Friday, May 30, 2014


As I proofread the final version, the second edition of Out in the Garage, listening to Badfinger's Straight Up, I read the words I have written, and I know, I know--it is like I have reached a new stage of enlightenment.  I feel the waves pulsating through my system, my skin tingles, and I inhale, and feel buoyant, closing my eyes and feeling the sunshine on my face, like I am floating on a pool, and the sky above is as blue as the water below.  Taking it apart, thinking about the best way to fit the pieces together, taking out the pieces that make grotesque the picture, beautiful, and I feel I have captured what has eluded me for so long.  I have no regrets.  I have come this far, and I will see it through to completion, and I know, I know, I am on the right path.  Maybe it's the season, the weather, that I am reaching multiple climaxes at the same moment--the end of school, the end of this book--but I feel so damn fantastic right now.  Life is a struggle, a painful battle through darkness and chaos, but, every once and while, sometimes when you are with loved ones, sometimes in a crowd of complete strangers, sometimes at home, alone, on a Friday afternoon, listening to good music, that everything seems purposeful, proper, exact, and your struggles seem worthwhile.  While it might be a momentary reprieve from the chaos, but it is in these moments, these bubbles of enlightenment, that make life worthwhile--even if the feeling is only fleeting.  Life is fleeting, and if you can somehow manage to string together enough of these moments, in hindsight, everything won't seem so bad.  Everything won't seem so unnecessarily difficult, and life will have some sort of meaning, whether it actually does or not.  In these sorts of moments, capture that feeling, and try to not let it slip away from you--even though it inevitably will.  Never forget it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


BOOKS page updated: Out in the Garage description and word count.


I have had to make a few more changes to the Out in the Garage [2nd Edition] manuscript to make it all fit together properly, so the sample that I put on Goodreads is no longer accurate.  For this reason, I have deleted the sample, and I will upload a new one before I publish the book.  I just want to make sure that the sample is accurate to the final version that gets published.

Sometimes, in order for a story to work, it has to be out of order in exactly the right way.  Anyways, that is all, for now.  Have a safe and happy holiday weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Epic Job Hunt of 2014

Things are going well.  The weather has been nice (for a few days anyways), and I am getting stuff done.  I am spending my days job searching, doing my homework, and finishing Out in the Garage, once and for all.  While I have a job for the fall, it is as a Part-Time Faculty Instructor at Akron, and, while I have grown to like the challenge of teaching and it would be nice to experience and focus on it more fully, it doesn't pay very well, so I am searching for a full-time gig that will actually pay the bills and hopefully leave me some extra.  I could get a second part-time teaching gig somewhere, and that would help pay the bills, but it is certainly not enough to live on for very long (especially with student loan payments).

I have long since grown tired and frustrated with being poor and having to stretch my finances further than they really reach (as I have taken out loans to get through grad school).  It's too bad, because I do think, as I continue getting experience teaching composition, I am getting better at it, and it can be fun (with the right group of students, anyways).  

It wouldn't be a bad way to make a living, you just can't make a living doing it (unless you want to spend another 5-6 years in school and get a Ph.D., which is still no guarantee for a full-time position).  I guess, if it comes down to it, if I wanted to teach but not spend another five years in school, I could get an MFA or a Masters in Education.  If it came down to that, I would probably go the MFA route, since it would be the best synthesis between my hobbies, my dream goals and real life, and I could get a tenured position at a university (if I am successful enough in publishing).  On the other hand, if I went the education route, I could teach high school, and since I would have two master's degrees, I could probably get into a pretty good school district.  That would be challenging, though, and I am firmly against standardized testing, so I don't know if I could do it and keep my sanity (which is already probably in question by some, including myself, but I guess, if I am aware of it, that means that I am not crazy, right?).

I think I would rather get a writing/editing job, quite frankly in any kind of industry, although preferably for a news/entertainment website or for a marketing, PR or advertising firm.  The problem with this route is there are not many entry level positions in this field (which doesn't entirely make sense), and, although I do have writing experience, it is never exactly the right kind (even though I had to be a pretty decent writer to get into grad school [I did score in the 93rd percentile in writing on the GRE] and especially to get the graduate assistantship) and I did work for one of the better college newspapers in the Midwest as a reporter--so it's not like I have no experience and I am not qualified.

Along these same lines, I think I would also be good as a social media manager or a Search Engine Marketing Specialist, which is part of the point of this blog, the social media I update, and my experimentation in publishing--because I can see myself working as a professional in this industry, and I believe I would be good at it and an asset to any company.  I do come from a blue-collar sort of work ethic, and I am always trying to be the best at what I do (which can sometimes be a character flaw if I don't keep it in check some, which I am learning to do as I grow older).

What I need to do is spend more time deep searching for a job, finding companies along the lines I am seeking, continuously updating my resume and cover letter and making them fit for whatever qualifications (i.e. highlighting how I am qualified for the position), and applying for jobs on the companies' websites (which I have done some, but I need to do more thoroughly).  The job boards are mostly filled with trash, and what is not trash is usually some kind of sales job, which is not a bad career, but it is not what I see myself doing.  Maybe I am being too picky, but I feel like, to a certain extent, I need to hold myself to higher standards, otherwise I will just settle for whatever comes along--and, while it might be better for the current moment, it will only carry me further away from my goals, and I don't think I would be any happier, since for me, the key to happiness isn't money (it's in living the kind of life that I wish and sharing my life with the people who I care about and admire).

If I can't find a full-time writing/editing job, or something along those lines with the sort of company in the sort of industry where I am wanting to get my foot in the door, then maybe I should teach part-time at a couple of universities and start freelance writing and trying to get some of the papers, stories, etc. I have already written published.  I don't know.  If that is what happens, I will try to make the best of it and keep moving forward and keep working towards the next opportunity.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Preview of Out in the Garage [second edition] Updated

As I was going through (step 1 of previous post), I made a few small edits to the text, so I figured I would update the preview.

Click here to check out the preview (note: I think you need to be a member of Goodreads in order to read the excerpt.  It's free, and if you read a lot, you might like it)

Self-Administered Pep Talks Do Work

Here is the my "production" schedule for Out in the Garage between now and July 4:

This Week:
  1. Do some light editing/proofreading of the manuscript and make sure I am happy with it
  2. Update downloadable sample to reflect any changes
  3. Finish uploading files to Create Space and order a proof
  1. Proofread it for typos when I get it
  2. Update the manuscript with any (minimal) changes that I have to make
  3. Upload the updated manuscript (If there aren't many typos, there will be no need for another proof; if there are a lot of typos, I will order another proof and go through it again, just to be safe, and go through the final proofreading process again.)
  4. Format the eBook version
  5. Upload eBook version to Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing, etc.
  6. Release for Sale, July 4, 2014
In other news, in my Digital Humanities class, I am doing my paper on digital publishing.  I need to do some research and hone the topic down into something that I can write about in 16-20 pages, but, obviously, it is something that really piques my interest, and hopefully I can apply what I learn to this "project" (i.e. this obsession, compulsion, delusion, hobby, dream).

Anyways, I thought some of you might be curious/interested to see my game plan to get this novel finished and out to the public, finally.  Well, finally, again.  But this is finally, finally (finally!).  No matter what happens, I am going to move on, and apply what I learn to the next project.  I will say that this version is, in my opinion, anyway, by far the best I have ever done, and I feel like I can be happy with all of my choices, no matter what.  I know I keep saying it, but I can't emphasize it enough.  This is it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Forward Motion

Tonight I am starting my second to last class that I need for my master's degree, and I must say that I am looking forward to it.  While it is going to be a rush--a three credit hour class condensed into three weeks--it is with one of my favorite professors at Akron.  She is intelligent and a difficult grader; her classes are fun and the information and the ideas are relevant.  The class is in Digital Humanities, which is a growing field, and I am sure the people who are studying it are just scratching the surface at the nearly endless ways that technology can shape the way we digest and communicate information.  

I am hoping the class will help me in my own pursuits as I am attempting to make my own digital footprint.  If not, it is certainly a topic that interests me, which will help me get through it.  It was the only 600-level course offered over the summer, so if I wanted to graduate in August, I had no choice but to take it.  Thankfully, if the department is only going to offer one 600-level class, it is one that will be fun and interesting.

All mixed in with my finishing up school and my publishing pursuits is my search for a job.  I am honing my resume and hoping that I can get the type of job that I want--a writing/editing job in advertising, PR, or marketing--and not have to settle for whatever is available.  I feel my skill set and my experience, although not exactly that, makes me a good fit for such a position--I am hoping--as long as I can find something entry level.  While it sucks to have to start out at the bottom, I feel that I learn quickly and can quickly grow into a valuable employee.  In my experience, while writing as a skill is teachable, it is not something that is easily taught to everyone and I have a knack for it and have always excelled at it, as my schooling will at least show.

I don't think it's too much to ask for a position in the field I have studied, even though, I know, it probably is asking too much, given the current state of the job market and politics.  Maybe I am just disenfranchised, but I do know people at my education level and above who have had an extremely difficult time finding work in their fields--even though they did well in school, had good internships, and are generally smart and capable.  I would like to think it is a person's intrinsic skill set and those unteachable qualities, the drive and motivation to succeed at a task, that help one get a job--unfortunately, I know better.  While we are in the 21st century and things have come along way, there are still segments--small, albeit powerful segments--of society that legally discriminate against everyone else, because they can.

Maybe things aren't all that bad, I don't know.  Maybe I am angry and disenfranchised from having spent my entire adult life working hard and barely getting further than where I started.  Maybe it is my fault, but maybe not.  While the United States doesn't technically have a caste system, it seems more like upward mobility is a pipe dream, and the only hope you have is to get swallowed up by the current and pumped out into some forgotten part of the ocean where you get eaten by some giant mutant man-eating carp.

Things are definitely different now than when my parent's generation was coming up, and many of those differences are for the better.  However, there are still many that aren't.  And as much education as you can get, while it might make you a well-rounded person, it won't necessarily help you be the productive member of society that you are striving to be because you can only be the type of productive member of society that somebody who doesn't even know you decides that you are going to be because you aren't in their "class" or whatever.  This is different.  

Maybe people, myself included, are delusional--although I have done well academically, and I have always been in the highest percentiles on writing tests--but maybe the system is set up against people to move forward, because it doesn't benefit the people who are at the top, since all they want is more money and more power for themselves, and they have made caring about the community and society as a whole into a bad thing, and people who do are made into outcasts and weirdos.

I guess I will stick with the idea that I am delusional--because, after all, if no one else buys my narrative about myself, then who I am trying to fool?  Then again, if I buy it, and I have some level of credibility, isn't that the first step?  Isn't that...*gasps* confidence?

I guess that's why I try to immerse myself in the delusions that make me the happiest and not worrying about everything else--even though that is impossible.  Maybe it's like meditating.  Just pushing all of the bullshit out that doesn't matter, and just focusing on being... Maybe I should try meditating.  Maybe if I push out all my anxieties and the giant fucking disappointing material world, even for just a little while, it won't all seem so impossible, and I will be able to swim with the current, and go where life takes me, and make the best of it.  Maybe that's all one can really do in life.

I don't know, but, there is one thing that I am sure of right now, that this is not where I thought this was going to go when I first started writing this post.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Out in the Garage [Second Edition] Preview Available via Goodreads

Follow this link for a preview of the upcoming July 4th release of the second edition of Out in the Garage


To more fully differentiate between the versions of Out in the Garage, I have designed (with the help of my wife) a new cover:

I am very excited about everything that is happening and the direction I am headed, and this will be the last time I work on it before I publish it and move on to other project(s).  I know that I have put my all into this project and, while taking advice but also trusting my instinct, I can't be happier with how it has turned out.  Like I have been saying all along, I have been experimenting with a lot of ideas to try to figure out this whole publishing business.  I finally feel like I am getting a good grasp on it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


BOOKS page updated.


Taking into account all advice that I have received so far, and based, more importantly, on my own intuition, I think I have come to the best compromise to getting a publishable piece.  It involves taking a few key scenes from Side: B of Outside the Garage and strategically placing them in Side: A, to give it a frame narrative.  I guess, since, when I first started, in addition to The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye, I was also quite heavily influenced by Kurt Vonnegut and Chuck Palahniuk, so, it makes sense, then, that it would turn out this way.

Last week, when I was bored, I experimented with the manuscript and made a third person, present tense version.

This gave me a basic to work from, since I was already working on it, and felt good about it, but felt like something was missing.  Coincidentally, around this same time, my friend gave me her feedback from reading a version, and it meshed up with other advice I have received, and that made me decide to take steps to get it to where it needs to be in order to be publishable--even if it means rewriting it.  So I read some YA Lit books and started taking notes, and did some writing activities to get my mind refreshed.  Then, I took everything so far into consideration and thought about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, and I decided that, if a non-linear plot is what it takes to get it to that point, then so be it.

Then I went back to books I had been reading and studying over the course of this past semester, and it occurred how I already had a frame, and I could easily make it more cohesive from beginning to end.  So I take the moment where Evie/Edie is shot, which is a climatic moment about 2/3 of the way through the third person, present tense version, and made it the opening scene, thus giving myself a firm external piece of framework for the beginning, and then I sparsely interspersed into Side: A scenes of him coming back into cognizance, dreams that he was having during that time frame, and him having a mental breakdown, so that there is a sort of natural progression between the internal story and the external frame.

This all gives it a natural sort of progression from the beginning to the end, which was always there, but it was as evident without the external framework.  This also makes some of the more outlandish narrative stuff I have put in there make sense within the context of the story since it all makes sense as a part of his mental state.

Then there is a moment, about 3/4 of the way through, where he comes back into full cognizance, and the last bit of it is kind of like the coda.

That's why I made the design make it look like it is two halves of a rock opera, with liner notes and stuff in the beginning to complete the effect.  As I believe it has a sort of musical quality to it, I feel like it is fitting and natural, for me, to do something like that, since I was, of course, the one making rock operas through my twenties--I don't know that they were any good since I am not a very good singer--but I enjoyed making them, and so this is kind of a tribute to that, when I was also beginning to start writing fiction.

While I wouldn't say that I am successful (I am not that delusional), I have been doing it long enough that I either need to put the pieces together and really try and make it work, while I find a job to pay the bills, and continue reaching for my dreams, or just fully devoting myself to a career, and giving it all up.

I am not willing to do that, though.  It is a dream, but it is also a hobby, and that's what they are for, right?  Ways for us to pursue our childhood fantasies?  I can do both, and just do it.  The best material comes from life, and I have a lot of great ideas for future projects, that have come out of living.  If I have to work somewhere else while I am doing it, that is okay.  I keep telling myself that, anyways.

If there is one thing I have learned, as a writer, it's that you have to keep attempting to grow, experimenting and seeing what happens.  At least my writing will be honest.  That's all I can hope for anyways.  That is my dream.


Keywords added to About page.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Following Hope

Now that I truly have free time, no classwork, no papers, no lesson planning, no grading, if I truly want to be a writer, and make a living doing it--because, let's be honest, isn't that the goal--then I should probably take the advice that my friend, who works in the industry, gave me--especially since her opinion has been reinforced.  What's more significant is not that I have work to do to get it to a place where it is publishable, it is the fact that I do have something to work with, that is potentially publishable.  

I just need to overcome my stubbornness and get over myself and do what I need to do in order to get it to the place where it needs to be.  While it might take more of an overhaul than I have previously been willing to give it, if there are bigger possibilities on the other side of that then it is worth it to try. There is nothing definite, and it might not, in the end, work, but it has more a possibility of leading towards success than any other avenue that I can pursue right now as a writer.

At least I am nearly finished with grad school, where I will have the actual time to pursue it--even if I have to get a full time job.  I would rather work 40 hours a week some place and be able to come home and do whatever I want with my time than continue being a student where I have no free time.  I have my own studying to do, my own work to do, my own goals to pursue.  I find that it is easier working full time being a part time writer than going to school full time and being a part time writer.

That means I have to find a job.  That is the tricky part, actually.  On one hand, I will have a master's degree, on the other, I am in Ohio.  It could be worse, I suppose.  Ten years ago, I worked, and struggled, and had no degree, and no hope for the future, and now, my life is completely different.  That's something at least.  While I might not be as successful as I would like to be right now, the fact that I have progressed gives me hope.

One difference between successful people and unsuccessful people, besides luck, and connections, is persistence.  If I have an avenue towards success, even though it will take hard work, it is the way I must go.  I can either be stubborn and accept obscurity or I can follow that little glimmer of hope and see where it takes me.  Time to stop being stubborn and self-righteous.