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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Breathing Fire…The Year So Far

Just before New Year’s Day, I wrote a bold as brass blog post. I laid claim to the dragon year 2012 and made plans to burn, burn, burn, with a passion and fire like never before.

I have to say after three months, 2012 has not let me down.

It’s difficult being both a scholar and a writer. Sometimes I’m not sure where one part of my dual life ends and the other begins, as the two seem intricately interwoven and dependent upon each other to make me a whole being. To teach my passion for literature and writing, I work relentlessly toward a Master’s degree, perhaps even a PhD. I write on the side for pleasure and profit when I can, and I write as part of my school work.

Sometimes the two join and become one thing, like when I won the “Best Fiction Short Story” award at the Phi Theta Kappa Florida Regional Convention in Jacksonville a few weeks ago. Hearing my name and story called was like nothing I’ve ever felt. It was one of the most euphoric things I’ve ever experienced. I want more of it.

Also, on the scholarly side of things, I was nominated by my school for the All-USA Academic Team. I get to go to Orlando in a few weeks and accept a medallion and certificate that’s the reward for the years of hard work I’ve put in to become a top student. I didn’t make the All-USA final team, but the benefits of being named to an All-State team are being made clear to me. I was getting emails and letters from interested transfer schools before, but now there are an increasing number of schools wanting me to consider them for my baccalaureate degree. Good things, I think, will continue to happen to me as I inch ever closer to my dream of being a professor.

Now for the writing side of my life.

What writer on earth doesn’t want their stories to come to life on screen?

I was notified about a week ago that my short story Sophie Solitaire: Confessions of an End-Time Girl was chosen as one of ten stories in Literary Mix Tapes Nothing But Flowers anthology to be included in a movie project.

Finally, late last year I posted a previously published short story to the Friday Flash community, which I’ve been involved in for about two years now, although not as regularly as I’d like these days. I then submitted the story for possible inclusion in the second Friday Flash anthology: The Best of Friday Flash, Volume 2.

I just received an email from Jon Strother at Friday Flash this morning to let me know that my story, The ABC’s of the Apocalypse, will be included in BOFF2! I’m wildly excited about seeing this story in print again. It is one of the best stories I’ve written, and it received a lot of great comments when it was posted for Friday Flash.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to what the remainder of 2012 brings!

My award for PTK Florida Region Best Short Story, Fiction.

East of Eden is still Eden…

Sea Oats by Maria Kelly

This week is going to be a hectic one. Starting now.

I have an essay for British Literature I to finish, then upload to online class and an online test in Meteorology to study for and take. After that, I have one more section of Algebra homework to complete that’s due tomorrow.

Tomorrow starts the beginning of a week of doing more things with the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa. We’re having our new student orientation tomorrow that I’m helping out with at the afternoon session. I’m also starting a study group with one or two fellow Algebra students. So tomorrow looks like an insanely busy day: work, Algebra class, study group, PTK orientation.

I’ve typed up notes to use as talking points on why these new recruits should join Phi Theta Kappa. It’s one of the Level Three tasks for the Five Star Competitive Edge program, so I thought I’d do it. And it’s something I believe in. PTK, I believe, has given me tremendous advantages I would not have had otherwise. Transfer colleges are seeking me out and contacting me, simply because I’m a member.

A core group of our PTK chapter are also preparing to visit Stetson University in Deland, Florida this coming Friday night and Saturday for a regional leadership conference. I never like to turn these chances down when they are offered because I’m one of a couple of non-officers who get invited to go. While we are there, it has been suggested we might take a side trip over to Daytona, since we’re so close. Dip our toes in the waters of the Atlantic-side of Florida. I’ve been on the east coast before, in Tequesta (No, I didn’t see Burt Reynolds, who lives there), and I’ve dipped my toes before. Honestly, the Atlantic beaches don’t look all that different than the Gulf beaches. East of Eden is still Eden. Florida has its faults, but it is still paradise to me. Damn, that sounds like a Jimmy Buffet song. Besides, I’ve lived here over twenty years and I’ve never been to Daytona. I love visiting new places.

It’s not a weekend trip, so I’ll be home late Saturday afternoon or evening.

I wanted to get a blog post up about this, because it is important to me. All aspects of my education are important to me. I never thought I’d be attending college, seeking a degree at my age, let alone be in the honor society.

Also, my online presence will be scanty this week. I will still put up an image prompt tomorrow (maybe another Hodgepodge of three or four images) and I’ll post the Five For Friday prompt before I leave. I want to get as much homework done for the week as possible, so I don’t have to take much of it with me. It’s a bitch hanging out in the hotel room doing homework when the rest of your buds are out having fun.

I’ll be doing another blog post later today or tonight about writing stuff. What’s going on in my writing and all that. There’s lots of news on that side of things, too, though it may seem I’ve been slacking there. So much news I wanted to keep the two posts separate.

This is one of my “I’m still alive…just buried under an avalanche of school stuff” posts.

Classes, collaborations and other craziness…

I’ve been long absent from this little blog.

But I’m back. From outer space. I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face. Okay…enough disco drama.

What’s up with me?

Well…I’m almost through with this term at school. I’m finishing up my project for Creative Writing class. It’s a 5 k short story called “Drowning in Shallow Water.” It’s literary. It has heroin junkies. And the best damn description of a dragon tattoo, ever! I’m also working on a flash for a class contest. There’s money involved. And cake.

I’m also giving a class. I’m giving a lecture on April 23rd about the benefits of social networking for writers. I’ll be wearing my “tweet me” tee-shirt and trying to sell Twitter and Facebook to writers who are reluctant to use these outlets. Should be fun. I’m not going to make a dime for it. I’m doing it because of my pure love of Twitter and other social media.

I’m writing another story for the Literary Mix Tapes crowd. Jodi Cleghorn has done it once again, assembling an incredible cast of talented authors to tell some speculative fiction stories related to the year 1989.

I submitted a story to the Florida Writers Association anthology “Let’s Talk.” The stories are required to be all dialogue. There will be 60 stories chosen to be in the anthology. Out of these, ten will be judged the best and placed in the front of the book. The judging for this year’s anthology will be done by W. Bruce Cameron, bestselling author of “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” and “A Dog’s Purpose.”

In other news, some of you know already that horror author extraordinaire Jim Bronyaur (whose new book “In the Corner” just came out) and I are going to be collaborating on a book sometime in the near future. Before we do that, however, we are also making plans to write a short story for the anthology contest “E-Pocalypse: E-mails at the End.” Should be a lot of fun. And whatever we come up with is sure to be twisted as hell.

In publishing news, my story “The Apprentice’s Mother” was accepted for publication in the anthology “Sunday Snaps: The Stories,” put together by Susan May James to benefit charity. Authors used Susan’s photo prompts (the “Sunday Snaps”) on her blog as inspiration. I chose the picture of the creepy door knocker for my story.

And soon…very soon…the Zombie Survival Crew anthology “Undead Is Not An Option” will be released. It features my story “Crunch Time.”

So… Until next time…