The Oneironaut's Log

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Month: March 2012 (page 1 of 2)

Mid-Week Posting

Somehow, it’s already Wednesday. I enjoy weeks like this that fly by, but it does make me realize I have another week to work through before I get to see my wife.

Some good news: my short story “Itch,” which took several years to write through many, many revisions before being rejected 4 times, was verbally accepted by Weird Tales. This news is very validating for me as a writer. I remember becoming enamored with the works of H.P. Lovecraft in college, and always thinking “That’s what I want to achieve.” Not the life-long poverty or probable mental illness, but that ability to craft truly creepy and unnerving tales. His first major publication was in Weird Tales, and now, I have followed in his footsteps. It still isn’t published until it’s published, but with the new editor saying he likes my work and it is in their accepted folder, I think I will call this a win.

Also, on the topic of Weird Tales, Mr. Marvin Kaye (the aforementioned new editor) gave me a great compliment in saying he liked my writing in regards to my submission of Episode 1 of The Lake Chronicles. The Lake was a story I thought up while reading The Ruinsby Scott Smith. I first grabbed the book after seeing a trailer for the movie and seeing it used a similar device to an idea I had in my long-under-construction novel. Fortunately, the device was very different, but Smith hooked me instantly with his story of South American horror. I began to marinate on this idea, along with my growing Lovecraftian influences, and a snippet from a movie I saw as a child of a sentient oil slick who killed people. The Lake was the final product: a 4000+-word short story I wrote for a class. I got an A, which was cool, but I wanted to do more with it. I wanted it to become a novel. So, with the 2010 NaNoWriMo, I started chapter 1 of that book. I dropped out right after that, but the idea was forming. With my acceptance in Weird Tales, I took a chance and pitched The Lake as a novella. Mr. Kaye declined that idea due to time and space issues, so I submitted just chapter 1 of my book and called it “The Lake Chronicles: Episode 1.” From that submission, I formed a new idea: The Lake will become a series of stories that lead up to my former story which will be expanded into a novella. This presents a new goal for me: I want to publish all the episodes in various magazines before I create the actual collection.

Suzanne Collins, take note: when I was writing this story/novel, I googled the title immediately. Sure enough I came up with three similar stories. One is about a romance and religious cult,one is about a freak of nature who hunts people,and one, which was so close to my story that I bought the book to make sure, is about conscious algae. There’s also an independent film that has a conscious lake, but I believe I have them beat by a few years, my story has a different origin, and the website hasn’t been updated in 10 months.

That leads me to my next and final topic: I watched Hunger Games. The movie wasn’t really a Battle Royalerip-off as many believe going into it because Battle Royale was good. Since I didn’t read the novels, I am just critiquing the movie experience. The camera work was worse than a student film maker who wanted to be “edgy” and do bad camera work to make a point. Nearly every conflict in the movie was horribly obscured by the fact that you can’t see what is happening. Evidently, this was a conscious decision, so they are fully to blame for it being bad. I think Cloverfieldhad more stable camera shots during the action segments. The acting was either really bland or really hammy throughout. Lenny Kravitz was the best actor, and as my wife and I joked, I don’t think the gold eyeliner was part of his costume. The plot was okay, but you knew how it would end as you go in, and the love triangle was so forced and inorganic. I really never got the idea that she was in love with either character she was supposed to be in love with, but people seemed to love it. That brings me to my ultimate problem with the film: it was a fan-service film. If you read the book(s), you are seeing your imagination come to life with a lot of assumed details. One thing removed was supposed to be Katniss’ insufferable inner-monologue that made a lot of people hate her. I have heard that this removal was a good thing. I think when a movie is made like this, it needs to appeal to the wide audience. After seeing Hunger Games, I have no desire to read the books whatsoever.

EDIT: I also forgot to mention that I have my next two story of the week ideas. I may add their synopses today.

Story of the Week #3 Posted

You can read Life Saver, Story of the Week #3, right now on my Stories page.

This story was a fun one to write as I took a premise that I heard from a guy who does Hoarders. He mentioned on Joe Rogan’s podcast that while cleaning out a de-facto landfill on this guy’s property, there was a homeless man living in the rubble. When he spoke to him, the man said he was a lawyer, his girlfriend broke up with him, and he lost it. I took this premise and decided to see what happens if that same man happened to run into that girlfriend. That’s where this story comes in. There’s a little bit of an action sequence, and if you have been reading along with each story, there is a nod to Story of the Week #1.

I hope this story was entertaining to anyone who read it. Please feel free to share this story with others.

I want to note that this is the halfway mark. I will be publishing a collection of stories 1 – 6 via Kindle. I may actually push this off until I hit story 12 in order to have a full 3 months or 4 ebooks. I’ll check out the word count before I make any decisions on that one.

Story of the Week #2: Collection

Late last night, I posted the second story of the week. I will make it my goal to get this next story out on Sunday in order to get a routine started.

This story was a lot of fun to write, and I am starting to get a better handle of character development. One of the characters will appear again in a novel series I have in mind. It’s a bit derivative (the novel series), but I think I give a good enough twist on the current forms of that arch type.

I am going to delay combining my stories into an eBook until Story of the Week #6. I will create introductions to all the stories (including Window Shopping, in case you felt that it was a bit sparse). I plan to keep my connections between stories strong, so at the end of each compilation book, I can draw the parallels between the stories in a long chapter. My ultimate goal is to create a year worth of short stories that are all in the same universe and linked together somehow.

After Story of the Week #4, I will begin a hardcore advertising campaign. This week and next week I will start crafting samples to fill out the portfolio page. I am also working on editing my first novel, and if that can’t be published through traditional means, I will be using my online avenues.

Thanks for reading, and I hope the SotW is interesting to you.

P.S. I apologize for still not having the Review Page nor the Contact page up and running. They are bit more complicated/out of my realm of experience, so I need to find some time and grind those out.

Few Quick Notes

First, I didn’t get to finish my Story of the Week for this week in time to post by tonight due to my wife visiting. I should have that by tomorrow night.

Second, and speaking of my wife, she has started her own blog on food and photography and whatever else interests her at her website. She’s still getting it started, so pop in and check on her status. I think she’ll have a lot of good stuff going on once she gets in the habit of updating.

Third, I will post a review of In Search Of and The Poughkeepsie Tapes tomorrow. Hopefully, I can use these as a means to garner more traffic.

Finally, I plan to have another draft of my novel done by this coming weekend, so I will be a little more sparse with updates. Once that project is completed (or complete enough to where I want to pitch it to agents), I plan to focus on my Story of the Week, adding some more to my portfolio, writing for other sites, and possibly starting a second novel. I also think I may start an app for Android since that is a big thing nowadays. It feels good to have some projects and goals to work towards.

Until then thanks for reading.

The Bad Apple

Courtsey of http://www.reddit.com/r/wtf

Today, I want to recount my entire tumultuous relationship with the well-known manufacturer.

Until my Junior year in college, I despised Apple as a blind hater. I think it was two parts contrarian and one part knowing something was not good about the product. Let’s look at a breakdown of how Apple works anyway:

13-inch 2.4GHTz Macbook Pro

2.4GHz dual-core
Intel Core i5
4GB 1333MHz
500GB 5400-rpm1
Intel HD Graphics 3000

Price: $1199
(source)

ASUS Zenbook UX31E

1.7GHz dual-core
Intel Core i5-2557M
4GB DDR3
128GB SSD
Intel HD Graphics

Price: $1049
(source)

So, looking at the two computers, they are nearly identical. Apple has the faster processor (whether or not it is better is up for discussion), and the bigger HDD. The ASUS does lack the size of hard drive, but it is labeled SSD, for solid state drive, which is WAY better than a normal HDD, much less a 5200-rpm. That’s a top-notch hard drive, and I am not sure they make them much bigger for laptops.

Not looking at the other stuff, the ASUS wins. It is roughly the exact same computer, with a better hard drive, as the Apple for a whopping $150 cheaper. When I was hating Apple blindly, this difference was MUCH worse.

My Junior year in college had a mass communications class with an awesome teacher (Will, if you read this, remind me of his name). The teacher was a die-hard Apple user, with good reason. He had an entire lab filled with Power Macs with their really good processors. These were from before Intel joined in.

Quickly, after that learning curve, I adapted to Apple. Around this time, the iPhone 3G was amazing, and I had a shitty Pantech Duo. The phone was littered with dust because of a screen issue, which AT&T said was unfixable at their store, restarted often, and just plain didn’t make calls. I was knee deep in an AT&T contract, so if I wanted an iPhone, I would have to pay a lot. Instead I took to eBay and found an iPhone 3G that was barely, if ever, used for a very cheap price (about what I would have paid for a renewal).

So there I was, working well on my Power Mac with my iPhone 3G. As a side note, I was also buying a lot of iTunes gift cards on eBay. I remember I had upwards of $400 in iTunes money, which I spent all of, by the way, before my iTunes account was shut down for fraud. Lesson learned: eBay isn’t policed very closely.

I was pretty happy. I was still rocking my Dell laptop that I had gotten almost three years prior for graduating from high school. I was working on various projects for that mass communications class when out of nowhere it began to shut down regularly. Research said two possibilities: bad charger or bad motherboard. Of course, it was the second.

Thanks to this mass communications teacher, I was using two USB drives to constantly back everything up. Laptop died, sucked, but I managed to get all the files I needed off of it. I was going through the process of getting a RMA from them, when my USB drives refused to open. There I was, about two days before a project was due, with no laptop and no back ups.

By this point, I had a custom built computer via a friend (I won’t name him as he stopped doing that, but he was phenomenal with his work). I was using that until Christmas to get a new computer. After a great deal of research, and pain from working with that dead computer via some hardware tricks, I got a MacBook Pro for Christmas.

My experiences with it were pleasant at first. After some time, I hit my first problem.

For whatever reason, my MacBook wouldn’t stay connected with my router. I called AT&T, and they tried a few things before explaining that Apple had to provide some settings. I called Apple, and they said AT&T could do it since they couldn’t, but they could elevate my support if I bought some service plan. When I moved, the issue was exacerbated, but I grew to deal with it.

My next issue was something they actually got sued for. Apple provided these really, really terrible chargers that were not shielded from bending. If you bent the cable where it naturally bent, it would quickly develop joint-rot, which required you to replace the charger. For $80. This happened twice to me, with my second one being shielded by my electrician co-worker who said “This is made to fail.” I think I ended up buying a total of 3 with the third being a new design that was, ideally, meant to prevent this cable rot.

Strike three was partially my fault. I had dropped my MacBook, as did my lovely, clumsy wife, enough times to kill my Optical Drive. Now, I have changed out a lot of components in a computer, so changing an optical drive was nothing for me. Research showed this wouldn’t be as easy as I thought.

First, it was hard to find the layout of my MacBook to even take it apart. Second, it was next to impossible to find an optical drive for my exact model. Begrudgingly, I called Apple, expecting to pay a hundred or so for something I can do. I called, and I was quoted $650 for parts and labor. I was flabbergasted. I took that money I would have spent on this work and bought an Acer, which quickly had Ubuntu installed on it.

As if all that wasn’t enough, I was done with Apple when my wife, who was using the new iPad I bought her, noticed she lost some money (about $18) in iTunes. Allegedly, she was told “All sales are final, whether authorized or not.”

I, for a long time, related this story, but I believed I was horribly misquoted or misheard. That picture from /r/WTF (whether real or not) really put things into perspective. When I see this product going for almost 900% of what this product cost, which are essentially the exact same thing, then I know something is wrong.

Apple is hurting now that Android is booming. What used to be a choice between a Smartphone (only with iOS) or a free, feature phone is now pay $xx or $xxx for an iPhone (which will be outdated the following year with Apple’s release schedule) vs getting a free phone that runs Android and can do everything that comes with it.

Apple’s new strategy, rather than out innovate, has be to sue into oblivion. This mentality is sickening and pathetic in that they believe that if they sue their rivals out of competition it will help them. It won’t. If Apple kills off Android, I will go to a flip phone before I give them a cent. Apple cannot see its own self-destruction by suing the only competitor who has been out pacing it. iOS 4 or 5 introduced multitasking which Android had since at least 2.2. Apple answered that with a lawsuit of in-call multitasking.

It’s amazing that a company that survives only because Microsoft wasn’t allowed to eat them alive is so willing to legally kill its competition and curbstomp its customers. That old adage about the bad apple always rings in my mind in relation to the company with the same namesake.

Notice of New URL

It dawned on me that traffic I gain today will be linking from LDE’s link to http://www.johnjoad.com, which is my old (until today!) URL that was for my pen name.

I apologize if this caused any concern, but you are on the correct page!

Finally…

Well, my redesign is now complete. In the next few days, I will be adding more advertisers as well as finding methods of gaining traffic. This should be completed by Sunday at 7PM EST, when I will post my first Story of the Week.

I am really excited about this project as it will give me the chance to hone my writing abilities, expose myself to an audience, and most importantly, help me entertain people I wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

I am sure there will be many changes from now on, but I really hope that this site can become something fun and cool. I have a lot of plans down the pipeline, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

That’s all for today’s update. Thanks for visiting my site.

Submission

By the end of the day, I plan to have submitted a total of three items for publication. Going through the process, I realize how accurate the process is titled to the actual act of being dominated.

With each submission, I must meet a set of criteria, be it word count, genre, or whatever. I am also forced to summarize my entire work into a boiled down sentence or two, stripping away the nuances of the work. I wonder how often are covering letters are even read. I continue to write them out of fear of that disqualifying me from potential publication.

Writing is already a very vulnerable practice. You are creating something with words which is essentially pouring your thoughts out for all interpretations. Critics abound.

Eventually, I think I will be completely desensitized to the whole process, but that moment of vulnerability as I offer something for appraisal that I enjoy slightly.

Site Redesign Update

I am pretty happy with the layout I have so far for the site redesign.

One thing that has become apparent is that in order for this website to be an accurate representation of my writing and designing abilities, I will never really be able to have a completed website as I will constantly be tweaking bits and pieces. I also want to keep building samples until I have enough for a small book.

As of right now, I plan to be done my redesign by Friday or Saturday. I’ll adjust this blog to fit in with the rest of the site, add ads in the next few days (sorry), and probably start advertising the site the day it goes live. Everything will start pointing to the new URL at that point. I am burying my former pen name.

It’s pretty neat to have a single project I am thinking about and working on, and I am just getting started.

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