Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wisdom of Our Mothers


Familia Books announces the release of a new anthology, Wisdom of Our Mothers. It includes the work of local writer Patrick Hurley and is edited by Eric Bowen.

Patrick Hurley is Production Coordinator for The Great Books Foundation and has been published in several books, magazines, e-zines, and fiction podcasts, including Allegory, Niteblade, Big Pulp, The Drabblecast, Well Told Tales, and Ghostlight.

Comprised of stories and poetry by eighty-eight accomplished contemporary authors from around the world, the collection explores the theme of lessons learned from the authors’ mothers. It is the brain-child of part-time philanthropist Eric Bowen. Guided by his own mother’s teaching that “one does well by doing good,” Bowen has pledged half his profits from the book to raise funds for shelters for abused mothers and children.

Everyone has a mother, and readers will doubtlessly find stories in this anthology that relate to their own experiences. Yet Bowen’s presentation isn’t sentimental. The mothers profiled in the stories are human. Their virtues are balanced by their flaws, and in some cases, the lessons learned from those flaws form the basis of the story.

The anthology explores maternal wisdom in various categories: emotional, relationship, and practical skills; virtues, humor, and heritage. One chapter delves into “the dark side,” profiling some truly dysfunctional mothers. “From other lands” describes motherhood in cultures outside the American mainstream.

This book now available on the Familia Books website,, and from, will soon be available at your local bookstore and through major internet booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


ISBN 978-145-363101-0

296 pps.

List Price: $14.95

Familia Books

Eric Bowen, Editor

PMB 326

1225 East Sunset Drive Suite 145

Bellingham, WA 98226

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Quarterly Update

Every three months or so, the president of the Great Books Foundation informs me that its time to send him a quarterly update, which basically means: summarize all the shit your department has been working on the past three months so that board members and have an inkling what it is you're doing. (The Production Department, which I run, is a department of one, by the way.)

I thought it was time for my own quarterly update. OK, that's not entirely accurate. I thought it was time to write one several weeks ago when I began to write this blog entry, while on the Amtrak train from Chicago to Kalamazoo for Cheryl and Brock's wedding.

I love train rides. Much nicer than planes. You're sitting in a comfortable seat, with all the room you need. You can watch the world fly by without a worry in the world. You can read if you like, or, since there's an outlet in every seat, you can also watch a DVD on your laptop.

And if you're like me, you can write. Which is what I did. After typing out a 1,000 good words for my book that morning, I thought I'd type out a bit of a entry for my blog.


Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the entry that day, and so, here we are, several weeks later represented rather sadly by ellipses above. Summer has said her farewells and we're in the midst of a brisk Chicago autumn. I feel as though there are so many things to talk about. Work. Marathon training. Paying off debts. Writing a book. Where to begin, where to begin?

I had a lot of fun this summer. Many good adventures. But as fun as they were, I cannot escape the fact that I'm getting older. I see it in my face, feel it in my body, and know it in my heart. Hangovers hurt more. Weight seems to be harder to shed. Work actually stresses me out. I can't read as fast as I used to. And for the first time that I can recall, I'm a little scared of this. Its been six years since I moved to Chicago. Six years. I don't want to to look back in another six and wonder why it is that I haven't grown up yet.

I don't feel older. I just feel more tired. In the past, when summer turned to fall I used to wonder what the next season's adventures would bring. Who I'd meet, what I'd do. Now everything just seems stagnant and the same. I used to think I still had time to learn to play guitar or maybe go out to Maine for a fall and live in a cabin. At 25, you still have the luxury of unrealistic dreams. Of inner fantasies that pass the time and make the mundane bearable. At 29, they seem to weigh heavier, to become burdens rather than escapes.

In fact, my three resolutions: 1. finish book 2. run marathon 3. pay off credit cards were created in large part to fight this growing fear.

Of course, the summer where I decide to run a marathon has to be the one where Chicago gets the worst heat wave its had in five years. God running in hot weather sucks! I'm naturally warm-blooded anyway, and the air was so humid this summer it felt like I was swimming instead of running.

And here's the thing, when my running mileage gets up there, its bloody HARD to find the energy to write.

I remember this happened round the same time when I trained for the marathon five years ago. Once I started running into the double digits on the weekends, all my creative writing basically went out the window. It was not until the marathon was over that I was able to get back in the saddle. I thought I was prepared this time to face that. And I was wrong.

Writing stories comes in such odd spurts for me. Everyone always spouts bullshit about waiting for the muse, and while that has some truth, (there definitely is a muse (who's awesome, btw)), the thing that no one likes to talk about and no one likes to hear is that it takes a lot of discipline, A fucking ton of discipline, actually, along with hard work, a bit of talent, and a smidgen of luck.

I'm usually lucky with stuff like that. Mostly. I think I have talent. A bit, anyway. The big problem is my creative discipline, which is about as dependable as a bipolar leprechaun on crack. Sometimes its there, in full force, jumping on my shoulder, shouting “GET 'ER DONE!” and other times its just gone. Probably in a back alley doing crack somewhere with the other leprechauns.

So I'll go for a week or two, writing most days, some decent, some amazing, some shitty. And then, I just... stop. Its as if it becomes terrifying and impossible to sit down and write. And this lasts for weeks. And that is sort of where I'm at right now.

The marathon is a few days away. I'm prepared for it. It actually should be almost fun. But I haven't written anything substantial in weeks.

So, I'm writing this to say that once I've ran it (and I will post about it) its time to shift back into writing mode. If you've seen a leprechaun running around with bloodshot eyes and powder around his mouth, please let me know.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I have lots of other updates I could post about, including how marathon training is going (decent), how my book is coming along (so-so), and how my debt-paying quest has gone (excellent, but problematic). And I will write posts about all of those things soon. Really, I will. I promise.

In the meantime, this past weekend after visiting Michigan to see both my family and Dave Williams' family (with a side of Egglestons), on Sunday my brother Sean, sister Nora, and I went to see the film Inception.

I think the mark of a great movie is one that stays with you, that you turn over in your head before going to sleep. Inception was certainly one of those for me. Nolan is a talented filmmaker with an excellent vision. Almost everything about the film is sleek and well-crafted.

After watching it, I've been sifting through various theories on the web about the film, seeing if there's anything I might have missed. (that is what the Internet is for, is it not?)

[Major Spoilers Ahead]

There are those who've watched the film and come away with the theory that the whole thing was a dream. I can see why. Because we are shown that the end may or may not be Cobb's dream, (which is a great ambiguous clincher), it's tempting to think, "Ooo, we don't see the top fall over. We don't know if Cobb's dreaming or not... Maybe, MAYBE the whole fucking film is a dream!"

In some ways, this is true. After all, it's a work of fiction and so it is a dream: on a meta-fictional level. By Nolan having his characters explain to each other (and the audience) the narrative tools that all fiction (film or otherwise) use, such as scene shifts and or lucky narrative events, etc., as simply the mechanics of how a shared dream works, he not only allows us to suspend our disbelief, but actually pulls the viewer in deeper by forcing them to wonder if the whole thing is a dream.

I mean, I thought it unlikely that Cillian Murphy's character would have so easily believed Cobb in the "hotel", but then I thought, "Well, the guy's in a dream of a dream. He's had several dozen projections of his subconscious security team killed, so he's probably not operating with a full deck at the moment." It's a narrative ploy that is both devious and effective. (in contrast, Nolan's Joker pulled off quite a few nigh-impossible feats, but our disbelief was just as suspended there because we could say "Its a comic book movie")

One can say, "but wait, who names their child Ariadne? That's obvious symbolism. She must be an aspect of his Jungian psyche! Same with Arthur. And what if Eames was a doctor? Then his name would be Dr. Eames!"

That's a little too obvious. Stories use archetypes. (that's why they're archetypes) Because of the exceptionally complex meta-juggling that Nolan is doing throughout the film, especially with his finale, it's difficult to sift through what in the film is a dream and what is simply a narrative device. I should add that I think that was done deliberately. That's what makes it fun. Nolan deliberately leaves it ambiguous enough so that you could debate the whole thing. Mal's attempt to seduce Cobb to stay in limbo by questioning his reality is another lie, but like all powerful lies, contains a grain of truth (since this is a fictional story). Her attempt to persuade him to stay serves a double-purposed of getting Cobb, as well as us, the audience, to question his reality.

However, the theory that the whole film is Cobb's dream fails to take into account the narrative moments in which Cobb has absolutely no part in: Saito waking up an a train in front of the Asian kid. Arthur training Ariadne on the Penrose staircase. Ariadne watching Cobb sleep. Arthur kissing Ariadne. Saito and Eame's interaction on the elevator. Arthur fighting a Spider-man-esque/Matrixy battle in the hotel. Eames going all James Bond on the skis. (Eames was awesome by the way)

So, I think that up until the end, it was all real (in that fictional world).

Now, after Cobb wakes up on the plane after rescuing Saito... I'm not so sure.

The remainder of the film did seem to have an ethereal quality to it, and seemed almost too perfect. But the maddening thing is: THAT'S HOW ALL FILMS END.

Think about the end of Ocean's 11. Or The Italian Job. Or any movie when a parent reunites with their children.

I could go either way, but I like to think that in the end, it was real, that Cobb succeeded and did reunite with his kids, after finally putting his guilt over his ex-wife to rest.

The fact that I felt moved enough to think about the film this much (I definitely plan on seeing it again) makes me enjoy it all the more. I'm glad that there are artists like Chris Nolan around, who aren't afraid to be unique, who aren't afraid to test the audience. Inception was a treat. One that I plan on experiencing again soon.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

after the vacations, a sign of maturity

So Costa Rica, my sister's graduation, and Las Vegas are all done. Thank God. I think its a sign of growing up that I still have some money in the bank after all that. Not a lot of money, mind you, and my plan to pay off the last of my credit cards has been set back by at least a month or two, but a few years ago I would have come back from a series of trips like that completely broke.

So yay for growing up. After working this weekend, I'll have the last part of the Vegas paid off, and its just smooth sailing of paying down CC debt from there.

You see, I gave myself three goals (you could call them resolutions--but I decided on them in March, not January 1st) for this year. 1. Finish writing the first draft of my book The Constable of Bridge 2. PAY OFF CREDIT CARDS 3. Run a marathon.

So far, each of these goals is actually proceeding along fairly smoothly. My writing has been fairly consistent and fun this past month or so, I've been prepping for my marathon training, which starts in June, and I've made some good strides forward to pay down debt.

Growing up is weird. Sometimes I'm half convinced that the key to being a successful grownup is to fool yourself into thinking that you enjoy hard work. Other times, I have this sneaking suspicion that everyone is faking it, no really has any idea what the hell they're doing, and adulthood has been this fabled myth that few actually achieve before they're 80.

I think I myself may have grown up a leetle bit these past few years. Certainly I don't blow all my money at bars the way I used to. I have more patience at work, more self-control at meetings. I have a much better ability to say no to my friends when they want to go out. I can focus on the task at hand a little better. Five years ago, when I did the Chicago marathon, that was all I had time for. I trained for that and worked at GBF and that was it. I couldn't find the energy or wherewithal to write. Now, I'm managing to juggle two jobs, writing, and marathon training. So yeah, hence my theory that growing up = fooling yourself into liking hard work.

Speaking of which, at the moment the blog entry is rapidly devolving an excuse not to work on my book, so I must end this entry before the demons of procrastination take too firm a hold...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"The Nature of My Game" story available

So I was informed last week by A. W. Gifford, editor of Ghostlight Magazine, the fiction magazine put out by Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers, that my short story "The Nature of My Game" was published this past fall in the premiere issue, Volume 1 Issue 1.

You can order a PDF version of the entire magazine ($4) or perfect-bound soft-cover print edition ($8.95 plus shipping) of the issue, which, along with my 1,000-word story, contains some great fiction and poetry. Here's the link. And here's a link to the page of other publications put out by GLAHW.

I'll also be adding the links to my publishing list on the right side of the blog. "The Nature of My Game" is quite a short story, one which I really enjoyed writing and now have a sort of amusing view on. Check it out, when you get a chance.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Un Sueño

In English, sueño means dream. Towards the end of my week in Costa Rica, while stopping for a cafecita (small cup of coffee) on our way back from Limon, our bus driver Randall (pronounced ren-DAHL) asked me how I enjoying Costa Rica thus far, to which I replied, "Es como un sueño."

Its like a dream. And my week in Costa Rica, in Santa Ana was dreamlike. There may be more buildings in Santa Ana now, more Ticos riding motocicletas, but the mountains have not changed, the amazing vistas are the same, the air still smells like summer.

The people also seem the same, especially my amazing old professor and his wife, Don Jorge and Doña Ana. Jorge is a reknowned opera singer, sociologist, author, carpenter, and environmentalist. He is, quite simply, the most interesting man alive.

Anyway, as I mentioned in my previous entry, my sister Nora has been studying there these past several months on the same program I did six years ago. My friend Matt and I decided to take a week's vacation and visit her group. I thought it would be a great chance to relive some of my "glory" days in Costa Rica, as well as catch up with some of my favorite professors. Also, Anna Eggleston, a dear friend of mine and fellow Costa Rica alum from my group was living in Santa Ana, which was an added bonus. (Anna and I were each other's partners in Salsa class--we were awesome)

I had a great time. Pura vida is how they say it in Costa Rica, and it was a week's worth of pura vida for me. We hiked through the mountains, planted trees for reforestation, did pottery, danced salsa, went snorkeling, ate delicious food, saw ancient ruins.

One of the best aspects of the trip were the people I was with. Nora is, of course, always fun to hang out with (hey, she's a Hurley!) as is Matt, and it was awesome to see Anna. But the rest of Nora's group were strangers to me, besides a little conversations I'd had with Nora about them on the phone. They are an amazing bunch of students, funny, kind, and always up for an adventure. I'm lucky to have met them.

Some of my favorite memories from the week were hiking up the mountains, then hiking back down in the dark, stopping at a bar called Buena Vista halfway down for the best beer, 80's music, and french fries ever, seeing a giant school of silver fish snorkeling, relaxing on a motor boat to an awesome view, relaxing at Jorge and Ana's awesome house, drinking games in the hotel, conversations with Gabriel, another awesome professor, in his class, the farewell party at the bar, and simply playing cards on the beach or chatting in a coffee shop. It may sound corny, but I felt truly blessed to have had this experience, to "relive" for one week one of my favorite semesters in college.

My week back in Costa Rica was una semana perfecta, a perfect week, almost too good to be true. And, like all the best dreams, it ended too quickly.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Links and things

I've been abominably lazy in keeping up with this blog. Without regular entries, I imagine its hard to keep regular readers. Therefore, I'm making a spring resolution to try and update the blog once a week.

We'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, things have happened in my life. St. Patrick's Day was fun, if rather inebriated. I had a lovely visit with my mother, father, and brother Sean over Easter. And I'm going to Costa Rica in less then a week, to visit my sister Nora, who is participating in the same study abroad program I did several years ago. I love reading her blog. She writes wonderfully and it gives me a marvelous sensation of deja vu.

Anyhow, the reason I've been remiss in my own blogging is that I've been working on my book, still tentatively titled The Constable of Bridge and is also going, more or less, well. I hope to finish the first draft (finally) by the end of this year.

I'm also doing the 2010 Chicago marathon. Which should be both fun and extremely stressful.

But enough about me, here are some links to images and videos I've come across the past few weeks that I thought would be fun to share:

This first image could be retitled "How Pat Operates in his Cubicle":

I love it! This second image I found on and really needs no explanation. (and only a leetle spelling correction) Its awesomeness explains itself:

Then there are two videos I found both educational and compelling. The first is an update on Epic 2014 (shown to me originally by my friend Andy Wilkerson), and is called Epic 2015. A few years old, but still terribly relevant I find:

The second is more about the movement of social media, a phenomena of which this blog is just a small droplet in a digital tsunami:

(the embedded video doesn't quite fit within my posting margins, so a better view of the video can be found here)

Here's a link to the great author Margaret Atwood's thoughts on Twitter.

Finally, for something beautiful and fun, a link to the animated advertisement for Neil Gaiman's lovely poem "Instructions," which is about what to do if you're caught in a fairy tale and is soon to be published in book form, illustrated by the amazing Charles Vess.

[ETA] Crap! I almost forgot about Neil Cameron's A TO Z OF AWESOMENESS, both educational and a fuckton of coolness.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Alan Moore can tell you why I tell stories

I just came across a brilliant clip on youtube taken from the documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore, in which Mr. Moore succinctly describes what he believes about magic and art:

Link here.

Suffice to say, I completely agree with everything he says. When I'm telling a story, I honestly have no idea where it comes from. But it feels powerful. It feels like something other. And it feels amazing. Magic is a good of an explanation as any, in fact, its the best I've heard. It rings true.

For those of you who don't know, Alan Moore is a brilliant, British, eccentric writer of comic books. He is considered to be, if not the best, one of the most best writers of comic books ever. His large body of work includes V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, and of course, the much-lauded Watchmen. His DC comic The Killing Joke gave me nightmares.

His video clip above gave me much food for thought.

ETA: and I have just finished Chapter 6 of my novel today, which I've been chipping away at all week!