In my less-than-famous opinion

Before this continues, I want to point out that this isn’t today’s installment towards One Hundred Days of Blogging 2.0, which should sound a touch insane as that means I’m deliberately making it a point to force myself to write two posts today. Few people have accused me of having particularly good ideas, however, so this makes sense. Moving along.

Actually, I lied. I think I will use this for today’s post and follow with the other, thematically appropriate idea anyway. Not sorry.

Something I can state as purely fact, with neither pride nor disappointment, is that I haven’t really read much of A Song of Ice and Fire. I usually hit a point in Game of Thrones where, despite loving fantasy novels and having read other titanic titles such as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (plus The Hobbit, before it became a trilogy), I become so supremely bored that reading another page borders on self-inflicted torture. There are plenty of people I know who absolutely love George R.R. Martin’s behemoth heptalogy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The point I’m meandering toward here is that the most common complaint I hear from these A Song of Ice and Fire fans is that Martin is writing too slowly. That he’ll probably die before he finishes the series, given his advanced age and larger-than-average stature. Fans of Robert Jordan’s works who also enjoy A Song of Ice and Fire are probably already bracing for the worst. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the Game of Thrones series on HBO having a strong chance of completing the series before the books can.

These criticisms aren’t exactly isolated, and apparently they aren’t welcomed by George R.R. Martin, especially those regarding his death.

Pictured: George R.R. Martin's response to suggestions he'll die before his books are finished. Or one very angry Santa Claus.

Pictured: George R.R. Martin’s response to suggestions he’ll die before his books are finished. Or one very angry Santa Claus.

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Become your own hero

And other one-sentence platitudes straight from the School of Shallow-Thinking Drivel-Poop.

I jest.

A very big influence in my writing, which is the same very big thing that can be applied to most any artist and their works, is the works of authors I hold in very high regard. Pratchett, Gaiman, Moore, and so on. People who have written works (books, short stories, and anything else) that have left me wanting to create something just as amazing as what I’d just read. Writing with words blended in such a masterful way that I just had to sit down and get to my own creative processes. This is both a wonderful and treacherous thing as it makes creating a balancing act.

On one hand it would be very easy to follow in the footsteps of one or more of the previously mentioned writers, borrowing bits and pieces of their styles and voices as it suited me. I imagine, with the right level of effort and patience, such writing could yield a very strong end result that would read almost entirely (but not quite) like a work of my own hard labors. Continue reading

Exploring the bourbon part of @SnarkAndBourbon

It all started one Easter weekend at a family gathering. The poison in question? An ancient, perhaps somewhat dodgy bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 that has been residing in the garage. After some coercing from my cousin, I did a shot of the stuff (on the basis that my sister’s boyfriend also did the same). I had no idea what to expect, but I still remember the vaguely smoke-flavored inferno that followed. My stomach didn’t seem particularly keen at first, but it accepted the odd intruder as it settled with the odd blend of various dishes I’d enjoyed for dinner. It was that Easter I swore I would never drink Jack Daniel’s again. Just wasn’t for me, I thought.

Anyone who knows my drinking habits, which have shifted and changed from my choosing to not really drink until after I’d turned twenty-two to my occasional drink (and my social drinking among friends, as witnessed during my last hoorah in Chicago recently), probably can vouch that a number of Jack Daniel’s products have become staples in my collection. I’m still not particularly fond of Old No. 7, but when I’m in the mood to celebrate I have no problem shelling out the necessary moolah for a bottle of Single Barrel Select.

Or social drinking before vacation, complete with best friend screwing around on his phone.

Or social drinking before vacation, complete with best friend screwing around on his phone.

Before I go on, I should point out how I really wanted to try Jack Daniel’s thanks to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. For those of you who haven’t read it, correct that immediately. However, it was the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday’s drink of choice. When I pictured Mr. Wednesday drinking it, however, it was a full pint glass of the stuff. I can’t quite imagine anyone consuming the stuff that way now; to each their own, though.

My non-drinking gradually shifted after I had arrived in Edinboro. People wanted to hang out with me, and bars were a pretty ideal location. I, however, had very limited knowledge of mixed drinks at the time. I spent more time than I probably should have wondering about what the hell people ordered at bars. The good news: I had enough sense to keep it simple. This wasn’t going out clubbing; it was a college town bar (I mean no offense to The Empty Keg, of course, as it became my local haunt before I graduated), and that meant keeping things relatively simple. Not the sort of place that ordering a Manhattan would go over well. After a bit of thinking back to drinks I’d heard of, I blurted out an order for a whiskey sour. Since then I’ve been told how that’s an old-person’s drink, but I have no problem with that. Terrific stuff.

Eventually, and gradually, I started to try new whiskies and bourbons. At first they were purely used as mixers. It was usually whiskey and Coke or Pepsi. At one point I ended up trying Seagram’s 7 Dark Honey mixed with sweet tea. I can’t remember exactly when (insert joke about booze and memory here), but I started trying whiskeys and boubons on the rocks or straight up. I lack a sophisticated sense of taste in that I don’t necessarily pick up on all of the hints and notes of different tastes (sorry, Tullamore DEW, but your product is about the same as most others and I enjoy it all the same). My sister eventually bought me whiskey stones so I could enjoy chilled, undiluted whiskey and bourbon. The rest is just sort of history from there.

I like to make sure I branch out and try more than the few that I know I like, even if it can be a bit risky. Now…I could do a whole post on the Snark part of @SnarkAndBourbon, but lucky for everyone I’m…distracted by World of Warcraft. Ahem.

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day 42

I’m starting my morning off by enjoying a bowl of cereal while I read through the Spam comments that Phil’s Misadventures in Fiction has accrued recently. It’s oddly entertaining, although the spammers certainly do have nice things to say about my posts. Even if some of those kind words don’t really make a lot of sense from a grammatical standpoint.

Speaking of kind words: the professor I sent Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King off to got back to me with his critique today. It’s not something I feel should be shared in its entirety on here, but I do have to say seeing the phrases “I thoroughly enjoyed it” and “you have great characters” really put a stupid grin on my face.

Meowiarty is hanging out with me while I type this, as he sat at my bedroom door and meowed until I let him in. He may be a touch spoiled, I’m willing to concede, but he behaves like a dog enough and I miss having dogs around…so by that reasoning it should be okay that he’s in here. Probably. I’ll remind myself of that when I’m cleaning cat hair out of my PC’s tower.

Naturally, today’s post will involve 42 in a way. Hopefully not too predictable a way, but we’ll see. Continue reading

The horror of meeting your heroes

Or “This is a second post in less than a day because I feel guilty for putting these posts off”.

My last post may have been a little self-indulgent, and I’m okay with that. Now back to things to do with writing. I have my fair share of people I consider heroes. I’m not just talking celebrities, by the way, though there will be a fair few of those mentioned here (hence the title). The people who have succeeded in accomplishing things I fear I could only manage in my wildest dreams. Their works and success are driving factors in my own writing, as I want to eventually reach an audience through publication. I’m not saying, by any means, I think I’ll ever reach such tremendous audiences as, say, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, Terry Pratchett, or Douglas Adams (to name only a few).

However, as much as I love to read their works and enjoy them as these sorts of pillars of an art I hold in the highest regards, I think I would probably have a severe mental breakdown of sorts if I ever met one of them. It’s a very weird concept to me, and a very real fear with my occasional trips to conventions (far less now than when I was younger).

Meeting my heroes is terrifying to me because these are people who have done these amazing, fantastic things, and so I can’t help but feel like a mote of dust by comparison. I acknowledge, and accept, that this is a completely ridiculous line of thinking, and it’s worse because it’s not limited to the heroes I have who I’ve never met. People like Onezumi and Harknell, the founders of Interventioncon and personal heroes of mine, are easy to talk to and wonderful overall. I still get a bit anxious around them. Ridiculous! But it’s one of those things where it’s a matter of wanting to not look like such a failure by comparison, where these people are absolute rock stars of what they do.

And then there’s the fear of building them up so much only to be disappointed with what I meet. I realize that may be a bit shocking, especially after the last paragraph. This bit applies to the heroes I’ve not met as opposed to the ones I know. I can honestly say I would probably weep if I met Neil Gaiman (or Terry Pratchett or Christopher Moore). These are people whose books have treasured spots in my library and have made me want to become a better writer. I want to create amazing worlds, filled with all sorts of diverse and terrific characters, and it’s because of these authors. However, there’s always the small problem that the work doesn’t equal the person and so I could very well be setting myself up for disappointment.

Let me end with a couple questions: how do you, dear readers, feel about meeting your heroes? Who do you idolize, and why? How quickly would you melt into a puddle of fanatical goo if you met one of those heroes?

This Week in Misadventures

Or “This week in not really accomplishing a whole lot.”

I’ve got plenty of inner turmoil going on right now in regards to writing (I almost put “write now” by complete accident, and the self-loathing I feel is incredible). Joshua’s Nightmares, book one, is still hanging out on my laptop. It’s just kind of sitting there presently, a nearly three hundred page blob of potential that’s got nowhere to go just yet, and it’s a little vexing. Maybe a lot vexing. A lottle vexing? If I ever use that word again, someone please call me out on it in the comments because that’s just awful.

My conundrum is now the mix of “I have no idea how publishing works and how do I reach out to publishers to try getting this published” versus “Is self-publishing really so bad in this case or is it really just lazy, quick self-gratification”. Both of those thoughts have effectively prevented me from actually accomplishing much (we’ll get to what I did accomplish this week, which is a whole lot of nothing, shortly). If nothing else, I’ve reached a point where I would just like to make this story available for other people to enjoy (or hate, to be fair, because even if someone hates it they still ended up having to read a bit of it, and that’s okay with me). However, I also know that self-publishing is still sort of looked down upon these days, and I’d rather not be burned as a heretic or whatever actual, legitimate authors do to self-published sorts. Continue reading

The magic in The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I’ve found myself dwelling on Neil Gaiman’s novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane a fair bit lately. It became, very quickly, my favorite of his novels, as evidenced by such things as me calling it a treasure. After much pining over the deluxe edition, and many thanks to my mother (who does far more for me than I could ever hope to repay in anywhere less than a dozen lifetimes), I now sit waiting for its arrival. No single word or phrase seems adequate to describe the levels of excitement and anticipation, or the joy and disbelief, I’m experiencing over this as I impatiently await its arrival. My first edition of the American hardcover release, however, will continue to remain one of my most cherished books (I loaned it out earlier today, issuing a death threat should it return in less-than-perfect condition). I’ve thrown in a picture, because I honestly just love everything about this book (the picture’s on Instagram, which I’m learning does not like to share).

In many ways, The Ocean at the End of the Lane has gone from being a novel I loved reading to a sort of magic. To those who haven’t yet read it, I cannot recommend a fiction novel more highly than I do this one. There are some biases at work there, perhaps, but I stand firm in that assessment. To that end, I can’t help but wonder what about this particular novel really captured my heart (forgive the cliche, please). Yes, it’s beautifully written, with wonderful characters and a narrative that swept me up to such a degree I had to set the book down and focus on nothing else but accepting I had finished reading it once I’d completed the last page, but that wasn’t quite it. Tonight, in one of my more introspective moments, I think I’ve pinpointed at least a little of the magic of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and I’m content it’s only a little. Too much understanding, I’ve learned, can spoil this sort of thing. Continue reading