Regarding Whiskey, Writing, and Life in General …

As so often happens in life, my new friend Victoria M. Patton and I crossed paths by chance.

Now, I know a lot of authors. I interact with a lot of authors. Most of them are female, since I started out in the romance genre. (That’s beginning to change, since I also write horror and fantasy. But for the time being, that’s still the norm.) And yep, when it comes to booze most of the authors I know talk about wine, or maybe mixed drinks.

But I’m Southern. I just don’t drink like that, you know? Beer n’ whiskey, baby!

So I was pleasantly surprised to hear a fellow romance author mention whiskey. I was like, WOO-HOO!!! We gotta chat, now!!! Victoria was kind enough to agree to a pleasant digital sit-down, over a couple glasses of whiskey.

Here … is that conversation!!!

WELCOME, Victoria, to! So, we’re authors! And therefore, not teetotallers. But what caught my eye was this: you don’t generally see female authors talking about whiskey. Usually, it’s rum, vodka or wine … so DO tell! What made you gravitate toward whiskey? What about that venerable beverage entices you?

Man, that is a good question. LOL. I had someone ask me if I wanted to try some Pappy Van Winkle. That did it. Of course, once you try that, you are kind of spoiled.

I’ve heard of that one, but never tried it. What is it? Rye? Bourbon? Scotch?

Pappy is buttery smooth, no burn. Bourbon. VERY expensive. I could never afford it. And hard to get. But that set in me motion to find whiskeys I could afford.

Ah! Bourbon, well … you speakin’ my language, now! Are you exclusively a bourbon drinker, or do you branch out?

I like every variation of whiskey … bourbons are my favorite and rye is my liquid of choice. I love Ryes.

I love Rye best in the summer, with its tangy flavor. What’s your favorite rye, and why? I’m gonna say Knob Creek, on my end.

Love Knob Creek. Love it. Jack Daniels has one of the best ryes … but … the best rye you will ever try is from the Banff Distillery in Banff, Canada. It is a clear rye AND NOT aged. and it is fabulous. Another rye that I love, and actually love all their whiskeys is Canadian Club.

Ah, I must research this! I have an easy time getting Canadian product where I live. I was actually introduced to rye with Jim Beam’s version, which isn’t half bad. It’s funny, I don’t like Beam’s flagship whiskey because it tastes oily to me, but I love a lot of their other products. Do you find a signifigant difference between ‘corporate’ whiskies and whiskies from smaller distilleries?

Not so much. But I think distilleries that focus on the whiskey … not the dollar … make the best whiskeys. I believe some rush the process and skimp on the ingredients.

I agree. So let’s back up a bit … what’s a ‘clear’ rye? I always thought of rye as a dark liquor. Might you explain?

Yes, when they are aged. When they are not, it is clear. I don’t know anyone else that has a clear rye other than Banff Distillery. MY GOD it is so good. I should have bought a shit ton to bring back because they have not been able to sell to the US yet. To get the color it is aged at a minimum of 2 years. You know that the oak used is what gives the whiskey the flavor. That is why so many buy Jack Daniels barrels and refurbish them to reuse.

Oh no! I did not know that. Now I’m on a mission from God to find some clear rye! So how do you drink your bourbon and rye? On the rocks? Straight up?

I like a little ice. Adding water to your scotch or whiskeys help release the aromatics and the flavors … I drink it fast enough that it doesn’t get watery. LOL too fast. I like it straight up too.

I am in the exact same camp with bourbon and rye! It just smells nicer when the ice mellows it a bit. Have you ever had a ‘rock n’ rye’? That’s 50/50 lemonade and rye, over ice. It’ll put you on the floor!

NO … but I will try it … LOL

You mentioned Canadian Club. I must confess, I haven’t developed much of a palate for Canadian whiskey. Being a native of the American South, they taste odd to me. So which Canadian whiskies do you like, and why?

I am currently drinking a Canadian Club 9 year reserve … it is great. Smooth with a hint of caramel and english toffee. My favorite canadian club is a 12 year small batch … that has a vanilla undertone and mixes very well with coke (Coke Zero for me) but it makes the coke taste like a vanilla coke … goes down way to easy.

Nice! Vanilla notes are why Wild Turkey 101 is my favorite bourbon. I have Tullamore Dew XO Caribbean in my tumbler … Irish whiskey, aged in Caribbean rum barrels. Straight up, warmed up in a coffee mug that I put in the microwave. So … how do you feel about the ‘old Irish,’ as my recently departed friend Gerry called it?

I love Irish whiskeys. Off the whiskey train … I love to Macallan scotch. That is for another discussion.

And you mentioned Coke. Yep, some whiskey purists would cry ‘foul.’ But honestly? Jack Daniels goes well with Coke. And I love Wild Turkey with Cheerwine. Cheerwine is an older precursor to Dr. Pepper, and sold primarily in the South. And YES, we are indeed moving toward Scotch! But in the meantime, do tell me about your favorite Irish whiskies!

I have had Tullamore … love that. Bushmills I like it becaue it has subtle notes not overpoweriing … I have had tons of Jameson … which I do love. I need to drink more Irish whiskeys. Rye I drink straight up … nothing added … but occasionally I want a whiskey and coke, or Vanilla Dr. Pepper.

Jameson is God’s gift to whiskey. It’s not too heavy, not too strong, and no one note is overpowering. It’s just … balanced. Have you tried Green Spot? I love that one, tastes like cloves and green apples. And I love Teeling, which tastes like watermelon with a buttery finish. So that begs the question … do you prefer fruity or spicy notes? And what finish do you prefer? Spicy, smoky, etc. …

When it comes to whiskey i prefer the vanilla, caramel and smoky flavors. The Canadian Club I am drinking now has caramel, english toffee, with nutmeg and cloves … the smell is fabulous … My husband can’t drink whiskey at all, but he said this particular one smells so good, he wishes he had a cologne with this smell. Here’s the thing for those that don’t drink whiskey and why I think they don’t drink it after one taste. When you first try a glass of whiskey, or scotch, it burns … because your tastes buds are not used to the alsohol and the pain receptors react as a fiery burn. But the more you drink whiskey you train those tastes buds to not react like that … thus the burn goes away. Once that happens, you begin to taste the notes of the whiskey …

Coffee and whiskey have this in common: people who won’t drink it still love the smell. And yes, it takes practice to calmly sip straight liquor without being overwhelmed by the burn. Only then do you taste the notes! So let’s talk Scotch. I hated it until I was thirty. I finally figured out the truth about Scotch: you get what you pay for. If it’s good, it ain’t cheap. If it’s cheap, it’s piss. So I didn’t appreciate Scotch until I hit my prime earning years and could afford the good stuff.

So I am not a huge scotch drinker … but occasionaly I will get some … unfortunately for my wallet, I prefer Macallan … and that adage you get what you pay for is so true … while a lot of the less expensive Macallan whiskeys are good, if you fork out 50 bucks for a shot, yeah … that is wonderful! My grandmother loved scotch. She would put a little water in it. I would drink it and die … but as I took more and more sips … it didn’t burn … that must have been where my love of whiskey started i just didn’t know it. Also, she used to make me hot totties when I was sick … which always had scotch in them. LOL. Not enough to get me drunk, mind you! LOL. Just a dribble to make me stop coughing and sleep. Prolly would go to jail for that now, but not in the 70’s.

Macallan 12 is around $60 American per bottle, which ain’t half bad. And yep, my granny gave me a spoonful of ‘medicine’ back in the eighties to make me sleep. Looking back? It kinda tasted like Old Crow … Sadly, my absolute FAVORITE whiskey is Johnny Walker Blue. $250 American a bottle. It’s always a birthday or Christmas present, but I love how complex it is. You put it over ice, and it tastes like dried fruit and nutmeg. Warm it up? Peat moss and smoke, very dark and earthy. Either way, I LOVE it!

My step father loved Johnny Walker.

Honestly, I don’t care for most of their product line … but the Blue Label is pure gold! So … you’re an author, as am I. Why is it, you think, that writers all have discount cards to their local liquor store? What is it about we do that makes booze such a loyal companion?

I’m not sure, but one time I talked about whiskey and writing … which is my website, go figure. And someone commented I am giving authors a bad name because I drink and write … l literally told him to fuck off. LOL … I drink whiskey because I like the taste. I write because I am no longer employable in the real world so I thought I could use my forensic chemistry degree and love of killers and make some money …

In my case, I think it’s because I’m a rather antsy person. If you look at my body of work, I clearly have adult ADD. Can’t keep me on topic for five minutes, you know? I’m like, ooh I wanna write THIS! K, now I’m done and I wanna write THAT! Booze turns down the volume in my head, you know? It helps me focus. I ain’t looking to get shit-hammered and fall down. I just wanna become someone other than my usual scatter-brained self. And yep, along the way you develop an appreciation for the art and talent that goes into crafting fine whiskies. So, to wrap up … is there anything else you would care to share with our readers?

Hm … When I write I usually only drink whiskey … I don’t get hammered, but sometimes I have several glasses … takes a lot to get me hammered, which I found out on my fiftieth birthday, LOL. But when I drink and write and I have my music on, my creativity seems to soar. I’m letting go of all the things that i might worry about. Should I say that, or should my character do this? I just seem to get into a groove and relax. I don’t drink whiskey to be cool or hip … it truly is the best drink out there. LOL. I never drink while editing. Just saying. I’m on my second glass of Canadian Club … I might need to write tonight …

It is indeed, which is why I snapped you up for an interview. You get it! And yes, as our boy Hemingway put it: ‘Write drunk and edit sober!’ THANK YOU so much for gracing my humble page today, and I wish you all the best with your writing!



Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a HUGE fan of the hard rock scene in Hampton Roads, Virginia, USA. So today it is my honor to introduce Nate Atkins, the wonderfully talented drummer of the band Divided!

WELCOME, Nate, to! Thank you so much for taking the time to appear today. Can you tell our readers where Divided is located, and how all of you got together?

We are based out of Chesapeake, Virginia. Myself, Nick Youngkins, and Russell Dotson divided after we left another band called unbound. We also had original members. Matthew Gumm, and Richard Hoffman who are no longer currently in the band that formed it with us.

I lived in Chesapeake for years.! So I gotta ask, are you working in military service? Eastern VA is a Naval region, after all. I’ve often seen military service playing hell with trying to get one’s music off the ground.

Yes, I am! I’m active duty Navy. And I have been in for 14 years.

Thank you for your service! I always ask that question, because to me it seems even more challenging than just balancing personal life with one’s music. I grew up watching half the men in my neighborhood disappearing for six months at a time! How do the other guys handle that?

It can be challenging at times but for the most part my band members have all come to understand that. You know it’s part of my job that sometimes. I have to leave but we make it work. Kudos to the boys cuz it’s definitely had it’s ups and downs. But now since I’m stationed on shore duty it’s a lot easier.

I would imagine! What are some of the musical backgrounds in the band? And what sort of influences did that bring to the music?

Nick has a big background in Deathcore, metalcore, and some thrash influences. I would say some of his biggest influences as far as bands go would be lamb of God, suicide silence, power trip, they art is murder, just to name a few. Russell Is heavily inspired by thrash music and was originally our bass player. But after our last guitarist, Matthew left russed up to the plate and took over for guitar. His biggest influences are Pantera, Megadeth, Trivium, and Slipknot. Trent is the newest member to the band as a bass player, and his influences are Motionless in White, Asking Alexandria, Black Veil Brides, Trivium, Avatar. Nate ( myself ) was heavily influenced by thrash, metalcore, deathcore, and death metal. My biggest influences as far as bands go are Dying Fetus, Infant Annihilator, Slaughtered to Prevail, I Am, Power Trip, and Municipal Waste. Currently we have a fill in vocalist. Zachary Tyler. Not sure exactly what his influences are but he is also a vocalist for another band called House Divided.

I’m listening to the singles ‘Greed’ and ‘B.T.K.’ on Spotify. I can tell this music was composed by hard-core metal fans. Stylistically, I’m reminded of one my favorite albums of all time: ‘Into the Darkness,’ by Kittie. When I lived in the area, Hampton Roads had a huge and diverse indie metal scene. Is that still the case?

Yeah, the metal scene’s not bad in the area. We have a pretty decent following ourselves and have recently started traveling outside of our area to Richmond. Which is just as equally as good as far as the scenes go. And here in another month or so we’re going down to Charlotte, North Carolina to play with our boys in the coursing. So we typically travel and don’t necessarily play just this area all the time specifically.

Nice! That’s always good to hear … and I remember going to Richmond for shows, too. Are you planning on expanding your reach over time?

Yes, we definitely intend to extend our reach and travel more frequently. We’re hoping to do a week tour maybe more sometime this year. If not, maybe next year. We did a short weekend run last summer as like a trial and we loved it and we want to do it again.

That takes some dedication. I’ve helped bands pack out after shows, usually because I was the last gal standing at two AM. I’m not sure people quite realize the insane amount of prep/cleanup that goes on even for a modest barroom show! So how do you balance all that with your personal life, your friends and family?

I’ve been super lucky when it comes to that. Ever since I was probably 15 or 16 I’ve been in a band. For at least involved in something musically, and now that my kids are older, it’s a lot easier for me to do the band thing a little more full time. Plus my fiance is super supportive and even travels with us. And is that every show. Which is awesome!

All artists eventually build an entourage after a while, I think. When I release a new book, I can always tell who the first stalwart to buy it will be. And bands are the same way. Back in the day, some of my favorites were ScarZ Within, Bully, Bullistic, and Nemesis, among others. Eventually you figure out who’s married to whom, and who hangs out with that guy and who that gal’s son-in-law is. I loved the sense of community! So is Divided recording new music anytime soon?

Yes, we are actually currently recording with Charlie Roccaforte, and hope to be finishing up our recording soon. We’ve had them recorded for quite some time now. We just have to go through and tweak some things and lay down vocals with our new vocalist whenever we announce him. Now I’m currently in a side project with Charlie myself nick ( my guitar platform divided) and Walter Stanley were called Roccaforte

Oh, Walt and Charlie I know! I was so sorry to hear about Mike. I moved away in 2011. I’m glad y’all were able to move on with your music after such a tragedy! I didn’t know Mike at all, but I bet he’s proud of all of you. So tell us a bit about Roccaforte? I’ve seen videos on YouTube and FaceBook. Juggling two bands must be a lot of work!

I definitely is but we manage it and make it happen. Roccaforte It’s just a side project that myself, Nick, Charlie and Walt have. We play older Scarz songs. Along with a few Nemesis songs. And we have some material that we have written ourselves as Roccaforte. We also have a female vocalist that we will be announcing soon. I also host Virginia Deathfest which is a pretty sizeable event.

DO tell! Where and when are said festivities? Who are some of the bands involved?

June 23, 24, and 25th at Another Round Bar and Grill in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

NICE!!! Save the date, everyone! This looks like a headbanger’s DREAM!!! So before we say goodye – and I do have one last question for you – is there something I haven’t asked that you’d like to answer?

If you’re interested in tickets follow the group page : Virginia Deathfest 2023. There’s link’s for tickets through Eventbrite 🙂

Got that, everyone? Get yer tickets NOW! So, Nate, I’ve always believed that every artist – musician, writer, visual artist, actor, etc. – has a duty to help train up the next generation. As a family man as well as a musician, I’m sure you feel the same way. So on that note, what advice would you ofter to a young/new/aspiring musician?

Never give up and practice makes perfect!

Simple yet profound! THANK you, Nate, for appearing today! I’m very grateful, and I wish you, Divided and Roccaforte all the best for the future!



Meet Silversel!!!

WELCOME, friends and rock stars! Joining us today is our VERY special guest: Ricky Saldano, the drummer for the metal band Silversel. Be sure to check the links at the end, ‘cuz lemme tell ya: Silversel just takes metal to a whole new level!!! There’s just a certain dark elegance to their music that is almost eerie.

SO . . . without any further ado, I give you RICKY SALDANO OF SILVERSEL!!!

Could you start by telling our readers who Silversel is, and how the band got together?

We are a swamp metal rock band out of the good Ol’ state of Georgia, on the southeast coast of the US. We got together about 12 years ago. Our lead Guitarist and I were in a band called Splynter out of Jacksonville We were asked to open for Molly Hatchet and our singer at the time couldn’t make the show. We had met Wally Silver at a prior engagement. We called him asked if he could do the show with us and the rest is history. Today’s line up consist of Wally Silver vocals Justin Myers lead guitar Micheal Buress rhythm guitar Daniel Durden rhythm/lead guitar Stephen Saxon bass Ricky Saldano drums

I’m listening to the song ‘All Out Rocks’ as we’re talking. What strikes me about Silversel’s music is how ‘clean’ it sounds. You can clearly hear every element of the music, in perfect balance. How does Silversel handle the songwriting process? It is more of a ‘jam session’ approach, or do the members kind of write their own riffs and then bring ’em to the table?

Typically Wally will come to the band with a riff and some lyrics and then Justin Daniel and Mikey, will take the riff and finesse it. Then Stephen and I will bring in the rhythm and the song becomes what we like to say is the next best thing, lol

I’m hearing a lot of different influences here. I’m listening to ‘Enemy’ now, which struck me as reminiscent of the 70’s wave of British Metal. What are some influences behind Silversel’s music? As I’m fond of saying, all metal-heads are the children of Black Sabbath. But who else is there?

We all come from different eras, myself I grew up on Molly Hatchet Black foot and Skynard, plus I am influenced by Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, and Alice in Chains to name a few. Justin was influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dream Theater, Trivium, and the list goes on. Wally likes Demon Hunter, Winger and Staind. Daniel digs Soil work, Death cab for Cutie, Kill Switch Engage. Stephen likes Poison, Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Mikey likes Motley Crue, Beatles, and Marshall Tucker. The list goes on and on . . .

NICE! I think having diverse influences is what makes a band special. I’m impressed by your drumming. It’s very tastefully done. It’s so easy to over-do drums in metal, and whack away at that kick drum like you’re trying to kill it. Who are some drummers that influenced you?

My biggest would be my Father Tony Saldano, he was a session drummer and Bruce Crumps back up drummer for Hatchet. Joey Jordison Erin Illjay Travis Barker Artimus Pyle The Rev and of course Neil Peart

So you kind of grew up on the music scene?

I did

Another element of Silversel’s music that stands out to me is the lead guitar. It reminds me more of Dave Gilmour’s playing than traditional metal guitar styling. It’s articulate, but a hair slower, and more heartfelt. You mentioned lineup changes. Has Silversel’s music evolved as members came and went?

I would have to say that it definitely has evolved and yes Justin is a beast on the guitar . . . He lives for it

So do you guys tour? What’s your traveling range? What sort of venues do you typically play?

Yes we tour. We currently have been in the studio recording our 4th album. We have been shooting some cool videos and we are geared up to to hit the road in March. We have played from the east coast to the west coast. In Ampi theaters to the Whiskey Agogo to club lavela to good old Furnace 41 in Jonesboro, GA, USA . . .

Wow! You guys do get around! Do you find it challenging to balance being a musician with your personal life? Whenever I’m asked that as author, I suddenly realize that I’ve forgotten the definition of the world ‘balance’ . . . again.

We have been doing it for so long it has become second nature to us so all in all we balance pretty good.

You’ll have to give me some tips! I have one more question for you, but before we go, is there a question I haven’t asked that you’d like to answer? Something you want our readers to know about Silversel?

Just that we want to thank all of our fans friends and family who support us. We also want to thank our troops, past, present, and future . . .  and most importantly,  the Big Guy Himself. That’s right! The Man Above, the One and Only God!!!!

Amen, amen, and AMEN!!! ‘Unless the Lord keep the city, the watchman awakens in vain’! So what advice do you have for young/aspiring musicians?

I would have to say play, play, play,  and play some more. No matter how many times you get knocked down, get up and keep pushing. Because in order to catch a dream, you first have to chase that dream . . .

Indeed you do. Thank you so much, Ricky, for appearing on today! I’m so grateful that you took the time to join us, and I wish Silversel all the best going forward!

Thank you and all your avid readers for having us!!!!!!!




Welcome to ‘Fatal Distractions’!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and rock stars …

Welcome to the dark, often humorous world of Fatal Distractions, featuring seven stories and one poem for your enjoyment!

While most of this book is my work, I have also assembled a small-yet-powerful pool of talent to help flesh out the project: authors Loren A. Douglas and Catalyst Jost, and poet Chris Taylor. I have never worked with a more talented crew, and I am VERY honored to have them on board!!!

So without any further ado, let’s take a peek at the stories!!!

Borrowed Time, by Virginia Wallace

“Ellie, why did you leave me? Why did you stay away? Was there another man?”

Never!” spat Elinor heatedly, suddenly wide-eyed. 

Her assertion was followed by a violent coughing fit; fortunately, she had a glass of water handy.

After the fit subsided, she took a deep breath and resumed talking.

“Do you know what it’s like to live on borrowed time, Willis?” she asked gently.

“Borrowed time?”

“Yes. It’s kind of like when you’re at a picture show, you know. But nature calls, and you duck off to the restroom. The lights in the bathroom feel garish, unreal, and you have this desperate feeling that you’re missing something important. You don’t belong in the bathroom, and you feel it in your gut. You belong in the theater, and your spell in the bathroom is just that: borrowed time. It feels unnatural, doesn’t it?”

“Why is that important?” asked Willis, raising a grizzled eyebrow.

“Because that’s how I’ve felt for seventy-eight years now: like I’m in the bathroom, when I’m supposed to be in the theater. Nearly eight decades, Willis; I’ve been trapped in seventy-eight years of borrowed time.”

“How did it start, this stretch of ‘borrowed time’?” asked Willis. “I loved you so much, Ellie. And then you were just … gone.”

“It was pretty simple,” said Elinor.

How simple?”

“I died.”

The Budsem Affair, by Virginia Wallace

And so Bubba began his trek, heading for the school with his usual shuffling gait. As he neared the building, he noticed something else written below the bold Mistress Mary’s School for Girls logo.

BDSM Club, read the smaller letters.

Budsem?” Bubba said to himself, squinting. “What the hell do that mean?”

He thought for a moment, trying to figure out what the word meant …

And then he decided that he didn’t care. All he needed was a phone, so he shrugged his shoulders and kept walking.

As he neared the building, a tall, black man with dreadlocks opened the outer door, and stepped outside.

“Howdy!” said Bubba. “You work in there?”

“Yeah, mon. I watch the desk. Wha gwaan?”


“How are you?” said the dreadlocked man, speaking more carefully this time.

“Dandy!” said Bubba. “Kin I use yer phone? My truck’s on the fritz.”

“Sure, mon. It’s on the front desk. Me be back soon, but gwaan help ya’self.”

 “Much obliged,” said Bubba, tipping his baseball cap.

The desk attendant walked away, and Bubba opened the door underneath the Mistress Mary’s sign.

He stepped inside, grateful for the dawning relief of air conditioning. The front desk was right in front of him, and—as the dreadlocked man said—there was a phone there. There was just one problem …

Someone was talking on it.

That ‘someone’ was a pretty young woman. She was dressed in black leather, and her corset was cut scandalously low upon her ample bosom.

Bubba averted his eyes. T’ain’t nice to stare, ‘specially at a young lady, his mama had often said.

So there stood Bubba, awkwardly shuffling his feet.

“He makes, like, a terrible sub!” said the young woman, holding the receiver between her cheek and bare shoulder. “He wants to be a dom, but he can’t seem to understand that he has to pay his dues first!” Her accent was distinctly Californian, which Bubba found rather annoying.

What was even more annoying was this: he didn’t have the foggiest idea what she was talking about …

Thirst, by Catalyst Jost

“Hey,” I managed to croak. The strobing golden light further revealed that the glass eye was the lens of a camera. A tiny black speaker acted as its silent neighbor; that’s when I noticed an extra kick to my voice.

“Hey, what is this?” I demanded.

I gasped out greetings and pleas toward the camera for what seemed like hours, until my lungs felt like inhaled, putrid smoke.

“You can’t fuckin’ DO this!” I shouted. “Wait ‘til I find a way out of these chains, punk! You gotta let me out sometime.”

My threats finally elicited a response …

Instantly, I regretted those threats.

The apparition stepped into my prison. It wore a black robe, which draped ominously over its hulking frame. Its shrouded face had the appearance of a pitbull. Its jowls were an envelope for what I assumed were rows of glistening white teeth, yet I could not make out any strands of saliva that would normally gleam in the light. The fur was short and had a phosphorous tint that resembled snow, or a spirit yet to have passed on.

Where normally the eyes could produce a plethora of ethereal colors of blue, gold, and green, I only saw the void. Starless, obsidian space. Jagged cracks ran down all sides of its face, almost like that of the jigsaw puzzles my dad would help with when I was little.

I could feel gravity bearing down upon me, as the pale hand of the apparition reached for me. I closed my eyes, anticipating pain …

Instead, I felt a sudden sense of freedom as the apparition un-shackled my feet and wrists. I looked up, appalled by the grinning leer of my ‘savior.’

My only greeting was the offering of a clear goblet. It was filled with a murky red liquid; its scent had an aroma of seduction, and foreshadowed mortality.


At first, I assumed the command came from the robed golem towering over me. The voice, though dominant in tone, had an artificial resonance to it.

“Maxwell, you must drink from that bowl immediately …”

The Protocols, by Virginia Wallace

It was agreed that Asus’ crew would begin by examining one of the basics: cuisine. It would be good to know if Plutonians could stomach earth’s food in the event of more invasive investigations.

After doing some cursory research, Captain Asus decided to hover the flying saucer over the American city of San Francisco. It was an impressive metropolis, which surely possessed some of the most talented chefs in the world.

After a few brief adjustments, the chief technical officer zeroed in on someone working in the kitchen of a large restaurant. After double-checking the coordinates, he teleported him aboard.

The security team stood behind the captain, armed with their stun rifles as they looked through the glass at the reassembling human. They were trained to follow the hallowed Prax/Dreezus protocols to the letter; there would be no Plutonian blood shed on their watch!

At last, the human came into view. He was wearing a white uniform and a small, matching cap.

He was also waving around a dead, gutted—and plucked—animal by its neck. In his other hand he held a meat cleaver, which he was also waving around.

“Scan that animal,” ordered Captain Asus tersely. “Find out what it is, and check it for contagions!”

“The auto-scanner says it’s a ‘duck’,” said the technical officer. “Checking for unknown pathogens now …”

The technical officer punched a few more keys while the chef slammed his duck against the window, shouting at the top of his lungs.

你在做什? 们疯? 生什事了? 我的厨房在哪里?” screamed the chef, repeatedly whacking his duck against the window as he waved his meat cleaver about. “上送我回家!!!

“Did you catch any of that?” Captain Asus asked the technical officer.

“We don’t know much about that language, I’m afraid,” said the technical officer. “I’m sorry. Also, I’m getting uncertain readings on the duck; we may need to probe it.”

“Gentlemen,” said Captain Asus, “if you’d be so kind as to relieve the gentleman of his … duck, please. And also his weapon, if it isn’t too much trouble.”

The security personnel marched grimly toward the door, as the crew chief punched the security code into the panel. The door slid open as the men lowered their stun rifles, prepared for the worst.

“Sir, if you would please just …” said the crew chief calmly.

咒你!!!” screamed the chef, flinging his duck at the crew chief.

As the crew chief stumbled backward, the chef ran past him. He looked both ways upon exiting the transport room …

And then he charged straight toward Captain Asus, holding his meat cleaver high …

Five Candles, by Virginia Wallace

Jake remembered the next few weeks only in snatches.

There were the bright lights of the hospital, and the surgical ward. And there were doctors, their faces hidden behind masks like characters from a horror film.

He only vaguely remembered the inquest. Deputy Jones was represented by the same lawyer who prosecuted his arrestees, and the same judge who signed his search warrants presided over the affair. The grand jury cleared him of any wrongdoing, as juries are wont to do when a cop gets into trouble; the last thing anyone wants is retribution from the police department.

The whole affair was a grotesque charade, a kangaroo court. After the initial inquest, the court moved on to Jake’s competency hearing.

The images jumbled together in Jake’s fevered, withdrawal-plagued brain. The whole aftermath felt like a dream; he had no drugs now to keep him focused, and no alcohol to keep him calm.

He had trouble separating the memories of his hearing from his memories of Deputy Jones’ disciplinary inquest. The only thing that stood out was a single phrase: incompetent to stand trial.

Had his testimony been that garbled? Jake could hardly remember testifying. The prosecutor’s face was a nightmarish memory; the man was a fat, ghoulish specter with a red slash across his face for a mouth. His eyes were black holes, twin abysses of darkness that radiated gleeful condemnation.

He only vaguely remembered his mother being at the hearing, wringing her hands and begging the judge for mercy. She, like the prosecutor and the doctors, also seemed a bit unreal.

When it was all over, Jake found himself alone in a cell. The walls were padded, and his cot had leather restraints at the corners. He thought that he vaguely remembered them being used a time or two, but perhaps that too was just a nightmare.

Time didn’t exist here, in this padded haven that protected the world from the criminal known as Jacob DeCarlo. One minute segued seamlessly into the next; hours did the same, and so did days and months.

The orderlies slid his trays of food through a slot in the bars. Jake ate each meal dully, three times a day. Then he would relieve himself in the stainless steel toilet. Even that one perverted guard—who always stopped to watch him going to the bathroom—ceased to bother him after a while.

Jake was simply … dead inside. A shell of a man. A walking dial tone …

A Time to Die, by Loren A. Douglas

From his back stoop, Adam watched his neighbor’s door through the broken board in the fence. Any time now

He was so sure that tonight she would exit that the hours had slipped away. Fireflies had ceased their mating rituals. Even the frogs in the swampy woods behind them had ceased their singing. Soft, rhythmic breathing through the open window told him that his wife was asleep, but it made no difference. Rose was unaware that he had left their bed long ago. To watch. To wait. In silence.

When Lily would slip out, the neighbor’s pit bull would not growl. Adam had seen to that a day ago. His neighbor had not been sober enough to notice that it was gone. He paid no attention to it but kept the dog chained in the backyard to guard his pile of junk: old cars, refrigerators, aluminum siding, and a boat. Nor would he miss his daughter. Lily, so pretty and lithe, like her namesake—and so alone.

Her mother had abandoned her teenage daughter to this unshaven and big-bellied sot during one of his drunken rages years before. For a decade, Adam and Rose, both research scientists, had heard the shouts of their uneducated neighbor, the smashing of dishes, and the throwing of furniture next door. They had pitied the young Lily who had remained behind and become the focus of her father’s abuse—which only intensified as she grew older.

But no longer. After tonight, Lily’s healthy body and ravaged mind would no longer have to endure her father. Such a pity. But what Adam would do for her tonight was out of pity. It was a kindness.

Adam heard a noise ever so slight; no, not a noise but its absence, and the weight of the loneliness he had endured pressed harder upon his heart. What he wouldn’t give to hear his wife say her name for him just one more time. To have her converse upon her deep theories of brain activity connected more to the soul than the body … or just complain about their aging golden retriever that slept all the time. Like her. He sighed to release the ache. When Rose passed, that old dog would be a short-lived companion. No, it would work. It had to.

It already had …

Find Me in the Mirror, by Virginia Wallace

The Repeating Universe Theory claims that there are infinite universes, representing endless possibilities. If you were to travel through infinite space and time, you might actually encounter another universe much like our own …

And even another you.

Amanda rose from her piano, modestly smoothing down the hem of her nightie as she eyed herself in the mirror. She walked towards it, eyeing her reflection.

She was aging well; she was forced to admit this despite her inclination to self-criticism. It seemed like a lifetime since she’d been that sad, little girl, miserably playing a piano to which she desperately wanted to take an axe.

Her mother had been gone for ten years now. Amanda took a fair amount of heat in the press for playing a show the day of her funeral, publicly ‘scorning to attend,’ as Rolling Stone magazine had put it.

But Amanda had felt nothing that even began to resemble scorn …

She felt nothing at all, and no need to pretend that she did.

Somehow, that sad little girl seemed like another entity altogether, as though her memories were borrowed, or stolen. Scarcely aware of what she was doing, Amanda Hunter placed her hand gently upon the surface of the mirror …

Rime of a Fairy, by Chris Taylor

No fairy and man may join in this land!

And he breathed out a thick rime.

My love was caught, amid this cone.

Then, my maiden so fair, frost and ice in her hair,

Stood frozen to the bone …

And THAT’S our preview, folks! On 1/14/2023, Fatal Distractions will be available on Kindle and in paperback! Order your copy TODAY!!!

Cheers! – V

(P.S. – Kind of like Santa Claus in reverse, my friends and I will be compiling a list of everyone who doesn’t order our book. And at the end of the year, we’ll be sending the Plutonians after ‘em. So yep! S’best just to order the book, and be done with it!)


‘The Beast of Bradley Downs,’ by Stephanie Douglas

It all started in her hometown.

A small town, the type of town these things happen in. These things never happen in the big city. Too many places to run to. Too many places to hide.

It starts with parents trying to scare their children, get them inside before the sun completely sets. How long had that legend been part of the town? The parents didn’t even know. No one knew where the stories actually came from in the end.

Bradley Downs was the town …

When it comes to dark fiction, Stephanie Douglas is a woman after my own heart.

From Summoned to Fright Club, Stephanie has her finger on the pulse of all things dark n’ creepy. I’d been meaning to read The Beast of Bradley Downs for a couple of years now, but I didn’t get the chance until last week, when I was recuperating from an injury.

Wow …

Just … fuckin’ wow, man!!!

I’ve always said that the best horror starts out on a deceptively normal note. Yes, you can begin a horror story in a cemetery, in the middle of the night. Those stories are often quite entertaining. But the absolute best horror opens with a ‘normal’ setting, and then slowly ramps up the tension. (See also It, my favorite horror novel.)

‘Normal’ is exactly how The Beast of Bradley Downs starts out. Karoline is a loveable high-school student, with a penchant for ‘goth’ clothing and heavy metal music. (Talk about a reason for me to love a character, now!) She’s dealing with nothing more than the usual teenage issues: school, budding love …

Then people start dying all around her.

It’s funny, even when people start dying, this book doesn’t feel like ‘horror’ quite yet. It reads almost like a mystery, or a true-crime thriller. Looking back, I honestly can’t say when the story crosses the line into outright horror. The transition is very, very subtle. All I can say is this: at the beginning of the story, Karoline is a normal teenage girl, living in a charming small town. And at the end, she’s a tormented soul, living in a waking nightmare. The two extremes intersect somewhere in the middle of the tale, but it’s difficult to say exactly where.

What makes this story so horrific is the absolute, utter inescapability of the monster. There’s no peace, no sanctuary for young Karoline. The Beast could be anywhere, and it will find her; her only choice is to run, run, and run some more. (I’m reminded of the nightmarish film Truth or Dare, starring Lucy Hale. The demon is always following …) 

The ending was fantastic, which is oh so important in horror! You can write the best story in the world, but if you falter at the finish … well, you blew it. Stephanie Douglas did not blow it! The only thing I’ll say about the ending is this, lest I accidentally drop a spoiler: there is still an air of mystery after you turn the last page. Some horror novels end like a ‘whodunit’, in which the last few pages answer every single question that the reader might have. Other horror endings leave a few lingering, unanswered questions, like the stories in Ray Bradbury’s iconic The October Country.

The Beast of Bradley Downs has a ‘Bradbury ending.’ This book ain’t a ‘whodunit’, it’s HORROR!

I cannot possibly recommend this book highly enough. It’s tense, exciting, frightening, with vividly-drawn and relatable characters.

So check it out!!! – V



‘Forgiving Liam,’ by Estelle Pettersen!!!

Estelle Pettersen has long been a favorite author of mine, from the sizzling Lessons on Seduction to the heart-melting Elizabeth

Now, there’s Forgiving Liam, the follow-up to Elizabeth. (To read my review of Elizabeth, click here: ) Elizabeth was the prequel to The Starling Sisters series, and Forgiving Liam continues its tradition of lush, engaging contemporary romance.

Rose Starling is the daughter of Elizabeth, the title heroine of the prequel novel. Her tale begins with a classic, coming-of-age trope: a seventeen-year-old girl feeling insecure about going to a dance. The story opens with a note of adolescent angst, quickly pulling the reader into Rose’s life.

Liam McAvoy is an old family friend of the Starlings, and he is a most complex character! He possesses endearing qualities, but he is also plagued by a few inner demons—not the least of which is feeling insecure about being part Aborigine, as the story is set in Australia.

Therein lies part of the charm of Estelle Pettersen’s writing. She’s an Australian author, but—like her contemporary, Jan Selbourne—she makes her work very, very readable to an American or European audience. The geography is clearly described, even down to how far apart the various towns in the story are; this keeps the reader from being confused about who’s going where. And, much as the biblical Gospels explain the oddities of Hebrew culture to non-Hebrew readers, Estelle Pettersen clarifies some of the quirks of Australian culture for her non-Australian readers.

While Forgiving Liam is a classic, Harlequin-style contemporary romance, it is a bit … darker than the sweet Elizabeth. The story arc involving Rose’s sister Jasmine is especially disturbing. Also, Liam’s personal issues are almost overwhelming at times, at one point even bringing his and Rose’s relationship to an end. Yes, you know that in a contemporary romance, the heroine and hero always end up together. That ain’t a spoiler; it’s just the truth. If they don’t end up together, then the book isn’t a romance; it’s some other kind of book with a romance in it. But the life-like struggles of Rose and Liam are so painful that one almost wonders if they might not end up together …

I almost left this part out of my review, but I feel like I need to say it. I am firm believer about being open and honest about what’s in a book. I would rather scare a reader away, than have them hate the story because they weren’t warned about certain content. Such an approach, I believe, treats both the reader and author with respect.  

So here’s the deal: Forgiving Liam is partially set during the era that the World Health Organization dubbed ‘the pandemic.’ Also, Rose Starling’s father is a politician. So given the nature of the story, there is some overtly political content. Now, mind you, it wasn’t at all distracting from the story—to me. But I am well aware that others might be more sensitive to such things. The Western world is evenly split between between two radically opposed socio-political idealogies, which—for the sake of avoiding controversy—I will simply label ‘right’ and ‘left.’

The political content of Forgiving Liam is, by and large, solidly on the ‘left’ side of the political spectrum. That’s all I’m going to say. That statement is no reflection whatsoever on my personal opinions or beliefs, so much as it is simply a ‘heads-up’ as to what’s in the book.

That having been said, Forgiving Liam is not only a worthy follow-up to Elizabeth, but it ratchets the saga up to a whole new level. I am now very, very interested in the Starling girls and their relationships, and I am eager to see how Rose’s younger sisters, Jasmine and Daisy, fare in the future!

So yep! Forgiving Liam, by Estelle Pettersen. Check it out!!!

‘Til next time! – V




Ladies and gentlemen, friends and rock stars …

It is my honor to present to you one of my absolute favorite musicians, a man whose work I have enthusiastically followed for quite some time. He was the founding member of the phenomenal heavy-metal band Scarz Within, and his new band Babylon Rising has become yet another metal powerhouse!

So, without any further ado …


WELCOME, Charlie! Anyone who’s even remotely familiar with the Hampton Roads music scene knows you’ve been fixture there for decades. Can you tell our readers how you wound up in the area, and started out on its music scene?

Great question! Well, back in December of 1993, I moved from West Babylon, New York, USA to Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. And hooked up with some people and started playing in bands. One band was Strange Flesh, and the other was AJ Nag. Then for a year I did a band called Montag. Then in 1998 was the Start of Scarz Within.

Now, Scarz I know … ‘Nothing Sacred II: The Seven’ is a staple album in my household. How did Scarz Within come together?

I love telling this story. I just got separated from my first wife, and I went to a Dokken show at the Boathouse.

OMG … I was actually AT that show!!! Small world, huh?

I know, right? This tall guy come up to me and we just started talking. He said he was a singer, and I told him I play guitar. And then he said ‘this is great! I was just talking to another guitar player and drummer. Looks like we have a band!’ So the singer Jerry Wright set up a get-together at his house. The other guitar player was Rial Eargle. The drummer was a no-show, typical.

Drummers always seem to be the wonky ones, don’t they? I’ve kinda noticed that. Weird breed, drummers …

True that. Jerry belted out some Pantera, and he had this ‘double vocal’ thing going. Dirty and clean, and sounded similar to Phil Anselmo. Rial and I had the same influences

Holy shit that’s high praise … Phil is a vocal GOD!!!

Right, this was 1997. So after the new year, we found a drummer and bassist, and called ourselves Scarred. The following year we changed it to Scarz Within. Just before that, the drummer we were trying out (sorta) came to my house for a try-out, Matt McCaully. He said ‘can I warm up first?’ We said ‘sure, go for it.’ My man warmed up to 6:00 by Dream Theater!!!!

What … whoa … DREAM THEATER?!

We were like holy shit!!!! You’re in. Yeah, no try-out needed. He accepted.

That’s like Randy Rhoads warming up with Mozart …

Yeah, like that. After that he came up with the name change. Because we all have a scar within us … There is a self-titled EP from 1999 /2000 when Scarz was a four-piece band. But that’s long gone.

Indeed! There must have been some lineup changes. I’m looking at the album jacket. ‘Nothing Sacred II: The Seven’ lists TW on vocals. He sounds more like Dio than Phil. And it also lists Will ‘Biscuit’ Bradford on drums. So how did the band evolve? Was it a struggle dealing with lineup changes?

Jerry left to pursue other things, and unfortunately he is not here with us.

Oh no! So sorry for your loss.

TW came in and showed us a tape with him singing Queensryche’s  Take Hold of the Flame. And then he did it a cappella. In my living room. He was in, of course

Holy shit … he covered Geoff Tate A CAPPELLA?!

Yes, he did. Finding a drummer was the hardest.

Wow …

Amazing. But drummers are the hardest to find. We went through several drummers before Will ‘Biscuit’ Bradford. Rial moved out of state, and then we got Sterling on guitar.

The only drummer I can think of that rivals Biscuit is Mike Portnoy. Wonky or not—and drummers always are—the percussion helped make Scarz Within truly shine!

Yes, very important part!

I see Sterling listed on the album jacket. Was it his idea or yours to use seven-string guitars? That added a whole extra layer of ‘heavy’ to the record. You can hear that brutal, lingering, open D note throughout the whole album. Adds an ominous tone to it …

That was his Idea. I bought one, and we tuned it very oddly

It makes the music stand out from the crowd. Your average listener might not be able to say why, but they could tell you that the music sounds … different.

We were tuned Dropped C#. My Idea was to tune the seventh string to the dropped C#. So on the seven strings our top four strings were G# C# G# C#. So that was my idea of tuning.

C# … my ear was off by a note!!! But yes, you can definitely hear an unusual element in the music, which is why that album is—and will always be—one of my absolute favorites!!! So … everyone knows that Babylon Rising is the official soundtrack of Crazy V’s writing operation. You guys were kind enough to lend me your music for the promo videos for my books. So can you tell us Babylon Rising’s part of your story?

So the end of Scarz within came in 2017. My Guitarist Mike Martin passed, and I lost the passion for music.

Oh no …

I stopped playing. I lost the heart. But after a year I picked it back up and joined a cover band. After awhile I had the itch for writing.

Isn’t that how it works? I was an accomplished novelist between 2004-2007, but then some things went wrong in my life. I disappeared for a long time … but at the end of the day, you do what you do because it’s who you are.

You are so right. We started come up with stuff. So I came up with the name Babylon Rising.

After New Babylon, NY?

Yes Babylon from where I grow up, and Rising from coming back to music.

LOVE it! What makes BR stand out to me is this: it’s a complete departure from your old music. Scarz had a heavy, progressive-metal feel. But there’s a … dirtier element to BR, something reminiscent of 90’s grunge. How did the band get together?

The first person I asked to play was Rob King. He was in 180Out. He helped sculpt that dirty-ness. Rob was first and he accepted instantly. We started writing Internal Madness. Then we just put a FaceBook message out looking for a singer, bassist, and drummer. Less than a week later,  Jeff Dietz and Drew Horn joined.

It sounds like that lineup was simply meant to be! I’m looking at the Babylon Rising’s album now … I gotta ask, what does O. B. S. O. L. stand for? You know, the title of the record?

OBSOLutly nothing! Jeff said I would like to name the Album OBSOL.

LOVE it!!! Totally random name for an epic record!

He said it meant nothing. I said ‘cool, let’s put dots after each letter, and let people figure it out.’

SO awesome … fuckin’ with the listeners’ heads!!! THANK you, Charlie, for gracing our page today. I so admire you for keeping on doing what you do. Life knocks you back, and often pulls you away from your art … but the true artist keeps on going, no matter what. Thank you so much for sharing your story!




‘FRACTURED’, by Eileen Troemel!!!

Eileen Troemel and I go back a ways, ever since I first read her mind-blowing novel ‘Dragon Lord’s Mate’ …

WELCOME to her new novel!!!


(This is a dark scifi romance. There is cursing and violence. Rape and torture are referred to.)

Sent to the prison planet Laken, Zulma expects to be raped and tortured. What she finds there may save her and her people.

Ordered to a crashed Dolian ship, Conasian prisoners of war Drake, Claud, Stuart, and Parker hope to survive the trek through the dangerous sleepers. The downed ship is vital. What they discover will change their future if they survive the sleepers and their own men.


“What can you tell us about this ship?”

“You found the armory,” she said. “There’s food stores.”

“Found those too,” Stuart said.

“The self-destruct,” she asked.

“What?” Drake gripped her shoulders hard.  She flinched from his hard hands but stood her ground.

“In the pilot’s area,” she said. “It’s supposed to trigger if the ship crash lands.”

“Claud,” Drake dragged her forward. “Show us.”

She stumbled but tugged the dress back into place. “You didn’t dismantle it?” She sped through the cabin towards the pilots’ cabin.

Claud reached out to grab her but she dodged him. Skidding across the floor, she opened a panel in the middle of where the two pilot seats should have been.

Pressing a button on the panel the top slid to the side.

“Fuck,” the three men behind her saw the timer showed only ninety seconds left.

She gently wiggled a pin out from under the clock ticking down second by second.

“You don’t have time,” Drake put his hands on her shoulders.

She shrugged them off. “If you want to live, don’t do that.” Scrunching down to see, she slipped the pin in a barely noticeable indentation. The clock stopped ticking down the time. Twenty-seven seconds.

“Shit,” Stuart sagged against the wall.

“How did you know how to do that,” Drake demanded suspicious of her having this knowledge as a concubine.

“The chief armor reported the self-destruct on the Prime’s last escape pod was faulty.

They built this safeguard to allow someone to stop it if need be.  “The Prime was fucking me when the chief armor gave his report,” Zulma said her tone icy and her face hard. Her eyes met his but they were flat and lifeless. “We need a wrap or tape to secure it in place. There should be some in the bathroom.”

Drake signaled Stuart to go look.  Once she secured it, she stepped away from it slowly.  The timer did not start again.





Hello, friends and rock stars! Welcome to another METAL interview!!!

I first ran across Faith in Failure’s music in the Facebook group ‘unsigned metal bands’. (That group is an absolute treasure trove!) So I checked out their music on Spotify, and WOW!!! It’s as raw as Pantera, and as polished as NightWish. Truly amazing stuff!!!

So, naturally—being the inquisitive/nosy soul that I am—I reached out to the band, and founding member Cole Kaluger was kind enough to give me an interview. So let’s all give him a big ROCKSTAR welcome, now!!!

Welcome! I see Faith in Failure is based out of Columbus, Ohio, USA. Can you tell our readers a bit about the members and their roles, and how y’all got together?

Yes we are in Columbus, OH. My name is Cole and I play guitar. Our other members are Chad (vocals), Aaron (guitar), Matt (bass), and our newest member is Nathaniel (drums). The band originally started as an idea I had back in 2014. At the time I was finishing graduate school, and I had been playing in a few bands. Mainly cover bands, but I was really wanting to either join or start a band that just did original music. Where I was living at the time I knew it would be difficult to find the right people. The area was big into country music and 80/90’s metal. I was wanting to do something more modern like my favorite bands. So I decided I’d just get a head start on things by writing music. I ended up coming up with the name Faith in Failure while hanging out with my sister one night and coming up with bad band names. I had a name, music, and the first idea for a logo after that. I looked at the potential band more as a business so I wanted to have as much done and in place as I could so I could present the band to perspective members. Eventually I had the idea of moving to Los Angeles, CA which I made the trip out there in the beginning of 2016. Saved up a bunch of money, quit my jobs, and started driving across America. After being out there for some time I was really struggling to get my feet planted as far as a job that could help keep me from being homeless, and I was starting to run out of money. I had a fork in the road type moment where I could either stay in L.A. and tough it out for the meantime, or I could head back to Ohio to regroup and try again. I made the decision to go back to Ohio. I woke up one morning in Oklahoma City to finish the trip and I called one of my best friends Matt. Him and I tried to do some cover bands over the years but they didn’t work out like we had hoped. I told him I was coming back to Columbus and I wanted him to play bass in this band. That was the official beginning of the band in my eyes. We started going online to try and find other members however we could and we spoke with a lot of people in the beginning, but they didn’t work out for one reason or another. We decided to try filling out the band with friends of mine I had in older bands which worked for a few months, but the issue was they were on the east side of Ohio on the boarders so it wasn’t easy logistically. Eventually it was back to just Matt and I. We kept at it, but eventually I met Aaron one day when he came into the guitar store I worked at. We talked for a little bit about our bands, and became friends on Facebook. I messaged him a few times over the course of a few months seeing if he was interested in filling the other guitar spot, and one day he messaged me asking if it was still open. We met up and talked. Things went well, and he offered to introduce me to a friend of his who would become our original vocalist, Sergio. Then we met our originally drummer, Nick through Sergio as well. Time went on and we wrote, recorded, did a music video, and played our first show in 2019. After that Sergio would be heading to Florida for school which we knew about. We ended up searching for a new vocalist and found Chad on Craigslist of all places. Brought him in for an audition after we hung out and it was a perfect fit. Back in the spring of this year Nick decided to step down as our drummer so the search was on. We found Nathaniel through a recommendation of a friend’s band. I went to message him and it turns out back in 2018 before Nick we were talking to Nate about potentially being our drummer hahaha. Small world. At the time he was in a few bands like most drummers tend to be and he respectfully passed. After I spoke with him this time he was stoked about it. We all hung out and had him come for two auditions. Another perfect fit.

So who plays the piano? I love that element in the music. Lends a certain elegance to it …

That would be me. It was something I had to learn while in music school as an undergrad student. It’s a beautiful instrument. I love incorporating it in our music as much as I can

Which music school did you attend? Was metal something you always wanted to play, or did that evolve over time?

I went to West Liberty University in West Virginia for undergrad. I got a bachelor’s in music for guitar from there. For graduate school I went to Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts where I got a master’s in music production. I grew up with parents who were very into music. My parents were pretty young when I was born too. They are children of the 80’s so they were into hair metal, thrash metal, my mom was also really into pop music of the time. My dad also started playing guitar as a teenager and was in a lot of bands. He was playing in bands into the early 90’s. So growing up I was always listening to stuff like Metallica, Ozzy, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Black Sabbath, Pantera, Guns N’ Roses, but also Duran Duran, Tears For Fears, for example. So I had a nice background of music growing up. The first music I discovered on my own was punk rock. I bought my first CD when I was 10 which was MXPX’s “Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo.” That morphed into finding other punk bands like NOFX, Green Day, Bad Religion, Blink-182, New Found Glory, The Offspring, The Ramones, The Misfits, etc. Going with the times I got into Nu Metal with Korn, Papa Roach, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit for example. I really grew up on the mid-late 2000’s metalcore. That’s my first love musically. Avenged Sevenfold is my hands down favorite band of all time, but I love all of the bands from that era if we are being honesty. It’s harder to find a band I don’t like.

Going through music school and learning about a lot of different music I’d say my taste has become way more eclectic

Wow! I suspected someone had formal musical training. If I had to describe Faith in Failure’s sound, it would be ‘spans the entire history of rock plus some classical’. How do your songwriting sessions play out? Does one person write and the whole band arranges, or is writing a group effort?

Hahaha thank you. I try to wear my influences on my sleeve. I’d say that’s a pretty spot on description. I always struggle to find like a word or two to describe our sound because we do so much. Nothing is off the table and we aren’t afraid to try something crazy, or buck current trends in metal. Every song is something we are very proud of and we don’t release things until we are 100% behind it. As far as song writing goes I’m the primary song writer. I typically send demos out to the guys that have all the guitar parts, drums that I had been writing with which are more for ideas since I’m not an actual drummer, and any extra things like piano, strings, and choir. Chad and Matt write all their own stuff for the songs. Nate and I as well as Nick and I before will talk about drums because I’ll send things I liked for the vibe or maybe there’s a certain part I’d like to keep. Ultimately they are drummers and I’m not so I trust them and we go with their ideas. From time to time I’ve written with Aaron on songs. Our original vocalist came to the table with 2 older songs that we worked together on, and recently we have an unreleased song that was something Chad had wrote most of, but it wasn’t finished. So we finished that song together as well.

I’ll present songs, and the guys will do their own thing with it. Once that is done we’ll add extra little touches. When we are recording we’ll sit with our producer and work on ideas to fill up the song sonically with stuff you’d notice or maybe never notice but it’s there.

I LOVE Faith in Failure’s percussion! In hard rock, it’s very easy for the drumming to just end up sounding like a machine gun. FiF’s percussion is very tastefully composed, and meshes perfectly with the other instruments and vocals. So where can our readers find a gig? Do y’all tour, or do you stay around the Columbus area?

Thank you very much. Nick was not a metal drummer when he joined. His favorite band is Rush which they are known for having crazy and unique parts/songs. So he always had ideas that I wouldn’t have had and so we’d just make things work, and it always worked well in the end. With Nate he’s a more modern prog/metal drummer so he also has a lot of cool and crazy ideas that again I wouldn’t have come up with. So we make things work. I think they both bring a really cool and different element to the band which helps not only their drumming stand out, but it helps our music stand out as well. Very fortunate to have that element from them in this band. Currently we are booking for the fall/winter of 2022-23. We played our first show with Nate back on August 20th here in Columbus at The King of Clubs. Couldn’t have asked for a better first show with him. One thing we are focused on now is getting out of state. We’ve played all over Columbus, and a lot of different places around Ohio. Covid threw a wrench into our plans previously for getting out of Ohio but that’s life sometimes. That killed a festival in Florida we were a part of which would’ve been our first out-of-state festival. Still, we were up for some of the bigger rock festivals this year, but unfortunately didn’t get on them. So we’ll be shooting for them next year too. We are looking to play in West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. So hopefully we’ll be getting out to a lot of new people soon.

Indeed! I was always a Rush fan. I also love your singer. It’s remarkable to find a singer who can balance ‘clean’ vocals with snarling and screaming, and make it all balance out. And your bass player meshes perfectly with the drummer. And the guitars … well, just DAMN!!! Is there anything else about Faith in Failure that you’d care to share with our readers?

Chad is definitely talented and one of a kind. All the vocals are him too. He nails the same stuff live which is always impressive. He’s got a super wide range which tends to surprise people. We always joke that Matt is a bassist who wants to play the bass hahaha. He’s a big fan of amazing bassists like Justin Chancellor, and Ryan Martinie. So he’s all about playing the bass to his full potential which means he comes up with killer bass parts that stand out and get compliments. I’m very thankful to have all of these guys in the band honestly. We’ve been able to put together something special and everyone is vital to our sound and success.

It’s been an honor having you on today, Cole. I’m super excited to see what the future has in store for Faith in Failure!

We’ve got more music coming out here pretty soon as well as a new music video. We’ve recently launched a full-service online merch store as well. We like to offer a lot of cool designs, and we are constantly coming up with more merch. We love to talk with fans and meet new people so you can reach out on your social media platform of choice. We always share anything people tag us in as well. We are just thankful and humbled by any and all support we get from fans and we want to connect with them however we can

Thank you so much. It’s always fun to talk and we are honored that you asked us to be a part of this!

You are MOST welcome!

So, yep … FAITH IN FAILURE, Y’ALL!!! Check ‘em out!!!


Meet Fractured!!!

HEY, y’all! I am proud to welcome Brian Smith onto my humble lil’ blog!

Brian is one of the guitar players for the Georgia-based hard-rock band Fractured. And I gotta tell ya… Fractured stomps some SERIOUS ass, now!!! I found ‘em on FaceBook, and then I toddled on over to Spotify. Next thing I knew, I was throwing up the horns and banging my heads like a damn GROUPIE!!!

SO … let’s have a chat with Brian!!!

WELCOME, Brian Smith! It’s an honor to have you on our site today. So you’re a guitar player for the Georgia-based band Fractured. Can you tell our readers about how y’all got together?

Sure. Thank you for having me. I’m one of the guitar players in fractured, Dave the other guitar player, he’s the less pretty one … haha he also does leads. Rob and I were jamming working on some of his music with another friend of ours that was a drummer … when that didn’t really work out, Rob and I wrote a couple songs, thought about who else we could call, thought about Dave, known him since 1990 1989 somewhere around there. Let’s just say a long time, but we’d never even played guitar together before. He came down and it just clicked we started having fun and ride music, and Phil came in play bass, and now we have Greg as our drummer

I won’t tell Dave you said he’s ‘less pretty’, promise! Now you have a manager, and you’re touring. How did all that come to fruition?

Just opening up for different bands that came through town, and they’d like us and talk to their ‘people’ and the ball started rolling. And don’t worry, Dave knows he’s less pretty.

Haha! So did Fractured begin by playing the bar circuit, or did y’all start out more as a ‘concert venue’ kind of band?

We played a few bars but we’ve done a lot of charity stuff for The Wounded Warriors Project. Hometown Heroes. Playing quite a few Bike rallies. That’s a lot of fun when you get to do what you love while giving back.

Indeed it is. I’m listening to your EP ‘Alive’ right now, and what blows me away is how many diverse influences I hear in the music. I mean, ALL hard-rock fans are Children of Black Sabbath. But y’all go way beyond that. Can you tell us a bit about Fractured’s songwriting process?

We just started out having fun we didn’t have any specific genre or idea where we were going to end up. But the band and guitar player that I have always listen to is Black Sabbath. They are still my favorite band. And of course the other guys have all their influences that they bring in. you know it wasn’t just Sabbath for me it was Iron Maiden it was Led Zeppelin, LA guns, Guns n’ Roses, it was Van Halen all the greats. I listen to everything and I know that was the same for everybody else in the band. One of us will come in with a riff or a song idea, but we all put in our parts on the songs. Sometimes we just bust out a riff in practice and it turns into a song. Those are the best

I am VERY impressed with the music! It’s all fairly heavy, which makes the style consistent. But I hear some blues here and there, and some southern rock … Your band page says all the members contribute to the songwriting process. How does that play out during jam sessions, when everyone’s involved? As opposed to say, Metallica, where most of the music is written by a couple of men and then handed to the band to arrange?

Well sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it ends up just being a five minute Jam that we never play again. But then there are the special times when we keep working on, something to keep working on and it turns into something we all like. We’re just all feeding off each other

So does Fractured’s music come mostly from impromptu ‘jam sessions’?

Well, Dave and I usually have a riff. Maybe two parts of a riff that we put together, that we think is cool, and then the other rewrites the riff and we get mad at each other … ha … and then the next rehearsal Dave’s done something cool with the riff, or I have and we just take it from there. Usually Phil and Rob get together right away, but Rob always comes up with a hook or something to sing while we’re playing. Dave is really good at arranging parts of the songs and moving them around or whatever. It’s seriously a group effort

Ah, the ‘almighty riff’, as Kirk Hammett put it. I gotta ask, how did you guys meet your lead singer? I LOVE that dude! He’s very ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd’.

Don’t tell Dave I said that

Don’t worry, I won’t!

I’m met Rob probably 15 years ago, through a mutual friend of mine and his that’s a great drummer. I was playing in the band with the drummer, and Rob showed up one night to help him load in his drums in and out. Told me it was a singer, didn’t think much of it at the time. But then probably six months went by and I saw him again. I actually heard him sing, and I was like WOW I’ve got to get this guy in a band singing rock and roll!!! Then ten more years went by before we actually got together

GREAT acquisition! One thing I loved about the metal scene in my hometown was the sense of community. I was just the drunk ‘fan gal’, but I often got dragged on stage to tell the crowd about my books. I loved how supportive the hard-rock world was. Have you found that to be the case in your area?

Absolutely, the rock and roll crowd—the Hard Rock people that scare the hell out of everybody when they’re walking to the venue—will be the first to lend a hand to anybody who needs help. It is definitely a close Community; there’s a lot of great rock and roll bands and people that love rock and roll in Atlanta

I agree. There are those who say hard-rock fans are scary, but honestly? They’re the best people I know. Perhaps the challenges of being musicians keep them humble. So on that note … what are some of the challenges that come with being in a band? Balancing your music with your personal life?

Yes, your personal life becomes difficult sometimes. And being in a band is like being in a relationship with four other people because they bring in their good, their bad, their problems, and  their moods. But I’ve played in quite a few bands and this band is the easiest to get along with

Would you say it’s like having a whole other family?

Yeah the crazy side of the family!

Lol … So what’s coming up on the horizon for Fractured? New album? Tour?

Yes we’ve been working on some new songs. And also talking to some people. So yes to all of that!

NICE!!! I can’t wait to hear what’s next! ‘Alive’ stomped some serious ass, now. So before we go, what advice – given your decades of experience – would you give to a new/aspiring musician?

Thanks! Yeah, I love that song. My advice would be if you’re going to play music, play it for the love of it. Because no other reason will keep you going.

Amen. Writing is the same. Thank you SO much for taking the time to represent Fractured today, Brian. I for one am very grateful for your taking the time. And I promise not to tell Dave that you said he’s less pretty. I also won’t tell the other guys that Cheri said you’re the most normal! God bless you, and I wish Fractured ALL the best in future!

Seriously, Fractured whups ass! If you like hard rock, here’s where you can find ‘em:

THANK you, Brian, for representing your band today! And here’s me wishing Fractured a bright and happy future!!!