Writing More

Awesome steampunk pens (click for link)

My pen is bigger than your pen! Okay, that’s what the rhetoric seems like lately. Twitter was aghast when Brian Keene announced that he wrote 80,000 words in one weekend. Lots of writers looked down at their puny word count and died of embarrassment. Many others hotly expressed a certainty that quality mattered much more than quantity.

Not to worry.

However much you write, you probably wouldn’t mind writing more. However well you write, wouldn’t you like to write more? I will expand upon my very general advice (shut up and write) to point you toward Rachel Aaron’s entirely sensible and insightful post for SFWA about how she went from writing 2K a day to writing 10K. Unlike Keene’s all out effort to clear the decks of all distractions for one weekend in order to make a (presumably neglected) deadline, Aaron offers reasonable and easily implemented practices that any writer can employ. Most writers have other jobs, too — there’s a fair few who have the moxie to support themselves as full-time writers. But you can work toward that goal faster.

Aaron boils things down to this pyramid:

Side 1: Knowledge, or Know What You’re Writing Before You Write It

“Here I was, desperate for time, floundering in a scene, and yet I was doing the hardest work of writing (figuring out exactly what needs to happen to move the scene forward in the most dramatic and exciting way) in the most time consuming way possible (ie, in the middle of the writing itself)…”

Side 2: Time

“Every day I had a writing session I would note the time I started, the time I stopped, how many words I wrote, and where I was writing on a spreadsheet. I did this for two months, and then I looked for patterns….”

Side 3: Enthusiasm

“If I had scenes that were boring enough that I didn’t want to write them, then there was no way in hell anyone would want to read them. This was my novel, after all. If I didn’t love it, no one would…”

Like most really good advice, it’s all sensible and ‘obvious’ once you step back and be truthful with yourself. But you have to do that. None of this matters if you aren’t actually writing, so write! Read the essay; even if you only go from 500 words a day to 1000 (or 50 to 100) you will benefit from it. Thank you, Aaron.

Review: The Goon vol. 1: Nothin’ But Misery

L. Vera

Let me introduce you to best comic since . . . well since . . . Johnny The Homicidal Maniac. Eric Powell is a madman working in the zombie resurrecting lands of crazy town and this is his baby. Say, “Hi,” to The Goon. He’s a face bashing, mob enforcer with his trusty friend Franky, who loves to stab people in the eye.

When I talk comics with anyone, I recommend this collection to everyone. It’s a classic Goon Story. Goon chases zombie thugs, beats them to death and Franky stabs someone in the eye. You got talking spiders, monsters, grave diggers, canibal hobos and a whole lot more.

The volume collects the first self-published issues THE GOON, THE GOON COLOR SPECIAL, and THE GOON short story that’s included in DARK HORSE PRESENTS. And it’s a great way to get introduced to a comic series that doesn’t care about selling comics but about delivering the best, craziness in comic book form. These aren’t the first Goon issues. If you want those you need to shell out some big bucks or buy vol. 0.

The story line is summed up in the first comic in the volume. Where a young Goon works for a mob boss/ loan shark named Labrazio and after some terrible events ends up murdering him and finding his little black book of people who owe him money. The Goon assumes the role of his “enforcer”, even though he’s dead, and becomes the feared, hulking bastard of a man in the small zombie infested town collecting money from anyone who borrowed from Labrazio.

We also meet Buzzard, a former sheriff who is now cursed to eating the flesh of the dead. The character’s are full of this obscene mind blast that has you liking if the weirdest of the bunch. I’ve alwasy like the spider in the bowler hat named Spider, who The Goon hates and constantly beats up, and Merle who’s a gun-runner and a werewolf. But overall I like Goon and Franky, the slack-jaw punching duo.

The art is great, the writing is beyond witty. It’s all done by one man, Eric Powell.

You can read the whole first comic here.

Grab it on Amazon

or TFAW (My favorite place to get comics, cheap and fast. Use SHAZAM for fre shipping over $50)

Things Writers Shouldn’t Google

by L. Vera

We get a lot of readers here at AKAQ that google weird and crazy things, like “How To Kill Some One With A Knife” or “How To Kill Someone Quickly”. I wrote one article called “How To Kill Someone”, which was about writing, and now we get all kinds of crazies visiting the blog. (Which is kinda cool.) So when you finally find that website that helped you kill someone and the police look at your computer and see your history, don’t look at me. I warned you.

1) Arsenic: Really any type of posion should be off limits. Even weird plants. I think I once searched for bull nettle after scraping against the plant and found all types of crazy things, I hope that wont bite me in the ass. I guess if someone dies mysteriously from poisoning and you don’t see post here anymore, I might be in lockup.

2) How To Kill: How To Kill anything, anybody in any fashion should not be food in the google machine. Maybe add the word “Write” to help find the articles that could help a writer. Even though I’ve never seen a google search that brought someone here. : (

3) How To Make a Bomb: And any other terrrorist type thing you think of especially the Anarchist cookbook. Even though seeing fertilizer bombs going off on youtube lseems cool it’s actually . . . Okay, it is pretty cool, but be smart and search instead for “how to fertilize lawn with bug bombs” or something sneaky like that.

4) Anything over the top sexual: I don’t need to elaborate. But try explain to your parents when the police find those – insert crazy fetish – pictures after your friend did something crazy illegal and the police confiscated your CPU. Not worth it buddy.

Look, many cookies and certificates can be found on your computer that can help convict you of all types of things. So make sure you use Google Chrome and turn on Incognito browsing. Come on. Just read this if you need more reasons, even though he was crazy and it’s actually good for us he did google those things.

Cyberpunk, A Lost Genre?

As a child I found myself reading a lot of science fiction. Even as as a kid in elementary school, I’d check out books by Isaac Asimov. Stuff like Venus or The Moon. I didn’t don’t recall a damn thing from those books, but as a kid I was fascinated by planets. Then I found myself nose deep in a book about Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle. Yet, it wasn’t until my school had a program, where you could earn points reading books and taking a quiz on a computer to earn “Mcdonald Bucks”. I’m not sure if that’s what they were called, but I was earning money  to read. So I read lost of stuff. I even took quizes for other people and shared half the points. It was a good business for a kid that liked to read.

I stumbled upon Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology. How or why? I have no idea, but just those final words, “Cyberpunk” echoed in mind. At the time I was also heavy into Hackers, Terminator and the video game Shadowrun and this was the genre that I thought it was made just for me.

So what is cyberpunk? It’s a sub genre mixed in among hundreds of others, like steampunk or dystopian literature but this one is special, at least to me. Cyberpunk is a world where computer and technology has advanced to the point that it’s in everything. You could have implants that let you “jack” into the internet or an eye that zooms and can see the tiniest sand on the farthest beach from a tower miles away.

From Wikipedia:

“Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on “high tech and low life.” The name was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story “Cyberpunk,” published in 1983.It features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.”

So I became a huge Bruce Sterling fan. I”ve read Globalhead, A Good Old-fashioned Future and Crystal Express. I’ve also been in the middle of Schismatrix for over ten years now. Maybe one day I’ll finish it but then what? Where did all the cyberpunk go?

I thought maybe it’s because we are living in that world. The internet has vastly improved, we can reach information at those super sonic speeds, we have devices installed on everything from refrigerators to our cars. Sure they’re not floating yet, but look at those silly Segways, or even motor bikes/cycles. Is that why we don’t see any mainstream cyberpunk anymore?

What about those other “sub-genres”? Steampunk? Do they have a place in today’s mainstream?

They do. So write them, because there are people out there just waiting for that book. Even if it’s in a genre that’s no longer “popular”. Screw vampires. I’m tired of them too. Someone write me some cyberpunk.

I do plan on reading the classics soon and looking for some good self-published stuff. Oh, and Bruce Sterling still knocks some stuff out every couple of years, but I want some home-runs. Any suggestions?

-L. Vera

How to Write More

People ask me all the time, “How can you write so much?” I don’t really feel as if I write all that much, but I suppose that at this point my long bibliography suggests that I have. Let’s ignore the fact that it took years to build up that list of publications and look at the most recent and I find that yes, I am writing faster and more than I used to do. You can too.

[I feel like I should be talking like Ron Popeil here.]

My basic writing advice has always been what I tell myself: shut up and write. Amazingly good advice that has served me well. If you’re whinging about writing or tweeting or facebooking, you’re not doing the work of writing. Only writing is writing.

What’s that you say? “You seem to be on social media 24/7, Kate. What’s up with that?”

Yes, it seems that way sometimes, but the truth is I spend less time on social media than the average person spends watching television. I don’t really watch television. The key is timing — and choices. And the other groovy thing? I try out writing ideas on social media and cannibalise what I’ve used.

[Except for the super long fainting goats discussion: haven’t found a way to use that yet, but I will.]

So what’s the real key? Write and don’t stop.

Do you realise how much time people lose faffing about second-guessing their writing efforts? Doubting, revising, deleting, rethinking. Don’t. Write it, finish it, let it set for a while. Then go back and give it a critical eye. Look at what works and doesn’t. Set aside your ego if you think everything you write is gold — set aside your self doubt if you think everything you write is dreck: you’re both wrong. It’s just a story you’re making up. It’s not a matter of life and death; if you’re writing, that’s a good thing because creation is a great joy. There’s another pay off.

The more you write, the better you get.

Agonising over every word is not what makes you a better writer. It’s practice, practice, practice. The more you give free rein to the creative part of the brain, the better and faster and more consistently it will run. Be playful, be fearless — write crap! We’ve all got loads of it in us. But write, then revise, and then send it off. Because someone out there is waiting for your words. You just have to find them. But in the mean time, love writing. It’s a great way to live.

The Crime Factory Looking For Submissions

Publication: The Crime Factory

Theme: “Crime.”

Accepts:

  • Short Fiction: less than 5,000 words
  • Long Fiction: 8,000-11000
  • Non-fiction: less than 8,000
  • Reviews: 400 and less

Notes: I stumbled upon this website looking for crime blogs. A couple of writers I know post there and thought it would be neat to see what kind of stuff they accept. So they take anything crime related, reviews, interviews, along with fiction and non-fiction pieces. Of course, if you want to write horror/crime/thriller/speculative fiction, check out our submissions, here at AKAQ.

-L. Vera

Les Edgerton Spells it Out

Les Edgerton has a lot to say about writing and you might want to listen because he knows his stuff. I disagree about old writing going out of style like Model Ts (after all, I owe a lot of my writing career to finally reading Beowulf) but he’s damn sure right about writing every day and listening to Flannery O’Connor. There’s not one way to write; however, if you want to get published, hacklings, the only way is to write a lot.

Ray Bradbury Dies: Gone to the October Country


Gone To The October Country by K. A. Laity

Farewell to Ray Bradbury, author of Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man, The October Country, Zen in the Art of Writing and so much more.

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.

Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spent the rest of the day putting the pieces together.

I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true — hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.

If you don’t like what you’re doing, then don’t do it.

His stories will live forever.

Ray Bradbury Dies by L. Vera
At the age of 91, we lose a great writer. Many of you know him as the writer of Fahrenheit 451 or Something Wicked This Way Comes, some of you as an incredible science fiction author, an inspiration and mentor. Many were influenced by his work; like myself, who had written a story inspired by I Sing The Body Electric.

He was suffering from an  undescribed illness and after suffering a stroke in 1999 was wheelchair bound. Yet he continued to write.

If you have time, you need to read Ray Bradbury’s essay in “Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life“. He briefly talks about rejections, and being a strong writer. Not in the sense that your writing is strong, but mentally can preserve rejection.

His work will live on.

Sources:

Ray Bradbury on Facing Rejection … and Being Inspired by Snoopy

Ray Bradbury, beloved science fiction author, dies

Wikipedia: Ray Bradbury

-L. Vera

How To Kill Someone

Killing people is easy, at least for writers. (Now all you weirdoes who came here to see how to really kill people can leave.) Now, the hardest thing to do is to sell the idea. I’ve never killed a person. I don’t really know all the feelings involved. I’m sure most writers don’t so we have to sell the idea that we have, or at least sell the idea that are character can kill someone.

I like to view seeing a story in my head as staring through windows. I open one and sit with my elbows on the sill, a laptop and sometimes a glass of water and stare at the contents. Many times I feel like I have no involvement in it – I’m just a scribe. The story exist as it does and it’s my job to get an accurate description of what happens. Stephen King also describes this in a similar manner in On Writing but as fossils. I like windows.

So there I am, with my laptop – sometimes with my iPad or iPhone – peering out a window watching someone die. That’s a pretty normal day for me. I’ve never killed anyone; but I think of other people doing it all the time, hence all the windows. So this window is one that floats above a grassy, sunny space away from any form of life besides these two people. One is on his knees and the other is holding him down, from the throat. Have I ever seen this event? Not in real life, just in movies, images in my mind and the internet. So let’s continue this as a story, or a window.

The sky is bright, probably too bright for such a scene; but it’s too late now, Jerry had already begun what he thought he would never do. I shuffle and write that in my laptop. Click. Clickty. Click. I know the other man’s name, Leroy. Why? I don’t know, that’s just his name and it will always be his name, even though I’m watching him die. His eyes, bulge, his face reddens first, and then it fades. It fades like a man slowly turning into a ghost, white and it’s sickening. Something in my stomach churns; but I watch and I type. I like watching.

Jerry’s face. It’s different, it’s not full of anger, it’s full of satisfaction. There’s no smile, just that look, a stoic pleasurable form of satisfaction. And Leroy dies, his face blue, his eyes like swollen white berries. Leroy dies. Click. Clickty. Klack. Klack. Klack. 

So how do you kill someone? With what you see. Ignore everything else. Did those things really happen the way I describe? Who knows? That’s the way I see it and that’s all that really matters. After all, are they buying the truth, or a story. Are they reading because what happens in the book is “possible”. No. If you want possible things watch the news. I’m here to show what I see in the windows.

I’ve read reviews where people say, “I don’t believe that’s possible,” or “Come one why would it happen on a sunny, happy grassy knoll.” The truth is I don’t know, it just did and I’m portraying that as best I can (I’m no professional, just another self-pub writer but a happy self-pub writer). Have I ever seen a person’s face turn all those crazy things. Nah. For all I know it doesn’t even happen that way.

Research is important, just for the fact that there’s a lot of douches and trolls ready to pick something apart if you don’t research. They expect our omniscient to be almost godlike. We writers know that isn’t possible, but we try. Try. For gods sake, try. Then with that research, you’ll feel confident. That’s what sells death – confidence. If you truly believe what you see is really happening, people will to.

As a writer, I like to think I’m lenient on a lot of things, I even over look spelling and send the author corrections. Yeah, I’m hardcore. But please do some homework, don’t change names and leave me confused. And not re-reading your story isn’t killing anyone but your readers. When I’m staring out my window watching poeple die, I tend to write too fast and misspell, miswrite, or just plain miss something important. So edit. Edit, edit, edit and then get someone else to edit. Please. Then kill some more people.

-L. Vera

Check out Part 2: How To Kill People The Right Way

Duotrope: If You Don’t Know What It Is, Read This Now!

It’s free and it’s the best way to submit to any publications. Want money? Want just to be publish? This is the site for you. I’ve been using it for a least a year now and it helped me get several short stories up online. You can search for any genre and fiction type. From novels to flash fiction, to horror to speculative fiction. It’s huge, with over 4,175 publication in their data base and it’s all free. Freeeeeeeee. 

They collect donations to keep running, so if they help you donate to keep them running. There’s no other site like it.

Note: They also are very reputable and if a site doesn’t pay you, you can report them and get their list removed.

-L. Vera