Sunday, October 25, 2009

this weekend in Author Guy land

Busy, wet, and windy.

We were set up to do an event is Islandia, on LI, yesterday, and the weather was just not inclined to cooperate. Last weekend was windy and cold. This weekend was windy and warm, with a few bouts of rain thrown in just for fun. I wasn't even planning to go, but my daughter (the one who does these events with me) asked why not, and the sun was out and the weather channel showed no clouds around. So we loaded up and raced on down to the event. Lots of vendors had chickened out, some even after they had gotten there and complained a lot while setting up. Even in the lot we weren't sure about it, but finally decided to take our chances. No sooner were we committed than it started to drizzle, and we had to get out the tarps I'd cut up after the disaster in Collingswood. The books spent the whole day under the plastic, which was good, since the rain wasn't constant but the wind was. My shelter blew up off the ground twice, and we spent the last two hours holding it down. My neightbor lost several glass ornaments when her christmas tree display crashed down. The event manager came around and told everyone that they would get their money refunded, and a while later came around and told everyone that the event was closing up 1.5 hours early. Even so we sold over 20 books, so all I can say is Tough It Out. The only thing quitting guarantees is that you'll achieve nothing.

Today I spent part of my morning counting books. Not only was the layout at the event pretty haphazard, but the packing up was even more so, and we didn't even do a final inventory until today.

I also checked out some agent blogs. Saw the usual advice about queries. It amazes me that people still need to be told some of the things I see in these blogs. My only problem in writing a query is the synopsis, but that's me and my story, not the simple format of a query letter. I did see that there seems to be an assumption on the part of agents that a story will have one protagonist and one plot/conflict. I started thinking maybe that's what my book needs, a stronger set of links between all the various parts and characters, so instead of multiple layers of plot, threads of plot woven into one, I could in fact have one plot. I doubt that it'll happen, but I don't think it'll hurt my story to try. In this case I was adding new text to my novel St. Martin's Moon. I'd always felt it was too short, but it took some time and distance to see where content could be added without being filler. The story really features three protagonists (which makes it tough to write a synopsis for, since there's no single plot, either) yet only one of them gets any great amount of screen time. The other two need to have some more presentation, which is what I did, partly. I'll probably be adding more, especially during edits, if it ever gets any. I also need to get more time in on my next novel, Tales of Uncle, as well as my contest entry for next year's Parsec contest.

Then today I watched two movies that I'd gotten from the Library. One was called the Librarian, the third movie in the series, called The Curse of the Judas Chalice. Humorous adventure about vampires and stuff. Much better than the second movie but not as good as the first, IMHO. I still think they should bring back Nicole Noone.

The second film was A History of Violence, a marvelous movie by David Cronenberg. A small-town store owner foils a robbery, and the notoriety brings him to the attention of some big-time mobsters who know him from his previous life, a life he claims was not his. What I loved about the film is that it was not about the crime or the mob or even whether it was his past or not. The movie is about the effect all of it has on his family, the members of which are led into the discovery and exploration of their own darker natures, which they hadn't even known existed before then.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Medium - Rare

I just discovered the TV show Medium, and I am so glad I did. I found the first two seasons on DVD at BJs for $10 apiece, which is ridiculously low. I picked them up, even though I knew nothing of the show. Must have been my own psychic powers at work (I use the Force to select my books, too), because this show is everything I like and very little that I don't.

This is a show about a woman, a wife and mother. She also happens to have psychic powers, and the stories are more about the effect these powers have on her life than the powers themselves. Just as my own books are about a man, who has to rebuild his life after the gods have selected him to the work that needs to be done, so this show is about a woman trying to live a life with a power that is often as much a curse as a blessing. This show could easily have turned into some 'psychic detective' type of thing but has thankfully managed to avoid that.

It's kind of annoying, really, since I'm trying to work on my stories and novels and instead I'm watch episodes of this show every night. It's the problem to have, I guess.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Any Storm in a Port

This time things are going to be different. It’s what I do, it’s the way I write. My only rule, and I’ve said it a thousand times, is “Never repeat yourself!”

Consider, for example, the story that was released last month by Echelon Shorts (‘Chasing His Own Tale’, read about it here) as compared with the story that is being released this month, which I call ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, mainly because, well, that’s the title. ‘Chasing His Own Tale’ began with a dark and stormy night. ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ starts with a…um…

Okay, different example: ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ began with a contest, held by a very nice little convention out in Pittsburgh called Confluence. Every year they have a contest for a story to be published in their convention guide, and the contest has a theme. The year I discovered it, the theme was ‘Hard Port’. Any interpretation of those words was a good one, but the story had to include them somewhere. As you can imagine, the story does not progress in a straightforward fashion. No book written by me does, but this story really fed into my tendency to take an idea and go off thattaway with it. Cybernetics. Seamanship. (You know, ‘port’ means left, ’starboard’ means right, that sort of thing.) (No, I don’t know where ’starboard’ comes from.) Wine. Which one should I choose?

In 3500 words I managed it five times. In five different ways. I should have a contest of my own, see if anybody can find them all.

I didn’t start out with the idea that it should be another comedy, either, although it isn’t one, quite. I don’t usually start out with any idea what a story should be or where it should go. I usually start with a character, somebody doing something, and the story spins out of what he’s doing, and why he’s doing it. Usually I’m lucky enough to figure out what that is before I get to the end. A short story lends itself to comedy, though, at least I’ve found it so. Or maybe that’s just the kind of guy I am.


So if you’re in the mood for fiction that makes a couple of good, sharp left turns (ha! Get it?), you can find it right here.