Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back from Worldcon

I got back from Worldcon (Renovation in Reno, Nevada) a while ago. It's taken this long to sort of catch up with life, if that makes any sense.

I learned a ton from the few panels I attended. I mainly looked for ways to fill in holes rather than to go to panels where I already knew a lot about the subject. Here are some highlights:

Victorian and pre-Victorian war stuff: I had no idea that you could keep a firearm loaded pretty well indefinitely if you prepared for weather. Some antique weapons still sitting in attics could theoretically fire just fine--so be careful whenever you pick up something firearm-like no matter how ancient, dusty, rusted, dysfunctional, etc. it might appear. I know, duh, but it bears repeating. Your great-great-great-grandfather's flintlock might be loaded and go off. Seriously. Plus, cannonballs traveled really, really far. They just bounced on and on and on for thousands of meters.

Seriously cool. I wrote down some good sources for those hard-to-find non-technical details that describe, for example, that black powder firearms emit a gorgeous, pure white smoke (the lecturer told us it's the purest white he's ever seen.)

Panel about consistency when writing in a series, shared world, etc.: The main good idea I got from this is to write notes and an outline after you finish a chapter in a book or a short story in a world that you may intend to write in again someday. Character details that are revealed (age, that she loves bourbon, etc.) plus a general list of events is all you need. One writer on the panel had to hire someone to read her books and take extensive notes for her to go off of because after several years she needed to start writing in the series again and had forgotten most of those telling details writers keep in their heads with varying degrees of success. Reading those books would have taken too much time out of her writing schedule and would have put her behind on several deadlines.

I'm going to start doing that from now on. Much easier and cheaper than hiring someone ten years from now to read Masks and take notes on it so that I don't mess up someone's mother's age and get hate mail from fans about it. (Wouldn't it be grand to get fan mail and to work with multiple deadlines on projects because I'm such a busy writer? I know, I know, be careful what you wish for ....)

I watched master artists sketching a life model (who was somewhat clothed for propriety's sake as it was in a public area) for quite some time. It made me itch to do art again, which is good because I also studied cover design at the convention, first at the art show and then again at a cover design panel and yet again at a 'what's coming out this year' panel for Orbit. (I missed the one for Tor, darn it!) My brain is now brimming with ideas--the perfect time to start rough design ideas for various book covers before those ideas vanish into mist.

I also talked shop with a Canadian publisher. I hope to send some stuff their way soon.

There's lots more to tell, but I ought to actually, you know, write. Today.

Right now ....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another INK Victory!

I've sold a story to a great market--more details when I can officially announce them.  The story is "Neighbors"--the expanded version I wrote when I realized that the end couldn't really be the end.

I also sent a story in to the Writers of the Future contest.  With two stories sold in the whole universe so far, as far as the WotF contest is concerned, I can only sell one more story before I become ineligible for the contest.

Which I'm totally fine with on a lot of levels.  I'd of course love to win the contest, but I won't hold back on sending out stories just so that I keep my eligibility, you know?  That would be weird, and not in a good way.

Gee, I'm so calm posting this.  When I got the email, I had so many exclamation points inside me I couldn't stay sitting down!

Oops.  I guess they're still there.  They're probably just tired.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Editorial Woes

Never get into a relationship where the other person thinks you need to be fixed.

The editorial process for "Citizen's Guide to Police Use of Force" is going painfully slow. How slow? No actual work done since I rejected my editor's last set of changes. There's been minor contact, but the next vital step, where she returns the manuscript with her suggestions is two or three weeks late. I think we're already behind schedule and this shouldn't be hard.

The last one was bad. I should have got a clue when I noticed the "Track Changes" function had been turned off. Maybe hoping I wouldn't notice the changes because they would be so smooth? I sent it back, rejected utterly. It wasn't an editing job, it was an unauthorized re-write, and not a good one.

I'm pretending I'm writing this blog post so that any would-be writers reading this learn some of the pitfalls. I'm still learning them. And up until now, working with my publisher, YMAA has been really wonderful. But really I'm just writing to vent a little.

I want to get this book finished. Done. And then I don't want to even look at it again. Sick and tired of every last word. But I always feel that way toward the end of the process. I'll get over it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I won't get hard numbers until royalty statements come in, and the statements covering these few days won't be in until December...

But "Facing Violence" has been hanging out at about the 3000 sales rank (out of eight million) on Amazon for most of the week, and almost all of that based on pre-orders. It doesn't officially ship until tomorrow.

Product Details

It's also has given Meditations a slight bump in sales. Or so it seems.

Life is cool. Signing at the Cedar Hills Powell's in Beaverton the 25th. Hope to see some of the dozen or so fans then.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Two Ways

There are two ways to take really good pictures.  If you get an excellent camera and really learn what it can do, you can take amazing pictures.

Or you can get a pretty good, simple to operate, durable camera and go to amazing places.  Keep your eye open for things that take your breath away... and take the shot.

My first parachute jump, the jumpmaster asked what was in the pouch on my shoulder strap.
"My camera.  I thought I'd take some shots on my way down."
He smirked.  "You're an idiot.  The second you jump out of that plane you'll forget it's even there."
One of my favorite pictures (predigital, I can't post it) is of my own boots at 3000 feet.

Same with a lot of things.  I'm plowing through a book right now that will be coming out in '12, doing the rewrites, making the editor happy and it is really, really apparent (especially on first drafts) that I'm not that good a writer.  But the book is about things that you really can't see at a distance.  About what goes on inside (and what is supposed to) when an officer makes a force decision.

Go to amazing places and keep your eyes open, or polish the skill.  Either creates some good stuff.

Doing both is best.  Working on it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Productive Day

Finished another article today, third in a series of five (or possibly six).  Combined with the previous series, they'll actually make a good little book, a primer on social and asocial violence.  If it breaks 50k words, I'll think about traditional publishing.  Otherwise, e-books seem to be the way to go.

Also worked on a set of notes for Conflict Communications students.  That's a delicate balance.  A handbook would be neat, but people actually learn and remember better with hints than with passages.

Formatted two of the next three articles.

Still undone (but not tonight, I think.  I've earned a break).   ahem.  Still undone: seven weeks to get A Citizen's Guide to Police Use of Force into final shape.  Karen is my editor on this project and I like working with her... but the manuscript I originally sent to David was just to give him an idea and it is a really rough draft.  Done that twice now, sent and sold manuscripts before I even cleaned them up.  Still want to work on a manual for calming emotionally disturbed, drugged and mentally ill people.  Need to format Chiron 2008.

Kami did a great cover for 2008 and it cover my first seven months in Iraq.  There will be lots of new material, mostly things I couldn't right at the time and maybe a few chapters of the Nanowrimo novel I did in Baghdad.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's Not all Crickets

The silence on INK has been deafening, like the sound of crickets you get when you ask for volunteers...

Things are moving apace in my little writing world.

Sold my third article to Concealed Carry Magazine.  It's been a series on different types of violent criminals.  Asked to do a regular column.

Three e-books out at Smashwords.  Two are compilations of the blog with some added material.  One is based on the course I did for Savvy Authors.  (Thanks, Mark, for the recommendation.)  Kami did the covers for all three and they look great.  A fourth e-book will be out before the end of the week, barring the unexpected.  It's a collection of drills and some people seem really eager to see it.

"Facing Violence" is scheduled for a May release and already available for pre-order.  There is a signing scheduled for 7 PM, May 25th at Powell's in Beaverton.  And in early September we should be filming a DVD version in Boston.

The collaboration with Lawrence Kane is pretty much done and we're looking at an Autumn 2012 release through YMAA.  YMAA also bought "A Citizen's Guide to Police Use of Force" for 2012 release and David wants to do a print version of the Drills Manual, but that won't be out until late 2012 at the earliest, probably 2013.

Conflict Communications has been blowing away audiences, but the book is going slower than I had hoped.  First draft is long done, but hammering out changes is hard.  Collaboration isn't for sissys.

Next project is a handbook on crisis communication for the Mentally Ill/Emotionally Disturbed.  Basically just putting in words what I did for most of my last  several years at MCIJ.  Doubt if it will come out to full book length.  If not, another e-book.

Busy is good.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fighting Shifting Priorities.

It's probably no surprise to anyone in the know I've been fighting chaos and drama at home for nearly a year now. Lost my first reader, lost momentum time and again, nearly lost point and purpose. I've been asked to do a few things I didn't want to do and I hope to pick back up some I won't entirely let go.

Through it all, while I had cut back dedicated writing from last February 14th through December 28th (no significance in dates), and while I fully realize it's not the weekly chaos, the daily drama that derails me, it's how I react to it all. Coming up on a year since my family came close to losing much due to the dipping job market, I see that this is the new normal and as that I'm not the only one living under this roof, there will always be chaos and drama, every single day. But that doesn't mean I have to walk into that constant pit of despair.

I've been pecking at a project that should have been finished years ago. I wrote my first flash fiction that is marinating for a week before I look at it again and wait for a reputable site to open submissions again. I'm still struggling with the thought that others don't have my best interest at heart. I'm trying to smooth and calm life around me while sticking to my passion here and there. I hope those roles are reversed in frequency some time in the future.

And I want to thank everyone here at INK, past and present, who helped me shape my skills. Thanks for your words. Thanks for your patience.