Don’t call it a comeback! No, seriously—don’t.

Ah, December. The temperature plummets, people stop complaining about Christmas decorations being out too early and start complaining about Christmas music being played too often. It’s a special time, and it feels like the time is right to return to my friends here in the blogosphere (Blogtopia? Blogopolis?). Yeah baby, I’m back!

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So, what can I tell you about my vacation from blogging? Well, I stayed true to my word and wrote like a freakin’ bandit. I mentioned before I went away about the opening of the vomit hatch; said hatch has stayed open and the vomit speweth forth like a geyser (you’re welcome for the visual).

I can’t call the (sorry to say) as-yet-untitled novel I was working on completely finished yet, but it’s close—I’d say 85-90%. Mostly just some minor tweaks here and there, quintuple checking for typos and punctuation errors, and then I think we’re cooking with gas. I put it aside while I figure out a solution to my printing dilemma—i.e., I can’t print right now—and to get some much needed feedback from eyes other than the ones in my head, and then I think I’m popping the cork on some champagne and celebrating the completion of my first novel. With any luck, it will be finished (and titled!) by spring.

In the meantime, as I said the vomit hatch couldn’t be closed if I tried, so I let it flow. I had started a novel that I had to stop to do some research (a wiser man may have done the research before starting the novel, but I digress), and decided to dig back in. Instead of picking up where I left off, I decided to start over with a complete rewrite and currently stand at 21k words. I’m anxious to tell you about how I’ve kept up my incredible (for me) word count, but not now. Next time.

I’m still having a bit of an identity crisis when it comes to what to do with the blog. Between how much I’m writing and my work schedule I’m not watching as much TV (enjoying Gotham, on the fence about this season of American Horror Story), and movies only here and there (finally saw World War Z—liked it but it seemed a tad anti-climactic).

I’m still reading steadily, but I don’t really have much interest in littering the blog with book reviews of every single book I read. I may still post the occasional review for any book that really rocks my world, but otherwise I’m thinking of posting little micro-reviews on Goodreads, so if you utilize that particular facet of social media and haven’t done so already, friend me on the double, buster!

(On a side note, no review, but I just finished 11/22/63 and thought it was pretty superb. I would point to this book for people who don’t like Stephen King and suggest they maybe give it a shot; it’s something special.)

And what else is new? The website, for starters. I don’t know how apparent it is on mobile devices, but I gave the site a much-needed facelift and reorganized the menus. Also, most exciting of all, I added a few of my stories! I became increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that I’m a fiction writer and had none of my fiction available to read, so I did something about that. There’s now a drop down menu with some of my flash fiction for you to peruse at your leisure, so if you haven’t read ’em before (two were on the blog previously, the others are the ones I got published this year—the rights reverted from the magazines back to me, so I put them on here), give ’em a look.

That’s about it for now—just sort of an awkward wave hello (after all, awkward is what I do best) to let you guys know I’m back in the saddle. It’s really good to be back. So, how have you all been?

And Now, For a Brief Intermission

It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 20 months (almost to the day, coincidentally) since I started the blog. I’ve taken it seriously and I think it’s done wonders both for my writing itself and my mental state while trying to find my footing as a struggling author. The friends I’ve made and support I’ve gotten from WordPress and beyond has far exceeded my naive expectations when I sat dumbly in front of my computer in February 2013. That being said, it’s time for a wee little break.

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It’s nothing serious, no big departure, just a little break. And believe me when I say, it’s not you, it’s me.

See, here’s what happened: when I started the blog, I was still figuring out what I was trying to do with my writing (something I’m still trying to figure out, but that’s beside the point). Even though I’d finished a novella and thought (god help me, I really did) I was ready to try and get it published or self-publish, I still had no real idea what I was doing. I was like the monkey they say you could sit in front of a keyboard and eventually it would write Shakespeare—except instead of Shakespeare it was a mediocre-to-poor kidnap/torture thriller.

But I really wanted to get after it and make things happen, and so I forced myself to jump in with both feet and start blogging. As I did so, I realized how far behind I really was. I was nowhere near ready to publish anything but blog posts, and I decided the best thing to do was stick to a strict schedule and keep at it. I’ve tried my best to crank out at least one post a week and, with a few exceptions, I’ve done a pretty good job of doing just that. I was using the blog as a crutch to hold me up and keep me writing while I tried to hone my skills and strengthen my story-telling muscles. There were ebbs and flows, but I kept at it.

Then I hit a patch a couple months ago where I felt dead in the water. I had drafts of short stories that I didn’t know how to finish, and longer projects that I couldn’t wrap my head around. I finally decided on a project to make the first novel and went to it, writing about 16k words before the new job and life caused me to stall out a little bit—then I got stuck again.

I went into the comments on one of Chuck Wendig’s posts and whined about how I felt stuck and couldn’t seem to make myself put words on the page. I received a comment back from author Kay Camden (link to her awesome website). It was simple, succinct, and to the point:

“Stop thinking. Start writing. Open the vomit hatch. Let it out.” (NOTE: DO NOT GOOGLE THE PHRASE “VOMIT HATCH.”)

That might not sound like much, but it was exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it (sidenote: what is it about vomit as a metaphor for writing? it’s so oddly fitting). I said to myself, You know what? She’s right. What the hell are you waiting for? And so I kicked myself in the ass and started typing. In the two months that followed, I proceeded to knock out about 50k words and finish the rough draft. Not exactly the Tasmanian Devil behind the keyboard, but as productive a stretch as I’ve ever had.

And the best part? It’s hasn’t really let up. I wanted to let the story breathe a little before I jumped into edits and rewrites, so I turned to three unfinished short stories and have made tremendous progress with those, finishing two and hopefully wrapping up the third in the next few days. By next week I should be ready to tackle the second draft of the novel.

My late friend Mike (RIP, buddy) once compared writing to having a fever (there it is again—writing as a kind of sickness), where you’re consumed by this need, this compulsion to get the stories out of your head and onto the page. I never really felt that way. I mean, I have stories to tell and all that, but I could go a day without writing and be just fine. Two days, even. Hell, a week. But once I opened the vomit hatch I haven’t been able to close it completely since. Every spare minute I have I want to be writing, rewriting, or editing, or it’s time wasted. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch my  TV shows and movies; I still read my books. But you know what I mean.

I have Vomit Hatch Fever.

All of which brings me back to this dear, sweet blog o’mine. There have been more than one occasion in the last year and eight months where I felt like I had run out of things to write about, and I would manage to pull a post out of thin air and make my self-imposed weekly deadline. Lately it feels like all I’ve been writing are book reviews, and to be honest I’m bored with that. Couple that with the fact that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when many writers (and bloggers) are strapped to a chair with a coffee IV and a catheter (possible slight exaggeration) trying to meet the challenge of writing 50k words by the end of the month, and it just seemed like a natural time to take a little break so I can focus solely on writing and recharge the blogging batteries.

So this will be my last post for a while, probably until the beginning of December. I’m going spend November knee deep in semicolons and em-dashes, with piles of unnecessary commas littered about like punctuation shrapnel in the Great Writing War. Whenever I think of something that would be a good idea for the blog I’m going to jot it down so I have things to write about when I come back, and I have a feeling the site is due for a bit of a facelift, so things may look a little different when you visit next.

Any of you that want to keep in touch outside of WordPress and haven’t done so already, feel free to send me a friend request on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

I hope to come back revitalized and full of great posts. My biggest fear? That you wonderful readers will find another insecure, socially awkward writer to follow in my absence, and when I confront you about it, sitting in the glow of your screen reading that other person’s blog, you cry out defensively:

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5 Things I’ve Learned After a Year of Blogging

This is slightly premature, but let’s go with it: late February marks my one year anniversary here on the blog (blogiversary?). Yessiree, it’s been a whole 12 months since I started this thing…my, how things have changed. What have I learned in the past year? Let’s take a look back…The Books of Jobe, this is your life!

1. I was a naive, ignorant turd to think I was ready to try and publish a book.

That sounds a bit harsh, but it’s true. I started the blog because I was finishing up a novella that I was considering either submitting to publishers or self publishing via Amazon. As I delved into the blogosphere I realized a couple of things: There were a lot of other aspiring writers out there with excellent blogs of their own, and I was nowhere near ready to publish anything (although I did submit my novella once before coming to my senses). Reading the blogs of fellow writers showed me how far I really had to go to become a writer of any real quality.

2. I had no idea how far-reaching my blog could be.

As I reviewed my stats, I was not entirely surprised to see people from Canada and the UK popping up. Then I saw India, Australia, and Denmark. Wow, this blogging thing is more popular than I thought. Then came countries like Pakistan, Tanzania, Israel, and Budapest. Really? I’m still floored by how many different countries are listed in my site stats. Granted, a lot of them are just 1 view, but still, I had no clue as to the global reach of WordPress.

3. People are freakin’ creepy.

I had read other bloggers’ stories. I knew the freaks were out there. For anyone reading not familiar with how WordPress works, it will show you how many people were referred to your blog from search engines and, in some cases, what specific search terms they entered. There are true horror stories out there about what types of perverted things people typed into Google to wind up where they did. My cringe-inducing winner? Someone found my blog by searching for the term “daddy watching jailbait daughter masturbate.” All together now—*shudder* As a side note, my site came up on that search because of the post I wrote about creepy song lyrics. NO OTHER REASON.

4. I could apparently have the most popular blog of all time if I devoted more posts to this bug.

Last April, I was at the beginning of the A to Z blogging challenge. I was on the letter B and decided to devote a post to the godforsaken bugs that feast on the seeds of the golden rain tree in our front yard. Aside from the post I wrote that WordPress promoted as Freshly Pressed, that post about bugs is far and away my most viewed post. I mean, seriously—by a mile. It’s not even funny. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t have at least one view on that post or some combination of the words ‘golden rain tree bug’ in the search terms. If I was more ambitious I suppose I I could consider starting another blog devoted to the little bugger, but I’ve got more than enough on my plate as it is.

5. I needed this blog more than I thought.

I started the blog thinking it was basically some sort of publicity tool and nothing more. I didn’t know anyone who had a blog, and although I heard the word all over the place, I associated blogs more with things like Perez Hilton and Gossip Girl. I had no clue what awaited me once I went down the rabbit hole.

Although I haven’t met any of my WordPress friends in person, I wouldn’t hesitate to call a good number of you friends. I’ve friended or been friended by a few of you on Facebook (which, coincidentally, all of you are free to do—don’t worry, I don’t post much), connected on Twitter, even one LinkedIn connection that I still don’t know what to do with. The point is, a year ago none of those relationships existed. And while I assume some of these connections may help me sell some books whenever I’m ready to publish (be it traditional or indie), I see now that’s not the real point. The point is support and encouragement while I work to make my writing better and get myself published, because if any of you out there haven’t heard, writing is hard goddamn work. I honestly don’t know if I could’ve stuck with it if I was still doing it alone.

Thanks for reading, everybody.

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I Just Finished The Rough Draft To My First Novel…Why Aren’t I More Happy About It?

I finished the rough draft to my first novel.  It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, which I guess should be a good sign.  But the thing is, even though I do feel a sense of accomplishment, overall I just have this feeling of all-consuming dread.

I see so many gaping holes in the plot and timeline it makes my head spin. The ending is a little weak.

Rewrites and revisions will probably take quite a while, especially with summer coming on and my work schedule picking up, plus the never-ending yard work and my tireless battle with the bugs that always come about this time of year.

After thinking it over for a while, though, I guess I am pretty happy about it. I have a lot of ideas about fixing what doesn’t work and making what does work even better, and I’m really happy with the general premise for the story. I think it mixes a few elements of outright horror with the tension of a suspense story. Time will tell.

This is also a bit of an experiment for me. My past projects, I would write until I got stuck, then go back and edit until I had an idea or felt inspired to pick back up where I left off. With the new book, though, I just steamrolled through the rough draft, leaving everything to be edited and rewritten later.

I hope to go through it one more time fairly soon and make some of the changes I thought of while I was writing, then I’m just going to let it sit for at least a month or two while I finish editing my second novella and the short stories I’ve written in the past few weeks.

In the meantime, I’ll try to keep blogging at least once a week or more, if I think of topics that interest me. This is the longest gap between blog posts since the A to Z challenge started in April, and it feels weird. I want to keep connected to the blogosphere, and I’ve noticed if I’m not blogging myself I’m not keeping up on everyone else’s blogs either. So my apologies to my fellow blogger friends I’ve made in the past couple months, I’ll get back on track and catch up on your blogs!