Short Story: “The Corpse Door”

The following is “The Corpse Door,” a short story I submitted for a 50th anniversary collection celebrating Kolchak: The Night Stalker. This story made it all the way to the finals, but alas, it wasn’t accepted for publication. You win some, you lose some. I highly encourage you check out the Kolchak: The Night Stalker – 50th Anniversary Graphic Novel. Look for updates on its release and where to purchase both the regular edition and the deluxe edition.

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Down a Rabbit Hole

Over the past few months, I’ve been hoarding photos taken from various locales because I had every intention to tell you all about it. I wasn’t necessarily going to suddenly switch formats and turn this site into a travel blog. Nay – my ambition was to share my love of travel, as well as explore the healing and inspiring aspects of adventure. Travel is a recharge that can teach us so much about the ideas and lessons that inform our stories and art. It can nurture us and encourage us to grow, and it’s one of my personal favorite ways to learn about people.

HOWEVER, a doorway to elsewhere opened, and I stepped through. Then I stumbled. Then plummeted.

 It wasn’t a bad fall. Rather, it is turning out to be its own adventure, albeit one that’s eaten up more time than I intended.

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New Interview With Movie Producer Michael Uslan

I recently had the chance to interview one of my personal heroes. He’s a big supporter and nurturer of the comic book community, and during his college years, he bought the film rights to Batman. He spent the next decade trying to pitch what would ultimately become the first Batman film starring Michael Keaton.

Feel free to check out my interview with writer, professor, and movie producer Michael Uslan here.

For those who want to watch the video on Youtube, the video can be found here.

New Short Story: Night Sky

It’s been a minute since my last update. I’ve had a busy couple of months over at TheBatmanUniverse.net and at work. As always, I’m continuously carving out time to work on my comic series and that next novel.

That said, a new short story of mine was just published this past month over at Drunk Monkeys. It’s called “Night Sky,” and it’s one of my personal favorite sci-fi pieces that I’ve written. I won’t gab too much, but I hope it is enjoyable and means as much to you as it does to me. In some ways, I feel like it’s something we can all relate to.

Read “Night Sky” here.

And don’t forget to check out the rest of the June Drunk Monkeys issue here. There’s a stellar lineup of writers, poets, and artists.

In other news, I’ve been busy with TheBatmanUniverse podcast. A couple of months ago, I interviewed The Carver Twins about their roles in The Batman, and this past month, I invited Pat Grimes of Wires Don’t Talk on to talk about the music of The Batman. As always, I continue to cohost the regular podcast, but these two featured episodes are part of a larger initiative to branch out and interview more creators involved with creating Batman comics, movies, etc.

As always, if you want to hear more of what I’m about to, I do have a monthly newsletter, and the new issue should be dropping in the next couple of days. Check out the last issue, and consider subscribing (it’s free).

On the Duality of *Just* Wanting to Write But Also Being Seen

I’ve written previously about how there’s a part of me that is content with writing for an audience of one, that if nobody else ever reads any of my stories or if my manuscripts never get picked up, that I’ll be okay. It’s not the exposure, I tell myself, it’s the experience, the growth, and the overwhelming sense of accomplishment that comes with simply ordering and laying down words onto a page. And that’s partly true. 

I have a monthly newsletter where I talk about the craft of writing in a way that’s hopefully inspirational (you be the judge, dear reader), so I won’t wax all poetic about the craft of creating here. Rather, I’ll say something that might come across as totally unrelated but has inspired a newfound desire to be seen. 

Over the past several months, I’ve incorporated exercise and a healthier diet into my regular regimen. 

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Just Another Breakfast Sandwich Recipe

There’s an old German bakery down in the Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago that my wife and I love to go to. They’ve got great cookies and pretzels, but there’s this breakfast sandwich they make that is incredible. It’s delicious. It’s addictive, and the flavors are perfect. If you’ve ever seen that Birds of Prey movie, biting into a Dinkel’s Bavarian Breakfast Sandwich is an experience akin to what Harley Quinn was raving about.

Unfortunately for my wife and I, we don’t live anywhere near Lakeview. Thus, the Bavarian Breakfast Sandwich is a once-in-a-while treat, when we have the time and energy to make the trek from Gilberts (yeah, it’s a real place way out in the ‘burbs) into the city. And on those days when we do manage to fit a visit to Dinkel’s in our weekend schedule, we sit there right outside, in the car, savoring every damn bite. 

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Touring Model Homes Are a Voyage Into Limbo

Today, my wife and I took the country backroads back to the townhouse that we’ve been living in for barely a year. There was no need to stop, but as we drove past a winding road to a new subdivision not 10 minutes from our home, something supernatural lured our gaze to these partially constructed, monolithic buildings. 

It was a new subdivision that had been in development for barely a year, and homes were advertised as starting at a “modest” $350,000. There was a model at the front of the subdivision, with a packed parking lot. 

I felt my hands turn the wheel as we watched these new constructions blur by, and before I understood what was happening, my wife and I were voyaging down this winding road into another world beyond. The forest preserve that once stood upon this land had been bulldozed over, and in its place was a lush canvas of Kentucky bluegrass. In my mind’s eye, I could see an unwitting suburban dad crouching down to the lawn, clumping it in his coarse, working man’s hands, and dreaming of a better tomorrow while a shroud of darkness enveloped him. 

There’s an unearthly power in these new housing developments out in the middle of nowhere. There are no stores within walking distance, no social hubs for engagement or activities that regularly involve encountering people of different cultures or creeds. No libraries. No institutions of learning. And nary a church or a pub.

There’s nothing but forests and farmlands this far out — shade for an ancient evil well-practiced in luring humans from the safety of civilization into the devil’s hands. 

My wife and I found ourselves standing in a house just over 3,600 square feet. It had five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, sun room, dining room, loft, basement, and two mud/utility rooms. An agent for the developer whisked around us, handing out pamphlets for all of the aspects of the home that could be customized, as well as a sliding scale for a price that went well into the $400,000-range. 

Suddenly, the home we had been occupying for barely a year felt inadequate. Just the other day, I had been expressing gratitude at our 1,500 square-foot townhouse. As a child, I grew up in a ranch home that barely squeezed out 1,000 square feet. We were the smallest house on the block in a sleepy neighborhood, and barely a day went by where I wasn’t ridiculed for not living in a home with two floors by my wealthier peers. 

Compared to my child self, I had made it. I was living the American dream, winding up in a house 50% bigger than my childhood home, and it had the two floors I often begged for as a kid. 

But here I was now, enveloped by a haze that was whispering nasty little comments into my ears. I was inadequate. I was a failure. I had settled for something lesser. Our townhouse didn’t have enough room to grow into when we would decide the time was right for a family of our own. 

A poison trickled into my soul and clouded my vision. I didn’t need a home — I needed a family compound, like the Corleones. I could see kids running around these halls. I could see Grandma and Grandpa coming over for a visit during the holidays and a massive turkey feast on a second, larger dining table located in a room that would be used maybe twice a year. 

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Sweet Rejections & So… What’s Next?

I woke up to a short story rejection today. Even after my ongoing 40+ rejection streak, it doesn’t get much easier to open those emails. I’ve learned that in the preview copy in my inbox, rejections often start with “Thank you for your submission…” The bad news is buried somewhere after the preview, which gives writers just enough hope to think that the future is not set, Fate isn’t real, and Destiny isn’t predetermined. That maybe this click to open will be different…

Today’s rejection came with a bit of a surprise though. Usually I’ll get the typical “Thank you for submitting. Unfortunately…” Today, however, the editor was kind enough to include a line indicating that they actually liked the piece! That’s always nice to hear, and it’s encouraging. That means there is hope yet!

This most recent piece that I’ve been shopping around is one I’ve been mulling over since last fall, but I didn’t want to devote time to it until I finished my novel manuscript. I’m trying to get better at ordering ideas into a to-do list these days, so I sat on it up until a month or two ago.

Speaking of the novel, the manuscript is out for consideration but no bites yet.

I’m not a fan of the waiting game, and I’ve often found that shortly after finishing any piece, when that sense of satisfaction and “new car smell” begins to fade, the need for the next hit starts gnawing at the back of the brain.

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That Took 5 Years, But It’s Done (For Now)

Over the past 5 years, I’ve been living with with my latest novel. Originally conceived as a social satire about two robots who accidentally bring about the downfall of mankind, it has grown and evolved in ways I couldn’t predict.

In the past 5 years, I started a new job, got married, took on more household chores as my wife completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work while working full time, purchased a house, and grappled with a lack of direction with my own existence. Through all of that, the book and these characters strapped themselves in for the ride. What started as a social satire evolved into a tale about a mid-level robot disillusioned with his lot in life. He feels useless, rudderless, and unimportant, grappling with the idea that the world would exist just fine with or without him.

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2020 Special: My 24-Hour Holiday Movie Marathon

It’s the first year in a long time where I’m actually excited for the holidays. Weird, right? I’m actively seeking out that holiday cheer to counteract all the B-A-D bad this year. Hand to God, I played Christmas tunes on Spotify this year, cuing those jams up of my own free will. No pressure, and no forced smiles. I even went out of my way to bake bread and cookies.

In years past, I would just look forward to a break from the hum-drum of the day-to-day. I’d lazily skip putting up the decorations in lieu of finding a quiet spot at home to curl up with a book. But we, as proud Americans, have killed the magic this year. All of it. Seized hostage by a ceaseless pandemic, we further entrenched ourselves into two main camps and lobbed barrages of polarizing soundbites and threats at one another. It was exhausting, and in the fog and desiccation of a world starved of joy, I realized how hungry I was for flights of fantasy and magic.

And I can’t count on streaming platforms to entertain me these days…. My Netflix and HBO feeds are all serious dramas all the time. Which is why I’ve put together a holiday watchlist, one that can be viewed in the span of 24 hours (with about 10-15 minutes free for bathroom breaks).

It’s a recharge, a way to imbue my spirit with creative energy needed for 2021. Before you ask, no, Die Hard is not on this list. I love Die Hard. It’s terrific, but it’s not a film I feel like watching around Christmas. These picks are… different, mostly.

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