Friday, November 7, 2014

Depression, Writing, and Max Hollingsworth.

Depression, Writing, and Max Hollingsworth

I've been told that a lot of great artists suffered from depression. Robert E. Howard. Ernest Hemmingway. Vincent Van Gogh. Robin Williams. I don't purport to be anywhere near their level of genius, but I can say I understand what it's like to suffer from depression. It's like a stalking, shadowy ghost, always there ready to sink it's chilling, insubstantial claws in me. It's always there, even when I'm happy...there is always that lingering thought in the back of my mind of when the next cloud will come and block out the light. This is every single day.

I've also been told that many artists are inspired by their depression. Well, good for them. For me, it's always been an obstacle. I do most of my writing when I'm up, even more so if I'm manic. When the depression comes, I can barely get out of bed, much less create. 

That doesn't mean my depression hasn't had an effect on my writing. This illness has taken me to new lows, emotionally dark places that most people don't even know exist without having experienced great personal loss. Imagine the sadness and misery of losing a loved one. Now, imagine experiencing that same level of melancholy for no reason other than that your brain decided to take a chemical break. That's depression. 

Max's story, Moth, is the first book I've written that takes my readers to those lows. It's the darkest thing I've had published. The book isn't a complete downer, there are humorous parts and light moments, but the overall tone of the book is very dismal. It deals with some of the worst evils to which humanity can sink: child slavery, human trafficking, drug use, and more...all rolled up into one book. Climbing this mountain of darkness is Max Hollingsworth, a rather remarkable social worker who approaches his job less like a civil servant and more like a soldier at war. 

The darkness Max faces is both palpable and abstract. The world of Moth seems to be an amoral place where ruthless evil has a distinct advantage over morality and righteousness. This is not dissimilar to the world created by the aforementioned Robert E. Howard in his famous Solomon Kane stories. Like Kane, Max is guided by an inner light, a will to do what is right despite it being seemingly meaningless in the grand scheme. At one point in the novel, Max justifies his righteousness by stating that there is supposed to be a moral order in the Universe, whether there actually is one or not. There is a way things are supposed to happen so that right triumphs over wrong, light over darkness, good over evil. Max and Kane are heroes, and it's the hero's job to make things happen that way.

If my depression has aided my work in any way, it's that it has given me a glimpse at that world. A place where there is no good or light, only misery and darkness. Max is born from my own desire to confront the darkness in my own life. He is a light shining in the darkness. A way to forge order from chaos. I may not be able to control my own world, or escape the monster that stalks me, but in Max's world, I can. Max can kill the monsters, save the children, set right what was wrong, and make things happen the way they are suppose to. Because he's a hero. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is There a Book Before MOTH by Sean T. Poindexter?

In reviewing my website/blog statistics, I've found that this was one of the queries that led people to my website, as seen here...

Obviously, this search was launched by an individual who read MOTH and was interested reading any books the proceeded it. This blog is for you, and for anyone else who might have this same question.

First off, let express my gratitude at your reading of MOTH. It's one of the most wonderful feelings a writer can experience, if not the greatest, to find out someone enjoyed their work. So, from the depths of my heart, THANK YOU.

Now, to the question at hand...

MOTH is the first book in a series of paranormal mysteries following social worker and Prius enthusiast Max Hollingsworth. Max was introduced in the first book of The Dragon's Blood Chronicles, The Shadow of Tiamatwhere he was one of Meg's coworkers/supervisor. He had a rather small part in that book, but a substantial one. He is one of the main influences that convinces Meg that her relationship with Garrett is worth having. Max has a larger role in the second book in that series, The Will of the Darkest One. In that book, we are also introduced to a few characters who follow Max into his own series. Namely, we meet Max's nemesis, the crippled vampire Moonshadow.

The events in MOTH take place after most of the events in The Will of the Darkest One. The events in Darkest One span a little over a year, starting in late spring and ending in the second following summer. MOTH, conversely, takes place in the winter of that same year, though it only spans about two weeks. If you were to splice MOTH into Darkest One, it would fit right after Meg and Garrett attend Thanksgiving dinner at her parents house.

If that sounds confusing, just remember that you do not have to have read any of the Dragon's Blood books to understand what's going on in MOTH. The books are meant to be separate series and while there is some crossover between them, it isn't essential that you read both. However, if you DO, you'll be treated to more insight into Max's character, his relationship with the supernatural and otherworldly, and get to find out why Moonshadow and Max hate each other so much. Also, there are characters introduced in Max's book who will appear later in The Dragon's Blood Chronicles. But again, you don't have to have met them in Max's book in order to know who they are when they are re-introduced in The Dragon's Blood Chronicles.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Convention Banner

Here is my new 4' x 2.5' hanging banner for Visioncon, courtesy of Drastiq Designs...

Spectacular, isn't it? Of course I'm not limited to using it at Visioncon. I'll be able to hang this up behind me whenever I do book signings and other events. 

You probably noticed MOTH is absent. This banner is intended to focus on The Dragon's Blood Chronicles. Since MOTH is a different series, I'll eventually have another banner made to go beside this one to market MOTH and its successor novels.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Visioncon 2014 in Branson

I've accepted an invitation to appear at Visioncon this year, February 28th through March 2nd. The event will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Branson, Missouri. They have great rates for convention attendees, if you're travelling. Just use the promo code VISION when booking your room. Check out the guest list in the Local Talent section and you'll see your's truly. Also attending will be actor Ernie Hudson, best known as Winston from the Ghostbusters movies.

I'm really looking forward to this. It's my first big convention and it's very exciting. And thanks to the generosity of a friend, I'll have 100 copies of The Shadow of Tiamat available to sell, and I've been told I will probably sell all of them. I'll try to have a few copies of MOTH but my main focus is going to be on selling The Shadow of Tiamat to get people hooked on the series, especially since the second edition of The Will of the Darkest One, as well as the third book in the series, The Elohim Legacy, will be out sometime around then.

So come see me. It should be lots of fun, and there will be a lot of really talented people there for you to meet, including some other locals like the super talented artist David Faught and fellow fantasy author Shane Moore. They'll also be a masquerade ball, lots of vendors, and an art show. This should be lots of fun, and I'm looking forward to meeting some new fans. Expect lots of pictures on the blog and my fan page.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Finally saw the new Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug. Yes, I took my time. The weather and the holidays kind of got in the way. Overall I was pleased with it. I don't want to hear any bitching about there being no point in stretching the Hobbit into three movies. I'd be content if they made a damn TV series out of it. I love fantasy and especially enjoy seeing it in movie theaters. 

That being said, the ending of this movie really pissed me off. If you've seen it, you probably know what I'm talking about. I'm not going to spoil it for those of you who haven't seen it, but prepare to be angry. I will say only that its ending feels less like The Two Towers -- with its sense of temporary finality while maintaining its place as the middle of a greater story. It just sort of ends, with a sense of foreboding as to what is coming next. There is little mystery in know what's coming. You just have to wait to see it. Which was obnoxious.

I did enjoy the added action sequences. Particularly the famous barrel riding scene, which this movie incorporated into a three-way battle between orcs, dwarves, and wood elves. Could have used a little more Smaug, but just about any film I watch could use a little more Smaug. 

I've heard complaints that Smaug looked bad. Other than him only having two legs and using his wings as forelimbs, I thought he looked fantastic. There have also been some complaints of the addition of a female character, the elf warrior Tauriel. I realize she wasn't in the book, they just made her up to add another woman character to the story. But considering everything else they've added to make the movie more enjoyable to watch, the addition of a new female character seems rather tame. But if you're a total Tolkien purist, you're probably not going to enjoy the film that much because they take a LOT of liberties.  

All in all, I'm rabidly looking forward to the next one.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Come Sail Away With Me...

Those of you who follow such things know we've had some rather severe winter weather over the last week. Monday it was easily below 2 degrees at its coldest during the day. This left a lot of ice on the road. Ice which caused quite a few accidents. Including mine.

I wasn't hurt and my car was fine. I was on my way to work when I went sailing off the road. I was NOT speeding. In point of fact, I was driving very slow because there was already another accident up the road a ways and I was in the passing lane slowing down to give it space. In fact, if I had been driving at a normal speed I might not have even had the accident, because it was applying the breaks on a patch of black ice that caused me to fish-tail, then spin off the road into the grassy median between the north and south bound lanes on highway 65.

As I said I wasn't hurt, but I couldn't get my car back on the road without help. A deputy working one of the accidents up the road came down and talked to me. He said I was one of many accidents he'd seen on the highway that morning, the most severe of which was a 5 car pile up earlier that morning that resulted in the complete destruction of two of the automobiles. Thankfully, all injuries were very minor. It wasn't long before a tow truck came along and pulled me out of the ditch for $20. I'd left early for work so I didn't arrive too terribly late and was able to get in most of the lesson I had planned for the day. The worst part was that I had to pee literally the ENTIRE time, and since I was on the side of a very busy highway I couldn't just go off behind a tree. I didn't get any relief until I reached the school.

While I was sitting there, I noticed something interesting. I'd spun almost completely around when I sailed off the road, resulting in me facing the opposite direction at oncoming traffic. That meant everyone who drove by was treated to seeing me head on in the window as they passed. Everyone, and I mean everyone, stared as they went by. At first I was a little embarrassed, but then I decided to have fun with it and started staring back. As soon as someone looked at me, I made direct eye contact and turned my head to follow them as they passed, not taking my eyes off them until they were either out of sight or looked away--which, most did. It was kind of fun. But no one stopped and offered to help other than the deputy and the tow guy. I don't know if this is just something people don't do anymore, or if they figured there was nothing they could do to help me and didn't want to get in the way. I'm just glad no other cars were involved in my accident. As it stands, the only thing that got hurt was my pride.

Other than that, and the adjustment to the late start schedule at the school on my first day, my first week of teaching went by pretty smoothly. I had two students leave the class and two more join. They seem to be interested in the material. Some of them more than others, but it's only the first week and it's a brand new subject to many of them so hopefully as the semester goes on they'll become more engaging in class. If not, well, I'm capable of talking enough for everyone.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

First Day Teaching

Today was my first day teaching a dual credit college course in Sociology for State Fair Community College. My students are all high school seniors, and appear to be very intelligent and well motivated. This is my first teaching excursion since graduate school and I'm very excited about it. Hopefully State Fair is satisfied with the job I'm doing and will ask me to teach more classes.

Though it's a Sociology course, one of my students actually wants to be a writer. She and another student were very excited to find out I was a published author. Hopefully this won't get me into any trouble.

More details as this develops. This is a cool new chapter in my life.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

MOTH Limited Edition

For those of you who don't know, there has been some turbulence regarding the release of MOTH. The original publisher decided MOTH was too controversial for their line. Fortunately, I was able to find another publisher, Ambrosia Arts, very quickly.

Unfortunately, because of the change in publishers there was/is some delay in getting the book out. Getting the ebook version was pretty simple, but the print version is going to take a little more time. They are predicting late October before MOTH will be available from your local book store. That's the bad news. The good news is, Ambrosia Arts has been good enough to make MOTH available early through Amazon's CreateSpace publishing platform. That means for those of you aching to get your hands on a physical copy of MOTH, you can do so right now, but only through Amazon.

More good news, once the book is officially published the old editions available from CreateSpace will become collectors items. It is a limited edition run only being done because my readers have waited WAY to long for Max Hollingsworth's solo adventure. So grab up as many of these as you can before they're gone here.

Or, you can pick up the Kindle edition here for only $3.99!

And while you're at it, check out my new works page where you can buy copies of all my published books to date.

In case you don't know what MOTH is all about, here's the back cover blurb...

Social Worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to the otherworldly. But when he’s called upon to investigate a missing child, he stumbles upon a deeper mystery.

Children are vanishing and no one, not even their parents, remembers them. Suspicion turns to Neo-Nazi vampires and humans running a child slavery ring, but even that is only the beginning. For help he turns to friends, old and new, but even they might not be enough. When new enemies turn deadly, old enemies become allies, including the least likely ally of all: an enemy whose cruelty and evil was almost his end, and haunts him still.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


With a new publisher comes a new cover for MOTH. It's pretty similar to the old one, but I like it a lot more.


We've got a new synopsis blurb for the back, too:

Social Worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to the otherworldly. But when he’s called upon to investigate a missing child, he stumbles upon a deeper mystery. 

Children are vanishing and no one, not even their parents, remembers them. Suspicion turns to Neo-Nazi vampires and humans running a child slavery ring, but even that is only the beginning. For help he turns to friends, old and new, but even they might not be enough. When new enemies turn deadly, old enemies become allies, including the least likely ally of all: an enemy whose cruelty and evil was almost his end, and haunts him still.

MOTH will be available for sale on AMAZON on September 25th. It will be available from other sources soon thereafter.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Indie Author Mashup in October

I'll be attending this on October 26th in Springdale, Arkansas
More details to come as the event gets closer.

Here are the flyers...

Come out and see me and meet a lot of really great authors.
If you want to participate in the model contest, let me know and I'll put you in touch with the organizer. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

I'm THIS Close to Just Writing My Own Punisher Movie...

Just so when the new one Marvel is making comes out, if it's bad, I can answer the question "could you write a better one?" with a resounding "YES!" and "Fuck you!"

Here are the things I'd do differently:

1. Frank would exist in the Marvel Movieverse with all the other heroes. While the projected film is planning to do this already, I would make it far truer to the comic. Other heroes would be mentioned, but not appear. Except for one: Daredevil. I would use Garth Ennis' take on Punisher vs. Daredevil from Welcome Back Frank in which Daredevil attempts to stop Frank from killing a mobster his alter ego represents in court. Frank lets Daredevil beat him in a physical fight, only to knock him out with an ultra-sonic sound generator and chain him up to teach him a lesson. I do this because I fucking hate Daredevil.

2. Frank would be a Vietnam veteran. I know this would make him like 70, but I'll explain that away in a moment. Vietnam is important for Frank. He calls it the "war where he was born" It's also a metaphor for his entire war on crime: an intractable quagmire against a ruthless, seemingly unlimited enemy in their territory. No matter how badass Frank is, he will never win the war. But he will keep fighting it because it's his war. Most law enforcement would assume that the current Punisher is a protege of the first, rather than the same person. However, there would be two people who knew the truth. GW Bridge, a SHIELD agent assigned to capture Frank, and Gen. Fury, who secretly supports Frank's war and gives him supplies and weapons.

3. Frank would have a vaguely supernatural explanation for his longevity. This was addressed in the Born series of comics, also by Garth Ennis. Frank was the sole survivor of a Marine base called Fort Valley Forge near the end of the war. It was Frank's third tour and he was a recon captain. During his time there, he is internally dialoged with a dark voice that never identifies itself but seems highly interested in keeping Frank in the killing business. It mocks Frank's attempt to be happy about going home, and tells him he'll only be happy with a war that never ends. It promises Frank this war, for a price. Frank differs at first, until a legion of VC attack the fort. Frank then agrees to the voice's terms, when it offers to keep him alive, in exchange for a price to be named later. Frank is found by a recon patrol days later, covered in blood, holding a broken machinegun standing on a mountain of VC corpses. He's the only survivor. He only hears the voice again when he sees his family, and is reminded that there would be a price to pay. In Welcome Back Frank, he references the often (and rightly) maligned Zombisher series, in which the Punisher died and was brought back by angels to do their bidding. They wanted Frank to correct mistakes they'd made on Earth by being lazy and letting demons influence criminals. Frank does it for a while, then tells them where to go. They show him his family in heaven then thrown him down to earth as a mortal thinking it will be worse than hell for him. They were wrong, and Frank promptly resumes his war. I'd find a way to mix these two into one origin, making Frank still a normal human without any powers, just ageless. He can still die, of course. Whether he will stay dead is a matter of interpretation for the audience.
4. Frank would face relatively super-powered enemies. The crime lords he deals with would get tired of their normal flunkies getting the ass killed out of them, and would turn to the burgeoning super-villain world for help. They would present a challenge for Frank, but they'd be outclassed because Frank is Marvel's Batman. With training and preparation, he can beat ANYONE. In an alternate universe, he defeated Magneto by shooting him in the head with a rubber bullet. In another, he killed The Hulk by tagging him with a tracer, following him until he turned back into Banner, then shot Banner while he slept. In the regular Marvel Universe, he defeated a trio of Daredevil, Spiderman, and Wolverine by tricking them into fighting the Hulk. He also defeated Dr. Doom. That's right, Dr. Doom. The guy who once beat the Silver Surfer got beaten by The Big Nothing. No, Frank couldn't beat Spiderman in a fist fight. But if he had to kill Spiderman for some reason, he wouldn't get into a fistfight with him, just like if Spiderman had to fight Galactus, he wouldn't throw webs at his face.

5. Anybody saying Frank isn't right for a Marvel Universe movie because he doesn't have any powers is an idiot who can eat my stool. Guess who else in the Marvel Movieverse doesn't have any powers? Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and technically Iron Man and his first two badguys. Frank is WAY more badass than any of them. During the Secret War, Nick Fury considered putting Frank on one side of Latvia with all the guns and ordinance he wanted and the Hulk on the other and telling them to meet in the middle. During the Civil War, Captain America had to reluctantly allow Frank to help because he was literally the only person on the planet capable of successfully breaking into the Baxter Building to hack their teleporters to free the imprisoned heroes in the negative-zone prison thingy Reed Richards had built. Also, Frank killed Stilt Man. Fucking STILT MAN beat Spiderman. TWICE. And Frank killed him. With a Bazooka. He then waited until about fifty costumed villains attended a wake for Stilt Man at a bar in Queens, poisoned them, barred the door and burned down the bar. Oh he also defeated the Rhino, and did so in a way that the Rhino wound up helping Frank fight (and beat) the Wrecking Crew. Yes, the Thor villains. That Wrecking Crew. And he won. With the Rhino.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

MOTH Cover Revealed...

Behold, the cover for the first book in Max Hollingsworth's dark paranormal mystery series, Moth - 

Here is the tentative summary/blurb for the book - 

Social Worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to the otherworldly. But when he’s called upon to investigate a missing child protective services worker, he stumbles upon a deeper mystery.

Children are vanishing and no one, not even their parents, remembers them. Suspicion turns to Neo-Nazi vampires and humans running a child slavery ring, but the truth is far more sinister than even Max is prepared to handle. For help he turns to friends, old and new, but even they might not be enough…forcing him to turn to the least likely ally of all: an enemy who’s cruelty and evil was almost his end…and haunts him still.

He’ll be lucky if he makes it out of this one alive.

Moth is due out this September. Exact release dates when they become available.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013


OVERHEARD: two guys having a conversation about silly death and black metal band names...

You shouldn't make fun of them. Coming up with a good name for a death metal or black metal band is harder than it sounds. 


Yeah, I was in one and we had a lot of trouble with it.

What was your band name?
Well, a little backstory first. We wanted to go with a theme. A lot of our songs were Viking-based, using their mythology and culture. So we wanted to create an image of Viking warriors emerging from the mist, ready for battle, filling all who beheld them with dread. So, we went with a name that tried to convey that.

(Impatiently) Which was? 


GUY 1 and 2

Yeah and it seemed to work because whenever we did a gig lots of people came, but oddly it was a bunch of really old guys and they would always get SO pissed as soon as we started playing. So we decided to go a different direction.

Oh, please...tell us.

God, yes!

A lot of bands have biblical sounding names, like Covenant, Testament, Exodus, and Ministry. So, we decided to go with something like that and picked a name from the Bible...

GUY 1 and 2

I KNOW! The same god damned thing happened: old people showed up just to get pissed off!

Did you stick with that name?

No, turns out there was already a band called that. And, interestingly enough, there was one called Foghat. Which is weird because who else would think to name a band that? I get Genesis but Foghat? It just doesn't make sense outside the context of Viking death metal, the best of my knowledge...wasn't what the original Foghat did. So we decided to go with the most random, multi-word name we could think of so there would be no possible way there could ever be another band with that name.

Which was?

Huey Lewis and the News.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Excerpt From Moth

Below is a tiny snippet of my upcoming paranormal mystery/thriller Moth. This is the first book in a series following social worker Max Hollingsworth, friend of Megan Crunk and Garrett Terago from The Dragon's Blood Chronicles. Max's books are a slight departure from the Chronicles. They are darker, less fantasy, and tend to focus on Max doing what Max does: investigate child abuse cases that somehow always contain some kind of supernatural element.

In this clip, Max meets for the first time one of his most formidable adversaries: a vampire skinhead named Boone. He is the leader of a pack of human and vampire Neo-Nazi's living on the outskirts of Joplin of whom Max suspects of being child slavery traffickers and meth makers/dealers.

Moth Excerpt

Max and Frank walked around the trailer to his Prius. The futuristic black car looked out of place. It also had some visitors. Three skinheads, the two they’d seen setting outside, and a third.
“Is this your faggot-mobile?” asked the fat one.
“Yes.” Max slid his hand into his bag. “This is my faggot-mobile.”
“Shit! Ollie,” said other one from before. He clapped his hand onto the fat one’s arm. “Slanty-eyed little monkey Japs made this piece o’shit!”
The fat one slapped away his hand.
“Don’t be sayin’ my name!” Max would find out later that one’s name was Leroy. Ollie was the biggest of the three, but not the tallest—not the most threatening either. That was reserved for the lanky newcomer.
“Both of you faggots shut up,” he said to them without looking. They both shut up. His voice was like a pestle grinding charcoal, with a thicker southern accent than Max was used to hearing from people around here.
Ah, the chief! The tall one was the only one not wearing some kind of jacket, just a wife-beater and a pair of jeans held up by red suspenders. A thin layer of bleach-white hair covered the blue veins on his head. He was paler than the other two, and wore a dark pair of sunglasses despite the overcast sky.
He stepped to Max and lowered his head enough that his shades slid down his nose. He had small, beady eyes; almost pink with little blue dots in the middle. He smiled and showed off two rows of pearly teeth. His nostrils twitched as he sniffed the air.
“You cops?”
“Do we look like cops?” Max closed his hand around the grip of the little gun he carried in his bag. “Or, smell like cops?”
He grinned and pushed up his shades. Every finger on his hands sported a different ring—Max saw skulls, swastikas, shamrocks and a couple of crosses.
Frank pulled out his phone. The leader skinhead looked at him. Frank didn’t back away any further.
Max looked over at Leroy and Ollie.
“Actually, the Japanese were allied with the Nazis, so you should appreciate Japanese craftsmanship.” They gave him a confused look. Max wasn’t surprised he’d confused them. He looked back at the leader, now inches from his face. It was colder near him than it should have been. Max knew what that meant….
“You aren’t selling anything.” He lowered the shades again and fixed Max with his eyes. “What are you doing here?” Max felt a pull in his brain, like he’d been hung upside down. He felt the skinhead’s influence stretch and break, snapping out of his brain like a rubber band. The vampire gave him a surprised look. “Who are you?”
“I’m calling the police.” Frank started hitting numbers.
“Hey!” Ollie shook his hands. “We ain’t doing nothing!”
“We’re not trying to start a fight.”
Frank looked at Max. He nodded for him to stop dialing. Frank nodded back and stopped.
The leader turned his canine eyes back to Max and pushed up his shades. “We were just walking by and saw your car. Don’t see many of them around here. We were just curious about it, that’s all.”
“Curious about mileage, and what not?” Max had the gun in his hand. The vampire skinhead’s lip curled a little, showing Max he could smell gunmetal mixing with palm sweat.
“You didn’t answer my question. Who are you?”
“I’m Max. Who are you?”
“You mean like…Pat?”
He grinned. “More like Daniel.”
“Gotcha.” Max nodded.
Boone stepped away. He saw Ollie was leaning against the car and slapped him on the shoulder. “Ollie, you fat fuck! Get off the man’s car!”
Max and Frank looked at each other and exchanged nervous grins.
Boone looked back at Max as they walked away. He held up his hands. “Don’t be a stranger! Come on by some time and say hello!”
“Yeah, sure. Which trailer is yours?” Max looked past the trio at Nazi flag in the window.
Boone laughed and turned around. Ollie and Leroy watched as Frank and Max got back in the car.
Boone didn’t turn to look at them until he was past the fence. By that point Max already had his car going and was backing out of driveway.
“Why’d he think we were cops?” Frank whispered. He knew the vampire might be able to hear them, even being in the car. Max waited until they were outside the park to answer.
“He smelled my gun.” He panted and let his heart slow. He knew the vamp could hear that too. He’d had to have known they were scared, but their stubborn refusal to show any outward signs of fear had earned some measure of respect.
“You’ve got a piece?”
“Yeah, I’ve got the .380 in my bag.” Max gestured to the black bag in the back seat.
“Dammit, Max.”
“What? You wanted one, too? Remind me next time, I have a forty-five in the trunk—”
“No, you dick! You know I don’t like it when you carry guns around me.”
“That’s why I didn’t tell you.”
Frank slapped himself on the head. “Fuck, Max! What would you have done if they’d drawn a knife or a gun? Would you have shot them?”
Frank looked at him for a second before nodding. “All right. I guess I’m okay with that.”
“Oh, well thank you.” Max laughed. “That makes me feel a lot better.”
“Are you even allowed to carry a gun?”
“I have a concealed carry permit—”
“I mean for your job. Does the State allow social workers to pack heat?”
Max turned a corner. “In what sense do you mean allow?”
“Have been given permission to, and will not get in trouble if.”
“In that sense, no. I’m not—” Max made quote marks with his fingers “—allowed to carry a firearm.” Frank laughed. “I can always get another job. I can’t get another life.”
 “Would you be able to live with it?” Frank asked at length, “If you had to shoot one of them?”

And so, that's Max. I'm also going to add some concept art for the cover for you. I don't know for sure that this will be the cover of the book, it's just what the artist is working on right now. It's also not finished. The very talented artist working on it tells me that he's got a lot more to do. I think it looks great but I'm looking forward to the final version.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why Do You Care (about Kate?)

Two days ago I posted a blog about the case of Katilyn Hunt. That blog post has become very popular, garnering over 1700 hits in less than 24 hours. I've also received a lot of feedback about the blog, most of it positive, some of it negative, all of which I have responded to in the comments section of that blog. I've even recieved a threat on my safety, from an anonymous poster, no less. While it's hard to take such threats seriously, I have since disabled anonymous comments on my blog to weed out such cowards. I've also managed to get ahold of the threatener's real name and home city, so in the unlikely event that he carries out his threat--and survives--his identity will be made public. But by all means, threaten me all you want, but best not try to carry it out. I may be a cripple, but I'm always armed and have absolutely no problem using lethal force to protect myself.

So far, most of the criticism I've gotten for my support of Kate Hunt has been in the form of personal attacks and questions about my motive. I've gotten enough of them that I feel like they should be addressed here. If you're tired of hearing about this, just stop reading now.

I don't think the law under which Kate is being convicted should be overturned. That law exists for a reason: to protect young people from sexual predators. However, within the law there is discretion. That's why we elect District Attorneys and Judges: to add a human element to the cold, rigid word of the law. Did Kate violate the letter of the law by having sexual contact with a 14 year old girl? Yes. Did she violate the spirit of the law, i.e. is she a sexual predator victimizing a child? As someone who has spent a large part of his life studying sexual predators, and has experience investigating them and working with them in a correctional setting, I can genuinely say that it does not appear to be the case that Kate is a sexual predator. All the evidence present to me at this time, including the police affidavit  indicates that this is nothing more than a pair of lovestruck teenage girls. Were Kate a sexual predator, there would be some indication of coercion, coupled with a lack of concern for the other girl's well being. On the contrary, Kate and her family have gone out of their way to protect the younger girl, even when demonizing her or accusing her of lying or being the aggressor in the relationship would benefit them. Sexual predators always blame their victims. That isn't what's happening here. Furthermore, the younger girl has made no allegations of coercion. Sexual predators also tend to have multiple victims at a time. This looks to be the only young girl Kate is involved with. So, it is within the DA's discretion to pursue charges against Kate based on whether he thinks she is in fact a sexual predator from whom the community requires protection. I'm not appraised of all the facts, of course, but from what I've seen I don't find that to be the case. It's my hope that the DA will see that as well. He has already dismissed similar charges for identical reasons, so it looks likely that Kate may be given a reprieve as well.

One anonymous poster accused me of being a pedophile. Well, all I can say to that is: I'm not. Of course, if I were, that's what I'd say anyway, so if you want to believe that about me, go ahead. I have been married to an adult woman for almost a decade, have never been accused of a sex offense against a child, or had any suspicion cast on me by law enforcement. Furthermore, I don't get how saying one teenager shouldn't be legally punished for sex with another teenager makes me a pedophile. I'm not asking to watch them or anything. Furthermore, I'm not advocating abolishing the age-of-consent laws altogether  I'm not even saying that Kate didn't do anything wrong. I just don't think she should face criminal charges and a lifetime on the sex offender registry for something that many teenagers do and is part of normal development.

As to the seriousness of childhood sexual abuse, and my feelings towards it, i.e. if I am sympathetic towards those who prey on children to satisfy their sexual urges, I will make a rather personal disclosure right now: I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Until this blog, this has been a highly personal secret that I've shared with only a few close people in my life. I'm making it public now in the hopes that any who read it will understand that I know what real sexual abuse look and feels like. It happened to ME. I was very young, it was not a family member, and it was never reported because I didn't understand what was happening at the time and was told to blame myself. It has haunted me all my life. It will haunt me until I die. You can ask my wife, ask my friends, ask anyone I've ever been romantically involved with, and they will tell you that there is a fear of intimacy there inside me that I don't believe will ever leave. It is burned like a fresh brand on my soul and it still hurts. There are times when a simple, unexpected touch from my wife or a friend causes me to shudder. My life has been good, I have a wonderful family and many close friends, but nothing will ever take that pain away from me. I have learned to live with it, but I will never forget. So to imply that I have some sympathy for or towards pedophilia is not only inaccurate, it's offensive. I can excuse those who made that charge before, not knowing, but any who persist now after making this declaration, to them I say this: you're disgusting.

Then there is the accusation I'm doing this for self-glorification; as in to sell books. If I am, it's not really working out that well. Since publishing my blog yesterday in support of Kate, I've sold three books. Granted, that's an almost 300% increase in sales from the day before, but I doubt very seriously that my support of Kate is going to produce any sort of windfall profits in book sales. I'm not doing this to sell books. I'm doing it because I believe in Kate.

But at the bottom of it all, there has to be some underlying cause for my concern, right? Something that motivated me to stick my nose into this situation as opposed to the thousands of other injustices I see and hear about every day. What was it about THIS one that caught my eye and made me get involved? There is an answer to that, too...

My youngest brother.

A few years ago, my youngest brother plead guilty to a sex offence. Not because he had really done anything wrong, but because he had no chance to beat the charges and a conviction would have resulted in a worse sentence. His situation was different from Kate's in several ways. My brother, who I will refer to as E, was 18 when he went out on a date with a girl he thought was 16. She was not. After some kissing and petting, the girl asked E to take her home because she was tired and wasn't in the mood to play anymore. E agreed, took her home, and left. It turns out the girl had left the house without her mother's permission, and got caught returning to the house. When she told her mother what happened, she called the police. A rape kit was done, but no evidence was turned up because there was no sexual intercourse, just touching. Normally, that would have been the end of it. But, our father is a public figure in law enforcement in that area, and in order to prevent the appearance of favoritism towards a fellow police officer, the investigation continued. E was interviewed by the police, and he naively told them everything that happened...again, because he didn't realize how young the girl was, or that he was being investigated for rape. E was convicted solely on the statement he gave to the police. If he'd stayed quiet or said, "she's lying, I didn't touch her" that would have been the end of it. He was punished for being naive and honest. Yes, E should have made sure the girl was the age he thought she was before he touched her. And for that, her deserves some level of punishment, but being convicted of a sex offense and branded a sex offender has essentially crippled his life. He has struggled to maintain a job because so many people in the community have turned their backs on him. This is a community my father has served for over 30 years, protecting them from the very monsters they now think E is. Like Kate, E wasn't engaging in predatory behavior. Neither of them were lurking around playgrounds or school hangouts looking for vulnerable children. They just made careless mistakes. The kind of mistakes everyone needs to make in order to grow up and become a responsible adult. Now, unfortunately, E's road has been altered so dramatically that he may never be able to progress.

On top of that, I've seen what this has done to my father. E and I have different mothers, he's really my half-brother but I still call him my brother. I've watched my father struggle financially and emotionally with this. He aged years in but a few months. He has lost friends. His career has suffered. His emotional health has deteriorated. I saw the stress and fear in his eyes when he heard E had been assaulted in jail, both for his alleged offense, and for being the son of a cop. Because E's mother is a narcissistic loser, dad has carried the extensive financial burden of E's court cost, probation fees, and mandated therapy sessions.

So I say this to Kate's father, Steven, to whom I've had the pleasure to get to know a little: I understand.

I understand the helplessness you feel. The weight that presses on your chest when you sit, and your head when you stand. You find yourself moving around to escape it, but you can't; it follows you everywhere. Anguish builds like sickness inside, filling you until you want to scream at the world. You want to take it all on yourself. You would offer to bear it ten-fold if they would just spare the one you love. You see other families going about their day, carefree of this kind of concern, and it makes your heart simmer. You think about them, the accusers. Dark thoughts creep into your mind. Why should I suffer alone? Why shouldn't they reap what they have sown? You look at implements of destruction and imagine making them red. Then you stop. Calmness and sanity return. You realize you're not a monster. You can't hurt someone else. You're better than that. Better than them. You feel guilty for even entertaining the notion, even if it was only for a second. I'm here to tell you: don't. It's natural to want to protect those we love. We can't help what we feel. Only what we do. And what we will do is persevere. Stand up and fight. We will do so in accordance with the law and conscience. In the end, that is why we will prevail. But knowing that is cold comfort when the one we love, so young and new to the real world, sits shivering in fear of a losing a future they never had a chance to see because of the wicked actions of another.

To Kate, I offer this song and hope it is of some comfort, as it has often been for me in trying times like these...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dear Ativan

How are you? I'm fine. Well, not really but whatever. I have something I want to get off my chest.

We've been seeing each other for a while now. I know you probably feel taken for granted, and I wish I could say that was all in your head but I'd be lying. I know I've taken you for granted. I mean, we cross paths almost every day and I just pop off your lip and throw one or two of you down my throat and wash you away with some grapefruit juice or iced tea, all the time assuming you'll make the little beast in my chest stop clawing at the back of my ribs. Never once do I take a moment to say thank you, or to show any sign of appreciation for what you do for me. In fact, I make jokes about it. One of them, most commonly, is that I don't take you for my protection, I take it for everyone else's. Yeah, funny, I know. But not to you.

The truth it, Ativan, that I love you. Which is conflicting, because I also hate you. No, hear me out. I don't hate you because of anything you did. I hate you because I need you. See, we're all taught that we should be able to manage everything life throws at us. And we do. Until we can't. Some of us have this thing inside us. It's so strange, really. I'm generally regarded as one of the more fearless of my friends and family. Always have been. Big things don't scare me a bit. Falling off a cliff, getting in a plane crash, dying in a fire, being shot...none of it bothers me that much. But stubbing my toe, bouncing a check, missing a bill, or getting a nasty phone call from a collection agency, those KILL me.

What the hell is up with that, Ativan? No, you tell me you're the expert.

It's completely irrational, and stupid. And I don't want my brain to be stupid or irrational. Brains are supposed to be smart. They are supposed to make sense. Why am I not the least bit afraid of getting in a car crash WHILE the car is spinning out of control, but terrified of a papercut? I can have a knife pointed directly at my throat by a guy who I know for a fact has no compunctions about taking human life, but the idea of filing a tax return reduces me to a quivering moron? Who the hell has a brain that works like this?

Well, apparently quite a few people because you seem to have a lot of friends. So, on behalf of them, let me just say thank you. For all that you do. I'm sure they hate you too. But don't take it personally. It isn't really YOU they hate, but rather the weakness inside them that taking you represents. I hope this helps.


P.S. If you see Effexor, tell him I gave his ties to Goodwill. I got tired of waiting for him to come get them and Prozac kept asking questions about them.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Free Kate! (Updated)

text marked in red has been added after clarification from the police affadavit and discussions with Kate's friend and family. The original text has been left with a markthrough so none of you can accuse me of being dishonest.

The King of the Dragons doesn't usually get involved with political causes on his blog, but this one is different. Sometimes, something happens that gets the King all fired up and I just have to let out a roar and send forth cleansing fire. This is one such case. Yes, I realize I might lose some readers because of this, but if  supporting this case offends you, then I doubt you'd enjoy my books very much anyway.

Kaitlyn Hunt
An 18 year old girl named Kate in Florida has been charged with a sex offense for a perfectly innocent relationship with her 15 14 year old girlfriend. This is due entirely to the younger girl's parents objecting to the relationship because they disapprove of homosexuality.

As parents, they have a right to say who their daughter spends time with, and they certainly have the right to forbid their daughter from having sex. But instead of handling this like adults and talking to Kate's parents to keep these two girls apart, they viciously and vindictively decided to orchastrate a plot to get Kate in trouble. According to Kate's family and friends, Kate was 17 when the relationship began. The DAY she turned 18, she passed into the legal status as an adult and made this relationship criminal. According to the police affidavit, the girls started having sexual contact in December of 2012, Kate was 18 and the other girl was 14. Kate's friends and parents allege the relationship began when Kate was 17. The police and the alleged victim's parents appear to be alleging that the relationship started when Kate was 18...if that matters.The younger girl's parents, in cooperation with police, set up a sting operation, tricking the girls into talking about their relationship over the phone while police recorded it. Kate was arrested and charged, and faces imprisonment and the lifetime stigma of a sex offender. All because one girl's parents disapprove of the fact that their daughter is gay. These aren't parents being protective of their daughter, these are bigots using an ambiguous and arbitrary law to punish a young girl for something that is perfectly natural just because they have a superstition about it.  The law is designed to protect children from sexual predators. Sexual predators seek out and find young, impressionable victims and abuse them. It's clear from the police affadavit that this isn't the case. Both girls admit to being in love, with the younger one refusing to say she was victimized by the older one. Likewise, Kate doesn't appear to have any history of abuse or predation, which would be evident if she were a salicious pedator of children. 


I've spoken with several people involved in the case, including Kate's father. The ACLU are involved and they have retained an attorney. He asked me to post the FAQ he's made for the case on the Facebook Group supporting Kate, and that's what I'm pasting here:

Who is Kate, and why does she need to be freed?
Kate is a high school senior living in Indian River County, FL. Until halfway through the school year, she was a student at Indian River High School, where she had been a cheerleader, a Varsity basketball player, and a medical trainee preparing for a career serving others in the nursing field. Kate was a productive and popular member of her school community and was voted as the student with “most school spirit.”
Kate’s girlfriend was a freshman student enrolled in International Baccalaureate courses with upper-classmen and a fellow player on the Varsity basketball team with Kate. While Kate was 3+ years older than her girlfriend, they were peers in the exact same social circle.
When Kate’s girlfriend’s parents learned of their relationship, they went directly to the police to press charges without sharing their objections with Kate or her family. The police recorded a conversation between Kate and her girlfriend, which led to Kate’s arrest. Kate was arrested and interrogated extensively without a lawyer present.
Kate’s father was a former police officer, so she trusted the police and didn’t feel she had anything to hide. Unfortunately, the police took advantage of her trust in order to get her to make incriminating statements.
Kate was eventually charged with two counts of felony lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12-16. The prosecutor later offered a plea deal of felony child abuse, with two years house arrest followed by one year probation.
Today, the girls are 18 and 15. We will not discuss the specifics of their relationship or when contact took place between them for their legal protection. Kate’s girlfriend has taken no part in her prosecution and denies she is a victim, but the law grants her no rights in this matter.
Kate has offered to permanently cease contact and leave the state if charges are dropped, but that offer has been rejected by the prosecutor and the girlfriend’s parents.
2. Do we think Kate deserves special treatment because she’s a girl in a same sex relationship?
Absolutely not! It is our national shame that states continue to prosecute relationships between consenting students at the same high school. We generally support age-of-consent laws, but we believe it is ludicrous that a 23-year-old can date a 16-year-old, but two students in the same school and on the same basketball team cannot be in a relationship because of arbitrary age limits. The law needs to change, not only to protect Kate, but to protect the millions of teenagers, boys and girls, straight and gay, whose lives are regularly ruined because parents disapprove of their children’s sexual choices.
We want justice for all 18-year-old high school seniors who have undergone criminal prosecution for exercising poor judgement in their dating life. Such students are not predators. They’re just kids.
Likewise, we believe the law should not be arbitrarily enforced based on a parent’s anger. Parents should be empowered to protect their children, but not at the price of destroying another young person’s life forever.
3. What is the point of this Facebook group?
The point of this group is to offer Kate support and to offer Kate’s supporters a place to share and receive accurate information. This is not a forum to debate your views on same-sex relationships or age-of-consent laws.
Kate with her father
We believe in free speech, but you have your own Facebook wall for that. Anyone expressing negative views of Kate or our cause will be removed permanently from the group.
Likewise, we ask our supporters to keep a sharp look out for trolls and other negative content. Please do not argue with trolls. Simply tag their posts for an admin and ignore them. Responding to troll posts only bumps them up. If you see any pornographic or other inappropriate imagery, please report it immediately to Facebook and an admin.
4. Should we go after the other family?
NO! Please refrain from posting any personal information about the other people involved in this case. Doing so will only hurt Kate and her cause.
Likewise, we do not want to cause Kate’s former girlfriend any pain or suffering over the actions of her parents. Let’s keep this positive and go through the proper channels. No witch hunts, please.
5. How can members of “Free Kate” help?
First, sign this petition:
Second, if you would like to help the family cope with their considerable legal fees, you can do so here:
Third, if you’re a resident of Florida, please contact your state legislators and tell them the law needs to protect high school peers from prosecution. Find your state legislators here:
Even if you’re not a Florida resident, contact your state legislators, anyway. Most states have similarly unjust laws.
Fourth, share this story! Share with everyone! If you know a high school student, make sure he or she knows the law. We don’t want our children going to jail out of ignorance.
Things need to change. We can make that change happen together.
Andrew Kenneth Gay
We ALL are ONE!!! We ALL fight the fight!!

You can help. Click here to reach the GoFundMe site to donate. There is also a e-petition you can sign, though I don't know how much good it will do it does show Kate and her family that people care.

Now, before you all start getting all douchy about how there wouldn't be as much support for this if Kate were a boy, and that the LBGT community is trying to get special treatment because it's a homosexual relationship, let me just rebut that by saying YOU'RE AN IDIOT and you're missing the point. IF Kate had been an 18 year old boy, the other girl's parents probably wouldn't have made an issue out of it. These charges were brought about because the parents of the younger girl disapproved of their daughter being gay. Period. Also, I worked in the criminal justice system and I know for a fact that DAs and cops get accusations of sex between 14-15 year old girls and boys as old as 21 all the time and they do nothing about them because it's literally impossible to prove anything happened. This case was singled out simply because it was two girls. THAT definitely makes it a discrimination issue.

Praise Tiamat

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

12 Questions I Get Asked a Lot...and the Answers

1. Can I have a free copy of your book?

That depends...will you come to my house and do whatever it is you do for money for free for about six months? Because that's basically what you're asking me for. If you're willing to write a review, or do me some other favor, then I will consider it. Otherwise, this is probably the most insulting questions you can ever ask an author, right past "Do you have a real job?" and "Why are you such an asshole?" Seriously, it's just like going to a friend's restaurant and asking if you can have a free meal, then leaving when he says no.

2. Will you base a character in one of your books on me?

I doubt it. Don't take this personally. Most of the time in my books, bad things happen to the characters. It's harder for me to do bad things to a character based on someone I know, because it's like saying I'd like to see those things happen to them. Also, if I base a character on you, and then I make that character do something that you, as a person, would never do, you'll get upset with me and say I must not know you very well. So, this isn't something I'm likely to do. Sometimes I base a character's look on an actor or actress I think fits the mold. More rarely, on someone I know personally.

3. Why aren't you a Libertarian? Sometimes you sound like one...

I agree with a lot of the social policies of Libertarianism, but am the complete opposite of the economic ones.  I have a lot of Libertarian friends and find a great deal of common ground with them, but I'm a dyed in the wool socialist. And  no, I don't want to debate you about that. Because I don't care. I guess that's something else that makes me unlike a Libertarian. It seems like almost every Libertarian I know is absolutely obsessed with turning everyone they meet into a Libertarian, or convincing them that they actually are one without knowing it. Like a religion, or something. Whereas me, I honestly have no interest in convincing anyone else to adopt my political philosophy.

4. Speaking of religion...

Oh dammit... autograph your books and end your posts with "PRAISE TIAMAT!" Does this mean you worship Tiamat?

Yes. I'm also from Sumer. *sigh* No, jackass...I don't worship Tiamat. "Praise Tiamat" is something the dragons in my book say when they are happy about something. "To the Shadow of Tiamat" is something they say when one of their race dies. They don't even worship Tiamat as a god, they just revere her as the mother of their race.

5. So do you believe in any God or religion, then?


6. Why can't I find your books in my local bookstore?

Because I'm not Stephen King or Clive Cussler. I'm not even Mark Lawrence (he's awesome, by the Prince of Thorns immediately). More than likely, you aren't going to find my book sitting on a shelf at a bookstore. However, you can order my book from any bookstore by asking the person at the counter to order it for you. Or you can order it online here or by clicking the Buy My Books link at the top of the page.

7. How many books do you plan to write? 

As many as I can until I can't anymore...which usually means when I'm dead ;-)


The questions beyond this point include some minor spoilers for The Shadow of Tiamat and The Will of the Darkest One. Proceed at your own discretion...

8. How did Max know Garrett was a dragon? Or that dragons exist at all?

Max knows a lot of things. More about what Max knows and how he knows it will be introduced in the first book in Max's series, Moth. Max is a bit of a mystery himself. One I hope you'll enjoy exploring through his own series of books, The Max Hollingsworth Paranormal Mysteries.

9. How come all the vampires in your books are either bloodthirsty killers or bumbling morons? Why are there no romantic vampires like Lestat and Edward?

They aren't. Sometimes they are bloodthirsty morons or bumbling killers. The reason is this: vampires are monsters. Lestat was a monster, too. Yeah, he had some romantic features but Rice never let us forget what he was. Edward is a pansy and can kiss my ass, but Meyer did make it clear that he and his family were exceptional of the vampire race in that they didn't harm humans. Also, Twilight was terrible. In both cases, vampires are, at their core, monsters who use their ability to hide as humans to help them hunt prey, therefore the majority of vampires in those worlds will be evil monsters. No matter what, the majority of vampires in any book or series need to be evil monsters, otherwise it removes the novelty of finding one that isn't like that.

In my books, the vampires lose their conscience and become what criminologists would call predatory sociopaths. This means they don't care about anything but themselves and take pleasure (usually sexual) in the suffering of others. They also have low impulse control, are prone to violence, and aren't very patient or thoughtful. Some vampires outgrow this, but most don't live long enough as their new lifestyle leads them to getting in a lot of fights and getting killed. Also, they don't tend to be all that bright. Contrary to popular belief, sociopaths are not usually smarter than anyone else. There are very intelligent ones out there, but most of them are average to below average intelligence. Couple that with low impulse control, a propensity for violence, and the cocksure belief that they can't die and you've got a recipe for sheer comedy.

Anyway, I was actually kind of tired of the whole dark prince with an unbeating heart of gold routine with vampires. Mostly, I just wanted something that people would enjoy seeing the dragons tear apart. If you like (or write) vampire stories with a friendly bloodsucker, that's fine. I do, eventually, introduce some vampires who are slightly less sociopathic in future books (there is one in Moth, and another in The Elohim Legacy) but just accept that when you read my books, almost every vampire you meet is going to be an evil asshole. Because, more than likely, if you met one in real life, they would be, too.

10. Why did Fraise send Xyus to Joplin to kill Megan if he needed it to look like an accident? Wouldn't Fraise have known Xyus was too violent and unpredictable to carry out such a delicate mission? Why not send one of the others?

Fraise was working with what he had. Fraise only has a few dragons on his side in The Shadow of Tiamat. He gains more in The Will of the Darkest One but until then, this was all he had to work with. Xyus was the most sensible choice, given his options. Yomiko wouldn't have done it, she's too honorable. Vritra had already deserted him. Yor wouldn't have gone without Yomiko. And Gruda...well, it isn't explored very much in the first book, but between Xyus and Gruda, she's actually the crazier one. While Xyus may have violently assaulted a human woman and caused a bit of mayhem in Joplin, Gruda probably would have raped and killed everything in the city. She's literally that unhinged when she's around humans, so Fraise keeps her separated from them as much as possible. You will get a taste of just how vicious and insane Gruda is in The Will of the Darkest One, and hopefully understand why Fraise doesn't like sending her off without supervision. If Fraise had Wynonah, the trickster dragon from The Will of the Darkest One in his employ during the events of The Shadow of Tiamat, he probably would have sent her instead.

11. How do the dragons go from being all huge like a building to human size?

By being dragons. It's magic, don't put too much into it. But really, this does get explained a little in The Will of the Darkest One. Dragons are living, walking conduits of elemental energy. This manifests in various forms as it passes through the dragon, and is what is expressed in their breath attacks. There are a number of different forms this elemental energy can take as it passes through the dragon: fire, lightning, acid, frost, etc. However, in it's purest form, it's just formless energy. It's what fuels the dragon's long life, ability to heal, and great strength even in human form. At the atomic level, dragons are able to compact the matter that makes them up as energy and release it back through the conduit inside them to the limitless plane of energy from whence it came as they shape-change. The remaining matter is then rearranged into their human form. When they take a human form, they keep enough of their atomic mass to continue existing in our plane, while also storing the information needed to resume their natural shape. When they decide to do this, they open the conduit inside and absorb enough energy to facilitate the change. Their forms are tied together, though, so as a dragon ages, both his forms age with him. Dragons learn to do this very young. Most of the time, they only learn how to take one human form. Some learn to take several, but this usually requires specialized training that distracts from teaching the dragon other important things, like how to fly, fight, and blow shit up with their breath. However, even in human form, the dragons aren't quite human. They  are incredibly strong, have dense flesh that can deflect most human weapons, and are immune to diseases and most poisons. They can also control most of their bodily functions, like make their hair grow faster (or fall out) and they don't sweat or have to worry about damage from exposure--unless they fall into a volcano or something.

Anyway, this transformation is somewhat taxing. Dragons in their prime and younger can make the shift without any problem. Much older, and they start losing the ability to change shape. A dragon can always resume it's natural form, but it's possible for a dragon to get so old that he can't shift back into human form. Dragons tend to know this is the case, as each time they try to change to their human form it becomes more difficult. In The Shadow of Tiamat, Fraise laments in private that the next time he returns to dragon form, he will be unable to change again because he's too old. Fraise isn't very happy about this, as he despises humans and does not like pretending to be one. Unfortunately, he has much work left to do that he cannot accomplish as a dragon. This is a large part of why he relies on sorcery to accomplish his ends, something most dragons consider distasteful.

12. What's Meg's secret? Is she a half-dragon? If Aoni'a knows, why doesn't she just tell her? And how does Garrett not know, especially if it's part of the reason why he's so into her?

That's actually four questions but they are all related so I'll answer them as one.

(a) Meg's secret, which is something Aoni'a says makes her special to Garrett and other dragons, is something introduced in The Shadow of Tiamat and explored more in The Will of the Darkest One. It is kind of a big deal, so it isn't something that can be introduced lightly or settled with one book. A big portion of this secret will, however, be revealed in The Elohim Legacy, as a large part of the story involves Meg and Aoni'a travelling to the Yukon to find her real father.

(b) No. Meg isn't a half-dragon. Yeah, I know, Yvonne and Xyus...but Tosha isn't a half-dragon. She's a full dragon who just happened to have a human mother for the first 9 months of gestation. Something about having a human mother makes it possible for a dragon to impregnate (or become impregnated by) a human, but the result would be another dragon. Yes, this does mean that Tosha could, at some point, become pregnant by a human male. Anyway, Meg isn't a half-dragon. Dragons are born with full-awareness and have eidetic memory. Meg would almost certainly remember hatching from an egg. Also, whatever Meg's secret was, Fraise was aware of it from the moment he saw her. He told his minions that they wouldn't be able to kill her outright, they'd have to make it look like an accident. Whatever it was, Yomiko was so offended by the idea of killing Meg that she betrayed her twin bother and Fraise to protect her. It is doubtful that she would have gone to that much trouble just to protect another dragon. Or even a half-dragon.

(c) That too is something you'll just have to wait to find out in The Elohim Legacy. In The Will of the Darkest One, Aoni'a becomes frustrated when Meg confronts with this same question. Aoni'a replies that she simply can't tell her any more, as if she's prevented from it or doing so would be dangerous. This is further supported by Aoni'a attacking the demon at the end of The Will of the Darkest One when it points at Meg and speaks a single word that appears to hint at her secret identity. In turn, Aoni'a takes a pretty serious beating, indicating that it must be something extremely important for the otherwise self-absorbed Aoni'a to put herself at risk to protect. Likewise, the vampires don't appear to have any idea what she is either. All they know is their charm and obfuscation abilities don't work on her. But they don't work on Max, either...

(d) You'll notice about Garrett that, although quite intelligent, he's a little clueless when it comes to other people...particularly Meg. He's not a very social person, in fact he's a bit of an introvert. He's also never been in love before, and it kind of frightens him. So, he doesn't explore his feelings for Meg very much because he isn't entirely comfortable with them. Right now they make him happy so he accepts them. He may be worried that if he digs too deeper, he'll ruin it. Also, whatever Meg is, it isn't something most dragons are familiar with. Fraise was the first person to figure it out when he first met Meg. Aoni'a only knew because  Yomiko told her, and Yomiko only knew because she'd been told by Fraise. The demon near the end of The Will of the Darkest One seems to have some idea what she is, and finds it offensive or alarming. This would indicate that whatever Meg is, it's something that a demon would recognize more readily than a dragon, vampire, or any other creature