THE RISE OF SAINT DEATH

She goes by many names: Lady of the Shadows, Lady of the Night, Skeleton Saint, Grim Reapress, Lady of the Seven Powers, Black Lady, White Lady, Skinny Lady, Bony Lady, Lady of the Dead and Most Holy Death. But she is probably best known as Santa Muerte, Spanish for Saint Death. But who is she? Considered by some to be vengeful, she is the personification of death and patron saint of the religious cult of Saint Death, currently the fastest growing religion in the Americas. While her roots and origin are a matter of debate among religious scholars and devotees alike, worship of Saint Death has been going on for over half a century, exploding like wildfire from Mexico into the United States and many other countries around the world.

Some say she gives job security and advancement, justice, protects loved ones, and is a miracle worker in matters of the heart and happiness. She is also known for her supernatural healing powers. But others, including the Catholic Church, have condemned her worship as blasphemous, evil and satanic. To be sure murders in Mexico and the United States have been committed in the name of Saint Death. Some victims have been decapitated and their blood poured out on or around Saint Death shrines as sacrificial offerings to win her favor. Many devotees come from the fringes of society, marginalized in some way by poverty and unemployment. Others are petty criminals and a small percentage are violent drug cartel members, who pray to Saint Death using various colored symbolic votive candles, asking her to destroy their enemies and insure safe passage of illegally smuggled drugs.

But still other devotees are successful professionals; police officers, doctors, lawyers, or just everyday working middle-class members of society. A large percentage of followers are decent people searching for a religion they can identity with, free from the often more rigid protocols of an institutionalized religion like Catholicism. Saint Death doesn’t discriminate. She accepts everybody.

And while one can argue, in the face of violent and sacrificial decapitations, that Saint Death is nothing more than a dangerous and evil cult, think for a moment about the other religions. For centuries people have been perverting the good tenets of Christianity and Islam; in some cases perverting those religions in their entirety and committing heinous atrocities. You don’t have to look far to find hundreds of examples. Some say more blood has been shed in the name of religion than anything else in the world. So, as people would mask their evil deeds by holding up religion as a false banner of righteousness, so too would people kill people and justify it as a sacrificial offering to win the favor of Saint Death. But, as with Christianity and Islam, that doesn’t mean it represents the majority of followers.

Saint Death adherents also believe she provides safe passage into the afterlife. And, perhaps more importantly, she helps devotees come to grips with death so they might enjoy their lives. If you face your mortality, wouldn’t that encourage you to live every single minute of every day to its fullest? The grim reality is, we are all going to die some time. The irony, of course, is that while she helps followers come to grips with their mortality and provides safe passage into the afterlife, she is also revered for her healing powers.

In perhaps one of the most scholarly books written on the subject, Dr. Andrew Chesnut, in Devoted to Death, explores this: “…One of the great paradoxes of the cult is that a saint who is the very personification of death is charged with preserving and extending life through her awesome healing powers. Here Santa Muerte isn’t the Grim Reapress harvesting souls with her scythe but the Mother of all Physicians mending broken bodies and fractured bones.”

Chesnut writes, “Santa Muerte is first and foremost an unofficial saint who heals, protects, and delivers devotees to their destinations in the afterlife.”

In my latest novel, tentatively titled Freaky Franky, I took great care to be fair to the cult of Saint Death. As a work of horror fiction, I certainly embellish some of the violence that has been associated with the Grim Reapress, but I also include many examples of her benevolence as a protective saint who helps with health, wealth, and love.  I recently completed the first draft and it will likely hit the shelves in about two months. I hope it entertains and provides you with a better insight into a patron saint who is often misunderstood and maligned. Without any further adieu, here is a short summary:

When an enigmatic town doctor saves the life of Anisa Worthington’s dying son, she abandons Christianity in favor of devotion to the cult of Saint Death. Some believe the mysterious skeleton saint will protect your loved ones, help in matters of the heart, provide abundant happiness, wealth, health, job security and justice. But others, including the Catholic Church, call the cult blasphemous, evil and satanic.

Anisa introduces Saint Death to troubled friend Helen Reiger and strange things begin happening. An enemy of Helen’s is brutally murdered and residents of Montague, a peaceful little town in Prince Edward Island, begin plotting to rid the Bible belt of “religious heretics.”

Anisa suspects Helen is perverting the good tenets of Saint Death but a terrible nightmare propels her to the Dominican Republic in search of Freaky Franky, her long-lost and unstable brother, who mysteriously disappeared twenty years ago without a trace.

To her utter shock and horror, she learns Freaky Franky is also worshiping Saint Death with evil intentions. As a possessed and hell-bent lynch mob gathers momentum, mysterious murders begin occurring all around her. Unsure about who is an ally and who is an enemy, she’s thrust into a violent battle to save her life as well as the lives of her unpredictable friends and brother.

 

 

THE NAKED NEWS

As an infrequent blogger, I haven’t been around my web pages lately. But rest-assured, I’ve been busy. Thanks to a writer’s grant from The Government of Prince Edward Island (I do have many reviewers who actually like my work), all sixteen of my titles are now available in paperback and ebook formats. Previously only two or three titles were available in both formats. They are easy to find on my website and on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. Some of the titles have yet to appear on the website but soon you’ll see them all.

In the decision to make all my ebooks available in paperback format, I decided to revisit each novel and do one last editing and revision pass.  I also revised the inside front and back pages, my author biography and tightened up each novel summary. Book covers were also tweaked by talented cover artist Johnny Breeze and made much more visually explosive than before. Although Johnny has three jobs and works harder than almost anyone I know, he calls me “a brother from another mother” and put my cover designs as a priority.

The whole project was a four-month process that also involved painstaking proofreading, editing, rewriting, and even a few times when I threw my arms up in frustration and disappointment and proclaimed, “I hate editing.” Trust me, if you edited for eight hours a day for a solid four months you might say the same thing. But then I started to think. Without disappointment there can be no joy. It reminded me of a quote by Pascal Mercier, author of Night Train to Lisbon:

“Disappointment is considered bad. A thoughtless prejudice. How, if not through disappointment, should we discover what we have expected and hoped for? And where, if not in this discovery, should self-knowledge lie? So how could one gain clarity about oneself without disappointment? One could have the hope that he would become more real by reducing expectations, shrink to a hard, reliable core and thus be immune to the pain of disappointment. But how would it be to lead a life that banished every long, bold expectation, a life where there were only banal expectations like “the bus is coming”?”

Through the disappointment of revising twelve titles, there was a certain joy. Part of my disappointment came from the simple knowledge that my writing style when I started writing novels five years ago was nothing like it is today. Much more satisfied with where my storytelling ability is now, I initially wanted to dramatically rewrite dozens of chapters. To be sure, I did major rewrites on several chapters spread through many titles. But then a realization occurred to me.  The books show an evolution of style, a polishing of skill, a honing of talent. Serious readers might want to see the evolution of a writing style. Hell, I even found it interesting to note, at least in my own mind, how far I’d come. That’s where the joy came in. With a smile, I thought, I’ll clean them up for crispness, glaring errors of fact, typos, and grammar. But I’m not about to go changing major elements of the novels; like inserting characters, changing main themes and sub-texts, things like that. Let the early works stand alone as a representation of a time period in the early career of an author.

Besides, not that I have hundreds of reviews, but the majority of them are four or five stars. These are readers who are not saying my writing has potential. They say it’s already there. They say I’m a proficient storyteller, writing tales that grab them, and make them want to keep going without a pause right to the finish line. If readers seem to like the early works the way they are, who am I to tell them anything different? And there is something to be said for letting go of a work of art, with all its imperfections (that others may consider perfections). Release it and move on to the next. So I’ve done that and I hope you enjoy the result. What is the next, you ask?

I recently returned from a three-month trip to the Dominican Republic where I was researching another novel. That, in conjunction with the twelve-novel reformatting project. I’m continuing my research but am also well into writing the novel. I’m moving along at a decent clip. On the next blog, I’ll reveal what the latest work-in-progress horror novel revolves around. I’ll give you a hint. It deals with a cult religion that over the past few years has exploded in popularity, becoming the fastest growing religion in the Americas. Some claim it’s evil and satanic, while others say adherence brings abundance, prosperity and can help in matters of the heart.

THE END IS NIGH

About six months in the making, THE END IS NIGH, my latest post-apocalyptic thriller, will be released before Xmas in ebook and paperback. It was a long journey. It’s a long novel, almost 90,000 words. It will be available in Chapters, Amazon, Apple I-store, Ingram, Barnes & Noble and the like.

While richly rewarding in ways often difficult to put into words, writing can also be a lonely, excruciatingly painful journey. It takes a hell of a lot of self-discipline and focus, not to mention energy. Admittedly, after completing the last of many edits, guided by the unfailing expertise of Winslow Eliot, my long-time editor, I was burnt out, emotionally and physically exhausted; having delved deeply into the minds of many psychologically scarred, volatile, and emotionally damaged characters. Proof-reading it for the very last time, however, I realized I was so deeply in the thoughts of my characters that their personal tragedies had become mine. Reaching THE END, I was moved to tears. nigh-blogSad that I would have to let them go, sad and deeply touched by their plights and the strength and courage they demonstrated trying to overcome their demons.

But through the sadness, emerged an overwhelming sense of relief and accomplishment. I realized my tears were not only tears of sadness, they were mixed with joy. Thrilled about my achievement, elated about typing the words THE END. Then another thought pierced my heart like a lightning bolt. I realized I was not alone on this often dark path. I was with my invented characters every step of the way, feeling their pain, feeling their happiness. And then something more important hammered me over the head like a lead paperweight. Friends, readers, family members, rooted for me every step of the way, propping me up when I was feeling down.

I’m very disciplined when I write. I turn off all social media for long stretches of time while I traverse the cryptic world of my imagination. Often I don’t eat, don’t shower, speak to no one. Good thing I live on a quiet, secluded country acreage, you know what I mean. While writing, I often survive for most of the day on coffee and the adrenaline rush of thrusting people into extreme danger and then finding a way to pull them out of it. Often I get so immersed, I don’t want to turn on the phone, the internet, or the news and listen to tragedy and crap. I don’t want to face the world. But, as always, reality eventually rears its ugly head.

And it’s not always ugly. As I mentioned, and before I swan-dive into a black pit of despair, I need to say it was the words of encouragement from my friends that in many ways kept me going. Social media messages like, “I’m proud of you, keep going.” Or, “You’re writing is so much more polished now than when you began this journey five years ago.” Or, “Congratulations, I can’t wait to read it.” Perhaps the one that struck me the most, and really I’m not trying to blow my own horn here: “You’re a great writer and I sure hope you get the acknowledgement you deserve.”

Funny thing. Not funny ha-ha, but funny amazing. Shortly after that last Skype comment, I checked my email  while taking a one-hour break from writing to answer nature’s call, finally take shower ( I was starting to reek like Pig-Pen in the comic strip Peanuts), and eat a late lunch. Earlier this year, I had applied for a publishing grant from the Government of Prince Edward Island, hoping to use the money for book promotion, formatting existing titles into paperback, and launching a social media campaign to draw more attention to William Blackwell.nigh-blog-2 After submitting the application, I forgot about it and adopted a stoic mentally: Expect nothing for thou shalt not be disappointed. Needless to say, I was elated to learn the provincial government had accepted my application and approved me (William Blackwell Publishing) for a grant. I’m gonna say it right here, right now. I gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the Government of Prince Edward Island. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.

To my friends, family, colleagues and readers who’ve rooted for me every step of the way, I’m eternally grateful. Thank you very much.

It hasn’t been a lonely journey after all. Colorful characters, products of my twisted imagination and often terrifying nightmares, have accompanied me. More important, friends, family, and colleagues stood behind me. And now, thank God, the PEI provincial government is backing me one hundred percent.

Before I start bawling, let’s get to THE END IS NIGH. Please support a Prince Edward Island author. Buy it, read it, and please post a review on the website from which you purchased it. Here’s a summary:

Cray Lenning’s life as a garbage collector in a small town is reclusive and boring. His tragic past has created strong feelings of distrust and resentment for humankind, and as a result he’s content to wallow in lonely self-pity. But when he witnesses a defrocked preacher proclaim “the end is nigh” seconds before getting struck by a car, Cray’s world is shaken. Then his only friend hangs himself, setting off a chain of events that spiral out of control.

Initially, Cray dismisses the wayward preacher as a wacko, but ominous signs begin to convince him that the preacher’s apocalyptic predictions might be coming true. Cray meets Sandra Colling, a heartbroken but resolute nurse, who invites him to her underground shelter to try and survive the rapidly advancing apocalypse. Meanwhile, a deadly inferno blazes across the country, threatening to destroy Earth.

With time running out, Cray and Sandra embark on a frantic mission to save others. Once they’re all trapped inside the shelter, they learn the terrifying reality of their choice of company: a traumatized police detective; a manipulative and self-righteous psychologist; a sadomasochistic sex-addict; a rambling alcoholic preacher; and a mentally ill redneck with an explosive temper, who might very well be a murderer.

Their dire predicament worsens when water runs out and they’re forced to emerge from the shelter. To survive in this God-forsaken wasteland, they must form an unlikely alliance and battle a far more deadly presence topside—a gang of ruthless escaped convicts hell-bent on starting an evil polygamist cult that rules by fear, intimidation, and brutal murder.

Black Dawn Cover Reveal

It’s finally here. Or almost. Black Dawn, my newest horror novel, will be released around mid-August (yes, 2016) in ebook for $3.99 and in paperback for $18.95. I’ve painstakingly edited the novel five times myself, my editor Winslow Eliot has worked her magic on it, and finally it’s out of my hands.  black dawn cover front finalProduction staff are churning it out as we speak. Here’s a quick summary:

Saul Climer is a down-on-his-luck alcoholic. Dwindling finances, the isolation of country living, a souring romance, and a lurid love affair with the bottle all drive him into a pit of depression and reckless abandon. As he’s dragged deeper into the black void of despair, he realizes his nightmares are not only becoming more vivid, he’s actually dream-teleporting and witnessing gruesome, macabre murders.

At the end of his rope mentally and physically, he realizes his ex-girlfriend’s life is in danger, as well as the lives of some close friends. Thrust into a battle with internal and external demons, he discovers there’s more to this life-and-death struggle than meets the eye: Voodoo spells, calculating killers, and a possible government cover-up.

Black Dawn is a dark tale about an epic war of real and perceived dangers. Pitting human vulnerability against the courage it takes to risk life, limb, and heart, it’s an action-packed ride that is both terrifying and uplifting.

It will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and the like. I hope you enjoy it. At just over 70,000 words, it’s the longest novel I’ve ever written and was a long time (too long in my humble opinion) in the making.

Other news. I’m working on a post-apocalyptic tale tentatively titled The End Is Nigh. It should be ready to rock ‘n roll by mid-October, providing I stick to my disciplined writing schedule; which thus far I am happy to say, I have.

Currently sitting at just a tad over 40,000 words, The End Is Nigh will likely top out at 80,000 or 90,000 words, which will make it my longest novel to date. It’s a tale about a group of troubled souls who take refuge in an underground system of caves after learning the world will be burned to ashes, as predicted in The Bible’s Book of Revelations.

I’m enjoying writing The End Is Nigh and that usually means a good story. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Black Dawn. Until next time, thanks for stopping by. And thanks so much for your support and many positive reviews. Without you, the reader, my journey into mad worlds wouldn’t be possible.

Enjoy your day.

 

 

Life Gets In The Way

According to my 2015 production schedule, Black Dawn, my work in progress, should have been published by now. But, here we are in May, 2016, and it still isn’t done. But, thank God, it’s awfully close. life gets in the way two I have finally completed my multiple edits and rewrites and am just about to cut it loose to my editor. Of course after that, there will be at least another three editing passes, not to mention cover design and the actual publishing process. Realistically it is a month to two away from being published. But that’s the nature of the beast. It’s the sometimes lonely, sometimes rewarding nature of being a writer.

Continue reading

The Dawn of Black Dawn

At long last it’s time. Time for another novel. Black Dawn is taking shape. Many months of note-taking, research and writing in the Dominican Republic and on Prince Edward Island have led to its birth. I’m about 45,000 words into a horror novel which should take about 70,000 to complete. I plan on finishing the first draft by mid-August.skull It will probably be June, 2016, before it’s published. Multiple rewrites and edits (that can be bloody painful), cover design and the actual publishing process will take at least that long. And first I have to finish the first draft before any of that can begin.

What’s it about? Here’s a quick summary:  Saul Climer, a down-on-his-luck alcoholic loser, battles external and internal demons while slowly losing his mind. That’s a capsule comment really. Black Dawn is multi-layered. It’s also about dream teleportation, the ability to physically leave your bed while dreaming and wind up in another location in real time. Sound far-fetched? Not according to some.

There’s a Doctor Bruce Goldberg, a clinical hypnotherapist. Written many self-help books, some bestsellers apparently. He’s been on Oprah, Regis & Kelly, CBS News, even CNN. Anyway, he claims you can teleport—physically relocate the body from one place to another site without touching it in any way—in a dream state. He differentiates between regular dreams and lucid dreams, claiming, “…Your body physically leaves the bed and travels to another location on a different dimension.”

Enter Andrew Basiago, a practicing lawyer. He plans on running for US president and is on a massive campaign to get the US government to declassify its teleportation and time travel secrets. You can find him at Project Pegasus on Facebook.

Basiago claims teleportation has been used as far back as the late 1960s on behalf of the United States government by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. As a child, Basiago says he was involved in a highly classified research project called Project Pegasus. green barnSays he’s teleported many times. Claims to have been teleported to Mars and even gone back in time. Says he’s met George Washington, instructed him to withdraw troops, even witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. He wants to have teleporters at all airports. Claims it’s a more efficient, safer and more environmentally friendly way to travel. Even has a book in the works supposedly.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why the government might want to withhold this information from the public, if indeed teleportation is even possible. If we could teleport troops into enemy territory, well, so could they.

Back to the novel. Taking place in multiple locations, made possible by dream teleportation, Black dawn also involves elements of Voodoo; exploring the good, the bad, and the ugly about this largely misunderstood religion. It documents the personality types that are drawn to Voodoo and tries to understand why they might find comfort and solace in its teachings and tenets. And, as a creative construct, it works well because it lends itself to inventiveness and horror; after all, the novel’s genre.

What else does Black Dawn do? It examines the lawlessness of Dominican Republic culture juxtaposed with the ridiculous laws and overregulation in Canada. It tries to uncover the paradox of what it means to be Canadian. It questionsblack dawn two why we as a people are being placed under microscopes and in little boxes, our personal liberties, privacies and freedoms being stripped away in the process. Is it better to take your chances in a lawless and dangerous culture like the DR  and really live? Or exist with a plethora of laws in a first-world country and live like a caged lab rat? Don’t get me wrong. I love our country. I’m a proud Canadian. But isn’t it getting a little bit ridiculous? Go to practically any Canadian beach or public park and read the signs: No smoking, no recreational vehicles, no dogs, no open fires, no barbeques, no flotation devices of any kind, no bicycles, no overnight camping, no alcoholic beverages, no lifeguard on duty. Swim at your own risk. Beach open during these hours and closed during these. Did I miss anything? How about no people allowed, no laughing allowed, and HAVING FUN STRICTLY PROHIBITED! That’s only one example. There are many more. What is the establishment trying to do to us? Keep us off the beach and house-bound? Begs the question, but onward and upward dear readers. I have a work in progress to discuss.

Black Dawn is also a love story. What good novel doesn’t contain an element of romance? To love and be loved is fundamental to humankind’s basic needs.

But perhaps at its core Black Dawn is a tale of human vulnerability. It examines vulnerability in the context of the courage it takes to be able to risk it all in the face of overwhelming odds and adversity. black dawn oneThe courage to risk big on something or somebody when there are not only any guarantees for success, but high chances of failure.

As Mother Teresa says:

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out for another is to risk involvement. To expose feelings is to risk exposing our true self. To place your ideas, your dreams, before the crowd is to risk loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try at all is to risk failure. But risk we must, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The man, the woman, who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

In the pages of Black Dawn, follow the action-packed trials and tribulations of a down-on-his-luck alcoholic loser struggling with demons and insanity. You might laugh. You might cry. You might be scared shitless. You might stay up all night. You might relate to the human frailty and vulnerability that is a part of all of us.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, adios. Enjoy your day!

The Bittersweet Journey Home

I’m winding down a seven-month stay in the Dominican Republic with mixed emotions. On one hand I am looking forward to returning to life on Prince Edward Island with Mister Stihl (yes forging new paths with the trusty chainsaw will never end), enjoying the beauty of the forest and the ocean, seeing my friends, and tightening up my writing schedule (yes, admittedly I’ve become a little lax living my dream on a Caribbean island).

But there is always a flip side, always a little gray area that blurs our subjective perspective of reality. I thought initially it would be an easy thing for me to leave here (black white if you like) and adjust to a completely different life in Canada. I know now that is not true. I have forged some deep friendships and intimate bonds. The upcoming trip to the airport will be an emotional and a difficult one. punta rusia beach Puerta Plata, with its quirks, dangers, and cultural idiosyncrasies, has become my home. At the risk of using a corny and overused cliché, home is where the heart is. And right now my heart is firmly embedded here. Sure, it’s been a difficult cultural adjustment to spend this much time in the DR. Service for the most part isn’t as efficient as in Canada, the island doesn’t offer the same diversity of culinary delights as you would find in Canada, you must always remember to put your toilet paper in a garbage can instead of down the toilet, the power outages are frequent and long lasting, internet connectivity is often spotty and slow, and almost everything seems to move in slow motion. Not too mention the abject poverty and the money agenda of many Dominicans. Or the fact that occasionally foreigners are brutally murdered and robbed.

But where else would I get a police escort home after having one too many drinks (no they weren’t arresting me, they were looking after me), be able to enter a restaurant with a road pop, be able to meet more beautiful women than I can shake a stick at, drink on the beach freely and without fear of police intervention, and create a social life like that of a rock star?

Not at my other home, I can tell you that much.

So with heavy heart I leave this Friday. I will be leaving behind people I love and care about deeply. People who would give me the shirts off their backs and come running to my aid if I ever found myself in a jam.

But, alas, you are probably wondering if this blog post even has a point. Don’t worry, I was wondering the same thing a little while ago. But it does and, bear with me, I’m getting to it. When I started this journey almost seven months ago I told myself maybe I will write a lot when I am gone and maybe I won’t.To justify my lackadaisical attitude I referred to a quote by Henry David Thoreau: ” How vain is it to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” But as the months down here wore on and my productivity dropped off (to be sure I have done a hell of a lot of what I like to call research and have made scant inroads into a new novel) I started feeling guilty. Guilty because I often heard myself say, out loud and in my cinematic mind, that writing was my passion and the most important thing in my life.

Well frankly speaking I was wrong and Thoreau was right. I can’t pretend to sit down and write if I have not stood up to live. pei beachI can’t pretend to write about love found and love lost if I have not lived it. I can’t pretend to write about brutal murders or vicious robberies and beatings if I haven’t experienced them (you might be surprised just what I have witnessed in the DR). At least I can’t explain them with any real conviction or passion unless I’ve experienced them, or at the very least, interviewed someone who has.

So, yes, Thoreau was right. But I learned something far more valuable during my stay here. Writing is not the most important thing in my life, although it is my passion and always will be. My friends, family and loved ones will always come before any bit of prose I can scratch together. I think somehow I lost sight of that before I arrived here, writing book after book after book at such a furious pace that even Stephen King would be envious (as if).

Call my rationale a  justification for laziness. Call it a seven-month sabbatical. Call it a research project. Call it anything you want. I call it a journey for connectedness, intimacy and love.

And a successful one at that.

There is something far more important than an occupational passion. It’s called love. And I have enough of it in my life now to inspire another three novels, maybe more. And that’s something all the success or money in the world can’t buy.

Thanks for stopping by. Spread the love.

 

 

 

 

A writer in the Dominican Republic

It’s been some time, over two months actually, that I’ve written anything at all. I’m not counting emails or Skype messages. And as a writer, that’s not always an easy thing. What’s stopping me, you might ask? Maybe it’s a quote from Henry David Thoreau that’s been sticking in my mind: “How vain is it to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Maybe it’s writer’s block. Maybe I feel, with the fourteen titles I’ve written, I’ve said all that I wanted to say. Maybe the furious pace I kept previously finally burned my bulb and I needed a break from the craft. A long break.

If I sit down and analyze it all, Thoreau’s quote leaps to the forefront. I needed to stand up and live a little, get to know more people and interact with characters of all traits, shapes and sizes. Well, I have to admit, since my arrival here November 23rd, I’ve been doing a lot of living. Actually I think I was trying to compensate for the isolated and sometimes lonely existence on my acreage in Prince Edward Island. There I often would not speak to a soul for days; where here I’m hard-pressed to sit down at a table in a beach bar and in less than fifteen minutes be surrounded by friends and acquaintances. Over copious amounts of booze, the ocean waves slapping the sand not fifty feet in front of me, I can indeed observe human nature first-hand,  sometimes at its highest point and others at its most debauched, lascivious, crazy and corrupt.

Continue reading

Mourning the Loss of Canada’s Sons Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo

I was deeply saddened and affected in a way that is difficult to put into words after learning that terrorists had recently murdered Canadian soldiers Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo. To say the least, it brought tears to my eyes and, yes, sent chills up my spine.

Vincent was killed when he was run down by a vehicle Monday, October 20th. After a brief car chase, the terrorist was shot and killed by police.

Patrice Vincent

Patrice Vincent

Two days later, Wednesday, October 22nd, Cirillo was murdered while standing guard at the National War Memorial outside the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, the nation’s capital. A lone radicalised gunman, who was later shot and killed by Sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers, had opened fire.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of these fallen heroes. I offer my deepest sympathies and condolences.

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from Canadians (not to mention the international support) for these heroic defenders of our country. The palpable emotion, visible grief, mourning and sadness, accompanying the enormous show of support highlights what it is to be Canadian. For the most part we are a humble people. Polite, courteous, quick to apologize and well-liked internationally. Travel to any country (there are obvious exceptions like parts of the Middle East) and you’ll see what I mean.

By nature, we are passive and don’t like making a fuss. We often prefer to keep our opinions private. But if aroused, as we were last week, we are capable of becoming a unified and potently supportive force.

Although Canada is not a Christian nation by constitional law, most of us believe in a code of ethics similar to Christianity. Always striving to see both sides of an argument, Canadians prefer tolerance and compromise to dogmatism.

Canadians don’t typically brag about how great it is to be Canadian; or how great our country is; or how proud we are to be Canadian. We just go about our business, quietly appreciating who we are. We don’t often boast about our support for our citizens: athletes, movie stars, ahem, politicians, volunteer workers at home and abroad, artists and Canadian soldiers alike. Patriotism for us is often an internal emotion, separate from such symbols as flags or national anthems. I suspect many Canadians, myself included, don’t even know all the words to our national anthem.

But when something happens that moves us deeply we come out of our igloos en masse to show our true colors.

Nathan Cirillo

Nathan Cirillo

We stand behind our fellow citizens vehemently and illustrate loud and clear how proud we are to be Canadians and how we support our citizens and soldiers. Never has this been more evident than yesterday as thousands of wounded and mourning Canadians took to the streets and Highway of Heroes to pay tribute to fallen soldier Corporal Nathan Cirillo as his body was driven via funeral procession motorcade to Hamilton, Ontario.

Many waited for hours along streets and highways for the motorcade to arrive. Some held Canadians flags, others openly wept.

“If you’re driving down Hunt Club Road in Ottawa right now and you don’t have goosebumps, you’re not Canadian,” tweeted writer and actor Neil Bedard.

As reported by The Ottawa Citizen, Steve Kirwan, along with his wife and two youg daughters, said, “This was a tragic event. Everybody should be paying their respects. The city should just be jam-packed full of stopped cars right now.”

“I’m like most Canadians in that I’m truly upset to think that someone living in our country would do what he did to that soldier,” said Fred Hobbs, a Second-World War veteran. “I think of that young man and other men like him who come into the services and wear the uniform. We are all so indebted to them.”

That comment brings to mind other comments I’ve read lately.  images[1]Some people have tweeted and posted on Facebook that they don’t understand why they are so deeply upset by these recent tragic events.

I have a theory. Maybe sometimes we take it for granted what it is to be Canadian, perhaps downplay or often don’t verbalize our love for Canada and our patriotism. But when something like this happens, the cap bursts off the bottled up emotions and we realize how deeply patriotic we really are. At least, that’s how I’ve processed my own emotions in the wake of the tragic events of late.

The two recent Canadian deaths hit me so hard because sometimes I take it for granted what it is to be Canadian and don’t really think about the brave people who are charged with defending our personal liberties and freedoms. I don’t think about how proud I am to be Canadian or how quick I would help fellow Canadians out of a jamb. During a recent trip to the Dominican Republic, I found myself in a few situations where Canadians were in trouble. Without thinking about the repercussions, I came to their aid. In one situation, I met a young female Canadian whose experience in the Dominican Republic was wearing thin and becoming dangerous. She had a nasty skin rash, had been robbed of money and her cell phone, and needed money for a plane ticket home. My offer to loan her money brought tears of joy to her eyes.  She was quick to say she would pay me back.

We exchanged contact details, I loaned her six hundred dollars, and she flew home and out of danger. It’s been over six months and I’ve never heard a word from her since. But, I’m not focused on losing six hundred dollars. No.

Nathan Cirillo's dog

Nathan Cirillo’s dog

The biggest gift for me was seeing her relieved expression and tears of joy, feeling her warm embrace as she hugged me tightly and thanked me profusely. She seemed like a nice person and for all I know she’s too embarrassed to contact me because she doesn’t have the money to repay me. I was just happy to be in a position to help a fellow Canadian return home safely. I don’t care about the money. Call me crazy, but I would do it all over again.

It’s what we do.

It’s who we are.

Now, let’s take a few moments of silence to express our condolences, pay our respects and remember fallen heroes Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo. They made the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, to help and protect Canadians.

Gunfight At My Favorite Bar Results in Multiple Deaths

Dominican Republic–A gunfight at La Canita bar in Puerto Plata last Saturday resulted in three dead and five seriously injured, according to local newspaper Diario.

As a result of the shoot-out, 15 persons have been detained for questioning and the bar, rumored to be one of the biggest drug distribution points in town, has been closed. Now this might be just another news story. But La Canita was one of my favorite haunts during my travels to the DR. I’ve enjoyed many good times with friends there. I was informed of this incident by a friend living in the DR who had been at the bar the night before the fatal gunfight. He was obviously grateful he was there Friday and not Saturday.

Continue reading

The Walls Within

Walls. What do you think of when you hear that word? Wood walls, plaster walls, brick walls? What about emotional walls, the often deleterious walls that prevent us from moving forward in life and living in the present instead of dwelling on the past.

People put up emotional walls for many different reasons. Maybe they got abused during childhood and are unwilling to trust people, lack the self-confidence to show their inner selves or have perhaps been burned in a relationship.

Continue reading

Assaulted Souls III is Now Available

What if the government made it mandatory for you to have a microchip implantedWalk on a roof edge in your brain, telling you it was for your security, for your safety? Would you believe it? Would you take it? 
What if you learned world powers were setting up sophisticated spy cameras everywhere to watch and record your every move 24/7? Would you believe it? Would you run and hide? Would you become a subversive and fight back? 

What if you learned soldiers and law-enforcement officers had become super-soldiers, genetically modified trans-humans capable of out-running Usain Bolt, out-lifting Olympic weightlifters, re-growing limbs, and even communicating telepathically through microchips installed in their heads? Would you believe it? Would you acquiesce to the new world order? Would you revolt? 

In a chillingly real examination of these questions, post-apocalyptic disaster survivors Nathan King and Velvet Jones escape government clutches, returning to war-ravaged Prince Edward Island only to discover their problems are just beginning. Not only are they being hunted by savage, opportunistic tribes struggling for survival, giant insects created by the new world order are also hunting for blood. 

If that isn’t enough, a government desperate to cover up its megalomaniac trail of death and destruction declares them a subversive enemy of the nation and launches a search and destroy mission. 

Battling multiple enemies, Nathan and Velvet soon learn their only hope for survival might be intangible: a portal inadvertently created by the genetic modification drug that seems to take them into another world, another dimension. 

In gritty and shocking fashion, Assaulted Souls III illustrates just how close we might actually be to a totalitarian regime ruled by ruthless and power-hungry leaders and thugs. Buy Now

Visit us on Social Media and Share your review of Assaulted Souls using the hashtag #AssaultedSoul

WILLIAM BLACKWELL ON THE APOCALYPSE

Post-apocalyptic fiction fan Kevin O’Neill recently intercepted my break-neck production schedule and interviewed me on Assaulted Souls, genetic modification and the apocalypse. Without any further adieu, here is the abridged interview:

O’Neill: In your newly released Assaulted Souls trilogy, you talk a lot of doom and gloom. In Assaulted Souls III, post-apocalyptic survivors narrowly escape government clutches, returning to war-ravaged Prince Edward Island only to discover their problems are just beginning.

Assaulted Souls

Assaulted Souls

Not only are they being hunted by savage, opportunistic tribes struggling for survival, giant insects created by the new world order are also hunting for blood. If that isn’t enough, a government desperate to cover up its megalomaniac trail of death and destruction declares them a subversive enemy of the nation and launches a search-and-destroy mission. Battling multiple enemies, they soon learn their only hope for survival might be intangible; a portal inadvertently created by the genetic modification drug that seems to take them into another world, another dimension. Is that how you view escape from an apocalypse? Going to another dimension?

Blackwell: I don’t know. As I was writing the trilogy, this idea of another dimension just sort of popped up, and seemed to fit into the story, adding perhaps a spiritual dimension to it. I think it serves to drive home the point that, without some spirituality, trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland could potentially be much more terrifying. Oftentimes with spirituality comes hope.

Continue reading

THE DEATH OF A CONVERSATION

I’ll be the first person to admit that social media has many benefits. It’s great for promotion, has the ability to catapult you to financial success overnight if used properly, and is an excellent way to stay connected with friends, family and loved ones.

But therein lies the paradox. Social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, to name a few, has not only thrived but exploded in popularity by exploiting the human need to connect with others. It preys on our propensity to be admired and loved, our desire to measure our self-worth by how many likes we get with our selfies (for those of you who don’t know, it means self-taken photos).

Like me please.

Like me please.

I recently had a conversation with a computer repair technician, and you wouldn’t believe some of the stories he told me about social media addiction. Maybe you would. He said one customer brought a computer into his shop to have all her photos backed up on a flash drive, claiming it wouldn’t be a very large job as there were only about 600-odd photos. What the technician found was over 100,000 photos, most of them of the woman’s teenage daughter. Apparently the teen spends many hours at the computer (and on social media), and every time she strikes a different pose (which must be fairly often) she snaps another picture, trying to capture that perfect angle, her best side maybe. Who knows how many of these photos made it onto her Facebook Wall of self-aggrandizement, looking for likes, a sense of self-worth and even a sense of identity from the virtual mirror of social judgment.

Continue reading