Double Awesome, Writer Brain, #SIPHON, and Death


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

A. A. Medina
July 21, 2016


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.



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:


I’ll give him the floor.



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.
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.”


Let’s Play A Game #SIPHON


I’m home from the hell I call a day job. I have a full pot of coffee brewed, my mug spiked with CBD oil, and I’m about to dive into the pile of submissions for Aphotic Realm Magazine #3: CLASSIFIED. Submissions are still open until February 1st. Go HERE for more info.

Aphotic Ream: Classified
Aphotic Realm Magazine Issue #3: CLASSIFIED


In my last post I mentioned doing an “interactive twitter game” thing or something along the lines of that, I don’t want to go look exactly what I said, but either way… Here we go.

The “game” is going to take place over the next few weeks, until the end of February. During which, people curious enough to play along will learn a little bit about the protagonist in SIPHON, Dr. Gary Phillips, and a nice little place called Claybrook City.

These “activities” (which will require nothing more than reading something small and a push of a button or two) will accumulate points for the users who wish to participate. At the end of this “FREE STUFF” campaign, I’ll tally the points and the winner will be sent an autographed copy of both SIPHON and ITCH: A Collection of Short Stories along with some other goodies that I will eventually announce throughout.

Hopefully that sounds enticing…

Let’s kick it off then.

Super simple first step.

Follow @Claybrook_Doc on Twitter.

Go ahead. I’ll wait…

Dr. Gary Phillips will be posting the next step on his Twitter feed within the next day or so, keep an eye out.

FYI, things might get a little creepy…

To get a glimpse of Gary’s thoughts, you can listen to a song . One of many songs that influenced the writing of SIPHON. This song in particular I played over and over again during a certain chapter (for those of you who got an early sneak peak, you’ll get it). Most my influences/motivations when writing come from music. This song in general weaved itself into the character.

Song of the Day

Have fun! Thanks for reading.


Kindle Noob, Art, Free Books, Medieval Zombies & More

Kindle Noob

Remember how I said my upcoming collection of short stories, ITCH, would be free until my birthday? Yeah, well, apparently I don’t know how Kindle works. I thought you could just throw it up for free, but that isn’t the case (or at least I don’t know what I’m doing).

Either way, the Kindle version up for 99 cents and I scheduled a FREE campaign from the 19th (tomorrow) to the 24th. So, if you want to toss the 99 cents at me and get it now or wait until it’s free tomorrow, here is the link (click the cover):


However, it’s free now if you have Kindle Unlimited!

With that said, I believe I figured out a way to properly convert the Aphotic Realm Magazine issues to Kindle without messing them up or taking too much design element away from it. So look for that in the near future!

Submissions are still open for Issue #3: CLASSIFIED. Go HERE for guidelines


Just like writers, if not more, indie artists struggle to make a living off of their work. Close friend, illustrator of my comic Void & Valor, and Art Director for Aphotic Realm is selling a few pieces of his and, if you’re like me and cover your walls with sweet ass artwork, you’ll want to jump on these. One day, these pieces will be worth a lot of money because this dude will be a big-time artist… Even if I have to drag his ass there, kicking and screaming.


I believe all but #4 is still available. If you’re interested, contact him at his website: or DM him on Twitter @GunnarLarsenArt

Book Giveaway

I was informed this morning that all the signed pre-order copies of my upcoming novella SIPHON have been claimed… BUT, that is not true!


I have one more copy left. I’m going to do something special with it! I’m going to do a sort of “interactive twitter contest” this weekend. The winner will be awarded with a signed copy of SIPHON, a signed, physical (obviously) copy of ITCH, and a few more goodies.

Stay tuned for an update on that and keep an eye out for the hashtag: #Siphon

The Mortecarni

Medieval zombies… What more do you want?

For real though, I started reading Kelly Evans’ The Mortecarni last night and I’m already loving it. I didn’t get too far into it because I’m on short supply of leisure reading at this moment in time, but g’damn… I’m gonna slip in a chapter here and there over the next few weeks whenever I can.

Go pick up your copy! Again, the cover is the link:


Evans’ is currently writing the second book in the series and I got a few insider details. Shit is gettin’ cray-cray and I need to hurry the hell up and finish the first one. As soon as I’m done, I’ll have a review up!

Music Video Of The Day

Some good ‘ol rockin’ and rollin’ nuns. Groove out, get going!


A Few Things…

My last blog post was Thursday. I went four days in a row, but decided to take a break Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I find it easier to do these things right after the day job. I’ll get home, drag my feet straight to the office, and make myself be a blogger before I do anything else.

The other reason is that I had a productive weekend.

I polished up the document for my collection of short stories, ITCH, and had my wife read through it. Thank god I did — she caught a few elusive typos I seemed to missed the first eighty times I went over it.

I think it’s ready.

Today, I finished up the full 5×8 wrap for the paperback copies:


With that said, I plan to release this thing on Thursday (Jan. 18th) in both paperback and digital formats. The eBook will be FREE until my birthday on February 8th to celebrate and promote the upcoming release of SIPHON on February 2nd.

SIPHON — A Novella
Limited signed paperback pre-orders:
Digital pre-orders:
Amazon kindle:


Here is a folk song about death.



Non-Paying Markets & Paying It Forward

This is the fourth day in a row that I’m writing a blog. That means I’m keeping good on my New Year’s resolution. I also use this as a kind of “warm up” for the rest of my literary endeavors that take place throughout the day.

With that said, I have a few disclaimers before I go on to the day’s subject…

  • This is MY personal site. The opinions and views written here do not represent those of the people I work with in any way, shape, or form.
  • When I write here, it is a stream of consciousness thing — I’ll probably jump around from here to there and back.
  • I use vulgar language.
  • As a person who has dedicated the majority of their life to music, I am extremely music oriented. That said, I’ll be posting a music video or whatever at the end of every post. It’s usually what I’m listening to as I write these things. If you don’t want to listen/watch or you just don’t care, that is fine with me — I do it because I like it.

Free will. You can stop reading anytime you like. You don’t have to press play. You don’t have to do anything you’re not forced to do. And on that note, today’s subject:

Non-Paying Markets

As we are nearing the deadline for Aphotic Realm Magazine #3: CLASSIFIED, I like to go around to forums, Facebook groups, Reddit, et cetera, and post one last “Call For Submissions”.

For the most part, it’s all good and fine; we get some likes, some questions, a share here and there. But without fail, every time, I get a person who snobbishly comments, quotes our guidelines, and ridicules the fact that we are a non-paying market. We do, however, provide the accepted author with a digital copy of the publication (if it is a print publication) in return.

More times than not, I’ll look up that person and I won’t find a single piece of published work from them.



Here’s the deal: If you don’t like the fact that we cannot pay you for your submission, then don’t submit. It’s that simple. I don’t need to get private messaged, accused, and reprimanded because I own a publication in the non-paying market. I’m not stealing your story and posting it and then not paying you. The people that submit read the guidelines (most people at least) and understand the terms and agreements.

Truth be told, I’d pay if I could. We want to work our way to that point, but let me shed some light on the inner workings of Aphotic Realm.

Aphotic Realm consists of four guys and a few voluntary readers I will not name in order to keep their privacy. We all work shitty day jobs that we hate. Two of us are family men with children to support. The other two have a ton of bad habits to support.

I’ll let you figure out which two are which two…


 Any way, back to it…

We do this out of passion. We do this to contribute to a community. We have not made a single nickel of profit. We haven’t even broke even yet.

But, Adrian, why are the issues of Aphotic Realm like $12.99 and $14.99 on Amazon? That’s a bit much, isn’t it?

Yeah… It kind of is. BUT…

To give a little bit more insight our profit margins on each of those issues is less than a dollar. After print fees, distribution fees, the fee fee, the cost of a roughly 80-100 page 8×11, full-color book is a lot of money.

Sure we can cut cost by making the dimensions smaller and by making it black and white, but where is the fun in that?

Why don’t you buy product in bulk so you can charge less? Simply, no capital. Not yet, anyhoo.

When Dustin and I set out to create this thing, profit was always a welcomed idea but never the goal. The goal was to create an aesthetic, create a platform, to meet and support other authors, editors, and publishers.

And we have.

I’d say we still have a relationship with 75% of the authors we have published. We also popped a few “published cherries”, and we couldn’t be more proud to be someone’s first.

I design the interiors for the magazines. I put a ton of time and effort into it. I want it to stand out. I want each author to have a personalized “mood”, consisting of images and colors and whatever else, for their story. I want them to be proud to be in the thing, not bitter.

Dustin designs and maintains the website and makes it look beautiful and operate smooth. The amount of hours that man has spent huddled over his mouse and keyboard, constantly trying to expand and improve the thing is baffling.

Chris is buried in submissions, but he consistently reads, notes, and provides feedback for every single one of them.

Shit, Gunnar isn’t technically an editor and he reads and comments on submissions more often than not.

Unless the story is an absolute disaster of words, we will give detailed feedback and ask the author to revise and resubmit. A free session with an editor. A second chance. We want people to improve at their craft.

Time. Energy. Money.

We have two of the three. When we acquire the third, you can bet your ass we will share the wealth.

Every year, lit mags and sites start up and then crash and burn. When you read why they end up closing down, it’s almost always because they’re hemorrhaging money. It’s a noble thing to start as a paying publication right from the get-go and I give all my respect to those who have the resources to do so, but I can barely afford my fucking rent.

Until then, if you have a story and you read the guidelines and it says they don’t have a way to financially compensate you, but you’d rather get paid, then go to one of the other bazillion publications that do and try your luck. I hope you succeed. I really do. As a writer myself, I want to get paid. But, as a publisher, don’t message me your grievances or hassle me about it.

If I never “make it” as a writer or if Aphotic Realm comes crashing down around us (god forbid), I hope that everyone who has supported us makes a living doing what they love to do.  I just want people to be proud of the work they let us publish. For now, as a non-paying market, I have no qualms about Aphotic Realm being an amateur writer’s stepping stone to bigger and better things.

Paying It Forward

Our friends over at Horror-Writers.Com are having a t-shirt campaign to raise money for the America Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Go and pick one up! 100% of proceeds go to them. It’s a great cause! GO HERE


This a great idea and it has inspired us to do something like this. We (Aphotic Realm) are already discussing a few things we could do in the future to raise money for charity.

Song of the Day

Enjoy the Mad Max style music video. This young, Canadian lady’s vocals are soul-piercingly beautiful.

“We’ll find our destination, can’t tell us where to go…”

And with that… Blog of the day is done. I have more stuff to do.