Back To Work

I did fairly well at taking an actual vacation last week.  I wasn’t entirely idle, of course, I spent a lot of time cleaning house, and I did a lot of work on my new project–research, mostly, but a fair amount of writing.

Still, I’d give myself a solid C+ for getting some rest, which is way above average for me.  It didn’t help that the street in front of my house was being torn up, but after the first hour or so every morning that was easy to ignore.

Anyway, it’s back to work, both at my day job and on Worms Of Heaven. I am still waiting to hear back from a publisher on Catskinner’s Book.  The initial contact was very positive, they requested a full manuscript within a few hours of receiving my query.  They said it would be 4-6 weeks before I heard back regarding their decision, and last week was 4 weeks, so I was really hoping I would hear something.

Well, they still haven’t said no, at least.  And no matter what they decide, I need to go ahead with the next book.  Evidently I was thinking about it on some level, I have some new ideas that I want to incorporate into the next few scenes.

So… back to work.

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Somebody Needs This Man

Earlier today I found out that an old friend of mine has lost his job.

For the past six and a half years Eddy Webb has been part of the creative team responsible for putting together the World Of Darkness video game, based on the White Wolf RPG. CCP, the company that owned the project, has canceled it, and laid off a number of employees, including my friend Eddy.

I’ve known Eddy for some years now, although he hasn’t lived in my town for a while, we keep in touch through the usual social media.  To be honest, I really don’t know that much about gaming or game design, but I do know that Eddy is a meticulous researcher and a very clear and readable writer.  He can produce outstanding copy to spec and on deadline.

I’m putting this out there because I know a lot of people who work in the creative arts, and you know a lot more people who work in the creative arts, and I am sure that somebody out there is looking for a writer like Eddy.

So please, pass this along.

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Research

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not much of a researcher.  However, I am currently working on a Cold War Era novel with an on-line co-author.  (You know, that awkward moment when you suddenly wake up and realize that you’re in the middle of a book that you didn’t intend to write?)

We are currently working on the history of the characters and so I have been reading up on the history of Germany from 1900 to 1947 (spoiler alert: They lost. A lot. )  Having decided how old the characters are at the start of the story, we’ve been working backwards and seeing when they were born, figuring out where, what was going on at the time, and what sort of events shaped who they have become.

Europe in the first half of the Twentieth Century was an incredible time.  The amount of drastic change in the people’s daily lives staggers the mind.  Not just technological, the culture, the governments, the national boundaries–everything changed. And while it’s easy in retrospect to condemn the totalitarian movements–the National Socialists, the Fascists, the Soviets–the more I read the more I am able to understand how people could be drawn to the idea of monolithic central control.  When your world is so far out of control, the idea of somebody, anybody, being able to take charge and give you a chance to catch your breath must be quite appealing.

I am finding myself sympathizing a great deal with the character we set up as our villain.  He’s not an Agent Of SMERSH or some comic book minion to an evil empire, he’s an ordinary guy who lost everything in the war (he grew up in a small community outside of Dresden) and is struggling to provide for his family as best he knows how.  He’s not an ideological communist, he’s a man who has allied himself with the people that he believes are best able to keep the trains running at all, much less on time.

Doing this research has been an eye-opening experience.  It’s not going to change my own political beliefs (I’m what Robert Heinlein called “a rational anarchist”) but it’s helping me to understand how the Soviet system grew out of the chaos following the First World War.

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Things To Do And See At The Circus Of The Lost

Next week I am taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as vacation days.  The university will be closed Thursday and Friday for Easter (Catholic university–they take Easter very seriously.)  So I have a big block of time to be at home and try to get some work done.

Right now I have three projects.  First, of course, is finishing The Worms Of Heaven. I don’t have that much longer to go, but I find my mind wandering when I try to sit down and do it.  I had the same problem with Catskinner and Cannibal, but I got through those, and I am confident that I will get through this one, too.

Second, Project V.  I now have twelve authors signed up on the mailing list and we are hashing out ideas.  I’m not quite sure where it is going at the moment, but it should prove interesting.

Third, a novel that I am tentatively calling Eisenstrasse, which I am co-authoring with a writer named Jessika O’Sullivan.  It started as Legendary Author Battle, but we both are enjoying the story too much to let it end just yet.  It’s set in East Berlin just after WWII, and has a very different feel than anything I’ve ever done before.

In addition to these, I am still working on finding a publisher to re-issue Catskinner and Cannibal and take on Worms. I hope to hear back from one strong prospect soon, but I need to keep looking, just in case.

So, I hope to stay busy next week.

See you in the funny papers.

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Project V

I’ve started an e-mail list for the new project, which I am calling Project V.  We are starting some discussion as to the form the project will take.  So far it’s all very speculative, we’re just tossing ideas around.  It’s going to be a multi-author anthology, and I will be posting an official call for submissions when we have the details hammered out.

I do want to stick to the original idea of assigning core conflicts between archetypes and having the stories written specifically for this collection. (However, as with Fauxpocalypse, authors will retain all reprint rights and can use the stories elsewhere if they choose.)

If you would like to get in on the brainstorming, send me a message via my Reach Out And Touch Me PageAsking to be added to the e-mail discussion list will not obligate you to contributing, it will simply allow you to be a part of the process of deciding the shape of the project.

I would like to get between ten and fifteen stories, with lengths between one thousand and ten thousand words, with eighty to a hundred thousand words as the overall goal. That still allows a fair amount of latitude for individual authors.

So let’s see what happens.

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The Seven

Okay, this is a followup to my “X vs. Y” posts here and here.

Utilizing a complex and technically inexplicable process of metamagical pseudoepistemological retrocognition, I have determined the optimum collection of archetypes to set against each other.

Still not entirely sure how this is going to work (c.f. Fauxpocalypse, Step One: Jump, Step Two: Build parachute) but I do want to put this out there.  I’m thinking that what I want to do is collect a group of authors first and then put them in the choakey with the spiders  send out assignments with a totally arbitrary and unfair time limit to construct a story.  (I’m thinking thirty days.)

If this looks like the kind of full throttle bonedaddy-bugfuck madness that you’d like to be involved in, send me a message via the ever-popular contact form.  I will add you to the soon to be constructed Secret Project V e-mail list.

A moment of gravity within my Swiftian hilarity–I believe that art is the birthright of all human beings.  We are born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards and there is little that we can call our own, there is work, there is death, there is the brutal love of a toothless child, and there is art.  These are the things that you must never ask permission for.

There is no requirement for contributors save being human.  If you are a pod person from Alpha Centari, I can’t help you. You might consider writing for the Huffington Post. But if you have red blood and a heart (one to a customer, sorry Timelords) to pump it, you qualify.  There will be a time when you go from wanting to be a writer to being a writer, and this is as good a time as any.

Now where the Hell was I?  Oh, yes, the archetypes.

Angel: What could be better than doing good? Of course, doing good means that you know what is good, and clearly those who are doing something else must not be really good, no matter what they think.

Pirate: Fortune favors the bold!  Sure, there is risk involved, and, you know, the constant threat of death and dismemberment, but, duh, gold! Plus eye patches are sexy, for sufficiently large values of sexy.

Knight: Might does not make right.  Might must be in the service of right.  Once you’ve got that square, it’s kick ass and take names.

Zombie: A rut is a grave that never ends, but, that’s okay as long as there’s a steady supply of nice juicy brains.  A heedless consistency is the hobgoblin of small yet tasty minds.

Ninja: A lifetime of discipline has given you skills that others can scarcely comprehend.  Mostly because they are too busy hanging out at the pool and drinking margaritas. Not that you’re bitter or anything.

Succubus/Incubus: Why worry?  Life is good, people are wonderful, and a lot of them will get down and dirty.  Why can’t we all be friends?  Like, with benefits.

Mystic: Contemplation is the key to comprehension.  The innermost eye sees all.  Also the innermost eye would really like some tea–do you mind?  I just got comfortable.

 

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More Thoughts On “X vs. Y”

I’m a big fan of brainstorming.  I spent some more time thinking about the idea I wrote up this morning regarding an anthology, and it’s kind of growing on me.  As I’ve mentioned on here before, I am involved in a group called Legendary Author Battles, and I’ve found that working within the constraints that someone else has set can really aid my creativity.

So I think what I’d like to offer to a group of writers is a randomly generated theme, to develop as you see fit.  Ideally, I’d like to have ten to fifteen writers signed up, and then give everyone a theme at the same time, just to how people explore the ideas.

Now, the way I’m seeing the math is something like this:

With two archetypes you have one possibility: A vs. B
With three you get three:A vs. B, A vs. C, and B vs. C
With four you get six:A vs. B, A vs. C, A vs. D, B vs. C, B vs. D, C vs. D

And so on.

I’d like to have more possibilities than authors, so that the same archetypes don’t get used too often, so I am thinking that seven archetypes will yield twenty-eight different possible conflicts.  That gives me twice as many possibilities than my ideal number of authors participating.

What seven archetypes would people like to see in something like this?  Remember, the theme can be explored metaphorically, so they should be distinct enough that the characters are recognizable even if the zombie, say, isn’t a literal shambling corpse.

Thoughts?

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