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Monthly Archives: October 2011

No, not Christmas. It’s Halloween! I love this holiday. What creative twenty-something guy wouldn’t love a holiday that lets him dress up in a costume and ask people for candy? I mean, yeah, it’s not that much of a stretch from any ordinary day…

Yes, that is Neil Gaiman's "Absolute Death" collection in my hand.

Professionalism at its finest.

Today is no ordinary Halloween, though. It’s also NaNoWriMo Eve. I’m pretty stoked, boys and girls. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been doing some planning, and this is going to be to best forward progress I’ll have made on a big project like this in a long time.

One of these days, I’m going to have to get a group of people together to play this. A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Everyone is John, a role playing game of sorts, in which every player controls a voice inside the head of an insane man named John. Rules are simple, and apparently this one has been around since 2002. It’s an interesting thought experiment.  It’s probably going to have to wait until after next month, though. I’m going to be busier than ever. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unless, you know, other things that I’m doing started paying me. That, I’d take.

Today, I step into the tetrahedron to take on blog fatigue! That’s right, friends. A tetrahedron. Why? All the good 2D shapes were taken. Stupid Ultimate Fighting and their octagon. Stupid boxers/wrestlers and their “ring” that’s actually a square. Where does the madness end? I’d say in non-Euclidean space, but that just screws with geometry even more… But I digress.

Blog fatigue! I see it. I know that NaNoWriMo is coming up, and that many of us need to rest our weary, carpal-tunnel-plagued, thrice-cursed arms, but don’t stop writing! Life could be so much worse! You could be like this poor fellow, asking for a handout on the street:

You'd think he'd be able to talk H.G. Wells' estate out of some royalties...

We must valiantly carry on! Even if it’s some nonsensical tirade about people not writing, you must write! Even if it’s only a couple of hundred words a day! Your followers care about you, and they miss you when you don’t visit them and shower them with the glory of your written word.

I used to make fun of bloggers before I became one. That’s kind of the trend with things, isn’t it? You make fun of the people with iPhones until you manage to afford one, and then… Oh, and then… I found a quotation years ago, that I absolutely loved. “Blogging. Never before have so many with so little to say said so much to so few.” I suppose that I used to think that this was true, but you know something? Once you really get into it, it’s hard to stop. Please, friends, don’t let your blogs go without your input. I like the motivation that your post and comments provide. Plus, you know… Four days til NaNo. You can disappear then. Good luck!

 

It is a fool who does not set goals for himself. A greater fool still is he who fails to accomplish said goals.

This much being said, I’m setting some goals for myself. Some of these are short-term, others may take a little longer, but ideally, all will be met within the next year.

1.) Employment. Gainful employment. I love my part-time job at the library, but it’s only part-time. Granted, I have time for writing and whatnot, but that’s not really all that useful at the moment, when I’ve got student loans and whatnot to pay off. I’d like to secure a full time position somewhere, or at least a 2nd part-time job that will work around my library schedule. This is step one, because a great deal of my goals will be derived from income earned via said employment.

2.) Living arrangements. I want to be in my own place (or at least a shared place) before Thanksgiving. Seriously. Having a little bit of space to myself would be a great boon to my writing/editing plans. See step one. Work arrangements will probably precede housing, since I need to know where I’ll be working to know what I can afford each month, and have a good idea of what kind of commute I might be facing,  especially with winter approaching.

Ned Stark gets all scientific-like.

3.) Get a new computer. I love my Dell, but it’s over four years old, and is a pretty well-traveled laptop. It’s holding up remarkably well, but I’m afraid that it’s nearing the end of its functional lifespan. I’m planning (admittedly probably too far in advance) to replace it with a desktop/netbook pair. I want a custom-built desktop for all my gaming, music, videos, and whatnot. The netbook would be for portability. That way I could write on the go, and still have a couple of decent games with me as well. The price keeps dropping on the little guys, and for what I spent on my current laptop, I could get said desktop plus a netbook that would have all the memory and functionality of my current machine. Crazy how that goes. Again, though, see step one.

4.) Propose. She’s incredibly patient, that girl. The biggest boon of financial stability would be this. I could finally feel like I can ask her to marry me, and know that I can support us both.

5.) Get published. This one’s in the works. We’ll have to see what the editors at Strange Horizons think. Getting any industry notice is big. If they say no, I’ve got other options.

6.) Write a novel. This one is also in the works, thanks to the upcoming NaNoWriMo event. I’ve had the idea for the main plot and most of the characters in my head since January, and they’ve been sharing a lot about their lives with me. When November gets here, I’m going to do my level best to get them all out onto the page. Step five will have a great impact on this novel’s future.

7.) Get in shape. If I can schedule time for writing, I can schedule time to work out. It’s not that I need to lose weight (those of you who have met me in person can attest to this), but that I want to be in better condition. I’m not exactly the most athletic person in the world. I’d like to at least get to the point where I’m not so apprehensive about exercise. Stupid P.E. classes screwed with my self-esteem way too much.

8.) Take full blog control. Those of you who know wordpress know that I’m doing this strictly via the free version of things. I’d love to be able to have the income to toss toward the upgrade, and have my own domain. It’s not that much, I know, but all the same, it’s an extra expense that I can’t quite justify right now.

9.) See Rush in concert. Sounds a little silly, doesn’t it? Still, who knows how much longer the guys will be touring? Right now, they’re at the absolute top of my to-see list, and I’m still kicking myself for missing a couple of opportunities recently.

10.) Travel. I’ve not done any real travelling since high school. I want to go somewhere I’ve never been before, whether it’s here in the U.S. or another country. I’ve still got 2 1/2 years before I have to renew my passport. It would be awesome to get a couple more stamps in it first. England is near the top of the list (thanks to English teachers and certain friends getting to go there). Germany is up there too, even though I’ve already been. I’ve got a lot of family there that I would like to see again. Then there’s the ever elusive Japan… I’ve already admitted that I’m an anime geek, haven’t I? Even if it’s just booking the trip, I’d like to get out of Colorado and go somewhere I’ve never been before.

Is ten enough? Too many? I dunno. I’ll figure it out, I guess.

Today’s been decently productive, writing-wise. I’m hammering out some of the big plot details of my upcoming book in the days before NaNoWriMo, and my characters are growing more vocal again. I’ve also found some really cool stuff. I’m sure you’re all aware of the Occupy movements that are going on around the country. In Boston, they’ve found a pretty awesome way to keep all of the Occupants informed and entertained. Behold, the tent library. This is quite possibly the coolest thing that’s ever happened at any protest, at least from a reader/writer perspective. If only all protests could be this well-served by the public. If only all protests actually made some semblance of sense. Well, we can dream, can’t we?

It’s nearly Halloween, which means a few different things. First, it’s the time of year to start watching one of my favorite movies of all time as I gear up for my favorite holiday. I love Halloween. There’s something incredible about a holiday where perfectly responsible young adults can put on crazy costumes and wander the streets in search of candy. Barring that, there’s always barricading oneself in the house with a good supply of booze and hand out candy to the younger ones. Speaking of booze, I finally got to try Left Hand Brewing Co.’s Milk Stout Nitro. Well done, folks. That one’s a winner.

Second, the impending end of October means that it’s nearly November. It’s time to wrap up a couple of projects before National Novel Writing Month officially kicks off. I’d love to be able to use NaNoWriMo to put a coherent draft of my book together. I’m in the process of collecting my notes. I’ve got a couple of moleskines full of them right now.

Third, it means it’s a perfect time to be reading this:

Hellboy by Mike Mignola. Cover of Volume Ten, The Crooked Man and Others

It's always a good time for Mike Mignola.

I’ve been working my way through the Hellboy comics, finally. It only took me, oh, seven years after seeing the first movie. Now, thanks to the sheer awesomeness that is the public library system, I’m holding the first ten collected volumes of Mike Mignola’s greatest bit of genius. Those of you who have not read them (or at least seen the movies) are missing out. Mignola blends classic myths from around the world with his own, unique characters. The adventures of the members of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense are not to be ignored.

Anyway, I’ve got another job interview and two more applications to turn in, even though the thought of another Christmas in retail terrifies me. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed. I had an interview on Friday at one of the smaller library branches in town, and it would be better pay/more hours than I currently have. Good luck with your ventures, dear readers.

Scratch that. No luck with the Sofa Mart job. Back to the hunt, yet again.

Can I have another weekend, please? I worked through all of the last one. Granted, my entire work week at the library is only 3 days each time, but it makes for a very full weekend, and it becomes a little difficult to get anything else done. Right now, it’s Tuesday morning, and it’s overcast and beautiful here in my little part of the world. The girlfriend is off to college for the day, so I’m editing a story for her that’s going to be her entry in the latest writing challenge. Yesterday was our four-year anniversary, and so I got to spend the entire day with her, while she was between classes. Friday night, after work, I got to go see a student production of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. It was a phenomenal black-box-theatre production, and some of my friends were playing various roles. All in all, it was very enjoyable. I didn’t get a whole lot done, though. I’m trying to regain some of that lost productivity, so I’m going to be doing some writing of my own as well.

There’s good news on the job front. I apparently did so well in my interview at Sofa Mart last week that they want me to schedule a 2nd interview, this time with the regional manager. Things may be looking up, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed anyway. I’m also waiting to hear about a status update on what could very well be my biggest project yet. I finally got a story sent in to Strange Horizons. For anyone unfamiliar with it, it’s a weekly online sci-fi magazine. I sent them a copy of Trans-Planetary Express, and now I’m waiting to hear back from them. If they accept it, it would be my greatest writing achievement to date. When this happens, you’ll be the first to know, dear readers. Well, second. I’ll be first.

It looks like the sun is finally managing to drive off some of the clouds outside. I was hoping I’d get through my coffee first, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. I should enjoy it while it lasts. My favorite season is fast approaching, though, and I have a lot to do before it gets here. I’m looking at you, NaNoWriMo.

There are some days that I wish I lived in another time. I’ve been considering the differences in writer networking now and in the past. Our discussions take place on blogs and social networking websites. Now we have this:

When we used to have this:

And facebook doesn't sell beer...

Some of us miss the old days, even though we never experienced them for ourselves. We’re crazy nostalgic people. Who knows, maybe someday fans of ours will flock to our old hangouts to see where we would sit and talk about our writing projects and listen to some fantastic music.

Music, booze, food, and some awesome upcoming writers.

I’ll keep doing my best to maintain the old ways. There’s something incredible about actually talking with fellow writers and idea people in person. There’s a dynamic that exists in places like this that you can’t find on twitter. I guess I’m a generational hybrid, some kind of living anachronism. I’m okay with this. I’m pretty sure it’s how I was meant to be. Anyway, I’ve killed an hour and a half doing stuff this morning and putting this entry together. It’s time to go do some real writing. Peace!

Tags. Why have I not been using them until now?

Yesterday was pretty much awesome. I rocked both of my job interviews (I think) and should be hearing back from them by the end of the week. The one at Sofa Mart was one of the coolest interviews I’ve ever had. I mean, in a building full of comfy furniture, the manager just picked a couple of couches for us to sit on and chatted about where I came from, what my interests are, etc. None of the boring situational questions like “Tell us about a time when you had to do such and such a thing, and how you reacted to it.” Quite honestly, those kind of questions just irritate me as an interviewee, and I don’t feel that they are nearly as effective as getting to really know a person. I digress. My point is that my interviews both went well. I’m hoping that I can secure new employment (or additional employment, because I would like to still be able to at least sub/volunteer at the library still, I love that job) before the end of the month, because it would make the house/apartment hunt a LOT easier. Knowing where I’ll be working lets me narrow my search to a certain area, and knowing how much I’ll be making lets me know how much I can afford to spend on rent each month. Oh yeah, and in addition to those two interviews, I decided to make the most of being a former Resident Assistant at my college and a former resident of a particular apartment complex. I dropped off a copy of my résumé (I love using the accented “e” when I type that word) at my former home, thinking that, if nothing else, my experience living there would give me a slight advantage in their hunt for a new leasing agent.Productivity: awwww yeah. Today’s goals: Get down to Motor City to pick up my parts for my car, pick up some stuff from the library, and submit a story to Strange Horizons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my time at Borders, the good and the bad. One of my coworkers, and the first person I met at the location where I would eventually work, contacted me recently, asking if I would mind providing a personal reference for him. We chatted briefly about the end of things at our store, and he told me that I missed nothing but sadness and boredom. I’ve recently come across some pictures of other stores that were closing, and I found humor, resentment, and sorrow.

Closing Borders displays empty hangers with the sign "Invisibility Cloaks: 50 Percent Off"

Pottermania persisted until the bitter end.

Pictured here: The humor. Some Borders employees decided that, with nothing else to fill the shelves, they would attempt to make their customers laugh one last time. I know that when I went back to my store the last time, I wouldn’t be going in as an employee. I wasn’t going in as a customer either. I went in to say goodbye to friends, and to a place that, despite being sold out of invisibility cloaks, still held some lingering magic.

Borders employees list things they never told you.

And the transition from hilarity to bitterness begins...Sadly, this list is accurate.

Have you ever wondered if the booksellers are judging you for every question you ask them? 98% of the time, we were. The other 2% of the time we were too busy marveling that you were one of the smart ones, and trying to secretly signal our coworkers that we had someone who actually knew what they were doing in a bookstore.

Last, but certainly not least, is this image down here. Faint of heart, turn back now. This is the sorrow.

"I cannot live without books." And now my heart has been mercilessly removed...

I found this via an article critiquing this marvelous photograph. The composition of it is sheer beauty, the content is heartbreak for people like me. As the critic said, there is nothing quite so telling about this photo as the small “World History” sign on the floor below. Say what you want about big chains and corporations ruining bookstores. The loss of so many places so loved by so many is a genuine tragedy.

I’ll do whatever is within my power to maintain the written word. Yes, I said frequently that I was considering buying an eReader device of my own. Dear customers of mine from Borders, I lied to your faces. I was a salesman. I’m sorry, I truly am, but the lie I told you allowed me to survive. I don’t think that they’re all that bad, but I have no desire to replace my collection with an electronic device. Those of you who wanted one, you might have needed some convincing, and I got bonuses to my paycheck at Christmas for every one of the Kobos I sold to you. I thank you sincerely for providing me with the income I needed to get by. Those of you who didn’t want one? I share your feelings. I said a great many things at Borders when I knew that my managers were listening. I’ll keep my books. I’ll take yours too, if you don’t want them. I’ll construct my library from the cast-off fragments of civilization.

The smell of a book

Now you know the science behind it.

I will happily make this smell my cologne of choice for the rest of my life.  I will devote my life, much as I can, to the preservation of the printed page. “A man will give his life to the turning over of a collection of books.” Gene Wolfe wrote that in Shadow of the Torturer, a novel I need to finish at some point in the future. I would love to be a person like that. Wolfe, in the same scene, wrote that “Of the trail of ink, there is no end.” I’m sure that it may seem to some that books are reaching there end, but it is not this day. Nor will it be tomorrow. I’m going to dedicate as much of my time as I can to ensuring the survival of the book.

Opus, you may be a comic strip penguin, but at least your priorities are right.

I’ll keep my “obsolete pile of pressed tree pulp,” thank you.

This one is another older piece. My apologies to those of you who have read it before. I’m not trying to bore you. I’m working through some of my backlog of stuff that I’ve been meaning to post. It’s called Dealer.

I am a dealer of the most

Dangerous kind, spreading the thing

That they fear above all else.

I lurk around corners, keeping

Watchful eye on this secret stash.

I’m not particular about who comes

To me for it anyway. I’m not in it

For the money. You don’t even have

To pay. As far as I’m concerned,

Everybody needs this shit. Capital

N.E.E.D.S. They just don’t

Always know it yet. They’ll know soon

Enough, though. Eventually everybody

Comes to me. I could bring the

City to its knees. I could do that.

Or I could do one better. People

Always talk and joke about ruling

The world some day, but they

Can’t do it without what I’m pushing.

Damn, I’m good at what I do.

I can hook you up in person,

Over the telephone, man, I even

Do online orders. Just watch me

Work; I’m a wizard with this shit.

I can work wonders. Just watch me.

You know the best part? You wouldn’t

Believe how easy this is to move.

I carry everywhere I go. I

Can use anywhere and everywhere,

And boy, do I. You can too, once you

Get started. It’s easy to get addicted to,

And while it’s never a good thing to

Get hooked on what you’re pushing,

My supply is unlimited. It’ll never

Run out, and it doesn’t cost me a damn thing.

I love what I do. Life is dangerous, and I

Love to live dangerously. Call it an

Occupational hazard. People like me live

Fiercely and die quickly, but not before fulfilling

Our life’s purpose. So here I am, spreading, expanding

My customer base, as it were. That’s why you’re all

Here, right? Good. Word’s getting out. Someday you will

All be standing where I am tonight. Someday you will

Remind everyone around you of the danger of what you

Do, and the power that you wield. Someday, you will

Join me, as I paraphrase a man, a member of a group of seven

Similarly magnificent men when I say “Mister, I deal in words.”

That shouldn’t be a question, when the submission being pondered is a short story for a sci-fi magazine. I’ve been debating what to do with my writing of late, and it seems to me that the most productive thing to do would be to get my name out there. How can this be done? Other than my latest social media addiction, and the upcoming event of the year, I decided that I need to get published.

I’ve already been published, sort of. My senior year at school, I wrote a piece (due to deviantart policies, this one’s tagged with a mature language filter, so non-da members may not be able to see it) in a winterim class that ended up being used in a local publication, Active for Justice. It was just a little mini-newspaper kind of thing, and it included several pieces by my classmates as well. All the same, I’d gotten my name out to more people who hadn’t seen/heard it before. It was a start. I crave more than this.

The question before me now is this: Do I write something completely from scratch, or do I see how they feel about one of my existing (and as cliché-free as possible) microfiction pieces? It’s still open for debate, but I’d definitely love to get something done in advance of the dawn of NaNoWriMo. I am, by the way, registered for this. Be prepared to keep me on my toes when I’ve got my #writing thing going. 😀

Meanwhile, I’m still on the hunt for an actual writing job. Hahahaha. It’s a good thing I’ve still got my sense of humor. I’m trying to get in touch with some local publishers, but I’m not so good at the cold-calling thing. Hell, it took me all day today to gear up to call the Toyota dealer and order parts for my car. I’ll have her back to normal within a week. Stupid parts that there are only one or two of remaining in the country.

Not Pictured: The then-nonexistent drunken handiwork of the idiot who crashed into my parked car.

I’m reading The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr. Normally, I’m not one for non-fiction, but occasionally, something will catch my eye. In this case, the book is part of the All Pikes Peak Reads list for this year. Seeing as I’d already read The Hunger Games, I thought I should attempt to tackle another one of the books on the list. I saw a copy available yesterday, so here I am. It’s intriguing, honestly. The internet has become such a critical part of most of our lives that we can’t go more than a day or two without it. It’s integrated itself into the infrastructure of our country. Information is constantly available to us, and it’s kind of overwhelming. I grew up in a town where we had to use physical card catalogs for a good portion of my early education. I fell deeply in love with physical media, something that remains unchanged. I want to be a librarian, after all. Still, we also had a computer in our preschool. We had at least one in every classroom, K-12. What started as an option for playing games at recess when it would rain quickly became an all-purpose utility. Now I find it hard to go anywhere without taking my laptop, just in case. Carr is attempting to get his readers to realize that, for all its benefits, the internet may be making us stupid. We skim everything, and as Randall Munroe was quick to point out, we fall into the habit of believing anything we read. I’d highly recommend the book to anyone who feels that maybe, just maybe, they’ve come a little disconnected, despite always being jacked in.

And one for the nerds: D&D is going well. My necromancer is off to a great start. She’s already planning which big undead things she wants for minions in the near future. Most notably right now, is this guy.

"Hey guys! I found a puppy!"

That’s a charnel hound. It’s quite possibly my favorite D&D monster ever. It’s a dog. Made from corpses. That occasionally still move/yell for help. Yeah. And then there’s the fact that any time it kills something, it takes that body into itself, and heals damage by doing so. I love this game. I also found this today. I may have to share this list with anyone who has ever considered DMing/GMing a session of any tabletop role playing game. It could save some friendships.

Do you think I vary too much from topic to topic in each post? I dunno. Maybe, but if one 1,000 word post gets out there with everything I need to say, then it means that you’re saved from five separate 200 word posts. You should rejoice. You probably won’t, but you could at least consider it. My point being, that I had some other stuff I thought about saying here right now, but you’re getting off the hook at 800+ words.