Metapost: The Case of the Disappearing Drafts

As I submit polished stories for publishing, I’ll be removing the corresponding scraps of the rough drafts that were posted here. Many markets consider any online postings as prior publications, and although the final drafts I am submitting are usually quite changed from the rough drafts you’ve read here, I want to make sure there is no room for confusion.

If the pieces are rejected from enough venues, I will likely update the pages to share the final drafts with you. What this means is that some stories will be unavailable while their polished counterparts are in submission, and potentially forever if they are accepted, in which case, you will not be able to get me to shut up about it.

If you’d like to read a draft that is no longer available, please email me and I will be happy to discuss.

Metapost: New Site Feedback

This is a temporary post to solicit feedback on the new site before I switch over entirely and to test the Facebook and Twitter linking. It’s very similar to the old layout, albeit with a sexier URL, but I please let me know if there is anything you’d like to see or have changed before the switch. Just comment here to let me know, and thank you in advance.

I’d also love to crosslink to your personal site if appropriately themed, just send me your address and let me know. I’m trying to find ways to promote and evangelize this new address, and I’m afraid I really don’t know how to do that…

Thank you for following me here.

Metapost: A Gentle Entreaty

For those of you that have been around a while: I’ve been away. It’s easy to stop working hard on a thing you love when you let it be a lesser priority. It’s my fault, and I lost a year for it. My sincere thanks to people who emailed, poked, and prodded during the absence. Without you, I’d probably have stayed gone.

So now that I’m back, and you’re still here, let me ask one more favor of you: Be brutal. I want to hear what you think, I want to discuss these stories. But I want you be savage, and honest, and hold nothing back. Knives out. Teeth bared.

Today, my wife read and did a cursory editing pass on Dogs in the Drywall. When I asked her what she thought, she replied: “Not your best,” and when I pressed, she admitted she hated it, and she told me why, quite eloquently. And for the most part, she was right.

I need that critical eye. I’m posting these pieces in their rough forms almost as soon as I finish them, not because I want to hear you tell me you like it, but because I want to know what’s wrong with it. What’s almost there, and what will never get there and what needs to be trimmed away. I want you to ask me what the fuck I was thinking, because If I can’t just justify it, then its not worth saving. I’m thick skinned, I promise. I’m starting to think I might be a good writer, but I want to get better.

Okay, I lied. Of course I want to hear if you liked it. I especially want to hear if it scared you, got under your skin, or provoked some other emotional response. That’s useful too. But only if it’s the truth. I trust you. You’ve got good taste.

Metapost: Ultrashorts

Hello, all. I’m trying to work on being more economical with my words, so I’ve given myself a homework assignment. I’m writing a series of ultrashorts, 140 characters or less, on Twitter, of course. They’re not likely to be good, but the challenge is rewarding.

Try it with me, I’d love to see your short stories, and I’ll post some here.

“When it returned the 3rd night, it no longer seemed content to shriek and stare through empty sockets. It wanted something. Something alive.”

“When the sun failed to come up one autumn morning, we burned coal, wood, and our money. By winter, we were burning each other.”

“When the fire died down, and the wreckage of the crash could be sifted through, nothing made sense, least of all the dozen extra skulls.”

“We shared our last breath, back and forth, until it burned our lungs. The rising pressure of the black water played a steady funeral rhythm.”

“A silhouette projected on the blinds by streetlight frosts my heart. It is only the outline of a man. Yet this is my third floor window.”


“She looked at me with those eyes, those bloodshot eyes, and I knew this was no longer the woman I loved. She was dead to me.” – Chris Vaughn, of Terror Tortellini

“The breathing was all we heard. But when it ceased there was nothing I wanted to hear more. Until it was right behind me.” – Cameron Bell, @XxCanNibalCamxX

“I never went into her bedroom again, but made a ritual in the hall of laying down newspapers wherever she had trickled out under the door.” – Andrew

(if you object to me posting your shorts here, drop me an email, and I’ll remove them) 

All work is wholly owned by the listed creators.

Metapost: Progress and Prologues

The novel is progressing much quicker in my head, and much slower on the page than I had hoped. It’s densely complex, frighteningly so, but I’m keeping notes. I have no shorts planned at the moment, my excitement with the world at hand is too great. Apologies for a lack of updates, but I thought I’d share this with you, the prologue, as it stands, for “This Side of the Blue”.

 

The meteorite is the source of the light
And the meteor’s just what we see
And the meteoroid is a stone that’s devoid
of the fire that propelled it to thee

– Joanna Newsom, Emily

The falling star carved a burning scar across the night sky. On the open plain below, a dozen eyes tracked the hot red trail from east to west, watching small flakes of fire peel away from the heart of the meteor. The glow lit their smooth faces, and as the ember at the center cooled and vanished, they turned back to the cook fire, chattering to one another in excitement. Some were old enough to remember the winter of shooting stars, when streaks of fire crossed the sky with a steady, mystic rhythm. They told stories, sung in complex harmonies, and laughed beneath the quiet sky.

A distant rumble rolled across the grassland from the west, and they craned long and elegant necks, waiting in silence for something more. But the only sound was the wind, hissing through the waving stalks of golden grass, and they soon returned to the old songs.

Part I: The Garden and the Graveyard
….
Hope the weekend finds you all well, and thanks, as always, for reading.

 

Metapost: Something Very Cool.

Through a recent collaborative project, I had the fortune of meeting Christian Frederiksen, an extremely talented artist.
Christian has been working on a series of images to accompany the first half of my story, One, and I am more than thrilled with the results. Below are some low res versions of the images, which I’ve also threaded into the original story. You can see the higher res versions, along with many other excellent images in a wide variety of styles at his sketchblog.
What amazes me is how close these matched the images in my head when I was writing, down to a few uncanny details. I can’t wait to see the images from the second half.

Metapost: Let’s be honest for a moment…

The mundane world intervenes, far more than we’d all like.

Work and life have been fruitful, but aggressive and needy, and I haven’t been able to write lately. But, after a long, nighttime drive through a remote forest, listening to an excellent podcast (Radiolab – Afterlife), I’m brimming with the need again. When the need is great, it carves out time for itself.

The piece I’ve been readying, “The Watcher”, is swelling to novella length, and I’m setting it aside for the moment to chase the thrill of finishing something.

I’ll have a new story up by the end of next weekend, “Roadwork”, a very simple little piece more like the stories I used to write on a weekly schedule. Finally, before the end of the year, I’ll have a nebulous and… self indulgent meditation on death and mortality, called “Shiva”.

I’m setting out this schedule not only as a promise, but as a threat to myself, a backup copy of obligations. Deadlines are the best friend art ever had.

See you soon.

Metapost: Upon Returning

Greetings, all.

My apologies for the late hour, but real life conspires against my efforts to finish a long overdue draft of “One”. It is nearing its end, and hopefully before the end of the month, I will post a completed first draft.

“One” is proving troublesome, as I’ve been working at it on and, mostly off, for the last six months. I find the more I plan something out in advance, the easier it is to procrastinate on actually following through on it. The excitement, for me, is seeing where an idea will go once I set it free, and if I already know, well… it becomes difficult. The problem is, I know exactly where “One” goes, and although I like it, it feels stale now.

Looking forward, I’ve just returned from Germany, whose Gothic cathedrals, castles, and river-towns are responsible for a trio of new or reignited ideas that I’ll begin as soon as this latest story is completed. One set in the present, one set during the aftermath of the second world war, and one set before recorded history. It’s this last and oldest idea I am most excited about; expect to see it completed first, before September ends.

On the publishing front, I’ve started to receive my first rejection letters from a variety of publications. As per authorial tradition, these letters now hang on my wall, and for every one I receive, I submit two more stories. I will of course share with you if a story is accepted for publication.

Thank you for your patience, and I promise, you will not have to wait much longer.