Sunday, December 20, 2009

Recalibrating the Googlamabob

Kind of a quickie, off-topic post, but I think action is required here.

I finally got linked to by another site (Yay!), which turned out to be a site dedicated to crawling other sites and indexing them, somewhat like Google does (meh), and it indexed me based on a search for hysterical pregnancies (uh...).

All of which led to me being, briefly, the fifth top Google result for the search string "'deceive him' preg". Crap!

Obviously, I'm going to be able to get around this in the long run by regularly generating content that's interesting enough for other people to link to. But if, short term, anyone has suggestions for how to get Google to put me in a, shall we say "saner" search category, I'd appreciate the help.

And hey, at least I know people read the Glee post.



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Trapped in the Snow

12:57pm... have been up for about an hour and a half. Went outside twenty minutes ago to shovel the walk, knowing it was a futile effort, but compelled by HOA rules to clear the walkway in case some old woman manages to dig through twenty feet of snow only to break her ankle on MY part of the sidewalk.

Total madness, and I gave it up as a bad job in five minutes. Now watching Lina, a one-foot Corgi, try to hop through a foot-and-a-half of snow and watching the E! channel: hopelessly insane people babbling like rhesus monkeys on crystal meth.

What to do with this day? I am singularly unprepared to be trapped in my house for 48 hours, despite running around in a terminal frenzy yesterday attempting to prepare for the inevitable. That was a bad episode - fighting against every stinking man and woman in the city limits trying to gather supplies and complete whatever errands they had left that couldn't be done with two feet of snow on the ground.

I snapped, coming out of the Giant parking lot and seeing a traffic jam that looked to be about twelve miles long, knowing that I had just thirty minutes to reach home, unload the groceries, and then go out again to get dinner for the evening... and realizing at that moment that I had forgotten the booze.

No more chances for liquor, now. We are well and truly shut in. The dog is already driving me mad - wanting to play in the snow, then wanting to come inside, over and over ad nauseum and whining whenever she doesn't get her way. Tim Curry is on the television now, just a sweet little transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania, a terrible distraction.

Can I use this time properly? Can I produce? The dog seems dead set against it. And I just know that when I finally get my head straight and get on a really good writing jag, the damned HOA will pound on my door with big sticks and demand that I shovel the walk.

We don't hold with reason here, they'll tell me. Do as we say, or get out of our neighborhood. We don't want your kind here.


Author's Log

Completed an eight-and-a-half page synopsis, which is currently on an editor's desk awaiting review. There is no guarantee that the editor isn't on holiday right now, but if he is I wish him well. Why not? I'm in no rush, and everyone needs a good break now and then.

Currently working on an essay about "my success story", for a contest advertised on Writer's Market. The trick will be to avoid going on an ego trip, get down everything that actually happened leading up to now, and making it sound interesting. If I can do all that, then I will undoubtedly lose to some deserving single mother of three who is working on the next Harry Potter.

Current Reading

Just finished rereading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson, and I'm just now moving on to Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72. Thompson's outlook on politics is always enjoyable when things get bad in D.C., although it's becoming more and more depressing to reflect on just how little has changed in the District in the last 27 years.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I'm going to tell you guys a secret. Come a little closer, okay? I don't want this getting around.

A little closer. Okay.

I love deadlines.

Love love love deadlines. There's nothing else that motivates me like knowing without a shadow of a doubt that something is due on This Day, and if it's not done on This Day then it might as well never be done At All.

I thrive on watching the clock stretch to midnight. I eat hand cramps for breakfast. A hard drive crash just cost me a week's worth of writing? Sir, I accept your challenge.

What I am not so good at are self-imposed deadlines. These are deadlines of a different color. They're a bit... weedy, shall we say. Soft touches, the lot of them. "Yes, I know I said Thursday, but just think of how much better you could do if you took that weekend coming up..."

Self-imposed deadlines = slippage. Or at least they did.

I've got a synopsis due in "a few weeks," editor's words. That's just asking for slippage. I'm not going to stand for it. I don't want to be Johnny Procrastinator. Certainly not where the editors can see.

So: December 11th, one month exactly since the word came down. Written on my calendar in black Sharpie, as close to set in stone as I can get. I will have a complete, fully-featured synopsis ready to go on that date or die trying.

You are all my witnesses, and I fully expect public scorn if I fail. Tar and feathers are to your left.


Author's Log

Some character sketches, a dozen sticky notes with plot points written down on them, and some tentative steps towards filling out the parts of the synopsis that lie between The Beginning and The End.

Current Reading

Finished reading Overclocked by Cory Doctorow, excepting the last story in the collection, mainly due to maxing out my renewals at the library. Recommended for people who like their sci-fi to make a strong point about our modern world.

I have started on Cherie Priest's Boneshaker, but set the book down at the end of chapter seven. The premise (steampunk and zombies and airships!) hits all my glee buttons, but if the plot doesn't grab me by the throat in the next few chapters I might give up on this one.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Complete!!

Well, as of this past Sunday, November 22nd, I have completed my NaNoWriMo novel. With over 50,000 words and a complete narrative arc (which, admittedly, could stand to be filled in more), I wrote a novel in less than a month.


Some lessons I've learned:

I am not a "make it up as you go along" writer. I like working from sort of outline: in this case, a set of chapter headings that told me what each chapter should be about. Even vague guidelines were better than trying to write blind, and I think this novel turned out better than my last effort. For whatever I work on next, I intend to take copious notes before I jump into the full narrative. (Which leads to the problem of never actually starting anything, of course. Selah.)

I need a thesaurus. Granted, NaNoWriMo is not about trying for brilliant prose, it's about flinging 50,000+ instances of poo at paper and seeing what sticks. But I overused certain descriptive phrases way too often for my tastes.

I need to watch out for adjectives. Actually I used these little monsters as word count boosters, so I'd say at least a third were deliberate and would die in the initial rewrite. But they were painful to write in the first place, and I'll be cutting back in the future.

I can write like a bastard when I need to. Here, go look. I had one day (off) when I wrote damn near 10,000 words, and ten days where I broke 2,000 words. I can't match Stephen King, but I can keep up with him for a bit before the psychotic episode hits.

I don't actually need to write like a bastard. Just before starting NaNoWriMo, I read a book, How To Write & Sell Your First Novel by Oscar Collier and Frances Spatz Leighton, which recommended a daily output of three double-spaced manuscript pages. This was a revelation when compared to Stephen King's recommendation, which is ten double-spaced pages (five if you're just starting out), or the NaNoWriMo recommended minimum, which is about 1,667 words a day. So what if you can't match the pace of a Maine prodigy or a bunch of over-caffeinated noveling fiends? If you wrote three double-spaced pages, you did okay. It's truly a marvelous philosophy, and I encourage it wholeheartedly for anyone who gets brain strain after reading On Writing.


Author's Log

In addition to the final stages of the novel, I drafted six two-page character sketches for an upcoming project. I learned the technique from First Draft in 30 Days, by Karen S. Wiesner. The title is a blatant lie, but as a prewriting guide this book seems to be aces so far.

Current Reading

Just finished Summer Knight, the fourth book in the Dresden Files. Another excellent read. I'm now working on Cory Doctorow's short story collection, Overclocked.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What I Learned About Writing From Watching Glee!

Glee! is a sitcom on the Fox network that revolves around the members of a high school glee club. It is a pretty good dramedy, and I'm going to be going into some major spoilers for it here, so if you think you might be interested I'd recommend browsing to Hulu and watching at least the first two episodes before reading any further.

You back yet? Good.

Television abounds with lessons to teach the writer, both good and bad. Today I'll be talking about what a writer can learn from watching Glee!. To keep the post short, I'll be focusing on three of the show's antagonists and their relationships to the protagonists.

The Characters

Terri Schuester is the wife of Will Schuester, the show's protagonist. Terri is introduced in the first episode as an antagonist. She and Will are fairly obviously not right for each other, something which both characters are becoming aware of. Terri is terrified that Will is going to leave her, to the extent that she suffers a hysterical (false) pregnancy. Once she learns that she is not pregnant, she fears that Will will leave her as soon as he finds out, and determines to deceive him and find a substitute baby to save their marriage.

Quinn Fabray is the leader of the school's cheerleaders. She is introduced as an antagonist to Rachel Berry, a lesser protagonist who has a crush on Finn Hudson, Quinn's boyfriend. She is later revealed to be pregnant by another student, Puck, but convinces Finn that he is the father even though they have never had sex.

Sue Sylvester is the coach of the cheerleading squad and another antagonist for Will. She is determined to squash Will's glee club, in the interests of keeping the lion's share of the school's budget coming to her cheerleaders.

Lessons Learned

Give your antagonists believable motivations - No bad guy should ever be evil just for the sake of being evil, unless you're writing a philosophical story. Your antagonists should have reasons for doing what they do that are just as strong as your protagonists.
  • Terri lies to Will about her pregnancy because she is terrified of losing him. All of her actions are motivated by her desire to save their marriage.

  • Quinn lies to Finn about him fathering her child, and does her best to hide it, because she is terrified of losing the approval of her peers and parents. Her actions are motivated by her desire to keep her social status.

  • Sue sets out to destroy the glee club because she wants to maintain the primacy of her cheerleading squad. She is motivated by her desire to succeed.
Make your antagonists sympathetic - Being able to sympathize with a bad guy lends the character extra depth. You might not want them to win (should not, in fact, want them to win, unless your protagonist is the bad guy), but being able to relate to the reasons they do the things they do adds another layer to their conflict with the protagonist.
  • Terri is presented as amoral and manipulative, someone we hope that Will will ultimately leave. However, she clearly loves her husband in her own way, and her attempts to deceive him are her way of hanging on to her love. The viewer can sympathize with her, even while they hope she doesn't succeed.

  • Quinn is presented in a similar fashion to Terri, but her motivations are different. She deceives Finn not out of love (she constantly attacks him), but because she believes he will be a better boyfriend and father than Puck. She acts out of self-interest alone, and the viewer finds it harder to sympathize with her. This makes Quinn a more two-dimensional character than Terri: easier to dislike, but ultimately less interesting.

  • Sue is presented as an eccentric, hyper-competitive woman. She will take any action to ensure that her cheerleaders succeed, even if she has to crush other people to do so. But when not engaged in competition, she can be generous to her peers, and is capable of showing kindness even to her enemies under the right circumstances. She does not appear capable of true malice, and the viewer can relate to her as a fair competitor.
Don't force your characters to act like morons - This doesn't mean your characters can't actually be morons. It means that you should never have a character act stupidly or out of character in order to stick to your desired plot.
  • Terri convinces Will that she is pregnant by wearing a fake baby bump. The viewer is asked to believe that Will has not seen his wife naked in months, has not touched her belly under her shirt, and that he can't tell the difference between padding and a human stomach. It's conceivable, but difficult to believe.

  • Quinn convinces Finn that he got her pregnant by ejaculating in a hot tub. While Finn is not portrayed as intelligent, a simple Google search would be enough to prove that this is a lie. The deception irritates the viewer because it is artificially prolonged.

  • In contrast, Sue constantly takes actions that should be unbelievable. However, all of her actions are in keeping with her character. The viewer accepts her eccentric actions because they are consistent with what they know about her.

There are other lessons one can learn from watching Glee!, and other characters that could be examined. These are simply the ones that stuck with me in the early part of the show. Feel free to comment if you disagree with anything, or think there's something else about the show that an author could take to heart.

Author's Log

Running well ahead of par in NaNoWriMo, with 40,000 words so far. I'm hoping to reach 50,000 by the end of the weekend. To my fellow month-long novelists, I wish the best of luck (and I hope you'll reciprocate!).

Current Reading

I've finished book three of the Dresden Files, and have started on book four, Summer Knight. This series really does just get better as it goes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Shameful Hiatus

Sorry for the lack of updates. NaNoWriMo is taking a bigger toll on my time than I expected, mostly because I've somehow stumbled into crunch mode at work, rather than the usual holiday slack-a-day festivities we get this time of year. When you've got a terrible batch of deadlines bearing down on you, spending your workday writing demonstrable crap is not smiled on.

To add to the fun, I got word back this week on three (yes three) novel pitches I sent in to a publisher. The idea (I suspect I've posted on this before) was that I would pitch three takes on a book dealing with a particular subject, and the editors would bat these around and pick the best of breed, or possibly suggest blending two of them together.

The actual result: The editors liked the heroes of one pitch, the villains of a second pitch, and the military elements of a third pitch. So my assignment will be to distill all the bits that the editors like and build a full synopsis based on whatever I come up with.

Happily, I like the heroes and the villains the editors like (and I think there's a lesson there), so getting to use them both is just great. And I was never invested enough in prewriting for any one story to feel that I have to junk anything. Now I just need to deliver five or ten pages of synopsis before I get a polite but firm reminder...


Author's Log

Nearly 20,000 words since my last blog post, almost all of which will be murdered by the Red Pen of Doom sometime in December. Still a great level of output.

Current Reading

Dreaming in Code, by Scott Rosenberg, one of the founders of It's a biography or post-mortem of an attempt to develop a rival to Microsoft Outlook. There's something about software disaster documentaries that just appeals to me, mostly because they aren't happening to me!

Also, getting back into Grave Peril after a long break. Nothing against the book, I just got distracted by some others that were shorter or obligatory. Unfortunately I peeked at the back cover of the forth book in the series, which did a magnificent job of spoiling the third one in its first sentence. That's strike one, Mr. Butcher. Let's not have that happen again.

Finally, for comic book fans, the hardcover of Wolverine: Old Man Logan is out now. It's an excellent read for fans of Mark Millar's earlier work on Wolverine: Enemy of the State, as well as people who like westerns such as Unforgiven. That said, it's a very quick read once you get started, and the hardcover isn't exactly packed with extra features, so I'd encourage you to wait for the softcover edition if you're short on cash.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Pulled from the headlines of today! Apologies in advance for the political talk. I've tried to resist, but it occurred to me that if I feel strongly enough to write on any subject that I had better be willing to. And frankly, I should be looking to get my blog posts together any way I can.

As reported here, moderate Republican Dierdre Scozzafava has withdrawn from the New York House race, leaving Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman as the de-facto Republican nominee.

In some respects, this is a great day for grassroots democracy. Scozzafava (who has possibly one of the greatest last names ever)was hand-picked by the 23rd district's county chairs because she was considered the most electable candidate. There was no primary and no caucus - understandably so, given that this is an unscheduled election resulting from the previous district's Congressman, John McHugh, being named Secretary of the Army.

Scozzafava's nomination angered the party's conservative base, mainly because she is pro-choice and supports equality of marriage. Doug Hoffman saw this and beat her like a gong, garnering support from high-profile Republicans like Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and practically everyone except Newt Gingrich and the RNC.

In my view, seeing a third party candidate topple a candidate from one of the Big Two is cause for celebration. Every now and again I think the country needs proof that you can be something other than a Democrat or Republican and still be electable, despite the examples set by Ross Perot and Ralph Nader.

On the other hand, Hoffman's defeat of Scozzafava is another degree of swing for the GOP towards the far right end of the political spectrum. Despite the attacks against her, Scozzafava was never anything other than a moderate Republican. GOP members in New York are a different breed, Republicans who have mostly ignored the Christian Coalition and the Southern Strategy, so Scozzafava's pro-choice and equality of marriage stances were well within the tolerances of the area. Her other major sin, voting to raise taxes, was done when it was a requirement to meet budgets.

But Scozzafava was also against drug law reforms, against gun control, against labor, against benefits for multilingual police officers, against reforming knockless warrants, against foreclosure protections, and for tort reform when it came to health care. Again: moderate Republican.

That Hoffman was able to drive her out of the race in New York by abusing her social conservative bona-fides is a red flag for how much power the right-hand wing of the party has these days. It's the same thing we've been seeing with Arlen Specter abandoning the party, Michael Steele becoming a hardliner, Meghan McCain's feuds with Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, and the widespread abuse of so-called RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) in general.

I consider myself a political moderate. The last thing I want to see is one of the main political parties in my country falling under the control of its most extreme members, but that seems to be exactly what's happening to the GOP. If we don't get more politicians on the right side of the aisle in the next few years that are willing to compromise for the greater good, then I expect the partisan divides in this country are going to get a lot worse before they get better.


Author's Log

Completed and submitted three one-page novel pitches solicited by a publisher. I have about a month to wait until they'll get back to me, which is the perfect amount of time for me to complete a Nanonovel.

Current Reading

Just finished two of the latest books in Black Lagoon, a full-on shoot 'em up manga series by Rei Hiroe. A definite recommendation for the shonen set.

Also, if you have an interest in good political writing, check out Senator Joe McCarthy by Richard H. Rovere. It's a biography of Senator McCarthy that was written in 1959, but is still available from Amazon. Rovere injects his own opinions into the subject almost constantly, but he still manages to give an unbiased account of McCarthy's history, and I consider the book essential reading for any political pundit you care to name.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Truth Can Be Less Interesting Than Fiction

Feeling a little cheated. On Friday I had two of my wisdom teeth pulled. Here are the horror stories I got to hear in the week leading up to that:

"You'll end up spitting blood for two days/five days."

"Your face will swell up for a week/a month/a whole damn year."

"You'll go to sleep and wake up in a Giant parking lot."

The actual result? I was in and out in an hour, have barely felt any pain, and have not had any significant bleeding since yesterday. My meds aren't giving me any hallucinations, pleasant or otherwise, and I don't even remember getting a gas mask shoved into my face.

As life experiences go, the whole thing was very boring (which, compared to the horror stories, is probably a good thing). The only worthwhile part was getting to sit in a lobby that looked like it was pulled straight from The Shining. There's just something inspirational about blood-colored marble floors, which is an excellent choice for an oral surgeon's office, by the way.

Ah, well, maybe I'll mix my meds with a beer or two, see if the great Gazoo would care to impart me with some wisdom. Or else I can just get back to finishing up the pitches.


Author's Log

Ah yes, the pitches. I'm currently standing at four possibles, each one page long, giving a fair description of a possible novel.

Pitch writing doesn't give you a big word count, but it can be a great learning experience, and I'll go ahead and recommend it for anyone writing a novel. For one thing, you'll probably have to draft a pitch eventually to sell the book, and there's no harm in getting started early (except for the possibility of an extra revision or two, of course). For another, distilling a story that runs for 100,000 words down to a single page really makes you think about what the most important parts of your story are. If you're obsessing too much over a subplot or background details, cutting your story down to the bone might be enough to get you back on track.

Current Reading

I've read a fair few books over the week worth mentioning.

Death Troopers, a Star Wars novel by Joe Schreiber, brings the terrifying menace of the undead to a galaxy far, far away. It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, but it's actually a very well-executed horror story that fits itself into the Star Wars universe surprisingly well. It's not a necessary read to follow the Expanded Universe canon, but if you're looking for something scary to read and don't want to wait for Stephen King's latest, you could do a lot worse.

Shamanslayer, a Warhammer novel by Nathan Long, continues the long-running story of Gotrek & Felix by setting them against a horde of Beastmen (half-men, half-animal, all evil). Some old characters from the William King books resurface, an old and nearly forgotten plotline gets resolved, and lots of carnage and mayhem occurs throughout. It's probably not a good idea to read this book if you aren't following the series, but longtime fans will find a lot to like here.

After a long delay I finished Fool Moon, the second Dresden Files book from Jim Butcher, which concluded in high style with lots of werewolf-on-werewolf action (minds out of the gutter...). I've just started in on the third book, Grave Peril, which looks set to delve into ghosts and the perils of the Nevernever. Still nothing but good things to say about this series.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Setting Goals - Abject Failure

Well, let's tally the final results, shall we?

The Goal: 2,000 words per day, six days a week.

The Result: 2,000 words in a week.

I suspect that trying to match Stephen King right off the bat was a bad idea. On the bright side, I'm up 2,000 words from where I started, and they're nice, character-developing, story-telling words, not notes or synopses or the like. Some of those words might actually see print one day.

Still, the scourging awaits. Do your worst, friends.

Author's Log

1,000 words since the last update, plus some work on a pitch. I'm not sure, but I imagine it's easier to pitch a novel you've actually written beforehand than it is to pitch one you haven't written, especially when it might be one that you will never write.

Current Reading

Unseen Academicals, the latest Discworld book from Terry Pratchett. I'm only halfway through, but this one seems to meet the usual Pratchett quality standards, and has a nice focus on the inhabitants of Unseen University that we don't usually get (which is to say that the wizards are actual protagonists this time out, rather than supporting cast).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Setting Goals - Midweek Update

1,000 words. That's all I've managed to write so far, just 1,000 words.

Do I intend to whine about this? No. I'm going to post this, shut up, and get on with the work. 11,000 more words to go this week.

Author's Log

So far this week, I've indulged in the following excuses:

  • Donated blood to support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Went to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory with the wife. Word of advice: Always get the cheesecake, approach the rest of the menu with caution.

  • Worked out of the home to catch up after the recent vacation.

  • Played with the dog.

  • Cuddled with the wife.

And then there's New Comic Book Day tomorrow, like a dark cloud crawling across the sunlight of my resolution...

Ugh. If I'm coming up with similes like that, I need to wrap this up.

Current Reading

About a quarter of the way through Fool Moon, the second book in the Dresden Files. More excellent stuff, including a smattering of "proper" werewolves, from back before they went all Hollywood.

Received double-secret research materials in the mail today for the current project, and am feeling giddy. That gets read tomorrow, with all due apologies to Jim Butcher.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Setting Goals

Alright, long story short, I am disappointed with my writing habits. I have obligations coming up that will require me to be better about said habits, not the least of which is NaNoWriMo. I Need To Set A Goal.

Stephen King claims that he writes 2,000 words a day come hell or high water. He is a full-time writer. I am, at best, a part-time writer. There is no reason on Earth why I should hold myself to that standard. I'm going to anyway. Almost.

Starting tomorrow, I will write 2,000 words a day, 6 days a week, for a total of 12,000 words weekly. That means I should be able to draft a 100,000 word novel (which is a respectable length) within 2 months, if that is all that I write.

Blog posts will count towards that, as will writing that will never see the light of day, but is vital background information for a story. And if I slack off one day, I'm willing to make it up on the next. But I am serious about that weekly word count, oh yes indeed.

If you catch me slacking, Yell. Scream. Shout. Hold me accountable. I have every intention of completing two novels within the next year, and I cannot afford to slack off.


Author's Log

I roughed out three pitches for a potential novel, amounting to about a page and a half of writing. I'll be fleshing these out for the rest of October, and hopefully ending up with at least one acceptable pitch.

Current Reading

Finished off Reiksguard. A good book, possibly a little tame as far as Warhammer novels go (in that no one's soul gets torn to shreds by the dark powers of Chaos), but no real complaints.

Also started Fool Moon, the second book in the Dresden Files. I'm not far into it yet, but so far it's great. I had to force myself to find a good stopping point, which is always a good sign. Glad I picked up the series.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On Editors, Editing and Etiquette

On Monday afternoon I received a solicitation for a writing opportunity that is, in my Minor Writer view, akin to getting picked for American Idol (but without the snark and the singing). I don’t want to get into details until contracts are signed, so for now just trust me when I say that I really am grinning from ear to ear.

Since I can’t just brag for the whole post, I thought I’d talk about editing etiquette. Bear with me: this will relate to that first paragraph eventually.

If you submit something to a publisher, at some point an editor is going to look at it. Let’s assume the editor likes what he sees, that the work meets whatever criteria he has, and that you remembered the obligatory self-addressed stamped envelope.

If you are very talented or very lucky, the editor doesn’t just like your work, he loves it. The SASE comes back the next day with a juicy, ego-stroking letter and a check. If this happens to you, then congratulations! You’ve won the gold medal. Cash the check, call your friends, go party.

A more likely result is that the editor sees some room for improvement. He reads over your story a few more times, puts together some notes on it, and uses that SASE to send them along. In a few weeks you open that envelope and read the words “We like your story, BUT...”

Sounds a bit too close to a rejection for comfort, doesn’t it? You read over the editor’s constructive criticism, and it doesn’t feel all that constructive. You’ve sent out your best, and it’s still not quite good enough. Maybe you feel your face flush from embarrassment. Maybe you have to hold back a tear or two.

You might even want to crawl into a hole somewhere and refuse to come out. Resist this treasonous urge. Read the critique again.

This time around, I bet you’re going to feel a bit less embarrassed. Possibly, you might get angry. I mean, sure, the editor’s nailed you on your mistakes, no question there, but look at the crap he’s asking for! He wants you to make your main character’s best friend the villain, for crying out loud! And why do you have to cut all these supporting characters, anyway?

You may be tempted at this point to write back with an angry dismissal of everything the editor has said. No matter what else you do, DO NOT DO THIS. Instead, take ten minutes or an hour to calm down, then go get your story and read it over alongside the editor’s notes.

You’ll start to see that the editor knows what he’s talking about. How cool is it going to be when Best Friend stabs your protagonist in the back? You know just the perfect place, too. And those supporting characters were all cardboard cutouts anyway. Let a better-developed character read their lines.

Do your best to address everything the editor has to say. If it’s all simple cuts, make the cuts. More likely, the editor will state a problem, suggest a vague solution, and expect you to run with it. Do so. If you have to rewrite a whole story to get that knife into Best Friend’s hand in a sensible fashion, do it and don’t hesitate.

Maybe the editor wants you to change something that’s deeply important to you. Try to make the change anyway. If that doesn’t work, and you truly cannot bring yourself to make the change, feel free to fight with your editor over it. But if you want to argue over more than one suggestion in ten, you’d better be willing to submit your work to a different publisher if and when negotiations break down.

Once you're done with the changes, read over your story again. You'll probably be surprised at the amount of improvement you see. You'll be improving yourself as well: you'll know what mistakes you made the first time around, and be able to avoid them with your next work.

And being professional about an editor's requests can pay off in other ways. Part of the reason I received the aforementioned solicitation was that, when I submitted a previous story to this publisher, I proved that I could take the feedback they offered and use it to greatly improve the original story. I didn't argue, and I didn't get lazy about my editing. I used the requested changes as an excuse to improve the rest of the story, and the story was better off for it. (And I still saw some changes from my revised draft in the typeset version, and I ended up asking for one or two small tweaks to that as well. So nobody's perfect.)

Criticism stings a bit, no matter how much you deny it. But if an editor takes the time to send you notes on your work, he's doing it because he thinks you've got the skill to make your work better. So grit your teeth, roll up your sleeves, and give those notes another look. Think long and hard about your editor's suggestions, and take them as an opportunity to make your whole story better. You won't regret it.


Author's Log

Brainstorming session, resulting in about a page of notes thus far. Also did some digging for reference materials.

On top of that, I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo next month. My profile is all set up with the username "Gauss", along with a quickie description of what I'm planning on writing. Definitely looking forward to November.

Current Reading

At the moment I'm reading Reiksguard, by Richard Williams. This is a novel set in the Warhammer universe, which takes an in-depth look at one of the human Empire's knightly orders. I'm still in the early parts of the book, but it's doing a good job of giving a lot of details on a knight's training without boring me, so I'm expecting to give this book a thumbs up.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Home Again

Back from an excellent vacation at Disney World, feeling refreshed, if not fully recharged. I definitely had fun and ate a ton of good food. The highlights:
  • The Coral Reef. My wife and I got seated directly in front of the aquarium, next to a statue of a green sea turtle. Or at least that's what I thought, until the turtle opened its eyes, glared at a stingray that had settled on its flipper, and took off for a swim like Gamera rising from the deeps.

  • Teppan Edo. Excellent community dining, and the chef (Eri) did a great show. Also, my wife got to wear a chef's hat while the whole restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" to her, and survived with only minor embarrassment.

  • The Tower of Terror. Always scary, no matter how many times I ride it.

  • Epcot's Biergarten. Disney does buffet-style dining better than most, and I got a new appreciation for German food and beer.

  • Running into a fellow patron of Third Eye Comics after a fireworks show, and being recognized by my Red Lantern T-shirt. Sometimes it really is a small world.

  • Renting a SeaRay and going tooling around Lake Disney for half an hour, which was just enough time to speed by every hotel on the lake. A very relaxing experience: the SeaRay can go fairly fast, but once you've got it pointed in the right direction you can pretty much just sit back and enjoy the breeze.


Author's Log

Surprisingly, I did get a fair amount of writing done on the trip: two scenes for the novel, around 500 words each. I also wrote a new setup for the novel (which has desperately needed a complete rewrite since the first draft, and may finally get it), and jotted down some vital details for a short story (which shouldn't need as much work, God willing).

Finally, I jotted down a poem across two pages of note paper while I was on the flight home, equating roller coasters and airplanes. As you might expect, there was some turbulence on the flight.

Current Reading

Storm Front, the first book in the Dresden Files, was an excellent read. Harry Dresden is a fascinating modern-day wizard, magic is nothing to be trifled with, and things get very dangerous for everyone involved before the end. I'll definitely be continuing with the series.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On Vacation - Because I Can

As of tomorrow, I will be on vacation, flying down to sunny Florida where the Mouse is in charge and Internet access runs about twenty bucks an hour. Naturally I won't be updating during that time, which I'd feel worse about if I'd ever gotten a regular update schedule going in the first place. If you are reading this, I hope you'll be willing to check back in a week or so, and thank you very much for your patience.

Where writing is concerned, I'm not optimistic. A theme park can be a marvelous wellspring of ideas, I'm sure, but it doesn't work as well when your wife is getting annoyed about the repeated stops to jot down notes. "But honey, how else am I going to remember what that man was screaming while Chip and Dale beat on him with the official Disney bats" is unlikely to pass muster.

No, I learned my lessons about note-jotting in Cooperstown. But I will be bringing the digital recorder, just in case.


Author's Log

Nothing to report but shame and failure. I'm bringing a notepad and pens along on vacation, though, to ensure more shame and failure.

Current Reading

I just picked up the first book in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, Storm Front, to read during the R&R portions of next week. It's been a series I've been curious about for a long time but never got around to reading, but a review of the comic series adaptation in the latest Fantasy & Science Fiction finally pushed me over the edge. Once I get back, I'm going to owe Charles de Lint either a thank-you or a beating.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blog Fail

Well shoot. Fifteen days gone by with no blogging, very little writing done, almost no sleep, and a brand new hole in the sofa courtesy of my Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

It's undeniably been a busy two weeks, but I've had plenty of time to unlock achievements in the Batman game, so that's not really an excuse. If I want publish something, I have to shift my priorities a few degrees away from video games and into editing. I've got at least three stories that are just begging for more time and effort.

On the plus side, I have gotten some quality daydreaming in during my commute, and I should be able to get a few good posts done in a short time once I actually put fingers to keyboard. Look out for some reviews of writing books in the not-too-distant future. Also a possible essay on health care: not because I want to write it, but because the whole thing gets me so (let's be charitable and say "passionate") that I don't think I have a choice.


Author's Log

I wrote about 500 words on the biology of elves, fairies, pixies, goblins, hobgoblins, and brownies. Nothing that's likely to see print, but useful background notes nonetheless.

Regarding submissions, my super-short story for Writer's Digest didn't make the top five. My short story pitch remains in limbo, where it's been for the past two months plus two weeks. Not entirely unexpected, but I'm looking forward to either a deadline for the full story (to shoot some adrenaline directly into my motivational glands) or a rejection (to end the freaking suspense already).

Current Reading

Still working my way through the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and currently on book four. Charlaine Harris really is getting better with each book. In addition to that, I reread Terry Pratchett's Going Postal and Making Money, two excellent books in the Discworld series that don't require a whole lot of background knowledge.

I also tracked down a copy of The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. In some respects it's a back-to-basics vampire novel, in that the bloodsuckers are unquestionably evil, undead monsters that have no problem eating their loved ones. In other respects, it's innovative: del Toro expands concepts he first tried out in Blade II into a unique, terrifying new breed of vampire. Honestly, I haven't seen vampires this interesting in fiction since Brian Lumley's Necroscope series.

Being the first book in a planned trilogy, the ending isn't entirely satisfactory, and some of the plot relies on characters making bad mistakes that they should be smart enough to avoid. But the prose is good, the vampires are scary, and the sense of impending doom only increases with every page. Recommended for fans of Harry Keogh and haters of Edward Cullen alike.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Independent Book on Politics?

First off, can I put a disclaimer here? I don't want to talk politics on this blog. I don't like getting my blood pressure up. I'm making an exception here for a book which represents something increasingly hard to find in the modern news.

What You Should Know About Politics... But Don't, by Jessamyn Conrad, calls itself "A nonpartisan guide to the issues". For the most part, it succeeds in this goal. The book opens with a chapter explaining how politics in America works, focusing on elections and the division of political parties (and the divisions within political parties). It also covers some ongoing controversies in elections, including voter fraud and gerrymandering.

Every remaining chapter in the book covers a single issue:

-Foreign Policy
-The Military
-Health Care
-The Environment
-Civil Liberties
-Culture Wars
-Socioeconomic Policy (Immigration)
-Homeland Security

Each chapter starts with a background on the issue, followed by a description of current debates on the subject. Arguments on both sides are presented in a dispassionate, fact-focused manner, identifying and describing positions one by one. None of the issues are described in depth, but each subject gets enough detail to form a basis for further research. The health care chapter, in particular, is an excellent introduction to the current debate, and should be considered a must-read.

The book was published in 2008, so there's a strong focus on the Bush administration debates. I thought this gave the book a slight lean to the left, but I may be projecting my own opinions onto the text.

Overall I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants an unbiased introduction to modern politics (and quickly, before the whole thing changes again). I'd also recommend it to people who suspect that CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News are lying to them, and always have been.

(Hrm... This probably could have been an Amazon review.)


Author's Log

Still early, but so far today I've dictated notes (maybe 15 minutes' worth) on a short story and my novel. Tonight I'll be revising my super-short story for the Writer's Digest competition and submitting it over the web.

Current Reading

Just finished reading Grey Seer, by C.L. Werner. This is a very "niche" book: It's set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe, and features the primary antagonist from the long-running Gotrek and Felix series in his own adventure. If you have any idea what all that means, this book comes highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Terrible Dictation

What follows is (mostly) raw dictation from my morning and afternoon commute. Consider yourself warned...

Today I’ll be attempting to write my blog via dictation. I have my tape recorder in my car, it is 6:29 a.m., I am currently driving to work, I am stuck in a red light, because that appears to be my fate in life. As per usual I can’t seem to catch a break in traffic, no surprise there, but it doesn’t matter, we are going to carry on!

The reason I am attempting to write this via dictation is that I spend about an hour commuting to work every day, so I have about two hours I could spend writing every day going to waste. There I am going to try the dictation system. This is a digital recorder from Olympus, makers of what I hope are very fine systems.

I decided to go with digital instead of tape in case by some chance I want to do a podcast later on in my career. Probably a pipe dream (especially judging by this audio quality), but if this works out who knows?

Note to self, midway through drive: Advantages of dictation I can drive while doing this without wrecking my car, always good to find out. This doesn’t seem too long so far, I can max out at about 40 minutes a drive, which is not too bad to listen to in the evening. I can hear myself on the dictation, with headphones it’ll probably be easier. I do need to speak up a little bit, but I don’t think there’s going to be any help for that. A better solution would probably be to move the tape recorder somewhere a little closer to my mouth.

The claim that I could hear the dictation was made based off of speech I recorded while stopped at a red light. While driving, engine noise killed most of that next six minutes of my recordings. Lesson learned: Hold the recorder close to your mouth, and stop every minute or so to mark your place, or suffer the terrible consequences.

And no, you’re not missing much of anything in those six minutes.

Finally, it’s pretty easy to pick this thing up and just make a quick random note anytime I want to which is excellent news because frankly that is exactly what I bought the damn thing for, and if it’ll work for at least a month I think it’ll pay for itself! (Metaphorically speaking: I don’t expect to make too much money off my writing until I get the damn novel out, and that looks a little less plausible every day... but we will persevere!)

Note to self: I’ve arrived at work only a little bit late, and I haven’t crashed my car, and I’ve recorded a fair amount of stuff to write about later this evening so I consider this a success. We’ll be trying a little bit more with actually writing some stories on my way home.

Note to self, starting back home: I am surprisingly nervous about diving back into this whole recording idea, especially when it comes to recording actual story. I guess there’s really no way to get over the whole “staring at the blank page” thing. Goal is going to be getting some of the Warhammer 40,000 fiction I’m working on and hopefully will be paid for at some point so I can get it into a workable state. I’m going to try and get some of the newer sections down on this recorder so I’ll have something to start with when I get home and get over that damn nervousness. So far it does not seem to be working. We will hope that situation improves.

Note to self: Try to keep track of what it is you’re babbling every couple of minutes, and remember to use the rewind feature to get past some of this crap.

Note: “Little kor’vesa” is a pretty good term to refer to gun drones. Try to find a place to use it.

This is going to be a hell of a lot rougher than I’m used to. Get ready.

Time flies when you’re recording stuff as you drive!

Had a pretty good run, but now traffic’s all jammed up on 50. Can’t say I’m surprised.

I think I’m falling in love with the sound of my own voice.

I have no idea how much of this I’ll actually be able to hear. A fair amount, actually, I was holding the mic close to my face this time around.

Note to self: Learn to press the stop button a little bit earlier than after you’ve been sitting there silently for a minute thinking of the next thing to say. If you need to think of the next thing to say, you can think of it while it’s not recording. Voice activation: Learn to use it.

There’s been some kind of damned accident on 50. There’s a helicopter in mid-air, expect this is a bad one.

I can stand to organize these recordings a little better... but I can’t be bothered.

Alright, taking it back a minute or two to when Boga was selecting a landing point...

Just realized that I’ve written a fair amount of this before, and I still have a draft to look over to make sure I’m not throwing out anything I want to keep.

Almost home, calling it a day for this recording session.

Final thoughts: Recording and dictating work, so far. The recorder seems to be really effective for getting stuff done while on the road. It is not necessarily the best means of revision, as I’m not really getting a hell of a lot done that I’d be proud to call finished cope without a second, third or even fourth draft. On the other hand, I’ve got a lot of new stuff to write so I might as well get it done.

I do seem to be able to get better details out of myself through speaking. I have to think about the way things look, how they sound, taste, smell, feel. I'm spewing out a lot of crap, but that's better than writing down just a little crap and having to spin new, good stuff out of nothing when revision time rolls around.

The actual dictation is less trouble than talking on a cell phone, so my driving hasn't suffered.

Overall I'm calling the first day a success. I got a lot of stuff down on tape, and we'll see how transcription works out.

Transcription took a little under an hour for everything above, which doesn't include any of the actual story I got down on tape, or anything that got lost in engine noise. I think the best way to proceed will be to do a few days or a week of recordings, then take the weekend to transcribe and tighten up whatever I come up with.

Sorry for the rough style. Trust me, the actual tapes were worse, although I got a kick out of hearing my frustrated past self venting into this little machine as some jerk cut him off, again...


Author's Log

I got at least fifteen minutes of workable recordings towards the Warhammer 40,000 story. Also, yesterday I drafted a 750 word short story for a contest that closes on Thursday. Today I made some tentative edits, and I'll be finishing it up for submission tomorrow.

Current Reading

One good political book that I think deserves its own post, which I'll be getting to soon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Well, I seem to be getting focused on reviews here. Still, if I'm going to review a video game, it might as well be an awesome one.

Batman: Arkham Asylum has you play as Batman. The Joker has taken control of Arkham Asylum, and you have to beat your way through its inmates, make your way past the island's security measures, and stop the Joker from unleashing an army of madmen on Gotham City.

It's a simple premise for a Batman game, and it's almost perfectly executed. Picture this: Four thugs are patrolling a room with machine guns. A direct attack is suicide, so you use a grappling hook to perch on a gargoyle. As one of the thugs passes underneath, you swing down, drag him up, and leave him dangling from the gargoyle shouting for help. You find another perch as two of the other thugs run to investigate. That leaves the final thug isolated, so you glide through the air and execute a perfect kick to his head that leaves him cold.

By the time the remaining two thugs get there, you're back in the shadows. They're discussing what to do next in panic-stricken voices. You can see their mood, and they're terrified. You pull out a Batarang and get ready to go to town...

And that's maybe a minute of gameplay.

The voice actors and character designs are excellent. Mark Hamill in particular remains the perfect voice for the Joker; you hear a lot from him, but it never gets old.

Puzzles are challenging, but not cripplingly so. The Asylum is massive, but you'll generally be able to figure out exactly where you need to go to continue the game's story.

Arkham as an environment is gothic, brooding, slightly mysterious, and almost definitely haunted. Speaking of which, special mention goes to the Scarecrow sequences. When Batman gets dosed with fear gas, he experiences progressive hallucinations, causing the asylum to gradually twist into a hellish environment where Scarecrow himself takes on a godlike, nightmarish aspect. These hallucinations also explain Batman's origin about as well as any comic book or film ever has.

If you have an XBox 360 or a Playstation 3, I can't recommend this game enough.

Author's Log

Wrote about a page of character notes for the novel today, a stream of consciousness conversation with myself trying to figure out what job my main character should have. Nothing that's likely to ever see the light of day, but vital nonetheless.

Current Reading

Crooked Little Vein, by Warren Ellis - I'm enjoying this book, but it's completely insane, totally twisted, and I don't feel safe sleeping with it in the house. It's a whirlwind tour of the most depraved parts of the American subculture, which also manages to point out that the bits we think are normal aren't quite right either. Recommended for Gonzo fans and most sexual deviants.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

There have been a number of things delaying this post. Guilt, as you'll see below... also paperwork that needed doing, yard work, visits with family, and the new Batman game, which I recommend to anyone who likes Metroid or Castlevania style games, or the Batman comic books and/or cartoons. Also Mark Hamill fans, because his Joker is probably the only one that can equal or exceed Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight.

The other time eater recently was today's trip to see Inglourious Basterds, the latest Quentin Tarantino film. Anybody who follows Tarantino's work knows that it's going to be an excellent study in good-to-great dialogue. But where the movie really shines is in building up tension over the course of an entire story.

The movie is divided into five chapters. Each chapter starts out mildly, but over the course of twenty to thirty minutes, raises the tension between all the characters involved, usually through nothing more than creative dialogue. The last few minutes are devoted to Tarantino's customary ultra-violence, and then we're in a new chapter, a new situation, and a new low that builds to an inevitable high.

That would be enough to make a good film, but every chapter after the first two (which are, when you come right down to it, extremely well-played back story) also builds on unresolved situations from the previous chapters, until you hit chapter five and everything comes together in an inspired, apocalyptic finale that changes the very course of history.

The acting is excellent. Brad Pitt is a natural scene-stealer, but even he loses out occasional to Colonel Landa, SS officer and the movie's main villain. I can't think of anybody who does a bad job in the movie, and I think there's only two seconds of the film that should have been left on the cutting room floor. If you see the movie, you'll spot it instantly, but it won't do a damn thing to sour your experience.

If you're not squeamish about blood, and you feel like having a true edge-of-your-seat experience, go check out Inglourious Basterds. You could do a lot worse this weekend.


Author's Log

These past few days I've written zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. I am a failure as a writer and deserve to be damned to the deepest pits of procrastination hell.

Current Reading

I've finished reading Living Dead in Dallas, which differs from True Blood so much that I'm no longer worried about spoiling anything. The writing in this second book has improved a lot from the first, and I'm hoping this upward trend continues. Unfortunately I won't find out for a few weeks, at which point my wife gets the rest of the books back from a friend.

In the meantime, I'm going to be rereading All-Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. These two graphic novels are simply the best Superman story that's been written... possibly ever, if I'm honest, and there are enough subtle Easter eggs contained therein to make another reading more than worthwhile. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Pox Upon Human Resources

Tonight's blog post has been sacrificed to the God of Triplicate Paperwork. Woe unto all ye unbelievers!

New Comic Book Day is tomorrow, so I'll try to be more interesting then (at least for people who read comics).


Author's Log

Today's writing output is about 300 words of a short story, all on notebook paper. I find that it's a lot easier to get into a good writing groove with a nice notebook than it is when you're typing on an Internet-enabled computer. The downside being that I have to figure out what I wrote and, eventually, transcribe it. So la.

Current Reading

I finished Dead Until Dark today, and started Living Dead in Dallas, the second book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. As I understand it, this is where the plot of the books and the plot of the TV series really diverge, so I'm interested to see who, what, where, and how.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pains in the Head Make it Hard to Write

This post won't be nearly as long-winded as my first one. Monday has hit full-force today, with dinner, laundry, garbage disposal, mandatory paperwork, and research for my day job taking big chunks out of my writing time. To top it off, my wife has come down with a murderous migraine that jabs another red-hot needle in her head whenever the dog barks.

A good migraine, when its worked itself up, can leave one drooling in bed, eyes squeezed shut to blot out even the most minuscule light, desperately hoping that the sensation of nausea will go away long enough to choke down a crust of bread. I don't think my wife's that bad off yet, but if this thing sticks around 'til the morning, I don't plan on arguing when the question of sick leave comes up.


Author's Log

Today's writing consists of 450 words of a (new... d'oh) short story, and five chapter titles for the novel... which may not even have chapters, for all I know at this point. But I did get a kick out of coming up with them.

Current Reading

Finished half of Dead Until Dark today. So far I'd say I'm enjoying it: the changes between the book and the TV show are enough to keep the reading fresh, and it's nice to get a different look at Sookie, Bill and Sam.

Aside from reading, I've been listening to the soundtrack for Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell, which is the best horror flick I've seen in awhile. If you're interested in character development, you could do worse than to watch the movie and examine how Raimi keeps us sympathizing with his main character, Christine Brown, even as she does things we probably don't agree with. The soundtrack makes for good atmosphere music, especially if you're writing something scary or scary/dramatic.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Okay, Here We Go

To everyone reading this: welcome. As I'm writing this, it's a little after ten o'clock on a Sunday night. I'm sitting in my office, having just taken my dog on her nightly walk. There's a diet soda on my desk, half-empty. There's also a copy of the first Sookie Stackhouse novel on my right, with a bookmark at the first page.

I'm feeling apprehensive about starting the novel. I'm a big fan of "True Blood", the HBO show based on the Sookie series, but I'm not sure how well that enjoyment is going to translate to the book. I've yet to get deeply into a supernatural romance, although I keep trying. I'm hoping I can get into this one without spoiling the show.

I'm also apprehensive because, for the third time, I'm starting a blog. I seem to get the urge to do this every couple of months, so far with no success beyond an initial posting, maybe two. This time, I'm determined, is going to be different; but didn't I say that the last time?


Hello again. My name is David Earle. I'm a writer. I haven't published any novels, so I still think of myself as an aspiring writer, even though I have gotten some smaller-format writings published once or twice. I suspect it's going to be a long time before I can drop that aspiring and feel comfortable with it. I don't even really like the word, come to think of it: struggling would be more appropriate for those nights when I'm fighting sleep deprivation just to make 500 words. But that's not fair to the really struggling writers, the ones who have trouble making rent from month to month. They don't need me trying to dilute the term's impact.

Would you mind if I call myself a minor writer? I think I can live with that. It's a little alliterative, a little fun, and it's more accurate than aspiring and its stinking italics.

So I'm a minor writer. I've got one short story that's pending publication, in an actual book, which still blows my mind. I've got a pitch in for another short story with the same company, and a third story that I'm polishing before I start sending it around. And I've got 50,000 words of a novel that I wrote during National Novel Writing Month in 2008. That one's getting dusty now, but I think it might, just might, end up on a bookshelf one day. (I certainly hope so: the characters are certainly vocal on the subject, and if they're on a bookshelf they won't be yammering in my head anymore, at least for awhile.)

So if I've got all that to work on, what the heck am I writing this for (you might ask)?

I'm writing this because it's good exercise, a way to build up the muscles for writing things that I might get paid for. I'm writing this because I don't get to talk about writing much, and I enjoy talking about it. I'm writing this so I'll have some place to put all those random thoughts that pop into my head every day, which might just be longer than 140 characters.

I'm writing this because over this last year, I've realized that I really like writing. So I write. And if you happen to read what I write, be it here or in print, then I hope you enjoy.


Author's Log

Ah, right. In keeping with the title, I'll be documenting my writing output. This will help keep me honest about how much I'm writing, let me brag a little bit on the good days, and shame me appropriately on those days where I don't get anything done. Word counts, works in progress read, pages edited: it all goes here.

Today, I wrote a 300 word critique of a short story submitted to the Critters Workshop, a website dedicated to letting authors seek critiques on their work in progress. The catch is, you have to give critiques to get critiques; but it's free to join, and you do get to read a nice selection of fantasy, horror, and science fiction stories.

Current Reading

Last but not least, anything I'm reading at the moment (that I feel like mentioning) will get listed here. To quote Stephen King, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write."

Today's reading included:

Why the Beatles Broke Up, in issue 1086 of Rolling Stone
Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

I've only read the first page of Dead Until Dark, and I'm wondering how much of the TV show (which juggles a pretty large ensemble) came from the book (which uses a first-person point of view), and how much just got made up. And I'm looking forward to page two.