You’ve Missed Me

You know you have.

That’s because I’ve become a lot more involved in my writing, which affects most of what I do online. Most of the things I post online now go to I might move some of this stuff over there, including the logo, but JoVo Nexus is dying.

It’s a sad time, but I think this site meant something more to me a long time ago. Eventually, this page will go away entirely, and all you’ll see is a beautiful redirect page.

It seems appropriate here to quote from 1 Corinthians 13:11:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

I don’t want to devalue the role that JoVo Nexus played in my life, but I’ve been moving on to other things for some time. And now…it’s that time.

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Happy Days, Sweetheart Giveaway!

Happy DaysHappy Days, Sweetheart
by Adrean Messmer, Jack Burgos, Shannon Bozarth, CJ Miles IV, Kaz Kirkpatrick, and Ben Jeffries

Release date: June 01, 2014

(Disclaimer: This anthology contains content that could be considered graphic and is not suitable for those under 18 years of age.)

No one’s getting out of this.

Modern fairy tales promise that villains will be punished and everyone else lives happily ever after. But in these pages, no one gets a happy ending.

The family next door, the ghosts from the past, schoolyard bullies, undead rockstars, and more find themselves on a desolate road with no way back. Fourteen tales of tragedy in a dark spectrum of genres, guaranteed to break your heart.


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Do You Feel Neglected?

Well don’t!

I’ve been working on my writing a lot lately, and that involved my having to purchase a different domain to focus entirely on that. So that’s where I’ve been. I’ve got a new domain, new Facebook page, Goodreads page for my soon-to-be-published short stories, and Twitter feed.

And it’s all at

I’ll try to keep this blog personal and that blog writin-related. Because, honestly, JoVo Nexus has been in my life way too long to let it die.

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Elias and Gerard

“Gerard!” Elias ran after the St. Bernard, who was droolingly chasing after a squirrel. It scurried up a tree, and Gerard gripped the trunk with his front paws and began barking.

“Stupid dog,” said Elias. He gripped Gerard’s leash with both hands and yanked hard enough for the dog to flop onto his back with a grunt.

Gerard righted himself, then he shook his head. Gobs of dog spit showered Elias’s shirt and face.

“Oh! God!” Elias yelled. He wiped the drool off his face and glared at the panting St. Bernard.

“Listen, you…” He wanted so badly for the dog to understand English so that he could pummel him with words. Maybe fists. Possibly a bat.

Gerard was completely insufferable and out of control. He was a pure breed, with a set of massive balls that Helena Stathem considered her prizest posession. “He has sired the most elegant litters in the country,” she had said when she had first introduced Elias to him. He had quickly proceeded to christen Elias with a stream of pee.

“…one of these days, I’m gonna make you regret the hell you’ve put me through,” said Elias.

Gerard panted and then licked his nose. His stupid, massive nose. It was why Helena Stathem had named him after Gerard Depardieu, who had played Cyrano de Bergerac in her favorite movie.

The sky started to darken. It was about to rain. Gerard moved closer to Elias and started to whine.

“Oh, shut up,” he said. “Let’s go home.”

Gerard walked in front of Elias, pulling on the leash the entire time so that he either had to run or be dragged behind the dog.

Then, Gerard stopped and growled at the darkness in front of them. Elias hadn’t noticed when day had turned into night. Not totally night, though. The sky was streaked with the colors of sunset. As if God had taken a finger to the horizon and stirred the hues about.

“Gerard? What’s there?” He hated that dog, but now he needed a friend.

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How Do You Do It?

I’m part of a writing group called Murder of Storytellers that, except for during the holidays, meets every week on Fridays to discuss our writing. It’s a great experience, to sit around the table with a group of very intelligent and thorough readers eager to deconstruct a piece of written literature in order to both improve it and the skill of its author. I love my writing group very much and credit them with the significant improvement of much of my work.

Then you have Shannon Bozarth, a prolific writer who has finished one novel, a science fiction thriller named Ride the Train, and is working on his second: a cozy mystery tentatively titled Accounts Payable. His progress is remarkable. He began Accounts Payable as an experiment; over the past few weeks it has grown into 40,000 words full of curious characters and a flowering plot. Sure, it needs work, but it wouldn’t be submitted to our writing group otherwise. Still, it represents Shannon’s continuing success at producing work that will undoubtedly be published some day soon.

I find myself jealous of his productivity. I’m most of the way through a novel of my own, Pyrrhic, but my lack of focus throws me between it and other pieces, including a short story called “Afterhours” and a comedy called Sam. Producing literature is difficult, and part of the problem is my inability to sit down and focus on it. Maybe it’s self-criticism. I wrote the majority of the novel during two consecutive NaNoWriMos and found it easy to sit and pour out the words. When I started to edit it, the problems with the story came rushing out between the lines, and I’ve found that I pretty much have to rewrite the entire thing to make Pyrrhic tell the story that I want it to tell.

And I already have ideas for two sequels.

I’ve been reading H. P. Lovecraft and discovered a short essay he wrote called “Notes on Writing Weird Fiction.” The piece talks about constructing a story from beginning to end. Lovecraft gives great advice on how to write, but it’s been difficult to take it. Like many writers, I realized that I have a beginning, I have an end, and I have a big, gaping hole where the middle is supposed to be.

I’ve been thinking very seriously on sitting down and writing what Lovecraft calls his Steps 1 and 2. In NaNoWriMo, many of us sit down and skip straight to Step 3, and only because we’re forced to. Self-criticism traps us in Step 4 before we’ve ever even attempted the previous steps.

I know that there are a lot of people who participate in NaNoWriMo who begin their writing with outlines, synopses, and character biographies. I think I might have to become one of these people in order to become an effective writer. One of the unfortunate consequences of having two producers in our group is that the rest of us have become better consumers. While this is an excellent consequence of participating in our writing group, I joined the group to be a producer. I need to engage in changing what I’m doing so that I can accomplish that goal.

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Horror Publishing!

My best friend, who runs the website Splatterhouse 5, just had two of her short stories published in the anthology Thirteen, Volume 3. You should really check it out!

Adrean Messmer (her nom de plume) is an exceptionally talented horror fiction writer. She has dabbled a bit in children’s literature, but her greatest skill lies in disturbing the hell out of her readers. She’s expressive, unforgiving, and genuine in her art. I’m extremely proud of her and her accomplishments. She’s an up-and-comer and deserves your support.

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October Updates

I just posted an article that I had written back in June regarding a game that I had been running at the time. I didn’t remember the context, but it seemed worth posting because the content of the article continues to be relevant.

This has been a good month. I completed the requirements for my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at the end of August. Since then, I had been looking for another job. Comfort kept me from putting too much attention to it–that, and the fact that I hadn’t been very successful the few couple of times I’d applied. I think I also may have felt a little drained after the arduous ordeal that was this summer: a six-credit hour course and 360 hours of practicum at DVIS.

Steven, who worked at Youth Services of Tulsa before beginning seminary, pointed my attention at his employer. They were hiring counselors who qualified for supervision towards the LPC state license. Unfortunately, that’s a goal I’m heading towards, but until I finish 15 credit hours at OSU, it’s not a job I qualify for at this time. So I never applied.

Earlier this month, though, an excellent opportunity came up on their site: an Oklahoma Healthy Transitions Initiative (OHTI) case manager position in their Outreach department. I applied. And last week, I got the job. I started working this Monday, and I love it. I’m working with transition youth (16 to 24 years of age). The job involves tons of paperwork and data collection, but mostly it involves helping people.

I can’t wait to start working with the youth in my caseload. This place is amazing, the people are great, and I’m very excited for what comes next.

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On Scene

This is a fact: running tabletop games is hard. You have this idea–a general concept of what the world will be like–and then you realize that there’s something missing: the scene.

The scene is an important part of story planning, especially when you’re working with another person. Every moment, every player action, every minute of every hour of the four hours for which a session runs is an opportunity to lose your story to capricious fancy or sudden whim. I’d like to discuss the most recent example, but I don’t want to spoil or spotlight anything.

The lesson here is that planning has to be more specific. Even a skeletal outline of an episode–and possible contingencies for player surprises–can be a bulwark against losing track of a story.

How do you correct against this? Plan scenes. Nothing specific like paragraphs-long speeches or required dice rolls, but have a basic idea of what’s going to happen, with options for levels of success that the characters can experience as a consequence of their actions and dice rolls. And guard against the “rule of cool.” Nothing can utterly derail a storytelling session more than the GM letting himself warp an impacting story into an action movie.

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Working for Free

I’ve been working for DVIS/Call Rape for several weeks now, and I love it. It’s an amazing place with a very close-knit community of people dedicated to helping victims and perpetrators of domestic violence in Tulsa. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working very closely with the perpetrators. Working with them, hearing their experience, and sharing in their personal growth is phenominally rewarding.

I love my internship site. I wish I could be here all the time, but right now I’m stuck to helping only about 20-25 hours a week. If there was more that I could do, I would absolutely do it. Time, however, keeps getting in the way. Time, and work, and sleep, and the necessity of spending time with my friends and my boyfriend–because the last two keep me from going insane, something fellow mental health professionals call “professional exhaustion.”

The lives, histories, and experiences of people who experience domestic violence are so complex that quick judgments are impossible to make. The more I learn, the more any prejudices I once had fly out the window. The most important thing that I’ve learned is to see all of these people as individuals, like myself, who are imperfect and acted in ways that most of us only fleetingly consider.

I’m picking up the book Why Men Batter Women by Dr. Neil Jacobson. This has become my self-assigned reading for the summer semester. When you find a job that makes you want to consume knowledge and that makes you excited to come into work, that’s when you know that you’ve found your calling.

I think I’ve found my calling.

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My Last Day of Classes

It’s here. It’s really, really here. After today–and assuming that finals go well–I will be completing my last course requirement for the Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. This summer, I’ll be doing an internship at Domestic Violence Intervention Services, which will fulfill all of my degree requirements. I’m finally graduating!

It’s a little surreal that this is finally happening. I’m definitely terrified of re-entering the world of fulfilling (and well-paying) employment. I’m not totally done, of course. I still have to take a few additional classes in order to qualify for the LPC. I should be thinking farther ahead, but I’m having trouble even fathoming how difficult this summer is going to be.

Reminder to self: Call OSU about taking some courses within their counseling graduate program.

I need to figure out what I’m going to do with my night job. Do I quit for the summer, or do I stay and trek through working–essentially–two jobs? Quitting means running the risk of being jobless after graduation for some period of time. Working means being exhausted for three months. Or it means not seeing my friends for the same period of time. I’m still not sure what choice I’m going to make.

I’m not sure about a lot of things. That’s the stressful thing about leaving school: no schedule, no agenda, no expectations. Just you, and an endless stream of opportunities.

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