Should Writers Read Classic or Modern Books?

I often feel anxiety about the overwhelming amount of books I want to read, knowing I won’t live long enough to read them all. This has been a problem for all humans throughout history—the race against time—but the problem grows exponentially over time as the amount of content continually increases. 

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Use Visualization to Write Fiction Like Tesla

Most of my toughest problems writing fiction come from hitting a wall midway through the first draft when I realize I must alter the narrative in some dramatic way, requiring massive rewrites of what I’d written so far. This doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it is demoralizing—especially for longer projects like novels. I dread going back to do that rewriting work because it is difficult, tedious, and time-consuming. Fixing what I wrote before often takes longer than it took to write in the first place.

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Best of 2020: Video Games, Comics, Music, and More

A new form of storytelling medium I got into this year was fictionalized audio drama podcasts. I prefer them to fiction audiobooks because they have a full cast of actors to voice each character in the story. Plus the scripts are written specifically for audio (as opposed to most novels), so the stories are more dialogue-driven and therefore more dynamic and easier to follow while listening. Though, as with television, I prefer self-contained miniseries audio dramas with an ending, rather than series that go on for years.

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Best Nonfiction Books I Read in 2020

According to my Goodreads stats (which I use to track every book I read), I read 95 books in 2020, which is down slightly from last year (114). Though that includes comic books, which are shorter and quicker to read, plus audiobooks, and I read less comics, so more full-books in all. My increased reading was not due to being stuck at home during quarantine as that didn’t affect my lifestyle much—it’s primarily because I severely cut down on reading Twitter and other online news. I previously wrote about the futility of following the daily news closely, but I still clung to Twitter—a little too much—sometimes a lot too much. I will expand upon how I broke my Twitter addiction in a future post, but suffice it to say, these days I check Twitter just once a day (at night after getting my work done) for only a couple minutes—if at all. This immediately reduced my stress levels and gave me much more time to read more valuable things that will stand the test of time, such as the following books.

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Best Fiction Books I Read in 2020

1. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (1992)

I first read this book about ten years ago when I started reading science fiction novels. I repeatedly saw Snow Crash on many “greatest sci-fi books” lists and it was considered the best in the cyberpunk genre (along with William Gibson’s Neuromancer). When I first read Snow Crash, (and Neuromancer for that matter) I liked parts of it, but most of the book went over my head. I was looking for cyberpunk action (such as the computer hacking and futuristic skateboarding) and became bored by the ancient religious and evolution of language aspects, which I did not fully understand. I didn’t recognize it as being a portrayal of an anarcho-capitalist society the first time around, as I did not know what that was. Ten years older and wiser, I now find the philosophical aspects of the book the most fascinating, and the hacking, action, and skateboarding parts are like gravy on top. Snow Crash is like all my varied interests (technology, futurism, virtual reality, hacking, skateboarding, pizza delivery, punk rock, samurai swords, economics, history, philosophy, libertarianism, ancient religion, language, and the evolution of consciousness) all rolled into one book. It doesn’t seem like there can be that many different ideas in one novel but there are and it all somehow fits together.

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Schrödinger’s Santa: A Quantum Christmas Poem

Quantum mechanics has proven that, contrary to human intuition,
matter exists in multiple states at one time, known as superposition.

Santa can simultaneously be in your chimney and at the North Pole.
Until it’s looked in, your stocking contains both merry presents and humbug coal.

The same sleigh of reindeer fly through the sky while sleeping on ice.
This past year, you’ve been equal parts naughty and equal parts nice.

On Christmas morning, when you check under your green tree,
the wave function collapses—an observer you’ll be.

The elves’ algorithm determines on which list you fall,
then you’ll find the gifts you have wished for…or nothing at all.

Top 10 Movies (at Least 10 Years Old) I Saw in 2020

Finding older movies is surprisingly difficult in the age of online streaming. Netflix has severely cut down on their movie catalogue, focusing on their own original television series, and most other streaming services do the same. Amazon has a decent collection of movies, as does the new HBO Max, and I’ve also found some rare gems on Vudu and Tubi, streaming services that are free with ads. JustWatch has become essential in figuring out where and how to watch any given movie. I wish the streaming services would focus more on making original movies rather than television series, but it’s in their economic interest to create addictive TV series that will keep you watching longer. Just as it is in the Hollywood movie studios’ interest to make $100+ million tentpole blockbusters based on pre-existing material. 

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Best TV of 2020: Too Many Shows

The theme this year is that, due to the abundance of streaming services, there is simply too many good TV shows to keep up with. I don’t have time to watch shows that are merely “good”—they must be great. Perhaps it’s just me, and other people (especially during COVID lockdowns) have more free time to devote to television. I used to have lots of time to waste watching TV before I became a writer. These days, the vast majority of my time is spent writing and doing other writing-related business. The second-most amount of time is spent reading. Books, especially science fiction, are generally better than TV. Then there are the daily essentials like exercising, eating, and other errands, during which I listen to podcasts. That leaves me about two hours at night before bed to watch a TV show, movie, or documentary. I’ve cut down on my television watching this year, focusing more on movies and documentaries—again because I don’t have the time to watch multiple multi-season series. I can easily get through a mediocre movie when it’s only an hour or two, but watching a mediocre TV series can take dozens of hours, which is time I don’t have to spare. In the past, whenever I started watching a TV series I’d see it through to the end no matter what, but I’ve been cutting the cord early on TV shows more and more.  My patience for mediocrity evaporates over time. Having said that, there were at least ten shows I saw in 2020 that were worth my time. 

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals 2020

For a limited time, discounted deals are available for several of my books.

Story Addict, my collection of 27 short stories will be on sale for $0.99 as an ebook from Black Friday through Cyber Monday (December 1).

A paperback version of Story Addict is now available for $14.99.

A paperback version of my humorous Halloween horror novel, Trick or Zombie Treat is also now available for $15.99.

Finally, Death by Self-Driving Car, my latest mini-collection of sci-fi short stories is on sale in ebook form for $0.99 from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.