Tag Archives: inspirations

What I Wouldn’t Give…

“Anything lost can be found again, except time.  Just like every other creative person I know, I have ten thousand projects that I want to do and only one lifetime to do them in.  I constantly have to remind myself of what’s really important and what I really should be concentrating on.”
–    Joseph Michael Linsner

As you might expect, I haven’t exactly been idle in the two months since I last posted on this blog.  The problem is that I haven’t exactly been productive, either.  It’s not that I haven’t been writing; it’s that I’ve been working on side projects, on the theory that, with the development of the website unavoidably delayed (once again I curse you, technical problem that was really just a misunderstanding on my part, and all the time lost as a result!), this was the time to get them done.

I still thought I could do all ten thousand projects in one lifetime.  The universe had been trying to tell me for some time that I can’t.  I’d found the poem “You Want a Social Life, With Friends” by Kenneth Koch taped up on an English professor’s door; a Facebook friend posted a quote by Steve Jobs about how focus isn’t about saying “yes” to one good idea, it means saying “no” to the hundred other good ideas you had at the same time.

And still I tried to deny that it applied to me.  Still I wanted to do the ten thousand things.

Then this past week hit me with a one-two-three combo.  First, I saw this trailer:

If you haven’t seen American Pop, I thoroughly recommend it.  It is indeed a movie of beauty and power, but if I have one complaint, it’s that it’s not nearly as musical as the trailer makes it seem.

Anyway, seeing that trailer, I began to ask myself: were the projects I was working on actually helping me to “grab it, hold it, and make [myself] heard”, or even work toward it?  Oh, they were great fun, but that was actually part of the problem.  Because last Friday, the second punch of the combo hit me: I took a look at those projects, and realized just how much I’d accomplished on those projects in the past two months.  I’d actually done a lot of work.  My new habits of setting a three-page-a-day goal for myself and focusing on one project, instead of having half-a-dozen documents open at a time, were paying off.

And they weren’t contributing to the career I’m trying to build.  I’d spent a lot of time, energy and pages on those projects, and they were not going to help me grab it, hold it, and make myself heard.

Then, on Saturday, I was reading an art book of Joseph Michael Linsner’s works, and I saw the quote at the top of this post.  And that was enough.  Anticlimactic but true.

I went out for a walk after that, a long walk, and I started thinking: I’ve often looked at people who are successful in their art and thought “what I wouldn’t give”.  But what have I given?  Anything?  Oh, I’ve given the time and the work, but that’s not even worth considering.  Like Benny says in the trailer, this isn’t work.  This is play.  I’ve got a full and busy life, and that’s good, but it means that I require a lot of focus to get any meaningful writing done.  I don’t have time to waste, if I ever really did.

How can I say “What I wouldn’t give” if I won’t even sacrifice some fun but distracting side projects?

So that’s what I’ve done.  One of them is probably gone for good, while the other – a tabletop roleplaying game that I would very much like to finish if only so I can play it – I hope to get back out again someday.  I’m a little sad about it, but someone wise once said that a good writer must be willing to kill their darlings, and it’s time for me to realize that that’s what I need to do.



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Preaching the Anti-Gospel

Anti-Christ Handbook 2

So I’ve been reading book 2 of The Anti-Christ Handbook, Fred Clark’s collection of the blog posts that he wrote, starting in 2003, criticizing the Left Behind books by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins.

I’ve reached the posts, titled Boutros Boutros Carpathia (a reference to Boutrous Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time the Left Behind books were written) where Nicolae Carpathia, the Antichrist, makes his debut before the United Nations.

In the world of Left Behind, the United Nations is not a collection of powerless diplomats, dependent on its member nations for every dime and employee, permanently half-paralyzed by competing interests among its most powerful members. In Left Behind, the United Nations is the de facto government of the world, with a relationship to member nations similar to the U.S. federal government’s relationship to the individual states.

(Mind you, this isn’t a deliberate alternate reality; Lahaye and Jenkins believe that this is, or will be, how the United Nations works in our world.)

This, of course, means that to conquer the world, Carpathia must conquer the UN. This results in the infamous scene where he wows the crowd at the UN by reciting the member nations’ names in order, saying each name in the language spoken by the people of that nation. We later find out that Carpathia has supernatural mind control powers, but he’s apparently not supposed to be using them in this scene; L&J genuinely believe that reciting a list would bring the UN General Assembly to their feet in a standing ovation and start whoever could perform such a feat on the path of world domination.

It’s a shame, really. That would be a demonstration of supernatural power indeed, to have a character almost literally reading from the phone book, and have the crowds go wild while the unaffected few are left looking around themselves and wondering what the hell is going on.

But Fred points out that there is an even larger missed opportunity here: Nicolae is the Antichrist. This is a perfect opportunity to draw a contrast between him and the Christ, thus demonstrating the character of both. Now, while a gathering of “all nations under Heaven” hearing Carpathia speak in their native tongue is a passable anti-Pentecost, Pentecost wasn’t one of Jesus’s miracles. That one goes to Peter, the Apostles, and the Holy Spirit well after Jesus had returned to Heaven. Instead, there should be some sort of anti-Baptism performed by an anti-John (the character Jonathan Stonagal was almost certainly supposed to be this – why couldn’t they wrangle some way to have him make Carpathia’s introductions at the UN? They have Rayford Steele, a civilian, get hired to pilot Air Force One.). And rather than reciting a list of member nations, this would be a good opportunity for Carpathia to preach his anti-Gospel, complete with anti-Beatitudes.

That got me thinking. What would anti-Beatitudes look like?
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Filed under Inspirations, Links, Reviews

Interesting Links – September 29, 2015

Yesterday, I introduced you to Queen Viarraluca, the heroine created by dubiousbyhabit of Sartorially Smart Heroines.  In the same post, I was given a link to dubious’s older blog, which contains excerpts and discussions of First Empress, the upcoming novel of which Queen Viarra is the protagonist.  I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m looking forward to it.  Keep us posted, dubious.  I’ll want a copy when it comes out.

Next, a little strip from The Oatmeal that I’ve been meaning to share, out of pure rueful desire for commiseration: How Your Body Responds To Exercise (at Different Ages).  The Twenties was true (if only I’d put the kind of effort into my health program then that I do now!), the Thirties has looked about like that so far, and as I approach my Forties, it’s starting to look more and more likely…

But for some hope, look at the hidden bonus panel.

Finally, to round it out, a long-delayed return to The Horrors of It All.  Today’s story, “And the Blood Ran Green“, is based on a story by Robert Bloch.  Considering that he’s the one who developed the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath from a throwaway mention in Lovecraft, just part of one of the Dark Mother’s many epithets, to the terrifying tentacled tree-things we all know and fear, it seems that Mr. Bloch might have had the same sort of thing for vegetable-based horrors that Lovecraft did for fish-based ones.  No matter; as you’ll see, he did them very, very well.


Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Inspirations, Links

One Lovely Blog Award


I am pleased and honored to announce that Dreams of the Shining Horizon has been nominated for the “One Lovely Blog” award. Thank you to the marvelous Justina Luther for the nomination.

This is the first time I’ve received something like this, so I’m still not quite sure what it is or what I’m doing. Some sort of blogger mutual-admiration award, it seems? I’m fine with that – you like me, you really really like me!


In truth, it’s not that confusing. The rules are very straightforward:

The rules are as follows:

  1. You must thank the person who nominated you and leave a link to their blog.
  2. You must list the rules and display the award.
  3. You must add 7 facts about yourself.
  4. You must nominate 15 other bloggers at the most, 3 at the least if you don’t have enough time for 15, and comment on one of their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

My Facts:

  1. My favorite songwriter is Jim Steinman. I’ve meant to write a post about the man and the inspiration his music has given me over the years pretty much since this blog was founded. I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before I actually step up and do it.   There are some stories that just have to be told, and they can only be put off so long.
  2. Like the song says, I was born in the sign of water, and it’s there that I feel my best.  Ocean, lake, river or swimming pool – when it’s a hot summer day and I’m in the water, I’m the happiest kid on the beach. That said, my fear of the dark (see #5) is always in effect, which means I’m afraid of water that’s dark and deep enough that I can’t see the bottom.  It doesn’t matter if I know the largest animal in that water is a trout, I still imagine huge slimy things rising up beneath me with their jaws open.   It takes an act of will for me to go water skiing, I can tell you, but you don’t want your fears to restrict your life. (Disclaimer: I am actually a Libra, which is apparently an Air sign, but that doesn’t fit the lyrics so well.)
  3. My Favorite season is Fall. It used to be winter, because I had nasty seasonal allergies and there’s no pollen in winter, but as I got older, it seemed like most of the really good things that ever happened to me have happened in fall. Both major times I’ve fallen in love in my life, it was in the Fall. Fall is my personal time of renewal, what Spring is to most people.  Besides – it’s cool and crisp, good sleeping and snuggling weather without being bitter cold and slushy.
  4. I love New York City almost like I would love a person. Every time it starts to wear me down, or I start to think that I have to work so hard just to stay here and it just isn’t worth it, I find some new and wonderful (or familiar and beloved) thing that makes my heart surge, and I remember why I love this place so much. All of the above goes double for Coney Island.
  5. I am, and always have been, afraid of the dark. I check the locks three times before I go to bed. I close the curtains (or at least avoid looking out the windows) once night falls. When visiting my parents in the country, I try to pretend the woods aren’t there after nightfall. When swimming in deep water, I don’t look down. I don’t know what nameless, faceless thing I fear to see, but if I ever saw it, I suspect it would stop my heart. I suspect this is why I write horror.
  6. I like to walk.  I mean, really, really like it. Like, 5-10 miles a day, especially on weekends like it. I wander the city, I explore the parks, stroll along the rivers. When I walk by myself, it’s a meditative act – music in my ears, shutting out the world. This works particularly well when I walk the beach at Coney Island. Nothing like putting your feet where earth, wind and water come together to help you forget about the little things.  Walking with Red Molly has been good for us in a whole bunch of different ways – good thing I’m in love with somebody who can keep up.
  7. I’ve recently discovered the Welsh word “Hiraeth”. It apparently doesn’t translate very well into English, but the definition I was given was “a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was”. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I discovered that there was a word for this feeling that I’ve experienced for so long. Hiraeth is the reason this blog is named what it is – the hope that I will find the home that I wish to return to somewhere beyond the shining horizon. When I read that word, and that definition, I not only was able to express what I was feeling for the first time, I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling it.

My Nominees:

Aetherial Engines

Lunatic or Genius?

Sartorially Smart Heroines



Filed under Inspirations, Links, My Life

Every Writer Needs To Remember

Stephen King Motivator

From On Writing, a book I would recommend to all prospective writers.

I often need to remind myself of this.  It’s easy to be confident in your abilities when you’re a teenager and pretty much the only serious writer in your high school.  Then you grow up, and you’ve been slogging away at this craft for more than twenty years, and you’re struggling to just get noticed (you and every one of the other 3 billion indie writers on the Internet), and you have to keep telling yourself that giving up is not the answer.

And also that “I’m just fooling myself” goes both ways.  Sometimes – often, most likely – you’re doing better than you think you are.

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Fred Clark’s Book The Anti-Christ Handbook is now available at Amazon!

Anti-Christ Handbook

I’m a few days late with this, I suppose, but I just have to share the news even if it’s not really news anymore.

For those of you who’ve never heard of Fred Clark, the Slacktivist, you clearly haven’t been reading this blog for very long.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Fred has spent more than ten years reviewing the Left Behind series of fundamentalist Christian apocalyptic novels.  And while outside reviewers have written individual articles about how the Left Behind novels are nothing more than a very long sadistic revenge fantasy written for an audience who would never admit to harboring such fantasies, Fred’s page-by-page attention to detail and intimate knowledge of Evangelical Christian culture gives a true understanding of “the horror and hilarity of Left Behind” that you just can’t get anywhere else.

And now, after ten years, Fred has finally collected the posts where he examines the first 200 pages of Left Behind into his own book:

The Anti-Christ Handbook

The Anti-Christ Handbook has already shot to number one in its very, very specialized niche on Amazon, and been praised by the writers of The Daily Show.

For my own part, I can’t recommend The Anti-Christ Handbook enough.  Fred Clark’s Left Behind posts have been some of the most valuable writing resources I’ve ever found online.  Not only do they give some of the best examples in all literature of What Not To Do, but they generally follow up with advice and suggestions on how it could have been done better (spoilers: just about anything would be better).  Also, since Fred is an evangelical Christian himself, he gives us outsiders an insight into the subculture (and all the literary tropes that go with it) that we otherwise would have no way of getting.  All done with his trademark compassion and biting humor.

The best advice I can give you is to pick up a copy of The Anti-Christ Handbook today.

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Calvin, Hobbes and Bacon

How many of you out there remember Calvin and Hobbes?  It makes me sad to realize that a lot of you probably don’t; Calvin and Hobbes was one of the greatest newspaper comic strips of the Eighties and Nineties – one of the last great wave before webcomics changed the art form forever – and an entire generation has grown to adulthood since the two buddies sledded off into the snowy distance on December 31, 1995:


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