Winter Settles In

Oh, how long it has been since I posted a blog update. I’ve been pretty active over on my Facebook page, but my poor neglected blog…I can only blame it on the dark and cold winter that has roared in and settled on Minnesota.

Things have been going on. I ran the merchandise table for the latest Minnspec Showcase reading, spent a lovely weekend in Duluth with Beloved Spouse, and have unfortunately fallen ill, missing a full week at my day job.

The one positive to being stuck home is that I’ve managed to jumps start working on Ghosts of the Places You Live. Lots of writing managed this week and I’ve pretty much got the third and final section outlined, so hopefully even with heading back to work and heading into the winter holidays, I will be able to keep some momentum going. I would also like to take this moment to give a shout out the “You Know You’re From Oney When…” community on Facebook. I have gotten all kinds of valuable information from the kind folks there.

Tomorrow night, I will guest storyteller with the Rockstar Storytellers at the new Phoenix Theater. I am blaming to tell a story about one of the nameless Nazgul. I am pretty pleased with it and I might try to record and upload the story after the performance. I’ve been thinking that I need to get a good microphone and learn to use audio software so I can make recordings of readings and stories.

Word Meter Ahoy!
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2014 – 11:56 am | Comments (0)

Long Update Is Long

I haven’t blog in quite some time, it seems. I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with social media, and I seem to be in a hate phase right now. I should probably take one of those social media sabbaticals I sometimes go on. I think I need to get away from Facebook, G+, and Twitter. Not so much my blog and Live Journal (though Live Journal doesn’t seem very alive anymore). The problem is all my friends and family are on social media and it’s just easier to keep up with them that way. And now there is this Ello thing I should sign up for, never mind the fact that I’ve avoided Tumblr since it’s inception.

The novel is still moving along. I have the third section outlined, so all I need to do is carve out time to settle in and write the rest of the first draft. Once that’s done, I’ll need to connect the three sections together, which I suspect will take some serious time and work. I am also editing a third anthology for the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers, which should be out in early 2015, probably in time for Minicon’s 50th anniversary convention. I have all the stories picked out and am waiting for the last of the contracts to arrive before writing my editorial and front-of-book material and sending everything off to the copy editor.

For those of you playing the home game, Minnesota Fringe Festival was a success. I thought the show was well received and though we were better some nights than others, we never had a bad performance. I was reasonably pleased with my own performances over the festival. I also have one more storytelling gig lined up before the end of the year, with a second one possible but still in the planning stages. I will post more information once things are official. I am also working on the script I plan to submit on spec to a science fiction theatre festival in Los Angeles. We will see if anything comes of it.

I’ve been doing some thinking about where I am as an artist. I pulled out a story I’ve been working on off-and-on for the last 2 years, and I found I liked the style and voice I was exploring in that story more than the style I am using in my current novel. I’m not sure the style in the short story (very baroque and ornamental) would work for this novel, which seems to need plain, straightforward, almost invisible language, but I do miss playing with tone and style and voice in ways I normally do not.

I have also been thinking about how despite the fact that I strongly identify as a prose writer first, as a spoken-word performer second, and all other arts I pursue a veryvery distant third, I will make more money as a spoken-word performer again this year. It has me thinking about career path. My last two royalty statements from Harlequin haven’t included a check because my sales have slumped. I suspect those two books are quite reasonably played out after 3 and 4 years on the market and none of my newer stuff has moved well, though I can lay a lot of the blame for that at my own feet. I just haven’t had the energy lately to get out and market and pitch and shill and flog and hand sell like I have with other books.

I’ve been reading Jeff Vandemeer’s BookLife and it has me thinking serious thinky thoughts about my identity as an artist, and artist’s statements, and planning how to reach my goals. I don’t need to make a ton of money to be able to stop working part-time. I fully acknowledge that I have an advantage with drawing SSDI and being on Medicare, but it is an advantage I pay for by being blind, so I don’t feel all that bad about it. The thing is, I’ve hit a point a decade into my writing career (how the hell did a decade pass?) where I find myself hard up against the question of pursuing my passion versus personal financial goals.

If I want to keep doing this being a writer and performer thing, I need to change my approach.

That was gloomier than I meant for it to be. Here, have a word meter to show I’m still passionate about my current project.

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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2014 – 7:06 pm | Comments (0)

Shave of The Day

Edwin Jagger DE with Astra Platinum Blade
Escali Badger Hair Brush
Dapper Dragon Shaving Soap in Strawberry Lemonade
LadySea Creations Shaving Scuttle
Clubman Pinaud Aftershave

IMAG1298

As some of you know, I’ve stopped shaving with expensive multi-blade cartridges, going back to the way I was taught by my grandfather and the way I shaved until my early 20s, using a double-edged safety razor. I don’t often do these “Shave of the Day” things because once I find a razor, blades, shaving soap, and aftershave I like, I tend to stick with them, but I’ve been trying a lot of different products lately, so I thought I’d post a review of some of the new things I’m trying from time to time.

The Jagger DE is a loaner from a friend, but I’m thinking I want to buy this one. I liked the control of the shorter handle and heavier weight over my lighter long-handled workhorse Lord L6. The Astra is my usual blade, though I’m always willing to experiment.

What really made this shave was the Dapper Dragon Strawberry Lemonade, which is a seasonal, but I’m sure still available at their Etsy store. It whipped up super easy with great foam (I just traded up from a boar brush to a badger brush and the difference in how well and quickly soaps whip is significant). The shaving soap smelled delicious and left my skin feeling a nice tingle. The razor went over it smooth and easy and I only needed two passes to get a good close shave instead of the traditional three. I highly recommend this shaving soap.

On a personal note, I like using the scuttle instead of just a bowl because it keeps everything warm, which I find makes the shave more pleasant, and the LadySea Scuttle is just a lovely piece.

Finished off with the Clubman Pinaud because this is pretty much the aftershave my grandfather used and if it works for me, why switch?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2014 – 8:52 pm | Comments (1)

Review of “Haxan” by Kenneth Mark Hoover

“We go where we’re sent. We have names and we stand against that which must be faced.” So says the primary protagonist, United States Marshal John T. Marwood.

Marshal Marwood is sent, or called, to the New Mexico frontier town of Haxan, and he’s already faced with a murder to solve right from the start. This murder-mystery provides the over-arching plot, but while solving the murder, Marwood must also deal with a town that needs some cleaning up, a budding range war, a Navajo war party, and multiple other matters. Sometimes he uses applied violence, sometimes smarts and words. John Marwood is not a one-trick pony, but a well-conceived character, tough, honorable, flawed, willing to do things the hard way, aware of his own strengths and weaknesses, willing to die for the right things, this is Marwood.

Author Kenneth Mark Hoover has created a novel that is part murder-mystery noir, part unblinking, non-romanticized western novel, and a little bit dark fantasy. But don’t think Haxan is all darkness and grit: There are genuinely amusing (but not laugh out loud funny) bits of dialogue and scenes; there are moments of compassion, friendship, love, and honor. Yes, this a hard novel, but it was a hard time and Hoover’s prose and plotting pulls you along like an express train on a long flat straightaway.

I highly recommend this novel, especially if you are a fan of westerns, dark fantasy, and detective-noir.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2014 – 2:50 pm | Comments (0)

Ghosts of the Places We Live Update #18

I’m still working on my novel. MNFringe slowed me down. Also, I’ve been a little on the stuck side heading into the 1999 section. What I need is a day or two where I can focus on the novel to the exclusion of all else. Maybe I can work this out sometime in September.

I think maybe I’m too tired from Fringe to think clearly right now.
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12, 2014 – 3:51 pm | Comments Off

“Invisible People:” 5 Performances As Part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival and Speculations Reading at DreamHaven Books

This is everyone’s reminder that the Minnesota Fringe Festival production I am taking part in, “Invisible People,” opens this Thursday, July 31st with 5 performances at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage -711 West Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405. Tickets are $12 and you need a Fringe Festival button, available at the venue for $4

Showtimes are:
Thursday, 7/31 @ 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/2 @ 10:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/6 @ 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/9 @ 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, 8/10 @ 1:00 p.m.

Description:
Invisibility tops the superpower list . . . but what is lost when we’re not seen? From a writer fearing his own erasure to a young man attempting to hide his transgender self in a monastery, it’s two true stories by two Minnesota-based writers in one can’t-see show.

Their stories—which are quite different, on the surface—are intertwined in one unified performance.

Michael Merriam fears that his loss of sight will make him invisible to those around him. “It all started with the fliers,” he says, describing the people passing out fliers advertising shows, political candidates, or grass-roots causes that begin to scurry past him when they see his cane.

Christy Marie Kent tries to become invisible by entering a monastery, thinking that hiding from women will cure her from wanting to become a woman. When this fails, she gives in and transitions to womanhood. “My physical transformation begins with this, hormone pills created from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant mares. On the bright side, the sweet candy coating almost disguises the taste of horse pee.”

Explore with them the depths of the human spirit. Discover the ability to make the best possible lives for themselves—for ourselves.

Isn’t this what we all want?

http://www.fringefestival.org/2014/show/?id=2786

But wait, there’s more! I am also taking part in The Speculations Reading Series this Saturday, August 2nd at DramHaven Books, 2301 38th St E, Minneapolis. Each Speculations Reading runs from 6:30-7:45p.m., including a post-reading reception with free soda pop and cookies.

I will be reading from my newest novel Dark Waters, and probably something in support of my short store collection Whispers in Space. We will have books for sale, things to give away, and a drawing for a door prize!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2014 – 8:18 pm | Comments Off

“Invisible People”

This is everyone’s reminder that the Minnesota Fringe Festival production I am taking part in opens this Thursday, July 31st with 5 performances at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage -711 West Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405. Tickets are $12 and you need a Fringe Festival button, available at the venue for $4

Showtimes are:
Thursday, 7/31 @ 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/2 @ 10:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/6 @ 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/9 @ 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, 8/10 @ 1:00 p.m.

Invisibility tops the superpower list . . . but what is lost when we’re not seen? From a writer fearing his own erasure to a young man attempting to hide his transgender self in a monastery, it’s two true stories by two Minnesota-based writers in one can’t-see show.

Their stories—which are quite different, on the surface—are intertwined in one unified performance.

Michael Merriam fears that his loss of sight will make him invisible to those around him. “It all started with the fliers,” he says, describing the people passing out fliers advertising shows, political candidates, or grass-roots causes that begin to scurry past him when they see his cane.

Christy Marie Kent tries to become invisible by entering a monastery, thinking that hiding from women will cure her from wanting to become a woman. When this fails, she gives in and transitions to womanhood. “My physical transformation begins with this, hormone pills created from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant mares. On the bright side, the sweet candy coating almost disguises the taste of horse pee.”

Explore with them the depths of the human spirit. Discover the ability to make the best possible lives for themselves—for ourselves.

Isn’t this what we all want?

http://www.fringefestival.org/2014/show/?id=2786

Posted in Uncategorized on July 28, 2014 – 8:06 pm | Comments Off

Driving Blind: Car Stories

I’ve been putting together my part of the “Invisible People” fringe show and thinking about my blindness and how it impacts my life.

Sometimes people will ask me if miss driving. My knee-jerk response is “Yes,” but what I really miss is the independence, which is what they are really asking me about anyway. But the driving? Well…

It occurs to me that I could write a one-man storytelling show about Michael and his complicated and frankly unsafe relationship with cars as a younger man. Seriously.

Don’t believe me? I’ll post little quick snippets on Facebook and Twitter, just teasers, with the hashtag #carstories over the next couple of days.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2014 – 7:05 pm | Comments Off

Post 4th Street Fantasy Convention Report

So 4th Street Fantasy Con. That’s a thing that happened this past weekend.

I had a really good convention, in general. I didn’t make it to all the panels (panel fatigue hit late on Saturday), but the ones I attended were special. I am sad that I missed the “Advice From New Writers” panel on Sunday morning. I had been on that same panel some years ago and was keen to hear what today’s new writers had to say, but we were out late Saturday, and sleep was thing that we needed, desperately needed. I think my two favorite panels where “The Influence of Anxiety” and “The Revision Process” (which was our “But That’s A Different Panel” winner).

As a panelist, I wasn’t at my best this year. I was too slow witted and had trouble sometimes following the various lines of high-level, rapid fire conversation. I attribute part of this to being low level sick all weekend (allergies and migraines) and my meds slowing me down, but I admit that sometimes 4th Street Panels and audience members leave me in the dust with their academic gymnastics and brilliant, deep questions and thoughts. I felt like I handled myself better during the after-panel and dinner discussions, where I had more time to marshal my thoughts and give them coherent form.

I was talking about this with a couple of other writers on Saturday night and we came to the conclusion that there needs to be a panel that is something like “Imposter Syndrome: 4th Street Edition” next year. 4th Street always makes me feel like I’m playing way out of my league and weight-class, but at the same time I always feel like I leave the convention with my game and abilities lifted and improved just a little.

That aside, it was a wonderful convention and gave me a change to reconnect with folks I only see at this convention. One of my favorite things about 4th Street is the ongoing conversation and the chance to have that conversation with friends old and new very June. I look forward to being part of the 4th Street Fantasy Conversation for many years to come.

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2014 – 4:31 pm | Comments Off

DreamHaven Reading

I will be reading at DreamHaven Books and Comics -2301 E 38th St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406 – on August 2nd from 6:30 to 7:45.

I will be at DreamHaven Books and Comics to read from my new novel, “Dark Waters” and from my short story collection “Whispers in Space.” I will most likely bring a tray of brownies and cookies to share around.

Posted in Uncategorized on June 16, 2014 – 8:12 pm | Comments Off