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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Walking Down New Roads with Smoldering Remains Behind Me


15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
    falls into the pit they have made.
16 The trouble they cause recoils on them;
    their violence comes down on their own heads.
- Psalm 7: 15-16

There was a recent schism (if I'm using that word right) in my church: a multi-site organization with locations, for the most part, around the northeast. A decision was made to fire our local pastor, even though our specific location was one of the healthiest in the organization and the pastor an amazing shepherd to his people. A lot of questionable behavior from the central leadership followed as they tried to prevent the mass exodus which eventually happened anyway. Our local church bled well over half of its membership to become a shadow of what it once was, formerly a growing, spirit filled congregation open to everyone and worshiping with bursting joy in community. The new local pastor is a nice guy with a big heart, and the people staying on are committed to working with him to rebuild, and I pray that his church will grow under him, I really do. I'll watch from the sidelines, however, as I myself have stepped away.

That itself was a hard thing to do. I'm not good at endings, but like someone who sees how his food is actually prepared in a favorite restaurant, and after many months of prayerful consideration, I felt obliged to. It still took a while, because I was in charge of what was called the "production" team and truly loved the people there who come in early to setup, run the lights and video and sound, and did not want to leave them. In the end, central management, the new pastor and I came to an agreement and just prior to me leaving for Spain for vacation (see earlier entry) we parted ways amicably. I told each team member (those still there), and people were sad but understood.

Why the verses up top? Well, after writing a 1200-word rant then deleting most of it, I trimmed it down and posted the main point on my devotional page, but in short, every organization working for the kingdom, be it a church or charity or what have you, survives only when it keeps its perspective upward, stays humble and grateful for the chance to serve, and its leaders never forget they are not the hinges upon which the door of their efforts swing. Sorry, not the best metaphor but I liked how it looked in my head.

The unofficial tagline for my novel Plague of Darkness is that secrets never stay buried forever. In the above verses, if you dig a large hole, you end up stuck in it like Mike Mulligan and his trusty steam shovel Maryanne, or at the very least you fall back into it at some point. The latter is usually what we humans end up doing. There's accountability for every action we perform, good or bad and whether we think we've hidden it or not.

A significant moment for me was during a date with my wife, Linda. We told each other pretty much all of our deepest, darkest secrets, stuff we hadn't told anyone before. Coming out of that, it was like the world was suddenly open like never before. So much metaphorical weight lifted from our chests. There's a song from the band Tenth Avenue North which goes

You told me secrets nobody had known
But I never loved you more, even though
Now I know what you did.

To climb out of the holes our own actions have dug, to break bad habits and patterns in our lives, we need others to be brought into the game. After years of trying to quit smoking, I succeeded only when I told people others what I was doing, and asked them to keep me honest. I think about what they might say if I start again. Being reminded that what we do has an impact on other people is a strong deterrent to bad behavior.

Sometimes because of this, we try to hide our secrets. That opens the door for our spiritual enemy (call him/it what you will) to work against us. Most major church movements start out honestly, humbly doing the work of the Spirit here on earth and perhaps growing in size and influence, not that this is an important attribute of a church, but that's a topic for another day. At some point, if we're not careful (and often we are not because we're a prideful bunch) the enemy will do what he always does: get us to destroy it all by ourselves. Pastors have affairs that shatter illusions of the people they serve. Church leadership becomes so obsessed with money that every sermon brings the subject up in some way, rather than putting more trust in God's provision. Preachers see themselves as deserving accolades and reverence, instead of serving humbly every day and being grateful for the opportunity to speak and teach. Obsessing over details, trying to control everything, rather than trust. So often in scripture Jesus warns us to stay humble, that the proud will fall. Or, in the words of Han Solo, "Don't get cocky."

Pride, and control. A lot of these potential holes can be avoided by putting guardrails in place, not least of which is being open and transparent with other leaders and even the congregation.

There's a lot more to talk about and I will over the next few weeks. When "going to church" has become so central to one's life, what happens when that man-made structure and organization is yanked away from you? My relationship with Jesus is still strong –as strong as it has been, at least, there's always room for improvement. Like my friend Marty, the aforementioned local pastor who after twenty years is on the same road (more so since "church" is what he has done twenty-four hours a day for most of his life), I'm walking down whatever road(s) the Lord lays before me and discovering what "doing church" can mean outside of the box we are constantly trying to shove God into.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Took 25 Years to Finally Look Inside

About 25 years ago, the Catholic church I attended (St George n Worcester) hosted a Maryknoll priest and we began giving money to their mission outreach each month. Saw no reason to ever stop, they do good work, but every quarter they send their little magazine. In 25 years I never read a single article, just tossed it. Been going through this season of drifting (and yes, rest) without a church home (a story for another time, soon) and picked up the latest newsletter, decided to read it. Some pretty amazing stuff. This is a short article I just read which seems quite timely for me (and maybe some of you) to read. Check out the article here: "Even when we feel far from God, God never leaves us."

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Fear is the Mind Killer


My wife Linda and two of our children visited friends Marty and Carie Holman (and their 4 young kids) for a week in Valencia, Spain last week. Marty, during his month-long stay in Spain which was one-part vacation, one-part sabbatical, had been writing daily updates on Facebook of his experiences traveling in a new country with his family. He asked me to write some final thoughts on our own trip which he then posted as day 25 of his story:

=====================================================

The moment my wife Linda heard that that the Holmans were traveling to Valencia, Spain for a month, there was no question in her mind we were going to Spain for a week to visit them. I thought it was the wackiest idea she'd ever had and did my best to forget how these ideas of hers usually end up pretty darn good times. Everyone knows Spain is a backwoods country riddled with crime and swarming with ‘ne-er do wells’ just waiting to snatch away children and lash out with rusty sabers in the marketplace.

Yes, I watch too many old movies, and was probably mixing up Spain with early 20th century Istanbul.

Often, if I'm asked to step out of my comfort zone I will invariably fight back. I know my world well: which step creaks at night, where the dogs go when they run away, where the bathroom is, and even how to say "bathroom" which is kind of important after a good almuerzo! Fear will whisper to us that "new" equates to "bad."

God does not call us to have a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). Linda, on the other hand, has no such qualms about stepping into new experiences and seeing new things. This fearlessness has rubbed off on me a little. Even so, when an opportunity like this arises, my first reaction is to metaphorically curl up into a ball and shout, "No, no, no!"

Not counting trips to Canada and Mexico, 80% of Americans have never left their native country (based on State Department statistics, the percentage of people who own a passport and average number of trips US citizens have taken to non-neighboring countries over last ten years, and a wild guess). Aside from Canada and four trips "the countries" at Disney's Epcot, I've never left the United States. Suddenly we're talking about traveling with our two youngest children to a spanish city that I'd never heard of? I don't even speak Español!

Granted, my two oldest daughters visited Barcelona, Spain a couple of years before and did not return screaming in terror. In fact, They had a wonderful time.

After crunching the numbers and deciding we could (just) swing this financially, I had two options before me: 1) stay where I was and not personally experience the rest of civilization around me, claim as I do to be open to other cultures; or 2) step out of the boat and trust mine is not the only corner of the world worth standing in.


In the end we had an amazing time, posted pictures and videos from Valencia and perhaps learned some valuable lessons along the way, not the least of which is that the rest the world has an overflowing sense of beauty and culture and chocolate croissants and piña juice to share with us if we're willing to stop listening to fear and take a step of faith. Spain isn't perfect, but neither are the walls of our own home. Being cautious and wise is a good thing – an important part of survival, in fact. Now and then, however, you have to uncurl from the fear and trust God has a lot more of life to show you than what you can see today.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

My Top Movies of 2018

Ok, so it's time for my Top 10 Movies of 2018! Click here to see what I liked. Also, in honor of the late Cinema Knife Fight, check out L. L. Soares' and Michael Arruda's lists!


Monday, January 07, 2019

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) - My Long-Awaited, 50th Anniversary, Three-Part Review is Now Showing!

Well, I mention the film enough times in other reviews, and knew that someday I would need to write a review for this 50-year old, polarizing science fiction epic. What I call epic, most in my family refer to as "the slow movie." Still, it unarguably changed the game for the sci-fi genre in cinema with its scope and special effects. At last, come on in and join the discussion of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), which is still one the best of its genre ever released. Completely brain-wonky ending aside, of course. Read the three-part conversation on my reviews website here.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Books Read in 2018


It’s time again to clear out my Books Read section of the website for the new year, but before I do, let’s save it for posterity in a post, shall we?

I didn’t read as many books in 2018 as usual, though I still covered decent ground. One reason is I’d started , then put down more than my usual share of books. If a book doesn’t grab me by the quarter-read mark, I generally put it down and start a new one. There are too many waiting to be read next. For example, I’d been wanting to pick up a new Terri Blackstock for years, and Last Light was one that started out intriguing enough, about an EMP (I assume) that knocks out power everywhere. Though the writing was good, as always, the main characters were so unlikable it was too wearisome to live in their world any longer. I was enjoying The Hideaway by Lauren Denton, but about halfway realized it was a romance novel and I simply wasn’t engaged in the story and its pace (romance novels aren’t my thing), though I do understand why this book was a big seller. Some classics, like the original Casino Royale (James Bond #1) by Ian Fleming or the next Perry Rhodan (volume 4) honestly weren’t that good, or simply so dated it interfered with my enjoyment of them, so I stopped.

Then what did I like? On the fiction front, a couple of my favorites were happily by a friends in the business, which is always nice (they did not make this list because I knew them, though, trust me). Christopher Golden’s contribution to the Alien franchise: Alien: River of Pain which shows us what happened at the Hadley’s Hope research station on LV-426, before Ripley and the marines arrived in ALIENS (1986), was heartbreakingly awesome. I also finished the Seven Forges fantasy series with The Silent Army: Seven Forges Book 4 by James A. Moore. As chaotic as it was with so many characters coming together, the overall series was incredibly original and entertaining (and dark, and bloody....).  A surprise by an author I had never heard of: Space Team: A Comedic Sci-Fi Adventure, Barry J. Hutchinson’s first in a series of comedy science fiction novels, and this one was very funny. It shouldn’t have been, with much of the humor being snarky wise cracks by the main character, but it was. Hutchinson has a deft, and very funny touch with scene building and dialogue. Looking forward to volume 2.

I returned to my reading roots with more science fiction (I’ve also been writing more sci-fi), and wanted to find a decent example of an SF book with a Christian bent – not easy to find any sci-fi in this market, let alone good ones. I was pleasantly surprised at my first try with Edge of Oblivion (The Chronicles of Sarco Book 1) by Joshua A. Johnston. Published by a small CBA publisher, it was fast paced and interesting with a pretty veiled (until the end) Christian theme.  Another product of a Christian author (but not religious-themed at all) was  The Dark Tower and Other Stories by C. S. Lewis. The Dark Tower (no association with the King series, obviously) was an interesting, but unfinished science fiction novel by Lewis dealing with alternative universes. It was amazingly written, especially for such an early draft, but also very odd at times in an original, fascinating way. It might have changed not only the genre with such a sharp turn of originality and dark tone, but how people might have viewed the author. I picture him working on this much as I myself do with some projects, trying to incorporate faith into writing but at times veering away completely into uncharted waters.

Along the lines of classic novels, I’ve always enjoyed the 70’s movie SOYLENT GREEN (1973) so grabbed the original novel by Harry Harrison titled Make Room! Make Room! Interestingly, the food product Soylent Green gets only a minor mention in the book, which focuses instead on the cop investigating the murder of a rich mobster, while showing what the world will be like straining under the weight of overpopulation. It’s a well-written, interesting novel, with a diverse (for the time) cast of characters, ethnically-speaking. In the film they were mostly all white-washed, but re-watching SOYLENT it is obvious they took the source material in many other ways quite seriously.

Other fiction books I finished and enjoyed were The Walk by Lee Goldberg, Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman which was not quite as universally approachable a story as Bird Box but still a weird, fun read, along the lines of another book I devoured (after having loved the film version): Annihilation: A Novel by Jeff VanderMeer. My daughter gave me Stephen King’s new one, The Outsider for my birthday last year and enjoyed it. Paul Tremblay’s sophomore release Disappearance at Devil's Rock which again plays with the reader as to whether it is horror or not, but even more subtly in this one. Have Paul’s next on the list for this year, looking forward to it. The Lion's Game (John Corey Book #2) by Nelson DeMille was at times a rough read (I dislike reading from mass murderer’s/serial killer’s perspective, and half this book was from a sociopathic terrorist) but nonetheless gripping. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is another classic read last year – I’m noting a reading trend with classic novels. Since I’ve been writing science fiction more lately, I decided to give Greg Bear another chance (Moving Mars was too political and slow-paced for me, but I might return to it someday) with his classic The Forge of God. Again it was a political science fiction, but a good read. He’s an amazing writer. On the other end of the scale, The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom told the tale of slaves near the end of that era and the young Irish child the plantation owner brings home for them to care for. I have to admit, I couldn’t finish it, not because the writing was weak, but because it was too good. I didn’t want to see characters I’d quickly come to love go through as much shit as I knew they were going to in the second half. So I chickened out, and stopped reading. Sorry, Kathleen, but you did too good a job.

One last book I finished, mostly, and was interested in initially but eventually got tired of was The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay by Harlan Ellison. Ellison was known as being an abrasive and opinionated man, but a brilliant writer. This book was his way of showing how much better the classic STAR TREK TV episode would have been if they hadn’t made so many changes to it before final shooting. There were some interesting aspects of his original story which would have been cool but after reading early treatments, then various edited versions of the teleplays... basically every draft of his original screenplay... I honestly feel the version eventually filmed is better than Ellison’s original. I stopped reading the book halfway because between drafts of his script are essays where he pontificates endlessly on how he was wronged, and how this person or that was a lousy human, or how his version is so much better. It got tiresome.

I also went back and read the Oct-Nov 2018 issue of Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, now edited by Charles Coleman (CC) Finlay. I used to read this magazine religiously years back, but found it harder to keep up with it over time. I still pick up an issue now and then. As usual, stellar fiction all the way through.

Lastly, I read a number of non-fiction books, my favorites of which are: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (it’s always good for writers to read a writing book now and then to remind ourselves why we do it), The Great Movies, Roger Ebert’s first volume of revisits to his favorites films, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans, beautiful writings of how the author became disillusioned with organized religion and slowly, through searching and experimenting and connecting with God on her terms, found a community again. It’s a poetic, at times searing rebuke to churches who have completely lost the point. As well, Good News for a Change: How to Talk to Anyone about Jesus by Matt Mikalatos was a funny, common sense (something we tend to forget to use in church circles) discussion on how to speak to people, hostile or otherwise, about our faith. If the idea of taking to anyone about God outside of the pews gives you the willies, read Matt’s book.

Other completed non-fiction, of which quite a few dealt with matters of faith and were quite good in their own right, were The Ultimate Treasure Hunt: A Guide to Supernatural Evangelism Through Supernatural Encounters by Kevin Dedmon, Waking Up: To The Way of Love by Ted Dekker, which was more a prologue to a new inspirational series he has just released, The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns, a book I do not recommend for new Christians because it challenges the entire basis of how the Bible was written and intended– as important as this is to a degree. How much of what he says is accurate, I can’t say, but for well-anchored people of faith it’s a good wake-up call that we need to understand the context of where and when something was written to truly understand it. Finally, on the other end of the scale, Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix is a massive coffee table book chronicling, through hundreds of beautiful or (mostly) gaudy book covers, the history of modern horror.

Well, that’s it for 2018’s reading list. Below on the right I’ve begun the 2019 list. Looking forward to the worlds I’ll be visiting this year.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

So, what's been going on?

Hi, everyone. Sorry for so much silence, but I promise I haven't been silent on the page. Been trying to write every day. 

At the moment, I'm one or two drafts from completing a new science fiction novelette titled "Doley Nant Flower Sky" which has been very enjoyable to write, seeing how four distinct characters come to life as I let them interact. This felt like one of those "writes itself" kind of pieces. It takes place in the same universe as my recently completed novel Plague of Locusts though is completely unrelated story-wise.

Earlier this year my friend Dave Hilman and I finished a pretty cool YA mystery novel, which I now have submitted out the the evil black hole of publishing houses.

I've got a couple recent movie reviews out at www.dankeohane.com/reviews and am working on some more soon. In fact, if I do anything for NaNoWriMo this month it'll be to try and crank out a few more this month.

As well, though there seems to be some technical difficulties at the NLC website, and I'm not sure of the future of devotionals in their realm, however I'm continuing to write devotionals anyway and posting to www.dankeohane.com/devotionals .

That's about it. Been a busy fall for sure and winter is coming. :)