Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Proof of the War on Christmas!

Fox news finally found it. objective and pure.

If you don't have time to follow the link, or just don't like giving your clicks to fox news (I understand both), here is the skinny: Jasen Dixon, of Sycamore Township near Cincinnati, has been told by his local government to take down the nativity scene he put up on his own property. The logic is based on a regulation that “does not allow structures to be located in the front or the side yard to occupy more than 35 percent of the area. Also, the primary structure must be 3 feet from the street, and 6 feet from the house.”* One neighbor is quoted as saying that he “didn't really pay it any attention until the different color lights came on, then finally the baby was put in the manger.” That’s right, folks, he complained once he saw the baby Jesus. Lit up in glory, as our lord and savior should be.

Now, I have not personally, roamed the rough streets of Sycamore Township, where the police must quiver in fear nightly if they have to combat such monsters, but I will venture that someone has a giant inflatable Frosty or a Santa in a Hawaiian shirt that sits too close to either the street or house. Hell, I’ve got someone down the street from me who only has about 10 square feet of yard to work with and every damn inch is lit up and pulsing. 

I bet they wouldn’t do this if it was a life-sized statue of L. Ron Hubbard.

*The quote is from the article on Fox News, not from the regulations, so there may be some discrepancy in specifics of the wording. I was, quite honestly, too lazy to look it up myself.

Let's open this up, see what's inside.

Hi-dee-ho neighbors,

My friends all know that I get these ideas. Grand things that I think are really awesome. Usually, I realize how much they suck or that they will require more than I am capable of putting in and they fizzle off into nothing. The world as a whole is none the wiser and no one is irrevocably damaged in the process, so long as we ignore THE INCIDENT.*


Every once and awhile, one seems worth pursuing. This is one. I’ve moved forward to creating my own review website: The Eviscerating Pen.**

I’ve gathered a team of solid individuals to work with me and our goal is fairly simple: wallow in our own subjectivity and tell any pretense of objectivity to take a running boomerang at itself. I’ve never been a fan of reviewers that try to pretend that their opinions are universal, as they come off as self-important dickwads. That part isn’t all that original, I know.

However, I haven’t seen any review sites that dependably focus on cover art, even though that is, to me, a vital part of the experience of a book, album or movie. This will provide an opportunity to celebrate those who put serious effort into such an overlooked, yet important, craft. We’ll also have a regular artist spotlight to provide detailed information on our favorite visual artists.
I’m not certain how this is going to work out, but I’m sure it will be fun.

As a last note, I want to thank Piper Morgan, Greg Hermes and Lawrence Resetarits for backing me in this. Maybe, one day, We will be able to set up advertising and I can pay your asses what you deserve.

*which never occurred. According to all legal, professional and private individuals, nothing, whatsoever, happened to that mackerel.
**credit due to Tim Deal and Shroud Publishing, as I stole the name (with permission) from my first and only Hiram Award I received from them years ago.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Shock Totem's bi-weekly Flash Challenge

 I've recently taken over running the bi weekly flash challenge on the Shock Totem forum. I've been doing this thing for a couple of years now and have a heck of a fun time doing it. There is something about only having an hour to write that keeps that asshole "you suck!" voice in the back of my head from having time to speak. No time for doubt. No time for worry. just barely enough time to belt out some words. Then I get to read all of the things other people came up with. It's so awesome, i cribbed the idea and use it with a student writing group I run.

You should join in the fun.

Here are the details*:
This Saturday, March 14, at 8 PM EST, we will once again be hosting the bi-weekly flash fiction challenge. The challenge: You have just one hour to write, edit, and post your story. This is a “prompted” challenge, meaning your story must be based on the prompt, which will be revealed just before 8 PM. The challenge takes place here on their forum, so you’ll need an account if you want to participate. Locking this to registered members .

The purpose of the challenge is to force you, the writer, to clear your mind of all distractions and write a complete 1,000-word-or-less story within the allotted time. You’ll have to not only write the story, but also edit it, and then post it by 9 PM EST.

For those interested, here are the rules:
Unlike the bi-monthly flash fiction contest, the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge is just for fun. The challenge will be held every other Saturday, officially beginning at exactly 8 PM EST. There are no prizes! And the rules are simple.
1. All stories should be complete, written and posted within one hour, and can be anywhere from one sentence to 1,000 words in length.
2. You may choose to write your story in any genre.
3. Your story must be built around the restrictions—words, themes, photo prompts, word limits, etc.—provided by the Flashmaster at the beginning of the challenge.
4. Once the participants’ work is posted, the voting and comment session begins and continues until all votes are in. Time limit for voting will be determined on the spot, depending on how many people finish the challenge.
5. The winner becomes Flashmaster and hosts the next contest.

And that’s it. Simple and fun.

Think you can do it? Join the forum and be present this coming Saturday at 8 PM EST. More information can be found on the forum.

*this was mostly copied from Ken Wood's entry on the Shock Totem blog. I just changed some of the wording around to make it look like I am talking for myself.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An update re: Context.

A few days ago, I posted this about my resignation as a fan from Context Convention, in response to the way the board and some members of the con-comm were dealing with reports of harassment at the con (i.e. not addressing the harassment and blaming the victims). If you've been paying attention to such things, you may have noticed that I was far from alone in this

The good news is that people do, apparently, listen and things may be getting better. According to a followup blog by Steve Saus, the Board has been dissolved and the con is starting over from scratch. I'm not sure what the results will be, but I am at least cautiously optimistic at the moment. 

This is potentially a huge win in what has become a major fight at conventions and will likely have ripples. I'm glad to see this occur, even if I didn't want to see it occur this way to a con I love so dearly. But it needed to.

As a message to any other cons out there that may be watching what has occurred: This is all about trust. We have to be able to trust that we can feel safe at these events. Even though I personally have never experienced any harassment, I need to know that my wife can feel safe, since I really like to share the things I love with her. I also tend to push these convention pretty heavily among the student I work with, but I could not, in good conscience, suggest to a twelve or thirteen year old girl that she attend a convention where she may have to be affected by such behavior. More so, I cannot consider suggesting it to a boy of the same age knowing that how he sees other men treat women will shape his own future actions.

As I said before, this is important.

While I can't say that my trust has been completely returned (it is much easier to maintain trust that to win it back, once lost- another lesson I hope other cons take to heart), steps seem to be going in the right direction.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A fan's resignation from Context

I was going to bitch about Ferguson today. Still might at a later time. There are some things that are pissing me off royally. But then I saw something from a friend that changed my mind.

I could ramble on about my love for the convention, but you can find that throughout the blog. I could rant my anger, but Steve is a tad more eloquent than I and I can’t think of anything to say that he hasn’t. There is a part of me that wants to point out the others who have withdrawn themselves from future Contexts, but that isn’t my place.

I think my time is better spent talking about opportunity. Specifically, the opportunity the members of Convention Committee and the board members of Fanaco have before them. It is still possible to make this right and establish trust among the con-goers. It will be hard to do so, after the way this has been handled thus far, but not impossible. We want to go. We want to have fun and we will gladly give our money to do so, as long as you show us that we can feel safe and secure in doing so.

I want to believe that pride can be put aside in favor of what is quite objectively the right thing to do. That it is possible to acknowledge that this wasn’t handled the correct way and that we can move forward. Then I would be perfectly comfortable coming again next year and continuing to tell everyone I know that they should come along.

Until then, I cannot attend future iterations of Context and that makes me very sad.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Super nano writing month

Welcome to November, friends and neighbors. That time of year while we are supposed to grow out facial follicles and sprout words like a garden drowning in miracle grow.

I know myself well enough to be very doubtful when it comes to the possibility of creating a novel, but I've decided to push myself harder than I am used to doing. Just to see if I can do it. At this past year's Context, a very simple challenge was issued to me by someone who would hear nothing of my whining about lack of writing.

Write 250 words a day.

Hell, I thought, that's easy enough. So easy that I never got around to doing it. Now I am and I have been reasonably successful. So far, I am sitting at roughly 2700 words written this month. If I keep it up, I'll have at least 7500 words written by the end of the month. Paltry compared to those of you kicking out more than that in the course of a work week, but a milestone of dedication for me.

So, if you are a friend or even an acquaintance, feel free to ask me where the hell my 250 is any time you see me this month. I need to keep my ass in gear.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Some good news and significantly less bitching.

The world has been more than a bit shitty to me and mine as of late. While I know that existence tends to do that from time to time and am completely aware of the fact that, at this very moment, there is some child somewhere in the world dying slowly in pain and terror from an inoperable tumor, that information does fuck all to help me feel better. World’s smallest violin and all. But, sometimes really awesome things happen, too.

For instance, I have reached a few of my publishing goals over the course of this last month by sharing TOC space with some of my literary heroes.

Case in point one:

Jamais Vu, issue three. Wherein I dissect some concerns I have with the events of Shaun of the Dead, proving how erudite and entertaining I am. But, lo, who else do ye spy on that cover? Why I do believe that is Harlan Ellison, public asshole and wordsmith extraordinaire without whom Science Fiction would not be where it is today. I may swoon. And what-ho, thar be Piccirilli, whom you might recognize from how firmly I swing from yon testicles. I’ve also been reading Steve Resnic Tem for years and have been getting quite into Damien Angelica Walters. Matt Betts, if you happen to read this, I see why you’ve been telling me to read Stephanie Wytovich so much. That mermaid poem kicked my ass.

If you are going to buy a copy (which you should because DID YOU SEE THOSE PEOPLE I LISTED ABOVE?), I highly recommend buying a physical copy. Honestly, the physical/e-book divide means jack squat, but Paul Anderson really did go all out in making sure this makes for something special. From the matte cover to the interior art to the craft of the layout, it really is worth spending the few extra bucks.

Case in point two:

wherein I have a poem someone once told me made them itchy. It is also pretty cool and likely worth the $9 by itself. But, again, peep the TOC (which is, admittedly, tough to get at through the amazon site) and you will see Marge Simon nestled among the folds therein. Yes, the Marge Simon who contributed to the Stoker winning Four Elements (with Linda Addison, Charlee Jacob and Rain Graves) and well as Vectors (with Charlee Jacob as well). Vectors has been one of the single most influential works of poetry for me and now I have my words in proximity to hers. Also, Dora Badger’s “The Worms Crawl in” and Montilee Stormer’s “Between” are pure gold. This one is pretty fun.

Finally, thanks to a little help from the Little Red Reviewer herself, I have been contacted by someone at Orbit and will be receiving a review copy of Mira Grant’s new Parasitology book. Fuck yes.

So, crap will still keep happening. I will be deeply in debt the rest of my life. Things getting better seems like a very relative bit of phrasing. But I have an amazing wife to whom I have now been married for ten years. I have friends without whom I would probably be curled up in a corner weeping and shuddering. And these silly little grotesque thoughts of mine keep creeping further out into the world.

I’ll take it.