Friday, March 02, 2012

Omnibus

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. 






Cell


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.”
###