There’s something horrifying about not having anything to do.

After finishing The Third Tower, and any novel for that matter, I give myself two weeks. I can do whatever I want—write, don’t write, come up with ideas, edit, whatever. I don’t want to feel tons of pressure after finishing a huge undertaking, especially when it’s, as of now, a “hobby.”

(If you’re wondering, I have three other novels I’ve written. One I tried hopelessly in vain to have any kind of reaction towards, and two that didn’t quite cut the mustard.)

My day job is entering the slow time of the year, so I have a lot of 8 hours days where I sit around and do nothing. Perfect time for writing/editing/etc., right? Nope. It’s hard to stay motivated when you sit around and do nothing all day. I open an MS Word document, tap out a few sentences, and put it aside, promising myself to do more later that day, later that night, the next day, the weekend, or basically any other time than when I should be doing it.

So yesterday, I started a story. Something I’ve had an idea swimming around in my head for a few weeks. I got about three paragraphs into it and…got mad.

Not mad at the story, just mad. Thing around the house, things at work, things within my family, personal things that have nothing to do with writing this story. But somehow, those thoughts came to mind and I couldn’t continue writing, so I put it aside.

And here I am on Sunday, writing about how I can’t write.

Maybe I’m feeling that slump of no contact from editors. Not only did I send out 10 short story submissions (with no responses yet), I’ve had multiple queries, asking editors what’s the status on my story sent out half a year ago, with no response.

Is there some behind the scenes “let’s screw over this Myke Edwards guy, because fuck him” conspiracy going on? Are they just lazy? Did I do something wrong and they just tossed out my submission without bothering to let me know?

Why keep writing if no one cares? If people won’t even post my story on an unpaying blog that posts free stories for people to write, why bother? I mean, seriously, that means I literally can’t even give it away for free.

Maybe I’ll finish the story. Maybe today, even. Maybe I’ll edit The Third Tower and attempt to get it published. Maybe I’ll realize that someone, somewhere, gives a shit.

And that is what is horrifying to me. Not knowing whether or not I should keep going, keep working hard at punching a brick wall because maybe, just maybe, despite my broken and bleeding knuckles and overly-exhausted nature, it will fall down and I can get by.

Maybe.

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Happiness Is…

November 27, 2017

Being finished!

Earlier today, I finished the final chapter of The Third Tower. Draft number one of my latest novel is completed!

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am about this. I’ve had the idea for years. I mean, seriously, more than 15 years ago I started thinking about this. Three years ago (almost exactly, truth be told), I started writing it. After many breaks, starting it back up again, and repeating that procedure, I finally forced myself to quit dragging my feet and just finish it.

Naturally, I have a lot of editing to do. There are many, many, MANY contradictions and loose ends I’ve left in this, but it’s understandable. Writing something here and there over the course of three years, you’ll have that. I can’t imagine it will take long (famous last words…) to get it ship-shape, but I’ll get there when I do.

For now, I’m going to let myself relax. I have many other stories to write, edit, and attempt to get published. Who knows? Maybe my next big thing is right around the corner.

As for novel-length, well, er, novels, what’s next?

I’ve got a huge list of stuff that needs to be written. Things I’ve planned on for years. Things that hopefully won’t take three years of hemming and hawing to finish. Things that can get written and taken care of when they need to be.

I can’t wait for you to see this one, though. Stay tuned, big things are just around the corner.

Are You Long Enough?

November 19, 2017

Smart phones are great. I love how not only can I check my email, but I receive a cute little jingle that lets me know when a new email comes in. (Please bear in mind I’ve only had a smart phone since January. Yeah, yeah, get over it.)

So imagine waking up in the morning to the tune of a new email, long before your alarm goes off. This morning, I did, and I noticed it was from a publication! In fact, they’ve had my story since April. Yep, April—SEVEN months ago! I had a note to send a query on December 1st if I hadn’t heard from them by then. Let’s be honest, even though I expected a big fat NOPE on the email, I was hearing back from them!

Of course it was a rejection. But may I just say how absolutely fucking pissed off I am about this?

My story was rejected (actually, “withdrawn” was the term they used, so maybe they just took it out of consideration completely?) due to not being long fiction. Let me say that again—my 3,000-some word story was withdrawn because it isn’t long fiction.

SQ Mag, an Australian speculative fiction publication, has been going through some turmoil lately. No activity, long wait times, etc. At the end of October, they announced they were working hard to clean up their slush pile and basically redo the magazine. Great, they’re making an effort.

However, when I submitted back in April, and even now with their revamping, the fiction requirements were the same. 500 word minimum, 7,500 maximum. No serials, no fan fiction, yadda yadda…the same old stuff.

So how is it that a story that is 3,499 words long is not considered “long” fiction? I mean, I guess it’s not novella or even novel length, but if I’m reading correctly, that word count fits perfectly within their parameters for acceptable word counts.

This is the second Australian publication that not only made me wait forever for an answer, but gave a really annoying response when they finally got back to me. The sheer condescension, the utter pretention, the aggravating and rude cryptic responses…what the fuck? Is it just an Aussie thing? Or did I just happen to run into the first readers/editors that don’t give a shit about much other than their vegemite sandwiches?

Okay, that was uncalled for. I have no problem with Aussies, but I think maybe I won’t be submitting to their magazines anymore.

Speaking of long waits, Persistent Visions is getting a little out of control. Their slush pile is dating all the way back to November 14th…of LAST YEAR!

Guys…do you need first readers? I humbly volunteer to help out, FOR FREE, to get your slush pile back on track. It has been close to half a year since I submitted my story to Persistent Visions, and while I’m sure the answer is going to be a big fat no (hey, surprise me with another answer, guys!), I’d like to know that I’ll at least get that answer. I’d like to know if they’re okay, and not going through massive troubles in life keeping them from running this publication. They’ve got some great content, so check it out now. It’s free!

And finally, I have one chapter left to write in The Third Tower. One. Chapter. To. Go. Feels good to say! It should have been done three years ago, but that’s not the point.

I’m one chapter away from being done! Yay!

Totally unrelated–I saw Justice League last night. Awesome movie. Well done, guys.

Crispy Like the Air

October 16, 2017

Autumn is in full swing here in Toledo, and I couldn’t be happier. As much as I love warm weather, the low 90’s temperatures started getting old, fast. I don’t want to walk out of my house in the morning in mid-October and start sweating already, so this low 50’s stuff is very much welcome.

It always feels like perfect writing weather, too. You see the memes all the time, something about a cozy sweater, a blanket, a hot cup of tea or coffee or cocoa, a cat on your lap, and a good book. Or, a story in front of you that is being worked on with the utmost diligence. Cute. Clever. Cliché.

But, it’s truth. I feel more at ease when there’s a chill in the air. Maybe a part of it has something to do with the fact that I don’t feel the need to constantly be running around from place to place. I can sit still, open the curtains, and watch the leaves fall while I tap away at whatever chapter I’m in the middle of.

Speaking of, only a few more to go! The Third Tower is chugging along nicely, but I really wish I had more time to just sit my ass down and do it. It’s nice to chip away at it when I can, but it sure would be nice to pound out two chapters (or more!) in a day. Still, I’m getting it done, and not finding other things to do—seriously, other things are finding me.

There’s also a lot of big things coming soon from me. A new story, and one that’s been up for a year now, “It’s the Great Murdering Pumpkin, Charlie Townes,” is getting a major push! Keep your eyes open for that—it’s free!

Still waiting to hear from several publications. I hate to complain about the wait, but seriously, do they even read the slush pile? One keeps updating their status every day, but they’ve been “reading” submissions from November of last year for close to a month now. November of LAST YEAR. Reading, my ass.

But, I can wait. I’ll be patient, because I’m at their mercy. Not only that, but I have plenty of other options. Things are out there, and things are getting done. I humble and heartily thank those who are making an effort to further the artform, and the arts in general.

Seriously, writing, graphic art of some sort, music, performance, and any other thing you can think of, all deserve your support. Don’t do horrible things to ruin it, like that Weinstein guy and Al Michaels making tasteless jokes. Do what you can to keep it alive, and keep it moving. Yes, this might mean spending a little money, but even if it’s a measly dollar, does it matter?

Contrary to the fact that I haven’t been posting in a while, I’m happy. Things are going well. I really have nothing to complain about that would make much of a difference if I did. Where’s the harm in that? Hopefully, I can finish this book soon and find it a good home.

Hopefully, everyone can have such good fortune with whatever it is they do.

Portrait of a suburban dad

September 28, 2017

So I don’t know why, but I’ve felt this need to write about someone in particular lately. I keep seeing his face and thinking about all the things I can remember about the guy for several days now, so maybe writing what I know will get this out of my mind. That isn’t to say it’s been haunting my dreams or bugging me immensely, but maybe it’s just my creative juices churning to do something useful.

I’m 37 years old. I live in the suburbs. I frequently go on walks or runs and see many other men in their yards or driving by, sometimes young fathers, sometimes old timers. A lot of the old “dad” stereotypes are long in the past, but a lot of the time, I see someone that reminds me of him.

When I was five, in kindergarten, I made a new friend. His name was Brad, and his family was new to the little town we lived in. The actual classification was a village, a town under a certain population. It’s now a city, but seems just as small.

Anyway, they moved into a brand new house a few blocks from me. They had just come from Mansfield, and before that, Ashland. His parents and his brother (five years older than him) were all big sports fans, specifically, football.

The man looked very similar to Calvin’s dad from Calvin and Hobbes. Bald, with glasses, but a smile that never seemed to go away. He worked for a food brokerage company in Toledo, and their fridge and pantry were always filled with the newest, best snacks and food. Remember Hostess Choco-bliss? Those things were stuff in the fridge and always an awesome treat when I went over there.

He’d come home from work in a black suit every day. Brad and I would dogwalk up the stairs, and he’d quickly bark out “WALK!” even though we never did. If he was hanging around the house, he’d wear a golf shirt and either khakis or dress shorts.

It was the 80’s, and his tan, 4-door sedan Buick Regal sat proudly in the garage. It was the kind of car that showed status, but not too much. His golf clubs, always in the trunk of that car, were his pride and joy.

The man loved University of Michigan football. On game days, he’d hang the flag with pride outside of his garage. How many times did I see him in a blue or maize polo with a big, embroidered “M” over the left breast? Many.

I only heard him yell in anger once. One Saturday night, I spent the night and when my friend went to the bathroom before bed, he locked the door. For some reason, his dad didn’t like that so he somehow jimmied the door open and screamed about how “we don’t lock doors in this house!” Because, you know, an eight-year-old boy is doing so many horrible things in the bathroom with the door locked.

I never understood why parents enjoy watching their kids take a shit. My whole family often lined up to stare at me as I sat on the toilet. Don’t believe me? Trust me, it’s not something I’d make up. People are strange, but in my opinion, it’s rather sick to willingly want to watch someone take a dump. To each his own, I guess.

So, that was my friend’s dad. I haven’t seen him in years and I know that they moved out of that house way back in the mid 2000’s, but every time I am at my Mom’s and go out for a walk or a jog, I make sure to go by that house. I fondly remember Brad and me playing with GI Joes or Legos, playing Nintendo or watching R-rated movies.

But I also remember his dad.

 

It finally arrived! Volume Nine of Bardic Tales and Sage Advice is finally here, in my grasp…and it feels delicious!

As you should remember, last July my story “Behind You, in the Corner” was published in a fantastic online publication called Bards and Sages Quarterly. Of course you bought a copy. Then, at the end of the year, there was a poll for the best/favorite piece from each issue. Thanks for voting for me, by the way.

My story won for the July issue. There were a TON of votes on it, so obviously people liked it. It didn’t quite make story of the year, but that’s okay. There was a response to it, and I’m happy about that!

Not only did I get an extra couple of bucks, it was published in BT&SA vol. 9, which we’ve been waiting in deep anticipation for over a few months now. Friday, it showed up and man is it beautiful.

Big thanks to Julie Ann Dawson, the editor. She had the foresight to read my story through to the end, and accept it for publication. I love visionaries like her, they make the world a better place!

And of course, thanks so much to everyone who voted. Thanks for reading my stories, following me, supporting me, all that jazz. I truly appreciate it and mean every word I say. You’re all awesome!

If you would like to buy a copy, go here:

Bardic Tales and Sage Advice vol. 9!

So, in other news, I’m chugging along at the Third Tower. Since I sit in front of a computer all day at work, I haven’t had the drive to write much lately. Then I was like, what about pen on paper? So, several recent chapters have been handwritten. I spent some time last night transcribing them onto the computer, which naturally killed my eyes and back (maybe I should have used a desk chair instead of a wooden kitchen chair?), but they’re all set. The best news is, I’m only 13 chapters away from the end!

I never wanted to have another several years long novel on my hands. I started this three years ago, took a break, wrote some more, took another break, and on and on…

Hell, I didn’t even touch it in 2016! I tried, I thought about it, but nothing came out. Shame on me. But hooray for me for getting it done now! Only a few more weeks and then it’s complete, and I can do anything I want.

Other short stories have been getting done as well. I just had one up on the online workshop last week, and it got 11 critiques! Most of them were very positive and helpful, and a lot of the reviewers “liked” the story. That’s promising!

Next up, I’ve got a mind-fuck fantasy story that takes place in the summer, but autumn has already begun. Hmm, unlike here in Toledo, where it’s been autumn for two days and feels like high summer.

Wishful thinking maybe? Nah, I’ll fight the heat and enjoy my maple pecan lattes and wear scarves like the hipster doof I am.

Later, sexies! Stay awesome, and thanks as always!

Focus Like a Jedi

September 3, 2017

Having hobbies is a great thing. If not for hobbies, what would we do with our spare time? Clean the house?!

Way back when I was 13, my brother and I got a game called Hero Quest for Christmas. It wasn’t your average board game. It had a campaign feature, lots of interactivity, and an ever-changing game board. Neat!

That love of gaming carried over into my freshman year when not only did I get into this new thing called collectible card games, but a few friends introduced me to role-playing games. I mean, I knew what they were, but didn’t have anyone to enjoy them with.

I never looked back, despite a few years of not doing much.

So for the past few years, I’d been out of gaming pretty big time. I wanted something new that I could play, not waste a lot of money on, and actually enjoy with a community of others. Last October, I found my game.

Star Wars Destiny, a new collectible card game from Fantasy Flight Games. My relationship with FFG is long and varied, but I can always count on them to make quality games. This was no exception.

I’ve been into the game pretty hardcore since it came out. Due to a lack of funds and time, I haven’t been able to go to any of the big, major tournaments, but that should change next year. What’s cool is, there’s a new set coming out in two weeks!

It’s been killing me. Specifically, my writing.

Okay, not that much. But I recently made my master list, and I’ve been following it pretty good. Editing, mostly, but things are getting done. I’m happy! It’s a lot better than sitting around and not doing it.

The worst thing is, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the new cards from the upcoming Star Wars set. More than I should be.

It’s okay, though. This excitement lasts a few days, then dies down, and I’m back to the grind. In fact, as I write this, it’s a three-day weekend for me. What time I have to myself (which is most of it), I can do pretty much anything I want, which again is mostly editing.

However, I did come up with a new story idea the other day. Why?! I’m trying to finish a novel here!

I just need to promise myself to keep working on this. Star Wars is awesome, and I’m super excited about it! But it’s killing me to have to wait. That’s good, though—it isn’t going anywhere.

And neither am I. But the chance to get my writing back on track and have things where they need to be is. Time to keep it moving. Time to put the cards aside for the weekend, and focus. Like a Jedi.

Bowing to the Master

August 27, 2017

Earlier in the week, I created a “master list” for writing. It is my most important stories that need worked on, and specifically what needs done with them. I’m very happy I did this.

Mainly, it’s staring me in the face. I literally wrote with an ink pen on college-ruled paper what needs to happen. It is sitting on my desk in a place where it won’t get covered with junk. I need that.

See, I have this big problem with mentally telling myself to remember to work on something. As the days pass and I still haven’t touched it, it slowly slips away, and I move on to something else, usually not involving writing at all.

Sound familiar?

We all do it. I know not everyone does, but a vast majority of human beings don’t follow their own basic rules or agendas. It’s okay, but not for me. I was having one of my typical days of anguish last week while on vacation. Five days in a row without having to work, and did I work on writing at all? Not very much.

I know my wife and I did a lot of fun little things, so it wasn’t like five 24 hour writing sessions in a row. But I could have done more. I should have.

So I made the master list. Not only am I managing to get these things done, I’m also able to plot out timelines of when they’ll be out and into the wilds. I think that was the main reason, to be honest. In addition to not having The Third Tower finished and ready for editing (which, believe me, is at the top of the list like King Kong high atop the Empire State Building…), I realized that I have three short stories out in the wilds right now, and they’re not exactly having much luck.

More stories need to be out making the rounds. Things need to be edited (seriously, why would I do a second draft on something in 2012 and then never touch it again?), and things need to be ready.

Things need to be DONE.

And that’s what I’m doing with my master list. If you don’t have one, seriously consider it. It might just change the way you work on your writing.

Farewell to yet another…

August 25, 2017

My alarm goes off every morning at 5:05. After letting it drive me nuts for a few minutes, I get up and go about my day (I hit the gym before breakfast and work). As I’m shutting off the alarm, however, imagine my surprise when I saw that I had an email waiting for me (like many of us, I have use my smartphone for my alarm clock, which also has email alerts, among other things).

The email was from a publication. Naturally, I get excited when I see that there was contact! But then my cynicism takes over, and I expect it’s a rejection letter. What can I say? Statistics show it’s more than likely.

But nope, it was neither. The publication, [Name Removed], has sent back (read: rejected, so to speak) all current submissions due to going into hiatus. When I later contacted Duotrope’s to inform them, they mentioned that the publication is done due to bankruptcy.

My apologies if this is classified info no one should know. I’m just repeating what I know.

Anyway, it’s bothered me all day today. Yet another publication closing their doors due to lack of funds. Lack of interest. Lack of help around the office. Lack of…anything.

Do we, as readers and writers, owe it to anyone to buy copies of these publications? Do we owe anyone a donation? Should we “like” them on Facebook? Follow their Twitter? Recommend them to our friends? Gush our praise in any and all public theater we can manage?

I admit, I’m short on cash. My bills are ridiculously high, I’m trying to save for retirement (HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!), saving for the sake of having a savings account, try to donate to charity when I can, and let’s face it, I need a new pair of shoes. Is it too much to ask me to spend $5 a month on supporting the arts?

After all, am I not an artist of sorts? If I can tell you to buy issues of publications, shouldn’t I myself do the same?

Look, I realize I gripe about these publications all the time. Why would they reject my story and then publish the utter garbage I see them publish? Okay, not all of it’s garbage, but sometimes I’ll read something and wonder, in all honesty, “Who in their right mind thought that was a good story?” But then I read a short story that does what it originally set out to do—entertains me.

Some stories, some artwork, even the publication layout and design are, in my opinion, award winning. But so sorry, you can’t be bothered to spend $2 to legally enjoy the hard work all these people put into it. I get it. You’ve got your own bills, and whatever else you need to focus on.

But just try it. If you have a few extra bucks laying around, check out one of these fantastic publications. They’ll be grateful, and you’ll be happier for not only having supported the arts, but for giving yourself quality reading material.

I mean really, for all the people I know who read so much, they sure don’t actually read much. Oh, and you don’t know where to start with these publications? Go to your local bookstore and check out one of the actual print publications. Do a Google search for speculative fiction online publications, or something else. Some are free. Some cost a few bucks. All are worthy of your time.

If we owe it to anyone, we owe it to ourselves above all else.

Vacation’s Over

August 20, 2017

Today is the last day of my vacation, and I’m feeling that sadness that always comes with it. My wife and I took some much needed time off this past week, but with a lack of money, couldn’t really go anywhere. (The best thing was, hands down, no mosquitoes!) We took a day trip to Cleveland on Friday, and the day before hit up my alma mater, Bowling Green (more on that in a minute), but mostly just stayed at home.

I smoked cigars, got to see one of my oldest and dearest friends (hi Noah!), drank a lot of beer, took walks, did yard and house work, and ate out a lot. It’s nice, but I think if we actually took a trip, we’d be dying to get home and get back to work. (I would have loved to have gone to Gencon or even Boston to share the love!) Instead, we’ve loafed about and realized how awesome life is without going to work.

Writing was on my plate, though, and I finished a story (yay!). More importantly, though, I made a list of necessary things to do for writing. Stories to finish, edit, prep for self-publish, things like that. I’m pretty happy, but now I just need to find the time to get it all done!

Going to Bowling Green was fun, but had its downsides as well. For starters, I wanted to eat at the student union but all of the cool little independent restaurants are gone! It’s all chains, and things I don’t like at that. So we went to a pizza place across the street from campus. It started raining right when we were done, which soon became pouring.

It wouldn’t stop. We were soaked, and couldn’t just enjoy walking the campus. Since it’s August in Ohio, all the buildings had the air conditioning cranked up, so we were freezing inside.

My biggest issue? I realized that since graduating 12.5 years ago, I haven’t had a major publication ever. I’m not poo-pooing the publishing credits I do have, but no books picked up by a publishing house, no stories in a professionally paying market, no major contests, no inclusion in big-time anthologies.

It’s okay. I’m surviving, of course. It just stings to go into East Hall and see the display case of alumni publications and even reading the blurbs in the semi-monthly college publication with so-and-so’s latest publication in whichever magazine.

I’m trying, though. Hopefully this new list of important can get me moving and working hard enough to get things where they need to be.

This doesn’t mean I have nothing, though. Good things are coming!

Last year, I was published in Bards & Sages Quarterly. At the beginning of the year, there was a poll to vote on best story of each particular issue, which will all then be collected into a special publication, Bardic Tales & Sage Advice. My story won for my issue! It should be out soon. REAL soon! As always, I’ll keep you informed of when it is released.

Also, and this has been out for a while, but Crimson Streets (also something I was published in last year) has collected the first 26 stories in a handsome paperback. I’ve read pretty much all the stories online as they came out, but reading through again, I’m reminded of how many great short pieces are out there. Seriously worth checking out, not only for great reading, but to support the small presses and show us that you want to see more!

Crimson Streets!

All in all, things are going well. I feel like with the closing weeks of summer, seeing kids going back to school and realizing that I haven’t had a single publication this year, I’m feeling a little depressed. But not to worry, I’ve got tons more, and no need to worry. My fingers have a lot of stories left in them, and I’ve got lots of time!

Stay awesome, my friends.