Creative Dispatch – June 28, 2017

So, I’m back in the saddle and working toward a few goals. One of which is being accomplished right now, as promised. Consider this the first of two blog posts I owe you, dear reader.

But, to the matter at hand. I consider this to be the first of a new category of posts: creative dispatches. These will be where I go about describing progress, discussing process, asking my audience what they like and don’t like, and also to posit what should be reprioritized (within reason, woe betide those who stand in the creative squirrel’s way).

creative dispatch judgesquirrel
He’s a pushy bastard to be sure.

Another thing I’d like to note is you might have seen here that it’s a bastard of a process to get posting privileges here. Right now, take all your comments, criticisms, concerns, accolades, and other mercurial threats to the book of faces. Chances are, Facebook is how you got here, but just in case you couldn’t find it, come at me here:

I’ll be working on getting a sign in system here for more direct feedback. I had to disable the comments feature long, long ago on account of Russian spambots and penis enlargement database injection attempts (at least they’re aptly named). There’s better ways to go about it these days, like Disqus or other platforms. Not sure when it’s coming, but hopefully soon.

Now, as for the progress of my craft:

  • Ossua writing was briefly halted due to preparations for (and the actual act of) matrimony. This was followed by a vacation (much needed) for my wife while her family was still in town. Vacation ends tomorrow, so I should be back to schedule by the end of the week.
  • I’ve got a minor visual project to bang out by the end of next week. I’d like to have it completed within a week so I can post it here by Friday.
  • A short fiction piece was completed just before the wedding. It involves a thief connected to the element of air, stealing a holy tome from an abbey full of werewolves. Looking back on the first pass, there’s a lot to fix. More on that as it develops. Tangentially, it may even connect to one of my earlier stories, Blackhand.
  • I have submitted a short story from my 2015 writing challenge. After polishing it for some time, it seems it has paid off. The story is under consideration by a publisher for one of their upcoming titles. I don’t really want to say anything more than that as I don’t know what I’ll be able to say or not say. When I know more, you’ll know more. My wife and I are super excited!
  • I have resorted my kanban board to prioritize editing and submission work. Right now, I’ll be editing my serial killer short story, as well as my Halloween-themed tale of what happens to trick or treaters who can’t follow directions.

This is all I have for now – but keep an ear to the blog (is that even a thing – now it’s a thing). I’ll bring more news as I get it.



I made a big deal last week about a creative schedule, and, you might have noticed there was a distinct diversion. “Maurice,” you might say. “You owe me a blog post! Two even!” And, you’d be correct. I do. But, I promise you I have the best reason ever:

I got married!


Yes! After four years together, my wife and I tied the knot last Thursday. We’ve been out and about our stomping grounds in celebration with our families. I didn’t exactly have the time for updates and blog type things. Because… married!

We are both very excited to be starting this new chapter in our lives and will be settling into our new roles as husband and wife.

And now, for a couple of details for our friends and family…

We held a private ceremony at the courthouse to make our wedding as low pressure as possible for both of us. We’ve wanted to get married for the past two years – money and anxiety shouldn’t have to stand in the way of two people marrying each other. My wife isn’t huge on being the center of social attention for hours at a time. We both didn’t want to face the debt of a large to-do. This was ultimately the best way we could think for both of us to get married without indebting ourselves or making either of us feel weird.

The only people informed were either blood relatives or among a handful of people who were asked two years ago to be in a traditional ceremony being planned at that time. The wedding was attended by four people: my mother, my father, my wife’s mother, and my wife’s sister. Both my father and my wife’s sister served as witnesses. This was as large an attendance as we wanted for the day itself in the name of fairness to one another – two people each, all of whom were blood.

As a message to our friends: you are special and we want to celebrate with you in person. We are planning for a low-key social to do… eventually. We’re not sure what or when. It may be a BBQ this summer, it may be a renewal of vows in a year or two with some airs of ceremony. I have no doubt we’ll be making the rounds as well in the weeks and/or months to come. When such an event comes due, no one owes us anything for the wedding. The grace of your presence is gift enough for both of us should you choose to attend.

If the circumstance of our marriage leaves you feeling snubbed, left out, or cheated, know that we in no way meant to offend, shock, or disappoint. This was not meant as a personal affront to any of our friends. A lottery win wasn’t going to happen to fund something traditional, nor was a loan. No one’s feelings were going to change about six hours of all eyes being on us. We just wanted to get married without crushing debt, unnecessary stress, or leaning towards tradition just because it’s what people expect.

To our friends and family: we loved you before the wedding, we love you now that we’re married, and we’ll love you in the future. We did what was right for our marriage to be realized. We stand by it as we move into the rest of our lives together with all of you.

We look very much forward to our life together, and we’re excited to see where the adventure of marriage takes us!

Ossua: Exactly What Is It?

Ossua has been around for a while now. But, what is it?

It’s had a few different guises. It’s been a message board, a WYSIWYG generated experiment, and a blog. The blog has been the longest incarnation. So, in a sense, Ossua is this domain name and it’s various servers throughout the years.

But that’s not really the answer. To explain what Ossua is, you’ll need to come back to the mid-nineties with me.

I have always been rather fond of other realities as found in books, films, and stories. I guess I’m an escapist at heart. If you have the kind of early childhood I had, I suppose it might even be inevitable. Being anywhere else starts to sound good. I don’t mean to give you the impression I had a bad family life – my parents brought me up well, and even the sibling troubles between my sister and I mended once we were about three thousand miles apart and didn’t have to share a bathroom anymore. But other kids… other kids were the worst. Add in an early and traumatic introduction to the concept of death… so… yeah. I spent a lot of time in my head and in the heads of others through reading.

In my mid teens MTV released a television show called The Maxx, created by all around amazing guy, Sam Kieth. It was based on a comic by the same name, which I also picked up issues of here and there. I loved it. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, it’s about Maxx, a purple-suited vagrant who is trapped between two worlds. There’s the world that you and I live in (the debatably ‘real’ world), but there is another world. It’s called the Outback, and that’s where our true selves emerge for good or ill. Maxx can’t seem to control where he ends up sometimes. He slips in and out of each world unwittingly, generating a potpourri of mental illness for him. Whether or not one world is more real than the other is up for debate. Each person has their own kind of outback. Maxx and Julie (his social worker and also his Leopard Queen) share one due to a linked trauma, and they spend a lot of time in it trying to figure out their own issues, fears, and insecurities.

The Outback concept was super sticky in my mind. I could see myself running ahead of packs of Isz (one of the Outback’s many weird creatures), climbing its smoking mountains, and in general reveling in the pure weirdness of the place.

Then one night in college I finally asked myself: what does my outback look like?

And thatthat is Ossua. It’s a world in my head that I’ve been building since that lightning bolt moment at my dorm room desk. I didn’t start drawing things that day. That would come later and never to my satisfaction. But, the world germinated and started to push out little tendrils into my brain until I could see it.

The clarity and scope of it wasn’t like anything else I’d dared to dream before. I saw a land that was part the ruins of our culture on Earth, part Tolkien-esque fantasy land, part Faerie Tale, and all weird. It was populated by not only humans (some even from our world), but by benign beastmen (at least twelve tribes!), Gourd Maws (good-natured yet terrifying looking demi-humans), a long lived royal line that ruled benevolently. It was a place where nothing ever dies so much as ‘moves on’ into the East to an undiscovered sub-continent that only the departed can know. Shamans grew vegetables and honored their farm animals, gently releasing their souls and honoring them before taking their flesh. From the Grand Palace Bulb in the city of Ygg, a great and egalitarian empire was formed, where justice and happiness existed for every citizen of the Empire. Nothing had to suffer. Nothing had to fear. It was a wonderful place where everything was right.

Until it wasn’t.

I lost a great and admired friend, Erik, in the summer of 2005. And on that day, it turned out that the Great Baron of Ossua died. His sudden death – in front of me no less – sent me into a grief spiral that essentially broke my own private Outback over a series of months, shattering it into a thousand splinters of broken mirror. Ossua’s fate paralleled my own life; it became something broken, suffering catastrophic throes of pain and loss. It became as much an autobiographical work as it was a fantasy setting. A lot of stress went into it. A lot of lessons. A lot of hard times.

It didn’t die, though. Places like the Outback and Ossua have trouble laying down, even when dealt a mortal wound. It persisted. It grew shadows. Balance went off kilter, turning the landscape of my mind into strange reflections of what they once were in my bizarre world. Slowly, a story emerged from it. I’d never been able to do anything with Ossua because in a perfect land where nothing goes sideways… there aren’t a lot of gripping stories to be told. Now that Ossua was battered and mangled, I thought I might just have a story grow out of it. If I worked at it. If I believed. And if I didn’t let the trauma of 2005 drive both Ossua and myself into the ground.

Soon after, I found myself with the opportunity to register two domain names. One of them was this one: It’s been with me, waiting for it’s true purpose. For about thirteen years now I’ve been refining it in my head. Populating it with all sorts of beings great and small, fair and foul. And it’s meant to be for the young and old alike.

And I’m going to write it. Finally, I am going to write it. Because my niece and nephew aren’t getting any younger. And Uncle Maurice has so many stories to tell them. Also, It’s a story Erik’s widow and his daughter deserve to hear too. HIs daughter is already twelve. I’ve wasted so much time.

I want you to see it too. You should get to travel the River Proteus, see the fantastic shores of Delphome, climb Night’s Peak, and maybe even see beyond The Drop in the East to peek into the Misted Vale where the spirits live.

So come with me. Keep an eye out. I think it’s time to start setting the history of Ossua down on paper. Because, an untold story doesn’t do anyone any favors.


Site Update – The Challenges

You might notice that the writing challenges from 2015 have gone the way of the dodo. This is intentional. The Site Update is upon us.

You may remember back in 2016, before my life became much more complicated, I had intended to start editing and working towards publication. That time has come. I’ve taken down the (wretchedly) rough stories from the blog, and I’m now actively going through a review process… and looking for publishers!

I have about three stories that I feel are fit to print as of right now. I’ll be working these through the various publisher options I’m digging up and feeling out the landscape. Keep an ear to the ground for more information as it comes.

For the folks who really liked the stories, fret not – there hopefully will be buying options soon!

Halfway There

So, here we are. Six months later, halfway through. The writing challenge has gone better than I ever anticipated it would. To be honest, I thought this would be the kind of thing that would peter out in three weeks, another self imposed thing that I would find falling by the wayside in three weeks.

But, here I am. Twenty-six stories all in place. Some are fragmentary as more than a few test readers noted, smaller parts or vignettes of larger works. Some are full formed, beginning, middle, end. Some are better than others. Unfortunately, all stories are not created equal.

But, I’ve been rolling around the whole thing in my head and I’ve been planning this for a few weeks. There’s a new benchmark I’m looking to meet.

The second half of the challenge will look a lot like the first part. I’ll be putting out a short a week right up until 2016. That will not change. What will change is the Writing Challenge page.

You’ll note that I’ll be un-linking some of the short stories at some point in the future. My goal is to select twelve stories from the challenge, a little under half of the stories to date, and continue revision or possibly even expanding some of the tales that I feel are the strongest or that people have been good enough to advocate for.

After that, I will begin seeking publication of the story as an anthology, either traditionally or electronically.

That’s the plan.

So, with that said, I’m going to be goddamned busy. Wish me luck.

A Pattern To Emerge – Writing Challenge

So, the pattern I speak of is going to assert itself if I have my druthers. And that pattern is this:

I want you to come to my blog every Wednesday. Because every Wednesday in 2015, I plan to have a short story written. This shall be the day each week that I’ll check in with a new story, god willing. I promise they’ll be short – not my usual bloated messes. Because that’s a part of the challenge to myself. I have 2,000 words maximum. The challenge is not just a creative one, but a technical one. I have to learn to be concise, to know that I have the determination to kill my darlings as it were. I’m finding submission guidelines to be pretty uniform: less than 2,000 words or GTFO.

This Wednesday’s story is written. I’ve let it marinate a bit, but I’ll run it through a quick edit and pop it into place then. I’m also working on the next story – just a rough. I’m letting myself get ahead because it gives time for polish and editing – something I know I need. I have a bad habit of putting up work that sorely needs it.

I can’t wait to have fifty two stories to share.

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