What’s Up Wednesday: Finally Healed & A New Set Of Wheels

Hey guys. I know I’ve promised this before, but I think I’m actually back this time. You see, something amazing has happened this week. I’ve experienced the first couple of pain-free days I’ve had in months. Sure, the back will twinge a little if I move wrong or try to pick up something I shouldn’t, but over all, I’m feeling pretty much back to normal.

As usual, the South Dakota Festival Of Books was a blast. First of all, I think Deadwood is one of the prettiest towns in the Black Hills. Not to mention the fact that it’s always fun to get together with fellow book lovers and authors. Not only did I get to see friends like Sandra Brannan, Anne Charles and Adrian Ludens, I got to meet many more new friends and some potential connections for book cover artists. We added a few volumes to our autographed copies shelf. Hopefully I’ll have a book to sell myself the next time it comes around.

I’ve been submitting more short stories for publication, but no bites so far. To be fair, I’m doing things a little backward and starting at the top of the list and working my way down. No sense selling a story for peanuts when one of the big names might want to actually pay for it. Besides, I’m getting a little old for that starting at the bottom stuff. I’m looking forward to the day I can report my first sale to you. I’m confident my writing is up to par, it’s just that competition is so fierce for even the non-paying markets.

I do have to confess that work on the novels isn’t going as smoothly as I had hoped it would. I would give excuses as to why, but they all come down to the same evil word that has plagued artists from the dawn of time. PROCRASTINATION. I can’t help but look at the amount of work involved in even finishing a first draft and think, “I just don’t have it in me tonight/today. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Then I sit around and binge Netflix.

The good news is, I’m almost caught up on Supernatural. Of course, the new season starts this month.

The bad news is July and Thrillerfest/Pitchfest will be here before I know it. I don’t want to go empty handed again.

In personal news, I finally got myself a new bike and it’s a monster straight from the gates of hell. Of course I mean that in the best possible way.

I went from this rather anemic ’83 vt500.

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To this beastly ’02 VTX 1800.

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It’s hard to tell from a picture, but this thing is a beast. If you don’t believe me, there are plenty of videos on YouTube of them eating Harleys alive. I actually have to be careful about how hard I twist the throttle, because the torque makes me feel like I’m going to slide off the back. I love it. It’s also much more comfortable than my little 500. My legs are out in front of me instead of tucked under like they are on the 500.

That’s not to say I’m not going to still ride the 500. The 1800 obviously doesn’t get nearly the gas mileage the 500 does, so I’m probably going to use the 500 for running around town and to work and back during the summer. Except for during Sturgis. I can’t wait to show this monster off to all the Harley guys.

Unfortunately, last night was the first freeze, so riding season is just about over. Still, I wouldn’t have gotten such a great deal otherwise.

That’s about it for this week. I’ll hopefully be back next week with another update. I’m also working on something spooky to post for a FFF sometime in the month of October, so keep an eye out for that.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

 

What I’ve Been Up To Since Returning From Pitchfest/Thrillerfest In NYC

So I bet you thought we were done with story time. You thought wrong. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you up to present with this post, but buckle in. It’s going to be a long one.

First, I need to explain our living situation prior to my trip. Shannon and I were living in the basement apartment of a house my mom owned. Yes, I was living in my mom’s basement. She rented out the upper part of the house to people coming to the area on vacation. Now, before you start asking why people would come here on vacation, I’ll list a few nearby attractions. Mount Rushmore of course, Deadwood, The Black Hills, Custer State Park, Badlands National Park, and the big money maker, Sturgis. I helped manage the property and the grounds.

Now that you know the backstory, I’ll tell you what happened upon my return to South Dakota. Prior to my leaving, the stars aligned for us to buy the house we were living in. My mom wanted to get out of the vacation rental business so she could concentrate on her actual bed and breakfast and making gourmet breakfasts for her guests.

Please check out her website if you’re ever planning to make a trip to Rapid City or the surrounding area. https://www.amiestjeanbedandbreakfast.com/ It’s a wonderful little place for a couples retreat and it’s within walking distance to restaurants and nightlife.

Unfortunately, Shannon and I could never have afforded the house on our own. Then a friend of ours told us that her lease on the apartment she was renting was coming up, and she had been told her rent would be going up. We quickly hatched a plan. We would move out of our basement apartment into the upstairs and move our friend into the basement. Money would be tight, but with the rent we got from her, we would just be able to make it.

So the moment I returned from my trip, we frantically started packing. Unfortunately, she had renters through the Sturgis motorcycle rally, so we couldn’t start moving upstairs just yet. We had to content ourselves with getting as much packed up as we could so we would be ready as soon as the last renters left. Boxes quickly filled our living room. I dragged my feet when it came to packing up my office in hopes I would get a little time behind the keyboard. No such luck. We couldn’t believe how much stuff we had accumulated in the years we had lived down there. I wish I could say we threw a lot of it out, but we were in such a hurry, we just packed everything in hopes of sorting through it when we unpacked. More on that later.

The rest of June flew by and the rumble of motorcycle engines told us the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally had begun. I took a weekend off from packing to enjoy a couple of days at the rally.

sturgis

I had a great time, but by Monday it was back to the grind. Luckily, (not so much for my mom) my mom’s renters decided the pretty little house with hardwood floors and a huge bathroom with a shower and whirlpool bath wasn’t up to their standards and left early.

Now it was time to start the actual move. It would have been nice to unpack as we moved, but no such luck. Our friend had to be out of her apartment by the end of the month, so we ended up putting all the boxes in the room that was to become my new office. It went from this,

Empty

To this, in a matter of days.

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The furniture was another story. Luckily by then we were able to place our furniture roughly where we wanted it. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my younger cousin and a friend though. I like to think of myself as strong, but I’m not the young buck I once was. I ended up overdoing it and throwing out my back which laid me up for several days.

Once we finally got everything out, it was time to make it ready for our friend. This involved thoroughly shampooing the carpet and doing everything else we could to remove any trace of cat hair for our allergic friend.

Once we got her moved in, we still had our mountain of stuff to contend with. As I said, we had planned to get rid of things we didn’t need as we unpacked. This didn’t happen. In short, we were tired of living in a war zone, so the easiest way to deal with anything we weren’t sure what to do with is throw it in the attic to be dealt with later. And there it still sits. I keep promising myself that I will start bringing it down one box at a time, to be sorted through.

Sadly, just when it seemed life was starting to get back to normal and we were down to our last dozen or so boxes, tragedy struck. A dear family member passed away unexpectedly in an accident. The grieving process was terrible. Once everyone had come to terms with the fact that she was gone, there was her estate to contend with. If we thought sorting through the stuff we’d collected over the course of our short time downstairs was difficult, we were in for a surprise. Imagine how much stuff you collect over the course of a lifetime.

I have to give thanks to Shannon’s uncle who took the reins as executor. Shannon and I were at a loss for where to even start. I still feel guilty that we weren’t more help.

As soon as I had everything out of the second bedroom, I got to work sorting out my office.The first things to go in were the couch and my grandfather’s old bookcase. I would have liked to have put a bed in instead of the couch, but there just wasn’t enough room.couch

Next came my grandfather’s reading lamp which had been in storage for years. I finally had a ceiling high enough to use it. Of course the small bookcase was barely big enough to house my writing reference books, so I needed something bigger. I was going to just buy a cheap one, but then inspiration struck. (Or maybe it was pinterest.) I started with ten wooden crates and stacked them to see how they would look.

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I liked the look, but they were too nice. I needed something more rustic, so I aged them and put an appropriate logo on them. I’m a pirate at heart, after all. Bonus points if you recognize the logo.

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With that done, I set my mind to finishing my writing space.

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And that brought us to Thanksgiving. We literally unpacked the last box the day before. I had volunteered to cook and host at our house. My mom has always done it in the past, but I thought that I could take some of the work off of her shoulders. Besides, I’m a pretty good cook if I say so myself.

Thanksgiving went off without a hitch. Everyone seemed to enjoy my food and we all had a good time. Luckily, we aren’t the type that has family drama that ruins holidays.

Of course, as soon as the turkey was eaten, it was time to get ready for Christmas. I spent way too much money, but it was worth it to see the smiles on everyone’s faces.

Following closely on Christmas’ heels was of course New Year’s Eve. For once, I had the night off. I’m sorry to report that Shannon and I stayed in and were yawning long before the ball dropped. When it did, we had our new year’s kiss and headed off to bed.

I blinked, and January was half over. Still, I decided to do what amounts to a resolutions vlog on my YouTube channel even if it was two weeks late. I won’t even go into what my resolutions were because I failed miserably on most counts.

Not long after that vlog, I had an incident at work involving a criminal who had come in off the street. When I ran him off, he threatened to come back with friends. I played brave, but I have to admit, I was a little scared, especially when he showed back up about a week later. I immediately called the police, even though he claimed to have been so high, he didn’t remember threatening me in the first place.

I gave him ample warning, but he was there when the police arrived. Upon searching him, they found enough drugs to arrest him on a class five felony. I was ordered to appear before a grand jury and give testimony in the case. Now, I suffer from anxiety on the best of days, but this sent me over the edge. I wasn’t so much concerned for myself, but a quick google search for my name made it clear how easy it was to find my address. I didn’t want him to come looking for me and find Shannon. I did everything I could to remove any personal information from the internet, but that took time. In the meantime, he posted bail.

Apparently, all my stressing was for naught. It seems the same day he got out, he was arrested for shoplifting and another felony drug offense. Needless to say, he was back in immediately without bail. Hopefully he goes away for a long time. At least long enough to forget about me. If he even remembers me at all with all the drugs.

Finally, just when it seemed I might be able to get some work done, I had a tooth blow up on me. It was luckily just a dull throb, but it was enough to keep me from concentrating for the two weeks it took me to get in to the dentist.

Once my tooth was fixed, it was time to celebrate my fortieth birthday in style. We went to the local speakeasy. I started with a glass of absinthe.

absinthe

I know there were more drinks after that, but I honestly can’t recall what they were. There was an option on the menu for three courses of the bartender’s choosing. I was told what they all were, but just don’t remember at this point. They were all tasty and very strong.

Starting at the beginning of March, I began blogging faithfully. I now post three times a week. Mondays, I recap what I’ve read/am currently reading. Wednesdays (today) is a general blog. This is where I’ll share what I’ve been up to writing wise or whatever else I feel like sharing. I’m also hoping to answer your questions and comments so message me on my social pages. I’ll post links below. Finally, Fridays are Flash Fiction Fridays. I post very short stories, just to give you an idea of my writing style and hopefully leave you wanting more.

I’m also starting to vlog on YouTube more often. I’m hoping to do at least one a week. I’m still trying to nail down a good day though. I tried Friday, but that didn’t work out. Maybe Wednesday. I also bought an action camera to post bonus videos of my motorcycle rides through the black hills.

I hate to admit this, but with my life in complete upheaval, I haven’t actually gotten much real writing done. That’s finally changing though. I’m working on a regular writing schedule and the words are flowing again. I’m experimenting with outlining once again. I’ve never had much luck with it, but I’m trying to approach it with a more open mind this time.

And that brings us up to the present. Needless to say it’s been a crazy year, but at least it’s given me things to blog about. Now to think of what I’m going to write about next week.

Anyway, I’ll see you on Friday.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

 

I Have Returned

Okay, okay. Let’s not bicker and argue about who hasn’t been updating their blog.

Seriously though,  sorry.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, just a quick update. While I haven’t been blogging, I  have been writing. A lot. I  finally got around to turning my second bedroom into a home office and my productivity has gone through the roof.

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I am currently about 15,000 words into my epic fantasy novel. I’ve also begun a dystopian YA thriller which was originally intended as a short story, but seems to be rapidly turning into a novel length piece. The plot is just too complex for a short.

Best of all, thanks to the support of my girlfriend, Shannon, I have finally started submitting my work. While I haven’t sold anything just yet, just getting my work out there is a major step.

This weekend I am attending the South Dakota Festival of Books in historic Deadwood. It takes place here every two years and I  always look forward to it. Next time, I  fully intend to have my own table where I will be signing and selling my own book.

Sorry for the short post today, but I’m typing this as I wait for the first program to begin. Never fear, I  fully intend to put up a longer post soon and get on a regular schedule. I’m not going to bother promising when though, because we all know how that goes.

A Weekend Amongst My People

Over the wekend I attended the South Dakota festival of books. I had a wonderful time. Imagine Comicon for book nerds. The city of Deadwood was overrun with writers of all types, teachers, librarians, and all sorts of people who just love a good book. There were wonderful seminars on all aspects of writing. I just wish I could have gone to them all but choices had to be made.

My favorite part was mingling and getting one on one time with authors at all stages of their careers and really talking with them about what I can expect as my own progresses. This is why I love the literary world. Unlike hollywood, most authors don’t look at you as a threat or competition. They’re more than willing to give a struggling writer as much helpful advice as possible. There’s a camaraderie as if they’re taking you into the fold.

It was great talking to successful writers such as Craig Johnson, the Author of the Walt Longmire mysteries. The series of books on which the T.V. show Longmire is based. If anyone has a right to be a bit cocky right now it’s him, yet he’s never too busy to shake your hand and chat with you a bit. He seems to love to encourage fledgling writers and was quick to tell me how terrible his first draft was.

I also met with Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen mystery series. She gave a wonderful early morning talk on writing great villains that really got me thinking. Imagine my surprise when later that day, while sitting having a pipe and digesting everything I had learned, someone taps me on the shoulder to say hello and I look up to see Mrs. Brannan. It was a great feeling to be recognized by a successful author. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of her work yet but you can bet I’ll be rectifying that soon.

I hadn’t heard of Rhiannon Frater, but the topics of her talks combined with the fact that she’s quite an attractive woman certainly had me intrigued. The first talk I attended was called, “Zombies & Vampires: The Lure of Fantasy”. Later she was on a panel called, “It’s the End of The World As We Know It”. Both talks were awesome and she had some great theories on the appeal of zombies, vampires, and things that go bump in the night. I picked up the first book in her, “As the World Dies” trilogy, read the first page, and had a hard time putting it down long enough to pay for it.

I also enjoyed wandering the exhibition hall and talking to writers who weren’t quite as famous but seem to be well on their way. In particular, I enjoyed talking to Thomas Gondolfi. He is downright hilarious and just the back cover of his book “Toy Wars” had me laughing so hard I had to buy it. Also, any man in a kilt has got to be a good guy.

I am eagerly looking forward to next time. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to set up a table of my own. I suppose the only way for that to happen is for me to get off here and do some writing.

Links:

Craig Johnson
Sandra Brannan
Rhiannon Frater

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