James Maxey wrote a book called Bitterwood, which I I saw advertised in the Solaris Fantasy Anthology. Here’s his blog.

And I found about Lisa Shearin’s blog through James’, and she also had some great advice.

And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the blog Writer Unboxed, which contains posts by and about many authors or genre fiction.

And here’s a handy RSS-feed of such articles, that will be updated as I find more.

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Learned about this artist from a tweet by jonray. His stuff is amazing. He’s evidently quite intelligent…and quite busy.

From his bio…

Combining elements of computer science, anthropology, visual art and storytelling, Jonathan Harris designs systems to explore and explain the human world.

Jonathan Harris / Biography

Be sure to click the link “work” at the top of the page. Also, make sure to check out a specific piece called “Universe.”

blade.jpgAbout a year ago, I joined a Horde guild that seemed pretty heavy into RPG. Guildchat and meetings were delightfully in full character. And many of the players kept journals of their characters in blogs.

So, I created a few characters myself, both for a Tauren Shaman and a Forsaken Rogue. And, I created blogs for each of them as well…

The Rogue’s Blog: A Blade in the Dark
The Shaman’s Blog: The Accounts of Ishanu

I really wanted to continue with each of these characters. However, I soon learned that the guild was pretty much on it’s way out. The characters never got to developed any further.

I look at these blogs today and I think what short a life these two virtual beings had. Here today, gone tomorrow. A whisper in the wind. And outside of a bit of data on the World of Warcrafts servers, and some text on the WordPress server, it is ulikely they will ever been seen or heard from again.

Many videogames, in one form or another, are a type of simulated hunting. And I believe many people enjoy the hunting experience found in games because it satisfies a desire to hunt that has been part of genes (or at least the male genes) since our species began. Being a pacifist an animal lover, I have no desire to tote a rifle into the woods and shoot bambi. But, I can understand the attraction. I’ve felt the rush of the hunt, and the kill, in many games.

The PSP videogame “Monster Hunter Freedom 2” has been very satisfying in this respect. You hunt more and more dangerous prey. You strive to get better and better equipment to load the odds in your favor. Many instances, you have to find the monster before you can kill it. And sometimes, after it has taken enough damage, it runs away and you have to find it again.

But beyond fulfilling a primal urge, what else makes one want to take down more and more challenging quarries? Is it purely the challenge? Do we crave bragging rights, even though you may never have the opportunity (or desire) to brag to anybody? And why do the real, big-game hunters keep looking for their next, great challenge?

Well, whatever the reason, these monster continue to live in my PSP, always available to be beat and beaten again. And each time, I try to do it quicker and quicker, and take as little damage myself as I can.

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website-shayesaintjohn200.jpgWho is Shaye? That’s hard to answer. She’s either a surreal character created by an avant-garde filmaker. Or, she’s just Shaye. But whatever she is, she amuses me. I’m sure most people would find her scary, disturbing, or altogether disgusting. But if you’re a fan of David Lynch, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, or William Burroughs, you may like Shaye.

See her videos on YouTube

Been stressing this weekend about my stories. Was focusing on my myth/fantasy. But it’s too big. Switching back to my time travel story. However, yesterday I did try the schedule-a-time-and-length-for-writing thing. Worked pretty good.

The trouble is I’ve been trying this for many years now. It does seem like I’ll never write anything, or at least never get it published. And I’m okay with just dropping it and just enjoying life. But even when I’ve tried doing that for a little while, either the new story ideas or ways to make existing ones just start popping into my head. Maybe it’s just going to be something I’ll always have. The desire and impetus to write, but will never finish. Like a monkey on my back, huh?

Is it a matter of scale? Since I have such a short attention span, should I focus on short stories, or even shorter? Should I just write treatments to get the stories out of my head? Or just write a blog of some sort, maybe snippets of stuff?

Anyway, going to work on the time travel one a bit. And stress about how busy this day (and week) is going to be.

dude-vinci.gifThe most aweseome-ist thing I’ve ever seen…

Dudeism.com – The Church of the Latter-Day Dude

Messages From Our Troops To The Families They Can Barely Remember

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There are two religions in my past in which ritual plays a major part: Roman Catholocism and Judaism. In each of them, I spent a certain amount of time a day devoted to rituals, that in hindsight, had no practical value other than bringing me joy and peace. Some of these rituals took place at a certain time, such as daily mass or the liturgy of the hours in Catholocism, or the waking blessing and washing of hands in Judaism. There were also rituals that happened throughout the day, usually in conjunction with other actions. When Catholic, I used to say the rosary to and from classes at college, or while falling asleep. When Jewish, I would offer blessings before certain actions throughout the day. There was also a time when I had no official relgion, but was very attracted to hinduism, that I repeated a mantra on prayer beads everywhere I went. And if I wasn’t engaged in a structured ritual, I was still always mindful of God as much as I could.

All these rituals did make me feel better in many ways. Repitition helped quiet and order my mind. And it was comforting to feel a part of a greater tradition and community of believers. And, I also believed the rituals actually benefitted or transformed me spiritually. And maybe even improved the world in some miraculous way.

Presently, I am an atheist. And since atheism is not a religion, I no longer have any ritualism in my life. Or so I thought.

A current pursuit of mine is that of trying to live frugally, efficiently, practically, and with as little negative impact on the environment. And in trying to do so, I realized, that I am most successful when I am engaged in what may be considered rituals. Or, at least, intentional mindfulness.

I am, by nature, have a very active and disorganized brain. (Just ask my wife) And to compensate, I have had a lifelong pursuit of trying to get more and more organized. And, in turn, and on good days, I can be very organized. So much that my boss recognized my abilities and made me a project manager at our firm. Kind of like James Earl Jones, who had (or has) a speech impediment, and worked so hard to overcome it that he eventually gained one of the most classic and impressive voices in entertainment.

One of the strongest methods for helping me stay organized is doing things slow and thinking about them. I used to dash in and out of my car, and quickly retrieved or returned certain things to and from my backpack. Or I would do things while walking, thinking multitasking is going to save me some time. And often, something would get forgotten. Now, when I get to the T-Station parking lot, I take my time, put my keys away in my backpack, retrieving my mp3 player, and put in the earplugs. Or, when I get to the store on the way home from work, I park and call my wife at home, then write down what I need to get while sitting in the car. I know this sounds minor, but it’s this taking things slowly and being mindful that has helped me a heck of a whole lot.

Mindfulness also helps in sustainability and nutrition as well. When I’m doing something, especially while in the kitchen or doing a chore, I’m always thinking, is there a way here that I can save resources or money? Can I re-use this boiling water or empty container? Is this really the healthiest way to prepare this food?

My former Rabbi taught me that when one prays, they should do so with kavanah, or, proper concentration. And mindfulness is also a big part of many of the eastern religions. So recently, I realized I was still striving for kavanah. But instead of focusing on and being mindful of a supreme deity, I was being mindful of my body, my community, the environment, and the earth. And like a religious ritual, it did bring me peace and joy. But it also actually accomplished something positive in the practical, material world.

So, can ritualism be a part of an atheist’s life. There is no question. And in my case, it does bring me peace. But more importantly, I know it’s making the world a better place.

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The world has too long tried to solve its personal and societal problems through religion, politics, and philosophy. I say that instead of praying for someone or something, do something about it. Don’t look for the secret of or purpose of life. Life is what’s right in front of you. There is no hidden or predetermined purpose for your life. Our goal is just to survive, and help family and friends survive. If you want a purpose, make it yourself. But don’t call it a purpose. Call it a goal. And the goal is up to you. And if you aren’t harming anybody with or in the pursuit of that goal, you wont’ get any argument from me.

The world is so caught up in religious, commercial, political and nationalistic purposes and directives. And they’re all so convinced they’re come from a higher being. Or at least a universal truth. So much of our ills arise from the world of thoughts and fictions. What about the realities? The individual people’s problems. Yes, taken as a whole, these problems are monumental. But taken one at a time…?

Praying is a cop-out. But so is complaining and blaming a political party, philosophy, or figure. If you feel strongly about a political philosophy or figure, either do something about it. Or shut up. If you support the war, either sign-up, or send the troops goodies and letters. If you don’t…write your representatives or go out and march. I love something I saw on the net somewhere: “America’s not at war. The military is. America is at the mall.”

I watched the documentary Rainbow Man/John 3:16 the other day. He was the perfect example of someone being sucked into the world of thoughts and fictions. He was experiencing the world through preachers and tabloid show producers. And each have a monetary agenda. The first wants donations, while the second wants advertising revenues. They fed on him and left him a delusional zombie.

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Who I am

I live in Whitehall, PA (outside of Pittsburgh), with my wife Monique, stepdaughter Manon, our Sheltie puppy “The Dude,” and four cats: Piggy, White Devil, Bee Bee, and Tigger.