Category: Announcement

Introducing Princess Buttercup

Introducing Princess Buttercup

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Introducing, Princess Buttercup!

Almost accidentally, we brought home a ball python on Boxing Day.

I won’t go into the major details, but a young man going through some massive life changes at the moment has found himself in a position where he has to re-home many of the reptiles he’s been keeping the last few years. My son had been looking pretty hard at a pair of Green Ameiva in the same ad, and we had the trip planned.

On arriving, we saw that there were a number of other animals potentially available, and we wound up taking home two of the snakes, one, a young, and still quite small, corn snake of the Bubblegum Snow variety. This one was technically for my oldest daughter, who’s had a Sunglow (or possibly Sunkissed is the current common name) Corn Snake since she was nine years old and has several times expressed interest in getting a female to go with him to see if they might consider breeding so we can raise a clutch of eggs. This one happens to be a female, although she’s not nearly big enough to go in with Sonic yet, we don’t think, but we’ll see how soon we can bring her size up. She is quite cute, but has no name yet. More on her another time, once we’ve settled on a name.

For me, I’ve always enjoyed the look of ball pythons. The head shape is quintessentially snake, I think. And, in some ways, you can describe them as the perfect reptilian pet. They don’t eat that often, so you don’t scoop that often, it’s fairly easy to get their living conditions correct, they are not fantastically active, generally slow moving, and seem to love being handled, and they almost never show any real sign of aggression.

And in this case, I love the soft colors, which come out even more in real lighting. Here she is having her first bath at our house. There are still some bits of her last shed clinging and she’s too pretty to let that go.

By the time this posts, she’ll have had more than a full day to get comfortable in the 20 gallon long tank we had in the basement than she likely was in the 10 gallon she came in. I hope to upgrade to an even larger size in the near future, give her plenty of space to move around in if she wants to. She’s been in that small tank for a little while, and while that’s supposedly okay for snakes, general guidelines are a half square foot for every foot of snake to give them a little room. I feel like we the tank should be at least as long as the snake to give them space to stretch out completely, but I may be in the minority there based on what I’ve read so far. Either way, I’d like to get her into at least a 40 gallon tank in the near future, maybe even larger, with a bit of height to make her world more interesting.

I don’t know if all the extra space will make a difference to her, so long as we get all of the things she needs in the tank for her general psychological well being, but it will make a difference to me.

In the meantime, to borrow a line, she was once a commoner like yourselves, but perhaps you will not find her common now. I give you Princess Buttercup.

(Sadly, my wife does not agree that we at least need a Dread Pirate Roberts, if not Inigo, Fezzik, Vizzini… someday, perhaps. It’s worth noting that one of my daughters has suggested Pinky and the Brain for the two new additions, but that seems weird to me. They’d eat laboratory mice, so it seems a little creepy to me to name them after a food source.)

Be well, everyone.

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Exciting News, Everyone!

Exciting News, Everyone!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherNow that stuff is signed and sent back, I think I’m free to say that I’ve accepted a part-time gig as a Publishing Assistant for Bards and Sages Publishing. Bards and Sages is a small publishing house doing both fiction and RPG materials in digital and paper formats, as well as hosting the annual EFestival of Words. Duties to include slush reading, copy editing, and whatever else the publisher decides they need me to do.

Embarking on a new adventure is always fun, and I’m very much looking forward to this one. Now, it appears I already have assignments to read.

Be well, everyone.

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2016 Reading Goals – Do You Have Yours?

2016 Reading Goals – Do You Have Yours?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSimilar category breakdowns to last year, but stretching things a little bit. I spent a lot of reading time last year on the comic book side of things, getting four years closer to the present in my X-men quest than I’d originally planned. Maybe I can balance a little better in 2016.

This year’s categories:

  • Award Winners: starting on a quest to read all of the novel-length winners for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Aurora awards. Starting with the first Hugo and working my way forward. # Books: 25 this year.
  • Last Year’s English Language Awards: because I shouldn’t have to wait to catch up to the present, I’m planning the 2015 winners for the four awards I mentioned above plus, maybe, The British SF Award (UK), the Aurealis Awards (Australia), and the Sir Julius Vogel (New Zealand). # Books: 8.
  • Cultural Speculative Fiction: picking three non-English speaking countries this year, and maybe going forward, to read a novel and an anthology (in translation) from. # Books: 6.
  • Anthologies I’m In: self-explanatory. # Books: unknown at this time. Well, 0 at the moment, but I hope that number goes up.
  • Friend’s Books: also seems self-explanatory. # Books: 2.
  • Martial Arts: furthering the intellectual side of my martial arts studies, and pushing hard towards my hopeful Nidan grading, sometime in the next 12-18 months. # Books: 10.
  • Non-Fiction Breadth: pushing this category a bit this year with eight subject areas. # Books: 10.

If you’re counting, that says I’d like to read 61 books this year (and it could be 62 because one of the award winners from 2015 is a sequel, so I may need that first), plus any anthologies I place a story in. Might be pushing things a little, but I hit 56 on a goal of 40 last year, and I’ve come to the belief that if you’re reaching all your goals, you’re not making them big enough.

What are you reading?

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2016 Writing Goals

2016 Writing Goals

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherIn some respects, my writing took a huge nose dive this in 2015. While I completely destroyed my non-fiction writing goals, I didn’t do an awful lot of fiction at all.

But 2015 is over now, and 2016 is a new year. Well, every day can be the first one of a new year, but I spent the last few weeks of 2015 planning and plotting, and I’m hitting the ground running, or at least staggering forward.

There are daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, and annual goals for 2016 in the creative field, but I’m going to stick with the broad strokes for this post and, once again, try to get back to the monthly writing reports to keep myself honest and maybe motivated.

Project 1: The Undead

This is a big project that I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve done on it so far, there just hasn’t been much this year. I have 23 stories left to cover the creatures I want to cover at the level I want to cover, at least the basic idea for each of them, at a broad range of lengths from flash to novelette.

Project 2: Other Short Fiction

Whatever number it takes to get me to 50 pieces of short fiction drafted this year. Right now that stands at 27.

Project 3: First Draft Epic Fantasy Novel

I’ve gone back to something I’ve wanted to write for a couple of years as the story that’s speaking to me loudest right now, torn apart the original idea, and I’ve started rough-working and re-plotting.

Project 4: Universal Destiny

To be edited and polished to Beta Reader stage, then get some Beta Readers to have a look at it. I’ve started on a few revision notes already.

Project 5: Haiku

I used to love writing poetry, but in recent years I’ve treated it as something to do when I don’t feel like writing fiction. That changes in 2016. Actually, it already has. I’m trying to write poetry for poetry’s sake. The primary poetry goal (and I’ve got several) is to write 500 haiku this year. Sounds like a lot, but it’s only three every two days.

Project 6: Short Fiction Submissions

100 of them for the year. This is a target I’ve missed twice before, but it’s only 8.5 submissions per month, so what’s my problem here?

Project 7: Previously Completed Novels/Collections

Ancient Runes, Graceland, Heroes Inc, Skip to My Luu all to get final reads and tweaks this year, and then I need to figure out what to do with each of them.

Okay, that looks like a lot when it’s all written out, but remember it’s for an entire year. Of course, I have a couple of other creative goals for this year, too, but those will come about in their own time as other things allow, although I will schedule specific time for them.

But this is the year I remember I’m a writer.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

2016 Resolutions

2016 Resolutions

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherI’m keeping last year’s resolutions in force, without feeling the need for new ones. I like the old ones, they still apply, and it’s hard being human sometimes, so I’ll continue to make mistakes.

Resolution One: Get Better At The Husband And Father Thing

This seems to get harder as the kids get older, as all of our lives get busier. We’re moving into the years where they’re slowly getting ready to leave home and lead completely independent lives. I have one in his last year of high school, one in her first, and one who turns thirteen in a short time. They’ve all got different needs and different things going on and different personalities. I have to adapt to that on a regular basis, and my wife has to adapt to those same pressures.

Resolution Number Two: Be Kind.

Easy to let slide even a little when your stress level is high. Be kind to myself, be kind to others, be kind to the planet, and if I’m accidentally unkind to one of my fellow creatures, rule number 2 applies: When you screw up, admit it, fix it, learn from it, and move on.

Think bigger, think broader, and think kinder. Think about where the other being is coming from and what their situation might be and how they may see things. Disagreement is okay, being a jerk isn’t. Take on ideas, not people.

Resolution Three: Be Polite.

Politeness costs nothing, and it can gain you so much. Something else higher stress will allow you to forget sometimes, so I suppose the trick is to address the stress without forgetting the rest.

Resolution Four: Be More Well Read.

This isn’t quite the same thing as reading more, although to get to be more well read, you have to read more. Being more well read takes time, so while it may be an infinitely renewable new year’s resolution, it’s probably one I’ll never be satisfied with, and that’s okay. There’s another post coming in a few days regarding the reading goals I’ve set for myself this year, at least in broad strokes. Individual titles may be more fluid than the list I’ve set myself, but I’ve set a 2016 Reading List shelf on Good Reads if anyone is curious to what’s currently on it. The list starts the year with 62 titles, 20 of which are non-fiction. Although, at the moment, there are only 59 on the Good Reads list as three titles are for 2015 speculative fiction awards that haven’t been announced yet.

Resolution Five: Think More Intelligently

I almost just copied and pasted a big piece of last year’s note here. Because it’s still true: I’m prone to introspection, and to nostalgia, and to overthinking things. It’s going to be another long term goal to train myself to think more carefully and quicker. My first instinct isn’t always the best response, but recognizing when it isn’t takes practice, and getting to that best doesn’t have to take all day.

So there are my resolutions for 2016. Feel free to borrow what you like from this little bit of rambling or let me know if there’s something you like better.

Be well, everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Legends and Lore Release Party

Legends and Lore Release Party

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSo, Legends and Lore officially releases on Wednesday, although the e-version is already available on Amazon. I’m excited about this anthology in a way I’m not sure I have been before, and I think it’s mainly due to the Release Party on Facebook.

L&L-Cover

(Click the banner to go to the event page.)

This happens on Wednesday, and while full details are on the FB page (games, prizes, questions and answers), I’d like to point out that it runs from 7-1130 pm Eastern Time, with each half hour belonging to a different author in the anthology. I’ve drawn the second half hour, which means my time is 730-8 Eastern, and fairly early in the game, but I’m going to stay for as much of the party as I can. This is a book with nine great stories in it (if I’m allowed to include mine in the count), and the group of writers involved have worked very hard to bring some great fiction.

Drop by, hang out, ask something. Above all, have fun.

And I’ll add in that today’s stop on the official Blog Tour, on Inspired Writers, features a short interview with me, which is neat but still a little odd.

Be well, everyone.

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Legends and Lore

Legends and Lore

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We’ll call this announcement number two, but I think I’ve spoiled it long before now.

Legends and Lore is an anthology coming out from Xychler Publishing (or on Facebook) on October 22nd. If it isn’t obvious, I have a story in it. Here’s the particularly awesome cover:

Legends&Lore Cover

Legends and Lore releases on October 22nd just in time for all that Halloween gift giving you’ve got in mind. No, it isn’t a horror anthology. Very much fantasy, and very much worth the read if you’re a fan of the genre.

My story, “Natural Order”, could, I suppose, be classed as Urban, Modern, or Legendary Fantasy, or all three, if you like. It clocks in at 7,247 words and misses being the shortest story in the book by 15. Yes, this is fantasy you can sink your teeth into. Depth, drama, danger, devotion, and other exciting words that start with other letters of the alphabet.

Table of Contents:

“The Brother-Sister Fable” by Alyson Grauer

“Faelad” by Sarah Hunter Hyatt

“By Skyfall” by Emma Michaels

“Charon’s Obol” by R. M. Ridley

“Peradventure” by Sarah E. Seeley

“Natural Order” by Lance Schonberg

“Two Spoons” by Danielle E. Shipley

“Grail Days” by A. F. Stewart

“Downward Mobility” by M. K. Wiseman

I won’t spoil any of them, even mine, but you’ll probably get some tidbits of each if you come to the release party on Facebook on October 22nd. Yup, the same day the book actually releases. I’ll post details on that as they’re released.

Get excited.

And be well, everyone.

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2016: The Year of Star Trek

2016: The Year of Star Trek

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherWarning!

The 8th of September, 2016 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the first time Star Trek was broadcast on television.

This makes 2016 a special year. Fifty years of Star Trek.

Unfortunately, the only thing Paramount has announced so far is the third in the mediocre reboot movies. (Yes, mediocre. At best. Discussion for another day.) I hope for more, and I’m sure there will be a flurry of books, mostly with subjects we’ve seen before, but some new stuff mixed in. A little original fiction would be nice, too.

But I feel like it’s unlikely to be enough to pay tribute to the show that started a revolution in science fiction, that pushed boundaries, and that presented big ideas, and that has inspired several generations of scientists, engineers, and fans.

Fortunately, I’m willing to bet that the fan community will step up and provide more content in the Star Trek universe than ever before.

There is far more Star Trek fan fiction than any other kind, and a surprising amount of it is good. Video, audio, animation, graphic storytelling, it’s all out there. And I think there’s a lot more coming, and a lot of it to celebrate.

I’m intending to produce some myself. Actually, not intending. I’ve already started. Yes, 2016 is still a year and a half away, but I’ve got a lot on the go (most of us do) so I’m starting early. I’m not going to spoil anything at this point, but I’ve got a lot planned. If I can manage even half of it, I’ll be thrilled to add my own tiny bit to the universe.

The original series holds a special place in my geeky little heart, and since it’s really the fiftieth anniversary of that we’ll be celebrating, that’s the era I intend to work in exclusively. Yes, it’s been mined extensively, but there’s always room for another story and there are characters who haven’t had the attention they deserve. There will probably be a separate blog to avoid confusion on anyone’s part and to be clear that I’m not interested in making any money from whatever Trek endeavors I launch.

To be clear, it’s going to be fun. If you’re a Star Trek fan, I hope you tune in.

More as it becomes needed.

Be well, everyone.

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So What Does “Shifting Priorities” Mean for the Website?

So What Does “Shifting Priorities” Mean for the Website?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherSo what do I really mean when I say “shifting priorities” and “refocusing my efforts”?

Well, I don’t mean I’m giving up writing or creative pursuits, that’s for sure. Too many stories I want to tell. But I’m certainly changing how much I’m pursuing and how fast. The ‘Hitlist’ contains several sublists for project ordering. But, as I said, I’m making some philosophical changes, and those necessitate a little rearranging of my online world, too.

I’ve let the renaissanceninja.com domain go, having decided there isn’t any point in the extra complexity of maintaining two personal blogs, even though I’ve mostly been trying to keep this one as a writing blog. But I’m more than just a writer and the writers whose blogs I tend to read post about more than just writing. They’re people beyond their writing. It makes sense to me that I should be one of those.

Here at my primary website, the ‘2013 Goals’ tab has been replaced by a ‘Project List’. It doesn’t contain everything on the full list, but it does show the current project and the next handful planned to give folks an idea where I’m headed in the next little while. It also contains a similar sized list of the things I plan to indie publish. “Thorvald’s Wyrd” and “Turn the World Around” are still high priority, but not at the very top. Small Realities figures prominently and I’m keeping a couple of secrets for the moment.

In keeping with the ‘focus’ mantra, there is now only one WIP indicator at the top right of this page.

An end to the monthly writing reports. I’ll announce exciting things as and when they happen. Otherwise, no one but me really cares exactly how many words I wrote on any particular thing last month.

I’ve secured two domain names for other significant projects: cyborgbunnies.com for the podcast with my oldest daughter, and daysofgeek.com for another project I’m going to hold close to the vest for a week or two.

I’m returning to the idea of scheduled office hours, i.e. introducing a little bit of time management skill into my free time, something more than just a ‘to do’ list to keep me targeted towards the current set of goals.

Consolidation, simplification, focus.

Be well everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Priority Shifts

Priority Shifts

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusrssyoutubeby featherI’m given to bouts of introspection and analysis, examining some bit of my life or how I’m doing something. Usually these last a few hours, or maybe a day or two. Occasionally, they go longer.

The day or two I took off of writing to recharge my batteries turned into almost three weeks worth of electronic vacation while I considered nearly every aspect of my life. Hope no one’s missed me.

In that three weeks, I’ve spent a fair bit of time with my kids, switched back to day shift, been late once for work, gotten a lot of stuff done around the house, and spent a great deal of time thinking about all of the activities that make up my life and what place they should be occupying.

No, I’m not selling all of my worldly possessions and moving to a commune or a Buddhist monastery (although though I think both would be interesting experiences, if in different ways), or contemplating any major life changes at the moment. I don’t need a midlife crisis, really. But I’ve made some decisions about how I pursue certain goals, and how many of them I’m pursuing at any given time in favour of as much time with my kids as I can possibly get in whatever activities they’re willing to participate in.

I like to think I’m a fairly involved dad, but at the same time I feel like it’s never enough. How often do you stop and say, “Why am I doing this right now? What would be a better way to spend my time?” I’ve been doing that a lot lately, and I find that while I profess to be all about family, there are times when mine is around and I’m doing something by myself that doesn’t involve any of them.

This is not what I want.

So, more geocaching, more karate, more anime, more audio work and podcasting, more video games, more movie making, more football, more paintball, and more of whatever other things I can drag them away from the computer with (that includes my trying to become a pro gamer son). Okay, more shared housework and chores, too—stuff’s gotta get done, after all.

But also probably less writing and related activities. I’ve written before that suffering for your art is not a bad thing, but making other people suffer for your art just makes you a jerk (or perhaps some other word that rhymes with grass mole). Things that are solely for me can now only be done when they aren’t around or are sleeping (because it’s my night off and I’m on nights).

Not as bad as you might think, though. I have breaks at work, days off when they’re in school, commuting time (I can dictate), and a few other odd moments here and there. I’ll still get things done in a creative vein, but I’m not going to be firing on all cylinders on everything at once. Writing goals wiped clean on a word count basis. The goal is now to finish whatever project is on the top of the list.

There is now a top secret list of the order of priorities for my own creative work. Gone are the days of working on five or six things at once. I’m going to try one at a time for a while, which is going to be really tough for me, but will probably be good for me too. Blog posts go on a separate list. Yup, more of those than there have been in the last month or so.

My new word: focus.

Focus, grasshopper, you need focus.

Be well everyone.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather