Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Shameless" at Karen Berner's Blog

Today I'm lending one of my darlings from 2011 to Karen Berner's Bibliophilic blog. "Shameless" was one of my favorite things to write all last year for Cheryl and her outlook on apartment life. She gets some unwanted neighbors, who are either newlyweds or axe murderers. I'll leave it up to you to decide.

You can read the story by clicking here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Renegade Sons and Gatorade Moms, Redux Drabble

Dear Son,

Firstly, the state of West Virginia abolished the death penalty decades ago. No hangman is coming for you.

You’ve been like this ever since I was elected. You’re in your twenties now! I'll never forget the August you attacked that nice police officer for pulling you over.

Were you speeding again? Lord, if your grandfather could see you.

By the time you read this you’ll be a free man. Please remember, little renegade, that I worked very hard so you could have it made. I'd appreciate some gratitude. At least stop getting arrested in verse.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Alpha Reactions to Beta Readers

Four of my six beta readers have turned in their notes on The House That Nobody Built. A fifth also had, but withdrew hers to do a more detailed reading. The sixth is by far the busiest of an already busy group, and for at least two weeks of the reading period I was hanging out with him, so really I have to shoulder some of the delay. He intends to deliver his by mid-January.

This week I began earnestly analyzing my critiqued copies. I’ve managed to pound one 470-page manuscript per day, which feels mildly satisfying. Despite taking two solid months away from the manuscript, anything they ask causes some paternal part of me to sit up and answer. I know my baby’s cry.

The knowledge feels mildly satisfying, but also a little freakish. They question the spelling of a name, or an awkward sentence, or what constitutes personhood to an astral being, and I know exactly what they mean. Dozens of times I’ve seen the merit and changed it immediately; dozens more I’ve made a note to examine specific context after I finish aggregating the responses. Even when the beta readers dislike something, I enjoy it.

Their dislikes can still be kicks in the gut. I take them personally. I don’t pretend otherwise; I’m a marshmallow, of course I take this personally. But in addition to pangs of personal pride, I’m personally grateful that they called me out on vague plot points and failed jokes. They strove to make this a better novel. My goal is to make this the best thing I’ve ever written. They are helping me toward that which I worked the hardest in 2011. This is personal.

Sitting down to pizza with one beta reader, he recounted how I underdescribed settings for his taste. After three minutes, he broke off to say how unnerving it was that I’d been smiling through all his criticism. I wondered if I hadn’t offended him by not appearing offended. Maybe for him the critique felt like delivering a beating, but I was in a frame of mind to reflect and reform. This made me eager.

It may just be that I’m weird. I know I vary in some ways. I’m at peace with this god. Frankly, if I succeed as a novelist, my work is only going to get weirder. The House That Nobody Built is as conventional as I get; I am not coming any further along the bridge to my culture. I don’t get anymore comprehensible than my sentient ball of snakes, my unconfident confidence man, and my Succubae Hit Squad.

That’s why I’m so grateful to these beta readers, some anonymous and some public, some personal friends and some professional acquaintances. They put unreckoned amounts of time into honing what is essentially me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bathroom Math: Where Opinions Come From

I'm typically an opponent of oversimplification, but I kept doodling this during a recent literary debate. Eventually it made me wonder about some of my own opinions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

'Gates of Eden' Review up at A Reader's Heaven

Today one of my book reviews is appearing in two ways over at A Reader's Heaven. It's on Ethan Coen's Gates of Eden, a short story collection and one of my favorite things I read all last year. It royally roasts many pulp conventions through humiliation and humility. I couldn't recommend it more unless you clicked the link over to the review.

I said "two ways." The site corresponds to a book store in Australia. In addition to e-publication, a physical copy is on display in their storefront as a recommendation to buyers. Yeah. One of my reviews is hanging in a book store in Australia. That's humbling.

One of the store's proprietors is Paul Phillips, an old internet acquaintance of mine from back in the days when I was addicted 6S. He was also one of the first people to stump for my fundraiser when I couldn’t afford surgery. I’m pretty darned happy to have a review hanging in his store.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Ascent of Man, Over Trashcan

Man starts out disliking the automatic trashcan. The sensor seems unreliable, and the lid closes too soon. On Uses 1-5, he waves his hand like an impotent magician, and for both Uses 3 and 5, the automatic lid closes while he’s still spooning expired pasta into it. On Use 5, the dangling strings of pasta form a distinct and mocking tongue sticking out of the can.

Uses 6-15 are largely resigned. He can’t argue his roommates into returning the thing, and he can’t can it to recognize a wave of his hand. Uses 7-9 and 12 require him to pry the lid open manually. Use 14 is accidental, as his hip brushes too close as he passes the can and it opens for no greater reason than to share its odors.

For uses 16-18, he makes the sign of the cross over the lid. The trashcan is stolidly secular and refuses to open. It does not laugh at his exorcism jokes.

Uses 19-23 are all accidental openings when he walks to close to it. Use 24-26 feature him trying to dangle his arm over the sensor in the lid as he would while walking, hoping this will open it. This never works.

Use 27 is when he walks too close to it and, again, it opens for no reason other than to taunt him.

During Use 28, it closes on his fingers. He is chastised for punching the automatic trash can “in its smug face.”

Uses 29-31 are the worst, as his roommates explicitly show him how to move your hand to make it open. Use 32 takes him ten minutes of hand-waving. He is not catching on.

Use 33 features him walking too close and it opening automatically. He tosses in a half-eaten banana on principle. Herein, he derives an idea.

Uses 34-400 feature him walking with his hip jutting out near the trashcan. The stupid thing opens every time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Consumed 3, Featuring SciFi TV and Zombies

This Sunday I'm proud to present to you Consumed Episode 3. It features what I'd conservatively peg as one of the top five worst intros of all time. We spent most of the episode discussing Science Fiction television with a focus on Eureka, Futurama and Steins;Gate. Then we swapped over to zombie media with the recent PC game Dead Island, and Max Brooks's follow-up to World War Z, Recorded Attacks. At a certain point I rattle of my wishlist of unused premises for zombie stories.

Allegedly this episode will kick off regular bi-weekly recordings. It took far too long to produce, but with Garage Band and some regular work schedules, Max Cantor, Nat Sylva and I are pretty confident Episode 4 is coming sooner than 3 did.

You can listen to Consumed Episode 3 here.

And yes: "Steins;Gate" is spelled that way.
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