HAPPY NEW YEARS

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Hey Space Cadets, here’s hoping you have a happy healthy celebration of the passing of one year into the next.  May you remember fondly what was, as you look forward to what will be.  Hold fast to those who make your world worth living and cut the cancers at the root.  Life is short, life is precious and you’re too damn important to suffer the shenanigans of negative influences that only drag you down.

 

 

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!   

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

Mental Health Matters: JR Handley

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Hello Space Cadets, how are you doing today?  Things are going well here, my recently published books, The Legion Awakes and Fortress Beta City, are hopefully entertaining those who were so kind as to give them a chance and the year is winding down.  I’m still in awe at well the books are doing, but it just goes to show what you can do when you have a strong support team on your side.  I’m pretty blunt in my about me section that my books are a team endeavor as we compensate for the residual complications from one too many blows to the head.

 

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With the passing of such a staunchly outspoken advocate for those suffering from mental illness, Carrie Fisher, I decided to do a series of interviews with other authors struggling with their own woes.  As I find candidates, I’ll send them the questions and post their replies.  Obviously, this won’t be a regularly scheduled event.  The first advocate for the mentally ill I’ll interview in this series is myself.  I use this term ‘advocate’ loosely, but I’ve also made no bones about the fact that I suffer from PTSD after my time spent in the Late Unpleasantness in Mesopotamia.  I’ve long admired people who were open about his struggles with their own issues, people who use their own personal example to show that you can adapt and overcome your inner demons.

 

Without Further Interruptions…

 

  1. I know you’ve been very open about your struggles with mental health, would you feel comfortable giving a brief overview?
    1. In a nutshell, I suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq from getting up close and personal with one too many IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). Also, with exposure too one combat parties.  Apparently, it’s a tradition in some parts of the world to welcome unwanted guests with lead shot and shell?  Why wasn’t I given the memo, for crying out loud!  On a happy note, those demons pepper the pages of my novels.  See, sharing is caring!!  Now you can stay up at night with bad dreams!
  2. How have these issues affected your working life?
    1. The TBI requires me to write with a team and lots of lists. I forget a lot of stuff and a get my words mixed up.  My mother and wife go behind me, helping me get it into English the non-aphasia world can grasp.  I won’t bore you with the technical details of the diagnosis (Read: I forget those details too), but it has made the process infinitely more difficult.  However, through adversity comes triumph and every chapter finished becomes an even bigger reason to celebrate.  In a nutshell, wow I really like nuts, my issues mean I have to accept help and face the fact that I can no longer be an island.  Now my process involves a village.
  3. Have you had to adapt your writing style in any way to accommodate your mental health issues? If so, how?
    1. I’ve had to become anal about the use of outlines and detailed notes. I maintain a series bible that is almost a novel in its own right as well, my very own Human Legion Universe Encyclopedia.  For you younger ladies and gents, those are books where facts were listed and described.  They were basically the dictionary of life and history.  We had them in these buildings called libraries AND sometimes we bought them from poorly dressed door-to-door salespeople.  I’ve also had to constantly tweak my writing times, so I get my brain when it’s at its best.  I get about 5 good hours a day; the rest of the time things are too foggy to produce.  During the funky foggy time I tend to write my blogs and do my daily housewifery chores.  When my writing triggers my PTSD issues, I force myself to go for a walk and use my coping skills.  I’ve learned them at the VA hospitals, where they are hounded into you.  They’re viewed as the be-all, end-all to therapy by overworked doctors who would prefer to pump you full of pills and push you out the door.
  4. Have you made any mistakes along the way, and if so, what have you learned that you could share?
    1. I have, tons of them. If you ask my wife, MILLIONS of them!  I’ve learned not to push too hard and to pace myself.  A writing career is a marathon, not a sprint.  I’ve learned that if I get lax in my physical health, the mental health suffers which causes my writing to suffer.  Basically, I’ve come to realize I need to treat my body well so it can treat me in a hopefully reciprocal fashion.  Also, I’ve learned the value of schedules and just sitting down and working.  No magic muse comes down from the heavens and inspires you, you have to crack the whip and force that wench to work for her supper.
  5. What is your biggest continual daily struggle?
    1. My injured hands; one too many broken fingers paired with some muscle damage makes JR a slow typist. I’m forcing myself to cope with this by fitting the Dragon into my daily routine.  The second biggest struggle would be my memory.  It was caused by a combination of the severe, chronic combat related PTSD and the TBI and is a pain in the arse.  Note to readers, don’t get blown up in Mesopotamia.  The free t-shirt just isn’t worth the price of admission!
  6. What advice would you give other authors struggling with mental illness?
    1. Seek help, seriously it’ll save your life. Talk to someone; your priest, doctor, wife, ANYONE.  Don’t fight this battle alone, call in the heavy hitters to stand by your side.  And don’t be ashamed, there is nothing wrong with being human and struggling.  Then I say pour your demons onto the blank page, it helps to neuter them!
  7. What support system do you have to help you write through it?
    1. I have my wife and my mother who help do my first line editing or alpha reading. They also translate out the erroneously used words, missed descriptions and general shenanigans.  They help keep my universe consistent and help edit my blog posts.  You can’t see it, but my mom’s standing over my shoulder punching me and waving at you!!  Say hi to my mom!
  8. Do you find your writing to be therapeutic?
    1. I do! Writing as therapy was the very avenue I took onto the road that is authorship.  It works, whether you write in a journal, fiction or non-fiction.  Give it a shot!
  9. Since I’ve got you here…. Let’s talk books! What’s your current work in progress?
    1. I’m currently writing Operation Breakout, the third in the Sleeping Legion Series. I’m also working on two short stories and the beginning of a new series, The Odera Chronicles.  I’m making The Sleeping Legion Series my priority and the other stuff is going on in the background as secondary projects.
  10. If the readers are interested in finding out more, where can they find you?
    1. If you’re here, then you found me!! But I’ve an author page on GoodReads, Amazon and a Facebook page.  That’s it, I’m too much of a technological troglodyte to be anywhere else online.

 

I hope you find this post to be inspirational, but mostly if you struggle I hope you realize that you’re not alone.  At the end of this post, I’ll list some resources you can reach out to if you’re in need.  Be well, you got this!!  And if you have any other mental health resources I should link too, send me a note and I’ll add them!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

 

RESOURCES:

  1. NAMI
  2. Suicide Hotline
  3. VA Suicide Hotline
  4. Crisis Text Line
  5. UK Suicide Prevention
  6. Trauma Support Group

Red Shirt Application

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Hello Space Cadets, today I wanted to take a second to make a call out for Red Shirt Applications!  In every military science fiction book, there are characters whose only role is to die.  Some die well, some run and are gunned down, but all must die.  I kill ‘em by the bushel!  In my childhood, I watched the original zombie show, Star Trek, where the walking dead were identified by their red shirts!  These characters, to date, are just fictional names I pulled out of a hat BUT they could be you!!  If you’re interested in becoming a red shirt in the Sleeping Legion Universe, send an email to jrhandley@jrhandleyinc.com telling me you want to be a red shirt!!  Then you can tell me as much about your character as you would like.  I will try to use them as I need red shirt characters!!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

Villiany Rediscovered

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you today?  I’m doing well, and getting back into the swing of writing again.  Still waiting on my edits for the two short stories I wrote, but that’s life ya know!  As for book three, Operation Breakout, I’m at 37,124 words and fixed an issue that was holding me up.  I’ve not yet started my writing today but I will once I put my son to bed.  Also, I was wrong about being at 38k yesterday.  I was at 36k, but I am still hoping for the 40k by the end of the year.  In addition to working on book three, I’ve outlined another series I want to write after I finish The Sleeping Legion Series.  More on that in the coming year!!  I think I will hold off on my New Carthage Series, I love that idea too much to attempt it before I’m ready and I’m passionate about wanting to do it justice.

 

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Anyway, I was re-reading the blog of a fellow science fiction author, even with two books publication it still feels weird saying that!  While reading, I found a great article about the nature of villainy in literature.  Joe Vasicek writes great science fiction, and maintains an excellent blog with enough traffic to make for lively debates.  Don’t believe me, check the number of older posts on his Hugo Award blog entries!  LOL!  His post about villains in literature, both practically and as a trope, was well written.  I highly recommend you read his blog and comment.  If you’d like, we can continue the discussion here as well.  While I like his work, one point he didn’t address was on the fleeting nature of villainy in modern times because villainy is often in the eye of the beholder.  Too often we view the world through relativistic lenses, even when it isn’t appropriate.  Yes, sometimes someone is so beyond the scope as to be universally evil (Hitler, Lucifer, the woman who cancelled Firefly), but that isn’t always the case.  Times change and so do social mores and values.  Yesterday’s heroes often become todays villains… an example of that can be seen in how some view our Founding Fathers.  The once heroes of our nation are only talked about in the context of their slave ownership or treatment of women by modern society.  I’m not a fan of this, revisionism never sits well with me and I tend to judge people within the context of their time, but you shouldn’t ignore this in a discussion on villainy.  What do others think?  If you have an opinion, sound off below or check out Joe’s post here!

 

Speaking on the topic of villains, a YouTuber vlogger I follow, Kristen Martin, recently made a video on the subject!  She breaks down how to write believable bad guys, which is on pointe for my fellow writers out there.  She even found a check list for writing better villains, written by Jerry Jenkins.  Check that out, then watch her video!

 

 

And since I also posted the ‘How To’ video, here’s another from Jenna Moreci whom I also follow on the YouTubes.  She’s a bit salty, but gives good advice.  Her novels ain’t bad either!  If you follow the links to her, you can jump straight into that rabbit hole and find her various links on her YouTube channel.

 

 

 

 Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!   

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

Writing for the Busy Parents

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you today?  I’m doing well, forcing myself to stop watching the book rankings so I can resume the work of writing.  Hey, book three won’t write itself!!  Operation Breakout currently sits at 38k words and I wish to break 40k by the New Year, with a goal of having it to my editor by the end of January.  After that we should be on track for Boss Man to do his pre-publication magic in February 2017.  Maybe you could gift that special someone a military science fiction novel for Valentines?  Okay, maybe a vacuum would be a better choice!!  Eww, eww, eww… or a dishwasher!!  Anyway, back to work as usual today!

 

While trying to catch up on reading the blogs I follow, I stumbled across an unread post my editor’s page.  I found an interesting article about managing writing as busy parents and decided to get in on the action.  First, read Corey’s post and comment and then hop on back here to read and comment!  It should make for an interesting discussion, and we would love for you to be a part of it!!  And yeah, I got his permission to use his blogging topic.  He even promised he’d leave the light on for ya when you mosey on over!!

 

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The Questions:

 

How do you balance work, home, writing, love, and life?

Right now, I’m a housewife and do my best to keep the home fires burning while my wife goes back to school.  Before that, I did the same thing while she worked.  Mostly this means keeping the kids at bay while she studies, or cleaning and prepping the meal so we can eat as a family.  She is in the Speech Language Pathology degree program, seeking her bachelor’s degree with plans for a masters afterwards.  She was motivated to learn, since our youngest has special needs that prompted her to go into a field of work where she could help him as well.  To be honest, she was also motivated by what she has had to do to help me with my own injuries as well.  Since we stress the importance of school, she does her homework while the boys do theirs at the table.  It is very much a partnership, and she covers for me in the evenings for the Friday writing meet-up.  She covers for me when I need to Skype the Boss Man, and generally keeps the chaos at bay.  We make time for each other once the kids are in bed, and our folks watch the kids so we can have date nights.

 

How has becoming a parent changed your outlook on writing and reading?

I always told stories in my head, but I started vocalizing them to the kids as they were little.  After I’d finished a book, I would tell myself fanfic type stories in the universe with the main characters I loved.  Basically, it was my way of not letting a good story end.  With kids, I told them crazy stories because I can’t sing to save my life.  I sung them Army cadences as lullabies and told them goofy stories to make them giggle.  After the writing therapy started, my hope was to leave my sons parts of me, before the TBI turned to dementia or I got struck by lightning. 

 

What’s the biggest misconception you’ve faced with stay-at-home parenting, or parenting in general?

That it was easier than working, for sure!  And that somehow being a stay-at-home dad was emasculating.  To be honest, my injuries are why I couldn’t work, but I’m not one to sit around watching daytime television so I took to the housewifery.

 

As a parent, where do you go to write? When is the best time for you to write?

Right now, my office is in the dining room, so I sneak out to coffee shops or a weekly write in at Panera.  Mainly I just write while the kids were asleep or at school.  Luckily my boys are old enough to be in school full time (8 & 10), so it isn’t as difficult to work around.

 

Why do you write, and how does that reason impact your writing?

I write to excise my demons from Iraq, to leave a part of myself for my sons and to be whole.  It helps me stay calm, which helps me be a better parent.  And if we end up making the JK money, I won’t say no or send it back!!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!  

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

Christmas Update

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Hey Space Cadets, today I will postpone my usual Marine Monday for a Christmas recap!  I spent the morning opening gifts with my kids, enjoying their reactions to the gifts; ours and Santa’s.  My youngest is thrilled with the Master Chief Helmet from the Halo Universe, and given the difficulties required in wrapping it, we let Santa claim that victory.  We also got him several Halo 12-inch action figures, which were also a hit!  My oldest got a plethora of art supplies, as he is gifted at turning nothing into something with paint, crayons and the like.  My wife got the usual, clothes and boots.  What can I say, she has an addiction!  And I, I got one of the best-worst gifts ever!!  Skyrim for my Xbox One!!!  (Pardon me, book three will not be postponed until 2020!)

 

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My other favorite gift, given to me by the wonderful inhabitants of the Amazonian Jungles, was that my debut novel, The Legion Awakes, has been in the top 40 of the Hot New Releases in Military Science Fiction (Space Marine) since it was launched.  It was even ranked number 97 overall for a brief 12 hours!!  I feel like it has to be a dream, but I don’t want to wake up.  Book two, Fortress Beta City, has also been in the top 50 of the Hot New Releases in Military Science Fiction (Space Marines) as well which is mind blowing.  Not sure whether this trend has legs, but even if this is the pinnacle of my writing career I can die happy.  It’s official, I’m an author and have two published novels.  This, I believe, is as close to immortality as humanity might strive.  We last forever in the what we leave behind; paintings, pictures, words and music.

 

So truly, I’m humbled and I will strive to make every book even better than the one before it.  I will commit to working as fast as possible to get book three, Operation Breakout, finished in January and off for the pre-publication reviews.  I’ll bribe my editor, Corey, with the naval equivalent of Scooby Snacks so he works fast enough to keep you happy!!  Oh, and I’ll also gift his lovely wife the coffee to sober him up when he over indulges in his snacks!!  Hopefully we can keep this war wagon trucking down the path to world domination with a loyal army of Space Cadets toasting us into oblivion and beyond!!!  FORWARD TO VICTORY!!!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!  

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

Merry Christmas, 2016

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Hello Space Cadets, I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas holiday.  I’m having a great day with my family, lots of good food, good conversation and just a wee bit of writing.  I’ll keep this post short and sweet, so get off the internet and go spend time with your own family!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry! 

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.