Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Storage Unit

I've decided to dabble a little with - a place where you write a very short story (1024 characters - not words).  It can be an original story, or you can write a prequel or sequel to anyone else's story.  It looks like a really awesome community.  I put this up just a few minutes ago: - I wrote and edited that piece in about 15-20 minutes.  I think this is going to be a good place to practice both writing and editing.
"Storage Unit"
We won the auction for the storage unit at 3PM; we had to have it empty by 4PM. Easy, right?
We should have seen the signs right off the bat: none of the other bidders seemed very interested in bidding on the unit. It’s like they knew, and they didn’t want anything to do with it. I thought we had just lucked out and got an amazing haul.
At first, Todd and I thought we did hit the jackpot. We found all sorts of antiques from the ’20s – the 1820s, that is. Everything was in pristine condition. We were going to make a killing. And we only paid a buck for it all!
That’s when we found the chest. We thought we hit the mother load, the haul that would make our year. You never find something bad in an antique chest.
Todd carefully pried it open, and I felt a chill shiver its way down my spine. A terrible smell assaulted my nose, and I retched immediately. But the part that had me running for the hills was the bandaged, rotting hand whose fingers were gripped tightly around Todd’s fat neck.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Battlestar Galactica #17: "Someone to Watch Over Me"

Good Lords of Kobol, I watched this episode what seemed like ages ago.  I haven't had the time to type it up until now.  So here we go, with notes at the end.

I'm so glad that heavily serialized TV shows have episode recaps; it's been a long time since I last watched a season 4 episode, but thankfully all I needed to remember was that Anders is in a coma, and Boomer's back (and in the brig).

I almost forgot that Boomer hasn't had any kind of reuniting with the Galactica crew - it makes sense that the crew's first reaction is to lock her up (she had after all shot The Old Man).  Anyway, about the episode: I should have realized this was going to be a Chief Does Something Stupid episode from the moment the Cylons said they were going to try Boomer for treason.

Thankfully that wasn't the only story in the episode.  ti revolved aroudn a strange piano player sticking his nose into Kara's life.  After a while it became apparent that he is actually Kara's father, though I was surprised to learn that A) she doesn't recognize him until she plays the notes Hera drew, and B) that he wasn't really there.

I guess people just figured, "Kara's crazy!"

I'm curious to know what the significance is of the song Kara played, and why Cavill wants Hera.  Also, the episode got insanely nuts.  You'll see in my notes below, which I took as I watched the episode..

  • Creepy shot of Kara's burned corpse in the mirror!
  • Toothpaste is the prize for doing a good job amongst pilots <- Good touch of realism that's been missing for a while
  • Really driving home the dullness of their current lives
  • Adama hasn't forgotten what Boomer did - linking back to season one.  Tying up loose ends, good.  Also Chief still has feelings for Boomer?
  • Not sure I like the "mysterious piano player" who's suddenly in Kara's life
  • Flashbacks to Seasons 1 & 2!
  • They're doing a good job showing the ship falling apart, but this really should have happened a lot earlier
  • WTF is Cylon Projection??
  • Kara seems to have mellowed out a LOT
  • That burned corpse is just the right amount of creepy
  • Oh Chief, don't do anything stupid...
  • I'm thinking the piano player is Kara's Dad <- wrote that one about half-way through
  • creepycreepycreepycreepy Boomer!!! <- seriously she was the creepiest in this episode.  So terrible.
  • Aaaand more music-activating weirdness.
  • This is officially nuts
  • Holy Frak!  So that must have been her plan all along, to steal Hera
  • The Chief is just not good at decision-making

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Subway Haiku

I wrote this tweet yesterday:
@stephen_g: I think I spotted a subway sub in a snowbank; desperate to escape death by mastication only to freeze to death in the snow.
It inspired me this morning while waiting for the bus to write a haiku.

Destined for stomach;
Escape any way possible.
Icy death awaits.

Creative Commons License
Desperation by Stephen Gower is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pocketwatch Excerpt

I'm a little further behind than I would like to be with this story, but I've been having difficulty getting started with the re-writes.  Too much procrastination, basically.  Anyway, I haven't quite finished it but I thought I would share a short section of the story with you.  It's currently un-edited, so it could probably use some spit & polish

I guess I'll set it up a bit, as if I were on a talk show and setting up a video clip for the host.  So the main character, Larry Adelstein, was sent to clean up the attic as punishment.  For what, I don't honestly know at this point as I'm writing scenes out of order.  Anyway, after some "scary" moments trying to make his way up there in the first place, he discovers the titular pocket watch...

Dad sent me upstairs to clean the attic that night.  I hated going up there; actually, it was probably more accurate to say that I was afraid to go up.  That fear was probably helped along by the fact that I’d only been up there once, when I was about seven years old.  And even then, I went up in the daylight.  I still get a chill thinking about going up there at night.
 We had one of those old attics that had a folding staircase that pulled down from the ceiling.  The stairs were made of very old wood, and creaked even when they were pulled down.  When I looked up toward the attic from the bottom of the stairs, it was pitch black.  I could make out some cobwebs here and there, but nothing beyond the gaping black mouth swallowing all forms of light.
 I placed my hand gently on the railing, careful not to grip too tightly.  It was very smooth, like it had been sanded down recently, but I couldn’t convince myself that I wasn’t going to get a sliver anyway.  I lifted my left foot and tested out the first step; it seemed stable enough, even though I thought that it felt a little soft.
 I took a deep breath, and stepped onto the stairs with my right foot.  I climbed carefully up the stairs toward the maw waiting for me above, wincing at every creak and groan with each step.  I was waiting for the boards to give out from beneath me, causing me to fall and probably break my leg. 
I knew there was a light in the attic; there was a long string attached to a short metal chain that I had to pull in order to switch it on.  I knew it was somewhere in the middle of the room, but I couldn’t find it because I stupidly forgot to bring a flashlight with me.
 I walked slowly toward what I thought was the middle of the room, bumping against boxes along the way.  The floorboards in the attic were no better than the ones on the staircase; they protested with every step I took, and my pulse quickened as I expected my next step to send me through the floor.  When it didn’t, I breathed another sigh of relief.
 There was a small sliver of light filtering in through the window from the street lamp around the corner, but it wasn’t providing enough light to be any help.  Thankfully my eyes were starting to adjust to the dark, and I could at least make out the outlines of the boxes I was tripping over.
 I looked around the attic to see if I could spot the old white string that ran up to the light.  A few feet in front of me, I saw a light cord sway in the chilly breeze that was flowing through the attic.  I grabbed the string and pulled, and shielded my eyes from the suddenly bright light that flooded the room.
 It was no wonder I tripped over what felt like every box ever stored in the attic.  As smart as Dad is, he was pretty dumb about storing his stuff up here.  It looked like he simply brought the boxes up just far enough to get them on the floor, and then pushed them as hard as he could toward the other side of the attic.
 I had a look around to see where I should start.  It seemed that at one point Dad did put some effort into organizing the attic because there were a few metal shelves against the wall where the ceiling was a little higher, and boxes stacked neatly beside them.
 There was a weird smell, too.  It was the musky “old” smell mixed with a thick layer of dust.  The combination wasn’t pleasant, but I was also thankful that there weren’t any dead animals lying around up there.
 I decided that it would be best to just take the scattered boxes and stack them with the others against the wall.  I picked up what looked like one of the heavier boxes and heaved it over to the corner with the others.  As I set it down, something on one of the metal shelving units caught my eye.
 It was an old pocket watch; it looked like it was made of solid gold.  While the years hidden away in the attic dulled it a little, the light from the bulb in the centre of the attic was reflecting brilliantly from it.  I picked it up, and I was surprised at how much heft it had.
 Despite the cold air flowing through the attic, the watch was strangely warm, like someone had just taken it out of his pocket.  On the front of the hunter case was an elaborate engraving of what looked like a snake eating its own tail.  I ran my fingers over the engraving, and marveled at the craftsmanship.  After staring at it for another few seconds, I popped open the hunter case.
 The watch face itself didn’t look as fancy as the case.  It was a simple white face with black roman numerals, perfectly preserved underneath pristine glass.  Other than the dulled gold, the watch looked like it hadn’t been touched by time at all.

I cut out some bits in there that are a little too rough.  But there you go.

Friday, December 10, 2010

No Excerpt Today

Sorry, I haven't finished with the story yet (read: I've done a lot of outlining, but no actual re-writing).  I do have a BSG review written in a notebook that I did last weekend, and I'll try to post it this weekend.  But also the plan is to start Draft 2 for Pocketwatch.

I would work on it tonight except that I am going to ye olde hockey game.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

50th Post

I think it's absolutely fantastic that my 50th post is the one where I tell all three readers about the deadline I set for my short story collection.

I plan to have everything collected and put together as a first draft by FEBRUARY 20, 2010.  That gives me 75 days to write / revise at least 10 stories, which I think is way more than enough time for somebody who writes a LOT, but it is a realistic and comfortable goal for somebody like me who doesn't always get a lot of time to write.

Some things I wanted to point out:
- I've got 7 stories in various stages - from not written yet all the way to just needs some polish - so there are three slots that simply need ideas injected into them, and then I have 10 stories
- I'm planning on throwing in some haikus in there.  I love writing haikus.
- Just so we're clear, I mean that by February 20th I want all of my stories to be complete.  The deadline for having everything properly formatted will be determined later, I just want to make sure I have everything ready to go by the 20th.

This is something very ambitious for me, and I'm excited about it.  I'm going to start work on my NaNo story tonight, but will probably just be sticking to outlining and narrowing down which plot points I want to keep, etc. etc.  The bottom line is I'm trying to keep this from being intimidating / daunting, because if I feel like I can't do this then it won't get done.

I'm just going to follow the oodles of people who've given the following advice: just put your work out there.  You run the risk of people not liking your work, but if you don't put your work out at all, you'll guarantee that no one will like it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Slight Interlude

I read / heard about this today: George Lucas is buying up film rights for dead movie stars.  It seems that the intention is to use them in movies, or commercials, or something.  Either way I was reminded of this (slightly), and wanted to share:

The Critic, "Dr. Jay" (Part 1) (skip to 4:50 if you don't want to watch the whole thing) (Part 2)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Now what?

It's been a few days since the novel writing thingie ended; I've been on a cool-down period from writing for those few days, feeling a temporary burn-out.  The creative bug is back, and I'm trying to ease myself back into Writing Mode™.  This means that  I *should* be ready to start the editing process of my novel Monday or Tuesday; if not, I deserve a swift kick in the pants.  Expect an excerpt by Friday.

You'll notice I didn't say "expect the first chapter by Friday", because I finally decided what I'm going to do with the novel.  I'm going to turn it into a short story, and write a bunch of others to make a little anthology.  I will probably dig up older stories I have lying around somewhere and polish those a bit.  I have one piece that needs some work but I put off doing it forever because I thought it was too daunting at the time.  Now?  Not so daunting, but it still requires major work.

(I am most definitely NOT taking part in that ABNA thing.  I sincerely hope that somebody (anybody) I know does and has success, though.  And by "somebody I know" I also mean Internet acquaintances, not just in-person-friends.  Look I'm just trying to say I'm not hinting at any one specific person, and I'm only saying this because that's how it looks the way I wrote it.  I should just stop right there.)

Now that I've made my decision, I need to have a plan in place.  So here it is, and it includes EVERYTHING that is remotely related to writing.
  • Complete a short story anthology, with 10 stories at minimum.  If I end up writing more than 10, that would be gravy.  I haven't worked out a completion date yet, as it depends on how many stories I have now vs how many stories I still need to write.
  • Publish said anthology via CreateSpace / Kindle store.  Make available as a regular PDF as well
  • Finish my episode reviews of Battlestar Galactica Season 4, and start a new series of reviews for Caprica.  BSG should be finished by the end of December no problem (I believe I have 4 episodes left), Caprica can wait until January / the new year.
  • ???
  • Profit
The last two items are clearly a reference to a well-known joke.  Or maybe not well-known, as I feel the need to point out that it is a joke / reference.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ABNA 2011

Thanks to a forum post on the NaNoWriMo websites, I was made aware of the Breakthrough Novel Award.  The deadline I believe is February 6 2011 so if you just completed your novel yesterday, you have some time to finish editing it.  Or maybe you have a novel already completed, and you want to try your luck on the opportunity to get a publishing contract with friggin Penguin which includes a $15,000 advance.

I think, since my plan was to have the novel edited and complete by the end of December (is that still possible?  I think so), I might have a go at submitting it.  I won't worry about doing the whole "cut it to a short story" thing until after I know whether or not I have enough to turn out a proper novel.  I think I do, it just needs work.

This is sort of a "why the heck not" kind of deal - I fully expect that my novel - or short story collection, however it ends up - will be available via the self publishing route.  Hopefully though, somebody sees this blog post and goes "Holy shit I should submit my novel to this contest and friggin WIN that bitch"

*ahem* carry on.