April Chaos Brings May More Chaos Probably

How has April been treating you? It’s National Poetry Month! So you’d think I have been busy doing poetry stuff, right? Well, there’s also life. There’s starting a new day job, ending the old one, picking up freelance gigs, helping take care of a sick bird…

In the midst of this mess, somehow I have managed to slowly make progress on a few projects:

  • 33 Fears – a chapbook of poems, each one based on a different phobia. I’m doing this for a contest – if I don’t win, I’ll just release it myself.
  • Masks Complete Trilogy – almost done formatting this. All 3 Mask books + bonus material. Coming soon…
  • Mask: Self album – slowly but surely working on this very weird instruMental album. Hoping to release it at the same time as the Complete Trilogy.
  • Random new Sykophunk tracks – had a recording session with Robb Mars recently, and we came up with 5 or 6 tracks. If I can mix the drunk out of them, we’ll have a new EP released soon.

I’ll continue to run KDP promotions through the rest of the month. April 15-19 Mask: Persona is free & April 22-26 Mask: Self will be free. Grab them up and leave me some reviews. I’d appreciate the crap outta that! And until next time, try to enjoy the daylight… (bonus points for anyone who knows what 80s show that’s from)

Revisiting Roots: Clive Barker’s Books of Blood

I’ve been very nostalgic lately. Maybe it has something to do with my recent health scare and being reminded of human mortality. Tomorrow is never promised, but we always have our memories of yesterday. Unless we experience amnesia, dementia, or whatever I have that makes me write ideas down on little pieces of paper because I know I won’t remember them tomorrow. But I digress…

My recent return to the past has brought back all kinds of fun stuff from my childhood and adolescence. I’ve been looking up old Dungeons & Dragons modules and listening to 80s and 90s music.

I’ve also decided to reread some classic Clive Barker short story collections, which has been a greater pleasure than I expected. It’s easy to see why this was the main guy that inspired me to write horror. Here’s a quote:

“We are all our own graveyards I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we’re healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived, and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present.”

Clive Barker

Damn, that’s inspiring! That quote is from the introduction to Books of Blood. This man just inspired me with his intro written in 1998 more than any author I’ve read since has done with entire books.

The actual stories are even better. It is such a pleasure to read something in which you can tell every sentence was carefully crafted with the proper word choice and rhythm to add that extra layer of magic to a story. These stories not only stand the test of time, they might even be better now in the wake of all the mediocre writing that has come since.

Horror authors these days need to step their game up – myself very much included. I doubt I’ll ever be as brilliant of a writer as Clive Barker, but revisiting his work has made me realize that putting in that extra effort is often what separates stories that make an impact from short-term entertainment.

Succubus-Inspired Poem Published!

The succubus has been associated with both wet dreams and sleep paralysis. What would happen if you had both at the same time? That’s the question I answer in my poem “She Visits When I Am Vulnerable,” which was just published on the Horror Sleaze Trash website!

I’ve never really written erotic horror before, so I’d love to get some feedback on it, good or bad.

Horror Sleaze Trash is an online zine for misfits. It’s a great place to find literature, art, and more that wouldn’t be published elsewhere because it goes too far outside of “safe” norms. Check out the HST site here.

2019 Goals: Month 1

As heard on The Mando Method via Project Entertainment Network, here are my creative goals for this year, with some extra qualifiers:

  • 1. Word count: 210K (100K fiction, 100K nonfiction, 10K poetry)
  • 2. Patreon: continue to release 6 things per month including a new serialized novella, short stories, essays, videos, poems, & songs (see below)
  • 3. Releases: 4 (2 albums – Persona & Self, 1 book – Masks complete, 1 interactive story – Adriana’s Tale)
  • 4. Submissions to anthologies/magazines: 24 (12 poetry, 6 fiction, 6 nonfiction queries)
  • 5. Edit & polish: the novella I finished last year, The Black Circle, to submit to publishers
  • 6. Get more subscribers on Patreon, whatever sorcery it takes

Here are a few nebulous bonus goals:

  • More networking (which has kind of already begun #MandoMafia)
  • Attend Days of the Dead Indianapolis in July (and get a vendor table?)
  • Book something while in New Orleans in September (my wife and I are taking a trip there, so I might as well see if I can do an open mic or something while we’re there)

How am I doing so far?

  • Mask: Persona album is recorded and almost ready for release
  • A little ahead of schedule for my Patreon releases
  • Came up with a marketing campaign for Patreon I will start to launch next month

My daily word count average is 441. I need to get that higher in order to hit my 210K goal for the year.

I’ll be posting monthly updates on my progress here and in my rEvolution Underground newsletter. Sign up if you want even more updates and free stuff. Thanks for taking this journey with me :) #Sykophunk!

How are you doing on your 2019 goals so far?Joseph VanBuren writing word count

I stole this idea from Armand Rosamilia. Each number is how many words I wrote that day. A big red X means I wrote zero words that day. Something to improve on.


#goals End of Year Review

Allow me to sum up my year in one word: overfull.

For me, 2018 was full of personal milestones: I graduated from college, got married, then my wife and I got a house. Through all that + working a day job and volunteering for the Horror Writers Association and the Red Cross, somehow I managed to do pretty well on my creative professional goals as well.

All year, I’ve been following in the footsteps of my favorite podcast, The Mando Method, and publicly stating my goals as a way to check on my progress, hold myself accountable, and adjust future plans as necessary. I set my goals at the start of the year and did a mid-year review. Now, it’s time to declare what I have and have not accomplished in 2018:

  • Finish and release two books with soundtracks. This goal was to complete my Masks trilogy of poetry books with soundtracks, which I didn’t quite do. The books Mask: Persona and Mask: Self have both been finished and released. I have recorded the Persona album; it needs some final mixing tweaks and artwork, then I can release it. I haven’t even begun work on the Self album.
  • Finish my serialized novella. I did accomplish this goal by writing and releasing The Black Circle in monthly episode chunks on Patreon.
  • Start a Patreon account with exclusive content. Thumbs up. I managed to release an average of 6 things every month + posted plenty of behind the scenes stuff.
  • Start my first novel and/or interactive fiction. I have indeed started both. I worked on an interactive story during the summer but abandoned it to focus on other things. I used NaNoWriMo to write 11K words of my first novel. Not sure how smart it was to begin two projects on top of everything else I do, but I did meet the goal, lol.
  • Write more short stories and poetry for market. This meant writing and submitting more than last year, and I did that by just a hair. Out of 20 submissions, I got two acceptances: Haunted are These Houses and Bards Against Hunger: Indiana Edition.
  • Keep working on building my platform. This is a vague goal that is hard to measure. But this year, I grew my mailing list, did interviews with Write to Survive Podcast and Kendall Reviews, and wrote a guest post for Gingernuts of Horror. I also participated in two author events, which is a small number but twice as many as last year and a superb achievement for a mega introvert.

Overall, I would say I did damn well on meeting my goals, and I am proud of my small victories in 2018. In looking at where I fell short, I can identify three factors that are not excuses but circumstances I need to keep in mind when setting goals for next year:

  • Moving and having a house. I had no idea what an impact this would have on my plans. Maintaining a home is a big responsibility and takes time away from doing other things. It is amazing having my own space dedicated to being creative. Now I just need to find the time to actually do it.
  • Too many ideas a.k.a. difficulty prioritizing. This shouldn’t be a problem for a creative mind, except for when the ideas pile up faster than they can be implemented. I have a long list of projects in progress and an even longer list of next things to work on. How do I know what to work on next?
  • Stretching myself too thin. Kind of goes along with having too many projects but also includes life, the day job, and my poor concept of time. I do get things scheduled and prioritized, eventually, and just having everything on paper in an orderly checklist relives so much anxiety for me. But as time goes by, I take on new projects, life throws curve balls, and I overestimate how much time I have to do it all. I need to be more realistic with how much I can put on my plate and always assume things will take longer than I think they will.

In fact, I am taking on less in 2019, and I encourage you to do the same. This past year, it seemed just about everyone was overworked, overwhelmed, and overly stressed out. I know I feel completely burned out right now. We don’t need that. We don’t have to be constantly multitasking, checking notifications, and reacting to every piece of misinformation that pops up in our never-ending feeds of distractions.

Unplug and take a break every once in a while. Disconnect and take a breath.

I plan on working hard and trying to exceed my own expectations no matter what life throws at me. But I will also remember to rest when I need to, take breaks and reflect on the moment, and cherish what truly matters to me: the health and happiness of my loved ones and of myself.

So, where to go from here?