Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Tuesday Triple (4)

After yesterday's big announcement of my new fan forum and the forthcoming Summer Shootout Writing Contest, let's see what kind of songs roll off the old Media Player.  Will they be profoundly fitting, or random garbage... or both?

Send Her My Love (Live) –Journey:  Blah.  That's what hits me when I hear this song.  It's not one of my favorites, just another drippy love song.  This live performance doesn't make it any better.  That's a disappointing start to today's triple.

Say it With Love – The Moody Blues:  Blah x2!  Hey, I really like the Moody Blues, but this is one of their lesser songs.  It was the "big hit" from their Keys of the Kingdom album, but there were so many better songs on it!  While I like this a lot more than Send Her My Love, it is still a pretty unexciting selection.  Two down, one to go...

Sick of Myself –Matthew Sweet:  The Media Player seeks to redeem itself with the third song by throwing out Matthew Sweet's biggest hit.  While not my personal favorite, this is the song was really the peak of his career.  It was the first song on his 100% Fun album, and it was the first of his songs I ever heard (or remember hearing).  Yes, this far outshines the first two songs in this week's triple play.  Bravo!

Well, at least it wasn't a full slate of mediocre songs.  Let's see what next week brings.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Shootout Writing Contest & A New Forum!

This weekend, I set up the Martin T. Ingham Official Fan Forum!  It's something that is still in the early stages, and I haven't had the time to post much there yet, though it is something I have thought about doing for quite a while.  This will be a place for my readers to converge and interact, to share what they like about my stories and learn more about them.  I'm not sure how hopping it'll be, but it will be another venue for activities.

The main impetus behind the forum's creation is the upcoming 2012 Exceptional Summer Shootout Writing Contest, which I will be hosting.  I was planning to have it over at the Pill Hill Press Forum, but as the editor/admin over there is pretty busy at the moment with some personal stuff, I made the choice to move the venue to a new locale.  What better place than my own fan forum?

There will be a pretty good prize for the ultimate winner of this shootout.  I'll be putting together a short story anthology, and the winner of this shootout will be granted publication to that collection!  It's something I've been thinking about doing for a while now.  The finalists are always the best of the best when it comes to writing, so I have no doubt that the winning story will be of sufficient quality.

So, any of my fellow writers who want a shot at the contest, here is the official invitation.  Keep in mind, space is limited, so sign up soon:

I'm pleased to announce the Exceptional Summer Shootout writing competition, which will test the mettle of writers near and far in a grand test of skill and stamina!  It all starts July 14, 2012!

These contests are always fun, and they spur the creation of highly publishable works.  Many shootout stories over the years have found homes in various anthologies and zines, and every participant receives valuable insights into their stories during the review process.

The shootout concept is simple.  Participating writers are given a prompt and one week to write a short story based on that prompt.  The subsequent week, the stories are reviewed by the participants.  Story authors remain anonymous until the reviews are final, and the reviews are kept anonymous for fair and unbiased opinion.

For the Exceptional Summer Shootout, we'll be setting up a team system, where 2 or more groups of writers will be competing head to head.  There won't be eliminations, so each writer will get the chance to write and review in 3 regular rounds.  After those 3 rounds, the top scoring writers on each team will compete for the win.

There will be one Grand Prize awarded to the writer who wins the final round:  Publication!  The winning writer will have their final story accepted for publication to an anthology that I will be editing for Hall Brothers Entertainment.  There will also be a nominal monetary payment given in addition to the publication acceptance.

To sign up, post in this thread, saying you want to participate:

Additional purpose and value of the shootout:

For those of you who haven't participated before, you may be asking this question.  Above and beyond the grand prize, these are the main reasons to participate in the shootout:

1: Entertainment –This is the first and most important aspect of the shootout.  It is designed to be a fun experience, something a writer does because they like to write, and they want to test themselves against their contemporaries.  It's a game, first and foremost!

2: Reviews –A lot of writers enjoy the critique part of the contest.  Not only do you receive valuable reviews about your own creations, but you also have the opportunity to give your two cents worth on the stories of fellow writers.

3: Free Stories –If you're a writer, you have to enjoy reading, and participating in the shootout gives you the opportunity to read fresh material from your fellow writers.

4: Prestige –There is a certain level of pride one can have in themselves and their skills when they successfully run the entire gamut of a shootout.  Even though the finalists and eventual winner may have the greatest bragging rights, any participant can feel good about successfully creating new works of fiction in a short amount of time based on a particular prompt.

So, even if you don't win the shootout, you have some very positive reasons to participate!

Contest Caveats:

Participation Requirement:  If you sign up, please be sure you can handle the workload.  You'll need to write a short story in one week and then review 5 to 8 stories the following week (number of stories reviewed will depend on the number of participants we end up having).  This will happen 3 times in a row (write then review), so do your best.

Negative Feedback:  While reviews are expected to be considerate and constructive, they're also supposed to be honest.  It is possible someone may provide actual criticism of your story.  Be prepared to receive a modicum of negative feedback.

Document Format:  Your stories/comments will have to be submitted via email in either a .doc or .rtf format.  No .docx files!  Please make sure you can submit in the stated formats.

Well, I think that covers everything major.  Let's see some volunteers!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Tuesday Triple (3)

It's the triple triple!  To celebrate our third installment in the Tuesday triple, I'll be giving away a big whopping nothing!  That's right, everyone who reads this week's blog post will receive the legendary no-prize made famous by Marvel Comics during the 70s and 80s.  To claim your no-prize, just listen to each of the three songs listed below and have a great day!

Sometimes Less Is More –Justin Hayward:  This singer/guitarist for the Moody Blues put out a little known solo album in 1996 called "View From the Hill," and this was one of the lackluster songs among the collection.  Now, I can't say it was a horrible release; it's just nothing special.  As I said, it's lackluster, a collection of easy listening songs with soft melodies, but nothing I'd call a hit.  It's a pretty bland beginning for our trio.

Down on the Ground –Tommy Shaw:  Next, we have a song from the singer/guitarist of Styx.  In 1998, he put out a solo album (it seemed to be the thing to do for aging rockers in the late 90s) called "Seven Deadly Zens."  Unlike Justin Hayward's release of the same period, this album had a few good tunes, but also some middle of the road stuff, and a few duds (plus some voice work by ST:TNG's own Deanna Troi).  This is one that seems to sit in the low-mid range of quality; an okay filler song with a catchy tune and enough of a beat to keep you awake. It reminds me of some Bon Jovi songs in that regard.

Long Live Rock –The Who:  It seems to be the day for fillers.  Here's a reject song that The Who shoved on their "Odds and Sods" album, of odds and ends.  This song wasn't good enough to put on a regular album, and it doesn't really do it for me.  There are gems amongst the clutter on the cutting room floor, but this wasn't one of them.

There you have three songs that really don't do it for me.  Give them a try, and see if you feel differently.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Triple (2)

Well, last Tuesday's inaugural post for this feature seemed to be well-received.  I'll keep producing these for the time being, and hope it will keep people engaged while I work through a dry period in my blogging life.

So, without delay, here are the 3 random songs that came up this morning:

All Over My Head –Matthew Sweet:  Here's a quaint rock song from his Blue Sky on Mars album.  While it's a pretty catchy tune, it never quite hit the threshold of "hit."  When rating his songs, this one always came near the top of the second round of selections, and might fit in well with a "Best of Matthew Sweet, Volume 2" if ever such an album were released.  Enjoyable, and worth a listen, most certainly.

Tightrope –Electric Light Orchestra:  The first track on the breakthrough "A New World Record" album, which brought ELO into the second half of the 70's.  While still utilizing orchestration and Beatles-esque styling, this album started to contain a little more of a contemporary sound, less like "the 60's part-2" and more like the modern rock of that time.  This song was always one of my favorites as a kid, as it is upbeat, fast-paced, with some classical flourishes.  It's still a 5-star song in my book.

One Summer Dream –Electric Light Orchestra:  Jumping back to the previous album, "Face the Music," we have a soft, melancholy song which can stir some touching emotions or put you to sleep, depending on your mood.  After hearing the first two songs in this week's triple, this one cools everything down nicely.

Once again, if you have these songs handy, give them a listen.  If not, maybe go out and find them (legally), and then see what you think of them.  Until next week, keep on listening...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Write for Yourself

I've had a hard time getting any writing done lately, and while I could attribute some of this to my current work schedule, much of the blame lies with my state of mind.  I just haven't felt the inclination to produce fiction, and that has caused my work to suffer.  Upon reflection, the root of this attitude lies in the fact that I've violated one of my cardinal rules: write for yourself.

To say that my writing career is not as successful as I desire (and once envisioned it would be) is a great understatement.  Long ago, when success was lagging, I came to the conclusion that in order to churn out fiction I needed to write what I wanted to write.  I could not be concerned with what other people thought of my work.  They would either like what I produced, or they wouldn't.  This attitude allowed me to produce some of my best works, but recently I seem to have lost sight of this.

Yes, there are those of you out there who really like my stories, but there are obviously many of you who don't.  Looking closer to home, most of the people I personally know either don't have an interest in my writing, or really don't like it.  This is illustrated by their silence.  They are too kind to tell me that my fiction just isn't for them.  Truly, the majority of my fan-base is people I have never met, and always will be.

While the West of the Warlock series continues to grow in popularity, it is still a far cry from where I need to be for commercial success, and my delayed fame grates at my ego.  I have recently been trying to write stories for other people, thinking of what they might want to read, rather than just writing whatever I will enjoy.  Trying to write stories for an audience that doesn't exist (or is statistically insignificant) is a futile endeavor, and is a common cause of writer's block.

Until I find greater success, and have a much larger audience, I cannot allow myself the luxury of writing for others.  I need to focus my attention on creating stories that I like to write, or I will be doomed to depression.

I don't bring this up because I wish to lament my own misfortune, but to help other writers who may be suffering the same dilemma.  If you don't have a large readership, you cannot be too concerned with what others think of your writing.  You must be your most important critic and fan.  So long as you enjoy the stories you write, they are worth writing.  The day you start making real money from them is the day you can start being concerned with other people's opinions, not before.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Tuesday Triple (1)

Here's a new feature that I'm going to try out on the blog for the foreseeable future (or until I get bored with it).  Each Tuesday, I'm going to hit the randomizer setting on my Media Player and write up a brief commentary on the first 3 songs that come up.  I happen to have a lot of music on my computer (all 100% licensed), and most of it falls into the "classic rock" or "oldies" category.  I still have a lot of vinyl lp's that I'd like to get on disc at some point, as well.

Okay, so here goes.  The very first Tuesday Triple!

1:  Last One –Paw.  There are a few good songs by this group, though this is one that falls in the blah category.  It isn't really a bad tune, but it doesn't have any kick to it.  It's fairly bland until toward the end, where things speed up a bit, before calming down again.

2:  Oh How Happy –Shades of Blue.  This is the only song I have by this group.  It's on a collection of "hits" from 1965, and while I wouldn't call it a favorite, this is a nice little song.  A little sappy, perhaps, but at least it has decent rhythm.

3:  Isn't Life Strange –The Moody Blues.  One of the bigger hits from their "Seventh Sojourn" album, there's something haunting and almost sad about this original version.  Personally, I prefer the remake found on their "Legend of a Band" compilation album.

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into blogging excellence.  If you have any of these songs, think about playing them at some point today, and see how they make you feel.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Angell Link

As I mentioned in April, I recently uncovered some conflicting data on my Tucker side, concerning Sarah Angell Tucker, wife of James Tucker, mother of Simeon Tucker.  As explained in my Too Many Tuckers column, the data I had first posted last year was based on the findings of another cousin, and the more I research, the more it appears those claims were erroneous.  I generally try to vet my data more thoroughly before posting it on the blog, but when in need of a "T" column for the A to Z Challenge last year, I rushed things.

Further research gives far more credence to the Angell link, including the presence of Christian Church Angell's grave in the same Halifax, VT cemetery as James & Sarah (Angell) Tucker.

Excerpts from Avery F. Angell's book, "Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Angell, Who Settled in Providence, 1636," give some more interesting pointers about the Angell line, including the lineage of William Angell.  It seems William's particular line is a hard one to trace, but he's purportedly the son of James Angell, making him the great-grandson of Thomas Angell.  For those who aren't familiar with Thomas Angell, he was an illiterate teenager who accompanied Roger Williams into the wilderness to found Providence, Rhode Island (as the title of Avery's book suggests).

Details on the children of James Angell are hard to find, possibly because his descendants wished to distance themselves from him.  James was classified as legally insane at some point, though there is little else mentioned about it.

I won't go out on a limb and claim a definite link to Thomas Angell, but the evidence that currently exists seems to point in that direction.  It would be nice to uncover solid proof someday.