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

Advertisements

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

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

Some great news, and some not as great news.

Okay, well, I’m not going to be writing all that much today, but I do want to make an important announcement, one to which I’ve been building up for some time:  “The Chasm and the Collision” is out!  Here are the two versions, paperback and Kindle, from which you can choose (or if you can’t decide, you can feel free to buy one of each.  Or more than one of each.  Why not?  ^_^  ).  Just click on the image and you’ll be brought to the Amazon page where the book is listed:

CatC cover paperback

Paperback

 

CatC cover kindle

Kindle

Unfortunately, on the very day it was released (two days ago, now), my mother’s health took a downward turn.  She was already in the hospital after having felt a bit weak and having some other, more specific troubles, and her situation had become more complicated than it was expected to become.  Certainly, it was more complicated than I had expected it to become.  Anyway, now I’m writing this while sitting in the Greyhound station in Knoxville while they clean the bus, having left from Fort Lauderdale (on a different bus) yesterday morning.  I have not spoken with my mother’s doctors directly, but my sister has, and my mother is apparently not expected to recover.  She is certainly very weak.

This makes the whole situation quite bittersweet.  My mother was very much looking forward to this book—at least she said so, and I believe her—so it’s unpleasantly ironic for it to have come out the very day her health took a downturn that may prevent her from reading it.

Incidentally, I apologize that the cover differs somewhat from paperback to Kindle.  For some reason, I was unable to reproduce the paperback’s cover for the Kindle version, so I had to do something else.  (Something Other, you might say.)  Looking back, I actually kind of like the forced, ad-hoc Kindle cover.  Maybe I’ll release a second edition of the paperback that has the same cover as the Kindle one.

Ugh, I feel like my writing is terrible right now.  Of course, that doesn’t stop it from coming out.  One thing I can say for me, I don’t have trouble just getting some words out onto paper (or computer, as the case may be).  But my brain is quite foggy.  Even though I’ve spent most of my time sleeping since leaving the south Florida area, no one could ever claim that sleeping on a bus is actually restful.  Well…I guess they could claim it, but they would be lying, and what on Earth could lead them to such a deception?

Perhaps they are on the payroll of the Greyhound company…

Okay, well, that’s really all I have to say, more or less.  I was hoping to be as excited as Hell (and those who know Hell know just how excitable it is) when I announced the release of CatC.  And I am excited, of course.  But it’s an excitement tempered by grim anticipation and worry.  Hopefully you readers can be excited on my behalf.  I would be deeply grateful.

Also, please call your mothers, if you still have that option.

TTFN

Sort of about my children, the figurative and the literal ones

For the past several weeks I’ve written about philosophy, politics, language, and general esoterica.  In other words, I’ve written posts intended to be thought-provoking, or at least to convey my thoughts on pet peeves of mine.  Now, I’m going to write something a little more personal.

I want to let all interested readers know that I’m close to being ready to publish “The Chasm and the Collision.”  In fact, I plan to release it in August.  The editing process is proceeding well, and it should be done before the end of this month.  I read somewhere that, unless you have begun to hate your book a little by the time you’re finished, then you haven’t edited enough.  I don’t know how much empirical data there is behind that pronouncement, but if it’s true, then I have come close to editing my book enough.  Not that I truly have begun to hate it; all my books are labors of love, my figurative children.  But it is a fact that rereading, rewriting, and editing become tedious after a while.

This is probably a good thing.  It’s difficult to look at one’s own work objectively, which can impair one’s ability to edit as ruthlessly as one ought.  So, it’s useful if rewriting and editing lead the author to become detached and harsher toward his or her work.

I’m also a fan of the advice Stephen King apparently received in response to one of his earliest submissions as a young writer:  your final draft should be your first draft minus 10%.  This can be a difficult goal to achieve, but trimming the fat is good, especially if you tend to write very quickly, as I do, and are verbose, as I am.  I don’t always achieve the target percentage, but it’s good to set the bar high.  If you aim for a lofty goal, then even if you don’t quite reach it, you’ll at least achieve something worthy of note, if not of song.

“The Chasm and the Collision,” (to which I often refer as “CatC”) is a particularly special book for me.  I started writing it in jail and finished writing it in prison (I’ll say it clearly:  I was bullied into a plea bargain, but I do not admit to being guilty of criminal activity, though I was certainly naïve).  It was dedicated from the start to my children, and was written with them in mind.  When I came up with it, my son had begun middle school, and my daughter was going to start it shortly.  Also, they—like their mother and me—were fans of the Harry Potter stories and similar fantastic adventures.  So, I wanted to write a fantasy adventure with middle-school students as the heroes.  I thought of the idea in Gun Club, only finally finishing it at FSP West, in Raiford, where I would awaken at lights-on (about 3:30 am), and write 3 to 4 pages every day.  It was on this schedule that I wrote “Mark Red,” “Paradox City,” “The Chasm and the Collision,” and started “Son of Man.”

Of course, those were all hand-written, and my handwriting is horrible.  It’s taken a long time to get everything together, to re-write, and to edit all these books and stories.  I wanted to get practice in on the others before turning to CatC.  On the advice of my father, I decided not to put so much as a single curse word in this book.  Those of you who have read my other works may realize how atypical this is.  I write my dialogue in as close to natural form as I can achieve, and novels rarely involve people in pleasant, sedate circumstances; they tend to involve massive stress.  People under stress—even young people—often use profanity.  Or maybe I’ve just always hung around the wrong crowd.

Anyway, CatC is reader friendly to all ages, in the sense of not having bad language.  It is dark at times, of course—that’s the nature of fantasy adventure.  But it’s optimistic nevertheless.  I like my characters, and I hope the readers do as well.  Above all, I hope my children will read the book and enjoy it.  I haven’t seen either of them since before I went to prison, and while I have spoken with and exchanged emails with my daughter, my son has been unwilling to communicate with me at all.  With any luck, this book—and my others—might make them one day feel proud of me again, maybe even more than they would have if I were still practicing medicine.  Who knows, they might even someday be willing to admit to others that they’re related to me.

Nothing else is very important.  I miss my children terribly; I have missed so much of their growing up, and though I’ve obeyed their own requests and not tried to disrupt their lives by forcing my way back into them using the legal system that I despise, my heart breaks daily.  I love writing, and I continue to work hard at it (even while still working full-time at my “day job”), and I want to make and do things that bring joy to others and help me feel good about myself.  But without my children, nothing in the universe is of any deep importance to me.

Without them, to be honest, I could readily and without regret say goodbye to it all.

TTFN