Friday, March 8, 2013

Did it

Status: Whoa

What's on Spotify?  CULT OF PERSONALITY by Living Colour

'Ello, 'ello,

Yes, it looks like another month has hurtled past our faces since I've blogged last but I have a reeeeeeeal good reason.  I done just got published, my friends. 

As of Feb, 18, 2013, DRYNN shot out into the digital ether like a flaming boulder from a trebuchet. *laughing at own simile* The feedback?  Perma-grin inducing.  

Probably the coolest thing was while at work (Maxs Oyster Bar in West Hartford for those who don't know me personally), I walk past two of my buds and at the edge of my hearing I hear "...and he's got this ridgebone growing out of the middle of his forearms..." and then "...and she jumps right over the car with that ax..." and I realized, hey, they're talking about my book!  Just like they might talk about last night's game!  I wasn't even part of the conversation which made it all that much cooler, in fact I've had a number of people who devoured it in under three days!  It's hard to give a writer a better compliment. 

Speaking of the MOB (Max's Oyster Bar), I can't say enough about how supportive my crew has been, as well as management, and even my guests.  Some of my first readers were the servers I work with, and because I've worked there for over nine years now I've had guests coming in before I even finished DRYNN, who've been following my progress for years.  "Any news on the book?" is a common question, and I've been blessed enough to more times than not give them a new update. :)  

It's funny, because now that I'm here, I've entered a WHOLE new universe.  Exciting yes, intimidating...perhaps a wee bit, nothing I can't handle of course, but I'm in total sponge mode now.  Suddenly there's podcasts, guest blogs, promotions, Twitter, FB, Tumblr, all kinds of stuff that takes a bit of time to get my brain wrapped around.  Fortunuately, I love connecting with people so theoretically, I should do splendidly, it's just getting to that state of mind where I feel like I own it. 

I look forward to being able to feel that. :) 

I'll finish Too Young For Manticores next week. ;)

Steve out

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Too Young for Manticores

Status:  Chipper

What's playing on Spotify?  RUSTED WHEEL by Silversun Pickups

I used to smoke. I was never that guy who rolled out of bed and lit up the instant conciousness was breached, but I was a pack a day for a good five years, long enough to be...a smoker.  

My stepfather at the time was putting on some pounds and I suggested that working out might be wise.  He just looked me. So I sweetened the deal, I told him that if he started working out, I'd quit smoking. I didn't actually think he was going to do it.  

Granted, he didn't do it immediately.  In fact, I moved away for six months and actually forgot about our little bet until I came back and he was thirty pounds lighter, tan and flushed with life. Racquetball.  After we hugged, he looked at me, looked at the pack of Marlboro Lights resting next to my keys and said, "That's your last pack, bitch."

And it was. I remember being pissed because I had only three cigarettes left.  Three piddly, measly cigarettes just didn't seem like enough of a head's up before I took the big plunge into non-smokedom.  But what could I do? If I didn't quit I'd be a punk, and that was unacceptable.  Ain't no punks around these parts.  So...I quit.  One offhand, half kidding bet that probably changed the course of my life. 

My quest into becoming a novelist began a little something like that.  Fate and an offhand dismissal. 

A dare. 

Twelve years old.  Over my big cousin's house who I thought was the coolest kid in the universe.  Rummaging through his stuff while he was talking on the phone I stumble on the craziest creature I've ever seen in my life--a picture of a manticore.  Body of a lion, head of a man, wings of a bat and the tail of a scorpion (or spikes, pick your folklore), I was riveted.  I'd never seen anything like it before in my life.  Never even imagined it. 

I asked my cousin if it was a good book and he was like, "Oh my God, yeah, it's awesome!  Best book I ever read." 

Of course, when I asked him if I could read it, he said, no way.  Evidently he thought I was too young.  Too young!  I was twelve for crying out loud.  He then pried the book from my fingers and placed it back onto his bookshelf next to the other two, and these books were even cooler.  The second book had a centaur, griffin, and a sword-wielding man fighting a dragon.  I couldn't take my eyes off it, I even remember sniffing the book, as if I might smell the char of fire or hear the ring of steel.  The last book had a warrior and a giant spider on the front looking at a castle being built by centaurs. 

I NEEDED to read these books.  Which was nuts because before that moment I was just like any other healthy seventh grade boy; I thought reading was a waste of time.  Why read when there were video games to be played?  Until now.

I begged, cajoled, pleaded, threatened until finally he said, "Fine!  You're not going to understand any of it any but you better treat them well.  They're like treasure." 

I started reading them that day.  On that afternoon, life as I knew was altered forever as I was plunged into a magical realm where every person was born with a magical talent, be it a purple spot on the wall or the ability to conjure flying swords into trees.  I was spellbound. 

To be continued my friends.  It's a cool little story but I've discovered I prefer blogs to be short and sweet.  Allow me to pay that forward.  Plus, it makes next week's blog's topic easy to figure out. :)

-Steve out

Friday, January 11, 2013

And so it begins

Status:  Right on

What's playing on iTunes?  D'YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? by Oasis

What's this?  *gasp* An actual blog from the blogger of this site??

Yes, my friends, entire galaxies have died and been reborn in the interim between my entries.  All I can say is a thousand apologies and that zeese veel change.  New Year's resolutions and all, and besides, I have a thing or two to share. 

A lil' somethin' somethin' happened to me in 2012.  No big deal, really, just a lifetime dream realized.  It would appear that I am now an author. 

Dun dun dun dunnnnnnn....      

This is the first book in my trilogy at Carina Press, and I couldn't be prouder.  Just writing that makes me smile.  How long have I been running down this dream?  Sixteen years?  Something like that?  Anybody who knows me knows that I was afflicted with a severe bout of procrastination from birth, and yet at the same time...I never give up.  Try and figure that one out.  Fortunately, as I've matured, I've exorcised that procrastination with a flame thrower, and now... *big smile* I'm in the arena.  

Of course, this has been a journey I haven't made alone.  Though I've spent several quadrillion hours staring at a computer screen, burying my head in my hands whenever my story would plow into a mountain side or raising both fists in delirious triumph whenever my characters would come to life and grab me by the throat, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the people around me.

There are so many people I'd love to thank: 

The handshake:  The late Mr. Atkins, my fifth grade teacher, who looked me in the eyes while shaking my hand and in a gesture, changed my life.  Thank you, Mr. Atkins, for believing in me. 

The good lie:  Mr. MacNeil, my tenth grade teacher, who promised me he wouldn’t reveal my name if I let him read my words aloud to class…but did anyways.  After jaws had dropped (including mine).  Thank you, Mr. MacNeil, for making me feel like the smart kid for the first time in my life, for your passion and direction. 
The mentor:  Linnea Sinclair, author extraordinaire, for choosing my restaurant to eat in that night and for being so gracious to read my first chapter, for taking me under your wing, for showing me the techniques to study and master and for making the phone call.  Without you, I would not be here.  Thank you, Linnea. 

The phonecall:  And where did that phone call go?  To Sara Megibow, my fabulous agent, champion and fellow ENFP.   Thank you, Sara, for your sparkle, tenacity and belief, and for making this journey with me.  You are the very definition of awesome sauce. 
The editor:  Rhonda Helms, both editor and author (which I think is so cool), for adding the final ingredients to this book like a master chef.  Thank you, Rhonda, for your brilliance and flavor.

The queen bee:  Angela James, for your help, openness and friendship right from the start.  Thank you, Angela for your faith in me.  Even if you are a Vikings fan. 
The Carina Team:  To Tara Stevens and her team at the Art Department for such a great cover, to Melissa at marketing, and to all the other behind the scenes players that create the magic…thank you, all. 

The Max crew:  To my peers at the Oyster Bar, who cheered me on and shared in my victories, and to management for always working with me and my chaotic schedule.  Thank you, crew, Maxs Oyster Bar and the rest of the group. 

My Yin:  My dearest friend Rachelle Brady, for jumping in the trenches with me, for the late nights and early mornings.  For inspiring me.  Thank you, my lady. 

My Yang: My best friend, Richard Duquette, for being there at the starting line.  And at the finish line when I needed you the most.  Thanks, numbnuts. 

Brother-in-arms: Jester, for watching my six, making it fun, and for always being there.  Thanks, Jester.   Let’s do this. 

The crew:   Kristi, Diana, Teri, Shara, Alejandro, Erique, Jeffrey, Erica, Dylan, Jordan, Mike, Mike & Jay, Kimmy, Bee, Tia Mimi, Tia Alba (I miss you so much), Tio Ballardo , Troy, S.A.D.D.E.N. and all my other friends and family who always believed in me.  Even when I didn’t.  Thank you, all. 

The glue:  Allison Norman, A.K.A. Ally, for holding this family together and watching out for Pops.  Thanks, Ally, this would have never happened without you. 

The best parents in the universe:  Dad, for being you, for making me feel special from my first memory, for your guidance, jokes and insults, for being my best friend.  Mom, for your love, for reading to me as a child, for reading and stapling all those drafts, for your prayers and encouragement, for telling me that if I wrote…I was a writer.  I love you both past the Andromeda. 

To my sister Vanessa: Thank you for inspiring me, for believing in me utterly and completely, every single time, for making me want to live with honor and passion, for forgiving being the best sister that ever was.  Thank you, Ness.  And I'll forever be sorry. 

Lastly but not least: God.  Thank you for your blessings and all the things I take for granted daily, for your love and for all the little creating me.  Thank you, God. 

I can hear the clicking of the chain as my rollercoaster rises.  Snap on those seatbelts, friends, because hair is about to get blown back... ;) 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Return of Dungeons and Dragons

STATUS: Spring Fever

What's playing on Pandora? MIDNIGHT CITY by M83

I am a Dungeon Master.

The hilarious thing is that I thought those days were forever behind me; last time I ran a campaign I was sixteen years old down in Tarpon Springs with Mike, Mike and Jason, forfeiting entire weekends on a regular basis (when we weren't dodging helicoptors).

I would devote entire weeks and months to a quest, (which is a lot for a teenager) drawing maps, going to the library to research medieval cities, drawing them, creating personalities for the weapons smiths and potion-sellers within them, researching the baddest weapons around, monsters and creatures--we were addicted.

And then I grew up. Discovered girls and... evolved. *evil chuckle* Not so much. I'll buy you a cup of coffee if you can guess what genre I write as a novelist?

So, a couple of months ago, my bro says to me, "Tell me about Dungeons and Dragons, you used to be a Dungeon Master, right?" A long dormant head peeked from the recesses of my mind.  "I was," I say to him.  "Tell me about it," he says, "what's it like, is it any fun?" 

My poor friend never had a chance, but what's funny is that I forgot how stupendous the allure of  D & D was.  Even as I began the process of explanation (I definitely need to perfect a succinct pitch for it) my passion won the day because not only did he want to play, but he recruited other players from the Sunnyside Crew, even two girls!  Dun dun dun dunnnnn... Could it be even possible to get two girls (one of which hated Lord of the Rings) to even last an hour in the mystical realms of THEIA, where magic rules in the stead of science?  Surely not! 

But in true Jester fashion, my best bro bought candles, Lego action figures and the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings to play in the back; we didn't even do this back in the day.  Aaaand, I'm all grown up now, I can drink a Yuengling or a glass of california Pinot Noir if I want!  Of course, I just end up drinking coke and crunching jalepeno kettle potato chips, but I could if I wanted.

Long story short, they got SUCKED in, in fact, as much as we guys love it, the girls got into it even more, and that isn't an exaggeration.  I embellish nothing!  As for me, of course it was cool, even so many years later, but it was old hat to me, to them, it was like the first time they'd ever seen a television, and, although I was rusty, I am a novelist after all... I gave them a good adventure.

Fast forward.  Now, we have a club. A Facebook page and everything--S.A.D.D.E.N. Jesse and Helen went out and got lego horses and cloaks and weapons and this upcoming weekend, a "long session of Dungeons and Dragons" is the only birthday wish of Ishmael, the good-looking dwarf. Who knew that all these years later, I would be bonding and having fun and sharing the world which inhibits my mind with those I care about the most??  Looks like Dungeons and Dragons is back in the house.  And we even have a mascot... Domo-San the Corgi!

Sometimes not even the most dazzling graphics in a video game can substitute the mind's imagination.  Hoo-ya.  And it keeps the world-building part of my brain sharp. 
-Steve out

Friday, February 24, 2012

When is it Plagiarism?

STATUS: Calmly nail-biting

What's playing on the iPhone: LONELY BOY by the Black Keys

I hate cliches. 

The most insidious thing about them is that they will sneak up on you, pounce, and carve you into a steak before you even smell their breath. Terrible things, cliches. So, recently, I Googled 'cool metaphors' ('cause I needed to avoid a cliche) and came upon a slew of gems, delicious entries of high school students for a contest. The first thing I thought to myself was "mwa ha ha haI have to implement these into my repertoire," but then I thought... would that be plagiarism?

I didn't think of them, I may have given the time, or something equally as cool, but I didn't, and I desired them. If I'd come up with some cool metaphors and somebody starting using them instead of stupid-hack cliches, I'd be flattered. Of course that's just me.

Along the same lines, if you're at the coffee shop and some person at another table says some snappy come-back that you later incorporate into a bit of dialogue... is that plagiarism? I don't think so, writers are influenced from all sorts of things, but I don't know!

What say you?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting Irked By A Master

Status: Groggy But Happy

What's playing on the iPhone: I GET IT by Chevelle

I can't remember the last time I read a book that both annoyed the living crap out of me and kept me riveted at the same time. Until today.

And what book, you may ask, could evoke such two polar opposite reactions from someone normally inclined to love an author they consider both a master and a mentor from afar? (that would be Stephen Frickin' King, one of my all time favorites)


First off, it was awesome. I'd recommend it to anyone. HOWEVER, and this is a big fat however, it downright irked me, had me clenching my jaws and rolling my eyes, not the story mind you, that was just about flawless, but something the author did.

If there’s one rule I’ve learned—well, I’ve learned hundreds—but in the top three, one of the most crucial qualities of any good story is that the reader MUST be able to suspend belief in reality and that can’t happen if the AUTHOR keeps flinging out political zingers. It’s jarring, annoying, and it takes me right out of my reading zone. Granted, Stephen King is one of the few authors who can wield the omniscient pov with dazzling proficiency, but the danger is that connection between character and reader can be broken, especially if ideology trumps story. Blech!

Whether I agree, disagree, or am indifferent to the author’s ideology, if it detracts from the story, even if only to illicit a ‘hell yeah’, a few layers of illusion are swiped away. Don’t get me wrong, I love rooting for a character, but note my use of ‘character’, not author. Even as I write this I could play devil’s advocate with myself; some authors get off on pushing their point of view across, might even say that it adds flavor to a story and some readers might dig that, just not this reader. It always comes down to the story, and as a writer, I want a fifteen year old hipster saying that was bad-ass, and I want a seventy-two year old Greek Grandmother saying, ‘that was bad-ass’. Is it possible? Of course it is. Just got to find the right story. Which I aim to do.

Numerous times. Mwa ha ha ha ha.

My point is this: If I didn't love Stephen King so much I probably would have dropped that book. I was offended. Not by the ideology, to that i say whatever blows your hair back, but to the method in which it was employed... one-sided, without giving creedance to an opposing viewpoint. Maybe it's the Libra in my first four houses, but a flag goes up when I see that and... I got miffed. And if I did, I bet you a bunch of other readers did too. Unless you're trying to alienate a block of readers, at least be evenhanded. That's my take.

Steve out.

P.S. Despite saying all that, I still must say… UNDER THE DOME was bad-ass.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Soul Tank--A Writer's Best Friend

Status: Bleary-eyed but chugging

What's playing on the iPod: THROUGH GLASS by Stone Sour

Everybody has a soul tank.

At the present, mine is brimming like a mug of dark roast coffee with no room for cream. The question I'm sure you're asking is: What the heck is a soul tank? And why should I give a rat's furry butt?

Easy enough. Allow me to begin by offering an example. Today I got some bad news, bordering on tragic. I won't bore you with the details, but instead of looking for my handy tanto (Japanese shortsword) to commit seppaku with, I did what I always do when I'm emotional. I wrote. Not only did I write, but I wrote sixteen pages of nearly flawless brilliance, quite the contrast from the clump of gerbil niblets I pumped out yesterday. The trick was simple--the settings of my soul tank.

The soul tank is a crossroads of the heart and mind, the vessel within us where we take that volatile, flammable and concentrated emotion and convert it. The question is...convert it into what?

Most people's soul tanks are set to default. Some shop, some eat, and some sing, while others spontaneously combust taking as many people with them as they can. It could be used to catapault the Space Shuttle into orbit, neglected and allowed to dissipate, or abused to leave a Nagasaki-sized crater in our souls and beyond. I myself am a big fan of the exosphere so my settings are on growth, learning, and of course creation via my own writing.

Some of the most touching songs I've ever heard were written by artists mortally wounded by heartbreak or by the elation of true love that transcends the normal spectrum of experience.

I sure hope I'm not sounding preachy, it's just a little visual I came up with to help keep me all woo-sah when the need arises. I figured that if everybody did a little rummaging within themselves, found the dials and set them to what they wanted them to be, the world would be less fugeize. And that's always a good thing, right?

What are your settings?