Happy National Superhero Day!

Posted: April 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

enema banner copy

Being that today is National Superhero Day, it seemed like the right time to make an announcement.

I’m currently seeking an artist to partner with to bring an original Superhero comic to life (see above). This will be a paying gig, but I’d prefer to work with someone that isn’t yet established, someone hungry for a chance to do something great! If that’s you, or someone you know, please send me an email at ruffwriter4@gmail.com.

As always, thanks for stopping by!!

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Guns

Posted: January 11, 2018 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

It’s been an interesting evening.  I had a few conversations with old friends, one with a new friend.  All of these conversations had one thing in common: commenting on my facebook picture — me at the gun range shooting a SIG 550 assault rifle.

I’m not a gun guy.  I’d like to be.

The truth is, before I started writing and researching the novels, I never really knew much about guns at all.  I had a very outdoorsy step-father while in high school, and he took me shooting a couple of times: pistol, shotgun.  He had a 22 rifle.  We even tried his compound bow.

My interest in guns began with Swift.  With Jono, I had a guy who, for all intents and purposes, was just an average schmuck.  He regularly went toe-to-toe with gods and monsters, but he had no magical abilities like other Urban Fantasy protagonists.  What he had, were a bunch of big-ass guns.

Swift’s guns were a pair of Glocks and a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun.

Then there’s Grace – a TP-82 Soviet combination rifle — and Glory, the gun from my Facebook photo.

In writing the books, I learned that a buddy of mine had a small arsenal compiled, and we went shooting.  The SIG is his.  The FN5-7 and six-shooter on my Facebook page are all his.  And, especially while writing book two, he would give me new weapons to write.  In exchange, I based a character off of him.  He served as my gun guy.  It made sense that Swyftt, who went through ammo pretty regularly, would also have a gun guy.  That his gun guy wouldn’t exactly be your run-of-the-mill character.  So London Ixit was born.

London debuts toward the middle of book two, and he makes a splash with his debut.  It should be noted that London is not my friend, simply a caricature.  London’s fun for me for one reason: ever pick up a bad habit from a someone you spend a bit of time with?  Where Swyftt talks about his guns and cars as women and swears up a storm, London is that times twenty.  Just a normal human and possibly a little too whacked out to be a poster boy for the NRA.

For Christmas, my wife got me a gun safe.  I don’t own a gun yet, but I intend to buy one in the near future.  The safe was a prerequisite, as we have small children. I’ve decided what I want my first gun to be, but I’ve also been told that it might a bit too ambitious for a first gun.

I want an M1911 Colt 45.  Last time we went shooting, I was hitting clay pigeons at 50 yards with an M1911.  The Colts are what Austin Finnegan, the Catholic Priest in The Midnight Defenders uses.  It’s also the gun of choice for Dean Winchester on TV’s Supernatural.  It felt good in my hands.

I just had to stop today and dream a little bit.

A passion project of mine, has and always will be, the team of superheroes I created in high school. It’s a project that is always on the periphery of my mind. It’s something very near and dear to me. I’m a superhero guy. I’m a comic book nerd, through and through. In fact, the Midnight Defenders series began as an idea for a comic book, to happen in the same world as the Enemas. That’s the title of the group. The Enemas.

Their origins debut in the Gulf War. The early stories take place in the 90s. In fact, I have 20 years of backstory for the Enemas, as well as a dozen or so other superhero teams that exist in their world. That’s a LOT. Keeping that much confined only to the periphery of my mind is no small feat. It wants to be front and center. It begs me in my sleep to tell the story. So, for a small glimmer of relief from the demons in my head, here’s just a snippet of things to come:

The Enemas
Platoon 439 of the US Army was stationed in Iraq during the Gulf War. Captain Jacob Tartar, nicknamed Captain Enema, due to the nearly-fabled tale of the enemy camp shitting themselves when they saw him coming. That only happened once, and it wasn’t the entire camp, just most of them. Subsequently, his platoon earned the nickname, The Enemas.

When Tartar’s commanding officer and surrogate father-figure, General Alexander, becomes a POW, Tartar and his men go AWOL, defying direct orders, to rescue the general. However, what they find in the desert nearly cost them their lives.

Officially, Captain Tartar and his men were KIA. They had military funerals for their families. Unofficially, ten soldiers survived, and they were the first subjects of a top-secret military program called Project: Darkseed.

In the world of the Enemas, superheroes were a reality, though they had been disbanded and outlawed after the Cold War. In the 90s, no such heroes existed, and the greatest legacy heroes, like The Amazingness, went back home to his planet. The rest, just fell off the grid.

The US Government, hearing rumblings that other countries were undergoing operations to bring back people with abilities, using them as an army of super soldiers, as a weapon more powerful and with fewer casualties than nuclear warheads, gathered the greatest minds they could recruit to come up with their own program. Darkseed was spearheaded by Doctor Vladimir Craighorne, and it was designed to bring to light a person’s inner strengths that had “been germinating in the darkness of the human soul.”

Of the ten soldiers, only one died during the process. With only one confirmed success, the other eight were given new identities, new memories, and sent back into the world to live normal lives, although being closely monitored. The first to develop abilities and called back to Darkseed were:

-Captain Enema – Jacob Tartar, forcefields and energy blasts
-The Caped Avenger – Linus Maguire, random useless abilities, such as running in slow motion, changing his hair, and pulling mashed potatoes from his pants
-Meridian – Sarah Foster, telekinesis, limited telepathy
-Kodiak – Charlie Anderson, super strength, invulnerability, and increased senses

They joined the first success, Scanner – Aaron Takeshi, whose computer-brain abilities made any new memory implants impossible to stick. Together, they search for the other four Darkseed soldiers who have mysteriously gone dark, and tackle other threats along the way. All while trying to remember what really happened that day in the desert and what the US Government and the mysterious Falcon Gyre aren’t at liberty to tell them.

I have the scripts for the first ten issues written. I have many more outlined. I have plans for a dozen or more story arcs, each containing multiple issues. Eventually, I have it mapped out in my head to become an entire Universe of superheroes. But the journey of a thousand heroes begins with the first one.

Captain Enema.

I pray you’ll meet him soon.

This announcement should have been made back in February, but here it is.

I’m a giant nerd.  I like movies, TV shows, comic books & video games.  I love talking about those things and staying abreast on all the latest news.  It’s what I do in my free time.  So I decided to combine that love with my love of writing.  So now, I write about those things, give you my perspective on those things, and share my love with others who love them, too.

Introducing…

fandom banner

It’s a place where nerds and those who love them can gather and share experiences.  If you like movies and TV shows, if you play video games, you’re going to want to know about that stuff.  Come and know about it with me.

https://fandominions.com/

Make it your homepage.  Share your thoughts and opinions with us.

And then check back here often, because I do have more of those writing projects you love being worked on as we speak.

Protected: Mighty Warrior

Posted: January 8, 2016 in side projects

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The other day, I told my eight-year-old that I hope he finds something, anything, a passion that he will make sacrifices for. He’s in second grade, and if there’s any indication of that now, it won’t involve math. He’s asking to play drums, so maybe, but baseball, basketball, and tae kwon do didn’t take.

My daughter is twelve. She’s not the perfect example of what I want for my kids, but I see glimmers of it developing. Just this last year, she started in piano lessons, and she’s somewhat of a natural. I don’t want to use the word prodigy. Our neighbor showed her a piece and she memorized it within a few minutes. My brother was in town for Thanksgiving and taught her the Star Wars theme. She’s very musically inclined, and I hope her passion for it drives her into great and terrible things, musically, but as of now, she has to be told to practice. I’d love to tell her to shut up, I’m trying to sleep. It’s been five hours now. Give the ivory time to rest.

Truth be told, my kids would rather lie around all day playing video games and watching TV than do anything with their lives. And it’s not even good video games. It’s Minecraft. If you want to build something, go build something. We literally have a basement full of Lego bricks.

I want that for my kids because that’s what I want for myself. I struggled for years in high school and college, and then out of college while I bounced around from employer to employer trying to find my place. I wanted something to engage me. I fought my passion and dreams for a long time, waiting around, praying that God would deliver me into some magic destiny he had for me. I woke up one day, frustrated, fed-up, that my prayers weren’t being answered the way I wanted them to, working a job that was getting me nowhere.

It’s a strange thing to believe in the Bible and to try to apply it to your life and to still operate with just a blind faith that things will happen on a random whim. Then I read James 2:19, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Faith without works is dead. I can believe all day long for the life I want, but it won’t fill my bowl with ice cream.

I’m an independent writer. I’m not published by a major house. I’ve got my stories, and I’m making them come to life with little more than my passions and talents. And those passions have spurned me along to teach myself basic HTML, Photoshop, and several other programs that I would otherwise not care about just to be able to format .MOBI and .EPUB files. I have to stay driven because otherwise, my passion and dreams lie stagnant. And what happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or does it explode?

My dad, for my entire life, (until recently) has been self-employed. If he woke up everyday and went to work, rain or shine, snow or drought, and he put in ten, twelve hour days. And not sitting behind a desk somewhere. He was an artist, a landscaper, a contractor. He did hard labor, and I know, because as a lad, I was forced to do it, too. Sure, I hated it at the time, but it was character building. It inspired me. To this day, I think back on the life my dad chose and I draw huge inspiration from him. He blazed a trail. That takes not only faith, but courage, determination, a bit of stubbornness.

I’m not going to lie, it’s hard at times. There are days where the house is quiet, my wife and kids are asleep, it’s cold, and I’m exhausted, but it’s only 10PM, and I could still squeeze out a page or two. Sacrifices for passion. I’d rather play video games, too. I play good games, like The Legend of Zelda. Action and puzzles, exploration, a plot. I don’t have the time I want to play games, though, because if I sit around playing games, who writes my books and tells my tales? My daughter got me this game for Christmas, 2013. I’m almost at the end. Just a few more months, maybe.

One of the biggest things that keeps me going is a random song. Airplanes by B.O.B. Not the radio edit. The version with Eminem. I’ve always loved Eminem’s music. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. His part at the end of that song is poetic in it’s profanity, but it’s the highest, simplest truth.

Talking about a hypothetical version of himself, he says, “Pretend he procrastinated, had no motivation
Pretend he just made excuses that were so paper thin they could blow away with the wind.” Here’s a guy, love him or leave him, that picked himself up by his bootstraps, who came from a trailer in crime-ridden Detroit, and changed his stars. He could easily have become another victim of the economic hardships Michigan continues to endure. He could have easily made one excuse after another why not to do what he did, but instead, he sacrificed. He made a few wise decisions, a few chance meetings, and now he’s iconic. He’s a legend in the music industry. He’s the best rapper out there, white or black, because his beats are crazy and his lyrical precision and timing are spot on. In the song, he goes on to say, “He’s gon’ have a hard time explaining to Hailie and Lainie these food stamps and this WIC shit. Cause he never risked shit he hoped and he wished it but it didn’t fall in his lap so he ain’t even here.”

We can make whatever excuses we want to tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough, that we shouldn’t try, but at the end of the day, what will we tell our children that will make them proud of the life we’ve given them? That’s what keeps me going. I love doing what I do. It makes me incredibly happy and proud to publish books. Thank God for the technology and the companies out there today that allow people like me to take a story that may not exactly be commercial gold and share it anyway.

I love what I do, but on the days that I don’t feel like doing it, I push forward anyway, because I want my kids to know that I didn’t miss my chances. I want them to be inspired, and I want them to find their passions so that one day, they can make sacrifices and find their rewards.

The dream is always the same. 

Every night it comes to me.  Part of it is foreign, different – somehow frightening – yet the other part is so familiar…like yesterday.       

It begins like this: There’s a figure running down a stone corridor.  It’s very dark.  The only light comes from the torches mounted along the walls, and the shadows are tangible, living and breathing things that reach out at this person as he’s running along, in fear, maybe.  There’s an immediacy to his steps that suggest he isn’t just out for a jog.

The figure is cloaked and hooded, one of those numbers like red riding hood would wear, except dark brown.  Deep shadows hide his face.  In his arms, he’s carrying something that looks like loaves of bread wrapped in a sheet, but you can tell it means something good because of the way the figure is holding it close, like life. 

I see this picture in my dream in a series of quick, rapid, flashing images, like between the pulsing beat of a strobe light, and it almost makes the figure and the flicker of the flames of the torches slow down, almost makes it choppy like one of those old movies.  But I still see it so clearly, everything so vivid.  I can describe the room: there were walls; there were doors.

The figure turns the corner, and as he does, he steals a look back over his shoulder.  As he looks, I hear something, like barking, maybe the baying of hounds.  I didn’t hear it before, but now it’s all I hear, quiet at first, but it seems to be getting closer.  The sound is angry, hungry…deadly.  As the figure reaches the end of the hallway, I see a shadowy mass and know that the sound is coming from it.  Well, them.  Wolves – four at the most, but they move so fast that it’s quite hard to tell in the strobe-effected slow-motion of the dream – bound around the corner so fast that they slide against the far wall, slipping like animals do, as if the floor is wet and slippery from being just mopped.  They collide as a mass of fur, fangs and claws, eyes glowing and glaring in the dimness.  They recover as a mass and begin their angry, hungry pursuit again as a mass, as one single entity with several heads, like the Cerberus of legend.  Hundreds, maybe thousands, of teeth snap and gnash with anger rivaled only by God’s when he flooded the world.

The figure glances back and quickens his pace further.  Behind him, the teeth are so white against the black mass of fur they might as well be glowing in the torchlight, and they get so close they nearly snap along the hem of the cape, but just miss.  The figure stuns the beasts with a swift kick and then turns suddenly, pushing through a door and slamming it fast behind.

The door leads outside to a stone walkway at the top of a large wall.  With the night sky before him, the figure stops for a second to catch his breath, leaning back against the door he just came through, and looks up toward the heavens, praying, I suppose, but there aren’t any words.  Maybe there doesn’t have to be for a prayer.  Maybe a prayer is just something your heart says that no one else need hear. 

As he rests for a minute, I notice the castle towers that mark either end of the walkway, see a courtyard so far below where men with torches are scurrying like ants.  Like fire ants.  The figure takes a step forward onto the walkway that’s large enough to drive a car on – maybe two, if the cars are small enough and the drivers are really good.  Maybe it’s not a walkway at all, but an elevated drag strip where Mini Coopers race…on a castle.  Right.

It’s a dream.  It doesn’t necessarily have to make sense. 

There’s a faint cry then, from something small and not so far away.  It sounds like a baby, and the cloaked figure wraps his bundle tighter and holds it closer. Shouts echo out from the fire ants below, and the figure begins to run again, across the long stone walkway, faster than before, as if trying to outrun the really good drivers racing their small cars. 

He comes to the other side of the walkway, enters the door there, doesn’t really slow, and descends the staircase that snakes and winds its way around corners to the ground several stories below.  The door at the bottom empties out into a grassy field where fires burn all around in the open air.  Smoke ascends like a sacrifice to the night sky. 

Ahead in the distance is a forest, and tucked away by the treeline is a small hut, built of large stones with a thatched roof.  Toward that, the figure runs.  He steps from the shadow of the castle wall, and as he gets just a few feet into the open, it begins to rain fire. 

Behind him and way up above on the castle wall, the fire ants have gathered and are shouting.  That’s when it occurs to me that it isn’t raining at all.  The ants are shooting arrows whose tips burn like napalm.  The figure’s being chased by arrows as if they were a flock of startled birds flying so close over the crest of the hood, rending the cape with holes and tears, splitting the fabric, and drawing blood.  The figure is hit once or twice, but they’re glancing blows, and nothing sticks.  If the figure feels any pain, he doesn’t let it show, doesn’t change his speed for even a fraction of a breath.

With no time to look behind, he just keeps running across the open field, dodging arrows and weaving in-between the pyres of flames burning brilliantly and with all gloom here and there amidst the grass. 

Then suddenly my dream is given a narrator, and a voice echoes off from somewhere I can’t see.  Part of me expects the voice to sound like the voice in a movie trailer, but it’s not.  The voice belongs to a person I know, but know isn’t in this dream – or hasn’t been.  The voice belongs to Kenny, and he says, “Tonight we make a circle.  We join hands and we pledge our friendship.  We make an oath that cannot break in hopes that all of our lives, we will live and love each other. That no matter what happens, we will be true friends.  Through the passing of time, through the separation of miles, through whatever distances of life, we will remain true.  No matter the cost, no matter the circumstance, no matter the pain or the tears or the laughter, we will remain true.  Friends.  Forever.  For all time.”

As the cloaked figure reaches the hut, his hand grasps the old doorknob, just as an arrow strikes the roof above his head and the thatch begins to smolder and ignite.  The figure doesn’t seem to notice or care, just disappears inside, and the door closes behind him.

The interior is not at all what I would have expected.  There’s no stone at all, but wood planks, and it’s littered with old tractor parts, rusty gears and ground tilling equipment.  An old John Deere sits in the corner, there’s stacks of hay along the walls, and an old scythe with a chipped blade hangs from the ceiling.  In the center of the room is a big, sturdy barrel with a lit candle on it.  The moonlight shines through cracks in the walls and ceiling.  There is no other light. 

Around the barrel, joined hands in a circle, are six children.  One of them is me.  Connor Woodson.  The others are my friends: Jake, Kenny, Audrey, Scott and Rowen.  Kenny pulls out a knife.  The dream is over.  I wake up.

But I know how that part ends.  I was there.  It really happened – the summer after eighth grade.  It was the summer everything changed.  Kenny had his mother’s kitchen knife, one of those ones you see advertised on late night television that never dull.  The knife – advertised as the last knife you’ll ever need yet they give you three hundred of them – is supposed to cut through the wall of a submarine and then still cut through a tomato without spilling a seed, and it was perfect for what we needed it for.    

Jake asked, “Does your mother know that you have that?” 

Kenny shook his head, and Jake said, “Maybe you should have said through being spanked and getting grounded.”

Nobody laughed.  I smiled.  We were just trying to all be serious, though, so laughter was a bit inappropriate.  Being friends forever was not a laughing matter.  Kenny used the knife on himself, cutting his finger.  When he started bleeding, he sucked the wound, holding his index finger like a harmonica to his lips, like he was getting ready to sing the blues.

Jake took the knife from Kenny, very valiantly, at least for Jake.  He’s a bit of a clown, ya know.  Then he cut himself, too, digging into the side of his finger, bleeding.  “Yeah, that one hurt,” he moaned.

We all took a turn whittling into our knuckles.  It was something Kenny had seen in a movie on late night TV.  It was supposed to make us closer, somehow.  Looking back on it, it kind of sounds stupid, especially the whole copying off TV part.  But it was for a worthy cause.  It was to see how much we were willing to take for one another.  You see, it proved, in that one moment, what it was worth to be a true friend.  To take pain for one another, to bleed with one another, to cry, to hurt together, there’s just something about that…like being in war, I would guess, though I’ve never been in war.  Maybe it’s the same as being on a sports team together.  When you see someone in their weaknesses, you really grow closer to them.  When you bleed with someone, you’re so much more vulnerable, and you begin to let others in.  I suppose it did work that way, for us, back then.  I was thirteen.  We were in middle school.  All in the same grade.  We grew up together, growing up living near each other, going to school together or because our parents were good friends with each other.  We were all close – one girl, five guys.

 Audrey was a tomboy and liked us better than playing barbies with the other girls.  Now, when I think about how we were then, it reminds me of one of those old kid-buddy movies like “Stand By Me” or “The Sandlot” or something like that. 

Too bad life isn’t a movie.  Though, like those movies, we all did grow apart for various reasons, each our own.  Scott, for example, moved.  Kenny followed the wrong crowd.  The others did their own thing, I guess.  Jake and I were really the only ones who stayed close.  But this isn’t a story of what we did together when we were young and at the end how we fell apart, went our separate ways.  This isn’t about that.  It’s a story of how friendships do last forever – when they’re true – and how oaths, though forgotten, keep their binding power. 

This is my story.