Category Archives: Writing

Reflection on 2013 and Goals for 2014

ThumbnailWell, 2013 is nearly wrapped up with a nice little bow, in the bag, and on its way out the door. It’s been a mixed year. 2012 was a year that sucked pretty hard. I can’t say that about 2013. It’s been a year of ups and downs, some really good moments and some really bad moments.

I got married this year. That’s a big plus. I never managed to write my reflections on the wedding as I’d intended. I think the whole thing was so big that it got a little overwhelming when I sat down to try and write about it (yes, I did actually try to write about it, but never finished it; some photos and eventually video posted to my Facebook page will probably need to suffice; no, I haven’t posted any video yet, that’s forthcoming). It’s been a year of change. Our marriage has provided some ups and downs, but that’s mostly due to us adjusting to living life together rather than alone, which is something that we’ve both been used to. But the future stretches out before us, and walking that path together will in no way be bad.

On the negative side, I’ve continued to struggle to find regular work again. I’ve also lost some family and friends along the way. I didn’t achieve some of the resolutions I had set out for myself at the beginning of the year, such as my writing or fitness resolutions. And that’s why I’m taking a different approach to 2014. In intend to make 2014 a year full of positive changes and self-improvement, because if I don’t work to make myself better, who will? In that vein, I have decided on only one resolution:

I will not be setting resolutions for 2014.

In my mind, when we say we have New Year’s resolutions, they are things like “watch less television” or “eat healthier.” I’ve never felt that things like this need to wait for an arbitrary date. If you want to do it, then why not start now? There’s no reason to wait.

While I feel the same way about goals, I’ve been thinking a lot about them over the last couple of days, so by coincidence, I will be doing something a little different for the new year. Instead of general resolutions, I have decided to set specific goals to meet for 2014, using actual numbers and dates to meet wherever I can. My New Year’s Goals for 2014 are as follows, along with subgoals to help reach the major goals:

  1. Lose 50 pounds, with the first 30 pounds lost by my birthday in March; to accomplish this, I will:
    • Walk at least 30 minutes every day;
    • Drink at least two juices made with our juicer every day as a meal replacement;
    • Stop eating out and make as much food as possible at home from scratch;
    • Bring my blood pressure down so that my diastolic pressure is below 80.
  2. Have something that I feel ready to edit or send out for consideration by July, even if it’s just a short story; to accomplish this, I will:
    • Write a minimum of one hour every day, with a goal of 1500 words per day, but more if I can;
    • Continue the book reviews on this blog, but expand into movie and television reviews (open up a little);
    • Write a non-review blog post at least once per week, if nothing else than to keep the writing wheels greased.
  3. Have regular work again by the end of January.
  4. Read 52 books during the year (that’s one book per week).
  5. Complete my backlog of review books and write reviews, even short review, for all books which I have already provided ratings for by the end of 2014.
  6. Start clearing out my storage unit and admit what I’m not actually going to use or keep; to accomplish this, I will:
    • Donate old furniture that we won’t be using ever by the end of January;
    • Begin clearing out and selling old video games which I genuinely won’t ever play; have it sorted and some sold before my birthday.
  7. Practice handling my personal anxieties better; to accomplish this, I will:
    • Don’t be afraid to be an asshole; in other words, be more assertive and don’t be so concerned about feelings and opinions in business dealings if I know I’m right.

And because not all goals should be serious and we need to have a little fun:

  • Have watched, rated and/or reviewed a total of 2000 movies on my Flixster account by the end of the year (the current number is at 1825).
  • Due the same Oscar project I did in 2013, which is to watch and write mini-reviews of every Oscar-nominated movie in every category, then write a summary blog post of my personal picks before the actual awards ceremony.

By creating goals instead of resolutions, it feels that I am actually setting measurable and achievable changes to accomplish, and it feels more solid and less nebulous. Still, it’s still entirely up to me and there’s not much in the way of consequences if I don’t achieve them other than heavy self-criticism, but I still feel that setting these goals at least feels more concrete and creates a way that I can measure my progress.

I’ll probably check back in during the course of the year, especially with my goal of a regular blog post per week. In the meantime, goodbye and good night to 2013, and welcome to the future of 2014, which will soon be the present and then the past.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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The Man in the Tan: A Poetic Satire

ThumbnailThe Man in the Tan: A Poetic Satire by Sheldon Nylander
The economy of was down.
The banks had all fallen prey
To over-speculation
And no money to play.

Obama was elected
On a promise of change,
But the conservative backlash
Was really quite strange.

The midterm elections
Came around with a bang
And the House wound up falling
To a conservative gang.

A Tea Party entered
With no scones in sight
And with a big splash of Koch
They were ready to bite.

But who would lead them
As their rollbacks began?
Then entered an old voice.
He was the Man in the Tan.

He promised them changes,
But more the reverse.
His big sticking point
Was tightening the purse.

He promised them money.
He promised them freedom.
He promised them a return
To the Nineteen Fifties kingdom.

But his views didn’t hold
With a lot of the voters.
It was the Democrats who saved
The General Motors.

“We do not like the Orange Speaker of the House.
We do not like him. The man is a louse.”

Do you like him in his ties,
Even with his bald-faced lies?

“We do not like him in his ties,
Including all his bald-faced lies.
We do not like the Orange Speaker of the House.
We do not like him. The man is a louse.”

Would you with a cup of Tea
With his policies agree?

“We would not with a cup of Tea,
And from his policies we flee.
We do not like the Orange Speaker of the House.
We do not like him. The man is a louse.”

Would you if he gave out checks
On the floor of the House complex
From Big Tobacco, with respects?
You would not feel any ill effects.

“We would not, could not accept his checks
Especially in the House complex.
Instead we need some exorcists
To remove the Man’s lobbyists.
We do not like the Orange Speaker of the House.
We do not like him. The man is a louse.”

Into the House
The Orange Speaker did swagger
With a tear in his eye
And in the other a dagger.

The first thing they did
Before getting tough
Was read the Constitution.
An empty gesture, sure, but harmless enough.

Then it began.
At the mouth they did froth.
The rollbacks commenced.
From backs they took cloth.

They held the budget down
Towards a fiscal cliff they ran.
And their leader in all this
Was the Man in the Tan.

They got them a deal
To stop short of the cliff.
Then the Man let them go
And disappeared with a sniff.

But the adjournment did come
Before the next leaf
Could be turned over to vote
For Hurricane Sandy relief.

The people did cry.
The people did clamor.
But the Man in the Tan
Kept bringing the hammer.

Reagan’s policies he adored
Although they’d proved barren,
And what trickled down
Was really just urine.

His House cut off food stamps
For the poor and the needy.
But the only ones to benefit
Were his supporters, the greedy.

The Man struck a deal
With the Senate on budgets
But reneged on that promise
For the sake of his ballots.

He shutdown the Senate.
He shutdown the House.
No one could get help,
Not even the House mouse.

The families of workers
Were the ones getting screwed,
But the conservatives balked
And continued to feud.

But the outrage came
As the Tea Party did squeeze
The checks that won’t come
To fallen soldiers’ families.

“A clean budget they won’t vote for
To fix all the dimes.”
Although they tried on healthcare
A recorded forty-two times.

But a new battle loomed.
And there was a bad feeling
As a shadow approach:
The U.S. debt ceiling!

The Tea Party said
To let it all go.
They wore it with honor,
The party of “No.”

One Representative Cruz
Would be singing the blues
That despite all the news
No one agreed his views.

The Tea Party fought.
On ideology they did dwell.
But without any giving
It would all go to Hell.

But a debt ceiling crash
Would be a disaster.
Even the Man in the Tan
Began to work faster.

But too little, too late
Did the Speaker see through
A vote to save the country
And fell the other shoe.

The markets did crash,
The world was in turmoil,
The economy floundered,
And the money recoiled.

This was a crisis
That could not be undone.
At the end of it all
The Tea Party cried “We won!”

The people cried out
But everyone knew
The House was destroyed
Without Thing One or Thing Two.

He was the Speaker in Orange
He was a Speaker in trouble
But he was just now
The Speaker of rubble.

But if you read closely
You’ll notice, my friend,
That this is a tale
That we can amend.

The battle’s not over
And if we act now
This ending can change
And I’ll tell you how.

Let everyone know
Especially the powers
That’s you’re well aware
Of the precious ticking hours.

If enough voices rise
To affect a great change
We can end this debate.
That change is in range.

Email them all.
Write to their office.
Tell them to quit fooling
With the intern’s tight bodice.

Tell them we’re tired
Of all of this strife
This isn’t a game.
This is real life!

And keep writing and shouting
And remember their votes
And their coats and their notes
And their numerous quotes.

Remember this change
Has to happen with you.
If you fail to act,
You have no right to stew.

Vote with your ballots
Vote with your dollars
With enough votes we’ll get
Through their thick earwax armors.

Contact Congress

Why I Review Books

ThumbnailI’ve been reviewing a lot of books on this blog lately. The question comes up about why I review these books. Do I get paid or what? Well, let me tell you how it started.

I started this blog a little while ago just to have a place that I could write in long form, have a bit of a soapbox, and to publicly talk about what I was working on or what was going on. I’m still working on my writing. Actually, lately, I’m picking up the pace, although the novel I have been working on has taken a bit of a back-burner right now while I try to develop my skills a little more. It’s a project that’s really important to me and I want to be sure that I can do it justice. Being able to publicly talk about it creates a feeling of accountability. Admittedly, it does help with marketing if you know how to leverage it, which is something I’m working on. So, it’s not entirely for art’s sake.

I started reviewing books on this blog mostly because I needed content. It was very early in my blog’s life and I need to add content. At the time, things had kind of come to standstill with…well, everything. So I started putting my name on lists for review copies of books in several locations and began receiving some. The caveat with getting these is that they want you to provide them with a review, which is only fair. They give you a free book, you pay them with an honest review. I started putting these reviews on this blog and there you have it. It just became a thing.

I enjoy doing it because, aside from writing, I also enjoy reading. By reviewing these books, not only do I get to share my opinions and potentially help some authors, particularly new authors, but I get to reflect on what I just read and chew it over a little more, making sure I really understood it and got the most out of it. Do I get paid for it or do I want to get paid? Well, I don’t really get paid (with the Bizarro Brigade, I earn points toward receiving a free book, but that’s it). As for whether would I like to be paid, sure. Everyone would like to be paid for just about everything they do. I’d like to get paid for breathing, but that’s probably not going to happen. But if I were to ever get hired by a website or other publication to write reviews, I wouldn’t object. And I’m hoping that when I do start publishing my work (soon, I hope, once I get what I’m working on to a state I’m happy with), that they might return the favor of reading and providing an honest review. I can take criticism, and really I prefer honesty over anything else.

I did get myself into a situation a little while ago where I wound up receiving so many review copies that I couldn’t keep up. I’m still catching up, but I’m making a lot of headway. So if you’re a writer, editor, or publisher who needs a review and you want to send me a review copy, you’re welcome to contact me at the link above, but remember that I’m still catching up, and I’ll get to your book as soon as I can.

We’re Off to Camp NaNoWriMo

WritingDespite the number of book reviews that I’ve been posting lately (this was really never intended to be a review blog, but I like to help out other writers and small publishers), I have been spending a fair bit of time writing other stuff. I’ve made some progress in “Payroll” but it’s slowed down a bit, and I’m feeling like I need a short break from it to refresh my brain.

Since I’ve been getting a lot of ideas for short stories lately, and I want to develop them, I’ve decided to participate in the spinoff from the National Novel Writing Month, Camp NaNoWriMo this year. Given that it’s not the real NaNoWriMo (okay, it kind of is, but I consider the real one to be in November), I don’t feel too bad about setting my own goal for it. For those not familiar, NaNoWriMo occurs every November, and the goal is to write a fifty-thousand-word or more novel in 30 days. Camp NaNoWriMo is similar, but it occurs in June and August.

Anyway, I’ll be making June my short-story month. My goal is to write ten stories that are five thousand words or longer in length. It will amount to a full story every three days. So I will still have a fifty thousand word goal, just not as a single story. The stories will likely not be interconnected, at least not on the first run through.

My goal is two-fold. First, I want to branch out a little and not be so focused on writing my one novel at this moment. Secondly, it will give me more to work with, stories to submit to publications, magazines, etc. I may even throw a story or two up here for sample purposes if I feel comfortable enough with what I produce. Which is the tallest order of all, since I know that I’m my own worst critic. And it may give me ideas for other stories or expand to full novellas or novels at a later date.

I’m not sure what I will be writing these stories on. I’ve got a few ideas, but if anyone has any thoughts or has calls for submissions, I would be happy to incorporate it into my little collection to be written during the month of June.

Meet Molly Brown Nylander

ThumbnailThere have been many goings on recently. There’s actually been so much, that I haven’t had time to attend properly to this blog, like I wanted. But busy is good.

To start, I would like to introduce everyone to the newest adopted member of the Nylander clan, Molly Brown Nylander (sorry for the bad lighting, but if I used the flash, then I wouldn’t have been able to properly capture the color of her eyes):

Molly the Puppy

As I’m sure you can tell, she is a chocolate labrador retriever, recently turned one-year old. So she is still a puppy but in a full-grown body. Her favorite activities include sleeping on people’s feet, sniffing crotches, and playing keep-away in the backyard. She even has her own Twitter account: @mollybrownnyl.

She has been occupying a lot of my time lately. I recently moved out of my Santa Monica apartment and am on my way to living in Venice for a while, but for a short time I’m staying with my parents in the San Fernando Valley to help them out with Molly (she’s their puppy).

My mother recently went through major neck surgery, and with a rambunctious full-grown puppy around, it was a concern about her being able to take care of Molly the way a puppy needs during the day, as well as if Molly could get too rough with her while she’s healing. So, I’m staying with them to puppysit while my mother heals. My mother is actually doing very well so far, by the way.

However, this along with my job hunting has been taking up most of my time. This means that I will not achieve my goal of completing my novel, Payroll, by my birthday, which is in less than a week. I’ll have to give myself some other arbitrary date in the near future for when I will have it done so that I can once again miss my self-imposed deadline.

It’ll happen. You’ll see.

Now, if you’ll excuse the short update, I have a brisket in the pot to make my corned beef and cabbage recipe.