Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

Archive for the ‘ramblings’ Category

This is the latest in a series of posts related to various Kickstarter projects I’ve backed and hope you will too. None of them are my own (currently, I’ve got nothing I think I should be doing a Kickstarter for), but all of these are important to me for one reason or another. Some of them are projects of friends. Some of them are just projects I think are cool. Most of them are both.

 

Dan, Tyler, Cameron, Chris: Hollywood Ending

It’s no secret I’m fond of the HOLLYWOOD ENDING boys. I promote them enough, here and on Facebook and Twitter. It helps that I’ve become friends with some of the parents of the band, and I can see that the band’s current and future success is not just 5 teenage boys pushing themselves, but a real family (or families) effort. So when the guys decided to do a Kickstarter to finance their first EP, I knew I had to contribute and help get the word out.

Unsurprisingly, with their large number of teenage female fans, they hit their modest $5,000 goal within two days of launching the project. Slightly past the halfway point time-wise, they have raised over $7,000. Honestly, I’d like to see them get to $10,000 before their month is up. The more money they have to put towards finishing the EP, promoting it, and touring to support it, the better. The HWE boys are not rich kids out on a lark — they rely heavily on family support to tour, and it would be nice to see them have a bit of bank to utilize.

They’ve already laid money out to film the video for the first single off of the EP. The filming happened over the weekend, surrounding their first headlining show out in California. Some of the extra dollars raised will go towards finishing the video.

You can learn all about the rewards for supporting the Kickstarter (including autographed clothing, lyrics sheets, limited edition memorabilia and physical cds, instruments and more) HERE.

 

You can also hear more about how things are going for the band by Liking their Facebook page, and following @hwoodending @hollywoodCamB @hollywoodTyler @hollywoodDanny and @hollywooodChrisB on Twitter.

 

And check out videos on their Youtube channel.

 

And, because I love it so much, one more time: Cameron, Tyler and Dan (from left to right) covering The Wanted’s “Glad You Came:”

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This is the start of a week of posts related to various Kickstarter projects I’ve backed and hope you will too. None of them are my own (currently, I’ve got nothing I think I should be doing a Kickstarter for), but all of these are important to me for one reason or another. Some of them are projects of friends. Some of them are just projects I think are cool. Most of them are both.

Today, I’m spotlighting Lea Hernandez’ soon-to-conclude project to fund her next graphic novel, THE GARLICKS. Lea is a 25-year veteran of the comics field, has worked for DC and Marvel and has produced five graphic novels before now.

I’m going past tapping 4 people who haven’t pledged (as Lea requests below). I’m reaching out to everyone who reads my Facebook, Twitter and this here little blog. If each of you donated $25, you’d get a really cool set of stuff, and you’d help a single mother of two teenagers have a year’s worth of security to pay the bills and finish a fantastic project. So please consider helping out.

the lovely Lea Hernandez

In Lea’s Own Words, from her latest project update:

 

As THE GARLICKS: Pandora Garlicks, Fail Vampire heads into its final days,  I need your help to make the last big push to get it fully funded, and it CAN BE DONE. (I will also eat a bug*. Really.)

Here’s how:

Everyone who’s pledged, PLEASE tap FOUR people who haven’t backed THE GARLICKS and encourage them to pledge at least $25. (That gets them a signed and sketched in book, a PDF, a sticker, and their name in the book.) That will generate $29,600** in funding, which puts us past goal.

Tell your friends who like Twilight, My Little Pony, want their kids to read more, like vampires, like genre fiction, like manga, parents you know who wonder where the good genre comics for kids are, or people who want to feel good about supporting a single parent entrepreneur.

Please post about THE GARLICKS to Facebook, Twitter, email lists, your blog(s), Tumblr, etc.Tell people THE GARLICKS needs their help to reach its funding goal.

If you’ve got a Big Name pal you can nudge to support THE GARLICKS with a Tweet, Facebook or blog entry, please do. If you’ve got an in at a site like The Mary Sue (who already covered TG, THANK YOU, GALS) or BoingBoing.net, please tell them about THE GARLICKS.

I’ll still be doing my P.T. Barnum thing, too.

Know what else? It’d be COOL to get THE GARLICKS Kickstarter across the finish line in four days. You can say, “I WAS THERE!” You will all be badass Fishbats.

LET’S DO IT! I want to start drawing THE GARLICKS, already!

*I’m not kidding. I will eat a bug. I get to choose the bug, and I will not CHEW the bug, but I will eat one.

**The math: Backers so far: 296. If each of you gets four friends to pledge, we have 1,184 more backers. Get each of them to pledge $25., that’s $29,600.

 

* * * * *

And of course, you can find all the details of Lea’s THE GARLICKS Kickstarter right here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/divalea/the-garlicks-pandora-orange-fail-vampire

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FAMOUS

Posted by admin under ramblings, singers and musicians

Signal-boosting for my friends in HOLLYWOOD ENDING tonight. You know. These guys:

 

Hollywood Ending at Orlando House of Blues

 

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing these guys now for more of their career than I haven’t known them, if that makes sense. I first met them in November, when I interviewed them in their tour van at the end of Action Item’s The Stronger The Love Tour. They’d only been performing together for about four months at that point. That means the band is coming up on their first anniversary and although they didn’t win season four of Disney’s Next Big Thing, good things are happening for them. They toured with All-Star Weekend, and I got to see them twice and get to know Tyler and Dan’s moms and chat with the boys a bit individually, especially Tyler and Dan.

Tyler Wilson of HWE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Geraghty of HWE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The guys have been working on putting their first EP together, and have spent a lot of time in the studio the past few weeks with more time to come.

Their new single “Famous,” which I’ve heard them perform live several time, came out on itunes today as part of a compilation called “Have A Crappy Summer.” The compilation also features Allstar Weekend, Bowling For Soup, and 12 other bands. Give it a listen, and if you like HWE’s song, leave them a comment and tell them Anthony sent you.

You can also find their singles “I’m So Over You” and “You Got Me” on itunes by searching the band’s name, as well as their recent cover of The Wanted’s “Glad You Came,” which I personally happen to like better than the original:

 

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Ye Olde Signal-Booster, Me!

I promise, for those who are missing them, the interviews will be returning. I’ve got a guest post from author Bryan Thomas Schmidt (@BryanThomasS on Twitter) coming up on the 30th, and I’m finalizing interviews with The Brothers Dube, Zach Mills and Mira Grant for the near future.

Tonight, though, it’s all about signal-boosting for friends and their projects/causes. I’m thinking about making this a weekly or bi-weekly thing.

 

First: if you have not yet gone to Youtube and checked out THE GROOVY PROJECT, well … here’s the short version. Students and faculty at the Madison-Oneida County Board of Cooperative Educational Services schools in central New York State wrote and filmed this anti-bullying, pro-acceptance video. Their initial goal was to try to go viral and get one million views in a twenty-four hour period. They hit over 10,000 in 24 hours, and over 13,000 within 32 hours. I’d like to see the momentum not die on this. Check it out below. Click through. Spread the word. It’s never too late to get it to go viral, right?

 

Second: We all know how much a fan of short stories I am. I write them, I read them, I talk about them all the time. There are three genre short story magazines currently engaged in Kickstarter projects. I’ve donated to all three, and I’m hoping my readers who love quality speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) will donate even a couple of bucks. Or if you can’t donate, spread the word.  Here are the links:

NIGHTMARE —  new horror mag edited by John Joseph Adams (he of Lightspeed mag and a dozen excellent anthologies), needs just under $2,000 in pledges with 15 days to go. John is a wonderful editor, and I’d love to see him get this project off the ground to compliment Lightspeed magazine. You can also find him as @johnjosephadams on Twitter.

FIRESIDE — looking to fund their second issue and beyond. I backed the first issue & became the main character of “Temperance,” a story by Christie Yant. If #2 gets funded, my pledge nets me a main role in a story by Damien Walters Grintalis. So please, folks, ensure my streak and help fund this thing. Needs $4500 in pledges with 20 days to go. On Twitter, find @firesidemag and @talkwordy for more info.

CROSSED GENRES – okay, they hit their initial funding goal within the first day (meant to cover book publications over the coming year), but they’ve add a stretch goal that I think is great: reviving the magazine they started out with. So they can still use help getting to that stretch goal and beyond. On Twitter, find @crossedgenres or @metafrantic for more info.

Third: Speaking of writing. My friend Dennis Miller’s book ONE WOMAN’S VENGEANCE is now available in audiobook format! Go listen to it!

Fourth: Speaking of listening: my good friends The Dalliance are about ready to release their new album, BIRTH LOVE DEATH. It’ll be out everywhere on May 29th, but you can get copies before everyone else if you can make it to the Album Release Party on May 27th at The Room, 3 Production Drive in Brookfield, CT 06804. Full show info can be found on the event’s Facebook page.  And if you can’t make the May 27th show, there’s another release party on June 9th in Elmsford NY. The second event also has a Facebook Page! Tell them Anthony sent you, and I’ll see you at BOTH events!  Also, if you don’t know who The Dalliance is, well, they conveniently have a website! And their on Twitter as @thedalliance.

Fifth: Speaking of Touring, my buddies in Burnham are on the road again over the next few weeks. I’ll be seeing then on June 8th at The Raidant in Nutley, NJ, but there are three other gigs in the tri-state area in June. Twitter? @burnham

Sixth: Speaking of June, please don’t forget that although I won’t be physically at the Mahopac NY Relay For Life on June 2nd, it’s still a cause worth donating to. Here’s my personal donation page. And here’s an explanation of why I won’t be there this year after a run of 5 years straight.

Seventh: Speaking of fundraising, please remember that throughout the summer, The Shoe Crew is collecting new shoes to donate to the charity Shoes That Fit. They have a number of events around Southern California over the next few months, and if you can’t be there, they have ways for you to make a monetary donation. Check out their Facebook page for more info. Twitter? @ShoeCrew2012

And Eighth: We started this post with a musical message about acceptance, let’s end it the same way. My young Australian friend Frank Dixon (@frankdixon12 on Twitter) has written an inspirational and empowering new song, “Better Than That.”  Here’s the video:

 

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I spend a lot of time on this blog promoting other people’s fundraising efforts – for charities, for project funding, for causes of all stripes. Today, I’d like to talk about my own cause: The American Cancer Society Relay For Life.

 

Relay 2010, Survivor Lap

My Livejournal, September 7th, 2005, at 12:58 am:

I was diagnosed today with colon cancer. It is a small mass, localized (CT scans show no spread to the chest or the rest of the abdomen) and it is OPERABLE. (I typoed that in an email, so I need to get it right here!) I will be consulting with a surgeon on Thursday to see what form of surgery is best suited. My spirits are high and I am not worried. I am thankful that I let the camp nurse this summer convince me that my frequent exhaustion deserved a doctor’s attention … that one visit led to catching the anemia and now the early catch on this cancer.

I have been blessed with several strong role models these past few years in terms of dealing with cancer. I could cry and rail on about “why me, the family’s been through so much already,” but the truth is acting that way would go against the memory of my Mother and Denise Barnoski, who both kept their spirits up until the last minute. It would also go against the example shown me by Karen Lichtman (kij66), who has been fighting breast cancer.

 

Until I went trolling back through all the cancer posts on my livejournal in preparation for writing today’s post for my website, I’d honestly forgotten just how much calm I projected in the face of that news. I recall the doctor calling me and saying “It is what we thought it was, let’s schedule an appointment with a surgeon,” and then getting off the phone with my friend Karen Puccio, sharing the news with her, and saying “But I don’t think I ever actually knew what he thought it was.” Which led to another clarifying phone call, and confirmation that he’d discussed it with me after the colonoscopy, but I was still so under the influence of the anesthesia that I didn’t remember the conversation at all. When the realization really hit, I wasn’t anywhere near as calm or composed as that journal entry made out.

In Memory of my mother, Rosemary Cardno

Almost seven years later, and so much has changed. My mother had died in February of 2005; my father followed her in 2007. Karen Jenkins (Lichtman) lost her fight with cancer about a year later. Other family members have fought, survived, succumbed. I’ve become friends with Jay Lake, who is still fighting the same cancer I had. My own cancer has, thankfully, not returned, but I feel cancer’s effects daily.

Every year but one since the summer of 2006, I’ve taken part in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life  at Mahopac High School. It’s a grand event, even when the weather wreaks havoc with the proceedings. The year that I missed the event due to work travel, the team I’m a part of was still there, and I did my walking in a state park somewhere in the Midwest, on my own.

cousin Crissy Hajkowski

This year, my team will not be at the Mahopac Relay. Our beloved and usually tireless team captains, my cousins Chrissy and Jimmy, have had a rough year and are just not up to the massive amount of prep work it takes to put our team on the site. No one else in the team has been able to step up and do what Chrissy and Jimmy do (the willingness is there, but the time is not). The same day I found out our team won’t have a spot at Relay I also found out about an 85th birthday celebration for a woman who has been like a grandmother to me for the past almost 20 years, and I’ve decided that everything happens for a reason – I am meant to be at Rosemary Pittman’s birthday party this year (no coincidence, I think, that she shares a first name with my mother. I think if they’d met, they’d have liked each other quite a lot.).  And so I was hesitant to ask people to donate money to an event I’m not actually going to be at.

But several trusted friends, when I asked, pointed out that the money is about the Cause, not the Event. Cancer doesn’t rest throughout the year. Cancer doesn’t care if we’re in Mahopac on June 2nd. So why should I rest, or care? While I’ll miss being a part of the Community that day, I will still do my best to support that community’s cause, which is so much my own. And just as RFL does, I’ll be celebrating life and birthdays, just in a different part of the state.

cousin Jimmy Hajkowski

So here’s my plea, the same as it is every year: Please donate to my page. Whatever you can muster in these tight times: $1. $5. Every little bit helps fund someone’s cancer care, or some lab’s cancer research. Every dollar works towards helping someone celebrate a birthday they might not otherwise see.  As one of those people who is grateful for every birthday he gets to experience, I thank you in advance for your help. And in the words of my young friend Sam Lant – if you can’t afford a monetary contribution right now, please consider tweeting, posting, emailing, and sharing the link to my page. Maybe a friend of yours that I don’t know is in a position to help.

And hey, if you’re in or near Mahopac NY on June 2nd – go check out the event. Spend some money at the team tents. Get your face painted, buy some jewelry or a book, purchase a Luminaria in honor of a loved one who has battled cancer. Watch the fabulous Mahopac High School rock band ILLUSION perform. Be a part of a great day, and know that I am there in spirit, and am doing my Walking elsewhere in solidarity.

 

Thanks for reading this post, thanks for sharing it, and most of all, thanks for being not only my audience, but my friends. Life is fuller for knowing all of you.

childhood friends Ruth & Peggy, tireless supporters of RFL

 

Here’s the link to my page: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?px=4976893&pg=personal&fr_id=36614

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Space Battles Interview

Posted by admin under ramblings

 

 

Full Throttle Space Tales Vol. 6: SPACE BATTLES

In the rush to post all of my anniversary week interviews, I completely forgot to link to an interview done with me in support of the SPACE BATTLES anthology my story “A Battle for Parantwer” appears in. Here’s the link to the interview, in which I talk about the genesis of the story and how I came to be involved in the anthology:

http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2012/04/28/space-battles-author-profile-meet-author-anthony-r-cardno/

There’s also an excerpt from my story, to whet your appetite.

Check out the other SPACE BATTLE author interviews and story excerpts while you’re there!

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I usually talk about other people (or let them talk about themselves, with me asking questions). But today, it’s all about … ME!

A few months back, I had a short story, “A Battle for Parantwer,” accepted by editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt for inclusion in an upcoming anthology. Today, we got word we could share the cover art and publication info with people. So, here it is:

Full Throttle Space Tales #6: SPACE BATTLES

 

Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6

Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Flying Pen Press, 264 pp., tbp, $16.95, April 18, 2012

 

Red Alert! Red Alert!

This is not a drill…

Anna Paradox’s “Between The Rocks”: The Courtly Vizier, a utility truck, renders aid to a colony ship but when they return to their asteroid home from supply runs to mines on Old Lumpy from Jupiter’s atmosphere, the colony ship they once helped attacks them. But the situation is not what it seems, and strange circumstances are at hand.

David Lee Summers’ “Jump Point Blockade”: While pirating a mine on an asteroid, Captain Ellison Firebrandt and the crew of the Legacy find themselves forced into battle by Captain Stewart of the New New Jersey, serving as shields against the Alpha Comas at a jump point to Rd’dyggia. But instead of obeying Captain Steward, Firebrandt has plans of his own.

Jean Johnson’s “Joystick War”: Scavenging a storage bunker for salvage, Scott Grayson and Rrenn F’sauu stumble onto mint condition Targeting Drone A.I.’s, joystick controlled combat suits and can’t resist taking them for a test run. Then an old enemy, the Salik turn up, and instead of joy rides, they’re fighting for their lives and their people…

Mike Resnick & Brad Torgersen’s “Guard Dog”: Watchfleet sentinel Chang leads a lonely life of extended, dream-filled sleeps in between frenetic, life-or-death battles. The Sortu had almost defeated humanity and the lives of everyone, including his wife and son, depend on men like him. Then, called to battle again, he finds himself up against the last opponent he’d ever expected…

These and more stories await inside…

All personnel,

report to battle stations!

CONTENTS:

Introduction – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Between the Rocks – Anna Paradox

The Thirteens – Gene Mederos

Like So Much Refuse – Simon C. Larter

Jump Point Blockade – David Lee Summers

First Contact – Patrick Hester

Isis – Dana Bell

The Book of Enoch – Matthew Cook

The Joystick War – Jean Johnson

Never Look Back – Grace Bridges

The Gammi Experiment – Sarah Hendrix

Space Battle of the Bands – C.J. Henderson

A Battle for Parantwer – Anthony R. Cardno

With All Due Respect – Johne Cook

Final Defense – Selene O’Rourke

Bait and Switch – Jaleta Clegg

The Hand of God (A Davi Rhii Story) – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Guard Dog – Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen

 

Yes SF fans. You see that right. I’m in an anthology alongside Mike Frakkin’ Resnick. What a way to debut.

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Come, Sail Away (don't you love the 80s clothing and body-wave hair?)

A little less than 30 years ago, for one spectacular weekend, I was a rock-star. I’ve talked about this before: I was a vocalist for the 1984 cast of the Mahopac High School rock ensemble ILLUSION. Mostly I sang back-vocals (and, admittedly, not always well) and I wasn’t the smoothest dancer in the group. In the first half of the show, I dueted on the Everly Brothers’ “Dream Dream Dream” with Michelle Perlman, and on Chicago’s “Color My World” with Deb Schwartz (I’m sure if video were available, we’d see how awkward that was for a young man not yet able to admit to himself, let alone anyone else, that he was gay). I had my big lead vocal on the big closing number, the most theatrical of a show full of theatrical rock numbers (a Michael Jackson medley, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Carry On My Wayward Son”): STYX’s “Come Sail Away.” For everyone one of our three performances, people screamed my name and I scissor-kicked my way off the stage and into the audience to shake hands and high-five.  It’s an experience that still sticks with me.  Last year, I attended the 30th anniversary show and caught up with a lot of the folks I shared the stage with or who were in the group in the years right before and right after mine.

So imagine my surprise when, due to the “small world” nature of Twitter, I came in contact with a girl named Amanda, who happens to be a “street team” captain for a band we both love (and who we discuss down below) and who also happens to not only be from Mahopac, but is a vocalist in this year’s 31st ILLUSION cast! Of course, I couldn’t resist interviewing her about our musical connections:

ANTHONY: Hi, Amanda! Thanks for taking the time out of rehearsals for Illusion to answer a few questions!

AMANDA: Thank you for taking time to interview me!

ANTHONY: You’re a vocalist for the 31st year of Illusion (and, just to keep things in perspective, I was a vocalist in the 4th year). Was this your first year auditioning for a spot?

AMANDA: This was my first year auditioning for a spot. I was very nervous because I haven’t sung in 6 years on stage but I’m very glad I did.

ANTHONY: How many vocalists are there this year, and how many songs are you each singing?

AMANDA: There are 11 vocalists this year. Each vocalist sings a range of 2-4 songs plus backups. There are a total of 35 songs this year.

ANTHONY: Which songs are you singing lead vocal on, and why did you choose those songs?

AMANDA: I’m singing Lead Vocals on What Doesn’t Kill You by Kelly Clarkson and Gives You Hell by All American Rejects. I chose What Doesn’t Kill You because Kelly Clarkson is one of my role models. I love her and her voice and wanted to do something by her. I chose Gives You Hell for three reasons. First, it was a really good fit for my voice. Second, I kind of picked it as a message to anyone who has bullied me in the past because look where I am now. And Lastly, I knew it was going to be a crowd pleaser and a fun song to jump around onstage to.

ANTHONY: What do you think it is about Illusion that has enabled the group to last for three decades and survive so many changes in what’s hot and popular in music?

AMANDA: I think that the song selection has a lot to do with that. There’s times were it doesn’t matter how old or recent a song is, as long as you rock out to it, the crowd will love it! It also introduces high schoolers to new music that they maybe haven’t listened to before.

Amanda with Hollywood Ending's Tyler Wilson

ANTHONY:  Okay, you know I have to ask this one: did you try to get your director, Mr. Przymylski, to let you sing a Hollywood Ending song? If not, why not??

AMANDA: I actually didn’t. Their songs are a little on the lower range for me but who knows, maybe next year I’ll try out One Wish. Or a new Hollywood Ending song!

ANTHONY: Speaking of our mutual friends: What would you say to folks who think Tyler, Dan, Cameron, Mike and Chris are “just another teen band” to convince them to give Hollywood Ending a listen?

AMANDA: I think that everybody should give Hollywood Ending and listen to their music. Their music is really upbeat. They have those types of songs that you can blast in your room and just dance and sing like crazy. Each and every one of them is incredibly talented. Another thing about them is the love they show for their fans. They always take time to meet every single fan no matter where they are. They are the sweetest people I have ever met in my life. It’s really something special when you see musicians who truly care about their fans and take time to hang out with them at concerts. That’s why people should give them a chance.

ANTHONY: And my usual final question: what is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them that they should?

AMANDA: I’d have to say my favorite book is The Last Song. I’m not a big reader at all but I picked this book up before the movie came out and I was not able to put it down. Nicholas Sparks is a fantastic author and the book is so detailed that I could picture the whole book in my head. It goes into much greater detail than the movie does and the book has a lot of important parts that the movie did not. This was also the first book ever to bring me to tears. It’s a great book and I really recommend it.

ANTHONY: Thanks, Amanda!

Folks, you can follow Amanda on Twitter as @hollywoodmandy and as half of @hwoodending_st, one of the official street teams for Hollywood Ending.  And, as you can see from the poster below, you’ve got one more shot to catch this year’s ILLUSION concert if you’re anywhere near Putnam County, NY: tonight, March 17th, at 7:00 pm at Mahopac High School. Go check them out! It’s a great show every year, and this year must be at least as good as 1984. *haha*

It's all about the music, even after the Zombie Apocalypse

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Valentine’s Day Scrooge

Posted by admin under ramblings

Reposting, as is my tradition. It always makes me laugh.

I am the self-proclaimed Scrooge of Valentine’s Day, and in that spirit I imagine the following someday happening:

Anthonius Scrooge is hard at work in his office when his nephew enters with a large cardboard heart filled with chocolates.

Nephew: Happy Valentine’s Day, Uncle!
Scrooge: Bah! Humbug!
Nephew: Valentine’s Day a humbug, Uncle? Surely you don’t mean that.
Scrooge: I do mean it. It’s a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 14th of February .. chocolates, hearts, cards, gifts.  I’ll say it again: Bah!  Humbug!!
Nephew: Well I don’t think it’s a humbug at all.  I think it’s a day when human caring is at its strongest, and we show our love for our family and friends.
Scrooge: Then keep the day in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.
Nephew: But Uncle, you DON’T keep it at all!
Scrooge: Then let me leave it alone! Good afternoon.
Nephew: Happy Valentine’s Day!
Scrooge: Good afternoon!

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Wow, that title sounds fancy, doesn’t it?

With Jennifer Holliday, a 2011 highlight

It’s December 31. I am hanging out, as I do every New Years Eve, with my college friends/adopted siblings. Jon & Cindi (and their son Xavier) are hosting, as always. Scott & Margaret are here with son and daughter Jared and Morgyn. Peggy is here with her son Max. Plus there are two dogs, a cat, a rabbit. Assorted local family and friends will drop in, too. It’s always a dual celebration, as Jon’s birthday is January 1.

Typically, this is not the ideal setting for long rambling thoughts about the past year. But we’re having a lull at the moment. Three of the four kids are reading quietly. So are half of the adults. So now seems to be the time.

I’ll admit it’s been a rough year. Car problems, financial problems, lots and lots of work travel bouncing me all over the country (especially these last few months). I’ve been a real cranky-pants at times, so the first order of business is thanking everyone who has put up with that crankiness, and everyone who helped me deal with what at times felt like insurmountable problems. They are too numerous to list here: if you are among them, you know who you are and I thank you.

On the writing side of things, the year was a mixed bag. I didn’t manage to complete either AMBERGRIN HALL or CHRISTMAS GHOSTS, my long-simmering novel and novella. Both are so close to completion it almost hurts, and I’ve made progress on untangling the plot knots of the first and filling in the hole in the plot of the second, but still … didn’t finish them. That is a goal for 2012. On the positive side, I sold my first genre short story, a science fiction tale for the SPACE BATTLES anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and due out mid-2012. That felt terrific. Also, it seems like this year’s sales of THE FIRFLAKE were better than last year’s. This is an guess on my part, but it feels like I had more emails and tweets telling me “I’m buying your book” this year than I did last. It might have helped that I joined Goodreads in an effort to help advertise the book, and that I spent more time posting on the book’s Facebook page.

Reading-wise, having joined Goodreads has helped me keep even better track of what I read and what I thought (although I’m still behind on writing reviews of some of what I read, and likely won’t get those done before tonight’s festivities start). I’ll wait until later this week to post my “Favorites of 2011” final list. Between office and on-line bookclubs, and writing book reviews for ICARUS and CHELSEA STATION magazines, I’ve also read a lot of authors I’d never read before as well as revisiting old favorites.

Probably the biggest accomplishment of 2011 has been the increased use of this website. I added a second short story (“Canopus,” joining “Invisible Me”), and I made the decision to start blogging regularly. When I made that decision, I had no idea I would end up developing an almost-weekly Interview feature. It’s all Anthony Garguila‘s fault. Although his didn’t end up being the first interview I ran (that honor went to author Evelyn Lafont), it was meeting him at a high school band reunion he attended with his mother that instigated the whole “interviewing creative people” thing. I’ve had the honor of interviewing up-and-coming authors like Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Linda Poitevin, Chad Helder and Christie Yant; genre pros like Jay Lake and Jeremy C. Shipp; friends Dennis Miller and Joseph Pittman; and career authors like Lawrence Block. I’ve interviewed artists (Lynn Bennett-MacKenzie), editors (Ellen Datlow), webcomics creators (Namesake, School Spirit, Cura Te Ipsum, Multiplex), actors (Brandon Tyler Russell) and musicians ranging from indy artists like Casey Stratton and Matt Lande to teen pop-rockers Burnham and Hollywood Ending. I’ve learned a lot about interviewing, and I’ve learned a lot about the creative process as it manifests in different fields.

2012 looks to get off to a good start for interviews as well. Carolyn Gray (author of A Red-Tainted Silence and Long Way Home) and actors Austin MacDonald and Sarah Desjardins and Brad and Todd Mann are all due up in January. Author Kaaron Warren, editor John Joseph Adams and singer Jennifer Holliday will be along in February.

What I’m loving about the interviews is that they’re fun. This isn’t my day job, it’s a hobby I’m enjoying quite a bit. One of the things that has helped me interview so many interesting people has been Twitter. I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made through that site, including but not limited to the folks named in the preceding few paragraphs, as well as Marianne Burnham, Helen MacDonald, Desiree Russell, Leigh Geraghty, Nina Diamond, Tomatito Adams, Sabrina Vourvoulias and too many others to name them all.

Bringing things full circle: despite the rough patches of the year, my health has been largely good and the travel has enabled me to spend far more time with the friends and family scattered around the country than I would have otherwise. As always, I end the year thankful for my health and for the love that continues to lift me up. Whether you’re a friend for decades or someone I’ve just gotten to know thanks to social media: thank you.

Here’s to a 2012 that is full of love, fun, health, peace and prosperity for all of us. Catch you next year!

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