One Hundred and Thirty-Eight Days In A Row!

Today marks the completely random milestone of 138 Days in a row of posting! Ever since February 8th I’ve had at least one post each day. It’s just something that sort of, happened. Though the idea did have it’s roots in me lying there in isolation with covid reading M.R. James. It wouldn’t be until a month later that I actually started hitting the output.

Sure, a lot of the posts have to deal with Wordle. Which I’ve gotten a little tired of, both playing and writing about. There’s been some bookish thoughts and some writing updates as well. 

I wonder if I can make it another one hundred and thirty-eight?

The Dead Unleashed: Released

The Dead Unleashed is the third book in The Unleashed Anthology Series. It’s also the first book that I’m being published in. Which I still cannot believe is actually happening. 

If horror – particularly the zombie apocalypse – is your thing then check out The Dead Unleashed. There’s over six hundred pages of undead horror written by thirty authors. Each with their own unique take on the zombie apocalypse and the titular creatures themselves.

 The Walking Dead is almost over with, The Dead Unleashed is a great way to get that zombie fix. Available in print, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Amazon Author Page: Chicken and Egg Experience

The setting up of my Amazon Author Page hit a snag right away. See, this is going to be my first published work through Amazon. I’m burying the lead a little their. It’s my first published work anywhere. The thing is in order to setup my account, I have to have a book listed on Amazon. However in order to be listed in the book on Amazon, I have to have a page. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

It’s a bit of tricky thing. I sent a message to them four days ago. Maybe they don’t work on weekends, but it’s Amazon. That message included a choice snippet of my agreement with the publisher as that is the best I could do. Hopefully that gets resolved before April 15th

In the meantime, I’m kind of kicking myself for not having self published something sooner. There are so many projects that I have that could have been tied off and slapped into something slim and affordable. I’ve been trying to make a plan as to how to proceed.

Also, it had to be the egg right? 

I Wrote A Short Story

Books

I’m gonna be published! A couple of months back, I got reacquainted with horror. Which is something I’d been actively avoiding during the last couple of years. With all the craziness in the world and the pandemic. I felt like the last thing I needed was to experience some poor soul’s no good, very bad day.

However, being trapped inside can change a person’s perspective. As mentioned, I’d been listening to the Magnus Archives. The podcast’s creator, Jonathan Sims, has said he was inspired by the works of M.R. James. Which inspired me to give M.R. James a try.

Which gave me an idea for a story that I started working on immediately. Wouldn’t you know it, that story gave me another idea for a completely different tale. To skip to the end, the newer one stuck and is finished. 

In fact, it’s actually been submitted to a publisher for review for the possibility of being included in an anthology. I’m post submission and feel weird. Not nervous. More like an excited calm. For some reason I really think I have a good chance of getting in.

I’m Gonna Be Published!

I’m gonna be published! Just got the confirmation email on Monday with all of the paperwork. What’s coincidentally weird is that on Sunday night I was thinking that I should have heard back. The publisher had given me the all clear to check in after month, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing so. Maybe I just didn’t want bad news. 

Lo and behold the very next morning as a check my email I immediately recognize the name on the email. I was so excited I could barely read the email. Nervous? No, excited. There was near immediate recognition that the email was positive and the news was good.

I’m thrilled that I’m actually getting a work published. Selected by someone else to be published. It’s an amazing feeling. The realization that I’m not officially a published author. That’s amazing.

Then the nerves set in because I realized that people are going to read this. Oh the nerves!

Writing Is Hard

Writing is hard. Pretty much everyone reading this is a writer and doesn’t need to be told that. It’s no secret, nor is it difficult to figure out on one’s own. Stories and thoughts are milling about inside each and every one of us. Only a subset are worth manifesting into some physical or shareable form and an even smaller subset of those will actually come to fruition. 

Not only is finding the time difficult. Aligning that time with the energy, mindset, and need to write can be a challenge. I try to set aside time each and everyday, usually in the morning to write. More often than not, the time is there and available. All I have to do is seize it. Which I do more often than not. 

However after so many days for seizing that writing time and looking at the results or gains, it can be difficult to want to continue this – dare I say – enterprise. To which, even though it can sound a little disheartened at times, I respond with, “Yes.”

“Why?”

“I do not rightly know. The simple idea of pointing at a work and saying that’s mine. Bring some manner of escapist joy to one’s life. Perhaps even inspiring others in some form. If nothing else, it’s a fairly inexpensive way to pass the time.”

Well, there it is. Plenty of meat to pick on that bone. After a sesh of picking, it turns out that the I write because I’m cheap. Writing apps are inexpensive. Especially when you don’t subscribe annually to those kind of writing apps. A website, also inexpensive. Oh, they can be expensive, but they can also be free. Guess which one I have? Actually my site isn’t free, but I did get a good deal from WordPress. 

How do you feel about writing? What keeps you going?

Nanowrimo 2021

Photo by ASTERISK KWON on Unsplash

Nanowrimo 2021 starts tomorrow. As of this writing, a whole bunch of word-psychos are stocking up on coffee and snacks, writing notes in regards to where they are leaving off in life, kissing their loved ones good-bye, and are about to declare war on writing apps. Sounds normal.

I’m sitting here writing this on October 31st. When I started this post, I was going to clearly declare that I’m not doing Nanowrimo this year. I have a full time job and enough extracurricular activities that even putting aside expendable activity like television, video games, and reading, would net me a small amount of time for writing. 

For me it seems that signing up for Nanowrimo this time would be setting myself up for failure. I felt this way early on. Not signing up for Nano was the safe and easy choice to make. As I read and deleted emails from Nanowrimo, I felt good with my decision. It was liberating. 

This morning, October 31st, I began to have a change of heart while checking my emails. I felt compelled to log into the Nanowrimo website. I started looking around. I saw my old projects. The wins and the losses. The enticement of pounding out words and hitting that lofty 1667 daily word goal. That feeling I had when I won Nano back in 2018. The ideal achievement of writing a first draft. Which in actuality is getting a pile of meat to pick at and eventually sculpt into something coherent. Who doesn’t like meat sculpting? Gross!

I’ve done more than a few Nanos. Failing at more than I’ve won, but typically enjoying the time either way. It does feel great to hit that goal. In general it feels good to write. I guess I’m going to need to think on this a bit more. Hmmm.

Are you taking part in Nanowrimo 2021?

Have All The Big Science Fiction Or Fantasy Series Already Been Made Into Movies Or Television Shows?

Have all the big science fiction or fantasy series already been made into movies or television shows? That was a question posed on The Book Riot Podcast. With television shows for Foundation, The Wheel of Time, and The Lord of the Rings all coming out soon, as well as Dune, and so many other series having already made the transition, it was an intriguing question. 

Now, I love fantasy books and I was basically talking to the podcast as an interviewee whose mic was on mute. Especially as some of what I thought to be obvious choices hadn’t been listed. I understand that the question took into account how well known and “cool” the series is. Along with how much content there was to convert to the visual mediums. 

Below are a few of the series that came to mind:

Conan, done the right way. If you’ve read Conan you know what I’m talking about. Conan was a testosterone fueled barbarian of a man. But there was so much more going on in that melon of his. Conan is thoughtfully stoic and an ultimately unsatisfied and unhappy man. Questioning the world while carving out his place in it and striving to leave a legacy. Yes, he had muscles and killed whatever needed killing. But he also had some deep thoughts about life and what it is to be human, though more specifically, a man. 

A straight translation would be a bit toxic by today’s standards. Not to mention racist. That’s why I think it would be poignant to view Conan through the lens of men’s mental health. Focus on his thoughts and gain a better understanding of his actions. Conan deserves the subtle treatment after all the short attempts that, while entertaining, miss the mark. 

Malazan Books of the Fallen is actually the first series I thought of in regards to the initial question. While it may not be a widely known gateway to fantasy, it is just ever so slightly beyond the threshold. The main series is voluminous, being comprised of ten huge books. With several other series and novels supporting it. The first book was a movie script at one point in time. 

The setting and cast is sprawling. There are many vibes and beats that are similar to Game of Thrones. Yet, there is a humor that wasn’t present in A Song of Ice and Fire. There isn’t so much hopeless drudgery going on either. There is definitely magic in the world! It’s been there the whole time, it didn’t go anywhere. There are many different types and boy do people know how to use them. There are so many characters, magic users and others alike that can be described as, “Badass.” How could there not be when people are ascending into godhood while other gods are dying. Did I mention that the series has been completed? 

The Black Company was written well before the Malazan series and served as a huge inspiration. Almost a little too much. As in imitation is the sincerest form of flattery too much. Don’t have to take my word for it though. Read The Chronicles of the Black Company around the same time you read Gardens of the Moon. What I’m getting at is, if Malazan seems too ambitious, go with The Black Company.

The Black Company is often credited with a couple of accomplishments. The first being, bringing fantasy to a human level. These characters aren’t chosen ones, but simply soldiers for those chosen types. For a quick reference think Rogue One. The second is having characters that aren’t heroic by default, in fact they follow quite an evil path. The Black Company is a band of mercenaries. In this case, they’ve been hired by an evil wizard named, The Limper. They fight a campaign as per his wishes. What’s interesting is how the first book is written as war journal. Other books in the series take on a more traditional third person point of view.

Dragonlance came to mind a little more slowly than it should have. It’s well known enough and has the most content to adapt from. I remember having a discussion with one of my friend’s dad who was at least his kid’s age older than I was, and how he had read tons of Dragonlance. For me that was amazing to stand in the presence of an elder nerd. The series has been around since the eighties and has a large ever replenishing group of readers. Maybe it didn’t make The Book Riot list because it’s a shared world. However, the core books were written by the same people.

The cast and stories are contained. Focused sharply on eight characters that mainly stick together the entire time. No need to have to trace lineages and allegiances. Dragonlance may be too straight forward by today’s standards, but it’s also something the younger folks could watch as well. 

Is there a series you think I left out?

A List of Reasonable Length Declaring Why Being Pen Pals Is Great!

Pen pals, having one and having been one, is something I’ve be reminiscing about recently. I’ve also been proposing that people start writing to other people. Either me, a friend, or – in true pen pal tradition – some rando. Being pen pals is a great way to connect again or for the first time. Here are some reasons why.

  • It is and always has been, socially distanced.
  • Smooths out the awkward re-entry to socializing. Face it, it’s been awhile. Things are going to be weird. Hide the weirdness in a piece of long form writing.
  • You get to talk about yourself in large chunky monologues. Just let it flow! Let it all out. 
  • Your pen pals also gets to talk about themselves in large chunky monologues. Which is great because people are like TV shows. Imagine trying to watch a show again after missing a couple of seasons. Because – *SPOILER ALERT* – that’s what has happened!
  • Connecting via video and phone are great, but they are a bottle neck.  The conversation is real time. People will accidentally talk over one another. Smaller, but just as important details and threads of thought will be lost. The minutia is easier to track in written from.
  • You don’t have worry about being muted or if the camera is on. 
  • There are so many ways to write! By hand, phone, or computer are obvious. Go pull that typewriter or wordprocessor out of some closet. Send it by email or blow the dust off that printer and classic mail it! Who doesn’t love mail that isn’t bills?
  • Perhaps best of all, writing can be done on your own schedule. No need to set up a coinciding time with your pal. Write and read at your convenience.

Book Blurbs: “Do we need them?”

Photo by Rashtravardhan Kataria on Unsplash

Book Blurbs were the topic of an article I read the other day. Essentially, the purpose and future of book blurbs were called into question. Who relies and is influenced by blurbs? Do they even help sell books? Some blurbs can ride the line between flippant and miracle item. 

Book blurbs for me are simply noise that my super nice brain auto-culls from existence for me. I typically only notice them post transaction, as I’m putting my book down for the night. “I read it all night!” The blurb states in a flexing manner. Causing me to wonder if something is wrong with me because I am a responsible failure who is going to sleep instead of staying up all night reading. To be honest, even if I wanted to I can’t physically do it. I get sleepy while reading later at night. 

Personally, I do not care who has signed their name or said whatever about a book when I buy it.  Let me qualify that some. I do frequent book blogs, reviews, and podcasts that may sway me or enlighten me on the existence of a book. Typically though, it’s an advertisement or a spoiler free review. Telling me what the book is about is going to influence me more than someone’s blurb. 

Not being able to put the book down or reading it in one sitting sounds like I’m going to have a rough few days and develop a UTI. 

If I go to party, I want to go home. If I play a video game, I will want to go to bed. Even if I’m having a great time. There’s more great times to be had another time and keeping a schedule is going to make me feel a whole lot better. I want to read a book by Hunter S. Thompson, not be Hunter S. Thompson.

Also, how true is that? How many people have read these books in one sitting and couldn’t put it down? Who has torn a book in half and yelled, “A masterpiece! I must go buy another copy!” 

What do you think? Are book blurbs necessary? Are they as effective as they once were?

Pen Pals: Remember Those?

Remember pen pals? At some point in my grade school career I had one, from somewhere. Pennsylvania maybe? How fun was it to write and receive letters from a person on the other side of the country or perhaps world? Why did we – in general – stop the pen pal thing once we got older? Sure the phrase “adult pen-paling” sounds kinda gross and should never be uttered or written again. Burn it! Generally, people seem to look down on being pen pals once we get older. There’s some negative connotations around pen paling and mental health, self-worth, and being lonely. If this pandemic should have taught us something, it should have been to empathize better when it comes to those three things. Reaching out to people and letting them know they are not alone is a small thing to do with a big impact. What better way to reach out to people then by being pen pals.

I think I remember having a pretty okay time. I don’t remember where he was from or his name exactly. Nor do I remember what we wrote about specifically. After looking through my journal – a school assignment from around the same time – I’m sure I brought up video games, comic books, and Dungeons & Dragons more than few times. I’d go as far to say those three topics made up my body of work. For whatever reason, I feel like my pen pal – Bjorn, Jasper, Mikey, I really do not remember his name – wasn’t into those things. 

Somehow we managed to trudge along through our words for the small amount of time we were pen pals. The trudging was made even more difficult by all the letters having to be handwritten and fulfill some sort of length requirement. I don’t know how my pen pal and I made it through the required time having no shared interests other than we had access to a pencil, a sheet of paper, and were being forced to write to someone. Maybe we did that kid thing that kids do where they simply co-exist in the same space but do not interact with one another in the slightest.

Back to being all grown-up. Ironically, now there’s so many ways to connect with people. Many of them involve the written word. Yet so many of those ways seem impersonal and superficial. In many cases that thin veil of communication is totally acceptable and all that is needed. Sometimes though, there needs to be more. More thought, more connection, more words that could help us understand one another better. Much of the social media experience is about quantity not quality. That’s an observation, not complaint. There are plenty of reasons to measure quality by the quantity of engagements. What a rush to have people engage in a positive way!

As it turns out, my youthful time spent pen paling wasn’t as enjoyable as I’d originally thought. While that revelation is sort of making me second guess the original purpose of this post, I still think suggesting that people pick up pen pals once more is a good idea. Especially now during the pandemic. It’s not over yet and people are still feeling isolated and cut off from their normal lives. Pick up a pen and a pal and get writing.

What do you think about pen pals? Have you had one in the past? Would you get a new one now? 

I Won Camp NaNoWrimo April 2021

I participated in Camp NaNo April 2021 and won! Granted I was editing my book, so the word count bar was set below sea level. Set up for success, there was really no way for me to lose unless I just didn’t do any writing at all. Looking back I should have used hours instead of words. Either way I read my book several times and changed a lot of things. While I had fun, I missed the frenetic pace of a usual NaNo. 

There was a different feeling to this one than previous NaNo’s I’ve taken part in. Typically it’s just spewing words from my finger tips as consistently as I can. Just keep writing. Run into a section that isn’t working or causing a blockage of some sort? Move on to something else! Did I just write the same sentence twice? Did I leave out a word or obviously misspell something? I’ll fix it in post! That’s editing for another time! Just do not stop writing! Ever! Get the words out and deal with the mess later.

That’s the advice of every single author I’ve listened to on the matter. First drafts are meant to be absolutely messy and look like you don’t have a clue what is going on. So, I guess I did the first draft correctly.  

However, I think I may have to tighten that up a bit after doing some editing. Reading pages and wondering what the heck I meant wasn’t much fun. Though there is a catharsis to deleting entire swaths of text. The kind of sensation that makes one wish that getting rid of other issues in life was just as easy. 

With April and another NaNo behind me, I continue to move toward a completed manuscript. There’s still more editing to do, but I’m feeling incredibly excited about finishing it up.

Did anyone else take part in NaNoWriMo? Have you taken part in any previous one? What was your experience like?

Middle Grade Book

I’ve been writing a middle grade book since the July 2020 Camp NaNoWriMo. Well, there was plenty of prep work before then. I remember that I wrote the outline on a ferry ride from Vancouver Island in February of 2020. Prior to that there was the project that this one spun off of. That original project is still being worked on and would be the perfect companion for this book. Though I spectacularly failed Camp NaNo it was where I really started writing the first draft.

The story is a departure from anything else I’ve ever written and is my second middle grade effort. To be perfectly honest, this book has been exactly what I needed to work on in the spare moments of 2020 and 2021. Something that is hopeful, kind, and full of love. Celebrating everyday life and giving respect to the challenges and trials folks face on a day to day basis. Plus, I find the characters are wonderful to spend time with.

My writing time for the last three quarters of 2020 was completely decimated. Almost to the point of non-existence. In addition to the failed Camp NaNo I found time to make some notes here an there, but not much else was done. During the first three months of 2021, I dusted off the project and started adding to it. Fleshing out some parts and bridging any gaps that had been left. Within a few weeks I had a complete rough draft. Once April rolled around I started revising and editing, using Camp NaNoWriMo as motivation. Not that I necessarily need external motivation. I’m already feeling motivated on my own account. The feeling of wanting to finish has now turned into the feeling of needing to finish. 

For many years writing a book to completion has been something I’ve wanted to accomplish. It would be absolutely incredible to be able to say, “I wrote book.” Being able to get it in front of readers would be a dream come true. 

I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself though. Each day I do some editing and each day I find more I want to change or add. I’m thinking by the fall, I can get a few people to begin beta reading. 

What have you been working on? Did 2020 give you the time you needed to write or did it take it take it all away? Did you learn a new skill during 2020?

Why I Started Blogging

I started blogging because I’d always liked to write. However simply liking to write wasn’t enough. I had to make time and actually do the writing.  Blogging allowed me to do this. Once I started blogging, liking to write quickly turned into wanting to write, followed by needing to write. At some point in time I actually became a writer.

Before blogging, I tried my hand a few times at writing books. Writing a book is a daunting challenge to enter into. All those characters and events, not to mention all the pages with all the words! If you’re not committed to a schedule things can go off track easily. So I tried some short stories. Which felt a bit more comfortable. Though sometimes I felt like I was dealing with more than a short amount of pages could properly handle. Short stories are deceptively difficult to write. There is a certain art to containing the characters and events within a short amount of pages.

The main goal of blogging was to just write and get comfortable with writing consistently. Chiseling out daily chunks of time and keeping a schedule was important. Life will always attempt to create things that need to be done. Some are truly a priority while others can wait. Having the opportunity there to write for myself was necessary. I felt secure having a few cordoned off spots of time in the morning and evening. I don’t always take advantage, but it’s comforting knowing they are there.

Blogging gave me a chance to express and analyze thoughts. More importantly, I was able to run posts through multiple drafts and editing. Being able to write, revise, and publish repetitiously was a fantastic learning experience. I was able to affirm my style of writing and hear my voice clearly. I gained a better understanding of my thought process and how I actually felt about the topics and subjects I was writing about.

Getting posts up was a great confidence builder. Especially on the posts that started gaining traction. Comments and interactions directly on the post or through social media were great motivators to continue. Being able to entertain and engage people with my posts was satisfying. We may write for ourselves, but isn’t the idea to have other people enjoy reading our work?

What got you into blogging and what’s kept you there? What else do you write?

Long Form Writing: For Communication

Long form writing for communication has been at the front of my mind lately. I recently took a course on communicating effectively and listened to CBC Spark’s Civilization – Correspondence episode.In which long form written communications were discussed at length. Both made me realize how much I miss communicating with long form writing. 

While working from home over the last year I noticed a shift in the way my peers communicate with one another. It made me realize how a majority of my recent written communications are short form. Coming from either social media platforms or instant messaging apps. They are brief, but can sometimes kick off longwinded and intermittent conversations that can take a while to resolve. 

Not only are there possible issues around the efficacy of short form communications, they can leave something to be desired. Which was something I realized while taking Communicating Effectively. Due to the course’s online nature, I had the opportunity to write all my communications in long form posts. Forming my thoughts, building a narrative, and then leading the reader through the construct I’d created was rewarding. 

It wasn’t just me, everyone in the class was communicating with long form writing and by doing so, we had some really great discussions. At times, there were multiple paragraphs and multiple responses within those discussions. So many words and a whole lot of thought. It was both enlightening and gratifying. Communicating through long form writing was the only official way we interacted as a class. There were no video or audio components for the course. Aside from one Linkedin network request, these words were the only interactions I had with classmates and the entirety of what I know of them. In a way, we were pen pals.

During one class discussion I had the chance to reflect on long form writing. In particular, the strengths of email. Stating that, when communicating in long form via email, the only real constraint is time. There may be an outside factor of some kind but if there isn’t, one can carefully craft a great long form communication. Having the time to analyze thoughts and construct a controlled structure of words that leads readers through a topic is invaluable. In some cases, there’s the opportunity to calculate and address recipient’s responses and reactions before reply alls get out of hand. Email is invaluable as a tool.

A week after the course concluded, I listened to the previously mentioned episode of CBC Spark. David Heinemeier Hansson was on discussing and promoting Hey, a new email service from Basecamp. He acknowledged that email used to be fun and exciting and that now, it was quite the opposite. Spam and unwanted communications along with plenty of privacy issues have caused people’s inboxes to fill up and become a source of stress. I know he was promoting his product, but I had to agree with a lot of what he was saying.

There is a joy to be had from writing in long form. Getting a few paragraphs of thoughts down. Letting ideas flow and analyzing those words can be beneficial as a writer and as a person. Getting a chance to reflect on what has come from your own mind can provide a better understanding of yourself for yourself. Not to mention that everyone else gets to know you better as well.

During the pandemic have you noticed a change to how you communicate? Do you also find yourself missing long form writing? Is email just for junk mail now? Have you tried Hey? Let me know in the comments.

Hello World… Again.

I’m a writer in my spare time and a digital artist by trade. Mostly for video games. Over the years I discovered that I thoroughly enjoy the written word. Reading had been a hobby of mine for a long while. Then writing came along and became the way I’d spend a good amount, if not a majority of my spare time. It was a diversion from what I do for a living. In addition, it was more personal. A great way to express and reflect on my own thoughts while connecting with others. 

It’s been more than a few years since I started my first blog over on blogger.com. I quickly outgrew it and found a great community on WordPress.com. It’s a more robust platform with a supportive community. For the years that I was really active, I had a great time. Connecting with other bloggers, engaging with their posts, and having others engage with mine was so rewarding. I read a lot and learned even more.  

My original blog’s content was varied. Though it was usually humorous and fun to read. At least that’s what some devoted readers said. Eventually, I started a few additional blogs trying to hone in on topics. Most didn’t last too long. Multiple blogs just seemed like a lot to manage without it being a full-time job. 

After a few years and reading way to much marketing propaganda, I started a self-hosted WordPress site.  As far as customization went, it was a huge leap beyond what WordPress.com offered. I could install whatever I wanted and edit CSS to my hearts content. However, maintaining all the tech components was a huge upkeep. Which began taking away from writing. An even bigger drawback was that my blog wasn’t integrated with the community. Which had been a huge reason why I loved blogging. 

Blogging missteps aside, life coincidentally got pretty hectic for a couple of years. Time became more difficult to manage. With all the challenges I stopped blogging. I’d had a great time, but I needed a reformative break. The desire to blog was still there. Always. However, I felt like I needed to have a good think about blogging before fully starting again. Figure out what I wanted to write about and how I wanted to write it. 

While I did that, I focused on writing books and short stories. Like my blog before, there were several different genres. They were also done to various levels of completion. More importantly there were varying degrees of happiness from writing them. Focusing on the ones that made me happy became a priority. Every now and then I would write a blog post, but I was still outside of the community and it still didn’t feel right. 

Now, I’m ready to start again. I’ve moved back to wordpress.com. It’s the same blog name, but now it has a clear topic, writing life. I’m on the eve of doing another NanoWriMo. I already have enough words. So this will be the first time I’ve done the editing track. I’ve never been this close to putting a book on my written pile. I’m really excited to be starting over and finishing up all at the same time.