On the Shoulders of Giants

I have many things to be thankful for this year. My life is going well in many regards, and this fall has been fantastic, mostly because of one big piece of news. On November 24th, the book containing my first fiction sale came out: Edward Bryant’s Sphere of Influence. This completes the hat trick of selling fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, so I can finally cross that item off my bucket list.

I could not have picked a better market for my first story sale. EBSoI is a tribute anthology to one of my mentors, Edward W. Bryant, Jr., whom I’ve mentioned on this site dozens of times. My story, “Chesterfield Gray” (which I’ve also mentioned on here numerous times), is in fine company, because stories by Connie Willis, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kevin J. Anderson, Mario Acevedo, Bruce Holland Rogers, and Ed Bryant himself¬†appear in the volume, as well as work by more than a dozen other writers and friends. I’m honored to have my work share the same pages as these giants of the industry. Thank you to Chuck Anderson and Jim LeMay, Editors of the anthology, for inviting me to submit my work and ultimately including me.

But those aren’t the only giants upon whose shoulders my story stands. In addition to passing through two of Ed’s writing groups, “Chesterfield Gray” was also critiqued in Melanie Tem’s writing group and by my first mentor, Leonard “Red” Bird. It’s thrilling to me that all three of the people whom I have considered mentors weighed in on the story at one time or another, and that it was ultimately deemed of high enough quality to be included in the anthology.

So, Melanie, Red, and Ed: This one’s for all of you.

Dinner and a Veil

Tonight, my stepson joined us for dinner. He showed up wearing a shirt that said, “My parents said I could be anything I wanted, so I became an asshole.” I thought it was pretty funny, but not necessarily appropriate for Red Lobster.

Late in the evening, I started reading Trey Barker’s Veil of the Soul, a prose adaptation of Trey’s stage play about the life of Edgar Allan Poe. It’s very good so far; it’s obvious that Trey spent a lot of time researching Poe’s life, and the details really help bring the prose to life.

Jammin’ With Jim

I got to play music with my good friend Jim for the first time in a couple of years today. I showed him my finished Carvin Bolt Kit and my Fender Cyber-Twin, then we BSed for a while. Eventually, we sat down with our acoustic guitars and played for a couple of hours. It was refreshing to play acoustic with him, and we slipped back into some of our old tunes with no problems. He also taught me the chords to Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue,” which I had always wanted to learn, but never tried. I taught him “Ode to Billy Joe,” since I’ve been working on it for the Tem class on Thursday.

I also got an e-mail from another friend, Bill, who had written a powerful short-short that he wanted me to read. I won’t give away the story, but I was impressed with it. I hope he can find a home for it somewhere.

I had intended to write a review of Word Work tonight and write some more on “Chesterfield Gray,” but somehow a chunk of time vaporized between dinner and bedtime; it’s now after 11:00 PM and I have to get up at 5:30 in the morning. I’m going to listen to my body and sleep.

Right after I read Trey Barker’s Veil of the Soul. Honest.

Oh, the Broncos beat the 49ers to go 2-0 on the season. Good start, gentlemen! (No, that’s not where my chunk of time went. I sacrificed watching the Broncos game to spend time with Jim. I told you he was a good friend.)

Commitment Conflicts

Today, we celebrated my friend Jackie’s birthday by going to a mini-golf course and out to dinner at Pizzeria Uno. That didn’t keep me from getting some reading done, though. I also read about half of Trey Barker’s chapbook, Where the Southern Cross the Dog. The book consists of three horror stories tied together by old blues songs, and I’m enjoying it so far.

One thing bothered me while I was at the mini golf outing, though. I was invited to my god daughter’s 2nd birthday party on an upcoming Thursday night, but I’m already committed to a writer’s group that night. It’s not really a session I can skip, like I did the Old Possum’s session last month, because I will be assisting in the delivery of the material. This is the class where I will be accompanying Melanie Tem on “Ode to Billy Joe” before we discuss the storytelling aspects of the song.

“Waitaminnit,” you’re saying. “I thought you did that last week.” Good catch. I was scheduled to, but that class was pushed back a couple of weeks, and I forgot to mention it in this creativity journal.

Most writing books state that if you are going to be a successful writer, you have to be prepared to sacrifice some time with friends and family, and that conflicts will inevitably arise. This is one of those cases. I haven’t been there much for my god daughters since I embarked on this writing thing, and that eats at me, especially at times like this. I justify it by saying that, at this point, I’m not really needed in their lives. When they are older, and need someone to relieve them from the stress of dealing with parents day-to-day, I need to be available for them. But I also realize that if I don’t have a long-term relationship with them, they won’t trust me when I will most be able to help them. I hate that struggle.

I feel guilty about something else, though, too. We could probably work something out for the writing group so that Melanie could continue it without me and my guitar present. But, when I honestly examine which I would prefer to do, I want to perform at the writing group more than attend the birthday celebration. That sounds harsh, but it’s honest. If my god daughter were older and we were closer, I would have a tougher time with the decision. Admitting that, I feel very guilty, but I also feel that I’m being true to what I want to do. I don’t know which is right.

Southern Cross and Primer

We worked more on the house last night; the upstairs hallway (and all seven doors in it) are now painted and my wife primered (?) over some stenciled roses in the bedroom. Tonight we’re going to a Colorado Rockies game, so we won’t get any painting done. But tomorrow, while she’s at work, I will try to get the stairwell painted. I read more of Sophie’s World last night, and I also got a couple of books in the mail that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. Where the Southern Cross the Dog (Fairwood Press) and Veil of the Soul (Yard Dog Press) are chapbooks by Trey Barker, a writer-stagehand-musician-former radio personality-funny guy in Illinois. I’m especially looking forward to Where the Southern Cross the Dog, because the stories in it are inspired by Mississippi Delta Blues. When I complete each, I will post a review on this site.