Archive for the Liber et Audax Category

Amethyst Anniversary

Posted in Liber et Audax on September 22, 2017 by Occult Detective

Ah, finally… the first day of Autumn. The Equinox is a magical time, reflecting the balance between day and night, light and darkness. On this day, seventeen years ago, Kim and I spoke our vows, becoming husband and wife. She was, and is, the light to my darkness.


It’s been an amazing journey.

We’ve been a couple just shy of 19 years, partners for 17, parents for almost 14. We’ve slept in Rapunzel’s Tower, survived the Devil’s Punch Bowl (two separate versions of it even), walked the ramparts of Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, were bewitched in Salem, and stormed the Magic Kingdom.

Today, we celebrate our lives together.

I cannot imagine a better companion moving forward through life, nor a more suited accomplice in our adventures to come.

I called Kim the light to my darkness. She is that and so much more…

She is my forever.

Happy Anniversary, Kim. I love you.

And to all of you, a Blessed Mabon and Happy Haustblot, from my family to yours.



Godspeed Grandpa

Posted in Liber et Audax on August 22, 2017 by Occult Detective

grandpashirleyYesterday, as the moon had just begun to blot out the sun, my grandfather, O’Neal Shirley, crossed from this world to the next.

He was 89 years old.

He should have left us a few years back, but you see there’s something about my grandfather you may not know — he was the toughest, hardest working, and strongest man you could ever hope to meet.

Death was in for a fight.

Grandpa Shirley had toiled in the fields all his life. He grew up poor in rural Arkansas and struggled to build a life for his family, eventually settling in rural Indiana.

The Shirley surname comes from ancient Saxon, meaning ‘a clear place or pasture’. It was a fitting name for him.

Grandpa was a horseman and farmer and I bailed a lot of hay and cleaned a lot of stalls for that man. He pushed me hard, but pushed himself harder.

I have so many fond memories growing up on that farm as a child. It was hard work, but it was honest, and looking back on it, a lot of fun.

It seemed like every farmer in the area had a “Neal Shirley” story, usually centering around feats of strength or some sort of MacGyver-ish hack for fixing broken down equipment that just sort of came natural to him.

Whether it was of him tossing hay in a field barefooted or fixing a busted belt with bailing twine, the general gist of it all was that he was as tough as nails.

He was a good man. He may never have quite understood me, but that’s okay. He loved me and I him, and that’s what mattered.

My favorite picture of us together is from Converse’s Old Fashioned Days, just a little over 50 years ago, on August 12, 1967. I was 17 months old. He would have been 39.


Godspeed, Grandpa. You taught me far more than I think you realized and I love you for it and so much more.

August, die she must…

Posted in Liber et Audax on August 1, 2017 by Occult Detective

…the autumn winds blow chilly and cold.

Well, not quite yet. August in Indiana is usually 30° warmer than I’m comfortable with, but there’s no denying the change in the air.

As I drove home from work yesterday, with window down and Led Zeppelin thundering from my Jeep’s beleaguered speakers, I was drawn to the smells of First Harvest. I passed several fields of freshly mowed hay and I could not help but be transported to the days of my youth when such smells with the harbinger of weeks of back-breaking but satisfying work ahead.

In as much as I equate rummage sales and homemade ice cream to my paternal grandparents, my maternal side is punctuated by memories of horse stalls and baling hay.


If you would have told thirteen year old me that one day I would miss spending hours tossing and stacking hay, that younger me would have called you worse than a fool, but it’s true.

I miss those corded muscles of youth, the sweat and exhaustion of a sixteen hour day spent on rickety wagons and in sweltering barn lofts, and the taste of a lukewarm Dr. Pepper gulped down in the shade of a rundown pick-up truck.

These feelings grow with each passing year, but I felt those memories more heavily yesterday, a soulful burden I was more than happy to bear. I imagine I will feel that weight even more in the days that lie ahead…


My latest literary endeavor — First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum — is available via Amazon and other online retail outlets in both ebook and trade paperback.

You might also be interested in checking out my Etsy store, TheOccultDetective.

In My Time of Dying

Posted in Liber et Audax on May 18, 2017 by Occult Detective

I woke up this morning to the news that legendary vocalis dei, Chris Cornell, had passed away following a concert in Detroit. He was 52. I’ve spent the day, like many, playing his music, reminiscing with friends online, and generally mourning the loss of such an awesome talent.


I discovered Soundgarden in 1990 via the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack. Their contribution, a song called Heretic, was instantly memorable and led me to seeking out more of their music, but it was 1991’s Badmotorfinger that sealed the deal.

1991 wasn’t a great year for me emotionally or physically. I was in a spiritual funk and, to be honest, a bit burnt out. I was pretty much five or six years into drug and alcohol addiction and pretty frazzled.

Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, the Meat Puppets, and a host of other bands from that neck of the woods were a staple. Lots of people considered Cobain the voice of a generation, but I always thought Cornell was the defining figure. His lyrics were insightful, his vocals as powerful as any that had ever erupted out of a pair of speakers.

Now, hours later, it seems all but certain that Chris Cornell took his own life. Death is never welcome, but even less so when it is so senseless. There’s a horrible epidemic in this country. Opium in all its many guises has its grip on far too many.

It’s a bloody shame. I feel for his wife, his children, and everyone who loved him.

Chris Cornell will be sorely missed. Though his body will have left us, his music will last forever…

It is fitting that the last song he performed was “In My Time of Dying”, a traditional blues hymn popularized by Led Zeppelin.

“In my time of dying, I want nobody to mourn. All I want for you to do is take my body home. Well, well, well, so I can die easy…”

Godspeed, Chris Cornell. May you rest in peace.

in salo fluctuans

Posted in Liber et Audax on May 17, 2017 by Occult Detective

brentRaising a horn to the memory of Brent Smith, who would have been 51 today.

I was friends with the guy for 43 years and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him.

It is generally the simple things that I drift back to.  My ‘go to’ memory is the two of us sitting on the porch on Martin Street, drinking Bud Longnecks, smoking Marlboro cigarettes, and listening to Led Zeppelin III.

What was so special about that afternoon? Not a damn thing. We were just two guys in the prime of life, sitting in the shade, without a care in the world. Brent always had that easy come-easy go attitude that I was jealous of.

Left to my own devices, I would conjure up dark clouds of doom, gloom, and despair, but Brent had a way of making any problem seem trivial and easily vanquished by some good music, cold beer, and plenty of smokes.

I will forever cherish his trademark raised eyebrows and Cheshire Cat Grin that meant he was aiming to misbehave. Well, we did a lot of misbehavin’, Brent and I, and I am confident that wherever he’s at these days, he’s up to more of the same.

I love you, buddy.

In like a lion…

Posted in Liber et Audax on March 3, 2017 by Occult Detective

March stormed in with a roar on its lips and fangs bared.

The 1st was a whirlwind punctuated not only by a near gale-force bluster but by a little celebration of my nativity with Kim and Conn as well.

We ate chocolate-covered rice krispie treats and I opened presents. All books this year, which is really what I hope for whatever stripe present-receiving comes in

I snagged a couple of graphic novels — Conan: The Throne of Aquilonia by Roy Thomas and Mike Hawthorne and Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire by Neil Gaiman and Sean Oakley, two Conan pastiche novels — Conan the Rebel by Poul Anderson and Conan of Venarium by Harry Turtledove, and, most notably, Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology.

We capped the revelry off with some homemade pizza and a couple of episodes of Deep Space Nine. Hard to argue with any of that, let me tell you.

I’m one lucky guy. I couldn’t have asked for a better family or better friends.


newguitarYesterday, the 2nd, Skadi and Höðr returned, bringing with them cold and snow. The snow was fleeting, however, though when it came, it came with a fury.

On February 27th I had traveled south to an old friend’s house. Tony gave me a guitar and practice amp he no longer had use for and I brought her home. She needs a little TLC, but she’s got good bones and I’m proud to have her.

I’d been sweating over a name for her and set up a poll on twitter and posed the question of facebook. I got some great suggested from everyone and I finally settled on her nom de guerre.

The idea came from two places. First, another old friend, Michael, had posted ” I dig that raven beauty“, then, my son, Connor, decided to write his critical essay on Poe’s The Raven.

Raven. By Odin’s beard, how could she be named anything else? She’s still in need of some of that TLC I was talking about, but she still sounds good and I’ve been enjoying my time with her.

Raven. Yeah, I dig it.


I should have a few announcements soon, writing wise.

I recently sold a short story to a respected small press magazine and I have a couple others that should be popping up over the course of the year.

This weekend we’ll be ironing out the details on my next two releases from Seventh Star Press, a Landon Connors Collection titled First Born and my Wolfe & Crowe novel, Descendant.

As for actually putting words on paper, I’m nearing the end of my Raben Wulfsson sword & sorcery novella, but I’ve decided to put it on the backburner for a bit. I have another tale that needs to be addressed, with a potential market lined up.

I’ll share more as soon as I’m able.


In addition to scoping out the cool new books I got for my birthday, I’m reading Kate Morton’s The Lake House with my Water Street Book Club partner-in-crime.

On the small screen I’m currently digging reruns of Deep Space Nine and Friday the 13th.

I’m still adventuring in Skyrim and playing Dungeons & Dragons via roll20 and Skype.

I could go on, but my phone keeps ringing…


Posted in Liber et Audax on March 1, 2017 by Occult Detective



Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” — Stephen Hawking
I admittedly have spent almost the entirety of my 51 years on this planet with my head in the clouds, innately and insanely curious about the boundless mysteries that surround us.
As I celebrate another revolution around the sun, I am thankful for my continued, insatiable thirst for unraveling the esoteric and for those friends and family who humour my eccentricities.
I am truly blessed.
I look forward, after a long day of work (and writing, I hope), to a nice, quiet evening spent with the two most important people in my life.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” — Edgar Allan Poe
Skál, my friends, and good cheer. Liber et Audax!
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