Reading vs Listening

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I’m a HUGE fan of audio literature. I define that term rather broadly to include both audiobooks and short story podcasts, as well as newer platforms like Serial Box, which is supporting longer-form storytelling by multiple authors.

The advantage for me, as a New York City commuter, is multifold. Audio content helps me take advantage of my commute. It’s rare for me to get a seat, and sometimes I’m on a train so crowded that even reading a physical book is impossible. In addition, as an author, listening to the podcasts magazines produce allows me to keep up with multiple magazines and a broad spectrum of stories without spending a fortune on subscriptions. Plus, it helps me get a feel for each publication’s style and the type of stories they’re looking for.

It’s all part of an overall strategy I have for keeping up with the wild, wide world of fiction. I have several physical books I’m reading, both research and fiction, I have ebooks I read almost exclusively on my phone, and I have audio fiction for the in-between times.

Recently, this fantastic article came to my attention:

As Far As Your Brain Is Concerned, Audiobooks Are Not ‘Cheating’

Not that my strategy needed any affirmation, since it works just fine for me. But I had no idea that anyone considered listening to books as “cheating.” As far as I’m concerned, a book listened to is a book “read.” That’s like saying if you weren’t staring at the television for the entire duration of a show, you didn’t “watch” it. I mean, isn’t television a visual medium?

So there you have it, not just on my authority, but the New York Times, for crying out loud. Paper, digital, audio–it doesn’t matter how you absorb your fiction. For the love of words, just read!

The Method Behind My Madness – Tomato!

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I, like many others in this technology-drenched era, have had to adapt to a shrinking attention span. The ease and programmed addictiveness of modern distractions have made it nearly impossible to construct a full sentence before I go running in a completely different direction.

I have short-cuts and cheats that help me focus: ambient noise, music, writing in coffeehouses, etc. But the best tool I’ve found for conquering distractivitis is the Pomodoro Method.
It means “tomato.” Don’t ask me why.
The method is pretty simple:
  • Work 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break. That’s 1 Pomodoro.
    • During your break, get up. Move around. Stretch. Replenish your beverage.
  • Every 4 “Pomodoros,” take a 20-30 minute break.
The key to success of this method for me is an enforced period of concentration on a single task. Key word – single.
If you’re gonna make a day of it, you list out all the things you want to get done, figure out how many Pomodoros each task will require, and get to work. Then you get the satisfaction of checking things off your list, which the Type-A side of my personality finds deeply gratifying.
Especially gratifying is the fact that I can get my daily writing goal of 250 words done in a single pomodoro! But why stop there?
A quick search in the app store of your choice will turn up some swell, basic pomodoro timers.
The Isochronic Pomodoro Timers on YouTube are a treat, incorporating soothing sound effects (rainstorm, waves, etc.) with an Isochronic tone that is supposed to heighten concentration. Give them a try.
C’mon-a wanna Pom-a with me?

Editing sucks! / Editing’s great!

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I am of two minds on this topic, obvy.

Let’s call it a journey, shall we? You can’t develop much of a writing career if all you do is write. And let’s face it – writing is the fun part and editing, as stated above, sucks.

At least that’s how I view it right now.

Current writerly wisdom states that first drafts are systemically awful, and that the true magic of storytelling happens in the editing process. Editing is also the barrier between a story and a publishable story. So my current views on editing are hobbling me as a writer.

I have always defined “progress” as “writing,” believing that if I wasn’t writing anything new, I was, in essence, standing still. All of my goals as a writer have not been focused on learning more about craft or honing my story-polishing skills. Wordcount, wordcount, wordcount, has been my mantra of writing success.

Until now.

I will be setting editing goals, just as real and relevant as my writing goals. Perhaps more so. I have seen the light, and the light has politely informed me that I have been getting in the way of my true end-goal, which is and has always been publication.

So here’s my new mindset: editing is awesome! Editing is fun! Editing is just as creative as writing! Editing and writing two inextricable components of the same process!

Editing’s great!

 

Have You Heard My Voice?

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You may not know this about me. I’m a trained singer and actor. Those skills have found their place in podcasting, where I not only help host a podcast, but also narrate audio fiction.

And here you thought I was just another pretty face!

RecenKC_icontly, one of my narrations went live at the Kaleidocast podcast, where I was privileged to narrate “His Only Nose” by Richard Bowes. It’s a romp of a story, which I thought called for just a bit of an accent.

Check out my other voice work on my website, and if you have any audio narration, audio acting or singing needs, hit me up! Its fun to do and I want to do more.

​ I Have A New Story In The World! And A Podcast To Go With It

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My story “The Path That Splits the Oak Asunder” is live as part of the Kaleidocast podcast. Listen to the story here, then go to the website to find out more about the podcast. My story is in Episode 3.
You can listen to the podcast at the website, on Soundcloud, or on iTunes. If you like the podcast, there are 6 other episodes to listen to. Please subscribe, and rate us on iTunes.
The goal of this project is to share the extreme talent of the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers alongside other excellent writers. It’s all nested inside a fractured other-Brooklyn I hope you enjoy exploring alongside the characters we’ve created to guide you along the way.
In future blog posts, I’ll share the long and winding road that led from “I love podcasts, so I should make a podcast” to the Kaleidocast, a very real and very cool thing in the world.
Hope you enjoy!

Con Report: World Fantasy Convention 2015

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I have to admit I was afraid at first of going to this convention alone. Sure, I can be social when I need to, but I’m not great at breaking in to groups of strangers.

Fortunately, I was only a stranger for about 24 hours. After that, the warm, wonderful family of writers and fans drew me in and it kept getting better from there.

Every convention has its own personality, shaped by the committee that puts the event together, the people who go, even the venue where it takes place. I found WFC to be, in some ways, the most welcoming and accessible (socially) con I’ve ever attended.

First of all, Saratoga Springs is off-the-hook adorable, a quaint little postcard of a town. That image was accentuated by the season: gorgeous, sunny weather that highlighted the gold, red and orange of the autumn trees. Cute shops everywhere, fun restaurants, everything within walking distance of everything else.

Because this is a fantasy-focused con, and I write mostly fantasy, I found a panel to address every story issue I’m currently facing. The fey? Check. Power, politics and economics in a fantasy world? Check. Magic in epic fantasy? Check. Ghosts? Check. Each panel had a diverse range of folks to bring expert perspectives to every topic. I couldn’t get enough.

And then there were the parties. To many, this con is a social event, a chance to reconnect with friends that only cons bring together. The writers I met in the bar – even writers who had not purchased passes – almost made me squee, fanboy style, at levels only dogs can hear. Seriously. I mean, Gail Carriger. Take that in for a moment. She’s just as sweet and stylish as you’d ever want her to be. I met so many amazing people at the bar or at parties sponsored by Asimov’s, ChiZine Publications, Tremontaine (a new web-serial from SerialBox.com – check it out!) and Altered Fluid (a professional writing group based in NYC) that was worth the price of admission alone.

Best of all, the icing on the cake, if not the cake itself, were the friendships and connections I made. I had conversations ranging from fun to deep, and left the convention feeling both personally and creatively revitalized. I’m already furiously typing away at new stories, and looking forward to seeing new friends at WFC2016 in Columbus, OH.

I Am An Old Nobody And I Love What I Do

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I’m just going to leave this here.

“Ask Polly: Should I just give up on my writing?”

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the rejections. It’s easy to look at the success of others and compare it to your own position on the imagined ladder of success. It’s easy to find your own work inferior to the work that others have created.

You know what’s hard? The work itself. But if you love it, if you burn with it, if it wakes you up in the middle of night, if it goes on in your head even when you’re not actively doing it, just keep going.

Most other people quit before they can even achieve nobody status. So among nobodies, consider yourself king (or queen, or monarch, or fill in your preferred royalty here) if all you do is continue to create.