Writing Updates: Nov. 19, 2013

Welcome to the new format for my published works! If you’ve been following me for a while, say goodbye to the update drought. And if you’re new, hello! I’m Jake Johnson, writer and editor. I’ve been writing for 5 years and I’m trying to jumpstart a career as a writer in every medium. For the moment, though, I mostly create short fiction and essays.

I now have a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/freelancejake. My Twitter is http://www.twitter.com/freelancejake. My Tumblr is http://www.tumblr.com/freelancejake. I have some updates to make to my story-lists in the next couple of weeks, and some projects of mine are coming to a close.

My 15,000-word epic blog-story Intersect (http://intersectstory.tumblr.com/) came to a close some time ago. It was an attempt at combining the multi-character structure of Cloud Atlas with Lovecraftian horror, but I think it got too out-of-control by the end. However, it does represent the longest continuous story I’ve ever written.

Also, a year of my editing work (and of a LOT of writers sending me great stories) has been republished in Jake’s Monthly: Recollection. You can grab it on print-on-demand for $12 at https://www.createspace.com/4392065.

And so far this November:

-I finished my project Wartime Stories (http://www.tumblr.com/wartime-stories), a blog featuring a drabble-story for every entry in the dark time-travel dictionary-novel Faction Paradox: The Book of the War. That’s 254 stories total, and 105 this month. Faction Paradox is the best example of time travel fiction I’ve ever seen, and revolves around “the War in Heaven”, a conflict across time and space so fundamental that your own past can be a casualty and there might not be a universe left standing by the end.

-I rediscovered eight older stories and one essay that I haven’t published yet. They involve lots of self-referential fun, a wasteland magician, and the definitive 12-step guide to escaping our reality.

-I’ve written seven new, unpublished stories, including a window into a science-fiction version of the War of the Roses, and a detailed guide entitled “How to Trespass in My Dorm Room”.

New Stories (Black Hole Bungee Jump, Burning Joy, How to Trespass in My Dorm Room, Near the Front Lines, Tropeic Thunder, Trundling Death, Soaring Stalling)
Word Count: 1,875

Rediscovered, Unpublished Stories (On Seeking Beauty, Escapism, How Jake Amassed an Army, How to Get to Your Fictional Universe of Choice, It’s Something, Lifetime Storm, Three of Spades, Universe Building, Story Without a Climax)
Word Count: 3,330

Faction Paradox Drabbles (Order of the Weal, Order of the White Peacock, Ordifica, Ottoman Purges, Pai’ngya, Parablox, Paradox, Paradox Anxiety, Peyote Dream Runners, Piltdown Mob, Pinocchio, Planetesimals, Poenari Relic, Posthumanity, Praxis, Presidency, “Princess of Parallelograms”, “Probability” Doctrine, Production Hell, Protocols of Great Houses, Quintessence, Rasputin, Reboots, Recruitment, Red Burial, Redemption Cult, Regen-inf, Remembrance Tanks, Remonstration Bureau, Remote, Removal of Members, Ritual, Ruling Houses, Rump Parliament, Sacrifice, Sand and Snow Ammunition, Scarratt, Secret Architects, Severance, Sex, Shadow-Masks, Shelley Cabal, Shifts, Siloportem, Simia-KK98, Society of St. George, Sombras Que Corta, Sons of Tepes, Space, Speke, Spiral Politic, Stacks, Star Chamber, Stendec, Tenskwatawa, Thessalia, Thirteen-Day Republic, Thousand-Year Battles, “Through the Eye of Eternity”, Time-Thickening, Time-Travel: Biodata Principle, Time-Travel: Posthuman, Timebeast Assault, Timeships, Timon, Tirgoviste, Tobin, Tower Hill, Tracolix, Ulterior Worlds, Umbaste, Unkindnesses, Uptime Gate, Utterlost, Vaccinations (Temporal), Valentine’s Day, Vandemeer, Venue Accords, Verrifant, Viewers and Listeners Protocols, Vlad III, Voodoo Charter, Walking Dead, Wallachia, War King, War Predictions, War Predictions: Chatelaine Thessalia, War Predictions: The Rivera Manuscript, Waves of the House Military, Weaponstores, Westminster, Winter Palace, Witch-Blood, Women, Worldofme, Wovoka, Xenoprediction, Xianthellipse, Yeh, “You” Diversions, Younger World Story, Yssgaroth, Zero Time, Zo la Domini)
Word Count: 11,726

Total Works: 121
Total Word Count: 16,931

New Project and Milestone Reached

I’ve started a (somewhat) Lovecraftian horror/magic realism/thriller story entitled Intersect, which is available on Tumblr here. It follows a number of characters and will update daily at noon EST. I hope you enjoy it.

I’ve also recently reached my 100th acceptance. It’s amazing to be here, but this is only the first step on this journey, and I look forward to the next.

Five Updates

So, I can now announce several new developments in my authorial career.

First, Outside Life, a story which The Doctor Who Project and I have been trying to make work for about a year, has been dropped. There were just some fundamental flaws in it which it took me a year to recognize. I hope that means I’m improving.

Second, I’m now a Fear Mythos writer. I previously mentioned the Fear Mythos in this post, and in the intervening time I’ve joined its ranks under the title of JJJ. I’ve got a wiki page and everything.

14 of my stories are now on its creepypasta blog: Faces, Strange and Secret. The Accepted/Published Stories tab contains links to all of them, as does my aforementioned shiny wiki page. (Fame: when someone else writes a wiki entry on you.) 16 more creepypasta of mine will appear in the upcoming Fear Mythos Anthology, the release date of which is TBA. With them, my list of accepted works now contains 99 stories. Neat-o.

I’ve also written two blogpasta, short blogs devoted to the Mythos. My first, 12 Letters, is an attempt to turn the Mythos on its head; it’s set in an alternate universe where nearly all of the titular Eldritch Abomination Fears are dead or dying, and nothing is certain. It’s also the first on the wiki’s list of blogs, by nature of starting with a 1.

The second, Pursuing Penelope, is my take on the straightforward and typical blog, about a man searching for a lost loved one and attracting the attention of the Fears. I think it’s still a good blog, and worth reading, especially since it takes about ten minutes to do so.

Third, my Modern Lovecraft anthology is in its final stretch, although I’m contemplating how I’m going to help the Colors anthology, which is only a quarter full.

Fourth, I now have a functioning PayPal account. Now I’m just a lifetime of submissions away from being rich!

Fifth, my flash, The Galaxy in His Pocket, is now published in the ezine Isotropic Fiction Magazine 06. They included a nice note about me on their website, which says:

‘Isotropic Fiction is honored to publish “The Galaxy in His Pocket” by Jake Johnson in IF06. A minatory piece of flash fiction, the story hints at a successful future for a writer at the beginning of his career.’

I also enjoy that they made a monochrome image of my face. It really brings out the fedora. And the cheekbones.

To Lawrence Miles

“At the end of the day I do want to be popular, at the end of the day I’d like people to like what I’ve written and I’d like them to like me for writing it. At the end of the day I just want a big hug, like everyone else.”

Greetings! I’m Jake Johnson, a seventeen-year-old author and editor living in West Virginia. Assuming you read this, I’d like to say that I’ve really enjoyed your work for about a year now, that you are my favorite author, and I wish I were a handsomely-paid super-professional editor so I could pull a BBV, open up a fully operational publishing house and start commissioning you for… something.

Despite a feeling of “Don’t meet your idols.” trepidation, I’ve assembled, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, a short and non-comprehensive list of things I appreciate which bear some relation to you.

So, thanks for:
1. Sphinxes. A rather quirky friend of mine called them adorable and wants one as a pet.

2. Rock-paper-scissors to save reality.

3. The ending to Dead Romance.

4. The whole universes-in-bottles idea.

5. Dead Romance as a whole, really.

6. Taking the piss out of Doctor Who writers, though I love them so.

7. Not being particularly bothered by people taking the piss out of you.

8. Toy Story, for taking the first steps in building up such a great mythos.

9. Grass, just for its opening pages.

10. The introduction to Dead Romance (does that count as part of the whole?)- “So now I’m going to leave you in the hands of someone else entirely. Someone younger and thinner, who never wore a beard and who thinks he’s a girl.”

11. The Cosmology of the Spiral Politic, the best primer to a fictional universe I’ve read and bursting with interesting ideas.

12. The Unkindnesses. A lot of it’s just the voice-acting for me (Future. Faction wants the future. Little cousin wants the future, yeeeees?), but they’re still such great characters.

13. Godfather Morlock. It would probably be easier to list most of your characters, really.

14. Cousin Justine, in the Protocols. True History’s Justine was a fine character, and hardened, but she just didn’t feel right next to the English rose who first escaped the Empire.

15. While we’re on that note, the Eleven-Day Empire.

16. Alien Bodies. (I have yet to read it, so I’m afraid I can’t make the obligatory “It was better than Interference” comment, but I’ve listened to an in-depth synopsis at the Doctor Who Book Club Podcast, so I know a little on it.)

17. Interference, though I also have yet to read it. These things are rather expensive. Also, to save space, Down and Christmas, which I also don’t have.

18. Compassion (Mary Culver). I never liked the Compassion I saw in the EDAs (though I haven’t read Interference so I don’t know how she was portrayed there). She usually lacked personality and just seemed like a violent and overly serious foil to Fitz. But Mary Culver was interesting. Toy Story’s Compassion (if it is her) is interesting. Faction Paradox’s Compassion as a whole is interesting. And I’m still on Of the City of the Saved, and I’m not supposed to know about her being involved yet, so shh.

19. Generally criticizing the new series. I think it’s just the hipster in my blood talking, because I do really enjoy a lot of the new series, but the Doctor having a wife and a mother in law, a Weeping Angel chasing down the Olympic torch-bearer, an obligatory pregnancy and later divorce, another companion who dies in their first appearance… The more fans this show gets, the lamer it seems to become. The Eleventh Hour was the best Matt Smith episode, hands down, because there was still so much potential. It’s like a miniature Series 1, really. Then again, I praise the TV Movie as the greatest film of all time, so what do I know?

20. Introducing me to Bagpuss. That was a fun couple of hours on YouTube.

21. Lady Lolita, the greatest villain ever to walk the ends of my mind. “Well, you did have the nerve. Pity I’m indestructible, really.” What a perfect antagonist to a girl with access to time travel and all known weapons. Whatever happened to that child, I wonder…

22. The Judgment of Sutekh in general.

23. Lord Geb. I only really liked him after his death, though. Poor guy.

24. The most entertaining interviews I’ve ever read.

25. Twitter accounts which, when not referencing things beyond the scope of my worldview, I find utterly hilarious.

26. The Man with the Rosette. Now there’s something the EDAs should’ve run with.

27. Sabbath. Adventuress wasn’t really my cup of tea, but Sabbath is a great character, and I enjoyed both the EDA’s version and the Spiral Politic’s version.

28. This Town Will Never Let Us Go, a masterpiece which ties with Snow Crash and OH GOD THE RAPTURE IS BURNING for my favorite novel.

29. Judging from a Post-It in the front of my copy, 0:14, 0:16, 0:32-6, 1:12, 1:13, 1:23, 1:54, 1:56, 2:00, 2:23, 2:56, 2:57, 3:04, 3:17, 3:27, 5:00, 5:01, 5:20, 5:37, 5:58, and 5:59 especially.

30. Not lazily killing off characters to simplify a story.

31. Not avoiding conflict once it’s been mentioned. After General Kine threatens Lolita, he shoots. After she intends to be fabulous and eat the empire, she does both. Even after the Red Mercury seems to have been taken care of, KABOOM. That’s not something often seen in fiction.

32. Sentences like “[The presence of eyes on certain pepperoni stick wrappers] makes her imagine animals harvested specially for their eyes, perhaps looking like the many-eyed things from the Book of Revelations, which once again make her wonder what the fourth of the animals is and the Muppets are singing it’s very distracting.”

33. Inangela Marrero, Valentine, Tiffany- and Horror most of all.

34. Faction Paradox, obviously. And the second Beasthouse, whenever I take the time to read it.

And, 35. Inspiring me to become a better author. You’ve worked for hours to get perfect paragraphs and for much of your career you’ve aimed as high as possible. I hope sailing by isn’t going to cut it any more for me, either.

So there. Forty more years! (And Happy Thanksgiving.)

-Jake

And So Jake’s Monthly Ends

I’ve published my final collection in Jake’s Monthly. This is a milestone, and a bit of a sad one.

I never spared much thought for the ending, especially not when I started it and didn’t know if I could get it off the ground, but now it’s been 14 months and it’s sad to see it go.

But there’s always more stuff to take care of. Taking too much time to look back is a luxury not afforded to the artist. Actually, it probably is, but that sounded far too poetic to pass up.

Anyway, you can find it published here and snag a copy for free- sorry, “choose your own price”: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/243335

The Joy of Publication

My latest anthology’s published. It’s a collection of Slipstream fiction. You can get it for free or whatever price you’d like at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/232811

A year ago, in August, I was sitting around pondering on how to publish a book. I figured that it would make me rich or at least give me something to point to on a resume. But long works aren’t my strong suit- I do flash. The watchwords of my writing style are “short”, “fast”, and “to-the-point”.

So I realized that I could become an editor. I could give other people publishing credits and traffic in exchange for the ability to point to a story collection and say “I made that.” Everyone wins!

So, I set out to make a science fiction anthology, drawing from everyone I could ask for. Now, I’m on number 11, and the final anthology’s coming soon. (To check out my other ten, look in the “Current/Finished Projects” tab).

Throughout this time, I didn’t consider this a big deal, but then I started publishing again, and I realized that what I was doing wasn’t easy by any stretch of the word. I’m a part of the publishing industry now. For the moment, a tiny part, but I’ve spent a year as a professional editor, and the better part of that year being a 16-year-old who no publishing house would probably take seriously.

I’m moving up in the world. Once this project’s done with, I’ll have to find another way to progress, all up to the fateful day where I go in for a job interview and all of the work I’m doing now either pays off or backfires.

It’s so great to set the climaxes of your own life story.

A History of Punks

So this all really began with a guy named Hugo Gernsback. He made The Gernsback Continuum, out of which came science fiction as we know it today.

Then came William Gibson, who created the Gibson continuum when he penned two different novels. The first, Neuromancer, was the first book to win all three major SF awards, and was also the first Cyberpunk novel. The second, The Difference Engine, was the birthplace of Steampunk. Since those books were published, Punk fiction has become a major niche market. Why?

Punk fiction is a catch-all for a lot of different stories with different levels of technology. Sometimes it refers to a specific type of feeling or effect in a story, but generally it’s based on setting. What makes Punk so inviting is that large chunks of it don’t exist yet. A couple hundred words and you can birth a genre. I’ve borne witness to the birth of Frankenpunk, and myself have invented zipperpunk and barcodepunk. But no one’s heard of these things. They still spread, though, slowly. One day, perhaps they’ll have content behind them.

Probably not. But that burst of new fiction, that momentary creation of a genre like the birth of a star, is absolutely thrilling.

A Gooey Love Letter to the Fear Mythos

You know how some people write awesome books and they’re described as “love letters to [genre/author/story]”? This is like those, except I’m not able to write something that long for this.

(Well, actually, I have a vague idea of doing that, but I don’t think I’d be able to pull it off.)

The Fear Mythos. Oh, the Fear Mythos. It makes my muse sing. But what is it? Well, the Fear Mythos is basically a pool of amazing horror monsters and a community of people who use them. There are no real rules to using them; blogs or stories can take place in the same universe or they can be independent of everything else.

Ah, the simple joy of the Slender Man. The ravenous, too-wide grin of the Smiling Man. The mental shout of “CONVOCATION” whenever I see multiple birds. The whisper of “Judgment” whenever I see an eye.

I seek out Fear-related symbols everywhere I go. I try to spread the Mythos to anyone willing to listen. And one day, near or far, when I figure out a story worth telling, I’m going to join this mythos and be a proud author for it.

Not that I haven’t tried to do that before.

At one point I tried to create a Fearblog by daisy-chaining it onto Just Another Chess Piece, a rather schlocky but fun blog about a man who got a knife from a man claiming to be God who goes out and hunts down the Fears. My Fearblog was based on the concept in the mythos that reality is changed by our thoughts, with the hope being that a new Fear could be created with enough belief which would just destroy all of the others and then self-destruct. I didn’t understand that the stories didn’t have to link together, and so I immediately became anxious, got cold feet and deleted it.

At another time, I approached them rather poorly and offered my services as an editor to help create some collection of Fear fiction. That offer has been open since I made it and will remain open for the foreseeable future, but I was respectfully declined in the same way that you’d decline a homeless man who walked into your home and shouted that he’d help you build a website for your dog.

Still, I hope that I’ll be able to write some Fearblogs in the future, and that I’ll really become a part of that community and whatever projects it becomes involved with. Until then, time to make the ink-paper doughnuts.

Why Editors “Are Sorry But Aren’t Looking for the Qualities Found in Your Work at This Time”

I’ve been on both sides of the screen as far as this is concerned, so let me portray the situation:

AUTHOR: I’ve sent a story, and it got rejected. But there isn’t a reason for it! They don’t give me anything to improve. What do they mean, it’s just not what they were looking for? What are they looking for?! Are they just so douchey that they refuse to say anything?!

EDITOR: I’ve received a story and had to reject it, because it just wasn’t good enough. The characters fell a bit flat, there were too many cliches, and the ending is a deus ex machina. But if I told them that, they wouldn’t want to submit to me again, and they certainly wouldn’t spread the word about this publication. I can hardly accept this, but if I’m not gentle bad things could happen.

Here’s the thing, though: both sides are wrong. Any good editor cares. And any good writer wants to improve. The issue comes with what happens when neither of them realize this. If you’re ever in that situation, or see anyone who is, let them know. Maybe one day we can outgrow this.

HELLO WORLD

A story is a sequence of events transmitted through a medium. Fiction is a specific type of stories- ones which relay events which have not actually happened. Well, except for the occasional “really freakin’ weird”-level coincidences like The Wreck of the Titan.

A thought experiment, according to everyone’s favorite free encyclopedia, “considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences. Given the structure of the experiment, it may or may not be possible to actually perform it, and, in the case that it is possible for it to be performed, there need be no intention of any kind to actually perform the experiment in question.”

All (fictional) stories are thought experiments. This is what makes them worthwhile. The stories with the most merit are the ones which answer the biggest questions, the pinnacles of fiction the groundbreaking and the new rather than the classics which form the foundation.

I’m Jake J. Johnson, and there are ten things you should know about me.

1. I’m seventeen.
2. I’m an avid reader, viewer, listener and gamer.
3. I’m a writer. I produce flash fiction and short stories. A novella here, an essay there, and even the occasional poem (Ick!).
4. I’m an editor.
5. I’m a publisher. I work on tons of projects, employing myself to get a running start in a shrinking industry.
6. I’m a secular humanist.
7. I’m a hardcore progressivist.
8. I’m an introvert.
9. I’m obsessive. Some stories I love to death, and I want to share them with anyone willing to listen.
10. I’m a high-scoring student who’d rather enjoy having a nemesis but who doesn’t have a killer notebook (and sometimes I reference things that no one present understands for my own benefit).

I’ve moved to WordPress because my old blog was poorly done. It grew heavy and bloated, and I left it in a state of disuse. This one is organized so that, even if I never update it, my works are easily accessible to anyone who stumbles across it.

So, welcome.