Mental Eclipse

This blog site is dedicated to published novels, poetry and short stories by Stjepan Krešimir Kračun updated regularly with release dates and other news regarding any published works.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Red ink, proofreading and "Flesh Machine: The Story"


Why is it that corrections of text (or anything else for that matter) always feel more ‘corrected’ when they’re done with red ink?
Green ink just wouldn’t do. Blue doesn’t ‘make a statement’ either.
Judging from the amount of red ink I’ve used while proofreading my new novel: “Flesh Machine: The Story” – I have a lot of work still ahead of me.
On second thought, given that the title of my book is “Flesh Machine” – perhaps the excess red ink has something to do with all the blood…




Sunday, November 3, 2019

"Flesh Machine: The Story" - first (very rough) draft completed


The 'meat' (fortunate choice of words) of all the chapters of my new book "Flesh Machine: The Story" has now been fleshed out (another fortunate choice of words, amazing!).

I've chosen the book to be printed (when it gets to that stage) in a smaller format this time, 5 x 8 inches. Fits in the pocket (still a really, really large pocket) and is easier to conceal from people who you don't want to know what kind of obscenities you're reading. And besides - all of the most popular and the most unpopular books are printed (or re-printed) in pocket-size formats (with my book being a contender in the latter category). Either way - small books make for wonderful provisional coasters, door wedges and anti-rabid-dog self-defense weapons. This I say from experience.

The page count stands at 193 pages now, which is likely to change a bit as I now need to align the story, expand or shorten where needed.

After that comes the long process of proofreading, correcting and then proofreading again and then checking the layout and then proofreading again and then submitting to Amazon - and checking the layout and proofreading again - I think you get the picture...

Here is a photograph of my ‘travel notebook’ – the pieces of story in the making (typically on long bus rides to and from work):




Why? Why? Why?


Why write a book? Why publish it? Why? Why? Why?
I’ve been getting a lot of questions (from different sources) regarding my writing and why I do it and why I publish what I write.
I started writing because I’ve always liked writing – from when I was just a teenager and used to just write some kind of electronic diary that I realized had very little to do with chronicling the daily events of my life but instead was more of a story that had some parts of my life in it and then a lot of other stuff that just made its way into my thoughts (and the text).
I started writing because what I really couldn’t do, from an early age, is stop thinking. Writing for me was a way of getting my thoughts organized, streamlined and – in many cases – finalized. It’s always been easier for me to organize text than my thoughts.
As a kid, I was always curious about how things work. I was the kind of kid that secretly took apart clocks in my parents’ house – just to open them up – just to see what’s inside – to see how they work. Needless to say, this activity of mine wasn’t as thrilling for my parents as it was for me.
When I was a little older (but still a kid) – my father brought me a bunch of laboratory stuff from the university where he worked – harmless things like test tubes, cuvettes, pipettes, beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks, Eppendorf tubes and the like. I was determined to concoct a potion that would bestow upon me – superpowers. I was only allowed to use kitchen ingredients so I wouldn’t end up poisoning myself – and even then my plans were often thwarted in the end – because I was rarely allowed to actually drink what I had concocted.
In my early teens, I got my first computer. I loved playing computer games. But computer games used a lot of computer power (and still do). My parents said a resolute ‘no’ to buying a new computer every year (to keep up with the power requirements) – so I decided to use less money and buy parts instead and put the computer together myself.
I built my first computer from scratch when I was 14. I remember my mother walking in on me – sitting on the floor surrounded by mother boards, graphics cards, sound cards and dozens of screws and jumpers (if anyone still remembers what ‘jumpers’ are). She asked me what I was doing, and I replied that I was building a computer. She rolled her eyes and walked away (I think she remembered all the watches and clocks I had broken just several years before that). But it worked – it was my first Pentium machine running at 133 MHz with 16 MB of FPM RAM and an amazingly spacious Western Digital HDD with 2 GB of space installed on the second IDE channel as a ‘slave’ to my ‘working horse’ 850 MB HDD as ‘primary master’ on the first IDE channel. My father bought me the legendary Diamond Monster 3D secondary graphics card which I had to connect in such a way that it bypassed my standard S3 Trio VGA card. For a Christmas present – I received the amazingly fast US Robotics 56K modem.
My mother had issues with learning how to use the computer, and my parents were kind enough to buy me a subscription to the Croatian computer magazine that once every 3rd month (if I remember correctly) had a programming tutorial section in it, so I decided to learn something and program the Microsoft Office assistant (if you remember Clippit) on my mother’s computer in such a way that she could ask ‘him’ when she had a problem and I wasn’t around. Little did I know that I’d use what I learned there in my first ever scientific publication in 2007 that involved a program that I wrote in Microsoft Excel that simulated Mendelian genetics.
My curiosity turned me towards science and my interest in science is of the same kind as my interest in household clocks – I just like to figure out how things work. I like to ‘tinker’ with things.
It appears to me that just ‘tinkering’ with things, being curious, is not enough for most people, judging from the types of questions they ask me.
Why don’t you invent something that will make you rich?
Why don’t you write a bestseller?
My answer is simple – these things are not even on my radar – they don’t interest me.
I do science because it interests me and in that world of molecules and chemistry – I can tell you that the molecules are not overly preoccupied with money and/or fame either. I have worked with some reagents which were very quirky and unstable, the Primadonnas, but I can’t say that I’m on the verge of discovering sentience in molecules. But I’m keeping my mind open.
I write because I like to write. When I write – I think about what I want to write – not what other people want to read.
Why do I publish then?
Because I feel like it – because it’s fun. Having to prepare my manuscript for publishing adds new layers of fun for me – such as designing my cover together with my lovely wife who makes such wonderful artwork, working on the page layout and so many other things that are so new to me because I’ve started publishing my books just a little more than 1 year ago.
I remember once, when I was in my twenties and I decided to learn how to play the guitar – which ended up in learning around 10 different chords – just enough to sing half of a dozen of my favorite songs – my next door neighbor (who was unavoidably exposed to my extensive practice sessions – and prior to that – suffered 8 years of my practice sessions on the piano when I had been going to music school) asked me: “Why do you always sing the same songs? I keep hearing the same 2-3 songs for hours every day… You should change your repertoire a little.”
I just smiled and to be honest – I don’t remember what I replied then (this was a long time ago) – but now, when questions of a similar kind land on my doorstep – I would say:
“And why do you assume that I am singing and playing for you?”
I accept the fact that most people these days only want to do things for money or fame or usually a mixture of both. Or for some greater cause – to save the world, to have a global impact or whatever else.
But then my interrogators will need to accept the fact that I do things that I do out of curiosity and that satisfying that curiosity is a lot of fun for me and it makes me very happy – and I don’t need any more than that.
These same interrogators are very welcome to harness my curiosity to fulfill their goals – and go and save the world (or make a lot of money, or both) with my inventions and innovations in science – or go and have some fun by reading what I wrote – I don’t mind at all – because I’ve already fulfilled my purpose and I don’t need more.
I won’t deny that it pleases me to hear that someone likes ‘something’ that I’ve done (with my writing or otherwise) – but just the same as praise does not sway me to keep at it then equally criticism does not dissuade me. My purpose was ‘to do what I like doing’, everything else is a by-product – for better or for worse.
Not everything in life is a business relationship – at least not on the deepest of fundamental levels. I love my wife for who she is and she loves me for who I am. We’re not together because of what we can gain from each other – we’re together because we just love each other, and we are happiest when we are together. It’s as simple as that and it doesn’t need to be more complicated.
Thank you for reading.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Too many F-words - but F still stands for FLESH!


Fun fact about my new book.

I am up to 181 pages by now and I just counted how many times does the word f*** appear in the text:

96 times!
That is one F-word per every 1.88 pages.

This is an entirely new and thrilling experience for me as my previous novel "Vampire Grimoire" had a negligible amount of a meager 7 F-words across 241 pages.

This is the reason why I will submit this book with an 18+ rating AND why I think that the spelling-checker in Word just decided to quit on me (or perhaps it's just offended).

Too many F-words perhaps - but F for FLESH still stands!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

New novel on the way: "Flesh Machine: The Story"

FLESH MACHINE: THE STORY (in writing)

I’m in the process of writing a new novel.
The idea has been simmering in my mind for quite some time – but now it’s finally reached my fingers.
The first three chapters are done (out of eight, implying that I do have an idea about how the novel is going to end this time) and the keys on my keyboard are getting greasy (partly due to writing, partly due to eating while writing).
Publishing date unknown right now, but I do plan to be done with the first draft by the end of 2019, so it’s safe to say that it will be out by spring 2020.
It will be published both as an e-book and a paperback book through Amazon KDP.
For now, I would like to present you with the cover of the book, amazing art made by my lovely wife, and the title of the book:
𝐅𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐡 𝐌𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐞: 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲
The story will be my typical mixture of unnecessary gore and dystopian philosophy (the latter being the more terrifying part) – but now with a significant amount of racy black comedy sprinkled on top - making the entire assemblage even more revolting. 
Still, I can't stop laughing while writing it!
Funny enough - the main character of the story refers to himself as 'the assembly', but more commonly known by the friendly name of 'Sam'. 



Sunday, September 22, 2019

Poem: "The Face of Death"


(Photo credit: David Gallie at pexels.com)

The Face of Death

Could it be that in the enemy that I fear the most,
I find my best friend that I have long lost,
That despite all the clamoring wisdom of this life’s preachers,
The silence of Death is the best of life’s teachers?

The mention of its very name, Death, life’s mistress,
Seems to leave all but one in distress,
“So depressing, gloomy, horrid”, they say,
But we will all meet her one fateful day.

How far can we run, how far to galaxies unknown,
Yet never escape the seed of Death that at the hour of our birth was sown,
Is it when we are born that we begin dying,
Or could it be that when we recognize Death – we begin living?

To fear Death is to fear Life, they are one and the same,
To make an enemy out of a friend, the wings meant for flying, cowardly we maim,
A theater play where the Face of Death we paint on our pawns,
Only to stab it and laugh and strut jubilantly, while Death looks on, silent, and yawns.

To think that all that we have: our body, mind and soul – will turn to rot,
That all that we’ve ever done will all be for naught,
Such a thought we deign not ponder,
Heavens forbid that we should deny ourselves our pride, our vanity, our life thereafter.

A life lived with Death denied,
Is half of a life lived, with the other half – defied,
It is the Face of Death that draws near,
That reminds us to live the only lives we have and hold dear.

A life spent building thicker walls on our palaces,
Is a life wasted on filling in our rotting coffin’s crevices,
Determined to run from Death, in our doubts and fears,
A life of worry and waiting, for what, for when – until it inevitably disappears.

As a young bird dreamt of its next day, dreaded its first flight come morning,
Death whispered in her ear gently: “You could easily die right now, tonight, without knowing!”,
It sent the bird in the moonlight soaring, its wings spread wide,
As all doubts pale when we know that from Death we cannot hide.

Better will I have spent my life on living without doubts or regrets,
All of my own life and my own death in my loving embrace,
And when my last hour comes, as the sun of my last day slowly sets,
I will see my journey’s lasting companion, in Death – a friendly face.


Stjepan K. Kračun, September 22nd, 2019.   

Friday, September 20, 2019

Online Article: "Never hesitate!"


NEVER HESITATE!


The human mind is a lazy, lying coward trying to gamble its fear away by betting with fantasies about a life it doesn't own and will never get to keep. 

All the while, it somehow manages to forget to live life it does have. 

Is that too strong a statement?
Surely, our mind is more than just “an organ”? Well, yes and no.
It is just an organ in a sense that it is produced by an organ – the brain, and it isn’t just an organ because our entire idea of life is produced by it. Our very idea of existence is the result of the mind.

However, there are some things about the mind that don’t make a lot of sense. I’d go as far as to say that most things about the mind don’t make a lot of sense. It’s probably best to say that the degree of how much something makes sense is – how much it makes sense to our minds – not on some absolute logical scale.

Why do I say that the mind is lazy?
It's lazy because it only thinks hard when it convinces itself that it has something to lose. 
It goes into complete overdrive. When the mind is “happy” – it just won’t think that much (that’s why there’s no recipe for happiness – because happiness typically comes about as a result of having no recipe at all). On the other hand – when the mind is “unhappy” it will try to “think its way out if itself”.
What doesn’t make sense here is that – when we have an injured foot – we know that we need to keep it still, keep it warm, take it easy – and it will heal, but when we have an injured mind – we’ll put it into fifth gear. This is the quicksand of the mind. Trying to think oneself out of an injured mind is like trying to heal an injured foot by doing laps around the block. Some may say – but you need to “put things in the right place”, “figure things out” – in order to heal the mind. That brings me to my next point.

Why do I say that the mind is a liar?
It lies because it does not want to admit to itself that it's constantly afraid of losing. The main purpose of the mind is to try to keep our bodies alive. This is why one thing that it is best at is – threat processing. The mind works in an entirely opposite way to most judicial systems – everything is guilty until proven innocent. Everything is a threat until it isn’t. Everything is a problem until it isn’t. The lack of problems gives the mind nothing to do – so it will often invent some, just for sport. And with regard to “putting things in the right place” to heal the mind – the mind will find any reason, any at all – to create a problem – as well as to fix one. So, if any “place” can be the “right place” or the “wrong place” – why spend so much time thinking about it?

Why do I say that the mind gambles?
It gambles because a bet won makes it forget its fear and feel in control for at least a short while. The mind is not afraid because there’s something wrong with it – it is its job to be afraid, it has naturally evolved to be afraid. However, the mind protects the body from itself too. It protects the body from itself by this constant fear and paranoia as “win-or-lose” scenarios. It perceives something as a threat but instead of allowing the body to freak out – it sells a story of a “what are the odds” to itself, as if there is a degree of “thinking” that will change these odds (or make the mind less afraid). The important thing to remember here is that these “odds” that the mind is gambling with have nothing to do with the “odds” in reality. Things in reality are – just things – it’s the mind that transforms them into epic battles between good and evil – and soon we have an entire Odyssey conjured up about a 2nd year math exam.

I often advocate “absence of thinking” – but perhaps I should clarify that difference between different kinds of thinking.
There is thinking where the mind is this creative, imaginative, wonderful thing – it can imagine and sometimes bring to life such amazing things.
And then there is thinking where the mind is trying to “imagine” its way out of a painful place.
The former is great, the latter not at all. And the problem is – these two types of thinking are: difficult to tell apart and they very rarely occur separately.

One very clear indicator of the mind’s “damage prevention” mechanism being active is when there is a very distinct “coloration” of our thoughts in terms of the mind wanting or really striving to be 100% sure about something – when it will not accept any odds that are either “certain victory” or “certain loss”.

I like to say – “In the game of life – there is nothing to lose except the mind. Still, it’s alright, because that’s the only part that’s keeping score anyway!”

The only bet worth making is between: 
1) a hypocritical illusion of control in the fantasy world of the mind that we think we know,

2) a courageous plunge into the chaos and uncertainty of life with humble acceptance of our ignorance.

Roll the dice or...

It doesn’t matter - never hesitate! Why?
Why not?

We’d like to give our mind (and any of its products – such as the concept of “self”, “our” very strong opinions, “our” very strong values) a lot more credit than it deserves.

It’s quite funny that our mind works as if the best thing we could achieve in life is to be able to predict it from beginning to end.

It’s even funnier that if the mind actually could predict our lives from beginning to end – life would be no fun at all!

A foot for walking, a mind for thinking – sometimes they bring us to the top of the mountain – sometimes they crumble and fall – but both need the same kind of care but also the same kind of “tough love”.

The key here is that the mind has the ability to decide where the foot goes but not the other way around. And this is where courage comes in – that sometimes, our mind can hurt – but we will force both the mind and the foot it controls – up that damn mountain!

Am I contradicting myself – did I not just say before that the resting an injured mind should be equal to resting an injured foot?

Yes, I did say that – but there is a difference in thinking, if you remember. Trying to change our minds about something and then doing it – good luck with that. Think about anything long enough and you’ll just find more reasons to talk your way out of it (“threat processing”, remember?). “10 dollars to lose” is always “worth more” to the mind than "10 dollars to win". Why? Because historically - failing to recognize a threat meant a difference between living and dying. But this not the case anymore, and I'm not the first person to say this.
Doing something regardless of what our mind says about it – that is freedom FROM the mind. Freedom OF the mind is possible too – it’s just not something that can be brought about by voluntarily nor is it something that is constant (in its presence or absence).
And sometimes part of healing an injured foot is taking a slow walk around the block – it will hurt like hell – but it’s good for the foot.
Sometimes taking the mind for a walk around the block is good for the mind – sometimes it isn’t. But in the case of the mind – we can’t know when it’s one or the other – and it certainly doesn’t help to pretend we do know.
True courage is not in never being afraid. True courage is in being afraid – but marching on anyway.
We’d like to think of ourselves in a way as if we can never fall. We can all fall and break and those who think they can’t – will shatter the most when they do fall and break.
The best we can do is – to promise to ourselves that no matter how many times we fall, no matter how much our minds freak out, no matter how much every bone and muscle in our body hurts, no matter how much we worry about whether we will keep the promise we are just about to give to ourselves – whenever we fall – we will keep trying to get up again!
Never hesitate!

© Stjepan K. Kračun. All rights reserved. Published online on skkracun.blogspot.com on September 21st, 2019.