Almost two months later and I’ve gotten nowhere. Some might say that every day I am making progress toward my goals, but I see myself standing here doing the Pulp Fiction John Travolta, “Well? Where is it?” stance, and I am not amused. Some of my recent goals have required sending out a whole lot of resumes that have either returned rejections, or been complete scams. Scams are something I expect of emails about long-lost funds or watches, or from apartment listing on Craigslist (Yeah, I see you, you absolute jerks), but to have them show up on job listing sites? REALLY? How much of an absolute lowlife must one be to go that route?? Some of us are really trying to find work so we can advance our lives (and many more are just trying to survive), and then we come across this garbage? Shameful. Get your own life, you cretins.
Anyway, I’ve gotten nowhere with that and have concluded two things: I either need to already be in the area I am looking to work, or I am overqualified. Or both. I don’t think I’ve ever taken this long (8 months) to find work. I suppose some of it comes with not being willing to settle for less than what I want. I don’t believe in taking on a job that I’m just planning to quit and start over again elsewhere when the better job comes. I may as well wait it out, as much as it stalls me in the driveway. I can’t tell you how much I want that to change so I can get on with things that cannot be got from where I currently stand.
In other news: 366 Tales is going along as planned. I hit the halfway mark a few days ago, which should keep me on track to get this book out to the world for those wanting to start reading it on January 1st. I’ve taken to posting teaser snippets of stories once a day on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to read those, here are my handles:
Facebook (authoress page): https://www.facebook.com/HeatherEHutsellAuthoress
Lastly, in my post previous to this one, I mentioned wanting to travel and write. Like the job and the move, that has yet to come about. I realize I’m wasting time by going nowhere, but it’s rough wrapping my head around the idea of traveling and having to stay masked that has me stuck at the moment. I don’t mean the actual traveling part–I am 100% in favor of keeping others and myself safe during this dragged out pandemic–I mean once I’m in my destination. I guess there would be times where I could go without, but only if no one is around, and that’s rough to accept. People are part of the experience, after all. Maybe there will be a short trip to a closer location in June. I’m considering it. Until then, follow me on social media, get caught up on 366 Tales‘ snippets, and get your vaccines so we can all get back to more.
It’s never a bad idea to have a lot of dreams, because not all of them are going to come true. So: back up dreams, right??
The most recent dream I’ve come up with (not even 24 hours old yet), is to travel and write. While this isn’t exactly new, I am feeling drawn to a life of both fiction and non-fiction in the ever-changing world of that notion. I am feeling a sudden calling to travel and blog those experiences, while also writing fictional pieces that take place in those same locations. The trick is this: Who is going to pay for it? Who is going to pay my bills? It always comes down to money, doesn’t it? What ever happened to the super rich patrons of the arts who would choose an artist or author and say, “You know what? I will pay all of your expenses off of my old family money, that I will NEVER otherwise spend in my lifetime, so you can live out your dream!”??? Maybe I just made this up and no such people ever existed. They should. Let’s go ahead and take care of all of the other societal issues while we are at it, too. There is more than enough green molding the pockets of the uber-rich to see to that. Can you imagine?? Having billions and billions, but being such a stingy waste of space that you wouldn’t bother trying to get some stuff turned around in the world? That’s like being a superhero and saying, “Nah. I don’t feel like helping anyone.” What a waste. That money never should have gone to the people who have it and do nothing useful with it.
I want to do this. I want to travel and write based on my travels. I can picture it perfectly in dozens of locations, but if I’m just supposed to show up and take baby steps, but not worry about the “hows”, then just how far is that actually going to get me??
In other news: 366 Stories (which will eventually be changed to 366 Tales) is still coming along. I’m starving for inspiration, so I’m grateful that I am able to continue to complete at least one of these a day. There have been some interesting pieces to come out of this. Here’s hoping they’re as thought-provoking for the readers as they have been for me as their author. Since I never know what I’m going to write until I sit down and start one of these stories, I am perpetually eager to see what each new writing session will bring. Especially since I feel like I’m having to really stretch to get any ideas at all. And yes, due to that, these have gone into some strange areas. Still, I think it will be fun for all.
Yeah, so 2021 so far has been a mixed bag. While I haven’t touched Darling Orphan again yet, and have only final edited a couple of stories for The Doll Collection: Volume Three, the daily short stories have been going, well, daily. I have several dozen of them completed so far, but here’s the thing: 21 of them were more than a page long, and seeing as how the whole point behind 366 Stories was to have one single-page story per day of the year, this wasn’t going to work well. The average number of pages for those 21: Three. At the rate I was going, the book was going to be around or well over 1k pages. No one’s going to buy that because no one wants to hold a 1k+ page book, and sorry–I’m no longer adding titles to Kindle. So the best course of action, since I really like these 2+ page stories was to cut them and set them aside for their own collection, then do my best to stick to 1 pagers. The past week of this has gone according to plan (WHEW!) I haven’t made up for those 21 stories yet, but I will. Some mornings I get lucky and write two stories instead of one, but that’s a rarity at the moment.
That said, something I have come to realize about writing versus going out in the world: novel writing can tolerate that, because they like to mull and stew; they thrive on that solitude. Short stories do not. Short stories crave constant input and activity, change and stimulation, and that is making this project much more challenging than it should be. Until the pandemic tapers enough that I can again have a social life and see my people, I have to make do. I guess it’s good that I have more than 300 stories left to write, even though I think most of those will still have to be conceived as the first 15+21 have been. I guess I will find out how good or bad that makes them once I start giving them a read.
On a completely different note, I have suddenly become obsessed with going on a cruise. I’m guessing this is stemming from the desire for a drastic change in scenery, and as someone who is currently landlocked, I cannot imagine anything being more opposite of where I am now than that. I’ve never been one for the idea of cruises or even tropical locations, but I guess that’s changed! Again, and thanks to the continued selfish behavior of many, though, I won’t get to have this opportunity for some time yet. At least I can start dreaming about it and work out a plan.
In case you missed it, or I completely forgot to announce it, The Merry Widow of Frankenstein was released in October. My stab at an epic poem of what could have been, had Shelley’s Frankenstein taken a few different turns.
Petite, adorable, and looking a little roughed up. (The book, I mean.) If you would like a copy, you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1087901162?pf_rd_r=B2JFXB9X0KCWKFRTMT09&pf_rd_p=5ae2c7f8-e0c6-4f35-9071-dc3240e894a8
So, perhaps not all of my goals for 2021 are new. My productivity for 2020 was such garbage that several things I should have accomplished then are still on the steadfast platter that is my To-Do list. For starters:
Darling Orphan: The Case of Lucy Stewart (book 5 in The Case Files series) is SOOOOOO overdue to come out, yet there’s something about making final edits on a 500+ novel that just doesn’t grab me with enthusiasm. And as this book goes farther back on the series timeline, a lot of the underpinnings of Empress Irukandji: The Case of Charlotte Sloane are really coming to the surface. It’s dense and it requires a lot more focus for continuity than I’ve been able to muster. Regardless, it is once again a goal of mine to get it done and get it the heck out the door! The cover art has been done for over a year so guess who’s the hold up now?? That’s right: moi. And that sucks. Since my books in this series seem to come out in either February or October, it looks like that’s the target I’m shooting for. Here goes somethin’…
Also up for completion and release this year–The Doll Collection: Volume Three. The good news about this one is that all stories are complete, and a few of them have already undergone final edits! YAY. Even better: I also have a few of the illustrations for it already. Quite a few more to go, so I’m going to refrain from getting cocky about it, but hey–looks like this thirteen story collection could hit the shelves around October as well.
Speaking of October! POETRY! You may recall that in 2019, I got the wild idea (not that wild) of digging up one of those “Inktober” lists, but instead of drawing, I would write a poem to fit each prompt for each day of the month. Initially, I wanted to do short stories, but with school I didn’t have enough time to even consider it. So, me not being much of a poet and figuring that Poe’s ghost was probably bored and needing a little time away from the Neverwhere, I gave it a shot. In 2020, I went for a second round. For reasons unknown to me, I am in it for a third, and by the end of 2021, you should have a hard copy of all three years’ worth in hand. I hope you end up loving them, because that’s a lot of poetry!
So maybe trying to write a story a day wasn’t possible during school (totally not!). Well, I graduated so guess what? Why not go ahead and write a short story a day….for the entire year of 2021?!? Never fear–I am so on it! And so far, so good. There has been a pretty great mixture of genres, themes, messages, characters–quite a ride, and I have 340-some days left to go. Talk about a marathon. I cannot be sure of the release date for this, but it’s my hope that I’ll be on top of editing along the way (starting in May, most likely), and 366 Stories will be available no later than January 31st, 2022. Ugh. Who even wants to think that far ahead?? Well, truthfully, I do. I have other plans in the works that I can’t go into just yet, but they are BIG and EXCITING, and I’m looking forward to sharing them soon!
That’s about it for the moment as far as writing goes. In the world of conventions, so far my first show of the year will be virtual (FarPoint, February). Programming to be determined and I will post the link here when I have it. Shore Leave is also on my calendar for July, and like everyone else who is planning to go, I am hoping it will be safe enough for us all to attend in person. At the moment, it’s anyone’s guess if that will be the case. Same for the Erie Comic Con in September, though that one may be a better bet. Stay tuned on all of that.
Oh! Last but not least! Thrilling Adventure Yarns: 2, the pulp anthology (which, if you’ll recall, includes my story “Casting Couch”) put out by Crazy 8 Press was fully funded (including illustrations!!!) and is due to be released on February 19th. I will provide a link to that as well, when the time comes. That should be a wild ride!
More to come…
Hey! Lots going on over here, but the biggest at the moment is that the Kickstarter campaign for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2 has launched!
In case you haven’t read back through my posts, this is a collection of yet more pulp stories, headed up by Crazy 8 Press’s Robert Greenberger. Having read volume one, I cannot convey in words how excited I am to have a piece included in this anthology!
The authors involved include: Bob (of course!), Aaron Rosenberg, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Russ Colchamiro, Glenn Hauman, Paul Kupperberg, David Mack, Paige Daniels, Will Murray, Karissa Laurel, William Leisner, Danielle Ackley McPhail, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Greg Cox, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael A. Burstein, Richard White, Scott Pearson, and Sherri Cook Woosley! And me!
The rewards are spectacular, and the stretch goals…well, go see for yourself!
A direct link to the campaign for your convenience!
And now, a teaser from my story, “Casting Couch”….
There it was—Sizemore Studios—larger than life in an arch across the lot entrance, and all lit up even though it was just before ten in the morning. He stood there looking at it, a smile half-cocked under his thin, black mustache, and hands akimbo. It was nicer than the sign to the lot at Shortfellows Productions, but it wasn’t a flashy sign that had brought him here.
He passed through the gate and headed toward the main office building. There was plenty of tipping his hat to the ladies and tittering and whispering behind his back. People knew his face. The reactions were enough to float him above the packed-dirt roadways, if only in his head.
The office was bustling with the chatter of secretaries on telephones, writers commiserating over scripts, and various others coming and going. A good amount of that activity stopped when he walked in and removed his hat. He flashed smiles all around—they deserved that for giving him their undivided attention. He even winked at a few who recognized him and watched roses bloom on cheeks.
He turned to see a lovely, little blonde with sparkling blue eyes and a nice pink dress. She had plucked up the receiver from her telephone the moment he walked in, likely to announce his arrival to the boss, and was now practically melting at his feet.
“Why, yes, miss?”
“Ms. Valentine will see you now.”
He knew exactly who Ms. Valentine was. Judith. He’d never met her before, but someone like her didn’t go long without someone like him knowing about her, or vice versa. Sure, Judith made her sound in charge—and she was, unusual as those things tended to be. But Valentine? Valentine was soft, warm, complacent. She’d probably give him anything he asked for, she just didn’t know it yet. Why she’d never requested a meeting with him before now, he didn’t know. Shortfellows had held him over well enough, kept him on the silver screen, made sure he had his public eating out of the palm of his hand. But Sizemore—better late than never.
Even though it was rumored that Shortfellows would catch up to raking in the same sort of dough Sizemore did, it had yet to happen. No one could really blame him for wanting to test the waters between studios to see who would pay top dollar for him. Maybe he could start a wage war in all this, making it better for everyone, all the way down the payroll. Just as long as, in the end, he was the one who ended up making bank.
The blonde doll went to a dark, austere-looking door and then opened it, quickly stepping aside so he could enter. From behind a heavy desk of cherry wood, a tall, voluptuous brunette in a scarlet suit stood up. Her eyes were so dark they were black, and there was an exciting, fierce look about her. She wasn’t of the petite model brand like the secretary, but he couldn’t argue that she was rather attractive in her own way.
“Mister Ducats—” She came around the desk to shake his hand.
“Misses Valentine. Pleasure to finally meet you.”
The Eastern European accent that carried her words sent a delightful buzz through him as her hand remained in his.
“Is that so?”
“It is.” She withdrew her hand before he could give it a squeeze and resumed her place behind the desk. “Please, sit.”
He took a glance around and spied a black leather sofa. “Is that your casting couch?” he asked with a wink. She didn’t respond, visibly unimpressed, so he took a seat on a matching armchair that squeaked under him in the suggestive way only leather could.
“So,” he began. “This is a surprise—being invited here. Looking to do a little star-napping?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Well, I’m sure you know—I’ve been acting for Shortfellows. And the invitation was from you, was it not?”
“Mister Ducats—stage name, is it? Buck Ducats?”
“Yes, ma’am. It didn’t seem likely someone named Charlie Diddle was destined for the pictures—” He reined in the twang in his voice that only appeared anymore when mentioning his real name. “—So, I changed it.”
“Mm.” Her nod was curt and of disinterest. “Mister Ducats, I’d hardly consider you to be a star just yet—” The sting of her jab was unexpected, and Buck silently soothed it with a veil of smugness. What did she know? “But it has not gone unnoticed that your popularity has grown substantially over the past year—”
“So it would seem.”
“I invited you directly because I think you have the potential to become the star you think you are. Clearly, you are here because you’re interested in that prospect.”
“You’re twenty-four, yes? You’ve done—” She looked at her notes. “Two films so far. I’m sure you’ve been led to believe that your face on the screen means big dollars for any studio that you’re a part of.”
“Well, believe it or not, Mister Ducats, your face has nothing to do with it—it’s your voice. That’s where your value is and, look—I’m not going to mince words, Mister Ducats—whatever contract you may have with Shortfellows, I will buy it out. I want you to work for me. For Sizemore Studios.”
The idea of making the switch—and so easily—was just as intriguing to him as the mysterious woman who offered to make it happen.
“You can do that?”
“Mister Ducats, would you even be here if you thought there’d be any complications for you?”
He would have come no matter what, just to see what it was all about, but Shortfellows was in the game for the money. Surely, they’d understand that he was, too.
“Well, no. But it just so happens that those two films I did for them were all I was scheduled to do, so you don’t really need to bother them about it.”
“Oh? Is that what was in your contract?”
“Oh, sure. Kind of a disappointment that was all, but I guess they didn’t see what you do—things switching from silent pictures to talkies and all.”
“So, you are interested then?”
The almost impatient prompt struck up visions of flashing camera bulbs and endless champagne in Buck’s thoughts. She had invited him, in a world where a person’s voice in film was starting to equate to gold, and it was he her studio wanted. Never minding that something as naturally occurring as his voice was out of his control. Buck managed to refrain from huffing on his knuckles and then dusting them across his lapel.
When his pause was mistaken for indecision, she added, “You’ll always have top billing with us, and be paid accordingly.”
Buck was suddenly struck with elation over it all and this seemingly out-of-nowhere luck. “When should I start?”
“Tomorrow. And seeing as how I couldn’t locate your agent—”
“Yeah, I don’t have one.”
“I see,” she said after a pause. “Well, in any case, we have a new script that you can read for, though the part was practically written for you. Formalities—I’m sure you understand.”
“Oh, of course.
“Good. Of course, if you work for me—and Sizemore—it will be exclusively. You will be under a new contract. We don’t want you working for any other studios.”
“Naturally,” he accepted with a shrug and a schmoozy smile.
“Not even small, independent ones. I know how inconsequential they may seem. I promise you: it will be worth your time. You think you’re a star now? You cannot imagine what you could become with us.”
So there you have it! What will become of Buck Ducats?? Back our Kickstarter for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2 and find out!
In the time since my last entry, I’ve continued to work from home due to the continued spread of COVID-19, the world (namely the states) have erupted with social unrest because too many humans still don’t know how to act decent and worthy of the air they breathe, and I experienced traveling during both of these pandemics.
I want to say I’ve been making the most of my time, spending it creatively and wisely, but it’s been a struggle. I’ve finished two short stories, written a grip of pages for a third; I’ve written a few local interest stories for my organization’s sister site, but since the semester ended, I have not been nearly as creative as I would have liked to be. It’s all in there–the fuel, the ideas–but nothing wants to budge.
It’s pretty easy to get angry about this–to look back at the work of my predecessors in literature who went through equally trying (if not worse) times, and see that they were highly productive. At the very least, they turned out works that are still praised today, one hundred or more years ago. Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I come up with something brilliant, life-changing for others–something that brings a sense of justice, grace, and positive restoration to this horrific circumstance? I’ve been cheated out of so many other things in this lifetime–why can’t I have and also give this?
There is no making up for anything. We’d all like to think so, but my life has so far proven that it’s a myth. The tails tied onto my kite that are supposed to help it soar higher only weigh it down more. There are some things I can do to try and cut those loose, but every small victory ribbon has the potential to catch on some dead and gnarled branch. Maybe there’s still a bud of a green leaf on there–that little bit of life that captures my interest, but will never grow and become free to its and my fullest delight–and ultimately, it just stunts me more and makes me withdraw even further from the things that could still offer the good–why take the risk? Because I’m a fool–I will always take the risk. It’s just that the temptations have to be that much more intriguing, that much more impressive and that’s a rarity. And when it comes to people…well, let’s just say that a few have caused the bar to be higher for all the rest. Don’t blame me–blame them.
There’s an early morning ramble for you. Back on task–
I’ve put the story writing on hold for the sake of trying to edit through Darling Orphan. It’s almost criminal that it’s been hanging out there for so long. And just as I said the last time: it needs to be done. There’s so much in it that I need to put to rest, and the only way to do it is to get the book cleaned up and released. Here’s hoping it will at long last see that moment..
And as of Monday, I’ll be heading into a third week. Some things are easing up as far as adjusting to all of this goes, so that is a good thing. I’m still not where I want to be on a creative level. I will have an assignment due for my Creative Writing class (yes, I am in one to fulfill my degree requirements, and yes, it does feel weird), by the end of the upcoming week, so at least that will push me. As it’s a personal essay and I have, for the past few years, tried to identify what exactly is the definition of “Home”, I think I have my work cut out for me in getting that down on paper. Or, in this case: on the computer. (And side note: I have recently determined what “Home” is to me, have figured out where that is, and am taking steps to get there. It’s quite exciting, to say the least!)
I just finished reading through “The Merry Widow of Frankenstein”, and after I clean a few bits of that up, I will start to format it for publication. I wish I had a good audio recording program so I could put it (and the rest of my work) out in that format, but I don’t and I make too many mistakes reading out loud to offer raw content. Not a priority right now, but it’s still on a warm burner.
I’m hoping my being able to get through the editing of the poem means I’m adjusting enough to this new “norm” to be able to get back into other projects with more gusto. At the very least, the stuff needing edited. I forgot to mention it in the last post, but Darling Orphan is STILL hanging out there. While it would be a great book to plunge my concentration into, I’m afraid it’s going to require far more than a survival mode mood will allow for. I’m trying to just let it be for now. It’s time will come. If memory serves, I’ve hit such walls before with other books, and they still got done. If only I could blaze through ALL of my projects like I do with some of them. Speaking of which: I don’t think I mentioned that, a few months back, I started a sequel to In the Clothing of Wolves. Again, it will be a novella, though this one will be in epistolary form. Something new I wanted to test out. I have several pages of it written, though by no means close to the majority of it. I never intended to write a sequel to that one–I kind of liked where it ended–but sadly, when a muse misbehaves to detrimental proportions, we creators do what we must to clean up the internal damage. For more details on that, you’re just going to have to read it. I have no predicted release date on that one at this time.
One last thing before I end this post: A few nights ago, I participated in a Zoom session with my Creative Writing class to discuss the upcoming personal essay assignment, as well as creative non-fiction in general. One of the things we were directed to was Brevity Magazine. I so love that format of storytelling, that one of my immediate goals is to see what stories I might have in my archives (memory) to tell in that fashion–and I do have hundreds of them. Not only could it be a great place to start as far as getting more of my work out into the world, but short reflections like that might be the perfect composition style for a time like this, and to help me feel like I’m actually being productive. All good things.
Take care, everyone, and be well.
Like many, I am currently quarantined in my home while COVID-19 runs rampant, and those in power here continue to abuse their privilege of office and exacerbate the problem. First of all, I want to wish everyone reading this well. Be safe. Take great care of yourself and those around you. Yes, I am onboard with trying to reduce the casualties (and more so, the fatalities) of the virus, and have yet to wrap my head around what could possibly be going on in the heads of those who are incapable of taking this seriously. I’m thinking about everyone I know and love and care about, and I’m not willing to picture the loss of them due to the stupidity of others with any sense of peace or grace. I know I’m not at all alone in that.
Do your part, if you aren’t already. Be a bigger person. Believe the hype that this is serious and will cyclone it’s way through all of our lives somehow. No one is immune to either the virus itself or the aftermath. No one. Don’t disappoint me.
So what am I doing in this time?
I’m grateful to say that I can work from home. It hasn’t been easy, as I’ve long been a believer that work should stay at work and not enter my creative space. I spend my “workday” at my kitchen table, which is the least comfortable place to sit (especially for 8 hours), drawing mental barriers to keep the rest of this tiny apartment sacred. Sure, my work is important and I’m grateful to have that as well. Some lines you just don’t cross and activities you don’t mix. For the sake of my sanity, it has to be this way, or I’ll do a half-assed job of everything, professional, creative-professional, or otherwise. Boundaries, people.
It’s been particularly challenging to stay creative since my quarantine. Working-from-home started on March 16th. My last day out was March 14th, and I’ve only been to the store once–March 20th. I constantly feel like I’m waiting on something (maybe from being on top of my work email during the workdays?), and can’t focus enough to get through much. Thankfully, I finished “The Merry Widow of Frankenstein” before WFH started (barely). I’ve stumbled through some editing on “Cradled” for The Doll Collection: Volume Three. I’ve read through about a third of “The Merry Widow…” to see how it sounds (so far, so good), and wrote a couple of pretty lame poems. At some point before all this, I started another pulp story called “High Horse”, and last night, started yet another one titled “Adam’s Apple”. As you may have noticed from previous posts here, “Casting Couch” and “Dead Drop” have been written, and yes–eventually I will put a whole alphabet’s worth into a single book. By then, “Casting Couch” will be available for republishing, after it’s appearance in Crazy 8 Press’ Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Volume 2. I don’t expect to get through 20-some stories quickly, so timing on that should work out well.
Speaking of Crazy 8 Press: we met our goal for funding BAD ASS MOMS, and I believe it will still be out in July, as expected, though it’s too early to know if we’ll launch it at Shore Leave. So many events have been cancelled and that’s just far enough out that it’s hard to say. Here’s hoping it will be a go.
At the end of the last post, I mentioned reading the first pages or so of my stories and posting the videos. I attempted to do this but with some technical difficulties, so I will have to revisit that once I find a way around it. I was recording through my laptop, but may have to resort to using my phone, since I seem to be able to do it that way and upload with no problem. Not sure what the issue was via the laptop. I did it through a program I’ve never used before, so… Probably operator error.
Not much else to report at the moment. Just trying to keep on keepin’ on, like everyone else, and not let anything but positivity lead the way. As always, the hardest part of that is in not knowing what is on the horizon…