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I’ve really taken a liking to Nihilism memes. Guess I’m dead inside. And with the way people have been ignoring me lately, or at least never noticing I even exist, well… it’s no wonder.

Here’s how I’m treated, lately at least.

Guys sometimes try and get me to dance with them. Considering that it’s always the grinding kind of dancing, and that annoys me, it gets annoying. I get what they’re going for – it’s solidarity in guys being displaced from what was common for our side of the species. The ideas of masculinity have changed, and drunk guys being drunk guys, I think they like to joke around and pretend to be gay with one another.

It’s when they invade my personal space that I get annoyed. And I don’t handle annoyed very well. Which drunk, 18-25 year old guys tend to take as an insult. Because straight white males in pubs around that age are just paragons of self-control.

Which would be fine… if women talked to me.

If they even noticed me.

I’ve never been popular. And especially not with the ladies. And if I’ve ever wanted to meet one, through a friend? It’s not people outright forbidding me from talking to someone of the female persuasion… but the warning is always there. You better not hurt her, she’s my friend. Fair, when it’s other women looking after one another. When it’s guys, I think it’s an unspoken sense of “dibs”. I don’t know. I can’t get straight answers out of people.

I have a bit of a tendency to unsettle people. It goes with my condition, Asperger’s Syndrome. I kinda have to explain it to everyone I meet. They may have HEARD of it, but they rarely have any experience with it. It’s this subject that people without it kind of find unsettling, no matter how well-adjusted we, the people with it, might be. It’s Different. Most people do come around once you explain it, maybe even accept you for who you are, not for their perception of you. You lay it out there, you disclose it. You help them understand. It’s not like it’s so alien there’s no hope. But the representations of it in popular media are often far from the reality. We’re painted out to be emotionless and quirky and obsessive… but the truth? We feel things INTENSELY. So much so that we get attached easily to anyone who shows us kindness. That said, it’s different for everyone on the spectrum. No two people are the same, and the fact that the movies always paint us as identical is insulting. Like what I’m told women feel about the latest attempts to shoehorn female characters into movies… with zero guts to make them PEOPLE. If you dare to have a woman kick ass, it upsets the menimists. If you dare to have more than one woman, if you dare to make them NOT romantic interests, if you dare to make them more than just a stray figure… you’re afraid of offending the masses. Of taking risks. You’re averse to losing box office numbers to some perceived backlash from… what? Censors? Feminists? Well here’s the thing – Hollywood studio executives are still dominated by straight white males in suits. And as a straight while male, looking in on the industry of straight while males (in suits) who determine what I see in the movies… I’m tired of it. I’m worried for these guys’ sanity. But mostly, I’m bored. I want people who have flaws and weaknesses that aren’t just these things on paper, these tick boxes that satisfy some kind of criteria (apparently) because no one wants to lose money on a movie. Especially a big budget one.

Mad Max: Fury Road is my favourite action movie of the last decade, bar none. The writer has balls, not just because he’s male, but because he’s Australian, because he had paramedic history (he’s seen some shit, man) and he’s passionate about awesome movies. We fucking need that. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to an action movie of the last decade and been BORED. It’s an action movie. You’re supposed to be entertained. You’re supposed to be thrilled. You’re supposed to feel something. You’re supposed to distract me from my personal woes.

You knew this was coming back to my personal life. Asperger’s Syndrome is a condition that has a lot of problems… and one of those, while it is a strength in some ways, is also a really powerful weakness.

Now, I don’t know what your understanding of AS is. But I can bet, with like, 90% certainty, that you don’t know AS, as in Asperger’s Syndrome (not Autism per se) that you aren’t as familiar with the word, or the difference to Autism. I was going to go off on a tangent (we do that, nerds do that, I’m both a person with AS and a nerd, it’s really not something I can stop, just write it and delete it if it’s really a tangential rant. I have volumes to say on this, anyway.)

Asperger’s Syndrome is essentially high-functioning autism, though. We have a lot more control over ourselves, we don’t stim as much (hand flapping or other repetitive, kind of annoying tics that help us cope with nerves) and we don’t have full-blown public meltdowns that paint us out as handicapped… as much. I can’t speak for everyone on the spectrum, but in general? I’d say we’re more grown-up than most people with pure autism will ever be.

Which means controlling emotions. Not ignoring them completely, not pushing them down until they explode. But we’re generally better at handling the severity of them.

But we still get frustrated. I am NOT saying that other people don’t get stressed, and have moments that they’d rather take back.I don’t for a moment pretend I’m a special little snowflake, okay? So if you’re going to comment to the effect “But other people DO feel stressed! It’s part of the human condition!”, then maybe check your facts. Okay? Some people don’t actually READ what’s on the page. That annoys me. That annoys me a lot.

But that pales compared to what annoys me the most. And that’s public displays of affection. Not because it’s gross or anything like that (it kinda is, but I’m not bothered by it for that reason.) I’m annoyed… because it reminds me of what I can’t have. Not never, but… well, as someone with AS, it’s very hard to find love. We get frustrated more, because it takes so much bravery to even go up and talk to a person, whether we’re Interested or not. We’re naturally shy, and reclusive. When we finally get up the guts to approach a stranger, and they leave… that hurts. When we see public displays of affection, that thing that eludes us for so much of our lives… that hurts. When we like someone, in a romantic sense, and they reject us… that huts. I think it’s the loneliness that gets us every time. It does me, anyway. I haven’t had a girlfriend in ten years. I won’t get into how seriously awful she was, but that was a GOOD year for me, in terms of dating. I never really get more than one date. Apart from the two occasions in my life where I got more than one a year? One a year is GOOD. One. A year. IF that.

Maybe ladies would ask me out if I looked good. Or when I get famous. (It’ll happen, totally). But mostly? Except for the party girls at bars, being like “Holy shit, you look like the guy from the Hangover!”, there’s rarely more than a smile or a hi. Okay, some make… well, propositions. Maybe four in my adult life. Total. Straight up, no games, which is nice at least. But here’s the thing – I’m shy. I’m not emotionally able, yet, to overcome the unease of approaching people, let alone a woman I find attractive, not in real life. Not even with a few drinks in me. Doesn’t happen. Tried it once, discouraged me. I don’t generally get many chances to try, and if I do, I’m usually too shy, too worried, too nervous, too pissed off, too indecisive… or too depressed.

Then there’s two notable instances that were downright anger-inducing. I finally summoned up ALL of my courage to ask someone out, and the person, or a colleague, casually mentioned a boyfriend… and I lost it. When you have AS, you OBSESS. I don’t really do that any more. I don’t have any feelings left. That’s not true, not entirely, but generally, I can’t summon the passion to care any more. Nihilism wins.

The lack of success in that part of life is frustrating. That’s true of anyone who’s #foreveralone, but I have read that it’s worse when your confidence is on the line, and so easily ruined. And you’re affected so strongly by your failures, and mistakes. And lonely. And thus depressed.

And lately? I definitely need friends. I need people to talk to. But when it comes to the opposite sex, no one is replying. Messages and comments go unanswered, friends or not. And in real life? Four women I have known well have all managed to walk right past me in real life and it’s like I’m not even there. I don’t exist. It doesn’t feel like being ignored. Being ignored implies being noticed, and pretending that I’m not. But lately, it’s been people who I actually know, not seeing me there despite being right there.

THAT hurts.

But at least my writing’s getting traction I guess.

Calamity

I’ve finally finished reading Brandon Sanderson’s Calamity, the final book in the Reckoners trilogy. There could be more, later on. But this trilogy, at least, is wrapped up.

What started with Steelheart has come full circle. And I finally managed to find the time to finish reading it the other week. I’d been focused on moving house, writing Writing the Wasteland, and trying to edit Crystal City.

Steelheart poses one hell of a what-if scenario: what if those gifted with super powers… were the BAD guys? Superman is the villain, essentially, and he rules over the populace with fear and power. He gives his subjects a comfortable life, compared to the rest of the Fractured States (formerly the USA)… but he maintains absolute control. He keeps people looked after, compared to the apocalyptic wastelands outside his territory. But make no mistake, he’s a dictator. He wields immense power, and he’s invincible… except for one tiny little crack in his armour. David’s father believed in heroes… and when Steelheart proved that he is bad to the core, David’s father injured Steelheart. It didn’t kill him, it just pissed him off. And then the god-like entity who could not be harmed, proceeded to destroy the bank where this happened, lest someone spread word that he *can* be harmed. David was the only survivor. And he’d seen Steelheart bleed.

David wants Steelheart dead. To that end, he joins the Reckoners, a group of resistance fighters content to fun interference but not outright challenge any Epics for fear of what will happen with madmen with POWER decide that their subjects dared to so much as look at them. Like, not even with contempt, but by hinting that they so much as didn’t particularly worship their ruler.

The Reckoners kill an Epic. I’d say this is the inciting incident, although there’s so many in this work that it’s hard to say when the story REALLY starts. But this is all deliberate, by a master writer who’s been doing this a while and who’s struck a chord with so many readers.

Calamity appeared, and granted a random selection of people super powers, setting them apart from the plebs. There’s a LOT of power struggles going on, but generally, weak epics serve High Epics, and people serve anyone with power. This is a story of the little people. The underdogs. You know, the kind of stories Australians love. I’m sure readers all over the world love underdog stories – they’ve got conflict and motivation built in by their very nature. But Australians… underdog stories are our RELIGION, just about!

Calamity arrives, changing the world. Steelheart kills David’s father, traumatising David, leaving him an orphan, and providing motivation to slay Steelheart. Then the Reckoners actually KILL an Epic – something that just hasn’t happened before – and suddenly, they have to take out Steelheart. There’s no room for escape, to way to hide, no way to avert their deaths but to face their adversary and come up with a plan to do so. Because unlike those with immense powers themselves… the Recknoners are just people. People with guns, skills, brains, and grit… but people just the same. By comparison, they’re nobodies. And that’s what makes them dangerous. But they can’t just waltz in and one-man-army Steelheart, like a lot of 80s action heroes. No. They have to PLAN. They have to be PREPARED. They have to strike SMART, and that’s what sets this series apart from lesser superhero fiction. These people are essentially crime fighters, fighting against gods. It’s Batman Vs Superman, but not the train wreck that the recent movie with that title seems to be, to at least the critics.

There are twists aplenty in all three Reckoners novels (and Mitosis, a short piece packaged with the first few chapters of Firefight). David’s metaphors are the stuff of goofy, what-the-fuck legend… but they make sense, when he explains the relation (he’s not a nerd, though. He wants you to know that.)

The powers aren’t just powers… they’re a drug. They make their users… users. Powerful, godlike, egotistic psychopaths… but users. The more they use their powers, the darker they get. Good and evil are a key conceit, but there’s so many shades, so many personalities, that play off of the powers in a fascinatingly complex, believable way (for fiction that has superheroes, anyway). The characters are PEOPLE, with PERSONALITIES, with strengths… and harsh drawbacks and weaknesses. But an epic is also proud, and will never disclose their secret weaknesses to anyone. Ever. They are supreme, and any challenger will be put in their place, even if that means a grave.

Holy crap is this series satisfying. It has cool power use up the wazoo. It also has complex, troubled people, and the effects of power on the weak, human psyche. Most superhero fiction has good people gifted with the power to do what’s necessary. This series reverses that, and asks the question: what would actual people, with their actual insecurities and egos, do with world-shattering power? They’d abuse it, and abuse it hard, that’s what.

But there’s always those that don’t like that. David has seen a god bleed. And he will get his revenge.

God, what a good series. I feel… inspired. Godlike, even. That can’t possibly go bad, can it?

No. Not it can’t.

Reading your work… in public

So, here’s a question – what do people think of authors actually reading their own work somewhere where there’s people? Narcissistic and vain? Melodramatic? A trolling move? Sad and pathetic? Ironic?

I think you can definitely have fun with people should this happen. They’re like, “Are you reading your own work?” “Yep.” “Is it any good?” “Well, it started off awesome, but the second act really took a turn for the worse when the man walked into the room holding a gun. The murder was rather predictable, to be honest. The twist was really hackneyed, I saw it coming a mile away, and the ending felt flat. But the sex scene was good. I give it 3 stars. Good for a quick read.”

Productive day

Last night I got an email back from my local library, and today, I went there and dropped off a few copies of my book for their system. I’m signed up for their local author program, though that doesn’t mean there’ll be much in the way of promotion, although they might do that. I went in person, and left a card in every book.

On the way back towards the shops, I gave some money to a homeless girl. Gave her some of my time, and let her know about a few services that could help her out. I think she was recently homeless and new to the area. The library was across the road, and I recommended going there.

I then needed a drink. So I wandered over to my old local, had a couple beers, and finally finished reading Brandon Sanderson’s Calamity, a great book that has been hanging over my head since it came out, begging me to finish it, but with time being taken up by many things lately, that hasn’t been the highest priority, though it was high up there, certainly. I will be reading all his other books in the near future! (I have a sizable TBR pile, though. And some that have been calling out to me. So I”m going to try and get to them first. I can now discuss Calamity with two people I know who have read it, though, so that’s awesome.

I found out at our house warming party that my friend HAS been reading the books I lent him, and he’s finished about half of them, which is awesome. I know some he’s probably going to love.

Last night I watched the latest Vikings and the last 3 episodes of Supernatural that I’d missed out on for whatever reason. And they were three GOOD ones. In a row. Supernatural often has a few so-so in a row, and on rarer occasions, either a truly crap one or a transcendent scary one… or a freaking hilarious one. They’ve really grown the beard back from some of the so-so seasons not so long ago. Maybe not to the sheer awesomeness of the first two, when they had the songs at the beginning of every episode, but Supernatural’s not often that much of a scary show any more. It has it’s moments though. It’s still usually a great show. 11 seasons and it’s still going. Though the current plot could be the end of it. If you haven’t seen the latest ep, I don’t want to spoil it, and I won’t say any more.

That reading challenge hasn’t gone so well. Not sure where the file is on my computer with the list, but it *should* be on my laptop. Printer doesn’t work, though, so can’t print out right now. I’m told it’s probably completely fucked. Out of ink, at least.

I probably won’t be submitting anything for Vision this coming month. Still going to go, but there’s a fair few stories up there as it is, and I’m not even sure what I’d submit anyway. Actually, I do have one very short one that I could put up. Kinda just been sitting on it.

And I finally, after several months of sitting on it, began edits of Crystal City! So I’m pretty happy that I’ve finally chipped away the first little chunk of denial and unwillingness to face the task ahead. I don’t know if fear’s the right word, but it is I guess fairly accurate. Like, it’s not abject terror, or outright creeped-out, or breaking into a cold sweat. It’s just… apathy, I guess? I’ve been putting it off forever. I have had some genuine reasons to put it off a bit, but they do say that, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. I can see why they’d say that. I don’t know who They is. ‘Them’, I guess. (Probably just wise office workers though.)

 

Writing The Wasteland – free on Kindle

Writing the Wasteland, a how-to guide I wrote for those looking to write apocalypse fiction, is currently free for 48 hours on Kindle (if I’ve done it right, at least).

I could have sworn the thumbnails at the side of my blog linked to the books themselves. I’ll fix that ASAP (should be able to do that in short order).

http://tiny.cc/wtw is the link you need.

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This picture shows the first 7 copies of my book with the new, awesome cover by Paul Limgenco. I am so freaking happy with the way it’s turned out in the end, after lots of discussion and fine-tuning. He whipped up an image for the next book in no time, too, so I guess I have no excuse not to really get on with edits for that.

I’m also reading Calamity by Brandon Sanderson at the moment. It’s amazing, like the whole series prior (2 books) and this is the epic (hehe) conclusion to a great trilogy. The premise, for those unfamiliar, is a YA superhero novel. The twist is, the supers are not heroic – they’re downright EVIL. Using super powers, basically, turns you bad. And the good guys are a resistance cell who hunt epics. To say more would ruin it. But it’s made of awesome and I love every bit of it.

I finally saw Zootopia the other day. It was amazing! If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. Coincidentally, my friend FINALLY read The Name of the Wind, and yes, he loved it, like I told him he would (he told me I’d love Zootopia, and he was correct). He stayed over recently, too, and we watched Lockout and Ghost in the Shell 2. He enjoyed them both.

I’m now on Instagram as Dan Solo. And I realised I wasn’t doing something with my posts (okay, there’s only one so far), and that was… I wasn’t hashtagging ‘them’. I forgot to put a hashtag on it. On Instagram. *head desk* On that note, wasn’t it Twitter that started the hashtag thing? I’m not sure. Though I know Twitter was around first. Now I think all social networks do it. Oh, and three redhead models are either following me or the one picture I’ve posted so far. No complaints here! :p

On Friday night just gone, my brother and I FINALLY had a house party. He drank alcohol for the first time since he was 18 (not entirely true, but one other time doesn’t really count, except for the whole vomiting and sounding like a cow giving birth thing). We had 9 guys playing a game of Marrying Mr Darcy, a card game where you’re ladies-in-waiting in Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice (no zombies). It was a rollicking good time, although we never finished, as we went outside to smoke a tobacco pipe on the back porch thing. We ended up talking about so much stuff, cool, intelligent, funny, weird, awesome, manly stuff. While listening to Viking music. That was a good time. Zero ladies showed up, but in a way, I don’t mind that. I also drank some Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, which was nice.

Also I’ve written to the ABC and SBS networks (two national broadcasting TV and radio stations) and will be contacting libraries in my region too, about my book. Fingers crossed! I especially would like Good Game to have a look, cause I love that show and also my writing has a bit of an RPG vibe to it. But that’s okay – so does most fantasy fiction. I’m really curious to experience a VR game, though I’m nowhere near being able to afford a machine for personal use. Still, this shit just got real, what with the Occulus Rift, Sony VR, and various other devices finally hitting the market this year if they haven’t already (I think it’s available, but it’s sold out FAST, so you’ll have to wait a while to receive one. Or something.)

In order to tick off every box in my categories for the one post (first time EVER, I believe), here’s a link to a reddit thread of writing prompts. I like some of these! https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/

And one last thing. The distance from this place to the shops is like 3/4 what it is from my parents’ place to the suburb with more stuff in it. I’ve been walking it a LOT, it’s not far, and I generally walk back too, and I’ve actually lost like 4-6 kilograms just from doing that a few times a week. It’s pretty awesome, though I’m in no danger of ever turning into a fitness freak.

Wow, that’s a lot going on in my writing life. Now it’s *just* my love life that’s empty! Although, on the first week at the new local, I did get approached by a pretty good-looking lady, so….

 

Everything’s coming up Millhouse!

I went exclusive with Amazon recently (boo! hiss!) and set up a 3-day free offer. Just checked the results today. 120-ish units shipped (not really ‘sold’, though a couple *were* bought with actual money too). To date, it’d been about… 50? In 6 months? I got that much in just one day. I have about 404 followers on my blog (no, really, 404! Might be up a bit since I last checked, but still…) and get at least one or two new followers on Twitter most days, plus at least 5 or so views on my Facebook author page, so that’s where I’m at in rep. Objectively, that’s a drop in the ocean. But it’s so much more than I expected, I figured I’d get like 10 ‘sales’ so to speak. I’m pretty happy with this. It’s a pretty good start. The cover I have definitely helps more than a lot of purists will admit. They SAY not to judge a book by it’s cover. And yeah, you can whack a shitty Paint doodle on there and it might actually work (if it’s a comedy book, I’d imagine). But finding a great cover artist who’s passionate about doing the project is definitely worth it. I did get a great offer from someone who charges a premium for a top notch job… but I ultimately went with a guy who loves comic books (one major part of my audience!) and who was like “Dude, that is totally awesome!” because you know they’re going to love what they do. Not going to see MONEY for a bit, 2 months I think, but doing this has definitely opened the door to that possibility. And the money part is good – I do need to make more than I get currently – but I do it ultimately because I love sharing cool stories (bro). The rockstar writer life is definitely appealing… but I do have realistic expectations. I won’t be big overnight, and I don’t ultimately do it just for that (people who do are usually not very good at it, have their heads up their asses, and may get one-trick-pony success but probably not lasting legacy. Probably. There’s a lot of possibility though, and this one-hour-work’s little action has definitely made the doorway a bit wider. Not big enough to back a dump truck filled with $100 notes, yet, but big enough to slip me a check for $50, probably