Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wild Mary's Way chap 4

Chapter 4 - Traveling Together

Chapter 4

Commentary to be read after reading the chapter:
So chap 4 wasn't great either. She encounters some more people but can't control her aggression. The wizard makes peace with everyone.
He wants her to not think of everyone as an enemy. I think this chapter failes because the encounter is kind of strange and she falls apart again. He's really preachy and not very helpful to her.

Improbable 5K PR RR

5K: 5000 meter race (3.1 miles)
PR: Personal Record
RR: Race Report
mm: minutes per mile

(copied from my post on
A couple of weekends ago we adopted a puppy from the Humane Society. I had all these dreams of running with the dog and taking her to work etc. These dreams were dashed when I turned out to be highly allergic to her, so much that I can't breath half the time. Needless to say that this has affected my running.
(If anyone in the Seattle area is looking for a puppy, check out our Craigslist post)
My asthma Dr. gave me some pills but they barely work. My lung capacity had dropped from 111% to 97% since Jan.
Anyways I decided to run the "Run For Children's Hospital 5K" today despite the suffering. I figured that I would just treat it like a tempo run. I've had a lot of heel pain lately as well so I haven't gotten nearly my normal mileage in.
Well today was completely miserable weather, 50 with steady rain and wind. The race is in Magnuson Park, and consisted of a mix of flooded broken walkways and flooded dirt and gravel paths, and mostly flat. You get the idea. For some reason all the walkers (with unbrellas) lined up near the start of the race so when the horn sounded I had to pick my way through them.
You might remember my last 5K, I had just gotten back from my dad's funeral and I was pretty emotional and inspired. Today I just felt a little sick and wet.
Fashion report: blue Nike shorts over compression shorts, blue Nike sphere dry T under full sleeve black Nike dry fit shirt, gray visor, new NB 857's, Garmin 305.
Once I pushed through all the walkers, I felt pretty good. My lungs didn't bother me much. My first mile ticked off at 8:58, which to my recollection may be my fastest mile split ever, including downhills. I didn't even feel bad and my legs were loose. Sometime during mile 2 I noticed my HR creeping up so I backed off a little. Mile 2 at my oxygen deprived state I didn't realize this was way faster than my previous PR. I still felt good so I really started to pour it on during the last 1/2 mile or so for Mile 3 at 9:27 and the last bit at 7:44.
(mile 1 with wind, mile 3 against wind btw)
Previous PR: 29:32/9:30mm (8/5/07)
New PR: 28:42/9:14mm
a 50 second PR! Also 16 secs/mile faster.
It took me 11 races to go from sub 31 to sub-30...and just one to get sub-29. I have absolutely no explanation for any of this...unless the pills I'm taking are a banned substance (Prednisone? Holy S...I looked it up...and it IS banned )
I guess I'll put an * next to my record

Well, hopefully we'll find a new home for doggie and my lungs will clear up. I have a 10K next weekend, and I'll be done with the pills before then. Maybe I should try for sub-60 10K...although I'll settle for under 64 for now.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


The End Of The World As We Know It

I've been invited to participate in a collaborative writing effort. Details of the project can be found at They asked me to help come up with the plot of the book, so here goes.

World-ending disasters can come in many shapes and forms. Here are a few that come to mind:
  • Natural Disaster - Cosmic events, impacts, dieoffs, diseases
  • Manmade Disaster - Runaway pollution, war efforts gone awry, economic collapse, bad inventions
  • War - Nuclear, biological, technological
  • Supernatural Event - Vampires, X-men, superheroes/villains
  • Religious Event - God's Wrath
  • Aliens - Gremlins, full scale invasion
Now of course all of these have been done to death. The question is, in an online collaborative environment, which scenario allows the most creativity and least amount of actual factual knowledge? I'd have to lean towards a more fantastic ending than scientific.

I kind of like the concept of mankind's arrogance and curiosity destroying the world, because I believe it's already happening. It's just that it'll take hundreds of years, but in a novel the ending can be neatly condensed.

Take the example of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Sure, let's just create energies not seen since the first couple seconds of the Universe and see what happens. There are some scenarios that involve not just the end of the world, but the complete destruction of the entire Universe.

So, what if this novel involves some experimental find that goes horribly wrong? If we throw in a supernatural element, that adds a lot of room for creativity. What if the RHIC uncovers the "evil" particle?
It's like an infectious particle that can be used against people to turn them into bad guys with powers or something. Of course you can't have an evil particle without the coresponding "Good" particle that counters the effect. Maybe the twist of the story is that p-Good actually makes people worse than p-Evil because of course we're all evil to some degree and you can't change human nature.

Good vs Evil is one of my favorite topics. I'll have to make a whole blog post about it.

[update] I thought of another couple of possibilities. is running a series on the fresh water crisis. One solution is to increase desalinization. Now what would happen if we dumped tons of salt into the ocean? An oceanic disaster is always good. The ocean could dry up or some hidden cache of "bad water" could emerge.

Then I thought about bacteria. Some people estimate that 99% of Earth's biomass is bacteria, living all over and inside the Earth's crust. What if something bad happened to all that biomass? Think about all the people we bury 6-feet under? What if somehow all these bodies get absorbed into the biomass, and then the biomass gets sentient from it? What if their souls get absorbed? How about this biomass comes to live and invades the surface?


Friday, September 28, 2007

Notice anything New? + next Wild Mary's Way Chapter

I created my own custom domain. Now this blog is at

I'm still trying to figure out how to get my published docs to show up there, instead of

Anyways here is the next chapter in Wild Mary's Way.
Chapter 3 - The Wizard

And now for the scathing critique of my own writing (read it first or this may spoil it)
This is supposed to be the scene where Mary meets her nemesis/savior/best friend/worst enemy. The whole thing just doesn't work. The point of the chapter is that he has this power to disarm her thru his words, using somewhat psychoanalytical techniques. He's supposed to be this peaceful do-gooder. I think he breaks her down too easily. His technique is to essentially hold a mirror up to her, and just tell her exactly what he sees in her. The truth is sometimes the most vicious weapon, and he certainly felt threatened although he couldn't show it.

The point of turning her into a mess is to illustrate just how messed up she it. She still isn't in control of her emotions, and is just discovering her sexual side (more to come on that in later chapters)

Well if I had a couple of days I could re-write this chapter, but I'm just letting it go for now.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Review of Bionic Woman from a writer's perspective

Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan)

My initial impression of Bionic Woman is that is seems pretty cookie-cutter and unimaginative. Like my other post about SF vs Fantasy, this show seemed to gloss over the technical details of how they actually fixed her up. To me it seemed like they tried to fit 120 minutes of story in to 48 minutes of prime time drama. So now she's magically fixed in literally a day, with magic strength and healing powers, and seemingly invulnerable. Not only that, the guy she likes totally screws up her life and she's concerned about that for about a minute. She's lost a baby, her legs, her arm, her body is invaded by some kind of nanites, and the next day she's back in the bar like nothing happened.

So what I'm saying is that this is all pretty fantastical and doesn't deal in reality or reactions. I think a 2-hour premiere could have filled in all these pieces. Now it looks like it will just turn into some kind of cop/secret agent show. And she doesn't even have the appeal of Jennifer Garner in Alias. I hate when I watch something and say, "I could have done that better."

I'll probably watch a few more episodes. If they want to go the fantasy route, then I hope they really ham it up with some fun villains and weird scenes.

Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The new TV season...

is killing my productivity. I'd forgotten how much crap I watch.

Current shows I watch in order of preference:
  1. Jericho (not running yet)
  2. Prison Break
  3. Heroes
  4. Supernatural (starts Oct 4)
  5. House
  6. Smallville
  7. Ghost Whisperer
  8. Battlestar Galactica (not running yet)
  9. Boston Legal
  10. Bones
New shows that I'll probably watch:
  1. Reaper
  2. Bionic Woman
  3. Moonlight
  4. Chuck
  5. Journeyman
plus random Baseball Playoffs, NFL games, other specials here and there. And this is just weekday shows. I watch a lot of crap on the weekends too. And I play volleyball one night a week. So when am I gonna write anything??

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wild Mary's Way

I was looking thru some of my old files today and I came across a novel I'd started about 10 years ago. It was based on a dream I had. Since I don't really want to put Dawn's Rise up here, I thought it would be a good idea to publish some of my earlier work. You can get a taste how I write. This is one of the few "fantasy" books I've written...although I throw in a hefty dose of post-apocalyptic technology.

Wild Mary's Way is a story about a fighting woman who leaves home to seek her fortune in the world. Mary is about as opposite a character as Dawn as you can get. She is mean, murderous, hateful, and violent. While Dawn seeks to save the world, Mary seeks to destroy it. I think when I wrote the character of Dawn, I sought to get away from the Xena-like characters I'd written in the past. Although Dawn is strong, she's no fighter. I don't believe she uses a single weapon in the entire novel, even though she has opportunities. I see her more as an irresistible cult figure.

On the other hand, Mary has no compunctions in killing. She's ruthless and heartless, and probably more of an anti-heroine. The novel is more about her struggles with herself and her inner demons than any external things. As it stands the book is about 100+ pages and 48K words which is manageable. It's more like the first part of a full novel, but I haven't really written or conceived the rest of the book.

Well here's the first chapter of Wild Mary's Way. I'll be posting more chapters as I get a chance. Any feedback is welcome.

[update] I got the second chapter posted. I don't know why I like to write about crazy people. Maybe it makes the story more intense. Mary's pretty gory in this one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Matt Ruff

Yes, the Matt Ruff came to our office today and read from his new book Bad Monkeys. 2 kewl authors in 2 days :)
I liked his fictional character a lot because she apparently shares a lot with my main character. They both kind of teeter on the edge of reality/sanity. I of course got a signed copy of the book which I hope to read soon. It was a much more intimate setting than yesterday and I even ate lunch with him for a while. He's a real nice guy. I asked him a little about the literary market and he agreed that I should really get an agent.

Well I haven't gotten much done on my book lately, the new puppy is taking up all my free time. I think things will calm down once she's acclimated. I've also felt like I have a cold lately. I really hope I'm not allergic to the dog, that would break everyone's heart if we had to take her back.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Neal Stephenson

Yes, the Neal Stephenson came to my office today and answered questions. We bring in a lot of authors. I asked him the obligatory "What advice can you give to an Aspiring Science Fiction Writer?"
He made a few good points:
  • The Science Fiction Market is extremely competitive
  • You may have a great SF idea but you need to also be a great writer
  • Getting published requires a lot of hard work and self sacrifice
  • If you don't succeed at first, move on to another project. Your skills can only improve.
He talked a lot about his books and life and was pretty enjoyable.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Sometimes I wonder where my fascination with the disaster/apocalyptic scenario come from. It's not like I've experienced many real-life disasters...well...until recently. For me, the first real disaster that affect me in a profound way was the Challenger Disaster. I was a freshman in college. Up until that point in my life I had an unwavering faith in science and NASA exemplified all the best in the world. Afterwards, I felt hollow and betrayed, like finding out your parents aren't really yours. Almighty science had let me down, and I began to realize that people are pretty fallible. For me, a perfect world had been destroyed in one blazing explosion.

The next big disaster in my life, and probably everyone reading this, is of course 9/11. I've had one recurring nightmare most of my life: a nuclear attack. I had all but lost that dream until 9/11. I suddenly realized that death could come at any time. No place was safe from the terrorists. They would stop at nothing to kill us.

The last few years have seen a different kind of disaster--those of a personal nature. I've had deaths in the family, lost my job due to layoffs/bad management, and had health issues. But nothing could prepare me for the night of Dec 14, 2006.

It was a dark and stormy night. The power went out early, around 8, flickered back on around 9, and then died around 10. The wind blew harder and harder. Even as I lay in bed, I knew I wouldn't sleep. Branches kept hitting the roof, sounding like hammers as they smacked into the shingles. Then around 1:30, I heard a crash that I thought would be the last sound I ever heard. I jumped out of bed because I knew a tree had hit the house. I could smell the pine permeating the house. I ran all around the house looking for the impact. Finally I dared to venture outside, and found the tree right on top of my bedroom. It had smashed a small part of the roof but the frame held it. The next day I discovered another tree had fallen into our outbuilding.
Well, it's 9 months and $60K+ later (mostly paid for by insurance but not all) and we're still finishing the repairs. We've had to live in half our house all this time while they renovated the damaged areas. The thing with this event is that we knew it could have been much worse. If the tree had fallen a few feet over, I probably wouldn't be writing this.

So that's about as close as I'd like to get to a real disaster. I'd rather just write about them for now on.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


This weekend my family adopted a 13-week old black lab mix!
She's extremely energetic and we're a little under the weather this weekend so it's been a little rough. We got her from the Humane Society. My son won't leave her alone and my daughter is a little scared of her because she likes to jump. But I think everyone will settle down over the next couple days.

The only thing I've accomplished this weekend on my novel is to write a 100- and 500-word summary. The 100-word summary is funny because it reads like a movie trailer. The 500-word summary just brushed on the main parts of the novel, without any of the interesting details that make the novel work. I also started on an "Inspiration for" piece, and I want to do an "About me" piece as well.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Science Fiction Vs Fantasy Death Match

It's a head-to-head face off! It's a writing-genre smackdown, with no holds barred.
In one corner we have Mighty SciFi, Predictor of the Future, full of aliens and robots.
In the other corner we have Ephemeral Fantasy, Creator of Worlds, replete with fairies and demons.
Science Fiction, or Scifi as we'll call him, comes out swinging, beaming lasers and brain waves at Fantasy. But Fantasy won't go down that easy. She picks up a magic wand and turns the aliens into garden weasels! She surrounds Scifi with a magic light of joy.
But Scifi is having none of that. He teleports behind Fantasy and creates a micro black hole which no magic can escape from. Fantasy struggles, weakening against the inexorable pull of the hole. But what Scifi doesn't know is that Fantasy holds a magic ring which reverses time. After singing the incantation for the ring, all the magic erupts from the hole two-fold, as well as Scifi's lost turtle, and she turns Scifi into a basket of fish and chips which the fairies happily eat.

So what's the difference between Fantasy and Science Fiction? People seem to lump them together in some kind of "F/SF" wording. It's true they are both imaginary (so is all fiction) but that's about where it stops. Fantasy needs to be put in it's one little world and leave SciFi alone. Fantasy has no rules or limits. You can write whatever you want without and limits. If you get stuck...just invent some other magic thingy and you're saved! Science Fiction needs to follow the laws of physics...whether it's the current ones or ones that are speculative. There are rules, people!

Maybe someday I'll create a completely fantastical world. But I'm going to create a set of magic rules no one has ever heard of before. How about charmed iPhones and an all-powerful DVD that can raise the dead? Cursed mouse pads and trolls that feed off CPU cycles (at night of course). Giant walking GPS receivers that can track you anywhere. Fiber optic hexes. Websites that do your laundry. Magical Love Beer. I'd better stop before I actually create something...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Cost of Printing a Manuscript

I did a ton of messing with the format of this blog. It's getting there. I've even added some nice pix which blogger then went and scrunched. I'm learning. I'm hoping to link to some like-minded blogs so we can create a community of aspiring writers-to-be.

Anyways, it looks like it's going to cost 7-10 cents/page to print my manuscript. At 650 pages, that comes to a whopping $45-65 per manuscript. Maybe I can print it at work. ;) No one would notice if I printed a chapter a day...for 3 months. :,(

Anyways all this bloggering hasn't left me any time to work on the damn novel. I need to rewrite the ending...I think I rushed it ('cause I was so dang excited) and I left out a few important pieces. Like how the world was saved etc etc....whatever. Let the reader figure out how it all worked out. I mean the set up is all there, shouldn't the ending be obvious??

Running through a Supermarket

I had a really bizarre dream last night. I'm a runner, and I run a lot of races (not competitively...just for fun). So last night I had a dream that I was running a half-marathon(13.1 miles) in a supermarket. Literally inside. The course looped from the cash registers, around the deli section, past the meat and dairy coolers, and then through the produce section. The floor was slippery, so at each corner I'd slip and slide as I tried to maintain my pace. Meanwhile, of course, the supermarket was open for business so I had to continually dodge shoppers and carts and stockers. I think I almost ran down the butcher at one point. I checked out my pedometer and noticed I only had 2 miles to go, so I really start flying around the store.

Naturally I finally wake up at this point. I wonder if I'd been kicking my legs like a dog. I was pretty worried during the race that I wouldn't set a PR (personal record) because of all the obstacles in the store. Now the main character in my novel, Dawn, has a lot of vivid dreams and visions, that often come to pass. It's not really clear whether she's previewing the destruction of the world or if she's just really depressed. Fortunately, the dreams I have never come true. If they did then well...a lot of people would be in a lot of trouble. ;)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Today's a hard day

This is my obligatory 9-11 post. I don't know what this has to do with writing. I guess one thing it does is reinforce that there really are bad guys out there. Sometimes I try to see the shades of grey in people. I try to empathize with them. While I try not to see the 9-11 attackers and planners as completely evil, I simply don't see what good can come of these types of attacks. The world has gotten worse since 9-11. There's more fear and hate in the world. And I completely blame the attackers for this.

This makes me feel less bad about putting evil, one-sided characters in my writing. I think there really are people out there just for themselves, and will do whatever they want no matter who it hurts. I think there are a lot more evil people out there than we think, but most of them don't fall into power thank god. Its when these people come to power, start abusing it, and causing unneeded pain and suffering, that's when I start calling it Evil. What's remarkable is when a person in power can use their power for the greater good instead of their own benefit. That's where true Good comes from, and I try to make my good guys take that to heart.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Reasons to Publish a Novel

What are the reasons to go thru the hassle of publishing a novel? I think the first few are obvious: Money, Money, Fame, and Money. Would I have still written this novel if I didn't think it would sell? Absolutely. But the nice thing about money is it lets me focus more on what I really, really want to do with my life. Sure, I want to be a programmer, but deep inside I think I've always wanted to be a writer. And an Astronaut. So basically I'm writing about people in space who are computer savvy.

I think however that there's a much deeper reason for publishing a novel. For the last seven months I've lived night and day with my characters, eating with them, sleeping with them, experiences their highs and lows, their joys and sorrows, and every intimate detail of their lives. These characters are like my friends, my family even. I feel like if I don't get their story published, I'm letting them down.

I can imagine what my main character Dawn Anami might say to me if I met her and the issue of whether I should try to publish Dawn's Rise came up. She would walk up to me, while towering over me, putting her long arm on my shoulder in a firm but gentle grasp. She would say something like, "Andrew. You've worked really hard on writing this novel. I appreciate all the work you've done on this. It takes a lot of dedication to write a great work of fiction."

You see at first she's real nice and sweet, as she bores into your soul with her penetrating eyes...

"But I really think you owe it to us to get this thing published. I mean, look at what we've gone thru in this book. I half starved to death, John had to live in a floating sewer for a couple weeks, you destroyed most of the planet, giving us nothing to work with...We're really counting on you to come through here. The people of Earth deserve to hear our story."

This is when I first shudder, because when a giant 6'7" but gorgeous woman starts laying into you, it's pretty intimidating. Then I start screaming because I realize that a fictional character is talking to me and I must have crossed that tenuous line between reality and insanity.

So right now I'm promising Dawn that I will get this thing published, and she'll have her hard-written story on some bookshelves somewhere. So please don't show up in real life and send me to the looney bin.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

What does it take to get published? pt 1 of X

I've been researching this all day (in between watching NFL games).
There seemes to be 3 ways of getting published:
  1. Send a manuscript to a publisher.
  2. Find an agent
  3. Publish it yourself.

The generally accepted "best practice" seems to be #2, since many publishers have stopped accepting direct submissions, and self-publishing is pretty hard and unrewarding.

The first step in submitting a manuscript is to format it. When I "correctly" formatted Dawn's Rise, it went from 499 pages to a whopping 649. I have no idea how many printed pages this converts to but it's a hell of a lot to print out. I may have to ship the thing in two envelopes.

Now I need to find an agent...preferably one in NY, and of course I live near Seattle, so I can't just knock on doors. So my project for this week is to come up with a list of potential agents and figure out how to get the story to them.

I also could use another couple months of work on the story. But just like my characters, I don't have all the time in the world, and I've decided to just go for it as is.

What's "Dawn's Rise" About?

So what's Dawn's Rise about?

Well there are two types of answers to this question. The first kind of answer is simple, which is a description of the plot of the novel. I'll return to that later. The second kind of answer is more complex, and far more interesting. For me, this question is about the themes involved in the novel.

I think the most prevalent theme in Dawn's Rise is Hope. The characters face incredible odds, and maintain hope at a time when every shred of hope is gone. Not just hope for the future, but the hope that they'll even live much longer. In fact I've gone out of my way to create circumstances of utter hopelessness. But despite everything I can throw at them, they persevere.

I have a little bit of Dickensian "Best of times/worst of times" going on as well. The book starts out in a utopian world, and degenerates into the worst possible world. I think this shows the fragility of the modern world, and how civilization is just a veneer. We're really only a couple steps away from devolving into prehistoric hunter/gatherers.

As far as what the novel is about, I think it's more important to discuss who the novel is about. My main character, the namesake of the novel, is Dawn Anami. (I came up with her name years before I named the novel) She's extremely tall, almost 6'7", which is purely the result of natural inheritance, and not any kind of future human growth technology. She doesn't have any super powers, or really any special skills at all. She's athletic, and is a locally ranked basketball and volleyball player. The one thing that is different about her are dreams and visions that begin coming to her. These visions are of a much different world, one where suffering and death are widespread. I've decided to let the reader decide whether these visions are something supernatural or the result of mental illness. I also think people should consider the idea that there is some third-party involvement.

Dawn never knew her father, and her mother died leaving her an orphan at age 10. Her Aunt watched after her, but in actuality Dawn watched after her Aunt, so became a fairly independent person at an early age. At the beginning of the novel, she is employed as a psychic at an agency that doled out fake prophesies. When she begins giving out true prophesies, and not only that, her customers began giving prophesies about her, she realizes that her life is not quite as simple and boring as it had seemed.

As the novel progresses, she is thrust into unique situations. As the world collapses around her, she emerges as a unifying figure, desperately trying to return the world to some kind of order, and to be able to save as many people as she can from the coming disasters.

Dawn Anami is probably the favorite character of any I've created. I've tried to create a person as opposite of myself as I can. She nice, sweet, empathetic, kind, pretty, strong, athletic, and sexy. I'm grouchy, uncoordinated, and dorky. If she has any kind of special power, it's the ability to get people to do what she wants. I have the same power in reverse: I can get people to do the opposite of what I want. Well hopefully that won't prevent me from getting this novel published.

Dawn's Rise - A Novel

I've just finished the second draft of my novel entitled "Dawn's Rise". The blog will chronicle my attempts to get this novel published, and I will possibly also post various snippets from the novel.

I first started working on this novel after being laid off in October of 2002. After a few weeks I kind of got stuck. I had thrown one of my main characters out into the solar system and I had no idea how to rescue him.

Then in January of this year I was laid off again. I started working a contract while I looked for a permanent job. I started riding the bus, and since I needed to bring my laptop to my job, I began writing during the hour-long trip to work and home. The first piece I worked on was a story about an angry youth I had also started some years ago. I made some progress on that story but it finally bogged down.

The concepts behind Dawn's Rise had been rolling around in my head over the five years since I first started it. The original title had been "10 plagues". I wanted the story to include as many disasters as possible, including a few that I invented. I also wanted to include that concept of "Space elevators" which are space stations tied to Earth. I also invented a new society based solely on commerce, without any governments or laws.

Another major change in my life since I began writing this novel is that I've taken up running. I now run for five hours a week over four days. Between riding the bus ten hours a week, and running five hours, this gave me enough time to really think through the plot of the story. Running especially gave me the freedom to concentrate on the story without any distractions. I began coming up with great ideas and twists, and began exploring my characters. I soon came up with the entire story arc from where I left off to where it now finishes.

I started my new job 3 months ago, and I just finished my first re-write of the story. I'm still not happy with it, I know it could be vastly improved. But given the fact that I now work full-time, I've done my best to create a readable and enjoyable piece. If anyone out there would like to preview the story and give me advice, I'd greatly appreciate it (and give you a nod in the credits page and this blog)

Wish me luck, and look for Dawn's Rise on bookstands....sometime before January 18, 2101 when the story actually begins :)