Monthly Archives: May 2012

Trials of an online business

So I’m currently working on painting the cover of my next short story to be epublished, and the painting is going well–it’s nice to actually have a use for all those art classes I took in college.  It’s just a simple watercolor, but it gives me hope that I’ll actually have the skills to create a lot of my own covers.  Here’s a sketch of one of the elements in the painting:

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My sketch for “Purple Irises”

And then I run headlong into that one issue that any online business can encounter.  Somebody has hacked into my Amazon account. I see two emails for purchases I never made–one of which even has a different person’s billing address.  Happily, I don’t see any unusual charges on my bank or credit card accounts.

Several panicked moments ensue, during which I attempt to access my Amazon account, only to find out that not only does my password change every time I attempt to log in, but also the email address associated with the account changes as well.  I end up calling Amazon to fix the problem and live without access for twenty-four hours.

Things are back to normal again, thankfully, but it is a harsh reminder of how delicate our online interactions can be.  I love the convenience of epublishing, of doing my banking and shopping online, etc.  But I can’t forget that at any instant, it could all go to hell.  Then again, stores can burn down.  An asteroid could hit the Earth and none of us would ever have to worry about any kind of business ever again.

I guess I just have to remember that the world is transient and to enjoy everything I have.

Beginnings and endings

Writing has been a struggle this week, most likely due to an impromptu vacation to Long Beach over the weekend.  It made me think, however, of the various strengths writers may have when it comes to projects and their progress through the various parts.  For myself, I have always had a hard time with endings.  Give me a blank page any day of the week–I love starting a new story, a new book, etc.  I love introducing the characters and the plot and the setting.  It’s the wrapping up of all the loose strings at the end that gives me the shakes. I always worry that my endings are not going to be satisfying or too rushed, or just simply too neat.

I think there is also a part of me that doesn’t want to say goodbye and move on to the next project.

This in turn makes me think of great endings in books and movies.  The ultimate ending?  I think that was the Lord of the Rings (which of course some people have said actually has about four or five endings.)  The worst ending?  I’ve probably blocked that from my mind, but one I can think of was the original Hans Christian Anderson tale of the Little Mermaid.  Ugh.  Let’s crown all this suffering with a stupid allegory.  And this is not to say that I don’t like tragic endings.  I loved Hair, the musical, which still makes me cry every time I see it.  Oedipus Rex was a great tragedy.  Even the Star Trek movies were at least satisfactory, if not particularly great, as they always reset the world for the next adventure.

But this brings me back to my writing.  Even now, I don’t know how to end this blog entry. It feels like the right time to end, but was it enough? Did I even make a valid point?

I guess sometimes we just have to trust that we’ve done the best we can with an ending, and let the children leave the nest.

Short Story on sale: Troll Under Golden Gate Bridge

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Just an announcement that I’ve put up the second short story pack on Amazon.  This includes two stories, “A Troll Under Golden Gate Bridge” and “Damsel in Distress”, both previously published in small circulation magazines.

I also have to say it felt so good this morning to look at my Amazon account and see that I’ve already sold a copy!

In other news I have been hard at work not only reformatting past short stories to get up on Amazon, but also writing new work.  I have a short story that I am currently working on which is an interesting mix of science, fantasy, and the paranormal.  A psychology student begins to have dreams that she is the daughter of a Mayan priest, near the breakdown of the Mayan civilization.  By day, she watches the slow breakdown of our current civilization and wonders if there is a connection.

So is there?

I think there is.  The Mayan people (and this has absolutely NOTHING to do with their whole calendar and the world is going to end on 12/21/12 yada yada), became too numerous in a land that had limited resources to support them.  A series of droughts and war between cities eventually wiped them out as a cutlure.

Around the globe, we are now facing a similar situation.  There are too many people for the Earth to support.

Going forward, I think a lot of my stories are going to deal with this theme, because I think it is important.

The Raven and horror fiction

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So as I mentioned in my last post, I recently went to see the Allen Edgar Poe inspired movie, The Raven.  I actually was pleasantly surprised by the plot line of the movie.  There had been some vague hints of horror in the previews, but it actually falls more under mystery/suspense, a la Silence of the Lambs.  I enjoyed John Cusack’s portrayal of Poe in particular–he embodies the horror and anxiety of the author who is confronted by real life enactments of his gory short stories.

So this brings me back to musings about today’s society and our taste in books and movies.  If you’ve taken literature before, you know that there were several ‘periods’ of different styles of writing in the last few centuries, often going along with different periods of art and music styles. You have the Classical (Age of Reason), the Romantic (to which writers like Poe and Mary Shelley belonged), Realist in the early twentieth century, etc.

So what kind of period are we in now?

I would say that during the sixties there was a big push towards experimental styles, and a heavy dose of realism in both fiction and movies in the seventies.  Since then, however, we seem to have swung back towards a more romantic style.  The bigger, louder, more melodramatic, the more shocking, the better.  Perhaps this is because we have become so inundated by information that it takes a lot to even get our attention.  A murder is not enough.  It has to be a psychotic, grisly murder.  And if that’s the case, this movie definitely gets your attention.

For all of that, however, what I particularly liked about this movie was the witty dialogue and the little war of words between writers that they included along with the gripping plot.  It gives me hope that we haven’t just become accustomed to brainless violence.  That hopefully there are still some readers and viewers who enjoy thinking.

For that, I do recommend the movie.

And then go back and read all the works of Poe that you can find.

Humor and Science Fiction

First an announcement:  I have made my official debut into epublishing, with the release of a previously published short story (and unpublished bonus story) at Smashwords:

Eight Minutes Before the End of the World

This is a humorous science fiction tale about what happens when an alien says “Oops.”  I’ve combined this previously published short story with a bonus, unpublished story “The Emergence” about a sentient ship in love with her captain.  Go read and enjoy!

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