*Crickets*

You can’t always judge people by appearances. Likewise, just because my website looks dead doesn’t mean it is. I know on the internet if a website hasn’t been updated in a month it’s officially declared dead, so I guess my site is looking like some mummified relic of a forgotten age.

But I’m here to change that.

So I took a “sabbatical” (it’s just a word I use to feel better about being completely unproductive) from around the first of the year until around June. I feel pretty bad about it, but hey, them’s the apples. Work has been pretty hectic and I have a baby on the way, due the end of next month. I tell myself that’s enough reason, but then again excuses are cheap.

I’ve tried to be more active in my local writers group and the online crit group I’m a member of. I found a pretty decent (so far) writer’s exercise workbook from Goodwill that I’ve been slowly making my way through. Since June I’ve written two new stories that I’m currently editing and I’ve got a submission that’s been out for 122 days. It is by far the longest I’ve waited for a response and it’s slowly killing me.

One of the stories is a western, the first I’ve attempted to write and I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve got to send it out to a couple of beta readers after this next round of edits and see how it goes, but I hope that within a month or so I can get it out on submission.

Also, the NC State Writer’s Contest is coming up with a deadline in early October. I’ve got to decide what my strongest story is, send it out and cross my fingers.

I feel like my writing is a lot stronger than it was a year ago. Well, actually, I think the writing itself is about the same, but my storytelling or story construction seems to be coming together in a more coherent way. I actually went back and read some things I wrote two, three years ago and was surprised that they didn’t make me laugh at how horrible they were. I’m thinking of doing a few edits on them and submitting them. I didn’t think they were even worth the attempt after I wrote them. It’s amazing what your impression of your work can be if you just get a few years away from it.

So, despite the lack of updates here I am trying to keep my nose to the grindstone, and while I pull away often I always go back. I’m really hoping I can get more disciplined in my routine, but again with an infant on the way I don’t think I can give myself too hard of a time. Though, plenty of people do much more against far more difficult situations, so I shouldn’t use that excuse too much.

There’s only one thing that’s going to get me to where I want to be and that’s persistence. And the more constant the effort the quicker the results. Well, you would assume. Nothing goes anywhere if I’m being lazy.

I’m going to put my head down and pull my collar up and endure. And I’ll try not to forget I have a website until I get a renewal notice.

Still here…

Not that you can tell, been like six months since my last entry. I’m still plugging away writing and trunking and hopefully improving my skills as I go.  I joined a local writers workshop but its more of a support group than anything constructive and I think that’s ok. If nothing else it gives me a chance to spend some time with like minded individuals that take my writing seriously and that is a really big deal. I’m still getting used to it.

I have joined an online crit group and got great feedback on The Heirloom. I also got a rejection on that piece and the editor praised the voice as being “impressively and consistently well done”. Being a period piece I think that’s a huge compliment. I know the story portion needs some work, but I’m still fairly proud of that story.

My latest story “The Drought” is without a doubt the best I’ve written so far. It’s currently being reviewed at a magazine, looks like the got past the slush readers so assuming that’s correct then that’s a compliment. I fantasize about the market buying the story but I really don’t believe it will happen, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a personal rejection. It’s the little victories.

I’ve been playing too much Minecraft recently, but I’ve made some progress in the past few days. I got a new story idea while I was out mowing the yard this past weekend and I’ve gotten a pretty decent start on it, though I’m still trying to figure out where the story is going. Based off my history I’m trying to do a bit more planning on where the story is going before I really dive int it. It can be pretty depressing to have a story just go on and on and on and have no idea where it’s going. That’s when I have a real bad habit of having my characters getting knocked out. Hey, you live and learn.

Anyways, I’m very excited about “The Drought”. I think it has a good chance at being the first story I get published. Or maybe, its the first story I feel confident enough about to actually try. Either way, I think good times are coming.

Until then, I’ll keep on writing.

Looking Back – Another Audit

Now that 2015 is moving forward and we can already see our resolutions splitting apart at the seams, what better time to take a look back at 2014.

Last year I performed my audit of 2013 a month late and this year I’m right on time! Booyah. Small victories.

I still haven’t done the best job of keeping tabs on things, so it’s not the easiest to go back and try to summarize, but it looks as if I wrote 7 stories last year and I submitted 7 stories. Now by the data alone that doesn’t look that great. In 2013 I wrote 27 stories, although not all of them were finished and I submitted 9. I actually feel a lot better about 2014. The stories I wrote last year were longer and more fleshed out. 2013 was a year of flash stories. I also feel that the last few stories I’ve written actually have potential. And it’s pretty cool to actually see it show up in my work. I’ve spent more time revising and rewriting than I did before, probably because I can tell it’s worth trying to improve them. And they’ve all been closer to 10k words than a measly 1k.

I also received my first hold request on a submission and positive comments from the editor despite the work not being right at that time.

Sadly, I’ve not made any progress on the novel. I did run over a few chapters, taking notes and attempted to make some changes and get the story flowing again, but I had another short story pull me away. I think I’m fine with this at the moment. I feel like working on short stories is a good focus for me at the moment and as soon as I get what I’m working on currently finished up I’ll make the novel priority number one while the shorts I’ve polished get bounced around the circuit.

The October Slump hit me pretty hard again. It’s something I really need to keep tabs on and see what’s going on. I’m slowly figuring out my process, what works for me and what doesn’t. And for whatever reason it seems April, May and June are highly productive months for me while Oct-??? aren’t.

My goals this year are again, write everyday (even if it’s only 250 words), submit a story a month, and something, something, something. Pretty sure there was another one. Oh, read more, I have a lot I need to improve on, but I know I’m better than I was last year and that’s at least forward momentum even if the numbers don’t reflect it.

I really feel like 2015 is the year I could become a published writer and I’m excited to see where this year takes me. I’ve got a 10k story waiting for the red pen of my SO, and one I just finished revisions on this weekend that was submitted last night. I obsess too much over my work and my submissions and pretty much everything there is to obsess about. I’m trying to keep focused on tasks so instead of obsessing I stay busy and produce more.

So here’s hoping 2015 is a year of dream fulfillment for us all.

A Pit-Stop in Georgia

I’ve been running this blog for a year now. I’m not extremely happy with how much content I’ve put into it at this point, but just like my writing it’s something I’m figuring out as I go along. Or at least I hope I’m figuring it out.

I submitted a story to Apex Magazine’s microfiction contest Stealing The Spotlight for Halloween. The results came and went and I was not among them. I don’t do much microfiction and she’s a tough beast to slay, so I can’t say I’m particularly surprised I didn’t place. I can’t think of anything else I can possibly do with the story, other than at some point use it as the beginning or concept for another, longer piece. In celebration of a year of blogging I’m going to post it here.

A Pit-Stop in Georgia

I pull into an old country store, the kind with a rusted Coke sign, and gas pumps gone unused since the Carter Administration. Dust still hangs in the air as I step out. I check my appearance in the side mirror and adjust my tie. I ‘m driving a black Lincoln Town Car with dark, tinted windows. I see out. No one sees in.

The store has history. Aged hardwood floors that add an other-worldly atmosphere, like stepping back in time. My bones ache from the drive and I hope a quick pit-stop will give me a boost. A man weathered with age greets me as I enter. “Howdy, stranger. Anything you’re looking for?”

“Afternoon. Just stretching my legs. I admired your store so I wanted to take a look.”

He tells me the history of the place, how his wife died a few years back, and what his kids are doing down in the big city. Despite his age his eyes are youthful and innocent. Reflections of his soul. He meets the gaze of my dead, soulless eyes. I see out. No one sees in.

I brush his hand with mine. His eyes reflect unyielding pain. It’s my gift. I suck in the last breath of his soul and head to my car with energy for the rest of my trip. A pit-stop was just what I needed.

Been Too Long . . .

Apologies for the delays in updates. The other day was National Poetry Day and I meant to take the time and get an update on here, but I failed. Better late than never.

For There Be Monsters

Time passes, moods change, love dies
The future marches forward, the past lies motionless,
But not without moments of resurrecting
Ghosts long wished forgotten

The present stalls, as does our breath
For in our hearts we know that truly nothing
Worth forgetting is ever remembered.

Fickle dreams of yesterday question thoughts of what’s
Yet to come, yet to be, yet not conceived.
And yet, tomorrow always comes, yields to no one,
Takes nothing but the promise and gives nothing
But regret in return.

And with eyes open and heart in hand you return to the moment
That never ends.
The here and now, heading for the hereafter
And longing for the before and the never.

Will we remember or be lost in our cause or purpose?
Tomorrow and yesterday are not places to rest your bones.
Nor is hope or regret.

Let not the rising tide, the ebb and flow, affect your plans.
Set sail regardless of the tide, the weather, or the gibbous moon.
Set sail and if reaching your destination is averted by the Fates
Or Poseidon, sail on.

Set sail and go until you reach the ends of the Earth
And sail onward.

For there be monsters.

The GOASTT of John Lennon

My SO loves John Lennon. L-O-V-E-S. There are three posters of John in our bedroom. A lesser man might have reservations about another man (and obviously, a much greater, more talented man) being plastered all over the bedroom, but hey at least it’s not My Little Pony of some other girly, frilly stuff. Besides it’s not that kind of love. That would be Henry Cavill or Chris Hemsworth, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

She emailed me today telling me I needed to check out a Youtube video. So I did. And it was the video below. The GOASTT (The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger) – Animals. (Warning: Video contains female nudity- tame version here.)

My first impression was this guy was just trying to imitate John. Then I realized it was Sean Lennon and his girlfriend, Charlotte Kemp Muhl (who my SO calls ‘Hempy Kempy’), and I was still skeptical. But from the little I knew of Sean’s career in music it seemed like he was always trying to step out of his father’s shadow, not hide in it. So I listened to the whole album Midnight Sun. After a couple of songs I realized that if Sean has decided to simply imitate his father to evoke nostalgia for his own personal gain, then so be it because it was damn good. But before I finished the album I knew that Sean wasn’t imitating anyone, he had simply found himself and it just so happens the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The collaboration of Sean and Charlotte is reminiscent of his parents and evokes a sense of wonder of what they could have continued to produce if John hadn’t been murdered by a psychopath.

I’m a big fan of psychedelic music and Midnight Sun from start to finish (with the exception of one song) is the best psychedelic music I’ve heard in a long time and possibly ever. I’m a very hard-headed person when it comes to people sharing music with me. I’ve been around for three decades and I have enough music in my head for a lifetime. I like what I like and I don’t really care to stretch my comfort zone to allow in interlopers. I’ve opened myself up a lot recently, getting into The Neighbourhood’s I Love You for example, another top notch album. Maybe being so closed minded about music is the reason, but I only tend to find an album I love start to finish like once every five years. But Midnight Sun is a gem of an album. It’s not perfect, but it’s damn close for me.

I have pretty eclectic musical tastes. I like music that I know anyone within earshot would question me about. Or possibly commit me. I know the things I can listen to around my SO and the things that will make her threaten to castrate me if I don’t turn it off right now. But The GOASTT’s Midnight Sun is not an acquired taste. After one listen to the album I knew I liked it. That’s rare for me. Usually I have to listen to an album on repeat while I do other tasks like writing and it sneaks its way into my subconscious and then I wake up and realize ‘I LOVE THIS SONG!’. Other times, I can listen to an album ad nauseam and then hate myself for wasting my time. (Lulu I’m looking at you!)

If you like 60’s psychedelia I highly recommend you give Midnight Sun a listen.

9821_goastt

Status of Things

So I’m still plugging away. I haven’t felt very productive recently. I got some feedback on my recent stories and plan to do at least one more revision on them to incorporate a couple of suggestions, but I’ve been tied up with two other stories I’m working on.

The main story I’m working on now was inspired when I found a pocket watch that had been left to me. I can’t remember exactly when or how I got it, but I know from my father it belonged to my great-grandfather, Andrew. It’s never worked since I’ve had it, so I popped it open to get a look at the clockwork. Apparently, the winding gear is broken, not sure how difficult or expensive it would be to fix or replace, and I’m not sure that it’s the only problem.

Anyways, so that sparked the idea of a young man in the early 1900’s, taking a leave of his studies to return home after his grandfather’s death. He discovers, while going through the estate, a pocket watch that was left to him and, after some time with it, discovers it has a mysterious ability.

I like the idea, I’m just not sure how it’s going to play out. I’ve also been reading Chekhov and Wells to mimic their style and vocabulary to set it in the time period. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve written. Usually takes me about an hour to write 250 words or so just because I’m focusing on a different style, but it’s fun.

I’m also toying around with the idea of posting some stories on this blog, maybe one here and there when I feel it won’t sell but still see worth in the story. At the moment I’m not really sure, but then again, worst case scenario I could always delete it later if I thought it was crap.

I’m also lacking much of an audience, but maybe that’s because I’m lacking the content. I know this blog tends to fall by the wayside with everything else I have to focus on in life.