Monthly Archives: September 2013

Another Week, Another book

About a year ago, my wife (who’s rather well established as a writer these last two years) wanted to put out an anthology to fund a local New York City charity, and sent out a call for stories. She was kind enough to ask me to contribute something, and I did. The anthology, Urban Harvest, was released last weekend, and here it is.

Urban HarvestIt’s odd to go for such a long dry-spell without exposing any writing, and then to suddenly have two stories in the ether is rather jarring. It feels like a splash of cold water in the face, or being dunked into freezing ice after a hot and sweaty day. Jarring, and exhilarating at once. If you’d be so kind as to pick up a copy, you’ll find in it, a few wonderfully warm (and a couple of particularly chilling) stories and you’ll be benefiting a charity – City Harvest – that feeds the homeless at a difficult time of year.

So much work left to do – with Slipstream City Volume 1 already out and about, we need to being work on Volume 2.  We have a theme, we have an idea, and soon, we’ll put out a call for stories to collect with a rather brief reading period, I imagine. And of course, there is my own writing to get to.

There, that’s about all the promotion I can muster for my own material right now.

The autumn is barely begun, and already the season is full of projects eating away at time. Something about the smell of October that makes me want to paint the grayscale world in bloody shades of red. Best get to writing before the fleeting season escapes with all the muses riding on its patchwork cloak of leaves.


Writing and Roleplaying Games

In my non-existent free time, I like to play role-playing games of various sorts.

The memory of Dungeons and Dragons dulls many interests when the subject comes up. That was over 40 years ago. Today there are many new, innovative games that push the boundaries of gaming, going so far as to attempt social change around the world. Many are creator owned, and the cottage industry is a wellspring of diversity, inclusiveness and vibrant creativity.

That said, sometimes, a body just wants the comfort of familiar things, and so I play in my old Dungeons and Dragons group, and there is something like community in the familiar ritual of dice with many faces, character sheets and pencils. I have been gaming for nearly 20 years, and I don’t intent to stop till they put me in a grave.

One of my favorite things about gaming, is the amount of creativity that comes out of it. Often, gaming requires one to come up with backgrounds, for characters, for scenarios, new situations. Some of the more innovative new games go so far as to include all the players into the narrative role, granting them god-like powers to expand the story and fill out the world – a privilege usually reserved only to one person in older games, the one guiding the game.

In our current, recently rebooted game, I’ve recently started playing a new character and wrote up a brief background for him. Often, I find that this kind of writing is very effective in getting me to empathize and connect deeply with a character. Ultimately, my favorite thing about gaming is the deep sense of immersion in character (and story, and world) that lifts one from this reality into another, for a few brief hours. Not because something is lacking in this one, but rather, to search out a new horizon.

Here, then, is what I came up with.

Continue reading

Slipstream City

I was talking about finishing things last time, and I followed through on my own advise and finished up a project that has been a long time coming.

My friend, colleague, writer, film-maker, world-traveler and all-around good guy Sean Sakamoto and I had an idea to do a small collection of speculative-fiction stories about New York (where we live). The initial call went out to a few close friends, and we got a handful of stories. We wrote a couple ourselves and put together a small book, and here it is.

Slipstream City Volume 1: True Stories From Other New Yorks

Slipstream City Cover smallIt has taken a while to get here, but I’m glad it’s finally on Amazon, where people can possibly click on it and maybe even buy it, and at last, I hope, read it.

The actual exposing-the-book process has been very liberating, and I want to do more of it and on a larger scale. This is the first time I’m independently putting out my own material. Before, it has always been somebody else holding out an umbrella to shelter my work. This time, it’s just me (and Sean.)

We’re well on our way to working up a call for the second book. I want lots of stories, rich and thematic. But that’s the figure – for now, we are working to get the book more exposure as Volume 1 sails into the rear-view mirror.

On a personal level, this is the first work I have released into the open world since 2010. My short story “Entombed” was a finalist in the Blizzard Worldwide Story Contest and that left me with an incredible high, but shortly thereafter… well, maybe that’s for another day. I’m just glad to be back in the saddle.

See you guys down the trail.

Finishing Things

Anyone can come up with ideas, a few will even try to execute it, but the difference between an idea and a complete work is a vast gulf of effort and pain. Crossing that gulf is what separates the writers from those who can’t. Or don’t. Or won’t.

Or that has been my case, anyway. For years, I struggled with this idea of identity, whether or not I was a writer, for years, I wanted someone to tap my shoulder with a pencil and say, “Yes, now you’re a writer.” When I got stories into magazines, it wasn’t enough. When I had a play in a theater, it wasn’t enough. When I won a singular award from among thousands of stories, it wasn’t enough. And when I told this to someone, they blinked and shook their head. “You’ve arrived,” they said. “This is it.” But I didn’t believe it.

And now, it has been years in this malaise, struggling to self-identify as a writer and being unable to do so. Toying with ideas, making notes, creating elaborate outlines for books that don’t get written. Jotting a sentence or two every few days for ideas that would be brilliant if they were stretched out into stories, but it doesn’t happen. And now, I’m not a writer, I’m someone who thinks about writing, who wants to write, who dreams about it, but does anything but fucking write.


It gives me great pleasure to know that a small anthology I put together with a friend of mine is finished, and is under review with Amazon, and in a few short hours, I will be able to share a link to it. I’m done waiting for other people to tell me that I’m a writer.

If I’m the boss, then I demand a story from me every month, on the dot. Get to work.