Tag Archives: blogging

Is posting fiction to your blog a bad idea?

In my internet searching for places to put links to The Sky Below*, I came across this post pretty near the top, Should you post your fiction on your blog? It’s a few years old, but it still has a lot to say about our current media landscape.

Justine Musk’s argument boils down to three points:

  • Even though it’s free, reading anything online is an “opportunity cost” for the reader (when they were reading you they could have been reading someone else).
  • People go online to be distracted, entertained, amused or to learn something practical.
  • People might like your fiction, but it won’t get shared.

I would tend to agree with all of these in one fashion or another, even though my actions tend to fly in the face of them. I’m certainly a member of the tl;dr community (too long, didn’t read for those unfamiliar, which I wasn’t a year ago). Even my friend Brian (whose fiction I love and demand from him on a frequent basis) has written a few stories that I haven’t gotten around to reading (I’ll probably copy them off his website and make an ebook for myself to actually get that done, sorry guy).

I go online, particularly to Facebook, to be amused. I get a few technical and industry newsletters to be informed, along with NPR and interesting links on Facebook. I did subscribe to Jo Eberhardt’s newsletter, and will hopefully get her story read before the next one comes out, but otherwise I don’t read a lot of fiction online.

So why am I trying it?

Well, here’s what I’m trying to do a little differently (which may work or not). I’m definitely turned off by blogs whose SOLE purpose is fiction. Part of the author, writer, reader community is to find out more about each other, our writing process, and the things we’re interested in. So even though fiction is awesome and very intriguing, it’s not the only thing I want to read. Hence, why new chapters are coming out every other Thursday. Hopefully frequent enough for you to follow, but not inundating. I’m actually writing more each week than I have in previous years of the blog (five days a week as opposed to three or four), so you’re definitely not losing content in service of a new narrative.

And I’m trying to deliver chapters, not snippets, with the idea that this may be tl;dr. I’ve done a couple of one week stories (one that did pretty well, and another not so much) where I delivered 600-800 words a day. I sometimes think that’s okay, but it can also be damn frustrating. Probably that length works best for flash fiction that isn’t intended to be longer, but for something like a novella you need a little heft.

My idea to combat tl;dr is to get you to download the book and read it on your own terms. I do my longer form reading at a different time than my online reading. And since I’m a guy who sometimes has my Kindle read to me, I like eBook formats beyond just PDF.

The book being written here is not the only fiction I’m writing. I have a novel I intend to sell commercially later this year, and one of these days I may actually try to sell short fiction. But I firmly believe that part of this modern author thing is trying every avenue for success, be it traditional publishing, self-publishing, Kindle Scout, or giving your book away. We’re all going to be hybrids, and that’s okay. Experimentation breeds creativity, new stories to tell, and new ways to tell them.

And lastly, not everything is about shares. Sometimes we need to serve the people who are already here, and who’ve been with us since the beginning. I like to make this community happy first and foremost. If they like what they see and pass it on, great. Blogging has taught me that what seems to get picked up can be random. Sometimes it’s our best work, and sometimes it’s just the work that got noticed. So rather than worrying, I just write who I am and what I want to write about and hope you’ll come on by.


*  The serial novella appearing on this blog and the Internet Archive every other Thursday including this upcoming Thursday.

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Should I use chapter titles?

The very first novel I ever completed had a title for every chapter. Digging through my old Word Perfect 6 documents (which OpenOffice really didn’t like, my book was not 7000+ pages with a bunch of numbers and symbols), I thought I’d share them with you (bear in mind this book was started in 1999 and finished in 2003):

  • Chapter 1 – The Proposal (solid)
  • Chapter 2 – The Problem (got a theme going)
  • Chapter 3 – Winning is half the battle (changing it up, nice)
  • Chapter 4 – What’s a ship without a crew? (good question)
  • Chapter 5 – Testing Phase (back to two words, good choice)
  • Chapter 6 – Sim-Central (don’t know what this really means, but I think they were using a simulator?)
  • Chapter 7 – Picking up the pieces (A little on the nose, but apparently they broke the simulator)
  • Chapter 8 – Cellular Christmas (wait … what?)
  • Chapter 9 – Scarecrow’s Dilemma (if he only had a … wait for it …)
  • Chapter 10 – Sarah Walker (Oh, now we’re using the name of a person, and remember Chuck hadn’t aired yet)
  • Chapter 11 – Unfinished Business (simple but back to solid)
  • Chapter 12 – Pre-launch Jitters (don’t you just hate those?)
  • Chapter 13 – Ready To Go (Okay so we’re ready now, right?)
  • Chapter 14 – Unto the breach (That doesn’t sound good)
  • Chapter 15 – Rapid Ascent (Wait, we were supposed to launch two chapters ago!)
  • Chapter 16 – Anticipated Arrival (We were expected?)
  • Chapter 17 – Crimson Sun Revisited (When did we visit it before? Answer, in the prologue which was titled ‘Galateia’ and not ‘Crimson Sun’, though Crimson Sun was involved. Anyway, moving on.)
  • Chapter 18 – Camping out under the stars (sounds nice)
  • Chapter 19 – Licking their wounds (maybe not)
  • Chapter 20 – Running the Gauntlet (originally misspelled Guantlet)
  • Chapter 21 – Awakened Spirits (meh)
  • Chapter 22 – Recovered Data (back to the theme I see)
  • Chapter 23 – Ghosts of Past and Future Days (seriously?)
  • Chapter 24 – Harkenings of Atlantis (is Harkenings a word? WordPress doesn’t think so.)
  • Chapter 25 – The Emerald City (Wizard of Oz?)
  • Chapter 26 – Behind the Curtain (Definitely Wizard of Oz, late in the game decision to go with this theme)
  • Chapter 27 – At long last (indeed)
  • Chapter 28 – Casual Conversation (eh)
  • Chapter 29 – The Greater Mysteries (getting profound)
  • Chapter 30 – For the future (inspiring)
  • Epilogue – Return Journey (There and back again)

There was also an interlude called ‘En Route’.

Here’s the problem. Obviously some of these are just dippy, darlings that even I wouldn’t recognize today. Some are straightforward and simple, others are bland and shapeless. Some make up words, some appropriate Moody Blues phrases, and some are too unspeakably clever.

This is why I don’t write chapter titles, and why my tendency has been for one or two word book titles. I’ve read a few books where the title really adds something to the chapter, but I’ve yet to write one. I do think that if you’re going to do it, you should make some conscious thoughts as to a consistent theme. It’s probably okay to break it once and a while, but only if you have a reason to do so. And “Ghosts Of Past and Future Days” is not such a reason.

I like titling parts of a book, as these can almost fell like mini-novellas, and those deserve a title. But beyond that, probably not. Hell, I have a hard enough time thinking of a title for each blog post.

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Setting outrageously big writing goals

Here’s something it’s taken me a while to figure out, if my goal is to write less, I write less. If my goal is to write more, somehow I find a way to make it happen.

I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of months feeling burned out. Part of that was the 90,000 word book I had to write for work (a programmer’s guide) or at least so I thought. It can feel like there is a finite amount of writing energy, of creativity, at any one time. And yet I still have stories and ideas bursting to get out, things I want to discuss on the blog, and experiments that hopefully help me to grow as a writer.

It was feeling difficult to wake up and have the motivation to write every morning, and so if I couldn’t manage that, I wouldn’t write at all that day, even when I had better energy around my lunch break. Some of this is distraction, sickness, the cold of winter and video games. I do believe that writing can sometimes ebb and flow, but only as much as we let it.

I’m probably taking too much on at a time. I’m committing to write five times a week on the blog (plus posts for Going Deeper). I’m writing a serial novella, editing a current novel, considering how to revise another novel, and thinking of another to get started in rough draft. And I’m thinking about at least another two non-fiction projects that I’ll be trying to get some work done on this year.

And the funny thing is I’ve never felt more energized. Sure it felt rusty at first. It can feel a little depressing to take an hour to write a 300 word review, but once you get everything turned over, once you get the motor running, everything flows as easily as it used to. Part of this isn’t just writing. I’m kicking up the amount I read too, whether it’s interesting articles online, or books from NetGalley, or yes, even comic books. I still need a way to reset at the end of the day like before, I can just choose to do it in a way that doesn’t suck up hours of my life and thought processes.

We write what we are doing. If we’re sitting around letting the snow get us down, and piling on another blanket, we may be cozy, but we’re not working. Again I’m not saying it’s bad to rest. Maybe I did need a rest, and I just have the kind of personality that circles back in on itself and kicks me around for not being more productive. Case in point, when I was first starting to write posts again, it felt like I wasn’t getting as much done as I should, and I was kicking myself for not working much these last couple of months.

Screw that noise, if you’ll pardon the expression. It’s never helpful to dwell on work you haven’t done, just be excited about the work you are doing. Admittedly some of this is the high of the natural reset caused by the new year, but if it is, then I can pair down to what’s working and keep going from there. But I do feel passionately about writing a lot of projects at the same time, if nothing else to always make use of the part of me that is feeling fresh. If I work the same thing for too long I get tired and I put it down, and then it feels rusty to get back into it. But if I always have something to turn my mind to and get it going in a different direction, then I still feel like I’m making progress and can come back to the other work with a fresh perspective.

I also like getting myself into holes by committing to you guys, whether its the number or type of posts each week, or whether its proposing a project I may or may not really have time for, but want to try and want to get you guys excited about so I can feel the pressure to write the next installment 🙂

So here’s to a year of frantic writing. Maybe I’ll do a NaNo this year too 🙂

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Gravel in a blender

Well I’m in week two of my second cold of the winter season. The first cold ended with a lot of sinus stuff and congestion (i.e. going through tissues in bulk). This new cold decided to be creative and go down further in my throat to manifest as a cough, which mainly likes to go off when I’m trying to get to sleep. I’m lying on my side, and suddenly I wake myself up with a fit of coughing. Why the cat decided to sleep next to me through this I’m not really sure.

During the day I don’t feel so bad, but this winter season has just been difficult to wake up and get the writing work done that I want to do. When I’m feeling bad I have a much more escapist mentality, sinking my time into TV or even better video games. Ironically this last cold kicked off almost immediately after playing a game. I was playing Batman: Arkham Asylum on my lunch break and was feeling fine, but as soon as I stopped playing I realized I felt like crap. During the weekend following I spent most of the time I wasn’t asleep playing the game just to distract myself from how I was feeling, which was remarkably effective. This is probably how people starve themselves to death, but that’s one of the benefits of being married, my wife keeps me alive 🙂

Fortunately I’m starting to feel better before the holiday, but the holiday season isn’t exactly the best time to be productive either. And it’s cold outside and I always manage to forget to defrost my car before I have to go.

This is all by way of saying sorry I haven’t been blogging here nearly as often as I should. My intention is to find a way to hit the reset button and get everything going in the new year. I have been building up some ideas for more of a structure that hopefully you guys will like, and will make this easier for me to sustain even when I’m feeling crummy.

That said I have been enjoying the time off. Those Batman games are ridiculously immersive (I’m now on Arkham City). I used to play shooters more in college, but I actually like action platformers a little better now. Still combat to be sure, but less focused on a linear narrative of mowing down waves of stuff. Batman forces you to think about combat rather than button mashing, but not in an excessively complicated way. And he doesn’t kill which is nice too.

How have you been coping with winter?

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