When The Devil Rips Your Heart Out

I haven’t done a book review for a while, but what I read yesterday warranted this review.

I’ve read two of Gabino Iglesias’s books, Coyote Songs and The Devil Takes You Home.

Gabino is one of those writers who can rip your heart out with a turn of phrase. He can melt your heart on the next page.

The Devil Takes You Home is both of these. While reading it, I stared at the prose, analyzing how he constructed everything.

I’ve taken a few classes from Gabino. He’s one of those writers who will offer help if you need it. He pushes you to get better at the craft of writing. In the last class I took from him, he said he was looking forward to what I was working on. He had no idea what I was working on, but he’s always nudging you to keep going.

There were so many instances in the book I could see the determination he talks about on Twitter in the main character whose life has been turned upside down. It’s been a while since I could relate so well to a character.

There’s this constant thing in this book about being brown, white, or black in America. I am a white guy. I grew up in Utah and Wyoming. There were times we didn’t have enough food. My parents couldn’t afford preschool, so I went to HeadStart, but at the core of me is my whiteness. I won’t ever see the struggle of a brown man in America. I won’t get the racial jabs or the straight-out racist bullshit on the book’s pages. This is because of my skin tone.

Gabino dives into that at various points in the book because that is his worldview. That’s the world he’s lived in since he was born. One quote from the book will always stand out to me, “A silent ally isn’t a thing.” That floored me. My position as a CisHet, White Male, is the golden ticket. I become more aware of this every day.

I can’t say that I’ve never seen racism. I have. I’ve heard people say the N-word in front of me. Growing up in one of the whitest states in America, you hear these words from family or friends growing up. Those words aren’t treated how they should be because it’s a joke to them. Making friends with many people of various ethnicities, gender identities, and sexual preferences makes you realize how others are treated. This is something I’m more aware of than I used to be.

I read to learn. This is as much a topic in fiction as nonfiction. We’re not moving forward if we’re not learning about other cultures. If we’re ignoring writers like Gabino because of where he’s from, Puerto Rico, we’re doing a severe disservice to ourselves.

Gained A Level, or a few.

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I sat down the other day and wrote out all the projects I’ve written in the seven years since my family moved from Las Vegas to Ogden, Utah.

I have 10 projects either done, outlines, or ready to be written.

Four thrillers in the military/political/espionage realm and six in the horror genre.

I’ve been hard as hell on myself for the last few months. Writing these down feels like I’ve gained a level in my writing.

I’m a big gamer, and I have been since the ’80s. Looking at all this feels like I gained a level in one of my games. The fear of rejection and the fraud police will always be on my mind, but I have a date for my military/political thriller novel, November 1st. Here is the link.

But I want to thank everyone who commented on my posts over the last few months. I’m working through some things personally, and all of your support has been amazing.

I have a whiteboard above my desk, and I have all of the books I’ll be publishing until 2024 listed. There are seven with dates. I have one of the 10 I listed above out on submission. As soon as I get a reply on that, I’ll add it to the queue.

I write horror and military/political/espionage thrillers. I grew up watching horror and reading thrillers. Tom Clancy will always be my favorite in the genre, but Mark Greaney, Jack Carr, David Baldacci, Brad Thor, and Brad Taylor are my favorites right now.

Here‘s my list of what I’m currently reading.

I hope you have a good rest of your week.

Not sure where this is going.

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve thought about where I’m going with my writing. What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong?

I don’t have answers to either of those questions. I feel I put in enough time editing than I used to. I feel I’ve worked hard to overcome many of my crutch issues.

I submit when I see a call that a story will fit with. I work on my craft by reading books on writing and reading all genres of books. I’m thinking of stepping away to work on something else. Myself.

I have a novella out on submission and a thriller novel that I’ll be submitting in August, but after writing 13 novels and novellas, I’m not enjoying this. I write daily because that’s the deal my wife and I made when we left Las Vegas.

I would write and bartend a few days to make ends meet.

Anymore, I wonder if I’m helping her out enough. If I’m helping my kids enough.

Am I doing everything I can to make them happy?

There’s one thing about this I haven’t put forward often. Am I doing enough to make myself happy?

I don’t usually think about this. I used to put myself before anyone. That came from having the biological father I did. He always put himself first. I did that for years. I’ve worked hard to not be that way, but I think something was lost.

I think more about making others happy and not myself. I worry about whether others are getting what they need. I never consider what I need. It just doesn’t feel like I’m as important as everyone else. Maybe that has to do with my childhood, I’m not sure. I know this mentality has screwed up how I view my writing life.

I’m leaning towards getting the thriller submitted and seeing how it goes. Afterward, I’ll reevaluate my writing and whether I’ll write to submit, which is what I’ve done for the last seven years.

I have my story collection on Amazon and wish it would do well, but it hasn’t. After two years on Amazon and other places, I may pull it after it goes through its cycle on KU.

Today I finished a story, and it’s brutal and destructive. I don’t know what I’ll do with it right now. Probably keep it with the rest of my stories on my hard drive. I’ve worked hard on these stories. I’d like someone else to enjoy them.

I’m beginning to think I missed the turnoff somewhere. I don’t know where to go from here.

Getting through it

There have been many days where I wanted to quit. When it all felt worthless. When I wanted to throw my laptop and all the stories I’ve written in the trash.

This last week I spent time with my family at Disneyland. It was fun but we have our issues sometimes. I’m sure it’s that way with every family.

It made me realize that my head was getting in the way of my progress. I was letting my thoughts run my life. That’s not a way to live. The thoughts were terrible and I wish I could forget all of them, but they’re still there in some empty space in my brain.

I didn’t write on that trip. I barely took any pictures. I stayed as much in the moment as I could. And it was hard. I can’t remember the last time I put everything away and stayed in the moment so solidly. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done.

I’m usually on my phone looking at social media, but I only did that on a couple of instances last week.

Being in the moment was as difficult sober as I knew it would be. There were too many times I wanted a drink to steady my brain. It made me want a drink and it also made me lash out at my family. That was my fault. I wasn’t prepared for all of what was going on around me and I wanted to dull it.

No dulling happened and I stayed a bit angry. I’m angry at myself today for not handling it better and for not understanding how difficult it would be to manage all of the stimulation around me. Which I should have.

Now I’m back at the desk working this week. I’m making my way through Tim Waggoner’s Writing In The Dark Workbook and will have a review with some of the exercises up when I’m done.

I can’t say enough about how this book has helped me. I’ll save that for the review.

I hope you’re going to have a good week and as I struggle to deal with my behavior I hope you’re managing your own.

The change is here

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When I said the change was coming last week, I meant this.

My world was turned upside down in the last three months. I wrote about that on Monday.

I found myself hating writing, hating myself, and not wanting to do anything to improve any of it.

The change is about acknowledging those things. It’s about understanding why I fell into a depression and how I must get out of it and work through it all to be a better person for myself.

There are many steps on a path, but the first step to improving oneself is the most important. On this journey, I’ve learned to understand that change sucks. Coming out of a dark place into the light, or at least as much light as I allow into my life, is worth everything.

My writing never took precedence over anything, and surely not editing.

Today I’m writing this post on Sunday before it posts. I need this separation from the blog articles. I’ll write blog articles on the weekends and fiction during the week.

I’ve discussed a new schedule for my writing day. How I’ll manage my writing and the editing I need to do. These are intrinsic to the goals I’ve set. The execution will be the more difficult aspect of all of this.

I am now sober for 76 days. I say this not as a brag but as something I’m proud of. I’ve consumed alcohol regularly, barring the few times I’ve gone sober over the last two years since I turned 18. Some of those times are good, but all of them are cloudy.

I’ve reached a point at 46 where alcohol no longer works for me. It dissolves me into a bottle, and the contents are not who I wish to be. It’s a long fight. I need to do it for myself.

Today is another day on this patch of dirt, and I’m glad I’m here.