Stranger on a Train XXIV

A day of surprises.

Started a brief gig today without knowing a lot of the details. This is why I’m on the last train out of DC and into Virginia. On the train at 6:15 this morning to clock in. Heading home, I’ll get off this train at 8.

That is what you call a long day.

How was the first day? Truth be told, I don’t know. I’ve become a lousy judge of progress in the workplace considering my last few gigs. As far as I know, I did well. This commute is a mess though. I’ve been looking for jobs in DC, sure, but this felt a little outrageous. 90 minutes one way?

It’s only for three weeks. I’ll manage.

I think, in the social media/digital team, I’m the oldest. I am fascinated by the willingness of these interactive marketers to work well into the night. Clock in at 9, take your lunch at the desk, leave whenever. Seven. Eight. It’s all good.

Maybe I’m of a different mindset. When your job becomes your life, it’s going to affect you. Right?

Then again, I think about the extra hours I put into Bloodshot, into Dawn’s Early Light, into all my fiction…it’s about the passion. Doing what you love. Giving it your all. That I can understand.

The last surprise of the day — I watched John Hodgman from The Daily Show post on Instagram today. I walked right by him, and I even did a double take. The things you see in DC when the government is in timeout…

Would have loved to shake your hand, Big J…but I had a train to catch.

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Stranger on a Train XXIII

I was planning to nap, but my brain really won’t power down. I blame NASA and this incredible photo of Christina Hendricks I saw Facebook.

It still blows my mind that we are on Mars. Again. This time, using a means of entry that resembled something the Coyote (Eatibus Anythingibus) purchased from ACME in order to catch the Road Runner (Hotrodius Diggus-Outtus). When I saw the animation on how they were going to get Curiosity on the Red Planet, I thought “That’s nuts!”

Put one in the WIN column for Super-Geniuses.

This week Pip and I head for New Orleans. Not necessarily planned, this trip; but then again, 2012 hasn’t really gone to plan. I feel very much in transit, particularly with other friends hitting crossroads in life. Things could be worse, sure, but if you were to ask me to describe the year in a word: uncertain. I don’t know what it is about this year, but there it is in a nutshell.

NASA however taught me last night a whole new degree of uncertainty. Think about it: The reason (okay, ONE reason) they went nuts early this morning was on account of uncertainty. Beyond the insane amount of time and precision in the entry, there was the fact that Curiosity would get to Mars and fail hard. A camera could have jostled out of whack, a board could have failed on touchdown — even if you got redundancies in place, a thousand and one things could go wrong, and still you have to worry about that other variable that could make it one thousand and two. NASA faced their uncertainty with incredible resolve, and now we’re back on Mars with a probe that is state-of-the-art and ready to rumble in the Red.

This is what we all have to do: face it. Face it head on. We do that, and we will come out the other side. Stronger. Wiser. Ready for more.

If you were expecting the shot of Christina, that’s on my Facebook page. This one’s for NASA.

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Stranger on a Train XXII

It’s still the grey of twilight, but here I am, on the train, heading in…

Trying something a little different this time — using the personal hotspot instead of the phone itself to blog. Yeah, it dawned on me the last time I did this segment (which, I admit, has been a while…) that I could do this and why not? After all, I got that ability, why am I suddenly limiting myself to the screen of my smartphone.

I blame the lack of coffee in the morning. Gets me every time.

You know what else gets me? Bad dreams. And lucky me, they like to hit me just within the hour before I wake up. I then hit the morning routine wondering “What brought that on?” It tends to make for a distracted morning, something I really can’t afford. This week, August commences and it’s going to be one of those months akin to May where time will be fleeting, book events will be upon us (me and Pip, that is), and I’m still trying to sort out the mechanics of a life.

What does that mean? Come on, you know this segment — completely off the top of my head. Also, I can’t elaborate because I know as modest as this blog may be, I’ve got people watching and reading. I need to pay attention to what I say, and all I can say at this point is that nothing feels set or secure. I need to make some judgment calls in August. That is crystal clear to me. So right now, I am what I am. Like Popeye, only without the squint, pipe, and unnatural spinach fetish.

And next week, Pip and I hit Authors After Dark. Let the mayhem commence.

This weekend, I kicked back with Sonic Boom and the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. I think that show gets more epic each time you watch it. I blogged a few months ago about Kenneth Branagh and my man-crush on him. So nice when he appeared in the midst of this spectacle. I nearly wet myself when he recited from The Tempest. He’s been there and back again, it seems; but watching him at the Opening Ceremonies?  Oh yeah, he’s still got it.

Kenneth Branagh. Working the Olympics. Like a mill boss.

Stranger on a Train XXI

Heading home, and I’ve got 21 for this entry; so Double Down if you can.

Yesterday was a day I want to put behind me, but I admit it was a crossroad kind of day. Revelations. Lapses of reason. Manning up. And as pissy as I felt, I find out I have a friend — you know, one of those best kinds — facing a shut storm that reduced my day to just a chocolate drizzle. It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?

Something tells me you’re reading this, bro. Don’t go stealth on me. You were there for me. My turn now…

Today, I was dealt a few pleasant surprises. Discovered more folks in my corner. Got validation on a few things gnawing at me. And then there was the writing. It just feels great being back in this world, and I am planning to go farther. I was in full stride today, and now I have to wonder if I can pick that stride up tonight.

I’m not worried about it. That surprises me a bit. I don’t know. Should it?

Getting ready for work this morning, I purposefully chose this shirt. Part of me was worried it would send the wrong message, but I wanted this message for me. I needed some reassurance, and Kal-El’s never let me down, sour sequels and a heartless reboot not withstanding. Maybe Supes was the boy scout of the JLA…but he was the boy scout that you could always count on. Today was my facing down of dragons. I’m good.

Superman or Raiders of the Lost Ark — which one has the more iconic fanfare, you think?

Whatever. Both kick ass.

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Stranger on a Train XIX

Heading home…finally.

Yeah, today was rough. I’m snapping back from the weekend at the Steampunk World’s Fair. It was beastly getting up there, but coming home was a snap. Because of that cluster-fuck journey through traffic hell, I’m planning an EARLY departure for Balticon.It torques me slightly that I’ve got to work Thursday night, but it’s a job. I’d rather have a minor inconvenience than unemployment, and this job’s keeping everyone sane…well, everyone but me seeing as I’ve got two ACX titles awaiting production, a book trailer nearing completion (so close…), and Blogworld NY looming in the distance. How did things get so overbooked?!

Oh yeah. Unemployment. Feast or famine, right?

So, in eight days, The Janus Affair happens. It feels completely different as Pip and I had copies of the book waiting for us at SPWF as giveaways. I have no clue if those attendees (some who knew us from both the book and the podcasts) really grasped that they were getting free copies of the book before its release but there you go. Harper Voyager, it feels, has an entirely different attitude about this title. Are their hopes up? Are they thinking this could be a breakaway title? Who knows…

We sure don’t.

What we do know is that our book trailer is closing in on completion, we got Balticon closing in fast, and I’m trying to keep everything on track. All this, and I have two books to get cracking on. (Writing, I mean…not the ACX titles…)

And technically, Summer still hasn’t even begun. Hoo-boy.

The event this weekend was good fun. Pip and I shopped and socialized. That P.J. Schnyder…what a dynamo. And this book? Yeah, I think the trailer does it justice.

You think I would have this “new book” thing down. I don’t. That fear before a launch — it never gets old.

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Stranger on a Train XVIII

You ever have one of those weekends where you needed a weekend to recuperate?

That’s May for me. So far.

It’s not like I didn’t see this coming, what with Pip’s family visiting from New Zealand, the book trailer, Steampunk World’s Fair, Balticon, Blogworld, and a new book about to launch…oh yeah, and there was this weekend which included family portraits, renewal of vows, and an epic cookout….

Aaaaaaand the Amtrak train in front of us appears to be broken down. Happy Monday.

All bitching aside, yesterday was righteous. Pip looked beautiful, Sonic Boom (even wound up as she was) was well-behaved (for the most part), people were having fun, the food was full of awesome (so those chowing down told me), and I upheld my reputation as a purveyor of fine beer.

Yes, Mother’s Day 2012 was a day of WIN.

Now, looming ahead (just past the broken down Amtrak) is Steampunk World’s Fair. This week I’m supposed to be working on the audio for the trailer, so I’ll be getting my steampunk on this week. Too bad The Janus Affair won’t be ready, so I guess that means Balticon is going to be another party of epic scale.

Train’s moving again. Crisis averted? We’ll see…

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Stranger on a Train XVII

I should be focusing on the job. I should be a blank slate on the way to Alexandria. I should feel a sense of accomplishment from the weekend.

I think I’m obsessing over this book trailer.

It makes sense, you know? Even with the previous night Linc and I took off from editing, I was putting together some audio for it. I couldn’t find the right effect so I put it together in Soundtrack Pro. The end result was exactly what I wanted, and it was built around a basic, elementary sound.

Guess that is what makes a film, or a book, or any artistic endeavor — the details. It’s the super glue of creativity.

My in-laws are in from New Zealand. Sonic Boom is over the moon. I think Pip is far more thrilled than she’s letting on. I missed spending Sunday with them, but I had audio for ACX to record, a Tales from the Archives (this one from J.R. Blackwell) to mix, and a sound effect for the trailer. It was a productive day, but I got to make sure I make time for the family. That’s a detail that really matters.

I think I also need to make time to see The Avengers again. It was a blast. Jose Whedon already had good reason to be proud with Serenity, but he really met unrealistic expectations.

Good on ya, Joss.

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Stranger on a Train XVI

Back into the groove…

I got a blogpost in the making. You know, one not quite as off-the-cuff as this one, but it’s vitriol might even be too much for me. Then again, after reading this post from Stephen King, I’m thinking if an author’s rant is justified and witty as hell, why not?

Yeah. The Goodreads 2011 Choice Awards and giving good rants — two things I share with the King, baby.

Maybe I’ll work on that vitriolic blogpost, or get cracking on my look back on these past two weekends. I’m still thinking about them.

If you missed it, the trailer filming wrapped Sunday. Two weekends, a cast of eight, and an old Victorian house. It was quite the education and still very humbling that Brute Force Studios would open their house, their props, and their talent to us. This weekend was the Go/No Go Weekend as we needed to get the parlour scene down, or there would be no trailer.

The ladies delivered, and my cameraman worked it like a boss.

Now we get together and start editing. And while The Janus Affair trailer takes shape, Pip and I continue work on By Dawn’s Early Light. That’s Book Three for Welly and Eliza. No release date set, but high hopes indeed. Just as high as the ones I have for the trailer. I dropped in another production shot, this time featuring P.J. Schnyder. I see shots like this and I see the trailer’s potential. Of course I want the trailer to rock the world…but I also want it to blow people away because of the hard work and A-game everyone brought to this production. “Thank you” just doesn’t seem to be enough.

My headache this morning is finally subsiding. It started to recede when I started blogging about the trailer. Coincidence?

No. I don’t think so.

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Stranger on a Train XV

It’s the start to a new week, although it doesn’t feel like I ever finished last week. Immediately after Day Two of the new job, I polished up an audio chapter of Truly, Deeply Disturbed and sent that off to the review cue for the publisher. Then it was packing of the big pink travel bag; and Pip, Jett, Karina, and I mounted up and headed to Grimmoire Manor (the home of Brute Force Studios) to film a book trailer. That’s the challenge of being unemployed: You either sit on your rear waiting for things to right themselves, or you step up to projects and then suddenly find yourself juggling commitments.

Doesn’t mean I’m folding like a cheap lawn chair. I’m seeing all these projects through.

I learned something about steampunk over the weekend, something I don’t think I’ve heard a lot of people mention and maybe it should be mentioned more often: It’s a passion. Whether you are a crafter like Thomas, a model like Sarah (both of Brute Force), or writers like Pip and myself, it’s something we do (and in some instances, defend) because we love it. We have a lot of reasons why but that love is what runs our analytical engines. I am constantly blown away by the talent I meet in this genre, but those who excel at it nurture a real passion for steampunk. Sometimes, artists may not even realize they are dancing with steampunk; and that’s when what happens is less about aesthetic and more about art. Yeah, there is a deeper commitment and drive behind steampunk, and it’s inspiring.

Here’s a behind the scenes shot of our Sophia del Morte (Sarah Hunter). I got high hopes for this book trailer…

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Stranger on a Train: The Return

Day One. And I’ve been looking forward to this post since last week when I said “Yes.”

It’s my Spring Training, as it were; and I’m re-acclimating myself to the sights, sounds, and smells (yes, smells — someone brought McDonalds in my car) of a
morning commute. I’m back in the world of the working, and I’m doing what I love, this time with the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. I was pleased to have slept last night as I was wound up tight. Am I nervous? No, not at all. The Meso Foundation needed someone that had blogging, podcasting, Facebook, Twitter, and the works covered.

It’s all good, guys. I got this.

I picked out this shirt this morning. On purpose. This is my way of ending a chapter with a killer closing line, as well as a “thank you” to everybody as my old stomping grounds of Intersections. I learned a lot while I was there, and a part of me still missed it. But as Grant says on Ghost Hunters: “On to the next.”

Now I got Instagram to help me with my pictures. I’m having way too much fun with this app.

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