30 September 2013

Noodles. There; I said it.

I wasn't planning to blog today, it being the last day of September. I thought I'd save my post for October but, hey, I've got time. I just don't have anything worth blogging about. That might be perfect, however.

It has been one of those strange weeks and weekends where nothing really bad has happened yet there is a sensation of malaise surrounding me, as though the world has ended and I do not know it yet. Last to know; everyone points at me and laughs. Oh, well.

So let's both take a break today and simply wish each other well and pray that my twisted mind does not explode too soon, at least not in crowded spaces or during lunch time. The rest is just noodles.

See you on the other side of tomorrow, whenever that shall be!

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

22 September 2013

The Art of Observation

I'm a writer. That's not just a fanciful moniker of wannabe-ness. I write. I'm not an "aspiring" writer. I've got the manuscripts to prove it. I do, however, take a humble stand now and then by saying I fancy myself a writer. But I do qualify: I'm closing in on 800,000 words (novels, novellas, and short stories). Or I could call myself an "author"; that just takes having what you write published. Today, anybody can do that, of course. Even so, they must be written before they can be published. Quality, value, worth are other blog posts, however.

A large part of what I do with writing is not writing. It's observation, consideration, reflection, and analysis. Why do people do what they do? So I do not mind waiting in waiting rooms. I can occupy my time and my mind by inventing scenarios for the people I see. Malls are also great for this sordid activity. I'm not saying that's where I get my story ideas, just that it's a good place to develop this useful skill. And I've been developing it over the course of my life. To some, that makes me creepy. To others, I'm a harmless dreamer. I prefer 'Observer of Life.' I was recently promoted to First-Class, by the way.

So suppose there's this guy who is a little bit like me. That is, he is older, lives alone, has a decent job but is not really satisfied, likes to indulge himself with writing stories, and is starting to calculate that there may not be too much time left to start his life over again--as he has done before. Then he meets somebody quite by accident, someone who is so completely wrong for him--or more accurately, perhaps, he is so completely wrong for her. Nevertheless there is a click, a connection. It's all online so far, so there are only the words passing back and forth.

At first, it's quite innocent. Lots of humor. Facebook. Twitter. Emails. Texting jokes. Kidding around. It's fun; something to break the monotony of the week. The next step is to meet--in a public place because you know what the odds are that this is going to involve a creepy person. Coffee in a bookstore. You know, the latte experience. Laughter ensues. It's even more fun in person. No risk, no pressure, it's just for laughs. It's good to crack that weekend open.

Let's say the two of them feel that looks do not matter, that age difference isn't an issue, that no future needs to concern them. It's just for now. If it's good, why ruin it by pushing for more? However, little by little, it happens. There are dates. Dinners, movies, walks, talks. He makes dinner for her. She makes her specialty dishes for him. The evenings run late, slip into sleepovers. Nothing inappropriate. Just friends hanging out, getting sleeping, and the couch is right there. And then a mysterious thing happens: affection.

The sense of humor is now accompanied by a hand on the shoulder, in the small of the back. A one-armed hug. A friendship hug of full arms. The peck of a cheek. Peck of a cheek and a full hug. A quick lips on lips kiss. Longer kisses. There's a sudden realization that it's no longer just having fun for now. Enjoyment for now becomes a desire to continue the enjoyment. What's the harm in making plans? thinking of a future together? If they like all of it, why panic and fear it will go away? Tie it down, make it fixed.

The weekend trip, simply a sightseeing adventure, becomes an open door. A shared room becomes a shared bed, and a relationship is born. Not the exchanging of texts. Not the occasional invitation to attend church together, grab a lunch, or hang out with a couple of DVDs. Now something is serious. Soon a routine develops, brief loving moments mixed between job duties and other obligations. Why worry about the future? Because someone wants to be sure everything will continue as it is. They might as well make it official, as much time as they spend together, as much contact as they engage in, as much affection as they share. It's all good.

That's always the next step, isn't it? First, simply like a message: I like what he says, writes. Second, like the person: I get along with him. Third, let that person into your life: We get along just fine. Four, time together increases: I really like being with him. Five, affection increases: We've started kissing and other things. Six, something more than like but less than love ties them together: I like having him always there for me. Then come obligations--meetings, connections, each other's friends, the families, the jobs, the keys to each other's places although more and more time is spent together at one or the other residence. Then the big, special weekend: a preview of life together. Intimacy. The serious talks--no longer jokes via text message--but the push for more, and the making permanent of the more.

And a stroll through the mall pauses at the jewelry shop and just having fun for now becomes are you serious? Playing along, pretending, wishful thinking, dreaming. You know the type. There's reality for the realist. There's a virtual reality for those who play around the edges of reality. And then there is pure fantasy: things that will not ever happen yet we like to imagine what if they did? Is it a game or is it a dream? So they play the game, believing in the dream. There is, indeed, one ring to rule them all. And that is magic in the first degree. Nothing can take back that moment, that feeling, when the future coalesces from the mist and becomes concrete.

But concrete is hard and inflexible and it's scary. Too many thoughts of falling and cracking a head open against the stone. Fear unfolds. Doubt forms. Everything adds up, overwhelms, disturbs day and night, and finally erupts in the classic medium of text: "Sorry. I just can't do it. Goodbye." And winter arrives early, blows cold, freezes reality into some kind of hoarfrost statue of Defeat personified. It's not just fun for now any more. It's now, but without the fun.

What to do with a ring that's been officially sized for one particular finger in the universe? Save it for a rainy day? Go Prince Charming-like in search of another finger to fit the ring, another Cinderella fairy tale? Or get on that phone and beg, beg, beg? No, that's not actually, umm, dignified, so don't. Wait. Could do that. Life goes up and down, everyone knows. This is down. Next comes up. The Earth still spins, the sun shines, the night comes and goes. But it's not fun at all, even just for now.

"If you wanna meet at church I can buy you lunch after" reads the text message early one Sunday morning after a sleepless night full of ogres and goblins speaking in iambic pentameter. Lightning is not so quick, comets too slow, sunshine a mere flicker as the future suddenly explodes. There is nothing quite like sitting on a hard pew next to the lady bearing the naked ring finger, listening to the words of instruction from one who has been there, chiding one to keep it fun, that life is not meant to be a drudge, not intended to be hard, though drudgery and hardship do come, will always come, to those who fear having fun for now.

She's in a flowery dress as fresh as springtime; he's in a suit, serious for once, as they walk around the lake. Warm sun, cool breeze, and somewhere along the shore, where the trees offer shade, there is a pause for explanation. If not now, when? If not just for fun, then what else? If not you and me, him and her, them, if not us then who? who else? who else is there for you and me, him and her, them? Hand in hand, an examination of fingers, perfect for bearing symbols of significance--symbols that mean more than what anyone can say, and less. There is no symbol required to just have fun for now, they seem to understand. Let "for now" go on forever. Let "having fun" be whatever touches them, ties them together, ensures their continued enjoyment. Or, as sometimes is done, let the enjoyment be simply joy.

Usually at this point, I'll get up and go on my way. We all have errands to do, places to be. A writer is no different. We always wonder how things got to be that way, who these people are, and what happens next. You can answer that yourself. Grab some paper, power up your word processor, or flick on a digital voice recorder, and let everything go....

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

13 September 2013

Having Dreams about the Reality of Dreams

Some bloggers blog about life in their lives. Amazing lives they lead, where everything goes right or everything is a maze of frustration and confusion. Blogs about the writing life, the editing life, the life of the well-published author-about-town, the hell of grammar and the pit of typo sins. Blogs about dogs, cats, rabbits, zombies, vampires, and tacos. Blogs advertising pet projects, pets, or projects related to advertising. Or blogs doing double-duty as typing exercises. And then there are blogs which purport to offer wisdom, trendy trends for trendsetters, or fashionable fashion advice. Or blogs in which the blogger attempts with all sincerity to demonstrate just how utterly clever he/she can be with wordplay, rhetoric, and the dance of fingers lightly across a keyboard. The possibilities are endless.

An artist's [mis]conception of an interdimensional doorway.
Actual tangential doorways are not generally visible.
And then there is the Dream Land, a topic for which many have confessed confusion, consternation, or constipation. It is perhaps my fault. I have walked the fence between keeping it mysterious and letting it all hang out. Well, I don't like being kept in the dark past dawn, either. So allow me to answer your questions and alleviate any fears you may have by attempting to incorporate all current blog themes into a single post. (By the way, the Earth is not scheduled for destruction any time soon, so you have plenty of days and weeks to read all of your favorite books!)

Is the Dream Land a story of people who dream?

Kinda, in a way, it is. People do dream and they often remember them when re-entering a conscious state. Sometimes people are driven to act or refrain from acting based on what occurred in that dream. Thus, the aspect of dreams and dreaming referenced in The Dream Land  is no greater than that of real life. Said another way, "In space, no one can hear you dreaming!"

Is the Dream Land a science fiction novel?

Because humans function better when items are classified, I have been compelled to likewise assign a category to this book. Therefore, a long list of characteristics have been compiled from its pages and then cross-referenced with the ten most typical texts of the genre. A positive correlation of 72% was found. Thus, most people most of the time would consider The Dream Land to be a science fiction novel.

Is the Dream Land an epic fantasy tale?

There are some readers, well versed in the fantasy literature, and others who are well-versed in the science fiction literature who have doubts about its classification. The degree of science embodied in its pages is less than many other works labeled as science fiction. For that reason, the Dream Land could be labeled as epic fantasy. Given the scope of two worlds and the universe between them, given the range of years covered, and given the size of the refrigerator used by the cast and crew, it certainly could be called 'epic' and 'fantasy'.

Is the Dream Land an example of Steampunk culture?

As the adventures occur in settings of a global society prior to modern science, much of the cityscapes and transportation devices are typical of those in Steampunk literature. There are airships, for example; yet designs for jet aircraft exist but are deemed too harmful to the environment to be allowed into production. The architecture reflects a more decadent world view. The citizens are equally conscientious of fashions which, to the eyes of many readers, resemble those of Steampunk culture.

Is the Dream Land a scientific manual on interdimensional travel?

In some ways it is. There are descriptions of entrance and exit, a listing of symptoms of "voyager" disorder, and certain specifications on quantum physics. However, these items were recorded by lay people and so do not hold up to the rigor of scientific inquiry. In fact, the principle recorder, while an avid voyager himself and trained in physics, prefers to focus on the human effects of interdimensional travel rather than the causes and connections.

Is the Dream Land a memoir of a select few interdimensional voyagers?

It certainly could be considered that way. The volume includes descriptions of many encounters a few voyagers experienced during their careers as interdimensional voyagers. However, no attempt has been made to be all-inclusive or to present the information in any organized manner other than to mention the highlights of major trips. The details are left to the reader's imagination and scientific record in local archives.

Is the Dream Land something scribbled on a legal pad in the dark upon awakening from a nocturnal drama?

Critics have made the claim that the Dream Land is something less than literary. The most critical of these reviewers accuse the authors and other contributors of engineering a hoax whereby readers may believe they too can travel interdimensionally via "tangential" transfer points. The science supports the possibility but also the rarity of such locations. Those interested in interdimensional travel are urged to contact one of the participants via the Tangential Books link in the book. In addition, plans are underway to produce a stage play enabling an audience to experience the interdimensional travel tangentially through song and dance.

Is the Dream Land real?

Even the ephemeral is real. In as much as a thought is a biological activity where electrical pulses leap from neuron to neuron, a place based on a dream state may be presumed to be un-real. Yet in its state of un-reality it is itself a real entity. In other words, the abstraction of the dream is marked as a noun, a thing of invisible existence rather than mere rhetorical hyperbole. The idea of a dream is real; hence the dream itself is real. Reality is based not solely upon the physical tangibility of a thing. Furthermore, one person's dream may yet be another person's reality, and vice-versa.

Is reality a dream or is dream a version of reality?


Those who wish to know more are encouraged to study further and make inquiries of the main text via Amazon.com and other fine interdimensional nodes.

Disclaimer: The interdimensional travel you undertake is subject to your own intelligent choices; participants in The Dream Land project accept no responsibility or liability for what may occur by following what may on surface seem to be viable instructions for interdimensional travel yet which are actually limited to a traditional form of literary entertainment intended for the couch-bound or various electronic readership devices. If success should occur, handle with utmost caution.

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

09 September 2013

How much is your happiness worth?

Believe me, I understand. A blog post devoted to, shall we say, "advertising" is not the most attractive place to spend a few minutes while wasting some time at work or school. (Neither is writing such a blog.) However, it needed to be done. The book is out, available within some time zones and under the more favorable stars. I simply wish for my wonderful friends, followers, and [dare I say] fans to know of its existence. That's enough.

I love to write. [Let me start again:] I love to write what I choose to write. I don't mean professional documents (as I occasionally do now) nor academic essays and research papers (as I did not too long ago), or any other obligations of the literary sort. No, I mean fiction writing. The world of make-believe. I suppose that love comes from a long-standing disappointment with the status quo. Of course, it's not all utopia and unicorns in what I write, either, but at least the chaos, the misery, the betrayal and backstabbing are of my choosing.

And so I wile away my days (this past summer was a great pile of such days!--ooo, did I make a rhyme?) at the keyboard of life, type type typing the days into the molds I have created for them. And they (the days made of words which are symbols that represent the meanings of life) go on to form the walls and roofs and patios of Lego-like worlds in primary colors. That's how it is done. Waxing poetic on a Monday morning is winning, isn't it?

Long story short--if you've read this far--I love to write stories about people in odd situations and I love seeing how they get out of those situations. I'm the kind of writer who does not outline, does not plan ahead (not in any more detailed sense than a general story arc), and so as I write the story unfolds to me just as it will unfold to the reader. I like being surprised as much as readers are (I guess). Often I don't like what my characters have planned, what they try to do or get away with, and just as often they don't find my plans for them to be very appealing. Such is the conflicts between the real and the fictional.

Long story even shorter: I love to create these stories and more than anything else (anything but writing them) is my delight at readers experiencing these stories and enjoying them. That's my greatest thrill: to have a readers say (or post, comment, etc.) what they took from the story about, say, the human condition, or what he/she liked about these stories. I'll even take a "didn't like" comment with a half-grin. We can't get it all right all the time, eh?

So the bottom line is that I let people know when and where something is available so they may get as much enjoyment reading (indeed "experiencing"!) what I have created as I have gotten in creating it. I expect us both to be pleased.

And then there is the matter of money. Some people write to make money. I have not yet found a list of those people. Instead, I think most writers write for love of writing, as I do. But there is the need for food, printer ink, books for research, etc. that requires us to beg for some kind of compensation just to keep up the brain cells for the next round of creation. Starving artists do not actually create very good art; their minds are starved.

And as for paperback books, even set at the lowest possible price that, say, Amazon.com will allow, my take is only about one or two dollars per book, hardly a king's ransom. The ebooks for Kindle actually provide a slightly better percentage to the author. However, many readers prefer the touch, the feel, of woodchips in their hands. I do; call me old fashioned. Either way, it all begins with the quirky spark of gray matter inside an artist's brain, something which is truly priceless. How can one put a price sticker on an idea, even a fictional story about people who do not exist and therefore serve no purpose in life, contribute nothing to society, and ultimately are forgotten? Difficult to calculate. Even so....

I'd do it anyway (write), as I stated above, because I love to create new worlds and odd situations and see how it all plays out. If I share that entertainment with someone, isn't it fair I get something back in exchange? A "thank you" is a good start. An obsessive urge to possess the next creation of mine is also good. A meal ticket for the school cafeteria of your choice is often an acceptable donation. It's up to you. What is your happiness worth?

Mine is worth $1.29--give or take a few pennies.

And if you do not mind any little pluggettes, please allow me to mention some entertainments are available for you....


(Book I in paperback, or ebook
Book II as ebook , paperback coming soon; 
Book III coming soon as ebook then paperback)

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

02 September 2013

The Dream Land Trilogy is Launched

Exciting things happening in the Dream Land this week!

Thanks to all of you and your support! I could not have made this dream of mine into some kind of extremely twisted reality were it not for the encouragement, criticism, more criticism, some words of affection, and the occasional box of cookies. Here, at long last, is the real deal: the paperback edition of THE DREAM LAND Book I: Long Distance Voyager (or simply "The Dream Land").

In other Dream Land news:

Finished the final edit of Book III Diaspora to my satisfaction. Started my own "fan fiction" about what happens next to a side character, Dale T. Wilson, a retired detective. That will be great fun to occupy my autumn writing sprints.

Republished (so to speak) Book II Dreams of Future's Past for Kindle. I just uploaded the newer cover. That's all. The text remains the same. Book II will get the paperback treatment next, say, by December.

Republished Book I Long Distance Voyager for Kindle. Changed to newest cover...which matches the paperback's cover. Uploaded the paperback version's text, also, which includes a few corrected typos found in proofreading the "proof" copy sent to me. I also added a blurb about Book II.

And last but certainly not the least in any way, shape, or form...

Publication of the paperback edition of THE DREAM LAND (Book I: Long Distance Voyager) through my good buddies at Myrddin Publishing (in association with my own house Tangential Books). It looks great and reads great. I've read through it about a hundred times across many years and many editions yet I still laugh at the same places I should and cry at the same places where I should. I get excited in the fight scenes and get funky during the love scenes.

THE DREAM LAND Book I Long Distance Voyager in paperback, available just about now....

Already available at Amazon in the UK!

Here's the Amazon USA link (looks like Ammy is discounting it a bit, being a new book)

Available at Amazon in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain), India, and Japan, too. But in English, of course. Oh, and in Canada, too!

As a run-up to this paperback launch, I've been splattering the internet with Dream Land memes. Have you seen one yet? Here's one of my favorites:

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.