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?

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Eighty Nine Book Trailer Released

Woke up to wonderful news on the Eighty-Nine group page on Facebook this morning. Devin Watson posted the completed live-action book trailer for eMergent Publishing’s anthology “Eighty Nine,” a collection of speculative fiction stories based on events in the year 1989. My story “Nowhere Land” is published in the book.

Eighty Nine can be purchased on Amazon and is available for Kindle, too!

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!

From the Idea Mill: How “Tin Machine” became “Nowhere Land”

Writing is a love affair.

This is a topic for one of my “Shit people say when they find out I’m a writer…” posts. It will be on the blog at some point, since I’ve already done the status update on Facebook.

It revolves around that age-old question writers inevitably get asked by well-meaning, hopefully happy readers and fans:

“Where do you get your ideas from?”

Writers hate this question. This is the Dreaded Question, and the one inquiry we get to which there is no real easy response. Truth is, we don’t often know where the ideas come from.

The creative process is just that: a process, and it’s different from one person to the next. I can’t speak for my peers as to the magic spring where their creative waters flow.

I can tell you how it is with me, though.

My muse and I are in crazy love.

Oftentimes, muse puts random images in my brain…strange stories that just beg to be told…and so I tell them. Other times he plants an idea I don’t like (such as a recently published all dialogue story) and keeps after me, turning the idea this way and that in my mind, until I’m so in love with it that I have no choice but to write it. He’s relentless, my muse.

Sometimes he sends me a message so loud and clear I get it right away. I understand what he’s inspiring me to do. Those are scary and wonderful times for my muse and I.

When the playlist for the anthology Eighty Nine was announced, I scoured through the song list, debating with my inner (muse) about which one would make a kick ass speculative fiction story. Which one was my song?

Out of the list, there were only two or three songs that I did not recognize. And wouldn’t you just know it…the muse kept drawing my eyes to one of them. I’d never even heard the damn thing before. So naturally I Googled the lyrics.

It was my song.

The idea for the story was  in my head as soon as I read the lyrics.

Of course, being the ultimate Doctor Who fan since age ten, and a fan of weird shit always, I knew I had to write a story about a “Tin Machine.”

I knew immediately that the Tin Machine, which I ended up calling “The Bullet” was both a gateway and a trap. I knew it was a place, not for bad people, but for courageous people. People brave enough to stand up to the injustices of the world and thus earn themselves a one-way ticket to Nowhere Land.

I’ve always liked the idea of a prison located in an alternative dimension. The zombies (or mutants) come from watching too much television. Maybe they’re bigger, dumber, more genetically fucked-up versions of Daleks (sans metal traveling machines, of course). Maybe they’re the gov’s top secret mission to create a super warrior ala The X-Files. Zombies were in the song, so the mutants became my mindless killing machines. Genetic engineering gone wrong.

Of course, knowing I wanted the song was not enough. It had to be chosen for me by Jodi Cleghorn. She put song titles in one hat and authors in another. We were going to have our song selected for us.

I kidded myself that I could still write my Big-Tin-Bullet-Gateway-to-Alternate-Prison-Dimension story without the song prompt Tin Machine, by David Bowie. Of course, I could.

But I really couldn’t.

As luck would have it (or maybe not…Jodi, tell me, did you by chance catch a whiff of something like cinnamon and after shave when you were pulling songs/names from the hats?) my name was pulled and Tin Machine was pulled as my song.

Luck. Yeah. Totally buying that.

Thank you, Muse.

Eighty Nine, by Literary Mix Tapes

The anthology Eighty Nine launched yesterday and all the stories are available to read on the website for a limited time. 

Chart Rush & Launch of “Eighty Nine”

"Eighty Nine" Release Launch 10/25/11

First off, my humble apologies if none of this makes sense. I have not been getting enough sleep lately, so I just hope I can manage to get this information across in a somewhat coherent manner.

Eighty Nine, the latest anthology of crowd-sourced speculative fiction from Literary Mix Tapes will be released into the Amazon wilds October 25th, 2011.

Which means there’s going to be all kinds of fun things going on.

Over on the Facebook page for the launch and on Literary Mix Tape’s Twitter account (@LiteraryMixTape), they’re posting trivia questions from 1989 to get ready.

If I’ve invited you on Facebook to the launch, you should accept. It’s all online, there’s nowhere you physically have to go. You don’t even need to check into the page, although there’s going to be lots of cool, awesome things happening on there. Accepting the invite puts you in a drawing to win a FREE copy of the book. Yes. Free. Totally. Sweet, eh?

The stories will be going live on the website starting at 9 am AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time). My story “Nowhere Land” will go live at 12 pm AEST…which I’ve worked out to 10 pm October 24th (tonight). If I worked that out correctly. I kind of suck at math stuff. So, if you’re a math genius and you know I got that wrong, please let me know so I can fix it. Gracias!

The website at Literary Mix Tapes has more information on the book and the launch.

And, oh yeah, I’ll post it tomorrow for real, but here is a shot of me in my supershort new Annie Lennox-type do holding my newly arrived contributor’s copy of Eighty Nine. Peace.

Me, Amiga & Annie. My copy of Eighty Nine. WOOT!

Eighty Nine Release Scheduled & Let’s Talk

What happens when you take a playlist of 26 songs from the year 1989, put them in a hat, shake them up, draw them out one-by-one and match them with an author, then tell that author to write a speculative fiction story about the year that was ’89 and use the song as a prompt?

The answer is Eighty Nine, the latest anthology edited by the ultra-talented Jodi Cleghorn of Literary Mix-Tapes and eMergent Publishing.

I’m thrilled that my story, Nowhere Land, based on David Bowie’s song Tin Machine, is in this book. I’m extremely proud of this story, and I’m even more proud of the work my co-contributors put into this book. Each story is a unique and wonderful treat to read.

The official release date for the book is October 25th. There will be a launch on Facebook for the book, so look for updates from me on there or on Twitter soon about that. I will blog it, if school work allows. Here is a link to Literary Mixtape’s site where you can pre-order the book and read a sample. 

I have another story coming out in an anthology soon, possibly this month. It’s another story I’m very proud of, and I wrote it around the same time as Nowhere Land. The anthology is the third collection from members of the Florida Writers Association. It’s titled Let’s Talk and it’s a compilation of stories written entirely in dialogue. I’m pleased that my fantasy story The King and His Twenty-Three Subjects will be in there. It’s recognition from my local peers and it’s a damn fine story. I’ll keep you posted on that one, too.

I’ve also done the incredibly crazy and ambitious thing of starting an e-zine. The Were-Traveler started as an idea for a story about a werewolf on a Gen Ship. Whenever the ship enters a lunar system, he turns and things get, well, a bloody mess. The story idea hasn’t panned out yet, but I used the title for the name of the blog. Take a look at it and send me some submissions, why don’t you?