Nadya the Deathless – A new short story by J Edward Neill

Mother to a slain child…

Hunted for her power…

Some fear her…

Others adore her…

Those who know her best have named her…

Nadya the Deathless

Episode 8 in the Hollow Empire series

Now available on Amazon.

It’s Etsy’s Birthday, and We’re Discounting ALL Our Art!

June 18 – June 22

Lustrous prints

Original 3D sculpted art

Fantastical & dark paintings

Everything 15% off ALL WEEK LONG!

Visit our shop – ShadowArtFinds – right here.

View a few samples of our latest art right here:

Grinding Away in a Creative Life

It’s sunny outside.

It’s the kind of morning of which I like to dream. Not cold, but not quite warm. No clouds. No wind. I can hear the birds and smell the honeysuckle. It’s perfect.

It’s enough to make me want to freeze time and wander the morning for a few thousand years.

I should be working, but I’m not. I’ve just finished publishing another pair of books, and I find myself slogging through a short story about which I’m only somewhat passionate.

Sometimes, when I hit a lull like this, I pick up my paintbrush and spread out a few shadows. Maybe a colorful tree. A mournful maiden. Or maybe something terrifying.

Not today. I’m not in the mood.

I really just want to hang with the cat.

This is where I’m at:

Eaters of the Light, my sci-fi/romance/thriller series? It’s published.

My goal of finishing thirty canvas paintings at this point in the year? Exceeded.

The latest entry in my ridiculous ‘Reasons to Break Up’ trilogy? Slapped together and shipped.

It’s been a good year so far. But I want more.

Some people talk about creative exhaustion. About writer’s block. About procrastination, lack of direction, and boredom.

Nah. Forget all that.

I’ve got 99 problems, but none of ’em are those.

My cardinal sin? Setting reachable goals.

Yeah. Oops.

It’s like this. Some mountains in life are meant to be climbed. You say you want to save $1000 bucks for a vacation? Boom, you did it; now get in the car and head to the beach. Land a big promotion at work? Achieved. Need to step outside and mow your lawn? Nice, you’re finished…hopefully with a cool glass of bourbon awaiting you inside.

But artistic goals – are those really meant to be conquered? Of this, I’m not so sure. Is there ever a point at which an author sits down and says, ‘You know…I think I’m done. No more books. I’m just gonna drift away into the sunset .’ Do painters, sculptors, and photographers one day just set down their tools and declare their life’s work complete? I mean…maybe. Maybe some people can do it. Maybe the best of the best reach a point of contentedness, and afterward float away in the clouds with a satisfied smile on their faces.

Maybe.

But somehow I doubt it.

My son – the G Man. He’s not impressed.

Last night, for the first time in forever, I didn’t create. My brushes sat in a Mason jar full of water, soaking up nothing. My new short story ‘Nadya the Deathless’ laid untouched on my century-old laptop. I didn’t draw. I didn’t write. I didn’t wander outside beneath the perfect stars to dream up a new and exhilarating story.

I just sat there in the gloom of my basement. With a bowl of Progresso soup. Vaguely watching a movie. Not really thinking, moving, or existing.

For a while, maybe an hour, I floated in the stillness. Near the end, a scary idea crept over me. I thought perhaps I’d made a grave error in setting goals that were too easy to achieve. ‘Aim low, and you’ll hit your target,’ I realized. ‘Shoot for the moon, and though you’ll never make it, you’ll get to die trying.’

I opened my eyes. The back door was open, and the moths fluttering inside to get at the room’s only lamp. My cats dozed beside me, savoring my rare moment of inactivity.

It was then I knew my low-goal setting hadn’t been some tragic thing.

I can make a new goal, I realized. Something lofty. Something impossible to reach.

Something I’ll be proud to die trying to do.

So let’s talk goals.

Absurd goals.

Quest to drop the One Ring into Mount Doom kind of goals.

Right now I’ve got thirty-two published books. My new goal – one-hundred.

Right now my painting store is stocked with one-hundred nine original canvas paintings. New goal – three-hundred.

Season one of Hollow Empire is finished. New goal – finish three full seasons.

This giant fantasy trilogy, the one I published five years ago, has begun to gather dust. New goal – sell one-thousand new copies…and write a sequel.

And my most ambitious goal, the one that’ll allow me to sniff retirement, is to sell one-million copies of this little tome. (Right now I’m only at thirteen-thousand copies sold.)

Challenges, challenges…

Insurmountable.

Unlikely.

Delusional.

This should be fun.

It’s still sunny outside, although maybe a bit warmer now. And there’s just a few things more I want to share before I wander outside.

My art partner, Tahina Morrison, with whom I’ve created nearly one-hundred sculpted paintings, is leaving town. It was inevitable, this change. It’s humanity’s natural ebb and flow.  As I sit in my little chair and think about the challenges that will arise in her absence, I can’t help but smile.

We did good work together, she and I.

We had a blast.

 

Furiosa

Twilight Shaman

 

Horned Queen

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These are just a few of my favorite collaborative pieces. In Tahina’s absence, I realize my painting goals will be even more difficult to achieve.

So be it. Challenge accepted.

Now then…

I think it’s probably time.

Time to open the door and step out into the sunlight.

Time to stop talking about goals and start realizing them.

Time to feed my cats.

Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me. Thanks to all the art collectors who’ve invested in me, and who happily stick my canvasses on their walls. And special thanks to Tahina and the G Man, without whom the last two years would’ve been infinitely less rewarding.

Goodbye for now.

I’ll be back.

 * * *

Readers will want to check out this book here. Trust me…you’ll be happy you did.

And dark art lovers might appreciate this piece, which I created based on an actual skull sitting in my living room.

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tyrants of the Dead – An Epic Fantasy Trilogy

In a far and ancient land, Emperor Chakran dreams of conquest. His desire to resurrect the evil, world-ending Ur casts a dark shadow across an unsuspecting world. But as his army butchers its way across the realm, leaving only a vast, storm-riddled graveyard in its wake, a small band of warriors rises up to oppose him. They know what will become of the world should Chakran succeed. They know the Emperor is but a puppet to the true evil – the Tyrants of the Dead.
Follow Rellen Gryphon, Garrett Croft, and Andelusia Anderae on their voyage to stop the darkness.
If they should fail, the sun will die.
…and the night will forever reign.

Tyrants of the Dead – The Complete Collection includes all three epic volumes in the series:
Down the Dark Path
Dark Moon Daughter
Nether Kingdom

Thursday Art Assault – Horned Queen

Two goetia-style versions of the same dark art sculpted painting – Horned Queen.

What a difference a little lighting will make…

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Horned Queen – Pale Version

Horned Queen – Dark Version (Prints Available)

Originals

Prints

Instagram

Facebook

Eaters of the Light – Coming Soon!

My name is Callista Lightbringer.

Although I’m not human, I am humanity’s last hope.

For a thousand years, I’ve warred against the star-killing Strigoi. I’ve destroyed billions. I’ve snuffed hundreds of their hollow, vampiric planets.

It’s not enough.

Alone, I must find the source of the Strigoi power. I must venture deeper into space than any living creature has dared to go.

And there, in the galaxy known as Hades, I must resurrect the light.

…and defeat the Strigoi forever.

 Eaters of the Light

 Sequel to Darkness Between the Stars & Shadow of Forever

 The night is darkest before the dawn…

The first chapter is free to read right here.

Coming in March 2018

Win a free sci-fi book – Darkness Between the Stars – No Strings Attached

Hey you.

Do you like sci-fi or fantasy books?

Cool.

Click this link for your chance to win a Kindle version of Darkness Between the Stars.

If you like the book, please review it.

Thanks!

2 Great Atlanta Art Shows You’ll Want to Attend

Hi there everyone.

This March, I’ll be featuring original paintings by myself and Tahina Morrison at two amazing events in Atlanta.

These will be our first public art shows ever. We’ll be revealing several of our darkest, sexiest, and wildest pieces yet.

Two dates you need to remember – March 9th & March 16th

Two art shows you should commit to memory – Atlanta Pancakes & Booze Art Show / Chocolate & Art Show Atlanta

Pancakes & Booze – Friday, March 9th

And…

Chocolate & Art – Friday, March 16


We’ll have a featured gallery and prints at each show.

You’ll probably see something along the lines of…

…and more!

 


We really hope to see you! If for no other reason than free pancakes and conversation.

For updates, follow me on Facebook.

Get into our art here.

J Edward Neill

A Scary Short Story Collection

In the old world city of Ellerae, one person goes missing every day.
Poor little Mia doesn’t stand a chance.
Or does she?

Let the Bodies – A creepy follow-up to chilling tale, Old Man of Tessera – appears in anthology book UnCommon Evil – Release date Feb 20th, 2018.

Preorder Uncommon Evil right here.

Why Must I Art?

 


It’s 11:30 PM on a Monday night. The wind howls against my glass-paneled door. The branches of an old oak scrape against the roof. A little black cat named Bacon makes figure-eights around my ankles.

My concentration never breaks.

I’m in a zone, and nothing in the world can touch me.

It’s on nights like these, with a glass of scotch in hand and a Hans Zimmer soundtrack thrumming, I’m happiest. My rickety wooden easel stands before me, and my paintbrush flies. I can’t quite remember the exact moment I decided to start making art again. As a kid and a teenager, I’d done the same, but many years have passed since then. I’d almost forgotten what it feels like to shut the world out and make pictures.

What am I doing here?

Recapturing my youth?

Striving to be the next Van Gogh or modern-day Michelangelo?

Gunning for likes on Facebook?

Nope. None of these.

The music drops off into a somber violin piece. It’s something by Olafur Arnalds. I’ve just messed up while drawing the curve of a woman’s lower lip, and my eraser is on the move. Lower lips are hard sometimes, especially when drawing them from a side-view perspective. But I’ll get it right. Another sip of Balvenie, and I’ve fixed it. Instead of pouty, she looks deadly serious. Just wait til I add her horns:

Princess Oblivia

I don’t have to do art. I want to. I do it because I love it, I think. But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like an imposter. I’m not classically trained. I don’t have a specific job in the field. No one will ever ask me to illustrate their comic book, draw their company logo, or paint a portrait of their dog. It’s a good thing, too. Commissions can mean big money for some artists, but I just can’t do it. I can’t. I paint what I want to paint. If that’s not good enough, so be it.

And I definitely don’t want to paint someone’s dog.

It’s late now. Late, late. My kid, the G Man, has curled up on the couch and fallen asleep with his favorite book in hand. It’s a Calvin & Hobbes anthology. Everyone’s kid should read it. The art is neat, Calvin is hilarious, and there’s a bit of philosophy paired with every little panel. Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes’ creator) is pretty much a genius. With a few pen strokes and splash of philosophy, he’s made his art come alive. He fills a need we didn’t even know we had.

And maybe that’s why I’m painting. To satisfy some philosophical need. To ponder my existence while I paint. To separate myself from the world so completely that nothing else exists besides my tiny atmosphere of music, liquor, and art.

My phone is silent. I don’t want to hear it ring…or even vibrate. The world can go ahead and end. I’ll be happy if I’m the last to know.

I don’t have cable TV, satellite, or Netflix. I don’t want to consume everyone else’s creativity. I need to embrace my own.

I’m tired. I’m tipsy. The bones in my hands sing with pain from pounding on a punching bag earlier in the day.

But my paintbrush is steady.

…and the table beside me is a mess.

Truth is, when I decided to start creating again, art wasn’t my first choice. Some thousand years ago – or maybe it was only fifteen – I decided the best way to escape was to write books. Long books. Sloppy existential fantasy books no one would actually want to read. If I’m honest, I did it to escape my marriage. My life. My responsibilities. Everything.

But writing didn’t bring me peace. Turns out, while making words is great for the mind, it tends to injure the soul. Long stretches of solitude tucked away in a black room can unsettle even the most steadfast heart. And the time commitment, often several months for even the most pedestrian-length book, is all-consuming. It hurts. Sometimes a lot.

Art, on the other hand…

In a few hours, one can draw something beautiful. And one can be at utter peace while doing so.

Given a full night, an artist can conceive a surreal world and splash it onto a canvas. While sipping wine, listening to music, and carrying on a rich conversation with anyone in the room.

And in a week…well…

Art can be whatever its maker desires. It’s a quick commitment, short and satisfying. It’s a month-long project, with each session bringing a creator visibly closer to the ecstasy of completion. It’s a study of pencil strokes, the movement of watercolor across paper, or the feel of broad lashes of a brush thick with scarlet paint.

I’m no fan of poetry. At least not the kind that uses words. But perhaps art is poetry of another kind. The poetry of motion. The passion of turning shapeless blobs of paint into visible, touchable emotion.

…or sometimes just pretty girls with demon horns surrounded by coins.

Lately I’ve been co-painting. I’ve paired with a fellow artist to create things I’d have never thought of on my own. It’s just another reason making art is sometimes a more powerful elixir for one’s self than writing literature. Writing or painting by oneself can be self-restricting. It can lead one to fall into a creative vacuum.

But art made in the company of other artists…it’s like a conversation in a crowded room. It’s fluid. It allows ideas to flow uninhibited. She sculpts something, and I give it color. I draw a tree, a woman, or a demon, and she makes it real.

If you’ve never tried it, invite your friends over to paint with you. Pour something delicious into a glass, silence your phones, set Spotify to random, and fall into your art together. Doesn’t matter how seriously you take it. Chances are, you’ll feel all your stresses melt away.

Maybe that’s the reason. Maybe…

Melting the world, escaping into a 16″ x 20″ piece of stretched canvas, forgetting about your pain, your job, your mortgage. Maybe it’s not about the actual art, but the catharsis. The quick creation of worlds more appealing than our own. Or the exorcism of our fears by painting something terrifying…and realizing our imaginations are more powerful than reality.

My co-artist, Tahina. Her smile is divine. Her hat is…questionable.

It’s morning now. I’m crawling out of bed, and I’m slow to greet the world. My head hurts, my knuckles are sore, and it’s cold in here.

I don’t really want to wake up.

But I know if I do, there’s a canvas downstairs awaiting me. It’s blank and ready to be filled with shadows.

Once I pick up my favorite brush, I’ll be hooked. The sun will rise, the music will play, and I’ll fall away from this world.

…and into my own.

*

J Edward Neill

Art Collection – Dem Bones by J Edward Neill & Tahina Morrison

Over the years, we’ve sculpted and painted more skulls, skeletons, and bones than we can recall.

Some might say Tahina Morrison and I are obsessed with the macabre.

Maybe not.

Maybe so…

Here’s some of our favorites:

 

Find more skeletal art right here.

Originals

Prints

Instagram

Facebook

 

Selling the Last of my Shadows

This gallery contains 14 photos.

 The ORIGINAL canvas art for J Edward’s most popular paintings are now available. The paintings are here. Interested buyers should reach… Read more

Thursday Art Assault – New Cover Art for A Collection of Shadows

Whoa…

Whoa…

Whoa!

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Shadows has all new cover art:

Cover by Tahina Morrison & J Edward Neill

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Tread lightly into ancient, forbidden realms.

Wander into the futures of apocalyptic worlds.

Know what it feels like to face the darkness alone.

Machina Obscurum contains twenty-two short tales by nine masters of fiction. Within these pages lie stories of men and monsters, of lonely souls and far-distant places. No matter what whets your appetite: sci-fi, horror, fantasy, or hard, dark realistic fiction, A Collection of Shadows has it all.

Contains stories by J Edward Neill, John McGuire, Chad Shonk, River Fairchild, Jennifer Clayton, Phil Elmore, Robert Jeffrey II, F Charles Murdock, & Roy Dodd.

Thursday Art Assault – A Girl Standing in the Wind

We started with this…

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And ended with this…

Decided against the tattoos…

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Here’s another angle…

Appears darker in this lighting setup.

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Hither the Wind – Tahina Morrison & J Edward Neill

For more 3D art pieces like this, go here.

For previous art assaults, go here.

 

Coming Soon – Life & Dark Liquor

Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”

– Peter De Vries, Reuben, Reuben

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And so I shall.

At least two cocktails per chapter.

…to soften the senses and open doors long-shut.

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Coming soon…

Life & Dark Liquor

‘Sequel’ to Reality is Best Served with Red Wine

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Having survived winter in the Chicago suburbs, J Edward Neill descends to Atlanta, where summers are mercilessly hot and every evening invites new adventures.

In the Deep South, he discovers new places, new friendships, and new cocktails.

Alternatively calm and stormy, exuberant and lonely, his latest bounce between bottles digs into the life of an ordinary author living in a strange and unpredictable world. Life and Dark Liquor is both a memoir and philosophical piece, ranging through topics both small and grandiose:

Single fatherhood.

Holding on to relationships.

Searching for creativity.

Marriage, divorce, and the hardest parts of being human.

And what’s more…

J Edward sips scotch, bourbon, and deep, dark whiskey with every chapter. No topic goes untouched.

No cocktail is spared.

 

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Life & Dark Liquor

Coming in August 2017

 

The Book of Wine…and Life.

In J Edward’s latest book, he promises to drain one bottle of red wine per chapter.

That’s the rule. 

There’s no breaking it.

 And while deep in his cups, he takes readers on a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant journey.  Playful yet serious, funny yet honest, the bounce between bottles takes readers on a stroll through everything. 

Dating. Religion. Politics. That one time J Edward and his friend built a dam and met the world’s most relaxed water moccasin…

 It’s all here.

One bottle per night.

Every night.

At least…that’s the idea.

Now Available!

   
* * *

Reality is Best Served with Red Wine

Anecdotes and philosophy by J Edward Neill

My Love of Drawing Beautiful Women

Ages ago, I was a student in a small Atlanta art school.

I wasn’t searching for a degree. Or a job. Or to become the next Boris Vallejo, HR Giger, or Picasso.

I just wanted to learn how to draw. Particularly people. Especially beautiful bodies and faces.

After I finished school, I ended up getting married, having a kid, writing books, and falling out of touch with the artsy young dude I’d once been.

But…

Over the last year, my world has stabilized. Once full of turmoil, I now enjoy relative peace.

Which means more time to paint. Sketch. And draw. Usually while sipping red wine beneath the setting sun.

One of my favorite topics has always been the female face. It’s elegant in a way no other subject matter can match. That’s not to say I don’t love all other forms of art, just that I find relaxation in the challenge of painting human expression.

So today I’d like to share some of my work. Some of these are what I’d consider ‘failed’ pieces, being not up to my standards. Others are small successes. While I still consider myself to be a weekend warrior (at best) I’m getting better with each piece.

…and enjoying every second of the process.

* * *

Here’s a recent tiny (6″ x 8″) piece I did. I almost, almost, almost left it the way it was on the left. The mere suggestion of a face is sometimes enough. Nevertheless, I ended up finishing it up and naming it Callista, after a tragic character in this book.

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Here’s another one I almost left alone after the initial sketch. Valeria’s look is completely different before and after I added the crazy watercolors. On the left, she looks pensive, maybe even regretful. On the right, she looks more like a warrior princess. I sometimes struggle with loving/hating a piece after I move beyond the initial sketch phase. Still, despite the unusual color scheme, Valeria is framed and hanging on my wall.

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After finishing this one, titled Ashes for Ande, I suffered no such post-color regret. The sketch looked ok, but the inks and dark acrylics worked out really well. This painting popped off my brush with ease. I had a character in mind (from another of my books) and the outcome matched what I’d imagined. Ashes for Ande might be my favorite. Maybe.

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Mother of Midnight is and probably always will be the most challenging thing I’ve ever painted. The sketch alone (performed on a 24″ x 48″ canvass) took a week. The deep graphite, inks, and shading took another twelve days. I still haven’t snapped an ideal photo of Mother of Midnight. The trouble with photographing graphite is that it tends to reflect light, thus dulling the image. Oh well. Here she is:

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For this tiny (6″ x 6″) piece, I imagined a dryad leaving her ancient forest behind. I sketched her, inked her, and then let the golden watercolors drip. Her name is Sylpha. You like?

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Emme, the Pale Queen is a portrait I did for a friend. My latest gig has been to draw real-life people, but with subtle fantasy elements added.  In this case, she got a few green face tattoos and a whip of black hair tightened to her throat. I really liked how Emme’s eyes turned out. Her look suggests complete confidence.

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The Sorceress is a piece I tried (as in really tried) to sketch and swear to leave alone. I made myself promise not to go in afterward with colors and inks. Apparently, I can’t keep my oaths.  A few days after I finished the sketch, I sipped too much wine and broke out the color. For a little abstract addition, I left half of her hair untouched. She looks dangerous, no? And I’m glad I smashed my promise. I like her better now.

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Ah, the treacherous nature of adding color. This is one piece I wish I could go back and redo. There’s something about her face that’s not quite right. Even so, I couldn’t bring myself to trash this one (titled ‘Last Glance’.) If for no other reason, I hold on to her to remind myself I have lots of room for improvement.

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For a true challenge, try sketching the intricate musculature of a woman’s shoulders and lower back. It’s no easy thing. For ‘Blood Princess’ I wore a few pencils down to nubs. And now she’s undressed to kill.

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This is my most recent piece, titled Angelic. The original sketch was fairly NSFW, but after I added an ethereal gown and some ghostly yellow-gold watercolor, she’s slightly SFW. Maybe. For a real challenge, I used almost every media available to me, including pencils, inks, graphite powder, charcoal, acrylics, and watercolors. Next up: framing her.

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For even more paintings (most of which aren’t women) go here.

To start a conversation with anyone on the planet, get into this.

J Edward Neill

 

Skull Buckets and Big Old Bucket Lists

Ages ago, I published my personal mega-bucket list.

It included 50 things I wanted to do before I die. Some were realistic. Others…not so much.

So here we are, centuries (ok, only 18 months) removed. I’ve completed a few of my self-challenges and completely whiffed on many more.

Here’s my bucket update:

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50 Hard-as-Hell Bucket Stuffers

1. Go caving in Kentucky. As in way deep in the earth. As in if I get lost, the rest of the bucket list is screwed. (I haven’t even seen a cave since making this a bucket list item.)

2. Write a book twenty books. Yes seriously.   (Done. Actually it’s 23 now. My next goal is 100. Realistic? Who cares?)

3. Hold a four-minute plank. (Kinda stuck on two minutes right now) (Did several five-minute planks. And then…promptly was hospitalized with costochondritis. For real. Google it.)

4. Read the entire LOTR trilogy to my kid. As a bedtime story. Because bedtime stories should be epic. (We got about two chapters in. Tolkien puts kids to sleep.)

5. Perform a meaningful charitable act. As in a weekend at a soup kitchen. Or ten weekends. Whichever. (Not yet. I’m a bad person.)

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

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

8. Climb a mountain. A real mountain. Preferably something volcanic. (I climbed a giant f’n waterfall. Does that count?)

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

10. Plant at least ten trees that will outlive me. (And then promptly had to sell the land I planted them on. 😐 )

11. Make one of my books into a movie. Even if it’s a pitiful ten minute-long Youtube flick. (Nope. Though I did make a four-minute Youtube clip.)

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

13. Teach my grandkid(s) things to annoy their parents. (Need you on this one, G Man.) (Update. He’s only five-years old.)

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

15. Play lead guitar in a band. Even if for just one night. (Turns out no one I know really likes death metal.)

16. Paint something stunning. (For me, this is as close to stunning as it’ll get.)

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

18. Try my hand as a quarterback coach. For kids. (Nope.)

19. Road trip through Sonoma, CA. (Closest I’ve come is touring the wineries of North GA.)

20. Be ripped when I’m 50. Wait. Forget 50. Be ripped when I’m 60. (I’m pretty shredded now, but I’m still a looooong ways from 50.)

21. Try every food I hated as a kid to see if I still hate them. (Yep. Turns out I liked most of ’em. Who knew? Except beets. I still hate beets.) 

22. Win a costume contest. While wearing something truly terrifying. (Win! Some creepy monster mask is all it took.)

SkullBucketReal

23. Go to a Super Bowl (as long as the Packers aren’t in it.) (Alas, I’m considering giving up my love of football.)

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

25. Live tech-free for 30 days straight. No cell phone. No laptop. No tablet. No TV. (I wish….)

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

27. Drink a bottle of absinthe. With friends. In Europe. Preferably in Copenhagen. (Planning this one soon.)

28. Completely overhaul my wardrobe. Because if Joan Rivers were still alive, I’d be on her worst-dressed list. Seriously. I’m like a twelve year-old up in here. (I have mostly new clothes. I still dress like a teenager. Whatever.)

29. Live in London. For a week. A month. However long it takes. (Nah. Not yet.)

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

31. While we’re on the subject of pubs, build a ‘pub room’ in my house. Neon signs, futbol banners, stools, pool table, low lights, cute bartender. The works. (I was in the midst of doing this when I sold my house. I suck.)

32. Start an herb garden. No, not that kind of herb. (See # 31.)

33. Grow a Mephistopheles beard. Pointy and black. (Partial credit. I did the beard. Didn’t dye it black.)

SkullBucket

34. Learn how to make wine. (Gonna need something to drink after the Ebola-pocalypse.) (I’ll need a house and a yard.)

35. Learn to play the cello. (Nope.)

36. Help someone else fulfill their own bucket list. (My friends don’t like to take risks.)

37. Shave my cats to look like lions. (Ha. Nope.)

38. Spend an entire summer living on the beach. (Does five days in Ft Lauderdale count? No? Boooooo.)

39. Teach my kid to beat me at chess. Bow humbly when he does. (Halfway there. He knows how to move the pieces.)

40. Rescue a turtle. (You know…the ones who try to cross the expressway.) (Lucked out and did this one with a pretty girl!)

SkullBuck

41. Leaving this space blank _________________________ for someone else to suggest a bucket list item. (All the suggestions have been…ahem…adult film related. Thanks, guys.)

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

43. Find the recipe for my dearly departed grandmother’s homemade stew. Cook it for a big group of friends and family. (Did it! And for double points, I used the same mixing bowl she used when I was a kid.)

44. Kiss a beautiful woman in Paris. Corny, I know. Don’t care. (There’s a shortage of beautiful women in Duluth, GA.)

45. Make myself useful. Save someone’s life. (Half credit. Saved my kid another hundred times.)

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

47. Remain apolitical. Even if I make it long enough to be a crotchety old wizard. (Yeah. I’m claiming this one. In the most vicious political season yet, I still DGAF.)

48. Start the tradition of giving gifts on my birthday. (Maybe next year when I’m not so broke.)

49. Try sushi. (Tried it. Didn’t like it. Oh well.)

50. Pay for all this stuff with a thriving writing career. (Working on it!)

 ***

Next update: December 2017!

 J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives