I started work on Channel Zilch in 1992. It was going to be a story-telling screensaver based on my Dramaton interactive narrative system. I developed the basic storyline — stealing the prototype space shuttle Enterprise – and created the cast – testosterone-surfing geek goddess Heloise Chin, cashiered astronaut Mick Oolfson, space hippy Darthy Vader, and loopy spacecaster Richard Head – within the first year of work.
When Microsoft hired me in ’93 I knew I couldn’t do software to “compete” with them and decided that the story would make a fun book. I’ve got printouts (dot-matrix on perf paper) from 1996 of some early chapters.
When I became disabled with my brainrot I went years without being able to write. But whenever I was well enough I kept scribbling on Channel Zilch.
I submitted the first chapter to Clarion West writing workshop in 2001 and got rejected. I polished it and submitted it again and got accepted in 2002. Clarion West was 6 intense weeks of writing, critiquing, camaraderie, and fierce neurological pain because my seizures were still not under control.
When I moved to my Wisconsin cabin, The Pad, in 2004, I was unable to write for the first year. When my health partially returned I threw myself back into software – GODinabox, ChipWits, Elves – but wore my brain down again.
After swearing off programming I picked up the book again and finally finished the first draft. I sent out queries and got a few nibbles from big agents but no bites. So I finished a 2nd draft and submitted it to my brilliant online writing group, Written in Blood. The group’s critiques were a graduate seminar in turning my manuscript into a living novel.
After reading their critiques I “got it”. The critiques were enthusiastic about my writing and humor and characters and story, but pointed out that I didn’t let the story flow and that I didn’t keep my characters involved in the action. I depended too much on flashy writing which stopped the action dead. After internalizing their crits I could visualize a much, much better book, and that vision has fueled me through the past 2 years.
It took me months to start writing my 3rd draft in the fall of 2008. My cognitive problems made turning my group’s critiques into edits and new prose a challenge. It took me 6 months to rewrite the first 50 pages (of an 800 page manuscript), but when I submitted those pages to my writing group and got enthusiastic critiques I knew I could do it.
I finally realized that my cognitive problem with outlining was killing my progress. Getting Brook Waalen to help me hammer out outlines in weekly face-to-face sessions broke the logjam and my page count rocketed from 10 to an average of 100 pages edited per month. Thanks, Brook!
As I worked on the 3rd draft the book grew into a monster, swelling from 145k to 180k words. When I finished the draft I got a lot of people to read it, and many of them were huge fans. A few complaints reinforced a feeling that I had to change the timeline, which gave me a chance to make the theft of Enterprise a lot more fun. So I spent a few months punching up the heist.
When I went to write my query letter my writing group once again came to my rescue. They warned me that the length of the book was a huge black mark to agents and publishers. Agents are looking for books of less than 100k words. Four of the eight writer in Written in Blood have landed agents in the last few years, so I listen to them.
Luckily, the old book was easily sliced in half. The Channel Zilch team blasts off from Baikonur near page 400 of the old 800 page manuscript, so I spent the last few months doing the surgery and new writing required to create a much shorter book. I now have 2 books: Channel Zilch and Hel’s Bet!
After 18 years of working with the same plot and cast I still get a kick out of Channel Zilch. Writing is often painful but I love my misfit crew and their crazy quest to kickstart the Singularity by stealing space shuttle Enterprise.
Now to sell it.
I’m taking part in Clarion West’s Write-a-thon. Please visit my page and make a donation to sponsor me: http://clarionwest.org/events/writeathon/DougSharp
I owe a lot to Clarion West. The six weeks I spent in the workshop in the summer of 2002 was one of the most intense stretches of my life. Six professional writers spent a week with 16 of us. We wrote a story each week and critiqued each others and listened to the pros take apart our art and talk about being professional writers. I made some great friends at CW and 3 of them are in my online writing group.
My goals for the Write-a-thon:
I will finish my novel Channel Zilch and start seeking an agent for it.
It’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been pouring all my words into the book. The biggest news since the last post is that I cut the old Hel’s Bet manuscript in half to turn it into two books. It was 190k words long, which is way too long for most agents to consider. Now I’ve got a 95k book – Channel Zilch – and am about a week away from finishing it.
The Write-a-thon started yesterday and I’ve had 2 great days of writing. I started with 41 edit notes and am down to 29 today. Once I finish I’ll write a query letter and start huntin agent!
My first publication – The Flying Squids of Zondor – comes out on July 15th from Panverse Publishing’s Eight Against Reality. Dario got the first shipment from the printer and it’s a fine-looking book:
Can’t wait to hold my copy!
I continue to pour all of my words into my rewrite of Hel’s Bet. I finished the new Enterprise heist chapter and my first two readers, Brook and Kellyn, are big fans. It’s been slow but worth it. The new chapter is way more thrilling than the previous version. It ratchets up the antagonism between Mick Oolfson and his nemesis Captain Ishwald.
Weather is warm and I hike and paddle daily.
I like to read on the islands. Mika doesn’t like to swim so she can roam free.
It feels great to see the end of this rewrite. In June I go agent hunting!
Janice Hardy, author of The Shifter and a member of my online writing group, has a title and cover for her sequel, Blue Fire!
Janice is a graphic designer and talks about her involvement in designing the cover in her excellent blog.
I got to critique a draft of Blue Fire last summer. I love her protagonist, Nya, and the completely novel system of pain-based magic Janice created. I look forward to reading the finished book when it’s published this October.
I still have control of my pain when I’m at rest. When I’m in neurological pain I can stop what I’m doing and perform a few toe exercises and stop the pain. That fact is an amazing upgrade to my life.
Pretty much any activity involving my brain still produces pain, but I can rest and recover between bouts.
I’m in better shape than I’ve been in a decade. Walks no longer exhaust me so I walk 2 to 3 times more than a year ago, probably averaging 1 1/2 miles of vigorous hiking a day.
I’ve started a structured diet to whittle off some of the winter’s lard. Every other day I eat 1/4 my usual amount – a light lunch spread over the day. It’s a great way of getting some of the benefits of calorie restriction without true fasting. Food tastes great on the semi-fasting days!
Writing is still a bit painful, but it’s getting easier. Finishing Hel’s Bet wore my neurons to a nub. That’s been the pattern of my brainrot – pushing hard on a project and paying for it with pain and degraded cognitive skills for months or years. I feel good that I gave my all to Hel’s Bet.
Time to walk the pooches in melty snow and then do some Hel’s Bet PR.
Last week I sent Hel’s Bet PR email to some people at the Singularity Institute and to some leading Singularity bloggers. Five of the 9 I emailed said they would read Hel’s Bet. Yesterday I got my first big thumbs up from Keith Kleiner, founder of Singularity Hub: “I am thrilled that you have created this book and I think we might do a story on it.”
Whether or not Singularity Hub do a story, it’s mighty encouraging that Hel’s Bet “thrilled” a highly-networked Singularitarian!
I am working on PR for Hel’s Bet and one of my tasks is to redo my web bio page. A subtask is to scan a bunch of reviews of my computer games ChipWits and The King of Chicago. I found a software bestseller list from December 31, 1984 which features ChipWits rising fast in the Ed software charts!
Part of the fun of writing games 25 years ago was the number of competing microcomputer systems. I coded games for about half of these:
I am still a bit ground down by finishing the book – writing is still tough – but am feeling confident I’m going to sell it.
I am proud of finishing the third draft of Hel’s Bet. It took me 15 long and often painful months but I kept on writing.
I am confident that this draft will sell.
It’s appropriate that I limp across the finish line burnt out and aching. My late summer spurt of writing was crucial to getting HB done but it broiled my writing lobe. I’ve been absent from this blog because I put every word on the page.
During the last week of rewriting I vowed to jump into Martel Lake at dawn if I didn’t get the book rewritten by 11/9. That was great motivation and I wound up writing all night to escape a cold morning dive. I took a break and did a final readthrough before I started circulating the manuscript.
After I finished the rewrite I took the dogs camping in the woods:
We were planning to camp for 2 nights but Travis had other ideas. I slept 12 hours the first night and was raring to go the next day. We did an epic circumnavigation of Lake Almira through bogs and thickets and open forest and when we were 3 miles into the 4 mile hike Travis flushed a pair of deer and was off to the races.
We were hiking in an unfamiliar area so I was a tad concerned but Travis was chasing the deer back toward Martel Lake. We followed him calling “TRAVIIIIS!” When we got to Martel I was surprised to see a couple guys by the Haunted Trailer wearing green shiny vests. I asked them if they owned the trailer (never met the owners) and they told me they were clearing branches from the powerline but was I missing a dog because one just ran by chasing a deer into the lake.
I ran to the shore and sure enough there was Travis halfway across Martel swimming slower and slower. The deer was long gone. Martel is cold:
I yelled at Travis to swim to Ogre Island and he turned around and paddled to it while Mika and I ran to get the canoe. The lake was iced over between the dock and the island. We broke ice out to Ogre and rescued shivering but happy Travis. I took him to the cabin to try to dry him out and warm him up but it was obvious he was in no shape for another night in a tent. And I didn’t particularly want to snuggle with an icy dog. Travis slept like a rock.
I am taking a week off from HB work. I need to recuperate, straighten up the cabin, work on some of my lost skills, and plot strategy for getting the best agent I can.
I am circulating the manuscript (just during December 2009) so if you want to read a little story about kickstarting the Singularity by stealing a space shuttle give me a shoutout.
We’ve got the first longterm snow of the season and are expecting more. The lake froze over but it will be a month before the ice is safe for hiking.
Every month I send my patrons and friends an update letter. This month’s letter:
I finally finished the damn thing! I beat my deadline and avoided having to jump into the lake. I celebrated by taking the dogs camping.
Hel’s Bet is a 190k monster of a book that I am rather proud of. Finishing this draft is by far the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. It took 15 months from the time I got my critique of draft 2 until I finished this draft. I started incredibly slowly – last March I had only finished 50 of the 880 pages. My late summer writing spurt was wonderful but ground down my writing neurons to a nub.
I’m only glad that a novel can’t crash. The last month of bug hunting before putting any game out the door always soured me on the game – I couldn’t believe anyone would play it without a gun to their head. Hel’s Bet still amuses me.
Now I get to find an agent and a publisher. This month I’ll work with Brook to write the query letter and 1 page synopsis. We’ve already made a target list of the 10 agents who did the biggest deals in speculative fiction recently as our first prospects.
I’d love to hear what you think of Hel’s Bet. I couldn’t have finished it without your help.
I finished stacking my firewood today and am ready for the big snow. It’s great to have a new roof on the cabin.
As I search for an agent I will post regularly here.
Here’s a thumbnail review of Fall at The Pad.
I realize I’ve been letting Facebook cannibalize this blog. I post daily updates on Facebook – it’s been a great social hub for me – and updating the blog just never happens. So here goes – the Recent Life and Successes of Droog:
My health continues to improve! I am working on dealing with the pain caused by my kryptonite tasks as it happens and am having some success.
I started jogging a few weeks ago and it’s been great for me. I run to the mailbox – 1 1/3 mile roundtrip – every other day:
Yesterday I went on a 4 mile hike/run on a beautiful stretch of the Ice Age Trail along McKenzie Creek with Brook and it was exhilarating. I love trailrunning! I now enjoy exercising again – after 10 years during which it was just too painful.
I am well over halfway through my rewrite of Hel’s Bet! I’m on page 507 out of 805. I had a breakthrough week last week – 106 pages – because I ran into a streak of chapters that needed only light rewriting. I am going to try to finish the book this month. I am confident I will sell it.
We’ve had some bear problems at The Pad in the last few months:
I can’t leave my trashcan out on the road the night before the trash truck comes or a bear munches on it.
The loons have 2 chicks! They are already about 2/3′s the size of their parents and confident divers. The parents are constantly on guard because of hungry Bald Eagles:
The Tamarack Bog has been dry and the pitcher plants have sent up their weird little flowers:
My new used Jeep Cherokee, Casey, is a champ! It’s a solid car:
I’m doing great and plan to do even better once I get this dang book out the door.
I am healing. Last week I broke the back of my pain. I control it now and the only time I need to feel pain is when I forget that I no longer have to endure it.
I had given up hope of healing. I wished at most for reduction in pain, but in the past weeks I’ve had hours of peace within my body. I’ve felt sensations I’d forgotten existed – warm breezes that just tickle the hairs of my arms, the relaxed feeling of tired muscles after an evening ramble. I am hearing and smelling more detail in the world. I have cried many times in the last month as I’ve experienced small pleasures that I had forbidden myself to remember.
I love where I live – my cabin, Martel Lake, the woods and bogs – even more because now I can savor its subtle pleasures. I found an amazing haven to help me survive brainrot. Even in the depths of my pain it was easy to smile at a Martel Lake sunset -
I clenched my body and spirit against cruel and relentless pain for 11 1/2 years. I ignored my body and deadened myself to subtle pleasures because when I opened myself to feeling, the pain surged in unchecked.
In 2003 when I lived on Capitol Hill in Seattle I joined a yoga class, thinking it might be perfect to help me relax and keep limber. I had to quit because I couldn’t tolerate the first 5 minutes of the class. When the yoga teacher told us to relax and tune into our bodies, to listen to our bodies, I couldn’t stand what I heard. My body was screaming and by listening I amplified the pain.
It’s a luxury to enjoy my body again.
I have reestablished the healthy neural pathways between my brain and my legs and feet. I reinforce the connections by doing simple exercises with my feet.
For years I’ve done my best to shut out the false messages of pain coming from my thalamus and now I can do it.
Strangely, I bought Doidge’s book last year to do research into neuroplasticity for self-brain-hacker Heloise Chin in my book Hel’s Bet. Dr. Brendel suggested we attempt to treat my pain with neuroplastic techniques and I was gung ho.
I’ve been taking lots of voice notes about my exercises and how they’ve changed my life. Grist for the Brainrot book, which will now have an unexpectedly happy ending.
My energy is amazing now that my body isn’t fighting pain every step it takes. I now take deer trail hikes with the dogs to relax. I bring a branch lopper along to clear obstructions (the deer love me!) Before this healing I hiked every day but it was always a huge push, hurt like hell, and left me exhausted for hours.
Brainrot interrupted my life twice – 1988-91 & 1997-2009. I have now learned simple techniques to stop it from ever destroying my life again.
Watch out world, Doug Sharp is back!
Just over a year ago I joined the amazing online writing group Written in Blood (thanks, Dario!). Janice Hardy was the first of the Bloodies to get a book deal, right before I joined the group, for her YA trilogy The Healing Wars and its first volume The Shifter:
Janice has just launched her website at: janicehardy.com!
I just had the fun of reading and critiquing the 2nd book of The Healing Wars. Janice is a great writer and I’ve got my pre-order in for volume 1 ;^)
Just last Fall I had hopes of being the 2nd of the 8 writers in Written in Blood to get a book deal. Our group had an amazing year and so now I am hoping to be the 5th! Dario Ciriello and Juliette Wade and Aliette de Bodard are all going to beat me to the shelf. It’s tons of fun watching my writer friends get deals and move through the publication process.
Congrats, Janice! The Healing Wars is going to do great with the YA crowd AND their parents.
Yesterday I abandoned a canoe trip because the wind was too strong. First time in 5 years of boating here that I’ve tied up at the shore away from my dock and walked back to the cabin. Usually when the wind is fierce I can find calm near the shore but yesterday’s wind was wild and gusty.
The dogs were riled up by the waves and wind.
The water is ice-cold because the lake just thawed – I wasn’t up for a dunking with 2 dogs.
Had a great writing session with Brook. I am going to read every word of Hel’s Bet to him so I read the first 2 chapters. Brook is a stone-faced Nordic and it’s fun when the book gets him to smile. I found out that reading out loud uses up energy I need for collaborating so from now on I will read to Brook over the phone – bedtime stories – and just dictate while we’re together.
I’m looking forward to a couple days of rain to start my creek running. Mudminnows can’t do their spawning run up a dry creek bed.
Finishing this rewrite of Hel’s Bet is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
The current state of my brain is hyper-sensitive to complex sorting and scheduling and pretty much anything that has to do with making correspondences between 2 documents (forget 3!) or within a document.
Looking back over my writing of the past months I discovered that the only time I got momentum going is when I had completely new chapters to write – that was reassuring and eye opening. That means that I can still write (or so you guys assure me – I don’t think you say nice things about HB out of pity for your brain-damaged colleague ;^).
I had thought that by digesting my rewrite notes into a simpler form I would break the rewrite logjam but instead I just concentrated all the things my brain hates.
I came up with a solution that I know is going to work. I decided that what I need is a daily list of writing tasks that I can check off as I finish them. Assembling that list and sticking to it is a toughy for me so I asked my friend and aide Brook to collaborate more closely with me on the text. We are meeting at his coffee shop, Café Wren – http://www.cafewren.com – at 2.
I love collaboration. I know this is going to work!
Will share news of my new writing regime’s success.
Still trying to wring art and joy out of my balky lump of neurons,
I wrote a new chapter today and had a great time doing it – about 1,800 new words. It was my best day of writing for weeks. I still have a shot at finishing Hel’s Bet by the end of April.
I promised myself I wouldn’t canoe until I finished this chapter. I kept on writing with almost no pain for hour after hour. I had a great time and threw myself into acting out each scene until the dialog felt just right – earning head tilts from Travis dog. The sun was almost down when I wrote the last words.
We had a great canoe trip. The dogs are always a little baffled that the boat works again after walking on the lake for months, but they love floating out on the lake and were quite happy. About half the lake is still ice covered and I got to do a little ice breaking near Ogre Island, which the dogs didn’t enjoy.
Nice to have a bunch of shiny new words in my little book. I’m feeling good.
I saw a pair of sandhill cranes in a field today. Any day now my nightly loon chorus will return.
I’ve been doing the nightly sunset healing practice and I like it a lot. I solved the problem of how to pamper my sense of taste by eating fresh fruit – strawberries and pineapple so far. Will blog further on this because the practice has given me a lot to think about.
I’ll post pix of the ice canoeing tomorrow. Here’s another picture of a pitcher plant:
Rewriting Hel’s Bet is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Complexity and lists and dealing with multiple documents all cause me neurological pain – sparklers in the brain. I know that if I push myself I’ll crash hard, so I try to be productive without overdoing it.
Progress is slow but it’s real. If I am a good little scribbler I’ll finish this rewrite by the end of April.
I’ve just done another read-through of the manuscript, assigning each chapter 0-4 stars depending on how much writing I have to do to finish it. About half of the chapters are good to go! That felt good.
I’m having a blast developing a new character called Gogol – a hacker/gangster who is an oily, euphemistic, bland monster. Gogol is now a key player in getting Enterprise off the ground in Baikonur. He’s got a cool sidekick/bodyguard named Motorcade who will let me exercise some of the eviler neurons in my writing lobe.
I’m also enjoying critiquing the second volume of Janice Hardy’s Healing Wars Trilogy.
I joined the Written in Blood writing group after they critiqued The Shifter so I get to read Vol 2 cold to see if a new series reader can enjoy the 2nd without having read the 1st.
Janice is a sure-footed writer and I’m having lots of fun reading the manuscript. It’s already been sold as part of the trilogy, so that does give the crit a different feel.
Winter decided to leave all at once (no more sledging in supplies!) so I’ve been enjoying reading out on my new deck:
I stopped making music when I got ill. My brainrot doesn’t like complex order so playing music caused me pain. I’ve decided to push myself in some of my weak areas so I tuned up my lap harp and have started to learn it all over again.
The lake is a few weeks from opening up. Most of the snow has melted. Today I smelled Spring for the first time.
Can’t wait to canoe.
My mind is a wobbly epiphenomenon hosted on my slightly miswired brain. I’ve lost some very specific cognitive skills due to epilepsy-induced brain damage. I worry about my subjective evaluation of my own performance.
I’ve been rewriting Hel’s Bet painfully slowly for months with very little feedback, worried that I’ve been writing crap and thinking it’s chocolate mousse.
Initial critical responses to the first 50 rewritten pages are reassuring(!) I am a happy boyo.
I just got back from a walk to my dock. This is the type of stuff I have to put up with around here:
I love my little slice of planet Earth.
My horrible dogs Travis and Mika have beautiful brown eyes.
I am making slow progress on Hel’s Bet. Hel’s Bet is fundamentally upbeat and optimistic and I have to feel good when I write. My brainrot is acting up this Winter and so I spend a lot of time resting and reading. I have lived through many years when I couldn’t write at all so I am grateful for every sentence I write.
I am going to bounce the first rewritten chapters off my writing group tomorrow night. The weatherputer is predicting 5-8 inches of snow tomorrow so I am going to fire up my woodstove, stay snug inside, and write up a storm.
I love my daily walks but when I am this sick they exhaust me. I’m going to skip our walk tomorrow. The dogs won’t like that one bit.
We got some great candidates for both producer and programmer so I shut down recruiting. We are going to take our time talking to them and deciding. I look forward to introducing the new ChipWits team.
Having these great candidates takes a huge weight off my shoulders because I know ChipWits is going to be in good hands.
The last few days have been productive for the Hel’s Bet rewrite. I am reading through a paper prinout – 650 pages! – with a red pen scribbling edits. I’m cutting a lot of dross, which feels great.
The Pad is now snowlocked for the winter! I tried to get up the snow-packed hill once too often:
Brook helped me haul the car out and suggested I might want to give up on the hill for the season.
Good call. Part of the fun of living at The Pad is getting snow-locked and sledging in supplies and sledging out laundry and trash.
I got a great new sledge this year:
It’s deeper and sturdier than my orange sledge from last winter.
I buckled my belly band to my waist and let the dogs out the gate:
It’s 200 yards to the car:
When I got back from my laundry run I took the dogs for a walk:
Ogre Island looked grim:
I love my little slice of Earth.
Best wishes for a great 2009 from Doug Sharp.
2008 was a year of ups and downs. My health was down but my friends kept me going. Thanks, all.
Happy New Years from Mika, here waiting for me to leash her up for a walk. She will never understand why humans don’t walk dogs every waking hour.
Happy Hogmanay from Travis, waiting for me to open the gate so he can terrify small furry creatures. A walk is like a video game for Travis – chipmunks and squirrels and rabbits hiding and squeaking and running away. It’s a game he was evolved to play.
The three of us hard at work while a blizzard rages outside.
I am determined to rock 2009!
Janice Hardy, one of the members of my writing group Written in Blood, just sold her first book, and by first book I mean trilogy.
From Publisher’s Marketplace:
“Janice Hardy’s debut fantasy trilogy beginning with THE PAIN MERCHANTS, about a teen war orphan who becomes a pawn in a bigger political game when her uncanny ability to heal by drawing pain turns out to be the only weapon she has to save her sister, to Donna Bray at Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins for their launch list, in a very good deal, in a pre-empt, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (world English).”
I joined the writing group after they critted Janice’s book, so I look forward to reading it/them.
Janice had some kind and astute things to say about Hel’s Bet when the group critted it last month. HB is going to be a much better book after the next rewrite.
I’ve been a blog bum because of ChipWits. Margaret and I are working hard to get it out the door in July. It’s looking good but the endgame of getting a game out the door is always grueling.
I’ve put every scrap of my energy into ChipWits.
Yesterday I sent out 9 query emails to agents. Within 2 hours I got a request for a partial manuscript of Hel’s Bet from Shawna McCarthy, one of the top 10 speculative fiction agents. I am euphoric. One more step toward publication (he said optimistically). She said, “Your work sounds interesting and I’d be happy to look at the first three chapters and synopsis.”
So I am taking the weekend off from programming to write a synopsis. I’m such a neophyte in the book-pimping game that I don’t have one ready to go. So I’ve spent the morning reading online “How to write the magical synopsis” articles. Hook the reader, tell your whole story, third person present tense, compress but keep it flowing. It’s the major sales tool in getting an agent.
Getting asked for a partial ms. is a big step, especially from such a prominent agent (Ms. McCarthy is also Editor of Realms of Fantasy magazine ) . It certainly validates my query letter.
Off to synopsize.
I am writing from Cafe Wren in Luck, Wisconsin. I just sent an agent a query letter for Hel’s Bet. Thanks to all who gave me advice.
Hel’s Bet is a fast-paced alternate history of the present. The heroes of Hel’s Bet steal the prototype American space shuttle Enterprise, smuggle it into Russia, and blast into space on an embezzled Energia rocket. NASA launches a mission to hunt them down. The crew think they are launching Channel Zilch – a pirate video space station – but once in orbit the real agenda emerges: to kickstart the Singularity..
Heloise Chin is the hardware tech and brains behind the mission. Hel has engineered herself to be The Pinup Grrrl for the Geek Rapture. She dresses like a centerfold for Wired magazine, runs multiple streams of consciousness, and toys with young men’s psyches. She calls it testosterone surfing. Hel bets her life to midwife the Singularity because she loves her disabled brother.
Heloise broadcasts her singular image to hype her message, an upgraded Pascal’s Wager, Hel’s Bet: “Work for the Singularity to increase your odds of living indefinitely. Don’t bother if you have a taste for dirt.”
HB features a shootout between robots and Russian gangsters, a clandestine Singularity group called The Choir Invisible, and Merzifon Karabuk – a billionaire Turkish Trekkie. The crew’s nemesis is head of NASA security, a washed-out astronaut with a Green Beret complex and a streak of cannibalism.
I am a computer game developer currently reviving my classic game ChipWits: www.chipwits.com . I wrote the hit game King of Chicago (Cinemaware, 1987), a pioneering work of interactive narrative about which I lectured at the 1995 Stanford Symposium of the American Artificial Intelligence Society: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/3.09/interactive.html?pg=4&topic . I was a programmer/manager in Microsoft Research’s Virtual Worlds Group. My next game is GODinabox: Desktop Digital Deities in collaboration with Bobby Henderson, creator of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: www.godinabox.com .
I’m a hardcore geek but I’ve also taught 5th grade, built and crashed a hang glider, and studied Joyce at Oxford, writing at Clarion West. I live in a cabin on a remote Wisconsin lake.
I’d love to work with you.
I just had my Winter’s supply of propane delivered – 4 100-gallon cannisters. Earlier in the week I got my Winter firewood delivered – 3 face cords. The wood truck dumps the logs in a huge pile and I’ll spend the next couple of days stacking them under my firewood shelters beside the house. I hauled and stacked 112 logs yesterday and aim to stack over 100 per day.
Feels great to have the Winter’s warmth taken care of.
We’ve been getting deluged by storm after storm. The lake is up 18 inches from its Summer low. Still have another 18 inches to go to reach last year’s level.
I waited too long to post last week’s contest so I am going to try again tonight. My Mac is crashing randomly so I haven’t been able to test the Mac build well.
Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my disability. Ten years ago I was having a blast as the demo god for Microsoft Research’s Virtual Worlds group. I worked with artists, coders, musicians, interns putting together and running demos of our cool Virtual Worlds tech. On Oct 17th, 1997 I realized that my seizures were coming back so often that I could no longer work. I remember sitting in my office going over and over again how frequently my seizures were hitting me. The real test was that I was not producing. Every time I sat down to code my seizures hit me and I shied away.
My seizures are not grand mal – I don’t pass out. They involve chest pain, confusion with language, static in my thinking, free-floating pain, and at their worst uncontrollable twitching and verbalization.
Over the last 10 years I hit some pretty low lows as the pain became overwhelming. Talking with interesting people about fun stuff became impossible. I bought my cabin as a refuge for healing and it has worked. I am rebuilding my ability to work. I am still very slow and find it impossible to hit deadlines because I still have small seizures when I work hard and have to spend many days resting. But I am on my way back! That’s the great news after 10 hard years.
And as part of my return to the Doug of yesterday I have written an agent query letter for Hel’s Bet. I’ve sent it to friends, Clarion colleagues, and Paul Park and received some great input. Paul Park has promised to get back to me this week with comments and as soon as I incorporate his input I’ll send off the query.
So on my 10th anniversary of a sad, sad day I am nearing completion of ChipWits and am just about to start hawking my completed novel. What a great feeling.
And it feels great to know I won’t freeze to death this Winter.
My request in the Singularity listserv for readers for Hel’s Bet paid off. Three people read the chapters I posted at helsbet.com and then emailed me asking for the whole manuscript. It’s nice to have people who aren’t friends read the book and give me feedback.
After the Oct 1 deadline for ChipWits I’m going to get myself a good agent and get Hel’s Bet published. I feel good about it.