Joseph VanBuren's Blog

October 15, 2019

More October Halloweenormama!

The autumnal awesomeness and Samhain sickness keep spreading! Check out some Halloween poetry, including one from yours truly, on the SFPA Halloween Poetry Readings page.

All month long, I am posting the 31 Days of #Sykophunk #Halloween. Horror music, poetry, videos, and more all throughout October. Follow @JVBsykophunk on your favorite social media platform – links on my official website as well.

My latest album entitled Not Mask Self Soundtrack is now available on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, etc. Horror is only one of many influences on this album, but the creepy cover art is definitely Halloween AF!

Do you have any horror/Halloween creative things coming out this month? What are some of your favorite sources of entertainment for the season?
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Published on October 15, 2019 06:18 Tags: autumn, halloween, joseph-vanburen, music, poetry, sykophunk

October 5, 2019

October/Autumn Things Happening

Isn’t this the best time of the year? The falling leaves, changing colors, hoodie weather, and of course all the awesome Halloween and horror stuff!

This is always my busy season, and this year is no different. My latest book, Masks Complete Trilogy, is now available in ebook format! Paperback & ebook through other retailers coming soon.

All throughout October, I am posting the 31 Days of Sykophunk Halloween on social media. Follow JVBsykophunk on your platform of choice for a daily dose of your Halloween fix!

My new album, Not Mask Self Soundtrack, is now available on Spotify, Bandcamp, coming soon to Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, etc. If you hate music that mixes too many genres in unique ways, do not check this album out ;)

How do you plan on celebrating Halloween and horror this month?
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Published on October 05, 2019 09:42 Tags: autumn, halloween, joseph-vanburen, music, poetry, sykophunk

July 1, 2019

2019 Goals: Mid-Year Review

At the beginning of the year, the hosts of my favorite podcast (The Mando Method) publicly announced their goals for 2019. Hosts Armand Rosamilia and Chuck Buda encouraged listeners to set and announce their own goals, which I, among others, did.

Now it’s time to face the music. How well have I done on the goals I set in January? Here we go:

Word count goal: 210K. Mid-year actual: 40,875.
Continue to release 6 things per month on Patreon. Actual: I did it for about 2 months then killed my Patreon page.
Releases: 4 (2 albums, 1 book, 1 interactive story). Actual: 1 album released (Mask: Persona). 2 books finished but not yet released, 1 album halfway done, interactive story just barely started.
Submissions to anthologies/magazines: 24. Actual: 12. But one submission was a chapbook of 33 poems. Bonus: I’ve gotten 4 acceptances published in 2 magazines so far this year (Horror Sleaze Trash & The Sirens Call)!
Edit & polish: the novella I finished last year, The Black Circle, to submit to publisher. Actual: I haven’t worked on this at all.
Get more subscribers on Patreon, whatever sorcery it takes. Actual: Negative (see number 2 above).

So, I’m right on target with releases and submissions, but way behind on everything else. I can cite all kinds of excuses – health concerns, the perils of home-ownership, struggling to settle into a day job/freelance work, setting unrealistic goals, some combination of all the above…

Nobody said this would be easy. I have fallen short on some of my goals, but I am also proud of what I have accomplished. The year is only half over. Let’s keep at it, adjust battle plans according to reality, and see where the next six months takes us!

How about you? How are you doing on your 2019 goals so far?
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April 15, 2019

April Chaos Brings May More Chaos Probably

How has April been treating you? It’s National Poetry Month! So you’d think I have been busy doing poetry stuff, right? Well, there’s also life. There’s starting a new day job, ending the old one, picking up freelance gigs, helping take care of a sick bird…

In the midst of this mess, somehow I have managed to slowly make progress on a few projects:

33 Fears – a chapbook of poems, each one based on a different phobia. I’m doing this for a contest – if I don’t win, I’ll just release it myself.

Masks Complete Trilogy – almost done formatting this. All 3 Mask books + bonus material. Coming soon…

Mask: Self album – slowly but surely working on this very weird instruMental album. Hoping to release it at the same time as the Complete Trilogy.

Random new Sykophunk tracks – had a recording session with Robb Mars recently, and we came up with 5 or 6 tracks. If I can mix the drunk out of them, we’ll have a new EP released soon.

I’ll continue to run KDP promotions through the rest of the month. April 15-19 Mask: Persona is free & April 22-26 Mask: Self will be free. Grab them up and leave me some reviews. I’d appreciate the crap outta that! And until next time, try to enjoy the daylight… (bonus points for anyone who knows what 80s show that’s from)
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Published on April 15, 2019 06:11 Tags: dark-poetry, free-books, horror, joseph-vanburen, music, poetry, releases, sykophunk, updates

March 22, 2019

Revisiting Roots: Clive Barker's Books of Blood

I’ve been very nostalgic lately. Maybe it has something to do with my recent health scare and being reminded of human mortality. Tomorrow is never promised, but we always have our memories of yesterday. Unless we experience amnesia, dementia, or whatever I have that makes me write ideas down on little pieces of paper because I know I won’t remember them tomorrow. But I digress…

My recent return to the past has brought back all kinds of fun stuff from my childhood and adolescence. I’ve been looking up old Dungeons & Dragons modules and listening to 80s and 90s music.

I’ve also decided to reread some classic Clive Barker short story collections, which has been a greater pleasure than I expected. It’s easy to see why this was the main guy that inspired me to write horror. Here’s a quote:

“We are all our own graveyards I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we’re healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived, and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present.”
Clive Barker

Damn, that’s inspiring! That quote is from the introduction to Books of Blood: Volumes One to Three. This man just inspired me with his intro written in 1998 more than any author I’ve read since has done with entire books.

The actual stories are even better. It is such a pleasure to read something in which you can tell every sentence was carefully crafted with the proper word choice and rhythm to add that extra layer of magic to a story. These stories not only stand the test of time, they might even be better now in the wake of all the mediocre writing that has come since.

Horror authors these days need to step their game up – myself very much included. I doubt I’ll ever be as brilliant of a writer as Clive Barker, but revisiting his work has made me realize that putting in that extra effort is often what separates stories that make an impact from short-term entertainment.
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Published on March 22, 2019 12:25 Tags: 80s, 90s, books-of-blood, clive-barker, horror, nostalgia

February 28, 2019

First Publication of the Year!

It occurred to me that I forgot to brag about this here on Goodreads, so now I am doing so:

My poem "She Visits When I Am Vulnerable" was published on the Horror Sleaze Trash site! I’ve never really written erotic horror before, so I’d love to get some feedback on it, good or bad.

Horror Sleaze Trash is an online zine for misfits. It’s a great place to find literature, art, and more that wouldn’t be published elsewhere because it goes too far outside of “safe” norms.
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Published on February 28, 2019 06:06 Tags: erotic, horror, poetry

February 4, 2019

2019 Goals: Month 1

As heard on The Mando Method podcast, here are my creative goals for this year, with some extra qualifiers:

1. Word count: 210K (100K fiction, 100K nonfiction, 10K poetry)
2. Patreon: continue to release 6 things per month including a new serialized novella, short stories, essays, videos, poems, & songs (see below)
3. Releases: 4 (2 albums – Persona & Self, 1 book – Masks complete, 1 interactive fiction story)
4. Submissions to anthologies/magazines: 24 (12 poetry, 6 fiction, 6 nonfiction queries)
5. Edit & polish: the novella I finished last year, The Black Circle, to submit to publishers
6. Get more subscribers on Patreon, whatever sorcery it takes

So, how am I doing so far?

The Mask: Persona album is recorded and almost ready for release.
I am a little ahead of schedule for my Patreon releases.
I came up with a marketing campaign for Patreon I will start to launch this month.

My daily word count average is about 400, which is not good. I need to get that higher in order to hit my 210K goal for the year.

I’ll be posting monthly updates on my progress here and in my rEvolution Underground newsletter. Sign up if you want even more updates and free stuff. Thanks for taking this journey with me :) #Sykophunk!

How are you doing with your 2019 goals so far?
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Published on February 04, 2019 07:40 Tags: 2019, amwriting, fiction, goals, indie-author, interactive-fiction, masks, music, patreon, poetry, writerslife, writingcommunity

December 31, 2018

#goals End of Year Review

Allow me to sum up my year in one word: overfull.

For me, 2018 was full of personal milestones: I graduated from college, got married, then my wife and I got a house. Through all that + working a day job and volunteering for the Horror Writers Association and the Red Cross, somehow I managed to do pretty well on my creative professional goals as well.

All year, I’ve been following in the footsteps of my favorite podcast, The Mando Method, and publicly stating my goals as a way to check on my progress, hold myself accountable, and adjust future plans as necessary. I set my goals at the start of the year and did a mid-year review. Now, it’s time to declare what I have and have not accomplished in 2018:

Finish and release two books with soundtracks. This goal was to complete my Masks trilogy of poetry books with soundtracks, which I didn’t quite do. The books Mask: Persona and Mask: Self have both been finished and released. I have recorded the Persona album; it needs some final mixing tweaks and artwork, then I can release it. I haven’t even begun work on the Self album.

Finish my serialized novella. I did accomplish this goal by writing and releasing The Black Circle in monthly episode chunks on Patreon .

Start a Patreon account with exclusive content. Thumbs up. I managed to release an average of 6 things every month + posted plenty of behind the scenes stuff.

Start my first novel and/or interactive fiction. I have indeed started both. I worked on an interactive story during the summer but abandoned it to focus on other things. I used NaNoWriMo to write 11K words of my first novel. Not sure how smart it was to begin two projects on top of everything else I do, but I did meet the goal, lol.

Write more short stories and poetry for market. This meant writing and submitting more than last year, and I did that by just a hair. Out of 20 submissions, I got two acceptances: Haunted are These Houses and Bards Against Hunger: Indiana Edition.

Keep working on building my platform. This is a vague goal that is hard to measure. But this year, I grew my mailing list, did interviews with Write to Survive Podcast and Kendall Reviews, and wrote a guest post for Gingernuts of Horror. I also participated in two author events, which is a small number but twice as many as last year and a superb achievement for a mega introvert.

Overall, I would say I did damn well on meeting my goals, and I am proud of my small victories in 2018. In looking at where I fell short, I can identify three factors that are not excuses but circumstances I need to keep in mind when setting goals for next year:

Moving and having a house. I had no idea what an impact this would have on my plans. Maintaining a home is a big responsibility and takes time away from doing other things. It is amazing having my own space dedicated to being creative. Now I just need to find the time to actually do it.

Too many ideas a.k.a. difficulty prioritizing. This shouldn’t be a problem for a creative mind, except for when the ideas pile up faster than they can be implemented. I have a long list of projects in progress and an even longer list of next things to work on. How do I know what to work on next?

Stretching myself too thin. Kind of goes along with having too many projects but also includes life, the day job, and my poor concept of time. I do get things scheduled and prioritized, eventually, and just having everything on paper in an orderly checklist relives so much anxiety for me. But as time goes by, I take on new projects, life throws curve balls, and I overestimate how much time I have to do it all. I need to be more realistic with how much I can put on my plate and always assume things will take longer than I think they will.

In fact, I am taking on less in 2019, and I encourage you to do the same. This past year, it seemed just about everyone was overworked, overwhelmed, and overly stressed out. I know I feel completely burned out right now. We don’t need that. We don’t have to be constantly multitasking, checking notifications, and reacting to every piece of misinformation that pops up in our never-ending feeds of distractions.

Unplug and take a break every once in a while. Disconnect and take a breath.

I plan on working hard and trying to exceed my own expectations no matter what life throws at me. But I will also remember to rest when I need to, take breaks and reflect on the moment, and cherish what truly matters to me: the health and happiness of my loved ones and of myself.

So, where to go from here?
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Published on December 31, 2018 12:27 Tags: 2018, 2019, fiction, goals, indie-author, masks, new-year, patreon, poetry

September 12, 2018

Do You Like Gothic Fiction and Poetry?

You might answer that question with one of your own: “Are we talking classic or modern gothic?” And I would answer: “Either one,” because this new anthology has both!

Haunted Are These Houses is the latest book from Unnerving, one of the best indie horror publishers out there IMO. They constantly release quality dark literature, and this book is looking to be no exception. The table of contents lists 34 authors, from the classic gothic masters (Edgar Allan Poe, Percy Shelley, Emily & Charlotte Bronte, etc.) to modern dark masters (Stephanie Wytovich, Bruce Boston, Christina Sng, etc.) to speculative newbies like yours truly.

I am honored and thrilled to be included in this book. Honestly, it is a milestone for me and just the kick in the ass I needed right now. I’ve been struggling with promoting my latest release, Mask: Persona, and doubting my ability to reach an audience for my art. Getting published in this anthology is proof to me that hard work is worth it and does pay off in the long run. I hope you remember that next time you are struggling with something very personal to you.

Haunted Are These Houses ebook is now available for pre-order on Amazon:
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Published on September 12, 2018 06:25 Tags: anthology, fiction, gothic, new-book, poetry, unnerving

September 4, 2018

Who is Joe Doe?

“Who the hell is Joe Doe?” was one of my marketing slogans for a while. It is also a question I have been trying to answer for about 9 years now. Here is the history.

Joe Doe was born in 2009, when I felt the need to change my stage name. After recording and releasing music under the name D-O-E for years, I realized that it was not an internet-friendly name. Search engines ignored the hyphens, and you couldn’t Google my music without sifting through through Department of Education. So, I created this promo video:

With the name change, I knew I wanted a new brand with a darker identity, but there was no specific vision guiding it. After I moved to Fort Wayne in 2012, Joe Doe became my main identity as a recording artist and live performer. The mask was only sometimes part of that identity. It had no purpose yet. There was no story behind the mask.

In the meantime, I continued working on a post-apocalyptic fictional mythos, sometimes called Dark Domain or Nocternal ( nocturnal + eternal). I took one of my lesser used musical personas, Dostah Shilailee, and made him a character in the story. Then it dawned on me to do the same with Joe Doe.

Now, there is finally a story behind the mask. Joe Doe is not just a stage name; he is a character. But what is his story, you ask? The first revelation is in my new poetry book, Mask: Persona. It gives an introduction to Joe Doe the same way Mask: Shadow did for Dostah.

And the mythos is to be continued through future Sykophunk releases...
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Published on September 04, 2018 01:58 Tags: back-story, behind-the-scenes, character-development, joe-doe, joseph-vanburen, masks, nocternal, sykophunk