Birthday Party Playlist

It’s my birthday, and I’ll listen to weird music if I want to. You can listen along too: check out my Spotify playlist Demented Dances and Drunken Anarchy. Multiple personality music for partying pirates, cabaret corpses, circus sideshows, medieval maniacs, apocalyptic lunatics, and bellydancing bombshells.

I turn 41 today. Somehow, I have survived for four decades. That is a feat in itself, especially considering some of my former lifestyle choices. There is a lot that I still wish to accomplish in this life. Regardless of how the future turns out, I appreciate the people and events that shaped the person I am today. I’ll drink to that, but only one or two. Maybe moderation will help me live a few more decades.

OK, enough serious reflection for one birthday. Back to my fun and weird playlist :)

Do You Like Gothic Fiction and Poetry?

You might answer that question with one of your own: “Are we talking classic or modern gothic?” And I would answer: “Either one,” because this new anthology has both!

Haunted Are These Houses is the latest book from Unnerving, one of the best indie horror publishers out there IMO. They constantly release quality dark literature, and this book is looking to be no exception. The table of contents lists 34 authors, from the classic gothic masters (Poe, Percy Shelley, Emily & Charlotte Bronte, etc.) to modern dark masters (Stephanie Wytovich, Bruce Boston, Christina Sng, etc.) to speculative newbies like yours truly.

I am honored and thrilled to be included in this book. Honestly, it is a milestone for me and just the kick in the ass I needed right now. I’ve been struggling with promoting my latest release, Mask: Persona, and doubting my ability to reach an audience for my art. Getting published in this anthology is proof to me that hard work is worth it and does pay off in the long run. I hope you remember that next time you are struggling with something very personal to you.

Haunted Are These Houses

Haunted Are These Houses ebook is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Who is Joe Doe?

“Who the hell is Joe Doe?” was one of my marketing slogans for a while. It is also a question I have been trying to answer for about 9 years now. Here is the history.

Joe Doe was born in 2009, when I felt the need to change my stage name. I had been recording and releasing music under the name D-O-E for years, but eventually I realized that it was not an internet-friendly name. Search engines ignored the hyphens, and you couldn’t Google my music without sifting through through Department of Education. So, I made this promo video.

When I made that video, I knew I wanted a new brand with a darker identity, but there was no specific vision guiding it. After I moved out to Fort Wayne in 2012, Joe Doe became my main identity as a recording artist and live performer. The mask was only sometimes part of that identity. It had no purpose yet. There was no story behind the mask.

In the meantime, I continued working on a post-apocalyptic fictional mythos, sometimes called Dark Domain or Nocternal ( nocturnal + eternal). I took one of my lesser used musical personas, Dostah Shilailee, and made him a character in the story. Then it dawned on me to do the same with Joe Doe.

Now, there is finally a story behind the mask. Joe Doe is not just a stage name; he is a character. But what is his story, you ask? The first revelation is in my new poetry book, Mask: Persona. It gives an introduction to Joe Doe the same way Mask: Shadow did for Dostah.

And the mythos is to be continued through future Sykophunk releases…

May You Choose Your Mask Today

We all wear masks. We put on different personas for different occasions. They are not phony, just somewhat different versions of ourselves depending on what the situation calls for.

Some masks we put on willingly and purposefully. Some we wear without even knowing it. And some are forced upon us by oppressive outside forces.

I have worn all three types of masks in my life, and I’m sure you have too. That’s why I am writing the Masks book series: to express this universal truth and to encourage the idea that we can increase our awareness and choose the masks we wear.

True, these books are full of dark poetry and lyrical lunacy painted with surreal horror and apocalyptic visions of a dystopian future. They are written through the voices of fictional characters that are part of my greater mythos.

Mask: Shadow is written through the voice of Dostah Shilailee, a misunderstood drifter who becomes the guinea pig for secret government experiments. Mask: Persona is a slice of history from the character Joe Doe, an escaped mental patient who speaks out for the unheard.

But these characters also reflect some of the masks we wear when we feel vulnerable or angry or just plain confused. By becoming aware of what influences us to feel these complex emotions, perhaps we can decide for ourselves which mask would be best for each situation.

May you choose your own mask today.

#goals Mid-Year Review

Being an ambitious artist means setting goals and often having a hard time meeting them. When 2018 began, I was inspired by my favorite podcast, The Mando Method, to publicly state my author/artist goals. They recently did a mid-year review and shared an honest look at where they are at with their goals for the year.

Now it’s my turn. Here are the 6 goals I set with follow-up comments on my progress:

  • Finish and release two books with soundtracks (the Masks trilogy). I am on schedule to make Mask: Persona available for pre-order on July 4. It is unlikely that I will get the third book + soundtrack, Mask: Self, finished this year, but I will be working on it.
  • Start a Patreon account with exclusive content (music & writing). Check. I release at least 6 new things every month on the JVB/Sykophunk Patreon page: poetry, songs, short stories, remixes, revisions, videos, and a serialized novella.
  • Finish my serialized novella, The Black Circle. On track. I have been dropping a new episode every month on Patreon. Part 7 is going up next month; I think it will end with part 9 in September.
  • Start my first novel and/or interactive fiction. I just started an interactive choose-your-own-adventure type story that I would love to have out by October. As for stating the novel, I’ll consider it a victory if I at least get the outline done this year.
  • Write more short stories and poetry for market. I have done this and submitted 10 pieces to poetry/fiction markets, with two rejections and two acceptances so far. There are a few more on my radar that I still want to submit to.
  • Keep working on building my platform. Slowly but surely. I am in the process of updating my website, making all my social media jive, and increasing my mailing list (recently hit 100+ subscribers!).

Wow. I am doing surprisingly well on most of my goals, especially considering the personal milestones I have also hit this year: graduating college, getting married, and starting a new day job. Thanks to Armand and Chuck for reminding me to check in. Good luck to you guys staying on track with your goals this year.

How are you doing on your 2018 goals?

Untimely Frost dark poetry anthology

Untimely Frost: Poetry Unthawed is now available on Amazon in paperback format! Ebook coming soon. This collection, published by Lycan Valley Press Publications, consists of beautiful and horrifying poems, including one of mine entitled “Funeral Flowers.” I am honored to be a part of a project consisting of so much talent.

Untimely Frost: Poetry Unthawed

“The beauty and sadness of words clutches at the heart like the cold hand of Death. Images of darkness close in on us as we feel the anguish of life’s final moments. The darkness is beautiful and yet terrifying, calling on the strongest emotions for survival. This collection of poetry combines words of beauty, of despair, of darkness, of mortality that reach out and chill the soul like an Untimely Frost.”

7 New Things, Gratitude, and Free Stuff

If you are reading this, you are awesome!

My mailing list just passed 100 subscribers! That may not sound like a lot to some people, but to me it is a measurable milestone that you helped me achieve :) To celebrate and show my appreciation, I will be putting together a new freebie sampler of my writing and music.

You don’t have to do anything to get the freebie other than be subscribed. You can subscribe to my list on my home page. I will send out the link when I am finished putting it together, hopefully in a week or so.

May has been crazy busy for me! In between graduating college, getting married, and starting a new day job, I somehow found the time to make seven new posts of exclusive content on my Patreon page:

"Cold World" - a post-apocalyptic fantasy short story, inspired by Wu Tang & the Rza.

"Chelsea Smile (Triple Threat Remix)" -  a song by Bring Me the Horizon, remixed by Travie McCoy, and  then re-remixed by me as Joe Doe. Clearly before he was institutionalized and his mind broke off from reality ;)

The Black Circle part 5 - in this episode of my serialized horror novella: investigations, dark revelations, and murder!

Acapellocalypse 5 "Isolation" - Joe Doe is chilling in the underground fallout shelter, starting to lose his shit from isolation in a world of crazy chaos...  he knows too much!

"assembly line" - a dark sci fi poem.

"Manufactured Misery" song & video - from the Patreon exclusive album, Nocternal. An emotional  & dystopian explanation for the eternal darkness of the future. The lyrics of this song are also featured as a poem in the book Mask: Shadow.

Upcoming projects also include the next book + soundtrack in the Masks series, Mask: Persona. Keep your third eye open and stay tuned to the rEvolution Underground…