Strange Horizons Fund Drive

The magazine I volunteer for, Strange Horizons, is running an annual fund drive right now. Details:

This year’s fund drive is underway! We’re aiming to raise $11,000 to fund the next year of Strange Horizons. You can read more and donate here, see the list of donor prizes here and read bonus content as it is published here. We just published Maureen Kincaid Speller’s review of Ben Aaronovitch’s Moon Over Soho. Help us get to $3,000 to read our next piece of bonus content: “Teffeu: From a Library at Taarona”, a new story by Rose Lemberg, with podcast reading by Anaea Lay!

Please, go donate now and spread the word! You can see our progress below, or on the Strange Horizons site.

New Site

I’m working on a new web site and had some inspiration last night (my insomnia kicked in, then my brain filled up the time generating ideas). I’ve got quite a bit done on it; it’s WordPress-based, several custom post types, still needs a few more extras and some theme work to finish.

I’m hoping to have something together by mid to late August.

I also got to thinking about starting a hosted WordPress network for writers. A lot of these things exist in other capacities, so I’m not sure how much interest there would be in it.

Maintaining an Active Blog

What’s the trick behind maintaining an active blog?

Writing.

I have a hard time with this for a number of reasons. Rather than going into that, here’s my plan for getting this blog off the ground and giving it fresh content daily.

  1. Book reviews – I’m volunteering with Strange Horizons as a web master and US contact manager. I get to see a number of the upcoming releases, and potentially read/review some of them. I also read a lot on my own (eight to ten books a month, usually). Rather than just reading and shelving the books, I’m going to start writing my thoughts of them down here to share.
  2. WordPress goodies – I’m a WordPress developer by trade and have a lot of nuggets packed away in my head. I’m an autodidact, so I have a lot to share with how I got from being a run-of-the-mill English major to a software developer at a leading start-up company, Automattic.
  3. Personal writing – I’m college-trained as a writer and editor, and have rarely used the skills, despite it being a large part of my self-identity. I’m going to start going through my writing archives, pulling and re-writing pieces, and posting them here. I’d also like to get involved more with editing, so if anyone reading this has opportunities (doesn’t have to be paid), please contact me via the Contact link.

Three steps. The last key ingredient for this to work is to write every day. No matter what it is or how long it is, I must publish something here every day.

Family, Cooking, a Chili Recipe

One of the things I’ve been doing a lot more is cooking at home. I used to use my pain disorder as an excuse to not cook, and since I’m the primary cook in the house, that would mean we would end up ordering or eating out often.

As you may imagine, this can be expensive, in both financial and health ways.

Over the last few months, we’ve been eating in, at home, and experimenting with different recipes to find a variety of things that we like. And, not only are we finding awesome, cheap things, that we like to eat, but we are all healthier. Both Caroline and I are losing weight and we get to spend more time as a family around the dinner table.

Long story short, I want to share one of our favorite recipes with you. This is my slow cooker chili recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups tomato juice
15 ounce can tomato sauce
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
27 ounce can dark red kidney beans
26.5 ounce can black beans
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 lb ground beef or turkey, browned
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions

Sauté onion and green pepper in skillet for 2 minutes. Add ground beef or turkey to skillet and cook until browned.

Mix all ingredients in 4 or 6 quart crock pot.

Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.

I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it!

Karma

Do you believe in karma?

I do.

One year ago, I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii. I did and while I was there, Caroline and the girls came down with severe cases of the stomach flu.

Caroline is right now in Hawaii, likely sleeping off the timezone changes. I had the pleasure of waking up to my eldest daughter having had a bad case of diarrhea in her sleep (mess doesn’t even begin to describe the result).

Fingers are crossed and I’m knocking on wood that this is as far as the karmic wheel turns for me. I GET IT!

Ugh…

It’s A New Year

As I look back over the last year or so, there are a lot of things that stand out to me.

My oldest daughter turned 4 in December; my youngest turned 1 in September. This is unbelievable to me because I don’t know where all the time went and I don’t want them to grow up so fast. Every moment (aside from the tantrums/screaming (okay, even those moments, as painful as they are)) is a precious moment to me. I don’t want to miss anything with my girls and I feel like I’ve already missed a collective 5 years.

I’ve traveled close to or sightly more than 50,000 miles in the last year, which, when compared to how much of a homebody I was before joining Automattic, is a major achievement unto itself. Even with this many miles under my belt, every time I think about and start planning a trip away from home I get butterflies in my stomach. I don’t like leaving the girls behind; I’d like nothing more than to bring them with me, though I know I wouldn’t see them because I’d be working with my team.

I also realize this marks three years or so of being disconnected from my family. Through the therapy I’ve been in and the disconnection, I’ve solved a lot of emotional blocks I’ve had for years and grown a lot as a person. There was a lot of fear and personal stigma that was holding me back before that, now, with a lot of help from a lot of people around me, I’m finally overcoming. It feels great to be coming into my own, so to speak, and finding my footing in the world.

There’s a lot going on at work that has me excited for the future, and I’m getting started on my writing again, which makes me very happy!

Random Tidbit: New music: Mumford and Sons, Flogging Molly

Fatherhood After Four Years

Man, I can’t believe it has been four years. Next month, Ellie turns four. Hard to believe.

At the same time, something about it just feels right. I’ve done a lot of different things over the years for “work;” tech support, fast food worker, general grunt work, computer sales, software engineering, and various other stuff. None of it, though, has come to me as naturally, or as passionately and happily, as being a parent and a father. The role is just something that I can do, without worrying that I’m doing something wrong or that someone is looking over my shoulder.

Oh, sure, I have my moments where I feel like a complete failure as a parent, but I think every good parent has those moments. It is when your kid cuts their finger on a tin can because you didn’t put it out of their reach, or you weren’t watching close enough and they fell and split their lip. These things happen, but you feel like you should have been there to prevent it. Yeah, but after you get past the moment, you realize that you are still a good parent.

I love cooking dinner for, and with, my girls. We’ve taken to having a family dinner every night, which both Ellie and Gwen love. They are a class act, sitting across from each other at the table. It also gives me a lot of time doing something other than sitting in front of the television, which makes me feel worlds better about myself.

And now I’m writing more. That is one of the best things ever. This will be the second blog post this week, not to mention that I’ve written 800 words of fiction. I’ve tried to keep up with NaNoWriMo, but I don’t think I’ll keep pace with it. I’ll use it as a way to motivate writing, but I won’t force myself into that goal.

Next post will include some thoughts on my fiction. See you then!

A Writing Tip

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is write more every day. I’ve tried blogging, but that can be cumbersomely public. I’ve tried journaling by hand, but medical issues prevent that day-to-day. But, I did find something that, for the last couple of days, seems to have helped increase my writing productivity.

Months ago, one of my coworkers mentioned 750words.com to me. I didn’t give it a try then, because I still had it in mind that I wanted to keep everything on my blog, if I was going to do something online. Fast forward to now, and I’ve come to realize that I need to do something and I don’t like to have to remember to mark entries as private, nor do I want to take the chance that something will slip through the cracks. Better to have everything separate.

So the idea behind 750words is simple: it is just simple, private, unfiltered journaling on a private site, every day. You can see who else is writing, but not WHAT they are writing. There are monthly challenges, badges, daily points, and other encouragements to keep you posting every day.

I’m only two days in, but I’m already liking the concept and can see myself sticking with it for awhile. You should give it a shot, too.

Tim, On Writing

One of the most common questions out there for writers (and I’m as guilty of anyone of asking it) is, “How do you get published?” It comes in many forms: how to break-in to the business, what is the best genre to write in or the best story to tell, etc.

None of that really matters, though.

Why?

Because you aren’t writing, that’s why.

This is a hard and painful truth, especially for me. I call myself a writer and a storyteller. I consider myself one and have since I was a kid. But the hard and fast truth is that I don’t put ass in chair and write often enough to “break into the business” or “get published.”

I daydream a lot, write myself notes, scribble story ideas here and there, and generally have some fun with the idea of being a “real storyteller” someday. I read a lot of books, enjoy the stories, and find things in them that I would like to be able to replicate, or do better, or just know that I’ll never be able to do.

If I want to get published, I know that I need to put time into the words. Like I’m doing now. Any type of writing, even random posts like this, is good. Getting words from brain, to hands, to keyboard or paper, is good. It is a creative act. The more I do it, the better I will get, and the closer I will get to the dream I’ve had since I first picked up a book: becoming a published storyteller.

So, if you are like me and want to get published, stop reading this, and go write something of your own.