mmerriam: (Default)

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

Here is the video of my performance at the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Word Brew event at Acadia Cafe on November 20th, 2016. Enjoy!

 

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)
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.

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Ghosts of the Places We Live

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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.

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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
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.
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
Another not very good week for working on the novel. I need to figure out some kind of writing schedule, but my personal life seems to be in such a constant state of changing gears that I can't find stability in the chaos to work. I'm too tired after work. Weekends are always packed. My two days off seem to evaporate in housework and daily minutia.

It's starting to drive me a little nuts. I get a little nuts when I'm not writing. Maybe more than a little nuts.

Went to the Pratt Community Ice Cream Social last Friday. I did not climb the Witch's Tower water tower, instead hanging out in the park while the rest of my crew climbed up to the observation deck. I found myself having interesting conversation with charming strangers who would come and share the picnic table I was at. Saturday we the first production meeting for the Minnesota Fringe Festival show I'm going to be in this year. We are rolling along, and I expect we shall have a read-through of our stories pretty soon.

1. 1700 words written.
2. Went back and added to a couple of scenes in the 1979 section.
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
Another week of poor writing metrics. I am hopeful things are turning around now that I've figured out why I had stalled. I didn't get as much writing done as I would have liked over the holiday weekend, but sometimes that's just the way life goes.

1. Wrote about 1700 words.
2. Untangled a plot knot.
3. Made a realization about one of my characters.
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
So. Minnesota Fringe Festival. That's a thing I'm going to be in again this year. The "Invisible People" show I'm part of came in off the waitlist. "Invisible People" as in people other people like to pretend don't exist. Like, you know, gimps like me. I am thrilled and a little scared.

My acoustic bass has picked up a nasty buzzing noise. I'm going to have to get it looked at by a real luthier, when I have some spare cash. In the meantime, I'll get the electric bass back out of the closet.

Finished reading the entire Randell Garrett "Lord Darcy" set of stories and novel. Enjoyed it a lot. Also went to see Walking Shadow Theatre Company's adaptation of The Three Muskateers. It was great rollicking fun and still has a week left in the run. Go see it!

Not much writing this week. A little over 1000 words. I can remember a time when I wrote that many words in a day. Still, forward movement is forward movement.

1. Wrote 1100 words
2. Made a 1920s music playlist
3. Worked on the notes I collected from the Oney Facebook Community.
4. Outlined most of the rest of the 1929 section.
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
I managed to get some pretty good writing done this week, most of it in coffee shops while waiting to be at other events. I spent a lot of my week dealing with my previous post about Convergence, but at least the conversation about the convention was civil. I also had the pleasure to moderate the panel "Adapting Fiction for Stage," for the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers.

1. Wrote about 2200 words on the novel
2. Did some research in books and online
3. Posted a question to the Oney Facebook Community, got several good answers
4. Realized I may have a plot problem. Started working to resolve it.
5. Reread everything I've written so far.
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
This week was a strange and odd week for writing. I didn't get as much done as I thought I might, since I decided to go on the spring camping trip a friend of mine organizes. It was the first camping trip I'd been on in about 10 years, and I had a really good time. I even wrote at the camp! Yeah, things are moving slowly, perhaps too slowly, but I don't care. The project will get done when the project gets done, and I refuse to hurry the process.

It's not like I'm under contract and have a looming deadline, after all. If I want to take an entire year to write the first draft, that's my business. I have other project in the pipeline, things in the beta-process-heading-to-writers-group-soon-I-hope stuff. Plus, I'm about to take on another anthology project for MinnSpec.

1. Wrote about 1750 words.
2. Made about 800 words worth of notes and outlining.
3. Thought reallyreally hard about…stuff…
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
While the word count this week isn’t large, I still made strong forward progress with all the outlining and brainstorming and research. That I began the writing in the 1929 section at all is a win for me this week, since I am working with an almost entirely new cast of characters.

Most of this week’s new words were written at Butter Bakery and Café while hanging out with of writers. The hardest thing has been finding the right voice for this section. At the moment it seems to want to be written in a remote, almost dream-like style of prose. Whatever works.

I may not have anything to post next week, unfortunately. Life is being life and sometimes you have to deal with those life distractions and obligations even when all you want to do is write.

1. Wrote 1,015 new words
2. Researched clothing and living in late 1920s rural Oklahoma
3. Made more outline notes for the 1929 section
4. Studied more of my Oney: A Community History book
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
I had a pretty good Minicon this year. The two panels I was on were well attended and had both excellent panelists and thoughtful audiences. I played music three nights in a row, which was a little tough on my hands, but worth it. My reading was reasonably well attended and I sold a few books and signed a few more.

10277096_10152328791850138_7346936324522975136_n
*Photo courtesy of Baron Dave Romm

The three panels I attended were pretty good as well, though I had to sit on my hands and bit my tongue a couple times at the first one. I only made it to one reading this year, Cat Valente's, but I loved her story and reading-style. Made friends with some visiting musicians and got to help take them out for Malaysian food. On Saturday, three different people gave me three different types of cupcakes. It is a mystery as to why this happened, but I am not complaining. I mean, cupcakes!

But mostly what made it a great convention was hanging out with people--too many to name here--but Minicon felt more like a family reunion this year, maybe because I learned how to make my own fun at conventions. I am planning to return next year for the 50th Minicon celebration.

I didn't hardly work at all at the convention, which says something about how engaged I was, but I did work a little and even a little more yesterday.

1. Completed the first draft of the 1979 section
2. Added small scenes to the 1979 section to seed other sections
3. Made notes and started outlining 1929 section
4. Search for and added 1920s music to playlist.

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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
First Draft of the 1979 Section is complete.

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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
I am very nearly done with the 1979 section of the novel and in fact I am working on the final first draft scene of that section. I am having some trouble finishing it up, mostly because my brain doesn't want to write the ending I need to write. Part of me wants to treat this as the end of the piece, but in reality it is the part where the situation falls apart and sets up the finale in the 1999 section.

Working. Writing. Moving Forward.

1. Wrote about 3000 words this week.
2. Made some serious outline notes for the 1929 section.
3. Studied more Oney history.
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
More forward momentum. I'm still on track to be done with the 1979 section before April is over. Personal life has caused a bit of a slow-down and will continue to do so, but I am hopeful things have stabilized.

In the story itself, things are about to fall apart for the protagonists. Once I'm done here I plan to step back and write the 1929 section, which should be the shortest. I'm hoping the 1999 section will go quickly, since I will have it pretty much outlined to the finish of the first draft and have some developmental notes about what needs to be added for some character development.

1. About 2250 words written
2. More notes for the 1929 and 1999 sections
3. 1979 section outline complete. I just need to write it
4. Worked on some maps of Oney in 1979 based on my memory
5. Stated working on a map of Oney in 1929 based on a 1915 map and information in the community history book.
6. Drop a couple of songs from the playlist. Added a couple to the playlist.

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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
I had a much better writing week. With no conventions, normal work hours, and feeling physically better, I was able to get back on track. I spent a small chunk of Saturday night and Sunday into the mid-afternoon writing, which was nice. Got more work done Monday night than usual. I will probably be done with the first draft of the 1979 timeline before the month of April is out. My teenaged protagonists are all three hip-deep in the mystery and striving with various degrees of success and failure, but lack the understanding, experience and power of their opponents.

1. About 3500 new words
2. Committed research online
3. Messed with the timelines, change 1936 to 1929 and 2000 back to 1999.
4. Started outlining the 1929 section
5. Read more on my Oney Community History Book

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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
I almost didn't post this update because, well, I wrote almost nothing last week (330 words). It was kind of a perfect storm disaster of post-Paganicon exhaustion, dealing with being ill while making up my hours at work, and trying to catch up on everything else in life I have fallen behind on. Still, I had hopeful that this week will be better.

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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Dice)
Poor progress this week. I was sick after MarsCon and then had to prepare for Paganicon this previous weekend. I tried to work at the convention, but was too run-down to focus. I had hoped to get some work in yesterday and today, since I had off work, but page proofs for Dark Waters arrived and I'm still low-grade sick, so no writing in the last two days. I go back to work tomorrow, work on Saturday, have a million errands and other things to accomplice after work each night and a full weekend, more Dark Waters proofs and a dedication to figure out, MinnSpec stuff that needs my attention, and…

I'm not sure how much writing will get done this week either.

I'm…disappointed.

And now I just want to curl up in bed with a book and hot tea.

1. A few hundred new words.
2. Made a major timeline decision.
3. Studied my Oney: A Community History 1901 to 1980 book.

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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Oney)
Things have slowed down considerably, to the point of it becoming frustrating for me. It isn't that I'm stuck, or having problems with the story, or am suffering from a lack of enthusiasm: it's that all my time over the last week was sucked up and all my time appears to be sucked up for the next couple of weeks as well, as if I'm living under the pounding brushes of a galactic Hoover.

This sucks

Meager progress is still progress.
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Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Death)
Progress has slowed this week, but there is still progress.

1. Finished up a couple of small scenes.

2. Spent a lot of time working on plugging holes in the story.

3. Engaged in thematic noodling.

4. I posted this picture last week of the Lost Oney School, circa 1932.
School 01

5. This week I found this picture of the Lost Oney School while searching Oklahoma ghost town webpages.Oney School 02

6. What the site of the Lost Oney School looked like this when I visited in 2011. That is the inside hallway I am standing on. That white stuff? Floor tile. It crackled like the dry bones of the dead school when I stepped on it.Oney School Ruins 18

7. This all made me sad.

Looking at my calender, I seem to have 124,683 pounds of stuff to cram into an 8 pound bag, so progress might be non-existent over the course of the next week. We shall see.

Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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

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