Tag Archives: New Year’s

It’s A New Year, Charlie Brown!

My oldest fandom, and the only thing I would even consider getting tattooed on my body (when I’m y’know, like, 80) is Peanuts. You might have guessed this from my occasional references to my wife as “the little red-haired girl” or the fact that I have at times used Snoopy on his doghouse at the typewriter as my avatar.

I still remember the thrill of finding new Peanuts collections at Half Price Books (a one-time haul of 15 paperback books being a true highlight). I still have all my old collections (in storage for a future gift to our hypothetical children) and a number of digital, hardback and Peanuts miscellany throughout the house. Our tiny 3 foot Christmas tree has plastic Snoopy ornaments from years of Whitman’s chocolate boxes, and even my desk at work has Snoopy the doctor, Snoopy making valentine’s hearts, and Joe Cool Snoopy playing the guitar.

But my most prized Peanuts possession are the collections of complete strips put out by Fantagraphics every year for over a decade. Each Christmas my parents have bought for me another box containing two books with four years worth of strips stretching from 1950 to the last collection released (1995-1998). This year will be the last year for these collections, a body of work of more than 50 years.

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I got to thinking that it was time to read through all of Peanuts from the beginning. To do this I need to read a little over 50 strips a day, or about two weeks per book (there are 24 on my shelf).

Peanuts has meant a lot of different things to me over the years. It’s always been good for a laugh, and for having someone to relate to in Charlie Brown. Watching some of the specials and reading early strips I’m beginning to wonder if children in the 50’s had a better grasp of the classics than we do now (Charlie Brown has to read War & Peace at 8 years old, something I haven’t managed to do by 30). In the last decade my favorite strips have often involved Snoopy at his typewriter as we both strive to become published authors, but there are always strips that strike me in new ways at different ages.

So far in three days of reading I’ve discovered a few things about early Peanuts:

  • Snoopy doesn’t get his name until about 100 strips in.
  • Shermy, Patty and Violet are the main characters along with Charlie Brown.
  • Charlie Brown is younger or at least smaller than most of the other kids. He doesn’t get the stripe for over 100 strips.
  • Snoopy doesn’t have a clear owner, though Shermy seems to be the one taking care of him. Also, Snoopy still looks very dog-like in appearance and manner.

There’s a lot of what I love about the strip that’s still yet to come, and yet there are still simple moments that I can relate to as someone who owns a beagle:

pe501010

Image Source: GoComics

This strip could be redrawn with Murphy easily.

I imagine this next year will get me writing and thinking about Peanuts, something I may share with you from time to time.

What have you loved since before you can remember? Do you still go back to it?

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What I Learned In 2015

Year end summaries are kind of a mixed bag.

We can read lists that convince us that we are living in magical wonderful times, truly the best times to be alive. Or we can read something that makes us believe that we’re all going to “hell in a handbasket” which if you think about it, is a rather cheerful conveyance. Better than going to hell in a washing machine or a Ford Focus.

I think at the end of the day, our perception of the year is subjective, and very personal. “Did I have a good year?”

Generally speaking, yes. I turned 30, as did a lot of my friends. My wife and I celebrated our 7th anniversary and nine years of being together overall. I said goodbye to one car, and hello to another. I published a book. I got a new dog, moved my office to the basement, and spent a lot of time with friends. And I found a new place to get a good Reuben.

I’m not one of those people who analyzes their growth over the past year, but there are a couple of things I’ve picked up on that might be of use to you:

  • Change can be good – I loved my upstairs office, and was a little reluctant to move into the basement. I think I have a pretty good idea of what things will be like without seeing them. Some people need to move things around before they can be sure if they like something, whereas I like to do that moving in my head. The thing is… on this one I was totally wrong. My basement office\man cave is awesome. I should have moved down there years ago. And so far, I’ve stayed home working rather than trying to find coffee shops to get work done in (which was often just an excuse for some HPB shopping later, shhh).
  • If the pizza says “Epic Meats” it probably will be a mistake – I’m getting a little better about some food decisions. I’m discovering that bad food makes me feel bad. Also sleep is good. And coffee is wonderful, but too much caffeine is not. I still have my weaknesses, but I’m learning to say no to things I used to say “oh, what the hell?” to. Baby steps people, baby steps.
  • Finishing projects feels good – Sure it’s exhausting, but seeing the first physical copy of Surreality was deeply satisfying. I highly recommend it. Oh… and finish your books too.
  • There’s more room than you think – I wanted one dog. I thought our house could only support one dog. I thought my whole life would be deeply disrupted by the addition of another dog. And now I can’t imagine not having Murphy, even though the boy needs to learn that occasionally daddy needs both his hands to type. Or he can spring for the speech-to-text software.
  • Make a conscious effort on friendships – Some friendships can run on autopilot for a while and be okay, but deep friendships, be it with your spouse or your best friends need work, give and take, and time. I’m an introvert by nature, and have the tendency to not notice when long stretches of time have gone by since I’ve last talked to someone. Thanks to everyone who pulled me out of my shell a little more.

How was your 2015?

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Still Sick

Between holidays and being sick all of this weekend, it hasn’t been the greatest couple of weeks for writing. Hopefully I can get the blog back off the ground tomorrow morning. Had to leave for work a bit early this morning to avoid the ice-capade rush hour. Hopefully things are a little warmer where you are, and hopefully your car wasn’t frozen shut 🙂

Since it’s an off day, how was everyone’s new years? Did you eat your sausage and sauerkraut?

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Write Goals 2014

Last year some of you may have read my “Setting the write goals” post. In this season of New Year’s resolutions I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on 2013 and share with you my goals for 2014.

2013 was a pretty great year, not the least of which because of you. At the end of 2012 about 300 people followed this blog. Now it’s almost ten times that number and more every day. I really appreciate those of you who stuck it out with me in the early days when I was just figuring this blogging thing out, and all of you who’ve made this blog a part of your routine in the last year. I hope to give you even more to enjoy in the coming year, including hopefully one or two serial stories and theme weeks.

I self-published my first book, and as of this writing have sold more than 120 copies. That might not sound like a whole lot, and it’s certainly not the runaway blockbuster hit of the year, but it’s still something I’m very proud of. The fractal book has sold in at least six countries (Bundle Dragon doesn’t do country of sale stats so I’m not sure where those are all coming from). If you consider the fact that I am not a well-known author and I’m writing on a niche subject this has been going really well. I read a Forbes article last month that said 20% of self-published authors report receiving no income at all for their work and most make about $1 to $4999. I’m happy to say I’m inside that range. Frankly, this was a labor of love, and on that metric alone I’m very happy I wrote this book.

Interesting side note by the way. The authors who seemed to earn the most were the ones who were “hybrids”, traditionally and self-published. Something to keep in mind for your future writing goals and strategies.

So what are my goals for 2014?

1) Self-publish Surreality in the first half of 2014 – There are a number of sub-ideas with this, including trying out CreateSpace and Kindle Select, but the big goal is to get one book of my fiction out to you in time for your beach reading season. Surreality’s been a project I’ve been working on for a number of years in the background, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.

2) Submit at least one short story to a magazine – I’d love to get to the three published stories required for SFWA (Science Fiction Writer’s of America) membership, but success will be measured by putting my work out there into a more traditional setting.

3) Earn $1000 from writing in 2014 – This is my stretch goal, and might seem a little out of place as a writing goal. This goal is less about the money and more about doing all of the things necessary to make it happen (i.e. putting out a book or two, marketing, submitting to magazines etc.).

4) Finish a 2nd draft of another novel – It’s likely to be a follow-up to Surreality. I haven’t forgotten about DM, but that’s probably scheduled for 2015 at this point. While I’m not sure if the book will be up to publishing standard by the end of the year, I want it to be well along the way so you can see it next year at the latest.

5) This one’s a surprise – There’s one more project I intend to finish next year, but for now that’s under wraps. Let’s just say it’ll be a treat for all of you who follow the blog.

As I stated in my post from last year, these goals are subject to change, revision, removal, etc.

What about you, what are some of your goals for next year (writing or otherwise)?

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