Beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d in process of the seasons have I blogged

Hello, good morning, and welcome to yet another Thursday edition of my weekly blog post.  It’s the second day of Autumn and the 1st official “full” day thereof, though I find such notions as specifying partial days of seasons to be a bit silly*, since the seasons themselves are semi-arbitrary human inventions about which outer nature cares nothing whatsoever.

Yesterday was also the official date of the birthdays of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings fame.  I’m not sure how the Shire Reckoning calendar lines up with the current Gregorian calendar, though.  It may be no more accurate to say that their birthdays are on our September 22nd than it is to say that Isaac Newton was born on our December 25th**.  Still, I always give a mental tip of the hat to those two on that day of the year.  I’m now almost 2 years older than they each were when adventure suddenly imposed itself upon their lives, and I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed.

Of course, the argument could be made that “adventures***” have imposed themselves upon me starting many years earlier, but if so, mine have been more like Frodo’s in their consequences for my health and outlook, but with vastly fewer positive results, for myself or for the world.

As those of you who follow my blog closely will have noted, I’ve been posting teasers of the stories that are to appear in Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities at a now slightly increasing rate.  I’ll continue this until I’ve teased all the stories.  The plan is to post a teaser of Solitaire tomorrow—probably my darkest ever story to date—then the remaining two either over the weekend or into next week.  The collection will probably be ready for publication by sometime mid-week, but I’ll likely wait to publish it on October 1st or thereabouts.  I am, after all, an October person, not too genetically dissimilar from the denizens of Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, though I use a Cabinet rather than a carnival.  And you won’t necessarily become lost forever if you open my cabinet of curiosities, but I can make no guarantees; it is not a safe space.

Not that anything is.

I’ve begun working on the back-cover/blurb for the collection, as well as on the cover design, but I’ve gotten closer to what I like with the former than with the latter.  I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising, since I am mainly a writer by artistic temperament, then only secondarily (or tertiarily) a visual artist (music may come higher or lower than graphics in my abilities ratios…possibly it varies from time to time).  I have a nice concept for what I want to say, and I even recorded a quick audio of my general ideas for it last night so that I wouldn’t lose track.

As for other matters, there’s not really that much to say.  Obviously, I’ve left Iterations of Zero fallow for a bit, since I’m focused on The Cabinet, but I may return to it soon hereafter.  I’ve had an inquiry about whether I’m going to do more of my “audio blogs” so there appears to be at least one person who likes them.  I have some things I want to say and/or write about the concept of “blame” and how counter-productive and frankly destructive I think it almost always is, and how nice it would be if humans in general could grow up and shake off their playground mentality****.  But I’ll get to that later.

I’ll only say for now that these are some of the aspects of the human race (as general tendencies) that make those of us who consider ourselves not truly human to so consider ourselves.  When the Captcha asks me to check the box “I am not a robot” I want another option.  Surely, it’s just vicious bigotry to force people to declare that they aren’t robots.  What’s wrong with being a robot?  I want to be able to check a box that reads “I may be a robot, or I may be an alien, or I may be a paranormal entity, or I may be some combination of these, but I definitely don’t identify as human”.  Oh well.  One day we will be recognized for the beauty of what we are, and the bigotry and speciesism of the human disgrace will be completely eradicated, possibly along with the species itself.

You may say I’m a dreamer…

Okay, my tongue was slightly in my cheek during some minor parts of that last tangent, but only slightly and not in every word.  See if you can figure out which bits are jokes and which are deadly serious.  They are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

With that, I think I’ll call it good for this blog post.  And though I may not have the tenderest of feelings toward the human race overall, you readers of my blog are—obviously—a truly exceptional lot, so I’m not being dishonest when I say that I hope you stay (or become) as healthy and as safe and as happy as you can conspire to be.

TTFN

autumn woods adjusted


*I recognize that, from an astronomical point of view, there is an actual, specific moment at which the sun is directly “over” the equator, and so there is a physical moment of equinox, and if you wish you can say that moment is the exact time when one season quantum tunnels into another.  It’s interesting in its own right, but for practical purposes, yesterday was simply the first day of Autumn (or of Spring in the southern hemisphere).

**He was born on December 25th of the Julian calendar, which preceded the Gregorian and did not adequately account for the “overshoot” of the correction for leap years, and so over time about once a century there was a day too much and the calendar crept ahead of itself.  Thus, if memory serves (I may have this backwards), Newton was born earlier in December based on our calendar, and on the position of the Earth in its orbit relative to the distant stars.  And, of course, we have no way to know what the comparable orbital position would be for September 22nd, Shire Reckoning.

***As Bilbo described them:  “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!  Make you late for dinner!”

****The bad part of it, anyway—I’m actually quite fond of the playful parts, I’m just dismayed and depressed over the teasing, name-calling, bullying, fight-mongering, cliquishness/tribalism, etc. that seem to be what almost all humans keep from their childhoods, while they let most of the good stuff fall away.

They are the blogs, the arts, the academes, that show, contain and nourish all the world.

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another edition of my weekly blog post, this being a Thursday—the third Thursday in September of 2021 if I’m not mistaken.

I’ve finished editing In the Shade and am now in the process of laying out and finalizing Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  Those of you who follow this blog “automatically” will likely have seen that I’ve posted “teasers” of the two stories from that collection that have not been published before, specifically House Guest and In the Shade.  If you were intrigued by those teasers and think you might like to read the rest of the stories, then you will soon have that opportunity, probably within the next week or two.

I’m doing a last read-through of all the stories in the collection, mainly looking for any missed typos that snuck past in the published versions.  It happens from time to time, in my stories as well as books from major publishing houses, and everywhere in between.  In fact, with the possible exception of Mark Red, I think I generally have a lower rate of such things than most big publishers, at least based on recent experience.  This is surprising.  When growing up, I read a daunting amount, and reread the books I liked far more often than pretty much anyone else I’ve ever known*.  During that time, I don’t remember coming upon very many such minor, typographical errors, of which I find a surprising number nowadays.  This may reflect the declining state of the publishing industry, but on the other hand, it may simply be a matter of focus and attention.  Nowadays, since I write and layout and edit stories all the time, I’m more keyed in to notice such errors.  When I was in my teens and twenties, I just wasn’t looking for such things as much.

I may continue to post teasers of some of the other stories in The Cabinet, just to try to keep generating interest.  With those stories at least, if you become impatient, you’ll be able to get the Kindle editions for ninety-nine cents—or for no extra charge if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited (I believe that I enrolled them all in that program).

Actually, since I have you here, I’d like to ask a question.  As I’m laying out Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities (aka The Cabinet for the purposes of brevity), I see two options, and I’d like to know what you all think you might prefer.  For a collection of stories, would you rather have a six inch by nine inch “trade paperback” book that’s about 360-ish pages long, or a five by eight, more ordinary size paperback, that’s about 500 pages long?  I can do it either way, and the font size and order wouldn’t change**.

I’m seriously asking, so I’d love to get your feedback***, on this and on anything else upon which you might wish to comment.  I suspect, though I don’t promise, that I’ll be posting teasers of the various stories on a similar schedule to the previous two, i.e., Friday and Tuesday.  I’d be happy to see/read your comments on those or on any of my other posts, for that matter.

And, of course, if you buy and read my books, a rating and review on Amazon would be tremendously useful, please.  It’s hard to overemphasize this point.

It’s interesting to see that, given the fact that my word/page count for The Cabinet isn’t as bad as I thought it might be, it’s just possible that I could have fit Outlaw’s Mind into it and not made it too bulky.  But I think it would have been a bit much, at least, and it certainly would have delayed its release.  Also, I’m glad to release Outlaw’s Mind as a stand-alone novel, and one of comparatively manageable length, since I had originally seen it as a short story.  After that, I still mean to take a bit of a break or a detour from the mainly horror writing I’ve been doing for the past few years and go back to more general sci-fi/fantasy/adventure stuff.  There will probably always be at least some horror elements to most of my stories; that seems just to be the way I’m built.  But it won’t be the main thrust.  Short stories, of course, are another matter.

Look forward to more teasers and to the upcoming collection, and then to Outlaw’s Mind, which probably won’t be out this year.  The Cabinet will be a little early for Halloween, but it might just make it for Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday.  We shall see.

TTFN

lovely study (2)


*Christopher Lee had me beat on total number of times reading The Lord of the Rings, but he started before I was born.  I maintained a faster pace of reading it in my first ten years after encountering it, during which I read it more than twenty times.  Also, I didn’t really know Christopher Lee…but then again, did anybody?

**It’s not in the smallish print I had to use for Unanimity Book 1 and Book 2, because even with all the stories thrown together, it’s only about a third as many words as that whole book.  I don’t know whether Unanimity will ever be considered my best book, though there are aspects of it that I think represent me at my “best”, but it is certainly by far my longest…at least for now.

***A note regarding this requested feedback.  You should know, if you get notifications of my blog posts on, for instance, Facebook or LinkedIn, etc., that I don’t go to those sites myself very often, whereas I get notified quickly of comments posted here on my WordPress-based blog.  So, if you want to give me feedback that I’m likely to see in a short period, you should leave a comment here on the main site rather than in the associated Facebook post, for instance.

Bell, book and candle shall not drive me back, when gold and silver becks me to blog on

Hello, good morning, and all that jazz.  It’s Thursday again, and so it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  Sound drums and trumpets; farewell sour annoy!  For here, I hope, begins our lasting joy.  And so on.

It’s the second Thursday of the month, but there will be no new entry for “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains,” a loss which I’ve clearly not gotten over, a loss for which I shall wreak a bloody and terrible vengeance upon those responsible!  And since, as far as I can tell, I am the only one responsible for it, I shall be taking my vengeance upon me, it would seem.  This is nothing new.

I’m all but finished with the last run-through of In the Shade.  In fact, barring the unforeseen, it should be complete by tomorrow morning.  I spoke last week of considering just publishing the story here, on this blog, probably serially, since it’s a bit long for a single post*.  I think I will instead publish it in my collection of short stories, Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, as planned.  I haven’t yet truly begun working on the cover design for the collection.  The basic concept is clear in my head, but the execution will probably involve some fiddling**, as it almost always does.  There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but since I haven’t really gotten started on it yet, that may mean the book itself won’t come out for a bit.

I also need to decide on the order of the book, which I’m sure I mentioned before.  It’s long since been determined that House Guest will be the first story, and In the Shade will be the final one, but the specific order of the others is a bit up in the air.  I do plan to put Solitaire somewhere in the middle, surrounded immediately by comparatively light fare, since that story is extremely dark.

I don’t know where I’m going to find this “comparatively light” fare, though.

Returning to the notion of sharing stories on this blog:  it has occurred to me that it might be nice to share at least some “teasers” of some of my work here, possibly starting quite soon.  I wouldn’t be doing this on Thursdays, since I want to reserve this day every week for my random walk-in blog posts, as usual.  But maybe on Saturdays, or on Mondays, or something like that, I could post a section from one of my stories, perhaps starting with a bit of House Guest, and then a teaser of the opening of In the Shade.  This would, hopefully, whet my readers’ appetites, and perhaps encourage them to seek out and purchase one or more of my books.  From there, I might post teasers from older works, or perhaps even eventually serialize full stories.

Though it would, in a sense, be giving away some of my work for free, it might actually work out the other way.  I neither have advertisers on this blog, nor do I have a Patreon account, either for this or for IoZ or for my YouTube channel or whatnot.  So, as part of sharing such work, I would suggest that if people like the stories and want to support me, they can just buy a copy of the book  The e-book versions are quite cheap, and I keep most of that payment, such as it is, which cannot be said for the paperback versions (though I love those, personally, for what are probably obvious reasons to any fellow book lovers).

I guess in a pinch, if people want to support me, they can even listen to my original songs, on Spotify, or YouTube Music, or iTunes, or whatnot.  I make a tiny amount of money every time someone plays one of my songs on any of those venues, though nothing like the amount I get if someone buys even an e-book short story.  Of course, playing a song takes less time than reading a story.  A long song is maybe six minutes or so, whereas a long “short story” can be sixty pages…and a long novel might be so big it has to be broken into two or more volumes.

I would very much like to be able to make at least something of a living through my writing, whether through my books and short stories or through this blog, or both, but it’s not why I do any of it.  Staying alive has not usually been my dearest priority, even if I sometimes use the song as my ringtone***.

What I would like much more is for people to read my stories (and to a lesser extent listen to my songs), and to give me feedback, if possible, especially when they like them.  In most matters, I’m indifferent to compliments; I usually don’t agree with them, being by far my own most dedicated and spiteful critic.  But my stories are another matter.  I would really like to know if and when my stories touch people (even inappropriately), when readers like the plots or the characters or any other things about them.  I like my own stories, quite a lot, but I’m a peculiar person, so maybe no one else does or ever will.  If they do, I would very much like to hear from them.

With that in mind, I think I will post a teaser first of House Guest, possibly tomorrow or Saturday, so be on the lookout.  From then, I may continue the process as I described above, especially if it looks like it’s reasonably well-received.  Then, I may go on to serialize some of my earlier works just to try to get more people to read them.  Or who knows, maybe I’ll serialize something like The Dark Fairy and the Desperado here on my website.  I conceived of that as a manga originally, so doing it as a serial on my blog, in parallel with other writings that would be available for purchase, might be interesting.  I’ll think about it.  I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

TTFN

tardis library


*That’s quite an understatement.

**I suppose that’s the way Nero would have liked to carry out executions.

***An idea I picked up from Jim Moriarty (of Sherlock fame), whose attitude toward the song’s title subject matter is much like mine.

Bear with my weakness. My old blog is troubled.

Okay, well…hello and good morning and all that usual stuff.  It’s Thursday morning, the second day of September in 2021, and of course it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I don’t have much new to report, frankly.  I wrote an impromptu blog post on Iterations of Zero yesterday morning*, the title of which is a truncated version of the title of a Stephen King story that I thought was very moving.  Writing the post was pretty much a waste of time, which I guessed it would be as I wrote it.  I don’t know if anyone has read it; it certainly hasn’t received any “likes” as of the time of this writing, let alone responses in the comments or whatever.

I can’t blame people for that.  It’s quite a depressing blog post, though I’m reasonably proud of some of the writing in it, including my tongue-in-cheek statement, “There is true equity only in death.”  Of course, it’s not surprising—to me at least—that it’s a depressing blog post, since I was depressed when I wrote it, and my life has been dominated more and more by my already chronic depression in recent weeks to months.

Earlier this week, I did something I’ve often been known to do when particularly angry and depressed, which was to tear up and throw away a lot of drawings and the like, and other meaningful-turned-meaningless belongings at work in the office in the morning, while straightening out my area and generally getting rid of things that make it a personal space.  When I’m feeling very depressed and stressed, and angry both outwardly and inwardly, I have to harm myself in some figurative or literal way—often both—and so I did.

I’m honestly feeling very pointless and discouraged, which I guess would come across quite clearly to any imaginary person who reads my IoZ post, but apparently not to anyone in my “real” life, which I guess isn’t so surprising, if there even is such a person.  It’s not as though I have any non-imaginary friends or anything.

This is no one’s fault but mine.  I think you can all tell that I’m not a pleasant person to be around for any length of time; this has been a universal review/rating that I’ve received from all manner of people.  God knows that I don’t like to be around me**, so I can hardly blame anyone else.  Having a conversation with another person, other than about some specific and useful, work-oriented matter, feels to me like I’m committing a minor, or not-so-minor, crime.

I’ve been toying with the notion of just posting House Guest here on my blog, and then once it’s done posting In the Shade here as well, rather than going to all the trouble of making a collection of my stories and publishing it for no one to read.  I’d have to post In the Shade serially, I guess, since it’s too long a story to stand as one blog post, but I think House Guest could tolerate standing alone.  After that, I don’t know, maybe just take down the shingle and stop.  It’s hard even to contemplate finishing Outlaw’s Mind and publishing it, let alone going on to write anything else.

Speaking of which, I’m not sure what else to write here for this week’s blog post.  I wish I had something useful to say, but given the incredible degree of idiocy out there, I’m not sure that any useful message would be received, even if I could find something useful to write, which seems unlikely.  Were humans always this stupid, and the existence of the internet and the web and social media have merely let that come to light and flourish?  Or have those electronic entities, which should have allowed people overall to become smarter, instead caused stupidity to grow and spread like the most dreadful and malignant of tumors?  I feared it might be the case, right from the beginning.  Maybe I’m being unkind*** or biased, or am suffering from a delusional evaluation of human nature and society—to say nothing of the nature of the universe itself—that’s colored by my longstanding and worsening mood disorder?  How would I know?

Anyway, that’s about it for now.  If any of you have any suggestions or reactions regarding my potential change of plans for publishing my stories here on the blog, let me know.  It’s just a random thought in my head, like everything else.  I don’t know what I’ll do, or where.  I frankly don’t know how I’ll find the will to keep moving through today and on into tomorrow…except that not to do my usual stuff would raise more inconvenience than just to keep doing it, no matter how utterly without reward it feels.  It seems at least as hard to stop moving as to keep moving; there’s no course of action (or inaction) that promises anything other than continuing weariness.  Call me a nazgûl I guess.  But I’m a little less scary, maybe, and I don’t work for Sauron****.  And I don’t wear a ring.  Not anymore.

TTFN

Writer-at-work


*Instead of working on editing In the Shade, which is what I “should” have been doing.

**So many times, in literature, fiction, and religious speech, one hears of the sin or failing or danger of “self-love”.  That’s never made much visceral sense to me.  Do people really love themselves?  I mean, the way they might love their children, say—in an accepting and supportive, but disciplining way that wants what’s best for the person?  I grasp the drive to survive, annoying as it can be, and to reproduce, and to seek momentary pleasure and all that.  But I’m skeptical of the notion of self-love.  How could any human, knowing all the many flaws and faults of the species, and knowing himself or herself better than anyone else does and better than they know anyone else, ever really love herself or himself?  It’s so comical that it’s tragic.  Or perhaps it’s so tragic that it’s hilarious.

***Who, me?

****Or any other dark entity of any kind.  I have a job, so to speak, but that’s a mutual exchange to mutual benefit, not any kind of master/servant thing.

O, let my books be then the eloquence and dumb presages of my speaking blog.

Good morning everyone!  It’s Thursday, and of course, that means that it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.  This is the first post of Autumn this year (in the northern hemisphere, anyway).  It is also, I’m extremely pleased to note, the first blog post after the release of Book 2 of Unanimity, both in paperback and e-book form!

This very much feels like the end of an era for me—in a good way.  The process of writing and then editing and then publishing Unanimity has been a monumental undertaking, at least from my own small and narrow point of view.  I had no idea when I started the story that it would end up so large.  It certainly didn’t seem likely to become such a long tale.  The concept seemed fairly simple, at first glance…and at second, third, fourth, fifth, and further superficial glances.  But developing the occurrences and progression of the story ended up being quite a process, partly because—I think—it’s a specific plot notion that hasn’t been done before, at least not in quite the same way.  Perhaps I’m flattering myself.

In any case, I’m pleased with the result, and I’m pleased with the fact that it’s complete.  I don’t yet have my copy of the paperback in hand—it’s on its way—but I’m excited to have and hold it.  I was miffed when the problem of its length first made me need to split the book into two volumes, but on the other hand, Tolkien had to do that too, so I’m in good company.  At least it gave me the opportunity to design two slightly different covers, representing the increasing extent and penetration of Charley Banks’s power and “infestation” throughout the course of the story.

I’m afraid the official release date of Unanimity Book 2 on Amazon is September 21, 2020 instead of September 22, which was what I wanted…but in order for it to be available by September 22, I had to put it into the process on the 21st, because there’s always a delay…and indeed, I received the notification that it was, in fact, ready only on the morning of the 22nd.  So, it appeared to the public, as it were, on the first day of Autumn (in the north) and on Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday, which was what I wanted.

In the meantime, I decided to release—officially—my song Catechism, which is now available for your listening pleasure on Amazon, on Spotify, on YouTube/YouTube Music, and on oodles of other venues, most of which I’ve never used.  I posted a version of it on YouTube previously, and I think on one or both of my blogs, but this is the “official” version, from each play of which I get a modicum of royalties, so of course I encourage you to put it on your own favorite song playlists!  It has new, official “cover art” with which I’m reasonably happy, and which you can see below.  The song opens with some sound effects made by recording and then splitting, overlapping, stretching, and partly reversing various noises from the office in which I work.  I could dream up convincing explanations for how that all fits into the theme of the song, but honestly, I really just did it for fun.

As I announced I would last week (I think), I’ve continued to work on The Vagabond, rereading and editing as I go, improving the language and whatnot, and enjoying the story quite a bit.  Weirdly enough, it also takes place in a university, though the university in this case is plainly and rather blatantly an alternate-universe version of my own undergrad alma mater, which is not the case in Unanimity.  I suppose it makes sense that one writes about situations drawn from memorable times in one’s life, and of course, I started writing The Vagabond originally when I was in university.  You don’t have to have attended college to enjoy it, though.  Even more so than with Unanimity, the college and the town in The Vagabond are just the setting for a battle between universal good and evil.  It’s a much more straightforward story, with far less moral ambiguousness and ambivalence than is found in Unanimity.

I was so young and innocent then.

Really, though, it is a fun story, I think—but then, I would, wouldn’t I—and I’m looking forward to finishing its tweaking and editing and fixing up.  Then, at last, I’ll be able to return to and complete the story of poor Timothy Outlaw, which has also become longer than I would have imagined when I first came up with the story idea.  I think I sometimes get carried away, but whataya gonna do?  You can’t count on anyone else to write the stories you want the way you want them written, so if you want to read them—and to let other people read them—you’ve got to write them yourself, in your own way.  Ditto with music, I suppose, though with that it’s much more—for me—just enjoying the amazement of the fact that I can do it at all, rather like a dog that learns to read, write, and speak.  It’s not that he does it well, it’s that he does it that matters.  Which is not to say that I don’t think my songs are worth a listen—I think they are—but I would never claim to be as good a composer/songwriter/performer/producer as I am an author.

Opinions surely vary on all such things.  Heck, I think Hemingway is (slightly) overrated, though my father thought he was fantastic.  And although A Christmas Carol is a brilliant story, I couldn’t actually force my way though Oliver Twist despite my best efforts and the fact that I was familiar with the story.  This from someone who’s read The Silmarillion about a dozen times.  So, everything succumbs to taste at some level.

Except Shakespeare.  If you think you’re unfamiliar with Shakespeare, and you live in an English-speaking culture, you’re simply incorrect.  A significant fraction of the metaphors and sayings and expressions we still use on a regular basis come from Shakespeare, and a remarkable number of our words are first found in his works*.  His influence is something even the Beatles could only dream of (though perhaps, over the course of the next four centuries, they will achieve a comparable degree of long-lasting influence).

With that, as usual, I’ve written more than I expected to write again.  For me, at least, writing is easier than talking to people, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all me.  All things in the universe follow the principle of least action (or so it seems), but sometimes “least action” can be a misleading term.  I think of it instead as the vector addition of all the various “forces” acting on us at any given moment, in some vast phase space of such forces, with a potentially limitless number of dimensions and parameters.  For all that, it’s still just head to tail addition of vectors, and we go where the net “force” pushes us.  Which, right now, in my case, is to make me finish this blog post.

TTFN

catechism cover


*This doesn’t mean he invented them; he may just have been the earliest one to use such words in a form that was recorded and endured.  After all, as David Mitchell has pointed out, Shakespeare had to have a pretty good idea that his audience would know what he was talking about, so he couldn’t have just made stuff up willy-nilly.

Write till your ink be dry, and with your tears moist it again, and frame some feeling blog that may discover such integrity.

Good morning, everyone!  It’s Thursday, and it’s thus time once again for my weekly blog post.

I don’t have all that much that’s new to report, at least with respect to writing.  I’ve been continuing to work steadily on Outlaw’s Mind, producing about a thousand plus words per weekday, which means a little over four or five thousand words a week.  After completing my daily “quota” of new writing, I’ve been going over to Vagabond, or The Vagabond (I haven’t decided which title to choose, and I’d welcome reader input on the question).

It’s been quite a treat to reencounter scenes that I remember only when I come to them in the book.  For instance, there’s a particularly vivid nightmare sequence, set in a supernaturally nasty, gigantic underground sewer system, that surprised me with recognition when I arrived at it during my reading/editing this week.  I was particularly pleased to discover that it had been written rather well, at least from my own biased point of view.

In a different way, in can be just as enjoyable to find places where my original writing was a bit awkward, and to realize that I can fix those places handily now.  It shows me that—again, from my own point of view, at least—I’ve become a better writer over time.

It’s required an effort of will to keep from looking at and trying to complete the fragment I have of House Guest, a short story that helped win me a national award when I was a teenager, because I don’t want to distract myself from Outlaw’s Mind.  The latter is proceeding well, as I said, but it’s definitely growing to be a short novel, and I’m going to have to make a rather nail-biting decision—both practically and artistically—whether I want to include it in Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities or to let it stand alone.  It’s growth is, I think, a good thing, because I’ve found that there’s more to the life and character of young Timothy Outlaw than I would have expected from the simple seed that produced the story.  This was one of those little notions that popped into my head, and which I “jotted” down in my cell phone note-taking app for later.

It’s amazing that two short sentences can turn into a much longer story than expected, but then again, the story has become about much more than those two sentences ever implied.  I suppose that’s not terribly surprising.  One could summarize even the entire Harry Potter series in a few sentences, after all, if one were so inclined, but the story is so much more and so much deeper than such sentences could lead one to imagine.

I can’t lay claim to anything like J. K. Rowling’s ability, but I seem to be able to write as much as she does, keeping all other things such as needing to keep a “day job” in consideration.  It would certainly be wonderful if as many people in the world read and enjoyed my books as do hers, to say nothing of making a similar amount of money*.

Hopefully, if the internet and its progeny survive unabated into the future, that means that my stories will always be out there, somewhere—even if only as archaeological relics.  Once published, the stories have a life of their own, separate from their author, and not subject to his persistence; this may be a very durable form of life, as information independent of its particular substrate.

And with that peculiar reflection, I think I’ll call it good for today.  I really would love to have your input on the Vagabond title, and on “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains,” and on anything else that strikes you as worthy of comment.  Of course, I want to remind you that Unanimity Book 2 will be published on September 22, 2020, and that it’s already available for pre-order in e-book form.  And Unanimity Book 1, is already available.  You should have time to read it between now and when Book 2 comes out, if you’re a reasonably fast reader.

Do your best to stay safe, sane, and healthy out there.

TTFN

Unanimity Book 2 simple Cover Project


*Though that’s not terribly important to me.  I’m not saying I would turn it down or wouldn’t be delighted to have such an income, but obviously, it’s not for money that I write, nor for prestige, nor for any simple, short-term, tangible purpose.  I write because I love to make up stories and get them down in print and publish them so that other people can read them if they want, because I have always loved to read other people’s stories; it’s been one of the greatest and most reliable joys of my life.  But no matter how few or many people read my stories, I think I’ll always be my own number one fan, in the sense of enjoying reading and rereading my own books.  I’m not quite as bad a Number One Fan as Annie Wilkes, but I do have my yandere moments toward myself, if that makes any sense.

Come, and take choice of all my library, And so beguile thy sorrow.

Hello and good morning, everyone.  It’s Thursday again, and that means it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.  It’s also a new month (September, 2020 AD or CE), and though that doesn’t have much bearing on the blog—now that I’ve long since discontinued “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains”—it’s at least an indicator that time, as it tends to do, has continued to pass, or at least that our experience of it has continued, trapped as we are in the grip of the second law of thermodynamics.

My writing has continued well this week, but I’m falling prey to something I expected, but which I nevertheless find challenging:  now that I have the file of Vagabond—or as I am thinking of retitling it, The Vagabond—I’m torn between the process of working on Outlaw’s Mind (formerly Safety Valve) and rewriting/editing The Vagabond.  It’s particularly tempting to do the latter because, after so many years, finally to have the book thanks to the beneficence and munificence of my ex-wife, it’s hard to be patient about publishing it.  Though the risks of it being lost again are surely low, it’s still hard not to feel a combination of anxiety and excitement that pull me toward it.

I’m enjoying rereading it as I edit, since it’s been a very long time since I’ve had the chance.  I’m making changes as I go along—I think my skills as an author have improved significantly since I first wrote it, particularly in style and word choice.  Also, the original suffered from the erratic nature of my writing at the time, as I think I discussed last week.  It’s great fun meeting the characters again after so long; this is doubly so because at least a few of them are based on some of my university friends.  It’s also enjoyable to return to a time when no one was on the internet because there was no such thing (or if there was, it was restricted to very narrow uses relative to today).

I have no intention of trying to bring the story into the “modern” world.  It remains set in 1989, roughly, and will continue to remain there.

So, to balance my urges, I’ve been trying to make sure that I write about a thousand new words on Outlaw’s Mind daily before turning to The Vagabond, but it’s difficult to enforce that, and it makes the new writing more of a chore than it might be otherwise.  I’m going slightly against my principle of finishing one thing before moving on to another, a hard lesson I learned largely from Vagabond itself.  But this is a unique situation, so I’m giving myself at least a little bit of leeway.  I feel that it would almost be a sign of ingratitude to my ex-wife not to proceed quickly with Vagabond.  She always liked the story; she’s the only person other than I who has read it (as far as I know), and she always encouraged my writing.  She even used to say that it was one of the reasons she fell for me*, and that’s a statement worthy of some repayment in speedy effort.

Still, I already put off Outlaw’s Mind during the editing and rewriting of Unanimity, and I don’t want to leave it fallow yet again.  It’s a conundrum, but I suppose it’s not a bad one in which to be mired as an author; I’ve always had more ideas than I’ve ever had time to bring to fruition.  There are worse things

Another concern with which I’m dealing is how quickly Outlaw’s Mind is growing.  It’s already more than twice as long as, for instance, Of Mice and Men, and it’s about half as long as Vagabond so far.  I’m not yet near the end, either.  Even writing only a thousand words a day (which for me is fairly modest) it grows quickly.  I worry about it becoming too big to fit into Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which I may have to turn into just a collection of short stories that have already been published individually.  (I plan to also include in it the author’s notes for the various stories, which appear on this blog, probably modified slightly, which will give it some extra meat).  I really did hope to put this original work in it as well, but I worry about making the final product too big and running into the problem I had with Unanimity**.  I guess I’ll have to see how things turn out.

I’ve had occasion to wonder whether my writing grows so much because I’m able to type so quickly when I write new fiction.  I haven’t clocked myself, but if I get going, it’s not too hard to put out two to three thousand words in a few hours of a morning, and that leads thing to expand rapidly.  The question is, do I write too much.  Might I be more parsimonious if I wrote in a more restrictive form, say by producing my original drafts long hand?  I did that for Mark Red, The Chasm and the Collision, and for the “short” story Paradox City—I had no other choice, being a guest of the Florida DOC at the time.  None of those are particularly short works, of course…Paradox City is practically a novella in its own right, though it is officially a short story, according to me.

With all that in mind, I bought myself a new clipboard and about six-hundred sheets of college ruled notebook paper, and I may try doing the rest of Outlaw’s Mind using that…or I may just try using that for my next new work.  Or I may quickly give up on it, haunted by the irrevocable loss of Ends of the Maelstrom and by the illegibility of my cursive.  I’m not going to make a firm commitment now, but it is something I’m weighing.

In the meantime, I hope you’re having a great month, and I hope at least some of you are reading Unanimity Book 1 and are looking forward to Unanimity Book2 and to The Vagabond and to Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  No matter what you read, be well, please!

TTFN

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*My writing in general, not Vagabond specifically, since we were married well before it was finished.

**Book 1 is available here, and the e-book version of book 2 is available for pre-order here.  It and the paperback will be out on September 22, to celebrate Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthdays.

But if the while I blog on thee, dear friend, All losses are restored, and sorrows end.

Good morning all.  This being Thursday, I figured I’d write another of my weekly blog posts.  What a shock, right?

As I stated last blog post, I’ve started back on my latest work, a novella/short novel* with the working title Safety Valve.  I’ve come up with a better final title for it, which is Outlaw’s Mind.  The main character is named Timothy Outlaw, and it really is about things that go on in his mind, and the troubles he has in dealing with a rather unusual emotional issue…one that may not be exactly what it seems.

I think I’ve built up a lot of writing pressure during the time in which I’ve been editing Unanimity, because once I got going, for the first two days I wrote over three thousand words a day on the new story, and since then I’ve been steady at about two thousand.  Not bad for me age.  One thing I’ll give myself, I do write quickly.  That’s partly why works intended as novellas become short novels, and novels become half a million words long.  At least there’s a lot of meat in my stories, and hopefully not too much gristle.

Speaking of such things, just to let you know, Unanimity Book 2 is already available for pre-order in Kindle form, if you’re interested (though thanks to the way my publishing works, it doesn’t seem that pre-ordering can be arranged for the paperback version).  I’ll include a link and a picture of the cover below.

And, of course, Unanimity Book 1 is readily available for purchase in both paperback and e-book editions, so please look into it.  As I think I’ve said before, it’s a supernatural thriller/horror novel in the form of a pseudo-science-fiction story set in 2018.  It’s sort of along the lines of Carrie or The Firestarter in the sense that the things that happen in the book are arguably based in a scientific process or explanation, but what happens really is something inexplicable and mysterious.  But there are no monsters under the beds…the monster is in people’s heads.  Which is, let’s face it, where most real monsters dwell.

I’ve begun putting together the order for my eventual collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and though I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fit all the stories as well as Outlaw’s Mind into one volume, it looks like it’s going to be fine.  There’s also the barest possibility that I’ll be able to include a surprise addition that I had despaired over ever being able to share with the world.

You see, my ex-wife contacted me this weekend and told me that, in cleaning out some old things, she’d found one of our old Macs, and on it, she had found several of my stories, including the short story House Guest, which I wrote in high school, and which helped me win a National Council of Teachers of English Award**.  She’s already sent the disc with the files to a service that translates such things into newer formats and gave them my email address to contact me when it’s ready.  It was an awfully nice thing for her to do, but that doesn’t surprise me.  I did marry her, after all, and I’ve never regretted that.

An even greater source of joyous surprise was that, among the material she found was my horror novel Vagabond, which I wrote over the course of college and medical school***.  I currently have only fragments of that novel in my possession; I had occasionally thought of reconstructing the missing parts, but it’s just too daunting, and I have new things on which to work.  But once I get the original, I can go through it, edit it, fix it up, and finally publish it!  It’s set in the late eighties, since that’s when I started college, and it takes place at a university—which would mean that I’d have two horror novels set in universities coming out in quick succession.  There are worse things, though, and the stories are of quite different character.  Vagabond is clearly and definitely a supernatural horror story, and its villain is one of my favorite creations.

Speaking of favorite creations and villains, this revelation and gift from my ex-wife does lead me to feel a bit wistful about an earlier “completed” work, a novel I wrote in high school called Ends of the Maelstrom.  This was a literal sci-fi fantasy combo, with magic and high tech, parallel universes, cosmic level dangers and a battle to the finish between two men of complex character who had previously been the best of friends.  It has impact on the metaverse of all my subsequent works, at least in my head, though that’s unlikely ever to be obvious.

It’s also unlikely that that novel will ever be rescued, since it was hand-written, single-spaced, both sides, on thin-ruled notebook paper, overflowing almost always into the margins as I thought of things to add.  It was in a green, battered old school-type folder, and it was lost along with essentially all my earthly belongings in 2011.  Odds are it’s rotting in a landfill somewhere, but on the bare chance that someone got it as part of an auction of my old belongings, you’ll recognize it from the description above.  Look for the “hero”, Naldor, along with a gaggle of Earth teens…whose names I’m unsure of, ironically, because they were based on people I knew, and I mix up the real people with the characters.  And look for the villain (no scare quotes needed here), Qaltich Talberod, called The Talberod by those who serve him, which is everyone with any sense of self preservation.  If anyone out there recognizes it, please get in contact with me.  I’ll know it when I see it, obviously.  It might even be worth something some year.  I’d vouch for its authenticity and give it back to you once I’d finished rewriting it.

This, however, is a fantasy, less likely to happen than the events of the story itself.  If I ever want anyone else to read Ends of the Maelstrom, I’m just going to have to rewrite it.  Please don’t hold your breath for that, though.  Had we but world enough, and time, of course I would eventually reconstruct it.  But as Andrew Marvell knew only too well, the phase space of our personal possibilities is finite and bounded.

On that happy note, I’ll finish up for this week.  I do invite you to check out Unanimity Book 1, I think it’s good.  I am biased of course.  Also, if you were to get a copy of the paperback and want to have it signed, I’m sure we could arrange for you to ship it to me and for me to ship it back.  I’ll personalize it if you like; I love sharing my stories with people in a personal way.

TTFN

Unanimity Book 2 simple Cover Project


*Short for me, anyway.

**There was an essay portion as well, but as this was handwritten, it’s hard to imagine the judges even being able to read it, let alone think it was any good.  My handwriting is deplorable.

***Back then I bought into the foolish behavior of only writing when inspired to do so—and there was always so much else to do.  This led to things taking a terribly long time, and it also led to me constantly getting sidetracked by new ideas, so I rarely completed works, or did so slowly.  Don’t fall into that trap!  Just set a schedule, like a job, and write whether you feel like it or not, on that schedule…and finish what you started—at least most of the time—before going on to something new.  Here endeth the lesson.


And just as a little added note:  WordPress’s new “block editor” sucks.  It was fine the way it was.  I’m tempted to find another place to host my blog, honestly, this is crap.  As Marullus said, “You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!”

Taunt him with the licence of ink: if thou blog’st him some thrice, it shall not be amiss

Hello and good morning!  It’s Thursday again, and thus time for another weekly blog post.  I took the train today*, since my vehicle is in the process of some repairs/part replacements.  It’s nothing serious, and I rather enjoy riding the train from time to time, though when doing so I get sick more often than when I don’t.  This is surely not surprising, and in the era of Covid-19 it points out why they encourage people not to use public transportation if they don’t have to.  Unfortunately, many people—weirdly enough—still have to work to make a living and don’t have easily viable alternatives.  At the very least, taking the train makes me nostalgic for the writing of Prometheus and Chiron, which was inspired by my then-daily wait for the train.

Speaking of stories and inspiration:  as most of you who follow my blog probably already know, Unanimity Book 1 is now available in both paperback and Kindle editions.  I posted my usual blog entry/link source here on my blog last Saturday, and of course I shared the info on my (limited) social media.  I’m excited!

I gave several (signed) copies to selected people at work.  It felt slightly hubristic to do so, as it always does, but in a certain sense, this is the most personal gift that I could possibly give anyone.  I certainly don’t make them pay for it, for what that’s worth**.  I also certainly couldn’t possibly sit near them—or anyone—while they read it.  I’d be constantly worried about them suddenly tossing it aside with words to the effect of, “this is terrible,” but with more profanity.

I decided to go with Book 1 and Book 2 instead of developing subtitles of any kind for the two volumes, obviously.  Writing about and thinking about what titles to use last week led me to conclude that I could not come up with any pairs of titles that worked ideally together without clashing and which didn’t distract from the main title.  I’m satisfied with that, but wasn’t satisfied with the others, so it’s now “Book 1” and “Book2”, the latter of which is planned for release on September 22.

Moving on to other titles with which I’m not satisfied, I finally restarted work on my novella Safety Valve this week.  Monday morning, Tuesday morning, and most of Wednesday morning were taken up with rereading (and minor editing) of the fifty thousand words I’d already written of it (oy, I write a lot), but at the end of yesterday morning, I was able to produce one new page!  It’s been over a year, I think, since I’ve written any new words of fiction, thanks to editing Unanimity, and it was wonderful to be able to get some new bits of a tale down.  I’m happy to say that I really like the story, and particularly its main character, but I cannot abide the working title.  This was one of the stories whose raw idea popped into my head randomly and I jotted it down in my smartphone notes app, returning to it later.  That has turned into what will be quite a longish novella.

Of course, as I’ve said before, I plan to use that novella as a portion—first story or last story, most likely—of a collection of otherwise previously published works, including all my short stories that have been released in Kindle format only, so that anyone who wants a paperback story collection*** can buy it, and will still be able to get something new into the bargain.

However…given the recent trouble I had with the length of Unanimity, I’m worried that the combination might end up being too big.  If the novella even approaches a hundred thousand words, then with the other stories added, I fear the thing might grow to be comparable in size to the un-split text of Unanimity, and if that’s the case, I don’t know what I’m going to do.  Maybe I’ll have to release just a collection of the short stories and then release the final product of Safety Valve as a stand-alone novella or shorter novel, available for paperback as well as e-book.

I’ll keep you posted about this, obviously.  I’d very much love to be able to release it in time for Halloween, but I’m not sure how doable that will be.  I suppose, if I do see that I’m going to need to leave the new novella out, there’s no reason I couldn’t get the collection together in time, barring the unforeseen.

In any case, I am not unsatisfied with the proposed title for my collection…in fact I like it very much.  It will be called Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  Be on the lookout for it!

And that, I think, is plenty of news for today.  I do encourage you to peruse Unanimity Book 1 and if interested, buy it in paperback or Kindle version.  If anyone wants a copy signed by the author…well, I’m not sure how we would arrange that, but I’m sure it could be done, and I’d be happy to do my part.  While you read, and while you do whatever else you do in your lives, please stay safe and healthy.

TTFN

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*All duly masked and social distanced, have no fear…they only allow use of one seat per row.  They’ve reduced the train schedule significantly, but have suspended fares for months now, which is quite impressive.

**$15.99 plus any applicable tax, I suppose.

***I know that I have always loved such collections.

Come, and take choice of all my library, and so beguile thy sorrow, till the heavens reveal the blogg’d contriver of this deed

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday.  Welcome, also, to August.

Something has happened to me that’s happened to greater and finer authors than I:  my new book, Unanimity, was too big/long to be published in the format I had chosen.  This was initially spotted by an automated system but was confirmed by human double-checking.  It was frustrating, of course, but not entirely unexpected.

Though I had been more or less emotionally prepared for such an eventuality, I still wasn’t sure what I should do.  I could reduce the type size, and that might be effective, but I feared it would make at least the print version of the book difficult for many people to read.  I could just make the book bigger, but again, I thought that might make it less likely that people would read the print version.  A big volume is simply less wieldy than a smaller one.

I certainly wasn’t going to do what Stephen King was originally forced to do with The Stand and cut out large chunks of the novel.  I’ve just spent months and months, possibly a year, pruning the story as much as I could while still leaving it in the form in which I conceived it.  It is one of my rare—or not so rare—points of egotism, but I like my stories the way I write them.  If their form is unsatisfactory to some, that’s fine.  There are plenty of popular and high-quality books that I find mind-numbing, and some books that I love that others might consider crap.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Some people love mushrooms and eggplant, while I find them literally nauseating.  I don’t hold this against those who like them; in fact, I rather envy them the pleasure that’s available to them that’s not available to me.  Ditto for shrimp and lobster.

Culinary considerations aside, I needed to decide how I was going to proceed.  The only other person in the office at the time (I had stayed late to start working on publication), my friend Bill*, listened to my tale of woe (of inconvenience, really…I took the setback with good humor, knowing only too well that I’ve written a great book in the quasi-archaic literal sense if not the literary sense).  He then said words along the lines of, “Well, didn’t your buddy have to break his book up into parts to have it published because it was so long?”

I didn’t know to which buddy he was referring at first.  I couldn’t think of anyone I knew who’d been in a similar situation.  So, he said, roughly, “You know, he wrote the…the books that they made into those movies.”  I gradually caught on that he was referring to J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings.  I’d never thought of Tolkien as “my buddy” before, but it was quite a pleasing thought.  And Bill was right, of course.  LotR was originally written as one long book (in six parts, also called books by Tolkien), but was much too long to be published in one ordinary volume.  I don’t know for sure, but I think I’ve heard that George R. R. Martin had similar issues with Game of Thrones**.

Not completely convinced, despite the comparison to Tolkien, I also texted my sister, presenting several options, including the one Bill had suggested.  She texted back that she wasn’t sure, but that her knee-jerk was to split it into two books.

When two people whose opinions I respect came to the same conclusion rapidly and rather strongly, all while reminding me of the history of my single favorite work of literature, I became convinced.  Well, okay, it took a little more thinking about possibilities and new opportunities to cement the decision, but by morning I was there.

So, now, Unanimity is going to be published as two books—I like the irony—the first to be sometime within the next week-ish, and the second to be released on September 22nd.  Doing this gave me the opportunity to adjust the cover art between the two, making the second a more intense, or advanced, stage of the first, if you will.  This is quite pleasing, if rather frivolous.  Also, after I’d already decided what to do, I went to look at where the break in books would come, and I realized that book one would end on a heck of a cliffhanger.  Now that is almost enough to make a die-hard skeptic like me believe in fate.  Not quite, but I’m happy to embrace the feeling.

You see, I don’t tend to write in chapters.  Even The Chasm and the Collision, which has traditional, named chapters, was originally written as a continuous story.  There are scene breaks, of course, as I write, and some of these end up becoming chapter breaks, but I don’t write with that in mind.  Chapter division, in my writing, tends to come after the fact, as a way to break things up for the reader.  It’s just psychological, but I absolutely get it.  I also broke Unanimity up into four “parts”, because it is quite long, and would benefit from the additional psychological meta-commas provided.

This division is semi-arbitrary…but not completely so.  I choose my breaks with care; I just do it after the fact.  And when splitting the book into its parts, I had chosen to end the second part, the rough mid-point of the story, at a point of dramatic shock.  And that’s going to work beautifully for the two-book form.  I don’t quite have goosebumps about it, but it’s close.  If I had a long moustache, I’d twirl it.

Of course, being who I am, I can’t just call the books Unanimity Book One and Unanimity Book Two.  There must be titles, of sorts, for the individual volumes.  Unanimity will still be the overarching title, but I want to give something of the character of the story in the two halves.  This is slightly tricky.  I’m almost completely decided on calling Book One Contagion, because I like the metaphor of disease…not just because of the current pandemic, but also because it’s how some characters eventually think of the threat faced in the story.

I particularly like a cancer metaphor, with the notion of Charley Banks as a transformed cell, no longer healthy or appropriately restrained, capable of uncontrollable spreading and invasion of the previously “healthy” tissues of society.  In fact, I thought of titling the second book Metastasis, but when I bounced that title off a number of people, all of whom are reasonably well-educated and informed, I got a lot of blank stares.  So, I may go with Malignancy, which I think is a more universally known term, one nevertheless fraught with horror.

I actually have some little bit of uncertainty about Contagion as the first title, and not just because it’s been a book title before.  Contagion and Malignancy are slightly divergent metaphors, related to different disease processes.  Perhaps I’m worrying too much about that, but it does eat at me***.  I think maybe calling Book One Mutation or Transformation might be better and more consistent.  But “mutation” might be a misleading term, and “transformation”, though a technical term in oncology, can have entirely benign connotations.  Well, so can “mutation”, really.  Actually, so can “unanimity”, when you get right down to it.

Maybe I’m overthinking things.  Probably I’m overthinking things.  Maybe I should just go with Book One and Book Two.

In any case, before long I’ll pull the trigger and you’ll see the result.  For now, you can look forward to two books, each one easier to carry than the whole would have been.  I think you’ll like them.  I like them…and I’ve read Unanimity over and over and over and over and over and over and over.  I’m not bored yet.  Hopefully, that’s a good sign.

Do please let me know, when the time comes.

TTFN

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*Bill is a coworker with whom I get along partly because we have similar work ethics, and partly because of music.  He also plays guitar, actually quite a lot better than I do, and has been playing for a lot longer.  Some years ago, he recorded a personal CD of original songs, folk/rock style, just him singing along with acoustic guitar.  He let me borrow (and rip) the CD.  It’s very good.  For a muscular guy who could easily pass for a construction worker/foreman, and who once had a bit part as a body-guard for a bad guy in an episode of Miami Vice, he’s got a real artistic, moving, sentimental quality to his music.  I’ll try to get him to publish the CD, and if he does, I will give you all links to it.

**I think the broad title is A Song of Ice and Fire, but I’ve not read the books nor seen the show, so I could be wrong about this.

***Like a parasite.  I tried to find good terms related to the field of parasitology, but nothing I’ve found works.  It’s too bad, really.