Tag Archives: Authors

The Ostentatious Writer

I think all of us who have the writing bug have put on at least one of the affectations of the writer. This can be something as small as always writing in a coffee shop (which admittedly I’ve done twice today), to something as gauche as a beret (though that’s more of a poet than a prose thing).

Here’s a list in no particular order of some of the writer-y things I’ve succumbed to from time to time (and some of the realities afterward):

– Walk out in the middle of the night wearing a trench coat looking to observe the world after dark. Spend evening in Buckeye Donuts only to later regret eating a gyro at 2am.

– Write while drinking whiskey.

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– Write when you’re really tired.

– Try to write all night, end up playing video games instead.

– Buy fancy notebook with a leather binding and a Celtic cross pressed into the leather. Fill maybe 10 pages of this, then keep it on your shelf saying you’ll finish it someday.

– Write naked. Stick to pleather office chair.

– Write out on the porch while it’s raining.

– Get yourself all moody by listening to sad music, then write a depressing scene.

– Write without a censor (punch the keys damnit)!

– Write after drinking yourself jittery with caffeine.

– Keep a writing ideas notebook by your bed. Eventually pile Kindle or comic book on top of it.

– Scribble notes on random scraps of paper. Be unable to decipher notes afterward.

– Grow a beard, or a mustache.

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– Talk to yourself.

– Talk to yourself in a public place.

– Talk to yourself and hold both sides of the conversation.

– Carry around a binder filled with a thick copy of your latest draft. Take out a pen and start marking it up. Frown occasionally, sip coffee purposefully.

– Write outside under a tree.

– Pull out three tablets and be checking your draft on all of them.

– Look up to make sure people wonder what you are doing, even though everyone is typing with laptops.

– Drink more whiskey, it’s been a long day.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying one, or even all of these. In fact the writing life wouldn’t be fun without our little pretensions, the things we do to actually feel like a writer. Part of this is about ego, not just the ego that makes us think anybody will want to read what we have to say, but also that we have the creative temperament, that we stand apart from the crowd.

That said, make sure at the end of the day you’re actually doing some writing, and not just playing at it.

*For the record, writing naked is awkward, not so much because of the naughty bits, but because I have a very hairy chest and it’s kind of distracting.

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So, how’s the writing going?

What writers are thinking when you ask them “how’s the writing going?”:

  • Great! Do you have an hour for me to explain the plot to you in detail?
  • I’ve finished numbering all the pages. Now it’s time to select a font.
  • My main character’s a jerk. He never does what I tell him.
  • Why are you asking? You know I haven’t actually worked on the book in weeks don’t you?
  • Oh crap! I’ve forgotten where commas go! And what the hell is a semi-colon?!
  • My daily writing goal is 800 words a day. I’ve written 799 and I have no idea what to write next.
  • Great! How’s your diet coming along?
  • If I stare at a blank page long enough my eyes start to see colors. Eventually those colors will turn into words, I just know it.
  • Oh fine. I haven’t been spending my writing sessions reading comic books, I swear.
  • I like doing this better than my day job. I don’t mind if it never pays off. I really don’t.
  • My fingers hurt.
  • My back hurts.
  • My brain hurts.
  • I need a hug.
  • Where’s my coffee?
  • Great! How’s playing video games working out for you? Just kidding. I miss them so much!
  • I think I’ll write faster with a new keyboard.
  • I think writing by hand is best.
  • I’m going to buy myself a new leather notebook and fill it with stories.
  • I don’t need writing prompts.
  • I’m doing research on the internet. Google knows every Spanish word right?
  • Great! How’s living in your mother’s basement?
  • Answering my e-mail is writing, right?
  • I could use a snack.
  • My friend’s writing is so much better than my own.
  • I can write a better book than Twilight.
  • Great! How’s that rash been clearing up?
  • I write best if I wake up at the crack of dawn.
  • I write best after I’ve had a few drinks late at night.
  • Don’t panic.
  • You just want me to ask about your book don’t you? Conversational reciprocity, eh? Well, I’ll have none of it!
  • Any day now I’ll know where the hell this story is going.
  • Great! I’ve only rewritten the first line ten times!
  • I never forget witch words to use.
  • I haven’t mixed up my character’s names.
  • All of my character’s names do not begin with the letter C. Though they could.
  • Drawing fractals IS working on the book. Or it was anyway.
  • I need another notebook for the bedroom, in case I have any good ideas. And a waterproof one for the bathroom.
  • Great! I’m thinking of tweezing my eyebrows.
  • Microsoft Word doesn’t think my title is a word.
  • I like OpenOffice. It counts my quotation marks as words (really).
  • What I really need is a typewriter. Or a typewriter sound for my keyboard.
  • I’ve been thinking of trying Balzac’s writing trick. Just kidding!
  • Great! So when are you and Deb gonna start having children?
  • Seriously, where is my coffee?

What we actually say:

  • It’s coming along.

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Fractals: A Programmer’s Approach Available Now!

UPDATE: Unfortunately Bundle Dragon is asleep, probably forever, so this particular bundle is no longer available. However, the book is still available on Amazon. You can find the original Fractals You Can Draw posts here, or check out the gallery from the bundle here.

FractalBundleHeaderIt’s finally here!

Fractals: A Programmer’s Approach is now available for sale, bundled with a ton of bonus content.

What is the book?

Fractals: A Programmer’s Approach covers some of the basic topics of drawing fractals, from the ubiquitous Mandelbrot Set, to the Chaos Game and Turtle Graphics. The book combines detailed explanations with example programs, helpful figures, and many beautiful fractal images.

I’m not really interested in math or programming. Why should I buy this book?

For starters the book contains hundreds of beautiful images like this one:

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The bundle includes even more high resolution pictures not featured in the book as well as nearly an hour of video. Also included is the eBooklet “Fractals You Can Draw”, a compilation of the popular posts from last year which remain some of the most trafficked posts on this blog (and inspired the writing of this book). There’s something for everyone in this bundle.

So what do I get exactly?

The fractal bundle has a base price of $4.99. For $4.99 you get the book in three formats: Amazon (MOBI), Nook (EPUB) and PDF. You also get a gallery of 125 high resolution fractal images from the fractal book.

For just a dollar more ($5.99) you get the eBooklet “Fractals You Can Draw”, plus another gallery of 125 images not featured in the fractal book, plus nearly an hour of video based on the concepts explained in each chapter.

Every image and animation was created with the programs detailed in this book.

Tell me more about these videos.

There are 37 video files in all, zipped into 6 groups. Most are in AVI or MPEG format and should play with Windows Media Player or the freely available VLC media player.

Each video relates to a specific chapter of the book:

  • The Chaos Game (Chapter 1)
  • Affine Transformations (Chapter 2)
  • L-System (Chapters 3+4)
  • Mandelbrot Set (Chapter 5)
  • Julia Set (Chapter 6)

Each animation is like its own gallery, going deeper than still images or text can in exploring the nature of a fractal. If you want to get interested in fractals, here’s where to start.

I only buy eBooks from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Should I wait till this book is available there?

I will be releasing an Amazon (and possibly a Barnes and Noble) version of this book in a couple of weeks. However, neither Amazon nor Barnes and Noble can accommodate all of the bonus content (images, extra eBooks and videos) that Bundle Dragon can. And neither Amazon nor Barnes and Noble is DRM free meaning your eBook is not really yours. If you buy the book here, you’re getting the best version of this book possible and it’s yours to keep on any device or hosted in the cloud.

How do I transfer the book to my eReader?

When you download Fractals: A Programmer’s Approach you’ll get all three formats (MOBI, EPUB and PDF) zipped together in a single file. If you extract this zip file you can transfer the MOBI file to your Kindle by connecting it to your computer and copying the book to your “documents” folder. The Nook works much the same way. Or you can read the PDF right on your computer, tablet or iPad. Calibre is a great free program for organizing your own eBook library, and Sumatra PDF allows you to read eBook formats (MOBI and EPUB) on your computer as well. If you have any questions feel free to use the “Contact [BTW]” link at the top of this blog.

Where do I buy?

bentrubewriter.bundledragon.com (no longer available here, but you can buy on Amazon) or click the ad to the right of this blog.

What payment methods are accepted? I don’t tend to buy from random sites on the internet.

You can use your PayPal, Amazon or Google accounts to buy the bundle without having to give your credit card information directly to Bundle Dragon. Each transaction is safe and secure.

Can I give this as a gift?

Yes, absolutely!

What are these support levels?

Bundle Dragon is a “pay what you want” service. The fractal bundle is priced in two tiers, $4.99 and $5.99, but if you feel like tossing a few extra bucks to support Ben Trube Writer, this is the easiest way. Suggested support levels are $10 or $25.

I’d like to learn more, where can I go?

Well, right here on the blog is always a good place to start. Or like “BenTrubeWriter” on Facebook. If you have any questions, or would be interested in doing an author interview post, contact me using the “Contact [BTW]” page at the top of the blog.

Thanks so much and hope you enjoy!

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A light breeze blew, and she knew he was dead

How should a series end, particularly one we’re writing?

It might seem to some that this is a strange question for a young author who is just starting out to ask, but we (writers) all think in epic ways. We don’t see ourselves as what we are now, but what we will become, and for a project that will take us years, perhaps the rest of our life, this question needs an answer.

I propose two kinds of series each of which might have a slightly different answer to this question. The first is the “episodic” series, often in the mystery or thriller genre. This follows a single character or set of characters who may grow and change over a series of books, but each book is self contained and the quantity of books is more determined by the desire of readers to keep reading and writers to keep writing. The second is the epic story, think “Wheel of time” a story we in all seriousness might not finish in our lifetime.

For the episodic story the solution can sometimes be very simple. If the author does not want to write the series anymore, or knows it will be their last, they will kill their main character. Agatha Christie did it Poirot, Colin Dexter did it to Morse, and Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill Sherlock Holmes (who much to his dismay just didn’t stay dead). I understand this impulse if you are the sort who does not trust your characters in the hands of others. There is a lot of regrettable (though some good) Sherlock Holmes novels out there, and much as I love Poirot I don’t trust anyone but Christie to write him properly.

There’s just one problem with this solution, it kinda sucks for the readers.

Take Morse for example. Dying in the fashion he did was the ultimate conclusion of his alcoholism and his depressive life. But we wanted to see him redeemed, both through his association with the young detective Lewis, and perhaps finding some kind of love with someone. You invest in a character for a long time and you want payoff, and if you don’t get it, then you don’t know why you spent the time (just ask those who watched Lost all the way to the end).

You want the reader left with some sense of finality, that maybe this is the detective’s last case if it really is the last, but with a ray of hope that things will keep going on. The story that’s being told is over, but not the lift of the character.

What about the epic?

Well, that can be a different story. A lot of epic science fiction story tellers either tell generational stories, or stories set in a vast universe which they can dip a lot of characters in and out of. My own “epic” series is structured in this fashion, with two or three book groupings all set against a 105 year timeline.

But let’s face it, I’ve got firm outlines for 4-5 but have only written parts of a couple and these are not going to be my next projects out the door, or even the one’s after them. It’s possible that with all of the different fascinating stories I want to tell that my epic will be unfinished. What then?

Well, not being a Wheel of Time fan myself I don’t know how that went, though I hear fairly well. But another series that was a favorite of mine, The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov, did not fair so well. The three B’s of modern sci-fi, Benford, Brin and Bear teamed up to write the “Second Foundation” trilogy. I didn’t make it past book one, I stopped somewhere around the 120 foot holograms of Voltaire and Joan of Arc making love. No joke.

I think if an author is to do a hand off then it needs to be someone chosen by the author, or with a real stake in making the work excellent, like Christopher Tolkien or Brian Herbert (maybe). But I think the safest path might be to not write yourself into a corner. Keep your audience yearning for more, but sated should they not get it.

Now I just have to figure out how to do that and I’ll be all set 🙂

Who would you trust to finish your work (if anyone)?

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