Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

March 15, 2016

Sunday Monday Tuesday Reset

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 9:30 pm

I originally thought that I would run a weekly “keep myself honest” column over at PretentiousAuthor.com. In retrospect I think it would clutter the site up for no particular value for the readers.

It has some value for me, though, so I’m going to do it here instead. I’ll try to keep it short.

What I worked on: I revised the ending of ‘Silver the Moon in Ascension’ (aka ‘Magic robots vs Werewolves: Dawn of Justice’), I hand-wrote a few pages of my story about a monster hunting magistrate, I began researching my story idea for an ecopunk anthology, I wrote a drabble and I sent out my first pretentious-author newsletter to a whopping four subscribers!

I’ve been experimenting in the last few months with doing longhand first drafts. I used to do it, once upon a very long time ago, but I lost the habit somewhere. Early results seem to indicate that I write fast with longhand (not as fast as I type, but also with far fewer pauses for thought), that my writing sprints tend to last no more than about forty minutes at the most, and that I can generally crank out about 300 words (or two-ish pages of my notebook) in ten minutes or so. The prose tends to be a bit overwritten, but not much more than my regular prose. I expect the process of transcription will help me cut the text back to a lean flow. We’ll see.

What I’ve added to my work plan: More longhand drafting on the magistrate story, a knuckle-down redraft of Silver the Moon, writing a short-short submission for a CSFG horror flash fiction contest, more research for the ecopunk story, and outlining my serial fiction project that I plan to start soon.

For reference, the anthology I am aiming at is Ticonderoga’s Ecopunk – speculative tales of radical futures.  I’m inspired to have a go for a few reasons – one, because getting a story accepted into a Ticonderoga anthology has evolved from mere writing goal to authorial white whale; two, because I don’t write enough science fiction and I consider it a real gap in my repertoire; and three, because as I admitted on Leife Shallcross’ blog a few weeks ago, I am a lazy-arsed researcher, which borders on the disgraceful.

(So far the hard part has not been developing a workable SF concept. It’s finding the right story to attach to it).

Taking my shot at a scientifically-plausible short fiction piece is a real personal challenge. Honestly, it’s not a target I expect to hit, knowing the standard that the editors are expecting. But I won’t shore up my weaknesses by avoiding them.

 

 

January 24, 2016

What I did on my holidays – Summer 2015-16

I’ve been having one of those summer holidays that I will probably look back on in the future and think “That went well”.

Well, no I won’t, because I have a terrible memory for dates and what-happened-when. But in theory I could look back on it with something approaching a sense of accomplishment. I’m pretty happy with some of these highlights:

House renovations – We’ve now owned our fixer-upper house for over ten years. We’re still fixing it up, and in the forthcoming years\ we will be replacing all the flooring and at least one of the bathrooms. By comparison, painting a few patches of the vast unrenovated expanse of our external walls is a trivial enterprise. But it still feels good to have just about finished painting all of the parts of the house which are visible from the street. At least the place appears to casual passers-by to be occupied , and not at all like a drug den impounded by the cops and forgotten in an administrative bungle.

Bass guitar – My Xmas gift to myself was to buy a copy of the PC game Rocksmith 2014, which is a guitar tutorial program dressed up as a game. You jack a real electric guitar (or in my case my buddy Simon’s old bass guitar) into the computer to learn basic techniques, whole songs and tricky passages. So far I am reasonably accomplished at playing Def Leppard’s genuinely awful “Pour Some Sugar on Me” (no link provided). I’m working hard to beat that by mastering some song that would constitute an accomplishment to be proud of, like “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.

After about five weeks of fairly solid practice, I can report that I am (a) getting better but by no means good and (b) developing tough callouses on the fingers where before I had numbness and/or pain. Rock and roll stardom awaits! (as soon as I beat the tutorial on doing slide notes up and down the neck of the guitar. Those are hard). Anyway, Rocksmith gets my recommendation as well. Short of paying for lessons, it really does seem to be a very effective way to learn how to play guitar.

Songwriting – Continuing on the musical theme, I wrote some song lyrics for the first time in ages these holidays. It’s something I do on and off, just for something different. My lyrics tend to languish undeveloped unless I can convince Evan (my songwriting buddy and about the only personal I know with any real music skills) to work out an arrangement for them. This year I plan to take advantage of my slowly-growing mastery of bass and ukulele to teach myself basic song-writing. Don’t worry, I’m not going to inflict a YouTube channel on anyone – I still have both a terrible voice and prohibitive performance anxiety – but I’m a step closer to my goal of being able to write a whole song, not just the words.

Flash fiction – I wrote something! And finished it! I’m working on the Conflux 12 organising committee again this year. As part of the promotion for the con, the Chair will be sending out publicity in the not-too-distant future. I’ve written a story with my take on this year’s theme “Red Fire Monkey”, which will appear as part of the publicity report. For posterity’s sake, I will note that the story is a rare instance of me writing straight science fiction.

Holidays in the Hunter – Our family holiday this year included a bunch of families, staying at the delightful Lovedale Cottages in the Hunter Valley. Fifteen of us, including five kids and a three-month-old baby, snuggled up together in warm, cosy cottages as the Hunter was hammered with five days of torrential downpours that threatened to leave us trapped by rising flood waters. Fortunately the pool was indoors and heated, and in reality most of the really heavy rain was well away from us. Still, it was a bit of a wet holiday. I can recommend the Lovedale Cottages though – they have a tennis court, the aforementioned indoor pool, a golf course (!) and are very comfortably appointed in a distinctly rustic style. Especially great for big group holidays.

Granola! – Every time we travel, we inevitably end up eating breakfast at cafes once in a while. And when we do, I will automatically order one of two things (aside from coffee, which obviously goes without saying). Either I will get the eggs benedict, – because you can always judge the quality of a cafe by their attention to detail in hollandaise sauce and also because I love eggs benedict – or, if I feel as though I have been eating nothing but garbage over the course of the holiday I will pretend to be virtuous by ordering a granola with yoghurt and possibly some fruit or berries. It’s embarrassing really, but I excuse myself because neither is a meal I would make at home.

Which got me thinking, why not? And so I did the minimum possible research to discover that, in fact, granola is dreadfully simple to make. So I now have a personalised granola recipe, cobbled together from fifteen or so granola recipes I found on the internet. (This article in the Guardian about finding the perfect granola was the primary source – the beaten egg white trick seems to be the killer ingredient, although it does make my granola non-vegan, so your mileage may vary).Incidentally, my search for ingredients has taken me into a number of “natural foods” stores. If you see me in one, don’t worry: I don’t need a paleo intervention. I just need to be directed to the barley.

Anyway, the point being granola is delicious. Don’t skimp on the almonds and hazlenuts.

September 10, 2014

Woo! Acceptance!

I’d like to report that I’ve broken my drought of short story acceptances, but I can’t quite do that yet. Lots of irons in the fire but nobody’s getting branded. That’s how that saying goes, isn’t it?

But maybe even better than that is the news tonight that my brother Ian (aka Gazza) has made his first fiction sale! He’s had a piece entitled ‘Potential’ accepted in the flash fiction section of the Tiny Owl Workshop The Lane of Unusual Traders anthology! Check it out! A couple of other writer friends – S G Larner and Rob Cook – also made the ballot, and I’m very excited for them as well.

I found out via a tweet from Stacey,who linked the Tiny Owl announcement. My jaw hit the ground when I saw the full list of authors. I had completely forgotten that Ian told me he was going to sub something.

I rang him to complain that he’d be holding on me with his big news.

Nope. He didn’t know. He hadn’t checked his email all day. LOL.

He was over the moon, of course. How well I remember the giddy thrill of that first email from an editor who wanted to buy my story. It was dazzlingly exciting. I’ve been chasing the dragon ever since 🙂 And now he has something I’ll never manage – a 100% successful submission record.

(Dammit! He’d better not quit with an unbeaten record. I’d never live it down!)

I have a story submitted for the up-to-3000 word category, so it’s not impossible that we’ll get to share a table of contents sometime next year. That would be kind of amazing.

But even if I don’t get up, I am awfully proud of Gazza. Good work bro!

 

 

October 25, 2013

TMoRP Day 9 – Review – Nine Flash Nine by Patrick O’Duffy

I like flash fiction, even though it’s not always done well. By my lights, good flash fiction gets in with one shining idea, fleshes it out with humour or at least sparkling prose, and gets out before anyone notices how thin the concept is. One thousand words or less, all boom.

I like weird fiction. The more off the wall, creepy and surreal the ideas presented, the better as far as I’m concerned. It’s one of the few areas in fiction where I’ll give ground on decent characters and something resembling a plot, if the weirdness is weird enough, or fun enough, or simply something I haven’t seen or thought of before.

Nine Flash Nine, Patrick O’Duffy’s collection of nine flash fiction pieces are mostly a bit weird, even if not all of it could be defined as weird fiction. Or at least very weird mutations of the rather traditional story types they are emulating.

There’s the touring band rocked by murder but more rocked by internal dimness.

There’s a ‘Dear Penthouse Forum’ letter which is epically explicit and hilarious, but decidely unusual.

There’s an invasion by impossibly giant monsters who don’t give a rat’s arse that physics forbids their existence.

There’s one about a ghost moustache.

There’s five other stories. One simple idea per story, executed well. O’Duffy’s a writer who has fun with his language. These stories gleam with his trademark wit and insight and the occasional moment of well-directed snark. Like all good flash fiction, they’re gone way too soon.

The other thing is – look, the collection is a buck on Smashwords, so it’s not a huge investment. Personally I would recommend browsing his entire self-published catalogue. There’s good stuff in there, of which I’ve reviewed several pieces. (I read this back in March, and I feel kind of bad that it’s taken me this long to recommend it. But I do recommend it, because it’s a delight).

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