Category Archives: Fiction

Going on the Account: Re-publish or…

So, I was considering how to do this.

 

I have some stuff I have/can/have to bring back, thanks to the way things shook out.  Long story, one I’m saving for later, but anyways-

 

Because there’s a music element tied to this,  my first thought was to look at traditional release dates for when music would drop, which used to be Tuesdays.  Then it became Fridays as of about 2010, when things became a bit more organized.

 

And now, thanks to Beyonce and Radiohead, the new drop date for music is more like, “Eh, ya gotta guess…”

 

Which, hey, I’m fine with, so… watch the skies, as they used to say…

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Going on the Account: What a Sick Dude

It could be all the antibiotics I’ve been taking this week talking, but I want to revisit some of my old plague fiction.

If I were a bit more subject to assigning purpose to an event’s timing, I’d say my bronchial misadventures this week were Nature’s way of asking me to look outside my normal wheelhouse.  All the coughing, the two-hour-a-night sleeping sessions with nothing to show from those overnight experiences except for a large plastic grocery bag fulled with mucus-encrusted tissues, the multiple visits to the doctors before I was prescribed something where drink plenty of fluids should not mean rum-and-cokes (or in my case rum-and-diet colas, or “R&Ds”) once I started on those, all the time in the world before me but unable to do any writing because of the hacking wheezes every few minutes…

Stuff like that can color your perspective.

Once upon a time, I wrote a few pieces to share in a writer’s group I was in; the first comment I got was, “Congrats on re-writing The Stand.” Not sure if he was kidding, thought it was a compliment, or why he chose that comparison over Camus’ The Plague, but any event, the comment stuck.  And I suppose other than pirates, sickness has been been a go-to point I’ve had for a lot of my stuff.

In fact, I did between fits of blowing my nose think about something that manages to combine the two, along with a few other elements.  It’s not high on the list right now, it’s very preliminary, but it’s something that may get a little more attention when I hit a few walls and want a break on some stuff.

Right now, it’s good to be able to say that I tried to write something and got this produced.  For the first time in a week, I got to run my fingers over the keys, without having to then interrupt myself to get a Kleenex to wipe up the snot that I just spewed all over the screen.  Keep this up, I may be able to call myself productive in ways that don’t involve bodily fluids…

Now, where’s those pills marked with letters that scream DO NOT TAKE WITH ALCOHOL…?

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Going On the Account: The Horror, the Horror…

I was asked by REBEAT Magazine about my favorite horror film-

 

OK, why would they ask me?  Part of that comes from having started doing some work with them; I’ve already had a piece published with them about looking at The Prisoner today in the wake of the establishment of the surveillance state, and I’ve got another piece they’re considering.  If something happens with that one, I’ll let you know.

 

In any event, I ended up getting asked to contribute to a pick of John Lennon solo songs, and I guess I didn’t make that bad an appearance there, hence the new offer.

 

So while there, I sung the praises of the first Universal Dracula, both versions, knowing full well that that just ain’t gonna cover it all.

Truth is, I like a lot of horror films.

I happen more so to like the genre as a whole.

Why?  It’s not so much the conventions of the form that keep me coming back.  There are certain things you need to make a horror film, and once you have seen enough of them you start noting the seams the way a tailor judges a suit:

Victims: check; division between the ones going to make it to the end versus the expendables, set.  Threat: good, that’s in place.  Category, we, got that; and setting, yeah, let’s go back and look…   Ooo-kay, this should work…

And it’s easy to get jaded about what you could find in the genre.  There can seem to be a lot of bloat in the field, much like you find in SF, and can easily find in mysteries, Westerns, Rom Coms…

So what’s the draw?  How about the fact that we can use horror to approach a subject at an angle that we either can’t yet or never could look at head-on?

Had there been more room to go on, the article could have brought up how Dracula was the perfect embodiment of our fears of the other, especially an other that represented the rich as the Depression deepened.  We couldn’t root for bankers to be killed on screen, but this foreigner buying ruins just next door, well…  Likewise, out of the main source, Stoker couldn’t discuss feminine self-determination or the rise of foreign challenges to the Empire without the Count to wrap his cape over the points.

With more room, attention could be given to the Frankenstein monster, our fear of science getting out of hand, realized with pieces of corpses butchered so soon after the carnage of the First World War cost millions their limbs.  Whale’s version of Shelly’s tale shared many of the same concerns, especially the dangers of not keep track of your soul as you pursue ultimate knowledge.

Going on, there would have been discussions of vampires in general being the evil we invite to come for us, whether we’re weak or just easily flattered.  The lycanthrope, and whether that werewolf we could become is as easily kept at bay as we imagine, or if the line between human and beast is not that strong after all.  The kaiju rising up to destroy our cities, making us pay for our nuclear proliferation and environmental mismanagement.  And if the big monster doesn’t come after us because we can’t clean up the environment, there’s that zombie horde over the hill.  And maybe our inability to connect with each other in a meaningful manner, our lack of humanity, makes us deserve the slasher in a mask with a chainsaw waiting for us.

Even the Hostel films offer their observations; when we see college kids being slaughtered by the highest bidder, we get to confront our xenophobia and feelings about rendition as part of the War on Terror getting together like two drunk guests at a Halloween party getting locked in the closet, getting it on hot and heavy.  And the Purge series gives us a chance to imagine economic inequity taken to levels Fritz Lang only hinted at in Metropolis.

In the end, we scare ourselves, or allow ourselves to be scared, because that’s actually a more comforting place to deal with the deeper flaws of our existence than reality allows.  We need to be in fear because we otherwise might never allow ourselves to be aware of what’s wrong.

And unfortunately, we put down the book, leave the theater, shut off the TV/iPad, and allow ourselves to leave the state of awareness we’re in, and instead of doing something to address what scared us, let it build up again.  Maybe it resolves itself, or it resolves us; more often than not we just adjust and await the next threat to metastasize, let it become enough of a worry to take the form of a monster in the next horror.

 

And it’s that, the ability to just shut it off after we finish looking at and poking what it is that scares us; that’s the part that actually scares me…

 

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Going On The Account: IRL

IRL

Standard reading of this acronym is “In Real Life” which for some reason is not that comforting, because if this is reality, why bother?

A line that would have probably gotten more of a laugh earlier before the artist that gave us Reality: What A Concept hadn’t decided that the concept of reality was too flawed and left us quickly…

So my reaction to this reality is to be stubborn ol’ SOB and face it, which makes me what?  A survivor?  A decent person?  Someone who loves getting the crap beaten out of him?  All of the above, or some mix-n-match thereby?

And is radio silence the best option?  Even before having someone better known than you fall to the forces you deal with a lot-

Oh do NOT give me that look!  Have you ever known a writer who wasn’t depressed?  What do you think happens when we get get blessed by our insights?  When you have the chance to inhabit a new skin, see a whole new history, go beyond the horizon, what the hell do you think happens?  How do you keep them down on the Community after they’ve slipped acid with the Giver?  Which the way my luck is going, is probably going to happen years before I come close to Paree’…

So even before the whole death of Robin Williams made many of us ask each other if we’re really all right, some of us doing a better job of looking at ourselves than others, there was plenty to make us keep our tongues.  Right before this unpleasantness, there was the raging battle between two desperate forces wishing the other side would just submit and do what they wanted, and f’em if they wanted a say in their fate.

Yes, I too was caught up in the Hachette-Amazon feud.  As a Kindle Direct Author-

And no, I will not ask if you bought the last book I did; that would be waaaay too crass…

But ANYways:  As someone who published with Kindle Direct, I was asked directly by Amazon to send off a nasty email to Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch, probably to offset the emails Authors United asked the fans of the 900 scribes who signed on were asking their fans to send to Jeff Bezos.

Metrics war, anyone?  Another contest to be decided by measuring in inches…?

And get your minds out of the gutters; I was thinking football at that moment…

So how am I supposed to react to Amazon asking me to do something kinda creepy (and misreading George Orwell in the process) against a brick-and-mortar publisher that  have damned little sympathy for in the first place?

Picture this:  You’re a kid, between the age of seven and ten, who comes home one day after school.  Mom and Dad are showing signs of a nasty, horrible fight, scars on their faces, every f’n’ possession in the house broken/scarred in some way.  They come before you in unison, saying that the house is going to be abandoned that night, that everything I knew was now no longer possible, and I have to choose which parent I’m going to leave this place with forever, abandoning my home while casting my fate with only one parent.

And when I ask them what’s waiting for me in the future, they reply in unison, “You have to trust us.”

Yeah, that’s comforting…

Which brings me back to what prompted this mea lameo culpa as to why I haven’t written anything for you to ignore:  IRL.  The acronym that damns me as I question it:  Must this reality be what defines me?  Did I somehow get the blue pill by mistake?

Honestly, keep up with the damn references;  do I really have to do hotlinks to everything now?  It’s not like I’m throwing Schopenhauer at you; I stopped doing that when I left college; Gods almighty…

If the R in the acronym, “real,” is the main issue, maybe it’s a matter of finding a new reality for those hateful three letters:

IRL = It’s Really Lousy

Which is too damn close to the original sensation, so…

IRL = I’m Rather Lazy

Which might be a good summation as to why we have radio silence, except it doesn’t feel like I’ve done nothing; it only looks like I haven’t, which brings us back to hidden weights and traumas noted above, so…

IRL = Ich Reche Leben

I revenge life; I stand for the living and will f’ you up badly if you stand against living.  And I mean living at all levels, unlike some folk who think a fetus has rights over everyone until they are born, at which point the kid’s screwed on this side of the womb.

And if I go that route, I show that my German is still sheisse despite my best half-efforts…

IRL = In Reginae Labia

Which is Latin for queens with large lips; not as controversial as some topics, but maybe waaaay  too personal, so…

IRL = Im Lag Righin

Which means in Gaelic, “stiff weak butter,” because f’ all else if that’s what we have to worry about now…

It also means that yes, the Gaelic studies have started, so that means for those I’ve shared some Deep Dark Matters with that that project is being a’born; and if you want to know what all that entails, I have to find some less humblebrag-prone version of Paetron to build a cult around to disseminate the details through…

(And trust me, there are a few Paetron support efforts out there that come damn close to resembling cults for the Lovecraftian gods, which of course means another damn hotlink…)

IRL = I’m Really Laughing

Even if I’m not, it’s a good note to end on, so-

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Going On The Account: Living the Drea- I Mean, Nightmare…

It’s been a little while, I admit. A large part of that is because of the work on a new large piece that’s going to go up in the fall, for which I’m doing a lot of world building.  It takes up a lot of time, as I’m putting this a good deal of the way into the future and needed to go into creating a lot of details that aren’t readily accessible in historical accounts or projectable a few years out.

 

I did have to take some time with the last work to build a likely scenario as to what the world might be like as climate change came to the fore.  I had to consider what might happen in a time that had the chance of not taking place until I was long gone from the Earth’s surface.

 

Though as of today, I have the means of fact checking the new climate a lot more easily than I imagined…

As of today, as you might have heard from a few news sources, like say here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, we are officially into a changed climate according to the National Climate Assessment.  The graphic from above comes from the report, where you can also find much more detailed assessments on a sector-by-sector and region-by-region breakdown as to how we are breaking down.

Which is a little scary in that there’s every chance that what got covered in that piece will be validated by the National Climate Assessment, which is not something I think I can smile about, really…

 

I mean, what if what’s going on is more than just disciplined assessment skills and mad-crazy projection affinity?  What if there’s something else going  on like… something supernatural…?
So for the new piece, I may have to imagine Free Ice Cream Days, unlimited WiFi worldwide, and judgement-free hook-ups going down like something out of Logan’s Run that we can all enjoy.

Yeah, gotta make it up to everyone for messin’ up the world the last time…

And even if you consider that the novel may be dead (perish the thought!) and that discussing the work at the House of Zuck is pointless (not so perishable a thought that one), that doesn’t release me from it.  Not like I can just avoid writing the next piece and try and fix the mess  left you all in; I think Rabbi Tarfon might have an issue with that…

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Going On The Account: Seats Are Limited; Book Your Trip to Titan Now!

One more reminder that the online auction for the PTA of HSAS is running through March 30th.

They have up for bid such premiums as tow tickets to THE COLBERT REPORT, tickets to Yankees’ Old Timer Day, a tour of the Apollo Theater, a SCUBA diving course, and two hours of live flute and violin for your next party.

 

And, as well, a chance to name a character in my upcoming novella:

 

Bids are accepted here, and the funds will go to a good cause, no matter what you bid on.  Even if you pass on the chance to be part of the work, don’t pass on this auction!

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Going On The Account: Signing Up for the Space Program

And here’s where the big announcement come in:

I mentioned before that I’m working on a new piece to go online, and I did throw in that I was giving readers the chance to name a character.

And here’s your chance, in return for you support of a good cause:  the PTA at  the High School of American Studies at Lehman College (the school where, full disclosure, my son is a student) is currently holding their fundraising auction for the year.  The online portion of the auction is open to the general public.  The money being raisedgoes to supporting the school and the students with both academic and extracurricular activities.  Wherever the New York City Board of Education comes up short, it’s the PTA’s task to keep things going, something lots of parents with kids in schools all over can relate to.

This year, a number of items have been donated that are well worth bidding on.  Tickets to sporting events, tickets to concerts and shows, profssionals who have volunteered their valuable time and services, all offered on behalf of supporting the school.

 

And, amid all these fine products are naming rights to a character in Log of the Ceres:

Naming Rights to a Character in an Upcoming Work of Fiction

Item Number  46

Item Description

 Winner will have the right to provide a name (their own, or the name of an immediate family member) for a character in an upcoming work of fiction that will go live online in 2014. Said character will have a substantial role in the upcoming online novella by James Ryan, The Log of the Ceres (tentative title), author of Raging Gail and Red Jenny And The Pirates Of Buffalo, equivalent to an extended walk-on role in an NYU Film School student project. Character will not be depicted in a degrading manner and behave classily, which may sound boring but assures that this person will live to see the end of the work.

 

Bidding for this is currently open (along with plenty of other items), and will be online through March 30th.  Even if being part of the novella is not your thing, there are plenty of other items there that are worth going for, and all your purchases will help support the school and the kids.

And who knows, if you did have an interest, as the Pet Shop Boys might point out:

I’ve got the slot

You’ve got the cash

Let’s make charity lit…

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Going On The Account: Semper Fideles Quaniam Tempum…

I’m taking a little break between working on the new project and a few side pieces; I need to take a break as both the bigger piece and one of the smaller ones call upon my arcane knowledge in the dark arts of filking, and I’m starting to confuse the tune of one piece used with another, which is never a good thing…

In any event, as I killed time trolled sites surfed the Internet caught up on the news, I came across Brian Merchant’s assessment over at Motherboard of the US Department of Defense’s 2014 Quadrennial Review that discusses their planning for climate change.  To sum up what Brian points out, the effects of a changing climate cannot be ignored, and must be part of the strategic planning going forward.

Which is not entirely new over at the Pentagon.  The Schwartz-Randall report from October 2003 has been passed around over there for at least a decade. I have noted more than once that this report was the basis for Red Jenny, and to some extent the 2014 Quadrennial Review is proof positive that some of the suppositions in the novel involving the use of a military solution to the issue may actually be considered in future.  Granted, the new report is less bellicose in tone than the one issued 11 years ago, but administrations change, and a more desperate government anxious to grasp at such straws may well go that route.

The old cry, “May you live in interesting times,” is becoming more of a certainty as the heat trapping element particulate count rises in our atmosphere…

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Going On The Account: Setting Sail Again

Forgive my crabbiness if you ran into me on the street and I snarled if you tried to draw my attention.  If you have something to tell me, I’m in a better place to listen now.  And if you were asking me to come out for a round, gimme a sec to grab my coat-

 

I’ve been doing some prep work on a new project.  It’s got people on a ship, like the last two did, and may have some folks with at least sympathies for pirates.  Beyond that, well…

Actually, let me let this give you a taste for what to expect…

 

I’m going to leave this here for now, as there’s still a little time between now and going live, during which a few details need to be worked out.

 

Including the name of a character, which you may have input with; more on that soon…

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Going On The Account: Where the Rims Meet the Potholes in the Road

Now I know how some other writers feel when their speculations get the crap beaten out of them by reality.

 

There are lots of writers who’ve written about civilizations on Mars, war with the Soviet Union, and other things that you look back on later and wonder what you would say to justify that after the fact.  Lines like, “Wow, I had a lot to drink/snort/shoot in those days,” come up with some of them, as does, “But the data seemed so solid,” as well as “It was metaphorical, yeah, that’s it,” or “Oh c’mon, you thought A Flock of Seagulls was a good band back then too, and you know it!”

 

All right, maybe it’s only me that uses that last one…

 

But there’s no denying that you finish the work, you have it there for everyone to see, and something happens later that makes you realize that you might have missed something.

 

In my case, it was conveying the right aspects of the digital divide in Red Jenny.

 

I think it was the idea that connectivity was so ubiquitous and rolling out so far so fast, that just about everyone would have some level of connectivity, which is a safe assumption.  If anything, the idea of non-connectivity, of being totally separated out from the wider world, was just not given as strong a look compared to shifting climate making enemies of neighbors.

 

Which made “Life on the Other Side of the Digital Divide” by D. Watkins on Motherboard a big whack-to-the-head moment.  The depictions of the effects in this day and age of the divide between those with connectivity and those without went far beyond where I was with the novel.

 

Even accounting for the concept of connectivity transitioning from a service to a utility taking place and Moore’s Law producing a corollary that the computing power you need becomes affordable given time, the scene where Shaun produces a tablet mapping Lake Erie comes off a bit too “first world” after reading Watkins’ piece today.

 

I’d like to hope that next time aspects like these won’t get lost.  I ultimately don’t have a real good defense of this blind spot, other than being so engaged with all that metaphor while pouring over all that solid data over as I drank all those rum drinks.

 

And listening to so much A Flock of Seagulls…

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Going On The Account: Pulling Into Port

And sometimes, the ship you’re looking for comes in to where you are…

Over the weekend, I referred someone to a post where I linked to my first appearance on Hour of the Wolf.  I was proud of that stand, especially as it was the first time I shared with a wide audience my reading of “Act Naturally,” a story that with the 50th anniversary of both DOCTOR WHO and Beatlemania upon us seemed especially resonant these days.

To my embarrassment, however, WBAI purged the archives of the piece.  Which is their right, especially in these days where bandwidth is so precious and the ability to provide online traffic becoming as valuable as an air pocket in a sinking boat, so I get that.

Well, I did get that, after a string of blue curses, apologies to the person I was trying to refer the piece to, and a few jiggers of rum to try and treat my depression.  Rum’s good for a lot of things, but it tends to lack in the treating of depression induced by first world problems…

Still, better I was collected come the end of the weekend, when I wrote Jim Freund, host of Hour of the Wolf to see what consolation he could offer.  Least he could do, I figured, was explain the station’s policy and keep me from feeling like this was personal.

Yeah, I’m a bit of a prima dona that way…

And to my surprise, he forwarded me the download of the show, making it resident right here for all time*:

*Offer not valid in the event of FCC losing net neutrality battle, EMP-pulse (man-made or natural) frying the World Wide Web, any major act of force majeure, or general hosting issues arising between me and WordPress

My thanks to Jim for forwarding the file and allowing me to host it here.

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Going On The Account: Perish? No, The Other One…

Uh, yeah, it’s been a little while…

 

I suppose I could make up some lame excuse  as to why I haven’t been over here in a month:

* The holidays took up all my time.

* I’m deeply enmeshed in following the NFL playoffs.

* I was still very wrapped up in all the 50th anniversary for Doctor Who hoopla

* I was frozen in place thanks to the arctic vortex like one of the 76 runners Box received before Logan-5 showed up:

 

* I was until today in the last car still stuck in Fort Lee after the GWB was closed by Bridget Anne Kelly (acting alone, supposedly…); it was so bad I only just got into Manhattan

 

I could say that, or I could say the truth:

* I focused on writing and placing some professional sales

 

I know I’ve discussed in an interview with Susan Rocan my thoughts concerning getting a publishing contract, and I still have core concerns about the publishing model as it now exists.

 

For long forms.

 

In terms of short pieces, though, I wanted to take another crack at that.  Why?

 

* To test myself; having spent close to around 120,000 words to discuss Hope Harvey in Raging Gail, and in the neighborhood of 72,000 on Jennifer DiNapoli in Red Jenny,  I wanted to see whether I can still talk about someone else using 5,000 words or less

* To go back and work in this form again; I started in writing with short fiction, and haven’t had to work within the limits imposed in needing to be that succinct and exact in years, so I needed to refresh that

* To validate myself to me; there’s no one to stop you from going online and publishing your own work, but there’s also no one to pat you on the head when it’s ready to be read, and no matter how good I may get it’d be nice to have someone agree with me about how good a piece is before it hits the wires

 

Am I that self-conscious?  Asking someone who writes if they’re self-conscious is like asking someone in Buffalo if they’d love a few days in the middle of February down in Key West…

I won’t even bring up the economic question, as rates for short fiction don’t seem to have gone up much since the last time I sold a piece; insert joke about what writers make here…

Actually, screw that; in fact, what helped get me back here was seeing Jim C. Hines’ post about his writing earnings for 2013.  In addition to being a great writer and advocate for those segments of genre readers and writers who don’t get the respect they’re entitled to, he did us all a great service in providing hard real numbers with year-to-year comparatives.  Because numbers can discuss performance with precision, and offer comparative data and accompanying insight, this was invaluable at this point for me.

As right now I have comparative numbers of my own relating to my short fiction endeavors that are much less impressive.

There’s very little to show at the moment since I went back into short forms.  Like zero.  Zilch.  Nicht.  Goose egg.  Nada.  Scott-Norwood-hard-to-starboard kind of results.  Which could be interpreted very badly by people with hard bottom lines and little patience.

Yet, Jim’s listing does include a chart showing year-to-year income, with data tracking starting with 2002.  He also notes in the body of the findings that he started writing in 1995, which means there’s a seven year gap between the start of his efforts and when he has data to report on results.

So coming back into short fiction may take a little while for me, probably.  It’s not going to happen soon, unless I sell my soul to some dark force from the Nether-realms who’s owed a favor by someone at CAA.

Or use the algorithms for best sellers discovered by researchers at Stony Brook University.  A little editing of the manuscript with these keywords at hand ready to insert into the work, and everyone can write a bestseller.

At which point, the average advance for a novel goes down to about $75 apiece, but hey, laws of the market and what not…

Which means a large number of those books not earning money today will result in poor writers discussing their lack of income from that ten years hence if the research done in Britain on the “economic misery index” in fiction holds up…

You’d think with all the science just applied to writing, there’d be a lot more certainty in this business, but no; it’s still the same heap o’ chaos it’s always been.  And until I crack that code (or my head on the table in frustration), I’m just going to keep on working on the short pieces, which thanks to Jim’s data I’m not going to worry about placing until 2021 rolls on through.

And I’m going to work on some longer pieces; those I’ll keep under my aegis for now.

At least, that’s what the data on hand seems to say at the moment…

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