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" 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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Boxes and stairs

The semester finally ended and I'm on Summer break, now. Already a little stir-crazy, if I'm honest. Last summer I was hard at work on the book that got finished back in December (which I'm trying to place as we speak). I do have two works in progress, but I'm finding it a bit hard to dive into them. Not quite sure why. Been hard to get into reading, too. I think I've only read a handful of books over the last five months or so. Not sure why on that one, either. It feels odd to not be very interested in the two activities that define me most.
Maybe I needed this summer break more than I knew. Good to have time to catch a breath.
Still, what books I am reading are reviewed over in the sidebar to your right (or you can go directly to my Goodreads) if you're interested.
Had the odd feeling creeping in that I should downsize my home library. Just keep the books that I dearly love and donate the rest. I wonder if that's even feasible, though, given how many boxes and stairs that would equal out to.
I could weigh in on the presidential race here in the United States, but it would just turn into a rant. The issue seems so clear to me that there is only one candidate that is acceptable and experienced enough to lead the country forward, but I'm so tired of having the argument...and of hearing the arguments, too. I've said before that my politics don't match the politics of the people in the state in which I've found myself. Never has that been more evident than the last six months.
I had hoped we'd have some movement on the last book in the Jacob trilogy, Drowning Narcissus, but nothing quite yet. Keep watching on Twitter and Instagram for the breaking news. 
Speaking of, on Twitter I hit 500 followers! I can't thank you guys enough for that. I'm particularly proud of it because, while some are certainly bots (that's unavoidable these days), I haven't paid for a single one of the follows. There are lots of opportunities to do so, but I refuse. Sure, I don't have the thousands of followers other authors might, but I am not going to get those followers by...cheating? I don't know if that's the right word, but that's how it feels.
The Instagram experiment has paid off well, too. Not only have I found some great new authors, some have discovered my works, too. It feels like Twitter felt back in 2014 over there, and that's really nice. 
My big present to myself for making it through the last year (the last 2 years, really) was to move up to a larger Macbook.

The 13 inch served me so well and I loved it, but my giant hamhock hands were just too crowded all over themselves. I'm a lot more comfortable, now. By the by, I use Gazelle to recycle my old electronics. They don't pay me to say this, but you should, too. Highest payment offers (I checked) and also super fast payments. Just always make sure you're doing the full clean on something like a laptop--sure the 7 pass cleaning or whatever takes longer, but the knowledge that your info is well and truly cleaned is good. Nuke and Boot is another option, as long as you have the OS disc to do a quick reinstall.
Lacuna Coil just dropped their 8th studio album, Delirium

You know what a huge fan I am of their work. That dropped-D hardcore metal with a female voice soaring over it? I'm 100% in. But, to be honest, some of the latest work had grown a bit lackluster. I think they'd say the same, but the new album, Delirium, kicks like a pissed off mule. The infusion of new blood into the band has saved them from where things were going. The first four tracks are an all-out assault on the senses, and I love it. Recommended.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Food for Thought

If you've been following me on Instagram, you've noted that April has not exactly come in quietly. Spring, it seems, has forsaken the city in which I live. It's nearly May, and the high today was 41. I am less than pleased, to say the least.
What does please me, though, is that Remains, the book that I told you last update I had sold to Lethe Press, has a cover! Here it is:
Boss, eh? Also, so thematically on point that when I first saw it, I nearly dropped my phone. But wait, it gets better! Would you like to pre-order the book to make sure you get your copy ASAP? You can do that! Just follow this little linkerino right here. 
While you're there, have a look around, maybe snag another title or two. Remember that your purchases help support small press.
The last book in the Jacob trilogy has a rough draft cover at this point. We're hoping to finalize soon so that I can make a big cover reveal. Remember to follow me on Twitter and Instagram for updates like that. 
Still no agent to report for the current book. Lots of encouragement--lots of them say that they like the premise, but just couldn't figure out how to sell it. To be honest, maybe I need to go back to what I originally thought of the book and stop barking up what might be the wrong tree. Maybe this isn't a book for mainstream publishing houses. Maybe it needs to be on a small press to find the right audience. Food for thought.
Another semester swiftly winds to a close. Pretty ready for that, tbh. There's a family vacation to look forward to, true, but I also just need some time away from the continuous barrage of bad news. If there is a profession more hated than English instructor in this country, I'm sure I don't know it. It seems we can't seem to even catch a break with legislators and administration.
As always, thanks for your support. If you've read either Stealing Ganymede or Silencing Orpheus, would you be a lamb and stop by either Goodreads or Amazon and leave a review? I can't even begin to explain to you how much they help.
Here's hoping May calms down and starts to look more like Spring for all of us. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

RE: The Fishing/Cutting Bait dilemma

Huge snowstorm blew in early this morning. From my back window I cannot see the steps leading from the parking lot to the pool, anymore. That's...that's a lot of snow. No work, but even so my mind is already on the mess of trying to dig the car out tomorrow.
Oh well, in the meantime there is Earl Grey tea with honey and Youtube videos of people much more skilled than I am playing the game, "Adrift."*
The contract came back signed, so as of yesterday, I can (and did) announce that I have sold my novel, Remains, to Lethe Press. We're hoping to have it out around summer of next year. It's been a strange journey for that book. One of the first things I ever wrote, an early draft actually won 3rd prize in a contest back in 2003. Unfortunately, I couldn't turn that into a publishing contract at the time. So, since then, I've been tinkering with it, doing little edits and polishing passes as I learn more and grow as a writer. I finally felt at the end of last year that it was time to fish or cut bait, as they say. I started to query it. And I started with Lethe because I seriously dig what Steve Berman is doing over there--LGBTQ horror and speculative fiction alongside the more expected (but not unwelcome) romances and erotics? That's some cool stuff. Remains is a very different book than the Jacob Trilogy (more news about those books in a second) that I have available over at Rebel Satori. Whereas those books are very transgressive and experimental, this book is a much more traditional setup. As I was writing it, it reminded me a lot of mid-career Stephen King.# Kind of Gerald's Game-y. Kind of what might have happened had he written The Regulators much much earlier in his career and with gay characters. I hope you'll enjoy it--it's had a long road to seeing the light of day. More news on that once we get started working on it in the bottom half of the year.
Speaking of the Jacob Trilogy, we're gearing up on the final book, Drowning Narcissus. Just this week, Sven sent me a rough draft of the book cover design and I love it. I've always said that I've been really lucky in that the designs that Rebel Satori had for my novels are designs that I like a great deal. This one is no exception. I think you guys are going to love it. So we're working on getting that from rough to final draft and as soon as that happens I'll do a cover reveal on Twitter and Instagram--are you following me on those platforms yet?
Meanwhile, I'm still shopping the book I just finished writing. Unfortunately, one of the presses that I automatically thought of as the best place for the book can't fund any more acquisitions from non-Canadian authors for a long while, and the other press just flat out isn't accepting any new unsolicited submissions until they get caught up (which probably won't be any time soon). So, for the first time in my career, I'm looking for an agent. That's not going swimmingly, unfortunately, if I'm honest. Much like Remains and the Jacob Trilogy, the new book doesn't fit easily into any one category. I don't blame agents for being skeptical, I really don't...but I really think this book is special and I hope someone will believe in it as much as I (and my amazing beta readers) do and help me find a great home for it.
Finally getting a chance to read David Mitchell's first novel, Number 9 Dream

I swear, if I can become half the writer he is, I will consider myself very successful, indeed. While I admit that Black Swan Green was not my favorite, and that The Bone Clocks had some moments that weren't magnificent, Mitchell is exquisite more often than not, and it is humbling to see he was always so, even this early on. I highly recommend this book.
Finally, a word about "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," since the whole world is weighing in on it. As I said immediately after seeing it, I almost wish I had hated it--that would be easier to explain than why I actually mostly liked the film. You'll recall that upon first watching, I violently disliked "Man of Steel." It took about 4 rewatchings, and a major overhaul at DC Comics itself for me to understand something that helped me toward liking BvS. Zack Snyder isn't trying to make a fun movie. The intention isn't to make us laugh and empathize. How on earth could we empathize with Batman or Superman? Instead, he's creating a meditation on the ways that superheroes fit into our messiah belief/need structure. In many ways, he's doing the same thing that Frank Herbert was doing with Dune and that Heinlein was doing with Stranger in a Strange Land.
In other words, Snyder is exploring the question: why do we desire a messiah? Also, he's asking the question, what do we tend to do to them once we find them? These were the questions Heinlein and Herbert were already asking, and to them Snyder adds--and are superheroes our modern way of understanding our own messiah drive?
You'll recall that neither of those novels were particularly "fun" or "funny." This leads to an understanding of why the backlash has happened from many people who have seen the film--we don't exactly like having one of our major weaknesses as a culture shoved in our face. That line "Superman never really existed" (or something to that effect) and the constant vacillation of "save us, wait, no, we don't like you saving us because it shows how weak we are" is not just something the humans who live around the superheroes in the films experience. We, as an audience, are made to deal with that not-so-pleasant aspect of ourselves, too, through the course of the film. Worse, we're shown that this particular Superman, unlike the George Reeves or Christopher Reeve interpretation, was not born with an automatic sense of right. He is not inherently a messiah figure. He also didn't have the strong moral compass of his father to raise him as the Tom Welling interpretation did. He's learning to be one as he goes, and we're seeing his humanity, his mistakes. After many rewatchings, I now understand that is why I didn't like "Man of Steel"--I couldn't get past all my Reeves' baggage.
Muad'dib was not born until Paul went to Arrakis. Valentine Michael Smith was not inherently good when born--he didn't become so until he was among humans for a while. Likewise, this Superman
has to spend some time learning to be good, especially in a dark world, such as the one Snyder has presented us with.
When you view the film through that lens, less as a fun way to enjoy some superhero adventure and more as a thoughtful examination of our desire to be saved and our discomfort with that desire, the film is good. Does it do that as well as other films have? No. But it isn't as horrible as many of the critics (who, let's be honest, are often more surface watchers scrambling for a hot quote to get into circulation on twitter than seriously studying the film they are watching) would have you believe.
So there's my 2 cents.
As always, thank you so much for the support! I hope you're as excited for the final book in the Jacob Trilogy to be released as I am!
See you next month.

*= As you may or may not know, I don't play videogames because I am amazingly bad at them. I'm not kidding. You wouldn't believe how horrifically poor a human being can be at something that is supposed to be fun. Still, if I were to play a game, this one would be it--it has me seriously tempted.
#= Mind you, I am in no way saying I'm as good as King, just that the book has a similar feel to me

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rebbe Potok's Shot

Interesting things are happening over here, but unfortunately I can't tell you about them yet. I hate it when other people do this, but I'm afraid I can't be any more specific. So consider this a kind of placeholder--keep watching this space for further updates.
The Instagram experiment is working out, so I will definitely be keeping it (link on the sidebar--if you're on Instagram, come follow my account for daily hijinx). As it turns out, it's a great place to find interesting artists and new authors.
Twitter has been a great platform for a long time, a good way to stay in touch with you guys and keep updated on things. However, I think we can all sense that it is a dying platform at this point. It's starting to feel a lot like Myspace did toward the end--everyone on there is only there to shill their books or albums (said the guy who is on there trying to shill his books). Still, it felt different back in 2012 and 2013. I think the algorithm decision put a nail in the coffin.
I had the opportunity recently to get back together with some friends of mine who have left for greener pastures. We were all young folks who met in the workplace we all shared and we were determined to make a difference there. In the end, though, it became clear that the upper management had no intention of making any changes for the better (or enforcing rules that many were pretending didn't exist). Think Ned Stark going to King's Landing and you'll have an idea of how the whole thing went down. So two of my friends moved away. It's rare that we can all find ourselves in the same city, but we managed it this last week and it was magnificent. The band was back together, y'know?
It's always hard to come back from something like that, though. Just like coming back from a conference. It was an exciting thing that helped me get through the terrible weather by giving me something to look forward to. The weather is better, now, though, and we're coming up on Spring Break, too. That'll help.
I recently read Chaim Potok's novel, My Name is Asher Lev

To say it was powerful would be an understatement. I can't recommend it enough, especially if you are an artist of any kind in these pragmatic, conservative-minded times. The takeaway from the novel? If you're an artist, if you want to be relevant at all, you have to tell the truth, even if it hurts people. Even if it hurts people close to you. Even if they're unlikely to like what you do.
Boy, can I relate. So, a very belated thanks to Rebbe Potok for a much needed shot in the arm to keep me going.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Our Great Trickster Figure

The death of Bowie still has me knocked for a loop, to be honest. I mean, a lot of people were affected by Bowie's death, so that's nothing new, but I still feel that most people had really stopped listening. Hence that last entry that I called a late-stage Bowie retrospective. As I said there, late-stage Bowie, with his intentionally in-your-face imagery and lyrics, his Scott Walker-inspired atonality and Jazz sensibilities...that was MY Bowie. Many mourn the loss of Ziggy and The Thin White Duke, but those personae were already gone. But late-stage Bowie was still here, still producing work. And now he's just gone.
When I turned in the final draft of Drowning Narcissus back in October of '14, and one of the characters wondered about living in a post-Bowie world, I had no fucking clue that world would come less than two years later.
We live here, now.
Our greatest Trickster figure is gone.
Some have asked me for recommendations about the best Bowie biography. To me, it's always going to be Marc Spitz's Bowie: A Biography

If you follow me on Goodreads, I gave this one 5 stars it's so good. Until Angie, Iman, or Zowie (Duncan) come out with books, this is the one I'd say get. Who knows...maybe Bowie wrote one himself and it will come soon.
That would be lovely.
The weather here in this state is oppressive as ever. 75 mph gusts when the temperature is already hovering just under freezing. The politics in this state are oppressive. It's hard not to start feeling like the lyrics to Zep's "Ramble On" in some ways.
I submitted the latest book to the first agent at the top of my list and waited two and a half weeks for a response. Normally, in the old days of paper submissions, that wouldn't even be enough time to make sure it had gotten to him or her. Since this was an electronic submission, though, I feel fairly confident that was a no. In talking with a fellow writer, though, I found out that the press I wanted to place the latest book with takes un-agented submissions, anyway, so I put the packet together and shipped it off. Fingers crossed!
I also finished cleaning up one of my oldest novels...a book that predates Stealing Ganymede in many ways. It's been a long process because that book needed a lot of help. Once it was done, though, I immediately queried another press that I think would be a great home for it. That editor is reading it as we speak, which makes me very happy. Fingers crossed there, too.
Wouldn't that be a hoot--three books from me all coming out in rapid succession.
A new work already in progress. It came to me after a strange dream I had about the actor Chris Owen. School has started once more, so I'm not finding a lot of time to work on the book right now, but it's on my mind.
Michel Houellebecq's latest novel, Submission
wound up on more than a few lists of books that one needs to read, so I took a chance on it. I'm woefully underread in French authors, especially contemporary ones. Still, this seemed very interesting, especially in light of my dawning awareness of how French society has changed in the 21st century (especially in the wake of the Paris Attacks). I can say that the book did not disappoint--it's provocative, especially in regards to contemporary views on academia and Islam. I have to admit that the ending felt rushed. I could have lived with this book for a long time (as with Philip Roth's The Human Stain, which this book reminded me of more than a little). Not a book for the faint of heart, though the punch comes not so much in the prose itself, but in the thoughts you find yourself thinking because of the prose.