Friday, November 04, 2016

What's Going On November 2016 edition

As expected, my political post didn't have many readers. We're all tired of the damned election and you don't come here anyway to read my political views. I get it.

So what am I up to? Hey, thanks for asking!

I'm NOT doing NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row. I've found it useful in the past to be around people who're writing away, who I interact with on the NaNo forums but this year I wasn't sure I could sustain the enthusiasm for continual writing. At least not for 1700 words a day or so. I just wasn't feeling it.

But I am cheerleading over on Twitter every day. Check there if you want someone who's done it a time or two (or five) to tell you it's going to be alright, that you should work hard but enjoy the work. In the end, NaNoWriMo is a satisfying experience if you immerse yourself in it fully. And in the end, you'll learn something about yourself and your writing.

I'll be opening up to do some Velocity Stories commissions soon. If you'd like to have a custom, hand-written story masquerading as a piece of art, stay tuned. I've been told they're "little slices of awesome" and the response to all the ones I did to help with my parents' medical bills was overwhelming. This round I want to limit the number of stories so that I can crank 'em out faster.

(Funny thing about a parent passing away: you don't feel much like doing the things that make you who you are for quite a while. I'm heading back to a point where writing makes me happy and I feel like it's okay to be happy for stretches of time now.)

I'll announce openings here in the next week so stay tuned. I'm playing with the idea of stories longer than 350 words, too. I think I've figured out how to make them a piece of art but I need to be sure I know what I'm doing before I get there. They may not be available for this round of commissions but look for them in the new year. (Damn, where has 2016 GONE?) Other stuff:

  • I'll get back to writing more of The Cold Distance. Dee has been very patient with me but she's anxious for you all to know where she's going next. I expect we'll start to see chapters around the end of the year. That may get pushed back depending on my critique group but it will happen sooner than later. 
  • I'm working a short story that I may not publish but it's cathartic in helping me deal with Mom's passing. It's something that I've had backburnered for a number of years but it's taking shape nicely. It fits in the world of The Cold Distance but you don't need to know anything about that world to read the story. We'll see how it goes. 
  • I'm hoping to get back to a collaboration that there are more than a few notes for. My co-writer is not waiting for me to be ready to write (because he shouldn't) so we'll have to work out scheduling but that book would be a fun thing for both of us, I think. List this one as tentative but with real possibility.
  • I need to revisit the outlines for books 2 and 3 of the Agent of DANGER series, get them re-approved and start writing. I must get those done in the first quarter of the new year. 
  • Finally, the third Evolver book is turned in. Haven't seen the cover yet but I've done all my bits for it. Hopefully it will hit the stands sooner than later, too.
I was supposed to have been done with all this by now. Goes to show that making plans doesn't always mean they get followed. But scheduling things is actually good for me. Bumping deadlines  and rearranging workloads is something we all have to do. It might be easier if my only job was to be a writer but the day job gets the majority of my attention at the moment.

Please accept my wishes for a lovely weekend, some good rest, and a dump truck full of the right words at the right time. You're awesome, you, and don't forget it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A Political Post

I wrote a looong political post that amounts to this:

I voted for Hillary Clinton because she's the most qualified candidate. Because she's NOT the villain that the opposition and especially the Republican nominee have painted her to be.

Let's be clear that Mrs. Clinton has some deficiencies but not like the Republican nominee. He is racist, misogynist, dangerous and appeals to the worst of human nature.

The Republican nominee is not who he claims he is, either. He has not been honest, has not released his taxes and has actually threatened to jail Mrs. Clinton if he is elected. He has declared that he will not respect the outcome of the election if he is not the winner. He has exhorted people to 'monitor' polling places in a way that's an overt threat. This man is the single worst candidate the Republican party has ever fielded in the Presidential election. He has been endorsed by the official newspaper of the KKK. He is accused of defrauding people just like you through his university. He is accused of raping a thirteen year-old girl. He has looked at a ten year-old and exclaimed "I'll be dating her in ten years." This man is reprehensible.

He will not look out for your friends who are LGBTQ. He will exclude as many people as he can from a legitimate pursuit of life, love, and happiness. He has, since the beginning of his campaign, shouted about building a wall. He represents the party of Ronald Reagan who told Mikhail Gorbachev to 'tear down' the Berlin Wall. Do you see what kind of man the Republican party has selected? He is against EVERYthing that makes America free and brave.

Don't do this, America. Don't give him any advantage. DO NOT ELECT him to be President. He is a thin-skinned child who will do nothing for you. You will never have his kind of wealth or live in the style he does. He will see to that. He will put his foot on your back and keep you down 'where you belong'. Remember, he loves 'the poorly educated'.

Hillary is not the same, not by a long shot. She is NOT Dr. Doom or Mephisto and we do not live in the Marvel Universe. Don't get fantasy and reality confused. Think about your future, the future of the generation behind you, the future of our great country.

Please, America, DO NOT vote for the Republican nominee. We're much, much better than that.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Back to Normal: Let's Write

First things first, if you're still waiting for a commission from me it will be on its way to you by the end of the month. It should not have taken this long. I apologize.

I'm thankful for all the commissions I had to do. It allowed me to escape for a time here and there into worlds I hadn't needed to consider before. It also forced me to adopt a sort of formal layout for them. Since I'm done with conventions for this year I'm looking forward to opening back up for commissions for the Christmas season. I'll announce that when I'm ready.

I've been thinking a lot about what to write next. There are several short story ideas swimming around the brainpan, as well as two ideas that could be novels along with continuing work on The Cold Distance. AND a collaboration on another novel, where there are stacks of notes waiting to be reviewed and hammered into a plot of some kind. I dream about stories, I've got lots of scraps of paper in my work bag with notes for things I've started and ideas that are growing. All indications are that I'm ready to get back to writing.

But it can't be scattershot - do this one day then another thing the next. I'll need some organization to get things done.

Which is where I usually flail in desperation because I'm terrible at organizing my home work time. There are sooo many distractions. Like Netflix (Luke Cage held my attention after the first half, Black Mirror is terrifying and thought-provoking); or books (the new Caleb Carr! my about to collapse 'to read' shelf); comics (stuff I got at conventions this year that I have stacked).

One thing that's not on the list is NaNoWriMo. I want to do it but... there's too much else going on. Resetting one's life is difficult and expectations have to be lowered a bit to allow room for grief. What I'm learning is that I can't wallow. What happened happened and I'm not the first person it's happened to.

I went to hang out with my best friends last Saturday night. We talked, drank and shared stories as we normally do but it was different this time. Not that they were different with me but I recognized how much I needed to be there, to feel normal and to know that it was okay. In fact, it was good to be normal. Life must go on.

Skies are cloudy for a while but there's some blue peeking through now and then. I'm all right with how it's going because I know the sun is on the other side of those clouds. And I need sun to feel okay.

In the weeks since Mom passed away I've opened up a bunch of documents to start writing. Haven't gotten much done on any of them, but that's not the point. At least so far. Looking at what I've got in progress is part of getting back to normal. Typing a few sentences here and there is part of getting back to normal. Absorbing stories is part of it, too. All of this is building up and allowing me to feel like it's okay to get back to normal.

Watch this space. When I get back to it, I'll let you know. It's slow and I'm NOT going to rush it but it's happening. Flow will come and stories will result.

Thanks for reading, gang. Knowing you're out there rooting for me, even a little, means the world. I can't do this without you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sadness Sorrow Solace

There's some language here that may offend some, and talk about cancer and death. Heads up.

Life has been interesting the last four or five years. Lots of things going on professionally, my personal life has been and continues to be very stable over that time but there was a specter over everything for the last half of that time.

Cancer sucks. Fuck cancer. I understand now what deep anguish is and how it can affect me. No need for me to continue to wallow in self-pity/recrimination/immolation. Rather, I've been confronting the feelings of helplessness and despair as much as I can head on. The last four months in particular have been by far the absolute most difficult time of my life. However, there's been catharsis of late that came from working on so many commissions and more than a great deal of comfort from friends old and new.

In the time since I found out Mom was dying of an easily detectable and completely treatable colon cancer, I've worked hard. Not just at the day job but also at home and in my circles of friends. I've lost a few along the way to other life things but I think about them. I love them as much as I always have even though I don't reach out and make contact as often as I should. I ponder recriminations as to what I did to drive them away but it's not always me. They have life things going on too and they need to deal with them.

That's how I lose people more than anything else, just forgetting or not taking the time to send a card, an email, a text, make a phone call or anything that lets people know I'm thinking of them. Maybe it doesn't make much difference but I'll try to do better. At least where it concerns Christmas or holiday cards. And emails. I mean, I get a notification that someone has a birthday on Facebook and I don't click over to say "Happy Birthday!" when that's sooo easy. I tell myself I want to personalize it somehow, in some small way, give it a little kick like I would in real life.

And then it's gone and I'm on to the next crisis/task/whatever that demands my attention.

But I couldn't ignore cancer. I can't, going forward, either. Cancer is now a permanent part of my life and fuck cancer for taking my Mom. Fuck cancer for not having been cured.

I digress.

I haven't written on the novel since the beginning of August. My critique group is foundering a little but we'll get back in the groove. Everyone wants it to so I'm confident it will. I'm behind on a couple big projects at work but those will fall into place at the last possible second like they always do. This is Life. This is the messy stuff we should all put away when we get home so we can enjoy the best parts of Life. But often I confused it with living which it isn't. My wife has been the Rock I need, grounding me and feeding me and encouraging me. I doodle,  I've done a TON of Velocity Stories and I have a few more to go and I've batted around an idea with a buddy that could turn into something too.

There's a lot ahead but it's tinged with grief. I know it will lessen as time goes on and the hole in my heart will heal over eventually. All the little self-inflicted (imaginary) wounds are healing over bit by bit and I hope to reestablish certain valued friendships. It's an interesting time, one that could be pivotal.

Or it could just be a time that shit has happened and will continue.

It's up to me to do good with what I've got. There's love, friends, and lots of potential no matter what happens. That's the comfort available to me and I'm taking it. I know what living is, I know how to do it. I know what's important.

To everyone who has lost anyone to cancer, you are loved and valued and you're an awesome human. To everyone who has lost anyone for any reason, it will get better and there are things you can do to dilute the pain. Shutting out everyone who is still here and cares for you is not the right thing. Reach out to them, remind them you want to be included in everything. Go for it.

Mom always told me it was okay to try and fail at things. It's great advice. It's not license to be a jerk, it's permission to chase what matters to you. It's concession that you may not be ready for it despite what you think. As long as you don't hurt anyone in the process, go for it.

I miss my Mom but I have a lifetime's worth of memories. It's not the same but it's what there is.

We'll return to regular programming here soon. Thanks for your support, your words of caring, and the love you've shown me over the last few months. I mean it, you're all awesome humans.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Glad You Asked!

"How're the commissions coming?" - writer Nick Forristal

Nick's one of the good guys on the con circuit around here. We became friends a while back and we talk regularly. He's been a helluva cheerleader in keeping me on track getting all these commissions done for you guys. Do me a favor and check out his books. Buy some if you like. He'd appreciate it and so would I.

It's been a busy couple weeks between the day job and family stuff. Mom is hanging in there and so is Dad. There have been days where I couldn't focus enough to do the work and some days when I've been hyper-focused and getting lots and lots done. Up and down, the roller coaster goes round and round.

But that's the stuff that happens to everyone, it's nothing new. I know that well.

So, how ARE the commissions coming? I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I plan to work hard this weekend and through the week to finish up the run.

I can't thank you all enough. If you haven't heard from me, I'm heading into the home stretch. Everything should be going out in the next week to ten days. I'm trying to email everyone and I'm tracking stuff as best I can so I don't think I've forgotten anyone yet. If you ordered a commission and have NOT heard from me that I got it, hit me up here, on Twitter or on Facebook.  I've been posting scans and pics of the completed works there and sometimes on Instagram too. Follow along if you want to.

I'm getting some wonderful comments back from those who've already gotten their Velocity Stories in the mail, which makes me very humble. You all are so kind. Feel free to share pics on social media and if you want to use the #velocitystories hashtag, I'm cool with that. I'll look for them.

Okay, nose back to grindstone time. I'm going to have to fire up a newsletter as I've been threatening all year. And I'm going to be at Freestate Comicon on October 1 in Lawrence, Kansas, if you're in the area. That's my last scheduled appearance for the year and there will be a TON of wonderful people there and you'll be able to buy a con exclusive book that features sketches by the artists in attendance and a story by li'l ol' me.

So the next question is would any of you be interested in seeing a collection of these Velocity Stories? I've been toying with the idea on my daily commute. A pdf would be easy enough but maybe a print version would be cool. Let me know.

All right a couple things I've liked this week because there's too much hate out there right now: Star Trek TOS rewatch (I'm still in the middle of season 2); ARCADIA by Paknadel and Pfeiffer; the first volume of Matt Kindt's MIND MGMT (because of John Holloway's love for it) and discussions about coffee, whiskey and Baltimore.

Stay tuned. More to come. You're all awesome humans in my book.