Friday, March 30, 2012

Casting Color

Photo from
 Zachary Jernigan's blog
This might get tricky. Bear with me.

I read an article today about some hooraw over the race of some of the characters in The Hunger Games film. There was some hooraw last year over the casting of Idris Elba as Heimdall in the film version of Thor.

Now I grew up with Thor comic books and pretty much everyone in them was white. This made a kind of sense to me as they were Nordic gods and I hadn't encountered anyone of color from that region in any of my experiences or  the media I watched. I liked Thor as a film because I like the character and I think Kenneth Branagh is an excellent director. Like any adaptation, there are issues of story and execution of that story and the characters maybe not being true to the source material.

(My friend Larry didn't care for Thor because of all the shouting and as he puts it: "There's one black guy in Asgard and he's the doorman?")

I didn't have any problem with the casting of Elba as Heimdall, it didn't bother me at all. But apparently there are quite a few folks out in the world that are Hunger Games fans and they're upset about some characters not being white. (You can search for the article yourselves or find another one, I'm sure. I don't want to link to it here.) These folks are racist and some of them are pretty proud of it, I guess.

So here's my question: as a reader, do you impose an ethnicity onto a character who isn't given one? I mean if there's a cue in a name that sounds Chinese or Korean or African, do you automatically assume that the character is not caucasian? Similarly, a male character named Joe from the inner city might be of any ethnic background, mightn't he? Which do you assume he is if the author doesn't tell you?

I avoid distinguishing a lot of my characters as one race or another, unless they are aliens. I want my readers to have an 'in' to the story by being able to see themselves in there if they choose to do that. But if, honestly this is an enormous if, any of my stories were adapted to a visual medium I would not care who was cast in any particular role. I don't speak for a race or ethnicity or anything else except myself when I'm writing. I just don't think about it.

I know it's important to some people and for various reasons. It's not up to me, though, to represent anyone except me. Could I write a great character who is black? Maybe I have. I can write strong female characters because my life is filled with them. Are any of my ladies in my stories Chinese? They might be, I never say. Do I know? Yeah, I do, but I don't think you need to. It's not important to the story which race they are. You can impose your own visualizations on my characters. Be aware that they're yours, though, and not necessarily mine.

It's 2012 and we are supposed to be past racism by now and we're not. This disappoints me greatly.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Some Light Reading

Photo by umjanedoan
This week over at The Confabulator Cafe, my fellow storytellers have written some flash fiction pieces based on photos from Flickr and instructions from the editorial team based around letters from our names. My piece doesn't come up until tomorrow, but everything that's up is a good read and right around a thousand words or so.

This assignment was enormously fun for me and shook me out of the funk I was in about writing. Since I've completed my task for the Confabulators, I've found my muse again and finished a draft of a story that I'm editing now, starting today. I've been throwing ideas back into The Cold Distance and I'm almost ready to dive into editing that again.

All this to say that having a group of close friends who push you to do things you don't want to do is what makes you better. Between the Confabulators and spending last weekend at the largest Planet Comicon I've ever experienced, I'm getting my writing energy back up. I can see things I wasn't able to see just a week ago, let alone last month. It's hard to remember that being a part-time writer is so damn hard when Life gets in your way and other things demand your attention. When you do remember how hard it is, and you start considering all the things you intended to do and haven't even thought about, it's more than a little overwhelming.

My friends have helped me rekindle the passion I need to work. So you'd be doing me a favor if you'd be so kind as to head over to the Cafe and check out their work. Start here and keep clicking on the arrows to the right. There's some really amazing stuff over there, some funny stuff, too. If you like a story, feel free to say so in the comment section underneath it. All us writers need a little love, right?

Friday, March 23, 2012


I'm thinking about putting up a story or two that I'd earmarked for submissions, but ---

What if I built a tip jar and gave the fiction to you for free? Some of it's long enough that it'd have to be serialized, but what do you think? Would you drop a tip in the jar every once in a while if I put some fiction up here?

Would you encourage that? Do you do that elsewhere?

The Goldbricking Game

From The Sticker Shoppe.
Click here for more.
I sat down this morning to do some writing. Instead I played my turns on five games of Words With Friends, sent an email or two, then opened up my work in progress.

I stared at it for five minutes, decided I wasn't really in the mood to write and got dressed to go outside and do yard work. To be fair, the work outside needed to be done and it's been raining buckets here of late so there haven't been a great many opportunities to get done what needs doing. The leaves needed to be pulled out of the fence, combed from the flower beds and then bagged for the city to pick up and put to  use. It won't be much longer that they'll get a ton (or a metric tonne as the case was this morning) of leaves and grass clippings because I'm going to set up composting in the next couple of weeks.

My wife and I bought a house last year and this is the first spring we're really getting into all the things we've been talking about for years: composting, a huge garden (for us, anyway), recycling, planting roses and bushes that appeal to us, and all the other little, little things that make a house our home. Including repairing leaky gutters that are full of standing water due to the downspout being filled with roof detritus. (Yeah, I was on the roof this morning, too. Freaked the cats out.)

I spent a total of three hours outside digging up bushes that neither of us liked and trying to decide where to put the hydrangea we bought the other day. I checked all the gutters and the downspouts and everything is copacetic in that regard now. I've got some of that spray on flex seal stuff that I'm going to try in the one spot where there are seven or eight holes that have developed. I'll let you know how that goes.

I've got the lawn mower taken apart, the old oil is out of it and I'm getting the blade sharpened up tonight but the earliest I'll be able to mow will be Sunday afternoon and if the Jayhawks are playing it might have to wait until after that. (That's the only basketball reference for this post, I promise!) I bought a decent trimmer and I'm going to have to learn how to use that properly. Anyway, there are lots of things on my plate that needed doing and today was a good day to get them done before the rain swept back in.

But I was writing while I was doing some of that, too. This post, for instance, and a couple of other things that have been swirling around in my brain including some stuff for The Confabulator Cafe that I have to get done.

There's also that work in progress. It has to get done so it can go out into the world. I have to stop goldbricking. I realized that that's exactly what I've been doing since January. Once I got out of the post-NaNo/post-holiday stupor I was in, I've been too drained to really focus. Part of it was my day job needing a good deal of attention, that always happens. Part of it was the grey days of winter. That always happens, too. Now there's not much excuse. It's time to get back to work. There's no more hiding, no more procrastination.

Except, I still need to plant the hydrangea and do some more planning for the garden...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Telling the Truth

Found on the web at
I'm not anywhere I should be in my writing over the last month. I'm spending time working on it when I can. This update is simply to let my five loyal readers know that I'm still here, still working, still trying to accomplish lots of big things.

Thanks for your patience, folks. I promise something will be coming and I'll give you a big update when it's appropriate. There's at least one thing coming that I can't talk about yet and maybe that'll be sooner than later.

I've got some blog posts lined up at The Confabulator Cafe, but that's all that's on the radar for the moment. Take some time and check out what my compatriots there are saying about a wide variety of subjects and marvel at how well my co-editor Sara Lundberg is keeping that blog running while I flail away at writing.

I'm off back to wordherding.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I'm at the Cafe Today...

Sorry this is late and not maybe what you're expecting. Please visit my post over at The Confabulator Cafe today, talking about taboo things including comic books and cannibals.

See you soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Damage Done

Normal people are boring.

Not necessarily in real life, but in fiction. You know what I mean, right?

Can you think of one 'normal' character who's at all interesting when you're reading? I can't. I know there are more than a few, maybe Dr. John Watson would fall into that category as written by Arthur Conan Doyle and not Steven Moffat but he would be an exception. In Watson's case he's interesting as a foil for Holmes' brilliance and not much else. He is the reporter.

But think about it, when you're having a conversation with someone and you're both having a good time you're not talking about mundane things are you? You're talking about the stupid stuff people do, the unbelievable stuff, the stuff you just can't make up.

As a fiction writer you have to exaggerate things, make things bigger and more extreme than in 'real life' because that's where the conflict comes from. That's what engages the reader.

Being extreme in fiction is one thing and it's very different from being a commentator on TV and saying extreme things to garner ratings although the goals are the same: a wider audience. A writer and a commentator are telling stories and both are trying to entertain. Fiction is supposed to be entertainment and the news is supposed to be a truth. Not THE truth, mind you; just a truth.

So when one is writing a story in an everyday setting it's incumbent on the writer to make the reader identify in some way with the character. The best way to do that is to break the character somehow, take him out of the everyday and give him something that drives him. Write his actions so big that readers will be able to see themselves in the characters you're writing. Actions, behaviors, sayings, interactions with others all come from what we observe in our everyday lives, but made more extreme.

This isn't to say that you can't take a so-called normal person and make them interesting, you can. You should try it and see how you do. But remember that there should be something about the character that makes your reader want to know more. Everyone has a secret of some kind. Play that up. Make it something that is horrifying only to the person or persons involved with that secret. Then realize that the character who doesn't admit that the secret really bothers him is broken by it.

And that's what will make him interesting.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: John Carter

Maybe it was because I was having a really crappy day when I went to see it, but I had a great time watching Andrew Stanton's too-simply titled John Carter. I was immersed in the world of the story from the opening (a great flying sequence that sets up both of the film's villains) through to the end. I'm a little disappointed to see the L.A. Times telling me that the film is now considered a flop because it only pulled in $30.1 million this last weekend. I suppose they know whereof they speak, but from this fanboy's perspective it's a wonderful adaptation.

It's not perfect and I wouldn't expect it to be, but it's a damn fine presentation of a story that's a hundred years old. The locations are spectacular, the Tharks and the Great White Apes are gorgeously rendered and the villains (previously mentioned) are bad people. The flying machines are inventive, the world of the film is well-built and convincing. The characters are given fully-realized life by actors like Ciaran Hinds, James Purefoy, Dominic West, Mark Strong and even Art Malik makes a brief appearance. Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas is having a great time in his role and plays the Thark jeddak with heart and humor.

With Hinds and Purefoy back together (I remember them fondly from the HBO series Rome) and on the side of Dejah Thoris, I was sold that Helium were the good guys without question. Speaking of Dejah Thoris, this character was enormously improved for the film and Lynn Collins very much looks the part of the Barsoomian princess from the novel. I couldn't take my eyes off her though some of her lines were clunky, she did a great job in convincing John Carter to fight not just for her, but for Helium and all of Barsoom. She's a Joe Jusko painting come to life, too.

Ah, then there's Taylor Kitsch as John Carter. I've never seen him before (I didn't watch Friday Night Lights) but I liked him well enough in the title role. He looks the part and plays it in earnest, even giving some emotional depth to the character in his final scene and when he's fighting the savage Tharks. I think that's more a tribute to director Andrew Stanton than to Kitsch but it makes the movie better.

The real scene stealer is Woola the calot. He's the best dog in the universe and you have to watch him when he's on the screen. Woola really brings a sense of family to the film.

You may not be a fan of the story, you may not be a fan of any of the actors, hell you may not even like SF stories (which is why there's no Mars in the title), but you should go see this movie for the sheer fact that (as my friend Brad Heitmeyer said it) 'this is what a live-action Pixar movie would look like'. Yeah there's a kind of forced almost-love scene, but it's brief enough that you can put it out of your mind. The world of the story (I keep mentioning that, don't I?) is rich and fulfilling and you can get lost in it if you want to.

Don't compare it to Star Wars. Don't compare it to the Lord of the Rings. This is the story that all other SF and fantasy stories steal from. Stanton gives it the Pixar treatment and makes it great. Give it a chance and go with an open mind. Let yourself be carried away by the story. You might even find yourself feeling pretty great when you come out of the theater. I did.

The Motivation

The biggest hurdle I've ever had to overcome in my writing was finishing the damn stories. Really, there are corpses of half-formed ideas all along the road behind me. There are quite a few finished tales, too. When I'm stuck on a story (as I am right now) it's often hard to figure out how to motivate myself to actually finish it. Let me explain.

Since I'm not writing to get paid on a lot of things (my work for Actionopolis aside), and I have a good-paying day job, I'm not feeling a lot of pressure to get things done.  Except the pressure I put on myself.  If the day job is pressing down on me, I'm inclined to not write and that's a good recipe to not finish anything.

The pressure I put on myself comes from the accumulation of ideas that happens once I start clearing out space in my head for new things. For instance, last week the germ of a new novel popped into my head complete with a title. It came to me in a flash of inspiration and I started making notes, ticking things off that I would need to research and reveling in the surge of adrenaline that came with it. The feeling of pure excitement.

The urge to write this new story.

The problem is that I've got one story almost done, another that needs serious editing and then there's the novel I've written that must be addressed. All this has to be done before I can start writing something new or else I'm just leaving a bunch more bodies behind.

I can't do that any more. I've had a couple of serious tries at budgeting my time and I've even got a nifty document that will help me keep track of what I'm working on. The problem is that life will get in the way if I let it. Though it's not really a matter of 'letting' life get in the way, it happens and those are things that I have to deal with.

So I'm using my desire to write the new story as motivation to finish the ones I have in progress. Let's see if this is going to work because the new story is going to be novel-length and it has the potential to be really, really good.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Friday! Omnibus!

Note to self: don't talk about college basketball. It seems to scare off readers.


Here. Have a song while you read:

If the name Ken Andrews seems familiar, it's because he was in a band called Failure that you might have heard of in the mid-90s. They had a moderate hit with a song called "Stuck On You" that's really worth seeking out. The rest of the Failure oeuvre is worth listening to, as well. I love it a lot. He's done a lot of solo work but under various band names like Year of the Rabbit and On to name a couple.


This story is beating the hell out of me. I'm coming up empty on a solid ending. I mean, I know the last scene, the last line, the last thing I want the reader to know but it's getting from that 85% done mark to 95% and then the bits I mentioned that's killing me. I think I'm just going to have to blast through the thing and go back and fix whatever may be wrong. I'm spending too much time thinking. Not enough writing.

Listen to me get fired up. Where's the scotch?


Can we talk politics? I don't know if I should, but I love this season where there's so much rhetoric being thrown around and there's so little actual work being done. Perhaps that's what's inspiring me to just get this story Done. There's so much hot air on both sides and I'm feeling like my side is winning but I'm concerned for the country overall.

The whole idea that "it's my way or the highway" is the way to get things done and that that's what excites the base of both parties is not at all appealing. Things used to happen in Washington. Things used to get Done. We need to elect leaders from both sides (or a third or a fourth side, too) who are willing to work with one another, who are willing to bring the country together. There has been so much deep division that it's disheartening.

Maybe we shouldn't talk politics until that happens. I don't know. Where's the scotch?


Speaking of Scotch, ol' Dr. Whisky hasn't been stopping by a lot lately because I've been sick. Fighting off sniffles then a flu then more sniffles has been maddening. I'm ready for a hard freeze that's the equivalent of a hard reset. Let's get Mother Nature to get this done, all right?


Just finished watching the only season of the Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston. I've seen it before but now that I'm through and current on the Eleventh Doctor, I'm going back to see what I missed. It surely seems that the statement in Season Six that "time can be rewritten" was foreshadowed pretty well in Season One, most especially in the episode "Father's Day". I had a conversation recently where the idea of the meta of Doctor Who is actually staggering if you start taking it apart.Anyway, some very clear lines are being drawn and I'm excited to see what's coming next. I heard a rumor that Captain Jack might be coming back in the next season, and that would make me happy. Especially since Torchwood: Miracle Day wasn't all that satisfying.

I don't watch Doctor Who for the science. The science is shaky, but the story is there. Looking forward to seeing David Tenant again.


Yes, I'm excited to see Benedict Cumberbatch as The Master in next season's Doctor Who 50th anniversary throwdown. I'm also excited to see Sherlock season 2 when it finally hits PBS. I know a lot of people who've already seen it, but I've been studiously avoiding spoilers. Also, Cumberbatch (whose star is not just rising but is already way up in the sky) in Star Trek seems like a good match. I'm glad I like him as an actor. I'm really curious to see what he does with Smaug in The Hobbit, too.


While I'm on the subject of watching things, we just saw Terence Malick's Tree of Life with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in it. I'm not sure what to make of it as a story, but as a film it's spectacular and strange and beautiful and unnerving and surReal. I capitalize the middle 'r' there because it seems to have a hyper-sense of reality to it that takes it to a new level. I think it's brilliant but I suspect I need another half dozen viewings to be sure.


It's Friday and I have a post up at The Confabulator Cafe. Talking about taboo things this week. (That is, if the site is restored. We got hacked something awful the other day, so it may not be up and running but it will be soon if we have anything to say about it.)

That's all I've got, folks. See you on Monday.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Back to the Beginning

Art by Michael Whelan
I am really looking forward to going to see John Carter (of Mars) this weekend.

Why? It's one of the greatest SF stories ever written. And it was written at the dawn of the 20th century, when there was so much that was still unexplored and misunderstood about our own world that the promise of adventure on another world (ostensibly Mars, but in reality Barsoom) is just too much to resist. A lot of SF tropes come from this story: an earthman being transported to another world and wondering if his new life is a dream or not; flying cars; multi-armed creatures; arena battles, and so much MORE.

I read A Princess of Mars when I was a kid, probably 13 or 14 and I was lured in by the nude woman on the cover, being carried to safety by a handsome man over the dead body of a green guy with tusks. How could I not be enticed to read this?

When I found out it was by the same guy who created Tarzan, I was all in. I tried to acquire the entire series when I saw an article about it in - I think - Epic Illustrated with lush paintings of Thuvia, Maid of Mars and thoats and such. I had also read several issues of the Marvel Comics version, John Carter - Warlord of Mars with gorgeous covers by the inimitable Gil Kane. Radium pistols and evil villains filled this young man's head with all sorts of possibilities. Reading Heinlein's The Number of the Beast around the same time solidified the love I had for all things Barsoomian.

Have these been reprinted?
Alas, I never read the entire series and I left it behind in my teens.

However, with age comes a certain amount of disposable cash and the desire to relive some things from childhood. I didn't search exceedingly hard for the paperbacks as I reached my 40s, but I did keep an eye out and about four years ago scored 8 of the 11 books for very reasonable prices at a used bookstore. They captured my imagination again and I was inspired to write my second novel because of the way Edgar Rice Burroughs told his story.

I then worked my way through six of the eight books I have, loving each of them in turn. The pulpy way they're written, the language of the times, it's all brilliant and quite a record of what the world was like around 1912.

Just like this version will be a record of the times I live in. I just realized that this is the 100th anniversary of the publication of A Princess of Mars and that makes this movie even cooler. With the way effects are handled now in film (and thank god they didn't try to make it 3D!) and the modern sensibilities, we're going to get (I hope) a reasonable adaptation.

But it will be an adaptation. It won't be the Barsoom in my head or in the comics. It won't even be the Barsoom of Bob Clampett. It'll be it's own thing and I'm really looking forward to that. I trust that Andrew Stanton will deliver a good movie with a very solid story. I don't expect word-for-word translation. That's boring and just plain silly. It can't be done. The books stand on their own and have for a century.

In one way, I'm glad that it's taken so long for this film to be made. In another, I'm a little disappointed that it had to take this long to get made. Regardless, I'm anxious to see how it comes out.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Going the Distance

I've been busy. No, really.

I just haven't completed the first pass of revisions on the novel I wrote last November. Not because I don't want to have them done - I do! - but as I dove in headfirst I realized I wasn't ready to do it.

That's important. One must be ready to do the work. It's one thing to think of it as being work, it's another to do it. I know exactly what has to be done - the cuts that have to be made, the additions that must be written - and I'm ready to do it.

From a distance.

I'm not ready to jump back into that pool and start treading water. I need some good motivation to get it going. My motivation so far is that I need to get this book ready to shop around. That's it. That's all the motivation I have to finish it. Is that enough?

Well, yeah. It should be anyway.

What's happened to keep me busy is that the day job in late January and throughout February kept me on my toes and while that was going on I was trying to finish up another story that will see the light of day some time this year. I've also become more concerned (as noted here) that I can do more with this blog to make it a little more interactive and websitey but that may just be my mind making excuses not to get back to the novel. So yeah, life got in the way and there was plenty of that.

Additionally, I just needed to be a little farther away from the completion of the novel. There was so much energy that went into just finishing the thing (and it's the first novel I've completed that I felt like was worth going back to and working on) that I had no idea how much it had drained me.

I've said it before that writing is WORK. It sure looks easy to sit down at a keyboard and type away until the wee hours of the morning but anyone who's done it will tell you unequivocally that it isn't. There's a lot of thought that goes in and that kind of work - while different than physical labor - can be very draining. I just didn't know how much and now I do.

Thing is, I don't know how to communicate that to you. I can tell you that I've just felt like there wasn't any fuel in the tank but that's not exactly true. I've felt like writing just not working like a fiend on that particular story. My history of writing so far has been to complete a story and move on. Having something this good and this big is all new territory and it's scary. And by scary I mean daunting, harrowing, and just plain terrifying.

So I've been busy, yeah, but I haven't been doing the work I anticipated doing. And life got in the way.

Sounds like I'm making excuses, doesn't it?

Time to get back to it.

Friday, March 02, 2012


I designed a new header. Tell me what you think.

New On The Menu at the Confabulator Cafe: Talking about the influence other media have on us, beyond our favorite authors. Here's a sample:

I try to give as little physical description as possible in my stories because I want the reader to be able to fill in the blanks. I don't really worry about describing clothing, either. As I write a story, I have an idea of what my characters look like and what they wear and I drop little bits into the story to clue the reader in but only enough to tell the story. My characters are pretty well-formed as I write them (at least that’s what I aim for, sometimes I’m more successful than others). I know enough about them to write them, but I don’t always tell the reader everything I know.

I'm having a really great time writing on specific topics and on a deadline for the Cafe. It's full of a lot of my favorite people and I'm learning a lot about what I've got to say about my process on writing. It's kind of intimidating when people like Chuck Wendig are out there giving you lists of things that are important for writers to know. However, I'm coming from a much different place than Wendig and now that I'm past all the jealousy of not being able to vocalize what I know like he does, I'm really comfortable with how it's going. I hope you're heading over and reading not just my stuff but everyone's there.


College basketball season is winding down and winding up this weekend. Regular season championships are on the line and league tournaments are beginning to be set, too, in anticipation of the big 'do in a couple weeks. My Jayhawks are league champs again for the EIGHTH TIME IN EIGHT YEARS.

Most everyone in the Big XII hates Kansas, and they're not all that popular across the country and I understand that. If you're not a fan of the program you want your team to have a chance in a game. Something that bothers me a little is that the haters say that 'the fix is in' and I have to take issue with that. When KU loses, no one says that the other team had a fix in. No, what's said is that Kansas is overrated and the opposing team just plain outplayed them. Even Kansas fans (well okay, not all of them, but the good ones anyway) will acknowledge when our guys are outplayed. We rarely accuse the other team of buying referees, though we certainly understand the temptation to do so.

Every team benefits from time to time from a bad call. Just keep that in mind, basketball fans, as your team progresses through the Mad March.


As I mentioned on Wednesday, I've been reading some trade paperback collections of comics. Grant Morrison's The Return of Bruce Wayne was --- entertaining. It made a certain kind of sense and was certainly one of the more fantastic stories Batman's been involved in and ultimately was pretty unsatisfying. I mean I don't like big events in comics any more. I got burned on crummy Marvel events in the 90s and have been soured on them ever since. Massacre. Ultimate. Final. Crisis. Whatever. I'm tired of them. As I understand it from reading RETURN, Batman was flung through time by Darkseid and now Bruce has to find his way back across centuries. 
THE book that anyone
who wants to create or
even read comics should
read. Absolutely brilliant.

This just isn't the kind of story that Batman should be in. It's ridiculous on any number of levels, no matter who the creators involved are. This is the kind of thing that used to be relegated to DC's Elseworlds books and probably should have been left there. I know that Morrison is one of the most respected writers in comics and one of the controllers of DC's universe, but really this series was just plain silly. The art didn't disappoint, this was simply unsatisfying storytelling.

In contrast, Geoff Johns' The Flash: Rebirth was entertaining and satisfying at the same time. If Barry Allen has to be brought back into the DCU yet again, this was at least a plausible way to do it. I'm a firm believer that if a company is going to kill of a character the character should stay dead. I was just a little disappointed that DC chose to bring Barry back, but this story at least made a kind of sense and the villain was one of the most enigmatic in the Flash's history. I was able to read it in collected format so I didn't get frustrated with the delays.

And that brings me to a final point about comics: I'm pretty bored with most superhero stuff and have been for a lot of years. I want the medium of comics to be telling more interesting stories. All the heroes of my youth are still there (some even back from the dead, some having spent time as villains, too) but they're far less interesting than they used to be. Give me, instead, some original storytelling like Matt Fraction's Casanova and Mike Carey's The Unwritten. Those books get my blood pumping. 


Sometime in the last three weeks or so I passed 1,000 followers on Twitter. I'm grateful for everyone who's on the list of followers, but I'm not fooling myself into thinking that a thousand people read the tweets that come from me. Maybe a hundred, I think.  Maybe fewer. This isn't false humility, it's based on the number of people I interact with on Twitter. 

In contrast there are about thirty people who subscribe or are drawn to this blog for whatever reason. I think of the hundred that I interact with via social media, I'm proudest of them and the readers of the blog. It's nice that there a thousand people who've clicked the 'follow' button on Twitter, but having an audience of a hundred or so that comes on their own, that thinks I might be interesting is much more satisfying. I expect that this attitude will cause dozens of folks to drop me from their Twitter lists, which is fine, actually. I'd rather we all talk than just blindly follow one another.

I'm on nearly a hundred lists of folks who follow me on Twitter ranging from just interesting people to friends to being and SF author. If those hundred people read my tweets in their lists everyday that would dramatically raise my profile wouldn't it? But let's be honest - I don't read all the lists I have on Twitter every day and I bet a lot of people are the same. 

So just to have a round number, I speculate that there are maybe 150 people who actually pay attention to what I say here and on Twitter. That's not a bad ratio, I think, something on the order of 12-15% of those that have me in their feeds in one way or another. I'm starting to think how I can exploit that, how I can get you all to buy my books when they come out and then get you each to hook one more reader for me. 

So that's what my weekend will be filled with: thoughts of increasing my actual readership. 


Following are two pieces of flash fiction where the challenge was to write a complete story in five sentences or less. I let you judge how successful I was. Reminder that the copyright (2012) on these two pieces (and everything on the blog that's original to me) is mine. 


I’ve always hated the sound of a heavy gate closing, whether it’s wood or metal or that godawful clanging of chainlink fence that’s so popular in the ‘burbs of my youth. There’s just something so final about it that sets my teeth on edge.

My jailer smiles at me and doesn’t say a goddamn word and I note that he is in serious need of dental work that he’ll never get along with a shower the strength of that river Hercules used to clean out the Augean stables.

I bet he’s related to the fucker who turned me in because his daughter was flirting up a storm with me at the dance last night.

Time traveling’s a bitch.

Drinks Before Dinner

“Darling,” she said with that classic drawn-out ‘r’ that made Bette Davis famous, “you’re not doing it correctly.”

“This is what you’ve always told me you liked,” he said.

“Yes dear, but I have to tell you that you’re boring me terribly – terribly – and I want you to stop now.”

He put down the drink shaker, turned it just so on the kitchen counter before he opened the top drawer and pulled out the scalloped santoku knife.

“You’ve been boring me for years, darling,” he said, mocking her drawn-out ‘r’, brandishing the knife at her, “and I want you to stop now.”