Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Random Writing Tips – Try new things


About a week ago, I was driving to work and I wasn’t in a good mood.  I hadn’t slept that well, I had a bit of a toothache, and I’d done something to my elbow.  Not to mention I was thinking about all the writing stuff I needed to do.  I needed to write up some blogs, I needed to come up with an idea for my Monthly Stories, I needed stories for the various collections I’m working on, I needed to critique stories from the writing group I’m in, I needed a story to share for the group, and I needed someway to boost my nearly non-existent ebook sales.  And then, as I pulled into work, I found out I had an issue with my power steering.  So the next few hours I was rather miserable.

Then I remembered an idea for a story I had while I was in bed wishing I would fall back asleep.  The idea behind my Monthly Stories is to come up with an idea and finish it before the end of the month.  Often, these stories deal with something about that month, but that rule isn’t carved in stone.  But, this idea I had did fit in with a news story I’d seen, so I had my story for the month.  And this story also would fit in my next story collection. 

As my shift went on, I thought more and more about how to better market my books.  Basically, all the things you’d probably say to do to market my books are things I struggle with.  There are some things I’ve tried to do that are … marketing adjacent, but I haven’t had much luck sticking to them.  But I started thinking that instead of trying to do what I originally wanted to do, I could try variations.

That’s when I started feeling better.  Well, except for my toothache and having to deal with my car.  Whenever you hit a dead end, with a plot, marketing strategy, whatever, you can always try something new.


Image from Pixabay.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Short story – “Conditions”


With a mug of his favorite coffee, John went into the storage room/his office and locked the door so the cat wouldn’t get in.  He set the mug on his desk, then walked over to the stereo set on a metal shelf and put on a Vivaldi CD.  The music started and he adjusted the volume until it was a soft background.  Returning to his desk he sat down and turned on his laptop.  The twins had birthday money burning holes in their pockets, so his wife Melanie had taken them out for a day of shopping, giving him an afternoon of peace and quiet to work on his novel.

He opened the file and read over the last few paragraphs.  After a sip of coffee, he put his fingers on the keys … but nothing came. 

Sipping his coffee, he read over the last couple of pages he had written.  When he got to the end, he put his fingers back on the keys, but they just rested there.  He knew where his novel needed to go, he just didn’t know how to get it there.

With a sigh, he sat back.  For the first time in months, he had hours where he wasn’t at work, or sleeping, or dealing with two rambunctious six-year-olds.  It was everything he’d been wishing for.  Looking at the ceiling, he gave a mirthless chuckle.  “How could I be expected to write under these conditions?”

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Fool’s stories

This started a couple weeks ago when I had a dream.  In this dream, a giant dog was destroying cities.  By giant, I mean this dog could have easily chewed up Godzilla.  All of our guns and bombs were useless against it.  But then, this old guy from a retirement home stepped up and wrestled it into submission, or maybe killed it.  This turned out to be an immortal Gilgamesh, who had just been laying low for the last few thousand years.

I woke up, and in my semi-wakeful grogginess, I thought it would make a perfect story.  I did notice the issue that Gilgamesh didn’t become immortal in his Epic, but figured he just didn’t want to have to deal with everyone bugging him on how to be immortal, so the version of the story he told was that he didn’t become immortal.  I then tried to go back to sleep.

Later, after I had gotten up, I remembered this idea for a story.  But being fully awake, I started finding flaws in the idea.  Like, where did this enormous dog come from?  Even if Gilgamesh was immortal, how did he have the strength to wrestle this million-ton dog?  And how could someone like Gilgamesh just lay low for thousands of years?

This kind of thing happens to me a couple of times a month.  I’ll wake from a weird dream thinking it’ll make a great story, only to realize once I’ve woken up that it doesn’t even make sense as a dream.  And I wondered if there was a term for this … situation.  After some thought, I came up with Fool’s Stories, as in things that look like stories, only to realize they’re not.  Like how Pyrite is sometimes called Fool’s Gold.  Or, should they be called PyWrites?

Anyway, does this ever happen to you, and if so, what do you call it?

Thursday, November 2, 2023

2023 Election ebook sale!

I know that a lot of people are tired of being told that every election for the past decade is THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER!  But it’s true.  The fastest way for the anti-democratic forces to seize power is if The People can’t be bothered to vote.  And they have too much power as it is.  To keep our democracy, we need to vote, in this election and every election. 

The tiniest part that I’m doing is having a sale of five of my ebooks.  All I ask – and there’s no way for me to know – is that if you’re an adult American you vote in this Election.  Here’s a site to help you find your polling location.  And you don’t have to wait until after you vote, if you grab my books now, you can have something to read while you wait in line. 

If you’re an American under 18, you can still get my books.  All I ask is that once you turn 18 you register to vote.  Information on how to do that should be on your state’s website.  You can also grab my books if you’re not an American.  I just ask that you participate in your country’s political system, because the anti-democratic forces are not limited to the US.

The following five ebooks will be free to download from Friday, November 3, through Tuesday, November 7.  The title links take you to the US site for the book.


Political Pies

Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into my Political Pies anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.


The Most Powerful Man in the World and other stories

The Most Powerful Man in the World and other stories is a collection of five, short, scifi stories to provide a sample of my writing.

A being from the distant future with almost unlimited powers comes back to help Ian Steele make the world a better place in “The Most Powerful Man in the World.” One bookstore customer has an entirely different reason for wanting books in “Black Market Books.” “Motherhood” tells the story of Thomas Gillespie, the surrogate mother for a baby AI. “Storyteller” is about an author thinking his book into existence. And “Deadworld” is about the alien world humans are reborn on – in alien bodies – after we die.


A Man of Few Words

A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? I explore these questions and more using less than 1,000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.



For reasons of safety and avoiding paradoxes, Time Travel Incorporated assigns a Guardian to all its travelers. So when there is an accident during political historian Roj Hasol’s trip back to 1968, it’s his Guardian Susan who sets out on the arduous task of cleaning up the mess.


The Future is Coming

As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them. Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.