Blog, Ruckin' With You

Videogames – What I’m Playing

I scaled back my TV show consumption for the 2016-17 season, and when the shows I do still watch went into their Fall-into-Winter mid-season breaks, I was able to ramp up some gaming time on the X-Box One console. To help savor and prolong the experience as well as stave off over-playing and allowing an inordinate time-suck, I’d put together a nightly schedule of them that pretty much mimicked a nightly TV schedule rollout. My game playtime is typically during primetime hours, of course, after the kiddos head to bed and before I return to my office for one last hurrah of creativity before calling it a day. 

The weekly roster consisted of the following:

 

But after two or three weeks, the schedule faltered, of course. And now the games contend with the returning TV shows. But I plan on devoting more weekend time to them since it’s Winter and I’m still in hibernation when it comes to out-of-the-house activities cuz, yeah, fuck the cold. 

All games played are great, I can’t real pick a favorite of the bunch. Some standout for how unique they are in terms of storytelling (I almost always prefer story-based games). Murdered: Soul Suspect, which I also got for free from Games with Gold, is a really neat and immersive game with its paranormal detective concept (a murdered detective has to solve his own murder case before he can move on). Mafia III is also quite immersive with the assumed role as a Vietnam War vet coming back home to take on the Italian mafia. as an almost Grand Theft Auto type action-adventure except it’s far more story-based and cinematic–I treat it like an HBO show.

And looming on the horizon are the new Mass Effect: Andromeda game in March, and I believe the new Prey game drops in April. There’s another sci-fi game coming out that I can’t remember the name of as well. I also recently downloaded Outlast thanks to Xbox Live’s Games with Gold offer.

So many games, so little me.

What videogames are you playing these days?

– B.

 

 

boxer
Blog, Ruckin' With You

Ruckin’ With You | 12.20.16 | Work In Progress

Transmitting the last Ruckin’ of the old year.

When you really think about it, aren’t we all just a work in progress? We’re never a finished project, that is unless we’re dead. We’re never truly done with our work, because the next work awaits. Even if we’re fortunate enough to gracefully–willfully–retire, what awaits us is the work of getting on and keeping on at actually living, or if the case may be, barely surviving. It’s all work, and if we’re breathing air, it’s work in progress.


Head Trip

As you might imagine by that intro, I’ve been wandering around inside my head the past week and a half, given my unexpected newfound free time at home. Considering the way my head works it could be argued it’s too much time–time that could lead to mental rampancy because I could literally overthink myself into oblivion (they say that’s kind of a Libra thang).

I think the subconscious question echoing in the back of my headspace has been WHY AM I HERE AND WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING? Aside from being a family man, my default answer always seems to be that I should be creating and producing art, either music or stories. My curse is I am highly creative and so if you add the aforementioned overthinking aspect to that equation, well it helps get the meticulous, large-scope planning done, but unfortunately the acute focus and execution tends to be more elusive. That’s something that simply cannot continue and steps are being made to reverse this trend.


Team Player

I am also a very collaborative person, particularly musically. Making music alone hasn’t been highly fulfilling to me since I was that teenage kid in his room writing all those guitar riffs that would eventually lead songs for my first band. Once I began to experience that band life and the mode of collaboration that comes with a band, it became the only way I prefer to make music. Have I written and produced (and performed and recorded) plenty of music on my own in a solo musician capacity? Sure. Yet despite the inherent pride that comes with that, it can never top making music with others.

Comics/graphic fiction is another art form I desperately want to produce work in. It is also highly collaborative because at the very least, for myself as a writer/creator it relies on a very close working relationship with an illustrator, if not also an inker, colorists and letterer (if neither of us are providing one of those aspects also). A few weeks ago I lamented the lack of successful connections with prospective collaborators where that’s concerned.

Here’s the rub: independence and self-sufficiency are core values to me, and so that makes the desperate need to work in these collaborative arts so frustrating and ultimately fruitless of late. If I would never had to rely on other people for contributions, I surely would not. Never mind the fact that from 2008 to 2011 I composed and produced some 60+ pieces of music by myself with the exception of a few pieces that were collaborative (much of this music is available online via one streaming platform or another; see the JUKEBOX).

Now, if only I had never stopped drawing twenty years ago. I would already be illustrating my own stories.


Perseverance is a Virtue

But hey, I’m not giving up. I’m going to used my newfound-hopefully-finite free time to prepare and pitch some projects to prospective artists in the hopes that 2017 is finally that year to make something happen on that front.


Project Announcement

Earlier this month I tapped my artist friend Jack S. Rogers for a project that’s been brewing for a few years, inspired by an image he created some six years ago or so. The codename I’m using for this project (meaning it’s not it’s official name) is Project AmWitness.


Project Update

Project Blood-Borne, that long-gestating novel series that I’ve written some 10k words for has had a plotting breakthru that just arrive in my noggin this week that currently sorting through. It addresses a couple of issues I was having with the narrative scope vs. the complex timeline of events. It’s also been split into two separate-yet-intimately/intrinsic-ly-connected trilogies, one of which is decidedly Young Adult New Adult.


Off the Grid

Barring a possible last-minute decision to do some kind of “Year-End List” kind of post, this may be the last proper post of the old year. At the Winter Solstice I’d like to “go dark” for the rest of the old year and come back better than ever in the new year.  Maybe shutdown all social media for a couple of week’s worth of radio silence. Yeah, that would be a first.

Next year I want to diversify this blog again with a variety of subjects like it used to be in the early days of this decade. The last two years have been focused on writer-ly aspects, but with the focus on just me as a writer, I think to its detriment.

I have a big day tomorrow but I’ll come back tomorrow with proper year-end send-off.

Until then, be good.

black-wolf-on-road-wallpapers-hd
Blog, Ruckin' With You

Ruckin’ With You | 11.29.16 | The Lone Wolf

It’s a good thing I’m a fairly independent person who is no stranger to the role of lone wolf and self-reliance because I’ve once again been made starkly aware that it’s the only way for me to roll creatively, at least until certain things significantly change. As a musician, inherently I am a very collaborative soul who nowadays finds writing songs alone quite boring and not-quite-so-fulfilling. This past year has proven that I can’t rely on my now always dormant band for a consistent musical outlet. And now recently I’ve been shown that I can’t rely on illustrators to co-create comics. So I may as well couch that particular goal once again and simply get on with writing prose, right? Because . . .


Art Fart

. . . My recent dalliance with a trio of different artists has proven ultimately fruitless for different reasons unique to each of them. And for two of them there’s one big reason. I’m looking for more of a co-creator partnerships, sharing equal rights to the IP, with the eventual (back-end) earnings tilted in the artist’s direction because he or she would be doing all the heavy lifting in terms of the division of labor. Only one artist, my best friend, was agreeable to that setup, but the proverbial outside distractions on his side of things has derailed that particular project, indefinitely. One of the other artists, a Canadian, is clearly after a work-for-hire situation to earn up-front money which translates into a paid commission by me. Well, if I’m going to pay that page rate for the work, then I would (like an editor/publisher) intend on owning that work (the original pages) for which I’m paying professional rates. And artist number three resides in Italy, is also a musician like I am (though far more active) and of course being uber talented (like, seasoned professional-level talent) his services are in high demand and thus I lack competitive advantage in that rat race.

Oh, and earlier in the year there was an artist/creator who was only looking for a writer to script the stories that he has pre-conceived. So, yeah, it’s been a mixed bag of upsets and misconnections.


So the Dream is Dead, Right?

No. Not dead. Dormant, again, yes. But never dead. I have what I like to call a comic book fetish. I’m generally a bookworm overall, but comics have a slight edge due to the immediate and serialized nature of them (and say nothing of their unlimited content and narrative potential). As a kid who watched a lot of TV and read a lot of comics, I became an adult obsessed with serialized fiction and graphic/visual storytelling. So to finally be writing comics professionally in the very near future still remains in my overall goals as a writer. But truth be told, I shouldn’t have stopped drawing twenty years ago. Had I kept drawing (and maybe even gone to school for illustration and design) I would have been self-reliant enough and likely a 10, 15-year industry vet by now.


Try, Try Again?

I might just be a glutton for punishment, but despite my early flame-out with NaNoWriMo at the start of this month, I’m going to force myself back onto the novel grind. I mean, what else is a lone wolf supposed to do? No, nothing’s change in the home life and lifestyle that would be more conducive to novel writing, but I just have to tough that out and get pages written by any means necessary. To serve the inherent splintered focus that unfortunately comes with long form work, I fortunately have a few different projects to toggle between when I hit the inevitable wall on one.


The Lineup

So what’s on the roster of priority projects of long form stories for this stumbling, bumbling scribe? It looks a lil’ sumthin’ like this:

Title or [Codename]   — Format  —  Progress — Initiated

All Things Considered     — novella   —  5000 +      — 1997

Misery Loves Company   — novel      —  8000 +      — 2001

[Project Blood-Borne] — novel      —  10000 +    — 2009

The Dame’s Got Game    — novel      —  1400 +       — 2016

[Project One Shot]       — novel       —  2 pages     — 2016

[Project Anti-Media]    — serial       —  notes        — 2016

I guess I should probably update the Projects page to reflect this current roster.


Linkage / ICYMI

Jubilee | Lyrics

Lifebook 11 | Local Heroes . . . 5 Years Later

Grind – Christian Mihai

Boundaries Pushed – Mel A. Rowe

Her insanity is what I love – John Coyote


Annnnd that’s all the ruckin’ I’ve got for you fine folks this week.

Oh, I saw DOCTOR STRANGE on Friday night. It was good. Probably give it a strong B. Not one of Marvel’s best, but maybe somewhere in the middle? I’ll have to see it again to make a final-ish judgment.

Y’all be good.

If you’re not, I’ll know about it.

I have minions and sleeper agents everywhere.

-BLR

ruckin-with-you-metallica-font
Blog, Ruckin' With You

Ruckin’ With You | 11.18.16 | Ugh!

Late Edition. As I finally file this away for transmission to you on this fine Friday (71 degrees in mid-November), I am a miserable bastard who stayed home from work today due to having received the plague from my teenage daughter. I know how it happened too. It was last Saturday when I was enclosed inside a car with the infected child (Patient Zero — I call her “Outbreak Monkey”) when we all went to lunch that afternoon. That was the day–if not before or immediately after–that the insidious virus leaped from her body to my unsuspecting one. By Tuesday for sure it was gestating, and by Wednesday I was waking up in the morning with a sore throat. By Thursday it was full bore. So here I sit on a Friday cooped up on such a unseasonably nice day. I’m normally quite the iron man, capable of warding off most contagions. But not when you entrap me in a small space like a car with diseased individuals (especially a school-age child). Kids, man. They got no respect.


Transmet

So in light (or dark) of recent sociopolitical events, I’ve decided to start re-reading Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s TRANSMETROPOLITAN graphic novel series that was originally serialized in comics form from 1997 to 2002. It features a Hunter S. Thompson-inspired gonzo journalist named Spider Jerusalem of the distant future who, after five years living alone “up a goddamn mountain” is thrust out of early retirement by the fact that he still owes his book publisher two more books. He must reintegrate himself with The City as a journalist who is after the undisputed societal truth to report to the masses, aided quite advantageously by his old newspaper editor who rehires Spider and furnishes him with all the accommodations a future gonzo journalist of his stature requires. Immediately he discovers that all is not right in The City and that those problems are being propelled by politicians, and he begins to uncover a deep conspiracy that leads directly to the  narcissitic head of The City’s government. Seems like a timely read, no?


Raiding Tombs

For the past week or so I have been playing RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER (on Xbox One), the first sequel in the re-rebooted Tomb Raider videogame franchise. It’s been great fun so far with harrowing, but survivable action-adventures, fine character work and a mysterious plot. The graphics are phenomenal, the gameplay is fluid and well-engineered, and the environments and the game’s scope is vast. I’ve only scratched about 18% of it so far and I’m having a blast. Special thanks to the wife who got it for me last Christmas.


I Still Bleed Metal

As evident by the font in this week’s featured image, I am a huge METALLICA fan (since 1987) and today is Blackened Friday–the day their first proper new album of new music in eight years, Hardwired . . . To Self-Destruct, is released. I procured my package (the 3-CD deluxe edition) earlier today and just burned it into iTunes for upload onto my iPod (my newfangled car thinks CD players are already obsolete). I’ve heard all 13 songs via their massive video releases on Wednesday and Thursday–a unique original video for each song–to promote the imminent release. Also released today was The Duke, a 5-track EP by LAMB OF GOD, one of my other favorite metal bands (since 2006). 

Also recently bought the 2016 releases by old thrash metal stalwarts in TESTAMENT’s Brotherhood of the Snake and DEATH ANGEL’s The Evil Divide. Both albums are very solid modern metal offerings with an almost throwback aesthetic to the heyday of thrash in the late 1980s when the entire genre was releasing its most seminal music. This is the kind of music that forced me into finally picking up the guitar in 1988. 


Movies I Need to See

I still haven’t seen DOCTOR STRANGE. Nor ARRIVAL. I must rectify this ASA logistically P.


Recently on RUCKERPEDIA

ICYMI

New additions to my Library of Works site include:

A collection of “on the road” pieces – “I’m Not From Around Here” (poem), “The Road is My Map” (WIP), “Going the Distance” (micro), “Road Dog” (double-drabble).

And one of my most romantic pieces ever written“Living and Dying Under a Harvest Moon” (short story).

Check’em out and more as a patron of the RUCKERPEDIA library.


I’m going to go ahead and end this one here. I’ll probably file another of these on Sunday or Monday where I will get into what’s next for me creatively and such. I haven’t filed a proper workbook update in a while here, so maybe it will double as such.

Enjoy your weekend. And try to do something nice for yourself and others. Kindness should be sprinkled when and wherever possible.

-BLR

cropped-common-raven-portrait-c2a9-christopher-martin-2.jpg
Blog, Ruckin' With You

Ruckin’ With You | 10.31.16 | I’m Off . . .

. . . to NaNoWriMo later at 12:01 AM. Hello. Figured I’d better fire off what might be the last Ruckin’ missive for a few weeks. As I finally embark on the NaNo endeavor I’m going to make the best attempt at radio silence that I can because I’m like our family dog who is easily distracted by squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, frogs and all other manner of lively distractions. Will be doing what I call a writing monk’s existence. No TV (with perhaps one exception — TWD). No social media (except before bed and upon waking), no reading comics; MAYBE only read prose, no guitars, no videogamses, no nothing really. Sounds like punishment, but I’m not so good with the kind of self-discipline required for someone trying to get a significant portion of a novel written in any given span of time. Thus, drastic measures are in order. #Write-Or-Flight


Blocked Shot

Received a submission rejection sometime last week. It’s the first rejection I’ve received in a long time. Also the first submission I’d made in a year and a half. It was a drabble-length piece (100 words). Thought it was pretty much a layup, but, alas. The microfiction market is just as tough as all the others — despite and perhaps because of the low word count it can be deceptively even more difficult. I’ll revisit this particular market (and others) next Spring. Make it a slam dunk next time.


Read of the Week

Finally got (somewhat) caught up on Jaime Hernandez’s portion of LOVE AND ROCKETS by reading his graphic novel The Love Bunglers (2014, Fantagraphics Books) this past weekend, which collects his Maggie and Ray-focused stories from Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 & 4. I’ve been trailing slowly behind for about a decade now and had heard that this particular story was quite the climax in the lives of a few of the characters and that it’s a bit heartbreaking (and that I’d be in tears by the end). There’s some seriously sad stuff, true enough, and it was great to get even more deep back story on a character I’ve loved for twenty years now. Maybe it was all that anticipation and buildup, but I didn’t get nearly as emotional as I thought (hoped) I would. Now I’m ready for all the stuff from L&R: New Stories #5 – 8. Not sure when that material will be collected into a separate hardcover, my preferred format. Not sure if I’d be lost reading the recently released Love and Rockets Vol. 4 #1 without that stuff.

302438_20141110034925_large


TV . . . or Not TV?

I think for many of us scribes we tend to be at odds with the passive activity of watching television. I know for me I can only do about 2 – 3 hours total on a given day before I get antsy. Years back I never watched as many shows as I watch nowadays (they say we’re in a new golden age of television, and it’s true). I’ve deliberately cut back some from last season. So far for the 2016-17 season I have:

  • The Walking Dead
  • Talking Dead
  • Luke Cage (completed)
  • The Flash
  • Supergirl
  • This Is Us
  • The Blacklist
  • Real Time with Bill Maher

I think that’s about it. Four others will arrive later in 2017: Shades of Blue (winter/spring), Fear the Walking Dead (spring/summer), Game of Thrones (spring/summer) and Into the Badlands (TBD).

After one episode of Westworld, I haven’t decided if I’m going to continue it or not.

Oh, and I can’t forget that 2017 also brings the debut of Netflix Marvel shows like Iron Fist, The Punisher, The Defenders and the second season of Jessica Jones

Ugh! It’s so much TV for the time-managing-challenged struggling scribe like myself.


Ear candy of the Week

Various songs from The Altar, the sophomore album by BANKS, have been echoing through my head all week. May as well let these tunes infiltrate and infect your brain too. I’m not into much pop music at all, but thankfully her stuff is alt-pop laced with R&B/electronic (especially her older material). Jillian Banks has been my favorite lady singer of the last few years. Check her out.


++ Linkage ++
It is almost here… NANOWRIMO - via Reggie Lutz
NANOWRIMO 2016 PREP: DAY 7 - via Paul D. Aronson
The Curious Case of Why Short Story Collections Don’t Sell - via Kyle A. Massa

++ ICYMI ++
NANOWRIMO 2016 – I’M IN!
NOTEBOOK 8 | . . .
QUOTE | CLIVE BARKER ON CHARACTERS

Well, I guess this is it for a while. I’ll be back in a month.

If I’m back sooner then you can probably assume things aren’t going so well and I will have a story to tell about it.

But why think negatively, right?

Be good to each other.

Have a great week/month.

Oh yeah, and Happy Halloween!

-BLR

20161012_120041
Blog, Ruckin' With You, Update

Ruckin’ With You | 10.16.16 | I Am Returned

Family vacation is over. A good time was had. But it’s over and today I deal with the looming return to work on a gloomy overcast day with some rain after a week of blue skies and sunshine. Woe is me, right? At any rate, overall we enjoyed our time in the mid-North states of Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.


On My Mind

I arrived home with a great deal on my mind in terms of stories and writing. It seems my intense focus on the launch of my Library of Works website, RUCKERPEDIA, has got me so immersed in my past work that it’s served to inspire me on to current and future work. This past year the concept of a writer’s body of work, particularly MY body of work, has been very intriguing to me. Heck, it’s a huge reason why I built the RUCKERPEDIA website – inherently as an archive it serves as a virtual monument to my more than two decades as a writer. Essentially, were I to meet an untimely demise, well, there’s RUCKERPEDIA sitting there for WordPress, Google and Bing to offer proof, that, hey, this dude actually did a little something while he drew breath. It’s not much, but it’s something, check it out.

Currently there is a variety of nearly 30 pieces of fiction, poetry and lyrics posted, with so much more to come over the next two months. Naturally there are varying degrees of form, length and even quality. I keep everything and trust me, if I’m willing to share it publicly, then you can figure it’s probably not the worst that I have to offer. Some of it is actually worthy of publication elsewhere, and a decent handful of them were published by others at some point. But as is often the case with small press, your work is not widely circulated or worse, publications become defunct, which is the case for 90% of my previously published stuff.

But enough about the past body of work. I need to simultaneously focus on the future body of work I am building.


NaNoWriMo

In the past I have failed to commit to this annual activity an embarrassing amount of times. I really want to do it this year and work on PROJECT: DAME GAME, which is the codename for a crime/noir/romance novel that’s been percolating in my noggin for half the year. I think the pants-ing style of writing may actually benefit that particular narrative, especially since it’s a first-person viewpoint. I don’t think I could fly by my pants using my usual approach of multiple third-person limited viewpoints. For me that requires a great deal of pre-planning (i.e. outlining) and such so I can keep all the various moving parts and timelines straight. With first-person that’s an easier, more focused task. This is not to say that I won’t do a decent amount of prep work before committing to this year’s NaNoWriMo. I am a world-class preparer, if nothing else.


Serialized Fiction

I’ve been obsessed with episodic fiction ever since I was a kid watching TV and reading comic books. This is something I still strongly want to do on a periodical basis, be it in prose, comic scripts or something new I’m developing as a hybrid of both forms. And the advent of RUCKERPEDIA helps because it’s not only intended as an archival library of my works, but also a self-publishing venue. I want to start a series of some sort at the spark of the New Year. So I continue to brainstorm on that.


Collaboration

Something else I’ve been more open to of late, not just because I need artists to collaborate on graphic fiction projects, but also in terms of prose stories such as serials or novels. Not every teamup can be great and it can be a harrowing task finding those you synch naturally with, but it’s an idea I continue to entertain as a viable possibility.


ICYMI

Saturday Night Noir on RUCKERPEDIA

Crime Spree Saturday Night on RUCKERPEDIA

My Poetry on RUCKERPEDIA

LINKAGE


Be good to each other.

Have a great week.

-BLR