Sunday, August 25, 2013

(Re)prize

Writing today went much more favorably than last week. In this, the last book of the series, whether they die or not, I'm having to say goodbye to a lot of characters. And I wouldn't call them my children, because most of them are older than me, better or worse than me, and all of them different. But they did come from me, and I did my best to nurture them during our time together. Today's chapter was the series wrap for a character that I enjoyed, and I was enthused that I could send him off with something that felt like dignity.

I'm taking that positive and am trying to build on it. I've had a lot of ideas lately about a possible series after this one, and I might actually start writing them down. I'm getting closer to arranging those ethnographies, as well. I need to outline some things before I start, and chisel out some time to brainstorm on ideas. The meetup has been strangely unhelpful for that, but then, I haven't really been helping myself, either, by attending. The group will be visiting the local book festival this weekend, the same book festival that I read at last year. I hadn't thought at all about participating again (on account of the horror last year) until the meetup reminded me of it. Suddenly, it was August again, and I hadn't done enough networking. This is also about the same time of year that I promise to do better in 2014. Maybe I'll write an angry letter to myself.

In other news, I, in fact, was the loser of the third place run off. Ten or so people voted, and I got one of them. I suspect it was a pity vote because the woman posted about how much she loved someone else's story, and said nothing of mine. I got an email today from the site moderator about me checking out this month's story competition. I had already read about it, and wasn't interested. I thought to tell him that I was considering dropping from the site entirely, because it wasn't providing me with anything that I joined up for. I'm interested in getting better, and I can practice writing alone. With others, I need feedback, and I'm just not getting any. I posted things, all over the site, poetry, fiction, contest submissions. But, before writing any of that in an email, I decided to check and see if there were any more replies, and found this:

Re: J.E. Cammon's Diablo Canyon submission titled:
"Man in a Bottle"


Hola J.E.!

Quite frankly, at first, I had no particular idea just where 
you were headin' with this little western tale of yours. 
However, as i got more and more involved in its semi-
paranoid posture and purpose, I began to realize that 
I was being drawn into the protagonist's (Rupert) sad and 
shameful woeful western world.

I felt as though I were right there in the cell with the shamed,
sequestered sheriff of yesteryear. His dipsomaniacal dreams
and nightmares were 'sloshin'' all around us...both!

After his years of service, Sheriff Rupert had become nothing
more than the tumbleweed town's front porch whispered laughing-
stock. Now, just a shadow of his former self, hiding and hungry 
beneath his cot...thirsty, thirsty, ever thirsty and...doomed to
the shame and scars brought on by the demon rum distilled some-
where around and about the dark shadows of Diablo Canyon!

You see, I know first hand about those particular 'devils'. I've
bunked up with Rupert and Ruperts in my checkered past...
I've been there! 

Muy Bien Amigo! You have hit the proverbial nail on the head 
with this maudlin and melancholy visit into America's ol' west.

"4 out of 4 stars!"


Adios J.E., 
Doug
(Staff Reviewer/C&C)

Just in case you were curious, "Quite frankly, in the beginning, I had no idea where you were headin," is the kind of thing most people say about my writing. It confuses people, and splits readers into a majority that assumes I don't know what I'm doing, and a minority that thinks I just might have some skill. Neither group understands what is going on, though. I do wonder a little at what happened between this person reading my story, the voting, and this person reading my story in such a way that would make him write such a reaction.

But I guess if I knew what to do to make things better, that'd make it all too easy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Playing nice

The book's out. The chat went well. I even met another author whose story struck me as interesting. He channeled his own debilitating illness into his main character. It was interesting. Write what you know, they say. I figure if I release fifty or so books, at this rate, I'll have fifty or so business contacts, people I met here and there. We exchanged emails once a month, were seen in the same photo twice a lifetime. Well, I hope it snowballs.

The results for that writing contest came back as well, and I got a tie for third. Doubt I'll win the breaker. There aren't a lot of authors on the site, but most of them seem to know each other from wherever they were recruited from. Which isn't necessarily bad, just bad for me. In their posts, I can hear the familiarity they have with one another. I can see their body language, and I realize now the difference between all the specific steps professional contests take to better insure objectivity and why they exist. I'm just a random guy who showed up, and I don't quite have the ice-smashing social presence to make friends easily. I'm not thinking of quitting, but I am skipping August's writing event.

Last weekend went somewhat poorly. I didn't write. I don't necessarily feel stifled, just... occupied. I'm letting life get in the way. At the very least, I made some headway on the sci fi universe's development. I finally was able to read someone else's ethnography and see what they meant through their use of the word. It was very helpful, and very detailed. I'm a little intimidated by the work I have to do, mostly because I don't know where the time is. Another instance where I'll have to manufacture it. And I just put my time machine up on shelf, too.

Also, the meet up where I learned about that interesting technique is happening again on Sunday. My knee jerk feeling is not to go. I get less work done. It's just a fact, and I can't really understand doing something that's going to result in less progress. Yet I feel I should express some gratitude to those people for helping me out, so what is a few hours in the grand scheme? It wouldn't be the first time that random, flippant action resulted in unexpected results. The first time this month, even.

So maybe I'll rethink all my anti social thoughts. Maybe.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Time after time after time after

Thursday evening I was supposed to be "sitting in a chat room" (I just realized how weird that is. I would be in my apartment, but simultaneously in a chat...) talking to readers and others about my fourth release, Where Shadows Lie: Campaign Trails. I was not, but not because I missed it, or was conscientiously objecting. I was not because the chat didn't happen, because the release didn't happen. I post from the publisher's email to the authors:

"It's not any one thing but a cascade of problems with multiple people this time that have backed up everything. I feel I owe it to you to do this release right."

The CEO did not go onto to say what those problems were, or who those people were, or even how we could help, but I am happy to say there hasn't been a lot of public speculation on it, either. And I feel pretty sure it wasn't me. The edits were done for my book a month ago, and I have already made my peace with certain changes that will be made that will make the book worse, and me look stupid. Seriously. 

I also dropped off in regards to updating this blog everyday. More sketches are coming. The weird thing is, I wanted to do all the modern-setting sketches at once before I started in on the sci-fi and the fantasy. I didn't want to go back and forth. For some reason that was important. Moreover, I thought I had more sketches from the WSL books. However when I thought about the exposition that I've done, and the slices of exposure that were already in the books to be read, I ended up with less than I thought. I normally include characters' motivations and reasons in there somewhere, to make empathy easier. Only in the case of characters like Maggie and Claus was it more like "through inferences, the reader can tell that these are hunters. They hunt. Moving on." And I suspect it'll be the same for the sci-fi stuff, although here recently I've learned about using ethnography to create believable worlds and societies, so I'll be doing some of that, too.

And the meetup I'm attending today is the place where I learned about all that. I wrote earlier this morning. Chapter six drafted, and pretty pleased with it. So, I won't be attempting to work through thoughts while divining smells and getting comfortable in foreign furniture. I will be trying to read some of the other entries in the western sci-fi contest I entered. It wouldn't be right for me to vote without having gone through all the entries. And hopefully everyone else is of the same mindset. The owner of the site maintains that a new edition is coming out soon, taking into account all the work that's been submitted since July. I have to admit I had much higher hopes earlier than I do now, but it isn't necessarily bad. It's just early, and new. Everything seems to bend back around to patience. 

Every, damn time.