Little Questions about BIG Things

Six Deadly Sins

 The 7 Deadly Sins are:

Envy

Greed

Sloth

Lust

Gluttony

Pride

Wrath

If you could destroy one of these forever, as in remove it from the consciousness of every human being for all time, which sin would you choose?

*

180 Degrees

 Suppose a man dedicated the first twenty years of his life to being a vicious criminal.

He was a thief, a thug, an arsonist, a kidnapper, and even a murderer.

But then, for the next 50 years, he turned his life around.

He gave millions to charity. He found homes for orphans. He fed the poor. He traveled to war-torn nations and helped innocent people evacuate.

What is the value of this man’s life?

In your eyes, has he found redemption?

*

Generations of Evil

 In certain cultures around the world, different generations are referred to separately.

For example, in America there exist such divisions as Gen-X, Baby Boomers, and The Greatest Generation.

It’s a common theme for older generations to criticize those who are younger, often with cries of, “Kids these days don’t know a damn thing!”

Is it true that previous generations contain people who are wiser, harder working, and more moral?

 Or has every generation that has ever existed contained similar percentages of stupid, lazy, and immoral people?

*

The Conjecture Clock

First, here’s a few interesting measurements of time:

Attosecond – Currently the smallest division of time. Approx 10−18  seconds.

Megasecond – Approx 11.6 days

Galactic Year – The time it takes for the Sun to orbit once around the Milky Way’s center. Approx 230 million years.

Exasecond – Approx 31.7 x 10years. (more than twice the age of the universe.)

Now, the real question:

Does time exist?

Or is it simply a human construct?

When answering, take your time.

*

The Sun will Rise Tomorrow. Won’t It?

 If you can, name three things or phenomena it’s acceptable to believe in without having actual objective proof of that thing or phenomenon’s existence.

*


Did you enjoy these?

Visit here for more.

*



Nemesis vs Prey – 1st Chapter of Lords of the Black Sands

Part 1

Nemesis versus Prey

*

Galen hadn’t meant for everyone to die.

He hunkered in his hole, bobbing his head to the falling rain’s beat.

He tasted the ashes of the dead in the air.

And he knew it was his fault.

If I hadn’t come here, they’d be alive, he thought.

I guess I did them a favor.

Little streams of warm water slid across the broken streets overhead and plunged into his hiding spot. He hated the feel of the rain squelching in his boots, and he grimaced when the foul liquid peppered his hood. He hadn’t been this uncomfortable in weeks, not since the time he’d cut the fingers off a man who’d tried to steal his one and only apple.

My last apple. He shook his head.

Did he have to bleed on it?

Down in the muck and shadows, Galen waited for the rain to snuff the fires. The stench in his pit was already unbearable. Two others had crawled down into the hole with him, but they’d been too slow, and had gagged to death moments later. The poisonous air in the city above had been more than enough to kill them.

He wanted out.

But he knew if he poked his head up too soon, someone was likely to nip it off.

So he waited. Ashes from the burning city mixed with the rain, which in turn plummeted down into his hole, painting his cloak, his weathered pants, and his skin a sickening shade of grey. He didn’t look like a living man anymore.

He looked like death.

I’m the Ash Man, he thought. Can’t catch me if you can’t see me. Can’t kill me if I’m already dead.

He whistled softly to himself, and he couldn’t help but grin. Ash Man sounded like a nickname he might’ve liked. But someone had once told him he wasn’t allowed to give himself nicknames.

Too bad, he thought. Ash Man would be better than Prey.

When the storm was at its strongest and the thunder began to break the sky, he climbed out of his pit. Soggy, his face grey as charcoal, he pulled himself above street level and emerged into the half-light of the ruined day. The shanties and crude brick houses that had made up most of Cedartown lay in crumbled heaps around him. The smoke from human corpses curled into the air despite the rain.

He slithered down a street and ducked behind a pile of smoldering wood beams and bricks blackened by fire. An hour ago, he’d been standing inside a house in the very same spot, conversing with the doctor who’d lived there.

The ashes staining the wall a dozen feet away?

The good doctor’s, he imagined.

At least he finished before he died.

Clutching his cloak around his shoulders, he hunkered in the house’s ruin. The hole in the back of his neck, which the doctor had installed and lovingly termed a ‘skin-port,’ itched worse than his toes inside his rancid boots. But he didn’t dare scratch.

Doc said not to, he recalled. Needs a few hours to heal up. 

He slowed his breathing, just like his mother had taught him. He snapped his eyes shut and listened to the sounds between raindrops, the rolling thunder, and the wind beating against broken walls. Somewhere, maybe a few hundred feet away, another building collapsed. And somewhere else, the rain crackled as it peppered a burning wooden beam.

No. Not those sounds.

The footsteps.

Hear them?

Soundless, still barely breathing, he made a shadow of himself and slipped out of the doctor’s crumbling abode. When he passed the wall onto which the doctor’s ashes had burned a vaguely human shape, he couldn’t help himself. He stuck out his finger and scrawled a ‘G’ in the ash.

It was a stupid thing to do, he reckoned.

But was it?

The ones hunting him would know he’d survived.

They always knew.

He crept into the alley behind the doctor’s house. Some of Cedartown’s houses were still half-standing, and some walls still high enough to provide cover. He moved from ruin to ruin, and he stepped so lightly through puddles black with ash no one would’ve heard him even without the thunder and rain.

Through one house, he moved like the wind. A woman and her child knelt on what he supposed had been the kitchen’s dirt floor. Their bodies were flesh no longer, just sculpted dust soon to be washed away by the rain.

He moved on.

In another shanty whose roof had burned away, he glimpsed an old man half-buried beneath a mound of smoking timbers. The poor creature sucked in short breaths, looking little different than a fish plucked from his bowl and tossed on the floor. But was he really an old man? In this place where no one lived longer than forty years? Or had the bomb aged him, withering the flesh of a much younger man?

It didn’t matter, Galen supposed.

Whoever the man was, he wouldn’t be alive much longer.

And it was a good thing, he reckoned.

He reached Cedartown’s boundary, if such a thing existed in the weary old hamlet. The last few shanty huts, erected in no particular order on the directionless cobblestone streets, had made a noble stand against the bomb’s fury. A few were merely blackened, but not quite felled. One or two looked almost untouched, shielded from the blast by some miracle of physics.

Someone might’ve survived in these houses, he imagined. Someone might still be hidden inside one of the shanties, ticking away the last few minutes of their life.

If it were true, he pitied them.

Wouldn’t be a pretty life here. He crouched beside a house of sticks. It’ll soon be sand. Just like all the rest. 

In the shadows, he waited. The fields beyond the hamlet had ceased burning, and the smoke was no longer black, but pale and wispy. Galen kept his hood close to his cheeks, his neck still itching. If anyone had seen him, they’d have said he was a ghost with ashes for skin, black opals for eyes, and a cloak so weathered it must’ve been ripped from the grave of a corpse twenty years dead.

And if that someone had seen him, gasped in terror, and run screaming into the barren fields, Galen would’ve smiled. He was good at frightening people, and better at being alone.

The foul, humid wind whipped up across the grass. Galen didn’t move. Between flurries of smoke, curtains of rain, and the charnel smells of Cedartown, he hunkered low and listened to the world.

He wasn’t alone.

The Nemesis and his soldiers had come from the east, having followed him from the steel cities near the ocean all the way across the rusted, blackened graveyards dotting the shores of grey-watered lakes. Always, they were the shadow on his back, the knife in the darkness.

And always, he escaped them.

The enemy warrior, clad in scaly black armor, trod through the mud at Cedartown’s edge. He walked alone, Galen knew. Only ten of the Nemesis’ knights had come here, and this one, a beast of muscle and black steel, believed himself unstoppable.

Maybe he was right.

Maybe, in a fair fight, no swordsman in the Kingdom of Earth could outduel the black-armored warrior.

But then, Galen didn’t care for fair fights.

When the black knight clattered to the end of the street and halted at the beginning of the fields beyond, he didn’t know he was being watched.

Two swords, Galen counted.

Two knives.

Other, deadlier weapons.

He’s a pretty one…he is.

It’s a shame.

The wind rose again, and with it Galen moved. Gliding between breezes, he closed the distance between himself and the knight. His only weapon, a knife scavenged from the steel cities of the east, flashed in his hand.

The knight never heard him, never saw him.

And with the wind, Galen floated behind the knight, buried his dagger in the tiny gap between armored plates, and eased the armored titan down into the mud.

Even before Galen helped his limp body to the ground, the knight died. Galen’s dagger, wet with heart’s blood, splashed into a puddle, where the scarlet stain spread through grey water.

“Sorry for that,” Galen whispered into the dead man’s ear. “You lived a good life…better than most of us. I’ll honor you by keeping one of your swords.”

He rolled the dead knight onto his back. It felt funny to him that a man with so many weapons and so much armor could be felled by a simple handmade knife. Shaking his head, he loosed a black-steel dagger from the knight’s waist and sliced the straps crisscrossing the dead man’s chest.

Quite by accident, he glimpsed the knight’s other weapons. They were marked with the Pharaoh’s seal, and were among the deadliest devices ever made. One looked like a wand, short and slender. The other was an obsidian disc polished to a mirror shine.

These, he didn’t touch.

Another day, old friend, he thought.

For now, just your sword.

He tugged one of the knight’s scabbards loose from the straps and pulled the sword halfway out. More than a century ago, he’d had a similar blade—three feet long, ebon steel polish, sharp enough to clip a man’s head from his shoulders without him feeling a thing.

With the dagger and sword, he crouched over the knight and peered back into Cedartown. Fell shapes moved though the city, hunting with weapons drawn. The Nemesis and his men were dressed all in black, and the rain glinted atop their armored shoulders.

“Should’ve paid more attention.” He patted the dead knight on his arm. “Might’ve seen me before you died.”

No, he knew.

Even at his best, he never had a chance.

He sprang to his feet, tucked his new weapons under his armpit, and darted into the field beyond Cedartown. He’d picked right. The grasses here were scorched by fire, but still tall enough to hide him. Like a snake—an animal no one in Cedartown had seen in centuries—he slithered through the grass and vanished.

The Nemesis and his men, even had they looked in his direction, would’ve thought they’d seen nothing more than the wind.

In minutes, Galen stood a full half-mile away. A blackened tree jutted from the dirt, and he leaned against it. His neck itched worse now. He considered ripping the skin-port out, if only to ease his irritation. He would’ve done it, too, had he not spent the last hundred years searching for the right man to install it.

Never said it would itch this much.

Everyone makes out being immortal like it’s a thousand-year party.

From his safe vantage, he watched Cedartown. The Nemesis and his men scoured the ruins like ants hunting for a last drop of sugar. He saw their weapons flare more than once, their sinister lights somehow darker than everything else. They were killing Cedartown’s last survivors, probably more out of frustration than anything else.

They knew.

They hadn’t found his body, and they knew they wouldn’t.

He’d escaped them yet again.

Almost got me, boys. He lifted a rotten apple out of his satchel and took a careless chomp. But now what’ll you do?

The doctor’s dead.

And I’ve got what I came for.

He wished he could’ve seen their faces. Before the sunset, before the starless night reclaimed the ruins of a town in the middle of nothing and nowhere, he wanted to see the frustration in their eyes.

But then, he knew he wouldn’t.

He’d fled twenty generations of the Nemesis’ men.

And if he’d learned one thing in the last five-hundred years, it was that they never took off their masks.


*

Continue the story here. 

He didn’t mean for everyone to die…

Galen hadn’t meant for everyone to die.

He hunkered in his hole, bobbing his head to the falling rain’s beat.

He tasted the ashes of the dead in the air.

And he knew it was his fault.

If I hadn’t come here, they’d be alive. 

I guess I did them a favor.

Little streams of warm water slid across the broken streets over his head and plunged into his hiding spot. He hated the feel of the rain squelching in his boots, and he grimaced when the foul liquid peppered his hood. He hadn’t been this uncomfortable in weeks, not since the time he’d cut the fingers off a man who’d tried to steal his one and only apple.

My last apple. He shook his head.

Did he have to bleed on it?

Down in the muck and shadows, he waited for the rain to snuff the fires. The stench in his pit was unbearable. Two others had crawled down into the hole, but they’d been too slow, and had gagged to death moments later. The poisonous air in the city above had been more than enough to kill them.

He wanted out.

But he knew if he poked his head up too soon, someone was likely to nip it off…

*

*

Think Galen will lose his head?

Find out here.

 

 

Lords of the Black Sands – The Apocalypse is Now!

For centuries, Galen has fled from the Pharaoh and his immortal servant, the Nemesis.

Not any more.

Across the desolate wasteland of the ruined Kingdom of Earth, Galen marches toward his only chance at freedom.

Only he can live forever.

Only he can defeat the Lords of the Black Sands.

 

Kickass Kickstarter – 47 Furious Tails

47 FURIOUS TAILS, ISSUE ONE live on KickStarter


January 23rd, 2019 – Writer W.S. Quinton and artist Alexia Veldhuisen brought their vision of the samurai epic to KickStarter in a bold way. This new comic book, 47 Furious Tails Issue One, is the first in a twelve-issue limited series that tells the classic story of the 47 Ronin in brilliantly-illustrated comic book pages.

In issue one, readers are introduced to key actors in this historic legend as Asano Naganori prepares to leave Ako for his fateful, final trip to Edo.
Based on historic and literary accounts, 47 Furious Tails portrays the characters from this classic tale as anthropomorphic animals, making each character beautifully unique.

Issue one immerses the reader in the lives of these famous samurai as they carry on with their lives before the coming of events that would transform them into legends. Witness as Asano Naganori meets with his loyal Oishi Yoshio, and behold the prowess of the elder samurai Horibe Yahei and the young Oishi Chikara as they defend Ako from fierce bandits.

Fantastic art, devotion to duty and fierce samurai action await the reader, in 47 Furious Tails.

Discover 47 Furious Tails, Issue One right here: KickStarter: http://kck.st/2RchurL

*

Sinopa Publishing LLC is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Kentucky
*
47 Furious Tails is a trademark of Sinopa Publishing and is Copyright © 2017 by W.S. Quinton
*
All rights reserved

Five Artists You Absolutely NEED to Follow

Tessera Guild Artist Spotlight Presents:

 

Five Artists You Absolutely NEED to Follow


*

*

Rachel Quinlan


Rachel Quinlan is an award-winning fantasy artist based in Saint Clair Shores, Michigan. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2001 with a B.F.A. in Studio Art.  Working primarily in ink and watercolor, she attempts to emulate techniques that were commonly used by illustrators of the Golden Age.  Inspired by nature, folk tales, and mythology, she hopes to create images that are magical, immersive and mysterious.

Some of Rachel’s gorgeous art, including her pieces ‘Wise One’ ‘Tiny Hoard’ ‘Fisherman’ ‘Cailleach’ and ‘Ascend.’

All images – copyright Rachel Quinlan

*

Rachel will display her wondrous art at several shows in 2019, including:

Motor City Comic Con

May 17 – May 19
Novi, MI
https://www.motorcitycomiccon.com/

*

Illuxcon

October 23 – 27
Reading, PA
http://www.illuxcon.com/

*

You NEED to check out more of Rachel’s work right here: www.rachelquinlan.com

And make sure to follow her at Twitter (@RachelQuinlan) Instagram (rachelquinlanart) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rachelquinlanart)


*

Anthony Ojeda


Anthony Ojeda is an illustrator and storyboard artist. He’s originally from New Jersey, but is currently based out of Los Angeles. (He says the winters are brutal in L.A., but we at Tessera Guild don’t quite believe him.)

Besides creating awesome art, Anthony loves to cook, travel, and enjoy fancy whiskey.

Check out these kickass creations by Anthony:

All images copyright Anthony Ojeda

*

What you NEED to do right now is click HERE to go to Anthony’s friggin’ awesome website, especially to view his portfolio.
And then follow Anthony on Instagram: _Tonyojeda
*
Some of Anthony’s latest projects include:
– Death Comes to Glenfallow w/ Sinopa Publishing
– Various Storyboard positions w/ GoDaddy, FreenJoy, and JunctionProductions
  – Production work- stage design, concept art, etc.

*

Alexia Veldhuisen


 

Alexia Veldhuisen was born and raised in Amsterdam. For many years she worked at Gojoker Strips & Comics, a well-known comic shop.
Pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a comic book artist, Alexia moved to the US, where she graduated from world-renowned comic book program, The Kubert School. Alexia was awarded the Dave Simons Memorial Scholarship for her achievements in inking.

Next to comic art, traditional painting, and digital art, she enjoys coffee, video games and “normal” books.
She dreams of telling her own stories and secretly being a master samurai.

Some of Alexia’s art, including several pieces illustrated for Sinopa Publishing:

All images copyright Alexia Veldhuisen

*

Presently Alexia is the artist illustrating, coloring, and lettering the comic book ’47 Furious Tails.’ She is also contracted as the editor for the 2019 ‘Sinopa Assemble!’ project, a creator-owned comic book anthology.  Alexia has previously contributed art to the RPG adventure book, “Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock” in which she produced truly stunning work.

 

You NEED to follow Alexia on Facebook HERE.
…and at ArtStation.com, right HERE.

And definitely at her epic Instagram.


*

Laura Potter


Laura Potter is an abstract artist who paints from pure emotion. 

She began painting 10 years ago to help express emotions, and found it to be the perfect way to do that. 

When doing commissions, she listens to her clients’ needs carefully to be sure to capture the right image and colors. 

Most recently she collaborated with a musician to produce a CD cover for a winter-themed album.

Take in a few of Laura’s amazing and colorful abstract creations:

All images copyright Laura Potter

*

You NEED to chase Laura down at Facebook LinkedIn AND Twitter 
And ABSOLUTELY at her website, right HERE.

 



Corey Carter is the designer and owner of Ocean Inspired Design. Her love for shelling and art led her to open a coastal-themed Etsy shop where fellow ocean lovers can find handcrafted seashell home decor and unique gifts.

When Corey isn’t gluing seashells on everything she can get her hands on, she enjoys writing, reading, wine, imagination, music, and terrible dancing.

Check out Corey’s crazy-awesome shelltastic designs:

All images copyright Corey Schultz Carter

*

What’s new for Corey in 2019?

She’s going BIG with mirrors! Many of her clients inquire about custom seashell mirrors, and so she’ll be making larger designs than ever before. Seashell mirrors require a lot of time and attention, but the end result is stunning!

Cover your house in shells by visiting OceanInspiredDesign on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/OceanInspiredDesign

And you have simply got to follow Corey’s latest creations on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oceaninspireddesign/


*

Are you an artist?

Do you know any awesome artists?

Invite them to take part in Tessera Guild’s next artist spotlight! Simply go here! 

 

Music Lives in Moments

What are the songs which mean the most to you?

The ones to which you bob your head while listening to a random radio station in traffic?

Or the song you listened to on repeat during your last breakup?

Which album is your favorite?

The one you downloaded on iTunes because your friend told you it was the new hotness?

Or the sleek vinyl record you discovered in a run-down music shop after months of searching?

I can’t speak for you. But the answer feels obvious.

The music we love most is tied to our most powerful life experiences.

*I remember:

I was thirteen-years old. I lived with my grandparents and their youngest daughter, my Aunt Patty. Every day when I came home from school (I usually walked through a giant cornfield to get there) the house was empty except for me and Patty. Little did my grandparents know, the house would also be full of music. Patty liked to jam, you see, and she liked to jam loud.  I remember walking in the back door (I never used the front door…because really, who does?) and immediately begin to vibrate to the sounds of late 80’s melancholy music. At the time, the sacredness of those moments didn’t register in my mind. All I knew was that I felt suddenly alive, free to shut down all the stresses of the day, free to lose myself in the music.

I didn’t even know the bands’ names at the time. I didn’t care.

But to this day, I can still picture myself walking through the back door.

And if I close my eyes, I can still hear Depeche Mode thrumming in my head.

*

I remember:

I was sixteen-years old. I lived in the deep south with my father. Because he worked two, sometimes even three jobs, I almost never saw the man. Essentially I lived alone, pretty much the freest teenager in the entire world. During those hot, humid, lonely nights, I didn’t have much to do. We were poor. I didn’t have many friends, and the few I did have lived miles away in their normal, secure households. I didn’t watch TV, and my video game system (the original NES, what else?) sat unused in my grandparents’ house seven-hundred miles away.

But the one thing we did have?

A killer sound system. Doubtless the best in the neighborhood, possibly the whole city.

And during the long afternoons and even longer nights, while I sat in the shadows, reading pulpy fantasy books, contemplating the smallness of myself, I listened to music at all times. Loud music. Powerful heavy metal music. Slayer. Danzig. Metallica. And a hundred other bands whose guttural roars and swollen guitar riffs filled my little house…and more than once brought the police to the door.

To this day, I remember every lyric of every one of those albums. They were my salvation in many ways. With them, my isolation became bearable.

*

I remember:

I was a little boy. Exactly how old, I can’t really recall Living part-time with my father and part-time with my grandparents, my life was always in flux. But what did I know? Everyone seemed to love me…or at least tolerate me. I suppose maybe I was a pretty obnoxious little guy. Somehow both spoiled and ignored. Loud but quiet. Affable, yet prone to bouts of running outside and not coming back inside until well after dark. Oh, how the mosquitoes loved me.

But sometimes, on certain weekend nights, when the mood was right and everyone in my grandparents’ house was getting along (our house was really, really small, you see) my grandfather would turn off the TV, set aside his bourbon, and pop a few vinyls on the record player. And suddenly the walls came alive with the sounds of Frank Sinatra, crooning Summer Wind or my personal favorite (to this day) One More for my Baby (And One More for the Road.) And then maybe he’d play some old, soft Elvis, to which I’d often drift asleep on the couch.

But while I was awake, I would dance. Me, the guy who hasn’t ever danced in his adult life, bouncing around the living room. And those were happy moments, just me, my loved ones, and the music.

My grandparents are gone now, but they’re alive and well in my heart.

And the moments I can see clearest?

Our warm, musical nights.

*

I remember:

I was seventeen, cruising down the road with my very first girlfriend. The hour was late, and we were headed to a lakeside cabin way out in the countryside. During the long, long drive on dark roads, while the trees watched over us and the white lines on the highway sped past, we listened to the same album over and over again.

We didn’t talk. We just listened. And it was perfect.

I’m sure the girl has long forgotten the album. Actually, I’m sure the girl has forgotten me.

But I remember that night. How could I forget? It was the music, you see. It’s forever wrapped up in a memory that warm summer night.

*

I remember:

Driving away from home (for the last time) to the sounds of Phil Collins.

Drowning my sorrows after a breakup in a dark basement to the booming dirges of Type O Negative.

Journeying out to the countryside while totally absorbed in Hans Zimmer instrumentals.

Soaring up to Chicago listening to silly, mid-90’s hip-hop.

Painting on Friday nights until 3AM to the slow, serene ballads of Olafur Arnalds.

*

All of these, I won’t forget.

**

Plenty of music crosses our paths between the rarest and most memorable instants of our lives. Songs, albums, and artists, perfectly good, drift into our consciousness while we’re driving to work, eating dinners out on the town, or wandering through shopping malls in search of stuff to buy. Some of the music is great, and some really, really bad. But somehow, most of what we remember arises not from these casual, everyday moments, but from the times in our lives when we needed it. When we were ready for it. When the timing was perfect and the moments couldn’t have been what they were without an accompanying soundtrack.

Chances are, you’re a lot like me.

Your favorite music is tied to places, people, moments, and feelings.

The smash new single by ________ isn’t what you remember five years down the road.

The unexpected song by the artist you didn’t know…timed just right…that’s the one that sticks with you.

Because music lives in moments.

He Awoke at Dusk

He awoke at dusk.

His first breaths were more dirt than air.

He knew only the sound of the wind twisting through leafless branches.

…and of a woman’s voice roaming through his ears.

He couldn’t see her, not yet, but he felt her presence. She was near, perhaps standing above him, a slender black shape against a backdrop of nothing. The shadows in her eyes were grey and gauzy, and the evening’s light nothing more than spears of silver against the growing dark.

He blinked, but the shadows would not depart.

He tried to speak, to whisper, or even to croak a few clumsy sounds.

Nothing. His voice had not returned.

It was the woman who spoke first, but not to him, nor to anyone. He knew even without seeing that he was alone with her.

Out in the cold.

In a forest.

How did I come to this place?

He could not remember.

“Should’ve waited ‘til spring, you know?” The woman was farther away now, and speaking to herself. “Fingers raw from dirt half-frozen. Shovel full of splinters. Look at these hands. They look like farmer’s hands now. What would mother say?”

She said more, but he heard little. The wind picked up, and with a shiver he realized he was naked. Lying on the ground, half-buried in frosted loam, his helplessness confounded him. Why would he fall asleep in such a state? Why was he half-blind, mute, and smothered with the sense he’d only just been born?

He couldn’t even remember his name.

The woman’s shadow returned. He couldn’t see her face, not quite, but he glimpsed something in her left hand. It looked like a stick, straight and black, sharper than any sword in the world. The woman’s hair hung long over her shadowed face, and he knew it was raven. She, in fact, was raven. Everything about her looked and felt dark.

Or is it just my eyes?

Why won’t they work?

“Well?” The girl squatted over him. “Can you hear me?”

Somehow, he managed a subtle nod of his head.

“You’re cold, right?” she said without real concern. “See? I knew I should’ve done this next spring. I’ve woken you up, and you’re likely to die again by the time the sun goes down. It’s okay. If you do, I’ll just bring you back again. This stick is pretty useful. It fell from the moon, did you know?”

He groaned. Finally, a sound. The woman shifted on her knees, and he swore he caught a glimpse of her eyes.

Dark. Like her hair.

And…

Is she beautiful?

The woman rose, walked away, and returned with something else in her hands. She draped the dark thing over his body—a blanket, he realized. It did nothing to drive off the chill in his bones.

“You can’t talk yet.” She hovered over him again. “Don’t worry. It’ll pass, I think. It had better, else you’re no good to me. What good’s a warrior who’s blind?”

A warrior?

Am I?

Or…was I?

“Right now you’re wondering who I am and why I’ve pulled your bones out of the dirt,” she continued. “That’s all well and good. Mother said after all this time you might not even remember your life, who you were, the things you did. That’s fine, too. In time, it’ll come back to you. It’s been about six centuries, so really…you should feel lucky I was able to find what was left of you. Did you know you died here? Do you remember how?”

He shook his head. The world beyond the woman came in and out of focus. The night was nearly upon him, and the sky colored with violet clouds and black tree branches.

“I’d warm you.” She leaned closer. Her dark curls touched his blanket, and her lips made the shape of something not quite a smile. “But my magic, you see, isn’t not really for warming. Or helping. That’s not how magic works, you know? It’s all pretty dark stuff. I wanted to believe otherwise as a little girl, but Mother showed me.”

“Your moth…your mother?” he stammered.

“Oh good, you can talk.” Her not-quite-a-smile broadened. “It’s not much, but it’s a start. And yes, my mother. She’s dead, you see. So very dead.”

She stood up again and walked away. He heard the clatter of things: sticks, something made of cloth, the sound of water sloshing inside a waterskin. He wanted to focus, to remember, but every small noise washed over him as though he were hearing them for the very first time.

When she returned, she began building something around him. She produced a mallet from her satchel and began pounding long stakes into the dirt, all the while cursing the soil’s hardness. Afterward, she unfurled a great dark canvas and stretched it between the stakes.

A tent, he realized. She’s protecting me from the cold.

Darkness claimed the forest. The pale spaces in the sky, swallowed up by shadows, fled from his eyes. She pulled the tent’s canvas tight, and even the black branches vanished.

…just as my eyes were adjusting.   

Finished with her work, she sat between his feet. He saw only the shape of her shoulders. All else was midnight.

“There now,” she said. “You’re all set. Normally, I’d turn us to shadow and fly all the way home. But…you’re too fresh. The flight might kill you, and really, the ritual to bring you back is more than a little tedious. And also…well…I guess it’s time to let you know—I don’t have a home anymore. They burned it down. I guess I could’ve killed them all, but all it takes is one lucky arrow, and there’d be no more me. You’ll come to learn the world needs me, just as it needs you, my friend.”

“Name?” he managed to say. “Your…name?”

“Mine?” she said. “No. You’re not ready for that. Rest now. Rest, and try to remember your own name. You’ll need it before long. You’ll need everyone to know it. Because…how can the world be afraid of you if you don’t even have a name?”

With that, she left him. The tent flap fell shut, and the woman swept away into the night. Again, she said things to herself.

Quiet things.

Unknowable things.

But he did hear another sound.

The night breaking. The wind rising. And whispers between the trees that were something other than human.

* * *

*

This excerpt is from an as-of-yet untitled piece.

It was to be the very first chapter in a co-authored fantasy novel.

But the idea was shelved, and my co-author turned to other projects.

So now I’m curious…

…should I write this book alone?

…or should I leave this one in the dark?

*

J Edward Neill

 

Deadly New Cover Art – Lys & the Heart Stopper

Imprisoned as a little girl, Lys awakens in the world’s lowest prison. She’s to become a concubine to a faceless noble in a land far from her native home.

But when fate intervenes, she seizes her only chance at freedom. To save her long lost caretaker, she means to cross the wasteland of Vhur, in which the diseased Iritul have hunted humanity near to extinction.

No distance is too great.

She’ll do anything to rescue her friend.

Even if it means a confrontation with the deadliest human alive – The Heart Stopper.

50 Observations of Humanity


*

Fifty Observations of Humanity


When people create more than they consume, things tend to work out.

In twenty years it’s possible ALL government will take place via Twitter.

99% of texted ‘lols’ are a lie.

Speed limits are also a lie. Until they’re not.

Hard work almost always trumps raw talent, except in the dating scene.

There’s probably a biological reason nice guys always finish last.

Success can often be measured by the number of trolls one accumulates.

Combined, humans have spent billions of years sitting in front of televisions.

Home isn’t a place. It’s a state of mind.

Don’t SAY you’re sorry. BE sorry. It’s better in the long run.

Complaining about other people’s generation (be they older or younger) is a useless gesture.

Complaining about anything on the internet is also useless.

…unless you post the complaint to Yelp.

…and Amazon.

The ideal length of time to carry a grudge is thirty seconds.

If you haven’t yet been ghosted, you’re in the minority.

The difference between country music and heavy metal is one fret and a few fashion choices.

You can’t count on Karma to bring your enemies to justice.

…but you can probably count on your personal misdeeds to come back to you one way or another.

Paid dating sites don’t really want you to find love. Think about it.

You don’t know most of the people on your Facebook page.

…and they certainly don’t know you.

At any given moment, 50% of the modern world is looking at their phone.

Chasing looks over personality usually ends the same way every time.

It’s easier for cat owners to take vacations than dog owners.

But far easier to land a date with a puppy than a kitten.

The worst kind of judgments are ALL of them.

Almost everyone is special to someone, but no one is special to everyone.

Most of us want the same things out of our lives (peace, love, dinner) and yet we start new battles every day.

Dogs’ greatest wish is to ride in cars with open windows – we should all be so lucky.

People’s favorite songs are usually entangled with people’s favorite memories.

If Google Maps went down tomorrow, 80% of modern society would forever wander the earth.

 Nintendo has made a massive fortune re-publishing the same five video games for thirty years.

Taking other people’s word for things is like playing Russian Roulette. If it’s so important, find out the truth for yourself.

Losing sucks, but it’s also highly educational.

The worst lie to tell is one told to oneself.

Everything is derivative, and it’s okay.

No one owes you anything. Not your spouse. Not the person you’re dating. Not your kids. Not your parents. Not the government. No one. Remember this, and be free.

…ok…well…you might owe the bank something. But that’s a different matter.

Morality is a useful, yet completely subjective concept.

The most powerful weapon in the battle for a happy life is the word, ‘No.’

It’s probable the only people who will forever love you are your children and your grandmother.

Vengeance usually injures the vengeful more than the target.

Based on the number of people who announce they’re quitting social media only to return the very next day, social media is harder to give up than cigarettes.

…meaning someone should probably make a new drug to help people kick the habit.

…and they should call this drug Cantclix.

The surest destroyer of happiness is insecurity.

…and the surest destroyer of red wine is refrigeration.

Complaining about the state of society from the comfort of a couch is pointless.

1,000 years ago you probably would’ve been dead at your age. Enjoy stuff while you can.

 

* * *

Fifty observations aren’t nearly enough.

Here’s 101 more.

My Drawing Progression – 1994-2018

I used to draw. A lot. In high school, I fancied myself an amateur artist, and away I went, sketching girls, monsters, and fantasy settings.

My work was juvenile. Unpracticed. Untrained.

But still a lot of fun.

Most of these are drawings I doodled between 1994-1995. Mostly while in school…while I should’ve been studying. I still have the originals in my house.

A tower in the woods. I drew this one during a loooooooooong math class.

Knight on horse. I really could’ve used a better reference photo of the horse. I just kinda BS’d it.

Demon guy. 20 years later, he became the basis for the antagonist in my fantasy book series. Here, he just kinda sucks.

Every teenage boy likes to draw boobs, right? This drawing might’ve been competent had I not given her spheres instead of actual breasts.

Same girl. Different angle. I like the mug. And the knife.

He’s mildly ok. The background is pretty boring. His necklace should probably be beneath his sleeves…realistically speaking.


Fast forward 20 years…

After a long layoff, during which I played too many video games, airbrushed cheesy T shirts, and pretended to be an author, I started drawing again. But this time I tried to take things more seriously. I wasn’t just avoiding homework or ignoring math class. I began doodling as a passion, not just to pass the time.

I used grids to help me get back in the feel of drawing faces. For this girl, I almost left her as-is. She looks pretty intense, right?

 

Changed my mind. Finished her. Added some blue.

She probably needs a sandwich. But I like the feel of her pose. And the grass she’s sitting in.

Now look what you did. You pissed her off. Smooth move.

More grid work to help with her mouth and eyes. She’s the heroine in my fantasy novel series. You’d be serious, too…if you were in her shoes.

An intense warrior woman. For no reason other than I felt like it. Look at her shoulders. She’s pretty much ripped.

I decided to step things up and invest in a few quality tools. Charcoal sticks, high-quality pencils, blending tools, powdered graphite…

…and with the powdered graphite, I went nuts. This fearsome girl stands five feet tall on a giant canvas.


Callista – She’s turning into pixels!

*

Dreaming of Vengeance – A sad, sad girl with a crown of thorns. She’ll have her day. You just watch…

*

Strigoi – This guy later became a huge painting…and the primary villain in a sci-fi trilogy.

*

Beauty & the Blade – She thought she couldn’t die, so she pierced herself. Turns out she’s mortal…

*

Chosen by Shadow – Now we’re talking. This drawing is 12 square feet large. Big, big, big. For most of my paintings, I don’t pre-draw all the elements. But for Chosen by Shadow, I did.

*

Satyria – Yep. You guessed it. I like girls with demon horns. Whatever.

*

And now it’s time to step away from simply drawing faces. Full bodies. More expression. Abstract elements paired with realism. Also…no underwear.

Pyramid Goddess – 2019

*

Fallen – 2019

*

Devoid – 2019. Notice the lack of expression is sometimes as powerful as a vivid expression.

*

Necromancia. She began as a deep black graphite/charcoal pencil piece. I later splashed a few acrylic paints in for the bone color.

*

*


I hope you enjoyed this little sketch timeline. I’m trying to get a little better with each piece I create. And a little darker, too.

Catch you later.

J Edward Neill

An Artist Nerd Dad’s Christmas Wish List

Grown-ups aren’t supposed to make Christmas lists…

…right?

Having hit middle-age, being a single dad, having a house already stuffed full of Legos, action figures, and foam swords, I’m not sure I could fit anything new between my bachelor pad’s four little walls.

But a guy can dream.

And so I shall…

Behold…

A Christmas List for a Nerd-Geek-Jock-Artsy-Fartsy Dad Guy


 

 

A new Alienware Desktop Computer

My gaming days (at least my PC gaming days) are long, long dead. That said, I use my computer daily, hourly, by the minute. And to maximize time, I need max efficiency paired with high-rez graphics to support my work. My current computer is…ohhhh…roughly twelve years old. It still works, but it’s slow and clunky.

Gosh…sure would be nice to unbox this baby on Christmas morning.

To sleep…perchance to dream.

 

 

 

*

 

An Art Table fit for the Gods

Anymore, all I do is draw, draw, draw, and paint, paint, paint. I hunch over my kitchen counter for hours (sometimes days) on end, creating whatever comes to mind.

And ohhhhhhhhhh, my aching back. My strained neck. My forty-something bones.

An artist needs an art table. Preferably something adjustable. Preferably not two wooden crates stacked atop one another.

Santa, please?

 

*

A Bose Bluetooth Speaker System

At my house, we don’t watch TV. Ever. No cable. No satellite. No sitcoms.

What do we do to fill the void? Music. At all times.

Now…I love my itty bitty Bluetooth sound box, but it’s a decade old and made for a much smaller space. It lacks the power to pump out heavy metal and the mid-range sharpness to make melancholy cello solos flow through the house.

This should probably be the top item on my list to Santa. Music is my god, and I’d like to worship harder.

*

 

Canon Eos Rebel T6 Camera

What’s the hardest part of being an artist? Is it learning to draw hands? Mastering the human eye? Blending abstract and realistic elements to create the perfect painting?

Nope. It’s photographing the art afterward.

I’m exaggerating, of course, but only a little. My greatest art struggles begin after a painting is finished. Seems my little compact camera never quite does the job of snapping a decent picture without subtle flaws.

Maybe I’m a crappy photographer. (Ok, probably.)  But I figure an awesome camera could only help the situation.

*

 

A Case of Balvenie Scotch

Anyone who knows me knows I might have a little problem.

Anyways, artists (and dads) require lubrication now and then. Balvenie scotch is just the thing. It hits the spot without dulling the wits, and comes in a variety of flavors. With one or two glasses, the day’s worries melt away and the paint flows freely.

All I ask is that Santa mix it up and surprise me.

Also that he includes a set of these. And a whiskey cabinet made by these guys.

Thanks, Santa. It’s not too much to ask, is it?

*

A Viking Sword

Because…ummmmmm…

I need it for research?

As a painting reference?

To keep my unruly fan-base out of my yard?

Whatever. It looks cool. And it’s real. And it could join the other swords on my already cluttered wall.

*

*

*

*

*

 

 

Klask – the Magnetic Board Game

Rather than asking me to explain, just check it out here. 

Looks cool, right?

I’ll also need a friend with which to play. It’d be best if the friend wasn’t gift-wrapped.

*

*

*

*

Giant Stretched Canvasses

Small paintings are nice. Medium paintings are neat-o.

But I want BIG. I want to paint gods and goddesses so huge they eat the room in which they hang.

These are hard to find, and Santa will probably be challenged to fit them down the chimney (might want to use the garage.)

Whatever. I don’t just want these. I need them.

Thanks.

*

A Trip to the H.R. Giger Museum in Switzerland

Where better to worship the gods than in Valhalla?

Ok, so it’s not in Norway, but it’s still home to my favorite artist of all time.

Just look at this room and tell me you don’t want to sleep there.

Right?

RIGHT?

Who’s coming with me?

 

Stocking Stuffers

A Viking Long Table 

At least 17 of these hoodies. (Because it gets cold in winter writing dark fantasy novels.)

Two sets of these things.

A Playstation 4 Pro (I’m still playing my ancient XBox 360.)

My Facebook feed to suddenly become politics-free.

 

Until next time,

J Edward Neill

Author, Artist, & Dad

 

 

A Southern Boy Returns to the Midwest

On a blustery Tuesday morning late in November, not moments after the sun peeked over the Atlanta skyline, my seven-year old son and I hopped in the truck…

…and began our long voyage to northern Illinois.

The November chill had already conquered much of the southeast. The still-green leaves in Atlanta belied the fact temperatures had already scraped the bottom of the low-30’s barrel just one night earlier. Ill-prepared citizens hurried in hoodies and cargo shorts into their cars. Everyone had expected the usual late-year heatwave to hit.

And yet…

No such luck.

It didn’t much matter to me and the G Man. With a fistful of snacks and a fully-charged Nintendo Switch, my son climbed in the backseat, buried his knees beneath a winter blanket, and settled in for the long haul without complaint. His was the best spot from which to enjoy a road-trip, and he knew it. As for me, I began our little adventure steeping in the fumes of two hours’ sleep, no dinner the night before, and a headache straight out of Hades.

No matter. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

And so we began.

Like a stone shot from a cannon, we tore up the highway.

We were flying, making great time towards…

…a huge traffic wreck just ten minutes removed from our starting point.

“Dad, what’s that?” the G Man looked up from his game.

“An upside-down tractor-trailer on fire beneath a bridge.” I stared at the awful accident.

“Oh. Neat.” G Man returned to playing Mega Man 11 (or 11-million, whichever.)

Well. I figured if he could be nonchalant about spending the next hour sitting in a huge traffic jam, so could I.

Traffic cleared. Cars moved. And after a long wait, again we flew.

  • Toward Chattanooga, TN, home of the best aquarium in the south (sorry, Atlanta.)
  • Toward Nashville, in whose Cracker Barrel my son proudly declared his disdain for country music
  • Toward Louisville, whose skyline looked stunning in the crispy cold sunset
  • In the dark toward Indianapolis, where the highways have no apparent traffic during rush hour
  • Up the dark roads to Chicago, whose mighty towers were invisible behind the high walls of Hwy 80
  • And finally to a little country town known as Minooka, only about ten minutes away from the very spot I was born

Twelve hours, we drove. Two pit stops. Two gas refills. One bag of Twizzlers. A giant orange Fanta. Thousands of slow cars passed in the pitch-black of the Indiana expressways.

And there we slept, in a neat, new Hampton Inn tucked away in the modest commercial heart of Minooka, IL.

Side-note: it’s only fair to mention that while I had mighty plans for the G Man and I to collide with family, friends, and entirely too much Thanksgiving food, I actually had a secret side-agenda in mind upon traveling to the north. We’ll get to that later. (This is what we call ‘a tease.’)

Day 1 Begins…

The G Man and I awoke late in the morning, feeling almost jet-lagged by the long drive. Sure, we’d gained an hour by crossing into the Central Time Zone, but who knew how exhausting sitting in the car for seven-hundred fifty miles would make us? A little spacey, a lot hungry, we jetted over to meet our much-beloved Aunt Patty for breakfast at a little diner known as The Crispy Waffle.

Ah, Aunt Patty. My favorite person in the-

But wait. What’s this? As we set off into the morning, it hit me. We weren’t in the south any longer. No, it wasn’t particularly cold. No, the wind wasn’t as vicious as we’d expected. It was something else entirely. It was the sky, slate grey forever in each direction. It was the stillness of everything, the endless fallow cornfields, the trees looking far more brittle than any southern boy could comprehend. It was…home. In the town in which I grew up (Joliet, a few minutes southwest of Chicago) entire autumns and winters passed in this cold, grey atmosphere. I took one skyward glance on our first morning, and I remembered.

At night in the Midwest, you can gaze across the fields and see lights from houses many miles away.

During late autumn afternoons, the world always feels five minutes from dusk. Whether it’s 1PM or 5PM, twilight is just around the corner.

And sometimes, if you step outside alone at night, you hear nothing. Not the wind. Nor a stray cricket. Nor the everlasting rustles of southern wildlife. You hear nothing. It’s both eerie and invigorating.

Minooka in winter. Actually, everywhere in Illinois in winter.

So…The Crispy Waffle. Five-thousand pancakes. Two-billion strips of bacon. Many hugs with Aunt Patty. It was G Man’s first encounter with this part of our family, and his usual shyness was absent. Our first reunion…a success. Aunts are wonderful creatures to be loved and cherished. And Aunts named Patty? Solid. Friggin’. Gold.

Our first afternoon, with bellies full of food, we drove through the cold. It seemed to get colder as the day aged. The wind picked up and the clouds gathered into great grey masses. Every moment we spent outside, I continued to recall the long days of my youth. I went back in time, so to speak.

But wait…where was I?

Oh…right.

After our pleasant-to-the-bone breakfast, the G Man and I treated ourselves to a movie – Ralph Breaks the Internet. To be fair, it wasn’t as epic as the original. But somehow, watching a movie with a laughing, smiling seven-year old makes ALL movies good. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Despite the near-freezing temps, we next visited a park. We were the only ones outside. Absolutely, the only souls in sight. Another silent moment hit us. Even Garrett felt it, standing there in the soundless dirt, hiding from me atop a four-story high slide…he knew it. I saw him understand the difference between Atlanta and Chicago.

Cool.

We left the park behind. And next came a truly heart-rending experience. See, not far from yon park lay a street – Lilac Lane. And it’s there on Lilac Lane I had once (thirty-five years ago) spent the most glorious days of my youth. I could write whole volumes of my love for that little street. (If you really want to read about it, go here.) I just had to take G Man for a drive-by, however brief, and look upon the house between whose walls I lived for many a perfect season. We drove slowly up Lilac Lane and crawled to a stop not twenty feet from the driveway I’d run up and down a thousand times.

But…

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stop and get out to look at the house. I couldn’t look upon it for longer than one fleeting moment. The G Man must’ve wondered what was wrong when I tapped the gas pedal and announced we were going back to the hotel ‘for a break.’ It was a moment…and then it was gone.

I can’t say more about that part of the trip except to note the house on Lilac Lane was once my grandparents’, both of whom are gone now, and both of whom I loved to pieces. It was a hard thing to do, stopping by for a look, and most unexpectedly it hurt.

So then…

Our first night was quite a bit less somber than the afternoon. We headed to an old, old friend’s house, the best of friends, and we sipped scotch, ate Italian food, and sat before a sizzling fireplace. At one point, my friend’s wife snatched up a glass of unattended (and powerful) 14-year scotch, and simply destroyed it. The world felt right.

And yes…it was good to be among friends again.

Day 2…

The plan was simple: Wake up late. Eat no breakfast. Head to Aunt Patty’s house for about ten hours of football, whiskey, laughter, and food.

And boy did we live it up. Despite the G Man waking up a bit groggy, we headed once more across the grey-shrouded lands and arrived at a house I hadn’t set foot in for decades. The G Man arrived to a box full of gifts (because that’s what family does to kids – spoil them) and I arrived to such hospitality I’d rarely experienced.

Scotch (which I love)

Mounds of turkey, dressing, buttered peas, ham-stuffed biscuits, pies, cakes, cranberry sauce…

Let’s be honest. Day 2 was a blur from which our stomachs will likely never quite recover. We were again reminded what it’s like to be among family. And while some families may war and bicker, on this day ours was at peace.

…except for that one time my uncle sucker punched me in the back of the head.

But whatever.

Day 3…

We knew as we awoke this would be our final day in the north.

And so we knew we had to enjoy it.

And yet…as I awoke, something felt off. See, long before hatching the plan to come north, I’d been thinking of a way to encounter…a girl.

Yes. A girl. My secret reason for driving so far in the cold.

A girl from the north.

A girl who happened to live in Minooka…not five minutes from our hotel.

I hadn’t told the G Man. In fact, I hadn’t told anyone. It was a long-shot from the beginning, a heart-achy plan half-baked over the course of what felt like centuries.

So…

Even as I dressed for our third night of trouble-making, I must’ve looked distracted. Torn. Absent from thought. And yet, it so happened my plans to collide with the heartache-inducing lady completely collapsed. Died on the vine. She either didn’t want to see me…or couldn’t. This is how it went, how it always goes, and how I knew all along it would go.

But as I stood there in the hotel room, padding myself in clothes to ward off the increasing feel of Midwestern cold, I made a choice:

Have fun tonight. It’s your last night here. Be present. 

And for the most part, I was.

Another Midwestern field. Wintered trees. Dry, brittle grass. Grey clouds in every direction.

And so, in a rare mood, we drove out to another friends’ house. It was a short journey, only minutes from our hotel.

A log cabin surrounded by fields.

A warm living room filled with laughter, bottles of wine (and juice boxes for the kids.)

Several friends I hadn’t seen in eons.

What a night it was. The finest fried chicken chef in the north stood not ten feet away, preparing buckets of chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, rolls…and more. Someone kept topping off my wine. Someone else brought me a shot of bourbon…and delivered unto the G Man a fistful of sweets.

I ate more food than I’d ever eaten in one sitting. Afterward, with a beard tainted by pumpkin pie, I visited my friend’s father’s workshop. I discussed heartbreak with the ladies. I topped off one final glass of wine. And I distributed a few small gifts to the warmest crowd the world has ever known.

Sometimes, home isn’t home because of the place. It’s the people. And for one night, I thought nothing of grey skies, fallow fields, and daydreams of romance. I sat among my life’s best companions and remembered for one small moment what it felt like to be loved.

Day 4…the trip home…

We woke early. Too early. We wanted to drive fast and make it home in time for relaxation.

And so we did, blazing back down to the south using the exact same roads we’d used just a few days earlier.

We saw giant wind farms. Empty stretches of nothing. Old barns. Older churches. And cows…lots of cows.

Notes of our return trip:

In the Deep South, especially southern Georgia, there exist billboards by the hundred. Billboards for Jesus. Billboards for the Lion’s Den (a creepy truck stop with naked girls…we think.) Billboards for peanuts, pecans, and the end of the world.

Well…

In the Midwest, the billboards are much, much fewer. And so I think the journey though the north, while not exactly stuffed with exciting views, is better for it. Because really…who needs to see one-hundred consecutive billboards regarding humanity’s descent into Hell?

A few Southern billboard examples:

Thankfully the Midwest has fewer of these.

…though I’m not exactly sure why.

And so our Midwestern adventure came to a quiet end. At 8PM Saturday night, we rolled into our familiar driveway. The leaves had browned and fallen in great number during our brief absence, and the cold had moved in.

Our cats were happy to see us.

Our house was clean and warm.

The G Man, having never once asked ‘Are we there yet’ during twenty-two hours of driving, was rewarded with a movie.

As for me, I suppose I must’ve sat quietly for nearly an hour after arriving. The Midwest was gone again, and the skies were back to their familiar southern haze. I missed the girl, but I’ll always remember the family and friends.

Perhaps we’ll go back again soon.

And maybe it won’t be as huge a culture shock to return to the land I once knew and loved.


*

I write plenty of stories that aren’t about cornfields, clouds, and overeating.

Find them here. 

THE AMAZING ART OF BOOK BLURBS – PART 2!

To illustrate the pain and suffering of writing blurbs (and query letters…and synopses) I’ve challenged myself to write one-sentence descriptions of ALL my books.

Here we go…


BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO – 303 STRANGERS TELL CRAZY, FUNNY, AND SCARY STORIES OF THEIR BREAKUPS.

 

LORDS OF THE BLACK SANDS – FIVE CENTURIES AFTER EARTH SUFFERS A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST, THREE IMMORTALS VIE FOR CONTROL OF THE PLANET.

 

101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500

101 QUESTIONS FOR HUMANITY – THE ORIGINAL ENTRY IN THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES ASKS SHORT, SIMPLE QUESTIONS WITH THE AIM OF PROVOKING THOUGHTFUL ANSWERS.

 

DARKNESS BETWEEN THE STARS – WHILE GAZING AT THE NIGHT SKY, THE WORLD’S LONELIEST BOY SEES THE STARS BEGIN TO DISAPPEAR.

 

SHADOW OF FOREVER – AFTER EARTH’S DESTRUCTION, A BROKEN MAN AND HIS AI COMPANION SEEK VENGEANCE AMONG THE STARS.

 

EATERS OF THE LIGHT – CALLISTA LIGHTBRINGER, A SENTIENT AI HOUSED IN A HUMAN BODY, JOURNEYS TO A DISTANT GALAXY IN ORDER TO DESTROY A RACE OF STAR-EATING SPACE VAMPIRES.

 

REALITY IS BEST SERVED WITH RED WINE – WHILE GULPING DOWN VARIOUS BOTTLES OF WINE, AN AUTHOR REMINISCES ON HIS CHILDHOOD, HIS DATING LIFE, AND THE STATE OF MODERN SOCIETY.

 

LIFE & DARK LIQUOR – WHILE SERVING HIMSELF SCOTCH AND OTHER POTENT COCKTAILS, A WRITER DWELLS IN THE DARKNESS OF HIS BASEMENT AND OPENS UP ABOUT THE SKELETONS IN HIS CLOSET.

 

101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PARENTS – TWO SINGLE PARENTS POSE SOMETIMES TOUGH/SOMETIMES FUNNY QUESTIONS FOR PARENTS OF ALL AGES TO CONSIDER.

 

THE ULTIMATE GET TO KNOW SOMEONE QUIZ – A DELIGHTFUL CRASH COURSE OF FUN QUESTIONS TO ASK SPOUSES, SIGNIFICANT OTHERS, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS.

 

LYS & THE HEART STOPPER – AN IMPRISONED YOUNG GIRL ESCAPES HER BONDAGE. ALONE, SHE JOURNEYS TO FIND THE DEADLIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD, THE HEART-STOPPER, THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN HELP HER EARN HER VENGEANCE.

 

NADYA THE DEATHLESS – AN IMMORTAL WOMAN DEFIES A POWERFUL ARISTOCRACY AND IGNITES AN ILL-FATED REBELLION AGAINST THE PONTIFF OF VHUR.

 

Hollow Empire Front Cover

HOLLOW EMPIRE – NIGHT OF KNIVES – AFTER A PLAGUE WIPES OUT MOST OF A MEDIEVAL NATION’S POPULATION, FIVE LOST SOULS MUST SURVIVE THE HORRORS THAT FOLLOW.

 

DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK I – A YOUNG WOMAN LEAVES HOME TO MAKE A BETTER LIFE FOR HERSELF, ONLY TO WANDER INTO THE HEART OF A HORRIFIC, WORLD-CONSUMING WAR.

 

DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK II – A DESPERATE WOMAN FOLLOWS HER LOVER INTO A BATTLE HE CAN NEVER HOPE TO WIN.

 

DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK III – AFTER INVADING AND CRUSHING HIS RIVAL’S HOMELAND, A WAR-CRAZED EMPEROR SENDS HIS CRUELEST WARLORD TO BUTCHER THE LAST OF HIS ENEMIES.

 

DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK IV – AS A WORLD-ENDING CONFLICT REACHES ITS CLIMAX, A YOUNG WOMAN MUST CHOOSE WHETHER TO JOIN THE WINNING SIDE AND BECOME QUEEN OR SACRIFICE EVERYTHING TO BETRAY HER KIDNAPPERS.

 

OLD MAN OF TESSERA – THE LONE SURVIVOR OF A DEADLY STORM STUMBLES INTO THE CITY OF TESSERA, IN WHICH NOTHING AND NO ONE ARE WHAT THEY SEEM.

 

 THE HECATOMB – A GHOULISH MONSTER AND ITS OFFSPRING STALK CITIES AT NIGHT WITH THE AIM OF KILLING EVERY LAST HUMAN IN THE WORLD.

 

DoorNeverDreamedPaperback1

A DOOR NEVER DREAMED OF – IN A DISTANT EARTH FUTURE, TWO YOUNG MEN ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF AN APOCALYPTIC WAR COLLIDE.

101 Questions for Women Cover

101 QUESTIONS FOR WOMEN – WRITTEN WITH WOMEN IN MIND BUT ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE, 101 QUESTIONS FOR WOMEN FOCUSES ON LOVE, LUST, AND THE BREAKDOWN OF TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLES.

 

101 Questions for Men Cover

101 QUESTIONS FOR MEN – GEARED FOR MEN, THIS ENTRY IN THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES ASKS QUESTIONS ABOUT SEX, RELATIONSHIPS, AND MUCH MORE.

 

101 Questions for Midnight Front Cover

101 QUESTIONS FOR MIDNIGHT – THE STAKES ARE RAISED AND THE QUESTIONS DARKER THAN EVER IN THIS FUN, ENGAGING ICE-BREAKER BOOK. PUT IT ON YOUR COFFEE TABLE AND WATCH THE CONVERSATIONS IGNITE!

 

SleepersImageForBlogging

THE SLEEPERS – A WEALTHY STUDENT IN A FAR-DISTANT FUTURE IS TASKED WITH DESTROYING AN ALIEN WORLD TO SAVE HUMANITY.

 

LET THE BODIES – A LITTLE GIRL SUFFERS ALONE WHILE EVERYONE IN HER CITY VANISHES.

 

101 Deeper Darker Cover

101 DEEPER, DARKER QUESTIONS FOR HUMANITY – 101 TOUGH & FUN QUESTIONS TO TEST YOUR MORALITY, CHALLENGE YOUR ETHICS, AND ENTERTAIN YOUR FRIENDS.

 

101 SEX QUESTIONS – LOVERS AND LAUGH-SEEKERS ALIKE WILL FIND ENTERTAINMENT IN THIS SEXY SIDEKICK TO THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES.
  Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle CoverDARK MOON DAUGHTER – YOUNG ANDELUSIA ANDERAE IS SEDUCED BY A MESSENGER AND CONVINCED THAT HER BUDDING BLACK MAGIC IS THE KEY TO SAVING THOUSANDS OF LIVES.

 

NetherKingdomWebLg-331x500

NETHER KINGDOM – AT THE WORLD’S EDGE, A SORCERESS AWAKENS TO THE TERRIBLE REALIZATION THAT SHE ALONE CAN STOP AN INVASION OF OTHERWORLDLY HORRORS.

 

41X6vKWTtJL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

444 QUESTIONS FOR THE UNIVERSE – MEANT TO ENTERTAIN FOR HOURS, 444 QUESTIONS IS A GRAND COMPILATION OF SERIOUS YET FUN QUESTIONS.

 

THE LITTLE BOOK OF BIG QUESTIONS – SCIENCE AND MORALITY COLLIDE IN THE ULTIMATE CONVERSATION-STARTING BOOK FOR SMART PEOPLE.

 

101 WAYS TO FIGHT ABOUT POLITICS – LOADED QUESTIONS ABOUT IMMIGRATION, THE PRESIDENCY, AMERICAN CULTURE, AND OTHER HOT-TOPICS. FOR SELF-REFLECTION, READERS CAN TACKLE IT ALONE, BUT THOSE WHO PREFER HEATED DISCUSSIONS WILL WANT TO READ IT IN MIXED COMPANY.

 

101QSP

101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PEOPLE – IN THE MODERN WORLD OF SWIPING LEFT AND NEVER LOOKING BACK, 101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PEOPLE ASKS READERS ABOUT EVERY FACET OF LOVE, LUST, AND HUMAN ROMANTIC CONNECTION.

 

MACHINA OBSCURUM – A COLLECTION OF SMALL SHADOWS – A LEPER DEDICATES HIS LIFE TO SAVING CHILDREN, A WOMAN ACCEPTS THE RAREST OF ALL MURDER CONTRACTS, A GIRL SUFFERS INSANITY IN A SPACE COLONY, A TRAIN-HOPPING DUO CROSSES THROUGH DIMENSIONS, AND MUCH, MUCH MORE…

 


See? Blurbs are fun, right?

There’s no better way to grab a reader’s attention than through a good, quick description.

…and no easier way to lose it with a bad one.

See you on the flip side.

J Edward Neill

19 Questions for Humanity

19 Questions for Humanity


 

THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE

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

*

 IN THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN HAPPINESS AND MEANINGFULNESS

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

*

IMMORTALITY

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

*

IN THE REALM OF CURRENT EVENTS

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

*

THAT THING CALLED LOVE

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

*

WHERE WE’RE GOING, WE DON’T NEED ROADS

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

*

EVERYONE HAS ONE

Which one rules the roost: Opinions? Or facts?

*

 THINK HARD ON THIS ONE

Does every single human life…have value?

*

A MOMENT OF OMNISCIENCE

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

*

THIS ONE’S RHETORICAL

Why do so many people get so angry about politics?

*

NO JUDGMENTS, I PROMISE

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

*

 UFC 666: JESUS VERSUS SUPERMAN

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

*

 THAT SONG BY THE CLASH

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

*

STEPFORD WIVES (AND HUSBANDS)

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

*

CONTINUING THE SHALLOW THEME

Perfect body? Perfect face? Or perfect intellect?

*

CRIMES AGAINST OURSELVES

Considering everything, does humanity deserve to exist?

*

IN THE BATTLE BETWEEN

Is there any such thing as absolute good or evil?

*

BACK TO THE FUTURE

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

*

AND A BONUS QUESTION (WHEN SOMEONE ASKS YOU IF YOU’RE A GOD, YOU SAY ____)

Pretend you’re a deity for a day. What’s the first thing you do to the world?


*

Want to argue about the answers? Good. Try this. 

Or for something smarter, go here. 

7 Questions Guaranteed to Start a Fight Among Friends

Take these to your next family gathering.

Or to the bar.

Or to lunch with friends.

I dare you.

*

7 Questions to Start a Fight Among Friends

 


Awesome! Malevolent! Superfluous!

Preferably in the company of at least one other person, use exactly three words to describe the current Congress (or Parliament) which exists in your country.

*

Up a Creek…

 There’s been a terrible war overseas.

Your nation isn’t directly involved.

But…

Two-hundred thousand refugees have fled this war.

They speak no English.

Their skill sets are unknown.

They need a place to live, or else most of them will die of starvation and disease.

What percentage of these refugees would you invite to live in your nation?

*

Simplicity

In ten words or fewer, state what you want your government to do for you.

*

The Right to Arm Bears

 You’ve been selected by your government to create a brand-new modern-day Bill of Rights.

In this bill, you’ll decide what basic rights are legally granted to each and every citizen of your nation.

What are the first three items you’ll add to the bill?

*

Juggle Three Flags while Kissing a Baby

 List the top five things every potential immigrant should have to know or do in order to be granted full citizenship in your nation.

*

Word Smack

 For each of the items below, say the first word that comes to your mind upon reading it:

Libtard

Fake News

Republitard

Snowflake

Communist

Leftist

Nazi

White Power

Black Lives Matter

*

The Wage Gauge

 The national minimum-wage for full-time workers should be:

$ ______________

*


If you feel like arguing even more, go here.

If you prefer to keep the peace, go here.

 

All Hallows Book Sale

Welcome to the All Hallows Book Sale. For the next two days I’ve decided to offer nearly ALL my books (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, and Coffee Table Party Philosophy) either FREE or deeply discounted.

So…

Go here to view my entire catalog, including everything I’ve slashed for this event.

To get a feel for what I’m offering, check out some of my cover art right here:

dark_moon_daughter-initialcoverjuptereventcrop1cover101-qs-for-the-end-of-the-world-front-cover 101-questions-for-midnight-front-cover101-questions-for-single-people-front101-questions-for-women-covernether-kingdom-createspace-bright-coversoul-orb-new-ddp-cover-second-try