Tuesday, September 20, 2022

When is an announcement kind of sort of not really an announcement?

Some of you wonderful fans have been kind enough to ask the question, “It’s been five years since your last book, when are you coming out with something new?” Hold on, let me check. Yup. Five years. Four years since my last short story. A year since my last podcast – one episode of which I recorded, but never finished editing. (I’m so sorry, Willie, I promise to finish it soon!) I could list my shortcomings, whining, and excuses, but let’s just file it under “life got in the way.”

So, after a flurry of activity the past few weeks, I’m proud to announce that I’ve finished the first draft of a new novel. Well, I say “new,” but the truth is, I started it twenty years ago. Now begins the second draft, or what I like to call The Scouring. That’s where I go over every word with a fine-toothed comb, like searching for lice. I pace back and forth up and down the hallway of my apartment, reading the text while my phone reads my words to me like a Speak-And-Spell. I run it through editing bots, searching for all the naughty, monstrous, unforgivable things that cause people to burn books these days – like passive phrases and adverbs.

A word to the wise: Stephen King’s On Writing was meant to be a guide for authors. It was never intended to be a knee-jerk bible for armchair critics.

So, I hear you cry, I want to be like you! How can I take twenty years to finish my first draft? Well, it’s easy. Here are some of the many steps that you too can take:

1. Procrastinate. This is the easiest step. Just don’t write. Play video games instead. Fallout New Vegas is a great way to get your dopamine and achievement fix by leveling up a fake character instead of yourself.

2. Have no idea what you are writing about. When I started this book, I was on a Vonnegut kick. I told myself that I was going to just write it for myself, and not care about things like plot, characters, whether it offended anyone, or if it’s worth more than hamster cage liner. I managed to get about two-thirds of the way through and realized I had no idea where to go. What was going to happen to these characters? What was I trying to say? Would people say I was just copying Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, Sheckley, Gaiman, Pratchett…

3. Get all worked up over whether it’s publishable. Infusing your heart with anxiety over the worth of a project is a very important part of taking a long time to do anything. Worry about all the things you told yourself you would not worry about. As the entertainment industry and real life have become more and more political, this excuse has become much easier to pay homage to.

4. Start other projects. I’ve written two novels during the past twenty years, a collection of short stories, and a novella. I’ve also dabbled in a point-and-click adventure that I never finished, a bit of acting, and a podcast. May I also say that blogging is a great way to not get anything done, but to maintain an “online presence,” whatever that means.

5. Speaking of an online presence, social media is a wonderful distraction from writing or doing anything else productive. Why get anything done when you can argue anonymously about how horrible the Star Wars Sequels are, the failures of the economy, how that last Amazon shipment never arrived, or the skin tone of The Little Mermaid? This is also a good way to develop a negative and critical view of the world and make yourself a bitter person that no one wants to talk to.

Okay, I hear you cry. It’s been twenty years. So, when can I read it? When will the second draft be done -- or are you just procrastinating by wasting time with blog posts?

I hope to finish the second draft within the next few months. As to when you’re going to read it… well…

I’m going to go the traditional route on this one.

I’m going to try and get myself an agent, and get with a traditional publisher. And by that I mean not one of those scammy scumbag ones that are just self-publishing with extra steps. The reason is that as much as I respect myself, my work, and those of other independently published authors (at least the ones I know), the hard, undeniable truth is that just about no one else does. In the meantime, as traditional publishing is a very long process if it happens at all, I’m still going to come out with more independently published books. The third Debris of Shadows is in the works (see above about writing other things instead of getting one project finished at a time), as well as more short stories. But yes, as much as I love my friends and family and thank them deeply for their support, I’d like more people outside of those circles to someday read my work - and that will never happen unless I try.

Stay tuned!


Tuesday, February 01, 2022

I'm pretty sure this is how it happened...

SCENE: The Microsoft Development Team's bullpen, one year ago.



TEAM LEADER: Okay, team, Windows Eleven is about to release, and we need to find a way to really, really piss off our long-standing customers. What's a feature extremely common to Windows that behaves in a way all users expect that we can change for no reason? Something to say, "This isn't your boomer's Windows anymore!"

NORMAN: Isn't that ageism? And inaccurate? Our core users' ages range from-

TL: Shut up, Norm. Anyone?

BOB: We could require mouse swiping to open the Start Menu again, like we did in 8.0.

TL: Sorry, Bob. I know that was your baby, and by God, did it piss our loyal customers off! You did a great job, there - it was absolutely frustrating, pointless, and annoying. Too bad the complete and utter wusses upstairs made us change it back to normal. Sigh. Come on, people, something along those lines.

RITA: We could require them to enter their credit card information every time they log in?

TL: Oooh, hang on one second! (Wipes drool from chin.) Great Jesus's Gonads, that's tantalizing! But legal might have an issue. We may have to save that for Windows Twelve.

B: Wait, I've got a great idea. What if we changed the Start Menu in a ridiculous and annoying way.

R: More mouse gestures?

B: No, just small annoying things. Like, we'll put it in the center of the screen, even though for twenty-seven years it's been on the left. But here's the real pisser: we'll only show "pinned" and possibly "recently used" apps. Users will have to click a button to see all their apps, a convenience they've happily enjoyed since Windows 95. It's only one little extra click, but it would still be meaningless, annoying, and frustrating.

R: Will there be a setting to return it back to "classic" mode that users have become accustomed to for almost thirty years?

TL: Of course not. That's the point.

B: Wait - what if we add a Start Menu customization option in settings - but without that one "return to classic mode" option that customers will actually want?

R: But what would be the point, then? That would just be taunting and frustrating... (blushes.) Oooh, I get it now.

TL: (Whispering in awe) That's genius! That will just piss off our long-term customers even more! It's just one extra, unnecessary click, but it's just so subtle, pointless, meaningless, and annoying!

B: What's more, it will drive our loyal users crazy, because there's no conceivable benefit, either to them, or to Microsoft. (Everyone blesses themselves in the sign of the Windows logo.) It's just meaningless frustration for its own sake.

R: (Unbuttons top button of her blouse.) Say, Bob, what are you doing tonight?

N: But wait, I have to ask... why are we doing this?

TL: What?

N: I mean, WHY do we want to piss off loyal customers who have been with us for decades? Sure, we could change it, but why not with a setting to put it back the way it was, if users are happier that way? Why do operating system "upgrades" have to remove options and features users want instead of adding more? How is that progress?

B: Well, to be honest, I just got the idea of removing features without adding more from the Android Twelve "upgrade." They're doing great things over there.

N: But that's my point! Historically, Windows and Android users have chosen us over Apple's "walled garden" because they want choices and customization. They want to be able to do whatever they want with their devices and computers, not less. Why are we not only taking choices and features away, but deliberately trying to frustrate and anger them - especially over something as necessary as the Start Menu? It's petty, and makes no sense!

TL: Hmm. Those are... great points, Norm, just... great. Can you come into my office for a second?

(TL and NL walk offstage.)

N: (Off camera) Hey, WHAT? GET OFF ME! STOP IT! (Sounds of scuffle.)


(Pan across R and B's gleeful faces as the loud, echoing TWANG of a catapult is heard, followed by N screaming - fading into the distance - ending with a distant SPLAT.

TL walks back onstage, to R and B's applause.)

TL: Right in the center of the Apple Store logo. Okay... So that's a go with the Start Menu. Now, let's talk about ways we can make Edge more invasive, and unnecessarily required for the simplest tasks.

TL, R, and B proceede to laugh and chortle with evil mirth.