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One More River To Cross…

26/06/2016

At 10pm on the nose last night, the first draft of my G.I. Joe Kindle Worlds’ novel “The Most Dangerous Man In The World” was completed.

=Whew!=

The book has been a long time a-gestatin’, and even though I have a re-write and polish yet to go, it’s now in the close-to-being-done stage.

After I do a quick spelling & grammar check on it, it will lay fallow for a few weeks.  During that time I will get “The Rustlers Of Rimrock” ready for release.

“Poor Banished Children Of Eve”, my World War Two-era “Lord Of The Flies” with Catholic school girls story, has been ready to go for some time.  As soon as “The Rustlers Of Rimrock” is ready to go online, then “Poor Banished Children Of Eve” will go up and I’ll start the polish on “The Most Dangerous Man In The World”.

That book will go up next, followed by “The Rustlers Of Rimrock”.

What have I got on deck past that?

Quite a lot, actually.

The next book is going to be a big massive multi-character farce based on a real life incident.  I want to do some “Serenity” stories (my “Serenity”, not Joss Whedon’s).  I’ve got three novels in stall-mode that can be restarted, some older books that may be printable after another re-write, then six or eight new novels waiting their turn in the hopper.

And that’s not counting the various
short stories I currently have in circulation,
or a couple of side projects I’m involved with.

“The Most Dangerous Man In The World” took so long to write because I’ve been out of the Joe-universe for quite some time; I had to research all the characters and vehicles to make sure I got them correctly.

If I’m asking Joe fans to buy my book, the least I can do is to make it as consistent as possible.

Right now, I have to go clean a comforter our cat barfed on.

Ah, me, the thrill a minute life of the literary set…

Charles Bukowski I write as a function

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Writing Report, June 15, 2016

15/06/2016

Eddie Poe on writing sanity

Where we at?

The “WWII-era Lord Of The Flies with Catholic schoolgirls” is ready to go, has been ready to go for quite some time.

I don’t want to upload it prematurely, however, because that runs the danger of squandering the work.  The plan is to launch it as the first of three books, all coming out within a short period of time to one another (I’m aiming for three books in as many months).

The modern Western with teen girls saving horses is in first draft, with one pass through on the editing.  I want to spend at least a couple of weeks going over it before making it ready to upload, but when I can devote full time to it I should see it complete in three to four weeks.

“The Most Dangerous Man In The World: The Lost G.I. Joe Episode” is nearing completion, I’m at the start of the climactic battle.

But it’s slow going, a tough slog.  I’ve been out of the Joe world / mindset for quite some time, and while some of the characters come back readily as old friends, for the most part I’ve had to do a lot of research and double checking.

If I’m going to pitch this to readers as an authentic G.I. Joe story by an authentic G.I. Joe writer, I’ve got to do my homework and make it as accurate as possible.

I have no illusions that I’ll pull it off 100%.
I’m sure there will be lots of
details I’ll miss or garble up.

Back when we were doing the series, I didn’t have to know the proper name and nomenclature for every vehicle and weapon; I could just write “The Joe tanks fire at the Cobra tanks” and let the animators and storyboard departments worry about what it looked like.

Not this time.  This time I have to maintain a patina of consistency.  (Though I’ve got to say Hasbro themselves were never sticklers for consistency, and frequently the same vehicle or weapon would have radically different capabilities from toy to TV show to comic book to card game.)

Once “The Most Dangerous Man In The World” is completed, it’ll sit aside for a few weeks as I go over the Western, then as the Western is with beta readers, I’ll do my re-write on the Joe book.

It will be extensive because I am writing this one large, throwing everything in and often creating some redundancies that will have to be attended to.

The plot isn’t going to change
but beats will be tightened.

Once the first draft of “The Most Dangerous Man In The World” is complete, things will start to move quite rapidly.  God willing and the crick don’t rise, I may have all three for download available by mid-September.

Then what?

Well, I’ve actually been enjoying quite a creative spell.  Since the first of the year I’ve written six short stories of varying length, and am about halfway through another.  I’ve also got several short stories I wrote last year that I’ve polished and have started on the rounds.*

I’ll give them five or six chances to find a paying home then post them here if nobody buys them.

On top of that, several poems (mostly short) and a handful of essays.

The short story I’m writing currently (parallel to “The Most Dangerous Man In The World”, one by collegiate composition notebook, the other on my iMac) is expanding as I write it.  I first thought of it as a short story in the 3,000 word range, but now I’ve reached the 6,400 word mark and am still adding stuff.

It’s expanding because the world it’s set in is getting richer, more complex.  It’s a heroic fantasy story but one that’s sufficiently different from most stories in the genre to stand out.

It features a very dark protagonist (dark in more than one sense of the word) and its hard to reconcile their actions with any sort of conventional heroic morality, which I think is what makes them so interesting.

It’s not going to have a happy ending.  Evil will be vanquished, but it will still not be a happy ending.

And for those anxious to read “The Most Dangerous Man In The World”, I’m making progress.  But the short stories are flashes of fire, not a long slog, and as such I can complete them in just a few days (typically; this one is running longer but through no fault of its own).

After that?

I’ve got a big novel planed, dozens if not potentially hundreds of characters (most small walk-ons, but still crucial to the story; it’s similar to The Simpsons insofar as the support cast builds the reality of the premise).  It’s not going to be a science fiction or fantasy story, but I think most people will enjoy it as a pretty broad farce and satire on small town morality.

And past that?

I’ve got tons of stuff in the hopper.  I have books where I have started on them years ago, hit a good stride, then slammed into a wall.

I’ve learned for me that when that happens it’s foolish to attempt to force anything; it will only ring false and have to be thrown out and redone.  So when the next book is done (i.e., book #4, the small town farce) then I’m going to go back through these stalled out stories and see if my subconscious has come up with any ideas.

Right now I have enough ideas on tap to keep
me occupied for the next decade, if not longer.

*  If you’re wondering how I’ve managed to increase my creative productivity, it’s because I am under one helluva lot of stress in my personal life and writing is the only safe outlet.  My books tend to be upbeat and optimistic since I don’t want to spend all that time with a downer story, but the short stories have been very heavy and dark recently.  I cannot relax and I find myself getting constantly bombarded by new squalls and pressures.  It’s coming out in the short fiction, and even when the stories read light, the core tends to be rather heavy.

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How Many People Could Be Happy?

8/06/2016

How many people could be happy?
Tonight, tomorrow
In the next five minutes
In the next five years
What would it take
To make all these people happy?
Not with shallow smiles
But hearts burning with flames?
What would it take
And who would take it?

 

text © Buzz Dixon

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Aren’t You Reading ASHES TO ASHEVILLE Yet?

2/06/2016

Mi amigo John Shore is hard at work on a new novel, Ashes To Asheville, which, in the time honored tradition of Charles Dickens and Armistead Maupin, is being serialized in a newspaper, in this case the Asheville Citizen-Times.

I’ll let John describe it:

“It’s the story of Tammy, a 45-year-old mother of two grown children whose husband of 22 years … well, let’s just say critically disappoints her.

“For 10 years she taught art and painting at a San Diego junior college. She thought her life was settled. And suddenly she discovers that it’s anything but. This launches her into what is, to say the least, an unsettling time for her.

“In her anguish, Tammy flees her comfortable life in San Diego for the home of her beloved half-brother, Charlie, who lives in Asheville.

“And if you’re going to be thrust into an intensely wrenching, soul-upheaving season of your life, in which so much of what you know, or thought you knew, about yourself is essentially up for grabs, then Asheville is certainly a spectacularly unique place to have that experience. It sure proves to be for her, anyway.”

Check it out. As a former resident of Asheville (and with family members still living there), I can say he’s capturing the flavor and spirit of the town in a really well crafted story.

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Things I Do When I Should Be Working

1/06/2016

arthur sarnoff -  want ads cap

 art by Arthur Sarnoff

That’s the title of my new Tumblr account, which I mentioned I’d be putting up back in this post.

Beast by John Byrne cap

Beast by John Byrne [tm] Marvel

This will be mostly stuff that I’ve posted on my Instagram and Twitter feeds, some here, a few (very few) on Facebook, and perhaps a few that haven’t been posted anywhere yet.

Clark Kent

The Instagram account will still be the source of most new picture posts of the kind shown here, with Facebook and Twitter getting linked from that.

who am I

But I set up the Tumblr account so it will be easier for people to share the stuff I do…and I do want you to share it.  Something I do for money, some things I do for fun.  The silly captions are fun.

hey wasnt that the generals jeep CAP

 

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Fortune Or Fame, Money Or Immortality

16/05/2016

I’ve posted Stephen King’s observations on what should motivate us as writers.

Let’s say that’s a given:
We write because we can’t not write.

The secondary question becomes:
What do we want to do with that writing?

(Now, some of what follows will apply to all forms of creativity, but other parts will apply very specifically to writing text, be it prose or poetry, novels or short stories, journalism or fiction. Draw from it what ye may…)

As stated elsewhere, I’m no fan of the current extremely long[1] copyright on new material.

The shortest current copyright duration in the US is 95 years for a work-for-hire published within 25 years of when it was created (if created as a work-for-hire but never published, copyright is 120 years from the date of creation).

The longest copyright is the life of the creator + 70 years, which — assuming a work is created at age 25 and the creator dies at age 75 — is 125 years but could run longer.

Now, if the objective is to control use of the material and see that one gets money from every use, these copyrights seem like a good idea.

However, as has been demonstrated,
that’s not what copyright exists for.

If the objective is to see to it that one’s work survives to another generation, that it is read and remembered and spread around and re-interpreted and generally enters into mainstream pop culture, then copyright is not so good.

We have numerous examples of writers, once well known and respected and enjoyed by thousands if not millions of readers, virtually vanishing from the public consciousness because their estates:

  • don’t know what to do with their creations
  • don’t care to find out what to do
  • are actively embarrassed by what was written
  • have unrealistic ideas about what the material is worth
  • simply don’t know what material exists, much less who owns what rights
  • any combination thereof

People who know and enjoy the material and wish to share it with others are stymied because until it enters the public domain, there is no safe way to publish or distribute the works.

People inspired by a work, say the way Charles Gounod was inspired by William Shakespeare who in turn was inspired by Ovid, can not use that work to create new material.[2]

The result is a stifling of the literary landscape, a silencing of voices that, despite being from previous generations, still offer much to say to modern audiences.

The previous US copyright term — 56 years total — was sufficient for exploitation by the creator. A successful work could see several profitable print iterations, in multiple formats and languages, and more importantly, spread the writer’s reputation, thus generating more interest in their other work.

At the end of that period the work could be freely shared and adapted. A writer’s loss of potential income was offset by their value as a cultural touchstone; Edgar Rice Burroughs is no less a cultural influencer from his works falling into the public domain than not.

Let’s look at our hypothetical 25 year old author; if she passes away at age 75, by old copyright law her estate would still enjoy control of her material for another 6 years.

But let’s say her work, despite its quality, does not remain a perennial best seller. Rather, it falls to the backlist and as such disappears from view because there is not enough potential income to justify promoting it.

As such, after her death and despite the best intentions of her estate, the work remains out of print for six years.

After that, enthusiasts for her work (fans, scholars, teachers) would be free to share it with another generation.

Not being limited to commercial publishing, they could circulate the work freely (if digitally) or at minimum cost (hard copy), thus introducing another generation of readers and fans to the material.

This is exactly how a lot of authors who were in danger of vanishing from the literary realm found themselves becoming overlooked masters of their craft by later generations.

Once the profit motive was removed, their resurgence in popularity was driven purely by enthusiasm for the material, not a major corporation’s bottom line.

Now, it’s fair to say this presumably posthumous rediscovery is moot to the now deceased author.[3]

But it’s also fair to say that often times this
is their only chance at literary immortality.

You see, if the generation that knew them and enjoyed them can’t pass that torch along to the next generation of readers and fans…

…then that torch may sputter and die.

An additional half century may not seem like much, but that’s time enough for three generations to come on the scene and be completely ignorant of the value of a pre-existing work. Not only does the work lose its potential influence, but the works that would have been inspired and derived from it are lost as well.

The currently insanely long copyright terms are not for the benefit of individual human creators; rather they are so corporations can exert a bottleneck that simultaneously crowds new creator-owned material out of the market while at the same time forcing customers to select from a limited range of corporate-owned options in direct contradiction to what our constitution established copyright for![4]

animated mono mickey wink

[1]  And threatening to get longer.

[2]  At least without fear of having the bejeebers sued out of them.

[3]  Or rather, almost always deceased; Irving Berlin lived to see several of his earliest hits slip into the public domain. He did not miss any meals because people could play “Come, Josephine, In My Flying Machine” without sending him royalties.

[4]  There is a solution to the tension between corporate control and individual copyrights, and that is to let the corporations continue to hold specific trademarks while allowing the public at large the right to use those characters and concepts as they see fit. Thusly, the Disney corporation could continue to market the mouse as The Official Mickey Mouse while the public could use now the character’s public domain stories and images as they saw fit. All this would entail would be a periodic minor redesign of characters as they already do anyway to accommodate changing public tastes. The brand would not be damaged because audiences would know that without the official seal, any Mickey Mouse product would just not be “official”.

 

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Nora Roberts’ Top 3 Pieces Of Writing Advice

4/05/2016

Nora Roberts top 3 pieces of writing advice

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A Poem

28/04/2016

Drew Friedman - Screw magazine 651

I met a man
A dirty man
A’pissin’ in the sink

I said, “Hey, man!
Whatcha doin’, man?!?!?
Pissin’ in the sink?!?!?”

He continued to pee
But turned to me,
Saying with a wink:

“Don’t stop and stare
‘Cuz I don’t care
What other people think.”

So I killed him dead
Chopped off his head
And left it in the sink

The moral is:
Don’t piss or whiz
Where other people drink

art by Drew Friedman
for Screw magazine #651

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David Lynch On Fishing For Ideas

26/04/2016

David Lynch on deep downthis is an idea I’ve touched on a couple of times myself

 

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Ray Bradbury On How To Write A Good Short Story

14/04/2016

Ray bradbury write a story

“Write a short story every week.
It’s not possible to write 52 bad
short stories in a row.” — Ray Bradbury

“I’ve proved otherwise.” — David Gerrold

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