Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Black Friday XI – The Cratchiting

Oh, hey. Long time no see. Yeah, I know. The ranty writing blog’s been very, very neglected this year. Sorry. I’ll talk about that in a little bit.

First, I’d like to take this moment to extend my annual Black Friday offer to those of you who may need it. And since Black Friday’s always such a mess, I figured I’d do it on Wednesday. Y’know, when everyone’s busy cooking pie for tomorrow.

What’s the Black Friday offer? Okay, for all the new folks...

 Actually, let me give you a little background first.

I grew up kinda poor at points in my childhood. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but yeah... I was absolutely one of the poor kids in my school system. For a couple years. And I can look back now and see how it shaped the way I view some things today.

When I became a full time writer... I was poor again. Well below the poverty line poor. Phone-shut-off-no-internet-and-stealing-toilet-paper-from-the-library poor. All-our-shopping-at-the-99-Cent-Store poor. I was writing for a screenwriting magazine and had a chance to sit down and talk with Shane Freakin’ Black over a coffee or three as part of a work assignment... and I had to turn it down. I didn’t have enough money to buy a coffee. Or to get me across the city to where he was.

Yeah. I literally didn’t have enough money to go work.

Being poor’s a constant, gut-churning feeling of tension. Of being painfully aware of what you don’t have and what you can’t do. There are some messed up folks who love to bellow about “nanny states” and “entitlements” but the simple truth is that the vast majority of poor people don’t abuse the system. They’re way too busy just trying to survive with their home, their health, and maybe just a shred of dignity. My partner and I went through three years like that. Three years of feeling constantly sick with despair, just waiting for the inevitable bill or emergency that’d destroy us.

And for the past ten or fifteen years, a lot of folks have made it painfully clear that they judge you because of that poverty. They find you lacking as a person because of it. And that just adds to the feelings of tension.

This feeling’s even worse at the holidays. Because so much of the holidays is about giving, and when you’re poor you just... you’ve got nothing to give. You can' buy things. You can't travel. Half the time you can't even afford to make something, which you couldn't get to them anyway because travel includes "across the city" and "the other side of town." It doesn’t matter how much you care about that person, it doesn’t matter how much you want to. It doesn’t matter because you’ve got nothing.

And again... you can feel people judging you over it. At every office party or gathering of friends or family dinner. There’s almost always somebody there judging you for being trapped and powerless.

It sucks.

This deep-in-your-gut feeling manages to be even worse at the holidays. So much of this season’s about giving, and when you’re poor you just... you’ve got nothing to give. It doesn’t matter how much you care about someone, it doesn’t matter how much you want to just feel normal and give them something—anything—to express that caring. It doesn’t matter because you’ve got nothing.

And again... you can feel people judging you over it. At every office party or gathering of friends or family dinner. You’re trapped and powerless and somebody’s judging you for it. Hell, you end up judging yourself, and it just becomes this endless cycle of guilt and resentment and desperation. I really hope that none of you reading this are there right now, feeling helpless and sick with despair. Because like I said before, it seriously sucks to be in that position

But if this is where you are right now—maybe I can help.

If you can’t afford gifts for your family or friends this season, shoot me note at my old business email-- peterclines101@yahoo.com. I’ve got a bunch of author’s copies I’ll autograph to whoever you want and mail out to you—or to someone else, if you need it shipped. I can even gift wrap if you need it. I’ll send them out for as long as the books last. You can request a specific book but I can’t promise anything on that end.

Know what? I’ve got some audiobook sets, too. Yeah, those big wallets of CDs. If audiobooks work better, just say so. I still can’t promise which one you’ll get, but if it’d be better for the person you’re gifting, just say so.

And hey—almost every year a few folks offer to chip in and help me out with this. Thank you so much for the thought, but you don’t need me to do that. You can go be fantastic people all on your own. I guarantee, there’s a toy bank or food bank or some kind of program within ten miles of you right now that could really use some help. And you could be the person to give that help.

One more time, sorry to hammer it home but... this offer’s for those of you who need some help getting gifts for others. The people who are pulling unemployment, cutting back on everything, and feeling trapped because they can’t afford gifts for family or friends. It’s not so you can recommend someone who might like a free book. You could do that for them, too—go get them a book. Then you’re helping your friend and your local bookstore. And I’ve got some events coming up so you can buy signed books if you want.

Also... I’m also doing this on the honor system. If you’re only trying to save yourself some money or score an autographed book, I won’t be able to stop you. Just know that you’re a deplorable person and you’re taking a potential bright moment away from someone who needs it this holiday season. And you’ll probably burn in the pits of Hell before Krampus feeds your cajun-fried corpse to a squale.

NOW... all that said...

This may be the last post here on the ranty writing blog. Emphasis on here. Recent social media disruptions have lined up with some of my own plans, and I’m pulling a lot of stuff all under one umbrella. The ranty writing blog is going to migrate over to PeterClines.com, which is getting a facelift and an update and will hopefully be your place for all things weird-story related from here on.

Before anyone gets worried... I’m not going to delete the ranty writing blog here on Blogspot. Not yet, anyway. So if you’ve bookmarked anything, you’re still good for now. But just be aware everything new is going to be over there.

Anyway... there’s your Black Friday offer and your ranty writing blog update. I’m sure we’ll talk again soon when I remind you of all the books I’ve written that make wonderful gifts and also do my “cool books I read this year” list.

Happy Holidays.

Monday, May 23, 2022

It Was Ten Years Ago Today...

And now, one of those quick commemorative posts! Yeah, I know I owe you all a month or so of real posts. I haven't forgotten. Sorry this has continued to be shoved down the priority list.

Did you know it was ten years ago today that Crypticon 2012 opened in Seattle?

Yeah, I know Crypticon 2022 just ended yesterday. Calendars are funny.

Did you also know I also released a new book at said Crypticon?

The year before I‘d pitched my publisher a zombies on the moon story, but he’d just bought a zombies in space book and didn’t want to do two right on top of each other. So I pitched this other half-formed mystery/ sci-fi/ horror idea I’d been kicking around. He said sure, go for it. I wrote it, he read it, told me it was one of his favorite things he ever seen. He absolutely loved it.

He then also warned me that every book he’d ever picked up that he absolutely, completely loved had bombed. Sooooooo... I should be prepared.

It was supposed to come out in June of 2012, but as a surprise the publisher got twenty copies (maaaybe twenty four???) printed up for Crypticon, where a bunch of the press’s authors were going to be (including Craig diLouie, Jessica Meigs, Timothy Long, Eloise Knapp, and more)

I gave one of those first copies to Kelly Young of Strange Aeons Magazine (and podcast) who was also at Crypticon because I was pretty sure he’d like it. Sold all of them that weekend (except for one I kept for myself). And then the book came out on Amazon and Audible (let’s throw some more thanks to Ray Porter) and, much to everyone’s surprise—me more than anyone else—it turned out to be somewhat popular. So in so many ways this is also the ten year anniversary of when my life turned around, I clawed my way out of poverty, and realized I could make a living telling weird little stories.

Happy tenth birthday to ~14~ , my weird little novel that could. And so many, many thanks to all of you who found it, told some friends about it, and wrote kind reviews about it.


Friday, April 29, 2022

State of Things...

Hey. Interesting week, huh?

First off, many thanks to all of you for your patience. Probably looks dumb as hell, guy who’s got his dream job complaining about being burned out. But the truth is, even a dream job is still a job. And I think for all of us, trying to do your job for the past two years has just been brutal. And it all finally caught up with me. I guess the one big difference is I’m in the very fortunate position of just being able to throw my hands up and say “I’m done” for a week or three.

And it’s helped immensely. I feel rested for the first time in months (almost since before Halloween, really). The new book is back on track. I even think I’ve got a handle on how to deal with the disconnect between my new word processing program (say hello, LibreOffice Writer) and the blog site here. Yes, you may have noticed some odd formatting over the past half-dozen or so posts.

So again, thanks to all of you for your patience.

Anyway... I know I promised to talk about languages next time I put up something new, but I figured it’s probably worth mentioning that big potential shift coming up in the internet. You know. That guy. The one with so much money he literally doesn’t know what to do with it, so he just keeps making questionable choices and never suffering any repercussions. Will things go forward? Will they collapse? Will he get bored and sort of wander off like he’s done for so many other loudly proclaimed offers and deals?

Who knows.

No, seriously. I think there’s good reason to be worried if a guy like that ended up in charge of a major worldwide communication system. He has an extreme “rich white man/ never dealt with a real problem in my life” view of the world. I also think... well, like I mentioned above, he does have a real follow-through problem. I’d say it’s 50-50 at best that this sale even happens. Seriously.

It’s an odd bit of synchronicity that just as I’m coming back from a break on this particular platform, as my fellow youths like to say, and there’s a potential upset at the other big one I spend a lot of time at. Makes you think, as my fellow olds often say. About social media and the role it plays in our lives and our careers.

For a few months now I’ve been looking at this site (which is still here on Blogspot, fer cripes sake) and thinking I should really migrate it over to my website and have everything contained there. One thing this past week’s highlighted is how fragile things can be on the internet. One buyout, one new executive who doesn’t like that balance sheet, and everything can change in minutes. Like, actual minutes.

I also know one reason I’ve been dragging my feet on doing it is because I’ll lose all the links in these posts. Bam, all that interconnectedness and easy reference gone. I could rebuild it, but it’d take time. A lot of time. And I am, y’know, working on other things...

All that said, I’m probably going to stay on Twitter for the foreseeable future. We’ll have to see how it goes there over the next few months. If you’re so interested, there’s also Instagram, which is mostly toys and cats, yeah, but some book stuff too. With all this going on, I set up an account on Counter.Social just because a few folks I know were over there and I figured it might not be a bad thing to claim my name there, so to speak. And someone reminded me I had a Mastodon account I hadn’t used in a while, so I’ve dusted that off and made sure the engine still runs. If you’re on any of these sites, please come find me and listen to my daily prattling. If nothing else, you’ll know when this site gets updated.

And please do keep an eye out here. I’ve got a few cool things planned out for the month of May. I think they’re cool, anyway. That foreign language post, talkin’ about three act structure a bit, and maybe a rambly birthday post or two, as I’ve done once or thrice in the past.

So we’ve all got that to look forward to.

Until then, go write.