Tag Archive: life


New Year, New Chances

There’s a sense of healing, a sense of redemption and a sense of reflection when we arrive at the beginning and the end of a year. It’s almost like reaching the end of a chapter of a book and pausing for a moment to reflect on what we’ve read up until this point before continuing on. What is it exactly that makes us wait until the end of the year to be the most reflective and to start to change and rearrange the way that we live our lives? Why not do it in the middle of the week, the middle of the month or in the middle of spring? Perhaps there’s something about 365 days of trying our best to stick to a new commitment. Perhaps when the ball drops in Times Square we drop our bad habits and hang-ups along with it. Whatever it is, I say journey onward toward the new year, toward the new you.

This year I plan on being a better me. I know that I’m capable of doing so much more in my life if I simply stop being afraid of what may happen and stop being lazy. If current events have taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know when or how we’ll be snatched away from the grip of life. I don’t want to die knowing that I could have made more of an effort to become published, more of an effort to write more, more of an effort to really explore the ideas buzzing in my head throughout the day. How many great stories and great authors have remained in the shadows of obscurity all because they were afraid to put themselves and their work out there or too lazy to truly apply themselves to their writing? I don’t want that to be said about me, and I don’t want to go to bed thinking that I wasted another day.

This year I want to work on having more of my stories published while continuing to blog and build up an audience. I also plan on continuing my search for an agent even though I’m still on the fence about becoming traditionally published. If my agent can’t get me a book deal, then maybe she or he can at least help me start my career through another medium. I would like to write comic book scripts, TV/movie scripts and video game scripts. Maybe the agent who can’t find me a book publisher will be able to find me a TV show to write for.

I’m almost finished with the final chapter of my novel and I’m ready to devote more time to my serial story Dark on the Rock over at JukePop Serials. I’m really excited about where the story is going. To think it originally started out as just an experiment. Hopefully it will help with my exposure and efforts to build a platform.

I think it’s best if I quantify my goals rather than simply state them. That way I’ll have a bullseye to aim for rather than a target. Hitting a target is easy, but hitting the bullseye requires work. (Feel free to use that quote as long as you credit me. 🙂 ) I’m going to have at least six short stories published and send out ten to 15 query letters to agents. The first draft of my novel will be finished by January 15th and I’m going to devote more time to Dark on the Rock. I also want to do more with my freelance writing. It’s always nice to have a job you like, and even better to have a job that you like and that you’re good at doing.

Alright, another 365-day long journey has begun…well less now that it’s the third, but you know what I mean.

What are your writing goals for 2013 and why do you think it is that most people wait until the new year to make major changes in their lives as opposed to starting the next day/week/month?

Taken Over By The Fear

In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d talk about fear and how it can both help us and hinder us.

As writers, there’s plenty for us to be afraid of. We can be rejected by agents, have our work completely shredded by a critique group, make a grave mistake in a novel and not realize it until after it’s been published or we could suffer a horrible accident that leaves us unable to write. No matter how sensible or far-fetched our fears may be, the point is that we’ll have them. But when you push away those looming mountains of fear, the truth is that we’ll always have fear. If you write a great novel that sells well and is well-received, who’s to say that your next novel will be as magnificent? You may be able to scribble out several novels a year, but what happens if no one buys them or likes them? What if what happened to Robert Jordan happens to you and you die before finishing your latest book?

What if? What if? What if?

Fear can cripple us if we allow it. Or we can look at that fear as a motivator to help us become better writers. Afraid of being rejected by agents? Then do your research before you send off that query letter to make sure you’ve written the best novel and best query letter that you can. Just make sure that you don’t let fear keep you from sending it off when you know it’s ready. Afraid your critique group won’t like your submission? Then go through it forwards, backwards and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes your group has mentioned in the past. The same applies to avoiding massive mistakes in your novel.

Don’t try to keep fear out of your head. It’s what makes you human and it’s what makes you cautious. Instead, I think it’s better that we try to find the root of that fear and ask ourselves why we have that particular fear in the first place. It’s easy to get caught up in life, but every now and then it really helps to sit down with yourself and sort out what’s going on in your head. For me, I find that cleaning is when I do my best thinking. When I need to step away or analyze a problem, I like to clean. Either that or I go for a walk. I think it’s the scrubbing away at a sink, dish or bathtub that symbolizes scrubbing away a problem or scrubbing to reveal the truth beneath the grit and grime.

Some of my fears are that I’ll run out of story ideas, that I’ll lose my writing ability/style, that what I write won’t match the ideas that I have in my head, that my writing career won’t go as I’ve planned and that I’ll find that one of my story ideas has already been written (I know this is common concern, but I always strive to be original).  The best that all of us can do is to just forge on and realize that the fear will follow us throughout our lives. Fear, like taxes, is something that occurs no matter who we are or what we do, so we might as well deal with it and move on with our lives. Besides, how different would like be if we didn’t have fear? Would it be better or worse?

Take care out there, and be safe tonight!

What are some of your fears about writing and how do you deal with them?

 

Why I Write What I Write

 

I don’t remember exactly when it was that I fell in love with fiction and fantasy. But I do remember there was an allure in exploring possibilities and impossibilities. Maybe it was growing up in Alabama where nothing ever happened that drove me to immerse myself in worlds where adventure was a part of everyday life, magic occurred as naturally as the wind and traveling in a spaceship was a standard practice. Reality was too bland, too boring for me, and reading was an escape from that. But reading fantasy was like dreaming while still awake. I guess fantasy and sci-fi were my Inception.

I’ve always had a vivid imagination and I’ve always been a daydreamer. I think you’d probably have to visit me in a psychiatric ward if it weren’t for a creative outlet like writing. And maybe that’s all that writers, artists, poets and other creative types are, functioning psychotics. Rather than allowing our insanity to consume us and drive us insane, we channel it and work with it to creative something…more, something beyond what we see and experience in everyday life.

I know that the world we live in holds much splendor and wonder, but sometimes all of that magnificence needs to be magnified times a thousand. I don’t want to travel in an airplane, I want to lift my arms and fly under my own will. I don’t want to simply travel to different states and nations, I want to travel to different dimensions. I want to live in the worlds I see in games like Final Fantasy, see what it would be like to have actual superpowers and have a vampire for a roommate.

For a while now I’ve been on a superhero kick. There’s just something about exploring the idea of how having superpowers changes who you are, either in a small way or a big way. Would the world be a better place if Captain America really existed? How different would the world be if it had a Captain Japan or a Captain Africa? What if the Avengers were villains instead of heroes? What if there was one person with the power to solve all of the world’s problems but they decided not to? I hope to write comic book scripts as well as novels someday, and maybe even a video game script or two. Even though I’m not up to date on the latest happenings in the comic book/graphic novel world, I’ll always be a proud comic book nerd.

When it comes to fantasy, I’m enamored with the idea of creating a new world, new rules, new races, new technology and new ideas. I believe that fantasy and sci-fi are the purest forms of creation. The genres force authors to dig deep, unravel thoughts and ideas that they’ve had since they were old enough to comprehend in order to make manifest a new universe where those thoughts and ideas don’t mean a thing. I have one idea for a fantasy story that’s been in my head for years. I dabble with it every now and then, and I’m just now starting to feel “old” enough to make an honest effort of writing it. If I do, I think I’ll have to pull  a George R.R. Martin and spend a few years on it.

As much as I love brazen, in-your-face fantasy and fiction, I also love the subtle nuances of a fiction or thriller. These are the kinds of stories that can keep me up at night wondering if the events and characters pressed between the pages of a book could actually exist. Movies like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy make us believe that there could be a real life Bruce Wayne out there somewhere. While  characters like the Joker and Bane may not exist, the characteristics of those characters most certainly do. That is the type of fiction that I hold closest to my heart, the kind that really makes you sit down and examine your life, the world you live in and how you fit in it.

Fiction, sometimes it’s closer to the truth than reality itself.

Take care out there.

What are some of your favorite genres and why? 

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my serial DARK ON THE ROCK on JukePop Serials! Vote for it if you like it, and be sure to check back this Friday for Episode Three.

Devil’s Webground

 

I haven’t been feeding my child of creativity lately because my child of responsibility has been crying loudly, endlessly. As I was discussing with Diem Burden on Twitter, I hate it how life gets in the way of writing. And that’s especially true when you feel that writing is your life. Writers are also friends, fathers, employees, bosses, businesspeople, advertising agents and tax payers. While we would like nothing more than to put up a force field to block all of that out and simply write, we simply can’t.

I hate that I have to neglect my work-in-progress for my job, but I also hate having a zero balance in my bank account. And that’s what it’s all about really, balance. Sometimes that balance is a daily thing, sometimes weekly and sometimes monthly. While I would really like to work on something creative every day, I realize that sometimes I have to put aside the writing that makes me happy for the writing that makes me money. My novel isn’t making me any money yet, but my freelance writing is, and that’s something that I have to live with whether I like it or not. Sure I could say the hell with making money, but I like having a place to stay, food to eat and new books to read. In order to have all of that, I have to be bringing in money. While I have faith that I will make a luxurious living as a published author, I realize the hard truth that it may take a while for that to happen. In the meantime, I still have bills to pay.

Something else that I feel I’ve been investing too much time in, unnecessarily this time, is the Internet. I know that this is something that all writers deal with. These days it’s important to have an online presence in order to build up your platform and audience. But spending time online is a piece of the puzzle we have to fit in with the other pieces juuust right. Twitter, Facebook, blogging and all of the other social media gems are no doubt valuable, but they have to be done in moderation. After all, you won’t have anything to promote on all of those platforms if you don’t set aside the time to write. Just as you won’t have anywhere to sit down and write if you get evicted from your apartment for not paying the rent…ok, so you can go to a coffeeshop to write, but you won’t have money to buy coffee!

I guess what it all comes down to is prioritizing. Even if I don’t work on my novel every day, I can still write down ideas and at least outline a scene or chapter. Even if I don’t have something insightful to say on Twitter every hour, there are plenty of people who do and I can share their information, information that could inspire a blog post.

Writers are so busy moving, thinking, churning and reading that we forget to be…still…and…just…be. Just because you aren’t moving doesn’t mean that you aren’t going anywhere. Simply because you can’t feel the Earth move doesn’t mean that we all aren’t hurling across space. There’s no shame in having priorities, but there is shame in having skewed priorities and warped perceptions.

Take care out there.

Origin Story

I guess now is a good time to expose my roots and tell you how I discovered that I wanted to be a writer.

I’d first have to thank my Aunt Ann. Without her love for reading, I don’t think mine would’ve been so strong. I remember sitting with her at my grandma’s house reading a book. That little seed would only grow and flourish as the years went on and I started to grow up. I mostly read fantasy novels, anything that was imaginative and took me away from the “real world.”

When I was…about 14 or 15, I decided that I wanted to be a photojournalist. I think it was a combination of watching Spider-Man and The Secret World of Alex Mack (anyone remember that show?). I never actually went out and bought a fancy camera, but I do remember taking lots of pictures for a short period of time. Then somehow I stumbled on fan fiction! For the uninitiated, fan fiction is where you write your own stories for TV shows, adding your own twist to them. It was like being pushed into an ocean with no idea of how to swim. But I was more intrigued than anything else. I had discovered an underground dimension, a galaxy of parallel universes.

So I started writing fan fiction. My first was a Power Rangers fan fiction. Yep, Power Rangers. I was a HUGE fan when I was young. So I guess I have them to thank too for helping me discover my passion for writing. While attempting to come up with ideas for my storyline, I was still under the impression that I wanted to be a photojournalist, even though ideas for original stories were constantly pouring into my head.

I remember one story was about a group of teenagers who were mystical ninjas with elemental based powers who had to travel to a different dimension and battle their evil twins. Another was about two sorceresses, a vampire/werewolf hybrid and a seer who were part of an evil group called The Deranteke who were attempting to bring back their dark lord…all while staving off the attempts of other baddies who wanted to curry favor with said dark lord. Sounds like bestselling material, eh?

This is where I began my dalliance with exploring the “bad guys.”

I believe I finally decided I wanted to become a writer when I started writing the Bo Quintin series. Bo was a feral (a werewolf who doesn’t transform) and bounty hunter who received his assignments from an unknown divine source. I remember how much enjoyment it brought me to sit at the keyboard fleshing out this supernatural world and coming up with ideas. I even had a playlist for when I was writing fight scenes, and to this day writing a good fight scene is one of my absolute favorite things to do when writing. I was writing the Bo Quintin series when Angel and Buffy were on, and I was most definitely influenced by the Whedon world. I even had a spin-off series for one of my characters much like Angel was a spin-off of Buffy.

This is also where I developed the habit of jumping from project to project and starting things and not finishing them.

Next I visited my good friend Noel  in Kansas where I saw the movie Sin City.

This is where I was introduced to my good friend noir.

I was immediately held in thrall by this film. The colors, the music, the dialogue, the lighting, the story. It felt like a dark angel had descended from the corners of heaven, kissed me on the lips, blew out my soul like a jittering old car engine and gave me wings of my own. I remember going back to her apartment after the movie and starting my own noir story, one about an assassin and a vigilante named Vigil and Whisper. They were both gay and lived in a world where there were no women, save one, and they only operated at night. “Sons of Entropy”, as I called it, was some of my absolute finest work up until that point. I had cowboys, clones, a femme fatal, swords, strippers, courtesans, a gritty romance, drugs and the classic twisted noir ending.

I think I need to pull that story out and take a look at it. Who knows, could get it published after I polish it!

After “Sons of Entropy” came “SanGuine” and various other short stories, some of which I tried to get published and received my first rejection letters. I’m not sure when I got the idea for my first novel, “Fury Us,” but I do remember that it was originally ” X-Treme Quarantine.” I started writing it when I realized that there was much more to the story, and that I had to go back before writing about the XQtioners.

Presently, I’ve written an ish-ton of short stories, some finished, some not, one novel, some scripts, several poems and I’ve got about three chapters to finish on my second novel. I’ve come a long way, and I know that I have even further to go. I’m glad that I decided to share this, even the part about writing Power Ranger fan fiction, which I was apprehensive about. I guess you never know where “that moment” will come from. It’s always nice to go back and retrieve wisdom, passion and smiles that you’ve experienced on a personal journey.

Now, back to working on my latest short story!

Take care out there.

The Spark

I suppose now is a good of a time as any for me to rebirth my blog.

I’ve lived in Denver for three years now, and in that three years I’ve learned a lot about who I am, who I want to be and who I’m not. Today I’ve learned something else.

I’ve learned how to be afraid.

Last night I read that 20 people had been injured in a movie theater in a town not far from where I live. This morning I learned that 12 people had been killed and many more had been injured. It felt like something you would see in a movie or read in a book. I couldn’t help but associate the feeling with one of going to sleep in one reality and waking up in another.

Where does it come from? This need to cause chaos. Was the gunman wanting an escape from his life, his reality? Did he find solace and comfort in thinking  (not pretending, but thinking) that he was a character from the Batman universe? I perfectly understand the desire to want to be in a world of the fantastic, where ordinary humans don a cape, cowl and utility belt and become a guardian, a symbol, an icon. One of the ways I realized I wanted to be a writer was my active imagination and my natural curiosity.

Again, I ask, where does it come from?

My need to write comes from a need to understand the world I live in and the thoughts I have in my head. My need to write fantasy and fiction is an effort to keep a grip on my sanity. If I don’t get it out, I might go insane. Writing is therapeutic for me and creativity if my drug of choice. I do like to explore the mind of the villain, but does that make me a villain myself in a roundabout way?  Do I write in an effort to garner attention, to cement myself and my work in a history that will live on long after my bones have cracked and decayed? Does a villain not do the same? The shooter will live on long after he’s died, much like an author, painter or actor.

When something like this happens, we can’t help but wonder when our day will come, what we’ll be doing and who we’ll be with when we leave this earth. Dwelling on the unknown is like stopping on a treadmill, the world keeps flashing by and eventually you’ll stumble if you don’t get your feet moving.

I apologize for the dour post, but I just wanted to get this out. This is my healthy way of coping, a way that I wish the gunman had learned. The world we live in can be unforgiving and bleak, but there is goodness to be found, bountiful goodness. I use this tragedy as a catalyst to live my life to the fullest and stop being afraid of rejection, of setbacks, of bad news. It’s gonna come, and it’s gonna come heavier if I allow my creative muscles to atrophy.

Keep writing, keep living, keep going. 

Now I feel the need to listen to some uplifting music. What are some of your go-to songs when you’re feeling low?