The State of this Author’s State

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Today’s blog post is brought to you by the letter “W.” Without words, we will wither when wit weakens weary.

I haven’t written about the state of the state for some time, so I thought I’d drop in an talk about all that’s happening in my planet.

Let’s see… Well, for my day job we launched a Kickstarter for the Designer’s Edition of Ogre. You can find a list of articles and interviews about the project on the Ogre Sixth Edition web page. For John Kovalic of Dork Tower fame? He just finished Munchkin Apocalypse and had an appearance at ACD Games Day that I helped manage. I’ve edited REDACTED now and am working on another small project. Plus, we’re gearing up for a ton of goodies, but Munchkin (always) comes first. One of the best things about John, though, is his passion for all things — including gaming. A lot of old school games I haven’t played yet and he’s gleefully whipping out his own Ogre minis and games like A Ticket To Ride. Tons of fun, to be sure.

On the heels of my recent appearance at OddCon, where I read excerpts from Redwing’s Gambit for the first time, I was attacked vigorously by con crud. It lasted for about two weeks and forced me to stop drinking diet soda. I’m now trying to quit that completely, but it’s very, very hard. I would like to have that cut completely out of my system by the time I appear at Balticon. (Note: they do not have me listed on the website, but I am appearing on panels and doing a reading there.) The side effects so far are very strange and involve changes in hunger pangs, anxiety, and an abrupt shift in (of all things) breathing. Weird.

During this time, I had three really cool things happen. The first was that the anthology dubbed Don’t Read This Book debuted. It includes “Don’t Ignore Your Dead,” which is a very dark, gritty story penned by yours truly.

The second, was that Brennan Taylor asked me to be part of my first Kickstarter for the Have Blaster, Will Travel Bulldogs! anthology. Yay! Not only was I part of a successful stretch goal, but readers got to pick what Fang blows up in the story! Hoo-ray! Of course, one of the best side effects of this project, was that more readers became aware of Redwing’s Gambit. This is such an important novella for my career because of the way it was structured and designed. I also got a rejection letter for a short story, but I’m waiting to hear back about two others, both of which I’m *very* excited about.

The third is a publishing milestone. One of my stories will appear in an anthology with none other than George R.R. Martin, Joe Lansdale, Nancy Collins, and a variety of other amazing authors!

More updates as I get them, but those are the highlights. Due to a number of factors outside of my control, I am behind, but I am FIRED UP. Also, I wish I wasn’t so sensitive to diet pop, but the benefit to breaking myself of that addiction, is that I’ll spend more time on other healthy things. Just call me zen. 🙂

    Mood: Contemplative. As in contemplating hunger.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Ice tea. Three glasses. Shaken and stirred.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Cleaned. MORE SUCKAGE.
    In My Ears: Nox Arcana
    Game Last Played: Battle Nations
    Movie Last Viewed: Young Guns
    Latest Artistic Project: Cross-stitch
    Latest Release: Redwing’s Gambit for Bulldogs! the RPG

Thank You! Fang will blow up. . .

First and foremost, thank you. I’m really happy I can write about Fang again and if there’s one thing I hope I can convey always and forever in my work, is just how much you, the reader, means to my future as an author. After all, I have not yet begun to fight! Er… Write!

Secondly, you really like explosions. Since two of the listed options tied for first place, you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck. (See what I did there?) 🙂

Not only will Fang blow up his own ship, but he’ll also exact a little revenge on the headquarters of Redwing Securities.

Now, to figure out a plot that won’t disintegrate when the building does…

Nothing Rational Whatsoever

The past two weeks have been a fun adventure in con crud-land. I am now, officially, behind on my master plan. Fortunately, I did manage to spontaneously combust only once. I now have a list and that’s what I’m sticking to. Yay for lists! 🙂

Mind you, my mental state is rapidly changing. I have stuff to do, but I’m not freaking out about it. For some bizarr-o reason, I am now convinced that I am now more sensitive to soda than ever. It’s been three days and while I should be back on the OH MY STARS THIS TASTES SOOO GOOD wagon — I’m sticking to coffee and tea, because pop causes some weird effect that I’m probably imagining.

Yeah, we’ll see how long this lasts.

The problem with having a to-do list is that there’s no shortage of things to create. This time, though, I’m going to barrel right on through so I can get to some really cool things I have planned for you. MUWAHAHAHAHAHA.

*coughs* Hairball. *coughs*

First, I have to blow something up for my readers. Watching the results come in for my poll about Fang and laughing. Oh, and I really need to paint one of my cats. That’ll teach him to go after my brushes. Right? RIGHT?

    Mood: Con Crudness. It’s a state of being.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Two cups of coffee. I want MOAR.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Cleaned my office. Yeah, that sucked.
    In My Ears: Final Fantasy playlist. I may or may not have added some from iTunes. $10!
    Game Last Played: It’s a haze.
    Movie Last Viewed: Total blank.
    Latest Artistic Project: Cross-stitch
    Latest Release: Redwing’s Gambit for Bulldogs! the RPG

CISPA Passes the House. Yes, This Affects You.

Deathy By Encryption

Back when I first started in online marketing, legislating the internet was just a glimmer in the public’s eye. Even on that side of things, we took for granted the pioneering spirit of the internet, because so many of us thrive on the internet as it is. Hard to imagine it any other way! Those days are long past. It’s inevitable something will pass, the question is what?

Earlier this year, SOPA was introduced and defeated. Many well-meaning legislators tried to put forth a law that greatly affected avid users, but weren’t well understood by those who don’t rely on the internet for their livelihood or other reasons. Internet experts were easily dismissed, which blew my mind when I watched the hearings!

CISPA, which some say is much worse, was just passed a day ahead of schedule in the House with amendments. Here’s a breakdown of how the representatives voted.

I want to point something out in this bill, because I think it’s something that a lot of people don’t keep in mind when they post on the internet. This is a very good quote from TechDirt:

The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime”. Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government’s power. — Source: TechDirt



What does this mean? This translates to the legal authorities’ ability to profile you based not only on what you post, but when, and to whom. Every post in anger? Threaten someone bodily harm but not really mean it?

This bill also supercedes any privacy doctrine or guidelines on the web. Eventually, there will be other internet options that will pop up, but when they flourish they’ll likely be illegal at first before the internet splits. What we’ve experienced for so many years is changing and the so-called reckoning is just beginning.

I don’t want to sound conspiratorial or doom-and-gloom here, but I do want to continue to warn you, my dear readers, that the internet is not the free-for-all so many would have us believe. There’s this thing called a “digital footprint” wherever you walk. Something to think about as more legislation comes to bear. Everything — and I mean everything — is being tracked.

I would like to thank Joshua Kubli from for pointing out that the fate of this legislation has not yet passed the Senate, nor has Obama weighed in. I know many of you may not be politically active, but if you have an opinion, now would be the time to express it.

    Mood: Con Crudding
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Giving up soda. Hardest thing I’ve ever done.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Housework.
    In My Ears: A playlist titled “She-Ra POWAH”
    Game Last Played: Memory foggy.
    Movie Last Viewed: Total blank.
    Latest Artistic Project: Cross-stitch
    Latest Release: Redwing’s Gambit for Bulldogs! the RPG

Don’t Read This Book: an Insomniac’s Hallucinatory First Draft

Yesterday, the digital version of Don’t Read This Book was released into the wilds of the internet.

If you’re one of my regular readers, you know I consider myself to be a method writer. Well, for this world? For a story based on insomniacs? Yep, I totally dove right into that! The first version I wrote while I was in New York City in October of last year after a long day of extended travel and a lack of caffeine. Instead of typing out the draft, I hand wrote it, and made large scribbling motions. (I normally write in all caps.)

I remember feeling like I had no control over the thoughts that were tumbling out of my head. The language was repetitive and coarse. There was lots of swearing and tangents thrown — like an imagined conversation with a set of decorative piggy banks perched on a cubicle wall as well as a Bleached Man who was trying to save himself from chemical disintegration. There were many moments where my eyes were closed and my pen drifted over the page as the story poured from my fingertips.

The story that resulted from the experience wasn’t strong enough to stand on its own because, as my editor Chuck Wendig aptly point out, it wasn’t grounded in reality. I feel there’s two parts to Don’t Rest Your Head: the world you know and the Lands between. I wound up revising the tale to go almost full on into reality. Instead of stumbling along in the surreal Slumbering Lands, the majority of “Don’t Ignore Your Dead” is an examination of one character’s grief. The game itself is very tangible in that there has to be a cost or an issue the character is trying to resolve; the finished version absolutely fits that requirement. While the final version is a lot tighter and less bizarre, there are elements that remain. To find out what did, you’ll have to read the story.

Regardless of whether or not my tale touches you, I’m sure one of the other mighty, mighty authors in this anthology will. And, if an anthology about struggling insomniacs doesn’t interest you, I hope you’ll find another one that will!

Here’s what the draft looks like. You can click on it for a larger preview.

Here’s a couple of paragraphs about the pigs and Other Me from the very first draft. This is *as it appears* in my journal, so the words may not be entirely work-safe. Apparently, in my stupor I was fixated on the idea that some people collect pigs for no reason other than to terrify us. The whole draft runs around in circles and it’s lack of cohesiveness was interesting to explore. I’ve had bouts of insomnia, but never really applied that creatively before.

Excerpt from “Don’t Ignore Your Dead” First Draft

The office is empty, but I’m not alone. I can feel someone watching me. I’m not going to take this shit sitting down. All I have to do is make it across the room to the hallway. That weird light is gone, but I can still feel (or rather) smell it. It reeks like a swimming pool. Bleach or cleaning supplies or something. I creep past a set of cubicles and snort. Someone’s idea of a joke. Pigs. I’m not shitting you. It’s a collection of pigs. Pink, pot-bellied, googily-eyed, sunglass-wearing, motorcycle-riding hogs.

Those fucking things better not be chasing me, too. Shit. I glare at a piggy bank as I stomp past them.

“I’m warning you. You’ll be bacon. Deep-fried, crispy bacon.”

They didn’t follow me; though one of them twitched. I wasn’t in the mood to let that go.

“See this?” I said, pointing to the curst blood on my hands. “Not taking your shit tonight. Okay?”

A smaller pig — a white-and-green bank with shamrocks all over it — whimpered.

“Well, now you know who’s boss.” I said.

Ka-chiiiiinnnnng.

The emo bank spits out a coin. I take it. Maybe it pays to be nice after all. It’s a silver dollar; only not one I’ve seen before.

On the back it reads: IN SELF WE TRUST.

I’ll buy that. I guess.

“You see?” I shout. “You know who’s in charge?”

Tsssshhh-shhhhk.

Then.

Laughter. Hard, grating. It’s my voice. Only hollow. A sad replica.

Other Me.

“Oh, hell…”

I book it. (Book ’em, Dan-o.) Down, down, down the endless rows of cubicles. Grey walls. So dirty. Black lines melting into one another. Faster I run — worse it gets. Hallway’s just a spot, a glimmer in my red eyes. Can I get there? I need to wash this shit off. Copier’s tagged me. I’m sure of it. That’s why It keeps. Coming. Why the Other me is hunting me down like a jilted lover. I have its guts all over me. I’m painted like a big ole target with special copier scent and it’s killing me. It’s killing me because I’m dirty. I’m not clean or pure. I’ve done things. Stupid things.

Not my fault. Can’t be. Just won’t sleep. Can’t sleep. Nothing in the world will let me rest or dream or snort. Nothing. So I tried the opposite once. Tried biting, carving, sliding… just to stay alive. But it is healthy? Was it safe?

Why do you think I have all these tattoos swirling and spiraling up and down my arms? There isn’t an inch of bare flesh where I cut. But only I can see the scars.

And Other Me. Can’t forget about Her. She can see them, too.

I’ve been running for a while. Run, run, run up and down, sideways. All the cubes look the same. I keep running but I’m not getting any closer. It’s such crap. Well, not crap. A carrot. It’s like someone’s dangling a carrot on the end of a stick or I’m the white rabbit. Only I’m not going down, down, down the rabbit hole. I went up and out. This isn’t Slumberland. This is where I finally get what’s coming to me. Judgement. WHere someone else makes up the rules. Right?

Darkness all around me. Copier behind me. Blood dried up all over my clothes. Even the stuff running through my veins — the thick blood — feels sluggish, like slow-moving, pieces of ash. Dammit. The copier’s watching me. It’s just been sitting there, waiting for me to open myself up or maybe it’ll attack me when I get to the light.

On maybe it is the light. I don’t know. I can’t think. I can’t reason. I can’t…

I recite my lessons. Hope something simple keeps my mind active.

Two plus two is four
Nevermore
Go through the door, Lenore.
Quote the Raven
Nevermore

That’s it! I yell at Other Me. I howl at the cubes. “Never More. Never fucking more. Nevermore!”

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