Monday, May 28, 2012

Brace for a Little Braggadocio

I've been sitting on some very good news for the last couple of weeks while I delved into blog chains and awards posts. Now that I have some time to write a theme-free entry, I figured I ought to share it with you folks. Perusers of my twitter machine and brand spanking new facebook apparatus (which, by the way, is in desperate need of "likes") have already heard the news, but I'm not quite ready to cease my akimbo brag pose just yet. 

Those of you who've been following my writing exploits for a while know I've been focusing on short stories since the end of last year when I decided to put my novel on pause. When I made that decision, I had to adjust some of my short-term goals to accommodate the shift in gears. As one might expect, the first milestone on that list was to make a bona fide short story sale to a paying market. I can now cross that one off.

I Am Pleased to Announce . . .

A Giant Mess of Darkness, a science fiction story by Yours Truly, will be published next month in Ray Gun Revival. If you're unfamiliar, RGR is an e-zine that harks back to the golden age of sci-fi pulp serials like Astounding Science Fiction. All of the stories appear free to read on their website, though you can also get a Kindle subscription if that's more your style. I highly recommend giving them a read if you're a science fiction fan, and not just because they gave me money. My story is set to run on June 25, though that may change. I'll keep you fine folks up to speed, including another dose of braggadocio when the story goes up.

By the by, an odd thing happened when I received the word that RGR wanted to publish the story. I happened to be on vacation that week, and the girl and I had taken a trip to Kennedy Space Center. As the day was winding down and storm clouds were a'brewing, we made our way over to the Astronaut Memorial. That's when I got the email from RGR on my phone. What's odd about that, you ask? Well, A Giant Mess of Darkness is essentially a story about an astronaut in peril. Weird.

I hope you'll all be able to give my story a read next month. Many of you have offered words of encouragement that have helped to keep my nose to the grindstone since I started this thing, so I'll be glad to share the fruits of my labor with you guys and gals. I currently have nine other submissions that I'm waiting to hear back on (with a tenth almost ready to go). Hopefully it won't be that long before I get to brag at you again.

Oh, and happy Memorial Day. 

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via cc

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award and the Sunshine Award

Okay, guys and gals. I'm going to be up front with you. I'm totally cheating on these awards. No, I'm not saying I awarded myself, I'm saying that I'm not going to be able to fulfill all of the stipulations that come along with them.

Specifically, I'm not going to be passing them along. I know that's kind of the point of these things, to point your readers in the direction of fellow bloggers they'd enjoy, but on the last couple of awards I've received, I couldn't help but get the feeling that a couple of the folks I nominated were a little skeeved out by the whole thing. I think these feel like fancy chain letters to some people, and I get that. And since I just passed along the Kreativ Blogger to a bunch of awesome people yesterday, I'm going to accept these two with an asterisk attached, mainly as a thank you to the fine folks who gave them to me. If that means I don't really get to put them on my mantle . . . well, you'll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands!

However, it's just not fair that I get to receive awards without passing them along myself, so I'm afraid this will be my final post accepting awards for my blog. In the future, I'll be reluctantly declining any blog awards tossed my way. is henceforth an "award free" blog. I sincerely appreciate anyone who thinks my little blog deserves any kind of praise. You people are awesome.

On with the Ceremony . . .

From Rafael R. Piñero & Veronica Sicoe comes the Versatile Blogger Award, and Paige Lollie & Charity Faye have bestowed the Sunshine Award. 

My utmost thanks to them both for thinking of me. I urge you all to go check them out, as they both have great blogs you should be reading. Really! Go! Read!

Both of these awards require that I offer seven random facts about myself. Since I'm already cheating on these, I think I'll corrupt the spirit of the awards even further by combining them both into one. I'm so clever!
  1. In case you haven't noticed from all of the references in my entries, I'm an avid gamer. I have a pretty wide taste when it comes to genres, but my favorites are RPG's and old school point-and-click adventure games. In other words, I like the games that tell the best stories.
  2. I have a growing collection of swords that hang on my office wall. If I'm ever filthy rich, I'm going to fill an entire room with medieval armor and weaponry.
  3. I'm kind of a theme park junkie. I've been to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure more times than I can count, in addition to a few trips to Disney World, Sea World, and Busch Gardens.
  4. Most of the time, I wear glasses.
  5. The first job application I ever filled out was for a famous skate park that later became a level in one of the Tony Hawk video games. I lived right down the road from it, and people would park on my lawn whenever he would come into town for a demo.
  6. I hate cooking. Hate it. If I'm feeding myself, it's safe to assume it's been microwaved.
  7. Starting tomorrow, I'm officially on vacation. Mostly, I'll be relaxing at home and getting some writing done, but not before a nice little trip to Kennedy Space Center
And there you have it. Once again, a big thank you to Rafael R. Piñero and Paige Lollie for the awards. 

The next time you hear from me, I might have a flash story for you to read. I'm participating in the Absolute Write blog chain again this month, and as soon as my turn is up, I'll be sharing my own little slice of the zombie apocalypse.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Kreativ Blogger Award

I was going to wait until Monday to post an entry, but thanks to the supercool Randi Lee, I've been named a recipient of the Kreativ Blogger Award. It is only with the utmost humility that I accept this award.

And to be perfectly honest, it couldn't have come at a better time, because I had no idea what I was going to write about this week. So thanks, Randi!

Here's how the award works:

1. Thank and link back to the person who presented you with the award.
2. Answer the ten questions below.
3. Share ten random facts/thoughts about yourself.
4. Nominate seven worthy blogs for the Kreativ Blogger Award.

So let's have at it, shall we?

Interrogation Results: 

What is your favorite song?
Oh, man. There's no way I could narrow it down to one. My musical tastes are wide and weird. For what it's worth, this song is in my head right now, and I'm just fine with that:

What is your favorite dessert?
No contest. Pumpkin pie.

What ticks you off?
I'm a pretty ritualistic person, so sometimes I get annoyed when my routine is impeded in some way. I'm trying to work on that though, since my routine currently revolves around my work schedule, which is pretty vampiric and therefor difficult to accord with the rest of the civilized world. My social life has suffered as a result.

When you're upset, what do you d--

Which is/was your favorite pet? 
I've had lots of pets since childhood, but Rusty Bears gets all of the treats to himself right now.

Which do you prefer, black or white?

What is your biggest fear?

What is your attitude mostly?
I'm a pretty reserved, laid back guy. Stoic, I guess.

What is perfection?

What is your guilty pleasure?
I don't believe in feeling guilty for your pleasures. I eat crappy food, play video games, and sometimes engage in zombie movie marathons. With pride, I say! With pride!

Valuable Intel: 

  1. The "J" stands for James, which most people call me in the physical realm.
  2. I've become a huge coffee drinker. I don't really feel like I'm hooked on caffeine (I can go without it and feel fine), but I can consume three cups or more during a writing marathon.
  3. I'm an unabashed tech nerd. If it blinks and beeps, I want it.
  4. I'm a musician. I was in a couple of bands when I was younger; these days I mostly stare at my guitars and keyboard and chastise myself for not playing them enough.
  5. Related to the above, I've also created an entire album's worth of weird, hybrid-genre electronic music in my spare time over the course of the last eight years or so, as a hobby.
  6. Years ago, I had my own web comic called Guy in a Hoodie. It floundered because I couldn't keep an artist attached to the project.
  7. Combat sports are the only kind of sports I can follow without severe boredom setting in. I watch a lot of Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Kickboxing. I've been a martial arts nerd since I was about six, when my parents enrolled me in karate. 
  8. Related to the above, I used to host an MMA podcast. It became pretty popular after just one episode, thanks to the help of an awesome fighter named Roxanne Modafferi. Unfortunately, it didn't last long, as I didn't have the proper time to commit to it or enough money to pay for the hosting.
  9. I don't watch much television, but when I do it's probably Game of Thrones. 
  10. As I mentioned in the interview, my work schedule has me on the vampire shift, so I'm pretty much nocturnal. I sleep during the day and turn to ashes when exposed to direct sunlight.

And finally, my own list of nominees. These people are all deserving, but I'm blindsiding them, so they may not be able to participate for some reason. Check them out anyway:

Angeline Trevena | Candy Lynn Fite | Guilie Castillo-Oriard | 
Rafael R. Piñero | Sean CW Korsgaard | Tracy Brown | Veronica Sicoe

Monday, May 7, 2012

Looking Back on the A to Z Challenge

When I began this experiment (only a few months ago, as crazy as that seems), I planned on coming up with a regular update schedule that wouldn't severely impact my writing time. My intention was to post once a week, occasionally twice.

Less than a month later, I signed up for the A to Z Challenge on a whim, dooming those plans for the month of April.

Now it's behind me, and despite the cut it made into my usual writing marathons, I'm glad I did it. It was worth it. It was nice to prove to myself that I could keep a breakneck blog schedule without much prep time beforehand. I made a commitment to post every entry on time, without sacrificing the length or quality that I've tried to hold myself to in previous entries. It got rough there for a while, especially toward the end when I was feeling a bit of blog fatigue. But I think benefited greatly from the work I put into it while riding the A to Z crest. I've gained a new blog series that will continue in the future (see below), I generated more content in that one month than in all of my previous entries combined, and my follower count more than doubled, as did the number of blogs that I'm following. Not too shabby, eh?

Speculative Fiction Tropes Series

I really enjoyed working with the theme I used for the A to Z Challenge, and since some of you seemed to have liked it as well, I've decided to make it a monthly feature. Starting in June, the first Monday of every month will feature a new post in the Speculative Fiction Tropes Series. I've added a button on the navbar that leads to a directory of every post in the series, in case you missed any. I hope those of you who enjoyed my A to Z entries will continue to follow along. It should be much easier now that I'm not restricted by the alphabet!

Thank You

And one last order of business before I leave the A to Z Challenge behind until next year. I'd like to give a special thanks to some of the people who were along for the ride with me, some of whom I wouldn't have met without the A to Z. Whether they were tackling the challenge themselves or just leaving me encouraging comments, these are some of the folks who helped me along, whether they knew it or not. Give them a visit (in alphabetical order, of course):

And a huge thank you to everyone else who's taken the time to give my blog a read since I started this thing, especially my followers and subscribers. There's too many of you to list, but you have my sincerest appreciation.

Until next year, alphabet. I'll be ready for you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

IWSG: Take a Writing Break Without Breaking Your Writing

It feels weird to write an entry that's not alphabetical. I've become very accustomed to seeing that banner at the top of my entries. Those twenty-six days really wore a groove into my blog that I became pretty comfortable with, despite how demanding the whole thing was. I'm glad to have seen it through, though. One last reminder, I'll be posting an A to Z "reflections" post on Monday to tie a bow on it.

In the mean time, we make our way back to normalcy. And since today is the first Wednesday of the month, that means it's time for drum circles and group hugs in the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which is hosted by Ninja Overlord Alex J. Cavanaugh.

My first post for IWSG was a self-pity party, so this entry's going to be more on the encouraging side.

After an April that saw me devoting more and more time to my blog and less time than normal to my writing, I can't wait to kick it into high gear now that I can return to my normal schedule. I was still submitting stories to fiction markets, so it still felt like I was working all month, but it was more than a little frustrating not to see the number of stories currently in submission rise any higher than when the month began. Now, I feel like a sprinter poised and waiting for the gunshot.

And honestly, I don't think I've felt this excited to write fiction since last year, when I made the switch from working on a novel to writing short stories. In hindsight, it feels nice to have distracted myself with something time consuming. It was like taking a break without sacrificing productivity. I have that itch to fill the creative void that's been left by a month of daily blogging, but there's very little of the guilt that usually comes from taking a lazy vacation or something along those lines.

So to the other insecure writers out there, I say: try it. The next time you feel the onset of burnout creeping in, don't just take a break between projects. Don't just relegate your writing time to television or video games for a while. Fill that time with something productive and rewarding, something you never thought you'd enjoy doing otherwise, preferably (and I think this is key) something that still involves the act of writing. You might be surprised at the result.