Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sinister Writers Club - Saturday edition

Hey Sinister Writer(s)!

I know I'm shouting at an empty warehouse with these posts, but hey, this is working for me, so I'm going to keep doing it.  You, for any definition of the word "you," are welcome to join me at any time, and if you say hello, I will say hello back.  Well, I probably won't say "hello back," because that's just useless and weird, but I will return your greeting.

Today's soundtrack: Disparition, the artist who does the music for Welcome to Night Vale.

Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast.  If you like Prairie Home Companion, but you wish it had a little more H. P. Lovecraft and Steven King, and a darker sense of humor, and vague shadowy figures that inhabit a dog park which no dogs, or people, are allowed to enter, then you should listen to Welcome to Night Vale.

Writing prompt: A scientist stumbles on something mysterious lurking at the bottom of his cereal bowl.

Bonus image writing prompt:

I'll be checking on this post for the next hour or so.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sinister Writers Club - After Dark

Welcome to the first Wednesday night edition of Sinister Writers Club.  If you're up for making a blank page less blank, say hi!

Today's soundtrack: Massive Attack on shuffle.

Writing prompt: A giant robot shows up on your doorstep and tells you...

Happy Wednesday!  We're more than halfway to the weekend!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

New! The Sinister Writers Club: Evening edition.

It's been a long day at work.  You're tired.  All you want to do is have a beer and sit in front of the tube and veg out and then do it all again the next day.

Instead, why not join me and bang out some words?

The next Sinister Writers Club will take place this Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at 7:30PM Pacific Time.

Shake off the inertia and lethargy of the workweek and join me.

That way, if someone asks you:

You can say, "Hey, I worked on my writing project today!"

The Sinister Writers Club is in session!

Hello sinister writers!  Let's hunker down for an hour and bang out some words, shall we? Comment below with what you're working on, how many words you'd like to write, tell us where you're stuck, etc. Hell, just say hello.

Today's soundtrack: Evil Friends by Portugal. The man.  Digging this band's sound.

Today's writing prompt: A woman wakes up in a desert and finds that she's suddenly got a beeping metal bracelet around her right wrist.

Bonus! today's IMAGE writing prompt:

Inspirational quote:   “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” -Douglas Adams

I'm still working on my new story.  It's up to 11,000 words, and it is my goal to significantly increase that number today.  It's my first real attempt to write a sci-fantasy humor-ish novel inspired by Douglas Adams, Pratchett, Christopher Moore, and the like.  I had the first 10,000 words reviewed by my writing group on Tuesday, and I was given some really good feedback on how to improve it, but early reviews were generally positive.  
Ok, get writing!  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Find me on the book of faces!

I have an author page on Facebook!  You can connect with me there!  Here's the link!

Sorry, got a little overexcited there and used too many exclamation points.

First 10 people to connect with my author page on Facebook get a shiny new connection to my author page on Facebook.  Along with everyone else.

New project - Chapter 2

Because I'm having so much fun writing this thing right now, here's Chapter 2.  Chapter 1 can be found here.

I still don't have a good title for it, but it's up to 11,000 words now, which isn't bad.  It's going to be critiqued on Tuesday by my writing group, so I'm sure I'll have lots of changes after that.  Still, sometimes it's interesting to see the raw product, pre-edit, and watch it progress to its final form.  I have no problem sharing that process with you.  


Back at his apartment, Geoff put his keys down on the breakfast bar, shrugged off his blazer and threw it over a side chair in the living room, and then pulled a beer out of the fridge and guzzled it. The, aspirin, well, ok, the placebo effect, was wearing off, and Geoff's hands were shaking a little.
The offer from Symon Brooks was absurd. Echelon wasn't ready for prime time. It was just a jumble of code, and a website he'd hacked together to test a small fraction of its capabilities.
And the name wasn't stupid, dammit. It was edgy, techie, nerdy, intelligent. Geoff wasn't entirely certain what the word meant exactly, but he had a vague idea that it had something to do with military formations. Echelon was about organizing data. Regimenting data. It was Geoff's attempt to order, to filter, to make some sense out of an external kind of chaos that mirrored the fractured, half-remembered, unfocused, unending stream of input that assaulted his mind every day.
Geoff gestured at the breakfast bar, and his Air Screen clicked on, the thin projectors built into the ceiling and the bar glowing as they wrangled photons into aetheric submission, filling the space between them with floating data. The image was distorted where he'd put his keys down, so he picked them up again and threw them somewhere else.
The Air Screen installation had been expensive and complicated, a stupid indulgence, really, but Geoff liked the “living in the future” aspect of it. He didn't use it as his primary tech device; the gesture-based interface wasn't intuitive enough for his taste, and the thing was, frankly, buggy as hell. Still, it was gadgety and fun to mess around with, and there were some great games on it.
He swiped over to look at his email inbox. Brooks hadn't sent him the contract yet. He scrolled through the endless morass of spam, catalogues, and mailing lists he kept getting himself on even though he kept hitting unsubscribe on every single one of them. Email had been in wide use for more than half a century, and he was still inundated with crap.
Sure, he could try using one of those organizational bots that promised to clean up his inbox and only show him the important stuff, but he knew enough from his experiments with Echelon that those kinds of algorithms could miss stuff. And he didn't want to miss something important. And he couldn't be bothered. It was fine. He had five million emails in his inbox, of which he'd read maybe a few hundred over the past ten years. That was how it was. His friends laughed at him, with their empty inboxes and neat and tidy e-lives, but he just shrugged it off. It was easier to leave an email in a place than to figure out where it should actually go.
Which was entirely the point of Echelon, really.
Combining Echelon with AI would make it infinitely powerful. Kind of a scary thought, but Geoff wasn't one of those doomsayers who was afraid of the latest advances in AI because it might lead to killer robots and the end of the world. It hadn't so far.
Still, Geoff wondered if it should be his mind that was uploaded into the thing. Geoff honestly worried that an AI based on his brain would spend its time bouncing from subject to subject, distracted and consumed with wonder at every new bit and byte of data but unable to absorb anything in particular, and find itself completely unable to handle the task of sorting the data it was asked to sort. Instead of regimenting the internet, an AI based on his mind might just make it worse.
Geoff knew his own limitations, spelled out in a four-letter diagnosis that had dogged him all his life. ADHD. An AI based on him wouldn't turn into an evil robot overlord. It wouldn't be able to stay focused long enough to figure out the first step to world control. It'd start hacking into a military database and then get distracted by a video file of cats yawning.
But maybe Symon Brooks could edit the ADHD out of Geoff's digital mind, take only the good stuff, and Geoff could see his e-self as an idealized, digital version of the person he should have been all his life, if only there weren't so many damned squirrels and doorknobs and shiny shiny baubles.
Geoff walked out of his kitchen and into his living room. He finished his beer and put the empty bottle down on a side table, where it shared space with two half-full water glasses, a small plate with sandwich crusts on it from two days ago, a book he'd been meaning to finish but hadn't, a tablet computer with a dead battery, a new battery for a different tablet computer that he didn't have anymore, two chargers for phones he wasn't using, and a pack of gum.
His Siamese cat announced herself by meowing a hello and then leaping up onto the back of his vinyl couch and walking across it toward him. She headbutted his hand as he passed, and he gave her a few absentminded pets. Her food bowl was empty, so he filled it, and gave her some clean water.
Geoff grabbed his Baton of his coffee table. Inactive, it looked like its namesake – a black, plastic stick about the size and circumference of a cigar. But when Geoff registered his fingerprint on a panel on one side of the Baton, it split open, and a flexiglass screen unrolled itself from within.
As usual, in grabbing his Baton, he nearly knocked over two empty beer bottles and a martini glass. He really should clean up the place, but bah.
He sat down on his couch and swiped open his social networks. One of his friends had posted a picture of a cat. Another of his friends was eating a sandwich. A third friend was feeding a sandwich to a cat. A fourth friend was very angry about something, and there was a whole long heated argument that had Godwined within twelve comments. Someone else had posted something from a website Geoff knew was full of inaccuracies but was relied on unquestioningly by people who adhered to the No Pepper diet/lifestyle/religion. Someone had posted a comment to the No Pepper post with a link to an actual well-sourced news article disproving the original article, and the original poster had been quick to question the credibility of the news article, claiming that the pro-No Pepper website had “done the research” and that was all the original poster needed to know. Another friend wanted him to try a new VR game that was free at first but required periodic payments to actually advance.
And so on and so forth.
All of these tech devices, and it's still all just cats, inane arguments, and porn, isn't it? Geoff sighed and swiped upwards on the Baton. It rolled itself back up.
Geoff realized he didn't know what time it was, or whether he needed to get ready for his date. He opened his Baton again and was immediately drawn into a web article about a new way to clean your dishes using only air, and then spent another ten minutes scrolling through a forum of people interested in antique scooters, and then was curious about whether there were any old scooters for sale nearby, and then was curious about the difference between four stroke and two stroke scooters, and then saw an ad for a new bar nearby and clicked on that. After a little while he closed the scroll again.
Geoff realized he still didn't know what time it was, even though he now remembered that he'd opened his Baton specifically to look at that. He opened it back up and looked at the clock.
It was 6:30, and he had to be at the restaurant in 30 minutes. Shit. He realized he didn't have time to change, but he figured the corduroy blazer he'd worn to the interview would be fine, right?
Only the cat was now sleeping on it. Damn. He ran to his bedroom and rummaged through his closet. He sniffed the underarms of the shirt he was wearing. He was fine there, and the shirt looked good, it was just sort of a boring and corporate button-down. Not exactly date wear. He needed to accessorize a little bit.
He realized that most of his clothes weren't in his closet; they were in various piles of clean laundry heaped around his bedroom. He was good about doing laundry. He just wasn't great about putting it away.
So everything was wrinkled and unwearable, and much of it was also covered in cat hair.
He decided to keep the shirt and black slacks he was wearing, just add his black leather motorcycle jacket to the mix, and call it good. He also put on a hat. Then he took off the hat. He thought about the hat. He found a different hat. Then he thought he might wear a scarf instead. He wondered if he could take this scarf and use it as kind of an ascot. No. He decided to forget the scarf and the hat. He rummaged around wildly for his keys, found them, patted himself down, realized he didn't have his phone wallet, scrambled around until he found that, opened the door of his apartment, looked down, and realized he was barefoot. He put his keys down, rummaged around for his boots and a clean pair of socks, managed that, and then spent another chunk of time trying to find his keys again.
With six minutes until his date was to arrive at a restaurant that would take him twenty minutes to drive to, Geoff finally had everything. He took a deep breath and walked out of his apartment.

The Sinister Writers Club is In Session!

Greetings, sinister writers!  Let's spend an hour creating worlds out of words.

Today's soundtrack (or, as Cecil would say, today's 'weather'):

"Neon Lounge Seduction" playlist on Google Music.  I can't figure out how to link to it.  Basically just throw on some Portishead, Morcheeba, and DJ Shadow, and you'll be into it.

Writing prompt: You're walking to work when suddenly you see yourself walking toward you, and it looks like you have an urgent message for yourself.

As always, say hello, tell me what you're working on, let me know what you need help with, maybe post some of your work.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Let's do it again! Sinister Writers Club - this Saturday at noon pacific time.

The Sinister Writers Club will have another go at it this Saturday at noon pacific time.  Come join us!  Write something!  Share it! Brainstorm with your fellow writers! Be excellent to each other!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sinister's First Inaugural Virtual Write-In (Let's find a catchier name for this, shall we?) this thing on?

Ok, as promised, here's the first installment of Sinister's hopefully regular feature, which I'm now going to call the "Sinister Writers Club."  Yeah, that's catchy.  You're here, so you're sinister.  We're taking the word back.

Today's soundtrack:

Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful.

The new album from the Finnish symphonic metal masters finds them exploring and celebrating the wonders of science.  Truly one of the best metal albums I've heard in a long time.

Here's the first single from the album:

Buy it here, if you're into buying physical media:

It's also available on Spotify and Google Play Music, and I'm sure some of the other streaming services.

Writing prompt:

Let's go with a classic.  "The last man on earth sits alone in a room.  There is a knock at the door."

Alright, so here's how this will work.

1) Say "Hello."

2) Tell me what you're working on.

3)  Tell me how many words you want to write today.

4)  There is no fourth thing.

5)  Whatever you'd like.

Here's mine.

1) Hello.

2)  I'm working on a new project the first chapter of which I posted below a few days ago.

3)  As many as my little hands and brain will crank out.

4)  Nothing.

5)  Your turn.

You don't really have to number your comments.

If you'd like me to post some of your stuff on Sinister, email me at


Inspirational quote:

"After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with colour, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked -- as I am surprisingly often -- why I bother to get up in the mornings. To put it the other way round, isn't it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be a part of it?" 
— Richard Dawkins 

1:05 PM: Ok, this was fun.  I'm going to sign off now, but feel free to keep commenting. We'll do this again soon.  Stay tuned!