Digging Up the Past, or Getting Your Hands Dirty With History

“You have to know the past to understand the present.”
-Carl Sagan

As someone who enjoys history, I spend a lot of time looking to the past. This weekend started out with the topic on Pairanormal, the radio show that I co-host at TMV Cafe  about the real life serial killer in which the legendary Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, was based upon. 18th century London, England where he lived is a facinating subject in and of itself. And I love to study anything that has to do with the history of England, partly because that’s where most of my ancesters are from.

I’ve also been working on a story that takes place in the Victorian Era of the 19th century, for John Manning’s  horror anthology “Terror by Gaslight”, so I’ve been reading up on that time period a bit to make sure I have a good feel for the age and its trappings. One of the things I love to do as a writer, is research a topic, which invariably leads me to other interesting topics. Then I get so caught up in the joy of the research, that I don’t actually sit down and finish writing the damn story until it’s almost time to turn it in before deadline. That’s where I’m at right now with this story, so I had better put the books down and get cracking at it already.

However, seeing as the weather was nice today, my daughter and I had the idea that it would be fun to finally dig up a couple of ammonite fossils that had come to the surface of my front yard. That combined with a few other chores and errands that needed to be done, I didn’t accomplish as much writing today as I would have liked.  But I must say, that my ammonite collection is coming along nicely. One of them managed to only have a small piece on the underside break off, but was otherwise completely intact. It has a beautiful spiral pattern that is very well defined and may be the best looking specimen that I’ve gotten form my yard to date. The other one we were not so lucky with as a good portion of the underside had been removed from tree roots growing through it. Still, the topside looks quite nice, good enough to put in my fossil garden. By my reasoning, with all these ammonites in my yard, there may be a fossilized ichthyosaur or plesiosaur skeleton in my yard just waiting to be found. But then, I’m no expert, and I write fiction so you really can’t believe anything that I tell you anyway. Fun fact: Ammonites are named after the Egyptian god Ammon who was depicted as having rams horns on his head.

If you like audiobooks, this one of  “A Man and His God“, a Sacred Band Tale, by Janet Morris, with voice work by David Kudler will be available soon. You can listen to a couple of free excepts of the audiobook here on David’s blog at Stillpoint Digital Press. from listening to the excepts it sounds like a great voice work, and a wonderful addition to the Sacred Band series.

Well that’s a wrap for this week’s blog, not much else of note going on right now, but check in next week because you never know what I’ll be up to by then.  Until next time, I’ll leave you with another pithy quote:

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

-Lewis Carroll

Don’t Fear the Dark, or Support Indie Artists!

“Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.”
– Lao Tzu

Hey everyone! Thanks for checking out this latest episode of blogging from The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat. It has been a busy weekend indeed.

Yesterday I attended the monthly meeting of the North Texas Dieselpunks which included a presentation on the art and architecture of ancient Egypt and its influence on the Art Deco style of the early to mid 20th century and its connection with the Dieselpunk movement. Larry and Tina Amyett did a wonderful and informative slide show presentation that included many excellent images and photographs.

Saturday night I had the honor of being interviewed by one of my biggest fans and supporters, Jenn M who writes a blog called Brewed Bohemian. We sat down at a little place called Roots Coffee House. She was kind enough to buy me a cup of tea and I chose the loose leaf Earl Grey which was excellent. It was the first time I have been interviewed in person and it was a wonderful experience. There were some great questions and I know I rambled on through a lot of my answers, but Jenn was very patient and attentive with me. She also bought a copy of the anthology Rogues in Hell that I signed  for her. Thanks for supporting the series! Kudos to her for asking me to do this interview. We are also going to work together presenting a couple of discussion panels at All-Con in March, so I look forward to collaborating with her on that.

Something I have been trying to help promote and lend a little support to lately is an independent short film called The Dark Man. From the website: “The Dark Man explores the metaphysical relationship between time and love. As the second hand ticks ever onward, Daniel sees the life he made for himself with his wife slipping from his grasp. From the shadows of Daniel’s ruin, a black figure, a Dark Man, bearing an enigmatic timepiece emerges.” It is being written and directed by Tim Stevens, who I met at FenCon last year through a mutual friend, Darwin Prophet, whose music video for the song Don’t Panic was directed and shot by Tim. The Dark Man is a project being done by students at the University of North Texas as part of their undergraduate degree. The film crew also includes producer Sarah Wagner, director of photography, Tyler Burns, and editor Joey McCleskey. They have a Kickstarter fundraiser going to raise much-needed money to pay for things the University can’t provide, like food for the cast and crew, equipment rental fees, and entry fees to film festivals once the movie is completed. Check out the Kickstarter page here for more information about the project and on contributing to the film. Every bit helps so if you can donate even as little as $10 it will go toward them reaching their goal. You will get behind the scenes updates on the making of the film and there are a lot more perks available based on the amount you contribute. If you can’t lend your monetary support, at least please help get the word out about the film, by sharing the page with your friends and family. I like to do what I can for Independent artists, film makers, musicians, and writers, because as a writer myself, I appreciate what it takes to undertake these creative endeavors. Taking a story and making a film out of it involves a whole other level of complexity and planning than anything I have myself attempted to date.

And In the area of indie musicians, Christopher Morris makes some awesome music . His Soundcloud webpage is here. You can listen to some of his wonderful music there, and you can buy the music from his album Everybody Knows, at Amazon. His blend of jazz, rock and fusion will leave you in seventh heaven. His silky smooth vocals and articulate guitar work are amazing.

I attended the bi-monthly meeting of the Writers Circle at the Bedford Public Library today and had one of my poems critiqued. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately, maybe because I’ve been trying to express myself with a lot of emotional things that have been going on in my life and the lives of friends. It feels good to pen lines of verse again. It has been years since I’ve written this many poems, and there was a time when I thought I might never write poetry again. It seems to act to free my mind and sooth my soul and opens up other doors of creativity. I’m still struggling a bit with getting prose stories completed, so I hope this will help get the flow of inspiration moving once more. Until next time, keep the creativity flowing and stay inspired friends.

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is – infinite”

 -William Blake

A Steampunk Christmas Ball in Jefferson Texas, or Dancing With Me and My Shadow

“Each day I must shake off the dross that the mundane world has foisted upon me, so that my imagination may be free to wander through realms of the fantastic.” –Larry Atchley Jr.

This was an event that I attended back in the middle of December, but I’m just now getting around to uploading the photos from my camera. I know, I take procrastination to a whole new level. This was a really fun event that featured an almost two hour musical performance by one of my favorite bands, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror.

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The creative force of timeless space and energy that is Darwin Prophet.

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The lovely and talented DarKrys on vocals viola and percussion.

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Maestro on the violin.

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And it wouldn’t be a proper Christmas Ball without a Steampunk Santa.

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And here I am in my Shadow Dancer outfit. Photo credit: Ron Wheeler. Thanks Ron for capturing this moment in time.

Shadow Dancer

Assault rifles can’t hold a candle to this steampunk gun.

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And here’s Ron Wheeler, the awesome photographer, and all around cool guy who got the great shot of me in my Shadow outfit.

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And it wouldn’t be a steampunk ball without ladies in fancy dresses. My friend Jennifer, on the right with her friend whose name I don’t remember. Heh, sorry about that.

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Well that’s a wrap on another blog post for this week. Thanks to Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror and  everyone who put on this wonderful fun event. As always, it was great to meet with friends, old and new alike. I had a blast tripping the light fantastic with all of you awesome people. I’ll leave you with a quote from this Victorian era genius:

“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.”
 -Oscar Wilde

A New Year of Unlimited Possibilities or, Write or Die!

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.”
-Kahlil Gibran

It’s 2013 and no time to rest on my laurels. This proves to be a busy year for writing. I just need to get my head into these stories so I can get the words down. This always seems to be the biggest stumbling block for me as a writer. It’s not so much of a writers’ block as the ideas are there, it’s just hard sometimes to get in the right frame of mind to get the words to come out to reflect what I’m feeling needs to be in the story. I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately and I’m just not sure why. I have this obsession with the ideas of where creativity and inspiration come from, and how we harness them to write, create art, music, etc. I recently picked up a book, “The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain” by Alice W. Flaherty that is a fascinating study both scientifically and philosophically of these concepts. I’m hoping it will give me some insight into my own creative processes and how to better channel them into my writing.

On a really cool note, here is something that I think you all will enjoy: the audio book of  the Sacred Band tale, “Wake of the Riddler” by Janet Morris, and narrated by Alex Hyde-White, available from Audible at Amazon.com. Excellent story and outstanding narration make this short story from the book, “The Fish, the Fighters, and the Song-Girl” a must have for fans of The Sacred Band, and readers new to the series, even. There is a free sample of part of the story narration at the link to the audio book that you should really check out.

Something else going on in 2013; I have been confirmed as a guest author panelist at ConDFW, February 15th-17th and All-Con, March 8th-10th. Both conventions are in Dallas, Texas and are shaping up to be better than ever this year, with a big line-up of guests and events. If you are in the area those weekends you should attend. You will not be disappointed. The convention directors at All-Con let panelists create their own topics for discussion, and I came up with a panel about the source of creativity that will include a flash fiction writing exercise. I am also doing a panel on dark fantasy and horror genres in writing that will cover their similarities and differences and some examples of both. I’m bringing on board some fellow writers and friends of mine, JennM,  Joan Fritz, and others to help me with these topics. Check out Jenn M’s blog here at  Brewed Bohemian.

That’s about all for now folks. Thanks for tuning in. I’m committed to keeping to this weekly blog  schedule like I said I would, even if some of these posts may be short and sweet, like me. Heh, heh. I’ll leave you with another fun and spiffy quote:

“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

-Junot Diaz