Summer Doldrums, redux

This year isn’t the health nightmare last year became, but I got thoroughly sidetracked back into fanfic again. This year has its own challenges, a home remodel stalled, sans materials and helpers, plus an employee issue that just won’t settle. I’ve also discovered that your GP retiring can make for a real mess in fining a new doctor if your HMO likes to count the same ten doctors four times when they brag of having five hundred. And neonatal were not marked as such.

Really, this year isn’t a nightmare.

Do you believe that?

I am close to finishing the one fanfic, and I want to shift that time to original fiction again. The other is only halfway through, tho most has been drafted. I haven’t decided if I will resume short fic or restart revising a novel. Also, do I want to do NaNo this year? It’s only a month, but I have too many unrevised NaNos already.

wiu?

Earlier this week those keys on my laptop keyboard started skipping. Sometimes for lower case, much more frequently for upper. But it doesn’t affect all the keys in the top row, doesn’t affect any other rows, doesn’t even affect the keys used most for a game. Qerw vs wiu.

this does make writing first person singular a challenge for essays, reader comments, and my fiction. Those things cover much of my time.

‘m running out of fixes: did the air/crumbs, check for keyboard updates, uninstall drivers, so it’s looking to be a hardware issue. replacing it and/or the laptop is not really possible.

Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?

After last year’s surgery prep, my muse for original fiction went bye-bye. I went back to fanfic, where I could do character studies, or explore alternate possibilities. One fanfic is winding down, and the other is being posted quickly because of the many chapters on hold.

Early today I had an idea to handle a problem, but I was dealing with stinky dogs and then messy me so I had nothign to write it on.

Now all I have is the memory that I had an idea… and that reeks.

You are the Author

Writing on a regular basis is a chaotic challenge. Just when chores and daily responsibilities can be cleared for an hour or two, up pops new problems like issues with both land-line and mobile phones that suck up your time. Ordering a replacement after some research and a quick pick-up clogged like an old artery. Shoving relatives out the door so you can write is frowned upon too. Whether and healthcare snafus add to the interruption package.

None of these help when your muse is being coy and revisions are a slow and aggravating, without even the reward of a shiny new sword skin for the grind in a game. So you trawl the nets for ideas and prompt generators to get your writing moving again.

The bonus digital broadcast channels are homes of some of the best old programming. Many of the old shows that I hadn’t seen in a long time, hold their humor better than I’d expect. I watch the episodes of the Carson Tonight show most days now. See stars in their prime, stars that are gone now can be bittersweet. Last weekend they swapped a show with Mohammad Ali after his death. A younger Betty White played Jane in a Tarzan sketch. You can see a very young Ellen, long before Finding Dory. A very few celebs that got zinged by the King of Late Night about their mistresses are still in the news… but now they are running for president. In some ways it’s sad how little has really changed since these 25-year old shows.

The funny thing is some of these are clever one liners that would make funny stories. The writing reference book shown in the clip is only the start of that business. There are many, many reference and how-to books. (some are very bad or counter-productive) When I was into that genre, I wanted to have a reference book on manners, culture, current events, and arts/fashion/music/books/dance/theater of a particular period. Even then, period romances already began to feel too much of the 20th century, now in the 21st the characters in 1820 almost act like they need their Mini to get to an event. The crowdsourced humor here in the Carson clip is better than some actual stories I’ve sampled.

Reflections on Editing

Wit

“Since brevity is the soul of wit / And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief…” Polonius, Shakespeare

I read a number of blogs, some professional, some philosophical, and some web strips. For some, the regular commentators have very good things to say. Others get muddled and run on and on circling but never getting to the point. (We’ll leave the nutty out. And wise-ass usually keep it brief) But I find that few opinion essays longer than maybe three paragraphs need to have compelling writing and direction to keep my attention.

That means I try to write the kinds of things I would want to read.

I started out reading and admiring Robert Heinlein, who said he wrote his first draft and recommended cutting away 20%. It took me months of my fanfic time to realize that wasn’t a good rule of thumb for me. My tendency under that rule was to be so concise that I only hinted at things. I didn’t want to over explain things as that insults the reader. I didn’t explain enough. Oh, my sentences and grammar were okay, but I left out too many descriptions too often. I don’t want my mystery or problem’s solution to be obvious, but the clues must be present. I want to play fair. So, to prevent saying too much, I said too little.

I still struggle with that in my fiction, but instead of cutting 20%, I usually add about 30% for descriptions, feelings, and showing things explicitly. In essays or comments, I try not to ramble. The old showbiz adage to always leave them wanting more applies outside showbiz too. You can’t convince anyone if you bore them.

Garnets to Opals, Necklace of Gems

What, then should a collection of gemmed necklaces be? A pirate’s treasure, of course.

cover of Necklace of Gems short story collection

Dig among within the treasure chest for the prettiest gems…

Another milestone! I’ve published my first dead tree book of fiction. This is a collection of my short fiction from 2015. I finished five collections, and themed each collection on gems for the cover art: garnet, amber, lapis, citrine, and opal. Don’t we all like something that’s shiny or sparkly? I always wanted to make the entire year available as one collection. A handful of stories at a time was not enough when I was having book binges before I wrote. I had a couple of requests for paperback editions of the earlier collections, but they’re much too short to be worth the physical copy overhead. This time you have the choice of ebook or paperback.

This paperback and ebook editions include all the stories in the five necklace collections, plus two extras. One was part of an invitational Advent project, and the other was specifically written to be a bonus for the 2015 collection. That makes thirty-seven tales of fantasy and science fiction in the Necklace of Gems collection. All are short, but some are part of a larger story, like the SF Curiosity Station.

And now it’s time to pick a new theme for my fiction collections for 2016, so I’ll try to make a good one…

And if you want to give my fic a try or don’t want to wait for the next omnibus, the smaller collections should do:

Earlier Collections:

Necklace of  Opals collection

Necklace of opals…

Necklace of Citrine collection cover

Necklace of Citrine

Necklaced of Lapis SF/F short stories

Necklace of Lapis

Necklace of Amber short story collection

Necklace of Amber

Necklace of Garnet short story collection

Necklace of Garnet