A few weeks ago many of us fell in love as the story broke of a free-spirited little New Zealand octopus named Inky, who made his way out his aquarium, ambled across the floor of the research lab, and snaked into a small drain pipe that led to his ancestral home in the Pacific Ocean. Many of us, smitten by a cephalopod of such serious purpose, wonder about his whereabouts, his healthcare, his forwarding address.

Less than a week ago I was talking to an overbearing acquaintance about my latest novel, and mentioned that the book’s primary antagonist is a savage nightmare with tentacles like those of octopi. The acquaintance, concerned by my lack of fundamental biology and spelling, jabbed a finger in midair.

“You couldn’t be more wrong,” he said. “An octopus has arms, not tentacles. And the plural of octopus is octopuses, not octopi.”

He huffed, stomping off.

I puckered my lips, pondered this. Since he was probably correct, I decided that, like a good protagonist, I had to take action. Since Jack Parker and I are the gods of our mythical world of Newtonia, I have decided to create octopi in its oceans. And you know what our octopi possess? Tentacles.

That’s the beauty of being a guy who tells lies for entertainment: I can do whatever the hell I want. Just like Inky.



Wanna read more about Newtonia? Read MADNESS RISING, available for Kindle.

Copyright (c) 2016 Keith Parker


20130728-181202.jpgI just got back from the beach, where I listened to the audio version of Stephen King’s The Shining. And while I was listening I realized that I had never seen Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of King’s classic horror novel, at least not from start to finish. The movie is rather embedded in our collective conscious, and many of its scenes (“Here’s Johnny!”) are so ubiquitous as to be fodder for satire. But the movie was new to me so I downloaded it from iTunes and watched it over a two-day period last week. The movie immediately struck me as quintessential Kubrick and a very thought-provoking horror movie.

During my self-imposed intermission I decided to look it up to see if it was considered as complex as it seemed. I was awed by the extensive analysis that’s been done over the years.

So, what does this have to do with Doctor Who? Well, when I asked my friend Jennifer Garlen about it, she gave me some great insight. Jennifer is a subject matter expert on classic movies and has a phenomenal blog at Virtual Virago. During our exchange of Facebook messages about the The Shining she mentioned she loved Doctor Who‘s allusion to the film. And at first I couldn’t think of which episode she was referring to. I finally had to ask my son — who has every episode of New Who memorized — to realize that the episode was “The God Complex.” I’m sure you’ve seen it if you’re a DW fan. But this set my mind off on a tangent. What exactly am I doing, writing about Doctor Who? I don’t review episodes. I don’t pan the show. I haven’t built a wiki or deconstructed “The Name of the Doctor” (yet). But what I have done is use DW as a basis for self-discovery. While there are as many ways to do this as there are people on planet Earth, this approach seems to work for me.

Like the psychological horror of Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick, the intellectual fantasy and science fiction of DW allow me to become introspective, learning a little bit about myself as I watch. And I think this is good for us. In “The God Complex” characters are subjected to hotel rooms that reveal your deepest fear. Could you handle that? Could you handle a room full of spiders, snakes, clowns or dentists? I’m not sure I could, but we all have an amazing ability to face our fears when we need to.

For a family-oriented program Doctor Who has an amazing capacity to scare the living hell out of us (“Are you my mummy?”). And I think this is a component of the show’s strength; but there’s more to it. Doctor Who is spectacularly good at optimistic endings, and this makes the frights bearable, knowing that everything will be okay. This is why I love genre and classic fiction. Too often these days we’re saddled with pseudo-intellectual stories that are ambiguous or inconclusive. If I wanted that I’d simply sit back and watch real life unfold. But for entertainment give me SFFH any day of the week!

After all, any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental. :)

Until next time,
Years truly,

Copyright (c) 2013 Keith Parker

Don’t Be a Dumpster Fire

ImageYou don’t write to get rich.  You write because writing is a fundamental part of who you are.  Your odds of becoming Stephen King or Sue Grafton are longer than your odds of winning a multi-state lottery.

The basic idea behind any form of art is to express emotions.  You’ll notice I write a lot about time travel, science fiction, horror, and love.  I write about love and romance because I have a sentimental streak.  I write about horror because of panic attacks, and people are drawn to things that scare them (counterintuitive, but true).  I write about science fiction because I grew up watching the original Star Trek, and it’s like comfort food for me.  And I love time travel for some reason I can’t really explain.  Maybe I have a lot of regrets and want to right some wrongs.  Who the hell knows?  Or maybe I’d just like swap one-liners with Groucho Marx.  “After two days in the hospital I took a turn for the nurse.”

I also dish out writing advice.  You know where I get that wisdom?  Failure … sometimes epic.  Or, as we say on Twitter, #dumpsterfire fiction.  If you try to imitate bestsellers, your novel is going to be a disaster, a dumpster fire in kids’ lingo today.  And you’ll feel like one, too, after spending all that time and effort to produce something no one wants to read.  Believe me, I’ve been there.

Caveat: This does not mean you set your sights low.  No.  Aim to be the very best writer you can  be.  Every sentence you write should be exactly what you want to read.  Anything less and you’re being dishonest.

But if you’re trying to become Dan Brown or Suzanne Collins, forget it.  We already have a Brown and a Collins and a King and a Grafton.  Mimicking them is not going make you rich and famous.

If you want to get rich you need to be flipping houses and bootlegging whiskey.

Writers are artists, and we get paid the same.  Would you like fries with that?

Peace, from Keith

Copyright © 2013

Depression and Fire

Depression burns.  Have you ever looked at somebody was who was zoning out?  Seen a friend or relative completely out of touch?  Been around someone who just wasn’t quite “there,” quite “with it,” or quite lucid?  Ever feel like you’re dealing with somebody in the twilight of his day, and you’ve seen this for a week, maybe two, maybe longer?

Maybe that someone has been you.  Have you sat alone in a darkened room, your face all angles and facets, rigid lines replacing the dimples where your smile should go?


Depression stuns.  It burns.  It rattles the mind.  It takes the very thing that makes you you and turns it into a feral swamp.  Depression makes you empty, dry, fatigued, angry, and nervous.  Your thoughts are scattered around your brain like seeds on rocky earth.  You have no focus, no energy, and no reliable or rational thoughts.  Strangely enough, you’re probably not sad.  But you do hurt.

It hurts bad, doesn’t it?

Depression and its in-bred cousin, anxiety, take their toll on you physically, causing joint pain, muscle aches, frightening chest tightness, dull headaches, throbbing behind the eyes, sleep loss, and makes your ears feel like they’re stopped up.

The author William Styron said depression was the worst possible name for this disorder.  Paraphrasing him, “You’re not depressed, you’re mad.”

Depression is a madness

The novel I wrote back in 1999 addresses these issues through the protagonist, Dylan Delaney, and his would-be lover, Zelda Wilcox. I drew upon personal experience to help flesh out Dylan’s character so my readers might gain greater insight into the day-to-day agony of this disease.  While the novel is no longer available in print, I have published it for the Kindle.  And it is available here –> Fire Always Burns Uphill <– for only 99 cents.

If you’re curious about the plot, it’s an adventure and a love story

with sex

and quite a bit of humor, set against the backdrop of a mountain canyon.  I’ve also had curious reactions to the two main characters; men seem to prefer Zelda, while women seem to hate her.  I’d be curious to hear your reaction.

But more importantly, the novel is my attempt to socialize the anguish of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and panic attacks.  If I’m able to convince just one person that these illnesses are not character flaws, then the novel has been a success.  Millions of people suffer; none of them is not worthless, lazy, cowardly, faithless, or weird.

The stigma of mental illness haunts all of us, and the results can tear family and friends apart.  A word of advice before I let you go today:

  • First, if you know someone suffering, get medical attention.
  • Second, do not ever tell him or her to “snap out of it” or “chill out.”  Doing so is the moral equivalent of offering a diabetic a milkshake.

Thanks for listening.  Back to science fiction, fantasy and humor next time, I promise.

Until then, peace be with you.