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Tim Gallen is friend of mine. Working as as a journalist, he dreamt of being an author. That dream has come true for him with his first published novella, Niscene’s Creed. He lives in Phoenix with his wife, Nicole, and dog, Stella.

1. How long have you been writing?

Well, I knew I wanted to be a writer since high school. And I did some in college, but I suffered from a terrible lifelong case of perfectionism, so I hardly completed anything I started. Long story short, though, in more recent years, I’ve been writing fairly regularly since 2012.

2. Did you always know you wanted to write?

I remember always enjoying writing time as far back as second grade, but I didn’t really consider being a writer until high school when I wrote a novel for a project. So, to answer the question: I didn’t really think much about it until I was a teenager.

3. Is fantasy your favorite genre?

Yes, fantasy is my favorite genre. It’s kind of a funny thing because I didn’t really read too much fantasy until the past decade or so when I fell in love with the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. But I always have kind of dabbled in the fantasy genre when I’ve written. I also enjoy young adult novels. Kind of crazy combination, I know. But I think it’s because most of the time, I still feel like I’m 18 and trying to figure out the world.

4. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’m kind of weird in that I don’t really have favorite authors, per se. If the story is compelling and sounds interesting and is written well, I’ll give it a try. That’s not to say there aren’t a few authors whose work I’m fond of and will pick up something by them just because it has their name on it: George RR Martin (naturally), Robert Jordan (though, you know, he’s dead), Orson Scott Card (one of the greatest writers ever) to just name a few.

5. Where do you get your ideas? (Kidding!)

I know you said you were kidding, but I’ll answer anyway. I get most of my ideas from reading other books, honestly. Steal like an artist and all that.

6. What is the genesis of Niscene’s Creed? When did you first get the kernel that germinated into this, your first novella?

Niscene’s Creed has its origins in a few places. I first met/created Niscene about four years ago when I had begun reading George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I set out wanting to write a story with an ensemble cast of characters, but make all of them members of this shadowy league of assassins. Well, as things tend to do, the story evolved and changed and I discovered another non-assassin character whom I fell in love with. But I always liked Niscene. Namely because she’s so vicious. Then, when I started blogging in 2012, I started a weekly fiction serial on Fridays, and I started with Niscene and telling the story of her first kill as a member of this assassins group. So, essentially, that serial grew into the novella. And it serves as an introduction of sorts, not only to Niscene but to this fantasy world of mine and this evolving epic story I wish to tell. I could keep going but I probably wouldn’t stop then.

7. Understanding that Niscene’s Creed isn’t a religious work, what made you use that title/name specifically? You are aware that the Nicene Creed is a well-known, historic profession of faith used in Christian liturgy, right? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed) Are you concerned that theologically conservative readers may confuse your book for something other than it is?

Being a pastor’s son and church-goer, I’m well aware of the Nicene Creed (I believe in God the father, almighty, creator of heaven and earth…). But that familiarity has nothing to do with the title of my novella. It’s just a funny coincidence and a slight pun. Though, in the world of the novel, it’s not a pun at all, since, you know, it’s a fantasy world. The title actually was kind of tough. But the story begins with Niscene reciting this oath. Essentially, she’s being sworn into this group of assassins. And the words of the oath kind of haunt her throughout the novella and serve as a motivating device to push her to certain actions. In essence, the oath is her new creed in life. Thus, Niscene’s Creed seemed like a decent title. As far as if overly religious people come across my book, see the title, and think it is something to do with Christianity, well, I’m not too worried about it. I mean, the cover has a woman kissing another woman’s hand and, while they’re not particularly scantily clad, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory that this particular book has nothing to do with espousing one’s belief in the Holy Trinity. Of course, if someone does happen to read it thinking it was something else, I look forward to the undoubtedly hilarious email or review on Amazon I will receive.

8. What’s ahead for Tim Gallen? Any future works you can tell us about?

What’s ahead? Well, I’ve always got like a billion things going on in my head at any one moment. Seriously, it’s all kinds of crazy up there. I’ve a few snippets here and there of what may become the direct sequel to Niscene’s Creed. The ending serves as a pretty good lead-in to a second book. And as I said above, NC serves as the introduction to these characters and this world. And there’s a lot more to come. But I also have another story about unicorns that I’m working on that I’m totally psyched about. Yes, unicorns. And it’s gonna be awesome. Honestly, I am likely going to finish that before any direct sequel to NC, though anything can happen.

You can find Tim online at TimGallen.com, and his debut novella, Niscene’s Creed is available on Amazon in both paperback, and ebook, formats by clicking here.

This year, my favorite Christmas present wasn’t a gizmo, a gadget, a phone, or some other compellingly cool technological marvel.

I didn’t get:

An Amazon FireTV

An AppleTV

A new laptop

Or even any books (e, or otherwise).

No, my favorite gift this year was from my eight-year-old daughter (with an assist from mom, who took her shopping), and uses technology that’s been around for centuries.

While the other things would have been nice, displaying a knowledge of the things I like (and would have been appreciated), what I got shows me just how special I am to a certain little.

It shows me how loved I am.

It’s not really even so much the gift itself as it is the sentiment behind it. So just what is this magical gift?

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Just a couple of bracelets–which happen to mean the world to me. Thank-you, Bella, daddy will wear them with pride.

Love you.

I have a confession to make: I’m a middle aged white guy. Appatently, this is supposed to somehow make my life easier, and/or it’s something I should feel guilty for.

Funny thing is, I born this way. I didn’t choose my parents, or my ancestry. In fact, if my mother is to believed (and why would you tell your adult child this?) my folks were actively using contraception when I was conceived. Lucky for me, this was before Roe v. Wade. But I digress.

Being white didn’t seem to automatically confer upon me some magical privileged status. I come from a home where my dad (again one those things I found out after the fact) cheated on my mom for fourteen out of their sixteen years of marriage. How’s that for a role model? Additionally, the older I got the more distant he became. He didn’t have the tools in his toolbox to see past his pain. When he finally left, I told my mom that didn’t feel like anyhting much had changed.

He was a ghost before he was gone.

Being white didn’t make growing up without a meaningful male authority figure any easier. In fact, if anything, it made it harder. I had to navigate puberty, teasing, bullying on my own. Sure, I grew up in the suburbs. My circumstances may have been more physically comfortable, but his leaving made my brother and I latchkey kids. Because my dad left, we effectively lost our mom, too. She had work two, and sometimes three, jobs just to keep us under the same roof.

But it may have been better if we had had more time together. If we had downsized, had moved to new place instead. Forged a new life together instead of trying to hold onto the old. Because it was already gone. My address may have been in the suburbs, but my upbringing was an emotional ghetto. To this day, I may well have attachment issues I’m completely unaware of. In fact, I do indeed have great difficulty making friendships, bonding, expressing my emotions.

To do this day, my relationship with my mom is strained, and with my dad nonexistent.

I don’t know the answer to all of this, but I do know growing up white didn’t give me any special privileges, open any doors, or make my life better in any way that mattered. In fact, I was forced to grow up faster, and I and my family have the price in recent years of a delayed adolescence.

I realize this may not be everyone’s experience, but it was mine–and it was altogether too real. So please don’t tell me that the mere fact of my skin color conferred upon me a better life. I might just laugh in your face if you do.

How about you? Has your skin color made you life any better, or worse? Sound off below.

There are companies out there that care about their customers. That value the goodwill of their customers. Who understand that choosing them over their competition is more than a business transaction.

It’s a relationship.

DirecTV is not one of those companies. How do I know? Let me count show the ways.

My wife and I are DirecTV customers. Have been for over a year-and-a-half. We have paid them a godly sum in that time to enjoy their programming. Last Monday evening, we noticed some playback errors during one of our favorite shows, Castle. At the time, we didn’t think much of it, writing it off as a broadcast glitch. Between then, and Sunday evening (the fifth of October), we didn’t notice any other errors. But that night when I settled in to watch the season finale of The Strain, the Genie Minis were indicating that a “server could not be found.” Strange, I thought.  
Going downstairs to check on it, I turned the T.V., and was greeted with:

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(Disclosure: I took this picture the following morning; on Sunday night, there were 16 errors).

Being in the tech industry, I knew that the errors referred to were disk errors. Which meant that the drive in the DVR was on its way out. I let DirecTV know. They’re sending replacement.  Well and good.

What’s not so good is that it’s 2014, and they’re not doing a thing to help me save the existing recorded content. Despite the fact that there are indeed ways to do it.

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This is stuff that I’ve paid for the privilege of watching. And now, according to DirecTV, I won’t be able to.

What’s particularly galling to me is that we have a brief window of opportunity to move content off of their failing equipment (it’s leased), and they won’t even send me a Genie Go to at least preserve that stuff for a month:

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Way to stand behind your equipment, DirecTV! Kudos for your customer service. I can see that you value having My family and I as customers…

Not so much.

This is where things stand now. It’s what, in an earlier day, would have been termed a “Mexican standoff.” I won’t budge, they won’t budge. I guess they don’t know (or appreciate) the power of social media. Remember Comcast,  folks? And that support call from the nether regions?

Let’s make this go viral, too.

Here’s a hashtag: #DIrecTVdotherightthing

Can you help men out? Share this post on:

Twitter

Facebook

Google+

Let’s let DirecTV that shoddy customer service is unacceptable in 2014.

Thanks!

I’m sure it’s a thing, white privilege. One need look no further than, say, Donald Sterling to know that there’s something very wrong with the world, that systemic racism exists.

That white privilege is a thing.

But don’t talk to me, a white guy, about it. Because white privilege, insofar as I can tell, never did a damn thing for me.

Let me explain.

Behind the middle class fačade, was an empty home. A home devoid of any real sense of security, or love. Emotionally distant, and uninvolved, my dad couldn’t keep it in his pants, “screwing around” on my mom for fourteen out of sixteen years. And my mom? When he left, she had to take on two, and sometimes three, jobs to keep us fed, and a roof over our heads.

The net effect is that I lost both parents.

While there may in fact have been more creature comforts, I was still latchkey. I came home to an empty house day in and day out. Left to my own devices, I didn’t get into drugs, but rather porn. Nobody cared.

Nobody cared when the centerfolds went up on my bedroom wall. They just closed my door, and pretended they weren’t there. There was no dad, or father figure, to tell me that women were not objects, or hos, that existed just for me. Nobody cared when I stayed up late at night, watching the racy movies.

I was, by and large, ignored.

Like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, I was ignored. Until I fucked up, that is. Then it was all OMG! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?

But even then it was mostly bark, no bite. People couldn’t bother to really care. I mean my mom once took my cigarettes away, saying she didn’t want me to smoke. She hid them literally on front of face, like I wouldn’t retrieve them almost immediately.

The list goes on. The greatest travesty of my upbringing was that it was virtually consequence-free: there were no real boundaries, and thus no real, tangible, sense of love…

Wait. I can recall one thing that white privilege gave me:

My mom, the counselor, threw me an eighteenth birthday party. She and her boyfriend vacated the house so I could have friends over. Did I mention that she brought me along with her to the videostore to rent pornos? Yep, she did. And she, the youth diversion coordinator, also supplied all the booze we could drink, including hiding a bottle of Southern Comfort in my bed.

Lucky me, right?

So there’s my white privilege upbringing,  people. Didn’t, and still doesn’t, feel very privileged to me. To this day, my relationship with mom is strained; and with my dad, it’s nonexistant.

Divorce and dysfunction hath it’s privileges, eh?