Mechanical Failures

This is the third story in the “Clan Brennan” cycle. When they’re collected into a book, it will probably be the grand finale, for reasons that you’ll see if you read. It honors my brother, who I can totally see doing all of this with nothing more than a resigned sigh. To read this story in the permanent archive, see here.

The image above is just a placeholder for the marvelous artwork from the talented Ruben de Vela that is currently in process.

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How The Trumps Brought Death and Destruction to Coney Island

Charles Denson is a historian and former (current?) resident of Coney Island.  He’s one of my primary sources for Dreams of the Boardwalk and my upcoming fantasy novel City of Dreams.  He’s here today to talk about how Donald’s Trump’s father mutilated an iconic New York neighborhood; literally killed people with his greed and racism; destroyed a landmark in one of the most cruel, petty and vindictive manners possible; and raised his son to be just like himself.

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Filed under Inspirations, New York Life, Politics

In The Make-Out Room

Another story has finished its period as a KDP Select exclusive, and is now available! To see it in the permanent archive, go here!

This story was originally published in an anthology of extreme horror, and when it came to this site it was originally published in my now-defunct “Grindhouse” archive. It is an exercise in brutal violence and fairly graphic sex. So just saying…Hard-R here, people. You’ve been warned.

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AIDS Walk 2019

Hey all! AIDS Walk 2019 is coming up soon, and I am enrolled. I look forward to it every year – it’s a little bit of good that’s easy for me to do. If you want to contribute, go here.  If you can’t donate, please share.

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Filed under Links, My Life

Lottery Winner


Another story has finished its period as a KDP Select exclusive, and is now available! To see it in the permanent archive, go here!

This story is an homage to Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, one of the original small town horror stories. But where she chose to be deadly serious and shock a generation of Americans with horror brought into a place where they thought they were safe, I’ve decided to go a slightly different route…


John Weston has been living the good life. A successful relationship, a good business, and not one but several women on the side. Tonight, he found out why:

Every seven years, the town where he lives chooses a sacred king. For seven years, he has everything his heart desires; at the end of the seventh, he is sacrificed to ensure the prosperity of the town.

That’s bad enough, but something weird is going on – well, even weirder. All of the people trying to kill John Weston tonight are being as nice about it as they can, and they act like they’re doing him a favor. Like they’re saving him from something worse. What could possibly be worse?


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What It Takes To Be A Good Person

This viral Facebook post by Matt Norris just says everything:

Disapproving of people who aren’t “Normal” went from a virtue to vice within my lifetime.

I still see a lot of baffled resentment about that shift in public morals.

I still read a lot of pushback, and a sense that something’s gone terribly wrong.

If you strip away all the rhetoric and conspiracy theories that call marriage equality and gender neutral restrooms a subversive attack on normative institutions in prelude for the ushering in of a totalitarian state that demands full ideological compliance at all times, you’re left with a portrait of some very simple, wrong, but simple feelings underneath:

People miss being socially rewarded for conformity.
People miss being socially rewarded for enforcing it.
People resent being punished for what they were once rewarded for.

The shift in public morals changed the rules on what it took to be seen as a good person.

It used to be about not doing anything weird, and looking down on anybody who did.

Now it’s about not doing anything cruel, and looking down on anyone who does.

There used to be people it was not only OK to be cruel about, but REWARDED to be cruel about.

People fear the loss of unity that a loss of conformity-as-a-public-moral represents to them. They don’t understand what that unity cost, and don’t understand that it was a facade that was no more true then, than it was now, and just required a lot more people to hide, pretend, live unsatisfying inauthentic lives, and often suffer anyway, because the people who fear this were the ones conformity came easily to. They were the ones around whom the idea of “normal” was designed.

They built their senses of self partially on a bedrock of pride at being “the right kind of person.”

They see the idea that there even IS a “right kind of person” going away, as a threat not only to the unity of their nation, but to the socialvalue of the principal virtue from which they’ve always derived their standing and self-worth. Public tolerance of nonconformity, and public intolerance of intolerance toward it, feel like an existential threat.

If you’re wondering what animates and underwrites some segments of the modern Conservative outrage over ostensibly harmless live-and-let-live tolerance being adopted as the norm, and why they cast objection to them as FreeSpeech issues on THEIR behalf rather than HumanRights issues on someone else’s, this is how that logic works.

Within their lifetimes, whole swaths of the belief systems they were raised with and feel religiously and culturally virtuous for espousing, changed entirely without their buy-in from things everybody was supposed to agree with Or Else, to something you’d be treated badly for asserting.

Practically Overnight, as far as they were concerned.

And since these changes came from outside their communities –

And since these changes regarded discrimination and basic human rights –

They were accompanied by changes to the law regarding who it was ok to shun and treat differently.

That answer used to be “Someone”
That answer is now “No One”


All they know is they got a taste of what it was like to suddenly feel like pariahs at the hands of people who suddenly asserted influence over the laws of the land and didn’t respect their values or beliefs, and accomplished all of this without their consent or agreement, practically overnight.

It became NOT OK to hold beliefs that they held dear, not just on a social level, but also on a legal level, where those beliefs meant engaging in discriminatory practices against “the people it’s morally appropriate to treat badly.”

And That Was Terrifying.

It was the closest thing they’d ever felt to persecution.

Legal protections granting equality to the people they felt dutybound to shun and look down on felt like the government, acting at the behest of radicals who “didn’t love this country” (read: love it exactly how it was) felt like an attack not just on the character of the nation but on their individual right to self-determination and free thought.

So the next time you’re on a comment thread and you encounter someone dashing off manifestos about liberal nazi thought police, while you still won’t (i hope) respect and agree with them, you’ll at least know how they came to be as freaked-out as they are by things that nobody should mind, and why they see nothing but tyranny and totalitarianism in a public morals shift that says cruelty’s not ok.

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Field Hospital

Another story has finished its period as a KDP Select exclusive, and is now available! To see it in the permanent archive, go here!

This is the second story in the “Clan Brennan” cycle, the one that caused me to realize that I was actually writing a series. It honors my youngest sister, who is now MAJOR Doctor Eileen Brennan.

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