Tag Archives: short stories

To see the truth, to see it well (dream operator)

sub: 6

rejects: 5

Wrote a new sci-fi story this week at 4,783 words so far. Should finish the draft tomorrow. Wandered around it. Had no idea where it was going. (I never outline, everything’s in my head, but just ideas, even with novels) Did it have a right or a left political slant? Seems I made fun of both. Cool. But it still could be considered too polemic like most of my other work. I’ll try not to worry about. The world is different now. Money options are different now.

Been watching these classes on Calling Bullshit put out by The University of Washington. It’s a one credit course that they offer and so far seems interesting. A lot of it I’m familiar with but I’m learning new theories on the construction of bullshit. Life has always been full of illusion and delusion. Especially with our government.

It didn’t start with Trump and his administration; he just brought the best game and players. He’s also inspired the worst in both parties. I’ve seen a lot of bullshit in the liberal left too. Many memes that are so absurd. I’m at the point were nothing surprises me about Trump but when I see these ridiculous memes on the web I would have to be a fucking idiot to believe he did or said that.

I never considered my self a Democrat or lefty. I’m mistaken for one all the time by angry conservatives and Republicons. No, if I had to label my political affiliation I would say anarchist or progressive. Anarchist don’t want to destroy the government, we just don’t need the government to control us into doing the right thing. I know what’s right and can do it on my own. I don’t need the law to tell me what is right. Most likely I can be arrested for doing what is right.

I vote Democrat since they share the same goals as me. No, Dems are not perfect. Don’t expect them to be. Never expect a politician to be perfect. But at least a Dem gives to the country. It’s part of their agenda. A Republicon’s agenda states that it must away. Lately there are more progressive Democrats popping up locally since Sanders came around. Good sign, no?

Anyway. No matter what political party, seeing the truth is always a good thing. To figure out the truth you need three things:

  1. What you learn from experience
  2. What you learn from a book (preferably non-fiction)
  3. What you learn from other people’s experience (people in your face to face life, not Facebook and Twitter)

Mixed those three things and at the core is the truth.

So for now, I give you this:

The Path to Show and Not Tell

I’ve been seeing some confusion about show and not tell amongst new writers. Again. I’m not a guru but here is how I learned it.

Tell = To summarize dramatic events. To gloss over  In affect, after you read it you may think, “Wow I wish I could have experienced that.”

Show = Imagine a play/script but with all the literary workings of the six senses. Or not, depending on your style. Most importantly you are leading the reader by the nose through an event, a key dramatic moment, emotional beats that will make them move forward through the story.

But what are beats?

Beats are verbs with to in front of them.

Example: To confuse, to comfort, to humiliate.

Beats make your story. Your character has one beat and they use many beats to fulfill the main one.

Of course your antagonists have beats. And when they conflict with your protagonists they will cause….CONFLICT.

The experienced writer will have said beats buried in their subconscious or know them off the top of their head. But when stuck will think about them in verbs. New writers should always be thinking about them. It’s their path to show and not tell.

Now you don’t have to show all the time. Nothing wrong with a little telling. It just depends where you do it. Maybe you want to speed the story up. Maybe you don’t want to repeat a show you just did before. Or tell a past moment that happened before the story. I don’t know. Use discretion. Use your style. Use your instinct. But if it’s a heavy moment, something you’re scared to write, something that reveals a part of yourself, then you should definitely show it.

I’m not a writing guru but…

subs: 2

reject: o

Damn, wish I had more rejections.

Revised The Creative down to 5,943 words. Feels solid. The core, the meaning, of the story finally screamed out to me. In a few weeks I’ll give it a final run through and see if I still feel the same. Tomorrow I’ll start a new story to distract myself.

I turned 43 this week. Although I feel tired and achy, I don’t feel old. I don’t know why. Probably because I’m not. My life is content at this point. The life my wife and I built has been holding steady and there are many lights ahead of us. And if those lights should keep going further back, that’s still okay. Like I said, I feel content.

I have been writing since I was 16, 15? Before then I had been obsessed with story. I wrote scripts, novels, short stories, and made movies. I’ve learned many things. I continue to do so. Especially in this self-publishing game. I won’t get into why I do it. My reasons are my own. Strictly political. I also sell short stories to magazines and zines, etc. So mull over that.

During my time self publishing (I think I put out my first book in 2011), I have learned a crap load of stuff. I waded through the gurus and the marketers and information. It can be depressing and overwhelming for a newbie. I am not a guru. This will not be a blog for such information. There are others out there who  do it better. But I will drop a tip here and there. Like now:

Self Pub Tip

Sometimes I see on Twitter or Facebook the SP writers tooting their own horn about how they are “fulltime writers” and “professionals” and how “they are living the dream” and they have these blogs reveling on what it’s like being a writer. So I check out their books and read their samples on Amazon and SMACK!

They can’t write. What do I mean?

  • They can’t form a sentence.
  • They misuse punctuation or create new punctuation.
  • They’re unaware of scene construction, how to pull a reader in, or how to create an original or interesting character.
  • Their work is redundant.

 

They can’t form a sentence

I’m  aware that something happens to our brains when we turn into an adult. We regress into apes and write as we speak instead of writing correctly. Writing and speaking are two different things, two languages. If you are picking up writing late in your adulthood and you forgot your basics, I suggest you study a writing manual. I preferred The Elements of Style. It’s tiny, clear, and concise.

 

They misuse punctuation or create new punctuation.

I spot this one a lot.

Example: “My dog is in the hospital.” He said.

Huh? Shouldn’t it be: “My dog is in the hospital,” he said.

If I find the son of a bitch whose been teaching writers this I’m going to pull his scrotum over his head. It is everywhere.

 
They’re unaware of scene construction, how to pull a reader in, or how to create an original or interesting character.

 

There are millions of books, videos, and classes out there that will teach you how to write a story. A majority will teach you how to write a bestseller. They will give you the secrets on how to pull a reader’s heart strings or expectations and thrill them to no end. That’s great. Pick ONE of those books up and keep it as a reference. Something to inspire or to look back on.

You ever read clickbait on the world’s greatest writers tips for writers? One of those tips are always READ. Wanna know why? Reading is how you learn to write structure, character, and setting. Reading all kinds of genres and stories. It’s the best kind of education and it’s free to cheap. How do you think the pulp writers learned to write back in the 30s-50s? Hell, how do you think Shakespear or the guys who wrote the Bobe learned? They didn’t have writing gurus. They READ the writers before them and learned.

Now this is the important part. YOU NEED TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO LEARN. You have to be aware of what you are reading. You have to see what the author is doing and how they are doing it. Once you achieve this then you can add these tricks to your tool box and use them for your own work. Then you can mix and match these tools with your voice to develop a style as you write more and more.

A writer needs the ability to learn or they will never be a good writer. The only one that can teach you to write is yourself. You have to do the work.

 

Their work is redundant.

There are many reasons why a publisher would not be interested in your book. Primarily because they don’t think it’s marketable. A publisher is a business. They are responsible to their shareholders and keeping their doors open. Agents need to make a living and do not want to take on books that are not marketable.

What is marketable? I don’t know.

But now with the digital revolution one can publish the unmarketable and give those books a chance. A chunk of those unmarketable books seem to be books that tell the same stories that are already marketable bestsellers. Another form of the popular military sci-fi or the young adult romance. Some of these with their expensive covers stand out and make the bestsellers for a moment until the writer can make another carbon copy to chase another fad or just fade away. But there are many that gather dust by authors tooting their horn and wade in the points I mentioned above.

Although I feel the urge to condemn writers for resisting originality in independent publishing, I will say this instead. If you feel being redundant is your calling please be professional. In my experience readers can be forgiving with minor typos but not with shoddy storytelling.

So for now, the last episode of Stainboy:

2 things that bite my balls (one for each)

This week I was only able to sub 5 stories and received 2 rejections.

Was hoping for more rejections this week so I could turn more stories around. Though, an acceptance would have been nicer.

Markets are still slim. Wish there were more crime markets that paid well.

The sci-fi/ya short I have been working on this week is now at 4,400 words, tentatively called The Creative. Bland I know, but I still have some more words. I should finish the draft tomorrow morning. I’ll think of something better. I already have some notes for a second draft. Also I want to keep it under 5k but if it goes over I’m not too worried considering the genre it’s in. Sci-fi markets seem to take higher word counts and also pay higher rates.

So yes, things that piss me off. I’ll keep this short.

One, markets that make you pay to submit your work.  Many lit based markets, think University, want to charge you a fee so they will consider you short story for acceptance of their journal. I do have some lit stories that I push around and often run into these markets.

Also there is another type that will not read your submission unless you are a subscriber to their magazine. (No, this is not the market that says read a FREE issue before you submit to get a feel of what we like. They want you to pay to subscribe before submitting.) For fear that you will not know what they want to publish. For these people don’t have time to write guidelines to explain themselves. Or have SO many submissions from SO many subscribers to read. I don’t know.

All I know that they are both capitalist scum fucks that want the writer’s money or lazy, greedy basterds and you should stay away from them

Two, I have social anxiety disorder and Asperger’s. On one hand I’m compelled to stay away from people because I have things going on in my head to take care of. On the other I just don’t want to deal with people. But I still want to socialize when I’m in the mood.

When I do no one ever meets up with me. Not talking about strangers. Talking about neighbors, people I live with for the last ten years. They give me scripted talk and move on. I know nothing personal about them. So freaky and weird. This sounds familiar. I mentioned something like this before. But you know what I mean. I want to reach out and I’m the one on drugs for depression. But no one else wants to take the time. They’re in their own little world. I guess they’re Aspies too?

 

 

But we’re not those kinds of people are we?

Finished those two short story revisions and started submitting them today. The YA market is a bit edgy and controversial so I’m hoping the story will fit well there.

Of course the mystery crime markets are so fucking slim for the second story. I just subbed it to Hitchcock. Acceptance there is as slim as the pickings but I’ll give it 4 months and then sub someplace else.

That sci-fi/ya story I was on the fence about last week I started on Saturday. Doing 2 finished pages a day with screaming kids and wife around (he he), I managed to get over 2k words (11 pages) as of this morning. Looks good. Any doubts of repeating myself are not there. Stupid me, right? I’m liking it. Feels different from anything I did before. Think I’ll be done with it by the end of the week, hoping.

Son had his dental operation on Friday. The brave little booger had three teeth pulled, not two. The third was just a loose baby tooth that was hanging out and the dentist said, “What the fuck. We might as well take this one too.”

The insurance worked out. We only had to pay for the anesthesia. Considering the whole bill would have been almost 2k I’m not complaining. Plus, how can you let a child be awake for a thing like that. I had one tooth pulled and those needles were a nightmare.

Son had no pain when he came home and all through the weekend. With any luck he’ll have no more broken fillings with cracked teeth. But we’re not those kinds of people are we?

Anyway, I forgot Stainboy last time. Here is epi five:

a not so distant future where one struggles for gasoline

Finished Kharma Part 12 revisions.

Working on two short story revisions this week (MiLK and White Elephant in the Blue Room). Both are just about 5k words so that’s different lately.

Tried to find some markets to submit to and failed. Nothing in my pay rate.

As planned for June, I want to get in another short, flash or longer, before starting Kharma part 13 but I’m not sure what to write. Horror isn’t my thing, so that’s out. I could do a sci-fi/YA but it has theme setting I already used in other stories but a different plot. I don’t want to repeat myself.

Maybe something will pop into my head that will make it different enough for me to jump into it. For now I can just open my tiny notebook on Monday and pick anyone of the ideas and use one of those. Spontaneously write without a net. Maybe a crime story or a contemporary YA story will have to do.

Over the weekend I compromised my ego. The local vintage theatre was screening the greatest sequel of all time, The Road Warrior. Words can’t describe how important a film this is to me and my childhood. It’s a work of art. And a chance to see it on a 50 ft screen? When will I get another.

But for my wife’s birthday/mother’s day present I had given her tickets to see Kings of Leon that night at the PNC. I had bought the tickets back in February and the movie wasn’t announced until a few weeks ago. How was I to know the conflict. Of course I had to take my wife to the concert. You know how much these tickets cost me? Right side orchestra, row O?

Plus the context. My wife, a big fan of the group, won tickets to see them at the PNC 5 or 6 years ago. The week of the show they canceled and refunded due to health reasons. A band like this only does big venues, festivals. I’ve been stalking their homepage trying to find out when they would come back to Jersey. And they finally did.

My wife had a good time. She danced all night. I snapped some good pictures for her. She’s still shaking from the experience.

But still, I imagine myself in that seat in the theatre, looking up at that huge screen, in a not so distant future where one struggles for gasoline.

Oh, the car crashes.

Sorry.  No talking bugs or anuses.

Just about done with 3rd part of Kharma part 12 revisions. Nothing much to say. I must sound like a broken record. Writing about writing is not very exciting. Not like the movie Naked Lunch. Sorry.  No talking bugs or anuses. No spies. No Interpol. No drug taking. My life is boring. The words in the story are exciting. To me anyway. Maybe to you. I’ll have to wait and see.

Been stalling on my Italian lessons over at Duolingo. I think it’s from all the revisions I’ve been doing lately. They wear me out and take so long and then I have other stuff and I just can’t force myself to do it. I think when I get back into witing 4 pages a day of a draft I’ll get back into the Italian lessons again. It was a good system. What I learned is still in my head…sort of. It pops up in my writing. I’ve meshed it in with names and such.

If all goes at planned I can start a new short in June, one that’s been burning in my head the last few weeks, and then a new Kharma, also burning, soon after that.

Been reading this collection of Tim Burton essays about his films. Some deep analytical stuff. Before this I’ve only read his own POV of his work. Interesting to get a subjective stance other than my own.

What I love about Burton’s work, what I connect with, is his exploration of duality. I’ve talked about this in previous posts. What we show people and what we hide. The perfect example of this is in Batman Returns, the uses of masks and what we hide; real freaks verses created freaks. So many people need to wear a mask to be who they are. While people like me (and you) act the way we do naturally without the mask and suffer for it, ending up dead and carried out by emperor penguins. :-p

What I’m taking from this collection (I’m only halfway through it) is how his films are broken down into 2 plot styles:

  1. Hero story. The hero who never changes ventures into a foreign world and changes others.
  2. The artists/storyteller, how they find the means to create and execute their voice.

There may be more one or two more. I can’t fit all his films into these two structures.

The essayists also bring up society, family, sexism, capitalism, and colonialism. Funny to recall all the people in my life who have put down Tim Burton’s films and yet these people have given them such critical thought.

But let’s break that criticism with more Stain Boy, episode 4

Even years from now they may mesh

More work on third chunk of Kharma part 12.

Ideas/threads to carry over into future stories pop up in my head as I edit along. I write them down in my little book for later. Bits for the next story or even the third or tenth story down.

Can’t stress enough to a new writers how important it is to carry a tiny note/sketch book. Things pop into you head at any time. For me it’s when my brain relaxes or is distracted, in meditative states. Listening to music, watching movies, reading, showering, or by water. Like David Lynch says, You gotta grab them. Write them down even if they’re not perfect. You never know what they can be later. Even years from now they may mesh with something else that could pop up later. 1+1=3

Went over final proof before publication on short story for Unwinnable Magazine. Yes, that was the short that I did many revisions on. “You Are Disturbing The Peaceful Mood I Am In” should be out in their May issue soon.

Oddly the editor wants me to send him an invoice for payment so he can remember to pay me. Which is fine and honest of him. Sometimes these editors forget to pay. Sometimes they never pay. So I will do that.

I discovered that Thomas the Tank Engine will release a new character with autism this summer which is cool. Then I thought, shit. Not for the character. For the fact that the vaccine people out there will put it down like they put down Sesame Street and their autistic character. How it’s bad to normalize, create acceptance and enlightment for autism, how parents shouldn’t be okay with their children being defective, and okay with doctors and the pharmaceutical companies making them that way.

Grrrr, poxy fuckers.

No. I’m not going to get into it.

Thomas is good. Thomas is good for autistic kids too with those big expressive faces. My son loved watching Thomas. God, the little bastard ran tracks through out the apartment and sped ten trains at a time. I had no place to walk with out tripping and stepping on them. We had all the DVDs and I had to watch that Alec Baldwin movie. I did like watching the episodes with George Carlin in them, though.

Still have the tracks and trains in storage. I should bring them out for my daughter to play with. She’s gonna be 4 this summer, she’s just about right for them.

Anyway, here is episode 3 of Stain Boy:

I only need to be burned once to learn a lesson

Started working on pages 40-80 of Kharma part 12 (for sake of not calling it ‘a short story that turned into novel’). Still going well. Decided to hold off on other short story revisions until next week so I can catch up on do other things. Friday I have a lot of family related stuff to do.

Uploaded a few books to Bundle Rabbit. I hear these bundle sites are good for exposure and a few bucks. Mights as well give it a try. It’s free. Can’t argue with free. So many expensive scams out there that make promises to bring in readers, exposure. I just don’t have the money and I only need to be burned once to learn a lesson.

Now I find readers spending almost no cash. I thank you for finding me. I assume you found me by accidently reading my work for free and somehow connecting with it. We all win, right?

Heard back from one of the short story rewrites. The market request one more revision with a tight deadline. Said I could swing it. So that will put other projects on hold for a day or two.

And I received a nice rejection from another market. It was a flash fiction market that liked my story but felt it would work better as a short story. Maybe if they printed short stories too they would have requested a rewrite. Ohs wells.

My son received some good news in the mail today. Earlier in the year he applied for the Advancement Enrichment Program for two of the middle schools next year. He had to write an essay why he would be a benefit from/for the program and take a test. Only 400 out of 700 kids are accepted. He was one of them.

Of course I’m proud of him but I did prepare for the negative. I know my son is smart. Acceptance is not based on grades or intelligence. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. He could still go to regular public school and then test for the smart high school later. But now he can fast track into that smart high school and whip through the levels.

I never pushed him to do this. I explained how it works and sort of talked him out of it but I think that’s what he likes about it. He wants to do it. I don’t want my kids to do things they don’t want to do in life. I hope he does well. Lately he’s been bored in school. He could use the challenge.

Tonight I leave you with a little something from one of my favorite directors, Tim Burton.

to live and experience this fascist time

Finished 2nd short story revision and send it out to market. Hope it satisfies. If not that’s okay. Although I’m not in love with my short stories I think I did a good job and maybe someone else will buy it.

Also submitted to a second market today. It’s low pay plus copy but it’s in a slum genre I love so it gives me some street cred.

Completed 40 revised pages of Kharma novel revisions out of 151 pages. Will start the next 40 pages tomorrow. How this works for all novels is this:

After the first draft is complete I take a chunk like 40 pages a week and break it in half. I do 20 pages Monday and 20 Tues. Then on Wed I go back to the first 20 pages again Wed and again second 20 pages Thurs.

See. I just did two revisions in a week. And then I keep going with the next chunk. If I don’t get the novel right and readable after that then I might as well throw it out.

The son has teeth pain. Two culprits. After x-rays today found out that the top on we can do nothing about. The adult tooth is pushing the baby tooth out, which has a filling. He’ll have the bear it.

The bottom tooth has a broken filling and is also being pushed out by an adult tooth. He has too options. 1) Get a crown, which he had done before years ago and it broke off soon after. 2) Have the tooth pulled so the new tooth can grow out. This kid has gone through a lot in his teen years with his teeth but not much in the last few years. He’s a toughie.

Found this neat site today First 100 Day of Fascist Germany. The main page states:

During the highly contentious political climate in this country, the terms “fascism” and “Nazi Germany” have been tossed around quite freely by both sides of the political spectrum. As a response to this and in an effort to provide some clarity of what fascism in Nazi Germany actually looked like, we at the Emory University German Department initiated a research project that aims to document the first 100 days of National Socialism- from the day that Adolf Hitler was named Reichskanzler on January 30, 1933 until May 9, 1933.

Fascism has fascinated me since I was a child. I’ve been a punk all my life. I’ve fought against and questioned authority in all its forms. In a strange way I feel privileged to be alive in this Trump era, to live and experience this fascist time. Yes, it is horrible but I am proud to see so many people in the world rise against this administration, the politicians and the citizens. Wow, the citizens.

So yeah, I’ve been checking out the days and there are many similarities between Hitler’s crew and Trump’s crew. No surprises but still interesting in a historical context.

On an even sadder note, I saw that brilliant character actor Michael Parks died today. Don’t know what he died from. My guess is cancer. It has been eating all the brilliant ones. Of course Michael Parks sticks out from his work in Twin Peaks but also his recurring character Earl McGraw in Quentin Tarentino and Robert Rodriguez’s film’s From Dusk Til Dawn, Kill Bill, Planet Terror, and Death Proof; Kevin Smith’s frightening and bizarre films Red State and Tusk, and a slew of movies starting from 1965. The man was a true chameleon and at times I would see him on the screen and say to myself, “That guy looks so familiar,” and later learn that it was him. Rest in peace, brother.