CategoryConstrained Writing

General Clap

Hey, I finally discovered that back in May I placed in the 2018 Lyttle Lytton contest! Specifically I placed with an entry in the Found division—just scroll down to where my name is spelled wrong. I am proud even though it’s not like I wrote anything for it. But the reason the biggest category on this old blog is called “connections” is that I still delight in plugging one thing (a bad sentence I read) into another thing (a web site I love).

And there are a lot of connections that really worked for me in this year’s list! It’s good company to be in. Not only did another Found winner pull an egregious bit from my most hated episode of one of my all-time favorite shows, but there’s an entry under the Perennials that recalls my first entry. There are bullet journal and Engagement Chicken jokes too (hi Kat). But the thing that really rang my bell was seeing a semi-vanished webcomic writer—someone I still admire—pop in with a brilliant entry, and Adam Cadre give her a wink and a nod. I don’t chase the Internet as hard as I used to, but I’m glad the cool-kid serendipity of a decade ago isn’t all gone.

“Nobody expects to be punched in the face by a man’s beard.”

This is linked on his guest post but it needs additional emphasis! After years of my pestering him about it, Bill O’Neil has FUCKING FINALLY gotten around to setting up a dedicated story blog. Bill/William/whoever was making me want to shred everything I ever wrote and set it on fire in a toilet while he was still in high school, so I’m (mostly) glad to finally be able to slot him into Google Reader. If you don’t do the same then you’ll just have to accept that you and I have different tastes!


Anacrusis/Ommatidia is done! I started it in July of 2003, wrote 2003 stories, and now it is my 30th birthday and my present to myself is, I don’t have to do it anymore. (Landing on this date is only sort of a coincidence: I calculated the timing versus post count last summer, and you have probably noticed some bonus stories appearing on weekends since.)

The website won’t go away, but the every-weekday part of the project is over. You will probably see the occasional story pop up in future, if you keep the feed in your reader, and I’ll try to do a bit of curation and shuffling. I may end up keeping Anacrusis as the chronological record and Ommatidia as more of a categorized library. Or: not.

Now follows a list of things I got out of this deal.

  • About 266 subscribers on Google Reader, which is to say, by my estimate, 133 total readers
  • Some useful characters
  • A lot more confidence about my word choice
  • Very little confidence about my plotting
  • A great deal of evidence that I thought stupid things were clever at 1:30 in the morning
  • A name-drop in a doctoral dissertation that I’m not allowed to read
  • A gig writing for one of my favorite comic artists
  • Some really nice letters from cool people
  • Approximately 2003 fewer hours of free time

If you read and enjoyed this thing, thanks, and I’m glad. I owe a debt to Holly Gramazio, Sumana Harihareswara, Leonard Richardson, Andrew Cole, John Dixon, Stephen Heintz, William O’Neil, Kevan Davis, Ben Wray, Riana Pfefferkorn, Joe McDaldno, Tim Coe, Dave Michalak, Ben Carson, the indefatigable Geoffrey Pieper, Christin Clatterbuck, Kris Straub, Penny Arcade, and all the regulars from the LJ/FB feeds for putting the occasional gleam on my raw monument to doggedness. Many of these people have done me the additional kindness of writing guest stories! I’ll be posting them over the next couple of weeks.

I look forward to having my evenings back so I can devote more time to writing code and also homoerotic fanfiction about Inception characters. You think that’s a joke but it’s not.

It’s a threat.

Gentle Reader

Hey, you guys know Andrew Cole is back in the saddle and knocking it out of the park over at The Fabian Society, right? I bet you thought I mixed that metaphor, but you’re wrong! The park is for polo.


If you’re enjoying the Ashlock stories, you will definitely want to follow along with Wolverton, a fantastic series in the same world and format that Ben Carson is posting on a matching schedule. He also keeps coming up with cooler and more exciting twists, which is great, not at all like he’s making me look bad and had better WATCH HIS ASS OR ANYTHING CARSON

I am a lot better at Javascript than I was a few months ago

I am, under normal circumstances, a very reliable exhibit of the human behavior pattern that goes “my stupid system sort of works so I will never change it.” But there are times–rare ones–when my desperation to avoid writing fiction actually overcomes my desperation to avoid writing code. Tonight, after three years of counting words for Anacrusis with a hacky PHP script I wrote in 2007, I finally reached one such point.

This is the word counter I’m going to use from here on out. Unlike the old script, which I was reluctant to publicize because it involved processing user-submitted text on the server side, this is all Javascript and it updates in real time. You can also click the little tab at the bottom if you want to see what the hell it thinks it’s doing.

Stories We Tell, The

My dear friend Joe Mcdaldno–writer, game designer, and fascinating Renaissance human–was kind enough to interview me about Anacrusis for his nascent radio show/podcast, The Stories We Tell. This marks the third podcast to feature me, and my second time on Canadian radio. Soon, listening to my nasal drone trail off in the middle of half-baked jokes will be completely unavoidable!

Incidentally, the term I can’t think of at around 16:45 is syllepsis (and more generally zeugma).

Today’s story is a perfect reason why you should be reading Minor Delays.

It’s Tuesday

Which means all my lovely readers in the UK are back from taking off St. Crispin’s Day or whatever, and all my lovely other readers are yawning and clicking idly on Digg as the work week slowly grinds into gear, and so it is the perfect time, my friends, to tell you that Ommatidia is for sale.

A couple sharp-eyed readers (from the old school of “actually checking the front page”) have already noticed that it was up over the weekend while I poked at it for bugs, but so far everything seems fine. Some things have changed since I made the original tentative announcement–most notably that the limited edition is now signed and numbered and includes a story written just for you, but is also the same softcover binding as the now-less-cheap viral edition (it is actually insane to bind a book this size in hardcover). And yes, it took me over two years to assemble a 133-page book. Turns out autodidactic self-publishing is sort of hard!

But I’m really proud of the result and I hope you’ll be satisfied. You can check out a preview at Lulu and see one of the fourteen all-new illustrations, and if you order soon you’ll be able to get your copy and read the last Cosette story before it goes up online next month. Finally, if you get your book, take a picture! If you send it to me or put it on Flickr and tag it “ommatidia book,” it’ll get pulled into the little badge I’m putting together now for the Ommatidia front page, and I’ll send you a copy of the “Welch” toon I hastily drew for buyers at my Stumptown booth.

Finally, some of you have probably already noticed that I’m linking to in this post, rather than–either URL scheme works almost exactly the same, because if there’s one poor web practice in which I want to engage, it’s duplicated content and split Pagerank. Seriously, think of Ommatidia as a web site for the book that happens to display a feed from Anacrusis. Both sites now include the other new toy I built this weekend: the “all names” page, which is not perfectly accurate, but is pretty close to an ongoing list of every name I’ve scrounged up for a story title. See why I have to steal from Leonard all the time?

Story Hacks: Seventh in a Series

A limited word count is a great way to inspire creativity. But don’t let that turn you off to it! It also makes for an excellent back-cover hook.

First, pick an arbitrary number and cling to it with the focus of a brain-damaged pit bull. Second, write! Having trouble? Apply our patented methods to shave back your flow:

  • Avoid topics you know anything about.
  • Skip the beginning, end, and, preferably, the middle.
  • Utilize compoundwords and contraction’s!
  • Or just entirely!

Above all, don’t be too strict with yourself. Nobody’s going to fucking count them.

Today’s Hack in a Nutshell: Tdyshcknantshll!

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