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.

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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.