Works In Progress

Monday, October 31, 2005

Online, Soon To Be In-Print

Someone's been drinking something funny over at The Wittenburg Door. Not only did they decide to print my article, God's Creation Blog, but they've made it available online as well.

This is my first fiction piece published anywhere outside of my blogs, so be sure to order multiple single copies of the TWD#202 and write nasty, nasty letters to the editor.

Here's what else's in issue 202; and if you haven't signed up for the bi-weekly Door Insider newsletter, do it now!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Article Submission

This afternoon I sent a list in to McSweeney's Internet Tendency under the heading of "If Roget's Thesaurus had an entry for 'Snacktacular.'"

Should my item be accepted it'll be among some of the funniest humor bits around, like:
I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

October's Celebration of Christian Fiction Is Online

Dee Stewart is hosting this month's Celebration of Christian Fiction on her Christian Fiction blog.

In addition to my piece, there are twenty-seven other entries in the Celebation this month. Pace yourself. You've got roughly thirty days 'til the next round, so don't wear yourself out at the starting line. Bookmark the page and read an entry or two every day or so. Still, do calisthenics first; it'll save you from trying to put Ben-Gay on your brain later on.

My entry is "The Legacy of 'Loco' Komoko", the short story I wrote last month. It's been mentioned here before, but if (for some reason, like hurricane evacuation or you had to clean the house because your in-laws were coming) you missed it the first time, now's your chance to enjoy it. If you've read it before, feel free to read it again. Live it up.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Handy Fact Sheet

The fine folks at the Funeral Ethics Organization would like to see "ethical dealings in all death-related transactions by [their] working for better understanding of ethical issues among funeral, cemetery, memorial industry practitioners, law enforcement, organ procurement organizations, and state agencies, as well as better understanding between these and the general public."

I can get behind that. I mean, who'd want to get out and fight for unethical dealings? I'm not going to get their mission statement printed on a t-shirt, but y'know "Rock on, guys!"

The only reason I bring them up is they have a nice fact sheet listing Conflicts of Interest in U.S. Coroner Systems. Basically, it lists the requirements in the U.S. (and Canada ... let the annexation begin!) for coroners and/or medical examiners.

I've made my local mortician a deputy medical examiner. I think that's okay by Oregon's rules. If I discover in further research that a ME isn't required at the scene of a simple traffic fatality, Ron Campbell'll lose the magnetic placard on the side of his hearse. No need to complicate things and get nasty letters from FEO after they've been such a big help this evening.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Karma Junkie

I was in town today after Phil's soccer game (see post here for more info) and before heading home I checked with Dina to see if I could bring anything back. I know the odds of her saying iPod or Playstation-2 are low but, still, I ask. Usually the answer's "whatever" and I have to threaten stopping at Whitefish Chalet (or Squid Hut or something equally unappealling to a seafood non-fan) before getting a straight answer. This time, though, she said Orange Chicken from Panda Express right off the bat.

Now the only Panda Express in town at Valley River Mall, and there's no "safe" way to get there. Entrance A takes you by the coin-op rides which overstimulate Phil. Entrance B takes you by the Victoria's Secret which overstimulates me. Entrance C doesn't take you by anything but it's too far to walk. That leaves Entrance D, which only goes by a Waldenbooks that hasn't had a good selection of discount books in forever, so it seems safe enough.


Outside the store was a cardtable with a stack of books for an author signing. I can think of fewer things sadder than an author signing at the mall. If I ever have to (get to!) do one I'm going to look into incorporating a dunk-tank theme that might actually draw attention and generate some side cash even if I don't sell any books.

In this case, though, the author did a good job of generating attention without a dunk tank. She was a Victoria's Secret model. Just kidding; actually she was dressed about as far from a VS model as you can get and not be Amish. The author was Shirley Tallman and she was dressed in an authentic Victorian-Era gown complete with bustle to promote her new Victorian-Era novel, The Russian Hill Murders. When we lived in San Jose, Dina volunteered at the Historical Society Museum (which has now been renamed History Park); I know second-hand how uncomfortable dressing up like that can be.

So I stopped to chat. It's what I'd like others to do unto me, so I figure I better start doing it to them first. Turns out I'd seen the book before at Borders and actually considered getting it. Now I had an opportunity to get the first book in the series Murder on Nob Hill, which is out-of-stock at retail outlets, and have it autographed as well. So I got it. Did I mention it was 20% off? Yeah, I got it.

And the Orange Chicken, too. 'Cause, you know, that's why I went there in the first place.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Return of the Groove

Writing the conversion story threw my WIP for a loop. While I never quite had the crisis of confidence Ian Merchant had in Ezekiel's Shadow (and if you haven't read it, do), I had a hard time not only throwing rocks at my characters, but treeing them in the first place (oh, I like you, how can I let any harm come to you? and you? I like you too...). A couple weeks of evening horror and suspense movies has got me revising and writing again (Memento is a great film to get re-warped with).

Tonight I just rewrote the first death scene. And threw in some Steely Dan, too.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Too Big To Kill

or The 74,000 Word Monster That Ate My November

1816: A lone scientist works late into the night, creating life from inanimate tissue. Horrified by the result, he tries to destroy it. Too big to be killed, the monster escapes, leaving a trail of misery in its wake.

2004: A lone writer works late into the night, creating life on the stark landscape of the empty page. The result is horrifying. Too big to toss aside, the writer grapples with its ungainly adverbs and cadaverous verisimilitude, trying to cut ugliness down to the bone.

Last November I – and 42,000 other aspiring novelists – participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Many would call writing 50,000 words in thirty days madness. I embraced my inner lunatic and managed 74,000.

How can you do it? Learn from Victor Frankenstein:

The Creative Spark: I had kicked my idea around for years, but The Deadline ignited my creativity. There’s nothing like pressure to focus your determination. (For more on the power of the deadline, visit

The Lab: I took time to personalize my writing space for the project. I thumbtacked potential cover art to a wall, along with a skeleton outline and support materials, making my little nook a special retreat.

The Assistant: Although Frankenstein worked alone in Shelley’s novel, there’s no reason you have to. Participate in’s messageboards. Support groups have been formed in many communities – join one.

The Monster: The 50,000 word beast is terrifying. Broken into thirty 1,667-word pieces, however, it becomes manageable. There will be days where you crank up the juice (my high was 4,482 words); there will be days when your feet drag (321 word low). Keep at it. You may be making something too big to kill, but you’re still the boss.

If you’re a new writer, here are some incentives to tempt you:
  • Habits form in twenty-one days. Stick with it for the first three weeks – you’ll have your writing habit formed – then skip a couple days for turkey and the post-Thanksgiving mob scene at the mall.

  • In On Writing, Stephen King says he shoots for 2,000 words per day. At 1,667 wpd, you’re knocking on his door.

  • If you’re outside the U.S., take heart. Like Frankenstein’s quest to recapture his monster, NaNoWriMo is international in scope.
If you’ve always wanted to write a novel but felt unsure of yourself, don’t despair. Remember the message of countless horror movies: “When you think you’re alone, you’re not.” Based on past trends, over 50,000 people will participate in NaNoWriMo in 2005; about 7,500 will finish. Aim on being among them.

Even if you fall short or your manuscript doesn’t hold together, you’ll still be in better shape than when you began. Within your manuscript you may find dozens of parts that can propagate short stories of their own or be grafted into other bodies of work. Dig in. NaNoWriMo may be just what you need to transform your lifeless ideas into living, breathing works of art.