Sunday, September 26, 2010

"The Word Count" Episode Two is LIVE!

Episode two of The Word Count has been posted!

The show deals with Social Media and how you can utilize tools such as Twitter and your own blog to get noticed.

Interview one this week is with the lovely and talented JAYM GATES - Publicity Manager at Raw Dog Screaming Press, Co-Editor of the upcoming Rigor Amortis anthology, as well as a boatload of other stuff I begged her to talk about like the Browncoats movie and Zinechat.

My second interview is with the equally lovely author of Seeking Eleanor, The Reign of Billie Blackwater and Bare--T. L. Tyson. She is also the host host of her own weekly Vlog each Friday.

Links are off to the right for both iTunes and the direct RSS feed. Notes to follow shortly.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Open Letter the the SyFy Channel


"Sharktopus." Really?

"Lake Placid THREE." Honestly?

Ogre. Ice Spiders. Yeti.

PLEASE stop.

Just STOP.

A third Stargate series--Starring Lou Diamond Phillips. Your star of that cinematic masterpiece of 2009 "Carny."

Lou and a Carny Freak

Oh, and you now have WWE's "Smackdown." Awesome.

I ask...no. I BEG you to go back to the days of "Farscape" and the original "Stargate: SG1."

There are a boatload of talented writers out there...I'm connected to a couple hundred of them via twitter. Get a few good writers. Create STORIES that have Science Fiction elements. Don't go for the cheap mindless entertainment. Spend the money on the ideas, the writing and the scripts. Not on Tiffany and Debbie (Sorry. DEBORAH) Gibson as headliners.

(By the way, see the two Eighties pop stars in the cat fight scene from that celluloid Emmy contender "Megapython vs. Gatoroid" HERE)

I know not every show can be like the recent "Battlestar Galactica" reboot or "Warehouse 13." I also know there is a fantastic camp-value in these movies. My partner and I watch them to make cheeky comments and laugh...something in the days of "The Great Recession"that has its own value.

But you're not even TRYING anymore.

Just saw an ad for "Mandrake" for Sunday night. Thank God football's on.


Guest Blogger for Kait Nolan today!


"Social Media and Writing" is the topic for the upcoming episode of "The Word Count" podcast.

I wrote a small piece on the site 'LinkedIn" for a guest spot on writer Kait Nolan's blog...which was posted today!

Click the link below to be redirected to Kait's site:



Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Speak Loudly"

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."



Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@rbwood) may have noticed I've added a badge to my picture. It says simply: Speak Loudly.

I'm warning you now, I'm about to rant and rave here.

You were warned.

Laurie Halse Anderson has written a book called SPEAK. It's a first person novel told from the perspective of High School freshman Melinda Sordino. The novel is set during the course of her school year. Melinda is having difficulties speaking.

It is a very emotional, hard to put down, hard not to cry novel. We find out why she is considered an outcast and why, in her words, "It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis."

The book is at times brutally honest, and you eventually find out why Melinda cannot seem to speak.

So why the twitter banner? And why the impending rant?

Because some right-wing nut job wants to ban the book.

Ban. The. Book.

The "Speak Loudly" Twitter banner and the subsequent #speakloudly hash-tag are in protest of even the thought of banning a book--a WRONG and abhorrent action as suggested by an ass-hat jack wagon.

The link above (click on Laurie's name) takes you to her description what's happening with the situation. As a writer, I can't imagine what she's going through with this nonsense.

As an American who cherishes the "Freedom of Speech" amendment (and there is a REASON it's the FIRST amendment), I'm disgusted at the thought of banning any sort of writing.

In an age where our rights are slowly being whittled away by the powers that be, a line must be drawn in the sand.

We must fight for our freedoms and our rights as writers, as citizens, as a family.

We must SPEAK LOUDLY against those who work against the light.



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The 5 Minute Fiction Trifecta

One of my favorite online writing competitions is held over at Leah Petersen's website every Tuesday from 1:30 PM until 1:45 PM Eastern.

Called "5 Minute Fiction" it's pretty self-explanatory. In her words from the contest instructions:

And welcome to 5MinuteFiction. That means we write fiction. In five minutes. Shocker, I know.


The Rules

* You get five minutes to write a piece of prose in any style or genre

* You must directly reference today’s prompt:Insert word of the day here

(Note: The prompt is the word. The picture is for decoration/inspiration.)

Once a word is posted, a writer has 5 minutes to come up with a story, write it, revise it and post it on Leah's website.

The pressure is intense. The fun is indescribable. Follow Leah on Twitter: @LeahPetersen and follow the hash tag: #5MinuteFiction for details and reminders.

Why am I writing about this today? Self-indulgent reasons, really. Last night I won my third (and probably final) 5MF. I love this sort of pressure writing.

There are quite a few really great writers who participate each week. And more join in all the time. I recommend you give it a go. See what you come up with in five minutes.

So I present to you my third winning entry. There is some language and sexual content in here so be warned.

5MF Week #18 Prompt: INABILITY

They called it a ‘smart virus.’

A variation of herpes that could target specific DNA types. Read: races.

Once unleashed, it could wipe out an entire ‘targeted group’ within a generation. Maybe two.

It was the ultimate biological weapon with a one hundred percent mortality rate.

“A new sexually transmitted disease,” they said.

“Abstinence is the best way to avoid contracting the always fatal ‘super bug,” they also said.

‘They,’ apparently, were never horny teenagers.

Condoms were useless. Any sort of sexual contact. Kissing, blow jobs–even hand jobs would spread the virus. It didn’t matter.

They must have giggled to themselves when they’d first created it. Then screamed in frustration at their inability to control it.

See, what ‘they’ didn’t realize is that they’d created a real ‘smart bug.’ By smart I mean intelligent. Self-propagating. And self-aware.

They’d created the fucking Einstein of STDs.

Then ‘they’ declared war on the uber-herpes. Uber-herpes declared war back.

In three months it was all over.

As I look down from the International Space Station as the last surviving member of the human race, I try to find fitting last words. The oxygen is in the red now.

I think of Neil Armstrong and his “One small step” speech. What bullshit.

As the last tank goes dry, all I can think to say is “They…were a bunch of assholes.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Word Count Episode 2- Coming 26September10



Well the next episode of "The Word Count" podcast is moving along quite well!

Last night I had a fantastic chat with the dynamic and talented Jaym Gates and Wednesday I'll be interviewing T. L. Tyson. The subject this week is "Social Media and Writing"

I'd love to get your stories as well....how have things like "Twitter" and "Facebook" enhanced your writing? Who have you met online and how has social media played a role in getting your message out there?

I have to share with you all the fact that this podcasting thing is a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I'm getting the opportunity to chat with some really fantastic writers and industry professionals.

And if you haven't subscribed to "The Word Count" as of yet, there is a link to the iTunes version and the native RSS feed to the right of this article.

Come join me on my journey toward publication. I can't guarantee you'll learn anything. But it is a boat load of fun.

And don't forget to leave comments about social media below. I might even quote you in this week's show!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Update from the Weekend

"Very productive" are the two words I'd use to describe the weekend!

Got the latest versions of The Prodigal's Foole, the summary and query letter out to my crit partner for review. Finished the script for the second episode of "The Word Count" and I have interviews scheduled this week to complete the program.

I'm also working on a 'guest blogging' spot--more on that when it develops.

And it looks like I'll be entering another writing competition by this weekend.

Tidying up a few shorts and finished the outline and scene descriptions for The Haunting of Agnes Middleton House.

Seems my muse had as much coffee as I did. She was definitely working over time for me.

Back to the day job, satisfied with what was accomplished over the weekend. Now that's a nice way to start the work week!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A weekend of writing ahead...THE PRESSURE!

For the last month or so there has been a lot of work related and family related items that have come up and eaten into my writing time. Normally I have a daily goal of 2000 words or so. To put that into perspective, that tends to be a chapter of a book, half of a normal-sized short story or a quarter of a novella.

It doesn't mean its good, mind you. I wrote 15k words in a weekend and ended up leave close to 11k on the cutting room floor during the subsequent revision session.

Lately I've only been able to write a bit here and there. It's been more than a little frustrating as I'm trying to ramp up the first chapter of Foole and get it to a point where it's really in "query condition."

But now I have a full weekend I can dedicate to writing...and I'm hyperventilating over it. What if my muse decides to go on holiday? She's a feckless b*tch sometimes (for the record, I call my muse "Kira." Yes. That was Olivia Newton-John's muse character in "Xanadu." Shut up).

I'll be working on Foole, the script for the second episode of "The Word Count," and a few assorted
bits and bobs.

A lot planned.

You'd better show up, Kira!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Take on the Whole "e-Reader vs. Printed Book" Thing

"Paper books are dead."

"e-Readers are 'greener' than paper!"

"Books will never be totally replaced by e-readers"

Oh dear Lord the entire e-reader vs. printed book issue is as tiring as those politician ads that run just before an election.

In my humble opinion (IMHO) that is.

Between my partner and I, we have probably 1500 books. More come each year. We also own a Kindle and an iPad and we also both have library cards.

As an aspiring writer and storyteller, I know in my heart I won't be happy until I hold a printed copy of my book in my hands. That will be the ultimate success story for me. But I certainly understand (and love myself) the convenience and portability of an e-Reader.

Both Tina and I travel a lot for business. It's much easier for each of us to pack a Kindle or other e-Reader with 20 or so books loaded on them than to pack a suitcase half-filled with hard-covers. But we both feel like there's nothing better than the smell and texture of holding and reading a good paper book.

I think there is room for both out there. Competition is what makes our society in the Western world work. Besides, I think the authors I love benefit greatly from both (although the compensation model still needs to be fixed for ePubbed stories...but that's a rant for another time). See, if I like an author I tend to buy both the electronic and paper version of his/her book.

And sometimes the audio version as well.

I'm looking at YOU Jim Butcher and my full collection of The Dresden Files in hard cover, paperback and the wonderfully produced audio books read by James Marsters.

I won't debate here what's greener or which delivery (electronic or paper) is better. I won't be recommending one e-Reader over another (Well, ok. I lie. Buy a Kindle).

My personal preference is both...and supporting local libraries as well. But I'm a book-nerd, so what do I know?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's all about the writing...


I've been carried away a bit with the whole podcasting thing. Since I've been in the technology world for a very long time it's second nature. I guess I have this tendency to geek-out on a moments' notice.

I think the title of Wil Wheaton's book sums it up perfectly. And by the way, it's a great read. I recommend it highly.

Anyway, while the web site continues its development, I realized that if I'm going to BE a writer, I need to WRITE--actually add legitimate content to the future site.

So along with finishing up The Prodigal's Foole, I'll be adding a few short stories and some snippets for the the second book of the Arcana Chronicles -The Young Practitioner.

I just need to keep reminding myself that the geeky stuff needs to supplement the writing, not the other way around.

A few of the items you'll be seeing shortly:

  • …THERE Roaches! (Short)
  • The Haunting of Agnes Middleton House (Novella)
  • Death of a Trillionaire (Short)
  • Five Card Stud (Short)

There. I've committed to it. Now I just have to..."Make it so."

Sorry Wil.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's ALIVE!!


Episode One of "The Word Count" is live! RSS feed is to the right, and it should be available for iTunes subscription in the next couple of days.

The Subject for this first installment is "The Idea."

Big shout out and thanks to Emmett Spain and Leah Petersen for agreeing to be my first interviewees!

Also to the boys over at The Eagles Fancast-Eric & Chuck. Thanks guys for all your help.

Oh...and there is a very special announcement from Emmett on the next installment for his "London City" series.

Show notes will follow shortly.

Can I get a 'Squeee!' for my first podcast?

r


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Podcast Update


Finished the raw recording for the first episode of "The Word Count" this morning!

The last piece of the 'cast was an interview with author Emmett Spain. I want to thank him for his time today, especially since I screwed up the diary entry for our interview.

As he's in Sydney Australia and I'm in Boston, the time difference is 14 hours. Apparently I have an issue with simple maths.

Never the less, we had a fantastic chat over Skype today...and that was the last thing I wanted to get done before the final edits and posting of the podcast.

I'm still targeting the release of the cast shortly...to coincide with the premiere of my new website.

Now if I could only write the kick-ass opening to The Prodigal's Foole I want, it'll be a total win for the month of September.

Stay tuned! And while you're at it, pick up a copy of Emmett's book: Old Haunts, A London City Novel. Kindle version available as well!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The beginning that never will be...


I've been editing and revising The Prodigal's Foole this weekend based on feedback from Amy Boggs, agent at the Donald Maass Literary Agency and C. A. Marshall a freelance editor.

I can't tell you how important it is to get feedback on your own work in progress.

Anyway, based on suggestions, I wanted to ramp up the action and the initial hook for TPF and I made one of the biggest mistakes you can to start a novel...as it was explained to me by my crit partner and muse, the annoyingly correct and talented Leah Petersen.

So while I rewrite (once again) the opening sequence to my book, I thought I'd share with the the beginning...that will never be.

Can you guess what the very large mistake is?

CHAPTER ONE


The man sitting in 23B was put on a watch list by the flight attendants as soon as he’d boarded the aircraft in Dublin. Thirty-ish with wavy brown hair in need of a cut and two days of stubble on his face, he had the kind of dark, darting eyes that made the flight crew a little nervous. The biker jacket didn’t help ease the impression He sat next to an old mousy-looking woman on the window seat and man with a beard who’d just made the flight sitting in an isle seat. The grandmother of three tittered nervously, speaking about visiting her grand children in Boston, and her good-for-nothing American son-in-law who had taken her darling daughter away from Ireland. The bearded man was pleasant enough, winking and flirting with the flight attendants and receiving extra tiny bottles of vodka for his trouble.

The man in 23B said nothing and just stared stony-faced at the back of the seat in front of him.
Two hours into the flight, as brunch was about to be served, the trouble started.
The flight attendant was preparing her trolley with microwaved versions of an Irish fry brunch when she heard shouting coming from the center of the aircraft.

“Get the fuck off this plane! Now!”

The flight attendant exited the tiny kitchen to see the man in 23B looming over the little old lady, eyes blazing.

“Sir, the captain has not turned off the fasten seat belt sign. Please sit down and calm yourself.”
The man looked at the flight attendant, his eyes were lit with what looked like an internal fire.
The flight attendant stopped in her tracks. Flame leapt from man’s eyes.
He turned his attention back to the old woman.

“You heard me,” he shouted. “Out. Now.”

The old woman was trembling. Tears streamed from her eyes.

The flight attendant reached over and grabbed an in-cabin radio mic.

“Captain, we have a problem with one of the passengers. I need some help in the main cabin.”

“Hey buddy,” The bearded man in the aisle seat slurred. “Why don’t you leave the old lady alone? C’mon. I’ll buy you a drink.”

The man in 23B moved his hand slightly. The bearded drunk flew out of his seat and slammed into the ceiling of the cabin and stayed pinned to the top as if an invisible force held him in place.

People began to scream. Passengers around the man with the flaming eyes scrambled to get away from him.

“I know who you are. Last chance to get off this plane or I’ll throw you out.”

“Sir! Sit down!” The flight attendant shouted. She could see her colleague approaching the man in 23B, taser in hand. She could feel the plane banking sharply. The pilot was turning the aircraft around.

The old lady looked up at the man and smiled.

“Go ahead Symon Bryson,” she hissed in an unearthly voice. “Use your power. Do it.”

Flame shot from the man’s hand and engulfed the old woman. The side of the plane blew out.
The wailing of a siren accompanied the immediate decompression and deployment of the oxygen masks. The plane lurched and groaned as a second piece of the fuselage tore away.
Passengers and flight crew not strapped in were sucked out of the aircraft, tossed out like rag dolls while the man in 23B just stood in the center of the wreckage seemingly not affected by the havoc he’d caused.

Aer Lingus flight 332 rolled over and began its twenty thousand foot death spiral…
* * *
I awoke with a start as my flight touched down on the runway. I was drenched in a cold sweat and my hands hurt from grasping the armrests of my center seat.

The overhead speakers crackled. “Aer Lingus would like to welcome you to Boston’s Logan Airport. We enjoyed flying with you and hope you enjoy your stay.”

I couldn’t believe I was actually back in Boston. The nightmare faded as they always did. I haven’t slept well in ten years. You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

Fin

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Writing Ideas and Where They Come From

In a few weeks I'll be unveiling both my new website and the first episode of "The Word Count" Podcast. I'll be talking about the genesis of The Prodigal's Foole and other projects I've been working on, as well as interviewing a few authors who share some pretty deep insights into their own works and the ideas behind them.

But I'd also like to add comments to the podcast from the blog. Snippets from other readers/writers and industry folks, if you will. Click on the comment section below to share your story ideas and the thoughts behind them. Please make sure you include your name, whether or not you'd like to be mentioned and the where the seeds of your idea for your Works In Progress (WIPs) came from.

I'd love to hear and share your stories...and feel free to post your blog site, website or other ways the world can read more about you.

I'll be waiting!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sometimes Critique can be the Best Thing Ever

A few months back I wrote about an online auction I'd won for Do the Write Thing for Nashville to have a 50 page critique done for The Prodigal's Foole.

The lovely and talented Amy Boggs from the Donald Maass Literary Agency offered up this critique to help the poor souls impacted by the terrible flooding in Nashville earlier this year.

Amy and I had been corresponding a bit via Twitter previously...DMLA reps a few of the writers I love. As a writer seeking publication, research into the type of agencies you want to work with and who fits with your writing style and genre is a critical component of the business-end of writing.

Anyway....yesterday I received the detailed crit back from Amy...and I wanted to share a few of her comments as these sort of details are definitely things you should look at for yourselves when editing your WIP:

While Sy is engaging and likeable, I don’t feel we’re quite given enough reason to follow him. What makes him unique? Why is this his story and not Aaron’s or Billy’s or Eden’s or Janice’s or even Peter’s? Sure he’s funny, but for a character to really pull us in, there has to be an evident strength there as well. The key, I think, is to highlight what drives your character. Take Harry Dresden, for instance. He is driven both the bad and good events of his childhood.

A very fair point (and the comparison to Harry Dresden made me titter. And men really shouldn't titter). As TPF is structured at the moment, the reason's for what drives Symon is revealed in the second act...which jumps back and forth between the present and ten years prior. I can (and absolutely should) at least hint at the motivations earlier...hints will make the reader want to know more about Sy, while providing even more impact when the 'reveal' happens in Act 2.

More towards your writing, the big issue for me was that sometimes you don’t seem to trust your reader that much. A lot of this comes through in repetition. For example, “I nodded my head by way of acknowledgement.” The reader knows that nodding means acknowledgement because of the context. There were also quite a few instances where things were spelled out to the reader when they didn’t need to be, such as diving into a long paragraph about how they all have magical powers...

Even my sister mentioned this when she reviewed my novel. I ignored her. Guess I should send her flowers or something, huh? This is a 'mechanics of writing' issue for me that I have to be aware of....correcting this in TPF will take a little time. Correcting this for my writing over all will take strength of will. Pay attention to your writing and listen to your sister (who has a PhD and is a walking MLA Handbook)!

I know some of this 'sounds' negative. It's not. They're all good points....and all helpful to make TPF the best it can be. After all, do I want to eventually publish an ok story, or a tight yarn people will enjoy?

I'll share a third passage from Amy's overall comments with you. Not just because it's hopeful and flattering (so it's a nice ego boost ;-) ), but because now I want to work twice as hard to get it right:

You have a solid foundation here, and you clearly know how to juggle both big world-building and detailed sentence structure, and every story element in between. You story shows promise, and your writing even more so. I hope this can just perhaps be a nudge in the right direction.

Nudge indeed. I spent all night doing rework of TPF...:-)

Keep writing folks. Don't stop. Get people you know to review your work. Join writer's groups to get peer critiques. Make contacts in the writing world.

Becoming a published writer is a lot harder than putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. But the key--for me at least--is to continue to get feedback. All it does is make you a better writer in the end.

Make it happen!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vacation is Over...A Quick Monday Update


For a vacation week, I seemed to have been more productive than ever.

My ghost story inspired by my stay in a haunted B&B in Maine is developing into a nice little novella while I continue to tidy up a few shorts.

The podcast is coming along nicely...spent an hour on the phone yesterday with Eric Grigg and Chuck Stanley of the Eagles FanCast discussing podcasting...possibilities.
The boys of Eagles FanCast

And the website is coming along nicely as well.

I also received a fully (and professionally) edited version of The Prodigal's Foole back. I'll be trolling through that as well.

There is a busy week ahead...and I hope to set a firm date shortly for the launch of both the Podcast and the website. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Inspiration Shows Up When You Least Expect It

I went on a holiday with my partner, Tina this past week. It's the first time we've been away--just the two of us--in three years.

It was a wonderful rejuvenating trip.

We traveled a couple hours north of Boston to the Maine coast...to an old B&B in Ogunquit right on the beach near the Marginal Way (if you know the area...it's one of the most beautiful beaches in New England). It was a stunning break.

Anyway...we checked into the B&B....and I went to unlock the door to our room and the brass key snapped. As you can imagine, I was a little embarrassed as I went back down two flights of stairs to the front desk.

The hostess, Louise, just laughed and quickly had a replacement key and the lock to our room fixed. She patted me on the shoulder (as I was obviously put-out at breaking the key) and said:

"Don't worry about it. The ghost is just upset."

Well, I love a good ghost story--but as a born and raised New Yorker, I'm a bit skeptical when it comes to the 'real thing.'

"What ghost?" I asked.

Our lovely hostess grabbed a book from the shelf (Haunted Inns of New England) and pointed out a story about the very B&B I was standing in.

"Interesting," I said trying not to be the cynic I am, "But why is the ghost upset?"

"The B&B has been sold to make condos."

She was really sweet and I spent a few more minutes chatting with Louise, then went back upstairs to open up our room and unpack, focusing not on the ghost or the broken key, but on five glorious days alone with my baby.

That evening, we had a beautiful dinner, a lovely walk on the beach and spent some time stargazing. About 2 AM, T and I were woken by the banging of the handicap elevator in the back of the building. It went on for thirty minutes or so, then stopped.

The next morning we came downstairs for breakfast.

"Did you guys hear the elevator last night?" asked Louise as one might ask about the weather.

"Yes," I said. "What was that all about?"

"The ghost," she said simply

"Oh, c'mon!" I said.

That's when the elevator repairman came around the corner. "I'll be damned if I can find anything wrong, Louise."

Our hostess just smiled at me.

I admit it. I got caught up in the moment. I asked to hear more for a budding Ghost Story short that had been percolating since...well...since the repair guy couldn't find anything wrong with the elevator.

She agreed to speak to me later that afternoon.

Tina and I had breakfast, then decided the walk the Marginal Way to Perkin's Cove...a two mile or so stroll along the ocean. During our walk we came across a run down mansion overlooking the water. The second part of my embryonic tale began to take form.

Both Tina and I wanted to get a closer look at this old run down estate and snuck onto the property for a look-see. The house was well in need of repair, with rotting wooden beams, plants growing inside and all manner of decaying smells about the place.

In other words, I'd found my setting for my ghost story.

The discussion with Louise later gave me all sorts of information from the condo conversion this fall to the various 'intriguing' happenings at the B&B.

To add to Louise's stories, a few other inexplicable things happened during out stay. The main computer for the B&B, for example, died while the reservation system was being updated to clear out the entry's post the start of the condo conversion this fall. The door to an adjoining room's porch locked by itself while the residents were outside enjoying the evening. The sound of running footsteps were heard one evening on the back staircase...but the staircase was locked. The outdoor lights of the Inn randomly switched on an off, yet had no problems when the electrician arrived. The oven randomly turned on an off one morning during breakfast....

I could go on.

So I now have a Work In Progress. A Ghost Story set in a sleepy town in Maine.

I think I'll keep the lights on tonight.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is Anybody Out There? - My Review


4.5 Out Of 5 Stars

Is Anybody Out There? is a wonderfully crafted anthology edited by Marty Halpern and Nick Gevers focused on the observations of Enrico Fermi regarding the existence of extraterrestrial life.

Fermi’s Paradox for those of you who don’t know it states simply: The apparent size and age of the universe suggest that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations ought to exist. However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it (Wikipedia).

Before I launch into my review, I should say that I attended the premiere panel launch for this book at ReaderCon21 earlier this summer. I had the extreme pleasure in speaking with Marty Halpern, Paul Di Filippo, Yves Maynard (and yes my son is now taking French so he can read some of your other work for himself!), and my old friend James Morrow.

Yves Meynard, Marty Halpern (standing) and James Morrow - ReaderCON21

I found Marty to be gracious with his time, and his discussion on what he and co-editor Nick Gevers went through to bring this marvelous collection to our book stores was both daunting and rewarding. Paul Di Filippo was exactly as I expected him to be--passionate, funny and a brilliant speaker. Yves Maynard, with his quiet intensity was an absolute joy to speak to and Jim--with his flair for the dramatic, was the perfect choice not only for the panel, but also as the final author in the anthology.

The group of shorts in this tome reflect both the flavor and intrigue of the simple question: Are we alone in the universe?

A few author highlights, as I could go on for pages…and I’d rather you spend the time reading the anthology rather than a long-winded review!

Paul McAuley kicks off his take on the Paradox with Enrico Fermi himself engaged in a discussion of this very question. An overview of the paradox and theories surrounding the question of ETs sets the stage beautifully for the reader.

The writer-meeting-his-own-alien-creation story by Yves Meynard is a wonderful take on man’s desire to know answers, and the less-than-satisfying results knowing brings.

The wonderfully fun Report from the Field by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn is a kooky alien Dan Rather type story with an extra terrestrial’s take on Earth and all that is humankind.

Paul Di Filippo’s Galaxy of Mirrors is a tale spun with good humor and in grandiose style about the fate of two hapless lovers and their encounter with the World Thinker.

Graffiti in the Library of Babel by David Langford is a great first contact story about aliens who try to get our earthly attention by communicating to us via our own historical records.

The paranormal mystery of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s The Dark Man tale is a neat take on a “what if” story. Think along the lines of Scully actually finding PROOF that Mulder’s conspiracy theories were spot on.

The final tale in this collection, James Morrow’s The Vampires of Paradox is an investigative piece on paradoxes themselves. Twisted logic and mind-bending questions are asked and the answers that arise are told in a way that Jim pulls off brilliantly.

Overall, this is a marvelous collection of stories, some I’ve touched on, others just as intriguing and entertaining, and leaves the reader with one final paradox: How many different ways are there to ask Is Anybody Out There?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm Baaaaaack!


All-righty then!

After 1200 miles of driving, a whirlwind weekend with my children (see my son rock climbing off to the right), and assorted other family obligations, it's time to be writing again!

Time away from the keyboard has done wonders. I hadn't realized how stressed I'd made myself over the last few weeks. I was piling on work without planning and forethought.

The end result was the fact that there were no end results.

So this morning, It's back to work. I have ONE short I'm happy with that I can comfortably have ready for submission in the next few days...and it's nothing I've posted about before.

Exciting stuff!

The Prodigal's Foole is in process of a full professional edit and a 50 page critique (by an agent). My website is in Eric's very capable hands and I have a script (of sorts) for my first podcast.

A little 5MinuteFiction at 1:30 PM today ought to get me back into the groove.

A couple days away was nice, but now I'm back pounding away at the keyboard. Feels pretty damn good.

Oh, and a side note to the guys at Sirius XM:

I loved the Eighties station....helped me get through 1200 miles of driving this weekend. The Pat Benatar and AC/DC sets were wonderful. But PLEASE throw away anything labeled 'Debbie Gibson' or 'Tiffany' -- also any post-Commodores Lionel Richie.

And tell Nina Blackwood to lay off the Camel's.

Thanks.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Brief Hold on the Writing...and I'm OK with that.

My gear arrived for setting up my Podcast....have a new pro mic, mixer etc. Been playing with the full version of 'Garageband' on my Mac for recording and have a few people who've agreed to be interviewed for the show already.

The excitement is building!

In the meantime I have a target for submitting a couple of shorts next week and the launch date for the website is quickly approaching.

But it all goes on hold this weekend. Because I get to be a dad.

I'm picking up my kids on Friday for a long weekend. I can wait to see them and Tina and I have (as usual) a packed visit planned.

The blog will go dark until next week...as will twitter, IM and e-mail. And I'm ok with that.

'Cause I get to play with my kids.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Podcasting Subject Matter and 5MinuteFiction

I've been chatting with a few people about the upcoming podcast.

I mean, what should I talk about? What do people want to hear? How do I not only GET an audience, but retain them? All good questions, especially since what I want to talk about has to do with writing and what the Hell do I know about that?

But see...that's the point.

I want to do a show for the 'newbie,' the 'wannabe' and the 'curious.' Like me.

So there will be interviews. I've spoken to half a dozen people out that about being on the show and was surprised when they all agreed to participate. Enthusiastically.

I want to talk about the struggles of writing (everything from the love/hate relationship writers have with their manuscript as they go through their 40th revision--to finding an agent).

I'd like to highlight authors, share opinions and showcase the work of so many folks out there.

And above all I want to have fun.

Those of you who know me realize I'm a bit mad...barking, in fact. So I'd expect a little of that as well.

The goal is to have something together in the next month or so. So keep coming back for updates!

In the meantime, today I'll be the judge for the 5MinuteFiction starting at 1:30 PM Eastern TODAY (03 August 2010). So click on the link and come join the fun.

Heh. I'm a writing competition judge! Oh the POWER!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Progress Report


Made a lot of headway last week on multiple fronts.

  • I've sent one short off to my crit partner to review. The second is coming along very nicely.
  • I locked The Prodigal's Foole as being in a place where I'm very pleased. I've sent it onto a professional editor for a look-see and should hear back on that in about two weeks.
  • I submitted TPF to another agency last week.
  • The website has made great progress...I'm very pleased with the work done so far and I hope to have an official launch later this month (Place a very manly 'Squeeeee!' here).
  • Posted my review for Emmett Spain's 'Old Haunts' on Amazon, GoodReads and this blog (HERE). Very much worth a read.
  • Still working on my review for Is Anybody Out There?
There are a couple of exciting developments to share as well. I can officially announce I've been asked to be a judge at this weeks 5MinuteFiction competition - Tuesday 03 August at 1:30 PM Eastern Time. Make sure you join in!

The second development is I'm working on a new semi-regular podcast. Details will be forthcoming, but I'm very excited at this opportunity! I'll be releasing more info as the plans coalesce. But here's a little preview:


If you have any ideas/thoughts/comments of what you'd like to see in a writer's podcast, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Busy busy!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review: Old Haunts, A London City Novel (E. Spain)


Old Haunts, A London City Novel
Emmett Spain

One of two reviews I've been behind on:

Four out of Five stars

I’m an urban fantasy writer myself. So I couldn’t help but look at “Old Haunts” with a critical eye.

So imagine my surprise when I finished the ‘ghost’ of a teaser and was already onboard for this alternate reality (London) romp.

Jack Worthington is the perfect anti-hero. Does everything the wrong why with the right intentions.

Well most of the time.

Worthington is a gruff, head-strong spirit talker whose desire to help a client with her marital issues (especially an issue with the ‘death do us part’ portion of her vows) leads to a death mark and an eventual race against an oncoming apocalypse.

The pace is fast, the twists are unexpected and I closed the book already looking forward to book two.

Just to see how Emmett screws with his characters next.

And one final note. If you are tired of sparkly vampires, then you’ll really enjoy one of the main villains.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Website and...Podcasting?

Many of you know I've been looking around for some assistance with my website.

Ok. To be honest my 'website' is a simple redirect to this blog. So I guess by 'some assistance'
I mean 'someone to build what I have in my head who knows what she/he is doing.'

My focus as a Technology Consultant for the past 15 years or so has been in Program and Portfolio management. Before that, I was a Helluva engineer. In both roles I've met some really bright people.

A long time ago I worked on a project with a damn good tech weenie. A great guy by the name of Eric Grigg. He happens to also be a co-host of the 'EaglesFanCast.' This is a podcast, blog etc. for everything to do with the Philadelphia Eagles American football team.

I've linked his crew's site above.

Anyway, Eric and I worked together years ago. We'd occasionally see each other (once actually randomly meeting up at Dublin Airport). He's been lurking on my blog for a while and I've been lurking on his podcast.

He still is a tech guru and has offered to help getting my site off the ground--as a part of this whole 'self-marketing' campaign to publish my writing.

But when we spoke last night, he had some ideas about other types of media to 'get the message out.' As a successful podcaster himself, he's suggested that I spin up my own podcast to compliment the blog.

Honestly, podcasting was in the back of my mind...but it's been on a dusty shelf labeled "Things to Do when Someone Discovers a Pill that Will Let You Never Need Sleep Without a Psychotic Breakdown." or TTDWSDAPTWLYNNSWAP for short.

Heh. Pronounce THAT Mary Poppins.

Anyway I think Eric is going to be helping design not only my website, but the whole 'R.B.Wood Media experience.' God help us all.

In thinking of what I want in a podcast I've so far decided that I DON'T want it to be a retread of this blog. So I open it up to you, dear readers. What would you like to see in a 'wannabe writers' podcast that would be interesting to you? Leave your thoughts, ideas, rantings in the comments below.

And to think...all I wanted was a little HTML with a few pretty pictures...






Thursday, July 29, 2010

Locked and Loaded

So remember when I said I needed to open up The Prodigal's Foole for revisions based on some comments from my crit partner Leah Petersen?

Well, it was probably the best thing to happen to Book One in a long time. It's tighter now. And there is one scene that I added at the suggestion of Leah that's absolutely heart-wrenching.

It's exactly what was needed in act three.

So in celebration of my book being 'submission ready,' I've posted the first THREE chapters off to the right.

Enjoy. And Leah--you're a rock star.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Time Management, or "How the HELL did I get so Busy?"

2:30-ish AM

I started off with an idea that became The Prodigal's Foole - my 'work in progress' for all you newcomers out there.

So I wrote the book, it's going through revision 5 - which sounds like a lot but there are only three scenes I'm unhappy with. So it's getting close. Great, right?

Absolutely. But (and you KNEW there'd be a 'but').

How the Hell did I get so busy in the writing world?

Of course I'm doing writing part time...because I like to eat and child support/alimony are due every other week. So there is the real job that takes up 50 or so hours weekly, plus the 'non-billable time' such as answering work e-mails at 2 AM when I can't sleep.

Then, beyond the book creating/editing/pulling-my-hair-out part of writing, there is the networking side. And I know I'm rambling, but it's two-thirty in the morning and the coffee machine is BROKEN.

Where was I? Oh yes--weeping over my Krups coffeemaker and the networking side of writing.

There are a LOT of people who want to be writers. Search the internet for unpublished writer blogs or play in groups on twitter (such as #amwriting or #storycraft or #litchat...et cetera).

Oh and conferences. I did ReaderCON last month and I'm looking at attending the World Fantasy Convention in October. I could go on but I'll lose the rest of you who've hung on this long for my point.

I was looking at my calendar and to do list and I was amazed at the number of writing related "stuff" I've got going:
  • I still owe Marty Halpern a review of the anthology 'Is Anybody Out There?'
  • I'm working on an alternate beginning for a friend's book--just so she can see what it might look like
  • Two short stories are being tweaked for submission (and an online mag has asked me to do so...so I really should)
  • Working with an editor on TPF--well ok. I'm working with crit partners and editors...
  • The ever elusive 'QUERY LETTER SUPREME (QLS) is in it's seventh revision.
  • I have 5Minutefiction each week (announcement about that coming as soon as Leah gives the go-ahead)
  • I participate in a series of weekly chats about writing
  • I have a book cover mock-up I'm working on
  • I owe Emmett Spain and review of his book Old Haunts
  • Then there is the miscellaneous stuff, like building my website, updating Goodreads, the blog...oh and the 3k daily word count...
And that's just this week. And it's Wednesday already. Just barely.

I need coffee.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Editing and Dental Hygiene

Ok...the title of this blog was supposed to be a play on words for 'editing is like pulling teeth.'

It's Monday. And I haven't had my coffee yet. Leave me alone.

Spent the weekend editing The Prodigal's Foole based on comments from my crit partner, the lovely and very sarcastic Leah Petersen. Some good stuff and mostly line item things.

But I have two scenes that are still weak. I'll be working to tie them down over the next few days.

And of course I want to add one additional scene based on a single relationship comment made as an aside. The comment might have been secondary, but it opened up a hole that needs resolution.

The editing process has made me realize that I have a love/hate thing going on with my book. I love the story and the characters...but if I keep finding tweaks and scenes I want to play with, I'll never be done. Hate that.

So where's that fine line?

I'll let you know after the next round. Now for my coffee and to take something for this tooth ache.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Plotting the...Plot

There are many different ways to map out your novel. I encourage all to try a few different methods before jumping into your story. I've tried a few (outlined below), and I'll end today's post with what worked for me.

The "Pantser" Method - This is the seat-of-your-pants way of developing your story. You start with a blank piece of paper and 85,000 words later you've got a novel. I actually started my book this way. It was off the rails by word 4,000. Scratch that.

The Outline Method - A strict, mapping of your plot. Looks a bit like the old outlines we'd have to do in school for assigned papers and reports. I tried this. I really did. But then I remembered back in school I used to develop the outline after I wrote the paper. I found this way too restricting and didn't allow for any inspiration at all. I got half way through my outline before I said, "This is stupid."

The Snowflake Method - I won't write out the entire step-by-step. Dr. Randy Ingermanson summarized it perfectly HERE. The basics: You start with one sentence that describes your book, expand to a paragraph, develop the characters etc etc. This just didn't work for me. Once again, I felt too constrained.

I needed to find something, though. I had a pretty complex book in my head trying to get out. I could see various scenes playing out almost like a movie. Was there anything that would allow me to take my scenes, and expand them into a plot-driven tale while allowing me the freedom to develop independent ideas as they came to me?

The answer, of course, was yes. it just took me a while to find it. And that's pretty ironic, because one of my favorite fantasy authors had it smack in the middle of his blog.

Jim Butcher has written a few really neat stories. He wrote the Codex Alera six-book fantasy series as well as the continuing saga of "The only Wizard in the Phone Book" aka Harry Dresden of the wonderfully fun Dresden Files. If you haven't read any of Jim's books, go the the links above or your local library and read them. I'll wait.

Anyway, he had a post on his blog from 2008 that was pure gold for me. Read it HERE. I won't even try to do it justice...but let's just say I used Jim's ideas (henceforth called "The Butcher Method") and built The Prodigal's Foole.

"The Butcher Method" had enough structure to keep me honest, but allowed for a great deal of improvisational writing. I did, however "Make a few modifications myself (thank you Han)."

But for the most part, I followed "The Butcher Method." How did it work?

I knocked out the first thirteen Chapters of TPF in twenty two days.

Makes me feel a little stupid buying all those "Write your Novel Like Charles Dickens!" books when all I needed was sitting on one of my favorite author's blog.

The bottom line: Write how you want. See what the authors you love do, and how they do it.

Then follow your muse.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bits and Pieces - An update

So a few things going on in the world of becoming a published writer. I thought I'd provide an update and ask for advice.

On to the update!

  1. I've just finished my critical review of Leah Petersen's Mourn the Sun and have sent her back my comments. It's a wonderful read and she's just been asked for a 'full' (A copy of her full manuscript) by a potential agent. Kudos to Leah and thanks for bringing me into the world of Mourn!
  2. I won (for the the second week in a row!) the '5MinuteFiction' competition --The one where you're given a topic and 5 minutes to write a story. My entry is below. Enjoy
  3. More 5MF news--I'll be the judge for this competition on 03 August! More to follow on that.
  4. I have two short stories in the cooker along with revisions on The Prodigal's Foole. I'm please with the revisions so far and I'm hoping to go back to querying agents with the novel by the end of summer. I'll post the revised first 50 pages by next week.
  5. Reading continues. At my son's request, I've now finished all 5 books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Now I really know how bad the movie sucked...
Now to ask advice!

The two short stories I'm working on are for submission to various Fantasy/SciFi magazines. I'll post both teasers below. Do these sound interesting to you? Leave messages in the comments section!

SS#1: In an alternate reality, Apollo 12 suffers an major accident on the moon, leaving Astronaut Al Bean stranded with no hope of rescue...

SS#2: Roaches invade yet another small apartment in the Bowery section of Manhattan. These pests are special though...as they only come out when the moon is full.

Comments? Advice? Suggest a subject? All thoughts are welcome. And without comments, it's very lonely in this little corner of the internet...

That's it for today...stay tuned to this Bat-Chanel for more ramblings soon.

5MinuteFiction - Winning Entry 20 July 2010

I don’t like sleeping very much. Well, that’s not entirely true. Sleep, I like.

It’s the dreams that come every time I shut my eyes.

They always start the same. I’m in a big city. New York, maybe. It’s a beautiful day and I’m walking along the street taking in the hustle and bustle of city life. Relishing the chaos as I walk through the man-made canyons.

At some point, the dream changes. I’m at the top of a large building, overlooking the city. The view is breathtaking. That’s when I see it.

A plane, flying fast– heading straight for me. There is an explosion and a sense of falling.

Before I hit the ground, the scene changes. I’m in a field somewhere. The smells of grass and of farms permeate my senses. I’m happy.

I look up when I hear a noise. Once again I see a plane, this time it’s heading straight for the ground. In my head I can hear people scream as the large jet impales itself in the once beautiful field at my feet.

Once more the scene jumps. I’m in a building wearing a military uniform…

A noise, one less dramatic, startles me. I’d nodded off again, damn it. The cold sweat dribbled down my back and a wave of helplessness almost overwhelms me.

I see the door open and two men enter. One, I know all too well. The other is dressed in a suit and a tie. I don’t recognize him. It is this unknown man who speaks first.

“And this one?” He says in almost a bored voice.

“Sloane Peterson,” says the man in white. “Thirty One. Showed promise, but her mind snapped during the last trials. Keeps going on about planes and buildings.”

“All right. I’ll let the President know.”

“The President?” I said, my voice croaky, while trying to stand. This man has the ear of the President! “Please sir! I need to speak with President Bush right away! Something terrible is about to happen…planes….attack…” I struggled to get to him. I had to tell him!

“See?” Said the man in white, ignoring me.

The suited man looked at me dispassionately. “Young lady,” he said. “There is no President Bush.” Turning to the other man, he said, “President Nixon will be watching the moon landing this evening. I’ll let him know the future viewing program is a complete failure and an inefficient use of taxpayer money. Keep her locked in here until we cure her or she dies. We don’t want word about her crazy rantings scaring the public, now do we?”