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

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.


Dear Oprah, Dear Squash, Please Make Me Rich

Dear Oprah,

I’m writing you today so you can make me rich.

By endorsing my novel, Fire Always Burns Uphill, you will change my life, my dog’s life, my kids’ lives, and you’ll ease my wife’s growing trepidation over that pesky “for better or for worse” clause in our wedding vows.

You see, Oprah, I’d make a very, very good rich person.  I’d pay off the mortgages of family, friends, and random people I meet in the produce section of grocery stores.  I’d give money to the homeless, take care of baby seals, and plug the ozone hole.  And while it’s true that I’d continue to dazzle Twitter and Facebook with my wicked humor and word salads about science fiction, I’d never forget where I came from (fifth floor, Huntsville Hospital).

All it takes is a few short words from you – on your show – on national TV.  That’ll turn my novel (a romantic adventure with some great sex) from the literary equivalent of baloney-on-white into a smoked haddock entree with a Caposaldo Merlot Moscato.  Now, you may not give a hoot about me, gourmet recipes I plucked off the Internet, or my musings about Doctor Who and Star Trek, but think about it: What if you were the person trying to find some tender yellow squash?  What if I picked you as the person whose house I’d pay off?  Wouldn’t that be the bee’s knees?

You see, I’d never flaunt my wealth.  Hell, I wouldn’t even move, although I would get that broken eye on the stove fixed.  All I’d do is pay off the house, sock away enough for the kids to go to college, and offer up spare cash to the hungry, needy, and produce-challenged.

Sure, I’d still blog about what a bad show Space: 1999 was, or what a good show Firefly is.  And, yeah, I’d occasionally get all misty-eyed about Dungeons & Dragons, but those are incidentals.  You see, I’m an INFP stuck in a career crawling with ENTJs.  Do you know what INFPs do for a living?  They become cloistered monks or nineteenth century poets.  Do you know what happens to INFPs who shun their true nature and go into aerospace engineering like I did?  They come home with black eyes and “kick me” signs taped to their back (well, not really, but it feels like it).

So, Oprah, I urge you: Endorse my book, make me rich.  Let me have the free time to buy summer squash (see picture above) and have you over for some good ol’ ’Southern vittles.  Help me avoid the cyber-wedgies I get every day from working with people who’d rather upgrade their Windows software than have a conversation with me.  Oprah, I’m beggin’ ya.

Peace and hair grease,



Copyright © 2012 Alan Keith Parker, All Rights Reserved.  Inspired by a blogging prompt from the WordPress.com’s @Freshly_Pressed Twitter feed.