It’s Horror, what we do for people!

The Golden Girls, Friends, The Odd Couple … they all had one in thing in common, friends!

As I was driving home today from “Scares that Care”, an annual convention which celebrates all things horror related, I was trying to think of the best way to put friends in perspective.

  • Friends are like … oil? Every once in a while you need to check the levels and make sure you have enough. Hmmm … maybe not, too many dipstick jokes.
  • Friends are like … ice? The more you have the cooler you feel. Ummm … no. Friends are not normally cold and melt.
  • Friends are like Oreos? Not even going to complete that thought.

As I sat at the convention this weekend, a worthy cause to raise money for people in need, I was surrounded by new and old friends. Some people I’ve known for years. A few people I got to know this weekend and they quickly became a friend. A couple I only saw once last year and when we got together, it was just like time had never passed.

A bishop, the grim reaper, and a plague doctor walk into a bar …

People who are really into horror are a sort of an unusual lot to figure. You have the people who dress up like demons, monsters, and otherworldly creatures. There are people at the convention who wear t-shirts from other conventions dedicated to monsters and horror. Then you have people walking around in shirts dedicated to things like knitting … cats … and other less threatening activities. You get it all, little ones who love to watch the classics with their parents and can recite line and verse from Goosebumps. Mothers, who are a perennial favorite at their local bake sales and spend their quite moments reading everything they can get their hands on pertaining to real life serial killers. Then you have the grandmas and grandpas who love the genera of horror and walk calmly around the displays, taking it all in.

Everyone has one thing in common they love horror. And, if no one else gets it, essentially they just don’t care. I was talking to one of our neighbors at the next table over about the beauty of horror fans. It comes down to this. We all are essentially lovers of all things horror related and that is what binds those odd-looking people wearing a necklace of human ears, the mother who dressed herself and her one-year-old up like zombies, and the grandparents walking around in slacks and polo shirts.

This year I added tons of new friends to the mix. In addition to the new fans I hopefully gained, I also met Pisay Pao, or Cassandra, of Z-Nation fame. BTW, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She even introduced me to a few of her fans and friends who attend all of her events and they came to my table and visited me. I am glad to add them to my list of casual friends who I hope to see again at another convention.

But, I guess that is how things work. You meet people in real life and the web of friendships grow. All of us joined in our mutual love of all things horror related and a desire to do some good in the world! I’d like to think that, at the end of the day, we accomplished our mission.

My friends, Bryan the Writer is tired

I really don’t like social media. As I’ve said in the past, it is a necessary evil. To be a serious author, you have to have a social presence. If you don’t, there’s no way for your readers connect with you. Gone are the days where an author will write a book behind walls and hardwood doors, never to be seen by the public. That reality, if it ever existed, is nowhere to be seen today.

When I was in England, I was lucky enough to go on a tour of the Globe theater. The Globe theater sits where it was originally. The remains were actually found underneath a nearby parking lot. Presently it is impossible to reconstruct it on the location where it was originally. However, the present day Globe theater is not too far away from the original location. It is then painstakingly reconstructed in the manner what it looked during Shakespeare’s time. It is highly likely Shakespeare would have readily recognized the modern theater he helped to found.

Master of the Globe Theater

The reason I bring up Shakespeare is that he participated in the social media of his day. He not only wrote plays but he was an active contributor to the artist community around him. The Globe theater was not just used for performances, but it was also a place for actors to meet and hone the skills of the trade. Even in Shakespeare’s time it was impossible to hide behind the wall, free from prying eyes.

What makes it more difficult today is that no matter what your stance is on a particular issue, the opposing viewpoint will just assume you’re an idiot for not supporting there’s. I like to think that I am pretty open-minded. I think it’s important to understand the other person’s point of view. I also think it’s very necessary to be able to admit when the other side’s point of view has influenced your own.

I promise you I’m not getting into politics here, but I am reminded of the debate I accidentally found myself in on healthcare. Tricky business, this healthcare. It’s not really easy to fix all of the problems of healthcare. The system itself is gigantic. A one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work because there are nuances which will be problematic. However, allowing healthcare to become the Wild West doesn’t really work either. Too many people would be left in the lurch.

I’m not trying to solve the issue here, just simply point out the problem we have right now is that too many people are talking at each other instead of to each other. This problem is exacerbated by social media. We can just throw our opinions out there for the world to see and never check that post ever again if we don’t want to. The other side can do the same and no one ever really communicates.

I guess, if you boil down this blog, I will submit to you that it would be great if we all could just stop posting to Facebook for a while. With the time we’ve saved, not posting inflammatory comments pointed at the other side, we could talk. Just sit and talk.

Maybe over a cup of coffee, glass of wine, mug of beer, flagon of ale, snifter of brandy or any other type of beverage you prefer.

My friends, Bryan the Writer is tired. I’m tired of the arguments. I’m tired of too many people talking and no one listening. The idea that the conservatives have the right answer or the liberals have the right answer is ridiculous and foolhardy. No one has the answer; however, I’m convinced we, collectively, as American’s do have the answer.

We are not a cold and heartless lot. We are also not mindless Socialists who let the government control everything. The answer lies somewhere in the middle. Pray some enlightened person finds the answer.

– Your Humble Servant


Review: Helter Skelter; The True Story of The Manson Murders

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson MurdersHelter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vincent Bugliosi said it best, “… The singularity of Manson’s evil and the particular brand of demonic murders he authored have not again been inflicted upon our nation. We can only hope that the ensuing years will be the same.” He wrote those words in June 1994. It appears in the afterword of the currently available version of “Helter Skelter”.

We continue as a society to be fascinated by the actions of Charles Manson and his followers, who are collectively known as ‘The Family’. And who better to tell that story than prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi himself? Although Vincent himself has passed away, his story lives on. In my humble opinion, works like “helter-skelter” are absolutely important to the future of society as a whole. As my mother would say, those who failed to observe the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. Although, I’m sure she took that quote from someone else.

Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor in the Manson trial, does an excellent job laying out for the reader all of the important elements of the crime, the prosecution, and the defense’s actions during that famous trial. You cannot separate an understanding of Charles Manson and an understanding of the trial. The two are inseparable. The vivid descriptions of the witnesses, crime scenes, evidence, and the courtroom drama served to encapsulate one of the longest and most expensive trials to ever take place in US history.

I would argue that without Mr. Bugliosi’s book, a gaping hole in the recollections and recounting of the Manson trial would exist. We would also lose a haunting look at the mind of a madman and those who would unquestioningly follow him.

Truth in advertising, I’m an author who writes about serial killers. Because of this, the studies of the most infamous killers of the world is an important aspect of what I do. No serious study of violent crime in the US would be complete without looking at Charles Manson and The Family.

They say that time heals all wounds. However, I don’t think the nation ever completely recovered from the wounds inflicted by Charles Manson and his followers. We still seem to be just as fascinated today with what happened on those two days back in 1969 as the nation was during the time of the trial. I’m not sure if that’s a testament to our love of the macabre or fascination with courtroom drama.

For anyone interested in Charles Manson and the events surrounding the Tate and LaBianca murders, “Helter Skelter” is a must-read. I found it to be well-written and chock full of detail that no movie could ever quite cover as well is Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry did.

-Your Humble Servant


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The Lesser Sin, by D.B. Corey

The Lesser SinThe Lesser Sin by D.B. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit, I love a deeply conflicted and morally ambiguous hero. One who you know you shouldn’t really root for, but can’t help yourself. D.B. Cory gives us one such hero in the form of Hanna Braver. A sniper who forged her warrior prowess in the fields of Afghanistan, only to return to a pretty screwed up world, which sees the torture and death of her sister.

“The Lesser Sin” is a complicated story and really sets itself up to be a sequel from the first half of the book. Aside from Hanna’s dogged pursuit of the man who killed her sister, you are also presented with Cole, her CIA handler who has more skeletons in his closet than one can count. We don’t know the true nature of those skeletons, but get the sense D.B is going to give us a glimpse of that in the next book.

If there is one thing I would caution you about is that there are a couple of places where I felt the police procedure end of things were a little weak. For example, there were a few places where I thought the character of Detective Finn would have acted differently in the real world. However, I will also point out that I also have a background in law enforcement, so I look at these things with a critical eye.

However, “The Lesser Sin” has the one thing that I love to see in a novel. Characters I can care about. I find myself concerned for Hanna’s safety, disliking Cole, and not being entirely sure how I feel about Sonja. I get the impression, D.B. meant for me to have mixed feeling about Sonja at the end of the book. I kind of like her, but feel like she has something up her sleeve.

“The Lesser Sin” is overall a great ride and well worth the trip. I can highly recommend it to all my readers who like a good dark thriller.

-Your Humble Servant,

Bryan the Writer

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Be Positive … Or Not

Dreams are funny things. As parents, we tell our children they can be anything. The untapped potential of the newborn baby could be driven in a myriad of different ways. That new child in your hands could be the president, famous actor, captain of industry, or just about anything. As adults, we know that isn’t necessarily true for ourselves. We’ve long since exhausted the span of possibilities and have narrowed it down to just a few small hopes and dreams.

But that isn’t to say our dreams aren’t important. You can have dreams as short lived as wanting to run a 5k. With a good month’s time, running a 5k is very doable. Becoming a better cook by taking classes at the local community college is totally within the realm of what is accomplished as an adult. However, if you are going to have the dream to climb to the top of Mount Everest or obtain your own reality television show on the cooking channel, you are not likely going to be able to do that in the next few months and likely not in the next few years.

When you start out as an author, it is better to start in bite sized chunks rather than simply trying to sit down and punch out a 50,000 word novel. Even having three novels under my belt, I still set a goal of only about 1,000 – 2,000 words a session. Some people, professionals, will tell you that is actually quite a bit and I am pushing myself too hard to make content. There are some authors who’ll tell you that’s a mere drop in the bucket and I need to push harder. Ultimately, the decision of how much or how little to write is completely up to you.

Starting out, always keep in mind the following

  • Write for the love of writing
  • No one ever creates gold spun brilliance every time they sit down at the keyboard; even the masters have editors
  • No one is going to knock on your door and give you a million dollar publishing contract, that doesn’t happen
  • It may be ten years, or more, before you break even in this business
  • Don’t obsess over the things you aren’t good at, focus on the things you are
  • Live every day for forward momentum
Be Positive or Not

I can’t tell non-writers how easy it is to slip into a pit of despair over the progress of your writing career. They would not understand. It’s up and down … then up and down again. When you are convinced it has all ended and there is no way your life will ever have any meaning. Boom—like a shot in the dark, you’re back on top again when someone you admire notices your work.

I am miles away from being where I want to be, as a writer, but I try to keep in mind the advice of my editor. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Slow and steady wins it over time. I focus on my goal and then set new ones as needed.

What I am trying to tell you all is that it is not easy and some days I am a little harder on myself than I intend to be; just like Hemmingway or Poe. I guess that is just all part of wearing the plumed hat of an author so don’t be too hard on yourselves and don’t give up.

-Your Humble Servant,