Tag Archives: Fiction

Hamlet and Yoda Got it Right

The word aspiring is a load of crap. 

Ok, sure. The word holds the feelings of hope, determination, and perseverance, which is awesome. It is a great word. But in the context of which I’m talking about, it’s a waste of time.

For years I lived under the title of “Aspiring Writer”. I dreamt of the day when I would be able to tell people, “why yes! I am a writer!” I would then smile proudly, full of mirth and merriment. Yes, for years I looked forward to that day when I would able to shed “Aspiring” from my professional title. And then, one day, I realized something which became quite profound in my writer-y path.

I’m a writer. I write. Whether I’m published or not, whether I make a bazillion dollars or not, whether I rise to the lofty levels of the greatest literary minds or not, I sit down and make stuff up in story form. So, I don’t buy into the whole aspiring adjective thing. I have three stories published to date, and a Young Adult Mini-Series in the works, hoping to be finished sometime in the future (details to follow sometime).

So, if you’re like me, and like to make stuff up (or non-make stuff up), don’t aspire. You are “to be” and “not to be”. And please “do”, as their is no try.

Cheers.

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Finding the balance

At times I feel like Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Especially during the part right before the mild-mannered scientist turns into the Hulk and punches the Massive Flying Metal Dinosaur Robot-thing in the face, he says, “I’m always angry”.

Sometimes I can relate.

Not that I’m going to turn into a monstrous green indestructible guy and rampage the city, but there are times I get frustrated and want to do nothing but yell and say potty words (for the PG audience). In order to work through it, I vent my frustration through music. I have a love of Nine Inch Nails and other “angry” music. On that “artist” side of me, I let myself get lost in the dark, primitive nature of my mind. It’s amazing what the imagination can conjure when in the right (or wrong) frame of mind. I try to channel most of it through me writing a very creepy adult novel and letting the frustration go. I suppose I could exercise and physically drain myself but…y’know, whatever.

But I embrace the balance.

Just as much as I love the angry stuff, I love happy pop bands and traditional world musicians. I will sing along or, just like when I’m frustrated, I fall into the music. There is a certain freedom which comes by opening yourself up and truly taking it all in. I really enjoy listening to “old world” musicians such as Loreena McKennitt and Dead Can Dance and, I have to admit it, Enya’s self-titled first album. While it’s modern and electronic, it has an old Celtic feel to it and it’s great when I’m writing.

So, in finding a balance to my senses of light and dark, I’ve come to enjoy listening to film scores, especially those from the Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes films. Part three of my book takes place in an alternate Victorian London and they all fit perfectly. I can use them for the fun moments with Jac and the other spookier parts with the antagonist and his shadows and machines. Great stuff, but I might be biased.

So, there you go. Not sure if it’s the best way to deal with the black and white that makes up my mind and imagination, but it works for me. I’m sure there are those that say I shouldn’t feed the anger, and I really don’t. I just focus it towards something productive with my art. I have to say, I couldn’t imagine living that way all the time. You need to let it go before it swallows you whole.

Find your balance.

Cheers.

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Milestones Reached!

Milestone!

I’m so happy to report that I have completed Part Three of my four-part novel, “Jac and the City of 1,000 Worlds.” Even though it’s taken me the better part of forever, I’m ecstatic to reach this goal. While I would love to finish the book by this September (I have something forming on the horizon), I’m not going to freak out if I don’t. Like I said in my last post, as long as I continue on, even putting down no more than one single word, I will be achieving my goal.

For those who know me (and, for those that don’t, you will know me once I tell you what I’m about to tell you, so now we’re practically besties), it’s been a bit of a rough road these past 10 years. Of course, there have been some truly amazing and awe-inspiring events, such as my wife actually saying, “I do”, witnessing the birth of our beautiful children, and waking up each morning knowing, even with all that we’ve faced and overcome, how blessed I am.

So here I am, looking back on the past 12/120 months and then look to what the future has in store for me. I’m starting the first year of a new decade and I’ve decided it’s going to be a positive one. I have new goals to reach, new pathways to explore, and new ways to teach and be taught. I’m excited. Scared…but it’s an excited scared, if that makes sense. I look forward to the challenges and mysteries of what tomorrow has to offer. But, of course, I’m not going to forget the joys and miracles that today has to offer. I know I’m blessed. I know, as long as I have my family and friends to support and encourage me, I will reach the next goal and continue to have a wonderful life.

Cheers.

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And So It Goes…

It appears as quickly as things came, they have gone. About two months ago I was presented with the opportunity to man the helm of the Steampunk/Historical Fiction magazine for the eFiction line of magazines. I jumped at the chance and was quite excited about it. Unfortunately, I have stepped down from my position after completion of the first issue. I loved learning the basics  of what it takes to put an e-zine together as well as meeting some great new and veteran writers. I also made some great friendships and many more acquaintances within the writing industry. So, a hearty “Thank You” is given to any and all who made a part of my magazine happen. Please jump over to the Fiction Magazines website and take a look at

PROF. DOBBS’ LITERARY PRIMER FOR THE EXTRAORDINARY

While I don’t have confirmation, it appears as if the magazine is available here:

Barnes & Noble Online

Enjoy,

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Introducing Prof. Dobbs’ Literary PRIMER for the Extraordinary!

‘Prīmər  New-England_Primer

noun.

1. A small introductory book on a subject.

2. A short informative piece of writing.

Welcome ladies and gentlemen! Salutations pupils and experts! My name is Stasey Norstrom and I am the Managing Editor for Professor Dobb’s Literary Primer For The Extraordinary. I have graciously accepted the task of tending to the professor’s ever-expanding library and sharing them in monthly installments. Each issue is dedicated to those new to these exciting realms and to those experts in the field looking to broaden their horizons and continue their education.

With each issue of what I commonly call Primer, you will find a wonderful collection of stories, essays, and reviews pertaining to the gritty and delicate world of Steampunk, as well as historical fiction and alternate historical fiction. You’ll find everything from sky pirates and debutantes to civil war automatons and roman pneumatics. It’s what I call science fiction of futures’ past.

Pull up a chair with your ladies’ group or sit back in your reading room with a snifter of brandy and enjoy our words of other-worldly wisdom.

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IndieReCon

Indierecon-logo4

Now, let me first start by saying I love where I live. It’s a small town of 2,200 and we’re the largest of 5 towns around a “major” city of about 14,000 people. Yes, it’s small. We’re about an hour’s drive from somewhere else and about 2 1/2 hours away from an actual city. The kind of city which has really good food–not just “good enough”–and toilets that flush themselves. Since civilization is so far away, it’s not often that one gets a chance to enjoy such things, let alone special events such as concerts, the choice to see a movie other than the 3 offered in town, and what I’ve affectionately dubbed “Word Nerd Herding”. Other people refer to this as Literary Events or Conventions or Seminars or other such gathering-type noun.

I used to live outside of Portland, Oregon, and there is a great annual literary “festival” (add that to the list) called Wordstock. I’m sure there are dozens of them across the country and hundreds abroad. Unfortunately, living where I do, it make’s it a bit challenging to make a six-hour drive one way to attend a seven or eight-hour festival and then drive back. And even if I stayed over-night, It’s still a lot of expensive driving back and forth.

So…what to do?

A short while back I met a fellow novelist, S.R. Johannes, and from her site I learned about IndieReCon. IndieReCon states they are “the premiere online writer’s conference for the independently minded”. After looking through the site and what was being offered, the conclusion I came to was…cool.

The conference (missed that noun too) is run by and focused towards the self-published “Indie” writers, which many authors nowadays have become. Now, one of things that has drawn me to this conference is the location and admission fees:

Online and free.

That’s a nice combination.

I’m signed up for next year’s gathering scheduled the weekend of 2.19.13-2.21.13. I think it’ll be interesting to see how the virtual conference goes. I hope to make some new acquaintances  and attend some panels with people scattered across the planet. That sounds pretty cool.

Check it out.

I’ll…see?…you there.

Cheers.

-SJn

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Hunting High & Low For People I Don’t Know

Circles

Circles (Photo credit: Fillmore Photography)

Before we begin, I must preface this piece with these words: I tend to draw out the negatives of something before looking at the positives. I find this a bad thing. Nothing like confirming your own fears. Now, that aside, let us proceed.

Calling all writers & readers & in-betweeners:

I’ve been told by a few people that one of the best ways to progress with my novel is to find others in the process of writing their novels. Equal parts therapy group and motivation group, being a part of these groups can help develop one’s story while, at the same time, assist in maintaining one’s sanity. I’ve heard of these writers getting together once and month or so, to share their writings and receive helpful critiques from one another. It seems to be a, “takes a crazy one to know and work with one.”

So, in this arena, I have two possible issues with this notion. The first issue is I currently reside in a major metropolis of 2,200 people and the closest area is even larger with a populace of approximately 13,000. While the possibility of finding a group is small, there is possibility nonetheless. So this issue isn’t really more of an issue as it might be a scavenger hunt of fellow writers working in the YA and/or adventure genres. Again, not impossible, just, y’know.

The second issue—and this is a bit embarrassing to me—is that I know next to no one who is also working on a novel in this genre. And I do think it’s important to find someone(s) in the same ballpark so they can understand/appreciate what I’m trying to achieve. While I could work with someone writing a deep literary piece about two souls trapped alone together (yep, all chock full of metaphors), the other writer and I may not be on the same creative page and therefore might be able to give the best critiques. If your mindset is about a young socially awkward tomboy thrust into a struggle between the waning light and encroaching darkness. But there’s also clockwork soldiers and anthropology and snow globes and a touch of magic thrown in for good measure. I love it. Again, maybe this isn’t an issue either as it is more of a(n) (ir)rational of mine. I’m sure it’s the second option.

See? Not that I can find people and it may take a bit of searching, it’s I hope I can do it. Guh. Don’t tell my wife. It drives her nuts. Me too.

I just chatted with a one Susan Kaye Quinn (a great person and writer) and she directed me to her site where she has a bunch of people listed who could possibly start up or bring me into their writer’s circle to begin the process. Of course she also suggested I “FINISH THE NOVEL” and then go from there. Geez. Get all rational and stuff.

That may take some time, but it never hurts to start looking for people. Finishing my novel would help too.

Off I go.

Cheers.

Ps. See? That last part was pretty positive. Or maybe not. I think I have issues with my positivity. Damn.

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“Next”

English: Dead tree Deutsch: Abgestorbener Baum

English: Dead tree Deutsch: Abgestorbener Baum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weathered hands take turns holding up her head and running though her hair, locking knuckles to keep from doing either. Shoulders sit too high, pressed against her head to keep it from crashing onto the counter. She barely stands, an uprooted tree with a too frail trunk struggling to keep her knobby limbs attached. Her blonde canopy is thin, withered and cracked with bleach. A growing nest of dark roots perch on top.

Another woman behind the counter smiles, patient, yin to frustrated yang. She has warm chocolate  eyes and cheeks creased with years of smile and laughter.

“Copay,” falls out of the dead tree’s mouth, consonants hard and cold. Weak fingers reach inside her purse and nerves take over. Contents fly like shrapnel: a cell phone snaps awake, a too-big keychain rattles the room awake. She socially attempts to ignore the two tampons and shoves everything back inside. She finds her prize and tosses it onto the counter.

“Here,” and her insurance card falls dead into the happy woman’s lap.

Welcome to the Waiting Room.

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Interview: What I Did With My Summer (and Spring) Vacations – OR – Where Has The Time Gone?

Interview

Interview (Photo credit: smiling_da_vinci)

Me: Well, hello there. It’s been a long time. How are you?

You: [pleasant and appropriate response. Pleasant return question.]

Me: I’m fine. A little tired right now (without proper caffeine, 4-ish hours of sleep tends to make one a touch tired), but otherwise I’m hanging in there.

You: [agreeing response. Friendly inquiry as to my goings on these past four-five months.]

Me: What have I been up to? Well, let’s see: my wife brought into our world a brand-spanking new beautiful baby girl. She showed up a bit earlier than we had planned and so we spent some extra time to make sure she was ready to come home. And since she’s been home, I’ve found it near impossible to stop chewing on her toes and to keep from staring into her steel blue eyes all day. Her laugh is deep and her smile is pure joy.

She’s magic.

You: [amazed response with heartfelt congratulations. Comment along the lines of, “sounds like you’ve been busy”.]

Me: Indeed. On top of that, we decided to move during this summer as well. Granted, the move was in-town (a whopping 0.4 miles between homes), but doing the majority of it with an infant did provide its fair share of challenges. Fortunately, we have some awesome friends that helped with the big pieces and together we got all moved in and (most) boxes unpacked.

You: [general inquiry as to the progression of writing or other projects.]

Me:  With the arrival of the little one, I did put Jac And The City of 1,000 Worlds on hold while we adjusted to a new life and a new routine and new sleeping schedules. I’ve spent the last month reacquainting myself with Jac and her accidental adventure. I was really excited to find out that I really like the story. While that may sound a bit odd for a writer to say that, I spent many years looking at stories I had completed and hating them or spending my time thinking about how I could have made them better.

You: [off-handed comment regarding degrading one’s own work.]

Me: A bit ridiculous, isn’t it? I spent a long time languishing in the classic and self-induced Struggling Artist where nothing is good enough and all attempts end up in gnashing of teeth, tearing up my work, and casting them into the flames of my own creative misery.

Not exactly the most productive way to spend one’s time.

You: [absolute agreement.]

Me: So, now I look back at my previous (and current) works with joy and pride. Even in my younger years, the stories I wrote, are great ones. While the tools and language of my trade were not yet fully developed, it’s great to see and recognize that I have come a long way from my hormone and angst-filled days of high school. Thankfully.

You: [genuine gladness with the new ideology.]

Me: Me too.

You: [general inquiry into anything else I want to discuss.]

Me: I want to say thank you to everyone who has and continues to support me. My friends, my awesome beta-reader (relax! the book ain’t writing itself you know!), and my extended and immediate family. I have three wonderful children and I count my blessings every time I think of them. But, most important of all, is my wife. By far the most impatiently patient woman I have ever known, he

r love and support and encouragement drive me to become a better writer, father, and husband. While I may spend a lot of my time with my head in the clouds, she’s there to make sure I don’t drift off into space.

Thank you, honey. I love you so much.

You: [happiness with my sentiments.]

Me: I think we’ll need to wrap things up here on my end. I have a sleeping baby and that’s precious time to write and to do the laundry.

Take care.

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miTunes: the voices in my head can harmonize

Treble clef with transposition

Treble clef with transposition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love music.

While it may sound a little cheesey to say music feeds the soul, I find music can help recharge my internal battery or calm my emotional storm. And not only do I love music on a deeply personal level, I find discovering a film score or collection of songs can take me and my writing to a whole other level.

All the way back to high school, I recall putting together “soundtracks”. While others simply refered to them as mixed tapes, I always seemed to wrap a theme around the songs. At first the tapes started out as “fast songs” and “slow songs” and, as an old friend simply called his tape, “good stuff” (for fear of getting in trouble with his parents, he refrained from originally wanting to name his mix “great shit”).

A few years after high school, I began working on my comic series, Chance and I stumbled across a couple of songs that fit the theme of my series perfectly. Next thing I knew, I was digging through my collection of music, looking for the perfect songs to put together. My search soon spilled over into other’s music and, a few weeks later, I had completed my very first soundtrack.

Across the past 20 years I have assembled a soundtrack for every story I’ve written. From Nine Inch Nails and Sisters of Mercy to Enya and John Williams, each soundtrack has helped me find my voice and draw inspiration from. A good portion of my book, Jac And The City Of 1,000 Worlds, takes place in the fantastical and otherworldly city of Meridian. Looking through my collection, I found myself listening to a collection of Enigma, Loreena McKennitt, and Dead Can Dance, along with the score to Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone. Now that the story has moved to a setting in late 1800’s London, my musical choices are shifting more towards the latter Harry Potter films (darker, heavier) the steampunk group Abney Park and the ghost-trance Burial.

Music means a lot to me on many different levels. Not only can can music convey love and despair, but it can also invoke  the world in my mind and the cast of characters residing inside.

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