Tag Archives: Writing

A “Winds of Patwin County” Giveaway

I’m feeling generous now, so I’m doing a giveaway of “The Winds of Patwin County“!

First, I’m offering a free copy of the ebook to anyone who signs up for my “Story of the Week” mailing list. You can sign up here for the list. You will receive the ebook immediately upon signing up.

And second, I’m offering a free trade paperback copy of this novella to the first five people who leave a review (either positive or negative) on either GoodReads or Amazon.

That’s all. I really hope you like my story and will spread the word far and wide about it.

The Winds of Patwin County Cover

Some writing-related news

First, my Story of the Week thingy. I’ve rebooted it, and decided to start at Number One all over again. For purposes of this project, a story is at least 250 words and has a (mostly) coherent storyline. I sent out the first story, “The Hunt”, today, and hopefully the lucky readers will enjoy it. To sign up for my Story of the Week mailing list, go here. It’s fun!

Second, I’ve just put up a page for my novella, “The Winds of Patwin County“, featuring cover art by the fantastic Amber Feldkamp of Amber Covers. The novella will be available as an ebook on April 1 of this year, and in paperback on May 1. Share and enjoy!

Third, I’m considering setting up a Patreon page so that people can support my writing endeavors. Everyone else is doing it, it seems, and I just want to be cool. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Finally, on an unrelated note, my wife Jennifer and I just got Jawbone Up fitness bands. So if you’ve got one of those, let’s team up! I go under the name Richard Crawford, of course, and there’s a picture of me wearing a fez.

That’s all. Share and enjoy!

National Novel Writing Month and the Night of Writing Dangerously

National Novel Writing Month

Once again, Jennifer and I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month. That is to say, in November we will both commit to writing a 50,000 word original novel. This year I’ll be working on The Book of Jonah, a comedic modern retelling of… well, of the Book of Jonah from the Bible. Jonah has always struck me as the funniest of the Biblical prophets, and, while other writers have taken him on as their subject matter, it’s high time that someone did a modern take, with the sense of humor that marks the original tale.

Jennifer, of course, will be working on something entirely secret and esoteric. She may share some details with you as she goes along. Or she may not. She’s mysterious, that one.

At any rate, this means that once again we’re hoping to attend the Night of Writing Dangerously, an annual event held in San Francisco where hundreds of NaNoWriMo participants gather to spend the night writing. It’s basically a write-a-thon. And, as always, we’re raising money to do so; our goal this year is $375. Donations go straight to National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writers Program, which is a fantastic program aimed at getting kids ages 17 and younger to get writing and get their creative juices flowing. What could be spiffier than that? Our nephew has participated in this program, and we’re both mighty proud of him.

So to make a tax-deductible donation, click on the logo below, or on the “Night of Writing Dangerously” logo in the left navigation bar of my blog. Or you can click here! It’s all good. We would greatly appreciate it! And if you make a donation of $50 or more, I’ll be sure to include your name in The Book of Jonah somehow. Since I plan on putting the novel online as I write it, you’ll get to see your name in pixels. How exciting! No, really!

Anyway. Thanks. We both appreciate it your donation.

 NOWD-2014-Poster

Another writing post about goals: voice, style, etc.

When I was first writing, seriously, back in high school, I aimed to be the next Kurt Vonnegut. Not sure why. I wrote satirical science fiction and some serious science fiction and fantasy. These days I still admire Vonnegut and I love his writing, but the world already had a Vonnegut, and we don’t need another one.

Then for awhile I aimed to be the next Clive Barker. I wrote horror that I imagined was dark, edgy, and imaginative, with elements of humor. But now the horror market is oversaturated, and again, the world already has a Clive Barker, and we don’t need another one.

Then back in 2005, when I wrote Fred Again, I realized my main writerly goal: to be the next Christopher Moore. Since then I’ve written fiction that is humorous, with elements of the fantastic.

I’ve decided now on a new goal: to be the first Richard S. Crawford. I write stories of all sorts, from science fiction and fantasy to dark horror, to comical pastiches. I’ve come to realize that my fiction is a bit Christopher Moore, a bit A. Lee Martinez, a bit Tom Holt, a bit Terry Pratchett, and a bit of a whole bunch of other writers that I really admire. But mostly, I’m hoping that my fiction is distinctly mine, that I’ve found a voice that I can write with and that people will read and enjoy.

And all these thoughts came about because I sat down and decided on my next four novel projects (after Code Monkey), including my NaNoWriMo projects for 2014 and 2015! For your reference, those projects are:

  • Brought to Life (a rewrite of my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel);
  • Down to Nineveh
  • Brought to Life 2
  • The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster

And so I address my writer friends: what are your goals? Not just in terms of word count, but in terms of style and voice that you want to develop? Who are some of the authors that you really admire, and how have they influenced your own work?

Writing stuff

Writing workshop at Westercon 67

At Westercon last weekend (I will be posting a Con Report at some point this weekend), I participated in the con’s writing workshop. The two critiquers there had nothing much to say about my story, “Tumbleweeds”, except that they really liked it, they laughed all the way through it, and there are only a couple of places that need tightening up. They also recommended that I submit the story to the Writers of the Future contest. I was pretty pleased with all that, of course, but at the same time I suppose I was hoping for more.

I feel like I’ve moved past the point where these one-day workshops and critiques at various cons would be useful to me. I still have room to improve, definitely, but I also know that I’m a pretty good writer.

Code Monkey

Speaking of writing: As per a meme on Facebook, here’s a list of five tidbits regarding Code Monkey, my current work in progress:

    1. Much of it is inspired by the music of Jonathan Coulton;
    2. It features a giant squid named after our cat Sherman;
    3. It also features sasquatches named after our cats Ingrid and Rupert;
    4. It’s always Christmastime on Chiron Beta Prime! and
    5. It is also (very) loosely inspired by the 16th century Chinese novel Monkey: A Journey to the West. Because I can, that’s why.

Last night at our writers’ group I received several pretty thorough critiques of the first 40,000 words of Code Monkey. Plenty of good feedback, and I’m looking forward to applying what I learned to the rest of the novel.

Other writing projects, and some goals

It’s July, time for Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve never participated in Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s much like November’s NaNoWriMo, except without the parties and heavily populated write-ins. You also get to set your own goal, instead of the 50,000 words that you’re committed to writing in November. This month, I am determined to write the first 20,000 words of my new project, And the Devil Will Drag You Under (content forthcoming on this site). This novel is based on the short story I wrote a few months ago for my Story of the Week project.

And speaking of Story of the Week, I fully intend to resurrect that project in August. Right after Camp NaNoWriMo. I promise. No, really this time.

I have other novels I want to write as well. PadmaThe Outer DarknessThe Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster. And so on. And after I finish the first 20,000 words of And the Devil Will Drag You Under, I will get back to Code Monkey, and while that one is making the rounds I’ll start work on one of the others.

And, finally, I still plan on self-publishing “The Winds of Patwin County: A Tragedy in Four Gusts” soon, though it will probably happen in August or September, and not July as I’d previously hoped. It needs cover art, and it needs at least one more round of edits before I release it on an unsuspecting public.

And that’s it for now. Do you have writing goals? If so, what are they?

A Four Question Blog-Hopping Meme Thing About Writing

rockhopper-penguin
This friendly rock-hopper penguin welcomes you!

(Tagged by my friend Andrea Stewart. Andrea is a member of my face-to-face writers’ group, WordForge. She’s wicked talented and a really neat person to boot. Check out her website and her fiction.) 

So many books to read! So much television to watch! So much social media to catch up on, constantly! So much work to do at work! It’s actually kind of amazing that I get any writing done at all, isn’t it? And yet somehow I manage to get some words written on a more or less regular basis.

1. What are you currently working on?

Currently, a couple of things. First, of course, is my novel Code Monkey, which is a refinement of the novel I wrote for National Novel Writing Month in November 2009. I thought it was fun and I honestly believe it has potential. My goal is to complete the current draft within the next week so that I can submit it to my crit group this month.

I’m also working on a couple of short stories: “Flash Drive” and “The X of Doom”. And, of course, I plan to publish “The Winds of Patwin County” in July under the Igneous Books label. More details on that as they become available.

 2. How does your work differ than others in its genre?

That’s a tricky question because I’m not actually entirely sure what genre Code Monkey belongs in. I call it a “love story with occasional monsters” but that by no means implies that I’m writing a romance. I’ve asked around, and the people who’ve read early drafts seem to agree that it’s contemporary fantasy, but I’m not sure what defines that genre. So, I’m not sure how to answer this question, except to say that I hope I’m doing enough differently to make it entertaining and to avoid the tropes and cliches common to the genre it belongs in.

The same is true of the short stories I’m working on.

3. Why do you do what you do?

I’m not 100% sure, but I think it has something to do with just enjoying the process. I’ve written stories ever since I was very young (my mom still has “Tornado in the Sky”, a book I wrote when I was, I believe, 6). Whenever anyone suggests a game of Dungeons and Dragons, I want to be the Dungeon Master. I’m not always satisfied being the audience. I just like to create the worlds and the characters and the stories that they’re involved in.

4. How does your writing process work?

Too often, it simply doesn’t. While I almost always have a document open in Scrivener or LibreOffice on my computer, I’m too frequently distracted by something else: a novel I’m reading in one browser tab, or Facebook or Twitter in another. I know the best thing for me to do would be to shut down my Internet connection when I write, or simply switch to a workstation that has no Internet connection at all, but I find it’s simply too easy to restore the connection and start browsing again.

But I’ve set myself some goals. Daily writing. A certain word count or time spent editing per day. And so on. I’m hoping you readers will help hold me accountable.


And here I go, tagging some people.

First, Dex Fernandez. Dex is a talented writer and a good friend. We go back several years.

Second, Jessica, whom I know through NaNoWriMo, and who’s pretty spiffy, in my opinion.

Third, Jamie Thornton, another member of my writers’ group. She is the author of Rhinoceros Summer, a fantastic coming-of-age novel that spans two continents.

And, finally, Leigh Dragoon, a great writer, member of my writers’ group, and a good friend.

Story of the week: yet another update

Okay. Between jury duty (for a rather intense trial) and extra hours of work to make sure our website doesn’t explode this month, I’m finding I just don’t have time to write this month. So my Story of the Month project will resume in February instead of this month.

Sorry about that.

Story of the Week: An Update

I started my second Story of the Week project in July, then lost the momentum in September. Then I said I’d restart in December. Now I’m saying that I’m going to restart my Story of the Week project in January, with the first story coming out on Sunday, January 5. How’s that for a great way to start the new year?

Remember, if you’re interested in receiving each story as they come out, you can sign up here. A Yahoo membership is apparently required these days. Sorry about that.

This is not a Holidailies entry.

 

Story of the Week #10: “Death Poodles of Doom”

Yesterday I sent out the tenth Story of the Week, “Death Poodles of Doom”, to the subscribers of the Story of the Week mailing list. Remember, you can sign up for that mailing list here.

Writing vs. Kobolds

Sneak koboldWell, the kobolds are at it again. This whole week has been a mix of anxiety and depression and bouts of low self-esteem and, well, whatever else you can think of. The kobold attacks have focused on my writing, instead of my job and my general sense of personhood. I suppose that’s progress… of some sort… I don’t know. Whatever.

They’re sneaky, these kobolds. I can be doing whatever I’m doing and suddenly get stabbed in the back by some sort of kobold rogue. The bastards. This past week, I’ve been trying to focus on work, but the kobolds attacked my writing self esteem anyway. Again I say, those little bastards.

I Tweeted these attacks as they came. I figured that being public about my depression and anxiety couldn’t hurt. There are plenty of people who are open about these conditions, and they don’t seem to have any ill effects. So that’s what I did. Here are a couple of the Tweets that I made:

and…

and…

and so on. Various people on Twitter and Facebook pointed out that there were cognitive distortions behind these attacks, and that helped. Emotional reasoning, mind reading, fortune telling, and so on. It helped me come up with some logical responses, and while that helped a little, depression lies and blocks your ability to listen to logic.

It helps a little to go over my writing history. So here goes:

I wrote my first “book” when I was pretty young. I don’t remember my exact age, though my mom probably does. It was called “Tornado in the Sky” and it was about… well, a tornado in the sky. I’m not entirely sure what that means. But I wrote it, illustrated it, and bound it myself. I kept writing through middle school, proud of my stories, and through high school. In fact, my 12th grade English teacher actually told me that I was the finest writer he’d ever had to honor to teach, which made me feel great, because I had (and still have) a great deal of respect for him. I wrote more in my freshman year of college, even submitted my science fiction and fantasy stories to some of the major markets (Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). Never got a sale, though I got some very nice personal rejections from some of them.

And then in my second year of college — this would have been 1987 or so — I just… stopped. I fell in with a crowd that played a lot of role-playing games, and for years I focused on Dungeons and Dragons, and for something like fifteen years I focused all of my creative energies on role-playing games of various sorts. Almost always as a Game Master, not as a player; I loved worldbuilding and running games in the worlds that I created, and, if I do say so myself, I was pretty good at it. At least two people have said publicly (by which I mean Facebook) that I was the best DM ever.

In 1996 I wound up running a Live Action Role-Playing game (see here for a sense of the plotlines I was coming up with and running for the players). That, of course, took up all my creative energy, and I didn’t write stories during that time. I ran that game for five years, bringing it to an end in 2001.

During all the time that I ran and played role-playing games of various sorts, I did not write. That’s fourteen years. There are plenty of writers who say that role-playing games helped them become better writers, but I think I learned a lot of bad habits instead. Sure, I became pretty good at world-building, but my style of DM-ing was pretty reactive. In other words, most of what I did, I did in response to what the players did; as a result, the characters I came up with in my stories were pretty passive, reacting TO situations, rather than initiating actions of their own. In fiction writing, this is a bad thing.

So. Fourteen years is quite awhile, and, as I mentioned, during that time I learned some bad habits, and lost some good ones.

It was in 2002 that I decided that I was going to take writing seriously again, by which I mean I would write regularly, try to make some sales, and so on. I have made a few sales, none of them professional or qualifying me for SFWA or HWA membership, but at this point it’s been two years since my last sale. Which is why I feel like I’m not moving forward. And why I doubt my abilities as a writer. And at the age of 45, I feel like I not only haven’t made any pro sales, I, therefore, never will. That’s what I mean by being too old. And what I mean by not moving forward.

I recognize that these are ridiculous thoughts. I would never tell anyone else my age nor older that they’re too old to start a writing career, because it’s simply not true. Yet I have no problem telling it to myself. But when faced against depression and anxiety, logic rarely wins. Depression lies, as others have pointed out before, and sometimes it’s so loud you just can’t drown it out.

Another kobold attack, which I think makes me look like sort of a jerk, is the second one; I have friends who have made professional sales, who have won awards, and so on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for these friends of mine, and I begrudge them nothing. But… I feel like I’m never going to get there myself. Again, that’s a statement that’s full of cognitive distortions and distorted thinking, but it’s a hard one to get past.

So… I’m not sure where to go from here. Just keep writing, I suppose. Just keep writing. And submitting. And getting feedback from my writers’ groups. And so on. I’ve got my Story of the Week project going, and I’m still rewriting Code Monkey!. And I’ve started plotting my novel for this year’s National Novel Writing Month. And I have plans for another novel after Code Monkey!. But none of these feel like they’re professional level projects or goals. I don’t even know how to set professional goals. Feedback would be helpful here.

I think that’s it. Depression should lose to logic, but sometimes depression’s lies are too loud and too convincing.

Thoughts, anyone?