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fiction Publishing Update Workbook Working Update Writing

Update: A Change o’ Plans; A Regrouping of Sorts

In my last update a couple of weeks back, I revealed that I was working on a short story collection for a fall release…18 or so stories that fit a common thread or an overall thematic mood. It was more or less to put my writing past behind me as pretty much all those stories were written as far back as the late 90s which was my golden age period. I wrote fiction for years before really attempting to share it with an audience outside of writer workshops. So I have quite the vault of stories in varying lengths, genres, styles and all that.

Well, inxay the collection, at least how I originally envisioned it, and perhaps not as soon as this fall or the foreseeable future. Because of that aforementioned versatility, I’ve come to the decision to launch a handful of pen names and assign appropriate stories and future projects under them. It just makes sense, really, and it’s so liberating, say, for instance, writing and presenting a very female-centric story under a blatantly female pen name.

It’s a long road getting back to this position (a 360 really). When I first started writing prose in 1993, I had studied the career of one Dean Koontz who had used a dozen pen names because, like me right out of the gate, he also wrote in multiple different genres (often cross-genre) using multiple different styles and whatnot. Long story short, though reluctant, it was necessary for him in those times of the 1970s and 80s because publishers (and readers) not keen to pigeonhole a prolific writer, especially one who changed up styles and genres often. It was simply too hard for a prolific, versatile writer to get any traction under one name (especially when a struggling author was putting out five novels a year to put food on the table).

Well, even today, when you’re not yet a brand name, it’s hard to establish a brand with such diversity. The last several years I had been of the mind that it was “to hell with it all, accept me and my diversity as we are”, but that ego-centric approach puts the name/ the persona first instead of allowing the stories to get the fair shake they deserve. Flash-forward to today, in studying certain markets I’ve come to understand that I would face certain gender bias in certain cases. It’s a silly game to be played, but with today’s publishing options (and in some cases lack thereof), it makes more sense to approach it this way, cover all bases and attack from various angles.

Also in my research I was reminded that back in the day (18th & 19th centuries) many women writers had to adopt male pen names because of publisher and reader bias. Everyone knows that women really used to have it bad all over, and I’ve always been real sensitive to their plight in society to a balanced extent. And so the ugly truth of the business of publishing is that readers are discriminate when it comes to associating certain works with a particular genre. No sense in fighting against that with my ego saying “Well, they’re going to accept me as the writer I am regardless.” Yeah, I’m proud of my versatility and my wide-ranging interests in fiction and stoytelling. But if I want the work to get the due attention it deserves without arbitrary interference, then the pen name option will help achieve that.

So the pen names will be launched next month across the web and digitally (though perhaps not in print for a while). I will not be exposing them here or abroad; only editors and publishers will know when I sign their contracts. So there will not be any cross-association of the four (or so) pen names with my true name in any public sense. Of course, there will still be plenty under the usual Brandon L. Rucker byline. I associate with and cross-promote so many other writers across the web that it will be a seamless process to include my ‘secret aliases’ (muhahahahah!) in my promotional efforts.

I have more news, but I gotta scoot to the day job. So, until later…

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Books Comic Books fiction Reading update Short Stories Update Workbook

Update: My Reading and Writing Activities

It’s summer reading season in my household. Wife & kids have already begun their preemptive strike and as the proverbial slowpoke I’m playing catchup. I went to the library this past weekend to pay my dues…I told the library clerk that I was paying my annual dues. She chuckled, but I as serious. I always end up paying at least about $10 bucks a year to the local library for late fees. It’s just my way of giving back to the community. At least that’s my way of looking at it.

As for summer reading, unfortunately I am at a huge disadvantage because I have lots on my writing plate this summer, with a major editing project to wrap up in early July, and a novel to get back to. Since wrapping up the latest issue of Liquid Imagination in May, I’ve gone into selfish mode for June as I am spit-shining and polishing the dozen and a half stories selected for my forthcoming short story collection (tentatively due late September), one story at a time. Most of these stories go back some years, and today I’m a different writer in alot of ways than I was then, so it’s always interesting to revisit old works and apply the current you to blend with the old you. Since I’m my own worst critic, I’ve enlisted the help of a couple of colleagues who are just as ruthless as editors as I. I still have four stories I’m finalizing for specifically-themed anthologies as well that I’m pushing to the finish line. [More on the story collection as I get closer to release. I’ll reveal the title and the cover in due time.]

July is still bullseyed as official ‘back-to-the-novel’ month as has been the goal all year long, but prior to that I will need to close out the editing/formatting of the Local Heroes anthology I’m doing for Static Movement. The deadline is June 30th and I have a head start on the editing, but I will have to intensify efforts in the closeout to meet my goals.

Nonetheless, I squeeze in reading whenever I can. Don’t want to be lagging too far behind the family, voracious reading creatures that they are. In my backpack is a rotation of the following books currently:

 

 
Paperboy, a book I’ve tasked myself with promoting for my author buddy Bob Thurber, is a great read (I’m about a third through it so far).
Stories: All New Tales will likely only have a handful of great stories, one of which by Neil Gaiman himself.
 
I love noir and hardboiled fiction, especially when it’s just straight up crime fiction. This huge Best of American Noir book tapped me on the should at the library and gravelly said “Eh, you need to read me, bub.” A lot of my favorite crime writers are in there like Ed Gorman, Mickey Spillane, Elmore Leonard, and David Morrell.
Beneath the Surface of Things by Kevin Wallis. He’s another writer buddy I’d like to promote as well. He’s hard at work on his debut novel, but this is his short story collection form last year that is at least partially responsible for me deciding to release one as well, though mine won’t be nearly as good as his. Dude’s a heck of a horror, writer, if you dig that.
And recent additions to the stack o’ comics on my desk:
My first ever issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal. Not a bad read. As a set up issue it’s a bit slow, but judging by the cliffhanger ending shit’s about to get real interesting.
Rick Remender continues to write the best book in Marvel’s X-Men franchise and that is Uncanny X-Force. He’s arguably the X-Men’s best scribe since Grant Morrison in the early 2000s. Very pleased with this series, just wish they’d settle on a permanent and good artist (Jerome Opena, please!).
Two indie books from Image Comics that really got me excited about all the diverse creator-owned stuff coming from them lately (including Elephant Men which I still haven’t read yet). Undying Love (by Thom Coker and Daniel Freedman) is a cool ass action noir Japanese/American vampire movie distilled into a darkly beautiful comic. Two issues in and I’m hooked (of couse it’d be better collected into graphic novel, my preferred method of reading). But I’m along for the monthly ride…for now.
After picking up Nonplayer of the shelf and looking at its beautiful pages, there was no way I couldn’t buy it. Stunningly gorgeous art by Nate Simpson. I love the concept as well. Unfortunately he’s a one-man show on this comic, drawing it digitally on his computer, so he warns in the afterword that this series will be slow coming. But I think it will be worth the irregular wait.
What I haven’t read is a good biography in a while. I read biographical books much faster than fiction tomes for some reason. There are pleny on my to-read list too.
Sigh.
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Editing fiction Short Stories Update Weekend Report Workbook Working Update Writing

Weekend Report: Update – What I’m Working On

There’s never enough hours in the day, nor enough of me to go around, so I just try to overacheive and make do within the limitations of the human condition.

Sigh.

So here, for me if no one else, is a rundown of the work I’m doing outside the job that actually pays monetarily.

– Currently: I’m wrapping up my section of the next issue of Liquid Imagination, making six different authors happy overall in the process. That should be done tonight or tomorrow morning. The May issue will go live on your interwebs May 31st, or thereabouts. Suprisingly I will be ahead for the first time on the 10th issue, which will be out in late August.

– Next during the rest of May and virtually all of June I move on to putting together the manuscript for my short story collection, which has a tentative release date of the first week of July over at Smashwords. I’ll also be looking into perhaps doing an ultra-limited print run of the book, which does have a title, but will not be revealed until closer to release. The title is perfectly apt for the general theme throughout the dozen or more stories that will be presented. Putting together the perfect book cover will certainly be a challenge.

– Concurrent with my short story collection manuscript will be work on the manusript for the long-gestating print anthology I’m compiling and editing called Local Heroes, which will be published in the late summer by Static Movement.

– Also during this time I will be putting the final touches on a handful of short stories for specific anthologies. The stories are all like 3/4 to 5/6 finished, they just require their author to give them the undivided attention and tender loving care they deserve to get to that elusive finish line. The stories in question include: “Cult Storm”, “All In a Day’s Work”, “The Other Roommate”, and “Call of Duty: A Cop’s Tale”. There’s a new one brewing called “My Last Words”, but I doubt that one gets done before the month of July, nor any of the other stories that are in various states of progress.  As stated and committed to all year, July is my personal cut-off month for all short ficton and shenanigans, becasue . . .

– . . . in July I return to work on my novel, fully committed (hell, matrimonously married) to it with no ifs, no buts, and no excuses.


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Weekend Report: I Underachieved (as usual)

Weekend Progress Report:

– Recorded video tutorials of the songs “The New Regime” and “Revenge” for Joshua so he can learn them.

– Managed to convert that Motosota DVD into MPEG format. Next task is editing the files into separate song chapters for uploading.

– Unfortunately, I’ve learned that searching for copyright free images for your own personal manipulation is an exhaustive process. I’ve got three covers to design. Well, two now, as I managed to find one last night (not sure I’m totally happy with it yet). The clock is ticking as I planned to make my Smashwords debut on Friday.

– Accepted another story for my Local Heroes anthology. That’s slowed to a mere trickle these days.

– The bad news: I didn’t write a lick of fiction this weekend.

– The good news: Two new story ideas have arrived in my noggin’. One of them is surely to be micro or flash fiction. The other one I’m unsure about. Also, I have another article on writing underway for Flash Fiction Chronicles. You can read my first one here.

– I discovered that I really do miss the characters in my novel. I can’t wait to get back to them and their world this summer.

– I played a lot of Halo: Reach multiplayer with some friends this past week. Making up for lost time, time that was previously devoted to all the non-fiction stuff I’d been doing the last two months or so. Well, when I wasn’t playing Mass Effect 2 for a second playthrough.

PROMISE TO SELF: I’ll try to do better next weekend. During the week, however, I should probably be focused on prepping those four stories for Smashwords.