Monday Musings 2/18

Another week is here. Another 168 hours of trying not to be distracted by the internet, wait, has Final Fantasy VIII been announced for Switch yet?

  1. Well, my bipolar business strategy is alive and well. After selling my books at a convention, and hearing readers ask me where they can get more books and me being like: “Amazon has them. Grumble. Snarl. Snap.” I have decided to restructure my online Square Store and put it back into business. Yes, I know, I’m all over the place. I’m totally winging this whole writing entrepreneur thing. All I can say is that the store is new and open for business if you’re interested.
  2. I have sort of paused all projects and started to Marie Kondo my writing (and my house, but that is a separate post) and start doing some major revisions. Right now I’m nearly 40 pages into The Greenland Diaries: Days 1 – 100. Not only am I cleaning up the editing and voice, but I’ll be updating the cover as well. I’ll also be doing this for book two in the series (three and four were a little bit more, well, clean). I’ll also be doing this for my short story collections as well. Good times.
  3. Might be starting a podcast soon called “The Perfect Monster” where I get to talk about why I like monsters, which are my favorites, and what ones I haven’t encountered yet. I’m not doing this just to build my own “brand” but I also just want an outlet for some of the ideas I have on this blog and in other quadrants. I want to talk aloud about this stuff, so a podcast seems like the best option for it.
  4. Marie Kondo is awesome for me, because she seems to really preach having an emotional connection to all things we own, and if you don’t then move on from that item and don’t pretend that it has a value. I’m not saying everything that isn’t a keepsake should go, but she just wants you to think about what you actually own, and where it should be in your life. At least I think that’s what she means.
  5. No more craft corner. I’m struggling like everyone else. Just going to keep writing and hopefully something catches fire or gets popular. Ugh. Giving out advice seems exceedingly hypocritical. I need advice. I’m lost. Maybe it’ll always be that way.

Jottings:

  • I beat Pokémon Eevee, which was a Christmas gift from my good friend Joseph. It was fun finally playing a Pokémon game like that on the big screen. Looking forward to more.
  • I still regret never watching Spirited Away when it originally came out in theaters in 2003. I was like: “what’s that Spirited Away move? Is that like different or something” on the marquee at the theater near my house. Then it won the academy award. Then I watched it. Then I was like…damn.
  • Got Final Fantasy IX for Switch. Happy to have the game again after I sold it a few years back to buy Christmas Presents for everyone.
  • Thank you everyone for continuing to read and support me. Have a great week!
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The Ills

Because I’m working diligently on the long-delayed sequel to my first self-published novel Beware the Ills, I decided to do a little reflection on my experience with the book and how it sort of came to be. Without a doubt, beyond all the amazing monsters I have created in The Greenland Diaries and in my short story collections, Beware the Ills is my favorite story. It is my shining star for a few different reasons.

First, the narrative voice of the novel is dark, overpowering, and poetic. You’re locked in the perspective of this mystical killer who knows little about himself other than his extreme effectiveness at taking the lives of anyone who sets foot on his island. You learn about his origin as he does, which uncomfortably seatbelts you to every battle and duel he encounters on a speck of land constantly consumed by war.

Second, the “antagonist” Haukter, who is without a doubt the best “villain” I have ever created. At the end of the book, the final confrontation between the two characters is fantastic, a 15 page battle through the frozen woods. I can’t give away more details because of the spoilers. Ugh. I really want to. I can’t. But still. I can’t.

Third (there are more than three reasons for this being my favorite, but I don’t want to write some boring, ultra-long blog post about why I love something I made) is that I was finally able to put my education to use with writing. I was a classically trained creative writer. I studied writing and literature in college, worked my way up to the high-level courses, and spent my time refining my craft through workshops with my peers. Part of my voice was hammered together in this literary forge of analyzing Chekhov and Shakespeare. Another portion was bred in the 16 Bit light of Final Fantasy and Zelda, which gave me a deep love for the fantasy and horror genres. In Beware the Ills, under my own control, I finally brought the two worlds together in a story, fulfilling a promise to my own identity I had always been afraid to make.

I could go on forever about why I love it, but I’m typical Midwesterner and don’t like to do anything too audacious.

I have mentioned this in other blog posts, but when I did pull the trigger and self-publish Beware the Ills, I was in one of the darkest pitfalls of my life. I had just gotten out of a seven year relationship. I had gone into tremendous amounts of debt to try and buy happiness with material goods and food. I was living in my parent’s basement at age 28, working as a student worker security guard at community college I was attending. Life had not worked out the way I envisioned. I even contemplated committing suicide the winter before Beware the Ills was published. So in July of 2013, I was sitting downstairs reading about other author’s successes, and I spontaneously decided to self-publish a completed novel I had sitting around for years on my desktop.

That novel was Beware the Ills.

Beyond just finally getting something out there into the world, the experience was worth more than the writing. By no means is the book a success. It barely sells, I make no money from it, and I can’t survive off it whatsoever. However, self-publishing this book taught me how to complete a project, and that I had the ability to do anything as long as I was willing to learn and work. It opened a door into conventions for me to meet other writers. I learned what I liked and didn’t like about self-publishing. All in all, it changed my life.

Now, six year later I’m writing the sequel to it. I’m married, have four children, released nine books, and write fulltime for a very, very meager living. I’m not always happy. Things are not perfect. However, they’re still light-years better than the crap I was surviving before. This Living Cage will be my first trip to the cursed island of Beware the Ills in years. I’m about 40 pages in to writing it. So far, so good. It was like I wasn’t even gone. I’ll be posting more updates about the story and whatnot, but for this post I just wanted to talk about how different things are for me.

Thank god things changed.