I’m the worst

I can assure you, I am very much alive and very sorry that I have been so remiss in posting updates.  I am still writing (when I can).  I still hope to get some more books out.  Honestly, I just want to get another book out.  It’s been entirely too long.

But, here’s what I’ve been working on.  Since it is November, I am, of course, participating in National Novel Writing Month.  For me, NNWM is about writing rough drafts.  So, I am working on a new, stand-alone urban fantasy called The Necromancer.  It’s a fun story and I think that there’s a ton of meat on the bones.  It does say some thing about the story when I am so far ahead of where I “should” be with regards to the goals of NNWM.

I am still showing around my short story Twenty Steps, and trying to find an artist to turn it into a graphic novel.  So….if anyone is interested in partnering up to make something really cool, hit me up!  And before anyone worries, I am not interested in finding someone who wants exposure.  I want to have a partnership.  It should be mutually beneficial.  I’m a storyteller, not an artist.

I’ll try to do better in the future with my updates.

 

–CL

Listening to Music Whilst Writing

So, in addition to my love for my family, writing, brewing, reading, baking, lists, and sarcasm, I have another love – perhaps my oldest: music.  I have been singing and playing music for longer than I can even remember.  I’m not saying that for drama – I literally have made music for longer than I can remember.  My mom would likely say that I loved to sing as early as I could speak.  I’m not claiming to have a great voice, but when it comes to singing, I am certainly enthusiastic.

Before there was MTV, I loved music.  And I’m not picky.  I love it all.  I have deep places in my heart for Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis Pressley, The Beatles, Mrs. Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra (who I actually got to see sing in person many years ago – but that’s another story), and many, many, many more.  I love good rock.  I love metal.  Classic R&B? Sign me up.  Oh, you’re listening to Cheap Trick or Rush?  I’ll be right over.  Kenny Rogers or Lionel Ritchie?  Yep.  Love it.  Don’t even get me started on my love for the music of Neil Diamond.

Currently, I have been listening to a few different bands while I write.  So, I figure why not share?  Here are a few of my current favorites:

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TRON: Legacy  Soundtrack by Daft Punk.  I have enjoyed listening to this soundtrack for years at this point.  In most cases, when I sit down to write, I put on my headphones and queue up this album.  It’s excellent.  Very few words/lyrics to distract, but there is a great beat and – in my opinion – Daft Punk has written a modern symphony with this soundtrack.

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2112 by Rush.  I am a wholly unabashed fan of Rush.  This Canadian trio is – to my ear- about as good as progressive rock gets.  To say that I am a fan belittles my affection for their work.  I love most of their albums, but 2112 (as well as a few others) holds a special place for me.  Not only is the “A” side of the album a ludicrously ambitious science-fiction story, but it’s also just great music.  I will usually listen to this before I start writing to put me in the right frame of mind for doing creative work.  If you listen to the “A” side, you’ll understand why this album helps me get ready to be extra-creative.

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Emperor of Sand by Mastodon.  This is a brand new album (released on 31 March) from one of my favorite bands.  The album tells an excellent story, and the energy of the music just brings my spirit up.

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“Awaken, My Love” by Childish Gambino.  Ok.  I know that this album doesn’t exactly seem to fit into the rest of this list.  But trust me, it’s a great album.  It has this awesome vibe of mid-70s rhythm and blues.  It’s just ideal for being mellow.  When I said I like pretty much all music, it’s not about trying to impress anyone – I’m well-past the age of caring about someone’s opinion of my musical preferences.  I just like good music played/performed by talented artists who want to do something awesome with music.

I have many others to whom I listen, but those are the current three that are helping aid my work.

 

What I’ve learned – six months in.

As a self-published author with a few sales (THANK YOU!), I will now impart what I have learned from the experience – so far.

  1. Writing is tons of fun.  Writing for yourself is super fun.  Writing for your friends and family is fun, but can be very stressful.  Writing for complete strangers, in hopes that they will like your story?  Fun but terrifying.
  2. Reviews are worth their weight in gold.  Any review.  Seriously ANY REVIEW.  Turns out, people aren’t interested in reading the first book from a freshman author when they have no expectation of quality.  Hence reviews and their importance.  More on this in another post.
  3. Writing the second book of a series is WAY harder – though much more fun – than writing the first.  The first is just me trying to see if I can do anything worthwhile with my story.  The second book is essentially me saying, “Yep, I can do this.  And I’m going to keep doing it.”
  4. Editing and revising (E&R) never seem to get easier.  All can say on this matter, at least, I’m making different mistakes.  E&R is where the meat-and-potatoes of writing happens.  Anyone can put words on a page.  Very few get it right on the first try – I certainly don’t.  It takes discipline actually to take the edit/revise steps seriously.

 

So there’s what I’ve learned.  Make no doubt, I’m not complaining about any of these things.  It’s been super fun so far, and I hope that it will continue to be fun.  I have tons of story ideas, all I need to do is add 14 hours to each day so I can write all of them.

CL

About my story: The Toothfairy

So….aparently there are a few people who have expressed interest in my story: The Toothfairy.  It was just me playing around.  I like storytelling.  Storytelling, to me, is just so cathartic.  So The Toothfairy…. It’s not my usual story.  Hell, it’s not my usual genre.

Several months ago (August?) I was informed of an open call for short stories of the “Creepy, weird or skin-crawly” variety.  I don’t really enjoy the horror/suspense genre, I get bad dreams from such things.  I still shiver when I think of The Dollhouse in the Attic.  Even though I read it cover-to-cover, at least, fifteen times.  But, for some reason, I felt compelled.  I like a challenge.  So what would I write?

I wanted to write a story that didn’t go the way you’d expect.  And then I wanted to tell a story about something that never made sense to me as a kid.  And I remembered how the whole concept of the Toothfairy never made any sense.  Even as a kid, I had questions.  But, hey, a quarter is a quarter (this was many, many moons ago).

My questions came from the fact that my dad is not exactly the type of person who’d tolerate someone creeping into our house and doing anything that might mess with or scare his children.  My mom is not the kind of person who’d tolerate it either.  I just think that in the grand scheme of things, mom would shield my brothers and I and dad would’ve charged in like a knight errant bent on a singular task: removing the perceived threat to his family.  Trust me, growing up, dad was a flipping superhero.  But don’t make any mistake, it’s not like mom wasn’t capable of defending us.  She just would’ve been more than happy to let dad do his thing.  Turns out, when it comes to my dad on this matter the sayings are true: Once a Marine, always a Marine.

So here I am, age six, I’ve lost my first tooth.  I vividly remember it.  I had just gotten to school when I stopped to get a drink from the fountain when I saw some blood.  I pulled the tooth and kind of froze.  Once I accepted that it was perfectly normal, and it wasn’t because I was a poor flosser (which I was), I took the now detached part of my face to my first-grade teacher.  She – having seen this type of scene a million times, grabbed a few tissues, balled them up and pressed them into service to staunch the flow from my jaw.  She then dutifully packaged up my tooth and told me she’d hand it over when the day was over.  She was worried, as was I that I’d spend the day looking at it and eventually would lose it.  She was most assuredly correct.

The next morning, there was incontrovertible proof of the existence of the Toothfairy.  Where’d he (I always pictured this particular Fey creature as male) get the quarter?  What did he do with the teeth?  Was this the same Toothfairy as the rest of my classmates?

So I wrote the story and tried to answer those critical questions.  Apparently a few people like it.  I’m very glad for that.  As far as the journal which put out the open call, they politely rejected it.

On 2015

What a year.  2015 might be the best year ever.  Well done 2015, you managed to make it happen for 365 continuous.  Did 2015 call out sick when Fallout 4 was released?  Nope, 2015 continued right on.

It’s rather weird to me how easily I can come up with such random crap like that.

So….2015.  Interesting year.  A year of changes.  My wife (Julie) and I had our first child (Spudford).  I published a book.  I read a whole mess of books – which is always a good thing.  I reviewed a few books, some for fellow first-time authors.

All-in-all, I’d give 2015 an A-.  Great, but room for improvement.

Christmas….traditions.

So it’s Christmas.  I know that my ambivalence towards this highest of the high Capitalist holidays makes me somewhat odd, but turns out I don’t care.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the love-fest that is Christmas.  Everyone calls everyone and wishes them well.  That I can get behind.  And I love all the crazy traditions people have.  My family is no different.

Allow me to paint you a scene from one our better Christmases.

When I was growing up, the tradition was, me, and my two brothers would be told the night before Christmas day what the earliest time we were allowed to wake the house.  Usually, it was six in the morning.  Which meant we were up at about four.  We would, stealthy as the three stooges, sneak downstairs in hopes of calming the roiling tumult of crazy, only to find that we – by “sneaking” downstairs had just poured gasoline on a bonfire.

So there’s my brothers and me, having sneakily snuck downstairs to look at the extraordinary proof of Santa’s existence, now trapped downstairs.  Because we all know that a) we cannot return to our beds because if we try to we are just going to be counting seconds as if they are hours and; even worse, b) we cannot stay in the living room (where the tree was) because we are having a lot of issues at the moment with our individual self-control.

Eventually, five in the morning would come around and my dad, no doubt already awake and very aware of our capering, would wake our mother and then he would come downstairs.  Normally, Dad’s a pretty stoic guy.  Don’t get me wrong, my Dad is awesome.  Super-reliable and just filled with wisdom and knowledge, and always ready to help.  Just a great all-around Dad.  He would come downstairs and in the glory of Christmas tree lights, he would be smiling like a loon.  He would match our enthusiasm seemingly with child-like glee.  He would tell us to wait for mom to wake up, and would go to make his morning coffee.

His coming downstairs was the signal to my brothers and me that our non-silence could stop.  The house would explode into noise.  Three boys wishing their father Merry Christmas – exuberantly.  Dad, enthusiastically returning the happy greeting.  About ten minutes later, Dad is sipping his coffee while keeping an eye on all three of his sons, Mom would come downstairs.

My mom is great.  Awesome cook.  Great hugs.  Stern but not too much.  And trust me, she ran (and still does) the home.  She would show up and the noise of Christmas would renew as if somehow her presence meant that Christmas had well and truly arrived.

Eventually, presents opened, pictures were taken and all the usual chaos of the holiday would be past.  Dad would grab a couple trashbags and would begin overseeing the cleanup, mom would start making breakfast.  Usually, this happened around seven, seven-thirty.

Then came the tradition.  Now my family will likely not recognize this as a “true” family tradition, but it exists nonetheless.  I imagine it exists in nearly every home on this day.

I am the oldest, so I usually had much more staying power for the energy requirements of a child at Christmas.  But by nine in the morning, all the toys and games having been ogled, my brothers and I would crash.  It took me a few years to really realize this, but the whole house would just kind of pause for an hour or three, mid-morning, for a post-Christmas-morning nap.  There’s the tradition, a nap.  One of my favorite parts of the day.

Now don’t get me wrong, we have many traditions in my family.  Some are more embarrassing than others, but the post-present nap is one of my favorites.

Now, my wife and I are making all new traditions.  Watching Doctor Who and eating sushi.  Plus with our new little one – Spudford (obviously not a real name) – new traditions will be coming.  Because, let’s face it, Christmas is awesome, but it truly shows itself in the exuberance of children.

Merry Christmas all!  Now I’m off for a nap.  It’s weird how I still want a nap right around nine in the morning on Christmas day…..

 

–CL

On taking the plunge

Like many authors before, I have often wondered what it would be like to take the proverbial plunge and be a full-time writer.  To exit my full-time, steady job and take up writing as my job.  It’s pretty scary to consider.  It’s entirely unknown.  You’d need to have some money saved, friends/family/loved ones who are encouraging but realistic.  You’d need a plan for what you were going to do to make sure you could keep a roof over your head.  And, most importantly, you’d need a hell of a good idea.

So I was reading Ms. Ana Spoke’s Blog yesterday, and I found myself considering what she is doing.  Ms. Spoke is the author of Shizzle, Inc (Book 1 of the Isa Maxwell Escapades).  She is also taking the plunge.

Ms. Spoke is making a brave, and highly bold, move as an author – she is taking off (six months!) from work to focus on writing.  This is a huge step.  One that I am nowhere near making.  But on reading her blog, I had to think about how that decision must feel.  While I doubt that Ms. Spoke is making such a bold move without careful consideration, I can only imagine how terrifying and exhilarating her decision is.

Per her blog, she intends to devote a great deal of time (six months) to being an author full-time.  She has even stated that her goal is to write not one, but two sequels to her first novel. Ms. Spoke is taking the plunge.  I hope that her experience works out well!  I certainly believe it will.  I can only wish her the very best of luck in this endeavor.

Someday, perhaps I shall follow in her steps.  Leave the relative safety of the steady known for the unknown.

Tarry not in those small, safe, comfortable places, for in them we find little more than comfort.  Eventually, that comfort can become our prison.