Ho Ho Ho, Mother-Fucker

Ho Ho Ho, Mother-Fucker

Dialogue #50 for my year-long writing challenge is Ho Ho Ho, Mother-Fucker. When two friends run into an evil Santa, hell-bent on mayhem and murder, they cut him down to size with a critique of the transgression Santa Claus trope.


This was a fun one to write. Here’s some entertaining resources and inspirations for this dialogue:

Evil Santa Claus pictures on The Church of Halloween’s website.

When trying to figure out whether to hyphenate mother+fucker or not,  I found this cool little article on Language Log.

Lastly, a short Loose Canon episode from Lindsay Ellis on the history of Santa Claus.


As I was writing this blog (on Christmas Eve here) I got an interesting phone call, which I made a post about on Facebook and captured an image of it for you.

Christmas Miracle 2018


Don’t forget to check out some of my Christmas stories before you go!

 

Happy Holidays, Bookworms
Evil Santa

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We Toss ‘Em

We Toss 'Em

For dialogue #49, I’ve written We Toss ‘Em, a story about two men who are taking out a hoarder’s trash. Dino fossils* are found, but regulations say they must toss ’em into the trash.

*My apologies to any paleontologists who run across the story once it’s published. The two men involved call the fossils dinosaur bones, which is inaccurate. My excuse? Well, I’m going for realism of speech, not accuracy of facts in this one. If you take issue with my fictional perpetuation of a common enough mistake, please make no bones about it, pardon the pun, and leave a comment below.

Trash


To learn more about my dialogue challenge, please see this page.

Winter Reads

Winter Reads

Winter Reads: 3 short stories for you to cozy up to with a cup of hot cocoa.

❄ ❄ ❄When The Dog Gets Ready to Die
Dog in Snow: artwork for Randal Eldon Greene's prose poem "When the Dog Gets Ready to Die"
A prose poem about a sad winter night.

❄ ❄ ❄Aunt Phyllis is Yours This ChristmasAunt Phyllis jess-watters-at designedbyjess
A funny, slapstick story about siblings at odds.


❄ ❄ ❄Man in the Snow
a man in the snow
A meditative story on art in the snow.

❆❆❆

Thanks for reading. Leave comment and let me know what you think and subscribe for more. Happy Holidays!
Hot Cocoa and a Good Book

God Vomit

God Vomit

“Imagine if a giant god came floating through outer space and vomited on us, hurling all this fiery debris down to Earth.”

This week’s dialogue is God Vomit, a creative conversation concerned with the possibility of a strange, godlike Boltzmann Brain. If you don’t know what it is, a Boltzmann Brain is a self-aware creature created from a random configuration of elements and atoms rather than through other means, such as evolution or genetic engineering. Basically, it’s a creature arising from chance. It’s a cool concept, and one I felt worth exploring in this dialogue.

Space God

This is dialogue #48. On my first week of the challenge I wrote an introduction, so I’ll have one to make up some week soon. The truth is, I have more dialogue ideas left than there are weeks in the month. So either I’ll scratch off an idea or two, write extra dialogues before the year is over, or just write them after the new year for inclusion in the future published collection.

Find more about my weekly dialogue writing challenge here, Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations.

 

WIP Wednesday #1: 90K in and Counting

Work in progress

INTRO TO WIP WEDNESDAYS

I’m starting a new blogging segment I’m calling WIP Wednesday. This is WIP Wednesday #1. I don’t plan to post every single Wednesday but occasionally will be writing about my latest work-in-progress on Wednesdays.

This year I’ve been posting weekly about my dialogue challenge, and I’ve found setting a blogging goal related to my creative writing is a great motivator. This isn’t that exactly. Unless I’m doing a weekly post, an occasional update on my next WIP isn’t going to really motive me not to procrastinate if for some reason I am procrastinating. Instead, I hope this new segment will be more topical in nature, letting people know some aspect of what I’m working on as opposed to what I used to do pre-dialogue days, which was only really post when a story of mine was published somewhere.

Since I’ve already been posting like crazy about the dialogues, expect my WIP Wednesday posts to be mostly focused on the novel. Though there will probably be WIP posts about the dialogues once they are ready to be compiled into a short story collection, but I wouldn’t expect any such posts in the near future.

Reedsy Wordcount
Image Source from reedsy’s great article on word counts.

 

WORD COUNT

For my first WIP Wednesday,  the focus is going to be on word count.

I just did a recount of the latest drafts of all the chapters in my novel-in-progress, and I’ve got 89,191 words typed up. Now I write everything by hand and only a small portion of the chapter I’m working on is actually typed up. Using a conservative estimate, I’m without a doubt over 90 thousand words.

When I began writing I feared that my book would be too short to count as a novel. I worried I didn’t have enough to say—enough words—to tell a novel-length story. After all, I write lots of flash fiction and my debut book was a novella of less than 40 thousand words (at least after my editor got through with it).

cutting a book down to size

 

The goal for my current WIP was at least 80 thousand words. I tried to focus on just writing—not word count—and repeated the mantra, A story will be as long as it needs to be, whenever anxiety about my novel’s length cropped up. Truth be told, I failed to brush away my worries and instead have been keeping track of my chapter’s lengths. Here’s the current breakdown:

Prologue: 623 words
Chapter 1: 17,082 word
Chapter 2: 10,943 words
Chapter 3: 8,359 words
Chapter 4: 6,404 words
Chapter 5: 10,034 words
Chapter 6: 5,389 words
Chapter 7: 4,647 words typed (This is the chapter I’m currently writing.)
Chapter 8: 25,710 words

Now that I know I’ve reached the magical 80 thousand, I feel relief because I have certainty that this work is long enough and, with more to write, will stay long enough even after editing. I believe I have something like four more full chapters left to write, including the one I’m currently writing. So I can calculate the average of my completed chapters (not the prologue or chapter 7) at 11,989 words. At only 4 more chapters, that’s 47,956 words left to write if I hit that average. Add this predicted total chapter length of the next 4 chapters to my completed chapters and we’ve got a 132,500 word book.

I have no way of knowing right now if I’m going to be spot on, way short, or a lot longer than this guess. At the lowest, my chapters should be 5 thousand words. I’ve read in places that 5K is a good word count for chapters in most books for adults. As you can see, my chapters are all above 5 thousand words. I think 5K is a good chapter length myself, but that’s not how this book decided to structure itself. It’s perfectly possible that I could end up with four 20 thousand word chapters to finish off my book or, much less likely, end the book with four 5 thousand word chapters.

Isn’t over 100K words too long for a novel?

According to this reedsy article, my book is likely to be a little on the long side for literary fiction. 80 to 100 thousand is the sweet spot. And while the sweet spot is a good place to be because it’s more likely to be accepted by agents and publishing houses, it’s also shorter than I hoped my novel would be. You see, while I fretted about reaching that magical 80K, I felt my book needed to be bigger. It might be best to remember that the sweet spot exists for a reason, but it’s also good to remember the mantra, A story will be as long as it needs to beAnd I always felt this story needed to be longer than the minimum.  Ideally, I really wanted it to be at least 120 thousand words.

Why break the “rules” of novel-length, especially when it’s your first novel?

That’s a great question? The simple answer is the same as my mantra. But it might also have to do with genre; though to be honest, I really don’t know. To me, my book is literary fiction. But a friend of mine said the book I’ve described to him is a systems novel, a genre of both literary and speculative novels.

I don’t know if he’s correct or not, but one trait that some systems novels have is bulk. Word counts in lit fic systems novels are often way larger than my guesstimate of 130K. So if my friend is right, then maybe the word count this thing is bound to be is closer to correct for its genre (though the mantra takes precedence IMO over any other correctness criteria). My friend is smart, so he’s probably right. But whatever the genre, I feel like the more words for this particular book, the better. You can look up articles on systems novels and, after the book out, decide for yourselves if it’s one, and while you’re at it, you’ll probably make a decision on how you feel about the long chapters in my book.

endless book

TL;DR Announcing a new blogging segment: WIP Wednesday. I’ll be posting these occasionally. My current WIP, a novel, is at 90K words and could get past 130K words. This is long, but it might be the right word count for the book’s genre, a literary systems novel, if it’s even its actual genre. In the end, A story will be as long as it needs to be.


Share a little about your WIP in the comments and don’t forget to drop a link to your website so we can follow you.

URBAN EXPLORING: The Enchanted Kingdom

URBAN EXPLORING: Enchanted Kingdom

Enchanted CasteImage from a great article on an actual abandoned amusement park.

URBAN EXPLORING: Enchanted Castle is a dialogue about the depths of enchantment. Two urban explorers enter into an enchanted castle but find not the dilapidated magical charm they anticipated. Instead, they encounter the enchanted remains of a decaying nightmare.


These are the last weeks of the dialogue challenge. I am amazed at myself for sticking it out even in my busiest weeks. I’m even more humbled knowing that there are writers out there who manage to write a blog or article post multiple times a week. I really don’t know how you do it, but I applaud you.


For those who are wanting to read some new dialogues, stay posted and subscribe to get email notifications. My focus is on getting the last dialogues written, then I’ll start to type up whatever is still in pen and paper drafts, edit, and send my pieces out. There are some dialogues submitted here and there, so who knows, it’s possible something new will be published soon.  If there is, I’ll do a post when it’s published.

Take care, bookworms!

A Man in the Snow

A Man in the Snow

a man in the snow
photo by Lara Algre

Today I decided to scratch the dialogue I was going to post and wrote a new short and sweet one in honor of the blizzard that has me stuck at the hotel all weekend. It’s short and sweet (the story, not the blizzard). I’d say the dialogue is exploring the nature of art or some shit like that. I enjoyed the image I conjured up and enjoyed writing the piece. Hopefully a future editor of a magazine will like it enough to publish it. And if I’m really lucky, a reader or two will like it as well (yes, my mom counts as one of these two hypothetical readers).

Actually, fuck that editor and those two hypothetical fans (Sorry, Mom!). I’m posting this story on Medium for all the world to ignore. Again, it’s short, sweet, and totally first draft (I wrote it in a rush like 20 minutes ago). So ready to read it or not, hop on over to Medium to check out Man in the Snow.

A Man in the Snow

UPDATE on a fudged up update:
Somehow when I was updating the Medium series that has similar posts about the dialogues as this blog does, all but 23 cards (everything before dialogue #37 + the title card) were totally deleted with no way to get them back. According to my stats, no one reads the series anyway. Just about anyone who cares how this challenge and future book of short stories of mine reads the blog (Thanks, Mom!). It’d be a pain to hunt down every last link to the series in all my old posts and articles; instead, I’ll just leave a note on the series directing people back here and, later, directing people to a book sale link (in advance: Thanks for buying two copies, Mom!).

I will be getting rid of links to the series feature on the Dialogues page, so if you’re really interested, this is the last time I’m linking to the Medium series feature even though it’s just going to contain a link back to this website and hopefully someday a book link. Oh, and it did something really weird to the title card, and I’m just going to leave that too. As always, just zoom out if it says you need a larger screen to read it. All right, click the link to proceed:
Image result for link fighting link

America’s Emerging Writers

America's Emerging Writers

Out of the more than 2,000 writers who were accepted into Z Publishing’s 2018 Emerging Writers series, my story “Everything In Its Right Place” was one of 127 writings picked to be published in the nationwide edition, America’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction. My story is in Volume 1 of the this two-part anthology.

Buy on Amazon.

Buy on the website.

You can also find this story in Iowa’s Emerging Writers, available on Amazon or the website.

America's Emerging Writers

 

 

Cup of Love

Cup of Love

Cup of Love

 

This week’s dialogue is Cup of Love. The story is about two old friends, Lacy and Samuel, who once had a romantic connection. They’re getting together for coffee to celebrate Lacy’s engagement. Things go well until lions are brought into the mix.
Lion in a Cafe


In other news, I hope everyone in the U.S. of A. had a happy Turkey Murder Day.
I know I did. A few new dialogue ideas came to me. So I’ve got some stuff to write for the next couple weeks. It’s hard to believe that soon I’ll only have a month left in my weekly writing challenge.

The Wave

This week’s dialogue is The Wave. In this creative conversation, we find a world where a periodic wave comes crashing down on all who stay above ground. If anyone stayed above, they’d be washed away to oblivion. . . Or maybe that’s what they want you to believe. And if you don’t believe, what do you do? Do you stay out as the wave nears? Do you risk death to find a potential hidden truth?


Exciting news, my friend who’s been working on script for a video project says that he’ll be giving me a first draft to look over next week. I’m totally hashtag excited. I’m also excited to start working on some of my own scripts, but these dialogues must all be hashtag finished first.  
(PS: Is it okay to write out the word “hashtag” instead of using the symbol? Let me know your thoughts in the comments).


Other than that, I watched the pizza delivery guy steal the Do Not Disturb sign right off of a guest’s door at the hotel. As he reentered the lobby after his delivery I asked him to give me the DND sign he took. He then lied, saying it fell on the floor. Bullshit. I have cameras. But whatever. Poor, sad soul.

pizza.jpg