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  • Archives for May 2013 (11)

In the meantime…

I’ve got a couple of short stories in the works as well as my new novel, but life stuff has 20130527_121935slowed me down, so I don’t have a new story to post today. In the meantime though, if you haven’t been outside lately in the bay area… holy S%@! the place is gorgeous right now. I haven’t traveled north of the Golden Gate recently, but I can personally confirm that everything from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay to Saratoga to Santa Cruz is spectacular right now. Get outside and enjoy it! Or at least, you know, crack a window open or something:-).

I took this picture a few days ago, and it pretty much exemplifies what I’m seeing and how amazingly bright the world has been lately.

Working on cover concepts with clay

Spent some time yesterday working on an image for my new novel, Clay. After Kylie did some tweaking on the pictures I took, I have something to show for the effort.

Clay SculptureMy initial pictures were all too dark. I still need to play around more with lighting, but the gist of the image is close to what I want. Also… really fun to play with clay again! :-) I made new memories out of it.

Mantis Shrimp versus Water Bear… Go!

Mantis_shrimp_from_frontWaterbearOkay, okay, so I’m a little slow and not properly click-happy to have read/seen every link that was ever sent to me… so, I missed out. But I’m here to say, DAMN the Mantis Shrimp!? And holy frickin’ jeebus, the Water Bear!?

 

Collaboration in Writing

My good friend, Joe Garhan, and I have worked together on several projects, both professionally and as hobbyists. Although he has put his writing aside to pursue other creative interests–he’s an animator and game designer, and he did the cover art work for both Spire, and Fallen Spire–I carried on with a short story that was born of one of our conversations.

Actually, Bella is more than a short story, it’s a treatment for a novel. When Joe and I were working on writing together regularly, we were really enjoying the idea of simple treatments for any concepts we thought would work well as novels. Effectively, the challenge was to put to paper any idea that came up in conversation and see if we still liked it. The collaboration was fun, and I still use the practice of writing short–but complete–glimpses into the worlds and characters of my future novels. Not only is it a great way to test if the idea is worth continuing, but also it helps formalize the concept; it helps a lot more than just taking a couple of abstract notes.

Someday, when he is done conquering the world–or whatever he is doing–I think Joe and I might actually co-author something. In the meantime, check out Bella. I hope you like it.

Comfort

She was ready to give her speech.

The assembly stadium was filled with several thousand people, a carpet of constant motion atop the cultivated green. All the way to the highest tier of the stands, an empty seat couldn’t be found. Sound dampening projectors prevented the din from growing out of control, but at the hands of the skilled stadium-address operators, still allowed for a lively sense of social interaction and mounting anticipation. The operators eased up the control gradually, ramping up the decibels according to the schedule, building toward the Magnate’s arrival.

At the center of the open-air stadium, a point-of-view sphere was streaming a montage of the Magnate’s most iconic and memorable moments. The PoV was almost one Steve Lambert Everything You Want Right Nowhundred meters in diameter and it floated above a dais at the center of the stadium green. From anywhere in the stadium, a member of the audience could see the Magnate’s smiling face staring back, or sternly calling for action, or relaxing with her family in her modestly decorated home.

She emerged from a maintenance tunnel where the large machines built to tend the green would normally enter the stadium. The Magnate’s entrance was three minutes and twenty-seven seconds early according to the clock on the PoV; right on schedule. The address operators sampled the crowd as a few caught sight of her, and wove their whispers into the broadcast. A single pair of clapping hands turned into a slow ripple, gained momentum and volume, and became a cheering mob of applause, standing and screaming. The PoV switched to a live feed, and Magnate Shepard was on.

She was average in all of her superficial aspects: she stood at one and three-quarters meters high, wore her dark brown hair to her shoulders, and had a solid and fit body. Her skin might have been arguably more golden than most, and her face more defined, but it was her composure that set her apart from the masses.

The crowd opened to her as she walked. She greeted and shook hands with many people as she went, and waved magnanimously to the crowd; the skilled operators made every wave feel personal, each smile directed.

Finally, the Magnate stepped up onto the projection dais at the center of the green. The sounds of the crowd were diminished. The audience relaxed and sat. The stadium belonged to her.

She began her address. An endearing and humble greeting. She continued. Lavish praise for the people, and heartfelt gratitude for their efforts. She paused appropriately for their applause. She directed their attention to their shared accomplishments over the last several years. The PoV displayed advances in medical research, technology, and improved education. She was building toward the main purpose of her speech. She was swelling with pride, but managed to be endearingly humble.

“… and we have prospered.” Pause. “But there is more, more that we can have!”

The Magnate waited, looked at the crowd, listened carefully for their eager silence to reach its edge, “We have been striving for a better life since this land was settled over four hundred years ago! Since we unified the entire world under a single government! We have dreamed of a time when each and every individual on this planet would have not only what is needed, but what is wanted!”

The crowd in the stands rose up from their seats, and the audience on the green jumped and cheered. The swell of approval rose and fell as a single chest of breath the size of the stadium itself. When they calmed, the Magnate continued.

“The task has not been an easy one!” She changed her expression suddenly to one of comic knowing, and stated dryly, “We want an awful lot.” Laughter and chuckles, mixed cheers. “Not an easy task, no… but we have DONE it!”

While the crowd was lost in a cacophony of almost hysterical cheering, the PoV displayed inscrutable diagrams and schematics, and finally refocused on the Magnate, “Now, you can finally have everything you want and you can have it, NOW!”

“Never feel uncomfortable again!”

“Never feel stress again!”

“Never feel the anxiety of waiting again!”

“Never wonder if you can have something… have it!”

“Never fight or struggle for anything ever again!”

“Together we will have it all, automatically… prosperity, happiness, and comfort! A world free of fear! A world free of adversity!”

The audience was whipped into an irrepressible and unanimous cheer. With that, Magnate Shepard closed her address. She waved and bowed and made her way out of the stadium through the mass of overjoyed people. They continued cheering long after her departure.

Back at her offices—her home—the Magnate was greeted and congratulated by several of her board members. Her personal assistant opened the door to her private chambers, “Powerful presentation, Magnate.”

“Thank you. Talking is the easy part. The difficult part was shouldered by so many people working long and hard to make true comfort a reality.”

“Of course,” a slight bow of the head, “Oh, uh, your daughter’s in the kitchen.” The assistant pointed inside.

“Thank you, that will be all for me today.”

The door was closed behind her.

“Mom?” A teenager appeared from the hallway, “Mom!” They hugged. “Great job!”

“Thank you,” a sigh of relief, “I think it went pretty well.”

“Will it all really work? The way you said?”

“Yes.”

“I can have anything I want!?”

The Magnate’s demeanor shifted suddenly, and became stern, “No.” She shook her head, “No, you can’t.” She held her daughter away stiffly with both arms, “Do you want to be just another one of them? Trained to enjoy simple, quick rewards?”

“No,” her shoulders sagged, but she held her mother’s gaze, “No, I don’t.”

The Magnate nodded her approval, “Imagine a world full of people who can have every comfort they desire for no effort, devoid of personal investment? They’ll be even more complacent than they are now,” peering deeply into her daughter’s eyes, “No, my dear, this gift is for them.”

“But, what about what I want?”

The Magnate’s face was matter of fact, “You want something they can never have.” She beamed at her daughter, “When you take over the business, you’ll be the one dictating what they want. They’ll hand you the keys to their hearts and their futures. They’ll have everything you give them, but they’ll never have control.”

Tips and Twitters as Novel Commodities

Taking a moment here to be a dick:

I may have mislead some of you with an earlier post on this blog regarding “Tips.” I successwant to apologize for being too nice in that post;-). Seriously, the post was meant to explain that budding authors should not pay too much attention to bullet-pointed rules for success. Read them with polite skepticism and take what you can from them; remember that the reason those authors were asked for tips is because no one else can quantify quite what they’ve done. Look deeper and you’ll find most have broken some rules, probably even their own.

Also, I don’t blame people for looking for answers! F. We’re all trying to learn from one another… that’s awe-inspiring. It’s amazing that so much of what we do everyday, what we learn everyday, can be shared so easily! Communication mediums are AMAZING today; thank you, science!

So, what am I feeling particularly dickish about? This all sounds pretty good? Well, here it is: personally, I’m f’n sick of all the, “<X> Tips for a successful <Y>!” I can’t help but feel as though many of the authors of those kinds of posts are full of themselves, and full of shit. Not all of them, but come on… how many things that you really care about can be boiled down to a Tip list? And have you read some of the Tips? It’s like listening to an interview between periods of hockey:

“What will you do in the third, Coach?”

“We need to

1) skate harder, and

2) improve our passing.

They really exploited us in our zone… we need to

3) improve our Defense, and

4) get the puck out of our zone, and

5) put it on net. Gotta put more pucks on net.”

Right. So, you are going to play hockey, and ideally, play better than the other team. Yeah. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO THAT!? Well, the coach isn’t going to tell you that, and neither are the condensed theories you read as tips.

/endrant

Oh, and also, I don’t want to buy your book of tweets. Ever. I don’t care how funny they were, or insightful, or whatever. I might read them, and even sincerely enjoy them, but when you package them up in a book format, I suddenly feel exploited and angry about it.

/endrant

A new bit

I wrote several sections of a novel over the last several years, none of which have ever been released. I’ve tossed around the idea of formally tying up the loose ends on and off, but I’m never interested enough in the long form of the story to do the work. On the other hand, I really like some of the small moments in the work and I’ve grabbed an excerpt to share called, Bleeding the Canvas. It’s not really my style of writing anymore, but I think there are still some relevant points, and overall, I’m glad I wrote it. :-).

It’s a strong emotional expression as told by a man writing to himself in an insane asylum. Enjoy.

Writing Lately

In the last month or so, I’ve been distracted. Whenever I sit down to write–I just want to work on my new novel–but I can’t get my brain to settle into the story because I’m too busy burning cycles on what it means to me to experience art in general.

Another distraction

I don’t know what it means, but I know I’m in love with music, paintings, writing, movies, and friends that scratch at my brain. Most of it is honestly, pretty f’n depressing, but somehow it makes me feel amazing. The problem is that I get so immersed in my experiences that I drift away from the work I’m doing. I know that one feeds the other, but striking the balance lately has been more difficult than usual. The funny thing is, I’m not looking for inspiration–I have more than I’ve ever had before–instead, I’m so inspired that I want to be out in the world bouncing off of every bright color, falling with every leaf, fighting for every cause.

But there are others out there, already brilliantly filling the niches, lighting the dark corners of our social consciousness and sometimes, just making beauty from their lips, hips, or fingertips. So many artists and I want to shout to all of them, “Thank you!”

And then quietly, get back to work:).

Update: New Short Story, “Gypsy”

I wrote Gypsy in response to meeting a beautiful woman in San Francisco. Strong-willed, artistic, intelligent, and captivating, I felt electrified by her presence. Of course, the short story becomes completely fantastic at some point, but that’s me:). Even among my most trusted friends, I frequently feel a sense of paranoia, that they know my mind, or have plans for me, or are trying to use me. It’s not that I always believe it is something bad they have planned, but more that the words they are using can be interpreted too many different ways, and I start spinning multiple threads of their intentions in my head. Any of which might be real…

Update: New Essay, “A Modesty Proposal”

I wrote, A Modesty Proposal, to describe how much it bothers me when people get caught up in issues like over-sized breasts in videogames, and end up more focused on the breasts than the real issue of fragile self-worth in our culture. I think it is a more difficult topic, and certainly more difficult to address, but ultimately cultivating strength of character in our children and friends as individuals is the answer.

The media will change when we do.

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