Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Peyton Manning: Remember

I was originally going to post this to the author blog, but TFT has been neglected for a long time and I felt it was appropriate to post this here. Today, the Colts and Peyton Manning announced that they planned to part ways, a reality that seems absolutely inconceivable. Peyton Manning is the Indianapolis Colts. People can deny it until they're blue in the face, but I don't think we'd have a new stadium and convention center without Manning.

It's entirely possible the Colts would've crumbled so epically that they were forced to leave the city. Perhaps not, but I believe that's the case. Manning has meant so much to the fans in Indianapolis, and this is a day to remember how truly great he's been for the community. For more than a decade, Manning has defined excellence. With #18 under center, no lead seemed insurmountable (even in Foxborough).

The circumstances surrounding Manning's release are a jumble of the impossible. A roster with too many holes, the next "anointed" quarterback coming in the draft, salary cap issues, age, and injury. As many have pointed out, if the Colts win one more game, Manning may have finished his career with the Horseshoes.

The Colts have said goodbye to Peyton Manning. Inevitably, we'll turn next to speculation about where he'll go next and what his "legacy" will be.

Today, fans should pause to remember the good times and say goodbye. My ten favorite Manning Moments:  

Tampa Bay: The Comeback - With the Colts trailing 35-14 in the fourth quarter, Manning and the Colts engineered a mind-boggling comeback and took the game to overtime. The comeback included a recovered onside kick, an onside kick that wasn't recovered, a personal foul penalty, a blocked field goal, and a missed field goal nullified by a penalty and followed up by a made field goal that went off the upright.  

The Turnaround - In his rookie season, Manning struggled, finishing with more interceptions (28) than touchdowns (26) while leading the team to a 3-13 record. The next season, it all came together for the Colts. With rookie running back Edgerrin James added to the mix, Manning and the Colts went 13-3 and secured the first-ever home playoff game for the Colts in Indianapolis.  

Motor City Demolition -  On a brisk Thanksgiving Day in 2004, Manning threw six touchdown passes against an admittedly lackluster Detroit Lions team. It was symbolic for the holiday: Detroit was the turkey...Manning carved 'em up. He threw for 236 yards and six TD's...and it didn't even take him three quarters to do it. We saw Jim Sorgi that day.

The Fake Spike - During a 2001 game against the New Orleans Saints, Manning faked a spike to kill the clock...and then proceeded to run all the way to the end zone for a touchdown. The fake was so effective, however, that the officials blew the play dead. The TD was called back due to an "inadvertent whistle," although Jim Mora was trying to hustle his team into the locker room with the points still on the board.

Take the Ball Away...and He Still Wins - During a Monday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins, the Colts' offense only had the ball for 14 minutes and 53 seconds. The Dolphins dominated time of possession, holding it for 45 minutes and 7 seconds. The problem for Miami? Every time the Colts touched the ball, they scored. Colts won this one 27-23. Somehow, Manning threw for more than 300 yards on 14 completions.

He's Throwing the Ball to Jerry Rice, Folks - During a glorious Pro Bowl afternoon, a reporter asked Peyton Manning about comments made by kicker Mike Vanderjagt, who criticized Manning and Tony Dungy on Canadian TV. Manning's response was pure awesome: "Here we are, I'm out at my third Pro Bowl, I'm about to go in and throw a touchdown to Jerry Rice, we're honoring the Hall of Fame, and we're talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off. The sad thing is, he's a good kicker, he's a good kicker. But he's an idiot."

I Think We've Got Something Here - They say the preseason doesn't mean anything, but when the first pick in the draft hits Marvin Harrison for a touchdown on his very first throw in a preseason game, you hope it's a good sign. Manning and Harrison had an uncanny mental connection honed by hours and hours of practice, and it showed. I can still see Manning zipping the ball to Harrison on a slant as #88 did the rest.

Hunter Smith Took a Break that Day - In a wild divisional playoff game at Kansas City, the Colts outlasted the Chiefs 38-31. Neither team punted that day at Arrowhead Stadium, and Manning was absolutely unstoppable. He was 22/30 for 302 yards and three touchdowns. This game served as a microcosm of the Manning Era; while the Colts couldn't stop scoring...their defense couldn't stop the other team from scoring either.

How Did He Do That? Really? - The Colts faced a tough road game at Baltimore in the 2006/2007 playoffs. The Ravens, as usual, brought an intimidating defense, holding the Colts to field goals (Adam Vinatieri kicked five of them). The biggest play of the game, however, came from Manning. On third-and-five, he hit Dallas Clark for a first down that kept the clocking churning. The window for that ball was impossibly small, yet somehow Manning managed to complete it. The 14-yard gain chewed up more clock and set the table for Vinatieri's fifth field goal and (more importantly!) a nine-point lead.

The Real Super Bowl - With the Colts trailing 21-3 at home against the New England Patriots, all Colts fans could think was, "They're (the Pats) doing it again! We hate these guys!" The Colts drove for a field goal just before halftime. In the second half, Peyton Manning came to play, leading the Colts to a comeback victory and punching the team's ticket to Super Bowl XLI. I sprained my ankle jumping up and down during this 38-34 win and called everyone willing to pick up their phone. We almost saw Jim Sorgi that day after Peyton banged his throwing hand against an opposing player's helmet. Seeing him mouth, "Get ready! Be ready!" to Sorgi remains a chilling scene.

So one last time...

Thanks, Peyton. We'll miss ya.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Just in Case...

Thanks for visiting The Flying Trapeezius! We are semi-retired in our old age.

If you're looking for the author blog of Matt Adams, it has moved!

Click on the banner below to be redirected to Matt's blog.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Butler & UK: A Comparison


Above is a completely biased, somewhat researched comparison of Butler and Kentucky basketball I made just for fun. Do I expect these two teams to meet in the National Championship? I don't know. Butler faces a challenge from underdog VCU, while UK faces a blazing-hot UConn squad. I should also point out that the "Final Four" category relates to the COACHES and their Final Fours, not the schools. Kentucky boasts 14 Final Four appearances as a program.

I'm sure proud of this year's Butler team. I thought it would be extremely tough for them to even reach the Sweet Sixteen; the Final Four seemed a pipe dream. I didn't think they'd get back, so they may as well win it all.

Take a look at the enrollment numbers for the Final Four schools:
Kentucky: 27,000
VCU: 32,000
UConn: 28,000
Butler: 4,500
That's pretty amazing, isn't it? In back-to-back seasons, the Butler Bulldogs managed make it all the way to the Final Four. That's an accomplishment ANY school would be proud of, including college basketball royalty like North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, and (pre-Dark Ages) Indiana.

Of course, this year VCU is the undisputed sentimental favorite, which means we probably won't see all those fun "Hoosiers" comparisons this time around.

Don't worry, that won't stop me:






Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 4 Tourney Picks


North Carolina over Washington
Michigan over Duke - Upset Special
Ohio State over George Mason
Arizona over Texas
Purdue over VCU
Syracuse over Marquette
Kansas over Illinois
Notre Dame over Florida State

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Beginning of a New Era

This is tough to write today, but it is necessary.

Since 2005, I have been contributing to The Flying Trapeezius (often abbreviated simply as "TFT"). Since its inception (and idea sparked by my buddy Krildog), the blog has become a platform for sports talk, parodies, movie reviews, and general tomfoolery. For years, it was the place for me to express myself through writing.

There were Great Moments in Fake Olympic History, posts about the great Christopher Walken, the insanity of the Fighting Ultimate Championship Knockout, crappy photoshopping, crappy video editing, and much, much more.

The blog expanded, contracted, and changed to reflect its writers' various personalities. For the good part of the last two years, I have been the primary contributor, writing mostly about the Colts, trying out the TFT Movie Quote of the day, and more recently, blogging about my writing pursuits.

Today, I take a bit of my own advice. My Blogger profile no longer says "Studicus." Now, I will blog as myself. I will contribute as myself. And while I have an unwavering love for TFT, my writing pursuits do not lend themselves well to that blog's mission, which is bigger than one person. TFT should be a place for making fun of Rex Ryan and Ray Lewis; a place to deride crappy movies and goof on Dolph Lundgren.

It shouldn't be the place where my alternate ego, Matt Adams the Writer, posts under a pseudonym to talk about his writing exploits (yes, I just employed the third person and admitted to having multiple personalities). I have a new playground for my writing announcements, posts on writing craft, and other publishing content. The next stop on my writing journey is mattadamsauthor.blogspot.com. The tagline: "My Kingdom for a Novel (or a Short Story): the official blog of unofficial writer Matt Adams...it's a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World and you're living in it."

I imagine I'll pop by TFT every once in a while, and I may even cross-post on occasion.

It may seem like an easy decision; a no-brainer. But it's something I really had to think about. I'd like to thank Krildog for helping me come to this decision.

Day 3 Tourney Picks


Brackets are pretty shot, but my Final Four is still intact. Here's today's picks:

West Virginia over Kentucky
Florida over UCLA
Morehead State over Richmond
Temple over SDSU
Pitt over Butler
Gonzaga over BYU
Kansas St. over Wisconsin
UConn over Cincinnati

Sunday's picks go up tomorrow at 9am (EST). Enjoy the games!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 2 Tourney Picks


Louisville's faceplant f**ked me over good. Lots of sweet last second finishes today, though. Here's my picks:

Texas over Oakland
Tennessee over Michigan
Notre Dame over Akron
George Mason over Villanova
Memphis over Arizona - Upset Special
Duke over Hampton
Florida State over Texas A&M
Ohio St. over UTSA
Kansas over Boston U
North Carolina over Long Island
Purdue over St. Peter's
Xavier over Marquette
Illinois over UNLV
Georgia over Washington
Georgetown over VCU
Syracuse over Indiana State

Enjoy the games...and look for Day 3 picks tomorrow night!

Gus and Mariel becomes latest pub triumph!

The Peytonometer says "We have a winner!"


I received word today that my short story "Gus and Mariel" has been accepted for Library of the Living Dead Press' Attack of the 50FT Book anthology! The antho, as the title suggests, revolves around giant creatures that attack and destroy cities!

This will be my ninth story accepted for publication...bringing my story batting average (cue the stadium organ!) to .321!

Here's a brief summary of "Gus and Mariel":

Heartbroken after his beloved Mariel is taken away, Gus the Puffin accidentally steps into radioactive goo and grows to epic proportions. Desperate to find his lost love, he heads east, leaving an inadvertent path of destruction in his wake.

I'll provide updates as I learn more about the publication timetable and editing process.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Carnac Lives: Your Day 1 March Madness Picks


In what is an annual tradition here at TFT, we celebrate March Madness as it were some sort of a 3 week holiday celebration. And while Studicus and I don't blow off work and sit in front of the TV all day like we used to (damn adulthood), you can find plenty of classic content in the archives back from when we did. And now comes the time where I embarrass myself and pick all of the games for Day 1:

West Virginia over Clemson
Butler over Old Dominion
Louisville over Morehead State
Temple over Penn State
Kentucky over Princeton
Pitt over UNC-Asheville
Richmond over Vanderbilt - Upset Special
San Diego State over Northern Colorado
Florida over UC Santa Barbara
BYU over Wofford
UConn over Bucknell
Wisconsin over Belmont
Michigan St. over UCLA
St. Johns over Gonzaga
Missouri over Cincinnati
Kansas St. over Utah St.


Enjoy the games, everyone! Check back tomorrow night for Day 2!

TFT Reviews: OMNI History Begins


All right...I've been talking about this for a while. It's time for the first-ever TFT Book Review.

This all started a few weeks ago when a man approached me about his book OMNI: History Begins, which is available at several major outlets, including Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. I decided to go for it. We haven't done any book reviews on this blog, but since the focus has become geared more toward writing, I figured it would be something unique.

Joe Graham's OMNI: History Begins tells the story of an 11-year-old boy named Joseph Pringle. He's a near-miss, which means he possesses abilities beyond the scope of normal people that fall just short of superheroic. After a particularly frightening experience at his school science fair, Joseph and his family become the focus of an investigation by the Heroes Union.

They're tested, scrutinized, poked, and prodded. The results prove surprising; not only are Joseph's powers growing at an exponential rate, but he could be a danger to humanity! He receives an unexpected invitation to Alpha, an academy where kids with special abilities train as future superheroes. Think Hogwarts...take away the wands...and replace them with spandex.

Quickly, Joseph takes the superhero "handle" Midas and falls in with a core group of friends with an international flavor: Darkspeed, Olympian, Bioforce, Virtuoso, and Shi. Despite Joseph's young age--he's only 11 years old while the others at the academy are 12 and up--his abilities continue to grow and he makes 1st Team, which is essentially the varsity superhero squad.

The kids train, they fight among each other, struggle with a lack of direction from their "tough-love" Coach Connors, and act as typical pre-teens and early teenagers should act. They form rivalries with other teams and take their lumps when they refuse to work together.

The good news: they get their act together.

The bad news: a long-thought-dead menace rises from the grave to threaten the world with unprecedented destruction and chaos.

Will the young heroes be up to the challenge?

What I Liked: I'm a sucker for superhero stories. I was instantly interested in the subject matter and really did enjoy meeting the characters and spending some time in the world. The novel is quite lengthy--600 pages--and I witnessed Joseph & company change and grow throughout the book (along with their powers). Joseph in particular discovers an incredible truth about his abilities, uncovering an unexpected destiny he isn't prepared for.

The book draws upon several of my favorite conventions, including future-science, some light time travel, and an "I am your father" moment (the funny part about the latter: it doesn't involve the main character!). Graham has created a fun world lovingly filled with things like "nanomail armor," "Sparrow transports," and "transmutation."

The story features an international cast of characters who travel across the globe as they train, grow into their powers, and face a looming global threat.

It's a fun place to visit, but...

On Second Thought: OMNI has some glaring problems, most of them in technical execution. I spotted several grammatical errors and problems with writing mechanics. While reading the book, I kept a notepad to write down any misspelling, incorrect wording, or faulty punctuation I spotted along the way. I gently put the notepad aside as the mistakes piled up. This is a small press book, but the quality was, unfortunately, not up to professional standards. Several problems became apparent, from confusion between words (they're vs. there) to missing punctuation, misspelled words, and even incorrect words. I found the mistakes distracting and they took me out of the story at times.

I also struggled to keep up with the sheer number of characters introduced during the first 130 or so pages. There are simply too many thrown at the reader at one time; many of these characters are sparsely used and could have been eliminated entirely or introduced in a different manner.

The Verdict: OMNI: History Begins aspires to be a mash-up of Ender's Game, the Harry Potter series, and classic superhero comics. It succeeds in some respects, but falls short in other areas. Readers who are able to overlook some of the book's technical shortcomings will find an enjoyable story...and wish the finished product had another coat of polish.

TFT was provided with a complimentary copy for the express purpose of this review.

TFT EXTRA: Interview with OMNI author Joe Graham

What influenced you to write OMNI?

Joe: I always wanted to write something my kids would like to read. OMNI started out as a few bedtime stories. Then I simply wanted to write it down so they would have something from me to read. It just started snowballing from there into a story much bigger than I thought it would ever be.

I work as a computer scientist and have seven children. When I started writing OHB, I had six. Their names are Jacob (Jake), Johanna, Joseph, Jillianne, Juliette (Jet), and John. They are the basis for the personalities you see in 1st team, which is the reason you have multiple protagonists in the story, each is a special part. I just happen to use Joseph’s character to pave the introduction into the story. Also, Jake is the one who did the cover art and the green and black comet on the back of the book is the Darkspeed symbol.

What other books and authors do you count as influences?

Joe: I met a comic book writer at ComiCon back in 92. He gave a workshop on storytelling. I remember it vividly to this day (because) he really brought his craft to life and sparked something inside of me that made me what to be a storyteller of any medium. I left his name off, because years later when I tried to contact him and tell him what an influence he was on my life, he was a colossal jerk. Oh well, I’ll just remember the good part.

Other than that, (I would say) Orson Scott Card because he also put out a book on writing sci-fi. I read that book and saw how his rules for writing worked in his own worlds. That meant something to me; to read how he thought as he wrote.

How long did it take to write the first draft?

Joe: I have a full-time job and a big family, so in my "spare" time it took about a year. That breaks down like this:

1) Three months to write a 75-page outline and invent the new world and its science and jargon.

2) Six months to actually write the rough text. When I write, I write ten pages in
three hours. I don’t look back. I don’t check spelling. I don’t let anything derail me from making forward progress. It’s kind of like free writing.

3) Three months to check the book for plot content. I looked for any holes in the plot that might come back to haunt me.

What has been the biggest struggle in promoting the book?

Joe: I’m not really a promotions guy, so it’s been a complete amateur effort on my part. I think I’m kind of like Edison who said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.” Only catch is, I don’t think I’m up to 1,000 yet!

What can you tell readers about your plans for the sequel? Is it bigger? Better? Grander?

Joe: All of those things :)

CWII (Coalition's War II) is about one-third written. It starts up two days after the last one ended. One of the things I started doing in this book is giving Vector (the main bad guy who appears relatively briefly in book one) as much time in development as the rest of the main characters.

In OHB, I had to teach the reader my universe, which I did through Midas/Cosmos, as he learned it. In CWII, I don’t do that. I pick up where I left off and assume (the reader knows) all that. The second book moves faster because of this.

More secrets are revealed as the story goes on, showing the strengths and the weaknesses of the main characters. The Coalition becomes a greater threat as the heroes prepare for the next round.

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on anything else?

Joe: I’ve written a few movie scripts, one really good one. But, I think that working the OMNI series is the thing that interests me most. I’ve sat down and written the end of the series, which happens several books later. It’s nice to have a clear vision of where you started and where you will end. This series is my labor of love.

Tell me a little about Rejection Press? What’s the idea behind it? What’s next?

Joe: When I finished my first draft, I started emailing publishers and agents, ignorant of the whole publishing process. I was fortunate if anyone even responded with a rejection. Most of the time, it was no response at all.

I had the chance to meet a lady on the internet who had just published a book on horse breeding. Being an expert in her field and working to polish her query letter and approach, she sent out over 200 letters over a two-year period before an agent agreed to read her book.

I’m too impatient for that, so Rejection Press was born. I started a small press and my work is available online.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to hook up with a big publisher. To date, no one in the mainstream publishing industry has read my work.

As for the future, expect more of the OMNI series and more of the same storytelling.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Journey through "In Memoriam"

I called my wife as I started the 25-minute journey from home today and she informed me that I had a package waiting for me. I wasn't expecting anything--after all, I haven't ordered anything online since Christmas--but I finally put it together: my contributor's copy of A Thousand Faces had arrived!

The pristine cover of this fine publication.

I wrote "In Memoriam" nearly a year ago and learned it had been accepted for publication in May. The actual issue appeared in November. I have a special attachment to the story; it was the very first story I ever submitted and the first accepted for publication, although it was not the first one I ever had published (that distinction belongs to "The Bank Loan," which appeared in an issue of This Mutant Life)

A familiar author penned this story.

As I flipped through the book eager to again read the fine stories contained within, I spotted something on the last page that made me smile. A Thousand Faces accepted another work of mine...which was actually promoted!

It's blurry...but if you squint really hard, you can see that certain familiar author's work promoted for the next issue!

A Thousand Faces publishes quarterly. My next story, "The Villain," will appear in the March 2011 issue, which is coming soon! Make sure to check out A Thousand Faces for updates! Of course, when it's up, you'll hear about it here!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Matt at Work! I Promise!


I have had, admittedly, a very quiet week on the blog. It's correlated with a fairly quiet week writing. I dedicated the first half of the week to TFT's first-ever book review, which will be up shortly. When I haven't been making notes about that book, I've been revising one of my own.

I have great dreams of turning I, Crimsonstreak into an e-book and becoming the next Amanda Hocking (rolls eyes). I'm not serious, but I am contemplating doing something a little different with this book. It's too much "fun" for a mainstream publisher. Perhaps a small press would be interested? I don't know...but I do know it needs a lot of polish. So no short stories, no big bursts of creativity, and no updates on the Reggie Miller Writing Continuum.

Revisions...it's like writing...only...not.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

You Are What you Tweet

I used to hate Twitter.

A lot.

I'm serious about this.

I once said if Twitter were a person, I'd punch it in the face. And then I'd kick it 17 times while it's down. After that, I'd locate the nearest burlap sack, stuff Twitter inside, weigh it down with bricks, and throw it into the Laurentian Abyss.

The concepts of "tweet" and "retweet" and allowing stupid 140-character messages to replace, oh I don't know, actual thought and discourse alarmed me.

Text messages on steroids.

Despicable. Distasteful.

But you know what? I was wrong about Twitter. If it were a person, I'd take it out for lunch...my treat.

I don't have many followers...I'm working on it...but Twitter is an incredible tool for writers. You can reach hundreds of people with a simple, short message. New blog post? Share it. Read a great blog post? Share it. Story accepted? Share it. Story rejected? Share it.

I know, I know. This is 2008-era stuff that people a lot smarter than me learned a long time ago. What I have to say is nothing revolutionary, least of all to those who are already on "the Twitter."

But if you know a writer who isn't taking advantage of Twitter, hit them.

Hit them hard.

If they're too shy to tweet, Twitter is still too valuable to overlook or stubbornly ignore. Writers can get a feel for individual agents, discover valuable blog posts from other writers struggling in this crazy business, and find outlets for their work.

Twitter will grow on them...maybe like a festive moss, but it will grow on them. Pretty soon, they'll discover things like hashtags and Writers Wednesday. They'll overcome that shyness and begin to make connections and build a sense of community.

So don't punch Twitter in the face.

Embrace it...and encourage others to do the same.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Quiet! Revisions Underway!

100th Comment on this post gets this logo on a t-shirt.

While I don't know where the rest of the week will take me, I'm committed to revising one of my earliest books, I, Crimsonstreak, a humorous, first-person take on the superhero genre.

This one's been sitting around for a couple of years. Let's put this in perspective: when I finished I, Crimsonstreak, I'd written a total of 120,000 words between that book and my very first. Since then, my writing output has been been much more impressive, with two other finished books and more than 35 short stories.

This isn't boasting; what I'm saying is that I've put a lot of words between I, Crimsonstreak and myself since originally "finishing" the novel (we all know, of course, that no creative endeavor is truly ever "finished"). When I was writing it, I had no idea what I was doing (in many ways, I still don't); I hadn't had anything published. While I'm not a big-time author by any stretch of the imagination, I now feel like I have a better grasp of writing in general. I can look back at this book, see its flaws, and grind them out.

After that, I'm going to need some beta readers to take a look at it and then go back for more revisions. But I can't do that until I feel the book has improved dramatically from its last draft.

The blog will probably remain relatively quiet this week (although that could ALWAYS change) because I'm working on revisions instead of coming up with something new. It's not that revisions aren't writing--writing is revising, point of fact--but it's not that exciting to do any kind of commentary on revisions...unless I find some extremely poorly-written sentence to share.

But wait...I can use the Peytonometer for this!

I, Crimsonstreak--now in the "Audibles" stage!

The Peytonometer: Not just for short stories!

My other project is a book review for someone who found this blog and thought I'd like to read his superhero novel. I'm about halfway through the book, which is about 600 pages. Either this week or next week, look for a review and an interview with the writer.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A writing week (kind of) wasted

This was a lost week for me as far as writing is concerned I didn't write a single word of fiction nor did I revise any of my current works, meaning I pretty much failed in every possible capacity from a writing standpoint (although I did learn the first line of "We Didn't Start the Fire!").

I also pledged to read a book and do a review. Guess what: I'm not even to the second chapter yet. Work, work, and a side, freelance video editing project stole all my time this week.

The irony? Work and the video project pay actual money.

Writing does not.

In the last two weeks, I've had two story acceptances and two story rejections. The acceptances are "for the love" publications; the rejections were from places that pay a little bit of money.

But that's okay.

Writing isn't about the money. I would love to get paid, but do you know why I'd love to get paid to write? It's not because I'm a greedy guy who wants to score big and never worry about money for the rest of my life (although I'll take that!); it's because getting paid to write means I could do it full-time and devote entire days to writing instead of just a few hours here and there. The most frustrating thing about this week was staying up until 3:30 in the morning working on a video project knowing that I COULD be sending out query letters or polishing a story or revising a book or creating something entirely new. On the other hand, I did enjoy the editing project...it was another way of using my creativity.

It takes years to build a body of work and find an audience. I am at the very beginning of this whole writing thing; it's something I often forget.

We read stories about a super-successful author like Amanda Hocking and the media makes her into this "media sensation" who found overnight success. But Ms. Hocking is no overnight success; she's been working and writing and trying to find her niche just like everybody else. She simply became frustrated with "big house publishing" and tried something different. She's sold a ton of ebooks and is now the example people point to and say, "Take that Big House Publishing! We're gonna clone a million Amanda Hockings and take you down!"

(FACEPALM)

Not only is that NOT what Ms. Hocking set out to do, she doesn't even think her success will be repeated on a wide scale. For every author like her, there are thousands of others eking out dozens of sales a week. Books are being seen as products and not books; being sold at the same, low price points that made music labels cringe when iTunes came to town (Ms. Hocking has terrific blog post about her success here...you can also find her on the Twitter...and she tweets A LOT).

Her success, however, does make people wonder. I know I have at least one book that is not going to be a very marketable piece for a big publisher. I've toyed with the idea of turning that book into an ebook (after a healthy spit-shine, of course) and trying it out just to test the waters. But I have no real following, very little knowledge of how to market, no outlet for getting pub, and abso-freaking-lutely no idea where to start.

Okay...I lied about the last part. It all starts with the writing part. The stuff after that hurts my brain.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

You can't win 'em all...

While one short story was accepted today, another was rejected.

Don't worry, I'm just fine. These things happen in publishing...when...you're *sob* told *sob sob* you're not *sob sob sob* good enough...

Poor "Baz Ramen and His Great Intergalactic Band." It's a fun story, just not the most marketable one in the world. This means I should give up, right? I'm a hack writer, right?

Oh, the humanity!

On the plus side...new graphic time!

What do we call it when a story gets rejected?

It's been Foxboroughed!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

"Vengeance" is Static Movement's!

Well, I can tell you my writing productivity this week will be very low. I have a freelance video project with a tight deadline to work on and I'm also going to do the site's first-ever book review. Funny how that works...you have to actually READ the book before you review it.

At least I have one nice piece of writing news to share today: my short story "Vengeance" was accepted for an anthology called Serve in Heaven, Reign in Hell from the awesome folks at Static Movement. One thing I'll say for them: they never lack for anthology ideas. Seriously, check out their website and you'll find more than two dozen open anthologies!

A quick summary of "Vengeance" - Calvin Collins is a nobody, a low-level hood with friends in low places--the perfect police informant. Double-crossed by two detectives he foolishly trusted, Calvin gets three bullets in the chest and an all-expenses-paid trip to Hell. There, he faces a choice: a painful, fiery afterlife or the chance to get even. But in order to avenge his death, he must first become Vengeance, a being of pure, dark energy who serves an even darker master.

Oh...oh...oh! Wait...

Do you know what this means? I get to invoke the Peytonometer!!!!!!!

Dial it up to "We Have a Winner," baby!


What does the Peytonometer mean? You'll find the answer here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Writing Goals for the Week

This wasn't exactly a banner weekend for writing. I spent most of Saturday involved in a bathroom remodel. Today, I went out with my wife and we're preparing to watch the Oscars.

I did put together a fairly lengthy blog post last night about the importance of self-editing. However, as far as "new" fiction words are concerned, Friday night was it. On the plus side, I did write two short stories this week. I won't post the Peytonometer, but both are now in the "Audibles" stage, which means I need to work on revisions. I think one of these stories will actually fit quite well with an open anthology, but it needs a little spit-shine before I send it in.

I abhor the office work side of writing (the proof is here), but I'd better do some of it this week. I'm going to release a couple of short stories "out into the wild." A story idea may strike at any moment, but for now, I'm devoting the bulk of this week to revising one of my novels. This is the time for I, Crimsonstreak to get a long-awaited, much-needed fourth revision.

I originally wrote the comic superhero story (and by comic, I mean humorous and not comic as in comic book...I know, my head is about to 'splode, too) back in 2008. It features a super-speedster who must save the world after his father decides to play...and win...his own personal game of Risk. Over the years, some of the pop culture references have lost their meaning and I've also grown quite a bit as a writer. What seemed "good" two years ago seems "amateurish" in 2011.

Several months ago...last summer I think...I began reworking I, Crimsonstreak. The revision only covered about three chapters, so I have a lot of work to do. The novel is on the short side, a hair over 60,000 words. I would like to tell 2008 Matt Adams that he should probably try to bump up the word count a bit. The novel also includes an additional 25,000 words of meta-fiction (character bios, journals, newspaper articles, etc.) that need to be re-arranged and put in some kind of appendix format. Right now, the different texts are not in any chronological or thematic order.

The primary goal, however, is to dig into the text and eliminate clunkiness, instances of "telling" instead of "showing," and other deficiencies. The good news: I like revisions. The bad news: I hate revisions.

Such is the life of a writer.

The Importance of Self-Editing

Although sometimes uncertain of the relevance of my writing advice, I do like to pound out a column here or there on writing process and craft. This isn't expert advice, because I'm not an expert writer.

There is no such thing as an expert writer. Not in academia, not in the editorial department, and certainly not among writers. "Expert" implies someone has mastered the craft and has little else to learn. Anyone who's written a story realizes many opportunities exist within a piece to polish and smooth it out. These changes improve the writing considerably, taking what was once a clunky mess and turning it into serviceable prose. In some cases, these revisions go beyond just serviceable, transforming so-so writing into a breathtaking, organic journey through character, plot, and setting.

Before that can happen, of course, a writer must first transfer the story from the brain to the page. Writing methods vary greatly, from the "2,000 words a day" methodology to the strange world of the Reggie Miller Writing Continuum. My friend Chris from Write Now Indy has an inner editor trapped in his brain who refuses to let him write organically. The mind-melded editor stops him from misspelling a word or constructing a sentence of questionable quality. While admirable, the "head-itor" does not allow for productive writing sessions. Chris' solution, while unconventional, works for him.

I'm partial to the Reggie Miller Writing Continuum. I'm not only the RMWC founder, I'm also a client!

Once the work is complete--I'm talking about everything from simple blog posts to short stories, novellas, to full-length books--you, the writer, are not even close to finished. It's tempting after months or weeks or even years of writing to send that "hot off the press" story out there.

Just-finished manuscripts. All perfect, of course. Ready to be sent to agents and publications...

Wait a second. Someone is telling me not to send them...

Don't do it.

Every writer needs beta-readers and every author needs editors, but the first line of defense when it comes to content and quality control is you. If anyone knows your writing intimately, the verbal ticks and words you lean on too often, the character traits and archetypes you put into your work, it's you.

That's both a quasi-tragic and wonderful thing.

It's quasi-tragic because you are an expert in your own writing and can't often see past your own flaws.

It's wonderful for the same reason. If you can learn to step back and brutalize your own writing, your finished manuscripts will have a certain sense of polish to them. It's hard--the story and characters are your babies and you'll do anything to keep them from harm--but necessary. For this blog post, I'm sharing tips I use to improve my self-editing. Of course, these apply to the point after a story is complete. A self-editor who comes out during the creative process is a real pain and should be ignored under most circumstances.

Put it aside, no matter how long it takes. In my experience, the best time to self-edit is several days after you've finished a project. Maybe that should be several weeks or even a month...but you must mentally separate yourself from the story. When you do this, you'll more easily spot grammatical errors, inelegant language, poor plotting, and hit-you-in-the-face foreshadowing that lacks any semblance of subtlety.

Just print it, baby! The "green" among us will hate this one. I don't know about anyone else, but I find spotting my own mistakes from a computer monitor nearly impossible. For every error I catch, three more get a free pass. I think it has to do with the fact I've written the story at the computer and it's a familiar "brain space" for me to read at. I like to print out my stories (yes, double-spaced, I know, I know...I'm an environmental pariah) and read them in a comfy spot, red pen at the ready. My self-editing is much sharper on paper. On the plus side, I've also started re-reading my short stories on my iPhone (thank you, Dropbox!), a practice that helps me spot errors more consistently. I think it's because I'm seeing the work in a different form and relating to it differently.

Activate the T-800 Adverb-inator. Over the past few years, I've read a lot of columns and posts signaling a de facto War on Adverbs. Some call for the outright elimination of adverbs from your writing. I'm not a radical anti-adverb guy, but I do advocate the unleashing of the T-800 Adverb-inator. In many cases, adverbs can be eliminated; sometimes, I realize I'm stringing a bunch of them together. Anytime a sentence starts to rhyme from all the "-ly" words in it, it's time to pare down the adverbs. The less often you use them, the more impact they'll have when you do.

You've been adverb-inated.

"That" doesn't always fly. The word "that" has many uses. The fish was that big. The horse that won the race is from champion stock. That movie was great. It's a good idea that you decided to come. In many cases, the word "that" can go. I won't put a percentage on it, but in an overwhelming number of cases, you'll find "that" can be omitted. Some sentences need it for flow or clarification purposes...and if it feels right to use "that," by all means do it. However, "that" can also clutter up sentences and add the appearance of wordiness. You can easily trim it most of the time.

"Just" cause for elimination. This is more of a personal problem than anything else. I use the word "just" too much. In a recent short story, I had a sentence in which "just" appeared three different times. Since I've trained myself to spot this problem while self-editing, I nipped it in the bud. "Just" is a filler word...a five-cent word Twinkie. It tastes okay, but it won't fill you up. And too much makes you sick.

They're just Twinkies.

Comma comma down dooby doo down down... Breaking up is hard to do, but using commas correctly can prove even more challenging. When reviewing my work, I'll spot several places in which I've used commas incorrectly or too often. Nothing is worse than the meandering, paragraph-long sentence that's really a bunch of compound sentences strung together with commas. In most cases, shorter, punchier sentences are easier for readers to follow. This piece of advice is completely dependent upon the type of work you're writing. Perhaps the piece requires more flowery, ornate language. If that's the case, go for it...just learn to spot it when that's not your intention.

Theme show. Listen, not every story starts with some grandiose, life-changing theme behind it. I recently wrote a story about a robotic bounty hunter simply because I wanted to write a story about a robotic bounty hunter. Still, that story ended up with a simple theme: a machine that illogically wanted to become more than its programming allowed. Like it or not, your story has some theme or purpose tied to it, even if it's not explicitly stated. Make sure to identify that theme, no matter how elusive it may be.

“I'm simply saying that theme, uh...uh...finds a way.”

"Be" aware. Action verbs, action verbs, action verbs! The verbs of "be" are flexible and familiar. They work well with adverbs, but they severely limit your arsenal. I'm not calling for an all-out War on Verbs of Be, but limit their use. Action verbs engage readers and turn so-so prose into exciting, memorable writing.

Get some perspective...and make sure you stick with it. One of the first projects I ever wrote employed a first-person narrative. That's hard to screw up. Yet, it's still possible to do it. Your first-person narrator can't know certain things, unless he/she is a mind-reader. When working with a first-person narrative, watch out for writing that states exactly what another character is thinking. In third-person writing, look out for any jarring changes in perspective, especially in stories with multiple points of view. A scene that starts from a certain character's perspective should never deviate from that perspective.

So, what's the consistency? If a character on page one doesn't know anything about baseball and then whips out a baseball analogy on page three, you have a consistency problem. If that character uses a baseball analogy near the end of the story, that could be character development (i.e., a friend is trying to convince a non-baseball fan to learn about the game and the character make strides to learn about the sport). Character traits and motivations should not inexplicably vary from scene to scene or page to page. Think about it like this: your friends, your very best friends, usually won't surprise you with their behavior. You know them well enough to predict what they'll say or how they'll react. Characters, to you, should be like your very best friends. When they do something inconsistent with their personalities, you should be able to identify it with laser-like precision.

Jell-O: great as a snack, not so great for character traits.

Don't feel too entitled. When I come up with a concept for a story, I usually conjure a speculative title. Sometimes it's very simple; several of my superhero short stories are based around conceits of the genre and get attention-grabbing titles like "The Villain" and "The Journalist." The title I write at the beginning of my story is simply a guideline. Once the story is finished, a theme or line usually leaps off the page, chokes me, and forces me to re-title my work. Other times, I simply end up with what I started with. Every once in a great while, I know exactly what title I'll use and the story writes to it (i.e., the title is the definitive ending point and the story guides my characters to their final destination).

Read it. Out loud. This one comes from my background in writing for TV news. People may look at you funny, your significant other may tell you to shut up, and you may feel uncomfortable. However, this remains one of the best ways to get a feel for the rhythm and flow of your words. Read the whole thing aloud...you'll be amazed at how many mistakes you'll pick up. Why does this work so well? When I read silently, my brain usually fills in missing words. When I read out loud, I don't have that luxury; if the word isn't there, most of the time my brain won't fill it in as I read. Sure, it will reduce you to being "the crazy person" talking in the corner, but you'll be better for it. This method doesn't work well, however, with novel-length works in their entirety.

End it, already. Writing an effective ending (and recognizing when you've arrived there) is one of the hardest things to do. Cat Rambo blogged about story endings earlier this week, and the advice is stellar. A good self-editor feels the pace of the story and understands when it reaches its conclusion. Writers easily succumb to pitfalls like false endings (Return of the King Syndrome--you know, when the story ends like seven times), unnecessary epilogues, and thematic diversions (when the ending doesn't fit what appears to be the theme of the story). Understanding the moment when the proverbial credits should roll remains a skill that must develop over time.

The story doesn't end until you pin me.

It never hurts to have an experienced editor look over your work, so cultivate your inner self-editor as a first step.

Keep in mind self-editing is simply part of the revision process. You always need to have someone with a critical eye look over your work. And if you do know an experienced editor, well, make friends with them!