Friday, January 25, 2013

Unanimated animation

Unanimated isn't the write word, but I can't figure out a better way to describe this, but I had to share this very cool video.  I love unique storytelling. This is unique storytelling. It's part comic book and part animated movie, except there's no animation.
UPDATE: We are hearing reports that this is called a motion comic. That's so painfully obvious I should have just been able to guess it.

Productivity update
My small writer's group met last weekend, and we each set some goals. For two of us it was all about the writing. For me, it was about finishing the first part of the the second Chasing Filthy Lucre book by the next time we meet. I don't see that being a problem. I've got another week to do it and have written roughly 1,000 words this week. Not my goal, but I'm happy with anything.

I've got the fist part of the story outlined and it's made writing it so much easier. I added a wrinkle of subplot after I created the initial outline, but I think it makes the story better. It puts a little meat on the bones.

The other guy with a productivity goal was shooting for a page a day. I'm hoping he makes it. I'm going to try and send emails to everyone to encourage them to keep working. Productivity has never been a strong point for any of us. Hopefully, some between-meeting encouragement will help.

That's it for today. This one's short. See you on Monday.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My notebook sickness

I'm a writer, so it should be no surprise that I have a bit of an addiction to notebooks. I love paper and pens, always have. A clean sheet of paper and a smooth-writing pen. Two of my favorite things.

I love buying notebooks. Love cool covers. Love heavy paper. While Gina and I were out celebrating the anniversary of our first date we saw these notebooks with covers of classic harboiled novels on them. We bought one of each.

Then a few weeks later I found this one while looking for something for Gina.
(I carry this with me every day, but I haven't written one word in it.)

But here's the thing. As much as I like notebooks, I don't like writing in them. There's something about putting pen to those pages that jams me up. I feel some obligation to fill these cool notebooks with quality material.

I don't know if it's that they are a little more expensive than something that's spiral-bound that makes me feel like I can't just put random thoughts in them or what.

Am I the only one with this affliction? Please, someone else admit it so I don't feel alone.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What sci fi books do you recommend?

There are times as an author that I don't fee very well read. It's kind of embarrassing the number of books, both classic and otherwise, that I haven't read. I'm thinking more about the science fiction genre here rather than crime, but it really applies to both.

I want to be better read. I want to be able to have conversations about classic works with other readers and writers, but I don't feel like I can.

It was this article at io9 that made me think of this. If they were to ask me what great sci fi novel I wished I'd written I wouldn't really have an answer for them.

So, I'm turning to you, my loyal readers (You are there, aren't you? I'm not just shouting into the darkness here, am I?).  What science fiction books would you recommend? I'm thinking classics here, but they don't have to be. Just recommend something you liked.

Productivity Update
This isn't the best week to ask about this. I don't have an exact figure, because that would probably depress me. But I know I missed my goal. I did get some writing done one night, but not enough. So, let's just move on, shall we?

More help with Reunion and Scouts
Even though I didn't get a lot of writing done, I did do a lot of thinking about Reunion and Scouts. They just aren't selling. I've changed the covers. I've changed the blurbs. I don't know what to do with them, honestly. Right now -- and this may be the best idea -- I am thinking that I should pull them down, give them some rewrites, new titles, and then post them again when I have the other episodes in the serial story written and ready to publish. There are four other stories to tell in this "season." That's how I've always thought about these. And since serials are becoming kind of a thing right now, I'd like to get these fixed and back out there.

As for edits, I think the stories need to be a little bit crazier. I think more may need to happen in Reunion. I think it does a good job of setting up the characters and the world, but it may need to have the crazy turned up some. Honestly, it may need more dead bodies. Same thing can be said for Scouts.

I'm also playing with new titles. Reunion may become Lincoln Lady. And Scouts may become Three Dog Night. The one word titles obviously aren't working even if I liked them.

To help me figure out if I'm on the right track, I'd like your help. If you'd be willing to read either or both Reunion and Scouts and let me know what you think, I'd be glad to give you a free copy. These stories went through several drafts and multiple beta readers, but maybe they all missed something. I'd love to know what others think. So, if you'd want a free copy of either story, leave a comment letting me know that. Or email me and let me know. My email address is under the Contact Me tab at the top. I'll send you whatever electronic format plays nicest with whatever equipment you have. And my thanks in advance.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The inspiration of underground bacon

I know that I promised we'd talk about notebooks today, but I've changed my mind. If you've come here with the expectation of notebook talk, I truly apologize. We will get to it some day, maybe next Monday. But it is coming. I've already written the post, and I'm not one to waste my words. However, I stumbled across this video of a guy in Chicago who makes underground bacon and thought it was something that needed to be shared.

Wait. What? Underground bacon? Yes. There are rules and regulations that prohibit him from selling his craft bacon commercially, so he doesn't. He does it underground, hand selling to friends and family.

Anyway, there was something about his spirit of going it alone and doing it yourself that I really identified with. The video is only a few minutes long, but it's worth watching.

You can read the little lead in that the folks at Alternative Apparel's Common Thread blog wrote by clicking here. They also have some pretty screen captures of the bacon cooking process if you're into that kind of thing.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The sanctity of media

(Please, don't go.)
Something that caught my eye this week while bouncing around the Internet in my spare moments.

In a post on the Melville House blog, Dennis Johnson explains why indie authors and small presses shouldn't be celebrating what looks like the slow demise of  Barnes and Noble. Honestly, I can't say the demise is surprising. Media isn't sacred. It never has been. I saw it from the inside as I watched newspapers change and evolve.

It's the telling of the story that's important. The media the story is told on, not so much. So we can want things to stay the same, but that won't make it happen. In college I worked on the newspaper staff full time and in the summers and over holidays I sold CDs at a couple of different Blockbuster music stores. Today, both newspapers and record stores are either dying or dead. And if you'd have told me back then that's what was going to happen I'd have said you were crazy. But that's exactly what happened. But people still consume information, they just get it from a different place now. And they still buy music, new and old, they just buy it from a different place.

Johnson makes a good point about why we need bookstores. This chunk struck me.

Surveys say “showrooming” — seeing a thing before buying it — is an integral part of buying books online. One survey I wrote about a year ago posited that 40% of the people who buy books online looked at them in a bookstore first.


A New York Times report by David Streitfeld two weeks ago took the notion a step further. Noting that “the triumph of e-books over their physical brethren is not happening quite as fast as forecast,” Streitfeld floated the idea that this may be due to the “counterintuitive possibility … that the 2011 demise of Borders, the second-biggest chain, dealt a surprising blow to the e-book industry. Readers could no longer see what they wanted to go home and order.”

The idea of there being no more Barnes and Noble saddens me. When I was single and working nights, I was in a Barnes and Noble that looked a lot like the one above four or five times a week.  I bought something almost every time I was there. I loved it. Of course, this was before Kindles and Nooks and before the rise of Amazon. Now, I go to a Barnes and Noble a couple times a year. And I love books. So, if you are looking for someone to blame for the demise feel free to point a finger at me.

Productivity Update
Roughly 1,500 words. That's what I wrote this week. It's about 500 off the pace I want to keep, which is a just under 2,000 words a week. A good day this weekend and I'll be able to make that up. In a previous post I mentioned starting up a word count tracker int eh right column over there. I still might, but I think for now I'll just tack this little bit onto the end of the Friday post.

That's it from me. Have a great weekend, folks. And come back on Monday. We're talking notebooks. It's very exciting.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Give me your movie recommendations

(The Hobbit, the first movie we saw in 5 months.)

It's not an original complaint from new parents, and, honestly, it's not a complaint at all. Ever since Ellie came along Gina and I haven't been able to see movies like we used to. We weren't every-weekend moviegoers when it was just the two of us, but we did go pretty regularly. But before we went on a movie binge and saw The Hobbit, Jack Reacher, and Lincoln in the last couple weeks, we hadn't been to a movie since The Dark Knight Rises in July.

We know we've missed stuff, and we've gone back to the list of releases month by month for the last half of 2012. We have our list of stuff we still want to see, but we also want your recommendations. What did you see the second part of 2012 that we should also see? Keep in mind that we are blockbuster people. We don't go in much for the character studies, or the relationship dramas. We like things like The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises. Big budgets, big sets, big action

So, let's hear it. What do you recommend?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Writing goals for 2013

It's something I have to tell myself over and over again, especially when thinking about this writing thing. You can only control the things you can control. You can't make someone buy your book. You can't control someone's reaction to your work. The only think you can control is your output. So, with that in mind, here's the plan for 2013.

The second book in the CHASING FILTHY LUCRE series. Two false starts and roughly 50,000 words later, this attempt feels like it's going in the right direction. It's the logical next step for the story. I had an overarching four-book plot planned when I started CFL, and every time I've started to write the second book I've stuck to that plan. I think that's what the problem was. It was a great plan for the overarching story, but where book 2 was supposed to start didn't make sense. Now, it does.  
And when I'm finished: This is one I'll self publish.

The third and fourth JACKSON CANE stories. This is another case where I know the overarching story. I also know what needs to happen in each of the next four stories. The next two in the series should be easy to write. The trick with these stories is getting people to read them. I've said this before, but I like these stories. I like them a lot. They are fun to write, they are fun to read, at least I hope that second part is true. I just can't seem to find them an audience. That's another project for the New Year.
And when I'm finished: Self publishing these too. 

Pirates short story from my phone. I was playing with a plain text editor on my phone and got to writing a pirate story I'd been thinking about for a few weeks. I wrote about 700 words while I was waiting to get my haircut, and then I wrote another 1,000 words while killing time elsewhere. It's a good story with the possibility of more stories in the same world. I'm tentatively titling it Captain on the Sultan's Sea, but that's just for now.
And when I'm finished: I haven't decided what I'm going to do with it just yet, but I'm thinking it'll be something I send out to see if I can't find it a home in an anthology or magazine. Like I said, I think this world has the potential for many stories to come from it. That's what has me hesitating about sending it out. I don't know that I want to give up control of the series opener. But this also feels like something that could be sold. So that's where I'm leaning right now.

IN THE HOLLOWS. This is something that I started while I was laid off. I got about 5,000 words into it before I put it aside so I could focus on finishing the second CHASING FILTHY LUCRE book. And you can tell from the earlier paragraph how well that turned out. But this story i'\s something that I like and think has some potential. And, apparently, I only write stuff that can be made into series.
And when I'm finished: This one I'm pretty sure that I'll send out. Same reservations with the pirate story, but, again, I'm leaning to submitting this one.

So that's it. Those are my writing goals for 2013. The stuff I can control. Five stories/books in 365 days. Totally doable.

Addendum: A little peak behind the curtain. I wrote this post a week ago. Since then, I've decided to add another goal to the list. I want to write 100,000 words in 2013. Doing the math, that's just 275 words a day. That's a very manageable number. I'm playing with  adding a counter over there in some of that space on the right, but not sure yet. They can be a pain to update, or I'll forget and it will be stuck at some embarrassingly small total for the entire year.

But, there you go. One more goal. That's really it this time.