6 Years of Being a Friend

February 2, 2019

Earlier this week, WordPress informed me that it was my 6th anniversary with them. Six years of this blog! I know it’s not THAT long ago, but I still remember the day I started it up. I kept telling myself, write blogs, even if no one follows you, and then when you’re a big-time writer, people will go and look back at your methods and madness.

Well, here we are. I’m still not Mr. Big Time, and I highly doubt people go back and read old blogs. I mean, really, it’s mostly just me complaining about not getting published. So instead of doing that right here and now, I’m just going to leave a big fat thanks to every one of you.

Everyone that has been with me for a while, new readers, and readers in the future going back and checking through all these blogs, THANK YOU for being there. I’m always happy to know that people are following, and paying attention. I hope that you’re all reading my writing as well, but then again, why else would you be here? 😉

Anyway, happy February, happy Groundhog Day, and once again, thank you for being a friend!

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Protected by Common Sense

January 20, 2019

Ugh, fanfiction. The thought most of us get when we hear it is the disgusting sexual stuff, or the Mary Sue stories that they typically are. I think of that, but I also think of terrible, error-laden writing with no discernable plot. Lots of dialog that is so unrealistic I want to puke, and out of character actions that just ruin the whole property to begin with.

I kind of want to write some.

I know, I know, it sounds silly. But I am really digging on a property right now. A property that (for the time being will remain nameless) is protected by one of the most fierce and bloodthirsty copyright holders in the world. A company that loves to go after people for the slightest hint of misuse of…well, anything.

But they have a massive publishing wing as well. Books and short stories, not to mention some comic books that they are supposedly starting up again. And this story, or stories, that I want to write, take place in a property that at the moment has so little fiction/fluff published that I really want to get something started. Hell, free short stories posted to their website would be fine. Exposure of that kind I could get behind—because it’s guaranteed readership!

I’m probably not going to write anything, though. I have a million other things to work on, but man…it’d be awesome to be able to do it.

In other news…

I’ve been thinking a lot about adventure stories, specifically “tomb raiding” stories like Indiana Jones. I have two ideas in the works for plots that I highly doubt you’re expecting to see. I’ve been studying that trope for a while and figuring out ways I can turn it upside down. I hope I can properly write them.

I may put the next novel on hold for a while basically because I keep writing new Clay and Styg stories. Every time I finish one, I start another. I’m working on rewriting some older ones, and getting editing done on a lot of them. If things go well, I could have them collected in a book (like I’ve always wanted!).

Snowing like crazy here in Toledo. I haven’t left the house all day. How’s your Saturday been?

Now Available!

January 17, 2019

Hey!

Just a friendly reminder (as if you need one, because I’m sure you knew this anyway), Broadswords and Blasters #8 is available to buy RIGHT NOW!

Broadswords and Blasters Issue 8!!!

Aside from supporting the publication and its two awesome editors, you are supporting authors, a community, and even the great cover artist, Luke Spooner (seriously, check out his artwork! It’s really good.).

Oh, yeah, and I have a story in it as well 🙂

It’s not expensive at all, so don’t rob yourself of the chance to read some really great stories.

Over the recent holidays, we’ve had some nice, long weekends at my day job. 4 days for Christmas, and 4 for New Year’s. We were back at work yesterday, sitting there and hoping to stay awake. (I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night for some reason. Not sure why, but it happens. Nothing to worry about, though.)

When we came back to work from Christmas, one of our truck drivers told us that a former employee lost his mother on Christmas. It was sad to hear and we felt back for him, but no one suspected any kind of foul play or something more sinister. Rumor was that her heart messed up somehow, which was still odd because she was only in her late 40’s.

So yesterday, someone asked if we heard about the death, and we all did. But he said that he found out more—it was a suicide.

Now, none of us know what the woman felt, thought, lived with, and had to deal with every day. Suicide and mental health are unique to each person suffering from them. I feel bad for the entire family, and they have my sympathies.

I keep thinking about that former employee, though. He was difficult to deal with. Too much of a smart mouth, and always wanted to get involved in everyone’s business. It wasn’t an inquisitive nature, it was him going out of his way to be annoying. To be honest, he reminded me a little of myself, but mostly other kids I knew back when I was 11 or 12.

A lot of the other warehouse guys picked on him and treated him like a chump. He pretty much proved that he was, in fact, a chump within his first couple of days on the job. The good-natured hazing and ribbing turned into regular bullying and harassment, but he did nothing to help himself. Like many people in that position, he became standoffish and wanted to stir up trouble of his own.

He would come in the office and mouth off, disregard basic instructions, and try to mess up everyone’s job—grabbing papers off the printer, picking up ringing phones, interrupting with customers. It doesn’t take a clinical therapist to know that these kinds of behaviors come from his anger and frustration, feeling like he needs to cause trouble even more, regardless of what happens. He gets the attention he feels he deserves.

Did I mention he’s 21 years old? Not 3, not 8, not 12. 21. An adult, of legal drinking, voting, and driving age.

I can’t say what people should or shouldn’t do, but he seems a little too old to be acting like that. He was annoying, so I wasn’t sad to see him leave for another job.

But after a tragedy like this, losing his mom in such a horrifying way, it makes me actually worry for him. I feel bad, and he and his entire family have my sympathies. I hope that everything goes well for him, and that they all get through this.

Not to be crass or unsympathetic in any way, shape or form, but I hope it causes him to grow up a little bit. I can’t assume what, if any, mental health issues he might have, but tragic events like this can often be an eye opening experience for people. It might help him grow up and get his act together, and become more of an adult.

It could also push him back even more.

I honestly worry that instead of coming out of this a stronger, better man, he’s just going to revert even more to the childish, troublesome imp he seemed to be in the office. I’m not saying any of this to ridicule or say how people should be or act or live. What I’m saying is, I hope he can work his way through this, and if he needs to get help to do so, may he find what he needs.

It took me forever to finally go to a therapist. I’m not cured of emotional outbursts and occasional depressive lulls, but I do know how to deal with them. Sometimes it takes a major life event or tragedy to get to where you need to be, and sometimes you just get there on your own.

Either way, I feel for him, and his family. And I hope everything is okay for all of you, too.

 

Obligatory End of Year Blog

December 28, 2018

The biggest question on all bloggers’ minds right now is, Should I do a year-end wrap-up? To be honest, I don’t know if I should or not. I feel like there are so many more cons than pros, and it might end up making me look unprofessional, irresponsible, and maybe even a little bit lazy. I mean, let’s face it, it’s not like I came up with this idea or anything.

But fuck it, let’s go! I figure I can brag about my good stuff, and anything bad can help make me into a better person in the coming year. After all, isn’t that what we do with mistakes? Learn from them?

Geez, one would hope!

Anyway, I present to you, Myke Edwards’ 2018 Year End Extravaganza!

+ I had a story accepted! “Sunday Evening” was graciously accepted back in the spring, and will appear in January’s issue of Broadswords & Blasters. I’ve long been a fan of this publication, and I implore you to check it out. Not just because I’m in it, but because there’s a lot of great writing—and artwork! This is one of those publications that makes me hope for the future of short stories, and small, independent presses.

– I didn’t publish as much as I would have liked. Not that this is necessarily my fault, because I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried harder than you could ever imagine! Submitting stories every week, tirelessly researching publications and reformatting my work to fit their narrow (and let’s be honest, oftentimes ridiculous) style guidelines. But I still did it. I checked out stories on their websites, did my research, and busted ass to get stories in the hands of editors. The ones I actually heard from didn’t seem to have much need for my work, but that won’t stop me from trying. As a wise man once said, I ain’t dead yet!

+ I started my second draft of “The Third Tower”! For those who are just joining us, TTT is my latest novel that I started way back in 2014. Due to life getting in the way, not to mention my unfortunate habit of procrastinating anything good in my life, I worked at it piecemeal until December of last year when I finally finished it. Knowing that it was sitting there, collecting dust and begging me to fix it up, I got to work on July 1st. My main goal was to cut and shorten, but other than that, I wanted to polish it up into the best version of my book that I could.

– Not that much got written. I know, I know, I’m distracting myself with other things like Star Wars Destiny, Warhammer Underworlds, painting my miniatures, going to the gym, and other pesky things like having a full-time job, being a good husband to my wife, and fixing up this DIY disaster zone we call a house. I am working at making a better effort to be a more productive writer, and I feel like 2019 will usher that in. What sucks now is that with the end of the year and the holidays up our collective asses, it’s really difficult to sit down and write as much as I’d like to. Catch as catch can still allows me to write, so hey, I’m in!

+ I finished the edit of TTT! What, you thought I just started it and didn’t get through it? I did have some difficulty in getting all the way through, but I slogged through my mess and got draft number 2 completed, and ready to be in the hands of an editor, beta readers, and hopefully, an agent! Any takers?

– Stories I’d hoped to have edited and redrafted never got finished. Some I worked on, others I put aside in the “maybe later” tray, and some I just never got around to. It’s not like they’re so-called trunk stories, just that I haven’t had as much time to work on them as possible. Seriously, if I didn’t have to work 40 hours a week, I’d be all set. But, you know, bills and all.

+ Ideas! Tons of great ideas have been floating around in my head throughout the entire year, and fortunately, I’ve written them down! I’ll say this now, and hope that 2019 doesn’t kick me in the nuts: they will be written in the new year! Comic books, a new novel, and lots of great short stories are clawing their way out of my brain, and they NEED to be done!

– Blogging. I had hoped, at various points throughout the year, to be able to write a new blog three times a week. In theory, it’s definitely doable. It’s not like I have a requirement of how many words, like some professional bloggers do, but I still couldn’t manage to do it. Even if I wanted to post a quick, “Hey, here’s what I’m doing!” or even just reminding everyone of previously published stuff they can go check out, I don’t do it. There are times I’ll write a blog at work, email it to myself, and completely forget about it until a day or two later. Given the length of time between posts that you can clearly see for yourself, it makes me wonder if keeping a blog is even worth my while. But still, it has helped, and I really don’t want to just ditch it. Hopefully, blogging more will be a bigger part of next year.

Naturally, there are many, many more things going on in my life, writing-wise and not. I could sit for hours and find new pros and cons to write here, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m off to work on writing, or better my life, or move into the future instead of dwelling on the past. This is a great way to say goodbye to what did and didn’t work, but also a perfect way to look forward to what can, should, and will happen.

‘Tis the Season

December 4, 2018

Contests! Anthologies! Publications, open back up for business!

Tis the season, indeed. I love when I have more markets available to submit stories to, especially all at once. It gives me a nice, warm feeling of accomplishment when I send off a whole bunch of stories to a whole bunch of places.

Sadly, most—if not all—of them come back as rejections. It’s okay, because I know that it probably wasn’t  the right fit. Maybe they don’t like my style. Maybe they checked out this blog and disagreed with me. Maybe I’m just overthinking everything.

Whatever the case, I’m glad to see that business is booming. It also means that a lot of end of year collections, and the latest quarterlies have a new issue available! I love to read small press publications, and delight in reading the short stories and (sometimes) poems that are in them.

Nothing against poetry or poets! I wrote more than my fair share in high school and college, but boy did I ever get burned out on it. Every now and again I’ll come across a poem, however, that blows my mind. I love it, especially in a horror magazine!

Just scrolling through Facebook today, I noticed so many calls for submissions and reminders that things are open. Nothing resets the juicy encouragement factor of a writer than the promise of something you’ve wanted for so long actually, possibly, maybe really happening! My wife and I don’t have plans for tonight (other than washing that disgusting mountain of dishes in our sink, please kill me!), but we might just happen to head to our friendly local coffee shop and enjoy a nice latte while I work on many things at once.

It makes me think that I have too many things going on in my life outside of work and marriage. Star Wars Destiny, Warhammer Underworlds, hitting the gym to attempt to stay fit and healthy, and trying to keep my house from crumbling apart. I prioritize writing, definitely, but sometimes, I can’t manage to get more than a few minutes daily to write or edit (or think about it, or talk about it, or dream about it…).

Good news, though! The latest issue of Broadswords and Blasters, of which yours truly has a story in, will be published next month! We’ve been waiting a while for it, but it’s finally here! Check it out now:

Broadswords and Blasters–New Issue Coming Soon!

Anyway, just wanted to get something down. I’m excited and needed to talk about it! Hopefully all of you little sexies are doing well also!

Walk That Artsy Walk

December 3, 2018

Saturday night, my wife and I went to my old high school to see my nephew in a performance of Legally Blonde, Jr: The Musical! As someone who not only supports the arts, but his family as well, I was excited to see him in the musical. It was his first performance like that, and as a kid who hasn’t been big into choir or plays, he actually had a decent part with a short singing piece as well. That’s great, because I know a lot of kids in that situation who would just end up in chorus.

It sparked a lot of thoughts and feelings seeing him, though. Nothing negative against my nephew, please keep in mind. He actually did good! I’m not just saying that as his childless uncle, but as someone who was in choir and musicals himself. Also, compared to a lot of those other kids…yeah, he was awesome.

So anyway, I keep thinking about when I was his age (12), and how little confidence I had in myself. I never really thought about it at the time, but there were so many factors that led to it. My parents, of course, constantly putting me down, immediately laughing when I said I wanted to sing a solo, instilling fear into me when I mentioned getting in front of a crowd and making me belive that everyone was going to laugh at miniscule things. After all, they sure loved commenting on every minor thing whenever someone spoke in church or at a performance. So perfect, my parents were!

Yeah, right. No one is perfect, but when you’re attacked on all sides and can’t get out of your head that you’ll never be good enough, in addition to the fact that your choir directors and play directors have their little pets that they give all the good parts to, it makes you feel like theater and singing isn’t your strong point.

Hey, maybe I wasn’t a great singer. I mean, I never really did get good parts, and I had one solo my entire time in high school—at graduation, and that was because I happened to be in the right place at the right time. But it wasn’t just that, it was lack of encouragement.

That’s the other thing that’s been weighing heavily on me. I like acting in plays, but none of the directors, my parents, siblings, friends, NO ONE ever mentioned acting classes. No one mentioned auditioning for local playshops, or anything like that. They didn’t even advertise those local productions at our school!

How was I supposed to know about it? Because I wasn’t “in” with anyone.

My last few years of high school, I got big into playing bass guitar. I wanted to be in a band, but I also wanted to be a studio musician, I wanted to play on a cruise ship, I just wanted…something.

I asked my choir director, even the guy I was taking private lessons from, and neither gave me encouragement. Neither said anything about what I should learn, how I should set priorities for myself, none said to practice for at least an hour every day, even if it’s just scales…nothing.

Sure, I could have done this on my own. But if no one else cares, why should I? That was how I felt, directionless and hopeless.

So I got over it. I moved on. (Yes, I know I’m writing about it but I truly am over it. I’ll always hold onto those memories and do everything I can to move past it and be better than I once was, but they’re not going anywhere.) Should I have continued with playing bass? Taking voice lessons? Auditioning for plays despite knowing I’d never get a good part outside of chorus? If someone had just said, very calmly and not accusatorily, “If you start small, like in the chorus or with one or two lines, you’ll eventually build your way up to something bigger. Don’t expect the best parts right away, even if other kids get those. Some people have that natural thing about them, while others have to work for it. Put in your time, and it’ll be even more rewarding,” then maybe I would have continued. No one ever did that. Sure, I should have known, but without encouragement, why would I want to continue. Don’t miss the opportunity to encourage others who show some spark of an interest in something.

I always hear people say to support the arts, support your local scene, support this and that and everything else and all that happy horseshit. But you know what? I don’t see them actually doing it. Sure, it’s easy to go on Facebook or Twitter and talk a big game, but when it’s time to put your money where your mouth it, can you do it? Have you bought a small press publication? Did you go see your friend’s band? Sit through the entirety of your nephew’s terrible junior high musical?

Support your children, siblings, nieces and nephews, parents, cousins, friends, neighbors, anyone. If someone shows interest in something, encourage them to pursue it, don’t be an asshole like some peoples’ fathers and laugh at them or criticize them mercilessly to the point where they feel like garbage. Help them understand that practice makes perfect, and that some things are worth spending a little extra time on. If they seem clueless about how to proceed with something, give them advice, point them in the right direction, or just sit and listen to them express their interest. Every little bit helps, even if you don’t care. People didn’t listen to you? Well, two wrongs don’t make a right, so don’t stifle someone’s creativity just because you never had that chance.

If you’re not careful, that chance for someone else might end with you.

Finished 2.0

November 11, 2018

(Note: I wrote this Thursday, and today is Sunday. I never had a chance to get this posted and finalized, so my apologies on the lateness. Also, it just goes to show how crappy I am with deadlines. I really need to work on that, and maybe consider another blog about it!)

Last night, it happened. After four months of procrastinating and yammering on and on about it, I finally sat down and finished my major edit, my second draft if you will, of The Third Tower. I only had two chapters remaining, yet for some reason, I wouldn’t do it.

A big part of it was due to time. I know, I know, a real writer prioritizes writing above all. Unfortunately, life happens and it’s not necessarily possible to sit down and focus. But this isn’t the time to split hairs and point fingers—it’s done!

It’s funny because a week prior–Halloween, in fact–I had this feeling of dread. Not that the Devil was going to come and kill me or whatever it is they think happens unless I give small children crappy candy, but for this novel. I had a very small number of chapters left to edit, and felt that I had to get them done without question. I hurried over to Biggby and goofed off for a while (actually paying bills) before I finally buckled down and did all of two chapters.

But I did them! And I felt great. I also felt like shit because I had hoped to get everything done, not just two. Still, it was an effort, and every little bit helped. If I had stayed at home and gave kids candy, none of that would be done. So, to all the neighborhood kids (and the kids from other crappy neighborhoods that don’t give out anything other than grief), I apologize that you were cheated of one single Twizzler or Jolly Rancher. I genuinely hope that your holiday and subsequently your life haven’t been ruined all thanks to me. Just know that I had important business to attend to, and I can gleefully write this blog knowing that my major task is completed.

Now, I have time to do all sorts of other stuff I’ve wanted to do. Not outside of writing; I’ve been doing all that all along (like the newest expansion for Star Wars Destiny: Across the Galaxy–a great set of cards!). No, I mean writing-wise. I’ve got story ideas. I have my next novel to work on. There’s even a webcomic I’m dabbling with. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get into assignment writing?

Years and years of repressed and ignored feelings have been surfacing, though. I’m not sure why, but all of a sudden, these past few months, I feel like everything is imploding on me. Fortunately, I’m able to see signs and I know to get the help I need. Not everyone has a support system, unfortunately, and not everyone is able to see that something is wrong—they just accept it for what is, and live with it until the worst happens.

I’m actually happy I’ve noticed this. I feel like writing, like I have so much to say—not just on the topic of my own mental health, but just in general. I don’t feel like a simple idea is a bad one. I don’t feel like I’m wasting time by writing basic stuff, stories and shorts that don’t accomplish much of anything. Somehow, making an appointment with a therapist has liberated me, and I don’t want to allow myself to be constrained by what I think or assume might be a dumb idea.

As many times as I say I’m excited for the future, nothing much comes of it. This time, I’m not sure anything different will happen. What I do know, however, is that I won’t be so depressed and negative about it anymore. Like I said earlier, life happens, and in some odd way, I’m okay with that.

Now, in addition to working on all of these new stories and edits, I’ve got to find a professional editor. Anyone know someone good, but inexpensive?

Still at it…

September 26, 2018

Editing is not easy. I’ve never really looked forward to the task, no matter how large or small, but it’s something I do. Necessity is one of those annoying things in life, after all. But I don’t have to like it, and I don’t have to cruise through it.

So I’ve been trudging my way through The Third Tower, editing like a madman. Most chapters are no longer than five pages (double-spaced, natch), and you’d think I would get through one in no time at all.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrongity-wrong!

My first draft was sloppy, to say the least. While I’m happy and occasionally impressed with my writing abilities as I read through it, there are a lot of things that need tweaking. Excess words, oddly phrased sentences, and just plain grammatically incorrect bits and pieces.

But then there’s the rewriting. Cutting words like crazy (hey, I’ve killed many darlings in this, and haven’t batted an eyelash at it!), adding new sentences, extra description and stage directions, the like. But man oh man, is it frustrating when I spend more time re-reading the same paragraph that is clearly a little off, but I can’t quite figure out what the specific issue is.

I guess patience is a virtue? I can take a little bit longer to have a better written piece in the end, with less work and time spent from an outside editor. Of course, I’ll need to be able to pay for one…

Stories are still getting sent out. I’m not neglecting everything, but naturally not writing anything new. For once, I don’t feel an urge to stop editing so I can work on a new story, but it also worries me. Am I out of ideas? Or is my brain finally allowing myself to focus…

Whatever the case, I hope to be done soon. Here it is, September 26, so I’ll say it now: The Third Tower will be fully drafted a second time by October 1.

If not, well, just wait longer, I guess…

So long to yet another one…

September 1, 2018

Well shit. Another one bites the dust. Space and Time Magazine, a science-fiction/fantasy/horror literary magazine, one of the best for over 50 years, has ceased publication. You can read the whole post here. Go ahead, I’ll wait. This is huge news to authors such as myself, but also to dozens (hopefully hundreds?) of readers looking for their next favorite short story.

I admit, I wasn’t totally familiar with the publication until just a few years ago. It wasn’t readily available like the “Big 3” on newsstands everywhere, but I did see it here and there, not to mention all the various namedrops throughout the industry.

What I’ve read, I liked. For a long time, it wasn’t open to public submissions, so I felt like an eager young scout, waiting for them to open the drawbridge and let me in. Last year or so, they finally did, allowing unsolicited submissions from everyone.

I never got accepted, and now I never will. It stings, in a way, knowing that as an author, I won’t be in their pages, but also as a reader, that I can’t enjoy it anymore. There’s still a few issues coming out, but once they’ve used up what they have, they’re done.

Naturally, it’s low readership, risings costs, and lack of time. I can understand, because every time I attempt to do any kind of publication (usually an anthology), I run into all of those problems as well. It takes money to make money, and it takes people to make a publication.  Do they say that? I’ll say that. There, I said it.

A part of me wants to be mad at people, myself included, for not supporting publications more. We are the ones responsible, after all, for the life or death of these things. But we can’t sit here and play the blame game. We move on, and figure out ways to keep this from happening again.

So all day yesterday after I read this news, I kept thinking about publishing short fiction. While there are still people out there who read it (myself included), there’s a lot more who write it (myself again). It feels like the audience is shrinking, while the production line is growing. Full-length books are the hotness right now, and it’s hard enough getting one of those guys out there.

I keep wondering, should I bother with short stories anymore? Maybe just post them here, for free, and worry more about long fiction? I’m still not making any progress on The Third Tower’s editing, but man oh man do I need to. Who knows? Maybe that will skyrocket to the top, and people will love it?

The other night I wrote a post about lack of motivation. Maybe I’ll get around to posting it, maybe not (I just never had a chance to unfortunately), but the point is, I’ve been exhausted and frustrated and have no energy to focus on potentially “making it.” However, reading about Space and Time, I feel strangely motivated to get my show back on the road, and get it all done so I can start working on the next one.

So anyway, support small press publications. Buy an issue, write a review, or recommend something to your friends! We all sit here and mewl about bad things happening, but never seem to do anything about it until it’s too late. Perhaps I’ll start doing a regular recommendation in all of my posts…

Get out there. Read! Support!! Enjoy!!!