Words, Words, Too Many Words?

I’m editing [redacted] and am amazed by how honest and personal this work is. It also made me realize how much I don’t disclose online. Years ago, I made a conscious decision to not go down that path, and I strayed from that when I talked about Madison politics. Sure, I could talk about those sorts of things (religion, my childhood, politics, etc.) but for me, this is what I’m comfortable with so I can focus on the Work itself.

But there’s another reason and (thankfully) Gene Wolfe (Yes, that Gene Wolfe.) pointed it out. And that is “too many words.” We were talking about dealing with revisions and working through drafts at WorldCon on a panel, and he mentioned the benefit of turning off songs with sounds in them once you were done.

And something clicked. It sounds incredibly simple, doesn’t it? That putting in music without words will help refill the well. But it works!

    Mood: Bewildered, just a bit.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: One cup. Seriously. JUST one!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Does intent count?
    In My Ears: Being Human (UK)
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: Dredd
    Latest Artistic Project: … Been too long … Far too long…
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

Characterization out of Love Letters

Sephiroth Avatar

One of the characters I’m developing further is Atlas, who first appears in “Fangs and Formaldehyde” included in New Hero, Volume One. To deal with his inability to express his emotions, he writes love letters. Or, rather, his version of what a love letter should be. These words, conflicted and dark, are his way of of dealing with his guilt.

Here’s an example:

Every time I try to forget about you, something screams at me, pulling me back into your pale memory. This time, it was the scent of your oils. The pungent smell of carnations forced me to remember the time we snuck out into your private gardens. You were so regal then, so accustomed to ordering your servants around. Not like now. What has happened to you? Are you still alive?

Back then, you were young and paranoid. I laughed at you when you ordered your handmaidens to stand watch while I rubbed oil on your neck. You told me that even simple things, like a casual touch, would cause our ruin. And you were right.

Our hearts still beat that night in the gardens. It was beautiful, sad. We both knew what the day would bring. Responsibility. Honor. Fidelity. I didn’t care for any of it, but you? You were greedier than I was. Hungrier.

Still, there was no blood, no pain, no curse. Only us. This memory I shall keep.

His method of diving into his heart, is my way of exploring his depths through words, and bring that layer into his story.

    Mood: Focused
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: One or two
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: I stretched, but it’s not enough.
    In My Ears: Being Human (UK)
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: Dredd
    Latest Artistic Project: … Been too long … Far too long…
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

A Chatty Sabbatical Borne Out of Weakness

Queen Grimhilde

On October 1st, I’m taking off of Twitter and Facebook for the month of October. I’m doing this because I am a weak person, because I have had it with politics, and I need a break from the negativity and the chatter about the negativity.

Instead of explaining at endless intervals what this ridiculous behavior (Why do I care what pajamas a President would wear, for example?) is doing to me, let me show you as illustrated by my cat, Zakar. (Otherwise known as Zak Zak.)


Which has led to?


Which has led to?


Which means that in order to return to this:

I’m taking a chatty break from Facebook and Twitter. 🙂 I’ll still be blogging and those posts will feed through to both mediums; just need some political relief.

    Mood: Have I worshipped my feline overlords enough today?
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: A few. A pittance. A paltry, measly small range to keep me awake.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: More tissue lifting.
    In My Ears: Cyber SciFi playlist on iTunes
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: Dredd
    Latest Artistic Project: … Been too long … Far too long…
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

Dark Fairytales, Zombie Con Crud, and an Important Question

It’s Week Two of the “crud that will seemingly never end,” though I think it’s finally starting to subside. I didn’t get sick for all of con season, so I knew that — sooner or later — it had to happen. Of course, the timing was perfect, just when I needed to dive back into the world of story…

…about that. Stories helped get me through this period. All dark fantasies and fairytales. Read four or five novels, some of which I’ll review for FlamesRising.com, and watched Once Upon a Time. This show is superb. Continuous story arc, well-crafted and amazingly written — not to mention the acting is flawless. I love, love, love this show. Love it. Of course, it’s likely obvious my favorite character is the Hatter.

In my haze of caffeine and cold medicine, I managed to have a life and get some work done for Dork Tower. (Shocking, I know.) Went to a Thai festival, saw Dredd which was a-w-e-s-o-m-e, have been cooking from my Irish Pub cabal of recipes; I’m behind on cleaning, my to-do lists, and my In Box, but they’ll be there when I fully recover. They’ll always be there. Also: I have pictures. Which, sadly, I’m too lazy at the moment to upload and share — but I will. There. I blogged about it, so it must be done. Did I mention I was behind on e-mail? Yes, that must be done, too.

On to a nugget of advice. Or not-so-really advice, moreso… Well, there’s this thing people have been talking about once again. “How to Be a Writer.” And, to some degree, I feel a lot of people out there really want to know how to be a writer. The craft is important to that and I’ve often lamented how that gets obscured by the popularization of writing, by the need to be validated for one’s storytelling in some, way, shape or form. That there are those of import; that publishing, even as a small press, is more valuable than sales. That one person’s preference matters more than the reader. Or that, more ominously so, readers don’t matter. Or readers are crucial. Or writers and editors do (and don’t) matter.

While all these myriad things may be true in the kaleidoscope of the publishing industry, and must be true, and have to be true, because the business is made up of people, not beans or bytes, I feel like one of questions is either wrong or isn’t being asked enough. The question shouldn’t be: “How can I be a writer?” The question we should be asking one another is: “How can I make a career out of writing?” But it isn’t. Because, circling back to that validation thing, some within the community has built up this lovely dream, that even if we don’t make money, that if we write one book or one story that everyone loves, that that’s enough. Because there are guideposts and milestones that a majority of the people out there have agreed upon that make one a writer.

But is it? Is that dream — and those fractured pieces of validation — enough? To feed oneself? To satisfy that deep longing?

The dream is important and part of being a writer, yes. Without it, why write? Why type any stories at all? Especially if you know there are no guarantees, there’s no happy endings or sad endings or in between endings. There is you, the blank page, and that’s it. And the only way to muddle through, to figure out what’s important, is to determine what you want to put on the page, when, why, and how much you’re willing to sacrifice to share what’s on there. To share. Some require money; others, platitudes. One kind word is enough to make someone stop writing; others? A lot of money. Still others, no money… but friendship… or cruel words… or bad reviews… or life… or whatever. That can kill the dream. But the dream must live. It must. Because without that dream, the stories will die.

The thing these past few weeks have forced me to realize is that we all can’t be the same type of storyteller, that we all don’t want the same things, don’t need the same payment for our work. For example, I don’t need or want to give free advice to people; conversations in bars and coffee shops help me get to know others and friendships are important to me. Reality matters to me. Others do need to hand out free advice like Halloween candy and like I’ve said before? Good for them.

However, it’s not just the storytelling or advice or careers that we differ on. It’s what we want to get out of writing. And I’ve come to this conclusion because I needed to. Because I had to understand the commerce of storytelling and what I want to get out of it, to put back that little piece I so desperately needed, erased by the nay-sayers and the nigh-lookers, that bit of magic wound up in a dream that’ll force me to answer the questions I know are being asked.

Is she really that nice?


Can she write?

I guess you’ll just have to wait and find out.

    Mood: Fairy dust
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Well, if I remembered that I’d be in good shape.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Lifting tissues, hand-to-mouth.
    In My Ears: “Apocalyptic Wasteland” from the Dredd soundtrack
    Game Last Played: Tetris
    Movie Last Viewed: Dredd
    Latest Artistic Project: … Been too long …
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

A Change Is In The Dungeon

I regret to announce that Thursday, September 13th was my last day for Steve Jackson Games. The more I got settled into the position, the more it became clearer to everyone that they needed someone down in Austin. Steve Jackson Games manufactures both toys and games and, as a result, everything that they do is very visual and requires on-site interaction and knowledge. Telecommuting can work to a point, but it’s not the same as being down there. The company is growing rapidly and my position as Marketing Director is crucial to their continued success.

While I was offered the position in Austin, I felt that relocating was not a good option for me. When I initially signed on, the flexibility helped take the pressure off of me so I could write, edit, and design games in my off-hours. I still want to do this crazy writing thing as a career and relocating for a full-time gig just didn’t jive with that goal.

I will still be connected to them through my work with John Kovalic and, of course, whenever I play their games. It’s an amicable, bittersweet parting but also a very emotional one. The staff is absolutely tremendous, highly-talented, and many of them are now my friends. Hard to leave such a great group and a demanding (but rewarding) job. There’s no doubt in my mind that everyone there will continue to fare well and make amazing games and toys.

If you’re interested in working with the company, be sure to bookmark the job opportunities page. I’ll likely write a few other posts about what I’m up to later this week or next.

Next Posts

Monica Valentinelli > 2012 > September

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