Archive for July, 2014

What happens when a bully gets called out by their former victim? Does he deny what he did? Maybe he says, “Shut up, or else!” or he tries to justify his behavior by saying, “I only did that ’cause you were eyeballin’ me!”

Or maybe he apologizes and humbly asks for forgiveness …

Last week, I posted “A Bully’s Memory,” my first of what will be many entries about bullying. In it, I called out four bullies from my past who’ve sent me Facebook friend requests that I’ve accepted without discussing the aforementioned bullying. I shared it on Facebook in hopes that the “big four” would recognize themselves and do the right thing. One of them did, the man who I called “Sleazy Rider,” but whom I’ll now forever address by name, Wayne Lutz.

Though I didn’t use his name in the piece, Wayne recognized himself in it. Although he didn’t fully recall the time he snapped in woodshop and threatened to pound me into the ground, he felt horrible for having done so and, to his credit, he publicly apologized. Right there on Facebook for all our shared friends to see, he identified himself as “Sleazy Rider” and shared a rather heartfelt and sincere apology. This makes him more of a man than most people I know who use the term to define themselves. Also to his credit, Wayne sent me an even more sincere and heartfelt apology on Instant Message … a message that spurred a phone call, which pave the way for a reconciliation.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hey J.P. How’s it going?”

There it was … that slow, familiar drawl that I hadn’t heard in six years. Admittedly, it felt a bit odd because I knew we had to discuss the now-infamous “woodshop incident,” especially after I put it out there in such a public way! And so began our conversation, one in which all posturing, ego, attitude and other defense mechanisms are stripped away, allowing two men to just talk as equals, neither one afraid of losing their status or reputation. In that hour, we learned more about each other than either of us thought we knew. I was surprised to find out that he, too, had some issues with bullies at the school. For example, the bully who threatened to slam me into the concrete each day in Spanish class was the same one who used to follow him home from school and threaten him. (I still can’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, his lashing out at me was somehow in response to his own torment.)

Frankly, I was surprised to learn that Wayne had been bullied. To be honest, I would’ve never pictured him as someone who had to deal with these things that experienced on a near-daily basis in school. Though we’re the same age, Wayne always seemed so much older and more mature than the rest of us at that time. It was this very attitude that he had it all under control is why I looked up to him back then and why I hung around him as much as I did. Suffice to say, Wayne told me some things that he experienced as a young man, this explained the look of weariness he had in his eyes back then, and why he was forced to grow up faster than his emotions could handle at that time. Out of respect for him, that’s about all I can say … the rest is his story to tell, not mine.

In the end, I’m glad I spoke with Wayne because it reminded me of one very important thing: he’d only been my bully once, but he had been my friend both before and after the incident. All these years, I’ve focused only on that to the point where I forgot about this. To think I’ve missed out on the opportunities for friendship with him all these years because I held on to that for so long! (Admittedly, this is something I’m working on.) It’s also made me realize that anyone, even friends, can have a bad day, and they might say things they don’t really mean, and that I wasn’t alone when it came to the bullying at Hamady High.

I hope I was able to match the honor that Wayne displayed; I feel I owe him that. It took a lot of guts for him to apologize publicly, and I have an immense amount of respect for him. It’s too bad the other three bullies mentioned in my first post couldn’t muster up a fraction of the integrity that Wayne Lutz has. I shouldn’t be surprised, though … a bully is a coward, and ignoring my first post was a cowardly way of not owning your shit. So to Mr. Slick, Napoleon, and Senor Caliente, I have this to say, and it’s something I’m sure you’ll recognize:

“This isn’t over ’til I say it is.”

J.P. Ribner’s experiences with bullies and the violence they cause has led to the creation of his three novels: Legacy of the Bear, Prophecy of the Bear, and World So Dark.

Paranormal erotica is all the rage in literature, and no one does it better than Flint’s Roxanne Rhoads. With the skillful art of writers such as Stephen King or Clive Barker, Roxanne ramps up reader investment from the very first page, then expertly builds the suspense, hurtling readers toward a payoff that’s as titillating as it is terrifying. And there’s plenty of thrills and chills along the way! (Admittedly, I needed a cold shower after reading just the first chapter of her Hex and the Single Witch, Vehicle City Vampires Book 1.) In many ways, Roxanne is not unlike her protagonist, witch-detective Anwyn Rose: dedicated to her craft, she conjures up the arcane magic of her brilliantly creative mind and casts it onto the page for the whole world to see.

If erotica and the paranormal are your thing, you owe it to yourself to invest some time in Roxanne’s works. You’ll be sucked in from the beginning and, before you realize it, you’re craving more. Thankfully, her talent is matched by her output, and this Flintspired Writer has many great works to choose from. The only question is where to start …

I began writing when I was: …

“I think I was born with a pen in my hand. I can’t remember when I didn’t write. In grade school, I attended all the Young Author’s conferences and in middle, high school and college, I wrote for the school papers and local magazines. It started with poetry and essays then moved on to non-fiction journalism and articles, then in 2005, I started dabbling in fiction.”

What moved me to write:

“My love of words; I loved to read from a very early age and that naturally translated into being a writer.”

Right now, I am working on:

“Vehicle City Vampires Book Two, Hex and the City.”

My work differs from others in the genre because:

“I don’t write formula. I do a bit of genre-bending by including concepts and scenes that you might not find in the average paranormal romance or urban fantasy book.”

I write what I do because:

“I love all things paranormal. If there are vampires, witches, ghosts or magick … I’m attracted to it, and it’s always been that way.”

My writing process is:

“I don’t do a lot of planning. Sure, I have notes and ideas scribbled in notebooks, but I don’t outline. I usually sit down at the computer and just write. Sometimes the story surprises me. In book one of Vehicle City Vampires, Mike Malone was supposed to be a minor supporting character. He had other ideas as I wrote the story and ended up a main character vying for the heart of the heroine.”

Describe your “Flintspiration:”

“The original background for the Vehicle City Vampires series came to me while I was driving through downtown Flint one day. After leaving the main strip of Saginaw Street that is the ‘downtown’ area, surrounding areas and neighborhoods look like ghost towns; businesses are boarded up, empty, and falling apart and houses are even worse. There are entire neighborhoods in and around Flint that are completely or almost completely empty. Out of 50 houses, two might still have residents.

“That’s scary on so many different levels.

“Suddenly an idea popped into my head, ‘What if, after all the humans left, Others started moving in?’ And the basic backstory of my series came to life. Flint, Michigan becomes a hotbed of supernatural activity; ghosts, ghouls, vampires, demons and were-creatures move in and become the majority making the human population the minority.”

Interested in Roxanne’s work? Look for these titles on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords:

Hex and the Single Witch
Paranormal Pleasures II: Ten More Tales of Supernatural Seduction
Paranormal Pleasures Ten Tales of Supernatural Seduction
Eternal Desire
Insatiable
Tasty Christmas Treats
Sinisterotica: A Collection of Erotic Horror

Single Author Titles, Ebook Only:
Complete Circle
An Unexpected Evening
No Place I’d Rather Be
A Halloween to Remember
Naughty Little Forest Nymph
A Hot and Sinful Summer: 5 Tantalizing Tales of Sizzling Summer Seduction

Short Stories in Multi-Author Collections:
Alfresco Loving
Lust Bites – A collection of five erotic vampire stories
Spirit Lovers – Volume 2
Red Hot Reads Three – a collection of six erotic stories
Sexy Christmas Stories – Volume Six – an Xcite Books Collection

Roxanne’s other writing outlets:
She’s a prolific writer, so a Google search on her name will surely access various articles and poetry of hers from all over the Web. Also, check out her blogs at www.roxannerhoads.com and www.fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com

Of all the pantomimes that come along with ass-kissing, word-eating has to be the worst! What’s that, you ask? It’s the series of physical traits that, when put together, appear as though someone is eating another’s words while those words are being spoken.

While it can be done while sitting down, the best word-eaters prefer to ply their trade while standing. They place one hand atop the other and then placed in front of the groin, as if to nullify the threat. Once the hands are properly placed, professional word-eaters lean forward at a polite angle – not quite 90 degrees, as too much can appear invasive – toward the person who’s speaking, as if they’re drawn to this man or woman of great import by some unseen yet powerful magnetic force. The next step is to open the mouth while simultaneously tilting the head back ever so slightly. A wide-eyed look is also required, as this this implies rapt attention and a high level of interest in what’s being said.

Now, imagine the person incorporating all of these traits while nodding their head in a quick jerks. When done in conversation, the professional word-eater looks as if he/she is doing just that: eating the important person’s words as he/she speaks them. Be on the lookout for such sycophantic and obsequious behavior, as it usually implies an unstable and potentially dangerous social situation.

That is all.

A Bully’s Memory …

Posted: July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

How good is a bully’s memory? Do they remember the times they’ve hurt, threatened, and humiliated someone? Do they even think about it?

We’re about to find out!

I’ve had many a bully in my past, suffering their attacks in silence. These days, I’m confronting my demons, some of which I’ve written about on this blog. This entry looks at four people who bullied me during my pre-teen and teenage years. What makes these fellas unique is that each of them has sent me friend requests on Facebook … friend requests that I’ve accepted without discussing these incidents with them. I’ve decided to broach the subject of what had happened here, but I’m not naming names nor will I tag the offending parties. I’m happy to allow them to have their dignity … even though they’re the same ones who tried taking it from me a long time ago.

Fifth-grade and I had just transferred to St. John Vianney/Donovan Mayotte. I managed to make one friend in class, and one day we traded musical instruments – my mouth harp for his piccolo harmonica. At recess, I was playing this instrument until I happened to walk past Bully No. 1, whom I’ll call “Mr. Slick,” due to his smooth, fast-talking, and charismatic hustle and flow. “Lemme see that,” he said, referring to the harmonica. I told him I couldn’t because it wasn’t mine to give, then he said, “Lemme see you play it then.” As soon as I placed the harmonica to my lips, WHAM! he drove his knee into my groin. As I doubled over, he took the harmonica and said, “When I ask, you give. Understand!” It wasn’t a question. “Now get the fuck outta here!” he said, before shoving me across the playground.

I transferred to Hamady in eighth-grade and became the “new guy” all over again. Flash-forward to gym class, where I’m playing basketball against Bully No. 2, whom we’ll call “Napoleon” due to his short stature and obvious insecurities. Napoleon went up for a hook shot only to have me stuff the ball. He quickly got in my face, insisting that I “fouled” him, and threatened to kick my ass if I did it again. I stuffed his weak-ass shot cleanly and he knew it; but to avoid trouble, I and the other players quit guarding his royal highness so he could make every shot he took. I hope that was enough to soothe his fractured ego.

My last instance involved two bullies for the price of one. Shit jumped off in woodshop with Bully No. 3, aka “Sleazy Rider, due to his penchant for seducing young women in his 1976 Plymouth Duster. Sleazy and I used to get along; but on that day, something inside him just snapped. Out of nowhere, he started threatening me and he started advancing toward me. He followed me out of woodshop and continued his threats, all in front of Bully No. 4, aka “Senor Caliente,” the hottest temper in school. Caliente asked me, “You gonna let him talk to you like that?” and I said something like, “I don’t want any problems.” This was enough to get Caliente’s Latin blood a’boiling, and the next thing I know, he’s chasing me down the hall. “I won’t fuckin’ hesitate to fuck you up,” he shouted, among other threats. Due to this bizarre and unfortunate series of events, I ducked out a side door and took the day off.

So … four bullies have now become four Facebook friends. Honestly, I feel like I’m not being true to myself for accepting them without discussing these issues. Doing that could be difficult, though, because most guys can’t handle being called out on their bullshit. They could say, “Get over it!” but I know they wouldn’t be so quick to forget if the situations had been reversed. Or they could be hoping I’ve forgotten about their transgressions. Or maybe they don’t remember doing these things at all. Thinking that’s the most likely scenario, I’ve put their stories up to give them the chance to show me what they’re made of. So, Mr. Slick, Napoleon, Sleazy Rider and Senor Caliente … will you be men of honor and step up and apologize?

It all depends upon one thing: how good is a bully’s memory?

Well known in Flinttown from his work with the iconic East Village Magazine, Connor Coyne brings unparalleled levels of artistry to his fictional works. High-concept and genre-bending, each of his two novels can easily be described as a cerebral tour de force … as well as highly rewarding endeavors for anyone who reads them. Take Hungry Rats, for example; while its tough and gritty language is on par with classic pulp writers such as Dashiell Hammet and Jim Thompson, Connor deftly utilizes a second-person narrative to challenges readers’ expectations. (As a result, he’s invented his own genre, “experimental noir.”)

Having only known Connor through his impressive body of work, I was pleased that he was able to step away from his typewriter – at least that’s how I picture him churning out his next masterpiece – to participate in this weekly column. As always, I highly recommend this Flintspired writer’s amazing body of work!

I began writing when I was:

“Nine, I think. When my parents got a PC in the 80s.”

What moved me to write:

“The world is full of stories and they have to be written down before they’re forgotten; at least that’s what started it out. Now that I’m older, I also see it as a necessary form of political and social action — a form of historical archive — and a syncretic way of engaging questions of culture and science.”

Right now, I am working on:

Urbantasm, a 20-year project, which is a philosophical, theological, theosophical, and geometrical examination of the physical and social decay and fertilization of Flint from the early 1900s to the present day. It is also a story about a junior high kid who becomes the antichrist and declares war on a gang of ruthless drug dealers and their army of blue ghosts.”

My work differs from others in the genre because:

“I learned writing in the tradition of the 20th century avant-garde, but I don’t buy into postmodern atavism; I think it represents an artistic dead-end – all these depressing, weird books about the futility of language and depressing realistic books about irredeemable alcoholic fathers. I write books that offer risky, problematic hope. My books are ecstatic in the sense of the world, in the possibility of human relationships, and in the immersive rhythm of language. They aren’t easy to read, but I think that they are able to be read in an ecstatic manner that has been surrendered by the bulk of literary writers today.”

I write what I do because:

“I think these are important stories to be shared and to be remembered and passed down, and contemplated and pulled apart – and because they speak to me with an urgency.”

My writing process is:

“Late nights, a lot of caffeine, and a fair amount of alcohol. Then, years of revision before anything gets to see the light of day.”

Describe your “Flintspiration:”

“There are certain cities, I believe, that have a sort of grandeur to them; the dramas their people endure have a larger-than-life scope, and they start to build archetypes around questions of human compassion, human suffering, the struggle of good and evil, the possibility of redemption, etc. We usually think of huge cities when contemplating such things, but I believe
Flint fits this model as well.

“Flint has lost half its people, but I think it is easy to forget that we have all the diversity of a city of 200,000 that drew people from all around the world to its factories: children from the South and the Atlantic Northeast, from Africa’s Gold Coast and England and Hungary and Macedonia and Russia, Mexico and Lebanon, Greece and Thailand, and dozens of other places. It’s just that we’re mostly poor now. So in one sense, Flint is the whole world. The extensive downsizing of the place and its frequently scant regard for human life, asks deadly important questions about mortality and sustainability (political, cultural, ecological). The history of the place — not only its well known automotive past, but its important civil and political rights struggles of the present day, as well as its carriage and lumber and trade connections of the past – asks important questions about the meaning of American identity. Flint is possibly the oldest inhabited place in Michigan, and much of Downtown and Carriage Town is effectively an Ojibwa burial ground.

“Objectively, there is much that is important and grand and serious and tragic and relatable and relevant about Flint. Having been raised here, I don’t know why I would commit to building a sense of another place from the ground up when I can write about Flint and bring the full weight of my personal experiences into the equation. Don’t get me wrong, I think the time I spent in Chicago and New York was essential to my growth as a writer; but I wanted to come back because the creative opportunities and material in Flint seemed more compelling and more personally important to me than anything I would have been able to squeeze out of those two cities.”

Interested in Connor’s work? Look for these titles Pages Bookstore, as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.:

Hungry Rats
Shattering Glass

Other writing outlets:
Facebook, Twitter, East Village Magazine. His work is also published in Santa Clara Review, Moria Poetry Zine, Moomers Journal of Moomers Studies, Flint Broadside, Dick Pig Review, Saturnine Detractor, and Qua.

After surviving the Infamous Strip Club Controversy of 1999, I’ll NEVER go to one of those places with my married friends again!

In dysfunctional families, children are often assigned “roles” by their parent(s), and once cast, there’s nothing kids can do to shake their “part” in these poisonous plays. Once my younger brother was born, my parents cast me in the role of Scapegoat (also known as the “Problem Child” or “Rebel”), and I was blamed for all of my family’s problems, and was routinely punished for things I did and didn’t do. But what does all this have to do with an unfortunate incident at a strip club? you might ask …

Everything!

Enter my old friend Biff, who’ss not a foolish man. He’d been to Trauma Central (aka my childhood home) enough times to witness how my parents and brother treated me, and he also saw how these experiences imprinted themselves upon me. My nervous awkwardness in social situations must have radiated some sort of “Scapegoat Vibe” that attracted angry and belligerent assholes who needed to make me the focus of their rage. Case in point, the time Biff brought me to his house for a party and his sister’s drunk, jock asshole boyfriend and four of his equally drunk, football player goons tried getting in my face, saying, “Hey Ribner! Why you being a dick?” Again, I hardly had enough time to be a dick – whatever that means – since we had just walked in the door and had said nothing to those guys. Like I said, it was the Scapegoat Vibe.

Flash forward to 1999: I was freshly divorced and Biff wanted to take me out for a couple drinks to cheer me up. As we were driving down Pierson Road, he asked me where I wanted to go and, as a total joke, I said, “Foxy’s.” Anyone who remembers that ramshackle strip club off Pierson Road would know I was joking. It was a shithole frequented by gangsters, thugs, and strippers who were so ugly, they needed to pay the customers to watch them dance. Instead of picking up on my sarcasm, Biff said we should go to a strip club, and he insisted upon a more “upscale” place on Dort Highway, a road notorious for its massage parlors and street-strolling sex workers. No sooner did I say, “I guess …” and he matted the pedal and sped us off due south.

I wish I could tell you that we had a rip-roarin’ time, but our night amounted to two former musicians way past their prime catching up on each other’s lives. We sat so far from the stage that we couldn’t tell the silicone from the cellulite, and both of us declined the repeated invitations for lap dances and even more in the VIP room. Just before we left thought, a thought suddenly popped inside my head – call it intuition or even a sinking feeling – and I realized I needed to clear something up with Biff.

“Do me a favor,” I said.

“What?” he replied.

“Promise you won’t tell Muffy (his wife) that we were here.”

“She won’t care,” he insisted.

“Just the same,” I said, “I’d rather you didn’t tell her that you were here with me. Okay?”

“You worry too much,” he said.

And so the matter was settled … until I visited Biff’s brother- and sister-in-law. They informed me that Biff confessed our little rendezvous to Muffy, who promptly went off the rails. The biggest bone of contention was whose idea it was; Biff blamed me, whereas I maintained that he was the one who pushed the issue. Knowing Muffy like I did, I could almost hear her shrieking about me “ruining her marriage,” getting louder and more hysterical as her tirade continued. At precisely the point when her voice reached a near glass-shattering crescendo, Biff would step in to calm her down, playing the part of the beleaguered guy torn between being a good husband and wanting to help an old friend. This guy’s a saint, I tell ya!

Needless to say, I promptly ceased talking to my so-called friend after this debacle, though I’m sure the little shit isn’t losing any sleep over it. He orchestrated that situation with the precision of a Swiss watch, getting out of it exactly what he wanted: revenge against his psycho-bitch wife for whatever slight she might have committed, while deftly shifting all the blame onto his cigar-chompin’, beer-swillin’, skirt-chasin’ buddy with a penchant for raunchy punk rock music … in other words, the perfect fall guy.

Well played, Biff; well played, indeed!

I hate it when people are successful. I mean really really hate it, like vehemently. Well … I used to, anyway.

These feelings started when I was young and have shadowed me like a creeping phantom my entire life. Their source: my childhood home, aka “Trauma Central.” My parents thrived on maliciously comparing me to my peers and making sure I came out the loser. I call this “Success Shaming” and take it from me, it’s one of the worse fucking things you can do to a kid.

Back then, the neighbor boy Stevie was my biggest nemesis. No matter what we were doing – basketball, baseball or fucking tiddly-winks – he always did it better than me. “Look!” my dad would bellow. “He’s making a fool out of you.” My mother was also happy to remind me that Stevie would never bring home bad grades to his mother. And more than once, her banshee-like voice shrieked, “When Stevie’s mother says ‘jump,’ he says, ‘How high, mom?’” The result: I fucking hated Stevie … and all the other “Stevies” who came after him.

The Success Shaming continued during my teenage years. Every friend who stopped by was made the shining example of whatever it was I wasn’t doing well enough. Somebody always had a better job, better clothes, and better direction in life. No matter what they were doing, it was always infinitely greater than the miserable existence I was struggling to eke out for myself. At first, I tried to best these wunderkinder; but eventually, I gave up. By my senior year, I deeply resented “success and everything associated with it.

As an adult, I was a seething volcano of dark emotion each time someone got a promotion, got married, or bought a new house. I would secretly wish they’d end up in divorce and bankruptcy. I’d nursed this rage and hatred inside me for so long that it came to define my identity. It would feed upon itself and continue to grow until I couldn’t think rationally anymore … and then I’d start having thoughts so dark and violent that I couldn’t tell anyone, not even my therapist.

But then one day, I broke the cycle.

I wish I could pinpoint whatever it was that inspired this change. At best, I can say that it’s probably a part of this journey of self discovery that’s forced me to confront the many ugly and monstrous aspects of my personality. I’ve traced this negativity to its source and it’s always Trauma Central, but the healing work is mine and mine alone to do. As a result, I now find myself wishing everyone the best in life and truly meaning it. By doing so, I’ve come to see and appreciate my own successes, too. It’s a great feeling!

One final note: four years ago at my son’s baptism, my mother compared my suit to that of my best friend and son’s godfather. She loudly criticized the fact that the jacket’s shade of black was not an exact match as that of my pants, while my friend’s suit was a perfect match. She added, “If only you could’ve seen yourself; your friend outshined you a thousand times over!” Instead of getting angry and hating on my friend’s amazing choice in menswear, I turned to my mother and said, “I’m so glad you’re here to be a part in your grandson’s baptism.”

Name-Change

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Trauma Central

What used to be 3am Thoughts is now Trauma Central. But why would I do such a thing?

Well, 3am Thoughts was not as unique as I thought. I came up with the term to describe those strange, stream-of consciousness ideas that have a penchant for bubbling up from my subconscious during the wee hours of the night. You know, “I’m having those 3am thoughts again …” Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s coined this term – after some intense research, I’ve located scads of blogs with variations of “3am Thoughts” in their names and URLs, and there’s even a website that uses the term as its address. Suddenly, my deep, unique, and mysterious idea didn’t sound so deep, unique, and mysterious anymore. So I changed it.

But why “Trauma Central,” then? And what could that possibly mean?

While those two words create an interesting nickname, there’s more to Trauma Central than just that. Trauma Central is what I call my childhood home in Flint, Michigan. Looking back, it wasn’t so much a home as it was a factory, and one that was more productive than any of the auto shops in and around Flint at that time. But we didn’t product vehicles at Trauma Central; we churned out monsters instead … ugly, maladaptive, egocentric monsters dressed in ill-fitting human skins, capable only of the most ruthless pursuit of their own grotesque self interests. Since growing up in this dysfunctional environment filled with parental narcissism and extreme sibling rivalry shaped who I am and my writing, I thought it only fitting to rename my blog in its honor. Plus, it just sounds cool. (Trauma Central; go on, say it! You know you want to.)

So welcome Trauma Central to the blogosphere. Like this page’s previous incarnation, it will continue to host to those uncensored thoughts that often visit me in the wee hours of the evening. It will also feature my weekly “Flintspired Writers” series, which as its name suggests, highlights upon a different writer from the Flint, Michigan-area each week. In addition, I plan to share my “True Tales from Trauma Central,” a dark and twisted autobiography that allows me (and you) the opportunity to dissect those things that I’ve experienced as a child/teenager in hopes of better understanding the seemingly senseless madness that I endured for decades. It’s my way of making sense of it all … and perhaps finding kindred spirits who’ve suffered similar torment.

So wipe your feet on the “Welcome” mat, come on in and have a seat as things start to get real … traumatic.

Musician, father and 37-year Flint resident, Paul Counelis casts an imposing presence amongst local writers. Part of a cabal of Genesee County horror film enthusiasts, sheer dread and terror factor significantly in his work. Take the titles of three of his 17 books – Virtues of The Horror Film, 25 Underrated Horror Films (and The Exorcist), and Voices of October – and it’s easy to see that the macabre is Paul’s chosen milieu. That said, he displays an amazing versatility for such a highly-focused expert; Flint area residents might also recognize his name from his monthly column in Flint Comix. I’m happy for the opportunity to catch up with him and pleased to present to you Paul Counelis, a Flintspired writer whose dynamic and frightful body of work are definitely worth checking out!

I began writing when I was:

“12. I won an essay contest in Star Magazine, and the topic was ‘Why the Beatles are my favorite band.’ I had my first story published in a collection of Flint student writing, somewhere around 8th grade.

What moved me to write:

“Multiple influences. The first was probably Stan Lee. I read Spider-Man nonstop and wanted to write comics. Famous Monsters was next. My mother used to read poetry to me from a big book called ‘Best Loved Poems of the American People.’ Songwriting became my main outlet in my early twenties with my band Free Will, and from there it was a natural extension to writing books, movie reviews and articles for websites and magazines. My favorite writer is Roger Ebert.”

Right now, I am working on:

“A screenplay for my first feature film, ‘A Coward’s Tail,’ a book of poems about music with the eloquent Glen Birdsall, and a collection of scary stories with my artistic son, Jason. Of course, that’s only three of the 25 projects I always have going, haha.

My work differs from others in the genre because:

“With my horror writing, my primary influences are the old Universal Monsters and I’m not a huge fan of gore … I like scary stuff. To me, it’s MUCH less interesting after the boogeyman catches someone. The chase is what matters; knowing that something supernatural is out there in the night. Also, I like things that are sacred, not necessarily lowest common denominator material. Not in a snobby way, I just like to see if there are new ways to present old themes rather than the same rehashed tropes.”

I write what I do because:

“I’m fascinated by horror and Halloween and the fantastic elements of both. I had a really memorable Halloween night with my grandparents at age 15 and I often write to recapture that mood. I also like to write for children because they are less cynical in general and more open to spooky, funny stuff.”

My writing process is:

“Varying. Sometimes I have a huge idea that needs to be ‘exorcised,’ and I can’t really focus on other things until I get it out there. I have to stay up late to write because I have eight kids and there is no such thing as making a deadline with them running around the living room. Other times, I am less inspired and have to rely on craft and hope the ideas find me as I’m writing.”

My “Flintspiration” is:

“For me, being raised in a melting pot, working class town like Flint is invaluable for my empathy, compassion and maybe even the ability to adapt. My dad was a Buick worker for decades, a hardworking man who taught me the value of not quitting. I like to prove people who think nothing good comes from Flint wrong … I’m inspired by our collective will to persevere. Flint folks are often very tough, very stubborn. There are so many facets of our city that get overlooked; we have some amazing cultural things going on every single week that would surprise people who only know what they hear about Flint.”

Interested in Paul’s work? Look for these titles on Lulu.com:

Marshall’s Gully
Virtues of The Horror Film
25 Underrated Horror Films (and The Exorcist)
Voices of October: Portraits of Modern Halloween
Anything and Everything Under the Sun (essays)
Kendall Kingsley books 1 and 2
Spook Sleuths: Legend of Old Man Gooch
Sweet City Symphony
10 Poems About My Wife
Seven Letter Poems
Riley Maine and Her Kitten Fain
11:59 and Counting: Horror Hosting in the 21st Century
Before Bedtime: Three Scary Stories For Unrest
Midnight Popcorn: Film Essays and Reviews
Live From Sunny Flint Town: Make ‘Zines Not War
Jack and the Devil (graphic novel)
Halloween Machine Omnibus” 1 and 2

Other writing outlets include:

Monster Kid Corner on Rue-Morgue.com, Halloween Machine, movie reviews on Suite101.com, Fear Finder Halloween paper, Fright Times magazine, and ShriekFreak Quarterly.

I married my wife because I thought she was the best I could do. There! I said it. Happy now?

But there was a time when I had my pick of single (and some not-so-single) women. And they were some hotties, too! Some were tall while others were short, and I had blondes, brunettes, and even a natural redhead. Those were the days … and nights! The only thing that ruined it was when some of these ladies wanted more of me than I was willing to give. And so I did what anyone who’s afraid of commitment would do: I strapped on my track shoes and ran the 50-yard dash to the next available woman.

Then one day, I got tired of running.

I became disgusted with delivering the breakup speech: “It’s not you, it’s me.” I also was sick of hurting people, and mortified when they gave voice to their pain through sobbing and angry diatribes. Selfishly, I was tired of being the only one of my friends who didn’t have someone … that same, comfortable, reliable someone that would always be by my side. The problem was, all those years of man-whoring left me out of practice for real, honest-to-goodness dating.

Now I’m not going to tell you I married the first woman who came into my life after my wild and wooly single days. I simply won’t say it … because it isn’t true.

The truth is, I met the woman who made me the happiest man in the world after a year of serious dating. I actually took the time to get to know the person on the other side of the dinner table so I could honestly assess whether she would be a good long-term emotional investment. Two years after our first date, I decided to marry my wife because:

She’s amazingly sexy and beautiful,

She’s the only one who truly loves and accepts me,

She supports me while I’m working to become a better version of myself,

She’s listens to my problems without judgement,

She supports and nurtures my dreams and me,

and she always stands by my side.

So when I say that I married this woman because I thought she was the “best that I could do,” I mean it … and I’m still absolutely certain that there’s no one better!