Dog Ear
Dated (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 August 2018 00:00

ne of the problems of writing things fifteen minutes into the future is the fact that, like toy boats on a river, the future slides by us and becomes the past.

Remember the old idea that phone lines could be cut, that you’d be out of contact, off the grid, and how quaint that is? Now, it feels like more and more a stretch to show those plot-necessary no-bars. Now adays in modern stories, it’s not happening so much, the idea that the hero’s friends are walking into a trap, and the hero must rush after them to intercept them (or, likely, to save them).

India used to be at the other end of the world, requiring a montage of travel scenes and the movement of a line on the map. Now you can buy a plane ticket and be there in twenty hours.

Had that happen in one of my old not-published novels, Oath to Carthage. The world of about-now (I’m careful about putting a date on this) was a dystopian hellhole with fortified corporations and tribes of ruins-dwellers. A month or so ago, I realized that my all-fall-down date had come and gone. So I was dated.

The example stands of 1984, for obvious reasons. Yet the world seems to be doing a good job of catching up here.

The latest example is in the old book King Rat by China Miéville, a favorite author. Published in 1998, it involves a gristly killing that takes place in the abandoned underground station, Mornington Crescent. It had been closed years before for limited refurbishment and not reopened. So of course, after blinking in horror through that moment, I came went online to check. Turns out Mornington Crescent was reopened. In 1998. When King Rat came out. Wonder what Miéville through of that.

While he went to the bank.


Seriously, you still need to consider that you’ll get dated if you write near-future stories. It’s something to keep in mind.


High baud (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 23 August 2018 00:00

’m a storyteller. I love stories, how they are put together, how points are emphasized, how they wind around to a conclusion. But I noticed a strange thing the other day in the office.

I used to work with middle-aged Indian women and men of roughly my age. I could tell stories and outside of some of my creative uses of language, everything was fine. But most of those folks are gone now and in their places we have a wave of millennials. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not here to bust them along the typical lines. They live in a different world than I grew up in and hence they are different people. Yet I didn’t know how different they were until I told stories and came to a realization.

All that scene-setting and plot creation, all that is lost to them. They move faster, jumping to the point. They are it in, not for the communal spirit of the story itself but for the punchline. This is even evident in their misuse of “Irony”. Irony is defined as the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. It means that you have to use language to set up one case, then topple it with another. It does not mean you are mocking generations past by lampooning them. But the setup for true irony takes time, and millennials want it now. So they toss out an instantaneous image of the past world, something that can be accomplished in a second or two. It might be funny, but it isn’t ironic.

To my point, for their own reasons, under their own environments and mental conditioning, they don’t have the patience for a story. It doesn’t mean the same thing that it does to me. But that means that, as a story-teller, trying to get in touch with the market, I may start need to consider this. Just as we’ve seen internet shockwaves go through the publishing field, we might start seeing changes to our stories. Perhaps, as authors, we need to consider shorter chapters, more catch-up phrasing (i.e. reintroducing characters for the put-it-down-pick-it-up readership), tighter descriptions and less-verbose styles. Just as the writers of the 1700s and 1800s could gently introduce characters over hundreds of pages, now we have possibly a page, maybe even a paragraph, to do so. Captain Ahab thundered and quaked. Now, maybe, he needs to make a mission-statement, getting down to whale-hunting in earnest with full CGI backgrounds.

This might not be the sort of world we writers wish to be in. We want audience and elbow room, and many, many blank pages to fill. But if we’re going to be popular, if we’re going to match word vs need, possibly we’ll have to change our styles to match our writer styles to reader styles.


Jealousy (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 August 2018 00:00

’m pretty open with admissions – when I feel something I’ll note it here. I look at my blog as a personal diary at times (with the idea that I’m leaving it out for others to read). It seems to work best that way.

So I’ll admit this – I just finished the first book from an author and rather enjoyed it. I won’t say who but the review should be up soon.

I only had access to that one – it came off my dad’s shelf. But I decided to look online and see if he ever wrote anything else. I found that he’s continued his series, out four or five books now.

My first emotion was jealousy.

There, I said it.

See, where you (as readers) might be happy to find there were several more books of the series to enjoy, me, I feel annoyance over this (there, I said it again). See, I had the same deal going with my publishing house. I was already halfway through my next historical fiction and had figured out a great series to embark on, one about a young boy who gets swept into the Assyrian army and begins his career as a charioteer. I was billed as the “rising star” of historic fiction and was even considering if I’d possibly leave my day job. And then the publisher died, the house collapsed and everything was in ruins.

I still write. I’ve got a fan base online, a jot down whatever stories come to mind and don’t sweat publishing. If I manage to retire at years end, maybe I’ll even get back into writing. But that doesn’t mean (if we’re being honest) that I can’t look back to those exciting times and wonder what it would have been like to suddenly be the writer I’d trained to be. It’s a little hard to put on a casual face over the twisting visage of disappointment (and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t) and not dwell on it.

One looks at one’s cards and plays as one will.

So I keep blogging and keep writing. Maybe Indigo, someday. Or Tubitz and Merganstien. We’ll see.

A friend pointed out that China Miéville has a new book out.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 August 2018 18:12
Intruders (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 09 August 2018 00:00

kay, I ran a little experiment a week ago.

You see, when I got Joomla (which this site runs on) I noticed they didn’t have a feedback mechanism. How cool it would be, I though, to have discussions about the various books I’d read, to have people chime in if they liked my recommendations or not. So I added an app to my site that would allow me to get feedback per each article, and allow discussions to ferment around them.

And I did get some discussions – that was great. I also got some authors commenting on my site (mostly thanking me about my feedback, well, except for that one guy). But then, as is common with humanity, the bots and Ukrainian hackers found me. Turns out that app was not as good as I thought it was.

I was okay with cleaning out occasional span shit that would show up, one or two, here and there. But then I got contacted by my host service. My site was now being used to launch denial of service attacks. This meant I had to pull it down and get help in updating it. So that was a lot of money to clean up, and it pretty much pissed me off.

Back online, now the spam postings were coming in pretty consistent, ten a day. I’d dutifully clean them out. But the charm was gone with this idea. Eventually I just shut that service down. Since I post on Facebook, I can get comments there. Yes, it sucks that I can’t have authors chat with me about their works, but it also sucks to be a tool to be used to bring down corporate sites.

Recently I ran an experiment. I used to get lively discussions around my model train postings. Why not just turn it on for that? So I did. I let it run for a week, got one true comment and thirteen shit postings (all in one day). So that’s that, I figure. I shut the feedback option down for good. It’s like those bill-posters who’d stick paper advertisements on Nelson’s column – it’s hard to have great art when there are capitalists about.

If you have anything to say about this, or anything else I post, you can always reach me via my FACEBOOK book page.

Sorry, but if you want Ukrainian pornography, you’ll have to go elsewhere.



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