Monday, January 30, 2012

Short Stories

So last week I started writing a Sci-Fi short story.  I've tried my hand at some shorts before, including Flatiron City, but I've never been very good at it.  As I mentioned before, my plan is to post these shorts on this blog, and today I want to go in-depth as to why that's my plan.

First of all, I want to share my writing with all of you, and original pieces that aren't part of a book are a great way to do that without potentially violating a publishing contract or teasing you with excerpts from a book that may never get published.

Second of all, the style that I'm writing isn't something I've seen in Sci-Fi magazines before.  Now, I don't read every magazine ever published, but in my experience, most of those periodicals are looking for something more abstract, avant garde, and very high-brow.  I have nothing against that, but that's not what I want to write.  I want to write pulp fiction.  The hard-hitting, in-your-face action adventure that takes place in outerspace.  And I don't want it to take itself too seriously.

This is fun for me, and I get to do a lot of experimentation as I play around with my style.  Again, I have nothing against all of that other stuff, and I really want to take the time to read more of it, but it's not what I see myself writing.  And in my (admittedly limited) experience, that just doesn't get published.  So I'll publish it hear, after extensive editing and revising.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Born to be a Mythbuster

I love explosions.  Let me be clear, though, I enjoy them under SAFE, CONTROLLED, and LEGAL conditions.  But I love the boom.  I love the shock-wave.  And I love the heat.

I want to get a pyrotechnics's license so I can go to a safe location and just blow stuff up.  My favorite episodes of Mythbusters are the ones where they create explosions.  Blowing up cement trucks, water boilers, pants, cars, safes, etc., sounds like one of the most fun jobs anyone could have.

I like fireworks, too.  It's the closest I get to pyrotechnics.  I never buy fireworks or firecrackers, but I make my way to the field every year to watch the Fourth of July show.  It's fun.  It's exciting.

And if I ever get the funds, I will go learn how to do it myself.  All within the bounds of U.S. law.  Because safety is important.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It Can't be "Said" too Often

One of the books I'm enjoying at the moment uses a lot of synonyms for "said."  They also add extra descriptors to the verb, sometimes making the description of HOW they said what they said (expression, tone, breathing style, etc.) longer than the spoken sentence.

Example: "No," he said quietly, jaw out-thrust, eyes half-lidded, crossing his arms.

Let me give some advice that I've received many times: cut out everything after "he said."  Throughout the character interactions, body-language can be peppered in.  If the "No" is an immediate response to someone else, then you could write it like:  "No!"  He crossed his arms and glared.

Now I could give you dozens of examples and recommendations on how (I think) dialogue can be improved, but there are dozens of books and probably thousands of blogs dedicated to the subject.  My advice will remain simple.

Just use the verb "said."  Synonyms can get distracting, but "said" will eventually get ignored by the reader because they're moving forward with the story.  And if every sentence of dialogue ends with "he said," "she said," or "John said," you don't have enough body language or action taking place within the scene.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Football

You know, with the playoffs over, and the Superbowl around the corner, I have to admit: I like football.  But not enough to really care.  I grew up and live in Denver, so I'm a Broncos fan, but only when they're winning.  I don't really care when they're losing throughout the season, even if I take the time to watch the game.  I just can't get enthusiastic.

But when they're winning!  Oh, yes, when the Broncos are at their peak!  I can muster enough enthusiasm to... well... let's just say I'd still rather play video games or read a book.

If my team's not in the playoffs, I just don't care that much.  I understand why so many people do care, and sometimes I can get really excited about a game, but most of the time I couldn't care less (and, yes, that IS the proper phrase).

I love Superbowl parties, and I love it when the Broncos make it to the Superbowl (something that hasn't happened in a long time).  Until they start playing better, though, I'll just check in on their progress from time to time, and then turn back to Star Trek TNG on Netflix.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cleanup

For a while, now, I've been concerned about some of the pictures I posted on my blog.  I know they're not inappropriate, but I had some concerns about sourcing.  I was 98% certain that those pictures that I removed were public domain.  I try to do my research.  But I never really thought about double-checking or linking back to my sources.   I NEVER want to plagiarize.  Most readers would look at this blog and realize those pictures don't belong to me, but I don't want anyone to think that I stole them.

Since I don't remember where I got the pictures, I removed them.  And since some of them were part of a joke that I wrote for the post they appeared in, I deleted a few posts.  I left up pictures that belong to me, and I left in videos that link back to their original source.

So that's my big news for the week.  I cleaned up my blog.  I may go back a few years and start removing old posts, too.  I'm not sure how much of those posts get read, and many of them are the ramblings of a young man who didn't know how to write yet.

Have a great weekend.  See you Monday :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don't Stand for Censorship

As an artist, I'm against content piracy.  But the bills that are floating around Washington aren't anti-piracy bills, they're censorship bills that will end up silencing the voices of the citizens of the United States of America.  This is an unjust law that won't solve the problem it intends to solve.  It'll only create other problems and restrict freedom.

Take a stand, send a letter to your representatives and tell them to vote "No" on SOPA and PIPA.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Science Fiction

I have a confession to make: I've never read a traditional Science Fiction novel.  Once, I listened to the audio book of a Star Wars novel, but I don't remember the story at all.  I think it was a Rogue Squadron novel, but that's the most I can remember.  THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy really is the only futuristic Sci-Fi series I've ever delved into, and the PARASOL PROTECTORATE is the only Steampunk series I've read (and yes, steampunk is Sci-Fi... it just focuses on steam technology that doesn't exist instead of electronic tech).

That changed when I started listening to A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo.  I don't have much of an opinion so far except that I like it.  I'm enjoying the story, and while a few of the sentences here and there bother me from a technical standpoint, I'm pretty convinced that I want to listen to more of his books (or read them if it's easier to find them in print than on CD).

The reason I bring this up is because I've always loved Sci-Fi as a genre, and I've toyed around with the idea of writing a few Sci-Fi books.  I tried my hand at the genre with Flatiron City, and I'll jump into that again in the future.  But I think I want to write some space-flight and/or first-contact Sci-Fi.  I believe it's important to read the genre I plan to write.  In fact, I heard of an author who wrote an entire book, but he (and this is a quote from his best friend) "never really reads anything."

Reading is important for writers.  I read YA because I write YA.  I read urban fantasy because I write it, and I'm going to read Sci-Fi because I like the genre, I've never gotten into a good series before, and eventually I may enjoy writing it.

So aside from John Ringo, any recommendations?  But not Ender's Game.  That's not quite the style of narrative I'm looking for.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Twitter update

Work today is killing me, and I'm getting sick.  So no blog post.  Just a twitter-worthy update.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's Snowing!

It's snowing here in Denver.  I love snow.  And it makes me excited.  So I'm going to use this opportunity to recommend a blog.

Go read Natalie Bahm.  She's represented by an agency here in Denver, she's an interesting blogger, and she's giving away a book.  So go enter her contest!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Not much to say...

I don't have a lot to talk about today.  I'd love to talk about Downton Abbey's Series 2 US premier, but all I can tell you is that it was awesome, character development REALLY encouraged me to press forward with my writing, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series (that's season for us US folks).

Go check out Caroline Wilson's perspective (she doesn't agree with me, but it's REALLY worth a read).  Then go onto Netflix and watch all of season 1.  If you've done that and you missed the premier last night, hop onto PBS.org and watch the entire thing there.

Have a great week, see you Wednesday.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Community, not Advertising

For some reason, I keep getting requests from various companies to promote their products on my blog.  I don't know what the products are, and I only see them about once every two or three months (whenever I look at my spam-inbox to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks and to just empty it).  As you regulars know, I never promote products on this blog aside from books and maybe a few websites that I use and REALLY like.  My oath to all of you is that I will never sell ad space on this blog.  I reserve the right to sell ad space (if it's ever an option) on other blogs or websites I may create in the future, but never here.

What really boggles my mind is the plethora of spam comments I've received lately asking me to post about products, politics, and religion (specifically a religion I fundamentally disagree with).  So if you're not spamming me, know that I won't push your product, I won't discuss politics (regardless of how passionate I am about my political beliefs), or religion (even though I am a man of faith).  This isn't the place for that.  This is where I want to engage in discussions about writing and community.  Community is why I turned off comment moderation (for posts newer than 14 days since you have to dig through the archives to comment on the older ones, and that's where most of the spam's been coming in).  Community is why I started the Charity of the Month.  And it's why I try to support other bloggers and authors.

So if you post a comment asking me to discuss any of the aforementioned topics, I will delete it.  On the other hand, if you have a charity you'd like me to talk about, PLEASE leave a comment with a link to their website.  I'm always on the lookout for great charities.  Just not pharmaceutical products, supplements, or subscription services.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The New Year

I know the new year has been around for a few days, and many people have already blogged about it.  I'm not going to make resolutions (I never really do).  I just plan on working hard, like I did last year.

One thing I really want to do this year, though, is learn to write short stories.  I've taken about every creative writing college course available at an undergraduate level.  And I've been forced to write short stories.  None of them were worth publishing, but I did learn a lot about writing.  It helped me form some of my creative processes that will (hopefully) help me get an agent this year.

But I know it's important to write short stories.  Four of my top five (current) favorite authors have all had short stories published, and those four are all NYT Bestsellers.  I know at least one of them writes shorts as a way to reach out to readers who could be his audience but as-of-yet have not read any of his work.

I don't plan on submitting these stories anywhere, either.  These stories will be for you, my blog readers.  Next year I may try to get some shorts published, but I want to write some stuff for my blog.  I get tired (as I imagine some of you do) of giving basic status updates.  I want some substance.  That's about it for me today, and my plans are simple.

See you Friday.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Charity of the Month: Wounded Warrior Project

With the draw-down in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of our brave men and women will come back with physical and mental scars that may never be healed.  The Wounded Warrior Project exists to help those men and women reintegrate back into their lives here in the United States.

I know a few soldiers who struggle with the things they saw at war, and I can tell you that there's very little you or I can do to help them.  It takes someone who's been there, and the Wounded Warrior Project is filled with those people.

The best I can do for the men and women who sacrificed their mental and physical health for my freedom is to give back to a program that will help them feel normal.  Or as close to normal as may be possible.

Please donate to help our soldiers regain their lives.

Patience

I can be rather impatient at times.  It's not a curse, it's just something I have to learn to control.  I really want to start querying again, but the final part of my rewrites have yet to receive a review from my crit. group.  I know any changes I make will be minimal, so I want to skip this part and move back to the querying stage again.

But I'm going to be patient.  I sent the rewrites to my crit. group, and I'm going to wait to send out my pages until I've made any changes that need to be made.  In the mean time, I'm going to tackle the continuity issues that need to be fixed as a result of my rewrites.

So how about all of you?  How does impatience affect your life?  How do you maintain control of your decisions to make sure impatience doesn't snowball you?