My ego is messing with me.

Twice a year, my ego screws with me. This comes in any manner of way, but lately, as I see other writers kicking ass, getting contracts, and generally doing better than I am, my ego is questioning what the hell is going on.

I know it’s my ego, that little bastard doesn’t shut up long enough to let me take a breath, much less acknowledge why and where I’m failing in my writing.

The thing is, I’ve been working. I’ve been writing and I know that I’m not sending things out all of the time, but I can’t. I have a life outside of writing. I have my wife and kids, and a bartending gig I do.

The bartending gig is something that pays the bills, but I’d rather be doing anything that bartending. That’s probably to do with how people are treating those of us in the food service industry. People became horrible in the last year and maybe they were always that, but something else has triggered them into believing it’s okay to act this way, but that’s another blog post.

I’d like to push things out of the way and get to writing, but I worry about neglecting my wife and kids. That’s something I did when I lived in Las Vegas and can’t to that route. I also worry about asking for things from people because, well, I’m not certain my writing is very good.

Ego is kicking me in the ass, envy is kicking me in the balls, and I’m sore as hell about it all.

I wonder if I’m doing something wrong. I’d like to take a break from bartending to focus on writing, but it’s the busy season for catering and it’s impossible to do that.

If I could find a crossroads that would work, I’d use that.

I’m so bent right now that I’m unsure of everything.

Am I writing well? Am I doing what I need to get noticed? Is there something I’m not doing?

All of this comes down to pushing things away and dealing with my mental issues.

I have to knock those back sometimes in order to gain some semblance of who I am.

The ego kicks my ass, but my mental issues do more damage.

Depression sucks, and I’ve tried to use it as a motivator, but I’m at place where my ego and the envy I have for others knocks me on my ass.

I guess I’ll keep going with this writing, but I wish I didn’t have to do these events sometimes.

The mental focus it takes to do these events and not scream at the top of my lungs as some half-wit berates me or my staff about how rich they are or that it’s their house and they can do what they want in their house makes me want to scream.

Some people are just assholes.

My ego is screwing with me and I’m working on getting it under control.

I’m planning on getting to this blog more often. I get stuck on things and then I try to get away and it just gets worse.

Anyway, have a good weekend.

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The terror sets in…

It happens when I least expect it…what if.

I’m writing whatever is the project and those words pop in. What if this project does well? What will I do if that happens?

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot after Stokercon. Watching all the other writers. Writers I’ve read, writers I’ve listened to during other events or classes. What if I get to that point? What will I do?

I know it’s a trivial thing. Most of us never make it to the mountain top. Some of us are left at the base camp, cleaning our boots, and sharpening our ice axe for the next ascent.

The events like Stokercon remind me that others are working day jobs, just like me. They’re out there teaching classes, bartending, or working in retail.

I like to write. I enjoy the craft more than anything I’ve done in my life, I mean anything. I’d rather be at my desk working on a project than at any sporting event, concert, or anything similar. There is nothing like that feeling of creating a story.

I bartend because it helps pay the bills. I used to like it. At one point in time I enjoyed making drinks. That time left years ago. Now it’s not very fun. During Covid, it’s been horrific.

I’m good at bartending though and that’s where the problem is. I know my cocktails, know the history of some types of alcohol, where they’re made, why they’re made in that place, and I can tell the difference between various types of whiskeys. But it’s not what I enjoy. It’s not what makes me want to get up in the morning.

I wake with a determined heart every morning, focused on whatever story I need to finish, or add to.

It’s these little moments of terror that remind me I have a ways to go yet and a lot more work to do.

I know at some point all of this will pay off.

I feel that there are points, forks in roads, and I’ve crossed a few off recently.

But I know it’s the start of a long weekend for most, so I won’t keep you.

Enjoy your holiday and I’ll see you Tuesday.

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Stuck in traps

This morning I felt as if I were in one of Jigsaw’s traps.

My intentions were to write a post to go up at 8:00 this morning, but I watched a movie for story research instead.

The movie, “Exorcist 3”, is one I hadn’t watched before and found a lot better than I expected.

I have a possession story idea that I’m working on to submit next week and I needed to watch something to get me in the mood.

The story is a bit different from my usual writing and I had to bury myself in the subject matter.

This led me to watching the movie past when I’d intended and left no time to write the post for today.

I’ve watched a few found footage movies to prepare for a submission in August and while most of them were good, those that I didn’t care for left me wanting to know why others enjoyed them. Mainly “Lake Mungo”.

I found it boring and continue to wonder why others enjoyed the movie. My wife, who is not a horror freak like me, watched Lake Mungo last night.

She feel the same as I do about the movie. There were a lot of things going on in it, but nothing that scared me, at least not until the end of the movie. The whole thing with the neighbor felt like it came out of nowhere. It felt, to me at least, like they threw all the tropes in to see what stuck. The neighbor part felt like the writers thought, “let’s see how screwed up we can make this woman’s life?” So that’s what they did.

But back to what I intended to write.

I’ve taken a break from social media for the next little while to work on writing stories. As I said on Monday, I have two novellas I’m working on, a few shorts stories as well as a novel in the political thriller genre. Each of these are holding my time and social media is a drag on that time.

This break will be for a few weeks or as long as a month, whichever is needed to finish these projects.

But as I finish these projects, others will rise. It is the nature of the work that others replace that which I’ve finished.

I hope you have good rest of your week and I’ll see you on Friday morning, unless another horror movie pops into the frame.

I have a bartending event tonight as well as Friday and I’ll be doing those, masked and ready to go. I have my vaccine shots, but the vax rate in Utah is only 30% and after the last year, I have trust issues with not wearing a mask at events, or anywhere else.

See you Friday.

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Writing Horror and Future Things

Good morning or whatever it where you’re reading this.

I hope you’re in good spirits and are enjoying your day so far.

I spent the last four days watching panels, readings, and taking two classes during Stokercon.

I learned quite a few things but what I’m taking away is the fire of other authors.

In all the panels, readings, and classes, I noticed one thing: there is a fire to produce in these authors.

I write a lot, and quickly, but I saw something in their eyes. It’s the ability to push away and grind. To put in extra hours at the desk of editing and/or drafting.

Horror is my safe place. I’ve always watched horror and it’s only been the last twenty years that I’ve truly read it.

I’ve talked about how I didn’t read certain things as a kid because of restrictions places upon my by my biological father, and I feel that set me back. I’m trying to catch up.

The first horror book I remember reading was Stephen King’s Four Past Midnight. My sister had it at her house and enjoyed the stories in that collection. Having a thing for vampires since I was little kid, I moved on to Anne Rice and her beloved Lestat. I fell in love with him in a way I’ve never been with another character.

I read all of the books up to Blood Canticle and while I know there are other books, Prince Lestat being among those, I didn’t care for those books. They didn’t feel the same. My love of Lestat was something I’ve wished to replicate in my own work.

He helped me get through a lot of bad things in my life and I wish for my own work to do that same.

I have two novellas I’ll be working on and sending off for consideration as well as sending out short stories for every call that comes in.

I also am considering what to do with a Political Thriller sitting on my hard drive. That one may get published under a pseudonym. I’ve considered this course since I wrote it.

I will be working harder this year than any year as I feel a fire has been lit and I’ll continue to fan those flames.

Please follow along, buy the collection on Amazon. It’s currently at $0.99 on Kindle and I have to plans to raise that price. If you wish to purchase the paperback, that would make this writer incredibly happy, either way, enjoy the stories.

As I close this post, click the link to follow along and I hope you enjoy the stories.

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Writing your truth…

There are many moments when I wonder what the hell my brain is doing. It’s all over the place.

It wants to do one thing, then another, all the while throwing things in that I can’t control no matter what the circumstances.

That’s why I write.

This gives me focus when I can’t find it. It’s a depository for my thoughts, though there are time when it feels more like a suppository.

When I write there’s clarity, focus, decision, and faith. Faith is a word that didn’t mean something to me, but writing gives me faith in myself. If I can create worlds, I can do anything else during my day.

The faith to create worlds, to drive story, and to maintain my mind are what get me up and keep me going on a daily basis.

The truth is this shit is hard some days. Lately it feels real hard.

I’m sure it’s the pandemic, but lately I feel detached, unavailable, and like there’s another something I’m missing that isn’t in front of me.

I don’t know where this is going some days, but with writing I get clarity in everything else.

I put a story away out of fear last year. That fear has driven me to work on it after the current project is done.

I hope you’re all well, I’ll be here contemplating the evolution of writing and where my head is.

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Changing reading habits and me

I’ve mentioned numerous times on here about the books I felt forced to read growing up. It was the 80’s and the techno-thriller was king, at least that’s how it felt in my little corner of the world.

I enjoyed those books, but as I grew older I found myself gravitating towards darker stories.

I recently purchased Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, the book not the game. The last couple of weeks have found me reading through it and I found so much of it boring. As a writer myself I found places the could have been removed through editing.

Was Clancy brilliant in his world building, absolutely. Were his technical discussions within the books not needed in most places? After reading the three hundred pages I’ve consumed of Rainbow Six, I’d have to say yes. It feels like there are so many parts that could be removed.

This is not a review of the book. But I don’t enjoy all of that stuff anymore. It was cool reading those things in Elementary and Junior High, but as and adult, I found them boring and unnecessary within the constructs of the book.

I have read a few books that are more concise and less grandiose in their wording and content, but I feel I’ve outgrown the monotony of how this book works. I haven’t read any of the new books in the Jack Ryan series written by other authors, but I’m hoping they’re most concise and less about adding words and more about the story…at least that’s my hope.

On the other side though, the horror books I’ve read in the last year have blown me away.

I think small doses of Clancy and war books are a better idea. It’s not the length of the book that felt daunting, it’s the unnecessary aspects of scenes. Some of the scenes in that book could be done away with as I don’t feel they move the story forward and are more of stopping point.

I think my days of reading Clancy books, at least those written by the author prior to his passing, are over. I want to read the books in that universe written by the other authors but haven’t had time to do so.

I’ll go back to reading other things for the time being. I have a subscription to Nightworms and I get a few horror books from them a month. They are wonderfully curated and come with all kinds of goodies.

For now, I’ll stick to the smaller war and techno-thriller books.

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Getting the work part done.

With any project it comes to a point where the work part happens.

After the first draft, there’s the part you let it sit, or at least I do. It’s usually a few months, but can be longer.

The reason for letting it sit is so when you don’t constantly revise, restructure or rewrite all of the time. Doing that, at least in my opinion, causes more problems than it solves.

The first draft is where you find out your story, or if you’re an outliner, you put what you’ve outlined into the story.

Being as I’m a mostly pantser, which means I will have a beat sheet and know where those beats will be places, but as far as the story itself, I don’t really know where it will go.

This may cause some people reading this to freak out, those are the outliners.

For the pantsers, here’s some truth: I have no idea what will happen at the end of the book, or if I do, it’s usually discovered as I’m writing. This works for me as I write in various genres.

Thriller as it pertains to all of its classifications: Political, Military, Spy…and yes sometimes horror is thrown into this category for the sake of selling books. Take a look at Silence of the Lambs, at it’s core, that’s a horror story.

I enjoy things that frighten me. I grew up in the 80’s with the threat of nuclear annihilation from the Soviets. It’s something that has stuck with me growing up. Knowing that fear and chasing it has lead me to write thrillers in the respective classifications I mentioned above.

I grew up next to an air base. The sound of planes taking off and landing is a fond memory of my childhood. There were also the times the base opened to the public, showing off the latest aircraft.

The first time I saw an F-117 Nighthawk was at one of these events. The sleekness of that aircraft combined with it’s dark color and insectlike bumps and ridges, still gets me excited.

Aircraft is a thing that I’ve always been enthralled with and watching them take off from the base as well as building models at home are great childhood memories.

But I’ve gotten off track.

The work part is what comes after the first draft. It’s the editing, rewriting, revising. They used to be things I hated, but the process feels different than it has in a while. I’m actually enjoying this 100k rewrite I’m working on.

But I am getting the work part done and that’s important. Without the work, the project wont be able to stand up, and at the end, when it’s done, it needs to be.

Have a pleasant rest of your week. Stay safe and I’ll see you Friday, where I’ll talk about my love of aircraft a little more.

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Embracing what you fear

As I’ve said numerous times on here, I avoided writing certain books because of things that happened as a kid.

I worried about what it said about myself, what it said about my writing, and whether my mind wanted to go in too many places at once. This fear has permeated me since I put pen to paper in high school.

The past week was one where I had to have talk with myself about this. I can’t move forward in my writing without either adjusting to writing military/spy/political thrillers, as well as horror, or I can stop writing one or the other. I chose to adjust.

Growing up in the 80’s Tom Clancy was the king of the techno-thriller. I looked up to him as a storyteller. Writing in that playground always scared the hell out of me. Mostly because I am not nor have I ever been in the military, CIA, FBI, or any other acronym.

But writing happens and last April I wrote a book in that genre and it scared the hell out of me for a couple of reasons.

One: I felt it was good.

Two: The fear of judgement from others about writing in genre, and that I’ve said numerous times how disrupted my childhood was because I felt forced to read those books.

But maybe it’s not so much that I felt forced, but that there’s the longstanding obstacle of my relationship with my father. He chose those books and I read them, even though there were other books I wanted to read, I read those.

I attribute my knowledge of history and politics to my father, something that maybe I should deal with personally.

That I’ve now chosen to write in whatever genre rears its head, is possibly a breakthrough for me.

I avoided writing these books because of childhood trauma. As I consider it now, those books did more to help me navigate my teenage years and early twenties, than perhaps anything except Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.

The Chronicles helped me deal with other things.

Now that I’ve gone and changed my author’s bio, and all of my bios on social media, I’m ready to deal with the fact that I love spy books for the simple fact that I enjoy them. I enjoy the hell out of writing them and if not for my father pushing them on me I wouldn’t be writing them today.

Here’s a writing fact for you. I read Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising in sixth grade. That book stayed with me as have most of Clancy’s books.

Have a pleasant week. I’ll be here this week.

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Finding my genre identity

When I started writing regularly this past year(and by regularly I mean unless I was sick or working, I wrote), I decided that I had to put the effort in if I was going to see any results.

This meant that I had to decide what I was going to write. This meant if I finished a story the day before, I’d start something new.

This schedule has helped my writing improve and has shown me where my weaknesses lie.

The one thing that I fought with over this period was my identity as a writer. Yes I have a collection of short stories that are in the horror genre on Amazon, but I’m also aware that I enjoy writing in various genres.

This became more clear to me yesterday when I started rewrites on the novel I wrote during lock down in April 2020. I wrote around 3200 words a day during that month and during the first few days of May, I completed the 100k first draft.

Fast forward to last month. I gave my wife the draft. She read everything that followed that draft and I came to me with worry on her face.

“I think this needs to be rewritten.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Everything you’ve written since has been better and I think you need to rewrite it. You’re a better writer now.”

I hadn’t thought I’d improved that much since I finished that novel. But according to my wife, I had.

It took me until yesterday to get started on those rewrites for a few reasons. Fear that I’d screw it up and a greater fear of my identity as a writer. I’ve clung onto the belief that I was a horror writer, because I like horror a lot more than most other things. It doesn’t matter the form, I love it.

But I thought about my struggles with long form fiction. One that has persisted through the past year.

I have written over a dozen short stories since the novel I speak of. But as for novels, nothing.

I think the point is to write. It doesn’t matter the genre and it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about your writing as long as you enjoy it.

So, with that viewpoint, I started the rewrite process, with an eye towards improving and/or removing sections in the novel which didn’t work.

It’s a process that I threw away for writing an outline. I write better when I’m partially winging it. It’s the rewrites that get me down.

On that note, I will leave you to your own writing, whatever you may be reading and the reminder that your identity as a writer is not beholden to one genre. Write in all of them.

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Moving forward

Growing up in the 80’s I read a lot of Tom Clancy books. I read Red Storm Rising in 6th grade and that was my first of his books. It wasn’t my choice to read these. I had to read the genre my father read. I was never given a reason for this but I read other books on my own.

When I started writing in my late twenties I avoided writing stories similar to the Jack Ryan books. I did this because of childhood trauma and bad memories.

That ended during lockdown when I wrote a 100k novel in 32 days.

I’ve avoided doing rewrites on this book because although I loved writing it, I’ve always felt like horror was more me and spy/thriller was more him.

My father and I are not close. I’ve seen him twice in the last 10 years

Now I feel that writing this book is a way to exorcise some childhood demons and maybe find my way a bit better.

I read a tweet the other day that said write what ever you want and while I love writing horror, I think the 13 year old me would like this one.

So I’m off to rewrite this 100k novel. I have short stories going out in the next 3 months for submissions and they’re all horror but this book is for me. I’m not sure where it will go, but it’s the 11th book I’ve written.

While I’ve only published a collection of short stories this one needs me to write it more than the others.

Have a good Tuesday.

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End of the year thing

I won’t tell you this year sucked, we know it did.

I did a few things this year that I never expected to do.

I submitted a lot more, published a short story collection, and pushed myself to write things that make me uncomfortable. I also read a whole lot.

But I didn’t quit.

I know there have been a lot of writers who just could not get words on the page this year. I understand that. The year had the opposite effect on me. I wrote more stories than I’ve written in any prior year.

In the next year I plan on writing and submitting more than I have this year, which will be a hell of an accomplishment.

I wasn’t able to work a lot of events as a bartender this year. It put a strain on our finances but good planning by me in the early months of the year sustained us through the year.

I look forward to doing events next year, but I’m so tired of people not being cautious or saying things like, “If it were up to us, you wouldn’t be wearing a mask” or “We’re all friends here, you don’t need to wear that mask.” As if being friends makes the virus go, “oh wait they’re friends, I won’t infect them.” The virus doesn’t care about your family or friendships.

This year I also started to use my whiteboard more. I list when a story is due, how many words it needs to be and who the publisher is.

This has helped me write a lot more and keep my focus on publishing. I haven’t had a story picked up yet, but I’ve come close.

I’ve made a list of submissions until May for short stories as well as for novels I want to publish or submit to agents. I have four novels or novellas I’ll be submitting, self-publishing, or writing in the next 12 months. There will be others that come along, but I know what I need to have done by certain dates and that keeps my head in writing.

I know I have a bit of privilege as my wife works from home and pays our bills with her salary, which allows me to write as much as I do, but if I’m not writing I feel like I’m letting her down.

I will continue to grind, to push myself in directions of horror and other genres that I’m uncomfortable with. I have to push myself because it’s the only way to improve.

Hope you all have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve and I’ll see you tomorrow.

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The argument of what genre one should write.

For the last year I’ve had this argument with myself.

It goes something like this:

“You need to only write _____ genre. You can’t define yourself or finding a following if you write in every genre.”

This damn argument has been driving me crazy.

I write stories in a various genres and yes, they all have some element, though small to the reader, of horror.

I see my favorite horror writers who’ve written in comics, but I wonder if they write stories in other genres and file them only for themselves? Which is something I’ve considered doing.

But I like the stories I’ve written in genres outside of horror. They interest me and if they do that for me I’m sure they would for readers.

Do publish them under a pseudonym? That’s been something my wife and I have discussed. It’s where I’ve been leaning for books outside of horror.

I’ve written fantasy stories that I’ve enjoyed, yes they’re more of the Grimdark variety, but I enjoyed them. I have one due the end of January for an anthology.

I guess writing horror is where I gravitated to because it’s where I’ve always found the most enjoyment. I have an enjoyment of darker things, it’s just who I am.

The argument is getting to a point where I’m putting it in its place.

I write all types of things because I like to read horror, political thrillers, and spy novels.

Those are what I write. The book I wrote from April to May, political/military thriller. The stories I’ve been writing over the last couple of months, horror of various degrees.

I have spy novel I started in September but put it away because of this argument. I hate this argument. It always distracts me from the fact that I’m writing. It doesn’t matter the genre, I’m still writing.

My goal for 2021 is to put this argument to bed and just write. If it ends up as horror great, military/political/spy thriller, fantastic.

But trying to fit myself into one box or another is a worthless effort.

Writing is writing regardless of the genre.

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What the hell is this?

I get a bit weird when I’m starting a new project, my wife attributes this to imposter syndrome.

It’s also that when I’m starting a new project, I feel that I’m abandoning genres that I feel more comfortable writing.

The fact is that I’ve been writing horror for the last year. Following a set of rules when I write and I’ve tossed them and trying something new. Maybe that scares the hell out of me, but I want to write what I enjoy.

The new story has horror elements but is definitely Grimdark fantasy.

I happened upon this story when I wrote a short one that I’m submitting next month. I mentioned that on Monday’s post.

This whole thing started because of that story. But I have no path for it. I have no idea where it’s going and after writing with a beat sheet or outline for the last year, it scares the hell out of me to write another way.

The longer form stories I’ve written this year have been good, better than I’ve written in a while and maybe that’s why doing this scares me.

Let’s get to the meat of this issue.

The stories I’ve written this year have had a formula.

Take a story archetype(clowns, aliens, ghosts), add an element(serving a higher power, seeking truth, helping another), then throw in a thing(graveyard, hospital, guitar) and use those to create a story.

I have done none of those with this project.

I’m sure that’s the problem and I need to think about it more, or I need to pull something from my bags. I have bags where these archetypes, elements, and things are kept. It’s a thing I learned from Writing in the Dark by Tim Waggoner.

I abandoned it for this project and I’m sure that’s why I’m struggling.

I guess I answered my own question.

Sometimes working through by writing it down helps.

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Wrapping your head around the new thing.

I’ve started a new project in a genre I haven’t written in for a while. It’s taking some getting used to. The scope of the story is bigger than anything I’ve written in a few years.

It’s taking some time for my head to get into that brain space. I know what needs to be written, at least I have a good idea of it. There are many things in this story and I’m truly working to get those things written well.

This came about after I wrote a story for an anthology that is due the end of February.

I enjoyed the hell out of writing that submission. I thought I should go deeper into a new world along the lines of that submission.

I’ve submitted more stories this year than any prior year as well as publishing the collection in October. I will get my first payment for that collection this week, which though small, makes me feel as if what I’m doing makes a difference in our house.

I will keep writing, regardless of the money. I want to get paid, as we all do, but I enjoy the hell out of the work.

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Ignoring that voice…

I submitted a story two weeks ago which had a quick turnaround and I haven’t heard a response on it

My brain immediately goes, “it’s cause you’re shit.”

This little bastard of a voice comes and goes, but this week it has been at the forefront of my thoughts and screwing with me daily.

I find it’s hard to get past it and it almost sent me into a spiral of doubt, depression, and anxiety when I can’t afford to deal with any of those things.

There was a bright light in this tale though. Yesterday I finished a story for a submission due in February. It was in a genre I hadn’t worked in a for a while and I found myself enjoying the hell out of it and wondering what would happen with the characters after I’d finished the story.

This bright spot got me through the day and I finished with my head above board.

My mind hadn’t screwed with me this much in quite a while. I started to fall into the old feelings about writing. I had a nightmare because of the stress I was putting myself under.

That I didn’t hear a word made me go back, make sure I’d sent it to the correct email(I had), and wonder why.

I had to push these thoughts away; my mind will kill me if I let it.

Pushing off from these emotions, I felt refreshed. The new story pushed the reasons why I hadn’t heard back away. Isn’t that what new stories are supposed to do?

There are so many emotions in writing and I let self-doubt creep in when that bastard isn’t allowed.

I have stories to tell and I will wait for them for them to be read. I will continue writing because I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

I love the work and I am intrigued by the characters that fall out of my head, but days where my head screws with me are not fun.

I’m glad I was able to dig my way out, much how I did yesterday with our recent snowfall.

Anyway, have a good weekend.

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Tired, worn, but still writing.

I’ve been editing and writing my ass off the last couple of weeks.

This morning I got 1500 words on a novel and immediately afterward edited a short story for an anthology due on the 31st.

I have a short story out for a submission which I hope will get a yes.

This weekend I’ll be working my first event since October 24th.

I’m glad to be able work and that have to of doing it during Covid scares me but while my wife’s salary pays the bills, bartending keeps me sane. And my sanity has been frayed as of late.

Writing a novel, submitting short stories for anthologies and helping me wife have been my mainstays since my last event. While I’m looking forward to do an event I’ll be masked and gloves for it.

This year has been unlike any other but I’ve been very productive. I’ve written and submitted more than I planned on and while my short story collection is at the bottom of Amazon’s rankings, I did publish as I promised myself I would.

You have to keep yourself accountable and I’ve done a lot of that this year.

Keep writing my friends.

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Getting to it…and other ruminations.

I got 30k on the draft of a novel today, finished a short story due for an anthology I’m hoping for, trashed, then rewrote a story for one due at the end of the month.

All I have is time.

I’m supposed to have an event this weekend, but with our numbers in Utah going up, that might not happen.

So I’m doing the only thing I can control. I’m writing…a lot.

I’ve written 6 short stories in the last 2 weeks with an average word count of 3k.

There is nothing else for me to do but write, read, fix dinner, and help my wife and kids.

This may lead to being exhausted, but as the month moves along I feel good about writing as much as I have. It’s productive and it keeps me from thinking about what’s going on politically as well as with the virus.

I’ll keep writing and submitting forever.

I have nothing but time.

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Skipping some levels…

There’s a point when you write horror that you’ll skip some norms. You’ll do some things in your stories that will turn stomachs, make readers(and family)question your morals, sanity, and whether the world is safe with you outside a padded room.

I never thought about going really dark or extreme with my horror until recently. This happened because or a novel I read. It was Brian Keene’s Urban Gothic, which if you’ve read it, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

That book took what I thought was okay to put in a horror story and tossed it straight out the window. I never would have thought to go so graphic, much less so hardcore before.

I read Keene’s The Complex afterwards and will be reading Ghoul after my current read, which is another author who I’m really enjoying.

Having never read extreme or hardcore horror, it took me a few days after reading the first couple of chapters to really get into the book, because it’s seriously messed up.

It has been compared to House of 1000 Corpses by Rob Zombie, and having seen that movie when I was inebriated, it’s an apt descriptor.

I’ve always been subtle or reserved in my horror. Never in your face gore, or anything similar and I feel like that’s been limiting me in what I write, definitely in what I read. I’m finding more enjoyment in the extreme stories than I have in quiet horror or soft horror. I will read those, hell, my favorite book of this year is like that, Stephen Graham Jones’s, “The Only Good Indians.”

It’s a master class in horror and one of the scariest and most unnerving books I’ve read in a long time, but it’s not in your face, at least not initially.

But moving on.

For me writing horror isn’t about scaring, not really. It’s about throwing normal people into terrible situations and seeing if they can survive. That’s what King has done for years with his horror.

Finding that I can write as messed up as I want as long as I do it well, has been revolutionary to my writing.

I have a short story due for an anthology on the 21st of this month, another due the 31st, and a first draft of a novel due in February(though it will probably be done sooner)and I’m enjoying the hell out of tossing in the most screwed up things at my characters.

Anyway, back to work…and skipping some levels

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Under Control

There’s this part of my day that begins before I start writing but after I’ve eaten breakfast.

I’ve usually started making coffee or my wife has and I’m thinking about the day ahead. I may have taken my son to school(he has two periods where he’s in school)or may not have.

This period is my contemplation.

I’m considering where the story is going. Thinking about the beats to get to the end and all that I still have to write, at least right now. Some days, towards the end of a project this moments are near fleeting and I’m just rocked to get into the story.

But lately, as I work my way through the current project of which is a novel right now, but I’ll be writing a short story the next few days for an anthology to be submitted before the end of the month.

I did that a few weeks ago and it was tough to work on two projects at once. There’s a shift in my brain when I’m writing two stories at once. It’s somewhat exhausting, but as the world is what it is, I have to write in the hope to make money.

If I don’t make the money, at least I have the stories. Every story is an opportunity to get better at the craft and that’s what we’re all after, isn’t it?

So, during this morning period and the thinking about what I have to do, I’ll space off, my wife will leave the room and I’ll focus on what I need to do.

Then as I set up my laptop, login, get the music ready, I check on my family. I make sure everyone is good before I start. This has become a habit as my kids are home most of the time and my wife and are sharing a work space. Well, we’re in the same room anyway.

As I’m writing, I try to become aware of where it’s going. What is the story doing? What is happening to the characters?

By the time I’m done it’s 11:30 or noon and I’m starting helping my kids with their studies.

This is how I control things. These moments in the morning and during the afternoon where I’m hopefully present enough to help with things, which as I haven’t been working events, has become my every day.

I write, help my kids, clean the house, and make dinner. It’s been this way for the last couple of months and at first I wanted to punk out on it, but kept going. Now I look forward to it.

When I’m making dinner or cleaning those are mine for thinking through what I’d written that morning.

I never looked at it that way, but now that it’s an everyday thing, I enjoy those moments of contemplation..

See you on Monday.

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Write what works for you, not others.

When I published my short story collection in October I knew it wouldn’t do well. The point was to publish something this year, regardless of what it was.

I loved writing those stories and enjoyed the process of editing them, putting them together, and putting them out.

When you write, there are things that you hope will happen: that people will read your stories, that you’ll get amazing reviews, and that you’ll connect with those people through your writing.

What happened was none of that.

The only people who bought the collection, now $.99 on Amazon for Kindle, are mostly family. There are couple of outliers, but it’s mostly family.

Here’s the thing about that. My family doesn’t read horror.

My mom used to, but doesn’t anymore. I guess I put together the collection for them, and not for myself, which is fine.

I’ve listened to a authors talk about the fact that their families don’t read horror so why should they write for them?

I took this to heart with the last few stories I’ve written. It’s about what scares me because in the end, if I’m not scared when I write something, the reader won’t be either.

Writing for you is more important than anything.

There are family members who will be turned off by writing for various reasons.

I realized I’m okay with that. I write for me first and if I like the scary parts I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Your writing should be important to you, not to your family. If someone doesn’t like the bits about gore, it’s not for them. If they’re turned off by those things, remember, you liked them and someone else will as well.

Throw the dirty, gory, nasty things into your writing that you’ve been afraid to. Put it all out there, someone will like it.

I’ve read a lot of extreme horror in the last few months because I hadn’t read it. I wanted to see how far other authors have gone, and realized something. There were great swaths of things I was afraid to write that these authors shrugged at and went more fucked up.

So I’m doing that now.

I’ve written scenes I wouldn’t have dared write six months ago, but seeing where other authors went, I dug myself a hole and followed it into the dark.

Chase the dark, it’s where the best part of horror lies.

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Unregulated and unrefined

There is a way to go about writing that’s been sticking in my brain.

I haven’t been able to work really well until recently, at least on a novel. I have short stories coming from everywhere, but novels have eluded my since May.

Recently, the last week actually, I found my way through them and into something more worthy.

This breakthrough or whatever you want to call it came out of writing for an anthology with a quick turn around. I realized I was entirely capable of writing a story in a couple of days, editing it the best of my ability and submitting it.

It was less difficult than I believed it would be and found myself actually enjoying the editing process, macabre as hell I know, but it did happen.

When I came back down from the editing and after I submitted it, I realized what I’d done and thought about it for a few days.

Today is the first day I’ve thought of putting something down about the experience.

I’d been avoiding this blog, though still paying for it, maybe because I was paying for I was avoiding it.

Whatever the case, I’ll be sharing my writing journey more often.

I write horror and that comes in many varieties.

My short story collection on Amazon has 11 stories in it. I’m working on a novel currently as well as writing short stories for any anthology that I see on Twitter or Horrortree.

I’ll see you on Wednesday.

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Book birthday…

Comes out today.

Today is the day I’ve waited for since my teens.

I published a book today. Its only a small collection but I promised myself I’d publish something this year and it’s not a big collection, but I needed to get it done in order to be happy with myself.

The collection is only a small part of my writing and there are a lot of other stories I could have put in this collection but chose these based on my feeling about each of them as well as how they show a progression of my writing.

Some are from a few years ago while others are more recent, but each one of them is special.

I intend to publish another book in January, it will be in a different genre though.

After that I will publish a horror novel, which I’m currently writing.

I will write what I enjoy writing, which is horror.

Since I was a little kid I’ve always enjoyed horror.

My mom rented Halloween(the original) on VHS and Children of the Corn when I was a kid. I watched Halloween at least ten times. Then in my sister had me watch Hellraiser, it was all over after that. I love that movie and it’s one of my all time favorite movies of any genre.

Today I’m working on horror, but later this year that may change.

In a world like this, an escape is a necessity. Reading books, especially those in horror can get you away from what you’re dealing with and help you find a way to deal with things better.

Seeing someone deal with a horrible monster and having an ending for that story helps, but anyway here is a link to get a copy…

Amazon Kindle and Paperback are here.

Barnes & Noble Nook is here.

I am working on getting it on Google Play as well as Kobo, but I submitted them for review late. They’ll be up soon.

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We’re always figuring things out.

Next week I publish a book and it’s been a learning experience.

The whole thing has changed my perspective on what I write and how I write. I used to think I could only write in one genre, this book and another I wrote in April made me rethink what I write.

The book next week is a collection of horror stories, while the book in January is a political thriller.

I denied myself writing a thriller book for years because I felt I shouldn’t write it.

I considered myself a horror writer because I love horror. My favorite books and movies have always been horror. Narrowing myself to only horror limited what I wrote. I didn’t intend for it to do that but it did.

I still love horror but for some reason I’m having a hell of a time writing long form. Short stories happen easily, but long form are a pain in the ass.

I wish I knew why I have this issue.

I loved writing the stories in the collection which comes out next week, they’re all horror of some sort or another.

You can find it on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes & Noble for Nook.

I don’t understand why I have this issue, but I do. I hope you’ll get the book. I enjoyed writing every line of those horror stories.

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Bending the Spoon

We reach a point in our minds where there are two worlds, the daytime regular everything and the written worlds within our minds.

The surrender of which world we’d like to live in exists somewhere in there. It comes and goes, but its there.

The story drives it and that story pushes the boundaries of whether we consider ourselves sane. It can be all consuming. Taking all of our time, energy, and often, patience.

There are two stories within this.

There is the act of ignoring the story, and may disappear from wherever stories come from, or it may stay. That depends on the writer and how much they love the story.

This idea of love of one’s writing is not something a non-writer will understand, hell, a non-creative won’t understand it. I don’t understand it sometimes.

But there is a love of our stories. It’s why we choose to keep it on our hard drives and not send it into the world.

The second part is fear.

We choose to live in fear of what others will say about our stories because the fear is like a warm blanket. It’s this fear that keeps us writing, but it also inhibits our growth as writers. For if we choose to keep our writing to ourselves we hinder its ability to move people. Which is what we want.

We want what we write to move people either spiritually or emotionally. It’s the reason so many of the top rated books in any genre have moved us to tears.

There is something else to this.

We have to move the way we see ourselves and our writing if we’re to ever do anything with it. Which may lead us to into a place where we’re no longer comfortable.

We must stretch our legs and write things we needed to write. Stories about our childhood that only we will see. Novels that only we will read.

There is a point in our writing where a story comes along, we finish it and have hope for it but after looking at our other work, it doesn’t fit. It’s completely outside our normal range of work.

But in writing that story we’ve exorcised a few demons. We’ve completed a story we don’t see.

We’ve move forward along our timeline in a way that makes us understand that it’s not the story that’s changed, but ourselves.

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A Thing About Devotion

This topic has come up in my head quite a bit lately and I’m trying to recon with the reasons.

The thought of devotion isn’t only one of religion or spirituality, not even to one’s spouse.

I am devoted to my wife, but I haven’t been devoted to my writing.

Sure I get words on the page, but do they go anywhere? Will anyone eventually read them?

This has been what has been holding me back. I’m devoted to putting words on the page, but not putting those pages in a book.

What is the written word without a book to hold it?

This came up when I watched something the other day.

An author was being interviewed and she said, her first book she did the best she could and published it. There were spelling and grammar errors, but she didn’t care because it was out there.

This has been my blockage, this hasn’t been my devotion.

My devotion has been to write words, not to see them in print. What good is it to write stories that aren’t seen?

I am devoted to improving my writing. I can’t improve without publishing it, no matter the form it takes?

I have written 11 books. Even if they’re shit, why haven’t I published them?

I’m devoted to the act of writing, but live in fear of being published. I have submitted novels, but when those novels come back rejected, I leave them on my hard drive. I don’t do anything else with them.

My devotion has to be two fold. To the writing and to the publishing. I have to want to publish, regardless of the final product. As I’ve said, my wife and I can’t afford an editor. With Covid-19 and my bartending gigs less, we can’t put money into something like that.

What we can do is go over what I’ve written, self-publish it and see where that takes us.

So, I’m going to continue to write stories, but I will write them with a certain collection in mind.

I write horror, it’s what I’m the best at. I will continue to write those stories but now my devotion to them is changed. I will publish this year. I will collect 10-15 stories set with a theme, organize them and publish them.

I have to do that.

I’m devoted to my writing and now to getting things published, no matter what form that takes.

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Stressed, frustrated, and losing hope for my writing.

I’ve written 11 novels, close to 100 short stories and I don’t have anything to show for it.

I submitted a novel today, and that’s a good thing, but I’m honestly at the point where submitting has lost its taste and I’m ready to move on to self-publishing.

My wife and I have talked about getting a collection of stories together and publishing those, and I believe that’s probably the best course of action.

I love to write. It’s the only thing I feel I’m good at. I’ve been doing it so long, like with bartending that I don’t know how to do anything else.

I could find a job doing something besides bartending, but I really enjoy it.

As far as my writing goes, I’ve written so many words in the last five years since we moved our kids from Las Vegas to Utah that I’ve made great strides in my writing. I’ve improved so much from the earlier stories after we moved.

The world is different from what it was five years ago, hell five months ago, but I get the feeling that something has to change soon, at least for my writing.

I keep submitting short stories and novels and they keep getting rejected.

I can’t afford an editor, it’s just not in our budget.

My greatest hope is that something I submit gets published but as I lose hope for that, I gain it in publishing it by myself.

Moving forward I’ll probably self-publish a collection of short horror stories. I have a few that I really enjoy and I’m looking for a theme among some of them. I may have one, but I’m still hopeful for my novels, though as I said, that hope is waning.

It’s not about the money, it’s about people enjoying what I write. If I only wrote for money that would be horrible. I can’t see myself doing anything but writing and that I haven’t had a novel picked up feels damaging to myself.

I know I’m wining about things when we’re in a pandemic, all of the racial injustice happening to Black lives, but sometimes I just need to put my feelings down on the page. True feelings.

I hope you’re all well. I will tell you if anything happens with the novel, but I think I’ll be moving forward with finding a throughway with the short story collection. That feels like the best thing to do right now.

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Long past doing the expected.

I haven’t written on the blog in awhile because I’ve been getting words in the morning and I honestly haven’t felt like it.

Right now is different.

I’ve written novels in almost every genre and I’ve learned what I like, what works, and what doesn’t(for me).

We’re all different which is what I added that little bit on the end there.

I work best with an outline.

I’ve written almost 11 books and the current work with the outline has been the easiest.

Those who know me, or at least think they do, believe that I should be writing horror. I understand their reasons and they make sense until you discuss life with me.

I haven’t had that difficult of time but there have been moments in my life that sucked. We’ve all had that.

On to the unexpected.

I decided to write the current project based upon what I read growing up. Sure I read fantasy and sci-fi. But those were books I had to hide.

The books I read in public were different.

Life a meal and dessert.

The meal was always what I read in public. The dessert was what I read in private.

Now that I’ve nearly completed the first draft of the project, I see where I’ve made mistakes in other books.

I often try to hurry to the end and that’s caused many rewrites.

I’m trying not to do that with this project and as I reach the end I feel there are only a couple of people who will read it but I’m okay with that.

I feel I truly wrote this for myself.

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The Biggest Problem I have…

When it comes to writing, I have things I enjoy and things I’m afraid of. You’d think at 44 I’d get over some of them, but they’re still there.

The biggest among these is the enjoyment of horror. Whether it’s writing it, reading it, or watching it, I worry about the judgement aspect.

I guess that happens to a lot of writers, but lately its been creeping into my mind and stopping me from enjoying things that otherwise I would have.

I’ve loved horror since I was a little kid and maybe it’s because I grew up in very conservative environment where horror wasn’t given the respect it deserves. Then there are the people in this world who turn up their nose at horror.

There are so many of those people.

I think it has to do with a lot of that. The being judged part of my brain still has a problem with it.

Take the book I just finished, it wasn’t in the horror genre, mostly because I felt like I needed to try something new.

After writing 10(now 11) books I felt that something wasn’t working. I’d submitted books to agents, short stories for collections and anthologies and heard nothing back. Maybe it’s my writing.

It possibly is. But if it is, I’m going to take the next few months and work on improving that.

I have story ideas all over the place. I can’t stop writing now, it’s the one thing that keeps me going daily, if I were to quit, I’d have to quit other things as well.

Its the feeling of being alone in this process that drives me crazy. I can’t afford to get and editor, especially not during this pandemic. All of our money is focused on continuing to survive.

I’m grateful my wife is able to continue her job and we can continue to have our house, when I know a few people who aren’t in our position.

I’d like to get a push. Some kind of win on this, not that it matters money wise, but for my sanity. it would be helpful.

I’ll keep writing horror and work through the issues I have with sharing them with others.

Sending them to a contest, collection or anthology doesn’t bother me, but having others know what I write does freak me out a bit.

I’m aware that most of my family, other than my wife, won’t read what I write, and maybe I need to get past their approval and stop caring about what they think.

That’s probably for the best.

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Avoidance, Character building, and Confronting life

When I set out to write the current project it never occurred to me what I was doing.

I’ve learned over the last 18 days of writing this project that I’d done something I hadn’t planned on. Confronting my past.

I’ve written a few times about the books I felt I was forced to read as a teenager, only to find other books, horror and fantasy novels on my own.

The project has taken my down dirt roads with barely any way of finding the end. It’s led me to places I didn’t know I need to go as well as places I felt were out of the way.

This project started in my head about ten years ago. I saw only the little things. Not the bigger picture. I saw one thing and I tried to write it then only to have it fall away.

I set it aside and left it. Forgetting all about it for a lot of reasons. The main reason was I didn’t want to write in the genre, but writing has a way of bringing things around again.

There will be a glimpse of something in our periphery. It will stay there for a while until we notice it.

After I finished the story from November and put it aside, I felt lost.

I’d written ten novels and though I’d submitted them to agents, they weren’t as complete as I wanted them to be.

I’m still happy I wrote them because they led me to the current project.

When I set out to write this project I never anticipated a lot of things. That it would take me to places I didn’t truly want to go, not to mention the whole pandemic.

Writing for me is about dealing with my life. Confronting things in my childhood has never been easy, but now that I’m writing in the genre I grew up reading it’s helping.

I enjoy this project more than any I’ve written and the world feels familiar as well.

I’m a much better writer and human for going down this rabbit hole and confronting who I was then.

I avoided writing in this genre because of the feelings I have attached to it. They are about who I was as a teenager as well as who I am now. They have been in conflict for a while.

I finally decided the confrontation was worth it.

Now 46,000 words later I’m better able to deal with the story and handle what it entails.

I’m moving forward through our new reality and I’m becoming a better person for it.

Happy writing.

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Getting life taken care of

I’ve worked on a new project for most of the last month of all this crazy new reality.

It started with wondering whether I should write the current project, something I discussed in another post.

I also talked about dropping this project because it was different and wasn’t the horror stories I believed I should be writing.

But cooler heads prevailed and I’m at almost 30k on this project.

It’s the first time I’ve used an outline this thoroughly.

I worked for three weeks on this outline and now that I’ve got a handle on how it’s supposed to work I’m enjoying it.

There are minor points I’ve set within the outline that I must reach and they’ve allowed me to write to the story I want as long as I hit those points the story works.

That I’ve written ten novels and never approached my writing this way says a lot about where I’ve been and even more about how my mental attitude has changed towards an outline.

I’ve tried this approach numerous times but now after having a MasterClass account and listening to David Baldacci, Dan Brown, Robert Patterson, I’m more comfortable within this construct than I’ve ever been.

My wife got me a subscription to MasterClass for my birthday and I’ve watched all of the ones I’ve listed above.

The Baldacci one is my favorite.

I’m able to get 2300 words or more every day, sometimes reaching into the 3k range.

But having the comfort of this new way to work makes me more confident in my writing abilities.

I miss writing on this blog three days a week but have been focusing on reading and writing so much that the blog hasn’t been part of that focus.

I’m not going make a promise I can’t keep and tell you I’ll write more posts, but I will keep you updated on how the writing is going as much as possible.

I have a deadline set for the end of June for the first draft and will probably finish sooner.

As to the rest of my life.

Kids are doing school from home. I’m unable to bartend for obvious COVID-19 restrictions. My wife has worked from home for the last 9+ years and is busy.

I work, play video games, keep the house, and yard clean.

I miss bartending. I’m an introvert, except when I’m pouring drinks.

I miss that.

I hope you’re all healthy.

Stay home, stay safe.

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Horror and dealing with things…

Let’s be honest. All this shit happening around is bonkers to say the least.

I’ve tried writing something other than horror to keep my mind from thinking of all the terrible circumstances of our current existence.

But I’ve failed.

I spent three weeks writing an outline for a story that has failed to hold my attention.

I don’t think it’s the outline that did it but more along the lines of how my brain reacts to the world around me.

I thought I could write something more mainstream, or at least something non-fantastical.

That came to end this morning when I put away the outline and went back to a short story I’d shelved.

I do enjoy the world I created with that outline but I currently feel like I’m trying too hard to write something that a person would enjoy and that person isn’t me.

I like to read all flavors of books but the fantastic saved me more times than anything else has.

I’ve tried to deny it, but after writing ten books with nothing to show for it, I have to go back to what makes me happy and it’s not writing what someone who isn’t a part of my life would enjoy.

Of all the books I’ve written, they’ve all had fantastic elements. Whether they be vampires, apocalypse, Grim Dark fantasy, or any of the other derivatives of fantasy.

I just can’t write a regular fiction novel without thinking about where I could put a monster. It didn’t happen during the outline process but boy, it’s happened in the drafting process.

I keep thinking, “hey I’m could put a monster in here”, then I think, “No. That won’t work in the larger scale of the story.”

That’s my problem.

I tried writing something that wasn’t me.

Sure I read all those books when I was a kid, but I wasn’t given the option of reading anything else.

The books and comics I wanted to read I hid and read them at night when I was alone in my room.

I was always fearful of being found out that I read those books. There were always from the library at school or the public library.

Those stories got me through one of the worst parts of my childhood.

I’ve neglected the teenager and kid I was and what he would have enjoyed reading.

It was during those nights alone that I started to create my own stories.

It was those nights when I had the apartment to myself that I’d read, write, and think about stories and worlds.

I’ve forgotten those moments, or more appropriately, buried them deep enough to block them out.

I have to go back to those nights, weeks, and darkest parts of my childhood to find the stories the teenage me needed at those moments. I hated my life, who I was, and was unsure whether I wanted to continue living at all.

I owe it to the kid who survived.

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WTF…story edition

I’ve been working on an outline for the last 3 weeks and I started the draft this past Saturday, then I watched a movie and almost screamed. The movie’s plot was so similar to my current project that I’m sitting here, writing this blog, wondering if I should keep going.

It’s not just one or two things. It’s the main plot line.

After 3 weeks working on that outline the world the way it is I’ve been trying to find something to keep me going through all that is going on.

It’s not like I don’t have other stories I could write and put this one aside, it’s that I put so much effort into the outline. Now I have good outline, but the movie was too similar.

I’ve never had this situation before.

I’m trying to parse it out and come with a solution, but nothing I’ve come up with works.

I have to work, which is why I’m considering dumping this project for another. I love the story and everything about it, but I feel that it’s too similar.

There comes a time when I will have to put it away and work on something new, but I guess this is how it goes sometimes. I think I’ll consider it for a few days and work on something else until I can wrap my mind around it.

I have other stories I can plot out, I have books to read, but I feel I should be working. I can’t bartend because of the world and all that’s going on. So I have to write something. I must write to keep my sanity.

I said something on my Instagram stories about there are three things we can control, our mind, our body, and our soul/spirituality. My mind and soul are intertwined in my writing and now I’m trying to work through all of this.

Tell me your thoughts below.

 

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Changing Gears, Changing of the Guard…And Demons

I’ve been writing something that is a bit different for me. The whole act of writing this project scares me for a number of reasons, which is why I’m writing it.

I really enjoy horror and all that genre encompasses, but today, I need something different. There’s enough horror around us to hold my attention that way.

This bit of writing brings me back to the stories I read when I was younger.

I’ve always been an advanced reader and the books I read in 6th grade through the end of middle school show that.

It was the era of the political/techno/military thriller. Tom Clancy was king and I read his books not because I wanted to but because I felt I had no other choice.

This story takes me back to the days of military secrets, political maneuvers, and spy craft. It’s something I’ve always wanted to write but because of my feelings towards it and the way I felt forced to read it, I barely ventured into “enemy” territory.

Now I’m older, understand things better and am working to write something that encapsulates those books I read.

I may have been forced, or at least felt forced to read them, but one way to deal with your demons is shine a light on them.

That’s what I’m doing.

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The No Excuses Post

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know about how I planned on publishing last fall to only have it fall apart.

Well, that’s where the title for this post came from.

I made an excuse last fall. It was determined by other factors but I still wobbled and eventually dropped my plans for publishing.

It looks like I have a lot of time on my hands right now, so I’m thinking of doing that thing now, or at least soon.

Look, we’re not in a situation to ask for a professional editor. Just can’t do it.

So I’ll publish something. I know it isn’t perfect but I also am hoping that the little money I may make from it will help my family out.

My bartending gig is not existent right now.

I have no other way to make money and this is what I’ll do…No Excuses, right?

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Life and Writing Reorganized.

This week starts our second week of teaching our kids at home.

Last week was one hell of struggle.

My wife has worked from home for over ten years and I know how lucky we are that she’s able to do so.

But, damn, this last week and trying to find a schedule that works for the kids and school, my wife and her job as well as navigating being cooped up, has been difficult as hell.

I know that last sentence is everyone right now!

But we’ve figure out one that works for all of us.

My writing time has been moved so I’m able to help with teaching the things I’m good at, namely, history, English, and writing.

So I used to write in the morning after I’d taken them to school. Now it’s after they’ve completed their schooling for the day.

Today I did 4 writing sprints of 25 minutes each, with a five minute break in between each sprint. I’ve done these sprints this way for the last couple of years and it’s what works for me.

This new reality is hard but we have to get through it.

Find your bright spots. I’m able to help my kids with their writing and history stuff. I love history, it’s always been my favorite subject.

Now I can focus on helping them enjoy it as well.

I hope you’re all well and taking this thing seriously.

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New Avenues

With the way the world has changed in the last few weeks I’ve been working to find a way through with my writing. I posted something about that last week.

It’s been difficult to write something in the horror genre with our current situation feeling more like it’s pulled from the pages of literature rather than the front pages of websites and newspapers.

I’ve talked about the books I read when I was younger. How my father told me I had to read what he read. I wasn’t allowed to pick my own books from the book store. He had to oversee what I read. But when I checked books out from the library, either at school or otherwise, I would read what I wanted.

I’ve tried writing the kinds stories I read for myself. The horror stories, the science fiction, and fantasy stories, but I feel, as I wrote above, that I can’t write those horror stories right now.

It would be nice to say that I could write those things, but I need something that is more fun, so I’m doing something I’ve always been afraid to do.

Those stories my father forced me to read, made me learn about politics, aeronautics, the world outside my little bedroom in Utah. and that the world is big scary fucking place.

There are things out there that can kill us, and it feels odd to write about those things with what is going on outside my little house in Utah. But now, it feels like I need to go back to the beginning of my journey as a writer, and reader.

I wrote a few stories that were like the Military Thrillers I read in the 80’s and early 90’s, but haven’t, until recently, read anything like that.

I’ve been devouring those types of books lately. Working my way through David Baldacci’s books. Some of them aren’t quite Military Thrillers like what I read long ago, but they are quite fun and I’m enjoying them a lot more than horror.

My wife bought me MasterClass for the next year, and I’ve been watching Baldacci’s classes over and over. His approach to writing makes me feel better that mine is similar.

The most important part is I’m working on a project. I read all of the early Tom Clancy books, from Red October through to the early 90’s books.

It’s been a long road back to where I started, but I’m having more fun writing than I have in a while and watching the world rise up around the characters has been a fun trip.

I hope you’re all healthy, and stay that way.

Take care of yourselves, and those you love.

We’ll get through this.

 

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Something different for a while…

With our new reality, I thought it a good idea to try something different with this blog.

I am home with my wife and two kids, both of the latter will be home schooled as our school district has closed in person classes.

I know this whole thing is scary, but I also know we as society can get through it. We’ve done great things and will continue too.

Now, here’s where I talk about the difference of what I’ll be doing now, compared to the past.

  1. I’ll keep you updated on whether anyone in my family is sick.
  2. I will promote the things I see that will help us all get through this. Here are a couple, Scholastic, Online museums. There will be others.
  3. I’ll be honest. Part of that is telling you that I’m scared. Scared for my family and the medical conditions of my sibling and parents.

This is just the beginning. I will be posting on Twitter and IG.

I’ll also be telling you what I’m reading. Check my goodreads for that as well as IG and Twitter.

I will not be reading any dystopian stuff. I just can’t.

Have a great week.

Stay the fuck home and take care of those you love.

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A New(temporary)Normal

I haven’t posted for a few weeks. Sorry about that.

I’ve been dealing with the same thing as everyone else.

It’s hard to wrap my head around it. School is closed for my kids and that’s going to be challenge.

But I’m not here to talk about that.

Growing up, my father forced me to read certain books. I did so because I loved him. But I wanted to read other books. He forbid me from reading a lot of books.

Now I still love horror and fantasy but I grew up reading Tom Clancy, Dale Brown, Stephen Coonts. Those were the writers I read.

Fast forward to right now and I’ve started reading similar books.

I never thought about writing those kinds of books. Military thrillers weren’t what I wanted to write. It’s funny how life teaches a lot of lessons that way.

I’ve started a new story. It’s one that’s been in my head for a long time. I feel it needs to be written. My teenage self would’ve enjoyed it.

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Taking me time.

I haven’t taken a solo trip in a while and the last time was a working trip.

I’m heading to Vegas to help my parents with a move.

I haven’t been there by myself in over 20 years.

I plan on taking some time to read, write, take myself out to dinner, and of course help my parents.

It will be a new experience to be in Vegas sober and I’ve already picked where I plan to eat based on that.

I would like a longer solo trip somewhere but I’m bartending on Monday.

I’ll be taking stock of things in my room as I’ll only have myself to deal with.

It should be a good trip. I love being able to spend time with my parents. I’ll also be spending time with my sister and her son. I’m looking forward to that as well.

Have a good weekend.

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You’ve always known the way

There are all these books and speakers to tell us what we need to do. But the thing I’ve learned is, we’ve always known what we need to do.

It’s the same as losing weight. We know what we have to do but we don’t because it’s hard.

Like exercise, writing and other creative endeavors have the same theory.

We know what we must do to achieve the things we want but we’re so afraid of failure and what could happen we stop ourselves from doing what’s necessary.

This is counterproductive to our goals and we have to keep our heads when it comes to our life, creativity, and check ourselves mentally.

The way forward has always been blocked by whatever we have in our heads that it difficult. Whether it is the editing process or worry about how someone will judge us by what we create. It’s all about what’s in the way.

Getting through it is as easy as that.

We see the obstacle. We know it’s there and we can choose to ignore it or continue to struggle.

But it is entirely up to us.

We have to get through that obstacle if we want to challenge ourselves and if we want our project and life to progress.

But we have to do it. If we’re truly certain of our path, there is no other way through.

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Some people are okay being comfortable.

I listen to quite a few podcasts about motivation and getting over the hurdles of life. I also listen to self-help and motivation books on Audible.

There’s one thing that only a few of them have said that makes me think.

There are some people who are perfectly okay with being ordinary. With not pushing themselves to their limits and not trying to get a book published, be an actor, painter, or any number of other creative pursuits.

This baffles me. But as I work harder than I ever have on my writing, I’m beginning to understand their reasons. I look back on my own life as reference.

I didn’t start really writing until 2001. I use that year as reference because I went to Washington D.C. for a poetry convention. It wasn’t that impressive.

But I went because I’d always written and some times the words were good. I wanted to make a mark on the world. I wanted my life to matter, not just to my family but others.

This led me down a rabbit hole.

I wondered why am I trying to improve myself? Why is no one else really trying to do this?

I thought there was either something wrong with myself or others. But it’s more about what motivates me than there being something wrong with others.

For a long time I found no motivation. There were many reasons for this.

I hated my job, my life, and all that it entailed. I loved my wife and kids, but wanted something more than a 9-5 lifestyle. Something more than just getting by.

I wrote my first novel in 2004, just before my son was born. I’ve written nine others since then. I’ve queried two of them(one is still out).

When I say I hated my life, that may need explaining. I went to work, but hated being there. Hated the atmosphere and there were many times I was quite depressed.

Five years ago my wife and I moved from our house to our childhood city. The move and figuring everything out that came afterward was difficult. We managed though.

Today, I have all the time in world to write. I look around at people just going about their day and still wonder, why am I trying so hard?

There is only one answer.

We are born differently.

While some of us strive to improve ourselves, others are happy with the way they are. Sure, they may do something small on the side. Take a few classes, but more often than not, they’re only doing it so they can prove someone wrong.

I started out that way. I wanted to prove my biological father wrong. I wanted that so bad. In the end it became anger and rage. Which is never healthy. Which is why I’m sober.

I no longer care what he or anyone else thinks about me. I work at this because I enjoy it and I think–though my work ethic sucks sometimes–I’m good at it.

We don’t all have that drive to be better just for the sake of being better. Some of us are fine with a 9-5. That doesn’t make them bad people or lazy, it just makes them different.

I work hard at this because I never wanted to be normal or ordinary. I don’t want to live a 9-5 life. I want to see the world, do things other only dream about, but are too afraid of the effort it would take.

I know that because I used to feel that way. I didn’t want to put in the effort required. Today I feel differently.

I have a lot to do this year. There are goals written down, others are on my white board.

I hope you have great weekend and whether you’re trying to get better or are okay with the way your life is, either is okay. You be the person you want to be. Don’t let me or anyone on the internet tell you who you are and what you can or can’t do.

Get after it.

 

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Figuring Out The Writing Things

This story making business is difficult to navigate and sometimes it feels like the shore itself is never close.

The world you’re trying to create may never come to fruition on the page or in a bookstore, online, or anywhere else books find their places.

The shores of stories are built within the framework of everything else.

There must be a way to create them(writing), there must be a way to get them right(editing), and there must be a way for the world to see them(agent, publisher, online, or whatever the means may be).

The difficult part for some of us it getting it on the page. This is either because we don’t understand what that entails or we think it’s easy. Both of these are easily fixed.

The first part is the easier of the two. We reach moments where it’s hard to get words on the page. We reach them and call it writer’s block. We’re not blocked. Our minds didn’t just shut down. There is a reason we can’t write another word and the answer is within the story itself. What happened in the story to cause us to blank? Find that and fix the problem and the “block”.

Now comes the part we loath. Those who haven’t written a book think it’s easy. Those who haven’t written a short story think the same thing.

If you haven’t written a book or short story through all of the editing, it’s damn hard.

I hate editing for a reason. I would rather be writing a new story, but I have to edit. It’s an imperative to edit.

This year my goal is go through the promising stories I wrote in the last couple of years. There are quite a few of them. When I’d finish a book, I’d write a group of short stories that weren’t in the genre of the previous story, or if they were it was different section of that genre.

Horror has many sub-genres. If I wrote haunted house book, I’d do something with cults, witches, demons, possession. Also vice-versa.

I had to give my mind a break.

I wrote at least fifty short stories. I’ll be going through all of them and submitting them. Most of them are horror, though a couple are not.

But I will go through all of them in order to fix them.

I can’t not write, but I have to look at editing as writing and that has always been my problem.

I’ve talked enough about my editing issues on here to fill a few chapbooks. I’ll get it done this year.

Oh, and that story I talked about the 25,000 missing words, I finished that story. So, I’ll be writing some short stories for a while too.

Have a good week and get some things done.

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Finding yourself!

For the longest time I’ve wondered if I’m on the right track, am I doing what I need to, am I helping my wife out enough.

A lot of those answers were no. Especially the last one.

I felt more important than her. Felt like what I wanted to do was more important. Then I had a mental breakdown.

A lot of things changed after that.

I started TM(Transcendental Meditation), we moved from our house in Las Vegas a little over a year later. This year I stopped drinking.

But before all of that I was not a very good husband or father. I never cheated on my wife but it was the way I talked to her that changed a lot.

I’m not perfect, never will be, but I communicate more, I listen better, and I work on how I speak to her and our kids.

I’ve realized that my family is more important than I am. It’s a humbling experience to learn you’re not as cool as you thought you were.

This year I’m working on improving my writing more and how I communicate with others.

I have a lot of projects to finish this year but the most important is always myself.

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Waypoints And Forks In The Road.

I’m a firm believer that there are markers in our journey through life. That we reach a fork in the road and we can take the easy route or the hard one.

I refer to these moments as waypoints.

They are particular moments of decision.

Like waypoints in video games, they are either where we can continue the journey or stop and do something else.

For too long I’ve fought against the journey, taken the easy road. It’s either been through alcohol to numb my senses or through straight up asshole attitude.

But I’ve begun to learn from all the times I took the easy route.

There are maybe two times in my life that I believe I’ve taken the difficult path.

When I started dating my wife and when we moved our family to Utah.

I’ve thought about these moments quite a bit as I follow the path of sobriety.

What I’ve learned is I either haven’t tried hard enough or it did things out of fear.

Fear of rejection, fear of failure, and biggest of all for me, fear of abandonment.

That last one is bitch. I’ve felt like a lot of people abandoned me at one point or another for various reasons.

My wife is the only one whose stood by me through my alcoholism, my temper, my assholishness, and the mental breakdown I had in 6 years ago.

I’m getting to a point where I’m comfortable talking about these things. And I consider that the biggest breakthrough in my life.

There are still things I’m not ready to talk about publicly, but I am writing all of them down.

I hope you’re all doing well and that you’re following the path for you.

My path was constructed for who I am. Don’t let anyone say your path isn’t the right one. I listened to that shit for too long and it got me nothing but pain.

I’ve reached a new waypoint and it’s a difficult one.

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Muse and Motivation, where have you gone?

If you’re a long time reader you know my struggles with motivation. Well, I feel someone else has flown the coop.

I’ve been trying to stay motivated lately but I stare at my phone more than Scrivener.

When I do write, it doesn’t feel good and the fiasco of the missing 25,000 words hasn’t helped.

I feel like any motivation I have at one moment is gone the next. That my muse has flown away. I hope her wings have been singed by the frustration and anger pouring off of me.

So I feel I’ve reached that crossroads, the move on or die point. What I call waypoints.

It’s been hectic, to say the least. My mind has broken itself up into separate entities to deal with shit. Now with the motivation to write, the feeling that I’m failing myself, and that sobriety is making me feel better, I’ve reached a waypoint.

I can stop this train right now. Get off and never struggle with writing again, or I can what I know, fix what I’ve struggled with(hint editing)and do this shit for real.

I’ll have to do things I’m not comfortable with. I know I’m not happy with how my writing or how I’ve dealt with childhood trauma, but getting better is an everyday journey.

One step after another brother, one step after another.

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So, I misplaced 25,000 words

You ever have that moment where you’re staring at your computer like it’s lost it’s mind?

This past Friday that happened.

I wrote a novel through the fall and finished it the end of November. It was about 44,000 words barely a novel to some people, but it was done.

I’ve started editing it the last couple of weeks and I thought everything was cool.

Friday afternoon I go to send it to my wife to read. There was an anomaly.

It was not 44,000 words but only 18,000 and change.

I’m not sure how this occurred. I possibly saved it wrong, overwrote it or something similar.

So there I was thinking I had a completed story. Nope!

I will be going back to finish this story instead of what I planned on doing. Which was edit it.

Now I believe in fate. That there’s a purpose for things like this.

I plan on taking advantage of those missing words like a kid in a toy store.

There’s a reason I screwed up and I’ll take advantage of being able to rework it and change the things I remember not being right.

Oh yeah, happy Monday!

 

 

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This journey is rough.

I’ve been sober for a month and some people don’t understand that. They see me and think, “he doesn’t have a problem”.

Maybe not, maybe yes.

I drink often enough and think about my next drink when I’m not drinking. That’s why I stopped.

I can’t go to AA because I lost any belief in a higher power 20 years ago.

I believe when we die that’s it. The lights go out. I do believe in fate however.

I believe we’re destined to follow a certain path. We reach the larger arc of those paths through waypoints. Little things that trigger butterflies at the moment of decision.

It’s that fork in the road moment. We can take one path or another. It’s these waypoints that create our lives.

I’ve hit a few waypoints that changes the direction of my life, for good or not so good.

I don’t feel I’ve reached a waypoint in my life in a long time.

Our move from Las Vegas was a natural progression of where we wanted to raise our kids. It wasn’t a waypoint moment.

In my writing, I’ve never felt it and maybe that’s why I’ve struggled so much. I want that butterflies in the stomach feeling. That I haven’t reached that stage in my writing is distracting.

Sobriety feels like a waypoint. Maybe it’s a step towards a better understanding of my writing? I’m not sure. But a month in, it feels different than when I stopped last fall.

I’d like to get that feeling with my work. I want to be excited about it. Don’t get me wrong, a new project excites me but I rarely get that butterflies in the stomach feeling with it.

Maybe I’m trying to hard. Maybe I haven’t hit that magic point.

But I think I’m more involved with finding a waypoint than working.

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The effort to move past fear…

The title may be wrong in wording for some, but today, for me, it’s correct.

I’ve been having difficulty parsing my brain with writing, editing, depression, and sobriety.

A couple of those go hand-in-hand(Sobriety and Depression).

But the writing, I don’t know how to deal with it.

I’ve always felt that I must write something new every day. Something on a new project must be written daily.

That’s been my go to for as long as I’ve been writing and maybe that’s part of the problem.

I wonder if the idea that something new has to be written daily destroys my confidence, absconds with my positivity and may actually be pushing my farther into a depression.

The feeling that if I’m not writing something new I’m doing this wrong has permeated my brain since I wrote my first book over ten years ago.

But it hasn’t changed. I continue to feel like something new has to come out of my brain or I’m failing at this writing thing, which is what some people have described it as.

My wife has told me that I need to work for myself. Not for what she expects of me and certainly not what other family members expect.

That last part is another issue which I’ve been dealing with, but won’t get into.

The writing usually makes me feel good. It gives me that needed energy boost, which is why I fall into a depression when I’m not actively writing.

I have over 50 short stories to edit, two novels, but it never feels right when I’m editing. It always feel different.

Let me explain:

Writing isn’t something that I do just for shits and giggles. I’m working to improve daily, but reading fiction, reading books on writing, and my attempting to edit.

But it never feels like other things.

When I quit drinking last fall I buried myself in working out. It was an outlet that I’d always used to cope. It’s always there in the periphery. But I’ve never thrown myself into my writing the way I do with exercise and I don’t understand why.

I can throw myself into a video game, exercise, alcohol, but when it comes to writing, I’ve not been able to accomplish such a thing and its maddening.

I don’t understand why my brain won’t do that.

Maybe it’s fear, possibly its the fear that if I write something really good I won’t be able to deal with the pressure that would come with it. This is a fear I have.

I’m also aware that I have my wife and kids and they’ve been my rock when the landscape is barren.

That my wife and kids are her with me and they back me regardless helps me get through the rough patches, though the patches have been continents lately.

Now I will undertake what I felt was impossible. I will put the effort of other efforts into writing because I can’t live in fear of this anymore.

Some things have to be conquered by straight of grit and determination. The fear that I have for writing and failing is causing me to descend into a depression that could sink me.

I will put forth and effort in my writing which I’m afraid to. I will commit to writing, editing, and improving in whatever way is possible and I will do it to the utmost of my ability as a writer and human.

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So I’m stuck…

There’s this magical art of writing things that I’m able to do most of the time.

I create stories out of thin air. Launch demons and ghouls into the world.

Today has not been one of those days.

I’m stuck.

Not in a “I have no idea what I’m doing” kind of way but more in a “I lost my story and don’t know how to get back to it” kind of way.

Taking a few days off to recover from bartending Sundance events destroyed my train of thought and where the story was going.

I had a lot of fun writing what is written, and I’ve got back and read it. But I have no idea where it was headed. I have notes, outlines and all of that but it doesn’t matter when the story takes over your brain.

You’re at the whim of muse, and she doesn’t like to be teased. She wants consistency. She wants reliability. Most of all she wants her pound of flesh on the page. When she doesn’t get it, she hides. She runs away and fucking hides.

Now, I have no idea where she went. If I did I’d ask her why she left. But today, I need her. I need all that she is. It’s a joint effort and without her on my shoulder the words don’t come and I’m unable to get things done.

I get looks when I don’t write. I need her back. I may set out something for her. A bribe.

But I’m stuck and she won’t come around right now.

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Back into it

Last week was Sundance and I worked my ass off.

Late shifts and tired mornings caused my writing to falter. I was too tired to work.

My last event was Saturday night and I returned home at 4:30 in the morning. I spent most of that day in bed, as well as a lot of yesterday as well.

One thing I learned from last week is that I need to get in better shape. Doing floor after floor of stairs in one particular venue was rough. My knees paid the price for that event.

There were other things I learned, but most of all I understand I must write, but I also must take care of myself. That goes for mentally and physically.

I haven’t worked out in the last few months because of depression and that’s why I started drinking again. Alcohol is the best thing for me when I want to abandon the world and say fuck it.

It is a long road back from that depression and I apparently worried a few people over it.

Today I’m taking a break for myself, going to the movies and pondering the next phase. But I’m thinking more clearly and more introspective of my work and thought processes.

I’m thinking a lot the last few days about how hard I work and whether its hard enough to achieve my goals.

Whether I publish or not this year is in my hands, and though I have a queries out with agents and short stories out with magazines, I’ll continue working. There is not stop except the peak of one mountain. After that peak, there’s always another mountain to climb.

I will continue to take a break when needed, but today I’m going to think about where life is going and what I’m doing.

Have a good day and I’ll post something tomorrow.

Much love.

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I took some time away…and

I stepped away from social media, only checking things on my computer. The only social app on my phone is TikTok, and it’s for comic relief purposes.

This break from social media led me to reevaluate how much time I spend on Twitter and Instagram.

Instagram has pretty pictures and Twitter, well it has as much drama as Facebook, or at least that’s how it’s felt lately so I’ve taken myself off from there, only logging in every other day. I may miss a few things but my mental state was getting bad prior to leaving.

This time away let me solve the issues I had with the story I was working on and finally finish the first draft.

I know what I want to write next, but I may take some time to read, while I let the story percolate a bit longer. It’s not something I always do and I feel that’s caused problem.

The story will also need some help from a family member and I need to find the correct questions to ask her. The story is similar to the others roaming in my brain. The political/military thriller x horror is where I’m heading with my current stuff, and this one will need a bit of help with it to make it good.

This time away led to progress with the story and it’s helped me navigate my mental issues.

Come and go

There are many times when I struggle with writing, but not many more than the last week.

I took a break from the novel I was writing to get away with my wife and kids. We spent a couple of nights in a hotel, observed Covid-19 protocols, and had a nice time.

It felt good to have some fun with the family. Then I got home and discovered I’d lost the threads of the story.

In the days prior, I thought that may happen, but tried to ignore the warning signs.

The story stopped at one point and I had to backtrack. I felt the story going in one direction, but I moved it in the direction I wanted and it felt like it was falling apart.

I told my wife this morning that I thought it would be difficult to merge the two genres I enjoy, political/military thriller and horror, but it’s a lot harder than I anticipated.

I really want to merge these two genres as they’re what I grew up reading, but hell it’s hard.

After I wrote a few hundred words this morning, I threw in the towel. The story as a novel is dead, though I’m going to resurrect that sucker as short story or novella.

I have things to work on. There are quite a few submission calls out there and I’ll work on those.

Not sure what’s going on.

There are days when everything feels right. That I’m doing everything I can, this is not one of those days.

I feel things crashing against waves that wash over me, tossing me into the surf, and slamming my head against the rocks,

It’s hard to figure out where it went. How it got so convoluted, and when it started to get worse.

I’ve tried talked. Things have been discussed but the rocks, the surf, and the waves striking me haven’t stopped. If anything they’re increasing in frequency.

I work, I write, deal with family, but I’m not sure it’s helping. I’m at the pit and the sides are muddy from the waves. I try to claw my way up, but there’s nothing to grab onto.

Sometimes things are futile and I’m not sure where they’re going and now I’m rambling because the words aren’t coming.

The words to explain that I’m trying so hard. Doing all I can but after yesterday, it feels for nought.

I’ll sink back into the shadows. Work through it because the choices are minimal I don’t know up from down

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