What I struggle against

Advice from around the Internets...

"Don't spend a long time on your book. Speed is the key to success. Plan on taking a couple of months to write it, edit it, format it and put it out there as an e.book."

"Nobody's first novel gets published because everybody's first novel sucks."

"Any book priced higher than $2.99 is a ripoff."

"Traditional publishing is for suckers."

"How to tell if your book is destined for failure: it features a) vampires; b) zombies; c) superheroes; or d) obscure jokes that 90% of people won't get."

"If you don't have AT LEAST 10,000 friends on Facebook, your promotions won't result in any sales."

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Today is a Milestone

Today is a milestone in the timeline of the novel formerly known as "Goodbye Grammarian". Yesterday, I exported the project from yWriter5 into a single RTF document. All the notes on plots and scenes, the character sketches, the chapter descriptions, the "To Do" lists, the revisions... all the scaffolding and detritus that goes into writing a novel was left behind. The new RTF file contains only the 113,188 words of text that the reader will see. It went into a brand new folder in Dropbox.

But yesterday wasn't the milestone.

Today is the milestone because, when I needed to go into the book to fix some typos, I didn't open up yWriter5, my preferred software for writing. I opened MS Word to edit the RTF directly. Also, I ran a full spelling and grammar check on the text, made sure the whole thing is formatted consistently with 12 pt Times New Roman, and gave it page numbers and line numbers. Not only that, I formatted the first page to submission-standard, including typing out the new title.

Today is a milestone because today is the day that I stop writing and editing this book. Today is the day that I begin formatting this book for submission and querying.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

#FridayFlash: Three Days

"I can't make it that night, sorry."

"I'd love to, but I've got a deadline coming up."

"Can we reschedule it for next week? Thursday is really bad for me. No, the weekend's going to be crazy, too. How does next Tuesday work for you?"

* * *

The lies came so smoothly to his lips. Hiding behind his prevarications and easy dissemblances, he let them all think he was just as human as they. Where was the vein of normalcy that ran through his own soul? Could it yet be traced amid the heavy overburden of dross and slag? Buried so deeply beneath the constructed falsehoods of his life... was it even still there? After all this time, after so many years living the way he did, how much true humanity was left to him?

He opened the basement door and went down the stairs.

No time to ask such questions... there was never time. In the immediate aftermath of his transformations, his mind recoiled, his soul rebelled at confronting the truth. Even as he dealt with the fruits of his savagery, spending days setting a'right the chaos he'd wrought, he denied the truth about who and what he was.

By the time he came to the middle weeks, he could live entirely within that denial. He could pretend to live fully in the light, pretend to be a man of business, pretend to laugh with friends, pretend to lose himself in the arms of his lovers. He could pretend to be as human as everyone around him.

But when the last week of the month came, when the moon hung fat in the sky... there was no pretense that could save him, no illusion that could deny the essential truth he carried within himself.

The burning light of the moon penetrated through pathetic wishes and dreams just as easily as it did through steel and stone.

In the back wall, set into the soundproofed concrete, the heavy steel door swung smoothly on wrist-thick hinges. He stepped inside the vault and pulled the door closed behind him. The gearing turned, the twelve bolts slid home into their sockets and the time lock clicked.

The room was clean and pleasant. Light shone from recessed panels high above, the darkness kept at bay by day-spectrum fluorescent lights in shatter-proof covers. From small, titanium-reinforced grills in the ceiling, whispered breezes were scented alternately with flowers, baby powder and freshly baked bread. The steel walls were painted on all sides with a trompe l'oeil landscape scene, an illusion that made the room feel much larger than it was.

Only the deep gouges spoiled the effect. Long, thin strips of the underlying gray steel were exposed where the paint had been torn away.

He sat down to wait. In three days the door would open again. In three days he could return to the mockery of a life that he'd constructed for himself. In three days he would again run from the truth and wrap himself in happy, comfortable, sweet lies.

It was less than an hour after the door locked him in that he felt the first burning touch of the full moon's light.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Fat people in space

In the midst of fevered half-sleep yesterday, as I fought off a cold (compounded by stress and fatigue), my mind wandered o'er many a strange and wondrous landscape. One of these was an intricate disquisition on fat people in space. (Stay with me, OK?)

The challenges of plantetary spaceflight are many and varied. One of the most pressing, however, is that of the food and water supply for the astronauts. Setting aside all other concerns of vitamins, minerals, bone density, fiber adequacy with respect to blood sugar, etc., etc., any calculation of total food requirements for the trip goes like this:

(X people)(Y days in space) = Z calories needed

This is a calculation that's unchanged since Odysseus, Eric the Red or Columbus set sail, or since Lewis and Clark took off across the plains. You have to either start off with enough food for the tip, or plan on getting food along the way and/or when you arrive. Hunting, fishing, or trading with the locals can extend your food supply, as can eating the sled dogs and cannibalism. Close rationing, starvation, etc., calories consumed per day can be reduced, further extending the food supply. In the end, though, people gotta eat.

This is where the fat comes in. Most of the disadvantages of being enormously obese are obviated in the zero gravity of space. Bone stresses, blood pressure, diaphragm compression, sleep apnea, impairment of mobility ... this aren't issues anymore.

Here's the plan: in the year leading up to the deep space mission, the astronauts gain 300 pounds each. Each pound of fat represents 3500 calories. On earth, an adult weighing 500 pounds burns about 3000 calories a day; in space, this would be closer to 2000. If in a drug-induced artificial hibernation (for a space colonist), it would be closer to 500 calories per day.

An in-body store of 300 pounds of fat would equal 1,050,000 calories. That's 525 days for an active, alert astronaut, or 2100 days for a cold-sleeping colonist, with no extra calories consumed at all. It gets better than that, actually, since as the individual dropped from 500 pounds to 400, 300, 200 and finally at 130 pounds, their daily calorie requirement would drop as well, further extending the calorie-value of their fat stores.

Also, if you amputate their legs before takeoff, calorie needs drop by almost 20%. Who needs legs in space?

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

How to read a pubishing contract

Since this is one of the hot issues in the discussion of my previous post about the Harper Voyager open submission window, I thought I'd give a link to this post at the Stroppy Author's Guide to Publishing, entitled How to Read a Publishing Contract.
Don't assume your contract is non-negotiable. And don't be so pathetically grateful the want to publish your book that you accept any outrageous terms they offer you. Publishing is a business and no matter how friendly and reassuring your editor, they want to make as much money out of the deal as they can. Don't take any notice of arguments like 'we never use that clause'. If they don't use it, it doesn't need to be there. If 'it's just the standard contract' you say that's fine as a starting point but now you are going to make it suitable to you and your book. If they say 'no one has ever objected before' that means either they're lying or no one has read the contract properly and taken a professional approach. So  - put your angry eyes in and let's look at that contract!

Lots of great links in this clearinghouse post. Go check it out!

p.s. I'm neither a lawyer nor an agent. If there's any serious money on the line, don't rely on your own amateur judgement, no matter how many webpages you've read.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Sex, violence and advancing the plot

Today over at Write Anything, I discuss sex scenes: why we write them, why they work, why they don't and how they fit within the context of the book. Also, I tell you how my mother reacted to the sex scenes I put in my first novel.

Go check it out.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

A rush to submission

Change of plans: I'm not going to take a slow and steady approach to editing my Grammarian novel, like I said I would. I'm going to get it done ASAP, and even went so far as to lean a bit more on my astonishingly supportive and forgiving beta readers.

Why take this risky approach? Because Harper Voyager has an open submission window from October 1 - 14:
The manuscripts will then be read and those most suited to the global Harper Voyager list will be selected jointly by editors in the USA, UK and Australia.  Accepted submissions will benefit from the full publishing process: accepted manuscripts will be edited; and the finished titles will receive online marketing and sales support in World English markets.
Voyager will be seeking an array of adult and young adult speculative fiction for digital publication, but particularly novels written in the epic fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, dystopia and supernatural genres.

This book is almost ready to leave the nest; I'm confident that I can make it good enough to submit before this window closes. (Note: I didn't say I could make it PERFECT. See this blog post for my thoughts on perfect writing.)

The submission guidelines include a couple of important nuggets:
  • The desired book length is 80,000 - 120,000 words.
  • Consideration window is three months. If you haven't heard back by then, you can assume you didn't make the cut.
  • Accepted titles will come out digitally, with a maybe-perhaps-possibly option for a print run.
  • The titles from these "new exciting voices"will be published at a rate of one title per month, after the editing and production period is complete.
My book is 113,000 words, I can wait out three months, I'm cool with e.books and I'm new and exciting. A perfect fit!

Seriously, though, I know that winging my Grammarian novel into a slush tsunami is not a high-probability endeavor, but this kind of externally imposed deadline helps me to get things done. If nothing comes of it, I still have a finished manuscript to carry forward to the next step. Also, I can still be querying agents during these three months. Furthermore, if lightning does strike, it's easier to get an agent if you already have an offer from a publisher.

Plan for success, people. Nobody ever got anywhere aspiring to mediocrity.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Editing and reading aloud

I'm in the process of using comments from my beta readers to edit my Grammarian novel WIP. So far, my betas have agreed on many of the typos, have agreed that my consistent use of the AP stylebook standard for serial commas is inappropriate for a novel, and have agreed that the plot is pretty good.

My betas have disagreed about one subplot ("disliked it", "thought it was great"), a leading female character ("terrific", "annoying"), a supporting male character ("awesome", "flat... not much there"), some of the dialogue ("don't summarize... go into more detail", "goes on too long... too much detail"), and some other odds and ends.

I'm still waiting on more beta comments. Those will no doubt prompt more revisions. After that, I'll take a hard look at the final length and see how much I need to cut in order to get it back down to ~100K. Since my baby is at ~114K now, that's going to mean some slicing. Naturally, since every paragraph is a gem and every scene is a treasure, this will be a painful episode of cutting.

After that, I will read the book aloud. A normal talking pace is ~100 wpm, but a reading performance pace will vary from that for any given scene, depending on what's going on. I figure 100K will take about ~18 hours of steady reading. If I can devote an hour a day to the reading aloud, that's almost three weeks.

Note that the time estimate is JUST for the reading, not the subsequent editing. I'm planning on reading from a print copy, circling clumsy spots as I go. They'll just get a bright red TKTK so I can go back into the word processor later.  If I were to stop to fix things as I go, just the reading would take forever.

After that, it'll be decision time. I'll either have to start pitching it to agents or format it for self-publishing.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

#FridayFlash: The Old Man in the Corner

For the fourth time, or maybe the fifth, the young man at the bar looked at the old man sleeping in the corner booth. His first quick glances had given way to longer, more inquisitive looks. Now he was openly staring. He had that mixed expression young people get when they look at old people - a mixture of amusement, condescension and curiosity.

The old man wasn't rumpled and scuzzy looking. On the contrary, he was clean shaven, his thin gray hair was clean and trimmed, and he was dressed in a normal, plaid flannel shirt. He just happened to be leaning against the wall, snoring lightly as he slept away the quiet afternoon in the corner booth of McGurk's.

Grinning, the young man turned to address the bartender in a low voice.

"I guess some guys start early, huh?"

The bartender glanced over at the old man, then returned his gaze to the young man. There was a moment, then a moment more before the bartender shrugged and went back to washing glasses.

"I just meant it's a little early in the day to be that far gone, you know?" The young man's voice betrayed him, even if his still-grinning face did not. Under the friendly invitation to share the joke, there was a trace of confusion, and perhaps also of embarrassment. He nodded in the old man's direction. "Is he a regular?"

The sound of running water filled in the pause before the bartender answered.

"You don't know who that is?"

"No. Should I?"

The bartender gave another shrug, a complex movement that extended from his fingertips to his elbows and shoulders and that went right up to his eyebrows and the inclination of his head. It was clearly an eloquent encapsulation of some complex expression, an entire set of emotions and life-perspectives conveyed in a moment, but whatever the bartender intended by it, the young man apparently failed to understand.

"Not really. I just thought you might recognize him."

The young man turned and stared at the old man for almost a minute.

"OK, I give up. Who is he?"

"That's Tony Noland."

"Tony who?"

"Tony Noland. With his first book, the New York Times called him the greatest writer of his generation. Later on the critics said he was right up there with Ernest Hemingway, Anthony Trollope and Edith Wharton."

"No kidding?" The young man stared again, his curiosity mixed with new respect. "What did he write?"

"Tony Noland wrote a grand total of seven novels: 'Sunlight Through the Elms', 'The Seas of Tomorrow', 'Where Darkness Grows', 'The Missionary's Position', 'Currents of the Solar Wind', 'The Nation of Love' and 'The Temptation of St. Helen'. Every one of them made the critics weep."

"Wow. So that's Tony Noland, huh?"

"Yep. You ever read any of his books?"

The young man shook his head. "No, not exactly. My English teacher made us read part of 'The Temptation of St. Helen' in sophomore year of high school. I couldn't really get into it. I don't recognize any of the other titles."

Wiping the wet glasses with a rag towel, the bartender gave another shrug.

In the quiet bar, the sounds of light snoring still came from the corner.

"So... he just comes in here and sleeps?"

"He says this is where he wrote all those books. That was thirty years ago, long before I bought the place, but he says this is a good place to get ideas. He still comes here to write. See that notebook computer on the seat beside him? He has a beer or two, takes a little nap then wakes up and starts typing."

"What do you mean, he still writes? I thought Tony Noland must be dead by now. That St. Helen book came out a long time ago. My English teacher said that was his best one, and that he hadn't written anything since."

The bartender didn't respond. All the glasses were washed, dried and put away, ready for the happy hour crowd, still some hours away. He crossed his arms and looked at the young man.

"Have you ever read any of those Buzz Killzip books?"

The young man sat up in surprise. "Buzz Killzip, the robot detective? Sure, I've read 'em all. They're hilarious."

"Did you see the Buzz Killzip movies?"

"Sure, didn't everybody? The first two movies were terrific, but personally, I thought the third one was a little lame. It didn't really capture the spirit of the books, you know?"

"Ever read anything else by Val Janneke?"

"Of course. I've read the Laser Lamonte series, the Antimatter Squad books, and even the Mystic Empire fantasy trilogy. I don't usually go in for swords-and-sorcery, but I liked the way Val Janneke wrote them. I hear they signed Peter Jackson to do the Mystic Empire movies. Why?"

The bartender nodded at the old man in the corner.

"That's Val Janneke, too."

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

When is it finished?

Over at Write Anything, I tackle the question of "When is it finished?". How do you know when your book/poem/story/etc. is done? My answer, not surprisingly, is that the question itself is flawed. I offer a better question - with a better answer - that makes for much better writing advice.

Pop on over and take a look.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Icy Sedgwick on Promotional Opportunities

I'm pleased to have a guest blog today by the talented UK writer Icy Sedgwick. She's been working like crazy lately, finishing up a new book and revisiting the book she had published last year by Pulp Press. For this blog, Icy tackles one of the subjects that makes even experienced writers queasy: how to promote the book after it's out.


A lot of writers like to discuss their writing processes, which often involve how many times they talk to their muse per day, how much coffee they consume, or what software they use. It's all very interesting and I love reading about how the writing experience changes from person to person, but what many writers rarely cover is their promotional processes. How do they get their books out there in front of people?

If my Twitter feed is anything to go by, then some writers feel that a link to the Amazon page posted every hour is good promo. Others try automated direct messages. Other writers try strategies that are more likely to work, such as giveaways, blog tours, promotional events and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. So what exactly do I do?

My pulp novella, The Guns of Retribution, came out for the Kindle on 10 September 2011. Looking back, I really don't think I did as much promotion as I could have done. I tweeted a few links, posted links on Facebook, and answered questions on my blog. Not really very impressive. As its first anniversary rolled around, I figured I'd do something more. After all, the paperback came out two weeks after the e-book, so I decided to hold a two week celebration of the book, and its genre, on my blog and I can pretty much pin down what I did to five things.

1) Guest posts.
This is my fifth guest post for the period. So far, I've discussed pulp as a genre, the challenges of writing a Western, why the genre appealed to me as a UK writer, and how the character of my protagonist, Grey O'Donnell, evolved throughout the whole writing process. I haven't wanted to just sit there saying "This is my book, buy it" so I've tried to make the posts into discussions about topics, and hopefully discussions that other writers can take something from. Even if you don't buy my book, but you're inspired to try writing a Western story, then that's still something positive. I suppose I’m not just advertising The Guns of Retribution but also the Western as a viable genre.

2) Free stories.
If someone has never read your book, posting a free story to introduce them to the character can be a good way to whet their appetite. Grey appeared in a Christmas Friday flash last year but I decided to use the two Fridays within my two week period to feature stories about him. The Bounty, posted on Friday, told the tale of how he got into bounty hunting in the first place. Mahko, to be posted this Friday, tells the tale of how Grey first encountered his Apache sidekick.

3) Bonus material.
Sometime last year I wrote three interconnecting stories based around the fabled Dead Man's Hand, the hand of cards that Wild Bill Hickok allegedly held when he was shot in the back in a Deadwood saloon. The first story tells the story of Edmund Rothers, an English gambler murdered by Blackjack Bud Hudson. Hudson is the man that Grey is hunting in The Guns of Retribution, and I thought making the stories available would be a good way to give some backstory for those who've read the book. I also included the first chapter of Guns as a sample for those who haven't. I wanted Dead Man’s Hand to be a free download but Amazon wouldn't let me make it free for any longer than five days, so the book can be downloaded as a Kindle file, an epub or a PDF from my website until Monday.

4) Pinterest.
I spent some time selecting quotes from The Guns of Retribution, and then I created 'quotes pages' with them, giving them an Old West feel and illustrating them with Western imagery. They're easy to repin, they're quick to view, and hopefully they'll spark some interest. So far I only have four on my board but I'm planning to create more. Some writing blogs question the wisdom of posting quotes out of context, but I decided to turn them into slices of visual design, so hopefully it'll work.

5) Branding.
For each of the posts on my blog during this period, I've been adding my own graphic. I'm not just branding the book, which has already been done, I'm actually branding the posts as belonging to the book. It's a way of signposting the blog but also highlighting that the post is about The Guns of Retribution and its first anniversary. You need to really own your little section of cyber space and by branding your posts, you create a narrative for your blog, and for your book. In advertising they'd call this brand awareness, and it's not really any different if you're a writer.

Obviously these are what I’m trying out and I won’t know for a few weeks whether or not they’ve been successful, but feel free to try them out yourself. But what other tools or techniques do you use within a promotional context?

Bio – Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and is based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She has had several stories included in anthologies, including Short Stack and Eighty-Nine. She teaches graphic design and spends her non-writing time working on a PhD in Film Studies. Icy had her first book, a Western named The Guns of Retribution, published through Pulp Press in September 2011.

Find me on Twitter @icypop
Buy The Guns of Retributionhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/1908544007/

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

The "No Idea" Blog Post, Part 2: Editing

I'm working on meeting deadlines at the moment, so I'll make this quick: "Why Editing Matters"

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

The Acknowledgements Section

One of the things I've tried to do during the writing of this
Grammarian novel is be mindful of who helped me along the way. Now
that I'm writing in the post-beta edits, I'm also working on an
acknowledgments section, so I can thank them all.

Beta readers are front and center, as are the editors at Write
Anything. I'm giving shout-outs to NaNoWriMo and to specific
individuals who have given encouragement along the way. Supportive
family and friends, of course, and professional colleagues will get
laurels as well.

Who else? Who do you list in your acknowledgement section?

Sent from my mobile device

Flash fiction and poetry anthologies, now available.
Buy your copy today!

Buy my books: http://amazon.com/author/tonynoland<http://amazon.com/author/tonynoland%20>
Read my blog: http://www.TonyNoland.com/
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TonyNoland
Friend me on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/aSvNy1

#FridayFlash: DADT Is Alive And Well

The Commandant had read three reports like this since taking over the Academy twenty-two years ago. By design, they buried and obfuscated the important information. Reporters were like those burrowing scarab beetles in Iraq - as happy to bite their way into living flesh as they were to strip the meat from a corpse. However cold and self-serving, though, reporters weren't stupid; any public figure who made the mistake of thinking they could be outwitted ended up being consumed by them.

Still, there was no need to make their job any easier. His goal was to slow them down long enough for another, fresher scandal to present itself and draw them off.

The report itself was one hundred eighty-one pages long, including the appendices with the forensics, the photographs, and the interview transcripts from witnesses, commanders, squad mates and others who knew the two dead cadets. The conclusion section took another eleven pages to restate the facts and restate the conclusions drawn from them. The media packet was six pages. The executive summary was a single page, presenting in nine bullet points the brief military careers and untimely deaths of Senior Cadet Liam Brendan O'Shaunnasy (Little Neck, Long Island, NY) and Cadet Caleb Joshua Marshfield (Corbetville, MO).

He looked again at the top page.

Two fine young men, noted scholars and leaders among their peers, the prides of their respective hometowns. Both from military families - a long line of officers for O'Shaunnasy, a long line of proud grunts and jarheads for Marshfield. Bright futures tragically cut short by an accident in a nighttime training exercise on the ropes course. They fell together from the top platform, fifty feet above the ground, each working to save the lives of the rest of the squad as the platform collapsed. Their actions showed the sterling qualities of heroism and self-sacrifice that made them each a model cadet. Their loss was the nation's loss. Although their families can take but little comfort, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...

Officially, the platform collapsed because the steel pins used in a critical support plate were corroded. In a separate assessment, strictly verbal and not included in the report, the base engineer concluded that the pins had been hacksawed through. Not enough to make the platform fall, but enough to make it lurch under the weight of an entire squad. The squad was never in any real danger.

The Commandant picked up the envelope that had been slipped under his door. It contained a single slip of paper, barely bigger than a return address label, with a single sentence anonymously laser printed in 12 pt Times New Roman.

"DADT - suicide pact"

He looked out at the night through his darkened windows. The phone would eventually stop ringing, the reporters would find a new bone to chew on, the FOI requests would go away, the lawsuits would be settled. Life at the Academy would go on.

But not for Senior Cadet O'Shaunnasy and Cadet Marshfield. Not for Liam and Caleb.

There were lessons in courage that he and the Academy could impart to his charges... how to face the enemy, how to kill, how to lead, how to find the best within yourself. How is it that he had never thought to teach his students how to face up to their own families? How to tell the truth about who they are, and who they might love? That "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was all about lies and concealment, not truth and honor?

He couldn't immediately revise the curriculum to start teaching that character message. Those two young men had arranged their own lover's deaths rather than admit who they were to their families. He was not going to ruin that by being hasty and giving someone the chance to connect the dots.

With a firm hand, the Commandant balled up the slip of paper, chewed it thoroughly and swallowed it.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Ask Me Anything

Since today is my birthday, you can ask me anything.

Leave a comment with your question and I'll respond to them over the weekend.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Superhero book, superheroes on my mind

Since I'm writing a superhero book, superheroes have (naturally) been on my mind of late.

Like this:

Well... maybe not EXACTLY like that.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Wednesday #limerick: hinge, lethal, need

Each Wednesday, I compose a limerick based on the prompt from Three Word Wednesday. Today's words are: hinge, lethal, need  (it's more fun if you read it aloud - try it!):

  Does clean writing hinge on clean living?
Then my mental dinge needs forgiving.
With a mind full of muck,
I'll need a dump truck.
So lethal, wants more than mere sieving.

    ~~~~~ * * * ~~~~~

I think we can all look back on all those times we tortured helpless animals and set innocent people on fire, can't we? Those are the universal experiences of adolescence that we all share, aren't they?

Um... aren't they?

My book of limericks inspired by Three Word Wednesday is FREE to borrow from Amazon:

"They made me laugh, they made me sad, they made me think and squirm and reflect. ... Tony Noland has a way with words that is nothing short of astonishing" - Jeff Posey, Amazon review

That's right, FREE. Of course, if you're not in Amazon Prime, it still only costs $0.99. That's less than a coffee. And I'm not talking Starbuck's, I'm talking about the burnt mud they sell at the convenience store. It's worth the buck - you'll love it!

Don't have a Kindle? NO PROBLEM! Get one of the free Kindle apps for PC, Mac, iPhone, Android and a host of other devices. You can read "Poetry on the Fly" (or any of my other great writing) anywhere you like!

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

The next book will be...

I've been using this beta hiatus from "Goodbye Grammarian" to consider what's next. I needed a break from novel writing, to recharge my long-form batteries and to think about which new novel I should start writing. There are any number of half-finished projects I could take up again, but there is also a new concept that would be fun to work on.

Projects that I've previously abandoned are inherently risky. They carry with them the baggage of the writer I was two years ago (or five years ago). I'm a better writer now than I was then, with a Authorial Voice that is truer, stronger and more authentic. I know my Authorial Voice is truer, stronger and more authentic because, even if I still don't know what the hell my Authorial Voice is, I know that I don't worry about it nearly as much as I used to - I just write. Less deliberate phoniness = authenticity.

For good or ill, this is how my writing really sounds. Therefore, to resume just where I left off is not really a tenable thing to do. I'd have to look at the underlying concepts and see if any one of them still appeals to me. Is it gripping enough to be worth a full re-write? Or is it better to keep those partially written novels where they are, cherish them for the lessons they taught me, and move on to bigger and better things?

Furthermore, assuming I work on a new idea, which one? I haven't really decided.

Regardless, reports and recommendations from my WIP beta readers are starting to come in. The beta hiatus is coming to an end, and the next round of editing will commence.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

The origin of the Grammarian

Fans of my Facebook author page just got a teaser excerpt from "Goodbye Grammarian", discussing his origins and how he got his powers.

You ARE a fan of my Facebook author page, right?

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Adult entertainment, 1987: Leisure Suit Larry

In my #FridayFlash this week, "The Grammarian vs. Laser Suit Larry", there is an obvious play on one of the old heroes of computer gaming, Leisure Suit Larry. It seems incredible to me that anyone might NOT know who Leisure Suit Larry is, but just in case:
Leisure Suit Larry is a series of adventure games written by Al Lowe and published by Sierra from 1987 to 2009. The main character, is Larry Laffer who, though still somewhat lovable, is a balding, dorky, double entendre-speaking, leisure suit-wearing "loser" in his 40s. The games follow him as he spends much of his life trying (usually unsuccessfully) to seduce attractive women.
The Leisure Suit Larry games were among the most groundbreaking of their time for Western audiences. They showed that computer games could be based around adult subjects like sex. While dating sims and hentai porn games were filling a market for Japanese gamers, in America, computer games were for kids and Peter Pans.

Even today, mainstream American games that have overt sexual themes are rare. In fact, I can't think of any. Now as then, when Leisure Suit Larry ruled the roost (or tried to, desperately), the game must be heavily leavened with humor to defang the sex.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

The Grammarian vs. Laser Suit Larry

Most of the security features of the First National Bank were the same as those found in every other bank in Lexicon City. Heavy steel doors, duralinium steel vaults, electronic locks, bulletproof glass and other physical controls were augmented by personnel controls: security guards on rotating shifts, extensive background checks, regular drug screenings and lie detector tests. However, the First National Bank also added an extensive electronic intrusion security system, meant to protect the banks of computer servers in a subbasement. The computers regulated the flow of currency in and out of the Lexicon City Stock Exchange, the second largest such exchange in the world. Almost a trillion dollars moved through the system every day; only London handled slightly more.

London was next on the list to be hit.

Getting past the physical security had been tricky for Laser Suit Larry, but with his ability to manipulate light in all its forms, the supervillain was a master at overcoming any obstacle that stood in his way. Impulse waves of coherent laser light deactivated cameras and sensors, extreme blue-shifting of the infra-red security sweeps made them ideal for sending electronic override signals through steel and concrete. Doors opened for him, bars swung away and alarms stayed silent as he moved through the dark halls. Reflexively, he bent the ambient light around himself, leaving only a faint outline for any would-be observer.

The hallway outside the server room was crisscrossed with green laser beams, glinting as dust motes moved in the air. It was the work of only a moment to refract the beams to create an unobstructed path to the final door. He stepped around the pressure pads in the floor and over the high-voltage tripwires to approach to iris scanning camera. With a simple projection from his gold chest medallion, he tricked the system into thinking he was the chief IT specialist. The door clicked open and Laser Suit Larry slipped into the chilly, noisy server room.

Standard IT security meant that the computers had already logged his entry. Part of the job would be to tell the computers to rewrite their own access logs, as well as the security logs for the rest of the building. By the time he was done, all trace of his actions tonight would be wiped away.

He took a fist-sized device from his pocket and looked for the best bundle of fiber optic cables to clip it to. The volume of data the First National Bank handled meant using fiber optics instead of regular copper cables; it made this a perfect target for someone with his unique skill set. It had taken him almost a year to build and test his little frequency-shifting quantum laser interferometer, but it was the most brilliant piece of technology he'd ever created. By taking an instantaneous fast-Fourier analysis of pingback decay rates from a twinned-muon quantum echo flux emission, his little box would be able to record every signal in the main data trunk, both coming and going, then remodulate them and send them on their way again.

Once he had his device in place, he'd be continuously sipping from the flow of sensitive electronic information. If he used it to draw off tiny bits of currency, even if he limited himself to pulling 0.0001% from 0.0001% of the transactions, he would be fabulously rich within days. However, the sensitive information on the trades and transactions was far more valuable, and much less risky to steal. There were people who would pay handsomely for such information, if they could get it before anyone else. Grinning, he removed the cover to a fiber optic junction box and fitted his super snooper among the tightly packed bundles. When it was activated, he sent the signal to have it rewrite the computer logs, then picked up the box cover to replace it.

He never made it. As he tried to fit it in place onto the junction box, he found that it wouldn't fit. No longer working smoothly together, the two parts were jarring and clunking against a mass of sentence fragments, their ragged ends preventing things from coming together properly.

"Give it up, Larry," said a voice behind him, "there's no way out of this."

Laser Suit Larry dropped the cover and spun around. In a dark corner, the Grammarian was shimmering into visibility as a thick layer of obfuscation evaporated away. His hands were outstretched, pointing directly at the supervillain.

"I told the bank president that I'd wait for you to actually install your device and turn it on," the hero said, "so that the D.A. could prosecute on actual data theft, rather than just on intent to commit electronic espionage."

"I'm NOT going back to prison, Grammarian!" With a snarl of frustration, the supervillain fired his pulsed ruby laser, powerful enough to melt steel. The room flashed red as the ruby-array laser discharged in a buzzing explosion of light.

With lighting-fast reflexes, the Grammarian countered with a cascade of blue language, a shockingly potent blast of profanity that stunned Laser Suit Larry even as it impacted his laser beam. The two streams met and mixed, red and blue energies cascading outward in a flood of purple prose. The entire room was filled with the immensely turgid and convoluted sentences; every subject within reach was wrapped around and enmeshed throughout with long subordinate clauses filled to o'erflowing with flowery metaphors, arcane allegories replete with classical allusion and quotations from dead French poets.

The impenetrable word-cloud tied up Laser Suit Larry completely. He staggered back under the heavy onslaught and fell to the floor, trapped under the many layers of leaden, nearly incomprehensible sentences. The Grammarian, however, knew exactly how to deal with purple prose. With a mental command, he activated his Short-Range Sentence Diagrammer. The looping, interwoven sentences parted in a flash of clarity, falling away into discrete subunits. In moments, he stood with hand on hips, surrounded by a ring of neatly organized prepositional phrases, adverbs, adjectives and subordinate clauses. He cleared a path through the literary thicket, all the while flooding it with a steady stream of memetic energy to keep Laser Suit Larry bound in place.

"You're so predictable, Larry. You use that red chest laser every time. When are you going to learn?"

Cursing, the villain struggled against his bonds, trying in vain to change the tangle of sentences into photons so he could escape.

The Grammarian smiled. "Forget it. If you knew anything about literature, you'd know there's no way to make light of purple prose."


Look for the Grammarian's novel-length adventure, coming soon to a bookseller near you!

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

Paid reviews and the ethics of push-up bras

Joe Konrath has a post up in which he's proposing a "Writer's Code of Ethics" which addresses the issue of paying for reviews, blurbs, etc. This is deeply sarcastic, since publishing has always been a fantasy land of paid promotions, quid pro quo reviews, artificially hyped materials, one-hit wonders and Astroturfing.

So let's talk about deceptive marketing, shall we? (WARNING: contains an extended metaphor relating "books and marketing" to "jiggly bits and fancy underwear". Duh.)

You know your book is great. Other people have told you your book is great. You may have made it great yourself, you may have hired other people to make it a great book. Maybe you paid the editor and cover artist a flat rate as work-for-hire, maybe they get a percentage of sales. Regardless, you KNOW readers would love to get their hands on your junk. Any warm-blooded reader would have a great time with your volumes, and would be sure to tell all his friends how incredible they are.

But how to attract those readers in the first place? There are so many great books out there, and there are only so many eyeballs to go around. You don't want to LIE about your book, you don't want to MISREPRESENT your book, but you don't want your book to go unnoticed, either. It would be unethical to say that your book is something other than what it is, but surely it's OK to use some creative emphasis for the things that ARE part of your book, right?

So, you decide to pay for a little bit of... packaging. You enlist some help to highlight the most enticing parts of your book and push them out where people can see them. Accentuate a few lines here, reveal a bit of plot summary there, make sure readers can see the outline of your book's attributes, and PRESTO, your great book is now a knock-em-dead sexy book.
"After all", you say to yourself, "once the reader gets her hands on my big, thick, long book - 115,000 words! - she won't even notice that it's not quite exactly the book that the reviews and blurbs led her to believe it would be. Even after the packaging is gone and my book stands up on its own merits, she'll still love it, and she'll tell all her friends about it. After that, my little bit of marketing won't be necessary anymore."

There's no padding in any of this marketing, no fabrications or deliberate untruths. You're only paying for a little... extra emphasis. That's what marketing is all about, right?


Push-up bra image credit: "Liquid lift", by Fredrick's of Hollywood

Enhancement briefs image credit: "Shower assets", by Banglads

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

How to flirt

Each Wednesday, I compose a limerick based on the prompt from Three Word Wednesday. Today's words are: banter, duty, element  (it's more fun if you read it aloud - try it!):

For flirting, the element prime
is banter, so have a good time!
It's not just a prelude
so you can go lay nude;
not duty, but delight sublime.

    ~~~~~ * * * ~~~~~

Guys, don't skimp on the foreplay. After all, it's called foreplay for a reason. It's FUN!

My book of limericks inspired by Three Word Wednesday is FREE to borrow from Amazon:

"They made me laugh, they made me sad, they made me think and squirm and reflect. ... Tony Noland has a way with words that is nothing short of astonishing" - Jeff Posey, Amazon review

That's right, FREE. Of course, if you're not in Amazon Prime, it still only costs $0.99. That's less than a coffee. And I'm not talking Starbuck's, I'm talking about the burnt mud they sell at the convenience store. It's worth the buck - you'll love it!

Don't have a Kindle? NO PROBLEM! Get one of the free Kindle apps for PC, Mac, iPhone, Android and a host of other devices. You can read "Poetry on the Fly" (or any of my other great writing) anywhere you like!
===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

A test of Storify: musings about popularity

"Mr. Data, prepared to embed Storify HTML."

"Aye, sir. HTML embedding couplings - standing by."



===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.