You might have been there before. A situation where you needed to trust someone else to keep you from dying or worse. You’re already a bit nervous about putting your life in another person’s hands when you hear that dreaded phrase. “Trust me.” They just had to go use one of those universal taunts, and as you can imagine, the universe doesn’t like getting called out like that.

But that isn’t the only phrase that’ll rub the universe the wrong way. You have such classics as “At least things can’t get worse.” and “This plan is foolproof.” These phrases will put you on the universe’s radar, and when you’re in its sight, BAM!

So… just be careful what you say. The universe is listening.

As part of my New Year’s promise, I’ve been tracking my time to see where it all goes. I know there’s a huge chunk of it dedicated to the job that pays the bills. But I wanted to know about my spare time. It felt like my time for writing shrank over the past year… like I wasn’t getting any writing done.

I was wrong.

I’m averaging 2000+ words a day with writing in my spare time. Yet, I don’t have the projects to show for it. Now, I know why.

For a long time, I was suffering from sleep apnea, and for a number of years before I started treating it, I was developing problems with my memory. I could still recall stuff, but it was hazy… fuzzy. It was that song where you knew only a few key words from the lyrics but couldn’t remember the title or band, and everything was right there on the tip of your tongue and drove you crazy cause you couldn’t recall it no matter how hard you tried. My mind was like that for a long time… so I got into the habit of journaling.

I’d write down stuff I thought I’d need to remember or wanted to remember and review them from time-to-time to help out. I could then repeat details back to people even if the memory itself was still fuzzy in my brain. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it helped me fake remembering stuff. It helped keep me going even though I knew there were memories I wanted to have for real.

But as I recovered from my sleep apnea, I still kept the journaling habit. The problem with that was… I was remembering more, so when it came time to write down stuff I remembered from the day, there would be more-and-more memories to transcribe… and more details to each to write down. It was taking up a lot of my free writing time, but it was second nature to me. It was such a habit, I didn’t realize how much time it was eating up.

Until I started documenting what I spent my free time on. It was quite a shocker at how much writing I was doing just for this. And I took a deep look at it. Was it just a reflection of me remembering more? Or was there something else to it? Was I hiding something from myself? Covering up for a fear or something crazy like that under the cover of writing? Keeping myself from thinking about it because I could easily see I was writing a lot?

It was procrastination through productivity. Even though it was kind of a false productivity, it was still a means for keeping me from projects and writing the things I wanted to. So now, it’s time to cut back on it. I’ll still keep it going because it’s a great means to work out issues and solve problems I’m stuck on, but I need to dedicate more time to the truly productive writing.

It won’t be an easy process. It never is when dealing with long-term habits. It’s something I’ve built up for over 10 years now, so I can’t expect a habit like that to go away without a fight. But it’s time I tried. It’s time I put up a fight. It’s time to see what I’m really capable of as a writer.

Who knows? Maybe by the time I get this all worked out, the Writer’s Guild will have their strike all wrapped up. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

For each dark day, there comes a light. The dark times will come. There’s no doubt about that. Pain, sorrow, pettiness, betrayal, misfortune, and loss will cross every living soul’s path at some time in their life. But those dark spirits can never overwhelm you… if you know the secret.

For each dark day, there comes a light. The darkness of mankind flees before the light. It lifts their spirits and illuminates the joyous things in life. But you don’t have to wait for the light. You shouldn’t have to wait for the light. Just like a darkened room, you can light it up with the flick of a switch.

And just like the light bulb in the room, the source of the light is already there. You just need to flip the switch. Sure, those dark spirits take their toll on you. They dance upon the emotional strings of your soul… wearing you out… breaking you down. It’s okay. Let those feelings out and take away their power.

They will always hold sway over you if you resist them. The very act of resistance gives them value. It fortifies their position. It gathers those feelings in greater numbers building an army to entrench them deep within. It keeps your darker side active, and it allows them to hide the light from you.

And the light doesn’t have to be anything spectacular to be effective. It’s a means for providing hope. A beacon. A reminder of what you have to be positive for. It can be a kind smile, a child’s laugh, a friend’s hug. It can be fond memories from the past, plans for the future. It can be anything that lightens your mood, anything that gives you a sign, “The dark days are done.”

You can’t be denied these things. They’re already there whether you accept them or not. There to give you hope… to give you the energy to move on. When the dark times appear to be at their worst, seek out the light. It’ll be there… I’ve had my fair share of dark times, and I’ve always managed to find the light. To get past those dark days and enjoy my life again.

Back in the day, I had notebooks filled with all kinds of writing. From stuffy research notes to poems to scientific theories to character bios to short stories… and oddly enough, a lot of lyrics. Since music always helped me focus when I was younger, I constantly found myself tinkering around with various bits of lyrics for fun…straight rock, ballads, and even Weird Al style parody pieces.

And I have a project in progress right now that I wrote some lyrics for (since music plays a part in the story). I had fun with them, so I thought I’d share (plus, I’m passing the time since I can’t get to sleep):

Search the heart… Search the soul.
Just no other place to go.
To find the love they ripped from me.
To find my joy.
To find…

Lost the fire, heated desire.
Lost and alone in a media quagmire.
Searching my dreams to pull me free
And help remake a man out of me.

Drowned the heart… Drowned the soul.
Just no other place to go.
To drown in hopes they tore from me.
To drown my woes.
To drown…

Pool of sweat, broken and wet.
Bleeding as I hit that sea of regret.
Drowning in music to pull me free
And help remake a man out of me.

Just a quickie… a story quickie that is as two former noble professions tangle with one another. Enjoy!

He peered out of the darkness to find her standing there. The woman who deserved every bit of his attention. The very reason he went out tonight. Ivory skin softened under his gaze as a light powder of moonlight dusted her features. Long legs, striking hips, powerful back… he took careful study of her athletic physique before pulling out his instrument. It wasn’t a bulky, crude piece but leaner… more precise… yet still felt heavy in his grasp. He let his fingertips glide over the length of it as his mind fantacized over the moment to come.

He could feel her heart pound as he pulled her body close to his. A gasp as he slid the instrument into her. Warm and wet, her body quivered as he drove deeper inside. He’d pull her closer still until the salty aroma of perspiration rolled off her neck and across his senses. He would cherish the moment as it builds racing stronger and faster within her. A scream at her lips… a crescendo never let loose as her intense feelings come grinding to a halt.

He tosses her aside. His job is done. He’s had his pleasure.

He’ll leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

I stand there at the edge of the world awaiting my fate. The winds at my back nudged me forward… ever closer to the edge. But they would not win for I stood my ground. The small victory fueled the reckless courage within me. I kicked my shoes off sending them sailing over the side of the precipice. I inched forward until my toes dangled over the edge. I wiggled them in defiance. I would face this obstacle on my terms. I would glare into the unknown with a fire in my heart and…

Slip and fall.

Stupid dream.

I wasn’t going to do this, but one of my friends inspired me to give it a shot this year. So here I am working on a novel… in a month. So far it’s been pretty liberating. I used to do snippets of prose in my journal all the time, but lately, my writing’s been tied up with tech documents and treatments and outlines and bibles. Even though some of it was fun, it had the crushing weight of work behind it. I don’t mind working at my craft, but sometimes, I just need to cut loose and play. To have some fun and some laughs. So this novel, it’s all play. I wanted to take a genre to extremes and put it so out there it became comedic. I had characters lying around to work with, and ideas weren’t difficult for me to track down. I just couldn’t decide on a genre.

So I went with two genres… horror (probably gonna be gorey horror) and romance novel. I haven’t really pushed any boundaries with those yet (as you’ll see below), but I’m getting back into the swing of prose writing… getting warmed up as I go.

Below is the first chapter of the story in all its unedited, non-proofed glory. With all the scary typos and all the cringe-worthy grammatical errors. Why am I sharing something this rough? Just crazy I guess (although it does give me extra motivation).

Dark Rhythms

Chapter One – The Cemetery Picnic

   Candi giggled as she felt a warm breath roll across her neck. Her ticklish response turned to anticipation as impassioned lips moved ever closer to her flesh. She closed her eyes eager for those lips to contact her flesh. They drew closer…and her muscles tensed.
   Closer still…and her heart skipped a beat.
   “I’m gonna beat that skinny ass of yours up-and-down this cemetery if you don’t stop teasing me like that,” said Candi as she peeked out of the corner of one eye.
   The lips stopped perched near enough to Candi’s skin to be felt. “Who’s being the tease now?” The tip of a tongue reached out landing lightly against Candi’s neck. Fingers slid their way gently through Candi’s short cropped hair as the tongue traced out the shape of a heart across heated skin. When lips finally pressed against her neck, Candi felt as if pins and needles danced across her body.
   The playful mouth worked up to the edge of Candi’s ear lobes and along a sharp jawline to the chin. The tip of a petite nose traced the outline of Candi’s lips as the kisses moved upward. One…soft…kiss…after…another.
   Candi glanced down at Simone. She soaked in her ivory skin, plum-colored lips, and the tattooed runes covering the outer edges of her ears. Candi couldn’t hold back any longer. She drove her fingers through Simone’s long raven hair and cupped the back of her head to pull the girl’s lips to hers. Her fingers then slid down through the long hair to the middle of her back where one hand stopped to pull their bodies close while the other gently teased its way down Simone’s back.
   Both girls’ hands explored and caressed as they continued their embrace. Simone let her nails scrape across Candi’s strong back muscles, and she dug her nails in as their bodies shifted on the blanket. They rolled to their sides knocking over a half empty bottle of wine and smashing what was left of assorted creme-filled pastries.
   Simone’s eyes sprung open…just in time to catch a dark silhouette dart behind the nearby tombstone. She kept her eyes open and alert as the girls continued their embrace. She watched the tombstone looking for any sign of movement. She stared at the tombstone so long, the epitaph kept rolling around in her head. Here lies Alex Tomari. 1983-2006 We’re just glad he actually died. It was the last bit that caught her attention. It always does. Lucky bast–
   The silhouette finally moved as it jumped onto the back of the tombstone revealing Osiris, Simone’s Siamese cat. He glared at the two girls and let out a hiss loud enough to reach the outer walls of the cemetery.
   At Simone’s command, the two girls rolled away from each other–hands reaching under the picnic blanket to pull forth hidden weapons. Candi tumbled forward onto her feet and a hatchet soared from her hand toward three figures charging out of the shadows. One was a giant of a man named Joey. He stood nearly a head and a half taller than Candi’s significant Amazonian frame. Aside from the skin showing the initial signs of rot and decay, he looked like he could play as a lineman for any professional football team. Beside him was Chandler who was more of the svelte athletic type. Your prototypical jock complete with varsity letter jacket, nice hair, and veins bulging from his muscles. Except these weren’t veins…they were ridges of bone scattered across his body–cavity-filled rivers of ivory oozing puss and gangrene. The last member of this trio was Ross. Thin, wiry, and nearly human in appearance. Well, as human as he could appear with jet black eyes, ancient runes tattooed all over his bald head, archaic piercings covering the the back of his neck, and 80s style yuppie clothing.
   Candi’s hatchet sunk deep into Ross’ chest. “You total bitch-freak. I just spent over two grand last week having my rib cage surgically reconstructed. I’m gonna–”
   A thud behind Candi caught everyone’s attention, and she spun to investigate only to find Simone lying face first in the grass. Her butt stuck up in the air covered only by a pair of plum-colored satin panties–her pants twisted up around her ankles. Candi’s lip nearly bled as she tried to refrain from laughing at the sight of her partner like that.
   “You undid my pants,” said Simone. “Why did you undo my pants when you knew we were out hunting?”
   “Sorry. Got carried away in the heat of the moment. I won’t let it–”
   Simone rolled over to a sitting position trying to kick off her pants as quickly as possible while Candi rose up off the ground lifted by Joey’s massive hand, which squeezed around her throat from behind. “Ya gots ta be kiddin’ me. These little B-movie girls are what everyone’s all worked up over? Hell, that one on da ground’s gonna die of shock and embarrassment before we even lay a hand on her.”
   Candi drove her elbow back into Joey’s arm to little effect. She kicked back into his gut to even less effect.
   “Living dead, remember? Without your weapons, you can’t do anything to hurt me.”
   Candi tucked herself up lifting her feet as high away from the ground as possible. “She…gak…can…urk.”
   A thunderous burst of sound echoed to the outer edges of the cemetery. Two large metal ball bearings connected by a strand of jagged piano wire exploded from the tip of Simone’s shotgun. The ball bearings spread apart flying past Joey’s knees. He looked down as the wire sunk into his shins. The bearings whipped around his legs digging the wire deeper and deeper into his legs until they cut through and popped the lower part of his legs out from under him. He fell forward dragged down by Candi as she twisted herself free. His massive frame crashed into the soft earth of the cemetery face first… with his butt sticking up in the air. He lifted his head spitting a mouthful of sod off to the side when something shimmering caught his eye. He glanced up and went cross-eyed staring at the barrel of the shotgun Simone aimed right at his nose.
   “I’ll guarantee you…it won’t be the embarrassment that kills you.”
   Joey’s friends turned their heads and cringed as another explosion rocked the chilled night air hanging over the cemetery. While Ross plucked bits of dead flesh off his shirt, noxious smoke drifted up from the rotted bones protruding from Chandler’s skin as deadly, vengeful thoughts lined up in his mind. Ripe with rage and diseased fumes, he charged the two girls.
   Candi stepped to the side as Simone took aim with the shotgun, but before she could pull the trigger, her eyes watered up and her face twitched up as she was bludgeoned a powerful scent like rotting corpses, six week old moldy dishes, never-washed socks belonging to a marathon runner, and baby diapers all rolled into one massive smell. She pushed through and focused on her target but couldn’t hold back the retching of her stomach, and soon found herself leaned over and vomiting.
   Seeing Simone incapacitated, he took a swing at Candi, but she stepped back into her defensive posture letting the punch fly harmlessly by before her eyes. She continued to evade his attacks while holding back the nausea from the fumes rolling out of the bone protruding from Chandler’s skin.
   “You’re some kind of stink demon, aren’t you?” Candi ducked another of Chandler’s punches and drove an elbow into his side… to little effect.
   Candi drove the steel toe of her leather combat boot into his shin. Still no effect. “Then, is there a reason for your smell?”
   “The demonic bones used to reanimate me produce that scent whenever they start purging my body of all the rot and decay associated with death. Sucks, but it keeps me going.”
   He finally connected with one of his punches sending Candi flying onto the picnic blanket Simone and her were sharing. She laid there unmoving with her back to everyone else. Chandler approached to deliver the finishing blow but stopped short as Candi speaks to him.
   “Did you ever stop to think about why I threw my only weapon away at the beginning of the fight?”
   “Nah, I just attributed it to stupidity.”
   Candi rolled over on the blanket holding a second axe in one hand. She carried the momentum of her spin into a strong swing of her axe connecting with Chandler’s crotch–tearing through clothing, slicing through flesh, and cracking through bones.
   “Well, now you can attribute it to me being prepared instead.” She pulled on the axe handle to lift herself up, and once she was upright again, she twisted the axe to the sound of hips cracking.
   But it didn’t come lose. “Stop… that… you… b–”
   She twisted again as Chandler’s eyes rolled back into his head, but the weapon still wouldn’t pull free. She placed her combat boot on his chest as she pulled with all her might. Chandler’s head lunged forward to the thud of metal on skull as Candi’s first hatchet bounced off to the side. She leaned to the side to glance around the unconscious creature to find Ross a dozen feet back with an empty hole in his chest. His eyes followed the hatchet as it ricocheted off a tombstone and fell limp to the ground.
   “That’s not as easy as it looks.”
   Candi tugged futiley at her axe to free it as Ross rushed toward her. She looked to Simone for help, but the poor girl was still bent over spilling the contents of her stomach onto the cemetery floor. Candi’s eyes found themselves drawn to Simone’s plum panties riding up on one side from all the fighting. Damn that girl. How can she make puking looks so adorable?
   Thoughts found a rude interruption as Ross’ forearm slammed into the side of Candi’s throat. Momentum carried Ross and Candi to the ground as they exchanged short, powerful blows with elbows, knees, and fists. They hit the ground grappling–legs intertwined, arms wrapped up, and each trying to get position on the other. A reflection in the corner of Candi’s eye drew her attention above them. Ross followed Candi’s eyes to where her now freed axe came spinning down toward them.
   They rolled off to the side as the edge of the weapon scraped along Candi’s back before sinking into the ground. Cloth tore as Candi continued the roll and slammed Ross’ back to the ground. Straddled over him, she pinned his arms down as they both eyed the nearby axe with a sigh of relief. Her eyes turned to his… but his seemed drawn to the cleavage revealed as the torn shirt hung loose off Candi’s body.
   She smashed her forehead into his and readied for a second headbutt when she paused… confused. She shifted her hips and curved her back up to look down to where their two bodies pressed together before looking back at him.
   “Are you getting–”
   “Yes. Yes, I am. Sorry… it’s the masochist in me.”
   The edge of Candi’s lips curled up into a grin… getting to tease, frustrate and inflict pain appealled to her inner dominatrix. “Try not to make too big of a mess then.”
   Candi arched back squeezing her hips together looking like she’s getting swept away in passion. She shifted her weight and drove her shoulder down into Ross’ chest grinding through skin, muscles and ribs torn open by her hatchet throw earlier. She pushed deep until she felt his heart splashing against her skin with each beat. She pushed further until she heard a gurgle in his throat as air raced out from one of his lungs.
   She pulled back as drops of blood, bits of muscle and chunks of bone plopped down onto Ross’ chin. She rubbed her pelvis against his examining his reaction. Judging the quality of her work by his growing excitement. Instead she felt something wet.
   The smell of smoldering denim attacked her nostrils as she jumped up off him. She grabbed the picnic blanket and rubbed furiously at the widening spot burning through her jeans underneath her zipper and down the inside of her leg… starting to sizzle away at her plum-colored spandex undershorts.
   Ross grinned as he lumbered to his feet. “I should have warned you about that.”
   “That you’re a premature ejaculator?”
   “No, that I have acid–
   Ross dived to tackle her, but Candi sidestepped him holding out the blanket to catch him across the neck and chest. She spun around to twist up the blanket and kicked him in the back driving him into the ground. She twirled up the blanket tightening it around his upper body–an impromptu vise compressing ribs and inflicting pain with each little turn.
   Holding onto the blanket and keeping him incapacitated, she leaned over to grab her hatchet.
   “This might take me a few chops.” Ross turned his head as far to the side as he could to see what she was doing. He squirmed and rolled trying to break free as the hatchet came flying down toward his neck.
   “But I know you’re gonna enjoy it. Hell, you might even have enough time to enjoy it twice.”
   Simone crawled up beside Candi as she hacked away at the demon’s neck.
   “Sorry, I wasn’t able to help. I was hitting the dry heave zone.”
   “No prob. I had fun with this one.”
   Simone noted the charred holes in Candi’s jeans and undershorts. “I don’t even want to know.”
   Simone’s eyes were drawn to the creature’s body as muscles tensed up. They held taut for a moment before convulsing–fleshy tremors rippling through its body. As the twitching muscles slowed their pace, Simone spotted smoke rising from his waist followed by an olfactory mix of burning grass and melting polyester.
   Candi looked back at the smoke. “Someone’s dying happy. You might want to back up a bit, sweetie… in case Mr. Acid Splurter here starts shooting wild.”
   Simone’s eyes widened as she scooched back from the body. She made it a few feet before the smell and realization of what’s happening sent her stomach into a relapse.
   Candi finally chopped her way through the neck and sat with a thump next to Simone who was on all fours spewing bile and stomach acid from her mouth.
   “It’s okay,” said Candi. “We’ll pick up some ginger ale on the way home and get that stomach all settled.”
   Candi reached over and slid a finger down the inside of Simone’s panties to straighten them out leaving a trail of smeared blood along the way. She paused to let her eyes caress Simone’s curves and let them slide their way down her strong, lean legs.
   “I think you should dress like this more often when we go hunting.”
   “I agree.”
   Candi turned to find Ross’ decapitated head eyeing Simone’s backside and licking his lips.
   “Shut up, you.” Candi smacked the demon head sending it rolling into a nearby tombstone. As its skull collided and sent chips of stone flying in all directions, Candi watched as its body came to life shuddering and spasming for just a second before going dead still again.
   More smoke rose from underneath its hips.
   “I think I’m in love,” said Ross.
   Candi jumped up with hatchet in hand and kicked the body over. She looked over at the head propped against the tombstone.
   “Sorry… already in a relationship.” Candi swung the hatchet with all her might at the body.
   Tears welled up in Ross’ eyes and his bottom lip quivered. “Not Mr. Wiggles.”

Posting from the airport since most of my day will get devoured by flying, layovers, and mystical time zone sharks. San Diego was fun…met some cool people, caught up with friends, and basked in the utter awesomeness of artwork (spent a lot of time wandering through artist alley and the fantasy illustrator area). I’ll post more about the show later, but to all the great people I met this week, thanks for the laughs… and the liver damage (but I know it’s liver damage of love).

A question about actor-in-waiting career choices…

As an actor waiting to hit the right audition at the right time, I’m working temp jobs to pay the bills. I was thinking of finding a better job to cover the rent and help with my acting career. Maybe some grunt work at a Hollywood studio or something like that. What jobs would you recommend for an actor-in-waiting to keep his dreams alive?

Mickey R., Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Dear Mickey,

Patience is tough when the universe won’t get off its lazy butt and line up everything for you when you want it to. Patience is even tougher when the landlord’s a paramilitary freak with access to anti-personnel mines and a Barrett M107 .50 caliber sniper rifle. But don’t worry, The Creative Adviser has ya covered. We scoured the country far-and-wide looking for the best stepping stone careers an actor could wish for.

And here they are, The Creative Adviser’s Ten Best Jobs For an Actor-in-Waiting…

I went to lunch yesterday, and it was a beautiful day in the Dallas area–temperature in the 90s, sunny, clear skies. A big change from what the weather’s been like recently. My first instinct was to grab lunch to go and sit poolside at the hotel soaking it up and killing off my programmer’s tan. But I had work that needed to get done and didn’t want to lose track of the time basking in the sun, so I decided to wait until after work to enjoy the weather just to be safe. Know what happens when you wait to take advantage of a gift like that?

Yep… you find yourself turning around to the sound of thunder and the sight of dark clouds blotting out the sky five minutes before work ends.

It felt like the status quo for me lately. Whenever something fun comes along, my instincts scream at me to take advantage of it, but the parts of my brain in charge of responsibility, commitments and consequences are really quick to step in with a gentle prod of the shotgun barrel to get me back in sync with my chain gang. I used to follow those instincts and have my fun, but it hasn’t been as easy to take those risks lately. Is it all part of growing older? Is it all a symptom of life conditioning me not to take as many risks? Is it an evil corporation’s ghost parrot sitting on my shoulder to make sure I stay on the path of the good little drone?

Maybe it’s time to hang out at the pool and have a little fun.