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4

Lifting

As a writer, you have to portray every kind of emotion, from the darkest hate to the brightest joy. And just like anything else, the more you do it the better you get, learning through experience. But there’s another process that happens at the same time. Using a muscle over and over doesn’t just build a skill, it builds the muscle itself. You don’t just become better, you become stronger. I realized, not too long ago, that I can use this principle in my own life. Specifically, in dealing with grief. I’ve lost a lot in the last three years. And the weight of that loss, when I think about it, is crushing. So I do what we all do—I try not to think about it. I distract myself with writing, reading, watching Netflix, socializing with friends. But you can’t do that forever; sooner or later it’s just you and your thoughts. And sometimes those thoughts seem intent on kicking the crap out of you. I’m not talking about the negative, self-destructive ones that whisper about how you’re not good enough and you’re going to die alone. That’s a whole different fight. No, I’m talking about the ones that can’t be fought, because they’re true. They’re simple, undeniable facts: Your father is dead. Your marriage is over. You are no longer a young man. These thoughts don’t attack; they just sit on your chest and make it hard to breathe. But here’s the thing. You take a heavy weight and let it rest on your chest, and at first it just hurts. But you do that day after day—on purpose—and you let that weight sit there a little longer each time, and slowly you get used to it. The pain doesn’t lessen, but how you deal with it does. So that’s what I’m doing. Emotional weightlifting. Deliberately letting myself feel that pain instead of avoiding it. Just a bit at a time, whenever I have the strength. Because while grieving is always painful, that pain can be managed. And hopefully, in the end, it’ll make me stronger.
2

Operation Recharge

The plan for this summer to was recharge—emotionally, physically, and creatively—and I’m happy to report that things are going well. I’ve spent the last ten days or so in the beautiful Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island with relatives, hanging out and getting back into the groove of writing. I’ve dipped my toe into a few different projects, and am slowly but surely re-establishing a routine. Physically, I’m feeling pretty healthy, though fatigue is still a factor. Emotionally, I’m still healing, but being surrounded by people that love me is doing me a world of good. Creatively, I’m finding that the project that I’m most excited by is my webcomic, CROSSOVER; I’m going to post over at collaborativecomics.com on how that’s going and put up a few images. Hopefully, the fall will see me tackling prose fiction again. BTW, local legend has it that there’s a Cowichan tribe that intermarried with a race of Thunderbirds, a detail I use in my Whiskey, Tango and Foxtrot mysteries, (written as Dixie Lyle). So maybe this recharge has a little lightning to it—I swear I saw a spark in the eye of my barista at the local café . . .
5

Toldja I'd be back

Hey, look at that! Another new post and it’s only been a few days. Geez, this fresh air must agree with me . . . I’m in beautiful Victoria, on Vancouver Island, enjoying a few days away and visiting friends and family. Basically taking the summer to recharge creatively and tentatively begin to write again. Still experiencing some fatigue and mental fogginess, but it’s not too bad. I’ve started the ball rolling on a few projects and we’ll see what happens. First, I contacted my agent, to see about getting a few of my older books released as e-books. Once that happens, I’ll be doing some giveaways--either of entire book or possibly just posting a few chapters for free. What do you think? The other project is a screenplay I did a while back; the director and I are kicking it around and seeing how we can make it better. I’ll let you know how it goes. Anybody out there know a good producer in LA who might want to make a film about a murder at Burning Man? Also, I refuse to let my webcomic project, CROSSOVER, die. Once launched, it’ll promote not just my older stuff but artistic projects from my readers themselves: if you do something creative, I’ll try to find a way to collaborate with you and promote your stuff. And it won’t cost you a cent, I promise—this isn’t one of those “do a bunch of work and get paid in exposure” scams. I want to take cool stuff people have already done and drive traffic to their website—but really, if you want to know more about the project, go check out collaborativecomics.com for my latest post. It even has some news about a certain FBI profiler . . . Anyway, I don’t just want to blather on about what I’m doing—I’m interested in feedback. So go ahead, ask me anything—EXCEPT THAT ONE QUESTION. You know which one. First person to ask will get personally berated by JV herself. You have been warned.
20
July 12, 2017Posted by Don in Personal

HEY, IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?

So. I haven’t posted much of anything since 2014. Three years. Three, frankly, of the worst years of my life. Let’s see if I can break ‘em down (Lord knows they did their best to break me down) to a few bullet points: 1) I got sick. Fibromyalgia. Drained of all energy and unable to concentrate, I spent most of my time in bed. I was forced to stop writing. 2) My dad got cancer. He died earlier this year. I sorted through every paper he ever owned, decided to what to keep and what to throw away, and helped my mom move to a new place. 3) At the height of my illness and just before my dad died, my wife left me. There was no big drama, no cheating or drug abuse or anything like that—she just thought we had nothing in common any more. Or maybe she just got tired of living with someone who was sick all the time. 4) So, I lost my wife, my work, my dad and my home. But wait, there’s more! (Those of you who are becoming depressed, feel free to skip ahead.) Turns out that fibromyalgia is triggered by many different foods and substances, so I had to give up caffeine, alcohol, and so many different foods that I basically stopped eating in restaurants. My wife and son are vegetarian, and I could no longer eat soy or beans or most nuts, so I stopped eating with them. I was pretty low. But I refused to give up--I came up with a plan, and I followed through. My health has improved to the point where I can function again. I’m living in a new place. I’m ready, finally, to get back to writing. And I thought I’d start here. Telling my readers where I’ve been and why I’ve been gone. Documenting some of my journey as a way of getting back to the writing life, and telling people what I’m planning on working on. Hopefully, I’ll even get a little encouragement—though I’ve been away for so long I don’t know if any of my fans are still out there. Maybe I’ll just wind up writing for myself . . . which is fine. It’s how I started out, after all. This is my first post, but I’ll do my best not to make it my last. How’s everyone doing out there?
0

Cons

I have a new post up at collaborativecomics.com. It concerns me, drinking, conversations, and conversations I have had while drinking. It does not feature convicts, concierges, or Connecticut.
2

New Dixie Lyle

Wow. Man, am I disorganized. Just realized my latest Dixie Lyle book, TO DIE FUR, came out FOUR DAYS AGO and I'm just now noticing. So, uh, here it is. (oh, and I think the e-version of the first one is still on sale until Sept. 1 for around three bucks.)
2

Webcomic!

Hey, everyone. First of all, I want to apologize for leaving everyone hanging. The thing is, I'm not done with Jace--I just wanted to branch out and do a few other projects I was excited about. One of them, the WHISKEY, TANGO AND FOXTROT MYSTERIES, (with me writing as Dixie Lyle) has been a lot of fun and let me be really, really goofy. The first three books are done, and now I'm concentrating on putting together a webcomic with the amazing Deni Loubert, a multitalented woman whose list of accomplishments is too long to go into here. Both of us will be blogging regularly about the process over at collaborativecomics.com, and it would be nice if people dropped by to say hello. CROSSOVER will be a very interactive project, and even people who don't know a thing about comics can participate. Also, since it's about a multiversal bar, we plan on having a lot of guest stars. The very first one will be a cynical NSA agent who was last seen trying to make a very important personal decision . . . Want to see more Jace? Drop on by collaborativecomics.com and join the conversation.
2

Somewhat Big Announcement

I have a confession to make. No, it's not about that time in the hot tub, with the thing and the other thing. No, it's not about my addiction to old episodes of Mr. Dressup. It's not even about (redacted), because I'm waiting for the statute of limitations to run out on that one. It's that. . . I'm a Southern Belle. In a (mostly) literary way, I mean. I've never even been to Atlanta, let alone set it on fire. I rarely have affairs with handsome vampires, and I'm not all that fond of mint juleps. However. I am, in some circles, known as Dixie. Dixie Lyle, to be precise. And I have been known to write the occasional light-hearted paranormal mystery (well, paranormal cozy, to be honest) featuring witty banter amongst quirky characters, some of whom may be dead. Or talking animals. Or dead talking animals. I've been told the books are quite funny, usually after I buy the person in question a number of drinks. What's that? Oh, yes, it's a series: The Whisky, Tango and Foxtrot Mysteries. WTF for short, though I get the oddest looks when I mention that. The first one, A TASTE FUR MURDER, is doing quite well. If you'd like to check it out, the Kindle edition is on sale for the special price of $3.25, for the month of August only. It's a great beach read, but who reads e-books at the beach? Splurge and buy the print edition if you're going to go lie in the sun. Or get it from the library, I'm sure they have lots. Hmmm. I'm not very good at this promotion thing, am I? Oh, who cares. Just read, hopefully enjoy, and let me know what you think. Ta.
0

Can it be? A new post at last?

Um, no. But here is a terrific guest post by the talented Alex C. Hughes: The author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, she's lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a Semi-Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novels 2011. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily at the same time! You can visit her at Twitter at @ahugheswriter or on the web at http://www.ahugheswriter.com. Or, join her email newsletter for free short stories at http://www.ahugheswriter.com/email-signup. Survival Guide: Being Buried Alive (the Unlikely Edition) A blog post by Alex Hughes Recently I was asked by a lovely online friend how to survive being buried alive. I’m not sure why I was the right choice for an expert on this topic (surely there’s a hotline out there somewhere), but after much thought, here’s what I have. 1. The Action Movie solution: If it’s your job to be buried alive, first assemble a large team of motivated competent people and scatter them throughout the city you’ll be buried in. Ideally, obtain government resources to ensure they find you quickly. I’d recommend a satellite transmitter strong enough to punch through five feet of earth. If possible, obtain a small rebreather kit and/or scuba tank with mask. Bonus points for training by a guru on how to breathe taking up less oxygen. --Once you are buried, wait. Be patient, and use the time to catch up on your existential thinking. Do not struggle or panic, as this uses up oxygen too quickly. Trust your extremely competent team and the quiet beeping of your tracking device. --During the rescue: meditate, or chant 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall to yourself. Knock on the coffin occasionally to ensure they’re digging in the right direction. Remain calm. --Once you are rescued: buy your team presents. Do not object to any bruising caused by shovels. Say thank you early and often. Then, take some time off. Obtain good therapist. Find new job. 2. The Vampire Movie solution: If you know that the evil vampire nation is planning to bury you alive, plan ahead. Arrange to be bitten by a more powerful good vampire in advance. If you time things carefully, you can go through the Change underground, where you are less likely to hurt anyone. Bring at least two liters of vacuum-packed blood with you in your cargo shorts and a small knife to puncture the seal. --Once you are buried, don’t worry. Oxygen is no longer an issue for you. Do drink the blood slowly, as your system needs time to adjust to the new nourishment. Rest and relax while your system adjusts to your brand new life. --Feeling peevish? Your new accommodations are uniquely suited for anger therapy. Feel free to punch and kick the top of your coffin as often as you like. Eventually it will break under your new strength and you will be able to push through to the soil above. Again, oxygen is not an issue for you now, so work at your own pace. You will find the soil surprisingly comfortable as you work your way to the surface. --Once you surface, shake off the dirt from your clothes and cope with any lingering claustrophobia issues. Dispatch any members of the evil vampire nation waiting for you. Then, finish the last of your stored blood and go looking for a shower. Your good vampire master will want you clean as you arrive at his home for backup. 3. The Houdini solution: If you must appear to be buried alive, for example to fake your death and leave the mob, or to get rid of a stalker, consider whether you’ll actually need to be buried. Can a lifelike replica do the job? If so, spare no expense. Hire the work out to out of towners, ideally artists in China or prop masters out of Hollywood, as both are far away and unlikely to ask questions. Let the bad guys see you knocked out, then have them see the replica in the coffin being buried. For your average evil villain, this should serve your purpose nicely. Buy yourself a nice funeral; you’re worth it, and you’ll want to be comfortable as you watch your friends and family say nice things about you. If a replica simply will not do the trick, plan the situation out in advance. Buy large-gauge pipe graded for underground use, and install tunnels beneath the area your coffin will be buried. Hide your exit carefully in a nearby copse of trees or behind a landscaping shed. Install a door at the bottom of the coffin that you can trigger from the inside, and connect it to the underground pipe carefully. Do several dry runs, where you test the system under every possible condition. --Once you are buried, take a few deep breaths, center yourself, and escape through your carefully crafted and well-rehearsed routine. When you complete the routine, stifle the urge to bow; the audience, if you have done your job, will still be looking at the burial plot. Retrieve your getaway bag and leave town. 4. The New Yorker solution: Carry a taser, a knife, and two vials of pepper spray rated for bear. When the bad guys come at you to try to bury you alive, scream like a banshee and tase anything that moves. If the taser runs out of juice or needs recharge time, proceed to the backup pepper spray. If the pepper spray annoys you, proceed to the knife. Once your enemies are incapacitated, say “Thanks for the burial offer, but no thanks, I’m good,” and proceed to the nearest police station to ask as many annoying citizen questions on a current topic as humanly possible. Bonus points if you are annoying enough to get thrown in the drunk tank overnight; your assailants are unlikely to storm the police station to get you, and may give up on the premise that you’re Rambo or working with the cops. Remember to discard the taser before entering the station! 5. The Adam solution: Do as much as possible to talk the bad guys out of their plan prior to reaching the cemetery. If this fails, proceed to Plan B. Discard Guild ethics and disable all thugs immediately by putting their brains into sleep mode. Then, implant an uncontrollable terror of messing with Adam again into the mind of the leader. Watch him run away, but try not to smirk. Or, just to mess with them, convince their brains that they’ve already put you in the coffin. Plant a do-not-notice suggestion in their minds, and stand back while they bury an empty coffin. Read their next plans from their speech and thoughts, then walk away quietly. When the police show up in the middle of their next Big Awesome Crime Thing, make sure they see your face. At this point, smirking is perfectly acceptable.
16

Welcome to the new Website!

Ain’t it all purty and stuff? Thanks very much to the amazing Travis Pennington for the great job he did. And now, let’s get this sucker rolling with my first blog post in a very long time.

Let’s start with some Good News, Bad News, shall we? The Good News is that Book Six of the Bloodhound Files, UNDEAD TO THE WORLD, is finished. The Bad News is, it looks like this is the final installment of TBF for the foreseeable future. Boo, I know.

But wait—there’s more Good News! I’ve just sold a brand-new series to St. Martin’s Press, and I’m hard at work on the first book. The series is called the WHISKY, TANGO AND FOXTROT MYSTERIES, and involves a team of paranormal sleuths that solve locked-room type mysteries. There’ll be lots of humor and the kind of banter you got in THE BLOODHOUND FILES, plus an interesting (and unique) take on the afterlife. Uh, afterlives.

Also, there will be monkeys.

Not just monkeys, either—all sorts of animals. You see, Whisky is the ghost of a dog, and Tango is a cat working on her seventh life. Foxtrot is the one who actually has to solve the crimes, but having a cat who speaks over three hundred animal languages (Okay, most of them are feline dialects) and a dog made of ectoplasm with access to a supernatural database of scents gives her some handy tools to work with. Too bad her day job is being the Gal Friday to an eccentric billionaire with a sprawling estate and a habit of inviting the most unusual people to stay with her.

And then there’s the pet graveyard next door . . .

No info yet on pub date for the first one, but I’ll keep you posted. Promise.

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