So It Goes. It’s what Vonnegut said about death in Slaughterhouse Five. I’m not writing about a death — I hope — but it was at least a long coma.
If you peek at the date of my last post, you’ll see it was a little over a year ago. Yes, a year. I wish I could say that I’ve been too busy writing to blog. Not so. I’ve been busy being busy. Life gets in the way…can’t find time to write…writer’s block…the same old tired excuses. Bottom line, I really haven’t been a writer for the past couple years. So it goes.
But the writer in me isn’t dead. He’s been in hibernation, sulking in the back corner of my psyche waiting for me to stop sulking in the front corner of my psyche. It’s been a rough couple years for me, no doubt. It’s been tough to focus on anything at all, let along writing. So it goes.
I find myself at the precipice of a lot of change. I have a new job in a new city which means a new house which means unloading the old house (hey, wanna buy a house?) and uprooting my child which means altering the custody schedule. Good thing I have all this time during summer break to get things taken care of. Right, time. Why doesn’t there seem to be any? So it goes.
As every writer knows, time isn’t something you find, it’s something you make. I was horrified when I realized that I hadn’t made any time for anything writing related short of conventions (another topic for another post). So today I changed that. I started small, with a few little flash fiction submissions (one reprint and two unpublished gems I had lying around). I had to really scratch my head just to recall how to write a cover letter. Three little stories in the wind for a few weeks/months. And suddenly the ekg attached to this comatose writer made a little blip. So it goes. Or so it comes?
Yes, I need to return to actually writing to really resurrect myself as a writer. That’s coming. Directly. But much like a coma patient with atrophied musculature, I can’t just leap out of bed and start typing a marathon. I have to make sure I remember how to walk, then jog, then maybe some running. Even just sitting up on the bed feels good. Time to see what the floor feels like under my feet.
Let’s see how this goes.
One of my favorite cons of the year is right around the corner. Chattanooga’s LibertyCon is this coming weekend. Historically, LC is a great con for writers (which usually means a great con for readers, too) with a great little con suite (did someone say beer?) and a welcoming atmosphere. This year they have me booked pretty tight. I think that’s a good thing. We’ll see. If you’re looking, here’s where and when you’ll find me.
- 3pm – The Flutter-by Effect: Time Travel in Literature – We talk paradoxes and explore what other compelling elements time travel has to offer. I’m moderating this one! [Gallery A]
- 5pm – Opening Ceremonies – Meet the guests and professionals. I guess that includes me. [Centennial Theater]
- 7pm – Autograph Session – Come on by; I’ll sign anything! I prefer to sign my book, of course. I’ll happily sell you one. [Dealers’ Room]
- 10pm – Messiest Ways to Kill a Zombie – This one is always a lot of fun. There’s a rason it’s this late, folks; leave the kiddies at home if they have sensitive ears. In other words, kiddies should probably leave the grown-ups at home. [Centennial Theater]
- 11am – Urban Fantasies – I’m sure this will be “What are they? What’s new? What’s next?” and all that. So if you’re interested in urban fantasy, come on by. [Gallery A]
- 1pm – What’s New in Horror and Dark Fantasy? (Roundtable) – Should be self-explanatory. Lots of people on this one. [Centennial Theater]
- 8pm – Reading: Scott W. Baker (a.k.a. me) & Mark Wandrey – I’m not sure what I’ll read. I guess I should probably pick something I wrote… [American Room Train Car]
- 10am – Meet the Locals (Roundtable) – I reckon there are a bunch of us Tennessee-livin’ authors at the con. With John Ringo moderating us, there’s no telling where the discussion will go. [Centennial Theater]
- 1pm – Autograph Session – Last chance to come chat and get my autograph. You can sell it on ebay for…okay, you probably can’t sell it on ebay. Yet. [Dealers’ Room]
I stumbled across the movie Authors Anonymous at Redbox. It’s a mockumentary about a writing group. And it’s on the nose about wannabe writers. Is it good? Maybe not. It will likely only appeal to writers and people who know writers. The way writers interact is perfect, especially when one achieves success and the claws come out.
And Penny in glasses? What’s not to like?
The disheartening part is seeing all the not-writing cliches I let myself slip into. So yes, I should get to the writing. Now.
Oops! It seems I accidentally published my lesson plans to this blog instead of my school blog. Sorry about that, friends. And once again I get enough breathing time to realize how stagnant this blog has become. So let’s do some catching up.
First of all, let’s talk beer. Yes, beer. I like beer. Not all are created equal, of course. So one feels the need to try a few. Nothing draws a nerd in like a compelling label. And I’ve found a few of late. Let’s discuss.
Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout – New Holland Brewing – 10.0% AbV: I confess, I discovered this one visiting a growler shop a while back (at least a year ago). I’ve been looking to find it again ever since. Yes, the name was enough to rope me in. It helped that I have become a lover of dark beers over the last few years. Let me tell you, Dragon’s Milk is one of my favorites. The label insists it has “Roasty malt character intermingled with deep vanilla tones, all dancing in an oak bath.” I don’t know about all that, but it’s got a great flavor without wandering into the coffee zone.
It’s a high gravity offering from New Holland, so you won’t find it just anywhere. Not likely a grocery store beer, at least not around here. I found a four pack about a week ago and couldn’t resist. It was as good as I remember. I did get a little ambitious with my first bottle and drank it too cold. Don’t do that. But I guess that’s Stout 101.
Oh, and it ain’t cheap. I think I paid about $4 a bottle. Still, I’d pay that at a bar, so it’s worth it for special occasions.
DeiselPunk Stout – World Brews – 5.8% AbV: Style over substance. This one wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly memorable. I’m not sure if I’d buy it again, but I’d probably drink it again. I’m definitely keeping the bottle.
I bought a pack a few months ago. Costs more than it’s worth, but not too much of a strain. I’ve gotten fairly picky with my taste of late, so I suppose my indifference isn’t too low an endorsement. Still, not one too feel bad about missing.
Wells Banana Bread Beer – Wells & Young Brewing – 5.2% AbV: Okay, this one isn’t so much nerdy as…unexpected. Banana bread beer? Really? That can’t possibly be…hey, it’s good. It’s really good. A definite dessert beer, mind you. It manages to taste like banana bread and like beer without either being overwhelmed or seeming out of place.
I’ve picked this up a few times in make-your-own-sixpacks at my local Kroger. I’m always happy to see the yellow peel peeking out of the rows of bottles; it doesn’t find its way there often. It’s even more expensive on its own, almost as much as the Dragon’s Milk, and also sold in four-packs.
In Other News…
I will likely get kicked for dropping this tidbit in after my beer ramblings, but I do have some big personal news. I’m engaged. Yeah, I’ve only been in the market for about a year, but when you find the one, you find the one. And I sure have. I won’t bore you with details here — that’s what Facebook is for.
The other day I found a comment on my blog telling me I was nominated for a Liebster Award. Rotten speed reader that I am, I thought I’d won a free lobster dinner. But this is even better. It seems the Liebster Award is designed to promote the blogs of lesser-known writers. A big thanks to my friend thecoffeefox for thinking of me, and especially for the nice things she said about me and Baker’s Dozen on her blog.
I guess I should post the award now.
Oh, the rules! Here they are:
1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.
I hate talking about myself (lie), but if I must I must. Here goes.
1. Why do you write?
Because I’d rather not spontaneously combust. I just took about a year off of writing to deal with personal changes; it was definitely making me hot under the collar. I look forward to going home tonight and writing.
2. Who or what do you like to read?
I don’t read a fraction of what I want to. I like to read within the genres I write (sci-fi & fantasy), but my tastes tend to wander. I’m particularly partial to humor.
3. What gives you inspiration?
What doesn’t? Whenever I say something stupid and face the consequences of it, I try to remember what great story fodder it will make later. Or if I read a science article, it makes me want to write a science fiction story. Or if I study a mathematical concept, I want to incorporate it into a magic system. Every author hates the question, “where do you get your ideas?” Ideas and inspiration are everywhere. The question is: how do you turn it off?
4. What is one thing you would like someone who reads your blog to know about you?
I started writing with no formal training. I read how-to-write books and read good science fiction and fantasy and I wrote my butt off to get where I am. And where is that? It doesn’t feel like I’m anywhere when I look toward where I want to go, but looking back I can see how far I’ve climbed: 25 or so sales including Writers of the Future, being a panelist at cons, self-pubbing a book of my short stories (and actually selling some). It’s not an easy road, but I love to write so I do.
5. What is your favorite color? (Seriously.)
Purple. Not exactly my favorite, but it’s my daughter’s favorite so it’s the color I respond to best. Second is pink. I’m kind of partial to black, green, red…but that’s all secondary.
6. What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? (You can use your imagination, offer the standard quote, or just smile.)
I know I swallow without chewing if I get in a hurry, so pretty fast I’d say. (resisting…quoting…Python…)
7. Do you like your given name, and if not what would you change it to?
I like my name. I contemplated a pen name, or even a nom de plume, but I decided against it. I do wish more people remembered the W, though.
8. What is the dumbest or least favorite question someone has ever asked you? (You can’t say #6. Unless that’s true.)
I once had a student ask, “Are there really space whales?”
9. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Home. I am a bit of a homebody, but I’d love to go to Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and/or on a cruise to…anywhere really.
10. What is your favorite cartoon character?
Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Raised by ocelots, had to be a garden gnome…backstory gold!
So, there you have it. Looks like my next duty is to select ten more victims, er nominees. Let me wander through my blogroll here and see who’s deserving…
1) Annie Bellet – Annie has been an internet friend since early in my writing career. She’s a Clarion grad and has been seeing her share of success. (It’s been a while, but Hi izanobu.)
2) Alex Kane – Alex is another old internet friend and also a Clarion grad (of the West variety).
3) Andrew C Porter – Andrew is a SF in the same state as me (disarray?). He doesn’t update his blog often, but I enjoy seeing what updates he offers.
4) S.C. Wade – S.C. is a speculative writer and a devout Christian (which his Facebook posts regularly reaffirm). He’s very much a community-minded writer and likes to help out other writers. And a generally nice guy.
5) Diabolical Plots – This is one f my favorite blogs. David Steffen and Anthony Sullivan (and occasional guest bloggers) offer interviews and reviews and lots of other good stuff.
6) Brad R. Torgersen – I met Brad at the WotF workshop several years back. Since then, his career has exploded with award nominations and Analog publications out the wazoo. Oh, he also has a novel forthcoming from Baen.
7) Jason Fischer – Jason is another bloke I met at WotF. He has very quirky taste and an amazingly awful wit that always gets a laugh (horrible puns, anyone?).
8) Alex Black – Alex continues the WotF 26 trend. I enjoy his blog, which recently has me itching to start watching short films.)
9) Tom Crosshill – Another WotF 26er? Why not! Tom had a Nebula nominated story and a good nose for story. And I understand he’s an incredible ballroom dancer.
Last but not least…
10) Jordan Ellinger – I’ve known Jordan electronically for years and finally met him at the WotF 26 workshop (he was a winner for volume 25). He’s a writer, publisher, and all around busy guy (maybe that’s why his blog seems a little un-updated).
Wow, I did find 10 people. Now for their 10 questions:
1) What’s the hardest thing about writing?
2) What’s the best thing about writing? (It might even be the same thing as #1.)
3) What is your day job? (If it’s writing, tell us how that happened.)
4) Think back. What book/story/writer/event made you decide that you could write?
5) Name your favorite villain (one from books/stories, one from tv/movies).
6) What was your favorite subject in high school? (Lunch doesn’t count)
7) What’s the best movie you’ve ever seen that other people probably haven’t?
8) What was the last book you finished reading?
9) iPhone or Androd?
10) If you could travel back in time and interview one person, what would the two of you have for lunch? (Hey, I have to give lunch some love.)
Wow, that makes for the longest blog post I’ve had in quite a while. Thanks again, thecoffeefox, for involving me in this shameless promotion scheme. This was fun, and looking for 10 blogs was a trip down memory lane. I hope some of my nominees perpetuate the pyramid. Have fun with it. I know I did.
Okay, I hate lolcats to death, but “Am I a Writer Again Now?” seemed too dull, so there’s your horrid spelling meme. I apologize.
That out of the way, I think there’s a chance that I can legitimately call myself a writer again. I really haven’t been one over the past year. But the Codex Weekend Warrior flash fiction contest is in full swing and I’ve been participating.
Hmm…maybe I should back up.
Codex is an online writing group for speculative fiction writers who have at least one pro sale or have been to a major, merit-based writing workshop (Clarion, Viable Paradise, OSC’s Boot Camp, Odyssey, etc.) They have numerous contests each year, from flash to novels. The most popular seems to be Weekend Warrior, since it’s the only contest that necessitates two separate divisions. For five weeks, a set of prompts are posted on Friday and entrants write a 750-word or less story based on one (or more) of the prompts by the following Sunday. Then the entrants (and other Codex members) have the week to read and rate the stories before starting again on Friday.
Anyway, I’ve written a story for the past two weeks. I wrote, so that makes me a writer. Even better, both stories have been competitive. Not #1, but bouncing around in the top half. Codex isn’t full of slouches either, so I’m happy just to see that I still have the chops to hold my own despite a year of no significant writing output at all. What’s better than that? I actually subbed one of those stories today!
I’ve done the Codex WW contest for the past several years and sold a few of the creations to come out of it (“Not Rats”, “Ten Seconds”). My first year in the contest I finished in the top ten overall, with 3 weeks’ stories in their respective top 10. The next year I was midlist. Then last year’s showing was abysmal. I had been getting worse! So to be back in it this time around is a much-needed boost to my confidence.
So yes, I am a writer again (Iz a writer agin), and one that’s starting to find his groove again. Here’s hoping I can keep it up.
Happy New Year! I am still here, despite the rigor mortis that had apparently set in to this blog. 2013 was one hell of a wild ride for me. Thank God it’s over. As I enter 2014, I’m going to be a bit cliche with the whole resolution thing so I can get on the right track to make this a year to remember rather than a year to forget. Here I go.
1) Be a writer. In 2013, I was not much of a writer. I wrote nothing. Well, I finished nothing and my word count for the year was atrociously anemic. Heck, I wasn’t even posting here. Well that stops. I have a number of projects I need to finish up and a number I am itching to begin. They will happen. I intend to start with the Codex Weekend Warrior contest, which launches the weekend of the 10th. I’m hoping that will get my writer juices flowing enough to get back on the horse and write regularly again.
2) Lose weight. (I told you this was going to be cliche.) I’m a large-framed guy, but things have gotten out of hand and my health is starting to really suffer from it. So it’s time to make a change. A lot of changes. Be more active, eat less crap, get more sleep, drink more water. I did it 7 years ago; I can do it again.
3) Get organized. I am a tornado. My disorganization makes almost every aspect of my life more difficult. Life is difficult enough without that. I’m going to do my best to put the urgency of the moment aside so I can do things right. By that I mean, when there is a paper in my hand when I change tasks, put that paper in a file rather than dropping it on the desk and swelling up the next task, which will in turn be dumped on the desk in favor of the next task, and on and on. A few seconds attention to detail is usually all I need, but I’m bad at it. To me, this is the equivalent of resolving to be 3 inches taller — my nature may simply make it impossible. But I intend to try.
4) Read. I haven’t read much of anything this past year. I don’t like that.
For is good, especially when two of them are really lifestyle changes and the other two demand time restructuring. All this on top of my full time high school teaching job, my part time college teaching job, being a single dad, building on my relationship with my wonderful girlfriend, and the million other little things that constitute a life.
Wish me luck.