It’s Monday!!! Rage & 1984

It’s baaack! I’m not sure why I stopped doing these posts, but I’ve decided to bring them back. Like my other posts, I can’t promise I’ll post one every week. Honestly, some weeks, I don’t have time to finish a whole book, but I’ll post one whenever I do. For those of you who are new here, It’s Monday posts deal with the books I’m currently reading.

Last week’s book should probably start with a…

Trigger Warning. Last week’s book involves a school shooting.

Last week’s book was “Rage”, by Richard Bachman, AKA Stephen King.

I wish I could have found a better copy of the cover, but I couldn’t for the same reason I wanted to re-read it.

I read this once back in high school. It was okay, but I didn’t really think about it too much. It wasn’t until I heard that it was out of print indefinitely due to subject matter that I wanted to check it out again. What can I say? I’m a rebel.

“Rage” is about a bright high school student who was on his way to an institution for attacking a teacher with a pipe wrench for bullying him . On his last day of regular school, he shoots his teacher and one other member of the faculty then takes his classroom hostage.

The funny thing is, other than the fairly violent first few chapters, most of the book is fairly tame. The shooting/hostage situation is just the backdrop for the real story. Before long, the students find themselves sharing their deepest, darkest secrets. Most of the stories relate to how messed up they all are because or their parents. Soon, the students are bonding and discovering they aren’t all as different as they had thought.

It’s “The Breakfast Club” meets “Lord Of The Flies”

I’d love to drop you a link, but as I said, it’s out of print indefinitely. I’m sure if you looked hard enough, you could find a copy in your local used bookstore though.

This week’s read is “1984” by George Orwell.

Again, I read this back in high school. The only thing is, back then, in the optimistic mid-90’s it read as a cautionary tale, but one that, in my youthful estimation, could never come true. It’s a much more frightening read these days.

An honorable mention goes to “Ash & Quill” by Rachel Caine.

I don’t know why I’ve had such a hard time getting through this one. I read the first two just fine, but I’ve been slowly slogging through this one for months now. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the book itself although some parts are very slow. It’s just that there are a lot of other books on my TBR list that I’m much more excited to read.

Ash & Quill is the continuing saga of a group of students from the Library of Alexandria (which never burned down in this timeline) who are trying to save the library from itself. This is the third in the series following “Ink & Bone” and “Paper & Fire“. Again, there is nothing wrong with the books, I’ve just been wanting to read other ones lately. I’d better finish this one soon though, as “Smoke & Iron“, number four in the series, is already waiting for me.

Please visit my website www.justinmkelly.com

What’s Up Wednesday: Back To Basics

If you want to be a successful writer, you have to build a fan base. The sooner, the better. Preferably before you even publish a word. It’s common knowledge in the writing community. Worse yet, it’s expected by publishers. With this in mind, a few years back, I set up my website, my YouTube Channel, my Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. Even the blog you’re reading right now.

I started with good intentions and high hopes. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I got lost. My good intentions fell by the wayside as I got wrapped up in the dream of being famous for fame’s sake. I started worrying more about my YouTube views than the books I was supposedly writing. I would focus on what I was going to talk about in my next video or in my next blog post rather than focusing on the next chapter.

What’s worse, I let the fact that my number of subscribers wasn’t growing the way I’d hoped affect my mental health. Of course, it wasn’t the only cause, but it has been a big contributing factor when I’ve slipped into my semi-frequent bouts of anxiety and depression.

Recently, I’ve come to realize that it’s too difficult to market something you haven’t written yet. I know some people have managed to do it. Jenna Moreci, for one, had people clamoring for her book before she’d even finished writing it. Then again, she has a background in marketing. I don’t.

So I’m sure you have an idea where this is going. Don’t worry. I’m not going to shut down my blog or my YouTube channel. I’ll still post to my various social media pages as well. I’m just going to stop letting it take up so much of the time I should be devoting to writing.

First off, Fiction Friday isn’t going anywhere. I’ve come to enjoy sharing the quick, off-the-cuff, stories I post there. I can’t promise I’ll post every week, but I’ll try. It’s still writing, which I still believe is what I’m really meant to do. (I sure as hell hope it is, because I can’t see myself doing anything else.) Eventually, I hope to have enough Fiction Friday stories to put into a collection along with a few of my unpublished shorts.

I’ll still be posting What’s Up Wednesday, but it definitely won’t be every week. I’ll be honest, at this point, my life just isn’t exciting enough to have a real update every week. In fact, most weeks consist of, “I went to work, I wrote, and I slept.” Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Someday, I hope to have a more exciting life, but for most writers, there just isn’t much to tell.

The same goes for my YouTube channel. I just don’t have enough to talk about. I’d intended for it to be a writing advice channel, but right now, while I have plenty of opinions, I don’t feel like I’m enough of an authority to give writing advice. Besides, typically the audience for a writing advice channel is other writers when I’m really trying to reach readers. (Not that writers aren’t inherently readers as well, but I’m trying to reach a larger audience.)

I know I’ve been teasing this for a long time, but I think I’m going to finally start doing a series of videos called Story Time Saturday in which I read stories I’ve posted for Fiction Friday. I’m still not sure how that sort of video will go over but it’s worth a try. I’d really love to hear your thoughts on that sort of video so please leave a comment telling me your opinion.

Finally, I’m going to start submitting more short stories to magazines and anthologies. I tried it a while back and got frustrated after just a handful of rejections. Stephen King would be ashamed of me. He had enough rejections to rip the nail he hung them on out of the wall from the sheer weight. There were a lot more magazines that accepted fiction back then too, so the competition wasn’t as fierce.

The bottom line is, I’ve decided that I need to focus on actually finishing something before I worry too much about marketing myself.

One last thing. I want to thank the true fans who have been with me from the start. Actually, something just occurred to me. I don’t even know who my fans are. Sometimes I even question whether I have any in the first place. So if you’re a fan of my work, leave me a comment and let me know. (yes, I know it’s a blatant call for an ego boost, but I could use one right now.)

Anyway, that’s it for this time. I’ll see you on Friday. Until then…

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

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

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

You can find my Amazon influencer page here.  https://www.amazon.com/shop/justinmkellywriter

And my blog on Steemit. If you really want to help me out, go there and drop a like or a comment. I get paid if you do and it doesn’t cost you anything.

What’s Up Wednesday: Still Trying To Find My Way Home

It’s been weeks since I last posted. I’d intended to write a post last week. And the week before, etc. Still, I suppose it’s an improvement from going months between posts. I think trying to post a YouTube video and a blog post on the same day. I’m still going to keep posting here on Wednesdays mainly because I love alliteration. I’m moving my YouTube videos to Thursdays, so watch for those.

I wish I had better news on the writing front, but the truth is, progress over the last couple of weeks has been almost at a standstill. I’m still trying to force myself to write even when I don’t feel like it. Some days I’m successful. Most days I’m not. Still, I suppose a little progress is better than none at all. Last week, I was able to write 1,500 words. The week before it was only a thousand, so I guess I’m improving. It’s still frustrating to not be as fast as I used to, but I have nobody to blame but myself.

I’m also working to adjust my schedule. In the summer, Shannon changes from working afternoon/evening hours, to working in the morning. Needless to say, when her schedule changes, I try to adjust mine to match. I do my best writing when it’s just me and the cats. Besides, that gives me more time to spend with her. Although, since she’s working on finishing her master’s degree, hopefully she’ll yell at me to get back in the office so she can get her homework done. Lol

Other than that, life has been very lifey. We are still trying to get her dad’s house cleaned out. A week ago Saturday, we were expecting to get the majority of the work done. We even had a crew of people ready to help. Unfortunately, when we got there ready to “git ‘er done” as they say, the dumpster that was supposed to have been delivered on Friday was nowhere to be found. Of course, even though they listed Saturday hours, our calls went unanswered. I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised as it was Memorial Day weekend, but it id kind of ruin our plans.

Fortunately, it was delivered last weekend and although we took Saturday off to celebrate my mom’s birthday with a nice drive in the hills and lunch at The Alpine Inn, we got quite a bit of work done on Sunday. I have to admit, I’m looking forward to being done with the house so that I can pay some attention to our own house and perhaps get a little writing done.

That’s about all I have for today I’m afraid. I wish there was more, but until I’m truly back on track, I’m not going to have much exciting news for you.

I do have a decent FFF idea, but I can’t promise I’ll have it ready by this Friday. Maybe next week. Then again, I could surprise you. You never know.

Hopefully, at the very least, I’ll see you next week.

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

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

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

Also, Amazon apparently now considers me an influencer, which means that they basically gave me my own Amazon store where I can recommend products. I do get a cut of anything you buy when you click my link. Unless you’d rather all your money go to a faceless corporation.  🙂 You can find my influencer page here. https://www.amazon.com/shop/justinmkellywriter

What’s up Wednesday Rides Again: Anxiety, Defeat, And the Long Road Home

First off, I’ll spare you all the usual groveling and the possibly false promises to do better this time. For the record, I really am trying to establish a regular blogging schedule. To be perfectly honest, I’ve come to miss my weekly confessional. I think it really does help to do a weekly purge of some of the thoughts running around my head. Let’s just call this my own little digital pensieve. Yes, I’m a nerd. You should know this by now.


As for where I’ve been, I’ll cover that in the meat of the post, along with a bunch of other stuff. Speaking of which…

Where I’ve Been

You may have already guessed this, but my latest unplanned hiatus had everything to do with my old nemesis, Crippling Anxiety. Now for what brought it about this time.

As you may already know, I’d planned to go to this year’s Thrillerfest & Pitchfest in NYC. I was really excited to go. Partly because one of my literary heroes is going to be there, George R. R. Martin. Mister Game Of Thrones himself. I was really hoping to get a chance to talk to him and pick his brain.

More importantly, I was looking forward to showing up to pitchfest with a dynamite manuscript and having all the agents fighting over me, putting me on the path to becoming someone else’s literary hero. (Shut up. It’s my fantasy and I’ll dream it how I want.)

Unfortunately, finances being what they are, I was going to have to do my trip on a shoestring. That’s when I came up with an oh so brilliant plan. Rather than pay a fortune for a hotel and airfare, I would take the van my mom had given me and turn it into a camper which I would then drive to New York, park it somewhere away from Manhattan (probably Brooklyn), and use it in lieu of a hotel room.

And that’s where the trouble started.

ww.justinmkelly.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/IMG_9058.jpg”> The Van. I was thinking of calling it The Writer Wagon[/caption]
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You see, I’ve only ever been to New York twice. The first time was a school trip when I was in middle school, and the second was a couple of years ago and I never left Manhattan. I’d planned to park in one of the other boroughs and take the train into the city. the problem was, not having actually been there, I could find out where I was allowed to park, but I couldn’t figure out where I should park.

I had no idea what was a bad neighborhood and what was a good one. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Harlem is actually somewhat high class now. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time trying to plan my trip. The more I tried to come up with a plan, the more anxious I became. Add to this the fact that I was going to be on an extremely tight time schedule. I was going to have to leave as soon as I got off work two days before and figured I would arrive well after dark. Then I would need to find a branch of my gym, take a shower, then find a decent place to park so I could be up bright and early the next morning to pitch my book. Needless to say, that’s where mean ol’ Mr. Anxiety crept back in.

The more anxious I became about planning the trip, the more I began to neglect the whole reason I was going in the first place. I wasn’t writing. The more I failed to write, the more anxious I began to feel. The more anxious I got, the more I couldn’t write. And so on, and so on.

Still, once the snow melted, I decided it was time to start work on the van. The first thing I did was remove all the back seats to make room for my bed. Next, I took it for a little spin to see how it felt to drive it. I figured I’d take it to the grocery store and back. nothing major. Besides, you can fit a lot of groceries in an empty van. Everything was going fine until I got about three blocks away from my house and the van stalled. If I were still in my twenties, I would have pushed it the rest of the way, but sadly, I’m twice that and I’m just not the strong young bull I used to be. I ended up paying sixty dollars to have it towed three blocks, but there was a blizzard coming in and I needed to get it home. At least the tow truck driver gave me some insight as to the problem. It appears to be a problem with the fuel pump.

By the end of the day, I was thoroughly exhausted and questioning everything. I thought I might be able to afford a plane ticket and a hotel and did some research. With the money I had and perhaps a small loan, I discovered I would still be able to make the trip.

That’s when I did the other math.

When I’m writing regularly, I can average about a thousand words a day. I have had two or even three thousand word days, but those are a rarity. Still, I figured on a thousand a day as my goal. Then I counted up how many days I had left until my deadline. My heart sank. If I managed to meet my goal of a thousand words a day, I figured I could probably just reach my word count goal for the book just in time by the skin of my teeth. This would leave me with a very rough first draft to show agents. Unacceptable. Add to this the fact that lately I’ve been lucky to eke out five hundred words a day and I was completely sunk.

For a brief moment I considered going anyway just for the experience, but quickly threw that idea out the window. It would be silly and a waste to spend all that money just to show up empty handed. So, as much as it pained me to admit defeat, I made the wiser choice to save my money for next year when I plan to have multiple manuscripts to shop around.

Once I’d made my decision, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. While I’m still a bit disappointed I won’t be going this year, I’m already looking forward to next year and having all those agents fighting over me.

I gave myself two weeks to relax and not worry about writing, but that time is up. It’s still going to be a long road back to where I once was as a writer, but I’m ready to start the trek home five hundred words at a time.

And that’s where I should end this week’s update. I still have a lot to tell you, but I suppose I should save some for later. I’ll see you next week. Until then…

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

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

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

Also, Amazon apparently now considers me an influencer, which means that they basically gave me my own Amazon store where I can recommend products. I do get a cut of anything you buy when you click my link. Unless you’d rather all your money go to a faceless corporation.  🙂 You can find my influencer page here. https://www.amazon.com/shop/justinmkellywriter

Writing Office Tour

I thought you might like a look around the room where I spend most of my free time coming up with stories to entertain you guys.

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

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

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

I’ve also reopened my Amazon merch store, Scribe’s Station where I sell writing and book related T-Shirts.

Flash Fiction Friday Number 18: Rory’s Apple Adventure

Hey guys. I know I haven’t posted a FFF for quite some time, but it’s a new-ish year, and I’m back at it.

This story needs a bit of background. For Christmas 2016, I was given a set of dice called Rory’s story cubes. The idea is, you roll the dice, look at the pictures that come up, and make up a story. I posted a video of the roll on my YouTube channel here.

For this week, I’ve decided to take the dice at face value so I ended up with a children’s story. Next week, I will use the same roll, but use the images more metaphorically to make a much different story in hopes of showing how you can use the same inspiration to come up with multiple stories. Anyway, without further ado, I present,

Rory’s Apple Adventure

Rory was a generally happy sheep. He spent his days with the other sheep in the fields and eating delicious grass. One day a year, just when the days got warmer and his heavy wool coat started to itch, the farmer would bring him into the barn and shave it all off. Then he could go back out and play with his friends. He loved how much faster he could run without all that heavy wool weighing him down.

As much as he loved the spring, Rory’s favorite time of the year was fall. His new wool coat grew out just in time to keep him warm in the cooler weather. More importantly, fall meant apples. Rory loved eating the apples that fell from the trees in the apple orchard. Even though the ones he found on the ground were usually rotten and filled with worms, they were still tasty.

Still, Rory always found himself looking longingly toward the tops of the trees where the biggest, juiciest apples hung out of reach.

One day, Rory decided he just had to get one of those fresh apples before the worms and the birds could ruin them. Rory had never climbed a tree, but he’d seen the barn cat do it hundreds of times. How hard could it be?

Rory wandered through the orchard, looking for the perfect apple. Finally, he saw it hanging there, a ball of red fire in the morning sun. Rory reared up and put his front hooves on the trunk of the tree.

“Okay. Now what?” Rory thought to himself.

He scrabbled at the tree with his front hooves, but nothing happened.

“Maybe I need a running start.” He thought.

Rory backed up to the fence and ran as fast as he could toward the tree. As the last moment, he leaped, putting every bit of strength into his rear legs. For just a moment, he felt like he was flying before he crashed into the trunk of the tree.

As he lay there on the ground, waiting for the stars to clear, Rory heard a snickering sound.

“And just what do you think you’re doing?” A voice asked.

Rory opened his eyes to see the barn cat staring at him, amusement in his eyes.

“Trying to climb this tree.” Rory answered.

“Why ever would you want to do that?” the cat asked.

“To get a tasty apple.”

“Why, there are apples all over the ground. Why don’t you eat one of those?”

“Those apples are rotten and full of worms. I want a nice fresh one.” Then Rory had an idea. “Say, could you climb up and knock one down for me?”

“Oh, no no no no no. I could never do such a thing. I’m a good kitty. Only a bad kitty would knock apples out of the farmer’s tree on purpose. I’m afraid you’ll have to get the apple yourself.”

“But how? I don’t know how to climb a tree.”

“You don’t have the proper equipment, I’m afraid.” The cat said, showing Rory his razor sharp claws. “If you want to climb that tree, you’re going to need a little magic.”

“Do you have any magic?” Rory asked the cat.

“Of course. All cats are magic. But it’s not the sort of magic I can share.”

Rory slumped deeper in the dirt, disappointed.

“But I know someone who can.” the cat said.

“Who?” Rory asked excitedly.

“In a land far away lives a magic sunflower who can grant you one wish.”

“How can I find this sunflower?”

The cat cleared a patch of leaves and began drawing a map in the dirt. Rory did his best to memorize it before thanking the cat and running off to find the sunflower.

The great thing about being a sheep is, you don’t have to pack anything if you’re going traveling. Your wool coat is always with you, and there’s plenty of grass to eat wherever you go.

Rory ran as fast as he could down the dirt road just like the cat had shown him until he came to the river.

Rory stared at the water, unsure of what to do. He didn’t know how to swim. He wasn’t sure he even could with his feet.

“Stupid hooves.” Rory thought. “Can’t climb trees, can’t swim. What are they good for besides walking?”

Still, Rory just had to find the magic sunflower if he ever wanted a fresh apple. He put one foot into the water, but it sank into the mud and he pulled it back. He knew he could never cross the river by himself. He lay down in the dirt and started to cry.

“BAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!” He yelled sadly.

Just when he was about to give up and go home, he heard someone whistling. It was a man in a straw hat walking down the road. His clothes looked like the ones the farmer wore, but it wasn’t him.

“Well what’s this now. Are you lost, little sheep?”

Rory looked at the farmer, then back across the river.

“Trying to get across this little creek? Why, it’s not that deep. You can walk right across if you’d just try. Here, let me show you.”

The man walked out into the river. The water only came a little way above his ankles. Rory took another step into the river, still not liking the way the mud sucked at his hooves. Still, they only sunk into the soft mud a little. Rory took another step, then another. Before he knew it, he was back on dry land.

“Now see there,” the man said. You were worried over nothing.”

But Rory was already running down the road toward the place where the cat told him the flower would be.

When he finally got to the meadow where the magic sunflower was supposed to live, Rory looked around, but saw no flower. Instead, there was just an old tipi standing in the middle of the meadow.

Rory stood there, wondering if the cat had tricked him. Then he heard it. Someone was singing in the tipi. Rory ran to it.

“Hello. I’m so sorry to bother you, but do you know if there’s a magic sunflower that lives around here?”

The singing stopped.

“I’m sorry, but no.”

Rory felt sad and angry at having been tricked by the cat.

“I’m afraid I’m the only magic sunflower in the area.”

Rory poked his head inside the tipi. Sure enough, in the middle of the tent stood the most beautiful sunflower he’d ever seen.

“Excuse me, but I don’t recall inviting you in.” Said the sunflower.

“Oh, pardon me.” Rory said, sheepishly.

“Well, since you’re here, I suppose you might as well come inside.”

“Why do you live in here?” Rory asked as he walked through the flap. “I thought flowers liked the sun.”

“We do. But winter is on its way, so I have to hide in here until it gets warm again.”

“Oh.” Rory said.

“I suppose you have a wish you want me to grant.” The sunflower sighed.

“Oh yes. Very much. Can you help me get to the top of the apple tree so I can have a delicious apple?” Rory said excitedly while licking his lips.

“Not so fast said the flower. I don’t just grant wishes to anyone. You have to play a game. If you win, I’ll grant your wish.”

“Okay.” Rory said.

“But if I win, you have to give me some of your wool to help me keep warm this winter.”

“Oh. I don’t know about that. Then I’ll be cold this winter and the farmer will be mad at me.”

“Very well.” The sunflower said, turning away and resuming her singing.

Rory stood and thought about it for a moment. He really did want that apple. Besides, he’d come all this way.

“Okay, fine. How do I play?” Rory said, finally.

“It’s simple really.” The flower said. “I have these dice. We will each roll. Whoever rolls the biggest number wins. I’ll go first.”

The flower unfurled one of her leaves and picked up the dice and threw them on the floor.

“Seven. Beat that.” The flower gloated.

Rory picked up the dice in his mouth and spat. They rolled across the floor. When they finally stopped, there were five spots on each of the dice. The flower looked sad for a moment, then nodded her petals at him. Rory felt a strange itching on his back. He turned his head and saw two lumps poking out of his wool. As he watched, the lumps broke through his wool and became wings.

“There. Now you can fly to the tops of the trees and eat all the apples you want.”

Rory gave his wings a test flap.

“Not in here.” The flower scolded. “Go outside and try them out. Just leave me alone.”

Rory did just that. He ran out the door and leaped into the air once again. This time, instead of crashing down in the dirt, he gave his wings a mighty flap and felt himself climb higher. Again and again he flapped, loving the feel of the wind in his face.

Rory did a loop, then a flip, loving his new freedom. Then a thought came to him. He came back down to earth, landing clumsily. He poked his head through the flap of the tipi. The sunflower turned away quickly, but Rory had seen she was crying.

“What do you want now? Just go away and leave me alone.”

“I decided I want to give you something in return. I want you to have my wool.”

The sunflower turned to look at him, wiping away a tear with one of her leaves.

“Really? But what about you? Won’t you get cold?”

“Of course not. I think I’m going to fly south for the winter.” Rory smiled.

The flower again nodded her petals, and Rory’s wool appeared all around her stem.

“Thank you.” The flower said, picking up some of the wool and hugging it to herself.

“You’re welcome.” Rory said. Now which way is south anyway?”

“Just keep the sun on your left in the morning and on your right in the evening.”

With that, Rory dashed back out of the tipi and was gone.

So that’s it. Not bad for a first children’s story if I say so myself. Like I said, next week I’ll be posting a somewhat more adult story inspired by the same roll of the dice. I’ll see you then if not sooner.

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

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

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

I’ve also reopened my Amazon merch store, Scribe’s Station where I sell writing and book related T-Shirts.

What’s Up Wednesday: The Rebirth & Goals For 2018

Hey guys.

As you can see, I’ve brought back What’s Up Wednesday. I know some of you were disappointed when I decided to discontinue it, so I’ve come up with a compromise. As much as I’d like to post an update every Wednesday, the fact of the matter is, my life just isn’t that interesting. As a matter of fact, most weeks, I could just post the same half-dozen sentences and be done with it. On that note, I’ve decided to start posting updates every two to four weeks. That should give me enough material for a reasonable post. If something really exciting happens, I might to a special edition.

Anyway, on to the update.

If you follow my YouTube channel, and you really should, https://www.youtube.com/justinmkellywriter you’ll already know some of this.

In case you haven’t, here goes.

The end of last year really kind of sucked. I started November with the intention of participating in NaNoWriMo. I did reasonably well the first couple of days. Then I had my first slip. Something came up, causing me to miss a couple of days. No big deal. Instead of having to do 1,667 words a day, I would have to up it to 1,729. I even had a really good day the next day and almost caught back up. Then I had another bad day, then another, then another. You see where this is going. The worst part is, the more days I fell behind, the more that daily requirement grew. In my mind’s eye, I could see it towering over me, threatening to crush me. Before long, I could see hairline cracks in the base that grew wider day by day. Even worse, the further I fell behind, the less I found myself able to write. Of course, this is a very flowery way of saying that my failure to keep up with the daily word-count was severely triggering my anxiety. Finally, I had no other choice but to drop out of NaNo for my own mental health. Unfortunately, by this point it was too late. I spent the rest of the month absolutely hating myself.

We’d planned to visit my brother and his wife in Texas for Thanksgiving. It had been my plan to still spend some time writing every day. I even brought along my travel laptop for that purpose. Unfortunately, having already decided I was a failure, it never made it out of my backpack. Don’t get me wrong. I had a lot of fun while we were down in Texas, but deep down, I spent the whole time feeling like a fraud and a failure.

Upon returning home, Shannon discovered that her father had passed away while we were gone. Out of respect for her, I won’t give any details. I only tell you this because it severely effected us. I honestly hadn’t given much thought into how much goes into making final arrangements for a loved one. I kept having conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, It’s terrible that the grieving have to deal with so many practical things that they don’t really have time to mourn. On the other, it might be a blessing in disguise that it gives them something to take their minds off of it while the wound is still fresh, letting their loss sink in before they have time to really deal with things. I don’t know. What do you think?

That, of course, brings us to the Christmas season. I did my best to go through the motions, but try as I might, I just couldn’t get into the spirit. I usually try to do most of my shopping online. Once I feel comfortable with the gifts I have for everyone, I like to take one tour of the mall (a place I normally avoid like the plague) to see if I can find any last minute gifts for anyone on my list. Since I’m pretty much done, I don’t feel any pressure, and if someone wants to fight over anything, I can just let them have it. My little mall adventure usually allows me to really get into the spirit as I listen to the Christmas music over the P.A. system and look at all the cool little holiday displays. This year, I even tried to do a fun little follow me around video through the mall. Unfortunately, as you can see on the video, I started off in a bad mood which only got worse as I tried to force the holiday spirit.

It was only then that I realized what had happened. My anxiety over everything had progressed to a bout of full blown depression. I used to deal with depression a lot, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve had an attack, especially one this severe. The good thing is, once I properly identified it, I was able to use a few tricks to pull me out of it and on the 23rd, I woke up and I was all elves and reindeer. Christmas eve and Christmas day were a lot of fun. I especially loved watching everyone open the gifts I’d gotten them. I think most of them were a hit.

The week between Christmas and New Year was pretty uneventful. While I usually scoff at resolutions, I decided this was as good a time as any to make some changes in my life. I attempted to do a live video on New Year’s day where I made a symbolic fresh start by cleaning out my desk drawer on camera in preparation for all the time I’m going to be spending in the office this year. Unfortunately, thanks to a crappy connection that day, the video turned out very choppy and grainy. Still, I left it up on my channel in the spirit of “There’s nowhere to go but up.”

Since the video is kind of hard to watch and I also forgot to list a few of them in the video. I’ll list my goals for the year here.

First, and most importantly, write every single day. I’m not going to impose word counts on myself for fear of triggering another anxiety attack, but I’ve got to at least sit down and write something on a daily basis.

Finish at least one of my novels in progress. In July, I’m taking another trip to NYC for Thrillerfest and Pitchfest and I’ve absolutely got to have something to show potential agents and publishers.

Put out at least two new installments of The Children Of Pyrelia series.

Self-publish an anthology of short stories and flash fiction. Most of the Flash Fiction will be pulled from Flash Fiction Friday.

Try to publish a new Flash Fiction Friday post every week. This last week or so, I’ve been brainstorming story ideas like crazy so I never find myself without a story to write.

Start making videos in which I read one of my story and post them once a week.

Weekly YouTube videos about different aspects of the writer’s life in general. Some of these may just be about the rest of my life as well. Riding my motorcycles, hiking, fishing, etc.

Learning to lock myself away in my office to work even when I’d rather be spending time in the living room with Shannon.

Doing whatever it takes to get me out of my night job at the motel. Preferably transitioning to being a full-time writer, even if I have to start writing something other than fiction to make ends meet. This one was driven home just last night when a drunken guest tried to attack me. Luckily, I made it clear that I wasn’t afraid of him and he backed off, but it could have easily turned out very different.

Heavily marketing myself and doing whatever I can to get more readers/followers both on here and YouTube.

Starting a monthly newsletter and getting people to subscribe to it. If you’re interested, please go to my main page and scroll to the bottom to subscribe. www.justinmkelly.com

Figuring out Patreon and praying to the gods for patrons willing to help me achieve my dreams of being a full-time writer.  https://www.patreon.com/justinmkellywriter

And finally, the old standby. I’ve got to start taking better care of myself. I used to want to get in better shape to look better. Now I just don’t want to die young.

I may have forgotten a few, but you get the idea. It’s time to start taking my career seriously if I ever want to be a success.

Anyway, I guess that’s about it for this installment. I’ll see you in a few weeks to let you know how the resolutions are going. Now I’d better finish publishing this thing while it’s still Wednesday.

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

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

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

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.

vtx1800 medium

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’s Up… Thursday?: A Day Late And A Dollar Short

What’s up guys? How has your week been? Mine has been absolutely insane.

Last Friday was my mom’s birthday. I won’t tell you which one, because I’d prefer to make it to my next one. On her birthday, we took her out to a nice dinner and gave her our gifts. I got her an action camera like the one I’ve used to record a couple of videos on my YouTube channel. Shannon got her a ticket to go see Home Free this October. If you don’t know, they’re a great country acapella group. I don’t even like much country, but these guys are awesome.

On Saturday, Shannon, my Mom, and I  took a ride on the 1880 Train from Hill City, SD to Keystone, SD and back. It was a lot of fun and something Shannon and I have been wanting to do for years, but never found the time. It was great being to be able to step back in time as we entered vintage rail cars being pulled by an actual steam engine. I took a video and posted it on my YouTube channel here. Warning, it’s close to a two hour video, but I think it’s a reasonably soothing watch. You wouldn’t think riding in a convertible and then a train would wear you out so much, but we were both beat by the time we got home.

Of course, Sunday was back to the grind. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hotel being nearly or completely sold out every night. Some nights, even when we’re sold out, I still have most of the night to myself. Not so this week. It seemed like every five minutes or so, somebody needed something. I was hoping to get some writing done, but to tell the truth, this blog post is all the writing at work I’ve been able to do all week. I would try to get something on the page, but it always seemed that as soon as I would start to type, either the phone would ring, or someone would magically appear at my desk. Finally I gave up and cued up the next episode of Black Sails and dreamed of running away and turning pirate myself.

Of course, one full night was devoted to editing the aforementioned two hour YouTube video. I’m getting better with my editing skills. I’m even considering getting a green screen so I can replace the ugly background when I shoot vlogs at work. Now I just need to work on my on-screen presence.

The good news is that during my time at home I’ve been fairly productive. The bad news is, what I’ve been productive at is procrastination. Yes, my office is spotless so that when I do finally sit down to write, I shouldn’t have any distractions, but I’ve yet to test this theory by actually sitting down to write. Oh well, this weekend is supposed to be ridiculously hot and Shannon has a lot of homework to do for her masters in English, so I plan on giving her space and working on my own homework. I’m hoping to even get some serious reading time in over the weekend as we hide from Mister Heat Miser.

I guess that’s about it. It may not sound like much to some of you who actually work for a living, but it’s really frustrating to not be able to get work done when you actually want to.

I do have a good idea for this week’s Flash Fiction Friday, but I’m a little afraid it’ll end up turning into a full-fledged short story that I’ll want to try to submit somewhere, in which case, I won’t be posting it here. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t turn out as good as I think it might. 😀

Anyway, I guess that’s about this week. I will post something tomorrow, I promise.

As always, you can find me all these places 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 YouTube I finally hit 100 subscribers. Thank you everyone for your help. The new custom URL is https://www.youtube.com/justinmkellywriter

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

I’m even on Pinterest

What’s Up Wednesday: Back To Work

Hey guys. Happy What’s up Wednesday. The day of the week where I fill you in on all the boring details of my life. Well, at least most weeks.

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t been posting for the last week or two. Now, I know it’s not unusual for me to miss a post here and there, but this was something a little different. It wasn’t just that I forgot, or I got distracted, or even that I spent too long procrastinating and just didn’t get to it.

The truth is, I just plain didn’t feel like it.

Now, there are a few contributing factors as to why I didn’t feel like it. I really had no energy. As it turns out, this is because I was unknowingly fighting off a cold. I lost that fight. Also, Shannon’s schedule was about to change, so I was preparing to change mine as well. I was getting us ready for a camping trip which we didn’t end up going on due to weather.

All of these reasons are just excuses though. To be honest, the real reason I kind of dropped off the face of the earth for a little while is that I was burned out. I’ve been spending so much time between writing, blogging, and vlogging, that I was starting to feel I had no time for myself. I know I’m working toward my dreams, but sometimes I envy the people who can get off work, crack open a beer, and binge something on Netflix without feeling any guilt because their work for the day is done. I wanted to be that person for just a little while. I’ve been lazy all my life. Trying to turn myself into a workaholic isn’t easy.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to complain. I know what I’m doing is worth it, even if I never see a dime from my writing. I’m creating worlds and people out of thin air and I’m still amazed that I can do something like that. It’s just that sometimes being a god can be exhausting. (That was a joke. A blasphemous one, but a joke nonetheless.)

I think Lawrence Kasdan said it best. “Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.”

I’ll add a little something to that. “Sometimes, you just want to play hookey and go fishing.”

The good news is, so far, working on multiple projects seems to be really helping with productivity. When I get stuck and move on to the next project, my subconscious kicks into overdrive and solves my problem while I work on the next story.

So that’s it for today. All I ask is that you bear with me next time I need to get away for a bit.

I’ll see you on Friday with another installment of Flash Fiction Friday. This week’s story is going to be a little different from the things I’ve posted before.

As always, you can find me all these places 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 YouTube I finally hit 100 subscribers. Thank you everyone for your help. The new custom URL is https://www.youtube.com/justinmkellywriter

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

I’m even on Pinterest

I’m considering starting my own reddit page. Let me know what you think.