Charlie Stross on Ideas

Thanks everybody for the votes on the new header.  I’m gonna let it go a little bit longer and then make a decision.  I will admit I’m a little surprised with the results.

If you’re into science fiction and fantasy you should definitely be reading Tor Book”s blog,  I check it out several times a day, and there’s always something interesting there to read.

Just yesterday, they had an awesome column written by writer Charlie Stross titled  “Where do you get your ideas?”. Turns out this is a question he gets quite a bit.  Here’s a particular excerpt that I really liked (emphasis mine)

Unlike Roger Zelazny I don’t leave a glass of milk and a plate of cookies out by the door; unlike Harlan Ellison I don’t use a mail order supplier in Poughkeepsie. (Or is it the other way around?) I don’t invent invent neat new ideas at all. Instead, I trip over them—because they’re lying around in heaps. The trick is to pick several up at the same time and smush them together until some of them stick to each other—creating something new and interesting

Generating ideas isn’t some mystical talent that you have to be born with: it’s a skill you can develop.

Isn’t that the thing.  It seems everybody has a story idea or they think the ideas of others were the key to their success.  Haven’t we all heard, oh that JK Rowling.  I wish I had thought of that idea.  The idea of an orphan that discovers a special gift or talent and changes the world isn’t that unique of an idea.  It’s a theme that has been around for a while.  It was what Ms. Rowling did with that idea that made the difference.

Charlie Stross ends the article with something I’ve learned as I’ve gained experience as a writer:

Remember: ideas are the easy bit. The rest, as the man said, is perspiration.

Help Needed

I like to shake things up a bit here from time to time in the design department.  Also, I like to play around in Photoshop. It helps me learn the software.  I’m thinking about changing the header of this blog, but I figured I’d get your opinion first. Click on the images to see them in full size.

Option 1:

Status Quo – the header stays the same

Option 2:

swlogoOption 3:


I’d appreciate it if you would take a few moments and let me know which header you like the best.

Photographic Evidence


I said the other day I’d take a picture of the newspaper and post it here, so here you go!  It’s a bit blurry, but you can see that my story was on Page 1 of Section C of the Sunday paper.  They even added a photograph of a guy with a knife and a lady with a cat. Pretty cool! You can read the story here.

Not much else new here.  It has been hot lately.  90 degrees hot.  I like warm weather, but this is a bit much. Of course tomorrow they are calling for 60 degrees.  Can’t we get a happy medium?

Everyone For Themselves

Thanks everybody for the kind words yesterday. I enjoyed my time in the spotlight for sure. I also had a bunch of co-workers offering to help me finish my novel, as if lack of ideas was my problem. They just don’t understand the tortured mind of a procrastinating writer.

This weekend I was taking out the garbage through the rickety side door of the Writer Mansion. Really I could’ve just thrown the garbage through the door, that’s how frail it is. Instead I went for the old school way and opened the door. Of course a bee flew through the door into the house, buzzing right past my head. Of course I also had left the kitchen door open, allowing said bee a chance to enter Writer Mansion Proper.

So, bee buzzes past my head and I turn to dash into the kitchen through the door I left open. Only as soon as I start through the door, it closes on me. Turns out my wife saw all this happen and decided to protect herself, leaving me to my fate. Sure she’s allergic, but still…

Actually we both had a good laugh about it and I think she did the right thing. Once I composed myself, I went back down to try to get the bee out of the house in the most humane way. I opened the door. Then a hornet flew in. At that point I was trapped with two stingy things. They are both now in Insect Heaven.

I write this just so you know even us celebrities sometimes have to deal with life threatening situations. 🙂

Decisions, Decisions

A few things going on in my world. First of all, we have the son’s two month check-up today. He will be getting shots, I’m sure. If he’s like his sister, though, this won’t be too much of a problem.

The reporter from the newspaper called me to talk about my writing for the publishing of my winning entry on Sunday. He already had some info on me from my previous wins, but I had some new info too 🙂 Also, I sent them a new picture (those who “friend” me on facebook will recognize the picture).

Finally, I took a new Honda Insight hybrid car for a test drive yesterday. I really like it. I was getting around 50 miles per gallon while I was driving it around (it tells you as you drive). That would be nice. I just have to decide if I want higher monthly payments and to give away my beloved Element. The sticking point is that we’re so tired of being slammed by the Element’s doors and being stuck in between them when we try to get the kids out of the car.

So, that’s me and my exciting life. I’m so ready for the weekend and the hopefully warm weather.

I Wrote Some More

Remember that writing contest I entered a few weeks back but didn’t win? I didn’t think I’d be able to, but I entered again for Chapter 2 of the story. You can read the winner of chapter 1 here. Here’s my entry. It’s not great, but it’s the best I could come up with. I tried to steer the story in a different direction. That was fun at least.

Chapter 2

Sidney did not move, at least not voluntarily. She did shuffle her feet a bit, as the small metal shopping cart rammed into the back of her legs, snapping her out of her swoon. “Watch it,” she screamed, turning to face her assailant.

“Sorry,” said Luke Vafeas, his seven-year-old face red with embarrassment. He took a step back, just in case.

“It’s okay,” said Sidney, trying her best to smile through the pain. “Just watch where you’re going with that thing, all right?”

“I know,” said Luke, avoiding eye contact. He breathed in and out, trying to catch his breath. “It’s just there’s this weird dude chasing me.”

“Oh really?” asked Sidney, not overly concerned. “Why is he chasing you?” Most likely, the kid was just exaggerating, as children tend to do when they think they are in trouble. She scanned the crowd, looking not only for the “weird dude”, but also for John. Once again, she felt herself drawn into a situation beyond her control. Maybe this time, however, John could get her out.

“Because of this,” answered Luke, pointing at a small black and white cat inside the shopping cart that had moments ago given Sidney a dead-leg. “I saw the creepy guy getting ready to hurt her so I grabbed her and ran away. I don’t think the cat is really his.”

Sidney looked down at the cat. It was a cute little thing, not much older than a kitten. The cat was completely ordinary, two eyes, a tail, and four tiny paws. Nothing at all exciting. Sidney leaned down for a closer look. The cat was a perfectly common breed, although there was something about those eyes…
“Hey kid, come over here,” boomed a voice from across the room. “That’s mine.” Sidney and Luke both jumped.

Sidney lifted her head in the direction of the noise. A man in his early to mid-thirties, with a build as big as his voice stood pointing in her and Luke’s direction. There was something in his voice that told Sidney the man was dangerous. There was something sharp in his hand that confirmed her suspicion.

In one swift motion, Sidney grabbed Luke by the arm and started to run, dragging the boy and the cart along. She was not sure if Luke was telling the truth, but the police would be able to sort that out later. If she did not act now, they would not have the chance.

The big man gave chase, taking care not only to conceal his weapon, but also to dodge all of the people in between. Had it not been for these obstacles, it is doubtful Sidney and Luke would have had a chance to get away.

As they made their way to the door, Sidney glanced behind her one last time. She knew she was doing the right thing by helping the kid escape. However, she could not imagine what John would think when he returned to find her gone. She would most likely never see him again. Sidney pushed the door open, stepping through with the kid and the cat. It was too early to tell if she was making the biggest mistake or the best decision of her life.

Some Quick Stuff

I’ll have a post up soon. Promise. It’ll be a good one too. Some sound marital advice, in fact.

Had a good weekend. Got my Coraline Nike Dunks in the mail. Went with the wife, daughter, and son to a pottery place where my wife made a really cool plate. Got checked out by the ladies (probably because I was holding the baby). Got a Mile Cyrus song stuck in my head (OK, that wasn’t good).

I’ll post some fiction of mine tonight or tomorrow. I’m submitting a Chapter 2 to that writing contest in hopes of steering the story my way. We’ll see.