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Monday, April 9, 2012

Anthology News

Another quick hello to announce the anthology I've been mentioning on and off for the last few months is out.

Cutlass: Ten Pirate Tales is the brainchild of UK editor and writer Rayne Hall (and I highly recommend checking out her writing, including novel Storm Dancer).

From the Amazon US page:

Ten exciting adventure stories:

1. KHABALLO by Margo Lerwill
Careened on a cursed island, the old captain and her men are caught between warring navies.

2. VICTORIA AND THE IRONCLAD by Douglas Kolacki
An escaped slave and a pirate captain race to capture the Confederacy's ultimate weapon.

3. BLIND MAN'S BLUFF by Jonathan Broughton
The trickster's reward is deceit.

4. SKRITCH by John Blackport
Your enemy may be your best ally.

5. DIAMONDS AND BONES by Kris Austen Radcliffe
In space, you may need to deal for the diamonds your bones need.

6. UN HOMME DE COULEUR LIBRE by Liv Rancourt
Fate sets Robert's life on a new course.

7. SCYLLA AND THE PEPPER PIRATES by Rayne Hall
A spunky young woman sets out to rescue her long-lost lover.

8. BROADSIDED by JK Kiegan
Love can take you off course.

9. THE PENSIONER PIRATES OF MARINE PARADE by Jonathan Broughton
Rebel pensioners revolt.

10. THE BOOK OF ADVENTURES by Douglas Kolacki
In the Great Depression, two brothers find two kinds of escape.

A few of you helped me out by reading a partial on Khaballo for me when it was still in progress, and I still appreciate that. Anyway, the anthology is 99 cents at Amazon. Check it out.

Oh, I forgot I'd picked out a song for the occasion!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We Interrupt This Hiatus...

...for breaking news.

Next month, I become a fulltime writer. Using my pen name. It was a really quick transition, about seven months from complete unknown to more than able to support myself without the day job. The upside for people who've been waiting to see more fantasy from me is that I'll have time for that as well. It's very likely I'll start drafting The Norn Convergence near the end of the year.

Also, many of you have probably noticed all three of my blogs have gone dark (for now). Later in the year, I might start blogging here again, though probably NOT on a weekly basis. And I still have to decide what the blog focus is really going to be. So take that for what it's worth.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

OH WAIT! We need a song for the occasion!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Writing, Life & Opportunity Economics

I’ve always remembered a conversation I had with a friend in high school about a topic one of his classes had just covered—opportunity economics. The boiled-down gist of it is simple enough. The time you have is finite. When you choose to spend it doing one thing, it comes at the cost of your opportunity to do something else.

Really think about that, though. It’s a deep concept to the mortal animal, perhaps even deeper to the human animal, who has (in so many cases) moved past mere survival-oriented thoughts to ideas of love, respect, and self-actualization.

It’s an even stranger concept for an artist—writer, musician, poet, painter. Time we spend with our art is time we are not with friends and family, time we are not enjoying other artists’ work, time we are not out in the sunshine or the snow feeling the joy of pure physicality.

Why do we do it? I think the answer that resonates most with me is the one that says we cannot choose otherwise. We need it. Even when we don’t do it, we need it. Those who don’t need it…my experience is they don’t stick with it over the long term.

For me, in more concrete terms, this means I sacrifice to work fulltime and still get in 50,000+ words of new writing in every month. The day job is, of course, my least malleable commitment. I choose to make the writing the least variable priority after that. Yes, that means sometimes turning down opportunities to go out with friends, opportunities to watch movies or play video games.

Someone might say, as I said when I first started my side project under this pen name, that this is purely temporary. When I am able to write fulltime (and January 2012 was the second month in a row I brought home at least what I make at my management job), I will have more free time to spend with other people and enjoying myself.

Now, I’m not convinced that will be the case. Sure, I will have more time, but I will invest at least part of that extra time back into my writing. More projects. More kinds of projects. More involved projects. More writing.

Oddly, this does not distress me as it might distress others. I’m in my zone, writing nearly every day, turning out those 50,000 words a month relatively easily now. I’m swimming in deep water, reluctant to come up for air.

I confess (at this late stage) that I don’t really have a moral to this story. I’m just thinking out loud (in type). Here’s a snippet of what I’m thinking, right now, as I write write write, squeezing in editing and cover designs for five other writers (yep, lost one who couldn’t maintain the pace), getting my ducks in a row to launch the small press next month. This is a snapshot to tape up on the wall and look at later, for what it might be worth.

All that said, I have music again. I don’t have a tie-in today for the post and the video I’ve chosen. This is just a song I’ve been thinking about lately. I love that it is almost like two or three songs in one. It’s a romantic love song. It’s an abusive love song. And it’s a song about something else. How quickly can you pick it out? I love the way the meaning shifts, the way his voice shifts.

For those of you who hate hip-hop, give the song a chance. I’m not asking you to like 50 Cent or buy his album or stop listening to country music. Just listen to this song. Pay attention to the multiple meanings. Think about the play of literal and figurative language and the assumptions we make when reading or listening to music, especially the assumptions that come packaged with what we know about the artist.

Anyway, here it is. 50 Cent’s A Baltimore Love Thing:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Music (and Writing and Art) from the Gut

I didn't post last week mostly because I didn't really have anything to post about. 95% of my waking life is about my pen name project or the small press I'm bringing online.

Then, while cooking--I always listen to music if I'm doing more than popping something into the microwave--my Rhapsody playlist (set on shuffle) pulled up a Beth Hart song, and I knew what I wanted to post about.

I've always seen one important difference between entertainers and artists (in all artistic fields). What I'm doing right now with my pen name is entertainment. I'm not trying to make people think. I am not flexing my writing skill. I'm selling people pure escapism. When I work under my real name, it's a different story. I'm trying to get under people's skin, into their heads, make them question and experience and feel things they normally couldn't outside of very specific and short-lived moments in a human life.

I'm not ragging on entertainers, mind you. Like I said, that's what I am right now most of my waking hours. But listening to Beth Hart belt out--and I do mean BELT OUT--a song reminds me of the power behind an artist.

For those of you who don't really know who I'm talking about, Beth Hart hit the mainstream briefly with LA Song (video and everything) off the album Screamin For My Supper. I fell in love with that song as much as anyone, but it's not the best example of what she's really capable of.

So I'm going to post two youtube vids of songs that make me literally shiver and cry when I hear them, for different reasons.

The first video is for the song Skin. Who can't identify with themes of shame and self-debasement (with a strong theme of survival and defiance under that)? My favorite lyrics...listen for these:

For never is my name
Forever in my shame


For never is my name... That's a twist of words that I can just roll around in my head. I'll probably write fiction inspired by that someday.

Here is a live performance of Beth Hart singing Skin:



The second song is Mama, also off Screamin for My Supper. This has been one of my favorite songs since I first heard it, but it took on deeper meaning for me after my mother died suddenly and under difficult circumstances in 2007. I was blessed with a strong, supportive mother, and this song reminds me of her. Plus, dammit, have you ever heard anyone hit notes with the kind of passion and power you hear in this performance at about the 4 minute mark? My favorite lyrics (from two places in the song):

And she'd come to me
When fire and water was gone
To caress the empty with a song

And she comes to me
When there's nothing I believe


To caress the empty... That's a concept I can feel.

Here is a live performance of Mama (girl can perform live!):



So what do you guys think? The closest thing we have to Joplin walking on the earth? You have other singers who can grab you by the spine and shake you hard with the sheer power of their voice and lyrics? Do share.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Writing from the Hinterland

Heya, guys!

Yeah, I know I've been neglecting most of you, but I've been writing and decompressing a tad with video games and running editorial workshops for the writers I'm signing to my small press and editing their first submissions and going to highly scandalous places for research purposes! And drinking LOTS of decaf americanos with non-fat milk.

So before I explain the title of this post, watch this video:



I love the line "I'm at the borderline of my faith. I'm at the hinterland of my devotion." And the horse, and the guys dancing, but that's another matter. The point is I'm kind of out on the edge right now.

I've put aside my fantasy writing even though the story is important to me on levels I can't explain without getting seriously metaphysical. (Stop laughing. I have my metaphysical moments.) Yet I'm on this amazing ride on a runaway horse that's taking me deep into unknown territory, away from my comfort zone and into my hinterland. What a word. Hinterland.

Any writer can tell you about how scary it is to think we might never get published. We might fail. I'm learning it can be more frightening to succeed. It's partly the disbelief after so many years of trying. It's partly about watching my pen name climb the charts and feeling like it happened so fast, surely it could fall apart as quickly. It's partly about the pressure to keep producing, and seeing more success, and feeling oddly defensive that previous successes weren't as big as recent ones. How come that title is doing so well? This other one is really good, too. It should be selling way more.

It's about starting a small press already, because the momentum is there and the writers are there, even though I said I wouldn't consider it until I was able to quit my job to do this writing thing full-time. So I'm still trying to write like a fiend, but I'm also editing and mentoring other writers, and dealing with little business matters while my partner is in Europe for the holidays. What have I gotten myself into?

Any yet...I knew this was coming. Without going into a lot of detail, I'll say it had to do with the shift in attitude and clarity of direction and effort that occurred when one of my closest friends died unexpectedly last September. Within a week, I had adopted the new pen name. Within three weeks, I was publishing under the name. Publishing a LOT, and seeing immediate success. So, yeah, there's that metaphysical aspect rearing its head.

And as if all that won't keep me busy enough, I decided to pass on an anthology opportunity that has since shifted its publication schedule and still wants to see a story from me. And I agreed to get one done. This one would be under my name, so I'll let you guys know if and when it comes out.

Speaking of stories, some of you might have noticed I didn't release fantasy stories as planned, not in November or December. November was just a matter of being snowed under. December was as matter of me reconsidering my options. I've considered putting out the stories for free instead of publishing them. After all, unless I put out regular releases on an aggressive schedule, these stories aren't going to have any visibility anyway. I've also considered waiting until I'm ready to put out the first few Colbie Moss novels and releasing them then. I'm still undecided. Hence, no new fantasy releases for now.

So, that is what's going on with me. Listening to Sade and sipping decaf americano from my new vantage point in the hinterland, on my grand adventure. What's up with you guys? What are you listening to? Got a song to recommend to me? A movie? I love movies. No time for reading or watching TV, but I can somehow always make time for a movie.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Back from NaNoWriMo

Greetings, wary travelers. I know it’s supposed to be weary travelers, but this is Unsafe Haven. Wary is appropriate.

I have a hodge-podge post for you today.

National Novel Writing Month is over…for the vast majority of writers. In December, I’m trying to keep the words flowing. Meaning I will still be fairly scarce on the forums and Twitter and my favorite blogs. Feel free to email me if you need me.

I did not live up to my promise to release a fantasy or urban fantasy story in November, mostly because I was so busy writing that it was suddenly the end of the month, and I hadn’t commissioned a cover. I’ll try to remedy that in December and figure out where to slip in the extra release so that I don’t miss the intended release date for the collection I’m planning for February of 2012.

Fair warning: the pen name project is still growing like Cartman’s Trapper Keeper, so that has to be my priority for awhile. To further complicate matters, I’m launching a small press months (if not years) earlier than I had intended. There’s just way too much interest to let it wait.

My approach to Unsafe Haven is also going to change a bit. When it comes right down to it, I’m not blogging here to sell you books. I’m here to have some fun and chat about my projects and maybe share some snippets and post Youtube videos of my favorite new music or anything else I think is cool. So, basically, Unsafe Haven has just become my living room. Not my social platform. Not a branding tool. But a place for people to come visit me and have a decaf Americano and find out if I’m listening to or reading anything good and what cool Norse myth I’m currently toying with for the norn series.

I’m also open to suggestions. This is an "exploring my blog identity" period.

Today I shall end with a gritty garage rock song that never should have been allowed on a Twilight soundtrack. They used something like four or five seconds of it in the train wreck called New Moon. Waste of a good song.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#amwriting



Many thanks to my writing sister, Sommer Leigh at Tell Great Stories, for designing these freaking awesome badges for those of us busy writing during National Novel Writing Month.

See you all soon!