Playing with your fears!

I don’t believe anyone can conquer their own fears. Don’t believe me? Go back and re-read your favorite horror story or watch a beloved horror movie. Tell me you don’t feel a slight twinge of panic before the maniac chops his way through the door or saws one of the characters in half. Go ahead … tell me that. You can’t; can you?

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That’s me about 45′ down!

As a child, I feared the water and the dark. Recently I was reminded of both fears when I was peering into a pitch black, twenty-foot hole where I was already about thirty feet under water. We were going to the bottom, fifty-two feet below the surface. It was dark … it was watery. Deep in my heart I felt a flutter as the child inside of me thought about the range of sea (in this case fresh-water spring) monsters could be living down there. With excitement, I pushed over the edge and made my way to the bottom.

The truth is that I never got over my fear of the water or the dark. However, I did learn to live with them. That’s right, I learned to grab them by the hands and skip off with them to play in the fields of my imagination. No one ever learns to really conquer their fears.

It took me a while to learn to deal with my fear of water. I did eventually learn to swim and because I was so terrified I learned to swim very well. Today, I’m proud to say that I’m a very strong swimmer. I became so comfortable in the water I became a certified SCUBA diver and have around one-hundred dives under my belt. Not too shabby for a scaredy-cat like me.

This week I took my son to a place called, Devil’s Den Spring. I was there last in 1992 and it was a cherished memory. This week, I took my son to the same spring and we went diving. It was a cinch my son would become not only a strong swimmer, but also fall in love with SCUBA diving.

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Just like his daddy!

As I got older I found my fears changing to center more on my children. Will they be alright? Did I raise them well? Are they on the right course for them? Compared to my fear of water and the dark seem miniscule.

I suppose life is full of fears and there are no ways around them. Maybe you just have to grab them by the hands and lead them off to the playground for a while. Maybe you won’t conquer them, maybe you can learn to play well with them at least.

Happy New Year Everyone!

-Your Humble Servant

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Merry Christmas from Bryan the Writer

2016 has been a fascinating year. I would argue, at least from my perspective, it has been a great one. In addition to going to a bunch of book fairs, I also met some wonderful people. I love meeting readers, other authors, editors, and publishers. They are great to get to know. Not only does it make me a better author, but the tales that people tell are fascinating. Meeting other people in the business is always fun and educational.

I am greatly looking forward to 2017 which will see my new book being launched and who knows how many other things will happen. I certainly look forward to finding out! Stay tuned.

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Best part about an artificial tree … no wildlife!

As for me and my family, we are spending Christmas at home. My children and I are taking a road trip to Florida. My wife must stay home to work, but hopefully we can make another trip south to do some SCUBA diving this spring. I think we want to get away for a week at some point. At the very least, to spend some time laying on the beach.

From my family to yours, I want to wish you the Merriest of Christmas and the Happiest of New Years. May 2017 shine blessings onto all of you. And once again, thank you so much for participating on the journey of Bryan the Writer!

-Your Humble (and Merriest) of Servant,

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BTK is a Great Read

Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next DoorBind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next Door by Roy Wenzl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The odds of being killed by a serial killer are impossibly small. You are more likely to be killed in an airplane crash than be killed by a serial killer. However, that doesn’t stop it from being a subject of fascination with American society.

Dennis Rader is a serial killer. Granted, he didn’t wrack up the numbers of other serial killers, but that doesn’t change what he did. It’s also of little consequence to the families of his victims whether that number is one or a thousand. Like other serial killers, there is a sick element to the story that can be hard to conceptualize for most of us. There are other parts of the story which will make you want to turn away, but it is all handled masterfully in this work. Bind, Torture, Kill: The Inside Story of BTK, the Serial Killer Next Door does an excellent job of chronicling the story behind a dark episode in Wichita history.

Well written, and well researched, this book holds a rare glimpse into the life of Dennis Rader. It really does mesh both the perspective of Dennis Rader and what the victims likely saw that day. It was easy for me to visualize what was happening while reading the book and I think it does a nice job trying to help understand the events.

I’m an author myself and I write horror so I do appreciate the element of psychoanalysis included in this work. It is almost impossible to really understand someone like this, but I like the inclusion of some theory provided within the framework of the book. It offers some theories which could be applied, in part or in whole, to other serial killers out there.

I also really enjoyed the fact that when I came to the conclusion I was able to go to YouTube and look up the confessions and statement Dennis Rader made at sentencing. It was really helpful to read the book and then go back to the videos to see them.

There is no way to understand a man like Dennis Rader. Those who believe in religion of any sort might explain it as a demon. He is pure egocentric psycho in a way few people have ever been. One of those people who simply cannot be let out of prison, he has nonetheless left an indelible mark on the world.

I highly recommend this work to anyone interested in knowing more about BTK and how he was finally captured.

-Your Humble Servant

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Accepting the Unacceptable

I love this time of the year. Every year there is a verse from the Gospel read that I completely love. It is Matthew 3:1-12. Now, I am not going to get all Christian on you here, but it has a lot to do with how you deal with editorial comments. So, stick with me!

That passage introduces us to John the Baptist. I love him. He comes out of the mountains, a wild man, wearing camel hair, and leather belt. He lived on locusts and honey. Picture this guy for a second. I see a man who has honey and locusts stuck to his beard and comes down from the hills screaming about someone who is coming after him who he’s not fit to tie the sandals of. Pretty cool.

He’s talking of all those things that make us Christians feel squeamish. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath and come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” So, what John was doing here was telling the truth of the coming of Christ. Whether you believe or not is irrelevant. Within the context of the Bible, that is what he was doing. And you know what? People hated to hear it. Just as the Christians today hate to hear these words because they remind us we all need to do a far sight better than we do.

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Look, an editor coming down the mountain with ‘suggestions’.

So, what does this have to do with writers and writing in general. We can take a lesson from this if we look at our editors this way. They come down from the mountains (okay, maybe apartment buildings) and tell us things we really don’t want to hear. Some of it is easy to hear … but a lot of it is hard to listen to.

No one wants to hear from another person that the thing you poured your blood sweat and tears into for the last year has a gaping plot hole or, in my case, I totally overused pronouns and really need to go back and think about their usage a little more.

Worse yet, it’s hard to accept that magic didn’t fly from your fingertips and every paragraph is as beautiful as spun silk.

And sometimes, even if you are completely in love with the work you have put down on the paper, you hear from people that what you wrote is just complete garbage. Your beta readers and your editor will be the ones to tell you that. And it will sting!

It is going to hurt and you are going to want to kick things. But, such is life.

What do you do when it all looks dire? Simple really. Get up, dust off your chaps, and get back on that horse. You may not like it, but the work won’t get done unless you do it. I recently heard a holocaust survivor talk about what things were like in his time at a concentration camp. He really had an amazing story to share. But what was fascinating is that he reminded the children in our congregation that they had to take control of their lives and make it their own. Make yourself into who you want to be, because you have that chance. As a teen, he never got that chance.

I want to be a full-time author. So, as much as feedback can hurt, I’m going to do it. Ultimately, it’ll make me a better writer. As John the Baptist came down from the mountains to try and make us all better Christians, my editor comes down from a one bedroom apartment wearing a terrycloth bathrobe to speak the truth to me. At least, that is how I envision it.

-Your Humble Servant,

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