Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday Distraction

Hi all:

Wow, it's hard writing through the holidays.  With the shopping and the cooking and cleaning and relatives and the more relatives there are a LOT of distractions.   I don't know if other writers have this problem but the fact that I work at home means a lot of relatives figure I am always available to do this or that on demand.  I guess shouldn't complain about having a job that lets me be very flexible with my time.  It's just sometimes I do need to remind people that just because I home doesn't mean I am not working.

As for the writing I have no figured out I write in stages:

Stage 1: Thinking, thinking thinking: coming up with the plot and playing it out in my mind.

Stage 2: The outline this is a pretty complete start to finish of that plot.

Stage 3: Turning the outline into the story.   Here's where I add dialog and start to flesh things out.  Funny one things start to flesh out I realize the outline needs to change here and there.  I then cascade those changes throughout the outline. 

Stage 4: Detailed writing.   When I am writing the story out at first I need to do it fast.  I guess I want to put it on paper before I forget it.  After I have it all out though I go back and add details.  Then I add more details then more.

Stage 5: Editing.  This is a tricky stage.  I often read things the way they should be not the way they are.  I find having my computer read my text back to me really helps.

Stage 6: More editing.  This is the changing one or two words to find the best possible words to use in a given situation.  I find this stage lasts until I find myself switching between the same two choices over and over.  Once that happens it's time for others to see my work.

For now I am plugging away at Stage 3!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Organic writing and Paper

This post actually will come in two part but they are related sort of.

I can't actually write my novels until I have a nice complete outline with a beginning, middle and end. By the time I am done with my initial outline it is usually about 1/10 of my finished books size. Which is cool. The thing is outline is only a road map to where I want to go. As the travel begins and I get to learn the characters I am dealing with I realize certain courses just won't work or other changes in direction just make more sense. The final destination is still the same (at least for now) but how we get there changes.

In this case the Sapphire Sirens starts out with a blackmailing case. I originally thought the blackmailer would be one person but upon further review while writing I just totally grew to understand that another person made much more sense. Not only where they a much more likely person to blackmail this subject but they also allowed me to weave another character into the plot in a much more believable (as much as anything in my stories is believable) way that allows me to cascade the incident into deeper parts of the story. All in all I am happy with the change. It just goes to show that nomatter how much I outline the actual writing always changes things.

Speaking of change, the blackmail itself sparked a bigger future culture and society issue. What the heck are we going to be doing with paper in 60 years? For the most part I think media on paper will become less and less prevalent as time progresses. I love paper. I love holding it in my hand. For longer stories I still prefer reading them on paper than I do screens. But I am middle aged and grew up with paper. Kids like my son and my newphew have grown up with web and electronic screens. They seem to have much less of an attraction to reading things on paper. I am assuming as time progresses and more and more youth who never knew days without the internet age, paper will become less and less important as a means of delivering information. Small or expandable screens we carry, or e-paper or even holographic paper will offer so many advantages to traditional paper that traditional paper from trees will become less and less common place as time progresses.

The thing is, if paper goes away, what the heck are we going to wrap things in? There are times such as giving holiday presents or when transporting items that we want them either protected or hidden or both by packaging. And when it comes to packaging for easy of use and availability you can't really beat paper. At least not yet. So how are we going to wrap holiday presents in the future? I guess we could put holographic covers over them but that just doesn't seem right. You can't rip of a holographic cover, there is no joy in that. My solution, nanopaper. Paper made from nanobots it's flexible, foldable and programmable. This way we can have our holiday presents and wrap them too.

Will it happen? Not really sure but it's fun and a little maddening to think about.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Man, this should have been in one of my books.

Just heard on "All things considered" about a gang of women in Ugandan robbing men by knocking them out by putting chloroform on their breasts. I guess this gives whole new meaning to phrases, "boob job". I only mention this because it sounds like something the bad girls in my books should have done (but haven't) but probably will do in some futuristic form in a later book.

Man their victims must feel like real boobs. (Okay I'm done now.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rain, snow, sleet but what about relatives

It's been an interesting week and by interesting I mean chaotic. We had five extra relatives (my wives' sister and her husband and three teen boys) where visiting from Costa Rica. I love my relatives and I especially love introducing folks from the tropics to the "lovely" winter weather of upstate NY. The thing is with five extra people in our house (my office) things get a little hectic and by hectic I mean crazy. It doesn't make it all that conducive for somebody who is fairly easily distractive to get a lot of writing down, especially when I am listening to a mix of Spanish and English throughout the day.

The thing is deadlines come no matter what I do. Therefore I need to find ways to be productive even when I am being distracted. One thing I did was go over my outline and what I've written so far making it a bit tighter. I also did some reading in the Technological Singularity. The time in our near future when machines through AI pretty much start improving themselves even creating their own machines. I decided I wanted to address this issue somewhat in my next novel, The Sapphire Sirens. Is this going to be a good thing or a bad thing? Many people worry that if the machines can"think" and create themselves they will pretty much start saying, "why do we need the carbon based cretins hanging around?" Therefore this would be a bad thing. (See the Terminator.) Others believe that this is a good thing as the machines will take over the heavily lifting allowing us humans to better our minds and have way more leisure time where we can do more fun stuff more often.

What will my "bubble gum for the brain" angle on this be? First off, it occurred to me that HARV kind of does represent (at least on some levels) a singularity . He is a living, thinking, creative being. He just happens to be made off energy instead of carbon. How would the world react to a real HARV? How would a real HARV react to the real world? Of course I will examine this in greater detail in my book but for now let's just say, I don't think this will be a bad a thing. I guess I am an optimist at heart and mind but I don't know what motive the machines would have to get rid of us. I think if nothing else the machines will keep us around for the entertainment value. Maybe they will end up telling "human jokes"?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Book Drops

Flaxen Femme Fatale officially went on sale in bookstores all over the country yesterday.  I had almost forgotten that yesterday was the big day as I am now in "writing mode" trying to get the first full draft of the NEXT novel The Sapphire Sirens done on or around the end of month.  Luckily my sister called excitedly from a B&N in Boston saying, "I'm in the bookstore now and they have your books here!"

Right then I remembered, "Oh yeah my book comes out today..."  I am a little slow sometimes.  My wife attributes it to too much World of Warcraft.  I contribute it to aging or maybe landing on my head one too many times in judo.  Whatever the case, I switched into my book marketing mode.   Marketing is one of those things almost all authors have to do these days.  It's what I find as being one of the most unnatural (to me) parts of the book mind to book store process.  Basically I need to tell people, "buy my book it's really good, without quite saying, buy my book it's really good."  Though I do have to admit on few occasions I have actually told people I meet in bookstores and conferences, "buy my book, it's really good."

Getting back to my favorite (and only) sister I immediately told her to buy all the copies of the book.  She of course refused instead insisting that she gets one of my free copies.  I figured sure, this way my holiday shopping for her is done.  I did tell her to do what I would do if I was in the bookstore, give the book a turn out, so people could see the cover.  She told me the book was already turned out which made me feel good.  

Now this coming weekend I will be doing my part, I will be visiting all the local bookstores in my area and first making sure they are carrying my books.  If they don't care them I will talk to the book buyer and let them know I am a local nationally published author who would be grateful if they started carrying my books.  If they do care my books (which thankfully most of them do) I will first give my books a nice little turn out.  I will then once again seek out the manager and or book buyer and tell them who I am and then offer to sign any books they have on hand in the story.  I've never met a manger or book buyer who hasn't responded well to this.   Some of them even suggest doing book signings and readings and stuff like that.  It's not much but when you are "low midlist" you do whatever you can to help your cause.