Why I Write about my Hometown

A friend of mine contacted me not too long ago, after reading one of my books, to say how she was somewhat disappointed in herself because the book she had written was a sort of historical fiction based in a fictional Wisconsin town, while the book of mine she had just read, The Agora Files, was futuristic fiction and had a bit of the action located right in the very real town I live in, Eau Claire, WI.

Had she read Daddy of the Dead, she would have found that this zombie-filled horror about my own coming to terms with fatherhood was based entirely on the very real route from Chicago, IL to Menomonie, WI.  One of my current works in progress is set just a few hours north of here.  My children’s book I’m polishing up at the moment, Chippewa Chao and the Marvelous Macaroon Mission, is also based right here in the good ol’ Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin.

You might say there’s a bit of a trend there.

In my re-read of The Agora Files – Part I as I ramp up to begin writing the third and final book in that series, I couldn’t help but stop and think about the inclusion of my happy little hometown within the pages of my book set in a not-entirely-happy United States.

For those of you who haven’t yet read the book, in it the U.S. has become something of tyrannical beast.  There’s a big war going on between the federal government and a group of plucky rebels who are looking to change things.  Cyrus, the protagonist of the story, finds himself somewhere in the middle.  The story takes him through learning about both sides of this war and, well, mostly determining that neither side seems all that awesome.

But then, approximately halfway through the book, he finds himself in this rather surreal moment as he is welcomed to a giant festival in his honor, right in my good old chosen hometown of Eau Claire, WI.  The moment was created to be a disorienting one, but also one to show how the world might not all be in completely terrible shape.

It was a moment I had designed well before I knew where he was going to be when it happened.  But when I considered all that was going to go into the scene, there really was only one place which made sense.  Eau Claire.

You see, this little city in which I live has a lot going for it.  It’s got a strong agricultural scene, an abundant amount of industrial coverage, and, even more than all that, a great amount of heart.  If there would be one place I’d want to be should the world break down, it would be here.

This is a town that has, on numerous occasions, has come back from near dissolution due to large corporations jumping ship and thereby leaving a large part of the city’s workforce unemployed.

This is a town currently in the midst of a complete revolution in how it thinks and acts in order to go prepare for the modern age, to welcome in the newer generation, to be prepared for all that is to come as the world is changing.

But most importantly, this is a town that defines the phrase “Wisconsin Nice”….yeah…I know those Minnesota folks like to use the phrase, but come here, you’ll learn who is doing it right.

So, when I was looking for a location which would be prepared to welcome this scoundrel with loving/open arms, there really was no better place than right here in good old Eau Claire, WI.

Heck, just back in April, had Trump, Clinton, Sanders and Cruz were all within just miles of each other, right here in Eau Claire, throwing big events, and not a single bit of crazy happened…well, you know, outside of whatever might have come from those behind the podiums…we can’t control that.

So, not only was this the location where I could depict this lovely serene location nestled in the tall green pines, settled on the convergence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers.  It was also the only place I’ve found within this country where a man who was on top of the most wanted list with an impossibly large bounty on his head could possibly have been openly celebrated and not be in danger.  Not to say that we actively or regularly celebrate federal fugitives, just that in this specific case, we might have.

I’ve often considered the idea of moving to a different city/state for a number of different reasons.  But time and again I look at my plucky hometown and realize that I really couldn’t ask for anything better.

So why do I write about my hometown?  Because I honestly think is pretty darn awesome.  And it’s one of the few places where things feel…almost perfect.

Now the real question is…why am I even talking about this right now…That I can’t answer.  I was just feeling a bit of love for my hometown as I re-read the pages I wrote several years ago and thinking about how well they hold true even today.

Now if only we could get us a Krispy Kreme and a Waffle House around here, I could take away that almost in front of the word perfect…🙂

Have fun out there!

Fat Mogul vs. Creative Anxiety

About a week ago I was asked by a mother to talk to her daughter who was in the midst of determining her career path.  I didn’t get much information outside of there being a question of whether or not she should go for a creative writing program.

When I actually talked to the daughter, I, well, first of all, I found that this young lady had a much better head on her shoulders regarding her career prospects than I have even today.  But secondly, I ended up getting into a conversation regarding writer’s block.  She had set a goal for herself her freshman year to finish a book by the time she graduated.  With her senior year already in full swing, she was beginning to believe this would never occur, simply because she just kept getting blocked on how to move forward.

I offered my standard advice of just writing until something that makes sense comes out (a very simplified version of my “just do it already” speech) and, although I feared I may have scared her off of writing altogether, she came back to me the next day with a note saying my advice worked.

Because of course it did🙂

But here’s the thing.  At the same time,  I was in the midst of my own version of writer’s block…which, to be fair to those who get stumped creatively, is not really your standard version of writer’s block…as I found out when attempting to commiserate with some fellow authors.

So, I’ve come to designate it as Creative Anxiety.

You see, every time I finish a project, I am absolutely incapable of starting my next one, even if I am fully aware of what it is and am completely inspired on how to put it together.

I can’t.

I actually become creatively paralyzed (so to speak), in that whenever I sit down to attempt to get myself to work on the next project, I just sit there, catatonic almost (although, more often than not, I’m actually finding methods of procrastination such as facebook and random internet searches…this time I got a watch!).

You see, I become absolutely terrified about starting a new project.  So terrified, I can’t do it without a great deal of willpower-induced effort.

My brain goes into this terrible cycle of fear of failure, fear of rejection, and fear of just absolutely sucking as a creative.

And this has happened for as long as I can remember.

I attempted to write my first book in second grade.  It didn’t live up to the hype I had given myself about it, so I didn’t write again for years.  I don’t actually remember trying to write anything again until 6th grade.

When I wrote, directed, and starred in my first movie, I finished it feeling rather disappointed in my own work in the effort, recognizing all of the things I could have done way better, and hated myself for it.  It would be over 3 years before I would begin writing my second feature.

When I finished my second feature and absolutely hated what came out of it (not due to anyone’s efforts but my own…my actors, directors, and everyone else did fantastic jobs…I just hated the story, the editing, and, well, you know…the fact that I had cast myself as a lead).  This one took me so far down that it was another 3 years before I’d actually be able to move forward on another project.

Which brings me to The Legend of Buddy Hero.

I finished the first book in the series about 7 years ago.  And released it to the wild…And then realized it was terrible (this is the original version you can’t find anymore…the current version is actually quite good, I assure you…but I’ll get to that more in a moment).  I was devastated in how far from what I had envisioned actually ended up on the page.  Stopped the presses completely and shut down again for nearly another 3 years.

Then I came back to it.  I realized I had the opportunity here to actually correct my mistakes.  And I did.  And I made a wholly better book (after I took time away to write a completely different book first).

But here’s where things don’t make sense to me.

You see, I went into a pit of despair and fear of failing again because I absolutely despised, felt embarrassed, knew I should have done better on those previous projects.  When I finally finished Buddy (as well as Agora and all of my projects to follow), I actually found myself feeling proud of my work.  Feeling, for the first time, like I had actually succeeded…

But the fear remained.  Still today, even if the book/project I just finished is something I consider absolutely spectacular, I fall into this funk where I can’t believe that anything I do will ever be worthwhile.

And I can’t move forward.

I become so absolutely anxious regarding my own creative abilities, that even though I have a project I’m eager to get started on (I ALWAYS have a project I’m eager to get started on), I can’t.

Until I finally force myself out of the funk and move forward.

And this is where I was when I was talking to the young lady who was suffering from a case of writer’s block.

I was in this shell where I didn’t want anyone to even note I had ever written anything ever.  This was mere days after receiving over a dozen love notes from kids who had beta read Chippewa Chao and the Marvelous Macaroon Mission for me.  This was after being offered free editing and free translation services from folks who read the beta version and fell in love.

This was AFTER I had the opportunity to sit and chat with a bunch of kids about how I AM an author and it’s really kind of an awesome job, even if it doesn’t always keep the lights on.

I was petrified.  Utterly.

The worst part about all this was that I had just begun the early work on a completely new project I was (and still am) incredibly excited to begin work on.  Quite possibly more excited than I’ve ever been about a project.  It’s going to be intricate, it’s going to be mysterious, and it’s going to be quite a lot different from anything I’ve done before, while still keeping to the adventure vibe I like to use as my trademark.

So I would sit in front of a computer screen for hours at a time, wanting to put in the work, staying awake to put in the work, but completely unable to do so simply because I was certain it would be nothing more than crap.

Because no matter how proud  I am of my own work, no matter how many accolades I get from readers, I’m still certain that I’m capable of nothing more than drivel, than illiterate blech…than crap.

I’m out of the funk now, actually capable of moving forward on new and existing projects once again.  But that feeling is still there.  It’s always there, really.  This feeling that I just don’t have *it*.

What’s most amusing about that feeling is that I really don’t care.  I mean, ultimately, although I love for readers to enjoy my work, I don’t write for them.  I write for me.  To get these stories and ideas out of my brain so my brain doesn’t explode.  And to give me something to strive to be better on.

Because that last point is what is most important to me…and why I’m actually kind of okay with this creative anxiety I face on a daily basis.

I’m never satisfied with just doing what I’ve done before.  I don’t want to just pump out books for the sake of pumping out books.  I want to challenge myself.  I want to be more than just an author.  I want to be the best author ever to have existed…whether or not anyone ever reads a single word I’ve written.

But it’s not a competitive thing for me.  I don’t really care to be the best author as compared to other authors as much as I want to be the best author I can possibly be.  To achieve literary perfection.

To write the world’s most perfect story… (that may seem a little hyperbolic, but I assure you, I spend a great deal of time attempting to come up with such a story…knowing its a rather impossible feat).

This creative anxiety I feel, it’s what pushes me forward.  It may be what paralyses me to do things, but it also powers the fear which keeps me coming back, which keeps me struggling to do better, which keeps me working instead of just writing.

I hate this paralysis/fear I feel.  But I honestly believe it’s the number one reason I keep being able to feel more and more proud about the things I’ve written.  Each of my books is, in my opinion, far superior to the previous.  And I aim to continue that pattern for as long as I’m able to force myself to write.

Because that’s my dream.  My goal.

And that’s just a small amount of insight into the crazed brain of this particular author…but if you’d like another piece of quick insight:

All of the above, it really makes it seem like writing is one of the most terrible things for me.  That I must absolutely hate it.

But I don’t.  Outside of my family and friends, it is my greatest pleasure.  To sit and create.  To develop characters and worlds and stories.  To put all these things to the page and watch as a story unfurls…it’s [expletive deleted] incredible.  It’s like bringing a baby into the world, but instead of dealing with dirty diapers for the next few years, you get bad reviews.

I love writing.  That, and the fact that it’s one of the few things which keeps me sane in this world, is why I do it.  And why I will continue to do it…well past the point in which I probably should.

And that, my friends, is why I force myself past the terror of creation.  To get to the blessings of it.

Have fun out there!

Book Review: Bartholomew Roberts’ Justice by Jeremy McLean

Disclaimer:  I got this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Bartholomew Roberts’ Justice by Jeremy McLean is the second novella in McLean’s Pirate Priest book series.  And it starts off just a few months after we last saw the Dread Pirate Roberts (wait…wrong story) in the first book.

Where the first book seemed to justify the need for pirates, in that Roberts found there was good to be done as a scallywag, book two seems more focused on Roberts actually dealing with the fact that he is now plundering for the sake of plundering.

In actuality, there appears to be little redemption for the pirates in this book.  No longer are they focused on freeing slaves.  Instead, they’re focused on power and money and…well, you know..being pirates.

Roberts seems to be in a rather weird place here.  At one point, he does focus on doing the right thing, being concerned about the death of innocents and such.  At other points, he’s willing to attack and destroy other ships purely for what they’ve got in their cargo hold…those folks apparently not being innocents simply because they’ve got stuff Roberts wants.

I have to admit this piece of the puzzle caused me pause, but the story itself was well told.  We see Roberts battling somewhat with this designation of pirating (although not nearly enough in my opinion), but also battling with those who would aim to do further wrong in his eyes.  And we also see him focused on treating everyone the way they should be treated, even if his reasons for determining how their karmic place seems questionable at times.

Ultimately, this is another great swashbuckling tale where we see how life on a pirate ship might not be all rosy between the scum and villainy who are generally on those ships.  And Roberts, the man of God, is in the middle of it all, trying to keep control.

By the end of the book, we do see Roberts begin to turn back to his roots, but the question remains…can you be a pirate and a man of God?

Definitely worth the read, especially if you enjoy any of McLean’s other books.  And Roberts is a rather endearing character.  The lapses in his judgment could definitely be seen as more character flaws than flaws in the writing, so don’t think I’m taking away from the skill of McLean here.

In other words, give it a read already.  It’s a load of fun!

Book Review: Bartholomew Roberts’ Faith by Jeremy McLean

Got to get the standard disclaimer out of the way first: “I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.”

If you’ve been keeping up, you’ve probably seen a review or two of mine come about with the name of Jeremy McLean attached before. That’s because he writes pirate books and then he asks me to read them, and I just so happen to like pirate books.

Bartholomew Roberts’ Faith is one of two novellas Mr. McLean sent me recently (the second will be appearing on here shortly as I’m over the halfway point on it as we speak).  Now, his other books, Blackbeard’s Revenge and Blackbeard’s Freedom, follow the pirate who would become known as Blackbeard.  These two novellas containing Bartholomew Roberts’ name, follow around the exploits of a man who will become the pirate known as Black Bart…don’t worry, I keep getting them confused as well.

Confusion aside, Faith (as I’m going to shorten the title from here on out), is a solidly told, well-built story about a man coming to terms with the idea of becoming a pirate.  Roberts is a religious man, who decides to spend his life at sea.  He quickly realizes that good and evil aren’t quite as black and white as he had initially believed…so, through a series of amazing events, he finds himself aboard a pirate ship, set off to free slaves.

This book is a ton of fun.  It’s got some swashbuckling (although I’d always ask for more, even if it were a thousand page book of nothing but swashbuckling….okay, no, nevermind, don’t do that, please).  It’s got drinking!  It’s got pirates!  And it’s got a morality tale which not only manages to surprise, but also happens to be quite sweet.

In fact, the morality tale of this story is really what it’s all about, and it’s quite spectacular.  And since this book is so short, you can read it in one sitting…unless you’re like me and have three children who completely exhaust you before you even get to pick up the kindle, then it’s 2 or 3 sittings.

I’d highly suggest this title.

Buy it now!

Book Review: The Gospel According to St. Rage by Karen Eisenbrey

Loser girl turned punk rock superhero…Those six words should sell you on The Gospel According to St. Rage alone.  But you know what, that still doesn’t do this book any sort of justice.

Barbara has spent the majority of her life invisible.  Whether she’s been literally invisible or not is not entirely clear.  Neither is it all that important, as whichever is true, no one at her school seems to even know she exists…until one chance meeting leaves her with a brand new hat and a new lease on life…and sudden visibility. And superpowers?

Well, to be honest, I’m not sure where the superpowers come from either, but again it doesn’t matter, because Barbara is no longer the type of person to concern herself with where good fortune comes from, she’s now one to take that fortune by the horns and ride it into the sunset.

Suddenly she’s the leader of a rockin’ new girls band and making waves in the school.

There is so much I want to say about the actual content of this book, so much I want to tell you about what happens, but I honestly believe you need to experience it for yourself.  You see, this isn’t really a superhero book.  Sure, Barbara may have the powers to cause flocks of birds to release their…um…payload onto her enemies with the simple flick of a finger, but she’s not out to save the world, she’s just out to finally live the life she’s been hiding from.

And that she does in an incredibly amazing way for this previously quiet choir girl.

This is a story about high school.  About finding yourself.  About doing what you need to be doing…about destiny?

Eisenbrey brought me back to my own high school days with this book that feels like a punk rock song itself.  To those days of trying to make friends, of trying to define who I am.  And she does so with rock star class.

This ain’t your momma’s young adult novel.  And it ain’t your daddy’s comic book.  It’s a real story, based in reality, with a little bit of fun superpowers thrown in…and I have to say, the powers themselves are some of the most creative I’ve seen.

Give this book a read…seriously.

Buy it now!

Project Updates September 2016

Hey folks, thought it was just about time to let you all in on what’s going on, now that I’ve started getting the regular writing thing going on once again.

And the answer is…a whole heckuva lot.

First, I’ve completed the first book in my chapter book series, Chippewa Chao and the Marvelous Macaroon Mission.  I’m pretty excited about it.  Going to get it in the hands of my kids this weekend for a first read thru to see how my built in test audience responds and start making some moves based on that.  I honestly think this series is going to be a ton of fun once it gets going.  Of course…it’s still got a long way to go before it gets onto store shelves, but the first part of the process is complete and I’m really happy with how it worked out.  I’m actually quite excited to get working on book 2 of the series…but one thing at a time.  Well, one thing at a time for this particular series because:

Are you one of those folks who have been eagerly awaiting to learn how things turn out for Cyrus, Eve, and The Geek?  Well, I’ve begun the process for Agora Files Part 3.  I’m still admittedly quite early on in the process.  Doing some basic plotting out.  Re-reading the first two books in the series to make sure I capture all of those unanswered questions, as well as to make sure I remember all those finer details that will play out in the end.  And, of course, finding some really cool things to include in the finale of my favorite high-octane young adult series.  Sure, it’s still going to be a bit before this book’s completed…but it’s a high priority for me and I’m really quite eager to see how the end finally plays out…well, you know, I mean, I know how it plays out, but to see how it all actually comes together once its written.

But that’s not even close to all, folks, because I just so happen to have accidentally started work on a completely new book (which may end up becoming a series, depending on how I can piece everything together).  What do I mean by accidentally?  Well, you see, I was in need of doing a bit of a  brain exercise yesterday and decided to try and come up with the most complex and ridiculous plot possible…and what I came up with, although still quite rough around the edges, was too much fun to let go.  The little brain exercise ended up becoming a full synopsis, a minor amount of character development, and even the writing of a test chapter to see if I could get the vibe right.  This one falls below the previous two items as far as priority goes, but I have to admit that the concept has been too intriguing for me to let go.  Too cryptic?  Well, what if I tell you that it’s Wayward Pines, LOST, Good Omens, and Portal, tossed in with aliens and video games and a whole bunch of other random things to create the most insane adventure/mystery novel ever…well, you know, at least in this very early conceptual stage.  But honestly, I think this could be something incredibly special, and I really can’t wait until I can make it my full priority.  For now, it’ll be the thing I go to when I need a bit of a break from my other projects.

Of course, there are still several other things in the pipeline as well.  I’ve got a short story in another upcoming anthology from Cake and Quill.  I’ve got a collaboration that’s still in the very early conceptual stages with the always amazing Ken Mooney, and I’ve still got some editing to do on the already-completed Right to Liberty novel, starring the man who will soon be everyone’s favorite cranky old revolution leader.

In other words, I’ve just gotten myself back into the game, and I’ve already got a whole host of things in the pipeline.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure any of these will make it out before the end of 2016 (which will mean I won’t have published anything this year), but if I can keep up the momentum I’ve already built, we should see a thunderstorm of things coming out in 2017.

So…you know…you’ve got that to look forward to🙂

Fat Mogul vs. Pumpkin Spice

You know what my kids had for breakfast this morning?

Pumpkin Spice Life cereal…

That’s right, folks, the season is upon us.  The season of death.  The season of terror, the season of …fall *grumble*.

Look, I know, it hasn’t been that long since I talked about how much I love summer and I’m already here to talk about how much I despise the autumn.  But it’s true.  I hate it.

Things like pumpkin spicing up every single thing under the (not going to be around for much longer) sun doesn’t make things any better.  Just makes the whole season feel…terrible.

Now, sure, I love me some Halloween.  I’ll admit that I’ve driven down country roads just to look at the fall colors.  And I’ve been aching to get out to an apple orchard and down a few pints of apple cider.  (Speaking of which…why can’t we have more Apple Spice stuff instead of all this Pumpkin Spice crap?)  I even love me some pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving and…okay, you get it, there’s a ton of things I really dig about fall.

But I really really really hate fall.  Maybe it’s that my seasonal allergies kick up right about now and don’t allow me to feel like a real person again until the snow’s on the ground and I’m stuck inside for nine months.  Maybe it’s that I really really hate how everything has pumpkin spice in it nowadays, without using any pumpkins, of course (which, to be fair…I’m not sure I actually dislike pumpkin spice…just the concept of pumpkin spice keeps me away from it all).

Or maybe…just maybe…it’s because I see fall for what it really is.  The death of summer.

Honestly, fall, in general, really is just all about death.  Ignore that the Day of the Dead and All Hallows Eve occur during the season.  Just look at the leaves on the trees, the migrating birds, and the fact that we harvest all our crops up and leave our fields dormant for the following months.  Fall is just preparing for winter.  And I really don’t like winter.

Fall is, of course, some of the best time to play outside.  It’s not like gross wet spring where you still don’t have all the grass on the ground and everything’s muddy so you just feel dirty…not to mention you still haven’t had all of the gross stuff that got stuck in the snow get washed away yet.  Nope, fall even means there are a ton of leaves covering the ground to give you a little cushion when you get tackled to the ground after deciding to throw the pigskin around.

It means sweatshirts and long pants.  No longer needing to escape to the air conditioning to feel human again.

But it means summer is over…and that makes me very, very sad.

So…although my lovely city’s International Fall Festival doesn’t seem to know it (seeing as it’s happening this Saturday), I’ve still got a week of summer left.

Now I just need to figure out how to use it…

Have fun out there!

Fat Mogul vs. Stranger Things

Bandwagons are awesome.  That’s why I’m jumping on this one really hard.  And late…

Honestly, if you don’t know it already, you’re obviously out of the loop, but I’m here to say that Stranger Things is one of the most brilliant pieces of scripted television entertainment I’ve seen in a very long time…since I’m re-watching Lost right now, I’m really struggling to fight the urge to compare it to that terribly-concluded saga of awesomeness.

But honestly, I’m not really here to talk about how awesome it is.  Well, not directly anyway.  If you haven’t heard that it’s awesome already, well, it is, but being told that won’t sell you on the series.  What will sell you is turning that thing on and giving it a good watch.  I was hooked from the first episode.  My wife took until the second.

What I am here to talk about is WHY that show, or other shows, like Lost, are so simply amazing.  I mean, Stranger Things, from the basic description, isn’t doing anything new.  It proclaims itself to be an homage to action/adventure/horror films of the 80s.  And it’s based in the 80s.  Really, it should jus be a rather by the books B-movie.

In fact, for reference, Stephen King, after watching the series, tweeted that it felt like a Stephen King novel.  Which I wholeheartedly agree with.  And if you’ve ever seen a film based on a Stephen King novel…well, you know what to expect.

So why is it so amazing?  Why would I feel the need to come on here and talk about it with you from more than a perspective of just how much fun and engaging of a story it is?

The answer is simple…because of the writing.

There are so many things about Stranger Things that work really really well.  The central cast are almost all spectacular.  Millie Bobby Brown alone makes the show worth watching, as her performance of Eleven is quite simply some of the best wordless acting I’ve ever seen.  The sets are great, the costumes really put you in the middle of the 80s, the music is spot-on, and even the monster, who is a little on the goofy-looking side, never really pulls you away from the story because of it.

Nearly everything about this series is spotless in its implementation.  But I wholeheartedly believe the series would have been able to skimp on all of these things and still achieved such an amazing response simply based on the writing.

Sure, as a writer, I may be a little biased.  But from the first moment, they’re building toward the ending.  The dialogue between the characters, and the interaction of how each piece fits into the larger puzzle, the specifics on how everything plays out in just the right way to add suspense while also continue to reveal the final story, it’s all just brilliant.

So, while everyone is focusing on those cute little kids being super awesome, or the spectacular turn Wynona Rider takes as crazed mom, or how much it just feels like something you would’ve watched in the 80s, I want to say, none of that would have mattered if it weren’t for the absolutely pitch perfect script which made the whole thing come together.  Even more than that, it made the whole thing worthwhile.  It made you actually care about what was going on in the Upside Down, it made you continue to question what was going on afterward, and it made you want to know more.

When an episode ends and you NEED to watch the next one, even if it’s well after your bedtime, that’s a sign that the writers have done their job exceptionally well.  And if you’ve watched this show, you know that’s the case.

Have fun out there!

Fat Mogul vs. Unhappiness #365HappyThings

I’m just going to go right out and say it:

The last year has been pretty crap.

Now, to be fair, there have been plenty of great things about the past 365 days.  Things like getting my biggest paycheck to date from being an author, my short, but amazing stint as a mailman, countless fantastic moments with me and my family, and, really, there have been a lot of great fantastic things that have happened.

Yet, the bad things won out.  They just seem to overshadow any of the good that may have come about during the last year.

This may seem like complaining, and, you know, maybe it really is, somewhere.  But I promise that’s not the true intent.  The true intent is to state that I plan to make that not the case for the new year.

Oh, I should probably mention, I just got a little bit older this last Saturday, which is how I mark new years.  Who cares about standard year calculations, this is year 35.  No notations after needed.

Anyways, so, since I’ve done such a terrible job of making note of the good things, amid the bad things like animals dying, getting a job offer rescinded because of questionable background check methods, and…you know what, no, I’m not going to list them.  Because that year is done.  New year is here.

And so, because of my need, no, my intention, to make year 35 a far superior year to year 34, I’ve decided to institute #365HappyThings.  And so far, it’s going pretty darn well.   Here’s the list so far:

#1 : Spent my birthday at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.  Played hard with the kiddos and wife and had an all around great time, followed by a dinner of great cheeseburgers at an award-winning cheeseburger joint called The Lions Tap (my kids claim my burgers are still better), and all around felt mighty loved as I got to spend a lot of necessary recreation time with those who are the absolute most important people in my life.

#2:  We introduced two new family members to our household.  Flash and Iris.  Two little kittens we adopted from the Humane Association and who I want to snuggle with constantly…although my allergies seem to debate me on that.  They’re currently getting adjusted to their new home, but last night got mighty playful when the house quieted down, and this morning came out to see what was going on as  the kids got ready…so, soon…prepare yourself nose!

#3….I haven’t decided yet.  You see, the day is young, and I’ve got plenty of things that I’ve already got prepared to tell you that are happy things for the coming year that I can choose from, should nothing else spectacular come about.  So…I’m holding off on this one until later in the day.  Which means next week for you folks, should I remember to update here regularly enough.

So, yeah, year 35 is going to be the best year yet.  I’ve begun writing again (in fact, the first draft of my early reader chapter book is complete and according to my wife, mighty adorable…the daughter wants to start reading it tonight).  I’ve begun some early attempts at marketing my books again.  My house is getting back in order.  There’s some job stuff going on which I’m waiting to reveal officially.  And, well…actually, there’s a ton of stuff I want to announce, btu that would spoil my future HappyThings…so, I’m waiting.

For now…

Have fun out there!

Fat Mogul vs. The Summer

I love summer.  Always have.  Probably always will.  My wife always says fall and spring (with a focus on the spring, I believe) are the best, but I’m a summer man.

I’m sure it comes from the childhood experience of months with no responsibilities, just reaching for the stars and doing what you want.

Which is probably why I find myself questioning how that love of summer still exists.

When you become an adult, unless you have one of those special jobs like a teacher or something, summer isn’t really that different from the rest of the year, except hotter.  And in Wisconsin, A LOT HOTTER.

When you have kids, there’s actually probably more responsibility  (instead of the hoped-for less) placed on you because you want to make sure your kids have that same concept of summer you loved so much, which means getting them out to explore the world, getting them to feel the wind through their hair, and overall just getting them to have a few months where their lives are theirs.

Of course…at the ages of my children, even school is special, so perhaps my focus on that isn’t entirely necessary yet…which is good, because I think overall this summer, I’ve failed in that attempt, mostly.

This summer has been an odd one.  As mentioned recently, change has been in the air heavily in the Oster household.  Change which has been ongoing since early 2015, but seems to be coming to a head at the end of this summer.  There’s a lot of things up in the air, a lot of things we’re working on, and really, just a larger feeling of responsibility than ever before.

Could it be that three kids really does become that point in which the senses are completely overwhelmed?

Regardless, because of this realization that summer has been a mite more scheduled than would be generally expected, the wife and I have been making an effort during these past few weeks to cram in as much summer goodness as possible, if not for any other reason, than to give the kids something to report on their “What I did this summer” projects they’ll inevitably get when school starts up next week.

And I’ve been digging it.  Sure, I’m much more exhausted than I already was, which was pretty darn exhausted.  But getting out and enjoying the world has been a necessary refresher for this family of mine, and I can already see the spirits lift a bit from the rather heavy hot months we’ve been experiencing.

But, you may be asking, what does this have to do with anything you might care about?

Well, you see, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been living under something of a rock for the past 6 months or so.  I’ve been so focused on getting through the days, that I haven’t seen much of the light.  So, in addition to getting the kids to enjoy their summer, I’ve been working on getting myself back on that summer-time horse.

Which, for me, means spending time with family and friends, doing some reading, and, you know, getting some writing done.

That last one has been pretty minimal so far, but I’ve finally developed a schedule which will allow me a greater amount of writing than I’ve been seeing lately (which you might remember from my previous post has been nearly negative levels of words to page).  And I’m pretty excited.

You see, I’ve found that I’ve been in a really long summer.  But, the wrong kind.  My summer, which was intended to be an opportunity to focus on the things I had most interest in, has been a move where I’ve fallen all but completely away from writing…the thing that I have the most interest in (well, you know, outside of the family, of course).

So, I’m calling an end to summer.  Which, considering the actual end of summer is already nigh, isn’t really that much of a declaration.  But I’m getting back to work.  I’ve begun developing a schedule, crafted my daily word count goals, and I’m getting right back to it.

My summer has been too long.  I need to get back to work.  I need to get back to what I do best.  Putting my stupid ideas into words.

Be prepared for new content very soon, peeps.  And if I don’t give it to you, throw something at me the next time you see me.  I’ll know you’re doing it out of love.

School’s in suckas!

(too much?)


Have fun out there!

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