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Writing Report, July 7, 2016


Donald Duck reads what he wrote

I’m using Expresso, a nice little editing app you can use for free online, to digitally prep the manuscript for “The Most Dangerous Man In The World:  The Lost Classic G.I. Joe Episode” for re-writing / polish / final copyediting.

Expresso does not replace a human carefully going over a manuscript, but it speeds up the process by drawing attention to weak verbs, run on sentences, etc.  I’m a little less than halfway done with the preliminary pass of the manuscript thru Expresso; the free version can’t seem to handle more than 1,500 or so words without freezing up so I’m feeding the story thru two or three scenes at a time.

Expresso finds the most problems with my writing in the non-action scenes; it seems to like my action and combat writing just fine.

As with most writers I’ve got several projects going simultaneously, including a very dark barbarian fantasy which I mentioned previously.  I wrote a scene for it the other night which “works” insofar as it conveys the necessary information the story requires at that point but does so in a really awkward and way out of character manner for my protagonist.  Expect that to get severely re-written once I finish the handwritten first draft.

The cartoon above pretty much sums up my feelings once I finished writing the scene.

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One More River To Cross…


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.


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


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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Banned Books Week


When I was in high school, the most widely read book was not found in the library.  It was a tattered paperback that passed from hand to hand under desks, and was often read furtively while the teacher was trying to get across some finer points of algebra.

Call Me Brick

Call Me Brick by Munroe Howard was a crappy book, a Candy-wannabe only without Terry Southern’s nasty edge and sly wit, but we must have read that one single paperback to shreds before the semester was finished.  I think every single student read it at least once (and Reader Zero was a girl who brought it in to share with her friends, and one of them loaned it to her boyfriend on the football team and he shared it with us and so on and so on and so on…)

I bring it up because this is Banned Books Week, in which the censors yet again fail to learn that the surest way of getting a kid to do anything is to say it’s bad for ’em.

Look, I appreciate parents wanting to make sure their kids aren’t exposed to material they think would be harmful to them (I’ve got my copy of The Anarchist Cookbook well hidden from prying young eyes).

But that applies only to your kids and only in your home; in a public setting such as a library or a school, it’s not your place, it’s not my place, and it’s certainly not some uptight jackanape’s place to decide what is / is not right / wrong for other people’s kids or young adults when they reach their teen years.

Show some support for the First Amendment by going to your local public library branch and reading something that would get some bluenose’s knickers in a twist.

Tell ’em Judy Blume and Steve King sent you…

And if you’re wondering how a Christian can support “bad” books, it’s because I know once you get rid of the “bad” books the next one to go will be the “good” book.

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Heading For The Last Round-Up (On This Story At Least…)



This N.C. Wyeth illo has
nothing to do with my story,
I just thot it looked nice.

Finished the second draft of my YA neo-Western earlier this week.  I never write exactly the same way twice no matter what I do.  Sometimes the ideas come out almost completely wholly formed in the first rush, other times they need to be teased out through several missteps, other times still the basic idea stands but needs to be worked on and polished.

In this case I had the core idea about 14 years ago; had my set up, core characters, basic conflict, and ending in mind.  From 2007 through early 2011 I began noodling down all the possible incidents and complications I could think of related to the central idea, as well as some light preliminary research.

Research can occur anywhere in the process.  Some stories I’ve written have been the result of finally finding the story spine to an idea in the research, other stories have little if any initial research and just enough on the final draft to make sure I haven’t made any egregious miztakes.

For this story a basic knowledge of the background was all I needed to get it plotted out.  Once I finished the plot I started writing it while at the gym, pecking out 500-1,000 words a day on my cell phone while on pedaling an exercise bike.

Finished the first draft on November 7th, 2011.  Printed it up, let it lay fallow for a while then did red ink copy editing / re-writing in mid-2012.  Did a lot of research during this period for details, not core ideas.  Finally picked it up again for for a serious re-write in late December / early January; wrapped up that draft three days ago.

I’m going to let it sit for a few weeks, then do another red ink edit followed by a third re-write in…?  (Hopefully not too long; this has been sitting around much too much as it is.)

First draft is to get the story down:  Who-what-when-where.
Second draft is to shape the form:  How.
Third draft will be for characters & style:  Why.

Will there be a fourth draft?  Probably not to this extent, but I’ll doubtlessly be tweaking and polishing up until the point where I actually upload it for readers.

As has been pointed out,
stories are never released,
they escape…

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SERENITY: “I Wanna Be A Zombie!”


(part two)

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There’s a million and one loud stupid movies crowding for your attention this year, but something with genuine charm, wit, and insight gets stuck in 4 theaters nationwide prior to being dumped on cable / on-demand / DVD+Blu-Ray.

If you’re familiar with Wes Anderson‘s work, Moonrise Kingdom is another delightful film from him.  If you’re not, here’s a wonderful introduction.

The story takes place in 1965, the plot is an interesting inversion of Romeo and Juliet.  Troubled pre-teens Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) scheme to runaway together on the small New England island of New Penzance.  Their chaste elopement is soon discovered by her parents, his “Khaki Scouts” troop[1], and the local authorities, who promptly go bonkers attempting to track down the young would-be lovers.

…and the twist is they catch ’em about halfway through the film!

But the twist on the twist is that after that, his troop, the local island cop, and eventually even her own parents realize it would be more harmful to the young pair to deny them a chance at happiness together, regardless of the odds facing them.[2]

As I said, the film takes Romeo and Juliet and twists the story around.  The feuding families of the original now co-operate, first in tracking them down then in helping them find happiness.  The nurse of the original play, an ally of Juliet’s, now becomes an implacable antagonist.  The priest, Romeo’s ally, is now a sleazy camp counselor-cum-chaplain who marries the pair in a tent.

There are layers upon layers of secrets and import through the film, which takes cliched melodramatic tropes and delivers them with a delicious deadpan worthy of Dragnet, thus sucking the irony right out of them and giving them an almost poetic / philosophical weight.

There is a surprising innocence in this film, which probably comes as a surprise to some.  I saw this film with my wife, Soon-ok, and a female family friend.  Soon-ok and our friend were both uncomfortable with a scene where Sam and Suzy make out in their runaway camp on the beach.

But the scene is played without any real erotic tension.  Sam and Suzy do love one another and do care deeply for each other, but they perform their brief kissing and caressing less with a sense of romantic urgency than an almost dutiful obligation to follow through on the cultural norms they’ve been exposed to in books and films.

Soon-ok and our friend thought they lacked real innocence and were acting too grown-up, but that was precisely the point:  They were kids who were acting grown-up! The characters in the film deliberately adopt toy-like markers of adult responsibility — a souvenir corncob pipe, a BB-gun in lieu of a real rifle, a mini-canoe instead of a real one.

I was 12 in 1965 and this film rings very true re my recollections of what my own burgeoning sexuality was like.  I knew something was going on and I knew I liked it, but I couldn’t have correctly identified it for you for love or money, much less known what to do with it.  It only a few years to turn vague stirrings into very concrete ideas and desires, but at age 12 I was like the proverbial car-chasing pooch:  I wouldn’t have known what to do if I had caught one.

So I recommend this film highly and
urge you to make an effort to see it,
if not in theaters then on video.
It deserves a better fate than the one it’s getting.




[1]  Obviously they weren’t able to cut a deal with the Boy Scouts of America to use their names or trademarked logos.

[2]  That’s not really a spoiler because the manner in which it happens is funny and inventive and besides this ain’t the kinda movie that’s gonna slip you an unhappy ending.

Kara Hayward

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(so what’s update #6
doing here after update #7?
I ska-rooed up,
dat’s wot hoppen…)


Now to give them names and faces, histories and descriptions.

Creating characters is part art, part science, part inspiration.

When I was growing up, I read a lot of stories in Boy’s Life, the Boy Scout magazine.  Many of them were about plucky Boy Scouts[1] finding themselves in challenging situations where as luck would have it, their merit badge skills and knowledge came through to save the day.

I must’ve read dozens of these stories, and I can’t remember a one:
They all blend together in a blur of resolute young lads who
never had an ignoble thought or went to the bathroom.[2]

If my characters were going to be memorable,
the first thing I needed to do was to kill off all the good girls.

Nobody likes a goody-two-shoes (me, especially) and by making my girls
the losers,

the outcasts,

the problem cases

I ratchet up the stakes.

Logically there would be a supervising adult with them, one of the nuns, but my story couldn’t use a real authority figure, so I came up with Sister Agnes, a young novitiate who was an upperclassman when the other girls were freshmen.

She, too, had been a problem case and the other girls remember this and have a hard time taking her seriously.

A hard, hard time.

There’s no one way of creating a story, you don’t always start at one point and build out from there.  Once I had my basic idea and knew what type of characters I would be using, the next step was plotting the story out.

This story was going to be more picaresque than something with a more linear plot.[3] There were any number of things that could happen to the girls, so I drew up a list of all eventualities.

Soon they began organizing themselves:
These things could only happen while drifting at sea,
these would be items of immediate concern once they found land,
these were natural perils,
these were man-made.

And each idea had the potential for spinoff ideas:
The sister demands decorum from the girls, but it’s a desert island, how do you balance propriety with practicality?

[1]  Wow!  What are the odds of that!

[2]  Though they could, of course, dig a perfect field latrine and rig a rustic shower out of two saplings and an old bucket.

[3]  A mystery, for example, where each clue leads to the next.


(to be continued)


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The ideas also dictated the size of the cast.  I started out with close to a dozen girls, bumping them off with drownings, sharks, suicide, infection, etc.

Hmmm, maybe too many deaths.
I want the story to have a semblance to reality,
but I want it to be upbeat as well.

More Googling, more research.  Combine incidents, offer less lethal outcomes.  The infection now becomes an acne-related cyst.[1] Draining that cyst now becomes a gross-but-funny scene.

And how do they sterilize it?
Well, turns out one of the
man-made complications
ties in with that, just how
I won’t reveal here.

This is one way of creating a story, following each idea through to its logical conclusion, then seeing how it connects.

Without the need to kill off as many characters,
my cast was soon whittled down to a core seven:
The novitiate and six students.

Already knew who Sister Agnes — “Aggie the Naggy” — was.
What about her charges?

Well, as stated, troublemakers, problems, losers.

One of them is the outcast Filipino girl.

She needs an antagonist, a petty little bigot, a bully.  Southerners of that era, I am sorry to say, were pretty open and upfront with their prejudices.  So we have one spoiled Southern belle in the crew.

All bullies have toadies, so give her an easily manipulated younger girl who views her with hero-worshipping eyes.

There’s the big fat girl nobody ever talks to, the one who does nothing but sit in the library and read and study and get straight A’s on her tests.[2]

We need a comic relief.  We’re going to get some laughs and smiles from all the others, but we need one who can always be relied on to say or do something to break then tension.

There’s an old British sit-com called Keeping Up Appearances about a social climbing middle class woman named Hyacinth Buckett (“Pronounced ‘Bouquet’!”) who drives everyone around her nuts with indefatigable attitude.  Okay, the social climbing is off-putting, but the indefatigable attitude that gets on everyone’s nerves is charming.  So we’ll add a Brit to the mix.

Finally, a character who at first seemed to be superfluous but whom I kept around simply because I needed one more player for the other characters to bounce off of.

When Savage Angels was being planned as a graphic novel, I really couldn’t find much use for her, but when it became a prose novel, suddenly she stepped forward as the narrator — and in retrospect, only she could be the narrator.

(I tend to do that a lot,
include characters and
incidents that seemingly
have little if any bearing
on the story only to later
realize they’re the lynch pin.)

Now that I had their types, I needed their personalities, their histories.

[1]  Acne is a severe problem for many Caucasians living in tropical climes.

[2]  And is her stock ever going to rise once the others realize she has knowledge that can keep them alive.

(to be continued)


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SERENITY: The Lord’s Prayer


Found here.

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