mmerriam: (Default)

Originally published at Michael Merriam. Please leave any comments there.

So the subject of Patreon keeps coming up around me: various authors running Patreons to allow them to write a short story a month, or make videos of them reading, a poem a week; all kinds of creative ideas. Typically those who pledged money get to enjoy the art first before the author sends the work out into the world and to the general public.

I’ve been asked multiple times over the last couple of months if I am or possibly considering starting a Patreon of my own.

I have thought about it, but the answer is: No.

I like the idea behind Patreon, but it doesn’t seem like it would work for someone without a national platform to start with. I’ve seen lots of writers with that platform barely manage pledges equaling up to a $1000 a month in exchange for the writer writing one short story a month for the patrons, or putting out novel chapters. If you could get 1000 people to pledge $1 a month, it will work, sure and it would rock to be able to just write all day every day.

Except that I’m not at all sure I could get $100 pledged and then I would be doing the extra work of creating exclusive content for my patrons for that $100 a month. This isn’t actually worth me doing, because I wouldn’t have the extra free time $1000 a month buys, but I’d still be pledged to create extra content. I worry I’d be making a ton of more work for myself without getting enough financial gain.

Now, I could be reading this wrong, but even well-known national authors can barely get to the $1000 a month total pledges point, and I figure I’d need at least $750 to make it work.

It really does run on the 1000 True Fans model for writers.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have 20 True Fans.

So no.

mmerriam: (Default)

Originally published at Michael Merriam. Please leave any comments there.

Yeah, so Minnesota Fringe Festival Lottery. That’s a thing that happened. And my ping-pong ball was selected. I’m in the Fringe this year, and I got in the good way, with lots of time to prepare.

Yesterday I managed to carve out some writing time, so I was beginning the brainstorming process for my Fringe show, looking to maybe set a basic outline and start gathering material and thoughts. I turned on the Television for background noise, and there on TPT was Kevin Kling’s “Lost and Found.”

Now, the show I’m writing, tentatively tittle “Unsafe At Any Speed” is about going from able-bodied to disabled and going from being a driver to a rider of public transit in a country that has a deep seated car-culture and is at times openly hostile to public transit and it’s users.

So I’m working on this show, listening to another with one ear, and Kevin looks at me through the screen and says, “Storytelling is how we deal with loss.”

Thanks. Thanks for cutting to the heart of matter for me. and thanks for all the feels.

mmerriam: (Default)

Originally published at Michael Merriam. Please leave any comments there.

Despite the single digit temps, I went out today and wrote, getting away from the house for a time. I didn’t pay much attention to how long “Ghosts Of The Place You Live” is becoming, just allowed myself to write whatever the story needs to be complete.

When I got home, though, I found the entire novel is 1000 pages and 168,000 words long. I should probably break the document down, since long MSWord documents tend to corrupt.

Anyway.

The plus is that I am nearly done with this draft of the never ending novel. Or novels. I am already thinking about how to structure the novels, interweaving the 2 major and 3 minor timelines of the novel. To tell you all the truth, I am ready to be done with this project, which I started over 2 years ago. I am ready to move on to something else.

Barn Door in sight. Giddy-up.

mmerriam: (Default)

Originally published at Michael Merriam. Please leave any comments there.

I needed to run errands today in the Miracle Mile area of St. Louis Park (UPS Store, Wells Fargo, Half-Priced Books, Trader Joe’s) so I wanted to stop somewhere in the area and write. The Caribou down there is a postage stamp that is always full. Dunn Bros and Village Coffee are both long closed. I tried McDonalds, but it was packed with screaming kids. So off to my least favorite coffee place, Starbucks.

As usual, it was crowded. As usual I was stuck with the uncomfortable bar stool seating to find a power outlet. I didn’t stay long. But I did make this observation: Everyone in the Starbucks was younger, prettier, and skinnier than me and they were all using Macbooks of some kind.

I felt like a walrus with my large aging disabled body and giant black bullet-stopping Thinkpad. I think in the future when I need to run errands in that area I will just skip trying to write that day.

mmerriam: (Default)

Originally published at Michael Merriam. Please leave any comments there.

I generally don’t do New Years resolutions, but I do like to set a few goals for myself every year. To that end–and to help keep me accountable–I’ve made the following Goals For 2016, only one of which I do not have complete control over.

1. Finish the novel “Ghosts Of The Places You Live” and start searching for an agent.

2. Find a publisher for the weird-western novella “There Are Not Enough Midnights.”

3. Finish the Steampunk Holmsian homage novella “A Study In Violet.”

4. Write a one-man storytelling show about blindness to perform in schools.

5. Write at least one feature-length screenplay.

6. Write at least one two-act stage play.

7. Keep my blog and website rolling with new content at least once a week.

No pressure

mmerriam: (Streetcar)
I’m riding the buses to meet some friends for cocktails and snacks after a long and kind of not-so-great Saturday at work. I take my typical #12 Bus to Uptown and get on the #23 at Hennepin and Lagoon, out in front of the Uptown Theater. This is the longest stretch I have to ride, so I settle in read email on my phone for the next half hour.

She gets on near the Uptown Animal Clinic. Late 20s or early 30s. Red hair, black knee-length dress, boots. She looks like she’s heading for a night on the town, to be honest. She has a purse over her shoulder, but is clutching a small drawstring bag in her hand. She scans the bus, which is mostly empty, then walks to where I am sitting behind the back door, settles next to me, puts her head on my shoulder and sniffs.

“I had to put my cat down last week. These are her ashes,” she says softly.

“I’m sorry. I am so sorry for your loss. “I’m Michael, by the way.”

She sniffs a couple of more times, but doesn't say another word, just sits next to me with her head on my shoulder, clutching the little drawstring bag that must hold the ashes of her pet. As we near 38th and Portland she pulls the cord for a stop and gets off. I watch her walk down 38th until the bus pulls too far ahead.

I don’t know who you are, miss. But I’m sorry for your loss.

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
The realization that the three intertwined novellas I’m structuring as a novel might actually be three novels, followed by the sound of me pouring a stiff drink as I softly weep into my cat’s fur.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
Yes, I will be at Minicon this weekend. Yes, I will be on a couple panels and doing a couple of events. Yes, I would love to chat with you. Yes.

Friday 8:30 pm – Why Are We Still Having This Panel? - Veranda 5/6
There are panels that have been done a thousand times (you know the ones we mean) – which ones are still necessary? Which will we gouge our eyes out it we see again? (Moderator)

Saturday 2:30pm – Artistic Bravery - Veranda 3/4
Releasing your work into the wild can be the scariest part of the artist process. If you want people to see your work, you have to take the first steps and share it. Hear stories from writers and artists detailing the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to sharing.

Saturday 3:30pm – Mass Signing – Garden Court

Saturday 6:00pm – Reading – Veranda 1/2

Saturday 6:30pm – MinnSpec Reading – Veranda 1/2
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
Marscon is this weekend, March 6th through 8th at the Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Hotel. This year’s theme is “Heroes and Wizard and Fey.”

I always have a lot of fun at Marscon, and look forward to seeing people I only see during convention season. If you’d like to come up and say hello, please do. I’m on the programming events below, so I should be hard to find.

How Come Nobody’s Heard Of Me, Dammit!!
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Friday 04:00 pm
Let’s figure out all the things we did wrong! With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam.

Fiction Reading: Michael Merriam
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 10:00 am
Michael Merriam reads from his latest novel and possibly from something upcoming. With: Michael Merriam.

Storytelling vs Story Writing
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 01:00 pm
Is there a difference between these two arts, and if so, what is it? While they are often lumped together, are they really that closely related? What skills are absolutely essential to storytelling but useless to story writing and vice versa? What is the difference between the markets these two arts aim for? What are the advantages/disadvantages of one over the other? What tools or methods are out there for refining your storytelling skills, and how do they differ from writing? Skill, talent, both, neither? With: S.N.Arly, mod.; Haddayr Copley-Woods, Michael Merriam, Susan Woerhle.

Convoluted Quests: The Modern Writing Career
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 03:00 pm
Book contracts, self-publishing, short fiction, editing… writing careers these days are often made up of a patchwork of options. Join GoH Lyda Morehouse and other professional writers to talk about how they’ve dealt with current publishing realities. With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Roy C. Booth, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan.

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Type)
Here we are in February and this is my first post of the year on my poor neglected blog.

I opted to skip the annual year in review post. 2014 was mixed bag.

Here we are in February and this is my first post on my poor neglected blog of the year.

I opted to skip the annual year in review post. 2014 was mixed bag.

I had a reasonably okay year as a stage storyteller with good shows at Minnesota Fringe and as a quest of the Rockstar Storytellers.

As a fiction writer it was a tough year. There were disappointments and rough patches, enough that I realized I need to change the way I do certain things, which I am changing. The only reason I don’t count the year as a complete disaster is that I managed to finish the first draft of novel that challenged me as a writer.

I started dipping my toes into play and script writing, which has been an interesting experience and one I intended to pursue. My spares dialogue driven writing style lends itself to script writing quite well.

So yeah, kind of a downer post for kind of a downer year.

And yet, I move into 2015 enthusiastic and hopeful that I can turn that bad year around with effort and focus.

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
I had hoped that I would finish the first draft of Ghosts of the Places We Live before the end of the year and I managed to hit the end on Christmas day. I think that’s a nice Christmas present to myself. Now I shall let it sit for a month or so while I work on other projects.

Speaking of other projects: the next MinnSpec anthology By Polaris Bright is still on track for publication by Minicon 50 in 2015. I am pretty damned thrilled by this.

I have pulled out my weird west novella There Are Not Enough Midnights and given it a read. There are some structural problems and a couple of plot problems, but nothing large or insurmountable.

So, what does 2015 hold for me? I have no idea. We’ll just have to see what happens together.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ghosts of the Places We Live

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
Oh, how long it has been since I posted a blog update. I've been pretty active over on my Facebook page, but my poor neglected blog…I can only blame it on the dark and cold winter that has roared in and settled on Minnesota.

Oh, how long it has been since I posted a blog update. I've been pretty active over on my Facebook page, but my poor neglected blog…I can only blame it on the dark and cold winter that has roared in and settled on Minnesota.

Things have been going on. I ran the merchandise table for the latest Minnspec Showcase reading, spent a lovely weekend in Duluth with Beloved Spouse, and have unfortunately fallen ill, missing a full week at my day job.

The one positive to being stuck home is that I've managed to jumps start working on Ghosts of the Places You Live. Lots of writing managed this week and I've pretty much got the third and final section outlined, so hopefully even with heading back to work and heading into the winter holidays, I will be able to keep some momentum going. I would also like to take this moment to give a shout out the "You Know You're From Oney When…" community on Facebook. I have gotten all kinds of valuable information from the kind folks there.

Tomorrow night, I will guest storyteller with the Rockstar Storytellers at the new Phoenix Theater. I am planning to tell a story about one of the nameless Nazgul. I am pretty pleased with it and I might try to record and upload the story after the performance. I've been thinking that I need to get a good microphone and learn to use audio software so I can make recordings of readings and stories.

Word Meter Ahoy!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ghosts Of the Places We Live

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
I haven't blog in quite some time, it seems. I've developed a love/hate relationship with social media, and I seem to be in a hate phase right now. I should probably take one of those social media sabbaticals I sometimes go on. I think I need to get away from Facebook, G+, and Twitter. Not so much my blog and Live Journal (though Live Journal doesn't seem very alive anymore). The problem is all my friends and family are on social media and it's just easier to keep up with them that way. And now there is this Ello thing I should sign up for, never mind the fact that I've avoided Tumblr since it's inception.

The novel is still moving along. I have the third section outlined, so all I need to do is find some time to settle in and write the rest of the first draft. Once that's done, I'll need to connect the three sections together, which I suspect will take some serious time and work. I am also editing a third anthology for the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers, which should be out in early 2015, probably in time for Minicon's 50 anniversary convention. I have all the stories picked out and am waiting for the last of the contracts to arrive before writing my editorial and front-of-book matter and sending everything off to the copy editor.

For those of you playing the home game, Minnesota Fringe Festival went well. I thought the show was well received and though we were better some nights than others, we never had a bad performance. I was reasonably pleased with my own performances over the festival. I also have at least one and possibly two more storytelling gigs lined up before the end of the year. I will post more information here once things are official. I am also working on the script for a play I plan to submit on spec to a science fiction theatre festival in Los Angeles. We will see if anything comes of it.

I've been doing some thinking about where I am as an artist. I pulled out a story I've been working on off and on for the last 2 years, and I found I liked the style and voice I was exploring in that story more than the style I am using in my current novel. I'm not sure the style in the short story (very baroque and ornamental) would work for this novel, which seems to need plain, straightforward, almost invisible language, but I do miss playing with tone and style and voice in ways I normally do not.

I have also been thinking about how despite the fact that I strongly identify as a prose writer first, as a spoken-word performer second, and all other arts I pursue a veryvery distant third, I will make more money as a spoken-word performer again this year. It has me thinking about career path. My last two royalty statements from Harlequin haven't included a check because my sales have slumped. I suspect those two books are quite reasonably played out after 3 and 4 years on the market and none of my newer stuff has moved well, though I can lay a lot of the blame for that at my own feet. I just haven't had the energy lately to get out and market and pitch and shill and flog and hand sell like I have with other books.

I've been reading Jeff Vandemeer's BookLife and it has me thinking serious thinky thoughts about my identity as an artist, and artist's statements, and planning how to reach my goals. I don't need to make a ton of money to be able to stop working part-time. I fully acknowledge that I have an advantage with drawing SSDI and being on Medicare, but it is an advantage I pay for by being blind, so I don't feel all that bad about it. The thing is, I've hit a point a decade into my writing career (how the hell did a decade pass?) where I find myself hard up against the question of pursuing my passion versus dealing with my personal finances.

If I want to keep doing this being a writer and performer, I need to change my approach.

That was gloomier than I meant for it to be. Here, have a word meter to show I'm still passionate about my current project.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ghosts Of the Places We Live

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Coffee)
Edwin Jagger DE with Astra Platinum Blade
Escali Badger Hair Brush
Dapper Dragon Shaving Soap in Strawberry Lemonade
LadySea Creations Shaving Scuttle
Clubman Pinaud Aftershave

IMAG1298

As some of you know, I've stopped shaving with expensive multi-blade cartridges, going back to the way I was taught by my grandfather and the way I shaved until my early 20s, using a double-edged safety razor. I don't often do these "Shave of the Day" things because once I find a razor, blades, shaving soap, and aftershave I like, I tend to stick with them, but I've been trying a lot of different products lately, so I thought I'd post a review of some of the new things I'm trying from time to time.

The Jagger DE is a loaner from a friend, but I'm thinking I want to buy this one. I liked the control of the shorter handle and heavier weight over my lighter long-handled workhouse Lord L6. The Astra is my usual blade, though I'm always willing to experiment.

What really made this shave was the Dapper Dragon Strawberry Lemonade, which is a seasonal, but I'm sure still available at their Etsy store. It whipped up super easy with great foam (I just traded up from a boar brush to a badger brush and the difference in how well and quickly soaps whip is significant). The shaving soap smelled delicious and left my skin feeling a nice tingle. The razor went over it smooth and easy and I only needed two passes to get a good close shave instead of the traditional three. I highly recommend this shaving soap.

On a personal note, I like using the scuttle instead of just a bowl because it keeps everything warm, which I find makes the shave more pleasant, and the LadySea Scuttle is just a lovely piece.

Finished off with the Clubman Pinaud because this is pretty much the aftershave my grandfather used and if it works for me, why switch?
mmerriam: (Pen)
"We go where we’re sent. We have names and we stand against that which must be faced." So says the primary protagonist, United States Marshal John T. Marwood.

Marshal Marwood is sent, or called, to the New Mexico frontier town of Haxan, and he's already faced with a murder to solve right from the start. This murder-mystery provides the over-arching plot, but while solving the murder, Marwood must also deal with a town that needs some cleaning up, a budding range war, a Navajo war party, and multiple other matters. Sometimes he uses applied violence, sometimes smarts and words. John Marwood is not a one-trick pony, but a well-conceived character, tough, honorable, flawed, willing to do things the hard way, aware of his own strengths and weaknesses, willing to die for the right things, this is Marwood.

Author Kenneth Mark Hoover has created a novel that is part murder-mystery noir, part unblinking, non-romanticized western novel, and a little bit dark fantasy. But don't think Haxan is all darkness and grit: There are genuinely amusing (but not laugh out loud funny) bits of dialogue and scenes; there are moments of compassion, friendship, love, and honor. Yes, this a hard novel, but it was a hard time and Hoover's prose and plotting pulls you along like an express train on a long flat straightaway.

I highly recommend this novel, especially if you are a fan of westerns, dark fantasy, and detective-noir.
mmerriam: (Oney)
I'm still working on my novel. MNFringe slowed me down. Also, I've been a little on the stuck side heading into the 1999 section. What I need is a day or two where I can focus on the novel to the exclusion of all else. Maybe I can work this out sometime in September.

I think maybe I'm too tired from Fringe to think clearly right now.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ghosts Of the Places We Live

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
This is everyone’s reminder that the Minnesota Fringe Festival production I am taking part in, "Invisible People," opens this Thursday, July 31st with 5 performances at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage -711 West Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405. Tickets are $12 and you need a Fringe Festival button, available at the venue for $4

Showtimes are:
Thursday, 7/31 @ 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/2 @ 10:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/6 @ 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/9 @ 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, 8/10 @ 1:00 p.m.

Description:
Invisibility tops the superpower list . . . but what is lost when we’re not seen? From a writer fearing his own erasure to a young man attempting to hide his transgender self in a monastery, it’s two true stories by two Minnesota-based writers in one can’t-see show.

Their stories—which are quite different, on the surface—are intertwined in one unified performance.

Michael Merriam fears that his loss of sight will make him invisible to those around him. “It all started with the fliers,” he says, describing the people passing out fliers advertising shows, political candidates, or grass-roots causes that begin to scurry past him when they see his cane.

Christy Marie Kent tries to become invisible by entering a monastery, thinking that hiding from women will cure her from wanting to become a woman. When this fails, she gives in and transitions to womanhood. “My physical transformation begins with this, hormone pills created from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant mares. On the bright side, the sweet candy coating almost disguises the taste of horse pee.”

Explore with them the depths of the human spirit. Discover the ability to make the best possible lives for themselves—for ourselves.

Isn’t this what we all want?

http://www.fringefestival.org/2014/show/?id=2786

But wait, there's more! I am also taking part in The Speculations Reading Series this Saturday, August 2nd at DramHaven Books, 2301 38th St E, Minneapolis. Each Speculations Reading runs from 6:30-7:45p.m., including a post-reading reception with free soda pop and cookies.

I will be reading from my newest novel Dark Waters, and probably something in support of my short store collection Whispers in Space. We will have books for sale, things to give away, and a drawing for a door prize!
mmerriam: (Blind)
This is everyone's reminder that the Minnesota Fringe Festival production I am taking part in opens this Thursday, July 31st with 5 performances at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage -711 West Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405. Tickets are $12 and you need a Fringe Festival button, available at the venue for $4

Showtimes are:
Thursday, 7/31 @ 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/2 @ 10:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/6 @ 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/9 @ 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, 8/10 @ 1:00 p.m.

Invisibility tops the superpower list . . . but what is lost when we’re not seen? From a writer fearing his own erasure to a young man attempting to hide his transgender self in a monastery, it’s two true stories by two Minnesota-based writers in one can’t-see show.

Their stories—which are quite different, on the surface—are intertwined in one unified performance.

Michael Merriam fears that his loss of sight will make him invisible to those around him. “It all started with the fliers,” he says, describing the people passing out fliers advertising shows, political candidates, or grass-roots causes that begin to scurry past him when they see his cane.

Christy Marie Kent tries to become invisible by entering a monastery, thinking that hiding from women will cure her from wanting to become a woman. When this fails, she gives in and transitions to womanhood. “My physical transformation begins with this, hormone pills created from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant mares. On the bright side, the sweet candy coating almost disguises the taste of horse pee.”

Explore with them the depths of the human spirit. Discover the ability to make the best possible lives for themselves—for ourselves.

Isn’t this what we all want?
http://www.fringefestival.org/2014/show/?id=2786
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
I've been putting together my part of the "Invisible People" fringe show and thinking about my blindness and how it impacts my life.

Sometimes people will ask me if miss driving. My knee-jerk response is "Yes," but what I really miss is the independence, which is what they are really asking me about anyway. But the driving? Well…

It occurs to me that I could write a one-man storytelling show about Michael and his complicated and frankly unsafe relationship with cars as a younger man. Seriously.

Don't believe me? I'll post little quick snippets on Facebook and Twitter, just teasers, with the hashtag #carstories over the next couple of days.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
So 4th Street Fantasy Con. That's a thing that happened this past weekend.

I had a really good convention, in general. I didn't make it to all the panels (panel fatigue hit late on Saturday), but the ones I attended were special. I am sad that I missed the "Advice From New Writers" panel on Sunday morning. I had been on that same panel some years ago and was keen to hear what today's new writers had to say, but we were out late Saturday, and sleep was thing that we needed, desperately needed. I think my two favorite panels where "The Influence of Anxiety" and "The Revision Process" (which was our "But That's A Different Panel" winner).

As a panelist, I wasn't at my best this year. I was too slow witted and had trouble sometimes following the various lines of high-level, rapid fire conversation. I attribute part of this to being low level sick all weekend (allergies and migraines) and my meds slowing me down, but I admit that sometimes 4th Street Panels and audience members leave me in the dust with their academic gymnastics and brilliant, deep questions and thoughts. I felt like I handled myself better during the after-panel and dinner discussions, where I had more time to marshal my thoughts and give them coherent form.

I was talking about this with a couple of other writers on Saturday night and we came to the conclusion that there needs to be a panel that is something like "Imposter Syndrome: 4th Street Edition" next year. 4th Street always makes me feel like I'm playing way out of my league and weight-class, but at the same time I always feel like I leave the convention with my game and abilities lifted and improved just a little.

That aside, it was a wonderful convention and gave me a change to reconnect with folks I only see at this convention. One of my favorite things about 4th Street is the ongoing conversation and the chance to have that conversation with friends old and new very June. I look forward to being part of the 4th Street Fantasy Conversation for many years to come.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.

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