Epic bio for an epic band: Bury the Machines (conquering writer’s block)

A few weeks back I was tasked to write a bio for a new musical group called: Bury the Machines. I don’t usually do writing like this so I was a little hesitant and voiced my concern. However, I was assured they were familiar with my writing and all would go well. We’ll see, I thought. Though, the name alone was enticing enough to to peak my interest: Bury the Machines! What’s that about – what could it be about?

My friend John Bomher, the brainchild behind this duo (which includes Mark Serpico) sent me an early preview of their debut track, “Mutant Magnet.” He added that it was inspired about people going into the desert and building homes out of garbage called “Earth Ships“. Then he tossed the lyrics my way and touched on a few personal moments and influences to which I was familiar and said go to town.

Some of you will know that music is a big part of my writing process. When I write, it is almost exclusively while listening to a playlist over and over again. I also spent an earlier part of my life in the local music scene managing a Stoner Rock band (I Decline). John Bomher was a part of that scene, but has since moved out to Los Angeles. Bomher is a musician and all around sound guru who is also associated with Horse Drawn Productions. At some point Bomher had a collaboration project with my other long time friend John Doyle (I Decline). You might recall, that the two of them agreed to let me use music from their collaboration for the book trailer that was developed for “Curious Anomalies“.

When I donned my headphones to start my writing process for this project I began by perusing the lyrics Bomher had sent me for Mutant Magnet. The words strode out bold and defiant and filled my mind with desert images, old rusted out machines and these strange Earth Ships. As the sands blew about inside my head, I also thought back to my past with Bomher and some of the touchstones we shared. I let my mind wander. The music was heavy, filled with a dirge of emotion. The beats and melody came fast, the song cried out like voices lost in the wind. A wash of electronic sounds, pulsing beats and striving riffs. Definitely something I could sink my teeth into.

However, I had recently been struggling through a stretch of writer’s block. Words just hadn’t been coming lately and I was very rusty. I hoped this project would break me though that. I was worried that it wouldn’t.

At first I let my consciousness run wild and chased all the ideas I could grasp. They frittered about like loose kite strings flying free on a windy day. Words came–as they will do–and I occasionally grabbed hold of the strings and yanked the kites backward and upward. Yearning to bring them into proper place. Still, there were many kites and the wind kept changing directions. Writer’s block sometimes means that you sit at a computer (or pad of paper) and stare at nothing, other times you do actually write, but it’s hard-pressed crap. Not the usual self-doubting crap, where you’re just questioning the level of your talent but real blockage. You put words on paper, but they seem to mean nothing and refuse to go anywhere. Real blockage. Like trying to unclog a toilet by flushing again (sometimes it works, but sometimes it becomes a real mess).

Oftentimes, as a writer, it’s best to just let these things happen when you’re starting something new. Stream of consciousness writing can be fruitful for getting all your ideas out to see what you have and unblock the stopgaps. After you do this for a bit you hope that workable patterns and themes will form. This time, the useful parts didn’t come so easily. My mind seemed to be going in lots of directions at once. I pushed on. There were lots of false starts. Things got longer and longer. And seemingly less coherent.

I’m primarily a fiction writer and I wasn’t going to write a straight-forward bio. I wasn’t charged with that. So I searched over all the themes and events I had explored, trying to find a meaningful thread to pull them together.The process took longer than I expected (though I knew the recent bout of writer’s block would be a struggle), and I feared I wasn’t going to have anything useful. In the end I spoke to Bomher and set a deadline for myself. That seemed to help. I managed a first draft and sent it to Bomher who gave me some input and encouraged me forward.

Slowly the story pieces revealed themselves like rocks surfacing in the desert sands. The more I worked at it the bigger and more polished the stones became. In the end, I had the story. It’s part personal, part abstract. A little long too, but I think the voice comes through. So, if you’re interested in knowing more about this band, take a look at the bio I wrote.

Here’s a short teaser, but you can see the whole bio at the band’s website (

“Bury the Machines is born from the flames of a February tragedy. The proclivities of a mind gone to rot. Cold stirred ashes, reinvigorated from the burning remnants of life, destroyed in heinous depravity. Endings swallowing endings. A terrible and hopeless act of desperate violence. Unbearable waves of grief and unanswerable questions. John Bomher, in one phone call, found out that his long-time, road brother had put a decidedly definitive end to their friendship…”

The other awesome thing is that the band is releasing new tracks at scheduled intervals online. The first track is “Mutant Magnet” which Bomher let me listen to it while I wrote the bio. The Track is being released today so you should go check it out now!


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Review: “Going Postal (Discworld)” (Terry Pratchett) and “Going Postal” (Jon Jones)

Ryan Sean O'Reilly:

New Podcast Episode!

Originally posted on No Deodorant In Outer Space:

August Review – Episode Eight


Listen to the podcast here (click to play/right click and select “save target as” to download):

Episode Eight – Going Postal (book/movie)*


Ryan: 5 Stars “…You will not Return this Book to Sender—because it’s hilarious and awesome…

Wilk: 5 Stars “…All in all it was a pleasant quick read.. It was a bubble bath. It has it’s place but I won’t be in one often...”

Rick: 5 Stars “…If you do not like this book you may want to start paying attention to stuff…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on


“Going Postal (Discworld)” by Terry Pratchett

Book: “Going Postal (Discworld)” by Terry Pratchett

“Suddenly, condemned arch-swindler Moist von Lipwig found himself with a noose around his neck and dropping through a trapdoor into … a government job?


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Posted by on October 2, 2014 in Podcast


Book Review: “Going Postal (Discworld)” by Terry Pratchett

You will not Return this Book to Sender—because it’s hilarious and awesome!

Moist Von Lipwig is the name of the main character in this 33rd Novel of the Discworld series. That pretty much sets the stage for everything else. Grab hold of your hat and hang on for the ride.

Moist is a talented and clever conman who has had a very successful criminal career on a sort of “middling” level. That is to say, he’s a step up from pickpocket but a step down from the clowns running multinational corporations. He’s spent a vast majority of his life playing alter egos that suit his various (and less than altruistic) endeavors. So much so, that you realize a fair way through, that the man does not really know himself. He’s been so busy playing make-believe in order to earn a fast buck that he really hasn’t ever figured out who he really is or what he cares about. And in that, we see the true genius of Terry Prachett’s writing. The story of the protagonist is a redemptive tale that is wrapped up in the polka dotted humor and witticism of a very clever satirist. We manage to care very deeply for Moist and his struggles, which are both outward and inward.

The story primarily centers around the city of Ankh-Morpork and its communications system. The book opens with the protagonist being saved from death, by a benevolent tyrant—the city patrician—Lord Vetinari. Although Vetinari is a dictator, he seems to be shrewd enough to care about the well-being of his citizens. Vetinari has identified a troubling problem with the mode of communication in the city; in which the majority of the story takes place. Swift communications between the citizenry are being conducted through a privately run utility known as the “Clacks,” which is basically a system of visual telegraph towers (semaphores) that translate messages across distances using coding. Apparently, the Clacks system was “legally” taken over through a series of questionable financial maneuvers by a collective of investors known as “The Grand Trunk” who are headed by Reacher Gilt (a min of ill repute—and probably a pirate to boot!). Since the takeover, fees have gone up and service has gone down. Vetinari attempts to correct the situation by talking to The Grand Trunk and is rebuked for his efforts. The problem is that the Clacks are now the only game in town and everyone relies on them exclusively to get things done. Too big to fail….

So Vetinari schemes to even the playing field by resurrecting the ancient, defunct postal system. To do this, he conscripts our protagonist. Moist agrees to go along with the plan for appearances, until he can bide his time and figure a way to escape and return to his old scamming ways. However, the endearing, odd ball cast of characters which Moist encounters while working in and around the post office slowly start to wear him down and he develops an interest in things beyond his own selfish needs.

The cast of characters that Prachett dreams up are brilliant and memorable. Whether it’s the fire-eyed Golem parole officer who must keep tabs on the protagonist; the old-guard of anal-retentive postal workers; the slick zombie-faced lawyer; the mostly-sane former Clacks workers turned code-crackers and rabble rousers; the boisterous and bumbling stuffy-robed wizards of the Unseen University; the sulking and skulking Igor butler henchman; the disturbing pigeon-eating banshee; or the chain-smoking golem-rights activist/love interest—you fall in love with them all. Everyone comes alive. An unforgettable cast. Sometimes there are heartfelt moments of kind and generous acts, other times you revel in the satire that floods through the streets of Ankh-Morpork. Everyone is a character and a caricature and always faintly familiar.

Moist is quick-witted and all to willing to up the stakes. A bad habit from his scheming days, but it serves him well in his new career as postman as he finds himself pitted against the biggest conman of them all—the head of the Clacks—Reacher Gilt. This is where we see real character growth as Moist is both awed and repulsed by the story’s chief antagonist. He is facing a distorted and much crueler mirror image of himself in dealing with Gilt. The more he learns, the more he is intrigued, and the more he is distressed. Upon meeting a truly great connoisseur of the trade (i.e. master conman) in Gilt, he sees that it is not so great a thing to aspire to. Then he questions himself and the life he has led and he wonders if there is much difference between him and Gilt. This is great character growth and the stuff of good story making.

Another great thing in this book is the inherit magic of the post office (A decidedly untraditional magical reagent). But Pratchett’s description of the place—even in its pigeon-dropping-covered-piles-of-old-letters—have all the intrigue and captivation of a haunted castle. A wonderfully original setting.

Other commentators have pointed out how well Pratchett does with word-play (even the title of the book lends itself to this). They also point out how you don’t get tired of it. It’s true. This book has many levels of humor from word-puns to deep satire pointing out the absurdities that are abundant in a capitalistic society. The Clacks system and The Grand Trunk have innumerable alliterations to phone companies and investment banking. Indeed, this book was written before the recent financial crisis that raked the world’s economies and is disturbingly prescient in many of its aphorisms. He makes you think as well as entertains you (as truly great authors do!).

Prachett really hits the spot. He is refreshingly funny and a good storyteller. The world can be a very awful place sometimes, when you look at all the problems one can suffer through during a lifetime. Yet, it is books like this one that help to put all the grim things in their proper place of absurdity.

Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes or our website.


Posted by on October 2, 2014 in Book Reviews


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Mildred – a tale of psychological suspense – FREE for Kindle

My new story, MILDRED, is free at Amazon today:

Synopsis: A diary, noises from the attic, a resident cat, and piles and piles and piles of boxes cast shadows over Josephine as she digs through her new home and discovers the disturbing circumstances surrounding her purchase of the place.

Book Trailer:

Get it now for free before it’s too late!


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Posted by on September 27, 2014 in News


Book Review: “A Clockwork Orange” (Anthony Burgess)

Summary: The paths of violence navigate through a forest of moral choices-what is the worth of the
automatic man?

Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes or our website:

Review: The depth of this work is not fully realized in a passing read. Indeed, the author himself dismisses it as much too pedantic to be artistic. Yet, the work does seem to have layers with which the reader can be drawn into thoughtfulness. It is a violent work, born in part, from a violent act. Burgess’s wife suffered an attack not unlike one of the horrendous acts which the main character perpetrates. This fact alone make the work mind-boggling and curious. Why would the author write a work like this, told from the perspective of the actual criminal mind?

And yet, he distances himself from all the violence. Blurring the heinous crimes with a hypnotic made-up language that populates the book. Burgess admitted this. The language of this book, perhaps a bit difficult to get through at first, becomes more and more familiar as we are sucked along in little Alex’s head and all his misadventures. It covers over the violence and keeps the reader from being completely turned away. Perhaps we even feel a strange sympathy for the main character when he is being used by the political forces in this world? As we might be sucked in by any charismatic criminal.

Moral choice? In the book, the main character is evil, but the government attempts to make him good by physically disabling him from doing bad. The religious figure, a prison Chaplin, decries this saying that without freewill a person ceases to be a person. By contrast a prison warden scorns that the government’s action is missing the point – for where is redemption without punishment “an eye for an eye” and all that. The government officials in the conservative party say that the only point of all this is to lower the crime rate (and in so doing to get reelected). The scientists who invent the special technique which transforms the main character don’t even want to get into ethics at all. But what about Alex’s parents and former social worker? They all sort of seem perplexed by him or maybe indifferent. And the main character himself is unconcerned with all this – he just wants to get back to his old ways as quick as he can.

If you read the 21st chapter (the one originally cut out in the American version) you end on a different note. The character grows up. Seemingly all on his own. His change appears to come from within. Yet, I feel it is not completely from within – for at the end – he has a job doing something he likes (which is not destructive), and he is now earning money NOT stealing it. Back in his crime-filled sprees it was easy come – easy go. Yet little Alex, now big Alex is not so quick to part with his cash when he’s been meant to become a part of society and earn his keep. So, when Alex gets set up doing something he likes (associated with his love of music) his destructive ways are diverted.

But compare this with Alex’s companions: George, the droog who had a notion to take over leadership – falls victim to his own criminal ambitions. Dim, a lack-witted brute, throws in with Alex’s enemy– perpetrating his old violent tricks now as a corrupt (or sadistic) police officer. Then there is Pete who was the least violent in the group, who renounces his old ways and finds a girl—moves on—matures—grows up. We are led to believe that Alex might follow in Pete’s footsteps. Did he come to this conclusion on his own? Did the government help him to it by providing him a way of making a living with something positive he is interested in? Or did it just become tired of being a criminal (or more mature). After all, the last chapter is the “21st” chapter and made to be symbolic with the coming of age at 21 years.

In Alex’s world, everyone connected with the criminal way seems to be using everyone else. Alex and his droogs use people by preying on them. Then Alex is preyed upon by the government for political reasons and exploit. Despite Alex’s unforgivable lifestyle, we are still left feeling unsatisfied with the government’s solution. Somehow we can’t quite swallow turning someone into an automaton. Burgess makes sure of this by making the governments technique have the side effect of causing him pain and awful discomfort whenever he hears music (his one arguably redeemable quality). And this side effect is then exploited to cause Alex to try to “snuff it” (end his own life). This would be unacceptable, for if the government had wanted that, then they simply could have administered capital punishment in the first place.

This book is very successful in sucking you in to a sort of comfortable and hypnotic read of things that would otherwise jolt you off the page, and then after you’ve gone too far into the character’s head it’s too late to turn back. You are caught in the bright and harsh lights on the big moral issues at stake surrounding crime, morality, maturity and freedom of choice.

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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Book Reviews


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Mildred – a tale of psychological suspense is FREE right now

Get it for Kindle at Amazon:

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Posted by on September 14, 2014 in News


Book Review: “I Am Legend” (Richard Matheson)

Even depression and alcoholism can’t defeat a vampiric-zombie apocalypse.

Despite its vampire origins, this book originated many medical, zombie, dystopian thrillers. Robert Neville is alone. Very alone. Well, not completely alone. His family, friends, and neighbors have all come down with a bad case of vampirism. However, this sickness more closely resembles zombism (without the brain eating). The vampires have an intelligence much closer to (but slightly above) your typical walking dead.

The story opens with the protagonist literally boarded up in his home, living off a generator and the food he manages to pilfer during daylight hours. Over time, he has managed to find a way to survive in a world where people (and sometimes animals) are dying of this strange disease that very closely resembles vampirism. Despite the best efforts of the world’s scientists, everyone had gone to rot except Neville (or so we think). So he has shored up his existence with a greenhouse full of garlic, strategically placed mirrors and the occasional Christian cross. All this helps to keep the relentless vampire apocalypse at bay during the wearisome nights. During the day, Neville makes repairs to his fortifications, hunts downed weaken vampires and dispatches them with wooden stakes and picks up supplies around the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The author brings a nice sort of thriller-suspense element to the table as he plays with this constant cycle of safety and danger as the sun rises and sets.

The nights are where the fun begins. At sundown, Neville must be back home safe and sound or risk being overwhelmed by the masses. The vampires are not too strong physically, but at night they are at full strength and they come out in never ending swarms. Every single evening, Neville sits in his home stares at a mural of some nameless and beautiful landscape of a long forgotten time of yore and drinks himself into numbness at he listens to the vampires throw rocks at his windows and mirrors, beat on his walls and (in a particularly chilling way) call out his name.

The author makes interesting leaps into scientific plausibility for this plague that has besot mankind. He mixes in classic vampire legend with microbiology and psychology. It’s a great mix for pleasing modern readers. The theories for how some of the vampire legends evolved from truth (like the chemical qualities in garlic scent being repellent to the vampire germ) and some are just psychological (the Christian vampires fear a cross because somewhere in their infected brains they have memories that tell them they should be). The main character is just a plant worker, an everyman. Yet, we follow along with him over the months as he educates himself with library books on how to learn about microbiology and test out theories and hypothesis on the vampires so that he can learn what happened and why its happened, and see if maybe he can change the course of things. He’s pretty much alone with a lot of time on his hand (in between vampire slayings), but it may be a bit of stretch given that he does have daily maintenance on his home/fortress to keep up and supplies to obtain (and there is nobody around to help him). Still these ideas of working science into legend really help to build up the mystery, suspense, and tension. They are also the precursor elements for many similar books to come.

The true story is here. It’s not about vampires, zombies, or zombie-vampire hybrids. It’s about a man who thinks he’s the only person left in the world. Who has buried and reburied his loved ones. A man utterly broken and alone, fueled on fumes of whisky to carry out the primal instincts of his body. Survival. Some reviews may disagree, but the book has real strength here. We get inside this man’s head and really feel his struggle and his sense of hopelessness. We follow his ups and downs as little glints of hope dash past him and then are snatched away by the cruel reality of this dystopian world: his mind’s struggle with his body’s desire—the impetus of life. Of particular note, is Neville’s struggle with carnal temptation when the female vampires outside his house try to tempt him with their attributes of flesh, his spiral into deeper and deeper alcoholism and his violent lashings of frustration at the trappings of his environment. All of this is felt and related to the reader in a very compelling way. This, my fiends, is the heart of the story.

The ending, which is a bit of a twist, sets a nice perspective on things. It’s dark and sort of unsuspecting. The author goes from spending a vast majority of the book, zoomed tightly and claustrophobically on a sole protagonist to suddenly panning wide and taking in a much broader view. Sort of inline with the Twilight Zone style that the author helped create when he wrote for that show.

Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes or our website.

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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Book Reviews


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