Blog Shift 2013

For a couple years or so, I’ve been blogging at WordPress, Livejournal and Dreamwidth simultaneously, in a setup that mirrors the same content all three places.

Given the decline of the social network aspects of Livejournal and the failure of Dreamwidth to achieve promise of same, I’ve decided to focus in on a single blog, and give up bothering with mirroring content.

I’m getting more eyeballs on my entries, partly because of my reviews posted here and partly because my own fiction writing has begun to gather more attention. I think it’s time to create a single blog, keep it organized and up to date, and make sure it looks nice. I haven’t finished working on a redesign yet. For now, I’m just using a fairly generic template.

Another change is the domain on which the blog is located. It used to be griffinwords.wordpress.com and I’ve set up my own domain, griffinwords.com effective today.

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Catching Up With Incoming Words

No, I have not written three entire book reviews in under 24 hours.

I’ve been way behind on posting reviews of some of the books I’ve read, including some I finished reading months ago. This backlog was stressing me out! Some of the reviews were mostly written and just needed to be assembled. In other cases, handwritten notes just needed to be typed up.

It feels good to clear the decks a bit.

I will probably cut down on the number of reviews I’ll write for a while… after I get through a few things like At Fear’s Altar and Jagannath and Staring Into the Abyss and Hair Side, Flesh Side.

I do love to talk about books and writers, and possibly help in some small way to boost those that deserve it. I also think it’s helpful, in a selfish way, for writers to think carefully and critically about other people’s writing. What works, what doesn’t, and why. It’s always seemed to me that writers derive more benefit from giving critiques than receiving them.

Despite my enjoyment of this book review thang, I need to scale back, at least for a while, the self-imposed sense of obligation. I’ll still talk about the books I’ve read, probably more briefly and off-the-cuff.

Places Where My Book Reviews Go

I always read a lot. Lately I’ve been writing reviews of almost everything I read, and posting those reviews in several different places. Here’s where they go, in case you’re a reader interested in seeking out other places to read book reviews, a writer whose work I’ve reviewed who wants to see all the places those reviews appear, or an amateur book reviewer looking for places to put your own reviews.

GOODREADS – (Goodreads profile)
In most cases I post the review first to Goodreads. Serious readers and book lovers who don’t know about Goodreads should check it out. It’s a place to see what other people are reading, and many members post reviews, which in some cases are useful. There are lists, suggestions, book groups, all kinds of stuff. Some of it’s good, some of it’s self-promotional and lame (lots of self-published people spamming groups with announcements and sales efforts) but I really like Goodreads.

AMAZON – (My reviews on Amazon)
I crosspost the same reviews to the book’s Amazon product listing, assuming it has one. If you see a review of mine that you like, remember to mark my review “helpful,” which increases Amazon’s ranking of my reviews’ influence. This way my review will be shown more prominently, with other reviews considered helpful. One way you can help influence how the books you like (or don’t like) are perceived is by rating Amazon reviews “helpful” or “not helpful,” which will make them more or less likely to be viewed by other shoppers. I prefer my reviews to be seen by as many people as possible so I like those “helpful” ratings.

BLOG – Livejournal – (griffinwords.livejournal.com)
This began as my main blog, the one I usually told people about, but I’ve gradually evolved to having the same blog entries cross-posted to three blog platforms. More and more, I’m pointing people to my WordPress just because it looks better. That, and Livejournal seems to be a dying community.

BLOG – WordPress – (griffinwords.wordpress.com)
As mentioned above, this has the same entries as my Livejournal, but WordPress looks better and has nicer tools for announcing posts to Facebook and Twitter in a nice, automated way. Increasingly I direct people toward the WordPress blog, and I may eventually narrow it down to just this one blog.

BLOG – Dreamwidth – )griffinwords.dreamwidth.org)
Dreamwidth began as an offshoot of Livejournal, and there was some indication that DW might carry forward some of LJ’s community or “social network lite” benefits. In the old days, the real benefit to LJ was the “friends list” and the centralized way it let you review all your friends’ recent blog entries on one page. Not many people ended up switching over to Dreamwidth, though I suppose it could still happen.

FACEBOOK – (Facebook profile) and TWITTER – (Twitter profile)
I don’t post the reviews themselves here (at least not in full), but links to some of the above do appear. I have fun with these things, make smart-ass little remarks, post pictures, but neither one of them is really built for posting serious or even half-serious writing. Obviously the benefit here is reaching a larger number of people quickly, so I use these for announcements and links to heartier content at the various places above.

I welcome “friends” and “followers,” especially people who share similar interests.

Back To It

I’ve been busy with music/Hypnos, my dad’s visit to Portland, writing, and all the rest of life. Funny, when I blog regularly I find it easy to keep on blogging regularly, and once I stop it’s very easy to STAY stopped. So many things are like this, especially exercise and creative activities. Running every single day is easy. Taking a week off running, and then starting to run again that first time is much harder.

I still write six days a week, exercise six days a week, work my day job five days a week, listen to tons of music, watch lots of movies with my wife, and don’t get enough sleep.

Lately I’m working on a lot of stories simultaneously, even more than usual for me, and the stories are all over the map. I’m writing an SF story about a group of robotic domestic helpers left behind by their humans on an Earth-like colony, a horror-tinged SF story about some weird stuff lurking in the bottom of a deep mine (not started in response to the major news story about miners in Chile), finishing up a dark fantasy or horror bit about a family vacationing at a lake house and coming under the influence of some local entities. I have another odd, dark bit about a married couple who retreat to a cabin out in the wilderness near Mt. Hood and begin to lose all connection to the world they left behind.

I’m also continuing heavy cuts on my two “salvage project” stories I mentioned before… mega-long stories that needed to lose 2/3 of their length before I could even assess how to turn them into something interesting. They’re down from 14,000 words to 5,500 and from 11,000 words to 5,300 so they’re getting close to where I can see what they need to be. This has been a really useful and interesting test or experiment, but I don’t know that I’d do it again. I could have easily rewritten these stories from scratch in less time, and with better result, but then again that wasn’t really the point.

I’ve got the same nine final drafts still circulating among various markets. My two longest-pending submissions are both Writers of the Future, for 2010-q3 (June-ending quarter) and q4 (Sept-ending). Jeez, sending those guys a story means keeping it from other markets for about six months, it appears. I realize they get a lot of submissions but it seems they could finish one quarter’s reading before opening it up to the next quarter… and then the one after that. They just announced q2 results, and they’re reading stories for q3, q4, and 2011 q1 (quarter ending December) all at once. Sheesh, talk about slush pile.

Reading notes…

I’m still reading Laird Barron’s Occultation, an absolutely top-notch collection. Seriously, some of the best strange/dark short fiction I can remember reading, not just recently, but ever. When I get through that last story and a half (I’m reading other stuff in parallel so it’s taking a while) I’ll write a real review.

Just finished The City & The City by China Mieville, and I’m very impressed. I knew it would be good, based on all the reviews and awards, and interviews I’ve read with the author. I can tell he’s just a super-sharp guy and I’ve owned copies of several of his books for a while and intended to get to them… but finally dived into one of his newest. Before I move on to Kraken I’ll probably jump back to Perdido Street Station since that’s been on the “must read soon” list since, you know, a really long time ago.

Lessee, I think I mentioned finishing Old Man’s War, which was really good, and not as lightweight or pastiche-y as I expected. I’m on to Charles Stross’s Singularity Sky, which is fully of SF-nal goodness, and pretty well written, though at times a little too heavy on the political & military detail. I’m not far into it so I’ll reserve judgement.

I did mean to blog a bit more about the HP Lovecraft Film Festival, which was a lot of fun and quite memorable. But this is a “rust buster” blog so I’ll wrap it up, and leave stuff to blog about later this week.

Habits come and go

I do seem to run hot and cold when it comes to updating this blog. Just like the last time I took a long break from posting here, the explanation is “been busy writing lots of stories.”

I’ve been working hard to shape up a new-ish space exploration novelette, vaguely space-opera-ish, to enter in this quarter’s Writers of the Future contest. I made a large number of changes, additions and deletions based on a very useful long discussion I had with my wife Lena during one of our mega-hikes, this time up at Trillium Lake, on Mt. Hood. That story’s just about done, but I had to set that aside.

In a recent post, I mentioned a Writers Weekend I’ll be attending in July, up in Moclips, Washington. For the workshop that weekend, I could have submitted one of my earlier, finished stories but I wanted to write something new. I decided to push through to completion the recently-begun story I mentioned in a few of my most recent blog posts, trying new methods & tools for writing… remember? This is the one I started out writing longhand, and finished drafting in Scrivener, where I’ve completed all the revisions. It ended up needing very substantial changes, including at least 6-7 drafts so far, and a completely new framing intro and beginning added in the past week. Managed to chop it down from 8,000 words to about 4,500 despite adding a whole new beginning and end, and it’s much leaner and meaner now.

Sometimes all a story needs is sifting with an increasingly fine screen until it’s done, but this one needed a radical re-think, a bunch of new stuff added, and really quite a different emphasis from where it started. It’s called “The Long Tightrope,” and normally I’d send this one out at this stage, but I’m ready to hand it over to other readers in this group and take their suggestions. It’ll be a good learning experience.

Just coincidentally this new story is in the same “universe” as the novelette mentioned earlier. I don’t usually do that, work on a whole string of related stories one after the other, in fact I started several other stories between the novelette and the new one.

Things have been especially busy — extra efforts required at the day job, various weekend outings including a family beach trip, and the usual real life — but I’ve been writing steadily, lots of new words, many newly-planned stories, and keeping the finished stories in submission.

Some upcoming blog plans:

1. A mini-review of Metatropolis, an interesting audiobook project (now out in good old fashioned printed paper format) by five authors working in a connected world.

2. Another discussion of the idea of rejection (from a writer’s point of view), specifically the idea of different kinds or degrees of rejection… even “good” rejection.

3. More about this upcoming Writers Weekend

4. More book & audiobook reviews, mini and otherwise

That’s all for now. I hope to be back soon, and more regularly this next month or two.

Spring Cleaning

Continuing my efforts to rejuvenate this blog, and get back to writing more about what it was originally intended to be, I’m deleting old posts that were unrelated to the “reading and writing” theme. Ironically one of the most-read posts here pertained to some sports-related controversy from last summer’s track & field world championships, but that’s not really want I want this blog to be about.

So, before I move forward, I’m going to shove a big pile of junk out to the curb where the trash guy can pick it up. Whew, that feels a lot better.

Also, I’m poking around with new blog themes, and yes I realize the blog has a “generic” banner image but I’m not going to choose a definite, permanent banner that’s really my own until I choose a specific blog theme… because the different themes all have different sized spaces for banner images.

Coming next… Science Fiction Academy 02!

The easiest thing in the world

Launching a new blog is the easiest thing in the world.

When you first start up a new blog, nobody knows about it but you.  Then maybe a friend or two might see it, but nobody who doesn’t already know you.  No pressure, since there’s no real “audience” yet.   By the time anybody makes their way over here to read this thing, this first blog post will likely be buried under a number of more substantial and more recent posts.

I blogged for a while before, on Myspace, and what started off a fun and very personal blog space, ended up having hundreds of followers and dozens of people leaving comments. I was blogging about 10 times per week, writing about music and my social life and fortune cookies and restaurant reviews, all kinds of stuff.  I have no idea if this blog will attract many viewers, but that’s not the important thing.

I also spend a bit of time in an online community called the Hypnos Forum, related to the ambient/electronic record label I founded over a decade ago. There are lots of cool and intelligent people there, but most of the discussion is on music and technology, and subjects related to books and words and thoughts seem not to generate much attraction. I just wanted a place to write about some things that have become increasingly important to me, especially as I’ve become more serious and dedicated about writing fiction.

It’s my plan to post here about a variety of subjects, but mostly observations about writing my own words, and reading the words of others. I’ll probably kick things off with a series of quick mini-review posts about some of the things I’ve read lately, and then start explaining more about why I’m writing this blog and what I hope to achieve with it.

So then, I’d say “thanks for reading,” but nobody’s reading yet. Like I said…  easiest thing in the world!