Category Archives: Writing

Entries where I talk about my writing: stories, novels, general creativity.

I Suppose I Ought to Blog

I have a blog, theoretically, and once in awhile I post to it. I’m going to make a goal of posting at least once a week, but who knows how long that will last. Who knows indeed. I have Thoughts and Things to share, some of which might be of interest to both of my regular readers.

So here we go.

Politics.

  1. The election of Donald Trump as President was unfortunate at best. I don’t think it will end up being apocalyptic for the world at large, by which I mean I doubt we’ll see nuclear war. But for many marginalized groups, things are already getting bad. As as middle-aged, middle class, white, Christian, cis-hetero male, I probably have the least to lose, but I firmly believe that what harms one population in the US harms us all.

Writing.

  1. For NaNoWriMo, I wrote Padma, which I’d had in the planning stages for several years, ever since I wrote a strange little story called “The Flower” back in 2005. This story was called “very sexist” by one editor, but “charmingly engaging” by another. I hope that the novel works out well. We’ll see what happens to the novel version.
  2. My novella The Winds of Patwin County is still for sale, in both Kindle and paperback editions. See the link to the left.
  3. I have a silly little short story called “Tumbleweeds”, which has been called the definitive entry in the carnivorous plant genre by at least one friend of mine, and which at least one professional writer suggested ought to be submitted to the Writers of the Future contest. I’m not thoroughly satisfied with this story. It needs a new ending. But once I have that ending written, I have some markets in mind that I want to send it to.
  4. My next novel-length project will be something called And the Devil will Drag You Under, which I’ve mentioned before. The outline requires a good rewrite, since I’ve decided to switch the point of view character and make some other serious changes to it.

Health.

  1. Asthma. I underwent all three Bronchial Thermoplasty treatments, and my breathing has significantly improved. Now if only the insurance people would get their act together and decide how much I owe for that.
  2. Weight Loss. I went back up over 300 pounds at one point, but then I joined Weight Watchers (since the weight loss plan I tried to make up for myself wasn’t working), so I’ve lost about ten of those pounds. You want them? I’m not taking them back.

Kobolds.

  1. My mental state has been good of late. The Kobolds of Depression haven’t been bothering me much, though every now and then they send out a scout party.

And that’s all I got for now. Enjoy your day. And if you get a chance, listen to some Tom Waits.

It’s a-comin’

It’s getting close to that time of year. Not Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any of those other holidays (though you should definitely remember my birthday on December 31). No, I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month! It happens in November, when people who are insane enough sign up to write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words in a single month. I’m participating for the fifteenth time (good Lord!); I did it for the first time in 2001, skipped 2002 because I was traveling a lot for work, and have done it every year since. And every year I’ve hit that 50,000 word goal. And, as I have done every year since 2007, I’ll be one of two Municipal Liaisons in the Sacramento area. This means that it’s up to me and my friend Katster to coordinate participants, arrange meetups and parties, and what-not.

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_municipalliaison

Usually this is the part where I beg for money to send me to the Night of Writing Dangerously, but I’ve decided not to go this year. It’s fun, but I’ve done it for five years now, and now someone else can have the fun.

Anyway. This year I plan on writing a total of 60,000 words instead of just 50,000. That means a minimum of 2,000 words per day of November. It’ll be tricky, what with visiting family over Thanksgiving and all, but I’m sure I’ll make it work.

The novel I’ll be writing is called And the Devil Will Drag You Under. I got the title from the song “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” from the musical Guys & Dolls. My novel has nothing to do with the musical, or the song, really. I just liked the title. It also has nothing to do with the Jack L. Chalker novel of the same name. And you can’t copyright a novel title, so I’m golden.

Usually I put my novel online as I’m writing it, but I won’t be doing that this time around. I’m too excited about the novel and will hopefully one day clean it up and send it out into the world to be published, and putting it online counts as a form of publication, which might get in the way of my chances to sell first publication rights to anyone. So I won’t be doing that this year.

Here, enjoy the song from Guys & Dolls. It’s a fun song, even if, thematically, it has nothing (or at least, very little) to do with my novel.

In case you hadn’t heard…

…My novella The Winds of Patwin County is now available in paperback through Amazon! For the low, low price of $5.99! So if you haven’t read it yet because you were waiting for the paperback edition, read it now!

That’s it for now. Soon I will have more updates on ongoing projects and other future stuff. But now my break’s over and work calls. Sigh.

Accountability Post No. 1

I’m going to post one of these “Accountability Posts” from time to time, to, uh… keep myself accountable to the writing goals I set for myself earlier. So here’s how I’m doing on each one:

  1. Story per month. Well, I haven’t written a story in February, and my January story, “Flash Drive”, is still in progress. I submitted it to my writers’ groups, and got some fantastic feedback, but there are serious flaws that need to be addressed. So, I plan on revising it heavily, and then sending it out to my mailing list.
  2. Paperback version of “The Winds of Patwin County”. Um. So. No progress here.
  3. Publish Tales from Patwin County. I long ago selected some of the stories that I want to include in this collection, so that’s done. I need to track down someone who can do the cover art. And revise and format the stories themselves.
  4. Finish first draft of Padma. I’ve made substantial progress on the outline, but I’m finding this project intimidating. It involves so much that I just don’t know: quantum cosmology, Hindu mythology, what medical school is like, and so on. I’m finding good resources online, but still… kind of overwhelming.
  5. Write some nonfiction. Aside from my last two blog posts, I haven’t written any. Not yet. I did set up my science blog, The Penguin Scientific, but I haven’t posted anything there yet.
  6. Submit more fiction. I haven’t done so yet.

I suppose part of the reason for not making much progress on any of these goals is simply being tired. Plus, since I spend my entire day in front of a computer at work, I’m never necessarily motivated to get in front of my computer at home and do work. Far easier to sit on the sofa in the living room, eating dinner and watching old episodes of Face Off. That’s as inspired as I get in the evenings.

So hopefully, doing these accountability posts from time to time will help me focus and do what needs to be done.

Here’s your reward for bearing with me on this: the video to “Drink with the Living Dead” by Ghoultown. It’s a creepy song, and not safe for work. Enjoy!

Writing Goals for 2016

Well, now that January is more than halfway over with, I suppose it’s time to come up with some goals for the new year, isn’t it? So. Here are some of my own goals for the new year:

  1. I entered a “death pact” with a few friends. This pact is to write a short story a month for the entire year. My January story, “Flash Drive”, is mostly complete except for revising according to feedback, although it is sort of a cheat; I started it a few months ago as part of my “Story of the Week” project. My February story is also going to be a cheat of sorts: it will be a final revision of “Burying Uncle Albert”, which needs quite a bit of work. Someday, I swear, that story will be finished.
  2. FINALLY put together and put up for sale the hard copy of “The Winds of Patwin County”. People have been asking for this. My goal is to have this up and ready on Amazon.com by May.
  3. And speaking of Patwin County, I plan to have another ebook, Tales from Patwin County, ready for sale soon. This collection will contain “Just Like This”, “Burying Uncle Albert”, and a couple of others which I haven’t decided on yet.
  4. I also hope to have the first draft of Padma done by the end of this year. I’ve already committed to submitting the first half of the first draft to my critique group by June, so… tick tock, I suppose.
  5. I also plan on writing some actual non-fiction articles this year, probably science-related.
  6. Of course, I’d also like to sell some more fiction this year. “The Hunt”, which was published in The Literary Hatchet in August (see my Bibliography page for more information), was my first sale since 2011; I don’t want another four-year gap between publications. But I can’t really make “sell more stories” a goal, since I personally don’t have a lot of control over whether a story sells or not. But I can control whether or not I submit stories, so I certainly plan on submitting more. I want to have five active submissions at all times. That’s a tough goal, but I think I can do it. I’ve done it before, but not over the span of a full year. The Submissions Grinder over at Diabolical Plots will, hopefully, help me keep on track.

That’s it. Six goals. That should be enough to keep me busy all this year. If you’re a fellow writer, and you actually read this entry, feel free to post a comment with your own goals.

Happy new year!

A Death in November

So. Back in 2005, when National Novel Writing Month rolled around in November, I wrote Fred Again, a novel about a police detective and a young woman facing Lovecraftian forces beyond their control, and winning. Sort of. There was a lot going on in that novel.

The title Fred Again didn’t come from me, though. It came from my friend Nicole. You see, I announced in October that I had no idea what I was going to write, so I simply solicited titles from my friends on the Internet, and decided that with that title, I’d simply sit down at midnight on November 1 to see what came out. As a reward for suggesting a winning title, I said, I’d kill the friend off in the manner of their choosing in the novel. I got so many great title ideas that I decided to use them as chapter titles, meaning that each chapter featured a gruesome death scene featuring my friends. It was a blast to write, and, by all accounts, a blast to read. And the really neat thing is that Fred Again sort of set me on a new path in my writing. Up until then I’d been writing straight horror or science fiction, and not enjoying it too much. With Fred Again I made the switch to comic horror, and my writing has been a lot more fun since then.

It’s been ten years since then, and once again I have no idea what I’m going to write for National Novel Writing Month. Actually, that’s not entirely true; I had an idea, but it requires planning and outlining and what not, which, at this point, I just don’t have time for. So I’m going to do what I did in 2005: sit down at midnight on November 1 and start writing and see what happens.

Of course I have no idea what the title of the novel will be, nor what the chapter titles might be, so once again I’m soliciting ideas.

So: Got a novel/chapter title suggestion for me? Post it in the comments on this blog post, reply to me on Twitter, or post a comment in Facebook. As a thank you, I will happily write you into my novel and kill you off in the manner of your choosing.

Suggest away!

Ways to Spend Money, Redux

Hm, I’m noticing that it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here to my blog. It’s nobody’s fault, in particular, I’ve just been busy. And when I haven’t been busy, I’ve been… well, busy. Busy busy busy. I took a class in advanced PHP/SQL and that took up a LOT of time. And now that the class is over, I’m working on finishing up the final project for that class: basically, I’m rebooting Holidailies, a blogging community which has been running pretty much consistently for over ten years.

Between that and other projects, I’ve had very little time for writing or for blogging. This is weighing upon my soul.

For now, though, I’m soothing my aching heart by writing this quick blog entry during my lunch break at work. I want to offer you a couple of different ways to spend money, which I know is something you really want to do.

First, you could donate to National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writers Program through the nano_15_wat_poster_online_imagefundraiser that Jennifer and I are running. It’s called The Night of Writing Dangerously, and we’ve participated before.  The Young Writers Program is a fantastic way to encourage children up to age 17 to stretch and flex their creative energies by writing novels or stories themselves. I know several children who have participated, and their creativity is awesome. This is highly recommended.

And, of course, I’d like to encourage you to spend $2.99 and purchase the Kindle edition of my novella, The Winds of Patwin County. This little story has gathered some great reviews, and I’mThe Winds of Patwin County Cover particularly proud of it. Now, I know that not everyone has a Kindle or a Kindle app on their smart phone or tablet, so I am preparing a paperback edition that will hopefully be up for sale on Amazon soon. But, again, this is one of those projects that have been put on hold while I focus on Holidailies.

This novella comes with a content warning, though, and I should stress that it is definitely not safe for children. When they make the movie version, it will definitely be rated R. So if you want to do something that’s safe for kids, then, once again, I recommend donated to our fundraiser.

That’s it. Soon, I will have more to say. I promise that this blog won’t languish for too long before my next post.