Monday, April 30, 2012

W1S1 Update (creative title not included)

I'm kind of tired, so this will be short and sweet. Been working out, half-hour weight training and half-hour of running on treadmill, all to build some muscle--and so I don't collapse after I run a mile. 

So the stats for this month:

Stories written: 5 (one actually went out the door, another has been put on hold until I can figure out what I want it to do, and the other two will eventually leave the nest--oops! And I forgot a story!)
Stories submitted: 25 (several of these re-submitted or sim-subbed)
Stories accepted: 0
Stories rejected: 21

Yeeeeaaah, a lot of rejections this month, mostly in the beginning around April 1st, which leads me to think the editors got together to play an April Fool's joke... Hey! It could happen.

But, there was some good stuff this month. My first two publications! "Death by Anything" in Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Flush Fiction anthology (or just Flush Fiction for short) and "The Storm" over at Eschatology. Check them out if you get the chance. And yeah, they'll still be a contest for a free copy of Flush Fiction, coming next month.

Next month's goal will be editing, lots and lots of editing. I've let too many stories pile up that need some work.

For some Youtube goodness, I found an awesome song from--you guessed it: Florence + The Machine. "Breath of Life" is going to be featured in the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman movie--can't wait for it!

I've also been distractedwatching collegehumor, and I found this segment hilarious: If the Matrix ran on WinXP

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

So I was watching Dark Shadows...

...the series the other day. Only a few episodes, which was about as much as I could stand. The Dark Shadows series comes before my time, so I can only look at it retroactively without the nostalgia. But after seeing it, I can completely understand why Tim Burton chose to go for a parody of it in the upcoming movie. The stuff was cheesy. The melodramatic music, the close-ups on actors' wide-eyed expression when something finally occurs to them, the cheap sets and microphones sticking out. The acting was plain awful, like someone reciting lines to themselves. Although I have to say, the one redeemable quality was Jonathan Frid's portrayal of Barnabas Collins the cursed vampire. 

I know quite a few of those who remember the show fondly were upset that the movie was a parody--the "ruining my childhood" mantra. But looking at this show now, how could you not make fun of it? It's just bad. However, I'm sure shows like Supernatural and Doctor Who owe a lot to Dark Shadows for breaking new ground and bringing us creepy wonders from the beyond. So yes, even in the bad there's some good.

And speaking of creepy, over at Lovecraft eZine are some tentaclastic wallpapers by Leslie Herzfeld. Check them out!

If you're wondering about the Flush Fiction contest... No, I haven't forgotten, but I'm waiting on my contributor's copies, because it's kind of odd to offer a prize that you haven't seen yourself. Also to gauge how long deliver may take. Hopefully it's not through UPS.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Critiques on Published Works

Interesting little discussion started over at AW over whether there was a point to leaving a critique of an already published story. Because you know how most online zines have a comments box for readers to reply to a story.

Now some folks say there isn't a point to critiquing a published story because, well, it's published. It seems pointless to critique something that has already made the rounds, and it's not like you can really do anything once the story is out there.

True, you may not be able to change the story once it's been published, but I do believe it's good to critique a story, rather than putting it up on the mantle and never touching it. In some ways, a critique helps keep a story alive, instead of it stagnating: stories that generate discussion are the ones most remembered, right?

Critiques are also reviews. Saying you loved a story is just as much of a review as someone who pointed out the typos or inconsistencies; it's all how we perceive the story. We could say that that individual who left the critique/negative review should have just kept quiet and moved on to another story, but then we'd be stifling freedom of speech. That person who leaves a negative review is as much justified as the one who left a positive review, and it's not fair to ask someone to keep it to themselves just because it's not positive. Imagine going up to the film critic Rodger Ebert and telling him he shouldn't give negative reviews, because the film is already made and there's nothing his comments can do to change that.

And this leads us to another point: critiques help us gauge the quality of a piece.

Could you imagine if all the reviews up on Amazon were nothing but 4 or 5 stars. How would you know what's a decent product and what isn't? I mean they're all rated/praised the same, would that imply that they're all the same?

No, of course not. And the same goes for stories: not all stories are of the same caliber. Even when published, some stories are simply not as good as they could've been, and readers have a right to say so. If multiple readers comment that a particular story isn't up to snuff, naturally, the consequence is that not as many people will check it out. But by the same token, it may generate curiosity as to why the story doesn't work for so-and-so.

Think of Twilight. There are people who both hate and love Twilight and you can't deny it, it has been the topic of many discussions. So even though people have said negative things (many, many negative things), it didn't exactly kill the book's popularity.

Now comes the hard part: Authors accepting these critiques on their published works. That doesn't mean you have to agree, but it's a fact of writing that not everyone is going to like what you do, so you have to accept that it'll happen. And when it does, be the bigger person (i.e. don't argue with the reader--that only makes you look bad). You can ignore it, chalk it up that it must be a difference in personal taste, or perhaps try to see it from the reader's perspective. Personally, I'd strive to understand, because it opens you up to perceptions outside the scope of your own mind, and as a writer, it's important to be open-minded.

So yeah, I think I've gone on long enough. But basic message: critiques aren't the end of the world, and may actually be beneficial. Don't fear the critique!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flash Fiction: The Storm

What's that? I have another publication this month? Yes, yes I do.

My end-of-the-world flash piece The Storm was published today over at the very cool Eschatology site. Check it out! And leave a comment if you enjoyed it or semi-enjoyed it.

This story is different because it's written in 2nd-person POV, which there seems to be not a whole lot of love for. I believe it's a perfectly valid POV that can work well when the story calls for it, and I aim to make it work!

For the occasion, I made a picture:

 It doesn't capture what I had in my mind--it was far creepier--but not bad, if I do say so myself. I drew some inspiration from some of the wicked sand storms we have out here in Arizona. We also have some pretty bad fires. I recall this one day in July how the sky was smoggy, no blue, and the clouds had this yellow-ish hue. It was very surreal.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the story and watch out for those clouds! 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Flush Fiction is here! (or has been here)

Well, I'm a tad late announcing this, but better late than never. I was debating if I wanted to combine this post with the one for a contest I'm assembling, but decided, eh. (btw, if anyone can tell me how you do the list thingy, you know, where you sign up, I'd really appreciate it.)

Anyway, it's here! This is an anthology of 88 flash fiction stories--one of which happens to be mine--ranging across just about all genres.  

"Death by Anything" is my first publication (although not my first acceptance), and for the heck of it, I'll post my favorite bit of the story, because this is a fun, if not absurd, one.

The lightrail screamed to a stop, nearly throwing us all out of our seats. The conductor came on the intercom and squawked something, then went silent.
One woman cried out, “Did anyone hear what’s going on?”
Being the brilliant person that I am, I stood up and said, “It could be Anything!”
Everyone gasped and one lady fainted.
I shut up and sat down, because they all gave me that look like I was some Doomsayer. Well someone had to say it! We all know Anything can happen, no use in denying it. But then Panic started, and if there’s one thing worse than Anything, it’s Panic.

The story behind the story (because I always find it interesting where writer's get their ideas): Over on AW, I caught a particular comment made by someone who was a bit hasty with their keyboard, and it went: "... just as you can die from too much anything." Light bulb moment! My mind warped it into a literal statement, that indeed, too much Anything could kill you. Thus the story was born.

You can buy a copy of the anthology here! Or (if you live in the US) contact the publisher for a copy to review--just be sure to mention your blog/website. Or, wait for my contest to win a free copy. :)

Happy Easter everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

They're at it again...

Remind me what the definition of insanity is? Isn't it doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results?

I guess that makes our legislatures incredibly insane (as if we didn't know that already).

So here we have the latest incarnate of ACTA, CISPA. From the article:
H.R. 3523, a piece of legislation dubbed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (or CISPA for short), has been created under the guise of being a necessary implement in America’s war against cyberattacks. But the vague verbiage contained within the pages of the paper could allow Congress to circumvent existing exemptions to online privacy laws and essentially monitor, censor and stop any online communication that it considers disruptive to the government or private parties. Critics have already come after CISPA for the capabilities that it will give to seemingly any federal entity that claims it is threatened by online interactions, but unlike the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect IP Acts that were discarded on the Capitol Building floor after incredibly successful online campaigns to crush them, widespread recognition of what the latest would-be law will do has yet to surface to the same degree. 

 Essentially, this bill will allow the government as well as companies to refile through any data you've ever sent, that means every email, every forum post or Facebook, every tweet is theirs to do what they want with it--and no, they don't have to inform you about taking your information.  

George Orwell called, he wants his Big Brother back.

So what should you do? Obviously protest. Over at EFF, you can fill out a form that will email your state representatives about this. Also, spread the word. The more people who know about this, the more likely we can stomp this bill into the ground just like what we did with SOPA (ACTA may not be quite dead yet).

Something cute to offset the DOOM message