A few days ago my boy was scribbling intently on some homework. His concentration level was high, and he continued writing until about twenty minutes past normal bedtime to finish it. The project was a Thanksgiving-themed story using vocabulary words, and it began with a couple of gloriously long run-on sentences. A whole long paragraph of descriptive scene-setting and character introduction. These sentences moved along, without repeating information, plenty of dependent clauses and good conjunctions, without that messy punctuation fouling things up.
When the story moved to the action, the sentences became much more compact, and when the dialogue began, so did the jokes along with a lot of punctuation. It was pretty great. Continue reading
My son told his mother he was going to be a poet. He explained how he was going to grow a goatee, wear his glasses, and always have his notebook handy for the writing. I cannot confirm whether or not he intends to drape himself all in black; however, his current favorite jeans to wear are indeed black. The boy is seven.
Now I thought this was a fantastic idea, other than the whole, “how-do-you-expect-to-make-a-living-from-the-humanities-in-the-21st-century” problem. And this doesn’t come as a total surprise: the boy likes Shel Silverstein and has had those books read to him and re-read them several times. Like many, he was reared on Dr. Seus.
Also, he just likes words. The telling of jokes, an early affinity for basics puns, etc. We consider this a good sign. His older sister has had a hand in this as well, having written (an illustrated) several stories for him and setting an excellent example as a constant reader. Continue reading
I recently picked up a novel based on the premise and back matter alone – always a questionable choice – only to return home and find it was written in the 1st person narrator format. For the non-writerly and readerly types, this means the storytelling comes from one point of view, the narrator, using “I” (as opposed to third person). This novel (which I’m not going to name because it’s not cool to run someone down) juxtaposed an ancient Celtic druid in a contemporary setting, which seems like an interesting take. But I couldn’t get through one chapter. Too much explaining, not character revealing, awkward, and I immediately knew there was no way I was going 300-plus pages with this narrator. Back to the bookstore to trade in for something I will read.
The Beemsville take on 1st person goes something like this: works great great for short stories, Frank Miller graphic novels, and Magnum P.I. For everything else – you better bring it. Continue reading
Here are the opening few paragraphs for a story I’ve been trying to finish for far two long. The working title has Replicator in it, because that’s the piece of forgotten technology at the base of the story. It’s sort of a future-history narrative. And yes, I’ve set myself a deadline to get that first draft complete. Continue reading
What is it about deadlines that I find so distasteful? Deadlines? Phawug!
And yet my job has become more and more deadline driven the last few months. Not sure why I have this internal resistance to these arbitrary dates, but I have gained a little more appreciation for their effects on scheduling and managing. Sometimes (not always) you do good work under pressure; sometimes not so much, but you do tend to get it finished–at least in draft form. And a draft is something you can work with. Continue reading
…at The Harrow. It took some doing to get this short story out there. First it was accepted under condition of revision by a relaunch of ‘Amazing Stories’ a few years ago, and then the editor quit before my revision, after which the magazine soon ceased publication. Several other editors liked the story enough to tell me so, but either couldn’t quite get past the narrator’s voice or found other reasons to pass on it. Bias against gamers within the Fantasy genre? Possibly. Too long for some markets? Certainly. Hard to pin down within genre convention? Doubtless.
I remember working the first draft — I wanted to write from the perspective of how a true geek squad might really deal with the paranormal if it suddenly appeared before them. Hopefully that comes across. So click here (or on the banner below) to check out The Portal. If it’s too long for a single sitting, bookmark it and come back later. And while you’re over at The Harrow, check out some of the other fine stories…
…to The Harrow, a webzine bringing you Original Works of Fantasy and Horror each month. The zine uses and open journal system and has been around for about ten years. They have some good work on there; check them out (logo links to the website).
The Portal will appear in their October issue, available online Oct 1. This story was a lot of fun to write. It definitely speaks to my inner geek and has a lot of internal references tailored to the sci-fi/fantasy crowd. I also revised the hell out of it in an attempt to make it approachable for general readers. You can read the opening paragraph right here.
A recent entry over at the excellent io9.com blog details Michael Chabon’s early interactions with the nefarious Guild of Lit Snobs while studying for his MFA at UC Irvine. Chabon, of course, has recently won the Nebula for The Yiddish Policeman’s Union (a book high on our summer reading list), and previously won the Pulitzer for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. This gives him the rare lit/sci-fi awards double.
Here’s the quote that hit home:
“…I certainly remember in my early 20s, I wanted to write SF of a kind back then. And I turned in a lot of these stories to the writers workshop at UC Irvine. I was met with, if not hostility then incomprehension. [People said things like] “I can’t help you with that. I don’t write science fiction. I don’t read science fiction.”
I recall very similar reactions to the first sci-fi story I turned in to workshop. It was brutal. Fortunately for me, another professor in a later workshop–himself a fan of Lucius Sheperd, Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, etc.–put the kibosh on the lit-snobbery. Of course this didn’t stop the wannabe Guild of Lit Snob members from basically ignoring my work from that point forward, but some of my peers were closet ‘genre’ admirers so it all worked out in the end.
…for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, aka the grand triumvirate of speculative fiction.
The question posed over at the SF Signal: Is the Short Fiction Market in trouble?
The pros chime in, and a few editors respond in the comments below. In terms of financial viability for the traditional print magazine, most seem to think the answer is yes. It’s the same old same old of high costs, an aging subscriber base, and competition for the entertainment dollar and attention span. Several of the writers point out that payment for short stories has essentially stagnated since the 1930s and no one is making their living writing shorts any more.
Some of the other comments point to no. The reason, of course, this interweb thingie (thanks again Al!) with all the e-zines and sites, as well as a greater number of quality anthologies (think Best of… and Themed works). Not to mention all the new writers who have more niches and opportunities to fill. (I would add, this applies as long as you are writing shorter short fiction).
So where does that leave us?
…read it in Fusion Fragment #5
This short story is part cyberpunk mystery, part bio-tech horror. It was originally written for creative writing workshop at SIU, which seems like a long time ago, and has since undergone numerous revisions. The protagonist, Clay, has gone from utter clueless jackass to somewhat naive but (hopefully) sympathetic virtua-loving dude. See what you think.
And while I like the sci-fi/space expo goodness of the Fusion Fragment visual theme, if anyone would like to read Argonaut in good old fashioned black-text-on-white-background, let me know.
And have a look at Fusion Fragment’s other featured stories: ‘Sometime After’ by Krishan Coupland and ‘Life Without Crows’ by Gerri Leen.