Saturday, January 29, 2011

For New Followers

He's not just looking over my shoulder, he's looking straight into your soul.
Welcome!

I don't know how many come here to find out what I do or who I am before they click on that 'follow' button on Twitter, but there have been quite a few new friends over there recently.

If you're clicking here to see if I'm a real person, thanks for coming over. My name's Jason and I've written one book for Agent of D.A.N.G.E.R. called Evolver. I'm a Newbie writer who's gotten lucky after more than ten years of working at it. I'm currently working on another book for AoD as well as my own novel and a bunch of short stories that I'm preparing to start shopping around.

If you're curious about what I've written but don't want to buy the ebook, there are thirteen short stories that are interconnected you can read for free here. Click here to start.

I have a day job, a family, cats and lots of interests. I blog about some of them here and will share stories here off and on, too.

Thanks for coming by. Hope you like some of what I do.

LOI

At the risk of emulating Warren Ellis TOO closely, I need to start putting up some Links of Interest that will remind me later on of things that inspire or inform me. Yes, it's just a link dump, sorry.  Check 'em out, though.

UFO-like clouds linked to Military Maneuvers
Though remote, the observatory-and-antenna facility in Gakona, Alaska, is anything but secret. Even so, its use of radio waves to "excite" areas of Earth's ionosphere has helped convince some that HAARP can control weather—and perhaps even create triple hole-punch clouds.

5 Myths of Challenger Shuttle Disaster Debunked
For example, one commonly repeated myth is that Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
"The shuttle itself did not explode," said Valerie Neal, space shuttle curator at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. "I think the origin of that myth is that it looked like an explosion, and the media called it an explosion." 

 Bob Edwards Show: Simply the Most Beautiful
Annie Griffiths has the job we all want: She’s a photographer for National Geographic and her assignments have taken her to nearly every inch of the globe. Griffiths served as editor for a stunning, new coffee table book titled  Simply Beautiful Photographs.
Mark Evanier's advice to writers
A writer finishes things...even things that never get sold. Every professional writer has things they've written that never sold or reached the public. In fact, we all have things we've written that upon reflection, we're very glad didn't reach the public.

And finally, in a bit of blatant whorebaggery self-promotion, here's a link to the article that appeared on ComicBookResources.com yesterday about the guys who asked me to write Evolver.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Discourse on the Method

In conversation with a friend the other day, I said I really wanted to be a writer.

"You are," my friend says.

"Yeah," I said, "but I don't think of myself like that yet."

"Why not?"

"I don't know."

My friend said, "You write stories that people you don't know have read and you've got a book for sale. You're a writer."

"Maybe I'll feel like that when someone refers to me as a writer."

In my head, I'm a writer. I know it for the reasons my friend outlined above. I'm in my third year of seriously learning my craft and hopefully getting better. I'm comfortable with where I'm at on the learning curve, but in my heart I don't feel like a writer yet.

That's not a bad thing, it's just honest. I have a day job that I love and that I'm very good at and that's primarily how I think of myself, how I define myself as a person in the world.

When someone refers to me as my son's dad, I'm proud. When my (step)daughter introduced me to her serious boyfriend as her father, I beamed. When I'm my wife's husband, I can't tell you how great that feels. These are other people's definitions of me and they give me a sense of place in the world. I'm a father. I'm a husband. I'm a manager. I'm all these things.

Deeper down in my heart I'm an artist. All my life I've drawn or made music or done something to put some kind of art into the world. I've applied my artistic tendencies to how I do my day job and that's been somewhat satisfying, but not enough. I've had to have something creative just to keep myself sane while doing what's right and honorable by keeping a roof over my head and food on the table. I just can't let the day job take over and be enough.


I have another friend who recently referred to me as 'the best writer I know' to some other folks and wow, that's quite a compliment. The opinion matters a great deal to me and I'm grateful my friends think of me that way. Maybe something's wrong with me that I don't think of myself as a writer in the face of all this. Maybe it's that I haven't written anything that feels like it's one of my children or a significant other.

I don't know.

Here in my third year of seriously trying to be a writer, I can use this as inspiration and motivation to keep writing. I've earned some gray hairs from my children and my day job. I have a ring on my left hand that reminds me how precious love is. These are physical things but not necessary. They're only totems.

I suppose I don't feel like I've earned the right to feel like a writer.

To paraphrase Descartes, "I write, therefore I am a writer". Logically that works, but my heart isn't always about logic.  (And before you think this is all about me being self-serving, I'm not begging for anyone to call me a writer. I want to earn it. Really earn it.)

Do you think of yourself as a writer? Do you see a difference between being an author and a writer? What makes you a writer? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Space(s)

When I took typing class in 8th and 9th grade, I was taught to put two spaces behind the end of the sentence after a full stop. I've had several conversations over the last six or seven years where people have vehemently told me I'm wrong to do that, especially when writing on the internet (i.e., blogging). I hadn't been willing to be convinced that the old-fashioned way wasn't appropriate for the new age of communication via the electrophonic tool called the internet.

There was an article I was pointed to yesterday where the author stridently told us that two spaces was WRONG and if you were doing that you were WRONG and probably not the brightest bulb in the box.* I had read an article in the last six months (forgive me I don't remember from where) that explained that when writing on the internet one space after a period was not only acceptable, but preferable for readability. The argument was that two spaces created a visual issue that confused the reader and made your entry harder to read.

As I worked through that article, it made sense. Knowing that two spaces were more for typesetters who were printing your words on paper than anyone else, it also made sense to drop the extra space and I've been doing that as I've been writing over the last few months. It was hit and miss early on and I was wildly inconsistent but I've got the hang of it now. I think.

Of course this gets me thinking about readability on the internet versus paper. On paper, that is in books and newspapers, we indent each paragraph while on the web we put a blank line between paragraphs. Is there going to be a movement to go away from indenting on paper?

My blogger software here doesn't give me the option to set my blog up with having more than single-line spacing, so each blank line has to be an old-fashioned carriage return (or 'enter' since I'm using a computer and not a typewriter). I wonder if those who are so intensely advocating only one space after a period/full stop are going to take on line-spacing next? If one space between sentences creates a reading issue, wouldn't having a minimum of one and a half line-spaces be better? I know when I'm reading on paper that text that's all crammed up into a longish paragraph is hard to read, so wouldn't more space be better?

Why is it that two spaces after the end of a sentence are visually unpleasant on the internet? Why is it that indenting paragraphs on the internet is visually unpleasant but on paper isn't? I know there's an argument about variable versus fixed-width fonts when speaking about spacing between sentences, but I think it may be more than that. On paper, fixed-width fonts and double-spaced lines are the easiest to read. Why don't we do that automatically for reading on a screen?

So which do you prefer to read on - a screen or paper? Do you want formatting on one platform to emulate the other? When you have a choice between them, do you read certain kinds of things only on paper or only on a screen?**








* I've been really surprised at how passionate some people have been about the whole issue, too. On both sides there are captial-D Defenders of their position. Be careful when engaging in those conversations, okay?


** Obviously blogs are only read on a screen of some kind. Would you read this blog on paper if that was an option and would you expect it to be formatted differently?