A rather sad changing of the guard

Or “I have a dozen other things to be doing, but this is a mental health day and I’m making my way through it on my own damn terms.”

Yesterday was not a particularly good day for me, and I’ll spare the details because this is where I write about writing, and sometimes other artsy things that catch my eye. Maybe other odds and ends here and there. I will say that I am woefully behind where I’d like to be with Warpt Factor, and I largely blame the dreary gloom that’s settled in both in terms of weather and my moods. I apologize for that much because it’s been fun to write, and I certainly hope it’s been fun to read so far.

My Dell Studio laptop, named Satellite 5 (because Doctor Who, of course), blue-screened on me a couple times recently. Upon rebooting my nearly four-year-old laptop, it gave a different reason for the fatal errors, but none of them were particularly good or easily fixable. This is all particularly upsetting because Satellite 5 has been my trusty companion through much of my most difficult academic writing, as well as some of the hardest, best work I’ve done on my fiction. It’s what I used to make many–most, in fact–of the posts on Misadventures In Fiction, and it’s the computer from which this site was started. Needless to say, it’s with a heavy heart that I’ve decided it’s time to give Satellite 5 some much-needed rest. It’ll certainly see use, still, but not so much with its nearly useless battery, its replaced charger, and so on. Continue reading

New (and maybe improved?) header image

Or “I wanted to make something neat to go with the new layout, but I’m not particularly talented at taking pictures and also only have my phone for such things.”

I’m a bit iffy on how I feel about it, but I figured notebooks would be the way to go (and I also have a billion of the damn things in all shapes and sizes). I added in one of my pocket watches and a paper crane I made for kicks and giggles, and I’m relatively happy with how it turned out overall.

The only real pain in the ass I ran into was the white text, and the sizing of the sub-title’s font. Beyond that, I’m going to make a note here: huge success (as well as a Portal reference successfully thrown in there for good measure). Thoughts?

Also, I ended up taking pictures of Meowiarty, too, because he seems to think he’s a model.

Edit/Update:

Here’s a fun bit of mostly-worthless knowledge: I’ve got mostly Moleskine notebooks. I blame one particular Edinboro English professor for this. They are, and remain, my favorite brand of notebook, if only because I’m very fond of the travel-sized ones.

Progress report on Joshua’s Nightmares

Or “I’m pretty damn excited because I’ve been writing all weekend, and this is the most I’ve enjoyed working on a project in a long, long time.”

Tonight, mere moments ago, Joshua’s Nightmares broke the 30,000 words mark. It’s on it’s forty-sixth page, and still has a ways to go before it’s completed. Most importantly, I’m loving every second of it.

I’d also like to extend my thanks to all of my followers. WordPress tells me I hit one hundred followers, and that’s also pretty amazing news. Thank you to everyone who has stuck around and kept reading. You’re all fantastic.

This post feels a bit naked without my standard, rambling prose, and so I’ll end it with this beautiful piece of music from the game Puppeteer (a game truly worth purchasing for its compelling narrative, beautiful art style, and amazing music).

Help my friend realize her dream

I went back and forth on this a bit, and then I decided I’m going to write a post for it afterall.  My friend, and former college roommate (who has, no doubt, wanted to kill me at one point or another, which is perfectly all right because in the time I lived with her I assure you all the desire for homicide was mutual), Brittany Barnabei, dreams of becoming a voice actor.  It’s a goal I once held, believe it or not, and I honestly think it’s a pretty terrific one to have.  The really cool thing is she has a chance to make tremendous strides toward that goal by going to France to meet people in the field of voice acting.  I can also say, with certainty, I know she would go out on a limb for me like this if our situations were reversed, and so I present the following link to her GoFundMe page.  I realize that’s a lofty request, asking for donations.

I’ve known Brittany from before High School, which feels like decades ago now (even though it’s not, thankfully), and she has always been very passionate about acting.  She is a very talented individual, and she deserves a chance to realize her dreams just like anyone else does.  This gives you, dear readers, a chance to be a part in her making her dreams come true.  If possible, please donate even a little to this endeavor.  Donations don’t have to be money, of course.  Or just give a moment to share the link so others may see it and have the chance to support her cause.  Spread the word, give generously, and please help make my friend’s dream come true.

After all, it’s these dreams that keep so many of us going, and it would be absolutely wonderful to see someone like Brittany be able to achieve what she’s been working so hard towards for so long.

http://www.gofundme.com/6ko3wo

A little soul music to get you through the (extremely) cold weather

It’s the dead of winter.  It’s really freaking cold out.  The North Pole is apparently outsourcing all of its bitter, frigid misery-inducing air to the United States.  I can honestly say even thinking about it just made me feel down in the dumps, and I know thinking about it isn’t doing much for anyone else.

The perfect way to warm your body is, of course, a cup of hot chocolate (or tea) while settled down by a roaring fireplace, but what about warming the soul?  Hot chocolate’s good, but it can only go so far (unless you found a hot chocolate for your soul, in which case I’d like some details e-mailed to me ASAP).  What you need is some high-quality music to warm you through these arctic blasts.  What you need to fend off those herds of homicidal polar bears, who I’m told want to turn you all into people-suits for no real reason, is a copy of Meu Coração Brasileiro.  Naturally, you don’t have to take my word for it.  Let the album notes speak for themselves (which I copied verbatim from CDBaby).

These orignal compositions by veteran jazz educator, composer, and pianist Jeff Kunkel were recorded in Rio de Janeiro in 2011 and 2012. The music demonstrates the composer’s affinity and admiration for the unique musical culture of Brasil, and reflects his love of Bossa Nova, Samba, and MPB. Many were written while Jeff was traveling in Brasil, and are strongly influenced by the places, people, and music encountered there. Featured on the recording along with Jeff are some of the finest musicians on the Rio scene, including the legendary Mauro Senise (flute, saxophone), Vika Barcellos (vocals), Alex Rocha (bass), co-producer Haroldo Mauro Jr. (drums), José Arimatéa (trumpet), Mariana Bernardes (vocals), and Fernando Corona (background vocals). Two of the songs feature the Portuguese lyrics of Ms. Barcellos and Mr. Corona, and two others feature the English lyrics of Jeff’s American colleague Holli Ross.

Jeff Kunkel is an entirely remarkable person, and an extremely talented musician.  Not only is his CD, Meu Coração Brasileiro, loaded with fantastic, reasonably-priced music, but it can also lend to the illusion you have some culture.  No one believes you’ve read that dusty copy of War and Peace sitting on your desk.

Meu Coração Brasileiro is available through CDBaby, Amazon, and iTunes, and by buying a copy you are supporting independent artists doing what they love.  When you support independent artists in doing what they love, they can keep producing art which can make you happier, reduce your stress, and generally do good things for your day (reduced stress is probably connected to a lower likelihood of murdering someone).  Warm your soul through this awful weather with some good music.  You won’t regret it.

In hopes of forging new habits

Or “Help, I’m Experiencing a Horrible, Painful Book Hangover.”

I was planning this blog entry for earlier, and by earlier I don’t mean earlier today so much as some point yesterday.  Then I worked for ten hours, which transformed me into a three-toed sloth with a strong, overwhelming need to loaf about the couch.  I had also wanted to come up with a really witty title about having a sizable, ever-growing backlog of books (that didn’t pan out anyway, because the best I could come up with was “book-log”, and that sounds like toilet humor).

The three new habits I hope to form this year, which aren’t to be mistaken for New Year’s resolutions because, as mentioned in my last entry, I don’t usually handle those well are as follows:

  1. Read, even if only a little, every day
  2. Write, even if only a little, every day
  3. Write a journal entry every day before bed

The first one is actually what waylaid me from making an entry earlier.  Instead of writing about how I have a backlog of books to read, and how I already have some titles I want to add to my library (I’m looking at you, “Vampires in the Lemon Grove“), I ended up reading the two-hundred-some pages of “Dreams and Shadows” I had left (and hadn’t gotten around to for the past couple months, which is a shame because it’s a fantastic book).  Since a bit before my last year of college, I noticed I’d been making less and less time for reading.  Not for lack of wanting to read, and not for using the time for video games or other means of entertainment.  At some point, reading began happening less.  Yes, I realize there was probably an actual, underlying reason for that.  Since I genuinely enjoy reading, and I like to claim I’m a writer (though there is limited proof of this), I feel like I need to get back to reading, and reading often.  The intense feeling of sadness I have from finishing “Dreams and Shadows”, which I referred to above as a book hangover (if you don’t think that’s a great term, you need to reevaluate everything about your life because it is a great term) is something I’ve missed.  Falling deep into another world for hours on end is something I’ve missed even more.  And, of course, those new books I received for Christmas aren’t going to read themselves.

The second habit I intend on getting into will be a bit more difficult for me, but it’s one I need (emphasis on need over want) to get into.  I’m a writer, damn it.  I should start behaving more like one.  My schedule with my nine-to-five job, which is almost never actually 9a.m. to 5p.m. usually leaves me more ready for extended periods of sleep.  That being said, my notebook for “Joshua’s Nightmares” has been sitting out in places where it can make me feel guilty, and I acknowledge how awkward it would be if all of these lovely notebooks I have were to continue to remain blank.

Thirdly, and feeling a bit like a simple variation of the previous habit I hope to build over the course of this year, I want to start keeping a journal daily.  My all-around wonderful sister got me a TARDIS notebook this past Christmas, and I’ve been thinking about what to occupy its pages with.  A couple days ago, for whatever reason, the idea of starting a journal popped into my head.  The idea of journaling then proceeded to buy prime real estate in my head, where it built a tiny, but cozy, cottage, unpack all of its things, and refuse any notions of eviction.  I’m the sort of person who tends to worry a fair bit (read as “I’m a ball of anxiety on a regular basis”), so I thought it couldn’t hurt to have another outlet for what’s on my mind (without polluting Misadventures in Fiction with it).  It’s also a great way to make sure I do at least a little writing every day, though that one pertains more specifically to writing of a creative nature.

Anyone else working to form new or stronger habits, creative or otherwise, and feel like sharing them?  Post ’em in the comments.

And now, in line with all this positive-thinking, new-habit-forming business, I believe it’s time to write a journal entry.

New Year’s Resurrections

Happy New Year, everyone.  If you’re still feeling the after-effects of your New Year’s celebration, you should contact a doctor.  And Guinness World Records, because that’s one truly impressive hangover in terms of endurance.

I’m subscribing to the no-New-Year’s-resolution-here school of thought this year, because my New Year’s resolutions never really stuck in that they didn’t exist a lot of years.  Honestly, I can’t remember half of them.  Okay.  More than half of them.  I don’t remember most of my resolutions.  Moving along.  The short version is I’m going to take 2014 and give it a chance to not be 2013, because that guy was a real asshat.  I’m going to make sure, one way or another, I have a kickass year in 2014.  2014 knows I’m willing to resort to outrageous, cartoonish physical violence to keep it in line (that calender will never know what hit it).

More writing must happen!  My notebook featuring the Joshua’s Nightmares notes keeps reminding me I’ve been a lazy little shit.  Motivation would elude me here.  Sleepiness would creep up on me there.  Did I mention laziness?  The point is I’m going to work harder on being a self-motivated, strong writer who actually writes.  My wealth of notebooks need the appropriate level of love, and I’ve got enough tea to accompany about a thousand years worth of writing.  I wish that were an exaggeration.  I’ve got tea knocking the tea off of my cabinets because its being displaced by other tea.  And whiskey.

Naturally, I work bright and early tomorrow, but I promise more regular updates, some short stories here and there, and better efforts at getting things published because I need to actually make those efforts if I ever hope to accomplish anything as a writer.

Once again, I wish you all a happy, healthy, and, yes, belated New Year.  I only feel a little guilty for it being this late because it’s already crossed the social threshold from “what a thoughtful sentiment” to “well-wishes from someone who clearly spent the start of the year hiding out in some Doomsday-proof bunker”.

Taking a moment to give thanks

I could go on for hours, easily, about how much I cannot stand the abrupt transition from Halloween to Christmas.  It’s partially a selfish thing, as my birthday falls around Thanksgiving (and yes, occasionally, on Thanksgiving).  Black Friday, shopping at all hours, and getting every new gadget and whatsit on the market before everyone else has become such an important thing, and something about that has come to bother me to such a degree that even just typing about it twists my stomach up a bit.  Yes, this is coming from someone who had waited in line in hopes of getting a Nintento Wii years back.

Moving along.  I’ve done my fair share of bitching and moaning this year.  It has certainly been a year of stress and loss, and I have had days when all I wanted to do was cover the windows to get that dark-as-midnight kind of darkness in my room, pull the covers around me nice and tight, and not deal with anything.  I am still grieving over losing Missy earlier this summer, and now I’ve got to deal with Mackenzie, one of my family’s other dogs, passing away recently.

I mention these things because I have so much to be thankful for.  This might get to sounding a little preachy at times.  Not intentionally, of course, but this veers away from my usual writing to a point where it might do things it wasn’t meant to.

As I was saying, I have so much to be thankful for.  Not just the good things in my life, mind you, but the bad ones as well.  Without the bad things, I could perhaps lose sight of just how good the good things in my life really are, and that would be a real shame I think.

I am thankful for having such a strong support system; for a family that supports me through everything, even though I can be a bit much to deal with at times with the snark and sarcasm.  I am equally thankful for Brianne’s family (and, of course, Brianne as well) being so good to me, since living two hours away from everything I knew all my life can be a bit terrifying at times.  I am thankful for my two cats and my dog back home with my family, even though I am still so lost without Missy and Mackenzie (who were, beyond any doubt, two of the greatest dogs in the history of all existence as far as I am concerned).

I am thankful for my friends who are always there for me, when I’m at my best or when I’m at my worst, because they’re the people I know I can always count on.  I’m just as thankful for my friends who haven’t always been there for me, because they’ve reminded me of the importance of being able to stand on my own at times.  Life beyond college has proved to be such a tricky beast, and the things it has shown me about people have been rather eye-opening.

I am thankful for the job I have, and the pay and benefits it provides me with, because it has made it possible for me to move out and start to work on becoming a proper, responsible adult (I mean, as responsible as I can possibly be).  I’m truly thankful for the people I met because of this job, or gotten to know better because of it, because they’re all right in their own rights.  I’m also thankful for the hardships it has put me through, because I’m still here after dealing with them.  Even if a lot of the work-stress has been caused by avoidable situations.

The list could go on and on, really.  Just remember, whether you’re gunning for a new XBOX One, a tremendous flatscreen that would look perfect in your man-cave, or whatever, to take a moment–at the very least, a moment–to be thankful.  If I’ve learned nothing else from this past year, it’s how life is far too short, and so many things that seem like they will be there forever tend to go away much, much too soon.

More importantly, I’d like to wish an early, but very happy, healthy Thanksgiving to everyone out there in the vastness of the Internet.  I hope you all have time to stuff yourselves with delicious food, and spend quality time with family.

A bit of writing laryngitis

Or “How I seem to occasionally misplace my voice”.

I have some very bad writing habits.  That’s to say I’m still figuring out what constitutes good writing habits, since there are so many different opinions on the subject.  Not writing regularly, mind you, is certainly not a good writing habit by any  means.  It’s something I’ve not done nearly as regularly as I would like since I graduated from college.  Because of that, I’ve noticed something when I do get around to writing.  It’s one of those creeping realizations that sneaked up and slapped me good and hard upside my (admittedly, at times, somewhat dense head).

I’m losing my voice.

One of the things stressed by a number of my writing professors (or, at the very least, by a number of professors I took seriously and respected a great deal) was the importance of writing often so as to establish and preserve one’s writing voice.  Mine’s changed a great deal from early high school writings, where the strongest tool I had at my disposal was the ability to completely bullshit a persuasive essay with the standard distanced voice high school papers seemed to call for.

The last post, for instance, didn’t quite feel right.  There was something about it that registered, for me at least, as the croaky gasps I’m stuck trying to use to convey my thoughts when I’m losing my voice.  I had gotten accustomed to having a certain ease with writing with my relatively relaxed, somewhat snarky, tone, adding in parenthetical asides here and there as they felt necessary.  The writing, itself, isn’t any more or less difficult; I just seem more prone to distractions and letting the big, bad world of real life push my writing to the backburner.  And then off of the stove completely.  On a similar note, having a small cat walk across the keyboard, only stepping on the WiFi toggle button, is very distracting indeed.

I was honestly going somewhere with this, but then the magical process of me opening Microsoft Word and getting to work happened.

Don’t drink the water (and other recent events)

I’m doing that thing again where I try too hard to compel myself to write, only to become frustrated with the efforts I make.  I end up shutting down as a result.  This revelation brought to you by the on-again, off-again functionality of my left Shift key, which has seen more than its fair share of use in college writing.  Good old Satellite 5 (why yes, my computer is named in reference to something from Doctor Who).  More on the writing stuff in a couple of paragraphs.  A pair o’ paragraphs?  A herd of the written word?  I’m not sorry, but I’ll stop.  For now.

This has been a strange month, with more parts frustrating than good.  The sighs of relief were, by and large, outnumbered by the groans of frustration, and I have taken so many trips to my Happy Place (to those of you in the know: no, it does not involve a place where I go to set fire to my enemies, thank you very much) I’ve taken up dual citizenship.  My car was deemed totaled, and then through the good graces and unending kindness of my parents it was replaced (I got their car, they got a new car, and everyone but the environment won out I suppose).  There were two instances in which I was double-charged in a way that left my bank account missing at least $200.  Not many people I know are all right with that kind of money just floating about in Limbo, and I am not such a person.  Those problems were, in time, reversed.  Most importantly, or at least I’d like to think, I’ve taken the pile of good things and bad things this month has provided me with and understood that the bad things didn’t make the good ones any less good, and the good didn’t make the bad any less significant.  More Doctor Who references.

My household also welcomed a second kitten, now named Meowiarty.  He’s an extremely affectionate little kitty who moves with the speed of lightning and all the grace of someone who is about ten beers past their limit (read as: lots of magical moments featuring little M headbutting walls).  I mention his speed, specifically, because his ability to suddenly be places he hadn’t been moments before resulted in nearly getting shut in the fridge today.  He is also co-authoring this post, sporadically running across the keyboard.  That’s totally where the typos are coming from.  Not me at all.  Probably.
Speaking of authoring and co-authoring and writing and so on (I’m being lazy with transitions; just go with it, people), my good friend, all-around entertaining guy, horror movie enthusiast, and author of “Beauties in the Deep”, Zachary T. Owen, has asked me to contribute something to what I think is still a super-secret project.  I mean, in hindsight I could’ve always asked him how secret this is, but this is mostly a chance to point out how it’s close to Halloween.  There’s no better treat to give, to others or yourself, than a copy of “Beauties in the Deep”.

Unless you give it to someone who is easily frightened, in which case it’s the perfect trick to play.  Win-win situation, I think. The plan, as of now, is to at least have one short spooky story, minus the alliteration, posted as a Halloween treat.  Or, in the event I don’t deliver, I can always say it was a trick.  Joking.  Only joking.  I can think of a handful of people who wouldn’t let me live such antics down.

Funny enough: I almost forgot to include any explanation for the title, which was part of why this post is happening to begin with.  Drawing upon my half-hearted reporting skills I learned from one semester of hating my life-choices at Point Park University, I will take a moment to relay recent Hollidaysburg news.  Some asshole left what is being called a “vague threat” (note: the quotation marks are crucial, as they appear in most mentions of this “threat”), and so I’ve been advised against using tap water all weekend long.  Something about bomb threats in Hollidaysburg, too, but I feel like any explosions would have to be cleared as historically appropriate so as to not affect Hollidaysburg’s overall historical aesthetic.

It’s about time I wrapped up this collection of comments, or perhaps these meandering musings, since I’ve got to go back to what amounts to herding cats before a vet appointment.