Winter is…here (Part 1)

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The blog is hungry. “Feed me! Feed me!” it keens. My fingers are full of Bandaids.  No more blood letting. I’ll have to feed it words. Words. Words!

So what’s been happening over my winter?

A Very Outer Gods Christmas
It was a very quiet Christmas. My brother Nick and I stuck it out in the new apartment in Durham, unable to visit family this year. I did receive a very special present from a special lady who took it upon herself put together my very own framed Nyarlathotep artifact.

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Not only did she know to make something regarding the forbidden lore of the Outer Dark, she even new which of the Outer Gods was my favorite! There was only one thing to do…

Would An Amy By Any Other Name Be Just As Sweet?
hop a plane to the UK and spend New Years with this fantastical darkling fae darling of the British Isles. Ladies and gents, I give you the significant to my other, Amy Sweet!

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We’d been in contact, via the internet, for over half a year. Now we’re trying our hand at this long-distance relationship racket. I plan on bending space/time anyway. Besides, she’s pretty cool, like Morticia and Wednesday Addams in one. I mean…just look!

Amy!!!

I had a blast. I had my first stout-while-in-a-British-pub. I consumed a new episode of Sherlock, freshly plucked off the tree, while it aired on the BBC.

I had a proper British roast and Yorkshire pudding.

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Saw some old buildings.

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This door had just received an aweful fright. Poor dear.

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Long ago, I made a promise that I would not be with a woman who could not soundly thrash me at Magic…

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…luckily, she is a frighteningly formidable gamer. Seriously. I have internal damage now.

That concludes Part 1 of my winter hijinks. Stay tuned to hear how I became an Italian American vampire in the roaring ’20s, how I discovered tobacco pipes and old man sweaters, secret screenplay writing projects, secret cartoon writing projects, brain-dissecting interviews, and more!

ROYAL BANK OF CANADA: a cautionary tale

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The RBC nightmare continues…

Pull up a chair, ye sinners and saints, and listen to the whole, woeful tale…

—THE PRELUDE—
Back in May, I moved from Montreal (Canada) to Durham (USA). My Montreal bank was RBC. In preparation for the move, they helped me set up a US RBC sister account. I could transfer money from RBC US to RBC Canada. Simple enough.

My day-to-day bank here in Durham is Suntrust. When I tried, online, to transfer money from Suntrust to RBC US, I discovered RBC US has the same number of digits in their account/routing numbers as a Canadian bank. This is different than a US bank. I wasn’t able to find a way to make the transfer work, nor were the several RBC representatives I talked to. Also the US RBC has no physical locations (at least in this area), so I couldn’t even deposit cash. I’m not really sure how it functions as a US entity, except in name.

Time passes. Penalty fees mount.

I called RBC. Many times. Information in one phone call rarely matches the information I receive in the next. I asked them how to resolve this. How do I get the money (which I have) to them? I’m asking a bank to take my money. They gave me no workable solutions to get the money over the border.

Finally, I was told I can send a physical check and given an address. I mailed the check.

Time passes. Penalty fees mount.

I found out the check had been rejected and returned. I called RBC. They told me that the check was canceled on Suntrust’s end for insufficient funds. This seemed unlikely. So I drove to Suntrust to investigate. My account still had plenty of money to cover the payment and they confirmed RBC rejected the check on their end. I called RBC and received falsehoods from two people, one out of ignorance and one out of deception.

—THE IGNORANCE—
The next RBC employee told me that they received the check and the amount was credited to my account (I forget exactly how much, let’s say a $862). Oh? I said. But Suntrust just confirmed that the check was rejected. Someone from RBC even said as much earlier.

No, he said. If it were rejected, it would definitely say so on his computer. My payment went through and now I just owed $862 more on the minimum payment.

Doesn’t it seem odd, I said, that I sent a payment of $862, and, by chance, I still owed exactly as much.

There was a pause. He admited that was strange. He put me through to someone else.

—THE DECEPTION—
Another RBC employee told me that the check did arrive, but was canceled by Suntrust for insufficient funds. I said no. She said yes. I told her that I was standing in the Suntrust bank, at that moment, and they just confirmed that I have sufficient funds AND RBC was the one to reject the check.

There is a pause.

She admits that it was not due to insufficient funds and that RBC was the one to reject the check. LET’S COUNT—that’s two lies she admitted to breathing just a moment before (and these are only two that I’ve caught RBC at).

She gave me some vague category marking the check as rejected. I asked her what that means specifically. She said she did not know; checks were reviewed by someone higher up the chain. I asked if I could talk to that person. She said those people don’t communicate with customers directly. So the person I was speaking to didn’t have the information to help me, and I was not allowed to speak to the person who did.

Time passes. Penalty fees mount. Where’s our money? RBC asks me, over phone calls. I’m politely threatened with the prospect of a collection agency.

—THE WIRE TRANSFER FARCE—
I opt for a wire transfer through Suntrust. It costs me $50 a pop, but I’m desperate. RBC gives me instructions. I send the wire. It’s rejected. Costing money. I go back to Suntrust, and a helpful banker there works over the phone with RBC and manages to get the wire sent out. The funds are accepted. I’m payed up on all my back owed minimum payments.

At this point, I take out a loan so I can pay off my balance with RBC and not have to try and send money over the Canadian border anymore. I go back to Suntrust and send a final wire transfer for the remainder of my RBC balance, equivalent to $7,871.83 USD (and another $50 fee).

…you guessed it. The payment was rejected. Only this time it came back light, with only $7,165.69 returned. Where did the other $706.14 go? Suntrust calls RBC, and RBC says that the exchange rate changed drastically when they sent the money back. So, with the wire fee, I spent nearly $800 for just a chance that RBC, a bank, would accept my money. And that chance failed!

—NOW WHAT?—
So what do I do now? This has been going on since May ’13. It’s cost me many hours, much stress, lots of money (late fees, return fees, wire fees, interest, the “lost” $706, etc.). It’s severely damaged my credit—my US credit cards are all dropping my max charge amounts. This has been the bane of my year. And I’ve been willing to pay! I’ve had access to the money.

RBC keeps piling on the late fees. Is this how they make their profit? They keep sending me phone calls asking for their money—the promise of collection agencies, putting me on the defensive, like I’m the deadbeat. I try and send money to them, but they somehow thwart it at every turn. It’s like being in some abusive, manipulative relationship with an entity that just won’t let me go.

I can, with four or five mouse clicks, send money to any of my friends (across the world) via Paypal. It’s ludicrous that a financial institution can’t receive my money. Until I figure this out, I can’t send RBC any more payments. I can’t trust them not to lose several hundred dollars just like that. I can’t trust what their representatives tell me. Meanwhile, the late fees mount and my credit withers.

Anyone have any similar experiences? Anyone have any legal advice?

I’m a haunted playing card. Again.

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My dad is a magician.

That ranks up there with my favorite sentences. Some time ago, I wrote the patter for a stage routine of my dad’s and did the voice recording for the ghost. The routine has since been updated with some new effects. Here it is. Magic by Mark Doetsch. Ghost by Joshua.

Bloody Love

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VampireM&R

Here are some lovely words that have already been laid down regarding Blood & Smoke from various sources:

“Blood & Smoke is like V:tR and V:tM came together, had a revenant baby and it grew up to be a blood drinking fiend of pure awesome.”
–@AlienStoneDog, Twitter

“I’m so enthralled by this release. There’s this casual, powerful confidence to the writing that continues to wow me and drag me in. Seriously, hats off.”
–Leetsepeak

“Blood and Smoke is clever, sexy, and stylish. The tragedy is still there, in the subtext. But it’s all delivered with smooth smiles, confident strides, celebratory grotesqueness, and blood-stained cool.”
–ArcaneArts, Onyx Path forums

“I really love the energy that the writers put into this. It’s clearly a labor of love that makes reading it a joy.”
–Aiden, OP forums

“That aside, the book is gorgeous. Not just the art (which is fine), but the words are so well done. I’m only 25 pages in and I keep stopping to go ‘Wow, that was a pretty turn of phrase.’”
–BitterOldJoe, RPGnet

“The language and artwork of the book so far has so much flavour with better descriptions and different points of view that it quickens the original EVEN without using the rules. So Bailey and co for the win.

“Interestingly one of my first impressions is that there is a mechanical and narrative shift to night by night play. Not that it dissuades from the longer term but there is so much ‘juice’ in what could happen over several nights that you would hate to miss even one drop!”
–VampDT

“And, overall, the names were correct & rest of the terms properly applied. I think this is a first ever for an RPG book referring to modern Greece. I’m impressed.”
–Yo! Master, RPGnet

“I’ve been reading more. You know what? I’ve been a WoD fan since almost the beginning, and this is the first Vampire game I have seen that works for me. I want to run a game of it. I’m going to try selling my group on it when I see them. I haven’t had that experience before. I’ve pretty much stuck to the other, non-Vampire gamelines.”
–Dionysos, RPGnet

“This book remembers everything I remember about vampires.”
–Tiresias, OP forums

“‘Vampire is about sex and murder’ is a hell of a ballsy way to open a book.”
–Stephen Lea Sheppard, RPGnet

“So I’ve almost read the whole thing now, and, well, it was as I had expected: A masterpiece. Cover to cover a marvelous piece of Darkness.”
–sikker, OP forums

The Endless Night: a bloody valentine to fanged noir

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Blood&Smoke small

You’re not human tonight… Maybe I never was or ever will be… Maybe we all get like this in the cold half-lit world where always the wrong thing happens and never the right. …you’re not human tonight.

That dripping, noir morsel is from Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister.

Back in the mid 90s, a sixteen-year-old me opened up Vampire: the Masquerade. I’ve never been the same. That’s the short-hand version. Today, Blood & Smoke: the Strix Chronicle was released. I’ve written for White Wolf (and Onyx Path) before. I wrote a novel, a short story, and a little game writing on the side. But this book is the thing that tickles that teenage fan boy rattling my ribcage.

I wrote the vampire clan chapter and the “All Night Society Chapter.”

This book is an overhaul of the Vampire: the Requiem game. Rose Bailey, the developer, gave the book the most focused and relentless vision of any group creative project I’ve ever worked on. I’m a writer who benefits from an editor who works me. She worked me, and I’m proud of the result.

One of the things that Rose did with the line (and that I felt very comfortable diving into) was dousing it all in Chandleresque noir. And if you need a little foreplay to get in the mood, I have just the thing.

Howzabout a teaser sample, loveling? Here’s a little micro-ficiton for each vampire clan.

Something dead approaches…

Daeva: the ones you die for

He warns you. You’re going to do it anyway. You both know that. Eyes like TV ads that enslave you to debt. Voice like the fast food jingle talking you into suicide by tiny bites. The wanting. Every happiness you already have turns to bile. You smile. “Yes,” you say. “More,” you say. “Anything.”

Gangrel: the ones you can’t kill

Wasn’t the howling. Weren’t the claws or magnesium eyes or the lizard brain keening, “Run, run, run!” Was the change. Like them trashy drive-in horrors, only on rewind. Monstrous bulk shrinking — snout flattening — fangs dulling down to pearls — fur receding to a naked obscenity. The smiling little girl walking towards you on filthy feet. That’s what did it. Ten thousand beasts pressing out on her belly like it’s a theatre curtain on opening night. That’s what emptied your bowels and sanity.

Mekhet: the ones you don’t see

That shit-eating grin. The shit-heel prick. How’d he get into your game? “Not playing the cards; I’m playing you,” he croons. He’s not wearing shades, but you can’t see his eyes. Chuckle. “Always wearing shade,” he says. Did you talk out loud? The fucker is playing the cards, because you just did a bottom deal, a triple lift, and two moves that ain’t got names. You know his hand. He’s already lost. Bastard’s not even looking at his cards. He knows. He doesn’t say, “Fold.” Says something else. Says your secret. The thing no one else knows. The thing you sit up at night praying no one ever finds out. The table flips. Loud noises. Your poker buddies beat you bloody. Through it all, you see his grin. He just fades away, and the last thing floating in the tobacco smoke is that grin.

Nosferatu: the ones you fear

“Shhh.” The voice behind you sounds like a squeezed handful of grave worms. It tells you that it will follow you home. It tells you that if you can make it to your front door, by the long path or the short, without turning around or nary a peep, it won’t kill you. When did you lose your shoes? The pavement turns to tongue meat, tasting your bleeding soles with every step.

Ventrue: the ones you can’t deny

“Let’s make this interesting,” she says. She tells you all the heinous things you are about to do. You laugh in her face. Ridiculous. Then, one by one, all of your limbs betray you. You see everything. You see it all through the socket windows of your Judas body. You try, and fail, to scream through the frozen smile fracturing your face.

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Speak the Devil’s name on Twitter, and he shall appear…

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Power of Christ Compels You

I Eat Raven Brains

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LickShadow

Raven brains and lunch boxes, that’s what you’ll get in my story “The Mulligan” featured  in The Booked. Anthology, brought to you by those wicked lit-jockeys over at The Booked. Podcast. It’s a motley collection of authors doing untoward things with words. Here’s a little audio taste of my story:

Have a taste for more? Head to store at http://www.bookedpodcast.com/ (and get 50% off with the code: LR50). Read some twisted tales and join the October-long discussion.

Over the summer, I participated at the anthology’s release party, where I signed books, and read a new story, “Alas.” Give a listen to the Booked Live Event.

Booked

GenCon and the Siblings Three

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Motivational Growth

 

It’s that time of year. Once again, I ready for the Valhalla of geekery that is known as GenCon. My brother and I go most every year, but this year’s a little different. This year, a film that our sister is in (Motivational Growthwill be showing at the convention (click above picture for event details). And now my sister is very suddenly visiting her first GenCon. It’s her first time…and she’ll be on a QnA panel! How did my little sister get on a QnA panel at GenCon before me? What a strange world…

Are you ready? Is GenCon ready? Because the Doetsches are showing up in force. For the first time ever, we siblings three will be gathered, at the same time, in the same convention. THE EARTH MIGHT SHATTER! That’s right! See GenCon as it was always meant to be seen: In 3-Doetsch!!!

We siblings three...

Empty Spaces in the Dino Saddle

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dinoride

My thoughts this week have been a roiling, burning, churn-churn-churn. All frayed fibers and caffeine burn. I have absolutely no idea how to express myself to the right people (and I make a living expressing). I didn’t sleep a minute of Sunday night. More than one somebody I know has recently found out they’re not long for this world, and one has already passed (far too young). More post-it reminders on the mortality fridge saying, “Live! Live! Live” and “Do! Do! Do!” and “Say! Say! Say!” My problems are tiny by comparison. And it seems like obligation eventually swallows everyone in life. Comfortable oblivions. I keep bouncing around on my silly little adventures, and one by one, another someone fades into “real life.” I can’t rightly hold it against them, but it gets a lonelier riding dinosaurs.

More coherent, useful posts (on life developments, moving, travel, and upcoming publishing/reading events) coming soon. Stay tuned. Tonight, I’m off across the Ocean in search of vikings.

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