About Time…and the lack thereof…

cropped-blue-keyboard-lrg.jpgIt’s been a good long while since I’ve written a blog post. I wanted to maintain regular posts after graduation from SPC, but then life started throwing me lemons and rather than make lemonade, I decided to become even more gloomy and depressed than I had been already. I lost my air conditioning during the hottest part of the summer in my little mobile home. I began my first semester at the University of South Florida by taking two long bus-rides to the St. Petersburg campus and then home again, leaving in the morning to get to an early afternoon class and night when I arrived back home—me being too tired to do much of anything. My old Macbook died before I could transfer over files and documents from it, so I lost a lot of writing I’d done. I managed to have most of my “Quellseek” novel on flash drive, so a major crisis was diverted there. All-in-all, when I should have been celebrating after getting my AA degree, crap started hitting the fan as they say, and I didn’t enjoy either the summer I had off, nor the thrill of starting a new university. School has also been a challenge. I’m either reading or writing (academic papers). I haven’t written a poem or a creative piece, or a blog post—not counting the editorials I do for the issues of The Were-Traveler—in a long time now.

Sorry to contradict you, Stones, but Time has not been On My Side lately.

I put some of my saved cash aside and managed to get into a nice little apartment three blocks from both campus and the local grocery chain store. I have my own little den, where I study and do my academic writing. I got rid of the car that was costing me too much time and money, and moved to walker’s paradise of Downtown St. Petersburg. I’m already losing weight from all the walking I’m doing.

School is still an enormous pressure, but I already feel better…less depressed and more energized and focused.

Even better news is that the Muse has been visiting me with ideas again. I’ve started no new stories or worked on any older stuff (rescued from the flash drive) as yet, but I feel confident that I will soon. I’ve downloaded some images to start doing writing prompts on this blog again, and I will post one very soon.  Also, there may be another cause for celebration here very soon, but I can’t spill the beans on that yet…not until it’s official. I anticipate that news to come within the next week or two.

While the struggle to manage what little time I have for my own pursuits continues, I have been setting new goals with plans for life and writing. They are:

  1. To continue working on “Quellseek: Army of Empaths.” I was lucky that I only lost one chapter when my old computer died. And I remember much about the chapter I lost, so rewriting shouldn’t be too hard. But, I need to DO IT!
  2. Two ideas involving the future of animal intelligence have shaped themselves (sort of) into story plots. One will be called Eros and Mathilda and will focus on two couples: one human, the other chimpanzee. The primate cousins have had their intelligence raised, at a cost. NOTE: this is not Planet of the Apes type story. The other story also involves a primate, but it’s not the focus of the story. This story, untitled as yet, is a futuristic carnival in which the animals are more intelligent than the humans. The primate in question, for example, is a 2nd half of a hurdy-gurdy duo who has just joined an animal performers union. Yeah, it will be just a little bizarre.
  3. Poetry. In one of my upcoming terms, I hope to take a poetry writing class. I would like to improve my skills in writing poetry.
  4. Get my literary short story, Parker’s Pygmalion, up on Smashwords or Amazon. Somewhere. Anywhere.
  5. I need to submit some stuff. Somewhere. Anywhere. I’ve focused the last year on publishing and editing The Were-Traveler. I need to spend the coming year getting my own work back out in the markets. In order to do that, I need to…
  6. Write. WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! Then write some more.
  7. Get through my first term at USF. Survive. After term, go to Sake Bomb and have a sake or two. Or three.

I have other goals, pertaining to my new apartment and new life in the downtown. The ones above are what I need to work on to get the creative juices flowing again.

Look for more posts soon. I will try to avoid long disappearing acts. I promise, I will try.

 

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Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

megrad2

Graduation from SPC on May 4, 2013

I have not made a post in quite some time. I apologize. When you’re a college student/author/publisher/editor/part-time employee it’s hard to find time to blog.  I am enjoying a nice summer break, though, so I hope to be able to catch up on my posts.

First, let me catch you up on the recent past. After a grueling spring term, I graduated from St. Petersburg College with my Associates of Arts degree on May 4th. It may not seem like a very significant accomplishment to some folks, but it means the world to me. I am an older student (47…not afraid to say it) who was told in high school by a guidance counselor not to waste my time with college. I wish he could have been there as I not only proved that it wasn’t a waste, I did so by graduating summa cum laude with a 3.95 G.P.A. and by being a finalist for one of SPC’s most prestigious academic honors, the Apollo Award. I didn’t win, and that doesn’t matter. Just to be considered for it is a huge accomplishment that will no doubt have a lasting effect on my life.

Ahead lies my goal for a BA in English Literature. I’ve chosen to remain in this area and transfer to the University of South Florida—St. Petersburg campus. I’m not quite ready to move out of Tampa Bay or Florida yet. The St. Pete campus of USF is gorgeous. It sits right on Tampa Bay with lovely water views from nearly every building. I’m looking forward to starting my classes in the fall…one of which includes a literature class on the occult. Hell yes!

Now for the present and future of other aspects of my life.

This summer while I am off I have many goals. Here are a few.

  • Employment. I lost my student job at SPC, so I’ve been working on updating the resume and creating a portfolio. I hope to use it to land my next job.
  • Writing. I have lots of writing goals for this summer.
    • More Blog Posts. That’s a priority. Need to get back into writing more frequent updates and doing the writing prompts again.
    • Parker’s Pygmalion. I’ve decided to upload my Phi Theta Kappa award-winning short story to Smashwords as a free e-book. I have to start doing this indie thing soon anyway, and this is a good story to start with. If it works out, I will likely add it to Kindle on Amazon as well.
    • Kill the Crow. I’ve begun putting the stories into one document. I still need to finish writing and editing a few of the tales for the book, and get it formatted for publishing. Once  that’s done, I will upload it to Amazon…maybe Smashwords again, too.
    • Quellseek: Army of Empaths. I have people who will murder me if I don’t finish this novel,  so I’m working on it. The biggest problem I’m encountering is that the plot bunnies have tortured me with another great idea, one which I’ve started the research on already.
    • The Dragon Siblings. See above. I’ve got Phandara and T’kanyae (a.k.a. Kane Anthony) Morphyrades story starting in my head and I’ve begun a research project on it involving (fictional and real) sorcery and alchemy.  I don’t even have a title for this yet and have no clue about the scope of it, because Quellseek and that series MUST come first. The tale of Rafael Errick, Emory Atarem, Marta Sanis, Alverin Ness, and Wellynd Niles/Well-and-Truly must be brought to a close and that could take 2-3 years to tell it all. The Dragons will happen at some point, though. They’ve sort of already happened in some pre-cursor/same multiverse short stories.
  • Publishing and Editing. 
    • The Were-Traveler. Yes, I also edit and publish a speculative fiction magazine. It’s a rewarding venture I dove into like a madwoman and for the moment I’m enjoying it. Not quite ready to give it up yet. I recently posted the descriptions for up-and-coming issue themes. I’m looking forward to some of the upcoming themes. I may have to pen something myself for the Lovecraft/Poe issue. So tempting.

Life is going to be a challenge for me once school starts again in August. I have decided to attend USF full-time, which means I will have even less time for the other parts of my life than I do now.

Going to do as much this summer as possible…got to get it while the gettin’s good.

September: Down the Home Stretch

It’s September.

It’s that time when leaves begin to change color from green into vibrant oranges and reds (if, unlike me, you live somewhere where they do that).

It’s also a time for recollection. What have I accomplished the past eight months? How do I move down the home stretch for the remainder of the year?

Accomplishments:

Although writing has been slow during the past eight months, I’ve still been active. I had a story win some awards. Shiny New Pants, which won 1st place at Phi Theta Kappa’s Florida Regional Conference and took 2nd place in the Carolyn Parker English Awards (sponsored by of St. Petersburg College/Gibbs Campus) was recently published by the college’s online arts magazine Ember Skies. You can read it here.

The anthology Eighty Nine published by Literary Mixtapes received a wonderful review from a reader. The reviewer ranked my story Nowhere Land among her top favorites in the book. There’s no words for how great it makes a writer feel to have their work loved by a reader. It’s just….WOW! This is the second person this week to compliment a story of mine, and it’s giving me incentive to get my butt back to writing something…anything!

I have two stories coming to print soon: The Best of #FridayFlash, Volume 2, will be reprinting my science-fiction The ABCs of the Apocalypse, and I have a horror tale titled The Apprentice’s Mother appearing in the anthology Sunday Snaps coming out in October. 

On the academic front, I was nominated by my school for awards: Coca Cola All-Community College Academic and All-Florida Academic Teams. I got a pretty medal in Orlando for All-Florida, and it has led to me being recruited by some of the top schools in the nation. In addition to the Carolyn Parker English Award mentioned above, I also received the Steve Meier award and scholarship from the PTK chapter at my campus (ETA WHO? ETA NU!!) for my involvement and contribution to our Honors in Action project: Science Fiction as a Record of Culture and History. I was thrilled to to be the first recipient of this award, named in honor of our recently retired advisor.

If I have been thin on the writing front, I’ve made up for in editing/publishing. My online speculative fiction e-zine The Were-Traveler is still kicking and was recently added as a legit market on Duotropes. I’ve even had an author come forward and suggest an article for the next issue, which I love! Please, by all means, if you have an idea for something that may lie just a little outside the current theme, let me know. I may like the idea and say “Go for it!” as I have in this case.

Down the Stretch:

The editors of Ember Skies have asked me to write some articles for the college’s online newspaper, The Sandbox. I’m thrilled to be asked and I’m hoping to write a book review and/or some articles for them before the end of the year.

I’m planning to write and submit a short story to Phi Theta Kappa’s literary journal Nota Bene. That would be a nice feather in my collegiate writing cap.

I’m planning another project with my PTK teammates for Honors in Action, and I’m also chairperson this year for Native American Week on our campus so I’m going to be very busy planning events for that.

The Class of 2012 community college graduates will be getting their Associates degrees on December 15th. I will be one of them.

I would like to get some formatting work done on my own anthology, a collection of my short stories titled Kill the Crow. I’ve been working on the cover art and trying to get some of the last of the new stories finished. I hope to start formatting it by the end of the year, at least for the Smashwords market.

Whew! All this and trying to remain a geeky college student. It’s going to be a challenge. Think I can do it?

Lucky Seven Meme Post

I was tagged on Facebook by Janet Lingel Aldrich for the Lucky Seven post. Here are the rules of the meme, according to Janet’s post:

1. Go to page 77 in your current manuscript
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next seven lines as they are – no cheating
4. Tag 7 other authors (Done on Facebook) (UPDATE: Tried to do on Facebook but they blocked me and wouldn’t let me post it. Sigh.) Anyway, I pick Jim Bronyaur, Donald Conrad, John Wiswell, Tomara Armstrong, Rebecca Besser, Rebecca Dobbie and Daniel Ritter (aka Reginald Golding). Will tweet you all the meme-goodness! Participation not required, but what the hell, eh?

My contribution is from my 2010 NaNoWriMo (a winner at 50k words, but not yet finished) The Mages of Morrow:

“Aye,” Ragan agreed. “We can try it. I’d like to see if it works, too. I’ve seen plenty of those old photon objects, like my knife…but I ‘aint never seen one that works. No one would mess with you if you had a weapon like that. Of course, a good blast on the highest setting would take care of our obstinate dragon, too.”

Tom grinned. “Ragan…if you power up this machine and it charges my photon packs, I’ll stick around…for a few days at least…to see if that dragon turns up. Then we’ll show it what for!”

2012: The Year of the Dragon, or, The Year I Plan to Breathe Fire

Chinese astrology is fascinating.

I was born in the Year of the Snake, 1965. (Always knew I belonged in Slytherin. Heh.) But I was conceived in 1964, which was the Year of the Dragon. This is probably why I love dragons.

Dragon-years are good years for me, and this one will be no exception.

During the fall of 2012, the first leg of my journey toward becoming a college professor will be complete. I will graduate community college with an Associate of Arts degree and move on. Where to? Likely I’ll transfer to the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, although I’m getting some nice emails (and even gift baskets with chocolate!) from other schools.

I’m going to focus more on writing fiction in 2012. 2011 was my toughest academic year thus far, and I was pressed to make it through this fall with only a slight dent in my GPA. I wrote lots and lots of school-related stuff, but nothing I could submit for fiction publication. That will change.

Writing goals:

  • I have a few stories to finish for the horror and sci-fi/fantasy collections.
    • When We Were Kings, fantasy, origins story. I can’t say any more without spoilers, but I LOVE this one!
    • Kill the Crow, horror. Revenge is black and feathered!
    • Eyes in the Dark, horror.
    • Lighthouse Man, science fiction
    • And a few others
  • Novella, novel: I’ve been planning a harpy novel, but the Muse won’t leave me alone about the “Journey of the Misbegotten.” Imagine an alternate world, with an alternate Hell. Imagine the devil as a mad scientist named Howard and his minions are his genetically tampered amalgamations. When Howard the Evil Creator’s greatest possession (the nine oracular pigeons) go missing, he sends a crack team of his sorriest amalgamations on a quest to track them down.
  • I’ll be writing another Literary Mix Tape story, I hope. About the song Hotel California.
  • Harpy novel. Hope I can get it started this year. Thanks to Laura Meyer for helping me think through my MC’s name: Mallory.
  • Keep working on “The Mages of Morrow” novel. Really, I’ve written over 50,000 words on the thing. I’d like to see it go somewhere!
  • BLOGGING! Going to do more of it. Still going to do prompts and such, but I want to start putting up more regular posts…regularly.

Several good things are planned for 2012. Some of them even include dragons. 😉

2011: The Year of the Roller Coaster

Image courtesy of Fotolia

2011 was a year with more ups and downs than a roller coaster for me, and I know I’m not alone in feeling that way. The job hunt was not going well, I got way behind on a lot of bills, got broke, and ate a crap-load of Raman noodles. All while waiting for student aid to come in. I finally got a student job at the college right when Fall Term started. YAY. It’s part-time and does not pay much, but it’s something. And I’m learning a great deal about the administration side of how a college works, information I’m sure will be useful when I finally get to be a professor.

As for writing, 2011 saw my first paid short story, “Nowhere Land” from Literary Mix Tapes “Eighty Nine” anthology. This was one of my best stories to date. Another of my best, also appeared in a 2011 anthology: “The King and His Twenty-Three Subjects,” a fantasy story appeared in the Florida Writer’s Association all-dialogue anthology “Let’s Talk.” I also wrote my first collaborative story, an apocalyptic short story titled “The Blight” told completely through emails with my friend zombie-master Jim Bronyaur. Speaking of zombies, I published a story in the Zombie Survival Crew’s anthology “Undead is Not An Option” about four foul-mouthed teenagers whose zombie role-playing game “Crunch Time” suddenly becomes a real struggle for survival against the undead horde. I started the year publishing a science fiction story that I also posted as Friday Flash and submitted to their Best of Friday Flash Volume 2, and hope to hear about that soon. Literary Mix Tapes also gave me a great writing start to 2011 by publishing my story “Sophie Solitaire: Confessions of an End-Time Girl” in the “Nothing But Flowers” collection.

I started an e-mag, The Were-Traveler this year. The first issue was released on Halloween. I’m looking forward to continuing it.

I taught my first class…a lecture for PINAWOR on the benefits of social media for writers. They were very social media shy writers, so I’m not sure I made much headway with them. But I learned what I ought to do and ought not to do the next time I make a presentation.

I fell short in some areas of my writing:

  • I wanted to have my first e-book collection released by the end of the year. Stuff came up. Mostly school work.
  • I did not blog as much as I wanted to, even though I got an award for Versatile Blogger. *smh*
  • I did not complete my novel that I started during NaNoWrimo 2010. I worked on it a little. Added a few words here and there.
  • I left a few stories hanging on the back-burner that really need to get finished as they are going in the collection.

All in all, an okay year.

But okay is not good enough. I want to be better than okay.

And for that, you’ll have to read my upcoming post about how I plan to set 2012 on fire!

It’s been awhile…

Just realized I’ve been very lazy in the blog posts department.

Sorry. Life’s been kind of challenging, as it can get sometimes. I’ve been suffering from the kind of exhaustion that only copious amounts of coffee seems to cure. Thyroid medication has been increased, so there is hope for an improvement in this area soon. Plus, I’m eating better and exercising more…and that should help to raise my energy levels, too.

There’s been a lot going on.

I’m working on two (well…really, three) projects right now. I can let you know about two of them at this point anyway.

Project Numero Uno is my literary short story for my Creative Writing class. It’s called (tentatively) “Drowning in Shallow Water” and it takes place in Tampa Bay, Florida, where I live. The story centers around Dalton Shay, a poet/writer coming to terms with his addiction to smoking heroin. Dalton’s character is actually loosely based on a person I used to know.

Project Numero Dos is a short story that was sitting on my back-burner for awhile called “Nightjar.” Some writers insist that their back-burner stories are dead and they can never revive them. I don’t find this to be the case with me. At least I’ve been able to go back and complete a couple of back-burner stories.

Nightjar” revolves around a shapeshifting sorceress seeking revenge on the magic-hating, off-world invaders that executed her husband. I started it, then put it aside when I got stuck in a place with no clear idea on how to move forward with the plot. A few nights ago I went to bed, and as I normally do when I lay down to sleep, I let my mind wander…and lo and behold, the way forward was revealed to me. My muse likes to get me in bed sometimes. 😉 So, I’m interested to know: Do you have back-burner stories? Do you ever complete them?

Publications: My story, “The ABC’s of the Apocalypse” has been released in the anthology “Cosmic Catastrophes” by Static Movement. Currently, I’m looking to either submit it again somewhere or find a way to bring it to audio and perhaps also post it as a Friday Flash. It is one of the best stories I’ve written so far.

Aoife’s Kiss magazine (through Sam’s Dot Publishing) has published my science-fiction poem “Before I Was Numb” and they used it to advertise their March issue. I describe it as “android angst that rhymes.” This poem is my first-ever sale. I will receive $5 and a contributors copy of the magazine.

Soon to be published is my short story “Crunch Time.” It will be published in Zombie Survival Crew’s “Undead Is Not An Option” zombie anthology. I’m very proud of that story, too, although it is probably the most profanity-laden tale I’ve ever penned.

It’s Spring Break this week and I’m trying to catch up on some writing projects that I know will probably get put aside once school starts again. I hope to find enough free time here and there to say “Hi” to my friends on Twitter and Facebook and update this little blog a couple times.

You can also keep up with what’s going on in my writer world by visiting my Facebook Author’s page and clicking “Like.” I’m going to be having some give-aways and contests in the future and you don’t want to miss out! Click here: Maria’s Evil Facebook Empire.