My Top 7 Video Games of the Modern Era

A billion years ago, I hurled up a list of my Top 6 Video Games of all time.

 It’s time to expand on that idea. Refresh it. Modernize it.

Since the birth of my son, my availability to play games has been seriously reduced. As in, it’s fallen off a cliff. I used to be an addict, throw giant Halo parties, and stay up way past everyone’s bedtime. But now when I add in writing and painting, I’m limited to about 3.5 minutes of Xbox time every other night.

Even so…

I manage to squeeze a little in.

Here are my top 7 games from the last five or so years. These aren’t my favorites of all time, but they’re pretty damn awesome. After writing a few thousand words, slathering up a new canvas, or pounding down a few drinks, I reward myself with these. They’re like little electronic elixirs. They’re delicious.

 

PVZ

 

#7 – Plants versus Zombies (The original)

Don’t judge me. I know it’s a kids’ game. I get that it’s easy, cute, and totally contrary to the super-grim stuff I usually like. Despite all this, PvZ had me hooked within 3 seconds of meeting Crazy Dave. If Walking Dead had pea-shooters and potato mines, I might watch it. Nah…prolly not.

 

 

Halo

#6 – Halo – The Master Chief Collection

Normally I’d never consider a shooter for a top game. I liked Borderlands and Gears of War and all, but only as time-killers. Halo is somehow different. What I really love about the entire series is the story, the smoothness, and the ability to kill get killed by my friends for hours on end while pounding whiskey. And now that they bundled all the games into one giant package (which an awesome friend gave me as a gift) I’m hooked again.

 

Shadow Complex

#5 – Shadow Complex

For the uninitiated, Shadow Complex is an old school side-scroller set in the near future. It’s a splash of Metroid, a dash of Contra, and a tiny droplet of Mega Man. It’s too short a game to be considered higher than spot #5, but it’s still awesome for what it is. Quick, dirty fun. You get to blow stuff up and use your brain at the same time. Hard to beat a puzzle game that includes rocket launchers.

 

Half Life

 

#4 –  The entire Half-Life series (On the Orange Box)

Ok. So I know I said I didn’t much care about shooters. You got me there. But Half-Life is more than a shooter. It’s got the best (and most tragically human) story. It’s got a physics engine rivaling super-modern games. And it’s got headcrabs. I mean…who doesn’t want a game with headcrabs? And giant, skyscraping robots? And a protagonist who uses a fucking crowbar? Half-life = #winning

Limbo

#3 – Limbo

If Limbo were a full 10-15 hour experience, it might take top honors. The first time I saw the spider, I shat myself. The game only lasted a few hours (if that) but I must’ve died 4,000 times. It’s all so bloody perfect. Limbo has the atmosphere, the puzzles, and the perfectly-paced action to keep a dude like me hypnotized. It actually helped inspire a few of my paintings, including this one.

Thief

# 2 – Thief 4

I might get killed for this one. Back in 2004, I fell in love with Eidos’ Thief, Deadly Shadows. The game’s whole mythology hooked me. So when the newest Thief came out, I gobbled it up. Well: The game was buggy, easy to get lost & confused in, and sometimes unfair. Didn’t bother me a bit. Thief retained the shadowy atmosphere of the original game. I got to steal gold from assholes. I got to swoop down from rooftops and maul unsuspecting guards. If they still cried out, ‘Taffer!’ right before dying, I might’ve bumped this game to #1. And the real catch: I couldn’t even finish it. My Xbox crashed and deleted my save data before the end. One day I’ll return to it. One day.

 

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#1. The Witcher III – Wild Hunt

In the history of ranking video games, this decision is easiest of all. The Witcher III is the perfect game. It has a sprawling landscape that feels even huger than Skyrim. It has deadly, precise combat. It has magic, alchemy, and character customization unrivaled in the business. It’s got a killer soundtrack, beautiful graphics, and a storyline that feels like an entire trilogy of really good movies. I wish I had more time to drown in this game. It’s as good as anything I’ve ever played…or am likely to play in the future. If you like RPG’s, get it. If you like video games at all…get it.

Honorable Mentions:

Mass Effect 3 (Like playing a great sci-fi movie)

Doom 3

Portal (The cake is a lie)

Games Everyone Else Loves that Bore Me to Tears:

Dragon Age Inquisition (The first one was the only good one)

Minecraft (They made tedium into a game)

Grand Theft # 5,000,000, Assassin’s Creed # 700, and Maddon 3016 (Yawn)

 * * *

So. You say you like video games? Test your knowledge with this quiz.

J Edward Neill

Interstellar Ice-Breaker Sale

Wait just a second…what’s this??

For the next 7 days, my philosophy/party/ice-breaking book 444 Questions for the Universe is on SALE for everyone in the US and UK.

The Kindle Countdown deal starts at $0.99 today!

444 Pages. 444 mind-bending questions. 444 ways to ignite every conversation.

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If you prefer paper beneath your fingers, the softcover version is here:

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To see what you’re getting yourself into, go here or here.

J Edward Neill

22 Shadows hit the Streets

Winter is coming…

And with the cold season’s arrival, it’s time to gather ’round the fire and read until the world thaws.

We’ve got just the remedy:

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows

Now available

With 22 sci-fi, fantasy, and deadly modern short stories by: J Edward Neill, River Fairchild, John McGuire, Chad J Shonk, JL Clayton, Phil Elmore, Roy T Dodd, Robert Jeffrey II, and F Charles Murdock

Machina Front Cover

The sexy matte-black SOFTCOVER. A bounty of fantastical tales to steal your nights away.

 

Machina Front Cover

The electrifying E-BOOK. Drown in the deep, dark waters of your Kindle.

Get yours today.

J Edward Neill

A Door Never Dreamed Of – Cover Reveal!

 

A few weeks ago, I teased the backstory for my upcoming sci-fi novella, A Door Never Dreamed Of.

As for the cover art, it’s been done for more than a month.

In August I reached out to Tessera Guild goddess, Amanda Makepeace. It felt like an obvious choice. I mean…she’d already done amazing work on the covers for The Sleepers, Hollow Empire, Nether Kingdom, and Old Man of Tessera. I never had any doubt about who I was gonna ask.

For almost a year, I’d been itching to find a way to get Amanda’s painting, The Jupiter Event, onto one of my book covers. I just happened to be wandering her website when I stumbled across it. After seeing it, I  knew it would be a perfect fit. After all, Jupiter is half the setting of the book (sort of.)

The scary, spidery, black-as-death image she’d created was perfect for the Achilles space station, home of the exiled Outs.

 And so…

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A Door Never Dreamed Of

Update: this title is NOW AVAILABLE!

If you need cover work or if you just want cool art for your house, I suggest Lady Makepeace. You can’t go wrong.

J Edward Neill

Machina Obscurum – Set List of Shadows

Coming in early December…

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows

More than 20 shadowy shorts by authors: J Edward Neill, Chad J Shonk, River Fairchild, John R McGuire, Phil Elmore, JL Clayton, Robert Jeffrey II, F Charles Murdock, and Roy T Dodd

 

Tread lightly into ancient, forbidden realms.  Wander into the futures of apocalyptic worlds. Know what it feels like to face the darkness alone. 

No matter what whets your appetite: sci-fi, horror, fantasy, or hard, dark realistic fiction, A Collection of Small Shadows has it all.

…and more.

Machina Front Cover

Contents:

The Stiletto

Appetite

My Ears Rang 

The Sleepers

Phoenix

The Jupiter Event

Proxy: Fontane Di Roma

Til the Last Candle Flickers

Old Man of Tessera

Let the Bodies

Crispin

Murgul

And I Feel Fine

The Crossing: Moonlit Skies

Ice Cream

The Journal

The Sound of Silence

By the Time I get to Arizona

The Dark That Follows

Herald of Tessera

Crawl 

* * *

Will be sold as a sexy black matte softcover and an electrifying e-book.

The Write or Die Project is complete.

J Edward Neill

Superman vs Jesus – Death Matches for the ages

Call your bookie.

Flash your cash.

Place your bets.

For each of the following death-matches, pick the winner. Fights are to the death, no holds barred. No weapons are allowed beyond those each fighter would normally have. (i.e; Thor’s hammer, Superman’s laser eye beams, etc.)

Ready?

You’d better be.

Fight!!!

1.

Ben Affleck’s Batman versus Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne

Ben Affleck Jason Bourne

Fight notes:

  • Normally Batman would get the nod over almost every opponent. But this is Ben Affleck, and he looks pretty uncomfortable in his suit, right?
  • Both men have equally impressive MMA skills
  • There’s a 40% chance they’ll hug it out rather than fight

2.

Chuck Norris versus Godzilla

ChuckGodzilla

Fight notes:

  • Chuck Norris has never lost. Ever
  • Godzilla once leveled Tokyo just for fun.
  • Neither fighter has made a decent movie in decades

3.

Donald Trump’s hair versus Edward Scissorhands

TrumpEdward

Fight notes:

  • If fight night is windy, Trump’s hair has the clear advantage
  • Edward won’t have any access to Helena Bonham Carter during the fight
  • Most people’s money will be on Trump. Literally

4.

Kim Kardashian versus Paris Hilton

Kim Paris

Fight notes:

  • Both fighters have equally impressive sex tapes
  • Paris has veteran experience. Kim has youth (and a definitive size advantage)
  • Neither fighter has any other skills worth mentioning

5.

Darth Vader versus Gandalf the Grey

Vader Gandalf

Fight notes:

  • Gandalf the Grey possesses far fewer MMA skills than Gandalf the White
  • Can lightsabers cut through wizards’ staves?
  • Gandalf may have issues passing the pre-fight drug test

6.

Frodo Baggins versus Hermoine Granger

Frodo Hermoine

Fight notes:

  • Frodo will have access to the One Ring during the fight
  • Also, Frodo avoided certain death way more times than he should have
  • Turns out Emma Watson is stunning. Which Frodo probably won’t even notice, since no one ever has sex in Middle Earth

7.

Willow Ulfgood versus Tyrion Lannister

Willow Tyrion

Fight notes:

  • Willow’s aim with magic acorns is notoriously shitty
  • Lannisters always pay their debts
  • Willow may or may not have actual magic powers

8.

Thundercats’ Mumm-Ra versus He-Man’s Skeletor

Mumm Ra Skeletor

Fight notes:

  • Skeletor has a superior upper-body workout routine
  • No minions allowed to tag-in during the fight
  • Why are both of these dudes blue?

9.

Homer Simpson versus Pizza the Hutt

Homer Pizza_the_Hutt

Fight notes:

  • Eating your opponent is allowed
  • That is all

10.

Superman versus Jesus

Superman Jesus

Fight notes:

  • Jesus can self-resurrect a maximum of three times
  • Kryptonite doesn’t exist on Earth. But maybe Jesus can create it?
  • Superman has advantages in almost every physical category. But it’s possible his cape could hinder him if the fight goes to the ground

* * *

For an infinitely more serious fight to the death, prepare yourself for this. It’s coming out soon.

Otherwise, see you around.

J Edward Neill

The Trouble with Being Human

We were never meant to be happy.

 

Think hard on it. Find a quiet corner and dwell on it. It’s never been a matter of opinion. The point of being human hasn’t ever been to be free, to live long and prosper, or to carpe diem. The purpose of being alive isn’t to love, suffer, be entertained, or have wild adventures.

The only purpose of our existence is to survive.

It’s written into our genetic code. On a cellular, maybe even atomic level, our blueprints aren’t made for happiness. The only thing our DNA cares about is living. Not living in luxury. Or in poverty. Or in any particular place, time, or situation. On a molecular level, we’re driven to adapt and to exist. We need to eat, breathe, eliminate, and reproduce. Nothing besides survival matters.

Trouble is; many of us don’t have to fight to survive any longer.

And therein lies the struggle.

Now let’s be clear. We’re not talking about people who do have to struggle to survive. We’re not talking about hidden tribes in the Amazon, refugees in lands ravaged by permanent war, or farmers who work 23 1/2 hour days. We’re talking about you, yes you, reading this right now. The human with time to spare. The man or woman who eats meals created by someone else, who lives in a house built by others, the lucky person with better things to do than live in constant fear of death.

What are we doing with ourselves?

We’re searching.

But we haven’t found anything yet.

Many Galaxies

Check out all these cool galaxies you’ll never get to visit.

Leisure. Fun. Liberty. Entertainment. What do they have in common? You already know the answer. They’re products of modern humanity. A few thousand years ago, these pursuits occupied a tiny fraction of our lives. And now…well…now the scales have tipped. Our bodies remember that we must survive, but our minds haven’t the slightest clue. It’s not that we’ve gone soft. It’s not as if we should yearn for the days of scavenging, hunting saber-tooth tigers, and dying at the ripe old age of twenty-two. We’ve adapted to this new life, this comparably easy life. We don’t know shit about survival because we’ve never really had to do it. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe not.

And so, in the big empty void that remains, we search. We look for answers. We seek out fun. We make stuff up. We savor wonderful things such as art, science, stability, and hope. We invent religions, spar over politics, search for love, and bicker over the question of why we’re even here. We have all this time, more than we’ve ever had in the history of human society.

And because of it, we rebel against everything our bodies are made for.

In conversations with friends, I’m struck by a common theme amongst all of them. They don’t know what they really want. Some are more honest about it than others. That’s ok. No judgments here. But it all comes back to the very human admission that; although everyone seems to seek happiness, most of us only find it in fleeting moments, in the small, unexpected encounters of life. Human culture (American culture in particular) is shadowed by the notion that entertainment = happiness. As if going to a football game, watching Walking Dead, making a crap-ton of money, or playing 17 straight hours of Xbox equals actual, palpable contentment with our lives. But from simple observation, it appears none of these things make anyone happy. At least not for long.

Most of the time, they just distract us from having to be human.

Like I said, I’m not judging anyone. I seek out as much distraction from reality as anyone else. Even while knowing movies, games, parties, and sex won’t fulfill me, I stagger through it all, tipsy with the desire for fun, but rarely drunk with it. It’s probably true I’d find more contentment wandering alone beneath the stars, having long, slow conversations in the dark, and quitting my day-job to paint, write, and create until the end of time. But too often, I purposely distract myself. And don’t we all? These things we do are called ‘diversions’ for good reason. They divert us from the reality that we’ve nothing to really do anymore, that we’re filling the void of needing to survive with things. With stuff. With beautiful, mind-numbing fluff.

So what’s the answer?

There is none. At least not one I can fathom. I’ve theorized that one day we’ll all plug ourselves into a permanent create-our-reality engine, but it’s not as if it’ll matter to anyone alive in the here and now. Every road I travel and every social media banner I see screams out how to find happiness. The world tells us to be grateful for what we have, to cherish the small moments, to ignore all negativity, and to hug our children (and our dogs.) But I’m not convinced. I hear people say they’re happy, but I see something else behind their eyes. I glimpse malaise in place of passion. I see embers cooling, not fires roaring. We’re all weary. We’re all in need of epic-level distraction. The pursuit of happiness looks legitimate, but it feels false.

If humans were united in a true cause to make it all have meaning, we’d do it. But instead it feels like we live on islands.

Caveman

This isn’t a condemnation of humanity. Hardly. It’s not even particularly scientific. It’s just an observation that all the things we’re doing don’t seem to have any connection to what we say we desire. Is it because of some error in human engineering? Or…is it just that we’re not really designed to seek out and maintain happiness? I’m sticking with the latter. Life can be what you make of it, but only to a point. Because even though we all try to be different, inside we’re mostly the same.

Consider these:

Does technology make us happier? As in; do fancy iPhones, huge tv’s, and badass cars increase our quality of life?

Is extreme convenience always a good thing?

Is it always valuable for the media to stream reports of events we’re powerless to affect?

What will happen if, five-hundred years from today, all the primary problems facing us (food, disease, poverty, war) are eliminated?

For these, I have no answers. Because sometimes contentment comes from not knowing. Entertainment might not bring happiness, but perhaps acceptance has a shot.

The glass isn’t half-empty or half-full.

The glass doesn’t even exist.

We made it up.

* * *

For slightly softer philosophy, check this.

To dig in places deeper and darker, go here.

J Edward Neill

Tyrants of the Dead Giveaway!

Down the Dark Path – Book II

The darkest of all dark fantasy epics…

FREE this week for Kindles across the underworld!

In Book II, Andelusia journeys to Mormist, and the rain begins to fall.

As the Furyon shadow deepens, Emperor Chakran unleashes his greatest weapon…and his most terrifying servants. The war to destroy Graehelm sweeps across the mountains. Andelusia must decide: Flee certain death. Or remain by her lover’s side.

Little does she know that her choice will tip the balance of all things. And not for the better.

Part II

If you take the plunge into the shadow, please leave an honest Amazon review.

If you’re seeking Part I, look no further.

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J Edward Neill

Painting with Darkness – Part VI

A few months ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to paint something huge. Something to be the centerpiece of an entire wall. Something that if people walked by, they’d have to stop and look.

And of course, it had to be dark. Because…well…you know.

And so I present: Ocean of Knives

Ocean 1-

After securing a 36″ x 48″ white canvas, it sat in my closet for a solid two weeks while I stewed on what to paint. Would I use colors? Blacks & whites? What would be the subject matter? And once I finally stacked the canvas up on my easel, life got precarious. Each brush stroke threatened to topple the easel and ruin everything. I had to be like Muhammad Ali: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

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Ocean 2

Surfaces started to take shape. Pale rivers flowed from the hills into a deathly ocean. Things were looking stark already. I loved it. And yet, while making wild ovals and grey hills was fun, it was by far the easiest part. Life was about to get harder.

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Ocean 3

Ocean of Knives was meant to be a companion piece to my novel, Down the Dark Path. I began adding watercolor towers (knives) in the distance. Like snowflakes, each ‘knife’ had to be different. Some were forked, others straight as sin. Looks kinda barren in this pic. It wouldn’t stay that way for long.

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Ocean 4

Now it came time to add the big towers. To make them straight, I carved out varying lengths of posterboard and used the pieces as straight-edges. For the wavy and irregular towers, I freehanded. Raise your hand if you’d like to live in one of these things. Am I the only one? Well ok then…

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Ocean 5

The quality of this pic sucks because I used my iPad. But I couldn’t leave it out. It shows the towers almost fully added. I still needed more watercolors for the faraway ones. And I needed street-level buildings to fill the city out. But progress was made. By this point, I’d spent about 12 hours on the painting. Whew.

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Ocean 6

The finished painting – 18 hours in. See those little pale dots? They’re windows. I tried to count while adding them, but lost track at 2,000. Yes really. I figure there are about 3,000 little white windows in all. Tedious as hell, but utterly worth it. Also notice the deepened shadows the towers cast across the water.

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Ocean 7

Just to show scale, here’s my 4yo, G Man, standing beside the painting. He’s a bit tall for his age, but even so. The canvas is about 4 times his size.

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While painting this bad boy, I listened to soundtracks. A lot of Hans Zimmer, David Julyan, and Clint Mansell. Nice, brooding stuff, all of it.

Hope you like ‘Ocean of Knives,‘ companion piece for Down the Dark Path.

For other dark art I’ve done lately, look here and here.

J Edward Neill

The Flocksdale Fireball – Carissa Ann Lynch!

Boom!

Today at the Guild we’ve got another awesome creative interview lined up. Our guest is Carissa Ann Lynch, author of the Flocksdale Files series. Her latest release, House of the Lost Girls, is out now!

F4

Let’s get to know Carissa…

Hi Carissa! Welcome to Tessera Guild’s latest creative interview. We want to know all about you: DOB, home address, social security #… But seriously, give us the goods on yourself:

Haha! Thank you so much for interviewing me! It’s an honor to be featured on Tessera Guild. So, about me…my birthday is July 18th. I’m (approximately) 30 years old. I live in a tiny town called Floyds Knobs in Indiana with my husband and kiddos. I have a degree in psychology and most of my career background has been in mental health and corrections. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started writing seriously. I’ve always been obsessed with collecting books and reading, and I enjoyed journaling and writing short stories, but never considered myself a “writer”. One night I couldn’t find a book to read, so I got it stuck in my head that I would just write my own book. From there, it became an obsession and I’ve never stopped!

Carissa

The Sharpie, an essential tool in Carissa’s arsenal.

 

So…we hear you’ve got a new book, House of the Lost Girls, storming the world TODAY. It’s the second book in the Flocksdale Files series. What’s the series about? Where will House of the Lost Girls take readers?

The Flocksdale Files is about the most f&#cked up town in America, Flocksdale. In book one, Have You Seen This Girl?, readers were introduced to Wendi Wise, a struggling heroin addict hell bent on seeking revenge. At the age of thirteen, she was lured away from a local skating rink and held captive in a place she called the “House of Horrors”. Dumped off on the side of a dirt road, she found herself addicted to the drugs they fed and in fear for her life. So, she runs away from her hometown of Flocksdale, leaving her friends and family behind. After a tumultuous eight years of addiction, rehab, and foster care, she decided it was time for a homecoming party—so she makes a plan to hunt down the monsters of her youth. The monsters she remembers all too well from a tiny, little town called Flocksdale…

In book two, House of the Lost Girls, readers will again find themselves stuck in the horrific, demented town of Flocksdale. Only this time, they’ll get to meet seventeen year old Marianna Bertagnoli. (Although Wendi will make some appearances in Book Two). Marianna is miserable. Not only did her father abandon her five years ago, but she’s being uprooted and forced to move with her mom and stepdad to a creepy old house in a lame town called Flocksdale. It doesn’t take long for her figure out that her new house is none other than the infamous “House of Horrors”—the very house where a demented family kidnapped and murdered young girls several years before. History has a way of repeating itself, and within a week of moving in, one of her small group of new friends is found murdered, her mom disappears, and she’s attacked by a man wearing a hideous clown mask. Targeted by a new generation of evil, Marianna needs Wendi’s help to unravel the bizarre history of Flocksdale.

When did you know you wanted to write this series? What inspired you?

I never intended for Have You Seen This Girl? to be a series, but after I signed my contract with Limitless and sat down to start something new, I couldn’t stop writing about Flocksdale. I started writing it two years ago. It was originally titled “The End”, after the song “The End” by The Doors. That song plays a significant role in the story itself and it also served as inspiration for this book. There are so many things that inspired me to write this book. First of all, Indiana has recently received nationwide attention for our heroin and HIV epidemic. Addiction is an issue that is important to me, personally and professionally. I’m also interested in women’s issues that I address in the book—sex trafficking, sexual violence, post-traumatic stress, addiction, self-esteem, etc. I felt very connected to Wendi and she took the reins on this story. Although the first story has a clear, distinct ending, I felt like there was so much more to say and do…and that’s when Marianna came along. By the way, there is also going to be a third book. It’s called Carnival of Dead Girls.

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Your cover art is amazing. As in; everyone wants to date the Flocksdale Files girls. Tell us about your cover artist:

Oh, I know. You’ve been stalking my girls on Twitter for a while now hahaha! I have a girl-crush on them myself. I would LOVE to tell you about my cover artist! Her name is Ashley Byland and she’s a designer for Redbird Designs. She does a lot of the cover art at Limitless Publishing, and she is just amazing! I’m so grateful to her for making me such gorgeous covers and bringing my characters to life. Here is her website: www.redbird-designs.net. I recently tracked her down on Facebook and asked her to make me some bookmarks, promo pics, and an author logo. She’s nice as can be, and she can do it all!

It’s a tough world for writers these days. The competition is pretty much everyone in the world. What do you find most challenging? And what are some things that inspire you to continue to write and market your work?

For me, the hard part isn’t writing. The hard part is what comes after—trying to match my work to a certain genre or meet word count expectations, etc. And then of course there’s the marketing side of things. I’m incredibly shy in real life and gloating about my own books makes me extremely uncomfortable. Luckily, I’ve made so many awesome friends this past year—other writers who know what it’s like—and seeing them do it helps me feel a little bit more comfortable. As far as staying motivated…as long as I get to hold that book in my hand when I’m finished, and there are a couple people who want to read it, I’ll keep writing. I just want people to read it, so if I market all day long and only gain one reader, I see that as a success.

Let’s say someone wanted to immediately jump into reading the Flocksdale Files series. Where should they go?

Both books, Have You Seen This Girl? and House of the Lost Girls, are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, and select stores.

Thank you so much for interviewing me!

 

* * *

Carissa is all over the web! Find out more about her and get links to her books at:

Amazon

Facebook

Carissa’s Blog

Goodreads

Limitless Publishing

Twitter

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Special thanks to Carissa (and all our other guests) for being a part of the Tessera Guild Creative Interview series. Look for more interviews to come!

Tessera Guild 2015

40 Things I’ll Never Do (…again)

The saying goes, ‘Never say never.’

What a load of bull$#!t.  🙂

I’ll let you decide which of these are sarcastic…

…and which are deadly serious.

* * *

I will never willingly let Halloween pass without carving a jack-o-lantern.

Not gonna ever drink Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Definitely won’t ever put a politician’s sticker on my car. (or some stupid, ignorant slogan.)

I’ll never write a vampire romance novel. Or a vampire novel. Or a romance novel.

Nope. I’ll never enjoy using my cell phone. For anything. Ever.

I’ll never knowingly drink diet soda. Or eat sugar-free desserts. Or eat a ‘lean’ cut of beef.

Can’t ever see myself saying I ‘believe’ in something. I’ll either know the answer…or more likely I won’t.

I’ll never be racist.

Or elitist.

Or an optimist.

Or probably anything ending in -ist. (except for maybe a starving artist.)

I will never, ever be able to dunk a basketball.

Dos Equis

 Can’t imagine I’d ever purposely let anyone else win. At anything. Even my son.

Definitely never plan on owning a self-propelled lawn mower. (Push or die!)

Not ever gonna be a fan of country music. Or K pop. Or love songs.

Won’t ever, ever root for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Packers, or the Pistons. No matter what.

I’ll never join Instagram.

Or Pinterest.

Or post a bathroom selfie. (Unless she asks for one.)

Never gonna stop hitting on cute waitresses. (Or at least asking them if they read and want to buy my books.)

Won’t ever own a pit bull. Or a ‘rottie’. Or any dog big enough to eat me.

Won’t ever take a definable position on a political hot topic. Especially immigration. And gun control.

I’ll never Tivo anything.

untitled

 I’ll never chill red wine.

Or put water in my scotch.

I’ll never successfully date a woman who doesn’t like death metal. Or at least who can’t name one Slayer song.

No tattoos of names. Or any words, for that matter.

Won’t ever be able to sleep without a fan blowing.

Never gonna leave a restaurant without tipping my server. Even if they sucked.

Not ever going vegan. But won’t ever make fun of people who do.

I’ll never brag. Or gloat.

Won’t ever kill a bee. Or an ant. Or even a wasp if it’s outdoors. (But houseflies and black widow spiders, you guys are fucked.)

Probably not gonna reach my goal of being 6′ 4″.

Never going to meet a margarita I won’t like.

I just can’t see myself forgiving George Lucas.

I’ll never trust a rich man.

Or underestimate a poor one.

Won’t ever play fantasy football again.

I won’t ever enjoy a compliment. Nor be affected by a cutdown.

But more than anything else, I’ll never quit making art. Or writing books. Or putting stuff on the internet to make people say, ‘Hmmmmmm…’

* * *

A while back I wrote about my likeness to Jon Snow (i.e.; not knowing anything.) Check it out here.

Otherwise, creep yourself out with this.

Until next time,

J Edward

All Hallows Book Sale Part 2

Autumn

All Hallows Eve

Jack o’ Lanterns, Skeletons Swaying in the Wind, and Bucketloads of Candy

1

Because I’m still crazy, I’ve decided to discount several of my books. From today until Halloween at midnight, my darkest, spookiest, creepiest titles are on sale…

oldmantesseracover1sm

Old Man of Tessera, a creepy short story. It’s the prequel to the even creepier Let the Bodies, and it’s FREE for Kindles until Halloween at midnight!

101 Questions for Midnight Front Cover

101 Questions for Midnight. No All Hallows party will be complete without it. Gather your friends close, light some candles, and get deep. FREE until midnight on Halloween.

 

41hy4gWTX1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Down the Dark Path – Part I. A deep, dark fantasy novella unlike anything you’ve ever read. Kindle version only $0.99. Sexy matte black softcover only $5.99. …until All Hallows dies.

* * *

So be like a zombie and crawl out of your grave. Be a vampire and rip your coffin lid to pieces. Or be like a human…and read a book until the world ends.

All I ask…if you dip your paws into this candy…is that you leave an Amazon review 🙂.

Trick or Treat…

J Edward Neill

Check my entire book catalog here.

 

How to write an Amazon review

Ever tipped your server before?

Ever gotten a new tattoo? And when it was time to pay up, you added a little cash for the artist?

Ever gone to a bar, heard a local band rock out, and tossed a few bucks in their hat?

Of course you have. You’re cool like that. You’re a decent person. You recognize quality when you see it.

So why not do something even easier (and cheaper) when you buy a piece of art, a book, or really any creatively-made material from Amazon?

After deep research across a vast consumer base (aka: asking a few people who read my books) I think I’ve arrived at the reason.

You don’t know how.

It’s understandable. You’ve just hung an awesome new slab of art on your wall. You’ve just read a kickass story. You’ve just picked up a fantastic new handmade-from-real-human-bones necklace. You think to yourself, ‘Damn. I love this thing,’ and you go about your life. After all, you’ve already paid for it. Your role is finished, right?

What if I told you, in about 60 seconds, you could make a much larger difference in the artist’s life than the 7% profit they might have made from selling you that awesome stuff? What if I told you that an Amazon review is about 1,000% times more important than the $0.35 cents they made on the sale? It’s true. Because really, 60 seconds is about all the time it takes to write up an honest Amazon review.

I’m dead serious.

“How do I do it?” you ask.

Fair question. Here’s how:

*

 First, go to the Amazon page where you bought the kickass piece of art in the first place. Scroll down until you see this:

*

most-helpful-reviews

Because EVERYONE needs an Inflatable Unicorn Horn for their cat.

See that juicy lil’ button that says ‘Write a Review’?  Good. Click it.

*

Next up, you’ll arrive at a Sign-In screen.  Take 4 seconds to log in and click the ‘Sign in using our secure server’ button. Boom.

Sign in as

Whew. 10 seconds in and I’m exhausted.

*

You’ll immediately be sent to the screen below. It’s really, really easy from here on out. You click the stars to tell Amazon how awesome/not awesome your new purchase is. And then you type in your review. Amazon recommends 75-500 words. Don’t feel like typing that much? Cool. Just offer two little tiny sentences about how this art, book, skull-necklace, or cat unicorn horn made you feel.

REview me baby

“This book fucking rocked. I made sweet love to my husband while reading it in front of a roaring bonfire. I hope the author comes to my house and tattoos his next masterpiece on my buttocks.”

*

And just like that, you’re done. It was that easy. Now just hit ‘Submit.’  Research proves you’ll die 700% happier for knowing you helped an artist, author, or cat unicorn horn manufacturer.

But seriously, here’s some helpful hints:

  • Don’t ever mention knowing the artist or author personally, even if you do. Big turnoff.
  • Be honest. Seriously.
  • Review the product. Not the maker of the product.
  • Even 3 and 4-star reviews are awesome!
  • If you’re feeling extra nice, mention something you really liked about your purchase. Such as, “My favorite part of the book was when the evil minions of darkness pillaged the farmer’s daughters,” or maybe, “My cat Fluffy crapped all over the floor when we put the unicorn horn on her. Which means she loves it!”

To test my theory that reviews typically take no longer than 60 seconds, I just reviewed two books on Amazon. For real. One took 48 seconds. The other took 58 seconds. Which means, in less than two minutes, I helped two artists out, gave them more exposure (more reviews earn WAY MORE Amazon page views) and slapped a virtual ‘tip’ on the artists’ tables worth its weight in gold for their future.

60 seconds or less.

Easy as pie.

Just for hanging in there, I offer you Fluffy, pissiest cat on the planet:

UniCat

“Put this thing on me one more time, and you gon need medikal atenshun.”

The #NothingMatters Movement

It’s funny the things we decide to care about.

It’s curious the flow of socio-political liquid through the masses.

Do you ever wonder if, a thousand years ago, the hashtag causes would’ve been #SanitationMatters, #PeasantsMatter, or #ArrowsDon’tKill but #ArchersDo?

ArcheryDuring World War II, if Twitter had existed, the Allies’ causes would’ve been obvious (Sadly the Axis’s would’ve been, too.) But what about during the American Revolution? Would it have been #IndependenceMatters, #RedcoatLivesMatterToo, or simply #FuckKingGeorge?

Well?

Nearly every day of our lives, we see someone or some group expelling causes across the internet. Seems everyone has an interest in telling everyone else what should be important. ‘You should care about this,’ they shout. ‘This is important, #TheseLivesMatter,’ but, ‘That shit over there doesn’t matter.’ These days anyone with fingers and a computer has a soapbox. Some folks choose not to stand on it. But a crap-ton of other people are happy to jump on and start talking/typing.

But talking ain’t the same as doing.

And while a hundred-thousand people might appear to agree with a common cause on their Facebook pages, ultimately they’re all just individuals. With their own lives and problems. Most of whom don’t actually give two shits about the cause beyond clicking ‘Like.’

Boromir

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

Yes.

If shit goes down and no one’s there to care, did that shit matter?

Hmmmm…

Every day globally, thousands of humans die. Some from sickness, others by accident, still others by war, suicide, and foul play. Every hour, people are wronged. People are robbed, kidnapped, assaulted, maimed, and abused. Now imagine all these terrible things if no one reported them. No news. No weather channel. No 60 Minutes specials. No hashtags made up to gather attention. Without media coverage, the only ones who’d know about localized suffering would be the survivors, the perpetrators, and a handful of observers.

Compared to the way things are now, the world would be quiet. It might even seem peaceful, even though it wouldn’t be.

Because…without the media storm surrounding the modern world, we’d never know about all these terrible things. Not even the good things. We’d never care. #NothingWouldMatter because we’d never hear about stuff. We’d be the same as most people were a few hundred years ago. The only things that would matter to us would be those affecting our village, our clique, our small sphere of stuff we could actually see, hear, and touch.

Now, I’m not going all nihilistic on you. To say #nothing has any value at all would be a tough sell to most people, especially those with children, lovers, amazing friends, close family, or even pets. However…if we peek just outside our bubble of people and things that matter, what’s out there? What’s really out there? Good stuff. Bad stuff. But mostly just stuff. Stuff that doesn’t affect you. Or me. Or anyone other than the people directly involved in it.

Now let’s take a #DoesItReallyMatter quiz:

Pretend you and everyone you knew got really pissed off at how refugees in a faraway war were being treated, but none of you actually went out to fight the bad guys oppressing these refugees. So. Did the refugees matter to you? As in really?

Let’s say you actually did get up and fight the bad guys, but that one generation later, the refugees formed a country who started doing the same terrible things that had been done to them. Did your involvement matter?

If a city a hundred miles away vanished overnight and all its people were lost, but no one you knew had ever lived there, would it matter to you? Honestly?

If a nation (population 1 billion) you’d never paid attention to were invaded and destroyed tomorrow, would such a catastrophic loss matter to you? Other than maybe make you afraid for your own nation? Other than maybe make you crap your pants? Is it even possible for one person to care about a billion other individuals?

What I’m saying is; for all the things a person really, really cares about in their life, they’ll fight like lions to defend. They’ll make huge sacrifices, they’ll go to war, they’ll spend all their money, they’ll invest their heart and soul. They’ll die to see it done. It’s that important. #ItMatters.

But for everything else, they’ll just go online and ‘Like’ it.

…or talk about it at the water cooler.

…or catch in on the news right before watching their favorite tv show.

Because, just maybe, #ItDoesn’tReallyMatter

No matter how much we like to tell ourselves we care about all the crazy stuff going on the world…

…most of the time, we don’t.

We can only really care about the things closest to us.

And that’s just the way it should be.

#NothingMatters

#Well…AlmostNothing

* * *

Want to start a few hot debates with all the guys and gals in your life? Click here and here.

Want to sit in the shadows and read about people who have it way tougher? Right. Here.

Love,

J Edward Neill

I’m Really Sorry you Hate Sports

Here we are.

In the heart of football season.

Ascending to the World Series.

Ready to pop the cork on the NBA and NHL.

Pretty much the best time of a sports-lover’s year.

And all you wanna do is hate.

It’s that time of year when the hate feels especially strong. The stupid memes start popping up. People who previously seemed cool, nice, and maybe even enlightened decide to publicize their disgust with other people’s love of athletic competition. Pictures of cats, dogs, and kids on Facebook are replaced with comments about ‘Sportsball’ and intentional ignorance regarding ‘Putting balls into holes.’

Here are just a few of the dumb images I’ve seen during the last two weeks:

Both Teams Lose

Cute cat, but I only feel this way when the Packers play the Vikings.

Hate sports because

Yep. It’s the first one.

What Color Rooting

I’m pretty sure I beat this guy up in high school.

Look. I get it. A lot of people don’t like sports. I’m fine with it. Everything‘s not for everyone. Some people hate football, baseball, and all the rest. Others don’t like art. Or books. Or kids. Or shopping for shoes. Or cosplay. Or whatever. All of this is ok. As for me…I like almost everything. And the shit I don’t like is typically stuff like terrorism, politicians, or whatever the fuck this is. You’re allowed to like your stuff. And I’m allowed to like mine.

But here’s the thing: When you cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war against fun, you look stupid.

And when you hate on other people’s likes and lifestyles, you open yourself up to getting your ass kicked in the parking lot getting the hate hurled right back at you.

Consider these:

Video Games

Because playing video games makes you a total fucking loser. Just like watching sports. NOT.

Fat Nerd

What everyone automatically assumes a sports-hater looks like.

Nerds

Nerds: the ‘other’ N word. It’s cool to call yourself one. But when Ogre does it, you’d better cry ‘Bully!’

Remember back in the 80’s – 90’s when nerds, geeks, dorks, and DragonCon attendees pretty much lived on the bottom of the social rung? When being smart wasn’t nearly as cool as being popular, well-dressed, or athletic? I do. I remember it. Kids at every school I went to were picked on if they came across as nerdy or shy. Hell, watching some of these unlucky kids get beaten up, shaken down, and tormented on a daily basis probably had a lot to do with my sudden love of hitting the gym, getting tougher, and learning to love the beautiful, brotherhood-inducing thing called sports. And now that we’ve evolved past the nerd-hate, everything should be cool, right? Sports fans living beside LARP’ers. Athletes dating librarians. Dogs and cats…living together.

And yet, here’s some recent shit I’ve seen online from otherwise decent people:

A lady who LOVES cosplay (dressing up as her favorite superhero) ranting about how “stupid” football fans looked when they wear costumes and paint their faces for the game.  Hypocrite much?

A proud declaration that “Most athletes get paid WAY too much! And that’s why I hate ALL sports!”  The vast majority of pro athletes don’t get paid as much as you’d think. Consider minor leaguers, practice squad members, assistant coaches, trainers, rookies, etc. Only the very best get the big bucks, just like in, oh…I don’t know…every other profession.

A lady who bluntly stated that “Everyone in the NBA and NFL is a thug.”  – Wow. Racist much?

And the single stupidest post I’ve seen in a long while: “Sportsball. Ugh.”

* * *

I don’t think most people feel this way. I mean…sure…a lot of folks don’t care about ‘Sportsball,’ but nor do they feel the need to attempt some BS, double-reverse bullying attempt on social media. I think most people realize that a love of sports is the same as a love of anything else. Like books. Or tv shows. Or movies. Or zombie Pokémon porn. Or whatever. I guess what I can’t reconcile in my brain is why some people feel the need to shout their hate out. As if it’s somehow idiotic for me to admire the supreme physical skills of other humans. Or foolish to enjoy watching two evenly-matched teams fight for victory. I mean…shit…it’s not like we’re watching Nascar. Relax. I’m joking. I’m sure Nascar is awesome. It’s just not for me.

So how about you sport-haters and I strike a truce? You don’t make fun of me watching the fastest, strongest humans on the planet beating the ever-loving crap out of each other, and I won’t make fun of you for liking World of Warcraft, thinking comic book movies are cool, or not being able to pound out more than three push-ups. You promise to never utter the word ‘Sportsball’ again, and I swear to overlook the next thirty-four times you roll your eyes when I mention I’m gonna go, ‘Watch the Bears lose again.’

Deal?

Deal.

This PSA brought to you by a barbaric, Neanderthalish, MMA-loving, baseball-crushing, football-slingin’ sports nut…who despite being a mouth-breathing Sportsball fanatic found time to write more and paint more in 2015 than almost everyone else on the planet.

I’m just playin’.

Enjoy the game.

J Edward Neill

New Cover Art for the Coffee Table Philosophy series!

Boom!

Three new books in the Coffee Table Philosophy series.

…with ALL NEW COVER ART.

101 Questions for Women

101 Questions for Women Cover

Chock full of questions about sex and relationships. But also contains questions about life, love, and humanity. Geared for women, but accessible to everyone.

 

101 Questions for Midnight

101 Questions for Midnight Front Cover

For those who favor their questions cold, hard, and serious. Each page contains one question about Life vs Death, Good vs Evil, Morality, Sex, etc… Turn down the lights, pour yourself a drink, and settle down into a darker brand of entertainment.

 

101 Sex Questions

101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

Like a quiz book…but for your libido. Meant for hot nights with your partner, candid conversations with a lover, and parties during which (almost) everything goes. Includes questions on relationships, love, and of course, TONS of smoldering sex.

 

 I’ve still got softcover versions with the original cover art available. I’ll sign ‘em and ship ‘em free in exchange for Amazon reviews. Though after the originals are gone, they’ll never be available again.

 The rest of the Coffee Table Philosophy series is available here.

J Edward Neill

Painting with Darkness – Part V

As summer’s warmth fades and the days die earlier than before, I find myself in the studio for long stretches of time.

Some might say locking myself indoors with brooding soundtracks playing in the background and a crispy cold glass of scotch on the table is a swift road to being utterly alone.

My point exactly…

My latest painting: All Hallows

Hallows 1

I started at the bottom with water-diluted oranges and worked my way up. With every inch gained toward the top, I added drops of red and black. Watercolors became solids. Lights became darks. The striking colors satisfied me. And the hard blacks on the bottom were fun to paint (and easy!)

Hallows 2

Now came the time-consuming part. At first, I worked on the trees with a 1/4″ wedge brush. Then, as the branches thinned, I used the sharpest-point brush in my arsenal. The tops of the trees began to look like claws. It was exactly the eerie look I wanted.

 

Hallows 3

Completing the trees was a full-day task. I used my daggerlike brush to add sharpness and realism to every branch. As is always my theme, I made the trees curl toward the center of the painting…as if reaching for something unseen. I considering adding more to make this a full-blown Halloween-ish work, but decided to keep it simple. Blacks on color. Nothing cheesy. Stick to the plan of painting with darkness.

All in all, this canvas was fun and simple. In other words, my favorite kind.

The same night I finished All Hallows, I began work prep work on a huge 36″ x 48″ canvas, my hugest ever:

Ocean of Knives

This’ll be called ‘Ocean of Knives’. The canvas is 3′ x 4′. It’ll take weeks to finish, for sure. Gonna need a lot of wine…

Recently, I used one of my grimmest works for the cover of Let the Bodies, my latest short story:

LettheBodies_BlogLg

Painting your own cover art…fun!

 And previously in the ‘Painting with Darkness’ series:

The Emperor’s Vision

The Underhollows

Brothers

The Last Tower, Pale Swamp, Four Swords, Grave Rain

* * *

See you next time. Painting with Darkness, Part VI will feature the finished version of ‘Ocean of Knives.’

J Edward Neill

Tyrant of the Dead

10 Things to Ask Yourself Tonight

The following 10 questions are straight from my philosophy/ice-breaker book, 101 Questions for Midnight.

I hope you enjoy them.

If so, considering answering a few in the comments section below, via Facebook, or on Twitter.

* * *

Absolute Freedom

 Imagine a society in which there are no laws.

You can do anything without fear of legal retribution.

Consider, of course, so can everyone else.

What things would you do that are currently illegal?

  Realistically speaking, is such a society even possible?

Invulnerability

If you could choose to become utterly and forever immune to being offended, would you?

Algebra of the Heart

Complete the following equation:

 ________________ + ________________

 = Love

Play the Percentages

 Define exactly what percentage of each day you’d like to spend doing the following things:

Sleeping

Being alone

Having sex

Spending time with friends and family

Working

The Small of a Woman’s Back

 Define what it means to be sexy.

Assumptions 

Most humans make swift judgments about people they’ve newly encountered, even if subconsciously.

With that in mind, what judgments would you make after seeing:

A woman in a slinky dress    

A man listening to obnoxiously loud music in their car

A woman covered neck to ankle in tattoos

A man yelling at his child in public

Arbeit Macht Frei 

An ancient Japanese samurai once claimed, “Everyone should personally know exertion as it is known in the lower classes.”

His point is that for humility’s sake, every human should perform hard labor to some extent during their lives.

Do you feel this is true?

Can hard work free the mind of some of its troubles?

Spartans 

By and large, human society no longer embraces the theory of Survival of the Fittest.

Weakness, disease, and genetic flaws are no longer the death sentence they once were.  Strong, fit, and healthy individuals coexist with those less fortunate.

In terms of humanity’s long-term survival, do you believe this is ideal?

 

Marriage

Is it doomed?

In other words; in 100 years, will the concept of two people spending their entire lives together cease to exist?

If not, what do you believe will reverse the current trend of most marriages ending poorly?

Does all passion die in the end?

  

Shakespearian 

Many of the most famous and popular books and stories have endings that could be described as tragic.

In your opinion, why are these tales of human suffering so beloved?

* * *

Intrigued? Curious? Entertained?

Dive into all 101 questions by clicking the image below:

101 Questions for Midnight Front Cover

And here’s the rest of the Coffee Table Philosophy series:

 101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500 101 Questions for Men Cover 101 Questions for Women Cover 101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

***

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Down the Dark Path

All your heroes are dead

The other night, whilst sitting among friends in a crowded restaurant, I accidentally eavesdropped on my neighbors’ conversation. Ok…it wasn’t accidental. The lull in my friends’ talking gave me an easy window to listen in on the fascinating exchange between a guy and a girl. I couldn’t resist.

It started well enough.

When the pretty girl (30-something, short brown hair) sat down with the guy (early 40’s, funky comb-over,) everything seemed ok. He kissed her, told her how beautiful she was, and ordered her a drink right away. She told him all about her work problems, including how she’d lost a chance at a big promotion. He sympathized with her, reassured her, and seemed genuinely concerned about her travails. But…and there’s always a but…the conversation soon took a turn for the intriguing. After ignoring several rings of her cell phone, the girl starts getting nervous. She admits to the guy that her husband is looking for her, and that hubs suspects her of having an affair, which she clearly is.

Wait. It gets better.

Our cool, comb-over guy seemed unbothered by this news. He says something to the effect of, “It’s ok. I understand. I love you. I’ll wait for you for as long as it takes.” As far as adulterers go, he made a good show of it, appearing genuinely in love with the wandering wife. But…and there’s always a but…after a while of talking, touching, and kissing, the girl gets up and goes outside to text her hubby that she’s, “Still at work.” And that, “…boss has me working OT.” Classic stuff there. I have a feeling she didn’t fool anyone.

 And while the lovely lass is busy lying, Captain Comb-over gets to the good part.

No sooner does the girl go outside than this dude picks up his cell phone and dials. Obviously he was drunk, else it would’ve been pretty obvious that I was listening in. I mean…c’mon. I’ve got good peripherals and all, but I was practically leaning over his bourbon. So our hero dials, and it’s clear another woman picks up on the other end. He starts talking to her, all the while looking over his shoulder and chugging his drink. And then he says, “Don’t worry. She’s outside. She can’t even see me.” The woman on the phone says something I can’t hear, and then…after hitting up the bartender for another drink…our hero says, “She has no idea. I’ll see you tonight. I love you.”

And he’s right. Girl 1 had no idea.

At this point, you’re thinking I’m judging these two. No. I’m really not. Where other people sling their lies and plunge their loins isn’t my concern. But it was while eavesdropping I wandered into a dark place at the back of my mind. I touched upon a belief I’ve always possessed. I remembered that the world has almost no heroes, and that for every good thing we want to believe about someone else, skeletons in the closet remain.

Let’s talk this over. Because I know where you’re gonna hit back. You’re going to point out the good people in your life: the dads, moms, grandmas, soldiers, teachers, BFF’s. And you’re going to assert how these people, with their grace and humility, are the true heroes. The unsung. The real deal. I’m fine with that. I get what you’re saying. Small deeds and simple acts of kindness can be heroic. Everyday people doing everyday good things are awesome.

But remember:

One man’s treasure is another man’s trash.

A hero to one group of people can be a villain to another.

And for every one thing you know about your personal hero, there are ten things you don’t know.

Frodo

To start trimming the list of people we consider heroic, the easiest place to start is with celebrities and political figures. This year alone, the bones tumbled out of the proverbial closet at an astonishing rate. Consider Bill Cosby, among my generation’s most beloved men, now hot on the skillet for his roofie-administering ways. Consider Jared Fogle, long a television mainstay, busted for banging teenagers. Consider the Duggars, the Ashley Madison scandal, and the impossibly long list of NFL ‘badasses’ beating the crap out of their wives and girlfriends. Now I’m not suggesting any of these people should’ve ever been considered heroic, but nevertheless…celebrity-worship is a huge thing, especially in the US. And now we get to watch the previously-beloved fall, and fall, and fall. My guess is that at some point in the past, certain people viewed these famous folks as good, solid, and loveable. So now what? The onion is peeled back. Have they learned their lesson? Or will they simply find another celeb to hold up high?

Now let’s get dark.

Think about these questions:

Is every soldier a hero? Are most of them heroes? If so, are they heroic just because they fight on your side? What do you think the widows of their enemies would say?

Can someone who does great good in the world still be called heroic if, when no one’s looking, they lie, cheat, steal, or abuse?

Is doing hard work to support your family heroic? If so, doesn’t that make almost everyone who lived in pre-modern times a hero? (Back in the day most everyone had to bust their asses just to survive.)

If a firefighter regularly saves whole housefuls of kids and cute puppies, but is a shitty father and a negligent husband, is he a hero?

If a single mother works two jobs to support her kids, but smokes like a fiend (thereby shortening her life…which her kids need) is she heroic?

If someone gives millions to well-meaning charities, but pilfers a little for himself, is he…

…I think you get the point.

Potter

People do heroic things all the time. They save lives, teach wisdom, and sacrifice themselves for the greater good. People can be beacons of light in dark times, pull others together to make huge differences, and enact changes for the betterment of everyone. For brief, shining moments, people can do wonderful things.

But at some point, people go back to being people.

And no matter how high you hold them up, they will tumble. They will do things when they think no one’s looking. They’ll be human.

So be careful whom you look up to. 

And be careful why you look up to them.

* * *

Want more challenging questions about humanity and the crazy shit we do?

Look no further than here.

J Edward Neill

The Stiletto

The Stiletto

* * *

I knew it’d be a mistake the moment it was over.

But I did it anyway.

He was a ghoulish old king. He’d extorted, terrorized, and murdered to fill his coffers. His brothers were thieves. His wives…both of them…were daggers in every man’s back.

His subjects hated him. His enemies feared him. The ground he walked turned black beneath his boots. His bathwater reeked of death.

Every family who’d even a chance at sniffing the throne, he’d exiled, poisoned, or butchered. When his cousin’s coup d’état failed, the ghoul burned the usurpers’ children alive, drowned his cousin’s mother, and hung the collaborators’ bodies from gibbets so high even the crows dared not a single sniff.

It was time for the King to go. Everyone knew it. Everyone wanted it. His black towers had too long stood like knives on the kingdom’s throat.

When the three exiles came to me on autumn’s second eve, I knew what they wanted. One carried a chest of silvers. The other dropped a satchel of ingots on my table. The third stood in my doorway, the moonlight shining on his back. He was a weathered, ancient thing. Twenty years in the sand had done him poorly. I smirked, my dagger folded against my wrist in case he did something stupid.

“Lady Lusia, will you?” he asked.

“Will I what?” I pretended not to know what he meant.

“The Ghoul…the King…the hundred-year old nightmare haunting the eaves of every house in Lyrlech. Will you?”

“No.” I glanced out my window. I couldn’t see the black towers, but I knew they were there.

“Why?” asked the weathered man.

“He’s only a few more years left in him,” I scoffed. “Not worth it. I’m too pretty for the gibbets.”

“You don’t understand, Lusia,” he sighed. “If he dies, his brother becomes king. It’ll only get worse.”

I considered it for a moment, then countered, “Exactly. If I kill the Ghoul, it does nothing. The noose around our necks just gets tighter.”

“But Lusia, his family will be there. His brothers. His sons. His grandchildren. All under one roof for the first time in years.”

“So?” I smiled.

“You can save us,” he pleaded. “You’re the best. Everyone knows it. The Stiletto, they call you. You’re the only one who can deliver us from darkness.”

“You’re right,” I smiled. “I can. But I won’t.”

I got tired of waiting. I flicked my knife and split the three men neck to belly. They died quietly. Their blood drained onto the floor, but the night moved none at all.

I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.

…but the Ghoul had paid me well.

 

* * *

The Stiletto, along with a volcano of other dark, eerie, and fantastical tales, appears in:

Machina Front Cover

Machina Obscurum features a host of writers doing their best to darken your world with short, deadly stories and quick-as-knives fiction.

It’s available right now.

J Edward Neill

Bury Yourself in Books!

Readers! Philosophers! Hard Partiers!

I want your reviews!

Stars

I’ve got two softcover copies each of every book in the Coffee Table Philosophy series.

And I’m giving them away for FREE!

All you have to do is agree to complete an honest Amazon review within two weeks of receiving your book.

Interested?

If so, choose any of the following (multiples allowed) and I’ll ship FREE same-day to you:

101 Questions for Humanity

101 Questions for Midnight

101 Questions for Men

101 Questions for Women

101 Sex Questions

To get your copy shipped, reach me in the comments section below, via email, via Facebook, or via Twitter.

To get a feel for what’s inside each book, click the images below.

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

Review me, baby.

I need your lovin’.

J Edward Neill

My Top 7 Words of 2015

Bone Letters

 

Welcome to the third annual edition of Top 7 Words. For the next hundred or so years, it’s a safe bet to expect one of these to spring up in your face annually. I briefly considered making this year’s theme about the Worst Words of 2015, but I figure everyone already hates bae, yolo, and thot enough to pretty much cover it.

 

And so…

Deflategate

1. Deflate – to release the air or gas from something inflated

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last seven months, you know that my son and I deflated the footballs used by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. But seriously, as a football nut and a regular user of NFL footballs, I laugh to myself every time I hear about a pro QB taking the air out of his balls. Why? Because unlike many of them, I like my balls (no pun intended) inflated to the point of bursting. Just ask the KGFL. They all hate me for it.

2. Bachelorhoodthe state of being a bachelor

Because honestly, who’d want to live any other way? I’m mostly kidding. I know marriage has its good points. Married guys live longer, get more action, have more money, and enjoy a host of other benefits. And yet here I am, the only unmarried guy on my entire block. Seriously. Thirty + houses…and I’m the sole bachelor. It feels somehow liberating, somehow kingly. When my neighbors sigh and tell me Friday night will be spent watching Netflix (again) with their never-put-down-the-cell-phone wives, I feel freer than ever in my life.

3. Proliferateto increase in number or spread rapidly

In 2015, my writing career took leaps and bounds above previous years. I published nine books, more than fifty web articles, and sold hundreds of stories here in the US and abroad. I feel like a virus, infecting my host (Earth) with reckless abandon. Aside from all that, I love the word proliferate. It implies something is unstoppable, maybe even invincible. Yeah. That.

4. Winethe fermented juice of grapes, made in many varieties, such as red, white, sweet, dry, still, and sparkling

Every time I open my Facebook or Twitter profiles, I see the word wine. I’ve begun to think my kid is the only one who doesn’t drink the stuff. For dinner. At midnight. For breakfast. Whatever. I love the stuff, but that’s not why I love the word. I’m amused by housewives whose every other meme is wine-related. I smirk every time I see a woman’s dating profile with a ‘I love wine’ mention (because almost all of them do.) Apparently the world is always drunk…or at least trying to be.

Pale-Swamp

5. Undertonesan underlying quality or element; undercurrent

About a year ago, I started painting. A lot. I try (and often fail) to imbue my canvasses with specific undertones. I want viewers to feel the rain, sense the cold, and shiver as though whatever they see is haunting.

 

6. Feministadvocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men

Before I start, let me say I’m not anti-feminist. Equality is awesome. Fairness is a something usually worth striving for. That said, I like the word feminist because when someone else uses it, I can predict without fail where the conversation is going. Admit it; so can you. Either people will leap to profess their feminist support, crush someone else for not being feminist enough, or (if they’re brave) start an argument about how the world was better during the Mad Men era. Me? I’m not political enough to even touch the whole feminism discussion. The rest of the world has it covered.

Fireball

 

7. Swipeto move a finger or fingers, or a stylus, across an area on (a touchscreen) in order to execute a command

During my brief tenure on Tinder (and other similar dating apps) I’ve learned this much: Swiping left is shallow…but fun. I’ve pretty much swiped left for the entire Atlanta metropolitan area. Hell, I don’t even log on with the hope of meeting anyone. Never really have. I just swipe left a few thousand times and continue yucking it up with my friends. Pointless. Stupid. Entertainment.

* * *

Enjoy this? Check out My Top 7 Words of 2014 and 2013. Previous editions were darker in tone than this year. Whatever…

Check out my chilling short stories Old Man of Tessera and Let the Bodies. In which I use real words.

J Edward Neill

Just Another Day in Purgatory

The following is a guest spot from Tessera Guild favorite, River Fairchild. She’s got an awesome new release, Just Another Day in Purgatory, and it’s available. Right. Now.

* * *

JustAnotherDayInPurgatory Blog

Hi. Death here. I’d introduce you to Chronos as well, but he’s stuck in the ‘80s and doesn’t understand social media.

I’m pleased to announce the release of our new novella, Just Another Day in Purgatory.

What’s it about, beyond the wacky fun and crazy misadventures of myself and my best bud, Chronos, as we keep the universe from imploding? It’s about friendship in the midst of insanity. Trying to find order in the middle of chaos. Living life on the edge and having fun while doing so. It’s about having someone’s back, no matter what.

Come have fun with us as we sort through the mayhem, one crisis at a time. Maybe I’ll even give you a ride on my Harley.

In Just Another Day in Purgatory:

Hell freezes over. Heaven heats up. A resort springs to life on the banks of the River Styx and souls don’t want to move on. 

Nothing scares our intrepid immortals—except a run-in with a scissor-wielding Fate after messing up the Great Tapestry. She’s the only one capable of cutting their Life Threads. 

It’s just another day in Purgatory for Death and Chronos as they sort through the mayhem and keep the universe from spinning out of control. Be sure to bring along your helmet. You never know when Death might offer you a ride on his Harley. 

Step into their world. The afterlife will never be the same.

Amazon / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Other Links

 River Fairchild is somewhat odd, brandishes a dry sense of humor, owned by several cats. Lives in a fantasy world. A fabricator of magic. Makes stuff up and spins tales about it. Believes in Faerie crossings and never staying in one place for very long. Speculative Fiction wordsmith. The secret to her stories? Spread lies, blend in truths, add a pinch of snark and a dash of tears. Escape into her world. She left the porch light on so you can find your way down the rabbit hole.

Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google+ / Amazon /

* * *

2015 Tessera Guild

Living in a Baseball Paradise

 

The Rizz

Anthony Rizzo, definitive NL MVP candidate.

 

I know how this story ends.

Me. An empty glass on the table. A giant foam finger wilting on the floor.

And another season referred to as ‘lost‘ by sports reporters worldwide.

In case you didn’t know, I’m the world’s biggest Chicago Cubs fan. I bleed Cubbie blue. I live and die with every pitch. I allow my hopes, however small, to flourish in April and rot off the vine always usually by mid-July.

And yet here we are. September. The Cubs are ahead of their rebuilding schedule, or so say most of the pundits. A few weeks ago, they crushed the hometown (I live in Atlanta) Braves in a four-game sweep, outscoring the hapless Bravos 30-14 over the series. They swept the New York Mets 7-0 this year. They’ve improved from mediocre in April/May/June to downright threatening in the NL Central. They have two legitimate NL Rookie of the year candidates (Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber) a serious CY Young threat (Jake Arrieta) and a potential NL MVP winner (Anthony Rizzo.)

It’s been fun.

Arrieta

Jake Arrieta, first to 15 Wins in the NL this year.

Bryant

Kris Bryant, a bigger success than the Cubs even hoped for.

With the Cubs’ young hitters raking, the starters dealing (mostly) and the bullpen steady-ish, the team feels like an honest challenger to the St. Louis Cardinals…aka: Satan’s Lackeys.

But I’m not gonna hold ’em to it.

Because, like I said, I know how this story ends.

Look. Let’s be honest. Football season is here. Yeah…ok…the Bears suck. And yeah…ok…I should still be riding high after the Chicago Blackhawks 3rd Stanley Cup win in the last decade. Plus I live in the south, where every bar streams football at every hour. So if I wanted to, I could close my eyes to the Cubs and direct my attention to thousands of other sports-related distractions. It’d be easy. I could just tell myself, ‘They’ve got no real shot,’ or ‘They’re gonna get stuck in a one-game Wild-Card playoff and lose 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.’

I could do those things. Nobody could blame me. The guys at ESPN will tally another season of broken dreams (never mind the other 28 teams that’ll fail this year.) Fans will get over it by muttering, ‘Next year they’ll be even better.’ Because that’s the mantra Cubs’ fans use. ‘Next year. Next year. Next year,’ even though no such thing is promised. I mean, just look at the Nationals. Everyone thought this would be the year. Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and crew were supposed to blow everyone away.  And let’s not even talk about the Dodgers, armed with $400-billion dollars and multiple superstars, still losing out to the humble SF Giants, who’ve won 3 of the last 5 World Series’, by the way.

But you know what? I’m not gonna bail. F it. I’m all in.

If the Cubs fall short this year, and they probably will, I’m not gonna worry about next year. I’m gonna trumpet how fun this year has been. I’m gonna fly a Cubs’ banner from my front porch through Thanksgiving. I’m gonna drink my Friday-night bourbon from a crystalline Cubs’ glass. Because let’s face it, every year in every sport, most fans die hard. And by die hard, I’m emphasizing the die. Only 1 of 30 baseball teams tastes glory. Only 1 of 32 in football. And let’s not even talk about basketball, whose champion is decided about 17 years after the playoffs begin, meaning if your team sucks, you get to watch everyone else play forever before the next season begins.

 It’s been a tough year to be a Cubs’ devotee. And for a change it’s not because of their record. No, the hard part is that I have no television on which to watch them. No cable, no satellite, no my-kid-accidentally-ordered-the-MLB-package-so-now-I’m-paying-$250-to-watch-every-fucking-game-on-my-iPad. Last year and every year before it, I consumed every game possible.  I used to race home to catch the 9th inning or stay in on weekends to watch my team lose (again.) But this year, with the Cubs smashing, I’ve watched maybe a dozen games. And naturally, the one game I saw live (Cubs at Braves) turned out to be the only game Chicago lost against Atlanta this year. (They went 6-1 vs the Braves in 2015.)

So it’s true. I haven’t even caught most of the season. Thank gawd for the internet.

So. Yeah. I know how this story ends. I’m sure of it. I’m 100% positive. There’s no doubt. This isn’t the year.

We’ll lose the one-game playoff against Pittsburg.

Or crash and burn against hated St. Louis.

Or find a way to F up against teams we already smashed this year (New York, San Francisco, L.A.)

But it’s ok. At least for this Cubs’ fan. At least for this year. Because knowing the math and the odds are against my team, I’m going to measure success in a new way: If my hometown heroes win more than they lose, I’m gonna pretend this year was a total success. Why not? I mean…seriously. And you’d better believe, after all the years we spent as the Atlanta Braves’ little bitch, I’m gonna soak up beating the crap out of them in 2015. Until April 1st next year, there will be shit-talking. And lots of it.

Hey Chicago, whaddya say? The Cubs are gonna WIN today!

And as a side-note, I’m trying to get my kid into Little League this year. Apparently he wants to play for the Atlanta Batmen. Whatever. At least he’s got his daddy’s arm. And at least he finally declared, Daddy, the Cubs are the GOOD guys!

GVP

Sigh. If only he were a lefty.

Ok. I promise; no more sports articles this year.

Unless the Bears are good, which they won’t be.

See ya,

J Edward Neill

Coffee Table Philosopher

Free $@#%*! for your Kindle

From now through Saturday, August 29th, you can get 101 things for FREE.

By things I mean fun, party-ready, goes-perfect-with-wine philosophy.

And by FREE I mean $0.00000000000.

101 Questions for Humanity, the hit 1st entry in the Coffee Table Philosophy series:

101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500

Click me. Touch me. Read me. After all, I’m FREE.

To get a feel for what you’ll find inside, go here.

But if you need paper between your fingers, the softcover edition is only $5.99.

101 Questions for Humanity is part of a popular series. There’s also 101 Questions for Men, Women, Midnight, and Sex.

101 Questions for Midnight  101 Questions for Men Cover 101 Questions for Women Cover 101 Sex Questions

So warm up your e-readers and pour some wine.

You’re in for a fun night…

J Edward Neill

50 Things You Should Probably Think About

50

I’m not sayin’.

I’m just sayin’.

* * *

50 Things You Should Probably Think About

If you’re not willing to do it today, you probably won’t do it tomorrow either.

 You’re probably not going to meet the love of your life on Tinder.

Everything is ok when consumed in moderation. Except Red Bull and Pabst Blue Ribbon. And Meth.

Anger solves nothing. Ever.

Disappointment is for children. Not adults. (Kinda like Trix cereal)

 If you can’t be happy while you’re alone, you can’t be happy.

At least once in a while, live like you’re in a Budweiser commercial. Be up for anything.

You’re not finished being a parent until you’re dead.

 If you really, really hate doing something, find something else.

Jealousy isn’t a good look. For anyone.

Being involved in politics takes more than ‘liking‘ something on Facebook.

You can decide whether or not to be offended.

If you vote for the lesser of two evils, you’re still voting for something evil.

Never vomit into a running fan. (Seriously, I saw what you did to my A/C unit)

Wisdom isn’t gained automatically with age.

A good mate should also be a good roommate.

Intelligence is rarely earned in classrooms.

The only one who cares about your complaints is you.

When interviewing a prospective employee, focus on their personality, not their resume.

It’s ok to do the opposite of what the internet says.

Teach your kids how to lose and they’ll figure out for themselves how to win.

Never argue with someone you don’t care about.

Don’t be the one who says, “I never saw that coming.”

It’s ok to be stupid sometimes. We’re all stupid now and then. But it’s never ok to be willfully ignorant.

If everything were fair, life would be boring.

If you see something beautiful on the internet, distrust it.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Boasting is for jackholes. But shit-talking is perfectly acceptable.

Teach your children how to think. Not what to think.

Cornhole shouldn’t be played on hills.

Being passionate isn’t the same as being a loud-mouthed douchebag.

Those who trumpet their sufferings are usually the most deserving.

Follow the Two-Text Rule: If you send two texts to last night’s date and they don’t answer, don’t send another until they reply. In other words, don’t be a stalker.

The cost of convenience: experience

Wedding rings will tarnish. Dresses will fade. Cars will break down. But fake boobs last forever.

Taking things personally gives other people power over you.

Pick just three things in your life to say never to. And never say never regarding anything else.

Nudity is natural. But graphic sensationalist violence is more fun.

When eating noodles, the point is to make as much noise as possible.

The sooner you apologize, the better.

In order to be granted city status, a township must have at least three Mexican restaurants.

No one deserves immediate respect. Everyone has to earn it.

The deepest evil one can do is to manipulate someone else to do evil things.

Try not to play Beer Pong with crappy beer. Use a good craft beer or cider. Or better yet, play Wine Pong.

It’s healthier not to have an opinion.

Three Cokes per day will kill you as surely as one pack of cigarettes per day.

If you’re not the first one to offer help to someone in need, you might as well be the last.

Never refuse an honest gift.

The correct spelling is f-o-o-t-b-a-l-l.

Sometimes the best answer you can give is, “I don’t know.”

* * *

If you’re pissed off now and want to start some arguments, read this.

If you’re into sharp, but friendlier philosophy, check this out.

Oh, and here are 50 MORE things you should probably think about. 🙂

J Edward Neill

Preview – A Door Never Dreamed Of

I’ve begun work on something new.

It’s called A Door Never Dreamed Of.

For the moment, I’ve expelled just about all the dark fiction I can handle.

This new project will be completely different than everything I’ve done before.

  • It’s not an epic novel. Or a short story. Or a philosophy book
  • It’s not part of a series. Just one novella. No spin-offs
  • It’s the book I’ve always wanted to write

Disclaimer: In a serious race against time, I’m trying to finish the first draft of A Door Never Dreamed Of before the NFL football season hits. Once touchdowns start happening and the Chicago Bears start sucking, I’ll be helpless. The local pub with the massive TV will replace my crusty old writing chair. I won’t be able to help myself.

But honestly, I’m cool with the deadline. Because I’m dying to get this story out.

And this is where we fall off the reservation.

If A Door Never Dreamed Of showed up in your local bookstore, you’d probably find it in the Science Fiction section. It’d sit next to books about spaceships, galactic wars, and aliens. You’d look at the awesome Amanda Makepeace cover art and think, ‘Ooooo…spiky space station. Fun!’

JupiterEventTeaser1

A small sliver of the cover art – ‘The Jupiter Event’ by Amanda Makepeace

But genres are limiting. Art is static. And first impressions are usually wrong.

And A Door Never Dreamed Of won’t have space battles, flying spaghetti monsters, or intergalactic alien sex.

So what’s it about?

Two boys who’ve never met

Each given the power to destroy one another

Facing off with all of humanity at stake

With only one little door between them

I truly believe once you read A Door Never Dreamed Of, you’ll come to see things my way. You’ll forget all about genres. You won’t care that it’s a denomination of book you usually wouldn’t read. And what I really hope is that maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a deeper theme at work. You’ll understand where all our modern technology is leading us. You’ll see the scary places we might go if we continue hurtling toward the apex of human advancement. And you’ll shudder for what the future generations of humanity might one day become.

And so…

 Coming in Autumn 2015

A Door Never Dreamed Of

A new novel by J Edward Neill

And seriously, check out Lady Makepeace’s awesome art site. Click around. Buy something.

And when you’re done, check out my terrifying short stories Let the Bodies and The Sleepers.