The Morning Muse 6 | Don’t Stop Believin’

So, as reported in Workbook 3 the other day, I’ve not been a busy boy, at least not creatively.  Other than the reworking of a couple of guitar riffs for my band, there hasn’t really been any progress made on any of the current projects.  Listen, even before I went on vacation for a 4-day weekend, I was already having doubts about the prospects of novel writing given current conditions and lifestyle.

However, my writer buddy Nadine Darling (whose hilarious debut novel SHE CAME FROM BEYOND comes out on October 13th), said to me “You need to write this novel!” imploring that I not give up and use whatever tactics and maneuvers I can within my lifestyle to finally accomplish my goal of at least writing and publishing one novel –for fuck’s sake if nothing else.

But I’ll be honest, just last night I had such a serious bout of doubt about my prospects as a novelist — for various reasons — that I honestly considered simply throwing in the towel. The negative emotions even manifested themselves into what became Journal Juice 12.

Yet a half hour or so later that episode passed and I at the very least started to make a pass at revising my old short story “All Things Considered” that is part of Operation: Remember Me?  It’s one of those stories of mine that resonates with me so much because it’s about themes and sentiments that are so near and dear to me.  I’ve finally decided to updat it for modern times because it was written in 1997 and through the lens of that late 90s era, so I want to modernize it. Given what’s going on in American society right now, I’ve gotta say the story’s premise and themes are very timely. With any luck I’ll have it updated and spit-shined by the start of next week and uploaded to Smashwords for digital archiving and reading.

Trying my best to keep on keepin’ on.


Journal Juice 12 | A Little Less Alone

Bran Pensive2It’s amazing the futility creating art in obscurity can be. You’re a virtual unknown with an unproven track record as a creative entity. Sure, you’ve had a dozen or so of your stories published, half that number in poetry published, and at least 50 journalistic articles published, yet still your readership seems ethereal. It may be hyperbolic to say that absolutely no one knows the work you’ve created – the stories you’ve written and had published, the articles you’ve penned and published as well, the music you’ve crafted on your own and shared with an unsuspecting world, only to receive the response of crickets in an empty amphitheater – but that’s exactly what it oftentimes feels like.

The whole reason creatives absolutely have to share their creations, even within what’s essentially a vacuum, is not so much about the hope and quest for validation, although that is certainly a strong motivator, but the primary reason is to simply to connect with others, provided an audience is found. Art is about bringing together disparate souls that would otherwise not ever come in contact with one another. It is in that instance that we all become a little less alone.

Daybook 1 | New Locale. New Music. New Shirt.

20150727_143838[1]No XL, No Problem

So this weekend I grabbed three new t-shirts. This particular one is my favorite of the trio. However, given this half of a basketball I call an abdomen, I needed to get it in size XL just so there’s room for comfort, especially given the likely shrinkage tendency upon washing that would make it too snug for comfort. Well, the store didn’t have this particular design in XL, only had it in L. Well, I couldn’t pass it up.  I mean, look at it. Finally I have a shirt to sport on St. Patrick’s Day. Just have to remember to wash cold and hope for the best. #ChubbyDudeProblems 

On Vacay

So we took a mini-vacation as a family up in Wisconsin Dells, WI.  Really nice resort area, full of plenty of things to do and have a great time doing it, which is exactly what we discovered last summer down in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN.  Like those two places, I don’t have any complaints about the Dells area or its people.  I’ve gotta say that Wisconsin, being a fellow Midwest state, wasn’t all that different from Indiana, at least in terms of positive aspects. It’s not uncommon knowledge that the Midwest does have quite a bit of diversity, so after a day or so there I started wondering about how the actual demographics of the place shake out because even with the year-round residents it was quite the melting pot of people from all over globe.  Heard many a different languages spoken by the locals and visitors. Suits me perfectly fine as I always think it’s great to see and be around folks from all walks of life coming together peacefully for good times. Will definitely visit again.

Notables events I should list:

  • Stayed two nights at the reasonably priced Ambers Resort & Conference Center.
  • Chula Vista Indoor Waterpark: hot tub, big scary tube slide, lazy river swimming and crazy ramp slide.
  • Kalahari Indoor Amusement Park: electric Go-carts, the Ferris wheel, laser tag, a 3-D virtual shooter, a game of pool.
  • Mt. Olympus Outdoor Theme Park: Zeus roller coaster and Poseidon gas go-carts.
  • On the strip: Krazy Mirror Maze, exploratory walking and people watching.
  • Dined at Pizza Villa and Mexicali Rose — the former great, the latter less so.
  • Taught my youngest daughter the fine art and science of billiards.
  • Unfortunately missed out on the Ghost Boat and Haunted Cavern experience.
  • Shopped for T-shirts and popcorn for us, and fudge for loved ones back home watching our dog for us.

20150727_182409[1]Sturm Und Drang

While on my way to Wisconsin I stopped by a Best Buy store in Janesville, WI to finally procure the new CD VII: Sturm Und Drang by Richmond, VA’s own new wave of American metal band LAMB OF GOD. An immediately huge influence on my own metal guitar playing, I’ve been madly following this band (like I do MASTODON) since 2006 and so far my reaction to this new Lamb of God album (with bonus tracks of course) is that it is balls-to-the-wall awesome. I think it will impress even the jaded and fatigued metal fan. Seven albums in and I’m still proud of these boys and rocking out to their music with air guitar and air drumming glee.

Also have these LoG-related reads to partake in whenever I get a moment’s silence.

20150727_182302[1] 20150727_182330[1]

With my workload I really have no business reading a new book, let alone a magazine for leisurely entertainment, but this is what fanboys do when they’d rather read about others artists doing art than them doing art themselves. I am shameless. Don’t judge me.

Quick Programming Note

What used to be called Daybook is now re-titled as Workbook, which is more fitting for that particular kind of post which chronicles the story-making and music-making life in which I feebly manage to partake. There’s also a new Music section where I will be archiving web widgets of my various music projects. We can just call it the Ruckerpedia Virtual Jukebox, if you will. Currently up is my catch-all ambient and (mostly) instrumental production project SAINT RUCKUS.

I think this week I will also finally be posting an author Q&A that I recently did on another site. I also feel new stuff brewing for Journal Juice, The Morning Muse and The Evening Muse. Yeah, I should probably just write nonfiction from here on out, huh?

Until next time, my love bugs…


Workbook 3 | July 19-25, 2015 – Late Vacation Edition

13611-snifty-spiral-notebook-clip-artAll current creative projects

The week that was . . .

  • Created redundant file backups in the cloud for a more flexible and seamless workflow (or so that’s the idea).
  • Reworked a couple of guitar riffs for a n/t/a song written back in March. Tried to fit new lyrics to it but the cadence isn’t quite right.
  • Made zero progress on novel work.
  • Had a serious bout of doubt about the prospects of novel writing given current conditions and lifestyle (but received counselling to the contrary from a writer friend to be named later in a separate post).
  • Contemplated ditching long fiction in favor of writing long nonfiction.
  • Went on a family vacation for an extended weekend on which naturally I did not write nor read.

The week to come . . .

  • Who the hell knows? Kids are still out of school for another week.  Much prep work to do.
  • Have neglect/the/alarm band practice scheduled for this Wednesday and maybe next Sunday as well, during which I will completely lose myself to my unbridled love of music.

My Music | Saint Ruckus

Saint Ruckus is the umbrella project name for a few different solo music projects that I consolidated together.  It’s all one-man-band, producer, self-engineered stuff by me at home in my la-bor-a-tory.  This is an anthology of some of the stuff I’ve done over the years, going back to 2007 up until around 2009 or so.  Mostly instrumental, ambient, electronic and rather short pieces as I consider them “micro-songs”.  A few are demo quality, but I don’t mind showing my warts.

Instrumentation: a drum machine and various beat processors, keyboard, guitar, bass and voice.

The first track “DR1” is the only one that is predominantly electronic programming. The rest are more composed by yours truly set to programmed beats with all instruments performed by me as well.

My favorites?

  • “Shadows in the Sky”
  • “One Night Affair”
  • “Table for Two”

Ones with vocals?

  • “Bittersweet Finale” has incomplete vocals, just one verse and one chorus.
  • “The Mission” has me doing a mock rap since no one else was available.

Check’em out.  There is plenty more music in the Vault that I’ll share here later.

Warts and all.

Because I love you.

P.S. For an optimum listening experience, I highly recommend actual external speakers or high-end headphones rather than mere on-board speakers or earbuds.

The Morning Muse 5 | Warts and All

I generally hate my writing work immediately after it goes into beta reads, whether that be a writer friend, an editor, or call me neurotic, but especially when it is officially published for the general reading public.

I’ve been sharing my writing work publicly for nearly twenty years and I still get nervous about feedback and reviews.  Even when I know I’ve done a pretty darn good job, there is sometimes that unsure inner voice.  I’m guessing that it never fully goes away unless you’re a bestselling author with thousands or millions of adoring fans – and even then.  I’ve heard a number of those kinds of authors say they’re still inflicted with this particular disease, this writer’s psychosis or neurosis or whatever it is.  But, really, I mean, how could one not feel complete validation if that many approving minds were in agreement of the quality of their work?  I suppose it could come down to for whom does one create the work? We all say we do it for ourselves, but were that merely the case, why publish it for the general public?  Since I believe most writing to be a performance art, I write to entertain which means I presume there’s going to be an audience for it.  Naturally this also extends to my musical work as well.

At any rate, I’ll continue sharing my work here and wherever – warts and all – and take comfort in the fact that my best is yet to come, particularly in my novel work, which was my impetus for becoming a writer in the first, well, second place.

The Morning Muse 4 | A Brief Glance Backward

I remember my time in virtual writing workshops and communities years back, most notably in the Zoetrope Virtual Studio.  When I first joined Zoetrope in November 1998, I was quite the novice with maybe a dozen or two finished short stories and a bunch of false-start novels (that to this day are unfinished).  At the time Zoe (as we affectionately called it) was a distinctly literary place filled with MFA writers and Literati wannabes.  In a strange way, though, that’s exactly the crowd I needed to, at first oppose and then join, because the seriousness and attention to craft that crowd makes you adopt can be good for the wayward neophyte scribe, which I kind of was.  Tough skin (hell, Teflon) was required in many cases in that kind of arena.  I was a fairly good student of the craft and I’d like to think I benefitted from my association with that particular group.  Hell, within a year or so I even became a fiction editor (and later a mentor).

Yet, by 2002 I had burned out on writing fiction and decided to get back to playing music in bands, purposefully not writing any fiction for a couple years to decompress the pressure I’d put on myself to be a writer of some significance (this was, I suppose, a pre-age-30 crisis and all).

By 2004 when I did dabble again in writing and workshoping, it was mostly picking up where I’d left off with micro and flash fiction, and experimenting with screenplays.  Another break for performing music and starting a new family ensued between 2005- 2008.

When I came back to Zoe in the Fall of 2008 to start a novel chapters review group (a concept  many haughty writers scoffed at), I mostly fell in with a completely different crowd than what I’d left behind years before.  These scribes were genre writers, thankfully.  The SpecFic crowd was less judgmental which was exactly what I needed at that point because I was more accomplished, skilled, and confident in those days, and was less enamored with laboring on written word and more obsessed about storytelling and characterization.  Plot + Character equaled Story for me at that time.  Also, a hearty number of these cats were doing D-i-Y Small Press publishing with a “we’re all in this together” kind of spirit and mindset.  That certainly charmed this fella and lit a fire under me arse to actually pursue publishing more diligently.

Looking back, it seemed like with the literary crowd, at least in those days of the late 90s and early 2000s, it was more suspicious, like you were an interloper (or more pointedly, a stumbling, bumbling neophyte who’s likely a fraud).  In contrast, with the genre writing bunch a decade later, particularly the speculative fiction writers (horror, science fiction and fantasy) it was like a welcoming Outsiders Club.

Today, I belong to no writing groups or workshops or community of that kind, virtual or otherwise.  There’s a communal part of me that’s bummed about that, but the loner wolf side of me is adamant that it’s not a necessary thing and likely just another distraction to my overall goal.  Can’t really argue with that.  Besides, there’s no way to recapture the novelty of what once was in the pioneering days of online social networking.  Like the loss of virginity, that particular innocence is gone forever.  And thus, this wolf will likely never belong to a pack again.