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Greetings, Bearers!

A belated “Happy New Year” to all, as I’ve been behind on my updates and writing.  The ironic thing about time off for me is that oftentimes it’s one of the most difficult periods for me to try to write.  So unfortunately my writing had to be put on a shelf for the better part of eleven days :(.  The good news is that I’m back at it, and I’ve got quite a bit done, not only with novels but also with short stories, some of which I’ll be releasing in the near future.

Also, I’ll be soon releasing a new nonfiction book as well regarding Christian matters, and doing so under my actual name rather than my pen name.  If you’re curious, I’ll explain later why I have a pen name in the first place.

Okay, back to work for me.  Keep up the reading and may your New Year be a good one!

See you in the Vein (and in the other things I’ve written)!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

No, my silence has not been due to the travesty that was the Michigan-Ohio State game:

Kinda hard to win a game when you’re playing 11 on 14. (Do I still sound a bit angry?  Do I still care about the fact that apparently no Buckeye ever holds on calls?  Well.. maybe a little bit..).  The lack of updates here has been due to 1.) my writing (still going), 2.) my business in my other job that pays the bills, and 3.) the approach of December 25th, the annual time of year where we manage to make what should be leisure time as laborious as possible.

Which reminds me… I have a little gift for all of you.  But first, I want to speak to a question that I don’t think I’ve taken the time to answer in detail.

One of the things that has been proposed to me is that I try to write a Christmas piece.  After all, people say, it’s done by a great many other writers, J., so why don’t you do that as well?   And it is true that you’ll find special Christmas works done by authors much in the same way you’ll see musicians put out Christmas songs and albums.  It’s pretty customary for artists to do, both for artistic and commercial reasons.

All that to respond to those who ask me if I’ll be scripting a Christmas story with “No… not right now.”  Let me explain why.

First and foremost, Christmas is a sacred season for me.  As many know, I am a confessional Christian, and while I don’t push it down the throats of others, I don’t hide it either.  Meaning that my approach to Christmas is one of serious reverence and serious consideration.  I would not feel right simply putting out a piece that missed the point of the holiday (or worse yet, twisted it in a terrible way).  When and if I do decide to put something out there, I want it to be respectful and honoring to the One born in Bethlehem that night.  I’m not saying my work will necessarily be a sacred/religious one; I’m just saying that I don’t want to put out something that is blatantly in conflict with the Christian faith.

Which brings me to my second, related point: to be frank, I simply have not had much success with ideas for Christmas stories.  Actually, let me rephrase that: I have had ideas for Christmas stories, but they’ve all ended up being either decidedly not as Christmas-related as I’d like, or far too predictable and sappy (much like those Hallmark channel movies you see around this time of year… Does anybody actually watch those movies?).  And I don’t want to do that.  I like to take unusual angles with writing, and I feel that I would be cheating you, my thousands (:D) of dear readers.  I don’t want to put out a peace that people read and shrug their shoulders at.  I want something that is fresh, different in its approach.  And that can be a very difficult thing to do with Christmas, as so much of it is dealt with in many a book and movie.

With that being said, don’t rule out a Christmas tale from me.  This “guilt attack” seems to come upon me every November, and each time I do deliberately give thought to putting together a Christmas tale, but due to the reasons I’ve put forth above, nothing ever manifests itself.  Nevertheless, if I do get a good idea, even if it’s in the middle of May (and I do NOT like it when people obsess over Christmas outside of the Christmas season, btw), I’ll work on it.

Now, having said all of that, I do have a little gift for you.

Between now and January 5th, 2017, you can get my short story 2-pack  Surrealities part III for free.  Simply go to smashwords.com, enter the coupon JH83H, and read to your heart’s content! Even though it’s not really a Christmas item, consider it my Christmas present to you.  If you like it, pass it on to others, and let me know what you think!

Okay, four more shopping days ’til Christmas…or is it five? I’ve got wrapping and writing and bowl games and boxes to tend to.  Good grief… I might need a day off from Christmas!

Anyway, enjoy, and see you in the Vein!

J. Dean

 

Greetings, Bearers!

Still writing… Still here…  putting away a lot of pages while I work full time as well.  Haven’t forgotten about you,  promise. 😀

Updates to come.

In the meantime, get ready for Thanksgiving, and great football rivalries.

(Yes, I’m biased as to who I want to win.)

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

I’m a little late for it, but Happy Halloween anyway.  A great deal of October was spent with a lot of work (including, I’m happy to say, a LOT of writing which is being prepared for being put out there soon), as well as staring in disbelief at the screen after seeing the Cubs go to the World Series for the first time in 71 years, so I didn’t get to update you guys on more things.  My bad.

But be that as it may, I’ve got some good stuff to share with you.  One of the things I like is the short fiction genre for horror, not only for literature, but also for films.  What I’d like to do is give you a few nice films available out there that I highly recommend for some good goosebumps and second looks over the shoulder before bed.  I won’t spoil the plots for you; it’s better to just jump headfirst into these movies, as it makes for a better scare 😀

“2am: The Smiling Man”

“Selfies gone wrong”

“Lights Out” (apparently this was the inspiration for the full length movie)

“Pictured”

“Occupied”

And, on an unrelated but important note, a bump for my poem dedicated to the Cubbies: “A Hundred Years Plus of Solitude”

Enjoy the links, and keep reading!  More will be on the way!

See you in the Vein!
J. Dean

 

Greetings, Bearers!

So, my coaching leaves a little to be desired.  But you know what?  My girls had fun, and so did I.  It was quite the learning experience coaching a powder puff team, one that I’ll remember as being a highlight of my time as a teacher.  If you have the means, I highly recommend trying it out.  It’s a blast.

On a sports-related level, it’s also made me appreciate how much work the big guys like Harbaugh, Saban, and Meyer put into their craft.  They have a lot of micro-managing to do as head coaches, even while delegating authority and duties, and it really is a full time job. So, while I’m hardly at their level, I have received a small glimpse of what they do, and perhaps on Saturday afternoons I’ll be a little less quick to snap when a coach makes a decision that brings about a less-than-desirable outcome.  It’s not the same thing seeing the game from the sideline as it is seeing it from the comfort of your armchair at home.

Anyway, I have a little more writing done, and hope to get Surrealities, part 4 out sometime soon, maybe even before Halloween.  And while I did have to sacrifice a bit of effort and attention from working in the Vein, that will no longer be the case.  I’ve missed my adventures with my friends in the Meridian, and need to see how they’re doing.

Not too well, I hope 😀

Anyway, to those of you who are new to my works, let me say hello and a thank you for taking an interest in my stories.  If you’ve liked them, pass the word on to others!

Okay, back to writing.  Or licking my chops for future Michigan football matchups.

Or, maybe both.

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

I’m still alive, working, writing (never will quit writing), and coaching!  Yes, that’s right: I’m putting my money where my mouth is.  I’m coaching a high school freshman girls’ flag football team.  Okay, so it’s not my beloved Michigan Wolverines (who are doing great so far), but it’s still coaching, and with the assistance of a couple of helpful fellows from the boys’ football team I’m putting this thing together for a game two weeks from now.

I’ve never coached a day in my life.

So pretty soon here we’re going to see if I’m Jim Harbaugh or Jim Tomsula (if you know anything about 49ers football, you’ll get that reference).

But new things will be coming soon.  So spread the word about what I’ve already got out there and what’s to come!

In the meantime, I think I’ll keep a journal/diary of my coaching.  And maybe I’ll share it, if I feel confident enough.

Or not 😀

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Greetings, Bearers!

I’m just rolling them out today!  I have another free short story for you to enjoy, entitled “Paper Planes.”  Click on the cover below to check it out!

This one is more of a “magic realism” type of fantasy than anything else I’ve done.  Just an everyday situation with an odd and wonderful twist.  I hope you enjoy it, and if you like it, let me know and let others  know as well!

Alright, more to do, and always more to enjoy.  Keep reading, and I’ll keep writing!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

PAPERPLANESCOVER

Greetings, Bearers!

And now for the moment of truth.  I’ve finished my Game of Thrones fanfic piece, and am bringing it to you for your enjoyment.  This piece is called “Bastards’ Road,” and is a slice of life beyond King’s Landing that takes place between the fourth and fifth seasons of the show, with three original characters. It’s down below, under my signature.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  This was a particular pleasure for me to put together, and it was my attempt to create a scene beyond what we see in the novels and television show as to what might be happening in the land of Westeros.

Of course, please feel free to give me feedback.  And if you liked it, it’s yours to take and pass along to others!

With that, I’m going to be steering the majority of my focus back toward writing the Vein novels (not that I haven’t at all, but I’ve divided my attention between the Vein and other things, including this short story).   As it and other creations become finalized, I’ll let you know!

And once again, before I go, a big thank you to those who have been reading and enjoying my other works, including the new short story “Thread. Bare.” (see two posts below this one).  It’s been getting some attention!  Feel free to share your thoughts about it and anything else I’ve written with me, or with other people (even better!).

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Bastards’ Road: GoTss

Greetings, Bearers!

Go get a cup of your preferred beverage.  Let’s sit and chat for a moment.

Before I begin with my topic, I’d like to say thank you to all of you who recently downloaded my short story “Thread. Bare.” (see the below post).  It’s received a rather warm reception with good feedback.  Considering that even my daughter likes it, that’s a wonderful thing!  If you liked it, please do me the honor of telling somebody else about it!

And now, on to our talk…

Now, this post is geared mostly for you other writers/authors out there, but even if you’re nothing more than an aficionado of good writing, please feel free to sit in on this talk and comment as well. Many voices make for interesting discussions.

I’d like to talk a little bit about the Art of the Short Story with you, and specifically about the preservation of that art.

You see, when you hear about bestselling fiction books, you generally associate those sales with novels.  And that’s understandable: people like a well-developed story with well-developed characters, and a novel provides the perfect place to do that.  After all, the greater amount of time, space, and words that an author has, the more easily those elements can be spread out and used in greater quantity.  And if you’re one of the authors out there (like me) who likes to write novels, more power to you.  Keep writing them.

But I’d also like you to think about diverting at least some of your energy to the short story.

You see, while the novel has the advantage of length, the short story, when properly crafted, possesses the opposite advantage: that of brevity.  It’s a condensed segment of a larger world, much like the difference between a still photo and a full-length motion picture feature.  Yet when properly written, the short story can tell just as complete a story as any novel, sometimes even more completely.  A reader reading a well-penned short story can come away with as much developmental satisfaction as (s)he would with a full novel, and do so within a condensed portion of time.

To carry the snapshot vs. film analogy even further, consider the paintings of Norman Rockwell.  If you’ve ever looked at his work, you don’t just see a still shot; you see a still shot of life happening.  You see people who aren’t stopping for a portrait.  Instead, they’re frozen while in the process of moving, talking, acting, interacting with each other and the environment.  And your mind, whether or not it intends to, fills in the gaps of the situation with your own contrived stories.

For example, consider this Rockwell sample from The Saturday Evening Post. Look at it and tell me what’s happening.  Who catches the boys in the middle of their swimming party?  How long had they been there?  Note the boys that are half-dressed: did they do that as soon as they got out of the lake (or was it a river?  Who says it can’t be a river) or did they scramble ashore, snatch their clothing up, and stuff feet into shoes and arms into sleeves while in the process of running for their lives?  What about the dog?  Did the dog bark and give away their little getaway to a passer-by?  Was the person who caught them somebody they knew? A parent? A policeman?  A group of people?  Is that person (or those people) standing there shouting, or chasing after them in hot pursuit?

Even as I write these questions and glance at the picture, my mind is putting together its own possible answers and sketching a story.  And the beautiful thing is that Rockwell makes us do all of this with a single painted picture.  We don’t need a movie, or even a short film clip, to put the story together.  Rockwell put things in motion, and with our imaginations we gave those things our own imagined starting points and destinations.

And we can do the same thing with our short stories.

Another advantage about short stories is the “hit-and-miss” probability that works in our favor.  One of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, while addressing an audience at Point Loma Nazarene University in California (see video link below) made this excellent point, which I will now paraphrase: You can spend one year of your life writing a bad novel; but it’s hard to spend a year of your life writing a short story a week and write fifty-two bad short stories.  The man is right, and I say that as somebody who likes writing novels as well.  The more you write, and the more various things you write, the more likely you are to put something out there that people will like (unless you’re just outright not trying to write well).

I’d like to throw out a little challenge to those of us writers/authors out there who like our novels, and it’s something I put myself under as well.  I challenge us to set aside a brief amount of time each day and try to craft a good short story.  Make it deliberate; don’t let it blossom into a novel.  Try to cap it, make it work within four pages or six thousand words, or whatever limit you want to place on it.  Try to do with your short story what Norman Rockwell did with his pictures: capture a segment of life in motion, and let that segment become a world of its own.

Immerse yourself in short stories.  Read Bradbury.  Read Stephen King.  Read Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Flannery O’Connor.  Go to your library, or local bookstore, or go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Look up short story anthologies.  Read them.  Learn from the best and graft their techniques and styles into your own.  As Bradbury said: good writers borrow.  Great writers steal.

For myself, I doubt I could pull off Bradbury’s challenge of one short story per week.  But, I think I can try one per month.  Some of them I’ll post here for free; others I’ll make part of the Surrealities series on Smashwords, and will someday (soon I hope) compile them into a single unit of short stories for sale, like I did with Alternate Endings.  I’ll probably write novels between now and the day I draw my final breath in this world.  But I’m going to make the short stories a bit more deliberate and planned, too.

So give it some thought.  And please feel free to send me some feedback.

Thanks for reading this.  As a parting gift, I’ll leave you two links below.  One is the aforementioned Ray Bradbury  video.  The other is a video interview with Stephen King about short stories, which I believe you will find to be interesting as well.

Okay, enough prattle from me.  Can’t write when I’m writing… wait…. 😀

See you in the Vein!
J. Dean

Youtube: “An Evening with Ray Bradbury”

Youtube: “Stephen King on the craft of Short Story Writing”

Threadbarecover

Greetings, Bearers!

In between my other projects, I found time to write a quick little story that I hope you enjoy:  “Thread. Bare.”

I won’t give much about the story away, except that it was inspired by something Stephen King said during an interview (Here’s the interview, if you’d like to try to figure out where the idea came from before reading the story).

The story is free at Smashwords for a limited time.  If you like it, let me know and tell somebody else about it! 😀  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Okay, back to work for me.

See you in the Vein (and anywhere else I might pop up!)

J. Dean