Til the End of February

In celebration of the second book of the World Between series, I’ll be offering Towers for FREE on Kindle from February 24th through the 28th. This is your last chance to pick it up at zero cost before I rip it from the Kindle Select program and jump ship.

On the plus side, this means it will soon be available on Nook in early March, alongside the long-awaited Impulse.

The third book is well under way and promises to follow the footsteps of its predecessors, blending the best of high action, deep mystery, and Heath’s own special breed of hilarity.

TowersNewCover Impulse_Cover_for_Kindle

And for those local folks, I’ll be doing my first book signing on March 8th from 1 – 3 at the Book Carriage in Roanoke, Texas alongside the talents of Chrissy Cszarek and Scot Morgan! Come in, say ‘hi’, get a book signed, and make crude jokes about Smurfs! They’ve got it coming.

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Cover Letter Done Right

If you’re wondering why nobody responds to your resumes, you may want to take a look over my own cover letter recently sent to mega corporate world leader Match.com.  Please note that I included specific skill sets and even offered a reasonable time for them to call.


Dear Match.com,

I am the kind of get-shit-done individual that you’ve always dreamed of having on staff. When it comes to Financial Data Analysis, I make numbers my bitch. I have a weatherman’s acumen for forecasting and can make budget models out of macaroni, though digital media works just as well. Not only do I boast over two-hundred twitter followers, I’ve tracked and analyzed hundreds of people through Facebook, many of which were completely oblivious.

When it comes to public speaking, I have the kind of voice that draws the attention of everybody in the room, restaurant, or bathroom. I have years of experience talking to seniors and youth alike, though I usually speak slower and with less slang to the older generations, and make sure my graphs have large lettering out of consideration for their decaying vision.

I am detail oriented, as proven by the shininess of my reliable mode of transportation that, yes, I do have one. Plus, I can solve problems without the use of irreverent Latin phrases.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you need me, rest assured that you do. My software skills are off the chart – mostly on computers. My rhetoric skills could sell shit to a litter box. I can rock a bow tie like a mother fucker. The only supervision required is when I need somebody to tell me to go home because I’m just that career oriented and focused.

Besides, you guys owe me for introducing me to my wife.

I will be expecting your call between 2:30 and 4pm Central Standard Time at ###-###-####. I also accept emails, but do not guarantee you will reach me on the same day.


Matthew Bryant

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A Time to Destroy: A SimCity Retrospective


In honor of the upcoming Sim City, I dig this out of the closet:

Remember way back in the day when you’d spend all of recess toiling in the sandbox trying to create the perfect sandcastle? Then just when the bell is about to ring, the school bully and your personal tormenter comes and destroys it, kicking all of your hard work and progress over with one swift movement, leaving you crying in its wake. For the record, the tears were from the sand in my eyes. While you may never have a chance to get her back for all that she’s done because she’s bigger than you and is infected with the cootie virus, you can experience something similar with the classic simulation game, SimCity.
The premise of the game is simple enough – Build housing, commercial business and industrial lots to provide your citizens with places to live and work and the all-too-essential electricity. Out of the box this seems like the greatest idea; an entire civilization at your fingertips and far away from the clutches of Jessica Whatsherface.
In actuality, the so-called power is little more than the ability to place zoning lots and roads. If you’re unsatisfied, you can bulldoze the whole thing for a slight loss of your lack of funds, but that shouldn’t be unsettling to you. Now it’s the responsibility of the people to work with what you have provided. The unsettling is the incessant bitch-fest that you’re about to encounter.
Pollution, crime and traffic immediately begin to spawn their ugly faces into your beautiful Utopia. Suddenly the power plants are too close, so you shut them down and move them. The streets, which have no ability to become expanded to anything larger than a two-way street, are suddenly filled with pixilated boxes. As for the crime, I’m guessing you just have to take their word for it. It’s not like there’s little pixel-people that you can chase down and arrest.
Next thing you know you find out that your teenage daughter is pregnant, your wife’s having an affair with Henry from the mail room and your dog just got run over by the drunkard down the street. While that last part never happens in the game, it seems to fit perfectly with the depressing motif of giving hours of your life for an ever-growing supply of malcontents. So what satisfaction do you achieve by building a megalopolis? How about the fact that God is on your side?
That’s right, the big guy upstairs understands your frustration and lends you his angel of death in the forms tornadoes, earthquakes and even Godzilla to punish the whiny bastards. Your vindictive nature is finally satisfied as fires begin to erupt around the city, power lines are destroyed making lightning strike indefinitely above residential and commercial lots. If this isn’t moving fast enough for you, you still have your handy-dandy bulldozer, destruction that pays. What better way to end the game by destroying the world you worked so hard to build with your pockets overflowing with virtual cash and no more whining.
All in all, I had a lot of fun with this game, frustrating as it may have been. In fact, this entire game may have been an advertisement for the Amish. No electricity, no traffic-ridden roads, just a bunch of good ole boys with Biblical names and wickedly awesome beards.
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INTERVIEW: AMY JOY Talks About ‘The Academie’

Special guest joining me today is Amy Joy, author of Dystopian Juvenile Fiction novel, The Academie

Feel free to pop off some questions of your own if you’ve read The Academie or are interested in picking it up.  Allie Thompson was a bit of a difficult person to archetype.  She seemed very shy and withdrawn, but very non-judgmental and friendly at the same time.  What kind of influences did you have for her?
Quite frankly, Allie is about 98% me at age 19. While still working on the first draft, I became addicted to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Shortly afterward, Allie learned to fence (something I’d never before dreamed of doing)
Incidentally, Bryan’s mom, Anna, is basically me now, so in the book you have young Amy Joy/Allie, and older Amy Joy/Anna. Depending on how you look at it, it may seem a bit creepy, but it’s often true that girls fall in love with men like their father and boys fall in love with women like their mother, so the pairing made sense.

The romantic aspect of this book was very unique in the sense that it was very slow-paced and ‘innocent’ as I like to term it.  To the point that I really wouldn’t call it a romantic YA so much as just a good story.  Is this a new trend in YA fiction you’re looking to start?
I’m a really fussy reader— it’s difficult for me to find books that sustain my attention, so I write the kind of stories I like to read. To me, strong relationships and sweet moments are more important than intense love scenes. Intense romance can be exciting, but it’s also fleeting. When the feeling wears off—both in real life and in story, we are left wanting. But real relationships are multifaceted and so much more interesting, so I try to focus on those.
Also, stories inspire by helping us imagine possibilities we might not have otherwise. There are so many stories where couples get together only to fight, lie, or cheat. Read this enough, and you might start to believe that’s all relationships are and all they can be. Many people settle for that. I haven’t settled. I adore my husband. We truly are best friends. We listen to one another, play together, work together, dream together, are silly together, and watch meteor showers together. I hope to inspire others to find a relationship they are just as happy in and to settle for nothing less.

The characterization was great, but there was this HUGE gap in parental units.  Whereas Bryan’s parents were very opinionated, yet understanding and wholesome, Allie’s parents sometimes seemed more brainwashed than her brother.  Was there any particular statement you were trying to make with this?
There are two things I wanted to address by showing the vast differences in Allie and Bryan’s parents. First, I wanted to deal with the feeling of isolation that comes when you reach the point in maturity where your line of thinking begins to diverge from that of your parents. This happens differently for differently people. In Allie’s case, it was extreme. Second, I wanted to address the fact that too often people—including those we love—blindly follow policies, cultural norms, etc, without questioning them like they should. They buy into the rhetoric, internalize, and repeat it as though they were their own ideas. This is unfortunate. Allie’s parents only ever acted in what they believed was the best interest of their children. Two of the major themes of the book are the questions “What is truth?” and “Can you ever really define good and evil? Is anything ever all good or all bad?” The two sets of parents help play on these themes.

I don’t want to give too much away to those potential readers, but how important was it to keep the Academie’s ‘big secret’ as mysterious as possible until the end?  Was it intended so that readers would pick up on it before Allie herself put the pieces together?
I’m pretty good at guessing the end of stories, and I hate that. My favorite is when there’s a twist I just didn’t see coming—it sends chills up my arms and makes me giddy to the point I’ll be talking about it for days. It was only natural for me to try to create this experience for readers, and it makes me very happy every time someone tells me it happened for them.

A lot of writers will have an audience in mind while they write.  Was there a particular person you were writing this for?

You know, I have been really surprised and delighted at the number of teenage boys and men who have read and enjoyed The Academie because I remember telling my husband repeatedly as I wrote the story that I was writing it for young women and really didn’t think it would appeal to men. Even when he read and enjoyed it and then my brother and brother-in-law did the same, I figured they only enjoyed it because it was the first book they read by someone they knew. It wasn’t until I started hearing rave reviews from men I didn’t know that I started to realize that I had done something I didn’t believe I was capable of: written a story that spoke to men—and more importantly (because it’s considered one of the hardest groups to write for) created a story enjoyed by teenage boys.

You had a LOT of really interesting hobbies – such as wholesome diets, meditation, etc.  These were also all very accurate (don’t ask how I know that please) What was the motivation for research and adding these in?

I have this sick obsession with wanting to know about everything. Seriously. in my final month of high school, the choir I was in had a goodbye program where they showed embarrassing pictures of us and asked us what we were going to do next, and I told everyone that I planned to go to college and major in everything. Well, I’m not done yet, but with two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees, and list of list of hobbies too long to mention, I’m certainly working on it. In all honesty, I didn’t have to do that much research to write The Academie. They were already things I’d studied for fun.

The Academie was adopted as a really good idea in theory, but just didn’t work due to an encroachment on free will.  What were your inspirations/motivations towards this type of environment?
I wanted to address the fact that our culture (and perhaps others as well, but I can only speak from my experience) seems to keep pushing off the age at which we accept people as full, responsible adults. When we are in high school, we are told that everything we do is super-serious now because we are practically adults and it all counts on our permanent record that shapes our future. Meanwhile, they treat us like children. When we turn eighteen and graduate, we are told that now we’re really adults. But what I think many of us find out quickly is that most people—parents, teachers, and even colleges—still pretty much think we are kids. Personally, I craved the responsibility that came with adulthood. I was ready to be on my own—sink or swim—to see how I’d do. I was ready to be handed challenges that I’d have to struggle through because others were counting on me, and I needed to prove to them and to myself that I could do it. But I had trouble finding these opportunities when I was young, and I imagine I wasn’t the only one. I suppose I struggled longer than some because I’m small (I can blend in well with a pack of six graders—in fact, in my twenties, when I chaperoned my youngest brother’s six grade campout, I was mistaken for a sixth grader) and for years I looked much younger than I am (at 37, I’m now getting carded when I buy cooking Sherry). But because I looked so young for so long, I remember very well how teenagers are treated—and mistreated—all too often.  Many people are wary of teens and young adults, most don’t seem to want to accept them as fully responsible, capable adults, and I learned from my experience as the good kid who never really considered doing wrong, that it doesn’t matter. For whatever reason, plenty of people will still think you are dangerous and unpredictable, and they feel the need to try to limit and control your actions as a result. That was the impetus for The Academie.

I loved how you left the book with many questions unanswered, but still comfortably wrapped up at the end.  Any chance you can divulge a bit of tidbits of what readers can look forward to in the next installment?
It’s difficult to say much without giving too much away, but I can say that you will hear more about Shara as well as General Schoolcraft and how The Academie came to be.

My next questions are more about you as a writer.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote my first poem for fun at age five, began my first chapter book in third grade, and I always planned to write books, both fiction and nonfiction. However, because I’m interested in so many things, I guess you can say that I became distracted for a while. It wasn’t until my husband began writing his first novel and he encouraged me to write my own that I became focused on fiction in adulthood. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the evening I first sat down to write fiction again, about three years ago now. My reaction was utter glee. I’ve since filled a file over an inch thick with ideas for future stories.

You’re an indie writer.  What factors encouraged you to take this route of publishing?

By the time I finished writing The Academie, in the summer of 2011, I had just been through a very rough couple of years. I had been diagnosed the prior fall with Graves’ Disease (an autoimmune thyroid disorder), went through radiation and countless numbers of doctor visits, and mounted some pretty large medical bills. Even so, I finished The Academie—a feat I’m quite proud of given how sick I was—and fully intended to send it off to agents for traditional publishing. However, when I began researching the route to publication, I discovered that a new publishing paradigm had emerged. While with traditional publishing agents were taking on few clients, writers had to do their own advertising, publishing royalties were low, and titles that didn’t sell were pulled from the shelf shortly after publication,  self-publishing had found a new life in print-on-demand and digital publishing (something few traditional publishers had yet to get on board with, but I was eager to—I love digital toys), royalties were high—65-85%, and books could be listed in the big name bookstores of Amazon and Barnes and Noble for as long as you’d like them to stay there, so they had time to find and build an audience.  After the struggle I’d been through with my health, I wasn’t about to watch The Academie sit for years while I found an agent, they found a publisher, and then it was prepped for publication for months more, nor was I willing to give up creative control or take on tiny royalties when I’d poured everything I had at that point in time into that story and I needed the money to recover from the medical bills. I read of the struggles of self-publishing, but I knew I had the skills and the drive to do it and be successful. I’ve never regretted it.

In January of this year, you founded the Indie Writer’s Network.  Would you care to divulge a bit more information about this venture?

I started the network about six months after I published The Academie. I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that there’s no reason we should all have to make the same mistakes. If someone (like me) has already learned the hard way, why should everyone else have to suffer through the same lesson? There’s a lot to learn about the craft of writing and publishing, and there are a whole lot of marketing skills you need to gain to become a successful author—indie or traditionally published.  While I found a lot of great writers to follow on Twitter who were writing fantastic articles about writing and publishing on their blogs, I craved a community where we could become friends and support one another on this journey. Hence the Indie Writer’s Network (IWN) was born. Now five months later, IWN is a fully functional social network hosting almost 200 members, free and open to all indie and aspiring writers, with plenty of opportunities to make friends, share the joys and struggles of writing and publishing, learn tips of the trade, and discover great new indie books. In addition, members can create a networked blog (or import an existing one) so members can easily find great articles and updates by their writer friends.

Thank you so much for your time.  I know that myself and your other readers are excited to see what you come out with next.  Any closing words you’d like to share with readers current and potential before we close?
Thanks so much for taking the time to hear my story, and thank you to Matthew for this opportunity and for asking some great questions, which made this a lot of fun for me. For those who’d like to learn more or keep updated on the series, you can visit the series website: http://theacademieseries.com or my author website: http://amysjoy.com. Also, I hope anyone interested in writing and publishing will join us on the Indie Writer’s Network: http://indiewritenet.com.
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Music That Tells a Story

I’ve always been one to believe that all music tells a story.  For some songs, it’s pretty easy to discover.  A little ditty about Jack and Diane comes to mind along with just about any song by Meatloaf.  For others, there’s a story behind the music, lyrics expressing emotions of times come and gone in a metaphor of self-establishing moments.

My favorite kind, however, has always been the instrumental.  Most of my stories have been inspired through music, letting my mind wander on a long commute or road trip.  Even back when my friends and I used to ‘nerd it up’ around a session of table-top role-playing, we’d always supply a soundtrack to set the mood for individual scenes.

Whenever I started on my latest manuscript, the first thing I did was search for some new music to set the mood.  I’d been listening to a lot of Celldweller mixed in with video game soundtracks for the first one, but the music and the story were kind of all over the place.  After a bit of searching and research, I came across The Luna Sequence and fell in love.  Since then, I’ve been running her first full album, “They Follow You Home”, on loop through my writing.  The music fits perfectly with the tone as well as the setting, keeping me nailed down from scene to scene.
Through Twitter (aka Celeb-stalker.com) I was able to get in contact with Kaia Young, the genius behind The Luna Sequence.  She was gracious enough to spend some time answering a few of my questions about the science behind her art.  Please enjoy the interview and take the time to check out some of her work, maybe even find a place for it in your own writing soundtrack.

You have an undeniably amazing talent for creating industrial tracks. What got you started making music?

I got started just by being a music fan! I grew up in a very… culturally isolated rural community, music was my window to the rest of the world. I always loved the import section of record stores, it was amazing to me that a small piece of culture could travel across the world and end up in the middle of Missouri! I didn’t have internet access until my teenage years, so music was really my only way of knowing there was something else out there besides what I saw every day. My early attempts at songwriting were as much about trying to feel connected to something as they were about any musical ideas. If CD’s from Europe found their way into my possession, how far could my own voice reach?

Have you always worked solo or have you worked with others?

I’ve been in a number of different bands over the years. I’ve always tried to maintain some kind of balance between solo and group work since they require (and develop) different sets of skills. Up until recently, there has never been an electronic music scene anywhere near me, so any non-solo projects tended to be more on the metal and punk side of things. I actually have a project I’m working on right now with a talented singer, which has been wonderful in preventing me from staying in my pretentious and self-indulgent instrumental box!

You’ve done remixes for several Fixt artists including two of my favorites, Celldweller and Blue Stahli. Have you ever considered doing a collaboration?

I’d love to do something like that in the future, I’ve always enjoyed working with vocals! I’m not really well-known enough to get the attention of those two in particular, but I do have a literal list of people to start harassing about collaborations now that my album is finished. Hopefully, I will be able to announce something soon!

You named ‘The Luna Sequence’ after a phenomena of a psych ward that locked patients in isolation during the full moon to prevent suicide attempts. What about this attracted your attention?

It really grabbed me as a perfect picture of how poisonous our society can be to vulnerable people. We are so busy criminalizing the symptoms that we fail to notice we are also spreading the disease. It’s easy to now look back at situations like that and say that the people in authority were blind, but the same trends and systems still exist today. How often do we decide what is best for other people and strip away their voice when they try to tell us the consequences of our actions? To me, it’s a reminder to consider my actions carefully, because being 100% completely wrong about something can feel a lot like being 100% right.

What are some of your inspirations for your music?

All of the pieces of ourselves that we are afraid to bring to light and examine. I’ve always been inspired by the journey to find beauty hidden in dark places. One thing we all have in common is that we are all hiding something. At what cost do we keep these things hidden? What would happen if we showed everyone our true ugliness? Would that make us less, or more connected? Regarding actual music, I don’t really listen to a lot of electronic music. It may just be a product of being a child of the 90s, but I’ve always been really into the whole singer/songwriter thing. I experimented with writing in that style for a long time and eventually started studying classical music in an attempt to get outside of the commonly used chords and phrases. Even though it was the complexity that initially attracted me to classical music, I ended up being amazed at the simplistic vocal quality of some cello/violin players. They seemed to convey all of the same meaning of a singer, but without needing words. Since then, I’ve been inspired by people who find ways to communicate meaning without words.

What do you often focus on when recording? That is to say, what’s the thought process?

I tend to start with some kind of a visual image in mind. From there, I try to come up with ways to tell the story of the image as a series of connected moments. My thought process is really centered around trying to define those specific moments in musical terms. The moment could be anything, an abrupt change, a chord progression, a particular sound, whatever creates the image or emotion I am trying to communicate. Once those moments are defined, I can develop the rest of the song to connect the moments.

What kind of literature are you drawn to?

Stories about people finding strength in their weakness. I love a good tragedy, but I hate victims. At least half of the books I have read have been biographies or sociological works. I also have to admit that I am a huge sci-fi nerd. So, I suppose that I like stories that are either exactly like real life, or nothing like it at all!

Aside from music, do you have any other artistic talents?

I do actually have a fine arts degree, though I’m currently working in a different field. I did freelance studio work for several years, and occasionally continue to do some on the side. I’ve been focusing more on concert photography recently, though I am wanting to get back into studio work at some point. Recently, I’ve been considering doing a series of silkscreen prints based off of some of the TLS songs. I may post some pics eventually if they turn out well!

Your most recent release, Persona, has some similarities to popular video game music from the early 90’s.  Have you ever considered doing work for soundtracks? (Games or otherwise)

It’s definitely something that I would love to get into! I’ve always felt that music has been undervalued in other forms of media. It’s pretty much a requirement that any big budget movie has some kind of an “epic” soundtrack, but how often is it just yet another generic orchestral arrangement with big concert hall drums, some guitar and the latest Loopmasters sample CD on top? Can you even remember the melody when it’s over? Great film music can become as iconic as the film itself. I’ve actually been reading quite a bit on game soundtrack design recently, and have always been interested in the more interactive applications, such as when the music is directly influenced by what’s going on, rather than progressing in a linear fashion.

You have a new album, ‘This is Bloodlust’, coming out April 2nd. This will be your second full album. How does it differ from your other releases?

Overall, the writing process was a lot more focused. I knew when I started the project that I was going to be doing a full length, so I spread out my time and worked on all of the songs at once instead of just finishing one at a time. Taking that different approach enabled me to view the album as a cohesive whole, which resulted in me incorporating a wider range of ideas than I might have otherwise. I also made a deliberate effort to develop some particular ideas and concepts that I had been avoiding. In the past, many of the themes I explored were based on observations of other people’s lives that paralleled my own in some way, though I rarely directly referenced my own experiences. I ended up unearthing a lot of things I had been ignoring, which was therapeutic and catastrophic all at the same time! It was actually quite difficult to finish the album towards the end, I’m very happy to be done with it!

I noticed the demo single, Parallels, has a very large range of instruments and tempos, but still manages to flow together very well. Would you mind sharing the story behind this song?

It was based off of a moment of realization when I discovered that a force I thought was opposed to me was actually just moving parallel to me. My writing process was mainly focused around the abrupt change right after the second chorus. I structured the chorus so that it felt like a long build up to something, only to violate that expectation and go in a different direction instead. I deliberately incorporated a lot of different changes to give the song a very turbulent feel.

Which of all your recorded tracks do you feel the strongest connection with? Is that a fair question to ask?

Ocean Under Light, which was the last song on They Follow You Home. The whole album was a narrative of a disgraced who is haunted by the images and voices of those who have accused her of crimes she had not committed. After experiencing this for years, she eventually started to believe and internalize the accusations, and eventually drowned herself. The imagery of Ocean Under Light was based off of a recurring dream about drowning that I had for years, which is probably responsible for my obsession with water-based imagery.

You’ve been releasing music for several years now. Any big hopes for the future?

I’d love to be able to get to a point where I can make a living writing or performing music someday. I realize that there is not much of a market for overly long and pretentious instrumental electronic songs that you can’t really dance to… but with a combination of licensing, engineering, remixing, and probably some art on the side, I hope to be able to pull it off eventually! I would also like to be able to do a live show someday. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of doing the whole DJ thing, so I’ve been working quietly on the side to develop a way to pull off the songs completely 100% live with 3 performers.

Again, I’d like to say a great big “Thank you” to Kaia for sharing some of her life and art with us.  Be sure to check out The Luna Sequence.  Her latest album, ‘This is Bloodlust’, is due to be released on April 2nd and is available for pre-order at Bandcamp.com.

So how about you guys?  What’s your writing soundtrack?

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On Flirting


One of the people I follow on twitter brought me to change my pace for a moment.  Please take the following advice with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila.
The Birth of Flirting:
In ancient Babylonian times, it was customary for tribes to bestow their beloved with one final and ultimate gift of appreciation.  Martyring was seen as a blessing from God, one final sacrifice toward the kingdom of heaven.  The honor of being bludgeoned to death by rocks was later incorporated into child’s play of younger boys chasing the young girls around and tossing pebbles to get their attention.  Over the centuries, this has reached an evolutionary peak and is seen as the first confrontation of argument in a healthy relationship.  Unfortunately, the times have changed and with women in control, this time-honored tradition of abuse to show one’s true affection has been ruled out-dated and more specifically, vulgar.  Thus the rant of flirting begins.
Initiating conversations with the sex of your choosing is, in many ways, comparable to walking on egg-shells with roller-skates.  The reasoning for the target’s excuses of not buying what you’re selling can range anywhere from vanity, a conflict of interests, or you’re simply barking up the wrong tree.  While none of these should discourage a person from initiating the conversation, the legislative society has made it far too easy to pull out a lawsuit in that bag of goodies you’re reaching for.  So please remember these key features towards flirting.
The Rules of Attraction:
Everybody loves attention, it’s not sexual harassment if they think you’re cute.  Always know the limitations of your own appearance before suggesting a beef injection.  While a less attractive person may find themselves unemployed, hospitalized, or imprisoned for such actions, the pretty people, even if not stirring the interest of the harassed, will more likely be threatened by nothing more than a smile that can only be translated as ‘I’m not that desperate, yet.’  For the more tenacious suitors, always look for signs of ‘yet’ in all actions.
Subtle Flirting:
Beating around the bush can be fun, but it will only hold interest for a little while.  Sure you can touch on a few sensitive areas, but after the stimulus wears off, the recipient of your attention will either be demanding you plunge in, or turn cheek to you for one of the other stimulators.  If you think you’re the only one pursuing, I would recommend doing extensive research on the word ‘fiction’ in order to discover more of the world you’re currently residing in.
Competitive Flirting:
Unless you have finally given in to the concept that you will never find true lust and are settling for looking for that single person you wish to be with for the rest of your life, you must realize that sometimes you have to suck it up and listen to the whimsical babble escaping from the lips of your target that can only be described as chronic diarrhea of the mouth.  Utilizing the chunks picked from the mess, you can create a better idea of what defines the person you’re ‘listening’ to.  If you do not fit the description of what you gather to be the current ideal of a partner, and I promise it will change before the next full moon, there are two paths that may be taken.  You may either lower yourself to the level of pretending to be that person, or you may simply walk away and find somebody more interesting.  If you feel the urge to change yourself for the purpose of fornication, please remember to keep all changes temporary until such an event has been achieved.  If you are looking to change yourself for something more perpetual than a night of exchanging blasphemies, then stop reading because there is no hope for you.  See also: Convent/monkhood.
The Faces of Flirting:
There’s more than one way to skin a cat.  While the previous expression is completely untrue, it is true that there are many ways to flirt.  Facial expressions and body language are generally the best form of pre-flirting.  If used and read properly, it will allow the next few actions to take their course without threat of legal ramifications.  These range from a casual brush against the arm, suggesting that skin on skin contact is a possibility, to smiles and winks.  On a side note, those attempting to act or view while under heavy influences of alcohol should be aware that there are only few subtle differences between a flirty smirk and an evil sneer.  Please take all possible scenarios into consideration before going into operation.
Obnoxious Flirting:
If you can get away with this, you need to do one of two things; set higher standards or enjoy it while it lasts.  Beauty is fleeting.  Examples of obnoxious flirting are as follows:
Hanging out of a car window while your buddy honks.
“Tripping” into grabbing a person’s package of gender.
Using tactless and yet still unfunny pick-up lines.  There is a difference.
Using signs of body language (pre-flirting) on yourself.
As you can see, the world has moved quite a ways from the origins as far as flirting is involved.  In my opinion, the ancient Babylonians would be distressed as their entire message has been ruined:

“If you love someone – kill them.  If they come back to you – run.”

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On Clive Barker


I remember when I was in grade school, Clive Barker was a name synonymous with Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  All I knew about him at the time was that he was a horror writer.  Lucky for me, I loved to read horror.

The first Clive Barker novel I picked up was Weaveworld, an unusual story where a magical race of people attempted to escape adversity by weaving an entire portion of reality into a rug, where they hid for centuries.  The concept was so bizarre, and even writing it out now I can never do it justice.  The characters, the world, the descriptions… it was beautiful, as I’m certain was the intent.  I learned very quickly that my previous theory was outrageously far-fetched and the gap between genres grew by horizons.  You see, Clive Barker doesn’t write horror fiction.  He writes art.

I became a ravenous reader, grabbing every piece of literature I could get my hands on.  Libraries, bookstores and Amazon, wherever I could hunt down the next experience, the next window into the fantastic worlds in Barker’s mind.

The most recent book I read was Sacrament.  While Weaveworld will always be my favorite, perhaps because it was my first, this book is unlike anything I have ever read.  While some people will horde over romance novels looking for some glimpse of what they believe is missing in their lives, Sacrament is a different kind of love story and, in my opinion, the purest of its kind.  While Clive Barker’s stories are never without a healthy dose of lust, often in awkward and horrific ways, Sacrament deals with love in the sense of relationships and how those closest to us build themselves into our lives and create who we are.  Sure it wasn’t the main theme of the book, but it’s what I took away.  I’m a grown man now with a wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters, and it’s this type of love that feeds me in the dark times.

For those who don’t know, we almost lost Clive this past year.  While he’s recovering, it’s a slow process of regaining strength and achieving minor victories each day that the rest of us would take for granted.  I am eternally grateful for the extra time gifted to us to have such a marvel of the literary world.  In all my years of reading, I have never found his equal and want to personally thank him for being my inspiration in all things writing and art.

I feel that my work pales in comparison, and always will.  One thing that I’ve taken from Mr. Barker is the understanding that all characters, good and evil, are conflicted.  There’s a balance to each of them, a darkness and a humanity, even in Mister B. Gone.  This complication has never failed to intrigue and delight me in every page I’ve turned.

So to Clive Barker, I would like to say thank you for sharing your gift with the world.  Thank you for having the strength and will to overcome finality.  Thank you for your unique visions of art that can only be described as hauntingly alluring.  Thank you for being my muse and inspiring fantastic world, characters and ideology.  But mostly, thank you for being the wonderful man that you are.  All my love and support.

-Matthew Bryant

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