Cyborg Sunday, Update 12.31.17: A review of 2017

Another year gone

But how can I measure change,

or quantify me?

–“Calendar Shift” A Haiku, by yours truly

 

2017 is pretty much over, and most people won’t read this. That’s okay–I’d actually prefer you didn’t, if you’re busy celebrating, meeting up with family, and all that fun stuff. If you skip my blog just to skip it, well, that’s okay too. Go live life as you see fit.

All things considered, it was a wild ride for me. I graduated Monmouth University with my Master’s, worked for the real NCIS (which, by the way, is not like the NCIS show, but was a lot like The Office), and had three novels accepted for publication in six months.

I am BEYOND excited. This January, I didn’t have resolutions, I just thought to myself, “This is going to be my year.” I thought maybe I’d get ONE novel published, but not three.

To recap:

My first was The Nightmare King, coming from Siren’s Call Publications. I got my start with this crew, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be publishing with my debut novel with them (ignoring the woeful self-pubbed novel I put out several years ago). This is a supernatural-psychological horror novel set in an overarching macroverse I like to work with, not unlike King’s repeated use of Castle Rock.

A month later, I followed up with At the Hands of Madness. This Lovecraftian-Kaiju Military horror-comedy romp (I can’t think of a shorter genre classification) is hopefully the first in a trilogy, assuming it sells well. We’ll see!

And, less than a week ago, I signed for my NaNoWriMo 2017 novel, These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream to be published with HellBound Books, who I worked with for The Shopping Listan anthology where each story begins, literally, with the writer’s typical shopping list. My story, “The Cadenza,” featured a gay man who lost his arm due to a hate crime. Needless to say, by the end, he found a way to release his pent-up rage.

I also had work accepted to The Horror Zine, The Mad Scientist Journal, Worth a Thousand Words (An Ekphrastic anthology being independently edited/published by Delphine Quinn and company), Pleiades, The Digital Fiction Publishing Company, Rain Taxi, and a variety of anthologies.

Of things that came out this year, we have Sci-Phi Journal (237), Solstice Literary Magazine (Skin Music Review), Deadman’s Tome (Where the Missing Go), Transmundane Press (On Fire), Radiant Crown Publishing (Gaslandia), Mighty Quill Books (Dead of Winter), Siren’s Call Publications (Wicked Deeds, Monster Brawl), Fossil Lake (Fossil Lake IV: Sharkasaurus!), and Thunderdome Press (Dread State).  I got published alongside Ray Bradbury in that one, which is super cool. A number of shorter pieces also got picked up by The Horror Tree’s Trembling with Fear and SCP’s The Siren’s Call.

I even got to work on a screenplay! Co-writing Human Report 85616 alongside Kevin North Ruiz was really fun. It’s currently wrapping production, and I’ll update more when it’s viewable.

So, what’s coming in 2018, you ask?

  1. I aim to get to 100 short story publications (reprints count).
  2. I’d like to have a book of short stories accepted for publication (doesn’t have to come out next year, just slated for release) (I have two leads on this).
  3. Ditto to a book of poetry (I have a lead on one, Painting the White City Red, already…)
  4. I’d like to revise and send out Before My Eyes, a slightly older novel set in the The Nightmare King macroverse (I have a publisher in mind).
  5. Same goes for Amphibia Maxima, a novella about ancient, car-sized, man-eating frogs (not in the macroverse) (got a publisher in mind here, too).
  6. Have a solo-written screenplay accepted for production.
  7. Appear on a podcast.
  8. Get my Twitter verified
  9. Branch out into noir and, maybe, extreme horror. We’ll see.

I have some fitness/cyborg goals, too, of course. I want to get back into routine yoga to fix my overly-tight legs/shoulders, then run a 5K at some point before June (deadlines, as we all know, are important). I’ll be considering the Freestyle Libre, as it comes highly recommended by a bunch of my cyborg friends on Instagram, but no promises. Insurance has to cover it. If it works out, I’ll update.

Naturally, I need a job. Gotta keep the lights on.

I’ll be crossing these off as I accomplish them, updating the list throughout the year. I’d love to hear yours, too! Drop a comment on your goals below, if you have them. Either way, thanks for stopping by. Have a great NYD and 2018!

I’ve been away for a while, but I’m back to kick some butt at Wild Canyon the beginning of the semester being hectic, as always, but I saw this article at the Huffington Post and thinks it needs another share.

There’s an old joke that Love is a biochemical conjob. A bunch of hormones, pheromones, and other moans combine to make you emotionally and psychologically dependent on someone. When at its best, Love makes you ecstatic. When ending, it can literally kill you (see Takotsubo’s Cardio Myopathy).

Depression is the same way. It’s not something you can shake off, and while it may be abated by good company and a sense of humor, those high functioning depressives–the people who, despite their pain, get out of bed and get the job done every day of the week–often go overlooked. It’s why people are sent reeling when a comedian kills themselves. “How can someone who brought us such joy have been suffering so greatly?”

It doesn’t matter how the feeling comes about. Whether a person’s like Richard Jeni, who suffered from straight depression, or Robin Williams, who was depressed due to long-term, incurable medical circumstances, it needs to be addressed. Death by suicide is the end result of being unable to discuss and deal with that psychological pain. While perhaps legal euthanasia would reduce the instances of medically-instigated deaths, reducing the stigma and talking about these issues would be far greater.

So please, if you or someone you know is in need, use the resources below. Reach out, to anyone, no matter who is suffering or how much. You might save a life.

1-800-273-TALK (8255) (National Suicide Prevention Hotline)

http://www.sprc.org/ (Suicide Prevention Resource Center)

http://psychcentral.com/helpme.htm

http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html

I broke the cycle! …Almost. #LayersofFear @blooberteam

Ye gods, that was grueling. Another three times I walked that house before I finally got a conclusion that definitively ended my eleven-run Layers of Fear campaign.

The solution, ironically, was probably a simple one. In the hallway where the piano is yanked back toward a blacked-out hallway, I stopped long enough to realize there was another door there, at the end. This may have been patched up in the most recent update, but I don’t care.

I got the Wife and Child ending, which *SPOILERS* ends with the artist lighting all his paintings on fire and burning himself alive. *END SPOILERS*

Here’s what I did:

–I looked at baby/family related things by zooming in (the zoom is important!)

–I played with the globes and other objects.

–I read pretty much everything I could, esp. the note in the little box in the piano-yank hallway and the document in the dresser in the phone-call-in-reverse hallway.

–I got killed at every possible situation, but did NOT jump to my death in the library. I DID jump down the hole with his paintings, WITHOUT bringing them up, and pulled the chain in the chain-or-crank room to listen to him scream.

–I walked toward the horrible sentient baby doll creature in the red hallway of baby madness.

–After the piano-yank hallway, I looked out the window at the flashing light, prompting The Wife to appear behind me. I also lit the candelabra in the hall after the anniversary calendar room, then looked at her rippling shadow on the wall and turned as if to meet her.

–I gathered all spoken words and rat pictures, and re-examined those I’d collected in earlier playthroughs (the final rat picture + one memento reset with each run).

–I stopped to listen to piano music, when it played (this wasn’t intentionally for the ending, I just found the soundtrack beautiful).

What did I learn, after all this? Absolutely nothing.

Because there’s still one more ending.

I want to see it.

Part of me needs to see it–for real, in person, on my PS4.

…Here we go again.

#Kickstarter already 5% funded! http://tinyurl.com/j96mg4y

Thank you to the generous backer who contributed a whopping one hundred dollars toward my $2,000 goal! You really are the best ever.

To everyone else, you can be the best ever too (that’s how things work, right?)! Stop on by my Poetry in Prague Kickstarter to check it out. Contribute enough and I’ll dedicate the book to you!

#Kickstarter! #Free #poem! Come get more stuff!

I’ve got a Kickstarter going trying to help fund a book of poems I’d like to write on the art and culture of Prague. I’m especially interested in how the decline of religion in the area since World War 2 affected people on the interpersonal level, given how prominent Christianity had been in days prior.

If you’re like, “I don’t know, maybe I’d support him, but is he any good?” then here’s a poem to try to help change your mind: “Snow Blind,” originally published with TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics.

SNOW BLIND

Clarissa dances among drifts.
Form illuminated by sun-stained
snowfall, blinding blankets
Recording footsteps through light.

Shadows anchored to weary feet
Attempt to teach that darkness is
More natural than blindness.

Beyond comforting walls,
Strangers stare at side-winding scar,
Tracing its hungry path from eye
Along jaw to mouth that cannot smile.

Eyes shut, hand placed as visor,
She hides inside so snow can’t remind:
I walk only when light falls.

Plus, high contributors get Reiki treatments, dedicated poems, signed copies upon publication, and more! A serious bargain going on over here, so would you kindly be the truest definition of a wonderful, beautiful person and give it a look? Maybe a share too if you’re Batman levels of awesome.

 

@blooberteam #LayersofFear has ruined me.

I can’t break the cycle.

If anything, the cycle is breaking me.

(Spoilers for Layers of Fear follow.)

The first time I played this game, I found it pretty scary. Weird sounds everywhere. Shadows twitching, jerking, watching. Rooms repeating, endlessly, always the same, but always different, forcing me down paths I wasn’t meant to tread.

I got the Wife ending–the magnum opus, designed to look like The Artist’s perfect, unscarred wife, until it morphed, laughing, becoming disfigured, forcing him to throw the ‘defect’ in with the rest of his other failed works.

Naturally, I turned right around and found they were all perfect. A sad and haunting feeling overwhelmed me as I guided the poor soul back to his canvas to start again.

I played a second time to get all the collectibles. The Wife still terrified me, her apparition seeming to stalk every corner, but I pressed on. I got her ending a second time.

Then I decided, “As much as I hate using guides on a game like this, I want to see the other endings–and get that last trophy, of course.” So I went on YouTube, read some instructions, and replayed.

The Wife laughed at me a third time.

And a fourth.

I replayed half the game, starting from the middle, to change some decisions and see what might happen. The Wife happened. Her ending, again. By this point, I was throwing myself at The Wife at every turn. The game ceased to be scary.

After a few days of DMC, I invited a friend over so I could watch him play. He made similar decisions. He got fewer collectibles, but still the significant ones.

He got the Wife and Child ending on his first run, earning that elusive gold trophy and one of the two other endings. As The Artist threw himself into the fire, I felt the heat licking at my veins, The Wife’s laughter echoing in my ears.

But now I had an advantage, right? I’d seen it done–hell, I helped him do it! Surely I could do it again, right?

Fifth time: Wife.

Sixth: Wife.

Seventh: Wife.

It’s like she’s locked me in The Artist’s head, damned me to permanently loop through his nightmares. This isn’t a joke or euphemism.

I’ve been dreaming about that house. About the Wife. I see her shambling through new rooms of my own mind’s invention. I’ve walked hallways that are halfway between The Artist’s head and mine.

This game was heart-pounding at first. Then, dull–why be scared of something I could predict?

But I never predicted this. I never thought those ghosts would follow me from a fake dream world to a real one.

And I’m going to keep playing.

At this point, I think I have to.

…Kudos to you, Bloober Team. You broke reality. Or, at the very least, you broke mine.

 

 

#Writers Need Traditions #StPatricksDay #ShepardsPie

Hey everyone,

In celebration of yesterday, go get yourself some Shepard’s Pie. It’s not technically a pie to all you sweet-toothed folks out there, but there are few foods more efficient than this ole’ dish. It’s meat, starch, and vegetables all rolled into one dish. Add a side of fruit, and you’ve scaled the whole food pyramid.

As an added bonus, the recipe I linked has cauliflower instead of potatoes for the topper. Granted, I love potatoes, as most Irish do, but it’d be fun to experiment with.

So. Traditions. Writers need ’em, for three reasons.

1) They’re good stress relief.

Writing takes work. Serious, good writing is hard–it’s a job. Like any other position, you have to invest in it to make money, and if you don’t, then you’re doing yourself and your readers a disservice. This is going to lead to some days where you need a stiff drink and a lobotomy to get your head on straight again. Or maybe you’ll be real chill about it and do some downward-facing dog and chant Om instead. I’ve been known to take both routes.

Spend time with your family. That’s what tradition is really about. Family, whether by blood or choice. Maybe you’re not the type to call someone Bro, but you can still regard someone as a brother. Go decorate for a holiday, spend a day at the track, attend an annual barbecue, or, if you’ve got nothing else, make a plan to get together once a month and lounge around someone’s house.

2) They keep you grounded.

You know what sucks more than freaking out from stress? Getting so full of hot air that you can’t see the ground–until you’re hurtling straight down. Being immersed in other peoples’ lives reminds us that our own pitfalls and successes aren’t exclusive, nor does our light eclipse someone else’s.

And, by the way, if you’re the type to sit there and snort, “I’m a novelist. How’s the bank, Dave?” then just stop. Anyone can write a novel. If you write well, your work will speak for itself, and you won’t have to tell people what you do for a living. (Hopefully)

3) They remind you what it really means to be human.

We all like stories about heroes and villains, I assume. The fireman who saves a baby from an inferno, or the journalist that exposes a massive corruption scandal in her town–those stories never get old.

At the end of the day, those people go home, maybe to family, kick it with some Netflix or a good book, shuck off their work clothes like a corn husk, and crawl into bed, wondering what the next day will bring.

Compelling stories aren’t about the bravest soldier or the most brilliant detective, they’re about the soldier who keeps a journal in his pocket and writes poetry during down time, or the detective who volunteers to promote children’s literacy. They’re about the amazing, powerful figures who, when the camera stops rolling, are just like us. They share our hopes and joys, our pains and fears, and even our traditions.

My favorite literary figures are the ones about whom I can say, “Wow, I can picture myself walking into this person on the street,” or “I’d totally grab a beer with that guy.” Who are yours?