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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2013: Adaptations

© Redshinestudio - Fotolia.com

© Redshinestudio – Fotolia.com

Here we are, this year coming to a close and staring down the barrel of a new one.

2012 was a great year. Many good things happened. I won some awards both for academics and for writing. I didn’t publish as many short stories, but I feel like the ones I did publish were better stories. I got paid for my first story, Nowhere Land, and that story got some great reviews. I had my first reprint: my story The ABCs of the Apocalypse was reprinted in The Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2. I had a vampire story, The Bloodletter’s Tale, published in the Flashes in the Dark e-zineI have a story called The Apprentice’s Mother, being published in the Sunday Snaps anthology soon.

I ventured into journalism, writing a story for the school online newspaper about President Obama’s visit to one of our campuses.

I was nominated by my school for the All Florida Academic Team. I had a short story win two academic awards.

I did not do everything I planned to do in 2012. I’m still working on getting my book of short stories finished and out there in the world.

That being said, my list for 2013 contains some items of old business.

There are also some major changes in store for me in 2013, some life adaptations that I’ll be making. But as a friend of mine, Sophie Solitaire once told me: “You have to adapt or you will die.” Sophie is a character in my post-apocalyptic story Sophie Solitaire: Confessions of an End-Time Girl. 

2013 Goals:

Writing/Publishing Goals:

Kill the Crow — Get the stories that are going in it finished, get them all assembled in anthology format and find beta readers for the book. Find out how I can publish to both Smashwords and Amazon. If anyone reading this can help me with beta reading or publishing suggestions, please comment. I need all the help I can get.

Quellseek: Army of Empaths, Book 1 — This is the novel I started for NaNoWriMo this year. I want to finish it and let it sit for a bit before I start editing. I’ve also begun note-taking and planning the second book of the series: Blood War. 

Blood War: Army of Empaths, Book 2 — The second book of Army of Empaths. I won’t give too much away, but Quellseek ends with some cliffhanger stuff. I want to start work on Blood War right way, while the momentum and juices are still hot and flowing.

Army of Empaths, Book 3 — I want to begin planning what’s going to happen in the 3rd book while I’m writing the 2nd book, taking notes as I go along on anything that might be a loose end that would need wrapping up. We don’t like loose ends.

Short stories  — I’d like to get some short stories written, I don’t know if I’ll have time. If I get invited to write another eMergent story, I’d definitely say ‘yes.’ I love working with Jodi Cleghorn and the eMergent crew.

I’m also planning a children’s fantasy about a dragon princess, but it’s just in the beginning/tinkering stages right now. And I’m playing with the idea of putting  a volume of poetry together.

The Were-Travler My first year as a fiction magazine publisher went pretty smoothly. Ever since the mag was listed on Duotropes, the submissions have been pouring in. It may be that I’ll need someone to help me with it eventually, but I’m having a lot of fun with it and definitely plan to keep it going.

Academic Goals:

Find a new school. In May, I will receive my Associates degree. I need to make up my mind about what university I’m going to attend to get my Bachelors. I need to make this decision soon. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve applied for some scholarships, we’ll see what happens. 

Awards. I’m trying to get another short story ready for Phi Theta Kappa Regional Awards for this year. I’m also entering a poem.

Survive Spanish 2. I need to pass this class in the Spring. It will count toward my BA. I haven’t been able to practice my Spanish much since I took Spanish 1 in the summer, so this will be hard. I may have to get a tutor. 😦

This is what I hope to accomplish for 2013. If I can achieve a fraction of it, I’ll be happy.

I wish everyone a successful and happy new year ahead!

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?

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!