Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gunnerkrigg Court

Gunnerkrigg Court is not bad at all. I've read that Neil Gaiman likes it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Progress Report

I suppose I should say what has been going on. I simply have not been feeling well. Most of the time I have been feeling sluggish, unambitious, and just bad. I've also had frequent headaches, as in several per week. This month, I had a headache that lasted an entire week.

Given the above, any creativity I might have is about dead. Arguing with people on the Internet is about the most to which I can aspire, and I haven't been doing that too well.

The good news is that it probably isn't a mystery about the root cause of this. My blood sugar has been out of control, and that can do all kinds of evil things. My physician has again adjusted my medication. We shall see.

I have made a few notes for an Ursus story that takes place before he merges with Arthur and for more stuff about Arthur that takes place after Magician's Merger. I'm leaning toward the pre-Arthur story as the next thing I put serious effort into.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good Essay

Distributism vs. Redistributism--good little essay by Dr. Pournelle, something to think about.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Two Things Worth Reading

Magic by Lazlo Zalezac isn't finished yet, but it is funny and well written. It's on the Storiesonline site, so you might need to take care if you read at work.

Evo and Proud is an anthropology blog worth going back and reading from the beginning if human nature interests you. In fact, reading from the beginning is the best way to use the site; the knowledge builds.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Progress Report

I've been tired and uncreative. Part of this is health related, part of it is a long-term case of the blahs.

Anyway, I don't know when I'm going to get writing again, if ever. For those of you who read Magician's Merger, thank you.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Why Write?

I find that creative acts, over the long term, give more lasting satisfaction than non-creative acts. For this I have no explanation; I simply take it as a given of my psychology. Two exceptions to this rule exist. The first is reading. I love to read and do it close to compulsively. Literal years can go by without a single day in which I haven't read for at least a half hour. The second exception is finding things out. I'm insatiably curious about a wide range of stuff. Add these three things together, and one can immediately understand why writing is an excellent thing for me to do. It is a creative endeavor that allows me to make constructive use of my constant reading and curiosity.

So, why haven't I written more? Why in the past did I always give up? Depression, anxiety, fear, weariness, self doubt--all have knocked me off course. However, a few things have changed over the last few years. One, the Web now makes it possible for anyone to share his or her work without gatekeepers. Two, I've been on antidepressants long enough that many of my negative emotions are under control. Three, Alexandra Erin has pointed the way. (If Ms. Erin happens to read this, thank you.)

Alexandra Erin, by her example, has demonstrated that fiction writers on the Web can both find an audience and get paid for their work. Some people disparage pecuniary considerations, but I don't. For one, getting paid for an endeavor allows one to spend more time doing it. There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a life. For another, as a first approximation, people are willing to pay for what they value. (Yes, there are exceptions. That's why I called it a "first approximation" and not an absolute truth.) Money is a sincere compliment and indisputable evidence of value received.

Therefore, there are a few things I want to accomplish with my writing. One, I want to improve my craft, because skill in itself creates satisfaction. Two, I want to find an audience of reasonable size. Three, I want to make some income from writing. Ultimately, I suppose the dream is to make enough income from writing to support myself. Can I do these things? I have no idea, but managing to complete the first volume of Magician's Merger was a significant step.

Volume one was highly educational. I learned that discouragement and lack of inspiration pass with rest. I believe my skill grew as I wrote, and I learned what it takes to complete a novel-length work. It also felt good and continues to feel good. I suggest that anyone who dreams about writing just grab a free website and start writing and posting. Nothing else will teach you more, and it helps you get over the fear of rejection. If it's your first work, don't worry about giving it away for free. It's unlikely to be a masterpiece. Just think of it as an educational expense.

I purposefully didn't put up a donation button for the first volume of Magician's Merger. I wasn't about to ask people for payment for something I might not even finish, and I figured that reading and constructive comments were plenty of payment for the efforts of a beginner. (The advertising on my site brought in only a small amount of money, which I simply rolled into advertising for my site.) For volume two, I'm going to put up a couple of donation buttons and see what happens.

If I see my audience growing and a stream of money proportional to audience size starts coming in, it will be evidence that my work is of value to others. That would encourage me to continue. If the audience doesn't grow and people don't find my fiction of value, that will tell me something, too. (If you like my work, don't worry. I just want to see some growth and some income for my second effort. I think my expectations are realistic.)

Anyway, at this point in my skill development, it seems that volume two is going to have to continue in a highly serialized manner, with maybe one or two major story arcs along the way. I've been doing a lot of thinking and research while trying to develop a tighter plot, and I haven't been able to do it. I hope to develop that skill as I continue writing, but thus far, I don't have it.

I've also decided to post all of volume two as a serial on BlogSpot before I post it all at once on Storiesonline. That, I hope, will bring more eyes to my donation buttons and advertisements. It will also help me find and eliminate mistakes before I subject my work to the Storiesonline rating system.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Secret Commonwealth

Hardcore fantasy readers might find The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies by Robert Kirk and Andrew Lang to be interesting reading. Lang, a nineteenth-century folklorist, had printed and wrote a long introduction to a seventeenth-century manuscript by Kirk.

Both parts are worth reading if you like the topic. The language is old, and by our standards the spelling is eccentric, but you will see where this little book has had an influence on contemporary fantasy. Definitely read the footnotes and make free use of Google.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Progress Report One

I have approximately four thousand potential words for a second volume written. I have a synopsis partially filled out.

Lots of thinking and navel gazing are yet to be done.

For those who are curious, volume one is somewhat under 111,000 words long. The whole thing needs another polish or two, at least. I'm having trouble working up the enthusiasm.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chapter 36 Is Up

Chapter 36 of Magician's Merger is up.

That's the end of volume one. I intend to try a new experiment: work in advance for volume two rather than post as soon as I have written. I don't know how far in advance I'll work. Maybe I'll write the whole thing first. At any rate, I'll make progress reports in this blog occasionally.

In the course of writing Magician's Merger, I received no mean comments and no nasty email. Only one review, so far, has been negative. Everyone else has been supportive and/or made constructive criticisms. Thank you.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for catching mistakes. Thank you for spreading the word.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Writing Guides

Other than the dictionary and grammar and punctuation guides, the two most useful how-to books about fiction writing that I've read are Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain and Trail and Error: A Key to the Secret of Writing and Selling by Jack Woodford. The rest have caused me more confusion than anything.

Chapter 35 Is Up

Chapter 35 of Magician's Merger is up. It's longer than I've been averaging, and it was a lot of fun to write.

As always, mistake catching is appreciated. If you like the story, please spread the word.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Change in the Weather

I've finally read the entire archive of A Change in the Weather. It's good stuff.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I've changed the typeface on this blog and on the Blogspot version of Magician's Merger. Is it easier to read? Harder to read? No difference?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Chapter 33 Is Up, Finally

Chapter 33 of Magician's Merger is up.

As always, caught misspellings and such are appreciated.

Friday, June 13, 2008


We are coming up on the endgame here. There is at most a handful of chapters to go for this "book," I think, and Ursus just informed me that there was no way he could ever go along with the plan I had in mind.

This installment writing has its drawbacks.

I'll try to get chapter 33 out tomorrow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On Why a New Chapter is Taking So Long

Short answer: I've been totally out of it--sleepy with poor concentration. I've written about 1700 words of the next chapter, but it has been slow going. On the other hand, I haven't given up.

I suppose I should go change my claimed posting frequency on Pages Unbound.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Chapter 32 Is Up

Chapter 32 of Magician's Merger is up.

I so wanted to make a joke about Santa slamming into the roof, but "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was never written on Arthur's node.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chapter 31 Is Up

Chapter 31 of Magician's Merger is up.

How am I doing regarding balancing out action with everything else?

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Feel So Proud

I have received my first hatchet job (by motonousmuse).

Now, I've never considered Magician's Merger to be great writing. It's an experiment more than anything. What can I produce if I don't give up? Everything about it is geared to keeping me writing. I post as soon as it's beat into decent form. The writing gets one or two polishes before posting. I don't have an editor, etc.

But, Jeez, this person makes me sound illiterate.

(If you are enjoying the story, don't worry about it. I'm not discouraged.)

Chapter 30 Is Up

Chapter 30 of Magician's Merger is up.

This one took longer to write than I had hoped.

The story Arthur's mom tells is similar to one my mom told me. I've changed a few of the details. I'm sure my mom believed what she had said.

Yes, there are similarities between Arthur's mom and my own, but there are also a lot of differences. Most of my characters have in them pieces of people that I knew, but many things get changed. Sometimes more than one person gets combined.

Some of the properties of the cantankerous younger brothers were drawn from me.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chapter 29 Is Up

Chapter 29 of Magician's Merger is up. Thank Bog.

Caught typos, misspellings, and homonym mistakes are always appreciated. Spreading the word is always appreciated. Blogs, forums, and social bookmarking sites are all good places to spread the word. My sincere thanks to those who do so.

If you are coming from Storiesonline when you read this and are worried about linking to a site that has (gasp!) erotica, I do mirror the story from here. I think the story itself is worksafe, at least in my estimation, and I don't accept pornographic ads on the Blogger site.

Actually, linking to the Blogger site is slightly more advantageous for me. The small amount of revenue I make from Project Wonderful ads has been been paying for the ads I use to promote the story.

(At one point in today's installment, I so wanted to write "consummate Vs". If you don't get the reference, Google it. I doubt you'll be sorry.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Over the next several days, I'm going to be revising Magician's Merger. I'll be doing some polishing, fixing typos I happen to catch, and italicizing the inner dialog in the earlier chapters. I don't foresee any changes in the storyline, so there is no need to reread anything.

Mana vs. Manna

This issue just came up in an email.

Mana vs. manna: I figured either word works for what I wanted to convey. I believe Larry Niven, within the fantasy genre, was the first writer to use the first word to mean magical energy, but I think the term actually comes from the magical practices of some culture that I can't recall. The second specifically refers to food given by God, but metaphorically refers to something that is there for the taking,

In the end, it's just a handle for the stuff that powers magic. I wanted to be clear that it is different stuff from everyday physical energy and doesn't necessarily follow our laws of physics. As far as I'm concerned, it can be called anything. That's why I had Ursus say that it has lots of names and we might just as well call it manna.

Of course, now I have people thinking I'm making a homonym mistake. I guess I should have just made up a word.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Chapter 28 Is Up

Chapter 28 of Magician's Merger is up.

Getting this one finished was hard. It wasn't because the writing was difficult, but I've been sleepy lately. I'm not sure if it's blood sugar issues or medication issues or something else. It isn't lack of rest, because I've been sleeping a lot. In any case, I would go to write and want to dose off at the computer, which is not good for production.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chapter 27 Is Up

Chapter 27 of Magician's Merger is up.

I had wanted to have a new chapter ready for yesterday, but I had a fantasy of writing something like, "And then the asteroid struck, and they all died." This let me know that the next chapter was going to have to wait.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chapter 26 Is Up

Chapter 26 of Magician's Merger is up. Winter break draws ever closer with its precious two weeks free from school.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chapter 25 Is Up

Chapter 25 of Magician's Merger is up.

I actually knew someone who believed it was legal to kick children but not hit them with one's hand.

If you like the story, please consider spreading the word.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chapter 24 Is Up

Chapter 24 of Magician's Merger is up. Getting this one done was rough going. I had two days in a row of a headache combined with an overall lousy feeling. I had hoped to get the chapter done for Wednesday, but I've been finding out that feeling bad tends to sap my creativity, so it wasn't to be.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I read and enjoyed the first twenty-six chapters of Superstition.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chapter 23 Is Up

Chapter 23 of Magician's Merger is up. This one was fun to write.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Three Minds

There have been a few questions about the three minds in Arthur's head. One is Arthur, one is Ursus, and one is the resultant of their continuing merger. The resultant is the primary narrator, but Ursus and Arthur sometimes do the job.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Kids Appear Older Than They Are

One of the things I'd like to accomplish with Magician's Merger, in terms of learning craft, is portraying believable characters. Especially, I want the kids in the story to be acting their ages. They don't have to be typical for their ages, but I want them to be believable for their ages. For anyone who feels like providing feedback, please use the comments section to tell me where I'm most badly screwing it up. I am not looking for compliments. I know I'm making mistakes, and I'm looking for places where you said, "There is no way a kid that age would ever act like that." Arthur, of course, doesn't count.

For a quick review, these are the grades of most of the characters:

Grade 1--Charlie Powyr

Grade 2--Jenny Lukowski

Grade 3--Rich Powyr

Grade 5--Mary Powyr

Grade 6

Terry Prestor
Al Gallo
Sean MacDougle
Kirsten Kennedy
Pam Derbyshire
Debbie Taylor
Carol Flagler
Pat Hughes
Donald Beauchamp (old enough to be in grade 7)

Grade 7--Brian Onken (one of the four who attacked Arthur)

Grade 8

Danny Lukowski
Mike Prestor

I don't have kids, so by necessity I've been relying on my memories of the people I knew and of myself. I also recalled my nieces and nephews when they were that age, but I know that kids act differently among themselves than when adults are present. One of the things I try to keep in mind as I write is that girls around the ages of my characters can be more verbally fluent than most boys, and they tend to behave a year or two more maturely.

Chapter 22 Is Up

Chapter 22 of Magician's Merger is now up.

I'm experimenting with using italics to indicate internal dialog this chapter. Do you prefer the italics? Or do you prefer the way I've been doing it with standard type? Please let me know in the comments.

Review Comment

Magician's Merger just received a nice review over on Pages Unbound. One remark, though, made me wish the site had comment buttons:

The kids appear older than they are. For Arthur it's ok, since he kind of is, but the rest of the bunch act nothing like 6th graders do. If I were fed no info about their age, I would guess 8th grade, minimum.
Two of the important characters, Danny and Mike, are in the eighth grade.

To the reviewer, if he reads this, thank you for the kind review. It's just that one part that struck me as strange. Has the spelling been getting any better in the later chapters?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Chapter 21 Is Up

Chapter 21 of Magician's Merger is up.

Where is This All Going?

I've had a few readers in their feedback wonder where Magician's Merger is going. As background, let me say that Ursus Enlil is an old character of mine. He is the protagonist of an unfinished novel of which I've written a substantial chunk, a major supporting character of an unfinished novel of which I've written a much smaller chunk, and I've spent a lot of time thinking about his back story without ever writing it down. The events in Magician's Merger are just a small piece of his very long life.

That all said, I had a strong idea of the beginning of Magician's Merger, that is, poor Ursus gets reborn as a kid. I have a strong idea of the necessary ending--or at least a major event that must take place near the end of the story.

What I don't really know are all the events between the beginning and the end. Many of them I only know a couple of chapters ahead. Some of them I only discover when I write the chapter. I don't know about my readers, but doing it that way certainly helps keep me entertained. In effect, I'm telling myself a story as I go along.

Thus, Magician's Merger is most definitely designed to be a Web serial, not a tightly plotted novel. Readers who read stories to get to the end will be disappointed. I hope that I'm entertaining readers who read for the trip.

Web serials are a revival of a form of text story that died out for a while. It never did die out in television or comic strips. Think story arcs rather than plot. As I said, though, I do at least have an ultimate goal I keep in the back of my mind.

I hope I haven't just disappointed too many people. In my defense, I plead that I don't really know what I'm doing as a writer. This whole experiment in writing Web fiction for me is an exercise in immediate gratification, which I hope will keep me writing.

Gloria Fidelis

I read and enjoyed the first 23 chapters of Gloria Fidelis.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Chapter 20 Is Up

Chapter 20 of Magician's Merger is up.

Fliskus is the brand name of a flying disk on Arthur's node.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dead End Streets

I've read and enjoyed the first seventeen chapters of Dead End Streets

Chapter 19 Is Up

Chapter 19 of Magician's Merger is up. I started this one and had trouble, but then I slept on it and it went a lot easier. It was pretty fun to write.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


I encourage readers who like Magician's Merger to link to it and tell their friends. Those who might feel uneasy about linking to a story on SOL can link to the mirror on Blogspot.

Part of what has kept me writing this tale is a desire not to disappoint all the people who are reading it. Therefore, the more people who are reading, the more likely I am to keep going--caught in a trap I've set for myself.

The main thing that has prevented me from finishing what I write is self-doubt. It creeps in and I find myself thinking: This stuff is utter crap. Who would ever read this? Seeing that a few thousand people actually are reading it and waiting for more helps me bury the doubt for another chapter.

To those who like the story, thank you.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Chapter 18 Is Up

Chapter 18 of Magician's Merger is up. Given it's relatively short length, this one took a long time to write.

I suspect the difficulty was caused by my doctor doubling my dose of two medications. I felt rather spacey since Tuesday and only started feeling mostly normal this morning. Poor health just ain't any fun.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Chapter 17 Is Up

Chapter 17 of Magician's Merger is up. I personally think this chapter is a bit of a letdown after fifteen and sixteen. I certainly didn't have as much fun writing it. I hope that there is at least a chuckle or two in it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chapter 16 Is Up

Chapter 16 of Magician's Merger is up. I don't have much to say about this chapter. I knew its events before I wrote chapter 15.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chapter 15 Is Up

Chapter 15 of Magician's Merger is up.

For anyone interested, Ursus's fighting techniques are mostly drawn from Get Tough by W. E. Fairbairn.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Working on Chapter 15, Sorta

I've been working on chapter 15, but I've been feeling more tired than normal this week, plus a little icky. On top of that, I've been having high blood sugar issues. Finally, I'm having trouble deciding how I want a scene to go.

In short, I haven't abandoned the story.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Ax of Edification 2

I've also done some slighter revisions to Chapter Two. Again, they primarily are cuts. I haven't changed the storyline.

I'm embarrassed about how many times that truly awful infodump in chapter one made it through re-reads and editing sessions. Anyway, I hope I scare off fewer readers, and I appreciate even harsh feedback, despite the sting.

I think the chapters get a bit better as the story goes on. If they don't, please let me know. I don't promise to change things, but I never know what is going to sink in and prove useful.

The Ax of Edification

I took a brutal Ax to the infodumps in Chapter One. I didn't add anything, but I took out a lot. I've changed the Blogger version of the story. I'll probably wait until later to change the Storiesonline version so that I can read the revisions again and make sure they are what I want to do before I bug the webmaster.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Chapter 14 Is Up

Chapter 14 of Magician's Merger is up. It's fairly short, but it makes a logical chunk the way it is, so I decided to go ahead and make it a chapter.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chapter 13 Is Up

Chapter 13 of Magician's Merger is up.

This one uses a lot of rough language, but if my memory serves, it accurately reflects how kids that age, especially boys, talk to each other.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Chapter 12 Is Up

Chapter 12 of Magician's Merger is up.

People who like the story should feel free to link to it and are encouraged to recommend it to their friends.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chapter 11 Is Up

Yes, the People of the Wolf are the Proto-Indo-Europeans.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chapter 10 Is Up

Chapter 10 of Magician's Merger has been posted. The catching of egregious mistakes is highly appreciated. Also, I changed the commentary rules so that anyone may comment.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Minor Fixes Chaper 8

The reposting of Chapter 8 of Magician's Merger is to make some minor fixes. It doesn't change the story at all.

Currency Exchange Rate

The mental exchange rate that I've been using as I write Magician's Merger is that one pound in The United Provinces of Novi Orbis is roughly worth ten current US dollars.


The calendar of Arthur's 1973 doesn't quite match the calendar of our 1973. I did that on purpose.

Mirroring Magician's Merger

I am now mirroring Magician's Merger on Blogger.