Things Happening Now: Shoot the WISB and Man of Steel

After a brief Twitter discussion with Paul Weimer, I've decided to move the Shoot the WISB segments over to The Skiffy and Fanty Show.  There are a few reasons for this, but the fact that this blog is, well, a blog is the most obvious of those reasons.

In any case, if you want to hear the latest episode, you can do so here.  Paul and I are joined by David Annandale and Michael Underwood to discuss Man of Steel!

Thanks for listening!

Poll: Would you watch or tune in to a live-writing event?

One of the interesting things I did with my friend Adam last year was a collaboration in which we more or less wrote a story live. While that story didn't pan out (still have it and think it's a wicked piece of work that we should one day finish -- Andy Remic would love it), it made me think about how I might use Google Docs to let people sneak a peak at my writing process. Google lets you share a document with anyone, and it shows updates more or less as they are happening.

Since I'm working on WISB-related stuff, I thought some of you might like to see me at work (and to see the rough drafts as they come into being).  I could select a time (maybe a daily time or something) and give the link out on my blog.  Even if you couldn't make it to the live event, you could still check in on the progress.

Would any of you be interested in this?  Let me know by clicking on the little poll.

Coming Soon: “Lendergross and Eaves”

Collecting all the votes I received on my blog and on Young Writers Online, it seems folks want to see "Lendergross and Eaves" first (following closely by "Suckled at the Edge of Flesh").  Cool beans.  That gives me some direction and focus.

And so, for your gentle reminder, here's the description (once more) of the upcoming WISB Short Story, "Lendergross and Eaves":
Set in the same city as the previous story, and in roughly the same era. 
The Anurians of Bifur live out their toad-like lives in the slums, eking out an existence while the city finds new ways to exploit them. Except for Terk. He's cornered the Eaves market, pushing illicit drugs as high as the elite circles. That is until someone important is murdered with Terk's calling card all over him. Except Terk doesn't kill people. Maims? Sure. But never kills. Which means someone is trying to set him up to ruin him. Unless he can figure out who's behind it all and clear his name. Well, mostly clear his name, that is...
I shall finish it soon!

WISB Shorts: Which do you want first?

I'm starting up the WISB Project again.  This year, I am going to finish it.  Through and through.  That means four new short stories set in Traea, and a full novel podcast, with an ebook release.  And to make up for life's complexities, I will give anyone who donated $5 or more a copy of the ebook for The World in the Satin Bag (and the deal applies to anyone else who decides to donate in the future).  I won't be pushing for donations this time, around, though.  Donate if you want.  All I really want is to hear from people.  If you like a story, or a chapter, leave a comment.

But for now, I need some direction.  I have four short stories in the works for the project, ranging from pre-WISB eras to distant futures (though still very much in the realm of fantasy).  Based on the following descriptions, which would you want to read first?  You can leave extended answers in the comments, if you are so inclined.

Here goes:

"Suckled at the Edge of Flesh"
A prequel to The World in the Satin Bag.

Fagan Tarceron rides the seas to map the unknown stretches beyond the shores of Elithae and the Black Gap.  But when the many ships under his lord's command discover a massive continent covered in abandoned cities, Fagan knows they should turn around before it's too late.  What could empty entire cities without leaving a trace?  The real question:  Is it worth finding out?

The Girl Who Flew on a Whale
Set several hundred years after the events that take place in The World in the Satin Bag.

In the long-forgotten city of Arlin, the Dreamer imagines riding the seas and the skies, having grand adventures with brigands and pirates and all manner of strange creatures.  Most of all, she dreams of the flying whales who have become the great myths and legends of the sailors and seafolk at the edge of the long-forgotten city of Arlin.

But the Dreamer is a young lady.  She's destined for courts and finishing schools and all manner of obscure tortures her mother can dream up.  And when the Royal Archbombasin of Cagerock convinces the Dreamer's mother to send her to his special school for special children, where it is rumored that he feasts upon young flesh, the Dreamer can take no more, fleeing into the city to discover the adventures she's always dreamed of...

(Probably more like a middle-grade novel, to be honest.)

"Murder in Hodgepodge Alley" 
Set in a pre-industrial city several hundred years or so after the events of The Girl Who Flew on a Whale.

Harper is one of the many who occupy the winding alley of monstrous houses and board-bridges called Magpie City.  One of the Prolet.  The lesser folk.  Life isn't terribly hard there.  They have food.  They have water.  And they can build up and up and up almost without limitation.  But the city of Bifur does have its limits, with strict security forces to keep those limits enforced.  When Harper finds the body of a member of a royal house, he knows that things will not go well for Hodgepodge Alley or the residents of Magpie City.  Not well at all...

"Lendergross and Eaves"
Set in the same city as the previous story, and in roughly the same era.

The Anurians of Bifur live out their toad-like lives in the slums, eking out an existence while the city finds new ways to exploit them.  Except for Terk.  He's cornered the Eaves market, pushing illicit drugs as high as the elite circles.  That is until someone important is murdered with Terk's calling card all over him.  Except Terk doesn't kill people.  Maims?  Sure.  But never kills.  Which means someone is trying to set him up to ruin him.  Unless he can figure out who's behind it all and clear his name.  Well, mostly clear his name, that is...



Have at it, folks!

The Video You’ve All Been (Not) Waiting For (a.k.a. That WISB Thing)

You all remember how I promised to make a video of me doing embarrassing crap?  No?  Oh.  That's depressing.

Wait, you were just messing with me?  That's nice of you...

In any case, that video is now made, with a lot of additional nonsense.  Why?  Because I was later than late on making it, and then a series of technological problems prevented me from doing it.  But a promise is a promise, and now it's here for your amusement.

For the record, you will find the following in the video:
  • The Electric Slide (performed poorly, of course)
  • Peanut Butter Jelly Time (somewhat quietly displayed due to me being a nice person)
  • The Truffle Shuffle (performed a little too well for my comfort...)
You will also find me doing silly crap and one particularly amusing geek reference.  If you know the reference, leave a comment!

So here you go:

Feel free to share it.  You know you want to!

Update:  Some folks have said they are having issues using the above video.  Below you should find a YouTube version for your amusement.  Thanks!

No YouTube version after all.  The copyright bastards swarmed in and deleted all the audio simply because I used part of a song, despite giving it proper attribution.  So...I deleted the video and will never upload anything there again.  To those that had issues using the Blogger video above:  sorry.  I tried to provide an alternative, but the pricks at the music companies have apparently neutered YouTube.  Post a song with music in it and they'll cut the audio out.  Meh.  It's crap like this that contributes to piracy.

WISB Podcast: Triple My Embarrassment By Picking a Third Dance

I've already apologized for putting off a lot of things I promised.  One of those things was the dance(s) I said I'd do if I reached my funding goal (over a month ago).  Since I met that goal, I'm required to provide a video of me performing Peanut Butter Jelly Time and the Truffle Shuffle.  But then my laptop died, taking with it my webcam and my only method for making those videos...

That barrier has now been solved.  I went ahead and bought one from the store.  It's a pretty good one, too (for the money).  Which leads me to the point of this post:

In order to "pay you all back" for making you wait so extraordinarily long for an embarrassing video, I've decided to let you all select a third dance for me to do on camera.  It can be anything, so long as I can reasonably do it (or look funny trying) and it's not vulgar (sorry, I'm not taking my pants off or anything like that).

What would you have me do?

A Short Story Wants to Get Away From Me

Earlier this week, I started writing a short story entitled "The Girl Who Flew on a Whale" as part of my WISB Podcast project.  The story, as my friend Adam Callaway remarked, is a whimsical fantasy for young readers (chapbook level).  I've always wanted to write a story like this.  They're fun to read and the current venture has been fun to write.  But one of the issues I've had is the tug in my mind to turn this short story into a much larger project.

"The Girl Who Flew on a Whale" is about a young girl who lives in a semi-Victorian-era town on the continent of Traea (many centuries after the events of The World in the Satin Bag).  Her mother wants to prune her for the aristocracy, while the little girl, affectionately called the Dreamer, wants nothing to do with that world -- rather, as her name implies, she dreams of the legends and myths of her world, wondering and wishing some of them are true.  The conflict is one that I'm sure has been seen many times before, but it is also a conflict that is close to my heart.  I don't have children, but know that when I have them, I'll do everything I can to foster their creativity.
Because children who have their dreams crushed are children who lose the very thing that makes the world grow:  creativity and innovation.  We need dreamers today more than we ever did before.  "The Girl Who Flew on a Whale" is partly about that conflict, but I've set it in a fantasy world (with plenty of whimsy) to get the message across via an adventure.

And that's where the issues arise.  The story is begging me to expand the narrative I have already started.  It's begging me to bring in swashbuckling pirates and strange creatures and wonderful magic and all sorts of silly and beautiful things.  Many of these I'll put into the story anyway, but the grand adventure my mind is trying to imagine won't fit into a short story or novelette.  I'm having to keep those things at bay while I write a more manageable tale (and one that I can actually read in a single sitting for the podcasted version I promised everyone).

Something I've been thinking of doing is providing the short version and then expanding it into a proper chapbook.  I know many writers have done things like this (writing novel versions of shorts they wrote a long time ago).  But is it as common today as it was in the old days of SF/F?  I can't think of many contemporary examples.

I bring all of this up because I'm curious about some things:

  • How do you go about keeping a story under control?  Or do you throw your hands up and give it what it wants?
  • Do novel versions of short stories work for readers?  Do you enjoy reading those kinds of stories?
What do you think?

-----------------------------------------------------------

P.S.:  I actually already have cover art for this story, which is amazing.  My lady has been working on artwork for me (not because I asked, but because she's freaking amazing).  I'll share such things later.  Maybe I'll even do a special illustrated edition of the short story.  That would be cool, no?

P.S.S.:  The inspiration for "The Girl Who Flew on a Whale" came from the following image:


WISB Podcast: Chapter Fifteen (The Golden Path and Silhouettes)

The next chapter is finally up.  "The Golden Path and Silhouettes" continues James' journey to Arnur as he and his companions attempt to escape Luthien's forces and survive the unexpected terrors of a world gone mad.  Now they have to find the Golden Path, which will lead them safely to Arnur.  Some things, however, aren't easily found...

Chapter Fourteen -- Download (MP3)

Thanks for listening.  Please give WISB a review on iTunes!

There's an extended apology at the end of the episode (in case you're wondering why it is so late).  The short of it is:  school (as expected), more surgery (unexpected), and...yeah.

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  Plenty of free things are available, from ebooks, paperbacks, random letters from me, and even a character written about you into the world of WISB. Please consider donating!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)

The Status — A Very Long Summer and the WISB Funding Update

Two things:

1.  The Lizards and Financial Mumbo Jumbo
The last couple weeks have contributed tremendously to my long history of garbage-ness.  I had to have one of my lizards (Taj) put down, today marks the day when my other lizard is expected to go into surgery (Noodles), and so on.  Emotionally, I'm in one of those "well, life kinda sucks, but at least I woke up today" moods.  Such events also have other ramifications -- namely, financial ones (my vet has been very kind to me and allowed me to defer payments on some things; they've also reduced the cost of some of the bills when they didn't have to -- but cremation services and the like have still put a strain on my financials).  I've got about $5 until next Friday, which I hope will
be a large paycheck, because I really don't need any more small ones; the first was pitiful considering that most grad students have nothing to work with over the summer.  I've never understood why the University of Florida pushes back the payment process by several weeks so that you don't get paid properly until a month into your teaching job, followed by a month or so of left over payments that they might as well have made during the semester.  It's the most bizarre payment scheme imaginable, and it causes a lot of grad students a lot of stress, since their financial situation prior to arriving here didn't exactly make the transition easy.  We start poor, we stay poor, and re-orienting the bills doesn't exactly change this cycle...

In any case, that's sort of where I'm at.  I'm sitting here, in my apartment, hoping that when the phone rings I don't end up with a "so, he passed away during surgery" call.  And I'm worried about whether what I have in my cupboard can keep me fed, or if some strange charge will throw me in the negative on my bank account, and so on.

This must be what real life feels like.  I don't like it.  But I've learned a life lesson, which is one I won't forget any time soon.  I'll be better prepared next year.

2.  The Funding Project (The World in the Satin Bag and "the Status")
In other news, since I'm rambling a bit here, I'd like to let you all know that I will be making a video of myself doing embarrassing things, as per our public agreement for reaching my funding goal of $1,000.  You can still donate to the project if you'd like; I will honor the original fundraising scheme I set up here, so any donations will still earn you free stuff.  I intend to spend the next week practicing, because I want to be really good at the Truffle Shuffle and Peanut Butter Jelly Time before I record myself doing it.  This means I have to watch The Goonies and stare at every rendition of PBJT available on YouTube over the next few days.

I want to thank everyone who donated, even if you only gave me a few bucks.  You helped me a lot during a difficult time and I appreciate that.  I've got all sorts of other things in works, such as stories with characters based on folks who donated, and the editing process is still underway.  Once I finish this next edit (and then one more major pass with a friend), I will get the ebook compiled and sent to everyone who donated $10 or more.  My hope is to have all of these things done before my birthday (Oct. 6th), and at the very least, in the event that I get run over by a bus or aliens abduct me and put me behind, it will be finished before the year is out.  If the project is delayed until the end of the year, I will make up for it by doing something more for you all (free fiction, another embarrassing video, or whatever you'd like).  I don't want it to be delayed that far out, but life has been giving me whatever the hell it wants at the moment, so it's always possible.

Anywho!  Have a good one!

WISB Podcast: Chapter Fourteen (The End of the Beginning)

The chapter is late and I'm feeling like crap about it.  Life is not being kind to me as of late, what with having to put one of my leopard geckos down, starting up school and teaching, and other similar issues.  But it's here and I'm going to get my crap together and put myself on a regular schedule.

The fourteenth chapter finds James and his companions (Pea and Darl) at the far edges of Arlin City, inches from escaping.  But escaping weights heavily upon James...and I'll leave it at that so you'll have something to look forward to!

Chapter Fourteen -- Download (MP3)

Thanks for listening.  Please give WISB a review on iTunes!

(Don't forget to check out what I've done to sweeten the pot for anyone who donates to the project.  Plenty of free things are available, from ebooks, paperbacks, random letters from me, and even a character written about you into the world of WISB. Please consider donating!)

(All podcast chapters will be listed on the Podcast page.)