Photo work

I managed to finish the first book of Mistborn and completely neglect another deadline I had set for myself. I don’t know if I will have time to get to it tomorrow night or something, but today I know there won’t be a chance that I’ll have time. I’m going out for my first paid photo job and I’m hoping that all goes well. I’ve had pretty extensive practice over the last few months, but I didn’t really seek this job out as much as a friend gave it to me.

It’s a little bit nerve wrecking, but at the same time I’m growing confident in my work with pictures and the like.

So we’ll see how this goes.

Advertisements

Loot Only when Appropriate

Revised from July 16, 2009. There’s a popular trend in a lot of disaster films, but it’s one that people don’t usually talk about: people always loot. Now I get the appeal of looting: there’s free stuff, you’re out with friends or family, and you get to throw bricks through windows. Who doesn’t want to loot? And if you know that aliens will level the city, no one is going to miss a couple of wide screen Sony Bravia TVs and that Mac Book Pro (be careful with that TV though, a plasma can’t stay tilted for long and remember not to get too ambitious. Seventy inches won’t do you a damn bit of good if you’re too dead to watch it.).

The problem is that people in movies loot at the wrong time. Let’s break it down by the nature of the crisis:

Zombie Attack: Totally a looting occasion, Zombies are slow, they usually don’t understand doors and the cops will be busy fighting them off. One thing, don’t hold up inside of the mall. This idea might sound brilliant and original, but it’s not.

Giant Monster Attack: This is a no go on the looting, giant monsters cover too much ground too quickly and while you’re carrying out that Rubbermaid bin full of DVDs it could roll up on and give you a surprise at the door. Also too many giant monsters attract the military and other giant monsters. Some of them have beam weapons, best to steer clear of populated areas altogether.

Alien Attack: Aliens are smart and most often want to violently destroy us without reason. Since Alien weapons come in all kinds of varieties this is kind of up to you. The worst thing you can do usually is be in a crowd, they love that. So if the people are looting, don’t. But if everyone is running the other way, you are go for snatch and grab.

Super Volcano: What are you stupid? Haven’t you see how fast those things erupt?

Massive Global Warming/Cooling…whatever the fuck was happening in Day After Tomorrow: *shrug*

Super Earthquake: Only loot with a buddy, if possible wear a hard hat.

Nuclear Holocaust: You’re the last man on Earth? Your house better should look like a Best Buy show room. There should be more horsepower in your driveway and yard than a whole season of Top Gear has. This goes for any scenario where you’re the last person left…these are the holy grail of looting opportunities.

Super Solar Flare: Why are you stealing, you’re going to be dead in like a matter of hours? Seriously think when you loot, don’t take stuff you won’t ever get to use.

Some quick tips:
-Be courteous: don’t steal more than you need.
-Share: if someone needs to borrow a cinder block, let them. Then retrieve it.
-Recycle bricks and cinderblocks. Just because society is collapsing doesn’t mean we have to be wasteful.
-Don’t forget to steal weapons and ammunition when applicable.
Most importantly AIM HIGH: What are you driving? A Ford Focus? Put that back and find a nice Veyron or Bentley.

That’s all I can think of, happy looting.

baby Steps

Self publishing an e-book doesn’t mean that I want to be disrespectful and step on the toes of the industry. I’m not that angry writer who sees the traditional publishing as out to get them and I actually do plan to try to go through the agents and steps to get my actual novel published someday.

red08Still I want to do this e-book right. The title I have been eyeing Keep Austin Weird is a phrase coined by Red Wassenich. I looked up his contact information and website. There was a picture and frankly the guy looks like a cross between Mr. Feeny (from Boy Meets World) and Indiana Jones’s father—which automatically catapults him into the realm of the epic. On top of that he has a hand in publishing himself. I knew right away I was destined to e-mail him about this matter.

So here I am taking baby steps, trying to be professional and asking for permission to use someone else’s brainchild and slogan. Wish me luck.

Excuses For writing

I have been listening to a lot of the Writing Excuses podcasts which seem to have really inspired me into really looking at everything I did in different ways. There was a time when I looked at anyone trying to give advice about writing or the craft and I thought it was stupid to listen to them. There seems to be this phase a lot of writers, myself included, go through where they’re certain that none of the other real writers have ever needed help and we only feel like we do because we’re not as good or we’re weak.

Most of my connection with other writers has been through an online medium. It’s rare that I meet someone in person whom I share my writing with or can even talk to about what it is I do. The internet was the first place that I felt I could be artistic in the open in a way I wanted to. True, before I did this I was drawing a lot and people saw that. But they never saw the comic books for the most part and the other things I made. Before I even got to high school I had single handedly drawn and inked over 70 comic books in a series.

Almost all of them are long gone by now, but the point is that back then if anyone had found out they would have questioned me as to why. Maybe not to my face, but behind my back. On the internet people were writing and drawing and doing whatever all of the time. I honed my art skills there and later my writing ones.

Years later when I would talk to other aspiring writers about my research methods, about how much I read about the craft itself or how much I studied the methodology behind writing they would joke that I was not a real writer. I didn’t write from the heart and totally make things up, I researched them and I spent time developing how I could incorporate different methods into myself.

Part of the time I felt bad, like I was less than what I wanted to be. But when my results grew better with time and my characters had a solid footing to rest upon, not just feeble ones built upon someone trying to do everything in solidarity and ignoring all of those that came before, I realized I had been right.

Fiction has existed as long as language, but written fiction is much newer and even newer is the idea of a novel.In the scope of human history, the novel is only about one thousand years old. Over the years things have been added to it and taken away. Writing has grown into different genres with characteristics and some recognizable patterns. The way characters have been constructed has changed dramatically and we’ve seen the rise of different viewpoints, different voices, challenges to the idea of what a novel could be and what it should be—entire books written in the form of e-mails, text messages as a literary device and even a book written in chat speak.

There’s no requirement a writer study the work of those before, but completely writing off the study od it is dumb and I have come to see the overwhelming truth in this. Since starting Writing Excuses I have been challenged to analyze my own writing: plot, character, setting; and really decide what I wanted to do with these things. I have been forced to look for themes and remember that the amazing things that writers do in books are often not deliberate at first and when found in post writing revisal can be made to look more deliberate and sharpened for effect.

In general I’ve been made to discover my own excuses for writing. I’m not out because because I want to make a quick buck (because it’s not like that) and I don’t want to try to write some super original story that shakes up the literary world (because I think those kinds of people a generally not in it for the right thing either); I write because I love it, even when I hate it. I love to write.

Magic systems

I have been looking at the kind of magic system that I want to use with my stories. I was thinking about how I kept hearing that every book with magic needs to have rules or it gets out of hand, but then you think back on some of the great fiction out there like The Lord of the Rings and realize there isn’t very much you know about the magic sometimes.

That’s where this post came in from another blog on Sanderson’s First Law. The rule goes as follows: Sanderson’s First Law of Magics: An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.

There is actually one other rule, but this is the very important one for what I am going to be talking about. This writer, the one who made this rule actually said that he thought the way that I did at first. He felt that all magic systems should have rules until he saw that some people actually like the mystery and mysticism in it. The thing is that I think I want to actually do something like this, I don’t want there to be a lot of rules.

What I want more is the main character to kind of be in awe of the magic and somewhat frightened by it. I’m still trying to work out a way to do this in an accurate fashion, but I at least have a starting point when it comes to what I need to work with in terms of the story planning.

Beta-readers

One of the most important things, as I have been saying for a while, if I’m going to self-publish Keep Austin Weird is that I get it completely free of mistakes and continuity errors before I ever let one penny come in for the book itself. The best way to do that is to let a fresh pair of eyes look at it. Many of my friends around me here don’t read or have heard so much about this thing in the planning stage because it started off as more of a joke.

They’re not my ideal beta-reader. I’m stealing the phrase from Stephen King’s On Writing, though he used ideal reader. What I basically want is a person who knows either nothing at all about the story or who knows the bare minimum. Anyone who’s interested in reading and giving feedback would be greatly appreciated, though I’m kind of wary about letting this thing out on the internet so you might be met with some skepticism if I don’t know you personally.

To my friends elsewhere, in other countries or parts of the US: I would be happy to share my work with you when I am done if you’re so inclined to read it. As it gets closer to competition and once it gets completed I will be looking for people more aggressively.

Anyone have a good strategy for finding someone?

Dick Attack and other self publishing woes

dick_attackTo many, self publishing is a gloomy place where book ideas go when they’re too daft and unworthy to be picked up by a reputable firm. Though that’s often not the case and there have been some authors who have published quality product and enjoyed success through self publishing, there is a reason why this idea is so prevalent. One can’t really describe it, so I will use a passage taken from here by a self published author.

I would like to warn you this post might feature adult material…sorry it’s hard to tell if they’re gardening, having sex or if there’s something entirely different going on here. Judge for yourself.

… Her long hair, still wet from the shower, had been combed down her back in a wet swath. Hilda was sitting on the floor, her round, wet boobs still wet from the shower’s water. She dried off the water with a towel, which then became wet.

Hilda gasped when she saw a reflection in her bedroom mirror: through the slightly open door, she caught a glimpse of the chiseled abs and square jaw of the mysterious stranger who shared her cabin. She stood and spun around, her breasts swinging heavily with the momentum. She grabbed the door and flung it open, revealing shirtless Torolf (which was seriously his name) quivering with desire in the hallway.

Torolf was ashamed at being caught, but his shame made him even hotter – hotter for sex. He stepped into the room, and his bulging abs accidentally smushed into Hilda’s rich chest.

As Hilda’s buttermilk bosoms squished up against his granite abs, Torolf almost had a dick aneurysm.
“Hilda,” Torolf murmured thickly, his throbbing meat wand pressing against Hilda’s warm thighs. “There is a secret I need to not tell you: You are my forbidden desire.”

Hilda had been waiting to hear these words. Her heart was lifted on golden wings and soared toward a radiant sun of perfect joy. She saw herself and Torolf happy together, bathed in the golden light of love. Her snooch got all warm, too.

“Torolf,” Hilda moaned, her lush teats straining with desire. “I need you.”

Torolf, coarse abs pulsing softly in the moonlight, stood silently.

Hilda looked at him expectantly.

“Oh, sorry,” she added. “Torolf, I need you – sexually.”

At hearing those beautiful words, Torolf flexed his rough-hewn abs and Hilda found herself being guided to her soft bed by the sheer force of Torolf’s undulating midsection. She parted her thighs in anticipation, exposing the soft pink petals of her clunge.

Torolf entered her like she was a lottery. His engorged pecker pushed inside her and she felt fulfilled with sexual fulfillment.

Hilda clutched at the bedsheets with lust and ecstasy and her hands. Her spongy love mountains hurled to and fro with each pounding. Her body was like a beautiful flower that was opening and somebody was pushing their dick inside it.

Then Torolf moaned, arched his back, and suffered from dick Parkinson’s. He pumped in all of his hot pearlescent sperms as Hilda spasmed with so many orgasms!

The two lay still for a moment as the stinky scent of lovemaking billowed around the room.

Hilda got out of bed, still shimmering with orgasm. She glowed with contentment, like a cat who ate the cream of the crop.

She walked across the room and picked up her towel, still wet with shower water. “Torolf,” she said softly, “there’s something I have to tell you…”

But her bed was empty.

Torolf was gone, escaped out the bedroom window. In the distance, Hilda heard the fading sound of galloping abs.

Usually I wouldn’t put that kind of thing up, but the actions are so incoherently described that I doubt enough sense can be made of them for anyone to get offended. I posted all of this to let it be known that the most important thing an author can do when it comes to self publishing is edit, re-read, and let others edit for you. Hire an editor if you can scrape together the cash because in the long run it will prevent stuff like this!

Vampire buffet

Thought of the kind of Vampires we see in fiction has changed some in the last few decades. The more mystical vampire has been replaced by ones that can’t be killed by wooden stakes or can go in the sun or do other things that would have been considered a break against vampire canon not too long ago. Much of what we consider Vampire lore is newer though, even Dracula appears in the sun at one point during Bram Stoker’s novel about him.

So why is there all the confusion? Because Vampire legends and lore are older than the word Vampire itself. Most cultures on the planet have something similar to a Vampire and most of what we call our own current lore is a filtered down hodgepodge of many of those that came before. In some areas you were meant to stake them in the mouth, other times you had to stake them with specific types of wood. In many instances they were said to cast no shadow or reflection.

Much of this is still present to this day. The reason why I have been going over this is because I have been trying to decide what abilities to give the creatures in my own novels. Vampires have been the hardest because they’re so often handled in fiction. I’ve decided to lean more toward the old school side of things. I’m letting them be alright in the daylight (because they were originally) and I’m thinking of making them weaken vastly if staked from the wood of a specific type of tree. I’m also going to throw in a rarely used trait and say they can’t cross a body of running water. There will be other things to come as I am still ironing out he details.

As I have no intention for Vampires to be my main characters, I don’t want them to steal the show. But I want them to be workable, not over powered, and somewhat different than what the typical writing we see out there presents them as. Though that’s not to be said that there is something wrong with adding something new the legend or going with a more standard version—just make sure it’s workable in the narrative and doesn’t distract from the plot.