The pitfalls of paid marketing

I’ve noticed I’m getting a lot of activity on my Instagram account lately, which doesn’t bother me in the slightest. What concerns me, though, is the prevalence of paid reviews and promotions I’m seeing. If that’s your thing, I’m not maligning you – whether you’re a promoter or a purchaser of promotion services. 

I don’t think that’s something I can do though. It’s not necessarily that I’m cheap or broke, but I don’t know how I would feel asking someone to promote my work if they haven’t even read it. For me to do something I have to believe in it first. Otherwise what’s the point? 

That said, my novella, Sliding Along the Watchtower, just got its 12th – yes, you read that right – 12th – 5 star review on Amazon. My new book, Flies in the Leaves of Glass, is also now available. I suggest you get your own copy today. I won’t put anything out unless I think it’s fantastic. And I think you’ll really enjoy what I’ve written for you this go-round. 

On being an author

I was doing some reflecting today and came to a realization. I’m not only a writer but an author. I have two published books and people give me money to read them. One of my best friends is a writer and has asked me to help him edit his debut novel and collaborate with him on another story. These things make me feel good about what I do. I might not be able to write full-time yet, but it’s a start. And I’m extremely grateful to those of you who’ve taken time to read my stories. 


It’s time to give back!

Okay everyone. I know I haven’t been doing much blogging lately and I’m going to try to rectify that. I’m also going to start trying to publish actual stories more often. This last batch was really good. Anyway. 

I have two copies of my newest book Flies in the Leaves of Glass available to be signed and sent to you – absolutely free of charge. All I ask is this: go to my Facebook page, hit the Like button, and share this post. 

That’s it. 

That’s all you have to do. 

The two of you who win will be contacted via private message and will receive your very own personalized copy by Halloween. (Just in time to be freaked out! SQUEE!)

Help me bring you more stories more often by helping me promote this book. As you may have guessed, I’m pretty new to the whole marketing thing, and I need help. In the meantime, I’ve got loads more stories to tell. 

I’ve got my copy!

Do you have yours yet? 

Quid pro quo, Clarice…

Hey there! You! Yeah you! Do you like to read? Do you like free stuff? Because if you do, I’m currently giving away the Kindle version of my first novella: Sliding Along the Watchtower. It’s FREE. This week only. Get your copy today! Don’t own a Kindle but you own a smartphone? Then you own a Kindle! The app is free! What are you waiting for? Get your free copy, then head over to my Facebook page at and hit that like button!

Flies in the Leaves of Glass

Just thought I’d share something nifty with you guys. This is going to be the cover of my upcoming book. It’s dark. It’s creepy. It’s wicked. And I love it. Available October 1st: Flies in the Leaves of Glass and Other Stories. It’ll be up for preorder soon!

Every New Beginning Starts With Some Other Beginning’s End

Wow. It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything here. In a way that’s a positive and a negative. It’s negative in that I have some minions who enjoy what I do who don’t follow me anywhere else that have been left out of the loop. Sorry guys.

It’s a positive in that the less time I spend writing for free on WordPress, the more I spend writing stories that will eventually be sold in some way, shape, or form to people who want to read them, thus generating a little extra cash.

That said, who’s got two thumbs and a new book coming out soon? This guy right here. That’s right! Your new favorite horror/weird fiction author is putting out a new collection of tales to tantalize and terrorize you, just in time for the Halloween season. Mark your calendars, folks! October 1: Flies in the Leaves of Glass and Other Stories, by Paul Martinez. If Sliding Along the Watchtower left you wanting more, this is a collection of nine new stories for your enjoyment which is coming in at more than 200 pages.

With that said, it’s time for me to get back to what I enjoy doing most: coming up with new ways to look at the mundane so we can see the horror and madness behind it all.

The End of Innocence

My friends, I’m writing with a heavy heart tonight. I don’t know what’s been going on in your worlds, but let me give you a glimpse into mine. Two of my friends have died recently. They were good men. Friday a friend of my niece committed suicide. I come from a small town and his death has rocked the community. He was going to graduate high school. His father’s birthday was just a few days prior. My heart is broken for his family and friends and for all who loved him. A few days later I was contacted by two other friends – one of whom found a friend of his post-suicide attempt, and another who feels she’s failed at life in general. Another friend had to put down one of her beloved fur-kids today. These are heavy burdens for anyone to bear and my heart is also broken for them in their time of sadness and loss. 

I’ve never made a secret of my struggles with depression. It is very real, and left untreated can kill. Several other people in my family also suffer and I feel their pain intensely. It was brought to my attention that some people made some insensitive comments about the young man’s suicide and I’ll admit it got me very upset. My own wife has had friends commit and attempt suicide – one very recently. Many of you, I’m sure, have been touched by this very same issue. 

I don’t pretend to subscribe to the Christian faith. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for me. Today, though, my wife pointed me to the current Catholic doctrine on suicide. I read it, and found it surprisingly compassionate and even comforting. 

The truth is that nobody truly knows anyone else. We have friends, loved ones, people who we are close to, but nobody else can truly look into your deepest heart and see what lies there. We don’t know what is truly going on in someone else’s life. I myself have laughed many times while I was screaming in rage or weeping uncontrollably inside. We. Just. Don’t. Know. It is not up to us to judge where someone else was when they did it. Those questions can only be answered beyond the veil. If there is an intelligent god on the next plane, that person can only answer to it – not us. All we can do here is remember what that person meant to us and lift their memory up in love and compassion – not judgement.

If someone feels the need to take their own life, our place is not to judge or hold them in sin. Our place is to feel compassion that they felt – for whatever reason – they could no longer continue. We must also remember they may not have been in complete control of themselves when they did it. There are many mental diseases that can seize control of us and make us act in a way contrary to who we are. Let us remember as we go forward to hold those near to us in love. Tomorrow is never promised, and today is truly a gift. Remind the people you love that you love them. Even if you’re angry with them, remind them. You may never get another chance. 

On the Parable of the Sower

I went to a local park today with the wife and hatchling. One of the big thing about this park is that there’s a creek running through it that runs over a huge rock formation. So I went out on the rocks today for some contemplation and reflection and there are trees and grass growing up through the rock. They’re not only growing, they’re thriving.
We’ve all heard the Parable of the Sower, I’m sure, in which seed is scattered on the ground but only germinates in good soil. I’ve never been fond of that parable – even when I followed the Man Jesus. And this is why: on that huge slab of Georgia rock grass and trees have taken root and found a way. Life always finds a way. The moral of the story is clear to me: if the seed that is your life is cast upon rocky soil you can still thrive if you persevere. I’m reminded of a speech given by Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up!”
Life is what you make of it. Your perception determines your reality and your expectations will be fulfilled. If you expect negative things, they will occur. If you expect positive things, they will occur. Whether you think you can or think you can’t…you’re right. I know these are often considered cheap platitudes, but it’s true. Life is already difficult enough for those of us whose seeds were scattered amongst the rocks and thorns. But if we persevere and continue to do the right thing no matter what, we can still thrive. These shit lives of ours are what we make of them. I hope we can all make the best of them.


On 37

It seems this has become something of an annual thing for me: the birthday blog post of the lesson I should have learned over the previous year. This post always makes me feel melancholy for some reason; this year a little more so. This year I’ve done a lot of reflecting back to when I was young. I’ve thought a lot of the friends I had at that time. We’re still friends, thankfully, but those relationships have changed much and more.

When I was in middle school I met a fellow named John. We were both twisted in the same direction and so, naturally, we became best friends. We stayed that way until my first marriage. I miss him. I haven’t spoken to or seen him in more years than I care to think of, but I’m friendly with his wife and will occasionally ask her to relay a message to him. I think what makes me sad is that I’ve never heard back. It’s not that we didn’t part ways on friendly terms; I’m pretty sure he’s just occupied with other things. Still. It would be nice to hear from my old friend once. I was going through and getting rid of a lot of my old things over the holiday and came across an entire slew of CDs that we both had. Many of them were obscure and hard to find, and more of them are now out of print. John was a great one for finding good obscure music. One of the CDs I kept is by a woman named Connie Dover – If Ever I Return. It’s a Celtic album. It’s the first one I ever owned, actually. Anyway, the last track on the album is a gorgeous little number called How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain? It’s redolent with the flute and the bagpipe. I remember when John and I got this CD and the first time we listened to it it came to the end of the song and he and I were both laughing and weeping openly, the song is that beautiful and moving. If you’ve never been moved to tears by a piece of music, I pity you. I’m not ashamed to say that song still moves me to tears.
That was a special place in my life. They were the best of times, they were the worst of times, as the saying goes. My small group of friends also formed a small drama troupe for the church we attended. We wrote much of our own material, made the most of what we could with practically no budget, and in general loved what we were doing. Our crowning achievement was a slew of one-act plays performed between Christmas and Easter – one every week – telling the story of the Jesus man. It wasn’t all serious though. We did this one number in the vein of Dr. Seuss called The Dangling Conversation in that the entire thing was nonsensical and rhymed. We had such a blast writing and performing that one. Good times. I miss that kid sometimes. I miss that kid who could work full time and still make time to crank out a different play or dramatic performance every single week. He was a hopeful guy, you know? Maybe he was just naïve. Either way I miss his energy. That kid grew up and his dreams were lost. What’s left is the writer who tries very hard not to be cynical.
I look at myself and ask myself who I am a lot. Am I a truck driver with pretensions to write? Am I a writer who drives a truck to pay the bills? Am I a bad husband? A bad father? Have I been a good son and brother or a bad one? I know that I’ve been selfish, but I’m trying to rectify that. Many of the questions I have will only be answered by those I leave behind when my time comes, but there is one question I do know the answer to: I’m a writer. That’s what I am. It’s not a question of being what I do. This is my nature. We must be true to our nature. Liars lie, cheaters cheat, singers sing, musicians make music, artists make their art using whatever their medium may be: pencil, ink, paint, clay, stone, film, music, words. It’s not a question of wanting to do it or not. It needs to be done.
This year has been quite the mixed bag for me. My book was published, and though it’s not much of a seller, it’s gotten rave reviews. I didn’t write it to get rich though. I wrote it because I needed to write it. I’ve been forced to face things I’d rather not have faced too. There’s a dark place inside which I can’t explore. When I try I get physically ill. I have strong suspicions of what lies in there, but I can’t know for sure because my body rejects my mind’s attempt to see it. Suffice it to say, I’m pretty positive why I can’t remember much of my childhood. I suspect it’s a large part of why I went suicidal so young too. I do wonder if one day I’ll be forced to actually go in there and look around, and I must say that I really hope not. Maybe I’m a coward for that, but I’ve lived with that darkness for so long I don’t know what I would do without it. It’s contributed to who I am. That doesn’t make it any less of a bitch to live with, but as we say on Earth, se la vie. (Bonus points if you get the obscure reference.)
Something I wrote last year in this post still holds true. I’ve been open about my struggle with depression and suicidal tendencies for a reason. Especially since we lost Robin Williams this year, I hope that my openness about my struggle helps someone else out there who may be suffering in silence. Depression is a silent killer. I know for many years I suffered in silence, ashamed and afraid to tell anyone about my struggle. No longer. Yes – I suffer from depression. It’s a real thing. It’s not something to be ashamed of. I hope my chronicles of my struggle have helped someone out there – if only to know that you are not alone in your struggle. These shit lives we live are full of rage and pain and sadness and love and beauty and passion and happiness. I’ve found a way to channel mine. I hope you find your outlet too. If you happen to be close to someone who suffers from depression, do us all a favor and don’t tell them to get over it. It doesn’t help and believe it or not it’s really not that easy.
Did I learn a lesson this year? I don’t think so. I’ve continued learning the lessons I’ve been learning though: primary among them is to live in the ever present now, rather than worrying about the past or the future. I hope that others try to learn this lesson too.
Mother don’t worry I killed the last snake that lived in the creek bed.
Mother don’t worry I’ve got some money I saved for the weekend.
Mother remember being so stern with that girl who was with me?
Mother remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body?
So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten.
Sons are like birds: flying upwards over the mountain.
Mother I made it up from the bruise on the floor of this prison.
Mother I lost it, all of the faith in the lord I was given.
Mother forget me now that the creek drank the cradle you sang to.
Mother forgive me, I sold your car for the shoes that I gave you.
So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten.
Sons can be birds taken broken up to the mountain.
Mother don’t worry I’ve got a coat and some friends on the corner.
Mother don’t worry she’s got a garden we’re planting together.
Mother remember the night that the dog had her pups in the pantry?
Blood on the floor, fleas on their paws, and you cried till the morning?
So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten.
Sons are like birds, flying always over the mountain.
– Upward Over the Mountain, by Iron and Wine

As always, this post really doesn’t contain anything profound. It’s my way of dealing with the melancholy that comes with me growing older. I’ve done my best work as I’ve gotten older, and I’m grateful for the experience that’s come with growing older, but there was a kid I used to be who gets further and further behind me every day and sometimes I really do miss that kid and the life he had. I miss the friends he had too. Wasn’t it Saturn who had two faces: one looking ahead and one behind? If so it makes sense that I feel the same way much of the time. Saturn rules Capricorn, after all. On the bright side, though, I do my best writing when I’m melancholy. Time to crank out a new story, I guess.
Here’s to a better year for us all.

PS:. To my sister – thank you for what you said to me on my birthday. It truly meant a lot to me. It’s ironic to me in that you are much of what I myself aspire to. You were my first hero. Thanks for always being there for me – both as kids and now that we’re adults. I love you.

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