Feb 29

Writing Maniacally

A friend asked me in e-mail the other day if I was “still writing like a maniac”. Shortly thereafter I received a rejection notice on one of my short stories that said it was “not weird enough” for them. Apparently I am not writing maniacally enough. Heh.

Writing like a maniac has always been one of my aspirations. Not just in terms of output, but also in terms of content. The style of dark and dirty fiction that I write demands a certain commitment on the part of the writer to convince the reader that he/she is in the domain of a maniac that means them no good. That is one of the most important factors in getting a reader to pay attention.

Progress is being made. Those guys better be careful what they wish for. Heh, again.

Feb 27

At The Not-So-Much-Fun Park

My mental roller-coaster has been running at high speed the past couple of weeks. It looks like I’m on about an 8-day cycle, which is pretty damned fast. I hope it’s going to slow down some real soon. This sucks.

Speaking of Bipolar II Disorder and sucking, I have been holding off on a rant for a couple of weeks now, but I just can’t hold it in any longer. So here goes.

I sometimes watch reruns of CSI in the evenings (one of my secret, shameful vices). I don’t expect complete accuracy, of course, but an occasional nod in the general direction of the truth would be nice. The episode that really lit my fire came on about 2 weeks ago. The baddie in this episode did some pretty horrible things, as usual, and right at the end, Grissom found a bottle of lithium at the scene of the baddie’s demise. With a look of dawning comprehension, hs says “She was bipolar.”

Tonstant Watcher thwowed up (with apologies to Dorothy Parker).

“Bipolar” does not equal “psychotic” or “psychopathic” or even “crazy”. It simply means that a person has trouble (sometimes severe trouble) with mood swings. The fact that this character was taking lithium implies 2 things. First, she was in treatment, and, second, she was taking medication. That combination tells me that her condition was at least nominally under control. Even if it was not, the chances that she would commit horrible crimes simply because of her bipolar disorder are statiscally irrelevant.

You know what really burns my butt? A flame about 3 feet high. One of the best movie lines ever written. You get the Booby Prize if you can guess who said it and in what movie.

Feb 18

Dodging Tornadoes

This time of year is always exciting down here in the South. We spent yesterday watching on the weather radar as a supercell storm raced up from the Gulf of Mexico, through southeastern Alabama and western Georgia and set its sights squarely on us. Oh, by the way, it was spawning tornadoes everywhere it passed.

It missed our house by about 10 miles then finally broke up into severe thunderstorms.

I don’t think I ever told the story of March 1, 2007, when I was chased by tornadoes all the way home from work. I’m still rattled by bad weather. Sitting in the crosshairs while a tornado-breathing monster bears down on me is not my idea of fun.

I’m glad we made it through, and my heart goes out to those who were not so lucky.

Feb 15

WOO-HOO!

Please pardon my obvious glee.

“A Time to Every Purpose” was accepted for publication in A Fly in Amber. It will appear in March.

This story is a tribute to the value of persistence. It has been through many changes over the years since I first outlined it, and I believe it is a very good story. I’m proud of it. This was its seventh submission.

The moral of this story is to keep writing, keep polishing, and keep submitting.

Feb 13

The Die is Cast

And the winner is:

Cut 3000 words off the front of the story and drop right into the middle of the action. Now all I have to do is figure out how to trickle in the backstory. I’m hoping that will be a matter of determining what is necessary to understand the action that is happening.

Maybe it’s easier than I’ve been making it? I sure hope so.

Feb 10

First Signs of Spring

I saw a robin today. I guess the groundhog was wrong. I also saw the first real signs of spring yesterday morning. My Sugar Snap peas are sprouting.

Seeing the first signs of green in the garden is quite rewarding. It’s a sign that my cooperative effort with Nature is paying off. Something good has sprung from my hard work and Nature’s generosity.

I use gardening as something very like a Zen practice. I use hand tools only, no machines. I use homemade compost, and occasionally some organic store-bought. I plant each seed by hand (it’s a small garden). Seeing the plants grow and produce food for my table is a very generous pay-off.

During the depths of winter, I often wonder if gardening is worth the time and trouble. Then a day in February come along that rewards my heart and mind in a way that few other things can.

I am near a decision on Washed in the Blood. I can’t let this hang me up forever. Progress must be made.

Feb 08

Starting Over

The problem is, my opening sucks. It doesn’t just suck, it Hoovers, it Eurekas, it makes the 8-pound Oreck XL look like an eyedropper. I’m talking about Washed in the Blood, of course, the cureent albatross hanging around my neck and stinking up the place.

I think I need to show some of the family dynamics going on between John, Maggie, Deborah, and Alyssa before all Hell breaks loose. I also need to get Thomas into the picture and give him a reason to be there. There are several other things going on that kind of have an impact on the story as a whole.

The problem is that nothing really happens in the opening scene. I get all of the above into it, but it’s really just a tea party with a strong undercurrent of tension and impending danger. Not a good selling point.

I have a couple of options. The two leading contenders at this point are:

1.) Open in the middle of the aforemention Hell breaking loose. This would then require an almost chapter-long flashback to get the aforementioned family dynamics explained, etc. I hate flashbacks. Hate, Hate, HATE!!!

2.) Create a red-shirt and feed him to the monster. If I can do this one right, I might be able to show Thomas as a monster right off the bat (so to speak, heh). Then would follw the tea party, shortly followed by Hell breaking loose. I still don’t like this option. It seems pretty bogus, especially since I already have a couple of red-shirts along the way.

At this point, I’m pretty well stuck. I can’t say I’ll fix it on the rewrite, becuase this IS the rewrite.

My brain hurts. I guess I’ll bang my head on the keyboard for a little while like the little guy on tamboblog.

Feb 08

Sick Sick Sick

I’ve been sparring with the Creeping Crud for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday it hit me with a couple of shots to the belly and a vicious left hook. I went down. Saved by the bell.

Today, I’m in full Rope-a-dope mode. If I can just make through this round, I’ll win on points.

Meanwhile, Washed in the Blood stands in a neutral corner watching impassively. More on those problems later today or tomorrow.

I hate being sick. I hate it with a passion that passes logical understanding. Weakness! Look out, the monsters are watching. They’ll cull you out of herd if you show any signs of weakness.

Back against the ropes. Gloves over my face. arms tight against my body. Just stay on your feet. Just stay on your feet…

Feb 01

You Win 2, You Lose 1

Win Number 1:

Rain! Finally, a significant rain. Around 1 inch over the past 24 hours. That still leaves us about 6 inches short for the past year, but it’s a great help. I might be able to have a garden after all.

Win Number 2:

My short story “Rounding the Cape” is now online in the current issue at The Harrow.

And I lose one:

Got my first rejection of 2008 this week. Though I understand the reason why magazines have to use form rejections, I still loathe them. Oh well, time to get over it and get the story back out into the world.