WARNING: May contain naughty language.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Back on the Wagon

So the usual excuses apply.

  • I'm still perplexed and profoundly disappointed by the 2016 elections ("выборы")
  • The Day Job has exploded in urgency and scope
  • Too many changes at home to allow time to work on the blog
  • Twitter is more fun
But that's all BS. All true but still BS.

Fact is, given a choice between writing a short or working on a novel vs. updating a blog which is visited only on the most rare of occasions, I'll take the submittable work every time.

By way of catch up since my last post, February of 2017:

  • I've beta read at least a dozen manuscripts
  • Have submitted to at least four times as many publications
  • Have cheered (and turned a slight twinge of green) as several of my more focused friends reach book deals.
  • I've written around eight new pieces with varying degrees of success
  • Still working on the same novel (mostly)
  • Attended Paradise Lost (San Antonio, TX) and enjoyed it greatly
  • Made a completely new and impressive circle of writerly friends in Chicago
  • Acting as a juror for the 2018 Stoker Awards - though it feels more like slush-reading
  • Took on a couple of new Patreons - to fuel my DeMedici fantasies
When I've got an hour to spare in the future, maybe I'll crank out quick blogpost to keep the saw sharpened.

But maybe not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

A few months ago, my critique group and I decided to enter a contest for very short fiction, no more than 300 words, dealing with the topic of Valentine's Day. We all entered the contest. None of us won, but I had a lot of fun writing this little piece.

Remember. Know what you're eating before the third bite!


Flickering candlelight danced across polished silverware, placed upon immaculate linen with precision and hope. I lowered the cruet and carefully drizzled raspberry-vinaigrette atop fresh greens, julienned baby carrots and strands of parmesan.
            I exhaled with relief and checked the time. My body thrummed when I realized that in mere moments Amanda would be here. My honey-haired, emerald-eyed muse, Amanda. An idiot’s grin split my face and my cheeks felt flush.  I was grateful she’d accepted my invitation for dinner, a last ditch effort on my part to rekindle the passion we’d both shared once upon a time. Longing glances at the restaurant, working side by side on the line, “accidental” brushes of flesh upon flesh. A whirlwind of passionate lovemaking and bliss, followed by a cold distance, growing longer each day since.  I missed her, needed her. According to legend, just three bites of my painstakingly prepared putto con le ali would fan the embers of our love into an eternal inferno.
            A chime sounded from the kitchen, reminding me of the entrée. As I entered the kitchen, the aroma hit me first. A mouth-watering smell of gentle summer breezes, fresh-cut roses and a subtle undercurrent of sweet cinnamon. I slipped on a pair of mitts and removed the roast.
Tears sprang to my eyes.
            Golden-brown skin, moist and beckoning. Rounded curves and succulent, tender flesh, glistening with boysenberry-infused sherry au-jus and sprigs of rosemary for flavor.  One last step remained. The kitchen shears cut through tendons and ligaments. With no small effort, I yanked the singed snowy white wings from the cherub’s back and tossed the plumage into the trash bin.

            The doorbell rang.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Goals for 2017

In the past I've always created a bullet list of a dozen or more goals (aka resolutions) for the New Year.

And I've always conveniently forgotten about them until the following year.

I'm going for something a bit different in 2017 for "reasons".

Rather than discrete tasks, I'm going macro and will focus on a theme instead.

Best wishes to you and yours in 2017.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Decisions, Decisions

Every day in my "work life" I'm responsible for a dozen decisions. 

  • Where do we need to hire technical talent?
  • What kind of training does X need to become even better?
  • Is there true technical alignment in our latest engagement?
  • Where should I eat lunch?
Making such decisions has become far easier over time. As a fan of Gladwell's "Blink" I often go with my gut and am seldom disappointed. Usually works out fine. Or at the very worst I can go back and refine my decision after the fact.

Yet I have a terrible time making decisions about my writing and where to spend the scant time I have during the day.

  • Which "A" lister publication should I try to get a rejection email from next?
  • Should I work on my novel or take a break to write a short piece for an interesting anthology?
  • Oxford comma or not?
  • What workshops to attend this year?
  • Of the seven books on my bookshelf, which one is NEXT?
I twist and turn, weighing each decision almost to the point of analysis paralysis. I sweat, ring my hands and take long walks to get a better perspective. When I finally do decide, I'm immediately gripped by anxiety that I've made a terrible mistake.

Yet, to this point, I've been cool with each choice. So, maybe I should stop worrying and just write. Yeah! That sounds like a perfect idea...but what if I'm working on the wrong thing? 

Oh, well. 

Analyze --> Decide --> ACT --> Enjoy

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Paradise Lost...AND Found in San Antonio (April 27 - 30, 2017)

    For my writer friends. "Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I'll spend the first hour sharpening the saw." - Abe Lincloln
    Need an infusion of creative energy? Need to reconnect with the penmonkey tribe? Need some professional guidance on your writing? Can't afford to go to Helsinki for Worldcon? Check out Paradise Lost in San Antonio, Texas and SHARPEN YOUR SAW.

    I've attended this workshop for the past three years and have had an AMAZING experience each time. Professional writers (Melinda Snodgrass, Chuck Wendig, WJW and many others) plus industry insiders and editors - ALL of whom are glad to hang out, toss back libations, talk shop and play Cards Against Humanity.

   Reconnect with your tribe. Learn new tricks. Make new friends - write them into your books and KILL THEM ALL! 

   Applications are open, so why wait?

   Hosted by the indomitable Sean Patrick Kelly, this is the SINGLE writing event / workshop I plan around, year after year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Bourbon Trail

My father turned 80 years old back in June. Had a great big birthday bash with friends and family from all over the country. My brother, sister and I had the ultimate gift planned for him - an "all expense paid" (ie., we'd pick up the bill) trip to Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky to visit the finer distilleries in the state.

My Dad loves his bourbon - which likely explains my predilection for the stuff as well.

Coordinating schedules took a while, but we finally nailed the date, made reservations and made our collective ways to Bourbon Country.

Day One:
Keeneland Farms and Racetrack - Amazing early morning walk around the grounds. Beautiful rolling hills and thoroughbreds.

Woodford Reserve Distillery - Great facility and staff. FINE sampling to be had in the tasting. And most amazing of all, I've been drinking bourbon WRONG for all these years!

Four Roses Distillery - Least impressive facility. DON'T DRINK THE YELLOW LABEL. Ever.

Amazing dinner at The Merrick Inn. So tasty!

Day Two:
KAD (Kentucky Artisanal Distilleries) - Makers of top-shelf Jefferson Reserve and a few others. Had a fantastic tour of the facility. Great tour guide gave us the lowdown on all the "goings-on" on location. Was impressive. Had a nice tasting afterwards and walked out with a limited edition bottle of Jefferson Reserve aged in RUM barrels! Can't wait to sample that awesomeness.

Bardstown - Amazing little town which bills itself as the home of bourbon. Spent some time walking about, enjoying the small town charm and favorable weather. Enjoyed a great lunch at the very, very historic Talbott Tavern where Jesse James and his gang had a shootout in 1868. Oh, yeah. Its haunted, too.

Finished the day at Jim Beam, the very largest of all the distilleries visited. Much more commercialized than the others but still enjoyable.

Dinner at the Butchertown Grocery for some remarkable high-end cuisine to finish up the trip.

All in all, a great trip worth repeating.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Luke Cage and Some Random Beers I've Tried this Week

Like millions of other viewers, I binged on Luke Cage over the weekend. As a fan of Netflix's prior projects like "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones" I was looking forward to this series.

And it did not disappoint. 

Filled with action, tension and some amazing music I thought the series did a great job of depicting Power Man, Luke Cage.

Was it perfect? Nope. 

The plot was about as straight forward as one could envision. Very, very little in the way of genuine surprises or twists. Another aspect which kind of irked me was the lack of creativity during the fight scenes. Most of Cage's moves involved hurling bad guys about the room ala "The Incredible Hulk" TV show or even "The Six Million Dollar Man". Even the final showdown was little more than a super-powered slugfest. I was hoping to get a taste of the famous Daredevil "Hallway Fight Scene" which is up there with the very best combat choreography ever filmed.

Those minor flaws aside, it was a powerful and well-acted series. And the scenes of everyday life in Harlem were exceptional to view. 

I also drank some beer while watching it, which should come as no surprise to anybody who knows me.

Atwater Dirty Blonde: Watery, golden, fizzy with hint of citrus. Pretty weak. (2/5)

Diabolical IPA (North Peak Brewery): Pine and citrus, bitter aftertaste, bottle looks like a recycled Red Stripe. Average IPA (2.5/5)

Atwater Decadent Chocolate Ale:  What can I say? Dark Chocolate + ale. Nasty stuff which I'll never try again. Killed my sense of taste for the rest of the night. (0.5/5)