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Gen Con, Five Year Plan, And Why QoS Didn’t Fly

Welp, since The Techno Jesus has managed to beat me to a Gen Con 2012 post, I finally got up off my behind (or rather, sat down for once) and am getting this post written.

If you want to read about my wildly embarrassing but slightly tear-jerking (if you’re me) encounter with Wil Wheaton, then later I will post that but only if you REALLY want to hear it. It was actually pretty cool and he was really nice and kind of took my fangirling in stride, because he’s a bro.

Anyhow here are some pictures of me being a dork at GenCon. I stole most of them from my friends on Facebook, without permission. They’ll get over it.

One of those pictures may contain way more of a certain mercenary’s junk than I’m entirely comfortable with, but whatever. I kind of dork’d all over most of those pictures – I was super excited and running mostly on Diet Coke and glee (the emotion, not the melodramatic television show), and it was my first Con and I GOT TO MEET WIL WHEATON and I probably wasn’t getting enough oxygen anyway because oh my god breathing in that corset.

Moving on.

The Five Year Plan has more to do with my career than anything else, but there are some way more personal things involved in it, too. I won’t transpose word-for-word because I’m not sure that most of what I scribbled onto the napkin at work behind the register actually counts as WORDS anymore, more like smudges, but here’s the gist:

By December of This Year:

DeAngelis: Resurrection done. No excuses. I had a light-bulb moment at work earlier that more or less fixed 75% of the issues I’ve been having with the entire freaking SERIES and so I’m ready to plow ahead. I turned in the first chapter to my fiction workshop I’m participating in this semester, and even people who don’t quite get it absolutely loved it. My biggest fan-boy right now is a pastor, which tickles me to death because I figured that would be the demographic the book would piss off the most. But, I guess you never can tell with bees.

Be shopping for an agent. While I’m aware that ebook self-publishing has kind of opened up a whole new avenue for writers and authors, the fact of the matter is that the publishing houses still have a lot of power, and a lot of clout.

Have A Short Story/Novella Done, or Nearly. I need to self-publish something, regardless, and I’ve got a few little ideas that I could churn out in a week or so and throw onto the internets.

By December of 2013:

Book #2 Finished. There is actually a title for this one, I just can’t remember it at the moment, and I’m too lazy to go document-hunting. Regardless, after graduation, I’m going to have way more time to be working on my writing even if I’m working full-time. There’s no excuse to not have the second book of the deAngelis series finished.

At Least Two Novellas/Short Stories E-Published. Can’t hurt to get my name out there.

Professional(ish) Website. While a blog is great, a website will be even better, with a link TO the blog, or the blog being part of it. Something snappy, you know? That brags about what a great writer I am, and points people to the work I have available on e-readers, and points out that if someone WANTS to pay me to proofread or line-edit their stuff, then I am more than willing to do so.

Get The Heck Out of Dodge. Terre Haute is butts. I will not get trapped here.

By December of 2014:

Book #3 Done.

Books 1 and 2 Published.


By December of 2015:

 Supporting Myself With My Writing. Or editing, or a combination of both. Either works for me, as long as people are buying my stuff.

By December of 2017:

Own a House. Or at least have a house that I live in that the bank owns and that I am paying them back for. The house must have an office

All Five Books Done, Published or very nearly all published.

Studio. For various crafting adventures. Sewing, dying my own yarn, power tools. Lots and lots of power tools. I will accept an air-conditioned, well-lit, not-dusty workshop in the backyard with a great stereo and Wi-Fi.

Welp, I’ve managed to keep myself up until a ridiculous hour of the morning, but there you have it. My plan. Lets watch me stumble through it!

You’ll notice I don’t mention QoS at all, that magazine plan that didst crash and burn most predictably. Honestly, life kind of hit me in the face like a trainwreck right about when the critical workload needed to get done, and I just couldn’t handle it. Also, having experienced what needed to be done, I realized that the whole project was a bit too lofty for just me and Sam to handle. I would need a part-time staff of four or five people, at least, and that just wasn’t going to happen. So, maybe one day, when I have mountains of cash to just throw at hopeful young interns, but for now it’s a failed experiment that I can learn from. If you submitted work to QoS, all the rights hereby revert back to you. I release you! I’m so sorry to have gotten you all excited for nothing, but think of it as a learning experience and enjoy the opportunity to go submit your work to someone who has got it way more together than I do.

And with that, I think I shall head for bed. I got hit with a mild case of food poisoning earlier this evening and I definitely need to rest up before the three (ugh) exams that I have tomorrow… all before noon. Good night, all!

Why I Fail at Adulthood

There’s this weird thing that happens when you go away for college. You leave an awkward high-school graduate who doesn’t realize just how awkward she (or he is), and then somewhere between moving into your dorm for the first time and eventually putting on silly robes and a goofy hat for a three-hour ceremony that it’s really not worth it to attend (given that if you opt out they’ll just mail you your degree), you Become an Adult.

One of the horrors of adulthood, I’ve found, is this tricky thing called Small Talk. After your freshman year, your parents’ friends and other adults you knew Before College Happened will stop having conversations with you intended to figure out how you, specifically, are handling your transition to adulthood and will suddenly, without warning, expect you to participate in this ritual of chit-chat and scripted social encounters. You are never handed a pamphlet, a handbook, a cheat sheet, nor given so much as a heads-up or a gentle, reminding nudge in the ribs by a sympathetic elbow.

My sister, and several of the people I graduated high school with, seem to have handled this change pretty smoothly. I’ll be out with my sister and suddenly, in Kroger or Hobby Lobby or Qdoba, we’ll run into someone she knows. There will be hugging, and hellos, and other sort of greeting pleasantries. She’ll navigate through the brief, bare-bones conversation like an Olympic gymnast, and then we’re moving on, with her always sighing contentedly, “Oh, it was nice to see [that person] again.”

I, however, am never so lucky. I officially suck at small talk. Despite being one of the more socially adept members of the ISU Roleplayers Guild, which is partially why I’m the president, I cannot seem to grasp this concept of small talk. I dread going to church with my family, because there are without fail a half-dozen adults who will recognize me and descend on me like a flock of starving vultures.

Last night, as we were going into church for midnight Mass, I spotted the soccer coach from my high school. I’m very fond of this man, as I managed his team for two years, lettered doing so, and realized over the course of that time that he is really a wonderful man. I’ve seen him a handful of times since graduation, and am always glad to do so. Even after five years, he knows me and seems just as excited to see me as I am to see him.

Forgetting, however, my penchant for failing at socially-scripted conversation, I called out to him. The first parts were easy – hugs, “Merry Christmas!”, and the mutual asking of “How are you?” I can usually make it this far – but then something in my brain always fails. Here’s pretty much how last night worked:

Coach: Merry Christmas!
Me: Merry Christmas! How are you?
Coach: I’m great, I’m great. We [the soccer team] did really well this season. We lost in the semi-state finals. So close! I’m proud of them. How are you?
Me: Oh, I’m good. I’m back for a week and a half or so, then it’s back to Terrible Haute.
Coach: You look good!
Me: Thanks. I was sick for a long time back in November, finally getting back to my old self…

The italicized bit is where I noticed Coach starting to look around, and I realized, “Oh crap, I’ve screwed this up.” He eventually excused himself from the conversation, hugged me, said “Merry Christmas!” again, and then he was gone.

An hour later I realized, as usual, that what I should have said after “Thanks” was something along the lines of, “You, too!” Followed by some variation of “How’s your family?”, like, “How’s your wife?”, who was in a vehicle accident a couple of years ago, or “How are your girls?” to show that I remember that he has two daughters.

This may not seem like too terrible of an encounter to you, but to be honest, this example is one of the better ones. Half the time I crash and burn immediately after the “hello”s, because I’m trying to hard to remember just exactly who it is that’s talking to me, and there are only four times out of the year that there are seasonally-acceptable additional dialogue that can be inserted into the conversation, being “Merry Christmas!”, “Happy New Year!”, “Happy Thanksgiving!”, and “Happy Easter!”

Lamenting my social faux pas, I complained to my sister that what I needed was a note I could stick on my forehead anytime that I went out into public while visiting my hometown, a note that would say something like, “I am terrible at small talk and I likely don’t remember who you are, just move on and save us both the embarrassment.” My father suggested that I get through the rest of this vacation just responding to everything with “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy New Year!” This provided my sisters and me with a few moments of giggling as we imagined conversations where I responded every question or statement with “Merry Christmas!” and then ended making some sort of facial expression similar to this:


So far I’m liking that plan best. I may even use it year-round, and not just as Christmastime.

This Post is Full of Derps


This is the symbol of the air benders from Avatar: The Last Airbender. And I mean the cartoon, not that train wreck some people call a "movie."

Seriously though, this whole post is essentially going to be me dicking around for 1,000 words or so. If you came here for writerly wisdom advice psychobabble, you’re probably better off finding the closest public restroom and perusing the crude graffiti there.*

Essentially today I just feel like crap (read: my leg hurts), so I’m not going to put any real effort into this post, except to tell you about things that I plan on doing next week.

Flash Fiction Fridays

One of the most important things I think a writer can do is to write. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but a lot of times I find that people will refuse to work on anything that isn’t their magnum opus, and if they’ve got writer’s block there, they just don’t write anything at all. For days. For months. Yes, I’m guilty of this, too, but it really is so important to write every day – even if it’s just a little bit. Journaling. Blogging. A shit poem about how much writer’s block sucks. Therefore, in the same way that I do Top 10 Tuesday, I’m going to start doing Flash Fiction Friday.

Flash fiction – Fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as 300, while others consider stories as long as 1000 words to be flash fiction.

I’m just going to pick a prompt from somewhere – the books I’ve got lying around, the internet, something one of my readers suggests below in the comments of each Friday post… and then I’m going to write, anywhere from 300 to 1,000 words. And the I’ll post it for you to read on Friday. And if you want to do the prompt, too, do that, and I’ll put it up for you the following Friday, because we’re writers here, yeah? and we all need to give each other a hand.

Also, that dictionary-like thing got me thinking, so I think I’ll also institute another “official day of the week” for this blog. It’ll be… um…

Elemental** Sunday***

I’m just going to pull a literary term out of my butt and spend the whole post talking about it. Not writing-process stuff; stuff like all of the crap that you learn in your high school English class and write 15-page research papers on in college. You know, symbolism and motifs and all that other crap that you’re pretty sure the author did purely on accident.†

I think having a bit more structure to what I’m writing during the week will keep me from wasting everybody’s time. The other days of the week will be me talking about the writing process, how my own writing is going, stuff going on in the publishing business, and reviews of books I’m reading. Eventually I’ll post crap about stuff that’s going on in my real life.††

Okay I think that’s all the pathetic I can manage for one night, I’m going to go have a delicious glass of cranberry-raspberry juice and stitch the firebender symbol now.

EDIT: Holy crap, you guys. I can’t believe I forgot about this: a HUGE thanks to Alexander Ragle, a friend of mine from college and only member of the band Explosions 4 Freedom. He designed the banner you see above (scroll up and stare at it hard for a minute) just for poops and giggles, because I whined on Facebook about wanting a custom banner. Alexander is a Cool Dude,††† so you should go check out his stuff and buy a CD from him, because it is Cool Music and also it doesn’t cost a lot.


* Side note: the coolest graffiti I ever saw, actually, was a very well done portrait of Bob Dylan on the side of a building in an alley just off of the square in Noblesville, IN, by the old courthouse. There was a picture of Calvin & Hobbes nearby as well, but it paled in comparison to Dylan. Sadly, I don’t think it’s there anymore.

** Not this kind of elemental:

*** I couldn’t think of any alliteration to go with this one. It makes me feel kind of disappointed in myself.

† I’m still fairly sure that the pomegranate juice from Thomas Mann‘s Death in Venice didn’t symbolize flipping anything. I think the man liked pomegranate juice. And why shouldn’t he? Pomegranate juice is delicious.

†† I’m just messing about right now because I really haven’t done anything this week except cross-stitch that airbender symbol, do some stuff for the Statesman, and eat sandwiches. I haven’t even done the dishes in a week.

††† One of the reasons I adore Alexander so much is that you really have to pay attention when you’re having a conversation with him. You’ll be talking about one thing and then some crazy brilliant synapse in the guy’s head that is so brilliant that you do not even understand the road it must have taken to communicate to the other synapse fires and you are talking about something that, to you, seems completely unrelated, but really it’s just because you are just not as cool as Alexander.‡

‡ Alexander: I’m serious, conversations with you never get boring because the topics never get worn out. It’s awesome. Also you are the only serious guitarist I’ve met who wasn’t a jerk since the serious guitarist I dated in high school who was a jerk. So yeah. You win all the things.

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