Contributing To The World Around Me

It seems that when I’m not working at work, I’m working at home. Hobbies have taken over my life to the extent where I’m almost spending more time on them than I am at work. But it’s good right? No. It’s supposed to keep me active or something like that. I haven’t played a video game in nearly three weeks and that depresses me.

All these hobbies that have been piling up is the reason why I have been neglecting this blog. I could promise that I will post more often but I’m pretty sure I have made that promise quite a few times in the past. I am still contributing to the world around me, so I thought I would share with you the things I am doing:

Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous

Publication date is approaching rather quickly on this, and thus the publication wagon has taken off. Here are a few notable links:

Synopsis – http://www.tmarquitz.com/fl.html

Excerpt from my short story – https://www.facebook.com/FadingLightAntho/posts/475833585760680

Multi-Author Interview With Lincoln Crisler Part 1 – http://lincolncrisler.info/?p=1435

Multi-Author Interview With Lincoln Crisler Part 2 – http://lincolncrisler.info/?p=1443

Multi-Author Interview With Lincoln Crisler Part 3 – http://lincolncrisler.info/?p=1451

Multi-Author Interview With The Nocturnal Library Part 1 – http://www.thenocturnallibrary.com/2012/08/tim-marquitz-presents-fading-light.html

Multi-Author Interview With The Nocturnal Library Part 2 – http://www.thenocturnallibrary.com/2012/08/tim-marquitz-presents-fading-light_15.html

There is more stuff to come at Bastard Books and on Fantasy Book Review leading up to the September 1st release.

Novastream

As part of the Novastream relaunch, I became the new administrator of Novastream Movies with Esther Savage where I have been doing a lot of posts and site clean-up over the past few weeks. I am also involved with all the technical site design for Novastream Movies and Novastream Games, and I am a regular guest on the Novastream Podcast.

FBR Blog

Finally, I am now an administrator of the FBR Blog with fellow FBR reviewer Joshua S. Hill. Josh has designed the site pretty much from scratch and we are hard at work securing people to write for our site. Josh and I also host the FBR Podcast which I am currently in the middle of getting transferred to a new host.

The Rest

I’ve also been reading a bunch of books in this time, and putting together some new short stories for some upcoming anthologies. I’ll give you more details on that as they come to hand.

Ok that’s it for now. I plan on doing more regular posts here in the near future, especially once I get our American Bucket List put together.

 

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Ryan and Nicole’s USA Bucket List

I have really been neglecting my blog as of late. Everytime I go to write a post, something more important always seems to pop up. Well not this time… take that world.

So for those who don’t know, Nicole and I are packing up our stuff again and moving… to Daytona Beach, Florida! It’s a whole ‘nuther country, can’t get there by bus. Nicole and I have been thinking about all the things we would like to do while we are over there, things like:

  • Spew on every ride at Disney World
  • Spew on every ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Spew on every ride at Universal Studios
  • Collect a tooth from an ice hockey game
  • Catch a ‘gator in Louisiana
  • Heckle some rednecks at the NASCAR Daytona 500
  •  etc, etc, etc.

Then it hit us – how about we create a USA Bucket List based on all the comments by you the reader. That’s right, you tell us what we should be doing during our year abroad and we will write a blog post everytime we tick something off the list. Sound like a good plan? I love it when a plan comes together.

Geek

I have a confession – I am obsessed with figuring out how stuff works. Ok so maybe that’s not much of a confession for anyone who knows me, and perhaps even those people who have had brief associations with me, but for those who didn’t know, surprise!

When I look back on my life I was always going to be an engineer, and I can attribute that to parental influences, grandparental influences, and being given the encouragement to keep doing what I love. When most kids were given books about Blinky Bill, I was given books on the Fabulous Facts About Transport. I was fascinated by how stuff worked, and I would become fixated on something until I figured out how it worked and could reproduce the result myself. Most people called me Nerd, but I always thought of myself as a Geek.

Recently, one of my good friends put me onto an article about how Geek culture is becoming cool. Huzzah, not that I was looking for a particular breed of acceptance but the constant negativity towards Geekdom has always been a bit of a downer. Then I kept reading the article and discovered the crux of the argument, that it is cool to look like a Geek and embrace Geek culture, but nobody wants to actually be a real geek. Specifically, the article targets the faux Geek and tells them they are not welcome.

This article is a tad elitist. Actually a lot elitist. It proposes criteria for being a Geek, and that if you dont meet the criteria then you dont deserve to be called a Geek. Wow, I didn’t realise we were running such an exclusive club where you had to earn the right to sit back on an Iron Throne, drinking our Princess Peach Schnapps while discussing in lofty tones what we loved about the latest episode of The Guild. For me, Geeks have always embraced the love of anything and everything, and that should definitely be inclusive of the “faux Geek”.

There is no need to throw up walls, there is no need to fear the loss of identity. Being a Geek is something you define personally, something that nobody can take away from you, something you can and should be proud of. I am thankful to have found so many like minded people to share my interests with, and hopefully with “Geek culture” becoming “cool”, I can find a bunch more like minded people.

Vale Mike McKay

Today I learned that one of my online friends Mike McKay passed away over the weekend. I never met Mike in the twelve months we chatted online, but I can certainly attribute a lot my current enthusiasm for writing to his incessant nagging emails asking for more chapters. Michael just wanted me, and the entire Defence Writing community for that matter, to just keep writing. He was a wonderfully positive and optimistic sci-fi and fantasy geek, and I will miss him greatly.

This year he traded in his smoke breaks for writing breaks, and would often entertain us with 150 word bursts of raw unedited stories, and then berate us for not doing the same. Here is an example of one of his “Afternoon 150’s”:

The Captain hadn’t agreed that it was a life form.  The doctor was angry.

 “It’s Carbon Chauvinism.”

 “Huh?”  Cam looked at the Doc.

“Nicolas Chauvin.”  The lights in Cam’s eyes went out.  The Doc frowned.  “Nicolas Chauvin?”

“He fought alongside Napoleon.  He was a French patriot”.  Doc sighed.  “He dismissed all things that weren’t French; said they were wasteful nonsense.  He couldn’t see the big picture. His name is synonymous with a loathing of foreign things.  Come on.” 

“I mean…why does it have to be carbon-based?” 

 He pointed.  “There’s no reason!  This is just Carbon Chauvinism.”

They were standing over a thing.  An ugly thing.  A dormant thing. It wasn’t composed of carbon.  It was a thing of silicon.  It was made of a tetravalent metalloid, not unlike carbon…but unlike any life on Earth.

“Well?” 

“Well what?”, the Doc responded.

 “How do we tell?  Is it alive?  Is it dead?”

To honour my friend, I decided to write my own “Afternoon 150”. This is for you Mike, for pushing me to keep on writing and writing and writing when I should have been working. RIP buddy, may you have plenty of Stargate episodes to watch in sci-fi heaven.

I cheered with the utmost delight as I flew through the air, my hands grasping at the invisible reins while my feet pushed against invisible stirrups. I rode the wind with an easy confidence, soaring over mountain tops at exhilarating speeds before plunging down the other side like a bird of prey. I flew just inches from the ground, bending blades of grass and stripping seeds from dandelions as I displaced the air around me. It was incredible.

I closed my eyes, stood in the stirrups, and pulled back on the reins, my knees gripping against the buffeting air as I climbed and climbed. I opened my eyes and beheld the most beautiful of sights, the curvature of the Earth spread out before me as if I belonged in one of those sci-fi stories. With a smile on my face and joy in my heart, I let go.

Still No Internet…

Ok so Optus managed to give me a convoluted answer as to why my internet no worky on Friday… that was after being passed around amongst the customer service reps like I had just been let out of the sluthouse. The iPhone wireless hotspot is doing the job at the moment, but gee it would be nice to download something sizeable at a reasonable speed right about now.

Anyway on the topic of fails, here are a bunch of pictures I found on http://weknowmemes.com creating laughs at the expense of Mr T. Rex. Enjoy.

Australia Day – Are You Proud?

The 26th of January 1788 saw the First Fleet land at Sydney Cove to begin the European colonisation of Australia. We mark that date with a public holiday every year – it is a chance to celebrate with our friends and family what we think it means to be Australian. BBQ’s in the backyard, pool parties, alcohol, cricket, and JJJ’s Hottest 100 are recurring elements from almost every one of my Australia Day celebrations, but unfortunately I didn’t have any lamb this year…

I’m not sure what it is but for some reason, Australia Day seems to bring out both the best and worst in people. From the Kalgoorlie race riots in 1938 through to yesterdays semi-violent protests, Australia Day seems to be used as an excuse to incite violence against those who are deemed “unaustralian”. It is disappointing that we continue to see this race issue crop up year after year, and pictures like this give an impression to the world of what it’s really like to live here:

This from a high profile media personality

An attack on the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader

The Australian flag cape is a nice touch...

And if you look closely at his boxer shorts...

It is actions like this that tarnish Australia Day for everyone. When we look at them we question whether or not we are proud to be Australian because people act like this in the name of Australia.

Am I proud to be Australian? Of course I am. We do so much good as a nation and it is those actions we should acknowledge and be proud of. Our professionals are leading the world in a bunch of different fields, are economic strength has allowed us to provide generous support to struggling nations in this time of financial crisis, and for the most part we are just a bunch of people lucky enough to live in a country where we can take a day off to BBQ some lamb and listen to some music.

Not all images from Australia day are bad, and I will leave you with one of my favourites – my nephew gearing up to celebrate what it means to be an Aussie.

Proud to be Australian

New Years Eve – Resolution Time

  1. I will lose weight,
  2. I will stop drinking alcohol, and
  3. I will finish that novel.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it. The majority of people I know make at least two of those three resolutions at the start of every year, only to abandon them by the end of January. The people who aren’t making those resolutions are usually the people who say “I’m not making a resolution this year because they’re stupid”. So what is it about new years resolutions and this ability we have to leave them unfulfilled?

Life always manages to get in the way, throwing challenges that have us reaching for the nearest comfort: food, alcohol, procrastination. It’s always much easier to cope with whatever stresses are assaulting us when we have a bag of M&Ms, a bottle of Jack Daniels, and a copy of Skyrim. The simple answer is strength of will determines how successful you will be at achieving your new year’s resolutions, but as we know life is rarely simple.

Perhaps it has something do with the credence we place on new years resolutions. It’s okay not to fulfil them because they are just a fun game to play at the start of the year and nobody else fulfils them anyway. We make these resolutions because everyone else is doing it, not because we are entering a pact to make a significant change in our lives. We do not treat them seriously, we do not treat them as goals to be attained, just something to strive towards for a little while until something better comes along.

So looking forward to 2012, is this going to be the year you set yourself a resolution that you can achieve. As I alluded to before, you need to treat your resolution like you would a goal, and once you start doing that you can start applying some little techniques to help achieve those goals. The one I like to use is SMART goals:

  • Specific – your goals should not be broad statements like “lose weight”, they should state specifically how much weight you want to lose. You need a target.
  • Measureable – you need a way in which you can measure progress from beginning to end, and the types of measures you use need to make sense. Just saying that you have written 2000 words is okay, but it really needs some context with relation to your target. Percentage measures are usually the best. I have written 2000 words of my 20,000 word novel – I have achieved 10% of my target.
  • Achievable – your goals should be realistic. Losing 40kg over the space of 4 months is not even close to being achievable, losing 40kg over the space of 40 weeks at 1kg per week is much more realistic.
  • Relevant – if you dont care about your goal, if you can tie it in with something you need or want, your motivation to achieve the goal will be lacking. “I want to stop drinking alcohol because everyone else is stopping” is very different to “I want to stop drinking alcohol because it is an expensive habit that is stopping me from saving for a house”.
  • Timeframe – you need to set a strict timeframe for the achievement or evaluation of your goal as a motivator for achieving your goal. Tie this timeframe in with key milestones that relate back to those relevance categories. I need to have written my novel by July so that I can enter it in the August novel writing competition.

Revisiting my new years resolutions above, lets turn them into proper goals.

1. I will achieve a target weight of 90kgs by end of this year so that I can look better, feel better, and reduce my blood pressure. I will achieve a target of 110kg by the end of April, and 100kg by the end of August.

2. I will save $1,000.00 by the end of this year towards buying a new camera. I will do this by not spending $25.oo a week on alcohol. I will auto-transfer $50.00 fortnightly into a new savings account for a total of $1,300.00 by the end of the year, giving me $300 total to spend on alcohol this year.

3. I will write a 70,000 word 1st draft novel by the end of this year as a stepping stone towards starting up my own business. That is 1,500 words a week (this post is around 750 words). I will have written 25,000 words by the end of April, and 50,000 words by the end of August.

Now it’s your turn. What are your new years resolutions? Can you turn them into SMART goals?

Give Blood, Save Lives.

Last week our workplace held the first ever blood challenge, a competition between the Wedgetail operators and Wedgetail engineering and logistics support.

Click on the picture to see a video

The initiative, brain child of my workmate Sam Hayes, was a resounding success with seven new donors giving blood for the first time and another 30 people from our workplace also giving blood. To put that into perspective, the Red Cross Australia aim to get five new donors every seven days across the entire country, and our localised workplace managed to get seven new donors over the course of three days.

This was a great team building exercise, one that everyone can be proud of as every blood donation will save up to three lives. If you think this might be a good idea for your workplace, give the Red Cross a call (Australia: 13 14 95) and see if they can send the donor mobile out your way for a day or two. You can also visit their website at http://www.donateblood.com.au/

That’s Uncle Ryan To You

At 1am on 18 May 2011, my sister completed her acquisition of a beautiful little eating, drinking and pooping machine and she decided to name it Cassidy May. I finally got to meet my little niece over the weekend and needless to say she had me hooked around her little finger almost instantly (not as bad as dad though…).

The doting uncle and his little niece

It’s hard living so far away so I thought I should write a story for little Cassidy, something to remind her of Auntie and Uncle all the way up in Newcastle, something that is good enough to be her first choice for bedtime stories for years to come.  Writing children’s stories is much harder than just writing, particularly when my best writing is violent fantasy. I’ve tried to go a bit more traditional here, each line will represent one page which means I’m probably going to have to find someone to help illustrate it once I have finished writing.

Any good artists out there want to help out?

Below is a taste of what I have written so far… if you have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

The Princess and the Gnome

Once upon a time in a castle far far away,

There lived a young princess named Cassidy May.

Princess Cassidy loved to play.

She loved to play in her bedroom,

She loved to play in the bathtub,

But most of all she loved to play in her garden.

***

Princess Cassidy went outside to play but something was wrong,

“I don’t think the garden likes me anymore” said Princess Cassidy.

The plants in her garden were losing their colour.

***

“Your Highness we are just so thirsty,” said Mr Gnome.

“We haven’t had anything to drink in days.”

This was no good at all thought Princess Cassidy.

***

Ok I think I have given you enough information to figure out where this story is going. Let me know what you think of the work in progress and if you have any hints, tips, thoughts etc. just leave a comment below.