Edward Bryant, Jr.—A Tribute

Ed Bryant on Far Right, on MILEHICON48 Panel, Oct 30, 2016 (© F. P. Dorchak)

Ed Bryant on Far Right, on MILEHICON48 Panel, Oct 30, 2016 (© F. P. Dorchak)

“I have such wonders to show you….”

I learned this last Sunday that Ed Bryant, Jr. had passed on from this life.

Wow.

The above quote is from Ed’s short story “Marginal Ha’nts,” in Hex Publishers Nightmare Unhinged. You have to read this story–especially now–the ending will give you chills. I read this story in October, but I just went back over the ending and it was…well, weird.

Ed and I were not drinking buddies, or anything, but we were writer friends. It all started (good, Lord, how the time flies!) some 25 years ago? He and John Stith were running a critique group at UCCS, in Colorado Springs. I can’t remember if I’d heard it from John or from Ed himself. I think I’d learned this at a local writers’ conference I used to attend/work at where I’d run into one or both of these gentlemen. Anyway, the critique group was by invitation only, so I threw my name into the hat…and waited. Well, low-and-behold, an opening was had, and I was invited. I joined.

It was a medium-sized group and Ed and/or John would helm the meeting. I don’t remember the specifics, but the group had been going around talking about a writer’s efforts (I don’t think it was mine), and “opinions” were made, let’s just say. Some…pretty narrow-minded and limiting.

Then it got to Ed. It was his turn to talk.

At first, he just sat there…you could see the gears turning in his head. He paused a little longer…then out came his words in that deep, warm, radio-voice of his—and he blew me away. Ed’s conversational cadence only knew it’s own time, but the advice and comments he gave to that writer’s work were grounded and worldly. It was exactly the sort of thing you’d expect to come out of the mouth of an individual of his caliber. And though he totally contradicted and “put in place” all the other “exalted and ebullient opinions and ravings” that had been previously expressed by some in the group…he was never (as one writer put it in a tribute to him) cruel. He was tactful…thoughtful…and kind. He just stated how it was…and that, well, there’s more than one way to get there from here.

Man, how I really wished I could recall his words! I was really blown away by the guy!

That was the beginning of my interaction with the man. I’d run into him from time to time, e-mail him. Once, even ran into him while standing in line a-couple-people-away-from-each-other to attend a Stephen King presentation at a high school down here. Then we lost touch for many years, plus-or-minus an email or FB exchange or three. Then I got back into the promotion game and began to attend author gigs, and ran into Ed at the last three MILEHICONs and 2016’s Denver Comic Con (DCC). We were on a panel together (might it have been about short stories?)…he was moderating. As the moderator he’d compiled blurbs about each of us and introduced us. I’d been so impressed that he’d taken the time to do that. Most of the panels I’ve been on, we’d all intro ourselves (not that I mind that, but it goes to show you how classy Ed was…and I’m going to try my hand at this next time I moderate panels…). And when he came to me he mentioned how when he’d run across on my website that “weird things happened to me,” he was so amused! Got a kick out of that. But, yeah, weird things do happen to me, and I try to detail them as much as possible on my other site, Reality Check. That was my first DCC.

Every time over the past three years, when we’d see each other at MILEHICON we’d come talk with each other. He was always glad to see me and when we’d depart he’d always say something about how it was too bad we didn’t get to see each other more often. That always surprised me! That he would say something like that to someone he didn’t know all that well, you know, compared to his actual “drinking buddies.” I always liked Ed…he was fun to talk with…like others who knew him better would say, he had a dry wit…and was never at a loss for things to say. And his conversations were never rushed. He never seemed in a hurry to leave you, once engaged. I also wasn’t always sure what he’d say! It was that incredible mind of his, you just never seemed to know what thoughts he would voice! But those words he would voice were always thoughtful and considerate, again, with a splash of that dry Edward Bryant wit. In the end, it didn’t really matter what he had to say…it was fun just listening to that baritone voice!

I ran into him multiple times at last year’s (2016) MILEHICON. We spent two of those time in lengthy conversations. The first was in the open second-floor rotunda of the Hyatt Regency, and we partly talked and joked about getting used to the various issues befalling our respective decades-in-life.

How telling that conversation had proven itself to be.

But the second looong conversation we had was after the large en masse book signing. I saw Ed making his way around to all his friends, chatting them up, and as things wrapped up and we were all breaking down, Ed came over to me and spend the entire time I was packing things up, chatting. I had just read his short story, “Marginal Ha’nts,” in Hex Publishing’s Nightmares Unhinged (a great anthology, by the way, y’all need to buy it if you’re at all into dark fiction), and it was either Dean Wyant or Josh Viola who told me to go ask Ed about the inspiration for that short story of his. I wish I could remember all of what Ed had told me, dammit, but from what I recall, Ed had actually fallen down some stairs just like in the story, and I remembered seeing him in a torso support (and neck brace, I think…) in the 2014 or 2015 MILEHICON. But in any event, pardon the pun, we had a great conversation together as he walked me out. As much as I really enjoyed his time and talking with him, even then, I thought the multiple, lengthy encounters…weird. Something just felt…strange…about them….

Then last weekend happened.

Wow.

I flipped back to his “Marginal Ha’nts” story in Nightmares Unhinged and reread the ending.

Holy (Excusez mon français…) shit. The ending…well, it seemed as if…well, you really have to read this story! I really want to quote some lines from the end of that story, but I don’t want to spoil it for you all, but I can’t emphasize enough to go read this story!

(Damn it, I’m beside myself, hopping up and down at my keyboard wanting to quote passages from this story that are so damned creepy and—yea, foretelling?–of what Ed’s probably doing right now!)

So drop what you’re doing and go read that short NOW. It’s chilling given his passing. Suffice it to say that the passage that begins with “Boo? Screw that.” is a passage I’d love to point out, among others….

So, Ed…you—marginal?

Hardly. Again, that dry wit of his.

Wherever you are, Ed…this is how I’m preferring to think of you…there, in your Twilight Zone existence…with all your new peers:

“I have such wonders to show you….”

Edward Winslow Bryant Jr., August 27, 1945 – February 10, 2017

Thank you, Ed, for everything.

Ed Bryant "Marginal Ha'nts" Autograph (© F. P. Dorchak)

Ed Bryant “Marginal Ha’nts” Autograph (© F. P. Dorchak)

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Do The Dead Dream? Status

Do The Dead Dream? (Image by Jan C J Jones, Freelancer Ink, © July 1, 2016)

Do The Dead Dream? (Image by Jan C J Jones, Freelancer Ink, © July 1, 2016)

I am working toward the completion and release of my short story collection, but timelines have shifted to the right a bit. When I first envisioned releasing this collection, I’d thought maybe Valentine’s Day might make a good release date…then as things didn’t progress as quickly as expected, and I’d attended my first Comic Con, I thought having it to release the end of June at the 2017 Denver Comic Con would also be a really cool release date. But other issues came up and I’m now realistically looking at a Hallowe’en release date.

I also have a new editor, Joyce Combs. She did my Psychic novel. She’s a retired editor, among other things. I thank my previous editor/proofer for all she’d done–she’d done a great job!–but we just had scheduling issues. I wish her well!

But while I’ve been working along on this project, I have written a couple new short stories! I’ve written “A Beautiful Summer’s Day” (takes place in the Wild West) and “Behind Things” (takes place in a gym). And while reworking some of these stories I found myself getting unexpectedly emotional. “Dark Was The Hour” was one where I just couldn’t keep from getting emotional as I reread it.

Anyway, this will be my last book for a couple years as I work on writing my next novel, so I want to do this as “right” as possible. As I get most of the stories into the manuscript from Joyce’s efforts, I will offer free copies to any who want to review it. I’ve never done this before, but want to try it. I will let y’all know closer I get to that stage….

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

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Frozen Branches

Frozen Branches (© F. P. Dorchak, Feb 2, 2017)

Frozen Branches (© F. P. Dorchak, Feb 2, 2017)

Thursday and Friday of last week we had a bit of an ice storm…in that I don’t know if it was actually termed an “ice storm,” but we had everything coated in a layer of frost and/or ice—and it was beautiful! Since I am a fan of taking shots of branches, I thought “Frozen Branches” would be a great compliment to my previous post!

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Night Driving

Night Driving (© F. P. Dorchak, January 28, 2017)

Night Driving (© F. P. Dorchak, January 28, 2017)

I love driving at night.

I’d written a post about a particular night drive I’d taken years ago, when I was 27. It was a mystical cross-country drive I’d taken solo. My last such solo drive was from Wyoming to Colorado in November of 2015.

I’d taken this photo this past weekend as my wife and I returned from visiting family up north of us and were driving through Denver. I love the look and feel of this image. The lights of the buildings in the distance. Love the in-the-moment perspective.

Love the dark.

I love how my thoughts turn waaay inward in the night. I love the feel of the road. The passing of the night as I (we) plow on through it…are enveloped by it. Love how the imagination comes out in full force in the absence of light. Wonder where those lights in the distance are coming from and what’s going on at or around them.

Don’t get me wrong—I love daylight and all things associated with it! I’m not a Goth anything…I am a fan of both light and darkness. But…

Yeah, I really love driving at night….

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My First Nikon Camera Class

Crescent Moon (© F. P. Dorchak, January 22, 2017)

Crescent Moon (© F. P. Dorchak, January 22, 2017)

I love this shot!

I took it with my Nikon D3400 and 70 – 300mm zoom. This past Saturday, I took my first Nikon camera class, and it was great! I took about four pages of notes and it was extremely useful! In fact, it helped with the picture above. I had to adjust the white balance to bring out the blue of the sky. In class, the instructor, whose name was Greg, said that for every picture he changes something of the following:

  • Shutter speed
  • Aperture (how open the shutter is–large or small “hole” light entry)
  • ISO (light sensitivity)
  • White balance (the balance of color)

Greg also said that if you’re not yet good enough at all of the above, to set your mode to “P,” which is a semi-automatic (programming) mode that will automatically set your shutter and aperture, and you can mess with your ISO and white balance and everything else, so that’s what I’m doing. I took the above shot early in the morning, not sure, maybe around 5 or 6 a.m.—but the time hack is off—it wasn’t the “2:02” it says. I’d had to recharge my battery, so when you pull the battery out, it messes up the time stamps, dammit. Anyway, to show the difference the proper white balance can make, here is the original shot before I corrected for it:

Crescent Moon - No White Balance (© F. P. Dorchak, January 22, 2017))

Crescent Moon – No White Balance (© F. P. Dorchak, January 22, 2017))

You can definitely see the difference! So, thanks, Greg and Mike’s Camera, for presenting this Nikon class–it’s already helped me out!

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Boulder YMCA Author Talk

Author Talk, Mapleton Center YMCA (© F. P. Dorchak, January 17, 2017)

Author Talk, Mapleton Center YMCA (© F. P. Dorchak, January 17, 2017)

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking at the Boulder Media Women’s (BMW’s) “Author Talk” session (also known as “Spoken Word”) at the Boulder, Colorado Mapleton Center YMCA. It’s a cozy gathering that invites authors to speak and discuss their work, with profits from some of the book sale going to the Y to support the Y’s scholarships, which is pretty cool. I didn’t realize that the Y did that. I’ve used a YMCA a couple of times, years ago, so it was nice to help them out in their scholarship with a couple of book sales.

Of note: one gentlemen there and I had been at the same unit when I’d been in the Air Force. He’d been there at the start-up of the unit, and I’d been there nearly fifteen years later. Small world!

The event was organized by BMW’s chair of the Boulder Valley YMCA readings, Jyoti Wind, who met we when I arrived. I had an hour and started off with a reading from The Uninvited, then talked about what I write, gave an overview of my work, how I think (as a writer), how I write, that kind of thing. The audience had so many good questions I was never able to complete my presentation! I love those kinds of presentations! Afterwards, Jyoti, myself, and a couple of others met for lunch at Turley’s Kitchen, a short walk away from the Y—and the Y picked up my tab. Thanks, Mapleton Center YMCA! Following lunch, I visited a good friend of mine and her husband who live nearby. We had a great afternoon chat, had some ox tail soup—which I’d never had before and was great, Karen, I’m not kidding! Karen is quite the “food scholar,” as she brands herself, and has a cookbook, Nature’s Wrap: Cooking in Leaves; Recipes From Around the World.

Overall a great day! Thanks BMW and Mapleton Center YMCA for having me and picking up lunch (and thanks to those in attendance for your time, interest, and stimulating conversation!), and thanks Karen and Wen for a wonderful afternoon chat and dinner!

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Bobcat!

I see you...and I will get you in your sleep.... (© F. P. Dorchak, 2017)

I see you…and I will get you in your sleep…. (© F. P. Dorchak, 2017)

Yesterday, about 5:15 p.m., my wife, Laura, was standing at the entrance to our home making strange, truncated sounds, let’s just say. She was at the door because I was making a [store bought] pizza and the house starting getting smokey from previous food residue in the oven’s bottom I-didn’t-spy-with-my-keen-eye before turning on the oven getting extra crispy. I live in a perpetual haze, so it didn’t bother me, but my wife (being more human) had opened some windows. I have that effect on enclosed spaces. Anyway, as she was at the doorway uttering these “strange, truncated sounds” and clipped sentences with tones of excitement and surprise, I came over to see what was up.

She pointed out a bobcat casually strolling across the way from us!

She said she’d seen this rabbit run faster than she’d ever seen any animal run before and thought one of the neighbor’s dogs might have been going after it…but it was no dog!

So while she’s running throughout the house looking for our binoculars, I sprinted for my Nikon, and sprinted back, hoping in the process neither of us would plow into the other. We were good.

As we watched the bobcat, and I’m taking shots, my wife mentioned how cool it was that s/he just owned that sidewalk—and indeed s/he did! S/he was so majestic and beautiful! Casual. Like the rest of us, just sauntering home after a day’s hard work. Not interested in any bunnies, just making his or her way through the neighborhood. As I’m taking more shots Laura says I should go after it in the car so—great idea!—I waste no time and make for the SUV. Camera in hand, I hurry (appropriately following all speed limits, bien sur…) and find the critter farther down in the creek bed. I pull over, hit the hazards, and twisted as far as I could in my seat, rippin’ off one-handed shots I hope are in focus, cause I’m not an operative of Cirque Du Soleil (but it’s a good thing I do those twisty stretches at the gym) and my other arm just couldn’t do what I was asking it to do in that position in the vehicle. I don’t know whether or not bobcats attack, but more so, if the thing decided to sprint at my getting out of the vehicle on a busy-ish section of street at that time of the day, I wanted to be able to still follow it. Anyway, I got some really cool shots, but many have those “devil eyes”—which do look totally cool, as you’ll see below—and are not quite sharply focused, and a few are not centered in the frame (or whatever the official term is). All images are compressed.

About one or two years ago I’d seen my first up-close bobcat as it walked directly in front of my home-office window. It paused and looked right at me…looked at me, like “Yeah so? What are ya gonna do about it? I didn’t think so.” Then turned and continued on its way….

So this is entirely cool! What a majestic and beautiful animal, and I’m glad we both got to see this one!

Images taken with a Nikon D3400 and 70 – 300mm zoom lens, from a closest distance of about 20 – 30 feet.

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