Monday Not-Quite-Morning Reset [04/24].

I’m getting this post out quite a bit later than usual, all due to recovering from my semi-big C2E2 weekend. I know I say this every year and have yet to do it, but next year, I definitely have to get a booth. I had a really great time, even though I guess my cosplays (Amaya Blackstone and “Lawyer” Morty) were a bit too obscure for much notice, but they served the purpose of making the three people who recognized them pretty stoked. I had a great time, spent way too much money, attended some really cool panels including a really sweet interview with Evanna Lynch, and I can’t wait to do it again next year! …well, okay, I can definitely wait, because I’m tired as heck and the apartment is a disaster from all the prep, but, still, it was a good time. I’m eager to spend today recovering and getting things back to normal.

Even with everything, I got up earlier than my usual time to do a little catch-up on some writing and reading, because my morning reading and writing time is the best time, and I’m keeping my eyes on my goals. So here we go with a little look at last week and the week ahead.

Reading: I’m setting out to finish at least one book per week because I’m way far behind, and I managed to kill Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked this Way Comes, which I was honestly a little disappointed in. There was a lot of great bits and pieces in there, but it just didn’t come together for me. And today I also started to tackle Piers Anthony’s Firefly, which should be…um…interesting. It’s a very controversial, disturbing sort of book that came into my radar when I was reading about how poorly Anthony’s Xanth series (which had always been a favorite of my father’s that makes me feel kind of uncomfortable now) has aged. I’m intrigued by the challenge and I’ve read some pretty disturbing stuff before, (Edguardo Vega Yunque, I’m looking at you…) so, uh….I guess we’ll see…

Writing: I got little bits and pieces done here and there, but I was pretty distracted with the build-up to C2E2. A couple of rejections, no new acceptances or publication, although the author list for the new edition of Pulp Modern, which comes out in May and includes my story “The Lady of the Masks”, was released. I was particularly pleased to see Calvin Demmer and Nick Manzilillo on the list, too! Calvin was in Phantaxis Issue 2 with me and Nick has a story in World Unknown Review Volume III! It’s always a thrill to share space with familiar faces. I can’t wait to dig into their stories.

‘Rithmatic: Nothing too much to report here. The cosplays are done, time to focus on a wedding coming up, when to schedule a Ren Faire trip, decide whether or not to go to ACen, and to start figuring out next year’s coplays and the potential of having a booth. And playing Breath of the Wild again. I barely touched it all weekend. I’ve missed it so.

Oh, and getting back to work. Boo hiss! The weekend off has been nice as hell.

How has everyone else’s weekends been? Are you much a convention goer? Any ones you’d like to recommend? Were you even at C2E2? That’d be pretty sweet!

Anyway, happy reading, everyone!

Monday Morning Reset [04/17].

You know, I have the worst time trying to think of ways to start these posts. It’s probably not nearly as tedious as my brain makes it to be if I were to simply say, “Oh, hey, look, it’s Monday again!” or “I can’t believe how quickly [insert month here] is going!” Those seem to be my default, most popular directions to take. But this time I decided to go the route of acknowledging that I’m bad at introductions and running with it. But it is another Monday of another exciting week, and here’s my weekly look at what is and what will hopefully be.

Reading: I finally killed David McCullough’s acclaimed 1776, which was definitely interesting and inspiring but not quite as epic as I was expecting it to be. It put things in an interesting perspective to read about the very unlikely and astonishing steps that lead to the birth of the United States as a country in light of recent political events, that’s for damn sure. It was really hopeful; Washington and company were up again some pretty wild odds, but they stuck through it and succeeded in the end, which is something to keep in mind when things start to feel overwhelmingly troublesome.

Hoping to get Something Wicked This Way Comes and Lulu in Marrakech this week. Maybe even The Throne of Tara, but that might be a bit ambitious for this particular week, what with working straight on into C2E2, but more on that later.

I started reading The Corpse Walker by Liao Yiwu, and I’m pretty eager to really dig into it. It’s a collection of tales Yiwu was collected by talking to people at the bottom of China’s society, those who others would rather forget about. Life in Communist China is an area of particular interest to me, so it’l be really intriguing getting to hear some of the stories rarely told.

Writing: Once again, only one rejection, bringing my new total to 44, and no new acceptances left for a pretty quiet week. I’m kind of itching for more information on my three pending publications, but I have to remind myself to just be patient, they’ll get there, this industry is slow as fuck. In the meantime, I really need to get a story written for another anthology typed up, especially now that I’ve given it some more thought and altered a bit to have a much darker twist that will fit better with the anthology. Before I was worried that it wouldn’t fit, but now I’m sure it will.

I did an interview with Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha over at her Cooking Pots and Twisted Plots blog, so head on over there and check it out. I talk a lot about my writing process and my typical day, as well as my cats! I’m also going to be posting my interview with WUR 2016 Featured Writer Sarah Gribble by the end of the week, as well.

Also, I guess I kind of finished Fearless? I was honestly expecting about fifty more pages, was just writing a long, and my brain suddenly said, “This. This is the place to stop. This is the best ending right here.” And I completely agreed. There were stuff in those fifty pages that didn’t get in, obviously, but i have ideas of where else they can do in the book, and I plan to add them when I transcribe the thing. It was such a bizarre experience, though, this feeling of finality that just appeared and settled in. Is it just that I got sick of writing it? I don’t think so. Part of me is, admittedly, totally done with The Slayer Saga, but there really was something beautiful in how the end was shaping before my eye, unexpectedly and just so fittingly. It was bizarre, but kind of lovely, and I feel much better about the book now than I did last week.

‘Rithmatic: The big news for this week is, of course, C2E2, Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, easily the biggest comics convention in the area and one of my favorite things each year. No more going for just Saturday, either, I’ve got weekend passes this year, and two cosplays planned. I even actually made my costume for one of them, bought a sewing machine and everything. It doesn’t look great, it’s amateur as fuck, but you know what? It’s a start. Next year’s costume will be better, and even better the year after that, so on and so forth. If any of my lovely readers are going, let me know, and maybe we can touch base. It’s always a blast to run into people at these things, especially with so many other people out there.

Of course, taking the weekend off means having to work pretty solid in the days leading up to it. Gross. But I’ve just got to keep my nose to the grindstone and my glorious nerdy four-day-weekend will begin and be awesome.

So I’m off to slave away and try to finish the last details of the costumes, and, maybe, just maybe, I’ll get some writing in there somewhere, too.

Happy reading!

Monday Morning Reset [04/10].

Another Monday is here, and I have to admit, the last week sort of went by in a blur. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a little odd. Was it because my schedule was significantly different than I’ve been used to? Was it just that I got a lot of things done? Was it just the nature of the beast and my bad memory working together in harmony? Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, because I do feel really charged up and ready for the upcoming week, and Monday are always exciting for me if only because of the fresh perspective and clean slate I try to give myself every week.

So bear with me as I try to look back on the muddle that was last week to parse out what was done and what should be worked on.

Reading: I finally finished a second book for the year in Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum, because you can never go wrong with Discworld and witches and vampires (oh my!). CP is far from my favorite Discworld novel, but I still immensely enjoy it, though I somehow felt the vampires played in much more in my previous reads. Ah, well, maybe I just knew what to expect so that shaded it a little. Anyway, I’ve got two books that look like they might get finished up for next week, too, which is great, and I started up on Haruki Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, which I’m quite excited about. I haven’t read nearly as much Murakami as I should, and I’ve never read any of his short work, so I’m really excited to get lost in his words. He’s just brilliant, and the book started out with such a wonderful dissection of the differences between writing a novel and writing a short story that was as relatable as it was beautiful.

Writing: Only one rejection last week, so my current total is 43, but I’ve received another acceptance, bringing that total to five! My story “Ursula,” about a man looking to save a friend from the nefarious machinations of a mental institution, was picked up by MacKenzie Publishing for an upcoming anthology, so it’ll be exciting to share that with you all soon. I’ve been plugging away at Fearless and Rosewood and various short stories, but the progress has been pretty light. Still, any progress is still progress.

‘Rithmatic: Most of my spare time this week will be going into finishing my costumes for C2E2, only two weekends away! I still have to finish my Amaya Blackstone dress, probably help out with the boyfriend’s Graham cape, and then do a few things for my second-day cosplay, which I’ve finally decided on but don’t want to say too much about it because I want it to be a surprise. I have also applied to Fandom High again, which will either be awesome or a big fat mistake. Only time will tell! But I’ve gotten the itch to play again, and I think being involved with something on my computer like that might help me balance things to get more computer work in. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but, trust me, it’s a thing.

So, yeah, feeling pretty good about this coming week, dreading the week after, where I have six days in a row in exchange for a weekend off for a change. But it’ll be worth it to have the freedom to go to C2E2 all weekend if I want. Are any of my readers planning on going? I know there’s a few of you in the Chicagoland/near Chicago area, and it’s a pretty big con, so I’d love to potentially touch base there…if we can find each other!

Until then, happy reading!

New Featured Story: “Lullaby Land” [WUR 2016].

At the beginning of the year, April seemed so far away, which was good, because April is C2E2 month, which meant I had plenty of time to get together my cosplay. But now April is actually here, and March seemed to fly by in a bit of a blur. I suppose there was a lot going on last month, but now it’s time to focus on new things. And that includes a new Featured Story from last year’s World Unknown Review.

Sarah Gribble‘s “Lullaby Land” is a short and bittersweet about the deep cuts caused by loss. It’s a story that resonated with me on several levels. It was so different from many of the stories I received, which is always a stand-out for a publication that seeks to have a diverse range of stories. But the subject matter was also very personal, as the main character Alina reminded me so strongly of my own mother, who suffered a similar loss before I even came into this world; my mom was very close to my heart the whole time reading it. And, lastly, Sarah has managed to convey so much with so little. The storytelling is simple and sparse and allows for a few words to speak volumes, which is effective for the subject matter and a very impressive writing style to boot.

“Lullaby Land” will be available to read for free on the Featured Story page until the beginning of May, so take the time to check it out. Maybe bring a few tissues, too. And it should be noted that today is actually Sarah’s birthday, too, so you owe it to her to read it for her birthday. And keep an eye out for an interview with the author herself later in the month, where we’ll talk about the story, writing, and other interesting things.

Happy reading!

(And happy birthday, Sarah!)

Monday Morning Rest [04/03].

What a strange week I’ve had. Trying to look back on it, it all seems a little bit like a blur, mostly due to playing way too much Breath of the Wild, which I cannot regret at all because the game is amazing. Even with the constant distraction of wanting to traipse around Hyrule and panicking about defeating my first Lynel, I actually did manage to get some stuff done in the meantime. It’s just everything’s sort of a haze. I can’t believe it’s already Monday again. I didn’t get any other posts out between here and last Monday, and I don’t particularly like posting two Resets without anything else in between, but it’s too late now. I’ll just have to be better about it this week, which I’m sure I will be, as it’s time for a new featured story from World Unknown Review Volume III to go up soon.

As for everything else, let’s break it down a bit.

Reading: I finally finished up a book, though it’s one from last year so it’s not going to be going onto the total count for this year. I found Women of Wonder in the clearance section of Half-Price Books, and, man, what a great two bucks spent. This massive collection has some really inspiring stories from some real pioneers of science fiction, and, as a result, I’ve been tapping into my own sci-fi a bit more (definitely a genre I love but don’t have as deft a hand in as I do fantasy or horror). And for this week, I’ve picked up James Clavell’s Noble House, because, apparently, I only want to read big heavy bricks of books this year. Maybe I should get in on that reread of A Song of Ice and Fire or an attempt at the Wheel of Time books again, too, while I’m at it! I’m really close to finishing up Carpe Jugulum and Lulu in Marrakech, so hopefully those will be killed this week.

Writing: It’s April, which means time to finally stop pissing around and beating the crap out of Fearless to get the draft finished and typed and ready for betas and all that good stuff if I want it out by August. I am taking a little bit of a back seat on the story writing for now (or so I say, but I know me and I’ll still probably plug along), as well as the submissions. I just feel I’ve got so much out there without too much response that trying to put more out every day is just taxing and frustrating and a little depressing. So I’m focusing on keeping my current numbers the same. When I get a rejection, I’ll send out another story, or maybe if I see an opportunity I can’t pass up, or there’s a deadline approaching. But I’m not going to worry about the every day thing. On the, um, bright side, I’ve gotten three rejections this last week, bringing my total to 42 for the time being, so some things are moving. I’ve also got a contract with Pulp Modern to attend to, as well as the release of the latest Bards and Sages Quarterly with my “The Space Between Worlds” in it. So that’s some encouraging news amid some more disheartening ones.

‘Rithmatic: I decided to use some of my birthday money to get a membership at the Art Institute of Chicago again, especially since I had three days off in a row last week and really missed my weekly trips to wander the museum and get inspired. It truly is one of my favorite places, and, since it was really busy the day I went (spring break + rainy weather + Friday), it was all kind of a whirlwind of refamiliarzing myself with the place and visiting my favorite pieces, I’m looking forward to future visits being more productive and inspiring. I also bought a sewing machine to help out with the construction of my cosplay for C2E2, which is fast approaching. You know, I’ll admit, it’s not that great, what I’ve constructed so far, but it still blows my mind that I’m making a dress myself, a dress I will wear and everything. I’ve always wanted to do something like that, so it’s really cool to finally actually do it.

This week and the following week, at least, I’m back to a full-time schedule, which is bumming me out a little, but, as I tell myself, the money is always welcome. I just hate feeling like I have so little time to squeeze in all the things I want to accomplish each day. I definitely don’t get as much writing time as I would like, but I’m still getting it in there and plugging along all the same. Sometimes, it really is the most you can do.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Monday Morning Reset [03/27].

Last week, I forgot to do my Monday Morning Reset post. I wasn’t too busy, I didn’t have too much going on, and I actually did all my usual reset things, I just completely forgot to make a post until about Wednesday, when I was all, “Oh, hey, that’s right. It was Monday two days ago.” And it hadn’t even been my birthday yet, so I can’t use my new old age as an excuse.

It had been pretty quiet for the most part, anyway, and this last week has been the one that’s been a little crazy, with some social events going on and the like. I’m really striving to get things in order but also doing a good job of taking things as they come, going with the flow, and not worrying about missing this goal or that one on any given day. It hasn’t been easy, but I think I’m finally there where I’m pretty okay with it.

So here’s a look at the last two weeks, since I skipped the one, and what’s going to happen going into this week. Or, at the very least, what I hope will happen.

Reading: I finally managed to bust open The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today, the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia self-help book, which should quell some of my Sunny withdrawals until next season (that, and watching it again for the billionth time on Netflix). And then this week, I started up something completely different, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a book I’m sure I was supposed to read for one of those Russian history classes I took in college that I remember almost nothing about except that my professor looked like George Carlin. Somehow, I still managed to pass those classes, and I still have all the books (naturally). I think it should be a really interesting read, especially with Russia so prevalent in the news lately. It might not be a bad idea to brush off all those other Russian books.

The pile of books is getting pretty massive, so hopefully I’ll be able to shrink it a bit by finishing a few. I’ve got three books that are almost finished, and three more that are nearly finished, and with three days off in a row coming up, I intend to plow through them.

Writing: Steadily plugging along at Fearless, though getting the first fifty pages of Rosewood Manor typed up for a competition has been taking most of my writing attention lately. And the more I work with that book, the more I really love it, and the more I realize I really need to give it the attention it deserves. I’ve received four rejections since my last reset, making my current total 39, and no acceptances, and two of those rejections came this morning, so things have been pretty quiet on that front. Too quiet. It makes me feel a little antsy, or like I’m not working hard enough, but then I just repeat to myself: patience, patience, young grasshopper. This is a slow ass business.

‘Rithmatic: Last week was my birthday, hooray, although after a certain point, it’s all just kind of meh. I ended up working on that night, and everyone’s all, “On your birthday??” and I’m all, “Lol, I don’t have plans.” It did coincide with a friend getting everyone together at Level 257, a real neat Pac-Man themed restaurant and arcade in Schaumburg, so that was sort of a birthday outing. I even got to enter my initials as a top-10 score on Q*Bert, which means probably no one ever plays Q*Bert, or everyone’s just phenomenally bad at it, since I only got to level 2. But I love me some Q*Bert.

The cosplays for the upcoming C2E2 are coming along nicely. I’m hoping to get my dress done in those three days off I mentions and I’ll be pretty much done after that. Then it’s focusing on the boyfriend’s and maybe a second one, since we got weekend tickets. But we might only do the one day, or an old costume for the second day, or who knows. We’ve got options and that’s nice.

And now I have a snuggly cat making it difficult to type, so I’m just going to take that as a sign that we’re done here for now. I think it’s going to be a pretty solid week going forward, and I’m pretty stoked to get to that nice little mini-vacation on Wednesday!

Happy reading!

An Interview with James Wylder [WUR 2016].

It’s a little late in the month, so you’ve only got about one more week to read James Wylder’s thrilling space adventure story, “To Catch a President,” for free as our Featured Story for March, but it will be (pretty much) forever available in the World Unknown Review Volume III. After a bit of a delay, I got a chance to chat with James about his writing and his story, and I’m very excited to bring you our interview so you can get to know this exciting author, if you haven’t already.

LS: Let’s get right to it: who is James Wylder, anyway?

JW: He’s a writer from Elkhart, Indiana who is most known for writing a Doctor Who Poetry Book called An Eloquence of Time and Space.. He tours a lot, has had a few plays produced, and just released his first novel last year! He’s also the host of the monthly live fiction show, “Tales by the Blue Light” in Elgin, Illinois.

“To Catch a President” is such an homage to the classic age of sci-fi, with its own twists and modernization infused into it. Is it safe to assume that you’re a fan of the genre?

Oh, very much so. Alfred Bester and his novels The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man were some of the most formative books I read. I think Destination really shows its influence on this story especially.

Though I think my true love for space adventure formed from the Star Wars novels of Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole.

What really grabbed me and wouldn’t let go was the clear sense of worldbuilding in your story. I’m a sucker for worldbuilding and intrigue, and it’s very clear that “To Catch a President” isn’t a story that exists in a bubble. How much of this world have you written about and explored in other ways?

I’ve written, and am writing, quite a lot! My first novel is set in this universe, as will be my second novel (which features a different main cast, but the same setting). There’s also going to be a big anthology later this year featuring a ton of exciting writers like Nathan P. Butler (Star Wars Tales, WARS), Tim Sutton (Marble Hornets), and Kylie Leane (Key). I’ve been toiling over the stories for it, getting it all in order. It should be a massive and exciting work.

The whole thing is part of a larger project called “10,000 Dawns” that I created with a few friends out of college. We wanted to tell stories together, so we decided to create a universe we could all do that in. Its a lot of fun, but also we’ve created some amazing tales I can’t wait to share with everyone.

The novel is a great starting place for anyone who loved this tale and wants more set in the same universe.

This vision of the future is one that clearly spans many different cultures. What inspired you to include those cultures and how did they develop into what we see in the story?

I think generally science fiction is a bit too homogeneous. Somehow, it’s become normal that tales can feature outlandish things aplenty, but it’s always happening to people of European ancestry. Yet in my own life, the people around me come in all kinds: all sorts of religions, ethnicities, sexualities, etc, etc… If my own life is so diverse, why shouldn’t the people exploring space be the same way? Including such a diverse cast simply brings the story up to par with reality for me.

Of course, bringing a culture into the future is difficult, especially when you aren’t a part of it yourself. However, most of the people in the story (aside from the Centro crew) didn’t grow up on Earth. They’re a morphing of the culture they came from on Earth centuries ago. So the question then is: how would their cultures change? There is a plethora backstory about that, especially for the Martians, but basically just as any immigrants adapt to the new country they come to but keep some of their old ways, so do the people who have gone out to space. Hopefully, I did an okay job writing these people and their lives. I aim to keep improving in that regard.

Besides your own, who is your favorite space captain and/or pirate?

My favorite space captain is Jonathan Archer from Star Trek Enterprise. You can probably see a bit of that in Hirsch.

My favorite pirate captain in space is Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly. You can definitely see a lot of that in Kali.

That’s so true! As soon as you said ‘Jonathan Archer,’ I thought, “Oh, well that’s Hirsch!” And, branching off of that, I feel like the idea of the space pirate is one that has definitely taken flight (pardon the pun) in popular culture. What do you think might be behind the appreciation of this trope? How do you try to develop your own pirates into something unique?

I think the space pirate channels the idea of ultimate freedom: no one can hold you in space as long as you keep moving. It’s lawless, but there is an aesthetic of nobleness and self-empowerment to it. I think to many it feels very liberating.

Space pirates show up a lot, though. They’re a common trope. I think the multiculturalism of their crew did a lot to make them stand out before anything else I did. Sure, I tried to give them memorable tactics and interesting body modifications, but the crew having such a diverse mindset really is what makes them fun to write.

Zhang Han by Olga Andreyeva and Ayanna Mohammad by Sketching Sands

If you were in charge of a film version of your story, who do you think you would cast in some of the roles?

Priyanka Chopra would be a good choice for Crimson Kali, she has the screen presence for it.

Vidyul, well, it might be surprising but I think Mindy Kaling would do a great job? She primarily does comedic roles, but she can play a wide range of emotions quickly and well, and I think she could really handle it.

Chuluuny Khulan could probably play Zhang Han well, though she’s only been in one film as far as I know. I’m not particularly familiar with Mongolian actresses unfortunately.

Alia Shawkat could be a great Ayanna! She has the spunk, the fire, the attitude. She was amazing in drunk history playing Alexander Hamilton, and she’d tear up this role as well.

Hirsch? Easy. Liam Hemsworth.

I never realized how much I needed Mindy Kaling in that role until just this moment. In the words of one of my own favorite space captains, “Make it so!”

Read any good books lately?

I read Devil in the White City recently, which was a fantastic book that really changed my entire view on architecture. I’m fascinated by it now, especially landscape architecture.

I’m currently in the middle of Eric Asher’s Vesik series, which is a rollicking good time.

Do you have a method for your writing? If so, what’s it like?

I really wish I did. I’m trying to get myself into a more formal schedule, so hopefully that changes. I usually try to find a place like a coffee shop or library, so I can remove distractions if possible.

What’s next for James Wylder?

I’m busy editing the above mentioned 10,000 Dawns anthology, as well as my second novel. After that? I’m planning another anthology that should be very exciting, and I think I’m going to try my hand at writing a non-fiction book. I’ve done nearly everything else at this point (poetry, prose, plays, long form, short form…), so I may as well get all the bases covered!

Where can we find more of your work?

You can find updates about me at http://www.jameswylder.com

You can also find all my books on amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/James-Wylder/e/B00JLQGXKU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1490328092&sr=1-2-ent

You can also like the facebook page for 10,000 Dawns to stay up to date on it at:
https://www.facebook.com/10000Dawns/

Anything else you’d like to add?

It was a real pleasure getting to contribute to this anthology! I hope you guys got some joy from my little tale.

________________________________________

I know I did, and I also hope everyone had as much fun with “To Catch a President” as I did, and that you’ve really enjoyed getting to know the man behind the action as well. I know we can expect many, many great things from him in the future.

Happy reading!