Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The End of 2016 Wrap Up


So, here we are at the end of 2016. Finally. Jesus.
I’m about 20k words on the new book. It was stalled for a bit but a character from Tygers showed back up unexpectedly and the book took on a whole new life.  I’m excited for you guys to see it, but it’s going to be a while before it’s done, and even longer than that before it can be published. I’ve played with the idea of maybe serializing something in the future, though, via Amazon Createspace, maybe. Who knows.
So, being that we’re at the end of this year, that means it’s time to do the usual look back. The fact that I’m doing this big look back over the year on my birthday makes some of it even more maudlin. But, here we go:

We lost so many amazing artists. There’ll be plenty of people giving eulogies about them, so I won’t go into it here. Just know that the loss of Scott Weiland, Prince, and George Michael affected me deeply.
But nowhere near as deeply as the loss of Bowie. I did a whole entry on that subject but even that pales in comparison to what I actually feel. Of all the artists that have affected me in my life, Bowie is the single most important. The only other singer who has touched me as deeply is Jon Anderson from Yes. I’m almost afraid to even say that because it seems like death is listening.

And then there's the loss of Carrie Fisher, and I'm not even close to fucking ready to talk about what that means to me. 

I got through about 44 books this year. That seems to be about my pace these days.

Of those books, the ones that I gave 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads to were:

What we might call “classics”:
My Name is Asher Lev  Chaim Potok
The Quiet American  Graham Greene

Contemporary literary:
Here I Am Jonathan Safran Foer

Science Fiction
Illium  Dan Simmons

Trasngressive small-press works:
Down for Whatever Kris Kidd
Homo Superiors  L A Fields

Novi Sad  Jeff Jackson
Mira Corpa  Jeff Jackson
In Their Arms  Thomas Moore

Young Adult:
All American Boys  Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Gemina  Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Of them all, I would have to say that the biggest surprises came from the category of the small press transgressive LGBTQ works. I had already read Thomas Moore’s first novel, A Certain Kind of Light, and loved it. I was unprepared for the gut punch that was his second book. By the way, I would say all of this even if we weren’t on the same publishing imprint. He’s an extremely good writer. This year I also discovered Jeff Jackson’s work for the first time and fell in love with that, too.
But the biggest surprise out of all of them was Kris Kidd’s collection of poems. As I said in my review, I don’t read much poetry anymore…for a lot of reasons. I connected with Kris Kidd on Instagram when I first joined and decided to try out his collection because I liked his feed—his sense of humor and raw sexuality combined into an aesthetic that I really liked. I wasn’t ready for his poems, though. His precise control of tone and his brutal line edits left me speechless. If more poetry was like that, I’d start reading it, again.
I had picked up All-American Boys to cover the “multicultural/racial issues” portion of the YA Lit course I taught without really reading it ahead of time. It had high praise from sources I trust and that was enough for me. I quickly came to see how masterfully it was written, though. My students felt the same. Powerful work that seemed almost precisely timed to the way our world has devolved. I can’t recommend it enough.
Then there’s Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book. Something told me it was going to be a game changer when I pre-ordered it on Amazon, and that instinct was correct. I left a review on Goodreads so I won’t rehash it here, but this is a novel that I feel I’ll revisit in the future. I can’t say that for all of the ones I read, even the ones I like.


I bought quite a lot of music during 2016, as I tend to. Of all the albums that came out in 2016, here are the ones I purchased (and a quick rating):

Shape Shift with Me   Against Me!     4/5 stars
Invention of Knowledge  Anderson/Stolt   3/5 stars
The Madness of Many  Animals as Leaders    3.5/5 stars
PUSSY’S DEAD   Autolux    3/5 stars
Temper EP   Badflower   4/5 stars
Blackstar   David Bowie  5/5 stars (can one even rate a Bowie album, though?)
The Astonishing  Dream Theater  2.5/5 stars
Information   Eliot Sumner  5/5 stars
Beautiful Broken  Heart  3.5/5 stars
Post Pop Depression   Iggy Pop (and QotSA)  5/5 stars
Delirium   Lacuna Coil  3/5 stars
Not the Actual Events EP   Nine Inch Nails  4.5/5 stars
Sorceress   Opeth  4/5 stars
Sattelites in the Sky   Over the Effect 4/5 stars
Stranger to Stranger   Neil Simon  4.5/5 stars
Pure in the Plastic   Polyenso 2/5 stars
Renaissance   Polyphia  3/5 stars
Hollow Bones   Rival Sons  5/5 stars
Blue and Lonesome   The Rolling Stones  4.5/5 stars
RR7349  S U R V I V E  3/5 stars
Transmission   Starset  3/5 stars
Modern Primitive   Steve Vai  4/5 stars
57th and 9th    Sting  3/5 stars
Apricity   Syd Arthur    4/5 stars
Straight Outta Oz   Todrick Hall  5/5 stars
Outlier   Twelve Foot Ninja  4.5/5 stars
Rosetta   Vangelis 3.5/5 stars
Stay Away   Young and Heartless  4/5 stars
I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful,
yet so unaware of it                                                       The 1975  4/5 stars


The biggest surprise was Eliot Sumner. I knew on some vague level that Sting had kids, but I didn’t know any had gone into the business. Turns out 2 have, and Eliot is the better of the two. Information is a superb album, full of bleak soundscapes but also wonderful warmth at times. Sumner’s voice is…well, there’s no way to describe it. You just have to hear it. And I hope you will. This is a little album crafted to perfection and I wish more people would hear it. Second biggest surprise was Todrick Hall’s Straight Outta Oz. I don’t know why, but the mythology and stories of Oz never really meant a lot to me. The film I find actually rather boring, if I’m honest. But I know it crept into a lot of people’s lives as their narrative compass, so I try not to shit on it too much. Such is the case with Todrick Hall, who had been on my radar some, but for the most part I never connected to his work. Then I heard “Wrong Bitch” from Straight Outta Oz and became obsessed with the album. It is perfectly crafted, wonderfully performed, and has several layers of interpretation should you choose to go there. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. You won’t be sorry.
Rival Sons was a new discovery for me this year. They’ve been around for a long time, but I only just found them and I wish I had heard them earlier. This is what contemporary hard rock should sound like, and their latest album continues a trend of growth that they exhibit on each album (I immediately went back and purchased their entire back catalog). They are still growing, stretching, trying new types of arrangements without compromising the power of their music. Mike Miley is hands down one of the best rock drummers I have ever heard.
The biggest let down this year is a tie between Sting himself’s new one and Dream Theater’s new one. The idea for Sting, as he’s stated, is to always do what is unexpected. As he said, he hasn’t worked in the genre of straight ahead rock and roll in a long time, so the thinking behind the record was sound. The problem is the songs just aren’t…we’ll, they aren’t good. The few that I did like were the slower pieces that would have been more comfortable on Sacred Love than here. With Dream Theater’s newest concept album the problem is that they chose to work closer to the musical theater traditions of rock opera than the rock traditions and so there are so many songs which are simply characters talking to each other and advancing the plot. I prefer my rock operas more like Operation: Mindcrime, where the album consists of the major singing numbers. I’m sure this album is right up someone’s alley, but it just wasn’t what I was hoping for at all.

I saw quite a number of movies in 2016, as I tend to do. Here’s a list of the ones that came out this year that I saw in the theater and what I thought of them:

Ghostbusters   3/5 stars

Suicide Squad  2.5/5 stars
The Secret Life of Pets  1/5 stars
Star Trek Beyond  5/5 stars
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 4.5/5 stars
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice  3.5/5 stars
Central Intelligence  3/5 stars
Jason Bourne  2/5 stars
Now You See Me 2  2/5 stars
Deadpool  5/5 stars
X-Men: Apocalypse  3.5/5 stars
Captain America: Civil War  4.5/5 stars
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot  5/5 stars
Doctor Strange  4.5/5 stars
Keanu 4/5 stars
Hail, Caesar! 3/5 stars
War Dogs 3/5 stars
The Boss 3/5 stars
Midnight Special 3.5/5 stars
The 5th Wave 1/5 stars
Zoolander No. 2  2.5/5 stars
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3/5 stars
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children  3/5 stars
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 3/5 stars
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping 3/5 stars
Hello, My Name is Doris 4/5 stars
Passengers  4.5/5 stars
Arrival 5/5 stars



As you can see, what gets me motivated to actually go and sit with other people is not exactly what you’d call high-brown material. Still, the fact that someone is willing to go out to a theater at all in this day and age is a sign of something, I think.
The two best films, the ones that stuck with me, were Deadpool and Arrival. Deadpool for many of the obvious reasons that people are talking about, but also because of this: I have never cared about the character at all. I read a lot of comic books (or, I should say, ‘have read’—this year I decided to stop collecting—that’s an entry all to itself) but there are lots of characters I just don’t care about. Wolverine is the number one most overrated character in my book, but Deadpool is a close second. This film gets 5/5 for me because it actually made me care about that character, and not just in a passing way. This portrayal actually captured my imagination in ways that the Marvel mainstream heroes just don’t. Arrival captured my attention for the same reason it captured everyone else’s—mood, beautiful cinematography, a powerful performance by the lead, and a twist that actually lands and doesn’t seem superficial (VERY hard to do these days).
The biggest disappointment, as you can see from the rating, was Secret Life of Pets. I know it was just intended to be a little kid’s film, but I’ve seen those kinds of films still have some substance to them. This one works out to be one long Kevin Hart routine (and thank god he’s in it, because nothing in the rest of the film is at all watchable).
The biggest surprise to me was Central Intelligence. Look, it’s not going to win any Oscars, but it could have been just some silly throwaway buddy comedy. Instead, there was an actual bit of character building when the subject of school bullying is very honestly addressed in the framework of a big action comedy. I appreciated the effort that must have taken in today’s market-driven movie business.

When it came to TV, I was just like everyone else—addicted to Stranger Things. It’s worth all the praise people heap on it.
But a few shows snuck up on me, and the biggest surprises were The Real O’Neals and Speechless. Though I love comedy (or, some might say, because I love comedy) the standard primetime sitcom doesn’t really appeal to me. I wasn’t a huge fan, but when I saw through the veil to the fact that The Big Bang Theory actually makes fun of those of us in the “nerd” community and isn’t actually a show about us, I really checked out. But then ABC did this interesting thing (especially interesting seeing as how they belong to Disney): family-oriented sitcoms about families that are dealing with the unique issues of 21st century America. Not just warmed-over All In The Family rehashes, but truly engaged with the world we actually live in. Black-ish, Fresh off the Boat, The Real O’Neals and Speechless are trying to do something very bold. Of those four, TROs and Speechless are the ones that speak to me, and they are killing it. I suggest giving them a watch.
And then there’s this little show called People of Earth on TBS. It’s about a reporter who goes to do a puff piece on a support group for UFO Experiencers and discovers that he has been abducted. I already love that premise, but then you see the genius performances of Ana Gasteyer and Wyatt Cenac. Go to your On Demand and watch this little gem—you won’t be sorry.
And then there’s Lady Dynamite. What can I possibly say about this Netflix original show that won’t sound like hyperbole? Nothing. It is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. First off, there is Maria Bamford, who is already a stunningly genius stand up comedy performer, but then you put her in a show which both is and isn’t about her life and both takes place as a tv show but is also a behind the scenes show and simultaneously a metaphor for her own journey through therapy? That doesn’t come close to doing it justice. Take some time and go see this show.
One last mention for TV and that’s this: I watch a TON of stand up comedy. It’s my favorite thing in the world. That means watching a lot of specials, and so far in 2016 there have been some truly amazing pieces released. Here are the 3 best of 2016:

Faces and Sounds   Pete Holmes
Make Happy    Bo Burnham
Talking for Clapping    Patton Oswalt

Of them the best is Bo Burnham’s. He simultaneously entertains but also skewers the audience for being entertained by the material he is presenting. It is meta and laugh out loud funny and gorgeous.


I’m not going to take any time to talk about the election other than to say this: The biggest disappointment was coming to understand that people just didn’t bother to see beyond the bullshit. They bought his lies and now we all have to pay for it. I had gotten comfortable for 8 years thinking of our country as relatively safe, and this election has proven that it isn’t. That’s a hard slap in the face.

So, with that, I close out the year saying, as always, thank you for your support. I hope you’re following me on the social media listed over there on the right. If not, stop by, hit subscribe. It’ll be a hoot and a half. If you picked up a copy of any of my novels this year, let me say thank you. I appreciate the support. If you wouldn’t mind, please take some time to do a review of it (even bad reviews are good for sales in a way) over on Amazon or Goodreads. I’d appreciate it.

See you in the New Year!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

In Praise of Special Agent Monica Reyes


I apologize. We are W A Y overdue for November. Chalk it up to what has been a pretty horrific semester/year/what have you.

To say I was disappointed in the election results would be the understatement of the century. I'm going to try not to rant about it, though. Better to light a candle than curse the darkness, as Kevin Smith likes to quote.
No matter how good cursing the darkness feels right now.
I will say this, though, and that'll be the end of it (at least here): the "I told you so" that is coming to the American people when this man starts to really put his back into showing his ignorance and foolishness will be spectacular to watch. I just wish I didn't have to watch it from inside the borders of the very country he is going to crash into a mountain (or the borders of a heavily Republican state).
Steven Berman and I have finished the edits on Remains and I think we both agree that it is vastly superior to the version I submitted initially. He's a good editor, and I found myself mostly just nodding my head and mumbling "of course" while I clicked "accept change."
Speaking of, the lateness of this post does allow for me to let you know that Remains has a blurb!:

"Readers won't be able to resist seeing the story through to the end. Warren writes about the living and the dead of small, Southern town-life, and from that unearthing comes a sort of resolution, a sort of peace." - L.A. Fields, author of Homo Superiors

This is especially exciting because I liked Homo Superiors a great deal. 
Remember you can pre-order Remains.

In other writing news, a central character from the book I wrote last year has decided he needs to be in the current work in progress. That turns the book from a kind of solo POV "Big Trouble in Little China"-ish thing into a kind of buddy cop book. Maybe I'm just watching too much X-Files. 
As an aside on that note, how amazing is Annabeth Gish



I am about halfway into season 8, and I'd forgotten how good that season was, and mostly because of her character. I think because I got the subtle suspense of season 8 confused with the goofy "alien super soldier" nonsense that comes later. I'd forgotten a lot of details about the character of Special Agent Monica Reyes, too--the writers low-key linked her to the same cases that the first season of True Detective is based off of. (the Hosanna Church satanic abuse case) I love the idea that a psychic sensitive, an X-File in and of itself, is one of the agents assigned to these cases. I only wish there was more for her character to do. Much like Subcommander T'Pol, she is a fantastic character who is criminally underwritten.
Had Gillian Anderson left, and only Reyes and Doggett remained, I think I still would have watched.
At any rate, so now instead of being Derek Goldstein's book entirely, he shares it with Special Agent Bill Harper. That means nothing to you right now, but it will soon (I hope). 
So, with another semester winding down, and another Xmas on its way, we find ourselves here. Given the shift that is already occurring if you live in the US, I wish you good luck. Batten down the hatches and hopefully we'll all get through this bullshit for four years.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Gratitude

Sorry, folks. We're running a bit late here, this month. Here we go, though:

Things are going swimmingly here in the middle of nowhere. Fall is arriving slowly, which means we alternate days of regular human weather with days of hurricane force winds. I've finally found "lightweight" jackets that fit-ish, so it's not as bad as it has been in the past.
Still, there are a few days where we start out with the heater on and then eventually have to turn on the A/C at night. It's not exactly a circle of hell, but...  I'm trying to remember that any day without snowfall is better than any day with.
This city just isn't a good fit for me. I'm doing my best, and trying to remain thankful to even have a job and a place to live in the world as it currently exists, but... *sigh* Gratitude is a great idea in theory, but I find I'm not exactly wired that way. Still...trying...
Author copies of Narcissus came in. It's nice to get those off to people.




Of course, things can't go completely smoothly--there's been some sort of goof up between the cataloging company and Amazon. The result is that, though Amazon recognizes that I have 3 books, and that those books are selling, Nielsen Bookscan doesn't seem to have any information on the Narcissus. I don't track book sales because of any fear that Rebel is engaging in shady practices. Far from it. But I do like to know my sales figures. I know..."a true artist wouldn't care" says the peanut gallery from the 18th century.
I hope people who won contests and got copies will post some reviews soon, too. I'd like to know what people think of it. 
At the same time, I was sent a TV diary by the Nielsen company. I don't rate enough to get a box, but they are at least somewhat interested in finding out what TV I watch for their figures. I wonder what they'll make of my insomnia. "Why on earth did this guy turn the TV off from like eleven until three-thirty am, but then suddenly turn it back on?" Good luck interpreting that data *grin*
The new guitar, Sister Augustine, went off to the repair shop. I bought it online used as a project guitar. I thought I had it up and running fairly well until I went to change the strings and discovered there was even more wrong with it that the website (which shall remain nameless, but rhymes with music-toe-sound) was not as honest as they could have been about the condition of the guitar. They told me it had problems, just left out a lot of them to get me to buy it. Still, two weeks with the guys over at the shop and it plays beautifully. The guy who worked on it even said that, once he'd repaired the issues and gotten it set up professionally, it played "slicker than snot." I'm glad to have it home and working.
Currently reading Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff's YA SF novel, Gemina

The first novel, 2015's Illuminae was utterly fantastic, using elements of high postmodernism in textual features to create an immersive experience (the entire book is made to seem like a collection of files bound together as a final report on an incident). Gemina is the same. Though I dabble with elements of high postmodernism, structurally (especially in Narcissus), I'm not brave enough to go where they go and abandon the narrative prose connective tissue altogether. It's a ballsy experiment that I've compared with Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves. So far, Gemina does not disappoint. Full review will be up on Goodreads as soon as I finish reading it.
So, as always, from the middle of nowhere, we bid you peace and long life.
With the election just a week away, we're all going to need it.

Friday, September 30, 2016

I got a plant.

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                  September has been full of ups and downs.
                  Of course the biggest up is that Drowning Narcissus is now in print! 

I can't stay unbiased. I love that cover. Sven at Rebel Satori gives good book design. 
You can purchase the paperback direct from Rebel Satori here. You can also get it from Amazon here if you prefer, and of course Kindle here. If you like to e-read on something other than a Kindle, you can get those formats here. Shipping is taking a bit here, early on, because outlets haven’t picked up the book just yet, but they will soon. Thanks for being patient with us on the shipping.
I’m on pins and needles for the first reviews. I won’t lie—I really hope you guys like it. As I said, It took a while to get it right.
               So that sends Jacob off into the sunset. I hope the guy has a good life after all. I think he will.
There have been a few setbacks with Remains over at Lethe Press. The editor and I both agreed that the first part of the book, which I had meant to be a kind of voice over narration, just didn’t jive very well with the rest of the book. We’re revising now, which is exciting. To see this older book continue to grow and stretch and become more than it was is really gratifying. It means we’ve had to push back from our October release date to a much more realistic June or July next year release date. I hope you’re not too upset if you’ve already preordered. Trust me, you’ll be getting a much better book because of it. Again, thanks for being patient with us.
                  I gave a presentation on the current state of the publishing business and how to break into it at our recent literary conference. That was an interesting experience. I had to articulate some things that had only been ideas floating around in the back of my head. Did you know about Kindle Scout and Inkitt? I was only dimly aware. I have to be honest, I’m not really sure how I feel about crowdsource publishing. On the one hand, it will give new, diverse voices an opportunity to make it into print. On the other hand, consider that some of the most important and powerful works in literature are the ones people vehemently dislike on first read.
                  As I’ve always said, the thing I like most about conferences is the sort of paraconference that goes on at the dinner or the bar later. This was no exception. The conversation I had with Mark Spragg about the state of diversity in the business was phenomenal. Getting to talk to Linda Hogan about racial politics and Native American issues was unforgettable. It’s a privilege.
                  I also gave a workshop that went over much better than I could have ever hoped. I was trying something different than I normally do, but still in the same transgressive fiction vain. I was worried there would be that first few seconds of optimism and then that look people get when something isn’t working. Luckily enough, not only were they engaged, they all reported that new pieces were begun from the exercise. That makes me very happy.
                  It’s all a bit Scotty seeing the Excelsior for the first time. 


                  I moved from the office I’ve had for the last 6 years to a new office this month. It took a few weeks to get settled in, get all of my stuff up on the walls, etc. It’s starting to feel cozy, but it’ll be a while before it feels like home. I walked past the old office last week and it was very strange to see that door that greeted me every morning for 6 years and know I didn’t even have keys to it anymore.
                  I even got a plant.



                  I’ve been rewatching The X-files at night. The cat and I have a routine where we end the night on the floor (so I can stretch my back out) with only the kitchen light on so that those very dark black values that the director of photography gets on that show can really loom in the frame. I’ve discovered more than a few episodes in the complete boxed set that I never saw (and I thought I’d seen them all). I used to think I just really liked Scully as a character. I’m now obsessed with her. I wish I could have written for the show in its heyday, which was seasons 4 and 5, when it was firing on all thrusters.
                  Off to a dinner and raffle thing tonight. Chance to win $10K. I’ll be sure to let you know if I get it (I won’t, but wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants).
                  As always, thanks so much for your support. As soon as you get your copy of Drowning Narcissus, I hope you’ll consider stopping by Goodreads or Amazon (or both) and leaving a review. They mean the world to me, and help other people consider whether or not they want the book.
                  See you around Halloween!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The End Of The Beginning

Running a little bit late this month. Story of my life these last few weeks if I'm honest.
School is finally back in session. No more summers where I don't work. I've already turned in my schedule request for the rest of the year. This summer I'm hoping to do a section of mythology. I don't know if it'll go or not, but it sounds like a fun way to spend the summer if it does.
The department I work for has never been housed all in the same space. We finally decided that we wanted that a few years back and so the school has been renovating an older building on campus to house us all. Naturally, the subcontractors screwed up their schedules so even as school was beginning the word was that those of us who needed to move (some were already housed in the building) likely wouldn't be doing so until late in the semester. Then, suddenly, word came down that our offices were ready at the end of last week. Not wanting to be one who let things drag on (I'm a big believer in ripping the bandaid off quickly), I set up with the various offices that would handle the move to move me quickly. By close of business tomorrow I will be fully in the new office (progress updates on the Instagram feed). Thing is, I forgot how long it takes to get approved for keys. So now I've made life difficult for some people even though I didn't intend to, and even then, the likelihood is that it'll be late next week before the keys come.
Sitting in the office I've had for 6 years filled with nothing but boxes and with nothing on the walls feels very, very odd. The end of the beginning, if you see what I mean. 
I created a stressful situation without meaning to, so now whatever issues crop up that create a headache for me I just have to accept as asshole tax.
*sigh*
I only got about 14 books read all the way through this summer. It's not like there was going to be a pizza party if I did more, but I'm a little disappointed in myself. I spent a lot more time watching X-Files (not exactly an unworthy endeavor, but still) than reading. Almost as many books went on the Did Not Finish pile (which were then donated to the "free books" shelves outside our offices for students to take). I really have no patience for books these days. I mean, I could see that The Master and Margarita was an important book, it and I just never really connected.
Rebel Satori and I are working toward a September 13th release date for Drowning Narcissus. We're "in the chute," as they say around here, with that release date just a few days away. As soon as it is out, you can bet I'll be doing Goodreads giveaways as well as Twitter giveaways of both physical and digital copies, so stay tuned to things there. I'm hoping to have copies available at the business talk/workshop I'm doing around the 22nd.
Right after me, Thomas Moore has his next novel coming out on Rebel, too, and that is awesome--he's very good. It's an exciting time for small press publishing.
One book I am interested in is Mark Altman's oral history of Star Trek called The Fifty Year Mission

Billed as complete and uncensored, I'm very interested to see what he pulls and from where. It's a neat idea.
As always, thank you for the support. It means the world to me. Have a great September, make sure to leave reviews of the new book on Goodreads or Amazon as soon as you finish (they really help a lot), and we'll see you in October where I hope to have release date news for Remains coming from Lethe Press!
 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Obvious Joke


Already August. The summer is swiftly drawing to a close. Just two more weeks and I have to report back to work.
If I'm honest, though, I'm kind of ready for it. Last summer, when I was working on the book, it seemed like there wouldn't be enough time to get anything done. This summer, not really doing much heavy lifting, writing-wise, has been tough. The magick book is in early research phase, so the majority of the writing is spotty when it comes (though, I do have to send huge thanks to Sven at Rebel Satori for his suggestions re: books to help me understand certain aspects of magick in the contemporary world).
I've been to so many movies over the last two months that even I'm a bit movied-out. And that's saying something. Highlight was definitely "Star Trek Beyond"--it looks like the reboot universe, or what some are calling "the Kelvin timeline" will do the reverse of the other Star Trek movies (they always said even numbered Trek movies don't suck, but it looks like in the Kelvin reboot movies, it is the odd ones that don't suck). Lowest point was, unfortunately, "The Secret Life of Pets." To this day, a few weeks after seeing it, I'm still wondering how you make Kevin Hart not funny. The real surprise was "Central Intelligence." I expected just a joke fest, but there's actually a great message about bullying and a sweet storyline about moving on from High School trauma. I didn't expect that at all.
The book update is that we're just waiting on Library of Congress for Narcissus, so it could be any day now. Again, as I always say, keep an eye on Twitter for updates.
It's funny, but that microblog on Twitter is where the majority of my contact with you guys and with the world happens. When I started this blog, it was my primary way of reaching you. 
Today, just for giggles, I looked up the major stats of this blog.
It's strange to think about, but I've maintained this thing since June of 2008, about 6 months before Stealing Ganymede came out. That's crazy to think about. How much has changed in the last 8 years. For instance, back when I started this thing, a lot of people read blogs. Now people mostly get their contact from microblogging (mostly from Snapchat, really).
The statistics tell me most of you use Firefox over Internet Explorer. That's my setup, too. I was surprised that IE came in second, to be honest, and not Chrome (which comes in 3rd). The statistics also tell me that the majority of you are Windows users with the next biggest group being Mac users, which is common sense, but the interesting statistic is that the third biggest group are iPad users. There, too, you guys mirror my own usage. I get most of my information from my iPad. I honestly have no idea how I lived without it at this point.
Most of you who have read this blog are from America, but the shocker is that the next biggest group are in Russia, and then a real surprise--the third biggest group were French. Zdrastvootya and Bonjour, he said, making the obvious joke. Understand that if you are a reader of this blog who is gay and having to live in the horrible cultural atmosphere that Putin has created for you, my heart goes out to you. Stay safe and know that, no matter how horrible it is, it will get better at some point--madmen have a way of getting themselves taken care of.
Finally, the most interesting thing is that my two most popular posts are the one I did about how there were really 15 models of Cylon in the Battlestar Galactica remake, not 12 from January of 2009 (which you can revisit here if you like), and the one I did about the spider that appeared in an episode of Lost from October of 2008 (which you can revisit here if you like). Nothing I've written on this blog since has come even close to the numbers those posts still get to this day.
So what have we learned from all of this? Russian Windows users who read the blog via Firefox really like it when I talk about television, which is awesome, except that this blog is rarely about TV anymore.
If I'm honest, it's rarely about anything other than my frustration with how slowly the world moves in so many ways.
A whole lot of books have gone onto the DNF pile this summer. I'm just not going to sit through a bad book, y'know? As you can see from my Goodreads feed, the ones that have made it through haven't been very consistent, either.
Right now, I'm reading Charles Yu's novel, How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe
So far it is a really interesting take on time travel and regret. Really funny in spots, but also much more poignant than the title might lead you to believe.
So, downside? It's almost winter again.
Upside? You WILL get two books from me this year!
As always, thank you for the support, and I hope things are going well for you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Moonshine and Microsleep

Just getting back from family vacation. As I said last year, these are a fairly new thing for my family. For the longest time, vacation simply meant traveling to one anothers' houses, with my mom's house being the usual destination. We didn't do big vacations when I was a kid, either. The main one I remember was when my mother packed my sister and me into the van we owned at the time and took us to her oldest brother's house in Las Vegas. This time was about meeting my mother's current husband's daughter for the first time. There were lots of great moments and some awkward moments, as is to be expected. Overall, it went well.

 


The house we stayed in was ultra nice, even with the faux log cabin look. I'm going to miss that beautifully decorated waterfall-style shower, that's for sure. We spent a lot of time teaching the kids how to play pool, and discovered that pool hall rules vary quite a bit from state to state. Sampled amazing moonshine from different distillers. Got lots of time on the porch to contemplate life and the future. Started working on a fingerpicked way to play "House of the Rising Sun."
As I always talk about, though, it's the travel to and from that creates the problem for me. I love getting out and seeing the country from the road, noticing the changes in how houses look and the differences in how people talk. I love it. But microsleeps were a serious problem this time around. I won't bore you with the details, but there were a few times where I found myself millimeters from disaster. I think my time as a long-haul driver may be coming to an end. And with my intention to never set foot on an airplane again if at all possible, that's going to have consequences.
It'd be nice if just once a conference or a vacation could be west of dthe Mississippi river, though.
So that was a nice break from things for a while.
As I've said, I have two books that I'm currently working on, the sort-of magick book, and what I have started to think of as the bdsm book. I like them both, but the magick book is starting to interest me more. I know it's unfair to say so far in advance, but I can't wait until you meet Sharky Jones.
As part of the research for the magick book I'm reading some books I normally wouldn't delve into. One of them is James Wasserman's In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult 1966-1989

So far, I have to admit, it's not quite as...what should I say..."juicy"...as I had hoped. The style is rather plain and matter-of-fact about things that seem really sensational. I'm hoping that changes as the book goes on. Already, though, I've found it fertile territory for interesting ideas for the book (please note: I'm not necessarily interested in how "correct" it is. I understand that it is one young man's account of his own experience in a highly experiential, subjective world).
And, no, I'm not at all interested in joining a Thelemic order or taking up any of the other things that I'm studying. This is the research/first draft phase of the book where it can wander and stretch in any direction it wants before I begin to shape it in 2nd draft. At this point, I believe, it's most important for me to say yes to whatever interests me and find a way to make it work for the book.
You should see what I had to read and watch for Stealing Ganymede, y'know? But I am not any of those things.
Just the research is all. 
In Jacob Trilogy news, we're moving swiftly along. Proofs have been gone over and we have a layout that looks fantastic. There should be news on that front very soon. Keep watching on Twitter for updates.