O, let my blogs be then the eloquence and dumb presages of my speaking breast.

Antarctic

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.  For those of you who are paying attention, I have not (yet) written a post on Iterations of Zero this week.  That parenthetical “yet” may yet become a superfluous “yet”, alas, because I recently suffered from a rather nasty gastroenteritis.  For the first three or so days of this week, I felt almost literally rotten, and I’m still rather washed out, if you’ll pardon the expression.  So, I may have to call this week’s IoZ post a miss, though it pains me to do so after only having done a few weeks’ worth of continuous posting.  I may need just to write a very brief entry there as an apology.

I have been able to keep up with editing Unanimity, though the process was rather slower than usual.  I’m again approaching the latter part of the story, and as expected, it’s not quite as gripping as it was the first several times.  This is good, since it makes me a more ruthless editor, which is a large part of the point of doing it this way.  I’ve already trimmed more than twenty-five thousand words from the original draft, but I’m not near my goal yet, so I must be increasingly brutal as time passes.

I have to admit, at the risk of seeming narcissistic, that I tend to enjoy reading my own stories.  There’s just something about them; it’s as though the author really knows me.

On the other hand, I continue to have trouble finding other people’s tales—including television and movie fiction—engaging.  There are shows and films and books out now that should by all rights be seizing my attention and holding it without ransom, but which barely raise an eyebrow.  I can’t even seem to force myself to partake of them.  It’s not exactly ennui, but maybe that’s the closest thing to it*.  The only stories I’ve been able to focus on lately are the Japanese light novel series whose title is shortened to Oregairo.  It’s about a collection of loners (this is not a contradiction), with a narrator whos particularly misanthropic and cynical, though none of them are hateful or overly pessimistic.  Unfortunately, I’ve reached the end of the volumes that have been published in English, and though they’re good books, I’m not likely to reread them anytime soon.  This is a glaring departure from my usual pattern for books that I enjoy.  God knows how often I’ve read The Lord of the Rings, but it’s been well over thirty times, and even much more so for The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.  The Harry Potter books don’t quite reach that level of repetition, but then again, I was already a working and studying adult when they came out.  I didn’t have the free reading time on my hands that I had in grade school, junior high, and high school, when I first read LotR and Thomas Covenant.

Unfortunately, I haven’t even had the will or desire in recent years to reread these great classics.  I’ve started Tolkien**, but I haven’t even gotten to the end of the first section.  Frodo hasn’t even been stabbed on Weathertop yet.  I just lost interest.  And every time I look at either the hard copy or the digital copy of this or any of the other books to consider reading them, I just kind of feel, “meh”.

I do a bit better with nonfiction, especially science books, including audio books.  This is certainly some consolation; I’ve always loved science as much as I’ve loved fiction (though, oddly, only very select science fiction).  Even this has its limits, of course, partly because Brian Greene, Sean Carroll, Richard Dawkins and the like can only write so many popular science books so quickly***.  I tend to devour them rapidly when they come out.  Also, unfortunately, a lot of science books in subjects I enjoy are just rehashing things I already know.  One can only so often read some new person’s attempt to explain General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics or Astrophysics or Evolutionary Biology to the layperson, especially when others have already done a better job on the subjects.

I think part of the trouble I have with enjoying new fiction—and even new nonfiction, but to a lesser extent—is that I simply don’t have the people in my life with whom I used to share that joy.  Because of that absence, even new potential happiness in reading such stories (or watching such shows, etc.) is tainted and soured.  It’s hard to take pleasure looking at photos of—or imagining—sipping cocktails on a tropical beach with one’s estranged significant other or splashing about in the surf with one’s children if one is currently wandering, lost and alone, in a frozen, Antarctic desert.

Not to be melodramatic about it or anything.

In lighter news, I’m thinking of setting up a promotional giveaway of at least electronic versions of my books and/or stories—one per customer—sometime soon…in time for the holidays, perhaps.  If I do, word of it will probably appear here, in this very blog, before it appears anywhere else.  Indeed, in a certain sense, it just has.

I wish all of you all manner of wellnesses, including ones you’ve never even imagined before, and which certainly I have never had the courage to contemplate.  May each of your personal world-lines become ever better with the passage of time.

TTFN


*It’s almost certainly dysthymia, with its attendant curse anhedonia.

**I’ve even tried rereading The Silmarillion, which I’ve read at least a dozen times in the past.  (It’s not as though I could have read it in the future, is it?)  No luck.

***Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould have been slacking off lately to an inexcusable degree, in my opinion.

For it will come to pass that every bloggart shall be found an ass.

Good day, everyone.  It’s that morning for which you all pine each week:  Thursday morning, the morning on which I (usually) release my weekly blog post.  Rejoice!  You can breathe again.

Okay, well, anyway…I hope everyone in America had a good Memorial Day on Monday.  I always try to avoid saying “a happy Memorial Day,” since the point behind the holiday is to remember with gratitude the many military personnel who’ve fought and died in wars, etc., especially in World War II, and that’s not really a happy thought.

Of course, in a certain sense, we should be happy that these people did what they did—it’s good that the Axis powers didn’t win World War II, even despite the many missteps and mistakes the Allies and former Allies have made in the years since.  On the other hand, though, we can surely all agree that it’s lamentable that such destruction and loss of life was ever necessary.  If you stop and think about it, we should all hope for (and whenever possible, strive toward) a world in which neither heroism nor leadership are necessary, since leadership and heroism are generally required only when things are not going well.  At least, it would be nice to work toward a world in which conflict, leadership, and heroism exist in sports, in books, in movies, and in video games, but not in day to day life.

Is such a world possible?  In principle, I think it is.  In practice, who knows if it will ever happen?  I wouldn’t lay heavy money on it, more’s the pity.

On to lighter, or at least more personal, matters.  I’ve been fiddling around with sound editing/recording/mixing software, and it has continued to distract me a bit from my writing tasks, but not completely.  Though I haven’t written any new pages of Neko/Neneko for over a week, I have been editing away at Unanimity, and I’ve been pleased to find that there are some moving moments in it.  One would hope this was the case in a long novel, of course, but I’ve read a few books in which there are no such experiences.  It’s nice that, at least for the author, the book has some poignant, and goose-bumpy, and thrilling passages.  Hopefully, future readers will agree with my assessment.

I continue to entertain the plan of releasing the three short stories from Welcome to Paradox City as individual Kindle editions, and—in sort of a parallel opposite act—of releasing a collection of my more recent short stories, and possibly doing all of these before Unanimity comes out.  And, of course, before any of that, I’m going to be releasing Free Range Meat, my latest short story.  That should happen fairly soon, as the editing on it is going well, even though it’s only one day a week.

Amidst all these processes, one thing that I’ve fallen off on a bit—and which I was never terribly good about in the first place—is promotion.  Though I’ve never found it natural to advertise myself, I at least periodically used to boost some Facebook ads and the like, and I haven’t done any of that in quite a while.  It’s just contrary to my nature, at least as I am now, to shout out for attention, even when it’s perfectly reasonable, and even necessary, to do so.  Don’t get me wrong, I can certainly be pompous and arrogant in my own right (no, really!), but I’m not very good at talking myself up.  I usually feel that it’s rude to try to push myself into other people’s awareness.  This is not good, of course, for someone who’s trying to get other people to notice and read his books (or listen to his songs, or whatever).  And I myself often lament how much it’s the case that the assholes of the world make far more noise than the benign and positive people.

Of course, one ongoing way in which I do promote myself is by writing this blog (and Iterations of Zero, though that’s more esoteric).  But doing more than that is rather awkward for me.

I often envy the attitude expressed by a moment in “The Simpsons” when Marge flashes back to a two-year-old Bart walking down the hall, banging on a kitchen pot with a spoon and singing, “I am so great!  I am so great!  Everybody loves me, I am so great!”  And, of course, I’m well aware that a key principle of advertising is repetition, even to the point of irritation.  After all, if people are thinking and talking about how much of a pain you are, they’re talking about you.  But it feels like it’s all in such poor taste.

Then again, I write fantasy/sci-fi/horror, and in the latter genre, many things happen which quite a few people would say are in poor taste, or they would be if they really occurred.  Certainly, the fate that befalls the very well-intentioned and positively behaved main character of Free Range Meat could hardly be called a Capra-esque outcome.  Maybe Kafka-esque, but definitely not Capra, and definitely not tasteful.

Tasty?  Maybe.

There, that’s a little teaser for you to whet your appetite.  I can do this promotion thing.  Sure, I can.

Well, I could ramble on and on for much longer than I have, but I’ll save that for another time.  Always leave them wanting more, they say.  I wish for each of you the best of all possible outcomes from your point of view, with only the proviso that it not interfere with the best of all possible outcomes for others from their points of view.

And isn’t that the big problem of crafting a society even of thoroughly well-meaning people?

TTFN

Solitaire

solitaire cover

It’s the early nineteen-nineties, and Jerry, a successful advertising executive, is having a breakdown. He’s done too much shading of the truth, and he’s watched too much Headline News, and he can no longer make sense of the world. Now, sitting at the breakfast table, he contemplates the possible future for himself and his family while dealing out a hand of solitaire…

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are blog’d of in your philosophy.

Hello and welcome!

For those of you in the United States, I hope you had an excellent Independence Day yesterday.  Earlier in the week, I wrote a blog post on Iterations of Zero encouraging Americans to remember the meaning behind the holiday; you can read it here if you so desire.

My fiction writing (and my reading/promoting of already existing fiction) goes well.  I’m almost done recording chapter 5 of The Chasm and the Collision.  It’s slightly longer than the previous chapters, so editing it may take more time, but I still expect it to be available for your listening pleasure* by the end of next week, or perhaps by the middle of the following week.  Reading for audio seems to take much less time than editing; this is in contrast to the process of writing a story, where the composition takes far longer than the editing process, even when that editing is thoroughly draconian. Continue reading

Oh, that this too too sullied blog post would melt…

Okay, once again I’m taking a week-long break between author’s notes, just to give those who are interested a brief update on my doings.  Next week, I will post the author’s note for The Death Sentence, the first story in my collection Welcome to Paradox City, (unless, for some unforeseen reason, I decide to write it about something else).

As you know, if you follow this blog, I’ve taken a short break from working on Unanimity, my upcoming horror novel, to complete the editing and rewriting of Hole for a Heart, an earlier version of which appeared here.  Like its predecessors, I for one welcome our new computer overlords, and Prometheus and Chiron, the story is benefiting greatly from the process, at least in my eyes.  Hopefully, anyone who ends up having read both versions will agree with me.*

It’s always nice when, upon rereading his or her own story, an author finds himself or herself excited and moved by that work, and this has been true in spades on Hole for a Heart.  I’ve experienced brilliant moments when, going through the rewrite/edits, I found myself getting mildly creeped out.  This is a good thing; it is a horror story, after all.  Of course, it helped that I was doing the work in the early morning, while it was still dark outside, and I was alone.  But still…obviously, I knew what was going to happen in the story, but still found myself at least mildly chilled.  It’s nice that the atmosphere I’d tried to create worked, at least on me.  Whether it will work similarly on other readers remains to be seen, but I have high hopes.

On another subject:  I’ve struggled to find the time to work on my non-fiction-related blog, “Iterations of Zero.”  I did write a brief post there earlier this week, detailing some puzzlement I have about the nature of gravitons, and how they might interact with an event horizon, because I felt compelled to get those thoughts out into the meme-pool, but it’s difficult for me to get all that I want to get done there.  I have three partially written articles languishing in my computer, as well as two full files in the memo app of my smart-phone, stuffed with ideas about which I want to write, issues I want to address, questions I want to raise.  When I say full, I mean it.  The files are as large as is allowed by the memo app…or at least the first one is, and the second is within a hair’s breadth of fullness.

By comparison, the file containing my story ideas (admittedly it’s not the only location for such recorded inspiration) is only one, nearly-full, memo file.**

The main reason that I have trouble getting IoZ as productive as I want it to be is time, that limiting factor on all things, so beautifully lamented by Andrew Marvell in To His Coy Mistress.  I work eleven out of every fourteen days, full time, and my commute is an hour to two hours in each direction.  This transit provides a wonderful opportunity to listen to podcasts and audio-books, but otherwise, those are unproductive hours.

Obviously, I can’t just write while I’m at work.  My boss is about as pleasant and understanding as it’s possible to be while owning and running a business, but his patience would be strained if I were to spend a significant amount of my work time doing things that had no relation to my job.  More pointedly, long before I would reach the threshold of annoying my boss, I would be curtailed by own conscience.  It’s simply not in my nature to be able to freeload while earning a paycheck, and I’m glad that it’s not.

So, my time is limited, and if sacrifices have to be made in my writing, I must regretfully choose to sacrifice the non-fiction, since fiction is my primary calling.  Of course, if enough people buy my books, I may make enough money to write full time, which would not break my heart.  If you’d like to see that happen, please feel free to buy them, and encourage others to do so as well!  ^_^

On yet another note, rewriting my short stories, and listening to audio books has re-ignited my desire to post my own audio recordings of the three short stories I’ve been working on recently.  There’s something special about a book being read by its author; at least there is for me.  I know it isn’t always workable for everyone, but I have a pretty decent reading voice, and I’m frequently told that I sound pleasant on the phone, so I’m not worried about my words grating on the listener’s ears.  Also, it’s just wonderful fun – for me – to read things out loud.  It always has been.  I’ll read books out loud to myself, if I’m enjoying them enough, especially when the dialogue is good, and it’s nice to think of sharing that enjoyment.  I don’t really foresee recording any of my novels, at least not in the immediate future, and definitely not just for posting on the blog.  That kind of work would require remuneration.

On yet another other note:  I don’t recall whether I’ve mentioned this here before, but in recent times I’ve had a real block on reading fiction, which is quite new for me.  Forget finding new stories to read; even stories that I love deeply have been unable to grip my attention, and I am one who reads and rereads his favorite books repeatedly, in true geek fashion.  I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince seven times between the midnight when I bought it and the time Deathly Hallows was released…and it was by no means the only book I read in that time.  But lately, no fiction, either familiar or new, has been able to hold my attention for long.  My sister, however, recommended the Rick Riordan novels as uniformly enjoyable, and I know that my son loved the ones he read, so I purchased the Kindle version of The Lightning Thief, and so far – admittedly less than a tenth of the way into the book – I’m enjoying it.  I’ve been seriously worried, because I even had to force my brutal way through rereading the first four books of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series.  Frankly, I skipped a lot of book four, and then I just hung up on book five.  If Stephen King’s magnum opus can’t keep my attention, I’m in trouble.

Reading nonfiction, though, has not been as problematic; I love science books of many kinds, and have recently become enamored with more philosophical, political, and historical works as well.  Interestingly enough, some of my best story inspirations come to me from reading science books rather than as part of reading fiction.  Many of the ideas that appear in The Chasm and the Collision were triggered by my reading of The Fabric of the Cosmos, by Brian Greene.

Well, this post has gone all over the place, and has by no means remained as brief as I expected it to be when I began.  That’s okay, though.  Technically, this is a blog, and as such can function almost as a public diary.  In closing, I repeat that the work on Hole for a Heart is proceeding well, and the story should be available for sale in e-book format within a month, probably sooner.  It’s longish for a short-story, but that seems to be just how I roll.  (At least you’ll know you’re going to be getting your ninety-nine cents worth.)

Then, once that’s out, I shall return in full force to Unanimity, which is getting close to the end.  This is reassuring, since it’s already much longer than I had expected it to be.  These things do happen, I suppose.  Again, it just seems to be how I roll.

I welcome your feedback on this posting, on any others I have written, and even on anything else that might be on your mind.  The comment section below is open, and my Facebook and Twitter accounts are public.  I am a bit socially awkward, but nevertheless, I welcome you to contact me, at least regarding matters that I’ve discussed publicly.  And I also both encourage – and even beg – those of you who have read my work to give reviews, or at least ratings, on Amazon.  It really makes a difference.

Be well, all of you.  That’s an order.

TTFN!


*As part of this editing process, I’ve noticed, or discovered, a fascinating fact and trick:  Changing the font of your writing between edits can help you notice things that need fixing, and which you hadn’t noticed before, in the original font.  This is a fascinating psychological fact, at least about me, and now that I’ve discovered it, I mean to put it to full use from this moment on.

**  I actually posted one of those entries on my Facebook page recently.  It’s the opening paragraph for an eventual story, the trigger for which I can’t currently recall, and for which I have no idea what the story will be.  I like that paragraph a lot, though I can see a few edits that I’d make in structure and wording if I ever do write the story, but first that story has to reveal itself to me.

The Chasm approaches – watch your step!

CatC promo

Okay, well, another week has passed, and we are a week closer to the release of “The Chasm and the Collision” in both paperback and E-book formats.  In fact, as the above Facebook ad shows, it will be released this month (which comes as no surprise to those of you who read last week’s posting).  Even more excitingly—to me, certainly—is that it will be released within the next two weeks, and possibly within the next week.  There are still a few variables at play, so I don’t want to be too specific. Continue reading

The Chasm and the Collision is coming soon – or is that ARE coming soon? No, it IS coming soon.

Okay, well, it’s another Thursday morning, and time for me to write my weekly blog post.  I’m abstaining from writing philosophical and/or political things, today.  Those essays don’t seem to get as much response as my more lighthearted posts, and I never do seem to get good discussions going about them, which is a severe disappointment.  I suppose in the era of Facebook, and especially Twitter, expecting people to read anything longer than 140 characters (or that is not in the form of even fewer characters, written on an amusing or startling or eye-catching picture) is a bit delusional, let alone expecting people to write anything of substance in response.

Sigh.  Sometimes I despair.

Anyway.

On to much more positive matters:  The Chasm and the Collision is going to be out sometime within the next month, and I want to start generating a bit of hype for it.  Having to edit and edit and edit and edit and to do layout and to prepare things for publication are all relatively mind-numbing tasks, especially with a fairly long book, but they are essential.  And they bear delicious fruit in the long run, so they’re well worth the effort.

Anyway, I want to give you all a little preview, or introduction, or whatever the term might be, of The Chasm and the Collision, beyond some of what I’ve written here previously.

The story would be categorized as a fantasy/adventure novel, but in some ways it’s almost science fiction, because even the fantastic elements of the story have their basis in what are, in the novel, natural phenomena.  There are no spells or demons or witches, etc., in other words.

The story centers around 3 pre-teen middle school students, Alex, Meghan, and Simon.  One day, they eat a bunch of particularly delicious berries they find in the fruit bowl in Alex’s house, assuming them to be a healthy snack that Alex’s mother has left for him.  Starting that night, they begin to have strange dreams of a world with a changeless red sky, and a vast, mountainous city seemingly hanging in space off the edge of a cliff that seems to stretch on forever, with no far side.  Dreams, though, are not the only disturbing occurrences.  Meghan, Simon, and Alex begin to hear, and even see, bizarre and sometimes terrifying creatures that no one else can perceive.  Gradually, they learn about an approaching catastrophe of staggering proportions:  the impending collision of two universes, which would destroy everything that currently exists in both.  And one of those universes is our own.

The prevention of this cosmic catastrophe centers around a single, small tree in the middle of a garden at the top of the gigantic tower crowning the city that floats on the edge of the Chasm.  Alex, Simon, and Meghan find themselves in the seemingly impossible position of needing to help that tree carry out its preventive task.

However, this is not as simple as it might seem (har).  For there is an Other, an indescribable entity, out there in between the universes.  It, and its pawns, want very much for the collision to happen.  Our heroes must try to avoid discovery by this thing of anti-sanity, to do whatever small part they can to counter its wishes, and then—hopefully—to return to their normal lives as before.  They know they will probably not succeed completely at all three goals.

Well, there it is, a quick synopsis/teaser/summary/trailer for The Chasm and the Collision.  I’m planning on creating a few meme-style promotional images to put out into the cyberverse, to garner a bit of excitement.  If the story I described above sounds to you like it might be a good one, then please keep your ears pricked and your eyes peeled.  I’ll let you know when it’s available.

If you want to find out whether you like my fiction writing style, there are two free samples here on the blog:  “I For One Welcome Our New Computer Overlords,” and Prometheus and Chiron.  Give them a read—they’re relatively short, the latter more than the former—and give me feedback, if you like.  Do remember that, unlike the two above stories, The Chasm and the Collision (CatC), is a family-friendly novel.  Though it can be scary at times, and certainly there is some violence in it, as in essentially all fantasy adventures, it isn’t gory violence.  There’s no sex, no drugs, and very little rock ‘n’ roll.  There aren’t even any effing swear words.  What the frak is that all about?

Okay, I’ll stop now before I bore you too much.  Soon I’ll begin my rundown and discussion of my favorite villains, and I think I’m going to begin with one of my personal favorites:  The psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  In the meantime, you fly back to school now, little starlings.

TTFN