Thursday, September 23, 2010

Q Day: One year later

It’s been a year, folks, a whole entire year since the moment I officially first set foot out into the big, bad world of the struggling, unpublished writer.

One year since the queries first went out.

One year since Q Day.

One year.

So now, looking back, what do I have to show for it? Where am I now?

Well, honestly, for the most part, I’m in the same place. I currently have 5 queries out and I’m waiting for a response on them. Yeah, I’m still plugging away, nose to the grindstone and all that; I've been busy hunting down Agents, querying, querying, querying, and staying on top of it all, but in the end, it's still the same shit, different day. Nothing new to report, at least nothing concrete, not really, and yet… at the same time, yeah, there have been some real changes.

Sure, I’ve received my fair share of form rejections, six or seven or so, I’d say, which is more than some, but less than most... so far. But I’ve also received four or five personal notes and had two requests for "more pages", even one request for the full manuscript! close... Out of fourteen submissions? That’s not bad, ladies and gentlemen, that is not bad at all… It’s not great, granted, but hey… silver lining. And the continued work itself has value too, like any good workout, after all this time, I think my writing has grown stronger, more confident, and I know I'm able to dip into that well easier and more often. Anyway, the point is, I'm doing good, at least, as good as “still unpublished” can be, maybe, but good nonetheless.

It’s an on-going process, basically.

Meanwhile, the learning process continues, as does its creative counterpart. I cut out 20,000 words from Gunslingers, which resulted in a leaner, stronger book. I’ve started work on the second one, too, but I’m waiting a bit before really committing to that one... just in case. In the interim, I’ve been gathering notes and random thoughts on a different series. We’ll see how that one pans out, it's looking good, I’m hopeful, but we’ll see. I’ve also put together a short story that I recently began the submissions process with, and there’s a second one I’m working on right now that is well on its way toward completion too. Things are moving, folks, so at the very least, I’ll be keeping myself busy for the foreseeable future.

Sure, on one hand, it’s gone nowhere.

But on the other hand, it’s still going.

Still going. That's me.

What’s that quote:

“You never knocked me down, Ray! Ya’ hear? You never knocked me down!"
 –Jake La Motta, Raging Bull, 1980


Friday, September 17, 2010


Hey all,

So, awhile back, as some of you may recall, I declared my intention to settle in and start watching Fringe in earnest because some late season plot points and what not had caught my attention. So that's what I did and I'm just gonna lay it all out there for you, right from the start of this blog so there's no confusion: I am now a fan.

For the unfamiliar:

Fringe is the story of Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), an FBI agent tasked with investigating the weird and the unexplained, or "Fringe" events, most of which are of the secret "black" science of the Cold War variety. Things like: an entire city bus and it's passengers suddenly encased in amber or a series of bank heists perpetrated by thieves who can apparently walk through walls or the hunt for a girl who can burst into flames... Olivia, along with formerly institutionalized "mad" scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his genius, jack-of-all-trades son Peter (Joshua Jackson), begin to discover that these strange events are not just random, isolated bits of escaped crazy, but part of a bigger picture, a "Pattern" if you will, all leading to the reveal of a coming war with an alternate dimension... a war that Walter may be responsible for starting...

Duh! Duh! Duuuuuuh!

At first I was definitely interested, but kind of bored with it's x-files-ness. I was also bothered by the fact the creators (J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman) all completely denied the idea that they were ever inspired by, or even considered the fact that their show might be considered similar to, the X-files... which is like, whatever, dude... asshead...

Anyway, so I wandered away from the show after an episode or two due to time commitments and a little apathy, but I started to read about this whole alternate dimension war stuff and secret super soldier programs and my geek-sense started to buzz in the back of my head... "Gasp! There's something geeky going on that I'm not paying attention to... Quick, to the geek-cave!"

So, I started watching again, and it's good. Maybe not "GREAT" with big letters, per se, but it might be "great" with little ones and with a definite potential to change that status, too. True, you can really see the x-files-ness in the first season, lots of one shot, random weirdness police procedurals... which are okay, competent and sometimes really cool, but who cares, right? But somewhere part way through the First season, they decided to quit with all the spinning wheels and slow go-nowhere X-files style of story telling and they honed in, focusing on the Pattern related events almost exclusively and the coming conflict with the Alternate Earth and now, here we are on the cusp of season three and shit has got crazy! The first skirmishes have begun, the war will soon follow, and it looks like season three is going to barrel headlong in that direction.

And all that is great, I enjoy the hell out of it, but what really sells me and keeps me coming back is the cast interactions. Olivia, Peter, Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and Walter are all fantastic together, Olivia and Walter particularly. John Noble just kills the role of a man who used to be a monster... then had parts of his brain removed... and is now kind of crazy and racked with guilt and trying to make up for his past mistakes. Add in Broyles (Lance Reddick), Nina Sharp (Blair Brown), Charlie (Kirk Acevedo) and William Bell (Good ol' Leonard Nimoy) and you've got a stellar cast able to pull off the crazy ideas and the weird set ups and the occasional shoot 'em up action, and yet still surprise you with the subtle character moments.

This is a show that originally I would have told people I enjoyed, but wouldn't have really recommended, unless you were a certain type of person. Now though, after season two? Yeah, get on board, man, because it is a good time. The Peter Weller time travel episode? Fantastic. The episode that takes place in the 80's, including this alternate 80's style opening sequence (here's the regular opening sequence for comparison)? Amazing.

Seriously, it's fun. Go watch. Season 3 starts next week...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh my

Totally friggin' sweet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back in the saddle (special Sunday edition)

I've got things to do today.

Laundry? Sure. Dishes? Fuckin' A, man, Little Ms. Super Cute Wife made a big time dinner last night and if you know Little Ms. Super Cute, then you also know that big time dinners means big time messes, so yeah... dishes too. I also have reading to do for the Scribblerati meeting on this coming Tuesday that I haven't gotten started on yet (but I will today, pinkie swear).

And it all goes without saying that I need to get back to doing some writing as well, hopefully tonight. I've trunked "Bloodsuckers in the Cattle" pending a reworking and I'm eyeing the novelization of my comic script "The Scrappers", preparing for my return, as it were. I've also begun tapping away at the reworking of the story I had intended to submit to that future Twin Cities Anthology that I missed the deadline on, it's called "Monster" and at the moment, it's about Dragon Hunters in a dystopian future... see, they're pretty mean people, the dragon hunters, so... you know... who's the real Monster, all that... see what I did there?

Anyway, the biggest news, as you keen eyed regular readers may have already spotted, The Little Things has been given wing and taken flight. It's out there, people. It has begun its journey. And now we wait for a response. This first site I'm sending to says it can take anywhere from a couple of days to about two months for its decision process. Fingers crossed.

So now, since that is sent out and in limbo for the time being and before I do all that other stuff I mentioned (and settle in for some Football... go Bears), I'm gonna spend a little time with my Gunslingers of the Apocalypse queries. There are three that are currently well past their stated "will respond if interested" time frames, I believe, so I'm going to go ahead and count them as "Nos" and send out a couple of new ones. Onward and upwards, right?

Looking ahead, I'm starting my Loft class in a couple of weeks, so I'm excited about that. But other than that? I'm working at it, keeping busy; I've got some things on the horizon. So yeah, Special Sunday Edition, so this is a short one. Wish me luck on my shit and take care of yourselves out there in Internet land.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

A lapse

My Dad died last week.

It was his 59th birthday and he was grilling his birthday steak out on his deck when it happened. I can just see him too. I bet he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the cool summer evening, maybe a pullover fleece thing as well while sipping on a rum and coke in a short glass, slowly melting ice cubes clinking against the sides. He was probably having a smoke while he cooked too, one of those crappy Benson and Hedges Menthol 100s he had switched to, probably while half-leaning against the rail of the deck and listening to the Royals lose on TV. A night just like any other.

Then he went down and that was it.

I don’t think we’ve heard back yet, but it was probably a brain aneurysm due to high blood pressure (otherwise known as: The Hansen Way) or maybe it was a blood clot resulting from a long flight, but whatever, it doesn’t really matter; it was sudden and sounded pretty quick. I got the call on Monday night and it all went exactly like you would expect it to. My little sister, the Wild Child, called, but Little Ms. Super Cute Wife and I were heading out for some errands, so I let it go to voicemail until I got home and when I heard her voice, I just knew. Stupid things occurred to me right away, I wondered: Did the meat burn? When did his drink get dumped out? Is it still sitting on the picnic table? Then I immediately started thinking about how, at the wedding, he re-told me the story of Grandpa Bill showing up out of the blue and how they went to lunch and had a good time and Grandpa stopped right before he left and said: “I love you” and how that was the last time he ever spoke to his Dad. And afterwards, after calling The Wild Child back and trying to make plans and walking in circles a bit, I thought: What was I doing when it happened? Was I really weed-whacking while my Father died?

After that, I felt like I was in a holding pattern, wading through a slow morass of waiting and daytime TV, helpless, unable to move forward, unable to get through; ready to go with nothing to do…

When I was there, it was the little things that really stuck: his computer was still password protected, the “just walked away” way the work stuff was spread around his desk, the bowl where he put his wallet and glasses and smokes every night, it was all still sitting there, everything neatly stacked. His glasses were really smudged and I polished them with my shirt and then I stole some of his smokes… His presence was still there, clich├ęd sounding as it is, it was like he was just in the other room, just about to walk back in…

Here, now, on the other side of things I’m glad to say that I don’t feel a whole lot of regrets, besides the expected stuff of course. The wedding was in June and it was a fantastic time together and I had talked to him on the phone since then in our usual short and to-the-point phone conversation manner. We had e-mailed back and forth that very day, maybe only… 4 or 5 hours before he died. He even mentioned those steaks… I’m glad I got to say Happy Birthday.

But it’s been a pretty rough week, as you can imagine, I went down there to God damn Missouri over Labor Day weekend and now I’m back again, back to work, back to my life, and it’s getting better, but you know… I rushed down there as soon as I could for my Step-mom and the Wild Child. And people gathered. There was food and talk and all that. Dad went out in style. He always loved the movie The Big Chill, so we played the Stones “You can’t always get what you want”. It was nice, for that kind of thing, there was very little outside drama. Grandma Hines took a bit of a tumble, but she’s fine, thankfully, but other than that, it was calm. There was a little bit of discontentment in the crowd with the Born-again Preacher running the service, but shit, when a random God-person is needed in a pinch… beggars and choosers and all that, I guess…

You end up occupying a weird place during these things. On one hand, it sucked. But on the other, it was really nice being with all those people: Little Ms. Super-cute Wife, of course, and J-town Jason, a pair of more supportive, wonderful people you couldn’t ask for, I don’t know if I could’ve even gotten down there without them. Mr. and Mrs. Jungle Woody were there, who I’m always glad to see, so was Mr. B and Lindsay Loves NKOTB and lots of others and it was just… nice. There was some laughter and some late (very late) night drinking. It was sad, but it was good. Like they say: It’s too bad it takes a death for us all to get together. All in all, I felt better coming back home, riding the light rail back from the airport with Little Ms. Super Cute wife was like a big exhale, like I was sliding loose of a gray haze.

We went to a Twins game that night and watched the Royals lose. Dad would have just shaken his head.

I love my Father and I miss him very much. I’ll miss his voice and his laugh and the way he killed at Trivial Pursuit. I’ll miss the way he crossed his arms and leaned. I’ll miss him.

A rough week, but it’s getting better.

So, to all of you who went or sent flowers or just their love, before, after, during, now or later… thank you very much, it’s very appreciated. I know that maybe I don’t talk about it that much with you, but that’s just my way, so thanks for understanding and trust in the knowledge that your support was sorely needed and relied upon. Thanks.

I’m okay and I’m getting better.

So, what next? Well, for the next few months, I’m going to be distracting myself with friends and with my writing, and Little Ms Super Cute Wife, of course. This whole blog went on much longer than I originally anticipated, because it started out as just a list. I was going to write up a list of all these silly little inconsequential things that I’m looking forward to, things that’ll help me feel better, but… eh… I’ll do that some other time.

Until then, though... there's this:


Take care, kids,

Lost America

I love stuff like this:

Ghosts in the Hollow from Jim Lo Scalzo on Vimeo.

Found at Io9.