Tag Archives: reading

Short Story Week Multikill!

It’s short story week here at The Tenth Word once again. Yesterday, I finished the final, pre-copyedit revision of “A Descended Man” and submitted it to the NIWA board. I don’t know what it is, but despite the fact that I wrote it in literally five hours idea to end, it’s probably the best story I’ve ever written, and accommodating the revision ideas of two commenters took only twenty minutes or so. I didn’t even have to rewrite the end as I’d feared; I just needed to add a few paragraphs. Bam.

I spent this morning thinking about my rewrite for my as-yet-untitled “hopeful cyberpunk” story. Since the first draft was banged out pretty quickly, it’s not surprising that it’s going to require a total rewrite, but I think I laid a pretty solid foundation. Compared to a short story a year ago that might’ve taken six or seven rewrites until I was happy, this one might only be one or two. Sometimes it’s hard to think this way, but I am getting to be a better writer on both an instinctive and technical level.

This will be the last week of short stories, however. By next week, the beta readers will (hopefully! hopefully!) have some comments for Fugitives from Earth, and then I get to go into overdrive. In order to meet my hard deadline of mid-November, I need to do all of the rewriting in no more than 8 weeks. That’s a little intimidating.

What’s even more intimidating is the more technical aspects of releasing a book. I need to get an ISBN. I need to decide on a printer. I need to–deep breath–get a cover. Oh, and do the layout, find some way of getting it copyedited, and probably a million things I can’t even think of right now. Thankfully I’ve got NIWA around to answer at lot of my questions. Unfortunately, all of this is likely to cost money that I can’t really spend; a full professional copyedit can cost thousands. Hopefully, I can network a better solution.

Finally, I’ve been deeply engrossed in the audiobook version of Alfred Lansing’s famous 1959 book Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. It’s a very intimate chronicle of the men who took part in Ernest Shackleton’s failed 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition and the bitter privations they suffered over the next few years. I love the history of exploration; the vicarious thrills of any adventure story are always magnified when you know the story actually happened.

If you’re wondering why this isn’t on Goodreads yet, it’s because I’ve given up on Mira Grant’s Feed, and I’m loathe to admit it.

Anyway, I’ll get that fixed up and you can check it out later. Other than that, see you Friday at the latest.

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I Hear Words in the Air

Ahh, back from vacation and raring to go! Sorry for the delay between posts, but I was out of town and well out of internet range for a long weekend. Fresh air, a little snow and sunshine – it was awesome. Got a bunch of reading done, and almost no writing.

But I’m not too hung up on that. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about myself, it is this: I have a tendency to force myself to slog through an unpleasant situation, when all I have to do to make the situation more bearable is take a break. So I’ve been having a hard time on my novel. It’s getting to be wearisome and it feels like the end will never come. I needed a break bad.

So now, I’m ready to do again. The time issues I mentioned in my previous post are still there, and I’m still working through them, but I’m ready to start pushing again. Once I fall into the groove, I have no doubt that a lot of my little problems will fall by the wayside. They always do, so I’m going to just leave my oh-so-comfortable self-doubt module right now.

In other news, I have what may turn out to be my very first “writing gig.” I don’t think I ever mentioned it here, but I’m a member of a brand-new organization here in the Portland area: the Northwest Independent Writers Association. We’re a bunch of self-published (or, in my case, wanna-be) speculative fiction writers basically looking for collaboration and moral support. We meet monthly and online at our Google group (hint: check yonder link to the left).

Our first sort of collaboration is the production of an anthology of short stories written by the group’s members. The format and content are still out in the open, but it’s very likely that it’ll be used as a marketing tool for our other work at conventions and so forth. At the very least, demonstrating that I can write for others and to a deadline is highly marketable.

Good thing I have all this time to work on both projects. Oh, wait.

In other, totally unrelated news, I’ve been kind of into Warhammer 40K for the last week or so. I’ve never played the wargame or even read the rules, but the dystopian space fantasy setting is pretty much entirely within my wheelhouse. Also, Dan Abnett is an excellent writer and I’m sad that HBO will probably never make a war-themed miniseries about his Gaunt’s Ghosts series.

Finally, Tiny Wings is the new Angry Birds. I cannot stop playing it.

A Couple of Very Reasonable Books

As promised, I finished Mission of Gravity. You know how in old Warner Brother’s cartoons, Wile E. Coyote would fly off the edge of a cliff, keep running, and then suddenly realize that there was no ground beneath him? It was kind of like that. I was literally halfway through the first paragraph of the author’s bio when I realized that the story was over, and I had to flip back a page or two to see where it had actually ended. Turns out I missed it because it never happened.

I’m not sure if it’s a “written in the 1950’s” thing, or the author trying to make sort of point, or what, but the story doesn’t so much “end” as “stop”. The entire plot of the book is that humans are largely unable to survive on the high-gravity world of Mesklin, and require the services of the natives in order to retrieve scientific data from a crashed rocket. Throughout the story, there were two big promises to the reader that kept getting made over and over again:

1) We were going to find out whether the rocket still existed, and whether it was worth the arduous trip to retrieve it and its data.
2) The main Mesklinite character is planning some sort of betrayal of the human characters.

That betrayal actually happens, but the humans reasonably realize that they need the Mesklinites help, and the Mesklinite request is so reasonable (education in basic science; they’re a medieval society) that the scene is almost over before it starts. Their request is granted; end of subplot. Reasonable. Not exciting.

As for the main plot, everything seems to be building up for a climax. After a difficult, painful journey by land and sea halfway across the planet, the rocket is finally in sight. Special care has to be taken in getting the data out because of the high gravity, but things seem to be going well. The end. Seriously. It’s implied that the data is safe and will be useful for the humans, but come on. Throw in a couple more pages of payoff. I was seriously disappointed, especially since the setting was interesting and the plot actually had some decent stakes. Then the ending just throws it all down the toilet.

The other book I’ve been “reading” (I actually listened to it in podcast form) is Captain’s Share by Nathan Lowell. It’s the story of a brand new merchant captain being assigned to the worst ship in his fleet, and his efforts to reform its crew. Although it’s pretty soft as science fiction goes, it had a pretty detailed look at the way that commercial space travel would work in its setting. I’m of two minds regarding the story – on the one hand, Lowell has an interesting writing style and gives great voice to his characters, but on the other hand, the novel had no plot.

Seriously. Characters move around and change, but there’s no narrative arc, no climax, no rising action even. It’s all just beginning with part of a middle but no end. Even worse, the characters, though interesting, were altogether way too reasonable (detecting a theme yet?). Captain Wong marches in, sees the sorry state his ship and crew are in, takes steps to fix it, and all of his steps work. By the end of the book his crew loves him and each other, and his ship is making lots of money. Ta da!

Which is too bad, because I enjoyed the book overall. You might even say that I enjoyed it in spite of its demonstrable faults, and in spite of them I’m not going to call it a bad book. After all, it entertained me, right? It entertained me enough to want to go back to the first book in the series, for that matter. I just wish that there was a little less sugar and a little more meat to the story.

Oh, and I read the young adult novel The City of Ember in about two hours. Not bad, fun setting, but it’s no The Hunger Games. The people were more reasonable, though.