It’s Time For A Little Less Social With My Media


Social media itself is a revolution. It’s a medium for knowledge and ideas. It’s a place to share anything and everything.

However, it is also a haven for negativity, narcissism, and hate. Generally speaking, it doesn’t do much to enrich our lives. It’s an entertainment vehicle full of selfies, lists generalizing us by telling us what we should be doing with our lives, (Every twenty-something should be doing these ten things or you’re a failure!), and political, racial, and religious hate. It’s full of generalizations and stereotypes as well as what people had for breakfast, what time they have to be to work, and for how long they’ll be working.

I don’t say this to attempt to bring down social media. As with anything, there are positives and negatives, and I’m tired of the negatives. I’m tired of seeing the photos of random strangers with text on them saying how someone hurt someone else, or someone passed some law, without providing any proof. I’m tired of people sharing articles from The Onion or Empire News as fact, and I’m tired of the photos telling me that if I don’t share and comment on some photo professing some sort of religious zeal then I’ll be banished to hell–as if any religious deity would be monitoring Facebook to make sure people are properly sharing his or her likeness.

I’m also tired of being told not to vaccinate my children. I’m tired of the posts saying that the government has taken away all my freedoms, when I still have them and actively use them. And I’m tired of being told that the police are going to beat and arrest every minority on the street.

I’m tired of so much expression of hate just because someone has a different view or belief.

This isn’t to say that any of the people who do any of these things are bad or wrong. It’s no secret that the internet provides everyone with a certain anonymity that allows them to say almost anything without consequences, and sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed in certain situations. Sometimes it helps bring situations to light that would otherwise be pushed away. Social media is also a fantastic tool for networking. For bringing people together. It allows us to reach out to people from different states, and even from different cultures. It allows us to keep up with our family and friends who may or may not be a long distance away. And it exposes us to a lot of good things that we might otherwise not experience. However, a lot of the good gets hidden in the looming shadows of negativity. Of the scandals, the celebrity culture, and the hate. And none of that matters.

So what does matter?

My family matters.

Current events matter: What’s happening in the world, why, and is it going to change my way of life?

Reading and writing matter: Stories, other ways of life, things seen through the eyes of those experiencing it.

These are all things that matter, that affect me, and that are most important in my life.

With that being said, I will be spending more time away from social media. It used to be the first thing I did in the morning was scroll through my Facebook feed only to see the same thing. Instead, I’ll be scrolling through news headlines. I’ll be focusing more on raising my family. On making sure I play a major part in my son’s life. And I’ll be focusing more on my writing. On telling a good story, and on doing something that matters and can really bring forth some kind of change.

Some of this may seem blunt, and it may seem as if it’s bringing people down, but I can assure you that is not my aim. This is an effort to improve my own life, to become an informed citizen, and to make sure I’m here for the people who matter most to me.

F@%#!*$ S*!#: Why I Don’t Censor my Writing (And You Shouldn’t Either)


Photo credit: Rebecca Barray via WANA Commons

Censorship has played a large role in every part of the media we consume for some time now. Between banning books and the creation of the FCC, what we’re exposed to and how is constantly regulated. I believe that there are certain audiences requiring censorship and others that are capable of comprehending and processing these things–i.e. violence, sex, vulgar language.

When I began writing in middle school, I really had no concept of censorship in books or on television. I just knew what I liked and that’s what I read and watched. Some of that transferred into my writing, but at such a young age I wasn’t really exposed to vulgar language or violence that much. However, it wasn’t until recently–the past year, or even couple of months–I’ve really stepped up my game when it comes to content. I’ve stopped holding back when it comes to violence and language and how characters act, and I believe I have good reasons for doing so:

The things most worth understanding sometimes aren’t pleasant

The world is full of a lot of bad things, as much as many of us don’t want to believe that. There is violence, terror, and hate in abundance anywhere you go. This isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of good out there, because there is. But we live in a culture that often focuses on the negative, and it’s good to understand and explore those negatives. One of the best ways to explore them is to view those actions through the eyes of the characters performing them or being subjected to them. How can we really understand hate until we see it from these points of views? How can we understand violence and intolerance if we don’t look at it head on and question it? There are reasons these things happen. There are motivations and emotions that are worth exploring to understand why people feel the way they do, and possibly a way to combat all the negatives.

That’s mainly why I don’t censor my writing anymore. My characters are just as likely to tell someone to “fuck off” as they are give them a bouquet of flowers. My characters give and take hate and live in hate-filled, intolerant worlds because that’s the kind of world we live in, and if I’m going to live in it I want to explore it. I want to understand it. I want to know why people steal and kill and are so intolerant.

That being said, I try to write with meaning. I try to ensure that the violence, the vulgar language, and the hate aren’t senseless. They have to have meaning, and there has to be a logical reason for the hate, otherwise what is there to gain from it? What is there to learn from? And why do we read and write if not to explore and learn?

Censoring writing deprives us from knowledge. It deprives us from watching chaos from a safe environment, and doesn’t allow us to gain other perspectives. And how can we become tolerant and accepting if we can’t see where other people come from, how they got to where they are, and what resulted from it? How can we expect to learn and grow by shoving away everything that has foul language and violence in it? That’s the place we live in right now, every single day. And if we’re going to combat it; if we’re going to try and fight the things that make the world as negative as it is, we need to let the people see the world as it is.

I Write to…


“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ”
― Joss Whedon


I write to create.
I write to expand my knowledge of people, of culture, and of existence.
I write to study emotions.
I write to revisit past lives and feelings.
I write to be someone else.
I write to strengthen myself.
I write to attempt to strengthen others.
I write to reveal the flaws of life.
I write to learn the problems of the world.
I write to portray horror, terror, greed, and failure.
I write to teach.
I write to gain perspective.
I write to show the outcome of our hatred.
I write because I don’t know what will happen if I stop.

Clemens’ Quotes: Truth-Seekers


Recently I’ve been reading a lot of Mark Twain. Specifically, I just finished reading his essay/story What is Man? which is a conversation between a young man and an old man. Based upon the description on Goodreads, apparently this was Twain’s prized essay. His own bible of sorts that he kept hidden away for some time. I can only imagine he did this because of the things about which he wrote, touching upon how a person’s mind functions. Ideas such as free will and religion. Things that people, especially during that time, were likely to take as an insult, or as a mockery of people’s way of life.

As I read this, I began highlighting (on my Kindle, of course) some excellent quotes within What is Man? and I thought it might be fun to explore these quotes and perhaps see how much they relate to contemporary society. I’m planning for this to be a weekly piece as I continue to explore more of Twain’s writing.

The quote I’d like to take a look at comes from the section where the Old Man and the Young Man are discussing “Truth-Seekers.” The Old Man says:

“I told you that there are none but temporary Truth-Seekers; that a permanent one is a human impossibility; that as soon as the Seeker finds what he is thoroughly convinced is the Truth, he seeks no further, but gives the rest of his days to hunting junk to patch it and caulk it and prop it with, and make it weather-proof and keep it from caving in on him.”

This concept couldn’t be any more relevant to contemporary culture. The idea that there is no such thing as a permanent Truth-Seeker is absolutely true. In my experiences I’ve found that we spend our time searching for what we believe to be the truth, and when we find that answer–an answer we believe to be absolutely, 100% fault proof–we stop searching. We store that answer as confirmation that the truth has been located, and continue to use our time to find ways to solidify the truth we discovered. We search for ways to shut out contradictions and prove them wrong.

This can be seen in significant force on social media. Social media allows us to completely submerge ourselves in our own points of view. We’re able to see what we want from whatever viewpoint we want, and we have the power to make anything we want to be true, or at least seem that way. We can create graphics and upload them without having to provide source material or defend our way of thinking. We can add to any argument without validating our points of view, and it can be assumed that others take it at face value and then find truth themselves, using that particular graphic or comment as their defense for the truth.

Take, for example, the issue of gun control in America. Those who believe that there should be no restrictions on guns believe that to be the truth and therefor use such things as the second amendment to make that truth, as Twain said, “weather-proof.” They no longer continue searching to see if restrictions on gun control are needed in America. They’ve searched for their truth, found it, and now are set on finding evidence to back up that truth.

The same can be said for the opposite side of the argument. Those who believe that there should be restrictions on guns have found their truth. They’ve completed what research was required to come to the belief that guns should be regulated, and now they’re searching for ways to make their argument stronger.

Both groups have gone through their temporary stage of truth seeking and have moved on to backing up their truth. Twain has, essentially, redefined “truth” within this context. The former definition: “The quality or state of being true” has been altered to a state of “what the individual believes to be true.” In terms of religion, people believe it as truth that he or she will go to Heaven when they die while others believe that he or she may be reincarnated, or some believe it as truth that no one actually knows what will happen when we die.

I believe it to be true that Twain is absolutely correct in this theory. I have no need to further investigate this because I’ve done my searching–my research by examining cultural examples–and have confirmed that I believe it to be something that I am “thoroughly convinced is the Truth.”

What do you think? Do you think there is such a thing as a “permanent Truth-Seeker?” Is there anything you absolutely believe to be true and now search for ways to strengthen your argument for that particular idea?

August Update: The Haps


Things have been pretty quiet on the blog for the past couple months aside from a few announcements here and there. I took a pretty serious break, if you want to call it that, for a few weeks after graduation where I really didn’t get anything done. No writing and barely any reading. However, I think I’m starting to come out of it, so, here’s an update:

 Baby on the way!

Awesome tie and press hat my mother-in-law made.

Awesome tie and press hat my mother-in-law made.

My wife and I recently revealed that we will be having our first child! And we found out two weeks ago that we’ll be having a little boy. We threw a gender reveal party for our friends and family as well, which was a lot of fun. We gave people cans of silly string to spray as my wife and I released a box of blue balloons, and everyone was sufficiently surprised and excited. Now we’re trying to figure out what to name this little boy. We’ve narrowed it down to two or three choices, but we’re keeping it a secret until our little man is born.

New novella estimated for December 2014

I’ve succumbed to the allure of the plot bunnies and have started a small side project in addition to my work on Wasteland Gods. It’s a novella taking place in Chicago in 1950 about a newsboy entitled, you guessed it, The Newsboy. It’s still in the beginning stages, but I’ve got an awesome cover set to go, of which I’ll do an official release at a later date when I get more of the book written, and I’d like to get more details of it nailed down before I do too much with it. 

I’m finding that I rush a bit too much when it comes to launching a new book. I get so excited to share it that I don’t do enough preparation to get the word out so people actually know about it. So, I think I’m going to work up a bit of a schedule when publication day gets closer as well as making up some promotion material before hand. I have a feeling I’ll be pushing the publication date up to February or March, however, which may or may not change again seeing as how the baby is due December 30th, so who knows what kind of time I’ll have for any literary stuff with a little one who needs so much of my attention. Not that I’m complaining by any means. I’m really excited to have a baby on the way. So excited, in fact, that:

I’ve launched a new blog: Missives to You

I’ve started this new blog to write letters to my currently unborn child. Sort of something for him to read when he gets older, and something for me to reflect back upon as the years pass. So far, it seems I’ve gotten a little serious with some of the blog’s content by talking about societal issues, something he won’t really be faced with until he’s much older, so I’m working on pulling it back some and talking about some of the lighter things. Things about which I’m excited, and, when he actually gets here, I look forward to recounting some of his antics to him. So, if you’re interested, pop on over to Missives to You and give it a read/follow.

The job hunt is… difficult

As it turns out, just because you get a college degree doesn’t mean people are waiting to hand out jobs. Not that I really believed that, but I figured that having a degree might certainly up my chances. But I guess all those other people who graduated with me probably had a similar idea as me, and someone had to come up as the victor. And, so far, that someone hasn’t been me. Two interviews have lead to zero jobs. Even at the place where I freelance, which seemed a bit odd to me. I’m good enough to freelance, but not to work there full time? No matter, at least it’s some sort of income.

So, I’m still on the job hunt with my brand new, revamped resume full of experience and skills and what not.

And that, my friends, is what I’ve been up to since this blog has grown somewhat stagnant. However, seeing as how I seem to be getting back into the creative flow of things, I anticipate some new and exciting content for you. So, click those social media share buttons below, drop a comment letting me know what’s up, what you think, and be sure to pick up a book of mine from Amazon!

WASTELAND GODS: COVER REVEAL


It’s interesting how much things can change when writing. For those of us who don’t plot out our novels–and I’m sure that even for some who do–things can change in a flash as the story unfolds. Character motivations can change. Characters themselves can change. Plot, personalities, history, everything can change so quickly, and sometimes that requires us to change things around.

This realization that something needed to change has been growing for a few days now. I was telling my wife about the recent happenings in my current work in progress, DEADGOD. I told her about some characters’ plans and their roles in the novel, along with what they’re going to eventually come to realize. How they’ll change, or arc, if you will, and what they’ll learn. She then said to me, “I don’t think that title fits anymore.” And me, still enjoying the name DEADGOD, tried to find a way that the title still fit the book. Mostly because I’m so horrible at coming up with names that I didn’t want to go through the pain of trying to think up a new one. However, as I was thinking about my characters and their current situations yesterday, I eventually came to realize that, once again, my wife was right. While DEADGOD fit one of the characters, it didn’t fit the overall theme of the book, nor did it fit the other two main characters’ personalities.

That’s when the struggle began. My characters had morphed into something I didn’t think they would. As their roles in the novel became more apparent, their actions and beliefs changed, and somehow I had to think of a title that encompassed all of it, along with a brand new cover to go with it. I tossed around this name and that name, writing it down on the old cover to see how it looked, trying out various fonts and colors in the editor to see how it blended together. And, finally, with the help of my friend, Karen, I settled on a name that I really enjoy, and I hope you will, too.

So, at long last, feast your eyes on the brand new cover and title of: Wasteland Gods

Cover_C

Click to view larger

There is no hope in the unforgiving wasteland. Only the starved, withering Insurgents. The insane, cannibalistic Roamers. Slavers, Raiders, and death await in the sweltering heat.

The Koval Republic, a utopia filled with clean water and food, shelter, and protection. A land saved by politicians, greed, and ignorance. A republic that looks down upon the Insurgents, offering no help or remorse. Instead, they lay siege to the Insurgent’s meager settlements, hoping to wipe the mongrels from what remains of the planet.

Anton, a religion-hating Insurgent in a world void of faith who only hopes for salvation from the wasteland seeks freedom and fairness.

Claire, a soldier of the Republic, banished to the wastes, struggling to survive. Begging to return to her old life.

Roland, a soldier like Claire, taken in by bloodthirsty slavers who aim to bring democracy and the people’s voice back to the world.

Who will live long enough to see if redemption can be brought to the wasteland, and who will buckle beneath the crushing force of the Koval Republic, and the crippling dangers of the wasteland?

Coming 2015!

 

Monday Recap: Rejection, Sales, Expansion


It’s interesting how sometimes, after receiving bad news, a whole lot of good news comes through.

I interviewed for a staff writer job at the newspaper I freelance for, and I found out yesterday that I didn’t get it. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, seeing as how I’ve been writing for them for close to a year now, but I guess the powers-that-be at that newspaper have decided I wasn’t a good fit, but I’ll continue working as a freelance correspondent. So, not terrible news, but not good news, seeing as how I still have this degree and I’m not using it to its full potential.

However, yesterday some pretty cool things happened that seemed to outweigh that bad news, at least for now, anyway.

First, I sold some books, which  always makes my day better. Knowing that someone was interested enough in what I had to say, and knowing that I potentially have the chance to get a new fan, make someone else’s day better, and, who knows, maybe even change a life, is fantastic.

Second, selling books bumped up one of my Amazon sales ranks!

crimsonappletop100Not long after that, I discovered that both The Rotten Apple and Black Powder Brigade are available on the Barnes and Noble Website!

And, finally, this morning I discovered that I sold more books, bumping up my sales rank for The Crimson Apple even further.

crimsonappletop1002

Overall, what started off as a day that promised to be less-than-hopeful turned out to be not so bad after all. So, thank you to all my readers, to everyone who has bought, checked out, glanced at, and given my writing a chance. It’s because of you that I continue to do what I do, and that I will keep at it until I no longer can.

DEADGOD: Understanding the Theme


Progress on my current WIP, DEADGOD, has been pretty slow as of late. I’ve really only been working on it about once or twice a week, maybe contributing 300 – 1,000 words on any of those days. I used to attribute it to my large course load during my final semester of college, which had me writing a lot of pretty big papers and reading a lot of texts. But now I don’t have any of that. I have my degree, but I’m still working on getting a full-time job. I have an abundance of free time, which also means I’m not making much money (Although, if you’re inclined to help me out then click on one of the book covers to your left and pick up a copy of one of my books!)

However, I’ve had what appears to be some sort of revelation the past few days. When I started DEADGOD I wanted to write some kind of book about cultural, religious, and social tolerance. I wanted to make a social commentary on American culture, seeing as how that’s the one I’m most familiar with, and show how intolerance can shape the world into an awful place. In order to do that, I created a religiously intolerant character in a world with one remaining religious man. I had a concept, and I knew how I wanted this religiously intolerant character to arc and learn from his behavior, but there was just something missing on my part. Something wasn’t driving me to tell this story. Part of it was because I really wasn’t pushing myself to sit down and write, which I can only blame on myself. But I think I’ve realized that I had a basic idea of the theme I wanted to convey in this novel, but I hadn’t really figured out how I was going to show it.

Now, as some of you may know, I write a column entitled Maglomediac in which I study and analyze various media. I think this has really helped me to understand the themes I want to tell in this novel and nail them down. When people think of the word media, most often they think of the news, meaning that I’ve been taking a look at it more on a cultural level–why it’s happening, to whom it’s happening, is it a result of some kind of social stigma? pseudo-environment? and things of that nature–which has allowed me to see it on a deeper level and apply it to my writing.

I now have some of the tools to be able to show the ideas and themes I want to portray in this book. By showing religious intolerance, political and religious zeal, and some of the concepts and ideas that are common today, which one could argue are contributing to a sort of devolution and backwards thinking in society, I can show why we need to correct these behaviors. Or, at least, I can show why I think we need to correct these behaviors.

After finally unearthing the deeper ideas about what exactly I want to show with this novel, not only have I been motivated to create the characters and world needed to show the themes I want to convey, but it has definitely made the writing stronger, too. It has given me a further look into the characters motivations and beliefs, and I can see much more clearly now why these character think, act, and speak the ways in which they do, and I think it’s making my novel really strong, and when it’s finished it will certainly

Snapshot Fiction


There’s something really exceptional about flash fiction, specifically those pieces ranging from 100 to 500 words. To be able to setup characters, plot, setting, and make a reader care about what happens is a remarkable talent that I envy. I’ve never dabbled much in flash fiction as I usually end up coming up with an idea that spans much more than a few hundred words. More often than not the idea turns into something novella or novel length.

Many of these ideas also end up coming to mind when I’m in the middle of a longer project. I believe they call those plot bunnies; those shiny ideas that beg you to step away from your current project and take off on a new adventure with exciting new characters and places and conflicts. However, if we succumbed to those plot bunnies all the time we’d never get any work done. So, something I find that helps me out when the plot bunnies come call is to write down what I call snapshot fiction, or a snapshot in time taking place in this new idea. Sometimes it’s a bit of dialogue and sometimes it’s an ending. But this sort of helps to get the idea out of my system so I can focus on my current project.

And now, (hopefully) for your entertainment, I’d like to share a few of my snapshot fiction pieces with you.

The stone tower looked fondly over its handiwork as the bodies of those brave men, void of souls or what once rest within them, lay scattered on the ground. Corruption had been a mere toy with which the tower played, and the sweet taste of blood sustained it until more arrived.


He looked at me with hopeful eyes and a faint smile, weary with fatigue after so many years of adventure and strangeness. A man, once a merchant barely scraping by, had become a man of fortune. A man accustomed to a certain way of life gained only by spilling blood and taking whatever he pleased.

“I’ll always cherish what you did for me,” he said. “Above all else. Gold, alcohol, leisure. The courage and drive you’ve inspired in me these past months are something I’ll treasure. Thank you.”

I dared not share in his smile, though his words reached a deeper part of me that had not been unleashed in some time.

I nodded to him with a grim expression and grasped the wooden handle beside me. The man before me, my friend, swallowed hard, and I pulled the lever, dropping the floor beneath him. He fell hard, reaching a jerking stop as the rope around his neck snapped the bones with a sharp crack. And my friend was dead.


I hope you enjoyed these brief snapshots in time. I plan to post some more of these as they come to me, and perhaps they’ll help you to come up with a story of your own.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments!

GUEST POST: J.S. Collyer


10382262_661343403958476_7130056436231839549_oI have an awesome guest on my blog today. I don’t recall exactly how we connected on this massive blogosphere. I suppose chance is the best explanation for it. Either way, she has grown immensely over the time I’ve known her, and now she’s here to talk about her debut novel, ZERO.


I want to start off by offering my thanks to Chris for giving me the opportunity to do a post for his blog. Chris Stocking is one of the first writers I ever started following on WordPress and his drive and passion really encouraged me to keep on striving toward my own goals.

I’m thrilled that I have reached the first of these goals: my first novel, Zero, a SciFi story of one crew’s fight for freedom and survival in an uncaring universe, is being released by Dagda Publishing 16th August 2014.

The full synopsis can be found on my my WordPress, along with a link to a Crowdfunding campaign that is doing very well raising money for the marketing which also gives readers a chance to pre-order signed copies and more, and the book launch is going ahead at UK’s Fantasticon – a SciFi and gaming convention in Hull.

So it really is all happening. I’m so pleased but also, in my quieter moments, I’m still a little scared and also a little unbelieving. The biggest thing preying on my mind is: what’s next?

I’ve got this far…but there’s so much further to go.

Lots of writers, myself included, when they start out only plan towards writing that first novel. It’s a major challenge, there’s no doubt. It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I had the confidence, the experience and the deadline to write a book. When those three things all came together, the first draft took me a measly 4 months. 4 months of very hard work, and it has since seen upwards of three brutal editing sessions which have taken the same time again and more, but still…I did it. I proved to myself if can be done. But now I just have this feeling that the first novel is just creating more and wider opportunities that need to be taken.

So what now?

Well, the answer is I need to write the next book. And so that’s what’ I’m doing now. My draft of Haven, Zero’s sequel, currently stands at 40,000 words and I want the draft done by the end of this year. It’s taking longer than Zero did, as I’m also juggling marketing & promoting Zero with a full time job and maintaining my blog. But if you want something enough you make the time and you don’t give up.

Zero got a publishing deal simply because I never stopped trying. I wrote other things, started other novel, only to leave them half-finished and half-forgotten in the recesses of various hard drives. But the whole time, I was keeping in touch online with the writing and publishing world, reading posts by people like Chris and many others and their experience with publishing and writing to keep my engaged and keep me going.

That’s how I found Dagda, who at first only released poetry but then branched out to fiction. They accepted first one then another of my short stories for their science fiction anthologies Tuned to a Dead Channel and All Hail the New Flesh. And then they looked to branch out into novels…

I already had an idea for a science fiction story in my head so I knew I had to seize the opportunity and capitalise on their interest in my fiction. I pitched the story and they wanted the draft. They read the draft and wanted the novel. And so it happened.

But this is only the beginning. I’m still networking, still researching, still writing. That last is the most important. Keep writing. Even if you’re tired, even if you’re busy, even if you’ve scrapped three novel drafts already (like me), if you want to get somewhere, just don’t stop.

It may, no, it will take time, effort and commitment, but keep at it and keep enjoying it. You’ll be amazed at how opportunities come together when you leave yourself open to them.


J. S. Collyer is a SciFi and Speculative Fiction Writer from Lancaster, UK.

‘Like’ her at www.facebook.com/jscollyer or follow her on Twitter @JexShinigami.

Fiction and blog found at jcollyer.wordpress.com and the Facebook event for ‘Fantasticon’, SciFi convention which will be Zero’s book launch, can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/715235208506964/?fref=ts