Discoveration

I made a life changing discovery today.

My writing sucks.

Compared to where it was a year ago.

That was the discovery.

I’m dedicating my efforts so I can say the same thing about my writing this time, next year.

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Random Bouts of Randomism

Every summer, just before the new school season starts up, a major retailer sells the old school 100-page marble notebooks for 50 cents each.

I’ve been known to grab a handful of them each time I shop.

Currently, I have a stockpile of about 40 marble notebooks. Probably more.

Last night, I gave my high school junior son 2 of them for his classes.

Now, I am compelled to buy 10 more to replenish my stockpile.

I’m not the one with the problem, you are.

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If my life goes in the direction I’m currently aiming, I will be back in school fairly soon. I haven’t quite narrowed down what I want to study (it seems I have as many desired directions as I do marble notebooks), so I still don’t even know which institution to enroll in. Either way, I am going to study something. Self-studying is cool, but getting back into the flow of academia (even if it’s an online school) will be a nice change of pace.

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It’s still only September, but I’m already seeing lots of NaNoWriMo traffic on line. One of the most prominent threads…whether or not the poster will participate this year.

I haven’t yet made my official decision, but I’m leaning towards not participating. I’ve said this before…I’ve got so many started stories that I really should finish; that’s what I’ve been dedicating my time to these last two months (not including starting “Back Nine” from scratch), and I want to keep that momentum going. Yeah, I know this is a boring approach, but I’d really like to see some of these unfinished stories of mine out there where the reading public can get to them.

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I’ve been watching college football since I was a kid…which, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, is directly related to having grown up in a college town.

Five seasons ago, my home town team, the Maryland Terrapins, moved from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten Conference, which meant I had to get my inside information / entertainment from a different blog.

For a few years, I have been visiting the web site of a major sports broadcast company for all things Big Ten. Other than the fact there was some mild but still noticeable bias and/or uncertainty from the writers towards accepting the newbie Terrapins’ into the conference, and the fact that several of the site’s regular visitors had no respect for the newbie Terrapins being in ‘their’ conference (I took a small amount of twisted solace in noticing they were far more brutal to fellow conference new arrival, Rutgers), and the fact that it seemed two out of every three posts were about the Michigan Wolverines, this blog nevertheless became part of my regular routine during the college football season.

However, a week before the start of this season, I discovered they haven’t posted an article since April (a Michigan article, of course). No biggie, I thought, I would check back once the season actually started. Exerting a great deal of patience, I waited three days after Maryland’s opening season 34-29 victory over Texas, then revisited the site.

The same April-dated Michigan article was still at the top of the page.

Either this blog was completely abandoned without warning or apparent reason, or I accidentally set my browser’s refresh setting to ‘never.’

I searched around, and found what, so far, looks to be my new official Big Ten football blog…

Off Tackle Empire

Yes, their writers have their individual biases towards their favorite teams (and the expected converse yet mostly playful dislike for their favorite team’s rivals), but, from what I’ve noticed, these writers are first and foremost fans of these teams and of the Big Ten in general. And, although I’ve since come to realize there will always be old school Big Ten patrons who will never accept the presence of these two East coast schools, the OTE writers and visitors are a quite a bit more creative in how they dispense the smack talk. Rutgers still takes a beating, though, I’ve noticed.

So, as it stands now, Off Tackle Empire is my Big Ten blog of choice. I’m Steve Husk, a life long Maryland Terrapins fan, and I approved this message.

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When Characters Talk Back

It’s a known issue I like to work on multiple stories at any given time. What should be inherently expected from that practice is some of those stories fall through the cracks for unfortunate amounts of time…which means some of my favorite characters end up in an unintentional state of suspended animation. Recently, several characters have said something to me about that:

Lindsay (Metzgerhund Empire): Lindsay and Billy (the story’s main character) have been each other’s personal tormentors and partners in crime since elementary school. Now that they are in their teens, they’ve both been experiencing the usual feelings and urges for others, but so far not for each other. Lindsay wants to know whether or not I’m going to let her finally hook up with Billy. Suffice it to say, she was not happy when I did not have a definitive answer for her, but I did offer her a different boyfriend…which she accepted because Billy didn’t show any signs of jealousy…nor any signs of interest, for that matter…which Lindsay wasn’t sure if that meant Billy was completely comfortable with their continued friendship or really didn’t like her that way in the first place…which Lindsay immediately blamed me for. Billy, on the other hand, said he was cool with whoever I hooked him up with. Lindsay blamed me for that, too.

Jack (Back Nine): I paused on the written part of this story to redesign part of the golf course Jack is currently playing. In the meantime, Jack and his friend have been stuck on the same hole for about a week. I’ve played behind some slow foursomes during my golfing days, but not quite like this, so I thanked Jack for his patience, and hinted I might reward him with a birdie on one of the final holes. Oh, wait…the final holes are the ones I redesigned to be tougher. Sucks for Jack.

Craig (Battle of Fort Cappello): I can understand Craig’s frustration with me not having worked on his story for nearly a month. While he wasn’t happy with some of the miserable circumstances I was setting him up for, he got a glimpse of the story’s ending, and decided the rewards I have waiting for him at the finish line will be well worth the impending pain and hardships and humiliation he would have to deal with while getting there. Mostly, though, he was excited when I proposed promoting him to the story’s main character. Who is the current main character, you ask? His wife. Hmmmm…I see ‘in-house complications’ being added to Craig’s list of miserable circumstances to deal with.

Yes, I do talk to my characters.

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Sportsistically Inclined

Simply put, I like watching sporting events. I’d prefer to play sports, but apparently my parents ran out of money when it came time to order me the appropriate athletic ability genes.

Check out what I’m into right now:

Teams already in progress:
DC United: By winning four of their last six matches (including one draw), they are no longer in the basement of their division, but they still have some serious work to do if they want to qualify for the playoffs. The team has a new stadium, and I’ve been thinking about going to see a match. I was stunned to realize I haven’t seen a live soccer match since the NASL days, when I went to see the Washington Diplomats play at RFK Stadium. That might have to change.

Borussia Dortmund: Their season started this past Sunday with a 4-1 victory at home against RB Leipzig. Good start, but stay tuned.

Baltimore Orioles: My head hurts watching this team. I was telling a few friends about the O’s run during the 2014 season to the American League Championship series, and they thought I was attempting to create a fiction story right on the spot. Yeah, they’ve fallen quite a bit since then, but they’re still my team. Still…I’m just glad Major League Baseball doesn’t participate in relegation.

Teams getting ready to start their season:
Washington Redskins: I start every new season with some level of optimism for this team, but this year seems different, and I’m not sure what it means. Is it because I haven’t been following the team that much during the off-season and pre-season, so I really don’t know how good or bad they are? That’s probably true. Or, do I know more about their off-season dealings than I let on, and I am unnerved by what I found out? I’ll get back to you on that one.

Maryland Terrapins: Last season, the injury bug’s influence on this team’s struggles almost made us Terrapin fans forget their defense sucked and probably weren’t going to win many games anyway. This year, the issues that have congested around this team are a bit more serious: the death of a player during summer camp, and an investigation into a toxic culture (allegedly) created by certain coaches. Will the Terrapins be able to stay focused on playing? They’d better find out soon, because they start the season with Texas, and the Longhorns are gonna remember how the Terrapins embarrassed them in their house last season.

Washington Capitals: Only 37 more days ’til the start of hockey season! Are we long time Capitals fans in for a second Stanley Cup championship celebration? I’m looking forward to finding out.

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Steve’s Sonic 12-Pack – Iron Maiden

Yeah, I know it’s been four months since I’ve posted a Sonic 12-Pack. It’s not that I lost interest in the series. Actually, I’ve been piecing together multiple lists. But, as it seems way too often, I became pre-occupied with other matters. At least I was listening to music during that time!

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My work on this series has given me the added bonus of rediscovering music I inadvertently left stranded in my past. Sonic12Pack A great example of what I’m referring to is this episode’s selection: Iron Maiden!

Yeah, that’s a weird statement, considering the influence Iron Maiden had on my musical world back in the 80s, and considering I’ve seen them live multiple times, and considering my first live performance on the bass was playing an Iron Maiden song.

Yet, this inadvertent stranding did happen. With each mile I drove through Life, new and unfamiliar sounds crossed paths with me, to the point where some of those early bands that pointed me in the directions that started my musical fanaticism in the first place were almost too far back in my rear view mirror to remember.

Of course, my work with Steve’s Sonic 12-Pack reminded me that the vehicle I’ve been driving all this time is a multi-dimensional conversion van with infinite speakers and song storage. In other words: there will always be room for all the music I like. I merely have to remember to remember it.

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Where Eagles Dare
One of my roomies and I were playing a video game one afternoon, and he asked if I wanted to hear the new Iron Maiden album while we played. I mumbled an “Uh-huh,” because, if I remember correctly, I was on the verge of getting my ass kicked in that game, and needed all the concentration I could muster. On the other hand, I rarely turn down an opportunity to hear new music, especially from a band I’ve already seen live and liked. He put on the Piece of Mind album. First track: “Where Eagles Dare.” My concentration level was instantly cut in half. I loved the power and the drive of this song, and I was especially won over by the sound of the bass. As I think back on this point in my life, Steve Harris’ playing, might have been what finally talked me into wanting to play bass for real. Of course, by the time the song reached the 3:14 mark, I pretty much wasn’t paying attention to the game anymore. One paycheck later, I bought myself a 4-string bass, and started working out the parts to certain songs…”Where Eagles Dare” being the first song I attempted. Now too long afterwards, in a complete random move, I ended up taking my bass downstairs in the laundry room, where one of my roommates had his drum set hooked up. The next thing I knew, one of our former roommates’ younger brother showed up and plugged in his guitar. The only song all three of us knew was—wait for it—“Where Eagles Dare,” so we played it halfway through without vocals. Maybe it was the adrenaline from my first-ever attempt at playing bass with others, but I thought our first attempt sounded fairly decent. Obviously not well enough that all three of us had a simultaneous ‘light bulb’ moment telling us we needed to form a band, but it encouraged me enough to where I felt I made a good choice in picking up this instrument in the first place.

Aces High
I’ve never flown an air combat plane before (although I did get to take a NASA facility naval fighter jet simulator a for a virtual spin!), but it feels as if they captured a bit of the sensation in this song.

Infinite Dreams
I don’t consider myself a dreams analysis expert by any stretch of the imagination, but some of my recurring dreams have tasked me to become fascinated with the subject. In particular…in so many of my dreams, I’ve seen surroundings and been involved in circumstances that I have never witnessed or experienced in my current conscious life, but my dream self welcomes them as if I’m already intimately linked with them on both a physical and an emotional level. My conclusion—which has been corroborated as highly possible by articles on the topic—is that my subconscious mind, free from the clutter of my conscious thoughts while I am asleep, can access and view alternate lives I’m currently living within other realities. Now, if you think that is trippy, check this out…once I heard “Infinite Dreams” for the very first time, I began considering that my subconscious was also—or, maybe, instead—connecting to a reincarnated existence of mine. Maybe more than one.

The Number of the Beast
In 1982, friends of mine wanted to see Judas Priest play in Baltimore (Screaming for Vengeance tour), so I happily screamed: “Take my money!” As it turned out, Iron Maiden was supporting Priest on this leg of their U.S. tour. The only information I had on Iron Maiden at that time, other than that they were from England, was what some of the media, and pretty much every church goer I knew, kept insisting: Iron Maiden are Satan worshippers! That kneejerk claim alone piqued my curiosity enough for me to want to see them play live. Of course, one reading of “The Number of the Beast” lyrics told me these people might have been overdosing on televangelist broadcasts. In short, Iron Maiden won me over that night. Plus, with Priest ruling the stage as they usually do, that was probably one of the best overall metal concerts I’ve ever been to.

Wrath Child (live version)
I’ve liked the song “Wrath Child” since the first time I heard it, but I like this live version better.

Losfer Words
This was the second song I learned to play on bass. I would have liked to play it with a band, but none of the guitarists I knew ever learned their parts to it.

Stranger in a Strange Land
The song is unrelated to Robert A. Heinlein’s novel by the same name…which saved me some confusion because I had not yet read that novel. What do you think it means that I remember the song more than I do the novel?

Sheriff of Huddersfield
This is a fun song the band wrote about their manager, Rod Smallwood.

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Here’s the portion of our program where I introduce back-to-back-to-back Iron Maiden novellas. To the best of my memory (and as far as I was concerned), Iron Maiden were the best story-tellers during their run in the 80s. This particular song (or so it has been speculated) is based on the book “Tales of Alvin Maker” by Orson Scott Card. Personally, I felt it had more of an Old Testament vibe to it. Regardless, the ending jam session is worth the price of admission all by itself.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Based on the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem of the same name. The poem, as a college professor once announced to the class, teaches us a very important life lesson, but I’m not exactly sure what lesson he was referring to…treat all of God’s creatures with respect?…the sea is a dangerous place?…make sure you sign up with the right cruise line before you hand over your hard earned cash? I’m not sure. Take your pick. All I know is…I had a blast learning and playing the bass parts to this song.


Empire of the Clouds
One look at the title, and I thought this was going to be a war story. Come to find out, Maiden was telling an actual true story of the largest flying vessel of its time. It’s not the type of music I’m used to hearing from Maiden, but I’m thinking that’s what attracted me to this song in the first place. Oh…and, while I was at it, I decided to read up on the main character of this story, the R101.

Hallowed Be Thy Name
Contemplating what emotions would spin through my mind if I knew I was going to be put to death before my time was a mental exercise I never engaged in…until I heard this song. I found myself drawn into this topic with roommates and other Maiden fans, so I consented (despite my best efforts) to pilot my rambling train of conscious thought down that track for a while. My conclusion essentially paralleled the main character’s approach: my being able to stand tall in the face of such a sentence would ultimately come down to what I believe is waiting for me once my physical body ceases living. One does not have to be pledged to religious documentation to believe there is something better waiting for us when we leave this physical plane; in fact, many people use hope that the afterlife is infinitely more pleasant to comfort themselves though what they’re dealing with now. Here’s how I play this topic: I have absolutely no way of knowing what is ‘waiting for me on the other side’ because I have absolutely no way of perceiving what the ‘other side’ really means or what it even is. However, I have determined (for myself, anyway) that spending too much emotional wattage stressing about approaching the end of our life siphons energy and awareness from this world, to a place we honestly know nothing about nor know it even exists. OK…now that I got all that out of my system, let’s get back to the music. By the way…this song’s ending jam session rocks!

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I’d like to give a special shout out to The Wicker Man, if for no other reason than because the outro of this song accompanied the siren and the horn every time the Washington Capitals score a goal. The entertainment decision makers at the arena replaced “The Wicker Man” last season with some other song which I don’t seem to remember…probably out of protest.

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Thanx for checking out Iron Maiden Sonic 12-Pack. Praises? Discussions? Disagreements? Suggestions? You know what to do.

[CHECK OUT EVERY SONIC 12-PACK POST HERE!]
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Charactericticism

Not wanting all my characters to ‘sound’ like each other is always a challenge worth accepting. And, because I also do not want the entire cast of my stories coming across as behavioral clones of me, I make the effort to steer my eyes away from all the things I’ve seen a million times and angle my ears away from sounds and words I hear every day, then immerse myself with the world that’s around me. To see what my co-inhabitants on this planet are doing. To hear what they are saying. To experience their celebrations and their remorse. To feel their adrenaline and their apprehension. To witness them tightly guard their emotions, or to see them let those emotions run loose without a leash. To discover and (maybe) understand not just how they tick, but why they tick the way they do.

Yes, I am opening up myself to a lot of horrible actions and attitudes. I’m not surprised when my first conclusion when I do this is that people suck. No wonder I like dogs.

But, of course, I’m not writing animal stories.

So, back to observing my fellow Humans I go. Horrible actions and attitudes included.

When the shock and disgust finally subside, I come to realize why certain stories are such incredible experiences, and, ultimately, perfect entertainment escapes: the people performing within those stories are as varied as what I see before my redirected eyes, opening themselves up to scenarios I’ve never experienced in my life, including some of the same horrible actions and attitudes I just saw before my redirected eyes.

This world would be a nicer place to live if certain people were never be allowed to cross paths. The combinations—the mixtures—are dangerous. And sometimes deadly. We see proof of that on our news feeds and even during our daily lives all the time. Yet, within the confines of a fictional story, we want as many incompatible and combustible combinations as we can get our hands on.

This is why I do what I do.

After depicting some of these combinations on the pages of my stories, I find myself wanting to take a step back so I can rebalance myself. Understandable. And probably the reason I’ve never gotten irreparably disturbed by what I write. In fact, I’m proud to say I’ve never committed any of the horrid acts my characters perpetrate. All I ask is that you don’t judge or assume if you ever come across my browser history.

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LINK – Discrimination in the Writing World

This was one of the last topics I ever wanted to see. We’ve got more than enough discrimination in the ‘real’ world as it is. I’m bummed to see it has also invaded a realm I go to for a break from such nonsense.

Thing is…I already knew discrimination resided in the writing world.

And, yet…I still go there.

Discrimination in the Writing World

David Farland (who has infinitely more experience in the literary world than I do) spells out a few examples of how certain types of fiction are seen and treated, not only within the business, but by the book-reading consumers. Two of his examples spoke directly to me: I’m creating a young adult novel and a mainstream novel (that could very well be considered within the romance genre), both with a male protagonist. Because of that, both stories, in theory, are doomed before I even submit them for publication.

I’m moving forward with them anyway. I’ve wanted to work with my young adult cast for a long time, and the mainstream story contains the challenge of writing a genre and a style I’ve never attempted before that I very much wanted to accept.

How well will they sell? I’m curious to find out.

Will they face discrimination? Probably. But, certain levels of discrimination are to be expected (not very many women I know would read a borderline-romance novel written by a guy), and therefore writers can slant the odds a bit more towards their favor (I’ll ask myself how much ‘romance’ I, as a male, would be OK with reading, then compose the story accordingly).

Other than that, Mr. Farland has some other great tips on how to increase your odds for success. “Write better than your competition” is the no-brainer of all no-brainers.

While I have your attention…THIS IS A NOTE FOR ALL ASPIRING WRITERS: give yourself the great gift of signing up for David Farland’s Writing Tips. This, by the way, falls under the “Write better than your competition” category.

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