Looking Behind and Looking Ahead

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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.

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NaNoReMo Opening Lines

grahamewindwillowsI am reading two books again for National Novel Reading Month again.

The reason I’m reading two is because if one goes sour on me, I have a back-up…if not, I will have read two wonderful, classic books in February.

I also like to at least have a book to read on my Kindle app, to read when I’m on the bus or when I’m waiting in doctor’s offices or before I go to sleep at night.

My two books this year are The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury, in paperback and The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame in eBook form. I decided to go with Wind in the Willows because I opened it up and was struck by the opening lines and kept on reading. It begins:

“The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing…”

I like that…divine discontent. I can identify with little Mole, tired of winter and longing for spring. So I’m reading on with that same spirit of hopefulness.

I started reading The Martian Chronicles on the bus yesterday afterbradbury2 class. I had a trip to make to one of the main stations to purchase a bus pass, since I’ve been sick and haven’t felt much like doing anything. So I had a bit of time on my hands on the buses and waiting for buses to read. It’s got an interesting start, too:

“One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.”

A strange Earthly opening vision for a novel about the Red Planet, but it gets there soon enough.

I’m enjoying both books so far. I hope wherever you are, you are reading something enjoyable.

What are you reading right now?

February is National Novel Reading Month

As my friend John Wiswell recently pointed out, National Novel Reading Month, or NaNoReMo, is almost upon us.

National Novel Reading Month is when we look to the sad state of our reading lives, the classics that we have shamefully avoided or haven’t had the time to enjoy. Excuses, excuses. I am so poor in my classical reading that it’s not funny, it’s tragic. There are hundreds of classic books that I’ve yet to read. NaNoReMo is when I get a chance to help rectify that pitiful condition.

Last year, I read these two wonderful books. But before I read them, I downloaded a huge pile of free Kindle classics to my iPhone. I have a lot to choose from this year. I’m going in circles trying to decide what book to read.

I made a list of those that I would consider “classics” and filtered that into a shortlist of four books I thought I might be able to choose from. Now, I need your help. Let me know what you think of any, or all, of these books in the comments. You’re opinion may be the one that leads me to my new favorite classic.

Thank you.

#NaNoReMo 2013 Shortlist:

grahamewindwillowsThe Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. How my childhood missed this classic fantasy, I don’t know. As a fan of fantasy, and animal fables (Chronicles of Narnia; Watership Down; One for Sorrow, Two for Joy, etc…) I have always hungered to delve into this tale of forest creatures.

Don-QuixoteDon Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. I’m taking Spanish 2 and have this book on my Kindle app in both English and Spanish. Wondering if reading it and comparing the two would help me get through the class a little better. I’d like to read this at some point in my life, but not sure now is the time.

The Island of Dr MoreauThe Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells. I loved War of the Worlds, and this sounds like a really cool book. I’ve also never entirely read The Time Machine. I’m not listing it because I read about a third of it and then got sidetracked. I would like to finish that book someday. But the Island of Doctor Moreau has always appealed to me. It sounds like a cool, mad scientist story. I’d like to find out someday if I’ve judged the book by it’s title correctly.

copperfield-01Last book I’m considering is David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens. I’ve read (and dearly love) A Tale of Two Cities. It’s one of my favorite classics. I have not read another Dickens book and I need to remedy that. Soon. Not sure if this is the next Dickens book I need to read or not. I’ve considered others, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. Would love to hear what my reader/writer friends think on the matter.

So, friends, what classic book do you think I should tackle for National Novel Reading Month?

NOTE: Read John Wiswell’s post for more information, if you’d like to participate in National Novel Reading Month yourself.

Creating a Writing Plan

I cherish the time off I have between college terms. I haven’t had a whole lot of time off lately: my last two terms only had a week and a week-and-a-half between them, so needless to say, I’m feeling a bit burned out.

I’m going to take this month I have off between now and the start of the fall term (which will be my final term at the community college before I transfer to my bachelor’s program…god knows where) to finish up a few writing projects and at long last get started on formatting my book of short stories for Smashwords and Kindle.

I’d like to see Kill the Crow come out early in 2013. I hope to round up some beta-readers  for it and try to find an decently priced editor (if I can) before the end of the year. If you are interested in beta-reading the book, please let me know.

I need to finish some stories for the book, too. I have three open stories that I’d like to fit into the anthology, including the title piece. I’m waiting for two stories to be published in other anthologies so they can be added, as well.

How to get things done if you’re a scatterbrain like me?

Well, one of my favorite ways of holding myself accountable for my actions is by making lists. I like lists. I look at a list and go “Oh, there’s that item I need to do.” I feel a sense of profound contentment, and a certain amount of evil pleasure when I check things off the list. Check. Murdered another one!

Another method of personal accountability for me is taking that list and going public with it.

Here is my writing plan for the next month:

  • Finish short story: Kill the Crow and the other stories that I need to get done for the book and for The Were-Traveler, etc.
  • Start the story I want to submit for consideration to Nota Bene, the fiction journal for Phi Theta Kappa. Right now I have an idea for this, but it’s speculative fiction, although it’s literary speculative fiction. Have to see where it goes, but I definitely want to submit something to this.
  • Finish outline for Waking Annastella. This is my “Sleeping Beauty in Space” science fiction story that I’ve been working on. I have the first chapter and part of the second written already.
  • Begin formatting Kill the Crow for Smashwords.
  • Blog something at least once a week!

This is probably as much as I dare to try and accomplish in a month, since I will also be putting a lot of my energy into applying to transfer colleges (writing college essays) and trying to acquire scholarships to see me through the pursuit of my bachelor’s degree.

Be on the lookout this summer for a lot of #amwriting and #wordmongering from me. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get to participate in a #FridayFlash!

“Nothing But Flowers” KINDLE FREE Promotion

Received an email message from eMergent Publishing editor Jodi Cleghorn about a deal going on at the Kindle Store that’s way too good for anyone to pass up. EMergent Publishing is having a Kindle promotion for the anthology Nothing But Flowers.  Jodi says:

The promotion runs from Wednesday 23rd until Friday 25th, US (pacific) midnight to midnight, UK 9:00am – 9:00am, Australia 6:00pm – 6:00pm. It is a free download, and you don’t have to be signed up to any special program – you do need an Amazon account though. You also don’t need a dedicated Kindle eReader. The anthology can be read on a variety of devices using the Kindle App http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771 including smart phones, tablets and desk top computers.

KINDLE LINKS

USA http://www.amazon.com/Nothing-But-Flowers-Post-Apocalyptic-ebook/dp/B0073G2FRU/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337733639&sr=1-3

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nothing-But-Flowers-Post-Apocalyptic-ebook/dp/B0073G2FRU/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337733686&sr=1-3

ABOUT LITERARY MIX TAPES

Inspired by the practice of recording music mix tapes, Literary Mix Tapes combines a love of music and short stories with a unique blend of creative crowd sourcing, collective submission and old-fashioned editorial grunt to create concept anthologies showcasing the freshest voices in speculative fiction.

ABOUT NOTHING BUT FLOWERS

Nothing But Flowers editor, Jodi Cleghorn despairing for musical inspiration for a Valentines Day anthology with a difference, had The Best of Talking Heads playing in the car at the end of a six hour drive from country New South Wales to Brisbane in January 2011. Fifteen minutes from home (Nothing But) Flowers came on and she seized on the concept of post-apocalyptic love stories using the song as a starting point. Always intrigued by the idea of daisies reclaiming Pizza Huts and yearning for a lawn mower, Cleghorn gave authors free reign over how they used the song, rather than assigning lyrics as individual prompts.

BLURB

In a devastated world, a voice calls out through the darkness of space, a young woman embraces Darwin, a man lays flowers in a shattered doorway, a two-dimensional wedding feast awaits guests, a Dodge Challenger roars down the deserted highway…and that’s just the beginning.

Inspired by the Talking Heads’ song of the same name, Nothing but Flowers explores the complexities and challenges of love in a post-apocalyptic landscape; from a take-away coffee mug to a gun to the head, a fortune cookie to a guitar, the open road and beyond. Poignant, funny, horrifying and sensual, this collection of short fiction leaves an indelible mark on ideas of what it means to love and be loved.

The History

Nothing But Flowers was released on Valentines Day, each story available free on the web for a period of 48 hours. In the 72 hours which spanned all stories being available, there were more than 3000 views of the stories, equivalent of selling around 60 books!

Three months later the paperback launched online with sister charity anthology 100 Stories for Queensland. Within hours of being released the anthology went to #1 in all four categories it was listed in on Amazon UK (Sci-Fi Anthology, Sci-Fi Short Stories, Fantasy Anthology, Fantasy Short Stories) and reached #13 in the general anthology charts there. It also reached #1 in Canada’s Amazon store (in its given categories) and as high as #13 in the US Amazon charts.

The anthology remained in the top 100 for a month in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Anthologies categories in both the UK and Canada.

The authors of Nothing But Flowers went on to provide the 26 song prompts for Literary Mix Tapes follow up anthology Eighty Nine.

Ten stories from the anthology were chosen in March 2012 for adaptation to screen in eMergent Publishing’s first joint movie project, co-produced by Jodi Cleghorn and Devin Watson.

Stories and Authors

Sound of Silence Laura Eno 
Scarecrow Man Jodi Cleghorn
Daisy’s Cafe Sam Adamson
On the Corner of Clerk Street Rebecca Emin
Sophie Solitaire: Confessions of an End Time Girl Maria Kelly
Diana the Phoenix Christopher Chartrand
Headlines and Post-It Notes Adam Byatt
Escape from Paradise Rob Diaz
Nothing Else Matters Carrie Clevenger
Grey, Like Stone Lily Mulholland
I Dream of Cherry Pies Jen Brubacher
There But For Fortune Dale Challener Roe
Click Annie Evett
Two Fools in Love Graham Storrs
Golden Opportunity P.J. Kaiser
Warrior Rebecca Dobbie
Deux Sots Paul Servini
Alone Janette Dalgliesh
The Rose Garden Jim Bronyaur
Empty Shelves Benjamin Solah
The Gift Emma Newman
This was Paradise Icy Sedgwick
Absent Jason Coggins
Dinner in Paphos Susan May James
Driver and the Beautiful Highway Dan Powell

So go get a copy of Nothing But Flowers while it’s free and enjoy yourself some post-apocalyptic love!


Bad Day at Bull Funk’s, excerpt from Kill the Crow #1

I’m going to be posting a few excerpts from my upcoming short story collection, beginning with this one:

He threw his cigarette down and was about to squash it under his heel when two vehicles pulled up. A Chevy cargo van and a classic red T-bird. Six elderly people got out. One woman and five men. A seventh man remained behind the wheel of the van, scowling.

Shit! thought Brent. Six customers? And all of them older than blame.

So much for an easy morning. He stomped his cigarette out and returned inside the store. He waited behind the counter as the old farts filed in with their canes and walkers. The last one in the door (a gent with a limp and a bushy iron-gray beard) turned and shut the door. He flipped the sign in the window over from “OPEN” to “CLOSED.”

Brent watched with mild amusement. “Waddidya do that for?”

The old woman went behind the counter. She pulled a Colt .45 Automatic out of her handbag and jammed it between Brent’s eyes.

“Oh, you gotta be shitting me!” Brent cried. “You’re fucking robbing us?”

“Yes and no,” said the woman.

Brent laughed. Grandma pressed the gun harder into his skull.

“Hey, that hurts!” Brent said.

“It’s supposed to,” Granny said. She watched her accomplices. They were rummaging through the section where the tequila display was. “Hurry up and get it together. Jimmy, you get the boxes from the back.”

“Okay, Bev. We’re on it.” Jimmy propped his cane against the shelves.

“What? You’re stealing liquor?” Brent asked incredulously.

“Just what we need,” replied Bev.

Brent made a move to subdue the old woman, but she grabbed the arm he was trying to strong-arm her with and twisted it behind his back. Brent yelped in pain. Christ, the old bitch is STRONG! Bev walloped him on the back of the head with the butt of the gun. He swayed, but didn’t pass out. He ceased struggling. Bev leaned in close to him.

“There’s a smart boy,” she whispered. She licked his earlobe. Brent shivered, frightened and grossed out at the same time. He twisted around and looked up at the security camera. Fake, but still…

“We know it doesn’t work,” said Ironbeard from the door.

Brent didn’t ask how they knew. He watched silently as the others began loading up the boxes with bottles of tequila.

“Why tequila?”

“Nosy little jerk, ‘aint he?” Jimmy said. “And brave. Last punk didn’t say or do a fricking thing.”

“Didn’t help him in the end, though, did it? He was still…” said one of the other men loading boxes. What did he say? It sounded like exyunitch.What the hell was that? Brent wondered. Did the old bitch damage his hearing when she hit him?

“Now, Rocky. It’s okay,” said Bev. She still had a hammer-lock on Brent. The business end of the gun was once more against his forehead. She leaned in to whisper. “We have a craving for fermented agave.” She was licking his ear again. “Among other things.”

Stay tuned for more excerpt goodness…

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!