Since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, this blog post will be brief

Greetings, everyone.  I hope you’re having a good day.  This post should be relatively short, but I thought I’d give a few minor updates.

First, as those of you following this blog will already have noticed, I posted the audio for Prometheus and Chiron here yesterday.  I think it turned out reasonably well, and the sound quality overall was a step up from Ifowonco.  As I’ve said before, I think I’m getting better at audio production as I become more used to the process, but I imagine there will always be room for improvement.

Unanimity is coming along well—I haven’t been slacking on it, even though I’ve been working on these audio projects.  It is, however, going to end up being rather longer than I thought it would be, because there are quite a few more things that need to happen before the story is done.  I’m not bored of it by any means; quite the contrary.  But I have been surprised by how quickly it’s grown.  I’m sure the rewriting/editing process is going to be daunting, but then again, it always is.

I’ve decided that, from now on, I’m not going to stop writing new things (i.e., first drafts of stories), even while I’m editing older material—I’ll just set a lower target every day for the new writing during those times.  For instance, right now, when new writing is essentially my entire focus (excluding the audio), I’m writing roughly three pages a day, five days a week (with two days set aside, one for this blog, and for my other one, Iterations of Zero).  Once I need to get into editing Unanimity (after it’s been set aside for Stephen King’s recommended weeks-long resting period), I’ll plan to write only one new page a day, and then spend the rest of my mornings editing.

That’s the plan, anyway.  Of course, we all know what Rabbi Burns (ha!) said about the best laid plans of mice and men and all that, but I’m not too worried about achieving that goal precisely, just in spirit.

Other matter, other matters…

Now that the audio of Prometheus and Chiron has been released, I’m soon going to upload the video version of that audio to my YouTube channel, and I’ll notify everyone here once it’s up.  As before, don’t expect much from the video portion; it’s likely just going to be a still image of the cover of the story.  I just find that YouTube is an incredibly widespread and easily shared venue in which to post something, including audio.  I’ve noticed that quite a few people make similar videos of the audio of podcasts, for instance.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I often like to go to sleep while listening to a lecture, or discussion, or something of the sort playing on YouTube.  I don’t know how well that would work with my audio—my stories aren’t really designed to ensure restful slumber—but if you think they might, feel free to play them, in either venue.  As I think I’ve said before, I plan on creating audio versions of all my short stories eventually, and then—possibly—releasing audio of at least some of my novels, a chapter at a time.  When that time comes, I’ll gladly take your input on with which book to begin.

There’s not much other news on the writing front this week.  I plan next week to post an author’s note for Hole for a Heart.  That will no doubt rehash some of what I’ve already talked about here when I was writing the story, but it’s going to be far from redundant, I think.  Then I think I really need to get started on my series of explorations of my favorite antagonists from books, stories, graphic novels, comics, movies, etc., under the general heading, “My heroes have always been villains.”  I’ve been intending to do this for a long time—planning it, you might say (see above about plans)—but it’s high time I put it into motion.

That’s about it.  It’s been brief, as I said it would be, but I will post here also just to let everyone know when the Video of the Audio is up, so you won’t feel too short-changed.  In the meantime, try to enjoy (in the northern hemisphere) the slowly developing Spring.  As always, feel free to comment, and thank you for reading.

TTFN!

Oh, that this too too sullied blog post would melt…

Okay, once again I’m taking a week-long break between author’s notes, just to give those who are interested a brief update on my doings.  Next week, I will post the author’s note for The Death Sentence, the first story in my collection Welcome to Paradox City, (unless, for some unforeseen reason, I decide to write it about something else).

As you know, if you follow this blog, I’ve taken a short break from working on Unanimity, my upcoming horror novel, to complete the editing and rewriting of Hole for a Heart, an earlier version of which appeared here.  Like its predecessors, I for one welcome our new computer overlords, and Prometheus and Chiron, the story is benefiting greatly from the process, at least in my eyes.  Hopefully, anyone who ends up having read both versions will agree with me.*

It’s always nice when, upon rereading his or her own story, an author finds himself or herself excited and moved by that work, and this has been true in spades on Hole for a Heart.  I’ve experienced brilliant moments when, going through the rewrite/edits, I found myself getting mildly creeped out.  This is a good thing; it is a horror story, after all.  Of course, it helped that I was doing the work in the early morning, while it was still dark outside, and I was alone.  But still…obviously, I knew what was going to happen in the story, but still found myself at least mildly chilled.  It’s nice that the atmosphere I’d tried to create worked, at least on me.  Whether it will work similarly on other readers remains to be seen, but I have high hopes.

On another subject:  I’ve struggled to find the time to work on my non-fiction-related blog, “Iterations of Zero.”  I did write a brief post there earlier this week, detailing some puzzlement I have about the nature of gravitons, and how they might interact with an event horizon, because I felt compelled to get those thoughts out into the meme-pool, but it’s difficult for me to get all that I want to get done there.  I have three partially written articles languishing in my computer, as well as two full files in the memo app of my smart-phone, stuffed with ideas about which I want to write, issues I want to address, questions I want to raise.  When I say full, I mean it.  The files are as large as is allowed by the memo app…or at least the first one is, and the second is within a hair’s breadth of fullness.

By comparison, the file containing my story ideas (admittedly it’s not the only location for such recorded inspiration) is only one, nearly-full, memo file.**

The main reason that I have trouble getting IoZ as productive as I want it to be is time, that limiting factor on all things, so beautifully lamented by Andrew Marvell in To His Coy Mistress.  I work eleven out of every fourteen days, full time, and my commute is an hour to two hours in each direction.  This transit provides a wonderful opportunity to listen to podcasts and audio-books, but otherwise, those are unproductive hours.

Obviously, I can’t just write while I’m at work.  My boss is about as pleasant and understanding as it’s possible to be while owning and running a business, but his patience would be strained if I were to spend a significant amount of my work time doing things that had no relation to my job.  More pointedly, long before I would reach the threshold of annoying my boss, I would be curtailed by own conscience.  It’s simply not in my nature to be able to freeload while earning a paycheck, and I’m glad that it’s not.

So, my time is limited, and if sacrifices have to be made in my writing, I must regretfully choose to sacrifice the non-fiction, since fiction is my primary calling.  Of course, if enough people buy my books, I may make enough money to write full time, which would not break my heart.  If you’d like to see that happen, please feel free to buy them, and encourage others to do so as well!  ^_^

On yet another note, rewriting my short stories, and listening to audio books has re-ignited my desire to post my own audio recordings of the three short stories I’ve been working on recently.  There’s something special about a book being read by its author; at least there is for me.  I know it isn’t always workable for everyone, but I have a pretty decent reading voice, and I’m frequently told that I sound pleasant on the phone, so I’m not worried about my words grating on the listener’s ears.  Also, it’s just wonderful fun – for me – to read things out loud.  It always has been.  I’ll read books out loud to myself, if I’m enjoying them enough, especially when the dialogue is good, and it’s nice to think of sharing that enjoyment.  I don’t really foresee recording any of my novels, at least not in the immediate future, and definitely not just for posting on the blog.  That kind of work would require remuneration.

On yet another other note:  I don’t recall whether I’ve mentioned this here before, but in recent times I’ve had a real block on reading fiction, which is quite new for me.  Forget finding new stories to read; even stories that I love deeply have been unable to grip my attention, and I am one who reads and rereads his favorite books repeatedly, in true geek fashion.  I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince seven times between the midnight when I bought it and the time Deathly Hallows was released…and it was by no means the only book I read in that time.  But lately, no fiction, either familiar or new, has been able to hold my attention for long.  My sister, however, recommended the Rick Riordan novels as uniformly enjoyable, and I know that my son loved the ones he read, so I purchased the Kindle version of The Lightning Thief, and so far – admittedly less than a tenth of the way into the book – I’m enjoying it.  I’ve been seriously worried, because I even had to force my brutal way through rereading the first four books of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series.  Frankly, I skipped a lot of book four, and then I just hung up on book five.  If Stephen King’s magnum opus can’t keep my attention, I’m in trouble.

Reading nonfiction, though, has not been as problematic; I love science books of many kinds, and have recently become enamored with more philosophical, political, and historical works as well.  Interestingly enough, some of my best story inspirations come to me from reading science books rather than as part of reading fiction.  Many of the ideas that appear in The Chasm and the Collision were triggered by my reading of The Fabric of the Cosmos, by Brian Greene.

Well, this post has gone all over the place, and has by no means remained as brief as I expected it to be when I began.  That’s okay, though.  Technically, this is a blog, and as such can function almost as a public diary.  In closing, I repeat that the work on Hole for a Heart is proceeding well, and the story should be available for sale in e-book format within a month, probably sooner.  It’s longish for a short-story, but that seems to be just how I roll.  (At least you’ll know you’re going to be getting your ninety-nine cents worth.)

Then, once that’s out, I shall return in full force to Unanimity, which is getting close to the end.  This is reassuring, since it’s already much longer than I had expected it to be.  These things do happen, I suppose.  Again, it just seems to be how I roll.

I welcome your feedback on this posting, on any others I have written, and even on anything else that might be on your mind.  The comment section below is open, and my Facebook and Twitter accounts are public.  I am a bit socially awkward, but nevertheless, I welcome you to contact me, at least regarding matters that I’ve discussed publicly.  And I also both encourage – and even beg – those of you who have read my work to give reviews, or at least ratings, on Amazon.  It really makes a difference.

Be well, all of you.  That’s an order.

TTFN!


*As part of this editing process, I’ve noticed, or discovered, a fascinating fact and trick:  Changing the font of your writing between edits can help you notice things that need fixing, and which you hadn’t noticed before, in the original font.  This is a fascinating psychological fact, at least about me, and now that I’ve discovered it, I mean to put it to full use from this moment on.

**  I actually posted one of those entries on my Facebook page recently.  It’s the opening paragraph for an eventual story, the trigger for which I can’t currently recall, and for which I have no idea what the story will be.  I like that paragraph a lot, though I can see a few edits that I’d make in structure and wording if I ever do write the story, but first that story has to reveal itself to me.

Is this a blog post which I see before me?

Okay, well…good day, everyone.

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving, at least those of you who live in America, and who celebrate the holiday.  As for everyone else, I hope you just had a happy day, and a happy week.

But you can stop all that now.  Being happy, I mean.  Too much happiness is probably not good for you.  Certainly, many religious people seem to think that way, as do those who are against even fundamentally safe, minor, occasional, recreational use of drugs or alcohol.  Self-abasement and penitence seem to be the preferred modes of thinking of many a human, but they don’t want to pursue those modes all by themselves; they want to take you along with them.  For your own good, supposedly.

Anyway, as anyone who’s been paying attention will have noticed, I took the week off from writing my blog last week, because Thursday—the day I usually write it—was Thanksgiving, and my only day off work that week.  I have, however, continued to write “Unanimity,” and I’ve been working on the re-editing and fine-tuning of “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” in preparation for its release as an e-book*.  Both endeavors are proceeding well, and I feel good about them.  It’s always nice when you’re re-editing a story that you come back to after a while, (e.g. IFOWONCO), and even though you find things that need improving, you like the story a lot.  I’m lucky that way; I almost always enjoy my stories when I reread them.  Thus, I know that, even if everyone else in the world hates my writing completely, it has at least one satisfied reader.

I haven’t written anything for Iterations of Zero in a while…or, rather, I haven’t posted anything there for a while.  I have written some things—three or four essays to post there eventually—but I just haven’t felt that they’re ready to put before the public.  I’m probably overthinking it a little.  When I write the posts for this blog, I just sit down and go for it, and whatever comes out comes out, and that’s that.  Not to say that I don’t have some general subject in mind before I start—I almost always do.  But I don’t overthink it.  I just let fly on the keyboard, and let the metaphors fall where they may.  I’m especially lucky in that I’m able to express myself better and more spontaneously in writing than I am in conversation with others.

Actually, that may not seem to be so lucky, depending on your point of view.  In fact, it can be quite unpleasant at times.  I’m often terribly uncomfortable when interacting with others in person, especially in purely social situations.  But I do find it easy and fast to write, and once I get started, I tend to keep going for a while.

There are probably those who lament this last fact, but I don’t care about them.  Indeed, I laugh at their agony.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaa!

(See?)

On the days when I don’t feel like writing—especially on my fiction—I just play a little trick with myself (I might have written about this before):  I tell myself, “Okay, well, I’m tired.  So today, I’ll just write a page.  Just get to the end of the first paragraph that finishes on the page after the one on which I’m starting.  If I get there, then that’s fine, I can call it good.”  This is easy enough for me to talk myself into because, as I’ve said before, I tend to write very quickly.  Just to give you an idea of how quickly, I wrote everything up to this point on this post (first draft, obviously) in just over fifteen minutes.  So, I’m almost always prepared to accept the undertaking of writing a single page, even if I’m mildly ill.  And what almost always happens is that I end up writing far more than just that one page.  Yesterday, for instance, I wrote five pages after committing to write one, and I almost always write at least three, as long as I’m not interrupted.

As I say, I’m very lucky, but I would be quite surprised if this trick didn’t work for a lot of writers who have trouble getting themselves started.  If committing to a page is too daunting, how about just a paragraph?  Or even a sentence?  Don’t be too picky about that sentence or paragraph—you’re going to edit it later, anyway, so even if it feels like (as Stephen King put it) you’re just shoveling shit sitting down, that’s okay.  It’s a bit like vomiting:  Just get it out, and you’ll find that you feel better.

Speaking of writing versus speaking (remember when I did that a few paragraphs back?):  I’m still vacillating about the video, and even the audio, postings on this and my other blog, as well as on YouTube.  Maybe I should take a similar approach to them as I take to writing:  Just record myself saying something, anything, and get it down on tape (metaphorically).  I can give myself an out on video for the moment; that requires much more effort and preparation, and I sound better than I look, anyway.  But I can do an audio recording at almost any moment, using the voice recorder on my smartphone, and with excellent quality.

Or maybe I should just say screw it, and commit just to writing an article or post or whatever every week on Iterations of Zero, recognizing that writing is my strong suit.  I can approach it as I do my fiction writing, and my writing for this blog:  Sit down, write something, at least a paragraph, and see what comes out.  Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.

We’ll see what happens.  I don’t know much more about those specifics than you all do.  “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Meanwhile, “Unanimity,” as I said, is speeding along.  I’m presently creating some very sweet, positive, wonderful, and romantic moments in the lives of the main characters.  This will make things even more poignant when it all goes to shit.  Which it will.

I repeat:  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaa!

In closing, I hereby withdraw my earlier recommendation that you curtail your happiness.  By all means, be as happy as you can, but remember:  Happiness is best judged not by the highest point on your life’s graph, but by the area under the curve.  Play the long game.

TTFN


*“Prometheus and Chiron” and “Hole for a Heart” will follow.

Depression Can Be Powerful

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

-Kris Kristofferson

 

There’s a curious phenomenon I’ve sometimes noticed, wherein I find myself not exactly welcoming bouts of depression, but feeling as if they are normal for me—more truly me than other states of being.  There’s a dark familiarity that’s difficult to explain, along with a sense that my mind is in some ways clearer, saner, when depressed than it is at other times.  Certainly, my concentration often improves when I’m depressed.  I’m less easily distracted, whether by good things or bad things; it’s a curious phenomenon. Continue reading

After the Storm

Okay, well, here I am back again, after a hiatus last week, for which I apologize.  I suppose that I can’t be held entirely to blame for that break—after all, the cause was hurricane Irma, which did a fair amount of damage to south Florida, and kept the power out where I live for over a week.  My neighborhood is fairly old, and there are quite a few trees, and the power lines have seen better days.  This is not a great combination when a category 5 hurricane comes through, though thankfully we did not get hit by the main force of the beast, as we thought was going to happen.

I had intended to do my fiction writing even when the power was out—I had my clipboard and a stack of notebook paper all ready—but the sheer annoyance and mugginess of south Florida without either regular lights or air conditioning just made the whole thing too unpleasant.  Actually, it was fairly unpleasant to do most things, even to sleep.  Late summer in Florida is no joke.  I guess if I’d known that I was going to be stuck in those conditions on an ongoing basis, I would have just buckled down, bitten the bullet, and mixed my metaphors—goodness knows I’ve been through worse—but given that I knew it was quite temporary, I used the occurrence as an excuse to be mildly lazy.

However, as of Monday morning, I am back at the word processor, and have been writing steadily on “Unanimity.”  It’s moving along well.  I’ve been writing what I hope is one of the most intense and dark scenes in the book, and it’s becoming longer than I thought it would be.  I fear it will need some serious pruning before I’m done with it.  Oh, well, I’ve had a lot of practice lately with cutting up unnecessary and troublesome branches of one kind or another.

I’ve been working toward the making of my planned video log, which will be named the same as my other blog on WordPress (Iterations of Zero), though I don’t know if I’ll officially name the channel or anything.  I expect that, before I come out with my next post here, I’ll have created the inaugural video for Iterations of Zero, and that’s kind of exciting.  It may be uncharitable of me to inflict my face on the viewing world, but since no one is forced to watch, I say caveat viewor.  Hopefully I’ll be able to make it worth your pain.  It’ll be worth it to me, anyway.

In the meantime, things are returning to normal, or what passes for normal in south Florida (those of you who have read Dave Barry or Carl Hiaasen, or their ilk, will know that Florida is a bizarre place indeed…especially if you realize that they do not need to embellish most of what they write).  The trains are running again, the weather is muggy and hot, the drivers are almost uniformly terrible (apparently something about the local climate interferes particularly with the function of turn signals) and greenery takes root on anything that sits still for longer than five minutes.

I’m going to cut it a bit short this week (I’m sure you’re all devastated); we went back into work last Thursday, as soon as the power came back at the office, and have been working straight every day since, to try to make up for the days that we missed while the hurricane raged and ranted.  So, I’m a little tired from that, and just from trudging my way through the hurricane and its aftermath.

Hopefully my next posting here will also contain a link to my latest (and earliest) video on YouTube, and you can let me know what you think.  In the meantime…

TTFN!

The Other Side of the Chasm

Okay, so today’s post is going to be rather free-form, just going over a bit of housekeeping, as it were, and touching on several subjects.  I haven’t forgotten my stated intention to start running down the list of my favorite villains, and why they are my favorites, but I just haven’t gotten around to doing it because of the stress of recent events, both good and bad:  the death of my mother, the publication of “The Chasm and the Collision,” and a walloping middle ear infection in my right ear (with a perforated eardrum).  So, my personal energy has been slightly drained and diverted.  I’ve also gone back to my day job, after having gone up north for a week, so there’s been backed-up work there with which to deal.

Despite all that, I have managed to initiate my secondary blog, called “Iterations of Zero,” and which you can look at here.  If you want to know what the title of the blog means, I explain it in the blog’s initial post.  Subsequently, I’ve been moving my political, philosophical, and science-related posts from this blog to that one, to leave this main page as my author/personal blog, and the other one to be my “commentary” blog.  I’d love it if anyone here who liked my posts would follow that blog as well, but it’s by no means obligatory.

Iterations of Zero has a darker look to it that this blog has, but I’m thinking of doing something a little different with the look of this one as well.  I’m not going to change the overall layout (I think), but I am probably going to change the color scheme.  I also might change the header photo.  The one I have now is one of the stock photos offered by WordPress, and though it is very nice, it’s not personal.  So, I may work up something new for it in the relatively near future.  Keep your eyes peeled.

“The Chasm and the Collision” is well published now, if you will, and you can, of course, purchase the paperback version here, and the E-book version here.  If you do buy it and read it, please give an Amazon rating and review.  It’s very helpful for an author to get this kind of feedback, and also for potential purchasers to see what other people thought about the book.  You can, of course, also give me feedback in the comments section on this blog, and would be delighted to interact with you, but that’s more narrowly useful than feedback on Amazon.

In the meantime, I’m making pleasing progress on “Unanimity,” my current novel.  In the roughly ten writing days since I started working on it again, I’ve written over 19,000 words, which adds up to a nice daily count, especially considering that I do most of my writing on the train to work and then a bit of it in the office before the work day starts.  As I’ve said before, I’m very lucky in being able to write quickly.  In fact, I’ve written all that you’ve read above on this very post in just thirty seconds!

Kidding.

Anyway, as I say, “Unanimity” is coming along nicely, and is truly beginning its spiraling descent into the darker parts of the story (though that descent began early on, it’s going to get much worse before the other end of the tunnel is reached, and not everyone is going to get out alive).  I’m happy that it’s going quickly, because I have so many stories to write, and I tend to come up with many more as time goes by.  I’ve taken to using the “notebook” feature on my smart phone to write down little tidbits of story notions as they occur to me, and which may later turn into short stories or even full novels.  For instance, I was on the bus coming home from Ohio and saw what looked like a scarecrow underneath a big old pecan tree (or some similar tree), right near a convenience store by an exit on the freeway.  It occurred to me that this was a peculiar place for a scarecrow—certainly no crops were planted nearby—and it was quite a bit too early to be a Halloween decoration.  Well, what if such a thing were not really, physically there, at all, or if it were not simply a stuffed facsimile of a person, but something stranger, darker?  I have no idea where such a story might go; I’d want to be careful not to repeat too many of the motifs that are found in “Prometheus and Chiron,” for instance, and that could easily be done with such an image.  But it was an interesting thought, and good to write it down for later.  I’ve long been doing that for points I want to discuss in what is now Iterations of Zero—so many posts are waiting to be written there—and it’s working nicely, so it’s good to keep track of little story ideas and triggers.

The nice thing about writing these is, when I read notes that I’ve written, my brain tends to do a good job of bringing me right back into the state of mind I was in when I wrote them.  Perhaps this is true of most people, I don’t know, but it works nicely for me, so I intend to make the most of it.

Okay, well, this has been a meandering and unfocused post, which is what I intended to write, so that’s fine, but I think I’ve covered most of what I wanted to cover for this week.  I’ll leave any unaddressed items for future posts, and just once again invite you to get yourself a copy of “The Chasm and the Collision,” or one of my other books.  I can certainly recommend them without reservation, by which I mean I’m proud of them and enjoy rereading them myself.  If you like them, tell two friends.  And then they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on, and so on…

TTFN

A Message to the Makers of “Don’t Give Up” Memes

What follows is a brief message for the creators of Hallmark-knockoff style memes that say things like, “No matter how hard it gets, it’s okay for you to feel pain, to feel tired, to feel discouraged, to feel heartbroken…but don’t you give up!”  (These are often inscribed on a floral background, or some more abstract pattern that resembles a pseudo-Gothic wrought-iron fence.)

My message to those people is:  Fuck you.

I don’t know who these people think they are or what they think they’re accomplishing.  Do they really believe they’re helping people who suffer from depression, or who are going through other, similar disturbances or trials?  If so, then they really need to examine their own mental functions, because I fear they must suffer from a prolonged thyroid deficiency, or some other neuro-endocrine disorder.  Or perhaps they’re infected with the same inanity that makes so many think that by saying, “I’ll pray for you,” or “I’ll keep you in my prayers,” or worse, such idiocy as, “Pray for Manchester,” they are accomplishing anything in the world other than bolstering their own egos.  Continue reading