Author Nightmares – Write Anyway

Another episode of ‘if you’re an author, this is terrifying’ happened this week. Chuck Palahniuk reports that he’s ‘close to broke’ after his literary agency’s accountant was arrested and charged with embezzlement. This kind of story is a nightmare to me, so I’m trying to explain why I have to write anyway.

I can’t expand on details beyond what’s available in the paper. It just feels compelling to say that a story like this represents my worst nightmare as I move forward with Mesh and other projects.

Look, it’s one thing if you’re crazy about money like Johnny Depp. But for a guy who just wants to tell stories and not go broke in the process, this is frightening. How am I supposed to justify this difficult path toward self-actualization, knowing how many risks are involved?

Continue reading

What’s Wrong With Every User Community Ever

Whoa – I did not expect that. On a side thread about keto dieting, I stumbled upon an answer to a question I’ve been asking ever since the late 90s. In three paragraphs, a justifiably-angry Redditor outlines what’s wrong with every user community ever.

This Sub Has Really Gone Downhill

This doesn’t just apply to people on /r/keto, or Reddit. Forum trolls are a thing no matter where you go. User communites are designed to support an interest, and the benefits of welcoming new members should be self-evident. Not so, in the day and age of trolling. As the Redditor brings out, working for the greater good seems to be in decline, and toxic behavior leaves many communities with a bad name, as people leave discouraged, and defeated.

But you already know this.

This isn’t another point-at-the-problem post. God knows you’ve seen a ton of those. The real question we should be answering is, how do you avoid this behavior? How do you pull back from this reality? Good user communities are good tribes, and good tribes come from good tribal leadership. Let me share this Ted talk on Tribal Leadership with you, and I hope you find it useful in your community-building activities.

 

 

 

 

Evil Genius – New Scifi Microfiction

Now it’s time for some new scifi microfiction – I wrote ‘Evil Genius’ in response to the writing prompt: ‘You are an Evil Overlord about to conquer the known world, but there is a catch: You are competent.’

Writing a good bad guy is harder than it looks. You find yourself mentally filtering out every movie villain ever, because they usually fail at the end, and you want to make sure you don’t set them up for failure.

In the end, I thought of a guy with the charisma of Barack Obama and the evil intent of Admiral Thrawn. After that, the story just flew out of my fingertips. I hope you enjoy …

Evil Genius

If You’re an Author, This is Terrifying

Sometimes I weep for the species. Jimmy Kimmel did a bit, where they asked random people if they could *name* one book (“The Bible, 50 Shades, whatever …”). You’d think that a question like this would be a lay-up, right? Not in 2018, muchacho. The conversations did not go well, and if you’re an author, this is terrifying.

 

Of course, maybe I shouldn’t worry – they were asking these questions in LA, after all.  It’s no secret that literacy is in crisis in America. As difficult as the problem seems to be, the answer is actually simple: Read. Pick up a book. Read Reddit. Read the paper. Read one viewpoint on an issue, and then go find another side and read that too.

Reading makes you happy. Reading is a relaxing habit. You can read anywhere: the train, the john, in line at the supermarket. You can make it into a gamified social experience. However you do it, just go read. It’ll make your life better.

Hitman’s Daughter – New Microfiction Part II

Some jobs are tougher than others. I saw the fiction prompt: ‘A retired hitman finds out that a contract has been placed on their kid, who disowned them years ago when they found out their profession.‘ and the story wrote itself. Real hitmen are guys you’d barely notice, people you’d run into the grocery store. I used that when I created Tomas, a retired professional killer who spends his twilight years selling ice cream to tourists. I hope you enjoy …

The Hitman’s Daughter

 

Stop Trying to Kill Hitler! – Microfiction Part I

I’ve been submitting short stories over in /r/writingprompts – today I’m going to share two shorts that I wrote this week. First one is in the morning, and the other will come out later today.

The first story is in response to the prompt: You are getting seriously fed up with all the time travelers from the future constantly trying to kill you. I channeled my inner Mel Brooks and started banging out prose. Hope you enjoy …

Stop Trying to Kill Hitler!

Making Better Stories With Diagrams

While working on Mesh, I noted some gaps and opportunities to improve my story construction so I wanted to take a blog post (or two, who knows) and talk about story diagramming. Movies, TV shows and other projects benefit from storyboarding or other forms of story diagramming so I wanted to see if it would help me build a better novel.

How do you go about story diagramming? I decided to start with another novel to see how it worked, so I picked one of my favorite technothrillers (and inspirations for Mesh), Day of the Jackal. Continue reading

Is /r/writing Hurt Your Writing?

Oof – that hurt, but it needed to be said. If we’re in the business of murdering our darlings, this published author just torched a big one. Author communities exist to help us improve our craft, network, and commiserate.

There’s a flip side to that coin. As this post points out, and as I’ve long-suspected, there’s a half-life to that helpfulness that needs to be understood. At a certain point, we can talk the talk, but we have to start walking the walk. Nobody is immune. So, if you’re wondering if you’re spending too much time talking about writing, read this and then make your choice:

Why /r/writing is bad for writing.

Stop talking about writing and write.

Foreverest – Done – Out for comments

As promised, I finished Foreverest and it’s out for comments among my tiny group of Beta Readers. Already getting positive feedback … I can’t wait to submit it for publication.

In preparation for submission, I looked through the Internet and updated my List of Scifi Magazines that Actually Pay Writers. It’s part of my Free Author Tools section, which you’re always welcome to check out and make use of for yourself.

Finally, you should read Chuck Wendig’s serialized discussion about writers and luck on Twitter. It’ll answer a few questions for you, if you’re wondering how all of this is supposed to work.

More Scifi Short Stories in Production

Back in the saddle, again. 🙂

Had to unplug for a bit, and get my head together as I work on turning Mesh into the story it deserves to be. Where many writers say that you need to write 1-2K words per day, I’m from the school that says ‘what’s the point of writing a thousand words no one wants to read?’

Sometimes it’s better to hang back and sharpen the saw, as Stephen Covey says. Meanwhile, writing other short stories and that means you’ll have some new sci-fi to read very soon. Here’s a quick preview:

Quantum State is an homage to a number of movies, video games and TV shows … I think you’ll enjoy it.

Foreverest is a neo-noir story … a simple matter of a wealthy socialite, and murder.

Siloed continues developing the world I started creating in Body Issues … and the human costs of biotechnology.

I’m working on some new free wallpapers, too. Setting new expectations of quality for myself means some delays in release, but my hope is that you’ll be pleased with the final product.

Happy Monday! 🙂