Cyborg Sunday, Update 12.17.17: Phoenix flames, net neutrality, writing, and other current events

Those who burn the world,

And keep boots upon our necks,

Will choke on their smoke.

–Comeuppance, a haiku, by yours truly

I may be one of the only people around who enjoys tinnitus.

Now, that doesn’t mean I LOVE it, just that I don’t find it as inconvenient as others seem to. In fairness, I don’t hear a high-pitched ringing, so much as a rapidly oscillating pulse. I’m not sure what the frequency is, but if I had more time, I’d perform some experiments to find out. That’s just the kind of guy I am.

Fortunately, it’s not the same tone as my insulin pump, and the sound only goes off intermittently anyway, so it’s not like this little plastic pancreas will run out of batteries and I won’t realize until my glucose hits 400. Even in sleep, I’m pretty good about hearing it. When health and survival depend on a single shrill tone, or the hum of an artificial ‘organ’ against your hip, you learn not to sleep too deeply.

Yet, for all my restlessness and insomnia, that steady wubwubwubwub in my ears lulls me to sleep. Good thing, too, because Net Neutrality has me–and, from what I understand, 83% of America–worried.

As a freelance writer, a lot of my future depends on my ability to get work out there. I’m not the only one, and I’m lucky, in the sense that my livelihood doesn’t depend on this yet. While I’m trying to build a Patreon page, sure, representation looks like my most assured path to making a career out of what I love to do. Until then, I keep the day job, which offers a slightly livable wage and, more importantly, insurance.

All I can offer those who might see their income impaired is pity and prayers. As someone who would’ve died at the age of two if not for scientific advancement, I know prayers only take you so far. I do believe in something, but I believe it helps those who help themselves. No one’s getting cured by accident or miracle. We develop, adapt, and overcome, or we succumb.

Maybe I’m cynical, but come hold my pancreas for a moment, then tell me your worldview.

Let’s see, writing and reading news: I read through Attack of the Kaiju: Age of Monsters this week. An admirable collection of giant monster fiction. It does contain four works by the two editors, but three of those four are fairly original, and pretty good. A few other names repeat. If you like kaiju and can’t wait for Pacific Rim Uprising, you ought to check this out.

I’ve also been hired to narrate four audiobooks. I’ll post more info when they’re closer to release, but long story short, they’re sci-fi works set in an android-ridden, drug-fueled, capitalist hellscape. I suppose my tech interests and gravelly voice made the writer think I’m a perfect choice, and hey, it’s been a lot of fun. Writing’s fun, too, but getting to contribute to another’s work, while getting me back into performing at the same time, has been great. I’m glad to have this opportunity.

Final notes: I sent out new flash fiction work to a contest, as well as to a Santa themed anthology. I don’t discuss details on non-accepted work, but “Maul Santa” will be appearing in Shades of Santa, a charity anthology put out by Things in the Well.

Soon, you’ll also be able to catch “Body and Soul” in the next issue of The Siren’s Call, a story about a man who dies in his sleep, and wanders his house as a ghost while his reanimated corpse wreaks havoc. If you just can’t wait, check out “Weighing Feathers” in the current issue. No spoilers, but let’s just say, I love reanimation–you’re just not always going to get zombies.

I’ll hopefully have more news soon. I’ve got poems out in a few markets, a few short stories being considered, a novella, two novels, and two short story collections being considered. I’d slow down, but I’ve lost interest in video games, so what else am I going to do with my time?

Besides, I’ve got a database to keep my head straight.

Obviously, life stands to change quite a bit soon, and that might impact all of our work, not just my own, but don’t any of you give up. There’s still plenty of time to sue to FCC, or have Net Neutrality pushed through via Congress, regulated by our federal legislature instead of a 5-person committee headed by a former Verizon lawyer.

Remember: if you can’t stop the world from burning, bring that fire into your heart, and scorch a path to a better tomorrow. Get out there, protest, and by all 5,000 of human kind’s gods, vote! Vote in every single election. Show the incumbent their positions are not secure. Show corporations that they do not get to dictate what is best for this nation.

The future is not decided by one person, by five, or by 535. It’s decided by all of us, every day. So get out there and make a choice.


5 #Writing Tips on Being a Writer

Hi everyone,

I was browsing the internet and found this article. While good, I figures I could add a few more points to help out those looking to get out there and make their stories known. Here’s some info for you, especially if you’re interested in the publication process:

  1. Diversify. Don’t publish all your work with the same company! Having a few different groups on your bio shows you can cater to different styles and genres, which will make you a better writer. This will also make it easier to get published.
  2. Look up how long the process takes. Patience really is a virtue, and if you send a short story out, it may be months before you hear back. Novels take even longer. Assuming your story gets accepted, it could be months, even years, before it gets put in print. One of the best ways to assist your writing career is to understand that the gears grind slowly.
  3. Keep notes! I have a Microsoft Access database tracking every submission I send out, where I’ve sent it, and when I should hear back. If accepted, I move the entry to a different table within the database, tracking when I should expect publication–if it has a date–and how long until the rights transfer back to me, to avoid legal issues. If you start sending work to multiple companies, as with point 2, you’re going to want to stay organized.
  4. Look up what people hate about your favorite books. It’s easy to be blind to faults when we love something, and even if you experience the writer’s curse (near-crippling self-doubt), you might still find it’s hard to revise. Seeing the faults in other, already published books will help you with your own.
  5. Write every day. I want to emphasize you don’t have to write the same thing every day, just keep writing. I bounce between fiction, poetry, and non-fiction all the time. Sometimes I even count the essays I do for class, or items I have to write for work, to avoid strain from over-use. Should you have a blog, you can count that too (I do!).

I hope this helps you acclimate to the writing world. Whether you’re new to writing or have been around a while and looking to build yourself up, these tips should help you build the skills and traits you need to succeed in today’s ultra-competitive literary world.

Because we need creative non-fiction

Hello, Friends,

As my publication list suggests, I prefer fiction, but lately I’ve been dabbling in creative non-fiction as well. I never really thought I’d get into this genre, and always told myself the usual rationalizations–I’m not interesting enough, no one knows who I am so why should they read my memoir, I’m better at fiction, etc., etc..

Another reason is because the first time I tried writing about my life, I dredged up memories I really wasn’t ready to deal with. My mood swings worsened, I became irritable, withdrawn, depressed, and angry, and my work suffered tremendously. People were eager to comment on how I’d let them down, but had no apparent interest in why I was acting so strange. It took a while to pull myself together, mostly because I was doing it alone.

I’m stronger now, and able to talk about my past without issue, but the thought of going back to non-fiction still unnerved me. I’m taking a graduate class in the subject, though, so I faced my fear–myself–and have really been enjoying it.

Today, I was sitting at my computer intending to write 500 words and wound up writing 2000, all vignettes, talking about my friendships, my past, and my world in general, when I remembered the golden rule of writing: write because you love to. Not because you want people to love you, or because you want them to be impressed, but because you’ve got a story to tell, and you want to tell it.

Maybe that’s not everyone’s golden rule, but it’s mine (and you’re welcome to share your thoughts below).

I sat here, typing away, at first focusing on the negatives, on bullying, on lost friends, on people who wanted to hurt me, and found myself segueing into nostalgia. I remembered sunsets and long afternoons and people I haven’t spoken to in ages. It was one of the nicest, calmest afternoons/evenings I’ve had in a while.

So, to all you who might be considering writing creative non-fiction but aren’t sure if you should, let me decide for you. You should. Tell your story the way it needs to be told, even if that story just stays in a journal or on your hard drive for the next fifty years. It might hurt, or it might heal. Either way, it’s worth the effort. Psychology tells us now that keeping a journal or reflecting on your life in any way heals old wounds and helps make you a more well-rounded person–and you’ve got nothing to lose by trying something new.

Every day is a day to dig deep and discover who you really are. Every tomorrow is a chance to do yesterday a little better. Take advantage of what little time we have here, my friends. All you have to do is pick up a pen or open a word document, and both the future and past will be yours.

Best wishes,


Masks (post inspired by @crsmihai)

Hello Travelers,

I recently read Cristian Mihai’s post, Masks, which begins with the following:

Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

You see, I’ve found the universe works in tight little circles. Settings, themes, and motifs repeat in upon themselves, often in subtle ways that most would miss. Maybe you find yourself thinking of an old song and then it comes on the radio while you drive to work, or you reminisce about, say, watching dragonflies as a child, then one lands on the table in front of you. As if the fabric of time and space ripples in tune to our thoughts and, when it can, bends to say, “Don’t worry. I’m listening. I hear you.”

This is why I find the linked post, and the Hawthorne quote, so simultaneously surprising and expected. I have worn many masks in my life, and I know I will continue to cycle through a repertoire of facades, shifting from one to another, day in and day out.

Most seem to detest both those who do this (as if they do not), and having to do it, but I love my masks. Being able to slip into a persona, or even the mere adopting of different mannerisms in different crowds, is a mark of social intelligence. I consider my ability to do this to be an astronomical improvement, considering I was once the social outcast, reading a book in a shadowy playground corner. Now, I slip into the crowd like fog slips between city streets; quietly, easily, and unnoticed until I am all there is to notice.

But, sometimes, we cannot wear masks. If romantic relationships are to work, we have to pull off our disguises and say, “Here I am.” Maybe we don’t have to reveal the whole picture at once, but no good can come of trying to cover up the truth.

I’m not saying we should hide or be ashamed; our masks are as much a part of us as our secrets, and we each deserve to be loved and appreciated for all of our identity–not just the nice parts.

Beneath our socially acceptable presentation, each of us harbors something dark and gritty and fun. I have learned this lesson many times, because it is one we often need to re-learn every time we convince ourselves, “I can change for this person.”

Sometimes, change is good. We can trade out one mask for another, reveal some scars and hide the rest, but when the shows over and the lights go down, we’re left in the dark with all the things we hide. Sure, the audience never has to know, but you, the actor, you will always know exactly who you are, mask or otherwise.

I recently had to cast aside a mask of my own. The damn thing covered too much; I found myself looking in the mirror and neither liking nor, more importantly, accepting the role into which I’d been cast, so I cast the part aside.

Standing here, I may feel some guilt over those who had grown to love that mask, but when I look in the mirror, I prefer to see my scars. Though I cycle through identities, when I return to what I call home, I proudly remove those masks and say, “Here I am.”