This marks an attempt on my part to return to . . . this. Whatever the heck this is. Picking up the pen again. Setting down the press. Gonna blog my little heart out, if I can.

I’m going to hit this off with a spectacular Welcome Back party to myself. So, from all of us here at ADBane.com (by which I mean myself), to you, Mister Bane, sincerely, welcome back to the sphere. I hope it treats you well; and on the off chance that it does, remember us. If it doesn’t, we never knew you.

Well, as I’m sitting here struggling within myself for something to write down in this blog post, I realize something rather alarming: I have nothing to say. How irksome.

In the wake of that first realization something else occurs to me. Will anyone even read it if I do write something down? I certainly hope so.

The result of this and other pressing thoughts on my mind is that I’ve come to what I hope is a suitable compromise. Here’s the query letter I’m currently working on for BEYOND THE WASTELAND. It’s already written, and if no one reads it then nothing will have change my situation.

 

Jonas Arthur lived the life of a gunrunner, perhaps the most successful outlaw west of Dodgetown. But when he picked up the pieces of a dead friend’s life, and ran an unfinished heist, his plans went awry. Instead of the Drenditch Express Coach steaming down the rails at Little Puretill, a demon-train went by with a whisper of the wind in the prairie grass. Now Jonas finds himself on a journey that will take him beyond the wasteland, beyond the very world that he knows, to find the meaning of the coach-train.

 

Jonas is following the rails west in the path of the train, hellbent on catching it up. In Drayton Camp he is reluctantly joined in his pursuit by his rival, Kid Darkfinger – an unlikely companion, but one who has heard the cry of the coach-train. They find themselves at war with mutual foes when Darkfinger saves Jonas from a hanging. But, united by a common enemy and the call of the train, and they leave Drayton on the run together. They head west, over the Sundry Hills and into the wastelands beyond – the True Frontier, as it is called – where the test of time and a fractured world only serves to drive them forward. Though the walking dead, desert-raiders, the cruel bite of the wasteland itself, and much fouler entities vie to impede their progress, they are driven on by the memory of the coach-train.

 

But beyond the wasteland waits a new test. In the Gallidros Vale war is brewing as the armies of the vast, dark and powerful empire of Babylon descend on Jericho City. In the thousands have come goblins and darkmen at the will of their overlord who desires only one thing: to overcome the world of men. The rails end at Jericho. The journey ends there too. If the city cannot be held, the train will be lost, and the truth along with it. But when the end is in sight, Darkfinger falls afoul of the poison of the darklings. Now all things hang in the balance – the train, the city, and Darkfinger’s very life. If they cannot make it to Jericho, all will be lost.

 

Complete at 67,000 words, BEYOND THE WASTELAND is a western fantasy novel set against a hard western frontier, heathery mountains, and everything in between. It brings together two worlds: the ways of the gunfighter and those of the swordsman, welded at the seams by the darker corners of a world not so unlike our own, a world that wants hope. With gunfights and epic battles, it will take you to the end of the last page on a quest for the coach-train!

Have you ever worked so hard for something that you thought it simple HAD to work out–why? Well, because you worked so damn hard for it!

Disappointment. It’s a part of everyday life. But I’m not telling you this to help you accept it. Disappointment is an enemy we don’t have to accept–and, in fact, shouldnt. I’ll tell you why.

We, as humans, are driven people. We want to succeed. We were born to succeed. True, you’ve probably met people who aren’t like that at all. They are content to sit back and watch life go by around them, adopting a “What do I care?” attitude. But this kind of personal neglect is not the norm–it is the exception, and it is nurtured by a lifetime of seeing this modelled, this idea that success isn’t within my grasp, so why even bother trying?

No, we are driven people, and it is our nature–no, our destiny–to succeed.

So then, Mister Bane,  why is it so damn difficult for me, you ask? Because we have all, in some way or other, believed that lie, that we are not good enough, that we do not have what it takes. We are all guilty of that sin, and worse, we are not just carrying the torch, but we are passing it along to the generations that follow us. You know, monkey see, monkey do. That’s how it is.

And let me tell you something. We give up too easily. We have no patience, no perseverance. One bump in the road sets us off our game. The second bump puts us in the ditch, and it’s much easier to lie in the mud than it is to get back up on the blacktop.

So what are we to do about it? Well, I’ll tell you where to start. Don’t learn from my example. I might talk a big game, but I’m just as infallible as anyone else.

You have to start in your own life, in your own career. What is it that you are striving for? What gets you excited? What have you already given up because it seemed impossible? Jon Morrow didn’t get to where he is now by giving up. Neither did Bill Gates. You have to stick with it. Die hard. Why? Because it’s your dream!

Pursue your goals. Sure, it’s a lot easier to sit on the couch and watch tv, but is that really going to help you get where you want to go? I doubt it. You need to make yourself get up and do the things you really don’t wanna do. Chain and whip, if that’s what it takes. It has to happen, and when it comes to your dreams, there is no excuse.

Lastly, believe in yourself. I really can’t emphasize this enough. How far are you going to get if you don’t think your worth it? I’m here to tell you right now that YOU ARE WORTH IT. If it gets you excited, chances are there are tons of other people out there who are going to get excited about it, too. All that’s waiting is your voice. So SPEAK IT.

I have some very exciting news! (This is the part where you will be wanting to pay attention)

The third Highland tale–the long-awaited sequel to A Light in the Night–Lizzie’s third go-round as an arrant adventurer and world-traveller–is finally here! It’s been a long time, I know, and to be perfectly honest I might have had it released several months ago, had I found the motivation. I might also add that you, as a fan, possess a certain responsibility to the matter of production. Afterall, artists feed on the cries of their fans; without it, an artist serves only his own purposes, not yours.

Anyway, here it is at last: By the Light of a Steel-stained Candle! Be sure to leave a comment below to let me know what you think!

Well, this is it, and by “it” I mean to say, “this is the end of all things plasmatic”. That’s right, the soup is going down the drain. The Quadrasi are going home. It’s over.

Now this just sounds like a going-away party. What’s up, I suppose you’re wondering? Well, like I said, this is it.

I’ve been procrastinating. The dog has been sitting. The stove is shut off. No one is home—or at least that it the idea, but in reality I’m just hiding under the bed because I’m afraid. I’ve been realizing some very striking things about myself. Firstly, I have what it takes. Secondly, I don’t really believe that.

What? How can I both believe it and not believe it? It’s really not that difficult. I know it’s true. I’ve seen people with as little as I have climb to much higher than their dreams even allowed them to imagine. There’s no reason why I can’t go far. But it doesn’t begin under the bed. I’ve been hiding there because somewhere deep down inside I look around me and I say, “Dude, you’re just a little shit. You don’t have it. You won’t ever have it. You’re not a man, you’re not a writer. Are you even a person? I don’t think so.” That’s a lot of crap, straight up, and if I think about it sure I know it is. But that isn’t what my subconscious is telling me. My subconscious wants me to believe the lie I’ve let fester inside for probably years, ever since I was a kid, the lie that I’m not good enough, that I’m not really worth it.

What am I saying?

I’m saying the Quadrasi are going home. They’ve been away for far too long while their home world burns beneath the same plague that drove them from it. They’ve been living a lie. But they CAN go home, and it’s time.

When you spend all your days working to live and living to work, it doesn’t leave you with much. When you believe, as well, that you shouldn’t even try to be better, you’re taking away whatever it is that you have left. But I’m here to say it has to end. Plague or no plague, the Quadrasi have to go home. There comes a time when we all have to fight, when we have to stand up and look the devil in the eyes and say, “Screw you, asshole.” I was made for more than this, and there is nothing that lights the panic within him more than that simple fact. I’m sitting on the arsenal that will turn his little kingdom into a crater, and he knows it. So it’s just much easier if I believe I’m an imbecile.

But NO MORE!

You’re in an upstairs hallway, the kind that has doors to the right and the left every few steps; and old, dusty portraits and hangings; and it just seems to go on forever; that is until the window, through which little can be seen for the dust that clings to the panes, filtering the sunlight like a bad dream. You don’t know where you came from, or where you’re going, or even why you’re here. You certainly have no idea where you are.

I’ll tell you where you are: you’re lost. And it’s not in the woods, where you would expect to be lost, or even in an endless field, which is where the mind so frequently seems to wander. It’s somewhere you’d think would be familiar, but its not. Why not?

Because you’re lost within the ages of yourself.

As you stand there in the silence of that upstairs hallway—not silence like a quiet afternoon without the scream of children playing or the rattle of the tv in the background, but true, unfettered silence, so complete that you cannot even hear the tick of a clock—you realize that you have been here before. The fading wallpaper is familiar. You’ve seen some of those old paintings before. Even the carpet beneath your toes is like something from a dream.

And then you see it, a face framed on the wall covered in years of dust and disuse. It’s a familiar face, a face you’ve seen thousands of times before. Who is it? You mother? Maybe. Certainly from the eyes it could be. Your father? Perhaps, though something still does not quite seem to fit.

And then it hits you: you’re staring at yourself. Through years and painful layers of dust and neglect, that face in the frame is you. The hallway is one you have been walking your entire life. The portraits on the walls are the faces that have kept you company on your journey. The doors have been your constant companions, all options, different paths you might have taken, but all left closed and undiscovered. And there you are, not at the beginning, not at the end, but somewhere in the middle, right in all the dust and age and peeling paper. Right in the thick of it all, lost, buried by the years and regret.

But not anymore. Behind you is a trail of footprints in the dusty carpet. Before you, one door stands just ajar. And the portrait isn’t covered by age and dust any longer; it’s bare and plain to see.

You’ve found yourself.

Well, as it happens, I’ve found myself in the midst of a perfectly wonderful weekend with a clean-ish, quiet, empty house, all the time in the world, and no motivation to do anything with it. So, up until now, I’ve spent almost all of it sitting on my butt watching Firefly and playing vintage video games. Great weekend, right? Well, now that I’m sitting in the kitchen waiting for my overly-large pancake to cook through, I’m beginning to find the motivation I need, I think (you know how these things are; they comes and go, and when they go they leave you grovelling in the dirt, begging them to come back, kinda like when your dog ran away…). The short and simple of it is, now I’m here, I’ve got all kinda of ideas, and I’m just going to hope that I can get some of them up under the domain before they flee my scattered thoughts.

First of all, I’ve had the third installment to Lizzie and the Gabbatrox drafted on my computer for several weeks now (far too long, to be honest), and I think it’s about time it finally saw the light of day. It shouldn’t take more than another read-through for me to realize that I’ve been sitting on probably-not-quite-gold-but-bronze-at-least—something wonderful, anyhow—and after that it’s merely a few quick edits, and it should be available.

Secondly, all new content is becoming available to free registered members of ADBane.com. Why? I simply don’t have the time to keep up with a membership site. It’s going to have to speak for itself, and anyway, what a membership site really needs is users, and those must come from readers, and if there’s not enough readers, then there just isn’t enough users. Plain and simple. So, if you haven’t already read ADS: IX, look for it soon!
(Note: membership will still be needed, but it will be totally free, or your money back.)

Okay, enough of that garbage. Who really cares about what I’m doing anyway, right? It’s not like anyone actually GOES to ADBane.com anyhow… Heh.. Those that do CERTAINLY don’t like to leave comments… You know, it’s a funny thing, people (myself included) expect so much from others, but we aren’t willing to step in ourselves and do the work. Until someone proves me wrong, I’m convinced that this can be chalked up to the weightlessness of the gray matter we all think so highly of.

Anyway, the day is still young and I must—Ah, and that would be the smell of my pancake burning…

I know I said a lot about finding balance and all that . . . Yadda yadda, blah. To say true, I haven’t been half as productive as I should have been in the last few weeks, and I know it—you better believe I do. Balance is a tricky thing. It’s one of those things that sounds really easy, and might seem really easy at first too, but just like any bad habit or addiction, the old ways come back. It’s easy to overlook the real dragon and spend all your time smashing replicas. You know, vases are just vases.

Actually, as I sit here now what’s running through my head is DUDE, YOU GOTTA WRITE SOMETHING, ANYTHING.

And yet I’m still sitting here, and all I can think of is all I’ve said on balance, and all I’ve NOT done to find my own.

It’s plenty easy to just live. Billions of people are just living. I have been just living for the entirety of my life, short as it may be. Let me tell you, living isn’t satisfying. No, its the above-and-beyond-the-board stuff that really brings satisfaction, things that you can cross off the old bucket list. But how to actually get those things done? How to find that fulfillment? Ahm, the million-dollar question!

I know it certainly doesn’t seem to be working well for me. I can’t help but consider the different courses of my alternative universes . . . In one I’m unemployed, writing like mad every second of my life, posting on my blog every day, and trolling when I’m not posting in hopes of dragging in enough traffic to make my blog worth something. In that same universe I’m feeling pretty good about myself on a personal level, content to a degree in the beauteous knowing that my life is centered upon what I love to do the most. It’s a good life. Except for one thing… one little insignificant thing…

In the other I’m working. I’m not writing. I’m playing xbox, watching shows, reading books, graphic novels, all in my spare time, all when I should be writing. I’ve no motivation because I’m just living. And I’m not satisfied.

Well shucks little buddy, I think we chose the wrong life!
And it’s possible I did. It’s possible I’m stuck in a universe that I shouldn’t be in, drinking the blood of a demon I shouldn’t have knowledge of. But on the same tolken I’m going to buy the possibility that this ugly universe might yet hold something splendid for me. And anyhow, I’ve left out the best part about the first universe . . . the part where I’m literally DYING of stress.

You know, I’ve never actually thought of myself as a very stressful person. To my knowledge I’m very calm and relaxed. I don’t care about the world, and I let it be; I certainly don’t care much for what others do in it. I know I have a ton and a half of tolerance . . . I can put up with almost anything.

But not stress. They say it kills, and they don’t lie. I can testify to that. I can literally feel it worming its way into me, tearing me apart. And its all because I don’t know where the money to pay the next bill is coming from. Yep, that’s it! I can put up with anything, EXCEPT not trusting ka.

I think if I could put a name to it, I’d call it absolute faithlessness syndrome. I suppose that’s really what it is. It’s an inability to just let be and let happen. Some people can do that . . . some people can say ‘Too bad the money ain’t there. Let’s go to the beach.’ But I can’t. I gotta know, I gotta have.

That’s what’s brought me to where I am now—sitting on the couch downloading the client program for Age of Conan, waiting for a friend to come on xbox live so we can hook up some CoD Zombies. That’s what’s got me here without anything worth while to write about. That’s what’s got me feeling down on my luck, like I’m never going to be successful, like I’ll never get to where I want to go. That’s why I can’t trust ka, God, the King, or whatever deity you worship (we all worship something, whether you like to believe it or not). It all comes down to faith and whether you got it or not.

The good news of all this is that, even though I feel like I’m going no where, even though I feel like I’ve failed, even though my life seems meaningless, I know it’s not. Why? Because I’ve already realized what I’m supposed to be doing. I already see the end. I don’t feel like I’m moving, but in order to see it, you have to have come from somewhere. And that means you’re going somewhere, and I know where. The trick is patience, something I have to learn every day. And perhaps, one of these days, along with that patience will come also a profound trust that sometimes things work out for the better. On that day I will live in the best of all universes.

Fables are classics. For some reason the idea of animals speaking, portraying societal ideals, is timelessly enchanting. It’s what Aesop will always be remembered for. I even have written a singular fable in my day, though I am no fabulist, and though I now no longer possess the original manuscript, or remember it in its entirety. I recall only that it was the tale of a rabbit who, being rather naive and entirely too trusting, managed to get himself eaten. And that it was only about a hundred words long, or perhaps a little more—not much.

HOWEVER, all that aside, the story Cat and Mouse in Partnership is a fine example of a slightly obscure fable. I would go so far as to say that it is in fact a little depressing, likened to The Wicker Man, my tale of the rabbit, or any other story which ends with the hero’s ultimate and untimely, and not in the least bit heroic, demise.

But that doesn’t keep it from making valid points, just the same. Here’s my thoughts on the story:

Cat and Mouse in Partnership is the second story in The The Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm.

The story begins with a cat and a mouse who take up a peculiar partnership, and agree to live together and keep house together. A curious thing, I know, since cats are best known for their love of mice as a primary course, or a light snack.

The cat, being wise in its own way, suggests that they should store up a pot of fat so that they do not go hungry in the winter, and goes on to suggest that they keep it in the church, as no one would ever consider stealing from the church. The mouse agrees.

It is also important to note that the cat also suggests that the mouse stay at home and not go out, lest she be caught in a trap.

It isn’t long before the cat becomes greedy, thinking of that pot of fat in the church, and she tells the mouse that she has been asked to stand godmother for her cousin’s new-born kitten, and hold him over the font at the christening. (Another interesting thing to note is that the cat quite clearly uses the kitten’s color and markings as an excuse for why she simply MUST stand as godmother.) So, while the mouse is at home keeping house, the cat steals away to the church and licks the top off the fat. Then she stays away, and comes home at night. The mouse asks what the child was called, and the cat replies, “Top-off.” The mouse is at once suspicious.

Soon the cat becomes greedy again, and, using the same lie, steals away to the church and eats half the pot. Then she stays away, and comes home at night. The mouse again asks about the child’s name, and the cat replies, “Half-done.” Again the mouse is suspicious.

It happens again, and this time the child is called “All-gone.”

Later in the winter, when food has run short, and mouse suggests that they go to the church to claim their pot of fat. The Cat agrees, but when they get to the church, the pot is empty, and the mouse, realizing what she suspected all along, accuses the cat. In return the cat grows angry and eats her (it was bound to happen, right?). The story concludes with this line: “Verily, that is the way of the world.”

I would like to first take a look at the cat.

Obviously the cat’s motives were greedy and selfish, and it shows her true character, not only by her sneaky deception, but also by her willingness to eat her friend. Anyone is susceptible to the use of deception and lies, but it takes a true villain to turn on their friends as the cat did. Now as I re-read the story again and again, I’m struck by the malicious intent in every word the cat says, such as telling the mouse to stay home, and suggesting that the mouse doesn’t understand because she is at home all the time. Even if the cat did not at first plan to eat the pot of fat and the mouse, she did have deceptive intentions right from the start.

We as humans are all tainted by greed and selfishness. We all have the capability to become a villain. It’s the goodness within us that holds back our inner darkness. We have to fight in every day, or it will consume us. The cat is the embodiment of this darkness; or you might say she already has given into it.

And it’s this struggle that is the basis for all the conflict in fiction, too. Somehow we have to come to terms with our own conflicting natures, and as a writer I must say fiction is the portal to understanding it. That’s why we have stories like this…

Now, about the mouse…

If the cat is the representation of our own Shadow, the mouse is the Light that fights it. And on that note, this is a very dark tale, as I said earlier! In a happier fairytale, the mouse would have won out in the end, which would be as much as to say that good virtues are the building blocks of victory.

But the interesting thing about the mouse is that she was not naive. When the cat returned to say that the first child was called “Top-off”, the mouse was suspicious. Her suspicion only grew with each turn, and by the end of the story she knew well enough what she would find at the church. This then begs the question, why did she go? Knowing the cat’s deceptive nature, surely she must have realized it would be better to stay away.

The reason for this, I think, is that it was her duty (so to speak) to martyr herself. As the force of good, there really was only one option for her: confront her enemy, and take the adventure, even if it meant death. Dark and Light don’t mix. They can try to work together, but in the end they must always come to conflict, just as the mouse and the cat did. The problem was that when the conflict came, the mouse was not the stronger.

Remember when I said that we must always fight our darker nature or it will consume us? That’s why the mouse was eaten. She knew, and she did nothing. She didn’t fight. She chose instead to lay down her arms. She gave up. When the Grimms ended the story with “Verily, that is the way of the world” they were saying not only that often it seems like the Shadow is winning, but also that good people get lost along the way, and sometimes you have to enter that dark valley in order to see the other side; sometimes you never come out again. It’s a war; get up and fight, or lay down and down—maybe for the sake of her friendship with the cat, or perhaps because she was in denial, but the mouse chose to lay down.

and that IS the way of the world.

Now that I’m working again, I’ve been trying to balance my life between working and writing, and all the other things I like to do in my spare time.

Let me tell you, it ain’t easy.

Balance isn’t really something you think of when you’re living the American Dream: working all day, bringing home a paycheck as will pay the bills and still leave you with your party favours. It’s so easy to go from one day to the next, just working, just living, just existing, just surviving. It’s TOO easy.

But just existing isn’t enough. It doesn’t get you fulfillment. It doesn’t give you a life to reflect on and be proud of, and as human beings we are hardwired to seek fulfillment. We need a positive experience. We need to care. We need to fight out darker nature.

The question then is how to balance the life of what must be done, with the life of what we want to do. One gets you through, one gives you fulfillment. And I’m not talking about the desire to sit around and play xbox, or go out partying, or sit and read a good book. Those things are important; but what I’m talking about is what REALLY brings you fulfillment. What REALLY matters to you. It’s your forte; your niche. It’s what gets you excited.

But if you live that consistent life of work, eat, sleep and nothing else, you won’t find fulfillment.

What you need is BALANCE.

The world is built with it. It keeps the trees green, the sky blue, the lakes placid, the rivers violent. It’s what IS and what ISN’T. It’s the first, the last, and always the same. Balance is the clock that ticks. It’s Fate, if you will.

When you live a balanced life, you have time. Right now you might think, well I’d love to write that story, or read that book, or see Paris, or go visit the relatives, or build that engine sitting in the garage, but I just don’t have the time. WRONG. You do have the time. You always have the time. Your problem is not that the time isn’t there, it’s that you’re not utilizing it.

But to utilize it requires self discipline, and that’s a tricky thing. Everyone knows what it’s like to not have it. That’s when you feel held back from doing what you always wanted to do, what you find fulfilling. Steve Pressfield would call it Resistance. It stands in your way, sucking away your time, telling you that you just don’t have what it takes.

But self discipline, on the other hand, (when you have it) is like all the power of a storm flowing through you. Suddenly you have the time you need. Suddenly you feel good about yourself. Suddenly you feel fulfilled, like all your dreams are within your reach.

Here’s what I’m saying: self-discipline=fulfillment.

Lucky for you, I’m going to tell you how to find self-discipline. It’s actually incredibly easy to find, the trouble is holding on to it. Just pick your worst habit, the very worst, the one that makes you shake your head at yourself every time you think of it. Take that, and change it. Just make it different, make it better. It could be the way you sit, it could be the way you talk, it could be sleeping in, it could be staying up late, it could be the way you swear at the guy who just cut in front of you on your way to work. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just has to be so ingrained within you that you hardly even think about it. It’s gotta be a part of you. It’s not easy to change it, but that’s what self-discipline is, taking hold of your life by the horns and turning it a different direction.

Then stick with it. For as long as it takes until you have changed your habit. Don’t let yourself go back. If you stick with it, it only gets easier. If you revert, it gets harder. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

When you find yourself doing something different at times when that habit would have kicked in, you know you’ve beaten it. You know you’ve begun to find balance. But that’s only the first step. Every life is filled with those bad habits, even though some of them are so small we don’t notice them at all. But they’ve all got to be changed in order to find balance.

Maybe your worst habit is what’s holding you back from fulfillment, maybe it’s not. But once you have self-discipline and control of your life, you can change anything about yourself. When I say there are no limits, I mean, THERE ARE NO BLOODY LIMITS!

There’s a quote from Les Brown: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” Take it at heart. You don’t get anywhere by not trying. You don’t find fulfillment by saying, “I don’t have time.” Nothing comes for free, but when you believe in yourself and you work hard, it comes pretty damn close.