Nymph, in thy orisons be all my blogs remember’d

It’s interesting how these things happen.  As you’ll know, if you’ve been following this blog, I finished the first draft of Unanimity at the end of January, and I decided to take a break from it at least through this month (February) before going back to begin the rewriting/editing.  During the break, my intention was to write, and possibly to rewrite and edit, one or two short stories, the choice of the first of which I had made ahead of time.  This much has gone precisely according to plan:  the first draft of that first story is completed.

Then, I had to decide what story to write next.  As I’ve detailed elsewhere, the one I originally had in mind was of too similar a character to the one I’d just finished.  So, I went to my list of (electronically) jotted-down story ideas and found one that was different enough, and interesting enough, to work on, and I started writing.

Well…this story idea, and the protagonist who came along with it, has turned out to be surprisingly deep and engaging, though I have no idea if anyone else will share my assessment.  The character’s back-story and his life experiences resonate strongly with me, so I’m not only having quite a nice time writing about him, but the story has a lot more meat than I would have expected.  It may well turn out to be more a novella than a short story.

Yes, I know, many of my “short stories” stray well over the border and into the No Man’s Land between short story and novella.  This makes me particularly grateful for e-book publishing, since it’s hard to imagine any old-school magazines publishing such stories out of length considerations, though I suppose serialization might have been possible.  This new story, though, with a very tentative title of Safety Valve, is going to end up being even more involved than is usual for me.  It doesn’t merit a full-length novel, but it’s not going to be finished in twenty or so pages, either.  In fact, it’s already reached twenty pages, and there’s quite a lot more to tell.

Of course, by nature I tend to take more of a “Cheesecake Factory” approach to writing than a “Seasons 52” approach.  This isn’t good if one is trying to watch one’s weight, as I know only too well, but when it comes to stories…well, you can’t gain weight from reading a story (nor from writing one, thank goodness).  In fact, given that the brain consumes a tremendous portion of the body’s energy budget—about twenty percent—you may burn extra calories by reading a longer story, as long as you don’t snack while doing so.

I’m pleased, bordering on delighted, to have found this story so engaging, especially since I came up with the raw idea off-the-cuff, some time ago, and just added it to the “Quick Memo” file on my smartphone.  That practice has turned out to be quite a useful one.  Incidentally, I had behaved similarly with the germ for the other story I just finished.  The “Quick Memo” habit works beautifully, at least for me, and I don’t mind throwing it out there as possibly useful for others.  We might as well take advantage of the little technological marvels that we carry with us.  We can thus avoid the classic nightmare:  a good idea occurs to us while we’re on the job, or in bed, or in some other situation in which we can’t immediately turn to it in earnest, and by the time we find an appropriate location or time, the idea is lost…“and enterprises of great pitch and moment, with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action.”

Who would have thought that the words of Shakespeare would apply so well to taking notes on one’s smartphone?  Well, anyone who’s read much Shakespeare might think such a thing.  His work is incredibly powerful and broadly pertinent, worthy of deepest admiration and even excusable envy.  “If I could grow apples like that, I would call myself a gardener.”*

Well, that’s enough self-indulgence for another Thursday.  I hope the weather’s reasonably good wherever you may be, and that your week has been tolerable, and perhaps even wonderful.

TTFN


*This is not a quote from Shakespeare, by the way.  Do you know its source?  Valuable brownie points will be awarded to anyone who does and who states it in the comments below!

Paradox City cover design preview. The story itself will be published soon

Paradox City Cover2

Okay, as I promised a while back, here is a preview of the cover design for Paradox City, my story that is a little too long to be a “short” story but just below the traditional borderline of “novella” (it’s about 29,000 words long).  It has been completely rewritten, and is now in the editing process, so it will soon be available for purchase.  As always, when it is up for sale, half the royalties will go to literacy charities.

I actually plan to give you all a little teaser from the story, either right before it comes out, or when it comes out.  Oh, and just so we’re clear:  While Mark Red is oriented toward the young adult market, and The Chasm and the Collision is appropriate for anyone from pre-teens to the elderly, Paradox City is definitely not for very young readers.  Bad things do happen in this story…you know, profanity, adult situations, violence, nudity, references to Elvis singing Guns ‘n’ Roses songs…things not for the faint of heart.  One of the joys (for me) of the short story is that situations don’t always have to turn out for the best, or even for the better.  Bad things can happen to good (or at least benign) people without anyone receiving his or her comeuppance, or any deep philosophical treatment or explanation of what’s been happening.  While novels, by and large, have more good endings than your average strip-mall massage parlor, it’s perfectly okay for a short story to end in an ambiguous fashion.  Actually, that’s one of the most satisfying aspects to short stories:  They can leave you guessing, which leaves you thinking and imagining.

I love ’em.

Just in case anyone wants any recommendations on the matter, my personal favorite short story authors include Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Edgar Allen Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Robert E. Howard…just to name a few.  It’s fair to say that I’m much more excited when Stephen King is coming out with a new collection of short stories (as he is now) than I am about his novels*.

I suppose you can guess what my genre tendency of preference is in the short story world, based on that list of authors.

On a different subject, here’s advance warning:  Mark Red:  Chapter 13 is going to be out just in time for Halloween–partly by coincidence, and partly by design, like so much of the world.  In it, Mark’s nature as a newly-made demi-vampire is going to collide with some aspects of adolescence that would have made him very happy, if only…well, you’ll have to read it to see.

And on a different different subject, I am still taking feedback on the issue of “Son of Man:  Serial or novel?”  The final decision has not yet been made, and the rewrite is still very much in progress, so there’s plenty of time to put in your two cents.

Finally, I’m soon going to be posting another entry on the criminal justice system, informed by my own unpleasant and too-prolonged experience with it.  These articles take a little longer than regular blog posts, because I want to make sure they are products of serious thought as well as real research, when appropriate, not just my own personal experiences.  This is not a simple subject, and it deserves great care.

Thank you all for reading.  If you like what you’ve read, please feel free to “Like”, to “Comment”, and to “Share”, as well as to repost.  (If you make any money from doing so, just throw me a cut, okay?)  Oh, and by all means, follow me on FacebookTwitter, and so on.

TTFN!


*Which is not to disparage his novels.  While I don’t love them universally, many are among my favorite modern works of fiction.