Saturday, December 31, 2016

Get Thee Behind Me 2016

What a year.

I don't need to revisit much of 2016, but I'm grateful for everyone who helped me help my folks this last fall. I'm grateful for everyone who read The Cold Distance. There's more to come this year. As well, there will be more Agent of DANGER in 2017 and the final (for now) installment of Evolver.

And I'm going to be trying some different stuff here, too. I'll focus on the things I enjoy reading, watching, and listening to. I want to make sure that we're as positive as possible but I will also comment on the state of politics in Kansas and the nation. My fear of what could happen has been overwhelming at times, barely balanced with the knowledge (really, hope) that it may not be as bad as I fear.

I'm coping with the loss of my mother by remembering all the cool stuff that happened. All the dinners with friends, the new friends, the stories I had the opportunity to write for absolute strangers. Good books, good music, and good films that all transported me away from the troubles of the day.

Definitely ready to move on.

For all that 2016 was awful, 2017 doesn't have to try hard to be better. Here's my wish that it will potentially be twice what this last year was. Here's my wish that we as a people will be more loving, tolerant and inclusive. Which is a mighty tall order given the rancorous tone the last few months, but it's what I hope for.

2017 doesn't have to be the greatest year ever. But it can be.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Separation Stages

Here we are nearing the end of the year and I'm glad. It's been rough but wonderful, terrible but enlightening, long and exhausting but fulfilling and invigorating.

Like every year, it's the mix of things that make it overall good or overall bad. 2016 has been a heady mix of extremes that I'm ready to leave behind me but which I've been improved by having experienced. Let me be clear, though: I'm as ready as anyone to leave 2016 in the dust.

But that means that I have to have a plan for next year. Regular readers may be aware, my plans for this year went up in a mushroom cloud at the end of July. I could whine and cry about my failures to achieve on a number of levels but what good does that do? No, I'd rather stand up, stretch, and renew my determination to be a writer. But plans have to be flexible and relevant.

The first thing I did was make a list of the projects that are in limbo at the moment but which need to be addressed. Here's the list:

  • Three parts of a four-part novel.
  • A juvenile adventure
  • Another juvenile adventure
Those are things that I had meant to have done and out in the world or almost out in the world by this point. I also have a list of things that have arisen over the last few weeks:
  • A collaboration on a novel
  • A short story
  • Another short story
  • A novella
Which really isn't a lot (maybe?) but it's the list of things on my mind currently. The collab novel has some some big ideas and a few notes to it and the novella is last on the list because it's the newest. The short stories are about half-written but need to be revised as I've seen a different ending for both. The juvenile adventures are plotted and have extensive notes and there's nothing really holding me back from writing them. AND there's another thing floating around out there but I'm not sure it's near ready enough, or that there would be enough interest in it to pursue to completion. We'll see.

And of course none of this accounts for anything new that presents itself. Nor does it include any of the stories I sent out for projects that for whatever reason failed to materialize. Maybe they'll see the light of day, maybe they won't. 

But I'm finding some enthusiasm again. What I've learned over the last six months is that I can't write effectively while grieving. And while the grief is still with me, I'm figuring out what I'm excited about with each of these projects. I'm realizing it's okay to be enthusiastic about my writing. It's confusing but kind of a relief, I suppose.

So - with all that in mind, setting goals for 2017 is foremost on my mind. That's seven projects up there. I started counting up the words I think would be needed to accomplish all this and if I can write 150,000 words in 2017 I will come very close to my goal of completing this list.

Depending on a few things moving behind the scenes this week, I'll set priorities and get started. After I'd written all of the above, I had to revise the outline for the juvenile adventures so those may rise to the top since they are fresh but I'm confident that I'm going to be able to juggle multiple projects. I need to get back to The Cold Distance and that collaboration is sneaking back into my head.

Finally, for those of you who don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, all my commissions going forward will support this charity, Catch A Break, which helps survivors of cancer. Because cancer doesn't just eat one's body, it eats all the money one has. All of it. These folks are pretty great and helped my parents a lot.

More later, less soon. 

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.