Idea Envy

Before I started writing with more serious goals in mind I was a reader. I wasn’t a voracious reader, but I read a lot. On occasion I ran across a book or story that forced me stop and think about how cool and inventive one aspect or another was. In the last few years, as I write more, I don’t read as much I did or as much as I would like, but I still run across those ideas which make me stop and say “Wow!” The biggest difference between me then and me now, is that when I find those moments, I step back and think, “That’s genius. I wish I’d thought of that.”
A few books in recent memory fit that bill for me. Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain (only the first book, the last two seemed rushed), Daemon by Daniel Suarez, and most recently V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. These moments of adoration aren’t limited to books. Robert Kirkman, the well-known creator of The Walking Dead comic, also writes, Outcast. I’m hooked on the back and forth battle between the main character’s personal demons and the demons attempting to take over the world. Then every once in a while, I find a movie or TV show that makes me feel the same. Some of the intricacies of the criminal underworld in “John Wick” are jaw-dropping. “Stranger Things” on Netflix pulls you in with a beautiful blend of horror, 80’s nostalgia, and a dash of sci-fi.
I love finding these worlds, characters, plots, and details scattered throughout different media. The desire to stumble upon that next moment is what keeps me going back. I don’t believe that any writer sets out to create that sense of envy, but I do believe that they attempt to bring something new to the table with each project. The knowledge that those fresh and ingenious ideas are still out there drive me to create new stories, new characters, and new worlds in my writing.

Today I’m Gonna’ Run

The Glorious Outsiders

Today I’m gonna’ run.

I’m gonna’ run from the madness and the anger and the fear, I’m gonna’ run from the TV stations, and the radio and the internet. I’m gonna’ run to feel the earth hard and firm beneath my feet, to feel the cold wind against my skin, and in my hair. I’m gonna’ run to feel my heart beating harder and faster inside my chest, to know I am still alive, and that this is still a life, to feel my breath coming short, to feel my legs working, to feel my body getting stronger and leaner and harder.

I’m gonna’ run to exert power and control over me, my body, my life. I’m gonna’ run outside, to be under the sky, and upon the earth, to see sky over my head and dirt under my feet. Today I’m gonna’ run through dark trees and see light…

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I Can’t Quit Reading

A little over a week ago I ran across an article that discussed a serious problem that can affect some readers – the inability to quit reading a book you don’t like.

I suffer from this affliction. I can count on one hand the number of books that I have put down, unable to finish, in the last ten years. 3. If I include the number I wished I had stopped reading, that number climbs. Technically, if I go back farther, into college for example, the number grows significantly. But those books are a different story and not ones that I count as part of this problem.

The writer of the article from mentions that a bookseller at local bookstore has been trying to talk her out her problem for nearly a decade. Her argument for completing books she doesn’t like is much grander in scale than mine. She wonders if the end of said book answers a question that she has always pondered. Her bookseller friend mentions two points; (I’m paraphrasing and inferring) first, if you didn’t like the first 200 pages why would you like the second 200, and second, you won’t ever be able to read all the books you want anyway.

My reasons could only aspire to be as lofty and existential as hers. I simply feel that once I’ve decided that I’m not enjoying a book, I’ve devoted too much time to it to simply put it aside and move on. You’d think I’d know that by the time I was 50 pages in, but I continue to give books another chance. I think, maybe if I read another chapter or another 15 pages something will happen that will change my perspective. The next thing you know, I’m over halfway through a book I’d rather burn than finish, yet I continue to slog through to the end.

Before reading her article I had two questions. The first, she answered as I now know that I’m not the only one that tortures myself like this. Second, is there a way to stop? The three books I’ve stopped reading over the last 10 years have all been extreme cases. I would have to purposefully set aside time to read in hopes to move closer to the end. After too long attempting to read the book I came to realize that I no longer remembered what previously happened in the book.

Maybe one day I’ll come to realize that it’s okay to put down a book I don’t like and move on to the one on my shelf calling my name. Until then, I will just have to continue to be selective in picking my reading material.

Do you have any books you haven’t finished? Why?

It’s Leap Year!!: a great reason for an e-book sale!

If you haven’t picked up this book and read it yet, do yourself a favor and do it this weekend. You won’t regret it.

M.P. McVey

As a child, I was always confused by the idea of leap year. I was bewildered by the idea that one out of four years would be longer than the rest. Imagine a child born on that day and only having a birthday party every four years … what  a travesty.

But as I got older I realized the importance of Leap Year. The Gregorian calendar, by which we live, is not a perfect tool. After all, a day is not truly a day–seeing how it takes our rock 24 hours and 59.178 seconds to complete a full rotation.

This seems like such a small, insignificant amount… even at the annual total of six hours. But science is very finicky when it comes to things such as math. Astronomically speaking, each and every second matters when it comes to celestial events and seasons.

Life would be different without it. Without…

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Piled High and Deep

When I wrote my last post a few weeks ago I had the best intentions, as I always do, to blog more frequently. This time I wasn’t going for anything spectacular. I hoped to have a new post every two weeks. Well, I’m a week behind. But, it’s better than nothing.

In those three weeks I’ve added more writing projects to my plate. It seems that the more I sit down and work on any one writing project I find others that both interest me and call to me.

With help from my wonderful wife I have started in on edits to a short story that I wrote more than a year ago. I hope to have it finished and ready to be sent out for consideration soon. (Mental note: I should probably give myself a hard and fast deadline on that.)

I have also decided to tweak and work on another story I completed some time ago. One of the writing groups I’m a part of on Facebook (I love being in touch with other authors on Facebook) is putting together an anthology. This will be the second one that will include stories submitted only by authors of this group. The group is large, but I’m hoping that my story will stand out enough to warrant inclusion. If chosen it will see ebook and hard copy availability. That idea alone is exciting.

As if I needed more stories to work on, I ran across another anthology that’s accepting submissions. The cool twist for this one is to take a public domain story (fairy tale or other such) and retell it with a sci-fi bent. I think I’ve narrowed it down and am brainstorming a way to rework and retell The Elves and the Shoemaker. At this point I just need that one little thing to make it really unique and then I should be off and running. Really hoping that once the pieces come together I can knock out that story in an evening.

All of this on top of continuing to work night after night on Hush. I’m making progress, but beginning to feel like I need to put a cap on it. Not that it is getting too long, I just need to have an ending in sight. The new trailer for Netflix Daredevil Season 2 is going to be my motivation. Set to debut March 18th I’m going full bore to get a draft of Hush completed by then. We’ll see.

At this point I’m just excited that my continued daily work on Hush hasn’t drained my creative juices, it appears to have just fueled them. Excited to see what I can come up with in the next month. Time to check some projects off the To-Do List.

A Look Back, A Look Forward

Last year about this time I decided I would try a new way to motivate myself, mostly in regards of my writing. I looked back at what I’d accomplished as a writer in 2014 and posted goals I hoped to achieve in 2015. Needless to say, I accomplished very little in regards to those writing goals. Not for lack of trying. And I’m okay with that.

For much of the year my writing goals got sidetracked by my other hobbies (such as I have time for). But it was not a total loss. I learned a lot about what I need to do in order to be productive as a writer while continuing balancing all the other aspects of my life.

The largest achievement I made in my writing was in thanks to a Writing Challenge setup and orchestrated by a couple of authors from The Fantasy Sci-Fi Network. The goal is meant to help motivate and garner results in the “What About Bob?” mentality. Baby steps. It’s really quite simple. Write 100 words (or more) a day on a project that fits in the realm and purview of FSFNet. In October I took the challenge to heart and between October 1 and December 31 I wrote at least 100 words each and every day. 92 days. I totaled 30,261 words. The best part of this challenge was that I created and fostered a good habit. The other participants were fabulous motivators. We cheered and supported each other the whole way along.

Each and every one of those words I wrote in those three months was added to my horror/paranormal novella. By the time the challenge ended I progressed from a novella, to a full-blown novel. This piece is likely to end up over 70,000 words when I finish the first draft. It’s exciting. It’s invigorating. It’s addictive.

I’ve continued on with another challenge supported by the FSFNet. Thus far I have nearly 8,000 more words. While a few hundred are for a short story that desired itself written, the vast majority are added to that 30,000.

The task of completing the story I set forth writing is moving towards its conclusion. I can see an ending and with it the completion of a draft of my first novel. An amazing achievement in itself. I have every intention of working on this project after completing the draft. I’m going to edit and edit and edit. My wife and alpha reader is already looking forward to reading it and helping me strengthen every aspect of the story. From there…I have a few ideas, but nothing concrete yet. Ideally, the novel will be ready and available by the end of 2016.

Once that project is on to edits, I have other places my mind wants me to write about. I’ll visit those as I attempt to maintain my new found habit and addiction to writing. Practice makes perfect. And so I will.

I have a few concrete goals in mind, but unlike last year I don’t think I’m going to lay them out here. They are tucked away for me to know, and hopefully as the milestones are passed, I can share that excitement and adventure with you.

P.S. One final note about the growing horror/paranormal novel that is my current focus. For those that I’ve spoken with about my writing in the past know titles are quite often the hardest part for me. I have decided on a title and plan to reveal that to family and friends on my Facebook page this Friday. Hopefully, you’ll stop by and tell me what you think of it. And maybe, if the creative juices flow steady enough until then, I’ll toss in the synopsis or a rough snippet.

A Boy and His Dog

Over the last couple of weeks my wife and came to a very difficult decision. One of our two dogs needed to find a new place to live. We’ve had one dog since the winter after we got married, we celebrated 11 years this summer. Our other dog we adopted around 3 years later. They were our kids until we had kids. Like a lot of families when human children arrive the animal children are required to take a back seat. One of the dogs has adjusted more easily than the other. I’m sure their breed mixes have something to do with that. The chow/lab mix has grown more and more displeased with his place on the totem pole as time has gone on. The lab/retriever mix continues to be as happy-go-lucky as always.

The final straw came recently as the chow/lab began to become more aggressive. Growling under his breath. The choice became clear. We couldn’t trust him around our boys (4 and almost 1 year old). Last week I drove with him to a local shelter and surrendered him over. I hope that he will have a chance to live his remaining time with a loving family (without smaller children – which seem to annoy him).

I’ve already witnessed the largest benefit to giving up one dog. Our remaining dog (the lab/retriever mix – Duke) loves the boys and loves to play. Before the weather turned colder this week I was able to take a walk with all 3 boys in the afternoon after their naps. D wanted to hold the leash. While initially a little uneasy, I knew that Duke would listen to me better than our other dog ever would have. We gave it a shot. D had the best time being able to walk Duke.


Seeing this just solidified to me that we made the right decision. While we made the decision for one reason, it’s clear now that the benefits will be much greater than if we continued on the way we had and my boys can go back to loving and living with the happiness that is a dog.

The Reason I Run

While I have a few stories that I could link and publish this week for another edition of Nerd News I feel that this week I need to go a little more free form with my post. If the mood strikes me I may toss that geekery together and post it, but not now.

A little more than 4 years ago I decided that I wanted to start running for exercise. I’ve never been a gym rat, I don’t have the time to commit to crossfit or lifting weights on a regular basis, but I needed to do something. I also chose running because I thought it might, initially, require the least monetary investment. I already owned athletic shorts, I had old t-shirts I could run in, if I bought a few pairs of socks and a new pair of dedicated running shoes, paired with a program (Couch to 5K) and its accompanying app on my phone I should be good to go. I also chose it because my wife and I were expecting our first child. I wanted to be able to get down on the floor, roll around, and run around the yard with my kids. Running, I thought, could be a gateway for better health and maybe in the future other exercise. So, I started the program.

I’d had problems with my knees since junior high, so I figured, take it slow and I’ll be fine. I was mistaken. My knees again brought pain and frustration. It wasn’t serious enough to go to the doctor, so I would just rest and once feeling better, I’d start again. The birth of D and the winter months sidelined me further. I got going again in the summer. I’d done some research, changed shoes, and started again. Again, before long I was sidelined, this time, my knees were fine, it was awful shin splints. Months of rest and a fresh start.

Before long, my wife gained an interest and we both began running again. She was my ultimate motivation to keep going. It was fun to be able to go out, pushing the stroller with D cruising along, both of us, spending time  together and exercising.

We have both gotten smarter and stronger in our running since those days. We have both finished a half marathon. She finished it a year before I could make the mileage. She would have run with me last year, but she was pregnant with our second son. Since F has arrived our running has been sporadic at best, but we usually get out individually about once or twice a week for runs of about 5K (3.1 miles).

In order to make running easier for us with 2 little boys we invested in a double jogging stroller. It was well worth it. But, getting out and running has still been difficult. As the weather begins to cool off we both hope to pick up the pace. Running in cooler weather is like running in a new body. The crisp fall air rushing past your face working to balance out a warm autumn sun on your face.

I am privileged enough to be able to be a stay-at-home dad during the day. One of my favorite perks is that if I wasn’t able to drum up motivation in the morning for a run, when the boys wake from afternoon naps, if time permits before my wife arrives home from work, we can squeeze in a run. Today was one of those days. While D was initially resistant, he warmed up quickly to the idea and we got ready to go.

As recently as this summer D has emulated his mother and I when it comes to running. He will put on our half marathon medals that hang on the fridge and run circles around the living room. When we go out for runs he will often start by running up and down the sidewalk then allow me to buckle him into the stroller. He will also grab out headphones and hold them to his ears while doing his “runs”. Like mommy and daddy, as he says. He has even requested and we purchased a headband so he can go on runs.

A few times in the last couple weeks when I go, he wants to run with me. Not sitting in the stroller with F. Okay. He runs on the sidewalk while I jog pushing the stroller against  the curb. His longest distance before today was 1/2 mile. Pretty awesome for 4 years old. Today he said he wanted to run. Sure. Off we go. I’ve run the same route so many times now I have a pretty good idea of the 1/2 mile markers. I thought  he would sputter and ask to sit around a 1/2 mile. Nope. He wanted a small drink from his water bottle and insisted on continuing on. We took a few short breaks for  a drink and to walk about 15-20 steps, but then he would continue to run. He went 2 MILES before he decided he wanted to ride!

When I first started running it was to help improve my own health. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought that our son would wish to imitate our love of running. Ever. Especially, so early. I smiled the whole time we were out today. As of today, my boys are the reason I run.

Nerd News…Again

Usually while preparing for The Geek Awakens radio show I manage to find multiple stories that we just don’t have time to cover on air. This week I was only able to scrape together a few which means I don’t have much as far as a Nerd News update goes. Let’s see what else is out there for us to geek out over.

Beautiful Blue Beijing – In honor of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II 5 million cars were required to drive alternately in order to allow the smog over the city to dissapate. The change is absolutely shocking. Two things came to mind when I first saw the pictures after the jump. “Wow!” and a quote from Get Shorty’s Dennis Farina, “They say the (bleep)ing smog is the (bleep)ing reason we have such beautiful (bleep)ing sunsets.” If nothing else it should give us all pause to think about the pollution we feed into the atmosphere everyday.

Cyberpunk Speed Chess – We actually talked about this on air, but it definitely makes more sense if you take time to watch the video included in the link. It’s really a cool idea and as mentally challenging as chess is, I think it would awesome to give this new fast paced game a shot.

NerdCon: Stories – I’ve always been a nerd. Geeking out about stuff is normal for me. As my geekery is refreshed as I spend time reading comic books, enjoying the wealth of superhero movies, and strive for more in my young writing career I have also found a desire to experience a “con”. The link is for a new “con” that will be debuting in the beginning of October. It is meant to focus on storytellers of all kinds. A few featured names appearing are John Scalzi and Patrick Rothfuss. Hopefully it is well received and successful and begs for an expanded encore next year.

I’ve already found a few stories for on air next week, so hopefully I will have a few more fun, interesting, nerdy links for all of you next time.