Just a reminder, don't forget to tune in to hear me on The Speculative Fiction Cantina, tonight at 6PM Eastern! (Reading from "Ad Aware," answering all the important questions, what more could you ask?)
The blog/ facebook/ email votes have been tallied, and it seems the story the most people want to hear me read is "Ad Aware." ("False Idols" and "Heaven 2.0" tied for second, with a few votes for "Soul Mates.") Remember to turn in your computers to The Speculative Fiction Cantina, this Friday at 6 PM Eastern! In other news, my back is FUBAR once more, after spending a week climbing around on top of pipes, and then sitting on the couch, playing Rabbids on the Wii with Mandy for too long. One disaster at a time... Thanks again to all who participated. TTFN -Tony
I'm going to be a guest on The Speculative Fiction Cantina, on Writestream, at BlogTalkRadio, next Friday, October 24, at 6pm Eastern. Just tune in then at the link below:
As part of the show, I'll be reading an excerpt from one of my short stories. So the question is, which one? I'm leaning towards "Ad Aware" because it's the shortest-they only want a 5-8 minute passage. So please, tell me, which would you like to hear? I'll tally up the votes on Monday morning, so I can start practicing. See you next Friday! (Well, I won't actually be able to see you, unless you decide to send me a selfie or something-but you know what I mean.) TTFN -Tony
Another beautiful morning. I think it's supposed to rain. At least it's a Saturday. I have spent the last few days climbing on top of pipes in a filthy basement, drilling into a ceiling, raining concrete dust on me, my S&M safety harness chafing my thighs... At least I'm not stuck at a desk.
I've decided to restore two naughty scenes to my book, that I had previously reduced to a literary camera panning to the fireplace or window. I'll just have to give my mother a special edition, with those pages ripped out. Or maybe changed entirely? They could go to church instead, possibly confession. Or maybe say a Novena?
As a parent myself, I'm continuing the American tradition of being a prude when it comes to naughtiness and my children, but being fine with graphic violence. I've let my almost seventeen-year-old son watch a few Game of Thrones episodes with me. Guy getting a sword through the back of his head with blood spurting out of his mouth? That's fine. Daenerys Targaryen walking around naked with her dragons? Sorry kid, you gotta leave the room.
I finished binge-watching the HBO series, I have to read the books now. Tyrion is my favorite character. He embraces his dwarfism with pride, instead of being ashamed of it. He's brilliant, brutally honest, and constantly tries to act in as noble a manner as possible, although his (antagonist) family will never overlook his handicap. Besides, the actor and I were apparently both born in the same hospital, although a few years apart.
Anyway, heading out to NJ with the kiddies today. Looking forward to meeting up with my old friend Troy tonight for a few fermented beverages. Time with good people gives me happiness.
I've met a few other writers who are always jealous and undercutting. Thank you Suzanne Casamento for being a supportive friend instead, and pointing out a sci-fi promotional opportunity. (Details to follow when I have them.) You rock.
Sunday has once again come upon me. The day itself isn't bad, it's knowing I have to go back to work tomorrow. Work itself isn't even bad, I just seriously need a vacation. Why don't I take one? Well, I'd have to take money out of my 401k for my vacation pay, and that kind of sucks, especially since the IRS will have it's way with me over it. Maybe next year, if I don't have furlough. It's nice relaxing all weekend, being lazy and not going anywhere. I started watching Game of Thrones. It's an amazing show, and I absolutely love the animation during the opening credits. I love when CGI is almost completely unrecognizable as CGI - The art is in hiding the art. But I can't hear the theme song without imagining South Park's parody lyrics over it. ("Wiener, floppy weiner, one wiener, next to another wiener...") I finished rewriting chapter ten, which means that all that's left is a daily scouring. Writing isn't really hard, it's the worry of judgement. Judgement over your plot, judgement over your characters, judgement over your grammar... especially since I've self-published. Not to whine, but self-published books are held up to ten times the scrutiny of traditional ones. I'm seriously toying with the idea of attempting to go the traditional route with the finished product. I'm a great proponent of self-publishing, and I know there is a lot of quality self-published work out there. But the truth is, no matter how many four and five star reviews I've recieved, I know no one will take my writing seriously unless I get an agent to represent me, and a publisher to invenst money in me. This means even more scrutinizing, and that it would probably take at least an additional year once the damn thing is finished to see the light of day-if I am successful. I'll have to see. Hell, at 300 pages, I'm only 2/3 done. I've lost fifteen pounds in the past month. The weird thing is that even though I can fit my whole arm down the side of my jeans and they're practically falling off of me, I haven't gone down a size yet. Maybe my current ones were of a larger cut, and the newer ones are smaller? It doesn't really matter, I can just wear a belt. It's been a fun weekend, playing Rabbids on the Wii with Mandy, writing, frying bacon, watching 90's films with Joe, kvetching at Doctor Who for becoming a soap opera about Clara, getting in arguments with and blocked by a facebook friend who turned out to be an ideological zealot... all in all, an interesting time. My life is draining, it's nice just to take it easy now and then. TTFN -Tony
Please stop trying to make Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and other ISPs out to be Dagny Taggart on the net neutrality issue. Their Super PAC donations, heavy lobbying, and tax incentives have clearly put them in with Orren Boyle. That is all.
I spent my day and evening with the Morlocks beneath the streets of New York City. A lucrative overtime shot. Half of it will go to my September dues, and the other half will go to getting my windshield replaced. I suppose I should feel thankful that I'm able to tread water. I've finally begun shopping for a new (used) car. You would think that it would be simple: Do my shopping online, check out the CARFAX, go in, give it a test drive, haggle a little on the price, pay it, and leave. No such luck. The first car I checked out, the dealer immediately told me there was an additional $2000 on top of the advertised price, because I wasn't financing. I turned around and walked out. The salesman said, "No, no, wait! We can work something out!" Working something out meant adding on another $2000 in "fees." I laughed in his face, and said I wasn't paying anything more than the advertised price, plus tax, tag, and title. He said he would go to his manager, but I had to decide RIGHT THEN if it was the price I wanted. I just laughed, and asked him who he thought he was kidding. What, did he think we were in a game show? He didn't like that. He then said that before he went to his manager, he needed a $100 "good faith" deposit. Again, I laughed hysterically at him, which was worth seeing him get all red in the face. Seriously, he expected me to put down $100 so he could talk with his boss. I'm sure they would resist refunding it until I demanded legal action, or bought some car from them at some ridiculous price. At that point, I left. At least the experience was entertaining. The next car I checked out (at a dealership on the other side of Queens) the salesmen were much nicer, and didn't try to hard sell me or add on a bunch of fees. Unfortunately, the car they advertised for a great price-with a CARFAX report that said the airbags had never been deployed, and it had never been in an accident-Had had both airbags removed. Not only had they been removed, but the dealership hadn't even attempted to replace or fix the car. The steering wheel was badly duct-taped together, and the passenger-side bag holder was badly taped up as well. Technically... not deployed. Again, I left. At least they were respectful and didn't try anything ridiculous. I think they were baffled that I wasn't desperate. Anyway, still wired from all the... not Red Bull... what was it I drank... Monster Zero drinks. Watching old TV shows on Netflix. Maybe I'll play a bit of Borderlands on Steam and go to sleep. TTFN -Tony
I've finally scoured Chapter Nine of the still yet untitled novel to perfection. 70,682 words so far. Every time I do a word count, I think of the old Monty Python line: "I don't want you to get the impression it's just a question of the number of words... um... I mean, getting them in the right order is just as important." I always blame work for cramping my output, but I've gone through a lot of personal crap in the past few months as well, especially losing an old friend. This chapter also required a lot of rewrites because as it's the penultimate chapter of the second act (to use a theatrical term) a few characters are about to do some things that are contrary to their established nature. I needed to make sure the seeds were well laid to make the changes believable. Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish, how did books ever get written before word processing? TTFN -Tony
Why is it that in my "normal" dreams, there are usually only one or two other people, but my lucid dreams are ridiculously crowded? Also, when I ask any of these people who they are, and why they're in my brain, they turn their backs, and refuse to speak to me. It's quite vexing.
Hello, everyone. This is Mortie the Gefilte Fish, guest-blogging here with Mortie's Interviews. Today, I'm interviewing carbon-based lifeform, author, electrician, and all around swell guy, Tony LaRocca. How are you, Tony?
Tony: Fine, thanks.
Mortie: Now, for those who don't know, this is what we call a "Blog Tour," where authors answer a few questions, and then tag a few of their author friends to continue.
Mortie: That's just wonderful. Ok, now that we've done the restrospective plugs, why don't you tell us a little about yourself. What do you have published?
Tony: At the moment, I have a science-fiction short story collection, titled False Idols and Other Short Stories. It has a little bit of everything: nuts and bolts, horror, fantasy, comedy, drama... That's the great thing about short stories: you can have different types, themes, and tones. With a novel, it's all one.
Mortie: Which story has gotten the best response, do you think?
Tony: I would have to say "Heaven 2.0." It's pretty much a pact-with-the-devil story, but people tell me they've enjoyed the characters and humor.
Mortie: That's the one about the dog?
Tony: And ancient Japanese cat-demons.
Mortie: Yeah, but I noticed, no fish.
Mortie: You have stories about dogs, cats, all kinds of scary bugs, even a cyborg-dragon, but no fish. How come?
Tony: Well... if I came up with an interesting story about a fish, then I would write one. But if I just tried to force it, people would be able to tell.
Mortie: I see. Moving on.
Mortie: So that's it, one book? That's not a lot.
Tony: Well, in addition to the short stories, I've written three novels over the years. The only problem is, there's a phenomenal amount of work involved to get them up to a publishable level. I've been polishing one for about a year now. It went much quicker when I was unemployed. I'm about halfway done.
Mortie: What's it about?
Tony: It takes place in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future. There's a boy who dies, and his mother paints his mind into a virtual reality painting, which gets stolen by an army of cyborgs. They're also fighting an army of cybernetic insects, who were once humans.
Mortie: But no fish.
Tony: ...No. The novel started out as a short story, just about the mother and painting of the son, being chased by cyborgs. But then I started adding details, and back stories for the characters, and enriching their universe. One of the main characters is a female cyborg named Sigma. She actually started out as male in the short story, and was the main antagonist. There was a lot of (Clive Barker's character) Pinhead in him. I found myself in a rut one day-
Mortie: Which one?
Tony: Excuse me?
Mortie: Which day? Thursday? Was it in July? 2010?
Tony: I think it might have been as far back as 2005. I've been working on this novel for almost ten years.
Mortie: Wow, and no fish?
Tony: No. Anyway, once I changed him into a her, the character became much more interesting. She had an entire slew of different motivations. That's where the real magic comes in writing: the process. You can sit and plot and plan all you want, but when you start writing, all kinds of strange things pop up. That's what's so exciting to me, the bizarre things my subconscious dredges up.
Mortie: I see. So how does your work differ than others in the genre, then?
Tony: Well, it differs because it's coming from my subconscious, rather than someone else's. Authors create stories based on their lives and experiences. My stories are unique because they were dredged from somewhere in the back of my mind, instead of someone else's.
Mortie: Corny, but probably true. So that's the only reason you write what you do? Because your subconscious tells you to?
Tony: Sometimes. I can't let it just go at that though, it's like a puzzle. The aforementioned "Heaven 2.0" came about because a friend of mine chastised me that I had no female heroes in any of my short stories, so I wrote her a story full of them. I also worked in my friends' daughter and her dog as well. But my annoyance at online data gathering, banks who hide traps in the fine print, and love of folklore came through. "False Idols" wasn't originally intended to be a dig at Monsanto, or even religion, for that matter. I needed to give my main character sympathetic motivation, and those themes just came through.
Mortie: Well, "Ad-Aware" is obviously about advertising. Would you say "The Autumn People" is about 9-11?
Tony: No, that's about depression and loneliness. The whole backdrop of the 9-11 aftermath was just my subconscious bleeding through, dealing with what I saw when I worked downtown afterward. Actually, that story was influenced by an essay by Harlan Ellison, in which he talked about subtext. That's how the story started, with me trying to create an atmosphere. Likewise, "Shattered Possibilities" came about by trying to emulate the Firesign Theatre's skill in layering hidden meaning upon hidden meaning. If you're interested in the background of my short stories and their processes, you can read about them here.
Mortie: Ok, I'll do the hyperlinks, here. Come on, let's wrap this up. How does your writing process work?
Tony: An idea comes to me, and I'll jot it down, usually on my Android. I'll dive in, and see if it works. Sometimes, it does, sometimes it's doesn't. After the story has taken off on it's own for a bit, I sit down, and see what sort of general plot I can make out of it. Was what I wrote a beginning, a middle, or an end? What does it need to make it complete? Does it need more characters, backstory, a satisfying ending... I have to look and see what I have, and work out where I'm going. That's why this final edit of my novel is taking so long. I polished and fixed a lot of problems in the first half, and now much of the second half needs rewriting to make it all work. Then I have to read it over and over and over, either short story by short story, or chapter by chapter. I have to apply a lot of narrative Spackle to make it as smooth as possible.
Mortie: Well, thank you very much for your time. Again, you have been talking with me, Mortie the Gefilte Fish, and him, Tony LaRocca. The blog tour continues next Monday with authors Brain Hartman and Don Martin. Check out their blogs then!
Hello, everyone, God here. I'm guest blogging today to talk with you about a subject of celestial importance: breast feeding pictures on facebook.
Now, as everyone who has read the Bible knows, I did not create women's breasts to be bared. When I created Eve fully grown from Adam's rib, I made her hair just long enough to cover her upper naughty bits. Likewise, I created fig leaves with a natural Velcro that would stick to pubic hair-but that's beside the point.
The point is, I did not mainly create breasts for feeding, that's just a weird (and frankly, gross) side effect. I created them to be ogled. If you took all the breasts in the world, added up every second that they had been used for nursing, then divided that number by the sum of the times they had been played with, looked at, autographed, or dreamt about, you would get a ratio so infinitely small, you wouldn't be able to find it with a microscope. It's math, people. Boobs are for enjoying, not milking.
And what's with all this hatred for Nestlé? Just because Nestlé encouraged women in poor, underdeveloped nations to use their "free" samples of baby formula instead of nursing, which caused their (weird and perverted) lactations to dry up, making them formula-dependant? Is it Nestlé's fault the women couldn't afford the product once the freebies were gone, or didn't have clean water to mix with it? Were they really to blame for the the resulting high infant death rate? And now, when Nestlé is trying to buy up all the world's natural water supply so they can sell it back to your children in bottles, you're getting on their case again. Sheesh. Some ungrateful people...
But I digress. I'm asking nicely ladies: Stop this weird fetish of breastfeeding your baby in public, especially on facebook. Keep your sick, shameful practice behind clothes doors, preferably under a blanket. Remember, your breasts solely exist for the pleasure of men, so send them pictures of your boobs instead. Why not start with bloggers-especially Sicilians?
So here I am, at the end of another Monday. My waistline gets larger, but strangely enough, my pants are becoming looser. This must be some conspiracy between my subconscious and the computer that runs the universe. Another workday has come to a close, another week begins. One day just seems to bleed into another. As Rowlf the Dog said in The Muppet Movie, "I finish work, I go home, read a book, drink a couple of beers, take myself for a walk, and go to bed." Sometimes I'm mad at myself for my lazy whining, but the answer to a difficult plotting problem I had had while editing my new (still unnamed) book has snuck up upon me, as so many of my writing answers do. Perhaps it was just a matter of time. Speaking of writing, the talented author Suzanne Casamento has invited me on a blog tour. So tune in next week to read all about my thoughts on writing, past, present, and future. Also speaking of writing, Craig J. Clark (a very good bearded playwright and werewolf aficionado) has contributed to a compilation of horror film reviews, Hidden Horror. It's chock full of strange and forgotten motion pictures, definitely worth checking out. In other news, the controls center I'm working in at work FINALLY has air conditioning. The hateful tears of the jealous are like manna to me, they feed my cold, black-but most importantly, cold-heart. If I'm going to suffer the stench of Queens's sewers, I may as well suffer in style. TTFN -Tony
I'm lying here, listening to the rain. Clouds are bumping uglies, making sparks fly. I explain to my frightened daughter that clouds are huge, and yell at each other to get out of the way. I miss my parent's house, the sliding doors in the kitchen that give a beautiful view to thunderstorms on summer nights.
I've been rewatching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, and wishing I had it in me to be so arrogant an author. Still working on the rewrite that's taking forever, but my characters needed better motivation. I can't think of the word without remembering Drill Sergeants screaming it at me, that I wasn't motivated enough. I can remember so many things. I'll probably get Alzheimer's when I'm older.
What if a person's left hearing aid was modulated up three half-steps, and the right up a fifth? Would they then hear their universe as a progression of minor chords? Would it drive them to insanity and depression?
Watching the end of Heavy Metal on Netflix. My daughter plays with her naked Barbie riding on a My Little Pony Pegasus, named Starry Farts, or something like that, and I'm reminded of Taarna from the end of the film. Of course I haven't shown it to her, I have SOME parenting abilities. Also, Taarna rides a giant chicken. (Hence my humble sketch.)
Jelly doughnuts bulging on my sciatic nerve,
Twists me to the side, makes my spine all curved.
Every time I stand, I have to stretch the other way,
I tell everyone I'm practicing for when I do ballet.
It's no fun when all your discs have slipped,
And you have to walk around like someone kicked you in the hips.
My stomach is overflowing with NSAIDs,
Oh Lordy, won't you give me back my spine from 1993?