Monday, July 30, 2007

Crime in Space!!!

It has been an interesting year for those of us who write about crime in space.

At one time, it was possible for someone to look at us science fiction writers and tell us that crime would never happen in space. Thanks to the events of this year, the sci-fi crime writers can present evidence that we were right all along.

Too bad, all of the evidence is coming out of NASA.

I understand the urge to believe that humanity will clean up its act as it leaves this planet. One would like to think that mankind escaping its ancestrial home as a moment of hope, rather than as the exportation of weeds and pests to lands that has never seen such a scrouge before. I am afraid that one of my friends is right--mankind is about as noble as a cockroach.

This year so far, we had one love triangle with a high speed car ride in an attempt to cut out the competition. We also had sabotage of two computers, and the reports that perhaps shuttle pilots are behind the controls while under the influence.

All of this speaks ill of humanity. And it makes me giddy as a schoolgirl, as I can rightfully exclaim, "Where humanity goes, vice and crime follow."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oh why?

Someone yesterday asked me why I thought that I felt that I was not going to make my goal of 50,000 words for the month. Quite honestly, I am just too far behind to catch up. And the world is just not cooperating with me either at the moment.

With what is starting to pile up on my desk, most of it lodge (Golden Dawn) related, it is easier to acknowledge that I am going to fail in this task than continue to pull my hair out.

Note that I am stubborn enough to continue working on it--I think that I can rescue part of it and make it into a publishable story. It is just realistically I have to choose which is more important--hacking out 50,000 words which I may or may not be able to use, or work on some Golden Dawn lectures that I know that I can recycle.

Considering Golden Dawn is my writing speciality, it wins.

Sooner or later, if you are a sucessful writer, you have to make choices like this. As a writer, and a businessman (I would use business person here, but it sounds tinny to my ear), you have to be aware of opportunity costs.

Opportunity cost for those who have not taken economics is defined as the best alternative to what you actually did. Before this opportunity to expand the lodge's lectures arose, the best alternative to writing the 50,000 words was to spend time writing for Helium, AC and CC--provided of course that writer's block or depression didn't raise its ugly head. And a few short submissions for the print market.

Now the opportunity cost if I continue to focus mainly on the 50,000 words will be a lost opportunity to expand the lodge's lessons (which I can harvest bits from to make a few dollars) and a good chance that my local Golden Dawn lodge can overcome its membership shortage. Considering that Bast Temple is my test field for my Golden Dawn writings, its membership is important to me. As is the SOM.

We are looking at the difference between a sure thing and a really long shot. At this point, I chose the sure thing. Mainly because it is a proved field for me.

Golden Dawn is one of the subjects that I can potboil. It is something that I am an expert on, that I can write rapidly, and that I have already established the setup for future PR campaigns. For me, despite the fact that a successful novel would result in more money, it is the better bet.

That is my logic. Besides it will be more exciting to attempt a whole novel in November; after all, November is term paper season.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I am not going to make it

Yesterday, I realized that there was just no way that I was going to succeed at writing 50,000 words this month. At least, not all on one project. If you count the blogs, the webpages, the miscellaneous articles, then I have been writing enough to accomplish it.

But because (true to form) I have been scattered among several projects, I am just simply not going to make it. In part, it is because I keep losing time to things outside of my control. For instance, Sunday originally was supposed to be a writing day. I ended up spending it in lodge business (meeting a new applicant) and research on a long term project. Necessary tasks.

I am going to lose this entire afternoon to necessary tasks (like how Saturday turned out), things that absolutely need to get done around the house.

Hopefully, I do better during November, the official National Novel Writing Month.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Another Fine Myth

One of my favorite books is Robert Asprin's Another Fine Myth. Today, I was leafing through it and saw one of my favorite sections of it. Let me share.

"Ah! What a shining example of civilization!" chortled Aahz exuberantly as he peered about him, delighted as a child on his first outing.

We were sauntering casually down one of the lesser used streets of Twixt. Garbage and beggars were strewn causually about while beady rodent eyes, human and inhuman, studied us from the darkened doors and windows. It was a cluster of buildings crouched around an army outpost which was manned more from habit than necessity. The soldiers we occasionally encountered had degenerated enough from the crisp recruiting poster model that it was frequently difficult to tell which seemed more menacing and unsavory, the guards or the obviously criminal types they were watching.

"If you ask me, it looks more like mankind at its worst!" I mumbled darkly.

"That's what I said, a shining example of civilization!"

Now, one of the hazards of being a writer is that you start to notice how other writers have put together the material of their craft (words). While this section is not E-Prime, it is still a masterful use of words.

Aahz chortled, not laughed, as he was acting like an excited kid. His companion, Skeeve, does not see what there is to get excited about. The author tosses trash around all over, bums and litter being the same (some politicians in my town feel that they are), while rodent eyes (criminals and rats) watch the main characters. He tops this all off with a description of the town and its original purpose, and the subsquent decline of its soldiers. Skeeve says what he thinks, and Aahz agrees (Aahz is not the type of being that you would take to the opera, or any place nice--it is nothing personal; I just suspect that he would consider stealing silverware and snores when he is bored).

In the space of 138 words, Asprin has established a new setting, showed us some conflict (different idealogies) between the two main characters, and made some social commentary. It is a brilliant piece of writing which illustrates why Another Fine Myth is one of my all-time favorite books.

Someday, I hope to be able to write that well.

Book Review of Another Fine Myth on Helium (by me, of course)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Holding the line...

Well, I haven't made much progress over the last two days of accomplishing my 50,000 words in a month. If I wanted to catch up completely today I would need to hack out 20309 words. But assuming that I just do the 1667 words for today, my word count shortage is down to 18,642 words.

Now, some of the writing yesterday was a "cheat." I went to the website for the National Novel Writing Month and looked around for inspiration. Which led me to an article, about last year's contest and how one of the writers a little short of her final count, and done with her story, decided to write a short message to her readers. I followed suit, through my address to my readers is in the first half of the novel.

And I regret to say that today promises to be another day where I just hold the line. I have accomplished some stuff today--market research mainly (another dozen sites that I might be able to sell writing to come this Fall), and did some dishes and laundry. Oh, and cleaned a couple of windows.

So maybe, now that I have jogged around the house, taking out the trash and scooping out the litter boxes, I can get myself to sit down and actually work on the novel. Wish me luck (as you can see I also wrote a blog), I am going to need it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Closing the gap...

Well, today I made some progress on catching up to where I should be at this point towards my 50,000 word goal for the month. And this despite allowing myself to get sidetracked some; I had a couple of other things requiring my attention today.

So at this point, I am at 7920 words, which is still well short of my goal. 18,752 words, in fact.

Nevertheless, I managed to complete the 1667 words I needed for today, and lessen the shortage by 483 words. This makes me feel good. And gives me hope that maybe I can do better tomorrow.

Golden Dawn Blogs

One of the things that I write because I want to is stuff about Golden Dawn.

Golden Dawn, for those of you who don't know, was a fraternal Order founded in 1888 by three members of the SRIA. It was formed for the purposes of studying esoteric philosphy; later its members started to study magic.

I became a member in March of 1992 when I joined Hathoor Temple. Currently, I am a member of Bast Temple and the BIORC. I hold an Administrative Grade, so that I can be elected to a specific office. My official Grade is Adept Minor Theoricus (Th.A.M.) though I am undergoing more training as a ZAM (Zelator Adept Minor).

Most of my writing takes the form of essays written for the lodge. Besides these I maintain two blogs, one personal and one as an officer of the Order.

A Brief History of Golden Dawn

Bast Temple (Golden Dawn in the Outer, BIORC in the Inner)

Gleamings from the Dawn--my personal non-official blog about Golden Dawn

Weekly Thoughts about Golden Dawn--the blog I maintain as part of my Order responsibilities

Market Research and Self-Promotion

One of the things I have been doing this summer (something that has spilled over into this month) is market research and setting up a web presence for self-promotion. This blog in part could be viewed as part of the self-promotion.

So some of my falling behind towards writing 50,000 words in the space of a month, Friday for instance, actually moved me closer to my goal of making a comfortable living as a freelance writer. It wasn't a big step, but it was a step.

And quite honestly, I have no choice in the matter.

As some of my readers know, a few years ago (three years ago come October) I got laid off. At the time, I was the manager of a restaurant. I didn't think that I would have a hard time finding a new job. I was wrong. I failed to notice that the whole realm of food service had changed. Quite frankly, I was too experienced (twenty years worth) to be hired by anyone.

One of my friends likes to blame this on the immigration problem. But it is actually just a simple fact of business, cheap labor is good labor. If it wasn't the immigrants, it would be someone else. And if they run out of cheap humans, machines will end up replacing us. Bottom line, if they can do it cheaper without you than with you, too bad for you. But I digress.

So almost a year later, I was still unemployed. I had two options. Go back to my old employers (I turned down a transfer when they closed the location that I was working at) or go to college. After seeing my GED scores, I chose the college route.

Now, I am going to college in Colorado. That is the good news. The bad news is that Colorado (as of two years ago) was forty-eight in terms of financial aid. So outside of getting student loans and Pell Grants, I get nothing. So I am living off of my student loans. Fortunately, I am married, otherwise I would be in even bigger trouble. The wife has brought me time to get my feet back under me.

But it is my lack of financial aid that drove me back into writing. The lack of money makes you do strange things. Now, some will ask why I don't work a part time or even a full time job while I go to college. My father-in-law does all the time (he says that I am merely a freeloader). Well, it is not for the lack of willingness.

One of the unfortunate realities in my universe is that I am unqualified for anything other than food service and entry level positions in retail and telemarketing. The other unfortuante reality is that unless you are available 24/7, they don't want to hire you.

The only boss that is willing to put up with my college and lodge schedule is myself.

So why freelance writing? Simple, it is not the first time that I have tried my hand at it. A few years ago, before making assistant management, I attempted to write for pay. I wasn't good at it. Or rather good enough. The few sales I made were high and labor and low on profit. I was also younger then.

I also lacked an area of expertise. Or rather was blissfully unaware of what I was an expert on. A few years ago, I did learn what subjects I could potboil. I much rather do it as a labor of love, so I generally just ignored that possibility.

But being unemployed and in college refocused my vision. Being a writer generated more money than I was making not being a writer. So that is how I find myself being a writer again (or is it still).

One thing I learned last semester was that I wasn't as knowledgeable about the internet market as I should be. This came to my attention on February 23rd. Yes, it was that big of a red letter day. So last month, in June, I didn't do much writing as I spent a lot of my time looking around the internet researching this new market that had arose over the last couple of years(there was also a small amount of writer's block in play).

Besides needing to do market research, I needed to sent up my basic homepage. Self-promotion is a big key that I ignored up to this point. It is not so much laziness, as it conflicts with my ethics. I was taught to be humble, therefore quiet. It doesn't work as a writer. People have to know that you and your work is out there.

So last month, I did my base research and marketing setups. Why not while college was going on. Quite honestly, because I wanted to give this aspect of my new profession (ok, this is the third year in a row that I have to report writing income to the IRS, so maybe it is not new) my full attention. Come fall, when college resumes I want to be able to focus on writing and my schoolwork without having to do a major amount of setup and research. It is easier to maintain a presence than to create one.

Or maybe my father-in-law is right, maybe I am just lazy.

Oh and for those of you who are curious, at this point I am 20,902 words behind where I should be at this point for my writing goal for the month; weekends, especially lodge weekends are not good for my writing.

Friday, July 13, 2007

...but I am only ten days worth of words behind.

So I mind some progress today. Not much, only 700 words worth unless I get more done later today. Unfortunately, tommorrow is the online ZAM class, and Sunday is a lodge day; I am quite sure that I am going to fall further behind over the weekend.

I am now up to 5090 words. Short 16,581--ten days worth, figuring that I should be doing 1,667 words a day if I want to spend the pain evenly across the entire month. Obvivously, that is not going to happen. Maybe in November (yes, I am actually considering taking part in the National Write a Novel Month during term paper season--call me insane).

I am learning a lot about what is going on in the book I am writing. In many ways, it is like reading a mystery novel that someone else wrote. Like today, I learned something about one of the secondary characters that I didn't know, as in it wasn't planned by me.

And hopefully, I am learning what I absolutely need to learn--how to self-start and continue going on a project. One thing I have never developed as a writer, or as a person for that matter, is sheer discipline. I have always depended upon being brilliant. The closest thing I have to disciplince is my bloody-minded stubbornness. It may look like the same thing, but it is really not. As a professional writer, I need discipline. Hopefully, next week helps me towards developing that aspect of myself. *crosses fingers*

Bad week for writing...

Well, it has been a bad week for writing. My proof? I only need to write 17,281 words if I want to be on track to finish 50,000 words on the novel by the end of the month. I ended up with a raging migraine on Sunday (Imtrex does not work for me), and then had two days of errands (one personal, the other business). Which was enough to shut down the flow. So I am only up to 4390 words. Yikes! Wish me luck at pulling this project off.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Ok, I am a little short on word count

Well, I did make some progress today. I am now up to 3240. That is short of the 10002 that I should have to be on course for finishing this project. Way short, as in 6762 words short.

It is not as much progress as I would have liked to make, but at least I did not waste the entire day goofing around on the interent or doing other things (though in my defense, I have done some writing this week).

On the bright note, the story is getting more rich. Today, I fleshed out a couple of the characters, and introduced two new ones (one is a surprise to me). The story is getting more complex as I gain some idea where it is actually going. So all is good.

Avoiding the 50,000 words

I am doing a real good job of avoiding working on the 50,000 word goal I set for myself this month. The slighest distraction on the internet can sidetrack me. I only need to write 8035 words today to catch up to where I should be at the end of the day.

To illustrate how easy it is for me to get sidetacked, note I have written three articles already on Helium this month. Last month during my online market research month, I only wrote four. And I want to Helium to look for things to write, because writing there is easier than the task I have given myself.

Now, the first article about the difference between Satanists and witches needed to be wrote. The first article in the title cast my kind in the same light my mom casts my religion. But the Lammas article could have waited--though it is coming up in less than a month, so maybe it is best that I wrote it now rather than waiting to have time to do the complete set.

And the article about Teamwork, ok, that one is obviously me just trying to avoid my word count for the day. Much like me checking out the Star Trek fandom sites last night.

Another obvivous method of avoidance--writing this blog entry. Next thing I know, I will be reading and editing someone else's writing.

Oy vey.

How Different Are Witches From Satanists?

Lughnasadh (Lammas)

The Importance of Teamwork in the Company

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Starting a little slow

So in my quest to write 50,000 words this month, I am off to a slow start. But at least, I have started.

On the 1st, I got absolutely nothing done. No real surprise there, it was a lodge day. No matter how few members show up, I am on duty on a lodge day. We went over the bylaws of the lodge, detailing why they are written the way they are. It was a boring session but necessary.

And yesterday, I only managed to get up to 157 words. About the time I got rolling, or at least pretending that I was about to start moving, Toni came home early. I would blame it on her, but lets be honest--I just wasn't really into it.

Today, I italized the words from yesterday (I am counting them towards the goal), and started a new story. I have absolutely no idea what I am writing about. The first scene came to me in a dream last night. Being curious, I chose to see where it would led me. So far (including yesterday's rubbish), I am at 2300 words.

It is progress.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Complaining about Helium Channel Contest

Well, the Helium Channel Champion contest has been going on for less than a week, and already that is a lot of complaining about it on the Community board on Helium. I understand a lot about why people are complaining about the contest, within the first couple of hours, a whole bunch of short (and in some caes plagirized) articles flooded the selected articles in the ten channels for this week.

During the previous contest, I decided not to focus on the contest, but devote myself to my long-term writing. So unless one of the future channels ends up being in my speciality as a writer, I will pretty much ignore the contest.

My biggest problem with the contest is that unless you are a winner during one of the contests, you only make pennies per entry (if you are lucky), and the income dries up completely when the contest is over. So for me, I am better off focusing on my fact-based articles, slowly building up my article base there. Pennies in the long term beats nothing in the short term.

And considering that my articles have a nasty habit of taking two or three weeks to hit their proper slot, the contest would be long over before my articles hit their proper ranking. I rather not swim with the sharks hacking out junk.

Besides I am working on writing 50,000 words (a rough draft of a novel) this month as my regular readers will remember.

Have a good day everyone, it is back to the millstone.

Morgan Drake Eckstein's Helium Profile