Stone, water

My mind is finally free to dream of my father. I dreamt last night of him in his prime, a big figure in denim and a white tshirt, tan army cap on his head. Bigger than me by far, sitting legs akimbo on a stool. He brings out a package of bubbles. 

When mom came from Poland, he said, and we had you this is the first toy you had. I blew bubbles for you. Neither of us knew how to use them until we tried. 

My youngest child Guthrie was in the dream. He loved the bubbles. We played with them. I woke and lumbered to the bathroom for a long piss. 

Why is he only coming to me now? In his prime? Maybe I identify with the old him more now. I felt his presence in my body last night while bottling wine in the basement. The manual process of filling and corking reminded me of his habits and hobbies. I sat down like he did, heavy, needing a load off. 

The world has rubbed off my dream dad. The Rush Limbaugh the Fox News. The bad jokes and strange behavior. The cancer diagnosis. The wasting. The tap in his lungs that turned to a rasp. All those things that I missed in the years I had been gone to college and New York. He had an eBay habit that resulted in boxes and boxes of junk watches, knives, and jewelry. He did the eating and overeating thing. The huffing walks to the toilet. The falling. The police coming to lift him because I was too weak. 

That’s not him anymore and I’m glad. My sleeping mind wants memories my waking mind can’t access. Memories of a man before anger at the world turned to anger at those who loved him. 

So all that washed off him like mud washed from a buried stone. All that’s left is the thing that made a young boy stare up in awe at a man too big for life. When the life is washed off and you see what’s left it’s usually good.

Photo by Gary Samaha on Unsplash

Read The First Chapters Of My New Book, More Gods Than Men

I’ve been posting chapters from my new book, More Gods Than Men, on Amazon’s WriteOn. This invitation-only service is a sort of fiction workshop that allows folks to comment and edit books on the fly. The best thing is that I can give you guys access to the service now using the code V6BBECGE. Simply cut and paste that code into the box!

Read on to get a taste of the new book.
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The First Chapter Of Mytro II: Nayzun

The old man thumbed his rosary and looked out at 8th Avenue and the river of trucks and bikes that passed. He was wearing a hooded jacket, old and grey at the edges, and his face was hidden under a soft plaid hunter’s hat. He leaned against the iron fence that protected the front door of his apartment building. It was here where the superintendent left the trash that stank all summer, forcing him to walk the three blocks to the park to the north where, until last year, he sat with his little dog. This summer she was too lame to climb down the stairs and he was to tired to walk without her so he was the only one who spent his time in this silent ministry in the stink of the garbage.
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An Excerpt From Marie Antoinette’s Watch

An excerpt from my upcoming book, Marie Antoinette’s Watch. Sign up for more information here.


A walker in 18th-century Paris, his boots caked with mud and much worse, would not come upon the Place Dauphine by chance. To find the quiet triangle one has to traverse Pont Neuf, or the New Bridge (this, the oldest bridge in the city, was also the first one not covered in houses and shops) onto the island where Paris began: the Île de la Cité. A jog to the left, between two four-story buildings, brings him to a small park with a few stunted trees and perhaps a bench or two where men spoke furiously over plans and scraps of polished metal. The walker, however, could do no better than to sit listening to the quiet susurration of the the trees and the gentle ting-ting of jewelers hammers. It was in this courtyard, he would quickly discover, where the mechanical heart of Paris ticked. It was, in fact, the home to most of France’s most illustrious horologers.
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Great Advice From Ryan McSwain

So there you have it. I expected it to take six months, but it took me three years to finish plus another year to release. There were many weeks and even a few months when I didn’t have the time or energy to work on the book at all, but finishing is worth it. If you take one thing away from this post, I want it to be: whatever your dream is, don’t give up. Even if it takes you years instead of months, don’t give up. Even if you realize the only way your work will reach your audience is if you put it out there yourself, don’t give up.

From How Long Does It Take To Write A Novel

Getting Orwell Wrong

I was ready to come to Amazon’s defense (and I will, eventually). In their long letter to the writing community, they made some excellent points. They inflamed our passions, gave us historical context for our discontent, and then quoted none other than George Orwell on the disruptive nature of paperbacks and the need for evil publishers to crack down on upstart, low-priced alternatives.

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