Monday, December 27, 2010

Fuzzy Holidays



Wandering in the fields behind my parents house, the nameless cat called to them weakly. His cries were raspy and harsh, and he was hunkered in the underbrush, simply trying to survive the cold. His ears were already frostbitten, and he was obviously starving.

This is how we came upon the newest member of my family. He is a scrawny little tabby of about two years, and we have named him Randy after one of my favorite MMA fighters. Randy Couture has some major cauliflower ear, and being that his ears may never heal (the vet said that the tips will probably come off on their own) we thought it would be fitting.

Sometimes, if you squint, it looks like a fetus.

The first time I picked him up, I was startled by just how thin he really was. It was like picking up the bones after eating fried chicken. Needless to say, I have been giving him tuna with his cat food, and am helping him get rehydrated. Hopefully by new years, he will stop looking like a tearjerking picture in National Geographic.

After checking the neighborhood for lost cat posters, as well as a few local online boards in the lost and found section, it looks like Randy (I want his name to be Nog, for the same reasons, but it sounds more like an animal's name to me) will be staying with us. He is just about as cuddly as a cat can get, so there is a bit of infighting over whose house he will eventually land at.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On Rare Occasion

Just a month after her ninetieth birthday, Janet Graham passed away. I'm not sure if I ever called her by her real name. To me, she always was, and always will be "Mammy".

Today I sit here, only the third day of my life without my Grandmother. The third day after the world lost one of its greatest examples of sincerity, and of kindness. Without a doubt, she was the embodiment of The Greatest Generation; an icon of their enduring legacy, and an ironclad representation of the strongest women this nation has ever known.

I was going to post the whole eulogy on here, but I believe it may be a bit too personal for this site. I'll end saying that it is a very rare occasion when you find someone, who when they pass, not a single bad thing can be said about them. We love you Mammy. Rest well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Killing the Inner Pantser

I started writing this post as another long winded rant on how I am horribly inconsistant and so on. This blog has been inundated with bitching about that since it started, so I'm done with it.

With that being said, there are a few things that I am going to do. I will keep a better writing schedule. I will edit my damn book(s). I will make outlines work. I will also make this blog less mundane. 

I'm done giving into laziness and apathy; I've missed out on far too many thousands of words because of those two.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WIP: Giant Spiteful Machines

I've spent a little bit of time working for tech recycling companies in the past. Incidentally, I've worked for some crooked assholes at these centers too. A certain company in south denver, that shall remain nameless (hint, its the only Colorado company in the video), abused everything they were given, and often tried to sell it as gold. You really would not believe how terrible some of these places are as far as dirt, grunge, ethics, and EPA standards.

Well, abuse like this has gone on too long. No longer will these derelict computers sit idly on their shelves as illegal immigrants joust with forklifts. From the cords and towers, cracked screens and hardly spinning hard drives, a lumbering monster rises.

Mostly, I wanted to create a giant monster story. Partially because there is an anthology looking for submissions of this type, and also cause it sounded fun. I won't reveal all the details here though. For now, it is called "Obsolete Repercussions."

On a side note, of the three technology recycling centers I've worked for, two of them had excellent people. Our work relationships didn't work out in the end, but I don't regret any of the time I spent working in these places. To the other one, lets just say it is still fun to watch you squirm in a 60 Minutes expose.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Finding Markets

Currently, I have three short stories floating in submissionland, sitting in the inboxes of six markets. I made sure that they were all okay with simultaneous submissions beforehand, but it still feels like a slight breach of ettiquite to do more than one at a time.

When I am searching for a new market to sub to, I generally start at Duotrope. I also look at Ralan's site, but the layout irks me a little bit. Each Saturday I check their newsletter for possible new markets, as well as run through my list of 'favorite' markets. I have a very non-specific way of picking the markets I submit to, but this would be the general gist of it.

Presentation: Is this a market that I would be proud to have my work represented by? I like to look at the quality of the website and the publication itself. Places like Shock Totem or Apex Magazine inspire me to write, solely because I want to a part of something that is so gorgeous. If you haven't seen either of those magazines, check them out.

On the other hand, I am still surprised at how poorly designed some of the e-zines are. I thought we had moved past geocities style pages. The cover art and overall quality of many print magazines is just as bad. They aren't something I would want to have on my bookshelf. 

As a rule, I generally look for print anthologies and magazines first, then move on to the online markets.

Response Time: Perhaps it is wrong for me to complain about response times, as I know that many editors are entirely overwhelmed, but if a market averages more than 90 days, I will most often skip over it.  I can't shake this feeling that letting a short story sit for more than six months is blatantly rude, especially if they do not allow simultaneous submissions. Could it be that they are trying to weed out the writers like me? Possibly, but I doubt that the quality of their submissions is much greater for it.

There are of course exceptions to this, especially with Anthologies which have clearly stated reading periods. I understand that they are waiting until submissions are closed to make final decisions, and I am grateful that most communicate that.

Distribution: The reason I prefer print markets is simple; I like having something tangible to represent my work. The biggest problem with this, is that many print anthologies do not sell very well, and it will be a severely limited audience. Websites can make a great (and long lasting) way to promote my work. My upcoming publication in Short-Story.me will likely stay posted for the life of that website, and could refer readers back to this blog. If an anthology only sells 100 copies from a PoD site, then it is not expanding my readership by a whole lot.

There are of course more reasons why I will choose or reject a market, but these are the recurring themes I have noticed. Pay is a factor, but not as much as one would think. Very few people will ever make a living by selling just short stories, so I try to submit to markets that I personally like. If a free market has a decent following and a quality product, I would not mind going 4theLuv. This all will probably change over time, especially if my writing starts getting featured in the likes of Clarkesworld, but for now I will stick with my moderately challenging markets, and simply try to improve my writing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WIP: November Concessions

Before I start, I want to give a shout out to the significant, and oddly suspicious amount of French people that have visited this blog recently. Thanks for stopping by, but remember, I do have a longbow. You wouldn't want me to go all Battle of Agincourt.

I probably should have written this post yesterday. Procrastination has always been my strong suit.

I must admit utter defeat in my NaNoWriMo, and for getting enough writing done to equate to 1,000 words per day. I did get some work done, but when I hit a plot hole the size George Clooney's smug, it wrecked my plans. Augmented Genesis will be back, but it needs to sit for a little bit and work out some of its baggage.

Human Echoes found its way back into my life. for a long while, I thought I was going to shelf the project; call it a good first attempt but just practice. Human Echoes Mk III is now my official work in progress. I would say that this is about a 90 percent rewrite, and I am hoping it will lead to a nice little trilogy. I should stop saying that before I scare myself off out of doing it. I have a pretty significant issue with intimidation by a giant projects.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Minor Outburst

To anyone who follows me on Facebook or Twitter, I must apologize for the angry message I posted early this morning. It has been a long while since a flare up hurt me in such a way, and I should keep such things private. I do not wish to be viewed as someone who pisses and moans too often, especially over something I cannot change.

My frustrations with Ankylosing Spondylitis will continue. It is a lifelong affair for which I am just starting.   I need to remain grateful for the treatments that I currently receive, and remember that this pain used to be a nightly occurrence. I'm not sure how I used to sleep at all with it like that.

Thank you all for following me. And sorry to my roommates, who may or may not have been kept awake by random war shouts and cursing last night. In the words of Mrs. Bergeron, last night "was a doozy."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

America's fate put in capable hands

(Note: This was published in our local newspaper, The Coloradoan. I try to keep politics off of here, but since it made the paper, I might as well throw it up here for posterity's sake.)

In the most basic of terms, young people have had their future sold out. We watch as those in power continue to create wild and unimaginable levels of debt. We observe as the intolerances of past generations hold back the expansion of science and human achievement. The proliferation of entitlement, political correctness, and responsibility deflection has bestowed my generation with pragmatic problems that have only hard-fought and complex solutions.

Yet, we will find a way. I find myself surrounded by the strength of intelligent men and women, who have grown intolerant of the status quo. Great people who will rise when it is asked of them and who will take on the challenges this nation faces.

The time for short-handed and timid solutions is over, and though we will have to carry a burden placed on us by half a century of irresponsible policy and actions, we will overcome. We will succeed in our civic duty, both out of desire and necessity.

The luxuries afforded to the Baby Boomers will not be given to us. Our inheritance was spent along with our future. This generation will carve its own path, despite those whose sensibilities would have us falter.

We cannot fail and still have the America of our founders, the America that was made by the sweat of great men and the blood of generations of fallen heroes. Fear not for the fate of this country, it is being delivered into our capable hands.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Quiet Month

November has been a month of partial frustration and pseudo progress. I'm not really sure how else to describe it. This post might be a little bit spastic since i am covering several topics.

NaNoWriMo has forced me to write daily, but my chances of finishing at this point are pretty damn slim. If I don't finish, but breach 30,000 words, than I have hit my old monthly goal, and that would be a major victory. However, falling behind on my current WIP has given me a pretty terrible gut check. I feel guilty and ashamed about it, though I really should be grateful that I am writing and still like my story.

I might have to deal with being a 1,000 words a day kind of guy. Sure, I have my moments where I can pump out 4,000 words, but those are few and far between. I may not be as prolific as many authors out there, but if I can manage to be consistant, I think good things will come of it.

Editing is once again a primary concern. I need to find a writers group. I haven't received the feedback I need to grow as a writer, and at this point, I'm not sure where to find it.

Any suggestions on finding a group of willing editors would be appreciated. My google-fu isn't quite what it used to be.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Wheels Fell Off

If anyone has been paying attention to my NaNoWriMo stats, they would notice a major drop off that started about four days ago. Unfortunately, I fell into a plot trap, and got frustrated. Instead of trying to pull myself out, and just writing through it, I let it stagnate. Now I am on a five day plan to catch up, and the pressure is on.

This contest is most definitely not over. I am about 10,000 words behind, and will be working to get that back. I was behind by about the same amount last year, and was able to overcome the deficit. I technically work for the government, so I should know all about deficits.

As I was writing this, a few ideas have cropped up that will allow me to continue. Maybe just throwing my frustration down in a text format was all I needed to do all along.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Intimidating Tasks

Augmented Genesis is slowly chugging along, but other tasks are robbing me of my focus. I'm not talking about work or my home life, but the current state of this blog's namesake, Human Echoes.

I can honestly say that Human Echoes is a complete mess. A sprawling distraction that should probably be put out of its misery. I can't seem to do that, being that it was my first, and thus far, largest project. The idea of complete destructive revision has surfaced again, and I might not be able to stop it.

The plan as it stands right now, is to tear Human Echoes in half. To create a stand alone book of around 60,000 words using an altered plot from the first half of the book, and then to create the sequel. Being that I am the only one who has read the book so far, I doubt this really matters to anyone, but it might be the only way to save this novel. I even have a concept for a third book if it gets to that point. At this point, it seems like the stories would be much cleaner if they were separated.

I am encouraged by my will to produce, but still intimidated by the tasks ahead. Being a writer is a long and lonely path sometimes, and of course, the chances of success are low. I hope that my resolve will lead to better ends, both in my novels, and in the rest of my toils.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Talking Too Much

As my current WIP trots along, I have noticed something off about the characters; they talk way too damn much. I have written some pretty heavy dialogue work in the past, even a few short stories that were entirely in dialogue, but this might be getting out of hand.

I feel as though I am walking a fine line between characterization and info dump. They seem to speak naturally, which is a plus, but when is it too much? I have always hated in books when a conversation happens just to give awkward back story. It often seems lazy and unnecessary. I can't quite tell yet if I have gone too far, but it might be something that needs addressing soon. I am going to try for a 10,000 word weekend while the story still feels hot. I will be able to tell much more on the other side.

Anyway, a quick status update on Augmented Genesis:

7,075 words and rising
Characters killed: 0
Suns exploding: 0
Mountain Dew Consumption: Moderate
Currently Playing: Jedi Mind Tricks - Uncommon Valor

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo Thoughts

I have noticed that most of the serious writers I follow have a problem with NaNoWriMo. It is strange to see that they are seriously condemning participation. I'm pretty sure its the stigma of a lot of wanna-be writers slapping together a 50,000+ word manuscript and sending it out to agents. I'm not sure what is so threatening about that, considering they will all get form rejections anyway.

For me, it is about forcing myself to settle down and write a first draft. 1667 words a day is not a lofty number. Many authors, such as Stephen King, try to write around 2,000 words per day. If you can push that a little bit, and end up with a decent first draft of around 70,000 in a month, then what could possibly be wrong with the program?

My experience with writing Human Echoes has taught me more about writing than any class or seminar. I'm still learning from it as I edit and revise it. It was my first novel, and what made me love writing again. If it wasn't for NaNoWriMo, I probably wouldn't have this blog, and I probably would have never developed some of the better writing habits that I have. I for sure wouldn't have a 400 page manuscript sitting on my desk.

Anyway, time to get back to Augmented Genesis. I am nearly on pace for the day, and am hoping to bank some words for the inevitable bad day. I did 2,300 words in a few short hours yesterday, and it was the best single session I have had in a few months. Good luck people, and if you are participating, let me know so I can follow you and your progress.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Business Time

Do you feel that? That slight pit of uncertainty, maybe even a bit of fear? That would be the last few minutes of Halloween, and October passing us by. The last few moments before a month of hard fought creation.

This will be my 4th year participating in NaNoWriMo. I am coming off of a victory last year, and hoping to start a trend. I love my plot, I love the energy, and most of all, I love the competition. I may someday be able to put 50,000 words or more together in a timely manner without peer pressure, but for now, it works.

Anyway, if you are on this blog, then there is a good chance that you will be taking the plunge with me, and I won't take any more of your time. Good luck.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

No Shave November

In an effort to increase my efficiency for NaNoWriMo, I will be skipping shaving until my first draft of Augmented Genesis is finished, or November is over. I may have to do a little bit of maintenance trimming in order to avoid looking half nuts. Especially since Halloween is the only time I can get away with scaring kids, especially in my school.

Will there be anyone joining me in No Shave November?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Odd Attention

So, news of my first publication made the rounds where I work, and in what seems terribly odd to me, I have been asked to guest speak as a “published author.” I split my time between two schools doing tech work, and members of each school have asked for me to do this, and for different grade levels.

Besides having only a very short time to prepare, I feel that the first one went pretty well. The 5th graders were attentive as I tried to tell them about pre-writing (which I hardly do) and the importance of prompt editing (yeah, like that happens). I hit on character sheets, and showed them how to outline Mort the cowardly Viking, which promptly turned into an assignment. I had them laughing a few times, and scored some points for my annual review. Good times were had.

I will be doing a few more sessions this quarter, and hopefully they will be a bit smoother. The teacher saved me a few times from running out of content with relevant questions. Without her I would have stumbled into a stuttering mess of wasted time.

This is really all very weird to me though. Having a short story accepted, not even published yet, somehow makes me an expert at writing? I guess it makes some sense, but anyone who reads this blog knows that my mechanics are terrible, and that my content drags a bit. Either way, I feel a small and nagging pressure to write more due to this attention, maybe even a bit of pressure. It seems to be helping though.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Flash Fiction

Flat out, flash fiction is underrated. Each day, several stories are delivered to my RSS program (google reader), and I enjoy them in short breaks between work and other projects. At this time, I probably read more words weekly of flash fiction than I do novels and standard length short stories.

I haven't decided if this appreciation is a reflection of a short attention span.

When I first started writing, I thought that keeping a story under a 1,000 words would be much easier than writing full length fiction, but it really isn't. Other than the time of completion, everything else is harder, and every word is weighted. In a novel, I can meander a bit, really place a scenic image before driving into a story. With flash, its all content, a quick scene, and the readers imagination. Being concise can be an entirely different challenge.

The available format may be flash fiction's best feature, as it is comfortable to read on a computer or phone. Longer stories can often get tedious when scrolling or moving by hand. I find myself trying to find time to read longer short stories, often putting them off until I forget about them. With flash, I can usually push whatever I am working on back a few minutes, and simply finish.

Anyway, this post got a little long. I will try to make a short post soon of my favorite flash sites.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Waking Up to a Happy Inbox


So, it finally happened. It only took a few months longer than I expected (and by few, I mean almost a year), bur I finally have a story being published in a paying market. Zombies Have No Respect for Plumbing will be featured later this year at short-story.me.

I opened the email, happy that they responded quickly, but almost certain that it was another rejection. I already had three other markets lined up for this short, and had the emails saved as drafts pending the story being declined. Imagine my suprise when contingency markets weren't necessary.

I immediately grabbed Kelli and forced her to read the email, and proceeded to do the same with my roommates and friends. My hands were shaking my normally reserved personality gave way to excessive amounts of rapid babbling. After receiving months worth of rejections, it feels like a ton of pressure has been lifted. I know I still have a ton of work to do, but this is a wonderful confirmation that I am progressing as a writer.

Though it isn't official until this hits their website, I wanted to take a minute to thank short-story.me for the chance to write for them. I will update you all when the story is available in the near future.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The New Age of Short Fiction? Maybe.

This morning, Amazon announced a new mini e-book section called "Kindle Singles." They have requested well crafted stories, essays, and articles ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 words to be added to this new platform.

Now, I can't say that I am an author of any chapbooks currently, but I have recently bought a few. I enjoy being able to sit down and read an entire story in one sitting. I might even consider running with a few stories that seem to be of dubious length.

I can't shake the thought that this could be an excellent beta test for self publishing. Not just for me either. There are tons of authors out there who are sitting on novelas, and figure they will never sell due to the short length.

The implications of this could be far reaching in publishing. If a small name author were to publish a novella, and say it sells a few thousand copies, it would most certainly help their chances of finding a mainstream publisher. It could also help make them a little bit of side money in the process.

I doubt I will get it done this month, but I may have an idea that would work for this. If I send a story out, I will report my experience.

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On an odd side note, my blog and NaNoWriMo story have been mentioned on a site about synthetic biology. Though this is a major theme in my next story, I am really not sure what to think of this attention. I was asked to write a synopsis (Oh how I hate doing this, especially before writing a story) and provide a link to this blog.

Check it out here: http://2010.igem.org/Team:British_Columbia/HP_nanowrimo

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Permanent Choice

Nothing stymies my creativity like reading agent’s blogs. Constantly I have read about the long odds of being published, about how being able to send out 400 query letters is just as important as the writing you are trying to sell. That quality writing is valued far less than marketability.

Quite frankly, it is enough to drive me away from the standard route of publishing. I haven’t made the decision yet, as it will probably be a permanent one if I do, but going indie is sounding like the most attractive option.

Being in control of my own project is a big part of the allure, as is making much more in profit per sale.

I’m not sure that zombies will be hot in two years, but by the time my book is ready to query, and if by chance an agent accepted it, then a publisher, the process before it hit print would take multiple years. With this, I can finish my novel, beta test it, rewrite and polish as many times as needed, and push my book out in a much more timely fashion.

If I listed my books at a 2.99 for an ebook, and made 70% profit, as are the rates on Amazon, I would earn more per sale than a 10.00 dollar book through a traditional publisher. In some cases, a whole lot more.

Also, I work full time, so an advance isn’t as necessary to me as others. From what I hear, the advances are becoming much more dismal as time goes on anyway. If I am not working, I can’t muster any new fiction. I’m not entirely sure why, but that has been covered in several blog posts.

The risks aren’t being ignored. Self-publishing a book that fails can destroy my long-term ability to find a publisher. From what the industry says, I might as well hang it up if a project doesn’t sell. Lord knows that I need help with editing, and they have professionals who could provide that.

The problem is, I’m not sure I could ever reach the long odds. Even if I write a book that would sell, it would most likely get passed over. Interns will reject stories over their morning coffee, agents and editors will never pull it out of their slush piles, and so on. I’m sure they are all well-meaning people, but trusting them with my future writing career does not seem like the right choice.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Anticipation

I realize now that waiting might be the hardest part of writing. I can control my output, at least to a point. I can control the quality of a query, or edit a short story thirty times, but I cannot control how editors receive my writing, or how long it takes them to respond.

I know that Duotrope's is not an exact science, but it has been very close to accurate so far. So now I sit, watching as the average response time for a rejection passes. Then I with heavy anticipation, I watch the average acceptance day pass. It has been a week since I saw that.

Now, as a new writer, I am unsure if this means that I am on the short list, if they are going to accept it, or if my email somehow got lost in the interwebz. I have checked my sent box and spam boxes a dozen times. Everything looks kosher from what I can tell. I formatted it to their specifications as well, so I doubt they flat out tossed it.

So now I sit here, waiting, and watching the pending submissions drop, and their rejection rate increase. Yet I am still in the queue, and creating a new record for response time, either by rejection (by about double their usual), or a few days by their acceptances.

I need to put it out of my mind, and if it hasn’t come in two weeks I should probably follow up. The anticipation is killing me though. At this point, I just want to know, win or lose what the answer is.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WIP Wednesday: A Side Project

The biggest thing I am working on fiction wise is editing Human Echoes. I ripped through a good portion of it yesterday. I can't shake the feeling that I am a horrible slacker for not doing it before now, but I can't focus on that.

I’m not sure if this is a business endeavor, or busy work, but I have been writing small articles on basic computer repair. I am sure there are other websites that have all of this information, and probably much more detailed, but it might help someone. It might also help the old adsense meter. Altruism is overrated.

Essentially I am putting a few tools of the trade out there, The simple things that can be disabled, tweaked, or modified in order to make your computer run faster. Also, there will be a little information about hardware installation and network setups.

My technical writing and blogging skills are at a pretty low level. I take much better care with my fiction, but with blogs always being so casual, I usually only give a quick edit and move on. A website like this could help sharpen those skills. As far as this blog goes, I need to work on my creativity a little bit, otherwise I am going to run out of post ideas.

I haven’t decided if I will have it be a standard website format or a blog. I should probably do both though.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

General Election Fun


Oh politics, how I won’t miss you after the 2nd. Before I can dismiss you for the better part of a year though, I must address a few of the issues in my community.

It seems that the people who draft new propositions do not want me to have a job. They have this harebrained scheme to lower property taxes, most specifically, the ones that relate to school funding. Proposition 60 in Colorado, along with 61, and 101, would effectively decimate the public school system.

“But Tony,” I hear you cry, “Why can’t they just cut costs and cope?”

Well, that would be because funding has been lowered for several consecutive years. Millions are being cut each term, and at this current moment, the school system is running fit and trim. I believe that the occasional budget crisis can help efficiency, but that crisis has already been festering for several years. Pay freezes and funding cuts have already hacked deeply into the various school districts, and these measures simply go too far.

The superintendant of the Thompson School District believes that 1 in every 7 jobs would have to be cut. Classroom sizes would increase substantially, some of which are already in the 30s. Several neighborhood schools may have to be shut down, at least, over the course of a few short years. This may or may not include my own schools and job, but I don’t like those odds.

In other words, cut waste where waste is apparent. School districts are notorious for making due with less, but the cuts can only go so deep. The substantial loss of jobs alone should merit a second look at the bill. Hundreds of teachers and staff across the state without work would sure help that ailing economy. If you are a Coloradoan, please vote no on Prop 60, 61, and 101.

Keep in mind that I am a conservative and am asking you to not cut taxes. That is how serious this is.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Preparing for NaNoWriMo


Yes, I very much realize that NaNoWriMo is still a month away. I also know that writing anything before 12:01 on the first of November is cheating. There is nothing that dictates we cannot work on preparation and outlines.

As I have stated before, Human Echoes was a fly be the seam of my pants style project. For my second novel, Augmented Genesis, I am going to try with a pretty stout outline. Stout is a relative term though, as I have seen some authors with detailed enough outlines that they can skip between chapters and write out of order. This will be more of a reminder to stay on track, and to keep the project within 80,000 or so words.

Also, for the entire month of October, I am trying to rebuild the lost 1,000 words a day habit. It simply vanished, poof, gone, for a very long time. If I can rebuild that, bumping the word count up to 1,667 should not be that difficult.

I am also reviewing a few new pieces of technology for this year. When I decide on which word processor I will use, there will undoubtedly be a post on it here. So far the winner is FocusWriter, which tries to eliminate all distractions. All I see when writing is white text on a black background, and it seems to help. I will need to test this for a bit longer before a formal endorsement. Evernote will also be a large part of this year’s project, but I already talked about that.

Is there anyone else out there that will be participating this year?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Wasteline Test


Often times, I feel like my writing is clunky. I worry that I have issues with flow and word choice.  I heard about The Wasteline Test last year while doing NaNoWriMo, and the test agreed with this assessment.

On my most recent WIP, which is finished by my standards, I was able to achieve the score above. I realize this test does not say a whole lot about my writing in general, but it’s nice to see considerable improvements.

You can find the test at: The Wasteline Test

On a side note, running this blog post through the test had terrible results. I have more work to do.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Evernote for Writing

I have never been all that organized, especially with my writing. Recently I have been looking through my old notebooks, the insides of which are scrawled top to bottom in a nearly illegible brick of sloppy script.

For the most part, I just worked through it. I felt that the end manuscript mattered so much more than the notes, and that a system was unnecessary. Then I found Evernote. For those of you that have been avoiding cloud computing for a while, it is a comprehensive note-taking program that can sync with your computer and phone. I use a Mac at work, a windows computer at home, and an Android phone, all of which sync perfectly.

For someone like me, who carries his phone to the ends of the earth (I went hiking around 12,000 feet with it not terribly long ago), it is beyond convenient to be able to create notes with such ease. The interface is simple to the point of idiot proof, and can be learned in a few minutes.

As I have stated in a few articles before, I am trying to do a better job of outlining. I want my next novel to be more concise, and to have a clearer idea of where it is going. Trying to trim a 105,000-word novel down to 80,000 isn’t an easy task, and hopefully this will save me some work. My outlines currently exist entirely in Evernote.

I still carry paper notebooks with me at all times, but at the end of each day, I try to transfer my notes into Evernote. It helps to clarify and reinforce the ideas I had, as well as dismiss the half-witted concepts that somehow find their way to my writing.

Either way, I would recommend it to writers, and anyone else who has to do a lot of note taking. My job requires most people to leave a path of sticky notes everywhere they go, and I was able to eliminate that. Not to sound like a shill, but I am now an avid user of this software.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Great Mumbling

Under most circumstances, I can prattle on about random subjects without trouble. I have been called Mr. Wikipedia because of this in the past, and the name made sense. This isn't to say that I entirely have the gift of gab, but I do believe I have my moments.

That is, until I start talking about my own writing. For some reason, when someone asks what my new novel is about, or how a short story is coming along, I freeze up. Normally coherent and clear thoughts turn to jelly, and I am left with descriptions that would make the average English speaker face palm.

I'm not really sure if this relates to confidence in my writing, or that I am feeling pressure to keep someone from thinking less of me as a writer.

Come to think of it, I have always had a problem writing synopses and descriptions of my work. Brevity was never a strong suit of mine. It is part of the reason why I am dreading doing queries, and why I have avoided submitting to certain markets. I would say that it is rather odd for an editor to ask for a description on a piece of flash fiction. That just seems lazy to me.

I will have to work on this. Queries are an essential part of publishing, and so are descriptions. I can't change that, but I can try to change habits. As far as speaking, I think I just need to talk about my work more often. Being in a new work environment invites the question much more often, so I will have chances to practice my descriptions.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Trends

I was notified the other day that my new sci-fi manuscript is hitting a new trend. It seems that the idea of implants and human enhancement are big topics in new sci-fi novels. I thought the idea had been around for a while, but several blogs have indicated that it is now a hot topic.

This would not be the first time this has happened. I started writing a zombie novel in a time where they are starting to overtake vampires in popularity. I didn’t intend to do this, at least not for simple publication reasons; I have just been a fan for a long time.

The question of originality starts to surface when I hear about these trends. I feel like I have written ideas that on their own are original, but are still parts of long standing genres. At minimum, a new take on an old subject. I don’t want my work to be looked at as following sales trends, but so far I am two for two on manuscripts.

It also worries me, that with how fast this industry changes, that people may burn out on these topics before my books get a chance. I don’t want editors slapping a moratorium on zombie based novels simply because it was a fad running its course. I want them to read it and judge the story itself. I also worry that with the length of time it takes before a book gets published, that my novels could fall into obscurity if they did make it out into the world. If Zombies were no longer a hot topic, and my book were to fail, I wonder what sort of impact it would have on me as a writer.

Of course, there is always the option of self-publishing. I could have my book ready somewhat quickly, and avoid the long wait times. There is a pretty clear question of credibility and quality in self-publishing, but I will bridge that gap when I get there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

WIP Wednesday: In The Mist

Anyone who knows me very could tell you about my love for Vikings. Those fuzzy mountains of men, the type who drank mead, plundered European countryside’s, and often made habitual public coitus, hold a special place in my view of manliness. I bet you they never even knew how to use a straw or what a scarf is. I can even like the Minnesota kind so long as they aren’t playing the Broncos.

Anyway, my current short story is about a pale American man whose Viking ancestry is awoken when his Mother-in-Law and her red Cadillac come to town. Will he have to slay the beast? Will he make public whoopee in front of a rent-a-cop? Who knows, only one thing is certain; she always comes in the mist.

(P.S. I know it sounds lame, give me a break, I need something to drive my word count.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mondays Suck

Oy. Some of these mornings hurt.

Waking up as the sun is rising should feel more rewarding. Watching the orange rays breach through puffs of wispy clouds usually feels like an accomplishment, at least, after my morning Monster.

Only those weren’t clouds this morning.

The scent that faintly greeted me this morning was that of a morning campfire. I immediately wanted marshmallows and a tin cup filled with rum. Then I remembered that it wasn’t a campfire, but a valley in the next town over. A late season fire had started, and containment is nowhere in sight.

When I got to work, the smoke was so bad that it felt like a Viking fog had rolled into the parking lot. My eyes watered and turned bloodshot, and the air felt acrid in my lungs. Children with asthma were already being sent home, though most lived in the same neighborhood so their symptoms would remain. I thought it was terrible until a coworker was talking about their friend’s house being in the immediate path of the flames.

My Monday is just fine compared to theirs. I wish them the best, and same to the firefighters working to put it out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Projects on Projects

It really is amazing what happens when you refuse to look at your backlog for a little while. There is an oddly terrifying and sometimes growing pile of perfectly bleached office paper on a table next to my desk. It is filled with stories that all lack that a finished shine they deserve.

Following through with projects has always been a weak point of mine. I started another book before really editing my last one. I have written four short stories in the time it took me to edit a single one. I would say that is starting to look like a trend. This weekend I am hoping to look over Human Echoes for a while, and maybe a few short stories as well.

Not having stories to submit isn’t the only problem that comes from this. I’m really starting to see that I have hit a small plateau with my writing ability. Though my story crafting seems to be coming around, my previous lack of editing has hindered me. I haven’t taken the time to look over my mistakes to learn from them, I simply kept treading forward, adding to my own ignored slushpile. Besides, it will help my confidence immensely to have four or five stories being looked over by editors rather than just the one.

One last little note on here. I am debating saving my sci-fi story for NaNoWriMo, and working on Human Echoes till then. I know this is what I should probably do, but not writing when I have an idea seems really odd.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Refreshing

I may have stumbled upon something awesome. I know I have spoken about new jobs before on this blog, but so far, this has been the best I have ever had. No, its not only because I have summers off (although that is a major perk), or that for the first time in my life my work will cover my nearly uninsurable ass. It is that I already feel valued, and that has been hard to come by in my previous jobs.

I’m not sure what it is like for other writers, but when I am not working, I have a hard time writing. I sit at the computer and stare, knowing that I should be desperately seeking work, or trying to come up with some creative way to make rent. Generally, it stifles any creativity I have. Having work also helps to keep me on stricter time schedules, so I cannot just put off writing if I want to get anything done.

With that said, I need to get back to about four stories that have been sitting on the editing block for a while. I think that should be my first priority before I generate a whole lot of new content. Writing the story has always been the fun part, revising, well, that gets put off for a bit too long.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Obvious Recommendation

I haven't really taken the time to reccomend anything on here just yet, but a few months ago, I was introduced to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I read both books in less than 72 hours, and have anticipated the release of the third book, Mockingjay, since that time. If you haven't picked this series up yet, I would highly suggest it.

I just downloaded it to my Nook, and am looking forward to many uninterrupted hours of reading.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Wow, this is my first WIP progress post since March 24th. I’ve been a bad blogger as of late.

Although no actual writing has started with my new novel, I have been making some pretty thorough outlines. The last novel I wrote (Human Echoes) was completely finished without the aid of an outline or pre-planning. I just sort of ran with it. In some ways, I really liked the result, but I feel that it may have meandered a bit. I need to work on being more concise, instead of writing scenes with characters until something actually happens.

I somehow doubt I will ever be the type of writer that can write chapters out of sequence based on their outline. I have met a few that can do that, but I prefer a more linear approach. That isn’t to say my stories are a straight line start to finish, but I write in the order I wish details to be revealed.

The current novel has been renamed to Augmented Genesis. It is a sci-fi story taking place in the not so distant future. This is my first attempt at a sci-fi novel, and creating the technology is very entertaining. The basic premise is that people have adapted implants into their bodies, merging flesh with biology. The world they perceive is covered with overlays of information, advertisements, and anything they may need or want for work.

I guess that is more of a setting. I really don’t care to get a whole lot deeper into the conflict on my blog’s description until it is actually in progress.

Also, is there anyone else out there who feels like outlining is procrastinating? Maybe I am just impatient to start, but spending time on the details instead of winging it just feels strange. I think writing a few books with different strategies will be the best way to determine my favorite method though, so I am not giving up on the new format.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Road to Recovery

Words are starting to hit the screen again, and though they may not be as numerous in the past, I am grateful. I lost a few months of progress, which is unacceptable, but I can’t linger on that fact. I just have to reestablish the good writing habits I was starting to pick up. Oh yeah, and I should also keep editing my damn book.

Even a rejection letter that I was hit with yesterday did not deter me. I was almost happy to receive it since it gave me real feedback on the story, and not a simple “Almost, but not quite” or form rejection. Thanks to Necrotic Tissue for doing that; I will have to sub with them again someday.

I have wondered recently if other authors get a bit defiant like I do in the face of rejection. A feeling where you want to send the same magazine more of your work immediately just to prove that it is worthy of publication. Anyone out there care to comment?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Small Steps


Sometimes it is hard for me to tell which hit me harder in the past few months, lethargy or apathy. It’s been months since I have felt energetic enough to do anything other than work. It’s been even longer since I forced myself to care about word count goals and the like. I fell into an old groove of work, social interaction, and sleep. I wasn’t allowing myself to find time for writing.

Over the past few weeks, I started feeling guilty about not writing. It felt as though I were letting another dream pass away simply out of laziness. I decided to reorganize and try this all again, starting with editing. I currently have 3 short stories going out for submissions that have never been seen before, and I have started putting many more ideas down on paper.

Another bit of motivation came from having my beta readers’ reaction to my newest story, Sublimation of Souls. I finished the first draft in March, but it sat buried on my hard drive until recently. I have never had better comments or reception from my previous works, now to just find it a home.

Anyway, I am hoping to get back into the swing of writing consistently, and updating this blog more often. It almost has 1,000 hits, and I hope to break through that soon.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Purposeful Life

I often question the meaning of my actions, and more specifically the consequences they create. I want to believe that I will leave a lasting impression; one that will stick with a person beyond their interactions with me. This is just one of the many reasons why I write.

Thinking like this can get quite troublesome though. It makes menial work harder to deal with, and can be quite exhausting. The mundane becomes almost intolerable when you seek greater understanding of the world around you. I have fallen into this trap before, and I lost a lot of time fighting with it.

The truth is, at least at my age, is that most jobs are devoid of actual meaning. I am not creating anything terribly original, nor am I enriching the lives of others through my work. I refurbish laptops. I save them from the junk heap for a few more years of service. While this might be environmentally admirable, it isn’t helping me grow as a person.

In my current situation, I can only derive purpose from the relationships I have with close friends, and through my writing. I’ll never be able to touch the lives of others through athletics or feats of grandiose intellectualism, but maybe I can craft a story that will leave someone breathless. Perhaps I can create a novel or tale that alters a stranger’s life from that moment forward. I know it has happened to me, and I am just hoping to give a little back.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Electric Worry

I’m starting to think I need to tone down my information intake. I know as a writer that this probably sounds strange, but I am too connected. Currently, my phone delivers every facebook and twitter status update that crosses my account, as well as lining up dozens of RSS feeds. At all hours of the day, I am bombarded with information, and it drowns out the crucial silence that is needed for ideas to brew.

We live in a society so inundated with useless blips of data that it devalues crucial information. Inspiration is buried under the tedium of 5,000 posts about what celebrities are having for breakfast. My day isn’t made better by knowing a friend got hammered this weekend, nor is depth added to my friendships by reading the 30th straight post about how awful Colorado’s spring time weather is. I am an astute observer. I know it just snowed 14 inches. Get a truck, and get over it.

The only problem with all this is that I am a hypocrite. I am not in a position to shun social networking, and in fact, I am complaining about it over a rather large social network. I will say that I think it is time for me to shut out some of the noise. Maybe get rid of a few of my phones features, and not be informed of every goings on in my circle of friends. Maybe I should also stop reading blogs for literary agents. Not only are they demoralizing, but most are pretty smug. They for sure aren’t helping me write.

I want to get back a little bit of serenity, even if it is the type that comes with waking up to the smell of coffee rather than the pulsing of electronic input.

Monday, May 10, 2010

In Lieu of Inspiration


As my recent post count suggests, I have been tied up with work and school. Along with this, inspiration for new stories, as well as the will to force writing has been lacking. I decided it was time to try something new. I hadn’t yet started revising and editing my book, mostly out of fear I will be disappointed with its content, but now I feel I am ready to start.

I suppose I should apologize to a few trees, the little checkbox that prints on both sides of the paper evaded me. Just seeing this tome printed out is enough to get me excited about it again. I have too long kept my writing entirely digital. I think having a physical copy makes me better appreciate the work that went into it, and the waste it would be if I never really finished it. So, wish me luck. I have many hours with a red pen ahead of me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Taste of Burning Hot Fail

I’ve neglected all four of you who read this, and I’m sorry for that. A mix of new job, a dab of school, and a lot of procrastination are to blame. Either way, I’m still here and still attempting to write. I have been greatly discouraged though, and the writing has not come easily.

Anyway, I’m going to keep this short. I will be doing more updates and posts soon. Don’t quite look at this poorly designed blog as dead yet.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Trying the Nook



Well, it seems as though every writing blog out there has at least one entry on the subject of e-readers, so I might as well join in. A Nook has found its way into my home, and to be honest, I dig it. I really can’t understand why writers seem to be so afraid of new technology. The paper press industry isn’t going away for a long while anyway. Every other industry is modernizing, and the fact that we can blog about changes like e-books proves that we are adapting as well. This is simply the next step.

For starters, my house is terribly cluttered. I do love my books, and how magnificent they look on the shelf, but if that collection keeps growing, I might find myself assembling fiberboard bookcases until I run out of wall space. Being at an age where I move constantly, being able to store an entire collection of books on a chip smaller than a penny also appeals to me.

Perhaps the biggest reason I like it so far is purely an issue of my own. I like to read in bed, lying on my side, and I fumble with books in this position. Having the Nook has made for a really solid and simple way for me to read from here.

The next reason why I think writers should embrace this format is the inherit trait of human laziness. I know it doesn’t affect everyone, but I have found myself doing more impulse buying with the Nook. Not having to go anywhere to walk away with a stack of books for significantly cheaper is quite alluring.

Now, all of this doesn’t mean I am going to stop buying physical books or that I will stop being a patron of local bookstores. I simply find myself buying the books I would not have before. I have a major problem paying more than 15 dollars for any book, and thankfully this solves that problem. I know I will catch some flak for that last sentence, but hey, I’m not wealthy enough to buy a stack of premium hard backed books on a whim. I’m also a tech junkie, so let me continue to drool over my newest android based toy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Renewal

Well, the March Report isn’t going to happen. I’d be a bit too ashamed to post those numbers. I am using this as an opportunity to start fresh and new, since I apparently dropped the ball and my writing habit almost entirely last month.

It is going to get quite busy though. I am starting a new job next week, one that I can only assume will be hectic, and not allow for any writing while at work. This is both good and bad. I find when my hands are busy I come up with the very best ideas. It’s when I am sitting at home trying to make words come out of nothing, which is when it all falls flat. It must be something to do with better understanding the human condition, or maybe escapism. Either way, I look forward to the new challenge.

It has also come to my attention that I am still looking for my first short story publication. This is a little unnerving considering I have been trying for three months, but I think I know why. I simply need more lines in the water. I have three short stories and a book that all need editing. Once those four hit the world, I will be receiving rejections at record breaking speeds, and then hopefully a couple will find homes.

Just so I can clarify this to myself, I am reestablishing my writing goals for the month of April:

1. Write 1,000 words a day minimum. Same as always.
2. Write in the morning before distractions tear me away from the keyboard.
3. Stumble Upon must not be pressed, unless I have hit at least 500 words. Even then, I must try not to. That little toolbar is destroying my productivity.
4. Try to get at least 30 minutes of editing in every day. Preferably more.
5. Read more.

Perhaps it is a bit much with my current schedule, but I think it will be doable. I have no real valid excuses for falling behind, but here is too a much better spring.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Coping With Doubt

If I had to pick the worst of my flaws, I could honestly say it begins and ends with doubt. This isn’t to say that my other flaws are trivial, but this particular one has plagued me for as long as I can remember.

In the past, I have blogged about fear holding people back. That they might fail, or sometimes, the greater fear lies with success. That is a major factor in doubt, but it isn’t fear in the Paranormal Activity sort of way. It is the belief that my work isn’t good enough. I doubt often that I am a great enough writer to find a living in this industry, or that my stories aren’t creative or original enough. In some cases this might be true, but that arguing notion of doubt is what keeps me from growing as an author or as a person.

It grips me in fits of apathy, in mindless bouts of writers block, and in excessive procrastination. It is the reason why I have multiple short stories sitting idly in a folder, unedited and unsubmitted. It is why I look at the massive manuscript for Human Echoes, afraid to tear into its pages with a red pen and a clear mind.

As far as dealing with doubt, I have not found a clear way to get past it. I have proven my uncertainties wrong on numerous occasions, and prevailed when I believed I would falter. The fact that I have a manuscript to edit is a testament to this, but now I must find the resolve to keep going; to not squander these countless hours, and to seek out the conclusion to my own story.

I would like to apologize if any of this sounds cliché, but I needed an outlet to review the problem. Due to the public nature of this forum, it may not be the greatest venue, but I know I cannot be the only one that deals with doubt frequently.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Wow, already on the last week of March and I am nowhere near where I should be. I will be lucky to break fifty percent of my writing goals for the month. As far as streaks go, I haven’t been able to write more than 500 words for about 21 days. This has been a pretty terrible streak, and it has brought me out of the habit of writing daily. I worked pretty hard to make that a habit over the past few months, and I really hope I can get back to it. I will be focusing on just hitting daily goals over the next few weeks, even if the content isn’t quite up to my standards.

Thankfully, last night I ran across an idea that I was able to run with. It is teetering between flash and a standard length short story at the moment, and is called Sublimation of Souls. Of course my understanding of sublimation being rudimentary at best, I may need to change the title. I would provide an excerpt, but it is still a bit too raw, and I am not sure what will be included.

Along with this, I am working on a few outlines for my next novel idea. It would be nice to have such a large scale project again to eat up my daily word count goals. I have three short stories and a novel to edit as well though, so I am not entirely sure what to expect of my April word counts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Desperately Seeking Words

I have had a few slumps since I started writing again, but usually they were countered with good ideas or simply being busy. This time, I have no excuses; I just simply cannot seem to find the words or the stories. It has been ten days since I have written more than a few sentences. Quite frankly, it’s getting exhausting.

Maybe there isn’t enough conflict in my life right now. Not enough bitterness and anger to work with. I always write better when I am busy and having to fit it in short bursts. Right now I have entirely too much time to sit and stare at that damned blinking cursor.

A short story acceptance would be good too, random editors who have my work, I’m looking at you! A small victory right now would get me motivated again, or at least thinking of new stories. Even writing a 200 word blog post is painful right now.

If you will all excuse me, I’m going to go on a five episode binge of Breaking Bad until something comes to me. That show is excellent by the way; I would recommend it to anyone reading this blog. Maybe the death professor has something for me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Comfort


If there is a singular problem with people today, especially Americans, is that we continuously confine ourselves in what we know. The unyielding spirit and the need to explore have been relegated to brief moments of our childhood. We aren’t taught to endure, to persist beyond the pain and heartache of our trials. We are specifically taught to fear the tribulations of our time. To let someone else take care of it so we can park in front of the TV.

Quite frankly, the concession of our dreams to comfort is unacceptable. The security of what we know tempts us with submission. If we are to move forward as people, as a species, then we must overcome our own fears. We need to challenge the beliefs of others, as well as our own. We need to build a foundation of character if we are to advance. To strike down apathy based on the fear of the unknown.

How my generation fits in with the annals of American history remains to be seen. I hope that we can find our own identity. That we can find solutions to the problems other generations have given up on fixing. To be proud of the product of our toils, as well as the sweat and labor it took to get there.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

An Important Reminder on Heroes


(Thank you sherdog.com for the image)

"This is what you call a one shot deal and I don't come back for any late show, honey. No I have not practiced the jump, because there is no use practicing something you cannot miss, and if I miss the jump in a test run that means I'm dead and I will not ever get to do it for real, so this is what you call a fucking one shot deal. This helmet is to protect me from my own momentum; this costume is to protect you from the realness of what is happening here. I am calling on death, and she comes growling and snapping into the arena opens her jaws up wide on both sides of my landing ramp, gasoline, throttle, thumbs up, open her up, let the arrow fly, and tear into the fabric of an instant. Where you can live an entire lifetime in the stardusted flashbulb infinity of a launch into impossible space that climbs to the top of its arc and beats the sky back another inch. Only to crumble and collapse, only to fall and return to the earth with no illusions of immortality and pay the cost of dreaming." – B. Dolan “The Skycycle Blues”


Sometimes an individual moment of defeat stretches past the few moments of its climax. A single fight, the fifteen potential minutes wrapped in the cage under the crowd chanting your name, praying for magic. They howl and shout, begging for that old left hand to find pay dirt. To find that miracle, that glimmer of hope, that surge in your heart that means so much more than the violence inflicted.

Only it never comes. The hero, the legend, the simple man, gets dragged to the mat. The choke sinks, and like our champion on the ground, the air starts to leave the crowd. The uproar falls away to the sound of tapping and announcers pretending they are pleased with the performance.

I sit in the comfort of my home, watching a man pour his soul into the microphone. His tears ebb slowly, as the fighter tells us that he can’t hurt us like this any longer. He apologizes to us, even though his heartbreak is shown on his battered face. The fans, who venture nothing, and suffer only by sharing the dying dream of this man, cheer mournfully.

In victory, even his opponent gives into emotion. He struck the deathblow to his idol’s career, and no one could really blame him for it. Mixed Martial Arts isn’t a place for mercy or compassion.

Jens Pulver, you are still a hero to me. Your life has been one of constant struggle. Each day you have faced adversity in multiples beyond what I could endure. I hope someday we can see you get your hand raised in victory one last time. To see that warrior spirit flourish, and for that evil left hand to find dominion in the ring. Good luck.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Editing Troubles


Lately, I have actually been getting a little bit of work done. The first draft of Human Echoes is finished, though I have already decided to enact some major changes. I have two short stories waiting to be edited as well. The problem I have now is with proofreading.

I can usually give myself an honest assessment on the quality of my writing, but finding an impartial opinion as of late has been ridiculously difficult. Most of my friends will simply tell me “I liked it.” Which is of course, great, but I feel that these final drafts are not as polished as they should be. I need a few harsh critics. People that aren’t afraid to hurt my feelings if need be. I would be glad to read over their work as well.

Where do most beginning writers find stiff critiques? Is it usually in some local writing circle? I have been avoiding the one in my city because of the outrageous monthly fees. Do you go to online forums? Should I beg old teachers and professors? If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Wonders of Auto Save


My dear and ever faithful computer is becoming very ill. I’m not sure exactly what the problem is yet, but my instincts are telling me that this might be hardware related. I’ve had this one since my junior year of high school. Yet I have kept it in great working order. I have not encountered a game it wouldn’t play or a program that it wouldn’t run. I named it Radamus Crunk, successor to Cornelius Funk, and partner to Thalonious Monk, my laptop.

The reasons this pain me are many, the first being that I simply can’t afford a new tower to my specifications. That is of course worst case scenario, but it does not seem entirely out of the question. The second is that I always become very fond of my electronics. When you spend so much time working with them, they become less a reliable tool and more an essential fixture in your everyday life. Maybe it’s just me, but does anyone else feel that way?

This brings me to my next point. The auto save feature just kept me from losing nearly 2500 words. I realize this isn’t the largest number, but when you are just breaking through a fit of writers block, it is quite substantial. I can only imagine what it would have done to my morale if MS Word hadn’t saved my progress. Thanks Microsoft. We have a love hate relationship at times, but you had my back this time.

I don’t intend to let Radamus go quietly. I will don my latex gloves and static strap, and begin my work. We’ll get through this together old buddy, and if you don’t make it, at least half of you will find a new home. Thankfully, you don’t need a donor card for that.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The February Report



Pathetic Dachshund wishes you all a Happy Valentines, Presidents, and various other arbitrary holidays Day. Now that February is over, maybe we can all get some work done.

Looking over these numbers, I have to say that I am once again disappointed in my efforts. I allowed a few writing funks that I got into to get in the way of progress. I told myself I would make it up in the past few days, but actually got caught up in reading. I finished both of The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins over the past 72 hours. That sort of obliterated my writing time, but I was very happy to find myself lost in a story again. It had been far too long since I holed myself up and powered through a couple of books.

On the year, I am more than 10,000 words behind. I need a good month to start making up on that number, but I will try to get back to completing my daily goals. I also really need to finish Human Echoes so I can start cutting it down. It has sprawled to nearly 100,000 words on its own. Considering the genre averages, I think I might need to take it down to around 80,000.

Does anyone else near obsessively track their word counts? I only have one spreadsheet right now for everything, but I feel like I should be generating a few more for individual stat breakdowns.

Here’s to a better March.

For the month of February:

Monthly Goal: 28,000
Words Written: 22,000
Words Over/Under: -6,000
Percentage: 78% of goal completed

Writing Breakdown:

Human Echoes: 16,782
Delectable Cruelty: 1,239
Untitled Short: 1,331
This Blog: 2,571

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Need a Fix...


It’s been many weeks, far more than I would like to see since I had it. My miracle drug, the one that takes the pain away, and leaves me bright eyed and bushy tailed. Right now I am a huddled mess, my hair feels like it is falling out, and sleep eludes me. War cries emanate from my room like some medieval warrior falling upon a pike, and the quality of my work suffers. This shit has got to stop.

While I am sure this will be talked about at length over the existence of this blog, I haven’t spoken about a subject that I have become pretty intimate with: Ankylosing spondylitis. I have been diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition, in which my immune system attacks the joints of the spine, slowly causing them to fuse. Over a long enough time, each vertebrae will fuse into the next, taking the flexibility out of my back. In the short term, it causes inflammation between each joint, which results in chronic and quite debilitating pain.

The one counter that I have found to alleviate this pain costs in the neighborhood of $1500 to $1700 dollars per month, and is an injection called Enbrel. Naturally, the disease has made me uninsurable, which leads me to the shortage I am now experiencing.

Forgive me readers, I do not mean to complain, but these issues have weighed on my mind recently, and I thought I would take a moment to enlighten everyone about it. The disease itself is an intensely personal struggle, and for the most part, I keep it private. My journals overflow with details about these struggles, but with how constant the pain has been in recent weeks, I simply wanted to get it in the open.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Using Word Sprints


In the past week, as many of my last few posts have pointed out, I hit a sort of minor writers block. I was allowing myself to get distracted, and my focus was all but gone. Some of this related to being in a funk over my job, but I would peg the bulk of it on simply being unmotivated. I needed a jump start; one that copious amounts of coffee and reading failed to provide. I resorted to word sprints.

This is a tactic I picked up on during NaNoWriMo this past November. Essentially, you set a timer, and for that interval, you aren’t allowed to alt tab, pick up your phone, read your RSS feeds, etc. I know it is a fairly simple concept, but it works for me. Fifteen minute bursts have gotten me back on track, and I am meeting my daily word goals in less time.

My biggest concern with this strategy is the quality of work. Many people during NaNoWriMo would engage in word wars, where the specific goal was to type more than the other person, regardless of quality. I am trying to find a middle ground, as I am keeping track of how much I type, and setting goals, but also trying to maintain a level of acceptable writing. I am afraid that it will make for much more intensive editing, but being able to find a slew of words is helping me get past that blockage. It’s pretty much Drano for my writing brain.

Before I make this a permanent fixture, I plan to run a few short stories using only the sprinting method. If the quality of the writing is not up to my standards after a few attempts, then I will strictly use it on those distraction clogged days.

On another note, if I had an egg timer, it would most certainly get swallowed in the black hole that is my desk. To keep things uncluttered I have been using http://e.ggtimer.com/.
 
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