Shadow Show / Writing & Submitting

There’s a fabulous collection of short stories out in the wild now called Shadow Show, edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle. Several authors were invited to write stories inspired by Ray Bradbury, as well as share a bit about their own experiences with the man himself and his work. The result is one unbelievable story after another. Each story has a unique beating heart, simple yet powerful prose, and calls up that weird little feeling one gets when sitting down to enjoy a Bradbury classic.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadow-show-sam-weller/1110766598?ean=9780062122698

Three of the many stories I enjoyed in this collection are:

The Girl in the Funeral Parlor – Sam Weller

By The Silver Water of Lake Champlain – Joe Hill

The Phone Call – John McNally

If you love short fiction, or love the work of Ray Bradbury, pick up a copy of this collection.

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I’ve been submitting short fiction regularly, but am still working toward my first published piece. (Which will be exciting, as it will be the first work of fiction I link to on this site). I’m proud of where the work is, but am not unaware of where it’s falling short. The challenge is exciting, and I’ve made some great progress towards where I’d like my writing to go.

I’m in the process of finishing the third draft of my newest short story. It’s in the hands of a few readers, as well as under the microscope of my wife. She’s brutal, but in the best possible way. The story has really taken off in the 2nd and 3rd drafts, thanks to her honest notes, and backbreaking editing. This is the first new story I’ve written that’s made me this confident, and I can’t wait to add it to my growing list of “Submitted Stories.”

 

 

Sweatin’ It Out

I started at South Baltimore CrossFit in February with every intention of completing the foundations program and nothing else. The goal was to get Nat to stop begging me to at least try it. I’d prove to her that working out and weightlifting were simply not my cup of tea.

Well, it’s almost June now and I’ve discovered something new about myself that I didn’t know before that fateful program in February: I love lifting weights, and–gasp!–I mildly enjoy working out.

Turns out that the structure provided at a CrossFit box is exactly what a person like me needs to get their butt away from the computer and into the gym. The coaches are fantastic, friendly, supportive and remarkably helpful seven days a week. It doesn’t matter how packed a class might be on any given day, they find time to give everyone feedback on their form and push you to go a little harder than you did the day, week, or month before.

Beyond the great coaches, the workouts change daily and vary in difficulty from Insanity Level: I’ll never be able to finish this to Total Insanity Level: This is the day I die. And the best part? You do finish it, and you don’t die (even though it sure feels like you might at any moment).

There’s a two level competition element to it also: One against your peers at the gym and one against yourself. The one against your peers is just for fun and provides great inspiration to push even harder. The one against yourself is what really matters. Can I do that workout better this time? Can I add some pounds to my max deadlift? Who knows, but I sure as hell am going to try my best.

There’s really nothing like sprawling out on the gym floor, head pounding, heart pumping so fast it might leap right out of your chest, and the timer on the wall flashing a time that’s better than you’ve ever had before. When you regain your composure, can breath evenly again, you say goodbye to your friends at the gym and leave just a bit more confident in yourself than you were when you walked in. That feeling, more than losing weight or gaining muscle, is what keeps me going back.

The Thrill of Rejection & A Monster Calls

The Thrill of Rejection

I finally swallowed my pride, held my breath, and submitted a short story to a publication. It was promptly rejected, and rightfully so. I have a lot of growing to do as a writer still, but one step I needed to take was putting the work out there. I’ll continue subbing the story to publications I enjoy, and who knows; maybe one of them will take it.

I tallied all my words since the new year, and in April I’ve surpassed the 60,000 mark. They are spread out between a handful of unfinished stories, and five completed ones. 60,000 words by April may seem like a lot (and yes, it is), but that averages out to only 625 words a day. I tend to write between 1500-3000 words in any given sitting. That means I’ve had far too many days of no writing than I’m happy with. Had I been more disciplined, I could have double that amount. My goal for the rest of April is to aim for 1000 a day, every day. If I go over, fantastic! But if I don’t, then at least I’ve gotten my practice in for the day, and that’s what really counts at this point. Practice, practice, practice.

A Game of Thrones

Season two of A Game of Thrones has started, and I am thrilled. I adore this show. They have done an amazing job of transferring such a massive story to television, and I can’t wait to hit more of my favorite scenes.

For the premiere, Nathalie and Hattie prepared a massive feast for our friends who came to watch.

The menu:

  • Westerosian white bread
  • Dornish cheese flight of fancy
  • Vale of Arryn summer berries
  • The Hound’s cured pork belly
  • Dothraki horse and goat jerky
  • Ghost’s roasted chicken
  • Pentoshi stuffed mushrooms
  • Theon Greyjoy’s white wine mussels
  • Sansa’s cranberry walnut tart
  • Arya’s lemon cakes
  • Night’s Watch breakfast loaves
  • Baratheon boar ribs

Yum!

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

“At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting— he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.”From B&N’s Overview

This book showed up on as recommendation on my Nook Touch a few weeks ago. I had never read anything by the author, Patrick Ness, or Siobhan Dowd, who’s idea the story is based. I was drawn in by the cover and by the large number of positive reviews on B&N’s website so I bought it right away.

I read it in a single sitting, and admit I was crying like a baby by the end. It’s a great story about how children cope with unfortunate life events. If you are looking for a powerful yet fast read, I highly recommend it.

 

Here we go again

RAVENS

At some point over the last four years I’ve developed a love for football. More specifically, a love for the Baltimore Ravens.

My friend Peter Shipley is to blame. His passion for the game and for the team unconsciously seeped into my brain as we got to know each other, culminating this week with a pact between the two of us; a Fu Manchu pact. We will be sporting the facial masterpiece, a la Joe Flacco, for this weekends playoff game against the Patriots. When we win (yes, WHEN) I will continue to wear it proudly until the last play of the Super Bowl. Additionally, Nathalie and I dropped the coin and picked up Ravens jerseys. I went with Terrel “Ball so Hard” Suggs, the nightmare on two legs. It’s going to be a hell of a weekend.

Writing

I set a strenuous goal for myself this year; one new short story every week. Since the new year I have written 20,000 words divided between three stories. Can you read them? Absolutely not. They’re bad, and I mean really bad. But, that’s the point of this entire goal. By the end of the year I’d like to be able to say that the stories are not as bad as they used to be. Practice. Practice. Read. Practice.

Reading

I’ll conclude by recommending the short story Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls by Brian Hodge. It was included in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Vol. 22. It’s a strong example of how effective it can be to reveal important details slowly over the course of a tale. I read it on Monday and it’s haunted me all week.

And finally, I am simply tittering in anticipation of Game of Thrones season 2. April 1st can’t come fast enough.