Emptying Out the Junk Drawer

05 Aug

The problem with not blogging regularly (here we go with the metacommentary again) is that life continues to happen at the same rate as ever. As a result, events, experiences, challenges, and changes stack up alarmingly, growing fusty and gathering a thick layer of dust before actually making it online. At that point, a blog becomes little more than the equivalent of a “yearly summary of the Strnad family” Christmas newsletter—hardly the point of the thing. Thus, motivation to write for the blog wanes, and blog-worthy events continue to gather like assorted items jammed into the kitchen junk drawer, till the day one says “to heck with it,” and dumps all the contents on the table to sort through them. This is that blog post, I suppose. So it goes.

I’m headed back to school this week, with meetings and preparation before the kids arrive for their first day on Friday. Last year (2017-2018) was the best year I’ve had as a teacher, leading a film class as well as taking over AP Literature at my school. This year will likely be a little rougher, though—our school is under a new administrative team and, as the new principal is dealing with a shortage of English teachers, I’ve lost those electives. I’m disappointed (especially since I just spent a week this summer in training with the College Board AP Literature test), but have confidence of building back up the program and bringing back AP classes next year. In the meantime, I’m taking over teaching Yearbook, which ought to be fun and hectic in equal measure. It’ll help scratch my creative itch, but the scheduling involved intimidates me. Fortunately, I have several colleagues who have waded the yearbook waters before me who will be invaluable as guides.

I had intended to hammer hard on my next novel (a yet-untitled urban fantasy) this summer, but wound up diverted into short story territory instead. I’ve gotten a few pretty good ones written (if I do say so myself), and am seeking homes for them now. I’m also considering the possibility of putting together a short fiction collection—something with a Ray Bradburyesque frame story that would tie it together. I’m told that short fiction anthologies often don’t sell as well as novels (and my experience with Silent Screams seems to confirm that), but Bradbury’s trick in books like The Illustrated Man (my all-time favorite short fiction collection) and The Martian Chronicles was to add simple frame stories and call them novels. It’s business. It’s psychology. It’s sales. But if it worked for Bradbury, maybe I can make it work for me.

Similarly on the writing front, I’m gearing up to rerelease Pantheon under the Serpent and Dove label. Since Musa went out of business, Pantheon hasn’t been available online, so I’m excited to get it back out there. The rerelease involves some polish all around—a fresh edit and some brand-new pulp-inspired cover art from the mighty Emory Watts (who did all the artwork for Silent Screams). It’s been a long time coming, but I’m very excited. Here’s a rough sketch to give you an idea for what the cover is going to look like:

Cool, huh?

The church Rachel and I attended for the past several years dissolved recently when our pastor retired. The split was amicable and peaceful (praise God), but we spent several months back in church-hunting mode. We recently found one in the area to call home (praise God), with solid, Biblical teaching and a genuine sense of community and fellowship. We are blessed.

Speaking of blessings, we are expecting our first child! Rachel is due on October 30th (although I’m pushing for a Halloween baby). October is going to be a crazy month—I am in a friend’s wedding in North Carolina, I am scheduled as a guest at NecronomiCon, and our baby is due sometime around there. Add in normal life with work and such (and the added pressure of yearbook deadlines) and I’m sure I’ll be spinning like a top. So far, though, both Mom and Baby are healthy. We are extremely excited to be parents.

What else… What else?

We’ve done a fair amount of traveling and visiting this summer—visiting family in North Carolina, having family come here (as I write this, several of Rachel’s cousins from Washington State are hanging out with us for the week).

I’ve been to a few sci-fi conventions. I have a few more lined up. I’ve gotten to a point, though, where that feels fairly normal and not particularly newsworthy…

I started a YouTube channel where I review free computer games. Here’s a link, if you’re interested.

I’ve gotten really into making home-made ice cream over the past several years, but only recently leveled-up my skills to the point that I can craft my own flavors without a recipe. So far my best successes have been red-hot cinnamon flavored, and amaretto with toffee bits (currently in my freezer).

I’ve also recently enjoyed repainting and customizing toy guns to make them all brassy and steampunky. Probably I’ll begin bringing them to conventions to sell them off along with my books, as I really don’t have room to store them, but really enjoy the painting and crafting process.

I suppose that’ll do for now. I think I’ll hop on here sometime in the nearer future (hopefully) to blather at length about my hobbies—each of which could easily make a full blog post. Or maybe I won’t. I’m mysterious like that.

Until next time… whenever that may be,

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Posted by on August 5, 2018 in Blog


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