Sunday, September 7, 2014

Wow long time no blog again!

So, a lot of things have changes in the 2 years I've been gone.

That Steampunk Christmas story?  Finished it, and shopped it around but got nothing but rejection letters.  Specifically, I got form letter rejections.  Which is no good. So that story went on the shelf. I may bring it down someday to re-work it, but I suspect not.  It's probably not very good.  Just too dark to be a solid Christmas story.

Also, I've kinda stopped writing anything steampunk.  And by kinda I mean I have stopped writing it completely.  The reasons are actually pretty simple- it was the community.  Specifically, how that community treated writers.  And that was poorly.

I won't name specific people or groups, because that's rude, but I'll just say that having been banned from groups for offering a counter opinion, and being told repeatedly that what I was writing "wasn't real steampunk" I got tired of the flak and stopped interacting with the fan base but kept writing.  However, I would talk with other writers about my experience, and find that they were going through the same thing.  Being kicked out of groups and being told repeatedly that what they were doing wasn't steampunk.

After that, I just stopped.  What's the point of writing something for a group that has no interest in it?  I can't see it.

Now, does that mean I quit writing altogether?  Hell no!

In fact, you can read my latest short over at Freedom Fiction Magazine.  Here's a link:

It's good stuff.  It's about a detective who lives in a super hero world where the fix is in, and heroes get away with murder.  Or at least try to.  I've got a few other stories like that floating around, waiting to get picked up or rejected.  I've also just finished a short novel.  Which is pretty cool.

Also, I moved out of Austin.  It was a hard choice, but one we had to make.  We wanted to be closer to family for our boys- oh, yeah, I had a 2nd son.  That's new too..  Anyway, we wanted to be closer to family.  As cool as Austin is, it's not as cool as having the grandparents babysit.

So,  yeah. Big changes.  Am I still writing steampunk?  Nope!  Am I still writing? Oh yeah!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Learning to observe

Fatherhood has changed me in ways I did not expect.  I have a 2 year old son.  There were a lot of things I knew would happen like giving up free time, activities, hobbies, and other stuff I had grown accustomed to doing whenever I wanted.  But it was how early that my son learned to communicate, and to the extent that he does so non-verbally has surprised me.  Over the last year, I've learned to communicate with him pretty effectively using a mix of verbal and non-verbal means. But really what I've learned the most from my son is how to pick up on subtle things like body language, intention, motion, and action to determine what someone means when they communicate with you.

Let me give you an example:

My son has been eating Cheerios as a regular part of his diet almost as soon as we could give him solids.  He loved them at first, shoving fistfuls of them in his mouth at a time.  But I suspect that may be changing. That his interest in O's is waning. Specifically, this morning I gave him a small bowl of O's, that's what we call them, O's. 

It's our special name for the cereal.  O's.

Anyway, I give him a small bowl.  He sips on his milk for a bit, pondering the bowl of oat rings, as if he were deciding something very important about them.  Something philosophical and profound about O's.  I waited and quietly watched, not wanting to intrude on this young minds process.  I was delighted to be present for what was obviously a moment of self-discovery for my young son.  I wondered what he would remember of this moment, and how it would shape his life.

With concise effort he reached out, grabbed a handful of O's as he's done for most mornings for over a year.  He opened his fist and stared at them. He gave the O's his full consideration.  He took in what they were, and how they existed on his hand. He slowly rotated his hand over, and dropped all of the O's on the kitchen floor.  He was careful to make sure that they all fell down, even the ones that stuck to his skin.  He grabbed a second handful, and this time he dropped them one by one, letting each O hit the ground before releasing the next one. 

It was only when he had fully dumped both handfuls on the ground did he get out of his small chair, and proceed to where he had left his little scooter car.  Once mounted on the car, he then drove his scooter back and forth over the spilled O's.  And I feel it's important here to point out that he did so with no glee but instead with deliberate relish. He took the time to ensure that each one was first broken, and then ground down again and again until there was only the scattered remnants of O's on the ground.   He then dismounted, and resumed his place at the table in his toddler sized chairs. 

He pushed the bowl back at me, and resumed sipping on the milk in his glass, his lip stuck out in a fair imitation of his grandfather's pout. 

" about a banana for breakfast then?" I asked.  He nodded that would be acceptable.  

You see what I mean?  It's the little things, the small actions that tell you what a person means beyond what it is they say.  And I think I'm getting it down- being a father and an observer.  

Getting it down.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Whoa...where did the time go?

So it looks like I took some time off from Blogging.  About a year.

Which, I cold have sworn was only like a month or so ago.  Damn.  Where does the time go?

Well, in my case it's split between a day job, my kid, my wife, yard work, and writing.  And not usually in that order.  So when it comes to choosing between working on the next chapter or writing a blog, guess which one got picked?

Not that 2012 was the best publishing year for me.  I garnered all rejections on my short stories, and while I sold a novella that company went out of business.  So, from a writing perspective it's been kind of a crap year.

Now, mind you, I've improved my craft by continuing to practice at it.  I've expanded my circle of industry connections.  I've participated in the raising of my child- extremely important to me. So, I've put my time and energy into the people and things I consider important.

But back to writing steampunk.  I've got the time travel novella sitting around from last year. It needs a re-write.  Originally, it was about a young inventor type that built a time machine, and traveled back in time to save his father's life in time for Christmas.

He failed, but learned a vital lesson about life that was remarkably similar to the Christmas Carol life lesson.  He had a side-kick that was secretly the Angel sent to guide him through those choices- yes, I was crossing It's A Wonderful Life with A Christmas Carol.  What?  It's totally allowed.

Anyway, I think I need to add a character, specifically the love interest already in the story.  She can function as the antagonist that wants him to fail- she filed a complaint with the police over the noise he makes building the machine- and the life lesson they both learn is to be more charitable.

Seriously, you can't go wrong with a love interest that is working against the protagonist.  Instant drama! 

Sounds like a winner winner Christmas dinner, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Abandoned Houses

Since I was a kid I have been fascinated by abandoned houses.  Growing up in the corn belt I saw plenty of old farm houses falling down from the inside out.  Most of them would be out in the middle of a corn field, set well back from the highway or road.

To this day, I look at them and can't help but wonder about who built it, who was the first person to walk into it and  call it home?  Who was the last person to leave it?  Did someone die there, born there, have their first kiss, or heart broken there?

courtesy of
Houses like this:

They don't make houses like that anymore.  That house was made for someone.  Someone saved up enough money, and had it built just for them.  Not as a part of a housing development.  Not some master planned community.

What were their dreams and their hopes?  Did they imagine their children's children living there?  Was it supposed to stay in the family, providing shelter for generations?

Or did they mean for it to be used once, and thrown away like houses are today?

Both of my Grandfather's built their houses themselves- that's right, they built them.  By hand.  They were amazing men. They knew they would die owning those houses.  They would raise their families in those houses.  And they did.  I was a child in those houses.

I picked my house out of a MLS data base, toured it once and said, "good enough."

I see these kinds of pictures, and wonder what the original owner would say.  Would they shrug and walk away, not really caring or would they weep?

I think they would be let down.  Saddened by how cheaply someone regarded their sacrifices and efforts.  I can't help but think that we are somehow less because of it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mission: innocent cover leak

Exciting news!

A friend of mine Suzanne Lazear just got in the cover for her upcoming book Innocent Darkness (book 1 of THE AETHER CHRONICLE).

I know!  Exciting!

Suzzane is so happy with the cover design she's totally leaked it to her friends.  And  now I'm totally gonna leak it to the internet.  I'm joking, she said I could do this.  

No, really, she did.

Anyway, here it is:

Now, normally I'm really "meh" about covers but I like this one.  What can I say?  I'm a sucker for red head's in goggles.  Or just red heads.  And airships.  Seriously, that one in the back?  You could have a couple of adventures on that thing.  That thing will certainly take you to a lost jungle with giant monkeys or dinosaur's or something. Maybe something with a lost temple.

You're thinking you want to pre-order it now, right?  Well, you can't (it doesn't come out until 8-12).  But you CAN add it to your Goodreads "to read" shelf.  Here.

You can also sign up for Suzanne's (the afore mentioned friend) non-spammy newsletter. I signed up for it a while ago, and it has yet to taste of pork shoulder.  Or spam me, for that matter.  

Oh, and Suzanne is so excited she's having a contest where you can win something.  I'm not going to reveal what that is (but you can totally find out by going to her blog).

So, yeah, cover leaked.  Mission accomplished!

Time for some breakfast tea!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September the 11th

Ever wonder how an event a 1000 miles away can change a life?

Here's how 9-11 changed mine.

I had been married for a few months when my wife and I decided to settle down in Austin. We were working dead-end, nothing jobs.  I was working early mornings in a stock room for Target, and she worked nights for the IRS.   We had dropped out of college because we couldn't think of a reason to stay.

I had that day off, so I slept in until she got home.  We made breakfast, and I put her to bed.  We had just watched a movie on DVD the night before.  Fight Club.  I considered watching it again but decided not to because a cartoon I had wanted to see would be on that morning.

I turned on the TV.

Instead of the cartoon I wanted to watch every channel had the same thing- one of the towers of the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane.  I sat there, enraptured by the devastation, watching the smoke pour out of the one tower.

I decided to wake her up when the second plan hit the other tower.

We sat there and watched it all unfold, unable to look away.  She screamed when the first tower fell.  I cried. We knew the world was changing.  We knew things would be bad for a long time to come.  Her brother was stationed in Korea.  My sister lived north of the towers.  A few months later she would leave New York for LA, moving across the entire country in the aftermath.

As we laid down that night, unable to really sleep, I couldn't stop thinking about the movie from the night before- Fight Club.  A specific scene kept playing out in my head- the convenience store scene. Tyler had a gun to the clerks head, and asked him if he were to die right now would he have anything to say for  his life.

The clerk said no.

I knew that was my answer too.  If I had been in those towers, if I had died when they collapsed I wouldn't have anything to say for my life either.  It wasn't enough.

  I had fancied myself a writer.  But I hadn't ever produced anything.  The most I had ever done was in high school, writing character biographies and two page stories for my RPG group.  We played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons.

But all that that was going to change.  A month later I enrolled at a University near us.  By January I was back in school full time while working a full time job.  A semester later my wife joined me at school.

By chance, or maybe fate, the school was one of the tops for its fiction writing program (in the top 5 for the nation), and I threw myself into it.  By the time I graduated I was a leader in my classes.   While I spent the next years working equally pointless jobs, I kept writing.  Getting rejections, but I kept at it.  If you've read my other blog entries, you know how long I kept at it.

If I were going to die tomorrow, I would have something to say about my life.  I could leave something behind that people would remember.  

That still drives me to this day.   Before 9-11 I had been the poster-boy for slackers.  My biggest ambition was to wake up to watch a cartoon. Now?  now I own my own house.  I have a son.  Now I want to write stories that touch people's hearts, that make them stay up way past their bed times to read just one more page.  I want to leave something behind when I die that makes people say, "He really got it.  He really understood things."

And that's how an event a 1000 miles away can change a life.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

super hero story

Well, I've started it.  A tale of super hero-ness.

Well, not really.  It's set in a world of super heroes.  And he wants to be one.  He's got the powers and everything.  It's just set in a more realistic world. 

Why does everyone cringe when any one says "setting the hero in a more realistic world"?

Because, generally, that is pretty cringe worthy.  Usually the writer forgets to bring in the bits about super heroes we love- the super heroics, and it's a lot of whining about their job.  Which we can get plenty of that at home, so why buy a story about it?  

Don't worry, plenty of heroics.  Lots of laser breathing penguins.  Inter dimensional threats.  a plot to destroy the world. Giant Lizard robots.  sled dog robots.  A Hammer of Justice. 

No, this is more realistic in how I think a world of super heroes would be.  It would be like professional wrestling mixed with major league baseball.   Trading cards, product endorsements, and big money contracts.   They'd have twitter accounts.  Reality TV shows. 

The whole media thing. 

The matches would be fixed.  They would arrange betrayls and double crosses well ahead of time.  Images would be marketed, and product lines in place.   Product ready to be shipped.  People would willingly believe their heroes were geniune rather than another facet of the entertainment machine.

That's what I mean by real.

Oh, and this guy is going to have to deal with cancer.  because this all started with the thought, "What if Superman's mom got cancer?  He can't punch cancer." 

This story has been burning to get out of my head for weeks now.  I am going to rip through this thing like...the French through cheese!  The English through tea!  American's through transfats!