Life Finds a Way

It has taken me nearly 18 months to make peace with the fact that my brain has permanently, and irreversibly changed.

It has also taken me 18 months to realize how truly blessed I am because of the changes.

Weird. I feel blessed because of  30 strokes.

Well, I’m still around. And I have most of my physical abilities. My cognition when it comes to things like strategy, numbers and logic has been annihilated, however. And I gave up my car and driving for the time being.

Blessed. Truly.

I can no longer do the work I’ve been doing for thirty-two years. That career has been shattered. I won’t lie to you, I was in a pretty bad funk about that fact. But life finds a way.

I started writing again in rehab back in November 2015 at the insistence of one of my therapists.  I could barely walk or speak, let alone hold a pencil.

I hated her for making me write, back then. My first journal entry was three words, scrawled almost illegibly:

“Fuck this shit.”

Now? Eighteen months later? Well, let me quote Stephen King:

 “Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

And so it goes.

Last Friday, I was surprised and shocked to receive an acceptance letter to Emerson College–to their MFA program in Popular Fiction writing. They also threw a massive scholarship at me, to which I am eternally grateful.

The application was a bit of a lark–and like everything else lately, I had a load of help with the admission process. My wife, who is the most exquisite human to ever walk this earth, has been at my side–always encouraging, always helping.

I received four brilliant references from wonderful authors who I both respect and admire ( Matthew Munson and Dr. Bill Kirton from my show The Word Count Podcast, my friend, instructor and mentor, Richard Thomas, and World Fantasy and Nebula award-winning author, James Morrow). I submitted samples of my published work and an essay (the story of my writing rebirth after surviving trauma).

Four days after submitting my application, I was accepted.

This has been the culmination of recovery, acceptance, and a desire to take this “new cognitive me” out for a spin.

For all those who have helped me, I am forever in your debt. Know that I will do you proud during this next adventure.

Welcome to the class of ’19, you brain-damaged old man. You are truly blessed.


The #WordCountPodcast Episode 65 is Now Open for Submissions!

For April, the picture selected for our prompt was from our own Bill Kirton, Word Count Irregular par excellence.

But before revealing the prompt, I must beg you all to get your friends to like the #WordCountPodcast Facebook page. I’ll be posting some new content there shortly, exclusively for fans of the show who liked the page.

Telling you what I’ll be posting would be playing fair. Stay tuned!

But here’s the link to the page. Spread the word won’t you? We have a goal of 1000 likes this season!

The Word Count Podcast

So, then. Episode 65.


Bill sent in the following:

I thought it was beautiful, a little haunting, and perfect for writers to sink their teeth into. You must also use the month of April in your setting.

What happens next, dear sinners, is entirely up to you!

Thinking of writing something for the show? Please do! All submissions are welcome!

If you want to listen to past (free) shows, the links below will take you to them:




There are Sixty-four shows available right now!




DEADLINE: I must receive your submission by Friday 28 April 2017 by MIDNIGHT Eastern time.

THE DETAILS: The work must be an original story based on the picture above and the month of “April.”

Do NOT exceed SEVEN minutes.

As this is a podcast, I need to receive a file of YOU, a friend or multiple friends reading (singing or otherwise performing) your work. MP3 FORMAT ONLY, and please attach your MP3 file to an e-mail or contact me for a Dropbox link.

Your submission MUST also contain the following:

  • Your pen name
  • Your latest bio (DO NOT ASSUME I HAVE YOUR LATEST)
  • Links to your website(s) – Include your personal site, Facebook Fanpage etc.
  • Your Twitter handle (if you have one)
  • A photo of you I can use for the show notes
  • At the end of your recording, please add “This is <state your name> author of <state your work(s)> and you’re listening to The Word Count Podcast.”
  • Permission to use your recording in the podcast.
  • PLEASE Make sure you have included ALL ARTIFACTS I have asked for. Do not assume I can “Get your picture from the internet” or can “Pull your bio from your web page.”

Send your file to (or via the dropbox link I can provide) by 28 April 2017. You can also e-mail me with questions beforehand. I do reserve the right NOT to post your submission, but will communicate that to you should it be the case. I add the ‘Explicit’ tag to the ‘cast, so if your story uses adult themes or language that’s ok—but it should be necessary for the story.

***NOTE: I will NOT accept stories that are discriminatory in ANY WAY (whether it be by race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc.) or that include rape. ***


OFF BEAT: Nine Spins on Song

Inspired by favorite songs, nine fantasy and science fiction authors spin tales of adventure, intrigue, mystery, and horror.

I love release days!

And I adore the authors at Wicked Ink Books.

Last year, after WIB’s award-winning anthology TICK TOCK was released, the seven authors opened up submissions for their next anthology. I submitted my story, Thanksgiving in the Park inspired by the Guns ‘n’ Roses song November Rain.

Months of edits, proofing and communications later, you can now read what we have all been working toward.

I hope you will pick up a copy–and look into other works by these talent folks.

A little blurb about each story

  • A boy follows his girlfriend’s suicide note to its disturbing conclusion.
  • A man must pass on an ancient curse of immortality before his time finally runs out.
  • Two lost beings fight for life, for each other, and to find a way home.
  • A serial killer from the future, banished to present day, must control her homicidal urges in order to survive.
  • A thief and a sex worker find their paths unexpectedly entwined in ways that threaten both of their lives.
  • For a caged girl, one hand gives, but the other takes away all she’s ever known.
  • To gain their freedom, quarreling townsfolk must find a way to cross a bottomless ravine.
  • A man interrupts a monster at work and is determined to entertain the creature long enough to stay alive.
  • When his father’s ghost appears, a businessman is forced to reflect on his life.

The eBook is available right now at AMAZON, and the paperback will be available shortly.

In the meantime, here is a bit about my 8 compatriots:

Calypso Kane

Calypso Kane lives in the cooking heart of Texas. She writes fantastical fictions about the fey, the fanciful, and the fiendish. Her short stories have been published in anthologies such as The Odd and the Bizarre, Strange Little Girls, and Her Dark Voice 2. Between submissions she enjoys picking absently at her own stories, hibernating, and telling herself she’ll get around to her growing tower of unread new books eventually.


Corinne O’Flynn

I am a native New Yorker living in Colorado, and wouldn’t trade life in the Rockies for anything. I love writing fantasy and mystery, and experimenting with short fiction. I am a self-proclaimed scone aficionado, a professional napper, and I have an entire section of my kitchen devoted to tea. When I’m not writing, I can be found hanging with my husband and our kids, playing board games, knitting, reading, or binge watching some fabulous shows (while sipping tea).

A.G. Henley

A.G. Henley is a contributor to Wicked Ink Books’ anthologies, OFF BEAT: Nine Spins on Song and TICK TOCK: Seven Tales of Time, and the author of the Brilliant Darkness series. The first book in the series, THE SCOURGE, was a Library Journal Self-e Selection and a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award. A.G. is also a clinical psychologist in Denver, Colorado. She promises not to analyze you… much.

Sue Duff

Sue Duff was born in Chicago, IL but grew up in Phoenix, AZ. She dreamed of dragons and spaceships before she could read and combines Fantasy and SciFi in her breakout series, The Weir Chronicles. When she’s not saving the world, one page at a time, she’s walking her Great Dane, getting her hands dirty in the garden or cooking up something delicious in her kitchen.

Wendy Terrien

Wendy Terrien received her first library card at age two, and a few years later started writing her own stories. Her debut novel, The Rampart Guards (February 2016), earned a Kirkus starred review and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2016. The novel is a #1 regional bestseller, and is the first in her intriguing urban fantasy series.

Wendy graduated from the University of Utah (go Utes!) and transplanted to Colorado where she completed her MBA at the University of Denver. She focused her marketing expertise on the financial and technology industries until a career coach stepped in and reminded Wendy of her passion for writing. Wendy began attending writers conferences, workshops, and retreats.

She regularly participates in two critique groups and is the Secretary of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and a member of Pikes Peak Writers. In 2014, Wendy was a finalist in the San Francisco Writer’s Contest.

Wendy lives in the Denver area with her husband, Kevin, and their three dogs: Maggie, Shea, and Boon. All of her dogs are rescues, and Wendy is passionate about promoting shelter adoptions. If you’re in Colorado, you may even be able to spot her by her “Adopt a Shelter Pet” license plates.

Kristi Helvig

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy writer. You can find her musing about space monkeys, Star Trek, and other random topics on her blog. Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, kids, and behaviorally-challenged dogs.

Rebecca Taylor

Rebecca Taylor is the indie author of ASCENDANT, winner of the 2014 Colorado Book Award and a Library Journal National Self-e Select title; MIDHEAVEN; THE EXQUISITE AND IMMACULATE GRACE OF CARMEN ESPINOZA, and her latest release, and RWA RITA Finalist, AFFECTIVE NEEDS.

She obtained her BA in psychology and sociology from the University of Colorado, Denver, and her Ed.S in school psychology from the University of Northern Colorado. In addition to writing, she works as a school psychologist and teaches at Regis University in their MFA program.

She lives with her husband, two children, three dogs, and two tortoises in Denver, Colorado. She loves to travel and spends probably too much time on the interwebs planning trips. When she’s not planted in front of her keyboard, she likes to watch movies on Netflix, camp, read, do jigsaw puzzles, hike, drink tea, snow ski, swim in the ocean, watch people, eat peanut butter, run miles to nowhere on a treadmill, troll bookstores, stare into the abyss, and worry that she should probably be writing instead.

Shawn McGuire

Colorado-based author Shawn McGuire started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that’s episode IV) as a kid. She couldn’t wait for the next installment to come out so wrote her own. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then. Her young adult novels deal with harder issues—dating violence, death of a family member, bullying, and teen suicide. Since those topics can be hard to handle, she infuses a good bit of humor as well because she believes that laughter can help you get through just about anything.