Posts Tagged ‘writing’

The Vinyl Scratch Tapes Audio Adaptation

December 30, 2011 1 comment

Hello everyone. Sorry about the long gap in posting, but life has been kind crazy these past few months.

Anyway, you may recall earlier in the year where I talked about the fanfiction I wrote for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, The Vinyl Scratch Tapes.

I am pleased to announce that some very talented individuals have made an audio adaptation of my fanfic. So far only the first two chapters are complete, but the quality of them is superb. They even approached me to write some original content for the adaptation, which I was happy to do. I even wrote a short Christmas special for them.

The voice acting in them is superb and far greater than I could have ever imagined. I’m very flattered to have such talented people working on a project adapting something I wrote.

Check them out:


Pony Fanfiction: An Ongoing Saga

Watch the show. Ponies are f***ing metal

I’m going to set a record for weird blog post titles.

You may remember last month I admitted to writing fanfiction based on the enormously popular reboot of My Little Pony and questioned whether it was worth doing or if I was less of a writer for doing so. Well, it’s been a month since I started and I do have to say that, despite what I may have originally thought, I think this experience has helped me grow as a writer. And yes, I’m being serious. It’s actually a pretty good story that I wanted to take the time to share. Allow me to explain.

My first crack at My Little Pony fanfiction was a crack crossover between the show and the Cthulhu Mythos. I wrote three chapters and eventually sent it to popular fansite Equestria Daily. For those of you who don’t know, Equestria Daily is pretty much the main gathering place for teenagers and adults that surprisingly enjoy the show. They also showcase fanfiction, but have pre-readers who approve everything first to make sure everything is high quality. As a result of this, most of the fanfics on the site are actually worth reading, like Progress (a very well-done comedic work). I wrote three chapters over the course of like a week (much faster than I usually write) and submitted it, certain it would get accepted instantly.

It wasn’t.

I was surprised, but it was a well-needed boot to my ego. I know I’m a fairly decent writer, but I hadn’t even considered the possibility of having to edit what I had written before I submitted. I am actually a relatively through editor for other stuff I’ve written, but I didn’t edit this fanfic at all at first. The reason for this? Well … to be honest, it was a fanfic and I was lazy.  The response I got was really helpful, telling me what I needed to work on and fix before it could be posted. Oddly enough, it was actually the most helpful critique I’ve ever gotten for anything I’ve written period. I wasn’t discouraged at all. I was thankful that it actually helped my craft, not to mention teaching me that any writer should always take what they do seriously. Thinking I could just write anything and people would like it anyway was rather arrogant and untrue.

I spent the next several days thoroughly editing it and submitted again, and this time it was accepted. I was very excited, having learned a lot about writing in such a short span of time (from writing fanfiction no less). Since Equestria Daily was a popular site and I thought my story was fairly good, I was certain it would become crazy popular.

It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it was rated very well and the people who read it did like it, but it wasn’t exactly an earth-shattering response. But still, it was fun to write … up until about chapter four when I got writers block on it. The story was relatively serious, and the only ideas for it I could think of involved throwing a DJ pony (based on a non-speaking background character from the show) in there to give exposition over the radio, but that had nothing to do with the rest of the story.

Still, I liked that idea and I ended up writing a different story that was just about that DJ pony hosting a radio show. Since I’m relatively good with dialogue, but not so great with prose, I thought it might be fun to write a story that was only dialogue, so each chapter of this story was done in the style of a transcript of the “actual” broadcast of the radio show. Also, since I had never written a straight comedy before, I thought it might be fun to give that a shot too (part of the reason I liked the idea so much). At the last minute, I got the idea to pair her with another pony who would act as the straight man.

What ended up coming from this was a story I called The Vinyl Scratch Tapes. Like I said, I had never done a straight comedy before, but I was surprised to find I had a lot of fun with it and I managed to turn out a pretty good product. After last time, I wasn’t expecting a huge response, but I had a hunch this might turn out a little more popular than before, especially since I enjoyed writing this even more than anything I had written in the past year (including the first draft of an original novel and several short stories). So I sent it to Equestria Daily and, unlike last time, it was accepted right away.

Turns out my expectations were a little low, since this story got ridiculously popular. I mean, it wasn’t the most popular fanfic on the site or anything, but it did get a huge response. People loved the comedy in it, so I kept writing more (throwing in a bit of dramedy in there as well). Each chapter I wrote of it seemed more well received than the previous one. Not too shabby for someone who didn’t think they could do comedy well. While my first story sort of drifted into obscurity, this one gets responses all the time. Heck, it even has some good fan art to boot.

This is the first piece of fanart I remember recieving for anything ever, so it's pretty special to me.

I’m in the middle of writing the last chapter of this story arc (though I think I’ll end up doing more in the future when I have time). I ended up learning a lot from this, namely that sometimes its important to do what feels fun rather than worry about what other people will think of it. I learned I’m way better at writing funny things than I thought and I enjoy it much more. Before writing these stories, I was trying to write horror short stories which died on the page. I was actually pretty depressed about it, but working on these stories picked my spirits up a bit. It did show me I am a good writer at a time when I wasn’t certain of that. I have a few ideas for original works that I want to work on, stories that will take advantage of the skills I learned from these fanfics.

Overall, I think it turned out pretty good and was very worth my time. And all this came about from watching a kid’s show. Sometimes it’s the little things that end up snowballing into moments that define us.

I’m sure some of the people reading this might find it funny I enjoy this show and even sillier that I wrote fanfiction of it, but I found it a very heartwarming experience. I found a lot of people who enjoyed what I wrote and showed me my strengths and weaknesses. I felt more rewarding writing this than I have anything else in recent memory. I just thought it was a neat enough story to share with you all.

Existensial Writing Crisis Caused by Ponies

So I’ve been spending the past week trying to write a serious werewolf story, but I haven’t gotten very far with it. In fact, it’s been going pretty stagnant thus far. I’ve felt very pressured that I haven’t been able to make the story really “pop” yet. Felt almost like I’ve had writer’s block or writer’s fatigue or something.

So then, after watching a few episodes of that new My Little Pony show on Youtube (don’t judge me, it is a well written show. A well written manly show. For manly people. Manly), on a whim, I end up writing fanfiction again. Crossover fanfiction between that show and Cthulhu (I … don’t know why either).

Read at your own risk (even though I do like this story, I just want to say that most of the stuff I write is a great deal more serious than this).

The weird thing is, in one day of working on this, I’ve already written more than after an entire week of working on that werewolf story. And it felt way more fun to write.

I don’t really know what, if anything, that signifies. Maybe I’m just getting kind of burned out on horror and it was kind of refreshing to write something less serious. Maybe I had more fun with it because I felt less pressure to refine it since it was, well, a fanfic and not something I intended to market. I honestly don’t know. I really like the story. I’m having fun writing it. But part of me feels like less of a writer because I’m going back to writing fanfic instead of working on original work.

I’m not entirely sure, but I think I’ll write this fanfic a little bit. I have spent the last five months working very hard on the first draft of a novel, which I finally finished. Maybe this will be a nice pallet clenser or something.

Or maybe I’m just justifying myself so I can write more about ponies. I’m honestly not sure…

Wait, People Read My Blog Now?!

April 18, 2011 5 comments

Hey guys.

So I was checking the stats for my blog yesterday when I noticed an irregularity in the page view data. Take a look at this scientific chart of my page views to see if you can spot any change.

Red arrows and bar graphs mean it's scientific

It was a bit surprising to me to say the least. Upon further investigation, I found out Chad Rocco,  the creator of Familiar Faces, linked me on his Deviantart page after seeing my post about his show earlier this year. I thought that was very cool of him and I was flattered that he liked my post about his show. I never expected him to even notice my post about his show, let alone enjoy my blog as a whole, so I am very grateful for that. Thanks CR!

It is pretty encouraging to know people are actually, you know, looking at the stuff I post. I never really set out expecting this to be a popular blog, outside of my group of friends and maybe a few other people. To be honest, up until now, I had basically operated under the assumption that this blog was a slightly high tech version of talking to myself. Considering I’ve always wanted to be a writer (and am currently preparing to try my hand at self-publishing), it is encouraging that there are at least a few people who read this blog and are interested in what I have to say.

So I suppose I’ll try to be a bit more regular about updating than I have been. I consume enough media that I have plenty of stuff to talk about. I’ve already got of bunch of ideas. So I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for reading and I hope I’ll be able to hold your interest from hear on in. Thanks guys.

It’s Good to Have Friends

So sometimes you’re helped out in ways you don’t really expect.

Since my last post, I’ve been considering putting one of my short stories on Amazon’s self-publishing platform and selling it for 99 cents a download. I’ve been trying to send this short story to different publications for months now, but it hadn’t been accepted. The story is called “Speedster,” which is sort of a dark superhero story about a normal girl whose brother is wanted for murder and is addicted to a drug that gives the user superhuman speed. It takes place in a world where using something that gives you superpowers is not only frowned upon by almost everyone, but also dangerous and addictive to the user. I really liked the story and thankfully so did most of the beta readers, so I thought this would be a good way to put it out there and see how well it would do.

I used to avoid letting anyone but my closest friends know I write a lot, which admittedly doesn’t make a lot of sense since my whole goal in life it to have a lot of people read and enjoy my stories. I’ve been trying to be more open about it to hopefully have more people read my work once I make it available for people. So I posted on Twitter and Facebook asking if people would be interested in a story I put out. The first person to respond was Mike, one of my managers at work. He was very supportive about putting the story on Amazon and seemed interested in the idea. It was pretty encouraging on its own, but what I didn’t expect was what happened the next day.

The next day, both Mike and I happened to be working and, unbeknownst to me, Mike let a lot of people at work know about what I was doing. Normally this would be the kind of thing I’d feel embarrassed about, but this wasn’t the case. I really didn’t expect the reaction I got. Pretty much everyone in the store who heard about it was asking me what the story was about and all seemed very supportive. Most of them said they would download it once I put it out. As an author who has never been published so far, this was very encouraging. It was honestly touching. I was secretly afraid that once I published the short story, nobody would buy it or care. Now at least I know quite a few of the people I work with will read it.

So, if anyone from my work is reading this, I just want to thank you guys for the reaction. Especially Mike for helping spread the word the way he did.

I want to return the favor a bit. Mike is the front man for a band called Mikey Rukus. Its actually a pretty badass band. They’ve done a bunch of custom entrance music for mixed martial arts fighters and lots of other songs as well. You can check out his songs for free on his soundclick page, but if you enjoy it, I do urge you to purchase his music as well. So yeah, check it out. It’s all good stuff.

Anyway, I’ll keep you guys posted for when I roll out the short story on Amazon. Right now I’m working with one of my friends to get cover art for it, so I’m hoping to be able to get that straightened out very soon. As soon as its ready, I’ll be sure to let all you guys know. Thanks again for all the support.

On Self-Publishing

March 19, 2011 3 comments

I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about self-publishing lately.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve been serious enough about it that I’ve read about how traditional publishing works. Until recently, I never even considered self-publishing an option if I wanted to be a serious author. As far as I knew, self-publishing was something people did when they couldn’t have real publishers.

Over the past few days, I realized that view was ignorant of the way things are going. A good writing podcast I follow called Writing Excuses recently had an episode about epublishing, centering around publishing online. After I saw this, I started to get curious and I read up on the issue. To my surprise, not only is self-publishing becoming a reasonable channel to reach readers, but many have already been quite successful at it and likely made more than they would if going through traditional publishing. JA Konrath has a very informative blog dedicated to talking about this, after he proclaimed he made more money self-publishing than he did when he was published traditionally. Other authors, such as Amanda Hocking and Wil Wheaton, have had a lot of success with publishing their work online.

Mind you, this doesn’t mean every author who self-publishes is going to make money (in fact, most don’t because sadly most of the stuff people do publishing online really isn’t that good). However, it does seem like self-publishing might not be a bad idea for writers who have talent and work hard to tell a good story and revise their work into something presentable. It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I’m currently working on a novel and was fully prepared to spend a long time trying to get it published after I finished and revised it. After reading all this, I still intend to make it presentable but I’ve considered trying to publish it myself on Amazon. Amazon allows people to publish their work as a digital download (priced anywhere from .99 to 3.99) and the author gets 70% of each sale in the US (35% for each sale everywhere else). Compared to the 15% royalties authors usually get, that’s not bad at all. Not to mention that most people wouldn’t mind as much spending only 99 cents on a book. I haven’t made a firm decision on whether I’ll attempt this with my novel (it’s too early to think about that anyway since it’ll be a while before it’s finished and revised), but I think I might experiment with it by putting a short story on amazon for 99 cents.

Self-publishing seems like it might be a smart way to distribute short stories considering most publications now pay very little for short stories. Selling a short story for 99 cents doesn’t seem unreasonable. I’m seriously considering putting a short story up and talking it up just to see how many would read it and how well it would do. I don’t expect to make any substantial amount of money from a short story, but it would be a nice experiment and I certainly am anxious to see how it would do.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my thoughts on self publishing. Anyone whose interested should definitely check out the links in this post since they have of good info about it.

Now I should probably get back to working on that novel. Until next time…

Thoughts on Censorship and “Taboo” Subject Matter in Fiction

February 7, 2011 2 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about censorship and fiction that has subject matter that might be considered taboo or potentially offensive recently.

This has kind of been brewing for a short while now for a variety of reasons, mostly with a few news stories I’ve been following, namely the decision to release an edited version of Huck Finn with instances of the n-word removed, this story about a book list of  “100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader” releasing a list then revising it after some readers thought some of the books contained controversial subject matter, specifically it’s handling of rape as a plot element, and finally the recent controversy over a Penny Arcade comic that used the word rape, which many people felt using it in a humor comic was perpetuating a “rape culture” (this last story I won’t be going as in depth on as the other stories since, frankly, it’s been discussed so much that I don’t really think I have a unique perspective on it. However, I’m including it in the post since it, and the other two stories, sparked the general thoughts I have in this post). I urge everyone to check out the discussions around all three of those stories, as the stories and controversy surrounding them leads to some interesting debate.

Just to warn ahead of time, I will admit that this post might seem kind of rambling. Mostly because this is just me thinking out loud about these topics based on the stories I’ve pointed to.

As a writer, I found all three of these stories very interesting, since it got me thinking about how strongly people can feel about subjects matter in fiction they feel is taboo or that they feel is making light of what they feel is a serious issue. Many people feel that subjects like rape and incest and the like don’t really have a place in fiction if not handled properly, that they can do harm to the culture as a whole or that they will simply trivialize the issue. The latter two stories I linked to included quite a lot of discussion about this (although the last story involving Penny Arcade is a lot more complicated since that controversy had a lot of different factors that caused it to roll out of control a bit).

I certainly believe in intelligent discussion about whether a work of literature or media is appropriate. Elements in all the stories I linked provoke debate about these subject, what’s okay to write about and to promote. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and if they believe a work is offensive or trivializing an issue they have intense personal experience in, they have every right to let people know that.

However, it works both ways. Above everything else, I believe in freedom of speech in regards to art and expression. Unless that form of expression involves physically harming someone, I personally don’t believe there is any subject that’s off-limits to explore in art and literature. There are plenty of works of art and literature I believe handle controversial subjects in bad taste or that I feel have just plain disturbing subject matter with little artistic value, but I don’t feel there is any one topic that’s taboo. It is one thing to say you don’t like a piece of literature because you feel its offensive, it’s an entirely different one to say that literature should be banned, censored, or that the people who read it without being offended are immoral people contributing to social degradation.

People who make statements claiming people should be barred from being exposed to a work of literature or art, usually very well meaning people, can lead to censorship, which I don’t believe in. It can lead to some people not being exposed to very respectible pieces of literature or weaken the point the work is trying to make. As we see in the first story I linked, not even Mark Twain is big enough to avoid censorship. That case is remarkable since anyone who has ever read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn knows that the entire point of the story was that slavery and racial discrimination is immoral. This book was written at a time where racial discrimination was depressingly common and where the n-word and ethnic slurs were heard quite frequently. Twain’s point is while that kind of behavior was the social norm at the time, it did not make it morally right, that just because words like those were used by nearly everyone and that treating people a different race as inferior was something commonly practiced, did not make it right. By censoring the book with this new edition, it weakens the overall point he was trying to make. Obviously the point is still there, but it won’t be quite as potent. It won’t be what the original author intended.

So when I see stories like the second link, where in a booklist was quickly revised after a few people complained about the inclusion of books like the critically acclaimed Tender Morsels and the chilling Living Dead Girl (which I happen to be currently reading through), it’s kind of unsettling. Again, people have every right to say how they feel about the list. Every top 10 or top 100 list anywhere, ever, has discussions over what should or shouldn’t be on it. The people who thought some of the choices were offensive are entitled to their opinion and most cite reasonable reasons why they don’t feel it should be on the list. However, the creators of the list actually changing the list because of those comments is the unsettling part. I felt it did a disservice to the authors and works that were removed from the list and it seemed to seem to be self-censorship more than anything. It’s disturbing knowing a book can be recommended then very quickly disregarded because of a vocal minority.

It’s the same thing with banning books. Many books have been banned from libraries and schools, including classics such as Catcher in the Rye, because of a vocal minority believing its not appropriate for one reason or another. Again, most of the campaigns to ban books are well intentioned, but it can lead to people not being exposed to great works of art. It can lead to someone else’s freedom of speech being silenced or diluted. And unfortunately, censorship and banning one work can set precedent for other works to be censored or banned.

My point in this post, if there is one to be made aside from me thinking out loud, is that I believe that everyone has the right to write about any subject, even if it might seem controversial, just as everyone has the right to make express how they feel about it be it positively or negatively. Freedom of speech isn’t limited to the freedom of speech you feel is appropriate. Whether you think a piece of literature is offensive or if you think someone’s post complaining about a piece of artwork is making an argument you don’t agree with. As long as nobody hurts one another, everyone has a right to express themselves. Controversies such as this provoke some great discussion and thought (after all, it got me thinking about all this), but I don’t feel like anyone has a right to be censored or silent when it comes to art.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts on all this. Sorry if it seemed to ramble a little bit. Just got to thinking about all that. I promise the next post won’t come off nearly as rambling or preachy or anything.