Wednesday, March 29, 2006


A good post from writer Heidi Kneale about networking in the writing/publishing field. The gist of the article is that it's a great idea to get yourself out there and meet people in the field. Don't just stand on the sidelines and be a lurker. If you're really interested in this field or any other, get involved.

Of course, there are some rules to follow, but they are mostly matters of decorum that should be common sense if you've been on the web before. Above all, be polite. People will most likely respond in kind if you're nice to them. One more point: before commenting on another blog or discussion forum, check out the site or read the FAQ. This can help you to avoid those stupid questions (yes, there ARE stupid questions).

Update: Fixed bad link.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Where the Ideas Come From

More from Jay Lake, but this time about where the ideas come from. This discussion is fascinating to me because everybody has a different way of coming up with ideas.

Personally, I work from images that just come to me. Something will strike me during the course of the day or it might be a lingering picture or scene from a dream. These form the seeds of my stories.

A lot of times I'll be thinking about something that happened to me a long time ago. This may be in an attempt to deal with it. I'm not sure. Sometimes it occurs to me that a pretty simple event actually had some deeper significance.

After reading Hemingway I realized that the simplest things could be very meaningful and that stories can be found in the most mundane happenings.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Busy Work

Right now I'm finishing up a paper that was due Friday. I did get permission to turn it in tomorrow night, though. On top of me not being all that interested in the topic (Arthurian Literature), the professor described the assignment as just 'busy work' when we discussed it last week. That kind of pissed me off.

I've been teaching college courses part time for two years now and I've had to redesign every new course the first time I taught it. For some classes, I've modified what I teach every term. In each class, though, whenever I've found something that didn't fit with the central goal of the class, i.e. 'busy work,' I've dumped it. I don't see any point in assigning something that doesn't reinforce what the students are supposed to be learning.

This makes me feel a lot less interested in graduate school. If this is any indication of what I'll encounter when I get there, I'm not feelin' it. Going to school at night with a family and full time job is hard work. I'm glad I'm almost finished.

Procrastination and Laziness

I know it's been a while since I posted anything. My goal is actually to post something every day, but it's sometimes hard to make myself do it.

As I've said before, I have plenty to say. It's just that leap past procrastination or laziness that defeats me. So, to my regular readers (there might even be two of you), I apologize.

It's kind of ironic that I teach a college course covering study skills and time management and one of the main topics is how to defeat procrastination. Do as I say, not as I do!

Anyway, I've been busy and lazy at the same time. Consumed by worry over mundanities to the point of letting things like the blog slip. I'll try to do better. Honest.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More from Jay Lake on Writing

Jay Lake has an excellent post about writing speed. It's a must read for anyone seriously interested in writing. The numbers he quotes are impressive to say the least. Oddly enough, I find that I work best at a similar pace, but I lack his consistency. This is definately something for me to work on.

Monday, March 20, 2006


I can't believe it's Monday again. The weekends are way too short and seem to be getting shorter. Time does seem to go by more quickly as I get older. Hmmm...

It was another good weekend and I got to cook out for the first time in a while. We marinated a couple of big, fat steaks in something off the shelf from Kroger's and I sliced potatoes and onions for foil packs. We also had asparagus. If you haven't tried it grilled before, you're really missing out. Olive oil, salt and pepper and just throw it on the grill. Awesome.

Now back to the grind. No word count for today (beats self up), but I did start a new story over the weekend. Must. Finish. School.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Word Counts

I've been thinking about posting word counts every day. A lot of other writers include them on their blogs and it might help to motivate me a bit, too. I've been so inconsistent lately with my writing that I'm still not sure I want to post about it. So, tentatively, I'll say that I've added around a hundred words to a story this morning.

It's a spec fic story that I started writing a while ago, maybe last summer. It's been sitting there on my hard drive collecting dust while I've worked on other things or just been too busy to write (at least that's my excuse).

When I opened up the file recently and read the first paragraph I got this terrible sinking feeling that it was just crap. Honestly, the first few lines were awful. They were stilted and pretentious, reminding me way too much of some of the highbrow literature that I've been assigned in my English classes.

The opening scene is pretty good, but the prose needs a lot of work. Well, that's my new project. I'm going to whip this story into shape and get it out there. I have some ideas for a couple more stories having some connection to this one that I'd like to write next. So, for today, my word count is about 100 words plus a bunch of revisions.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Instead of Writing

Steve Leigh has a post about Ten Things To Do Other Than Writing. I think I could make a list of hundreds of things. This morning, besides checking out a few blogs and posting to my own, I'm grading papers (if I get to it). I'm definitely going to have to be more disciplined. But, the blogs, the blogs are calling me!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Story Written

I wrote another story yesterday. I just had an urge to get something out of my head and down on paper. It's a speculative fiction story based on some scenes out of a dream I had a long time ago, maybe more than once. This dream left an impression on me for some reason.

I don't have time right now to describe it in more detail, but I may in the future. On the most basic level it's about a man trapped in a maze. I've had a lot of dreams about wandering around in different kinds of mazes, or structures that were like mazes. This story sprung out of a vivid picture from one particular dream that stuck in my head.

The first draft of the story is about 2500 words and I wrote it in one sitting in a little over an hour. I'd actually intended to write it as a flash fiction piece, i.e. less than 1000 words, but it took more to tell the story. We'll see what happens once it gets through another revision.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Survival and Rejection

Yes, I survived the weekend. I know I didn't post yesterday, but it was Monday and Mondays suck, right? The girls returned home after a successful trip and found us all reasonably intact. It was actually a pretty nice weekend.

And then I went back to work. Ugh.

On a brighter note, I got a nice rejection email today from Chris East at Futurismic. I expected as much since they can only buy about 12 stories a year, so there's stiff competition. The thing that sucks right now is that I don't have another story ready to shoot over to them. I have to be able to keep at least a couple out there circulating at any given time. Back to work, then...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Authorial Perspective

I ran across some interesting ideas and comments regarding writer's thoughts on themselves and their work. It's part of a serious of posts on the topic from writer Jay Lake. I came across his page and his work relatively recently and have to say that I'm fascinated by his writing career and work ethic. In the last five years he's had a novel and more than a hundred short stories published. Simply incredible.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Babysitting and Submissions

Today I'm home watching the kids while the wife is away with our oldest daughter at a speech competition. This is probably the first time I've had to watch the five youngest kids all by myself overnight. I've had to watch them before while she was in the hospital, but that was usually with the help of our teenager and before our youngest was born. I think I'll do okay, though. They'll be back tomorrow and things will be back to the normal level of chaos.

I submitted a story to Futurismic this week. I don't know if they'll like it, but I have a few more science fiction ideas that I'd like to pursue. Hopefully, I can knock out a couple quickly and get them in the mail (or electronically submitted) soon.

I have two or three mainstream fiction stories that are just about ready to submit, too. I've been doing a lot of market research lately to get familiar with the kind of publications that print this stuff. I'm debating where to submit first. There are so many markets out there to choose from. I want to start with those that pay the most and have a more reasonable response time.

What's reasonable for response times? For most short fiction markets it seems like around three months. Some can be much shorter than that, but most can take a while to get back to you. If you're interested in checking out some reports of response times from writers, go to Critter's Submitting to the Black Hole.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Another MacBook Pro Review

Here's a non-technical review of Apple's new MacBook Pro laptop. The consensus seems to be that it's fast, powerful and expensive. I doubt that it's much more expensive than similarly equipped windows machines, though. How much do you have to pay to get a windows laptop with a dedicated video card (versus integrated video with shared RAM)? My sub $1000 iBook has one, too.

The new Intel Mac Mini was less than overwhelming (sorry, the shared RAM just about ruins it for me), but I still expect good things when the new iBooks are unveiled. Hopefully, this will be soon (June?) and will include some aggressive pricing of the low end models (and NO shared RAM!).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Reading: Paper versus Electronic

All right, I'm being lazy again! I just got through a grueling (for me) week of school work and work work and I didn't feel like writing over the weekend. I just hung out at home and watched the kids while trying to catch up on a few months worth of magazines I had laying around.

I wonder why I bother with the magazines. They are out of date as soon as I get them in the mail or buy them off the newsstand. I guess I'm still old-fashioned enough that I like to read physical copies. I've never really liked reading books and stories online nearly as much as paper ones. I don't have any problem with news and blogs, though. Maybe it has something to do with the length...

I'd like to take more advantage of what's out there, though, as there really is a good variety of high-quality fiction available on the web. Check out Futurismic and Strange Horizons for speculative fiction stories (and other articles). If you're into mainstream fiction, take a look at The New Yorker Magazine. I'll try to add more links as I come across them.

Friday, March 03, 2006

More Excuses for Not Posting

Trust me, I have plenty of things I'd like to write about, but I've been slammed at work and busy, busy, busy with school this week. I've got a paper to write that's due at 5pm today and I have to work until 5. Besides all that, the baby has a bad cold now and kept me up almost all night. Too much! Another reminder that I'm not ready to go on to grad school!

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