Text to Speech

7 08 2009

My short story, “Raising Eddie,” has been released as a podcast #154 over at Pseudopod.  It’s a strange thing to hear your words being read in a stranger’s voice, although I think the vocal oerformer did a wonderful job, both in capturing the feel of the story and in representing the voices of the characters.  His version of Vera Wash gave me the creeps.

This wasthe first time I’ve submitted a story to a podcast, but the experience has been entirely pleasant.  I hope you enjoyed the story if you’ve already listened to it, and if you haven’t — what are you waiting for?


New Stuff

30 07 2009

I’m working on an online-only piece called “The Engine.”  It can be found on the Jackalope Preservation Society site, which is the site of my writing group.

I’m writing the entire thing on the fly, as sort of an experiment. When I’m finished with it, I’ll probably republish it here on my writing site as its own page. The process has been very different, so far, but enjoyable.

In additional news, my short story “Raising Eddie” will be coming out on Pseudopod in the next week or so.

Living on scraps…

7 07 2009

Being a writer is a terrible thing. You sit alone in a room, ignoring your loved ones, often writing stories so horrific that they burn your mind and singe your soul, or so sublime that you end shaking or in tears.

And that’s the good part. Then comes rewriting, which is like eating yourself, using only a blunt spoon as a utensil. It’s a constant battle against complete ego dissolution. You change and you cut until you’re not sure if the story is getting better or not, until you’re not even sure who you are or what made you think you had anything to say.

And then it really gets bad. Then you select a market for your story. The choices here seem to get smaller every day. Either the magazine/webzine/etc. is entirely vanished, or it’s closed to submission until some months hence. You eventually find just the right market — one that wants complex stories that aren’t quite one thing and aren’t quite another — and is actually willing to read your work.

You send your darling child, your bastard curse away to some stranger, knowing that it’s one of dozens or hundreds gone through by an overworked editor who’s just finished reading his 27th re-telling of true vampire love, and you hope she isn’t having a bad day.

And when the rejection letter comes, it’s enough that it holds one sentence more than the last rejection letter they sent you. I tiny line encouraging you to submit something else.

Most days, that’s the payment for all the work and worry, and somehow it’s enough.

Fiction Liberation Front

21 04 2009

Lewis Shiner has bestowed a great gift on the internet. Like many other authors, he’s begun putting his short stories up under the Creative Commons license. He’s been kind enough to format them in both HTML and PDF, and the list is big and wonderful. He’s also included his newest novel, a handful of screenplays, and some wonderful articles.

Shiner’s one of those speculative fiction writers that hasn’t received nearly the attention he should, in part due to his unwillingness to be pinned down to a particular genre format, which makes him one of my heroes. He was one of the early mirrorshade-carrying cyberpunks, but his works sprawl all over the map.

His novel, GLIMPSES, is one of the most touching stories about a son searching for his father I’ve ever read. Publishers didn’t seem to know what to make of it, as it contained time travel via a mystical stereo, and I’ve found it shelved all over.

Lew let me pick his brain about writing a long time ago at a comic convention, when he was writing the DC series Hackers, and I’ve always been grateful for how kind and helpful he was. Go check out the Fiction Liberation Front and read some of the stories he’s given us. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Line Between Dark Humor and Just Dark

21 04 2009

I’m reading Carl Hiaasen again. Soon I won’t be able to say that anymore. There’s only one of his crime books I haven’t read at this point.

Reading him is a sort of awe-inspiring thing for me. Hiaasen walks such a fine edge on the line between funny and twisted depravity that I’m not sure how he does it most of the time. How do you write a scene where an old woman is fed to a crocodile and make it funny and horrific at the same time without giving the reader whiplash?

This is an important question for me, as I’m currently plotting my crime novel, which is meant to be humorous, but involves quite a few horrible deaths. Hence, I’m turning to someone who does it well, hoping to learn a few things. What kind of alchemy is needed to make the brutal death of a human being an occasion for laughter, without leaving the reader feeling dirty?

Writing in Books

19 04 2009

I don’t write in books. I think it’s fair to point that out up front. I find it roughly similar to intentionally urinating in your own bed. Maybe that’s extreme, but it’s how I feel. I was raised not to fear books (my dad put books in our cribs), but to respect them. We didn’t dog-ear or write in them. It just wasn’t done.

I buy a bunch of books second hand, and check books out of the library, so I’ve gotten used to seeing other people’s writing in books. It always makes me cringe, but last night, while re-reading a library copy of Gregory Mcdonald’s FLYNN’S IN, I saw something that simply boggled my mind.

Near the end of the book, some reader had written an “Aha!” comment about the mystery plot on one of the pages. It would have been a spoiler if it hadn’t been written next to the line wherein that particularly mystery had been revealed. It said, “Aha! Ducey Webb!” It was written in pencil and then — this is the part that caused my higher brain functions to shut down — rewritten in pen. You can clearly tell that they were so impressed by their own deductive skills that after writing it in pencil, they felt a need to go over it in pen to make sure their insight never faded.

I just don’t know what to make of that.

Speaking of Flynn, I heartily recommend all of the Fletch and Flynn books by Gregory Mcdonald. If you haven’t read them, you should, particularly if you are a writer. Even if you’re just looking for a witty an entertaining read, Gregory Mcdonald is hard to beat.

Just don’t write in them.

New Sale

4 04 2009

Pseudopod is buying the rights to one of my short stories, “Raising Eddie.” Pseudopod is a wonderful site that creates audio podcasts of stories, and I think “Raising Eddie” is going to be a treat read aloud. It’s a story about bad decisions, and what it’s like to grow up wild in the country.

I’ll have more details, including links to the finished product, later, but for now, go check out Pseudopod, PodCastle, and EscapePod, all of which recreate different kinds of fiction in audio.

In this day and age, when so many people have stopped reading for pleasure, it’s nice to know there’s still a venue for the stories.