Jurassic World looks uncomfortably close to the plot of my book.

Well, this is awkward.

I just saw the trailer for Jurassic World. I’ve talked about this before, but I feel I need to say something else, especially in light of my latest chapter.

For those who don’t know, I’ve been publishing a serial novel about a dinosaur zoo over at Geek Eccentric this year. It’s a project I started drafting eight years ago as a NaNoWriMo project.

I was obviously influenced by Michael Crichton (I read Jurassic Park and The Lost World as a kid and loved them), but the real inspiration was a dream which featured the basic points of the plot. It was different enough from Jurassic Park: I envisioned a mid-level amusement park that was already open, with resident dinosaurs that were no more of a threat than any wild animal in any zoo. In fact, the real threat in my book isn’t even a dinosaur. The real problem is owner’s penchant for genetically modifying animals.

Which is why, after seeing the trailer, I feel the need to write this post, because certain plot points I wrote are also in Jurassic World.

It’s funny, because I deliberately don’t pay attention to entertainment news in order to keep myself from being influenced on certain projects. In fact, I didn’t even think there would be another movie in the franchise, not after Crichton’s death, and certainly not the year my serial novel was running. (It’s not the first time I’ve been surprised on this project: a few months ago I learned that Disney actually has an attraction named DinoLand USA.)

There are still plenty of differences between my park and the one in the movies. Mine isn’t as fancy as Jurassic World; it’s basically Six Flags with dinosaurs, while Jurassic World is the Magic Kingdom with dinosaurs. It’s not a man-versus-nature story: my story is told from the point of view of someone who grew up with the park, and in fact the story is really her story.

Here’s the thing I want to get out there: I wrote my book a long time ago. The outline I’m working from was created almost a decade ago, and although I do tweak it when I write and edit my monthly chapters, I more or less know where the story is going and you know where it’s not going?

Anywhere close to Isla Nublar.

Chapter 4 of DinoLand is up this morning at Geek Eccentric.

It’s aliiiiive. Or rather, it’s liiiive.

Chapter 4 of DinoLand is posted at Geek Eccentric as of half an hour ago.

In this month’s installment, the zoology team attempts to help a sick brachiosaurus. How do you do that? With armored vehicles, a team of acrobats and tranquilizers fired from a cannon. While praying. With a few ambulances on standby.

How does it go? That would be a spoiler. Click over to Geek Eccentric and check it out.

Freelance & fiction & the third Resistance book, which is definitely being written.

Just a quick post today: I’m working on freelance projects and prepping the fourth chapter of DinoLand for its publication on Sunday (there will be be big doings in Chapter Four, for those who have been following along. I promise you blood, my friends.)

That’s right, freelance projects! I love teaching as an adjunct, but I’ve been wanting to get back into the freelance world for a while, and I’ve finally had the opportunity to do that. It’s part of my long-term goal: freelance as a writer and editor until my books start earning me money and I can live the life of a full-time author. Then I can just sit in my office, eating bonbons and killing characters all day like George R.R. Martin. george-r-r-martin-meme-generator-have-a-favorite-character-not-anymore-cce918

Speaking of George R.R. Martin, it’s taking me a long time, but I am actually working on the final book in the Resistance series. No really, I am. The last book has a title and a new protagonist and everything. I know that my books are under 100 pages (as opposed to Martin’s 3,000 pages) and you’d think I’d be done by now, but as it turns out I have a lot of loose ends to tie up and I’d like to do that well, so it’s taking longer than I’d like.

What I can tell you is that the new protagonist is male, which is new for me in this series, and that we will finally find out what happened to the mysterious package in Beware the Hawk.

Also, the readers’ survey – I have not forgotten my “What Are You Reading” survey, which still needs a bigger sample size. (A lot of people read literary fiction, and almost no one reads philosophy. Descartes would be disappointed in you guys.)

And that’s it for me. I will post more later. I’ve been working on two posts for several weeks, but work and the baby have gotten in the way. Eventually both posts will see the light of day. At least, I hope so.

A Writing Day. (Or, a Writing Couple Of Hours. Same thing, really.)

Today is a writing day for me!

A good ol’ fiction-writing extravaganza day. Today, I do my favorite thing in the world: make stuff up.

w00t for a writing day!

Well. Actually, it’s not really a writing day. It’ s really a writing couple of hours. I’ve set the day aside, and my mother has agreed to watch the baby, but between feedings, packing the computer and the manuscript and the child in the car, travel time, catching up with my mother and lunch, it’s a writing couple of hours, not a writing day.

But that’s fine, because these couple of hours make it possible for me to have several stay-at-home-mom days and freelance writing days without losing my mind. Just knowing that these couple of hours are going to happen at least once a week enables me to spend days vacuuming, and washing diapers without feeling guilt about my work. Guilt is the worst.*

I’m planning to publish a lengthier post about writing with a baby and how I’m trying to make it work. (I’ve been drafting it, during naptimes, for something like three or four weeks. I’m not even kidding.)

But for now, I’m going to work on my fiction. Because I have the time.

*And my mother is the best.

I’ve had a short story up on Amazon for a week and haven’t told anyone.

I call this “stealth marketing.”
(Pro tip: I just checked my metrics on Amazon. “Stealth marketing” doesn’t work.)

short story, fiction, horrorAnyhow, the story.

Final Statements is about a woman who is obsessed with reading the last words of executed prisoners online. (This is a real thing. Someone records the final words of death row inmates and then those words are posted on the Internet.) She has her reasons for this, but you’ll have to read the story to find out why she has such a creepy hobby.

Check it out here.

This is the second piece in my short story experiment over at Amazon. About a year ago I decided to post my previously-published stories as e-books on Amazon. My first story, Undertow, went up on the site in March and it’s been read a few times, which is cool, because as far as I know, no one’s read that since it was first published in 2003. (The first version of Final Statements was published more recently, in 2011.)

I never realized how much horror I’ve written until I started this project. I tend to write a lot of literary fiction on a day-to-day basis, but when I started combing through the stories I want to publish on Amazon, it turns out, they’re all horror.
I’m too squeamish to watch a horror film, but I write horror stories. Go figure. This is probably what I get for being obsessed with Thomas Harris books in my 20s. (Clarice Starling, I still want to be you.)

Anyhow, that brings me to my next point. I have several unpublished genre (horror, of course) stories that I might include in this project. Rather than try to publish these pieces the old-fashioned way (send them to journals), I might just put them directly online. My reasoning: Amazon is where the horror readers are. Literary journals are where the lit-fic readers are.

Writers, what are your thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from you.

Chapter 3 of DinoLand is up at Geek Eccentric.

Dinoland_Logo_1Just a quick post to let you all know that Chapter 3 of DinoLand is live today at Geek Eccentric. Head on over and check it out because the plot is thickening and it is getting real.

As an aside, I’ve been meaning to write more than these monthly posts about things that are getting published. I actually have several posts started, but the first month of our son’s life has gotten between me and this blog. That said, I’m hoping to post more in the next few weeks; I have some projects I’m working on now that the school year is winding down and I’ve also just wanted to blog more.

Calling all readers! What are you reading and why: a survey

Recently, a piece was written on AVClub.com about the bleak state of American fiction. This generated some discussion online among writers about whether, in fact, things are bleak for American fiction.

It’s not a new argument. A debate constantly rages in the writers’ community about the state of reading among adults in our society. Is the future of books dim or do we have to wear shades? What are people reading, and how much, and how often?

But here’s the thing: talking to other writers about writing isn’t always the most productive conversation to have when you’re trying to understand the state of American fiction. You know who we should talk to instead? Readers.

Below is a link to an 8-question survey I put together aimed at book-lovers. I’m not the only person to have put together a survey for readers, but I am curious about certain specifics. So please take this survey, share it and encourage others to do the same. It’s anonymous, so there’s no judgment at all. Be as honest as you can, and thank you. I want to know what you’re reading and why. In fact, every writer on the planet does.

Bring me to the survey.