Cyborg Sunday, update 4.22.2018: Writer’s life, giving up coffee, and applying for my dream job

Somehow, I thought that

Giving up coffee would suck.

It’s not all that bad.

“Doing Without” by Yours Truly

Bruce Lee once said, ““It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

I’ve decided to put this to the test by giving up coffee. I know what you’re thinking: “Uh, Kevin, you’re a writer! How are you going to do this? Without coffee, you won’t be able to stay up into the late hours of the night, hammering away at the keys as though they owe you money, demanding your sleep-deprived consciousness provides a few words that you can trick people into believing are compelling.”

Then I’m like, “I also don’t drink or smoke,” and you’re probably thinking, “Good Lorde, man, how dare you? There is such a long, glorious tradition of writers, American or otherwise, sinking into the mire of their own self-destruction in pursuit of what it really means to be human! You betray all those who came before you by rejecting such glorious decay!”

Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. Plus, I don’t know you. Maybe you didn’t think any of that, but here’s a word of advice: you don’t ever have to be miserable or sleep-deprived to write. While certainly a little less tortured, being happy and healthy will bolster your sensibilities and give you more resilience. It’ll be way easier to keep writing, especially in the face of rejection, if your body and mind are well.

As far as my writing goes, I have nothing to report this week. I subbed a poetry manuscript, but no rejections or acceptances.

BUT… I just applied for my dream job. I’d be writing with a video game company I really respect. That’s all I’ll say. Don’t like sharing too much when things are still in the works. I have a good feeling about it, though. A real good feeling. Let’s hope giving up coffee has a butterfly effect!

Along those lines, I hear coffee increases insulin resistance in Type 1 Diabetics. There’s conflicting evidence here, and paradoxically, some suggest it decreases the risk of Type 2 in non-diabetic subjects. However, other data shows it exhausts the body’s endocrine system, contributing to the development of T2D and Addison’s Disease.

This bears significantly more investigation, both in my life and otherwise, because the prevalence of autoimmune disorders in modern America is unbelievably high compared to previous decades. If mass coffee consumption is linked to the development of such issues, we could potentially treat or prevent a number of conditions by eliminating it from our diet–or insurance companies could use a coffee habit as a ‘pre-existing condition’ and deny you coverage. Wouldn’t be surprised if they did this already for heart problems and blood pressure issues.

So far, it’s only been 2 days since my last cup, but I seem to have some increased insulin sensitivity, so that’s cool. I’ve been weening off via green tea though, so I’m not sure if the caffeine in that has an effect too, or if the insulin resistance comes from coffee itself. Either way, I’m saving money, so that’s cool.

And, doubleplusgood, lower caffeine means lower stress reactions. I’m super excited waiting to hear back about this job, so kicking caffeine to the curb was great timing.

I’m off to hurry up and wait, by which I mean write. Hope you have a great week!

 

Cyborg Sunday, update 2.11.17: Freestyle Libre, Amazon Metrics, and Becoming The Riddler

Holy fucking shit,

What the hell are you doing?

Why are you like this?

“An insulting haiku you can yell at people in almost any situation,” by Kevin Holton

 

Forgive my language, friends, but I swear the most when I’m in a good mood, and I’m chillin’ pretty nice right now with a coffee and the promise of a fancy brunch on the horizon, so this calls for a profane haiku. Haikus are supposed to be peaceful, contemplative reflections upon life and the natural world, but I’ve never been one to follow the rules.

First off, I’ve got promo for At the Hands of Madness up! Here’s an essay on building monsters over at The Horror Tree. The Bold Mom and Promote Horror have press releases up, and will feature interviews in the near future, plus I’m working at getting reviews out there. All big things, building toward the next big thing!

As far as sales go, I don’t know how many copies I’ve actually sold, and I’m working on that, but according to recent metrics, I’m among the top 10% of ebook sellers, and the top 5% in horror! I probably won’t top King anytime soon, but hey, a guy can dream.

I also have a few short stories appearing in various anthologies from JEA, among other places, and “My Soul, One Shadow Shy of Black” got picked up on Longshot Island. That one’s free to read, so go have a look!

The Freestyle Libre: accurate to within 10 mg/dl so far! The adhesive’s not as secure as I’d like, but I wholly recommend the system, and that’s coming from someone who vehemently opposed getting a CGM!

Oh, and I’m now a Game Master at Long Branch’s Escape the Puzzle room. I’m probably biased, but it’s a great team, and you’ll have a great time, so come on by! I promise not to make things too cryptic… unless that’s what you want.

As always, thanks for stopping by. Talk to you soon!

 

 

Cyborg Sunday, Update 2.4.2018: At the Hands of Madness approaching #1 Seller in its category!

Take your hands in mine

Let my ink stains will show you

Every world is ours.

–“It is Written,” by yours truly.

 

Holy balls, folks! I am VERY proud to say my release of At the Hands of MadnessBook One of the Longshot Trilogy, is doing phenomenally! In only the past twelve hours, it’s climbed from #4200 in its category to just under #2000!

I’m not sure how Amazon’s algorithms work, but that’s really damn cool.

So, for a limited time, I’m running a promotion! Anyone who buys a copy and shares their purchase on Twitter/Facebook, and tags me in the share (@TheHoltoning), will get a chance to win the next two books for free!

They’ll only come out if this one does well, so let’s keep it moving! The next two books get absolutely insane. Giant humanoid spiders, Hennessy “Heartbreaker” Jones gets a new call sign, Grover goes nuclear, and the gang is going to learn some harsh lessons about loyalty–but we gotta make sure book one sells well!

And, side note, I had “Glutton for Punishment” accepted into Fatal Fetish by J. Ellington Ashton press, as well as a bunch of interviews and promo articles I’ll be sharing as time goes on. Release just prior to Women in Horror Month as well as Black History Month isn’t ideal for a white male, but I don’t want to take away from either of these focuses, so I’ve told publishers to push some of my promo back.

So give this a share, because the fate of me, my books, and this little universe I’ve created rest in your hands!

Thank you for reading. You’re wonderful. Comment below to say hi!

You can click above to buy the book, or click here!

Cyborg Sunday, Update 1.21.2018: Crimson Inc, The Horror Zine, JEA, and the Waiting Game

Patience. Still your heart.

No good ever came from rushing.

Slow down. Breathe. Relax.

–“Virtue” A Haiku by yours truly

 

Hey everyone,

Not an overwhelming amount of stuff to share today–not even actual cyborg news, beyond ‘my blood sugars have been funny the past day or two’ and ‘I still have diabetes.’

I’ve mostly been holding out, waiting to hear back on a variety of subs. Painting the White City Red is still on hold-out for a particular press, as an editor expressed interest in those poems, but I haven’t heard too much yet. The Gospel of Decay, NOVA EXE, and Absolute Zero are still under consideration in various places. A bunch of short stories and poems are out in different venues, so we’ll see how that goes. I also sent Crimson, Inc. out last night. Oof. Waiting.

I did have four poems ultimately accepted for the upcoming issue of The Horror Zine, and a short story, “Sound and Furry,” accepted to the Endangered Species post-apocalyptic anthology from J. Ellington Ashton Press. All that’s been pretty fun!

The Call of the Void got rejected from Villipede Press. That’s okay–it’s almost a relief to have something out of the queue!

I made a New Years’ Resolution to hit my 100th short story pub this year, and while I’m well on the way (87/100), I have two ideas for longer works that are demanding my attention. Hm…

That’s the beautiful thing about writing, though. It’s all about momentum. We learn about this early on, usually in middle or high school: a body in motion stays in motion, while a body at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force (which is why it’s so hard to get out of bed in the morning!).

With a career like this, self-driven, where everything depends on your ability to put your ax to the grindstone and get it done, there are always outside forces. There’s rejection, the day job, family matters, health crises (I should know), stress, mental illness (comes with the job, amiwrite?), and freaking out over the latest news blast about what the US President did this time, or what North Korea’s planning, or blah blah blah.

So keep going. That’s all the advice I have for you. Do not stop. Even if you write absolute garbage one day, hell, if you write poorly for a week, a month, don’t give up. If you’re a writer, your career depends on three things: skill, patience, and luck. Skill develops over time. Patience is the ability to tolerate time. And, as Thomas Jefferson once said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” So work. Get it done. I don’t believe in luck. I do believe in you.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’re looking for fiction, check out my Patreon–it has some free content to give you a sample of what I’m cooking up!

Drop a line below if you’re feeling chatty. I love hearing from you.

 

Cyborg Sunday, update 01.07.2018: #Horror, #Blogging, #AmWriting, #Plotting

Time: an illusion

Waging war against humans.

The hour marches on.

–“Soldier,” A Haiku, by Kevin Holton

 

Hello everyone!

Welcome back to Cyborg Sunday.

To begin, I’ll let you know I’m making plans. I never make plans, so expect something big.

That said, I’ve got a bunch of other things in the works. I recently subbed to a closed call with my old friends at Siren’s Call Publications, where The Nightmare King will be published later this year. I also subbed to the Escape Pod podcast, confirmed a few book reviews for Pleiades, signed a contract for a fictional advertisement with The Mad Scientist Journal, sent my novella Amphibia Maxima to Grinning Skull Press, and sent my novel Absolute Zero off to Apex Book Company.

Grass does not grow under my feet, friends.

I’m also being considered for a job (not gonna jinx it by saying more), and finished the recordings for Harmon Cooper’s Life is a Beautiful Thing Book One.

More fun news, I’ve joined up with The Bold Mom as one of their new Dark Fantasy bloggers! They’re a very dynamic, socially-engaged group of horror writers and reviewers, so I’m looking forward to contributing.

As far as all things cyborg go, I’m officially CONSIDERING the Freestyle Libre. I’ve held out on Continuous Glucose Monitors due to their bulkiness and lack of accuracy, but this is apparently a great model, and my endocrinologist highly recommended it. I’ll be switching to humalog, for insurance reasons, and am going back on the 200 mcg levothyroxine, but hey, chronic illnesses aren’t a sprint. They’re a marathon.

I’m a little more excited for the Eversense system, because contrary to most people, I actually think it sounds really god damn cool to get something implanted in my body to monitor my blood sugar. Moreover, it lasts for 90 or 180 days, which is amazing, because no hassle! Even if I have to get it changed out, I imagine this tech will improve quickly.

ViaCyte is also doing interesting work with stem cells and islet cell transplants, and there’s the TRAFFIC system, and some are still following the Edmonton Protocol, though it’s still a bit short lived. Who knows where we’ll be next year?

All I know is that, for now, I’m going to keep on keepin’ on, as I like to say. Drop me a line below if you found any of this interesting. Talk to you soon!

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!

Cyborg Sunday, Update 12.24.2017: Tattoos, glucometers, RFIDs, and Bloody Fingers

It’s Christmas Eve, and as always, I’m balancing the line between one type of survival and the other. Diabetes, formerly known as The Sugar Disease, was once only treated by fasting. Insulin hadn’t been made into a medication yet, so staving off fatal hyperglycemia meant ingesting an obscene amount of water and not eating for long stretches of time. For me, that means making sure my holiday food choices don’t lead to stubborn high blood sugars–hardly as serious a situation, but still a pain in the ass. Eat too little, and I’ll starve anyway; eat too much, and glucose issues will ruin the next day or two. Really bad choices, or innocent mistakes, will still kill me, no matter how advanced technology gets.

There are those even today who maintain a raw food vegan diet can “cure” type one diabetes. For a while, I believed this to be true, and even went vegan, though not fully raw. My insulin requirements dropped significantly, but I gave this venture up. A strict diet like this isn’t a cure–it’s a treatment. I won’t settle for anything less than a full cure, whether through stem cell work, viral vector transmission, or cybernetics.

In the meanwhile, diabetics like myself are all too familiar with glucometer use. You load a fine gauge needle, a lancet, into a penlet, then pwang, a spring quickly jabs into the the soft bed of your fingertip (print side, of course, not by the nails).

The likelihood of developing an easier, cost-effective solution is unlikely, so long as the pharmaceutical industry is allowed to keep lobbying for their preferred regulation. Diabetes is, after all, a very common and very profitable disease, so why make things easy for us, if we can all coat some company’s bottom line?

The closest we’ve come so far to avoiding fingerpricking altogether is a sensor, i.e. the Freestyle Libre, which is worn like a cross between an insulin pump infusion site and a nicotine  patch. I’m on the leaner/fitter side, so as I frequently tell my doctor, I don’t have the real estate for ANOTHER techy needle-patch-tube device. I’ll still consider it, but for now, I’m holding off.

What would’ve been really cool is if we could get the RFID implant off the ground. Not a lot of money goes into funding that research, but imagine implanting a grain of rice in your forearm, or the soft tissue between your thumb and forefinger, and poof, no more needles! Well, none for your fingers. Cool, huh?

MIT researchers also recently developed biometric tattoo ink that changes colors based on blood composition, but it has no plans for testing and trial. With all due respect, why the hell not?

While I’d love an Outsider-style, color-changing/light-up tattoo that could broadcast, “Hey, bro, eat a banana so you don’t die,” this sort of future seems far off. Whether because of a lack of profitability, lack of research money, or lack of interest, these developments all take a backseat to something like the Libre. An RFID or Biometric tattoo would (ideally) be a one-time investment, while a Continuous Glucose Monitor only lasts 1-2 weeks, providing consistent recurring payments for the duration of, well, the patient’s life.

Will we see a future where someone (*cough, me, cough*) could augment themselves to the point of either not having diabetes, or barely noticing it? Probably. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Chronic illness is a marathon, and every other runner is a grain of sand passing through the sieve of your hourglass. Move too slow, and time will run out.