Planning to be Impulsive

I’ve decided I need a list. Activities to do, when I’m not feeling creative enough to come up with anything on the spur of the moment. I seem to be having a lot of those days, lately. More doing energy than thinking energy. I used to have a kind of calendar of standing… well, stuff.

Not big, bank-breaking, once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list stuff. More… It’s Thursday Night and what the hell do you do on a Thursday night? list. Entertainment and something resembling food for under ten bucks list. Something to fill all those weird scraps of hours and minutes that are left over after everything else.

I’m in a smaller town, now. There aren’t a lot of that kind of thing, and there’s not a whole lot of room to be choosy.

I’m choosy.

I really am. I really don’t want to spend my ten bucks on the local cover band, or my scraps of time on art exhibits where Mrs. Somebody has painted a chicken on a gunny sack. I want to see something good.

It’s amazing how little I planned, and how much I did, anyway. The vague outlines of “what’s going on” were enough to keep me busy. Dance here, here, and here. Jazz on Tuesdays, an art exhibit on Wednesday–there’s always something… and some other thing on Thursdays… Impulse was enough.

So, now I need a list. Something, anyway.

I’m going to work on specific things first, and then more general “Every Tuesday” things.

P.S. I think there’s something wrong with my visit counter, so be sure you leave me a like or a comment to let me know you were here. If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

Word Count Blues

I’m counting down those last few “safe” index cards–the ones I’m sure I have space for–and moving into the “with caution” cards soon. I’ll still have a lot of revising to do after I have the entire draft written, but I’m already fluttering around 92,000 words. (Including the fat.)

I’ll have to add some hints at a romantic subplot, of course, and there are some connective scenes I need.

So, how, exactly, do we get from here to here without killing anybody I’m going to need in the next chapter, and without tearing apart the entire book to make the new scene fit?

And then, on to writing that impossible query letter.

Cemeteries and Science

Somewhere, in the Great American Prairie, on land that belonged to a town that no longer exists, you will find a small cemetery. Be sure you close the gates. You don’t want to chase the cows out, and the volunteer who mows doesn’t want to clean up after them.

Now and then, a new grave goes in–someone old enough and local enough to own a plot–but for the most part, you’re the only living person there. All the rest–the pioneers and cowboys, the homesteaders and farmers, even your own great-something-great grandfather, who used to deliver the mail a couple of times a month… they’re stories from before your time.

And if you went there often enough, you still know those stories by heart.

And you know the family names, of course. The families are still around. Mixed into bigger towns, more successful towns.

Seven children died, once. One after another, from whatever the disease was at the time. Typhoid, maybe. Cholera. Something we cure with antibiotics if modern water systems even let it through.

And their father had to bury each one, himself.

Carry the bodies out to the cemetery, tuck them into the ground, and cover them with dirt.

Their neighbors told the parents they had sinned, and judged harshly, as if they, themselves would be immune.

But, not quite sure, they made him bury his own children.

 

Reusing Old Posts By Subject

One of the thoughts that flutters through my head from time to time is re-posting, or cross-posting content from the blog to other platforms. I’m always running into plugins that promise to do that for me. I use one, actually, to tweet each post, and maybe add it to Google Plus. (Because the integration was pretty easy.)

Now, the theme here–correct me if I’m wrong–is more or less whatever pops into my mind, sometimes with a writing bent. And let’s be honest… I post a lot. It’s a good warm up for the day, and why the hell wouldn’t someone care about what I ate for lunch yesterday? (It was a tomato caprese sandwich.)

The way a lot of these autoposters works is that you tell it which tags you would like posted to which networks. So, potentially, I could post one set of things to Medium, and a different set to Tumbler, and so on. Even if I keep posting exactly the way I have been here, the others would wind up taking on their own flavor, by virtue of all the sandwiches that are cut out, and the fact that the tags could be tailored to have–for instance–a fiction-only slant, or a “here are my views on education” slant.

I could use tags to turn Tumbler into a reader-oriented platform, and Medium into something more political-y activist-y. (Or, you know, off the wall views to piss everybody off-y)

So, the questions that I have, right now… are

  1. What flavor or slant do you think that various platforms have? What tags should I assign to which platform?
  2. Which platforms are the best for selling things on? Down the road, I’d probably like people to buy things, and it won’t help much, if my “reader” platform doesn’t allow sales. (I’m not just talking about books, of course. I could sell custom nose rings or something.)
  3. How do I (eventually) start to move people off of platforms that don’t belong to me and onto Reprobate Typewriter? Does this even matter?

Writer’s Business Cards

A while back, I had business cards made up. They’re not too bad. The Vista Print special for the day. Nothing that took a designer to build, but not exactly shabby, either.

They focused more on my website than on me as a writer, which is okay, I guess. I haven’t settled on a pen name (for real) yet, and at the time, I was still up in the air, even as far as genre goes. There are a lot of experiments rotting on my hard drive. I’m happy with some of them, and less happy with others. And maybe that’s just a part of sussing out what your themes–what your real, core stories are, and what the best way of telling those stories might be.

So, I have business cards.

Delightfully pretentious, n’est pas?

They don’t have my name on them, and they aren’t all that specific about genre, but they exist. They do highlight the website nicely, albeit as something I hope it will one day become. They do not, for instance, have my Twitter account on them.

I thought about taking business cards to the writers’ conference just a little too late to order new ones, and realized how… well, strangely not right the ones I have are. (Don’t worry, I ordered the smallest package of them.)

So, at some point , I actually saw a few writers’ business cards, and it turns out, they’re not nearly as difficult as I thought. Name, pen name, email, website, and some social media information. Maybe a genre, and maybe not. Maybe a tagline.

Obviously, my tagline would be Writing… Ask me what, when I make up my mind.

I’ll probably order replacements before I go out again.

So, do you have writer’s business cards? If so, what’s on them?

 

And Under a Hail of Gunfire

There are guns in my very, very soft almost-fantasy, but really, it’s sci-fi novel. I already knew that. The soldiers have them. And apparently, some of the civilians, too. One of guardsmen keeps offering to shoot my main character with one. They’re not ray guns, or ballistic nuclear weapons, or any other kind of excitement. And they’re certainly not flint-lock, light the wick type guns. (Because it’s not fantasy, after all.) Just pull the trigger, launch a bullet type guns.

There’s no in depth exploration of them. They’re just there.

Cards on the table, I know more about guns than the average city-person, and a whole lot less than the average country person. They go BOOM, so as a child, I really, really disliked them. (also fireworks, loud stereos, backfiring cars, and motorcycle engines. I do not like the BOOM, even now.)

One of my uncles (imagine Ben Stein, but a gynecologist) collected World War II era Mausers. (They’re a small handgun made in Germany, and various formerly-German territories. You know the gun from the Rocketeer? That.)

Do you know how many Mausers there are?

Trick question.

The answer is ONE. Just ONE. It comes with or without the folding stock, and will be repeated several million billion times in the course of the grand Mauser tour. The size of the gun safe is just a ploy to convince you there’s more than one, but there’s not.

This is a Mauser from (Germany, Czechoslovakia, Turkey…) it was made in (Year, probably from 1937-1945) It is really snazzy because it is absolutely identical to the other 400 Mausers you’ve seen today. Identical, can you imagine? I bought it for thirty-seven cents back in 1974, and all I had to do was replace a spring.

There are no Mausers in my book.

But my characters did find themselves under a convenient hail of non-Mauser gunfire.

It suddenly struck me as interesting that of all the methods of killing people in my book, the guns are the least… fatal. The aim isn’t good. Or even intentional, and my guardsman never gets permission to shoot my MC (obviously.)

That Writing Sprints Journal Thingy…

I got a copy of the Writing Sprints Journal by Jennie Marts. Let’s be honest. This is one of the books I could have bought at the writers’ conference, and maybe I should have. It took me a couple weeks to decide I wanted it, though. Even after hearing the author talk, and seeing her amazing productivity.

This is a how to organize the three and a half minutes you have in a day book. It’s not how to write a novel, or how to revise, or how to write perfect characters.

It’s just how to get the most out of your time.

Jennie’s goals are a lot loftier than mine. She does four or five books a year, and still looks like a beauty queen while not cussing out the books, the schedule, or random strangers on the street.

Personally, I’d be happy with one book a year, while looking nearly human. (And I promise not to cuss out lamp posts or fire hydrants.)

Okay, so after the initial shock of Word sprints? Really? That’s it???! I thought about it, and the truth is that word sprints–in general–do work for me.

I’ve never really done them in an organized, routine way, though. More of a panicked, I’m how many words behind? during Nano.

This is more of a plan, and then sprint, and by the way, do it every single day kind of approach. It’s Organized with a capital O.

And as you may have guessed by now, organized is not my natural state. It’s something I buy or steal off others. It’s something an army of high school teachers has tried and failed to teach me. (Some of them came through remarkably well. Others… well, they do twitch a bit, now.)

As of right now, I’m in the revision phase of current book.

As of… well, a  really long time, actually.

I’m debating whether to start right off by adapting the book for revision-y sprinting, or to start with actual word-sprints for new material, or what.

Fine. So, I’m writing in my recurring events, and working my way up to the big stuff. Right now, the goals are: Finish revising book. Write Query letter and Query the book. Begin next book. Short Stories for Blog Hop and (**sigh**) 52 week challenge. Oh, yes… and try to sell at least one of those.

I’ll just sit here and stare at the journal until I wind up jumping in head-first, I think.

 

Homeopathic De-Allergi-fication

I survived my first encounter with the neti pot, last night. In all honesty, it wasn’t half as drowny-awful as I expected, and it did help. I think I’d describe the experience as pretty much identical to pouring water down your face. So identical, in fact, that I wasn’t sure I was doing it right, at first.

I was doing it right. The ability to blow bubbles with one nostril and then stop the stream of water by pinching off the other nostril proves it. 

And… get this… I could actually smell things after I was finished. It’s been a while since I could smell anything subtle, apparently. 

I’m still getting the hang of the exact right angle so that salt water doesn’t wind up going down my throat. I would like the water to be warmer, next time. I was really cautious about the heat this time, because I’m not crazy about the idea of poached mucosae.

I think the results last at least as long as some of the pills I’ve been taking. And instead of leaving you slightly drugged and over-dried, the neti pot actually left me feeling… well, good.

I’ll probably do another round when I get off work later today. I’m getting that just-getting-over a cold feeling where you can feel the snot moving around in your head and ears, so I hope I can clear the rest of it out and be even better.

Time Through The Sieve

As usual, a couple of days off, and I have blasted the hell out of my schedule. I don’t know if it’s the caffeine or the slow slide out of waking up at three in the morning, so I can do other things in the “evening” but I keep running into the thing where I don’t sleep, and then I’m up running around on empty.

Maybe I can blame the thunderstorm.

And maybe I can blame thunderstorms all spring. We’re expecting more of them.

Seems like it’s those moments when I should have the most time to work on my revision that I wind up having the least. Days off eaten up by a little of this and a little of that. I’m fairly sure my biggest achievement this time was a nice cheeseburger.

What this gets down to is discipline, of course. It always does.

I need the extra time in the morning to get things done, and I need discipline to—ya know—be awake at three in the morning on my days off.

I have yet to get to the place where my deep, dark subconscious believes that sleeping until five or six is sleeping in, and I’m not sure how to get there.

I’m not sure if I want to get there.

Visions of sugar plums quitting their jobs keep dancing through my head.

Dew-drop fairies dancing their way to… I have no idea what. Something better.

And where are my friends? All married with children… or divorced with children… or some other thing that looks like progress to the outside world.

I’m getting a cup of tea. American Style… black as the pit and served over ice… and maybe that will make me feel less pointless.

At the very least, I’ll be less thirsty.

Amazon’s Algorithm and Advertising

Aside from I hope everyone’s aware that Amazon is selling the buy now button on books to people other than the publisher, people who may or may not be paying the authors.

It’s not often that I open a web page and immediately notice that the algorithm behind it has changed. Most of the time, those behind the scenes programming changes aren’t that obvious. Yes, I can see them, after someone points them out to me, and in a global way, I can see how this makes a difference somewhere to someone. Sometimes, I even have an opinion about whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

But the Amazon algorithm–the one that controls what products are recommended–well, I can see that change without being told, and without much thought, I can tell you what the end result will be. They’re clearly selling recommendations (among other things) as advertising space.

I have screenshots.

So, here, we have every single 2017 calendar that Moleskine makes. I bought one of those this year (about five months ago, actually) and now these are my book recommendations. And no, I haven’t shopped for calendars since December or January.

moleskine

Yup. That’s basically a row of 2017 Moleskine calendars. Don’t get me wrong, I like the one I have, but I don’t think I’ll be reading the whole series.

And then, there’s the thing with the robots?

I bought my vacuum cleaner a new battery. The last time I did this, the recommendations immediately went to all of the various vacuum cleaner batteries and filters for my brand of vacuum cleaner. (It’s a Neato Robotics XV-21.) This is my second set of batteries, and if I ever replace the vacuum cleaner… well, the next one will be a Neato, too.

RoombaScreenshot

As you can see, the Roomba corporation (who do not make my vacuum cleaner) has clearly paid for the privilege of advertising here, and I have a list of accessories that I can’t use, for a machine that I don’t own.

I hope these companies know what useless advertising they’re paying through the nose for.