Every Single One Of My Titles

The Man Who Stares at Trees

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I tweeted this, too.  Not that it made the scene any more or less relaxing.

When I’m not blogging about the other stuff I write (Look to your right! In the sidebar! Links for the ebooks and paperbacks I write!), I often write about the things that relax me.

Because this dirty old world can be really annoying.  The news is full of injustice and war (really large-area injustice, mostly).  The internet is bristling with trolls.  Outside, some jackass is leaning on his horn for no particular reason as he drives by.  The cat horked up a hairball on the porch.  Both little ones get sudden urges that, as I write a blog entry, my trackball MUST be knocked off the armrest of my chair.  Stuff happens.  And I, grumpy old man in a merely middle-aged body, have a hard time letting annoying stuff go.

I NEED my diversions.  The tiny little ferny scene above is one of them.  My potted trees.

Notice that I didn’t say bonsai.  Because they’re not bonsai, not quite.  They’re styled similarly.  I watch them month after month, year after year; I watch them grow and I trim them back in ways that encourage them to grow into new and more interesting shapes.  They’re in flowerpots, not bonsai pots.  They’re planted in plain old soil, not the carefully sifted medium you plant a bonsai in.  They don’t have to be watered daily.  They’re psuedo-bonsoids for slightly lazy people.

Sitting down and just looking at them is one of the things that relaxes me.  Look at that picture.  There’s a tiny little world of itty-bitty ferns taking shelter in the exposed roots of one of my myrtles.  Isn’t that beautiful?

I think it’s beautiful.  And beautiful things relax me.

So does blogging about stuff like this.  Thus, this entry.  I hope you liked it.

A Year Ago Tomorrow: Isolation

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Time flies.  I remember working on these stories and it doesn’t seem possible that it was so long ago.  On the other hand, my mind is full of the stories I’m working on now, so I wasn’t even really thinking of them before I realized the anniversary of my publishing Isolation and Other Stories was coming up.  I only noticed because I decided to poke around in my blog archives for the heck of it.

Isolation and Other Stories contains my longest work to date.  Most of my stories weigh in shy of 7500 words; I’m very much a short story writer.  I have given thought to producing something at novel length.  I have a couple of stories sitting partially completed that could probably work as novels.  Some that I’ve produced in the past might be expanded to that length.  The title story of this collection, in fact, could probably become a novel if I were so inclined.  As Isolation stands, it is the longest thing I’ve ever written, at 20,000 words.  (Down on the Farm, also in this collection, is the second longest at 18,000 words.)  While I’m happy with the ending, it is one of those endings that looks forward to an uncertain future and invites the reader to think about what is possible.  It leaves room for a continuation.

Maybe I will, one day, sit down and write that continuation.  But for now, I still have the feeling I had when I first sat down to write with the idea that I might produce a story that others would read.  I have the feeling of a psychic backlog of ideas unvoiced.  From grade school through my early twenties, I occasionally produced short stories for my own satisfaction.  I had the creative urge, but did not think what I created could be worthy of the interest of others.  After my early twenties I gave up on writing and let my creative urge express itself through the medium of role playing games.

I like role playing games.  I think they’re a worthwhile exercise in cooperative storytelling for most participants.  But they weren’t ultimately satisfying to me, and I misused them as an escape from reality.  I won’t say I’ll never participate in one again, but I have no plans to.  It feels, to me, as if it would be too easy to use them to squander the hours and days I need for writing and for raising my children and for all of the other things in my life.  That’s not a problem with the games; it is my problem with them.

The writing is satisfying in a way the games never managed to be for me.  And there is three decades, give or take, of creative pressure behind me, urging me to voice all those backed up story ideas.

So I produce short stories, and I gather them into collections like Isolation and Other Stories once in a while.  And I hope that others will read and enjoy.  It is probably poor form for an author to have favorites, but this is my favorite collection so far.  I think someone who has never read me before would be well served to start here; it feels like my best foot forward.

It also doesn’t hurt that the cover art was contributed by my talented stepson, Erik Elliott.  That gives it a certain sentimental element in my thoughts and feelings beyond my fondness for the stories.

You can see the blurbs for all of the stories from clicking through here, on this sentence. 

The first five thousand words are previewed here, so you can enjoy a sample of Isolation.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading this.  I certainly enjoyed writing it for you.

Bunny With A Saw: A Free Short-Short. My 57th Title via Smashwords.

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This is a fun little story about a very strange event that happens in the middle of the night in rural Florida, on a long drive.  There is no banjo music involved — get your mind out of the Deliverance gutter.  No, this is something different, something entirely beyond human control and maybe beyond human understanding.

 

The title reference… well, I’d rather not explain it until someone gets it.  Guesses are welcome in the comments.  :)

 

You can pick up a copy at Smashwords.  It will be available from other retailers in the right sidebar in 1-2 weeks. Maybe faster; distribution has gotten smoother lately.

Meow Right Now is available on Smashwords. Right Now. Meow.

 

 

 

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Archaeologists often find strange and even dangerous things during their explorations. When Clay and Sandy uncover an ancient frozen cat on the Siberian plains, they have done just that, for Kwirrrf is not accustomed to being a pet. In fact, he’s more accustomed to being a pet owner…

 

 

This is my fifty-sixth title published on Smashwords.  It’s 5117 words long, which is only 117 words longer than my upper limit for 99 cent stories.  I decided not to be nitpicky and leave it at 99 cents.

 

Did I mention it’s just ninety-nine measly cents?  Buy it and curl up with a nice Ancient Cat of Power story.  Those are always fun, I think.

The Evolution of iPhones, The Futuristic iPhones!

Tao23:

With the flap over the iPhone 6 blowing up social media, this 2 year old post has become timely again. 30 or 40 more releases and the ever-expanding iPhone should double as a space elevator to geosynchronous orbit…

Originally posted on sidharth rath:

So,  You must have seen iPhone 10 that swept across fb and twitter after the MacWorld Expo.

Well, in a few days there have been many more Inspired by iPhone 10, Let’s have a look.

 Awesomeness Ahead

The Original iPhone 10

The iPhone 5S

The iPhone 10

The iPhone 20

 The iPhone 30S

The iPhone 70

 The iPhone 101

The iPhone 2000

The iPhone Family!

The Evolution of iPhones!

Loved It?

Steve Jobs should have seen this. :(

Share it with your amazing friends!

All the iPhone Stuff. :D

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One of Those Days…

…I have two or three of these a week. Deep breath…

 

Doing something creative, like writing or making a mock ebook cover grousing about being annoyed, helps.  Just one more way to integrate creativity into my life.

 

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Coming Soon: Another Damn Cat Story

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I blame the internet for corrupting me with its pervasive and insidious LOLcats and ridiculously cute cat memes.  The cover is a bit silly, but no sillier than the cover I did for Cat Zen.

 

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Meow Right Now will be the second cat story the internets have talked me into writing.  Out of 70ish short stories, I’m running at almost 3% cat content.  That seems like a little much, but what can I say… I do like cats.

 

Oh, clever internet.  Look how you’ve warped me.

Be careful what you write

Tao23:

You can argue that writing about a school shooting as an actively employed teacher is a bit tone-deaf to the sensibilities of parents whose students he teaches. That hardly calls for an arrest and an ‘emergency medical (psych?) evaluation’. I’d say propriety would be in writing under a pen name. Which he did. Perfect propriety might be in sitting on the finished manuscripts until he was employed outside the field. But what writer can sit on a finished work of fiction — or should be asked to — once it is written? I don’t think I’ve heard of one.

This seems to be a manifestation of the fearful, shivering, paranoid social slope we’re headed down collectively as western society. I don’t care for it one bit. Living in fear (especially, as it seems in this case, racism-flavored fear) is not for me. And it shouldn’t be for you.

Originally posted on Later On:

A teacher wrote a science-fiction novel set in the far future (2902), and in the novel are two school shootings (a topic I imagine most school teachers think about from time to time, given their responsibilities).

Apparently authorship is now considered some sort of crime. Robby Soave posts at Reason.com:

A Dorchester County, Maryland, teacher was taken in for an “emergency medical evaluation,” suspended from his job, and barred from setting foot on another public school. Authorities searched his school, Mace’s Lane Middle School in Cambridge, for weapons. As classes resumed, parents worried that their children were in danger, so police decided to remain on the premises to watch over them.

What happened? The teacher, Patrick McLaw, published a fiction novel. Under a pen name. About a made-up school shooting. Set in the year 2902.

If you’re having trouble figuring out which part of that was criminal, or negligent, or…

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Seriously Eclectic, Short Stories Edition

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Double vision!

 

 

The upside of having an eclectic vision, or, put another way, of being a scatterbrain: variety!  I love variety in just about everything.  Music, food, my reading, my writing.  The downside: lack of focus.  Focus has its advantages.  It’s easier to finish things when you’re focused.  Finishing stories can be a struggle for me.  I tend to get interested in something else and wander away.  If I didn’t make myself go back and finish, I could easily have a couple of hundred story fragments and nothing done.  As the hoary old chestnut goes, starting things is easy, but as time goes on… SQUIRREL!  Look at the squirrel over there!  Wait, there’s something shiny the other direction, wonder what it is… hey, I’m hungry, are you hungry?  Wonder what sort of snacks are available…

 

Today’s thoughts of the ups and downs of eclecticism came to me while updating my ‘stories to either resubmit to markets or self-publish if I’m tired of sending them back out’ stack.  Right now the stack stands at five; I don’t like it to get much larger than that.  Stories sitting around on my hard drive doing nothing are, well, doing nothing.  And that’s just not helpful.  They’re an eclectic lot.  Let’s take a look at what I have here, using 1-word shorthand for titles, since I haven’t sold or released any of them yet:

 

 

Kitty: Near-future. Speculative fiction, just barely.  If it wasn’t set in the near future, it would be a mainstream story and it reads like one.  A tale of a boy and his cat in an impoverished coastal North Carolina ravaged by severe sea-level rise and powerful climate-change-fueled storms.

 

 

Meow: Call this one contemporary fantasy.  A Cat of Power awakes after a long sleep frozen in Siberian permafrost and tries to make sense of what the world has become. Two cat stories in the lot is as close as I come to a theme in this list.  I do like a good cat story.  I blame the internet’s bad influence.

 

 

Dawn: Definitely science fiction, there are spaceships and everything.  The participants in a long-distance relationship meet via interstellar travel.  As usual in a long-distance relationship story, there’s something unsaid that must be confronted once they meet.

 

 

Pornodroid: Science fiction, again with spaceships and everything.  Not as sexy as it sounds.  A pop music star under a very onerous contract discovers that stardom ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, and finds a high-tech way to attempt an escape.

 

 

Fire: A 100-word western involving a lost Spaniard, a nasty bearded brigand, and a campfire. 

 

 

 

Maybe it would be a little easier to attract readers if I stuck to one thing.  On the other hand, I can’t be the only one who enjoys variety.  And frankly, if I tried to compress myself into a branding-marketing straitjacket and keep everything focused, I have a feeling that the writing I produced would rapidly start to suck.  I’m happy being a bit scatterbrained.  My mind is a restless dog, sticking its nose into every corner and smelling after new and exciting smells.  If I tried to chain it down it would rapidly become unhappy and you’d get tired of hearing it bark all the time.

A Real-Life Serial: Self-Publishing Impatience

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This is what I published 2 years ago (plus a couple of days).  You can click through and read it, it’s a short-short and it’s free.  It was my 26th; my 1st was published in January 2012.

 

Looking back, it hasn’t been that long. A bit more than 2 1/2 years I’ve been self-publishing. A few thousand of my free titles have ‘sold’ in that time, and probably a tenth or twentieth as many paid copies have sold.

 

Not too shabby, my practical side says.  As long as I keep it up, keep writing and publishing, people will keep reading.  Eventually, I hope, many more people.  Persistence is the first thing pretty much anyone needs in getting their work out there, written or otherwise.

 

My impatient side, however, thinks that kind of thinking is for, appropriately for this post, dumbasses.

 

I don’t like waiting.  Does anyone like waiting?  I’m pretty sure nobody likes waiting.  Hey, I bought Product X yesterday, and the commercials clearly state that if you buy Product X all your dreams will come true in mere days, like a fairy tale.  I’m impatiently waiting for my instant gratification.

 

Hmm, that gives me an idea.

 

Read Dumbass, and all of your dreams will come true in mere days.  Promise.

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