Monday, October 30, 2006

So, as many of you know, I'm working on my doctorate, and have chosen collaborative composition as my topic. I wrote my last book in a wiki, and had a few folks drop by to 'help out'.

But I'd like to start a new work of collaborative fiction (CF), and I was wondering if anybody here would like to be involved. This project will be a short story, and I would think that in a few months it would be finished and ready to submit to some magazines

I think in an ideal world we would get at least 10 people who are willing to help out.

What would be required of you?
  • Should have fairly decent writing skills.
  • Should be willing/able to spend around 1 hour a week in reading/writing/editing our short story
  • Be able to work well with others (i.e. flamers need not apply ;)

What would you get in return?
  • You'd get your name in print (assuming we write something print-worthy). Everybody who helps out will be listed as a 'collaborative author.
  • If you're interested in learning to write better, this is almost like a writers group. You will be getting feedback on things you write
  • If this works out well, I'd like to see us write more stories, maybe even tackle something big like a book. Those that help out might get to choose the next story.
  • If the story gets published, and there is actual money recieved for it, I would like to take half of the money and put it toward a web site where more stories like this can be created. Users will be able to talk about stories, start their own, etc. The other half of the money will be divided evenly among anybody who has made a contribution to the story. So you'll be getting, like, $3.84 or something like that.
Anyway, is anybody interested? Let me know here, or send me an e-mail at marionjensen & gmail , com.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh, how I hate that vending machine…

There is this vending machine in the place I live. It is filled with all sorts of interesting items. Some of them don’t look so good to me; organic tofu, extra wheaty fiber cakes, and a wide assortment of nuts and fruitcakes. But other items look quite tasty, and I often long to purchase one of them.

But every time I make a selection, instead of getting the item I want, I get one of two items sitting near the top of the machine. They both look putrid to me. They have no wrappers; they are bland, stale, and displeasing to the eye. I can’t tell the difference between either one of them, but they both drop to the selection tray in the same way a cow pie falls from the heifer.

I don’t know how anybody can stomach either one of these two choices, but they are quite popular. Almost without exception, everybody who inserts coins into the machine ends up with one or the other of these items. Some people actually select these two items, but many try in vain to choose another option.

I’ve been visiting this vending machine for 16 years, and never once have received the selection of my choice.

Why do I keep using this machine? Why don’t I demand its repair?

The problem is that the folks who benefit from selling these two products are the ones who maintain the vending machine. Why would they want to fix a machine that forces me to select one of their products? It’s a great situation for them. And they don’t much care that I get the shaft every time I attempt to make a purchase.

I’m speaking metaphorically, of course, about our wonderful voting system here in America. For 16 years I’ve been voting for third parties. I think many of them have some excellent points; points that aren’t being heard. I think the two parties are old, stale, and need to be routed. But my vote doesn’t matter. It never matters. A third party could get 49 percent of the votes, but if 51 percent vote for one of the evil two, then all of those folks are denied a voice.

It’s time to put the ‘representative’ back into representative democracy.

How to do that?

I don’t know.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Good News For Aspiring Authors

There is a perennial debate that circulates among authors and those aspiring to become authors. Can you teach good writing? If a person practices hard enough, can they learn how to write, or do they just need to have it 'in their blood'?

Well, it looks like there are those that argue that natural ability is not a requirement. You don't need a 'gift', you just need lots and lots and lots of practice. About 10 years, usually.

So, if you want to do anything, but think you can't because it just doesn't come easy to you...then practice. For another 10 years. And see what happens.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Isaac Zane

Checking the vitals
Originally uploaded by firemeboy.

300 Million?

Today marked the day that America passed the 300 million population mark. Those in the know estimate that sometime today the 300 millionth American was born. That will make an interesting tidbit for my son, who was born today at 1:44 PM. Obligatory pics here.

I have a few thoughts on the whole child birthing process. I freely admit I’m a sissy. I do ok with pain, and when the moving crew gets out and works, I feel like I can keep up with the best of them (except for David and Trent. Nobody keeps up with David and Trent). But when my wife is in pain, and there is nothing I can do about it, it’s torturous. The labor didn’t really start until around 11:30, but by the time the little guy was brought into the world, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I couldn’t stop pacing; I was tense and worried the entire time. I just don’t handle child birth very well.

I know, I know, it’s much worse for my wife, but at least she gets an epidural for the pain, nobody once offered me any drugs for my anxiety. Nor was I offered ice chips. Or Juice. Or a cool compress. I could have used any of those. I spent a lot of time with my head between my knees, and breathing into a brown paper bag.

I am proud of the fact that I cut the cord. Of course I was in such a stupor it turned out that I cut the cord to a lamp, but still, it’s a step in the right direction.

Anyway, Mom and baby are fine. Dad is tired, but is glad because of the whole ‘Mom and baby are fine’ bit. I look forward to peace and quiet that will come with 5 brothers in one house.

If nothing else, it will provide a lot of fodder for my next book.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

This is what the internet was made for...

Came across a great site called LibriVox They recruit readers, they take books in the public domain, and they record them. It's basically free 'books on tape'.

They roughly 300 completed projects including books, short works, poetry, and non-fiction. They have another 50 projects currently under way.

If you have a good voice, why not head over and volunteer?

Small Victories

Almost all of the writers I know aren't in it for the money. Sure, they'd like to make money. They hope that someday they might make money. But they write for other reasons. Some can't stop writing. Others find it therapeutic or enjoyable. But if making money is the only reason we wrote, 99 percent of us would stop, because we just don't make that much, if anything at all.

So we write for other things, and I take every victory I can get. Sure, there is a warm fuzzy when I open the letter from my publisher and see that they are paying me for putting words down on paper. But there is a much bigger warm fuzzy when a boy comes in for an autograph, and his mom tells me that he insisted they drive clear across town so that he can meet me.

Or when I get a package full of mail from an elementary class.

Or like the time a complete stranger told me that his wife was expecting, and he wasn't sure he was ready for another child, but after reading my book he is reminded that it's all worth it.

So, I never expect to quit my day job, and it's a lot of work writing and working with a publisher, and at the end of the day, I've put a whole lot more money in other people's pockets, than my own. But if somebody has chuckled over something I wrote...then it's all good.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Interesting Application

Interesting app that allows users to share what is on their bookshelf, give opinions, and read what others have said about the books they enjoy. Interesting way to find hidden nuggets in the long tail.

If you register, make sure to invite me (firemeboy) as a friend. I'm always looking for good books.

Not that I have time to read them, but hey...


I usually don't post on things political, but I am today for two reasons. First - it is after all, the season of politics. Elections are coming up, mud and other brown substances are being slung and hitting the fan. It's a great time to open a newspaper and read.

The second reason I thought I'd post on politics is I came across a pretty good article written by Lou Dobbs over on I actually don't pay a lot of attention on what happens back in Washington because it gets to the point where it hurts my brain. But if you read only one article this political season, I would recomend the above article.

And then, if that article doesn't meet your quota for words read in a campaign, I would also highly recomend an older book by P. J. O'Rourke called Parliment of Whores. If I could pick one book to be used by all of the civics teachers across America, it would be that one. Although O'Rourke and I don't share the same political party, we share a lot of the same opinions when it comes to government. And the book is downright hilarious to boot.