Tag Archives: yearly report card

State of the Vulture’s Nest

May 16, 2022

You might have noticed my publishing output has waned over the last couple years. My last major publication was a novel, Mage Tech Duet, a scifi/fantasy hybrid. That’s because I’ve been exploring other creative outlets, such as video game programming. My latest hobby has been Meta’s Horizon Worlds, a sandbox application for creating VR games and art.

Over the weekend, I published what’s called a hub world, “Vulture’s Nest,” to provide easy access to my VR creations and collaborations. This will be updated as time goes on, just like a website. Now, whenever I make a new game/art/whatever, I can drop just a single door into that world, linking back to this one, so visitors can explore other ones. Here’s a video of what it looks like:

I’m not sure where my publishing “career” is headed, if I even had one. I’ve been submitting stories for publication, performance, and production for over 30 years now, and I’m burnt-out. So I’ve decided it’s okay to have other creative pursuits. I have to do it for my psychological health. So I don’t know what’s next: another video game, a song, a piano performance, a dramatic performance, a painting, or more fiction. It depends on what tickles my fancy and what you ask for.

Look for a website redesign in 2022, plus more unpredictable creations and some minor publishing news. C’est la vie!

That Time Boba Fett’s Legs Burnt Off

December 22, 2020

“The thing this mead hall is missing is walls,” I said.

Of course, it was a picnic shelter at Montgomery Hall Park, but otherwise the mead hall illusion held. My mother-in-law heated mulled cider in a crockpot, and my father-in-law heated us all with a fire in the shelter’s fireplace. My wife said a piece of forked firewood reminded her of wooden pants, so when her dad threw it into the fire, my thoughts led naturally to Boba Fett.

As you know, Boba has just effected a memorable resurrection in the Star Wars universe. Turns out he escaped the Sarlacc pit. He’s now on his way to a glorious future in a time long, long ago.

When Return of the Jedi came out in 1983, I had to have the Boba Fett action figure. What with that cool helmet and the rocket on his back, and the fact he could fly, who wouldn’t want him?

That winter, my job was to stack wood in the fireplace and stuff wadded-up newspaper below the andirons, and then, when it was time, to strike a foot-long match to light those newspapers. Except, on this particular night when I was 10, I accidentally rolled Boba Fett into a newspaper blanket and shoved him into the fireplace as well.

I realized my mistake when I spotted him aflame, his legs incinerating like Anakin Skywalker’s at Mustafar. We rescued him from the fire — but too late.

I mourned my deformed, favorite Star Wars figure. There was nothing Dad could do for him but use a pocket knife to amputate him below the waist.

Legless Boba Fett just wasn’t the same anymore. There was nothing more to do for him but grant him a dignified burial at kitchen trash.

Luckily, a family friend owned an extra Boba Fett and gave him to me. My favorite action figure was restored.

So as we celebrate this holiday season, whatever holiday you may celebrate — for us, it was a winter solstice in a wall-less mead hall beneath a planetary conjunction — I wish you a merry resurrection of your action figures and a hope for a restoration of all important things in the coming year.

What the Heckfire I’ve Been Doing

September 18, 2017

It’s been a while since I posted anything here, but rest assured my little elves are hard at work on goodies for you. Here’s an update.

The Organ Donor
The 15th anniversary edition of my first novel, The Organ Donor, is on track for a November release from Bloodshot Books. I went all self-indulgent with this one, penning a 6,000-word afterword for the new edition, laying out the whole sordid story about my real-life encounter with Chinese organ trafficking. The publisher hired the estimable Deena Warner to do the cover art and design, which I hope to show you soon. I’m again working with filmmaker John Johnson to foolishly spend any royalties I earn from this edition on a fun book trailer. (Watch past book trailers at this link.) More information about The Organ Donor.

The Dagger of God
The what?! What ‘chu talkin’ about, Willis? That’s right; there’s another novel in the sausage-making factory. This one is a trunk novel, a ghost story about the Civil War, Ku Klux Klan, and ugly racial violence. As if that’s topical. I enjoy reading/performing stories, so I’m trying something new: recording my own audio book. It’s been a fun experiment so far but fraught with frustrations as my basement office isn’t exactly a sound booth (chugga-chugga laundry machines behind me, and idiot felines scratching on my window screen), and my microphone picks up every breath pop, inhalation, and squishy lip parting that I make. Probably the most successful aspect of this venture will be the blooper reel. There’s also the challenge of keeping character voices distinct. My main character is a Southern belle who alternately sounds like Scarlett O’Hara or Matt-Warner-forgetting-his-character’s-voice. But when it’s done, I nevertheless intend to release it on the Amazon ACX platform and possibly on Youtube. If successful, it will make one long car trip bearable for you. Listening to an audiobook really is the best way to travel.

And on the personal front . . .
The website design business keeps the “busy” in business. I mean, day-um. Deena Warner Design continues to be in high demand for author websites. I’m also spending a significant portion of time working for First Arriving, a marketing firm in high demand for fire department websites. My writing career currently occupies the 530-630am hour most weekdays, and these two firms occupy everything else — that is, everything not taken up by my high-energy 6- and 8-year-old boys, who are scary smart.

On top of all that, I’ve become ever more entrenched in Total Defense Martial Arts, which provides boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu instruction to the Staunton area. Starting in January, I’ll assume primary responsibility for teaching BJJ to kids between 6 and 16. I’m also in talks with Staunton Montessori School to volunteer for two months as a self-defense instructor to 7-9th graders, teaching them the joys of escaping headlocks, bear hugs, and chokes.

That’s about it. Please stay tuned for all the happenings this fall.

Summer Update

July 23, 2016

This has been a thin summer for me news-wise as I’ve been loading the metaphorical gun with more stuff to fire at you down the road. Another novel is in the can and with beta readers, and I’ll soon begin work on a long short story that’s been commissioned by a specialty publisher. Mark your calendars for Oct. 1, when I’ll be a guest at Con of the Mountain in Clifton Forge, VA.

Here’s the newest stuff in print. Do yourself a favor, and check it out, eh?

  • Dominoes in Time — Collecting 18 previously published horror and science fiction stories. “Matthew Warner has such a variety of ideas collected here, that I am certain every horror fan will find something that resonates with them.” Horror After Dark
  • Plan 9: Official Movie Novelization — The remake of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” is a horror/SF romp through nostalgia and zombies. “It entertains you even if you haven’t seen the movie it’s based on.” Horror Talk

On the personal front, family life keeps me busy. Here are some pictures. Enjoy!

This week, my youngest son Thomas (5) had his first lesson in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Here he is applying a rear-naked choke to his brother Owen.

This week, my youngest son Thomas (5) had his first lesson in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Here he is applying a rear-naked choke to his brother Owen.

My wife, Deena, painted this gorgeous mural on the front of our sons' school.

My wife, Deena, painted this gorgeous mural on the front of our sons’ school.

Deena and I spent a day ziplining at Bryce Resort with our good friends Keith Minnion (pink shirt) and Nanci Kalanta (black shirt).

Deena and I spent a day ziplining at Bryce Resort with our good friends Keith Minnion (pink shirt) and Nanci Kalanta (black shirt).

Workin’ on the Speed Bag

March 25, 2016

For my birthday a year ago, my wife gave me a boxing speed bag platform after I got hooked on the art of it at my martial arts school (Valley Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Staunton, VA). She also gave me the demonstration video to The Speed Bag Bible by Alan Kahn (1996). The man’s a badass! This is what my progress looks like so far. I have a long way to go.

Our Holiday Card

December 25, 2014

We’re gonna have a hard time topping this one next year. Photo by Jarod Kearney Photography.

Holiday Card 2014

Obligatory Annoying Year-End Wrap Up

January 6, 2014

Do you know those holiday newsletters you receive from relatives, printed on pink and red paper, that go on and on about trips taken during the year? Yeah, this is like one of those, so I’ll keep it to a mere ten rambles. In 2013:

  1. I wrote a feature-length screenplay on spec, just for the hell of it. I’m submitting it, of course, but I’m not sure anyone is interested in producing a film mostly shot in timelapse. (But, could you be the one?)
  2. I also finished a movie novelization for a small Virginia film studio. No publication date set yet.
  3. And I put together a short story collection that I’m beginning to submit to publishers.  85,000 words of previously published fiction, collected from here and there, a surprisingly large number.
  4. I saw my first urban fantasy novel hit the shelves. My publisher and I did a ton of local advertising, including (new for me) venues such as on-screen advertising in movie theaters and a holiday display at the park. I’ve had two successful book signings in the area and this month will be the guest of a book club.
  5. But have I yet converted my writer’s royalties into a yacht or something? Ha, yeah, moving on.
  6. The biggest change for me was to slim down to 173 pounds from a high of 198 and to join a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school, where I’ve earned the first stripe on a white belt. (I can expect to remain a white belt for the next few years.)  It’s been a great outlet, but I’m paying the price a bit; my chiropractor this morning told me I cracked at least one rib, which has calloused over in a weird way. But I’m hoping the new knots on my ribs will actually prove to be miniature arc reactors capable of sustaining powered flight. Ha ha, you just wait until I have the last laugh. Next up at my martial arts school for me is boxing.  I’m sure that won’t result in any injuries at all.
  7. Our oldest son had some temporary behavior problems this summer that we were worried could be the sign of something more serious, so we had him evaluated.  An intelligence test soon revealed the gravity of our 4-year-old’s problem: Owen has an IQ of 152.  “In non-statistical terms,” the report reads, “only one in approximately 1700 of Owen’s peers would be expected to have an IQ at this level.”  So, basically, we’re just eight points shy of raising a certified genius.  I think we’re in deep shit.
  8. Yeah, this is actually happy stuff.  I warned you.
  9. Our younger son is pretty bright, too.  The other day, he sat still at the dining room table playing with Play Doh for over two hours, just as happy as a clam.  I couldn’t convince him to get up and run around like, you know, other 2-year-olds.  This isn’t an everyday occurence, so he’s not freak or anything, but Jesus Christ.  I wouldn’t be surprised to walk into his room one day to discover him assembling Lego castles with only the power of his thoughts.  Next up for Thomas is potty training.  Yeah, did I mention we’re in deep shit?
  10. Deena and I are looking forward to having both children in preschool this fall, which means we hope to be able to work at the same time.  On our last anniversary, we took our first adults-only overnight trip in over four years, an experience we plan to repeat soon.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel. . . .

This year, I hope to have more of the same.  Best wishes for happy developments in your neck of the woods!


Mid Life

January 10, 2013

The other day, I sent a handwritten letter to a friend. I wrote it in cursive, in big, bold strokes. I was proud of it, in a way, because I felt I was being personal. I knew a graphologist would be able to divine the inner workings of my personality from its lines and loops. Maybe even the friend would save it and one day donate it to the future Matthew Warner Museum (you know, that mythical place in the future all writers fantasize about, except they replace the words before “Museum” with their own names). But then I remembered cursive is a dying art.

Oh, yeah. Right.

That’s actually news to me. I add it to the list of Things That Make Me Feel Prematurely Old. My odometer rolls the big 4-0 in a couple months. My nose hairs are going gray. Charlize Theron and that lunatic on this week’s Piers Morgan show are younger than me. For that matter, Piers Morgan ain’t much older than me, either. Barack Obama was about five years younger than me when he became a state senator.

I wake up in the middle of the night to pee. I need to see a chiropractor three or four times a year. I worry about colon polyps. I think about aging parents. I drive conservatively. I save for retirement.

My youngest son isn’t a helpless baby anymore.

I’m not sure what this all means. I’m not supposed to be this old.

This week, I cut my hair down to a half inch. Mortified my hair dresser. First time in my life I’ve strayed from the Elvis thickness of the 1970s. Not because I had to, due to some premature balding, but because I was curious. She said it makes me look younger. My wife was polite. My mother was horrified. As for me, well, I just think it makes my head a little cold.

A little old.

So here I am. A fully grown man, I guess. I’m not sure what that means. I’m writing a novel right now — a novelization of the remake of the famous Plan 9 From Outer Space. It’s going really well. I’m applying all those skills I’ve so painfully honed for the past 20 years. And while I’ll never have the attitude that I have nothing to learn about writing, I am more aware this time than ever before that I don’t have anyone showing me what to do. I’m not in school anymore. I’m just fucking doing it, flying solo. Writing a novel is always an act of faith in oneself, ultimately, and that’s a bit scary.

Kind of like living.

Obligatory Annoying Year-End Wrap Up

December 9, 2012

Ha ha! My year-end wrap up is the first one out! I beat all you bitches to the end of the year! In your face!

And you know why? Because I’m actually writing this from the future. It’s January 2013 here, and through the magic of my blog’s “scheduling” feature, I’m able to publish this entry in the past. That’s right; my website skills are that badass.

Oh, yeah, sorry. The news. Yes, we survived the Mayan apocalypse. (This was thanks in part to Desmond Miles, who touched the silver sphere of bad writing and protected us from the solar flares. Or something.)

But below is the real news, the headlines that matter most to me:

  1. Deena and I successfully dragged our eldest son through basic potty training. The significance of this achievement cannot be overstated. He’s now in his first year of preschool and learning which words he can only say in the bathroom or his bedroom. For the record, they are pee, poop, butt, and fart.
  2. We also passed the milestones of our fifth year running a successful website- and print-design business and our ninth wedding anniversary. We hear all the time that all married couples fight, but honestly, we don’t know where they’re coming from. Maybe they didn’t marry the right people.
  3. I ran my first 5K without dying of a heart attack.
  4. I lost ten pounds this summer while massively landscaping my front and back yards. My new flower beds are covered with rocks and rubber mulch to ensure they remain sterile and lifeless. Deena’s new Bigfoot statue (Bigfoot is exactly the size of a one-year-old; who knew?) stands guard against any spontaneous generation.
  5. It took a few months, but Deena and I finished redesigning this website. Aside from granting me godlike powers, the homepage features a sliding slideshow widget that I programmed from scratch.
  6. Writing-wise, I endured the first production of my two-act stage play, saw a long-gestating novella get published, and co-wrote an experimental web movie.

In 2013, there will be things like a new novel published (more on that later) and other ongoing writing projects. And since I just now read my 2013 summation, written by my future self, I expect it all to go swimmingly.

Happy holidays!

2012: Pirates, Civic Duties, and Fewer Poopy Diapers

January 5, 2012

Continuing in the tradition of the Larry King-esque mental burps I followed last year at about this time, I offer for your consideration a list of 2012 agenda items:

  1. Eyes Everywhere will soon be re-released as an eBook from HW Press. In re-proofing the book after a five-year hiatus, I had several strange emotional reactions. The strongest was how very sad the story is, a reflection brought on by actually being a father now and not just a writer writing about one. How did I get through it?
  2. The premiere of my stage play, Pirate Appreciation Day, is on course for late February. I’ve been sitting in on the Waynesboro Players’ rehearsals, watching in pleasure and amazement as director Caleb Towns guides the cast in their efforts to bring my words to life. As always when something of mine is produced (previously my stuff has been put on by the Wayne Theater Alliance and Darkstone Entertainment), it’s fascinating to witness the imagination and improvisations that other people bring to the story. I’ve been taking notes on what changes the actors and director have been coming up with, because I think that it will make the play better in a future draft.
  3. I’ve been doing my best to be a good citizen of ole’ Staunton, Virginia.  Last month, instead of just giving in to my impulse to murder the Rottweilers down the street who menaced me on my morning jog, I petitioned the City Council to pass a leash-or-confinement ordinance. The idea is to prevent unleashed dogs from leaving their property to, say, bite the face off my son the next time I walk down the street with him in a stroller. The city manager actually emailed me back this week and said the mayor has asked him to study the issue. And last night, on my way home, I called in a car accident that I witnessed and even stuck around to give a statement to the police. Shit, I may even vote this year, if only to keep the religious nut jobs out of office. (Speaking of religion, what was with all the weird Santa-worshipping-at-the-manger artwork that circulated on Facebook a few weeks ago? But I digress.)
  4. My greatest strength and joy every day remains my family. I’m thankful to have a wonderful and understanding wife, who continues to employ me in a successful website design business that gives me the time to write. I take daily pleasure in watching the (daily) changes of my sons, Owen and Thomas, one of whom will probably be out of diapers this year, and the other who will be happy when he can roll over.

Stay tuned!