Strangeness

Lisa sent me this under the subject header Almost a Darwin Award Winner.

progress:

My original thought was that I would do a couple short stories next, but instead I’m finding my mind wants to concentrate on a novel I’ve been thinking about for some time. So that’s what I’ve let myself do the past few days. Now I’m three pseudo-chapters in and having a little fun, which is good.

I’m calling them pseudo-chapters because I’m not thinking about the words I’m writing right now as if they are actually part of the story. Instead, this is pure discovery writing. I’m letting things flow and seeing what happens, and every now and again I stop and jot some bigger plot ideas down as I go. This isn’t even a draft. It’s a thought exercise. In this way I’ve found myself stretching the story out a little.

Isn’t creativity strange?

Star Trek Bonus

My buddy and occasional collaborator John Bodin sent me this link and its associated two minutes of fun!

Focus

I’ve been suffering a bit of a post-project malaise the past two days. I was so focused on getting these two books ready that my brain is having a hard time disconnecting. I admit the day job job is taking a lot of cycles, too. It’s a busy time all around.

Focus, Ron. Focus.

I did manage a few words on another project–and they’ll all add us eventually, right?

The fact is, though, that when you’ve been into something deeply the brain does sometimes take a little while to fully change gears. In that light, here’s a fluffy piece of science reporting that suggests that all us writer-types may be in for a rude awakening more rapidly than some of us would like to think.

Personally, I’m not worried about the ebook idea itself. I think people will always want stories–and, in fact, I think the idea of shorter novels is fantastic. I loved the old short 50-60K books that you could sit down and read in a day and still have a little time left over. I think there’s some likelihood that stories delivered on bits and bytes may eventually reduce the need to see a big-ol’ book spine on the shelf, hence liberating the short novel once again.

Hey, it’s as good of a dream as any.

What I don’t like about ebooks and ebook readers today has everything to do with the need to play with formats. It’s not hard to click a few buttons and get your material into the format of your choice, but it’s annoying and the format conversions are not always so glorious.

Reading something should never be annoying.

The B-52s, China, and Other Messing Around

I was pretty tired this morning, so I put the B-52s on my iTunes. I did this because it is impossible to be lethargic when the B-52s are playing. I mean, you have to be seriously dead in the head to listen to their music and not at least get a little toe-tapping going, right? Then the head bobs just a little–enough to be cool, but not so much that you’ll look dorky if the government surveillance systems flying in geosynchronous orbit right over your house catch you and they post it to You-Tube. Not that you should be paranoid or anything.

It’s okay. Really, it is.

Anyway, I was up earlier this morning speaking to folks from China, which is pretty cool from about a hundred angles when you think about it a little. When I first started working, the idea that I would ever have collaborated productively with people in China would have completely boggled the mind. Now the idea of NOT doing so is passé.

The rest of this morning was about listening to the B-52s while finishing up bits and pieces that I’ve left to fall into the cracks as I was pressing to finish the last novel rewrite (which is now officially done for good–I think [grin]). This means I’ve put a submission together, and put my desktop back into something that resembles order. I updated some of my status files regarding submissions and whatnot.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’ve been busy all morning.

Radio Paradise

Pretty much all day Lisa and I have been listening to Radio Paradise, an internet radio station. This is not unusual for us, in fact I would say most of our Saturdays and Sundays provide for a serious amount of RP time. It’s a nice little, truly independent, listener-supported station with a really eclectic playlist.

Give it a try for a bit. See what you think.

What have you got to lose?

Progress: I think I’ve about wrestled phase II of the light rewrite to the ground. Down to the last fifteen pages, which I hope to finish tomorrow AM. I’ve also received and responded to the back-cover copy of Picasso’s Cat & Other Stories. So it’s been a bit busy.

BTW … I already posted this on FB, but I happened to see someone has a copy of Dragon #140 available on E-bay, which comes complete with fiction by lil’ ol’ me.

Light Rewrite: Phase II

If you’re not interested in the meanderings of story creation, then today’s notes are probably not for you. Sorry about that.

With that warning …

I spent part of the past few day’s thinking about “Gene Splice” and the overall purpose of the story. I think it holds together pretty well, but for some reason I still felt it wasn’t quite where it should be. Tuesday I think I came to the understanding of why I felt that was the case.

So, to make a long story short, I’m back to another small rewrite.

The fact was that I felt like I needed to amp up the main character’s changes over the course of the story. They were all there in my last effort, but upon reflection I worried they weren’t strong enough for someone who wasn’t me!

So yesterday I took a mental scan through the entire plot line, and identified five areas the I felt I could make prudent changes that would make this element shine.

This morning, I dealt with two of those five.

It’s going to cost me about a week, but it’s worth it.

A Few Odds And Ends …

First, I’m totally diggin’ Vera Nazarian’s Dreams of the Compass Rose.  It’s a really smooth piece of writing that uses language as a spell in itself.  Her characters really breathe, and her stories sneak up on you with a vengeance.  Even better, she’s made it available for free in several e-formats.  No time like the present, folks.

Next, the observant of you will notice I’ve added a Newsletter page.  I promise to only spam you when it’s really spam-worthy.  [grin]

And, finally, I’ve fixed the broken link in my last post that went to the Multitasking game.  Sorry about that.  Guess I lost my focus there.

The Multitasking World

I admit to being very interested in studies about how the brain works, and how we make decisions. I think the question of how the internet is influencing us, and what long-term changes it will take is one of the more interesting questions of this moment in history (perhaps just a bit behind wondering how genetics and our ability to change ourselves).

I recently read Jonah Lehrer’s “How Do We Decide,” and thought it was great.

With this in mind, I thought this study on attention and multitasking was fascinating.

You might take the two tests, too.

It told me I have quite a bit of focus, but am lacking a little on that ability to juggle multiple tasks (that sound you hear is Lisa chuffing a hearty “well-duh”).

Progress: Finished the light rewrite today (Yay me!). I’m going to do a little thematic work, but I think this means I have three books ready to market for, well, for the first time since ever.

By His Bootstraps

Listened to Heinlein’s “By His Bootstraps” today from Radio Drama Revival. Very cool version, played by Richard Dreyfuss, among a few others. These are the kinds of things that actually make me excited to go to the Health Club–it cuts out a chunk of time where I don’t really have anything to do but listen to the iPod.

This is a great, professionally done piece of work. Recommended.

Progress:

Down to 11 more pages to go on the Light Rewrite. I wanted to power through, but I completed about 70 pages worth, and my brain is a little loopy. Better to just let it sit until tomorrow and do it right.

Picasso’s Cat Available for Pre-Order


Hey, it’s finally Friday evening!

Weekends are the bestest.

And this weekend has been made just that much better now because I see that Picasso’s Cat & Other Stories is now available for pre-order at The Merry Blacksmith Press. You can order via Paypal, or contact the publisher at orders@merryblacksmith.com.

Being new to this marketing thing, I think this is where I’m supposed to say it makes a great gift, right? Or am I supposed to say it gets great gas mileage? How about “order now and get a free set of Ginsu knives!” (Actually, that last is a lie…I don’t think you get any knives, no matter when you order–bummer, I know).

Perhaps it’s better if I stick to writing the stories, eh?

Can I Handle the Pressure?

Share your first tweet with the world!

Talk about some freaking pressure.

Yes, I’ve decided to take the next plunge into this here modern world, and I’m looking at this screen with its little 140 character entry bar and its “What’s happening?” header, and I’m thinking this had better be good, you know? Cause you only get one chance at a first thing.

So, what will my first tweet be? What earth-shattering thing will come straight from my keyboard into the current futurespace of incessant conversation? Yes, friends, you too can find out by choosing to follow me.

Otherwise, how will you ever know?

Progress: Picked up nearly 40 more pages of the light edit/rewrite. Things are moving. Still hope to finish this over the weekend.

Set Down This

If you listen to stories on podcast, you should give twenty minutes or so to Lavie Tidhar’s Set Down This. It’s published on pseudopod, which is marketed as a horror-centric publication, but this is not your classic “horror” story, except, of course, in that it is excruciatingly horrific in its own not-quite-fictional way.

Anyway. I think it’s an important story.

It originally appeared in the anthology Phantom, edited by Sean Wallace and Paul Tremblay.

Progress:

The gobbledygook is now now gobbledy-gone. I’m off and running again on the light edit. Took me two days to untangle the hoses of the ten-page problem, but if the sailing’s as clear as I think it is we’ll still see the finish line sometime next weekend.

Ten Pages of Gobbledygook

So there I was, humming along in the “light rewrite” pass when I encountered ten pages of gobbledygook. Actually, I guess it’s better characterized as 5 pages of pretty good stuff, then 5 pages of recursive mess that says a lot of the same stuff all over again. Not quite true gobbledygook. But that’s just a great word, and I decided I needed to use it.

What ever you choose to call it, I hate it when I do that.

On the other hand, it shouldn’t be major surgery in the end. So, we shall merely concur this Gobbledygook and move past.

Typosphere vs. Watermarks!

So, we got back from our standard weekend workout program this morning. I made lunch and settled in for a round of deleting the waves of spam that comes to my blog comments. I was clicking them off by rote when I came across one of my favorites of all time. There among the various comments that make it sound like someone actually cares about your posts (but are obviously just semi-random sentences), was one that said “Hasn’t everyone gotten bored of this crap by now”

I admit that was a new one for me.

Now, a few weeks ago my buddy Lisa Silverthorne claimed her blog must be the most boring blog in existence, but I think this is serious evidence that mine is now clearly ahead in that chase. I mean, cripes, even my spam is complaining.

[grin]

Progress:

I managed to get through about 40 pages on the novel rewrite, everthing continues to go well. I’ve also received the proofs for Picasso’s Cat & Others, and spent some time working through high-level review. Should finish that up pretty quickly.

Good day so far, eh?

Picasso’s Cat Update

I’m very happy to point out that the Merry Blacksmith Press has revealed the cover to my collection “Picasso’s Cat and Other Stories.” It’s looking like a late-June release. Stay tuned for more.

Naturally…

[regarding my last post]

Of course, the next story I read in Astounding Stories of Super Science (gotta love that title) is full of tentacles, disintegration rays and other knee-slapping examples of scientific misuse of things like, oh, gravity.

Not that it wasn’t fun for all that, though. :)

Progress: 90+ pages through the light-pass. At this rate I should be done by the weekend after next. That’s the target, anyway. I’ve cleaned up three of my main issues, and made strong dents in three others. the last four have yet to come up.

Golden SF

When I first got my ebook reader I assumed I was going to spend most fo my early time with the thing by grabbing a few recent offerings and occasionally dropping one of my own manuscripts into it so I could review my work over the lunch hour.

What I’ve really done is to dive right smack-dab into a bunch of SF history.

I’ve been reading old work available on manybooks.net, including short work from Bob Sheckley, Frederik Pohl, and Phil Dick. I’ve gotten my mitts on the few issues of Astounding that were published in the 1930s that are filled with names that I have never seen. It’s been a heckuva lot of fun, and really educational. I’m finding myself doing little bits of research on those guys I had never heard of, and enjoying the work. Like everything else, a good chunk is drecky (I can say that about a lot of the newer stuff I’ve been reading, too, of course), but good stuff exists. I even grabbed Ayn Rand’s “Anthem,” which is clearly SF, and which is in public domain apparently due to an error in re-upping copyright.

Now, I’m sure many of you are way, way ahead of me.

But for those paltry few for whom the idea of SF of the 19202 and 1930s consists wholey of hokey ray guns, cardboard space ships, and tentacled monsters from planet X, I think there’s great value in understanding where the field has really come from. Amid some clunky crud, I’ve read about miniature electronics, and advanced communications techniques that stand up. I’ve read about automation and warfare techniques that still work today. I’ve read a story or three that could be easily printed today.

For any “new” SF writer (and by that I mean anyone who–like me–really hasn’t spent time studying SF history), I recommend taking a few weeks and digging into some of these works. The worst thing that can happen is that you have a little lighthearted fun–and where’s the harm in that, eh?

Progress:

30+ pages on my light-pass rewrite of novel #3.