Wednesday, August 6, 2014

'Chicagoland' Second Edition Now Available

The new edition of Chicagoland has been published on Amazon. I'm very proud of the new edition. While at its heart it's basically the same story, the streamlining makes it a more coherent read. I've also cleaned up some things that, upon further reflection, shouldn't have been included in the first edition for one reason or another.

Readership to date has been small but generally positive, with an average rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon. I'm very pleased with that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

'Chicagoland' Second Edition Coming Soon

In the months since Chicagoland was first published, I have learned a lot of things. Some of them about editing, some about storytelling, some about marketing. Quite a few of the most valuable lessons have been outside the realm of the book itself, but have affected how I want to tell a story, and what I ought to include in one.

Because of all those things and more, I was convinced to do a round of revisions to the book. It's now shorter, snappier, and more focused on scenes that are emotionally important to the main character. I have simplified a few things, including combining a mess of about forty minor characters into a neatly packaged dozen or so. Finally, I fixed some large issues with the pacing and chronology in the latter third of the book, which hopefully helps draw it to a more satisfying conclusion.

More details to come once the new version is published. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

'Chicagoland' Excerpt: Rhymes with Silver

Moriarty went back to his guitar, strumming and, noodling around with lyrics. “I will buy you a bracelet of silver … that every thief would want to pilfer … Ah, that’s no good. Hey, what rhymes with silver?”

“Nothing, really. It’s one of those un-rhymable words. Silver, orange, purple.”

“What, really?”

“You never noticed, mister poet? It’s weird they’re all colors. One of those odd groupings that make me wonder about the English language. Have you also noticed most of the words that have the same singular and plural are nearly all animals? Deer, moose, fish, rutabaga.”

“I don’t think rutabaga is an animal.”

I laughed. “Just testing. It also uses a normal plural.”

“And isn’t the plural of moose meese?”

“No, you’re thinking of meeses, and that’s the plural of mice. And it’s not the real plural, it’s a joke cartoon plural.”

“Oh, right. But nothing rhymes with orange?”

“Can you think of anything?”

“Borange, morange, porange … no I guess not. That’s so incomplete. We need to make up words that rhyme so songwriters like me won’t get stuck. Let’s see. We’ll do gurple, pilver, and lorange.”

“But what are they going to mean?”

“Say a couple's gettin' it on. So he puts his gurple in her pilver and reaches for her lorange, which will be her boobs, and—”

“It doesn’t count if you’re just making up slang terms. Besides, we’ve got enough words for genitalia already. You need to use the new word to fill a definition that doesn’t exist yet. Find some new shade of meaning, or a way of relating two things, or wait until we invent a new technology and lobby to have the word used instead of J.A.A.”

“J.A.A.?” Morty asked.

“Just another acronym.”

“Gotcha. But wait, you want me discover some way of describing the world that nobody who speaks English has ever needed so far, but that’ll make sense to everyone once explained?”


“That sounds hard.”

“Keep in mind, since you’re inventing these words to rhyme with other words, they also need to go together. It wouldn’t do any good to decide lorange is a step-aunt’s second cousin and then still not ever be able to use it in rhyme with orange. Unless she’s been eating too many carrots or something.”

“You know what, let’s just forget it.”

“And that’s why we don’t have any words that rhyme with orange.

This was an excerpt from Chicagoland. The complete novel is Kindle format through Amazon.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

'Chicagoland' Excerpt: Nothing in Common

One reason Dominik and I got along so well was we had nothing in common. That’s not what it sounds like. We had plenty in common, and one of those things was Nothing. Not the Seinfeld nothing, meaning a certain empty pointlessness, but literally nothingness itself, the word nothing, and everything that stems from it.

Nothing is a funny word. Nothing is better, but there’s nothing worse, and there’s nothing like it in all the word. In the immortal words of Queen, “Nothing really matters.” You may whisper sweet nothings at the start of a relationship or be left with nothing when a bridge is burned. Even when you’re bored, you still have nothing to do, even when hungry, you have nothing to eat. And yet, despite its prevalence, it’s nearly impossible to think about nothing at all.

“I want to have a website that sells nothing,” said Dominik.

“Most websites don’t sell anything.”

“No, not just not anything. I want it to sell things, but all of those things are nothing. People will buy it out of perversity.”

“I don’t think credit card processors like empty transactions. And I don’t see even perverse people giving money away.”

“Okay, we’ll sell them something, but they’ll all be representations of nothing. A scribble. A picture of rust.”

“The number zero?”

“No, I’m pretty sure zero is actually something. But anyway, people will meditate on these things that have no inherent value, and in that meditation, they’ll actually discover the truth in the emptiness.”

“So like matter and antimatter particles that pop in and out of the void of space, appearing and disappearing and leaving everything essentially unchanged, but something really happened?”

“Yes! A picture of a particle and antiparticle is a good image; it’s two contradictory opposites, so it’s nothing. They can meditate on that one, too. Like giving someone silence, or space, they’ll produce from within themselves things to fill the void.”

“So when we sell them nothing, what we’re really doing is giving them themselves.”

“Absolutely. That will be our slogan, ‘Selling You Yourself.’ I like it.”

That’s how it went. We compiled a list of thirty or forty different logic-bending ways of using nothing in a sentence, as if it were a sentient agent. For example, when I told Camille I’d rather have her than Nothing, did Nothing’s feelings get hurt?

We collected visual representations. We constructed textual meditations on nothing, the void, emptiness, mu, and the like. Each time we got together, we’d add to the growing collection, bend our minds a little further, and laugh.

In the end, we didn’t get anywhere. It should have been obvious from the beginning that Nothing would come of the idea.

This was an excerpt from Chicagoland. The complete novel is Kindle format through Amazon.