Give me work or give me death!

When I’m not writing or editing or doing the interior designs for Aphotic Realm Magazine, I take on graphic design jobs on the side.

I’m cheap and easy.

Some of the book covers I’ve made lately:

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There are also a few that I can’t show (because they are not publicly announced yet!)

In addition to book covers, I’ve designed some board games as well…

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All that and more stuff for bands and small businesses that I don’t feel like uploading at the moment (I’ll eventually make a Graphic Design page/portfolio on here).

That said, my schedule frees up August 1st, and I’ll be open to any commissions for book covers, merch designs, whatever — you can inquire at uglyandhorrible@gmail.com or use the contact form on this site.

Until then, I have a few premade Kindle covers for sale.

15 USD each…

If you’re interested in any of these, just contact me with which one you’d like to purchase. I will then insert your title, author name, and any other blurbs you may see fit. I also have no problem altering font type or color scheme (as long as it isn’t a crazy amount of change).

Back to work I go!

Cheers! Stay groovy!

 

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Returning To What I’ve Abandoned

Eight years ago… Eight god damn years ago… Look at that baby face.

Footage from 2010 Mortal Angst Tour — Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington

It’s almost halfway through 2018 and it has been over a year since I last picked up my bass. However, I’m going to try and change that later this year because quite honestly, I don’t feel like a whole person… and I haven’t since I put the thing down.

What prompted me to step away? Plenty of things.

Just like pursuing a writing career, it takes a lot of determination, perseverance, energy, patience, and grinding. But unlike the solitary nature of writing, you have to rely on band-mates to have the same drive, the same vision, and a cohesive schedule, because if not, the end result always ends up being lackluster.

When you and your three other band-mates are not on the same page, rehearsals, writing sessions, and live shows become more of a choir than a passion.

Other reasons?

When my father died in October of 2012 from cancer, it sent a shock wave through my world. He was young, he was a gym monkey unlike my scrawny ass; strong and tough… The immigrant kind.

dad

Deep depression, lack of focus, and absolutely no patience were the elements I brought to the storm of other problems slowly eating away at my musical career. In 2014, Kama-Mara split ways.

I received my first bass at the age of twelve or thirteen (whatever age you’re in fifth grade) and every since then, music was LIFE. I’m thirty years old now… More than half my life has been dedicated to it. But, after mi padre bit the dust, I decided to reevaluate my life and take it into a new direction — part of me thinks I walked away because my father is the one who got me into music and it hurt to know he couldn’t listen or watch me play anymore.

That said, I liked writing. I liked comic books, movies, books, stories in general.

I was scared shitless to say the least, turning my back on the only thing I ever really knew, but I figured I’d give it a go.

Here I am now. I think I’m doing “okay” so far.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I think it may be time for me to dip my toes back into the groove pool.

My question for you other writers: what other creative passion did you neglect/give up, if any at all, to focus on writing? Why?

Feel free to comment here or on the Twitter thread.

BONUS VIDEO

This was the last album we released. We recorded it just a couple months after my father’s death. To this day, when I listen to it, I can hear the catharsis in my voice — I really let the fuckin’ world have it. Screaming like a banshee can be therapeutic.

Disgust in humanity, humanity in disgust

Yesterday was a strange day.

My father-in-law is a handy-man, odd-job guy – its how he makes a living. That said, if the wife and I ever need a little extra cash, he always knows someone willing to pay to get something done. We’re going to Laughlin later this month to celebrate my wife’s thirtieth birthday and her graduation from college. So, an extra couple hundred bucks to blow on slot machines and booze for a day’s labor isn’t such a bad gig.

Well, we thought it wasn’t at the time.

What we knew: This woman’s dad died, and they were going to sell his house. They piled up the shit they didn’t want into one room and needed it taken out to the curb and then the house swept and whatever. No biggie.

When we get there, the house is fuckin’ huge. We walk in and the first thing we see is piles and piles of dead horse flies all over the living room floor. The neighborhood had horses. No biggie still. Upon walking around the house, I started noticing piles of clothes and garbage EVERYWHERE, along with makeshift beds from random pillows and couch cushions (there was only one couch and at least 4 couches worth of cushions) that, upon further inspection, were pockmarked in blood, piss, and shit.

Fun.

Did I mention the smell? That was the first impression. Yes, we turned on the A/C when we got there, but before that, this place was baking under the 110-degree sun for who knows how fucking long. Gag.

We opened the door to the room that had all the furniture and stuff they wanted moved and it was horrible. Imagine loading all the furniture, knick-knacks, clothing, etc. etc. of a three-bedroom apartment into one of the bedrooms.

Whatever. It was time to get to work.

But before we started, we looked through the cabinets of the kitchen and promptly found an aluminum pan with two used needles, a burnt spoon with some residue still on it, and your customary tinfoil.

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Uh-oh. It was going to be that kind of house.

I proceeded to poke and prod each pile of clothes/junk/whatever with a broomstick before picking it up. Fifty percent of the time, there was either an uncapped needle or a god-damn scorpion residing in the filth.

Super.

Time goes by and we’ve acclimated to the job at hand. Needles, half-straws, tinfoil, spoons, and scorpions became commonplace and we had a method of disposing/killing them when we found them. Just like at my day job at the deli, the slabs of ham, turkey, and chicken are no longer animals, they are product to be sliced, diced, and served. No strings attached. At this point, I found myself cursing the junkie bastards under my breath every other minute. Faceless scum.

We cleaned up the mess in all the rooms but the main room – the room with all the furniture – we saved that for last.

We started in the corner closest to the door. Moved boxes of random crap and a bow flex machine. It’s when we got to the center of the room – where we realized was the living quarters for a couple, due to the two mattresses, tiny table, and dirty bowls and plates – that things became different. I was tired and instead of just picking up and throwing out, I started to peruse through the junk.

Kid’s toys.

Kid’s clothes.

A notebook of poetry, most illegible, but the few pieces I read centered around the love for the writer’s daughter, Abby, and the guilt and regret of the life she was providing her. Then I found photos, rough and wrinkled, of what I could only assume was the daughter, the mother, and others.

The situation became more sad than gross at that point. I found myself applying the relics of their stay to their backstory I was constructing in my head. There was one stuffed animal on the bed, the rest were in a crate. Was that stuffed animal the girl’s favorite stuffed animal? How horrible, I thought to myself as I chucked it on the apex of the garbage pile.

Turns out, the squatters had to leave in a rush. Parts of the house were frozen in time. Microwave burritos, one bite taken out of one, left on the counter. A bowl of half-finished, now-rotted cereal left on the tiny table. A pair of kid’s shoes.

I didn’t want to put faces to the shitstorm. It was depressing. This wasn’t my first bout with seedy areas and situations.

I’ve lost both friends and enemies to the drug. It’s not easy watching someone spiral out of control with addiction, actively witnessing the deterioration of who they once were, who you knew them to be, who you loved.

I entered the house disgusted with humanity, I left having unearthed some humanity in the disgust.

There was a lot of other strange things about that house that made me feel like I was a character in a Chuck Palahniuk novel; Over thirty copies of The Watchtower, strange collections of tarot cards, pagan things, and a voodoo-like clump of human hair in a ziplocked bag accompanied by a napkin with lipstick kisses on it.

hairkiss

I’ll save those for another time, maybe it’ll prompt a short story or two. However, I must get back to work on Aphotic Realm’s Grimdark Grimoires and Issue #4: Dystopia.

MUSIC

B-horror movies and metal go together like peanut butter and jelly, and GRUESOME makes a damn fine sandwich. Cheers!

 

Overly Ambitious Asshole, Podcasts, #SIPHON Update, and Sleep.

Hello.

It has been some time since I wrote a blog post. However, I may add, for very good reasons — I’m busier than shit. The good kind of busy.

Which brings me to my first subject of being an overly ambitious asshole. Something I always tend to do is pile more and more shit on my plate, convincing myself I’ll be able to follow through until one day the realization that there are only 24 hours in a day sets in and I’ve crippled myself.

I can’t be the only one that does this?

Here are a few of those things:

APHOTIC REALM MAGAZINE #3: CLASSIFIED

So, I decided it was a good idea to do this crazy ass interior design. In theory, it worked. It was such a bad ass idea. I got way too excited. Yesterday, I clocked in at about 14 hours of work on said idea for the magazine when I realized it just isn’t gonna work. It wasn’t coming together how I hoped. That said, I could have made it work, but the issue would take three times longer to produce and would be released way after the intended date.

I swallowed my pride, decided to not waste anymore time, and went back to my original plan. No worries though, the thing is still going to be a beautiful bitch.

#SIPHON

Yeah, remember when I started a Twitter profile for Dr. Gary Phillips? How I explained how I was going to do an “interactive” game/contest to win a signed copy of both SIPHON and ITCH?

Yeah, I don’t have the time or energy for that. Sorry.

Again… I’ll swallow my pride.

BUT!

I’m still going to do a giveaway contest. However, it’ll be the run-of-the-mill “share this, retweet this, follow me” type of thing. So stay tuned for that.

Speaking of SIPHON, I’m surprised that I have yet to receive a shit review or crap reaction to it. I’m still waiting for the first one. So far, everyone has seemed to enjoy it. Even my mom liked it, but she informed me that the fact that her son wrote the book is more disturbing than the actual book itself.

That’s fair.

Speaking of speaking…

PODCASTS

I am a massive podcast consumer. I spend the first four hours of work everyday listening to podcasts. I’ve killed so many hours of my day listening to them. I listen to them when I do design work as well.

Recently, I’ve caught up/depleted my playlist of my usual podcasts I listen to and decided it was time to check out some of the podcasts produced by my peers.

LOSING THE PLOT

Leo X. Robertson invited me to be a guest on his podcast Losing the Plot and I accepted said invitation. I’ve heard of his podcast, but never got around to it until a few days ago. So far, I’ve killed about ten episodes — great stuff!

Tomorrow morning I’ll be chatting it up with him about writing, books, and hopefully punk rock.

He’ll be popping my podcast guest cherry.

MARCHESE & BULLER

I decided to give their two part “pilot” a listen. I enjoyed it. It was casual and personal and I really did feel like a fly on the wall, which is something I look for in a podcast.

I especially liked the parts where they said nice things about me and Aphotic Realm.

**wink**

By the way, guys, the only “academic” thing about me is my degree. Other than that, I’m a dirty degenerate.

**wink**

SLEEP

I haven’t got much lately.

I partied hard last weekend for my 30th birthday and it screwed by sleep schedule. I’ve been going to bed at 3ish AM and waking up at 6ish AM every day this week. No time for napping because I decided to waste so much time on an overly ambitious idea for Aphotic Realm…

Ugh.

However, today is my day off from the day job and I slept like a log until noon. So, that was good and refreshing.

Speaking of Sleep… (Look at these amazing segues)

Here is my video of the day. Excited to see them later this year! I was unable to make the trip to Portland, Oregon a few years ago and have hated myself for it ever since.

‘Dat bass-line tho…

Double Awesome, Writer Brain, #SIPHON, and Death

ANNOUNCEMENT

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who submitted to Aphotic Realm Magazine #3: CLASSIFIED. The submissions came pouring in over the last few days! You’re all awesome!

Second, I’d like to thank everyone who purchased a preorder copy of SIPHONand those of you purchased a physical copy either last night or today. You’re awesome as well!

If you submitted a story AND bought a copy, you’re double awesome!

If you missed out on being awesome, you can purchase your copy of SIPHON now!

#SIPHON

Speaking of #SIPHON, Dr. Gary Phillips has been fuckin’ busy. Like, crazy busy. He was going to stop by and tell you about his day, but he just can’t find the time. However, he will always answer any questions you may have if you send him a tweet.

Nothing is off-limits.

WRITER BRAIN: OFF

Now that the submission window is closed for CLASSIFIED, it’s time to turn off my writer brain and warm up my editor brain. This is something I’m actually looking forward to, my writer brain needs a break.

During the month of February, I’ll be reading and editing stories, and compiling and designing the interior of the magazine. Much needed work flow change. It’ll be nice staring at something other than a blank white document and its blinking cursor mocking the lack of progress I’ve made over the last hour.

That said, I “celebrated” a little too hard last night. I might be dying. I’m gonna go chug some coffee until I feel like a person again.

Here’s my video of the day:

Errands, Old People, Character Development, and Roleplaying

I have Friday and Saturday off from the day job. So, naturally, I make plans to make a dent in all my other endeavors those days. Last night, I planned to sleep in until 9ish and then get started on reading more Aphotic Realm submissions (Submissions still open), working on a story outline, and maybe even do some preliminary work on some book covers I was commissioned to do.

BUT…

Here I am, sitting at my computer, alive for no more than 30 minutes at 1 PM, just taking a sip of my first cup of coffee. Apparently my alarm wasn’t loud enough this morning.

Just got a text from the wife, I need to go run some errands… So, I’ll be back.

Hold Please.


I can’t tell you how much I loathe grocery shopping in my neighborhood. I live by a retirement community — Sun City, look it up — which means literally everyone and their grandma is out and about today. What could have taken twenty minutes to do, took over an hour. It is a game of dodging and maneuvering through a sea of shopping carts piloted by blue-hairs moving at a snail’s pace. It’s 2:23 PM now and g’damn that took forever.

Anyway…

Writer friend and blogger, William Marchese posted a blog today about making characters feel real. It was a good read, check it out HERE.

So, it got me thinking. I really want to write up my thoughts on the matter in a big, long post, but I don’t have the time. I’m hosting a Dungeons and Dragons session tonight and my house is a fuckin’ mess. I have to tweeker clean for the next few hours.

But, with that said, I had to write an article a few years ago when I was in school. I decided to write it on character development when it comes to tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder or what have you.

We were supposed to try and get it published. I never tried. So, I thought I can post it now. If you’re a writer, I suggest playing games like these. You have to live as the character, stay in character, make decisions that make sense for the character, and watch how those decisions affect the world and other characters in real time.

Enjoy!


Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and Other Tabletop Roleplaying Games: Five Tips to Optimize Your Gaming Experience

A. A. Medina
July 21, 2016

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Whether you’ve been chuckin’ your twenty-sided di for decades or you’re just about to embark on your first journey into the world of pen and paper gaming, there is one element that can make or break the experience: Roleplaying.

Now, I’m not saying to show up to the kitchen table adorned in full armor or with a cloak and dagger; but if you do, more power to you. The following five tips are extremely simple and have the ability to turn a dull campaign into one fraught with laughter, excitement, and maybe even some bonus experience points.

Prepare to be immersed.

Backstory, backstory, backstory…

So you’ve created a battle-axe wielding Half-Orc Barbarian named Krunk. He’s mean, he’s kind of green, and he is out for blood. It’s always exciting to have that one party member who starts swinging before thinking. Now, what if Krunk used to be the chief of his clan, but after losing a one-on-one battle with To’gor, a rival clansmen, Krunk had to forfeit his throne and was exiled from the village? More exciting? Yeah it is!

Ideally, you’ll have the chance to inform your Game Master of your backstory before the campaign begins and before you are introduced to the other characters in the party. This can create an air of mystery around your character, especially if Krunk isn’t so quick to talk about his past. Also, this gives the GM the opportunity to give Krunk the chance to redeem himself in the future, giving more depth to the quests.

Stay in character!

Willis Lighthammer, the holy cleric striving for justice and the eradication of evil. Should he be arguing with the necromancer in the party over a Scroll of Raise The Dead that just dropped? No! Unless Willis plans on destroying it, he has no need for it. Should Willis be pickpocketing innocent civilians in town? No! However, that is unless an element of his backstory justifies it – which is just another reason to write one!

I’m not saying speak in an Old English accent; but again, if you do, more power to you. I’m suggesting staying within the parameters of your character’s personality. Unless spontaneity is one of your character’s traits, keep it to a minimum. That’s not to say Willis Lighthammer can’t develop these traits over time, especially if he takes a liking to the rogue in the party.

Don’t Derail the Plot.

The Game Master has spent the last week or so preparing an epic quest, the layout of an abandoned castle, new enemies to encounter, and the next plot point for you and your party to discover. He has dropped hints all session long that you should check out that mysterious castle on top of the hill, but guess what, the stubborn Halfling Bard doesn’t want to go, he’d rather stay at the town’s inn and play his lute for gold. Poor Game Master.

Don’t be that Halfling Bard. However, if you are, and you decide to stay back, at least contribute to the story. Gather information from the townsfolk; maybe you’ll find a secret passage into the castle. Pay off some guards or befriend some mercenaries; maybe you can show up in the nick of time with an entourage to help your party with a difficult boss battle.

Just try not to be “that guy.”

Be Resourceful…

This tip is more of a personal preference. My Human Ranger, Koldo, is somewhat of a MacGyver in our current Dungeons and Dragons campaign. I didn’t like wasting an action pulling out my dagger anytime I wanted to melee attack after using my bow. So I started extracting the fangs out of the Dire Rats we were clearing out of the sewers for a town sheriff. I took those fangs to the town’s blacksmith and had him dip the fangs in molten steel to reinforce them before visiting a leather worker to fashion them onto a heavy leather gauntlet. The result: A Wolverine-like claw I can use to slash and stab my enemies with after firing my bow – without wasting an action to draw my dagger. I also altered a belt pouch to drop caltrops; and using a cord, grappling hook, a steel rod, and some gears, I plan to make a retractable harpoon attached to my belt. Think Batman, but cooler.

My point? Utilize your surroundings. Pick plants, skin animals, and disassemble objects. Use your imagination and create potions, armor, weapons, and gadgets. Just run your ideas by the Game Master first.

Embrace the challenge: Being overpowered is overrated.

There is usually one in every party. The guy that rolled his stats without any witnesses and miraculously ended up with the highest possible ability modifiers. Also, he is a sorcerer, but his backstory justifies his use of heavy armor and a bastard sword without receiving a penalty. More often than not, the Game Master will put the kibosh to that nonsense before it gets too ridiculous, but that kind of mentality takes a lot of fun out of the game.

It also reduces the opportunities to work as a team. Need someone to sneak around the corner behind the enemies? Let the rogue do it. Need someone to barrel through the doorway to face the monster head on? Let the Fighter, who is armored to the teeth, do it. Without the challenge, the game gets boring.  If your character is the best at everything, what’s the point of being in a party?

Let’s recap…

Five simple things to keep in mind when starting a campaign, or even begin utilizing in your current one: Create an interesting backstory, stay in character, don’t derail the plot, be resourceful, and work together to embrace the challenge. As you can tell, these tips are more for the players than the Game Masters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t utilize these tips for building their NPC’s or even suggest them to their players at the beginning of a campaign. However, if you are interested in a plethora of invaluable tips, tricks, and lessons for Game Masters and players alike, check out the YouTube channel, Dawnforged Cast. There you will find hours of entertaining and informative videos about all things tabletop.

May your crits be successful! Go forth and adventure!


I dedicate my song of the day to all you Bards out there.

 

“BEACH TIME!!!” #SIPHON

Part Two of the game.

If you missed part one, read my post from yesterday HERE.

Let’s get right into it… Dr. Gary Phillips stopped by to explain his tweet last night:

phillipstweet

I’ll give him the floor.


 

Hello.

My name is Gary Phillips. Doctor Gary Phillips. I’m the resident hematopathologist at Claybrook City Medical Center.

I’m sure no one is actually reading this, but I heard keeping a journal of some sort could be a “healthy” endeavor. I’ll give it a shot.

I haven’t been sleeping much lately. When I do, I don’t dream. At least, I don’t remember them if I do. Maybe this can help with that as well.

I started a Twitter account for “reasons”, reasons I can explain. See, I didn’t think anyone would follow me. I didn’t want anyone to follow me. Last night I posted a tweet, a tweet displayed above, and assumed would fall on deaf ears.

A cry in the vacuum of space.

A whimper in a dark chamber.

My own personal oubliette of sorts.

But that wasn’t the case, was it? A handful of you are curious as to what I mean by “The Beach!!!”. Let me explain. It all started with a woman, a girl by the name of Wendy Carter.

She’s a phlebotomist who joined my team of nobodies roughly a year ago. Blonde hair, big green eyes. A perfect, All-American figure reminiscent of those World War II era pin-up models plastered on the sides of bombers or hung up on the walls of barracks. A visual tool utilized by the soldiers to release a little steam. With enough stress and pressure, multiply that with sleep deprivation, the line between cumming and killing can start to blur. But that’s a topic for another time.

Wendy is young. Another generation young.

Young and attractive, it’s no surprise any man at any age would become infatuated with her. That is just a given. The nature of the libido. Yet, she dug deeper into me. There was a trigger, a trigger I didn’t know I had.

On her first day, I was walking her through a procedure on how to test for who the fuck cares in some jerk-off’s blood sample. The whole time she watched me, carefully, with intent, her bottom lip tucked under her two front teeth.

I could literally feel the blood in my head rush down south.

Thankfully, we were on opposite sides of the table. She was unaware of my beacon of arousal that I continuously and purposely rubbed up against the underside of the table as I locked eyes with her.

I lost focus.

I’m not even sure if I showed her the proper way to do said procedure. For all I know, she could still be doing it all wrong to this day.

Time went by and pornography didn’t cut it anymore. But if I had to make it work, it would have to star a young blonde and I had to try my damnedest to imagine it was Wendy.

Eventually, that stopped working too.

Everyday, I’d ask Wendy a question to make her ponder. When she pondered is when she’d bite her lip and gaze up at me with those murky ponds. It got so bad that I’d try and capture the image in my head and take a quick “bathroom break” before the visual escaped me.

Easy to say, I’ve fallen behind at work.

That’s when I remembered social media. All the kids are doing it. So, I started a Facebook account, found her profile, scoured her photo albums, and thankfully for me, they weren’t set to private.

My favorite photo was the seventh one in a folder she suitably named “Beach Time!!!” Wendy was making a peace sign with her fingers and biting her lower lip. She wore a white bikini; the water must’ve been cold that day. I saved that photo for last. That photo was for the final stretch.

The Big Finish.

I knew she had a cluster of freckles above her left breast. I knew she was a dog lover. I knew she had a tattoo that read “Peace & Love” with a flower on her right hip about six inches below her belly button. It was a Yellow Germini or a Gerber Daisy, I wasn’t too sure. I knew she liked beer pong, too much.

I knew more than I should.

Time stood still when I visited The Beach.

But see, she hasn’t posted a new photo in a while. I’m looking for a little variety. That’s why I started a Twitter; I hear people are more active here than on Facebook these days. I found her profile, but still no new pictures.

Will you guys do me a favor? An experiment of sorts?

Will you send me a picture of yourself biting your lower lip? I’m not entirely sure if the same “trigger” will trigger coming from anyone else, but I’d like to find out.

Until next time,

Dr. Gary Phillips


INSTRUCTIONS: Post a picture of yourself (or any picture from the internet if you’re too shy) biting your lower lip to the comments of this post on Dr. Phillip’s Twitter to create a thread.
POINTS
Posting a valid picture: 5 points | Re-Tweeting someone else’s picture: 3 points | Someone liking your picture: 1 point
These will be tallied up over the following weeks in addition to the future “games”.

Have fun.


Song of the Day

One of Gary’s favorites…

“Silence in the air, Is anybody there? Searching every sound, walking on quiet ground.”

 

A. A. MEDINA