9 September, 2002

Well, I have gone and done it now. The entire text of The Magic Flute is now available on my website free of charge. It sounds crazy, I know. It flies in the face of everything publishers are trying to force down our throats about eBooks, but it makes perfect sense. Think of it like donating a book to the library. There are people who will buy a book. There are people who will read it at the library for free, and there are people who will buy a book after first reading it at the library. I have heard this argument from too many different sources to ignore it, and as reluctant as I have been to heed their advice, I have finally succumbed. It just took me this long to get over the notion that I put all this effort into the book so people should have to pay for the privilege of reading it, damnit. Contrary to all reason, my sources tell me that making the book freely available online can actually increase people's interest in buying it. This is not a sure-fired guaranteed thing. I mean if the book really sucks nothing is going to help, but I have heard too many stories that it doesn't hurt.

There is a good precedent for this kind of thing, but you have to look at web comics. There are a whole bunch of web only comics like Sluggy Freelance and Kevin and Kell to name only two that are freely available online, and people still buy the reprints in book form. It is really cool.

Actually, making The Magic Flute freely available online shouldn't come as a complete surprise; after all, The Faire Folk of Gideon has always been available online. Yes, I am going to publish it in the old-fashioned book format after I finish The Etymology of Fire and get the money together, but it was never my plan to remove the free version of The Faire Folk of Gideon from my website after the dead-tree version was ready. It was always meant to be free online and paid on paper. Strange that I was being so stubborn about The Magic Flute.

This also means that you can scope out my favorite part of the whole entire book. The first scene of chapter four where Tahrl has dinner with the Montmorin is my favorite part. They just sit around and talk and eat and stuff, and I just love it. And, the huge battle that takes up the entire second half of chapter five is awesome. I'm still kind of in shock that I wrote it. Anyway, check it out.

Oh, and I should point out that making the complete text of The Magic Flute freely available online has absolutely no affect on my copyright of the work. My copyright of The Magic Flute is still enforced to the full extent of the law. I have the paperwork from the United States Copyright Office to prove it so don't even think about violating my copyright. The Faire Folk of Gideon is also fully protected just in case you wanted to know.

Just remember that making the complete text of a work of fiction freely available online is no different than donating a copy to the library. Is a book's copyright protection void when a copy is given to the library? Hell, no.

Violate my copyright and I will get you for damages and court costs.

14 September, 2002

Work on The Etymology of Fire goes as slow as it ever does. One of these days, I actually hope to finish the book, but there have been some interesting developments. I was hoping that chapter three would be pretty easy because I wasn't expecting that much to be different. Then Tahrl had this bright idea about how they should approach Balthazar. I thought it was a cool idea because it was very different from how they had approached him before and different from how I thought they were going to do it. Of course, Alexander and Armada wanted to go after Balthazar like it had happened in all previous versions of the book so Tahrl would have to convince them.

So chapter three had to have a new first scene. I actually had to think about this a little bit. I wasn't sure if this discussion properly belonged in chapter two before they left Greenhaven or while they were on-the-road, so to speak. I didn't really want to stick it into chapter two because I felt that chapter two was long enough, and placing anything in there would break up the flow.

So I started chapter three with the three of them looking at Balthazar's home and then immediately back-tracked a couple days to describe their journey and sneak in the discussion about how to approach the magician. Well, Alexander and Armada argued back. They just weren't going to take Tahrl's suggestion about how to approach Balthazar. No problem, I figured. It shouldn't take long for Tahrl to convince them.

Except Armada came-up with this great counter-argument. I mean it was really good. It gave Tahrl pause. Hell, it gave me pause. I mean, damn, it was a good argument. I had to sit there and reconsider the best course of action. So for about a week, I contemplated the two sides and tried to decide which was the better approach. Then I had to figure out if Tahrl could come-up with a counter-counter-argument. I didn't know if he could do it. Hell, I didn't know if I could do it.

This is what they mean when people talk about the characters getting away from them.

So I thought about it, and I thought about it. And, I finally decided which side I liked better. That was easy. Problem was I hadn't thought of a counter-argument to Armada's counter-argument. I had simply made an executive decision as to how things were going to go, which meant that I still had to think of a reason to convince Alexander and Armada. Well, I failed miserably at that. I couldn't think of a single reason so I left it up to Tahrl.

No, really, I sat down with pen and paper, and I continued to write the scene I had not touched in a little over a week. I left it totally up to Tahrl. I didn't know what he was going to say. The words were just going to flow out of the pen. Alexander and Armada would either be convinced or they wouldn't, and I was screwed if they weren't convinced.

Well, it worked. Tahrl came-up with this totally lame-ass reason for them to do what he wanted. Alexander and Armada bought it. I think their decision to go with what Tahrl wanted was heavily influenced by what the author wanted, but I swear that if they hadn't been convinced, things would have gone very differently. I would have been left sitting there with pen in hand, thinking something along the lines of shit! shit! shit! now, what do I do?

Crisis averted. So, I was ready to write the first grand scene with Balthazar. To get ready, I read back over the beginning of chapter three and realized that it was all crap. Not the dialogue. The argument was fine. They were still going to do what Tahrl wanted. The problem was all the descriptive stuff at the beginning of the chapter.

I think I have talked a little about how I write. I tend to do the dialogue first. No description. No stage dressing. I don't mean to say this is exclusively how I work. I have simply noticed that this method works really well for me. What this means is that I tend to get stuck writing these linking descriptive passages. I hate doing it. It drives me nuts. I think my linking passages suck. I figure this is why a lot of authors skip them. Have you ever noticed how many chapters and scenes begin with a line of dialogue? That's because the author hates working up to that moment. Just a guess. But, that's what I think.

Anyway, I hated the beginning of the chapter. See, it begins with them looking at Balthazar's home and then jumps back about six days. They wander around in one of those ugly past tense things, then it gets worse when they start to talk. I mean the dialogue itself is fine. All the tags are a mess. He had said. She had said. Half-the-time I just left it out and only wrote she said. There was this one three sentence description that just made me cringe.

So I decided the only thing to be done was to throw it all out. Not the dialogue. Not the outcome of the scene. All the framing and linking matter would have to be consigned to the rubbish heap. Now, you problem figure that this isn't a big deal. In fact, it's probably easy for just about anyone else except me. I think I mentioned that I hate to rewrite. I am a very warts-and-all author. If it sucks, deal with it because that is all you are going to get. I refuse to polish it up.

In fact, to show you how rare it is for me to fix something, there is only one scene out of the entire novel The Magic Flute that was rewritten. That's right. Out of that entire two hundred plus page book, only one scene had any touch-up work done on it. Hey, you! yeah, everybody in the back heckling me about how I should have used more polish! just shut-up and sit-down! I never forced you to read my book! so just shut-the-hell-up! Anyway, the scene at the beginning of chapter nine. Actually, not quite the beginning. I think that first little bit between Sorcha and Clearlake is just awesome. After Tahrl and Sorcha have been running around, they stumble across a bunch of people just milling about. Well, that whole bit where they are with all the wounded. It stunk. It was bad. In fact, it just stank. The whole bit was just very poorly done, and I finally had to admit that to myself. I had to accept the fact that two or three weeks worth of work had to be tossed out and redone. It was hard, but I did it.

So, that is where I am now. I've got this descriptive linking stuff that leads into dialogue that just sucks and it just has to go. So, I've been working on that this past week. To be more precise, I spent Tuesday night working on it. The rest of the week was spent avoiding it. I really need to get back to it. Oh, well, then the fun can begin. They get to talk to Balthazar.

22 September, 2002

There is a very simple reason why I don't want to start a movie/book review column on this website. It would turn me into a critic, and I'm one of those people who think we need another critic like we need another case of West Nile Virus. I think that most lawyer jokes also apply to critics. What do you call twenty critics at the bottom of the ocean? A good start. What do you call twenty critics up to their necks in quicksand? Not enough quicksand. Okay, get the idea? I think critics are pond scum who think they know better than everyone else. The San Francisco Chronicle once did a special section on getting to know their critic staff, and they actually said stuff like how they improve on people's enjoyment and appreciation of art because they know so much and are so damn smart. I'm serious. Go look it up.

So, I'm not crazy about the idea of starting a regular feature in which I talk about some damn movie or book or what-not. Having said that I want to talk about a movie I liked. I noticed that most of the critiques I have done on this here website have been negative. I wanted to give a good review for once.

Which brings us to Spy Kids 2. I liked this movie. I thought it was great. It was certainly the most creative movie I have seen all year, which isn't saying much since I have only been to the movies six times this year. Spy Kids 2 was full of bouncy energy and excitement and just tons of cool stuff.

Okay, I'm going to try for a short summation. The prototype of something called the transmooker is stolen by a bunch of bad guys who wear magnets on their heads. Our favorite spy kids are blamed for letting the bad guys get away so they hack into the system and assign themselves to getting the transmooker back. This takes them to The Island of Lost Dreams where they run into a bunch of genetically engineered monsters and even a group of skeletons. Now, I don't understand where the skeletons came from. They weren't part of the genetic experiment, but I don't think it really matters.

That's a short summation. The movie is actually pretty complicated, and it does drag a little in the third quarter as they just do more running around the island. In spite of this, I thought it was a great movie. There was lots of energy through three quarters of it, and I love their dad's reaction when he discovers that the spy kids don't need to be rescued. It was great. He didn't get angry. It hurt his feelings, but he was just so macho that he couldn't let anyone see that he was sad.

Another great scene was when the transmooker was stolen. There's a room full of spies with all their spy kids at a dinner party. The adult spies have all been drugged, and the bad guys show-up, thinking they have it made except all the spy kids attack. It's a great scene.

Oh, and how is this for a creative dialogue exchange.

"Care to dance?"

"I only dance ballet."

"What a coincidence!"

You've just got to see what happens next to appreciate it. It's just great.

The movie was just so creative starting with the rides at the amusement park. I wish I could remember their names. There was the ride that spins two cars really fast and then crashes them into each other. There was the Vomiter, which spins people around so fast that they do what the name implies. Everybody in line for that ride wears rain gear and carries umbrellas. Then, there was the Juggler. People are placed in round cars, which are spun as fast as government regulations will allow, and then the ride juggles them.

Anyway, Spy Kids 2 is just full of spunk and energy and lots of cool stuff. I will admit that the movie is complicated to the point where it didn't always make sense but that doesn't really matter. The movie is cool.

copyright © 2002 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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