Archive for May, 2009

Be happy, John Scalzi!

May 29, 2009 2 comments

Well, I couldn’t help myself. I went over to Barnes & Noble on my lunch break and perused the SF section. I found John Scalzi, China Miéville, and Bruce Sterling. But I did not find Edward Willett! I don’t know why.

Unfortunately, I am not in the position to buy hardcovers right now, and so The City & the City was out. I’ll have to wait for that to come out in paperback. And so there was the hemming and hawing about which author to buy. Since I’ve been wanting to buy Old Man’s War for a while, Scalzi it was! I’m really looking forward to reading it. 

Hmm…his book is not that old, but the sequel is out. Does he qualify for a Retro Review?

Categories: reading

What I’m reading now

May 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Just last week I finished Ringworld by Larry Niven. What a ride! I’ll try to get out a Retro Review about this excellent book soon.

Now, to move on to the next book. What will I read…what will I read? There are all sorts of great books out there. I have book money burning a hole in my pocket. I’m thinking of making a book page on this blog, where I will list all the books I want to read, and which I have finished recently. (If I tried to list all the books I’ve read, I think the page would be too big!)

My real dilemma is how to spend the book money. I already know what I’m going to read; more on that below. But, the short list for the shopping spree is:

  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. I’ve read the first chapter already from the complete pdf that was available recently. Now I want to read the whole thing, and the best way is to buy the book!
  • Marseguro by Edward Willett. I’ve heard about its sequel Terra Inseguro and thought the idea was pretty neat.
  • The City & the City by China Miéville. Wow what a story concept. And when I heard him being interviewed on I Should Be Writing, I thought I just had to read his stuff!

That’s the very short list. There are so many others!

But, what am I going to read next? That’s simple. I’ve decided to mix up my fiction and non-fiction writing. My next read is Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I think I lack some ability in the area of plot. Maybe it’s just a lack of confidence on my part. No matter. If there is something I could do to improve my craft, I owe it to myself to do it. I’ve already read the first chapter and am looking forward to the rest of the book. I’ll give a review of it just like I hope to be doing for the fiction I read. 

Have a great weekend & keep cranking!

Categories: reading

OK I’m back!

May 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Well, I’ve been a blogger for only two or three weeks, and already I’ve taken time off! Maybe I should get a guest blogger to fill in some space when this happens. So I won’t disappoint all my Imaginary Readers!

It was a good week, but not a lot of writing got done. I am working on the short story outline still; getting a plot is hard and evasive for me. Usually what comes to my mind is a short snap of a cool scene, but without a plot to go with it. How do I get it from the cool scene to the real story? Any of my Imaginary Readers are certainly welcome to chime in!

What are my goals for this week? I will finish the outline and get a few blog posts under my belt.

Have a great week & keep cranking!

Categories: meta

A little behind

May 18, 2009 Leave a comment


I’m late posting a progress report. It is supposed to be on Sundays. My bad! But really, this last weekend we were out of town,  and the next weekend we will be similarly busy, so conditions are going to be impossible for any posts. I will try to post this week, but even that is not guaranteed. Soon I hope to return to a normal week.

Nothing has changed much in writing. I still owe myself the outline for the short story that is at the top of the project list. In the next 2 weeks I hope to get that cranked out.

Have a great week! Keep cranking away! Even slow cranking is cranking.

Categories: meta, progreport

In the queue!

May 15, 2009 Leave a comment

I just got word that my short story “John Glorious” is in the critiquing queue at Critters. Hoorah! Now I have to do just three things: 1) keep a regular stream of critiques going to support the workshop, 2) wait 3-4 weeks for my story to percolate up to the point where it can be critiqued, 3) move on to my next project in the Project List! Once the critiques come in, “John Glorious” will achieve more energy and shoot to the top of my list, where I will act on the critiques received and start sending it out to magazines.

Go me! <uproarous applause!!>

Categories: progreport

The Project List part 2

May 15, 2009 Leave a comment

So, you have a Project List? That long-and-getting-longer list of half ideas and semi-stories? I just finished mine this week. Then I had to find where I had put it before I wrote it out again. Now it’s in my notebook, the ubiquitous capture tool. (Now, why wasn’t my notebook handy like it’s supposed to be?)

The list is 11 items long. Each list item has the designation S (short story), N (novel), or SN (short story or novel, potential for both). It is in no particular order and in no way shows how far along each item is toward completion.

Behind each cryptic list item is a well of energy. At least, that’s how I’m looking at it. Some items have a lot of energy behind them. Some seem more sluggish. These latter ones maybe will not last long on this list; some day they may return to the chaotic abyss of random ideas that are my notebook entries.

It’s the former items I’m most interested in. The ones with a lot of energy in the well. One of them is a completed story. Others have a lot of energy because they have real plots and need to be written. Others catch my imagination enough that I am enthusiastic about developing them.

What am I going to do? Well, I have already started. The finished short story is the one I’ve posted about before. It has the most energy and so gets first attention. After identifying the project I’m going to work on, I will determine the next logical action that will advance the project toward completion. This is what Dave Allen (of Getting Things Done fame) calls the next step. For this story, the next step (because I have already edited it on paper) is to key the changes into the electronic copy. That is DONE as of my lunch break at work yesterday. The next step is to submit the manuscript to the Critters workshop for critiquing. That was also DONE yesterday, after a little formatting for use in the workshop. The next step now is to wait until it works its way through the queue. This project suddenly drops in energy, there is not much I can do with it right now. So, I move on to the next project with the highest energy.

In this case, it is another short story. On Wednesday, the direction this story should take came to me in a little flash of insight, and so I am jazzed to get going on it. The next step is to take the insight and write out a short outline. I’m not good at writing outlines, but I feel the need for one now. 

It feels good to have a next thing to do. And since I am not trying to grasp the project globally I am not very overwhelmed. Writing a short outline is a small thing, so it’s something I can do without problem. Once that is DONE I will figure out what the next step is after that. And I suggest that the Project List/next step method could be a good way to approach cranking out a plot. I’m somewhat new at this, so what you’re reading is an up-to-the-minute report of what I am trying so I can focus on writing. If something else works for you, please feel free to comment below. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, keep cranking plot!

Categories: Uncategorized

A fine use of my time

May 14, 2009 Leave a comment

So, what have I been up to this a.m.?

After sending my Princess off with a good breakfast and lunch, I sat down to my short story and began keying in the changes to it I had been making on paper. After about 15 minutes, I’m halfway done. After the changes are done, I’m going to upload it to Critters and wait for some feedback. It goes into a queue and waits its turn. Critters feeds its critiquers a handful of stories each week, and so understandably it takes a while to get around to yours. After it’s uploaded, I’ll go to work on the next quickest job on my Project List.

A good use of my time today so far!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: