Wakey, Wakey!

So, I’m weirdly addicted to a lot dumb-ass lifestyle article websites like Refinery29 and domino, which I know are pretty much a big waste of my time. Every once in a while, though, something really interesting or inspiring pops up, and I guess that’s why I do it. And the other night, as I was waiting for my boyfriend to get finished with his work so we can head home (we work at the same place, so we carpool when we can), I checked out this article from domino, offering advice from 8 early risers.

I already have my own routine for the mornings, which I feel work really well for me more often than not, but I’m always a little curious what works for others. What really stood out for me was that two authors on the list, Felicia Sullivan and Stephanie Danler, have very similar routines as me! It felt like some sort of weird validation, and got me wondering if these women just have minds a lot like mine. Our creativity and productivity develop in similar ways. Sullivan, who has to balance a regular job with her writing as I do, “devotes the first two hours she’s awake to anything that will move a project forward,” which she explains doesn’t necessarily mean the physical act of writing itself. Brainstorming, organizing, research, reading all falls into those two hours. Meanwhile, “Danler spends the first couple of hours of the day reading poetry and writing in a notebook,” though one weekdays, it can more like 30 minutes, while the weekend gets more mileage.

My own morning routine? Wake up, make some coffee, switch between reading and writing for the first hour. If that’s going well, and I have no pressing business, then I’ll continue for the second hour, before going to do my little morning workout, shower, and wake the boyfriend up for breakfast time. If I have a blog post to make or a story to submit or some email to take care, then the second hour is for that. Pretty similar to these other ladies, wouldn’t you say? So I must be doing something right!

How’s your own morning routine? Do you share something with Sullivan, Danler, and myself, or do you do something completely different? Whatever it is, if it works for you, definitely stick with it! Mornings are so important to shaping the rest of the day so we can go make great things happen.

Monday Morning Reset [07/17].

Here we are, another bright shining Monday! My week hasn’t been too terribly crazy, but, for some reason, the renewal feeling to the start of this week feels especially potent right now. I think it’s just because I know I slacked off a lot yesterday (sucked into several round of Age of Empires), but I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate to blast through in the next few days, so it’s time to kick that slacker (and AoE) to the curb for a little bit while I try to get laser focused and ready.

I keep saying that I’ll not be so lazy this week, but every week, it’s the same thing. And really it’s not that I’m lazy, because I’m not. I work a regular job on top of at least two hours of writing stuff every day. I’m just a workaholic, and while I’m getting stuff done, there’s other stuff that I should be focusing on that hasn’t been taking center stage as it should. That’s why Mondays are so great; I force myself to take stock and gently push the distractions aside so that the priorities can march back up to the forefront.

So let’s break it down:

Reading: Still working on Missing People, although a friend has requested a testimonial for his soon-to-be released book, so I’ve been trying to plow through that before the deadline. It’s a cozy mystery, so at least it’s a quick read, and the protagonist is vegetarian, which I just absolutely love to see, especially in a book with a lot of emphasis on food. And despite needing to crack through that book by the 20th, I also picked up Erin Bow‘s Plain Kate for the new book of the week. It’s very charming so far, though I am not entirely digging the stripped down young young adult style of the writing itself. I’ve also got to get my butt in gear about finishing up my interview with the wonderful Max D. Stanton to talk about “The Hero of Madgeburg,” July’s featured story from World Unknown Review Volume III.

Writing: A few deadlines whizzed right by me, but that’s okay. I was working on a story for one of them, but it’s a story that will definitely find a home elsewhere, too, as it’s a pretty cool concept and who doesn’t love a good mummy story? I’m changing my focus toward a July 31st deadline for a 3Elements story, and I’m researching Théodore Monod for the kernel of another possible story about Africa. Lately, I’ve been really digging story ideas that require me to research, reminding me how much I really love research, because I’m a big old nerd.

Not a big enough nerd to just sit my ass on the computer and type some shit up, though. I still haven’t even started typing up Fearless, and I’ve got two short stories that feel like they’ve been waiting finished in the wings for a while now. One of them is sort of a standard cheesy horror that I don’t feel too confidently about yet, but the other one I think is a really unique story with a working title that I can’t decide is the stupidest thing ever or fucking brilliant: “A Mind if a Terrible Thing to Misplace.” Thoughts would be appreciated.

Only one rejection this week, putting the total at 68. No new acceptances, though I did finish up some edits on a story I sold last year, which hopefully means they’re planning to finally publish it. August is getting close, too, which means Two Eyes Open, which will include my story “Ursula,” will be coming out soon as well. Both are stories I’m really eager to share with the world.

‘Rithmatic: The only exciting thing that happened outside of my writing bubble this week is that my boyfriend got a new job working as a bartender at the bar in our store (yes, there’s a bar in the grocery store where I work). This puts us on the same team, though we’ll be working in different areas for the most part, which will be interesting, especially when we want to take a vacation and our boss gets to deal with two of her employees gone at the same time. But she knew what she was getting into when she hired him! It’ll be a big, exciting, terrifying change for him, but I’m so proud of him going out there and trying something so new and different. Plus, I know for a fact that the bartenders make beaucoup tips that blow the pants of off our coffee bar tips.

So that’s it for now! I have tomorrow off, so I hope today goes by smoothly and when tomorrow hits, I’m ready to go and in a good place to be productive and not the lazy world-conquering mess I was yesterday.

Happy reading!

New Featured Story! “The Hero of Madgeburg.”

After some unfortunate delays, I’m pleased to say that July’s featured story from the latest issue of the World Unknown Review is now ready and available for your reading pleasure on the Featured Story tab.

Now, as an editor, I always feel I should be impartial to this sort of thing, but there’s always a favorite story every year. It’s just the nature of the beast. Volume I was Luther M. Siler‘s fantastic “Culuqun.” Volume II introduced me to Adam L. Bealby through his heartbreaking “Selective Memory.” This year, the award went easily to Max D. Stanton‘s “The Hero of Madgeburg.” Like “Selective Memory” from last year, “The Hero of Madgeburg” is not a tale for the faint of heart. It’s a dark, gritty story of a soldier trying to escape from war, only to find himself stumbling into a nightmare much worse. Stanton does not hold back with grotesque, macabre characters that turn your stomach, making the reader feel the same horror and disgust that our hapless hero is going through. It’s a heavy metal album told in solid, wonderful prose, filled with darkness, fantasy, and the occult…all the things teenaged me would have made horrible fanart to.

Perhaps it’s my love of these dark themes that really drew me to this story. There’s a nostalgia about it that really taps into a certain part of my personal aesthetic, but it’s so much more than that, too. It’s shocking, it’s stunning, it draws you into this mad journey and slaps you in the face with a surprise around every turn. It’s good, solid dark fantasy with a historical touch, and I’m incredibly pleased to have the honor of sharing it with my readers.

Keep an eye out for an interview with author Max D. Stanton later this month, too, where I’ll hopefully be able to delve more into what influences and inspirations went into making this terrifying tale.

Happy reading!

Monday Morning Reset [07/10].

Oof, it’s been an interesting week it’s been. Between all my usual writing, reading, and working things, I’ve also had a visit with my brother and his family and a major mega sinus attack. The sinus attack is still lingering, although it’s a bit improved. Bright light still hurts like the dickens, but, thankfully, Mother Nature took pity on me and it’s a pretty rainy, overcast day…for now. The sky is showing a few worrying hints of blue, but, if anything, maybe that means I can fit in a bike ride later. For now, though, it’s sitting in front of the computer and taking a look at what I accomplished last week and what I hope to accomplish this week. Let’s have a look!

Reading: Sometimes, you think you’re close to the end of a book, and you keep trying to get to that last page, but no matter how much it seems like you’ve read, the ending just never comes. That’s how it is with me and Brandon Graham’s Missing People right now, which is a very good book, but I swear it seems to be dragging like nobody’s business in the end. I’m almost there, though, the action of the third act is pretty much culminated, and the end is truly in sight!

This week, I started reading through the Fiction Desk‘s All these Little Worlds anthology, to help me get a better handle on what they like to publish. And, though it’s not an official release yet, I’ve received an ARC copy of D.J. Lutz‘s upcoming cozy mystery novel, The Apple Pie Alibi, which I intend to plow through by July 20th so I can provide a little author blurb for him. This is a statement that makes me nervous, because I know how slowly I read and how many different things I read, but I think it’s a whole different case when I’m reading for business and not simply just for pleasure.

I’m also plugging away at coding up Max D. Stanton“s heavy-metal fantasy trip WUR story, “The Hero of Madgeburg,” which is my personal favorite of last year’s bunch. I hope to have the coding finished today, ready to share it with the world tomorrow before we do an interview with Max at the end of the month. I know it’s a little late for the Featured Story, but it’s been a rough start to July.

Writing: Rejections and acceptances have been flying off the handle for me this last week, and the wildest thing has been that all the acceptances were pretty much immediate publications, which was a whirlwind, especially when you consider I have one story in the wings that got accepted in December and I’ve just now started the editing process with the publisher. It’s been nice dealing with some publishers that put stuff out right away for a change! In the past week, I’ve accepted and subsequently published three stories: “Ten” via 50 Word Stories, “Hack” via the Saturday Evening Post, and “The Elephant Curse” via Trembling with Fear.

It hasn’t all been shiny acceptances, though. I’ve gotten a whopping 5 rejections since the last post, bringing my total to 67, but with three acceptances, it really softens the blow, especially since the stories have been very well received so far. As much as I like the story I started to potentially submit to Mummy Knows Best, I don’t think I’ll finish it in time, thought the 3Elements one is looking pretty good. Today, I started up a potential entry for the next issue of The First Line, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve also had two really vivid dreams that I’ve scribbled down and set aside for later, because they’d make really kick ass books, I think (one’s about a woman who’s haunted by a dead fiance, the other is about a really dark and twisted competition between sororities that involves a lot of dark and twisted magic).

‘Rithmatic: Yesterday, I got to spend the day with my brother and his family at Raging Waves, a vaguely Australian themed waterpark here in northwestern Illinois. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a water park, and this one was pretty basic (especially for the not-so-basic price), but we had a lot of fun, despite the fact that I was pretty much blind in one eye from my sinus attack. The real treat (other than seeing my nieces and nephew, of course!), was when we went out to the Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora for dinner afterwards. My brother is huge into craft beers, so we always like to hit up some of the many fantastic local breweries here in the Chicago area, and the Roundhouse is such a cool space! Not only is it just a really cool place, but they easily have the best vegan nachos I have ever had. I’ll repeat that, the BEST VEGAN NACHOS EVER. I want to go back just to eat more of those freakin’ delicious nachos (my boyfriend actually got the nachos, I got their vegan tacos and some fries, but, man, I ate a lot of his nachos, too, which was okay, because they were huuuuuge and my tacos were smoll). We also may have our first possible serious consideration for a wedding venue, too, because their courtyard is gorgeous and exactly the sort of scene we’d want, and there’s a Holiday Inn right across the parking lot for accommodations. Nice location planning!

That’s all for now. I took today off because the original plan with the brother’s family was to do camping, but that fell through, so I’ve got a nice Monday to get a lot of things done, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Happy reading, everyone!

“Hack.”

Anyone who follows me on social media (well, Facebook and Twitter, anyway) will have already gotten the news, but I’m pleased to share with everyone on the blog that I’ve had a second story accepted by the Saturday Evening Post. And it’s already available for your viewing pleasure, in what was a bit of a whirlwind accept-and-publish moment that was really refreshing but astonishing after having to deal with some very slow moving publishers recently (just got the edits back from a story I sold in December, for example).

The story is “Hack,” about a man and his nefarious system to date unsuspecting women and slowly destroy their lives…or at least their finances. It was inspired by a chance encounter I had with an ex a while back, because even the smallest thing can inspire a wild story. It’s a little different from my usual work, I feel, which means I’ve always kind of had a weird relationship with this story. It was a story I never expected to find a place somewhere, but, once again, the Saturday Evening Post has surprised me, and I’m really honored to now be a two-time contributor to their Fiction Friday feature on their website (the last story of mine they published, “The Alley,” is still one of my favorite things I’ve written, so check that out too, if you haven’t).

I’ve also recently had a little blip published with 50 Word Stories called “Ten,” about an assassin, and I’ll be sharing with you all next week a story that will be featured on Trembling with Fear called “The Elephant Curse,” but that doesn’t drop until tomorrow, so you’ll have to wait until then!

After so many rejections, it’s really been a whirlwind last week with these three acceptances coming in and being so promptly published. It’s fantastic, but a little overwhelming. Thankfully, I’ve had plenty of rejections in the meantime, too, so that I don’t get too cocky. And I’ve got a great piece that’s been sitting in the wings that’ll be making its appearance in August, too.

Happy reading!

Monday Morning Reset [07/03].

I still can’t believe it’s already July. We’re more than half way done with the year, and I can’t believe how much crap I haven’t be doing. Top of the list: getting Fearless ready for print. The draft is finished, I just haven’t had the time to focus on getting it typed up and doing the major edits it will need, but I promise that it will be coming, and that it’ll be worth the wait. It’s even more epic than the first two books of the series, and it will not disappoint. It’s also about time to start promoting World Unknown Review to prompt people to send me their submissions for Volume IV! I have had a lot of poetry submissions so far (and I mean a lot), so I’m really hungering for some short stories to balance it out. If you’ve got a story you’d like considered for publication, come check out the guidelines and send it in. Stories are accepted until October 31st, so there’s still plenty of time, but, if this year has shown me anything, it’s that deadlines will be here a lot sooner than you expect them!

Meanwhile, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster of a week. I haven’t been feeling well, but I try not to let that hold me back. Here’s a look of what I’ve managed to get done and what I hope to get done throughout the week:

Reading: I didn’t get through Missing People this week like I was hoping to, but after trying to charge for the ending, I think this week will finally (hopefully) be it. It drags a little bit in the end, which isn’t helping much. The new book for the week is Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, which has a real”>ly interesting style and flair to it that I’m really intrigued by so far. I’d like to get into reading more fantasy again, anyway, to help encourage me to get back into the Aryneth books and maybe finally preparing Serpent in a Cage for the world to see.

Writing: Life has a weird way of balancing things out. After last week’s heavy rush of demoralizing rejections, I landed one more (current count: 62), but I also landed not just one, but two acceptances. One of them is forthcoming with Trembling with Fear, and the other can be read now over on 50 Words Stories. It’s my second time having a piece published by them (the first one being “2:00 AM“), and my second one to make it to their “story of the week” classification. That makes me eligible for “Story of the Month,” which gets a small prize. I didn’t get it last time, but it’s exciting to be up for it again with “Ten.” I’ve also gotten some edits on a story that I sold back in December, which means I might get a chance to share “Pipsqueak” with the world soon, and I’m thrilled about that. Going through the edits is reminding me how wonderful of a story that one is.

I’ve got a story I’ve been working on for Quantum Corset’s Mummy Knows Best anthology that I’m really digging that I hope to finish soon. It’s really refreshing to take one of my favorite historical periods (Communist China in the second half of the 20th century) and blend it with one of my best genres (horror). I’ve also started a potential story for 3Elements Review.

‘Rithmantic: As I mentioned, I haven’t been feeling very well this week, just sort of bleak and blah, but these things tend to pass so I’ve just got to ride it out. The boyfriend and I are almost finished stampeding through GLOW on Netflix, which has just been absolutely incredible and helping us to not miss cable since we cut the cord. The boyfriend also won a bike (!) at a work raffle, so we’re pretty stoked about that. We were talking about potentially getting one, and then bam! Bike! It’s a nice one, too, a little big for me, but I’ll manage. I need to get myself a helmet first, but I can’t wait to hit the Salt Creek Trail nearby. My thing with walking it is seeing how far along its 27 miles I can get with my limited time, and, obviously, I can get a lot farther on a bike. (6 miles is the most I’ve managed on foot).

That’s all for today, I think. I’ve got to find the time to get July’s Feature Story from World Unknown Review Volume III ready to go this week, plus a butt load of other things, so wish me luck.

And happy reading!

Monday Morning Reset [06/26].

A strange but lovely thing happened this morning: I slept in to my alarm. For the past week or so, I’ve been waking up well before my alarm clock, a strange phenomena that has me going to bed a little bit earlier each night, which makes my body naturally awaken after a certain amount of time, even if that means earlier than I’d like. It’s usually a bit of a blessing, since that just gives me more time to do things in the morning, but after finally breaking the streak in getting up at the intended time this morning, I’ve got to say, I really liked the extra sleep!

That doesn’t have much to do with anything. I mostly just wanted to use it as a way of getting started on my usual Monday Morning Reset, where I get started on a few new things, hopefully finish up some things from the last week, and take a look at how things are coming along.

Reading: I still haven’t managed to finish up Missing People as intended, but I’m getting closer! This week, I’ll nail it down for sure. Since it’s summer, I’ve also added Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine to the Pile’O’Books, as I wanted to make it a Summertime Staple to inspire me through this particular season. It’ll be a joy to read through it again, and it’ll hopefully inspire me to get out to the parks whenever I can.

Writing: It’s been an interesting week for writing, and by interesting, I mean a little demoralizing. Four rejections flooded in throughout the week, merciless and swift, upping my kill count to 61. And no acceptances for June yet, either. I’ve always been pretty positive about things like this: I actually am sort of eager to reach my goal of 100 rejections, but, man, it can hurt pretty badly to go too long without some good news. I want to hold my breath for a few stories that have been held for a while (sometimes that means something, sometimes it means nothing), but I don’t want to get my hopes up, especially since one of these is a story I really love but I’ve had a really, really hard time placing somewhere.

Ah, well. Time will tell. I just have to keep trying. On the bright side, I finally finished this really neat story I wrote about a girl who has literally lost her mind, so I’m looking forward to typing and prepping that one to send out, and this morning I’ve started another potential entry for an anthology that deals with Japanese myths and the tanuki. Not sure what I might try to finish this week, maybe that one if the writing goes well.

‘Rithmatic: Not much else to report on; things are settling back into place nicely after my visit from my mother, which was a lot of fun but also pretty exhausting, and I know she’ll agree with me on that. One thing of particular note that we did was swing by the new American Writers Museum, by suggestion of my boyfriend, and it was a real treat. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, and I was really pleasantly surprised. It’s a small space, but they’ve done a wonderful job of making it really immersive and interaction, with a lot of really neat information on various authors, interactive games, old typewriters to play around with, and, one of my favorites, a neat little system where you can enter in your favorite author and their books, and it keeps a tally of how many other guests may have picked the same things you did. They also had the original scroll manuscript for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road on display, which was just really cool to see. One of these days, I’d love to attempt something like that, just a long stream of consciousness novel, nearly non-stop for a few days, just to see what comes out. The price of admission prevents it from being something I’d visit often, but it was definitely worth it to experience it the first time around. I didn’t know what to expect, but I know I didn’t expect to have that much fun there. Very cool little exhibit.

And now I’m off to go try to find a home for another story before dragging myself to dumb old work. Happy reading, everyone!