Another Audio Short Story

Hey folks. If any of you are curious what my voice sounds like, here’s another opportunity to hear it!

I submitted an audio version of my short story to the Infinity the Game podcast “White Noise” (based out of Australia). If you’d like to give it a listen, just click on this here link, and it’ll take you right to the podcast! My story is the first thing that comes up, and is about 10 minutes long.

I’ve also put a written version up in the Short Story section of the website if you’re not into that whole “listening to other people read” thing. Which I get. It’ll go live on Wednesday!

Anyhoo! Hope you enjoy!

Two Days Left, Many Words to Go

So, when I started my time off to write, I was at 28,316 words.
When I got home from Georgian Bay, I was at 38,973.

That makes about 10,000 words over 3 days, which I am pretty okay with. It’s not GREAT, by any extent, but my partner and I did other stuff besides just writing (we went on a hike and/or run every day, most of which were 3-4 hour excursions).

It also means that in a vacuum, I could crank out one novel length first draft in a month. Which is actually more-or-less perfect.

So still about 30,000 words to go on this story, I expect, but that’s okay. I’ll still have time before and after work, and I still have today and tomorrow before I officially return to my 2nd, paying, job, so I can probably crank out another 10,000 or so in the comfort of my own home.

I’m grateful that I live with a partner that is so supportive, and that I live in a time where all of this is possible. But man, it’s hard to be excited to go back to my 2nd job after being so totally immersed in writing for most of a week…

You Say "Vacation", I Say "Writer's Retreat"

I mean, strictly speaking, it’s not really a retreat. My consort and I just rented a small room in the middle of nowhere (Ontario has an awful lot of “middle of nowhere”), with nothing interesting nearby and not a lot to do…

Except write. That’s my plan, for the next 4 nights. Wake up, eat crumpets (because I assure you it’s not a vacation until somebody toasts a crumpet), and then write until I pass out at night.

Exciting? No. But I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it. We made the 2 hour drive earlier today, and despite the WiFi being a little spotty, I’m already happier.

My current goal is a modest 70,000 words written by Saturday night. That’s only 17,500 words per day, which is reasonable, right? Right.

Anyway, I’ll write a follow-up on Saturday when we get back home, but for now… writing, ho!

Planning a Trip to Japan in 2019

First off, if you haven’t heard or read my short story submission to the White Noise Infinity podcast yet, I put it up for free in the Short Story section of this here fancy-schmancy website! Go give it a read, lemme know if you have any feedback!

It’s not yet set in stone, but it looks an awful lot like next year in September I’ll be making my first ever trip to Japan.

Pros: I’ve been dreaming about going to Japan since 1998. That makes it 30 years… a long time to build up anticipation.
Cons: I’ll only be going to Tokyo and Hakone (a total of 7 or 8 days in Japan, and then travel to and from). It’s staggeringly expensive. There is no way my expectations for the trip have any hope of being fulfilled. It’s really, really expensive. There are a million things I want to do, and I won’t be able to afford to do most of them.

And did I mention the cost? Yeah. I started saving in August, and I will continue to save until the day before I fly out, and I still won’t be able to afford many of the things I want.

But hey, at least I can go! Theoretically. A lot of things could go wrong between now and then, but hope springs eternal!

In other news, I’ll be meeting a good friend of mine in Tokyo to split some of the costs. This is good, except that I’m trying to explain to him that me writing every day during the trip isn’t really optional: I write every day, period. Until I am making my living through writing alone, it’s just a part of my life. Some time between waking up and sleeping each day, some progress must be made on a short story or novel I’m working on.

And I get how that doesn’t make sense to people (especially during a vacation from my paid work!), but that’s just the way it has to be.

Once I’m a full-time writer, then I can take actual vacations occaisonally. Until then? I just sometimes get to go on very picturesque writing trips.

An Audio Version of One of My Stories!

I recently recorded and submitted a story to a short story contest run by a couple of Auzzies. I’m pretty proud of how the story turned out, even if it was my first attempt at something so ambitious.

Also, big thank you to my friends for lending me their voices for the various characters.

Here’s the link. My story, which is called “Clockwork Blues”, starts the episode. Big thank you to Ben and Marty for the musical additions (I don’t have an ear for that sorta thing).

White Noise Podcast 50

What Is this Leaking Affecting My Eyes?

I recently “rediscovered” Steam Powered Giraffe, a weird little group of misfits that produce some of the weirdest, most wonderful music I’ve ever enjoyed. The band’s “hook” is that they’re a group of steam powered robots built in the 1800s for a brief war, but since winning the war have turned to making music as a way to pass the decades.

It’s catchy. Not all of it is great, but the great stuff is really great.
But part of the best part is how unusual it is. I mean, at its core it’s basically folk-rock with a steampunk aesthetic, but they lean into that in a brilliant way. And there are 2 members (twins) that are always part of the group, there have been 4 other members over the years that have come and gone, but the sound has remained quite consistent.

Anyway. It’s encouraging from an artistic standpoint. They’re cool, I recommend “Captain Albert Alexander” and “The Stars” as particularly good.

I’m at a coffee shop writing for the first time in a few months, and I’m going to see if I can get a few thousand words done in about an hour and a half. That’s reasonable, right?

Long Grind

I knew it going into writing. Nobody is an overnight success as a writer.
Well, “nobody” is probably unfair. That’s like saying that nobody wins the lottery. Some people definitely do.
It’s just not a good strategy, I suppose. You don’t plan on winning the lottery, it just happens and you accept your good fortune if it does. Otherwise, you do the same thing everyone else does:

You work. You work lots.

Anyway, nothing really exciting this week. Word count continues to climb slowly upwards, still a little shy of 30,000 words, but that’s okay. Tomorrow will be a more relaxed day at Job 2, followed by guitar practice and then a full day of writing on Tuesday, so that’s something at least.

All I really want is more time. More time to write, more time to edit, more time to do the things that let me be a better writer (reading, mostly, but also consuming games, movies, and shows). But the only way to earn that time later is to put in more time than I have now, and hope that it eventually pays off!

Oh, and hello to anyone who happened across this little slice of the interweb from that short story competition I submitted to a little while ago. I have another short story coming out for it in a few more weeks (I hope!), which I think is pretty dang good! Hope you like it, feel free to poke around a little!

Ten Thousand Word Weekends, and Other Pleasures

I like when I have a couple days off in a row. It’s rare (usually only holiday weekends that fall on a Monday), but folks, can I ever cram a lot of writing into those glorious days off. I averaged over 3,000 words a day for the three glorious days I had off, and landed just shy of ten thousand words for the weekend.

It was pretty amazing.

The only “problem” I’m having with the story is that it’s moving forward a bit too quickly for my tastes. I’m basically just shy of the halfway point of the book, and well shy of the 50,000 words I usually like my mid-point first drafts to hit. At the rate I’m going, it might land around 60,000 for a finished first draft, and that’s way, way too short. I mean, a FINISHED 60,000 word draft is still too short (I usually aim for 70-90 whenever I can), to say nothing about all the cutting and editing I have to do after the first draft.

But whatever, that’s Future Marc problems, not Current Marc problems. For now, I’m just happy to be writing.

In other news, submitted another short story to a contest (recorded the audio for this one, even! I think it turned out okay… not professional quality or anything, but I’m excited about hearing it go live), and I’ll put a link in here to the story and the audio files when it goes up. Another fanfic sorta thing, but I’m still proud of it. Especially the happy/vaguely ominous AI voice I got my partner to do.

Okay! Time to actually write. It’s 3pm on Tuesday, and I have another 70,000 words to write on this story before I’ll be truly happy with it… so let’s get going!

So Long Summer, Thanks for all the Sun!

And with that, another summer fades into the middle distance. We are done with ridiculous heat, sudden thunderstorms, and staggering humidity.

Well, not really, of course. The summer doesn't just flick off like a light switch in Southern Ontario, and we'll be feeling the heavy swings in heat for a few weeks yet. For example, it was well into the 30s this morning when I went for a run, and it's supposed to dip below 10 degrees overnight.

Good times.

Regardless, work on Novel 4 continues. No word yet from the agents regarding Novel 3 that I sent them, but that's okay... I have nothing immediately following that one ready just yet, so if they need a bit more time that's totally okay with me.

In unrelated, but related, news, I've been considering going on a few trips next year. One potentially to Japan, although that's going to be staggeringly expensive (September of next year for about 10 days, $3,000+ CAD for the trip including flights), and another to Chicago for Adepticon (a game convention for a couple game systems I actually play, like Infinity and WarMachine). Tragically, the trip to Chicago, as it stands, would cost as much as the trip to Japan, which means that it just may not happen.

It's unfair to an extent, because really what I'm saying is that I'd be miserable sharing the financial burden (splitting a room, specifically... but everyone I know snores like a lumberjack), but I can't afford NOT to split said burden. Such is the life of a writer, I suppose... always many things to do, and no money to do it.

Anyway, this isn't meant as an "Oh woe is me" post, just spitballing about the future. I'm happy with my progress on the new Tintian novel, although I will have to rattle the cage a little bit since nothing super exciting is happening in the story right now. Usually that means somebody walks in with a gun... we'll see if that happens here!

Happy end of summer, everyone, and enjoy the outdoors if possible!

Being Less Sick Is Definitely Better!

Okay, so I sent my last novel off to the agent... this one is shorter, more YA focused than the previous ones... it also has some of my best writing to date (the last few chapters? They're magnificent! If only I could maintain that level through the whole book!).

Anyway, that takes some pressure off, and I've spent that time refining my next short story submission. I want to record it (you get "bonus points" for recording the audio yourself, although we'll see how that goes... I have the equipment to do the recording, but not much in the way of technical knowledge), but I need to iron it out a little, make sure it "pops" before I do so.

And then, of course, the 2nd Tintian novel. It's been too long between the last one to this one, in my opinion, but whatever, I'll get it finished. Like last time, I'm wondering about how liberal to be with the source material, but as long as the story is good it should be fine. We'll see how it works out.

In unrelated news, my partner's mother is visiting for 3 days. That's not going to be a source of stress, I'm sure.

Being Sick Still Sucks, and Other Surprises

So last Tuesday I was struck by a sickness in the same way that tanks are struck by armour-piercing, fin-stabilized discarding sabots.

That is to say, I was wrecked.

It's been a week, and I'm finally starting to shake off the last of the sickness. Still blowing my nose just shy of constantly and still short on breath, but definitely, unquestionably better.

Which is good! Because there is still a tonne of work to do. Writing to be written! Writer Groups to group! And so on.

I sent out my last finished novel to "my agent", who I should point out is not yet my agent, but hopefully she likes it. Because if not, it's going to be at least a few months before I try again... the novel I'm writing right now hasn't finished its first draft yet.

And, of course, I have a dozen novel ideas sitting at the sidelines, all begging me for a chance to get on paper (well, digital paper... you get the idea), but that involves me finishing THIS novel first. I managed to get a few thousand words done while sick, but not much else for it, unfortunately.

Anyway, I should get back to writing! I've been reading Scum and Villiany, which is a lot of fun (an RPG set in the Blades in the Dark rule set, but in a science-fiction setting because of course it is), and the second book in the Locke Lamorra series (Red Seas under Red Skies), which is also a tonne of fun. Good fodder for my own writing!

Third Place! Not too shabby!

The short story (well, one of the TWO short stories) I submitted to that contest came in 3rd.

Can't complain about that... it wasn't a huge pool of submissions (about 30), and, personally, I think my short story was a little stronger than at least 1 of the 2 stories that beat me, but all in all I'm happy that I got a podium position.

I'm going to submit another one for the next round of short story submissions, probably... but again, short form has never been a forte of mine.

Still, nice to stretch those muscles once in awhile.

But not today! Today I have a lot of writing on the novel to catch up on. I was stuck at a sorta boring part o the work, and I'm just going to muscle through it, get the thing finished, and then worry about cutting or adding in words later. Just gotta focus on putting words on paper.

Anyway! So that was nice news for last week, hope to do better this week!

An Ode to Long Weekends

Oh Long weekends,
When I don't have to work,
Well, I still have to work,
But at the work I love but don't get paid much for,
But is definitely still work,
And I do it for all the days I'm not at my other job,
Which pays,
But i don't love,
... where was I going with this?

-MH Questus

Yeah. Just being a bit silly, really. This is a civic long weekend, so I worked on Saturday and I go back to work on Wednesday, which is pretty sweet, except it's already Monday and I've only gotten a few hundred words written.
Granted, I have the rest of the day to write (and I will!), and literally nothing else I need to do. There's food in the fridge, including a variety of beverages (no coffee, tragically, but I suppose I could make some if I really wanted), the cats are behaving themselves, and I have about 20,000 words to go before I call today a win.

So let's do this! Novel 4 is sitting at 17,000 words right now, let's see if I can get it up to 40,000 by Tuesday! Go team!

Still At It!

I mean, that shouldn't come as a surprise, one hopes. Yes, I received a rejection for Starconvoy, and no, no other agent has responded to it yet.

But that's okay. That's just a step on the path. The goal is still the same: make at least an approximation of a living off of writing. That requires rejection (lots of it), and heartache (no shortage there), and hard work.

So at the end of the day, come what may, there's always more hard work to be done.

Anyway, the writing continues. The goal I'm setting for this approaching weekend is to finish Novel 4's first draft. It'll be a lot of work (about 15,000 words/day), but it is certainly attainable. I've done it before, and I don't have anything else I need to do over the weekend, AND I have 3 continuous, uninterrupted days to do it! Those are the best days.

Sadly, after this there's just one more long weekend before the end of the year, which is still months away. But that's okay! That's okay. Just gotta keep at it.

Hopefully I get good news about the two short stories I sent in to the competition... I'll post them up here regardless, hopefully people like 'em. They're pretty fan-fic-ish, but I think they're pretty good regardless.

Hope you're having a great week, whoever/wherever you are!

Another Rejection. Ah Well.

So the agent I was hoping would represent me sent me a rejection. It was very kind and positive in many ways, but again, no luck.

Such is life.

I've already sent that novel out to two other agents (the day after I learned she wasn't interested), which means I have sent it to every Sci-Fi agent in Canada.

Yup. All three of 'em.

Anyway, no point in worrying about that. Next stage is to send my next novel (thankfully "finished"... still waiting for beta reader feedback, but otherwise done) to that first agent. This one is a different tone and pace from the last one, so hopefully she and her colleagues will be more excited to take it.

As for Starconvoy EH-76... we'll see if anyone else is excited about the story. You can only have one agent, so if they're excited about it, I may have to decide to work with them instead, but such is life. I really just want to be published and make a small, humble living.

Anyway! Anyway. Turns and roundabouts. Ups and downs. We just move forwards, I suppose.

Short Stories are Weird

I've been thinking again about my love of long-form fiction ("Novels"), and my general inability to write good short-form fiction ("Short stories").

Which is weird, because my most successful, best paid gig ever was a short story I had published. I'm still very proud of it, all things considered. But doing short stories has always been a struggle for me, whereas novels flow much easier.

Now, that stated, short stories are a DREAM to edit compared to a novel. Hard word limits are actually really good in most cases, because I can focus exactly on how close I am to being done overall, rather than trying to make sure that each strand of the story is completed satisfactorily and that I don't leave too much hanging. Plus, on a good day I will crank out 5k words, easy, and most short stories require me to only write for a day or two before the first draft is done and I can move on to editing.

All of those are good things. And yet.

I mean, it's mostly irrelevant. I've only submitted two short stories in the last year and a half, and both of them were for the same short story contest (links will show up on this here website when I have links to share!), whereas in the same time I've submitted three novels and am working on a fourth. But still! I miss having time to write short stories without feeling like it was "taking me away" from the work I also wanted to do.

I guess that's part of my recent drive to get the Writers Group back off the ground. That was fertile ground for short stories, both to write and to give feedback on.


I'm continuing work on Novel 4 right now, and it's coming along pretty well. I'm approaching the portion of the Tintin story which I'm basing this one off of that's a bit mystical (Tintin ends up on an alien asteroid floating, for some reason, in the ocean and it starts doing weird and zany stuff, none of which makes sense in a modern understanding of science), but I can probably fix that with weird sci-fi-y-ness, as I usually do. At least, that's the current plan! We'll see where Tintian leads us... just figure out what your hero wants, and then follow her.

On Writing Groups

I'm currently in the process of trying to form a new writers group. Or perhaps resurrect our old one... I'm not sure which, honestly, but it's what I'm trying to do.

It was always a neat group of writers, each with their own goals and motivations. Some of them were, honestly, brilliant and talented people who I admired for their capability to both produce excellent writing and provide thoughtful feedback.

We would occasionally get the person who would show up once, get honest feedback, and we'd never see again... many people want to have written, very few people actually want to write. But for the most part, it was a solid core group, and I miss 'em.

But it's a lot of work. I'm going to send out a few emails tonight, see if the old guard are still interested, maybe look to introduce some more variety into the group, and then start settling on the important (but boring) administrative tasks of finding a location, setting a time, and hashing out a mission statement.

Still, it is exciting! It will be nice to have that sounding board back, and that motivation and encouragement, plus of course the intelligent criticism. All important stuff!

Submitted Another Short Story!

Phew, two short stories in about as many weeks! That felt good.

Of course, they're both for silly little contests, but still! Writing is writing, and it's been years since I've had a short story published (still my only paid writing gig to date... *sigh*... damn shame the website that published it went into hiatus). So it was nice to flex those muscles again.

Plus, still waiting on my noble and amazing beta readers.

Well, can't wait forever. So today I'm going to tackle my 4th novel again, in between doing some airbrush painting and maybe a little baking (bread, mostly). It's pretty hot outside, but it's cool in the house where I work/paint/write, so that's okay. And I don't think I have anything else I need to do or anywhere I need to be, so that's helpful.

Now, the only question is to work on the next Tintian novel, or to switch gears for a little and work on The Spinward Expanse? The only problem with the Expanse is that, as a short story, it's already been published YEARS ago through a now-defunct app, and I'm not 100% sure I own the full rights to it. I could consult a lawyer, but that's a tonne of money and time for something that may never again see the light of day... pity, too. It was a good foundation of a story.

I could just rewrite it from scratch, of course. Different characters, updated tech, that sorta thing... hmmm. That's a thought.

Anyway! Enough rambling for today, and back to writing! Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Happy Canada Day!

Man, I love long weekends. Especially those that fall on Mondays., since that gives me three GLORIOUS days to write.

Although, full disclosure, I only used 1 of those three days to write this time. And that was today.

I cranked out another short story for that competition (not quite done yet, going to edit it tomorrow, see if I can tighten it up a bit... it's 1,900 words right now, want to crunch it down to a solid 1,500), and did a bit of work on Novel 4. Overall, very satisfying (although always bitter-sweet, since it's also a reminder of what my life could be if I actually wrote for a living... which is to say, amazing).

Anyway! Back to the paying job tomorrow, which is fine... I mean, less than amazing, but fine. It's fine.


Anyway! Happy Canada Day, everyone, and here's to the next long weekend (in August!).

Submitted a Short Story!

Ah, the heady, glorious days of 2016, when I was submitting stories everywhere (well, a LOT of stories at least) and gathering rejections like ripe fruit.

2017 saw my focus shift, by matter of necessity, to longer pieces that were pushed out (and rejected) less frequently. I was always more comfortable in long form anyway (I struggle to say in 100 words what can be said in 1,000), but I do miss writing buckets of shorter works. Partially because I miss writing (I mean, I still write, but I average about 2-4k words a week, and in 2016 I would do that in a morning), but also because it's nice to exercise different muscles sometimes.

This particular short story is basically fanfic for a particular game I play, hosted by a podcast that is by no means a "legit" writing contest, but I had fun with it. I'm planning to do another in July (the contest ends August 1st, and multiple submissions are allowed, but I don't want to inundate them with stories and would rather craft a couple really good ones rather than crank out a dozen).

In the parallel, I'm also submitting a model I'm painting for their painting contest, not because I have the faintest hope of winning (I don't), but because I'm really looking forward to the feedback I'll get to improve my craft. The painting contest is done by a couple professional painters that work with the podcast, and they've said they'll give feedback on the entries. So that'll be nice. I took my "before" pictures today, and hopefully in a week or two I can be mostly finished an then work on some final details.

So a busy week. Long weekend this week too, which is awful nice... but for now, back to Novel 4!