Tag Archives: personal

The Impact of Your Work

This humble post is about a story and a song, neither of them mine.

Let’s start with the story. Back in 2009, when I began my first foray into real writing and couldn’t get published to save self-esteem, I’d do market research at all the top magazines. Not only did I want to know what kind of stories they were looking for, I wanted to see what successful writers put in their stories, maybe get a glimpse at their secret sauce. Eventually I ran across Sock Heroes over at Strange Horizons. The first paragraph is a mere two words and from reading those words I was instantly hooked. Unlike some characters who come with built in empathy–the plucky orphan, the hooker with a heart of gold, the starry eyed youth–the protagonist was one I couldn’t care less about BEFORE I read those two words. And just like that, I cared. The author M. Thomas skillfully built on that empathy and by the time I was done I was simply amazed. I realized in no uncertain terms you could write about ANYTHING and it will make for an awesome story, if done right.

Her story spoke to me, and I wanted more from her.  Strange Horizons hosted another story called Beguiling Mona. I don’t have to sell you on how good it was; anyone familiar with my work can see how this story inspired me. Even hungrier now, and pretty much a fan at this point, I looked for more of her stuff.

And that’s where it all went dry. She had written from 2002 and stopped at 2006. By the time I had discovered her, a great many of the magazines and sites she had been published in were defunct.  Googling M. Thomas is probably the worst Google search I’ve ever had to conduct. Thomas can be a first name, a middle name and a last name and M. is just M. I literally could put M. Thomas with the name of the story with the name of the publication it was in into Google and have to damn near scroll to the bottom of the page to find a hint at the right person and oftentimes that was the SFF database ISFDB and not her actual work.

I’ve never figured out what happened to M. Thomas. I don’t know if she just gave up on writing, if life got in the way, or if she’s no longer with us.  I’d like to tell her that I learned much from her examples, especially with character development. Perhaps I’ll share those lessons with my fellow aspiring writers out there in a Creative Combat Arms section sometime in the future. Mostly, I’d like to thank her for enriching my life with her stories.

Her website never worked. It was ironically called www.found-things.com.

Let’s move on to the song. Much more recently, a couple months back, I stumbled across “The Last Laugh” on Netflix. Starring Richard Dreyfuss and Chevy Chase, it’s about an old comedian and his even older manager who decide to do one last comedy tour. So Chevy’s on a date with Andie MacDowell and they stop at a singer performing at a street corner. The song took over, this was at 53 minutes in, and it was bigger than the movie.

I’m ok with folk music and really not much for country… I think I can count on one hand the number of country songs I like and I’d still have enough fingers left to gouge some eyes in a bar fight. This song sat squarely  in the middle of those two genres and it absolutely spoke to my soul.

I tried to Shazam it and it failed. I ran it back, played it again and Shazam failed again. And again. I waited for the end of the movie, got her name, Jessie Payo, from the credits, did some Googling and still couldn’t find her.  And when I say Googling, I mean her name + fractions of song lyrics, maybe add the movie when that didn’t work, maybe change the lyrics to something else in case I misheard it with all that movie dialogue going on around it. Still nothing. In this day and age it’s like she wasn’t trying to be found or something!

Today I woke up, watched a show and afterwards decided I wanted to hear the song again. It still moved me and I realized why. It’s like a flash fiction story. The song encapsulates this brief span of time after you’ve gotten to know someone enough to be comfortable and trusting but before you and that other person are in a relationship and building it.  It’s not about love but rather the journey of discovery towards something that could be love, something neither of you’ll know until you go on the journey. For me, it brings me square back to over twenty years ago, to warm Louisville summer nights and two people who both knew whatever the hell they were doing made no sense but still took that journey together. So when I hear this song, it’s like my wife’s singing it to me.  And I recall a time that was pure magic and become joyful we decided to take that journey that didn’t make any damn sense together.

I decided to try to find Jessie Payo and her song again. And I found both. This is Jessie Payo’s website and this is her song Dance Real Close as I heard it on the movie. When you go to the comments section of the song’s page, you’ll see troves of folks pouring in, saying the movie brought them there and they searched and searched and searched and they were so glad to finally find it.

It’s amazing, the impact your work has had or will have on people. Scores of die-hards may find you and tell you or you may never know the extent.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a household name. It only matters that you put your skill of craft and passion into it.  That piece of your soul will speak to others in a language all its own and enrich them for having discovered it.

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Pendulum Heroes

Hey folks,

While it may seem on the surface that I’m doing my usual incommunicado thing, there’s been a lot of stuff going on in the background.  I finalized my stories for the upcoming issues of Apex and Lightspeed magazines (I’m the FEATURED writer for Lightspeed!), got interviewed by a class of tenth grade students (which I thought was very fun… they asked some great questions),  seriously leveled up my formatting (more on that later), and oh, what else… I finally made my novel into a real physical thing!

Pendulum Heroes is set up for preorder on the majority of ebook retailers.  Check out the Amazon page, which seems to glow to me.  This is for the e-book only… I’m still finalizing the print edition, trivial details such as the ISBN placement and such and as soon as that’s done it’ll appear on the page as an option.

But who wants to wait for all that finalization before I tell you guys that it LIVES!  It’s physically in the world.  Look!

I tried to get as far away as I could from standard covers and the usual format.  I’ve written a lot of stories getting here and I’m especially proud of Pendulum Heroes.  I wanted the physical book to be something I could proudly display on a coffee table and the only way to do that right was making sure most of you could also proudly display it on a coffee table.  To ensure that happened, I teamed up with Micaela Dawn, an artist I believe will be world famous some day.

The inside’s beautiful too.  When I say I leveled up my formatting, I spent an untold age learning things about Microsoft Word most mortals don’t.  I learned about gutter margins, mirror mode, page breaks, section breaks – continuous and new, drop caps, headings, and man a lot.  This may sound weird, but it got fun, y’all… it’s about as close to playing a game with Word as you can get.  Most of the stuff you won’t notice… which is the whole point.  It’s been perfectly formatted so the words disappear so you can enjoy the reading experience.

Pendulum Heroes is set to go live June 10th.  But I couldn’t wait til then to tell y’all and show you the book!  While I highly encourage copping a print edition for the feel of it and for any unadorned coffee tables you know of, the e-book’s also beautifully inlaid with custom stylized touches.  Besides, it’s Friday, some of y’all just got paid and I’d be remiss if I let that money burn a hole in your pocket.  So hit up Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo (they have a preview!), or Apple, preorder the digital version now, forget that you ordered it and then get hit with a pleasant surprise when your device loads it up for you on the 10th.

Don’t tell me I’m the only one who does stuff like that.

If this was your coffee table, you’d already be home by now.

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War Journal 77: Brevity, the Soul of Twit

So I’m on this road to self publishing this book, and there’s a couple of things I needed to do in conjunction.  Book Publishing Side Quest One: increase web presence.  I’m pretty sure studies show that on average 0% of Americans buy books they never knew existed.  The numbers from the UK are even worse.  Yeah, you may have heard of me, but what about your neighbor or that dude that bagged your groceries the other day? Have you even told your family about this sporadic thing you enjoy called my published fiction?!  Point is, I need to delve into more social media outlets.

With much fear and trepidation, this week I joined Twitter.  If anyone out there’s like me, meaning hasn’t joined Twitter and hates Facebook, I’ll tell you firsthand you may like it better.  I do.  Twitter’s not overly concerned with pages and status levels of everyone you ever knew… it’s more of conversation based thing… like you’re at a large party with some friends, maybe their friends, and some work associates that you’re various levels of cool with… and one of them says something you’re interested in.  Join the convo.  When something else piques your interest, head over there and see what they’re talking about.

Honestly, when I first logged in I figured I’d be in the quiet, lonely void for a good hot minute.  I mean, its a microworld of hashtags and @ symbols!  But it didn’t take long for me to find some folks I knew and get talking.  Now I’m fairly comfortable.  At this rate I’ll be throwing up hashtags like middle fingers to the law by the end of the week.

So that’s about all the soft selling I’m gonna do.  Find me out there @WriterBeamon.  Let’s chat for a bit about Book Publishing Side Quest One or whatever’s on your mind.

You’d be surprised how much you can cram in that space

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War Journal 74: Two to View

I meant to do this last week, but life got in the way… this time in the form of my nephew who came to visit.  He’s 18 now, and because of my former life as a military servicemember and deployed defense contractor, I hadn’t seen him in years.  So I spent a while talking to him about the Air Force (which he plans to join!), investing and life in general.  Also, I spent a good minute aggressively trying to not get my ass whipped on my own PlayStation games.  It was brutal, y’all.  Meanwhile this is the stuff that happened in publishing last week.

yousinheaven-cover

Counting back from the most recent first, my story Yours in Heaven debuted in Sci Phi Journal.  It’s the story of a sociopathic arms dealer who goes from being a captive in an interstellar zoo to Commander-in-Chief of an alien army.  I wrote this awhile back and I’ve always loved it because of the voice and style.  Unlike a good many of my stories, I think Yours in Heaven is uniquely appropriate for Sci Phi Journal, as they include the philosophical talking points which gives the reader much more to consider beyond what’s just going on at the surface.

apexmag92

Then earlier in the week, along my road to (hopefully!) J.K. Rowling fortune and glory, I accomplished one of my writing career side quests.  My story Soliloquy in a Cheap Diner Off Route 66 debuted in Apex Magazine.  These guys have, bar none, the BEST submission guidelines in the business.  My story is about Lolonyo, a man with strange and awesome abilities, who is trying to brute force his will over the seemingly immutable laws of the universe.  Not only was my story published, but Andrea Johnson over at Apex interviewed me, and it was a really awesome interview.  Granted, I’ve only done a handful of interviews in my career as a writer, but Andrea had some really dope questions.  Read the story, which is free on site, and then check out the interview.

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