Follow The Ashes – Into the Belly of the Beast

Cas sat on the slab of metal made up to look like a bed by way of paper-thin sheets and stared out into the space beyond the small room. A series of monitors jutted down from the ceiling, hanging just above their corresponding consoles.  The monitors were dark but didn’t appear to be off. Every few minutes, if Cas tilted her head just right, she could see bursts of text shift across the screen.

She stood up and approached the opening to the room, cautious to not step too close. She glanced out into the larger space, and still she saw no one. Continue reading

Cordelia’s – A Short Story

Cordelia’s

by Philip W. Gorski

Simon sat on the queen-sized bed, his apartment recently having become all-too-large now that Evelyn had moved out. His phone continued to make its presence known on the nightstand, its tones and chirps only the finest the factory settings had to offer. Simon’s focus remained on the abandoned engagement ring next to his antique iPhone 4, the text messages piling up pointlessly as his friends tried to convince him of meaningful distractions.

To be fair, his friends had tried their damnedest to help Simon feel at least a little better. Greg succeeded in convincing Simon to see The Monster of Blood Lake XII: Most Bloodiest Revengery, the latest in a series of movie sequels that had long ago stopped taking itself seriously as part of the horror genre. The outing had gone so close to perfect, at least up until Simon spotted Evelyn with her five friends who showed unbridled loathing toward Simon on their best days in his company.

Life had devolved into little more than cookies and cream ice cream and Netflix-binging after that as Simon burned through vacation days and his allotted time to work from home. E-mail reminders from Simon’s all-too-lenient boss about how much of a rock star he is and how they’re there to support him in this difficult time. The standard mourning of a now-dead love life. Continue reading

The Maskmaker’s Apprentice – a short story

Tazio Appiatavo was eager to start the first day of his apprenticeship at his Nonno Angelo’s mask shop, Many Cloaks and Daggers. He had been made to wait until his twelfth birthday, which felt like an eternity. He sat on the shop’s ancient oak front counter, a mug of cocoa in his hands, as he waited for his Nonno to finally make an appearance. Nonno Angelo Appiatavo insisted the shop would fall to pieces if he weren’t near at all times, and so he lived in an apartment on its second floor.

Whenever anyone asked how long Many Cloaks and Daggers had been there, Nonno Angelo would answer very proudly. Continue reading

Phil’s Official Writing Challenge Guidelines

I would have titled this “How to Write In Ways That Will Make You Feel Like Your Soul is Dying”, but I realized that might be a hair melodramatic. Special thanks go to my college pal Andrew Webb for texting me last night with the following texts, as he was inadvertently responsible for this topic.

Phil, I have done a terrible job with writing since I stared working full time, how do you do it?”

I responded by saying I force myself to find time every day to write, even if it’s just a little. If I get stuck working on one thing, I focus on something else. Above all else, it’s important to find time for writing. That resulted in this response:

Do you force yourself to a genre or anything goes including journaling?

My phone had conveniently been switched to Do Not Disturb mode by that point, however, because I had to be awake at 6a.m. and those texts first arrived after 12:30 last night. Feeling somewhat guilty for not answering, and finding this to be a good blogging opportunity, I decided to give a long-form answer in the form of a proper writing challenge anyone can hold themselves to (for the sake of self-destruction, really). Keep in mind that I may be a subject matter expert of sorts, but I am by no means a be-all, end-all source of wisdom on writing and so this is mostly just issuing a challenge to help writing in the same way I’ve been keeping up with my writing. Feel free to adjust it in ways, and let me know what works best for you in the comments below. It can be a sort of note-comparing among creative folks who also like finding their limits and then using those limits to inflict torment upon themselves. I’m joking, mostly.

Also, I really should note how much of a gigantic ego-boost it is to have people asking me advice on writing. Holy shit, folks, that is awesome. Right. Moving on… Continue reading

Sunday, snowy Sunday

While I’m normally one of the first people who make fun of everyone boo-hooing about the cold and snow of winter, especially since I live in Pennsylvania where this shit is so common and unsurprising, I have to say I’m pretty well finished with this snow-and-ice-and-misery business.

I took a nap halfway into that last sentence and forgot what the Hell I was typing. As I often say: in my defense, I shoveled the sidewalk and driveway, and I cleaned off the cars. That counts for something, probably.

Since my goals are more focused on adding to the page count of A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders, I’ll make this quick-ish.

Works in Progress

A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders – 70 pages/11 chapters; about 1/3 of the way complete, give or take

Cordelia’s (short story) – Complete! Working towards submitting it places.

Woman Seeks Vampire for Dinner and a Movie – Still just notes, but with more direction

The Repository of Lost Ideas – Notes, notes, and still more notes.

Interview with a Retired God – Still only a title, with the beginnings of an idea to go with it.

Works On Hold

The Devil Suggested I Do It (novel; working title)

Warpt Factor (the novel)

The Lodgers (novel)

On the plus side, there’s now a lot more in the Works in Progress section than in the On Hold section. That must count as some sort of progress, right? Right? Tonight’s Oscar night, however, so I need to make some more writing happen before then. Oscars night means it’s time to drink and live-tweet my disdain for Hollywood.

Equal parts determination and madness

Or “I’m hitting all of the walls today so I’m going to rant a bit while still being positive about writing”.

Writing, on some days, is a completely magical experience. Those are the days I get completely lost in the words, not focusing on time or making sure I’m eating or anything else. Since becoming the joint-owner of three cats, I’ve gotten used to ignoring the occasional glimpse of cat anus as one of the two cats who don’t hate me will wander between my laptop and my line-of-sight. I lead a magical life.

Other days–days like today, for instance–are less productive. I have an idea of where I want to go with my writing, and then I proceed to flop around without any real progress. It feels like the cartoon depiction of falling down an up escalator, complete with irate people-as-obstacles and all. Days like this make me have serious doubts I could ever become a proper writing-for-a-living sort of writer. They’re not particularly enjoyable days, and I could probably chalk a lot of it up to the hilarious constellation of neuroses I have.

Fortunately for me, I happen to have a tremendous support system of friends and family, a spectacular girlfriend who tolerates my particular brand of crazy that shows up from time-to-time (don’t ask her, though, or she’ll say it’s around all of the time). I acknowledge that goals like being able to write for a living or becoming a best-selling author are lofty, and that’s putting it mildly, but I can also say I will never stop writing. Even on my worst days, I still add at least a couple words to something, or I tweak and adjust something I’ve worked on, because I need to keep at it. I am far from perfect at what I do, as evidenced by the proofread-and-commented copies I get back, but I have my strong points and my weak points. The ultimate goal, above all else, is to continue improving upon the weak points while refining the strong ones.

This post started off as feeling down and out, but I feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the entire world again. I’d throw together a shitty metaphor about feeling victorious, but I’m going to focus on fixing up Cordelia’s as much as I can so it can be that much closer to being publication-ready.

Happy Sunday, folks. I hope you all have a kickass week, devoid of doubts and frustration.

Writing hangovers, and other tragedies

I spent much of today with a strong understanding as to why some animals hibernate. I mean, sleep is pretty fantastic, even though there are plenty of things I could be doing instead of sleeping (like tweeting, obviously). What I’m trying to say is that I’m still very tired from my marathon-writing event to complete Cordelia’s, and so this post is going to be a bit of a mixed bag. There’s also some frustration regarding the lack of new ideas now that one of the short stories is written. Time and patience will hopefully fix that much, even if my patience is a bit iffy at best.

Writing Hangovers

It’s been a while since I’ve really felt a full-on writing hangover. Probably not since I finished working on Joshua Harkin and the Novel-Length Title around this time last year (it was actually in March, but close enough). My brain is semi-willing and eager to make writing happen, but it also wants about a month worth of naps. That being said, I’m still getting a lot of very kind, positive, and helpful feedback for A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders that has me feeling very motivated. Friday is already set aside as an Authonomy and writing catch-up day, so hopefully that goes as planned.

Jon Stewart leaving The Daily Show

God damn it. This, coupled with the end of The Colbert Report, effectively prevents me from ever achieving my dream of being interviewed by Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert (I have delusions of grandeur, but even my delusions are smart enough to know I’ll never be interviewed by Stephen Colbert at his new show…whatever that thing’s called). More importantly, this marks the end of an era in fake-but-not-fake TV news. Jon Stewart helped bring something better to television, and though I’ve not always been the most dedicated viewer I will still miss his wit and wisdom on Comedy Central. That said, I am willing to keep it 100 on The Nightly Show, even if my opinions on major issues are only slightly less worthless than all of Fox News on its best days.

Book Addictions

It’s not exactly a secret that I buy books faster than I can read them. Christmas did me no favors there, as I received quite a few books as gifts. Naturally, my moratorium on buying new books ended almost as soon as it began (I have, however, been very good about not buying new video games; so sorry, Majora’s Mask remake). Today’s purchase is Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I considered getting Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman, but I’m sad to say I’ve never been as disinterested in a book by one of my favorite authors as I found myself with this particular title. Apologies to In Some Other World, Maybe, which is still a read-in-progress that I owe a proper review.

Red Velvet Oreos

I’m sorry, but these things are just awful. Bring back the non-trademarked crispy treat Oreos, please, and my inner (and outer) fat kid will forgive this failure.

Time Management

I am terrible at managing my time well. I’m prone to naps, distractions, more naps, more distractions, and so on. My workplace obligations extend well past when I leave the office for the day, so there are surprises here and there of the work-related variety (Worth mentioning: I welcome those surprises as challenges, and am happy enough to have a job that it’s not really an issue except in regards to eating time). Some days I spend too much time focused on writing and not enough on editing. Or too much time on social media and not enough on writing. The combinations of frustration seem to be endless.

What tragedies, minor or major, do you folks find yourself facing this week?