Thanks for stopping by. This site’s for all the people who’ve found interest in Juniper Crescent and writings of me, Tony Graff. Along the way, I’ll talk about what I find awesome.
Thanks for stopping by. This site’s for all the people who’ve found interest in Juniper Crescent and writings of me, Tony Graff. Along the way, I’ll talk about what I find awesome.
I haven’t posted in a long time, and when I did, it was less than hopeful. I was on the verge of letting go of my dreams of writing. Sales have been down on Juniper Crescent and Hallow Terrace, and my muse for anything new has been giving me the cold shoulder something fierce. I had found other things that I enjoyed spending time doing, and even more distractions I didn’t mind giving my time to. (One of them being Fire Emblem: Conquest. I still play every now and then.)
But, that changed recently. I don’t know what happened, really, but I’ll try my best to explain it.
So, there I was, staring at my computer screen as I tried to get words on paper.
I knew what was going to happen next in Critical. I knew what my outline said should happen. My characters were dynamic, real, and well-developed. It’s building up to the big climax with potential nuclear explosions, people getting shot, giant robots in the name of the law, and more atompunk designs than you could wave an alternate history at. But the words wouldn’t come.
But, I threw a word out there. I was pretty sure that it wasn’t the right thing to put down, but I launched it like a water balloon filled with paint.
Something stuck… There were other words with it.
And more words. They formed themselves into a paragraph. When did that happen?
I was getting somewhere. Another paragraph showed up and images were coming as the scene unfolded. In the space of a few hours, I had almost 1100 words on paper. It’s not as much as I could do when I completed NaNoWriMo a few years ago, but it’s MUCH more than I had written in any stretch of time.
To all of my fans who have stuck with me: I’m back.
To all of you who understandably don’t believe I’m doing anything significant, I offer this snippet from Critical, the current work in progress, the white whale, the atompunk gender-bent Les Mis with giant robots:
“You are here because you have chosen to be useless to society.” Sergeant Meng Jakarta paced before the three women and two men standing against the wall. “It is now our job to make you useful. By any means necessary.” She eyed a rather scarred man in front of her. Every line and crease in her uniform bore an edge and placement of terrifying precision.
“Each of you will be given an assignment. A full-time job, if you will. You will complete the assignment each and every day you are here. This will earn you money as you pay off your court-determined debt to society. Any further infraction of penal discipline and you will be punished.” Officer Jakarta rested her left hand on the two hilts attached to her belt.
“There are only two methods we employ here at the Melbin Prison Colony to maintain peace and efficiency. We will either add money to your debt or we have the authority to utilize corporal punishment as a response to crimes committed while in this facility. If you are lucky, you’ll be monitored by guards who’d rather add money to your debt.”
Sergeant Jakarta turned to a guard tapping a clipboard against his leg. “Are you bored, Officer Garrison?”
“I beg your pardon, Miss Jakarta?”
Compared to Sergeant Jakarta, Officer Garrison looked unkempt and un-mended, despite a tidy, professional appearance.
“Are you bored?” She enunciated slowly. “Is this job boring to you?”
“No, not at all.” Officer Garrison’s head shook, or rather vibrated out of fear. “Usually this job keeps me on my toes.” He laughed nervously and gazed at the newest inmates.
“I see. Then you should have remembered two things. First, that I am an officer and a Sergeant and will be addressed as such. Second, if you have some reason to be in here, spit it out. You aren’t paid to listen to me in the course of my work or to provide decoration. Do I make myself clear?”
“Y-yes, Officer Jakarta. I mean, Sergeant Jakarta” Officer Garrison bowed his head.
“Do you have a reason for being here?” Jakarta sharpened her voice to a stiletto point.
Officer Garrison nodded.
“Then don’t waste my time.”
“Inmate 9340 has put in the paperwork for the payment of her debt and her release.”
“Then send her to interview room three. As soon as I’ve welcomed our latest guests I’ll meet her there.”
Officer Garrison cleared out of the room, leaving Officer Jakarta with the five new inmates. “Now, in a little while you will be handed over to Officers Jerrome and Castille. They will issue you your uniforms with your prison name and number. Then you will receive your job while you are here. Do not expect a pay raise, do not expect a promotion, and do not expect smoke breaks.”
“We can’t even smoke here?” The scarred inmate scoffed. “What kind of prison won’t let you smoke?”
“The kind that utilizes its residents to recycle scrap metal. The process uses flammable components to clean the metal, and we have enough chance of fire without people trying to do it on purpose.”
“And if I just don’t want to recycle scrap?”
Officer Jakarta narrowed her eyes at the man. “What’s your name?”
“Donny Russon.” He announced as he attempted to cross his arms over his chest only to remember he was still wearing handcuffs.
“Russon. You’re wanted for the murder of a family in the San Luis Valley.”
“Yes, then you got caught trying to outdo yourself here in Utah. Two more murders before a husband decided he didn’t enjoy you breaking and entering and opened fire.”
“The world’s full of surprises.” Donny shrugged.
“Well, here’s another surprise for you.” Jakarta unsheathed the second instrument from her belt. Two metal rods tapered a foot and a half long from the hilt and a mere quarter inch apart from each other. She set the points directly against Donny’s thigh. “Your wants are irrelevant.” She pressed a button on the hilt and sent blue arcs of electricity into the inmate’s leg until he fell to the floor convulsing.
Legit question, lemme just add some context here.
I’ve gotten in my mind that I’m going to build a house. From scratch.
Well, more by foot, really. I’m making adobe bricks and storing them for a few years while I wait for the best deal on land to come around. In the meantime, I’m doing what I can to get everything I need at cheap/free.
The first thing was the clay. I know I’m going to go through tons of the stuff. I also know that about two feet down in the ground Colorado has some really good clay. So I asked my landlord for permission do dig some gnarly holes. He welcomed me to dig in a particular patch in his garden he wasn’t working. Then also said he and a buddy had laid a water line and there was a bunch of dirt already dug up if I wanted. I told him I was going to build a house with this and his reply was “well, just fill it back in when you’re done”.
Our neighbor next door was hacking down piles of dried weeds and I figured that would be a good straw substitute until I could find a source for straw bales. She asked what I was doing with it and I replied making a house. She didn’t even flinch as she let me grab as much as I wanted. She even suggested finding pine needles if I was going to make an obscene amount of bricks.
Cob/Adobe houses have looked really cool as people have added in glass bottles for natural light and awesome colors. I asked people at work to save them for me, and once again I explained what I was going to do with them. Some offered to drink the beer that came in cool colors.
Lemme just throw down a little more context. I have no building/ construction experience. My knowledge of building with cob/adobe is a book I checked out from the library. No one has asked a question about it, just went along and offered a lot of support and random building materials.
I figured there would be at least one person who’d ask me a couple of questions just to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. It’s not like I’m bringing home a baby raccoon or something.
Just the opposite, I’ve had more people giving me stuff like windows and the use of their trailer and wood that they have lying around in their garage.
But, there’s been no opposition or doubt, so I plow on ahead. Today I took the aforementioned scrap lumber and made a brick mold. Then I spent an hour stomping bricks.
loaf pan for scale.
This is still years in the works. I don’t have property yet to start anything, but I can make bricks. Along the way, I’ll be resourceful, pay down debt, save up, and keep stomping. If I end up being crazy, at least it’ll be a good workout.
I’m writing this to all the people who followed me to explain my absence on the blog for
the past few months. I wish I could say that I’ve got some really cool reason as to why I
haven’t been posting, but life got busy. Between work and not wanting to be at work, I’ve
just gotten lazy, and that’s not right, especially when I’ve been such a proponent of not
being lazy and going and doing those things that make us happy.
But, I’m on now because I’m stuck. On one side, I’ve got the whole reason I started my
blog: my writing. I haven’t really done anything with it since I started working full time.
I’m at a higher stress job than usual, so I haven’t been doing a lot. I’ve really only been
working on my writing when I’m too bored to do anything else.
It doesn’t happened very often, even though I do have spare time. Heck, I’m regularly
trolling Imgur and playing my 3DS, why can’t I just give that time to writing? I could
have all the books I’ve planned on writing already completed.
I’ve got two novels out, Juniper Crescent and Hallow Terrace, but they’ve both been out
for a few years now and I have no clue how to market them. I thought I did when I first
started in the published world, but now it seems that no matter what I do, it’s fighting an
uphill battle with both hands tied behind my back. I felt so much satisfaction with my
writing. There was a sense of validation and accomplishment holding the first copies in
my hand. Now I feel like I’ve lost it and I don’t know how to get it back.
On the other hand, however, is giving up. Letting the publisher cancel my contract with
them and dispose of all remaining inventory written by myself. I’d be able to focus more
fully on de-stressing when I’m not at work. I know it’s the lazy way out. The internet’s
full of inspirational crap telling me not to give up, that success is just around the corner,
that I just need to keep working. So how long am I supposed to keep trying? I’ve got a
garden, two cats, a more than full-time career, a myriad of projects I’m trying to
complete. How far derailed can I get before the train just crashes and burns? Is it always a
bad thing to let a dream go?
My biggest concern with giving up is that I’ll be wasting so many opportunities. Sarah
Book Publishing took a chance on me, and if I just quit then I’m spitting in their face.
I’ve had the dream of being published in my hands and I couldn’t follow through. It’s just
But is it reality?
Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.
So, I know I haven’t posted in awhile, but things have been busy. Recently, Megan and I felt that our cat Lilit needed a friend and that we needed to look into adopting Helen, a blind cat we had looked at earlier but thought to be too much work for us as a first time cat owner.
We couldn’t have been more wrong.
Helen is a sweetheart, very adaptable, and can even play soccer with a paper ball.
Then I learned the reason the lady at the Humane Society was so grateful to have her adopted. Blind cats are at the top of the list for being euthanized. Now that I have Helen I had to wonder why and it’s because like Megan and me the first time around, we imagined it to be much more specialized care than it actually is.
Luckily, there’s a blind cat rescue sanctuary that’s trying to change all of that. (http://blindcats.org/) In honor of Helen, I made a donation to help them continue to run this sanctuary.
Hopefully, people can see how little difference there is between a blind cat and a regular cat and give one a chance.
So, I’ve had my hands in some pretty cool food adventures throughout my blog (even though this was supposed to be about writing and the books I’ve published), and today I’m going bigger and better with what I’m learning to make. This time, it’s smoked cheese.
Now, I smoked eggs to try out smoking, but this is the opposite direction from that. Cold smoking, I’ve read, is all about temp and fire control. The goal is to keep the smoker at around 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here’s a pic of my rig.
On the left is my foil pack of Apple wood chips. In the center is a reusable ice pack, and on the right is half a pound of muenster cheese and a quarter pound of Monterey Jack. We’ll see in a couple of hours if this is a success
So… went and say Inside Out last night with Megan.
Now, from the descriptions and trailers, it looked like a show that only kids would be interested in. I’ll admit I hadn’t jumped on the bandwagon just because everyone else was freaking out about it.
But, it looked good enough that we went to see it.
This is a necessary movie.
Here’s why: If parents/children/couples could sit down and have dialog based on this movie, then Inside Out becomes a great bridge to understanding how others feel. For example, imagine the differences that could take place if a parent asked “what are you feeling?” versus “how are you feeling?” Then we have an opportunity to establish some common understanding. Inside Out lets us know it’s okay to feel sad and to make it known in the right way. Forcing ourselves to try and be happy when we aren’t only causes more problems and leads to compromising our own personality.
Where the feels comes in is where we see everything we can relate to, grown up or otherwise. Imaginary friends, that one jingle we just can’t get out of our heads, fears, lists of useless facts, there’s so much psychology bolstering up a familiar story that becomes all to applicable to most people.
If Up becomes timeless because it teaches us love in the first eight minutes without any dialog, then Inside Out will be come timeless because it establishes context to understanding ourselves through our emotions.
Plus, there’s this cool chart someone made
I’ve got my bucket list up here for the world to see.
And now I’ve completed one of the items thereon.
Which one have I completed? It’s funding a kickstarter. Particularly, this one. I know what you’re thinking, it’s just a kickstarter, and thousands of them getting put up every day trying to get funding, why does this warrant a bucket list?
Because this represents the actual American Dream and will be the next Renaissance at the same time.
We’re mad at those CEOs who have inherited big money and think they’ve earned it without actually knowing a hard day’s work, celebrities who spend more on a pair of shoes they’re only going to wear once than the rest of the world will probably ever see in their lifetime, and business moguls who overtax their employees while sitting back in an office that cost as much as those employees’ yearly salary.
While I’m not for government stepping in and taking money for any reason, I am rooting for the underdogs, and sites like kickstarter and gofundme.com give the opportunity for capitalism to work at its finest. The idea that anyone with a good idea can seek support for their idea based on the usefulness of that idea is exactly what built America to be the nation that people are still dying to get to. It also fits the creed of supporting what you love rather than bash what you hate.
Now, C.H.I.P is actually the third kickstarter that I’ve backed, but this one is the prototype for what I wanted to accomplish by setting it on my bucket list. I didn’t just put a few dollars down on an idea I want to support, but I studied it out and put down a more substantial amount to get the rewards that I wanted. And this one comes with some pretty cool rewards. I like to think I’m tech-savvy, but mostly I just need an internet and writing machine. I don’t play a lot of games or do a lot of online streaming, so something like this is ideal. Plus, the thing comes with programs to learn coding better, which should probably be the next thing put on the bucket list.
Do I think C.H.I.P. will take a notable place beside Apple and Windows? I’d like to think that it could. But more importantly, it’s making a choice. Just like almost every other person on the planet, money is limited, so my choice to spend it means that I’m not supporting other ideas. In theory, capitalism says that the best products will rise to the top like innovation cream due to competition, supply and demand, and creativity and imagination. We haven’t been seeing that as companies subvert the idea by seeking government bailouts and other incentives.
The next big revolution is going to take place in the hands of projects like these, where the populace supports those things that actually do make life easier while ignoring those companies that operate on the idea that they’re too big to fail.
Plus, I get a pretty nifty computer out of all of it.
If you’re interested in more information on C.H.I.P. here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1598272670/chip-the-worlds-first-9-computer
Okay, if you’ve looked at the what’s trending section of Facebook or any other news trend, you would have seen that Valeria Lukyanova has recently posted a photoshoot. Inevitably, there are the haters, photoshop insisters, and armchair critics. Who could blame them? The girl who’s spent her existence trying to achieve the ideal beauty is now rocking six pack abs.
Now, I read the articles and viewed the photos with a grain of salt. She’s made herself pretty well known as someone who’s a couple fries short of a happy meal. But she brings up a good point in response to all of her haters.
“It is a pity that most people choose the path of degradation,” she wrote in Russian. “If they see a man who has succeeded with something better than they are, they are ready to literally tear. Especially often I see it on the Internet.”
So, last time I went down to Colorado Springs to visit family, our cat Lilit was still too young to be left on her own. So, we took her with us.
At this point, she weighs about a pound and drew everyone’s attention to her. No one could resist the high levels of cuteness
So, down in the Springs is this really nice gardening store called Spencer’s Lawn and Garden. It’s a pretty chill place. They even have their own cat that wanders the store and chills on the shelves with the plants.
Of course, Everyone’s drawn to Lilit, petting her and cooing over her. It pretty much became Megan’s job to answer questions while the rest of us shopped.
Then one of the sweet old ladies that had been petting Lilit comes up with her hand curled in an odd shape. “I don’t know if your cat’s in to this sort of thing…” and produces a fresh sprig of catnip.
Even I stopped and turned.
Megan politely declined, saying that Lilit was too young and her brain was still developing (true).
“Oh, that’s fine. But if you’re ever interested in seeing if your cat would want some…” The catnip doesn’t leave Lilit’s view the entire conversation. “Make sure you try the fresh kind instead of the dry. It’ll work better. The cats just enjoy it more.”
Megan showed all the tact and grace a cat mom could as she declined again and turned back to examine plants with me.
And that’s the story of how my cat almost got a drug dealer.