War Journal 65: Return of the Light Crusader

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m some sort of perpetually running engine.  Get up in the morning and exercise, go to work and work, come home and eat dinner, do some home improvement projects on days off, rinse, repeat.  Here and there I’ll find time to squeeze out a short story and I’ve actually managed to write like four stories since I last blogged.  One got picked up by Baen for an upcoming anthology, the other three I’m peddling.  I’ve been trying to get back to finish the novel, wrap up the trilogy, you know?  It’s been a crawl and will continue to be so until I get some of my home improvement projects done.

I was starting to get tunnel vision, a very “veteran in the trenches” type feel, where you’re doing the writing almost on autopilot.  The why’s don’t matter.  The where do they go once I finish don’t matter.  Plot, character and satisfying reading experience are the only things that matter.  Will the story even sell?  You know what, doesn’t matter.

Today I opened my inbox to find someone had commented on one of my older posts, dated November 25, 2013.  The post was about my story “Light Crusader’s Dark Dessert” debuting on Intergalactic Medicine Show.  I’m going to reprint the comment here in it’s entirety and add a link to the sampler described below:

This short story was featured in the Not-A-Hugo-Sampler Sampler Issue this year, and I read through all of the short stories (minus the audio one). I thoroughly enjoyed your short story, as did my husband after I insisted he read it. I would have to say it was my favorite of the collection. The way you mixed very different genres together was masterfully done. Most attempts to do this would come off as very jarring, but you blended them together into a very cohesive story. The “Moses” analogies were hilarious, and the interlude with Terra was beautiful. Jake and Alex were both well-developed, with your supporting cast as 3D as any reader could desire. My husband especially would like to know if you’ve written anything more in this setting, or with Jake Tamerlane (is that a reference to Poe? To the Persian king?). It appears that most of your work is short fiction – I know we, at least, would be interested in purchasing any novels you were to write in this world.

I don’t get praise often, much less praise like this.  It reminded me why I’m in the trenches… why I write.  A story I wrote two years ago found its way to a reader through the sampler issue and impressed her enough to highly recommend it to someone else, who in turn also enjoyed it.  Oftentimes I forget I’m not just doing it because I like my own stories… even though I swear sometimes it feels that way.  Every now and again you guys like my stories too, and you find a way to tell me so.

Awesome.

Original artwork for Light Crusdader

Original artwork for Light Crusdader

For those of you who have yet to check out “Light Crusader’s Dark Dessert”, go to Intergalactic  Medicine Show and pick up the sampler issue.  It’s FREE!  For those of you who have read the story and wonder some of the same things these readers wonder, I actually do plan to revisit this setting and Jake Tamerlane (a reference to the Persian-Mongol conqueror).  There are so many more flavors of the Apocalypse that he’s aching to have a go at.  It’ll be a novel I’m sure.  While I can’t say for sure if it’ll be my next novel, it definitely inspires me that someone’s looking for it on the horizon.

We’ll see…

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UFO 4 Needs You!

ufo4

Hey gang,

Been a minute since our last one-sided conversation in cyberspace, right?  Soon I’ll update you with news on what I’ve been up to, but in the meanwhile UFO 4 is dropping!  Once again I’m on board as an associate editor, reading anonymous stories in the slush.  That’s going down in April, but right now the Kickstarter’s active, it’s coming down to the last ten days and we need your support.

You guys aren’t new to this if you’ve seen me work.  And there’s a lot to love about the 4th installment.  Stories by Neil Gaiman and G.R.R. Martin top the list of headliners, specializing in dark humor.  That’s right folks, UFO 4 is all dark humor this time and around.  This kind of stuff has always been a favorite of mine because of the wicked fun of it all.  Who doesn’t wanna laugh at something we should probably not be laughing about?

If I can get it into my mind to do something appropriately dark and funny I may have a story in it as well… we’ll see.  In the meanwhile, head on over to the site, check it out and preorder/support the cause!

 

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War Journal 64: The Shower

Life’s been pretty uncomplicated for me since my return to the States.  Got a job, went to work, wrote some stuff, then rinsed and repeated a few times.  This isn’t a complaint… while 2014 was fairly low key in terms of writing milestones and side quest completions, the pace was welcome and probably necessary in the ongoing story of my life.  But on the ass end of that slow boiling year, as if setting the tone for 2015, my wife gets implored by a long time friend to host and coordinate her baby shower.

When my wife received this message (email, text message I can’t remember which) she looked at me.  It wasn’t the usual look of lusty admiration.  She didn’t have a song in her heart, but a question on her face.

“Should I do it?” she asked.

“Yep,” I answered, quick, sure, full of confidence.  My wife’s a craftswoman, a top notch designer, and a ruthless perfectionist.  I absolutely knew if anyone could design an awesome party, it’s her.  I figured with all the hours she’d be spending on the shower, I’d have plenty of time to play my PS4.  Normally she asks for a bit of help in projects, but not this time.  I’m a dude… about as foreign to baby showers as women without veils are in Saudi.  I’d be of practically no help.  So I started thinking about level ups.  Hell, maybe I’ll actually do something useful on the ass end of 2014 and write too.

The joke was on me… I didn’t do much PS4-ing or writing.    When I wasn’t working at my job, I was an unpaid employee for Shower Inc.  I was going to stores to buy materials.  I was going back to the stores to buy more materials.  And I was being brought to her workstation (decidedly not a playstation) so she could get my opinion on the ballerina girls or the diaper cake or the xyz.  The thing is, she’s an awesome designer, and I’m NOT, so she wasn’t really asking me for my opinion, because I’m of the mind to buy the party supply store’s only options and call it a Wednesday… she was really asking me if her ideas were sound.  And they were, cause she’s an awesome designer and I still have my original blog wallpaper because well… I mean… it fits, right?  At first I figured it was just for the first few days, week at the most, but I got word that our family friends wanted to invite men to this baby shower… go new school with it.  That meant planning men’s game, which meant more input which meant no end in sight.

Here’s where I shorten the long story… we spent what I think was a month but felt like a lifestyle planning, plotting, designing and shaping this baby shower.  My wife spent countless nights up and awake–planning, crafting, creating the perfect decorations, researching the funnest games, drinking the strongest coffees.  I know because sometimes I woke up for water and got dragged into “what do you think of this…” scenarios.

But the day came and, just like I knew, she pulled off a pretty much perfect party.  The guests marveled at the decorations.  They raved about the food.  Several people told my wife they had never seen such a beautiful arrangement, and they had been to showers and events that were professionally planned and catered.  Many guests took pictures of the set pieces.  One person told me we should open up a business; we could take pictures of this layout and put them into a portfolio.  That’s when I started taking pictures myself.  Not too many, as I was still in my Bentley Farnsworth assistant role (which is a really busy role), but those pics are below for your viewing pleasure.  Sorry if they’re blurry but, again I was busy.  And remember, virtually all the decorations you see are handmade, custom built for this shower.

photo 3

That’s the diaper cake.

photo 4

 

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Intelligence Report: FirstSiteGuide.com

Making sense of the whirlwind of blog topics

Making sense of the whirlwind of blog topics

Have you guys been saying good things about me, telling folks you like my blog?  Reason I ask is because I was approached by a representative from firstsiteguide.com, asking me to take a look at it and let my readers know what I think.  Well, I’ve browsed the site, looked at some of the advice, enjoyed some of the fun pictures and I’m pleased to report that it’s worth checking out if any of you are interested in blogging.

They cover the gamut of blogging, from the history, to why people do it, what kinds are out there, how to make money from blogging, you name it.  Maybe I should look at the chapter about monetizing the blog… who couldn’t go for more of that right?

If you have an inkling of a kernel of a nugget of an idea you wouldn’t mind blogging about, I definitely recommend checking them out.  When I first started fictigristle, I wanted to document this war in the trenches, the journey from selling my first story at token pay to becoming a pro to (now!) working on getting a book deal.  I remember when I thought it up I wasn’t sure of how to really start, what things to include, where to host it, etc.  Having something like that back when I posted my first blog would have helped make the war in the trenches feel less like a war.

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