Category Archives: Fun Facts

A Batch of S[h]elfies: Part 2: Upstairs…& More Basement

Continuing with my post from earlier, here are some more of my favorite shelves from my home library. This time, we’re heading upstairs (mostly)!

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Some short stories, some sci-fi, some Melville, a little bit of the Ozarks, a few vampires — this shelf has a little bit of everything!

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Shelf 1 is mostly philosophy and religion. Shelf 2 features science, travel narratives, and books by great writers such as Roxane Gay, Alex Pruteanu, Alexander Chee, and many others!

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A Batch of S[h]elfies: Part 1: The Basement

I was talking to Mike Meginnis the other day on Twitter and he made a most excellent point:

@mikemeginnis: Books are fun to show off because they’re relatively cheap — owning a bunch is much more a question of taste + time than money.

It’s no secret I’m loathe to take selfies, but shelfies, on the other hand, are a completely separate ballgame! In no particular order, here are some of my favorite shelves from my home library:

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Mike’s book, front and center here; I figured I’d post this picture of my basement mantle first since Mike gave me the idea! He’s [temporarily, at least] near J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun and Chandler’s The Big Sleep, a few books by Roger Zelazny, and some spy novels by John Le Carre, book-ended by Peter F. Hamilton, Monica Drake, and Zadie Smith (a dual-language copy of Rilke’s Dueno Elegies is in there, too. It’s very slim!)!

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This is the other shelf with Ballard. Empire of the Sun is a shorter paperback, so it looks funny on this shelf near these taller hardcovers like Alissa Nutting, The Rumpus Women, Joe Hill, Lev Grossman, and a few Gonzo Journalism books!

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My Writing Process Blog Tour: Bro, Do You Even Write?!

Hungary Toxic WasteBig thanks for Nate Tower for tagging me to join this literary blog tour about the writing process. Basically/ostensibly, I answer four questions and then pass those same four questions to a few more writers. We do this until every writer in the known cosmos and at least four contiguous parallel universes has had a turn (past four and the rules of spacetime get a little dicey*).

Nate Tower is the managing and founding editor of Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine and Press. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 online and print publications. In 2014, Martian Lit released his first short story collection, Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands. He is a former high school English teacher and the former world record holder for the fastest mile running backwards while juggling. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter. Visit him at nathanieltower.wordpress.com.

As for me, well, here we go:

1. What are you working on?

Like Nate who went before me, I currently have three main projects I’m working on right now.

The first thing is a novel called Human Services. It’s a sort of spin-off of Benji Palko’s character in my story collection, Shenanigans! where it focuses on the people who work at The Agency and all of the insanity that occurs in a professional office setting. I would say it’s pretty much solidly in the literary fiction camp. I’m still in the earlier stages of this project, sitting at around 16,000 words (as of typing this). Other pieces of Human Services have appeared online though, like this chapter over at InDigest called “Mr. Twitchy.”

The second project is more genre-flavored, and it’s sort of . . . massive. I’ve been kicking it around in my mind for a few years now, which is a sort of literary epic sci-fi/fantasy novel tentatively called Deorum et Viri: “Of Gods and Men.” I grew up reading lots of sci-fi and fantasy—especially the latter—and always kind of wanted to do something in the genre that originally inspired me to be a writer. It wasn’t until recently, with the popularity of the A Song and Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones) that I sort of realized that this was a viable option for me, like, right now. That is to say, I’d really been wanting to use the skills I’d picked up writing literary fiction the past seven or eight years and apply it to something more genre-related. Perhaps the work most responsible for this epiphany, even more so than Game of Thrones, is M. John Harrison’s unbelievably impressive Viriconium omnibus. The prose is awe-inspiring and the way he includes elements of surrealism tinged with bits of magical realism is something I can’t begin to do justice here. You’d simply have to read it yourself.

The final project is a new short story collection called Irrational Attachments to Inanimate Objects. You can actually read the first story from this collection called “Now You See Me” over at Bartleby Snopes! There isn’t a whole lot to say about this collection yet other than the title will be a running theme throughout the book; I think the first story sort of gives that impression, or at least I hope it does!

2. How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?

Genre is so hard to talk about when you really don’t want to be constrained by it. Just ask one of my all time favorite writers, Ursula K. Le Guin. I just want to write books that at least a few people really like. It’s an incredibly humbling thing when someone tells you that your work really resonated with him/her. It makes you want to write a special book just for that person because he or she took the time to read your work that they could’ve spent doing any number of other things. Perhaps that’s what’s different about my work, how personal I want it to be for a select few. Or maybe it’s just that I want to write the stories that are in my head without thinking about what genre they are or should be. I’m probably not the best person to ask since I’m honestly not sure; it seems like a discerning reader could give a better answer here!

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peterbd says I am the G.o.a.T. — How could I not repost this?

Random things are random (obvi.), but they’re also often awesome. Tonight I got a random email from the elusive peterbd and it managed to redefine the term “awesomeness.”

There were/are “lols” aplenty!

20. joe is greater at creating electronic music than most people.

19. joe is better at creating electronic music than this guy: http://www.blackbookmag.com/polopoly_fs/1.54529.1352141269!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_411/image.png

18. joe became the g.o.a.t without selling out and moving to new york

17. joe michael owens > terrell owens and his relatives

16. joe’s writing can be found in multiple places and none of it sucks because it’s impossible for joe to write anything shitty as evidenced by his non shitty writing resume

15. joe is the only man on earth that could wear overalls and still look smooth

14. if you type ‘joe michael owens’ into netflix, a documentary titled g.o.a.t: the true story of joseph michael owens will be your only result. this is an unofficial documentary that chronicles joe’s life as a young prodigy on his way to being the g.o.a.t. interviews include his friends, family, and those who witnessed his incredible rise to fame. the documentary currently has 4 1/2 stars on netflix. it was directed by steven spielberg

13. joe wrote ‘we always trust each other, except for when we don’t’ which didn’t win a pulitzer prize, but when you’re as good a writer as joe and you wrote the awesomeness that is ‘we always trust each other, except for when we don’t’ you don’t need no goddamn pulitzer prize to validate your genius

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Year(s)-in-Review // Year-in-Preview

I’ve been feeling contemplative lately. I’ve been reminiscing about 2011 and 2012, to be specific. Truthfully, they were pretty damn good years (aside from an almost crippling case of writer’s block toward the end of 2012). They were pretty good, but I think I can top both of them in 2013.

In 2011, I became the blog editor at InDigest Magazine; I did a reading at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, MN; and I had a short story accepted in [PANK] Magazine, which was- and is- certainly one of the highlights of my writing career thus far. I also got to do an interview with the magazine, which was truthfully almost as cool/fun as getting a story published.

And as great as 2011 was, 2012 turned out to be even better!

My collectio[novella] Shenanigans! was published by Grey Sparrow Press on the 50th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite books, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; I became the blog editor at The Lit Pub; I got to do an interview with the lovely, talented, and wonderful J.E. Reich at Art Faccia; and I got to play the kickass literary text-based adventure game, EXITS ARE, with Best American Short Stories author, Mike Meginnis!

So how could I possibly top the past two years?

My ultra-top-secret epic collaboration project is finally gaining some traction.

I found a way to push through a prickly plateau in the novel I’d previously shelved in 2010 (Human Services).

But most importantly, I think I have a much firmer grasp on who I am as a writer and on what I’m capable of producing. I’m not making any unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, unless you count “read more” and “write more,” but I just look at those as rededicating myself to my craft.

It’s a prevailing sense of optimism I feel about 2013. The apocalypse happened and no one noticed. It probably just means we need to get our asses back to work.

That’s what I’ll be doing.

You know where to find me.

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Nikola Tesla: Did You Know?

“Tesla was considered an eccentric man who talked of death rays that could destroy 10,000 airplanes at a distance of 250 miles. However, Tesla devised the AC (alternating current) system that we use in our homes today. AC offered great advantages over the rival DC system.

By using Tesla’s transformers, AC voltages could be stepped up (or down) and transmitted over long distances through thin wires. DC could not (it required a large power plant every square mile and had to be transmitted through very thick cables). Tesla also invented electric motors that today are used in every appliance in your house. He invented fluorescent bulbs and neon signs. He designed the world’s first hydroelectric plant, in Niagara Falls and patented the first speedometer for cars. Thomas Edison, who’s money was invested in DC power systems, did his best to discredit Tesla. Edison even went so far as to claimed that AC electricity was far more dangerous than his DC power.

At the 1893 World Exposition in Chicago, Tesla demonstrated the safety AC electricity was by passing high frequency AC power through his body to power light bulbs. He then was able to shoot large lightning bolts from his Tesla coils to the crowd without harm.

By 1898, he was demonstrating to the world the first remote controlled model boat at Madison Square Garden. Tesla wanted to provide free energy to the world and in 1900 began construction of a “Wireless Broadcasting System” tower on Long Island, New York. This tower was intended to link the world’s telephone and telegraph services, and transmit pictures, stock reports, and weather information worldwide.

Tesla ran into financial trouble with the world thinking he was insane. The transmission of voice, picture, and electricity was unheard of at this time.

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