30 December 2007

No, This Is the Last One...Really

I didn't think I'd have the time to get something together in time to meet tomorrow's deadline for Six Sentences, Volume 1. I'm still scrambling to finish two other projects (only one of which will get done by tomorrow--eh, well).

But, I reworked a story that "came close" but was rejected from a few places, and voila: the real last sub for 2007!

28 December 2007

"Get along..."

It's just past noon, and I haven't really started my writing day yet. I shouldn't complain; now's about the time I started yesterday, and I got done everything I'd planned to get done. Trouble is, I set my bar a little low during the break. It's time to pick it up a tad, I think. Not that the time's been completely wasted, seeing as I've been scouring teh Intartubes for snippets from the Daptone Records catalog.

Still though, Gunny says that it's time to work, so that's what I'm going to do. Time to turn off the soul (music) and put on some stuff I can work to...

26 December 2007

Merry X-Mas to Me

Not sure how long these things stay up, but one of my pieces, "The Right to Privacy" is listed as one of the Six Blasts From the Past on the front page of Six Sentences. Just go down the menubar on the right.

22 December 2007

Not All Remakes Suck

IMO, it looks like Cassandra Wilson (goddess that she is) may no longer have the market cornered on brand new takes on old songs...

"What Have You Done For Me Lately" by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by The Bad Plus

(This has been a test of SeeqPod. Had this been an actual post about certain songs, you would have been inundated with snarky commentary.)

I've Got Plenty to Submit Here

Literary Rejections on Display
Remember this: Someone out there will always say no.
Of course, I'll want to spend hours and hours endlessly sorting through my rejection letters in order to find the one worded juuuuust right...

Resistance Is Even More Futile

The Top Ten Transhumanist Technologies
The Lifeboat Foundation has a special report detailing their view of the top ten transhumanist technologies that have some probability of 25 to 30-year availability. Transhumanism is a movement devoted to using technologies to transcend biology and enhance human capabilities.

08 December 2007

Last Good Sub of the Year

At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that the last piece I subbed for '07 will make it's debut on Six Sentences in January of '08. I can now rest easy, right...?

"Bullshit, son!"


I just needed to put this where I was sure to find it again...

via Paleo-Future

02 December 2007

Because Reading Is Fundamental


I was lucky to have gotten this much reading in, what with the holiday travel and all.
  • Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, "The Young Wife's Tale"
  • J.G. Ballard, "Deep End"
  • Ryan Boudinot, "Drugs and Toys"
  • Ryan Boudinot, "Contaminant"
  • Kelly Link, "Lull"
  • J.G. Ballard, "The Overloaded Man"

  • Ryan Boudinot, the remainder of his collection The Littlest Hitler
  • M. Rickert, "Don't Ask"
  • Stuart Dybek, "Farwell"
  • S.L. Gilbow, "Who Brought Tulips to the Moon?"
  • J.G. Ballard, "Billennium"
  • Stuart Dybek, "Chopin in Winter"
I think I made some decent headway with things I've purchased over the Thanksgiving holiday, used and new. The stories from Gilbow and Rickert are from the December '07 issue of F&SF--I've accepted the fact that I'll buy just about anything with M. Rickert's name on it, including whatever collection "Don't Ask" might end up in. Sort of like I keep downloading buying all those greatest hits compilations that the band Chicago keeps putting out.

No Tough Love Today

The crit group was cancelled due to inclement weather, so that sucked. Just as well, because I didn't have anything to contribute this week aside from my usual half-baked opinions of other folks' writing, much like the half-baked thinking I'm about to share with you now.

I've come across a bunch of stories lately that make me wonder what would happen if I re-typed them and submitted them to the crit group. What would they say about unclear narration, too many points of view, or just plain too many adverbs ending in -ly in a story I tried to pass off as mine? Would they have the same comments regardless of who wrote the story?

And, I'm not talking about the authors everybody loves to hate, either. I'm talking about writers whose talent I'd gladly sell a testicle to Ol' Scratch to have. So, I'm not hatin' on anyone.

Makes me go, "Hmm..."

29 November 2007

Where's My War Face?

A couple of folks in the crit group have tried to tell me about the need to let a story cool sometimes. I'm almost afraid to allow that. I've gotten to a point where my first drafts are coming at the sort of clip I'd like, thanks to my Inner Drill Sergeant. The truth is I'm frustrated that my editing hasn't reached that point yet. I've got two pieces on the burner right now. I know I have all the parts I need; I just need to make them fit better. And I wanted it done yesterday!

"I will motivate you!"

I might as well give them a rest though--a little one--while I try to unfuck myself, lest my Inner Drill Sergeant unscrews my head and shits down my neck. I've been hitting my head against brick walls anyway, so why not? I didn't go idle today, though. I shot a piece off to 6S, so we'll see what happens with that.

25 November 2007

Story Log

From the week of 11/12/07-11/18/07. Two weeks ago, sure. I'd spent that week reading more prose poetry from Great American Prose Poetry and Simic's The World Doesn't End, but I still managed to sneak in...I'll put up last week's tomorrow, or something.


Lit Shuffle: "Contaminant" by Ryan Boudinot

23 November 2007

"I guess you're just what I needed"

Still with the family for the holiday. Before the trip though, the wife and I swore we wouldn't go near the Half-Price Books this time around. We just got home about an hour or so ago, and I'm not ashamed to say I'm fucking glad I went, because finding this made the whole 6-hour drive worthwhile...

I was, no joke, going to order this earlier today, hoping it would arrive shortly after we returned home. I had absolutely no logical reason to think I would find this at any bookstore, but here it was! Oh, and I found the last issue of Conjunctions too, along with a couple of other books.

19 November 2007

Story Log

You're probably thinking to yourself, "What, hasn't he been reading? All that shit he adds to his goodreads list; what's he doing, slacking?"

Slacking on blogging, that's for sure (and engaging in general human contact, household chores, and stuff). Been busy, but to make it up to you like an absentee parent who disappears for weeks at a time, then bombards you with gifts, here are three weeks worth of lists of stuff I've read...

  • Mary Robison, "Seizing Control"
  • Veronica Schanoes, "Rats"
    (Comments here)
  • Jessica Hagedorn, "Tenement Lover: no palm trees/in new york city"
  • Caroline Cheng, "Consolation"
  • Amy Hempel, "Daylight Come"
  • Amy Hempel, "The Harvest"
  • Jan Lars Jensen, "Happier Days"
  • Jane Avrich, "The Life of Cards"
  • Aimee Bender, "Lemonade"
  • Kate Bernheimer, "Whitework"
  • Judy Budnitz, "Abroad"
  • Barry Hannah, "A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis"
  • Mikal Trimm, "Climbing Redemption Mountain"

Tough Love

I submitted my last piece to group for the year. I'm not going to let any more unedited pieces pile up. I'm gonna finish them and spend the beginning of 2008 getting things back out into circulation.

In the meantime, here's what they had to say about the latest thing, "Before Me Was a Pale Horse"...

The Good
  • One person said the characters "leap off the page."
  • The same person noted that while she wasn't at the last session to hear the first half of the story (though she heard my quick summation), she didn't feel lost going through the second half.
  • Dialogue was realistic, i.e. "what people would say."
  • One person liked how the narrator/protagonist was likeable, despite his obvious flaws.
  • Folks felt they got a clear picture of each character with a minimum of description (e.g. one character who "waddled over in his khakied, polo-shirted Sunday best..." was all the description they needed)
  • The story was paced well.
The Bad
  • A certain unclear passage regarding one character's spacial distance to another.
  • The ending is too hitched to religion.
    (Which means I screwed up trying--if it was even possible to begin with--to use as many religious references as possible while minimizing religious themes.)
  • Again, I mashed two stories into one (possibly three, depending on how one reads the ending).
  • Some folks wondered if the protagonist paid too high a price for his flaws at the end. (Though one person didn't necessarily see anything wrong with that.)
The Ugly
No ugly from the others; just from myself.
  • For one, I had the unfortunate experience of re-reading a short story by pure happenstance, one that I first read about four years ago, with the same fucking conceit. I about tore up the MS. I didn't, because by any measure, I know my story's different. But if some schmendrick comes up to me and goes, "Gee, isn't your story just a blatant rip-off of _____?" I think I'd have to give that a response without automatically smacking the person upside the head.
  • The reason there were "two stories" was that as I wrote, I spotted a particular chink in my protag's armor that was just too tempting to pass up...
  • ...but instead of jamming the knife in and twisting at the end, I got squeamish. I copped out and "implied" the ending.
So, basically this leaves me trying to figure out how to have my cake and eat it, too. I got some good suggestions from the group. I just gotta be careful not to allow them to "write it for me," so to speak. None of them want that, either.


Normally, I'd do this on this neglected blog, but because SaltyMissJill asked so nice ("Hey! I tagged yo ass!") on this blog, I'll play along here--at least as far as I'd usually play along.
Here are the rules for the meme:
1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.
4. Tag seven random [?] people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.
Sorry, but I just don't do the last two. Nothing personal--just sheer laziness.

I can hum along, note for note, with the horn lines of every Chicago song (with horns), from the Chicago Transit Authority album to their latest, Chicago XXX.

I have successfully gone black and gone back--not once, not twice, but three times.

I worship Cassandra Wilson.

The one food I'd be willing to subsist on: Chinese restaurant fried chicken wings.

The first concert I ever went to: Depeche-fucking-Mode.

I've played the trumpet, off and on, for almost half my life.

I know kung fu.

12 November 2007

Out of the Woodwork

Seems my friends list on goodreads blew up today. Three folks added me, and I went ahead and added one myself, someone whose writing I always enjoy whenever I come across it.

Why not come on over and check it out? I'll add anyone, especially anyone who reads the sort of books I read. C'mon...you've tried Facebook and MySpace and last.fm. One more social network won't kill you.

10 November 2007

Where the Hell

...is my copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral?

Or, do I even have one? I could've sworn I bought it some time ago, but I've looked through every place in the apartment that I've ever set a book and I can't find it.

Now, I'm actually starting to doubt if I ever had it. But, I put it on my goodreads list, so what the fuck?

EDIT: Now, where the hell is my copy of Chicago X?? I know I bought this one! See, this isn't funny anymore.


Lit Shuffle: "Rats" by Veronica Schanoes

05 November 2007

Tough Love

I wrote a sort of Halloween story to have something ready for group yesterday. I wasn't going to read, for a second meeting in a row. I'd decided to spend the rest of the year editing my latest long piece, "Masked," aka the thirty-page beast. But I just had to do something, otherwise I would've felt like mooching. So I came up with something called, "Before Me Was a Pale Horse."

The Good
  • Good build up--one person noted a pattern in which she's never sure what my stories are exactly about until last moment.
  • Smooth writing ("As usual," they say)
  • One person talked about the details I left out of settings, character descriptions, etc. and the fact that she still had a more or less complete picture of the characters and situations involved. (Looks like all that Hempel I've been reading has paid off.)
  • Good dialogue, used to fill in those details I left out, and to sneak in some expository information.
The Bad
  • Some of the readers in the group didn't like the fact that they didn't get all of the little Biblical references I snuck into the story. (Come to think of it, no one commented one way or the other on the title.) There were places I did it "right," which is to say that I set the reference inside a sufficient context to make sense without any knowledge of Bible trivia.
  • (On a related point, people even read things into certain passages, thinking they must have been Biblically related when they weren't.
  • A couple of folks wanted to know more about the protagonist sooner. (It's a constant faux pas I make whenever I write something in first person, now that I think of it.)
  • Due to some plain ol' bad writing on my part (a fact I couldn't explain because of our group's crit rules), I wrote a line that could easily be construed as a sexist dig at my protagonist's wife, rather than the protagonist himself as I'd intended.
The Ugly
No real ugly. There never is, come to think of it. It makes me nervous, really. Not that I want to hear, "Jesus, your writing sucks."

Actually, I do know what makes me nervous, but I'm probably not going to go into it here. At least not now.

03 November 2007

Get This Now!

Drop what you're doing and buy this now! Now, I tell you!

Why should you, you ask? Let me, as the kids say, break it down for you. Stories by, among others, Aimee Bender, Rikki Ducornet, Shelley Jackson, Miranda July, and Kelly Link. To say nothing about the poetry and the fact that the "Special Advisory Editor" is Rick Moody.

Believe me, I've read the first set of poems and the first three stories. I wanted to dry my tears with my torn-up manuscripts, caught between feelings of jumping for joy and jumping into a gorge because of the subconscious fear that I'll never, ever write anything that good.

Now, go on, get it. I'll be fine. Just go ;).

30 October 2007


Something I read in The American Scholar at the bookstore. I regretted not buying it until I found it online...
...certain writers produce Brooklyn Books of Wonder. Take mawkish self-indulgence, add a heavy dollop of creamy nostalgia, season with magic realism, stir in a complacency of faith, and you’ve got wondrousness.
Makes me feel good to be a Jonathan Lethem fan--in sort of the way you do when you hide out during a scuffle long enough to read the writing on the wall, and then throw the last two punches for the winning side once all the hard work's done. Well, not really. I mean, I've read both of Lethem's short story collections, and I have both Gun, With Occassional Music and Motherless Brooklyn on tap.

But, I also have You Shall Know Our Velocity and McSweeney's 14, too.

Two for the Price of One

Two rejections, that is. Or, is it one, if it was two pieces submitted to the same place?

Yeah, it's two.

27 October 2007


Lit Shuffle: "Pretending" by Ray Vukcevich

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

...is it, James?

I heard this alluded to on the Bat Segundo Show podcast interview with James Lipton, but my jaw dropped when I looked it up.
Actors Studio host Lipton was a pimp in France
Last Update: 10/22 5:04 pm

James Lipton, the host of U.S. talk show, Inside the Actors' Studio, once worked as a pimp in Paris, France.

The revered TV presenter, who has sat down with Hollywood's biggest names for in-depth chats about their life and work over the last 13 years, has revealed he once procured clients for French hookers.

He says, "This was when I was very very young, living in Paris, penniless, unable to get any kind of working permit... I had a friend who worked in what is called the Milieu, which is that world and she suggested to me one night, `Look, you'll be my mec... We would translate it perhaps... as pimp."

Hail to the King, Baby

NerdTests.com says I'm a Highly Dorky Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

x-posted to the other place.

26 October 2007

The Reading List

Yes, this one's overdue, just like all my other entries. Deal :). So, two weeks ago, I read some cool stuff, mostly from The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet and a couple of old issues of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
  • Geoffrey H. Goodwin, "Stoddy Awchaw"
  • Theodora Goss, "The Rapid Advance of Sorrow"
  • Sarah Monette, "Three Letters From the Queen of Elfland"
  • Gigi Vernon, "Solomon's Wedding"
  • Gigi Vernon, "The Maidservant's Letter"
  • Janice Law, "The Girl Watcher"
Yeah, I said I was gonna read Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn. Sue me. I'll get to it this week ;).

Las Vegas Turnaround

I didn't want to let this pass without mention, though it would've been easy to do since it all happened so fast, just like this fine magazine said it would, but I subbed a tale to them that was kindly rejected earlier in the week. 'S all good, because I think said story's got a better than even shot other places (maybe) :).

25 October 2007


Lit Shuffle: "Heartland" by Karen Joy Fowler

Posted a couple days late, but hey...the bit itself was over a week late :(.

14 October 2007

Speaking of Reading

...I have to pass on listing the various short stories I've read this week, unless you want me to regurgitate the table of contents for the last half of Barry Hannah's Airships.

To tell the truth, I'm going to slow the short-story reading for a bit, even though I want to just continue with reading more Hannah. I snatched up a used copy of Hannah's collection High Lonesome at one of the used bookstores. Instead, while I edit my last couple of stories, I'm going to read American Son and Dogeaters, slated to be the 6th and 7th novels I've read in the past four years.

It used to be a point of pride with me to be able to brag about how many shorts I've read at the expense of novel reading. I've come to realize, since I devoured Nick Sagan's Idlewild trilogy and Ben Tanzer's Lucky Man, that I do just shove them down my literary throat. I go through novels like I go through showings of Scent of a Woman or A Few Good Men on cable TV--before I know it, I've spent a couple of hours--2 to 3 days in the case of novels--doing nothing but taking it all in. Case in point, I'm a third of the way into American Son, and if I did nothing else for the rest of the night, I know I could finish it.

More to Read (Not That I'm Complaining)

I attended a presentation at the local library yesterday by poet, author, and teacher Luis H. Francia, called "Longing and Belonging: The Idea of Home in Asian American Literature". Don't worry, I'll keep my thoughts on the eye-opening themes of his lecture, how they've impacted my personal views on my culture which impacts on my writing, to myself (for now!). Suffice it to say that I was honored to get to speak with the man briefly afterward, and was pleased that the library actually carried two out of the three books he suggested to me, namely the novels Gangster of Love by Jessica Hagedorn and Brian Ascalon Roley's American Son. The library didn't have the third, Hagedorn's Dogeaters, but a local bookstore did.

Yeah, I bought it and borrowed American Son. Yeah, I know I already bought a crapload of books to read. I bought a couple more on top of that last week, too. I'll read what I want. Hey, quit yelling at me...

Tough Love

Okay, I got a backlog of posts and post ideas going back a week or so. Here's where I try to get to them.

Last week, I workshopped a flash piece for the crit group, formerly titled "NIGYSOB," one of the Games People Play in the book written by Eric Berne. It's been a week, so I'm trying to recall the context of the notes I made.

The Good
  • Good characterization.
  • Nice twist at the end.
  • It was apparently the right length (Just over 1,000 words. I've edited it down to about 920, though I have the sense that it might've been too much).
The Bad
  • The parentage of one of the characters was too ambiguous for most--especially when I intended absolutely none.
  • The escalation of the conflict felt rushed.
  • Some disagreement over whether or not I left enough clues to the "punch line." Everyone felt I didn't, but some liked it that way.
The Ugly

No real ugliness, this time around.

I joked about how I wrote and brought a finished flash piece when I'd started two longer-length shorts which I haven't finished. Well, now I've got two pieces to finish and two to edit. I think I've got a legit excuse for not bringing something to read next week--I should be editing!

09 October 2007

Good Reads

Last week, I got through some awesome stuff...
  • Mary Robison, "In Jewel"
  • Amy Hempel, "Three Popes Walk Into a Bar"
  • Karen Joy Fowler, "Heartland"
  • Barry Hannah, "Green Gets It"
  • Barry Hannah, "Our Secret Home"
  • Amy Hempel, "The Man in Bogotá"
  • Amy Hempel, "When It's Human Instead of Dog"
  • Amy Hempel, "Breathing Jesus"
  • Ray Vukcevich, "Pretending"
  • Jeffery Ford, "What's Sure to Come"
With that, I've finished off the first quarter of The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, which was originally the collection Reasons to Live--so, I've technically finally finished one of the many collections I'm multitasking on. And, at the rate I'm going, I'm going be done with Hannah's Airships in pretty short order, too.

Those Damn Kids

10 Reasons Jeff Vandermeer Rarely Reads YA
9 - Tired of reading about teens who turn out to be The Chosen One. (One time, just one time, why couldn’t The Chosen One be some tired single parent with four kids, just trying to catch a break.)
Now, get the hell off my yard :).

06 October 2007


I went to the local comic-book show last Saturday and got to hang out a bit with VERTIGO editor Will Dennis, who steers such fine books as DMZ, 100 BULLETS, and Y: THE LAST MAN. I also attended a talk he gave last Thursday at the library. The talk was billed as a how-to on breaking into comics, but as usually happens in I-town during talks like this where only an interested few show up, the talk regresses into chilling out and talking shop. Which is still cool. I heard lots of stuff about the biz that I've heard before, but that sounds more real coming from someone neck-deep in it.

Besides, where else was I gonna sit two feet away from comic book legend Roger Stern? God, I've lived in this town for two years and I'm still too nervous to talk to the man. He's a veteran with cool war stories, talking about stuff like conversations he had with folks like Frank Miller back in the day.

The show itself was fun. The scenery wasn't as interesting since I got there as soon as it opened, beating the crowd. Not that it's Nerd Prom or anything, but the room is small and can get cramped in short order. I continued rebuilding the lost collection of my youth, finding books I'd owned in years past in "good" to "very good" condition. Stuff like old issues of Rom and Dectective Comics from the early 80s--comics that are twenty-five years really, really old--that I remember, for example, buying in a 7-11 that's no longer around, etc.

My "big score" was a discounted copy of Adrian Tomine's Summer Blonde. I'm telling you, it's a must-read. His stuff always keeps me enthralled.

30 September 2007

Good Reads

I know it looks like I just buried my nose in a book the whole weekend. In fact, I took my Saturday and went to the local comic show where I got to hang for a few minutes with an editor from VERTIGO comics. I'll talk about that next time, maybe.
  • Italo Calvino, "Good for Nothing"
  • Karen Jordan Allen, "Alternate Anxieties"
  • Amy Hempel, "Pool Night"
  • Rachel Pollack, "Burning Beard: The Dreams and Visions of Jacob ben Joseph, Lord Viceroy of Egypt"
  • Barry Hannah, "Water Liars"
  • Barry Hannah, "Love Too Long"
  • Barry Hannah, "Coming Close to Donna"
  • Mary Robison, "I Am Twenty-One"
  • Barry Hannah, "Quo Vadis, Smut?"
    (Comments on it, here)


Lit Shuffle: "Quo Vadis, Smut?" by Barry Hannah

29 September 2007

100th Post

What better way celebrate than to cross-post something that only an übergeek like me could possibly appreciate?

This so fucking rules!

EDIT: Needed a new clip, since the original got yanked.

22 September 2007

Good Reads

You'd think that since my last entry, I hadn't read any stories since June. So untrue. I've had other things to write but my reading list, but I figure I'd just try to get back into the swing of it.

So, some (but not all) of the cooler short stories I've read this past week...


Lit Shuffle: "Beg, Sl Tog, Inc, Cont, Rep" by Amy Hempel

21 September 2007

There, But for the Grace of God

My crit group is not like this, thank Christ. Now the business, from what I've heard, might be a different story...

(Sent by a fellow group member.)

EDIT: I'll be damned, I thought I've seen this image before. Neil Gaiman posted it on his blog a few days ago in an entry I "starred" for later review in Google Reader. I found it since I'm home sick from The Diamond Mines today, and going through my horrendous backlog.

@Six Sentences - Contest #2

"Orange Sherbet and Jessica Rabbit"

Half bio, half fiction.

20 September 2007

Tough Love

Sorry this is long overdue. Stuff to do, sick at work, writing to do, etc. But, I'll go ahead and talk about the responses to the portion of "Masked" that I've read for group, about 10 pages just before the ending.

The Good
  • The group saw a good crescendo in the tension I was trying to build.
  • People liked the dialogue. It seemed realistic, they said. Script-like with tons of subtext. The way two brothers would talk to each other.
  • Someone commented on certain "little touches" I've added, descriptions about what my characters did while talking. (Hey, it's not for nothing that I read all that Carver, Beattie, and Hempel.)
The Bad
  • I had a scene where the protagonist was listening to one side of a telephone conversation. For one, the conversation was probably too long, since some of the stuff in the conversation was repeated in a subsequent conversation. I got lots of useful suggestions on how to shorten the conversation.
  • A comment was made about the unclear relationship between the protagonist and another character--although I think any confusion would be cleared up if the story was read in toto.
  • I could've written a certain flashback scene a little better.
  • Some plot points I included in the back end of the story would probably better off in the beginning.
The Ugly
Okay, maybe these parts weren't "ugly," but I felt these comments needed special attention. I haven't quite figured out exactly how to incorporate these particular changes yet.
  • Someone commented about a scene that takes place in the outdoors. Granted, I didn't read a section that might have fleshed out a description of the outdoors, but I've thought lately to just how much trouble I have writing descriptions. (Call it a consequence of reading all that Carver, Beattie, and Hempel.)
  • Okay, so the story involves an unseen enemy. I thought I could refer to it as such, trying not to resort to stuff like, The Unseen Evil That Must Not Be Named. Now, no one suggested for a minute I do that. But, I could really use some sort of consistent tag to use throughout the story.
Well, I sent the whole 29-page beast to five folks in my writing group. I've heard back from one and I've got four to go. Then, I'll edit, then I'll send it out. Hopefully, this'll be one I get paid for!

Hack & Slash

I got rid of the counters. Maybe I'll put them into entries if I feel like it. Maybe not. But I'd rather clutter the sidebar with other things.

09 September 2007

"That's the sound of the men working on the chain gang"

It took me quite a long time to achieve the level of groove I've got now. I'll be happier with it when I start seeing what sort of finished stories I start to produce. But right now, I'm more interested in my daily progress.

Before the AS3K, I used to carry around two legal pads, a white one for draft when I couldn't or wouldn't carry my laptop around, and a yellow one for notes. Nowadays, I don't have much need for my white pad. I do all of my drafting on the AlphaSmart, and other writing and planning in my notebook or my canary pad. So yeah, I got a new style, as the kids say. The important thing is whether or not my new process helps me produce on a daily basis, regardless of how I perceive the "quality" of the first draft.

Because right now, I really don't know where this new piece of mine, "The one with the warlock JuCo," is going. I honestly wonder whether there's a story in here. I think the initial scene that inspired the story in the first place is compelling and could maybe be turned into some sort of light flash piece. But beyond that, I'm running into the "Okay, why should anyone care?" question. It's tempting to quit, but I won't. It's more likely I'll be tempted to sit and type pages and pages of notes and summaries and shit--I've got 9 pages of "supplementary material" that thus far has helped me write a mere 7 pages of first draft. What point, if any, does a cost-benefit analysis come into play?

Written with

07 September 2007

Drowning in RSS

So, I've been writing so much that I've let gobs and gobs of intarwub stuff pile up in my Google Reader. I've tried to quit "starring" anything, at least until I got caught up. Yeah, right. I just piled shit into Google Bookmarks.

Anyway, here's a random sampling of stuff I've accumulated, mostly writing related.

From Dar Kush (Steven Barnes) on reading.
The point is that your output will be one step down from your input. You can't read comic books and write classics. Sorry. Here's a joke I always tell students: 'If you want to write comic books, read pulp fiction. If you want to write pulp fiction, read popular fiction. If you want to write popular fiction, read bestsellers. If you want to write bestsellers, read classics. And if you want to write classics..? Choose your grandparents very carefully.'
Steve Perry on writers workshops (part one of two)
Damon [Knight]'s personal taste is not the same as an intrinsic flaw in the piece, and you have to be able to tell the difference, else you wind up producing stories that please the workshoppers but don't sell ...
Here's part two.

Another POV on critique groups from Bev Vincent.

Sarah Monette talks about Five Things I Know About Worldbuilding

Paul Jessup writes about The Newbie Writer Cycle.

Jay Lake follows up with The Early Career Writer cycle

There is NO....number 6.

From Warren's Bad Signal mail a few weeks ago...
But I did note that apparently the Gene Hunt role in the
ill-advised American remake of LIFE ON MARS is going to
good old Colm Meaney. And god knows Meaney's made some
crap to pay the mortgage, but he tends to elevate a thing --
or at least let some light into it -- just by showing up. So I
might give the remake a look after all, even though it's
almost guaranteed to be a train wreck...
And there you have it. Vital bits of information that, only by the grace of God, I've managed to survive without blogging about until today.

"They're only words, unless they're true"*

(*with apologies to Carl Wilson, et al.)

Jesus, this place got dusty. That's okay, though. We'll just sweep it all under the rug and get to bloggin'.

My bud Jill asked me re: my latest piece "Masked"...
When can I read this?
Hell, when am I going to read it?

I haven't since I posted that last entry. "Masked" ended up being a beast of a manuscript, clocking in at 6,651 words by MSWord count. By the "usual" method, we're talking 6,960...call it 7k (especially if I'm sending this to a pro market :)). That's part of the reason I haven't re-read it yet. Yes, there's all that jazz about letting a story "cool" for a bit. But, I just don't write 6600 words! 5500, one time (the one piece I've sold for actual cash). But 6600? I know I've gotta trim, but the last couple of times I read it, I was hard-pressed to find 1600 words worth of stuff to cut.

That'll change, I know. I'm in a panic over nothing. I'm sure when I look at it again (not until at least Monday), I'll be able to take the pencil and slash away. Then, I'll bring it to ol' writing group (if they can stomach it again--if I can stomach it again), and once it passes muster, then I may pass it around to other folks, kind of like a Camberwell Carrot.

03 September 2007

Tough Love

I went to Sunday's crit group session ready to read, but only if I couldn't avoid it. It turns out that I did manage to avoid it, which was just as well. Basically, I finished up "version 0.9" of "Masked," but the only part that was presentable was the ending, which I didn't want to give away.

And I finished up solely with the help of my AlphaSmart. Yes, I've handed over cash, so this thing is officially mine. And, worth every penny! Each and every day, I've generated a minimum of 500 words per session--the pulling teeth, "I really don't feel like doing this shit," taking my muse by the neck and wringing it like a wet towel minimum. The average has really been more along the lines of 750 words of draft and edits, not just on "Masked," but on other projects as well, including a Raketenwerfer piece I should really get to finishing.

And since I also scored a copy of the Get It utility, I crammed the portions I needed to edit back into the AS3K, and now "Masked" is done! In the can, as they say. I printed out a clean, new copy and let it cool for a day. I'm not even going to read it.

The next project is on the sidebar. But, like I said, I'm taking a little break to get back to some reading, and maybe a bit of blogging.

26 August 2007

Slack! (Why Not?)

I'm considering a "radical" idea. I've got a couple of stories to work on finishing, so when the next crit group session comes, I'm not going to read. *Gasp!* That's right, kids. I'm going to continue with "Masked," and send it out to those folks who've agreed to read it. I might bring the rough draft of "The one with the warlock JuCo" (Yeah that's a new one. I might put up a counter, but I'm not feeling it.) if too few people plan to read.

On the other hand, my original goal for that piece was to make it a flash piece...

23 August 2007

"While the music played, you worked by candlelight"

All that Steely Dan I've been listening to has finally bled into my writing. I pushed it out of my head, onto the AlphaSmart (which will be 100% mine once I hand the money over, rather than a function of 9/10ths of the law), and then to 6S, where it will appear next week.


Lit Shuffle: "The Black Sheep" by Italo Calvino

20 August 2007

New Old Toy

I forget if I've talked about wanting one of those PDA/fold-out keyboard combos, something to use as an ultraportable word processor to write on the fly a la Warren Ellis, et. al. Others have opted for something like this here device, the AlphaSmart 3000.

It's a sturdy one-piece word processor. That's it. No wireless or Bluetooth capability, not even Tetris--at least, not the lower-end model and certainly not on the discontinued models. And, having been loaned one for the past two days with an option to buy, it's taken me exactly that long to fall in love with it. It's an older, dinosaur model and not as small as a PDA, but it gives me exactly what I need!

It's solid and light (less than two pounds). The battery life is ridiculously long. It dumps content onto my computer, into whatever program I can type into (Word, Notepad, whatever), and even works as a keyboard emulator, to boot. I typed out most of this entry (aside from some minor edits) in a coffee shop a few hours ago, and I'm right now watching it dump right into a Blogger entry box.

The implications for my writing productivity blow my mind. Plus, all the potential ways I could "lifehack" this thing--hell, it's a listmaker and calculator, what more could a GTD geek ask for?

Of course, once I own this puppy, I have no excuse whatsoever for writing something--a "plug-in," some flash fiction, the occasional brainstorm, some edits--every single day. Not that I'll be using this every time, just for the times when I feel I just have to type as opposed to handwrite stuff for whatever reason.

Gone will be the days when I go, "Eh, I need to type this out; I'll just wait until I get home." Gone will be the days I lug around my laptop almost every damn day only to get a little bit done because I've dicked around on teh Intarwebs. Nope, no more excuses that don't have to do directly with my willpower or lack thereof.

Tough Love

As you can see from the progress bar (until I nuke it, that is), I'm 99% done with the first draft of "The one with the mask," which is now officially titled "Masked" (until I change it). No, I'm really not just one word shy of finishing. Rather, I've written all the scenes that I know are part of the story and it's just a matter of putting them together.

Unfortunately, I couldn't do it in time for the last group session, as I promised. They didn't seem to mind. They seemed more upset at the idea that I wasn't going to bring the story back. I mean, it'd been six weeks already. Luckily, they were almost unanimously willing to individually look at a finished version once I got it together, which should be in a few days (I hope).

Here's what they had to say...

The Good
  • The portion I shared got the adrenaline running, it seemed.
  • I snuck in a revised, condensed version of some of the stuff I shared last time. No one seemed to have a problem with it. In fact, one person noted that I effectively implemented the fixes that were suggested in the last session. Hey, reduce, reuse, and recycle, right?
The Bad
  • I knew there'd be problems with the flashbacks sooner or later. I tried to stick with the rule about how to frame them grammatically in a story, but I floundered in places.
  • I had a couple of longish sentences.
  • There were a couple of minor plot points and details that could stand to be cut out.
The Ugly
How ugly could it have been when apparently it's now the rule (as a joke!!) that I'm to read last so no one has to follow me? Okay, that was shameless of me to repeat that, but that's what they said. No, for me the ugly part is that I just couldn't get it all done. But, I've acquired a tool lately that will go a long way to removing some of the barriers to getting shit done that aren't directly related to my will power.

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me

...that I'd left that dorky-looking Twitter application stuck at the top of my sidebar? Don't worry, it's gone now.

My apologies.

12 August 2007

Bad Attitude

Wow, I'm just not feeling it on any level right now. And, I've already written the first draft of a story today, a flash piece for the online flash crit group I'm in, in about an hour. I remember when that would've been a coup. Today, (a) I'm half-berating myself because that's just not the project I'm supposed to be working on right now and (b) now I've got one more thing to edit.

I know that's the absolute wrong way to look at things right now, but there it is.

10 August 2007

Where's My Inner Taskmaster?

Yes, I added about another thousand words to "The one with the mask." But, the story's still not done, I don't think (which obviously means the MS isn't finished). Alas, some of the pressure is off as the group is cancelled this week. But, this is opportunity--now, there's absolutely no fucking excuse for not having a finished quality product ASAP.

Guess I'm Really Not Alone

I'm in a café in a library at the Big Red School on the Hill, playing hookey from work. Hell, I got stories to finish.

There's a joke in I-town, mostly among writers who know each other, that everyone here is a writer. "Everyone"--townies, professors, undergrads, grad students--is working on some novel or screenplay or somethingorother.

I'm observing a conversation between two people, an English professor and a library media specialist, and an old physics professor who kind of horned in on their conversation.

Two of the three confessed to being writers.

07 August 2007

So That's How It's Done

Elizabeth Bear writes in Storytellers Unplugged: Passion and the single blogger
And that's what makes [certain blogs] readable--compulsive, even. Because they're committed. They're there laying it on the line. This is what I do, and this is how I do it.

And that? Is interesting. And it's interesting in ways that apply to fiction writing, too. Because characterization counts. I mean, let's be honest here: Shakespeare couldn't plot his way out of a wet paper bag. And he knew it, too, which is why he lifted stories from everywhere and anywhere, with the peculiar light-fingered pickpocket's touch of his. But the man could write characters--people--better than just about anybody.

A good weblog is about character.

05 August 2007

New Subs

I'm going to have a go at tracking my fiction submissions on here. I've appropriately decided to label this, and all future posts of this sort, masochism.

I've sent two flash pieces here. I was at a talk in the spring sponsored by the Saltonstall Foundation, and the editor of this journal was one of the presenters. I'd been thinking about submitting to them ever since, even after seeing this potential vision of my future in the last two panels of this page from Raketenwerfer's America's Top Novelist, part 2.

The Eagle Has Landed!

The Wife has returned from her trip to Korea, the details of which can be found on her project's website! I'm sure there'll be more stuff once she fights off the jet lag.

03 August 2007

If Laughter's the Best Medicine

...then the person down the counter from me seems to have overdosed on it.

This dude is giggling uncontrollably for no reason that I can discern. I don't see a Bluetooth on him, he's not reading anything, and I don't see anything out the window we're both facing worth ROTFL about.

And, now he's just stopped like there was nothing.

Stars Must've Aligned

...if I'm reading this not two weeks after discovering this person's name via the Great American Prose Poems anthology, which is yet another book added to my goodreads list before I've finished the 100 other things on it.

Charles Simic Receives Poet Laureate Post, Plus $100,000 Award
By Jeffrey Burke
Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Charles Simic, a Pulitzer Prize- winning writer, will receive two major honors today. He will be named the 15th poet laureate of the U.S. by the Librarian of Congress, succeeding Donald Hall, and he will receive a $100,000 award from the American Academy of Poets.

02 August 2007

Rolfing My Inner Child

So you went and you found you a guru
In an effort to find you a new you
And maybe even managed to raise your conscious level.
While you're striving to find the right road,
There's one thing you should know,
"What's hip today might become passé"

Tower of Power, "What Is Hip"
Note to self: Work that quote into a rewrite of this essay, written such a long time ago I'm almost embarassed by the prose.

01 August 2007


I know what you're thinking. All that screed about writing, and here he is blogging. Deal ;). I just wanted to take a second and brag.

I'm also part of an online flash fiction critique group, which I've been neglecting as I freak myself out trying to pound "The one with the mask" out of me. There's a minimum monthly participation level that I crammed into the last day of July with one story and three critiques.

The story was based on a Carver-like piece of Vogon poetry I wrote awhile back, probably the closest to a decent poem I've ever written or am ever likely to write. No, I don't consider that cheating at all, why do you ask? There was lots of editing that needed done. Anyway, I submitted it to surprisingly few criticisms, aside from people's individual tastes on sentence structure.

The point again that this is the umpteenth time I've experienced the joys of just sitting the fuck down and getting shit on paper, sort of the literary equivalent of a bulemic purge, in order to beat a deadline. You'd think I'd learn that lesson, but I doubt I will anytime soon. Already, I feel myself "not feeling like it," as far as the bits I have to do to carry "The one with the mask" those few precious steps toward completion.

Tough Love

Haven't done the writing group update yet, seeing as I'm supposed to be plugging away at "The one with the mask" (which may actually end up being titled "Masked"). I gave them my 1,000 words, and I got the following back...

The Good
  • I wrote a scene where the protagonist referred to a past hospitalization (the implication being that it was a psych hospitalization), which was seen as a "realistic depiction." In the interest of full disclosure, I've worked in the field, so I know how these things go.
  • People appreciate the humor. Again, it's shocking. I know I write funny bits in my stories, mostly in the form of character thoughts or dialogue. They're the ones being funny, not the story itself. But the group seems to really enjoy that aspect when it's there. I suspect, though, that it maybe has more to do with my reading (we read our pieces out loud to the rest of the group) than the prose itself, but I could be wrong.
  • No one really had any nits to pick about the prose itself. Again, it's kind of like the tone of my rejection letters: "Great prose, but the story blah blah blah..."
The Bad
  • I was afraid that I'd included some extraneous details in this section, although I didn't exactly know what would be extraneous until after I'd finished. The group concurred on both counts.
  • I'd inadvertently altered the voice of the protagonist. One person noted that he had a "sweetness" to him in the beginning that disappeared. I wish I could say that I did that on purpose, because there were some darker themes to the section I wrote, but the crit was right. The truth is, there's a noticeable jump in the protag's voice between the first 1300 words and the next thousand. And the themes really stay at a certain level of darkness.
  • The same critiquer thought that I was wandering from the main thrust of the story. Again, she was right. Although I think I can fix that with some serious editing.
The Ugly
Again, no real "ugly" to speak of. Heck, one person in the group said she didn't have any crits to give.

Afterward, we had the usual kaffeeklatch that went pleasantly longer than it typically does. I talked about how I psyched myself out by presenting a portion of the story last time that got such rave reviews that I was freaking out that I had to come up with something that would garner as much praise. Apparently, I'm not the first person this has happened to, which is the reason for the prevailing wisdom that one should only bring finished pieces to a writing group. I've always been in 100% agreement. It was just that all I had for last time was the start of "The one with the mask," so that was what I brought. I guess you can call it my self-imposed consequence of not having something finished within the alotted time.

Deadlines, people--the reason I hooked up with a group to begin with.

28 July 2007

Spreading the Blame

From Dar Kush:
Please remember [some stuff he was talking about in reference Ving Rhames' character in the movie I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry] in the context of white audiences still apparently unwilling to accept the onscreen hetersexual coupling of Black or Asian men. IT'S NOT HOLLYWOOD--don't think you can pigeon-hole it, lay this problem off on a few executives. Hollywood just tallies the box office, boys and girls. They have no agenda higher than making their Hummer payments. This is America.

Progress, or Lack Thereof

I managed to hammer out just over 1,000 more words for "The one with the mask" for group tomorrow. I've had two weeks to do this. I did 300 a week ago, and came up with the rest today.

Yes, I've been writing other things, which is a blessing and curse. One of the things I need to do is work on the ability to focus on a project. It's hard when ideas come flying at you, left and right. But I finally realized that each page in the notebook fleshing out a random idea could've been one page of this story. I've been editing other stories, one of which is ready to send out. I dunno, time management's always been a problem for me. Although it's usually not a matter of slacking vs. working. It's a question of what to work on, and when there's no particular deadline you're trying to meet, I feel like I can, for the most part, write what I want to write on any given day.

Which is why I finally buckled down and found a group. I promised the group more of this story, and by God I was gonna give it to them. And I did, banging out and editing 700something words, proving to me once again that (a) there's something to be said about deadlines and (b) the proven technique of sitting the fuck down and just writing something!

Part of my problem was that I psyched myself out over this story. Each instance where I sat down with the paper file and computer file open was painful. I had to force myself to do it, and I didn't know why at first. It seemed like the basic problem I had with other stories, where I knew where Point A and Point Z are, and even a decent idea of where Points C, D, N, and U are...but no idea how to connect them. I couldn't break through, despite the copious notes I took and the various techniques I've tried in the past to beat the block.

Finally I realized (a) I gotta come up with something with all the material I'd put together and (b) I've been putting mounds of undue pressure on myself. The pressure came from the fact that the first portion I submitted for critique got such a positive response that a part of me was like, "Oh shit, where do I go from here?" I wanted the next portion (okay, the rest of the story which I wanted to have finished by today) to be just as good.

See, that's bad. I have to remember that this is still a first draft. I know I've probably written some extraneous material, but I won't know it's extraneous until I'm done.

Anyway, I'll print it out once more and give it the once over, and then I'm going to call it a day. I've got 1000 words to submit tomorrow, and it's all good.


Lit Shuffle: "Other Desires" by Stephen Elliott

23 July 2007

Crack That Whip

That's what I'm doing on "The one with the masks," since I've got less than a week now to come up with something to present to the writing group this Sunday. It's been rough, trying to keep the home in a semblance of order since the wife's away. Any writing on this project has been done using Steven Barnes' strategy of creating "plug-ins" that I can generate in one sitting, crammed into whatever time I might have.

The progress (now on the sidebar, since Zokutou works again) speaks for itself.

Get On the (Dream)Bus

Part of the reason I haven't written as much as I'd like is that I'm home alone trying to keep the place from exploding since my wife is overseas. I'm determined that our apartment will not degenerate into a bachelor pad that needs cleaning up in the hours before she returns.

What's she doing overseas? I'm glad you asked.
Korea Dreambus!
That's the site where she chronicles her work on her independent documentary film project on the life of teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) in South Korea.

It makes a husband proud, let me tell you!

15 July 2007

Tough Love

My newest project, "The one with the mask," got generally good reviews from the crit group today. No, it's not on the sidebar yet, as Zokutou seems to be down. As much as I was loath to bring in an unfinished piece, the group seemed to understand and I got exactly the sort of comments that were appropriate for a piece in the stage it's currently in.

The Good
  • People found the protagonist to be sympathetic.
  • No one found fault with the use of flashback, thus far (though someone made the comment that the prose might need tightening, depending on the story's final length).
  • Most importantly, they wanted more!
The Bad
  • The relationship between the two characters shown thus far needed to have been specified up front, maybe with some dialogue.
  • Someone stated they would've liked more dialogue in the beginning because they didn't get a sense of the protagonist's voice. This one actually disturbed me, because the critiquer was right--there wasn't a clear sense of the protagonist's voice, partly because I'm not sure I know what it sounds like yet.
  • The secondary character needs to be the reality anchor. The story's a contemporary fantasy joint, you see, and there needed to be a stronger sense of the general whereabouts of "reality."
  • I referred to the secondary character by a real name and a nickname. I should've picked one or the other.
The Ugly
There didn't seem to be an ugly this time around. Of course, I was only five pages in, so there's lots of room to fuck it up. Speaking of which, no one mentioned being as bothered as I was that I somehow managed to cram more swearing into five pages than I have into some of my other stories.
Anywho, like I said, I've got most of the beats worked out. And, during our post-critique chill-out Kaffeeklatsch, a fair amount of interesting details came to me that I just had to get down. Remember the King quote from the other day? Eh, I'm sure they all understood. They're all writers.

14 July 2007

"...all alone and unprepared"

One of the reasons I wanted to hook up with a critique group is that I wanted a reason to regularly produce stuff. For the group. Oh, I've produced stuff since last time, but nothing the group (because of its parameters) would be interested in reading.

I'm not bitching about how and why I couldn't. You can read the other blog for that. That's not even the point.

The point is that instead of furthering work on the various unfinished projects I have listed on the sidebar today--well, okay, only one of which is suitable for the group--do I pull those out and work on them? Hell, no.

What I did was delve into the journal and reworked some pages I wrote one early morning during our camping trip last week. It would've been last Sunday, around 7-ish, sitting with my back to the sun, facing into the treeline surrounding the area where we had our campfire.

I've got five pages of the best "shitty first draft" I've ever written. It's not a complete piece; hell it's not even all of Act I. But I'm pretty happy with the progress. I just wish I could shake out a little more of the story, but I spent a fair amount of time working out some of the major beats. I know exactly what the story's about and how it's going to end (more or less).

Maybe I'm not so unprepared, after all.

13 July 2007

Gonna Be a Bright Sunshiny Day

Just this second, I noticed a small family out on the Arts Quad at the Big Red School on the Hill. A young Mom and Dad, probably both grad students, were throwing a bouncy rubber ball back and forth while Little Baby Girl (who can't be more than a year old) was reading her little baby book. Mom miscalculated her throw and the ball bounced off of Little Baby Girl's head.

I couldn't hear anything from inside the library cafe, but you could tell the baby was screaming. Mom and Dad didn't seem too worried, though. In the time it took me to write this, Little Baby Girl was hugged and soothed, and is now back up and around, enjoying the sunshine and the grass, almost like nothing ever happened.

12 July 2007


I've just now had to stop, take a deep breath, and just accept that my creative energy is pretty scattershot right now. I thought that some of the writing I've done over the past couple of days would take the edge off, but it hasn't.

Aside from the Raketenwerfer thing, I've scrawled about three or four pieces of my patented Vogon poetry. Just the usual stuff I'd never show to another living soul. Though I spent an inordinate amount of time polishing. I might never plan to show them, but at least they should be somewhat presentable in the unlikely event that they are ever seen.

I actually started two first drafts of things that will most likely end up as stories, once I figure out where they're going. That's six or seven pieces of writing, NOT counting the random stuff I've been cramming into the notebook, before I've even opened up the project folders of some of the stuff on the sidebar.

I had the idea that I could take a couple of past ideas, one unfinished and one I thought was finished, and hopefully polish one up in time for the crit group this Sunday. So far, it's not looking good. Luckily, I have tomorrow off, but I was really hoping to get a jump on things today. Maybe I won't.

I need to get up and walk around.

10 July 2007

Brain Dump

I ranted like some rabid dog on the other blog some days ago. In case the context might have been lost, the story was that life conspired to deny me the writing time I took off from work to get (i.e. my first paid vacation in years). And since I couldn't get it because, frankly, there were other needs to be tended to, I went and turned into a brat and went all "scorched earth" on my time. Meaning that I utterly refused to be a good family member and make myself present to attend to others' very real needs if I couldn't attend to my writing. Needless to say I made other people's lives, and my own, pretty hellish for a while.

I'm not proud of that.

Luckily, by the end of last weekend, I got over it, even as I managed (to the possible chagrin of others) to beg, borrow, and steal writing time away.

Stephen King said in On Writing:
Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects.
Well, I managed to jot some things down, anyway. Oddly enough, though, I really don't think a lot of my company seemed to mind. I made a little bit of progress on the 3rd, and hopefully salable, draft of "The one about the angel"

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
288 / 4,420

I've also started drafts of things. Good beginnings of...something. Trouble is, see all those projects on the sidebar, there? Regardless of what I choose to work on, if I can't get anything finished come Sunday's critique group, I'm going to be sitting there twiddling my thumbs, and I'm damned if I'm going to do that.

I Don't Know But I've Been Told

...that editing your Blogger entries really futzes with people's RSS subscriptions. If it did, I apologize. I just wanted a better way of listing my publications and having them show up the way I want them to using labels.

@Six Sentences


04 July 2007

@Six Sentences

An American Memoir

(This was an entry for 6S's first contest. This is the first time I've heard of publication as a consolation prize, but I'm not complaining.)

02 July 2007

She Talks to Angels

Christian angelic hierarchy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: The Assumption of the Virgin by Francesco Botticini at the National Gallery London, shows three hierarchies and nine orders of angels, each with different characteristics

* First Hierarchy
o Seven chief Archangels (including Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael)
o Seraphim
o Cherubim
o Thrones or Ophanim
* Second Hierarchy
o Dominions or Dominations or Kyriotites
o Virtues or Dynameis
o Powers or Exousiai
* Third Hierarchy
o Principalities or Archai
o Archangels (all others)
o Angels

01 July 2007

Tough Love

I reset the counter for "The one about the angel" as I'm about to start the third draft, now that I read the crit group Act III of the story. Lots of good suggestions were offered. Not just pointing out story problems, but offering alternate ideas, some of which I intend to implement once I work it out on one of my canary yellow legal pads.

I'm basically starting from scratch, which is exactly what I need to do. It's just the thought of going through the same turf again doesn't thrill me. But I've got to get this story off my plate and back out there. There's really no reason not to, especially when I have little doubt that by the end of the story, it's going to be that much closer to publication.

Taking a deep breath...aaaand, here we go...

Zokutou word meter
0 / 4,420

30 June 2007

Unintentional Eavesdropping

Nope. I was in Indianapolis six months. No one paid me a dime.

(repeat x3)
No, not a song lyric. Just the ramblings of a probable itinerant (judging solely by appearance, I admit) sitting one comfy chair over in the café I'm sitting in. I didn't see a Bluetooth earpiece. And if I had, I don't think I'd necessarily be less disturbed.


Short Review of "Those Who Seek Forgiveness" by Laurel K. Hamilton

25 June 2007

Nothing to See Here

Jaysus, I'd tell this person to give it up already, except that this person obviously didn't find what he or she was looking for. Maybe this can serve as a warning for the next lazy-ass cheating bastard: Read the damn story yourself, you goldbricker! As if your prof couldn't spot your plagarizing a mile away.

23 June 2007

Good Reads

I know what I've said about commenting on short stories. But I've read a couple of things worth talking about at certain places. All of these stories are worthy of comment, but alas--so many stories, so little time.


Short Review of "Popular Mechanics" by Raymond Carver

@RBJ Community Blog

Quick Review of "Preview" by Tara F.T. Sering

20 June 2007

Which MACGYVER Episode Was This?

Make Your Own Altoids Can Vibrator

Solo Action

I can relate to this.
"And maybe it’s our drive to be alone -- not all the time, certainly, but enough to read and dream and reset our mental energies in order to deal with People again -- that at least partly impels the drive to write. Reading and writing become the bridge crossing us from our carefully guarded alone-zone into the world, into the human condition itself. We contain multitudes, and those multitudes contain us."
The sad irony of course is that I'm in a cafe doing this, instead of in the home office with the door closed. I can't help it, I either need to be completely isolated or be surrounded by people who aren't entitled to one iota of my time and attention.

I'm not so sure the solitude has to do with my particular drive to write. My drive comes from the struggle to take ideas from my head, some that've been there for years, and spit them out in a form others might appreciate. I've been doing the spitting part for years, anyway--why not construct something from it?

17 June 2007

Tough Love

Today, I had my first story critiqued by the writers group I joined two weeks ago. "The one about the angel." God, it was exactly what I needed! A lot of the criticism mirrored some of the general feedback I'd get when I'd submit it: "Good prose/writing, nice concept, but..." They gave me a lot to think about, and one or two things I hadn't even considered.

Because of the length limits, I only brought in the first 2/3 of the story, picking a place that was somewhat of a cliffhanger. I figured that if I did my job right, they'd be interested in the end. Despite some of the problems they pointed out, most of the group--the ones present, despite Fathers Day--did want to know what happened next, which was pretty gratifying.

Childhood, Redux

"Utopia" has to be the best DOCTOR WHO episode of the new series, if for no other reason than it made me feel like I was twelve again, jaw dropped in awe of all the levels of awesome!

I'd always thought more of David Tennant's episodes were more good than bad, but there was something that didn't click the way Christopher Eccleston's run did. I think it has something to do with age. Not mine, but the actor's. To me, the image of the Doctor as this older, adult figure went hand-in-hand with his being a 900 year-old traveler in time and space. Whereas David Tennant is just over two years older than me. Not that his Doctor isn't all manner of awesome; it's just that some of the edge was taken off. Eccleston, on the other hand, has almost a decade on me. His Doctor, and his episodes, still held a bit of that larger-than-life gravitas for me. I enjoyed his run while fondly remembering the old childhood nostalgia.

But watching this last episode, I was right back there! Eleven or twelve years-old on a Saturday night with the lights out watching the only thing that PBS was good for (at the time, to me), getting my geek on.

16 June 2007

I Can Buy This

Pretty, Fizzy Paradise: For Want of a Hero...
But the thing is. Anti-heroes don't mean anything without a heroic presence to offset them. There needs to be a voice of conventional, approachable, relatable morality to make the counterbalance and contrast mean something. There needs to be a hero.
Again, thinking back to the one story anyone's bought so far (I won't link it, because it's depressing that I'm the only reason the link pops up on my Technorati watch list anymore) which features an anti-hero of sorts, there is another character who provides that conventional, approachable, relatable morality.

This is also the reason, I believe, that a current project I'm working on is flailing right now. The main character is an anti-hero surrounded by scum. And I'm running--actually, the main character is running--into this wall...
An anti-hero doesn't have to make the tough decisions, to choose their heart's desire over an innocent child's life, for example. Anti-heroes CAN'T make those tough decisions because once they're faced with them, they can't be anti-heroes anymore.
So, it's clear what needs to be done, but how? In any case...

"The one about the regenerating assassin..."*

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4,160 / 5,000

*(This is a project title; I haven't even been able to think up a working title yet.)

10 June 2007

You Thought I Was Being Paranoid

...when I said: "I started to get worried though when I started noticing that the blog was coming up in search results for some of the more "classic" stories, Babel's "My First Goose," for instance. And these visitors would spend more than enough time to copy and paste, too."

Do your own damn homework! ;)

09 June 2007

Good Reads

Back in the day, I used to post a list on the other blog of the short stories I'd read in a week and say a few words about them. I started to get worried though when I started noticing that the blog was coming up in search results for some of the more "classic" stories, Babel's "My First Goose," for instance. And these visitors would spend more than enough time to copy and paste, too. I'm probably paranoid, and I can't actually say I've ever said anything of substance. Still, I'm sure there was at least one desparate individual out there, cramming to get a last minute extra-credit assignment done and tried to Google and doodle his way to an easy essay. Well, screw him/her.

I felt I read through a lot of stuff lately worth mentioning, so I figure there's nothing wrong with putting a list together of stuff you should check out if you have the chance:

Ebony and Ivory

03 June 2007

The Journey vs. the Destination

If you read some of my posts on the other blog, you'll be able to glean that I'm a big GTD and lifehack geek. One of the areas GTD encourages you to monitor and consider on some regular basis is a list of your goals and/or direction one or two years out. The stuff that comprises "Where do you want to be in area X, this time in the next year or two?"

I had three items on a sublist in this category, six months into 2007.
  • Get a domain name, which I did yesterday.
  • Plug into a networking/support group, which I can now cross off twice over as of today.
  • Membership in the SFWA - Well, two out of three ain't bad, especially when 1 & 2 are bound to help me do that within the next year or two.
Now my other sublist that has the item "20 pices in circulation by 12/31/07"? I'm really off track, but not horribly so. Twenty might have been unrealistic. Yet what I've accomplished so far puts me waaay ahead of where I was this time in 2006. The journey vs. the destination...I think I'm starting to get it now.

02 June 2007

In the 21st Century Now

I've referenced Warren's Burst Culture post before, which also jammed this firmly into my brain:
The hurdle to credible publishing on the web, now, is the nine dollars it costs to buy a domain name from GoDaddy, which can be mapped on to a free Tumblr or Blogger space.
Well, I shelled out a couple extra bucks to maintain one latex-thin prophylactic against those ready to spam my email and home address, because I just couldn't get the idea out of my head to go ahead and own...


Tomorrow, the world!

Of course, if you've just now clicked without reading ahead to this sentence, you've just discovered that it takes you right back here.


This is something from the private journal that I thought was worth mentioning here.

If you asked me as recently as a week ago how I felt about my progress as a writer in 2007, I would've said, "Piss poor." If you look at sheer numbers, I'm way behind. However, there's just no comparison between where I am right now and where I was this time last year. Not only that, but since last week, I've made quite a few strides in networking with area writers, not to mention some pretty serious cats via Teh Intarnets.

It's all about seed-sowing, which is what I'm doing right now and what I'm feeling pretty good with right now.

01 June 2007

Grumpy Old Villains

Written World: 50 Things I Love About Mainstream Superhero Comics
8) The core team of the JSA is essentially a bunch of cranky old men who probably get together with old supervillains to play poker.
This sort of fuels an expansion of this idea in my mind.

I wrote that story as part of my deconstruction of the supervillain archetype. But, I want to take it further. We all know the various and sundry reasons why any superhero keeps fighting the Neverending Battle. But why do villains keep going? Why keep get your ass handed to you on a regular basis? Why cope with the various life disruptions caused by jail time or faking one's own death?

Because they're EEE-VIL? That might be a plausible explanation if they won something really worthwhile on occassion. Being psycho might be a better explanation; certainly that's the one given to us by a lot of villains lately.

Gotta think more about this one...

29 May 2007


Jonathan Lethem, Richard Posner, and others reveal their favorite fonts.
Jonathan Lethem, author, You Don't Love Me Yet: A Novel
I dislike the temptation of making a raw draft look like it's already typeset. Before computers, I wrote three novels on a typewriter, and there can never be anything but 12-point Courier (double-spaced) forever: I write on an eternal Selectric of the mind. I can even hear the rattle of the metal ball against the sheet of paper, I swear.
Ditto. What's the point of anything else, at least when I'm generating a manuscript? Although the labels on the folders of my GTD reference files at the day job are all typeset in Trebuchet MS.

27 May 2007

Women in Cape Books

Pretty, Fizzy Paradise: I Want More Crimson Avenger, Please!:
I also like how essentially non-gendered her concept is. Her origin story could easily be a man's or a woman's.
This brings up all sorts of questions in my mind about the tale I wrote which BYZARIUM published, especially about the secondary character. I wonder how many mistakes I made or didn't make?

26 May 2007

"To Light..."

Editing progress on version 2.1...

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
3,900 / 4,900

You Know That Flash Argument About Attention Span?

warrenellis.com » Burst Culture:
Bursts aren’t contentless, nor do they denote the end of Attention Span. If attention span was dead, JK Rowling wouldn’t be selling paperbacks thick enough to choke a pig, and Neal Stephenson wouldn’t be making a living off books the size of the first bedsit I lived in.

25 May 2007


Whatever: My Policy on Fanfic and Other Adaptations of My Work:
"First: I do retain and reserve all rights to my work. I'm not very squishy about that fact. Just so you know. If you play in my universe, you implicitly accept I have the right to come around, say 'mine!' and then stomp off with all your pretty toys. Yeah, I know. I'm a dick. What can I say.

Second: As long as you can deal with that first point, as far as I'm concerned, you may play in my universe(s) as long as the emphasis is on 'play.' This means that nothing you do in my universes may:

a) Generate any sort of economic benefit for you, in any form;
b) Generate any sort of economic benefit for any third party;
c) Cause me economic detriment of any sort."
Not that I ever expect anyone to ever write fanfic about anything I create. Nor have I ever written any fanfic of any kind (unless you count a DOCTOR WHO story I wrote back in the 7th grade as an assignment).

Hail, Jaws

Shark's virgin birth stuns scientists | Earth News | Earth | Telegraph
"A female hammerhead shark has given birth without the help of a male, after genetic tests revealed that its baby shark had no paternal DNA.

An international team reports that the shark's 'virgin birth' was down to an unusual method of reproduction known as 'parthenogenesis', where an egg starts to divide without being fertilised."

Mundane-SF Stuff

Mundane-SF: Encyclopedia of Life:
"Recently I got an iPod which now allows me to listen to all kinds of interesting broadcasts from around the world that were previously unaccessed. The aggregator software, the citizen journalism, the interviews with scientists who speak about what they believe in without the need to be filtered through the boring style required of scientific papers -- all of this has appeared in the last couple of years as yet another phenomenon never mentioned in an SF story before it happened. Like most aspects of the internet."

20 May 2007


Enforcing Boundaries: Making Sure Others Respect Your "Right to Write"

Heros Journey : Summary of Steps

Heros Journey : Summary of Steps


OWW for SF, F, OWW SF & Famp; H Tips and Advice: Byrne:

"...each scene should have at least three purposes: to advance the story, reveal character, and create background/setting to underpin the first two."

My New Favorite Site

Paleo-Future: A look into the future that never was

Discussions abound right now about various sorts of "-punks," steam-, cyber-, clock-, punk-, but I've had things in mind for some time that this site is bound to help me kick out of my brain and onto paper.

EDIT: Here's the Google group