I’m happy to announce a little project that I’m launching. I decided to have it be it’s own site, since it’s somewhat different than what’s going on with this one. But hop on over there and check it out!
I’ve been looking for something that gives me a bit of an outlet when I just feel like writing something. I don’t expect it to be much more than that, a nice creative outlet that can be whatever the mood is that day. What I’m doing is going out looking at stock photos, of which there are many, including the bizarre, the funny, the tragic, and the just plain confusing. Each day I’ll pick one and create a character for it.
At this point, those are the only rules and expectations. We’re just going to have to see where the wind takes this one. The only thing I know is that there will be a new one every day, long or short, happy or sad.
Check it out!
It may be obvious that I have been neglecting my writing lately. For a while I tried to pretend that it wasn’t true, that I was just slowing down a little. But the fact that I haven’t written anything substantial in more than 6 months can’t really be argued with. There are a lot of reasons (excuses?), but the main on is that I’ve been busy. Most of my free time has been used up with another project for the better part of a year, and I’m determined to make sure that writing doesn’t feel like an obligation. I like writing. I want to write more. But any time that I would sit down to write simply because I hadn’t for a while, I took the cue to do something else. More on that later. Right now, I’m going to take a quick look at what’s been distracting me lately. Warning for anyone looking for writing or sci-fi: you won’t find it here today. Many apologies.
Since last spring, I’ve been working with a partner to build a SaaS application, and it’s finally ready for the public. I say “finally” because we had hoped to release it sooner, but we’re extreme sticklers for quality and refused to release anything we weren’t 100% proud of. So, at long last, here is DAVINCHEY.
DAVINCHEY is a very powerful tool built for managing and sharing resources within a team. That sounds vague, and the reason is that it’s extremely customizable. But you could think of it like a reservation system for anything that your team needs to coordinate. In some past jobs I’ve held, these would probably be things like expensive lab equipment, servers, shared computers, or shared licenses. It’s a single place to manage all of those assets, find out who has them at any given time, and reserve them for yourself. It also stores any amount of data about them that you need in a centralized database. It sounds a little dry, but it’s incredibly useful (not to mention valuable).
In addition to that, it has very advanced features for building into other IT systems or automated tests. There is an API that allows any computer to check the reservation schedule, reserve things, query for data, or anything else that a person could do through the app. I’m not going to go into many more details here, because it’s not really what I intend for this site. If you’re interested, I can help answer questions. We’re also offering a free trial to anyone that wants to see what it’s all about. And lastly, I’ll be doing periodic posts on our company site about some of the more interesting uses that this application can provide here.
I just finished a novel recommended to me by a friend, and I’m compelled to add my name to the list of hearty advocates. It’s not terribly common for me be as compelled to finish something as I was with this one, and I can absolutely say that you should go read it now. That book is Lexicon by Max Barry.
This was the first of his novels (five at the time of this writing) that I have read, and from start to finish it was the kind of writing that makes me feel a little foolish for trying to sit down and write things of my own. I reached the end and said to myself, “Damn it. That was good. Why would people want to read this thing I’m working on again?” This kind of experience has the potential to make your own writing pursuits seem silly by comparison, but I’ve learned (or compelled myself to believe) that in fact it should be a very positive experience instead.
Lexicon is, in my opinion of course, very well thought-out. It feels extremely well-plotted, the characters reasonably complex, and the pacing is such that I never felt that I was in a lull. The premise was definitely compelling, and while there were certainly plot points I anticipated, I was never sure that it was intended to be a twist at all. Maybe I was in fact only just keeping up.
The writing itself was just right for the context. Barry has a style that is unstilted and no more complex than it needs to be, but just as compelling as it should be. There were multiple times that, for example, I simply felt the vulnerability of a character, having been drawn into the situation naturally and unwittingly. Perhaps there would be things I would want to see differently if I decided to pick apart each tiny piece in detail – but I see no reason to do so. I enjoyed the read immensely.
And that’s the key point for me, when something like this makes its way through my reading list. I’m so accustomed to combing through my own writing with a magnifying glass that I forget this feeling. Sure, it’s necessary on your own work. It’s your own responsibility to make it as good as it can be. But it’s easy – pardon the slight cliché – to compare your blooper reel to everyone else’s highlights. This novel represents a huge amount of stellar effort, and we get to see the polished product. That says nothing about what your own writing could become itself, only that you recognize what you love and want it to become.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few drawing-boards waiting for me to get back to them.
I’m pleased to report that I have put a collection of short stories on Amazon as a Kindle-only offering, and it’s live right now!
A collection of six short stories of science fiction
It’s important to note that Amazon has a very extensive list of ways to read Kindle books in addition to all of their devices. There is an app for just about every major tablet and phone, as well as PC and Mac applications to read directly on a computer. As electronic distribution systems go, the Kindle network is very impressive, and I’m quite happy with the choice to stay exclusive on Amazon for now.
So check it out!
Continuing in a series on the adventure of self-publishing, it’s time to discuss a bit of strategy. If you are going to follow the “indie” path of publishing (though lately I find the word “indie” to be somewhat overused, and subsequently watered-down), the most important step will be to embrace it. It will be a very different journey than traditional publishing, and quite frankly, that’s good. You chose to publish yourself because you wanted those differences, right? Good.
Before getting into the choices to be made, there’s some background to explore that will put things in context. In doing my proper diligence (as all independent writers must be willing to do), I came across a well-written post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch about some of the key differences between traditional and independent publishing. I won’t try to restate her points in detail, however there are a few key points that stand out to me. I fully agree, as discussed previously, that neither traditional nor independent publishing is downright superior. Each presents its own benefits, and for this particular piece that I’m preparing self-publishing makes the most sense. For me, in particular. That’s the most important part, that I as the writer am happy with the choice. But once that choice is made, it implies a very different strategy. If you try to follow advice for the other side of the camp, you may find yourself with poorer results than you deserve. Continue reading
In a previous post (here), I discussed some of the mental challenges that aspiring writers face, specifically related to attempts to start a professional career. It’s difficult to juggle the desire to make a career of your passion when the act of getting into the public market detracts from what makes the passion so alluring. I think that this is broadly experienced by a lot of writers working for those first few steps of recognition, but the solution may not be as ubiquitous. Take the rest of this post with a spoonful of salt. This is about where I am personally.
Self-publishing is a very interesting topic because it is gaining traction as a legitimate avenue. Traditional publishing has historically played a large role in deciding what was “good enough” to expose to the public on a broad scale. While it necessarily puts a lot of power into the hands of the publishers, it also gave readers that level of confidence that if something made it through the gamut of trials it must have at least some positive qualities. In contrast, there can be a stigma that if something is self-published, then it must not have met those standards. There are more books, stories, and articles than I could possibly read in the short and valuable time that I have available. Why should I waste it on something that couldn’t make the cut? Continue reading
There are many aspirations that this post could be about, but as this is a writing blog I intend to focus on the most pertinent one – that of the ambitous but unsuccessful writer. It’s an especially unique passion fraught with constant battles both external and internal, and the most frustrating part is that none of them feel more than tangentially related to writing. In fact, it’s one reason that I’m beginning to rethink the idea of submitting work regularly, even for the writer who wants that publication. But I’ll get to that.
Of course, there will always be those who read the latest smash hit novel and think, “I could do that!” Those people will tend to be in love with the idea of writing, with the imagined lifestyle of a successful author, but not with the act of creation itself. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If a mother of three, hot off the latest chapter of 50 Shades of Grey, wants to pound out a few thousand words of romance before bed a couple nights a week, there are worse ways for her to spend that time. Even if it’s just to dream big for a little while, it’s more valuable to her than buying a lottery ticket. Continue reading
This is the opening chapter of a novel-length piece that I’m working on. I’m pretty excited about it. I think it’s a really fun story with some interesting surprises. I suppose that this can serve as a bit of a teaser. Like most of my writing, it’s sci fi but the strongest sci fi aspects aren’t necessarily present in this chapter.
Pieces of Mind
By Carl Hinchey
In hindsight as he lay dying fifteen minutes later, James would consider that he should have been more cautious. He was living proof that no one, not even the most noble and decent, could avoid making enemies. James had accepted this as the price of success, but he had never considered that it would cost him his life. Continue reading
Disclaimer: This is a story I wrote very early in my “let’s do this writing thing” plans. I don’t think that it’s my best work, but that’s okay. Some day I may go back and edit it to be a little more coherent, less cliche, and a handful of other things. But sometimes you just need to finish something, whether it turns out really good or really terrible. It’s better to complete it and see where it went and own the fact that sometimes things aren’t at your best. I’m okay with that, because I learn new things every time. Sometimes it’s nice to read back and cringe at things that I find just terrible now, because I get to compare it with other things that seemed to turn out so much better. With that said…
Henry had always assumed that science wasn’t sexy. Indeed, it had taken a very special woman to fall for Henry as he was, this thin, disheveled and absent-minded man. Most of the time it seemed that love was not even on his mind. Most nights he brought his work home with him, sometimes staring at charts and screens and samples well into the morning. But there was always that spark that brought her back. It was the way that his eyes brightened when he came back from a deep thought and seemed to just remember that she was there with him, or the way that her name came off his lips more beautifully than anyone else’s. There were only two things that had ever seemed to hold Henry’s interest longer than a few minutes. His work was one, the other Michelle. And only she understood how rare it could be to occupy the mind of this strange man in the midst of the torrent of thoughts that swirled there.
Tonight he was especially engrossed in the problems he brought back from the lab, but it was different somehow. Of course, disease prevention and treatment was a demanding field. If success gives life to those who might otherwise die, it must follow that delay only steals it back from those who might have lived. Somewhere each night, Henry had to draw the line and close his eyes, of course, but there were always a thousand problems in front of him and a few extra each day can turn into lives saved each year. Michelle had gotten used to falling asleep next to him on the sofa, with Henry’s nails lightly running through her hair as he read over some recent study, then gone again as he scribbled some notes and flicked through some pages. But tonight was different. He wasn’t working through some rigorous formula or puzzling out the cause of some failure from the day. Perhaps it was a remnant of a spat they shared the previous night. Love him though she did, Henry’s distance could be trying at times. It might be as dramatic as a forgotten anniversary or as simple as the way he could walk through the door and sit down at his desk to finish some notes before finding a moment to kiss her hello, but occasionally it boiled over and they fought. It was always plain in his eyes when he knew that he had crossed a line, but the cold war leading up to that moment was never pleasant.
It’s true. I am guilty. Even if my lawyer hadn’t entered a guilty plea for me a few days ago, I’m certain you would be just as convinced of that as you are now. He tells me that what I’m doing now is called “allocution.” Well, I suppose technically that is what I’ll be doing tomorrow, when I read these words in front of the judge. What I’m doing right now is sitting in a cold cell, preparing an allocution statement.
I’m supposed to explain my crimes to you, helping to solidify the fact that I am guilty. Somehow, with my name plastered across every piece of incriminating code, I doubt that this will be a challenge. This is the part my lawyer cares about, the part that will close up the case neatly for all of us, but he let slip that I have another opportunity here. I can tell you my story. I can hope to show you that with your leniency, you will keep from depriving your community of a good man. I can explain to you that, yes, I am guilty, but I am not a criminal. I am only a good man caught up in a bad situation, a good father that is beneficial to the community.
I’ve tried to remember the first night many times lately. At the time it seemed completely unimportant. I write a lot of code during the days, and I have no idea what made me think that writing more at night would be a good idea. Normally I can’t even stand the sight of my computer outside of work. All I can say is that when I get excited about an idea I have to get it out and into the world as soon as I possibly can.