Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Three Really Great Short Stories

I've mentioned it before but I really love Daily Science Fiction. It's so great to have a (usually) high quality speculative fiction short story delivered every day. A daily dose of quality fiction sparks my creativity and further enhances my already wonderful morning constitutional. ALTHOUGH...they are also bastards because they straight out refuse to publish anything I write. I'm not bitter, I swear.

With that in mind, please check out three of the best short stories from the last month or so of DSF.com. These three pretty much blew my mind. Super creative. I hope you like them as much as I do! 

Totality by Tony Pisculli - A romantic love affair only possible during full solar eclipses. Very cool.

Goldfish by Elizabeth Archer - Genetic engineering with a crazy twist! I usually see these things coming but the ending smacked me silly.

We Are All But Embers by Gemma Noon - Wow. Just...wow.

How about you? Have you read any whoppers lately?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Unlimited books for $10 a month?

I just stumbled upon OysterBooks.com where apparently you can access as many books as you can read for $10 a month. If you're a heavy ebook reader, this seems like it could be pretty sweet. Has anyone tried it? What do folks think?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sponsor Your Own Writing Challenge through Dark Futures Magazine!

So I think this is pretty cool. Dark Futures is running a pre-order/funding campaign for their First Annual Anthology (which I happen to have a story in) and for $25 you can sponsor a writing contest run through the magazine based on a theme of your choice!

Want more cycloptic time-traveling strippers in your fiction? Done! Fewer cycloptic time-traveling strippers...what the heck is your problem?!?! The point is, you could have some serious fun!

Check out their cool cover art!

As an added bonus you get a pdf copy of the First Annual Anthology (and my story) or a paperback version for $30.

I for one am going to give myself an early Christmas Present and jump on this (so you should probably get you cycloptic time-traveling stripper short-stories polished up).


Saturday, December 14, 2013

New Hopstory: Breakside Brewing in Portland, OR

Check out our latest Hopstory featuring Breakside Brewing in Portland, OR. One of the best IPAs and pilsners on the market and a solid lineup of rotating experimental brews plus an exciting new barrel aging program!

Hopstories #7: Breakside Brewery from Eric Buist on Vimeo.

Also, check out my writeup at www.Hopstories.com.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Getting Published Right and Left

I've been having some good fortune with publishing lately. 

On the fiction front I've had my short story "Lightning Flashed" accepted for a November 10 release at Dark Futures Magazine (3rd paid pub for this story) and I have a couple other stories short-listed various places, including my first ever literary fiction piece. 

Nonfiction has been even more exciting. I had my graduate thesis published in June and I just got word that my first manuscript has been accepted by "The Journal of Fish and WildlifeManagement" and could be published as early as March. That's huge for me. Getting published is hard but especially so in academia. 

Also nonfiction, my beer centered documentary project "Hopstories" has been cruising along. We've released 6 episodes, a 7th is due out next week, and we just released our 1st collaboration story. We're also planning to roll out our new website soon and we're always looking for our next brewery to work with.

So I've had a little luck lately. But more than that, I've learned that the most important thing if I want to get published is persistence. I have to be bull headed. I have to stubborn. I have to hone my craft and continue to improve, of course. But most important is persistence. 

Hopstories Collaboration #1: Norman and Calapooia Brewing from Eric Buist on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Speak English!

Last weekend I went to a writing group for the first time ever. I'm not sure how I felt about it so I won't say much about the experience, yet.

One thing I did find interesting was the animosity these folks had for certain plot devices, namely "speak English".

You know what I'm talking about. That's when the brainiest character in a story lays down some crazy-complicated technical jargon. Then the action-minded main character says, "Speak English." and the brainy character is forced to explain a concept or term. Of course, this is all for the benefit of the reader, who the author assumes doesn't or won't understand. It's used all the time, especially in Sci-Fi (which is usually particularly concept/jargon heavy).

Maybe that's the problem. It's potentially insulting to your reader to assume they won't know what your talking about. And this particular group of readers (the writing group folks) were really smart. I was easily the dumbest person in the room. So maybe they feel it's insulting. I didn't have the balls to ask.

Frankly, I don't have a problem with "Speak English". It's effective. It gets the job done. Just like all things, it should be used in moderation. But the fact is there are sometimes things that need to be explained. I would rather assume that my readers don't understand a concept and explain it than lose my readers completely.

What about you? Is it overused? Is it insulting? Let me know what you think. And please, speak English.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Smart Phones Make Smart Writers

I used to have a boss that was Borg.

If you're a Star Trek fan you know that it's not appropriate to say "He was a Borg" because the Borg are a collective consciousness. Instead, he was  Borg.

The guy was never disconnected. I think he slept with his blue-ray earpiece. In the 3.5 years I worked for him, I honestly never saw him without it.

Technology can be like that. You can't immagine why everyone's so worked up about the newest gizmo. You hold off buying one for years. In the end, resistance is futile. You give in and get the gizmo and soon, you can't imagine life without it.

Don't feel bad. Now days, it's a natural progression.

Enter the smart phone. I resisted for years but eventually my wife talked me into one. Now she complains that I can't leave it alone.

What does this have to do with writing?

Over the last year I've learned that a smart phone can be a great writing tool. How many times have you had a great idea for a story only to forget it before you can steal away to write it down? Not with a smart phone. Just bust out a free notepad app, type in a few notes, and your idea is stored. Or don't type it in. Use voice recognition to jot your notes. Then email them to your home computer.

Hell, I'll do you one better: WRITE THE WHOLE DAMN STORY ON YOUR PHONE.

It sounds a little crazy but I've written several short stories this way. I always have my phone on me. So what happens when I have to wait for wife/doctor/dmv/wife/etc? Bust out the phone and get some words in. It's basically like having constant access to a word processor.

How about you? Have you written anything on your phone? Are you resisting?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm Back...or At Least I'm Gonna Try To Be

It's been a long time since I've blogged. Things got pretty crazy for me with the end of grad school, thesis writing, manuscript writing, job searching, job finding, and moving. Things are still pretty crazy but they've settled down enough that I would like to try the blog thing again. I've learned a lot about writing and other creative arts and I'd like to share those things with you. There will be some catch-up posts to start with, then we'll see where things go.

I hope to hear from you all soon!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sir Mix-a-Lot Comic

My newest geeky comic. Think lyrically and let me know if you don't get it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Short Story Published and a new Hopstory!

I would like to invite everyone to check out my newly published short story "Customer Support" over on Silver Blade Magazine.

It's the first story I've ever gotten paid for so I'm pretty stoked.

I hope you like it!

Also, we just released our newest Hopstory! Hopstories is a web series a friend and I are putting out telling the stories of small craft breweries here in the Pacific Northwest.

Check out my write up HERE.

And watch the video below. I hope you like it!

Hopstories #3: Pfriem Family Brewers from Eric Buist on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lesser of Two Weasels Comic

Here's another geeky wildlife comic. I can't help myself...

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Geeky Wildlife Comic

I have a new geeky bio comic. This one doesn't need much explanation. Enjoy!

P.S - Feel free to share/tweet/whatever!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Poem: Hold the Lettuce

We went to Chicago a few weeks ago and I was a bit overwhelmed by everything about it. It's just so huge and there are so many people. It was, by far, the biggest city I'd ever been in and I was struck by the utter lack of plant or animal life. So I wrote a poem. Enjoy!

So many people.
Layers upon layers of humanity.
A giant smoldering mankind sandwich.
Hold the lettuce.
So little green.
So many lives. So little life.
Every religion, creed, race, color.
Except green.
Hold the lettuce.
Brick and concrete.
Shopping Meccas. Temples of consumption.
Sell everything imaginable.
Except green.
Hold the lettuce.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The 3 minute animated short that made me cry.

I'm not much of a crier.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these overly macho guys that never expresses their feelings. I'm just not often moved to tears.

This 2 min 48 sec animated short "Spacebound" had me sobbing. I'm talking about sitting in my office with tears running down my face. To be able to elicit that kind of emotion from your audience with such a short story, and one without dialog no less, is truly amazing.

Please watch it.

Spacebound from Spacebound on Vimeo.

The message, as I see it, is that the end is coming for all of us. We can either sit there watching the clock or we can get out into the universe and enjoy ourselves. There is no better "personification" of this message than a dog. They don't care about the future, they just want to live in the moment.

Truly a beautiful story.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hopstories #2

We've posted the second in our web series telling the story of small craft breweries here in Oregon.

Please check out Hopstory #2!

I also did a writeup for the story that you can check out on our website.

Like it? Then Like Us on Facebook

Friday, March 29, 2013

Climate of Fear Comic

Time for another geeky comic!

If you missed my first one, check out my Mesopredator Release Comic.

This one probably requires a little science lesson in order to put it into context.

One of the sexiest issues in wildlife biology today (by sexy I mean new, packed with buzz words, and full of controversy) is the concept of Trophic Cascades. "Trophic" refers to the food chain. Plants are on the 1st trophic level, herbivores are on the 2nd, predators on the 3rd, etc. When a predator (e.g. wolf) effects the abundance of the organisms in a lower trophic level (e.g. grass), by changing the abundance of an organism in an intermediate trophic level (e.g. deer), that's called a trophic cascade.

Basically, wolves don't directly control the amount of grass because they don't eat grass. But if wolves move into an area that has a ton of deer and very little grass (because the deer eat it all) and the wolves eat a bunch of deer, then the grass will come back (because there's not as many deer there to eat it). That's a trophic cascade. It's a form of "top down regulation". Predators (the top) regulate the bottom (the grass) by regulating the middle (the deer). The recovery of the grass is a type of "density mediated response". The deer population is less dense so the grass responds.

Still with me?

This is all well and good. I get all this. It works for me. The part I have an issue with is called the "Climate of Fear Response". This hypothesizes that the predators might actually effect the lower trophic level simply by scaring the middle trophic level away. Basically, the grass comes back because the deer are to scared of the wolves to stick around and eat, regardless of how many deer there are. It sounds fairly intuitive but the jury is still out about the science. I, for one, don't hold to it. 

That having been said, here is my Climate of Fear Comic!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Audience Relativity

Hello from grad school! The good news is I’ve been doing a ton of writing lately. The bad news is that my writing has been noticeably devoid of dragons, robots, and zombies. Only statistical analysis and technical jargon as far as the eye can see. But that’s not to say I’m not learning about the craft!

A friend of mine gave me something a while back that I’ve been meaning to share with you good folks. The following is an excerpt from ‘Understanding Writing Blocks’ by Keith Hjortshoj.

“We can easily become lost in time and space while writing because, when it is viewed as a whole process that includes the reader, writing is a relativistic medium. In other words, what I am writing now is connected with what you eventually read, but in different reference frames. I am sitting here in my office at a particular time, working on page 24 of this manuscript. You are reading the words I write, so I am communicating something to you. While I am writing, however, you are not yet reading, and the specific text you read does not yet exist in the form you have. To write I must at least vaguely imagine a reader, and while you are reading you can imagine me writing what you read, but neither vision is very reliable. I don’t really know how this writing will strike you, and while I must have a sense of audience in mind, to enjoy the freedom of writing I also need to remember that you remain a figment of my imagination—one whose responses I can’t control. In turn, you are probably not on page 24, and although you might assume that I wrote this passage before the sections and chapters that follow, I did not. I’m inserting these paragraphs into a full draft of the book, which will no doubt change in other ways before you read it. I might decide to take this passage out again, so at the moment I can’t be sure that it will ever reach you, my imagined reader. Yet the decisions I make will directly affect the outcome.”

Pretty trippy huh? 

Other than the obvious fact that Mr. Hjortshoj (how the heck do you pronounce that?) is operating at a much higher level than myself, what do we take from this passage?

Here are my thoughts:

My writing will have an audience (hopefully) but as a writer, I have no way of knowing where, when, and in what social, historical, or personal context my words will reach said audience. Therefore, it might be more useful to keep the concept of an audience as a vague notion rather than to tailor my writing to some specific audience, a target I’m almost sure to miss. We’ve all heard of authors or playwrights whose works were unappreciated in their own time only to achieve critical and popular success decades or centuries later. Surely those individuals weren’t shooting for a target audience generations down the road. I think I’ll write for an audience of one (me) and let the world do with my writing what it will.

What about you? What did you get out of the passage?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hopstories #1

As I mentioned recently, a buddy of mine, Eric Buist, and I are touring breweries here in the PNW to tell the story of how they got started. We call this little project "Hopstories".

Our very first Hopstory featuring Sky High Brewing and Pub in Corvallis, OR went live yesterday.

I conducted the interviews for the video and Eric did all of the fancy camera work. Some friends were kind enough to come drink some beer for the pub shots (generous of them) and Mr. and Mrs. Something composed a song for us.

If you go to the site, you'll also see an article I wrote for the Hopstory.

We're working hard on this and I hope you like it. Please, like us on Facebook and share us with your friends. Yeah beer!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mesopredator Release Comic

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been doing a little drawing, mainly geeky-science comics. I enjoy the process and how important it is to tell a story in just a few words. It's a blast.

Before you can get my comic, you need to know a little bit about the biological concept known as "mesopredator release". Basically, this theory states that when large predators are removed from an area (bears and wolves for example) populations of small and medium sized predators  (like foxes and racoons) will increase, often to the detriment of their prey species (small herbivores like mice and rabbits, for example). You can read more about it here.

That being said, my comic doesn't actually have anything to do with mesopredator release. It's just a play on words.

So without further ado, here is my first science-geeky comic titled "Mesopredator Release".

I hope you like it.

P.S. - If you're a science-geeky type that likes my comic and wants to use it in a presentation or something, you're welcome to. Of course, I'd love to hear about it so let me know at adamg73 (at) juno.com. Thanks!

Alive and Kicking!

Hello fellow bloggers, I'm just here to say that reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I am here, I'm still writing, just not fiction. Grad school has swallowed me whole for the moment. I'm knee deep in thesis writing/revising and I just don't have time for hardly any writing for fun.

BUT, every once in a while I squeeze in a little. Here are a couple things I've managed:

1. Hopstories


A buddy of mine and I are going around to a select number of Pacific Northwest microbreweries to conduct interviews and footage for a web-series we're producing called Hopstories. Basically, we're trying to tell the story of the breweries that make the craft beer we love so much. It's a lot of fun and I'm learning a lot about visual media (which I have no experience with). We're planning to release our first video this week so keep an eye out on our Facebook page (please "Like" us and share with your friends if you feel inclined) and check out our website.

2. Cartoons

I've also been doing a little drawing. After writing for academia all day it's nice to be creative in a little different way. I'm still a science geek so the cartoons I've been drawing are pretty science-geeky but my science-geeky friends seem to like them. I promise I'll post my first comic soon (maybe latter today), I just need to scan it in.

I hope everyone is rocking their own projects and surviving the winter.