Why do we fall, sir?

I know. I’ve used this element before. But I keep coming back to it. Clearly I’ve not learned to pick myself back up. Or my back has become so bad I no longer can pick myself back up. But this might be confusing to some of you.

why-do-we-fallIt has been months since I’ve been to the Victory – my favorite local coffee shop. I used to go there every morning to write. It was really the only way I could get anything done. By the time I was to a point where I had a shot to bounce back from losing my Aladdin, we had Ginger joining us. And she needed some stability. Fast. That was in August. Looking back, its been nearly three weeks since I’ve blogged (and that was the listing of what I’d read in January).

This morning the puppy woke me around 4am to go out. She was really excited to go out and to have breakfast. So I fed her. After finishing her food, she climbed up on the couch, dug a spot for herself under my quilt and went to sleep. And I mean SLEEP. Snoring louder than a dog that size has any business doing. So there I was with a snoring dog and no chance of getting any more shut eye.

I could have worked on edits. I could have written something new. Hell, I could have started up my audiobook or ebook for the reviews coming due this weekend. (Reviews being the one thing I have kept up on. I pushed one back due to my birthday, but that was it.) What did I do instead? I caught up on my television watching. I even watched a movie On Demand. To be fair, I’ve been missing a lot of movies since we adopted Ginger, but that’s not really a proper excuse.

The truth is there is no excuse.

why-the-treatsBefore it was being at a loss with no dog in the house. Then there was a dog who wouldn’t let me write without climbing into my lap and onto the keyboard. And now its just being out of practice. NaNoWriMo was even a stretch for me. It’s like my motivation left me and never came back. Only that gorilla? (See the notes about this blog branding if you’re confused.) That gorilla is rearing its amorous head. Which means the novel is still there, and the problem is with me.

Last night I intended to go home, make supper and do revisions on a couple of chapters to hand in to my writing group this week. With my wife working her national trade show (in California no less), Ginger and I are solo this week. I figured this would work fine. By the end of the night I hadn’t even tracked down the keyboard for my iPad. Or my Macbook Pro for that matter. I played with the dog. I fed her (and let her taste test my dinner). We watched television together.

Before she left, my wife was talking about how she missed Aladdin still. How she was feeling like he was still there. I’m feeling like Carol from this past week’s episode of the Walking Dead. Talking to Daryl out in the woods, she kissed him in a very motherly sort of way telling him to let the emotions happen. Of course she did this right after insinuating that she couldn’t allow herself to feel. Which is where I think I am right now, but at the same time it is likely what has me stoppered up. Like that first year I tried to complete NaNoWriMo and wound up driving family members out to Pennsylvania for an uncle’s funeral. Only this time the feeling has held out for months.

I have multiple manuscripts sitting in my Storyist folders. New this year is an account I have set to deal with editing and art payments just like a real indy publisher. And yet I can’t get back in the swing of things. At the heart of it though, it is all me. I’ve rarely suffered from any depression, and I don’t have it the way some of my friends do. Which is possibly why it was so easy for this one to sneak up on me.

In a memoir style short story I wrote about my Sensei teaching me that to overcome an opponent, even a fear, you had to name it. You can’t defeat something without knowing the measure of it and how can you know its measure if you haven’t identified the thing? Dragging it (as fluid and minor of a depression as it is) out into the open is me giving a name to it. Looking it in the figurative eye and acknowledging it.

For those friends fighting the real thing, the beast that Ethan Hawke recently called “the demon in the woods,” I have a lot of respect for the fight you give every day.

For everyone, I’m calling myself out to keep me honest. I will be releasing my writing this year. Keep an eye out for it. I will set some real deadlines to keep my butt in the chair soon. I do still have a convention to plan…

What’s Zombie Joe Reading? January Edition

So this year I have taken on two reading challenges. The first was a “new to me” challenge. Were I to meet the highest level of this challenge, this would have involved me reviewing only books of authors who were either debut, or ones I haven’t read currently. Sure, I usually read more than 50 books a year, but I have been slowing down with everything on my plate recently. Which brings me to the second challenge…

tales-nightshadeThe goal is to hit the “Marathoner” level of the audiobook challenge. This should also help me to reach my goal in the “new to me” challenge as I can use this to up my number of new authors. Additionally, I can read audiobooks while doing other things. I can work on my web development, do my puzzles (helps maintain the memory… long story), or do simple housework. Or complex housework for that matter… it’s not like I do anything with power tools. Casa de Zombie is in a condo. With the addition of this (and the inclusion of a new column on WLP for audiobooks called Sound Off), I am now scheduling two reviews a week. So that means I should be clocking in with 100-104 reviews for the year. Which assumes no “vacations” during that time. But let’s face it, a vacation just means “more time to read.”

So far this is what I have for the month of January (as noted in my 2015 Reading Challenge page). There is another that I have technically read during January, but the review is scheduled to go live February 1st. So that will be the first title for next month.

  • Half Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older
  • Transmuted by Karina Cooper
  • Unbound by Jim C Hines
  • Broken Shadows by AJ Larrieu
  • Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson (audiobook re-read)
  • Iron Axe by Stephen Harper
  • Tales from the Nightside by Simon R Green
  • Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

New Favorties

Half-Resurrection-Blues-Final-CoverWith the “new to me” challenge, I expect some new favorites to be added to my list of “go-to” authors. Top on that list of new folks is Daniel José Older. I like his style and snark, and can’t wait for an open credit on my Audible account to pick up the audiobook for my wife. Personally, I think he does an excellent job at narrating his own novel. It’s not something everyone can do. Stephen Harper will likely be on the list as well, but I don’t keep many fantasy authors there. Will have to see how it plays out in the long run. Assuming I have time to invest in a “fun” read. (Or if I am assigned another review of his titles.)

Really any of the 4 new authors I’ve read this month would make me pick future books they offer from a list for review. I liked each and every one of them enough to finish the story and give it a positive review. Looking at the February lists, there was no names I recognized yet though. Well, at least none that aren’t already scheduled. (I’m looking at you Jaye Wells.) I did find a narrator that I recognized as one of my “go-to’s” (Luke Daniels from the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne), but the book coming out is so far off my genre list I couldn’t justify picking it off the list.

Each and every one off of that list are titles I would suggest looking into. Though to be fair, some of those are multiple books into a series.

What are you reading?

Charity and Geekdom

This Christmas, as gifts for my wife and son, I ordered us all “Fuck Cancer” shirts from the campaign being run by Stephen Amell from Arrow. Part of this was from the link to my geek roots (and Arrow being one of my favorite shows), but the motivation goes much deeper. Sure my family is a supporter of cancer related charities – it’s one of the defining things about my family. Especially in recent years. Directly though, for me, it was about what cancer has taken from me. If you have been following this blog, you know that in July cancer took my best friend and dog from me.

I knew he was getting old, but to have him diagnosed with cancer that was causing such large tumors in him was a shock. I actually found myself echoing “fuck cancer” in my head. After more than fifteen years with us, not even my dog was safe. So I did what I could. Donated food to a local shelter. Adopted a rescue dog from that same shelter. And bought a shirt to show my personal support and to give money to charities working towards a cure.

Just this week, Amell’s new campaign started. A similar shirt design (though more family friendly), but this time when looking for a charity he went to the fans. The same fans that (literally) knocked it out of the park with the first campaign. From those suggestions, the proceeds are slotted to go to two different charities: Stand for the Silent as well as Paws and Stripes. I’ll definitely be picking up this shirt too.

Stand for the Silent is a charity that supports young people against bullying. While the discussion of bullying (causes, solutions, etc.) isn’t cut and dry, a dialog needs to be opened. And any charity that does this has my support. I was bullied quite a bit as a kid. Back then there wasn’t a focus on it like there is today. It was just one of those things you had to get through. And each school had at least one of “those kids.” Which is to say the target. In 3rd grade I beat up two 5th graders who were abusing someone else unable to stand up for themselves. Even after that, I was still the preferred target. It took someone else being in harms way for me to take a stand. Yup, I’ll stand with these folks.

amell-fb

post from Stephen Amell’s Facebook page

Paws and Stripes is a localized charity in the New Mexico area that takes rescue animals and trains them to be companion animals for veteran’s with PTSD and TBI. I think we all know how I feel about helping rescue dogs. But back somewhere around 17 or so years ago I suffered one of the “lesser” of the TBIs. I took a concussion bad enough it stripped away years of memory and forever change how I processed numbers in my memory. It is difficult to fully explain, but my memory of numbers was pretty core to a job where I routinely had to spout off numeric addresses of servers to customers or the support agents on my team. (At the time I worked for AT&T Worldnet in their support division.) It also left me with an increase in my migraines (frequency and intensity) as well as a constant, low-grade headache. Yeah, my 1-10 scale for pain is all sorts of screwed up.

Really, both of these hit home for me. Or hit a home run… since one of the shirts is a softball style jersey.

All of this sparked not only through social media (something I touched on in my blog over at Wicked Lil Pixie this morning), but through geekly pursuits. An actor, playing a DC superhero, engaging with his fans on a level similar to Felicia Day did with the Guild or Wayland does as each an every gig they play (as well as multiple forms of social networking). I may have joked about this back in college, but I fully believe it…

The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth.

So maybe go forth to the Represent site for the Sinceriously Campaign and pick up a shirt, hoodie, or tote bag. And maybe go check out the sites for the charities. I’m already picking up one of the dog shirts from Paws and Stripes for Ginger’s birthday. And yes… pictures will follow. ;)

Site Re-Branding

As you might have noticed, the blog has re-branded. This includes not only a new theme with feature photos (which I will need to post to older entries), but also a new name. While it might still be a “Great Day for America,” with Craig Ferguson leaving the Late Late Show, a number of my bucket list items (and the point of the blog) have been rendered impossible.

That said, I did still want to maintain a connection to Craig Ferguson as his comedy and work have been as much a inspiration as the music on my playlist. So I have stuck with a quote he gave during an interview on The View…

Writing a novel is like making love to a gorilla. You’re not done until the gorilla’s done.

Going forward, I will post my plans. I will also be updating my Bucket List to include these changes. For now, I am posting links to my new reviews in my reading challenge.

Every year I wrestle with the idea of resolutions. The final result I came to was that resolutions were destined for failure. I looked more towards setting up guidelines for myself. Of course that might just be me talking about the catalyst for the upcoming re-branding of my blog/website. My bucket list entries revolving around the Late Late Show were a resolution. What I am looking at for this year is to set the goal to do something towards writing every day. It could be as simple as “edit 3 pages before work” or as complex as “re-write chapter 3.” But every day would be something.

One of my goals remains to do more reading and reviews. I had set the goal last year of doing a review every Friday. I’d also envisioned doing as many as I could on local authors. So for this year, I am continuing on with the Friday review posts (Rule 42), but thanks to a project through Audible, I’m adding Sunday morning reviews to my calendar as well. One of the things I’d been stepping away from was listening to audiobooks while I work. I used to listen to a title every week, usually the ones I wanted to read – not ones I’d been asked to review.

Thanks to this new project (and how awesome Audible has been), I am three titles in already this year. Though only my first print review was for my “new to me” challenge this year, I have a new review that allows me to be doing something every day. It’s also gotten me back into the routine of thinking like a writer. Though I don’t suffer from depression or anxiety as some of my friends do, I’d taken a hit to my motivation and my life this past year. What I’m doing now is a huge leap in my recovery from that.

In hopes that some of my friends unfamiliar with Wicked Lil Pixie (or my reviews over there), you can look to my 2015 Reading Challenge page for the titles I’ve read and links to the reviews. Especially, I’d like to point out Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older. There’s something about it that speaks to me. Much like many of my favorite authors. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Plans for the New Year

Dream Analysis

Well, not really analyzing my dreams. More about what a day in the life of the zombie is like.

Anyone who hangs around me for any amount of time will find out that I have sleep disorders. Multiples. Additionally, they will hear about the memory loss from a rather isolated portion of time. Not really full on, but more like the stories I remember from those years are like things I have read in a book. Nothing I have any connection to, as if I had really been there. These two elements are important to my story today.

I wake several times a night – usually 2-3 times before I actually get up. This can be anything from a call of nature to a noise getting me up. The new puppy (okay, she’s almost two, but she’s like a sleepy puppy most of the time) is restless so will get up from a dead sleep to walk around a bit and lay back down. Add in that I am convinced something else is in the condo, and I sleep rather lightly. While I cannot say without a doubt there are no ghosts, I recognize I have neighbors. This means I am more than likely just hearing them. Though at 2am that is a tough sell.

We had a rough night this week. With another polar vortex of sorts hitting us (wind chills hitting around -30 as a low), not only did the agoraphobic dog not want to go out to do her “business,” it was quite dangerous for her to do so. Her feet would become painfully frozen pretty quick – especially since the booties we got her won’t stay on. Seriously, she has paws like little spears. Nothing for them to stick to. All this leads to anxiety, which in turn leads to me not sleeping well. Which leads to more issues with waking at every sound.

I joked about how a puppy is no longer cute when she wakes you by stepping on your face. That was the one that lead to me giving up the ghost and getting up. My wife plopped her on the bed next to me and “squish”. Before that though, I was woke from a dream. I don’t suffer night terrors or the like, but it is normal for a dream to pop me awake. Especially when there is an action element to it.

The past couple of nights it has been a dream about one of the things I only barely remember from those years – the first time I broke my ribs. It was a spinning back kick that I walked into during a tournament. It had literally ripped two ribs on the upper right side of my chest from my sternum. Technically not a break, but it still related to floating ribs. That they didn’t initially show up on an x-ray lead to them not healing correctly (and a couple weeks of hell during sparring practices).

While not as bad as the dreams ending with an abrupt stop at the business end of a dumptruck, it was jarring enough that the adrenaline boost from it kept me from going back to sleep for a while. My wife feels like she hasn’t slept when she remembers her dreams… for me it’s a little more literal. But the bright side was that I now have a bit more strong of a memory of something I had lost previously.

2015 Reading Challenge

Okay, this might be a little silly (considering I am reviewing a book a week), but I’m jumping in. I had originally bent sent one that was an erotica reading challenge, but I don’t even see that many review requests coming through for that genre. Not to mention, I don’t know that I want to change Rule 42 Fridays to Filthy Fridays just yet. ;)

You can find the specifics at the blog post below…

New to You Reading Challenge

As for me, I’m going to likely start a new page to collect these “New to Me” titles, with links to my reviews.