I’m Part of a New Podcast

Long time readers of this blog know that from late 2016 through mid 2017, I was part of a comedy podcast by the name of Everyone is Funnier Than Us. That podcast came to an end in July of last year. Since then, I’ve been playing around with various ideas, trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I poked around a few ideas involving blogging and podcast recording over the back half of 2017. I even considered going back to doing YouTube videos1Not that I had a brief stint doing that in 2015 or anything.. And though during that time I did stand up the freelance editing work I do, as well as start on a new writing work in progress, I didn’t have any new creative endeavors come to fruition.

Well before the end of my last podcast — from September 2006 through December 2008, to be more specific — I was the host of a sports radio show on a college AM radio station. That show, The Two Minute Drill, was a rapid fire sports show in the vein of Around the Horn or Pardon the Interruption, only with weird news and hosts who didn’t totally know what they were doing. While most of the sports radio shows in our college organization focused solely on sports, The Two Minute Drill routinely branched out, having multiple musical guests, hosting an on-air wing tasting contest, and even getting a nasty email from a member of university leadership at the University of Delaware2We did a couple of segments how the University of Delaware refused to play another in-state program, Delaware State University. Rumors had circulated at the time that this was because members of the U of Delaware leadership staff didn’t want to face a university that was a HBCU. In my youthful hubris, I emailed the segments we did to the president of the University of Delaware. I got a not so pleasant email back from a representative of the school saying that it was none of my business what U of Delaware did, but they appreciated my interest in their institution.. The show ended shortly after I graduated in 2008, but was one of the more popular shows on air at the station during its two-year run.

I say all of this to introduce the newest project I’m part of, a sports podcast named We Were Kind of a Big Deal in College.

We Were Kind of a Big Deal in College features a similar format to what the original Two Minute Drill show did. I’m the host of the show, and on each episode of the show, I will present questions to each of our three panelists, Mike Lampasone, Brian Fisher, and Tim Kilkenny. The panelists debate those questions — some sports related and some not — in an effort to get arbitrarily get points throughout the course of our show. The reward for earning the most points? You get to plug whatever you want at the end of the show. In recording our first show, our winner didn’t seem to understand the concept of what plugging something meant, so we’re picking up right where we left off.

You can listen to We Were Kind of a Big Deal in College on iTunes and other podcasting platforms. You can also follow the show on social media platforms, such as our currently blank Instagram account. At this point, we’ll likely be doing this podcast monthly, though we’ll see if that timeline changes in the future.

2018 Blog Goals

I have never been much of a person for making goals for a coming year, especially not for my writing or my blog. Sure, there’s things I’d like to do, but I generally don’t set them out in goal form.

I thought I’d change that this year for a few different reasons. First and foremost, I’ve had this blog for a little over three years now. While I’ve enjoyed writing on this blog, it’s never quite reached the traffic levels of either of the two blogs I had before that. I recognize that part of that is timing related. Early on in this blog’s existence, the active blogging community I was part of closed its doors. I received a decent amount of traffic from that site, we well as various bloggers who frequented that site coming to my blog(s) directly. Losing that was unfortunate.

Additionally, I think blogging as a medium is in a decline. That’s not to say that people don’t read blogs anymore, as I don’t think that’s the case. What I do see, however, is a decrease in the number of bloggers who have stuck with blogging for a long time. I can count on one hand3Maybe two hands. But that’s only if I’m being generous or if I’m forgetting a lot of people. the number of bloggers who I’ve seen stick with blogging over the past three years. There’s new bloggers out there who write good content, but for every one new blogger I’ve seen, I can think of three or four that have stopped.

I do see other bloggers doing great things. I’ve watched Laidig grow her blog significantly over the past year. Tabitha does some of the better written posts you’ll come across. Todd does some quality (and frequent) work on his blog. There’s other great writers out there (even non-bloggers) who are doing great work that leaves me inspired to improve what I do each day.

In light of all of this, I think there’s definitely some value to setting some goals for my blog. Here’s the goals I’m setting for 2018, along with a short explanation of why I’m setting each. I recognize the numbers I’ll be mentioning below aren’t big numbers, but you have to start somewhere.

  • 20 new WordPress followers – This blog doesn’t have a ton of WordPress followers, as I get a decent amount of my traffic via my various social media accounts. That said, I did pick up 16 new WordPress followers last year, bringing the site’s total to 29. I’d like to think that picking up 5 new followers per quarter (on average) isn’t particularly outlandish as a goal.
  • Average 250 visits a month – Last year, That Tiny Website averaged 197 visits a month. On one hand, that was a great thing to see, as it was this site’s best year ever. On the other hand, my previous blog’s worst full year saw an average of 245 visits per month. This will be the site’s third full year in existence and second one where I’m writing fairly regularly. I don’t want to be lagging behind my old work anymore. I recognize that this is around a 27% growth number, but I’d like to think I can hit it.
  • Grow comment count by 20% again – My blog comment totals got thrown all out of whack when I migrated from WordPress.com to a self-hosted blog4Through my own error. I didn’t follow directions well.. As such, the only comment data I have is from 2016 and 2017, where I went from 102 comments to 122. Ideally, I’d like to see a similar percentage increase this year, which would mean 147 comments on this blog this year.

I realize that none of this will be able to be done without the help of you, those who are reading my blog. Some of you have been reading and interacting with me for quite a while. For that, I thank you. Others of you are likely new to this blog. Welcome. I hope you stick around a while.

 

What are some of your goals for the new year? If you’re a blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, or other creator, what are some of your personal growth goals for 2018? Sound off in the comments.

2017 Book Charity Drive – Wrap-Up Post

It’s been a few weeks since the charity drive I was running with my book finished up. You might have noticed I’ve been a little slow to write up a post about how the charity drive went. There’s a reason for that.

Before I get into this year’s drive, I want to provide a little context with how things went last year. During last year’s drive, those who purchased my book raised $24.28 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. While it wasn’t the number I wanted to hit — it fell just short of one-quarter of the goal I was aiming for — it was still something and it still went to a good cause. This year, I decided that instead of doing a 50+ day long charity drive that I’d do a one week long drive. Considering the fact that about one-third of the sales that happened during last year’s drive happened within the first seven days, combined with the fact that I had more people helping me out promoting the charity event this year in comparison to last year, I figured thing would go close to as well as last year5I didn’t set any charity drive goals, but I was honestly expecting a similar result in terms of money raised..

About that.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the Kindle sales. As a reminder, the drive lasted from November 12th through the 19th.

That’d be one copy purchased. Total. At least it was on my birthday? Well, no matter. Most of my sales historically have been from the paperback side, which is (currently) tracked through CreateSpace. How did that go?

Oh6Fuck..

As for final totals, I was able to pull that from the Kindle site.

Needless to say, I’m not making a donation of $2.06 to UNICEF. I’ll be donating more than that7I don’t feel a desire to divulge how much. Sorry.. That’s not the point though.

It took me the better part of two weeks to write this post because I found myself at a loss for words. I didn’t know how to say what I was feeling without sounding like an entitled prick. There’s a pair of thoughts in my mind that I can’t completely reconcile in a way that I can phrase them quite in the way I’m thinking them.

On one hand, I really want to see my work become successful. Whether that success is through acclaim, through the admiration of a small but devoted fan base, or through actual financial success is something I haven’t fully figured out my desire for. But I want to be successful with my work. Specifically, I want to be successful with my writing8Because frankly, my actual work isn’t particularly fulfilling..

On the other hand, I recognize that by raising money for charity with my work, the important person here is not me. It’s the people the money will be going to help. I’ll be fine. But there’s a lot of people who won’t be if they don’t receive the help that charitable organizations give. Hell, I likely wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the work of charity in my childhood. So to see this event fail when I’m not the recipient of the proceeds is disheartening.

I’m going to be taking a break from writing for a while. I don’t particularly want to stop writing, but I also don’t feel like my writing has a purpose at this point. Maybe I’ll change my mind at some point. There’s a handful of blog posts I’ve pre-written that’ll still go up on this blog each Monday (as per normal). In theory those will last until around the end of the year. I have a few ideas that will likely be content here early next year, though I haven’t gotten around to writing those yet. As for my long-form/story stuff, I think I need to reassess where I’m at there.

Writing Diversely From A Non-Diverse Standpoint

A few weeks back, someone posted a thought on Twitter that can be summarized as such:

Dear white people: Please stop writing minority characters into your books. You’re taking away readership from POC/minority writers.

I remember not being particularly caught off guard by the tweet. After all, it came from a writer who identifies as a minority writer in many ways (race, sexuality, religion…those are the ones I can recall at least). And part of me gets the point. There is definitely a gap between sales of books from white authors and from non-white authors, whether we’re talking about children’s book authors or otherwise. There’s a need for diversity in writing, not just in characters, stories, and points-of-view, but also in authorship. That much is very true.

And yet, I can’t do anything about the fact that I am writing from a white, straight, English-speaking, higher-educated male viewpoint. I want to write in a more diverse manner. It’s a goal I put forward for myself after publishing An Epilogue to Innocence.

I do think there are some things I did well in AETI. I tried to make the book less about good guys and bad guys and more about people — regardless of their gender, background, or religious views. Yes, religion, sexuality, gender, and mental illness were addressed in the book to varying degrees. And yes, there were shortcomings I had with the book. In particular, I wanted to find a way to make my future writing more diverse racially and culturally.

As an example, I recently wrote a story that I think has a lot of potential. The story is intended to introduce a larger world and as such, there are very limited deep details given about the main characters in the story that will be reappearing in later iterations of the story. You know, world building and what not.

One of the characters is supposed to be a woman of Filipina descent. I actively chose not to introduce this facet of her character in the first section[1] of the story because I didn’t want her race to become the focus of her introduction. While her race is part of who she is, in the world in which she exists, what causes judgement and discrimination is not race — it’s something else entirely[2]. Yet, at the same time, I feel as though it’s not only important that I have an understanding of the discrimination that any minority individual goes through in order to write my story effectively, but also in order to grow as a writer, I need to better understand how to write characters who are culturally different from me.

So I look to you, my readers, for advice. Many of you are also fellow writers, hence hoping to pick your brain on this topic. How do you write more diversely when you write fiction? What tips, tricks, and recommendations would you have for me as I look to become a writer that writers not just about those I know, but also those I hope to better understand?

The Not-So-Serious Anime Awards (Round 2)

A couple of years ago, I decided to talk about anime in an award list parody post. You can read that original post here if you’re so inclined. With the news of a live action Death Note film coming out, I decided to take a look back at that post, only to realize I wrote the post well before I had watched Death Note…or a lot of other shows for that matter.

While I still like most of the things on the previous post (or at least hold similar opinions that I held on that post), I’ve watched a good bit more anime in the nearly two years since that point. With that in mind, I’ve decided to update my previous list where more recently watched content changes my answers in some way — be that the overall winner of the category or the honorable mentions. I’ve also added a few new categories, as there were a couple of categories I made no changes to.

No Changes: Worst Overdubbing, Worst Series Ending, Best Series Ending, Best Anime Film, Creepiest Moment[1], Worst Villain

As was the case before, spoilers abound from here on.

Changes to Honorable Mentions Only

Best Film/Series – FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I get that Ranker and a bunch of other sites have Death Note above FMA: Brotherhood, but if I’m looking at an entire series, I care more about just the battle between the main protagonist and antagonist. Hell, that’s over 2/3 of the way into the series in the case of Death Note. FMA: Brotherhood has excellently written minor characters, a compelling storyline, and an ending that isn’t completely anticlimatic[2]. Plus you’ve got two of the saddest moments in anime[3] in this show. I’m not sure what else you could ask for from an anime.

Honorable Mention: Soul Eater, Death Note

Best Series Music – RWBY

Despite a bit of a dip in season 3, RWBY far and away has the best music of any anime (or hell, any animated show) out there. Of the categories from my original list, this is the only one where the category winner actually managed to increase the gap between it and the honorable mentions. Soul Eater stays on the list by virtue of having the single best intro song in an anime, while Black Lagoon makes an appearance on an anime list for something other than Revy’s assets/her ability to kill people.

Honorable Mention: Black Lagoon, Soul Eater

Best Intro Song – “Black Paper Moon” by Tommy Heavenly6 (Soul Eater, Seasons 2-3)

See above. That said, if you picked any of the honorable mention songs here and said they were your favorite, I wouldn’t be too upset. Two of the four songs in this group played at our wedding reception. Anime has good music. Usually.

Honorable Mention: “This Will Be The Day” by Jeff Williams and Casey Lee Williams (RWBY, Season 1), “Unravel” by TK (Tokyo Ghoul), “Red Fraction” by Mell (Black Lagoon, Seasons 1-2)

Best Villain – Medusa Gorgon, Soul Eater

I expected so much more out of Cinder Fall when I wrote my last list. But come to find out she’s a mid-level henchman who manages to go from a sadistic badass to the weakest written character in RWBY in the matter of two episodes. I have hope for Salem, but until then, Jessie and James replace Cinder. As much as Light is the main villain of Death Note, Misa is a much better villain — or at least a more interesting one. Neither holds a candle to Medusa from Soul Eater though.

Honorable Mention: Jessie and James (Pokemon), Misa Amane (Death Note)

Most Unexpectedly Good Anime – Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne

Reminder: Naked throne of creepy sex ladies. Still a damn good anime though. Most of the other animes I’ve watched in the last two years have either been already well-received series, series that were incredible disappointments, or both. Even so, both Black Lagoon and Death Parade are worth the watch. Be warned though…Death Parade’s theme song will get stuck in your head.

Honorable Mention: Black Lagoon, Death Parade, also…can we count Adventure Time here? No? Please? It’s good despite being fucking weird.

New Award Winners

Best Main Character – L, Death Note

Sorry Weiss. When you’re not even the best main character in your own show now[4], you can’t top this list. When I wrote the previous list, I hadn’t seen Death Note, hence L’s absence. That said, after a handful of suggestions to watch the show, I finally got why so many people are drawn to L. He’s just so…strange? I think that’s the best way to describe him. Plus, he’s a good guy who doesn’t win in the end. I always find characters like that interesting.

Honorable Mention: Roy Mustang (FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), Tsubaki Nakatsukasa (Soul Eater), Yang Xiao Long (RWBY)

Best Secondary Character – Riza Hawkeye, FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I had a bit of a change of heart on this one within weeks of posting my previous list. While Excalibur is funny and entertains me in his occasional appearances, Riza is one of the best written female characters in film or television, regardless of format. As a side note, I’d watch animes that focus on the lives of Roberta and James. Roberta’s back story prior to her encounter with the Lagoon Company deserved to be fleshed out a bit more, while James is clearly the most loved Pokemon trainer in the series, at least by his Pokemon.

Honorable Mention: Excalibur (Soul Eater), Roberta (Black Lagoon), James (Pokemon)

Worst Character – Rock, Black Lagoon

In my last list, I failed to make a distinction between worst villain (read: horrible human being) and worst character (read: OMFG SHUT UP AND GET OFF MY SCREEN). This is how I feel pretty much every time Rock talks after the first three episodes of Black Lagoon. On top of that, at least Third Kira moves his story line forward and at least Brock is useful sometimes. Rock is just painful, yet he’s supposed to be the main character[5].

Honorable Mention: Brock (Pokemon), Kyosuke “Third Kira” Higuchi (Death Note)

Most Entertaining Character – Bewear, Pokemon

After picking up Pokemon Moon, I decided to check back in on the Pokemon anime just to see what had happened since I’ve been gone. Much to my surprise, the first episode I watched featured Team Rocket actually defeating Ash for the first time in the entire series. All this happened just in time for the Bewear they were living with to show up. Hilarity ensues[6].

Honorable Mention: Greed (FullMetal Alchemist), Near (Death Note)