Saturday, November 22, 2014

Winter is Here ... a hard road has to be traveled

As anyone who read my new year's post going into 2014 knows, last winter was a very tough time personally, but I did my best to get ready for making 2014 a really wonderful year.  While the first part of 2014 showed some upswing, another big storm hit my world and I'm still working my way out of that as another winter sets in.

It is definitely going to be a difficult few months and I'm not going to sugarcoat that.  I really dread the holidays this time around, especially in light of this recent storm, to the point that I am thinking of bowing out of Thanksgiving and Christmas entirely.  I would love for the day to come when the magic of these holidays return, as both were always holidays that gave me a ton of joy and were days I really looked forward to.

They are both the extreme opposite of that for me, at this time, and it is probably better if I just sit out than court the kind of heaviness that will come with forcing myself through "celebrations".  It's not a matter of going through the motions, it truly is painful and it is hard to convey that to those who think a decision to opt out of the holidays is a bad one.   I truly understand how this is such a difficult time for a great many out out there, and maybe in some ways that helps me as a writer to gain these depths of perception, as heavy as they might be.

I've been writing actively, working out harder than I have in years, progressing on the guitar, taking care of things for the press, our convention, and in general doing what I can to keep my mind occupied, but the fact remains that winter is going to bring a terrible emptiness that is impossible to avoid.  The recent storm brings a rather awful sting to everything and I know I face a war to get through the next few months.  I've been fighting my war largely alone here, and this period will be no exception, so it will be yet another great test when I've had my fill of tests.

How do you rally yourself again and again?  I guess I just have to keep my eyes focused on one day at a time.

As always seems to be the case, the only consistent thing I can turn to these days is music, and I find myself thinking of the words in a song by a new band I found that I absolutely love.  The timing certainly is appropriate, as their lyrics convey the spirit of fighting through storms, heartache and disappointment and seeing your way through.  I just hope I have the strength.

“We all have a war that we face, one that tests our only strength.”
- We Will All Prevail, by Like Monroe

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Slayer on a Sunny Saturday Morning....

Yes, it is a bright Saturday morning, and I started off the day with a pretty good writing session.  Accompanied by Slayer albums on vinyl, and then some Slipknot, I delved into the darker realms with some new Hellscapes material.  I think a strong second volume is emerging for sure! Today I was working on the story that will start the second volume... a rather nasty introduction to hell for one unfortunate, doomed soul! Got an idea for a pretty creepy little beast to put into one of the scenes too.

Followed up that with some intense song lyrics, as I am finding myself able to write lyrics these days, which still kind of surprises me since the first ones jumped out not so long ago.  This was a rather intense set, definitely suited for something heavy-edged.  Kind of an ode to the kind of guys I absolutely despise.  Not playing nice in this one. ;)

Yes, my muse is in a pretty hardcore mode today!  But I love it.

I have enjoyed the new Machine Head album a LOT this week, Bloodstone and Diamonds.  Lyrically, it is fantastic, I got the cool edition with the hardcover book that has killer illustrations accompanying the lyrics (from a publishing standpoint, great layout and compositions!).  I personally think this one is one of their best, without question, and potentially the metal album of 2014.  Of course, I was more than jazzed when I saw a seven-pointed star on page one of the book and the song "Now We Die" has lyrics like "Black steel and iron, a Lionheart is forged from these bones".  Seven-pointed stars and a lionheart.  Gotta like that.   But make no mistake, this is music that comes from the heart, you can't fake that.  Rob Flynn really crushes in this one!

I also picked up the new Foo Fighters' release, Sonic Highways.  A great set of songs recorded in many different cities, each one with its own extensive story.  Melodic and often hard-rocking (note the very Dio-esque, Holy Diver-ish riff in the first single), this is a great CD that shows a band that you can depend on to come through with great rock albums.

I'll definitely be jamming out to Slipknot and Korn CD's this week, getting ready for the big show in Rupp Arena on the 22nd.  I managed to get tickets just two rows off the floor, probably the best place to be if you don't want to immerse in the huge pit that will inevitably break out.  I'm proud to support this show, as Corey Taylor of Slipknot has increasingly been stepping forward as an unabashed spokesperson/champion of the genre at the time that it really needs someone to do that.  No other genre has the kind of worldwide brother and sisterhood that heavy metal has, it is something totally unique and something that I've personally experienced in my travels out of the country.  It is truly the music of the underdog and those who persevere, to paraphrase what Dave Mustaine one said, and it has gotten me through so many dark times in my life, and is currently helping me so much during this time.  I'm proud to support Corey, Slipknot, and Korn and join 10,000+ of my metal brothers and sisters this Saturday night for a thunderous night.  Will be awesome and to hell with the naysayers.  Rock and metal ARE alive!

Until then, I'll keep doing as best I can... writing to be done, guitars to be played, training to be undertaken... probably too cold for the motorcycle though! LOL  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quiet, but Far from Inactive

It's a Monday and the new week begins, gradually getting back into a routine while still making sure I have the time to focus on the things that have been helping me get through the days lately.

I'm not making any appearances for the rest of 2014 as I get myself back in order and hopefully will be better than ever when I return in 2015.  I'm just not in the right frame of mind and it's not fair to any organizer or any reader if I'm not in a place where I can give my best effort.

There is some good news.  I have been able to start writing again, and even though I have some heavy-hearted days when I just can't do it, I have been able to get a little rhythm again, working on one novel in a genre I have never been published in and also working on some short stories.  While I haven't had the same level of output as I did before, it's a start and hopefully I'll get back there.

I did drop in this past weekend to say hi in Sheperdsville, KY for a couple hours (right outside of Louisville) at a small book fair where several of my author friends were appearing, such as Jetti NeCole, Rebekah McAuliffe, Amy McCorkle, Pam Turner, and Mysti Parker.  Spending some time and catching up with them was really great and they are all authors I really root for.

Training is going well, martial-arts wise, got to ride Freya some more (my bike), and have almost daily played the guitar.  One of the songs I'm learning is Judas Priest's Desert Plains, and I had a real epiphany of the full symbolism of that song in way that connects very strongly to my own world, and I plan to do a blog talking about that.  It covers some serious ground, so I have to get into the right zone to be able to get the words down, but hopefully I will in a day or two.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Song Lyrics...On an Election Day...Go Figure!

First a small vent, then some fun stuff. Here we are a day after the elections in the USA, something that always leaves me with distaste as I watch the public shift from one "party" to the other expecting things to change or be different in the future.  Beyond the rhetoric, things continue to slide in the wrong direction, irrefutably, whether a D or an R is in charge.

I always get a kick out of comments where those supporting one side say the other side voted against their own interests, when in truth, in 99% of major level elections, you are voting against your own interests when you elect someone from either wing of the Bird of Prey that is the two-party "system".
The fact is, these jokers in DC (or Mordor on the Potomac as I affectionately call it) are relieved that they don't have to cater to the voters and they can get back to the real business with the big money lobbyists and special interests.  If you really want to know how things work in the DC cesspool, here's a book I recommend to start with, that explains the dynamics wonderfully and has plenty of damning data to prove its points:

Throw Them All Out: 
How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison 
by Peter Schweizer

Start there, continue researching for yourself, and I am confident you will see what I am talking about. 

Now, on to a little surprising stuff on the personal front.  Having recently picked up the guitar again, I've been surprised at how quick it is coming back and also how I am hearing and understanding music on a deeper level as a guitar player that I know comes from being an attentive music listener.  

Another thing that has emerged, and caught me totally by surprise, is for the first time in my entire life I have written some song lyrics.  Yesterday, while doing some writing, I felt an impulse for what became the lyrics for a song that I have titled "Heaven is Burning".  It is a very personal and heartfelt kind of song, likely a slower tempo, more melancholy piece, but it is unique in that this is the first set of song lyrics I have ever constructed.  Following that, this morning I had the core of two others emerge, on that I am calling "For Tomorrow" and the third "One Day Closer".  All of these came from somewhere deep within and deal with some of the things I have been going through.  

Even though the subject matter of these is a little heavy in nature, I was really glad to see this emerge, as I think song lyrics are a powerful mode of expression and it opens up another artistic dimension I can explore.  

I just have to keep moving forward.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Writing Again...Another Step

The past several weeks, during the personal storm I've been going through, I've found myself unable to write. During other kinds of storms, I've been able to do so, and often it helps me work through things, but this time I found myself hit at such a core and fundamental level that I was truly unable to get words down.

There were a few times I tried. Sitting down in front of my writing computer with all the familiar trappings...and then nothing. Only one day I was able to get anything down, a very emotive session that may serve as the basis for a new book in a genre I haven't been published in. Other than that brief period, though, I couldn't get anything going.

As you have read in my recent blog post on Martial Arts, Motorcycles, and Music, I have been doing all I can to work my way back and even if the route doesn't seem direct, the fact remains that last Friday, Saturday and this morning I was able to write some new material. Some writing for Hellscapes Vol. 2, and some writing for that new book I mentioned earlier.

The word counts were not tremendous, but as I've always said, it is most important to write on a consistent basis, not worry about a word count in a given session.  Writing 3 out of 4 days is a positive step.

I played the guitar quite a bit, had some great workouts too. Weather didn't allow for biking, other than Sunday, but I chose to head to the hills of Eastern Kentucky for a day of hiking on the property of my friends Eric and Kylie, who are two incredible individuals. It was wonderful to be immersed in the magic of Kentucky's wilderness and definitely was a good day.

A taste of the scenery I hiked through. :)
Some amazing contrasts you see when hiking in the hills. :)

I know it's going to be a very long road back, so I take things a day at a time, but being able to write 3 out of 4 days is a bright spot that shows the lionheart is beating a little stronger yet. Day to day, step by step, keep moving forward, right? I intend to do just that.