Oh man. Look at that poster. Look at it! It's beautiful. I will never not be excited for a Godzilla movie. I mean...giant radioactive lizard smash! Am I right? Oh, and I guess Kong will be there too. Which brings me, kind of, to the point of this blog. Recently I got asked why I didn't like King Kong as much as Godzilla. And aside from the obvious answer of...
...it got me thinking. I mean, Kong is cool, I guess in his own way, smart monkey, but then in the same vein, why was the original American Godzilla (hereby stripped of honor and referred to as Zilla as it should be) so hated. I mean...it had a cool design. And an ever cooler animated series. So what didn't work?
Welcome back, me! That's right, I'm back. Again. With a long-ish post this time. I'm going to talk about the idea that writers have to write everyday in order to...I guess be writers? And it will tie in a bit to why I haven't been posting as frequently or as actively.
So yeah, I've been MIA. No blog posts, not much social media presence, just sort of absent.
Why, you may ask?
I've been overwhelmed. Nothing wild, but within the past year I finished, edited, submitted, and got contracts for two novels and a short story. On top of that I wrote and submitted several other short stories. I would come home from work and write for at least two hours everyday. And you know what, it worked. But I feel like it kind of fried my brain a bit. Throw that in with the fact that now I'm trying to plan and do marketing, and live my life in the middle of a fucking pandemic, and my brain is a bit scattered (read: *the sound a balloon makes as it deflates*).
I started three novels this year so far and reached around 5K words across the three, which I'm proud of, but damn was it a slog to get that much out. Nothing like what it felt like when I was writing before. Different, and clunky. Like I was out back pushing my brain-mobile instead of just flooring the gas. I didn't feel rusty, or out of practice, I felt like I was trying to tap a source that ran dry. Same thing for blog posts and social media (which admittedly I've always been terrible at), nothing felt right to post and I really didn't want to waste people's time with whatever half-baked idea leaked out of my left ear.
So I took some time to myself.
All things considered, I guess once February ends it'll be three months of break. It's been nice, save the anxious voice in the back of my head telling me I should be writing everyday lest something terrible happen. I got back into gaming, one of my other passions, got my basement redone thanks to a ridiculously hardworking friend, caught up on/started some new shows, and otherwise just did...nothing. It was great. And during all this I let my brain recover. Now, I'm not a full time writer. I don't really have deadlines so it isn't imperative that I hop immediately to my next writing project. Take the rest of this post with that in mind. The rules change when there's...well, rules. But here's what not writing made me think about writing.
Greetings! I know I've been absent (again). Life has been insane and there wasn't too much to report. Until NOW. NOW I return, and I return with exciting news! That's right...another book announcement! Last year I finished my second novel, a kaiju (that's giant monster) novel titled UP FROM THE DEPTHS, and submitted it. I'm pleased to announce that the contract has been signed and things are in motion to get this baby published. A huge thank you to Severed Press for picking up this story!
It's December 27th, 2020. In 5 days this wild year will be over, and 2021 will begin. I can't wait. Now I'm not under the delusion that 2021 will come and everything will just miraculously return to the way it was before. Covid-19 still exists and we have to make it through January which I'm sure will be a really fun month...that was sarcasm. I also can't say that 2020 was all bad for me. I mean my book got accepted for publication as did a short story of mine. I've also managed to avoid getting sick, knock on wood. So yeah, 2020 has hands down been god-awful, but there have been some bright spots. Still, a new year is symbolically a fresh start for people, so I want to try and remain on the optimistic side of things.
I've never really been good at New Year's Resolutions. I'm great at making them, but not so much at keeping them. I've tried the weight loss one and usually make it until the first time I miss a workout or overeat. Or I say I'll try and eat better and then I smell a broccoli and want to hurl myself into the road. Yeah, I'm bad at them. But I'm gonna try them again this year, like I always do and maybe, just maybe, by putting them on the internet for all of you to see and hold me accountable, maybe I'll do at least one. I've broken down my goals into two categories: "As a Writer" and "As a Person", because if you didn't know, in order to write I must temporarily shed my humanity and become a god of dark creation who brings suffering to all he creates...or something like that. So, without further ado...
As a Writer:
1) I want to finish a novel. Between January 1, 2021 and December 31st, 2021, I want to finish a book. I don't know which one, but I would like to have a finished manuscript before the end of the year. Pretty simple. And I know I can do it.
2) Connect more with other writers via Social Media, and, Covid willing, conferences and meet-ups. I'm not a people person, which is to say I love people but I have zero idea how to engage them half the time. Do I say hi? Is shaking hands still a thing? What if they hate me? What if I hate me? Any, I see all these writers and I want to get to know them and sit with the cool kids. So I'm going to really make an effort on that part to really throw myself out to the wolves and hope to god they are friendly.
3) Have a successful book release. Touched by Shadows is coming out in September and while I think every author hopes that their book will hit the bestseller list (and I am no exception) I really just want the release to go well. Well is a nebulous concept, but I guess I just want to see people excited for and enjoying my book.
As a Person:
1) Obligatory weight loss goal. I could use to lose a few. Quarantine gave me some extra. I'd like to make them disappear.
2) Do my emotions better. This ties in with me not really being a people person and not knowing how to engage with them. But I'd like to get better at communicating my feelings with my friends and family. I'm working on this one already, but they get muddled and confused and I come off as either distant or uncaring sometimes. So as a starter, I'll put it here safely behind a screen and buried in a blog post: "If you're my friend, or family, or an acquaintance or even someone I just chat with every now and then...I love you and think you're awesome." Never mention this to me.
3) Read more. Look, I can't remember the last book I read that wasn't mine. I burned halfway through about 3 books on writing this year, but I would like to get back to my roots. Reading for fun. I used to be able to burn through books pretty fast and now it's like hiking uphill through molasses, backwards. So I think I'm going to try and read a book a month. And I'll probably talk about said book here.
So yeah, these are my "New Year's Resolutions" both as a person and a murderer of fictional characters. What are some of you guys Resolutions? What Resolutions have you succeeded at in the past?
Also, what was the last book you read? I'm always looking for suggestions.
Phew! It's been awhile. Between trying to handle a backyard that wants nothing more than to try and go for a swim and take my basement along with it (something that still isn't fixed, mind you), managing all that stuff that I got in order to "pimp out" my basement because I thought it had been fixed alright, removing shorted light switches, writing and edit short stories to meet deadlines, and trying to organize and secure my Pokemon card collection to keep it accessible but out of harm from the water. I've not had a lot of time. Oh, and I got sick...during a pandemic. Not Covid thankfully, but the scare was there. So I think I counted three more gray hairs in my beard yesterday but I'll have to confirm it wasn't just a trick of the light. And it's almost Christmas! Luckily I have almost all of my shopping done. Just two more people to buy for. Which I should probably do today...
But, moving on! I do have some good news to through on the pile! I announced it on Twitter and Facebook, but didn't make it here, so I will now...not only do I have a book (Touched by Shadows) coming out on September 24, 2021 through JournalStone Publishing, but also, my short adventure horror story, "The Thing at the Top of the Mountain" is going to be included in Off Limits Press' FAR FROM HOME anthology! I am beyond excited to share a space with so many other high quality authors. No release date for that quite yet, but I'll be sure to point it out when we know it.
I also may have some other news coming up soon, so there may be an off-schedule blog post in the near future, so keep an eye out for that! Speaking of schedules...once a week was a lofty goal, and it was fun, but life, uh, finds a way...to make that difficult. So, going forward, and barring any important news I need to freak out over, the new schedule for the blog will be every other week...bi-weekly...twice a month. However you want to phrase it. It will give me more time to prep quality posts for you all to enjoy and also hopefully make maintaining the blog a bit less stressful in conjunction with all of the life happening around me. Thank you in advance for understanding!
Since this is mostly an update post, I'll give you guys a bit of a peek into where I am in regards to writing projects. Most of the ones I've been laboring over are done. As you know, Touched by Shadows is out next year, "The Thing at the Top of the Mountain" will be in an anthology next year, I have another short horror story writing specifically for a submission next year (I know, look at me, not procrastinating), and of course the other potential news I mentioned is well...a potential. Those were my big 2020 projects. So what's next for Vaughn?
1) I started working on a Hard Science Fiction novel, tentatively called Spire. It's been fun doing all of the research and stuff to solidify the science in my fiction, but oh god it's a lot, and so progress is pretty slow on that front. Still I would like to have a draft of it done by the end of next year.
2) I have several ideas (and a few words) for a potential sequel to Touched by Shadows, with more of an occult mystery feel to it. That's all I really want to say on that because spoilers.
3) I want to write a Sword & Sorcery fantasy novel. I love epic fantasy, sprawling over several books, but sometimes I just want a nice, self contained adventure. Maybe some swashbuckling. And more fun. Grimdark fantasy (which I do love a bit of from time to time) has become more popular as of late, but I'd really just like to write a fun fantasy novel. I don't have too much in the way of ideas on this front at the moment, but it's on my list of things to get to.
4) Short stories. There used to be a point where I swore up and down I couldn't write short stories to save my life. I submitted three short stories this year, two rejections and and an acceptance. I recently submitted an edited version of one of the rejections to a different publisher, so it's up in the air. But I'll probably write some more in between working on the above novels and hopefully get some more submissions out there. I may also dive into some of my older ones as well and see if I can give them a new, better life. Who knows.
These are all pretty vague because they're all super early on in their life cycles, and destined to change, fall through, die, reincarnate and so on, as projects often do. They're more here to highlight that "yes, I'm still working on things, I've just exhausted this years allotted word fund and will likely be working well into next year before I have anymore big updates.
Any thanks for following along with me, and I hope you'll continue to support my writing and read my random thoughts. An early happy holidays to all of you!
Okay, maybe I did. But I had a good reason. What was it? Uh, well, Ikindagottheps5andendedupplayingitallweekend. Okay. There, I said it. Happy? Anyway, I'm back. And it's almost Thanksgiving! I can already taste the mashed potatoes. This month I've been trying to blend together things I'm thankful for with things about me. I've also tried to really hammer home a bit of my personality (read: all over the place, thinks he's funny, and also, all over the place). But I think this one is going to be a little different. I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my cats, the person reading this, and so on, but there would never be enough time to go through every person I'm thankful for. I'd have either a novel of a blog post or I'd still be doing thankfulness blogs by the time next Thanksgiving rolled around. So, I'm going to focus on the other half. A bit about me as a writer. I often hear writers talking about where they struggle with writing, but I hear less about where the excel. And while it's great to commiserate over where you suck, I think it would help a lot with imposter syndrome and the overall confidence posture of new writers if they were encouraged to talk more about what they are good at. So imma do both. Because it's my blog. And encourage anyone who reads this to do the same. Bit of advice though...do the stuff you're good at AFTER the stuff you think needs work. Pays dividends to end on a high note.
So I really enjoyed last weeks format where I tell you guys a bit about me as a writer, while also taking a moment to thank the people who have helped me along the way. I think it worked, and thus, I am doing it again. Now, every writer has a process. Some are more clearly defined, and others are a bit more slapdash, but it works for us. So this is my process, and the people involved in it. They'll know who they are, but I don't want to throw their names out there without permission, so I'll refer to them by what they do to help me.
Vaughn Lore #1: Some People's Parents are the Reason They Drink. Mine Are the Reason I Write. In a Good Way, I Swear!
At the end of the day, everyone writes for their own reason. More realistically they write for a whole myriad of reasons that blend together into one super-reason. While I have many reasons why I write, I wanted to take a bit of time to talk about two of the people along the way who fed what eventually became my passion for writing. Thanksgiving is this month, so this is a way of saying thanks to the people who've probably had the most impact on me as a writer. The real OGs. Mom and Dad, don't read this unless you want emotions. This post will probably be a bit more anecdotal than my previous ones, since it's hard to thank people without highlighting what they've done, and also a little bit less directly related to writing as a whole but more specific to my evolution as a writer. Feel free to skip if you're only here for random brain drippings and not a little bit of Vaughn Lore. (Yes, it is the blog equivalent of yelling "Hi Mom" into a Television camera)
I think in a lot of ways, fear is inherent in writing. Not in a "I'm writing because I'm scared what will happen otherwise" way, and certainly not in a "Dread Cthulhu has taken the reigns of my soul and commands I write these apocalyptic words" way (no judgment of course if Dread Cthulhu is your muse and he does command you to write, inspiration comes from all sorts of places, but if your next novel is going to end the world, I think a warning might be fair). But in the writing process, or at least in my writing process, I have to deal with a lot of fear. Overcoming that fear is one of the harder parts of writing for me as an individual. And what do I do when something terrifies me? I write about it. Fair warning, this is a long one. Enjoy!
That's it! Right there, in that picture. My book. I just...wow, I found out yesterday that all the signing was done and got the release date for TOUCHED BY SHADOWS (9/24/21), and I can still barely believe that it's actually happening. The book was five years in the making, and went through so many drafts, I lost track. And now it's going to be published. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and supported me, and thank you to JournalStone Publishing for seeing the greatness in a manuscript I was terrified to submit.
So yes, this post is off schedule, but I felt it would be better to talk about the book here than in 280 characters on Twitter, or on Facebook which I apparently will need to re-learn how to use...oh, and this post won't be a list, promise.
Vaughn A. Jackson: Wordslinger