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

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

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

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

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

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

Other matter, other matters…

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

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

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

TTFN!

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

Hello, good day, and welcome to April 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TTFN.

A blog post told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Okay, well, today I’m going to take a brief break from my “Author’s Notes” series, to give you some updates and reflections upon what’s happening in my current writing.  I plan to return to the Author’s Notes next week, with a reflection on “The Chasm and the Collision.”  This one of my most emotion-laden works, and is, perhaps, the closest one to my heart.  At least, it’s the one that bears the greatest personal hope and motivation, though my darker stories are probably more reflective of some aspects of my personality.

Those of you who follow this blog will have noted that, earlier this week, I published “Prometheus and Chiron,” as an e-book for Kindle.  As with “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” I think it benefited greatly from my decision to re-edit it de novo.  This fact has convinced me more than ever of the wisdom of a suggestion Stephen King gives in his wonderful book “On Writing.”  He recommends that, once you have finished a story, you put it away for a while before beginning the editing/rewriting process.  That way, when you come back to it, you do so with a fresh point of view, and a more objective eye.

Both “Ifowonco” and “Prometheus and Chiron” were subjected to rewriting and editing before I ever posted them here on the blog, and yet when I returned to them, I found that they needed quite a bit of fine-tuning.  This was not specific to the narrative—I was well satisfied with the arcs of both stories, and didn’t change any of those substantial facts.  But the language use, the choice of words—stylistic matters, as well as grammatical ones—bore significant improvement.  This is probably at least partly a result of the fact that, in putting the stories on my blog, I was publishing them informally.  I was happy and eager to receive any feedback, including the pointing out of glaring stylistic problems, grammatical errors, and so on, by blog readers.  This didn’t happen—unfortunately—but I would have welcomed it, and so perhaps I was a bit lazy.  Beyond that, though, it’s simply a fact that I first edited the stories immediately after writing them, and so I was still in the mindset of that initial creative process, not in that of a critic.  The story in both cases was so fresh in my head that it flowed right through the awkward phrasings and poor word choices that I had used, because I knew only too well what I meant to say.  Coming back after a while helped me realize that, while my intention might have been clear to me, the true measure of success is how well that intention is communicated, not how strongly it was felt by the author.

So, I’m pleased with the outcomes of my more recent editing, though I’m sure that both stories—like every other one ever written, probably—could be improved still.  Stories, I think, are never really finished from the author’s point of view; they’re just allowed to go free.

My happiness at putting those two short stories out as e-books has led me to take a short break from “Unanimity” and focus entirely on rewriting “Hole for a Heart” to release it as an e-book.  Then, I shall return to “Unanimity,” and complete it while not working on any other simultaneous fiction projects.  Thankfully—and I am indeed quite thankful for this—I am blessed with the ability easily to return to the state of mind I was last in when writing a story, and am able quickly to jump back into the stream of its creation, without losing the earlier threads.  This is why I was able to write “Son of Man” more than twenty years after I had first started it, with an opening that is almost identical, even in specific phrases, to how I had written it decades in the past.  The story then proceeded, more or less, just I had thought it would back in the nineties.

Of course, even in a story conceived and written in one continuous, unbroken chain of creation, there are always surprises.  That’s one of the great joys of writing fiction.  Characters and events are simulations, of a sort, and they follow the rules you program into them.  Sometimes the interplay of these rules produces outcomes the writer didn’t explicitly imagine or expect when beginning the story, but which are inescapable products of the nature of those characters and events.  This is really quite a wonderful thing, when it happens, and feels nearly miraculous.

Given my plan to focus on it exclusively, I expect that “Hole for a Heart” will be released more quickly on the heels of “Prometheus and Chiron” than the latter was following “Ifowonco.”  I could be wrong.  “Hole for a Heart” is even slightly longer than “Ifowonco,” and is quite a bit longer than “Prometheus and Chiron.”  It may take a lot of work to tighten it up optimally and to shape it into a form for which I’m willing to charge people actual money.

And now, to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”  At least, that’s all I have to say for the moment.  I’m a bit long-winded, in writing if not in person, so I don’t doubt that more will be forthcoming on these topics in the future.  In the meantime, please do consider buying and reading my stories, and if you do, please review them.  In fact, if you write to me and ask, I’d be happy to buy you a copy of any of my short stories—and probably my novels—in return for the promise that you will review them.  I don’t need you to promise to give them good reviews.  You can be brutal and needlessly sadistic, if that’s your preference.  In this, I am fearless, for I suspect that—once one stops weeping—it’s possible to learn more from the feedback of a malicious reviewer than from one who merely sings one’s praises, though the latter is no doubt more pleasant.  This doesn’t mean I want you to say you don’t like the stories if you really do like them, just that you don’t have to butter me up; I’m fat enough already.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Try not let politics get you down too much—everything’s ephemeral, after all.

TTFN

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

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