An Accidental Identity Crisis

Twenty-three seconds into the accident, the nascent writer Joshua Alexander jumped for joy. Concentrating on the significant damage to the bumper of my Explorer proved challenging amidst the ever-maddening screams of “THIS IS MY MOMENT! I HAVE ARRIVED!” The poor kid who pulverized his car with my bumper, some student from George Washington University home on break, apologized repeatedly for his lapse in attention; though to be fair, I’m still not sure if he directed it to me or to the crumpled remains of his car. I consoled him, insomuch as I was capable with all the celebratory screaming coming from Joshua. To his credit, the kid remained stoic, clearly at war with the beside-himself-father in his head, taking complete blame when the officer arrived, while I stood at the back of my vehicle analyzing the damage.

“This is great. Fantastic. The best thing that could have happened.”

I countered that, citing that car accidents are not great watermarks of joy for anyone. Not that Joshua cared.

“This will pay for the conference. You should thank that kid.”

I hadn’t considered that. Granted, my bumper looked a bit as if the horrors of life had consumed its soul, leaving its remains to melt into a perpetual frown.

“It’s just a bumper. What do you even need it for?”

As far as I could tell, the moment offered an example as to the primary reason bumpers existed. If I learned anything from Bumper Cars as a kid it was to never play Bumper Cars with my older brother. He had this fixation on ejecting me from my car, or better, the entire ring. Of course, he also had a fixation with swinging me in circles from an arm and leg until my glasses flew off and I started crying, so maybe the Bumper Cars weren’t the issue. In the moment, however, I found my first appreciation for the lessons those ricocheting cars offered.

Still, I had a hard time arguing the point. It was just a bumper. What’s a bumper in comparison to a week’s worth of writing education that would certainly land me a contract with a publisher? Three days later, when the Insurance adjuster handed me a check for $1,100, Joshua’s elation caught up to me. The internal war began. Bumper vs. bills vs. writing conference. Bumper lost in the opening round, if for no reason than it shut Joshua up for a while, and the worst it could do was follow me wherever I drove, its downward slope of sadness perhaps warding off any other unwanted visitors. Bills … those were a trickier obstacle. Apparently, those are supposed to be paid? That’s what I’ve heard. Somewhere.

I guess I should probably mention I had quit my job three months prior in order to write a book. That seems important, in context. Bills and all. Sudden money at hand and the like. A lack of employment certainly made income a pestering nuisance in relation to actually paying for things. You know, the important things like bills. Food. Collectible Star Wars figures. Even writing conferences. Especially those lasting a week long and costing a thousand dollars. An amount I happened to have in my bank thanks to a careless kid fiddling with his radio at forty miles-per-hour as his car rudely greeted the stopped Explorer in its path.

Maybe I shouldn’t have quit my job, I thought for the one-hundred and thirty-first day in a row. As decisions went to this point in life, it ranked up there with the best of Not Good. Sure, I finished a first draft of the book (two if you count the less than stellar 1st person draft I finished in 21 days), and by the time the conference rolled around two months later I would have a good edit complete. The timing fit. The conference–my first ever–would offer me a chance to pitch it to agents and New York Times bestselling author David L. Robbins, who would be the judge in a fiction contest. My book, Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO was good, by my estimates. Okay, so I thought it was perfect. Something to behold. To cherish. To love and to squeeze and to call George. Surely the agents would agree and the whole suffering for my art thing would be worth it, just as I had envisioned. That singular dream in which I quit my job, wrote a book, went to a conference and BLAMMO … agent. Agent would become Publishing Contract. Publishing Contract would equal Advance. Advance would balance out Voluntary Unemployment. Success would follow.

THIS IS MY MOMENT.

Did I have a choice? Sure. I had many. Many, many, many, many of which began the day before I quit my job. Did it feel like it? No. No, between Joshua’s screaming and my inability to see the world of possibility as more than a single light at the end of a short road, the Universe basically sat on my head, declared itself the Master of My Destiny and urged the chariot onward. All of this wouldn’t have happened otherwise, right? Everything happens for a reason, after all.

RIGHT YOU ARE UNIVERSE!

Fueled by the need to risk it all, to bypass sanity in favor of chance (LIVE NOW FOOL!), I registered for the conference and submitted the first fifty pages of my manuscript for the contest.

Sort of.

Technically, yes? Officially … not so much.

The thing is … the thing I should mention is how incredibly tired of me I had become. I saw myself every day. In the mirror, staring back for that brief flash before looking away, lest I thought myself some kind of creepy pervert offering longing glances from the other side of the glass. I talked to myself incessantly daily (yeah, yeah talked … that’s the ticket), whether I wanted to hear me or not. I cooked for myself, cleaned for myself, got sick of my needy self and needed a break.

So, I sent Joshua Alexander to the conference. I’m not sure if I thought he would generate better results, or if it would simply be nice to not be me for a week. Truthishly, I can’t really recall a specific thought of why I should do such a thing. Maybe I took a back seat to the process and Joshua jumped in. I don’t know. I just don’t know. I’m just weird like that, I suppose.

Regardless of reason–and likely absent it as well–I made my way to the conference full of cheer and lofty dreams, toting my completed manuscript in a wooden box as if it were the lost Ark of the Covenant. I checked in under my name since Joshua, for all of his robust enthusiasm, still lacked both an ID and a bank account, settled in and made off for the Opening Remarks with another hundred plus writers. All of whom were likely themselves because they were smart that way. I sat next to a behemoth of a figure–a tall, muscular man stretched out across two chairs. As I have established, socializing is not my strong point. Joshua, on the other hand, seemed to have no issue with the complexity of Hello and jumped right in.

“Hi. Joshua Alexander.”

Good for you, Josh. Well done.

The man shifted, shook my hand, introduced himself as David L. Robbins and immediately launched into praise for my submission, about how he had planned on finding me to discuss it, and stating his wonder at the luck we would sit next to each other.

It’s possible, at this point, I considered dropping the Joshua persona to ensure Mr. David L. Robbins, New York Times bestselling author, knew who I really was. I offer the possibility of such a though only because I don’t particularly recall if I though much of anything at all. Not with Joshua in charge.

THIS IS MY MOMENT.

So, I let him run with it. Let him talk throughout the Welcome, carrying the conversation onward into my work, its strengths and weakness, the nuances of the craft of writing, echoing David’s belief that conferences were vital to the growth of a writer, and I don’t know, tacos or something. It went on for hours. The next day David even invited me to go watch him golf in between sessions. I became the envy of the entire conference, buddied up to David like a excitable, loyal, puppy. Everyone knew my name, curious about what I wrote, how I had managed to so quickly win the favor of such a notable author.

They were the best two days of Joshua Alexander’s life.

They were, in fact, the only two days of Joshua Alexander’s life.

On day three, David woke up and decided to invite good ole chum Joshua to breakfast. Strange thing though. The front desk had no room for a Joshua Alexander. David insisted they were wrong. Had them check and check again, taking potential misspellings into account. Nope. No Joshua. Confused and slightly embarrassed, David fell into full research mode, following the trail of Joshua Alexander to one Zachary Steele, in room whateverever. He called me. He grilled me. Questioned what reason a man with my name would possibly have to go under any other name, then laughed at me. For the rest of the week. As he told each and every person about the ludicrous tale of Zachary “Joshua Alexander” Steele. For the next few months, as we kept lines of communication open. For the next few years as our friendship grew, as he became a mentor to me as a writer. To this day, some sixteen years later, as the memory pops up and he needs a good laugh at my expense. His last words on this planet to me may very well be, “Tell Joshua I said hi.”

I will always accept life as a never-ending ride of Cause and Effect. For instance, I make really odd decisions, the effect of which tends to rail off into the deep recess of Shitsville. I get to relive them, marvel over them, and perhaps even grow from them, but damn. Just damn.

Every once in a while, despite myself, I get to follow a train of Cause and Effect that isn’t all bad in the end.

I quit my job to write a book, with the express purpose of getting said book published, thereby jump starting my career and minimizing the damage caused by Voluntary Unemployment. In order to facilitate this, I decided I should go to a conference to get noticed. Unable to afford said conference due to having no job, I made use of accidental money to fund my way. I changed my name for no reason, met the author I wanted to meet, made a sizable impression both due to my work and the fundamental identity crisis masquerading as me, and made a friend of David L. Robbins. David created James River Writers in Richmond, Virginia, invited me behind the scenes, to their conference, gave me time with other notable authors (um, hi there Tom Robbins) and awesome people, and taught me the craft. All of which made me a better writer. Fueled by the need for more, the hunger to be better in all aspects of life, I made other questionable decisions, one of which netted me a bookstore I called Wordsmiths Books. During my tenure as owner of Wordsmiths, I met a publisher interested in Anointed. She published it. Publisher’s Weekly gave it a good review. My career as a writer found first gear.

THIS IS MY MO … oh, wait. No.

SEVEN YEARS FROM … is that right? Seven years? Sevenish years, you say? Right.

SEVEN PLUS YEARS FROM NOW WILL BE MY MOMENT.

Sometimes the wrong way can be right. Just, like, way longer.

Because Writing About Writing is What Writers Do

Somehow, it’s reached a point these days where you aren’t really considered a writer unless you’re writing about writing. I can’t really say whether that’s good or bad. Perhaps because I don’t know, but more likely because I avoid reading most of them. One might deem this tutorial littering of the internet a consequence of self-publication, in that everyone who wants to see their book in print (or on a Kindle or whatnot), can then take to their respective blog (or blob, if you’re my mother, bless her heart) and detail all the ways in which you can achieve whatever level of success they deem they have attained.

Again, good or bad, I don’t know. This is just a truth we all have to accept. Maybe there’s useful information out there that can help you. Maybe there isn’t. No idea. I mean, I can’t tell you what the Onion is writing about today because I haven’t read it. I know it’s funny though. I can guarantee that. And it’s there. There is far better than not.  Just like writing a book. It will always be better to you if it is there than if it is not.

There you go. Hallelujah, praise Timmy Christ, and may the force be with you. My writing lesson of the day. If you don’t write a book, you don’t have a book you have written. Genius. I have now joined the ranks of pseudo-professional writers who have blogged about writing. I am nearly complete as a human being. I’m one drunken tour of Scotland’s Pub of the Day Club away from ascension.

So, what do you do? How do you decide whether the advice you’re getting is advice you should be taking? Look, the truth is–the thing you need to know before taking this whole writing thing to the next level–there’s no such thing as a simplification of writing that any one person can offer. As with life, the process of learning about writing is an extensive and exhaustive process. One blog, one book, cannot cover what you need to know. Yet here you are, all engrossed in my words, or perhaps just hiking your way across the internet one click at a time, so allow me to illustrate my point in as simplified a way as I can so you only have to read one blog about it. Then you’ll know everything you need to know about writing. Ready?

Writing is hard.

Boom. You’re welcome.

Ok, so maybe that was too concise. But the truth remains. Are there varying levels of talent in which writing becomes less hard? Absolutely. Tom Robbins forged a career out of his brilliance, tapping one mind after another with a skilled hand that is not so much stratospheric as it is alien. Yet, he wrote every manuscript by hand, working on each individual sentence until it was exactly what it needed it to be. He didn’t use word counts. He just let the work tell him when he was done. Which is not “as easy as that.” That’s fucking hard. That insane-level genius. Sure, it comes easier to him than it does to most everyone else, but his easy isn’t easy for him. It’s grueling.

Writing will kick you to hell and back, then wait for you to stand so it can kick you around some more. It’s a giant sponge sucking all your time and energy, then squeezing it down the drain while letting you know it’ll be right back k thanks. It’s something that requires you to spend more time in a world that doesn’t exist than the one you’re supposed to be living in. It offers you an array of friends you can’t live without then scoffs at your genie-in-a-bottle wish that they were real. It tempts you with hope, then insists you proceed with squashing all level of hope anywhere and everywhere for everyone you create, and, shamed though you are to admit it, love. It coaxes you with the allure of wealth, readership by the millions, adoration and praise, then leaves you with a waste basket of rejection and the realization that you have yet to leave the workforce, and probably won’t anytime soon. Writing is your mistress, and it won’t be satisfied with an occasional text. It wants all of you, but it doesn’t want you to stay over, and it sure as hell doesn’t want to be anything else. It wants you to succeed, it needs you to succeed, but it doesn’t stop badgering you just because you don’t.

And you know what? You love it. You revel in it. You slosh around in your misery like a pig in filth. You devour the entire helping of writing for the pure gluttony of it, then dive into the fridge with an appetite for more. Writing is that friend you can’t live without, and it both is and isn’t there with you at every waking moment. It is the single greatest love-hate, abusive relationship you will ever know, and it will inspire you to journey into the greatest, most wonderful, corners of your mind, where mystery and fantasy burn like wildfire, where romance and seduction beat like a heart, and where the entire universe is willing to bow to the supreme truth of 42.

This is what you want. This is why you believe you exist. This is why most of your earth-based friends and family have difficulty understanding you. This is why you creep people out in crowded spaces as you stare off into alternate realities, completely unaware of your surrounding, or of the uneasiness you leave those in your path. This … this insanely hard, difficult, maddening, bitch of an art, is why everything matters, and why every struggle is survived, every fear faced, every trace of indignity of self ignored.

If not, you can stop looking for advice on writing. You can stop worrying about improving. Just write. Do your blog thing, keep a journal, write whatever your kids or family seem to want to hear, but leave the advice on the shelf, leave the expectations be.

Because writing is hard.

And quitting it is impossible.

Charles in Charge and Writing Do Not Mix

Sometimes I’ll do anything I can to avoid writing. I’ll run from the computer like it’s a Charles in Charge reunion special. Reading, destroying brain cells on Facebook, over-managing my fantasy baseball teams, catching up on baseball news I already knew, Words With Friends, walks, shopping, driving, sitting on the patio like a grown man in time-out, harassing the cat … name it. It runs contrary to the idea writing is my passion, my life, I know, but I do it regardless. Not because I’m afraid to write. Rather, because I’m afraid to write badly.

On the surface it’s an absurd statement. It reeks of a failure in confidence. If you’re afraid to write, avoiding it for any reason, then perhaps writing isn’t for you, right? However, I don’t lack confidence in my writing. Though I’m no savant and have a great deal yet to learn, I’ve worked hard on my craft. Besides, Publisher’s Weekly thought well of me. Shouldn’t I? My issue, though, isn’t with my talent, or my ability to weave a compelling tale, or whether or not what I’m about to type will be pure crap. The ‘delete’ key takes care of that. If not, editing exists for a reason. What I’m afraid of is producing work that floats off into the ether like space debris: forgotten and forever to orbit in the dark vacuum of nothingness. Perhaps that means it was bad, perhaps it doesn’t. Sometimes you can feel so damned positive you’ve written something great–or at the least good–only to watch it wander into an uncaring world that as much notices it as avoids it altogether.

Maybe that doesn’t qualify it as bad, exactly, but as a writer it becomes difficult to separate good from bad when feedback is non-existent.  Sure, you get some words of encouragement from those who know you, or from other writers, or beta-readers, or even your Publisher/Editor/Agent. They like it. They praise you in widely generic ways. They might even specifically site an instance in your work they particularly liked. Which makes you smile. It makes you proud. It gives you that momentary feeling of heroic wonder. Then it becomes print, you talk about it through various social media portals, maybe you have some events, and you wait for the accolades and reader reviews. And wait. And wait. Ultimately, the silence invades your mind, leaving a gap in your defenses wide enough for an F5 tornado of doubt to plow a destructive path through your pristine landscape of ignorant bliss.

No matter how much you talk it up, nobody’s talking back. Your book sucks. It must. It has to. You re-read it. It doesn’t feel as sublime as the last time you looked it through. Are you no longer blind to the truth, or have you allowed silence and doubt to insert their impression in your head? What does that mean for your current manuscript? Should you suspend writing in order to review what you’ve written? Will this unedited piece of unfinished potential crap offer you insight as to why your recent work is failing? Or are you over-thinking it? Of course, you can go to your Publisher/Editor/Agent for advice, but they’ll tell you to cool your jets, this kind of thing happens all the time. But no, you think, this is happening to me. It wasn’t supposed to. My book was good.

Or was it?

It’s troubling to think all this can cross through the mind in a fraction of a second. Even more troubling, however, is the anticipation it can and might likely happen to your work-in-progress–before you’ve even finished it. You have constructed a fully viable, fully entrenched, vision of your manuscript’s future while it still doesn’t even know how it will end. The characters are gathering for an intervention and you’re in the corner wallowing about how nobody will ever care about anything you write. Ever. I suppose if I were a parent, I might better understand this, or how to cope with it. My cat doesn’t inspire worry. Her naps will always be quality naps.

So, I’ll stare at the computer screen, eyeing the open Internet tabs, finger ready to open Scrivener. I might read what I have to that point, if I haven’t wandered off already. Maybe pack the laptop and head out for coffee, read it there. Maybe take a drive to hunt for inspiration. It doesn’t happen all the time, and generally by the time I’ve begun typing, my fears have waned. My characters are at the forefront. I’m a God, moving pieces, orchestrating fates, divining obstacles. All is good. My work is good. My story is good. My book, so far, is good.

I’m a writer. I don’t write simply because I can. I write to entertain, to bring something to someone’s life they will enjoy and share. It’s narcissistic, cathartic, inspiring, and humbling. I like to imagine a God, creating a Universe, filling worlds with living creatures, molding paths, futures, destinies, holding arms to Heavens when the job is done, with a notable “Huh? Awesome, right?” expression. That God would be bummed if even the crickets went silent. I guess it’s okay for me to be as well.

I just need to keep writing.

Maybe a drive first, though.

How to Count to Five in Eight Easy Numbers

A couple of things up front. First, my “every day with a blog about Wordsmiths” thing didn’t work. I blame the snow. And the logjam of work it piled up in the process. And my need to do actual writing that benefits my future. And side projects I don’t talk about that take up more of my personal time. And Bush. Secondly, I find my titles in the bottom of coffee cups, so don’t blame me if they fail to convert into meaning of any sort, or link to the post I ultimately write.

Nothing is my fault. I am the fault of nothing. The Nothing. Oh, that was a good movie. Like.

There aren’t many days left to February, which means I have only a few more opportunities to write about my wayward bookstore before it’s five-year-closing anniversary sweeps on by. So, some of what I might have written about (which perhaps might not have been that interesting anyway) gets canned like Armageddon Tuna. I don’t know what Armageddon Tuna is, so don’t ask, but I’m sure it makes sense somewhere to someone. Hopefully, they have a can opener. The rest of the process of opening and closing a bookstore is really just a matter of money anyway. Or, lack thereof. Having cited how the store got behind at the outset, I don’t think there’s much mystery left. Quite a lot less than, say, how I can write a heartfelt post about Wonderboy, and not hear a peep from him about it. That’s quite mysterious to me.

Take away the stress-laden nausea-inducing daily grind of owning Wordsmiths Books, and what I’m left to talk about are a few standout moments, and a few exceptional people. Maybe I’ll find the time to go one more post deep about the inner mechanics. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll drink more coffee and see if my dog’s empathetic beacon fries. Beacon fries? Bacon fries. Whoa. Want.

Bacon. The momentum killer.

Where was I?

Um.

Dunno. My brain just completely stopped.

Well, regardless, I know what I had planned on writing about, so let’s a get a move on.

In addition to the forthcoming Closing-Date anniversary, there’s a far more pleasant anniversary to celebrate. Five years ago tonight, Wordsmiths Books held its final event. There are a great many things about that night I will always remember, but saying farewell to my employees as they passed through the door a final time (I was to work the last week alone…it just seemed appropriate, and a bit necessary to be honest) was heart wrenching.  I knew I’d see most of them again, true, but it didn’t lessen the blow. They were my family. Another memory involves a debate on the stage, which is easily my favorite moment ever in the entire run of Wordsmiths, and the next post in line. So, stick that in your pocket for now. The event that night, however, marked something special for me. It marked the launch of Anointed.

Best pile of books ever.

Best pile of books ever.

For the first time, with more than 100 people in attendance–friends, family, and some devoted customers as well–I read published work of mine in public. It served as a nice transition into my post-bookstore life. Closing the doors while opening a new set. Despite what I knew was to come less than a week later, the building was filled with laughter, smiles, cheerful conversation, hope. I couldn’t have scripted a better end. I closed out the brief but notable tenure of the Wordsmiths stage, overextending my reading like an uncomfortable goodbye, signing books, offering the store banner for everyone to sign, and somehow being far too busy to eat some of the best cookies ever made (which were made by The Moss, who found herself in my life almost two years later, cookie recipe along with, so I win). If the best thing to come of opening Wordsmiths was that night, then all the stress was worth it. Granted, it wasn’t the best thing, but it surely hit the top (insert arbitrary number not to exceed five here).

Anointed isn’t the best thing I’ll ever write, but it’s entertaining, was well reviewed, and had strangers tweeting and writing about their enjoyment in it. Likewise, Wordsmiths Books isn’t the best thing I’ll ever do in my life, but it had an impact, was well received, and created a family full of generous memories I’ll treasure forever. Though I’m ready to let go of the pain, I’ll never let go of those memories, of my people, or of the smile I get every time I see the logo.

Wordsmiths Logo

This New Stuff is New and Also Stuff

In 2009, my first book, Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO, was published. Publishers Weekly had this to say:

“Steele’s biting satire takes on megachurches and their murky brew of faith and business. Nagged by his wife into interviewing for the CEO spot of a 2,000-year-old religious corporation, Timothy Webb becomes Timmy Christ despite himself. He’s shocked to learn that his primary responsibilities are to profits and image rather than his followers’ genuine needs. After a slapstick start, a scheming Judas, a protective, repentant Satan and a murderous Anti-Christ show up to deepen the tale. Timmy soon discovers that battling supernatural evil is only slightly more difficult than challenging the legal labyrinths of the Christ Corporation Council. Those who endure the initial over-the-top chapters will enjoy the notion of a Christ CEO wanting to be Christ-like, presented in a mix of raucous fun and deep questions.”

It was nominated for the 2010 Sidewise Award for Alternate Fiction. Pretty cool stuff. I like that people have to endure my writing.

In 2011, the follow-up, Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction was published. I had this to say about it:

“Oh, hey, I have another book out. Cooool.”

In 2013, I had … oh, um, nothing published. That’s a bit of a bummer. Actually, 2013 in general has been a bit of a bummer, so perhaps it’s best to leave the publishing for another time. After all, 2014 is another number! I mean, year. 2014 is another year. I never get that right.

Mind you, my lack of publication hasn’t been for a lack of trying, or writing, but more a product of circumstance as well as a determination to produce quality material. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time refining my craft.  I don’t want my work to be good.  I want it to be great.  I want it to be unforgettable. My determination to improve aside, there was this: On August 19th, Mercury Retrograde Press, publisher of my first two books announced they would be ceasing operations as of January 2014, which was quite sad news to hear for various reasons, not the least selfish of them being my desire to spin a third novel in the Timothy Webb Universe into their eager hands. The War Maiden, the origin story of everyone’s favorite Satan, Natasha, has a beginning written, a generous plot, and now a nice cozy shelf to sit upon. At some point, I’ll get back to it. Likely as an ebook series of novelettes. On the plus side, however, the MRP closing reverts rights of Anointed and Flutter to me, so I’ll be reissuing those as ebooks in 2014. Not sure if I’ll make any changes to the text. Perhaps some additional material will be added.  You’ll want to buy them even if you already own them, though, because you love me so much.

In the meantime, my attention has been transfixed on a bugger of a book. I refer, of course, to the most time-consuming and personally-invested manuscript I have ever worked on: The Storyteller, Book one of five, The Shadowheart. I have worked on this for close to three years, the idea a bit of a noodle in my head for close to a decade. I’ve talked about it, discussed it, written it, rewritten it, edited it (again and again and again ad naseum) and rewritten it once more. I’ve sent it to Beta readers, agents, and discussed the concept with several editors. And now it’s as done as I can get it. I love it. I think it’s brilliant. I think you’ll love it. I think you’ll never pick up a book again without wondering if the universe the story resides within is real. I think Oliver Miles will win you over, and his cadre of friends will keep you amused. I think, above all, if someone will publish it, I will be extraordinarily happy. The series is somewhere in the Middle Reader (8-14) and Young Adult genres, depending on who you talk to. Either way, it’s friendly to kids and to adults. There have been some bites on it, one significant, others mere nibbles, and I hope to secure something before too long. I’m still open to Beta Readers, providing you’ll actually read it and offer insights, but I’m not sure how much more work I can do on it until an Editor has it in hand. Regardless, I’ll be talking more about it now, offering some snippets here and there. So, be on the lookout. I seek your thoughts. Share away.

With The Storyteller sitting in wait, books two through five will be on hold, allowing me the opportunity to toss a few more literary grenades down the pipe. The series of novelettes of The War Maiden is in line, and likely to find a voice in 2014 (which I would publish myself), but my focus at the moment is squarely on a manuscript with a working title of Specimen A. Easily the most complex story I’ve worked on, I’m stepping out of the satire game, to bring a more contemporary voice to the Science Fiction genre. Or maybe it’s Fantasy. Or more Speculative Fiction. I don’t know. There will probably be a new genre in the next six minutes anyway. I should probably wait on that one. I’ve written about religion. I’ve written about the imaginative power of an artist. Now, I’m writing about the reality of human existence and the overwhelming power of a mind awakened. Until I’m further along, there isn’t much more I can offer, but suffice to say, reality isn’t what you think it is. You aren’t what you think you are. And they would prefer you not figure it out.

Other concepts floating about: The Almost Heroic Life of Joey Flapp, a silly little romp of adventure, hope, and exploding cows which I’m looking forward to; and, The As of Yet Unnamed But Forever Talked About Zombie Story About Life Decades After the Zombie Apocalypse and Was Once Called The Zombie Rocker but Now isn’t Because I’m Not Sold on the Original Tone. The latter is a long title. Less of a working title than a poorly conceived description in italics. I might even write it as a screenplay. I don’t know. This could have a lot to do with why I haven’t written it yet.

Anyway, point being, I have a lot I’m working on. Now that The Storyteller is complete, I can focus on these other projects. Hopefully, I’ll be able to line up publications going forward so that the gaps are non-existent. That would be ideal. As would your willingness to buy them.

I had intended to write about my blog changes, not the least of which is the alteration of the site’s address. My former website is no more, and all information will be directed here. But that didn’t happen. And since you’re already thinking about dinner, or what the kids have done now, or your own ideas that are far more engrossing, I’ll leave that for another entry.

In the meantime, here’s an early snapshot of a possible new Anointed cover, as well as the less than exciting reveal of my new nom de plume:

Just playing around with it for now.

Just playing around with it for now.

 

What To Do When Your Face Looks Like a Foot

As I posted nearly a couple weeks ago, I’m a glutton for punishment. Just for the sheer entertainment of it, I watch the Kardashians (all the shows!), Gossip Girl, however minutes of 90210 I can handle, MTV Road Rules, Britney Spears videos, and bad movies like Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter or MegaShark vs. Giant Octopus. I don’t do this because I undervalue quality programming, or because I feel there’s nothing better to do with my time. I do it because these shows and movies are devised by and filled with idiots. Idiocy is fun to watch. Surviving idiocy is a challenge. Before you challenge that, allow me to rest the blame on the retail world. I spent too many years serving idiots and now I have no recourse but to find it elsewhere in my life, lest I get another retail job simply to feed the need. I’m programmed this way by too many pointless and stupid questions by far too many dense and corrupted minds to ever be saved.

Hence this whole “make me watch something I’ll despise and live blog it” thing I’m starting today. Listen, much like sitting down to an episode of Gossip Girl, I’m not looking forward to being exposed to Sex & the City–certainly not for 6 straight hours. Even in watching one hour of any of the programs listed above, I do so yelling at it, calling out the characters and weak writing, and rolling my eyes every 5 minutes. But I value entertainment, and if I can entertain people whilst suffering through shows I, at my core, cannot stand, then it’s not truly for nothing. It’s my version of falling on the sword on your behalf.

Granted, it isn’t as if Sex & the City is a show that most people hate. But it’s a starting point. And no matter the confidence shown by some of you that I, too, will like this show, I’m not hopeful. Maybe in small doses, but not a whole season of it at once. That’s an overdose of idiocy. I’ll be cranky by the time it’s over. And yet, I leave the call open for more. Name something that I can watch for, let’s say, up to 12 hours straight that would be on par with the above. It can be a show, a series of videos, a collection of movies, you name it and I’ll do it. And I’ll live blog the event. This is your chance to annoy me. Make it count. The only caveat–naturally–is that it’s something I have to be able to get my hands on in order to watch.

So, today at 4. It begins. I hope to utilize the live blog function for live events as well. The Oscars, for example. Or the Super Bowl, so that we can pick apart the new commercials and Madonna’s attempt at a halftime show. What other live shows/events should I do?

I wanted to post a video from Family Guy, referencing Sarah Jessica Parker’s face looking like a foot, but I couldn’t find it and I need more coffee. Hopefully, I’ll find it in time to include it today’s live blog. In the meantime, an dead friend of mine–a hacker, obviously–has resurrected his Twitter account. He claims he’s going to use it to tell people the truth about life, but from what I can gather, he just wants to annoy people. One of his opening salvos was this one about Tim Tebow. After that, he went on a mini-rampage about Christianity, then disappeared. Hopefully he comes back, whoever he is.

Jesus is no Broncos fan

Catching Up on the Writering

So Kate Gosselin is “freaking out “ over her show being cancelled.

I really don’t care.  I just couldn’t come up with an intro.

Although, seriously?  She’s upset because her career has been derailed?  Watch the video.  It’s amazing how much she sounds like…well, like Kate Gosselin.  Woman’s nuttier than a can of almonds.

It’s been some time since life has allowed me the time and energy to focus on writing, as well as the myriad other projects I want to work on.  Now that I’ve left my post at The Corner Bookstore, I’m going to dive headlong into the wordy pool and see what comes of it.  The primary objective right now is to finish Book 1 in The Storyteller series, which is tentatively called The Heart of Darkness.  I should, all things being equal, complete that manuscript some time in October (preferably before I head to Richmond, Va for The James River Writers Confererence).

As I manage that daunting task, I mean to pick up the pieces of the abandoned Bookstore series of videos (newest one below) and continue building a platform with which to turn my bizzaro experiences as a bookseller into a television pilot.  Think Arrested Development meets The Office and you’ll get a decent idea. Something that allows for a good bit of insanity but is more character driven than built around the location. I hope to have a new video up every Wednesday.

Additionally, I’ll have a few posts to add to The Adventures of Ducky Thomas, including his long overdue story of traveling to New York City.  That post, for what it’s worth will be called The Massive Warship, and has an awful lot to do with his visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The hope with Ducky is to translate his adventures into chapter books. I think the world needs stories about an adventurous duck. Ducky agrees.

Now that Flutter is out and selling, I will be returning again to the world of Timothy Webb and telling what may, or may not, be the final book in that series. I’m rather fond of Timothy and Natasha, so I may violate ever known rule of writing just to hang on to them. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, The Christ Corporation Series has a Facebook page. Like it. I’ll be posting updates there.

Finally, staring me in the face with the depth and deadness of a salivating zombie is a story that takes the traditional Zombie Apocalypse for rocking ride where it’s never been before. Not sure yet if I want to write the novel or the screenplay, but as I have information to offer, I’ll be tossing it up here on the blog.

…of which I will be visiting more often. Obviously, right?

So with nothing in my way but myself, all of these projects will be complete or underway within the next six months.  I’m piling it on and looking forward to what comes of it.

Oh, and in the near future I’ll be looking for you to determine what absolutely ridiculous show I show blog about on a regular basis. That one is wide open.  Anything from Springer to Gossip Girl, from The View to 90210. It’s not my call. It’s yours. I’m not sure who I hope to entertain more with that, but I’m quite positive it will be me.

That said, here’s the latest in The Bookstore series, called Potter is Hotter. Time to decide between Cullen and Potter. And pretty dresses.

Back to The Bookstore

The most recent episode of The Bookstore is a fair bit of a self-indulgence. But this is my universe, so I’ll construct it as I like, thank you. Actually, the true point of these videos is simply to entertain and tell a story, and it is my great hope that do exactly that.  But I would be remiss in not utilizing it to also promote myself, so why not have Eddie profess me to be one of the greatest writers ever?  I was rather touched by his sentiment, even if he’s just doing so in a vain attempt to bait me into doing an event at The Bookstore.

I’ve upgraded to Xtranormal’s new movie-making program, which they call State.  It allows for more than 2 characters–which I’ve utilized here–and the ability to move characters around.  There’s a nifty voice over thingy that I will ultimately have to give a try, but for now…baby steps.

As with every project I ever undertake, I’m open to comments, thoughts, and ideas.  Additionally, I’m very (I think I mean to say VERY) open to you sharing these videos on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere you socially congregate.  As well, you can visit the videos on my You Tube page, and add comments, likes, and so forth.  Don’t underestimate how much it helps.  Same with my books on Amazon.  It’s a public forum in which people who have never heard of me (like Stacy in the video) have the opportunity to read what other people are saying.

Ok, enough promoting. Here’s the fourth video in The Bookstore series, Going Viral.

 

More ME in NYC, Day 2

I didn’t want to go to sleep last night.  For a long time (once I had fully comitted myself to leaving Facebook and the plethora–what is a plethora?–of comments and such from yesterday’s activity) I just stared out the window at the city.  I think I was still in that, “Am I really here” phase that most of us go through when we’ve come to visit an exciting place, or a place we’re excited about because it isn’t exciting at all but quiet because everyone else isn’t  there.  Anyway, I left the shades open, and woke up the minute the light touched the sky.  Times like this, and times like this only, that I don’t mind short sleep.  Thus began the day.  I have no idea where I’m going now, only that I’m about to walk out the door.

8:32 am: I meander downstairs, showered & happy to MY free Marriott breakfast.  Before you get too excited, free, in this instance, is bagels and toast and cereal and coffee.  Honestly, I was happiest about the free coffee.  More so that they had little packages of Coffe-Mate French Vanilla creamer available.  MY caffeinated dessert, what you mortals call coffee, in hand, I was ready to face the day.

10:15 am: While on MY way to the Library, I stop for the 1st of 2 visits to Bryant Park, situated right next door (door? somehow, that seems wrong).  It’s a peaceful place in the morning.  Probably an excellent place to drink some coffee and wake up while people watching.  Hey!  That’s what I was doing!

I can haz nap?

I can haz nap?

 

Hello funny hat man!

Hello funny hat man!

10:10 a.m: New York Public Library.  I didn’t go in, as I’ve been there before & I’m running short on time before I meet Russ at (or around, on Russ time) 11.  Snapped a couple pictures of the lions, and some various shots of the local landscape, but nothing you wouldn’t have seen a bajillion times before on tourist brochures.  I’m beginning to get a little worried about the calm lack of adventure the day is displaying thus far.  What, Monday comes and we all act normal again?  What’s up with that?

10:21 a.m: Walking up 5th Ave, on MY way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral when it suddenly occurs to ME that I’ve been singing the coffee toffee twisted frosty song in MY head for the last hour.  Damn!  In order to purge the madness, I grant the repetitive lyrics to you

Coffee toffee, twisted frosty!

Do you wanna get frosty with me?

10:32 a.m: I arrive at St. Patty’s to discover that MY favorite NYC landmark is still there.  You can never be too sure when religion is involved.  Could have been swept away in a moment of vengeance.  Glad to see that they are renovating some of the exterior.  Most people are aware that I do not believe you can find God in a church, despite the fact that they exist, seemingly, for the that sheer purpose alone.  You can find religion in a church though, and St. Patty’s never disappoints.

Stained Glass in St. Patty's

Stained Glass in St. Patty'sCeiling at St. Patty's

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral

 

11:11 a.m: Lunch with Russ at Chipolte’s.  I need about 3 more cups of coffee to keep up with the speed at which he is talking.  Russ, I’m still a Southerner!  Slow down!

12:25 p.m: Russ & I have broken up, though I believe it to be short term.  Once he slows down his speech, we’ll be all right.  I decide to head back to 42nd street, and over to Grand Central Station, since I didn’t have time before, then head back to St. Patrick’s because, well, because it’s so freakin’ awesome.  Aside from the fact that I think of The Day After Tomorrow everytime I go into Grand Central, I rather enjoy it.  It is the pinnacle of activity.  Busy, busy, busy little people scoot around from one to the other, or from one floor to the other, to the fooditorium downstairs, or simply dodging pesky tourists with cameras.  OH!  Actually, the main floor of Grand Central is home to a scene from one of my favorite movies, K-Pax, so maybe all isn’t bad.  The travesty has been undone.  Sorry Mr. Gyllenhal and Mr. Quaid, but that movie just sucked.  Wolves?  Really?  Wolves in NYC? 

1:35 p.m: Back at St. Patrick’s for about 30 minutes.  It’s fantastic to absorb to just sit and absorb the history of the place.  Unfortunately, and by design I do believe, the pews are dreadfully uncomfortable to sit on for an extended period of time.  How can you feel the presence of God if you’re massaging your butt every five minutes!

2:25 p.m: Back at the hotel where I attempted a nap.  No go.  Nap fail.  Too easily distracted am I.  Answer the phone?  Sure!  Text messages, absolutely!  Facebook chats?  Well, I can’t be rude!  Anyway, it’s 5:30 now and I’m about to get ready for night one at The Tank.  I may, and or may not, post pictures and update the blog later this evening.  MY guess is on the no side.  You may just have to wait until tomorrow.  And, hey, whoa!  I totally buzzed a fly today!

I seez you mister flyz!

I seez you mister flyz!

Ok, so maybe it isn’t that cool.  But still, I had to wait a long time for that shot.