Mark Matthews's Blog

October 28, 2014

At our house on Halloween you'll find a large bowl of candy out front with a sign saying "Take One Small Handful" or something similar while we are out trick-or-treating with the kids. We know full well that some over-aged trick-or-treater is going to pour the whole damn bowl right into their bag and keep walking. 

Welcome to my "Please Take One" Halloween grab. Below is a list of audiobook freebies. Please take one, or take one of both, and tell a friend to crash this place. If you try a code and it doesn't work, move on to the next. A review on amazon or audible when you are done makes good karmic sense. No tricks. All free. Check them out.

**Not into audiobooks? Well, if you want to knock at the front door, ( email me here ) I will provide a free amazon gift voucher to download MILK-BLOOD to everyone who emails me and requests one. Yep. Shoot me a message, write "MILK-BLOOD" in the subject line, and I will send you an amazon gift voucher for a FREE download on Halloween.

Now for the Audiobooks

**FREE Audiobook Download

1. Go to my book's page on  Chasing the Dragon: Running to Get High  
2. Add the audiobook to your cart.
3. Create a new account or log in with your amazon account
4.  Enter the promo code from below and click "Redeem" on the cart page.
5. To change the price from full price to $0.00, click the box next to "1 Credit" and click the "update" button to apply the credit to your purchase.
Complete checkout, and start listening to the free copy of the book.
The promo codes

1. U775DT3WJ47UN   2. 87ACHJPMTH3BA
4. 3LQ7BEJQ95LS4
5. 9YG9S48AT7SU5

**FREE Audiobook Download
Same directions as above, but use this link: MILK-BLOOD
The promo codes

5. 9D5R448UFEWET
7. 5H5SQU54Y5JPN
No codes left? Shoot me an email, I may have a few extra.  

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Published on October 28, 2014 09:58 • 7 views

October 25, 2014

Pen and Muse is a very cool, very friendly, writerly-type hang-out I'm happy to associate with. Last year, they put out the Dark Carnival writer showcase which is soon to be an anthology available on amazon.

This year, the theme is Haunted Houses. I am honored to have a story there today! Check it out.

 "No More Little Deaths" by Mark Matthews See what happens when a psychiatrist's date with a Pharmaceutical Rep gets interrupted by some suicidal poltergeists.

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Published on October 25, 2014 05:36 • 10 views

October 20, 2014

I ran a half marathon as part of the Detroit Free Press marathon yesterday, my second event in three weeks as an advocate for RUNWELL, and it was a perfect day. 
A huge thanks to those who donated for the cause, including bloggers Ty at TyRunman and Amanda at Miss Zippy . You helped fund treatment for an addict somewhere, and spread the cause of Runwell which uses the power of running to fight addiction throughout the globe.  For someone like me whose times are slowing and whose pains are growing, running for the cause is inspiring. I’d like to think I’m running to make a younger clone of myself somewhere, someone who can learn to stay sober and tap into something bigger than themselves like running to find a new joy in life. ( Do not fret, donations still being accepted ) Being able to run a massive event in my backyard was a great way to feel some communal energy. I typically run alone, so the contrast and feeding off the spirit of 30 thousand other runners was a pleasure.

Some Highlights
~The Expo. I jabber-jawed with plenty of folks. The expo is bigger than it was even 3 years ago when I signed copies of The Jade Rabbit at the Running Fit booth. I had a period where I disliked Expos, but I’m starting to like them again.
~A 10:30 am Race start. None of the 4:30 am menacing alarm noise. I could wake as usual, had time for coffee, the morning paper (yes the Free Press), see the family, and had time for that all important pre-race BM

~The Detroit River Front and Belle Isle. The perfect weather made the Detroit River glisten. And there is something cool about have a sun-reddened face after being outside on an October fall day. 

~Indian Village.  It’s a different dimension in there. Front yard parties, cook outs. Even a big cardboard brick wall with a doorway cut out and the words;  “break through the wall" written on top. Lots of beer is handed out on this part of the course,and I passed by with a smirk. If I’m gonna break 21 years of sobriety, it won’t be for you.

~Singing Frozen's “Let It Go” on Belle Isle. "My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around..."

~Hanging out at the finish watching families waiting anxiously for their loved ones, and then seeing them reunite. I saw one dad in tears after his daughter finished, which means more to me as a father now than when I first started marathoning.  

~Running an even pace, my last mile being the fastest, and being able to even run 13.1 miles after only running 10 miles in the last 20 days. 

Lowlights -A mad house. A MAD HOUSE. There was a Detroit Lions football game on the same day. People were lined up for miles as I left the city. Downtown was a mosh pit of cars, with pedestrians crowd surfing over the metal. Not sure how it works, but I got to believe the Freep has to pick the marathon date well before the NFL schedule comes out, and the NFL is too busy slapping the hands of wife-beaters to pay attention to such things. 

-Spectators saying the wrong things to walkers. Starting the event late meant the US half marathoners were running alongside the 5 hour marathoners, and plenty of them were the walking wounded the last few miles. I felt their pain, I’ve been there, and when I've done so, I hate hearing things like, “come on, just run a little bit, even slow.”  You think I wouldn’t if I could? I have been training for months, this moment is huge, I've already blasted past such pain just to be here, and you think I am choosing to walk now and not being forced by physics? The intent is encouragement, but the person feel worse, and I saw plenty of it. Walk alongside, say nothing, if you want to support. Also, running by and tapping a walker on the shoulder. Don’t do that. ARGGHHH!
~My chronic injury.  The adhesions in my leg ached, as I expected, and I had to walk them out and grind away so that my leg would work.  It felt like someone shot an arrow with a flaming tip into parts of my thigh. I persisted, coming to know what would get me threw, and did what was needed. It hurts to the touch today, but it was all worth it. 
I now expect to be event free until March of 2014. Until then, more specialized massages to grind out the scars, more acceptance of being an aging runner, and fattening myself up with some Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas fare. 
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Published on October 20, 2014 07:45 • 16 views

October 17, 2014

IT'S THE WEEKEND!!!!  (Que Arthur Penhallow) (Anyone know who Arthur Penhallow is?) 
It's always a great experience to have a huge marathon in your own back yard. Even if you are not running it, you can feel the presence in the air. The marathon holds special memories for me being my first.

This year, I am runing the half, and am doing so as a Runwell advocate. (Check out my donor page here and support if you wish.) Runwell is an organziation that taps into the power of the running lifestyle to fight addiction. It's a subject I could write a damn book on, and am glad to be part of it. My initial plan was to run a full marathon, but I had to break it down and run 2 half marathons with a 3 week break in between. Twenty one days after finishing the Brooksie Way Half Marathon, I will cross the finish line in Detroit on Sunday

I'm running the second half of the course this weekend, which is a new experience.

I fear I may become what I hate. In years past, when I was running the full marathon I would watch in dismay as fresh runners would pass me by. "Argghhh, you're part of the relay and just started running. I've been out here 3 hours," I would curse under my breath.

Well, this time, I shall be the fresh one, but I am not sure I'll be doing much passing. I've ran just twice since my last half marathon: One 4 miler and a 7 miler.  My adhesions (scar tissue in my leg, I've come to know as adhesions) have been throbbing and tightening and pulling on muscles of my thigh making it a tangled spider web of junk.

Whatever happens, I love lining up at the start on marathon morning. I love seeing all the runners in the state converge. Inevitably what happens is you see tons of familiar faces. The runners next to you are people who you will probably never talk to with names you will never know, but you recognize them by their face or their gait. You've seen them on your neighborhood streets running by, or running other events, and you've sweated by them side by side, hardly saying a word but sharing in the same experience. You don't' really need to say hello since you're already connected.

The event is special enough to me that it is featured in my second novel, The Jade Rabbit, the only novel in the history of all time to feature the Detroit Free Press marathon as the climax of the story. (this could easily be wrong, but, until its disputed, the comment remains).  Check it out on Amazon.

Hope to see you there on Sunday. I'll be in my Runwell gear. Running through the 'D', and feeling very cool for it.
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Published on October 17, 2014 06:27 • 10 views

October 13, 2014

Well, if The Walking Dead and American Horror Story were in a race, The Walking Dead just took off running at the start leaving AHS far behind.

Then again, maybe it's a marathon not a sprint (I tend to hate that expression).

Yesterday had plenty of action and enough of the human factor to make it the perfect start to the season. Walking Dead works best when its about the 'non-undead' and there's a morality play. When choices come out that determine who is human and who is savage and what happens to any sort of ethics when society collapses. The irony with last night's episode is that the Zombies were not the cannibals - they do not eat their own kind or hurt each other - but it was the humans who were the real monsters and fed off one another.

The quick back story blurb of Terminus gave you a bit of understanding for them at the end. And who didn't cry a bit when Darryl gave Carol such a hug. 

[image error]

The Zombie gore does little for me. When I see a brain splattering scene, I figure that's just token blood to appease a certain section of the audience every once in a while. Then again, the blood in the trough added to the human terror of being treated like cattle to the butcher.

Other random complaints: I  hate that the zombies make noises. That shouldn't happen, especially when their jaws are split open. I also hate how they use hats. First, the awkward sheriff hat, and now the warm, knit cap that Tyrese wears while everyone else is full of sweat.

It was good stuff though. Well written, smart enough for your brain, human enough for your heart, and fun enough to make Sunday nights a little better.

MILK-BLOOD is on a Kindle Countdown deal. As of 3 pm today, it will be $1.99 and stay there for the rest of the week. 

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Published on October 13, 2014 07:58 • 11 views

October 9, 2014

If it's October, it must be time for American Horror Story.  I loved the first season, thought the second season was cliche, and the third season made my jaw drop at so many dramatic moments. Shortly after Stevie Nicks showed up, I found it unwatchable. Now its time for the Freak Show.

Last night's episode had such cool moments and relied on stunning visuals more than storyline. The opening credits were perhaps the most visually fantastic yet.  Much of it was what you would expect from a group of estranged carnies living in a freak show. "Don't call us FREAKs ARRRGHHHH!!!".

Perhaps most noteworthy is the two-headed woman, sisters living in one body, who have differing personalities that compete with each other. You can see the inevitable jealousy filled love triangle developing with genetically equipped Lobster Boy. 

James Dean. Rebel with Lobster Hands. And I know how to use them [image error]"No, he's winking at me!" Never found clowns scary, but this AHS clown was certainly the creepiest thing yet in a show that relied on the creepy factor. He had a certain leatherface appeal. Elsa singing "Life on Mars" was perhaps the most human, accessible moment by a character who knows how to bleed with fragility under the shell of strength.

I'm in for the next episode. You know its gonna get stranger, so let's get on with the show.

But, you don't have to wait for next Wednesday. You can read all about a DARK CARNIVAL, coming soon for free! (With a story inside by me and tons of other fantastic writers)  Pen and Muse Press is putting out their Dark Carnival anthology this month, and it will be available soon. 
Click here to add it on Goodreads.
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Published on October 09, 2014 06:50 • 27 views

October 6, 2014

Ever since I finished On the Lips of Children , I've been aching to go back to San Diego and recreate the dark trail run I took one morning at 4:30 am. My thoughts on this run are what gave birth to the novel. I certainly would have gone back there by now, but it's a bit far away to make happen.

Well, I don't have to go so far to hang out at the scene of MILK-BLOOD .  MILK-BLOOD takes place on the east side of Detroit. A place where stray dogs recently mauled a man. The dogs were owned by a squatter who had made his home in a vacant house. Those squatters. They can be dangerous. Check out this youtube video for a glimpse of the neighborhood.

So much of the feedback I have received on the novel is how extreme it is. I like to think this is due to the writing which evokes the tone and feel of the place, and not for the actual content, for, if anything, much of it is understated. The poverty, blight, and despair is actually much worse. The nature of addiction that runs through the veins of the street is more rampant. I do have empathy for every single soul born in the area, and I hope it shows in the book.

Disclaimer: Detroit is a wonderful city, pockets of incredible art, the best theater district outside of Broadway ( don't believe me? check here ) Wayne State University and Center for Creative Arts are fantastic places (I started a Phd program at Wayne State, but, alas, I'm a PhD school drop out). On a Friday or Saturday night, with the baseball game letting out, bars spilling out into the street, positive vibes in the air, it feels like Chicago. Real estate is hard to find downtown, and it's only going to get  better. 

The place is a tale of two cities, for some neighborhoods are indeed as bad as you've heard. War zones, bombed out, boarded up, and with every drug you can think of for sale if you risk getting your ass beat. I've work with people everyday who are beaten, robbed, who have been taken hostage in crack houses and forced to give up their atm pin numbers (there's more to that, but... that's all I will say  )

With all that misery, there's bound to be some powerful, ghostly spirits who still walk about the place.

So, who's in? Let's go trick or treating down MILK-BLOOD street. October 31st at dusk. See you there.

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Published on October 06, 2014 08:21 • 8 views

October 3, 2014

(A post regurgitated from October, 2012)

Part of the magic of running is the chance to experience the changes in the seasons.  The running motion remains the same, but the scenery, the air you breathe, and all the wonderful things you soak into your body cycle. The cold air of winter makes your cheeks red and icicles form on your eyebrows. Then the warmth of spring sucks the tulips from the ground and thaws out your muscles. Soon enough, the scorching heat of a mid-day summer run makes the grey matter in your brain boil with joy. And now, perhaps the best running season of all, Autumn, where the air is brisk, and the earth is metamorphosing all around us.

Autumn running is perhaps the best, but are we there yet? Sure, the calender says it starts on September 22nd or something, but....
When does fall officially begin?
The first day you put on a long sleeve shirt to run in?
When the first brown leaf falls from its branch, and zig-zags down to the grass?
When you wave to the bus full of kids, two of them being your own, and they're off for their first day of school?

When the brisk air of a Saturday makes you hear college football fight songs in the air?
The first snap of a NFL game and the hills are alive with the sound of fantasy football geeks everywhere?
When you start marking your calendar trying to hit all those 20 mile marathon-training runs sponsored by local shoe stores?
When Target clears out a special row for Halloween costumes?  When you buy a bag of Halloween candy from Target, but then open it up and eat it a month early?
When the grass finally stops growing and the mower hibernates?
When you finally wear those running tights or put on those dollar store pair of running gloves?
When you don’t have to worry about the humidity and heat of running at one o'clock on Saturday?
When the first episode of Modern Family, or American Horror Story, or The Walking Dead finally air? (shows I"m looking forward to)
When your lungs breath in air cold enough to make them burn, and  can see your breath in the morning, and you remember how, as a child, you'd pretend you were blowing out smoke?
When the apples become more delicious, and the apple orchards become fantastic sugarlands of doughnuts and cider?
When all around you, the green leaves explode to a brilliant color burst before slowly dying and descending to earth. There they lay, readying themselves for an even deader winter, frozen in cryogenics, waiting for a warm spring to bring them back to life? 
Okay, that last one was waxing poetic and waxing pretty bad. Here are what minds much greater and poetic than mine have said about this glorious season: 
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. 
George Eliot

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower. 
Albert Camus
I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air. 
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost

Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.  
David Letterman

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.  
Stanley Horowitz

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.  
William Cullen Bryant

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Published on October 03, 2014 08:10 • 22 views

September 29, 2014

I ran the Brooksie Way Half Marathon yesterday, and I am so glad I did. I have heard this is a 'must run' race, and finally see why. Many half-marathons try to dress themselves up with the grandeur of a marathon, but simply can't match the spectacle.   This one is different. From the staging area to the course to the crowd support to just the general positive vibes of the event, this may now be my favorite half-marathon.

Certainly helped that it was a perfectly sunny day, no wind, probably 60 degrees the whole time. The course is partly on a wide, dirt trail, which was easier on the feet and felt like a trail run in the middle of a wonderful suburbia landscape. There was enough crowd support to feed off of, way more aid stations than was really needed, (even for a hotter than normal day) and the course was challenging enough to eat you up if you did not pace right. In fact, on one hill, 90% of the runners busted into a walk. You had to hunch over to make it and run nearly on all fours. Steepest hill I've ever ran in an event.

Most unusual sign I saw on the course: " Imagine A World Without Malaria ."  I am all for that, don't get me wrong, but, was this a call to action? hmmmm. A much more understandable sign read " Run Fast, I Just Farted " which I understood completely. A ten year old boy smirked behind the sign, and I saw some Baked Bean stains on his shirt from last night's meal.

The half-marathon was my first event as an advocate for Runwell, and I got the chance to talk to a few folks about what they do. It is nice to be able to not only explain the cause, but how it is also personal to me as someone who is in recovery from addiction, and how running plays an essential role in keeping me sober and loving life.

Want to become an advocate? Ask me how, and I shall tell you.
  Pre-Race with Bib
The shirts are pretty flashy, have a bit of a European Biker team flair, and I felt cool wearing it (which is what counts) and cooler yet running for the cause. Being wrapped up in the Runwell flag reminded me that I am running for the high of it, for the joy it brings to my life and I felt great to be alive for one hour and fifty-seven minutes of the race. The runners high came to me like an old familiar friend, letting my spirit transcend my body for a bit, and then returning to its rightful place shortly after the finish.  

Once in a while, like every good buzz, I do get a flashback.

Attached to my bib while I ran the race was a FREE BEER coupon. Yep. Every runner got them, and got to exchange them for a free beer at the beer tent. The irony dripped like sweat from my brow. I do not begrudge anyone who enjoys a beer at the end. It makes perfect sense. The addiction in me can still taste how a beer would hit some sweet spots. Of course, if I were to join you, I would take the whole beer tent hostage. This is not the first event where relapse waited at the finish, but fortunately, I do not partake, and am there for only one kind of buzz. Bottoms up.

My time was a personal worst, but, really a personal triumph. I am in a new age of running, and not just being an older fart, but a wounded one. I have run just two times in the last 18 days, have more work to do to in order to deal with the evil doings in my legs, so paced this wonderfully and kicked it out at the end. Last 3 miles were my fastest, including an Eminem inspired 7:40 mile.

Without a real time goal, I did plan to photobomb the finishing photo of Detroit Runner, that famous blogger dude who runs every race in Michigan and has clones in order to do so. He slipped in front of me somewhere, I think during my port-a-potty stop, and I failed by 165 seconds. My next chance would be to somehow bandit his 50k race coming up in two weeks. Stay tuned.

Like any splendid event, I know that the time I spent running it is the best I will feel all week. I do it all again in the Detroit Free Press US only half in 20 days. 

(If you want to drop a five spot or more into the RUNWELL cause. Check out my donor page here. )

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Published on September 29, 2014 08:37 • 10 views

September 26, 2014

Ah, it's the weekend. Of course, life (and weekends) are what happen to you while you are busy making other plans. Here's what I might do with my time:

It is one of the premier half marathons in the state of Michigan. Scenic. Hilly. Huge numbers. Plus, I have recently had to defer January's Disney Marathon due to a variety of reasons: medical advice, family complications, logistical nightmares: all of it collided on me. I added the Detroit Free Press Marathon, US only, but want to also run through the hills of Rochester, Michigan, in the Brooksie way as a walking billboard for a wonderful cause: RUNWELL. Runwell is an organization who supports recovery from addiction through the power of running. I've got a cool t-shirt and hat to wear for the event, and I'm gladly accepting donations for the cause here.

Why 'might'
NIFR (not even fuckin registered) I was waiting until the last second to do so online. The way chaos blows me (or perhaps it is I who causes the chaos) who knows what might happen. The website said 9/26 was the last day to register online, far as I could read. Now it says online registration is closed. I have to get to the expo to register. That ain't so easy.
Hey!! Don't start without me!

2. RUNNING AWAY, by Julie Hutchings
Julie is a writer friend from Books of the Dead Press and is simply cool as hell. Running Away is the sequel to Running Home, a vampire trilogy that reshapes the vampire myth in a unique and intriguing way. I loved the first book, and Running Away's release date is today.  I'm eager to jump all over it, and I hope you check it out too.

Why 'might'
With her fan base, following, and street team, the book is surely to be sold out on day one. It's already after 9 am, and readers have been waiting outside in line like it's the iphone 6, trying to get their beady little eyeballs onto the pages.  Wait, digital copies! An endless supply! No waiting! No need to go to the Expo! One click and BAMN. What a world this is.

How perfect. Back stories on all the Gotham characters. How cool is that. Everyone is the hero of their own story, everyone has an origin, all our issues and evil traits and special powers and obsessions for justice in life come from something, and Gotham is about to tell that story and add to the Batman mythos.

-Why  'might'
After missing the premier on Monday, I watched the first half 'on-demand' last night. The cinematography was amazing, but the story did little for me. I turned it off way too easy. I may finish, and the second half may hook me yet, but as of now the urge is low.
 As far as I'm concerned, THIS is the Batman origin story

Pen and Muse is a website and meeting place for writers, and they are having a month of October haunted house themed collection of stories. I eagerly signed up to contribute a story. I wrote a story, but it ended up being for Grey Matter Press. I wrote another story, and it ended up being just as deliciously twisted. The works is done, but the sentences are scattered about like pieces of grass on the sidewalk after you mow the lawn. In other words, I need to sweep away the leftovers and give it an edit.

Why 'might'
Because I am a procrastinating moron (see number 1 above), because I often have this thing inside me that needs to 'click' in order to write (and edit), and I don't always feel like I have power over it. Because Pen and Muse may have put me on ignore for being so god-damn late. Because I may get called a psycho-path for the strange things inside the story and it should perhaps remain safely on my hard-drive.

There you have it, four things for the weekend.


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Published on September 26, 2014 07:10 • 3 views