You Never Know How Long It’s Going to Be

Set out to write a quick flash fiction piece, and ended up with a 2300 word short story with the working title of Spindizzy, not to be confused with James Blish’s Dillon-Wagoner Graviton Polarity Generator (AKA Spindizzy) from his Cities in Flight Novels*. The story is about a man who falls in love with a dancer. When the dancer is almost killed in a terrible accident, the creates an automaton of her. It’s theme is the terrible cost of being unable to give up someone we love. Hopefully, it will appear somewhere soon.
*As a side note, I suggest those who have not read Blish’s novels dig them up. They are quite good.

On Reading It

I just finished a piece of Flash Fiction that I wrote over the last couple of hours, titled “It Again For the First Time.” This story grew out of my habit of reading Stephen King’s It when I’m depressed. Because it evokes a world a lot like my childhood (forget the maniacal murdering clown from outside of time and space for a minute) of the late 50′s early 60′s, it is a lot like going back in time. But after more than 20 reads since 1982 (I’ve actually lost count) I found that reading It does not work for me anymore. I was lamenting how I wished I could catch amnesia for a while and read It again for the first time. The story (944 words) just came  out.

It needs editing, of course, and I can probably cut a hundred words or so, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.  It is a tale about obsession with a story, about finding a way to read a story as if it were the first time, again and again, and the terrible cost of such a discovery. I think I will look around for a market tomorrow.  I don’t think I stepped on Stephen King’s copyright in any way, but I honestly don’t know. It cannot hurt to try.

What Brings That Book From Author to You?

A question mark rising from a book.

Question

How many of you readers know what goes on to bring a book from authors mind to your hands. Authors are this rare breed of animal, sometimes sighted at Independent Booksellers or big Brick and Mortars like Barns and Noble. But a relative few readers brave the lines to see a writer in his hunting range. They browse the rows for a familiar name, an appealing cover, or an intriguing first paragraph. Those words that first appeared in the mind of the writer imprinted the page in a process as magical as the light switch that some links a finger to the light in the lamp on their desk.

But writing and reading are only the beginning and end of the long process that follows these steps.

  • Writer Conceives an Idea
  • Writes a First Draft
  • Revises That Story
  • Finishes A Last Draft
  • Designer Lays Out The Book
  • Publisher Files Paperwork
  • Printer Prints Books
  • Publisher Distributes Book
  • Publisher and Writer Promotes Book
  • Reader Buys and Reads the Book

As a reader, of course, you have that critical final step. It takes all those steps between idea and purchase to bring a book to you. In traditional publishing, between Finishing a Final Draft, and the Reader buying the book, the author goes about working on the next big storyor promotion of that new published work via autograph sessions and other means. For an indie publisher, and there are more and more of those every day, all those steps once handled by  middle men fall on the writer.

So the next time you browse the shelves at the bookstore, pick up a book from the stacks in the library, or buy a best seller in grocery store, think about all those things that brought so much pleasure to you.

Ciao, for now…

Life, Poetry, and Oh That Jazz…

HOW An Art + Literary Journal

HOW An Art + Literary Journal


In my single minded pursuit to keep the Book Store industry fat and healthy, I purchased a copy of “How An Art + Literary Journal #9 Fall/Winter.” Since my days in pursuit of a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I have had an interest in literary short stories and poetry. This magazine fills both of those interests, with a few amazing illustrations to sweeten the pie.

Particularly in this issue are several poems, written as complete flash fiction pieces. They are quite short, very disciplined, elegant, and beautiful. I am going to try my hand at this form.

I have described poetry as a novel written on the edge of a razor blade. This form takes that idea, and allows all the emotion of poetry and the form of story to come together.

I do not expect this to be easy. Writing flash fiction is a very demanding from. It takes the requirement of good fiction that nothing  in the story is wasted, and every word is necessary to the far extreme. Big stories do not fit the form, but they must be stories be big enough to appeal to a wide audience.

This is going to be fun…

So You Want to be an Idependent Publisher?

2014 Guide to Self-Publishing

You know how sometimes you just keep  putting things off, well that’s me. Today, I stopped in this small way, and bought the “2014 Guide to Self Publishing.” Yes, I am going to do it. I even asked my brother, quit the artist I must say, and he can make time to do cover art. I have three books that are close to ready, and one way or another they will be published this year.

It is a chunk of text, but over the next week I will read every word. More than the words, I will be working through the process beginning tonight.

It is intimidating, sitting up my own Indie publishing company, which is what I intended to do. Even with some research on the subject, looking at this book I do not quite realize what I have let myself in for.

But it is time, past time actually.

So here goes

Tag Ends and other Writing

Even when answering posts in Facebook, my fingers write more than simple answers, but work to create pleasant prose. The following is what I think of as a tag end, a description that I don’t care to toss away. It is answer to one of my friends, John Shirley, whose blog post the other day titled “The Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey–and Our Cell Phones” proved quite the interesting read.

Today he writes about beehives, which took me to walks along Poway Creek and the wild bees of Poway.

Wild bees are a regular in Poway Creek that runs behind my house. Every year we have beehives anywhere the bees can hide. They especially like the concrete irrigation cells poured to hold controls for sprinklers in the landscaping along the road. And when the California Buckeye blooms, the sound of bees at worship drowns the complaints of the stream.

My Next Big Project.

Months ago, I stared a story about witches in a modern environment. It wasn’t urban or modern fantasy. I did not want epic, fight demons, good vs. evil story. I simply thought about witting about a group of people who can use magic. The magic was real, with real uses, and real consequences. I was more interested is a magic realism approach, but with greater scope that some single magical even that falls into otherwise normal lives.
In some ways, I suppose it is similar to John Updike’s “The Witches of Eastwick,” except I don’t want the devil involved. I am thinking more of the feel of Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” or “American Gods,” which I highly recommend as Post Modern masterpieces, or even David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas.”
When the story developed a conflict with the otherworldly powers of nature, I stopped writing it and put the story away. Epic conflict wasn’t what I wanted to do. I want to take it up again as my next big project, so I am thinking about it now.

Banniks, C.J. Cherryh, Writing, and More

Rewriting that novel about the Changelings and the Fae, and I remembered this comment From C. J. Cherryh. Except I haven’t been asleep for a night or nap. It’s weeks. I would call it writer’s block, but I wasn’t really blocked. I just found all those other things that really needed doing. Today, when I started to open that game, that just needed to play for a few minutes, of course. (Funny how a few minutes is never just a few minutes) I decided to open the file and write, just 50 words, yes, just 50. Fifty became a hundred, and a hundred, two.
Which rhymes, of course, with Mister McGoo.
And I found a note in the file about a type of fae, a Bannik, that I’d seen on face book in a C.J. Cherryh post. It is a bath Faerie, and Oberon is helped in his bath b a faerie, a Bannik, and so Looked up that note and traced it to this. This, of course, is my way of giving a callout to a writer I’ve loved through her work.
Thanks, C.J. I’m back in the saddle again, and you have some of the credit.

BannikOf banniks, the Russian novels, and writing…
Nap attacks and writing…
Ever had one of those sessions where your brain just goes into a near catatonic desire for sleep when you’re trying your hardest to think?
Go with it. That’s lizard-brain trying to communicate. The hind-brain talks to us when we have two ideas in the mill that are trying to link up.
It’s not a verbal part of the brain. It never says a word. It does communicate, however—often at the edge of sleep.
Or in the shower….
There are good showers and showers that are really good.
The old Russians believed there was a bath-spirit, the bannik, that lived in the spooky dim bathhouse and would tell you secrets and foretell the future if you fed it vodka.
A bannik doesn’t like to appear in front of you. He sits behind you. If you annoy him or try to look at him, he’ll swipe at you with long claws. But if you respect him, he’ll whisper the future in your ears.
Court a bannik if you’re stuck. He works best in a shower or sauna when lights are low and you’re pouring water over your head.

Give up and go take a nap when the brain goes on null. Listen to the back of your skull. Likely you’ll lie there for ten minutes, an idea will pop into your head, and you’ll be up and running for the keyboard.
If it still eludes you, ask the bannik.

Finishing Stuff

Finishing Stuff
I have all these ideas and projects juggling for space in my brain. For me, it’s as if I’m an object in an auction. These projects yell out prices numbers, word’s written really, and new ideas just spill out with those numbers.
And then there are the demands for my attention. The agent that suggest changes and said send a project around again. (My personal top priority here.) But everything else keeps screaming write, work, finish me.
And yet, they are never quite finished. “You can make me better,” they say, “stronger,” they say. It is like the old bionic man series, except they’re bionic books.
What can I do but enlist old Voltaire’s “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien,” or “The best is the enemy of the good.” Finish it. Get it out. Write something else that teaches me more about myself and my human experience.

Writer’s Meetings, Anthologies, and Volunteering

I went to my writers meeting at Mysterious Galaxy last night. It has been a while for me because life interferes with art and I am always my own best source of sabotage. It was an enjoyable meeting for a number of reasons.
The first reason, of course, are the writers. Sitting in a room of people who share the passion to write and the commitment to improving the craft and the craft of others is a bit like being in a bar where everybody knows your name. For delightful company and lively conversation, writer’s meetings cannot be beat.
That is not the only reason I go to writer’s meetings.
Second, anyone can say, “I could write a book … ” but unless they have done it few people can begin to imagine how difficult it is. Writer’s cannot blame them because when we do the job well, reading is an effortless joy. (Well, not effortless, but since all the real work of reading takes place on a subconscious level it seems that way.) At a writer’s meeting, other writers get it.
Third, there is always a possibility at a writer’s meeting that something will occur out of the blue that pushes my writing to the next level, an opportunity. At this writer’s meeting, one of those opportunities knocked, and I chose to respond by volunteering. During my long absence, the notion of writing and publishing an anthology of stories by members of the group came up. We had talked about this before, but the group embraced it, and I volunteered to take the editorial seat. This is something I’ve wanted to do. I am going to learn all kinds of new skills and stretch myself in surprising ways. It is a little scary, but I think it will be fun.

 
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