The mother’s dual role

A mother does two things.

  1. Provide a controlled, safe, blockaded environment in which a child can grow and learn and flourish.
  2. Surrender that environment and transition to the supportive, conducive enabling agent which will see their child launched into the world.

These two things are diametrically opposed.

Early on a mother MUST contain and protect her child. The world is a vicious, evil place and youth, unguided and unprotected WILL succumb to the temptation or provocations that exist there. The world is there to lure young children into servitude, enslavement, and abuse. A mother must be there to ensure her children are guided away from, and protected against such seductions.

A child needs a wholesome childhood in which to allow abandon and whimsy to flourish and blossom.

Of course that environment does NOT exist in the world. And only a mother can provide that sequestered enchanting world where a child feels safe, free and loved.

Later, when the child learns of the evils of the world, the dastardly vicious workings of people dead-set on taking what that child has worked for, the conniving salacious pursuits of those eager to destroy a young life, the mother must transition into one of support and surrender. She must release her wards, her babes, into a world she knows will try to destroy them.

But in this final act, she must convert her protectionist way to expansionist dreams. “Go, my son. Travel, my daughter. See the world, experience life. I’ve protected you long enough. Now is the time for you to protect yourself. I give to your freedom.”

Imagine the angst in a mother’s heart. The agony of, for years, ensuring the safety and well being of a child, only to, eventually, reverse this mindset and push them out, force them out into an unforgiving world.

For their own good. Always, for their own good. What trauma the poor mother must endure. Protect for ages and then surrender, willfully.

Christ, I’m glad I’m a father.


The Writer’s Stew

Imagine a tasty stew.

Savory meats, root vegetables, maybe some thick noodles or dumplings, a fine rich stock all simmering for hours on low. The aroma and unctuous anticipation of slipping some of that luscious meal down your throat just makes your mouth drip like Sobaki, Pavlov’s favorite dog.

That is how I think writing becomes art.

When you can savor your characters, mull their foibles, their idiosyncrasies, taste the strange way they walk, sit, talk, sleep — then you can simply write them into your story. There is no work. You sit there within your story stew, nestle up to a potato and describe its grainy texture, its bitter skin, the way it appears to take over the bowl but with the press of a fork, crumbles.

Imagining all of your characters, in the story scenarios you want to eventually place them within, is, I believe, a necessary stage in writing a truthful story. True in that your characters are true to your notions of them. That how they react and respond to the story’s plot events is not forced or unnatural. But smooth like a saucy soup.

I’m trying to live with the eleven characters who will make up the story “Iced”. That’s a bunch of people, and I have to slip them in gradually. Only I can’t. They all wake up together. And, of course, every one of them is a murderer… So, I have this stew being unpleasantly hot at times, and laced with shards of splintered bone in others. But, hopefully, no one will choke and die. Well, no reader will expire while slurping this sumptuous stew.

 


A themed universe

Something jelled recently.

Those of you who read Sci-Fi will know the name Larry Niven. He’s most famous for his novel Ring World. But more than that, what he created was a broad context for (nearly) all of his stories. It’s what he calls “Known Space.” What’s curious about it is that it’s fully cogent and rationalized. There’s a timeline and a physical domain that contains the “science” and the fiction.

Or rather, consider the Potterverse, one most of you are probably aware of. Jeanne created a world, a universe, which contains — yes her seven novel series — but more than that, it provides the potential for many more stories, some of which we’re seeing with the Dangerous Beasts movie series. Those and tens of thousands of fan-fic stories. And an entire dream world, made virtually real by Universal.

What jelled was that I’ve created my own post-apocalyptic world with a fairly complete, fairly cogent rationalization. And this Apoca-verse has room for much of what I’ve been writing as side stories.

  • Blue Across the Sea was #1. Red Into the Sea will be the sequel (and I’ve mapped out two more after that: Green and White…)
  • Shadow Shoals (unfinished) is also a story that takes place within this timeline and world-context. (I’ve been editing it over on Scribophile, and it’s been getting some good reviews.)
  • Recently,  I’ve returned to my Antarctic prisoner story, Iced, and — ayup — it also can be easily inserted into this same chrono-calamity and world situation.
  • Additionally, my story City Afloat, about a band of Bangladeshis who create a floating city and drift and live on the Indian Ocean, well… it also can be wedged into this same universe.

So, I’ll end with, if you create a complete, fabricated universe, that makes sense and has meaning to you and to the stories you tell — maybe you can create a themed foundational universe into which you can write.

Larry Niven is a Sci-Fi god. He’ll be 80 years old this April 30th. I wonder if he’d mind if I used his idea of a Known Space? Maybe I should call it Known Dystopia.

 

 


Club Internet

If you have a raw nerve exposed, you can bet I’m going to be one of those who tries to tweak it, maybe shock it. Certainly pinch it a bit. OUCH!

Yeah, sorry about that. (But not really.)

And this is of course an exaggeration. I recently, yesterday or something, wrote about all of us being bloggers. 100% of us. And how I thought that that was an issue. Now, many of us here wanted to point out that, and rightly so, it’s not an issue, “exactly.” It is a “thing” and blogging does exist as a club or a membership but, so what? That’s not a bad thing. It’s just a thing.

So, I thought about this, and sure enough, I’ve come to realize that the internet has become an array of vertical stovepipes of membership. It is now Club Internet.

Let me take you back… In 1995 when I first began to “surf” the internet, that’s exactly what I did. It was a wild, unorganized place full of strange and odd and interesting stuff. I recall spending hours and hours just bouncing from page to page. There were no “search” engines, just some primitive DMOZ style indexes and link-exchanges. And there was no membership. It was just a vast, crazy “Woodstock” sort of experience.

Later, when I learned how to code the web, and built my own Web Logging software, there was still not much membership or exclusivity built into the net. My “blog” was just this diary I hung off a few of my sites — as was every other “blog.”

Today? Today the web is nothing if not collectives of “potentially” like minded people who “belong” to membership oriented enclaves. AND THAT’s OKAY.

When I wrote about bloggers being a circular group of people — well, they are, we are. But so are instagramers, snapchatters, fadebookers (I suppose), WeChatters, and so on and so forth. (In fact, nearly every site out there expects you to become a member, or join them in some way, and if you don’t, you can’t participate — period.) But, in the beginning, it wasn’t like that.

I think I was just now coming to grips with the fact that whatever I write here… Yeah, it’s not gonna be read by the “public.” It used to be read (or could have been read) by the public. But today? Only bloggers will read this. And, again, THAT’s OKAY.


100% of you are bloggers

Consider this:

A small town newspaper, with one reporter, one editor, one distribution manager, one advertising manger and one printer (all of whom are the same person) produces one edition per day.

The ONLY people who read this edition are the OTHER small town newspapers (those that also have a single reporter, editor, etc. all of whom are also a single person).

Imagine a network of small town newspapers that are read ONLY by other small town newspapers.

Does that strike you as strange? This is blogging.

Wouldn’t you, as a small town news/editor producer, want to have your paper read by other folks besides the editor of just the next-town-over newspaper? I would think that as a custom content provider you’d want to infiltrate other markets that are NOT just small town newspapers, right?

Something’s wrong here. It’s like were all just piranha (some small, some huge) all swimming in the same stretch of river. All feeding off of each other. What sense is that?

Why would I care that what I write is read by the next-town-over’s sole reporter/editor? Their town’s people ain’t gonna buy a copy of MY paper. (Nor will they actually by a copy of that editor’s paper…)

Blogging, as it turns out, is this incestuous, internally facing universe of people, writing, not for the world, not to be read by the “public”, but to be read by other bloggers — other small town newspaper reporters.

That seems like a broken model to me.

 


Fiction: knowledge kills it

I spend some time over on Scrib-O-defile (which is a pretty good collaborative community for getting your writing critiqued — among other things. The moderators are draconian and the owner is an enigma. Anyway…)

I batted around the concept of what irked me (or anyone) about Science Fiction tropes.

I happened upon a thought, my own, that pretty much boils down to: “the more you know, the less fiction is plausibly possible.”

My offering over there:

“Truth stranger than fiction” certainly comes to mind when it comes to Sci-Fi.

I’ve read a barrel full of Sci-Fi in my days. The stuff that was utterly outside the realm of reality — I loved that. But lately, as I realize the fallacy of “aliens” I’ve become more of a “probable” Sci-Fi kind of guy. What is the “probable” future of science and discovery?

Frankly, I lament my Sci-Fi youth. The 60’s – the 90’s were the “if you can imagine it, we can write it into a story,” period. Card, Foster, Farmer, Asimov, Laumer, Dick, and dozens of others filled my mind with fantastical beings and worlds.

Today? Bah! Starwars is just so much crap science and lame plots now. StarTrek? I enjoy the hell out of Chris Pine, but the reality of it? Ugh! Probabilistic bogosity.

It seems that the more we know, the less fiction can soar beyond our minds. Imagine once we know 1000 x’s what we know today (in about 20 years)? What “fiction” could we possibly entertain that didn’t feel completely false and contrived?


I self published a novel

I just self-published a novel through https://www.draft2digital.com/. (ebook only.)

The process, which in and of itself was a piece of cake, took me a half-dozen tries to get the format right (downloaded from GDocs as a .docx) to make the title and copyright and all that work out correctly. D2D then gave me a 6×9 (or any other size) PDF that I took over to https://www.thebookpatch.com/ (A POD service.)

There I fetched the cover template and built my own cover in Photoshop. With the JPG and PDF in hand, I uploaded both, proofed both and voila’, I was done. I ordered 5 copies at $8.50 apiece, and I had them delivered within about 10 days.

Bing, bang, boom – done. I never thought this was gonna be easy.

But it was.

BATS_BooksArray

What I learned:
  1. So, yeah, it IS easy. Mostly. The writing and editing were by far the hardest part.
  2. Your Microsoft Word version of your manuscript is the key to a good looking eBook and PDF for print version. Perfecting this takes time and effort and, well, you just have to beat it with a big stick until it complies with your wishes.
  3. Draft2Digital will create a POD (print on demand) version of your book — all ready-made for you to take over to a POD site like TheBookPatch.
  4. Now, D2D’s PDF is not “perfect.” It’s good, mind you, but you can’t control the leading, or font size. So, you get what you get. However, you can republish (within minutes) again and again and, until they DO provide better control of the POD PDFs, well, you’re stuck.
  5. TheBookPatch didn’t quite represent the page count accurately. What I thought was X pages turned out be be X-60 pages which changes the dynamics of the book spine width. This is important because your homemade image MUST fit your book’s final dimensions. (I’ve subsequently fixed this…) Note: I was able to upload new text and new cover images — without a hick-up. Easy-peasy.
  6. The cover image was ME, ME, ME.
    1. I drew and colored the crappy sailboat and sailor (20×30 drafting paper).
    2. I took it out back and put boards and some odd cable around it and took a picture with my phone (ayup, an old android phone).
    3. Then I drew a frickin’ map — took a picture of that and Photoshopped the hell out of that puppy.
    4. I also took a selfie with the same phone and used that as my “I’m special — look at me” image on the back.
    5. Here’s the final cover… Nice huh?!

BATSBookCoverSmall

 

Will I do this again? You betcha!

Should you? You bet you! Write something, anything. Get it edited (as best you can) and publish that gorgeous work of narrative art!

Draft2Digital’s link:
https://www.books2read.com/u/3L9ABD

The BookPatch link:
http://thebp.site/144960

Here’s some miscellaneous videos that I found to help, in general. (Nothing to do with the above process…)

Self publishing tips ‘n tricks:

Ray Bradbury on Madmen: