Diary

The Asshole’s Guide to Editing: #1

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For HashtagThrowbackThursday, I thought it might be fun to go through my first, unpublished, piece-of-shit fantasy novel one chunk at a time. I wrote it when I was 19, but that’s really no excuse. I’ve since improved, thank God, with published books like this one and this one. 

At first I just wanted to share my editing-snark with someone who isn’t me, but I realized that this ungodly manuscript might actually be of some use as a teaching tool. Better than sitting in a drawer, I suppose.

Let’s dive right in, folks. The red ink represents my current thoughts and feelings, and the black ink represents a bad novel.

If this is remotely interesting to you, I might make this a weekly feature. Let’s do dis.

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Categories: Diary, The Asshole's Guide to Editing, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Distress Call: Help Needed

AIWATS Signal Coverttention! I am trying to win a contest to get a new book published and supported by Nerdist. The top five people who get the most pre-orders will get published, and the winner gets Nerdist support. If the book doesn’t make it, you won’t be charged the pre-order amount. So it’ll only cost you if the book actually wins, and then hey, you get a book out of it.

Pretty please click here to check the book out, check out the premise, cover, and first chapter, and if it sounds like something you wanna read (or you just like my furry face), please give it a pre-order.

In advance, you rock, and your whole face is aesthetically pleasing.

Also I’ll try to spam less and deliver actual blogposts. Thanks again!

Categories: Books, Diary, News, publishing | Leave a comment

Dear Robin Williams

I’m going to tell you something right now, and it’s going to seem heartless: I don’t get emotionally affected by celebrity deaths. At best my body processes a kind of distant mournful shock, the chemistry of which that, if studied, would probably equate to hearing the news that a show I kind of liked has been cancelled.

When Philip Seymour Hoffman passed, I thought, “Oh that sucks. He’s so talented,” but the fact is, I didn’t know him. I’d never met him, and odds are that I would never have shook hands with him. I’m 29-years-old, and all of my life has left me bewildered when I see someone genuinely torn to pieces when a celebrity they never met dies. Don’t get me wrong – it sucks that they died, and I definitely feel an intellectual empathy, but it never quite reaches my guts.

Just fifteen minutes ago, on the way home from a terrible day of work after my truck had broken down for the third time this month, I heard the news over the radio (that in itself being a surreal and quaint idea) – Robin Williams is dead.

They say it might be a suicide, relating to asphyxiation, but I didn’t hear the rest of it because my guts churned like someone had stuck a broom handle in there and started fucking stirring. I blinked away tears that had appeared so quickly it was as if my eyes had gotten the news before my ears had.

Robin Williams doesn’t die. Robin Williams is the totem of comedy, a manic energizing force of nature with a boyish face and hair like six grizzly bears sewn together. Robin Williams is a genie. Robin Williams is Peter Pan. Peter Pan can’t die. What the fuck is that? Why would that happen? Who would allow that to happen?

As a kind-of-funny little boy who dreamed of being a gut-bustingly funny little boy (still working on that), my two idols were Jim Carrey and Robin Williams. They had more juice than a nuclear power plant operating during a lightning storm on the surface of the sun. They were goofy, funny, witty, and both could throw down and be serious when they needed. To call them my comedy role-models would be underselling it – they were my comedy paragons, my comedy Achilleses, my comedy rock gods with six arms and flaming eyes.

I’ve never felt this way before, but I can’t stop crying. It took me three tries to get out of my car when I got home a few minutes ago. As I was changing out of my work clothes I leaned, shirtless, against my dresser and sunk my face in my elbow and shook. I sobbed the big sobs that make your lungs hurt and plug your nose with snot.

I wanted to write this because I’m a funny guy (who will never be an eighth as funny as Robin Williams), and I’m a guy who’s had some down times that I’m not proud of (though, again, nowhere near the down times Robin is reported as having). But I just wanted to say that just because the darkness finally got you doesn’t mean a damn thing.

You’re my fucking hero, Robin. You always will be. You’ve made me smile and laugh my entire life, and you’ve done that a billion times over to billions more people. Most of the silly human beings on this silly rock in the vast void of space have laughed because of you, and there is no achievement greater, no goal higher, no laudable act that deserves more fucking lauds.

Thank you, Robin. We can never repay what you gave us, but we’ll try to pass a few laughs on in your honor. Cheers, brother.

Heaven just got a whole lot fucking funnier.

Categories: Diary, News | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Copywriter Blues

Fiction writing is great. Sometimes it’s hard work, and sometimes the internet shoots its destract-y tentacles right into your eyegaps, and sometimes a bad review slides down the Google chute and into your testicles, but overall it’s a wonderful experience. Novels, short stories, the occasional screenplay or hilarious sex-related haiku.

Copywriting is . . . less great. It’s essentially lies and flim-flam wearing an evening gown. But they give you money for it, and you can use that money to purchase foodstuffs and roofs and the like.

The following excerpt is every piece of copywriting I’ve ever done, boiled down to one digestible scrap of text. It comes from a place of genuine pain, which is always funny. Enjoy.

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Mondayed

So you ever get, like, Mondayed?

I’m not doing an “Office Space” bit. I’d just like to put that out there.

Ironically, I actually got Mondayed yesterday, which is technically “Sunday Night,” if you’re still on the CLEARLY OBSOLETE Grigorian calendar. Which, I am. At least. Anyway.

I received a pair of shitty news briefs, neither of which I’m at super liberty to talk about in a semi-public, officially, forum-y capacity. Needless to say, they both blew donkey parts. One was personal in nature, and one was business, but they were both on the level of “pounding in nails with my chin.”

So, naturally, being a highly emotional artist type, I stayed in bed until my dog had to pee so bad her eyes were turning yellow. She was jumping on top of me in the bed, sticking her tongue so far into my ear she technically absorbed parts of brain (Kindergarten, mostly, it’s fine), and generally broadcasting a message like “DEAR SWEET PEOPLE-LORD WALK ME OR I WILL HOSE ON YOUR FACE.”

My Monday was bad enough, I did not need to be doggy-peed on. I could maybe handle that on a Thursday, but I would have lost my mind and made a tiny, fluffy white coat out of my dog on that particular Monday.

I managed to get work done and to start solving the problems still-birthed into my lap Sunday night, so it wasn’t a total cry-baby loss. Still, I’m pretty sure we don’t REALLY need Mondays, right?

I mean, if we all agreed on three-day weekends, I think we’d be a much happier nation of people. Two days has never been enough. I mean, think about it. You need one day to get the shit done you couldn’t during the week (mowing, bank, groceries, katana sharpening, Home Depot). And, you need one day to do social stuff you’ve been neglecting (visit the family, drink to excess with your friends, katana practice, social obligations, etc).

However, you ALSO need one day to unwind and actually relax. A “you” day, if you will. Now we cram all three of these things into two days, but that is the most bully of shit.

So, here’s a simple preposition: “at.”

Ha. Sorry. Grammar humor, couldn’t resist.

So, simple proposition: We change Monday to “Funday” (notice how we only have to change two letters – this is economical), make it a day off where you can’t be obligated to do anything, and then we move on with our new FANTASTIC LIVES.

My campaign for President begins 2016. You’re welcome.

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Bloodthirsty Gamer vs. Ignorance: An Open Letter

Update:

On his Twitter, Senator Yee backpedaled so furiously he actually reversed time. When he was back in time, he stepped on a butterfly, which altered the timeline and actually ensured he was still a douchebag. He’s his own time-travel douchebag father!

Said Yee:

“Gamers, I admittedly didn’t use best words to SFchron. Meant video game industry has inherent conflict of interest in the gun violence debate. I have a lot of respect for many gamers. Many are on my staff and in my family—but the industry has profited at the expense of children.”

So, not really an apology. He’s still under the opinion that people directly affected by legislation have no say in said legislation, but he’s just shifted his mouthwords so he’s talking about companies instead of people. He’s still essentially a fascist, but at least he’s a fascist to someone else, right?

So he made a point to distance himself from the shitty things he said about 2/3 of the populace of the US, but not from his still, actually quite stupid, opinion. Considering my letter below was reminding him why calling gamers bloodthirsty lunatics might have poor political and electoral consequences, I’m going to take credit for at least the shift in blame. It’s a small step, but it’s a step. I’ll be more clear next time that censorship is wrong for everybody.

Granted, thousands probably filled his inbox with similar sentiments of bloodthirsty aggression (as is our purview), but I’m still saying it was me.

You’re welcome, planet Earth. Anyway, continue on to hear the smarmy crap I whipped his way last week.

Original Article

I am twenty-seven years old. I am a professional author. I am also a gamer.

Today, I took a break from eating babies and burning down society to send a letter to a Senator.  I figured if I could keep my bloodstained fingers away from a shrieking throat for a few minutes longer (resist, Bobby, resiiiiiissssst) I thought I’d share that letter with you today.

But first, some back story.

On Tuesday, State Senator Leland Yee from San Francisco found himself being interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, about a violent video game bill he drafted awhile back. The bill was summarily struck down as unconstitutional, and actually ended up paving the way for games being legally defined as art / free expression. So, Senator Yee is no stranger to petard-hoisting.

He must have had a really good time with it, because he’s back again, greasing up his shoe to see just how far he can put it down his own throat this time. Sometimes, guys, you have to mix a metaphor. Just go with it.

Anyway, he’s back at it again, determined to rescue you from your Constitutional rights.  When asked in the interview about his current crusade, he dropped this little bon mot:

YeeDumb

I was going to continue being snarky, but I figure that’s all the back story you’ll need. If you care to contact the good state senator yourself, go here.

I feel like I had something to say about credibility. Here’s the letter I sent to Yee a few hours ago:

An Open Letter

Senator Yee,

I recently read your interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, and your words on the violent video game law you drafted.

I just wanted to inform you of why telling video-game players to “quiet down” is a remarkably inappropriate thing to say. Would you ask movie goers to “quiet down” about movie censorship legislation? Would you ask book readers to “quiet down” about book censorship? I’m just curious how the very people who are the most knowledgeable and also the most affected by a law should have no say in the matter.

I’d like to present some information you may find useful for the future, and certainly for any potential upcoming elections.

There are over 211 million gamers currently in the United States. I may remind you, there are only a little over 300 million people in the entire country.

The average gamer’s age is 37 (53% of the gaming population being from 18-49). The next largest group is 29%, who are over 50 years of age. The smallest group (what we might call “non-voters,” for example)  is the 18% of gamers under 18.

If you consider yourself a proponent of women, I submit the following interesting demographics:

42% of gamers are female. In fact, women over the age of 18 (what we might call “voters,” for example) make up a larger segment of the gaming population at 37%, OVER the segment of boys under the age of 18, who only make up a scant 13% of the gaming market.

I point all this out to let you know that these gamers who have “no credibility” and should “quiet down” are nearly 65% of the entire voting population. These people hold jobs, raise children, and are productive members of society. These are the gamers you are telling to shut up.

These are the voters.

Your ideas are old-fashioned and out of sync with reality. Reality is going to catch up with you, and you may find yourself without a Senate seat to warm.

Some friendly advice,

Bobby Johnson

Age 27
Professional Author
Gamer

Sources

Some of the above stats are from the NPD Group’s recent Video Game study, available here: https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/home/

Other stats are from the ESA’s 2011 Report, available here: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2011.pdf

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All Day, Every Day

I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve leaped off a cliff with the intention of designing and eventually constructing a parachute on the way down. Wisdom? No. Charisma? Maybe. Dexterity . . .

Wait now I’m just naming D&D attributes. Sorry, I’m back.

I quit my job to become a full-time writer, is what I’m saying. It’s funny, what I’ve learned about saying that particular sentence back there. It’s an easy way to gauge someone’s personality, and its utterance reveals a bucketload about the person that responds. It’s actually pretty funny. I’ve said it in a room full of people and gotten everything from anger to excitement to pity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not surprised by this. I knew when I made that fateful decision that it was a risky one, both financially and socially. I mean, the economy isn’t exactly wearing its Sunday best, and quitting a stable job is a terrifically, excitingly bad idea, most especially to pursue a career with the stability of a professional Blackjack player.

I am lucky, and that’s made the decision easier.  I’m lucky to have a fiancee who’s not only willing to support me while I try this noble experiment, but in fact actually suggested it. I’m lucky that as a relatively young man I have a retirement fund I can plunder to pay for a wedding. I’m most especially lucky that I live in a time where I can stay at home and write all day and get paid for it. In a time before the internet, the only way to do that was to be one of the top percent of successful, popular novelists. Now, in this time, being able to apply to literally every freelance writing job posting on planet Earth makes things easier. Not easy, Heaven forfend and Hell no, but easier. Possible, anyway.

Not having kids or mortgage helps too.

The decision was necessary. More than necessary, if there’s a word for that. You think a writer would have one of those.

Working a job that fluctuated every week, without warning, between fifty hours and eighty makes writing impossible. Impossible. I say it a third time to appease the Old Gods: Impossible. Did I write? Yes. Did I even publish a book? Why yes sir I sure did. In nine years, I produced one book fit to print. An accomplishment to be sure, but no career. No possibility of career.

So I begin the noble experiment. I began it yesterday, as a matter of fact. If things don’t work out over a significant period of time, than I’ll be happy to grab another day job and write on the side. After all, my complaint for nine years has been thus: If only I had more time. More time and I’d be Stephen King, more time and I’d be a proper scotch-drinking, bathrobe-wearing, writer. Time!

Now I have the time. If I can’t put my typewriter where my mouth is, than I’ve been full of shit for nine years. If I can’t do it, than I know that I was just using time as an excuse to not write. And if that happens, then I got another day job and write on my off hours, knowing once and for all that I didn’t need time, I just needed to have my ass kicked a little.

Ah, gentle readers, but if it does work.

If it does . . .

Categories: Diary, writing | 1 Comment

V-Day

I spent Valentine’s in Temecula, doing wine-stuff. Tasting, drinking, spilling in moving vehicles.

Wait, before you get mad at the last one: it involved a parking lot, a bathrobe, and a poor attempt at juggling. I won’t go into it, but just know that it was wild.

A few things I learned about myself, about vacationing, and about wine:

1. Even after having had it explained to me, I have no idea what “tannins” are. I suspect tiny elves.

2. Women are to werewolves as sangria is to silver bullets. Yeah, I went SAT Prep on that one.

3. Jacuzzi’s are more fun when you have to snap caution tape to get to them.

4. A hint that you are lying to yourself: “If I bring my laptop, I can do some work. Just in the morning, before we go anywhere.”

5. Room service is the key to World Peace. I haven’t quite figured out the specifics, but give me time.

Have a great post-Valentine’s Day. And remember: if you give your gal flowers a week after a successful Valentine’s Day, it’s worth about a billion points.

– B.C.

Categories: Diary, Valentine's Day | Leave a comment

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