T’is the Season

NaNoWriMo is now well behind me, and I successfully won another year (it only cost me quite a few days of sleep-deprivation at work, but I’m honestly pleased with the bulk of the draft it yielded). Christmas is less than a week away, which would be concerning if I hadn’t managed to successfully behave like an adult and get shopping out of the way ahead of time for a change. As the end of the year rapidly approaches, whether I’m ready for it or not (and, honestly, despite how good 2017 has been on a personal level I am all about those sweet, sweet 2018 mid-term elections and several other, exciting things I’ll get to later).

This post is a sort-of recap of my year since the last posts I made, a loudly-stated-because-it’s-on-the-intenet commitment to getting off of my ass so as to work harder towards getting more things published (self-published as well), and a return to WordPress…because I renewed my damn domain name, so I may as well make use of it. (Fun story: I had to open a new tab and verify this, because I honestly could not remember if I did or not.) Onward!

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(Pity) Party’s Over

Real talk, brought to you in part thanks to having a serious, much-needed discussion with the lovely lady in my life.

One day, I dream of being a moderately well-known published author, with at least one work available for sale at Barnes & Noble. I’m aware that this may seem, or in fact may be, shallow. The big, shiny, and seemingly-unattainable goal: to write for a living, or at least make some of my living from writing.

Here’s the real talk: I need to stop being so down and out about making a living from my writing, convincing myself it’s never going to happen, and double up my efforts on making it happen. That means I need to stop comparing myself to established authors. I need to stop looking at my peers and feeling like a failure by comparison. (You guys keep doing you, though; awesome work all around.)

I need to stop whining and making excuses. I am most certainly far too guilty of doing both of those things.

Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King happened at a breakneck pace not because of the job I worked providing me with time to write nor the fact that I had a specific publishing goal in mind. It happened because I said I was going to write, and then I wrote. Constantly, and without concerns for what I would one day do with that book.

And so I will write.

A gradual journey to a new normalcy

Some of you folks may be wondering where the Hell I’ve been. May was, of course, my month-long hiatus from Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress, and it was definitely a learning experience. And then I didn’t blog for the entire month of June, which was a bit less intentional. Plenty of events transpired between the last post and this one; the world continued turning, people kept writing, and life went on (and I have so much to catch up on in my subscriptions that it actually gives me a headache thinking about it).

This post will be about the good, the bad, and the ugly, but not necessarily in that order. Don’t worry, though. A lot of this will be shortened up for everyone’s sake. Plus, really, the good outweighs the bad. It’s a lot more enjoyable to read the good stuff.

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Christmas Cheer/Pox

It’s now officially Christmas day and I still have all the eagerness of my much-younger self when it comes to presents. The key difference now is I am very excited to share something special, carefully selected after a mix of gift-hunting and procrastination, in hopes I make at least one person’s Christmas a little brighter.

Unfortunately, the only thing roasting on an open fire seems to be this writer. I’m fairly certain I have a case of the Christmas Pox, complete with fever, aches, and a generally bah humbug sensibility. Fret not, as I am at least fighting that last symptom tooth-and-nail as I refuse to bring down the mood today. 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.

A day of recovery

I’m going to focus largely on the good here, as today was actually an excrement sandwich sprinkled with shards of broken glass and used hypodermic needles of questionable origin. There may be a touch of hyperbole there, but to be fair I also just realized my next post-vacation day off is fourteen days away from when my vacation occurred (with some of those days involving multiple shifts). It makes me tired to even think about it, so I’m going to shift my focus elsewhere.

The stuff – After work, I headed over to Walmart to pick up some ingredients for dinner. I had no actual game-plan in mind, but I figured I could probably mange to make something relatively edible without too much effort. Keeping in mind I didn’t want to do more of the usual, I picked up some chicken (off to a poor start on avoiding the usual) and I wandered around a bit. The end result was I bought some yellow and orange bell peppers, some sugar snap peas, and some baby carrots (which didn’t end up in the dish anyway). I wasn’t quite sure how I’d prepare the chicken until I walked by a display of dressings and spotted a bottle of raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. The dressing, which I’m not ashamed to say I’m actually too lazy to type out repeatedly, ended up being a marinade for the chicken. Tossed it in a bag and let it hang out in the fridge for a bit while I took a nap. Brianne had a very busy day with a doctor’s appointment followed by work followed by one of her grad courses, so I had some time between thinking up dinner and making the actual meal.

Bragging that isn’t really bragging – I managed to get into a Looking For Raid iteration of The Dread Approach after minimal waiting. I was probably one of the lowest DPS players in there, but I also managed to not die. Something about half of the people in our raid couldn’t say about themselves, unfortunately, as people seemed pretty intent on standing in the fire whenever possible. This was my first time really doing any raiding in Mists of Pandaria (ignoring that I did get into an LFR group right at Sha of Fear last week; that was fun). I nabbed a good few pieces of gear and generally enjoyed myself. The best part, however, was that my queue for Terrace of Endless Spring popped right after I completed The Dread Approach. As I’ve not gotten anywhere in my Legendary cloak questing, I was pretty happy to get to 4 of each…er, Mark I guess. Marks of Wisdom and Power? I’m not looking it up. The point is I got to kill things I’ve never killed before, and if that’s not what raiding is all about then I must be doing it wrong. Note to self: I still need to try my hand at getting the other Thunderfury binding before next Tuesday (damn it).

Dinner turned out really well. It’s Brianne-approved, so that’s a plus. It was absolutely awful to look at, but it was a nice and healthy sweet meal I’ll have to try my hand at making again soon.

The best part of tonight is that I feel pretty rejuvenated. It’s a bit surprising, actually, as I ended work and shopping feeling very stressed out. A lot of it is a matter of accepting things that aren’t presently within my control and moving along with the things I can handle in the present (shocking, I know). The nap certainly didn’t hurt.

In closing – Here’s wishing everyone a relatively insanity-free next fourteen days, and in doing so sending the same wishes to myself. Victory is just ahead, right?

The Old Castle on Meridan Street

This short story was, in some way or another, a-brewin’ in the depths of my brain, and possibly somewhere deep down in that little, cranky dark place I occasionally refer to as my heart. My recent trip home for Easter, a short story my friend Lindsey had me read, and my own recent reflecting on the Pittsburgh area were apparently the necessary catalysts to bring this out.

I’ve not seen my grandmother’s house since the last time my family was there to pack things up and move her in with us. A lovely family moved in, and apparently it’s changed quite a bit. There’s something about that I can’t actually cope with, so I’ve stayed away.

Anyway, I’ll stop lollygagging and get to the important part: the story, which is titled “The Old Castle on Meridan Street”. This story took several emotionally-draining hours to write, and it made me feel a curious mix of nostalgic joy and sadness. I hope it translated into some good writing. Enjoy, and feel free to share similar locations from your past that have left permanent impressions on your heart in the comments.

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