My Experiment

My Experiment

For the past five weeks, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting excerpts from an unfinished story.

You also may have noticed that I never really explained why I was doing it.

Well, it was mainly just an experiment. And, during this time, I was able to get a lot of feedback from you guys.

Back in December, I stumbled across an interview with a pair of authors named Sean Platt and David Wright. These two authors are pioneers of serialized fiction.

I know that serialized fiction has been around for a long time. Charles Dickens released much of his work as serials before publishing the finished projects as complete novels.

These two guys, however, are treating their stories as if they are seasons of television shows. For a few weeks, or months, they release weekly episodes of a story. Once the story is over, they will release the entire season as a complete novel before moving on to the next story, or season.

I don’t know why, but something about this particular interview made me stop and take notice. To me, this was an extremely cool idea. I started looking into it, and decided that I wanted to give it a try.

I found an old story that I still needed to finish, and split a portion of it into small parts to be released each week.

Over the past few weeks, I discovered some interesting things. I found out when I have something that I think is cool and want to share, it’s really hard to wait for a week between blog posts. I also found that if someone is really enjoying a story, they also don’t like to wait until the next post. They also have no problem telling you that they don’t feel like waiting.

I kinda like that feeling.

I spoke directly to a few of you and was able to surmise that by releasing larger portions, readers would feel more satisfied each week. I also learned that I need to make sure every release has a good cliffhanger at the end to make sure that people come back for more.

So, what happens now?

Do it again, of course!

I’m currently brainstorming what will be the next story to release as a serial. Once I find the perfect story, you’ll see.

In the meantime, excuse me while I dive back into my shame pile.

2016: The Road Ahead

2016: The Road Ahead

People have been asking me where I’ve disappeared to.

I haven’t gone anywhere. I’m still here. Still blogging. Still writing. Still…you get the picture.

The truth is, real life got kind of busy over the past month. Not busy in a “I’m-pulling-out-my-(nonexsistent)-hair” kind of way, but busy enough that finding time to write has been damn near impossible.

With the holidays, have come work deadlines on projects that people want finished before the end of the year. Family have been around a lot more. And school has been iffy with the kids being home more than ever this month.

I decided to take the time off from the blog, and do some soul searching.

Some of you know that I’ve been starting to look into learning martial arts. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager. But I’ve never been able to get around it for various reasons that I won’t get into now. The reason I bring this up is this: The guy that I train with has been hounding me the last couple of months about setting goals.

“If you don’t make a goal for yourself, someone will make it for you.”

“Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into a person who can.”

These are just some of the quotes that have been drilled into my head between jabs and pak saos.

So, I took December and set some goals for myself.

I went old school, grabbed a notebook and a pencil, and made a long list of everything I want to accomplish this year. And I mean everything. I have financial goals, health goals, and of course, writing goals.

I took that list and, one-by-one, made an outline of everything I need to do to accomplish each goal. Needless to say, I have my work cut out for me this year. I have a lot to do, and I only have 361 days left to do it.

I won’t share with you the list of what I want to accomplish, but I will say this: You will see what I’ve been working on soon. Some of it will even be posted here.

Pay close attention.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to jump back into my shame pile.

Gremlins

Gremlins

I’ve never seen Gremlins.

I’m serious.

Just about everyone I know has seen it in some point in their lives, and consider it to be a classic.

But not me. Up until this past week I had never seen the 1984 classic, nor it’s sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Well, I decided to do something about that. I sat down and watched both of them.

I have to admit: movies like this make me miss the ’80’s. As evidenced by Gremlins, it was a time when being politically correct was not an issue. Back then, PG-rated movies still had some teeth, no pun intended. In fact, Gremlins was partially responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating, due to it’s over the top violence. The violence in the movie was considered to be too strong for a PG rating, but not enough for an R rating.

Stephen Spielberg, producer of Gremlins, and director of the other movie responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, suggested the intermediate rating to the MPAA. Now it’s on pretty much every movie. Anything rated PG that comes out now, is usually looked down upon as a family film.

Watching Gremlins for the first time, I was a little bored at the first half hour of the movie. It seemed just a little bit too cloying and sweet. But once the second act started, I giggled like a mad man. I can see why this movie is a classic. The gremlins as characters are actually pretty funny and make the perfect fodder for some gruesomely cartoonish death sequences. The very first one, involving an orange juicer, is still my favorite.

After I finished watching Gremlins, I put on Gremlins 2: The New Batch.

I have to say, whatever magic is found in the first Gremlins movie, is nowhere to be seen in the sequel.

I HATED that movie.

While the first Gremlins feels almost timeless, Gremlins 2 feels dated from the second it starts.

The cuteness of the first act of Gremlins is turned up to 11 in Gremlins 2, to the point where Gizmo annoyed me so much I sided with the gremlins whenever they tortured him. And don’t even get me started on the gremlins created for this movie. Some of the sequences of the first movie can be excused as being funny despite not making much sense, ie Cate being robbed by a gremlin in a ski mask using a gun that just happens to be the perfect size for it’s little hands. That was not the case for The New Batch. Every time they would reveal a new version of gremlin, I’d just roll my eyes and shake my head.

Joe Dante, the director, said that his idea was to make the second movie self aware, to make fun of the first movie. I can say that idea didn’t work. The constant references and jabs at the first movie only made me wish that I were watching it again instead of this drivel.

There’s even a musical number. That was the point where my brain officially checked out. It had seen enough. I had to force myself to finish watching. And I was slapped with a final scene of a man being seduced by an oversexed female gremlin for my effort.

Who writes this shit?

I should have stopped after the first one. This would have been a much happier post.

So, to sum it all up, Gremlins is a classic that I would watch again, anytime. Gremlins 2: The New Batch is horrible. I’m going to go on in life pretending it doesn’t exist, like the Schumacher Batman movies.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to dive back into my shame pile.

No Facebook for November for Me

No Facebook for November for Me

No Facebook.

For a month.

Yeah, you read that right. I will not go on Facebook for the entire month of November. Starting at midnight November 1st, this past weekend, and ending at midnight on December 1st, I have vowed to stay off of Facebook, online games, mobile games, and most social media. The only exception is twitter. I am limiting video games, movies, and music to subject material that is either inspiring me to write or is somehow related to what I’m working on.

Like most people I’ve mentioned this idea to, you’re probably scoffing, saying, “Yeah right. You’ll be back on Facebook in a couple of days. You can’t stay away.”

Well, this isn’t the first time that I’ve done this, so I’m confident that I will make it the entire month. This is actually my fourth year of taking one month off.

But, why?

Well, November is NaNoWriMo.

Huh?

Na. No. Wri. Mo.

National Novel Writing Month.

November is when many writers seem to disappear from the world for just about the entire month. I’m not exactly sure when it started, but for that one month out of the year, a large percentage of writers cluster together and push each other to produce about 50,000 words in a month, the minimum word count for your work to officially be counted as a novel.

Think of it as a boot camp for writers, but you don’t actually have to go anywhere if you don’t want to. All you need is something to write with and a connection to the internet. Twitter has become the focal point where most of the participating writers aim their attention. From twitter, participants are giving each other encouragement. They help others who may feel that they just can’t make it, or when they’re stuck. Organizers use twitter to oversee word sprints, or set amounts of time when you need to write as much as you can for an allotted amount of time.

Workshops and meet-ups are organized for those who may be getting cabin fever and need to move to different surroundings. You may walk into a book store or a coffee shop and find groups of people discussing their ideas and plans. Or they all just might have their faces buried in their monitors, but they are with others who are doing the same thing.

Is it easy?

Hell no!

Fifty thousand words is a lot of writing. And you have to do it in thirty days. That is roughly 1,667 words. Per Day. That is not an event where you can just plop your butt into a chair and start writing. You need to plan. You need to get ready.

Just like a runner preparing to run a marathon, you don’t just show up and run the full 26.2 miles. You need to spend the months before training physically and mentally. On many levels this is the same principle. Mentally, you need to be ready to write as much as you can for an entire month. You need to already have an idea in mind. Even better, you should have an outline of some sort. You need to know where you’re going. When a bad case of writer’s block hits you, and believe me it will, you need to have a point of reference so your entire month isn’t ruined because you got stuck and couldn’t finish.

Do you have to write a novel?

Nope. Not at all.

Yes, the word Novel is part of the name, and you are encouraged to use that time to write a new novel, from start to finish. For the first two years, that’s what I tried to do. I got my word count, but realizing that fifty thousand words is actually a very short novel, I was in no way finished with the stories I wanted to tell. So last year I decided to used that time to take the projects I was already working on, and focus on them. There is no better time to force myself to write. You have thousands of people cheering you on while they do the same thing. That is a resource I can’t pass up.

This year, I’m doing it again. I’m have multiple projects that I just want to sit down and write. Plus, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t start anything new until I finish what I already have, or get to a point where I’m seriously, undeniably stuck. That hasn’t happened yet, so have no excuses.

I discovered this fun little month-long holiday a few years back, and I am so happy that I did. Just knowing that there are thousands of other people going through the same struggle that I am is encouragement in itself. To have all of them helping push me along is a blessing that I am extremely happy to have.

I don’t think I would have made it this far without them.

Who says writing has to always be a solitary art?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to dive back into my shame pile.