Monday, November 21, 2011

And Now, For Something Completely Different

I'm not a political person, and this is not a political blog. I like to keep the focus on writing, but I also like to educate and enlighten in this space, and I do occasionally shed some light on other aspects of my writer's journey that are not as obviously connected to me being a writer, but are still important to me.

I come from a nice middle class family. My mom worked as a producer for television while I was growing up, and my dad worked as an announcer for radio and television. (And while my mom has since given up working in the entertainment industry, you've probably heard my dad's voice recently if you listen to the radio or watch TV at all.) My dad's initial foray into creating his own business failed spectacularly, resulting in my family filing for bankruptcy and going through a divorce while I was finishing high school. When I graduated, I went straight into the work force because there was no money for me to go to college and my mom needed my help to make ends meet. I wasn't always the best at helping out on that end, and for many years, I carried with me an entitlement that I gained from having my every financial need met while I was in school. When I moved out, however, I had a job at a bookstore, and for a time I had a second job as a courier to make ends meet. Since then, I've worked hard to cover my own bills, to support myself, to get by as best I could on my meager earnings. It hasn't always worked. I've sometimes needed my parents to bail me out when things got especially bad, but I never stopped trying to make it happen on my own. I've worked at a law office, a doctor's office, and an information technology company. Considering I have no college degree and all of my adult education has been on-the-job training, I've done pretty well for myself.

Then the economy went to hell.

Then the government cut back on funding to companies like the one I worked for.

Then I got laid off from my job.

Now, 15 years after graduating from high school, I'm still struggling to make ends meet. It's harder now. People aren't as willing to hire as they were before, preferring to saddle current employees with the work of three people instead of bringing on additional help. I take temp work as often as I can and submit my resume for everything I'm even remotely qualified for, but I have no steady paycheck and I constantly worry about where money is going to come from so I can eat this week. Meanwhile, my bank continues to gouge me for money I don't have to pay hidden fees so their executives can continue to live the high life, forcing me to borrow money just so I can keep my head above water for five seconds.

I don't believe this is how the world should work, and I'm not the only one who thinks that way.

While I can't always get out to the Occupy encampment near me because I need to make money to pay bills, I nevertheless stand with them against the 1%. I believe real change needs to happen, in our government and our businesses, before things get out of hand. I believe our representatives need to listen to the people crying out for help, not the corporations buying their attention. I believe that the system is broken, and that our elected officials have a responsibility to fix it.

I know that this change won't happen overnight. I also know that it WILL happen, sooner or later. Until then, I stand with the rest of the Occupy Wall Street movement, because I am the 99%.

I share every piece of news about Occupy Wall Street that I can on Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ and Twitter, but there's so much more that slips under my radar. Please, I implore you, read up on this movement and understand what it's really about, not what the traditional media wants you to think it's about.

Edit: And as a sort of OWS primer, here are a few links to get you started.

New York Times: Protestors Against Wall Street

Huffington Post: Capturing Occupy Wall Street movement Demands

Portsmouth Patch: Roemer Fully Behind Occupy Movement

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Everyday Divinities Has A Cover!

OK, yes, it's been a long time coming, but I can confidently make this announcement at last:


Everyday Divinities cover

That's right, Everyday Divinities has cover art at long last! We can thank Daniel Thayer for the image above, which will soon be on e-readers nationwide. Kudos for putting that together for me, Dan!

Now that there's cover art, I can move ahead with getting Everyday Divinities up as an e-book. Check back here soon for the big announcement!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo: The Halfway Point

Today is Nov. 16th, roughly halfway through National Novel Writing Month. Time for a pep talk!

For those of you still participating in this event, way to go! You're already a cut above the rest by sticking with it this long, regardless of what your word count is right now. Those of you who started strong but gave up due to [insert excuse here], it's not too late! Put the boots on and launch back into that word count with renewed ferocity. And to the rest of you who never crossed the start line, it's not too late for you, either! You'll have twice the work ahead of you than most NaNoWriMo-ers, but it's not unheard of to make that 50,000 word goal in half the time.

The halfway point was hard for me. Sure, I had kept with the daily word count goals I had set for myself, but I was still only halfway there. Real life was already doing its best to derail my progress and the last half of the month would bring with it the additional complication of the Thanksgiving holiday. An already uphill battle for a guy who had previously only done 3-page short stories was going to be even more difficult.

I had every reason in the world to stop. My friends wanted to hang out with me again. Family wanted to spend time with me around the holiday. Work drained my energy during the day, leaving me running on fumes at night. And then there was that ever-present noise in my head, telling me that I wasn't good enough, I'm not a real writer, I should stop trying so hard and give up now.

You know what I did? I kept writing anyway.

My friends understood that I had a passion and needed to stoke that fire in me. Family had to sleep, and there was always that time late at night or early in the morning when they weren't awake yet and I could lay down some more words. At work, I would write on my lunch break and during my commute to and from the office. I stole every possible moment I could from the day to meet my daily goals, and I'll be damned if I was going to let the world keep me from crossing the finish line.

As for the noise in my head? It was always there, and always will be there. Self-doubt is nothing new to writers. Even the seasoned vets still hear that voice drilling doubt into their brain. The trick is to hear it without giving in to it. Recognize that voice, smile and nod at it, then go ahead and write anyway. If you have to, say aloud, "I will make it to 50,000 words." Make it your mantra. Don't worry about sounding crazy, everyone assumes writers are weird anyway.

You can do it. I know you can, and deep down, you know you can, too. Stick with it, you'll be glad you did.

See you at the finish line!

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Awkward Adventure at Comikaze Expo

So, I covered my first comic book convention this past weekend, Comikaze Expo. It wasn't the first convention I've ever been to, not by far. That honor goes to San Diego Comic Con 2002, which instilled in me a love for conventions when I got to meet Peter "Chewbacca" Mayhew in person and ended up sitting at the booth with him talking about Star Wars. That was before SDCC turned into the absolute clusterfrak of pop culture that it is today.

Comikaze was almost perfectly situated in my life, too: I got sick before the convention, not during, and my beloved broke up with me right after it. The timing of these two events meant that I was able to enjoy the convention well enough without coughing or sneezing all over the people I was meeting, or in such a heartbroken funk that people would avoid me on sight. Timing, as they say, is everything.

It was a great event, though, even with so much going on. I spent most of the time that weekend in the company of my friends Eric and Jessica, then met up with my friend Jesse, and even spent some time with my mother (pictured above with me and Marina Sirtis) and her boyfriend. I met a lot of new people, made some new friends, and ended up with one of the best convention experiences I've had since 2002.

You can read all about My Awkward Adventure at Comikaze Expo, Day One and Day Two at Comic Booked!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011