Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Steampunky

Just posting to have a post. I'm going to look around right now and find something somewhat interesting to stick in here so you won't feel this has been a total waste of your time.

Let's see . . .

Okay, here's something. I'm not much of a steampunk fan but some of you may be. At any rate there are some lovely images here: http://blog.templates.com/other-side-perception-steampunk/ Here's a teaser by artist Jeremy Love:

Spiraling!

As I twittered a little while ago, I saw the preview for the upcoming PBS series "We Shall Remain," five stories exploring the Native American experience since the Europeans hit the shores. It looks like a great show. Episode one talks about the Plymouth pilgrims and the Wampanoag, a sliver of whom live on in me. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/

I started The Terror by Dan Simmons today. I've heard him read bits of the book on a couple of different podcasts and it sounds like a fantastic story. I talked it up enough to get a coworker reading it, even before I cracked the book.
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Terror/Dan-Simmons/e/9780316008075/?itm=1


I don't know when I'll have time to read it, but I'm going to try to work it in. I'd like to say that my life seems to be spiraling out of control, but in fact it's always been like it is. It's always felt like it's spiraling out of control. I started today to try to get some exercise in, by walking the dog along a route that takes about an hour. That's good for catching up on podcasts too. But I've got writing to do, and I haven't been squeezing in more than a few notes for the past week. It's now past midnight, I have to get up in four and a half hours. I don't know how to make the most important things work.

We celebrated the former wife's birthday earlier. Cake, ice cream and a big bottle of Bailey's. She's been at her new place a little over a year now. Time truly flies.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gear Switcher

Church pointed me toward a new Twitter Fiction market, Nanoism. They're looking for literary fiction, though they're not adverse to genre stuff. Get out there and good luck.

If you're on Facebook and you're a fan of Gareth Stack's The Invisible Tour Guide go prove it here.

No people call me a Space Cowboy, none call me the Gangster of Love. I'm not a Joker, a smoker or a midnight toker. What I am is a twitcher, a gear switcher, a midnight bitcher. What I'm getting at is I'm switching gears again. I'm now planning on expanding a story that I really love, Dritty Does, from about 1,100 words to about 4,000 words. I think it will be swell.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

But Wait, There's More!

I have one more month of my thirties. People say that life begins at forty, but it actually begins at zero.

I watched some Schoolhouse Rock vids with the boy on Saturday morning because for some reason the song Fireworks kept playing in my head. It's a groovy little tune:


But this song was always my favorite, riding the wave of fifties nostalgia in the seventies (Grease, American Graffiti, Happy Days, Sha Na Na). This was done by The Tokens, the guys who sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight:

Eggs, Obama, 96

When I take eggs out of the carton, I want the carton to balance at it's center if it ever had to. So if I take the first egg out of one corner, the next egg comes from the opposite corner. I strive to cook eggs in even numbers. This evening I discovered that the boy had removed one (1) egg from the carton. My world has descended into chaos.

Just saw a few minutes of Obama's press conference. Someone asked him why it took him so long to express his outrage over the AIG bonuses (boni?). He answered that he likes to know what he's talking about before he speaks. Good answer. Along those lines:


Story 96 saw light the other day. I call it, The Hottie.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blah

You can read The Creepy Little Mailbox Man here:
http://everydayweirdness.com/e/20090322/

The Brain Trust at Fox always shows the Treehouse of Terror episodes on the Sunday after Halloween, so I guess it should be no surprise that they did an episode in Ireland today. What was surprising was the writing on this episode. There were a lot of very un-Simpson-like gags. There was still a lot of funny stuff, but I felt uncomfortable with some of the total misses. I hope it doesn't continue.

What the hell did I do today? Nothing, I think. I did catch up on a lot of missed sleep. Over the past week I had about four nights with only two or three hours of sleep. I slept a lot today and would have slept more if it weren't for my few tiny obligations.

I'm reading flash fiction for the next Fiction Crawler as per Church's suggestion. In some cases I may talk about individual stories, in others just the flash sites themselves.

I just saw what's supposed to be the final episode of Flight of the Conchords. I'll miss the show. I wonder what they'll work on next?

Next thing I'm working on has a working title of The Italian Federation. I conceived of the idea for John Joseph Adams' Federations anthology, but I hadn't even cobbled together a decent first draft by the time the deadline hit. This is the one I said I drove off a cliff a month or two back. I've got parts of a not very good story at the moment. If I can tie some of the elements together and add something really weird that I'm still trying to work out, I think it could be a great story. Yesterday I sat and stared at the points I had to bring together and I wasn't getting anywhere. That's when I realized I had to write another draft. Even though I have no idea how it's going to come together, that's the best way forward. Things come to you during the moment when you're writing. The fun, smarter part of your brain throws stuff in there and things get better. When Tolkien got stuck during the writing of The Lord of the Rings, he would start writing the book from the beginning again. That's part of the reason it took twenty years and part of the reason it's such a well-realized work. So I'm going to rewrite and see what happens.

If you're stuck, you should as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

You Tweeted Me, You Tweeted Me

Hey! I just sold The Creepy Little Mailbox Man to Everyday Weirdness! Yay! It should be up on March 22nd for your eyeing pleasure.

If you're wondering about the title of this post, first off, you have to sing it to the tune of Anne Murray's You Needed Me. Secondly, it's there because people were tweeting lots of things I wanted to share.

@paolobacigalupi linked to this excellent article: The Gospel of Consumption.
For the past couple of months I've been asking people and just plain wondering, in light of what we see in the economy, is it impossible to run a healthy economy in which people can also save their money? I had my suspicions about how it could work and this article confirms them. Our economy today is based on businesses which want to make as much money as possible and consumers who feel the need to buy way more than they need. Dump as much money as you want into the system and it will all flow to the top given our current behaviors. Of course, when we dump all the money into the top in the first place, the people don't even get their products, they're by-passed completely. So, please, if you want to save, do so. Empowering the current economic model to screw you isn't your responsibility.

@expatpaul tweeted a link to this, and when you think about it, it fits in the last item. The media convinces us that what the government and corporations want is good for us:

Nobody tweeted this, but I think I might:
The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same. - Stendhal

@jfmarchini tied it all together in a brilliant summation by Bill Watterson (It's a Calvin and Hobbes comic so click on it already): http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_djgssszshgM/SYXCzpR0MbI/AAAAAAAAAyY/VYle3udsueo/s1600-h/CalvinHobbs.BM

And on a fun, non-economic note:
@steveattwitter turned me on to this yesterday. Found it on youtube through HuffPo so I could embed it today and it seems to be popping up all over the web. Steve is a trend setter:


Lastly, I worked an early shift today and my co-manager turned on the 8os Muzak before we opened the store. I heard this song which I hadn't heard in over twenty-five years and had forgotten it even existed. It's a wonderful little thing to rediscover something like that:


I've got sheep, I've got Split Enz. Grant's going to think this is all about him. I just realized I mentioned Calvin and Hobbes and Stendhal in the same post. I'm the living embodiment of Generation X.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

95!

Whooooo! I have defeated Process Five! I finished Three Kingdoms early this morning and shipped it off to find its way in the world. It's story number 95. I just ran a search of this blog for Process Five. On April 20th, 2006 I mentioned I was about to begin the second draft of Process Five. On May 13th, 2006 I wrote that I expected it to be story number 52 and that I'd probably have it finished the following week. On September 24th of 2008 I declared war on the story and stated that I'd conquer it in two weeks. Oh, past me, you are so easy to laugh at!

But now it's dead like a movie monster (at the end of the movie) and I can get on with my life. Yay!

Here's a fantastic quote from Alan Moore that Lou Anders posted in his Watchmen review. If you're a creator, copy this and hold it close to your heart always:

It is much more exciting and thus creatively energizing if you are attempting something where you are uncertain of its outcome, where you don’t know if it will work or not. And this is only the beginning. Eventually, increasingly confident of your talents to make a workable story out of most anything, you will come to regard being merely unsure of a work’s outcome as far too facile an approach. Instead, you may graduate to only attempting works which you privately suspect to be impossible. This is no bad thing, and if rigorously applied would weed out a great many dull and repetitive creators from the world while at the same time increasing the world’s relatively meager cache of genuine unexpected marvels. - Alan Moore

I swear this is not an Alan Moore fansite even though I've mentioned him in three of the last four posts. I'll stop for a while.


















Alan Moore.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Say Nothing (Or, Dan Gets Lucky)

I just read some stuff on Watchmen and Alan Moore on Tor.com and io9 and I had some problems with some of the comments. But I decided not to get involved, even thought I read some facts that I think are incorrect. For one, I don't care that much. For another, one of the commenters went all youtube and said some unnecessarily harsh stuff that didn't really contribute to the conversation and I don't want to throw down because it only causes more chaos and unpleasant feelings.

But let me say something here, not about that, but about the movie. Lots of reviews are talking about how long the sex scene is and how awkward it makes them feel. In fact, when I saw the movie, I almost wondered if the sex scene had been trimmed because it didn't seem as unbearably long as people said it was. My former wife and I had no problem with the scene. I don't imagine it's a question of maturity, but just being comfortable watching people have sex. When I was a teenager watching a sex scene on HBO with my parents in the room made me want to smash the TV so it would stop. It was hideously uncomfortable. Maybe they felt the same way or maybe they didn't care. Watchmen was totally different. My parents weren't in the room, I was a middle-aged man, I had actually had sex with someone by that point and I was sitting next to that person. And we'd both watched plenty of porn.

The scene was fine. It wasn't nasty or overdone. It was two people who really needed each other and wanted each other sharing something wonderful and life-affirming and normal. And I didn't mind the Hallelujuh song either. If I was Über-geek Dan at that point, making it for the first time in who knows how long, making it with this very hot lady and getting it up when I hadn't before, in my head I'd be singing Hallelujuh too. Which brings me to another point. If you haven't read the book, but you've seen the movie you wouldn't know that the reason for Dan's impotence was the lack of costumes. The costumes get him hot. I wish they would have mentioned that as well as a lot of other things. Ah, well.

Just finished my rewrite of Three Kingdoms. Now I'm going to read it through out loud and see how I like it. I did add a couple of cool little things with this draft that I really liked. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Shit

Here's the link to the my other Thaumatrope St. Patrick's Day story: http://thaumatrope.greententacles.com/tweets/20090315/

Fellow Sofanaut Ieshido (Or as we know him on the SSS forums, Leshido (Ha!)) pointed me toward this cool Alan Moore interview: http://disinfo.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=438651 A genius and a nice guy. What more could anyone want from a hero. Maybe free candy, that would be nice. Some of those Reese's Easter Eggs with the high peanut butter to chocolate ratio. Mmmm.

What else is going on? Let's see, I think I may have offended some of my fellow employees with a politically incorrect phrase upon closing time a few hours ago. I'll have to seek each of them out and apologize the next time we work together. They may politely accept my apology, but for the the rest of our lives they may look at me and think to themselves, "I know what that jackass really thinks!" Ah, well. Maybe it will teach me to have a little more common sense next time. Don't leave comments asking me what I said. You think I want to offend someone here as well? Just know that I'm a jackass and we're good.

I have to clean out the disgusting things from my refrigerator since today is the garbage pickup. Funny what I'll keep in the refrigerator that I won't keep in the kitchen waste basket. Eat up, everyone!

I had something like four rejections last week. That blows. I'm hoping I'll get that one magic "OK!" from a certain someone. But I always hope something like that. And I wonder how that special person will contact me. Mail, e-mail or phone? I like to fantasize about such things so that when I get the rejection I feel even worse. I think that's it for now. I have to go play in old food and dishwashing and get up four hours from now for the dreaded Monday morning meeting which is always the worst part of my week.

Did this post make anyone else feel bad? Because it sure worked me over.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Writing Stuff

My new Thaumatrope story showed up yesterday. You can read it here. I should have another one up later today. I'll post the link next time around. Today's and yesterday's are both St. Patrick's Day stories.

I'm currently working on a rewrite of my Process Five story, Three Kingdoms. I'm saving the last version in case I fuck up the rewrite. I don't usually save previous versions when I do rewrites, but I will if I'm not sure the rewrite will improve the story. I've used the word rewrite five times in this paragraph.

I am ridiculously behind on Fiction Crawler 6. The only good story I've read so far is going to be on the Sofa as a Nebula nominee, so I don't want to use it. That means I've got no (0) stories to recommend so far. That will make for a mighty brief Fiction Crawler. I know Tony's going to be asking for it at any moment and he'll want it immediately. Gads!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Something New

Well, back to work tomorrow. The writing week started off gangbusters, but there must have been a leak, because the pressure dropped as the week went on. I wondered why my house was so steamy. Ah, well. Onward and upward.

I've been working on too much mundane stuff lately, Maisy's Many Souls, Process Five, TIWOTAM, and Fiction Crawler. I want to loosen up a bit and write some crazy stuff. I got very close to what I wanted last year with a short thing called Dritty Does. I like it a lot, I liked the writing, but I did want more story underneath it. The writing for something like that gets far out and the problem has been that the more I try to bring it down to something that appears to be a story, the more pedestrian the writing gets. I want both. I want acid-laced lunatic beat prose with a real conflict-laden story beneath it and I want some length to it as well. Dritty was only about twelve-hundred words. I want something in the neighborhood of four-thousand. Anyway that's what I want to do next. I'll let you guys know how it turns out.

I saw Watchmen. You guys can hear what I thought about it on the next StarShipSofa. I won't be recommending it to people who aren't comics fans. I don't think they'll care for it at all. But hardcore geeks will wet themselves.

Do any of you guys do songza? I abandoned it for a while because it didn't seem to play nice with my Mac, but things seem to be better now. The thing I like about it that I can't get from Pandora or Jango is that I can listen to the song I want when I want to. Anyway, see if you like it.

I figured out what was wrong with this blog. Not enough Nerf Herder. Although the lyrics don't address my particular feelings about Van Halen, I love the song.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Writing And Kutiman

The writing is going so-so. Only 19 hours in for the week so far. (For those of you who are wondering, I did brush my teeth today.) I had to get out of the house today because of a sore neck and cabin fever. I was going to try to come up with some new flash fiction today, but I was more interested in moving forward with my novel The Inner Workings of the Artificial Mind, AKA TIWOTAM. I finished a draft of Chapter 10 yesterday and sent it on to some readers and I wasn't ready to drop it there and move on, so I wrote another draft of Chapter 11 today and I'm on Chapter 12 right now. These aren't final drafts. As I've discussed in previous posts, I'm sending this one out to people chapter by chapter in a less than perfect state. It keeps me working on it, and they get to see it in a more raw form than they otherwise would.

Anyhow, I figured it was more important to keep up my momentum with a project I wanted to work on than to go in cold on something I thought I should work on and then fizzle out.

I finally wrestled Process Five to the ground! Woooooooo! It's visiting first readers and I'll have to make revisions once I get their feedback, but I finally feel I conquered that story. It took me years, honestly.

Steve Bickle turned me on to this yesterday. The site is http://thru-you.com/ but they've been down because of heavy traffic. No wonder. What Kutiman is doing there is awesome. He's taking other people's youtube videos and remixing them to make his own compositions. He's got all the credits for the original posters on his site. Sorry, I don't have them here. You can check out a couple of the songs right here. All the sounds you'll hear were made by the original posters. Enjoy!

The Mother of All Funk Chords:


I'm New:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Shoot For The Stars, Reach The Moon

My big plan was to get in forty-five hours of writing this week. I'm running a little behind at the moment, with just under fifteen hours in so far, but for me that's really good. I'm a "shoot for the stars, reach the moon" kind of guy and that's why I often set big and sometimes impossible goals for myself. Like tomorrow for instance, I'm planning to take over the world. If all I do is get my teeth brushed, I'm chalking that up as a win. Go, Me!

In other news, this is fucking awesome: http://thru-you.com/#/videos/1/

Monday, March 02, 2009

Cleaning Up

I'm at the nearly-done point in my revisions of the Process Five story where I scan for certain words or types of words and weed them out. Maybe someone out there will find this helpful. By this point I'm pretty happy with the story, All the parts are in place, I feel I've got the character development points in there, I've read through it aloud (an absolutely necessary step. Your brain can hear some problems that it can't see), and now it's down to the gritty. The nice thing is I can listen to music during this stage, which I can't in some other stages, like the reading aloud one.

Step one: Killing all of those unneeded "to be" verbs. "Is," "was," "were," "had been," and the like. Sometimes they're unavoidable. Many times they're not. Get those limp-ass verbs out of there. "The dog was sitting" leaves an extra barrier between the reader being at home and the reader being in the story. "The dog sat" makes it more immediate and drops one more barrier, bringing your reader a little closer. My story ran a little over 9,600 words four hours ago. It had 138 instances of the word "was." I took it down to 39.
From 39 "were"s down to 5.
From 83 "had"s down to 32.
And it truly does feel like weeding because you have to deal with each instance. One. By. One.

Step two: Then there are my favorite words, those that are unique to my manner of speaking and writing. Like the word "just." I use that way too much and it's not needed. I wrestled 21 of them down to 7. I got rid of a couple of "maybe"s but there weren't many at all in there, that's a good sign, I may not have to worry about that one in the future. The thing about writing, and I suppose it's the same deal in any other type of learning-while-doing effort, is that, although it make take years to learn something, once it's in there, you don't have to worry about it anymore. So my first drafts today look almost as good as my final drafts from twenty years ago. I took the word "look" from 19 to 10. "Still" from 12 to 5. "Only" from 22 to 10. "Seem" from 12 to 5. And because some of these are interchangeable in certain cases, fixing one problem exacerbates another. As in He was mad, He looked mad, He seemed mad. Killing a bunch of "just"s inevitably leads to birthing a couple of "only"s.

Step three: Seek and destroy adverbs and other weak words ending in the letter "y." Adverbs suck. If you use them, you can make your work a lot better by dropping them. He ran, is so much better than He ran quickly. No shit he ran quickly, that's what running is. If he ran slowly he didn't run. He jogged. "But you're just doing the same thing!" he said angrily. If the writer is writing properly, the reader already knows that guy is angry, he doesn't need to be told a second time by the writer. In fact, it's annoying and clunky and just don't do it. Those weak words ending in "y" are words like "really," "actually" and "very." These words are useless. Take them out and read it again. See? I told you. I cut out about 35 instances of these and adverbs.

I knocked out over four hundred words doing this.

Any of the above words are fine when used in dialogue. People say all sorts of stuff. When I edit, I'll often try to let only one character use a certain bad word. The verbal idiosyncrasy helps distinguish that character from the others and helps round out the character.

Sometimes you need a word. If so, keep it. But make sure you need it first. Sometimes you can just pull a word out and the sentence stands up fine. Sometimes you need a better word. Sometimes you have to rearrange the whole sentence to say what you meant before. When I do this, I alter the flow of my own words and bend my statements into better ways and sometimes odd ways and I arrive at a voice that isn't exactly my own. With each scan and replace for a certain word, I'm running the story through a filter and changing the feel of it, if only a little bit. After all of this is done, I've got a story that's a little stranger to me than I meant it to be and I like that. The most exciting thing about creation is making something good that you didn't expect. This makes me wonder about other filters I could apply to change the story in other ways.

I have no advice on commas. I feel I use far too many and I feel they're all necessary. Going on forty years, I'm still trying to figure out commas.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!


I'm on vacation this week and it will be like the song says except for all the fun stuff. It's a writing vacation. Wheeee! But seriously, this is the type of vacation I've wanted to take for years and haven't. I've taken a week off while everyone is in school and I plan to do a lot of writing. I'm shooting for about forty-five hours and that's probably more than I've ever done in a week, even including NaNoWriMo. It's not all actual writing, there's going to be an awful lot of revision, really. And I like revising a hell of a lot more than Mur Lafferty or Paolo Bacigalupi, I can tell you that. I'm finally going to have a draft of Process Five that I can show to first readers in a day or two. I'll probably take care of Fiction Crawler 6, do some work on my novel and who knows what else? It'll be a big nerdy good time. I'll celebrate on Saturday by seeing Watchmen with the former wife.

In Twitter news, I'm starting a question of the day. If you're on there and feel like answering, have at it. If you're not on there, get on there. You can find me on Twitter as upwithgravity. No, I am not disheartened by the fact that nobody answered my first question today. I posted it at an odd time and maybe it wasn't a very good question. These things take time to catch on.