Monday, September 26, 2005

It's Back: Now that is back up, look for updates frequently. We've even begun to consider dabbling in flash animations and podcasting. We'll probably get around to doing them right around the time when something else is hip and new.

Saturday Story: This is not one I finished this week, but rather one "From The Archives," so to speak. It's a little bit of nonsense called, "Moonshine," and if you're wondering why you've never seen it before, it's because it never really did what I wanted it to do. I got exactly one critique on it before, and it was before I knew enough about criticism to know which questions to ask, so it's still mostly as it was then.

It's about 24 pages and just over 5,000 words long. As always, email me if you're able to give it a look. I could really use your help on this one.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Saturday Story: This week's story is a short one. It's called, "At The End Of His Rope," and it's a juvenile western about a kid who's about to be lynched by a mob of goldminers who think he's a jinx. It comes in at under 10 pages, about 1500 words.

As always, email if you're able to send a critique.

And while I'm on the subject, anybody know any good markets for juvenile westerns?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Saturday's Story: The story I'd like to send around this Saturday is a rather quirky little piece called, "The Karmatic Balancing Act." I'm a little nervous about sending this one out first, because while I like it a whole lot, I'm afraid that may be totally personal predilection and others may find it merely odd.

So even at the risk that it will turn you off to reading anything more by me, I ask: Who would like a copy?

It's 32 pages in double spaced courier, right around 7,500 words. It tells the story of an accountant who learns Karma guarantees the medicine always has to be as bad as the disease.

Why I'm Not Libertarian, Part II: Some time ago, I posted a bunch of reasons why I wasn't Libertarian. I won't bother to find that again.

But I found a quote today that wonderfully sums up the other part.

So much of Libertarianism is tied up in my mind with Objectivism, the philosophy that says if you look out for yours and I look out for mine, we will both of us end up alright.

Objectivism, as I understand it, even goes so far as to explain altruism in selfish terms, saying that because I "love" another, that makes him part of me, and so in looking after him I am ultimately looking after myself.

Here's the quote I found:

Many of us can recount experiences in which we lost ourselves in the service of others and found those moments to be among the most rewarding of life. Everyone actively involved in serving God by reaching out to others can recount similar stories, as can devoted parents and marriage partners who have given of their time and means, who have loved and sacrificed so greatly that their concern for each other and for their children has known almost no bounds.

What a therapeutic and wonderful thing it is for a man or woman to set aside all consideration of personal gain and reach out with strength and energy and purpose to help the unfortunate, to improve and beautify the community, to clean up the environment. How much greater would be the suffering of the homeless and the hungry in our own communities without the service of hundreds of volunteers who give of their time and substance to assist them. All of us need to learn that life is a mission and not simply a career.

Tremendous happiness and peace of mind are the results of loving service to others. Nobody can live fully and happily who lives only unto himself or herself.

Now granted, I'm not a Democrat either, because I do not believe virtue like this can be "imposed" on those who don't have it.

But the idea that selfishness is a virtue and that being self-serving will lead humanity to reach its greatest potential requires mental and semantic gymnastics I won't be a part of.

Yeah, yeah. I know the circular argument. "If co-operation is truly what's best for us, then our craving to have the best for ourselves will drive us to co-operation!"

We agree it's a circle, we just disagree on which direction we should be moving in. The objectivist says to start by looking in, and your frustration and lack of fulfillment will eventually give you reasons to look out.

I say start out by looking out, and by the time you get around to noticing yourself again, you'll already be delighted with what you find there.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Readers: First, my heartfelt thanks to all of you who read my last story. I really appreciate it. Your comments were all thoughtful and helpful. You're an amazing bunch of friends.

Now, I have kind of an insane request.

First, let me be up front that I'm confident the answer this question will mostly be no. In fact, I expect "NO's" all around.

Here's the situation.

I want to put myself through a writing "boot camp" for one year. From now until the end of next year, I want to write one story a week, and rewrite one story each weekend.

Most of these would be short stories (less than 7,500 words) although occasionally, I might write a longer story over a two-week period. Also, I'll probably miss a lot of weeks, especially in the beginning.

The hope is that by the end of next year, I'll have 50 stories kicking around, and that I will have learned a little something about the process of writing. About the discipline that it takes to get words out consistently, about the process of turning a fraction of an idea into a story, and, most importantly, about entertaining readers.

It's this last part I need help with. What I'm wondering is if there's anybody who's willing to read at least some of this massive amount of stuff I'll (hopefully) be cranking out.

It would be reader-response criticism, like I've talked about before. It doesn't require anything more than what you already are good at--reading something and deciding what you like and don't like about it. Letting me know when the story was exciting, when it was boring, when you cared about the characters and when you didn't. It's not just criticism, but also an accounting of your experience as a reader.

In other words, I will try do one thing when I write the story, but your job is to tell me what I actually did.

No obligations to finish anything. If you read three pages and decide it isn't for you, great. Send it back and tell me why you were able to put it down. No obligations to do it every week. If you don't have the chance to get to a bunch of them, don't sweat it.

But what I'll do is post here each week that I finish one, and then, if you think you might be able to get to it, email me and tell me. If not, don't sweat it.

This will give me a motivation to write, because I know people will see here if I finished anything, so it will be a kind of check-in.

What I'm looking for, though, are thoughts on whether anyone feels they'd even be able to participate partly. If not, that's fine, like I said. But if so, then please let me know either in the comments here or in my email.

If you're someone who reads this blog, but has never read my fiction, here's a little info: I'm a decent fiction writer. I've been an Honorable Mention in the Writers Of The Future contest, been published semi-professionally, and received lots of encouraging comments from editors. In other words, I'm getting ever closer to that precipice that separates the pro from the amateur, and I really want to make the leap.

This means the fiction you read will not be unspeakably bad, but it will need comments, suggestions, tips and help to make it be, as they say, all it can be.

And, hopefully, it will gradually get better.

So if anybody is willing to hang in there with me, to any degree, please let me know, so I know whether or not to worry about posting the info here as each story becomes available.