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.