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.

Author’s note for “Son of Man”

Son of man icon

[Spoiler Alert:  Parts of the discussion below reveal aspects of the book that the first-time reader may not want to know…which, I suppose, is the basic definition of “Spoiler Alert”.]

Son of Man is the oldest of my published works—oldest in the sense that it’s the oldest of my story ideas that has been fully written and published.  It is also oldest in the sense that it is the published book I started writing longest ago.  I began it in the nineties, while I was in med school and was living in White Plains, New York.  I don’t recall the exact amount that I wrote at the time; it may have been only the first five or six pages.  But the book as it now exists begins with a scene almost identical to what I wrote then, reconstructed from memory, including the names of the first three characters introduced.  The character Michael was also present in the original idea.  I might have gotten as far as his introduction into the story at the time; certainly, his entrance, and even his initial words, have been fully present in my head for the last two decades. Continue reading

Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blog.

Well, it’s that day of the week again (Thursday), when I write yet another blog post for the entertainment, and occasionally the edification, of those who want to read it.  As I did two weeks ago, I’m breaking up my author’s notes, interspersing them with less specific ramblings on my current, past, and planned writings.  Next week, I’ll continue my author’s note series, with a note on Son of Man.  Once I’ve caught up with the notes up to and including my latest published story, I plan to start periodically posting sample first chapters of my published works, as teasers to get readers interested—or, alternatively, to let them know for certain that they are uninterested—in the books and stories from which they’ll be excerpted.  This should be fun, I think, and will certainly be less work for me on those weeks when I post them.

Right now—so to speak—I’m near the completion of preparing to publish Hole for a Heart.  We at Chronic Publications are still struggling over the final form of the cover design for the story, though the basic design is already confirmed.  As those of you who have read it when it was available here know, it’s a dark story (how atypical for me, right?), but I like it a lot.  Thankfully, that’s more or less universal about my stories, and I can’t stress enough how thankful I am for the fact.  Of course, there are flaws in all of my works, and my earlier ones are less polished than those that follow, but I still enjoy thinking about them, and occasionally rereading them.  This almost always leads me to find errors that were missed in the editing process, as well as stylistic issues that I would now have changed…hopefully to improve upon them.  In the long run, I may create second editions of some books, especially the earlier ones, but that process requires time, of which commodity I am in short supply.  As is often the case (and as I think I’ve mentioned before) I frequently find myself quoting Andrew Marvell to myself: “If we had world enough, and time…”

Alas!

As is the usual case lately, I’ve been having difficulty finding new fiction that grips me enough to read, and I find this terribly depressing (it’s not the fault of the books).  Likewise, because I lost essentially everything I owned seven years ago tomorrow, I don’t have physical copies of all the hundreds of books that I’ve read and reread over the course of my life hitherto—for entertainment, inspiration, and edification.  Over time, I’m gradually trying to re-accumulate at least some of them, mainly in Kindle format, because that way I can carry my library with me wherever I go.  But even with e-book versions, to reproduce my previous library would cost a great deal of money, so it’s a piecemeal process at best.  I’m also always looking for new recommendations, and the other day on his Facebook page, Stephen King gave one for a book called The Chalk Man, by C. J. Tudor.  I looked up the book on Amazon—it’s available on Kindle—and it does look good.  I also like the author’s name, not that such a thing is of great importance.  Still, I can’t help playing word games, and inevitably thought of the fact that if you combined the surnames of the recommendee and the recommender, you’d get the phrase “Tudor King.”

Such are the processes that take place in my mind.

In any case, that book will likely be the next fiction book I purchase, and I’ll try to remember to let you all know how it is, once I’ve read it.

I do find myself able to read nonfiction, and I also use Audible, listening to a great deal of nonfiction on my commute to and from work.  Lately, I’ve been in Steven Pinker mode, a fact at least partially triggered by the recent release of his newest book, Enlightenment Now.  I’m currently visually reading one of his earlier works, The Stuff of Thought, about language and the human mind, and listening to his second most recent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature.  Once that’s done, Enlightenment Now already awaits on my Audible app, and I look forward to it eagerly.

I couldn’t easily exaggerate Pinker’s value as a thinker and writer.  His books are not short, and neither are they diffuse.  He packs a great deal of information and ideas into them, but his writing style and style of thought are exceptional and engaging.  If you want a taste of the enthusiasm and fun he brings to his work, and engenders in those who come to it, watch the following video of his presentation on The Stuff of Thought at Google.  His discussion on the nature of swearing—with numerous examples explained and explored—is both hilarious and thought provoking.

 

As I think I’ve said before, reading about ideas and concepts, even rather difficult ones, isn’t merely a way for me to pass my time between reading and writing fiction.  Even if it didn’t have any other value (it does), such exploration strengthens the mind’s muscles and makes it more fit and able to perform every task to which one puts it, including the writing of fiction.  Also, I think it improves one’s skill at narrative.  When an author can take a dense and complex subject and write about it in prose that’s both gripping and clear, that style of writing is surely one from which a writer of fiction can learn many lessons.  Some stories are good enough that they can be carried along simply by the power of the plot, even if the prose is awkward, but when one can add to such stories a structure made of language both beautiful and elegant, well…that’s a spicy meatball!

I’m about a hundred years too young to consider comparing myself to someone like Pinker, or to other great writers of fiction and nonfiction alike, but that just means that I can learn a great deal from them in the meantime.  In fact, a writer/reader’s marginal rate of return is probably greatest long before he or she begins to be in the same league as the one who wrote what he or she is reading.  So, I can heartily recommend that writers read books by those who are far better writers than themselves, and as often as possible.

But, also, do read some of my books in between.  I’ll do my best to keep raising my standards.

TTFN

Author’s note for “The Chasm and the Collision”

CatC cover paperback

See on Amazon

The Chasm and the Collision is my currently published novel that has the most recent—and what might be thought inauspicious—origins.  I came up with the idea for it while I was an involuntary resident of Gun Club Road, a period lasting eight months.  It was a longer stretch of enforced restriction from most of the sources of intellectual stimulation to which I was used than I think I’ve experienced either before or since.

During that time, thanks to the help of my ex-wife, I was able to keep in contact with my children by calling them two days a week—though the calls were restricted to fifteen minutes at a time, and this was disheartening (though positively luxurious compared to my current interactions).  My children were around eleven and twelve at the time, my son just entering middle school and my daughter in the latter year or so of elementary school. Continue reading

Author’s note for “Paradox City”

Paradox City Cover2

“Paradox City” is the next story I wrote—or completed, anyway—after I finished the first draft of “Mark Red.”  I say “completed,” because I actually began writing “The Chasm and the Collision” months before I started “Mark Red,” in apparent contradiction to what I wrote in my previous author’s note.  But I had only written what were then the first and second chapters of “CatC,” which were eventually consolidated into one chapter, and had then put them aside.  I also didn’t have them with me while I was a guest of the Florida State Department of Corrections.  My mother, thankfully, had a printout of the chapters, and my intention was to complete that book once I had finished “Mark Red,” when I had worked enough of the rust from my writing gears.  However, the chapters hadn’t arrived yet by the time I finished “Mark Red.”  While I waited, I wanted to be productive and to maintain my daily early-morning writing habits, so I decided to write a short story. Continue reading

Author’s note for “Mark Red”

Mark Red Cover

What follows is my first “author’s note” about one of my works, and I’ve decided to begin with “Mark Red,” because it’s my first published book, and the first book I wrote as an adult since medical school.

Ideas for the stories I write tend to arrive in one of two ways.  Often, of course, I simply think of the idea of a story, develop it, often start or even complete writing it, and come up with the title later.  This was certainly the case with “The Chasm and the Collision” and “Son of Man,” as well as with the short stories “If the Spirit Moves You,” “Prometheus and Chiron,” “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,”* and “Hole for a Heart.”  However, at times I come up with a title first, or a particular phrase seems like it might make a good title, and I develop a story to go with the title.  Such is the case with “Paradox City” and “The Death Sentence,” and it is true in spades of “Mark Red.” Continue reading