Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why What I Think is Bad Might Not Jive With What You Think is Bad

LAST WEEK I GAVE MY ALL in an effort to win a much coveted award for worst novel opening. A quick tally of votes  looked something like this:

It’s Awesome:                       10
It Sucks:                                 2
No comment on quality:           1

I couldn’t get that sort of agreement on anything, ever. I would be thrilled except it was supposed to suck. What happened?

Well, first off, I did round, so if someone said it wasn’t too bad, I counted that as awesome. If someone said it wasn’t their favorite, then I put that down as a suck. It might sound like a stupid scoring system, but it helps me clarify things. I’m all about making nuanced opinions seem like a black or white issue.

Regardless, I got some quizzical sort of responses in the comments, people asking if I even understood the challenge. I figured I’d take a whole post to explain myself, since I clearly failed in what I was trying to convey.

Anyone see that episode of the Simpsons when the director of a soap opera wanted an ugly actor? When they brought in local bartender, Mo, for the part, the director screamed, “I wanted Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island ugly, not ugly ugly.”

That was my Mary Ann ugly, not my ugly ugly. Ugly ugly have been like:

There was this guy that was going to the bathroom except that he forgot his keys and then remembered that he didn’t need them and so he went and he felt better. Also, he was rich and could dunk a basketball. He was awesome. And Cats! Ninjas were there because the only time he can’t protect himself from assassination is when he was using the bathroom, because that’s his only weakness – bathroom breaks. One time, there was a bug that got stuck in the sink at my house, I ended up killing it though. Bugs are gross!!! Go Vols! Lol!!! J

Granted, there might be some poor soul out there in the interwebs that thinks that the above is quality writing, but I doubt they would be the majority. At the same time, there is very little challenge in that, I think. The challenge is in making something that a person can recognize as bad, but still enjoy.

That was my thought process at least. And in my defense, it was much worse when it was 450 words long. I kept cutting and cutting until I could get it down to 300. Every word had to be carefully debated. I cut out tons of adverbs, extra-lame description, I regretted that I shorted the first paragraph down like I did… originally it had the phrase “Sahara summer reverse-oven-broil cold”.

But I cut it out in favor of a more concise sentence. Had to get it down to 300. What was left probably worked a bit better than I meant for it to. In fact, I went back and reread it preparing for this post and thought, I would totally read that.

But readable or not, that was what I was thinking.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cute Doggies!

I have been meaning to have a post ready to go on Mondays for a while now... until this week I couldn't seem to get one ready before Wednesday. I'm all over it now though.

A little while back we got a puppy. That means we have three dogs now. THREE DOGS!
Count them... it's THREE!
So, the young one (in the middle) is pretty smart. He's doing things at 9 weeks that the oldest dog (on top) took 6 months to figure out and that the little one (on bottom) still hasn't figure out.

However, it is still a puppy, and as such, has to be put in its place, like when the eldest decides that the puppy has no right to mess with me. I managed to video just such an encounter below. Tell me that isn't awesome and I'll call you a liar.

Thank you Lucy, way to keep me safe from a little puppy... wish I had her around when I was in middle school.

Friday, January 25, 2013

How Not to Write a Novel

MISHA GERICKE IS HOLDING her first 'Word Master Challenge’ blogfest and I am all over this one. I totally know how not to start a novel, any of my half-dozen or so actual attempts could be held up as an example. But instead of using one of them I decided for some original prose instead.

Without further adieu:

To say the winters in Minnesota are cold is to say that the summers in the Sahara are hot. Hot like the heat from a oven turned to broil – except the cold version of that. That’s what winters in Minnesota are like: Sahara summer cold.

Of course, Beatrice Jenkins doesn’t live in Minnesota, or the Sahara. She just wished she did, then disposing of the body jammed into her trunk would be easier.

Not that she knew how snow would make it easier to get rid of a body, but it felt like it would help. And in the desert, well, it’s a desert, nobody even goes there. Except for people who live there already, and those people are pretty weird.

Wait, where is the Sahara? Beatrice thought for a few moments. Is that the one in California? If the one in California isn’t the Sahara then nevermind. Because she meant one in America. She doubted she could get her unemployment checks if she lived in a foreign desert.

Thinking of all that cold in Minnesota made her want some coffee, which made her want some smokes. Definitely not moving to Minnesota, she’d be back to three packs a day within month.

There was a light touch on her arm. Lenny, the man that got her into this mess, was staring at her.

“Don’t do that,” he said, tapping the side of his nose with his finger. “I don’t like the smell of mentholated cigarettes.”

She looked down, sure enough, she held a lit cigarette. Didn’t recall lighting one up. “I’m not overly fond of the smell of rotting corpses either,” she said, “but I’ve learned to live with it.”

He looked out the window and let out a deep breath. “It might be you in the trunk next time.”

I worked hard on that one. The rules said it had to be 300 words or less… that’s 300 words ON THE NOSE! I should get bonus points for that. If words are missing then that’s on purpose, it’s supposed to be bad.

Actually, I started out trying to make it as corny as I could and in the end I kinda liked it. I’m not sure what that says about my taste in prose.

AND DON'T FORGET Andrew Leon’s short story competition where the prize for winning is the greatest chocolate on the planet earth. The talent that is lining up for this one is pretty daunting, but hey, you can always accuse the judges of unethical behavior if you lose… that’s my plan anyway.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened

I WROTE A Blog post recently, and then I lost it. Seriously, I wrote this whole thing, then I don't know where it is. It was pretty long, and I tried really hard to not have typos and stuff, and I don't know what happened. I'm really upset about it, it was a lot of work.

The thing is, I was going to post it today. Now, not so much. Oh well, I now work on about three computers on a daily basis and I might have just written it on another one and I don't feel like going and looking for it now. Rest assured, it was awesome.

Shoot, now that I said that I can never post it. Once people read it they'll think, this is what he said is awesome? So forget I said anything about that. Let's start over.

I won't miss you. But I'll miss enjoying you.
I'VE FINALLY COME to the point where I no longer want fish tacos. I had some today and really didn't enjoy it. I'm afraid that part of my life has come to a close.

There was a time that I hated them, then later, when I loved them. Now, they're just part of my past.

AND I COMPLAIN SOMETIMES about my tbr pile. I figured I might as well just show you.

I'm not reading the folders on the bottom right.
Yes, except for to of those books, which I've already read but want to keep nearby for quick access, they are all things I am planning on reading in the next year or two. Some of them have been there since before Border's went under. Obviously, this doesn't include my ebooks that I intend to read in the months ahead, nor does it include items that get bumped to the head of the line when released (Like new installments of The Dresden Files books, or anything by Alastair Reynolds).

I plan on culling this pile some in the coming months though, some books seemed awesome to me at one time, but when I look at them now I think I might have picked up some marginal items. I read 60 books or so in 2012, and the thought has occurred to me that if I read at a similar pace for the next 50 years then I might have 3000 books left in me to read.

That seems like a lot at first mention, but I think the number is pretty small really. I have to start being more choosy about what I read - quit something when I know it isn't working for me or quit putting off things I really want to read.

Friday, January 18, 2013

No Post For Me Today

I HAVE BEEN INTENDING to post twice a week for the most part. But I was still enjoying the afterglow of my post from Wednesday when I realized that I have nothing else planned for the week.

So, anyone see that io9 post the other day about those short films being turned into Hollywood flicks?

Check it out by clicking this.

ALSO, ANDREW LEON is running a short story contest with a real prize... read all about it ---> HERE.

I WON a gift card at PT Dilloway's weekly trivia challenge... wait, maybe it's a monthly challenge. Regardless, I won! I'm pretty excited about spending my money. It's burning a hole in my (virtual) pocket.

GEEZ, what else? Oh, I did start writing again, it was my first time back writing in a few months. Honestly, it was awkward and not very compelling prose, and it took me a long time to write a few hundred words, but I think of it like going to the gym after a long layoff - it takes a few sessions to get back into the swing of things.

How a dialog between two people discussing a criminal can turn into a conversation about how much rotting fish stink so quickly is beyond me. That I wrote that scene is even more bizarre... that one is going into the trash bin.

AND FINALLY, for the love of all that is good in the world, if you haven't been hearing about the plight of Notre Dame linebacker, all-american, and Heisman runner-up and his totally made up dead girlfriend that was used to inspire his team all the way to the national championship game, then please take a moment and read all about it. Because, damn.

AND THERE IT IS, a post that's just like an episode of Seinfeld, except not funny, it's about nothing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I F#€&'n Forgot to Title my Space Post!

Yesterday, the great Andrew Leon wrote a blog post about why we have to move out into the solar system. It’s a post about dreaming big, and about cats - but lately most of his posts involve cats in some way. Of course that reminds me of the story of John Scalzi and his experiment of combining the two largest internet memes for a post by strapping a bunch of bacon to his cat and taking pictures.

The result of his experiment was one of the most popular posts in the history of the internet.

So, I think Andrew is trying to get the cat people engaged in space exploration – well played, Andrew, well played.

Now, as I’ve lamented in the past, I don’t really have the time to blog properly, well, I do have time I suppose, but that is time that I tend to spend doing other things, reading, writing, artsy stuff, whatever. I think I’m proving with each and every post that I could never be a journalist, or columnist, or reviewer.

But I can be a rambler. No links, not citations, just me saying stuff. Yes, that is my call in this world.

So, where what I? Oh yes, our call to action. To dream of the stars.

I’ve spent a lot of my time in the past decade or three thinking on this topic. Of reading on this topic, and here are my thoughts:

We will never get off our planet in a meaningful way. Ever.*

Why? The bottom line is that it’s all about money. Even with a fortune in minerals out there  locked up in Near Earth Asteroids (should be enough iron, gold, nickel, etc., to wreck virtually every market we have here on earth) there is the startup costs of getting out there. Right now it’s in the neighborhood of  $2,000 or $3,000 per pound for SpaceX (about $10k per pound in the space shuttle days) just to get something into low earth orbit. Doing some quick math means that getting mining equipment (and workers) to something that might be millions of miles away (instead of 220) is going to cost well into the billions, and possibly into the trillions, of dollars. Since the first moon landing the U.S. has stopped throwing unlimited resources at space exploration. That well has all but dried up.

Cost to get here? Many Millions of Dollars
And what company is going to put up tens of billions or more in startup costs for something like this? Not any publicly held companies, that’s for sure. No private companies have the capital even if they wanted to. We may get orbiting hotels made meteor resistance balloons, and other one-off events from corporate endeavors, but real cutting edge exploration… I doubt that we’ll ever see it done without governments subsidizing the thing.

That leaves governments. The U.S. spends almost nothing on space exploration,** when compared to social services or defense, you can’t even see the NASA budget on a graph. Yet they are on the chopping block every year as ‘pork’ that needs to be cut out of the budget.

Cost of Getting Here? GAJILLIONS of Dollars!
That means they spend year after year making ludicrous promises as to what they can deliver and giving projections for spending that is a fraction of what they actually need. The space shuttle was a total disaster from the beginning if you look at what they promised, a launch per month at a cost per pound that was unheard of, you’d see why folks in congress don’t like NASA accountants very much. Something similar happened with the ISS (International Space Station), the U.S. committed to it internationally, then got stuck funding it later when other nations *coughrussiacough* decided not to. Add to that the cost overruns that were billions and billions of dollars, and we have this huge floating money pit in space.

And NASA has done this with almost every project it’s been a part of since Apollo. They seem to be hoping that congress will engage in that gambler’s mentality of being so financially committed that they don’t stop the funding for fear of losing everything.

And the budget gets cut almost every year, it’s not like they’re fooling anyone.

So I don’t think the governments of the world will enable us to be living in L5 habitats, or domed cities on Mars, or floating cities over Venus. If there is a hope, it’s that within the next 50 years that we can build a space elevator. We don’t have the materials science down to actually build the darned thing, but we’re close. If the world could have a joint location that they agreed upon and all the powers that be contribute to defray costs, then we might have a way to reach orbit cheaply. From there, the rest is easy.

Then, the dreamers that Andrew talked about can have their chance. Then we get the old west type of land grants and such that makes exploration and migration really possible. Much has been made of how China once had a naval fleet that was the envy of the world, then within a generation they dismantled it and spent the next few centuries looking inward and dealing with problems at home. When the europeans rolled in much later they found folks that were a mere shadow of their ancestors. I think I’ve made the comparison here on this blog myself and won't belabor the point. Instead, I'd like to put a positive spin on it - I’d like to think that we went to the moon before just to see if we could, but the next time we go, we’re not pulling a stunt, but will be going to live.

*I didn’t mean that.

** Alastair Reynolds, my favorite sci-fi author, states that we spend more on chocolate than we do space exploration. We get an astounding bang for our buck with NASA, the ESA, etc., I don’t mean to give these guys too hard a time, I’m generally shocked at the awesome missions that are completed by them – mostly robotic – but that is beside the point here, which is HUMAN exploration.

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's Friday! And Here's a Manifesto

And this is my third post of the week. What's the world coming to? I'm thinking twice a week is a more reasonable posting schedule for me right now, but this makes three nonetheless.

Since I've been so embarrassingly introspective of late, I figured I'd take a moment and give an update on how my indie publishing life has been going.

It's funny really, as I have thought of A Dead God's Wrath and it's companion (unreleased) stories as something I hope to always release as something self published. I still have dreams of having novels and stories that are released the the old-time, traditional publishers, but I figure that can (and it has) take years, if ever.

So, I throw up A Dead God's Wrath well over a year ago. I don't go crazy with self promotion, I kind of throw it up and forget about it. After a few months of okay sales numbers it more or less disappears from the world's radar. It sells a copy or so every month, and that's about it.

A year passes and I realized that my long planned follow up isn't ready. In fact, it's taking way too long. I realize I have a story from an old anthology that I contributed to that I have all the rights to and I decide to put it up as, I don't know, a thing for people to read to remember that I'm still alive.

I re-read it as I'm putting it up and I don't like it nearly as well as I should have. I remember thinking it was great when I wrote it, now it seems very rushed, like I'm jamming too many things into too short a space. Things that I should have really expanded on are mentioned in a few lines and then the story moves on.

It really feels like a mess.

And yet, I do still kinda like it. Even with those things. So I put it up anyway - I try to the Amazon exclusive thing and make it free.... give away a few hundred typo ridden copies before I realize what I've put up, and then make the necessary changes just in time for it to revert to the lowest possible sale price on Amazon. At which time I forget about it and start thinking of other things.

60 days later Amazon sends me a letter telling me they are sending me money. Not a lot of money, but enough to go to the movies with - and buy some popcorn. Then I take a peek and see that I've sold many more copies of War Angel since they sent me my last wad of cash. It's earned enough to go to the movies again, and take my wife out with me.

It's small, a pittance really, but with no marketing, no push, aside from that initial surge that some blogger friends provided (a bigger deal than I'm making that out to be, thank you all), and I get a small feeling of gratitude that it's not getting returned en masse ether. People aren't reviewing in droves, but they're at least checking it out.

Thank you nameless internet people, thank you. Thank you blogger friends who read it, especially those of you that read it not because it sounded interesting, but because you knew me and wanted to support me. I'm really appreciative.

I toast you all,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Where I Ramble - Presumably About Being Old

IT'S 2013! When I was a kid, and I mean a pretty young kid, first coming to grips with the concept of numbers – not just learning to count, add and subtract, but of considering what numbers can mean. I think I already wrote in a previous post about my quest as a child to write ALL the numbers down – I used to try to think of the future. In 10 years, 20. In all my imagined futures I would envision myself as an adult, in a way that only a 5 or 6 year old can, and think of how great my life would be (eating cookies anytime I want, staying up past 8 p.m., being able to buy comics whenever I want… and yes, all those things are great).  

But in all that, I was never able to think beyond the year 2000. There was this fog in my head that started there and made thinking of what life would be like as a middle-aged person an impossible task. No, anything beyond 2000 was so far in the future as to be unknowable.

So here I am, 13 years beyond that fog of ignorance, and I’m still struggling with thinking of my life in the present tense. On occasion I’ll have these brief flashes of insight, a moment of perspective, that lets me consider my place in the world. I shiver at those times.

For example, I picked up a copy of 2001 a year or two ago. I’ve never read it. I’ve read Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End. But I nothing else by him (as a solo author at least, I’ve read many of his collaborations – and although he collaborated with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay to 2001, the novel is all Clarke).

So I grabbed it on my way out the door to work yesterday. I had just finished reading The Quantum Thief and wasn’t so sure what I wanted to start on next. I ended up not starting it because I’ve been caught up in the surprisingly excellent Gone Girl which is a mystery novel that my wife strongly recommended I listen to as I drive to and from work – I’ve since been spending lunch hours in my car, as well as looking for excuses to take a drive.

Now, I have The Sentinel at home as well, and I intended to read it first, as I’ve been made aware that that was the novel that inspired 2001, which of course Clarke rewrote, renamed and released with the same title as the movie.* 

It’s been a joke for so long that it’s stopped being noteworthy, but the story of 2001 is supposed to take place in 2001, more than a decade ago. What dawned on me the other day however, was when I stumbled upon the novel 2010 (the sequel) and realized that takes place in our past too.

Damn. The future is the past. Other people point his out on a regular basis. I know that on an intellectual level… but sometimes I’ll have a moment of clarity where it just punches me in the gut and it hits me in a whole different way.

ALL THAT SAID, it made me think of 2013, how incredibly old the child version of me would think I am,  and what I want to do with my golden years. Last year, I wrote a post of my goals and by all accounts I did not achieve them. This year I hope to finally embrace revision and editing and get all those 85% completed things that I have and finally wrap them all up. And that’s it. That way, should I die (because I'm old), then I'd have something there, rotting on a hard drive, that would let the people that are here k
now that I finished something.

Oh, there is one more thing, I've got an awesome novel idea that I’ve got to get done.

ONE OTHER THING - I there was a story on io9 the other day about music being composed entirely by a computer. Click..... HERE..... to read and watch a performance.

It made me think of two things. 1) I told you so (I wrote a post about this back in 2009 I think. It was very insightful). And 2) Computer written novels will be coming soon.

*That doesn’t happen too often, but that isn’t unprecedented, I know Steven Gould did that with Jumper. He wrote the novel, then when it was made into a Hollywood extravaganza, he wrote an entirely different novelization of the movie based on the novel… I think Disney’s John Carter also had a novelization, but one obviously not written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Last 2012 Recap Post

I think I've hinted around for a while now that I was pretty dissatisfied with my writerly pursuits in 2012. Since I went through my books read during the year, I thought I would go over the things I wrote in 2012 and see what I actually did, and what I didn't do.

The Blutonian Death Egg - Finished - A novel about a twenty-something slacker that finds himself as humanity's representative to an alien species.

I've really just sat on this. I submitted this a couple of years ago to a traditional publisher or three and then pulled it back after several rejections and rethought what I was doing here. It's now a contemporary tale that I started a decade ago. It's getting dated. I had a few people read it in the past two years (Hey Alex! Hey Donna!) but in 2012 I decided to rework it some more... I just didn't work on it due to the other shiny things that captured my attention.

Nada's Song - Finished - a post apocalyptic short story set on a small moonbase. I thought it would be neat to explore what happens to people left alone after the world ends, namely, astronauts on the moon.

Submitted to and rejected by: Writer's of the future, Analog, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld & Daily Science Fiction.

I like the story, a lot. I had to deal with the fact that it was a last-person-on-earth scenario which makes it a bit experimental for me. I mean, without other characters it's hard to do a traditional story. I think it works, but not everyone agreed with me.

The Legend of Catkid - Finished - A superhero origin story. I thought it would be fun to write a short-story that included b-list superheros that sometimes peddle dope on the side to make ends meet.

Submitted to and rejected by: Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, Lightspeed, Michael Morcock's New Worlds*, Clarkesworld.

Another one I loved. One rejection had a note that mentioned how much they enjoyed some aspects of the story but felt it was a bit unfocused. I understand, it is all over the place.

My Killbot Buddy - Finished - probably my favorite story I wrote during the year. A story about a 120 year-old that has his dementia cured only to find out the whole world wants him dead for something he did while suffering from his affliction.

Submitted to and rejected by: Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Asimov's, Escape Pod, Lightspeed & Analog. 

Proof that thinking you've written an amazing story doesn't mean anyone else will.

Forager's Feast - Finished - Another post-apocalyptic story, this one about future scavengers looking for the things they need to survive.

Submitted to and rejected by: Apex Magazine, Pseudopod & Nightmare Magazine.

I waffled on whether or not I should even submit this one, it has a twist ending that I wasn't really thrilled with. But I decided that I would let any potential editors make that decision. So far they've seemed to agree with my gut that this one isn't ready.

Going Home - Finished - Another one I personally thought was great. And yep - the world was ending again. It was 2012 after all, I mean, the world was supposed to have ended. It was on my mind. This is about the fall of the last soldiers remaining during an alien invasion.

Submitted to and rejected by: Lightspeed, Shimmer & Clockwork Phoenix.

This one might have been missing something, I dunno. I liked it.

Elvis, Leia, and Greedo Walk into a Bar... - Finished - a contest for a Star Wars competition. I can't recall what happened with that, but I posted it on my blog. You can read it any time you want by clicking on the page above.

Unnamed Ghost Story - Finished - You'd think I'd have a name for it. But it's about a peeping tom that accidentally stumbles onto a haunted bridge.

Written specifically for a locally produced anthology that is to be released sometime in 2013.

Lot's of local landmarks in this one. It was a great deal of fun to write.

The Ice Machine - Sorta Finished - A novelette written and almost great... but with something missing. It serves as a prelude of sorts for a novel drafted two years ago but never competed. It's complicated. Anyway, it's a story that stands alone but needs a companion piece to work. Not real sure what to do with it.

Submitted nowhere... it's sitting in a file while I try to figure what to do with it.

It'll be finished. I swear.
Total Depravity - WIP - my never ending novella/short novel about a colonial era man hunting an escaped slave that I keep rewriting. I put it aside in October when I got stuck doing rewrites. I swear, it'll be done soon. This one is going to be self-pubbed once complete.

The Ascension Artifact** - WIP - I did the infamous Writer's Roundtable podcast about this one. Ugh. I put this aside mid-year to focus on Total Depravity. You can see that didn't work out too well for me. The intent for this one is to submit to traditional publishers once this one is done.

Mary's Tale - abandoned/shelved - I may pick it up and finish it. But anyone who's read A Dead God's Wrath might recall Mary. This is another story that takes place in her life in the modern era. It's a premise that lacks a story right now. I worked on it for some time before I just gave up because I couldn't make it work.

Billy vs Science - shelved - I plan on finishing this later, really. But it's 1000 words or so about a boy that thinks he's a cosmic power trapped living the life of an elementary school child. I loved the premise so much that I need to come back to it and really focus on it when I can do it justice.

Unnamed apocalyptic tale - abandoned - a short story about why googling things won't work once society fails. I figured that this one was a bit too preachy. But man, it certainly proved my point.


And that's about it for me. There were a few flash fiction pieces I toyed with during the year, but for the most part. These were the things that consumed me in 2012.

And now you know.

* I actually was a bit unsure about New World's submission guidelines. I actually ended up writing to them and removing myself from consideration after 6 months or so. I'm sure I would have been rejected eventually anyway.

** That is NOT going to be the title of that book when it's finished. Ugh.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Another List - This One With Books!

My favorite books of 2012

What a loaded topic. Since I know so many authors that have produced a lot of content I read during the year, I considered not doing this list at all. I decided to just let it be though, and do what I do, and hope I don’t leave anyone out that I wanted to put in. You know, I don’t want to risk hurting anyone’s feelings. So, to alleviate that, I decided to post a list of all the books I’ve read this year first. (Skip below to see what I have to say about this)

Clicking makes it bigger... if that sort of thing is important to you.

First thing I’d point out, now that the year is over and I have a chance to reflect, is that I didn't read that many books last year. Without knowing a great way to verify this, I'd wager this was the least I've read in more than a decade*. Too bad. 

The second thing I'd point out is that I gave a lot of very good ratings to many of the books and stories listed here. I was disappointed in a few, but all in all, I had a good year reading. I still wish I'd read more, but I'm pretty happy with my selections. It was a really strong year for my personal enjoyment.

In fact, I think I gave something along the line of twenty 5 star reviews. That’s a lot of great books. I also get the feeling that if I were to make a new list I might be tempted to change things around a bit. I mean, this was the year that I discovered Brandon Sanderson, I’d put him at the top of any list I have of favorite authors, but when I came down to tallying up my favorite individual stories of the year, he didn't make the cut.

What did?

3) Desert Spear, By Peter V Brett: This is one fantastic novel. I was so thrilled when I got done reading that I spent 45 minutes or so doing some fan art. I was honored when the author saw it on my DeviantArt page and commented.

This is the sequel to The Warded Man from a few years earlier and is about as well done as a fantasy novel can be. I couldn't love it any more than I did. I’m so stoked for the third installment that comes out early in 2013. Brett writes a bit slower than many, so a new release from him is a big deal to me.

2) The Scariest Things You Can’t Imagine, By Briane Pagel: I had promised myself that I wouldn't put anyone I know on a list of things I like this year. I really did. To do that is to start ranking the works of people I know and like and am friends with, not what I want to do. But I did read a lot of small press or indie published books last year and the very least of them was still good. In fact, I can promise that if I expanded this list to a top 10, at least 3 other folks I know would have had their works listed. Actually, it might be more than that. Again, singling one person out gives me a bit of the ickies, but really, when I look back over the year, I’d be lying if I didn't mention this collection of short stories. I read a lot of short stories this year, I critiqued a ton for critters, I read many from magazines as 'research' as I wrote several short stories during 2012, but of them all, this was what blew me away. 

1) Caliban's War, by James S.A. Corey. That's actually a pseudonym for two people, but I won't get into that. This was the most fun I've had reading a novel in a while. It struck the perfect blend of Star Trekish type of space opera, hard-ish scientific vigor, and all out adventure. I find it stunning that this is the second book in a trilogy, I almost quit reading the first installment half-way through because I couldn't get into it. It either got way better after the debut or I learned to appreciate it. 

*Part of me is unsure of this. Several of the books I read were 800 - 1200 page epics. Total wordcount might not be too far off from previous years. But I'd have to start digging into details there, and I don't feel up to that right now.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


The great Alex J Cavanaugh has given us a noble task of venting all our writerly neurosis onto the world on the first Wednesday of each month. I, as part of my new year’s resolution, decided to be more awesome this year, actually that was my only resolution. I’m already on pace to brush my teeth more often and I parted my hair for work today. Oh, I also did ALL the dirty laundry yesterday. So, I can pretty much mark off my resolution as mission accomplished for 2013.


Where was I? Oh, well, we’ll just call the fact that this post did not go up this morning as my first big oopsie of the year. See, I got my days a bit mixed up. I thought internet-wise that today was Tuesday (in the real world, I knew it was Wednesday – there is a downside to the ability to compartmentalize, leads to contradictory beliefs).


So anyway, all that aside, today is my day to vent. Ready?


I haven’t written a word of fiction since October.


Nothing. Nada. What have I been doing. Well, outlining, breaking down my WIP into small chunks and carefully reviewing each scene. Nominally, I hope to make it better. Really, I’m stalling. I have to change my ‘about me’ page to reflect my self-published novella coming out later than I said it would. I’ve just not done a thing.


And that’s weird to me, I was on quite a roll I think for a lot of the year. My actual wordcount may not have been ridiculously high for the year, but I did write something in the neighborhood of a dozen stories – I’d say on average about 5k words per. I liked them all, more or less. I did leave a few unfinished, but for the most part, I didn’t leave many things undone.  


Then it all came to a screeching halt. Not just writing, but everything related to it. I didn’t think of it at the time, but if I were get all analytical with myself, I think I had a crisis around the time I hit 40. I realized that I’m getting older, I’ve got a family that I’ve been neglecting, and job that is getting more and more demanding with each passing day, and quite honestly, I’m not sure my level of craft is good enough to warrant continuing to spend so much time dedicating towards it.


So, I don’t decide anything, I just flounder about and hope I’m hit with a flash of inspiration that allows me to be better at everything, and have more time to do everything. I’m hoping that talking about it gets it all out of my system and I can move forward.


Wish me luck on that.