Give to a gracious message an host of posts

ifowonco final

Hello and good day to you all.  I’m pleased to announce, as the picture above might lead you to believe, that “I for one welcome our new computer overlords” is now available for purchase on Amazon—for the price of a mere 99 cents.  If you wish to go to the Amazon page on which it is available, you need only click the picture above and you will be taken there.  It’s almost like magic, but it’s even better; it’s technology.

This story isn’t going to be available as a paperback in its current form (though it may in future appear as part of a collection).  It is rather long for a “short story,” being just shy of 23,000 words in length (about forty single-spaced pages), but it still just isn’t economically viable to sell as a physical book.  The costs of production would make the necessary asking price prohibitive for almost any sensible purchaser.  So, currently, if you want to read it (and I think that’s a reasonable wish), you’ll have to buy it for Kindle.  In case you didn’t know already, you can download the Kindle app for free, here, to read from any computer, tablet, or smartphone, so there’s nothing to prevent you from enjoying it.  The fact that you’re reading this online suggests that you are amenable to reading works that are presented in electronic format, so presumably you won’t be deterred from reading it by its e-book nature.  Although, interestingly, the main character of the story itself prefers to read books in hard copy format, though he happily reads articles and blogs online.

Oh, the irony.

I have withdrawn “Ifowonco” from its previous proud place here on the blog; I have also unpublished my two other short stories here, “Prometheus and Chiron” and “Hole for a Heart.”  They will both shortly become available on Kindle as well, but there may be a bit of a delay, as I don’t want to slow down the writing of “Unanimity” too much.  I’ve toyed with the idea of assigning two days a week just to the editing of these stories until they are ready for publication, and reserving the rest of the week for the writing of “Unanimity.”  I think I’ll try this out as a possible paradigm for balancing the writing of new material with the editing of completed projects in the future.  Both tasks are essential, but I have learned—from the long process of editing previous books, during which time I held off writing new ones—that I get a bit blue if I’m not writing new fiction.

Those of you who have been following this blog might have noticed that I recently put up four posts that are essentially the same as the descriptions in the “My Books” page about my books that are published and available on Amazon.  I’ll probably do the same for “Ifowonco,” and for subsequent stories as well, and the reason for this is simple:  When I share the location of these books to Twitter directly from Amazon, the tweets occur without any attached imagery, and that makes for a less interesting promotional tweet.  The same problem doesn’t occur on Facebook, but it has its own issues with how links are promoted, so using it requires its own specific strategies and tactics.

I’m still conflicted about posting author’s notes on Amazon in the reviews section, mainly because it would entail giving a “star rating” to the books, and I worry that that might be a bit misleading.  Still, maybe it would be useful as a way of just priming the pump for reviews.

I would like here officially and earnestly to request that any of you who have bought and/or read my books please give your feedback on Amazon.  It’s terribly useful, both for the author and for other potential buyers, to have that feedback on the site, so browsers can decide if the book sounds like the sort of thing they might like to read.  I know it can be a minor pain, and I don’t do it myself for absolutely every book that I buy, but I do try at least to rate the ones that I’ve bought once I have read them, even if I don’t leave a detailed review.  Even a single sentence could be terribly helpful to me, and to your fellow readers.

No matter what, I think I will write an author’s note for each of my published works—including “Ifowonco”—and post them here, for loyal readers to get feedback that might be interesting.  Of course, I’ve written about many of the stories here already, in various places, but to have a specific, dedicated author’s note might be useful, or interesting, or at least entertaining.

Speaking of being entertaining, I’m sorry if this post isn’t as fun or as funny as some of my others—though perhaps no one ever finds my posts funny, I don’t know—but as you are all aware, it’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I, like so many, am mentally fatigued.  It’s something of an irony that, even at a purportedly joyous time of the year, so many people are heavily stressed.  This is true even for those who have nearby family and friends, and an emotional support system, to share the joys and the burdens of the season with them.  It can be more poignant and difficult still for those of us who do not have those things, especially overlying the dark time of the year as it does, when people prone to mood disorders are more likely to have trouble with them.  Still, the days are now beginning to lengthen, and even if there is no tangible change yet in the duration of the light (we are near the minimum of the sine curve, and the rate of change of the function is almost as low as it gets), we at least have the benefit of being able to anticipate with hope the increasing sunshine to come.

Of course, we would never want there to be no darkness at all.  Darkness can be beautiful, even when it is frightening, even when it is terrible.  Too much of it, though, tends to wither the heart.

Again, please do give me feedback on the author’s note/review notion, if you have any feedback at all to give.  And even more, please do review or at least rate those works of mine which you might have purchased and/or read.  I would be truly grateful…for whatever that’s worth.

TTFN

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Once more unto the blog, dear friends, once more!

In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Dentarthurdent says that he never could get the hang of Thursdays.  I’m happy to say that I don’t seem to share his weakness; I find Thursday to be an excellent day, partly because it’s almost Friday, and also because it has become my default day for writing these posts for my main blog.

I’d like to begin with some updates, as well as some thoughts.  First, I promise you that, yes, I am working steadily on the editing of “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” and am very close to publishing it.  I have, though, as you may recall, intended to make writing new fiction—“Unanimity,” in this case—my top priority, relegating the editing process to the part of the day when the new stuff is done.

This may, unfortunately, not be a workable approach, especially once I finish “Unanimity.”  My hope had been that I’d be able to do the rewriting, editing, revising, etc., of “Unanimity,” even as writing my next work becomes and stays my new primary task.  Well, that’s not going to be good if the editing and rewriting of “Unanimity,” goes as slowly as does the process for “Ifowonco.”  It’s bad enough that it takes as long as it has for a story of twenty-three-thousand words.  When you’ve got a two-hundred-thousand-word novel (which should be the rough length of “Unanimity”) to deal with, this rate of editing and rewriting could take a decade.

That’s an exaggeration.  But it’s not much of one.

I think I will take a break between finishing “Unanimity” and rewriting it.  This was strong advice Stephen King gave in his excellent book “On Writing,” but I haven’t always followed it.  However, going back after some time to “Ifowonco”—having edited it initially before putting it here on the blog—I see that there are simple points of style and wording that I failed to fix because I was too close to the original writing of the story.  The necessary mental break that The King recommends, to allow a work to ripen, really does seem to be a legitimate phenomenon.  I might have been able to guess that would be so; the man does know a thing or two about writing, after all.  But I’m a stubborn soul, and it can take a great deal for me to convince myself of something I don’t want to see.  I am open to being convinced, though, and honestly seek those practices which help me do things better.  So, I’ll have to feel things out and adjust them as I go along; no doubt I’ll keep you informed about the process, whether you care or not.

Now, on to a mostly unrelated subject:

I’ve considered, on and off, the notion of writing—as a joke–reviews of my own works on Amazon.  I’ve bought copies of some of my books to give as gifts, and of course, when you buy something from Amazon, they often solicit your opinion on the book you’ve read (or even on the bird food you’ve purchased, it turns out).  Obviously, up to this point, I’ve ignored such requests for ratings, let alone for reviews, with respect to my own works.  But I have toyed with the notion—again, as a joke—of writing either a particularly glowing, or perhaps thoroughly devastating, review of one or more of my books, but then making it abundantly clear, at the conclusion of the review, that I was the author.  I think this might be pretty funny, but I have a peculiar sense of humor, so it’s possible that I would be the only one who would find it funny.  Thus, hitherto, I haven’t done it.

It recently occurred to me, though, that I could do something of the sort without it being a joke; instead I could make a review into a sort of “Author’s note,” for the story or stories in question.  Again, I’d need to make it abundantly clear, right from the start, that this was my own commentary, but I know that I have always loved reading author’s notes about how a story came about, or what the author might have been thinking that led them to write that book or story, or what they thought about the finished product.  That’s one of the reasons I like Stephen King’s short story collections—he often includes such “liner notes” to his stories, and I love them.  The King cautions people not to read the notes before they read the stories, but I think even that caution is unwarranted (unless the notes contain spoilers, of course).  Reading an author’s notes about his or her story gives a new dimension to the work, and a new perspective from which to see it—perhaps even a greater understanding of the author’s intent (if there is one to speak of), that might lead to a greater appreciation of the story.  I’m quite sure that this can backfire, and I don’t think it’s necessary—one might say that, if you need an author’s note to get the author’s intent, then the author didn’t do a very good job with the story—but it might be interesting.

I’d appreciate your feedback on this.  Would you find it irritating or offensive if an author—making it clear that he was the one writing—put up a comment on Amazon in the “reviews” section?  Or would you be interested in reading such side notes to a story, even before deciding whether or not to buy it?

I recognize one mildly concerning fact:  As part of reviewing a book, Amazon asks the reviewer to rate it, and so I would be giving a star-rating to my owns works.  I think, though, that I can be pretty fair in my ratings, and even brutal and ruthless, and can remain philosophically pure.  Obviously, I’m never going to rate anything that I wrote as one or two stars—and hopefully three would be a rarity—but I don’t think that constitutes a biased reviewing tendency; if I honestly thought a work merited only one or two stars, I’d like to think that I never would have published it.

Anyway, these are my thoughts (which are mine).  I would dearly like to read your feedback on the “review/commentary” notion, or on anything else you might care to discuss.  That’s why the comments option below is always open, as it is on Facebook and Twitter.  In the meantime, “Unanimity,” is proceeding well (obviously, if it’s going to be about 200,000 words by the time it’s done), and “Ifowonco,” will soon be released in Kindle edition…improved, I think, over the form originally published here (which I love, nevertheless).  After “Unanimity” is done, I’m probably going to write another short story, then a sort of fable called “Neko/Neneko,” and…well, and whither then, I cannot say.

TTFN!

Regarding short stories and e-books, as well as other things

Happy November, everybody.

As anyone who’s followed this blog recently knows, last week I released my latest short story, “Hole for a Heart,” just in time for Halloween.  I hope you enjoyed it, if you read it (it’s hard to imagine you enjoying it if you didn’t read it, but I suppose it takes all kinds in this world).

I apologize for the fact that I haven’t yet released the audio of my short story “Prometheus and Chiron.”  It’s simply very difficult to seize the moments to accomplish such feats, given that I work full time five or six days a week, with a nearly-two-hour commute in each direction, and of course continue writing every day as well.  This all tends to leave me rather fatigued, so on the weekends I mainly decompress (though in boring ways).  I do mean to release that audio, but it does need to be edited before I can do that, and I don’t want to rush it.  If you were to listen to it as it is now—even if I combined the separate tracks—you might be amused, but I don’t think that you’d particularly enjoy the story, and that’s obviously my hope for the process. Continue reading

A very brief update; the story is almost done.

Guten tag, Buenos días, Konnichiwa, and Nǐ hǎo.

I’m going to keep things short today, because I’m racing against the clock to finish my new short story, so I can have it edited and ready in time for Halloween—and hopefully at least a little bit before.  I’ve been roaring along on it, writing a good two thousand words a day (and yesterday I wrote 3000, possibly because my subconscious mind knew I’d need to get some extra work in to make up for this blog post, but more likely just because I’m getting near the end, and it’s getting exciting).

I expect to finish the story within the next few days.  Then begins the task of editing, which I’m going to have to do at breakneck speed to be able to put it up in time.  The good thing about doing this on the blog, though—as opposed to releasing it as part of a book—is that, even if it’s not quite as perfect as I would have wanted it to be when I do post it, I can always fix it more later.

Which reminds me of “Prometheus and Chiron.”  I haven’t yet finished the editing of the audio of that story—really, I haven’t even begun the process.  I’ve been too focused on this new one; the lamentable intrusion of having to make a living is another obstacle, as well.  But I will get there, and I may be able to finish it in time to release it too before Halloween.  That would be nice, and would also be appropriate, given the nature of the story.

And that, I think, is enough of an update for today.  I apologize if its brevity is disappointing to you.  If its brevity is pleasurable, then “You’re welcome.”  In any case, be well, enjoy reading, have fun in the lead-up to Halloween, and…

TTFN

Short stories, audio, and video, oh my!

The Headless Horseman

Konnichiwa, minna.

I’ve been making excellent progress on my new short story, tentatively titled “Hole for a Heart.”  It’s now about twenty-four pages long in draft form, and—I think—is well over halfway finished.  This is good, because I want to have it ready for you all to read in time for Halloween, since it is a horror story with a good, Halloweeney feel.  Fortunately, as I’ve said before, I tend to write quickly, if I just commit myself to the task.  I don’t know if that ends up meaning that I write well; it’s impossible for me to be objective about my own writing, so I can only say whether I like the story or not.  Thankfully, I almost always do. Continue reading

An update on short stories, audio, and video

Okay, well…let’s get to today’s business.

As I’ve written here previously, I’m currently taking a short break from working on “Unanimity,” because a horror story—one that had begun with only a vague notion and image—abruptly crystallized in my head, just in time for October, and I decided that I must write that story.  It’s now well underway, roughly twelve pages long, so far.  I’m quite excited about it, and hopefully some of you will be, as well, when it’s finished.  It will be ready well in time for Halloween (barring the unforeseen, which, curiously, rhymes with Halloween).

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten my intention to create an audio file of me reading some of my writing, as I did with the article, “The Idolatry of the American Flag.”  The audio on that has its issues—I think I was too close to the mic when I recorded it, so you can hear me smacking my lips and spitting and whatnot.  Who knows, maybe some people enjoy that, and were grateful to hear an audio file that had it.  If you’re such a person:  “You’re welcome.”

For everyone else, however, I am learning, practicing, and experimenting, and I expect steadily, if not swiftly, to improve.  In fact, I’ve already begun to read aloud my short story, “Prometheus and Chiron,” which, despite what you might think (reasonably enough), neither contains nor refers to either of those two mythological figures, and in fact, takes place in the modern world.  I know, I know, it’s a pretentious, misleading title.  That’s what I do.  Nay, that’s who I am.

In any case, the plan remains to use that story as my first fiction audio, but even as I started playing with it, I learned an interesting fact:  when one begins to read one’s works aloud, one encounters bits of prose that, while perfectly acceptable on the printed page, must be wrung off the tongue awkwardly when spoken.  This inspired me to go through the entire story doing some additional editing and rewriting, which is a rewarding experience in its own right.  I suspect that no writer is ever perfectly satisfied with all the details of any tale that he or she has written—or perhaps I’m atypical in this—and one of the great advantages of putting stories up on my blog is that I can still improve them after the fact.  Once they’re out in the wide world in books and other venues, it becomes both much more mortifying and much more laborious to fix them.

Anyway…

To make a long story slightly longer, the point is that I am going to do that recording of “Prometheus and Chiron,” and I will release it here, on this blog, rather than on Iterations of Zero, simply because the latter is not about fiction, whereas this site is.  I’m pretty excited about the process, and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to me read my own fiction.  I may be an egotist, but I don’t think that anyone else could do a better job than I can at that task—at least, not anyone else who wouldn’t cost a lot of money.  I’m pretty sure that Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen would blow me away, but they both spend most of their time reading that Shakespeare guy, just because he’s from the same country as they.  It’s blatant nationalistic favoritism, and I’m shocked that the Social Justice Police haven’t made any noises about such things.

Again:  anyway…

Once I make that recording and place it on this site, I beseech you to give me feedback, even if it’s just to say, “Hey, I listened to it,” or “Your voice sounds stupid.”  I would just love to hear from you in some form.

Even if you don’t get back to me, though, I intend next (probably) to read “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” and to upload that audio, though I think I would probably read that story in two parts.  I already know right where I’d split it.  But I may also do a bit of reading of the first draft of the beginning of “Unanimity,” sort of as a teaser, and that might come before the next short story.  We’ll have to see.

I’m also going to make more videos here and there, though those tend to require a bit more guts on my part, because I’m not all that pleased to see my mug on the screen.  They can be fun, however, and there are certain subjects that simply lend themselves to the format.  Rants, in general, are often worthy of the full, holistic experience of the ranter (or is that rantor?).

Speaking of ranting, I think that I’ve probably said enough about the few subjects I wanted to cover today.  The audio is coming, my new short story is going swimmingly, and my video projects loom, while behind them, unabated in its potency, lies “Unanimity.”  And I already know which book I mean to write after that, though I suppose I might change my mind.

Life may not always be good, but at least it’s interesting.

TTFN.

Should I post audio files of me reading parts of my books?

Listen-to-Your-Discontent1

Okay.  Here we all are again, another week has passed, and though another hurricane has not struck Florida, it did strike elsewhere, causing tremendous devastation before it swept along out into the Atlantic Ocean.  I’ve been a fairly busy boy, what with working six days a week, writing daily on my latest novel, putting up my first video (a rankly amateur production, but since I am a rank amateur, that’s no terrible sin), and posting a voice recording of an article I’d written quite a while ago, on my other blog.  The recording is perhaps not quite so amateurish as the video, if only because I’ve been recording myself reading for many years.  I recorded almost the entire book, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” onto cassette tape—or tapes, I should say…lots and lots of tapes—for my then-wife to listen to while she commuted.  I have also spent long periods of my life reading aloud to people (not just children) and have received uniformly positive reviews.  Of course, the people to whom I have read tended to fall asleep not long after I began reading, but I was assured that this was a good thing, and reflected well upon my skills.  Perhaps they were simply sparing my feelings. Continue reading