What Do You Want?

What’s the difference between working for a major corporation and being damned to Hell? One is a series of unending tortures inflicted upon you by sinister forces who delight in your pain and the other is run by Satan. The other thing they have in common is both inspired this story.

So, you’re the Devil?” Jordan asked, “I thought that the Devil was… male.”

First, I am a devil,” corrected Marchosias, “Secondly, the Devil, the undisputed ruler of Hell, is known as Lucifer Morningstar.”

Jordan took a sip of coffee and pondered this new information.

So there’s more than one Devil?”

Lower case devils, yes. Uppercase, only the one.”

Does that mean the bible is right? There’s a God and Heaven? The Earth was created in seven days?”

Marchosias pushed her golden hair behind her ears and smiled. Most mortals found it disarming. She had honed this combination to perfection over centuries.

Some of it is right on the money, but consider the source.”

What do you mean?” 

Well, imagine you had a fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend,” began the devil.

Girlfriend.”

You’ll find Hell is surprisingly tolerant, so no worries about that. Back to this hypothetical. After the fight, you go to your friends and talk about what happened. She is doing the same thing. However, you are both telling different stories.”

So the bible is a lie,” stated Jordan.

What I’m saying is everyone is the hero of their own story,” suggested Marchosias.

Even fallen angels?”

Especially fallen angels.”

Marchosias reheated her coffee with a gesture and took a sip. Delicious. A quarter’s worth of coffee for four dollars was one of Hell’s best ideas. 

I have so many questions,” Jordan blurted out.

Clearly!” the devil replied with a laugh, “But let’s get back to why we’re here. What can we do, to get your soul?”

So souls are real?”

She smiled as if she meant it. Why did everyone want to talk so much these days? 

Jordan, if souls weren’t real, this would all be a waste of time.”

Makes sense.”

Excellent! Now, what do you want? Anything and everything is on the table!”

Fame?”

Very popular!”

Jordan tapped his fingers on the table.

And you’ve done this before?”

Many, many times.”

Anyone I might’ve heard of?”

If I told you, you would be shocked!”

Can you give me one name?”

With a wicked grin, she leaned in and whispered into his ear. Jordan’s eyes went wide.

NO!”

Absolutely.”

It doesn’t make sense!”

With a shrug, Marchosias smiled.

But they’re so talented! Why would they do this?”

The universe is full of undiscovered talent. Getting your break, that’s something else entirely.”

Wow! I mean…,” he grasped for what to say but ended up just saying wow again.

Also anyone who gained fame on the internet, that’s us.”

Ewww! People sold their immortal souls to be internet famous?”

As I said, we don’t judge in Hell.”

Huh.”

Not everyone likes the spotlight. But there must be something you want? Riches? An endless supply of gorgeous lovers? Power?”

Superpowers?”

Why not? You could be the world’s first Super-Hero! Or Super-Villain!” the devil offered.

So, you can offer me anything? Anything I can think of?” 

She held her arms wide open and uttered, “Literally anything you can dream of!”

Jordan looked her straight in eyes and said, “I want you to release all the souls you tricked into signing contracts with and to stop the business of tempting people, whoever or wherever they are. Universe wide.”

Silence of a sort followed this. The sounds of people ordering coffee, eating scones, enjoying free wifi, working on novels and screenplays filled the cafe. Then, an explosion of laughter. Marchosias had not laughed that hard in centuries. When she finally stopped she said, “Thank you! That was hilarious, really. Now, what do you actually want?”

I just told you.”

No, you didn’t.”

Yes, I did.”

She smirked but then looked at him. Not joking.

You would sacrifice your soul for strangers? Greedy, stupid strangers?”

No-”

Aha!”

-because of the terms of my wish, everyone who signed a contract will Hell would be released.”

That’s not how it works.”

If you fulfill my wish, then that’s exactly how it works.”

 

Marchosias was about to counter but stopped and thought. A moment later, she replied, “We can’t do that.”

I thought you said anything?”

Hell is not a charity!”

If you don’t have the power…”

Her eye twitched and her fangs began to protrude, ever so slightly. It was not going the way it usually did.

Power? Would you like a demonstration of the infernal power of the underworld?”

Okay…”

Crack! Marchosias transformed into an enormous, fire-breathing wolf with griffin’s wings and the tail of a snake. Panic ensued in the cafe. 

BEHOLD ME IN MY TRUE FORM! LET TERROR BE YOUR ONLY COMPANION! FEAST ON FEAR AS YOUR BLOOD BOILS IN YOUR FETID BODIES! THIS IS BUT A TASTE OF WHAT IS TO COME!”

Fire erupted and oily smoke roiled from jagged rents in the floor and walls. Marchosias reared back and breathed a gout of hellfire that engulfed everything.

And then it was over. All traces of Hell vanished. People shook their heads and slowly returned to what they had been doing, the brief, waking nightmare fading.

Powerful enough for you?” asked Marchosias who returned to her human form.

Jordan was pale and sweaty. He picked up his cup with both hands and drank.

Impressive,” he finally said.

Just so we’re clear on things.”

Very.”

So, what do you want?” she asked.

He took a deep breath and said, “I told you what I want.”

Are you shitting me?” sputtered the devil.

I am not.”

That’s not going to happen. Pick. Something. Else.”

He took a moment.

I’m going to pass.”

You can’t do that!”

Why not?”

We’ve had a meeting. You’re committed.”

I didn’t sign anything, we don’t have an agreement.”

That’s not how it works!” she hissed.

Isn’t it? From all I’ve read, Hell is big on rules.”

She frowned and her eye smoldered a dark crimson.

Why in the name of all that is unholy are you doing this?”

Honestly, curiosity.”

That is new,” the devil growled.

I always wondered why someone would sell their soul. It seemed like an obviously bad deal, like subprime mortgages.”

We’re very proud of that one,” she said with a wistful smile.

That tracks. But I wanted to see if it was real. Hell, Heaven, all that stuff. And now I know, so thanks for that.”

You are not at all welcome. By the way, I left out a lot of details so you actually don’t know the real deal with the universe.”

I know more than I did before.”

Marchosias stared at him, then asked, “Did you think Hell would grant your wish, did you?”

It seemed like a long shot, but you miss all the shots you don’t take.”

Fine, if you’re not going to play ball, get out of here before I drag you back to perdition,” she snapped.

If you could do that, you’d be scooping people up with, I don’t know, monster trucks? Rules are rules. Even for devils.”

Have a terrible life, knowing that your wildest dreams will go unrealized,” the devil churlishly spat at him.

We’ll see.”

With that, he left. Marchosias thought to herself, ‘We have to stop recruiting through LinkedIn.’

A Light in the Dark

There is a tradition of saying goodbye to the old year like a guest who has long overstayed their welcome. Hit the bricks Old Year, we’re sick of your nonsense! Come on in New Year, you HAVE TO BE BETTER! WooHoo! While that is absurd, one tick of the clock doesn’t erase the sins of the past, it feels as though all those previous ‘to hell with this past year’ this has been a dress rehearsal for where we are now. In the interest of being candid with you and myself, things might be even worse this go around. Let’s hope not. Happy New Year!

Rather than dwell on the horror show that 2021 was, I’m going to tell you about a highlight. My friend Angela invited me to see Neal Brennan’s new show, Unacceptable. While that was an excellent show with equally delightful company, the highlight I refer to came as we walked to the show.

About one hundred feet from the front of the Cherry Lane Theater, we passed two gentlemen talking. One of them looked familiar to me. I turned back and asked one of them, “Excuse me, are you, Adam Savage?”

Why yes I am,” he replied.

For those who are unfamiliar with Adam Savage, he is a special effect designer, one of the hosts of MythBusters, currently the host of Tested, and an unofficial ambassador of the maker community. Additionally and perhaps more importantly, he is as kind, funny, and gracious as you would hope he would be.

For ten or fifteen minutes, he spoke to Angela and me about making and other subjects. She showed him pictures of the table she made to his delight and they discussed techniques of building. As I said, just as you hoped he’d be.

While I had seen him speak at New York Comic-Con many times, and would do so again the next day as it had arrived, I had never been able to ask him a question as the line for that filled up rapidly, though there was one I very much want to ask. Here was my chance, no lines required.

Is writing making?” I asked.

Yes!,” he replied, “Anything you put out into the world, any act of creativity is making!”

It was of course, what I wanted to hear. While I knew, in my heart of hearts that was true before I asked it, hearing it aloud, it became an affirmation. Words were my materials and my laptop was a workroom. I am a maker.

We all went into the theater, Adam sat a few rows in front of us and saw a superb hour of comedy and self-reflection by Neal Brennan. All in all, an outstanding evening.

I would also to thank my constant readers whose existence gives me that extra push to continue. You are all gorgeous, amazing geniuses with exquisite taste. I wish that everyone could be like you. Really, I need more readers.

Let’s go into this year with optimism, despite everything that has happened. Perhaps cautious optimism. Also, remember that if you appreciate something that has been done or made, let people that are responsible know. External validation shouldn’t matter but it does. A lot.

Happy Guarded New Year to all!

For those who think the above tale fictional, here is photographic proof. I should’ve smiled but I still was stunned by this chance encounter.

 

One Small Thing

2021 has not been a great year. It might be better than 2020, but let’s be brutally honest, the bar is so low it might be mistaken for lying on the ground. I wrestled with how to write about this surreal tragedy we have been pushing ourselves through. While ranting about each and every baffling and terrifying event might prove cathartic for me, it would undoubtedly be an enormous drag for anyone who had the misfortune to read it. So instead, I offer this very short story that suggests that things possibly might change.

“It doesn’t look good,” he said.

“No,” she replied, “it does not.”

They walked around the piles of debris that towered around them. At the peak of one, a jagged piece fell, bisecting a smaller mound of rubble at its base.

“It’s hard to believe that this could happen.”

“And yet, here we are,” she countered.

He kicked a small, empty plastic bottle. It bounced and clattered away. In the distance, other collapses could be heard. With a sigh, he sat on a container.

“It just keeps getting worse and worse.”

“So it seems.”

“It feels as though there isn’t anything that can be done.”

“Does it?”

“Why are you arguing with me?” he sputtered.

“I’m not, but it feels like you’re arguing with me.”

“Fine!”

“We’re on the same side,” she reminded him.

A pause followed. Not quite an awkward one but neither a companionable one either.

“I know…” he admitted.

She sat next to him and said, “It’s nice to hear it out loud. Every now and again.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

“I just don’t know where to start. We try to make things better but that just seems to make someone else angry.”

“You’re not wrong. People can be difficult.”

“Do you mean me?” he asked with a sad smile.

“Only occasionally.”

“Good to know.”

“You’re much better than most.”

“Please, I’ll blush!”

“I’d love to see that.”

She leaned into him and they sat for a while.

“Do feel better?” she inquired.

“Calmer. Not necessarily better.”

“That’s fair.”

“So… What are we going to do?”

“Well, we’re not going to give up.”

“We aren’t?” he asked.

“Of course not!” she stated with certainty.

“Because that feels like a solid plan.”

“Is that a joke?”

“Not my best work,” he admitted.

“No. But I do get it. It would be easy to just surrender to all this.”

“I like easy.”

“Everybody likes easy. Because it’s…”

“Easy.”

“Exactly. But things don’t get better with easy.”

“I don’t suppose they do.”

“So we do the hard thing. Which in this case is continuing.”

“It feels like throwing rocks in the ocean.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So what’s the point?”

“The point is we aren’t alone.”

He looked around, all he could see were massive piles of garbage.

“No one here but us chickens.”

“Not right here, but I know that we’re not the only ones who care.”

“How? How can you know that?”

She looked him straight in the eye and said, “Because I know that people don’t want to live like this, and if they don’t, they will do something about it. Consider it a leap into the void.”

“That sounds terrifying,” he replied.

“Maybe, but it can’t get much worse than what’s going on now.”

As she said that, a nearby tower of refuse burst into flame. They looked at each other and exploded with laughter. After a few minutes of uncontrolled and inappropriate mirth, they finally stopped.

“If I didn’t laugh…”

“Exactly,” she agreed.

“So what do we do now?”

“We start. Something small.”

“Because?”

“Because it’s where you start. Do one small thing. Then another and so on.”

“I suppose so.”

“I’m glad we’re on the same page.”

“Me too. Though I’m still scared and angry.”

She took his hand and asked, “How about now.”

“Not as much now.”

“That’s all it takes. One small thing. Ready?”

“Yes, I am now.”

And with that, they leapt.

Worn Paths

Writer’s block. Everyone who puts pen to paper, or in my case, fingertips to keyboard, wrestles with with this particular demon. About two weeks ago, I was chatting to another writer who was struggling with her own problems in this area, and we comisserated. Naturally, after than I grappled with my own lack of inspiration. Below is what I wrote when I didn’t know what to write.

He wandered through the stacks, looking for something. His fingertips brushed over the spines of books. It all seemed familiar, but the comfort that usually accompanied the sensation was absent. All subjects had been explored, extensively, and any related topics felt… dull. No, not dull, he still loved them but they felt like there was nothing new to be found. There was a sameness to it all and it increased his doleful mood.

“May I help you?”

Looking up he saw the librarian.

“No,” he replied, “Well, yes. Maybe?”

She smiled and asked, “Perhaps if told me what you were looking for?”

“I thought I knew.”

“Did you forget?”

“No!”

“Apologies, sometimes people forget titles and authors, there’s no shame in that.”

“That’s not it at all. It’s just that everything seems as though it’s been done.”

“And you feel like you’re just treading the same path?” she inquired.

“Yes! That’s it exactly!” he exclaimed, “No matter what I look for, it feels tired and dull.”

“So you are seeking something new?”

“Maybe.”

The librarian moved to a shelf, pulled a volume out, and presented it to him.

“I know that one.”

“Yes, I thought you might be familiar with that, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.”

For the next hour, she made suggestions. Many he knew, others didn’t inspire. Piles of books grew on the table he sat at and his frustration rose with them.

“What is wrong? Why is there nothing new?” he cried, “It’s like in a dream, when you are searching for something that’s always just ahead but somehow out of reach. No matter how hard you try, you can’t ever get it.”

Tapping a fingertip on her chin, the Liberian regarded him.

“I’m going to do something for you. It may be the solution you are looking for,” she mused.

“Is it a new subject?”

“No.”

“An obscure philosophy?”

“Not that.”

“Some sort of insight that will illuminate the truth?”

“In a manner of speaking.”

“Please! Don’t tease me! I must know!”

“I’m kicking you out.”

He stared at the librarian for a moment, waiting for her to say something else. Anything else. She did not.

“What!” he sputtered.

“You need to leave. Now.”

“Why? What have I done? Are you saying I cannot come back?”

She adjusted her glasses, more for effect than necessity, and replied, “I’m going to answer your last question first. Of course, you can return. In due time. Secondly, you have done nothing wrong, so don’t fret about that.”

“Then why?”

She gestured to the stacks, “On these shelves is the sum total of human knowledge, or as close as it gets. I’ve made multiple suggestions, all of which you have dismissed or rejected. Clearly, what you are looking for is not here.”

“Are you suggesting another library?”

Staring at him, the Librarian contemplated many responses. A substantial percentage of them were less than charitable. She chose kindness instead.

“No. You currently do not require this or any other library. I would encourage you to live your life.”

“I’m not sure what you mean?”

“Take a walk. Eat food you’ve never tried. Dance. Or maybe travel.”

“How will that help?”

“I haven’t the slightest idea.”

“Then why-” he began.

“Because,” she interrupted, “what you are looking for is not here.”

“It must be!”

“Do you live alone.” she declared.

“Yes,” he cautiously said.

“Have you ever opened up your refrigerator multiple times, hoping to find something new and tasty to eat?”

“Maybe…”

“Has anything magically appeared when you’ve done that?”

“Uhhhhh, no.”

“That is what you are doing here. Go forth and do something else.”

With a resigned sigh, he slowly collected his things and began to leave. A moment before exiting, he turned and asked, “Any ideas where to start?”

The Librarian pointed a finger and answered, “Just outside the door.”

Gift of Giving

I am an excellent gift giver. Is this a brag or even a humblebrag? No, it’s a fact and one other thing, which I will reveal later. “Why bring this up at all?” you might be asking yourself, “I’m busy enough without your non-brag bragging.” 

Because it is the season of gift-giving. I’m going to pause here for those who questioned this topic to go “Ahhhh!”

Pause…

Now back to the gift-giving. It is for many people, a source of great stress. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves on getting that PERFECT GIFT. A gift that will make this holiday (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus, Orthodox Life-Day, Saturnalia, etc) complete. That’s a lot to ask of a thing, so let’s accept that while a gift can be excellent, it’s not magic.

If it’s not magic, then what’s the secret? How can we match your self-declared skill in this specific wheelhouse? Simmer down there, I’m going to lay a little wisdom on you all. Ready? Good.

ONE-LISTEN

People tell you what they want or need all the time. Sometimes literally. “I really need a new scarf.” Or “I quite liked the Dune movie, I should read the book.” Maybe, “I’d like to start cooking more.”

All of these are just sitting there, ready to be picked up. Scarf, copy of Dune, cookbook, cooking classes, or a new pot and/or pan. All you had to do was pay attention. It also involves not being self-involved.

Simple and so hard. Even before supply chain problems and the world being on fire, it’s not always easy to not worry about oneself. I’m not advising a Saint’s level of selflessness, just be aware of what’s being said. Here’s an example of this from my own life.

When shopping at a Costco with an old girlfriend, (ah the romance), I looked for those giant cartons of Pepperidge Farms goldfish crackers but they didn’t have them. A mild disappointment at best but I mentioned it to her, then promptly forgot about it.

The next time I was at her place, one of those giant cartons of Pepperidge Farms goldfish crackers awaited me. It was one of the best presents I’ve gotten. It meant that what I said, even in passing, perhaps especially in passing, mattered.

Are we still together? Let’s just say that love and goldfish crackers aren’t a universal solution. Nonetheless, this is the sort of thing to listen for. Whomever you do this for will be touched by your attentiveness. If not, those little crackers will fill the hole left by loneliness. Just kidding. Nothing will fill that hole.

TWO-ASK

Don’t ask the recipient, unless you both don’t care about the surprise. Do ask their friends or family. Often times they can give you excellent insights. Also swear them to secrecy, if you can trust them to do so. Use your best judgment. 

THREE-DON’T WAIT

It’s July, you see a sea glass necklace your sister would just love, but her birthday was two months ago and it’s five months till Christmas. You could make a note to come back later and pick it up close to the holidays. It will still be there, right?

WRONG! Oftentimes, unique gifts will not wait for you to make up your mind. If you know that’s an excellent gift for someone. Get it. If you fumfer, you will likely lose out. Or more accurately, the person who would love that thing loses out. (A side note: Don’t tell them that you saw something that they would adore and but waited too long. In this case, the thought DOES NOT COUNT!)

So as you go through life and you see something that you know will bring someone else joy, just get it, and put it away. When the holidays roll around and everyone else is franticly searching for presents, Jingle All The Way style, you’ll be sitting comfortably in front of a roaring fire, drinking eggnog like a boss, listening to the Vince Guaraldi Trio, and smiling because you’ve done your shopping. Well done!

FOUR-THE PERFECT GIFT

As stated previously, perfection doesn’t exist. However, it’s possible to come close, but it is a real challenge. What is this rare and wonderful item? The thing that you didn’t know you wanted till you saw it.

This is tough to pull off, maybe even impossible. But when you can do it, wow, it’s amazing! Naturally, there is no one thing that can fill that order for everyone. Especially a car with a bow on the roof. If you do that you’re a dead-eyed, soulless monster. Am I planting my flag on this hill? You bet your holly jolly jingle bells I am.

Okay, back to why this is so hard. Say your sweetie collects Peanuts memorabilia. Charlie Brown and Snoopy stuff all over the place. You want to give them something special but it looks like they have everything already. Given their breadth of what they have, it’s a concern. They likely have done daily deep Google dives looking for additions to the collection. What do you do?

Let’s go back to part one. Listen. Did they mention a piece they are looking for? A character they resonate with? Start with that. 

Additionally, you can find a lot of artists who will make something for you to order. A wholly unique gift. It will also show that you’ve been paying attention.

As I said before, it’s tricky at best. Even if it’s not an epiphany in wrapping paper, the fact you made a real effort will be appreciated. In this case, the thought DOES count.

FIVE-WRAPPING UP

So, I’ve given you two solid techniques, one possibly useful trick, and a final aspirational idea. The fact is that being good at gifts isn’t that difficult if you pay attention. Here’s another tip, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do this. The best gifts don’t have to cost a lot of cash. If you have a big budget for gift-giving, good for you. It must be nice. Or so I would imagine.

In the beginning, I said that my being an excellent gift-giver was a fact and one other thing. The other thing is you don’t always get excellent gifts. 

One Christmas, I was given by a close friend, a memo cube. You might ask, “What is a memo cube?” A memo cube is a plastic cube filled with square pieces of paper, for writing down messages. This was not something I ever desired nor was it was something I never knew I wanted. Truthfully, had I given memo cubes even one second of thought, I wouldn’t have ever desired one. Why did he give it to me? I still don’t know.

Just so you don’t think I’m just grousing, I have received many thoughtful gifts over the years. For example, I’m a big fan of robots. A good friend of mine gives me a robot or robot-themed gift for my birthday every year. Clearly, I’m not the only excellent gift giver. A reassuring thought.

So when you go off to shop for the holidays, keep my advice in mind. Those you give to will appreciate it. And if by some twist of fate you come across a memo cube, keep walking.

Read or Write

I love books but I’ve read very little of late. You may be asking, “If you love books, why aren’t you reading them?” A fair question. I will address it in a roundabout manner.

There must be at least a hundred unread ones on my shelves and in various piles about my home. Both my parents loved to read so I have them to thank my deep affection for the written word. Books are, in my opinion, the perfect gift, both to give and receive. The heft, feel and smell of books are intoxicating. Especially, old books.

Used bookstores are rarer and rarer these days. I’m sure it’s due to the rising rents, and the advent of selling books online. In the interest of honesty, I buy books online. Though I miss the thrill of going into a used bookstore, inspecting the shelves, and finding a gem. On the other hand, it’s comforting to be able to find that one volume you were looking for with a bit of typing and clicking search.

Back when the world was… I was about to say normal but what the hell does that even mean? So let’s just say when we could venture outside unmasked and could sit close to each other. In those halcyon days when I went back and forth to my job, I would read on the subway. If I was going to travel anywhere, a book was the first thing I would pack. There was always a book or two in my bag. After all, what if you finished a book and had no other book to read? Unthinkable!

Nowadays I am in between jigs and am unlikely to take any long-distance voyages. With all this copious free time I must be reading nonstop. It is with chagrin I must tell you that I have not. There are two reasons why. Here’s the first.

Media. By which I mean TV and the internet. When you are told not to do something, you instantly want to do it. Such as going out and seeing people. If you’re sensible, you will listen to Doctor Anthony Fauci and mask up, and take all necessary precautions. That still leaves a missing element in your life.

So you watch the news and then when you can’t stand that anymore, you watch everything else. Maybe it’s the hot new show that just started streaming, so when you chat with your friend over Zoom or Discord, you don’t want to be behind the curve. Or maybe you go back to a show that gives you comfort. Consuming episode after episode like a bowl of salty deep-fried treats. BTW, all pre-pandemic shows are now science fiction/fantasy because the characters do fantastical things like go out to eat and hug. Crazy!

The other reason is I was writing. I recently finished a novel called the Arrondissement, you can read it on this site.

https://jenicek.wordpress.com/category/arrondissement/

Am I a shameless self-promoter? Hell yes. If I’m not for me, who will be?

Back to the writing. I started it before the beginning of the pandemic and finished it before it ended. That might say more about the state of the world than my productivity. Nonetheless, I managed to complete a full-length novel, so that’s something.

I began this blog because I had written another novel, Chosen, which you also read on this blog.

https://jenicek.wordpress.com/category/chosen-novel/

See, I told you I’m shameless! Once I put up the last chapter I continued to post every Monday. It is a self-imposed deadline that I have met for the last seven and half years. Sometimes it’s my thoughts on random topics, like why isn’t “Happy as a dog.” an expression? If you’ve owned a dog and come home you know what I mean.

In my past, I’ve spent long stretches without writing, all the while calling myself a writer. I had written so I think I’m in the clear. However, having to post something new every week has made me a better writer. Well, I certainly hope so.

Once, I friend of mine asked me and another writer friend, “How often do we think about what we’re writing?” The answer is “All the time.” I find that before I set pen to paper, or more accurately fingertips to keyboard, there is a lot of musing going on. Or wrestling with demons, depending on the day. Outwardly it looks like I’m just going to the store to get some supplies but inwardly, there’s a lot of stuff going on.

I believe that you cannot write if you do not love to read. Technically you can. I’m not sure it’ll be worth reading. All writers must, in my opinion, have a love of language. Talented writers can paint a picture and invoke deep emotional reactions with an expert application of their vocabulary. Every wordsmith has a voice, some are more pleasant to hear than others. Milage may vary of course.

You might be asking yourself, “Where the hell is he going with all this?” I remind you that I said this would be roundabout. While I used to read on average, a book a week, #humblebrag, my stats have dropped severely. This is not to say I’ve read nothing, just not nearly as much as I used to.

At the end of the day, part of my lack of reading is pure laziness on my part. Damn you golden age of streaming content! But I’ve found myself being more focused on my own writing than others. Which is not terrible for me, but it needs to be addressed by me.

For my birthday, it’s in December in case you missed it, I received a much-anticipated book. Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey, the latest installment in the Sandman Slim series. I’m a big fan of his work and this setting in particular. Did I read it the day I was gifted it? No. I’ve been holding on to it, saving it like an expensive bottle of single malt scotch. Partially because don’t want to inhale it like a bottom shelf whisky while on a bender. I want to savor it like the aforementioned single malt.

However, that is a bit of a lie. I’ve just not been reading as much and I’m the only one who can change that. I started it last night, as of writing this, and I’m enjoying it immensely. If you like hard-driving, rock and roll urban fantasy, check his stuff out. See, I can promote someone else’s work too.

I think if I want to be the best writer I can, I need to read more. Make time for it. I’m never disappointed and if I am, I’ve got plenty more read. Remember, hundreds of unread treasures to open up.

Thank you for reading this. I hope it inspires you to read more if your book count is low. Or maybe to write more. Both are excellent choices. Now back to Ballistic Kiss.

It Begins with Me

My environment as a child never lacked any of the basic needs.  We had lean times, but I slept in a bed at night. I was sheltered from weather.  At 14, I ran away and learned a little about what it means to be homeless — but only a little.  I was more uncomfortable than I had ever been in my life, but help was everywhere.  After a week, I returned home.

Twenty or so years later, I learned about homelessness again…

5 side business to boost your income in 2021

The previous year was not easy at all for most of us. The pandemic made it difficult for most people. Many lost their jobs and source of livelihood. So, to avoid a repeat, panoramic or not. Here are 5 side business to boost your income in 2021. These business are no brainer businesses you can start from your home. All you need is the basic skill set, internet or a smartphone. The basic skill set you may already have developed while doing a 9-5 job. So, it’s time supplement your income with these side businesses.