After nearly a decade of being a published fiction author, I have finally gotten my first piece of paid nonfiction published!!! Previously I'd only written one nonfiction essay as an introduction to my 2013 anthology Blood Type: An Anthology of Vampire Science Fiction On the Cutting Edge, and a couple of short political pieces for nonpaying websites that have long since disappeared with the dusts of cyber time. And thank goodness too because they were published long before I had any idea of how to craft prose etc. In order to save time, I'll share with you the post I made on Facebook about this piece and what it means to me:
I'm a bit nervous about this. Both because it is my first paid piece of nonfiction and because, as I said last week, within this piece is some of the most honest and vulnerable writing I've ever put to virtual paper. I talk candidly about the positive and negative effects of ADHD on both my personal life and on my fundraising campaigns. More candidly than I have before.
Part of me worries some folks may see me differently or feel like I'm not worthy of their trust or support as a result. But, I'd rather be honest so maybe other folks can learn from my mistakes or maybe even realize that there may be a bigger reason that they are struggling. That maybe they're not just lazy and they're definitely not worthless like their mind constantly tells them they are.
And maybe, just maybe, some people will see just how real and devastating those four capital letters are for folks whose struggles they've taken for granted or laid the blame solely on their shoulders when they didn't choose for their brain to be wired differently.
When they didn't choose the static that constantly bombards their brains, the neurochemical gremlin that continually derails their best intentions and manipulates their empathetic tendencies so they feel obligated to say yes to everyone and then feel incredibly worthless when they get overwhelmed and shutdown, accomplishing nothing.
The inescapable trap door that perpetually leads them down a daily avenue of impulsive decisions and even sometimes dangerous choices (like leaving a television plugged in while trying to repair it).
There was a tidbit more but that was more related to where I was putting the link since stupid Facebook throttles the shit out of anything you post that has a link or image that doesn't go viral within two seconds these days etc. Anyway, do check it out and share if you enjoy it. And if you recognize any of the symptoms I've mentioned here or in the article, definitely talk to your doctor but in the meantime also check out Jessica McCabe's wonderful YouTube channel How to ADHD! It is an absolutely wonderful resource for folks with ADHD and their loved ones trying to understand, navigate, and help each other with ADHD and the obstacles it can present in their lives. Anyway, that's all I've got right now. Take care, folks!
So... Here goes. I'm running a Kickstarter right now for a music project that's been in the works (mostly in my head) for the last few years. As of this moment the project is only 29% funded and has only seven days left to get fully funded or fail absolutely miserably.
The fundraiser is for an album called Diapause from my Dream Static project. Dream Static started out as an instrumental darkwave/synthwave cyberpunk thing but even when I didn't have time to work on it, vocal melodies and ideas kept creeping into my mind when listening to the scant few songs I had created and the project kept evolving in my head into more of a mix of what it already was and many elements of all the other music I love to write/perform: industrial metal, alternative rock, ambient rock/metal, EDM, House, Trance, post hardcore, death metal, triphop, shoegaze, progressive metal, anything intricate and off-time as well, and more.
a period of suspended development in an insect, other invertebrate, or mammal embryo, especially during unfavorable environmental conditions.
(of an insect or other animal) undergo a period of suspended development.
"the eggs diapause over winter, and development resumes after the spring thaw"
When that realization fully hit me, it was like shedding skin and finding new purpose. I had more musical focus than I've had in decades. Hell, I haven't even finished a full album since I self-released my debut Escape From Saturn album back in 2003!
The closest I've come to putting out another full length was my 2015 EFS EP Desolate Landscape. I talked about this project in the context of my recent diagnosis of ADHD and more on Facebook last month and, for the sake of my time, which is very sparse right now unfortunately, I will relay that here by copy/pasting it. That said, if you're at all interested in supporting the Kickstarter, you can read it there instead. Here's what I wrote:
So, I haven't said anything about this but it's been a month since my last measly $247 check from the state of Tennessee brought my unemployment balance to $0. I applied for the extension and never heard anything. I'm doing some freelance editing work now. But it's going to be rough keeping that consistent enough to keep up with our bills. Really rough.
So... I've been working on something else as well. Something that's probably just a pipe dream. But at this point... what do I have to lose? I've been a musician since I was 12 years old, when I got my first guitar. I've been a singer and a songwriter since about a year later than that. While I adore editing, publishing, and writing, those forms of expression and creation are mostly relatively cerebral for me compared to my passion for creating and performing music.
For years now I've set my music aside because every time I would work on it there was never enough time. In some ways because of obligations but ultimately, I knew deep within myself that there was a bigger reason. I knew that, for me, music was a hole so deep that if I let myself fall into it, I would never hit bottom. It's how I've always been. When left to my own devices and the resources to create music, I would probably lose excessive amounts of weight, never wash or take care of myself, or get anything else done in the midst of creating.
I've hurt relationships over music by burying myself so deep in it that I can't come out. People who love me have felt incredibly ignored and I've neglected my own well being and lost jobs because of it more than a couple times over the years.
So, around 2016, in order to be able to function as a reasonable human being, I effectively muted that part of myself. I think of it more like a kind of suffocation of that part of my being. In my mind I put that deep-seated need, that addiction, that unending hole in me in a dark room and closed the door and pretended it didn't exist. Then I busied myself with enough of everything else that I wouldn't have time to remember what was causing that open wound I was holding shut by pure willpower alone.
I went as far as to mostly not even listen to or enjoy music. When a song played that pulled at my emotions it would only stir that need and cut my wound somehow deeper.
And then, from time to time, it would resist. And open again, refusing to be held at bay. And I would pick up my guitar or dust off my keyboard, and play something. I would open my mouth and sing. And the flood would come back. Only for me to be buried in too many obligations to be able to spend even a reasonable amount of time working on music. As such I would become angry, miserable. And I made others around me miserable as well.
In the past six or so weeks, I learned so much about myself. And I know now that that need, that unending hole, while definitely a deeply emotional part of my being wasn't just a curse of my personality. It wasn't just me being selfish and uncaring or unloving of my family or my friends. It was a huge symptom of ADHD. Like a ginormous one. That symptom is called hyperfocus.
You see, Attention Deficit is a horrible fucking way to describe what's actually going on in somebody with ADHD. A better way to describe it would be Attention Regulation Dysfunction. Or something like that. The exact wording isn't the point. The point is, folks with ADHD don't have a complete inability to pay attention. They have an executive function disorder that impairs their ability to CONTROL WHAT THEY FOCUS THAT ATTENTION ON.
Because ADHD brains aren't wired to choose the smarter or more empathetic option of what to pay attention to. Not because we lack empathy! But because our brains have a deficiency of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that play a huge part in motivation and the perception of time. And as such, our brains prioritize activities and experiences that bring about immediate mental or physical reward.
Because of which our brains will tell us over and over again, when we're doing something we get that immediate reward from, just a few more minutes. What's that? It's time to go to work? Just a few more minutes and I can stop. Or just a few more minutes and I'll be done with this. Or this will only take me ten minutes and I don't have to leave until that very moment so I have just enough time.
This plays out in our relationships as well. Jen will ask me to do something and I will say sure. And I mean that sure. I really do. I mean to do that thing. And then hours later I'll have either started the task and only managed to get 10% of it done or, if I'm hyperfocused on something, anything, not just music, I will have completely forgotten what I was even supposed to do or that I WAS even supposed to do something.
This plays out with my work. It's caused me so many many problems with obligations I've made, Nightscape tasks I've started or set out to do, favors I've agreed to do for friends, house chores, you name it.
But give me that instant reward, that dopamine burst and I will latch onto whatever it is mindlessly and all else will fall away to the blurry outlines of my peripheral. And then get swallowed by the darkness of the deep pit at the bottom of my broken memory.
Because, yeah, that's another thing that's affected by all this. Memory. And now that I'm on medication that's helping to produce those neurotransmitters I need to be reasonably functional, all those legions of obligations and tasks I've lost track of are returning from that dark pit and the mountain of work that's been looming over me is finally visible to my newly open eyes and it. Is. STAGGERING.
But I digress (a lot. All the time. Like a narrative pretzel. That's another huge ADHD symptom). Music has always given me that instant reward. From the moment I first learned to fret and strum a chord, to the first time I played music with other people, to the first time I recorded a song, to the first time I sang on stage in front of hundreds of people. Every moment of it is instant reward. Instant dopamine. Even when it doesn't go well. Even when I'm just tinkering or testing out a new instrument.
So, around the same time that I realized I had ADHD, that hole opened up again. And this time, with the meds, I'm way more able to manage my behavior. To get other things done. I'm not perfect at it. But I also have four years where I was literally only working on music maybe 100 hours or less a year to make up for. So, I think, under the circumstances, staying up into the middle of the night working on a song after getting some work done last night was a step in the right direction compared to the past. But it's not something I can or will do all the time.
So, this brings me to now. And what I've been working on. I've created a number of solo recording projects over the years of various genres and styles. And while it's never gotten as much interest as my live bands did back in the day, some folks have enjoyed my Escape From Saturn alternative/progressive/industrial metal project.
Several years ago, though, I started a dark synth instrumental project called Dream Static. Dream Static was heavily influenced by my love of 80s dark synth soundtracks like Bladerunner etc. But I also mixed in a lot of other influences. But in the last couple of years, I've dreamed about doing a lot more with it. Making something new.
Something that takes the dark synth music I've been making and throws in all the elements I love to create in music. Something folks can enjoy both with and without vocals.
A melding of progressive metal, industrial metal, dark synth, EDM, post hardcore, melodic rock, alternative, and more. Everything I've ever done with music and then some. So, I've started working on a new full length album. And it's not just going to be a way to give myself that instant reward. It's going to be very much about the world as it is right now. About the fight we struggle with as humans now and the struggle of being an American right now in this moment and in the fight to come.
It's about stagnation. Not just now and in the recent past but in the entirety of the history of the United States. It's about waking up from the American Dream into the fully visible nightmare that is the American Experiment for anybody who isn't white, straight, and cis. It's about our imaginary borders past and present. It's about the lies we've been raised to believe about a great and glorious nation under God, with liberty and justice for the rich and the righteous and the privileged few.
The album will be called Diapause. And it's going to be my battle cry. Against fascism. Against the current administration. Against the status quo and the propaganda that I was raised on in school and in the media.
Diapause is my battle cry against the growing spread of fascism in America.
I suspect a lot of people will think I'm crazy to do this, but I'm going to do a Kickstarter for this project. A short one with what I feel is a modest goal. Just enough to cover what I need to make the album. Which isn't a ton.
I have most of the equipment I need. I can record and mix it myself. I just need to cover the cost of a mastering engineer and the production cost of a small CD run and a limited vinyl run. And if I'm lucky, maybe I'll raise a little extra to help, along with my freelance work, to pay some bills this next couple of months. It's a way way smaller goal than my Nightscape Kickstarters have been.
But, regardless of what people think. I need this. Now more than ever. All this discovery of late has been emotionally complex to say the least. The past four years have been emotionally complex as you all know for so many of us. Some way more than me. But I feel so much of what everyone feels. And I have so much of my own with my own family. The struggle for trans rights for Sera and so many of my lovely friends. The struggle for women RIGHT FUCKING NOW in the mid st of a supreme court packed against their best interests. Packed against all of our best interests.
I'm getting so much done that I was struggling so much with before. And I'm learning to delegate the Nightscape tasks I can't get to on my own. For the first time in my life, even with a staggering workload, I know I can finally juggle my music and everything else. So I am damn well going to give it my best to try. And who knows. Maybe I can make something that other people enjoy and can be proud of. Maybe Diapause can be their battle cry too.
So, if you're still with me... if anything I've ever created has moved you or has inspired you, please consider backing this project or spreading the word about it to anyone you think might even be remotely interested in it. I would very much appreciate that. Either way, thank you for taking the time to read this and dear fucking Christ I hope next year is better for all of us.
The list includes my dystopian vampire trilogy Empire of Blood, my novellas Dream Static and Exit Reality, Part 1 of my serial Hex: A Novel of Cosmic Horror, and my otherwise unavailable short story collection Where All Light is Left to Die. I've never been one to stick within one genre, but it's safe to say that if I've written it, it's probably at least a little on the darker side. These are provided in mobi, ePub, and PDF editions. Feel free to share this page with others. I hope you are all as comfortable as you can be and that you are taking every precaution you need to in order to stay safe and sane through this crisis.
First of all: Happy New Year, folks! I hope you've all had a great start to 2019. Life has been hectic for me of late. I'm running behind on a number of things but I'm starting to get caught up bit by bit so there's that. I'm now doing a series of limited chapbooks color-illustrated by Luke Spooner over on my Patreon. Luke did the interiors for the first chapbook in my Hex serial novel last year and I'll be continuing that serial. In between each part of Hex, though, I'll now be putting together a chapbook consisting of either a standalone novelette, a novella, or a short collection. Like with Hex, each will be signed by myself, numbered, and illustrated by Luke Spooner.
My weird novelette Through the Mindhole will kick off this year's subscription. The formatting is complete, though I'm still trying to decide between two different versions. Then I'll be immediately having copies printed off, so if you want one of these, you can join my Patreon at the $10 tier and I'll ship yours out. And Hex 2 will be coming up immediately afterword!
Here's the cover and some illustrations all by Luke Spooner:
Here's the tentative schedule I have in mind (if you sign up for my Patreon at the $10 tier or higher and don't have Hex Part I: The Eye of the Hexagon, let me know and I'll ship it along with the other two January chapbooks!):
January: Through the Mindhole (Novelette), Hex Part II: The Mouth of the Hexagon
February: Exit Reality
March: Hex III: The Flesh of the Hexagon (serial novel)
April: A Light That Could Only Shine On the Dead and Other Weird Tales (short collection)
May: Hex IV: The Blood of the Hexagon (serial novel)
June: The Quiet: Reimagined (new re-imagining of my 2011 short novella. There is a chance this will turn into a novel, if so, I will publish the first part and this schedule will change quite drastically)
July: Hex V: The Mind of the Hexagon (serial novel)
August: Flashes in the Dark (flash fiction collection)
September: Hex VI: The Light of the Hexagon (serial novel, final part)
October: The Orloge (Currently unfinished novelette/novella)
November: Dead Synapses: A Collection of Bleak Science Fiction (short collection)
December: The Knowing Inside John Part I: Beasley Hollow (serial novel)
There will be six parts in total, each with six chapters (chapters 1 and 2 of Part II: The Mouth of the Hexagon are already up on Patreon and Wattpad, actually), and each will have its own Kindle eBook and limited edition chapbook once all of its chapters have been unveiled online. The plan is for a new chapter to go up every week until the entire book is up. Then I might do a single volume limited edition hardcover. I haven't decided yet.
I've also been posting short fiction and novelettes on my Patreon and will be including more as time goes on. Almost everything is freely available but I plan to post some Patron-only material soon including a revamping of my series on fiction writing called The Subtle Balance.
In other news, Nightscape Press is in the process of relaunching. Our first new title is Tim Waggoner's new short fiction collection DARK AND DISTANT VOICES and it's absolutely lovely and exquisitely bizarre. It's currently available for Kindle and in a trade paperback edition on Amazon. Each story includes a gorgeous illustration also done by Luke Spooner. Here's the cover copy:
"This is every card in the horror deck, played by someone who knows the game better than most of us ever will."—Stephen Graham Jones, author of MONGRELS, AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF, and THREE MILES PAST "'Hell is other people,' Jean-Paul Sartre tells us. 'Especially the one we see in the mirror,' implicitly says Tim Waggoner. Both give us the theme of Waggoner's splendid Dark and Distant Voices. Our children we don't quite recognize, colleagues not all that collegial, ghosts who silently speak the Truth ... They're all here and more in Waggoner's brilliant story collection."—Mort Castle, author of THE STRANGERS and CURSED BE THE CHILD They come to you at night. The voices. Spinning tales of blasphemous wonder, terrible wisdom, and unspeakable truth. You try to shut them out, try to get away, but you can’t. For the voices you thought were coming from so far away… they’re inside you. And they won’t stop screaming. Ever. Nineteen stories of the bizarre and fantastic from the mind of Bram Stoker Award-winning author Tim Waggoner, “horror fiction’s leading surrealist” (Cemetery Dance Magazine).
Nightscape Press will have two novels out this year, THE COMING by Bryan Hall (an incredibly creepy novel of unorthodox demon possession!) and TALONS OF THE GREEN by Jonathan Templar (fans of Jonathan's THE ANGEL OF SHADWELL will be delighted to know this is the first Inspector Noridel steampunk horror novel!), before we transition into our new charity publishing model which... speaking of...
If you missed them on my Facebook page, another couple of big Nightscape Press announcements were made. This summer we'll be publishing a brand new Dunnstown-based novelette by one of my absolute favorite new writers, Jon Padgett, called THE BROKER OF NIGHTMARES in an illustrated, signed trade paperback edition and later on in a Kindle edition as well. This will be the debut release in our new charity limited edition line of books and will contribute a significant portion of its net sales to the ACLU.
If you haven't already, you owe it to yourself to read Jon's groundbreaking horror collection The Secret of Ventriloquism. I highly recommend the audiobook as Jon reads it himself and is also an incredibly talented voice actor and one of those rare writer/narrators that enriches his material greatly in the way that he breathes life (or in this case something far darker) into his own material. I would easily put him up there with Gaiman and Ellison in this regard, but with a bleak and creepy result.
The second piece of NSP news is that we'll be opening to new submissions for our charity novel line in September of this year. Some more details about both can be found on this post and more details are still to come.
That's it as far as news goes for now, folks! But remember... #meatbleeds
I hope we find his corpse floating in orbit. Tahlia imagines Jason tumbling among the rocks and ice within those vast majestic rings, those beautiful hazel eyes staring out at nothing behind a transparent face shield. Her fury chills to anguish and then freezes into a deep heavy guilt. She shields her eyes from a bright glint of sunlight reflecting off of Ring F.
The sight of the planet takes her breath away and she lets her eyes wander to the giant hexagonal-shaped storm that crown's the gas giant's north pole. A living dynamo of gas and wind and gravity. The subject of her life's work. She smiles. She's really here.
She subdues any sign of outward excitement. They're not officially here for science, much as that hurts deep inside her. They're here to find out why Zazel went silent. If the crew is alive or dead.
Her own crew of five sit silent as the tiny dot of Zazel grows steadily closer in the viewscreen. Adrenaline and anxiety swirl into one another and Tahlia has to fight to keep from holding her breath.
"Still no sign of radio activity," Brothers says into the empty silence.
Ahmed turns to Tahlia, a flash of pity in his otherwise emotionless face. A nervous swallow. "On course for docking. We should make contact in 56 minutes and 27 seconds."
Tahlia nods. "Brothers, any other signs of activity?"
David clatters away at the keyboard in front of him, face scrunching with focus and then he shakes his head. "Power's on and life support is running but nothing independent."
Minutes stretch into eternity and then the dot resolves itself into a sleek tiny shuttle floating just along Saturn's western ring plane. White base, wings covered in golden solar panels, cockpit glowing yellow with inner light. There's nothing visible in that glow. It's still too far away. Tahlia taps her fingernails against the console in front of her. A collage of moments floods her memory.
Jason lying naked in bed, watching her dress in front of the mirror, a sly smile arching up the side of his mouth, black hair tossled at the top of his head.
Holding hands under the stars on the hood of his newly restored bright cherry red '57 Chevy, cold metal sticking to the small of her back.
Getting lost for hours, hiking in the autumn-colored trees of Lieber State Park.
The blinding afterglow of her laptop screen after reading the recovered emails Jason deleted between him and Johanson.
Nearly breaking her hand beating on the door of his apartment, screaming for him to let her in.
The clean-typed formal letter from Brizen Aerospace Command informing her that she had been "dismissed" from the crew of Zazel, Jason's familiar signature scrawled at the bottom.
Watching Zazel launch from a nearby parking lot, fingernails digging into her palms and drawing blood.
She exhales, letting the poison in those memories leak out of her in one long release, fixes her stare back on Saturn. Something big begins to overtake the left side of the screen. Ahmed gasps as Zazel's payload doors crack open. "Uh. I didn't initiate the docking procedure yet." He looks back at Tahlia with a mixed expression of excitement and... fear?
Tahlia nods and Ahmed turns back to his terminal.
He shakes his head. "Nothing. I've had the hailing beacon on repeat ever since we first made visual." The doors continue to stretch open in one long flowery bloom. Zazel's docking arm slides gently into the gap between them.
Her petals fully extended, the docking arm rises to meet Perseus. For the first time in weeks, their vessel makes a very loud noise and shimmies unsteadily for a moment as the docking arm attaches itself to the ship's hull. "Docking complete. The ships' computers are talking to each other." Ahmed looks up from his terminal, a disquieted look on his face.
All eyes are on Tahlia now. "Anything about who set up the docking procedure? Why we're not hearing anybody on the radio?"
Ahmed shakes his head. "Nothing yet. The ship's log data is transferring now. I can search through them once they're fully downloaded."
Tahlia stares out at the open cargo hold of Zazel and lets out a long sigh. "I suppose we had better take a look. Ahmed, stay here and keep monitoring the data transfers. Brothers, Melton, Chambers, you'll suit up with me... Someone is in there. Has to be." ***
Read the rest of Chapter 1 for free on my Patreon page (new chapters will be posted there every week).