Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Long Time, No See

It looks like a quiet week for our nameless protagonist (who, incidentally, does have a name, he just doesn’t use it.)  Maybe he’s ashamed of his less than gallant behaviour this weekend.  Maybe something else has happened.  After all, it was the pub quiz last night.

We’re a third of the way through Teratogenesis now, and the momentum of the second arc is gathering.  I am also proud to say that I have not missed a single update.  Although, there were a couple that went up at ten to twelve at night, incredibly close to the deadline.  And I’ve probably cursed myself now.

Timing is incredibly important in Teratogenesis, not only as a story-telling device but also as a structural device.  I make no secret of my admiration of 24.  To me, it was the biggest thing to happen on TV since the X-Files and it baffles me that no one else has thought to use the “real-time” conceit for another programme.  When I decided to do an ongoing serial, this seemed an obvious choice to me;  not only is it part of the apparent form, but it would help to pace out the story.

And this is were it starts to become not just a consequence, but a cause as well.  The story of Teratogenesis is determined by a specific rhythm (which I’m sure everyone has guessed by now,) and this is what drives the actual action and tone of each entry.  The period between entries was determined randomly, but that doesn’t mean that nothing has happened in between.  Quite the opposite; I mean, who hasn’t been too busy to blog at some point?  Each entry is only a window, the world of Teratogenesis carries on regardless on the other side.

Also: promises, promises.  I know I keep promising to post more on The Xaeromancer Project, but I really am about to start editing up some short stories to go on there, as well as getting another Christmas ghost story ready for Scribd.  It is, after all, almost summer.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life

Apart from the fact that it’s about a werewolf, Teratogenesis is essentially my autobiography.  There are differences between myself and the protagonist, but the similarities are overwhelming.  For example, I’ve never (knowingly) put my name on this blog.

And there are times when synchronicity is more than just an album by The Police.  For example, despite the fact that this chapter of Teratogenesis was originally plotted for 2007, I find myself in a very similar situation to our nameless protagonist.  Which is to say, I’m working and travelling to see my friends.

I plan on behaving much better…

Also, I’ve just received my first rejection letter.  Or rather, email.  Specifically, for a piece of writing.  I’ve had plenty for actual paying work.  Suffice to say, between t’internet and this landmark moment, I know feel much the same as Saturn (the titan, not the planet) about killing my darlings.  This was something that really bothered me, the old “sticking my neck on the line.”  And it also means that I now have a half-baked 500 word story I can develop into something useful.

From the people I’ve spoken to, Teratogenesis has been quite well received.  And that is ultimately the point.  I write what I want to read, what I hope my friends would like (but if they don’t, stuff ‘em, they can read something else instead, no hard feelings.)  Writing isn’t my job; I don’t expect it to feed me or shelter me, there’ll always have to be something else for that.  But writing is my calling, my duty, my dharma and, unfortunately, my one true love.

Unless you are intelligent, charming, gorgeous, and the heiress to a brewery; in which case, YOU are my one true love.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gathering Pace

After last week’s “double episode,”  Teratogenesis is moving forwarded at pace.  Not only that, but I’ve signed up to Scribd and will be releasing some older material as PDFs to download.  Coupled with the fact that I am no longer an unemployment statistic, it’s all go for me right now.

The Scribd project is something I’ve been doing for a number of years now, where I write a ‘traditional’ Christmas ghost story on Christmas Eve.  The Victorian tradition of the Christmas ghost story has pretty much disappeared (although if you are maintaining it yourself, let me know,) and I think that’s a real shame.  The first story- Harbinger- went up last week and proved quite popular!  However, given that Harbinger is also on the Xaeromancer Project web page and isn’t so strong out of context, I’m currently re-editing the remaining two pieces for Scribd.

Given that Christmas is very much a family time, this project doesn’t allows yield a result but it is very satisfying working within the constraints of the genre and the one day, finish by midnight time frame.  MR James was very much the master of this form and it’s from his theory that I practice.  To quote U2, “every artist is a cannibal / every poet is a thief” and you really have to go back to the source to see why something emerged and how it has changed over the years.  For example, if you like Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries, try Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla or Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite.

The Scribd project is also me dipping my toes into the issue of eBooks.  Personally, I’m quite happy to read on my laptop, but I know some people who hate reading PDFs.  Don’t get me wrong, there is something magical about the concrete sensations of a new book, but frankly, it costs nothing to produce an eBook.  Let me say that again:

It costs nothing to produce an eBook.

You can save a file as a PDF with the free OpenOffice suite (other word processors are available, but OpenOffice is free, as is the Office PDF plugin.)  Admittedly, this means that you have to proof, format and edit the file yourself, but I was taught that in school over a decade ago, so the odds are:  if you can read this blog, you can type, format and save a file that has been proofed in accordance to the standards of your spell-checker (if that is enough for you.)  So, there you go, use that secret wisely.

Also, I’ve specifically chosen the Portable Document Format (.pdf) because it’s a reasonably open format and compatible with a number of different platforms: both of the major eBook readers, smart phones (even the iPhone,) laptops, desktops, palmtops and tank tops.  I appreciate that I don’t write populist fiction so it’s doubly important for me to reach everyone who might be interested in what I have to say and format is a definite consideration for this.

There will definitely be more in the way of eBooks later along the line (a collected Teratogenesis, for instance) but for now, the Scribd project is all about testing the waters and experimenting with the medium.

Finally, I chose “Come As You Are”  by Nirvana for today’s entry because I didn’t figure that our protagonist would have chosen my first choice, “Memories” by Public Image, Ltd.  Sometimes it’s difficult to chose the music at the end because what I think is a good choice might not be what the narrator thinks is appropriate.


The post that I’ve had waiting for two days, now doesn’t seem to want to publish.

I can’t be because of the new layout, because the post below (about the new layout) went up fine.

So, what does this mean?

It means fiddling and trial and error.



This has gone up fine, so what’s the beef?

That’s fixed that. Tags: ,

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Clean

I’ve managed to update the blog’s layout with the new template designer.

This is a bit more what I had in mind originally, although the initial concept for the background was mist.  However, I’ve got used to the deep blue and would probably keep this palette now even if I figured out how to do my own CSS. Tags: ,