Machina, and quite possibly (in part due to this year’s epic The Imitation Game) a new piece of vernacular everyone will soon become familiar with. Essentially, the Turing Test is the methodology for determining whether or not an A.I. can behave human enough to trick us into no longer knowing it’s a computer. If the computer fools the human, it passes.

Turns out the one inviting Caleb to perform the world’s most important Turing Test (on Ava) is the buff yet emotionally FUBAR Nathan (played to frat-brother genius levels by Oscar Isaac.) Nathan is like a chessmaster working both sides of the board. He’s got tech game like no one’s business, and a penchant for working off his hangovers by pumping iron and intimidating the slim, non-alpha Caleb. Nathan’s motivation is the question of the hour. It’s clear he wants more than just a Turing Test. And it’s obvious he gets his rocks off by head-fucking people. But the lines between antagonist and protagonist are blurred, just as they should be.

Where Ex Machina really succeeds is in its pace, its dialogue, and its atmosphere. Caleb’s encounters with Ava are blocked off into seven sessions, each of them growing in intensity. Conversations between Caleb and Ava have a permanent shadow lying overhead, a subtle reminder that she’s smarter, quicker in her learning curve, and possibly deadlier. And the hyper-realistic, we-could-picture-these-moments-actually-happening, verbal sparring between Caleb and Nathan leave one needing to know what comes next. Even once our suspicions of dread become tense enough to snap.

Not to be underestimated is the melodic yet somewhat dark soundtrack. Composers Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow blend their music so well into the film I knew halfway through I needed to buy it and play it…over and over again. Which I did end up doing.

untitledAnd then there’s the end sequence. It’ll be hard to watch without wanting to see it again and then immediately becoming a part of the growing online discussion. I’ve read many takes on the path of evolution Ava takes. Some speak of sweetness, others of liberation, but I saw something darker. Watch it twice, I say. And tell me you don’t sense one possibility for how the world might end.


So if you crave MORE than robots with laser guns, spaceships doing things that are impossible in space, and over-the-top future battles, go see Ex Machina.  It’s a solid A, and the best sci-fi movie to hit theaters in a long, long time. And if I have a special love for it, it’s also because the director, Alex Garland, is also an author and screenwriter. Would that I were so talented.

From time to time, I’ll review more movies.

Sorry ’bout that.

Get into my coffee table philosophy series here.

J Edward Neill


Author Interview and New Book Release – Keith Rommel!

Welcome to the latest in our long-running series of creative interviews. We’ll be interviewing creative individuals in the realms of writing, illustration, comics and more. Today we have author Keith Rommel, Long Island native, Floridian transplant, and author of grim new thriller, The Devil Tree!

Let’s get right to it:

Hi Keith! Welcome to Tessera’s latest creative interview. Word on the street is that you’ve got a new book. Please tell us ALL about it.

The Devil Tree is based off of a Port Saint Lucie Florida legend that I like to call the dirty little secret of this otherwise quiet community. There was this serial killer that would kidnap hitchhikers and preferred them in groups of two. He would hold them at gunpoint and make them negotiate why they should live and why their friend, the person he kidnapped them with, should die first. The killer has been noted as saying “Why kill one when you can kill two?” You couldn’t imagine how lively the conversation would get while one pleads for their life and begs you to kill their friend first.”
Bodies were buried and discovered years later.

Awesome cover. Just straight up grim, just the way we like it.

Now tell us about yourself. Give up the goods on where you’re from and how you got here.

I am from Port Saint Lucie Florida and have lived here for over ten years. I’m originally from Long Island and came here to escape the hustle and bustle of the speedy New York lifestyle. I’ve adjusted to Florida living just fine and like it here. I am the writer of eight novels and have penned the critically acclaimed dark suspense Thanatology series. The debut novel in that series, The Cursed Man has been filmed as a major motion picture and is coming out this October, premiering in California. I am the co-screenwriter of the film with producer James L. Perry.

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

When I get an idea I do my best to outline it. Once the story is outlined, the writing process begins. The first draft is usually a train wreck but I edit it over and over again, and start adding details and all the characters’ personalities. The rewrites are my favorite part because that is when the story and characters start to take on lives of their own. It is during this process that I either love, hate or sympathize with the major players in the novel.

What kind of stories are your favorite?

I like my imagination being challenged every step of the way. I don’t like knowing the answer to the story after only a few chapters into the book. It is imperative to me when I write my stories that I write a plot that is not only difficult to guess what’s really going on but deliver a surprise ending that is long lasting.

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

The most challenging aspect of being a writer for me is standing out in a very overcrowded market. With technology making it easy for most anyone to be a writer, I believe the only way to rise to the top and build your audience is by being patient, release solid, well-told stories, and put out a finished product that won’t turn readers off. Professional cover, edited inside and a professional layout of the internal text is key. At no point can I afford to appear amateurish. I need to breathe new life into a genre that is plagued with zombies and end of the world conflicts whether pandemic or war.

How can people reach you?

By visiting my website: I answer all fan mail and questions from aspiring writers myself. There is a tab to contact the author.

How can people get a copy of The Devil Tree or some of your previous novels?

The Devil Tree is available as a hardcover or on your Kindle. It is on Kindle Unlimited and the unique thing about this release is if you buy the hardcover, you get a free download of the Kindle version. They can visit my author page by going here.

And now, from the back cover of Keith’s latest book, The Devil Tree:

Based on the Port St. Lucie Legend
Back in the 1970’s, a series of bizarre incidents occurred at what has since been known as “The Devil Tree.” Beneath this ancient denizen, evil was wrought by a sick serial killer, calling upon forces most evil and dark. People were hung there … and bodies buried there … exhumed by the police. Overcome by superstition, some tried to cut down the tree, to no avail. Since then, it has stood in a remote section of a local park — left to its own devices — quiet in its eerie repose — until now!

Best-selling psychological-thriller author Keith Rommel has imagined the whole tale anew. He’s brought the tree to life and retold the tale with detail only possible in a fiction novel. Action-packed, with spine-tingling detail, this thriller is beyond parallel in the ground it uncovers … one author’s explanation of what may have really been said — what may have really happened — under Port St. Lucie’s “Devil Tree.”

Check out more of Keith’s work:

Author of The Cursed Man, The Lurking Man, The Sinful Man from the critically acclaimed psychological horror series. The Cursed Man is coming soon as a major motion picture. Also available from Keith Rommel: You Killed My Brother (crime) and Among the People (paranormal).

Author site:



 That’s all for this week.  

 Special thanks to Keith for appearing.

More is always to come.

J Edward Neill


J’s DadHacks – Made up games for the Single Father

A few weeks ago, I gave a shout out to my son (The G Man) for his skill in inventing new Lego bad guys.

This week I’m taking it a bit further.

We have a lot of free time, he and I. And we’re pretty much identical twins, him being 34 years younger notwithstanding. We find ourselves in constant need of self-entertainment. At all hours. TV isn’t allowed in the house. Nor are more than a tiny sampling of video games.

So what’s left to do?

Pretty. Much. Everything.

Marble WarsMarble Wars

Cost – About $5 / Entertainment Value – Priceless. Plus your child learns all about collateral damage

So far the lil’ guy and I have logged approx. 7,421 hours playing this game. No shit. You need 21 marbles to play Marble Wars. Your kid puts ten in a straight line, and you do likewise. Make the lines parallel about 2′ from each other, and leave 2″ between each allied marble to make them harder to hit. To play, each player takes turns shooting the ‘bomb’ marble at his opponent’s line. Every time you hit an enemy marble (directly or via ricochet) remove it. Whoever nukes all of his opponent’s marbles first, wins. The catch: You can’t shoot from any closer than your own marble line, and you have to shoot from the ends of your own troops.

Lifetime Marble Wars record against my son: 3-477

Paper TowersPaper Towers

Cost – About $8 in posterboard, Elmer’s glue, popsicle sticks, and scotch tape. / Entertainment Value – Hey, at least it’s cheap

Junior said he wanted the $200 Lord of the Rings Lego Set. I said, “You can kiss my black ass.” Ok, no. I didn’t really say that. But seriously, he wanted a ‘realm’ in which his Legos could get together and knock the ever-loving hell out of each other. So we bought some multi-colored posterboard, curled it up into towers, laid the towers over a ‘floor’ of glued-down popsicle sticks, and stuck the whole damn thing atop a slab of cardboard. Now, whenever his Lego armies want to dismember one another, he uses our homemade castle as a battleground. He never even mentions the LOTR mega-set anymore. Except every other day. Twice. Forever.


The finished product. Aka: The Hall of Infinite Death



images Real-Life Minecraft

Cost – Free…unless you live in a vacuum. / Entertainment Value – So fun you’ll need new drywall

It all started with:

“Dad, can I play Minecraft?”

“Fuck no.”


“Ok. Go get your sword and some pillows.”

Like every child between 2 and 90, Junior loves him some Minecraft. Crushing green, phallus-like Creepers and digging down into the underworld is fun. Only problem is that it’s a video game. And after about 4% of one session of playing it, I decided, “Hell no. We’re not getting addicted to this crap.” So what to do? Well. Junior received a Minecraft foam sword over the holidays this year. So instead of annihilating pixels, we arrange pillows like Minecraft bricks. And he goes nuts. I mean, like…seriously aggro. He knocks down wave after wave of stacked pillows, couch cushions, and cats painted like Creepers (kidding). Then he builds it all up again. The true value of this game is…I never knew we had so many f’ing pillows.

BalloonBattleBalloon Battle

Cost – About $2.99 / Entertainment Value – Good for humans…better for cats

In a house packed with multiple kids and an angry, hormonal mom, this game would never work. Too messy. Too loud. But in a cavernous man-void occupied by a 40 year-old hermit and his son, it’s perfect. What you’ll need: 1 bag of balloons, 1 decent-sized laundry basket. How to play: Divide up the balloons by color into two equal-sized piles. Put the laundry basket in the room’s center. While sitting approx. 6′ from the basket, you and your lil’ one hurl balloons forth from your pile. The point is to get as many of your balloons into the basket as you can, while occasionally knocking your enemy’s (I mean adorable loin-spawn’s) out of the way. When all your balloon ammo is depleted, determine a winner by counting how many of each side’s balloons made it into the basket. This game is especially good for white people, since no jumping, running, or actual ball skills are required.

Caution: If your cats decide to play, the game will only last one or two rounds.

WeedNGWeed Slaughter

Cost – A few bucks / Entertainment Value – Mild, but serves a purpose

The rules: I offer the G Man one penny per weed pulled. He goes nuts and butchers hundreds of weeds while I do tequila shots on the porch. Relax. I’m kidding. (The shots are Jager.) Anyway, teaching work ethics and shit is cool, right? So is watching a five-year old commit genocide on all the crabgrass, clover, and poison ivy in your yard. Would I actually let him pull poison ivy? Sure. Though I’d probably offer two pennies for each vine.

*  *  *

 See you next week.

Sink your teeth into my party-plundering coffee table series here.

J Edward Neill

The 7 Facebook Personalities


On Feb 4th, 2004, Skynet Facebook launched a volley of nuclear warheads, forever altering the human landscape.

Millions of years of normal, healthy socialization were undone.

Entire cultures were annihilated.

Men’s bathroom selfies creeped the world out.

Women’s bathroom selfies became infinitely more accessible.

Cheating became 1,000% easier.

From the ashes of this terrifying event arose seven (yes seven, because I said so) Facebook personalities. We all know them. We’ve all seen them. We all ARE at least one of them.

The 7 Prime Facebook Personalities

*  *  *

Catmeme  THE NORMAL – Your everyday, ordinary Facebook user. She doesn’t post all that often. When she does, it’s usually a mildly funny meme, a photo of her better-looking-than-your kids, or a picture of her dog, her cat, and her hamster. You’re rarely lucky enough to get any controversy from the Normal, which is a shame, because everyone loves it when a Facebooker’s life implodes.



THE SHARER – Now we’re getting somewhere. We all know Sharers. Actually, we all probably know several. This is the lady who seldom posts any actual life statuses. Instead, 4-6 times per day (every day) she posts a big pile of snarky eCard memes or links to other sites. The links and pics usually involve drinking wine, hating Mondays, tormenting their spouses, or drinking wine. On the rare occasion the Sharer posts something about their actual life, it’s usually about, you guessed it, drinking wine.



THE POLITICIAN – Oh yeah, you know you’ve got one of these friends. Or maybe you ARE this guy. You know, the one who really, really, really, really, really hates Obama. Or who really, really, really, really, really thinks Fox News is the vilest thing ever.  Honestly, a good rant is fun to read. It persuades no one (ever) but even so… At least we know the Politician hates approx. half his own Facebook friends. Fastest way to get un-friended: contradict this guy. Go ahead. Try it.



Instagram GirlTHE SELFIE-IST – Ok, in all fairness, this archetype is probably better looking than the rest of us. They’ve got better abs and an ass that won’t quit. If the lights are down and our girlfriends are asleep, we’d consider getting off to one of their photos, but would be too ashamed (so instead we visit Pornhub.) How do we know the SELFIE-IST is hotter? Easy. Because every single day they post at least ten pictures of themselves in halter tops, yoga pants, and muscle shirts. Sometimes in the mirror. Sometimes not. But always holding up their cell phone. Go ahead. Enjoy it. ‘Like’ their pics. Every time you do, you bring them at least 2 seconds of happiness.

LeavingTHE QUITTER – The picture pretty much says it. Personally, I know at least two people among my friends who quit Facebook twice a week only to pop right back up.  It’s always, “I’m done! I can’t handle the drama! Someone said something mean! This world isn’t for me!” But three hours later, all is forgotten. As in literally. No one will likely ever know why they quit in the first place.

And no one will ever care.


VagueTHE VAGUEBOOKER – Oh boy. This one’s trouble. The Vaguebooker takes many forms, all of them nefarious. Sometimes they’ll post something short and simple, such as, “Tough day. Not feelin’ it,” thus fish-hooking a pile of sympathetic responses. And then there’s the, “To that sumbitch who said that thing about me and my family. We ALL know who you are. And we hate you.” Except no one’s really sure who the sumbitch is or what they did. Plus it’s obvious they’re not that big of a sumbitch, because the Vaguebooker didn’t actually un-friend them. They remained friends so the sumbitch in question might read the Vaguebooker’s vicious, scathing post and be forever humbled. My one request to the VB’er: be specific. Call a muthafucker out on the carpet by name. Start a real flamewar. It’s much more entertaining for the rest of us.

Morpheus THE GAMER –  Candy Crush, anyone? Game of War? City of Losers? War of Noodles? (Ok, I made up the last two.) In all fairness, the Gamer probably doesn’t know he just spammed all his friends with game requests. He’s probably amazing at Game of Kate Upton’s Boobs, but still hasn’t mastered the art of changing Facebook notification settings. What’s a faster way to get unfriended than contradicting a Politician? Repeatedly sending game invites to every single one of your friends. Find the settings button, people. Find it, and use it. Or even better…write your quick status post, ‘Like’ something, and get the F@#k off Facebook before it eats your soul.


THE SALESMAN (I’m guilty as charged)

THE TMI’er (When NORMALS go rogue)

THE TAGGER (Quit tagging me. Or die)

THE NOMAD (Makes one post every 3-6 months, then vanishes)

*  *  *

That’s it.

I’m done.

I’ll be seriously disappointed if I don’t get un-friended by at least 3 people after they read this.


J Edward Neill

Check out my party-bombing Coffee Table Philosophy series here.

The Legion of Lego

It’s my kid’s birthday next week.

He’ll be 4. Pretty much the best age ever.

In his honor, I thought I’d share some of the weird, wacky Lego dudes he’s constructed over the last year.

See, he and I have this game. It goes a little like this:

  • I buy a Lego set and spend an hour or two building it
  • He immediately disassembles it and builds something different
  • I drink to drown my Lego sorrows

I joke…mostly. Seriously, I love building Legos with him. His imagination is up for anything, anytime. And sometimes (meaning all the time) the crazy blend of superheroes/villains/random dudes he creates cracks me up. He knows it makes me laugh, and so he does it every chance he gets.

 I present to you:

G Man’s Top 10 Super Villain Random Anti-Heroes

Lego 2

Super Sauron Riddler with Flame Pants and Coffee. He’s full of caffeine and ready to conquer Middle Krypton.

photo 3

It’s the eagle from Lord of the Rings. As ridden by Princess Uni-Kitty. If I’m Sam and Frodo suffering on the slopes of Mount Doom, I’m pissed if this is my rescue squad.

photo 2

Gandalf. Wearing stormtrooper armor. With a batarang in hand. Standing on the top of Barad Dur. In other words, this is how Sauron was REALLY defeated.


photo 6

Instead of ‘when pigs fly,’ G Man decided he’d change the saying to ‘when Minecraft skeletons ride Nazgul horses.’ Same thing, really.

photo 7

I’m pretty sure I dated this girl. Robot. Thin. Carried a longbow. Nice hair. I can’t remember why we broke up.


photo 4

Anyone remember that movie/Sat Night Live sketch, The Coneheads? Ok, so G Man’s never seen either. Whatever. Imagine you’re a shrink and this dude’s sitting on YOUR couch…

photo 5

Some random guy with a Sauron hat lording over a parapalegic zombie with sweet hair. With a bullhorn. And a shovel. No other kid has ever created this scene. I’m sure of it.

photo 1

So when the Flash died, he got into the stock market big time. That’s in the comics, right?


photo 8

When I asked G Man what this scene was all about, he said, “They’re eating fish for dinner.” I’m thinking, ‘Does Gollum really have the biceps to carry that sword?’


Lego 1

Lord Business kicking Vetruvius off the counter. (The kid never really approved of Lord Business NOT winning in The Lego Movie.)

Somebody buy the G Man some green Creeper Legos.

He’s got some terrifying ideas for ’em.


J Edward Neill

 Check out my Coffee Table Philosophy series here

Surprise Book Release – 101 Questions for Women


Book III in the Coffee Table Philosophy series is here!

The most challenging entry yet in the Coffee Table Philosophy series, 101 Questions for Women picks up right where its predecessors left off. Designed with women in mind, but consumable by everyone, it’s the perfect companion book for small get-togethers, huge parties, and quiet nights under the stars.

Once you taste one Question, you’ll want to devour them all.
For 10 preview Questions, click here.

101 Questions for Women

Available now in softcover format and for Kindles galaxy-wide.

Front Cover 101 Questions for Women

Just one book left in the series…

…101 Questions for Darkness

J Edward Neill

Casting for Nether Kingdom the Movie

Nether Kingdom. Makepeace_DevourerofStars-500x358

The last movie book in the Tyrants’ trilogy.

Pretty much the darkest thing ever.

So the cast has to be perfect, right?  Kinda like this one.


Let’s get to it…



Emmy Rossum – She’s back again as Andelusia Anderae. She’s more powerful and beautiful than ever. Everyone wins. Except her enemies.



Timothy Spall – Notable for his excellent and creeptastic work in Harry Potter and Sweeney Todd, Tim will make a sublime, wicked, and barbarous Unctulu come to life.  Part-time assassin, full-time vulgar sadist, I wouldn’t pick anyone else to pull this role off.


Tom Hardy Daedelar

Tom Hardy – Ladies, feast your eyes. Good acting lovers, feast your hearts. Tom Hardy has the chops to pull off pretty much any role, but in Nether Kingdom he’ll shine as the quick-witted, womanizing pirate Daedelar. Is he good? Is he bad? Wait and see…







Christina Hendricks – Of Mad Men fame. She’s strong. She’s badass. And she gets to play the no-BS role of Nephenia, Princess of Yrul. No man stands a chance with her, save for one…





Nathan Jones – Remember this guy from Troy? He was only onscreen for about a minute before Brad Pitt killed him, but he definitely left an impression. A massive, dangerous, inhumanly strong dude is needed for the role of Unctulu’s sidekick, Thresher. Lock Nathan behind a few hundred lbs. of iron armor and give him a sword big enough to cut the world in half. And afterward, he can pull off double-duty as the undead horror, Myklokain. Get to killin’, Nathan.


Voice of the Ur

Benedict Cumberbatch – Most of you know about him. He’s killing it in Sherlock, and more recently, his leading role in The Imitation Game.  But in Nether Kingdom, we’ll never see his face. He’ll be voice-acting only, a la Sauron in the Hobbit movies. Only this time, he’ll be even more diabolical. He’ll be the one and only voice of the world…ending…Ur.





Richard Armitage – Mass murdering, swashbuckling, king-butchering, nation-destroying. Leave your Hobbit and Robin Hood roles in the dust, Richard. As the wicked Lykaios, you’ll pretty much get to be the worst dude ever. Have fun. If I could act, this is the role I’d want.




UnknownMarid of Muthem. Finally, I’m stumped. We’ll need someone young, British, and believably cast as Andelusia’s lover. He’ll have to be innocent, yet full of wanderlust. Plus pitifully in lust with our heroine. Suggestions??


And reprising their roles from Down the Dark Path and Dark Moon Daughter:



Daniel SouthernSaul of Elrain. Crankier than ever.






Henry CavillGarrett Croft. Good guys gone bad.




Lee PaceThe Pale Knight, Archmyr Degiliac.  Bad guys gone…well…badder.





Ghurk Ghurlain

Daniel RadcliffeGhurk Ghurlain. A quick role, to be sure. But another one who’ll get to crush on Emmy Rossum. Better than Hermione, anyway.


It’s gonna happen.

It’s only a matter of time.

Nether Kingdom – Spring 2015

J Edward Neill

10 Questions for Women

The following 10 questions are from my Coffee Table Philosophy book, 101 Questions for Women.

Books I and II in the series can be found here and here.

10 Questions for Women:



A cultural way of existing everyone should embrace?

An over-simplified method of pitting men and women against one another?

Or a concept you personally don’t put much thought into?

No Dating Until You’re 50

 What is the most valuable life lesson a mother can teach her daughter?

What about her son?

Explain the differences, if any, in the lessons you’d teach one or the other.

 The Matriarchy 

Suppose you were queen of the world and everyone in it.

Name three cultural/ideological changes you’d put into place.

Global Fight Club 

In your opinion, are men inherently more violent than women?

If yes, is it due to:

The environment we live in?


Human instinct?

If women were, on average, physically stronger than men, would they be more violent than men?

But will he take out the Garbage? 

Whenever you meet an attractive man for the very first time, what is your first and most instinctive thought?

 The Few and the Many 

Imagine the world will end in five years.

The government’s plan is to construct one spacecraft for each family. Each ship can hold a family of four. The ships will fly to a nearby star system and drop you off on a habitable planet.

The problem: You and your spouse have four children.

 Stay on earth and wait for the end? Leave two kids behind?

Or convince your spouse to send the kids alone without you?

Back to the Beginning 

In your estimation, for how many years after your death will the memory of you and all that you’ve done linger in the world?

In other words, considering the way you’ve lived your life, how long will people remember you?

What about the residual effects of knowing you? How long will those last?

Consider that the lessons you taught others might be retaught…forever.

The Laminated List 

Imagine you and a significant other have an agreement allowing you each to make a list five names long.

Each name must be a celebrity. If either of you meets someone on of your list, you’re allowed to have sex with them.

Suppose your mate actually meets a celebrity on his list. Are you really ok with him sleeping with her?

What if you met someone on your list? What then?

No Pink Bullets Here 

Pretend you’ve been given the authority to rewrite the rules of warfare. In other words, the power is yours to decide how armies engage, how prisoners are treated, and which weapons are lawful and unlawful to use.

Now describe how you think the next World War would go down with your rules in place.

The Object of Everyone’s Desire

If you could be the last woman alive in a world fully populated by men, would you?


101 Questions for Women

Front Cover 101 Questions for Women

Available now!

J Edward Neill

101 Questions for Men Cover101 Questions for Humanity

5 Animated Short Films Everyone Should See

Special Friday Edition!


I watch a lot of movies.


Let me clarify. From the comfort of my couch, I watch about five grown-up movies every week (Latest top picks: Gone Girl. The Wolf of Wall Street.  Latest disappointments: Foxcatcher. Monuments Men.) But in that same one-week span, I also gobble up about seven kids’ movies. Minimum. You name it, my 4-year old and I have seen it. I look at my DVD collection these days, and my favorite Scorsese flicks are buried under an ocean of Wreck-it Ralph, How to Train your Dragon, and Big Hero 6.

This is not a complaint.

Look. I like most of the kids’ movies these days. I even love a few. But the real treasure, and something both junior and I have recently discovered, are the awesome mini-movies appearing at the ends of almost every Disney and Pixar title. These things are amazing. For me. For the kid. For everyone.

And here are five of the best. Click each one to follow the Youtube link:


La Luna. About a little boy, his dad, and his grandpa. They go to the moon. With brooms. And beards. No one says a word. It’s beautiful.


Paperman: my personal favorite. Another short during which no one says a word. I’m the world’s biggest anti-romantic, and yet this one somehow budged my black little heart.

Legend of Mor Du

The Legend of Mor’Du: It might help to watch the full film ‘Brave’ before seeing this, but it’s hardly mandatory. My kid loves this little 6+ minute short more than more feature films. Not surprising considering how dark it is.


Feast: About a dog, his owner, and tons of good food. I think maybe 10 words are spoken. If dogs were always this fun, I’d have one.

Silly Symphony

Silly Symphony. This one goes wayyyyyyy back. It’s ridiculous fun. And naturally, being full of dancing, prancing skeletons, it’s more than a little weird.

Seriously. Check these out. They’re as good as the feature films they appear with. And sometimes they’re better.

PS: Tessera is currently looking for weekly and bi-weekly bloggers to contribute.  Interested? Need free exposure? Get in touch!

See you next week!

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Author of the Coffee Table Philosophy series