Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pumped from Using the Prompt

I came back from my "First Pages" Loft gig at Chanhassen Library today feeling really hyped.  I had a blast playing with some of the story idea generators with the participants.  We found a couple of really entertaining sites that I'm going to share with you...

The first is really best if used completely randomly (press 'fill in) and see what happens.  We got a completely zany storyline that included robots poking each other at a funeral. (Exactly, right?  I mean, that image is going to stick in my head... possibly until I figure out how to write it.)

The other one was slightly more useful.  This site offers a number of tailored options, including the one I ended up using with was 'how I got my superpowers.'

The prompt I got in response to 'how I got my super powers' was: FROM THE FAIRY.  I couldn't resist that one and ended up writing this little snippet...

They told me if I wanted to get superpowers, I had to buy them from the fairy.  The problem was you never knew what it’d cost you.  Fairies are fickle, you know.  Sometimes they just want something mundane.  I heard of a guy who got the power of invulnerability and all it cost him was a slice of Munster cheese.  Other times, they wanted too much, stuff no sane person would part with.  Sure, you’re immortal, but your body is gone, and you’re just stuffed teddy bear without even the ability to move or speak.
I don't know if I'll do anything more with it, but it's a fun start, don't you think?

Anyway, I have no idea if the participants (I hesitate to use the term students in this situation) got as much enjoyment out of the program as I did, but I hope so.  One of the challenges of the 'First Pages' program is that it's meant to be flexible.  That's a good thing, because it can mean that the "class" is tailored to individual needs, but it can also mean the instructor (me) does a lot of flailing around from subject to subject hoping to hit on something that works.  I felt very flail-ly, but I sincerely hope that since I had fun it means they did too.

We nominally have a subject to discuss, but this one was "Read to Write" and so the 'discussion' was meant to be structured around what books can teach us about writing.  Since, as far as I can tell, the answer is: everything, we talked about that for a while, but... well, that wasn't much of a sustaining sort of subject, you know?  Maybe if I'd had a blackboard we could have listed books that influenced our writing.  Perhaps, since I'll be doing this again in Roseville next month, I can start with that next time.

But, so after we'd exhausted that subject, I opened the floor up to questions.  What do you struggle with with your writing?  And, somehow from there, we got to plot generators, and silliness ensued.

Ultimately, as I said, I had a good time, if nothing else.  And, well, I guess, worst case scenario, they got what they paid for (it's free.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More MangaKast

Mason and I recorded our sixth MangaKast and it's up for your enjoyment here:

We talk about Bleach 577, Ao no Exorcist 56, and Toriko 274... though a lot of it is teh stupid that comes from being awake way too early.  We have fun, though.  In fact, a large portion of this particular podcast is me laughing so hard I snort.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mochas and Motorcycles!

I might have been writing up to the very last minute, but that just means this newest installment of UnJust Cause is HOT off the press!

You can read it here: UnJust Cause Part 4: Mochas and Motorcycles

In this installment, Alex discovers that demons have a weakness for mochas.  Also, it seems that the sexy redhead werewolf biker, Mac, is stalking her!

Seriously, what's not to love about a werewolf motorcycle gang??  Go check it out!  (Don't forget to leave a comment.)  Thanks!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


I got together with Lyda and Naomi today and talked about Captain America, also about writing. I have been going through a bad patch, in which I envy other writers and feel bad about my writing career. Naomi pointed out that I have stories almost ready to go out and I am wasting time -- weeks and months -- tweeking them. They should go out the door.

It's perfectly true that fiction does not sell till editors look at it, and most of my work sells sooner or later.

I have no idea why I'm stalled right now. But the obvious thing to do -- as Naomi says -- is get the stories out.

There are plenty of things that can go wrong with a writing career. All you can do is make sure that the things going wrong have nothing to do with you. Don't do the work of malign fate for malign fate.

Cap 2

Lyda pointed out to me that she is doing all the posting on Wyrdsmiths. So here is a cross-post from my blog. I went to see Captain America 2 with three other Wyrdsmiths -- Lyda, Naomi and Sean -- and the following is my report:

Well, now I have seen Captain America 2. I think I have used up a month's supply of adrenaline. Thus far, my favorite Marvel movies are Thor 1 and Captain America 1. But this movie is a fine mix of violence, paranoia and cynicism. I will say no more, for fear of spoiling the story for the two or three people who haven't seen CA # 2 yet.

Note: Cap is never cynical, nor is he treated with cynicism. But the world that poor guy has found himself in. You can understand why he longs for WWII.

I did nothing after Captain America, except lie on the couch and read. I am going through Quiet a second time. According to the book, introverts need to limit their input. Well, I certainly exceeded my limit at CA # 2. That's okay, so long as I have down time after. Now I am thinking about the movie, trying to understand what it says. Not that it's hard to figure out, but I need to distance myself from all the crashing and banging. It occurs to me that good writing -- writing that is obviously skillful and thoughtful -- can put a barrier between the reader and the experience: a kind of glass wall. Action flicks smash right through that wall. The noise and the adrenaline removes a layer of protection. Remember that American torturers use noise -- especially rock music -- to break their victims down. I am not saying that the noise of an action flick is torture, but it makes the audience vulnerable. You can't maintain an intellectual and emotional distance in an action flick. Of course, there is evidence that this kind of adrenaline high also protects people from the reality of what's happening. But I guess I am inclined to think that the crudeness and rawness of an action flick is closer to life in contemporary America than is intelligence and grace.

An action flick says, "Civilization? You think we have a civilization here? The more fool you!"

There are a lot of ways that writing -- and movies and art -- can break through the glass wall which I don't like. I am kind of a wimp, and there is a limit to how much ugliness I can handle. I didn't like The Avengers, except for the bit at the end when they are in the shawarma joint. It's almost the only part of the movie I remember. Too much violence. Not enough plot. And the villains were all external. The problem for me is -- how do you break the glass wall without being way too nasty? And is disgust an adequate way to break the wall?

I think I am trying to be profound and failing. Ah well.

Five is Live

MangaKast can be found here:

This is another project I could consider a failed experiment, but, in this case, I really don't.  Mason and I have limited expectations for it, for one.  We probably have three faithful listeners (which is probably actually one, since I play the edited version for Mason when he gets home from school.)  But, this is a totally different thing we're doing.  It's entirely for ourselves and we know it.  I get to bond with my son about something we both enjoy, and he gets to be a host of a podcast... how cool is that?  (When you're ten?  Pretty darn cool.)

Plus, at least one day a week, we're up and ready for school ON TIME.  (Even mom appreciates that!)

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Experiment Continues

My newest installment of the sequel to Precinct 13, UnJust Cause, is live:

A body is discovered at the base of the clock tower.  But did they jump or were they... dropped?  It's up to Alex to determine if there's something more sinister going on, and her  investigation is hampered by the presence of the two Internal Affairs agents....

If you're confused about what I'm doing over there, the short of it is that I've really struggled with motivation to write ever since I was dropped by my publisher.  The idea of posting this is a work-in-progress on WattPad is to keep the momentum going.  I am really hoping to develop a following and a community there, so I can be encouraged to keep on keeping on.

I can't really say it's working so far.  It's possible that I've been silent too long.  My readers may have given up on me, which is totally fair.  I really dropped out of the scene pretty hard.

I probably should have considered doing this sort of self-publishing thing immediately, but, the truth is I held out hope that one of my other projects would sell quickly.  Obviously, that didn't happen, and when it didn't, I was very thrown for a loop.  I still have projects that I'm hoping my agent will be able to sell, but I probably wasted a lot of valuable time scrambling around trying to fight a system that changed on me, seemingly overnight.

For instance, she and I were still trying to sell books on proposal, which, apparently, despite how many books you've had published, you really can't do any more.  You need to have a finished project, ideally, but, if not that, then a lot of finished product to show off.  I didn't have that, and so when there was interest, I had to scramble and write... which I'm not as good at. I did my very best, but I'm much better at having a chance to have a lot of revision and time to feel my way into a character and the plot.  So, no surprise, those 'samples' fell flat for a lot of publishers....

...which, of course, only continued to depress me.

So, the whole idea behind publicly posting my work on WattPad was to up my confidence.  But, alas, I've lost half my readers between my first post and my second.  So... that kind of sucks.  I'm not sure what to make of it.  It wasn't like I had an overwhelming response for my first post, either.

However, I'm still trying to use the publication schedule I've set for myself as a motivator.  At least if I write a 2,000+ word installment a week, that's forward progress. Considering that previously I was writing zero words a week, that's a very good thing.  So, I'm not ready to write off this experience just yet.  Not by a long shot.

For those who are wondering, yes, the end result should be a self-published e-book.  Provided, of course, I stick with this.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Installment is Live

Though I'd been hoping to consistently post new installments of the Precinct 13 sequel UnJust Cause on TUESDAYS, I'm going to be a day early this time.  Tomorrow is Shawn's birthday, so I have plans to be out and about with her.

If you're interested, feel free to check out part 2, in which a demon from Hell named "Furfur" is introduced:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Video Evidence

My Dreamhaven reading (all 45 minutes of it!) is up on YouTube. I read all of "God Box" which was collected in a Biblical horror anthology, King David & the Spiders of Mars, as well as some of my WIP, UnJust Cause, which I'm posting as I write it on WattPad. If you get all the way to the end, you will be rewarded with a lot of squee from me about the various Animes I've watched (including a reenactment of what it's like to watch "Attack on Titan" and then switch over to watching "Free!")