To celebrate I'm giving away a FREE Kindle Fire HD! This will be my last giveaway for a while, at least until my next book comes out, so enter today and take advantage.
Have fun and Good Luck!
After three months of hard work (mostly by my very talented voice actor, Andrew Wehlren) the audiobook version of SOME ARE SICKER THAN OTHERS is officially for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
To celebrate I'm giving away a FREE Kindle Fire HD! This will be my last giveaway for a while, at least until my next book comes out, so enter today and take advantage.
Have fun and Good Luck!
WaveCloud, a cool, new eBook retailer operating out of Denver, is giving away my book and thousands of others for FREE on their website. To help spread the word, they're giving away a Free Google Nexus 7 Tablet. All you have to do is enter a valid email and your on your way to a whole new social reading experience.
THE WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN...
A BIG CONGRATS TO IVAN CERVANTES WHO PULLED THE WINNING TICKET!
Well, it’s that time of year again. Sleigh bells, mistletoes, carol singers, and eggnog…lights, ornaments, Christmas trees, and wrapping pager. It’s my favorite time of year; a time of giving, a time of receiving, a time to be with friends and family. But it wasn’t always that way for me. In fact, it used to be downright awful. I’ll never forget six years ago on Christmas morning, I woke up in a hospital strapped down by my wrists and ankles. My chin was cut, my head was pounding, and, according to the nurses, my blood alcohol level was approaching the lethal limit. It seems I had gotten too carried away with the "spirit(s) of Christmas" and downed an entire bottle of sleeping pills, not to mention enough bourbon to kill a small elephant. As a result, I was on 72-hour suicide watch at St. Joseph’s hospital, somewhere out in dreary Reading, Pennsylvania.
I remember the nurse came in and turned on the television. A Christmas Story was playing, which, of course, runs continuously all day on Christmas. As I lay there, watching Ralphie shoot his eye out over and over, I sobbed quietly to myself, wishing the doctors would come in and put me out of my misery. But they never did. They released me only 24 hours later, after I convinced them I wasn’t suicidal, I just mistook the Advil for Trazodone.
I got a taxi ride back to my apartment, but not before having the driver make a quick pit stop at the liquor store. The rest of the day I spent on the phone trying to get into detox, only to be turned down because the facilities had reached maximum bed capacity. I eventually gave up after a few short hours and opened up my only Christmas present that year—a handle of Cutty Sark scotch whiskey. A week later, I was back in the same hospital, ready to do it all over again for New Year’s.
That was six years ago. I’m now four years sober, which it means I had to go through two more Christmases like that before finally hitting rock bottom. To tell you the truth, I nearly didn’t make it. I nearly died more times than I care to remember.
It always seemed to be worse around the holidays. I'm not sure why. Maybe it’s the time off from work, maybe it’s the loneliness, maybe it’s knowing that you’re friends and family are celebrating without you. Whatever it is, it tends to make us addicts all that more self-destructive. As if by numbing ourselves we can get it over with that much quicker. Its no wonder I had such a hard time getting into detox. This is the busiest time of year for rehabs. All the beds are filled up. It seems everyone is checking in somewhere.
Because of this sad fact, I wanted to do something really special for the holidays. I know what it's like to be alone and addicted on Christmas.
So, all this week, Monday through Friday, I’m giving away my book, Some Are Sicker Than Others, for FREE on Amazon.
I figure what the hell, this is why I wrote it—not to fill my pockets, but to help other people suffering like I suffered. If my story can help just one addict get sober, I’ll know I did my part in giving something back this Christmas.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don't wait. Get into treatment. I know it's frustrating right now trying to find a rehab that's accepting patients. But keep at it. Don't give up so quick like I did. Let this be the last Christmas you or your loved one has to use or drink.
November 30th marks a very important day for me. On this day, exactly four years ago, I arrived in Denver ready to start my new life as a recovered alcoholic.
It was a fresh start for me, a chance to start over. I didn’t know anyone in Colorado, but it didn’t matter. I figured as long as I stayed sober, I’d be okay—my higher power would take care of me.
Since then, I’m happy to say that all the Promises they talk about in AA have come true for me. I met the girl of my dreams—fell in love with her and her beautiful daughter. I began my creative pursuits as an actor and writer. I starred in a couple Indie films and even published my first full-length novel.
Yep, I’d say Denver’s been pretty good to me, which is why after 6 short months of trying to “make it happen” out here in Los Angeles, I’ve decided life’s too short to spend without the ones you truly love. So, once again, I’m packing up my little Toyota Corolla and heading back for the majestic mountains of Denver, CO.
Since this is such a huge milestone for me, I wanted to do something special. And what better way to celebrate than with some ole fashioned American consumerism?
On November 30th (Friday) I’m going to give away a FREE KINDLE FIRE preloaded with my top five favorite books about addiction and recovery. To win, all you have to do is complete the tasks in the contest entry form below. Each task has a different point value. The more tasks you complete, the better your chances of winning the KINDLE FIRE. Second prize is a $25 Amazon gift card. Third prize is a signed copy of my book, Some Are Sicker Than Others. Winners will be announced Friday, November 30th. But you don't have to wait until then to enter the contest. Start today and improve your chances!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Drew and I doubt I ever will. As far as I know, he’s not a fan of my writing and most likely he has no idea who I am.
So, how could someone who I’ve never met and never spoken to have saved my life? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s simple really. Because he cares. He genuinely cares about helping addicts get sober.
Through his sincere compassion and tireless dedication, Dr. Drew has not only eliminated the stigma associated with addiction, he has given addicts, such as myself, hope for recovery. How has he done this? By showing, in a very public and high profile way, the devastating effects of this debilitating illness.
From the fatal prescription overdose of Alice in Chains bassist, Mike Star, in 2011 to the shocking alcohol-related drowning of Rodney King over this past summer, the patients at Dr. Drew’s famed Pasadena Recovery Center have reinforced for me a very valuable lesson: Addiction doesn’t give a damn who you are or where you come from; it doesn’t care how many records you’ve sold or how many Oscars you’ve won; if left untreated, this illness will destroy your life and everything and everyone around you.
Now, a lot of people have criticized Dr. Drew saying his show is "exploitative and manipulative of its cast members." They say that the cameras only serve to fuel the patients’ own narcissism and self-destruction. And how can anyone recover in that type of environment?
I couldn’t disagree more. Almost anyone who walks through the doors of a recovery center does so with great humility and powerlessness over their illness. I don’t care who you are; a doctor, a lawyer, a musician, an actor. The fact that you’re checking into a rehab means you have been brought to your knees by something beyond your own power. Sure, the people on Dr. Drew’s show were once big time celebrities with lots of fame and money, but when they come through those doors, they do so with just as much hopelessness and desperation as any newbie in recovery.
And those deaths I mentioned above, although unfortunate, reflect the reality and severity of this unforgiving illness. People die from this thing, and they die painfully and horribly. In fact, according to the CDC, a total of 23,199 people died last year of alcohol-induced causes in the United States, while a total of 38,371 people died of drug-induced causes. That’s 61,570 deaths in one year alone! Or, if you prefer, 69 per day or about 7 per hour!
But these deaths are rarely ever publicized. And, if they are, it’s certainly not to the extent that the death of a high-profile celebrity, like Whitney Houston or Heath Ledger, stirs up in the media. Is this unfair? Sure, but that’s just the nature of the media. They seemed to be obsessed with celebrities and all things Hollywood. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from these stories. Although tragic, deaths like these serve a very specific purpose; they remind us of the insidiousness of addiction and the devastating effect it has on not just the afflicted, but everyone it touches.
Now, most of us “seasoned” addicts don’t need this reminder. After all, we’ve lived through it for many years and after many relapses. But, for the young people out there who are just now entering treatment, this message can be life-saving. Allow me to explain.
Even with all of Dr. Drew’s efforts, there is still quite a bit of shame and stigma associated with addiction. And this shame is what keeps a lot people from getting into treatment. However, by showing the public struggle of the people we hold high in our society—heroes like Rodney King, Dennis Rodman, and Jeff Conaway—young addicts are able to see that addiction is not a lack of will power, but a grave medical condition.
As someone who spent the better part of the last decade in and out of rehabs, ER’s, and detoxes all over the country, I know how difficult it can be to accept this concept. For many many years, I blamed myself for what I perceived to be a “weak moral fiber” which, of course, made quitting even harder. You see, I was so ashamed of myself and my inability to stop drinking that I decided the only way out was to drink myself to death alone in my apartment. Fortunately, I had some people in my corner who never gave up on me; specifically my mom and dad, Patty and Randy Seaward.
No matter how fucked up I was or how far down the spiral I had gotten, whenever I needed them, they were right there to bail me out, unconditionally. In fact, they nearly went broke sending me to the best dual-diagnosis facilities all around the country; Oasis, Foundations, Betty Ford…you name the rehab, I’ve probably been there. And every time I went, I promised never again to pick up the bottle. Yet, in a matter of weeks, I was right back at it, driving around drunk, puking in toilets, passing out at work, basically just destroying my brain and liver.
It wasn’t until I really started listening to the stories of other addicts in AA meetings, group therapy sessions, and even shows like Celebrity Rehab, Intervention, and Loveline, that I finally began to accept my addiction for what it truly was; a chemical imbalance. Without this acceptance, I know in my heart I would have never gotten sober. And I sure as well wouldn't have had the opportunity to share my experiences through my writing.
This is why I say Dr. Drew saved my life. Like many of the counselors and addiction treatment professionals I met in rehab, Dr. Drew taught me a very important principle about addiction--that it is a medical condition, a serious, chronic illness, and as such, it needs to be treated with utmost medical care and attention.
In other words, a “healthy dose of willpower” will not solve it. You need a teacher, a counselor, a medical professional…someone who can guide you through the recovery process.
For anyone reading this thinking they may be an addict or might need treatment, please don’t wait. Get help today, from a licensed professional. You can’t do this on your own. Believe me, I tried many times and was unsuccessful.
The Junkie Tales by J.A. Kazimer is a collection of short stories centered around the ‘incomprehensible demoralization’ of substance abuse and addiction. Although fairly short in length (hence the term “short stories”), each story packs so much point of view and so much power that I couldn’t help but devour page after page until I was completely finished.
Like a coke addict on a three day binder, I found myself up all night, helplessly consumed by Mrs. Kazimer’s direct, concise, and almost confrontational narrative. Her characters aren’t only three-dimensional and fully-loaded, they are real people with real problems. In fact, several times, I found myself stopping to ponder the familiarity of the stories. Nearly every character in there reminded me of someone I’d met during my adventures in rehab. It was hard to pinpoint who exactly. I’ve been in recovery so long and have heard so many different stories, after a while, they all seem to just wash together. But the familiarity was there, somewhere in my subconscious, which tells me one of two things; either Mrs. Kazimer has first hand experience with addiction or she’s done enough research to paint us the harrowing picture. Either way, the stories performed for me a very valuable function; they remind me how good it is to be clean and sober. Believe it or not, I still need help remembering. Even though it’s been four and half years since my last sip of alcohol, I still catch myself fantasizing about taking a drive to the liquor store. The numbness, the tranquility, the absolute euphoria….I know it’ll kill me, but god damn, sometimes I just fucking crave it. You know?
But then I read something like this and I am quickly reminded of all the pain and all the havoc that comes with relapse. And I ask myself a simple question: Is it really worth it? Sure, the first few weeks may be somewhat tranquil, but eventually the beast inside will awaken and I’ll end up like one of Mrs. Kazimer’s characters; broken, ravaged, infected, and empty; utterly dependent on something that’s corroding my insides and destroying everything and everyone around me.
So, the answer to the question is NO, IT'S NOT WORTH IT. Not by a long shot. And for that I have to say thank you, Mrs. Kazimer. Thank you for keeping me honest.
Fierce. Raw. Compelling. These are the words I’d use to describe Marni Mann’s gut-wrenching debut novel, Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales. Written with the conciseness and urgency of a surgeon cutting into the left ventricle, Ms. Mann cuts through all the clichés and false glorification of the typical addiction/recovery story, and shows us just how truly debilitating this illness can be. But she doesn’t do it all at once. Like the proverbial frog cooking in a pot of boiling water, Marni starts us off slowly and deliberately, with small, barely-noticeable spikes in the heat. In the first chapter, we are introduced to Nicole, a fairly innocent, albeit emotionally-scarred, twenty-something college drop-out, intent on numbing herself with benign amounts of liquor and weed. But after moving to Boston with her plutonic, brother-like boyfriend, Eric, Nicole begins to experiment with other “mood enhancers” like shrooms and speed. She soon spends all her money on eight-balls and liquor, only to find herself broke and in desperate need of something potent and cheap. That’s when she discovers heroin. A tenth the cost and a hundred times more powerful, it is exactly what Nicole needs to erase her past.
With gripping precision and hauntingly accurate detail, Ms. Mann describes Nicole’s first descent: “The taste was an odd mix, sweet like kid vitamins and bitter like vinegar, and it burned my lungs. I felt it, slowly, at the tip of each limb and then a rush up to my head. The rush wasn't anything like coke. This, well, this was euphoric—tingles and sparks and melting—like I was being swallowed by a cloud of cotton and the sun was wrapping its rays around me like a blanket. I could feel my chin falling towards my chest, my back hunching forward.”
Of course, as we all know, this feeling doesn’t last. No matter how hard you try, nothing can ever replicate the euphoria of that first hit. Eventually, you wind up empty and soulless, devoid of all human emotion, a mechanism operating on one thing and one thing only; the hunger for the next taste that will make you somewhat whole again.
Nicole experiences this exact same soullessness, while getting rammed in the ass behind the alley by some fat, sweaty biker dude: “Now, heroin controlled my body. And since it had been violated, did it really have any value to me anymore? No. I could whore out all I wanted. I could screw ten guys for a hundred bucks. As long as dope was inside me, I didn't care if a man was too.”
Unfortunately, this type of dejection is right on the money. I should know. As a hopelessly depraved addict myself (now with 4 years sobriety, but only by the grace of God), I can say, without hesitation, that Marni nails the depravity, down to its gritty core.
The pain is real. The hopelessness is real. The only thing unreal is Marni’s ability in getting the details of it so damn accurate. How did she do it? I wondered, as I devoured page after page of frighteningly familiar debauchery. Was Marni an addict? Did she experience the same hell her junkie protagonist, Nicole, had experienced? I decided to do a little research. To my surprise, I found out that Ms. Mann wasn’t an addict herself, (although she had known many in her life, including one very close who had overdosed.) But then how was she able to write the highs so well if she had never actually injected? The simple answer: research. Not only is Ms. Mann a gifted writer, she is a fierce investigative journalist.
As she explains in the FAQ section of her website (http://marnismann.com), “the biggest source of information came directly from the addicts themselves. In fact, most of the addicts I interviewed were high. They were dumping the heroin onto a spoon, liquefying the powder, and shooting it into their veins while I was in their presence. Within a few seconds of pulling the needle out—because that’s how long it takes to get high—my questions began. How did they feel? What did they see? What was running through their head?”
Wow. Now, that’s what I call being a dedicated writer. She didn’t watch some video on Youtube or pop in Trainspotting. Nope. She went right to the source; the junkies themselves. No wonder this novel is so gripping. It feels like you are right there with Nicole in that roach-infested Boston motel room shooting dope into your arm. It makes me so happy to read something so brutal and compelling, especially since it's in the same genre I love to write myself. What Marni has done is truly an inspiration. It makes me eager to start working on my next book. Well done, Ms. Mann.
This book is definitely a must read for all addicts in any stages of their addiction and/or recovery. But I don’t think you have to be an addict to appreciate this story. It is written so well and with such precision, that even if you can’t relate directly to Nicole’s struggle, you feel vested enough in her character to keep the pages turning. And you wanna know what the best part is? Oh hell yeah…there’s a sequel!
To check out more please visit Marni’s website at http://marnismann.com or click on the Amazon links below. Happy reading everybody!
Memoirs Aren't Fairytales
Scars from a Memoir
Ever wondered when someone was going to make a film about all those pirates in Somalia? Well, here it finally is! Shot entirely on location in Kenya, Fishing Without Nets tells the true story of a group of rogue Somali fisherman, who risk everything to give their families the basic human necessities that many of us take for granted.
Over the weekend, I had the distinct opportunity of speaking with the producer of the film, Raphael “Raph” Swann, who also happens to be a long-time friend of my financial advisor and fellow actor, Robert McNeil. Raph explained that one of the challenges of producing such an ambitious project was securing the actors or rather the “non-actors” that would portray the pirates, themselves. Obviously, you can’t just walk around Somalia asking if there are any pirates who wouldn’t mind taking a film crew on their next raid. No. You’d end up in a burlap sack at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. But what you can do is take a couple Somalis from nearby Mombasa and convince ‘em (with enough shillings, of course) to let you follow ‘em around for a couple weeks, which is exactly what Raph and director, Cutter Hodierne, and co-writer, John Hibbey, ended up doing.
“Originally,” as Raph explained, “we were only supposed to be in Africa for a few weeks, but ended up staying for over five months.”
And it was anything but a walk in the park, as you can imagine. In fact, the first night they were there, Raph and friends found themselves handcuffed together and staring down the smoking ends of a couple AK-47’s, while men in military and police uniforms forced them to wade out into the Indian Ocean. It seems, during a late night stroll, the close-knit group of filmmakers wandered out onto the wrong beach front property and were apprehended and accused of trespassing.
“The whole incident was a pretty frightening experience,” explained Raph. “I had just gotten off a plane and the next thing I know I’m being handcuffed and held at gunpoint.”
Fortunately, the whole incident was over in a matter of minutes. For only 150 bucks, the guys were able to bribe their way to freedom. “That’s just the cost of doing business,” Raph explained. “Bribing people, getting robbed by cops, either legitimate policeman or not…those all just administrative fees you have to be prepared for.”
Scary stuff and not something I’m sure I’d want to stick my neck out for. But these guys are a different kind of breed. Artists, first, adventurers, a close second, this group of Indiana Jones-esque filmmakers don’t mind shedding a little blood for the sake of their art. It’s no surprise they’re going back in only a month’s time to begin principal photography on…yep, you guess it…the feature-length production. It’s gonna take some doing, but one look at the short and you’ll see why it’s definitely worth another round of roughing it in the African wilderness.
Beautifully shot with an uncanny attention to detail and authenticity, this short film feels more like a guerilla-style documentary than a work of narrative fiction. The actors or rather, “non-actors” I should say, are absolutely superb. They live, breathe, and exude all that is Somalia, simply because they are Somali’s. They don’t need to act. They’re the real thing. And I don’t know about you, but I find this sort of filmmaking so refreshing in today’s big-budget, over-produced, over-dramatized sequel-soaked comic book industry. Getting eye-level with the real thing is so much more enjoyable than watching a bunch of actors in Burbank trying to pull off authentic Somali accents in between takes of sipping Starbucks lattes.
The short has already been making waves (pun intended) in the short film festival circuit. In addition to claiming the coveted Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at Sundance, it is also currently in the running for The Wrap’s Short Film Festival Award, which carries with it a prize of $60,000 worth of camera equipment from Panavision. You can watch the film in its entirety at http://shortlistfilmfestival.com/films/fishing-without-nets. And PLEASE PLEASE VOTE. Trust me, these guys would know what to do with $60,000 worth of camera equipment. The contest ends September 3rd. So, vote today!