Fun Stuff I’ve Been Doing So Far This Year

“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”-Winston Churchill

Okay, I know I haven’t been keeping up with posting the blog on a regular basis. Again. I am bad. I am incorrigible. I am a procrastinator by trade. For those of you who have stuck with following this blog even through its intermittent ramblings, I thank you. There is a lot to catch up on so this will be a lengthy discourse of what’s been going on in my life over the past few months.

At the end of last year I started attending The Seadog Slam’s bimonthly shows that took place at the Half Price Books Flagship Store in Dallas. Every first Wednesday there was a Steampunk show with songs performed , poetry read,and neat garb and gadgets displayed, as well as presentation son Steampunk culture and literature. I wrote a couple of Steampunk poems that I read, presented a brief biography of Jules Verne, and also read a review I wrote of Jessica McHugh’s book,  The Sky, the World. Every Third Wednesday of the month there was a pirate themed show performed by the crew members of The Seadog Slam, with an open mic session for the last half of the show. Performers dressed in their pirate garb for full effect and I broke out my pirate costume that I had put together a few years ago to wear to parties, pirate festivals and Renaissance faires. I had been writing a few pirate poems which I read at these sessions which were apparently well received, as I was asked earlier this year to join the Seadog Slam as as auxiliary crew member. This meant I would be on call to help them complete a roster of performers for various events in North Texas especially when regular members cannot attend. Words cannot express how happy I was to join this group of pirate poets. Recently they even decided to make me a regular crew member, which means I will have an opportunity to perform at all their shows and on CD’s they record of poetry and songs. I purchased a copy of The Pirate Primer so I can brush up on my piratical lingo. I’ve been wanting to buy this book ever since I checked it out from the Bedford Public Library a few years ago. Now I had a good excuse for acquiring it. Like I needed a reason to buy a book about pirates. Ha ha! The Seadog Slam will be working on a CD of dirty limericks this Summer so I have to get cracking to write some original limericks to read for the recording.

In April The Seadog Slam were the MC’s at an event called Down to the Depths: A Ghost Pirate Masquerade at the Wit’s End club in Dallas’ historic entertainment district, Deep Ellum. It was a show put on by The Shadow Society to raise funds for the Steampunk November 2014 event. Earlier that week I had broken one of my hard contact lenses and had been forced to wear my coke bottle glasses to see. Determined not to look like a dork at the show, I decided that once I got to the club I would put in my one left contact lens and wear my pirate eye patch over the other eye for piratical effect. That was all well and good, except I had not counted on it being so hard to read my poem with one eye. A lack of depth perspective really messes things up. I managed to pull off the reading somewhat, although it was certainly not my best performance to date. Nothing a bit of rum couldn’t make better though. Ah, it’s a pirate’s life for me. Arrgh!

One-eyed poet pirate Lars Shortshanks with Mayhem and Ray Jusrae of The Seadog Slam crew

One-eyed poet pirate Lars Shortshanks with Mayhem and Ray Jusrae of The Seadog Slam crew

All the performers that night were wonderful, from the opening band, Irish  Blind, the burlesque performers, and sword fighting by Cut, Thrust & Run. It was fun being an MC, and  introducing the band Esoterik, whose music and performance I really enjoyed. Allison Eckfeldt’s vocals and dancing were awesome, Brady Bledsoe on Guitar and keyboards was amazing, and Austin Hayes on keyboards was excellent. I got the band to autograph their CD I bought, and they were all very cool nice people to talk to. They are from Oklahoma City which is my birth city and where I still  have a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins living in the area. I will have to catch some more of their shows in the future. I’m hoping they will be back here in Dallas soon, or that I can make it up to OK City.

Going back a little earlier in the year, in February I was a guest author at the ConDFW literary fan convention. This is my third year as a guest and I had a blast as always being on discussion panels, doing readings and book signings. I get to meet up with a lot of fellow authors who are friends at these events and generally have a great time. There are too many people to mention everyone here and I will inevitably forget someone, since my memory is like  sieve. So my apologies if I don’t name you, but I have to at least run down a short list of people I got to hang out with and or be on panels with: Dean Andersson, Ethan Nahte, Selina Rosen, William Ledbetter, Bev Hale, Michelle Muenzler, Nina Romberg, Lou Antonelli, Melanie Fletcher, Mel White, Angeline Hawkes, Christopher Fulbright, Amie Spengler, Rachael Acks. Special thanks to friends and fellow writers Alaura Sandler and Jenn Monty who took photos of me on several panels.

ConDFW panel with Bev Hale, C Dean Andersson and Larry Atchley Jr.

ConDFW panel with Bev Hale, C Dean Andersson and Larry Atchley Jr.

Promoting the anthologies I am published in and talking about writing and fiction fandom is always a pleasure. The after parties are always awesome as well and I get way too little  sleep during these convention weekends. But it is all so worth it. I’m looking forward to next year already. I had someone snap a photo of me at my signing table with all the books In which I have stories published. And I’m proudly wearing both my Irredeemable Order of Hellions, and Fictioneers badges. On my right arm is my Bethodist patch marking me as an adherent of my friend Beth Patterson’s personal spiritual  movement of bouzouki babe worship and musical religiosity. More on Beth later in this post. It’s harder to see in this photo but I’m also wearing my Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror patch showing my support for yet another awesome group of musicians.  Thanks to my daughter Alina for making the armbands and sewing the patches on for me.

My ConDFW 2014 book signing table

My ConDFW 2014 book signing table

 

Next up in my busy Spring schedule of fun stuff was the North Texas Irish Festival. I have been going to this event ever since around 1996. It has been going on for over thirty years now, and is the largest Celtic music festival in the South, and one of the largest in the USA. There are so many excellent bands and solo musicians that play this festival. Also it has huge vendor turnout and there are so many great hand crafted items for sale. Money was tight this year so I couldn’t go crazy with the purchases, but I did pick up a CD from one of my favorite bands, Poor Man’s Fortune,  and a really cool pin/brooch with the skull & crossbones on it. I figured it would go well with my pirate garb.

It has been my pleasure to get to know the band members of Poor Man’s Fortune, especially Beth Patterson who I met initially on facebook a couple of years ago through mutual friends. We got to meet in person last year at the Irish Festival and we swapped copies of my anthologies that I have stories in for a bunch of her music CD’s. She had confessed that she was a musician with writer envy, and that she was working on writing a fiction story based on her experiences in the music business.  I told her that I was a writer with musician envy and that I wanted to put a band together. We realized that we both appreciate good music, good books, and irreverent dark humor, so a solid friendship was inevitable. We got  along so well in fact, I decided that she must be my long-lost evil twin sister that I never knew I had.

I introduced her on Facebook to some of my fellow Hellion authors and especially Janet Morris, and also some other editors with publishers that were looking for stories to put in anthologies. She just had a story published in a collection called Rise of the Goddess, and she will have a story in the next Heroes in Hell book, Poets in Hell which also will have my story “Poetic Injustice” in it. So she is now officially a Hellion author after earning her way into our illustrious ranks with what I’m sure will be a very good story that I am looking forward to reading. Earlier this year she also published her first book Mongrels & Misfits, which has an awesome short story and a whole bunch of her song lyrics in it. I got to be one of her beta readers for the story and she thanked me in the acknowledgements page of her book which was cool and very sweet of her to do.

She is an excellent musician and is turning out to be just as good of a writer as well. I like to refer to her as the hardest working musician in the business because it seems like she is always playing gigs, recording albums,  and promoting herself 24/7/365. She performs in and around New Orleans Louisiana when she is not on tour in various other parts of the world, like Japan, and Canada.  She will be performing her music at this year’s LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN where we will both be guest authors as well. Check out her web page here at Bethpattersonmusic.com. She just released an excellent  new solo album Fast Forward which you can purchase on her webpage. She has it available as a digital download and as a USB flash drive that is made into a rubber bracelet so you can wear her  music. Here’s a photo of Beth performing with Poor Man’s Fortune which includes Larry Rone on vocals and wind instruments ,  Richard Kean on pipes, Wolf Loescher on drums and percussion, and Beth Patterson on vocals and bouzouki. They just released a new CD called Bayou Curious that has a blend of Cajun, Scottish, Breton, and French traditional music, and it is a joy to listen to. It is very lively and upbeat. You can buy it on the Poor Man’s Fortune webpage.

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Beth Patterson at North Texas Irish Festival 2014

Beth Patterson at North Texas Irish Festival 2014

Some other great bands I saw at NTIF this year included The Town Pants, from Canada, who closed out their set witha  cover of Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, which was totally unexpected. Also the band  Beyond the Pale who I have seen perform several years at NTIF and other Celtic music festivals like the no longer active Celtic Heritage Festival which was held in my home town of Bedford. There was so much excellent music but these are the ones that stand out in my mind the most.

Okay so on to the next convention and this is a big one that I have been honored with being a guest at for the past three years. All-Con in Dallas. This event encompasses everything to do with fandom whether it is science fiction, fantasy, horror literature, film or television, anime, women’s roller derby, burlesque entertainment, stand up comedy, sword fighting action shows, music, etc. You name it and there is probably a discussion panel or performance to do with it at All-Con. I got to be on some great panels with some awesome authors this year as always. First and foremost I must mention my friend Jenn Monty who helped me come up with topics  for five of the panels that we were on this year.  She also did meticulous research and printed out notes for us to use, including creating a writers’ notebook for compiling story notes and information for our panel on how to organize all the stuff you use when writing a novel. She made several copies which were handed out to the audience. We had a really good turnout for that one. Jenn publishes a blog called Brewed Bohemian where she posts her flash fiction and poetry, along with the latest open submissions for story contests and anthologies. She posts reviews about beer on there too  which is really cool. Jenn is a very talented writer, and I hope we will share credits in an anthology together someday. She recently asked me to be one of the judges in a Steampunk & Dieselpunk flash fiction contest called Dirty Goggles that she was holding along with some other authors. Go check out her blog to read the stories and find out who won. Plus check out all the other cool stuff there too.

Jenn Monty and Larry Atchley Jr. at All-Con Dallas 2014

Jenn Monty and Larry Atchley Jr. at All-Con Dallas 2014

I shared panels with some other awesome fellow authors and experts like Larry And Tina Amyett of the North Texas Dieselpunks, Steve and Melody Sanders of The Seadog Slam, Ethan Nahte, Mel White, Bart de Boisblanc, and Gloria Oliver. I also got to hang out with my good friend Darwin Prophet who was one of the musical guests this year. I got to see a whole bunch of other friends that I usually only see at cons or other special events. There are probably too many people to list and I will inevitably forget someone so I’ll just leave it at that. You all know who you are.

All-Con 2014 Dieselpunk & Steampunk Panel. From Left to right: Larry Atchley Jr, Larry Amyett, Tina Amyett, Jenn Monty.

All-Con 2014 Dieselpunk & Steampunk Panel. From Left to right: Larry Atchley Jr, Larry Amyett, Tina Amyett, Jenn Monty.

All-Con 2014 panelists L-R Larry Atchley Jr, Mel White, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver

All-Con 2014 panelists L-R Larry Atchley Jr, Mel White, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver

All-Con 2014 Steampunk Poetry panel. Larry Atchley Jr, Steve Sanders, Melody Sanders.

All-Con 2014 Steampunk Poetry panel. Larry Atchley Jr, Steve Sanders, Melody Sanders.

On March 19th I put together a author reading event that took place at the Half Price Books Dallas Flagship store. How this came about was that the Seadog Slam crew were not going to be able  to do their usual pirate themed show they presented the third Wednesday of every month. I was asked if I wanted to put on an event by myself. I leapt at the chance and I decided that rather than do a pirate show I wanted to do something different where authors of various genres could read their work to an audience. Thus was born The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue. I gathered together five local Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex authors which included myself, Darwin Prophet, Jenn Monty, Jessica Scott, William Ledbetter. Author C. Dean Andersson was supposed to read too but had to cancel due to having the Flu. We had a small but enthusiastic audience and the event went well. It was the first time that both Jessica and Jenn  had ever read before an audience and they did awesome even though they admitted they were very nervous. They each read some poetry and flash fiction that was excellent. Check out Jessica’s blog, The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet where she posts a lot of her poetry and prose, and Jenn’s blog at Brewed Bohemian. William read excerpts from a couple of science fiction short stories that were very gripping and intense. I read part of my Rogues in Hell story, “Ragnarok & Roll” and Darwin read a bunch of her “prosetry” that includes her day to day thoughts and musings, and closed the event beautifully by singing the British anthem “Jerusalem” which was written from a poem by William Blake.  We all had a great time and I was glad to be able to bring some fellow authors together to showcase their talents. I’m hoping to do another one of these sometime in the future.

Larry Atchley Jr reading poetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Larry Atchley Jr reading poetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Jenn Monty reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Jenn Monty reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Jessica Scott reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Jessica Scott reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

William Ledbetter reading from his story at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

William Ledbetter reading from his story at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Darwin Prophet reading Prosetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Darwin Prophet reading Prosetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Something cool that I got to attend in April was the short film premier of Love is a Grave, by my friend Tim Stevens with Title Pending Productions and Tim Stevens Films. The premier party was called Into the Grave and was held at the dance club The Church in Dallas’ historic Deep Ellum arts and music district by The Shadow Society. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror performed at the premier and Darwin actually co-wrote music for the film with Director/Filmmaker Tim Stevens. Another band that performed that night was Ending the Vicious Cycle fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist, Toby Rider. There was also a dark burlesque show which included Vivienne Vermuth and Cat de Lynn. The film was awesome and the party was a blast. I had a lot of fun dancing and hanging out with friends including Cindy House who I have known since  high school and who I hadn’t seen in a few years, and who is a regular at The Church.

Tim Stevens, Darwin Prophet and Larry Atchley Jr at the film premier party for Love is a Grave

Tim Stevens, Darwin Prophet and Larry Atchley Jr at the film premier party for Love is a Grave

Into the Grave, premier party for Tim Stevens'short film Love is a Grave

Into the Grave, premier party for Tim Stevens’short film Love is a Grave

Also in April I also got to be an extra in one of Tim’s latest projects, a web series called You are Here, that was filmed at The Curtain Club in Deep Ellum in Dallas. That was a lot of fun, but it was hot hard work. I was in several scenes that involved dancing at a Goth vampire night club party. They couldn’t run the Air Conditioning units because of the noise and it was very hot inside the club. It didn’t help that I was wearing leather pants, boots, and my signature long black coat. My friend Darwin Prophet was also there as an extra to help support Tim’s project. I also got to be in a few additional scenes that just involved standing and acting like I was talking to another extra, Shana, who I met at the filming. She was pretty cool and has some interesting life stories. She is about my size, (petite that is) and also takes martial arts so we had that in common to talk about. She is a professional model working in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  I met a lot of other great people who were extras and part of the cast and crew. Special thanks to Tim Stevens, John McCullagh, Mary Rochford, Jessica Sheriff, and everyone else involved with the production for making me a part of the action and taking great care of us by providing lots of water to drink and pizza for dinner. The web series is supposed to air sometime in June, so I’ll be sure to post a link to it in my blog when it does. I hope I look halfway decent in the shots.

In May I went to fellow author Seth Skorkowsky’s book signing for his first published novel Damoren. It was held at game store Area 51 Gaming & Collectibles in Grapevine Texas, the town where I grew up. I met Seth at All-Con this year and it turns out that we have a lot of mutual friends in the writing and Steampunk community. I just finished reading his book and it is a thrilling action packed adventure with some very excellent writing and includes some very interesting concepts. It is book one of The Valducan series and I can’t wait to read the next book when it comes out next year. I’m looking forward to finally finishing one of my novels so I can do one of these events for a book that is all my own work. I love writing short stories and poems for anthologies, but having my own novel completed and published would be a great feeling.

Seth Skorkowsky at book signing for his novel Damoren

Seth Skorkowsky at book signing for his novel Damoren

Well that is about it for now. The next big event things coming up for me will be attending Robert E Howard Days in Cross Plains Texas  and attending LibertyCon as a guest author, both in June. This will be my first time to go to Howard Days. I have heard a lot of great things about it form fellow authors so I am looking forward to it. It is my fourth year as a guest at LibertyCon, which was the first con to book me as an author in 2011 after I had my first published short story appear in Lawyers in Hell.

I am working on my dark fantasy/sword & sorcery novel that I am aiming at finishing this year. Also the usual short stories and poems as always. I’ll keep everyone posted here whenever I have my next stories and poems published. I have a few things coming out this Summer.

I’ll leave you with a pithy quote as usual. Thanks again for following my blog and I’ll try not to take so long between posts next time.

“Writing a novel is like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having a tooth pulled.”
-Dean Koontz

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The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat at All-Con Dallas

“Verse is not written, it is bled; Out of the poet’s abstract head. Words drip the poem on the page; Out of his grief, delight and rage.”

-Paul Engle

The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat will be at All-Con Dallas this weekend. It is a fan based convention for all things from science fiction, fantasy, horror, literature, writing, film, television, geek culture, role playing games, board games, cosplaying, music, and much, much more. Joining me for several panels is the always awesome Jenn Monty, who has put a lot of work into out panel content this year coming up with the topis and doing research on our subjects. Thank You Jenn! She is an excellent writer , one of my good friends and also I’m happy to say, a devout fan of my writing.  She will be with me on the following panels: Diesel vs. Steam: The elements of a good ”Punk” story, Novel Creation Notebook, Creative Collaborations, Writing Technology, Writing Gore: How Much is Too Much? Also with me on the Diesel vs. Steam panel will be my good friends Larry and Tina Amyett from the North Texas Dieselpunks. With me during the Speculative Fiction Author reading and the panel, Creating Interesting Characters and Worlds, are two authors and friends of mine, Ethan Nahte and Mel White. And then for the Songs for a Mechanical Age – The Poetry of Steampunk panel, I will be joining my friend and fellow Seadog Slam crew member Stephen Sanders.  Here is my schedule of appearances for discussion panels and literary readings:
Friday 3-14
Speculative Fiction Author Reading
Maple (Friday)8:00 PM – 8:45 PM (Rated: Mature)

Diesel vs. Steam: The elements of a good ”Punk” story
Maple (Friday) 9:00 PM – 9:45 PM (Rated: Mature)

Saturday 3-15
Novel Creation Notebook
Maple (Saturday) 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Rated: Mature)

Songs for a Mechanical Age – The Poetry of Steampunk
Elm (Saturday)1:00 PM – 1:45 PM (Rated: Everyone)

Creative Collaborations
Elm (Saturday) 8:00 PM – 8:45 PM (Rated: Teen)

Writing Gore: How Much is Too Much?
Maple (Saturday) 11:00 PM – 11:45 PM (Rated: Adult)

Sunday 3-16
Creating Interesting Characters and Worlds

Maple (Sunday) 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM (Rated: Everyone)

Writing Technology
Pecan (Sunday) 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (Rated: Teen)

I hope to see many of you, my friends, there this weekend. It is an extremely fun event and you will have a blast. I know I do every year. There will be room parties Friday and Saturday night, so the fun will last late into the wee hours and all weekend long.  And so I leave you with another pithy quote:

“Sit down to write what you have thought, and not to think about what you shall write.”

-William Cobbett

The Life of a Piratical Con Man

Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves. Rudyard Kipling

I have two big events coming up this week that involve my writing and public speaking.

The first one is An Evening of Pirate Poetry and Tales of the Sea with The Seadog Slam crew. This is a recurring event every third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 PM at the Half Price Books flagship store at 5803 E. Northwest Highway Dallas, TX 75231. This month on Feb 19th we are doing Pirate Idol which is our open microphone part of the show where members of the audience can perform on stage. Music, singing, and poetry readings of a nautical nature are all welcome. Dress in your best pirate garb if you have it, and hang out with us for a fun filled evening. I’ll be reading an original poem or two, and maybe something from one of my favorite classical poets. I am happy to say that I have been made an auxiliary member of the Seadog Slam crew and am very honored to perform with these fine folks.

The next one is ConDFW, an annual literary convention that takes place on Feb 21st-23rd this year in Dallas. It is held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 14315 Midway Road, Addison, Texas 75001. I will be a guest author at this event doing discussion panels, a book signing, and a story reading. Below is my schedule for the weekend:

SATURDAY:
READING (Trinity VIII)
Saturday, 10am: Michelle Muenzler, Larry Atchley, Jr., Bev Hale

PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 12pm: Researching the Past: Creating Historical Fiction
Panelists: Taylor Anderson, Larry Atchley, Jr., Lou Antonelli (M), Sabine Starr, Melanie Fletcher
It is hard to recreate the past without doing research into it. This is simply because we, the readers and authors, didn’t LIVE in that past. Thus, to understand what it was like to live in those times we must look to other sources for information – journals, pictures, drawings, anything we can get our hands on. Our panelists explain where to go and what to look for when trying to create another time in our heads.

MAIN PROGRAMMING (Addison Lecture Hall)
Saturday, 5pm: Writing and Collaborating in Shared World Anthologies
Panelists: Larry Atchley Jr. (M), Bev Hale, P.N. Elrod, Sabine Starr
Star Wars, Star Trek, Middle Earth, War of the Worlds. There are many worlds out there which authors love to explore. But how do you put one together many visions into one book? How do you write for such an anthology? Our panelists talk about their experiences with shared world anthologies.

PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 6pm: Horror 101: Exploring the subgenres
Panelists: C. Dean Andersson (M), Christopher Fulbright, Stormy Stogner Medina, Larry Atchley Jr.
There are so many genres that are lumped together into Horror. Examples are: Lovecraftian, Ghosts, Zombies, Urban, Apocalypse, Epic, Splatter-punk, Slasher, Asian, and the many Witch-Werewolf-Vampire types (True Love vs Dresden Files vs Twilight vs etc.). We bring together several of our acclaimed horror writers to explain what horror truly is, and where to look for inspiration.

SUNDAY:
AUTOGRAPHS (Dealers Room)
Sunday, 2pm: Larry Atchley, Jr., William Ledbetter

PROGRAMMING 3 (Trinity VII)
Sunday, 3pm: Upwardly Mobile: Writing about Dirigibles and Other Flights of Fancy
Panelists: Larry Atchley, Jr. (M), Lou Antonelli, Rachel Acks, Rie Sheridan Rose, Shanna Swendson
One of the most common sights in both Steampunk and Cyberpunk is the dirigible. Otherwise known as zeppelins or blimps, the hydrogen or helium filled craft lazily float through the sky. It is one thing, however, to imagine it. It is entirely another to be able to write about it believably. For instance, which of the above named craft has NO internal supporting frame? (Blimps!) Our authors talk about the differences and other things to know about when writing about semi-rigid airships.

I really love this convention, for so many reasons, and it’s great to meet up with a lot of my writer friends who i usually only see two or three times a year at these events. I’d love to see you at the con, so come out and have fun with me and my fellow authors.

On the writing front, I have been penning some poetry lately and trying to work on some of my short stories and novels in progress. The poetry seems to be coming fairly easily lately,but the prose, not so much. I’ve been having a hard time getting my head into the stories or into the frame of mind of my characters well enough to do much writing on them. I’m hoping this will change soon, as I have way too much that needs to be written to let anything slow me down. I know it will pass in time, but I’m anxious to get these stories finished and put to bed. I have editors waiting for some of these and I hate to miss a deadline or lose an opportunity to get them published in their respective anthologies. I may need to have a steel cage wrestling match with my inner demons, or entice my muse with chocolate and music so  I can get these suckers  done and dusted.

Well that’s it for this week. I hope to see you all at these fun events this week. Until then I leave you with another pithy quote to close out my post.

No writing comes alive unless the writer sees across his desk a reader, and searches constantly for the word or phrase which will carry the image he wants the reader to see, and arouse the emotion he wants him to feel. Without consciousness of a live reader, what a man writes will die on his page. Barbara W. Tuchman

 

 

Back in the Saddle Again

“The truth is that coming up with ideas is easy; it’s making up the stories that grow out of them that’s hard.”

             -Terry Brooks

It’s been awhile since I posted in my blog. I’m really going to try to get back to posting at least every week. I finally am feeling well again after having the flu for the last two weeks or so. I’ve been getting some writing done lately, trying to get some stories finished and writing the occasional poem here and there. I’m still working on the dark fantasy/sword & sorcery novel. I’ve been trying to figure out some things on the paranormal romance novel that I’m attempting. I still think I may need to read more in that genre in order to write it better. Luckily my wife has an extensive collection of them so I can borrow them for “research.”

I took a break from writing to ride my mountain bike since it was such nice weather today. It has been too long since I’ve been on the bike. That’s another thing I’d like to start doing every week again because it is so much fun and such good exercise. My usual riding spot is at River Legacy Park in Arlington. The Dallas Off Road Bicycling Association (DORBA) has built a really awesome single track trail there that goes for miles and even has several expert sections that split off from the main trail. I managed not to crash which is a good thing and only had to take my foot out of the clip-in pedals twice to “dab” so I wouldn’t lay the bike down when the back wheel slid out. I got off the trail almost right at dusk and it did get a little chilly at the end as the sun started going down.

Convention season is coming up and I will be a guest author panelist at ConDFW February 21-23 and All-Con March 13-16. This will be my third year as a guest and I always look forward to it. It’s great to meet up with all my fellow writer friends and fans who I usually only see at conventions.

Also, I’ve been asked to be an auxiliary crew member of the Seadog Slam who are performers of pirate poetry, music, and stories. I have been doing poetry readings at their events the third Wednesday of every month at the half Price Books flagship store on Northwest Highway in Dallas. Dressing up as a pirate and reading and listening to poetry is an awesome way to spend an evening. I was introduced to the group by a mutual friend and was asked to speak at their Steampunk event that they do the first Wednesday of each month also at the store.

I am also co-hosting the radio show Dangerous Minds on internet radio station www.tmvcafe.com on Monday nights at 9:00 PM CST with EW Bradfute and Renee Marie. We talk about strange and funny news headlines and it is really a lot of fun. Be sure to tune in and check it out sometime.

That’s about it for this week. Thanks for reading my idle musings. I’ll leave you with this pithy quote:

Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid.Heinrich Heine

 

The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat at All-Con This Weekend

“There is a correlation between the creative and the screwball. So we must suffer the screwball gladly.” – Kingman Brewster

Quick, short post from the Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat.
I will be at the fantasy, science fiction, anime, etc, fan convention All-Con in Dallas (really Addison) this weekend. Here’s the link to the website: All-Con.net.  And here is the All-Con Facebook page. 

I will on discussion panels Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Come check out this awesome event and drop by for my panels. There is a listing of the panel descriptions on the web page but here’s a run down of the ones I will be on:

What Scares the Boogeyman? Horror anthology panel, 8:00 PM Friday, with Stormy Medina, and Bev Hale

How Did You Come Up With That Idea? Saturday 5:00 PM, With Stormy Medina

The Source of Creativity, with a flash fiction writing exercise, Sunday 11:00 AM, with Jenn Monty

Dark Fantasy & Horror, Sunday 1:00PM, with Jenn Monty

Anthologies: An opportunity for new writers, Sunday 3:00 PM, with Stormy Medina

Come see me and my fellow writers, editors, and friends. There are a lot of things going on at this event, including performances both Saturday at 7:00PM  and Sunday at 10:00 AM by Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror.

“It may be that those who do most, dream most.” – Stephen Leacock

 

 

 

 

ConDFW 2013 After Action Report

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“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.”
-W. E. B. Du Bois

Another year of ConDFW has come and gone. I had a great time as always, meeting with old friends, and making new ones. I think I picked up a few new fans of my writing as well. I also got to hang out with someone who is arguably my biggest fan so far, Jenn M. who I met at last year’s ConDFW. She writes a blog called Brewed Bohemian and she is also gracious enough to repost my blogs on her twitter feed @BrewedBohemian. She’s a writer who has been doing flash fiction and short fiction for awhile. I am going to have her on a couple of panels with me at All-Con this year. It was great hanging out with her and her friends and my friends over dinner Saturday night talking about our current projects. Check out her blog and follow her on twitter.

I didn’t get to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Addison where ConDFW is held until about 7:30 Friday because I had to work until 6:30. I met up with friend and fellow author, Ethan Nahte in the dealers room, where we were sharing a table to sell our books. Ethan is a great guy, and a real force of creativity. He has experience in writing, journalism, music, photography, film making, screenwriting, radio, as well as environmental and wildlife conservation. I don’t think there’s much that he can’t do, or hasn’t tried. He has stories published with Yard Dog Press, Twit Publishing, 4 Star Stories, and Hall Brothers Entertainment. Go check out their web sites for some of the anthologies he’s in. His friend Bonnie helped us watch the table when Ethan and I had to be at panels, signings, and readings. She also bought a copy of Lawyers in Hell. Thanks Bonnie, for being a fan and also a new friend.  Here’s a photo I took of Ethan at our table:

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And one of us together:

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Someone else I was really glad to spend time with was John Manning, who is a writer, editor, and owner of Fantom Enterprises which recently produced the horror anthology What Scares the Boogey Man? which is published by Perseid Press. John is also a fellow Hellion Author with stories in Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell, from the Heroes in Hell series created by Janet Morris, with Persied Publishing,  in which I have stories published as well. John also wrote the horror novel Black Stump Ridge with co-author Forrest Heddrick which was published by iUniverse in 2011. He’s one of my best friends and we have collaborated on story ideas a lot and we are working together on several current projects. Here’s a great photo of us together:

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Someone else who I always enjoy seeing at conventions is Bev Hale, author, artist, maker of fine hats and clothes and jewelry and accesories. Check out her web site at BevHale.com and her artistic designs page at Otherwhen Oddities. Here’s Bev with her table and hat stand in the dealers room:

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Bev also has a story published in the horror anthology What Scares the Boogey Man? created and edited by John Manning that she did a reading from at ConDFW.

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Another person I run into at the various conventions I attend is Patricia Ash. She is a playwright, novelist, poet, model, actor, and associate editor of Gearhearts Steampunk Glamor review magazine. So she stays pretty busy. Here’s a photo of her in one of her lovely outfits. Check out the boots!

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Two more friends I have made attending conventions like ConDFW are author/editor Kevin Hosey, and author Tracy S. Morris who are in this photo at their book signing.

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Someone else who I got to know online, but met in person for the first time that weekend is Stormy Stogner, who is one of the editors for Fantom Enterprises and the book What Scares the Boogey Man?  I also got to meet Thony Medina who is working for Fantom Enterprises as V.P. of game development for their line of Role Playing Games soon to be unleashed upon the world. I hung out with them on and off for the whole weekend but somehow never got a single photo of either of them. Wow. How did that happen? Well, I forgot to take photos of a few people apparantly, like Jenn M. and her friends, Bonnie, and a few other people I’m sure. Oh well. Better luck next time I guess. I did however, manage to get a photo of these two Cthulhu chicks who were walking through the dealers room:

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And I got a photo of the Roll2Play game store table with Allison Gabby and the Roll2Play employee whose name I always forget. Sorry man.

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I got to talk to a lot more great people, authors, artists, creative folks of all types, like Selina Rosen, author, and owner of Yard Dog Press, authors Julia Mandala, Dusty Rainbolt, Linda Donahue, Rhonda Eudaley, C. Dean Andersson, Lou Antonelli, Teresa Patterson, Rie Sheridan Rose, and Michelle Muenzler. If I’ve fotgotten to mention anyone, sorry, but it was a whirlwind of a weekend as cons always are and I can’t remember everyone’s names.

I was on a panel called Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance with Kevin Hosey, Rachel Caine,  Dusty Rainbolt and Stina Leicht in which we each took one side to argue the merits of either genre of writing. Here’s a photo from the panel that John Husisian in the audience took and sent to me after the con. Thanks John!

Urban Fantasy vs Paranormal Romance

I had a great time, and I look forward to seeing everyone again next time. For now, this is a wrap. See you all at All-Con in Dallas March 8,9, 10th.  It’s hard to believe it’s almost here already.

“Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” -Albert Camus

 

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.

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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 Writer’s Holiday, or Wrestling With my Inner Daimons

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I am taking a vacation from the mundane day job this Thanksgiving week to get some much needed writing done.  I plan to try to put things around the house in some semblance of order as well, as with both my wife and mine’s work schedules, house chores tend to get put off to a  time that we call “I’ll get to it later.”

One of the stories I am working on is one that will hopefully be included in the next book in the Heroes in Hell series, created by Janet Morris, Dreamers in Hell. Old familiar faces from my previously published stories in the shared-world anthologies  Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell will return in this yarn. It deals with Anton LaVey trying to come to terms with his death and damnation in Hell by seeking psychiatric council from famous psychologist and spiritualist, William James. Also, Guy Fawkes having given up on trying to redeem his way out of Hell, has decided to try to blow his way out. Calamity ensures of course, and it should be a fun tale to read when it’s all done. As I did with the previous two stories, I have collaborated with a few of the other Hellion authors to connect my story with theirs in the larger meta-arc storyline that will be present throughout much of the anthology. This book should be very dynamic in nature and I think may end up containing some of the best stories from the series to date.

Another pending project is to write and submit a Victorian era historical fiction horror story for the anthology  Terror By Gaslight. I have the basic concept of the story and I know who my main character is, so the  preliminary work is done. Now I just have to start the actual writing of the story and hope that my daimons of inspiration will help me keep the words flowing. We writers contributing to the book have been given free reign to give the stories a steampunk twist if we so desire, but I’m not sure yet if mine will actually go in that direction. It has the possibility of doing so, but I won’t know until I really get into the meat of the writing process. I know quite a lot of writers who have set stories in the steampunk genre and I’ve toyed with the idea of doing it myself from time to time so it would be fun to take it in that direction. It opens up so many possibilities that the story couldn’t have if I stuck with a traditional historical tale.

Speaking of steampunk, I’ve been listening to a lot of steampunk music lately that has I think been driving my creative forces onward in the right direction. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror captivated my attention from the first moment I heard them play live at The Difference Engine steampunk convention that night on New Year’s Eve 2011. Darwin’s sound ranges from what has been termed steampop, literary rock, and  rock and roll. Her album Oscar Wilde’s Serenade is a beautiful tribute to the poet, with songs written to his lyrics. The song “Don’t Panic” is dedicated to Douglas Adams and Gene Roddenberry. They recently filmed an awesome video for the song that you can watch HERE.

“I could be the anomaly, I could be the missing link between reality and your point of view. You know you boldly go where no one’s ever thought to go. The captain of your ship has lost her grip but she won’t let it show. If you slip into a black hole, don’t panic, don’t panic. If you can see into my soul, don’t panic. I won’t let go.” 

-Darwin Prophet, “Don’t Panic”

Darwin is a wonderful, intelligent, creative, and incredibly talented person. She is a gifted songwriter, musician, vocalist, and artist. I am fortunate to call her my friend. The Chronus Mirror band is made up of Maestro on violin, and DarKo on viola, vocals and percussion, both incredibly talented musicians in thier own right.

Marquis of Vaudeville is another favorite band I’ve seen perform at steampunk events. I keep listening to and watching the video for the song Utopian Playland, over and over. It is such a poignant anthem for these  jaded times in which we live as we strive to eke out a meagre living  trading most of the hours of our lives performing mundane repetitive tasks to earn a fistful of dollars.

“Productive members of society, that’s all we’re ever taught to be. But when society is failing, the dreamers rise up and will lead, to Utopian Playland.” –Marquis of Vaudeville, Utopian Playland.

The song is a tribute to the ideology of Dr. Steel who proposed that our top priority should be to have fun. I think it is a wonderful sentiment. The dreamers, writers, poets, artists, philosophers, and musicians should be allowed to create and play unfettered by the shackles of drudgery.

Recently I had a story called ‘Time For A Change”  published in the shared-world anthology, Sha’Daa: Pawns. The series is created by Michael H. Hanson, and edited by Edward F. McKeown. This book deals with stories about the Forces of Good battling the Forces of Evil during an event called The Sha’Daa,which takes place every ten thousand years on earth, in which the walls between our dimension and other darker more malevolent ones grows thin, and evil crosses over to try to annihilate and enslave mankind and take over the world. During this period, mankind must fight back with the help of the enigmatic and mysterious Johnny the Salesman. He trades items of powerful magical ability with ordinary people  to try to stop the Sha’Daa from happening. This is the third volume in the series, but it can be enjoyed without having read the first two, Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse, and Sha’Daa: Last Call.

In September I was honored to be a guest at the Friends of the Bedford Public Library event, Evening With the Authors, where I read my story, “Ragnarok & Roll” from the book Rogues in Hell and got to answer questions from the audience about my writing.  It was really wonderful and made me feel very special as this is my local library where I check out books, so it felt great to be among my fellow local authors like Joanne Faries, Rebecca Balcarcel, Sharon K. Owen, and special guest from out of state, Sarah A. Hoyt who is a Prometheus Award winning author.

Well, that’s about all for now. I hope all my American readers have a happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Until next time…

 

 

The Nightmare Machine 2012 Unconventional Convention

This post is long overdue, considering I attended this convention way back in the end of March. But better late than never I always say.

The Nightmare Machine 2012 was a steampunk convention with a paranormal theme. It was created and organized by Steampunk Illumination Society. It took place March 30th through April 1st, in Jefferson, Texas which is purported to be the most haunted town in the Lone Star State. Whether it is or not is hotly debated amongst skeptics and believers. But it certainly is one of the most well preserved. By setting this event in and around the historic downtown district of Jefferson, it already set it apart from all other cons which typically take place within the confines of a hotel.

Some of the activities  included in this event included a steamboat ride, which I missed because I got into Jefferson too late Friday, a steam train ride, which i didn’t get to go on because the train derailed a couple of hours before my scheduled ticket reservation and the tracks had to be repaired. They did get the tracks repaired later that day and honored the earlier tickets for a ride that night, but I chose not to go, because I was busy attending other events at the time. The other activity that I did go on was the  ghost walk tour of the haunted hotspots in Jefferson. Guide Jodi Breckenridge was extremly knowledgable and shared some great stories about the history of Jefferson’s haunted past.

I was fortunate to be asked to this convention as a guest author and panelist which meant that I got to read my story, “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” from the Heroes in Hell series anthology, Lawyers in Hell, in front of a small but attentive audience. Thanks especially to Elizabeth and Mike Stewart who attended and were great to meet and talk to about writing.  They had heard about me from a mutual friend of ours, Mike Badolato, who suggested they might like to hear my reading. Thanks for promoting me, Mike! Also at the reading was someone who I greatly admire as a musician, songwriter, and vocalist, Darwin Prophet .  Thanks also to everyone else who attended my reading, sorry if I didn’t catch your names to put in this blog, but your show of support was appreciated.

Saturday night was an incredible festival of splendid sound called “A Symphonic Celebration”. The featured bands were Marquis of Vaudeville, My Wooden Leg, Sarasvati Bodhisattva, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror, and BB Blackdog. All were wonderful and brought their own unique  style of music to the concert. Earlier that day, my favorited band, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror played a special acoustic performance of songs from their album, Oscar Wilde’s Serenade,  in front of the Excelsior House Hotel. It was a lovely and moving tribute to the poetic works of Oscar Wilde who had stayed at the Excelsior House once during his travels through Texas.

I got to hold a discussion panel/presentation on the history of paranormal investigating, procedures and equipment which was fun. Thanks to those who attended, including Larry and Tina Amyett, and Jonathan Morgan. Larry and Tina from North Texas Dieselpunks did a presentation later that day on the history of Dieselpunk that was really cool and informative. These panels were held at the Museum of Measurement & Time which was an interesting place and the owners are very nice people.

Other various fun events included the premier of the short film “Mechanical Grave” and the Late Night Social and Tea Duelling put on by the members of the band BB Blackdog. I did a little tea duelling myself, although I lost my round, so I need to practice more. I think I’m better at drinking tea than dueling with it. If you wonder what exactly tea duelling is, this is a good web page that explains it here. There were many other panels on things like  sword fencing, making Steampunk costumes, real tales of ghostly experiences and more. There were also several vendors selling all manner of steampunk themed stuff, from costumes, weapons, accesories, art, and music.

I want to especially thank Stephanie Moran of the Steampunk Illumination Society for making me a part of this very special and historic event. Thanks to everyone at the S.I.S. for putting on a great and memorable convention that was one of a kind, like no other I have attended. Even the event badges were unique, as they were made out of engraved brass plates.  I met a lot of wonderful people, had tons of fun, saw some great sites around Jefferson, and made many new friends.

The Nightmare Machine Paranormal Steampunk Convention

I will be a guest at this paranormal steampunk convention, The Nightmare Machine, this weekend. I will be holding a discussion panel on the history of paranormal investigation Saturday 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. I am also doing readings Friday night at 8:00 PM from my story “Shadow of a Doubt” which will be published later this year in the horror  anthology What Scares the Boogeyman and “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” published in 2011 in the anthology Lawyers in Hell Sunday at 11:00 AM . The convention takes place in historic Jefferson, Texas. Come see me and all the other guests at this fun and exciting event!