Writer of the Future!

I keep forgetting to brag about this… my scifi/western novelette, Hundred Years A Day, was awarded Silver Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest for the first quarter in 2020! Wooooo!

This story’s an odd fish, written in first person POV in fairly harsh vernacular. Gritty, dark, funny, sad. Not the most accessible thing I’ve ever tried to do. At 16,000 words it’s a funky length, too — far too long to submit to most magazines. I did find some publishers on Duotrope who take long short stories and novelettes, so I’ll do another edit, maybe add in a couple scenes I originally cut for length, and see what traction the story can find. If not, I’ll self publish with some cool artwork. Not quite a graphic novel, but ink illustrations along the way like an old John Carter edition.

My greatest regret is that I couldn’t quite scrape into the next tier, Runner Up. Along with getting published, these folks get a professional critique and a fancy dinner along with the GIF.* It’s the missed critique that haunts me…

* Full disclosure: the above image is actually a JPEG. ‘GIF’ is more impactful, don’t you think?

You only get to write one first novel…

This one’s mine:


It’s young adult Fantasy/Science Fiction, subcategorized as Weird Western and Steampunk. The blurb reads:

Seven strangers shipwrecked on mysterious Circle-X Island band together to defend a dying village from an ancient reawakening evil.

Of course I appreciate your support, feedback, and reviews!

This was a spur of the moment decision to write, and I never had written so much as a complete short story that I can recall. In fact, the source material was in service of a role-playing adventure I was designing. My background is in game design and entertainment, so this was not unusual. But, as I continued to develop the concept I realized I was much more interested in the story than the game.

I woke up November  1, 2014 to an email from NaNoWriMo telling me it was time to start writing my novel. It was the first day of National Novel Writing Month.  This event and organization had captured my imagination not long before, and I stuck my name on their mailing list.

Humans can write a novel in a month?

Well, if someone out there can legitimately pen a novel in a month (50,000 words — not War and Peace, but it still counts,) I figured I could do it in two or three. I already had a solid outline, characters, and the feedback from running beta tests of my game concept. That left only having to learn the entire craft.

Many revisions later, including a professional content edit, and at least a year down the road, I figured it was done enough. I could open to any page and not actively cringe. People I don’t know have bought, read, and liked it. Weird, but I have to say it’s been more successful than I expected.

It’s published under a pen name, Archer Diman. The letters share an eerie similarity to those in Eric Hardman. I wanted to be able to experiment with the self-publishing process without using my professional name, and also to insulate the feedback from anyone who might know me and have a bias. This has worked out really well!

My experience with Amazon publishing has been mixed, but mostly positive. This book has been atop numerous Amazon lists in the US and UK, like #1 Young Adult Steampunk. Yet that status is entirely tied to Amazon promotions that I can only run once a quarter. In between promotions it seems invisible, languishing. Getting it up and running was super easy, though, and their publishing experience itself has been solid. It’s even available in on-demand paperback.

I’ll put out a second edition sometime this year with a new cover, dedications, etc. If there’s ever demand, I’ve a couple more short novels in mind for this cast and location, too.

I’ve written way better short stories and an epic fantasy novel since, but you only get one first novel. It was never going to be my best unless it was the last.

All told, I’m a proud poppa =)

Cavs Win the Title

Love to NE Ohio tonight, congrats to the Cavs, and respect to the Warriors for an amazing series and playoff run.

I am a Lakers fan first and always, and LA is my hometown, but I was born in Ohio and moved back there thirteen years ago to witness an amazing talent develop first hand. We saw the games, the scrimmages, the fan events, and our boys met the team and got the signatures.

LeBron blew my mind and brought to mind my childhood hero, Magic Johnson. James never wanted to be the next Michael and it was never a good comparison. He’s about the pass, the triple double, as much as the dunks. And I remember the year he added the chase-down block to his game–who does that?

And then he bailed for Miami and I loathed his selfishness like everybody. He made me think of Kobe: the ego that destroyed one of the great partnerships in the history of the game.

When LeBron returned to Cleveland it was the pivot in his career and, as with Kobe, things were complicated with the fans.

Redemption is in the heart of beholder–or Witness–something every fan will have to weigh for themselves. But, LeBron has atoned. Maybe Kyrie should have gotten that MVP even, but that’s ok. It was LeBron’s night. Congratulations, from steamy LA.

And as for the game of basketball? Well, I’m glad there’s still more than one way to win a championship, dominant strategies ruin a game. This year the old truths won out:

Live by the three, die by the three,
the And1 is greater than the three,
And defense wins championships.

Also… Go Lakers, see you soon Luke Walton, and LeBron you are welcome here anytime =D

Mini Review of Ken’s Ramen, Providence RI

Top Three Impressions of Ken’s Ramen – You Won’t Believe Number 2!

For a ramen virgin (no, what we ate in college does not count), a first-time experience at Ken’s Ramen was the kind of revelation more worldly gourmands might recall wistfully. Having no prior experience with ramen joints, everything fascinated; from new tools and tastes to their fill-in-the-blanks ordering protocol. Here are my top three impressions to a n00b:

1) Real ramen is *complex*.
Yeah, there’s depth to a bowl of ramen… it starts thin but the broth deepens in character, color, even texture as you plumb the lower strata. About midway through a warm food glow pervades ones consciousness and, in that elevated state, individual shitakes and impossibly tender chicken pulls become both more distinct and blend completely together in a paradoxical harmony. I likey.

2) They could have called it “Rap & Ramen”
The vibe is East Coast Yakuza, circa mid ’90s. I’m not casually slangin stereotypes here, their tee-shirts proclaim “cartel” and the soundtrack prominently features Biggie and Wu. In fact, I felt like I was living scenes from my favorite graphic novel from last year, ‘Get Jiro’ (the Anthony Bourdain penned dystopian future food gangsta fantasy.) This is all good with me, but may be off-putting to some foodie factions.

3) Longitudinal Studies Required
For a seemingly simple menu, there’s an awful lot I have to go back and try! All the ingredients were of terrific quality and attentively prepared; what’s great is that there are a good number of add-ons and variations to experiment with. So, I’ll be going back to try their thick noodles and dipping goo, the braised egg, blackened pork, sea urchin roe, and more. I had the stock Chicken Paitan this time to establish a base line experience, but sampling my son’s vegetarian broth made me wish for a cow’s anatomy – I’m thinking four stomachs here, not impressive udders.