Monday, December 30, 2013

the high-quality format of your choice

How did I lose track of this thing for two months? Jesus.

Well, I do have some things to report. I am finished with the layout for MY NAME IS HATE, aka the sad bleak Western I wrote this year, and the cover is just about done. It'll be sent off to the printer soon enough, and then I will begin the strange and arduous process of selling it to people. I feel like I should have some kind of online store or an Etsy or something, but at this point I feel like I'd sell just as many books with the informal, bass-ackwards process I currently have. I would like to tour this book around a bit, though.

I also made myself a Tumblr: cops on vacation

I also also made myself a fancy e-chapbook of a short story I wrote during my MFA. It's called "We Suck," but it does not suck. My writing has come quite a long way since this was written, but I've always liked this story and since no one's interested in publishing it, I did this:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

the media broke it

I keep meaning to talk about John Dermot Woods' Activities here, and I keep forgetting because I am the worst.

It's also hard for me to really review comics because I don't have much experience creating them, and the fact that I can't draw means I can't really say much about the visuals. I pretty much just enjoy comics on a superficial level unless the writing is really good.

Lucky for me, John's comics all benefit from solid writing and concepts that don't feel like random indie comic wackiness; even when I don't quite understand the point of what he's doing, I'm aware that there is a point. If nothing else, I admire his ability to start with something very basic and tangible and twist it into something surreal without losing the original charm.

Basically, think of each comic as a piece of flash fiction broken up into panels and told primarily through images instead of words and you have this book.

(Sidenote: Baltimore is something of an indie comics hub, and most of them aren't very good - I feel like too many indie comics use post-modernism as a shortcut because whoever's writing them can't come up with good jokes or anything of import to say.)

I'm also a fan of the multiple drawing styles in John's book. which goes from really cartoony to impressive, if simple, realism. I feel like each entry in the book lets the story dictate how it was drawn, and I like that approach. Honestly, I wish more mainstream comics would take that approach.

Anyway, I'm rambling, but I really did enjoy Activities. There were times when it felt more like an exhaustively illustrated short story collection than an indie comic book, and I mean that as a compliment.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

how does one spell halloweiner

I finally got into Lorrie Moore's Birds of America, which I've had lying around for a while, and there's something very quaint about it. Lorrie probably won't like that, but there's no other word for someone in 2013 reading about what are essentially bored 1990s suburban adults whinging about their aging parents and career problems and affairs. All the women have difficult mothers, all the men are bumbling sitcom dads, and a not-insignificant amount of characters have jobs where they travel around teaching people things. I keep picturing every one of her characters as my parents.

What I'm getting at is this: there are a lot of obvious patterns and multi-story threads in Lorrie Moore's collection, and that's not bad, but I did catch myself thinking "what, this again?" when I encountered yet another awkward mother/daughter scenario. Of course, I'm sure people who read my collection had the same thoughts (something like "oh great ANOTHER isolated sad narrator"), but maybe in some way that familiarity works for short story collections. Maybe a collection of totally random stories with no connections between them is too jarring and thrown-together for readers to get into.

So, yeah. Thinking about things is good.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

engage in fast-paced tasks

I'm still here.

Haven't been writing as much as I'd like, due to some motivation issues and trouble keeping up at work. I've been reading about executive function disorder and dyspraxia, and the symptoms for both sound eerily similar to problems I've had over the course of my life.

Haven't done much reading lately either, which is bad because I have books to review, but again, motivation. I think more writers go through periods like this than most of us are comfortable admitting, despite the general attitude that writers should write in every spare moment they have and anyone who falters at the gallows, even for a second, isn't fit to be a True Writer.

Horseshit, says I.

That said, I need to get back on the horse and continue my work. Since I probably won't be getting much sleep tonight, maybe I can put some of that time to productive use.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

more like people from Charles Dickens novels

Original article here.

Being the most powerful city in the world AND where Joe Biden lives

Stop right there. Look, I know the Onion's version of Joe Biden is awesome, but the real one stopped having fun 30 years ago and is a fake-ass corporatist like every other high-profile Democrat.

It's easy to see why so many cities love hating on the District.

It sure is.

One of those fair cities is located just 45min North, and you all might know it as "where they filmed The Wire".

And Homicide: Life On the Street. And all of John Waters' films. Barry Levinson, too.

Yes, we are referring to the 24th largest city in the country, aka B'more, aka Monument City, aka Baltimore. And so -- because it is City Rivalry Week, and Joe Biden asked us to -- we're dropping 10 reasons why Federal City, aka Cap City, aka the District, is better than Ravenstown. To wit:

Food and Beverage Scene
DC's food scene this year alone has gotten a ton of national attention... and no, B'more, it's not because our Inner Harbor just got a Potbelly Sandwich Works, but more because of all our notable openings: minibar (Andres), Le Diplomate (Starr), Kapnos (Isabella), Range (Voltaggio), and Casa Luca (Trabocchi), just to name a few, along w/ over 20 other restaurants (this year alone). The District has also been part of a burgeoning beer scene with four breweries opening in the past two years: DC Brau, 3 Stars Brewing, Chocolate City, and Bluejacket (soon). Although, the Inner Harbor does also have a PF Chang's and a Chipotle.

Okay, so you're comparing the entirety of DC to one neighborhood in Baltimore that is a) a well-known tourist trap, and b) the only place DC residents go in Baltimore because they're scared of everything else. We've had a lot of good restaurants open in the last three years or so, and our brewing scene has picked up nicely. I'd put Alchemy and Birrotecca up against anything in DC.

An Actual Hockey Team Might Help
Wanna see a real bird? Check out the glorious blazing eagle on the front of our jersey. Although we're sure it was fun to watch the Baltimore Bandits AHL team from 1995-97, or the inline hockey powerhouse Maryland Knights in '07. Oh, and don't get us started on how awesome Ovechkin is on Twitter.

Who the fuck even cares about hockey.

Redskins Vs. Ravens
Okay, so look, you guys won a Super Bowl last year. Huzzah! We will give you, Ray Lewis, and Ray Lewis' help from God Almighty credit for that. But we've still got three to your two, and we're now armed with the greatest athlete in the world as quarterback, assuming our very weirdly sunburned coach doesn't try and do something reckless and stupid to him. Anywayyyy... Hail to the Redskins!

This paragraph is basically patting the Redskins on the back for being good 15 years ago. At least put over the Nationals - they had a good season last year.

Safety
So, with just about the same populations (620K or so), in 2012 Baltimore tallied up 217 homicides. DC had 92. That's not very good. And B'more, you can't blame all of those on Ray Lewis. Please don't tell him we said that.

Ray Lewis didn't kill anyone (he was an accessory who snitched, if I recall correctly) and the only reason DC is "safe" is because the city is pushing everyone who isn't a yuppie transplant into PG County.

Music
Not only is DC the birthplace of go-go and Duke Ellington, the District's also home to world-renowned venues like the 9:30 Club and the Kennedy Center. That being said, Baltimore is the birthplace of Billie Holiday, which might make up for the fact that you also gave us Avril Lavigne's lead guitarist. Yes, we are referring to you, Evan David Taubenfeld.

Weekends, Pure Junk, Thee Lexington Arrows, Future Islands, AK Slaughter, Mickey Free, Rare Candy, Ruiner, Deep Sleep, Clutch, Beach House, the Matrimonials, Bobby Lee and the Sympathizers, Aries, and I could go on for days. Go-go is trash and the 9:30 Club has been coasting on its withering cool guy reputation since I was in high school, so it's perfect for DC.

Public Transportation
As much as DC likes to complain about our metro, it is one of the most efficient, most convenient, and cleanest in the country. Baltimore's metro runs East to West only, and doesn't link up with either of the two other rail systems. Neither does its North-South-moving light rail. Even Trip Advisor says, "Your best bet is to rent a car."

I'll give DC props for its excellent metro system, and will chastise Baltimore for having a handful of public trans options that suck instead of one comprehensive one. That said, all DC residents do is bitch about their excellent metro system, so it's not even like you chucklefucks even appreciate it.

Monuments and Parks
The Mall, Washington Monument, Tidal Basin, Lincoln Memorial, Rock Creek Park, Martin Luther King, Theodore Roosevelt Island, the White House... We could do this for at least like four to six more minutes. Meanwhile, your claims to fame are an (admittedly sweet) ballpark and a smaller, sadder Washington Monument.

Our Washington Monument is actually a monument to Washington instead of a postmodern obelisk that everyone makes dick jokes about, so I think Baltimore wins that one. We're short on parks, admittedly, but we do have Druid Hill and Patterson Park, along with some pretty awesome historic cemeteries that double as parks for a surprising amount of people.

History
We're the city where Lincoln decided to put an end to slavery. You're the city that decided to try and put an end to Lincoln in a secret assassination plot during his inaugural train tour of the nation, only to be foiled at the last second by Allan Pinkerton, that Scottish detective guy. Seriously -- we just read a book about it.

This is a weird and highly-specific comparison to make, wouldn't you say? You do realize that Baltimore is quite a bit older than DC, don't you? Is one Lincoln anecdote really enough evidence that DC, a city built for the transient nature of representative government, has "better history" than Baltimore? How do you get your shoes on the correct feet in the morning?

Motto
Our motto is Justitia omnibus, or "Justice for all". Yours is "Get in on it". Only one of them sounds like the thing you say right after you've just revealed that you're planning to hold up a bank.

Who cares. If you love your motto so much, put it on your license plate fixtures instead of "taxation without representation."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

poem: if you squint it says dusty beards

under the bed, the marbles red
we're bowling for cryptic dreams

our brains are eggs our skulls are
bowls of sticks and grass and string

it is just hot enough here for discomfort
we have learned to fear the wind.
we cannot stop yawning

our brains are 
leaking air
venting steam
green with brown blotches

dusty boards across our cloth sky are 
lines in a hand clasped over 
the mouth of our world

we hear thunder as the cruelty 
of its laughter

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

good post dude keep em coming

Oh man I totally forgot that I had a Writing.com account until today, when someone commented on one of the three stories I posted there.

One of them is the only piece of fanfiction I've ever written, if a Sherlock Holmes story counts as fanfiction. I think I was 20 or somewhere around there when I wrote it, and I've learned a lot since then. Still, it's worth sharing, I think. If George R.R. Martin can trot his shitty early stories around, I certainly can.

The Letter "M"

Thursday, June 20, 2013

watching the round ball

Oh dear god this Marie Calloway discussion will never end. The latest piece about her new book, written for Flavorwire by a friend of hers, is muddled by idle swats at the patriarchy and a weird insistence that Calloway doesn't have to be a good writer because she's appealing to contemporary gender/identity politics and is thus addressing Important Issues.

Which, I mean, good for her, but oppression under the brutal shithammer of the patriarchy doesn't excuse flat prose and the boring repetition of a literary voice that does nothing but get fucked and feel bad about it over and over and over again. For all the explicitness of Calloway's work, none of it feels really honest and I'm surprised more readers--male and female alike--don't feel kind of cheap and exploited by the whole thing.

There are women who write about sex and its ephemera in interesting ways, though. Tracy Dimond, for example, references it quite a bit in her poetry collection, Sorry I Wrote So Many Sad Poems Today. Tracy isn't a flashy or loquacious writer, but her work is frank and honest, which is way more important. A lot of her poems do what the best Patsy Cline songs did: convey multiple feelings at once. There's sexual tension and desire, yes, but there's also loneliness and longing and wanting and, at intervals, an indifference born of strange confidence. She's talking to the reader, as opposed to at them.

Liz Bamford's short story collection, The Nature of Things, doesn't deal with sex directly, but sexual language is repurposed for metaphor and imagery quite a bit, and rather well. Bamford's work has spots of Lovecraft in it, but with a Neil Gaiman-ish dry British humor to offset the gloom, and her narrative structures expand and contract like an accordion; she wields wonderful control over how and when her stories unfold. Good stuff.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to writing things where no sex happens at all because I'm weird.

Friday, May 17, 2013

agents were beginning to operate on their own agenda

Finished the first draft of my western! Hooray! It feels good to have seen a project through without any third-party deadlines or MFA requirements. A few people are already reading it (at least, they'd better be) and I'll do some revising once their feedback comes in.

In the meantime, I'm returning to The Bong-Ripping Brides of Count Drugula, my 2012 NaNo project, to beef up the antagonist and pick up where I left off. My notes from work are slowly turning into something too, but I don't know what it is yet. That's okay, though. As long as my goal of not letting work sap all my creative energy is met, I'm content to let stories (and the occasional poem) take shape as they will.

I should also mention that this year's graduates from my MFA program are a talented bunch, and I have a lot of their books stacked on my windowsill. I'll review a couple of them in my next post here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

established events from various promotions

Whoa dang! A short story of mine, Ringo Starr Is A Beautiful Man, was recently published over at What Weekly, an online newspaper covering Baltimore's art scene, which is varied enough to be considered an ecosystem.

I wrote this story for EMP Collective's Cans 'N Drafts writing workshop, and the specific prompt was to write a story about a turkey that didn't involve Thanksgiving or any other occasion where it became dinner. I decided to have a rednecky Baltimore family adopt one as a pet.

I tried some new (for me) things with this story; a female protagonist, siblings, pets, and other narrative complications that I don't often include in my fiction because I either forget about them or can't control their presence in the story. I think I did okay here, and anyway it's important to step outside one's creative comfort zone every so often, right?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

talk about snorting ketamine with hookers

So! My MFA program invited me back to chat with this year's graduating class about life after the MFA, and how to keep writing when you don't have workshop deadlines and a built-in support network. I tried to stress that people need to get involved in the arts and go to readings and see plays and surround themselves with people whose work excites them; that way, there's always a little bit of motivational pressure to write more and better to keep up.

I don't know how much the students got out of it, although they were polite and attentive, but my professors sure appreciated it. One of them sent me this:


Dave,
On behalf of the Seminar faculty, I want to thank you for a perfect panel presentation, and I mean perfecto maximo. You are always charming and funny, but you are also so genuine, you basically communicate that in every word you speak. To be your authentic self, to be true to yourself, to make art, and to not get caught up in the nonsense. I wish we had recorded it. (I wish we could all live by it!)

And the other one sent me this:

Dave,
Thank you for your enlightening and, of course, entertaining, panel presentation to our class last Wednesday night.  It was everything we could have hoped for--and more.  I'm sure the students share my appreciation for your willingness to talk to them in such a frank, friendly, and encouraging way.  It was a pleasure to have a chance to see and hear how you've continued to develop as a writer (and performer!)

Gotta say, it felt good to even be asked to come share my experiences post-MFA, so of course I'm thrilled to hear that what I said was valuable. I wish my own writing projects would progress a little faster, but that frustration is part of the creative process too.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

fight for silly things like this

So I got a new job, which partially explains the tumbleweeds blowing across the dusty, uninhabited prairie that is this blog. I'm working at Whole Foods, which is exhausting but exhilarating work alongside some really cool people. I'm still the new guy, so my primary function so far is learning everything I can and trying not to get underfoot or fuck up too much.

Luckily, I still have enough energy after work to do stuff. I was recently a guest (for the second time, even) on EMP Collective's semi-regular live talk show It's Finally Happening, which also featured The Neo-Fascist Nursery Troupe Players, a trio of hilarious faux-fascists who turned common children's songs (B-I-N-G-O and similar) into odes to Idi Amin, Hitler, Kim Jong-Il, Castro, and others. One of them had a guitar with "This machine kills Woody Guthrie" written on it, which made me laugh almost immediately.

I'm feeling particularly inspired to stay on my art grind because of this Raptitude article about how 9-5 office jobs drain our souls and leave us incapable of doing anything but spending too much money. "Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy," the article opines. "It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work."

That last line is the kicker. I don't want that to happen to me. My job is basically a way to support my writing habit, and I don't want to lose that. I have a lot to work on, so what I need to do is make sure I put aside the time and energy to do it.

That goes for the rest of you, as well.

Monday, April 1, 2013

a bit too well done to be done

Oh shucks I totally forgot to mention that I got published in LOOP's February skiing issue. Man, do I hate skiing.

Also, most contemporary fiction is bad, according to J. Robert Lennon. I love ragging on literary fiction and the culture surrounding it as much as the next person, but articles like these are pretty useless for everything except driving up pageviews with artificial controversy. The author should have held tighter to the idea of writers reading widely and learning from everything they can, because cries of "everything you like is bad" always ring hollow, even if they come from Salon. That goes double for cries of "why bother doing anything when most things are so bad," which is a shitty thing to tell creative writing students.

Something that isn't shitty or bad is Fuck It, aka the latest album by Lancaster math-punk duo 1994!. I've been using this as writing music lately, and I just love it. This band combines furious drumming, noodly guitar, and crazy tempo/time changes with a very earnest, organic sound that isn't as abrupt or mechanical as other math-rock stuff normally is. Fuck It, which was recorded on the road with an iPhone, is a lo-fi rager that's meant to be heard all at once in a single listen, but "Apologetically American" and "Non Multa, Sed Multum" more than hold up on their own. Taken as a whole, the album is an impressive chunk of DIY goodness that you can get for free at their Bandcamp site, linked above.

Back to writing. And moving. My back hurts.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

wrong moves will be made

Whoa dang, it has been a minute since I posted here. I've been moving into a new place for most of this month, so I've been a little tied up with that (and writing, of course), which has kept me from doing the needful and updating this thing. Which sucks, because I do actually have stuff to talk about.

For one thing, Seltzer published my short story "Oh, The Meadows," about a guy who gets fired and decides to become a human cannonball.

For another thing, I got myself a copy of Tracy Dimond's Sorry I Wrote So Many Sad Poems Today, which I will review here once I give some thought to what I want to say about it (spoiler alert: it's good).

I didn't go to AWP because of moving and so on, which sucks but it's for the best.

The soundtrack to Hotline Miami might just be the best thing of all time.

I keep getting ideas for novels, but none for short stories. This is kind of a problem but not really.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

masks that disguise their voices


Just finished my buddy Pat King's book Exit Nothing recently, and it was one of the best books I've read in quite a while. Pat used to host a reading series here in Baltimore, first alongside Nik Korpon and then alongside A. Jarrell Hayes, and he's as friendly and affable a guy as you're likely to meet. Despite being from Alabama, he's got that scruffy, underdressed Baltimore charm in spades.

That said, Exit Nothing took me by surprise. As well as I know Pat, I'm not all that familiar with his work, and his book is just fantastic. The protagonist drifts between cities, relationships, and jobs, unable to maintain anything in his life for very long, and his time spent among alcoholic poets and urban circus performers in Philly serves as the book's nucleus, as well as the point where one part of his life ends and another begins. It not only helps the narrator figure out what his own preferred comforts are, but it serves as a litmus test to determine which of his romantic partners is the right fit for him.

Pat's narrative voice is clear and honest, and artful in the right places, and thus his narrator is engaging even when he's being an impulsive idiot. He's not unlike a semi-functional addict, fully aware of his own weaknesses and yet unable to keep them in check. The other characters in this book - the Mad Poet, the narrator's wives and girlfriends - are refreshingly active parts of the story, and the way they fluctuate between enabling, tolerating, and finally losing patience with the narrator provides tension that novels like this (defined by me as "Lost Generation quarter-life crisis novels") often lack.

In the wrong hands, this story would have been a dry, unsatisfying alt-lit wankjob, but Pat dug into his own heart and got a damn good book out of it. You can get a copy here, which I recommend doing before the industry falls apart and books go away forever and humanity enters a new Dark Age from which the only escape will be death.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

terrible for the average person

Jesus hell, where have I been? Well, let's see...

I've been helping the Baltimore Rock Opera Society move into/refurbish their new HQ in midtown Baltimore. Lots of knocking things down and building new things and tools and sweat and dust.

I was a guest on An Innocent Looking Bookstore, a podcast hosted by friends of mine, and had a marvelous time discussing good slang, bad porn, and encountering Whoopi Goldberg in the desert. (Warning, this thing is NSFW)

I'm also currently in a play, a dystopian Valentine's Day show called +1, or the Bearable Delightedness of Being Controlled. Citypaper liked it. It's been really fun, and I couldn't have picked better people to break back into acting with (I haven't been in a play in almost 7 years).

Oh and I'm still working on three writing projects, with another one germinating and what I think are some practical solutions for fixing that mess of a clown college novel I wrote back in '09.

That's where I've been.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

the day tanks from here


It's hard to explain Heinrich Boll's The Clown to someone and expect them to like it. For one thing, it's about a clown, and a lot of people claim to be afraid of clowns. A few actually are, but I think coulrophobia is a quirky affectation for a lot of people. Whatever, screw them. They aren't important.

The Clown's plot is also daunting, because it's essentially about this clown (Hans Schnier) who's moping over a bad review of his latest performance, and who just got dumped by his very Catholic common-law wife for some also-Catholic bourgie dork, and who hates his rich ex-Nazi Protestant parents and all their hypocrite friends, and so the whole novel is him drunk-dialing people from his apartment in Bonn and wailing about how unfair society is.

Sounds like a pretentious bore, right? Well, it isn't. It's honestly really good. The prose is very smooth, for one thing, and the pace is such that nothing is dense or tedious on the page. And for all his moping and angst, Hans is a lively and funny narrator; his observations about post-war Germany's delicate moral position, organized religion (a frequent target of his), and the extent to which social mores interfere with unity are equally hilarious and depressing.

More than that, this book deals with intimacy well. What could have easily been a series of aggravating rants and shallow, fuck-you-Dad churlishness instead becomes the portrait of a man who is losing his grip on the things that tethered him to society; his work, his love, and his sense of place. Feeling like an outsider sucks, but actually knowing you're an outsider is much worse. Hans shows great tenderness (and bitterness) in his remembrances of Marie (his ex) and the bohemian artsy lifestyle they shared, which counters his barbs against his family and their social circle rather nicely.

I guess the central irony of the book is that Hans lashes out at the comfortable because he has been shaken from all of his comforts, basic though they were. God, there really is no way to explain this without making it sound terrible. Just read it, it's good, I promise.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

a more feudalistic re-imagining


Modern literature is full of white Americans trying to find themselves, but holy crap does this essay by Laura Goode win the blue ribbon for what I can only describe as military-grade solipsism. Did The Rumpus switch places with Thought Catalog or something? Jesus Christ on toast.

No offense to Laura, who is probably a nice person with some good writing out there somewhere, but statements like "what I mean to say is I am writing an elegy for my twenties" only communicate the idea that no one should take the author seriously. I mean, people are dying out there. No one gives a fuck about the author's twenties and how they fell in and out of love with everything, and this essay doesn't give any compelling reasons to start giving a fuck.

Even if statements like "memory is text’s enzyme: memory catalyzes and is then consumed" are actually supposed to mean something, they're not given any room to develop. They're presented as deep thoughts, but what surrounds them is too shallow; for every gem like that line, the author spends four paragraphs explaining to the reader why she kept journals, and three paragraphs reliving the profundity with which she barfed into a Nalgene bottle while hungover on a train. Her navel might very well be the Abyss, for all the time she spends staring into it.

Reading this was like reading those economic horror stories in the New York Times, where a couple with two kids and a combined six figures' worth of income is freaking out because they can't go to Europe this year and pay the maid - the times are just too hard. What's infuriating is not only the subject matter but the tone, the coarse and determined obliviousness of people who, for all their self-discovery, don't know how fortunate they really are and show no genuine interest in finding out.

I really, really hope that this essay was a straight-faced parody of literary self-absorption, because otherwise it's the exact kind of jerking-off-in-print that scares people away from literary writing, and fuels the stereotype that the literary community is a cabal of bourgie white people with beards and/or skinny jeans tucked into their boots who obsess over "process" and "the experience of [x]" and have no social ambitions beyond personal comfort and the elimination of anything that threatens it.

That's the real kicker here, I think. How is the reader supposed to interact with this text? There's practically no authorial acknowledgement of the reader here at all. We're either a passive body being flatly told about these nostalgic revelations as though we've never heard or seen anything like them before, or we're being ignored while the author tells herself about activating her body, whatever that means, or how "memory itself is a bricolage," or catalogs what she usually writes about. She's not calling out to any shared or similar experiences with the reader, which would have been the only justification for saying in 2600+ words what could have been said in maybe 500.

In conclusion, this.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

wholesome romances with an inspirational worldview


THE NEXT BIG THING:

What is the Next Big Thing? A series of questions for writers. The rules? You post answers to the questions below on a Wednesday. I was tagged for this by Lavinia Ludlow, one of my favorite writers and people. And so it begins...

Question: What is the [working] title of your book/work in progress?
Answer: I'm working on three books presently, but I'll use this time to talk about my western, titled MY NAME IS HATE.

Q: What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A: A pregnant woman, followed by a mysterious and violent black dog, tracks down her runaway husband.

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A: My love of westerns, first off. Second, I just finished books by Ken Sparling and Michael Kimball, and I really like how they write in these sparse, bleak vignettes. They're both really good at using that minimalist style to build narrative tension, and I wanted to see what I could build with those same tools.

Q: What else might pique the reader’s interest in your book?
A: It's a steampunk Western full of depression and violence.

Q: Where did the idea for the book/work come from?
A: I've wanted to write a Western for a while now, and my last book made me realize that my work doesn't do enough with female characters. This project seemed like a good way of accomplishing both goals

Q: What genre does the book fall under?
A: Speculative fiction, I guess.

Q: Which actors would you choose to play the characters from your book?
A: Not sure. I hate it when fiction adopts Hollywood aesthetics, so I'm tempted to skip this question altogether. Actually, I think I will.

Q: How long did it take you to write the first-draft of your manuscript?
A: Still working on it. It might be another month, plus I'll need time to put all the images together. This book will be very design-dependent, with lots of graphics and such. I really like fussing with how words and pictures interact.

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agent?
A: Probably self-published.

Monday, January 7, 2013

not exactly the paragon of calm

Whoa dang, it's been an entire month since I last updated here. That's the busy holiday season, I s'pose. Here are some highlights.

- Read at Expresso Ink's broadside release party (where I was the headliner) and had a nice chat with Michael Kimball about his competitive streak.

- Got on the Twitter.

- Read at an event in North Carolina that was organized by a fan, which was cool despite the small turnout. Honestly, I was flattered that anyone would be sufficiently moved by my book to put together a reading for me, and the small crowd was an attentive one. Chalk it up as a victory.

- Started yet another project, this time a chapbook that is becoming a surreal sort of Western about a pregnant woman hunting down her husband. I'm trying to include more female characters in my work, so we'll see how this turns out.

- The two novels are toddling along slowly, but that's better than not having anything to work on and being completely dry of ideas.

- Some of my friends are getting book deals and whatnot, which is fantastic. They deserve nothing less than fame and critical adoration and throngs of screaming fans on their doorsteps at all times.

- Attended MAGfest XI and made mischief with the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, specifically by telling people that my costume was from a text-based adventure game that doesn't exist (Revenge On Butt Mountain). I'm discovering that the composition of classic video game music was more sophisticated than I thought.

- I still need to write my 2012 book list, but that can wait another day or two.