Today I’m working with a friend on a project.  I think I’ve talked about this before.  It’s a dystopian tale about the not-terribly-distant future… anyway, it’s a fun project, and it’s an interesting experience, working with somebody on a writing project.  I’m used to going it alone.  There are things that I like and things that I miss.

One of the tricks, I think, and one of the reasons why this has not worked the last several times I’ve tried it, is that even in a partnership, I think that there has to be someone in charge.  It has to be somebody’s vision, there has to be a final word on it.

And I think that I am not very good at being the final word.  So the fact that I’m working with an alpha, someone who compulsively takes control actually works really well for me.

Embarassing addictions

It isn’t the fact that I am an addict that’s the problem.  Everyone is addicted to something, to one degree or another.  The problem I have is that my addictions aren’t very impressive.  They are, in fact, pretty damned embarrassing.

Right now I have an unhealthy relationship with a facebook game.  it isn’t the first time this has come up.  I’ve spent way too much time playing all kinds of other games before, candy crush was consuming me for a bit, and bejewelled… or was it bejeweled three?  Oh, who knows.

Every once in a while a friend will tell me about some game that they adore, something new on xbox or playstation, something that is so amazing, so awesome, I just have to HAVE TO try it.

I avoid those like the plague.  I mean, let’s be honest: if a free facebook game messes me up this bad, what’ll happen when I start really getting into world of warcraft?

I’ll tell you what’ll happen, the neighbors will complain about the smell and the police will bust down the door to find my whithered corpse in front of the computer, that’s what’ll happen.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got that facebook game to get back to.

Short stories

Short stories are NOT my forte.  Let’s get that out of the way right up front.

My first attempts to write short stories were unsuccessful on many, many levels.  Basically it would start off with an idea.  I’d say to myself, ‘you know, this idea isn’t exactly worthy of an entire book.  I should make this into a short story!’ So I’d start in on the ‘short story,’ only to realize, after about fifteen or twenty pages (maybe ten or twelve) that I hadn’t even finished introducing the universe everything took place in, much less gotten to the meat of the story.

So I’d amend my plans.  No, not a short story, this would have to be a book after all.  Then, about five or ten pages later, I’d hit a brick wall and decide that I could come back to this story later and see if it was really worth getting into.

So I would fail to write the story, and fail to keep it short.

Eventually, I’d come back to it and, in most cases, fail to remember what the hell the story had actually been about anyway!

These days I’m a little bit better about it.  I mean, sure, I only finish about one in ten of the short stories I write, but let’s be honest, that is a massive improvement from zero percent,

But in order to do that, I rarely have a fully fleshed out story as the end result.

Basically, when I’m working on a short piece, I essentially attempt to establish a mood instead of really telling a tale.  Getting a full story arc into just a few thousand words is rather difficult for me, so instead I just find the emotional high of a story and attempt to capture that as powerfully as I can.

Another trick I’ll try is practicing a technique with which I am unfamiliar, or one which is difficult to impossible to maintain over the course of an entire book.  I’ve written a few where the entire story is dialogue written from one character’s perspective, that’s a good way to keep things short.  And it’s fun, too.

But I feel that I am missing out on something.  I’d like to be able to generate these more traditional pieces.  Unfortunately it requires a discipline and skill set that I largely lack.  Still, you should always push yourself.  I’m a big believer in that.

I’m going to make a concerted effort, over the next couple of days, to write a couple of short stories associated with my corpse-eater saga universe.

I’m inclined to think that having an established universe for the story to play out in will be helpful to me.  One of the traps I’ve fallen into in the past has been spending so long trying to tell all of these details that are unnecessary to the plot, but make the world as a whole work.  I’m hoping that the knowledge that I’ll be able to share these details, or have already shared them, in some other work will serve to help me focus my attention to the story itself.

Here’s hoping.

The problem with t.v. shows…

So, one of the problems with television shows in general, not all, mind you, but many of them, is that they tend to lack a permanent and unifying vision.  Maybe that wasn’t the plan going in, but, you know, things happen: writer’s strike, directors have a falling out with producers, people die, producers start demanding stupid stuff.

Since television shows are made over long periods of time, while they are simultaneously being released, watched, judged, ignored, etc etc etc, you never know exactly what’s going to go wrong.  But television shows seem to be uniquely able to start off great and then run themselves right off the rails.

I’m a little afraid that this is what’s happening to the television series extant.  i really REALLY enjoyed the first season, and I was more happy than not with the second season so far, but this last episode just got… weird.  Suddenly the moral ambiguities that made the show so interesting are being replaced.  People are saying stupid lines to convey their emotions instead of just showing it.

Maybe it’s setting up for something interesting, maybe I just can’t see it, but this episode feels distinctly wrong to me.  Oversimplified.  blah.

Daily Struggles

One of the things that I, as a writer, try to do, is write every single day.  I have a file where I keep track of my daily word count, and I try to make sure that each of my writing sessions is at least four hundred and fifty words long.  Ideally, I’d like them all to be much longer, but… well, you have to put the minimum somewhere, and for the time being I chose 450.

But, inevitably, there are days when I don’t have writing sessions.  Sometimes I’m working on editing something.  Sometimes I’m critiquing stuff for friends.  Sometimes I’m helping someone move.  These things happen, nothing you can do about that.  The problem is that I know myself.  If I let myself get away with really and truly missing a writing session from time to time, then, very slowly, I’m going to start increasing the list of things that are allowable.  So I have a sort of ‘carry over’ rule for myself.  I can have more than one ‘session’ for day, so long as each session is distinct (ie, I can’t just sit down, bang out nine hundred words on a story and call it two sessions), and by the end of the month, I’m all caught up.  Any longer than that and I’m just going to let myself get farther and farther behind until… no list, no accountability, no point.

A habit I’ve found myself getting into lately, when I don’t have the energy to work on one of my serious projects, it to start a story, write  few hundred words, then save it with no intention of ever coming back to it.

Part of me thinks that this is a terrible habit to get into.  I remember when i was just starting as a writer, I couldn’t finish a story.  I had a file just stuffed full of false starts.  So many stories that never went anywhere.

On the other hand, I’m not the novice I once was.  I have, in fact, finished many stories, both short and long.  And sometimes these false starts are useful.  Sometimes they tell us something, give us ideas.  Sometimes they can help us realize the direction our writing should be going in.

Still, there could be problems in the long run if I don’t make myself write with purpose at least part of the time.

Book Review: LIFE in the 23rd century

I posted both here and on my website about my friend, Jason Richter’s, new book which he has submitted to a contest at Inkshares in hopes of winning it’s publication.

Jason and I are peer critique partners, so I had the good fortune to read this book several months ago.  He’s asked me to write a review of the book for him, a brief one, so… here we go:

Life in the 23rd century is a thinly (very thinly) veiled satire of American consumerism, corporations, politics, fearmongering, and pretty much all the other crap associated with life in these United States.

But satire is everywhere these days.  What makes this one special?

I’d have to say it’s mostly the crowbar. Although, let’s be fair, the scathing mockery of politics and corporate shills doesn’t hurt either.

Some books are written to educate. Some books are written to enjoy.  This book was written to be banned.

A Cool Contest!

So a friend of mine, a talented writer, recently submitted one of his books to a contest on Inkshares.

For those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t) inkshares is a crowdfunding site for books, which is just awesome in and of itself.

My friend’s book, L.I.F.E. in the 23rd Century, is a hilarious satire of consumerism, coffee, and crowbars.  I helped critique it for him a couple of years back, and I’m quite excited at the possibility that it might get published.

If you get the chance, take a quick trip to inkshares, or just jump straight to my friend’s book here: and preorder a copy!

Social Media?

Perhaps I’m dating myself, but I just don’t get most social media.  It’s basically a requirement, if you’re trying to be a writer, that you use social media to promote yourself.  You’re supposed to set up a facebook author page, a twitter account, a webpage, a blog, pintrest, twango, rootcanal… sorry, kind of started making stuff up there, but if I’m honest about it, half the time when I hear about something new I’m fairly certain the person telling me about it is pulling my leg.

There are a few I kind of like.  I mean, blogging, that’s basically just me talking about myself in front of a bunch of people, but without them being able to see me, so I don’t have to put on any clothes first!  The webpage is fine, too.  I wish they’d make those things a little bit easier to play with, if they did I’d be changing stuff up more regularly.

But there are so many different online things that I just don’t get!

Twitter: what could I possibly have to say in a hundred and forty characters that anybody would want to hear?

Okay, I can think of a few things, but only… maybe twelve or thirteen. And those don’t come up often.  Outside of ‘finished my latest book, and boy am I tired,’ and ‘I just became an Uncle!  Woo!’ most of my interesting tweets are also fairly depressing.  I can’t imagine why anybody who didn’t know me already wold want to hear about that.

Pinterest may be cool, I don’t know, I don’t understand it at all.  As best as I can tell you just click ‘pin it’ on images and articles that look cool to you and then… can other people look at your pins?  I don’t really know how that works.

But the one that really makes me crazy is linkedin.  As best as I can tell, linked in is basically an electronic rolodex, but without the useful contact information, and other people get to put themselves into it.

Book 3

I’m almost done with Bloody Banquet.  Fingers crossed, I’ll have it sent off to my second round of beta readers by the end of the week, and in the hands of my editor near the beginning of September.

Book 3 has me a little worried, though.  It’s not that there’s a problem with it, it’s that I don’t know exactly what I’m doing with it.  I’ll be honest with you, this is going to be the first time in my life that I’ve written book three of anything.  I got to book three once before, but I didn’t really have any reason to finish it so… I let it stagnate.  But now I have a contract.  I am required to make this work.

Okay, I am being a bit optimistic there.  Given how shitty my sales have been there is the distinct possibility that I’m going to get a polite brush off soon and find myself having to self publish any further books I want to write about a ghoul named Walter.

But let’s assume that, for whatever reason, my publisher decides to let/make me keep going.  Everything I had from here on out was just a vague idea.  I know some of the things I want to have happen, but now I’ve got to put them in order, make them stand up straight and behave themselves.  I’ve got to actually make the book.  And I’m kind of terrified.

Stuff that should change

Vaguely related to the topic from earlier today, about how north being the direction of cold is very much a  northern hemisphere attitude, one of the things that bothers me in science fiction is when, a thousand years in the future, on distant planets and distant suns, we still operate in today’s hours, days, minutes, weeks, etc.  Those are not arbitrary.  They’re based on the rotation of the planet we happen to be on, and the revolutions it makes.  If humans are living on a distant planet in ten thousand years, chances are, we’ll be working with a whole new system.  I mean, sure, we’ll need hour-ish units for some things, and day-ish units for others, and second-ish units… but the idea that we’ll take the julian calendar with us to a new stellar system is… well, it just doesn’t seem likely to me.