Friday, May 28, 2010

Scrib'd. I'm there.

I started poking around Scrib'd the other day and decided to create a profile. I even posted a flash piece over there. If you are so inclined you can find me here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thought about setting

Read this post over at Nathan Bransford's blog and it hit home for me since I have been thinking a lot about setting lately.

Pretty sure I have mentioned here in the past that I have a series of stories that I've been writing that are all set in one place over a period of time. The stories all take place over several decades in the same setting except the setting evolves. There are constants, however, that the reader can get comfortable with. Anyway, that's a horrible job of explaining my setting, but read the post. It's a good one. It made me feel like i am doing something right.

An update in two parts

Sorry I haven't checked in for a week. I suppose telling you all that the week has been busy would be a good excuse, but it's not entirely true. I have been busy, but not so busy that I couldn't post something. I just haven't had much to say. Been reading a lot of blogs and commenting there, but not had too much to say here. I do owe you an update, though, and more regular posts. So I'll try to do that.

Update Part One
A few weeks ago I submitted a query to the guys at Crime Factory. It's for their Kung Fu Factory special edition. I hadn't heard anything from them and figured they just weren't interested, but since the deadline for queries was August I thought I'd give them until then -- or at least closer to that date -- before I moved it elsewhere.

Yesterday I heard from them apologizing for the delay and asking me to send the story through. This is what I said in the query. They seemed to like it, but I'd like to know what everyone else thinks. Let me know if this would get you to read my story. It's the first time I've written a query and I'd love to get some feedback so I can work on that skill. And keep in mind that this was for an issue that focuses on fighting, so I tried to highlight that in the query.

[The story] takes place in a grimy future where data is a drug, and our protagonist, Solis, is an addict. He's willing to do whatever it takes to get his fix, even if that's knocking around a few heads of guys he considers friends.

I'll let you know if they liked it or if they pass.

Update Part Two
I know I haven't been posting as often as usual, but if you have the keen eye you may have noticed that I've been updating things here. My WIP bug has been updated twice in the last week. Not been as productive as I wanted but we are at 25 percent completed. I've been writing in the morning. I've only had about 20 minutes to write, but have been getting out about 350 words when I can get my fingers on the keys.

I said in a previous post, and as you can tell from the WIP bug, I am shooting for 20,000 words on the current piece, at least for now. Could grow, could shrink, but that's my goal. Using my 350 word pace I can write a little over 1,000 words in an hour. If I can write for one hour a day I could be done with this thing in about three weeks. I'd love to have it done sooner, but that gives me a time frame. And if I am really cranking I can write faster than 1,000 words/hour. So hopefully this will be done soon.

And, on an unrelated note, we are going out of town for the weekend so I may not be around much after Saturday. But when I come back I'll bring you pictures of us in San Antonio.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A needed reminder

I think all writers have a problem of thinking thirty steps ahead. I know I do. I am really enjoying writing my current WIP even if I am not making as much headway as I'd like. I really like what the story could be, what I've mapped out. I'll admit to being guilty of thinking about what to do with it once it's done. How to get it out in front of an audience. Thinking about that and it's not even finished.

That's why Dave White's post over at Do Some Damage kind of slapped me in the face today. So I link it here as something every writer should read and as a reminder to myself. Just finish, Jarrett. Just finish.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weekend recap

I wasn't terribly productive this weekend, but that's OK, because we had a bit of a celebration at our house. Gina graduated with her master's degree. On Saturday we drove out to her college campus about an hour east of us and a group of nine of us cheered as she crossed the stage. Her immediate family made it out and so did mine. Went to eat afterward with everyone and had some really good Mexican/El Salvadorian food. It was a lot of fun. We haven't had all of those people together since the wedding almost two years ago.

After dinner we met some friends for drinks and to toast my lovely wife on her big accomplishment. This degree is something she had started working on just before we met so I got to see her bust her butt to keep her A average and finally finish the thing. I am incredibly proud of her. So, not a productive weekend, but that's OK. I have a great excuse.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My WIP bug

I've added the WIP bug I mentioned in the previous post. I put a word goal of 20,000 for starters but I may come to the end of the story sooner than that. May get there later than that too. But the bug is up, and that's good.

Moving forward on my WIP

I added about another thousand words to the work in progress last night. Then about 350 more this morning.

It's a three part story* and I solidified the path to the end of part one. I knew where I needed to go but didn't know how I would get there. I figured that out last night. I also figured out how to work in a bit of characterization I needed to work in with my main supporting character. I wrote that part before work this morning but I'm afraid it needs to be amped up. There are guns drawn and shots fired. It should be more exciting that it seems to be right now. I need to reread what I wrote, but it seems flat.

I am thinking that I will add one of those WIP bugs on the right side over there in the next few days. To keep me accountable.

Here's another sample from it, with a bit of an explanation of the idea of data running that I'm playing with. Let me know if it doesn't make sense. And keep inmind that these are all first drafts.

As we walk back to Raul’s to get ready for that night’s action we try and stay on the streets that are well lit. The sun in going down and casting long shadows down the asphalt. The buildings are getting taller as we head into downtown and I am explaining what it is that Carroll does.

“It’s called data running,” I say, waiting at a corner for a man pulling a small cart on the back of his bicycle to pass, the orange flag attached to the seat is popping in the breeze. Berger nods like he knows what I am talking about but I know he doesn’t, he can’t.

I lift my left sleeve and show him the port in my arm, just below my elbow.

“You’re on the wire?” Berger asks.

I nod and tell him that I could be. “I’ve got the equipment, but I don’t use it. Not often anyway.”

“So, what does that have to do with Carroll and this job?”

“It’s how they run data.” We turn the corner and pass the restaurant we ate at a few nights before. We hear generators rumble to life. Shop keepers are starting to turn on the lights outside their front doors and little pools of light are beginning to litter the sidewalk. I continue. “They sit a guy in a chair, hook him up to a feed. They dump whatever info that needs to travel securely into a part of the brain that’s not being used and send him off with an address on a page and name of someone to ask for. Once they get to wherever it is they are supposed to go they get hooked back up and the data is pulled out of their heads. All we have to do is make sure they get there.”

* Possibly a novella since we are at 4,000 words now and not done with the first of three parts. We are looking at probably 25,000 to 30,000 words when all is said and done. Plus, it being a novella plays well into something I have been kicking around in the back of my head. More on that if something comes of it. **

** Thanks to Joe Posnanski for this little aside device. SO much easier than trying to work that info into the main post.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A look at the future

There's an interesting discussion going on over at The Kill Zone. It's about ebooks and book books. The most interesting part of it all is going on in the comments. All of the folks who post there are published writers and they are sharing how much their ebook sales have grown. Check it out.

The rise of ereaders and ebooks is incredibly fascinating to me. With the iPad being launched I think you are going to see a huge rise in ebook sales with in the next few years. I'd even predict and almost 50-50 split when it comes to sales. Half of all book sales will be ebooks. That's how fast this thing is changing. I have no data to back that up, but as iPad competitors come out you'll see the numbers just continue to rise. I think there are a huge number of people out there who contemplated buying an ereader of some sort -- Kindle, Nook, etc ... -- but decided against one since they didn't serve any other purpose. But with these tablet computers coming out that's changed/changing.

Anyway, go check out he discussion at The Kill Zone. Interesting stuff.

An update

I wrote a paragraph this morning and that's the first new thing I've written in probably a week. Been busy with the non-writing part of my life.

Still thinking about the Needle Flash Fiction Challenge. The original idea I had been playing with isn't really panning out. It's a few bits of tasty dialogue but not much more than that. Not really a story that goes anywhere. I have another idea -- really an idea for a setting -- that I am going to think about and see if I can't make it go anywhere.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A busy weekend

We spent the weekend working around the house so I didn't get much done on the writing front. I thought some about the Needle contest. I have an idea that hopefully can contain itself to the 1000 word limit. Not sure yet.

The WIP is just sitting there. I have been thinking about where it's at and I am afraid that I have written my characters into a situation that does nothing to advance the story. They are walking some place and will have to walk back to where they came from before anything happens that pushes the story forward. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense if you don't really know the story, but it doesn't matter really. All you have to know is that I realize I need to delete about 300 words that I've already written. Not a big deal, really. There is one little bit that I like that I'll keep and work in somewhere else. All I am losing, really, is a little world building and atmosphere. I am feeling pretty comfortable with the atmosphere of the piece. The reader gets a dystopian feel and that's what I want. So losing these few words isn't a killer. Just disappointing that I wrote myself into a hole. But better to realize it now, I guess, than 1,000 words from now.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Needle magazine's flash fiction challenge

Since I don't have enough going on right now I decided to throw my hat into the ring and participate in Needle Magazine's flash fiction challenge. More detailed rules are here, but it boils down to this. Write it, but no more than 1,000 words. Post it, or find some place that can, by May 18. They will draw a name from those who posted and they win a Needle t-shirt. The only catch is that the story has to include a needle somewhere.

So, the prize winner is picked at random, but there is this.
We’ll also look through the stories to see whether anything might be a good fit for the summer issue of NEEDLE, expected out around the first of July. If it seems like a fit, we’ll chat about it.

While I would never turn down a t-shirt, that would be the real prize.

More from the current WIP

King of the abbreviations drops another one on you. WIP is work in progress for those who don't know.

Sue asked for a little more of what I am working on. These, by the way, are just a random few paragraphs. Not from the beginning or the end. And they don't go together so don't read this one as a continuation of the last one.

Berger takes a bite of his sandwich then mumbles with a full mouth, “And what did you do before you got started fighting?”

“I was a soldier, then a cop.” I look for the woman who took our order and ask her to bring us two beers. “These are on me,” I tell Berger. He nods his thanks then asks more questions.

“That where you learned to fight? The military?”

“That’s where they taught me how to throw a proper punch. Nobody teaches you how to fight. You just know how to do that. Born with it.”

The redhead sits two label-less brown bottles on the table. They are a home brew and I take a long drink. It’s bitter and I shut my eyes tight as I swallow, fighting to get it down.

“So, a soldier, huh?” I say to Berger and reach down to my boot and pull a pistol that’s been holstered to my ankle and put it on the table. “I guess you know how to use one of these.”

Berger smiles and says, “Yes, I’ve used a gun before.”

“How long ago did you last shoot?”

“Basic training.” He puts what’s left of his sandwich in his mouth and washes it down with a swallow of the home brew. “I worked the kitchen, and let me tell you, I make better sandwiches than these things. Better beer, too.” He slides his empty plate to the middle of the table and pulls his napkin from his lap.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Writing ADD and what I'm working on

That's attention deficit disorder, not just random capitalization. But I do think I have writing ADD. I have a tough time finishing things. And it's not because I think whatever project I 'm writing isn't good. It's just that something else in my head grabs hold of my attention and chokes it to the ground. For example, I have two pieces that I have started but sort of abandoned in favor of something that sprung into my head the other morning.

I wrote on it the other day and then again last night and we are around the 2,500 word mark right now. The words are still coming easy, and that may be why it's what I am wanting to write at the moment.

Here's a little taste of what I've been doing.

I push him off of me and he stumbles out to the middle of the circle. He struggles to stand and I come at him with a flurry of punches. First a right, then a left, then another right. I throw one more hard left and Berger’s head snaps back. He falls to the ground and the crowd starts to shout. A pair of men fight through the mob and grab Berger under the arms and drag him into a back room. I follow them, accepting congratulations.

Once the door shuts behind us one of the men who had been dragging Berger waves smelling salts under his nose. He shakes his head and his eyes blink open.

Raul stands up from the desk that’s in the corner. He approaches Berger and me with two stacks of cash, Berger’s bigger than mine since he took the fall.

“Sorry it can’t be more, boys,” he tells us.

“It’s alright,” I say, speaking for the both of us. “It pays the bills.”

And it does. That’s why I do this, not because I want to, but because I need to.

I sit with Berger for a few minutes after Raul has left. He’s given me the keys and asked me to lock up. We are in the basement below his store, a shop that sells a little of everything but specializes in nothing.

“Sorry that one was so rough,” I say to Berger as he pushes himself off of his back and onto his elbows. “I think I got carried away.”

Berger just smiles and tells me not to worry about it. “I’ve taken worse beatings,” he says. “At least I am getting paid for it now.”

I nod and agree. At least we are getting paid for it.