Happy Holly-Daze! And a Free eBook!

The Grinch Avatar

Scramble, scramble, scramble… Happy Holly-Daze! I hope you’re enjoying whatever flavor of winter feasts and festivities you happen to celebrate. In my house, we have traditions that last pretty much all December and through the New Year. Some of which are related to nom, nom, nom, noms. (I’ll make every attempt to share pictures when I get a chance. Knee-deep in cinnamon and flour and edible flowers and meat purses and bleach and beads and tape and stamps… Yeah, you get the idea.

Anyhoo, while every Who down in Whoville may be enjoying the finer presents of a merry sort… I’ve got a surprise for YOU. Well, it’s a touch on the bloody side, but… Um… You are talking to a writer who’s joyest joy of joys this year was to pick up The Twelve Terrors Of Christmas

Varney the Vampire Remix CoverAnyHOO. Remember that Galleycat contest I told you I won? Guess what? You can find a copy of the re-mix at no charge!

You can now download the entire Varney the Vampire: A Literary Remix eBook FOR FREE from Smashwords.

Yay! Here’s a link to the announcement at GalleyCat. More yay!

Before I go, the amazing, iconic, one-and-only SIR CHRISTOPHER LEE has released Christmas carols heavy metal style! A YouTube! sample for you of the songs available on iTunes below. Enjoy!

Listen, Then Get Off Your Bum

Fire She-Ra Avatar

Before I begin today’s passionate rant o’ fiery-ness, here’s what started this blog post. A comment I made on Facebook saying:

If I measured my success as a writer based on everyone else’s opinions of me, I’d give up right now. I don’t. I’m not writing for validation. I write because I love doing it and even though a professional career in storytelling is extraordinarily difficult — what *isn’t* challenging that’s worth fighting for? I write because I love it. And I’ll keep on writing, regardless of where I “end up.”

And, here’s a quote that meandered to me via Steven Long.

“I try to trust my instincts as much as possible. As a writer, all you do is have people tell you you’re wrong and you suck 24 hours a day, so if you don’t listen to yourself, you’re just going to end up in a mental institution.” — Amy Sherman-Palladino

Negativity is ridiculous in our world today and it can overpower you if you let it. I don’t want to be one of those people who wallows in the awful and is so affected by it I don’t act or write or do the things I want to do. Have I suffered from depression at times? Yes. Have I worked through it? Yes. Have I spread that negativity around myself on occasion? Yes. I’m human. I make mistakes. Then I put on my big girl panties, deal with the situation the best I know how, and get over it. I’m not consistent. I’m not perfect. I’m flawed and beautiful and myself in all its various forms. I am human — just like you.

Opinions about how valuable “you” are in any field, creative or not, are rampant. The bad ones can get to you, wear you down, make you feel like shit about the fact that everything you’ve done is for this moment — to be “X” — isn’t worth a pound of salt, but you cannot let that happen. You can’t. And I can’t either.

Nine times out of ten, when someone tears somebody else down, it’s a reflection on the ripper-upper and NOT you. It’s a power play. Low self-esteem on their part. Jealousy. A point of frustration. Sometimes, it’s not even about you. They had a bad day. They’re depressed. Somebody died. They’re ignorant about publishing. They have a specific belief about a writer’s career path that won’t be changed. Other times, when it sounds negative but it’s really not, it’s a little tough love that comes down the pipe. Do you want to give up? Are you really writing or playing Angry Birds Star Wars? What is your work worth to you?

Here’s the secret: whatever you do? It will never be good enough. As a writer, there are layers and layers of “validation” built into this community. Are you popular? Did you win a Hugo/Nebula/ENnie? Did you get a movie/book deal? Who are you published with? How many books do you have out? How successful is the TV/film series based off your books? Did Publisher’s Weekly give you rave reviews? There is always something wrong with you or your work — unless you’re so successful you’ve managed to move past that, but even then? The negative comments won’t stop just because you’ve “made it.” They just take on different forms.

There are positive comments in there, too. Some are said with total and complete honesty; others, to butter your ego or get something out of you. Like the negative comments, these can also overwhelm you if you let them because if you’re doing your “thing” for validation — you’ll stop whatever that is once you achieve that goal either consciously or subconsciously. You start buying your own bullshit. However, for the vast majority of the creative folks out there, positivity is hard won and hard earned, which is why it’s so easy to believe in that fake persona, that rockstar image you’ve built up for yourself. Pokes about why something’s bad are more common than why it’s good.

What I worry about, is what’s good enough for my work, my legacy of stories and games. I don’t do this to be selfish. I do this to “protect the Work.” (That’s a quote from Christine Merrill, by the way.) I work based off of what I value because if I’m always worrying about what everyone else thinks, outside of the editor/publisher/agent production cycle — then I won’t write and I don’t push forward. (It’s also important to remember the human side of the equation. There is such a thing as focusing on the work so much you forget you deserve to be treated well, too. I’ve done this and lesson learned!) Otherwise, it’ll always be about that one jerk reviewer. That asshole writer. That crappy publisher. An unsupportive family. Some douchebag on the street. And if you stop writing because of them — wherever that negative voice hails from — then you let them rule your life.

This, my readers, this is where moments of true weakness comes from. When you allow someone else to get so far into your head you stop being true to that awesome person inside yourself. I believe we are awesome. I do. But I feel like so many people allow themselves to be beat down by life, you forget the loveliness inside of you, and you get so tired your “fire” just gets snuffed right out. Don’t light a match — burn a torch! A bonfire! Roast marshmallows ’cause you’re on fire! You want to know why the assholes seemingly win? Two reasons: because we focus on that and highlight them instead of the brighter side, and because awesome folks like you have given up!

I don’t write because I’m desperate for other people’s opinions. (Some are necessary are part and parcel to doing business. I’m talking about straight up validation, here.) Everything I care about is with respect to the work, but even then there are times when snarky, overly-critical comments are made simply because there’s a personality conflict. When something bad happens, I whine and eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) I get over it and I keep going. This is not just about persistence, my readers, this is ALSO about being RESILIENT.

Resilience means the bubble around you is not a hard shield, but a flexible, bendy material. Sometimes, things will bounce right off you. Other times, it’ll sink in. Maybe YOU’RE having a bad day. Maybe you’re in pain, physically. Maybe you’re hungover. Maybe the past has stained you. Maybe you’re so focused on the words people are using instead of what they mean. Whatever the case, not everything will bounce off. That is NOT possible for anyone whose job is focused on words — because WORDS DO MATTER. The trick is recognizing those times and dealing with them appropriately, in your own way, so you keep on, keepin’ on.


    Mood: inspired
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: You’d be surprised…
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Gym, Gymanee.
    In My Ears: A dog, barking.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Awakenings
    Movie Last Viewed: The Hobbit
    Latest Artistic Project: Holiday gifts
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology

A World Ends… NOT!

Galactic Starry Space

I’m in stealth mode yet again today because I’ve had my fill of emotional roller-coaster rides brought to you courtesy of Facebook, Twitter, and the news. I love to read history; it’s fuel for characters, true… but I’m of the mind that old adage “truth is stranger than fiction” is eerily accurate. Supposedly, the world ends to-day. Hogwash and horsepuckey. (EDIT: Okay, I lied. I wrote this earlier in the week, and I had not one but TWO new release announcements that dropped on my head! So yeah, I did get back online to promote. And then got distracted by all the celebratory shenanigans…)

The next time you believe that we are somehow smarter and more sophisticated than our historic predecessors, remember the following:

  • NASA campaigned to educate folks on why the world is not, in fact, ending. [link] and another here to a myth-debunking article on Yahoo! [link]
  • The belief in the Mayan “Apocalypse” is not world-wide; this is a predominantly Western myth. What we encounter here in our culture is a fraction of what’s experienced elsewhere.
  • Remember Y2K??? — and we’re still kicking!
  • For every major date, milestone, and turn-of-the-century, there have been (and will be) a group of people who believes the world will end. That could be on a small scale, like a religious organization or cult, or on a larger, social scale. The spread of these beliefs will continue to evolve the more connected we become.
  • If you were born before 1999 and are still alive today, then you’ve experienced not one, but TWO of these purported major “end times” dates.

In addition to his performances, Houdini spent his life dedicated to debunking spiritualists. I could easily do the same with respect to the paranormal and the end times — but there is no modern-day need for that. Others, like Mythbusters, have already taken up that call. There will always be rumor and conjecture. I simply choose to err on the side of research. *shrugs* What can I say? Reading is fundamental. Education is crucial.

(Yeah, this post got a little more lecture-y than I was aiming for… Um… Go “End Times!” Okay, that didn’t work either. Hmm… A CafePress store capitalizing on the survival of yet another fakepocalypse? Am I that evil? No time. Ah well. Guess I’m better off pouring my energies into another story. Gee, how should the world end this time? So many options to choose from. So many…)

Annnnnnnnd as long as I’m committing all kinds of bloggery faux pas, I’m providing you with another reminder that the apocalyptic anthology We Are Dust was released this week. READ IT BEFORE THE WORLD ENDS!

    Mood: contemplative with a blend of listening and wondering
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Well, it was epic. I must admit.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Werk it gut
    In My Ears: Adele
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Awakenings
    Movie Last Viewed: The Hobbit
    Latest Artistic Project: Holiday gifts
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Review

The Hobbit Gandalf Avatar

I promised you a review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, so here it is! If you followed my blog last week, you know I spent a few days training for the midnight showing at our local Sundance theater. I bought the tickets COMPLETELY by accident; my brain misplaced the p.m. with a.m. So, there was a fair bit of juggling (and caffeination) involved to ensure that I’d be awake to drive at 3:30 a.m.

The theatre was packed. The lines jammed. There were three or four showings and all were mostly full. I, along with my fellow moviegoers, were caffeinated and totally psyched for this film. Other than a few cues of inappropriate laughter during the previews, all of which were shushed by the more somber folks around them, we were set. And then? It starts. A familiar song. A comfortable character — the version of Bilbo we’ve seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A familiar face. It’s Frodo as we remember him in the beginning.

Pay attention. This scene is important, for this reveals Jackson’s intent. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a true movie prequel. The film (with all its 48 fps glory) comes first, before the book. The Hobbit is reference material, but this is NOT a tried and true mirror of what happened there. The reason why this is a trilogy, is because the story will deepen and darken as time goes on.

But it doesn’t begin that way. And for some, this is why it feels anti-climactic. The events take place 60 years before Fellowship. Sauron has not regained his power — he’s not even close yet. The Nazgul? Don’t exist in the same form. This movie is where it all begins — but it can’t start with the epic journey we know is coming. It has to start somewhere. The One Ring wasn’t found intentionally. It was a freak accident.

I feel that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey emphasizes what Middle Earth was like before the shadows crept in and took over a corner of the world. This is more high fantasy, more adventure, more day-to-day/hack-and-slash, goblins and orcs and convoluted threats shaped around loss. The real story here isn’t about the One Ring, though that will likely emerge as the films continue, this is about the dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield.

I loved the story as it was presented here and feel that we’ll see more “reveals” in true prequel fashion as the trilogy progresses. This is still Middle Earth, and still the same setting responsible for the birth of other fantasy stories, games, etc. Tried and true? No, this is not a direct translation. But I’m okay with that. After all, what movie is? This is still Tolkien; and while it may be accurate (e.g. pulling material from other sources) it’s simply not precise.

I’m not sure I’ll do the midnight showing for the second film, but I’d prefer to see it on the larger screen. It’s a satisfying adventure on its own; I’m curious to see how Jackson will progress the One Ring story arc through the next two films on top of that.

    Mood: Orc Smash!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: At the moment? None.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: SNOWPOCALYPSE SHOVELING
    In My Ears: Buffy. Yep, she’s singing.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Awakenings
    Movie Last Viewed: The Hobbit
    Latest Artistic Project: Holiday gifts
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology

Announcing “We Are Dust” a New Apocalyptic Anthology Release

We Are Dust apocalyptic anthologyWhether or not you believe the world ends on Friday, I have good news for you! “We Are Dust” (an apocalyptic-themed anthology) was released yesterday! This end of the world collection of stories features my story titled “The Button,” which is a Lovecraftian-themed tale featuring a female nuclear physicist.

Download a copy of We Are Dust here.

“The Button” is loosely related to the Mythos and is written in first person. I also built out the world some to serve the character, the plot, and the theme. Creating new gods and writing about Romans was a lot of fun!

I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy this collection of fantastic stories. Forgive me if I got a little over-salesy… I’ve always wanted to tell people to read a story before the world ends — and now I have! The anthology is available in multiple formats for your Nook, Kindle, laptop and other devices.


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