Jun 30

Questions for Mik and Heather

I’m cheating, too, and asking you both the same questions.

Here are the rules: If you feel like playing, leave me a comment asking to be interviewed!

1. Leave me a comment saying, ?Interview me.?

2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

1.) What is your motivation as a writer? What drives you forward and carries you over the rough spots?

2.) What other arts besides writing (music, paintings, sculptures, etc.) do you draw inspiration from in your writing?

3.) What would you like your epitaph to say?

4.) What one genre would you like to write in that you haven’t tried yet?

5.) What scares you most about writing?

Have fun!

Jun 29

Questions From Mik

Here are the rules: If you feel like playing, leave me a comment asking to be interviewed!

1. Leave me a comment saying, ?Interview me.?

2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

1. When you get a critique on your work and you don?t like what the reviewer has to say, how do you handle it?

My knee-jerk reaction is to fire up the flame-thrower, because this dumbass obviously does not have the sense to successfully pick his/her own nose and doesn’t deserve to live. Plus, they have attacked my baby, and I just can’t abide that.

Over the years, I have learned to let this reaction pass by. I always think seriously about what reviewers/critiquers have to say. If it is an obvious argument ad hominem, I ignore it. If it is obvious the reader missed the point, I have to consider why. It could be the story is just too subtle. Other than that, I consider what they have to say in the context of the story itself. I take what I find useful and leave the rest. Ultimately, I have to take responsibility for my own work and make my own decisions based on what I know or think I know. I always appreciate input, positive or negative. It all allows me to improve my writing skills.

2. What is your biggest creative challenge?

Trusting myself. I am so paranoid about my ability that I often paralyze myself for fear that I will look like an idiot in front of other people. I don’t trust my ideas, my plotting skills, my character development, or anything. On those occasions when I can just relax and let the words flow, I am a very good writer. Those occasions are far too few, but I am trying to take a more confident approach and learning to just stay out of my own way.

3. When you get fired up about a new project, how long does it take you to complete it from start to finish?

Anywhere from one day to never. I have knocked out a good 1500 word article in three hours. A decent short story will take usually 4-5 hours writing time spread over 2-3 writing sessions on different days, maybe a week total. On the other hand, I have way too many unfinished stories, essays, and articles lying around in various states of disrepair. Finishing is hard for me. See Question 2, above, for reasons. It’s a real problem that I recognize and am trying to resolve.

4. How many novels have you completed, which is your favorite, and why? (HA, I copied Jen on that one?)

You mean read or written? Hee hee. I have yet to complete writing a novel. I have a couple of skeletons of novels that I will one day bury in the back yard. I am still very enthusiastic about Washed in the Blood, my current WIP, and I will finish it. I will. Right now, I’m still recovering from an overdose of writing advice, but I’m getting back to the point that I can suppress the Internal Critic/Editor/Abuser and just write the damn thing. Once I get the first draft finished, I can start worrying about “fixing” things.

5. What is the one writing tool you absolutely cannot live without?

Microsoft Word’s Spell Checker. LOL. Actually, I would have to abstract that idea and say “word processing software”. Until the advent of decent word processors, I was a truly lousy writer. My notebooks filled up with cross-outs and misspellings. My attempts at using a typewriter were disastrous. Error-free pages were precious, indeed, and jammed keys a constant distraction. The computer allows me to focus on the thoughts and phrasings. I let it worry about spelling, grammar, formatting, carriage returns, etc.

Do you dare? Do you dare me to ask you 5 questions? Leave me a comment if you would like to play.

Thanks, Mik! Anything that forces me to look inside and think about what makes me run is valuable indeed. This exercise was quite beneficial.

Jun 28

In Other News

Finished “Worse Than Death” first draft. Then I went back and cut out a lot of the middle and whacked about 500 words off the end. It’s now around 2700 words. I think that made it a hell of a lot better story. I’ll pick it up again in a couple of days and see if it makes any sense then.

Ordered gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson this afternoon. If it’s even half as much fun as her blog, it’ll be a great read. I’ll report back when I’m done.

My Web site is the current “Sticky Site of the Moment” at InternetBumperStickers.com. Woo-hoo! They’re the ones who supplied the snazzy quotes at the bottom of the page. Lots of interesting thoughts there.

I’m taking the rest of the week off from work. 6-day weekend! Yow! Registration is Tuesday, and classes start Wednesday. Back to the night shift. I hope to get some serious writing done over the next 3 days while I have the house to myself.

Jun 28

Principles

OK, I’ve had enough. It’s time to fight back. I am forming the Fuck Censorship Webring which is dedicated to opposing censorship whenever and wherever it is found. I have composed these Statements of Principle to guide us:

  • Freedom of speech and its concomitant, Freedom of Thought, are essential human rights. All humans have the rights to think for themselves, form their own opinions, and express their opinions in ways that do not cause harm to other humans.
  • Attempts to curtail these freedoms for any reason are wrong and we will oppose them whenever and wherever they are found.
  • Tolerance of differing opinions, even those we find personally offensive, is fundamental to the exercise of Freedom of Speech for all. We defend the rights of all humans to hold and express opinions that differ from ours. We agree that we can disagree in a mature, civilized, adult manner, without anger or hatred.
  • We, the members of the Fuck Censorship Webring hold these Statements of Principle to be true representations of our beliefs. Our membership in the Fuck Censorship Webring shows our determination to oppose censorship through our words and actions at all times.


Heather was kind enough to make us a logo.

Please bear with me for a couple of days while I get the code sorted out. I’ll let you know when everything is ready.

Will I catch hell for doing this? I fully expect to. Will it one day come back around and bite on the ass? I fully expect that, too. Will that stop me? No.

As I have said before, and will again, some principles are worth the sacrifice, some principles, I absolutely will not betray. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Thought are the foundations of liberty. The Founding Fathers of the United States thought so highly of free speech that they made it the very first item on the Bill of Rights. I cannot and will not sit back and moan and groan and let my freedoms be slowly leached away in the names of “security” and “morality”. Fuck off! I am an adult. I am wholely and solely responsible for what I say, think, and do. As long as I’m not infringing on your rights, you can just butt out of my business.

I don’t think I am by myself on this, but I am concerned about how many people really have the courage to stand up and be counted. I know my blog buddies do, but how many others? Whatever. Even if I were absolutely alone, I would still speak my mind. I can compromise many things, but not my integrity. When I die, I want to have a clear conscience. I want to know that I did the best I could and did not sell myself out.

 

Jun 27

Happy Monday

Full Contact Commuting

Emerald, topaz, ruby,
Gems that inspire stupidity,
Driving witless beasts to destruction.

Three-eyed Cyclops
Rules the road.
Challengers roar.

Emerald glares, cold,
Jealous of power,
Blaring, impatient.

Topaz warns of
Consequences unheeded.
Flee! Your doom approaches!

Ruby, the flame of passion,
Ignites fury, unbridled,
Wild, raging, daring all to try.

Green, yellow, red.
Simple colors, a simple code.
Innocents die.

Jun 24

Addendum

Demeted Michelle – I was very rude to not address your comment specifically. I apologize. As I indicated, I am pursuing this story. I hope to have the first draft finished this weekend and get the final draft submitted before the Fourth. It is very rough, still, but I’m hurrying to get my thoughts down while they are still there. I’ll polish later.

In the News – Secretary of Defense Donald Runsfeld said yesterday that U.S. public support for the war in Iraq will rebound with the right kind of leadership. Um, Sir? What does that say about the quality of your leadership so far? Politicians are a never-ending source of amusement for people who actually listen to what they are saying.

Jun 24

Brain Dump

Just some miscellaneous jetsam.

My deepest secrets revealed

Thanks to Mik for the link.

Your Sagittarius Drinking Style
In vino veritas — and, for you, in booze blurtiness.
When battered, you’ll spill all your friends’ secrets and many of your own.
Tactlessness aside, you are just plain fun to drink with.You are under the sign of serious partying (what else would you expect from the sign of Sinatra, Keith Richards, the Bush twins and Anna Nicole Smith)?
You’re the person who chat up everyone in the room, then persuades the entire crowd to travel somewhere else — like a nightclub, or a playground, or Cancun.
Good-natured hijinks are sure to ensue (including a high possibility of loopy groping; a spontaneous Sag like you is a brilliant booty call).
Your Signature Cocktails
A travel-loving sign, Sagittarius might be intrigued by drinks like Moscow mules, Singapore slings — perhaps even a Long Island iced tea (not a bad option, given how much you can put away and still stay vertical). Party monster that you are, you’re attracted to shots, like the ever-popular lemon drop. You rules pears, and you could use a nice pear cider right about now, come to think of it.
Your Celebrity Drinking Buddies
Britney Spears, The Bush twins, Margaret Cho, Lucy Liu, Brad Pitt, Anna Nicole Smith, Jay-Z, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

This might explain the time I woke up two days later under the kitchen table without my glasses and wearing somebody else’s clothes. I still wonder about that …

Ree-jected!

The Chattahoochee Review rejected “Carrion Comfort” with an anonymous pre-printed note. In my endless quest to micro-analyze these things, I have concluded that the fact that it took them 4 months to reject it is a good sign. Now considering options for the next market that will have an opportunity to benefit from my boundless wisdom and eternal golden prose.

Zombie-fied

The story now has the working title “Worse Than Death”. Progress continues apace. Approaching 3k words now and nearly at the climax. The ending came to me while I was in the tub this morning. It’s a real sockdollager!

Doggie doings

Things are often interesting when you have pets hanging around. Lily has acquired the nickname Lily-Goat for her apparently insatiable craving for ripping up paper. We constantly find minefields of multi-colored confetti on the floor. Mollie, our half-Boxer, half Pit Bull, has decided that 3 am is the perfect time to show us how much she loves us. A 50-pound dog with the Tongue That Licked Your Daddy and a talent for Full-Body Wiggling does not make a good bedmate in the middle of the night. Gotta love her, though. She really is a sweetheart. Lottie the CatDog (she thinks she’s a dog and can’t understand why the others can’ climb trees) is a Wild Jungle Jag-u-lar and lurks in random trees awaiting the chance to pounce.

How corny!

Picked two ears of corn, shucked them, and dropped them in the pot last night. After the first bite, my tongue almost knocked my teeth out trying to get another. Also cooked up some snap beans and grilled some squash to go with it. Good living does not have to be expensive.

Maybe I’ll be back later with some actual thoughts, but don’t count on it. The weekend awaits!

Jun 22

Meltdown

The eternal darkness of an unfettered mind. The zombie story I started yesterday has settled into the deepest recesses of my mind. Sometime during the past 24 hours, the control rods failed and now I have a full-scale China Syndrome “event” underway in there. Here is a brief summation of some of what has floated to the top of the slag heap today.

After the zombies complete their takeover and have killed and/or consumed all living humans, what next? Dogs, horses, cats? All warm-blooded creatures? Would it stop there? What about fish, reptiles, cold-blooded creatures? What about bugs? Bacteria? Viruses? Amoebae? Where does it stop? Plants, too? What about slime molds and other planimals? If there is a cut-off point, then what happens to the Earth’s ecology? My brain hurts. There’s probably a novel in here somewhere. This one goes into the “For Further Review” file for later.

What about vampires? If a vampire is killed while the zombie conversion is going on, does it rise as a zombie? Vambie? Zompire? This is just too weird a concept. I’m going to have to go deeper into it.

How about werewolves? A werewolf is killed and its human remains interred. It rises as a zombie. On the night of the next full moon…

Plant zombies. I’m definitely sick. Zombie kudzu. AAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGHHHHH!!!! Zombie daffodils?

A mind is a terrible thing. Just say no.

This illustrates why writers should try new things, stretch themselves, explore lands unknown to them. I’ve never written or even attempted a zombie story before. The cross-pollination is astounding me. The stew is really bubbling now. What have you tried lately that’s new and exciting? In writing, I mean–get your mind out of the gutter.

Jun 21

A Brief Clip From the Sludge

Usual warnings apply: bad language, some real gross-out stuff, etc. Beware. I see dead people.

I was reading the latest SpecFicMe! market listings last night and saw a listing for the Aim for the Head anthology for zombie stories. That kind of got together with my “necrodancer” idea from a couple of weeks ago and kind of boiled over. Anybody got any paper towels strong enough to clean up a mess that big?

Enjoy. Or not.

——-

Untitled as yet

Damn!

Jake bent over and picked his right hand up off the floor. He swiped it across his shirt, trying to knock the dirt off the ragged ends of white bone protruding from the wrist joint.

Sorry-ass rig-up job. Need to get Doc to put in some pins to hold this thing on. Give me a hand here, Wilbur?

Looks to me like you already got one, Jake. Wilbur wheezed an attempt at a horse-laugh. His lungs and vocal cords had been pretty much eaten up by the cancer that killed him.

Smartass. Can you just hook this son-of-a-bitch back on for me? We got any duct tape around here? These wires just ain t holding it.

Wilbur shuffled over and worked on twisting the wires tight. Jake was glad his nose had rotted off. Wilbur looked like he would smell pretty bad. The cancer had worked him over pretty good, then he d lain in his bed rotting for nearly two full days in the summer heat before he d been revived. His skin had blue and green patches where it was not hanging in shreds, and he was still bloated. Jake didn t understand exactly how that worked, but they stayed just like they were when they came back. Wilbur s gas problem would never get any better or worse. Neither would Jake s rotted arms and legs.

You want to go out after work? Wilbur s gasped question jolted Jake back to the present. He flexed his wrist. The bones scraped a little, but he had nearly full range of motion.

Thanks. Yeah, we haven t been to the Body Shop in a while. Wanta look in and see if Summer s still working there?

Sure. Haven t seen her in a while. Wonder if she s still in one piece.

They laughed and turned back to their work, Wilbur turning back to the grinding wheel, and Jake picking up the air wrench he had dropped and getting back to work tightening lug nuts.

#

As soon as he stepped through the door, Jake was assaulted by the noise. The music pounded into him like a middle linebacker with delusions of being Butkus reborn. He stopped dead in his tracks, letting his ears adjust to the roar and his eyes to the gloom. For a moment, all he could see was the brightly-lit stage and the naked woman grinding and pole-spinning. She was a sight to see, perfectly formed and perfectly preserved. Even her face was still as beautiful as the day she died. The only clothing she wore was a bright scarf around her neck, hiding the mortal slash across her neck. Jake grinned. He was always glad to see Summer. He sure was glad her killer had kept her in a freezer.

When he could see his way, he found an empty table close to the stage. Wilbur shuffled close behind and they sat. They waved when Summer turned toward them, and she grinned and winked. Jake looked around at the sparse crowd. The bar was dark and empty, zombies don t drink, as was the back stage. A few girls sat at tables with the customers. None of them were anywhere near as whole as Summer. She was the star attraction here.

Slow day, he shouted in Wilbur s direction.

Good. More for us. The two men grinned and turned their attention back to the stage.

Summer was just finishing her second song. After one more, her set would be through. Jake pulled a dollar from his pocket and strolled up to the stage. Summer came across and leaned over from the waist dangling her tits close to his face while she swayed to the music. He was mesmerized. After a few seconds, he was able to pull his attention away and slid the bill under her garter.

Thanks, sweetie, she said. Her voice was somewhat sibilant due to the unfortunate leakage under her scarf.

Come see us when you get through, okay?

You got it, Jake. See you. She turned to another fascinated onlooker at the other side of the runway and began to give him his money s worth. Jake watched for a moment, wishing he still had some physical response., then walked back to the table.

You what I don t get? he asked Wilbur. Why do we still have human wantws and feelings when we can t do anything about them anymore? It s not fair.

Yeah, I know what you mean. I mean, why do we still have this hunger for live flesh when everything in the world is dead? Can t see no point to it.

You know what? Jake turned to Wilbur and looked at what was left of his face. A line of drool dribbled down his friend s chin. If we d ve had any sense at all, we would ve set up some farms or something. I mean, it don t take much to satisfy me, just a couple of ribs or a hunk of ham every now and then. That wouldn t ve been hard.

Yeah. Wilbur wiped his chin with his shirt sleeve as he spoke. Hey, you remember that girl we found back about three years ago? The one living in the meat locker at the Kroger?

Oh, man! That was the juiciest piece of ass I ever had. Man, she was ripe!

I m telling you! I got part of her arm. Didn t even have to pull, just bit right through it.

Yeah. Jake s mouth was leaking now with the memory. He wiped and continued. Tender as milk-fed veal. But that got me thinking. You know I have this hole where that bastard got me with his 12-gauge. Took out most of my stomach and perforated my guts real good.

Uh-huh. Wilbur still had a far-away look, remembering.

Well, I was on my knees, bent over gnawing on her ass, but every time I d swallow, it s just slide down and fall out. When I got through there was a pile had to be a foot high of chewed-up chunks. None of it stayed in, but I was still full. It was weird.

I know, man, this whole business s just damn strange. I mean, what happened? Where d all this shit come from? Wilbur waved his hand around at the rotted remains of humanity inhabiting the strip club. I mean, I know this ain t the best example of people in here, but everybody s like this! What is this?

Jake shook his head. I been worrying that over ever since I came back. Can t figure it out at all. One of these days, I m gonna go over to the college and ask one of them biology professors if they have a clue.

A hand slid over his shoulder and down his chest. A cold cheek pressed again his cheekbone. Hey guys, what s up? Summer s soft hiss would have been a purr is she had had an undamaged larynx.

Just talking about what s been going on the last five years. Wondering, you know? Jake reached up and stroked his one whole finger down the back of her hand, marveling at the feel of supple flesh. He felt a pang of hunger, but it was easy to suppress, since he well knew her flesh would only make him sick. He d been there. Wasn t going back.

Giving me the bird, Jake? She giggled.

He laughed. Eat me, baby. She giggled again. It was an old joke. It turned out his only whole finger on his left hand was his bird finger. Handy sometimes.

The stripper sat between them and leaned over and gave Wilbur a peck on his fuzzy green cheek. Hey, handsome. Ready for a romp?

Wilbur grinned. Damn! Wish I could, baby, but, you know, the old equipment don t work so well no more.

Next time, then? Maybe somebody ll make a pill or something, huh? Too bad Viagra won t work on us. She sighed. Damn this! Can t even fuck anymore!

Jake wished he knew her real name. It didn t matter, but it bothered him just the same. One day he would make a real effort to find out. He leaned back, wishing yet again for a cold beer.

Jun 20

So Just Who Do I Think I Am?, Revisited

OK. Got a little extra time today, so I’ll take another shot at this.

Should aspiring authors write articles about writing? What could they have to offer anybody else?

Yes, and lots.

While professional writers certainly have experience and skill to share that can be of great benefit to all writers, even amateurs can contribute to other writers’ education. We all know, and keep reminding ourselves daily, that every writer is unique, with a style, voice, vision, and way of thinking different from every other writer in the world, past and present.

The act of writing is a giant puzzle. Think about those wooden 3-dimensional puzzles and imagine one that takes a lifetime to put together. That’s what writing is. Each of us has our own perspective on the puzzle. We each can see how certain pieces fit, but not others. Frequently, all it takes for us to solve one tiny piece of the puzzle, a story, novel, or article, is for the right person to speak up and say “This is what it looks like from where I stand”. Suddenly our piece clicks into place.

While professional writers can see more of the puzzle than I can, they are not gods.

CRACK! BOOOOOOM!

Ok, Ok! Ray Bradbury is a god! I bow before his divinity and acknowledge that he is, in fact, the best that ever was. Satisfied? A red chicken in the dark of the moon? Ok, I can handle that. May I please be allowed to continue, now? Thank you.

Whew! Where was I? Oh, yeah, writers are not…well, you get the picture.

Even rank amateurs have a valid perspective on the writing. Some of them may be deluded to a greater or lesser degree, but each has something to offer, however small. I always come away from reading articles in Vision or any other writing magazine with something I either didn’t know or had not thought of before.

So, yes, any writer can write a useful article about the art or craft of putting words together into a meaningful mosaic showing the world and our place in it.

In addition, writing about writing has some really terrific benefits. Every time I have an idea for an article, it’s something that I want to know more about. Writing about it gives me the chance to research and explore, to try something new and different, to stretch and grow. Continuing education is vital for a writer. If you’re not learning, you’re either stagnating or decaying. I don’t know about you, but that does not interest me at all.

Another benefit is writing practice. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. Any skill must be practiced, or it corrodes. Flexing those writing muscles keeps them in tone, and even adds to their strength and endurance. Writing practice is essential. Even if you are not working on your blockbuster novel, write something, anything. There are no wasted words, as long as you pay attention and keep improving your skill.

Ok, enough for today. I have to find a red chicken, somewhere. Ray is not a patient man…god. *cringe in anticipation of another lightning bolt*