Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hating on the Haters

3:52 PM

I had a recent experience with someone mocking my pursuit of a writing career. More accurately, they considered me weird for the things I write and create. Am I surprised?

Hell no! I AM weird, I take pride in it.

I've been a little different all my life.

When I was younger, I'm sure my parents wondered why I didn't take to more traditional interests for a boy in Central Maine. While I did take an interest in mechanics (my family trade), I didn't choose to spend most of my free time doing so.

I was an early adopter when it came to video games, beginning with Frogger on the Commodore 64 and Atari 2600. I spent countless hours navigating my square avatar through "Adventure", gobbled white dots as I ran from multi-colored ghosts, squashed Goomba's, and ground out experience in the wilderness surrounding so many fictional cities that I've lost count.

The expression, "Get your head out of the clouds", was far less common then than it is today (and I'm not sure that my parents ever used those exact words), but I'd be fooling myself if I thought they understood me much at that age.

Don't get me wrong, my parents are the two of the greatest human beings I've ever known. They humored their strange progeny (yes, I'm referring to myself) more than most parents would. No doubt they were hoping that it was a phase and I would either discover a lifelong affection for wrenches, wiring, or carpentry. They wanted to make sure that I would develop an interest in some marketable trade, but they still stuck with me.

They worried about me the same as any parent worries about the future of their child. It's their job. I've already started planting seeds with my son, trying to nudge him into using his interest in Manga, computers/electronics, and video games towards something more marketable than a beta tester. I give him some slack though, because I've been there (plus, he's eleven. lol).

My reason for recounting all of the above is this-I GET that I am often misunderstood. It's not an entirely new occurrence in my life. My son is undoubtedly having many of the same experiences. He goes through phases where he dies his hair bright red or some other primary hue, wears different types of jewelry or clothes, etc. Some people look at him and think that he is strange. I understand him well enough to know that he is trying out some of the styles that he sees in Manga and Anime-no big deal.

In many ways, society has evolved to swallow my son and I instead of further ostracizing our geekiness. Grown adults with full time jobs and mortgages now own multiple gaming consoles. Science Fiction movies are commonly most profitable in theaters. The world has gone geek, so to speak. (Yes, that was intentional)

So why do I consider myself weird, in a world that is increasingly coming around to my way of thinking?

Easy-I earned it. I wear my geek cred proudly, and I teach my son to do so as well. If you don't like the world, change it. But don't change it by imposing your will on others. That has never been an effective means to exact the modifications you seek. You change it by embracing your differences with others, what separates you from the herd, and enjoying every minute of it.

In my writing, the underlying premise is always to get the reader to relate the characters dilemmas to their own. I want my readers to imagine themselves in the same situations as my characters and draw conclusions from how they would have done things differently. Fiction-as in life, is an ongoing process of discovery. If you aren't looking for new ideas, new experiences, you are essentially reliving the lives of those that came before you. That gets us nowhere as a race.

It's a common tenet of intelligence to test the limits of ones surroundings. Animals in cages will test the walls of their prison until they are convinced that there is no escape. With us (humans), we've added yet another layer of abstraction. Communication has opened the door for deceit. If you trust someone to check the walls of your cage for you instead of checking them yourself, you delegate your free will to the morals of someone else.

So seek out your own answers to life's unending questions, don't take the word of those that would choose to tell you what is acceptable, common, or even real. If somewhere along the way someone has a problem with the way you do things, let them. It's not your place to help them figure YOU out. Your only responsibility is to understand yourself.

PS: Most writers are weird. We're a sordid bunch, we really are. Calling a writer weird is like calling an model photogenic or a Sculptor "Crafty". We not only have to deal with reality (to varying degrees), we create entirely new realities in our head, then have to make millions of decisions as how best to convey that world into the mind of others using only 26 letters and punctuation. When you get a taste of what it is like to be god, even for a seemingly insignificant world of fictional characters, it tends to warp your mind a little.

Bear with us.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Exciting News!

11:50 PM
Long time, no speak!

Sorry about the lack of updates, I know the lack of updates on my site here have been keeping everyone up at nights with worry. (Yes, I'm kidding)

But worry not! I have been busy, and while I'm not ready to divulge every detail of what I have up my sleeve, I am ready to announce it.

I have decided to release my entire short story collection (The two that are already for sale), along with three never before published stories in a single work. 

My reasoning? Last year was my "feeling out process" year for publishing. I wanted to learn all I could, make my mistakes with shorter stories before I offered up pre://d.o.mai.n later this year. 

I am still hard at work on pre://d.o.mai.n, but I recently realized that I had overlooked one critical portion of the publishing process that I had yet to explore. I have yet to produce something that you can tangibly hold in your hand, a paperback novel or collection that you could read and then hand over to a friend to borrow. 

Aside from the obvious lessons in formatting that I was overlooking, I realized that having my own paperback was a logical next step before I release pre://d.o.mai.n. I want to hold a book in my hands with my name on it, shed the unavoidable tear of accomplishment, then rededicate myself to my upcoming science fiction novel with renewed vigor. 

After going back and forth on the title for a few days (have you ever tried to name a collection of short stories and novellas? Seriously, It's an awful experience), I have settled on a title-Covinous.

There are other titles that I felt better fit the collection I am currently editing together, but a quick search on Amazon brought me to the startling realization that every single title had been used and abused by a dozen or so authors. I wanted something new, something I could claim as my own. Judging by the fact that my word processor insists on underlining "Covinous" with that red squiggly line indicating that I have misspelt the word (Yes, I double checked it-I've got it right), I'd say it's obscure enough to do the trick (and zero results on every book store for a matching title reaffirmed it if it was ever in doubt). 

So, you may be asking yourself (if you didn't already wuss out and Google the damn thing), "just what the hell does Covinous mean? Well, glad you asked. brought to you via the magic of an online dictionary and Cut and Paste, I give you the definition of "Covinous". 

Cov´in`ous    (k?v´?n-?s)
a. 1. (Law) Deceitful; collusive; fraudulent; dishonest.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.

Why would I choose this word for the title of my book? Well, in order to keep the streak of quickly answered rhetorical questions going I will dispense with the drama and tell you. Each of the stories contained in this collection have one thing in common-twist endings. 

Each story begins as one thing and becomes something else before it's conclusion. They vary in genre from Fantasy/Science Fiction to Horror to Adventure and finally Literary Fiction. So, rather than just call it "Christopher Godsoe's collection of really cool stories of varying lengths and genre's", I decided to use the title to unify them. Well, that and I don't want to have to try to cram that all on the book cover and have it look aesthetically pleasing, lol)

I am currently working on the cover, and will of course release that here once I have reached a point where I am happy with it. (Seriously, I have Blender open in a separate tab as I write this).

I'm pretty damn excited about this. More so than I probably should be, since two of the stories have been available for months, but the feeling persists anyways. 

So, just wanted to break the silence and let everyone know that I'm not spending these silent days rocking back and forth on my ass, drooling out the corner of my mouth with a vacant expression on my face, lol. 

I will share details as they become more concrete (the cover, release date, etc.).

Until then, enjoy the fine sub-zero weather we have been having (unless you don't happen to live in Central Maine as I do), and tell Al Gore to kiss your ass with his global warming crap.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

10:45 PM

The Versatile Blogger Award

For those that aren't familiar with it (a fair assumption, since up until yesterday, I wasn't), the Versatile Blogger Award is a traveling honor that goes from blogger to blogger via the magic of the internet. It's meant as a way to pay tribute to those bloggers that have entertained you, taught you something, or that you admire for other reasons.

There is no red carpet, there is no nomination ceremony or wild after party held by P. Diddy, but it is a nice gesture to encourage those that you follow.

I've covered a lot of what this blog has meant to me during my Obligatory End of 2011 post, so I won't rehash that all here. I would like to add that it is great when you hear from someone that has been following your writing or reading your blog posts when you had no idea they were doing so. That was the case Monday when Georgina Morales posted that I was one of the five blogs she had chosen to bestow the Versatile Blogger Award upon.

Moreso than the actual award, it was great to hear that she enjoyed what I had to say. It truly makes it worth all the nights writing new posts or checking in on your website traffic to see plenty of hits, but little idea who those people might be. So in closing, I would like to thank Georgina again and ask everyone to give her a shout at http://diaryofawriterinprogress.blogspot.com/ . Now, on to fulfilling my responsibilities for receiving the award. They were told to me exactly as follows (seriously, I copy and pasted, lol)

Thank and link to the blogger who bestowed the award.
Share seven random facts about yourself.
Spread the love by passing the award to five other bloggers.

So.....Seven random facts about me. 

Here we go.
  • I have seven email addresses and six websites, four of which you don't know about...yet ;-)
  • My son has never read one of my stories-I can't get him to....ever. I run ideas by him as I write, so see what he thinks, and his answer once I reach a draft is, “Dad, I already know what happens, why do I have to read it?”
  • I have secret ambitions of becoming an independent filmmaker. Ssshh, don't tell anybody, lol.
  • I am a contributing editor at G33KL1F3.com, a technology and entertainment news blog. I typically contribute gadget mods and customization projects there. I have a few more articles in the pipeline for the site, but I need to get the projects done in order to have pictures, and well.....I'm a bit of a procrastinator. (Does that count as two facts?)
  • I am an avid supporter of Open Source Software, such as Blender and LibreOffice.
  • My Gamertag on Xbox live is MAETRIXSS. Feel free to add me!
  • I loathe Country Music....seriously. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Sometimes the girls in my office put it on Country just to watch me squirm.....yeah, good times, lol.

Alright, time to disclose my 5 recipients.

  1. Frank Balara's Home for Wayward Thoughts-I was honored to be able to design the cover for his first self-published short story, Manufactured Pleasures. I consider Frank a good friend, and a very good writer. His site is definitely worth a look ;-)
  2. Chronicles of Idiocy-This is Erin Berry's site. Erin, Frank , and I all met during a writing contest that none of us won, although the connection between the three of us remains. We are all working towards the same goal (becoming successful authors), taking different paths in different genre's. Erin's chosen genre is Satire, and she already has her first novel available through Amazon, The Chronicles of Idiot.
  3. Reading away the Days-Megan has a very active site focusing primarily on Paranormal Young Adult novels. She does a great job of keeping me up to date on which novels I should pick up for my niece, sister in law, and mother (who are all very much fans of the genre). 
  4. terribleminds.com-Chuck Wendig......that's all I need to say. If you want to get some great writing advice laced with a particularly vulgar sense of humor, this is the place. I own several of his books, and have read a ton of his advice, loving all of it. If you are a writer, you seriously need to check out his site from time to time. 
  5. Reading Between the Lines-Like Megan, Sahina is from the UK, and has a very active site. She has giveaways, contests, book reviews, and more. She also gave me my first published review for Judgment Cove. Her site is also definitly worth a look.

Well, I believe that covers it! Thanks again to Georgina Morales at diaryofawriterinprogress.blogspot.com for thinking of me for this award. Alright everyone, have a great evening (or morning if you are reading this in the AM).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Writing Pep Talk-pre://d.o.mai.n

11:55 PM

       Just a few days ago, I wrote about motivation, inspiration, and the need to generate heedless word count regardless of quality. I feel the need to clarify, as while many of you may agree with me, there will be others that say, "That's great Chris, but what if the muse never speaks, never sings it's magical song?"

Well, I wasn't really meaning to say that we shouldn't produce a word until our literary potential is bursting at the seams, I meant that while an effort to produce on a daily basis is noble, it's not the only way.

Either way, the post made me think about my approach. I know that I could be producing alot more, and often sit down at my Natural 4000 Ergonomic keyboard ready to write, but needing a little pep talk. Great reviews are awesome (seriously, those that have read my work and told me how you enjoyed it have given me a feeling like no other-the reason why I write), but I decided to try to cultivate a way to maintain continuity in tone from one writing day to the next.

I wanted to find a way to come back to the same state of mind that I left off writing the day before, regardless of the events of the day. I wanted to remind myself to avoid certain pitfalls, and to lay down the theme that I want to impart into every chapter. Short of keeping a daily journal and trying to convey what I was feeling during my previous writing time (which, let's be honest, might work, but every word I wrote in the journal would be detracting from time spent producing my book), I felt the best way was to write myself a little piece to read before setting out to write each time.

Those of you that have played organized sports have, at one time or another, heard a coach give a pep talk to their team before a big game. The speech is equal parts strategy and emotion, pragmatism and visualization. THATS what I wanted. I wanted something that, in less than 100 words, would remind me why I am so eager to finish this book. I wanted something that would outline my hopes, help me visualize how good I want this book (pre://d.o.mai.n) to turn out, and to pump me up by converting my aspirations to forgone conclusions.

In essence, I wanted to write myself a pep talk that I could read before each writing session that would condense everything I needed to remember, everything I needed to hear, before I began.

What I came up with is below. Yes, I know I got a little excited towards the end. Yes, it includes sparse vulgarity. Get over it, lol. It's technically not FOR you, it's for me. I include it here because part of the mission for this blog is to share my experiences writing, and to serve as a sharing place for ideas. Keep in mind, this piece is meant to inspire, to maintain continuity, and to keep me from getting discouraged or making repeated mistakes.

So, without further ado, I give you the Writing Mantra for pre://d.o.mai.n.....

(Yes, this is written from a first person perspective. Me.......talking to me. I know it's confusing, just picture me saying this in a mirror, lol)

Writing Mantra

First, let me get this out of the way-Stop screwing around and write. If you’re sitting in front of this computer, reading this, I’m assuming that you want to make some progress on pre://d.o.mai.n, so stop messing around in Blender and write. None of that flashy promotional material will be worth a damn if you never finish the book.

This book is your key. Your key to opening the door to bigger things for you and Skyler. It’s the first salvo in an assault that will forever change your life, so enjoy it, and savor the writing process. Give all you can of yourself when you are writing it, even the parts of your life that you may not want to share. Your pain, your embarrassment, your sadness-channel them into your characters in equal proportion to the joy, the love, and the anger that you already have well under control.

Second, let’s talk about tone. I know you aren’t intentionally trying to talk over everyone’s head, but you ARE trying to be unnecessarily eloquent. See, you just did it again-cut that shit out. Write the way you would if you were telling the story to someone seated right in front of you. You know, injecting humor, using words everyone else can understand, and weaving the story that you want to tell with all of the enthusiasm your thesaurus-enabling first drafts can’t.

Your tone is to narrate directly to the reader, not to emulate Longfellow, Shakespeare, or Thoreau. Thoreau wrote about Walden Wood, he wouldn’t know an Augmented Reality rune if it bit him in the ass.

And don’t sweat the first draft. Let me save you a little time and tell you what it’s going to sound like-Your characters are all going to sound the same, your prose will be stiff and barely decipherable for anyone not named Christopher Godsoe, and you will wonder if anyone will even want to sort through it all to discover the amazing world you’ve created. Your friends will slog through it out of devotion to you, but no one that doesn't know you personally will have the stomach for it.

So stop worrying, you know what’s coming, just relax and let that shit flow. You can fix it later, and again after that, and again after that during rewrites. You’re going to make a pass concentrating just on character dialog and tone, another for grammar, and another to make sure that all of the plotlines are consistent from beginning to end. You’ll also make one final pass to map all of the loose ends that you left for the next book, and those that you left for the final book in the series.

Because, my friend, this book isn’t just a story that will be forgotten 15 minutes after read. There are serious implications in it that everyone with an internet connection or smartphone will be able to grasp. This story may be fiction, it may be speculative fiction, but it’s speculative fiction that is based on science that exists in one form or another TODAY. Most of what you have created is going to come to pass. Are you going to let everyone find their way through this in the dark? Are you going to let them head out into the socially awkward brave new world without any clue what they are in for? Lastly, are you going to miss your opportunity to stake your claim on the future?

No, you’re not. You are going to make good on that promise that you made to yourself two years ago, and let this amazing story out that you have been selfishly hoarding in one form or another for ten years. Show everyone the spectacle, show them the loss, the transcendent fear. Show them the weakness in our race, and how it is unavoidable in a population in millions. Show them that the strength of a few can atone for that weakness, that the rare strand of morality can fight back the persistent creep of greed.

Bring Miles, Theo, Kincaid, and Tobin into being. Breathe life into Kellen and Victoria. Show everyone how the summer of Judgment Cove has shaped the man that Steven has become, and don’t forget Craig, as every court needs a jester. Let them tell their parts in shaping a technology that will be both the greatest gift man has ever crafted, as well as the greatest cancer to ever feast on their humanity.

Remember that in the end, the technology and gadgetry is NOT the story. The story stems from the characters leveraging it for their own ends. Never forget that. James Bond had the best toys, but they were only ever worth a damn if at the end of the day the world got saved.

And finally, stop pumping up your ego any more than you already have by reading this. Get to work writing, because good intentions are worthless if you don’t put them to use.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Motivation, and why it's really not such a big deal.

7:00 AM


Ahh, the dreaded "M" word.

Every writer struggles with it at some time, and I probably do more than most. I'm rounding the turnaround point on my month long hiatus from writing, and actually finding myself itching to get back to it.

Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds.com is of a no nonsense (terrible?) mind when it comes to writing. He says you just do it, get up the next morning, and do it again.

Great, but I've found that the work I put out when I do that is....umm.....how do I say this eloquently....shit.

My philosophy is this-try the 9-5 creative thing. If the regimen works for you, great. If not, then you are not meant to be a columnist, article writer, or uber-blogger. I, however, aspire to be none of these things. I aspire to write one or two novels a year, and hope to gain a modest fan base that enjoy my work.

I write because I enjoy it, and have no intention of quitting my day job until I reach the incredibly unlikely threshold of $120k/year in profit-not likely anytime soon, if ever.

In essence, have realistic expectations. It's kinda like my current exercise/eating healthier commitment. I realize that the more I eat, the more I need to work out to burn it off. If I eat reasonably, and work out, over the course of the next few months I will lose weight. If I continue to eat like I have been the past few months, I'm pretty much going to have to quit my job and run cross country non-stop like Forrest Gump to see any kind of results in that time frame. But I had to get to the point where I was in the right frame of mind to stick with it.

With practice, you may find that writing becomes easier, and that you are able to continue to write longer and longer each day, to be able to stay on task and produce workable copy. Don't get me wrong, that's awesome. If you can do that, rock out......however you choose to, I guess.

I can go two weeks without writing, sit down, and bust out 7500 words in one night, then go for a few thousand more later in the week, and I find myself generally happy with what I come up with. Which also means less rewrites in the end, and in the end it all comes out in the wash fairly equal to the drill sergeant 2000 words a day philosophy.

You may ask, "Is there anything I can do to cultivate my creativity between bursts of writing?"

Absolutely. I have several projects going at any one time, and I alternate between them to keep my creative juices flowing. I alternate between writing, graphic design, 3D CGI, compositing, Audio work for upcoming audiobooks, and even mix in the occasional hardware hack or xbox controller customization.

The point is to find something that you enjoy, to take your mind away from your story. Some writers will say to bang out the story balls to the wall, hide the finished manuscript in your house for three months, then come back to it to rewrite with fresh eyes. I say mix it up when you are writing, and not only will your story require LESS time in rewrites, it will also not drive you absolutely bat-shit insane in the process.

Which brings me to another thing. When in this country did we decide that the only way to get better at something is to idiotically bang your head against it perpetually? As if you are trying to find the cure for cancer, and the decide that the best way to go about it is to forgo sleep and work at it continually for 22 hours a day, only stopping for potty breaks?

I posted a status update the other day that fits with this well, it went as follors, "Hard work is no longer the sole currency of the realm. It has given way to ideas.".....or something like that. I may not have it exactly word for word, but the spirit of the insight remains.

Sure, I could look it up, but I'm not Fox News, having to defend my bullshit to the Daily Show because a Comedy Central show can see through it, my bullshit is water tight, son. My bullshit is unassailable.

Getting back to my point, is that hard work is important, but it's nothing without ideas. Ask any person in a very physically demanding career like construction, janitorial work, cleaning, etc, how hard they work versus how much they make. I'll save you some time-they work damn hard for an amount that is not equitable to the amount of abuse their bodies take on year after year. Someone has to do these jobs, and they have every ounce of my respect for showing up every day, don't get me wrong.

Then ask a marketing exec. Ask a movie star, ask an artist, ask a singer, a writer, or a programmer. These are all positions, that depending on how easily their ideas come to them, hard work is less important. Inspiration allows you to go from A to B to Z overnight, and while work remains to implement those jumps, once they are done more money can be made than the higher labor positions will ever make.

I hope you caught the metaphor I clumsily wove into the preceding two paragraphs, but i will distill the essence below as it pertains to my philosophy on writing.

If you are looking for that great idea, that plotline that will make everyone stop in the checkout line at the grocery store and say to their children, "That, kids, is a great writer", you need to let your brain breathe. You need to let your ideas air out and grow into something useful.

You can mindlessly type words upon words, not really saying anything but content with the fact that you are arranging letters in unique patterns for six hours a day, but in the end, that's all you will be doing, is filling a page with letters.

Fill the page with a STORY. Fill the page with emotion, characters so lifelike that you worry about running into the villains in a dark alley at night and long for the presence of the hero at your weekly poker(guys)/lingerie(girls) party. Put some damn THOUGHT into it.

Your characters and readers will thank you, and wait impatiently for the next well thought out, articulate and compelling thing you have to say. More importantly, they will buy it and tell their friends how brilliant you are, how you must be in the secret room of your writing loft, safely tucked away in an alternate dimension conjuring well thought out stories on the first pass as fast as your fingers can type.

It's okay, let them think that. Let them think it while you remember to have a life, to have the experiences that actually INSPIRE your writing, that fuel it.

And enjoy your children a little more, and enjoy yourself more when you do sit down to fire off that chapter that literally writes itself because it is so compelling.

PS-Those of you that are merely happy filling pages, let me hook you up. Once you get a suitably large block of text written. Click at the top of it, highlight it by dragging your mouse pointer over it, then press the CTRL+C buttons on your keyboard. Unhighlight the paragraph, place the cursor blow it, and repeatedly press CTRL+V until you explode with joy from the sheer number of words you've created in record time. You're welcome.

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