Tag: Fiction – Prose

Stories for sale!

for saleNow, for your e-book reading enjoyment, I’ve put some of my stories (both previously published and new) up for sale on this site!

Maybe it’s an experiment to see if it goes anywhere, maybe I’ll be able to pay rent. Maybe my hopes and spirit will be dashed upon the barren rocks of disinterest. We’ll see.

But if you’re someone who like to support artists directly (especially poor, struggling artists) instead of corporate stock holders for media conglomerates, consider buying a couple stories — or the low low priced five-story collection! They work great on iPhone/iPad’s iBook reader, Kindle, Nook, and other readers.

So, check the story page out and take a look at samples of the tales, won’t you? Your patronage will be appreciated!

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io9 suggested reading list.

pattern_recognitionio9.com recently (well, OK, a month several months ago — I’m a little lot late) published their 20 Best Science Fiction Books Of The Decade” list. This really is a compelling list of SF over the last ten years, much of it dealing with issues of late postmodern culture and our sense of rootlessness and lack of historical perspective (The Baroque Cycle, by Neal Stephenson; Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson; Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger are primary examples, although nearly all of them have living in postmodern times as an underlying theme). Some of it dealing with posthumanism and the way technology is not just “helping” humanity, but changing it at very fundamental levels–or exploring changing perceptions of what it means to have gender or racial, or even species identification (Rainbows End, by Vernor Vinge; Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville; Down And Out In the Magic Kingdom, by Cory Doctorow).

The following is their list and my status, as of this moment, on that book — whether I’ve read it, have it and plan to read it, don’t plan on reading it, etc. I’d like to read most on this list by the end of the year (eep! half over already!). Updates may come… now and then.

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Brust on Capital

First, a little story:

I’ve been a huge fan of SF author Steven Brust since circa 1988 when Taltos came out. (I didn’t know at the time that was not the first in the “Vlad Taltos” series, but it worked out OK.) After becoming a fan, I discovered Brust was a self-described Trotskyist. Being in my teens, early to mid-20s, I really didn’t have any idea what that was but I knew it was somehow connected to GASP! evil Communism! One part of my brain processed this information something like, “Huh, his writing is kick-ass, he seems really cool…perhaps whatever Trotskyism is it’s either a) inconsequential to who he is, or b) it’s not some all-encompassing evilness as my culture leads me to believe.” The other half of my mind processed more like, “LA LA LA LA I’M NOT LISTENING! I SEE NOTHINK! I HEAR NOTHINK! MOVE ALONG, CITIZEN!”

So the cognitive dissonance was dealt with by ardently ignoring it.

Until around 2007 when I started grad school and my first instructor was Dr. William Burling: the most influential professor, and one of the most influential persons, I’d ever met. I had the privilege of being a student of his for three (almost four) fantastic classes. What his greatest influence on me was to introduce me to the idea of questioning culture, society, government, art, everything. Everything is, to a greater or lesser degree, either a product of or a reflector of the socio-economic base of a culture and nearly everything in the culture is in service to those who control the wealth in society. In short, Dr. Burling was a Marxist, and by the fortune of serendipity, happened to come into my life just as I was questioning political structures.

At that time I was moving from Democrat to vague libertarian. It took nearly a year of questioning and study and investigation and debate, but eventually I too became a self-described Marxist. Although I’ve barely scratched the surface still of Marxist theory.

So, at one point as Dr. Burling and I were discussing Marxist theory and SF and fantasy literature, I realized something from the long forgotten recesses of my mind… (See, I kinda stopped reading Mr. Brust’s books by this point–not because I stopped liking them, but I’d pretty much stopped reading for pleasure altogether! I am glad to say I’ve since picked pleasure reading back up and have caught back up with all of Mr. Brust’s “Taltos” books at least.) I recalled that tidbit of info about my favorite fantasy author being a Trotskyist. I asked Dr. Burling, who had introduced me to Stanley Kim Robinson, and China Miéville, and Philip K. Dick, and a Marxist outlook of William Gibson (who, now, I have no idea how you couldn’t read Gibson with a Marxist outlook! My god, the man is postmodern materialist cultural criticism up and down!) if he had read any Steven Brust. He replied, somewhat dismissively that he didn’t have time for any pleasure reading. Then I mentioned Mr. Brust was a Trotskyist and, if I recalled, wrote in a couple of his novels about a peasant uprising in his fantasy world.

Dr. Burling grabbed a pen and asked me what that name was again.

Sadly, Dr. Burling passed away a couple of years later. I never did find out if he started looking into Brust’s writing. Probably not; he was pretty busy, in addition to teaching, editing a book of essays on Kim Stanley Robinson and working with  Miéville on a book of criticism about Marxist SF. *sigh* I still feel acute sense of honor of having been able to know the man and learn from him. He changed my entire way of looking at life and I could have missed it if I’d been a couple of years too late.

Anyway, so now that I’m deep in trying to learn and understand Marxist theory, both as it applies to literature and culture, guess what my favorite Trotskyist fantasy author has started doing? He’s reading and commenting on Karl Marx’s seminal work on socio-economics, Das Kapital.* (Volume 1, I believe, which is the one Marx had worked mostly on before he died, while Engels wrote the other volumes.)

What’s really cool is that just before this he had read through and commented on Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (arguably the father of and the manual of modern capitalism). This kicked-ass because not only did I learn something from it (unfortunately I came in rather late), it just goes to show that Brust is interested in exploring all the angles of modern socio-economics and doesn’t just surround himself with material that fits his perceptions or ideologies. That’s certainly a quality to admire and emulate.

marx-victoryI’m looking forward to reading what he has to say about the tome. And I’m very glad that one side of my brain stopped being a pest and started paying attention. Marxism is not evil, Trotskyism is not evil, communism is not evil. These are just ideas, concepts, ways of investigating and ideas are never evil. They may not be good or practical ideas, but one should never dismiss a way of thinking, a way of investigating, because authority has proclaimed it verboten, taboo, out of bounds. Question everything, especially authority. There’s a reason why they are in power, and a means by which they stay in power.

* I think he’s moving his blog over to a new location. I’ll try to update this link if I can when it happens.

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“The End of the Beginning” now released!

mbrane10

M-Brane #10

My new short story has been published! I’m, oh, just a little excited.

The story, “The End of the Beginning,” is in the latest edition of M-BRANE SF magazine, issue number 10. You have a few quick, easy, and inexpensive methods of getting it:

Visit this URL: http://mbranesf2.blogspot.com and on the right-hand side you’ll find the options:

  • Buy it in print through Lulu for $7.95 (direct link)
  • Buy a single PDF copy for $2.00
  • For the Amazon Kindle for $2.99 (direct link)
  • For the MobiPocket version for $1.99 (direct link)
  • Subscribe to a year of M-BRANE SF for $12! (A real steal!)
  • (You can also just donate to the writer’s fund; I’m sure they’d really appreciate it!)

(NOTE! As of this writing, the Amazon and the MobiPocket versions aren’t yet available. If you want it for Kindle or Mobi-compatible reader, please check those sites in a couple days or so.)

“The End of the Beginning” was a fun story to write. It started with my musing about the eventual heat-death of the universe and just flowed from there in just an hour. (Plus, of course, some significant time editing to make it at least slightly readable.) As for the rest of the stories in issue #10, can’t say. I haven’t read it yet as the second it came available ti started writing this post. 🙂 But the stories found in issue #1 (which you can get for free) and #9 are varied and interesting!

Anyway, if I may beg, please support struggling authors and the publishers that give them a voice and buy yourself a copy! 🙂

Moon City Review 2009Don’t forget, you can also get my first published story, “A Price in Every Box” (huh, I’m sensing a theme in my titles) in Moon City Review 2009. It’s available for $15.95 or through Amazon for $12.44. That story is kind of a contemporary fantasy, or maybe slipstream if you will. The book itself is a very eclectic collection of all different genres, including poetry and photography. So if you don’t like all SF, give Moon City Review a try!
(And keep your eye open, sometime next year the book Confederate Girlhoods: A Women’s History of Early Springfield, Missouri will become available. I helped edit it and contributed a little original text for it.)

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NaNoWriMo, again. Maybe. Perhaps?

Writers_Block_1Once again I’ll be participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). And this time I mean it!

The point of NaNoWriMo is to help people get past the blocks and barriers and hesitations and just write, dammit. Heck with editing (for now), heck with obligations and excuses for not having time, NaNoWriMo provides the excuse to write ~three pages a day, every day, for a month. If you get 50,000 words of new material (can’t work on something you’ve already been working on; you have to start fresh November 1st), you win!

What do you win? Well, I think there’s a Web image you can put on your Web site saying you completed, but otherwise, you win the pride and honor of actually writing a (small!) novel’s worth of words. I’ve tried in the past. In fact, the first time was several years ago when NaNoWriMo was hardly known about. I think I uploaded maybe 5,000 words before I stopped. Then I tried two more time more recently, and stopped before I began. But this time, I’m doin’ it! But to really get and stay motivated with the task of writing every single day no matter what, it’s helpful to really get into the mood and networking and social atmosphere NaNoWriMo helps facilitate with the tools and advice they put on their site, and connect with fellow participants who you can trade encouragement with. It’s very much like a 12-step program or something.

The one roadblock I have (in additional to blaming being too brain-dead after work each day to write) is I’m still trying to finish my current novel/Master’s thesis. If I want to graduate this December, I really needed to have it turned in already to my readers. It’s currently about 270 pages long and that’s about 150 pages more than the thesis readers tend to have to deal with. I should just take the advice of my advisor and stop it where it is, edit the existing material, tack on a summary of what’s supposed to happen, and call it good. And I’ll probably do that. Plus, I have a couple of class papers due in December that I can use as excuse to not NaNoWriMo some days–even though these are easier papers than I’ve had to write in most of my grad school career thus far.

What I’m saying is: I can’t use those as excuses. I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and I can still work on other projects–and in fact, this should help me be able to work on these projects a lot more than I currently do where after work I feel like my brain isn’t capable of scholarly thought. (Well, it still won’t be. It may actually not help with my school stuff at all, and the NaNoWriMo output quality may suck horribly.

But there’s one thing I’m keeping in mind as I participate which has been a deterrent in the past: I’m looking at this as working toward a completed work. My current novel is going to be vaguely 90,000 words long. The normal length for a novel (from novice writers) is around 80,000 to 100k. Most people say 80,000 is really as small as most publishers will consider now-a-days (have you seen how short most novels were before the late 1980s?!) But here’s the thing: one of my favorite authors, Cory Doctorow, has a 50k word novel (Eastern Standard Tribe) and a 48k word novel (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), and they’re fantastic! (Especially the later. EST is good but anti-climactic). A novel doesn’t have to be 80k+ words to be good.

And, as Cory and Wil Wheaton and other have proven, you don’t need to cowtow to the publishing industry in order to be published or get your work into the hands of interested people. So, this silly roadblock I created for myself that because this super-productive blast of creative writing would be an incomplete work, I shouldn’t bother participating in the structured and constrictive waste of time of NaNoWriMo, can be ignored like the drek it is.

So, here’s my NaNoWriMo profile: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/520083. If you think you may participate as well, “buddy” me. Now, all I need to do is try to figure out which plot idea I want to try to develop. 😛

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It’s a novel, folks!

quillMy Master’s thesis is a “creative thesis” since my focus is on Creative Writing, and I finally passed 60,000 words (aprox. 190 MLA formatted pages or 240 mass market paperback pages). Technically 50K is the minimum publisher accepted length for a novel with 80K being the generally preferred length especially for a first novel. By the looks of it, I should have at least 90K when I’m done. That is, according to my loose outline and my gut feeling of how it’s turning out.

I reached a point recently where I got “that feeling” that authors sometimes talk about where the story writes itself (I’ve been writing, unpublished, for like 20 years now, and I’ve had those moments before but in a very superficial way). I have this feeling of impending doom that one of the main characters has to die. It’s a really weird feeling, almost like a premonition (if I believed in such things) which is doubly weird since I’m “premonitioning” a fictional event in a narrative I’m writing! But I’m actually filled with anxious anticipation as I really don’t know what her fate is going to be and I know it will have to work as an appropriate result of story events.

Anyway, it’s all very exciting…for me. 🙂

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Writing on track.

I wrote 25 new pages on my novel/thesis this weekend. A huge burst of productivity!
And best of all, it got me past a certain bit of creative block and got me to an area that’s progressing the plot again. And it takes me to the beginning of a character development that the novel really needs.
So now I’m at 29,000 words, of what I estimate to become about 95,000 word novel.

Meanwhile, other projects in the works:
♦ Possible JFA article: sent to my professor/advisor for suggestions before sending it to JFA.
♦ Class final paper mostly done, thanks to the fact it’s based on last year’s ICFA paper. *whew!*
♦ Book review for Extrapolation–way behind. (Weird; book reviews are supposed to be one of the easiest “scholarly” articles to do, and I’m finding it most difficult.)
♦ Will be sending a story out to Realms of Fantasy at lunch today.

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Fanon and its Review from a Postmodern Perspective

Fanon and its Review from a Postmodern Perspective

In the spirit of full disclosure, it must be said that I have not read John Edgar Wideman’s Fanon; so, it will be assumed throughout this essay that what the NPR book reviewer, Maureen Corrigan, has to say about it is accurate for the basis of an analysis of cultural production. From a standpoint that “text is a social space,” this is not altogether inappropriate as one of Roland Barthes’ main contentions is that there is no absolute and empirical meaning behind a text — in contrast to the liberal humanist point of view held up through the 1950s (and continuing today in some corners). In the traditional view, it was believed that a work of literature had only one inherent meaning, one appropriate way to examine and interpret the work. Barthes, on the other hand, promoted the idea that the work itself, its form and its function, is at least as important and valuable of a subject of examination as the text — if not more so.

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