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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Last Day to Get Dwarves Can't Climb Trees Free

Happy St. Patrick's Day. Today's your last day to get Dwarves Can't Climb Trees on your kindle for Free. Free. Free. FREE!

Come on, man. All I want is for people to read my stuff. It's not a long thing, it's just a novella. 33,000 words or so. That's not much committment, is it? Come on, make a guy feel good.

If you don't, you'll make this puppy sad. You don't want a sad puppy, do you? What are you, a communist?

I'm sorry, I didn't mean that communist bit. I was being insensitive. But, please, just pick up a copy. It won't cost you anything.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Get My Free Book - Dwarves Can't Climb Trees

For St. Patrick's Day (the only other holiday involving short people is Christmas, and that's its whole other kettle of fish), I'm offering Dwarves Can't Climb Trees for free.

Here are some fun facts about dwarves from my book.
  • Dwarves are an egalitarian society of warriors, miners, and craftsmen.
  • There are six kingdoms/regions. One is in a cold, glacier region. Another is near an active fissure vent that the citizens have to tunnel around to prevent eruption
  • The one in this book takes place in Oakhaven, which is a tall mountain with a lot of snow. In summer, the snow melts and funnels into a river full of meltwater that's extremely cold. 
  • The three things dwarves value most are family, trust, and justice/vengeance.
  • Dwarves tend to lack imagination, but love boasting and telling tall tales around a fire or pub hearth.
  • Dwarf hair, for both genders, is usually worn long. Dwarven men spend considerable effort growing, maintaining, and embellishing their long beards (a trait they have in common with mermaids, ironically). Most decorations serve function over style, but they are never plain. Many represent small trophies of battle or objects associated with significant life events.
  • Stopping a forge fire is like stopping someone's heart. You can bring it back up again, but it's never the same. A new fire is like a child--impulsive, full of highs and lows, not tempered at all, goes one way or another without reason. But an old forge fire you can trust. It knows how to burn. It has experience. It's seen metal, knows its taste. A forge is the heart of a smithy, and a smithy's the heart of a dwarven town. 
  • "Dwarven women are like a good hammer. Always ready for work, and just as able to smash a head as hammer a sword." (common saying)
  • Dwarven foods commonly involve mushrooms, gourds, or other root vegetables. Bread is made from lichen flour. They commonly consume stews, meats, cheese, and of course, beer. Salt's a very popular seasoning.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

You Can Get a Sweet Novella for Free Right Now

Have you hugged your book today? Don't have one to hug? Try one of mine!

You have until St. Patrick's Day to pick up my free book. But act now, these deals won't last forever. After March 17th, the price goes back up to the unaffordable cost of $0.99. Only the 1% will be able to afford it, but you have this unique opportunity.

Here are some pictures that inspired the book:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Dwarves Can't Climb Trees - FREE

In case you didn't see it yesterday, there's a Kindle promotion going on until St. Patrick's Day that Dwarves Can't Climb Trees is free. Buy and review!

Oh, need a summary? Here you go.
Vala has never been like the other dwarves. She's stubborn, outspoken, and a farmer--a necessary but lowborn occupation among the gem-harvesting miners. And in all likelihood, she'll end up married to some dull plowman or as a spinster outcast.

Every year, young dwarves congregate in a distant valley, mix & mingle, and find someone to marry. Some return with a fine wealthy companion, others with a dull plowman. But the only way Vala can stand out is a good first impression. That means arriving before anyone else does.

But leaving early means losing the help of her clan, risking icy rivers, beasts of prey, and bandits. She and her few friends decide the risk is worth it. But they may have less to fear from the unbeaten path than the harsh truths about each other.
Here's the link! The cover! The excitement! The merriment! The beer!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Free Book! - Dwarves Can't Climb Trees

Dwarves Can't Climb Trees is now on a five-day promotion until St. Patrick's Day (because leprechauns are as close as we get to having a holiday for dwarves).

That means you can get it for FREE. I mean, the book was only 99 cents before, but it being FREE means you don't even have to pay tax. Here are some other things that are free.

The love of a child
Clean teeth
The common cold
A library card
Most cardboard boxes
A stick
Pre-chewed gum
Bad poetry
Game of Thrones spoilers
True love's first kiss
A monkey
... and much, much more.

So you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Hey, at the least you can fill out your virtual bookshelf without taking up much space.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

My Kindertrauma: The Poison Cackler

The first thing I remember being scared of was the Poison Cackler from Fraggle Rock. 

Early in life, we all learn what death is. The raccoon laying on the road shoulder. The crushed ant doesn't move anymore. The grandfather laying in the casket and he looks so strange, unnaturally still, kinda plasticky. And as a child, you know of only a few things that cause death--being old, an unfortunate disease, extreme bodily trauma, and poison.

Poison is the scariest of these because it's the least predictable. It works fast, and it could come from anywhere--an apple, a sword, a battle of wits with a Sicilian. But most of all, all the animals with poison--spiders, scorpions, tree frogs, and snakes. God forbid you get bit by a snake. According to all those books with "fun facts" meant to appeal to boys, a bite from a rattlesnake will kill you in fifteen minutes. And it turns your leg huge and purple. And there you are, lying in the sun, dying, with fifteen minutes to live.

That's the poison part of the Poison Cackler. The "cackler" part is just the misophonic icing on the cake. I didn't know what a "cackler" was, but it sounded bad, with it's sharp K's, like the word "crack". And the -er suffice being an implication that it was an agent of this "cackle". Even today I don't associate a "cackler" with laughter. I associate it with immediate and painful death.

But the scariest part is you never see the monster. Even though it only showed up in only one episode, I have memories of it being mentioned continuously, which added to its prophetic threat. Recurring allies like Uncle Travelling Matt, Sidebottom, and Convincing John. These were powerful oracles. So powerful they couldn't stay next to our hero's sides (that would make things too easy). Therefore, if there was an evil recurring character, it must be really bad. 

Now that the build-up is out of the way, look at this thing. It looks like someone asked H.P. Lovecraft to design a Muppet. It's like a crab fucked a scorpion sideways. After being hinted at, it only appears visually in the second season episode "The Wizards of Waverly Place of Fraggle Rock". That's where Wembley switches places with a doppelganger wizard to get a taste of fame. (Like lots of children's shows, you can tell them apart easily by the eyes and voice, but everyone else in the world is oblivious of these easily observed features) But the wizard does it to escape a Poison Cackler who's been pursuing him. Oh great, not only are they deadly monsters, but they have vendettas.

They never attack the same place twice. They were testing the fences for weaknesses, systematically. They remember.
The first time you see it is from this view. It's crawling through the caverns, holding up the flyermaking some kind of noise that sounds like shub-niggurath is really enjoying a donut. It sounds like he's gonna orgasm if he gets his hands on the wizard. What did this guy do to him? It doesn't help that the Poison Cackler's theme is this ethereal heavy metal guitar riff straight of Ozzy Osbourne's nightmare band.

Wembley gets a fake beard glued to him that he can't get off, so when he realizes the wizard flim-flammed him in the interest of self-preservation, the crux of the episode becomes being trapped in an identity that's not your own and no one will believe you. Oh, and also escaping the relentless unkillable thing-that-should-not-be (a la Friday the 13th). 

The cackler corners the two of them. Oh great, add being trapped to that list of childhood fears. But it turns out the cackler is attracted to the wizard's smoke pellets. They bait the monster and lead it to fall down a pit. Oh double great, falling and being trapped in a pit and never being able to get out. Let's just keep adding on the trauma.

Here's a thing that doesn't help--when your Mom signs you up for a Fraggle Rock "book of the month" club and one of them is "Gobo Fraggle and the Poison Cackler" with one of the scariest pictures young me remembers seeing.

I can't find the image, but it was essentially a gigantic mouth. Like it seems to go on further than it possibly should, like a pocket dimension. Forget the fact it's Red Fraggle holding something up, and you can see her fingers. Forget that it looks nothing like it looked in the show.

The plot doesn't help either, even though it's all a farce. To get Gobo out of the rock so they can plan for his birthday party, they send him on a quest to kill the Poison Cackler looking for him (it's like imprinting, but for death). I think it even includes the line "you know what they say about Poison Cacklers--they never forgive and they never forget". It's like the pre-pubescent version of "It Follows".

When I die, it's going to be the Poison Cackler standing there, not the grim reaper. It's the most base personification of death that roots down to my soul.

Monday, February 26, 2018

February Failed

I'm not feeling too proud of myself right now. I tried to do a sober February and failed less than halfway through.

December is usually rough with all the social events, but it seems to be getting worse each year. What I mean is I'm getting worse each year. I just want to crawl into a ball and not put on that social disguise anymore. No one seems sincere, no one talks about anything but themselves. January hasn't been too keen either with the cold weather and post-holiday letdown.

I used to like the cold, but either these Minnesota winters are getting worse or I'm getting less tolerant in my age. Seems like my mental state's turned 180 since I became 35. My attitude is now "yeah, I could, but I don't want to." I'm avoiding more discomfort than pain. I went from thinking young to thinking old.

The house fever is putting me in a rut of a rut. Probably everyone around is feeling it too, because the kids are fighting more, being whiny and resistant. And I need not mention how this past year nationally has been a dumpster fire in a dumpster fire.

All of this results in me drinking more. My wife's worried about it because I'm not a social drinker -- I drink to get drunk. And it's getting harder to consume enough to get to that state without A) getting full or B) drinking high potency stuff. I carry a bottle wine of like it's a pint of beer.

I drink for the sensation of not being so tightly wound. Because when shit's going down, I can relax and not think so much. The world isn't closing in on me. I'm not burdened by judgment (self or otherwise) or embarrassment. It quiets the intrusive thoughts and the yapping brain.

So I tried to make February a sober month -- no drinking, no beer, wine, cocktails, anything, just to prove that I could. I have a history of alcoholism in my grandparents on both sides, but neither of my parents. So it's possible I don't have the gene, but just in case...

Not to mention my doctor keeps mentioning elevated "liver levels" every time I have a check-up, but never says what that means. I had to start taking blood pressure medication, but I'm not sure if alcohol's the sole cause of that. I did this once for Lent (even though I'm not Catholic) and I didn't tell anyone. This was for myself, just to prove that I could. But something in February broke me.

Besides the winter, the family getting on each other's nerves*, I started the month getting a bad cough, brought home by my wife from her new job at the elementary school. It got so bad I had to work from home for two days.

*It's like I don't know how to play with my kids anymore, since they passed eight years old. I don't want them to get too much video games or TV. But no one wants to do the things I want (like board games and RPGs) and I don't want to do the things they want (build Legos and play with toys... however it is nine-year-olds play). Everytime it's like when I was teenager: "Do you want to do something?" "Sure, what do you want to do?" "I don't know." "How about we do this?" "Nah." "Or this?" "Nah."😬

But just when I was getting better, she sprains her Achilles tendon while shoveling her parents driveway. I had to drive her to the emergency room. And the next day was supposed to be our ski vacation--had to cancel that. She can't move much at all. Only now, two weeks later, she's able to walk without crutches or a boot. So I've got to help her out, and on top of that she gets the cough I had, so sleeping isn't better. She can sprint like a ninety-year-old grandma and she's still hoping to go skiing in March.

Then there was the school shooting in Florida. And finally, I just said, "Fuck it. What does it matter? What does any of it matter? A child molester can run for senate and you still have to fight your ass off to stop him and he still gets a good chunk of the vote. No one uses evidence any more. Character witnesses don't matter. Just say you didn't do it. Just get people to say "I believe him, cause he says he didn't do it." Good people on both sides and all that. Fuck it. Do what you want. No one cares. Sure, just don't sign bills that were passed. No consequences for that. No one's accountable. Police aren't. Politicians aren't. Entertainers aren't. Doctors aren't. Burn it all down now and save some trouble."

I'm not even talking about this presidency. Sure, most of the bad policies have been able to be stopped (DACA, Muslim bans, a border wall), but gun regulation has been a problem well before any of this. I was a senior in high school when Columbine happened. Almost twenty years later and nothing's been done about it. Twenty-eight people shot in an elementary school, and senators STILL said no to the most no-brainer gun control. They weren't even hiding it anymore. Congress decided the NRA's financial support is worth a few dozen dead kids every year, like Hinzelmann in American Gods.

So then I thought maybe, okay, one day of weakness can be forgiven. It's not like I'm doing this for anyone but myself. But nope. Then my grandfather died. Not too surprising -- he was 86 -- but still, it doesn't make a body feel good. I wasn't very close with him in this past decade--they live in a cabin up north and age has steadily prevented them from visiting. He'll be cremated -- no funeral -- because all his family is either dead or too far away. Which is kind of a shame, because I don't know much about my grandfather's family -- he was the most closed book of my grandparents. And a funeral helps the healing process.

He's where I got my baldness gene from. When I was little he would call Big Bird "Big Chicken", which would annoy me in the way that five-year-olds get annoyed when old people are funnin' them. And he had this gorilla ashtray in the basement (a two-foot high ceramic statue of a gorilla holding up an ashtray), and he'd put his finger in the gorilla's mouth and pretend it was getting bitten. And that scared the fuck out of me. I kept about an eight-foot distance from that thing until I was ten. Kinda wish I had it now.

So all that's happened in this new year is adjusting to this new misery. I once tried adding some anti-depressants to my anti-anxiety meds, but they gave me nightmares and weird sleeping patterns and didn't make me happier. But I think I'm going to try it again. I don't know how I can live this miserably without taking some action. I can't feel joy anymore. I don't laugh. I don't get scared. Not even work can give me satisfaction anymore, because they don't give me anything to do.