Blarg!

Bill's blog. Writing, guitars, gratuitous Simpsons references, you'll find i​t all here. Almost certainly a waste of time for both you and the author. On the internet, that's actually a plus.

2017 Awards Eligibility Post

ufo6_ cover.jpg

This year, I only had one short story publication, but it's a really good one, and you wouldn't regret voting for it for a Hugo or Nebula. It's called "A Crawlspace Full of Prizes," and it appeared in the sixth volume of Unidentified Funny Objects.

Amazing Stories had this to say about it: 

“A Crawlspace Full of Prizes” by Bill Ferris – One of my favorites in the anthology, even though it is told in second person, which rarely works for me. You are surprised when a strand of tickets comes out of your faucet after you brush your teeth. More appear after doing the laundry and other chores. Then, when you try to put a box of Christmas ornaments in your crawlspace storage, you find a counter with prizes for redeeming your tickets. The sort of booth you might find at a carnival. This is one of those gems I mentioned at the beginning. Highly recommended.

And here's Tangent's review:

"A Crawlspace Full of Prizes" by Bill Ferris sets up a situation where you start to get tickets—like those you get from playing Skee-Ball at an arcade—from your various home appliances. You learn that these actually can be redeemed for various prizes, most of which are things from your past, like "perfect recall of your high school prom." This is magic realism that's more strange than funny, but I think overall the story works well, and gets extra points for succeeding while being written in the second person.

Again, "Crawlspace" is eligible for the Hugo and Nebula in the short story category. Whether you vote or not, however, I hope you enjoy(ed) the story, and I'm looking forward to writing more of them in 2018.

New column: Motivate Yourself with Ten Tips on Self-Motivating Yourself

photo by  aronbaker2

photo by aronbaker2

Check out my new column on Writer Unboxed: Motivate Yourself with Ten Tips on Self-Motivating Yourself.

Some days, the words flow from your fingers like water. Other days, they—ooh, look, somebody posted a picture of their dog on Facebook! If you’re feeling burned out, I’m here to help you get fired up to get back to work.

  1. Set a regular schedule. To paraphrase Stephen King, the muse will visit you more often if she knows where to find you. Set a regular writing time for yourself. It makes the joy of creating new worlds and characters as much fun as a day at the office or going to school, except you’re doing it at 5 in the morning. (Though some people prefer evenings, when they’re already exhausted from their other responsibilities.)
  2. Jog your memory. Read what you wrote yesterday and challenge yourself to do even better today. Based on the fact that you’re reading an article on self-motivation, surpassing yesterday’s output should be a pretty easy bar to clear.
  3. Rekindle the romance. There’s something you loved about this project that made you want to exchange all of your free time for it, right? Think of your writing time like a date with your special someone. True, sometimes it feels like you’re dating a cruel taskmaster who inflicts constant pain on you, but some folks pay professionals lots of money for that type of experience.

Read the whole thing here.

My new column is up! The Author’s Guide to Twitter: 280-characters Edition

Read my new column, "The Author’s Guide to Twitter: 280-characters Edition" at Writer Unboxed. It's good. 

Here's an excerpt:

Recently, Twitter allowed some users to write tweets of up to 280 characters instead of the usual 140. Issues like harassment, online bullying, and potentially inciting nuclear war are important, but they had to wait so Twitter could make sure jerks like me would have more sand in their sandboxes, apparently. It is my gift, it is my curse. I take this responsibility very seriously, and I feel a certain noblesse oblige to help other writers who have been or will one day be granted this awesome power. If you’re an author, a writer, or just someone willing to visit this website and click the banner ads, it is your solemn duty to read this column and learn how to wield your words effectively in this expansive new landscape.

The Author’s Guide to Twitter: 280-characters Edition

New short story: "A Crawlspace Full of Prizes" in UFO 6

ufo6_ cover.jpg

My latest short story, "A Crawlspace Full of Prizes," is available now in Unidentified Funny Objects, Volume 6. It's one of my favorites. It's a classic tale of an everyman who, while going into his crawlspace to put away the Christmas decorations, finds a fully-staffed prize counter to a Dave & Busters.  

Here's an excerpt:

Thursday, you walk around to the rear of your house to the crawlspace to put away a box of Christmas decorations for the year. You expect that behind the three-by-five crawlspace door will be the crawlspace, since it's right there in its name and everything. But instead of the musty smell of garden tools and old maple boards from that cutting board you tried to make but gave up on, you find a neon-lit room with day-glo carpet. Top-40 radio blares over loudspeakers that sound nicer than anything you've got in your den. At the center of the room is a glass display case filled with little plastic spider-rings and Pixy Stix, as well as other assorted knick-knacks, candies, baubles, and gee-gaws. You couldn't be more surprised if a bear had jumped out of the crawl space. A bear would've at least made a certain kind of sense. You mention this to Sean, the surly, skinny, pimply teen wearing a green polo shirt and nametag, standing behind the glass counter. You also ask him what the heck he's doing here, anyway?

"Because it's my shift," Sean tells you. 

How did he even get this job? This is your house, you protest. Surely there must be a mistake. Sean will have to leave this instant. And where are you supposed to put your Christmas decorations?

If there were competitions for such things, Sean's reply of, "I don't know what to tell you," would win gold for Least Helpful Phrase in the English Language.

You can buy your copy of UFO 6 at Amazon.

New column: Only 45 Shopping Days Until NaNoWriMo!

photo by  grapefruitmoon

Check out my new Hacks for Hacks column, fresh from the oven: Only 45 Shopping Days Until NaNoWriMo! Here's an excerpt:

We’re halfway through September, which means it’s almost October, better known as Secretly Start Working on your NaNoWriMo Novel Month. You probably know it by its acronym, SSWOYNANOWRIMONNOMO (which, by coincidence, is also a curse in a long-forgotten tongue, so don’t say it out loud lest you fall into the dreamless sleep of a thousand years, which will wreck your daily word count). Here’s the thing: Nobody is going to stop you from starting your NaNoWriMo novel early. Yes, I know the NaNoWriMo songs and stories about what happens to early starters, but we’re adults here. We can admit that Halifax the October Hobgoblin won’t steal all the vowels from your keyboard; that the Dropbox Gremlin isn’t going to replace entire chapters of your book with its erotic haiku while you sleep; and that the Eternal Editor will not demand you rewrite the entire manuscript if you ever want to see your doggo alive again. 

New column: How to give a literary reading

My new Writer Unboxed column is live today. The topic: How to give a literary reading, which you probably gathered by the title of this blog post. Anyway, here's an excerpt:

Before the Reading

  • Eat a healthy and delicious breakfast that morning.Choose wisely, as this is what you’ll be throwing up later due to your crippling stage fright.
  • Set the stage. Arrive at the venue early and get a lay of the land. Check if there will be a microphone or lectern or what-have-you. Look for opportunities for cool visuals, such as a blown-up picture of your book cover, or a big poster of your face like in Citizen Kane. Queue up some entrance music. Walking up to the mic through misty clouds from your smoke machine to the tune of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” will let your audience know that a serious author is taking the stage.
  • Choose the right piece to read. You’ll want something people can follow without you having to explain a bunch of backstory beforehand. The beginning of your book is a good choice. An exception to this rule is if you’re reading the first chapter of a sequel–to make sure people know what’s going on, be sure to read the climax of your previous book first.

New column: Please do not support my Patreon

Have you heard of Patreon? It’s a company that empowers crowd-sourced patronage of the arts, including but not limited to authors. By pledging monthly support at one of various patronage tiers, each with its own level of perks and rewards, you’re able to support your favorite writers directly. I have recently started my own, and it is my fondest wish that your patronage does not include me.

Read more at Writer Unboxed.

New column: "The Social Contract for Writers" at WriterUnboxed

photo by Steve Snodgrass

photo by Steve Snodgrass

Check out my new column, "The Social Contract for Writers" at Writer Unboxed. Part of the social contract is reading my column, so, you know, you'd better get started. Here's an excerpt:

  • Buy your friends’ books. Buying a peer’s book is a sign of professional respect. Buying the cheaper ebook version is a sign of being a savvy shopper.

  • No jealousy allowed. Celebrate friends’ successes! Rather than seethe with envy, better to remind them that without help from good people like yourself, they’d be nothing. NOTHING.

Read the whole thing here.