To my PitchWars Mentors…

So far this has been a year of firsts for me. I went to Texas for the first time back in May to visit my Aunt. I went down to visit Savannah for the first time a few weeks back, and just last week I went to my first concert.

gwenStefani

Now I can add submitting to PitchWars to that list as well!

Yesterday I took the plunge and submitted Beyond the Treehouse to a few of my mentor picks. (The submissions are open through August 6th if you’re planning on doing the same!) Part of the process is creating a relationship with your mentor hopefuls, so here’s a little about me. (You can read more over here.)

Back in 2010 I decided to give NaNoWriMo a chance and it renewed my love of writing. Before then I was a very active fanfiction writer, but that was the first time I had ever written something so long and entirely original. Since then I’ve gotten a number of short stories published and worked on several books. I’ve bounced around various writing forums like Absolute Write and Scribophile, but found it difficult to stay active in them while keeping up with my writing and holding down a full time programming job. I try to do at least one NaNo event each year, but sometimes squeeze in two or three. Last summer I went to the World Horror Convention in Atlanta and got so inspired. I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo that summer and churned out four horror short stories, one of which got accepted to a market that qualified me for the Horror Writers’ Association membership.

Beyond the Treehouse is a book that’s near to my heart. I’ve been working on it for two years. I had to scrap it completely at one point and rewrote it. I cut out characters, added new ones, and carefully pieced it all together. It’s YA Fantasy, but it definitely dabbles in the weird at times, and I have a hard time keeping my love of horror from seeping in along the edges.

Outside of writing, I’ve really gotten into cosplay over the past year. A few months back our Black Butler squad even got an award at the AWA Summer Blockbuster Event!

AWA_Summer2016When I get into fandom, I tend to dive deep. Next month me and two of my cosplayer friends will be delivering two panels on Black Butler at DragonCon, and two more panels at AWA (Anime Weekend Atlanta). I’m working on a vary large prop at home in preparation for it (Deathscythe, anyone?) and we’re even planning a trip to Japan next year to see the animated movie in theaters.

In short, it’s been a hell of a year, and my blog hasn’t quite gotten the attention it deserves at times. My writing is still going strong though, and isn’t that the important part?

Curse of Beauty Now Available!

It’s the beginning of May. Do you know what that means?

The end of spring semester for many exhausted college students?
Yep!

It’s time for convention season to go into full swing?
Quite possibly.

The new Game of Thrones season came out, filling up my Facebook feed and tempting me with spoilers I’m trying desperately to avoid?
Oh yes!

You know what else it means? It means my story, Curse of Beauty, is now available on Heroic Fantasy Quarterly! It’s been included in their 28th issue and even features some beautiful artwork from Kat Scarber.

All of these stories are free to read, so why not drop by and take a look?

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly – Q28

If you enjoy them, please share them around! Make an artist’s day!🙂

Trains and Sandstorms of the 1890s

While I’ve been working on Camp NaNoWriMo (slowly, but surely is my motto this month!), I’ve come across some interesting research that I thought I’d share! This novel is Book 2 of my Colton Fen series, and takes place in the 1890s. My characters first have to take a train from western Texas to New Orleans, which at the time took 3 days. (If you want to see the detailed research I had to dig up for that calculation, check out my post on Maps and Trains of the 1880s,probably one of the most popular posts on this blog).

Here’s a quick run-down:

  • Traveling on an Emigrant Train, 1879 – Omg, is that David Thewlis I see on the side there?
    David_Thewlis RobertLouisStevenson
    No, it’s just Robert Louis Stevenson, the same gent who penned Treasure Island. (Maybe I’ve been watching too much Harry Potter lately? Nah!) It turns out he also documented his train ride from Chicago to California to be with a married woman ten years his senior who he was madly in love with. He talks about the newsboy, who goes around selling books, fruit, lollipops, and cigars on the trains. He ended up being given the nickname of Shakespeare. Most notably he talks about the difficulty of bathing on the train.

    There he knelt down, supporting himself by a shoulder against the woodwork; or one elbow crooked about the railing, and made a shift to wash his face and neck and hands-a cold, an insufficient, and, if the train is moving rapidly, a somewhat dangerous toilet.

    I was looking for details on how toilets were used on trains, but this was the closest I got. Certainly quite useful all the same, and it makes me glad for the conveniences we have today.

  • 3 Ways to Survive a Dust Storm or a Sandstorm – Now you might think that sandstorms don’t happen in western Texas, but you would be very wrong. In fact there’s video of one that just happened a couple of years ago.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfuDFEZYHTE

    Oh and here’s a photo from one rolling into Midland, Texas in 1894. It’s terrifying just seeing it from inside a building with glass windows. I can’t imagine what it must have been like back then.
    Sandstorm_MidlandTexas_1894Either way, it can’t hurt to know how to survive one of these things, right? Oh and those people driving in the sandstorm still probably didn’t read the section about how to survive when you’re in a car. They’re a rare occasion in Texas at least, thank goodness.

These are just a couple of teasers on the sort of things I’ve been writing about!

Curse of Beauty Coming Your Way

I really didn’t expect to be sharing a new publication so soon after having two horror shorts published, but here we go!

I just sent off the contract to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. They’re going to be publishing my fantasy short story, “Curse of Beauty”, in the next issue on their website! It should be going up around May 1st, to be included in Issue #28, so in just a couple of weeks. Note that this will be a free read, so anybody can drop by and read it once it’s live.😉

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly - About Us

This story has had a long road to get to this point. I’ve been trying to find a home for it since 2011 and have had over 20 rejections on it. Sometimes I wondered if it was worth shopping around, but this is a business where it’s good to be persistent. Like I’ve said before, my writing can be difficult to pin down, which means finding the right niche for it is difficult.

I’ve actually had a couple of older, hard-to-place pieces picked up lately. “A Slippery Customer” was another one. That one too had been homeless since 2011 and had 16 rejections, and the anthology crawled all the way up to #3 in Amazon’s horror anthology listing.

I guess the lesson of this story is not to give up. Take a fresh read of your story now and then, because you do get better as a writer over time, but don’t let yourself get discouraged. Keep sending them out. Eventually you’ll find the awesome editor for your piece. The numbers I’ve listed here are pretty typical in placing your writing. These are just short stories I’m talking about too, not even novels. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of submitting longer pieces to publishers. (I think I’m still scorched from Hodderscape’s open window from last August.)

Anyway come May 1st I’ll be sending out all the links I can, and hopefully you’ll understand why I’m so proud of this baby. I hope you’ll read and share as well!

Yellow is the Color of Spring

I don’t know about you, but it felt like spring took forever to get here. Then last week, the final week of winter, suddenly our temperatures were so warm! I went to my car after work one day to find it was 90 (32 ºC) degrees inside. Of course with the warm temperatures came the sea of pollen. 

 

They say that if you don’t have allergies when you first come to Georgia, you’ll probably have them in 2-3 years. It’s not surprising either when you find out how bad pollen season is. (Pollen Season Starting Early This Year) It’s even worse if you have allergies and asthma like I do. You have to do regular inventories to make sure you’ve got the tools you need on hand and increase your medication to stay healthy. Otherwise you end up with regular sinus infections that can turn much worse.

Despite that though, I do love springtime. I wanted to share this pic of one of our Redbuds in the yard. If you follow me on Instagram then you already know the story, but I wanted to share it here too.
  
If memory serves me right, we got our two Redbud trees the year after we moved into our house, so that would be in 2010. My younger sister offered to pick up a couple of trees from City Hall because they were being given away for free on Arbor Day. She got a tree for herself too, but a neighbor mowed over it thinking it was a weed. (How do you even do that?)

The first few years we had them, I don’t recall seeing any real flowers on them. There were maybe a handful before the leaves came in, then they were gone before you could even notice them. This year they’re simply beautiful.

For lovely shots like this I’ll gladly deal with all that pollen!