From camp to camp through the foul womb of night The hum of either blog post stilly sounds.

Hello, good day, and welcome to April 2018.

For those of you who might have missed my recent updates and posts:  within the last two weeks, I’ve posted the audio for my short story I for one welcome our new computer overlords on my blog here, and I subsequently made it into a video and posted it on YouTube.  The blog post linking to the video is here.

Don’t misunderstand the fact that the story is posted as a video.  Like many others before me, I simply took the audio and added a single video image—the cover of the e-book, floating in a black background—as the video portion of the file.  This is probably a relief for many; you don’t have to go through the misery of watching my ugly mug as I read the story aloud to you.  I posted the audio story in both places and forms to make it more easily accessible, so that more people who might want to listen will find it easy to do so.  It’s just over two hours long, but YouTube lets you start and stop videos in the middle, so you can pick up where you left off, which is convenient.  If you’re the sort of person who likes to listen to bedtime stories—and there are, pleasingly, many adults who do—then you can set the video playing on YouTube as you lie down in bed and listen to it as you make your way off into Slumberland.  I’m told, by relatively disinterested parties, that I do a decent job of reading people to sleep, and I’m also told (hopefully not just to spare my feelings) that this is a compliment.

In the meantime, I’ve returned whole-heartedly to writing Unanimity, and the first draft should/may be done sometime within the next month or two.  Then, of course, the hard and crucial work of rewriting/editing begins, so don’t get too excited.  Unanimity will not be available as beach reading this summer by any stretch of the imagination, though I do hope it will be out in time for you to consume it on a few dark, wintry evenings as 2018 draws to a close and 2019 begins.  It’s the sort of story best read alone in the dark.

Which brings up an interesting, tangential point:  I’ve noticed that, no matter what time of day I’m writing, even if the blinds are wide open on a sunny afternoon, I always feel like I’m working in the deep dark of a silent night, when everyone else is asleep.  I’m not sure why that is, but it’s consistent.  Many times, when I’ve drawn to the close of a stretch of writing and stood up, I’ve been utterly surprised to find that it’s daytime.  It’s probably something to do with the fact that writing is like hypnosis.  I wonder if other writers experience this.

In addition to writing about three pages a day on Unanimity, I’ve also started something I hadn’t really planned to do.  After completing the audio for Ifowonco, I had originally intended to take a break before doing audio for any of my other works, but I’m afraid that I couldn’t hold myself to that plan—or I didn’t want to and didn’t choose to, which amounts to the same thing—and have already almost completed the first “draft” of the audio for Prometheus and Chiron.  Of course, this is a shorter story than is Ifowonco, so it’s not that impressive that I’m already almost done with that draft.

I expect, given how interesting this process has been, and depending on how many people seem to listen, that I’ll ultimately do audio for all my short stories.  This will take a while, even though I don’t have all that many such stories to purvey.  But then, once that’s completed, assuming it continues, it raises another question that seems obvious to me:  will I do the audio for any of my novels?

One thing is quite clear, I would not be doing such audio in single, whole-book form.  I’m happy to listen to full audio books, especially during my commute, but the file size alone of a complete audio book, even a short one, is daunting.  I can’t even estimate what the comparable video size would be, even if the video portion were just a blank screen.  However, I haven’t ruled out the possibility of doing such audio one chapter at a time.  In fact, that might be kind of enjoyable.  I’m a bit nervous, of course, that doing so would expose me to too many imperfections in my prior works, but if I’m honest with myself, I recognize that collision with imperfection as a good thing.  In fact, that alone might be reason enough to do it, even if not a single person in the wide world listened.

Of course, I still haven’t even begun my planned series of blog posts about my favorite villains.  I haven’t forgotten (obviously), it’s just gotten pushed to the back burner because other plans have gripped me and seemed more urgent.  I may, though, start doing them on a monthly, or perhaps bi-weekly basis, once I’ve completed my series of author’s notes on the works I’ve written to date, and that series will soon be complete.

Well, that’s about all that I want to talk about today.  I wish you all the best, and hope that those in the northern hemisphere are at least looking forward to full springtime and the summer that follows.  Do be good to each other.

TTFN.

Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blog.

Well, it’s that day of the week again (Thursday), when I write yet another blog post for the entertainment, and occasionally the edification, of those who want to read it.  As I did two weeks ago, I’m breaking up my author’s notes, interspersing them with less specific ramblings on my current, past, and planned writings.  Next week, I’ll continue my author’s note series, with a note on Son of Man.  Once I’ve caught up with the notes up to and including my latest published story, I plan to start periodically posting sample first chapters of my published works, as teasers to get readers interested—or, alternatively, to let them know for certain that they are uninterested—in the books and stories from which they’ll be excerpted.  This should be fun, I think, and will certainly be less work for me on those weeks when I post them.

Right now—so to speak—I’m near the completion of preparing to publish Hole for a Heart.  We at Chronic Publications are still struggling over the final form of the cover design for the story, though the basic design is already confirmed.  As those of you who have read it when it was available here know, it’s a dark story (how atypical for me, right?), but I like it a lot.  Thankfully, that’s more or less universal about my stories, and I can’t stress enough how thankful I am for the fact.  Of course, there are flaws in all of my works, and my earlier ones are less polished than those that follow, but I still enjoy thinking about them, and occasionally rereading them.  This almost always leads me to find errors that were missed in the editing process, as well as stylistic issues that I would now have changed…hopefully to improve upon them.  In the long run, I may create second editions of some books, especially the earlier ones, but that process requires time, of which commodity I am in short supply.  As is often the case (and as I think I’ve mentioned before) I frequently find myself quoting Andrew Marvell to myself: “If we had world enough, and time…”

Alas!

As is the usual case lately, I’ve been having difficulty finding new fiction that grips me enough to read, and I find this terribly depressing (it’s not the fault of the books).  Likewise, because I lost essentially everything I owned seven years ago tomorrow, I don’t have physical copies of all the hundreds of books that I’ve read and reread over the course of my life hitherto—for entertainment, inspiration, and edification.  Over time, I’m gradually trying to re-accumulate at least some of them, mainly in Kindle format, because that way I can carry my library with me wherever I go.  But even with e-book versions, to reproduce my previous library would cost a great deal of money, so it’s a piecemeal process at best.  I’m also always looking for new recommendations, and the other day on his Facebook page, Stephen King gave one for a book called The Chalk Man, by C. J. Tudor.  I looked up the book on Amazon—it’s available on Kindle—and it does look good.  I also like the author’s name, not that such a thing is of great importance.  Still, I can’t help playing word games, and inevitably thought of the fact that if you combined the surnames of the recommendee and the recommender, you’d get the phrase “Tudor King.”

Such are the processes that take place in my mind.

In any case, that book will likely be the next fiction book I purchase, and I’ll try to remember to let you all know how it is, once I’ve read it.

I do find myself able to read nonfiction, and I also use Audible, listening to a great deal of nonfiction on my commute to and from work.  Lately, I’ve been in Steven Pinker mode, a fact at least partially triggered by the recent release of his newest book, Enlightenment Now.  I’m currently visually reading one of his earlier works, The Stuff of Thought, about language and the human mind, and listening to his second most recent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature.  Once that’s done, Enlightenment Now already awaits on my Audible app, and I look forward to it eagerly.

I couldn’t easily exaggerate Pinker’s value as a thinker and writer.  His books are not short, and neither are they diffuse.  He packs a great deal of information and ideas into them, but his writing style and style of thought are exceptional and engaging.  If you want a taste of the enthusiasm and fun he brings to his work, and engenders in those who come to it, watch the following video of his presentation on The Stuff of Thought at Google.  His discussion on the nature of swearing—with numerous examples explained and explored—is both hilarious and thought provoking.

 

As I think I’ve said before, reading about ideas and concepts, even rather difficult ones, isn’t merely a way for me to pass my time between reading and writing fiction.  Even if it didn’t have any other value (it does), such exploration strengthens the mind’s muscles and makes it more fit and able to perform every task to which one puts it, including the writing of fiction.  Also, I think it improves one’s skill at narrative.  When an author can take a dense and complex subject and write about it in prose that’s both gripping and clear, that style of writing is surely one from which a writer of fiction can learn many lessons.  Some stories are good enough that they can be carried along simply by the power of the plot, even if the prose is awkward, but when one can add to such stories a structure made of language both beautiful and elegant, well…that’s a spicy meatball!

I’m about a hundred years too young to consider comparing myself to someone like Pinker, or to other great writers of fiction and nonfiction alike, but that just means that I can learn a great deal from them in the meantime.  In fact, a writer/reader’s marginal rate of return is probably greatest long before he or she begins to be in the same league as the one who wrote what he or she is reading.  So, I can heartily recommend that writers read books by those who are far better writers than themselves, and as often as possible.

But, also, do read some of my books in between.  I’ll do my best to keep raising my standards.

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.

Author’s note for “The Chasm and the Collision”

CatC cover paperback

See on Amazon

The Chasm and the Collision is my currently published novel that has the most recent—and what might be thought inauspicious—origins.  I came up with the idea for it while I was an involuntary resident of Gun Club Road, a period lasting eight months.  It was a longer stretch of enforced restriction from most of the sources of intellectual stimulation to which I was used than I think I’ve experienced either before or since.

During that time, thanks to the help of my ex-wife, I was able to keep in contact with my children by calling them two days a week—though the calls were restricted to fifteen minutes at a time, and this was disheartening (though positively luxurious compared to my current interactions).  My children were around eleven and twelve at the time, my son just entering middle school and my daughter in the latter year or so of elementary school. Continue reading

Author’s note for “Paradox City”

Paradox City Cover2

“Paradox City” is the next story I wrote—or completed, anyway—after I finished the first draft of “Mark Red.”  I say “completed,” because I actually began writing “The Chasm and the Collision” months before I started “Mark Red,” in apparent contradiction to what I wrote in my previous author’s note.  But I had only written what were then the first and second chapters of “CatC,” which were eventually consolidated into one chapter, and had then put them aside.  I also didn’t have them with me while I was a guest of the Florida State Department of Corrections.  My mother, thankfully, had a printout of the chapters, and my intention was to complete that book once I had finished “Mark Red,” when I had worked enough of the rust from my writing gears.  However, the chapters hadn’t arrived yet by the time I finished “Mark Red.”  While I waited, I wanted to be productive and to maintain my daily early-morning writing habits, so I decided to write a short story. Continue reading

Author’s note for “Mark Red”

Mark Red Cover

What follows is my first “author’s note” about one of my works, and I’ve decided to begin with “Mark Red,” because it’s my first published book, and the first book I wrote as an adult since medical school.

Ideas for the stories I write tend to arrive in one of two ways.  Often, of course, I simply think of the idea of a story, develop it, often start or even complete writing it, and come up with the title later.  This was certainly the case with “The Chasm and the Collision” and “Son of Man,” as well as with the short stories “If the Spirit Moves You,” “Prometheus and Chiron,” “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,”* and “Hole for a Heart.”  However, at times I come up with a title first, or a particular phrase seems like it might make a good title, and I develop a story to go with the title.  Such is the case with “Paradox City” and “The Death Sentence,” and it is true in spades of “Mark Red.” Continue reading

What freezings have I felt, what blog posts seen!

Hello, ahoy-hoy, good day, and Happy New Year to all.

In my neck of the world, we’re currently suffering through a cold front/cyclone system that’s battering the eastern half of the United States with bitter cold and snow; even here in South Florida it got down to 45 degrees (Fahrenheit), last night, and it may get colder tonight.  That probably doesn’t seem very impressive to anyone who lives almost anywhere else in the US, or in most of Europe, but it’s the coldest it’s been here since I moved to this part of Florida.  Remember, I’m at roughly the same latitude as Egypt here, at least according to a map I saw online.*

As you know, last week we released “I for one welcome our new computer overlords” as a 99-cent short story for Kindle (and yes, that is how I’m capitalizing—or not capitalizing—the title).  I’m very happy with the way it turned out, so I’ve already begun arranging the other two short stories which had previously been posted on this blog.

This brings me to an interesting point:  As some of you know, I’d already recorded myself reading the short story “Prometheus and Chiron” aloud, for eventual placement on the blog, but simply hadn’t edited it yet for that purpose.  Well, now it turns out that my procrastination has served me well, since I’m in the process of doing further editing of the written version of that story.  I can honestly say that “Ifowonco” benefited greatly from that extensive re-editing process, and I think that “Prometheus and Chiron” will likewise benefit.  So, of course, I’m going to need to re-record it, and will then prepare that new version for release on the blog.  I’d like to say, or to imagine, that my subconscious was looking out for me in keeping me from releasing the audio before, but I can’t reasonably or honestly draw that conclusion.  I think it was mainly luck.

In any case, “Prometheus and Chiron” is the short story that will be released next for Kindle, and then on audio on this blog, but it’s going to be at least a little bit before it’s available (though we are already working on a cover design for it).

Speaking of audio—I did a bit of ex temp recording yesterday, speaking my thoughts, stream-of-consciousness style, on the dangers of so-called Regressive/Authoritarian Leftism, and especially on the dangers of virtue-signaling, dogmatism about ideological purity, and the in-fighting, denouncements, victimhood hierarchies, and the general level of shrieking hysteria one finds these days in segments of the left.  Quite apart from the impediment such idiocy presents to real, honest, classical-style liberalism—which has much in common with what might now be called libertarianism—and the contribution it made to the loss of the last election for the Democrats (and the possible loss of coming elections, for similar reasons), I have longer-term, possibly more disturbing worries, and I discussed them in brief…with myself, I guess.  Specifically, I pondered historical occasions when such intolerant and dogmatic leftists achieved power, and how those occasions gave rise to such historical horror shows as the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, the slaughter of the Czar’s family and the subsequent gulags and purges of Soviet Russia (and the conflicts between Stalin and Trotsky, which led, among other things, to Trotsky’s murder), and of course, the cultural revolution and the millions of deaths associated with Maoism.  I’m not sure how coherent my speech was on that subject—I just didn’t feel like writing about it at the time, even though writing is almost unfailingly more organized than free-associated speech—but I’m going to listen to it, and if it’s good enough, I’ll edit out the hems and haws, the misspeakings, the false starts, and so on, and release the audio on Iterations of Zero.  It’s an interesting experiment, in any case.

I do still intend to make use of audio in the future with some regularity, though I think I’m going to put the video notion on hold for the time being.  Maybe someday I’ll make videos out of my eventual audio files, attaching them to pretty, nature-oriented background scenes, with flowers, and birds, and bees, and sweet little children.  That way you can keep yourself alert by suppressing your urge to vomit, even as you listen to my riveting words spoken in the dulcet tones of my own angelic voice.

Believe me, it’s better than having to look at my face.

Of course, despite all these other projects, “Unanimity” is proceeding well.  Things have begun to fall apart for the main characters, as it were—though of course, they really began to do that near the beginning of the story, but no one realized it until now—and we are approaching various revelations, confrontations, acts of violence, and ultimately the conclusion.  I won’t quite go so far as to say that no one here gets out alive, but no one will get out unscathed.  The book should be released sometime this year, but I’m not sure exactly when, yet.  Much else is happening, currently, so my writing on “Unanimity” is going more slowly than it might otherwise.

Okay, well, that’s about it for announcements this week.  I haven’t yet begun writing my various “author’s notes,” nor have I decided whether I’ll put them on Amazon, but they will be forthcoming here.  Please stay tuned for them, and at the same time, stay warm everyone.

TTFN


*Upon subsequent investigation, I have confirmed that Florida is indeed roughly at the same latitude at Egypt.  In fact, Cairo is 2 degrees farther north than Orlando, Florida (30.04 degrees north, versus 28.53 degrees).  By comparison, the city in which I live is at 25.98 degrees north latitude, which is just south of Okinawa, and level with parts of Morocco, the UAE, and Oman, among other places.