(this is a good thing… ignore me, I’m messing around at 5:30AM, right before going to bed)
Hey! I heard I had a couple of books that were being offered for free at Amazon today. I also heard one of my paid books is priced at $.99. You should check it out. It’s the only way you’ll get enough evidence to convict me in a court of law (in America, at least).
Let’s talk about Travis and his paranoid delusions. Or maybe they’re just my fears? As someone who has spent half his life in the high tech industry, I’m pretty familiar with the way a lot of the industry operates. I understand hardware, until it gets down beyond the silicon where there’s a lot of math and electrical current and all that. I understand software down to the part where you have to code the actual language of it. I understand the internet both from a user perspective, as well as from a technical perspective.
On top of all this knowledge-y goodness, I’m also old. I’ll be 41 in a couple of weeks. This gives me a lot of experience, but it also gives me a good deal of perspective. I’ve been alive long enough to actually see trends develop. A lot of you younger readers, you’ve grown up with the internet and instant communications. To you, this is just normal. This is how it is. It’s sort of like when I grew up with TV or electricity (okay, I’m not that old, but you know what I mean). It’s something you take for granted.
Now, knowing what I know about technology, business, and human nature (and money, let’s not forget money, and religion, I guess, though religion doesn’t play a part in this at all as far as I can tell), I’ve watched the world grow up with this new internet “thing.” There’s still some of us who are scared of computers, and don’t understand the internet. I’m pretty sure when I was born, there were still those who were scared to death of color television and didn’t understand why it was important to put men in space.
I’ve watched how technology has evolved the social structure of civilization, and has done it possibly more rapidly than any other huge leap in innovation ever has in our history. I grew up remembering a billion phone numbers (733-9329 was our home # for… forever, like twenty years or more, and 733-5776 was the number of the car dealership who had the most annoying asshole I’ve ever seen on TV doing their commercials). I grew up having to get up and change the channel. I also remember remote controls having five buttons only: power, channel up, channel down, volume up, volume down.
My mother told me about remotes that only had one button. You clicked it, and the channel went up. That’s it. To get all the way back around, you just clicked it a bunch of times. But, and keep this in mind, there were like… three TV networks back then, and that’s about it. The Star-Spangled Banner played at midnight, then it was six to eight hours of snow because the TV stations shut down for the night.
Right. So. As I’m editing a story tonight, I’ve come across a couple of times where I’ve had to scratch my head and say a sentence out loud. A lot. Why? I’m glad you asked (you didn’t but be a good hostage and pretend I’m important for a moment).
“…a strange foreigner of high birth who threw silver coins around as if he were allergic to them.”
This is one of the sentences in question. If you exchange “was” for “were” in this sentence, it still sounds right. Right? Sort of? And then when you start thinking it does sound correct, you start questioning that. Because “were” starts to sound more correct again.
Okay, maybe I’m the only one with brain damage and has trouble with this. However, I’ve seen this question often, and when Google can autocomplete my query perfectly when I go searching for the answer (remember, English classes were a long time ago for me), I feel better knowing that others have been in this situation.
All of the sites that I respect have the same answer, but since I like Grammar Girl the most, I’ll use hers:
“Believe it or not, verbs have moods just like you do. Yes, before the Internet and before emoticons, somebody already thought it was important to communicate moods. So, like many other languages, English has verbs with moods ranging from commanding to questioning and beyond. The mood of the verb “to be” when you use the phrase “I were” is called the subjunctive mood, and you use it for times when you’re talking about something that isn’t true or you’re being wishful.“
This particular piece of confusing English badassery is known as “subjunctive verbs.” It’s badass because it always kicks my ass. Thankfully I have smart editors who, when not laughing at my attempts to relay an intelligible story, make giant, angry red slashes on my manuscripts (or, you know, uses the Track Changes feature in MS Word) when I fail this ongoing test. I’m also bad at using “that” instead of “who.”
There you go, young writers. And old writers like me who forgot most what what I learned in high school and college after banging my head on the desk too many times trying to come up with a plausible storyline that didn’t read like it was written in blue crayon.
PS: If you like Grammar Girl and want her tips to come up first, just make sure you always add “Grammar Girl” to your search. But you knew this already.
Just read a really interesting article about why humans have yet to encounter any life beyond our home planet: Fermi Paradox
“A really starry sky seems vast—but all we’re looking at is our very local neighborhood. On the very best nights, we can see up to about 2,500 stars (roughly one hundred-millionth of the stars in our galaxy), and almost all of them are less than 1,000 light years away from us (or 1% of the diameter of the Milky Way). “
“When confronted with the topic of stars and galaxies, a question that tantalizes most humans is, “Is there other intelligent life out there?” Let’s put some numbers to it (if you don’t like numbers, just read the bold)—
As many stars as there are in our galaxy (100 – 400 billion), there are roughly an equal number of galaxies in the observable universe—so for every star in the colossal Milky Way, there’s a whole galaxy out there. All together, that comes out to the typically quoted range of between 1022 and 1024 total stars, which means that for every grain of sand on Earth, there are 10,000 stars out there.
The science world isn’t in total agreement about what percentage of those stars are “sun-like” (similar in size, temperature, and luminosity)—opinions typically range from 5% to 20%. Going with the most conservative side of that (5%), and the lower end for the number of total stars (1022), gives us 500 quintillion, or 500 billion billion sun-like stars.”
Read the rest here: Fermi Paradox
You know what’s not funny? That these three ignorant morons, along with Hachette, Mike Shatzkin, and some other dummy I can’t remember (but Joe Konrath will alert you to who it is) keep lying about Amazon and self-publishing. I could go into a rant, but I’ll just let Konrath do it instead, since he’s much better at it than me:
Trust me, there’s more. Just read a few entries below the Chuck Wendig thing on Konrath’s site, including how Stephen Colbert, a man I used to respect, opened his big, stupid mouth and spewed the same lies.
Basically, what it boils down to is this: None of these people believe Amazon should provide you with ebooks that cost less than $9.99, and they don’t believe you should read self-published ebooks. Since all self-pub ebooks are trash, according to them. I guess including the ones by Konrath, Eisler, HM Ward (who has turned down multiple multi-million dollar publishing contracts to keep self-pubbing), Elle Casey, Hugh Howey… I could go on, but I’m ranting, so I’ll quit.
They also believe that you, the reader, are too stupid to make good reading choices, and that it is their (publishing house’s) job to hand pick the literature that they believe is quality. Because, you know, they’ve never picked anything that wasn’t top quality. Because they never published 50 Shades of Gray, or whatever stupid fucking book Snooki from Jersey Shore has her name and face plastered on. I could go on forever here, as well.
Bottom line? Traditional publishing houses, and a lot of big name traditionally published authors believe readers are ignorant, stupid, and must be told what is good literature, and must patrol the literary world to make sure you don’t read anything they have vetted. Oh, and since they vetted it and it is guaranteed to be top quality literature, they want you to pay $10+ for ebooks (a lot of them costing as much if not more than the paper versions).
This weekend, I’m offering all of my books at either $.99 or Free @ Amazon!
Including my latest release “Diabolus”
Hey. So… I’m supposed to tell you something about me, and then tell you to visit some other authors are all vastly superior in writing skill/talent to me (trust me, they are good). Thanks to Cherise Kelley for sending eyeballs this way.
What is “speculative fiction”? Honestly… I have no idea. It seems to be one of those things that are founded in opinion (STAR WARS! NO! STAR TREK! NERD FIGHT!). To me, it’s pretty much everything I write, since I don’t write in the non-fiction genre (yet). I write science fiction, horror, crime fiction, coming of age, humor, fantasy, and even some kid-friendly stories with no *gasp* curse words. Or sex. Or violence. Weird, right?
I’m probably in a lot of trouble with the blog gods because I’m extremely late posting this. The unfortunate clashing of “Diabolus” being released this Friday (putting me in that ugly ‘final edit crunch’ where everyone in the house hates me because I ignore them, and when I am not ignoring them while editing, I’m probably yelling at or to them) and my turn at the blog hop was unexpected. So… blog gods, I’m apologizing up front to hopefully keep my head (or at least my hands, I have to be able to type).
I’ve just finished up what is supposed to be the final edit of “Diabolus,” but of course I’ll sneak one or two more by Wednesday (and probably two or three in the month after release, because I’m kind of anal like that and hate giving readers another reason to hate me). Now I get to bore you with a lot of long-winded nonsense.
1. What Am I Working On Right Now?
Diabolus is pretty much out the door, which puts me back in the rotation, like I’m a homicide detective and I have to solve how I murdered each semi-finished story waiting to be completed.
I have about 2/3 of Book #1 of a new alien invasion trilogy, and I’ll be using Trevor Smith (artist who designed Diabolus’ cover) again for these books.
Then there’s this “Space Weed” story that you might have read a couple chapters of at this here website. If you are a police officer, there are no illicit narcotics residing within the webserver this site is hosted on.
A few vampire shorts (you might have noticed I hate vampires, werewolves, and zombies… and I mean REALLY hate them, but Garth Wright, a fellow Idaho author, convinced me to write a couple of old-school vamp stories with the kind of weird twists that I enjoy.
And finally… there’s this prequel/sequel that I’m finally ready to work on now that all of these other books are out of the way. “It’s Better This Way” has been my most popular book, by far, to the point I could probably be driving my brand new orange $46,000 Dodge Challenger SRT8 with black racing stripes if I had actually written more in this universe six-plus months ago. Whatever. I do things for the love of the story, not for money.
I mean… money is great. I’d love to have more. But I refuse to write anything just to make a buck off it. I can easily see through the bullshit when I write for money instead of for the story, and since I’m one of the dimmest bulbs there is, I’m convinced everyone else can see through it as well.
2. How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre(s)?
The separation comes from either fresh ideas that I’ve never read before (granted, I’ve read a lot in my forty years, but I’m finding out daily there are thousands of books in my favorite genres that I’ve never even heard of). Or the mash-up of different ideas. “Diabolus” is a good example. I call it my “The Exorcist” meets “The Matrix” meets “Skynet” story. Almost sounds interesting, don’t it? Nah, it ain’t. I wrote it, so I’m a pretty good judge of stuff like that.
I spend a lot of time either cleaning cat litter boxes for my masters (five of them), or vacuuming the floors for my other master (the one with the magic ring that won’t let me have a ninja sword and makes me eat vegetables). During this time, weirdly, I get a lot of dumb / crazy / ridiculous / funny / boring / lame ideas about this or that, and then I’ll spent the rest of my cleaning time piecing together a few scenes in my head to see if it works. If so, it goes in the spiral notebook (to die, mwahahaha). If not, but still might be useful down the road, I email a short synopsis to myself. If not, for sure, then I punch myself in the kidney as hard as I can to warn myself about having ideas that are wastes of time.
3. Why Do I Write What I Write?
Because I’m weird. I have a very strange, vivid, morbid imagination. I’m the product of child neglect + abuse, so I had to keep my mind busy a lot while growing up. Now I write to exorcise a few demons from those days, or because I accidentally drank some lemon-flavored bleach and sort of blacked out for a while, and when I came to, there was this cool idea on my screen / in my notebook.
Mostly I write what I write because I love it. If I don’t love a story, you won’t ever read it. You probably shouldn’t ever read anything I write, but if you think maybe you might want to, I’ll warn you again to avoid at all costs. Seriously. I love my stories, and I’m proud of them. I publish them and hope that others enjoy them, but I’m really not concerned if they do or not. I’m a big boy and I know that not everyone will like everything (or anything) that I write.
4. How Does My Writing Process Work?
Step 1: Do something useful like vacuuming floors, cleaning litter boxes, gardening, etc., with noise-canceling earbuds + very angry, loud, heavy metal blasting into my hear-holes.
Step 2: Come up with really ultra mega super awesome badass idea. Write it down somewhere. WRITE IT DOWN! Sheesh. You always forget, then you bug your wife with the “man, I had a really good story idea but now I can’t remember it!” routine because you DIDN’T WRITE IT DOWN!
Step 3: Take the basic idea, and with my awesome Zebra 402 ball point pen, begin writing what I like to call ‘concept.’ Concept is kind of an outline of sorts, but it’s all condensed like I’m a teenager trying to tell an important story to another teenager. It’s a bit jumbled, but I get all the important plot points down. Names… meh. I make up names when I actually sit down.
Step 4: Write a story from the concept. A 6,000 word concept can net me 100,000+ words in a novel. I’m a blowhard that never shuts up like that. It’s what I do.
Step 5: PROFIT!
Wait… there’s something missing here. Oh, put it down for a month after finishing the story. Don’t touch it. Write other stuff. Edit other stuff. Watch Game of Thrones in one sitting. Drive wife crazy begging for ninja swords and a guard tower for the back yard (.50cal machine gun too, please!).
After a month, revise it. Slash and burn and mend and heal. Put it down for another week minimum, then edit it one more time. Then send it to some unlucky fool along with a nice fat check and watch them shrivel in misery as they try to edit my gibberish (written in 67 point font with crayons).
Step 6: After editor sends it back with a note to never contact him/her again, along with threatening legal correspondence, possibly even a restraining order (or a doctor bill for eye replacement after gouging theirs out), put it away for another week. Then edit it. Send it to proofer.
Step 7: PROFIT!!!
Wait… grrrrr. Okay. While that editing stuff (whatever that is) goes on, you should be drinking beer and running down squirrels on winding forest roads! Or… having a cover made. That’s what I’d do, anyway. As you can tell, I’m not good at this. Get a good cover. Trust me on this. Never believe anything I say beyond this, but this one thing, trust me. Get a good cover.
Step 8: PROFIT!!!?
Hah! NO! Now time to navigate the Amazon and Smashwords and B&N portals to print my deliciously adverbial trash-fiction. Wait for approval then…
Step 9: Skip step 9, because 9 is better than 8, but not better than 10.
Step 10: PROFIT!!!???
So… now what?
Now, my little grasshoppers, you must travel beyond my realm, and to a very nice gentleman named “David Pagan.” Here’s a little about him:
By day, Dave is a programmer, or a software engineer for those times when he feels like sounding more important than he really is. He enjoys working on computers and feels fortunate that he’s been able to do it for most of his adult life. When he’s not sitting at a computer earning a living, Dave can usually be found sitting at his computer either writing or blogging. Dave writes mostly horror/dark fiction, though he’s been known to dabble in short fiction on love/romance. He dedicates his blog to his father, who passed away recently, and hopes to someday be as good a storyteller as he was.
You can find out more by visiting David’s blog:
(Right. So. I’m terrible at this, and didn’t actually make it a hyperlink. Never invite me to any social function. I will embarrass you. Badly. And probably ruin it for everyone.)
Hrmmm… if you know me, you know how much I hate vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Can’t stand them these days, but that’s because they’ve oversaturated my interests, or they’ve ruined my interest (keep in mind, I grew up reading “Salem’s Lot” and watching “American Werewolf in London”). But a few weeks ago, I suddenly had three pretty good ideas for vampire stories.
My vampires… they aren’t angst-filled teenagers who never actually do anything except pine for whomever they are in love with. I’m a bit old school when it comes to Vampires. Stay tuned for more chapters =).
“Sir,” Manfred said, poking his head around the doorway into the library. “Davis is here to see you.”
“Davis?” I asked, looking up from the history volume I’d been engrossed in.
“Yes, sir. He states that he is in distress and must speak to you right away.”
“Very well,” I said, closing the cover of the thick tome and laying it on the small end table next to my chair. “Show him in, please.”
“Sir…” Manfred trailed off, looking a bit out of sorts. It was unusual for him.
I gave him a questioning look, but he shrugged his shoulders then disappeared. Less than a minute later, Davis walked into the library.
“Davis,” I said warmly. I stood up and took a step toward my old friend.
“Stay back, Elian,” he said, reaching into his coat pocket.
Right. So. It’s been a while since I’ve updated anything. Trevor Smith, the artist for “Diabolus,” just sent me this a while ago: