No-Prize giveaway!

While fixing up my stories for publication, I would read from numerous sources about the importance of a developmental editor to strengthen if not fix up plots. An author is so close to his work that basic stuff tends to get overlooked, no matter how many times he reads it.

Well, I ended up not hiring a developmental editor. They cost a lot of money. I had to make up for this unwillingness to spend, by being more careful in my editing. And sure enough, the more I read, the more holes and inconsistencies I found. The process seemed without end.

I want YOU

Even to this day, having published the stuff for all to see, I don’t know what continuity problems remain. I personally don’t care much about plot in a story, at least not as much as the saying of real things, but of course I’m wary of glaring errors.

This is why I’m offering a No-Prize to readers who can spot such errors. I don’t mean stuff like “That’s far-fetched!” because far-fetchedness is rather the point of telling stories if anything. What merits a No-Prize is an observation like “He did this earlier, how could he be doing that later?” or “I thought you said he was x years old, but why’s he a teenager x years later?” You know, stuff like that.

And if you can provide a reasonable good explanation for whatever error you spot, you get TWO No-Prizes!

But…

Small print in regular size: If you want to get your No-Prize, but don’t know what it is, better read about it so you don’t feel too ripped off afterwards. Basically, it was offered by Stan Lee (the person I most want a selfie with) to readers who wrote letters to the editor about mistakes in a Marvel Comics issue. It is deceptively literal.


My books are available on Amazon, here and here. If you’re intent on winning a No-Prize but won’t shell out for it, write me for free copies, and nitpick away! Although I’m the final judge on whether something warrants a No-Prize, at the very least, you’ll get to read for free.

How I got on Spotify

Ever since I started using Spotify two years ago, I’ve wanted to feature myself on it. And what musician wouldn’t want that, other than Taylor Swift? Spotify is one of the biggest music providers at present, and it’s surely the number one source of music in my social circle.

My first attempt to get on Spotify was simply to upload files from my computer and save them as a playlist. Which allows only me, and only from that computer, to access my music. So that didn’t work. Spotify is smart enough to know the massive number of copyright violations that would result from that manner of uploading ‘original music.’ Many a website and application has closed on account of such loose regulations.

But when I looked at Spotify Artists, I realized it was much simpler than I was worried about. There’s no need for expensive copyright registration or other bureaucratic red tape. You simply need to first upload your music to an online music label. Spotify gives several choices. I myself chose Tunecore, because a) it was first in the list, and b) the price of $30 an album for the first year is rather reasonable.

Yes, you’ll have to pay a certain amount for the privilege of having anyone in the world being able to listen to your music for next to free. But then, if your music becomes popular, your initial investment will be more than worth it. Whatever royalties are to be collected will be done so through the label you choose.

itunes-convertUsing Tunecore to upload music was easy. You just have to upload using the proper format – 16-bit .wav files at 1,411 kbps; iTunes has a pretty good converter for this.

I don’t have too high hopes, at least not in the near future, to make money on Spotify, or iTunes, or whatever app in which my music is featured. I’m just too happy to have my life’s most sublime achievements out there. Plus, I have the hope that my use of ‘Paul’s purpose’ as an album title will somehow direct people to this site (“What is this ‘Paul’s purpose’ anyway? Let’s google it. Hey, he writes books too! Hey, one of them’s free!”).


Related article: 
Paul’s purpose on Spotify

Paul’s Purpose – The new ‘New Testament’?!

I didn’t plan it while writing my stories, but much of what I say in them seems to fit with the message of the Gospel. I don’t mean in a “Repent for the end is near” way, but rather, there is a constant theme of solace and discovery of meaning in one’s personal trials.

In ‘Open secrets,’ Alia, a Mary Magdalene type of character, keeps her past hidden from Stu, but hints of having once had a revelation that continues to influence her decisions. In ‘Dumbest President Ever,’ the ever-pathetic Eowyn never seems to get a break, even as the most powerful official in the land, but it’s not all bad. And most explicitly, in ‘Christ is for losers,’ DJ Den Morisen recounts his drunken night involving a ceremony of sorts.

I seem to be saying that the particular manner of an individual’s isolation or suffering isn’t so important as one’s salvation from it. And if this is all reduced to a defense mechanism of the weak, one can’t do anything else anyway.


You don’t have to be a Jesus freak to enjoy my short-story collections, which are as irreverent as they are solemn. Available on Amazon, here and here.

Paul’s Purpose on Spotify

Paul’s purpose,’ the album I just released, is two hours and 23 minutes of the best musicmaking of my life. The melodies are often conventionally pop, but the recording and editing processes are more akin to jazz, where I take the best parts from long takes.

Music plays a big role in a lot of my stories. In ‘Philosopher-king,’ the music that society listens to is determined by elites, wherein ‘lower’ forms of music are prohibited. In ‘God at last,’ a future composer seeks to get over his love of Bach so as to surpass the greatest music the world has yet known. And in the stories that feature Megan McCall, ‘Asian Queen of Country,’ two of which I include in my collection ‘Be kind to puns,’ much of what I think of the music industry and musicianship comes out.

These are just a few examples of music as used in my stories. It’s no wonder then that it means so much to me in ‘real’ life, and that I fancy myself a musician of sorts, albeit a mere dilettante.

About the album

Because I play lead guitar, and because of the length of my compositions – the tracks on ‘Paul’s purpose’ are 13 minutes on average – I guess it’s easy to write the whole thing off as self-indulgent soloing, even though only two of the tracks – ‘Midnight at twilight’ and ‘Persecuted bandwagon’ – are what might be considered showcases. I’ve also come to dislike and shun distortion, an element that facilitates what guitarists call ‘wanking.’

The most important thing to me is melody that comes from the heart, things that touch me immediately regardless of who did what and with whatever skill level. I joke, mostly to myself, that I aspire to be the Kenny G of guitar.

My favorite tracks are:
– ‘Hoping I don’t, wishing I do
– ‘Different languages for different folks
– ‘Wala

If you want to listen to the album and find two and a half hours daunting, you might want to start with these three.

Creativity is a state of mind, not the product

However you judge the quality of my music and stories, my multiple passions show that the creative state of mind is its own justification. Specific products are mere manifestations of such creativity, depending on technical training.

Children should be nurtured in a way that encourages creativity, not because of financial reward or pride in coming up with ‘something cool,’ but because the immediate experience of art is the closest thing to the meaning of life.


My short-story collections are on Amazon. Here and here. Care to read my stories for free? Drop me a line.

Losing the agenda

From July 2015 to March 2016, I managed to write 200 stories, more or less one story a day. At the time, I just wanted to set down the many crazy ideas I had, without much thought of the final product. It is only in hindsight that I see a progression in the manner of my writing.

Whereas the earlier stories read more like things that I wanted to say, the later ones don’t seem to be trying to say anything in particular. Whatever values I hold are reflected only when taking into account the story as a whole, as opposed to any single voice.

Now I see what was most important about the past year’s writing project: I lost my agenda. Previously, I’d attempted to put down my grand visions of the time, and with such an end in sight, the resulting effort came across clunky and contrived, if not manipulative. I suppose that this time around, it was the focus on the habit or process of writing, as opposed to the goal of changing the world, that made for a difference.

Is ‘losing the agenda’ valuable only in fiction, as opposed to nonfiction? I thought so at first, but when I recall the times in conversation that I’d tried changing the other person’s beliefs, as opposed to making clear another point of view (mine), I was met with understandable defensiveness if not resentment. Even when writing essays, focus is just as important as substance.

Has my writing actually improved since before writing the 200 stories? I’d like to think so. I don’t get bogged down as much in irrelevant technical explanations inserted in the text just because it seems ‘important’ to mention. To the degree that I’ve been detached from an agenda, I’ve been better at making characters’ voices distinct from one another. They sound less like my mouthpieces.

Maybe more importantly, expressing diverse viewpoints has been a means of forgiveness, of others, and of myself. The struggle isn’t over; there is always something more to say.

10 favorite scenes from ‘The wire’

The more I watch ‘The wire,’ the more I’m impressed aesthetically, and the more insightful its social commentary appears. David Simon got in the heads of his characters – and there are hundreds of them – better than any other writer did, in any medium. And the show’s sense of humor is unrivaled by any other non-sitcom. The following scenes, to me, are most revealing of the brilliance of ‘The wire.’ It’s difficult to arrange the scenes in order of greatness, so I don’t bother.

  1. Bunk tells off Omar

“All this death, you don’t think that ripples out? You don’t even know what the fuck I’m talking about.” Omar’s eventual fate is hinted at in this beautiful scene. While Omar remains one of the coolest characters in television history, his moral reasoning – of seemingly only preying on ‘players’ – is ultimately flawed.

  1. Cutty leaves the game

After a brief encounter with his old lifestyle, newly-released ex-convict Cutty realizes that his heart is no longer into the game. And Avon Barksdale is left in admiration.

  1. Slim consoles Avon

The above heading is a joke of sorts. Slim was giving more of a pep talk to get Avon back into fighting mode, after the death of another member of the organization. War is not about right or wrong, but life or death. Loyalty is such a premium commodity in the game because you need trust in one another to survive.

  1. Snoop buys a nail gun

Snoop was as funny as her scariness allowed it. Amusing in this scene is the varying facial expressions of the store clerk as Snoop goes on with her murderous tale.

  1. Carver, McNulty hang out with Bodie

It was only on my third viewing of the fourth-season premiere that I came to appreciate Carver for the sympathetic and effective cop he became. In the beginning of the show, Carver was no different than his best pal in the unit, the all-muscle, no-brains Herc. But the ‘Hamsterdam’ experience of season three opened Carver’s eyes to a different approach to communicating with the corner kids in contrast to the usual street nabs. In this easy-to-overlook scene, he bonds with Bodie, Lex, and Kevin through light-hearted ball-busting (“Just words”), thus investing in long-term information extraction. Because, “Bust every head, who you gonna talk to when the shit happens?”

A bonus is McNulty coming in to join in the fun with praise for Bodie’s natural smarts, and Caliccio being a typical asshole.

  1. Omar in jail

The best scenes of ‘The wire’ were usually non-action ones, but Omar’s stay in jail is an exception. You could see the overwhelming fear on Omar’s face when left alone, but when it came down to defending himself, he acted very deliberately and left a great impression on the other inmates.

  1. Omar visits Proposition Joe

The best thing about the scene is Proposition Joe’s speech. It was like David Simon used Joe as a mouthpiece for all the brilliant metaphors he could think a thug would say, and this is just one of many shows of eloquence that makes Joe my favorite of the mob leaders.

  1. Freamon finds the bodies

Lester Freamon is a favorite cop of mine on the show, along with Colvin and, more recently, Carver. On little more than somewhat of a side comment by his intellectual opposite Herc, Freamon solves the case of the missing bodies hounding the homicide division for a year. Bunk, unable to keep up, needs some time to take the whole thing in, before uttering the last words of the episode: “Fuck me.”

  1. Omar takes on Slim

The scene displays Slim’s ready-to-die warrior mentality, and Omar’s recognition and respect for that, and for Slim’s tight logic.

  1. Bubbles speaks out about Sherrod

You root for Bubbles through all his fuck-ups, and this scene appears to be a new beginning for him, after a long adulthood of addiction and petty thievery.

*

Another viewing and I might be more inclined to favor other scenes. There is an element of subjectivity to this, after all. Hell, after making this list, it occurs to me that I forgot Bunny Colvin’s great paper bag speech, which should be up there! Probably replacing Omar’s visit to Joe. You may notice that I give little attention to seasons one and two, which I love too. But single scenes do not a show make, anyway.

Still, I’d give honorable mention to:

McNulty and Bunk interrogating D’Angelo – Police work is a dirty job, when you consider the need to take advantage of a criminal’s good side to outsmart them; and

Rawls consoling McNulty – Rawls dishes out the worst insults to a guilty, helpless McNulty, whom he detests. Which is actually a rare display of kindness from Rawls.

Plus, there are the popular ‘chess’ and ‘fuck’ scenes which are just a little too contrived for me, but are still very entertaining. Also, as much as I hate watching violence, characters’ deaths were done very classily, and were insightful of the characters involved.

I love watching shows, and of all the shows to name the best-ever, I would nominate ‘The wire.’

My books are LIVE!

If you found my site through an Amazon link, welcome to my site and thanks for reading. I suggest you join my mailing list, where I will be focusing on book updates.

This blog, on the other hand, is more varied in subject, where I plan to talk about stuff that I’m a fan of, and any random things on my mind really.