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Getting to know Sam Rose: The Love Story

Let’s start at the beginning. It’s the summer of 2012 in the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’m out with some of my fellow exchange students the weekend of the 4th of July the only way that North American’s abroad can–by getting absolutely shit-faced while a bunch of Argentineans look at us wondering how on earth any president that we elect is the leader of the free world.

We’re on a pub-crawl through the city’s Palermo Soho neighborhood and have just stopped at our first bar. As I walk in, she’s the first thing I see. In all fairness, at the time she was the first thing everyone walking in could see–She and a friend were dancing together on top of a table. I think it took everyone by surprise, which is why none of the staff seemed to be forcing her down. I don’t know, maybe they just liked the view. I definitely did–I got up on the table and joined her.

We talked for a while, mostly a lot of the usual stuff–I’m studying abroad, she’s on vacation, how catchy that Ai Se Eu Te Pego song is–and at one point, the company or whoever behind the pub crawl asked if they could take a picture of us. We say sure, she puts her arms around me and I hug her, our faces pressed up against one another, cheek to cheek. I must have taken over a hundred different photos during that summer. And I’d take a lot more with her as well–Us together at her place at Christmas, Us in New York City, or just Us out at a nice dinner for her birthday. Problem is, somewhere over the years, between switching of phones and a half-assed purge of memories of the relationship, that is one of the photos from that summer that didn’t end up making it, and I regret that. It was a good photo.

So let’s provide a little more context and answer some of the questions up front for you. No, we’re not still together. For a while after we broke up, it was complete silence. Then, Victoria (not her real name, of course) reached out to me and we started talking again. We became friends again.

Why did it not work out the first time? Same reason it usually doesn’t work out the first time or ends in divorce–we were too young. I was barely 20 at the time and getting my first steps in adulthood (insert asterisk for obvious reasons). It was also long distance, which, despite being a cliché, is one of the most stressful kinds of relationships, so I’m not surprise it was ultimately doomed. We always did a great job of making it work, texting each other whenever we could about whatever we could, regular video chats and the occasional “date night” FaceTime. And we would put in the work to come see each other when we could. I took on a job over the fall and saved every penny I could just to fly out to see her on Christmas. But there are those moments where because of cell service or time differences that you’re just left feeling alone, and that’s never fun.

So, how did it end? With a very poorly orchestrated phone call. I was supposed to come and see her the next day, but I had already been thinking all week about how I was going to break up with her. I had actually never broken up with someone, let alone someone I had fallen for so intensely. It was like I was on that table with her, but I didn’t know how to get down. Or I was afraid that if I did, it would break the table and we both would die. My first thought was to do it face-to-face. Can’t be a coward, I had to be a man and own up to the break up. I was going to go see her, probably would have to get a hotel room somewhere before I could go back. But I kept hovering over the reserve room button. I couldn’t do it. So I canceled my ticket and picked up the phone. When she picked up, I asked if she was alone. “No, Bruce is here.” I didn’t want to break up with her in front of her best friend, so I told her I’d talk to her later and hung up. She called me back. “Babe, what’s wrong? I can hear in your voice that something’s going on with you.”

Ok, one last question–why did I end it? To be honest, I felt like I was trapped. Not by her, but by this idea I had on who I was supposed to be. Look, I’m not going to wax on about how I was discovering myself and needed to make a change. If there was something going on with me, she was the first person I would want to talk to about it. But just because you love someone that much, doesn’t mean you always make the right decisions.

Ok, so let’s fast forward this story to a year ago. Victoria and I had just started talking again. Things are so different for both of us now. I’m in a new job, she’s in a new city, there are new friends and people in our lives, as well as some of the old ones. She invites me to come down and visit her and Bruce–they’re still friends and now roommates–for a couple of days, hang out like all three of us use to. I book a ticket.

I know what you’re thinking–Here comes the good old back-slide, a story as old as time itself. I’ll admit, maybe I thought the same thing too for a while. But when I get there, it’s just not what I expected at all. I thought there would be mountains of awkwardness to climb over, but really, after a briefly shared “this is so weird” moment, it was great. We went out and danced and drank and told stories and jokes together, just like the old days.

Now, curiousity did get the better of me, so I ended up asking if she ever ended up dating or seeing anyone else after me. I mean, I felt like I needed to know–did my breaking up with her send her on some devastating spiral of depression and hatred of men? Did I ruin all men for her and switch her over to the ladies? Was there ever anyone that would match the specter of me as one of her first loves. “Oh, yeah, there’s been a bunch.” She told me that she even fell in love again with another man, but that he had left her. She had been sad for a bit after we broke up, and she told me that I was a pretty good boyfriend while they dated. But my leaving hadn’t sent her into spinster-levels of depression. She and her heart had moved on.

She asked me the same question, and I told her honestly. “I mean, it’s mostly been hook ups. There’s been no one like you.” I thought that was nice to say. That I was being contrite and complimenting her. Took me a while after to realize what I really said. I broke up with her because I thought I had to move on, but even after all these years I was still in the same place. I hadn’t moved on. Because I wasn’t who I wanted to be. Only who I thought I was supposed to be. I hated the job I had, I felt like every year more and more friends from college and highschool were getting married or having kids or doing something that said to me “See, they have it all figured out. They made it work. Why couldn’t you?”

So, did I get back together with Victoria? No, dear reader, I didn’t. It might have been the biggest mistake of my life breaking up with her back then, but it was the right decision not to get back together with her now. I’m still as much of a mess in my head and heart as I was back in 2013, hovering over a 1 star hotel that I thought would be a just punishment for what I was about to do. Because, dear reader, this isn’t a lover story about a boy and a girl. It’s a story about self-love, and how hard if can be to find even 7 years later.

I don’t have any answers about what it is that is going to make me happy going forward or who I’m meant to be with. I doubt that even exists, that we’re meant to be with one specific person. But, I know that if you can’t find a way to love and be at peace with yourself, then no one else, no matter how perfect they were, will make you feel that way. I don’t think I necessarily saved Victoria from years of dealing with me, that somehow breaking up with her was the chivalrous thing to do. I just did, and now I’m just trying to figure out what’s next.

There is one good thing that came out of it though. While visiting her, I asked Victoria how she got into her new job as a DJ. I remembered that she had always loved music, but when we were dating, she worked in Concierge at a really fancy hotel–I’m talking the kind where presidents and kings stay at, and where, if you don’t have the net worth of a small island, you are politely asked to leave before they beat the ever living fuck out of you.

“I just loved it, so I started doing it.” What you expected something more poetic? It’s the truth, and hearing that truth from her actually inspired me to start writing again. So for the time being, when I feel like I don’t know who I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to do, or who I’m “meant to be with,” I just start writing.

PS. There’s a reason that I chose to write about love in this post. We just published our first short story on the website, called The Cannibal and The Vegan: Part 1 from my short story collection, Stories from the End of Time.

He eats kale. She eats people. But in their hearts, they’re just two kids wandering the apocalyptic wasteland of LA looking for someone to love.

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Monthly Update: February

During the month of February, from 2/13-2/20, we had a state wide failure of our power system. From Monday afternoon through Saturday morning of that week, I had no power and water and nearly froze to death in my apartment. Understandably, this impacted me in how much I was able to get done, in terms of weightloss, charity work, writing and school work, but I pushed through all the same. Hopefully March will turn a corner for us here in Texas. Expect a blog discussing more of my experience in the coming days as I process through it all.

Weight:

Weight loss from February

Over February, I only lost 0.6lbs, however, considering the freeze and other factors, it is understandable how things could have backslided. However, March is a new month and I feel confident and good going forward.

Charity:

MonthOrganizationHours WorkedVolunteer Activities
JanMobile Loaves and Fishes8.5Building handmade keepsakes boxes
FebSelf-Directed, N183 Mutual Aid and Assistance10Cooked 30+ meals, collected food and clothing donations and distributed them to the homeless under N183
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sept
Oct
Nov
Dec

Publishing:

Mystics and Misfits
Word Count30,480
Pages Edited33

Monthly Goal Update: January

Weight Goal:

My weight tracking chart for January, courtesy of FitIndex App and smartscale

Over January, I lost 8.6lbs. I’m on track towards my eventual goal of being under 200lbs before the end of the year. It’ll take time but that’s fine.

Charity Goal:

MonthOrganizationHours WorkedVolunteer Activities
JanMobile Loaves and Fishes8.5Building handmade keepsakes boxes
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sept
Oct
Nov
Dec

This woodworking took a lot of time and mistakes, but I’m glad that the keepsakes boxes I made will help brighten the living space of someone in need. Soon, I will hopefully be volunteering to drive supplies for a PPE distribution center. I told my friend about my monthly volunteering goal and she directed me there so I’ll be looking forward to that!

Publishing:

Mystics and Misfits
Rewrite word count24,064
Second Draft word count4,338

Since I have decided to rewrite my novel, Mystics and Misfits, I’ve updated this goal to include the Rewrite’s current word count as well as the word count of the second drafts I finish as I work on the initial rewrite. Turns out, you can do some editing and proofreading work as you write. Might have been helpful for me to know that first time around.

Word Vomit Comet!

So this is just a therapeutic exercise in expelling as many thoughts and words as I can. There’s no rhyme, no reason, and no rules. Just words. Think of it as free form poetry, only without the coffee shop and people in scarves they don’t need cause it’s 90 degrees.

I’m on a train

Choo Choo! All aboard! That’s right, I need everyone to become a board before getting on this train. Any board you want: 2×4, particle, card, etc.

This is a board only train you guys, so don’t expect anything exciting.

Guess the problem is that I’m hollow in the head. All those damn termites.

“I’ve been on a conductor of this board train for 20 years,” a chalk board in a conductor’s hat said. “I’ve given this job everything I have: my youth; my marriage; my chalk. And what do I get in return? 3 free passes to Six Flags over Plywood…”

What are the cross ties of this train’s rails made of, you didn’t ask? They’re made of string cheese and the red plastic thingies they wrap around baloney.

Or bologna.

Or Babybel Cheese.

I’m not sure. I’m not a train builder guy. I’m just a piece of board, standing here in front of another piece of board, asking you if you want to get hammered.

I had a bad experience once when I tried to make myself into a birdhouse. I ended up getting myself all screwed up.

The problems all began in boarding school. All the other students use to call me square because my width equaled my length. I was a late bloomer.

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Dark and Silly Books © 2020

Book Update: Beta Readers

Hi all, I wanted to give you an update. Following a review of the book by some trusted beta readers and professional reviewers, I decided to pause seeking further beta readers and rewrite Mystics and Misfits in The Myz Effect series.

My other personal goals, my school commitments and the amount of time and energy I will devote to the rewrite made this delay necessary. I hoped I would be closer to publication this year, but I have great feedback and a plan to get back on track.

Writing a book, let alone a series, requires a lot of dedication, time, and patience. You also need a healthy degree of honesty to know when things aren’t working the way you know they could.

I look forward to approach this story and this labor of love with fresh eyes. I also look forward to making sure that the final product I give you all meets my standards of excellence. Thank you all for your patience. Keep following to stay up to date

The Myz Effect--Book Update: Beta Readers
Dark and Silly Books, for weirdly tragic science fiction and fantasy fans…

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Dark and Silly Books © 2020

My 2021 New Year Goals

Happy New Year, my friends! We made it through 2020, thank whatever merciful god or giant turtle you worship. Some of us have lost loved ones over the last year or have had to go through probably the worst year in everyone’s life.

I’m not a vendor of false hope: things may not immediately get better. Positive vibes only go so far, so if you have stuff you need to do just to get by for the next 2-12 months and don’t have time for the pep talk, I get you. Stay safe and healthy, fam.

But if you’re interested in hearing about my plans, I’m happy to share some of my goals for the coming year. I don’t do this because I think, by looking at a loose list of aspirations of mine for the year, that your life will turn around or that you will be inspired. So, without further gilding the lilly (You say it’s a Shakespeare quote, I say it’s a Knights Tale ref), here are my goals for 2021.

1. Get below 200lbs

Yes, just like everyone else, one of my issues over the last year has been weight gain. At first, I thought ‘This will be over by the summer, I’ll just wait till then to figure out my workout routine in the age of Covid.’ Yeah, that didn’t fucking work out, did it?

Since college, I had kind of always sat, at my best, in the 210-215lb weight range. It mostly worked cause I’m a bit tall and have the kind of frame that hides a lot of that fat. But getting below 200lb was always something I considered unattainable.

At writing, I have a little over 30lb to lose, so I’m going to buckle down, stop making excuses and stop searching for magic beans and just work on it, and tell you how far I’ve got each month until I hit 200.

2. Publish my first novel

What did you think the blog of the self-publishing novelist Sam Rose wouldn’t include this in the new year’s resolutions? Come on, son.

As we stand, I have had some beta readers working with me on the first major rewrite of Mystics and Misfits, we have some illustrations and character intros, and a blurb. We’ve even done some editing and I’ve started in on book 2, Hacks and Hexes.

So 2021 will be the year that it’s all going to happen. By force of will, I will make sure I do everything I can to make this a successful launch and introduce you all to a whole new world. I’ll try and update you on pages edited, words written and other monthly updates.

3. Do more for others

I’d like to find more ways to give back, in terms of serving my community, working with local charities, and just helping where I can. Even before the pandemic, I was so self-focused and just uninvolved. But it really takes all of us, and I can’t feel right sitting on the sidelines anymore.

Whether it’s volunteering in food drives or soup kitchens, I am making it an important goal to try and give back and serve others more. It’s never been hard in terms of the motivation; I’ve always considered myself a giving person. I’ve often just not thought hard about what I could do on a regular basis.

And so in 2021, I’m going to volunteer at a minimum 8 hours every month, and post about it on my blog here, that way I am held accountable.

4. Maintain my “Taking Ass and Kicking Names” outlook

Guys, don’t know if you noticed, but 2020 was a bit of a body blow to people’s psyches, including my own. There’s a reason I need to lose over 30lb.

A lot of what went wrong in 2020 for me was allowing what were, in perspective, easily overcome obstacles like not getting to go out or travel or visit friends to interfere with much more important aspects of my health like physical fitness or mental resiliency.

In 2021, the goal is different: quarantining and social distancing probably isn’t going away anytime soon, and that’s not the problem. The problem is continuing to allow things that cannot change affect me so greatly and take more control of the things that I can and should change. So every month, I’m going to take time to reflect on the things I’ve accomplished, small or large.

Well, guys and gals, that’s it. Those are my goals, and my accountability measures. I know that the opportunity for me is out there, and I’m going to do my best to make it a reality. Life can sneak up on you, as we all learned, and she never stops trying to surprise us.

So when you have the chance to try and get the drop on life with some badass, wholesome and productive life planning, you need to take it. And if things don’t go according to plan, take your time to regroup and try again. I hope this year goes well for you all. Stay happy and healthy.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I just wanted to wish those celebrity this year, either alone or with family by zoom, a happy holidays.

Things have been rough and there’s been some body blows along the way. However, now is the time to take stock and find what we can be grateful for this year.

Myself personally, I’m grateful for the hardship of the year. I’ve been pretty lucky in terms of health and economic impact of the pandemic, but mentally it has been hard, and has revealed a lot of things I need to work on.

It’s also made me realize how much we all really on people we consider essential but take for granted. I can’t do much aside from support livable wages, better working conditions and other worker-first priorities, but I can do more on a volunteer basis for those in need. And that’s the plan for next year!

I’ve already filled out a form to volunteer delivering meals to seniors for Meals on Wheels during 2021. If you have want to help keep people fed, fill out a form to be connected with a partner organization in your zip code to volunteer with!

So, have a safe and healthy holiday, tell those you love what they mean to you, and get ready for a better year!

Book update: Mystics and Misfits

Good news!

I am going to be posting a page to the website soon for Beta Readers to sign up to receive a copy of the Mystics and Misfits Manuscript. The purpose for this is to provide a larger pool of beta readers as well as give people a chance to be introduced to the book early.

The beta reader process shall work as follows:

  1. Sign up and confidentiality agreement: The sign up page shall include contact information (Preferably gmail so I can send a view only gdoc), name, literary preferences, self-assigned deadline for completing the prologue and, after that, the full manuscript, and language confirming that you understand that any works sent to you are not for redistribution and that your reviews and comments on the material shall stay confidential between author and reader/reviewer, except for select quotes and testimonials submitted at the end of the process by the beta reader, at their discretion.
  2. You will be sent the prologue to read, and then provide detailed answers to questions to ensure that the sign up was not spam and that you are committed to providing detailed and thoughtful feedback. The answers are not graded, they are mainly to gauge your understanding of the material and ensure you actually read the material and will put thought into your answers.
  3. Following an adequate response to the prologue questions, you will then receive in the next 2-3 business days an encrypted copy of the manuscript and an end of reading questionnaire. I would ask you to not read the questions before you finish, so as to not taint your reading as you go through, but I will ensure there are no spoiler language or hints in the questions.
  4. Upon submitting your completed questionaire, you will be sent an email asking for any reader testimonial(s) you would like to provide for use by Dark and Silly Books, and whether you would like to put your full name, first name only, or anonymous attribution to your testimonial. All feedback, whether a testimonial is provided or not, is very valuable and not providing a testimonial will not impact decisions on future invites to beta read future books, either in this book series or a separate series.

I will be putting up the page with the approved forms and language towards the middle of January. In the meantime, if you are interested in beta reading, please feel free to contact me via the comments or our social media pages below.

Dark and Silly Books © 2020

Three Act Structure: How I plan and outline a book

So you’re thinking about writing a book, eh? Well! Prepare to do a lot of preparing, good sir or madam.

So, as a disclaimer, I would like to point out that for my first book, I did not do any preparation or outlining at all. I just sat down with a vague, half-baked notion of my characters and my story and winged it.

It wasn’t BAD, but it was not good by a literary standard in any stretch of the imagination, which is why it took me over a year to rewrite it and I am only now starting to do true copy and proof reading edits.

In On Writing, Stephen King says that he doesn’t bother that much with planning out specific plots or the global structure when he starts writing. He describes it more as starting with an idea and then doing the work to make that into a story.

But that’s Stephen King. He’s forgotten more about writing than you or I will ever learn. There is nothing wrong with coming up with an idea that you THINK could be a good story, putting some scaffolding-like structure around it.

So that’s what I’m going to share with you today. It’s not a scientific or even very academic method of outlining or structuring a novel, but this method won’t be the absolute worst.

The Three Act Structure

Writing a novel is like no other form of writing, but there are things from other mediums that I feel have been serviceable guides to my process and my writing schema, one of which being the theatrical or film concept of the three act structure.

What’s great about the three acts is that, at least for me, it helps me arrange the bones into a skeleton resembling what I learned in school was a story: Beginning, Middle and End.

Act One

For Act One, what I try to focus on is the exposition. So exposition can sometimes feel like an afterthought but guess what, JACK! Act One is important because, if it’s boring or not going to hook the reader, they’re not going to stick around for your even more amazing acts two through three.

Here’s a few questions to answer in Act One: What is going to be the voice of this novel? Who are the audience going to cheer for, and who are they going to cheer against? What is the inciting action, the confrontation?

Act Two

Act Two is rising action and the eventual twist of the book. Rising action is important to conveying the stakes, showing the conflict between characters and building suspense. Then the twist is that “oh WOW” kind of moment. It can be subtle or really in your face, but it is what all of Act Two has been building up to.

Questions to answer in Act Two: What is at stake for our protagonists? How and why are our antagonists motivated against our protagonists goals, or what goals of theirs conflict with our protagonists? Why are our characters destined for this conflict?

Act Three

Act Three is our climax and resolution, or denouement, which is a fancy french word for tie up the loose ends and put a bow on the story. Climax is always going to be the point you want to build up to the most, so it is crucial to spend as much time on it to get it right.

With your denouement, you need to consider any loose ends, unanswered questions, or deliver the things your audience would have expected or felt they were promised. You don’t want to Sam and Diane a pair of characters and end the novel without their being some kind of closure to that relationship.

After you figure out your three act structure, you’re hardly done but you’ve managed to start planning and approaching your story in a way that will benefit you in terms of what you want to accomplish. It will also give you a helpful reminder of the guardrails of your book, so that when you go to edit, you can keep in mind the parts that are most important or relevant to the plot.

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