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?

Advertisements

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.

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…

Weekend Musings

August 11, 2018

Well, it’s Saturday. The weekend. Whoo hoo, and shit, right? Time for some margaritas and sleeping in. Or, in the case of an author, time to really put the nose to the grindstone and write, write, write!!!

Yeah, sure.

So here I am, stuck at work, because my job sucks. I work in an office, Monday through Friday, 7:30 to 4:00. I have to work every other Saturday, 8:00 to Noon. Since I do about four hours of actual work throughout the week, it leaves me plenty of time to “work on writing” and other activities. Mostly checking Facebook, sifting through ebay, and staring at the wall.

See, I’ve hit a slump lately. Aside from spending the last two weeks sick as hell and feeling beyond miserable—seriously, I haven’t wanted to do anything but curl up under a blanket and stare out the window—I’ve just felt…despair. Not at life in general (I always do that no matter what), but at my writing.

As I’ve said, on July 1st I started my big edit of The Third Tower. I did, too! I trudged through the first twenty chapters of the book, and felt very satisfied when I finished them. But I didn’t want to go any further, and haven’t wanted to, either. I keep wanting to write or edit other stories, but if I have an idea, I don’t want to start it, and I don’t want to clear the time to edit.

The problem? I often give my wife stories and chapters to have her check them out. She’s a voracious reader—seriously, she logs about 100 books a year, if not more. She knows the written word. She doesn’t read like an editor or another writer, but someone who loves stories. So I gave her the first two chapters to read, and see if she had any thoughts on them.

I got a shrug.

I haven’t tried to get her to elaborate, but I feel like that shrug told me it was just…meh. Not bad, but not great. Not the type of opening chapters that will make her want to come back for more, to keep reading until 3 am, and to eagerly await the next book in the inevitable trilogy.

So why should I continue? Why bother? Will someone else like the book, or will everyone give me the shrug? Is this yet another work of mine that I spent more than enough blood, sweat and (yes) tears on, that will ultimately end up in the “who gives a shit” bin?

Are my ideas really that bad?

So I’m in a bit of a slump. I want to finish it, but I don’t want to waste the time. I want to write other stories, but if no one’s going to read them, why bother? I have lots more to edit, but if no editors want them, why not do something else?

I’ll be over this soon. Probably once I sit down and start working on something. But that niggling little voice in the back of my mind keeps asking me the same thing, over and over: Is it really worth it?

I have been giving serious consideration to publishing something, and not just my own stuff. I really want to do a sword and sorcery anthology, and a science fiction antho as well. First, I need someone to fund the whole thing. Anyone got $5000 laying around with nothing to spend it on? Thanks, I’ll take it!

More positively, I’m eagerly anticipating my story “Sunday Evening” for publication in Broadswords and Blasters. It won’t be out for a few more months, but seriously, check that publication out! They are awesome, and have some great stories. No joke, I’ve been a longtime reader and fan before they even accepted my story. Please, support the arts!

I’m Still Here

August 1, 2018

I’ve been conspicuously absent for some time. Or haven’t you noticed?

I assure you, I’m okay. Fighting illness (just a cold, albeit one lasting several days longer than I’m used to…), but okay. I’ve been meaning to stop in and say hi, catch you all up, and do the usual, but just…haven’t.

So here it is, August 1st, and I’ve gone more than two whole months without blogging! Lazy! Apathetic! Callous! Shallow! Well, maybe not ALL that, but yeah, lazy at least.

I vowed back in June that no matter what I was working on, no matter what I had to do, I would begin editing The Third Tower as of July 1st. I held true to my promise! I started right away, and got into it when I had the chance.

And boy, has it been a go.

I’m literally one-third of the way through it, and it’s been a month! How?! It’s just so…tiring. I don’t know, I’m bumping into several issues, but I’m still working on it. I guess I just have to power through it. And I will, of course, but sometimes it’s hard to force yourself to do it, no matter how much you want to.

I have story ideas, and I’m eager to get working on two different novels. I’m looking into several different contests, and of course Star Wars Destiny has a new set and lots of tournaments right now. Oh, and I’ve been sick as hell (that really feels like it’s been going on for way too long).

I think I’ll go get a flat white tonight. Maybe I’ll vacuum my car. Maybe I’ll take a walk, go pet some dogs in the neighborhood.

Case in point: I’m alive. I’m here. And I’m working on it.

All of it.

Spring Into SciFi is out now! Go here to get your copy if you haven’t…but you DO have one, right?

Pretty much anyone reading this doesn’t need to hear what I’m about to say, but I’ll reiterate: supporting small-press publications and authors like this is GOOD. Not only does it bring in revenue and allow the publishers to continue putting cool things out like this, it also shows the authors that people are interested, which in turn allows them to keep doing what they love.

Over the past few years, as you know, I’ve self-published several short stories and given them away completely free, mostly on Smashwords. There are so few downloads it makes me sick. Not because it’s my writing and people need to bow down to me, but because I’m always hearing about how people love to read. I hear about how self-publishing is THE way to go.

So why isn’t it working? Why doesn’t anyone care? Surely I can’t suck—no one is reading it to know if it does or doesn’t!

Look, I’m guilty of it too. There are times I need to get the free downloads, even the cheap ones. I can afford it, and so can you. And how many times do I find myself sitting around the house, done with my writing and bored as hell? (Not that I have any reason to be, given all my myriad hobbies, but I digress…) Or when I’m sitting on an exercise bike, staring at yet another rerun of This Old House or whatever the hell it is the TV’s at the gym are playing.

It’s like donating to a charity. Sure, you only have $1 to give. But if one-million people donate $1, that’s $1,000,000. I’m not saying this as a way to help get other people rich, but just to show that donating and helping and supporting are—no duh—quite good. And who knows? Maybe it’ll come back and help you in the end.

In other news…

I’ve been editing a lot. Like, more than writing. But to be honest, I’m loving it. Sure, I’ve got a ton of old stories lying around that need to be cleaned up, and I’m finally making the time to do so. Maybe I can make the leap from writer to editor…or just continue to balance the two.

Viva life!

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.

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.